Brings out the darkness of her eyes. Looking at me, the sheet up to her eyes, Spanish, smelling herself, when I was fixing the links in my cuffs. Those homely recipes are often the best: strawberries for the teeth: nettles and rainwater: oatmeal they say steeped in buttermilk. Skinfood. One of the old queen’s sons, duke of Albany was it? had only one skin. Leopold, yes. Three we have. Warts, bunions and pimples to make it worse. But you want a perfume too. What perfume does your? Peau d’Espagne. That orangeflower water is so fresh. Nice smell these soaps have. Pure curd soap. Time to get a bath round the corner. Hammam. Turkish. Massage. Dirt gets rolled up in your navel. Nicer if a nice girl did it. Also I think I. Yes I. Do it in the bath. Curious longing I. Water to water. Combine business with pleasure. Pity no time for massage. Feel fresh then all the day. Funeral be rather glum.
—Yes, sir, the chemist said. That was two and nine. Have you brought a bottle?
—No, Mr Bloom said. Make it up, please. I’ll call later in the day and I’ll take one of these soaps. How much are they?
Mr Bloom raised a cake to his nostrils. Sweet lemony wax.
—I’ll take this one, he said. That makes three and a penny.
—Yes, sir, the chemist said. You can pay all together, sir, when you come back.
—Good, Mr Bloom said.
He strolled out of the shop, the newspaper baton under his armpit, the coolwrappered soap in his left hand.
At his armpit Bantam Lyons’ voice and hand said:
—Hello, Bloom. What’s the best news? Is that today’s? Show us a minute.
Shaved off his moustache again, by Jove! Long cold upper lip. To look younger. He does look balmy. Younger than I am.
Bantam Lyons’s yellow blacknailed fingers unrolled the baton. Wants a wash too. Take off the rough dirt. Good morning, have you used Pears’ soap? Dandruff on his shoulders. Scalp wants oiling.
—I want to see about that French horse that’s running today, Bantam Lyons said. Where the bugger is it?
The “Leopold” that Bloom mentions having only one layer of skin is Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, 8th son of Queen Victoria, who had haemophilia. According to the Haemophilia page on Wikipedia discoveries as to the actual cause of bleeding diseases weren’t made until a little later in the early 20th century (wiki ). So it may have been current that Bloom understands the disease to be about layers of skin.
Throughout Lotus Eaters Bloom’s thoughts oscillate between women as the objects of his disire. The two primary focuses have been Molly and Martha, but in this passage the character of the girl from the Turkish bath and even Bloom himself are mentioned as a way to fulfil his need for sexual contact. I found an interesting passage outlining this concept in Franco Morett’s book Modern Epic: The World-system from Goethe to García Márquez, passage found here.