2010 edition FW pages 173-204
1939 edition FW pages 219-259
The Mime of Mick, Nick and the Maggies
Book Two opens with a delightful, if textually challenging, episode detailing the play-acting of the children before they are rudely brought home by their irate parents, HCE and ALP, to study and then be put to bed. Like all children in those days, they have stayed out too late. The three of them, Shem, Shaun and Issy, play a guessing game called ‘Colours’ or ‘Devils and Angels’ as they skip along the cobblestoned streets of old Chapelizod. Shem is cast as the devil and Shaun as the angel. Issy is the soul (or it could be the body) that they are contending for.
Writing to Harriet Shaw Weaver in November, 1930, Joyce explained:
‘The scheme of the piece I sent you is the game we used to call Angels and Devils or colours. The Angels, girls, are grouped behind the Angel, Shawn, and the Devil has to come over three times and ask for a colour. If the colour he asks for has been chosen by any girl she has to run and he tries to catch her. As far as I have written he has come twice and been twice baffled. The piece is full of rhythms taken from English singing games. When first baffled vindictively he thinks of publishing blackmail stuff about his father, mother etc etc etc. The second time he maunders off into sentimental poetry of what I actually wrote at the age of nine:
My cot alas that dear old shady home
Where oft in youthful sport I played,
Upon thy verdant grassy fields all day
Or lingered for a moment in thy bosom shade.
This is interrupted by a violent pang of tooth ache after which he throws a fit. When he is baffled a second time the girl angels sing a hymn of liberation around Shawn. The page enclosed [186.32-187.03 (236.19-32)] is still another version of a beautiful sentence from Edgard Quinet which I already refashioned in Transition part one beginning since the days of Hiber and Hairyman etc [cf. 12.14-24 (l4.35-15.11)]. E.Q. says that the wild flowers on the ruins of Carthage Numancia etc. have survived the political rises and downfalls of Empires. In this case the wild flowers are the lilts of children. Note especially the treatment of the double rainbow in which the iritic colours are first normal and then reversed [179.08-28 (226.30-227.18)]’ (Selected Letters, 355-6).
An earlier, more tightly condensed and specific plan of the chapter, designed to follow night falling upon the river in I.8, is noted on a plan for Book II composed in mid-1926 and jotted down on BL Add. MS 47482a.2 reads: A. night!
Driftwood on A. Trunkles. Contredanse. Hornies & Robbers. T devil C. I angel C. I prisoner. The guess. (Pascal). Tug of love. I falls. G hide. H beholds. Q chuchotant. A picks up. Croon Nascerà un melo. M ab. B & Q round dance. Mulberry Bush. Colin Maillard. C Blindfold. N. X vident, H all in!
The 1926 scheme is followed only loosely. The detail ‘C blindfold.’ is difficult to glean from the text, though it would help to explain why the devil (Shem) fails to see the colour of Issy's underwear, try as he will, even though at one point he rises from a trapdoor in the floor from directly under her. Her tissue-paper dress, moreover, is transparent.
Scores of children's singing games from Germany, France, England and Italy and so on (Letters I, 4 March 1931) are alluded to in the episode, so that, though the game of ‘Colours’ is the most important, by their actions, words, and songs the children enact hundreds of others. Joyce read various books about these in preparation for writing the episode. For example, at 177.38 (225.09) the devil is ridiculed by the rainbow girls and is chased off the set:
So olff for his topheetuck the ruck made raid, aslick aslegs would run, and he ankered on his hunkers with the belly belly prest. Asking: What's my muffinstuffinaches for this time? To weat: Breath and bother and whatarcurss. Then breath more bother and more whatarcurss. Then no breath no bother but worrawarrawurms. And Shim shallave shome.
The devil, a Mephistopheles figure, is suffering from stomach pains; but the girl is far more concerned about being chosen:
As Rigagnolina to Mountagnone, what she meaned he could not can. All she meaned was golten sylvup, all she meaned was some Knight's ploung jamn. It's driving her dafft like he's so dumnb.
