Ulysses By James Joyce Chapter 16 - Eumaeus

The guarded glance of half solicitude half curiosity augmented by friendliness which he gave at Stephen's at present morose expression of features did not throw a flood of light, none at all in fact on the problem as to whether he had let himself be badly bamboozled to judge by two or three lowspirited remarks he let drop or the other way about saw through the affair and for some reason or other best known to himself allowed matters to more or less. Grinding poverty did have that effect and he more than conjectured that, high educational abilities though he possessed, he experienced no little difficulty in making both ends meet.

Adjacent to the men's public urinal they perceived an icecream car round which a group of presumably Italians in heated altercation were getting rid of voluble expressions in their vivacious language in a particularly animated way, there being some little differences between the parties.

Puttana madonna, che ci dia i quattrini! Ho ragione? Culo rotto!

— Intendiamoci. Mezzo sovrano piu . . .

— Dice lui, pero!

— Mezzo.

— Farabutto! Mortacci sui!

— Ma ascolta! Cinque la testa piu . . .

Mr Bloom and Stephen entered the cabman's shelter, an unpretentious wooden structure, where, prior to then, he had rarely if ever been before, the former having previously whispered to the latter a few hints anent the keeper of it said to be the once famous Skin-the-Goat Fitzharris, the invincible, though he could not vouch for the actual facts which quite possibly there was not one vestige of truth in. A few moments later saw our two noctambules safely seated in a discreet corner only to be greeted by stares from the decidedly miscellaneous collection of waifs and strays and other nondescript specimens of the genus homo already there engaged in eating and drinking diversified by conversation for whom they seemingly formed an object of marked curiosity.

— Now touching a cup of coffee, Mr Bloom ventured to plausibly suggest to break the ice, it occurs to me you ought to sample something in the shape of solid food, say, a roll of some description.

Accordingly his first act was with characteristic sangfroid to order these commodities quietly. The hoi polloi of jarvies or stevedores or whatever they were after a cursory examination turned their eyes apparently dissatisfied, away though one redbearded bibulous individual portion of whose hair was greyish, a sailor probably, still stared for some appreciable time before transferring his rapt attention to the floor. Mr Bloom, availing himself of the right of free speech, he having just a bowing acquaintance with the language in dispute, though, to be sure, rather in a quandary over voglio, remarked to his protege in an audible tone of voice a propos of the battle royal in the street which was still raging fast and furious:

— A beautiful language. I mean for singing purposes. Why do you not write your poetry in that language? Bella Poetria! It is so melodious and full. Belladonna. Voglio.

Stephen, who was trying his dead best to yawn if he could, suffering from lassitude generally, replied:

— To fill the ear of a cow elephant. They were haggling over money.

— Is that so? Mr Bloom asked. Of course, he subjoined pensively, at the inward reflection of there being more languages to start with than were absolutely necessary, it may be only the southern glamour that surrounds it.

The keeper of the shelter in the middle of this tete-a-tete put a boiling swimming cup of a choice concoction labelled coffee on the table and a rather antediluvian specimen of a bun, or so it seemed. After which he beat a retreat to his counter, Mr Bloom determining to have a good square look at him later on so as not to appear to. For which reason he encouraged Stephen to proceed with his eyes while he did the honours by surreptitiously pushing the cup of what was temporarily supposed to be called coffee gradually nearer him.

— Sounds are impostures, Stephen said after a pause of some little time, like names. Cicero, Podmore. Napoleon, Mr Goodbody. Jesus, Mr Doyle. Shakespeares were as common as Murphies. What's in a name?

— Yes, to be sure, Mr Bloom unaffectedly concurred. Of course. Our name was changed too, he added, pushing the socalled roll across.

The redbearded sailor who had his weather eye on the newcomers boarded Stephen, whom he had singled out for attention in particular, squarely by asking:

— And what might your name be?

Just in the nick of time Mr Bloom touched his companion's boot but Stephen, apparently disregarding the warm pressure from an unexpected quarter, answered:

— Dedalus.

The sailor stared at him heavily from a pair of drowsy baggy eyes, rather bunged up from excessive use of boose, preferably good old Hollands and water.

— You know Simon Dedalus? he asked at length.

— I've heard of him, Stephen said.

Mr Bloom was all at sea for a moment, seeing the others evidently eavesdropping too.

— He's Irish, the seaman bold affirmed, staring still in much the same way and nodding. All Irish.

— All too Irish, Stephen rejoined.

As for Mr Bloom he could neither make head or tail of the whole business and he was just asking himself what possible connection when the sailor of his own accord turned to the other occupants of the shelter with the remark:

— I seen him shoot two eggs off two bottles at fifty yards over his shoulder. The lefthand dead shot.

Though he was slightly hampered by an occasional stammer and his gestures being also clumsy as it was still he did his best to explain.

— Bottles out there, say. Fifty yards measured. Eggs on the bottles. Cocks his gun over his shoulder. Aims.

He turned his body half round, shut up his right eye completely. Then he screwed his features up someway sideways and glared out into the night with an unprepossessing cast of countenance.

— Pom! he then shouted once.

The entire audience waited, anticipating an additional detonation, there being still a further egg.

— Pom! he shouted twice.

Egg two evidently demolished, he nodded and winked, adding bloodthirstily:

— Buffalo Bill shoots to kill, Never missed nor he never will.

A silence ensued till Mr Bloom for agreeableness' sake just felt like asking him whether it was for a marksmanship competition like the Bisley.

— Beg pardon, the sailor said.

— Long ago? Mr Bloom pursued without flinching a hairsbreadth.

— Why, the sailor replied, relaxing to a certain extent under the magic influence of diamond cut diamond, it might be a matter of ten years. He toured the wide world with Hengler's Royal Circus. I seen him do that in Stockholm.

— Curious coincidence, Mr Bloom confided to Stephen unobtrusively.

— Murphy's my name, the sailor continued. D. B. Murphy of Carrigaloe. Know where that is?

— Queenstown harbour, Stephen replied.

— That's right, the sailor said. Fort Camden and Fort Carlisle. That's where I hails from. I belongs there. That's where I hails from. My little woman's down there. She's waiting for me, I know. For England, home and beauty. She's my own true wife I haven't seen for seven years now, sailing about.

Mr Bloom could easily picture his advent on this scene, the homecoming to the mariner's roadside shieling after having diddled Davy Jones, a rainy night with a blind moon. Across the world for a wife. Quite a number of stories there were on that particular Alice Ben Bolt topic, Enoch Arden and Rip van Winkle and does anybody hereabouts remember Caoc O'Leary, a favourite and most trying declamation piece by the way of poor John Casey and a bit of perfect poetry in its own small way. Never about the runaway wife coming back, however much devoted to the absentee. The face at the window! Judge of his astonishment when he finally did breast the tape and the awful truth dawned upon him anent his better half, wrecked in his affections. You little expected me but I've come to stay and make a fresh start. There she sits, a grasswidow, at the selfsame fireside. Believes me dead, rocked in the cradle of the deep. And there sits uncle Chubb or Tomkin, as the case might be, the publican of the Crown and Anchor, in shirtsleeves, eating rumpsteak and onions. No chair for father. Broo! The wind! Her brandnew arrival is on her knee, post mortem child. With a high ro! and a randy ro! and my galloping tearing tandy, O! Bow to the inevitable. Grin and bear it. I remain with much love your brokenhearted husband D B Murphy.

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