Now it seemed as if he would fail again but, by dint of brooding on the incident, he thought himself into confidence. During this process all those elements which he deemed common and insignificant fell out of the scene. There remained no trace of the tram itself nor of the tram-men nor of the horses: nor did he and she appear vividly. The verses told only of the night and the balmy breeze and the maiden lustre of the moon. Some undefined sorrow was hidden in the hearts of the protagonists as they stood in silence beneath the leafless trees and when the moment of farewell had come the kiss, which had been withheld by one, was given by both. After this the letters L. D. S. were written at the foot of the page, and, having hidden the book, he went into his mother’s bedroom and gazed at his face for a long time in the mirror of her dressing-table.
But his long spell of leisure and liberty was drawing to its end. One evening his father came home full of news which kept his tongue busy all through dinner. Stephen had been awaiting his father’s return for there had been mutton hash that day and he knew that his father would make him dip his bread in the gravy. But he did not relish the hash for the mention of Clongowes had coated his palate with a scum of disgust.
—I walked bang into him, said Mr Dedalus for the fourth time, just at the corner of the square.
—Then I suppose, said Mrs Dedalus, he will be able to arrange it. I mean about Belvedere.
—Of course he will, said Mr Dedalus. Don’t I tell you he’s provincial of the order now?
—I never liked the idea of sending him to the christian brothers myself, said Mrs Dedalus.
—Christian brothers be damned! said Mr Dedalus. Is it with Paddy Stink and Micky Mud? No, let him stick to the jesuits in God’s name since he began with them. They’ll be of service to him in after years. Those are the fellows that can get you a position.
—And they’re a very rich order, aren’t they, Simon?
—Rather. They live well, I tell you. You saw their table at Clongowes. Fed up, by God, like gamecocks.
Mr Dedalus pushed his plate over to Stephen and bade him finish what was on it.
—Now then, Stephen, he said, you must put your shoulder to the wheel, old chap. You’ve had a fine long holiday.
—O, I’m sure he’ll work very hard now, said Mrs Dedalus, especially when he has Maurice with him.
—O, Holy Paul, I forgot about Maurice, said Mr Dedalus. Here, Maurice! Come here, you thick-headed ruffian! Do you know I’m going to send you to a college where they’ll teach you to spell c.a.t. cat. And I’ll buy you a nice little penny handkerchief to keep your nose dry. Won’t that be grand fun?