While part of the general action, this is a game within a game: ‘Lady on a Mountain.’ in which a player sings:
There stands a lady on the mountain,
Who she is I do not know.
All she wants is gold and silver;
All she wants is a nice young man.
She is then asked Madam, will you marry me? and she replies No! The game goes on through many refrains, such as one asking What's for breakfast, love? with the response: Bread and butter, watercress, or Squashed flies and black beetles. Other lines from this game are also used, such as, for example ‘Off to clutch, Glugg!’ (from Go to church, love). In this way, hundreds of games are woven into the text, making the children's play universal. The technique, resonance, is similar to the use of river-names in I.8.
II.1§1. 173–175.33 (219–222.21): Playbill
The opening was added late in the episode's tortuous development as a kind of afterthought, abstract, or summary. We are informed that what is about to happen is akin to a pantomime, one that is re-enacted every evening, with matinees each Sunday, at the ‘Feenicht's Playhouse’, bar and toilets always open, lottery (Diddlem's Club) downstairs; entrance a scrab (one shilling), token penny jam-pots accepted in lieu. It is ‘lighting up o'clock sharp’, 8.30 p.m., the time to switch on your bicycle lamp. The various parts are nightly redistributed (the children trying out various roles) among the cast. The show enjoys the benediction of Saint Genes, patron saint of actors, and the patronage of elders and coroners from each of the four quarters of the globe: the four old men (‘X vident’). For the benefit of those stuck at home, the script is broadcast over the radio in the seven sister languages: Irish, Greek, German, Russian, Persian, Latin and Sanskrit: ‘Celtelleneteutoslavzendlatinsoundscript’.
The mime we are about to witness has been adapted from the ‘Ballymooney Bloodriddon Murther’ and it features:
Glugg (Shem, the devil, a bold black boy in disgrace, who knows too much)
The Floras (Issy's sisters, the rainbow girls, angels and Valkyries)
Izod (Issy, Miss Beauty Spot herself, a bewitching blonde approached in loveliness only by her reflection in the mirror, who, having jilted Glugg, is presently fascinated by Chuff)
Chuff (Shaun, the angel, a fine, frank, fair-haired lad, who wrestles with Glugg about one thing or another)
Anne (Anna Livia, woman of the house, partner to)
Hump (H.C. Earwicker, man of the house, a publican pre-occupied in entertaining his customers)
And, though they are unconcerned in the play, the programme also includes:
The Customers (a representative dozen grown-up gentlemen, sloppily served by the curate)
Sanderson (Sigurdsson, a hardworking bottle-washer and spoiled barman married to)
Kate (a char-woman who, while wearing a veil and incognito, tells fortunes for bachelors during the pauses)
Details of the production follow: who supplied the wigs and masks; who arranged the dances; who made up the jokes, jests, and jigs; who brought in the jorums, and so on.
II.1§2. 175.34–187.03 (222.22–236.32): The Games begin
‘An argument follows.’
Chuff, an angel, appears on the stage, wielding a scintillating sword of light, and cries out: Sancte, sancte, Michaelus, defende nos in praelio!, O holy, holy, Michael, defend us in the battle! He makes the Sign of the Cross. Glugg, his opposite number, a devil, next appears: ‘the duvlin sulph was in Glugger, that lost-to-lurning.’ He is ‘sbuffing and sputing, tussing like anisine’, puffing and spitting and coughing like anything, the lost-to-learning, crying his eyes out and gnashing his teeth at the thought of the brevity of existence and the utter pleasures of life. Glugg has a sword too, but it has a blade made of putty.
True to his evil form, Glugg makes praise to his clubfoot, calls on the cursed to depart from him into everlasting fire, and performs various sacrilegious acts with his feet.
