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Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead,
bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay
crossed. A yellow dressinggown, ungirdled, was sustained
gently behind him on the mild morning air. He held the
bowl aloft and intoned:
—Introibo ad altare Dei.
Halted, he peered down the dark winding stairs and
called out coarsely:
—Come up, Kinch! Come up, you fearful jesuit!
Solemnly he came forward and mounted the round
gunrest. He faced about and blessed gravely thrice the
tower, the surrounding land and the awaking mountains.
Then, catching sight of Stephen Dedalus, he bent towards
him and made rapid crosses in the air, gurgling in his
throat and shaking his head. Stephen Dedalus, displeased
and sleepy, leaned his arms on the top of the staircase and
looked coldly at the shaking gurgling face that blessed him,
equine in its length, and at the light untonsured hair,
grained and hued like pale oak.
Buck Mulligan peeped an instant under the mirror and
then covered the bowl smartly.
—Back to barracks! he said sternly.
—For this, O dearly beloved, is the genuine Christine:
body and soul and blood and ouns. Slow music, please.
Shut your eyes, gents. One moment. A little trouble about
those white corpuscles. Silence, all.
He peered sideways up and gave a long slow whistle of
call, then paused awhile in rapt attention, his even white
teeth glistening here and there with gold points.
Chrysostomos. Two strong shrill whistles answered
through the calm.
—Thanks, old chap, he cried briskly. That will do
nicely. Switch off the current, will you?
He skipped off the gunrest and looked gravely at his
watcher, gathering about his legs the loose folds of his
gown. The plump shadowed face and sullen oval jowl
recalled a prelate, patron of arts in the middle ages. A
pleasant smile broke quietly over his lips.
—The mockery of it! he said gaily. Your absurd name,
an ancient Greek!
He pointed his finger in friendly jest and went over to
the parapet, laughing to himself. Stephen Dedalus stepped
up, followed him wearily halfway and sat down on the
edge of the gunrest, watching him still as he propped his
mirror on the parapet, dipped the brush in the bowl and
Buck Mulligan’s gay voice went on.
—My name is absurd too: Malachi Mulligan, two
dactyls. But it has a Hellenic ring, hasn’t it? Tripping and
sunny like the buck himself. We must go to Athens. Will
you come if I can get the aunt to fork out twenty quid?
He laid the brush aside and, laughing with delight,
Ceasing, he began to shave with care.
—Tell me, Mulligan, Stephen said quietly.
—Yes, my love?
—How long is Haines going to stay in this tower?
Buck Mulligan showed a shaven cheek over his right
—God, isn’t he dreadful? he said frankly. A ponderous
Saxon. He thinks you’re not a gentleman. God, these
bloody English! Bursting with money and indigestion.
Because he comes from Oxford. You know, Dedalus, you
have the real Oxford manner. He can’t make you out. O,
my name for you is the best: Kinch, the knife-blade.
He shaved warily over his chin.
—He was raving all night about a black panther,
—A woful lunatic! Mulligan said. Were you in a funk?
—I was, Stephen said with energy and growing fear.
Out here in the dark with a man I don’t know raving and
moaning to himself about shooting a black panther. You
saved men from drowning. I’m not a hero, however. If he
stays on here I am off.
Buck Mulligan frowned at the lather on his razorblade.
He hopped down from his perch and began to search his
trouser pockets hastily.
—Scutter! he cried thickly.
He came over to the gunrest and, thrusting a hand into
Stephen’s upper pocket, said:
—Lend us a loan of your noserag to wipe my razor.
Stephen suffered him to pull out and hold up on show
by its corner a dirty crumpled handkerchief. Buck
Mulligan wiped the razorblade neatly. Then, gazing over
the handkerchief, he said:
—The bard’s noserag! A new art colour for our Irish
poets: snotgreen. You can almost taste it, can’t you?
He mounted to the parapet again and gazed out over
Dublin bay, his fair oakpale hair stirring slightly.