It is 1am on the corner of Beaver Street. Bloom helps Stephen up, and Stephen says he would like a drink of water.
Bloom suggests that they go to the cabman's shelter under Loop Line Bridge. He tries to hail a taxi, but has no luck. They decide to walk.
As they pass a sandstrewer in the street, Bloom recounts to Stephen how lucky he was to get away from the situation with Private Carr and the night watchmen.
A stonecutter in the street makes Stephen think of the Norwegian dramatist Henrik Ibsen, and the smell of a nearby bakery gets Bloom thinking of food. He remembers the bakery's advertisement.
Bloom begins to go on about the dangers of Nighttown, and considers where Stephen might be if Corny Kelleher had not arrived on the scene. Bloom shares his low opinion of the police, and says it's a shame that all police are allowed to be armed. In general, he warns Stephen about "the squandermania of the thing," and tells him, especially, to be careful whom he goes out drinking with (16.3).
When Bloom alludes to Lynch, Stephen again says that Lynch is like Judas.
Stephen pauses as they pass under Loop Line Bridge. The Dublin city watchman Gumley is a friend of his father's. Stephen tries to disappear behind one of the pillars of the bridge, but just then Bloom points out that another man is saluting Stephen.
Stephen salutes back, and Bloom wanders a few steps away to mind his own business. He worries about getting robbed.
The man approaches, and it is Stephen's acquaintance Corley. The narrator explains the origin of his nickname "Long John Corley."
Corley comes on with a sad tale about how he's down and out of a job.
Stephen tells him he should talk to Garret Deasy, as there will probably be an opening at the school in the next few days.
Corley says he was never much of a student and probably isn't cut out for teaching.
He asks Stephen for a loan so he can go to a nearby lodging house. Though encounters like this are regular fare for Stephen, his emotions get the better of him. He finds that all he has in his pockets are half-crowns (British currency), and he gives one to Corley.
Corley asks Stephen if he might have any leads on where to find a job. He recalls seeing Bloom with Blazes Boylan, and wonders if Boylan could let him be a sandwichboardman (like one of the guys from H.E.L.Y's ).
Bloom observes the two of them carefully, and is surprised at the cool assurance with which Stephen handles the man.
When Stephen rejoins Bloom, he passes on Corley's request for a job. At the mention of Boylan, Bloom stares blankly at a nearby bucket dredger.
Bloom asks how much he gave Corley, and is astonished at the amount. Stephen says he did it because Corley had no place to sleep, and Bloom points out that the same is true for Stephen.
He asks Stephen why he left his father's house, and Stephen says, "To seek misfortune" (16.27).
Bloom notes how respected Simon is in Dublin. He tells Stephen, "He takes great pride, quite legitimately, out of you" (16.30).
Bloom suggests Stephen might return to his father's house for the night, and recalls Mulligan and Haines giving Stephen the slip at the tram station earlier that evening.
Stephen recalls a scene at home with his sisters scraping away for something to eat.
Bloom goes on about Mulligan. He says that Mulligan may have put something in Stephen's drink tonight so as to give him the slip. Bloom thinks that Mulligan will probably have quite a successful career, but he tells Stephen that "he is what they call picking your brains" (16.34).
When Stephen doesn't respond, Bloom thinks he has said too much. He thinks of what a hard time Stephen has making ends meet.
Around a nearby ice cream car, some Italian men get in an altercation.
Stephen and Bloom duck into the cabmen's shelter. Bloom whispers to Stephen the rumor that the keeper of the shelter is Skin-the-Goat Fitzharris, the get-a-way driver from the Phoenix Park murders (there is no evidence that this is actually true, though Fitzharris may have been a night watchman after he was released from prison).
As Stephen and Bloom take their seats, the other men look at them and appear curious.
Bloom thinks Stephen could use some food, and orders for the two of them.
Bloom admires the Italian of the men haggling outside, and thinks Stephen should write his poetry in Italian.
Stephen says their Italian is "to fill the ear of a cow elephant. They were haggling over money" (16.47).
Bloom begins to qualify what he said about Italian being beautiful.
The keeper comes to their table with coffee and a bun. Bloom wants to get a look at him, but (trying to be discreet) asks Stephen to do so.
Stephen says, "Sounds are impostures" (16.50). He wonders what there could be in a name.
Bloom agrees with him.
A redbearded sailor approaches and asks Stephen's name. Stephen says his name is Dedalus.
The sailor asks if he knows Simon Dedalus. Stephen says, "I've heard of him" (16.58).
The sailor says that Simon is Irish, and Stephen says, "All too Irish" (16.61).
