A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce - HTML preview
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Uncle Charles smoked such black twist that at last his nephew suggested to him to enjoy his morning smoke in a little
outhouse at the end of the garden.
—Very good, Simon. All serene, Simon, said the old man tranquilly. Anywhere you like. The outhouse will do me nicely:
it will be more salubrious.
—Damn me, said Mr Dedalus frankly, if I know how you can smoke such villainous awful tobacco. It’s like gunpowder,
—It’s very nice, Simon, replied the old man. Very cool and mollifying.
Every morning, therefore, uncle Charles repaired to his outhouse but not before he had greased and brushed
scrupulously his back hair and brushed and put on his tall hat. While he smoked the brim of his tall hat and the bowl of
his pipe were just visible beyond the jambs of the outhouse door. His arbour, as he called the reeking outhouse which he
shared with the cat and the garden tools, served him also as a sounding–box: and every morning he hummed
contentedly one of his favourite songs: O, TWINE ME A BOWER or BLUE EYES AND GOLDEN HAIR or THE GROVES
OF BLARNEY while the grey and blue coils of smoke rose slowly from his pipe and vanished in the pure air.
During the first part of the summer in Blackrock uncle Charles was Stephen’s constant companion. Uncle Charles was
a hale old man with a well tanned skin, rugged features and white side whiskers. On week days he did messages
between the house in Carysfort Avenue and those shops in the main street of the town with which the family dealt.
Stephen was glad to go with him on these errands for uncle Charles helped him very liberally to handfuls of whatever
was exposed in open boxes and barrels outside the counter. He would seize a handful of grapes and sawdust or three or
four American apples and thrust them generously into his grandnephew’s hand while the shopman smiled uneasily; and,
on Stephen’s feigning reluctance to take them, he would frown and say:
—Take them, sir. Do you hear me, sir? They’re good for your bowels.
When the order list had been booked the two would go on to the park where an old friend of Stephen’s father, Mike
Flynn, would be found seated on a bench, waiting for them. Then would begin Stephen’s run round the park. Mike Flynn
would stand at the gate near the railway station, watch in hand, while Stephen ran round the track in the style Mike Flynn
favoured, his head high lifted, his knees well lifted and his hands held straight down by his sides. When the morning
practice was over the trainer would make his comments and sometimes illustrate them by shuffling along for a yard or so
comically in an old pair of blue canvas shoes. A small ring of wonderstruck children and nursemaids would gather to
watch him and linger even when he and uncle Charles had sat down again and were talking athletics and politics.
Though he had heard his father say that Mike Flynn had put some of the best runners of modern times through his hands
Stephen often glanced at his trainer’s flabby stubble–covered face, as it bent over the long stained fingers through which
he rolled his cigarette, and with pity at the mild lustreless blue eyes which would look up suddenly from the task and gaze
vaguely into the blue distance while the long swollen fingers ceased their rolling and grains and fibres of tobacco fell
back into the pouch.
On the way home uncle Charles would often pay a visit to the chapel and, as the font was above Stephen’s reach, the
old man would dip his hand and then sprinkle the water briskly about Stephen’s clothes and on the floor of the porch.
While he prayed he knelt on his red handkerchief and read above his breath from a thumb blackened prayer book
wherein catchwords were printed at the foot of every page. Stephen knelt at his side respecting, though he did not share,
his piety. He often wondered what his grand–uncle prayed for so seriously. Perhaps he prayed for the souls in purgatory
or for the grace of a happy death or perhaps he prayed that God might send him back a part of the big fortune he had
squandered in Cork.
On Sundays Stephen with his father and his grand–uncle took their constitutional. The old man was a nimble walker in
spite of his corns and often ten or twelve miles of the road were covered. The little village of Stillorgan was the parting of
the ways. Either they went to the left towards the Dublin mountains or along the Goatstown road and thence into
Dundrum, coming home by Sandyford. Trudging along the road or standing in some grimy wayside public house his
elders spoke constantly of the subjects nearer their hearts, of Irish politics, of Munster and of the legends of their own
family, to all of which Stephen lent an avid ear. Words which he did not understand he said over and over to himself till
he had learnt them by heart: and through them he had glimpses of the real world about them. The hour when he too
would take part in the life of that world seemed drawing near and in secret he began to make ready for the great part
which he felt awaited him the nature of which he only dimly apprehended.
