The Annotated "Ulysses"/Page 008

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The Annotated "Ulysses" by James Joyce
Page 008

Do you wish me to tell you? he asked.

Yes, what is it? Buck Mulligan answered. I don’t remember anything.

He looked in Stephen’s face as he spoke. A light wind passed his brow,
fanning softly his fair uncombed hair and stirring silver points of anxiety in his
eyes.

Stephen, depressed by his own voice, said:

Do you remember the first day I went to your house after my mother’s
death?

Buck Mulligan frowned quickly and said:

What? Where? I can’t remember anything. I remember only ideas and
sensations. Why? What happened in the name of God?

You were making tea, Stephen said, and I went across the landing to
get more hot water. Your mother and some visitor came out of the drawing
room. She asked you who was in your room.

Yes? Buck Mulligan said. What did I say? I forget.

You said, Stephen answered, O, it’s only Dedalus whose mother is
beastly dead.

A flush which made him seem younger and more engaging rose to Buck
Mulligan’s cheek.

Did I say that? he asked. Well? What harm is that?

He shook his constraint from him nervously.

And what is death, he asked, your mother’s or yours or my own?
You saw only your mother die. I see them pop off every day in the Mater
and Richmond and cut up into tripes in the dissecting room. It’s a beastly
thing and nothing else. It simply doesn’t matter. You wouldn’t kneel down
to pray for your mother on her deathbed when she asked you. Why? Because
you have the cursed jesuit strain in you, only it’s injected the wrong way.
To me it’s all a mockery and beastly. Her cerebral lobes are not functioning.
She calls the doctor Sir Peter Teazle and picks buttercups off the quilt.
Humour her till it’s over. You crossed her last wish in death and yet you sulk
with me because I don’t whinge like some hired mute from Lalouette’s.
Absurd! I suppose I did say it. I didn’t mean to offend the memory of your
mother.

He had spoken himself into boldness. Stephen, shielding the gaping wounds
which the words had left in his heart, said very coldly:

I am not thinking of the offence to my mother.

Of what, then? Buck Mulligan asked.

Annotations[edit]