Evening has come, both on stage and on the streets outside. The first early stars are peeping through the dark empyrean; while inside the leapyear girls (starlets) dance suggestively, voluptuously, in raiment of shimmering light to a tinkling of tiny bells in the mildly scented air of the thickening dusk.
Issy slips behind Glugg's back and beckons shyly: ‘shylit beaconings from shehind hims back.’ ‘Mirrylamb’ is suffering all the uneasiness in the world, poor little Bo-peep! She fears that her archangel of a brother will fail to save her from the wiles and hands of the bad wolf, Glugg. She must respond to his guesses and he may guess right. She hopes she is clever enough to conceal her colour, her brightness, not by untruthfulness but by evasion, with the help of ‘all the airish signics of her dipandump helpabit.’
Her colour is neither rose nor orange nor yellow nor oyster nor indigo nor violet either. It is all these things together: it is heliotrope. So she taunts the devil to guess at it: Up tighty in the front, down again on the loose, drim and drumming on her back and a pop from her whistle. What is that, O holytroopers? Isot givin yoe?
Glugg (‘glee you gees’) crosses the stage with an unholy glower to pass before Chuff and glare balefully at him in resentment and jealousy. Ossian ascowl at Saint Patrick in the Glen of Thrushes was no less fated a meeting. Arrest thee! shouts the evangelist, brandishing his sword, ready to kill or maim him if the need arise. Glugg halts and sticks up his trifle of a sword.
The fiend! Yet for all his wiliness he has no idea what Issy's colour is. The girls taunt him with anagrams: O theoperil! Ethiaop lore, the poor lie; but he is incapable of figuring out the answer, no matter that he racks his brains inside out. He seeks inspiration from the four patrons, the audience, and even from their donkey, the ‘wordless.’ He asks it of fire, but it has gone into the heavens. He seeks it from air, but that bore neither mark nor message. He looks upon the floor where only his corns are groaning. At last he glances back at the chorus-line where Issy pranks along so daintily, a school for scandal. But all his searching is in vain. Nowhere can he find the answer. He is hard set then and wants to go off by himself where he can weep in despair. He is truly at his wits' end.
At 177.07 (224.09) — ‘Ah ho!’ — the narrator sympathises: ‘This poor Glugg!’, explaining that it is too sad really about him and his old mother, truly deplorable. O dear, O dear! All that frightfulness that he inherited from her! Something terrible! The poor godforsaken snivelling wreck of a timorous devil! With his hair sticking up on his head and his eyes bulging out of their sockets while Miss Issy taunts him with ‘her noces of interregnation.’ How do you do that lack a lock and pass the poker, please? And bids him tend her, lute and airly. Sing, sweetharp, thing to me anone! Poor Glugg, he is so upset! He doesn't know his head from his heels.
The jeunes filles en fleurs draw themselves up in a chorus line in dazzling array, weaving a mirage. Now they are but one bud, now a whole league of flowers. There they go, ‘showen drawen drawens up consociately at the hinder sight of their commoner guardian.’ Glugg, disguised as a troubadour, pops up from a trapdoor in the floor, thinking to himself how now he must find out by ‘gazework’ what the girls' true colours are. Only then will he be able to wrench them from their guardian. If he fails he will have to go on holding his own, as he has been doing all along. If he wins, he will loosen the thong of love that binds his miserable heart.
He guesses again at the next line-up. Hast thou feel liked carbunkley ones? Faced with Glugg's ‘poohoor pricoxity’, the girls raise a titter of hilarity. Not meaning to be clever but just with a shrug of their hips, they advise him to go and take a peek at himself: ‘harff a freak.’ Holding their noses, they insinuate, ugh!, he can go piss in his breeches and play with the steam! They laugh and shout and jeer at him and, booing him, calling him a werewolf: ‘Toboo!’