His evenings were his own; and he pored over a ragged translation of THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO. The figure
of that dark avenger stood forth in his mind for whatever he had heard or divined in childhood of the strange and terrible.
At night he built up on the parlour table an image of the wonderful island cave out of transfers and paper flowers and
coloured tissue paper and strips of the silver and golden paper in which chocolate is wrapped. When he had broken up
this scenery, weary of its tinsel, there would come to his mind the bright picture of Marseille, of sunny trellises, and of
Outside Blackrock, on the road that led to the mountains, stood a small whitewashed house in the garden of which
grew many rosebushes: and in this house, he told himself, another Mercedes lived. Both on the outward and on the
homeward journey he measured distance by this landmark: and in his imagination he lived through a long train of
adventures, marvellous as those in the book itself, towards the close of which there appeared an image of himself, grown
older and sadder, standing in a moonlit garden with Mercedes who had so many years before slighted his love, and with
a sadly proud gesture of refusal, saying:
—Madam, I never eat muscatel grapes.
He became the ally of a boy named Aubrey Mills and founded with him a gang of adventurers in the avenue. Aubrey
carried a whistle dangling from his buttonhole and a bicycle lamp attached to his belt while the others had short sticks
thrust daggerwise through theirs. Stephen, who had read of Napoleon’s plain style of dress, chose to remain unadorned
and thereby heightened for himself the pleasure of taking counsel with his lieutenant before giving orders. The gang
made forays into the gardens of old maids or went down to the castle and fought a battle on the shaggy weed–grown
rocks, coming home after it weary stragglers with the stale odours of the foreshore in their nostrils and the rank oils of the
seawrack upon their hands and in their hair.
Aubrey and Stephen had a common milkman and often they drove out in the milk–car to Carrickmines where the cows
were at grass. While the men were milking the boys would take turns in riding the tractable mare round the field. But
when autumn came the cows were driven home from the grass: and the first sight of the filthy cowyard at Stradbrook with
its foul green puddles and clots of liquid dung and steaming bran troughs, sickened Stephen’s heart. The cattle which
had seemed so beautiful in the country on sunny days revolted him and he could not even look at the milk they yielded.
The coming of September did not trouble him this year for he was not to be sent back to Clongowes. The practice in
the park came to an end when Mike Flynn went into hospital. Aubrey was at school and had only an hour or two free in
the evening. The gang fell asunder and there were no more nightly forays or battles on the rocks. Stephen sometimes
went round with the car which delivered the evening milk and these chilly drives blew away his memory of the filth of the
cowyard and he felt no repugnance at seeing the cow hairs and hayseeds on the milkman’s coat. Whenever the car drew
up before a house he waited to catch a glimpse of a well scrubbed kitchen or of a softly lighted hall and to see how the
servant would hold the jug and how she would close the door. He thought it should be a pleasant life enough, driving
along the roads every evening to deliver milk, if he had warm gloves and a fat bag of gingernuts in his pocket to eat from.
But the same foreknowledge which had sickened his heart and made his legs sag suddenly as he raced round the park,
the same intuition which had made him glance with mistrust at his trainer’s flabby stubble–covered face as it bent heavily
over his long stained fingers, dissipated any vision of the future. In a vague way he understood that his father was in
trouble and that this was the reason why he himself had not been sent back to Clongowes. For some time he had felt the
slight change in his house; and those changes in what he had deemed unchangeable were so many slight shocks to his
boyish conception of the world. The ambition which he felt astir at times in the darkness of his soul sought no outlet. A
dusk like that of the outer world obscured his mind as he heard the mare’s hoofs clattering along the tramtrack on the
Rock Road and the great can swaying and rattling behind him.
He returned to Mercedes and, as he brooded upon her image, a strange unrest crept into his blood. Sometimes a fever
gathered within him and led him to rove alone in the evening along the quiet avenue. The peace of the gardens and the
kindly lights in the windows poured a tender influence into his restless heart. The noise of children at play annoyed him
and their silly voices made him feel, even more keenly than he had felt at Clongowes, that he was different from others.
He did not want to play. He wanted to meet in the real world the unsubstantial image which his soul so constantly beheld.
