—That phrase you said now, he said, is from the new testament about suffer the children to come to me.
—Go to sleep again, Temple, said O’Keeffe.
—Very well, then, Temple continued, still addressing Glynn, and if Jesus suffered the children to come why does the church send them all to hell if they die unbaptized? Why is that?
—Were you baptized yourself, Temple? the consumptive student asked.
—But why are they sent to hell if Jesus said they were all to come? Temple said, his eyes searching Glynn’s eyes.
Glynn coughed and said gently, holding back with difficulty the nervous titter in his voice and moving his umbrella at every word:
—And, as you remark, if it is thus, I ask emphatically whence comes this thusness.
—Because the church is cruel like all old sinners, Temple said.
—Are you quite orthodox on that point, Temple? Dixon said suavely.
—Saint Augustine says that about unbaptized children going to hell, Temple answered, because he was a cruel old sinner too.
—I bow to you, Dixon said, but I had the impression that limbo existed for such cases.
—Don’t argue with him, Dixon, Cranly said brutally. Don’t talk to him or look at him. Lead him home with a sugan the way you’d lead a bleating goat.
—Limbo! Temple cried. That’s a fine invention too. Like hell.
—But with the unpleasantness left out, Dixon said.
He turned smiling to the others and said:
—I think I am voicing the opinions of all present in saying so much.
—You are, Glynn said in a firm tone. On that point Ireland is united.
He struck the ferrule of his umbrella on the stone floor of the colonnade.
—Hell, Temple said. I can respect that invention of the grey spouse of Satan. Hell is Roman, like the walls of the Romans, strong and ugly. But what is limbo?
—Put him back into the perambulator, Cranly, O’Keeffe called out.
Cranly made a swift step towards Temple, halted, stamping his foot, crying as if to a fowl:
Temple moved away nimbly.
—Do you know what limbo is? he cried. Do you know what we call a notion like that in Roscommon?
—Hoosh! Blast you! Cranly cried, clapping his hands.
—Neither my arse nor my elbow! Temple cried out scornfully. And that’s what I call limbo.
—Give us that stick here, Cranly said.
He snatched the ashplant roughly from Stephen’s hand and sprang down the steps: but Temple, hearing him move in pursuit, fled through the dusk like a wild creature, nimble and fleet-footed. Cranly’s heavy boots were heard loudly charging across the quadrangle and then returning heavily, foiled and spurning the gravel at each step.
His step was angry and with an angry abrupt gesture he thrust the stick back into Stephen’s hand. Stephen felt that his anger had another cause but, feigning patience, touched his arm slightly and said quietly:
—Cranly, I told you I wanted to speak to you. Come away.
Cranly looked at him for a few moments and asked: