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Mr Dedalus turned to uncle Charles.
--How are you off, sir?
--Right as the mail, Simon.
--I'm all right. Go on yourself.
--Mary? Here, Stephen, here's something to make your hair curl.
He poured sauce freely over Stephen's plate and set the boat again on the table. Then he asked uncle Charles was it tender. Uncle Charles could not speak because his mouth was full; but he nodded that it was.
--That was a good answer our friend made to the canon. What? said Mr Dedalus.
--I didn't think he had that much in him, said Mr Casey.
--I'LL PAY YOUR DUES, FATHER, WHEN YOU CEASE TURNING THE HOUSE OF GOD INTO A POLLING-BOOTH.
--A nice answer, said Dante, for any man calling himself a catholic to give to his priest.
--They have only themselves to blame, said Mr Dedalus suavely. If they took a fool's advice they would confine their attention to religion.
--It is religion, Dante said. They are doing their duty in warning the people.
--We go to the house of God, Mr Casey said, in all humility to pray to our Maker and not to hear election addresses.
--It is religion, Dante said again. They are right. They must direct their flocks.
--And preach politics from the altar, is it? asked Mr Dedalus.
--Certainly, said Dante. It is a question of public morality. A priest would not be a priest if he did not tell his flock what is right and what is wrong.
Mrs Dedalus laid down her knife and fork, saying:
--For pity sake and for pity sake let us have no political discussion on this day of all days in the year.
--Quite right, ma'am, said uncle Charles. Now, Simon, that's quite enough now. Not another word now.
--Yes, yes, said Mr Dedalus quickly.
He uncovered the dish boldly and said:
--Now then, who's for more turkey?
Nobody answered. Dante said:
--Nice language for any catholic to use!
--Mrs Riordan, I appeal to you, said Mrs Dedalus, to let the matter drop now.
Dante turned on her and said:
--And am I to sit here and listen to the pastors of my church being flouted?
--Nobody is saying a word against them, said Mr Dedalus, so long as they don't meddle in politics.
--The bishops and priests of Ireland have spoken, said Dante, and they must be obeyed.
--Let them leave politics alone, said Mr Casey, or the people may leave their church alone.
--You hear? said Dante, turning to Mrs Dedalus.
--Mr Casey! Simon! said Mrs Dedalus, let it end now.
--Too bad! Too bad! said uncle Charles.
--What? cried Mr Dedalus. Were we to desert him at the bidding of the English people?
--He was no longer worthy to lead, said Dante. He was a public sinner.
--We are all sinners and black sinners, said Mr Casey coldly.
--WOE BE TO THE MAN BY WHOM THE SCANDAL COMETH! said Mrs Riordan. IT WOULD BE BETTER FOR HIM THAT A MILLSTONE WERE TIED ABOUT HIS NECK AND THAT HE WERE CAST INTO THE DEPTHS OF THE SEA RATHER THAN THAT HE SHOULD SCANDALIZE ONE OF THESE, MY LEAST LITTLE ONES. That is the language of the Holy Ghost.
--And very bad language if you ask me, said Mr Dedalus coolly.
--Simon! Simon! said uncle Charles. The boy.
--Yes, yes, said Mr Dedalus. I meant about the...I was thinking about the bad language of the railway porter. Well now, that's all right. Here, Stephen, show me your plate, old chap. Eat away now. Here.
He heaped up the food on Stephen's plate and served uncle Charles and Mr Casey to large pieces of turkey and splashes of sauce. Mrs Dedalus was eating little and Dante sat with her hands in her lap. She was red in the face. Mr Dedalus rooted with the carvers at the end of the dish and said:
--There's a tasty bit here we call the pope's nose. If any lady or gentleman...
He held a piece of fowl up on the prong of the carving fork. Nobody spoke. He put it on his own plate, saying:
--Well, you can't say but you were asked. I think I had better eat it myself because I'm not well in my health lately.
He winked at Stephen and, replacing the dish-cover, began to eat again.
There was a silence while he ate. Then he said:
--Well now, the day kept up fine after all. There were plenty of strangers down too.
Nobody spoke. He said again:
--I think there were more strangers down than last Christmas.
He looked round at the others whose faces were bent towards their plates and, receiving no reply, waited for a moment and said bitterly:
--Well, my Christmas dinner has been spoiled anyhow.
--There could be neither luck nor grace, Dante said, in a house where there is no respect for the pastors of the church.
Mr Dedalus threw his knife and fork noisily on his plate.
--Respect! he said. Is it for Billy with the lip or for the tub of guts up in Armagh? Respect!
--Princes of the church, said Mr Casey with slow scorn.
--Lord Leitrim's coachman, yes, said Mr Dedalus.
--They are the Lord's anointed, Dante said. They are an honour to their country.
