The sailor grimaced, chewing, in a way that might be
read as yes, ay or no.
—Ah, you’ve touched there too, Mr Bloom said,
Europa point, thinking he had, in the hope that the rover
might possibly by some reminiscences but he failed to do
so, simply letting spirt a jet of spew into the sawdust, and
shook his head with a sort of lazy scorn.
—What year would that be about? Mr B interrogated.
Can you recall the boats?
Our soi-disant sailor munched heavily awhile hungrily
—I’m tired of all them rocks in the sea, he said, and
boats and ships. Salt junk all the time.
Tired seemingly, he ceased. His questioner perceiving
that he was not likely to get a great deal of change out of
such a wily old customer, fell to woolgathering on the
enormous dimensions of the water about the globe, suffice
it to say that, as a casual glance at the map revealed, it
covered fully three fourths of it and he fully realised
accordingly what it meant to rule the waves. On more
than one occasion, a dozen at the lowest, near the North
Bull at Dollymount he had remarked a superannuated old
salt, evidently derelict, seated habitually near the not
particularly redolent sea on the wall, staring quite
obliviously at it and it at him, dreaming of fresh woods
and pastures new as someone somewhere sings. And it left
him wondering why. Possibly he had tried to find out the
secret for himself, floundering up and down the antipodes
and all that sort of thing and over and under, well, not
exactly under, tempting the fates. And the odds were
twenty to nil there was really no secret about it at all.
Nevertheless, without going into the minutiae of the
business, the eloquent fact remained that the sea was there
in all its glory and in the natural course of things
somebody or other had to sail on it and fly in the face of
providence though it merely went to show how people
usually contrived to load that sort of onus on to the other
fellow like the hell idea and the lottery and insurance
which were run on identically the same lines so that for
that very reason if no other lifeboat Sunday was a highly
laudable institution to which the public at large, no matter
where living inland or seaside, as the case might be, having
it brought home to them like that should extend its
gratitude also to the harbourmasters and coastguard service
who had to man the rigging and push off and out amid the
elements whatever the season when duty called Ireland
expects that every man and so on and sometimes had a
terrible time of it in the wintertime not forgetting the Irish
lights, Kish and others, liable to capsize at any moment,
rounding which he once with his daughter had
experienced some remarkably choppy, not to say stormy,
—There was a fellow sailed with me in the Rover, the
old seadog, himself a rover, proceeded, went ashore and
took up a soft job as gentleman’s valet at six quid a month.
Them are his trousers I’ve on me and he gave me an
oilskin and that jackknife. I’m game for that job, shaving
and brushup. I hate roaming about. There’s my son now,
Danny, run off to sea and his mother got him took in a
draper’s in Cork where he could be drawing easy money.
—What age is he? queried one hearer who, by the
way, seen from the side, bore a distant resemblance to
Henry Campbell, the townclerk, away from the carking
cares of office, unwashed of course and in a seedy getup
and a strong suspicion of nosepaint about the nasal
—Why, the sailor answered with a slow puzzled
utterance, my son, Danny? He’d be about eighteen now,
way I figure it.
The Skibbereen father hereupon tore open his grey or
unclean anyhow shirt with his two hands and scratched
away at his chest on which was to be seen an image
tattooed in blue Chinese ink intended to represent an
—There was lice in that bunk in Bridgwater, he
remarked, sure as nuts. I must get a wash tomorrow or
next day. It’s them black lads I objects to. I hate those
buggers. Suck your blood dry, they does.
Seeing they were all looking at his chest he
accommodatingly dragged his shirt more open so that on
top of the timehonoured symbol of the mariner’s hope
and rest they had a full view of the figure 16 and a young
man’s sideface looking frowningly rather.
—Tattoo, the exhibitor explained. That was done
when we were Iying becalmed off Odessa in the Black Sea
under Captain Dalton. Fellow, the name of Antonio, done
that. There he is himself, a Greek.
—Did it hurt much doing it? one asked the sailor.
That worthy, however, was busily engaged in
collecting round the. Someway in his. Squeezing or.
—See here, he said, showing Antonio. There he is
cursing the mate. And there he is now, he added, the same
fellow, pulling the skin with his fingers, some special
knack evidently, and he laughing at a yarn.