He did not know where to seek it or how, but a premonition which led him on told him that this image would, without any
overt act of his, encounter him. They would meet quietly as if they had known each other and had made their tryst,
perhaps at one of the gates or in some more secret place. They would be alone, surrounded by darkness and silence:
and in that moment of supreme tenderness he would be transfigured.
He would fade into something impalpable under her eyes and then in a moment he would be transfigured. Weakness
and timidity and inexperience would fall from him in that magic moment.
Two great yellow caravans had halted one morning before the door and men had come tramping into the house to
dismantle it. The furniture had been hustled out through the front garden which was strewn with wisps of straw and rope
ends and into the huge vans at the gate. When all had been safely stowed the vans had set off noisily down the avenue:
and from the window of the railway carriage, in which he had sat with his red–eyed mother, Stephen had seen them
lumbering along the Merrion Road.
The parlour fire would not draw that evening and Mr Dedalus rested the poker against the bars of the grate to attract
the flame. Uncle Charles dozed in a corner of the half furnished uncarpeted room and near him the family portraits
leaned against the wall. The lamp on the table shed a weak light over the boarded floor, muddied by the feet of the van–
men. Stephen sat on a footstool beside his father listening to a long and incoherent monologue. He understood little or
nothing of it at first but he became slowly aware that his father had enemies and that some fight was going to take place.
He felt, too, that he was being enlisted for the fight, that some duty was being laid upon his shoulders. The sudden flight
from the comfort and revery of Blackrock, the passage through the gloomy foggy city, the thought of the bare cheerless
house in which they were now to live made his heart heavy, and again an intuition, a foreknowledge of the future came to
him. He understood also why the servants had often whispered together in the hall and why his father had often stood on
the hearthrug with his back to the fire, talking loudly to uncle Charles who urged him to sit down and eat his dinner.
—There’s a crack of the whip left in me yet, Stephen, old chap, said Mr Dedalus, poking at the dull fire with fierce
energy. We’re not dead yet, sonny. No, by the Lord Jesus (God forgive me) not half dead.
Dublin was a new and complex sensation. Uncle Charles had grown so witless that he could no longer be sent out on
errands and the disorder in settling in the new house left Stephen freer than he had been in Blackrock. In the beginning
he contented himself with circling timidly round the neighbouring square or, at most, going half way down one of the side
streets but when he had made a skeleton map of the city in his mind he followed boldly one of its central lines until he
reached the customhouse. He passed unchallenged among the docks and along the quays wondering at the multitude of
corks that lay bobbing on the surface of the water in a thick yellow scum, at the crowds of quay porters and the rumbling
carts and the ill–dressed bearded policeman. The vastness and strangeness of the life suggested to him by the bales of
merchandise stocked along the walls or swung aloft out of the holds of steamers wakened again in him the unrest which
had sent him wandering in the evening from garden to garden in search of Mercedes. And amid this new bustling life he
might have fancied himself in another Marseille but that he missed the bright sky and the sum–warmed trellises of the
wineshops. A vague dissatisfaction grew up within him as he looked on the quays and on the river and on the lowering
skies and yet he continued to wander up and down day after day as if he really sought someone that eluded him.
He went once or twice with his mother to visit their relatives: and though they passed a jovial array of shops lit up and
adorned for Christmas his mood of embittered silence did not leave him. The causes of his embitterment were many,
remote and near. He was angry with himself for being young and the prey of restless foolish impulses, angry also with
the change of fortune which was reshaping the world about him into a vision of squalor and insincerity. Yet his anger lent
nothing to the vision. He chronicled with patience what he saw, detaching himself from it and tasting its mortifying flavour
He was sitting on the backless chair in his aunt’s kitchen. A lamp with a reflector hung on the japanned wall of the
fireplace and by its light his aunt was reading the evening paper that lay on her knees. She looked a long time at a
smiling picture that was set in it and said musingly:
—The beautiful Mabel Hunter!
A ringletted girl stood on tiptoe to peer at the picture and said softly:
—What is she in, mud?
—In a pantomime, love.
The child leaned her ringletted head against her mother’s sleeve, gazing on the picture, and murmured as if fascinated:
—The beautiful Mabel Hunter!
As if fascinated, her eyes rested long upon those demurely taunting eyes and she murmured devotedly:
—Isn’t she an exquisite creature?
