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James Joyce 














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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. 

He added in a preacher’s tone: 

—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 

lathered cheeks and neck. 

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, 


—Will he come? The jejune jesuit! 

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

Stephen said. Where is his guncase? 

—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. 

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