Gerty McDowell
extract from the Nausicaa chapter of Ulysses


But Gerty was adamant. She had no intention of being
at their beck and call. If they could run like rossies she could sit so
she said she could see from where she was. The eyes that were fastened upon
her set her pulses tingling. She looked at him a moment, meeting his glance,
and a light broke in upon her. Whitehot passion was in that face, passion
silent as the grave, and it had made her his. At last they were left alone
without the others to pry and pass remarks and she knew he could be trusted
to the death, steadfast, a sterling man, a man of inflexible honour to his
fingertips. His hands and face were working and a tremor went over her.
She leaned back far to look up where the fireworks were and she caught her
knee in her hands so as not to fall back looking up and there was no one
to see only him and her when she revealed all her graceful beautifully shaped
legs like that, supply soft and delicately rounded, and she seemed to hear
the panting of his heart, his hoarse breathing, because she knew about the
passion of men like that, hot-blooded, because Bertha Supple told her once
in dead secret and made her swear she'd never about the gentleman lodger
that was staying with them out of the Congested Districts Board that had
pictures cut out of papers of those skirtdancers and highkickers and she
said he used to do something not very nice that you could imagine sometimes
in the bed. But this was altogether different from a thing like that because
there was all the difference because she could almost feel him draw her
face to his and the first quick hot touch of his handsome lips. Besides
there was absolution so long as you didn't do the other thing before being
married and there ought to be women priests that would understand without
your telling out and Cissy Caffrey too sometimes had that dreamy kind of
dreamy look in her eyes so that she too, my dear, and Winny Rippingham so
mad about actors' photographs and besides it was on account of that other
thing coming on the way it did.

And Jacky Caffrey shouted to look, there was another
and she leaned back and the garters were blue to match on account of the
transparent and they all saw it and shouted to look, look there it was and
she leaned back ever so far to see the fireworks and something queer was
flying about through the air, a soft thing to and fro, dark. And she saw
a long Roman candle going up over the trees up, up, and, in the tense hush,
they were all breathless with excitement as it went higher and higher and
she had to lean back more and more to look up after it, high, high, almost
out of sight, and her face was suffused with a divine, an entrancing blush
from straining back and he could see her other things too, nainsook knickers,
the fabric that caresses the skin, better than those other pettiwidth, the
green, four and eleven, on account of being white and she let him and she
saw that he saw and then it went so high it went out of sight a moment and
she was trembling in every limb from being bent so far back he had a full
view high up above her knee no-one ever not even on the swing or wading
and she wasn't ashamed and he wasn't either to look in that immodest way
like that because he couldn't resist the sight of the wondrous revealment
half offered like those skirt-dancers behaving so immodest before gentlemen
looking and he kept on looking, looking. She would fain have cried to him
chokingly, held out her snowy slender arms to him to come, to feel his lips
laid on her white brow the cry of a young girl's love, a little strangled
cry, wrung from her, that cry that has rung through the ages. And then a
rocket sprang and bang shot blind and O! then the Roman candle burst and
it was like a sigh of O! and everyone cried O!O! in raptures and it gushed
out of it a stream of rain gold hair threads and they shed and ah! they
were all greeny dewy stars falling with golden, O so lively! O so soft,
sweet, soft!