—Ba! Mr Deasy cried. That’s not English. A French Celt said that.
He tapped his savingsbox against his thumbnail.
—I will tell you, he said solemnly, what is his proudest boast. I paid my way.
Goood man, good man.
—I paid my way. I never borrowed a shilling in my life. Can you feel that? I owe nothing. Can you?
Mulligan, nine pounds, three pairs of socks, one pair brogues, ties. Curran, ten guineas. McCann, one guinea. Fred Ryan, two shillings. Temple, two lunches. Russell, one guinea, Cousins, ten shillings, Bob Reynolds, half a guinea, Köhler, three guineas, Mrs McKernan, five weeks’ borard. The lump I have is useless.
—For the moment, no, Stephen answered.
Mr Deasy laughed with rich delight, putting back his savingsbox.
—I knew you couldn’t, he said joyously. But one day you must feel it. We are a generous people but we must also be just.
—I fear those big words, Stephen said, which make us so unhappy.
Mr Deasy stared sternly for some moments over the mantelpiece at the shapely bulk of a man in tartan fillibegs: Albert Edward, Prince of Wales.
—You think me an old fogey and an old tory, his thoughtful voice said. I saw three generations since O’Connell’s time. I remember the famine. Do you know that the orange lodges agitated for repeal of the union twenty years before O’Connell did or before the prelates of your communion denounced him as a demagogue? You fenians forget some things.
Glorious, pious and immortal memory. The lodge of Diamond in Armagh the splendid behung with corpses of papishes. Hoarse, masked and armed, the planters covenant. The black north and true blue bible. Croppies lie down.
Stephen sketched a brief gesture.
—I have rebel blood in me too, Mr Deasy said. On the spindle side. But I am descended from sir John Blackwood who voted for the union. We are all Irish, all kings’ sons.
—Alas, Stephen said.
—Per vias rectas, Mr Deasy said firmly, was his motto. He voted for it and put on his topboots to ride to Dublin from the Ards of Down to do so.
Lal the ral the ra
The rocky road to Dublin.