Episode 13

Sandymount strand is covered in a warm twilight glow. All is still except for the voices from evening devotions at Our Lady Star of the Sea.

It is a favourite haunt of Cissy Caffrey, Edy Boardman and Gerty on summer evenings where they chat sitting on the rocks. They are minding a baby in a pram and two twin boys dressed in little sailor outfits playing with a ball on the sand. Cissy and Edy are champions at coaxing, playing and making baby talk. Tommy in danger of wetting his pants is taken behind a bush by Edy away from the gentleman who is further along the beach. Gerty is in her own little world gazing off into the distance. She is very particular about her person, taking care of her health with iron pills and keeping her skin white and soft with lemon juice. Bertha Supple was a little tittle tattle behind her back with Edy Boardman but Gerty managed to retain a refined dignity through the turmoil that was just part of everyday life. Gerty with her natural gifts of alabaster skin and bewitching blue eyes could afford to behave with good grace. Woman Beautiful gave her the details about using an eye pencil and how science could now cure one from blushing.

A new moon had inspired her to cut her lovely brown hair that very morning. Edy intrudes on her sweet shy nature with a most undignified remark but Gerty bites her tongue and shakes it off with a sweet little laugh. Edy could not hope to understand the needs of a young gentleman like W.E. Wylie. Gerty is thrilled with the blue chenille that she found to line her hat and her high instep and shapely legs are shown off to great effect in her new patent shoes. She hoped that the day would bring a meeting of lovers and had selected her dainty blue underwear for luck. Gerty had been practicing how to cry nicely in front of the mirror. She longed with all her heart to be Mrs Gertrude Wylie. She would frame a lovely photograph of Garryowen, grandpapa Giltrap’s dog that she liked so much, to hang in their lovely house.
Little Tommy was having a little temper tantrum to get his ball from the baby and his sister Edy threatened to give him a slap. Cissy called out ‘on his bottom’ so that the gentleman opposite was just bound to hear and Gerty was mortified to be in such unladylike company. Cissy however could sometimes be a scream, like when she dressed up in her father’s clothes, lit a cigarette and walked down the street.

John Hughes S.J. is conducting a mission for the men’s temperance fraternity and the sounds of the organ float over from the church. Gerty wishes her father could be saved from the demon drink that overruled his better nature and brought violence into their home. She loved her father when he sang with Mr Dignam who died and they had a nice supper of stewed cockles. Gerty was kind to her mother and rubbed menthol into her forehead when she had one of her headaches.

Gerty blushes when the ball is tossed back by the gentleman opposite but she rallies to give it a good kick and meets his gaze under her new hat.
The congregation are heard chanting prayers to the Blessed Virgin and the smell of incense wafts through the air.

The baby starts to howl when Cissy needs to change his wet blanket and Gerty wishes she would take off with the little monster. Gerty’s heart is beating as she gazes out to sea and the man wearing black and with sad eyes continues to look in her direction. Gerty’s womanly heart would respond to his suffering even if he was a protestant or a methodist as true love would overcome all obstacles.

The lights went on in the church and Gerty could picture the blue banners used for Our Lady’s sodality.
Gerty confided in the confessional to Father Conroy and he was so holy and kind that she thought hard about what kind of present to buy for him. Cissy chases after the twins who have kicked the ball into the water and runs with long strides showing off her petticoat. Gerty however thinks rather smugly that in spite of all her showing off the gentleman never took his eyes off her own silk stockings.
Cissy’s hat has gone haywire on her head as she comes back along the strand. Gerty fixes her curls and looked from under the brim of her hat until the steely gaze of the gentleman makes her blush scarlet. Edy interrupts her thoughts and Gerty is relieved when Cissy wants to know if it is time to go home. Cissy as bold as brass goes over to the gentleman to ask the time and he holds his watch to his ear because it has stopped and Gerty hears his cultured voice saying he thought it was eight o’clock.

The choir is singing the Tantum Ergo and Gerty sees the gentleman trying to fix his watch and then he puts his hands back into his pockets.
Edy passes a remark about Master Wylie which makes tears spring to Gerty’s eyes for a moment but under the gaze of the gentleman she tosses her head and says it is a leap year in a loud bright voice. Edy is fuming because of Gerty’s haughty manner but she just manages to hide it. The bells ring in the church and a bat flies around the bell tower in the gathering twilight. The lamps would soon be lit in the streets and Gerty thinks of all her simple little treasures that she keeps so neat and tidy in her room. She even has a quick thought of Master Wylie and the clever way he turned his bicycle in front of her house. Lines of poetry about twilight come into her mind and she decides that one little shortcoming from an accident coming down Dalkey Hill would not hold her back and she would respond to the lure of love in the gentleman’s eyes.

The choir sing Laudate Dominum Omnes Gentes at the end of devotions. The twins call out that they see the fireworks over past the church and Cissy calls to Gerty as they all run down the strand. Gerty is locked in a passionate gaze and with the others gone a tremor of excitement goes through her. She catches her knee in her hand as she looks up at the fireworks and she leans back further and further because there is no one to see only ‘him’. Gerty hears his fast breathing and she knows there is absolution, if only, there were women priests who would not need to be told everything because of their special intuition. Suddenly there is a large Roman candle going higher and higher and Gerty leans back further even than on the swing. She knows that her garters are a matching blue and he isn’t ashamed to look and then the rocket bursts and there are cries of O! and everyone cried O! O!’ Leopold Bloom bows his head under her reproachful glance but it is a secret that will be safe with the little bat that flew back and forth in the evening sky. Cissy calls along the beach to Gerty and with one last glance she walks carefully to join them over the slippery rocks and seaweed. Bloom notices her careful gait and then realizes that she is lame. Bloom thinks about women, their monthlies and the moon. He thinks about the allure of lingerie and women going to so much trouble to dress one another and then only having to take all the clothes off again.
He thinks of Molly and the violet garters. Bloom thinks about women being all chummy with one another and then once they have a man hardly seeing each other like Molly and Josie Powell. There are so many rituals about courting. Boylan’s letter was addressed to Mrs Marion. He might have given her money. Bloom notices that his watch stopped at half past four which seems quite a coincidence. Bloom fixes his wet shirt and his mind races as he breathes a sigh of relief that all is over between Molly and Boylan. He thinks of all sorts of adventures and remembers Molly telling him about Mulvey her first love when she was fifteen. Bloom can still see Gerty and her friends in the distance. Women never miss a trick and have all sorts of subtle ways to be flirtatious with men. A mirror is the best place to advertise if you want to get their attention. Milly was sitting up at Molly’s dressing table when she was only three years old and now she has a beau, a young student, in Mullingar. Another rocket bursts and Bloom spots Gerty looking round in his direction from the far side of the rocks. Bloom was upset after the outburst at Barney Kiernan’s but now feels much better. He wonders if Gerty is her real name and if it was fate that made the ball roll in her direction. Women are always in the company of children. Bloom decides he will call and see Mrs Purefoy at Holles Street Hospital. Molly with her southern blood has more go in her than poor Mrs Breen and Mrs Duggan. Bloom hurts himself slightly as he pulls his foreskin back into place. Perhaps some magnetic field has interfered with his watch. It is amazing that a little steel needle can tell you what is happening in the sky. Bloom thinks about Molly having an orgasm and what happens in his own body. Bloom can smell the rose perfume in the air. Molly likes opoponox and when she gets hot dancing it heightens the smell. Perfume permeates all her clothes and he always recognizes her distinctive smell that conveys so many things. Perhaps women also respond to the smell of men. Bloom tries to smell under his shirt. The soap in his pocket reminds him he has forgotten to go back to get Molly’s lotion. He wants Hynes to pay him back that money he lent him. A man walks back along the beach whom Bloom does not recognize and he still does not know who was the fellow wearing the macintosh at the funeral. There are some signs of rain. The body responds to the atmosphere with aching joints being able to forecast the weather. He counts the flashes from the Bailey Lighthouse. Light makes people feel secure not like being frightened on a dark country road. Colour is just different length rays of light with red rays the longest. It is not yet dark enough to pick out the stars. Bloom thinks about a Home rule sun setting in the southeast. He must be careful not to get damp because the dew is starting to fall. He enjoyed Gerty being young and fresh like Molly was in Matt Dillon’s garden all those years ago. A shame about Gerty being lame. He can see Howth Head in the distance and remembers the day he and Molly made love amongst the rhododendrons. Youth only comes once and you can never go back. He had his youth with Molly. They were both only children. The Bat flies towards Bloom and he swooshes it away. The light is now on in the priests’ house. Again he swooshes the bat and notices him shimmering in the dark. Bloom was stung by a bee last week so is a little wary of things flying about him. Birds and sailors go out over the sea. Bloom thinks of his father having a special relic on the door to remind him of the Jews coming out of Egypt. Sailors need the protection of a scapular or a medal to get back safely. Bloom still ponders if fish ever get seasick?

The bazaar fireworks have finished and the nine o’clock postman makes his rounds, the evening paper is on the streets and the bat still flies here and there. The tide comes slowly in and the night breeze ruffles the ferns out at Howth. Bloom lies out and rests and can see the twinkle from a light ship on Kish bank. Milly had no fear when they went out for a cruise on Erin’s King. Children fear getting lost and spooky masks. Battle games and children pointing guns at one another is harmless fun until they get hold of a real one and it goes off.
When Milly had nettle rash Bloom cured it with calamine lotion. Milly ran to him when Molly chased her with the umbrella and she happily counted the buttons of his waistcoat. She has grown up in no time and suddenly she also is a woman like her mother. Molly told him so much about evenings in Gibraltar as a girl and how she imagined she would marry a lord or a gentleman. It is getting late but he does not want to get home before Molly goes to bed. He will call around to Holles Street Hospital and hopefully Mrs Purefoy will be over her ordeal. Bloom has had an exhausting day with the funeral and chasing that advertisement and coping with that ranting lunatic at Barney Kiernan’s. Bloom is satisfied that he riled him when he said his god was a Jew like him. The most exhausting part was going around to visit Paddy Dignam’s widow so as to ensure she will benefit from the insurance money. Widows seem to thrive but the poor widowers are lost without a woman. Bloom could have just as easily ended up with Josie Powel; such things are all in the lap of the gods. Some people are cursed just like some shops never thrive. Last night Bloom dreamed of Molly wearing breeches and red slippers. Nannetti from the Freeman is on his way to London so Bloom must depend on Haines to talk to Crawford to confirm the editorial which will ensure Keyes places his advertisement. He will buy Molly a petticoat, at least she can fill it out. Bloom bends down and picks up a piece of paper but it is only a page of a copybook. Bloom is pleasantly exhausted from his adventure with Gerty and wonders if he will be attracted to come back like a murderer to the scene of the crime. Maybe he will write a message on the sands of time. He writes ‘I’ with a stick and then sees that the tide will come in and erase everything before he can finish. He throws away the stick and says a fond farewell to Gerty. It is well after nine o’ clock. Bloom decides he will not go the Belfast with Molly and Boylan. He will travel to Ennis as planned for his father’s anniversary. He allows himself a snooze for a few minutes thinking of frills and perfume. The bat returns. A bell chimes but Bloom is sleepy. The cuckoo clock strikes nine in the priests’ house where they are eating fried mutton chops. It is the same clock on the mantelpiece from which Gerty saw the little bird come out because she was always very quick to notice things like that. Cuckoo.

Ulysses comprises 18 EPISODES June 16th 1904 Dublin