Wednesday, 2 October 2013

its heaviness depress his heart. Cranly's speech, unlike that of Davin, had neither rare phrases of Elizabethan English nor quaintly turned versions of Irish idioms. Its drawl was an echo of the quays of Dublin given back by a bleak decaying seaport, its energy an echo of the sacred eloquence of Dublin given back flatly by a Wicklow pulpit.

The heavy scowl faded from Cranly's face as MacCann marched briskly towards them from the other side of the hall.

----Here you are! said MacCann cheerily.

----Here I am! said Stephen.

----Late as usual. Can you not combine the progressive tendency with a respect for punctuality?

----That question is out of order, said Stephen. Next business.

His smiling eyes were fixed on a silver-wrapped tablet of milk chocolate which peeped out of the propagandist's breastpocket. A little ring of listeners closed round to hear the war of wits. A lean student with olive skin and lank black hair thrust his face between the two, glancing from one to the other at each phrase and seeming to try to catch each flying phrase in his open moist mouth. Cranly took a small grey handball from his pocket and began to examine it closely, turning it over and over.

----Next business? said MacCann. Hom!

He gave a loud cough of laughter, smiled broadly and tugged twice at the straw-coloured goatee which hung from his blunt chin.

----The next business is to sign the testimonial.

----Will you pay me anything if I sign? asked Stephen.

----I thought you were an idealist, said MacCann.

The gipsylike student looked about him and addressed the onlookers in an indistinct bleating voice.

----By hell, that's a queer notion. I consider that notion to be a mercenary notion.

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