Dante broke in angrily:
—If we are a priest-ridden race we ought to be proud of it! They are the apple of God’s eye. TOUCH THEM NOT, says Christ, FOR THEY ARE THE APPLE OF MY EYE.
—And can we not love our country then? asked Mr Casey. Are we not to follow the man that was born to lead us?
—A traitor to his country! replied Dante. A traitor, an adulterer! The priests were right to abandon him. The priests were always the true friends of Ireland.
—Were they, faith? said Mr Casey.
He threw his fist on the table and, frowning angrily, protruded one finger after another.
—Didn’t the bishops of Ireland betray us in the time of the union when Bishop Lanigan presented an address of loyalty to the Marquess Cornwallis? Didn’t the bishops and priests sell the aspirations of their country in 1829 in return for catholic emancipation? Didn’t they denounce the fenian movement from the pulpit and in the confession box? And didn’t they dishonour the ashes of Terence Bellew MacManus?
His face was glowing with anger and Stephen felt the glow rise to his own cheek as the spoken words thrilled him. Mr Dedalus uttered a guffaw of coarse scorn.
—O, by God, he cried, I forgot little old Paul Cullen! Another apple of God’s eye!
Dante bent across the table and cried to Mr Casey:
—Right! Right! They were always right! God and morality and religion come first.
Mrs Dedalus, seeing her excitement, said to her:
—Mrs Riordan, don’t excite yourself answering them.
—God and religion before everything! Dante cried. God and religion before the world.
Mr Casey raised his clenched fist and brought it down on the table with a crash.
—Very well then, he shouted hoarsely, if it comes to that, no God for Ireland!
—John! John! cried Mr Dedalus, seizing his guest by the coat sleeve.
Dante stared across the table, her cheeks shaking. Mr Casey struggled up from his chair and bent across the table towards her, scraping the air from before his eyes with one hand as though he were tearing aside a cobweb.
—No God for Ireland! he cried. We have had too much God In Ireland. Away with God!
—Blasphemer! Devil! screamed Dante, starting to her feet and almost spitting in his face.
Uncle Charles and Mr Dedalus pulled Mr Casey back into his chair again, talking to him from both sides reasonably. He stared before him out of his dark flaming eyes, repeating:
—Away with God, I say!
Dante shoved her chair violently aside and left the table, upsetting her napkin-ring which rolled slowly along the carpet and came to rest against the foot of an easy-chair. Mrs Dedalus rose quickly and followed her towards the door. At the door Dante turned round violently and shouted down the room, her cheeks flushed and quivering with rage:
—Devil out of hell! We won! We crushed him to death! Fiend!
The door slammed behind her.
Mr Casey, freeing his arms from his holders, suddenly bowed his head on his hands with a sob of pain.