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The time is 4 p.m. In the bar of the Ormond Hotel, a number of characters assemble. Boylan has an appointment there before his meeting with Molly. Bloom follows him to the bar. He watches his movements with helpless jealousy. Miss Douce and Miss Kennedy, barmaids at the Ormond Hotel, are watching the vice- regal procession. The boot-boy brings them their tea. They sit chatting and giggling. Meanwhile, Bloom walks through the streets. He remembers his encounter with Dedalus at the library. The girls see him pass by, and giggle at the thought of marriage to him.
Simon Dedalus comes into the bar and welcomes Miss Douce back from her holidays. As she serves him, she sings a snatch of a song. Bloom, meanwhile, thinks that he must write a reply to Martha. Lenehan comes into the bar and asks for Boylan. Miss Kennedy, with her eyes fixed on her book, replies absently. He mocks her by an elaborate pretence of reading aloud. He then turns to Simon Dedalus and observes that he has recently seen Stephen. Simon seems more interested in his drink than in the words of his son. Lenehan turns to Miss Douce and chats about the piano, which has just been tuned by the blind youth. Meanwhile, Bloom is buying paper for his letter to Martha.
Miss Douce sings as she goes about her tasks. Boylan comes in, elegant and dashing. The barmaids welcome him warmly. Bloom, on his way back, sees Boylan’s car outside the bar. He seizes the chance appearance of a friend, Ritchie Goulding, as an opportunity to go with him into the bar. They sit quietly at a table near the door. Boylan and Lenehan flirt vigorously with the barmaids. Boylan leaves, as Ben Dollard and the wretched Father Cowley come in. Bloom hears the noise as Boylan’s car drives off to his assignation with Molly. Pat, the waiter, brings food to Bloom and Goulding. Those at the bar cluster round the piano. Father Cowley plays and Simon sings an air from Martha in a moving voice. Bloom is most impressed by his skill. He remembers his pen friend, Martha and the beauty of Molly in the songful days of their courtship. He gets some notepaper from Pat and begins his letter. He is embarrassed by Goulding’s obvious interest in what he is writing. Constantly he thinks of Boylan’s movements. By now he must be nearly at the house.
Ben Dollard sings, and Bloom thinks of Dollard’s ruined career. Now he spends his time doing newspaper competitions and cross-word puzzles in the hope of winning a prize. They all listen intently, to the moving ballad. Bloom looks at Miss Douce in the mirror. She is aware of his gaze. He contemplates on the emotions women feel about music. Overwhelmed by a sense of melancholy and loneliness he determines to leave before the song is over. He checks his piece of soap and the card in his hat and goes out. He walks along the streets. He feels the gassy effects of the cider, while those left in the bar discuss him and his wife. Simon Dedalus had not noticed that Bloom was there.