As they trod across the thick carpet Buck Mulligan whispered behind his panama to Haines.
— Parnell’s brother. There in the corner.
They chose a small table near the window opposite a long-faced man whose beard and gaze hung intently down on a chessboard.
— Is that he? Haines asked, twisting round in his seat.
— Yes, Mulligan said. That’s John Howard, his brother, our city marshal.
John Howard Parnell translated a white bishop quietly and his grey claw went up again to his forehead whereat it rested.
An instant after, under its screen, his eyes looked quickly, ghostbright, at his foe and fell once more upon a working corner.
— I’ll take a mélange, Haines said to the waitress.
— Two mélanges, Buck Mulligan said. And bring us some scones and butter and some cakes as well.
When she had gone he said, laughing:
— We call it D. B. C. because they have damn bad cakes. O, but you missed Dedalus on Hamlet.
Haines opened his newbought book.
— I’m sorry, he said. Shakespeare is the happy huntingground of all minds that have lost their balance.
The onelegged sailor growled at the area of 14 Nelson street:
— England expects…
Buck Mulligan’s primrose waistcoat shook gaily to his laughter.
— You should see him, he said, when his body loses its balance. Wandering Ængus I call him.
— I am sure he has an idée fixe, Haines said, pinching his chin thoughtfully with thumb and forefinger. Now I am speculating what it would be likely to be. Such persons always have.
Buck Mulligan bent across the table gravely.
— They drove his wits astray, he said, by visions of hell. He will never capture the Attic note. The note of Swinburne, of all poets, the white death and the ruddy birth. That is his tragedy. He can never be a poet. The joy of creation.
— Eternal punishment, Haines said, nodding curtly. I see. I tackled him this morning on belief. There was something on his mind, I saw. It’s rather interesting because Professor Pokorny of Vienna makes an interesting point out of that.
Buck Mulligan’s watchful eyes saw the waitress come. He helped her to unload her tray.
— He can find no trace of hell in ancient Irish myth, Haines said, amid the cheerful cups. The moral idea seems lacking, the sense of destiny, of retribution. Rather strange he should have just that fixed idea. Does he write anything for your movement?
He sank two lumps of sugar deftly longwise through the whipped cream. Buck Mulligan slit a steaming scone in two and plastered butter over its smoking pith. He bit off a soft piece hungrily.
— Ten years, he said, chewing and laughing. He is going to write something in ten years.
— Seems a long way off, Haines said, thoughtfully lifting his spoon. Still, I shouldn’t wonder if he did after all.
He tasted a spoonful from the creamy cone of his cup.
— This is real Irish cream I take it, he said with forbearance. I don’t want to be imposed on.
Elijah, skiff, light crumpled throwaway, sailed eastward by flanks of ships and trawlers, amid an archipelago of corks, beyond new Wapping street past Benson’s ferry, and by the three-masted schooner Rosevean from Bridgwater with bricks.