And the boy who came in from the street, stamping crookedly under his stone of coal, heard her words. He dropped his
load promptly on the floor and hurried to her side to see. He mauled the edges of the paper with his reddened and
blackened hands, shouldering her aside and complaining that he could not see.
He was sitting in the narrow breakfast room high up in the old dark–windowed house. The firelight flickered on the wall
and beyond the window a spectral dusk was gathering upon the river. Before the fire an old woman was busy making tea
and, as she bustled at the task, she told in a low voice of what the priest and the doctor had said. She told too of certain
changes they had seen in her of late and of her odd ways and sayings. He sat listening to the words and following the
ways of adventure that lay open in the coals, arches and vaults and winding galleries and jagged caverns.
Suddenly he became aware of something in the doorway. A skull appeared suspended in the gloom of the doorway. A
feeble creature like a monkey was there, drawn thither by the sound of voices at the fire. A whining voice came from the
—Is that Josephine?
The old bustling woman answered cheerily from the fireplace:
—No, Ellen, it’s Stephen.
—O… O, good evening, Stephen.
He answered the greeting and saw a silly smile break over the face in the doorway.
—Do you want anything, Ellen? asked the old woman at the fire.
But she did not answer the question and said:
—I thought it was Josephine. I thought you were Josephine, Stephen.
And, repeating this several times, she fell to laughing feebly.
He was sitting in the midst of a children’s party at Harold’s Cross. His silent watchful manner had grown upon him and
he took little part in the games. The children, wearing the spoils of their crackers, danced and romped noisily and, though
he tried to share their merriment, he felt himself a gloomy figure amid the gay cocked hats and sunbonnets.
But when he had sung his song and withdrawn into a snug corner of the room he began to taste the joy of his
loneliness. The mirth, which in the beginning of the evening had seemed to him false and trivial, was like a soothing air to
him, passing gaily by his senses, hiding from other eyes the feverish agitation of his blood while through the circling of
the dancers and amid the music and laughter her glance travelled to his corner, flattering, taunting, searching, exciting
In the hall the children who had stayed latest were putting on their things: the party was over. She had thrown a shawl
about her and, as they went together towards the tram, sprays of her fresh warm breath flew gaily above her cowled
head and her shoes tapped blithely on the glassy road.
It was the last tram. The lank brown horses knew it and shook their bells to the clear night in admonition. The
conductor talked with the driver, both nodding often in the green light of the lamp. On the empty seats of the tram were
scattered a few coloured tickets. No sound of footsteps came up or down the road. No sound broke the peace of the
night save when the lank brown horses rubbed their noses together and shook their bells.
They seemed to listen, he on the upper step and she on the lower. She came up to his step many times and went down
to hers again between their phrases and once or twice stood close beside him for some moments on the upper step,
forgetting to go down, and then went down. His heart danced upon her movements like a cork upon a tide. He heard
what her eyes said to him from beneath their cowl and knew that in some dim past, whether in life or revery, he had
heard their tale before. He saw her urge her vanities, her fine dress and sash and long black stockings, and knew that he
had yielded to them a thousand times. Yet a voice within him spoke above the noise of his dancing heart, asking him
would he take her gift to which he had only to stretch out his hand. And he remembered the day when he and Eileen had
stood looking into the hotel grounds, watching the waiters running up a trail of bunting on the flagstaff and the fox terrier
scampering to and fro on the sunny lawn and how, all of a sudden, she had broken out into a peal of laughter and had
run down the sloping curve of the path. Now, as then, he stood listlessly in his place, seemingly a tranquil watcher of the
scene before him.
—She too wants me to catch hold of her, he thought. That’s why she came with me to the tram. I could easily catch
hold of her when she comes up to my step: nobody is looking. I could hold her and kiss her.
But he did neither: and, when he was sitting alone in the deserted tram, he tore his ticket into shreds and stared
gloomily at the corrugated footboard.
The next day he sat at his table in the bare upper room for many hours. Before him lay a new pen, a new bottle of ink
and a new emerald exercise. From force of habit he had written at the top of the first page the initial letters of the jesuit
motto: A.M.D.G. On the first line of the page appeared the title of the verses he was trying to write: To E— C—. He knew
it was right to begin so for he had seen similar titles in the collected poems of Lord Byron. When he had written this title
and drawn an ornamental line underneath he fell into a daydream and began to draw diagrams on the cover of the book.