The ruck runs off as bid as quick as his bad legs can carry him, clutching his belly (for he has a stomach ache) and crouches on his hunkers in a corner. Issy is half daft over it, she wants to play. If he would only talk and not simply gawk! She insists, ‘Speak, sweety bird!’, and tells him not to be so fearful. She's not the ‘bogdoxy.’
Glugg now makes the first of his three formal sets of guesses. He tries ‘monbreamstone’ (moonstone), ‘Hellfeuersteyn’ (brimstone) and ‘Van Diemen's coral pearl’(pearl), but Issy has to say No! to each of his wild guesses. She is wearing none of the three. Once again the girls taunt him for failure: ‘Off to clutch, Glugg! Forewheel! Shape your reres, Glugg!’ They've had enough of him and his bad guesses and are going instead to ring round young brother Chuff. Yet, whatever about her twenty-eight sisters, Issy is downcast. All the silk roses in her hat droop upon its brim. Her pretty bows and knots and tucks of lace all come undone. She pulls a dreadful doleful face. She scarcely knows whether to laugh or cry. Poor Issy!
Glum, she sits in the gloom, gleaming in the gloaming. Her tinsel's a touch tarnished and makes no lovely noose round her nape. Alas! Poor Alice is so glum.
We are asked to be good enough to sympathise, as earlier (hopefully) we pitied poor Glugg. Her beau has lost. Her man is gone. But if he is anywhere, we are assured, she'll go there too, no matter where, even if he's gone to nowhere. Loverless Issy is fading away now like the close of day. We cannot make her out. But no matter how dim or how dusk or how dark her outlook is, Issy will have a new fiancé. And though she is still unmarried, she will yet show her sisters how to hop it, hip it and trip it and cheer up and sing: for Chuff is still High Sheriff, even if Glugg's got to swing.
Her sadness dispelled, Issy emerges from her sulk to lead the girls in a dance, weaving a pattern of pure light, a double rainbow, a complex kinetic ring of tints circling the quarrelling boys. Two by two, here they come, there they go, the gay pack, to and fro they go, for they are flowers, pansy and poppy and primrose too, leaf and rose and forget-me-not, all the flowers in an angel's garden. And so they dance. You may see them all but you can't tell them apart:
R A Y N B O W
And then back again:
W O B N I A R
Pink into green and green into pink!
Torment and rage rive Shem from his poll to his tummy's centre and he displays all the outward signs of visible disgrace. He is feeling so funny, all over a girl and not knowing her hue! If she would only smile, he would so appreciate it. But they are all against him, the beasties. So he rages, boxes his own shadow, and he swears. All the time he swears. He swears he will split: he will squeal; he will jump into a skiff some sunny day and let the wind take him wherever it will. He will flee. Au revoir! He will enter a monastery. He will quit, catch the Paris-Zurich train and skip it to Trieste. He will put a safe distance between him and them. He will collect his wits there and fire off his gaol journal, a first Epistle to the Hebrews, his enforced farce. Wild horses will not stop him from writing, under a suitable nom de plume, and may God save Ireland! ‘Gout strap Fenlanns!’ He will become a scrivener, join the society of authors and inform the whole sniggering world with its nations of shopkeepers the whole sordid truth about them. He will lay bare to the entire earth the facts about his gaffer and gammer, the Sabbatarian and his congenial consort, how she had a cleft down under and how she bit him on his behind! He will set it down in black and white. He'll betray them. He'll fill nine quires all about how he lost his innocence and why he was off-colour and how he was imposed upon and, O, the unbearable cruelty he was made suffer, how he was driven out of his house simply because he liked eggs and how he was abandoned, unable to sink or to swim. He will fill up a catalogue with all the horrors of Satan, so he will. And then, triumphant, an avenger returning, he will accost his Issy again as a Wagner would a Weesendonk at a tryst in Paris after his torments of a thousand years!
