Ned Lambert glanced back.
—Bloom, he said, Madame Marion Tweedy that was, is, I mean, the soprano. She’s his wife.
—O, to be sure, John Henry Menton said. I haven’t seen her for some time. She was a finelooking woman. I danced with her, wait, fifteen seventeen golden years ago, at Mat Dillon’s in Roundtown. And a good armful she was.
He looked behind through the others.
—What is he? he asked. What does he do? Wasn’t he in the stationery line? I fell foul of him one evening, I remember, at bowls.
Ned Lambert smiled.
—Yes, he was, he said, in Wisdom Hely’s. A traveller for blottingpaper.
—In God’s name, John Henry Menton said, what did she marry a coon like that for? She had plenty of game in her then.
—Has still, Ned Lambert said. He does some canvassing for ads.
John Henry Menton’s large eyes stared ahead.
Martin Cunningham emerged from a sidepath, talking gravely.
Solicitor, I think. I know his face. Menton, John Henry, solicitor, commissioner for oaths and affidavits. Dignam used to be in his office. Mat Dillon’s long ago. Jolly Mat. Convivial evenings. Cold fowl, cigars, the Tantalus glasses. Heart of gold really. Yes, Menton. Got his rag out that evening on the bowlinggreen because I sailed inside him. Pure fluke of mine: the bias. Why he took such a rooted dislike to me. Hate at first sight. Molly and Floey Dillon linked under the lilactree, laughing. Fellow always like that, mortified if women are by.
Got a dinge in the side of his hat. Carriage probably.
—Excuse me, sir, Mr Bloom said beside them.
—Your hat is a little crushed, Mr Bloom said pointing.
John Henry Menton stared at him for an instant without moving.
—There, Martin Cunningham helped, pointing also. John Henry Menton took off his hat, bulged out the dinge and smoothed the nap with care on his coatsleeve. He clapped the hat on his head again.
—It’s all right now, Martin Cunningham said.
John Henry Menton jerked his head down in acknowledgment.
—Thank you, he said shortly.
They walked on towards the gates. Mr Bloom, chapfallen, drew behind a few paces so as not to overhear. Martin laying down the law. Martin could wind a sappyhead like that round his little finger, without his seeing it.
Oyster eyes. Never mind. Be sorry after perhaps when it dawns on him. Get the pull over him that way.
Thank you. How grand we are this morning!