--Tub of guts, said Mr Dedalus coarsely. He has a handsome face, mind you, in repose. You should see that fellow lapping up his bacon and cabbage of a cold winter's day. O Johnny!
He twisted his features into a grimace of heavy bestiality and made a lapping noise with his lips.
--Really, Simon, you should not speak that way before Stephen. It's not right.
--O, he'll remember all this when he grows up, said Dante hotly--the language he heard against God and religion and priests in his own home.
--Let him remember too, cried Mr Casey to her from across the table, the language with which the priests and the priests' pawns broke Parnell's heart and hounded him into his grave. Let him remember that too when he grows up.
--Sons of bitches! cried Mr Dedalus. When he was down they turned on him to betray him and rend him like rats in a sewer. Low-lived dogs! And they look it! By Christ, they look it!
--They behaved rightly, cried Dante. They obeyed their bishops and their priests. Honour to them!
--Well, it is perfectly dreadful to say that not even for one day in the year, said Mrs Dedalus, can we be free from these dreadful disputes!
Uncle Charles raised his hands mildly and said:
--Come now, come now, come now! Can we not have our opinions whatever they are without this bad temper and this bad language? It is too bad surely.
Mrs Dedalus spoke to Dante in a low voice but Dante said loudly:
--I will not say nothing. I will defend my church and my religion when it is insulted and spit on by renegade catholics.
Mr Casey pushed his plate rudely into the middle of the table and, resting his elbows before him, said in a hoarse voice to his host:
--Tell me, did I tell you that story about a very famous spit?
--You did not, John, said Mr Dedalus.
--Why then, said Mr Casey, it is a most instructive story. It happened not long ago in the county Wicklow where we are now.
He broke off and, turning towards Dante, said with quiet indignation:
--And I may tell you, ma'am, that I, if you mean me, am no renegade catholic. I am a catholic as my father was and his father before him and his father before him again, when we gave up our lives rather than sell our faith.
--The more shame to you now, Dante said, to speak as you do.
--The story, John, said Mr Dedalus smiling. Let us have the story anyhow.
--Catholic indeed! repeated Dante ironically. The blackest protestant in the land would not speak the language I have heard this evening.
Mr Dedalus began to sway his head to and fro, crooning like a country singer.
--I am no protestant, I tell you again, said Mr Casey, flushing.
Mr Dedalus, still crooning and swaying his head, began to sing in a grunting nasal tone:
O, come all you Roman catholics
He took up his knife and fork again in good humour and set to eating, saying to Mr Casey:
--Let us have the story, John. It will help us to digest.
Stephen looked with affection at Mr Casey's face which stared across the table over his joined hands. He liked to sit near him at the fire, looking up at his dark fierce face. But his dark eyes were never fierce and his slow voice was good to listen to. But why was he then against the priests? Because Dante must be right then. But he had heard his father say that she was a spoiled nun and that she had come out of the convent in the Alleghanies when her brother had got the money from the savages for the trinkets and the chainies. Perhaps that made her severe against Parnell. And she did not like him to play with Eileen because Eileen was a protestant and when she was young she knew children that used to play with protestants and the protestants used to make fun of the litany of the Blessed Virgin. TOWER OF IVORY they used to say, HOUSE OF GOLD! How could a woman be a tower of ivory or a house of gold? Who was right then? And he remembered the evening in the infirmary in Clongowes, the dark waters, the light at the pierhead and the moan of sorrow from the people when they had heard.
Eileen had long white hands. One evening when playing tig she had put her hands over his eyes: long and white and thin and cold and soft. That was ivory: a cold white thing. That was the meaning of TOWER OF IVORY.
--The story is very short and sweet, Mr Casey said. It was one day down in Arklow, a cold bitter day, not long before the chief died. May God have mercy on him!
He closed his eyes wearily and paused. Mr Dedalus took a bone from his plate and tore some meat from it with his teeth, saying:
--Before he was killed, you mean.
Mr Casey opened his eyes, sighed and went on:
--It was down in Arklow one day. We were down there at a meeting and after the meeting was over we had to make our way to the railway station through the crowd. Such booing and baaing, man, you never heard. They called us all the names in the world. Well there was one old lady, and a drunken old harridan she was surely, that paid all her attention to me. She kept dancing along beside me in the mud bawling and screaming into my face: PRIEST-HUNTER! THE PARIS FUNDS! MR FOX! KITTY O'SHEA!
--And what did you do, John? asked Mr Dedalus.
--I let her bawl away, said Mr Casey. It was a cold day and to keep up my heart I had (saving your presence, ma'am) a quid of Tullamore in my mouth and sure I couldn't say a word in any case because my mouth was full of tobacco juice.
--Well. I let her bawl away, to her heart's content, KITTY O'SHEA and the rest of it till at last she called that lady a name that I won't sully this Christmas board nor your ears, ma'am, nor my own lips by repeating.
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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man -by- James Joyce