Maurice grinned at his father and then at his brother.
Mr Dedalus screwed his glass into his eye and stared hard at both his sons. Stephen mumbled his bread without answering his father’s gaze.
—By the bye, said Mr Dedalus at length, the rector, or provincial rather, was telling me that story about you and Father Dolan. You’re an impudent thief, he said.
—O, he didn’t, Simon!
—Not he! said Mr Dedalus. But he gave me a great account of the whole affair. We were chatting, you know, and one word borrowed another. And, by the way, who do you think he told me will get that job in the corporation? But I’ll tell you that after. Well, as I was saying, we were chatting away quite friendly and he asked me did our friend here wear glasses still, and then he told me the whole story.
—And was he annoyed, Simon?
—Annoyed? Not he! MANLY LITTLE CHAP! he said.
Mr Dedalus imitated the mincing nasal tone of the provincial.
Father Dolan and I, when I told them all at dinner about it, Father Dolan and I had a great laugh over it. YOU BETTER MIND YOURSELF FATHER DOLAN, said I, OR YOUNG DEDALUS WILL SEND YOU UP FOR TWICE NINE. We had a famous laugh together over it. Ha! Ha! Ha!
Mr Dedalus turned to his wife and interjected in his natural voice:
—Shows you the spirit in which they take the boys there. O, a jesuit for your life, for diplomacy!
He reassumed the provincial’s voice and repeated:
—I TOLD THEM ALL AT DINNER ABOUT IT AND FATHER DOLAN AND I AND ALL OF US WE HAD A HEARTY LAUGH TOGETHER OVER IT. HA! HA! HA!
The night of the Whitsuntide play had come and Stephen from the window of the dressing-room looked out on the small grass-plot across which lines of Chinese lanterns were stretched. He watched the visitors come down the steps from the house and pass into the theatre. Stewards in evening dress, old Belvedereans, loitered in groups about the entrance to the theatre and ushered in the visitors with ceremony. Under the sudden glow of a lantern he could recognize the smiling face of a priest.
The Blessed Sacrament had been removed from the tabernacle and the first benches had been driven back so as to leave the dais of the altar and the space before it free. Against the walls stood companies of barbells and Indian clubs; the dumbbells were piled in one corner: and in the midst of countless hillocks of gymnasium shoes and sweaters and singlets in untidy brown parcels there stood the stout leather-jacketed vaulting horse waiting its turn to be carried up on the stage and set in the middle of the winning team at the end of the gymnastic display.
Stephen, though in deference to his reputation for essay writing he had been elected secretary to the gymnasium, had had no part in the first section of the programme but in the play which formed the second section he had the chief part, that of a farcical pedagogue. He had been cast for it on account of his stature and grave manners for he was now at the end of his second year at Belvedere and in number two.