Glugg wonders if life is worth living? No! So he sheds tears such as angels weep. What kind of a life has it been for him, or for others? He reminisces, ‘dreaming largesse of lifesighs over early lived offs’, dreaming of his fathers and tutors, of his grandfather and his grandmother, that simple pair, of uncles and daughters-in-law and step-mothers and grandsons and maternal cousins and fathers and siblings and fathers-in-law and step-fathers and paternal uncles and wives' brothers-in-laws. On he broods, he thinks of his early youth and of his childish rhyme:
My Cod, alas, that dear old tumtum home
and of his famous riddle, the ‘first rattle of his juniverse.’ His existential introspection is brought to an abrupt halt by the sudden, agonising pangs of a sharp toothache. ‘His mouthfull of ecstasy hereapong (maladventure!) shot pinging upthrough the errorooth of his wisdom as thought it had been zawhen intwo.’ His features flush, convulsed with pain. Were he to live for ever, he would never forget it. It was like ‘gnawthing’ on earth!
The visitation of such exquisite pain renders him repentent. He beats his breast. He is determined to recover himself, if not by prayer or contrition then by exorcism. He throws a fit, rolls his eyes, snivels from his nose and blows the tobacco out of his pipe. Oh, how his entrails are knotted! How he squirms with gripe and colic! What keenest torture!
Relief is at hand. A butterfly is suddenly released from Issy's handbag and it flies to him, a secret messanger, to tell him she will wait for him, her darling. To let the ladies know she's booked she'll bind around her college cap a band of blue. For him! For Glugg! So let him can his sob-stuff and come right on up and sit in her lap. At this reversal of fortune, Glugg is up with a whoop and in less than no time is standing again before the dissembling girls. He is double-disguised, got up as a pig-tailed sailor, though his little devil's tail is still cocked up.
In reprieve, he has a second round of guesses at Issy's colour:
— Haps thee jaoneofergs?
— Haps thee mayjaunties?
— Haps thee per causes nunsibellies?
Naturally, he is wrong. Yellow is the wrong answer. He has to scram. Slinking his hook, he flees the hoots of the mocking girls: utskut, urqurd, jamal, qum, yallah, yawash, yak! He is crestfallen. Though he can speak English as well as the next man, he still cannot see. He has his ‘sperrits all foulen on him’ again. He is bedazzled. His saddest hat is up on his head, and he looks like bloody hell.
But no one who has ever walked upon the earth looked more handsome than the churl he leaves behind him: the greenest, the whitest, the most golden of all heroes, standing there most heavenly, a seventh son of a seventh son, wreathed in narcissi: it is Chuff. The virgins skip round and vie to praise him, all quite purringly excited. They allude to him by all the names in the litany, in terms of endearment no woman would dream of using except to her intended. They anoint him with precious perfumes in the hope that he, Chuff, the fine-hued, the manly, the fair-headed boy, might vouchsafe unto each and every mother's daughter of them the perfect pleasure of a kiss.
They ring round Chuff, a thrilled and worshipping assembly, to soak up his radiance, his purity, and his beauty. They address to him a hymn of liberation, while among themselves they discuss their future married state and how simply perfect everything will surely be.
II.1§3. 187.04–189.23 (236.33–240.04): Les girls
Glugg is out of mind and out of sight. The flowergirls turn to Chuff, their ‘dear sweet Stainusless’, in an erotic performance of word and gesture. The various images are couched in technical botanical terms, but remain transparently sexual in nature:
‘Just so stylled with the nattes are their flowerheads now and each of all has a lovestalk ownto herself and the tot of all the tits of their understamens is as open as he can posably she and is tournesoled straightcut or sidewaist, accordant to the courses of things feminite, towooerds him in heliolatry.’
The dancers are in flimsy dresses made of intoxicatingly transparent tissue-paper. They turn towards their sun-hero as the heliotrope turns to the sun, exposing their genitalia to him in the hope that each might be pollinated and ‘catchcup in the calyzettes those parryshoots from his muscalone pistil.’
