Ulysses By James Joyce Chapter 15 - Circe

RICHIE: Best value in Dub.

(Bald Pat, bothered beetle, stands on the curbstone, folding his napkin, waiting to wait.)

PAT: (Advances with a tilted dish of spillspilling gravy) Steak and kidney. Bottle of lager. Hee hee hee. Wait till I wait.

RICHIE: Goodgod. Inev erate inall . . .

(With hanging head he marches doggedly forward. The navvy, lurching by, gores him with his flaming pronghorn.)

RICHIE: (With a cry of pain, his hand to his back) Ah! Bright's! Lights!

BLOOM: (Ooints to the navvy) A spy. Don't attract attention. I hate stupid crowds. I am not on pleasure bent. I am in a grave predicament.

MRS BREEN: Humbugging and deluthering as per usual with your cock and bull story.

BLOOM: I want to tell you a little secret about how I came to be here. But you must never tell. Not even Molly. I have a most particular reason.

MRS BREEN: (All agog) O, not for worlds.

BLOOM: Let's walk on. Shall us?


(The bawd makes an unheeded sign. Bloom walks on with Mrs Breen. The terrier follows, whining piteously, wagging his tail.)

THE BAWD: Jewman's melt!

BLOOM: (In an oatmeal sporting suit, a sprig of woodbine in the lapel, tony buff shirt, shepherd's plaid Saint Andrew's cross scarftie, white spats, fawn dustcoat on his arm, tawny red brogues, fieldglasses in bandolier and a grey billycock hat) Do you remember a long long time, years and years ago, just after Milly, Marionette we called her, was weaned when we all went together to Fairyhouse races, was it?

MRS BREEN: (In smart Saxe tailormade, white velours hat and spider veil) Leopardstown.

BLOOM: I mean, Leopardstown. And Molly won seven shillings on a three year old named Nevertell and coming home along by Foxrock in that old fiveseater shanderadan of a waggonette you were in your heyday then and you had on that new hat of white velours with a surround of molefur that Mrs Hayes advised you to buy because it was marked down to nineteen and eleven, a bit of wire and an old rag of velveteen, and I'll lay you what you like she did it on purpose . . .

MRS BREEN: She did, of course, the cat! Don't tell me! Nice adviser!

BLOOM: Because it didn't suit you one quarter as well as the other ducky little tammy toque with the bird of paradise wing in it that I admired on you and you honestly looked just too fetching in it though it was a pity to kill it, you cruel naughty creature, little mite of a thing with a heart the size of a fullstop.

MRS BREEN: (Squeezes his arm, simpers) Naughty cruel I was!

BLOOM: (Low, secretly, ever more rapidly) And Molly was eating a sandwich of spiced beef out of Mrs Joe Gallaher's lunch basket. Frankly, though she had her advisers or admirers, I never cared much for her style. She was . . .

MRS BREEN: Too . . .

BLOOM: Yes. And Molly was laughing because Rogers and Maggot O'Reilly were mimicking a cock as we passed a farmhouse and Marcus Tertius Moses, the tea merchant, drove past us in a gig with his daughter, Dancer Moses was her name, and the poodle in her lap bridled up and you asked me if I ever heard or read or knew or came across . . .

MRS BREEN: (Eagerly) Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

(She fades from his side. Followed by the whining dog he walks on towards hellsgates. In an archway a standing woman, bent forward, her feet apart, pisses cowily. Outside a shuttered pub a bunch of loiterers listen to a tale which their brokensnouted gaffer rasps out with raucous humour. An armless pair of them flop wrestling, growling, in maimed sodden playfight.)

THE GAFFER: (Crouches, his voice twisted in his snout) And when Cairns came down from the scaffolding in Beaver street what was he after doing it into only into the bucket of porter that was there waiting on the shavings for Derwan's plasterers.

THE LOITERERS: (Guffaw with cleft palates) O jays!

(Their paintspeckled hats wag. Spattered with size and lime of their lodges they frisk limblessly about him.)