Bloom is trying to figure how the sailor might know Simon. The sailor recounts a time he saw Simon shoot two eggs off of bottles from fifty yards away. He re-enacts the man's firing in the bar.
Bloom tries to engage himself in the conversation by asking if it was a marksman's contest. The sailor says it was with Hengler's Royal Circus, and that Simon has traveled the world.
Bloom confides to Stephen that it must just be a coincidence (i.e. not the same Simon Dedalus).
The sailor introduces himself as W.B. Murphy, and says that his wife is waiting for him back in Carrigaloe.
Bloom thinks of the sailor's returning home to find that his wife has been unfaithful to him. He thinks of how many stories and myths revolve around the theme of a husband traveling away from home. He thinks, "Never about the runaway wife coming back, however much devoted to the absentee. The face at the window!" (16.79).
Murphy asks a nearby jarvey (driver of a carriage for hire) for a plug of chewing tobacco, and the man gives it to him.
Murphy shows Bloom and Stephen his discharge.
The keeper asks Murphy about his travels, and he begins recounting the places he's been and some of the odd things that he has seen.
Murphy takes out a postcard from Bolivia that he says depicts some starving naked women surrounded by infants eating a dead horse's liver raw. He tells them that glass will keep the natives off because they are afraid of it.
Bloom doesn't believe Murphy's stories. He observes the postcard and notices it is not addressed to Murphy. Looking at it, he thinks about his own travel plans and that despite the fact that he hasn't traveled much he really is a born adventurer.
Bloom considers traveling to the west of Ireland, and perhaps arranging a summer concert tour through there. He thinks about all the places people typically go, and wonders if opening new roads causes a place to be more heavily trafficked or if the demand for a place is what opens new roads. He passes the postcard along to Stephen.
Murphy continues telling stories. He speaks of Chinese men with pills that expand into all sorts of shapes, and of a man stabbed in the back in Trieste. He re-enacts the stabbing with his own blade.
A man in the bar mentions the rumor that the assassins in Phoenix Park were foreign because of the fact that they used knives.
Bloom and Stephen exchange meaningful glances (thinking the keeper may well have been in on the Phoenix Park assassination), but he appears not to notice anything.
Bloom thinks back to the murders, and Murphy asks for his postcard back.
Bloom asks if Murphy has seen the Rock of Gibraltar (thinking of where Molly's from, no doubt), and the sailor appears unsure (thus casting doubt on all his other travels since he would have had to pass by the Rock of Gibraltar to reach many of them). Bloom presses it, and the sailor says that he's sick of the sea.
Bloom begins talking about just what a large portion of the globe (75%) is covered by water. He thinks that someone has to be out there sailing it, but that most men are willing to pass this off on their neighbor since it's a difficult and dangerous life.
Murphy again mentions that he'd like to stay home and says that his eighteen-year-old son Danny just shipped off even though his wife had lined up an easy job for him in Cork.
Murphy pulls down his shirt to reveal two tattoos that he says he had done in Odessa. One is of an anchor, and the other is the number sixteen with the face of his friend Antonio on it. Antonio is frowning in the tattoo, but Murphy stretches the skin on his chest to make it look like he's smiling. The men are amused.
Murphy mentions that Antonio was eaten by sharks, but doesn't seem too bothered by it.
A prostitute, Bridie Kelley, peers in the door of the cabman's shelter. Bloom quickly avoids her gaze, and hides behind the pink (late) edition of the Evening Telegraph. He thinks about how filthy she is and how when men and women love each other they'll watch each other's underthings.
The keeper tells Bridie to leave him alone, and Bloom begins going on to Stephen about how she can't expect to get clients filthy as she is. He thinks that no sober man concerned with his health would go near her.
Stephen didn't even notice her, but makes a comment on prostitutes' lack of concern for the soul. He says, "Fear not them that sell the body but have not power to buy the soul. She is a bad merchant. She buys dear and sells cheap" (16.145).
Bloom goes on about how prostitutes need to be licensed and medically inspected before going on the street.
Bloom asks Stephen about the soul, asking if it is different from the intelligence, which has been linked to (physical, i.e. non-religious) grey matter in the brain.
Stephen quotes Aquinas about the soul being simple and immortal. The mystical bit is out of Bloom's depth, but he presses his point.
Bloom doubts that souls are simple. He asks how someone can believe in God given the prevalence of the scientific method.
Stephen (ironically) says, "O, that has been proved conclusively by several of the best known passages in Holy Writ, apart from circumstantial evidence" (16.152).
The narrator notes that they aren't going to agree on the subject.
