He looked round at the others whose faces were bent towards their plates and, receiving no reply, waited for a moment and said bitterly:
—Well, my Christmas dinner has been spoiled anyhow.
—There could be neither luck nor grace, Dante said, in a house where there is no respect for the pastors of the church.
Mr Dedalus threw his knife and fork noisily on his plate.
—Respect! he said. Is it for Billy with the lip or for the tub of guts up in Armagh? Respect!
—Princes of the church, said Mr Casey with slow scorn.
—Lord Leitrim’s coachman, yes, said Mr Dedalus.
—They are the Lord’s anointed, Dante said. They are an honour to their country.
—Tub of guts, said Mr Dedalus coarsely. He has a handsome face, mind you, in repose. You should see that fellow lapping up his bacon and cabbage of a cold winter’s day. O Johnny!
He twisted his features into a grimace of heavy bestiality and made a lapping noise with his lips.
—Really, Simon, you should not speak that way before Stephen. It’s not right.
—O, he’ll remember all this when he grows up, said Dante hotly—the language he heard against God and religion and priests in his own home.
—Let him remember too, cried Mr Casey to her from across the table, the language with which the priests and the priests’ pawns broke Parnell’s heart and hounded him into his grave. Let him remember that too when he grows up.
—Sons of bitches! cried Mr Dedalus. When he was down they turned on him to betray him and rend him like rats in a sewer. Low-lived dogs! And they look it! By Christ, they look it!
—They behaved rightly, cried Dante. They obeyed their bishops and their priests. Honour to them!
—Well, it is perfectly dreadful to say that not even for one day in the year, said Mrs Dedalus, can we be free from these dreadful disputes!
Uncle Charles raised his hands mildly and said:
—Come now, come now, come now! Can we not have our opinions whatever they are without this bad temper and this bad language? It is too bad surely.
Mrs Dedalus spoke to Dante in a low voice but Dante said loudly:
—I will not say nothing. I will defend my church and my religion when it is insulted and spit on by renegade catholics.
Mr Casey pushed his plate rudely into the middle of the table and, resting his elbows before him, said in a hoarse voice to his host:
—Tell me, did I tell you that story about a very famous spit?
—You did not, John, said Mr Dedalus.
—Why then, said Mr Casey, it is a most instructive story. It happened not long ago in the county Wicklow where we are now.
He broke off and, turning towards Dante, said with quiet indignation:
—And I may tell you, ma’am, that I, if you mean me, am no renegade catholic. I am a catholic as my father was and his father before him and his father before him again, when we gave up our lives rather than sell our faith.