He whom they salute and hear, they chant, he who is their dearest, is the true protector of their innocence (the ‘pattern of our unschoold’). He is their pageant-master, the deliverer of their missives and liberator of missies. Let him send them a letter full of lottery-tickets for the sweep-stakes. They want ‘lotteries of ticklets posthastem’ from him.
Becoming more and more sexually explicit, the girls argue that, though they are yet ever so sweetly virginal, the day is coming when they all, one and all, ‘shall ope to be ores.’ There will be no more mere playacting and no more being given in marriage. They will be emancipated and free to choose. Every Kitty of a scullery-maid among them shall have the right to do it with whomever, whenever, and wherever she pleases ‘when all romance catholeens shall have ones for all amanseprated. And the world is maidfree.’
The girls dance away, having happily put their chaste case to thrice-innocent Chuff.
The section closes with another restatement of Quinet's piece on the endurance of natural beauty, somewhat modified to indicate that despite all the bad and the sad things that happen in the world, children everywhere will always continue to dance and sing.
II.1§4. 189.24–192.36 (240.05–244.l2): Glugg's testimony re H and A (HCE and ALP)
The low, would-be-shriven, sinister, jealous drunken-sailor Glugg resurfaces, shivering, rising through a trapdoor from his bolt-hole, a subterranean hell-lair, wheezing and spitting and whining as he does so. He is wholly consumed with spite, woebegone, obsessed with confession. He has had a change of heart since the unexpected and sobering toothache, and is prepared to get his way more deviously. Why, he will examine his conscience honestly. He will no more sit on a stool all day with a tome of Aquinas covering the tumescent lump throbbing between his thighs. He will no more lie singing all day in bed, gloating. No, he will bare his head and recant his heresies. He will be blessed by the blind and he will perform penance for the remission of his sins. Self-sufficient, excommunicated, he will escape to Italy and make plenty of gold (‘maketomake polentay rossum’) despite the dust cast meanwhile in his eyes. No more need he indulge his acidic derision. He will face his liabilities squarely, work for the repeal of the Union and, if it comes to it, play for Trinity International. If necessary, he will happily serve his time in jail, sell old HCE out, and rend his garments.
With regard to HCE, Glugg boasts of being related. He will reveal to the world, as only he can, the truth about HCE, about his mysterious trances and just how fond he always was of the ladies (‘most open on the laydays’). He will bear witness to the truth that shone eternally from HCE's blue eyes. It is simply not true what was in the papers, that his portmanteau was full of potatoes. And it is a colossal lie to say that he offered pennies, apples, oranges, and sugar candy to little girls while out walking, blowing his nose, and suffering under the liabilities for ALP's torts. It is also emphatically untrue that his big index finger weighs fifty five pounds (‘his pig indicks weg more als femtifem funts’).
Fair is fair: the man is as good as a mountain. He was a poor orphan and is no stranger and no more dangerous than a certain far-famed Norwegian captain with a sea-scorched skin. The curse of God light on his detractors! They are not worthy to shake his hand. The things they said about him, all the insinuations, are a tissue of lies. On the contrary, as countless bishops have testified, this Irish Nelson, this benign assessor of the Free State, is highly correct and accurate in everything he does. Admittedly he is unreal, but he is clean-living, a retiring family man in black velvet and bright buckles, and he has lived quietly in the household of Number 7 for God knows how many years. He even has a darling new back-tooth growing ever so nicely at the ripe old age of eighty-one. That is why all the guns in the parks were fired in celebration. He is a simple man with two purses, a stutter, and a rather uncertain gait, given to rigorously agitating the pot before pouring out his tea. Nobody could aspire to more innocence than him, that simple-minded toucher-up of photographs who would blush at the first sound of a rude noise!
As for ALP, his helpmeet, Glugg will spill the beans about her too. She is a fairy godmother if ever there was one: the woman who did. She is his Mama, and is as funny as she is vulgar. When she first came into the picture, factory-fresh, she was early ‘wronged by Hwemwednoget (magrathmagreeth, he takable a rap for that early party)’ and was terrified ever afterwards of the mere names of mountains and was raging to be back safe and snug in her maiden bed. She always knew her rights. HCE harboured her as a feme sole and kept her during coverture. Legally, she could not steal from him or he from her. If ever he was relieved by death it wouldn't be her would have to foot the funeral bill. Glugg can tell how she fed and feeds him, lying on his back, and how if he would only take the bit between the teeth and renounce the devil and all his sins and kick the street-walkers out of the place and stop selling faulty tripe in his shop, she would dedicate her hair for his safety and even go and hang herself down Oxmanstown way and wave her hat at the papal legate ‘on account of all he quaqueduxed for the hnor of Hrom and the nations abhord him.’ She will offer up her last brass half-penny for masses for widows.
The section concludes with the appearance of a light coming up the street. It is HCE, hastening up the lane, swaying a lamp, with ALP in tow, both of them out looking for the children to call them home. ‘Comehome to roo, wee chickchilds doo’, to where the home fire crackles.
II.1§5. 192.37–194.38 (244.l3–246.35): Zoo Snores
It darkens, all this our phenomenal world. We are ‘circumveiloped by obscuritas.’ Darkness, silence, and the chill of night creep relentlessly upon us. Men and beasts are chill. It is so cold! The women of the houses are within. On the animals in the zoo, on the river, on the long-legged dragon-flies among the reeds, on the spider motionless in her web, dusk descends. All is tranquilly. Not yet has the moon risen. In the fields, even the heads of the wheat-stalks bide breathless. ‘Quiet takes back her folded fields.’ In the zoo, which is located in the Phoenix Park, lion and tiger close their eyes. All the birds, the quail, the titmice, the peacocks, fall silent. There is not a cheep to be heard from a beak. By now even the elephant has said her prayers: sed libera nos a malo. She too rests after toil, carrying children on her back all day. The tusked rhino sleeps. Apes, beagles, camels: all are quiet. Even the fish in Dublin Bay have stopped their wriggling. If a tinker walking the road were to lay an ear to the water he would not hear anything, not a fin flap in all ‘finnyland’, except for the noises going on in his own head,
The lights in the village houses are being illuminated, one by one, and on distant hill-tops beacons begin to blaze. Soon it will be the time of night. Girls will stroll through the park in twos and soldiers will prowl in threes, by the wishing-well and beneath trees laden with cooing doves. Men will gather in pubs, in HCE's tavern, in the old house, in the Jug and Chambers, where he will pull pints, his ale-wife by his side. In that place the wanderer will find old ‘Watsy Lyke’, the curate, and Kate the cleaner. There straw is strewn on the floor, by mugs, by spits in sawdust. If the night should slip too quickly by, the weary traveller will find a bed upstairs.
In this dark anticipatory lull, HCE emerges, calling out in a threatening voice for the children to come in. But the children ignore him, for their game is not yet over. Glugg must have his third and final try. For Issy must be picked. And it must be by one or other of the two, this twain who are not on good terms, who will not be atoned, the dark deed doer and the bright day wooer. Otherwise she would be left quite alone.
II.1§6. 194.39–202.40 (246.36–257.02):: Glugg's Last Guess
At the end of the preceding section, the rainbow sisters are described as iron filings drawn to a magnet (Shaun) and as fillies, young female horses. In keeping with the latter, Glugg (‘Jeremy’) is ‘postreintroduced’ as a chestnut colt (a ‘chastenot coulter’). He is still convinced of the benefit of making a clean breast of things; but in his rejection he thought he should go home and have something to eat, go alone to bed, and let the devil take the begrudgers.
