As they crossed the hall a man of dwarfish stature came towards them. Under the dome of his tiny hat his unshaven face began to smile with pleasure and he was heard to murmur. The eyes were melancholy as those of a monkey.
—Good evening, gentlemen, said the stubble-grown monkeyish face.
—Warm weather for March, said Cranly. They have the windows open upstairs.
Dixon smiled and turned his ring. The blackish, monkey-puckered face pursed its human mouth with gentle pleasure and its voice purred:
—Delightful weather for March. Simply delightful.
—There are two nice young ladies upstairs, captain, tired of waiting, Dixon said.
Cranly smiled and said kindly:
—The captain has only one love: sir Walter Scott. Isn’t that so, captain?
—What are you reading now, captain? Dixon asked. THE BRIDE OF LAMMERMOOR?
—I love old Scott, the flexible lips said, I think he writes something lovely. There is no writer can touch sir Walter Scott.
He moved a thin shrunken brown hand gently in the air in time to his praise and his thin quick eyelids beat often over his sad eyes.
Sadder to Stephen’s ear was his speech: a genteel accent, low and moist, marred by errors, and, listening to it, he wondered was the story true and was the thin blood that flowed in his shrunken frame noble and come of an incestuous love?
The park trees were heavy with rain; and rain fell still and ever in the lake, lying grey like a shield. A game of swans flew there and the water and the shore beneath were fouled with their green-white slime. They embraced softly, impelled by the grey rainy light, the wet silent trees, the shield-like witnessing lake, the swans. They embraced without joy or passion, his arm about his sister’s neck. A grey woollen cloak was wrapped athwart her from her shoulder to her waist and her fair head was bent in willing shame. He had loose red-brown hair and tender shapely strong freckled hands. Face? There was no face seen. The brother’s face was bent upon her fair rain-fragrant hair. The hand freckled and strong and shapely and caressing was Davin’s hand.
He frowned angrily upon his thought and on the shrivelled mannikin who had called it forth. His father’s jibes at the Bantry gang leaped out of his memory. He held them at a distance and brooded uneasily on his own thought again. Why were they not Cranly’s hands? Had Davin’s simplicity and innocence stung him more secretly?
He walked on across the hall with Dixon, leaving Cranly to take leave elaborately of the dwarf.
Under the colonnade Temple was standing in the midst of a little group of students. One of them cried:
—Dixon, come over till you hear. Temple is in grand form.
Temple turned on him his dark gipsy eyes.
—You’re a hypocrite, O’Keeffe, he said. And Dixon is a smiler. By hell, I think that’s a good literary expression.
He laughed slyly, looking in Stephen’s face, repeating: