Two Vestal Virgins--- Two Dublin vestals, Stephen said, elderly and pious, have lived fifty and fiftythree years in Fumbally's lane.--- Where is that? the professor asked.--- Off Blackpitts.--- They want to see the views of Dublin from the top of Nelson's pillar. They save up three and tenpence in a red tin letterbox moneybox. They shake out the threepenny bits and a sixpence and coax out the pennies with the blade of a knife. Two and three in silver and one and seven in coppers. They put on their bonnets and best clothes and take their umbrellas for fear it may come on to rain.--- Wise virgins, professor MacHugh said.
--- They buy one and fourpenceworth of brawn and four slices of panloaf at the north city dining rooms in Marlborough street from Miss Kate Collins, proprietress... They purchase four and twenty ripe plums from a girl at the foot of Nelson's pillar to take off the thirst of the brawn. They give two threepenny bits to the gentleman at the turnstile and begin to waddle slowly up the winding staircase, grunting, encouraging each other, afraid of the dark, panting, one asking the other have you the brawn, praising God and the Blessed Virgin, threatening to come down, peeping at the airslits. Glory be to God. They had no idea it was that high.
--- Their names are Anne Kearns and Florence MacCabe. Anne Kearns has the lumbago for which she rubs on Lourdes water given her by a lady who got a bottleful from a passionist father. Florence MacCabe takes a crubeen and a bottle of double X for supper every Saturday.
--- Antithesis, the professor said, nodding twice. Vestal virgins. I can see them.
--- When they have eaten the brawn and the bread and wiped their twenty fingers in the paper the bread was wrapped in, they go nearer to the railings.
--- Something for you, the professor explained to Myles Crawford. Two old Dublin women on the top of Nelson's pillar.
--- That's new, Myles Crawford said. That's copy. Out for the waxies' Dargle. Two old trickies, what?
--- But they are afraid the pillar will fall, Stephen went on. They see the roots and argue about where the different churches are: Rathmines' blue dome, Adam and Eve's, saint Laurence O'Toole's. But it makes them giddy to look so they pull up their skirts...
--- Easy all, Myles Crawford said, no poetic licence. We're in the archdiocese here.
--- And settle down on their striped petticoats, peering up at the statue of the onehandled adulterer.
--- Onehandled adulterer! the professor cried. I like that. I see the idea. I see what you mean.
--- It gives them a crick in their necks, Stephen said, and they are too tired to look up or down or to speak. They put the bag of plums between them and eat the plums out of it one after another, wiping off with their handkerchiefs the plumjuice that dribbles out of their mouths and spitting the plum stones slowly out between the railings.
He gave a sudden loud young laugh as a close.
--- But what do you call it? Myles Crawford asked. Where did they get the plums?
--- Call it, wait, the professor said, opening his long lips wide to reflect. Call it, let me see. Call it: deus nobis hæc otia fecit.
--- No, Stephen said, I call it A Pisgah Sight of Palestine or the Parable of the Plums.--- From Ulysses
©1942 Nora Joseph Joyce