Bloom differs with Stephen, and suggests that the gospels themselves are forgeries. He urges Stephen to have the coffee and the bun.
Stephen is about to reply, but his brain is not exactly in tiptop shape.
Bloom stirs Stephen's coffee, and thinks about the Dublin Temperance group, and the good it does for the city.
At Bloom's urging, Stephen tastes his coffee, which isn't all that great.
Bloom tells Stephen he should eat more solid food, that it will benefit both his physical and mental constitution.
Stephen says he has better luck with liquids, and asks Bloom to remove the knife from the table because "It reminds me of Roman history" (16.160).
Bloom removes the knife though he can't understand why it looks Roman.
Bloom asks Stephen if he thinks that Murphy is lying. To himself, Bloom then considers that perhaps there is some truth in Murphy's tales. Bloom wonders if Murphy actually killed his friend Antonio and has just finished off his prison sentence. He concludes by thinking, "the lies a fellow told about himself couldn't probably hold a proverbial candle to the wholesale whoppers other fellows coined about him" (16.164).
Bloom backtracks and thinks of wild things he has seen around Dublin that are analogous to the sailor's story – like a group of Aztecs who sat bow-legged for so long that they couldn't stand up.
Bloom considers that some things from the story actually do fit in reality. Bloom has the prejudiced thought that it's typical of an Italian to stab a fellow in the back (as the Italian does in Murphy's story), but then admits that many of the Italians he knows in Dublin are good hard-working men.
Bloom begins going on about Spanish people and what scammers they are. He says his wife is from Spain, and suspects that climate is related to a person's character. He says that's why he asked if Stephen wrote poetry in Italian.
Stephen notes how passionate the Italians were about ten shillings, and Bloom agrees.
Stephen begins rattling off other favorite Italians, and Bloom, not quite listening, thinks that their passionate temperament is from constantly being in the sun.
Bloom begins to tell Stephen about peeking up at the Greek statues in the Kildare Museum, and he notes that there aren't too many Dublin women like that (i.e. formed like Greek statues) around. He talks about his admiration for the female form.
The sailors are talking about adventures on the sea, Murphy spinning tales foremost among them. They discuss a couple of well-known ship crashes, and then Murphy goes outside to take a swig of rum and go to the bathroom. Bloom observes him from inside the cabman's shelter.
The sound of Murphy's urine wakes a nearby horse, and Gumley almost gets up, but decides not to. Bloom thinks about how profitable Gumley used to be, and how now he's at the end of his tether on account of drinking.
The sailors discuss the decline of Irish shipping, and other recent crashes.
Murphy comes back in, quite drunk and still chewing tobacco, and begins singing sea songs as he plops back down on his seat at the bar.
The keeper (who may or may not be Skin-the-Goat Fitzharris) starts going on about how Ireland has the greatest natural resources in the world. He suggests that England's time is winding down, and thinks that the Irish are their Achilles Heel (because Irish soldiers are so strong, but can refuse to fight). He explains to the men the concept of Achilles Heel, pointing to his own tendon to demonstrate.
The keeper and a man at the bar discuss the strength of the Irish peasant, though they differ over whether or not he should serve the English empire.
Bloom thinks (to himself) that their talk is foolish, and that England is much stronger than they realize. He notes that Irish troops have as often fought for England as against her.
Bloom thinks that he shouldn't say anything about Skin-the-Goat Fitzharris, just leave it be. Though he's not a violent man, Bloom briefly admires the conviction it must have take to stab a man for your beliefs. He then remembers that Fitzharris got off on a lighter sentence because he was just the get-a-way driver.
Their passionate Irish nationalism gets Bloom thinking about the citizen, and he tells Stephen about his argument at Barney Kiernan's pub. He's particularly proud of his line that Christ was a Jew, though he tells Stephen that he himself is not.
Bloom is very proud, and Stephen quotes a line from Romans about Christ descending from the Israelites.
Bloom says that an Irish revolution can't be so sudden; it has to come "on the due installments plan" (16.196). He thinks the fighting between different religious and political factions in Dublin is absurd.
Stephen remembers a couple faction fights, and Bloom thinks that the fights purported to be about honor and the flag, but were actually about the money question – jealousy and greed.
Bloom says that the Jews are constantly the scapegoat, but cites a number of instances where a large Jewish presence in the country benefited it. He says, "they are practical and are proved to be so" (16.202).
Bloom suggests that Catholic priest, on the other hand, encourage poverty. He proposes a sort of utopia where everyone makes a good living, and "Where you can live well, the sense is, if you work" (16.202).
