—You may return to your places, you two.
Fleming and Stephen rose and, walking to their seats, sat down. Stephen, scarlet with shame, opened a book quickly with one weak hand and bent down upon it, his face close to the page.
It was unfair and cruel because the doctor had told him not to read without glasses and he had written home to his father that morning to send him a new pair. And Father Arnall had said that he need not study till the new glasses came. Then to be called a schemer before the class and to be pandied when he always got the card for first or second and was the leader of the Yorkists! How could the prefect of studies know that it was a trick? He felt the touch of the prefect’s fingers as they had steadied his hand and at first he had thought he was going to shake hands with him because the fingers were soft and firm: but then in an instant he had heard the swish of the soutane sleeve and the crash. It was cruel and unfair to make him kneel in the middle of the class then: and Father Arnall had told them both that they might return to their places without making any difference between them. He listened to Father Arnall’s low and gentle voice as he corrected the themes. Perhaps he was sorry now and wanted to be decent. But it was unfair and cruel. The prefect of studies was a priest but that was cruel and unfair. And his white-grey face and the no-coloured eyes behind the steel-rimmed spectacles were cruel looking because he had steadied the hand first with his firm soft fingers and that was to hit it better and louder.
—It’s a stinking mean thing, that’s what it is, said Fleming in the corridor as the classes were passing out in file to the refectory, to pandy a fellow for what is not his fault.
—You really broke your glasses by accident, didn’t you? Nasty Roche asked.
Stephen felt his heart filled by Fleming’s words and did not answer.
—Of course he did! said Fleming. I wouldn’t stand it. I’d go up and tell the rector on him.
—Yes, said Cecil Thunder eagerly, and I saw him lift the pandy-bat over his shoulder and he’s not allowed to do that.
—Did they hurt you much? Nasty Roche asked.
—Very much, Stephen said.
—I wouldn’t stand it, Fleming repeated, from Baldyhead or any other Baldyhead. It’s a stinking mean low trick, that’s what it is. I’d go straight up to the rector and tell him about it after dinner.
—Yes, do. Yes, do, said Cecil Thunder.
—Yes, do. Yes, go up and tell the rector on him, Dedalus, said Nasty Roche, because he said that he’d come in tomorrow again and pandy you.
—Yes, yes. Tell the rector, all said.
And there were some fellows out of second of grammar listening and one of them said: