The door opened quietly and closed. A quick whisper ran through the class: the prefect of studies. There was an instant of dead silence and then the loud crack of a pandybat on the last desk. Stephen’s heart leapt up in fear.
—Any boys want flogging here, Father Arnall? cried the prefect of studies. Any lazy idle loafers that want flogging in this class?
He came to the middle of the class and saw Fleming on his knees.
—Hoho! he cried. Who is this boy? Why is he on his knees? What is your name, boy?
—Hoho, Fleming! An idler of course. I can see it in your eye. Why is he on his knees, Father Arnall?
—He wrote a bad Latin theme, Father Arnall said, and he missed all the questions in grammar.
—Of course he did! cried the prefect of studies, of course he did! A born idler! I can see it in the corner of his eye.
He banged his pandybat down on the desk and cried:
—Up, Fleming! Up, my boy!
Fleming stood up slowly.
—Hold out! cried the prefect of studies.
Fleming held out his hand. The pandybat came down on it with a loud smacking sound: one, two, three, four, five, six.
The pandybat came down again in six loud quick smacks.
—Kneel down! cried the prefect of studies.
Fleming knelt down, squeezing his hands under his armpits, his face contorted with pain; but Stephen knew how hard his hands were because Fleming was always rubbing rosin into them. But perhaps he was in great pain for the noise of the pandybat was terrible. Stephen’s heart was beating and fluttering.
—At your work, all of you! shouted the prefect of studies. We want no lazy idle loafers here, lazy idle little schemers. At your work, I tell you. Father Dolan will be in to see you every day. Father Dolan will be in tomorrow.
He poked one of the boys in the side with his pandybat, saying:
—You, boy! When will Father Dolan be in again?
—Tomorrow, sir, said Tom Furlong’s voice.
—Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, said the prefect of studies. Make up your minds for that. Every day Father Dolan. Write away. You, boy, who are you?
Stephen’s heart jumped suddenly.
—Why are you not writing like the others?
He could not speak with fright.
—Why is he not writing, Father Arnall?
—He broke his glasses, said Father Arnall, and I exempted him from work.
—Broke? What is this I hear? What is this your name is! said the prefect of studies.
—Out here, Dedalus. Lazy little schemer. I see schemer in your face. Where did you break your glasses?
Stephen stumbled into the middle of the class, blinded by fear and haste.
—Where did you break your glasses? repeated the prefect of studies.
—The cinder-path, sir.
—Hoho! The cinder-path! cried the prefect of studies. I know that trick.
Stephen lifted his eyes in wonder and saw for a moment Father Dolan’s white-grey not young face, his baldy white-grey head with fluff at the sides of it, the steel rims of his spectacles and his no-coloured eyes looking through the glasses. Why did he say he knew that trick?