BLOOM: Coincidence too. They think it funny. Anything but that. Broad daylight. Trying to walk. Lucky no woman.

THE LOITERERS: Jays, that's a good one. Glauber salts. O jays, into the men's porter.

(Bloom passes. Cheap whores, singly, coupled, shawled, dishevelled, call from lanes, doors, corners.)


Are you going far, queer fellow?
How's your middle leg?
Got a match on you?
Eh, come here till I stiffen it for you.

(He plodges through their sump towards the lighted street beyond. From a bulge of window curtains a gramophone rears a battered brazen trunk. In the shadow a shebeenkeeper haggles with the navvy and the two redcoats.)

THE NAVVY: (Belching) Where's the bloody house?

THE SHEBEENKEEPER: Purdon street. Shilling a bottle of stout. Respectable woman.

THE NAVVY: (Gripping the two redcoats, staggers forward with them) Come on, you British army!

PRIVATE CARR: (Behind his back) He aint half balmy.

PRIVATE COMPTON: (Laughs) What ho!

PRIVATE CARR: (To the navvy) Portobello barracks canteen. You ask for Carr. Just Carr.

THE NAVVY: (Shouts)

We are the boys. Of Wexford.

PRIVATE COMPTON: Say! What price the sergeantmajor?

PRIVATE CARR: Bennett? He's my pal. I love old Bennett.

THE NAVVY: (Shouts)

The galling chain.
And free our native land.

(He staggers forward, dragging them with him. Bloom stops, at fault. The dog approaches, his tongue outlolling, panting)

BLOOM: Wildgoose chase this. Disorderly houses. Lord knows where they are gone. Drunks cover distance double quick. Nice mixup. Scene at Westland row. Then jump in first class with third ticket. Then too far. Train with engine behind. Might have taken me to Malahide or a siding for the night or collision. Second drink does it. Once is a dose. What am I following him for? Still, he's the best of that lot. If I hadn't heard about Mrs Beaufoy Purefoy I wouldn't have gone and wouldn't have met. Kismet. He'll lose that cash. Relieving office here. Good biz for cheapjacks, organs. What do ye lack? Soon got, soon gone. Might have lost my life too with that mangongwheeltracktrolleyglarejuggernaut only for presence of mind. Can't always save you, though. If I had passed Truelock's window that day two minutes later would have been shot. Absence of body. Still if bullet only went through my coat get damages for shock, five hundred pounds. What was he? Kildare street club toff. God help his gamekeeper.

(He gazes ahead, reading on the wall a scrawled chalk legend Wet Dream and a phallic design.) Odd! Molly drawing on the frosted carriagepane at Kingstown. What's that like? (Gaudy dollwomen loll in the lighted doorways, in window embrasures, smoking birdseye cigarettes. The odour of the sicksweet weed floats towards him in slow round ovalling wreaths.)

THE WREATHS: Sweet are the sweets. Sweets of sin.

BLOOM: My spine's a bit limp. Go or turn? And this food? Eat it and get all pigsticky. Absurd I am. Waste of money. One and eightpence too much. (The retriever drives a cold snivelling muzzle against his hand, wagging his tail.) Strange how they take to me. Even that brute today. Better speak to him first. Like women they like rencontres. Stinks like a polecat. Chacun son gout. He might be mad. Dogdays. Uncertain in his movements. Good fellow! Fido! Good fellow! Garryowen! (The wolfdog sprawls on his back, wriggling obscenely with begging paws, his long black tongue lolling out.) Influence of his surroundings. Give and have done with it. Provided nobody. (Calling encouraging words he shambles back with a furtive poacher's tread, dogged by the setter into a dark stalestunk corner. He unrolls one parcel and goes to dump the crubeen softly but holds back and feels the trotter.) Sizeable for threepence. But then I have it in my left hand. Calls for more effort. Why? Smaller from want of use. O, let it slide. Two and six.

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

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