Her hand ceased to rummage. Her eyes fixed themselves on him, wide in alarm, yet smiling.
— What? Mr Bloom asked.
Let her speak. Look straight in her eyes. I believe you. Trust me.
— Woke me up in the night, she said. Dream he had, a nightmare.
— Said the ace of spades was walking up the stairs.
— The ace of spades! Mr Bloom said.
She took a folded postcard from her handbag.
— Read that, she said. He got it this morning.
— What is it? Mr Bloom asked, taking the card. U.P.?
— U.P.: up, she said. Someone taking a rise out of him. It's a great shame for them whoever he is.
— Indeed it is, Mr Bloom said.
She took back the card, sighing.
— And now he's going round to Mr Menton's office. He's going to take an action for ten thousand pounds, he says.
She folded the card into her untidy bag and snapped the catch.
Same blue serge dress she had two years ago, the nap bleaching. Seen its best days. Wispish hair over her ears. And that dowdy toque: three old grapes to take the harm out of it. Shabby genteel. She used to be a tasty dresser. Lines round her mouth. Only a year or so older than Molly.
See the eye that woman gave her, passing. Cruel. The unfair sex.
He looked still at her, holding back behind his look his discontent. Pungent mockturtle oxtail mulligatawny. I'm hungry too. Flakes of pastry on the gusset of her dress: daub of sugary flour stuck to her cheek. Rhubarb tart with liberal fillings, rich fruit interior. Josie Powell that was. In Luke Doyle's long ago. Dolphin's Barn, the charades. U.P.: up.
Change the subject.
— Do you ever see anything of Mrs Beaufoy? Mr Bloom asked.
— Mina Purefoy? she said.
Philip Beaufoy I was thinking. Playgoers' Club. Matcham often thinks of the masterstroke. Did I pull the chain? Yes. The last act.
— I just called to ask on the way in is she over it. She's in the lying-in hospital in Holles street. Dr Horne got her in. She's three days bad now.
— O, Mr Bloom said. I'm sorry to hear that.
— Yes, Mrs Breen said. And a houseful of kids at home. It's a very stiff birth, the nurse told me.
— -O, Mr Bloom said.
His heavy pitying gaze absorbed her news. His tongue clacked in compassion. Dth! Dth!
— I'm sorry to hear that, he said. Poor thing! Three days! That's terrible for her.
Mrs Breen nodded.
— She was taken bad on the Tuesday . . .
Mr Bloom touched her funnybone gently, warning her:
— Mind! Let this man pass.
A bony form strode along the curbstone from the river staring with a rapt gaze into the sunlight through a heavystringed glass. Tight as a skullpiece a tiny hat gripped his head. From his arm a folded dustcoat, a stick and an umbrella dangled to his stride.
— Watch him, Mr Bloom said. He always walks outside the lampposts. Watch!
— Who is he if it's a fair question? Mrs Breen asked. Is he dotty?
— His name is Cashel Boyle O'Connor Fitzmaurice Tisdall Farrell, Mr Bloom said smiling. Watch!
— He has enough of them, she said. Denis will be like that one of these days.
She broke off suddenly.
— There he is, she said. I must go after him. Goodbye. Remember me to Molly, won't you?
— I will, Mr Bloom said.
He watched her dodge through passers towards the shopfronts. Denis Breen in skimpy frockcoat and blue canvas shoes shuffled out of Harrison's hugging two heavy tomes to his ribs. Blown in from the bay. Like old times. He suffered her to overtake him without surprise and thrust his dull grey beard towards her, his loose jaw wagging as he spoke earnestly.
Meshuggah. Off his chump.
Mr Bloom walked on again easily, seeing ahead of him in sunlight the tight skullpiece, the dangling stickumbrelladustcoat. Going the two days. Watch him! Out he goes again. One way of getting on in the world. And that other old mosey lunatic in those duds. Hard time she must have with him.
U.P.: up. I'll take my oath that's Alf Bergan or Richie Goulding. Wrote it for a lark in the Scotch house I bet anything. Round to Menton's office. His oyster eyes staring at the postcard. Be a feast for the gods.
He passed the Irish Times. There might be other answers Iying there. Like to answer them all. Good system for criminals. Code. At their lunch now. Clerk with the glasses there doesn't know me. O, leave them there to simmer. Enough bother wading through fortyfour of them. Wanted, smart lady typist to aid gentleman in literary work. I called you naughty darling because I do not like that other world. Please tell me what is the meaning. Please tell me what perfume does your wife. Tell me who made the world. The way they spring those questions on you. And the other one Lizzie Twigg. My literary efforts have had the good fortune to meet with the approval of the eminent poet A. E. (Mr Geo. Russell). No time to do her hair drinking sloppy tea with a book of poetry.
Best paper by long chalks for a small ad. Got the provinces now. Cook and general, exc. cuisine, housemaid kept. Wanted live man for spirit counter. Resp. girl (R.C.) wishes to hear of post in fruit or pork shop. James Carlisle made that. Six and a half per cent dividend. Made a big deal on Coates's shares. Ca' canny. Cunning old Scotch hunks. All the toady news. Our gracious and popular vicereine. Bought the Irish Field now. Lady Mountcashel has quite recovered after her confinement and rode out with the Ward Union staghounds at the enlargement yesterday at Rathoath. Uneatable fox. Pothunters too. Fear injects juices make it tender enough for them. Riding astride. Sit her horse like a man. Weightcarrying huntress. No sidesaddle or pillion for her, not for Joe. First to the meet and in at the death. Strong as a brood mare some of those horsey women. Swagger around livery stables. Toss off a glass of brandy neat while you'd say knife. That one at the Grosvenor this morning. Up with her on the car: wishswish. Stonewall or fivebarred gate put her mount to it. Think that pugnosed driver did it out of spite. Who is this she was like? O yes! Mrs Miriam Dandrade that sold me her old wraps and black underclothes in the Shelbourne hotel. Divorced Spanish American. Didn't take a feather out of her my handling them. As if I was her clotheshorse. Saw her in the viceregal party when Stubbs the park ranger got me in with Whelan of the Express. Scavenging what the quality left. High tea. Mayonnaise I poured on the plums thinking it was custard. Her ears ought to have tingled for a few weeks after. Want to be a bull for her. Born courtesan. No nursery work for her, thanks.
Poor Mrs Purefoy! Methodist husband. Method in his madness. Saffron bun and milk and soda lunch in the educational dairy. Y. M. C. A. Eating with a stopwatch, thirtytwo chews to the minute. And still his muttonchop whiskers grew. Supposed to be well connected. Theodore's cousin in Dublin Castle. One tony relative in every family. Hardy annuals he presents her with. Saw him out at the Three Jolly Topers marching along bareheaded and his eldest boy carrying one in a marketnet. The squallers. Poor thing! Then having to give the breast year after year all hours of the night. Selfish those t.t's are. Dog in the manger. Only one lump of sugar in my tea, if you please.
He stood at Fleet street crossing. Luncheon interval. A sixpenny at Rowe's? Must look up that ad in the national library. An eightpenny in the Burton. Better. On my way.