And in point of fact the young man named Antonio’s
livid face did actually look like forced smiling and the
curious effect excited the unreserved admiration of
everybody including Skin-the-Goat, who this time
—Ay, ay, sighed the sailor, looking down on his manly
chest. He’s gone too. Ate by sharks after. Ay, ay.
He let go of the skin so that the profile resumed the
normal expression of before.
—Neat bit of work, one longshoreman said.
—And what’s the number for? loafer number two
—Eaten alive? a third asked the sailor.
—Ay, ay, sighed again the latter personage, more
cheerily this time with some sort of a half smile for a brief
duration only in the direction of the questioner about the
number. Ate. A Greek he was.
And then he added with rather gallowsbird humour
considering his alleged end:
For he left me on my ownio.
The face of a streetwalker glazed and haggard under a
black straw hat peered askew round the door of the shelter
palpably reconnoitring on her own with the object of
bringing more grist to her mill. Mr Bloom, scarcely
knowing which way to look, turned away on the moment
flusterfied but outwardly calm, and, picking up from the
table the pink sheet of the Abbey street organ which the
jarvey, if such he was, had laid aside, he picked it up and
looked at the pink of the paper though why pink. His
reason for so doing was he recognised on the moment
round the door the same face he had caught a fleeting
glimpse of that afternoon on Ormond quay, the partially
idiotic female, namely, of the lane who knew the lady in
the brown costume does be with you (Mrs B.) and begged
the chance of his washing. Also why washing which
seemed rather vague than not, your washing. Still candour
compelled him to admit he had washed his wife’s
undergarments when soiled in Holles street and women
would and did too a man’s similar garments initialled with
Bewley and Draper’s marking ink (hers were, that is) if
they really loved him, that is to say, love me, love my
dirty shirt. Still just then, being on tenterhooks, he desired
the female’s room more than her company so it came as a
genuine relief when the keeper made her a rude sign to
take herself off. Round the side of the Evening Telegraph
he just caught a fleeting glimpse of her face round the side
of the door with a kind of demented glassy grin showing
that she was not exactly all there, viewing with evident
amusement the group of gazers round skipper Murphy’s
nautical chest and then there was no more of her.
—The gunboat, the keeper said.
—It beats me, Mr Bloom confided to Stephen,
medically I am speaking, how a wretched creature like
that from the Lock hospital reeking with disease can be
barefaced enough to solicit or how any man in his sober
senses, if he values his health in the least. Unfortunate
creature! Of course I suppose some man is ultimately
responsible for her condition. Still no matter what the
cause is from ...
Stephen had not noticed her and shrugged his
shoulders, merely remarking:
—In this country people sell much more than she ever
had and do a roaring trade. Fear not them that sell the
body but have not power to buy the soul. She is a bad
merchant. She buys dear and sells cheap.
The elder man, though not by any manner of means an
old maid or a prude, said it was nothing short of a crying
scandal that ought to be put a stop to instanter to say that
women of that stamp (quite apart from any oldmaidish
squeamishness on the subject), a necessary evil, w ere not
licensed and medically inspected by the proper authorities,
a thing, he could truthfully state, he, as a paterfamilias, was
a stalwart advocate of from the very first start. Whoever
embarked on a policy of the sort, he said, and ventilated
the matter thoroughly would confer a lasting boon on
—You as a good catholic, he observed, talking of body
and soul, believe in the soul. Or do you mean the
intelligence, the brainpower as such, as distinct from any
outside object, the table, let us say, that cup. I believe in
that myself because it has been explained by competent
men as the convolutions of the grey matter. Otherwise we
would never have such inventions as X rays, for instance.
Thus cornered, Stephen had to make a superhuman
effort of memory to try and concentrate and remember
before he could say:
—They tell me on the best authority it is a simple
substance and therefore incorruptible. It would be
immortal, I understand, but for the possibility of its
annihilation by its First Cause Who, from all I can hear, is
quite capable of adding that to the number of His other
practical jokes, corruptio per se and corruptio per accidens both
being excluded by court etiquette.
Mr Bloom thoroughly acquiesced in the general gist of
this though the mystical finesse involved was a bit out of
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