They drove in a jingle across Cork while it was still early morning and Stephen finished his sleep in a bedroom of the Victoria Hotel. The bright warm sunlight was streaming through the window and he could hear the din of traffic. His father was standing before the dressing-table, examining his hair and face and moustache with great care, craning his neck across the water-jug and drawing it back sideways to see the better. While he did so he sang softly to himself with quaint accent and phrasing:
‘Tis youth and folly
Makes young men marry,
So here, my love, I’ll
No longer stay.
What can’t be cured, sure,
Must be injured, sure,
So I’ll go to
My love she’s handsome,
My love she’s bony:
She’s like good whisky
When it is new;
But when ’tis old
And growing cold
It fades and dies like
The mountain dew.
The consciousness of the warm sunny city outside his window and the tender tremors with which his father’s voice festooned the strange sad happy air, drove off all the mists of the night’s ill humour from Stephen’s brain. He got up quickly to dress and, when the song had ended, said:
—That’s much prettier than any of your other COME-ALL-YOUS.
—Do you think so? asked Mr Dedalus.
—I like it, said Stephen.
—It’s a pretty old air, said Mr Dedalus, twirling the points of his moustache. Ah, but you should have heard Mick Lacy sing it! Poor Mick Lacy! He had little turns for it, grace notes that he used to put in that I haven’t got. That was the boy who could sing a COME-ALL-YOU, if you like.
Mr Dedalus had ordered drisheens for breakfast and during the meal he cross-examined the waiter for local news. For the most part they spoke at cross purposes when a name was mentioned, the waiter having in mind the present holder and Mr Dedalus his father or perhaps his grandfather.
—Well, I hope they haven’t moved the Queen’s College anyhow, said Mr Dedalus, for I want to show it to this youngster of mine.
Along the Mardyke the trees were in bloom. They entered the grounds of the college and were led by the garrulous porter across the quadrangle. But their progress across the gravel was brought to a halt after every dozen or so paces by some reply of the porter’s.
—Ah, do you tell me so? And is poor Pottlebelly dead?
—Yes, sir. Dead, sir.
During these halts Stephen stood awkwardly behind the two men, weary of the subject and waiting restlessly for the slow march to begin again. By the time they had crossed the quadrangle his restlessness had risen to fever. He wondered how his father, whom he knew for a shrewd suspicious man, could be duped by the servile manners of the porter; and the lively southern speech which had entertained him all the morning now irritated his ears.
They passed into the anatomy theatre where Mr Dedalus, the porter aiding him, searched the desks for his initials. Stephen remained in the background, depressed more than ever by the darkness and silence of the theatre and by the air it wore of jaded and formal study. On the desk he read the word FOETUS cut several times in the dark stained wood. The sudden legend startled his blood: he seemed to feel the absent students of the college about him and to shrink from their company. A vision of their life, which his father’s words had been powerless to evoke, sprang up before him out of the word cut in the desk. A broad-shouldered student with a moustache was cutting in the letters with a jack-knife, seriously. Other students stood or sat near him laughing at his handiwork. One jogged his elbow. The big student turned on him, frowning. He was dressed in loose grey clothes and had tan boots.