At the far end of the shed near the street a speck of pink light showed in the darkness and as he walked towards it he became aware of a faint aromatic odour. Two boys were standing in the shelter of a doorway, smoking, and before he reached them he had recognised Heron by his voice.
—Here comes the noble Dedalus! cried a high throaty voice. Welcome to our trusty friend!
This welcome ended in a soft peal of mirthless laughter as Heron salaamed and then began to poke the ground with his cane.
—Here I am, said Stephen, halting and glancing from Heron to his friend.
The latter was a stranger to him but in the darkness, by the aid of the glowing cigarette tips, he could make out a pale dandyish face over which a smile was travelling slowly, a tall overcoated figure and a hard hat. Heron did not trouble himself about an introduction but said instead:
—I was just telling my friend Wallis what a lark it would be tonight if you took off the rector in the part of the schoolmaster. It would be a ripping good joke.
Heron made a poor attempt to imitate for his friend Wallis the rector’s pedantic bass and then, laughing at his failure, asked Stephen to do it.
—Go on, Dedalus, he urged, you can take him off rippingly. HE THAT WILL NOT HEAR THE CHURCHA LET HIM BE TO THEEA AS THE HEATHENA AND THE PUBLICANA.
The imitation was prevented by a mild expression of anger from Wallis in whose mouthpiece the cigarette had become too tightly wedged.
—Damn this blankety blank holder, he said, taking it from his mouth and smiling and frowning upon it tolerantly. It’s always getting stuck like that. Do you use a holder?
—I don’t smoke, answered Stephen.
—No, said Heron, Dedalus is a model youth. He doesn’t smoke and he doesn’t go to bazaars and he doesn’t flirt and he doesn’t damn anything or damn all.
Stephen shook his head and smiled in his rival’s flushed and mobile face, beaked like a bird’s. He had often thought it strange that Vincent Heron had a bird’s face as well as a bird’s name. A shock of pale hair lay on the forehead like a ruffled crest: the forehead was narrow and bony and a thin hooked nose stood out between the close-set prominent eyes which were light and inexpressive. The rivals were school friends. They sat together in class, knelt together in the chapel, talked together after beads over their lunches. As the fellows in number one were undistinguished dullards, Stephen and Heron had been during the year the virtual heads of the school. It was they who went up to the rector together to ask for a free day or to get a fellow off.
—O by the way, said Heron suddenly, I saw your governor going in.
The smile waned on Stephen’s face. Any allusion made to his father by a fellow or by a master put his calm to rout in a moment. He waited in timorous silence to hear what Heron might say next. Heron, however, nudged him expressively with his elbow and said: