—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.