Stephen's only half-listening, but when he hears the last line, he says that Bloom can count him out. Bloom is surprised, and says that work includes literary labor. He says Stephen has every right to live by his pen the way the peasant lives by farming (a bit condescending to someone as ambitious and egotistical as Stephen).
Stephen laughs. He says Bloom thinks he is important because he belongs to Ireland when in fact "Ireland must be important because it belongs to me" (16.209).
Bloom is confused, and Stephen is clearly irritated. He says, "We can't change the country. Let us change the subject" (16.212).
Bloom tries to think of something to say. He's a bit put off by the rebuke, and thinks of promising young literary men who never made it and had no one to blame but themselves (e.g. O'Callaghan). Bloom thinks of the downfall of other prominent public figures, while others can start with nothing and pull themselves up by their bootstraps. He thinks of the importance of flirtation and innuendo in comparison with cannibal tribes who dive right into sex without a moment's thought.
Bloom wonders why he is helping Stephen, but thinks that Stephen can provide intellectual food for thought. He considers writing a story about their experience that night to be published in Titbits.
Still puzzling over what Stephen said, Bloom picks up a copy of the Evening Telegraph and scans the headlines: the Gold Cup race, the burning of the American steam ship, Deasy's letter about foot and mouth, Dignam's funeral (all things we've been hearing about throughout the book).
Bloom decides to read off Dignam's obituary to change the subject. He notes that Stephen and M'Coy are listed as being there though they clearly were not, and also notices that his name is misspelled as L. Boom.
Bloom points out the mistakes to Stephen. Stephen cracks a joke about Deasy's letter, saying he wrote it as if it were addressed to a chosen people in a promised land. He says, the text should read, "Open thy mouth and put thy foot in it" (16.219).
Bloom is a bit confused, but goes along with it. He's shocked that Myles Crawford let so many mistakes go through.
As Stephen reads Deasy's letter, Bloom looks over the result of the Gold Cup race and other stories. He thinks it was dumb luck that Lyons bet on Throwaway, but that that's how gambling tends to go.
The keeper starts on with the rumor that Charles Stewart Parnell (see character description) isn't actually dead. He says that he's just hiding out in South Africa or someplace and will return once the publicity storm passes over.
Bloom wonders if there could possibly be an ounce of truth in the keeper's story. He doubts it, but thinks that even if there was it wouldn't be wise for Parnell to come back after so many people betrayed him. He remembers seeing Parnell at a rally. Bloom returned Parnell's hat to him when it fell off.
Bloom thinks of another case where a mother refused to believe her son was dead at sea, and then a local butcher tried to pretend to be her son. The butcher had to undergo all sorts of public scrutiny (just like the butcher would if he returned home).
The keeper thinks that it is Katherine O'Shea's fault that Parnell fell from grace.
The man at the bar (who looks like the town clerk Henry Campbell) remembers how attractive she was anyway, and the keeper thinks that her husband, William O'Shea wasn't the real thing.
The men laugh as Bloom thinks back on Parnell's story. He remembers how all of their love letters were publicly shared, and how it was a huge shock when it was revealed that Parnell and O'Shea had been sleeping together. A bunch of witnesses came forward and claimed to have seen Parnell scrambling out her bedroom window at different times.
Bloom thinks to himself that Parnell and Katherine were in the right. He thinks "it was simply a case of the husband not being up to the scratch with nothing in common between them beyond the name and then a real man arriving on the scene, strong to the verge of weakness, falling a victim to her siren charms and forgetting home ties" (16.229). It's worth nothing what a sympathetic (and maybe masochistic) view this is considering Bloom's current position as town cuckold.
He thinks, "Can real love, supposing there happens to be another chap in the case, exist between married folk?" (16.229).
Bloom thinks how the whole Parnell case now seems like a dream, and reflects on how time can have odd effects on one's memory.
He remembers that O'Shea, like Molly, was Spanish, and assumes that passion must run in the blood. He comments on O'Shea's Spanish-ness to Stephen.
Off-hand Stephen hums along a nursery rhyme about the king of Spain's daughter, and Bloom thinks that he's talking about Katherine.
Bloom reaches into his pocket to pull out his wallet, where he has a picture of Molly. He makes sure not to let Sweets of Sin fall out of his pocket as he looks for it. He shows the picture to Stephen, who notices how low-cut her dress is.
Bloom says it was taken eight years ago, and was a striking resemblance at the time.
Bloom thinks to himself of Molly as a younger woman, starting her singing career even before the age of sixteen. He thinks of her curves, and how the photograph can't fully capture the female form.
