An old servant was sweeping at the end of the landing. He asked him where was the rector’s room and the old servant pointed to the door at the far end and looked after him as he went on to it and knocked.
There was no answer. He knocked again more loudly and his heart jumped when he heard a muffled voice say:
He turned the handle and opened the door and fumbled for the handle of the green baize door inside. He found it and pushed it open and went in.
He saw the rector sitting at a desk writing. There was a skull on the desk and a strange solemn smell in the room like the old leather of chairs.
His heart was beating fast on account of the solemn place he was in and the silence of the room: and he looked at the skull and at the rector’s kind-looking face.
—Well, my little man, said the rector, what is it?
Stephen swallowed down the thing in his throat and said:
—I broke my glasses, sir.
The rector opened his mouth and said:
Then he smiled and said:
—Well, if we broke our glasses we must write home for a new pair.
—I wrote home, sir, said Stephen, and Father Arnall said I am not to study till they come.
—Quite right! said the rector.
Stephen swallowed down the thing again and tried to keep his legs and his voice from shaking.
—Father Dolan came in today and pandied me because I was not writing my theme.
The rector looked at him in silence and he could feel the blood rising to his face and the tears about to rise to his eyes.
The rector said:
—Your name is Dedalus, isn’t it?
—And where did you break your glasses?
—On the cinder-path, sir. A fellow was coming out of the bicycle house and I fell and they got broken. I don’t know the fellow’s name.
The rector looked at him again in silence. Then he smiled and said:
—O, well, it was a mistake; I am sure Father Dolan did not know.
—But I told him I broke them, sir, and he pandied me.
—Did you tell him that you had written home for a new pair? the rector asked.
—O well then, said the rector, Father Dolan did not understand. You can say that I excuse you from your lessons for a few days.
Stephen said quickly for fear his trembling would prevent him:
—Yes, sir, but Father Dolan said he will come in tomorrow to pandy me again for it.
—Very well, the rector said, it is a mistake and I shall speak to Father Dolan myself. Will that do now?
Stephen felt the tears wetting his eyes and murmured:
—O yes sir, thanks.
The rector held his hand across the side of the desk where the skull was and Stephen, placing his hand in it for a moment, felt a cool moist palm.