Two letters and a card lay on the hallfloor. He stooped and gathered them. Mrs Marion Bloom. His quickened heart slowed at once. Bold hand. Mrs Marion.
Entering the bedroom he halfclosed his eyes and walked through warm yellow twilight towards her tousled head.
—Who are the letters for?
He looked at them. Mullingar. Milly.
—A letter for me from Milly, he said carefully, and a card to you. And a letter for you.
He laid her card and letter on the twill bedspread near the curve of her knees.
—Do you want the blind up?
Letting the blind up by gentle tugs halfway his backward eye saw her glance at the letter and tuck it under her pillow.
—That do? he asked, turning.
She was reading the card, propped on her elbow.
—She got the things, she said.
He waited till she had laid the card aside and curled herself back slowly with a snug sigh.
—Hurry up with that tea, she said. I’m parched.
—The kettle is boiling, he said.
But he delayed to clear the chair: her striped petticoat, tossed soiled linen: and lifted all in an armful on to the foot of the bed.
As he went down the kitchen stairs she called:
—Scald the teapot.