‘But it was my umbrella which at that moment began to take the stage. It receded from me with those two young attached to different points of its circumference. At the same time it gyrated painfully in that shadow there. I followed, stupefied, and demanded some explanation of the outrage. It replied in two voices of an equal regret that it was attached and could not free itself. I hastened to aid. They said afterwards they misconstrued my motives. All I know is that my umbrella, open always, but tortured by unequal compressions, descended indescribably those three steps here into the body of the church, where the congregation awaited my discourse. On one side of its large circle, which you see, was an acolyte, facing inwards, clawing at the laces on his bosom and his elbow. On another was his companion, inextricably caught high up under the armpit, which he could not reach with the other hand, because he was facing outwards, pinned there by his vestments. The central effect, Monsieur, was that of an undevout pagoda conducting a pas de trois in a sacred edifice, to the accompaniment of increasing whimpers. This was before they collapsed, those young. Whether by accident or design, the child facing inwards snatched at the back of the head of the other. We shave our boys' heads in France, fortunately; but he had nails, that one, and the other protested. . . .
This is from "The Miracle of Saint Jubanus" by Rudyard Kipling.
I can't understand the meaning of the sentence below.
but he had nails, that one, and the other protested. . . .
I am glad if somebody would kindly teach me.