Mr Bloom thoroughly acquiesced in the general gist of this though the mystical finesse involved was a bit out of his sublunary depth still he felt bound to enter a demurrer on the head of simple, promptly rejoining:
— Simple? I shouldn't think that is the proper word. Of course, I grant you, to concede a point, you do knock across a simple soul once in a blue moon. But what I am anxious to arrive at is it is one thing for instance to invent those rays Rontgen did or the telescope like Edison, though I believe it was before his time Galileo was the man, I mean, and the same applies to the laws, for example, of a farreaching natural phenomenon such as electricity but it's a horse of quite another colour to say you believe in the existence of a supernatural God.
— O that, Stephen expostulated, has been proved conclusively by several of the bestknown passages in Holy Writ, apart from circumstantial evidence.
On this knotty point however the views of the pair, poles apart as they were both in schooling and everything else with the marked difference in their respective ages, clashed.
— Has been? the more experienced of the two objected, sticking to his original point with a smile of unbelief. I'm not so sure about that. That's a matter for everyman's opinion and, without dragging in the sectarian side of the business, I beg to differ with you in toto there. My belief is, to tell you the candid truth, that those bits were genuine forgeries all of them put in by monks most probably or it's the big question of our national poet over again, who precisely wrote them like Hamlet and Bacon, as, you who know your Shakespeare infinitely better than I, of course I needn't tell you. Can't you drink that coffee, by the way? Let me stir it. And take a piece of that bun. It's like one of our skipper's bricks disguised. Still no-one can give what he hasn't got. Try a bit.
— Couldn't, Stephen contrived to get out, his mental organs for the moment refusing to dictate further.
Faultfinding being a proverbially bad hat Mr Bloom thought well to stir or try to the clotted sugar from the bottom and reflected with something approaching acrimony on the Coffee Palace and its temperance (and lucrative) work. To be sure it was a legitimate object and beyond yea or nay did a world of good, shelters such as the present one they were in run on teetotal lines for vagrants at night, concerts, dramatic evenings and useful lectures (admittance free) by qualified men for the lower orders. On the other hand he had a distinct and painful recollection they paid his wife, Madam Marion Tweedy who had been prominently associated with it at one time, a very modest remuneration indeed for her pianoplaying. The idea, he was strongly inclined to believe, was to do good and net a profit, there being no competition to speak of. Sulphate of copper poison SO4 or something in some dried peas he remembered reading of in a cheap eatinghouse somewhere but he couldn't remember when it was or where. Anyhow inspection, medical inspection, of all eatables seemed to him more than ever necessary which possibly accounted for the vogue of Dr Tibble's Vi-Cocoa on account of the medical analysis involved.
— Have a shot at it now, he ventured to say of the coffee after being stirred.
Thus prevailed on to at any rate taste it Stephen lifted the heavy mug from the brown puddle it clopped out of when taken up by the handle and took a sip of the offending beverage.
— Still it's solid food, his good genius urged, I'm a stickler for solid food, his one and only reason being not gormandising in the least but regular meals as the sine qua non for any kind of proper work, mental or manual. You ought to eat more solid food. You would feel a different man.
— Liquids I can eat, Stephen said. But O, oblige me by taking away that knife. I can't look at the point of it. It reminds me of Roman history.
Mr Bloom promptly did as suggested and removed the incriminated article, a blunt hornhandled ordinary knife with nothing particularly Roman or antique about it to the lay eye, observing that the point was the least conspicuous point about it.
— Our mutual friend's stories are like himself, Mr Bloom apropos of knives remarked to his confidante sotto voce. Do you think they are genuine? He could spin those yarns for hours on end all night long and lie like old boots. Look at him.
Yet still though his eyes were thick with sleep and sea air life was full of a host of things and coincidences of a terrible nature and it was quite within the bounds of possibility that it was not an entire fabrication though at first blush there was not much inherent probability in all the spoof he got off his chest being strictly accurate gospel.
He had been meantime taking stock of the individual in front of him and Sherlockholmesing him up ever since he clapped eyes on him. Though a wellpreserved man of no little stamina, if a trifle prone to baldness, there was something spurious in the cut of his jib that suggested a jail delivery and it required no violent stretch of imagination to associate such a weirdlooking specimen with the oakum and treadmill fraternity. He might even have done for his man supposing it was his own case he told, as people often did about others, namely, that he killed him himself and had served his four or five goodlooking years in durance vile to say nothing of the Antonio personage (no relation to the dramatic personage of identical name who sprang from the pen of our national poet) who expiated his crimes in the melodramatic manner above described. On the other hand he might be only bluffing, a pardonable weakness because meeting unmistakable mugs, Dublin residents, like those jarvies waiting news from abroad would tempt any ancient mariner who sailed the ocean seas to draw the long bow about the schooner Hesperus and etcetera. And when all was said and done the lies a fellow told about himself couldn't probably hold a proverbial candle to the wholesale whoppers other fellows coined about him.
— Mind you, I'm not saying that it's all a pure invention, he resumed. Analogous scenes are occasionally, if not often, met with. Giants, though that is rather a far cry, you see once in a way, Marcella the midget queen. In those waxworks in Henry street I myself saw some Aztecs, as they are called, sitting bowlegged, they couldn't straighten their legs if you paid them because the muscles here, you see, he proceeded, indicating on his companion the brief outline of the sinews or whatever you like to call them behind the right knee, were utterly powerless from sitting that way so long cramped up, being adored as gods. There's an example again of simple souls.
However reverting to friend Sinbad and his horrifying adventures (who reminded him a bit of Ludwig, alias Ledwidge, when he occupied the boards of the Gaiety when Michael Gunn was identified with the management in the Flying Dutchman, a stupendous success, and his host of admirers came in large numbers, everyone simply flocking to hear him though ships of any sort, phantom or the reverse, on the stage usually fell a bit flat as also did trains) there was nothing intrinsically incompatible about it, he conceded. On the contrary that stab in the back touch was quite in keeping with those italianos though candidly he was none the less free to admit those icecreamers and friers in the fish way not to mention the chip potato variety and so forth over in little Italy there near the Coombe were sober thrifty hardworking fellows except perhaps a bit too given to pothunting the harmless necessary animal of the feline persuasion of others at night so as to have a good old succulent tuckin with garlic de rigueur off him or her next day on the quiet and, he added, on the cheap.
— Spaniards, for instance, he continued, passionate temperaments like that, impetuous as Old Nick, are given to taking the law into their own hands and give you your quietus doublequick with those poignards they carry in the abdomen. It comes from the great heat, climate generally. My wife is, so to speak, Spanish, half that is. Point of fact she could actually claim Spanish nationality if she wanted, having been born in (technically) Spain, i.e. Gibraltar. She has the Spanish type. Quite dark, regular brunette, black. I for one certainly believe climate accounts for character. That's why I asked you if you wrote your poetry in Italian.
— The temperaments at the door, Stephen interposed with, were very passionate about ten shillings. Roberto ruba roba sua.
— Quite so, Mr Bloom dittoed.
— Then, Stephen said staring and rambling on to himself or some unknown listener somewhere, we have the impetuosity of Dante and the isosceles triangle miss Portinari he fell in love with and Leonardo and san Tommaso Mastino.
— It's in the blood, Mr Bloom acceded at once. All are washed in the blood of the sun. Coincidence I just happened to be in the Kildare street museum 890 today, shortly prior to our meeting if I can so call it, and I was just looking at those antique statues there. The splendid proportions of hips, bosom. You simply don't knock against those kind of women here. An exception here and there. Handsome yes, pretty in a way you find but what I'm talking about is the female form. Besides they have so little taste in dress, most of them, which greatly enhances a woman's natural beauty, no matter what you say. Rumpled stockings, it may be, possibly is, a foible of mine but still it's a thing I simply hate to see.
Interest, however, was starting to flag somewhat all round and then the others got on to talking about accidents at sea, ships lost in a fog, goo collisions with icebergs, all that sort of thing. Shipahoy of course had his own say to say. He had doubled the cape a few odd times and weathered a monsoon, a kind of wind, in the China seas and through all those perils of the deep there was one thing, he declared, stood to him or words to that effect, a pious medal he had that saved him.
So then after that they drifted on to the wreck off Daunt's rock, wreck of that illfated Norwegian barque nobody could think of her name for the moment till the jarvey who had really quite a look of Henry Campbell remembered it Palme on Booterstown strand. That was the talk of the town that year (Albert William Quill wrote a fine piece of original verse of 910 distinctive merit on the topic for the Irish Times), breakers running over her and crowds and crowds on the shore in commotion petrified with horror. Then someone said something about the case of the s. s. Lady Cairns of Swansea run into by the Mona which was on an opposite tack in rather muggyish weather and lost with all hands on deck. No aid was given. Her master, the Mona's, said he was afraid his collision bulkhead would give way. She had no water, it appears, in her hold.
At this stage an incident happened. It having become necessary for him to unfurl a reef the sailor vacated his seat.
— Let me cross your bows mate, he said to his neighbour who was just gently dropping off into a peaceful doze.