— The bard's fellowcountrymen, John Eglinton answered, are rather tired perhaps of our brilliancies of theorising. I hear that an actress played Hamlet for the fourhundredandeighth time last night in Dublin. Vining held that the prince was a woman. Has no-one made him out to be an Irishman? Judge Barton, I believe, is searching for some clues. He swears (His Highness not His Lordship) by saint Patrick.
— The most brilliant of all is that story of Wilde's, Mr Best said, lifting his brilliant notebook. That Portrait of Mr W. H. where he proves that the sonnets were written by a Willie Hughes, a man all hues.
— For Willie Hughes, is it not? the quaker librarian asked.
Or Hughie Wills? Mr William Himself. W. H.: who am I?
— I mean, for Willie Hughes, Mr Best said, amending his gloss easily. Of course it's all paradox, don't you know, Hughes and hews and hues, the colour, but it's so typical the way he works it out. It's the very essence of Wilde, don't you know. The light touch.
His glance touched their faces lightly as he smiled, a blond ephebe. Tame essence of Wilde.
You're darned witty. Three drams of usquebaugh you drank with Dan Deasy's ducats.
How much did I spend? O, a few shillings.
For a plump of pressmen. Humour wet and dry.
Wit. You would give your five wits for youth's proud livery he pranks in. Lineaments of gratified desire.
There be many mo. Take her for me. In pairing time. Jove, a cool ruttime send them. Yea, turtledove her.
Eve. Naked wheatbellied sin. A snake coils her, fang in's kiss.
— Do you think it is only a paradox? the quaker librarian was asking. The mocker is never taken seriously when he is most serious.
They talked seriously of mocker's seriousness.
Buck Mulligan's again heavy face eyed Stephen awhile. Then, his head wagging, he came near, drew a folded telegram from his pocket. His mobile lips read, smiling with new delight.
— Telegram! he said. Wonderful inspiration! Telegram! A papal bull!
He sat on a corner of the unlit desk, reading aloud joyfully:
— The sentimentalist is he who would enjoy without incurring the immense debtorship for a thing done. Signed: Dedalus. Where did you launch it from? The kips? No. College Green. Have you drunk the four quid? The aunt is going to call on your unsubstantial father. Telegram! Malachi Mulligan, The Ship, lower Abbey street. O, you peerless mummer! O, you priestified Kinchite!
Joyfully he thrust message and envelope into a pocket but keened in a querulous brogue:
— It's what I'm telling you, mister honey, it's queer and sick we were, Haines and myself, the time himself brought it in. 'Twas murmur we did for a gallus potion would rouse a friar, I'm thinking, and he limp with leching. And we one hour and two hours and three hours in Connery's sitting civil waiting for pints apiece.
— And we to be there, mavrone, and you to be unbeknownst sending us your conglomerations the way we to have our tongues out a yard long like the drouthy clerics do be fainting for a pussful.
Quickly, warningfully Buck Mulligan bent down.
— The tramper Synge is looking for you, he said, to murder you. He heard you pissed on his halldoor in Glasthule. He's out in pampooties to murder you.
— Me! Stephen exclaimed. That was your contribution to literature.
Buck Mulligan gleefully bent back, laughing to the dark eavesdropping ceiling.
— Murder you! he laughed.
Harsh gargoyle face that warred against me over our mess of hash of lights in rue Saint-Andre-des-Arts. In words of words for words, palabras. Oisin with Patrick. Faunman he met in Clamart woods, brandishing a winebottle. C'est vendredi saint! Murthering Irish. His image, wandering, he met. I mine. I met a fool i'the forest.
— Mr Lyster, an attendant said from the door ajar.
— . . . in which everyone can find his own. So Mr Justice Madden in his Diary of Master William Silence has found the hunting terms . . . Yes? What is it?
— There's a gentleman here, sir, the attendant said, coming forward and offering a card. From the Freeman. He wants to see the files of the Kilkenny People for last year.
— Certainly, certainly, certainly. Is the gentleman? . . .
He took the eager card, glanced, not saw, laid down unglanced, looked, asked, creaked, asked:
— Is he? . . . O, there!
Brisk in a galliard he was off, out. In the daylit corridor he talked with voluble pains of zeal, in duty bound, most fair, most kind, most honest broadbrim.
— This gentleman? Freeman's Journal? Kilkenny People? To be sure. Good day, sir. Kilkenny . . . We have certainly . . .
A patient silhouette waited, listening.
— All the leading provincial . . . Northern Whig, Cork Examiner, Enniscorthy Guardian, 1903 . . . Will you please? . . . Evans, conduct this gentleman . . . If you just follow the atten . . . Or, please allow me . . . This way . . . Please, sir . . .
Voluble, dutiful, he led the way to all the provincial papers, a bowing dark figure following his hasty heels.
The door closed.
— The sheeny! Buck Mulligan cried.
He jumped up and snatched the card.
— What's his name? Ikey Moses? Bloom.
He rattled on:
— Jehovah, collector of prepuces, is no more. I found him over in the museum where I went to hail the foamborn Aphrodite. The Greek mouth that has never been twisted in prayer. Every day we must do homage to her. Life of life, thy lips enkindle.
Suddenly he turned to Stephen:
— He knows you. He knows your old fellow. O, I fear me, he is Greeker than the Greeks. His pale Galilean eyes were upon her mesial groove. Venus Kallipyge. O, the thunder of those loins! The god pursuing the maiden hid.
— We want to hear more, John Eglinton decided with Mr Best's approval. We begin to be interested in Mrs S. Till now we had thought of her, if at all, as a patient Griselda, a Penelope stayathome.
— Antisthenes, pupil of Gorgias, Stephen said, took the palm of beauty from Kyrios Menelaus' brooddam, Argive Helen, the wooden mare of Troy in whom a score of heroes slept, and handed it to poor Penelope. Twenty years he lived in London and, during part of that time, he drew a salary equal to that of the lord chancellor of Ireland. His life was rich. His art, more than the art of feudalism as Walt Whitman called it, is the art of surfeit. Hot herringpies, green mugs of sack, honeysauces, sugar of roses, marchpane, gooseberried pigeons, ringocandies. Sir Walter Raleigh, when they arrested him, had half a million francs on his back including a pair of fancy stays. The gombeenwoman Eliza Tudor had underlinen enough to vie with her of Sheba. Twenty years he dallied there between conjugial love and its chaste delights and scortatory love and its foul pleasures. You know Manningham's story of the burgher's wife who bade Dick Burbage to her bed after she had seen him in Richard III and how Shakespeare, overhearing, without more ado about nothing, took the cow by the horns and, when Burbage came knocking at the gate, answered from the capon's blankets: William the conqueror came before Richard III. And the gay lakin, mistress Fitton, mount and cry O, and his dainty birdsnies, lady Penelope Rich, a clean quality woman is suited for a player, and the punks of the bankside, a penny a time.
Cours la Reine. Encore vingt sous. Nous ferons de petites cochonneries. Minette? Tu veux?