The request being complied with he clawed them up with a scrape.
— Have you seen the rock of Gibraltar? Mr Bloom inquired.
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 before answering:
— 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, weather.
— 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 appendage.
— 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 anchor.
— 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 stretched over.
— 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 queried.
— 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:
— As bad as old Antonio, 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 everybody concerned.
— 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. Do you?
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.