He saw himself sitting at his table in Bray the morning after the discussion at the Christmas dinner table, trying to write a
poem about Parnell on the back of one of his father’s second moiety notices. But his brain had then refused to grapple
with the theme and, desisting, he had covered the page with the names and addresses of certain of his classmates:
Now it seemed as if he would fail again but, by dint of brooding on the incident, he thought himself into confidence.
During this process all those elements which he deemed common and insignificant fell out of the scene. There remained
no trace of the tram itself nor of the tram–men nor of the horses: nor did he and she appear vividly. The verses told only
of the night and the balmy breeze and the maiden lustre of the moon. Some undefined sorrow was hidden in the hearts of
the protagonists as they stood in silence beneath the leafless trees and when the moment of farewell had come the kiss,
which had been withheld by one, was given by both. After this the letters L. D. S. were written at the foot of the page,
and, having hidden the book, he went into his mother’s bedroom and gazed at his face for a long time in the mirror of her
But his long spell of leisure and liberty was drawing to its end. One evening his father came home full of news which
kept his tongue busy all through dinner. Stephen had been awaiting his father’s return for there had been mutton hash
that day and he knew that his father would make him dip his bread in the gravy. But he did not relish the hash for the
mention of Clongowes had coated his palate with a scum of disgust.
—I walked bang into him, said Mr Dedalus for the fourth time, just at the corner of the square.
—Then I suppose, said Mrs Dedalus, he will be able to arrange it. I mean about Belvedere.
—Of course he will, said Mr Dedalus. Don’t I tell you he’s provincial of the order now?
—I never liked the idea of sending him to the christian brothers myself, said Mrs Dedalus.
—Christian brothers be damned! said Mr Dedalus. Is it with Paddy Stink and Micky Mud? No, let him stick to the jesuits
in God’s name since he began with them. They’ll be of service to him in after years. Those are the fellows that can get
you a position.
—And they’re a very rich order, aren’t they, Simon?
—Rather. They live well, I tell you. You saw their table at Clongowes. Fed up, by God, like gamecocks.
Mr Dedalus pushed his plate over to Stephen and bade him finish what was on it.
—Now then, Stephen, he said, you must put your shoulder to the wheel, old chap. You’ve had a fine long holiday.
—O, I’m sure he’ll work very hard now, said Mrs Dedalus, especially when he has Maurice with him.
—O, Holy Paul, I forgot about Maurice, said Mr Dedalus. Here, Maurice! Come here, you thick–headed ruffian! Do you
know I’m going to send you to a college where they’ll teach you to spell c.a.t. cat. And I’ll buy you a nice little penny
handkerchief to keep your nose dry. Won’t that be grand fun?
Maurice grinned at his father and then at his brother.
Mr Dedalus screwed his glass into his eye and stared hard at both his sons. Stephen mumbled his bread without
answering his father’s gaze.
—By the bye, said Mr Dedalus at length, the rector, or provincial rather, was telling me that story about you and Father
Dolan. You’re an impudent thief, he said.
—O, he didn’t, Simon!
—Not he! said Mr Dedalus. But he gave me a great account of the whole affair. We were chatting, you know, and one
word borrowed another. And, by the way, who do you think he told me will get that job in the corporation? But I’ll tell you
that after. Well, as I was saying, we were chatting away quite friendly and he asked me did our friend here wear glasses
still, and then he told me the whole story.
—And was he annoyed, Simon?
—Annoyed? Not he! MANLY LITTLE CHAP! he said.
Mr Dedalus imitated the mincing nasal tone of the provincial.
Father Dolan and I, when I told them all at dinner about it, Father Dolan and I had a great laugh over it. YOU BETTER
MIND YOURSELF FATHER DOLAN, said I, OR YOUNG DEDALUS WILL SEND YOU UP FOR TWICE NINE. We had a
famous laugh together over it. Ha! Ha! Ha!
Mr Dedalus turned to his wife and interjected in his natural voice:
—Shows you the spirit in which they take the boys there. O, a jesuit for your life, for diplomacy!
He reassumed the provincial’s voice and repeated:
—I TOLD THEM ALL AT DINNER ABOUT IT AND FATHER DOLAN AND I AND ALL OF US WE HAD A HEARTY
LAUGH TOGETHER OVER IT. HA! HA! HA!
