If he was dead, I thought, I would see the reflection of candles on the darkened blind for I knew that two candles must be set at the head of a corpse. He had often said to me: “I am not long for this world,” and I had thought his words idle. Now I knew they were true.
Old Cotter looked at me for a while. I felt that his little beady black eyes were examining me but I would not satisfy him by looking up from my plate. He returned to his pipe and finally spat rudely into the grate. “I wouldn’t like children of mine,” he said, “to have too much to say to a man like that.”
I found it strange that neither I nor the day seemed in a mourning mood and I felt even annoyed at discovering in myself a sensation of freedom as if I’d been free from something by his death. I wondered at this for, as my uncle had said the night before, he had taught me a great deal. He had studied in the Irish college at Rome and had taught me to pronounce Latin properly.
As I walked along in the sun I remembered old Cotter’s words and tried to remember what happened afterwards in the dream. I remembered that I had noticed long velvet curtains and a swinging lamp of antique fashion. I felt that I had been very far away, in some land where the customs were strange—in Persia, I thought…. But I could not remember the end of the dream.
“It was that chalice he broke…. That was the beginning of it. Of course, they say it was all right, that it contained nothing, I mean. But still…. They say it was the boy’s fault. But poor James was so nervous, God be merciful to him!... That affected his mind. After that he began to mope by himself, talking to no one and wandering about by himself.”