BLOOM: (Looks down with a sheepish grin) That is so.
THE FAN: (Folding together, rests against her left eardrop) Have you forgotten me?
BLOOM: Yes. Yo.
THE FAN: (Folded akimbo against her waist) Is me her was you dreamed before? Was then she him you us since knew? Am all them and the same now we?
(Bella approaches, gently tapping with the fan.)
BLOOM: (Wincing) Powerful being. In my eyes read that slumber which women love.
THE FAN: (Tapping) We have met. You are mine. It is fate.
BLOOM: (Cowed) Exuberant female. Enormously I desiderate your domination. I am exhausted, abandoned, no more young. I stand, so to speak, with an unposted letter bearing the extra regulation fee before the too late box of the general postoffice of human life. The door and window open at a right angle cause a draught of thirtytwo feet per second according to the law of falling bodies. I have felt this instant a twinge of sciatica in my left glutear muscle. It runs in our family. Poor dear papa, a widower, was a regular barometer from it. He believed in animal heat. A skin of tabby lined his winter waistcoat. Near the end, remembering king David and the Sunamite, he shared his bed with Athos, faithful after death. A dog's spittle as you probably . . . (He winces) Ah!
RICHIE GOULDING: (Bagweighted, passes the door) Mocking is catch. Best value in Dub. Fit for a prince's. Liver and kidney.
THE FAN: (Tapping) All things end. Be mine. Now.
BLOOM: (Undecided) All now? I should not have parted with my talisman. Rain, exposure at dewfall on the searocks, a peccadillo at my time of life. Every phenomenon has a natural cause.
THE FAN: (Points downwards slowly) You may.
BLOOM: (Looks downwards and perceives her unfastened bootlace) We are observed.
THE FAN: (Points downwards quickly) You must.
BLOOM: (With desire, with reluctance) I can make a true black knot. Learned when I served my time and worked the mail order line for Kellett's. Experienced hand. Every knot says a lot. Let me. In courtesy. I knelt once before today. Ah!
(Bella raises her gown slightly and, steadying her pose, lifts to the edge of a chair a plump buskined hoof and a full pastern, silksocked. Bloom, stifflegged, aging, bends over her hoof and with gentle fingers draws out and in her laces.)
BLOOM: (Murmurs lovingly) To be a shoefitter in Manfield's was my love's young dream, the darling joys of sweet buttonhooking, to lace up crisscrossed to kneelength the dressy kid footwear satinlined, so incredibly impossibly small, of Clyde Road ladies. Even their wax model Raymonde I visited daily to admire her cobweb hose and stick of rhubarb toe, as worn in Paris.
THE HOOF: Smell my hot goathide. Feel my royal weight.
BLOOM: (Crosslacing) Too tight?
THE HOOF: If you bungle, Handy Andy, I'll kick your football for you.
BLOOM: Not to lace the wrong eyelet as I did the night of the bazaar dance. Bad luck. Hook in wrong tache of her . . . person you mentioned. That night she met . . . Now!
(He knots the lace. Bella places her foot on the floor. Bloom raises his head. Her heavy face, her eyes strike him in midbrow. His eyes grow dull, darker and pouched, his nose thickens.)
BLOOM: (Mumbles) Awaiting your further orders we remain, gentlemen, . . .
BELLO: (With a hard basilisk stare, in a baritone voice) Hound of dishonour!
BLOOM: (Infatuated) Empress!
BELLO: (His heavy cheekchops sagging) Adorer of the adulterous rump!
BLOOM: (Plaintively) Hugeness!
BLOOM: (With sinews semiflexed) Magmagnificence!
BELLO: Down! (He taps her on the shoulder with his fan) Incline feet forward! Slide left foot one pace back! You will fall. You are falling. On the hands down!
BLOOM: (Her eyes upturned in the sign of admiration, closing, yaps) Truffles!
(With a piercing epileptic cry she sinks on all fours, grunting, snuffling, rooting at his feet: then lies, shamming dead, with eyes shut tight, trembling eyelids, bowed upon the ground in the attitude of most excellent master.)
BELLO: (With bobbed hair, purple gills, fit moustache rings round his shaven mouth, in mountaineer's puttees, green silverbuttoned coat, sport skirt and alpine hat with moorcock's feather, his hands stuck deep in his breeches pockets, places his heel on her neck and grinds it in) Footstool! Feel my entire weight. Bow, bondslave, before the throne of your despot's glorious heels so glistening in their proud erectness.
BLOOM: (Enthralled, bleats) I promise never to disobey.
BELLO: (Laughs loudly) Holy smoke! You little know what's in store for you. I'm the Tartar to settle your little lot and break you in! I'll bet Kentucky cocktails all round I shame it out of you, old son. Cheek me, I dare you. If you do tremble in anticipation of heel discipline to be inflicted in gym costume.
(Bloom creeps under the sofa and peers out through the fringe.)
ZOE: (Widening her slip to screen her) She's not here.
BLOOM: (Closing her eyes) She's not here.
FLORRY: (Hiding her with her gown) She didn't mean it, Mr Bello. She'll be good, sir.
KITTY: Don't be too hard on her, Mr Bello. Sure you won't, ma'amsir.
BELLO: (Coaxingly) Come, ducky dear, I want a word with you, darling, just to administer correction. Just a little heart to heart talk, sweety. (Bloom puts out her timid head) There's a good girly now. (Bello grabs her hair violently and drags her forward) I only want to correct you for your own good on a soft safe spot. How's that tender behind? O, ever so gently, pet. Begin to get ready.
BLOOM: (Fainting) Don't tear my . . .
BELLO: (Savagely) The nosering, the pliers, the bastinado, the hanging hook, the knout I'll make you kiss while the flutes play like the Nubian slave of old. You're in for it this time! I'll make you remember me for the balance of your natural life. (His forehead veins swollen, his face congested) I shall sit on your ottoman saddleback every morning after my thumping good breakfast of Matterson's fat hamrashers and a bottle of Guinness's porter. (He belches) And suck my thumping good Stock Exchange cigar while I read the Licensed Victualler's Gazette. Very possibly I shall have you slaughtered and skewered in my stables and enjoy a slice of you with crisp crackling from the baking tin basted and baked like sucking pig with rice and lemon or currant sauce. It will hurt you. (He twists her arm. Bloom squeals, turning turtle.)
BLOOM: Don't be cruel, nurse! Don't!
BELLO: (Twisting) Another!
BLOOM: (Screams) O, it's hell itself! Every nerve in my body aches like mad!
BELLO: (Shouts) Good, by the rumping jumping general! That's the best bit of news I heard these six weeks. Here, don't keep me waiting, damn you! (He slaps her face)
BLOOM: (Whimpers) You're after hitting me. I'll tell . . .
BELLO: Hold him down, girls, till I squat on him.
ZOE: Yes. Walk on him! I will.
FLORRY: I will. Don't be greedy.
KITTY: No, me. Lend him to me.
(The brothel cook, mrs keogh, wrinkled, greybearded, in a greasy bib, men's grey and green socks and brogues, floursmeared, a rollingpin stuck with raw pastry in her bare red arm and hand, appears at the door.)
MRS KEOGH: (Ferociously) Can I help? (They hold and pinion Bloom.)