The night of the Whitsuntide play had come and Stephen from the window of the dressing–room looked out on the small
grass–plot across which lines of Chinese lanterns were stretched. He watched the visitors come down the steps from the
house and pass into the theatre. Stewards in evening dress, old Belvedereans, loitered in groups about the entrance to
the theatre and ushered in the visitors with ceremony. Under the sudden glow of a lantern he could recognize the smiling
face of a priest.
The Blessed Sacrament had been removed from the tabernacle and the first benches had been driven back so as to
leave the dais of the altar and the space before it free. Against the walls stood companies of barbells and Indian clubs;
the dumbbells were piled in one corner: and in the midst of countless hillocks of gymnasium shoes and sweaters and
singlets in untidy brown parcels there stood the stout leather–jacketed vaulting horse waiting its turn to be carried up on
the stage and set in the middle of the winning team at the end of the gymnastic display.
Stephen, though in deference to his reputation for essay writing he had been elected secretary to the gymnasium, had
had no part in the first section of the programme but in the play which formed the second section he had the chief part,
that of a farcical pedagogue. He had been cast for it on account of his stature and grave manners for he was now at the
end of his second year at Belvedere and in number two.
A score of the younger boys in white knickers and singlets came pattering down from the stage, through the vestry and
to the chapel. The vestry and chapel were peopled with eager masters and boys. The plump bald sergeant major was
testing with his foot the springboard of the vaulting horse. The lean young man in a long overcoat, who was to give a
special display of intricate club swinging, stood near watching with interest, his silver–coated clubs peeping out of his
deep side–pockets. The hollow rattle of the wooden dumbbells was heard as another team made ready to go up on the
stage: and in another moment the excited prefect was hustling the boys through the vestry like a flock of geese, flapping
the wings of his soutane nervously and crying to the laggards to make haste. A little troop of Neapolitan peasants were
practising their steps at the end of the chapel, some circling their arms above their heads, some swaying their baskets of
paper violets and curtsying. In a dark corner of the chapel at the gospel side of the altar a stout old lady knelt amid her
copious black skirts. When she stood up a pink–dressed figure, wearing a curly golden wig and an old–fashioned straw
sunbonnet, with black pencilled eyebrows and cheeks delicately rouged and powdered, was discovered. A low murmur of
curiosity ran round the chapel at the discovery of this girlish figure. One of the prefects, smiling and nodding his head,
approached the dark corner and, having bowed to the stout old lady, said pleasantly:
—Is this a beautiful young lady or a doll that you have here, Mrs Tallon?
Then, bending down to peer at the smiling painted face under the leaf of the bonnet, he exclaimed:
—No! Upon my word I believe it’s little Bertie Tallon after all!
Stephen at his post by the window heard the old lady and the priest laugh together and heard the boys' murmurs of
admiration behind him as they passed forward to see the little boy who had to dance the sunbonnet dance by himself. A
movement of impatience escaped him. He let the edge of the blind fall and, stepping down from the bench on which he
had been standing, walked out of the chapel.
He passed out of the schoolhouse and halted under the shed that flanked the garden. From the theatre opposite came
the muffled noise of the audience and sudden brazen clashes of the soldiers' band. The light spread upwards from the
glass roof making the theatre seem a festive ark, anchored among the hulks of houses, her frail cables of lanterns
looping her to her moorings. A side door of the theatre opened suddenly and a shaft of light flew across the grass plots.
A sudden burst of music issued from the ark, the prelude of a waltz: and when the side door closed again the listener
could hear the faint rhythm of the music. The sentiment of the opening bars, their languor and supple movement, evoked
the incommunicable emotion which had been the cause of all his day’s unrest and of his impatient movement of a
moment before. His unrest issued from him like a wave of sound: and on the tide of flowing music the ark was journeying,
trailing her cables of lanterns in her wake. Then a noise like dwarf artillery broke the movement. It was the clapping that
greeted the entry of the dumbbell team on the stage.
At the far end of the shed near the street a speck of pink light showed in the darkness and as he walked towards it he
became aware of a faint aromatic odour. Two boys were standing in the shelter of a doorway, smoking, and before he
reached them he had recognised Heron by his voice.
—Here comes the noble Dedalus! cried a high throaty voice. Welcome to our trusty friend!
