Ulysses By James Joyce Chapter 15 - Circe

BLOOM: Aurora borealis or a steel foundry? Ah, the brigade, of course. South side anyhow. Big blaze. Might be his house. Beggar's bush. We're safe. (He hums cheerfully) London's burning, London's burning! On fire, on fire! (He catches sight of the navvy lurching through the crowd at the farther side of Talbot street) I'll miss him. Run. Quick. Better cross here.

(He darts to cross the road. Urchins shout.)

THE URCHINS: Mind out, mister! (Two cyclists, with lighted paper lanterns aswing, swim by him, grazing him, their bells rattling)

THE BELLS: Haltyaltyaltyall.

BLOOM: (Halts erect, stung by a spasm) Ow!

(He looks round, darts forward suddenly. Through rising fog a dragon sandstrewer, travelling at caution, slews heavily down upon him, its huge red headlight winking, its trolley hissing on the wire. The motorman bangs his footgong.)

THE GONG: Bang Bang Bla Bak Blud Bugg Bloo.

(The brake cracks violently. Bloom, raising a policeman's whitegloved hand, blunders stifflegged out of the track. The motorman, thrown forward, pugnosed, on the guidewheel, yells as he slides past over chains and keys.)

THE MOTORMAN: Hey, shitbreeches, are you doing the hat trick?

BLOOM: (Bloom trickleaps to the curbstone and halts again. He brushes a mudflake from his cheek with a parcelled hand.) No thoroughfare. Close shave that but cured the stitch. Must take up Sandow's exercises again. On the hands down. Insure against street accident too. The Providential. (He feels his trouser pocket) Poor mamma's panacea. Heel easily catch in track or bootlace in a cog. Day the wheel of the black Maria peeled off my shoe at Leonard's corner. Third time is the charm. Shoe trick. Insolent driver. I ought to report him. Tension makes them nervous. Might be the fellow balked me this morning with that horsey woman. Same style of beauty. Quick of him all the same. The stiff walk. True word spoken in jest. That awful cramp in Lad lane. Something poisonous I ate. Emblem of luck. Why? Probably lost cattle. Mark of the beast. (He closes his eyes an instant) Bit light in the head. Monthly or effect of the other. Brainfogfag. That tired feeling. Too much for me now. Ow!

(A sinister figure leans on plaited legs against o'beirne's wall, a visage unknown, injected with dark mercury. From under a wideleaved sombrero the figure regards him with evil eye.)

BLOOM: Buenas noches, senorita Blanca, que calle es esta?

THE FIGURE: (Impassive, raises a signal arm) Password. Sraid Mabbot.

BLOOM: Haha. Merci. Esperanto. Slan leath. (He mutters) Gaelic league spy, sent by that fireeater.

(He steps forward. A sackshouldered ragman bars his path. He steps left, ragsackman left.)

BLOOM: I beg. (He swerves, sidles, stepaside, slips past and on.)

BLOOM: Keep to the right, right, right. If there is a signpost planted by the Touring Club at Stepaside who procured that public boon? I who lost my way and contributed to the columns of the Irish Cyclist the letter headed In darkest Stepaside. Keep, keep, keep to the right. Rags and bones at midnight. A fence more likely. First place murderer makes for. Wash off his sins of the world.

(Jacky Caffrey, hunted by Tommy Caffrey, runs full tilt against Bloom.)


(Shocked, on weak hams, he halts. Tommy and Jacky vanish there, there. Bloom pats with parcelled hands watch fobpocket, bookpocket, pursepoket, sweets of sin, potato soap.)

BLOOM: Beware of pickpockets. Old thieves' dodge. Collide. Then snatch your purse.

(The retriever approaches sniffing, nose to the ground. A sprawled form sneezes. A stooped bearded figure appears garbed in the long caftan of an elder in Zion and a smokingcap with magenta tassels. Horned spectacles hang down at the wings of the nose. Yellow poison streaks are on the drawn face.)

RUDOLPH: Second halfcrown waste money today. I told you not go with drunken goy ever. So you catch no money.

BLOOM: (Hides the crubeen and trotter behind his back and, crestfallen, feels warm and cold feetmeat) Ja, ich weiss, papachi.

RUDOLPH: What you making down this place? Have you no soul? (with feeble vulture talons he feels the silent face of Bloom) Are you not my son Leopold, the grandson of Leopold? Are you not my dear son Leopold who left the house of his father and left the god of his fathers Abraham and Jacob?

BLOOM: (With precaution) I suppose so, father. Mosenthal. All that's left of him.

RUDOLPH: (Severely) One night they bring you home drunk as dog after spend your good money. What you call them running chaps?

BLOOM: (In youth's smart blue Oxford suit with white vestslips, narrowshouldered, in brown Alpine hat, wearing gent's sterling silver waterbury keyless watch and double curb Albert with seal attached, one side of him coated with stiffening mud) Harriers, father. Only that once.

RUDOLPH: Once! Mud head to foot. Cut your hand open. Lockjaw. They make you kaputt, Leopoldleben. You watch them chaps.

BLOOM: (Weakly) They challenged me to a sprint. It was muddy. I slipped.

RUDOLPH: (With contempt) Goim nachez! Nice spectacles for your poor mother!

BLOOM: Mamma!

ELLEN BLOOM: (In pantomime dame's stringed mobcap, widow Twankey's crinoline and bustle, blouse with muttonleg sleeves buttoned behind, grey mittens and cameo brooch, her plaited hair in a crispine net, appears over the staircase banisters, a slanted candlestick in her hand, and cries out in shrill alarm) O blessed Redeemer, what have they done to him! My smelling salts! (She hauls up a reef of skirt and ransacks the pouch of her striped blay petticoat. A phial, an Agnus Dei, a shrivelled potato and a celluloid doll fall out) Sacred Heart of Mary, where were you at all at all?

(Bloom, mumbling, his eyes downcast, begins to bestow his parcels in his filled pockets but desists, muttering.)

A VOICE: (Sharply) Poldy!

BLOOM: Who? (He ducks and wards off a blow clumsily) At your service.

(He looks up. Beside her mirage of datepalms a handsome woman in Turkish costume stands before him. Opulent curves fill out her scarlet trousers and jacket, slashed with gold. A wide yellow cummerbund girdles her. A white yashmak, violet in the night, covers her face, leaving free only her large dark eyes and raven hair.)

BLOOM: Molly!

MARION: Welly? Mrs Marion from this out, my dear man, when you speak to me. (Satirically) Has poor little hubby cold feet waiting so long?

BLOOM: (Shifts from foot to foot) No, no. Not the least little bit.

(He breathes in deep agitation, swallowing gulps of air, questions, hopes, crubeens for her supper, things to tell her, excuse, desire, spellbound. A coin gleams on her forehead. On her feet are jewelled toerings. Her ankles are linked by a slender fetterchain. Beside her a camel, hooded with a turreting turban, waits. A silk ladder of innumerable rungs climbs to his bobbing howdah. He ambles near with disgruntled hindquarters. Fiercely she slaps his haunch, her goldcurb wristbangles angriling, scolding him in Moorish.)

MARION: Nebrakada! Femininum!

(The camel, lifting a foreleg, plucks from a tree a large mango fruit, offers it to his mistress, blinking, in his cloven hoof, then droops his head and, grunting, with uplifted neck, fumbles to kneel. Bloom stoops his back for leapfrog.)

BLOOM: I can give you . . . I mean as your business menagerer . . . Mrs Marion . . . if you . . .

MARION: So you notice some change? (Her hands passing slowly over her trinketed stomacher, a slow friendly mockery in her eyes) O Poldy, Poldy, you are a poor old stick in the mud! Go and see life. See the wide world.

BLOOM: I was just going back for that lotion whitewax, orangeflower water. Shop closes early on Thursday. But the first thing in the morning. (He pats divers pockets) This moving kidney. Ah!

(He points to the south, then to the east. A cake of new clean lemon soap arises, diffusing light and perfume.)

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At the graveside where Paddy Dignam is to be buried, the mysterious man in a Macintosh coat turns out to be