—God help us! he said piously, to think of the men of those times, Stephen, Hely Hutchinson and Flood and Henry Grattan and Charles Kendal Bushe, and the noblemen we have now, leaders of the Irish people at home and abroad. Why, by God, they wouldn’t be seen dead in a ten-acre field with them. No, Stephen, old chap, I’m sorry to say that they are only as I roved out one fine May morning in the merry month of sweet July.
A keen October wind was blowing round the bank. The three figures standing at the edge of the muddy path had pinched cheeks and watery eyes. Stephen looked at his thinly clad mother and remembered that a few days before he had seen a mantle priced at twenty guineas in the windows of Barnardo’s.
—Well that’s done, said Mr Dedalus.
—We had better go to dinner, said Stephen. Where?
—Dinner? said Mr Dedalus. Well, I suppose we had better, what?
—Some place that’s not too dear, said Mrs Dedalus.
—Yes. Some quiet place.
—Come along, said Stephen quickly. It doesn’t matter about the dearness.
He walked on before them with short nervous steps, smiling. They tried to keep up with him, smiling also at his eagerness.
—Take it easy like a good young fellow, said his father. We’re not out for the half mile, are we?
For a swift season of merrymaking the money of his prizes ran through Stephen’s fingers. Great parcels of groceries and delicacies and dried fruits arrived from the city. Every day he drew up a bill of fare for the family and every night led a party of three or four to the theatre to see INGOMAR or THE LADY OF LYONS. In his coat pockets he carried squares of Vienna chocolate for his guests while his trousers’ pocket bulged with masses of silver and copper coins. He bought presents for everyone, overhauled his room, wrote out resolutions, marshalled his books up and down their shelves, pored upon all kinds of price lists, drew up a form of commonwealth for the household by which every member of it held some office, opened a loan bank for his family and pressed loans on willing borrowers so that he might have the pleasure of making out receipts and reckoning the interests on the sums lent. When he could do no more he drove up and down the city in trams. Then the season of pleasure came to an end. The pot of pink enamel paint gave out and the wainscot of his bedroom remained with its unfinished and ill-plastered coat.
His household returned to its usual way of life. His mother had no further occasion to upbraid him for squandering his money. He too returned to his old life at school and all his novel enterprises fell to pieces. The commonwealth fell, the loan bank closed its coffers and its books on a sensible loss, the rules of life which he had drawn about himself fell into desuetude.