Balbus was building a wall.
Some fellow had drawn it there for a cod. It had a funny face but it was very like a man with a beard. And on the wall of another closet there was written in backhand in beautiful writing:
Julius Caesar wrote The Calico Belly.
Perhaps that was why they were there because it was a place where some fellows wrote things for cod. But all the same it was queer what Athy said and the way he said it. It was not a cod because they had run away. He looked with the others across the playground and began to feel afraid.
At last Fleming said:
—And we are all to be punished for what other fellows did?
—I won’t come back, see if I do, Cecil Thunder said. Three days’ silence in the refectory and sending us up for six and eight every minute.
—Yes, said Wells. And old Barrett has a new way of twisting the note so that you can’t open it and fold it again to see how many ferulae you are to get. I won’t come back too.
—Yes, said Cecil Thunder, and the prefect of studies was in second of grammar this morning.
—Let us get up a rebellion, Fleming said. Will we?
All the fellows were silent. The air was very silent and you could hear the cricket bats but more slowly than before: pick, pock.
—What is going to be done to them?
—Simon Moonan and Tusker are going to be flogged, Athy said, and the fellows in the higher line got their choice of flogging or being expelled.
—And which are they taking? asked the fellow who had spoken first.
—All are taking expulsion except Corrigan, Athy answered. He’s going to be flogged by Mr Gleeson.
—I know why, Cecil Thunder said. He is right and the other fellows are wrong because a flogging wears off after a bit but a fellow that has been expelled from college is known all his life on account of it. Besides Gleeson won’t flog him hard.
—It’s best of his play not to, Fleming said.
—I wouldn’t like to be Simon Moonan and Tusker Cecil Thunder said. But I don’t believe they will be flogged. Perhaps they will be sent up for twice nine.
—No, no, said Athy. They’ll both get it on the vital spot. Wells rubbed himself and said in a crying voice:
—Please, sir, let me off!
Athy grinned and turned up the sleeves of his jacket, saying:
It can’t be helped;
It must be done.
So down with your breeches
And out with your bum.
The fellows laughed; but he felt that they were a little afraid. In the silence of the soft grey air he heard the cricket bats from here and from there: pock. That was a sound to hear but if you were hit then you would feel a pain. The pandybat made a sound too but not like that. The fellows said it was made of whalebone and leather with lead inside: and he wondered what was the pain like. There were different kinds of sounds. A long thin cane would have a high whistling sound and he wondered what was that pain like. It made him shivery to think of it and cold: and what Athy said too. But what was there to laugh at in it? It made him shivery: but that was because you always felt like a shiver when you let down your trousers. It was the same in the bath when you undressed yourself. He wondered who had to let them down, the master or the boy himself. O how could they laugh about it that way?