By pushing Haines about how much he might be paid for his clever sayings, Stephen has apparently screwed up the deal. Mulligan is annoyed, and asks Stephen why he can’t just play along for the sake of making a little money.
Stephen explains that they have to get money from somewhere, and given the options of getting money from the milkwoman or from Haines, the Englishman seems to be the more likely source.
Mulligan’s response–“From me, Kinch” — is one of those moments in the book that I had not really given much thought to until seeing Rob’s interpretation. And now, it seems to be the turning point in Mulligan’s and Stephen’s relationship. What I now think Mulligan means is that he’s figured out that in Stephen’s mind, he is the real source of any money, and that Stephen has basically torpedoed a perfectly good grift of Haines out of petulance and the underlying belief that Mulligan’s own money will come through. While he doesn’t come out and say it, this does seem to be the moment where Mulligan is officially done with Stephen, and vice versa.
There’s a lot that could be said here about Joyce’s own relationship to money and the means of literary production. Joyce struggled for much of his life to realize any income from his writings, partly because he was always unwilling to compromise his artistic integrity for the sake of getting things printed, partly because he never had great business sense. Over time, however, he became the beneficiary of very generous patrons and friends, and by the end of his life had managed to earn a small fortune through his benefactors and publishers. He also managed to spend pretty much everything he earned…