How came it that God had not struck him dead? The leprous company of his sins closed about him, breathing upon him, bending over him from all sides. Angry with himself he tried to hide his face from their eyes by gazing down sideways into the shallow swirling water under the bridge but he still saw a reflection therein of their top-heavy silk hats and humble tape-like collars and loosely-hanging clerical clothes. In a vague way he understood that his father was in trouble and that this was the reason why he himself had not been sent back to Clongowes. His voice was weary and old.