Athy, who had been silent, said quietly:
—You are all wrong.
All turned towards him eagerly.
—Do you know?
—Who told you?
—Tell us, Athy.
Athy pointed across the playground to where Simon Moonan was walking by himself kicking a stone before him.
—Ask him, he said.
The fellows looked there and then said:
—Is he in it?
Athy lowered his voice and said:
—Do you know why those fellows scut? I will tell you but you must not let on you know.
—Tell us, Athy. Go on. You might if you know.
He paused for a moment and then said mysteriously:
—They were caught with Simon Moonan and Tusker Boyle in the square one night.
The fellows looked at him and asked:
All the fellows were silent: and Athy said:
—And that’s why.
Stephen looked at the faces of the fellows but they were all looking across the playground. He wanted to ask somebody about it. What did that mean about the smugging in the square? Why did the five fellows out of the higher line run away for that? It was a joke, he thought. Simon Moonan had nice clothes and one night he had shown him a ball of creamy sweets that the fellows of the football fifteen had rolled down to him along the carpet in the middle of the refectory when he was at the door. It was the night of the match against the Bective Rangers; and the ball was made just like a red and green apple only it opened and it was full of the creamy sweets. And one day Boyle had said that an elephant had two tuskers instead of two tusks and that was why he was called Tusker Boyle but some fellows called him Lady Boyle because he was always at his nails, paring them.
Eileen had long thin cool white hands too because she was a girl. They were like ivory; only soft. That was the meaning of TOWER OF IVORY but protestants could not understand it and made fun of it. One day he had stood beside her looking into the hotel grounds. A waiter was running up a trail of bunting on the flagstaff and a fox terrier was scampering to and fro on the sunny lawn. She had put her hand into his pocket where his hand was and he had felt how cool and thin and soft her hand was. She had said that pockets were funny things to have: and then all of a sudden she had broken away and had run laughing down the sloping curve of the path. Her fair hair had streamed out behind her like gold in the sun. TOWER OF IVORY. HOUSE OF GOLD. By thinking of things you could understand them.
But why in the square? You went there when you wanted to do something. It was all thick slabs of slate and water trickled all day out of tiny pinholes and there was a queer smell of stale water there. And behind the door of one of the closets there was a drawing in red pencil of a bearded man in a Roman dress with a brick in each hand and underneath was the name of the drawing: