Mr Bloom began to speak with sudden eagerness to his companions’ faces.
—That’s an awfully good one that’s going the rounds about Reuben J and the son.
—About the boatman? Mr Power asked.
—Yes. Isn’t it awfully good?
—What is that? Mr Dedalus asked. I didn’t hear it.
—There was a girl in the case, Mr Bloom began, and he determined to send him to the Isle of Man out of harm’s way but when they were both …
—What? Mr Dedalus asked. That confirmed bloody hobbledehoy is it?
—Yes, Mr Bloom said. They were both on the way to the boat and he tried to drown…
—Drown Barabbas! Mr Dedalus cried. I wish to Christ he did!
Mr Power sent a long laugh down his shaded nostrils.
—No, Mr Bloom said, the son himself…
Martin Cunningham thwarted his speech rudely:
—Reuben and the son were piking it down the quay next the river on their way to the Isle of Man boat and the young chiseller suddenly got loose and over the wall with him into the Liffey.
—For God’s sake! Mr Dedalus exclaimed in fright. Is he dead?
—Dead! Martin Cunningham cried. Not he! A boatman got a pole and fished him out by the slack of the breeches and he was landed up to the father on the quay more dead than alive. Half the town was there.
—Yes, Mr Bloom said. But the funny part is…
—And Reuben J, Martin Cunningham said, gave the boatman a florin for saving his son’s life.
A stifled sigh came from under Mr Power’s hand.
—O, he did, Martin Cunningham affirmed. Like a hero. A silver florin.
—Isn’t it awfully good? Mr Bloom said eagerly.
—One and eightpence too much, Mr Dedalus said drily.
Mr Power’s choked laugh burst quietly in the carriage.
—Eight plums a penny! Eight for a penny!
As a way of honoring what Joyce was doing when he placed the narative so squarely in Dublin at a particular time, whenever possible I like to include in my drawings architecture and props from the period. I searched “River Liffey Dublin 1900” in Google and it returned a picture of Grattan Bridge. This was perfect for me as I wanted to draw the scene of the boy being fished out of the Liffey and the bridge would provide a reference point to a possible location.The bridge still stand as it did on the day the novel took place ( source ).
This passage sees Bloom trying to change the subject from the blatant anti-Semitism of his carriage mates only to have it turned back around on him when Mr. Dedalus declares that a silver florin is “One and eightpence too much” for the life of a young Jewish boy.