He has been weeping. ‘With such a tooth he seemed to love his wee tart when a buy.’ Standing before Issy, his sweetheart, he can't but be consumed with desire. If she would lift her skirt just the teeniest bit, just enough, just to let him see. He has seen it before: ‘He knows for he's seen it in black and white through his eyetrompit, trained upon jenny's and that sort of thing.’ But he is dazed and has been bewildered into colour-blindness by the multitude of tints, the living kaleidoscope of the whirling, teasing, entrancing girls prancing before him.
Issy makes one last effort to communicate her colour, heliotrope, to the frustrated would-be lover. She expresses it in four new riddles at 196.01ff. (248.08ff.). In a fifth she posits the secret as the diaphane in a temple of light whose walls are of ruby, whose gates are of ivory and whose roof is of solid jasper. To make it plain, she even spells out her colour for him, letter by letter: ‘A window, a hedge, a prong, a hand, an eye, a sign, a head and keep your other augur on her paypaypay.’
The girls clasp hands, curtsey, and sing. Exclaiming disgust, all point at Shem: ‘All point in the shem direction as if to shun.’ They pretend to want to help him and they stare at him to make him talk. But ‘ith ith noth cricquette’, it's not cricket. They put three questions to him in the hope of eliciting an answer. Shem answers cryptically in mime, making believe (1) he is tied up in ribbons, (2) he is sweeping a chimney, and (3) he is cutting something up with a scissors while biting a thread.
Twice now Shem has gone in quest of Issy. He stands there in the girls' midst: blank, dejected, numb, spurned, thrust from the light and warmth of their gay company, an outcast from life's feast. Evil thoughts cross his mind, wicked wizard's thoughts, and in consequence sinful spots appear on his garments. If only things were otherwise, he sighs. If only he were Issy's tutor and she were wax in his hands!
The warring boys now face one another in one-to-one combat and a tug-of-love begins after an exchange of threats and scuffles. Issy stands to one side and watches. She is on two minds as to which of the pair she prefers (her overwhelming question). But there falls here a gap in the story during which, through the medium of song, Glugg guesses at her colour for a third and final time, guessing violet. All we learn is that he has guessed wrong again: ‘Creedless, croonless, hangs his haughty.’ Evidently, he has failed ‘as tiercely as the deuce before.’
There follows a great deal of shifting about of the lassies, hooting and yelling, cap-fecking and general hilarity, as the game draws to a close. But the mirth is dispelled by the sudden appearance of HCE, ‘the largely longsuffering laird of Lucanhof.’
How to account for him? Was he pissed against a wall or what? Ann also arrives on the scene. She collars her pullets, catching the boys by their ears and tugging them off home with her, while Issy, their bone of contention and thorn in their flesh, makes off ‘in a thinkling (and not one hen only nor two hens nayther but every blessed brigid came aclucking and aclacking).’ There is homework to be seen to: lessons in language, history, geography, chemistry, geometry, and arithmetic. And all before the night is out.
‘Too soon are coming taskbooks and goody, hominy bread and bible bee with jaggery-yo and juju-jaw, Fine's French phrases not to mention define the hydraulics of common salt and, its denier crid of old provaunce, where G.P.O. is zentrum and D.U.T.C. are radients write down by the frequency of the scores and crores of your refractions the valuations in the pice of dinggyings on N.C.R. and S.C.R.’
Issy, a little cloud, ‘a nibulissa’, sulks as she trails along behind, love unrequited, frustrated and unhappy. ‘So angelland all weeping bin that Izzy most unhappy is.’
II.1§7. 203.01–204 (257.03–259): Curtain-fall
The game, play, and pantomime are ending. Three bursts of appreciative applause coincide with the shutting-to of the tavern door behind the entering children, the noise of which effects a loud thundering in the air. This is followed by a prayer to the God of the Thunder, the ‘Clearer of the Air’, to have mercy upon all mankind and to incline their hearts to keep his law.
‘Now have thy children entered into their habitations.’ The day the Lord gavest is ended. Behind the closed doors of the village inn the children prepare to study.