Bloom would like to let the picture remain on the table for a while, but he thinks that it is bad etiquette. Bloom looks away so as not to embarrass Stephen while he's looking at it, and briefly wonders if maybe Molly wasn't home when Boylan got there.
Bloom thinks that he likes being near such a distinguished and highly educated young man. Stephen compliments the picture, and Bloom thinks that he is right to.
Bloom gets back to thinking about Parnell and O'Shea. He thinks of what a great man he was, and how wild it was to be close to him and to return his hat. He wonders why people can't just leave him to rest in his glory – as Bloom did with Dignam earlier that morning.
Bloom is especially irritated by the men in the shelter laughing at Parnell's situation as if they understand everything about it. He thinks that it was really meant to be a private matter between O'Shea and Parnell, and he considers how prevalent sexual affairs are in all sorts of marriages.
Bloom again thinks it is a shame that Stephen is wasting his time with prostitutes. He suspects Stephen will settle down with someone when the time is right, and considers broaching the subject of courtship with him. He thinks how much he appreciates Stephen's company, and that Stephen really should make an effort to eat something.
Bloom asks when Stephen last ate, and he says yesterday (and not just pre-midnight; he means Wednesday). Bloom is astonished.
Bloom thinks that, though they don't agree on all things, there is an affinity between his mind and Stephen's.
Bloom remembers when he was young and interested in politics. When it came to the question of land reform (i.e. Should peasants too poor to pay for their land be kicked off of it?), Bloom took an extremely nationalistic view suggesting a sort of agrarian socialism where all men would contribute by sharing peasant labor.
It's for reasons like that that Bloom was so infuriated by the citizen's attack on his patriotism. He thinks of all the damage politics and propaganda due to young men, and thinks it is a sort of "destruction of the fittest" (16.246).
Bloom thinks it is getting late, and considers the pros and cons of bringing Stephen home. He remembers a time when he brought a stray dog home and Molly threw a fit, and thinks of how to word it when he asks Stephen.
Bloom imagines that Murphy won't exactly rush home to his (hypothetical) wife, and will probably spend some time in the nearby brothels. He again chuckles over telling the citizen that his God was a Jew.
He thinks, "People could put up with being bitten by a wolf but what properly riled them was a bite from a sheep" (16.247).
Taking back the picture of Molly, Bloom suggests that Stephen come home with him. Bloom (in a fantastic late night state of mind) is full of bright ideas for both himself and Stephen: writing literature, doing journalism, winning the prize in the Titbits, singing an Italian duet, etc.
The men in the bar read out bits of news to each other, but no one seems particularly interested. Murphy asks to see the paper and slips on some green glasses to read it. The keeper plays with one of his boots that seems to be bothering his foot.
Bloom makes a signal to the keeper, who is not paying attention, and leaves money for both him and Stephen.
Stephen is still feeling a bit out of it, and stops in the doorway. He says he never understood why they lift the chairs up at night, and Bloom helpfully tells him that it's to sweep the floor in the morning.
Bloom slips around to Stephen's right side and takes his arm, since Stephen is still feeling a bit weak.
They briefly discuss the story about Parnell's coffin being full of stones, and then move on to music. Bloom confesses that Wagner (very famous modern composer of the time) is too heavy for him, but lists a number of other classical artists that he likes. He praises Molly's singing, and mentions that he heard Simon Dedalus sing Martha just yesterday.
Stephen begins talking about music that he likes, much of which Bloom does not recognize but claims to have a heard of.
A horse dragging a sweeper (used to clean the streets at night) passes by as they are about to step into the street.
Bloom grabs Stephen's sleeve. He says, "Our lives are in peril tonight. Beware of the steamroller" (16.274).
Bloom observes the sad looking horse as it passes by. He begins thinking about men's dominion over animals, and considers a bunch of rumored ways to hypnotize different types of animals.
Stephen is still going on about music, but then Bloom regains his train of thought and butts in that Molly would very much like to meet Stephen since she appreciates music of any kind.
Bloom thinks that Stephen looks like his mother and wonders if he has a voice like Simon's.
Stephen begins singing some lines from the German song Johannes Jeep. Bloom is baffled by how good he is. He thinks that if he were properly managed, he could be a singing sensation among Dublin high society and still have time for literature on the side.
The sweeper's horse stops and takes a big pooh. The driver waits.
The two of them step over the dung and continue walking. Stephen finishes singing the ballad, and their conversation moves into a number of other topics.
The sweeper turns and watches the two of them walk into the night, and the narrator suggests that they look like a happily married couple, arm in arm.