He skipped off the gunrest and looked gravely at his watcher, gathering about his legs the loose folds of his gown. The plump shadowed face and sullen oval jowl recalled a prelate, patron of arts in the middle ages. A pleasant smile broke quietly over his lips.
—The mockery of it, he said gaily. Your absurd name, an ancient Greek.
He pointed his finger in friendly jest and went over to the parapet, laughing to himself. Stephen Dedalus stepped up, followed him wearily halfway and sat down on the edge of the gunrest, watching him still as he propped his mirror on the parapet, dipped the brush in the bowl and lathered cheeks and neck.
Buck Mulligan's gay voice went on.
—My name is absurd too: Malachi Mulligan, two dactyls. But it has a Hellenic ring, hasn't it? Tripping and sunny like the buck himself. We must go to Athens. Will you come if I can get the aunt to fork out twenty quid?
He laid the brush aside and, laughing with delight, cried:
—Will he come? The jejune jesuit.
Ceasing, he began to shave with care.
—Tell me, Mulligan, Stephen said quietly.
—Yes, my love?
—How long is Haines going to stay in this tower?
Buck Mulligan showed a shaven cheek over his right shoulder.
—God, isn't he dreadful? he said frankly. A ponderous Saxon. He thinks you're not a gentleman. God, these bloody English. Bursting with money and indigestion. Because he comes from Oxford. You know, Dedalus, you have the real Oxford manner. He can't make you out. O, my name for you is the best: Kinch, the knifeblade.
He shaved warily over his chin.
—He was raving all night about a black panther, Stephen said. Where is his guncase?
—A woful lunatic, Mulligan said. Were you in a funk?
—I was, Stephen said with energy and growing fear. Out here in the dark with a man I don't know raving and moaning to himself about shooting a black panther. You saved men from drowning. I'm not a hero, however. If he stays on here I am off.
Buck Mulligan frowned at the lather on his razorblade. He hopped down from his perch and began to search his trouser pockets hastily.