Monday, 9 September 2013

of the sink and the old washing glove flung on the side of it he allowed his mother to scrub his neck and root into the folds of his ears and into the interstices at the wings of his nose.

-- Well, it's a poor case, she said, when a university student is so dirty that his mother has to wash him.

-- But it gives you pleasure, said Stephen calmly.

An ear-splitting whistle was heard from upstairs and his mother thrust a damp overall into his hands, saying:

----Dry yourself and hurry out for the love of goodness.

A second shrill whistle, prolonged angrily, brought one of the girls to the foot of the staircase.

----Yes, father?

----Is your lazy bitch of a brother gone out yet?

----Yes, father.


----Yes, father.


The girl came back, making signs to him to be quick and go out quietly by the back. Stephen laughed and said:

----He has a curious idea of genders if he thinks a bitch is masculine.

----Ah, it's a scandalous shame for you, Stephen, said his mother, and you'll live to rue the day you set your foot in that place. I know how it has changed you.

----Good morning, everybody, said Stephen, smiling and kissing the tips of his fingers in adieu.

The lane behind the terrace was waterlogged and as he went down it slowly, choosing his steps amid heaps of wet rubbish, he heard a mad nun screeching in the nuns' madhouse beyond the wall.

----Jesus! O Jesus! Jesus!

He shook the sound out of his ears by an angry toss of his head and hurried on, stumbling through the mouldering offal, his heart already bitten by an ache of loathing

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