This welcome ended in a soft peal of mirthless laughter as Heron salaamed and then began to poke the ground with
—Here I am, said Stephen, halting and glancing from Heron to his friend.
The latter was a stranger to him but in the darkness, by the aid of the glowing cigarette tips, he could make out a pale
dandyish face over which a smile was travelling slowly, a tall overcoated figure and a hard hat. Heron did not trouble
himself about an introduction but said instead:
—I was just telling my friend Wallis what a lark it would be tonight if you took off the rector in the part of the
schoolmaster. It would be a ripping good joke.
Heron made a poor attempt to imitate for his friend Wallis the rector’s pedantic bass and then, laughing at his failure,
asked Stephen to do it.
—Go on, Dedalus, he urged, you can take him off rippingly. HE THAT WILL NOT HEAR THE CHURCHA LET HIM BE
TO THEEA AS THE HEATHENA AND THE PUBLICANA.
The imitation was prevented by a mild expression of anger from Wallis in whose mouthpiece the cigarette had become
too tightly wedged.
—Damn this blankety blank holder, he said, taking it from his mouth and smiling and frowning upon it tolerantly. It’s
always getting stuck like that. Do you use a holder?
—I don’t smoke, answered Stephen.
—No, said Heron, Dedalus is a model youth. He doesn’t smoke and he doesn’t go to bazaars and he doesn’t flirt and
he doesn’t damn anything or damn all.
Stephen shook his head and smiled in his rival’s flushed and mobile face, beaked like a bird’s. He had often thought it
strange that Vincent Heron had a bird’s face as well as a bird’s name. A shock of pale hair lay on the forehead like a
ruffled crest: the forehead was narrow and bony and a thin hooked nose stood out between the close–set prominent
eyes which were light and inexpressive. The rivals were school friends. They sat together in class, knelt together in the
chapel, talked together after beads over their lunches. As the fellows in number one were undistinguished dullards,
Stephen and Heron had been during the year the virtual heads of the school. It was they who went up to the rector
together to ask for a free day or to get a fellow off.
—O by the way, said Heron suddenly, I saw your governor going in.
The smile waned on Stephen’s face. Any allusion made to his father by a fellow or by a master put his calm to rout in a
moment. He waited in timorous silence to hear what Heron might say next. Heron, however, nudged him expressively
with his elbow and said:
—You’re a sly dog.
—Why so? said Stephen.
—You’d think butter wouldn’t melt in your mouth said Heron. But I’m afraid you’re a sly dog.
—Might I ask you what you are talking about? said Stephen urbanely.
—Indeed you might, answered Heron. We saw her, Wallis, didn’t we? And deucedly pretty she is too. And inquisitive!
AND WHAT PART DOES STEPHEN TAKE, MR DEDALUS? AND WILL STEPHEN NOT SING, MR DEDALUS? Your
governor was staring at her through that eyeglass of his for all he was worth so that I think the old man has found you out
too. I wouldn’t care a bit, by Jove. She’s ripping, isn’t she, Wallis?
—Not half bad, answered Wallis quietly as he placed his holder once more in a corner of his mouth.
A shaft of momentary anger flew through Stephen’s mind at these indelicate allusions in the hearing of a stranger. For
him there was nothing amusing in a girl’s interest and regard. All day he had thought of nothing but their leave–taking on
the steps of the tram at Harold’s Cross, the stream of moody emotions it had made to course through him and the poem
he had written about it. All day he had imagined a new meeting with her for he knew that she was to come to the play.
The old restless moodiness had again filled his breast as it had done on the night of the party, but had not found an
outlet in verse. The growth and knowledge of two years of boyhood stood between then and now, forbidding such an
outlet: and all day the stream of gloomy tenderness within him had started forth and returned upon itself in dark courses
and eddies, wearying him in the end until the pleasantry of the prefect and the painted little boy had drawn from him a
movement of impatience.
—So you may as well admit, Heron went on, that we’ve fairly found you out this time. You can’t play the saint on me
any more, that’s one sure five.
A soft peal of mirthless laughter escaped from his lips and, bending down as before, he struck Stephen lightly across
the calf of the leg with his cane, as if in jesting reproof.
Stephen’s moment of anger had already passed. He was neither flattered nor confused, but simply wished the banter to
end. He scarcely resented what had seemed to him a silly indelicateness for he knew that the adventure in his mind
stood in no danger from these words: and his face mirrored his rival’s false smile.
—Admit! repeated Heron, striking him again with his cane across the calf of the leg.
The stroke was playful but not so lightly given as the first one had been. Stephen felt the skin tingle and glow slightly
and almost painlessly; and, bowing submissively, as if to meet his companion’s jesting mood, began to recite the
CONFITEOR. The episode ended well, for both Heron and Wallis laughed indulgently at the irreverence.
The confession came only from Stephen’s lips and, while they spoke the words, a sudden memory had carried him to
another scene called up, as if by magic, at the moment when he had noted the faint cruel dimples at the corners of
Heron’s smiling lips and had felt the familiar stroke of the cane against his calf and had heard the familiar word of
It was towards the close of his first term in the college when he was in number six. His sensitive nature was still
smarting under the lashes of an undivined and squalid way of life. His soul was still disquieted and cast down by the dull
phenomenon of Dublin. He had emerged from a two years' spell of revery to find himself in the midst of a new scene,
every event and figure of which affected him intimately, disheartened him or allured and, whether alluring or
disheartening, filled him always with unrest and bitter thoughts. All the leisure which his school life left him was passed in
the company of subversive writers whose jibes and violence of speech set up a ferment in his brain before they passed
out of it into his crude writings.
The essay was for him the chief labour of his week and every Tuesday, as he marched from home to the school, he
read his fate in the incidents of the way, pitting himself against some figure ahead of him and quickening his pace to
outstrip it before a certain goal was reached or planting his steps scrupulously in the spaces of the patchwork of the
pathway and telling himself that he would be first and not first in the weekly essay.
On a certain Tuesday the course of his triumphs was rudely broken. Mr Tate, the English master, pointed his finger at
him and said bluntly:
—This fellow has heresy in his essay.
A hush fell on the class. Mr Tate did not break it but dug with his hand between his thighs while his heavily starched
linen creaked about his neck and wrists. Stephen did not look up. It was a raw spring morning and his eyes were still
smarting and weak. He was conscious of failure and of detection, of the squalor of his own mind and home, and felt
against his neck the raw edge of his turned and jagged collar.
A short loud laugh from Mr Tate set the class more at ease.
—Perhaps you didn’t know that, he said.
—Where? asked Stephen.
Mr Tate withdrew his delving hand and spread out the essay.
—Here. It’s about the Creator and the soul. Rrm… rrm… rrm… Ah! WITHOUT A POSSIBILITY OF EVER
APPROACHING NEARER. That’s heresy.
—I meant WITHOUT A POSSIBILITY OF EVER REACHING.
It was a submission and Mr Tate, appeased, folded up the essay and passed it across to him, saying:
—O…Ah! EVER REACHING. That’s another story.
But the class was not so soon appeased. Though nobody spoke to him of the affair after class he could feel about him
a vague general malignant joy.
A few nights after this public chiding he was walking with a letter along the Drumcondra Road when he heard a voice
He turned and saw three boys of his own class coming towards him in the dusk. It was Heron who had called out and,
as he marched forward between his two attendants, he cleft the air before him with a thin cane in time to their steps.
Boland, his friend, marched beside him, a large grin on his face, while Nash came on a few steps behind, blowing from
the pace and wagging his great red head.
As soon as the boys had turned into Clonliffe Road together they began to speak about books and writers, saying what
books they were reading and how many books there were in their fathers' bookcases at home. Stephen listened to them
in some wonderment for Boland was the dunce and Nash the idler of the class. In fact, after some talk about their
favourite writers, Nash declared for Captain Marryat who, he said, was the greatest writer.
—Fudge! said Heron. Ask Dedalus. Who is the greatest writer, Dedalus?
Stephen noted the mockery in the question and said:
—Of prose do you mean?
—Newman, I think.
—Is it Cardinal Newman? asked Boland.
—Yes, answered Stephen.
The grin broadened on Nash’s freckled face as he turned to Stephen and said:
—And do you like Cardinal Newman, Dedalus?
—O, many say that Newman has the best prose style, Heron said to the other two in explanation, of course he’s not a
—And who is the best poet, Heron? asked Boland.
—Lord Tennyson, of course, answered Heron.
—O, yes, Lord Tennyson, said Nash. We have all his poetry at home in a book.
At this Stephen forgot the silent vows he had been making and burst out: