The Mabbot street entrance of nighttown, before which stretches an uncobbled transiding set with skeleton tracks, red and green will-o'-the-wisps and danger signals. Rows of flimsy houses with gaping doors. Rare lamps with faint rainbow fans. Round Rabaiotti's halted ice gondola stunted men and women squabble. They grab wafers between which are wedged lumps of coal and copper snow. Sucking, they scatter slowly. Children. The swancomb of the gondola, highreared, forges on through the murk, white and blue under a lighthouse. Whistles call and answer.
THE CALLS Wait, my love, and I'll be with you.
THE ANSWERS Round behind the stable.
(A deaf mute idiot with goggle eyes, his shapeless mouth dribbling, jerks past, shaken in Saint Vitus' dance. A chain of children's hands imprisons him.)
THE CHILDREN Kithoguel Salute.
THE IDIOT (Lifts a palsied left arm and gurgles.) Grhahute!
THE CHILDREN Where's the great light?
THE IDIOT (Gobbing.) Ghaghahest.
(They release him. He jerks on. A pygmy woman swings on a rope slung between the railings, counting. A form sprawled against a dustbin and muffled by its arm and hat moves, groans, grinding growling teeth, and snores again. On a step a gnome totting among a rubbish tip crouches to shoulder a sack of rags and bones. A crone standing by with a smoky oil lamp rams the last bottle in the maw of his sack. He heaves his booty, tugs askew his peaked cap and hobbles off mutely. The crone makes back for her lair swaying her lamp. A bandy child, asquat on the doorstep with a papershuttlecock, crawls sidling after her in spurts, clutches her skirt, scrambles up. A drunken navvy ups with both hands the railings of an area, lurching heavily. At a corner two night watch in shoulder capes, their hands upon their staffholsters, loom tall. A plate crashes; a woman screams; a child wails. Oaths of a man roar, mutter, cease. Figures wander, lurk, peer from warrens. In a room lit by a candle stuck in a bottleneck a slut combs out the tatts from the hair of a scrofulous child. Cissy Caffrey's voice, still young, sings shrill from a lane.)
I gave it to Molly
(Private Cart and Private Compton, swaggersticks tight in their oxters, as they march unsteadily rightaboutface and burst together from their mouths a volleyed fart. Laughter of men from the lane. A hoarse virago retorts.)
THE VIRAGO Signs on you, hairy arse. More power the Cavan girl.
CISSY CAFFREY More luck to me. Cavan, Cootehill and Belturbet.
I gave it to Nelly
(Private Cart and Private Compton turn and counterretort, their tunics bloodbright in a lampglow, black sockets of caps on their blond copper polls. Stephen Dedalus and Lynch pass through the crowd close to the redcoats.)
PRIVATE COMPTON (Jerks his finger.) Way for the parson.
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