—Not a doubt of it, Mr Hackett! Very fine! Not a doubt of it!
In the middle of the hall the prefect of the college sodality was speaking earnestly, in a soft querulous voice, with a boarder. As he spoke he wrinkled a little his freckled brow and bit, between his phrases, at a tiny bone pencil.
—I hope the matric men will all come. The first arts’ men are pretty sure. Second arts, too. We must make sure of the newcomers.
Temple bent again across Cranly, as they were passing through the doorway, and said in a swift whisper:
—Do you know that he is a married man? he was a married man before they converted him. He has a wife and children somewhere. By hell, I think that’s the queerest notion I ever heard! Eh?
His whisper trailed off into sly cackling laughter. The moment they were through the doorway Cranly seized him rudely by the neck and shook him, saying:
—You flaming floundering fool! I’ll take my dying bible there isn’t a bigger bloody ape, do you know, than you in the whole flaming bloody world!
Temple wriggled in his grip, laughing still with sly content, while Cranly repeated flatly at every rude shake:
—A flaming flaring bloody idiot!
They crossed the weedy garden together. The president, wrapped in a heavy loose cloak, was coming towards them along one of the walks, reading his office. At the end of the walk he halted before turning and raised his eyes. The students saluted, Temple fumbling as before at the peak of his cap. They walked forward in silence. As they neared the alley Stephen could hear the thuds of the players’ hands and the wet smacks of the ball and Davin’s voice crying out excitedly at each stroke.
The three students halted round the box on which Davin sat to follow the game. Temple, after a few moments, sidled across to Stephen and said:
—Excuse me, I wanted to ask you, do you believe that Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a sincere man?
Stephen laughed outright. Cranly, picking up the broken stave of a cask from the grass at his feet, turned swiftly and said sternly:
—Temple, I declare to the living God if you say another word, do you know, to anybody on any subject, I’ll kill you SUPER SPOTTUM.
—He was like you, I fancy, said Stephen, an emotional man.
—Blast him, curse him! said Cranly broadly. Don’t talk to him at all. Sure, you might as well be talking, do you know, to a flaming chamber-pot as talking to Temple. Go home, Temple. For God’s sake, go home.
—I don’t care a damn about you, Cranly, answered Temple, moving out of reach of the uplifted stave and pointing at Stephen. He’s the only man I see in this institution that has an individual mind.
—Institution! Individual! cried Cranly. Go home, blast you, for you’re a hopeless bloody man.
—I’m an emotional man, said Temple. That’s quite rightly expressed. And I’m proud that I’m an emotionalist.