Title:A True Story
Author: Stephen Hudson (1868-1944) (pseudonym of Sydney Schiff)
[Corrected and adapted by me from the text published by Project Gutenberg]
This is the first part of Sydney Schiff's autobiographical series. It covers the years from the early 1870s to about 1880.
This is the first part of Sydney Schiff's autobiographical series. It covers the years from the early 1870s to about 1880.
|Published in 1847|
The material of this novel was contained in four volumes which have appeared separately under different titles and in effect constituted studies for the present complete work. The author has here reconstructed and reknit the salient elements in their final form.
PART ONE [PRINCE HEMPSEED]
WHAT I like best is when papa takes me to see Mr Max in a hansom not in the perambulator with Sissy walking I don't see why she should walk and hold papa's hand. I can walk as far as she can. Mr Max has got a big black moustache and a watch with music in it and there's another old gentleman sitting in a chair by the window and his legs are covered up and outside the window there's a little fountain with gold fish in it and afterwards we go down some steps and out of a gate and there's grass and I run and boys fly kites and I try to knock Sissy over and she's not allowed to knock me over and she tells papa I do. And Mr Max comes too and there's another littler man with a red cap on his head and he's black and his name is Mustapha and he takes me up like a feather and puts me on his shoulder and runs faster than I can see the trees and the birds. And afterwards there's a pond with boats and I put my toes in the water and papa doesn't see at first because he's lighting a cigarette and then he pulls me away and says I'm naughty but I like it. And there's another place where they all sit outside their doors and inside there's a fire like in the nursery and a smell comes out like before dinner and I pull papa's hand to look inside at the old lady with a cap on and the boy whistling but he can't whistle as well as papa does and he makes a face at me and so do I. And then we go on a long way and there are more steps and there's the hansom again and when papa sees it he holds up his stick and he jumps me up and he lets me pat its tail and he whistles Old Obadiah and when we get home Soror opens the door and there's mamma and then Nanny comes and ties the napkin round my neck and there's roast heef and Yorkshire pudding I don't like cut up into those little pieces. And once papa took me to the Zoo and after we got there I went on the elephant but I liked the bear best because he climbed up the pole and caught the buns but mamma doesn't like where the monkeys are so we only stayed a minute and I cried because I saw one that looked at me and he was just going to say something when papa took me away and the parrots squawk too loud. In the evening Mr Max comes again and Mr and Mrs Brandeis and I like Mr Brandeis best because he doesn't give me up when Nanny conies and goes on playing.
And there's that place called Norwood where mamma and papa go out riding and there's a high wall and a seat I stand on to see them go by and they wave to me and Sissy. Sissy only waves her hanky but I wave my hat and then I throw it on the ground and I can see it from the top of the wall and Nanny can't get it and says I'm naughty and so does Sissy and I'm very glad and we have to go all the way round to fetch it. And I like having milk and my Albert biscuit and going to sleep in the pram and it's all yellow inside when Nanny shuts it up and I can hear her talking to the other nanny and the trees make that funny noise and when I wake up Nanny lets me walk back.
Miss Carroll called all those things that get in the way tassels. There were tassels everywhere. I had to push a lot of them away from the window to look at the tumblers. Sissy sits on the big hassock pretending to read. She doesn't read really. Sissy never does do anything. She can't even play with Minnie though she doesn't mind her smell like I do. Miss Carroll was painting those texts with flowers all over them with a very thin yellow brush. I like Miss Carroll very much. Even Sissy likes her. But I don't like Sissy, I never shall like her, whatever Nanny says. She pinches me when Miss Carroll isn't looking and she tells stories and says I'm naughty when I've done nothing. I told Nanny I wished she'd die but Nanny said I was wicked so I wish she'd go away instead altogether, so that I could be with mamma and Miss Carroll without her. And she's worse since we've got on these black clothes after yesterday. We all went in the carriage to a place where I had never been before. There were trees in front and a path and when we got inside it was dark and there were nothing but tassels everywhere. And mamma and papa went away behind them and took Sissy and left me and I heard somebody grown up crying. I was frightened but Cousin Mary came and gave me a black-currant lozenge. Then mamma came in with papa and he said undo her stays and Cousin Mary gave her a bottle to smell with a silver top on it and a red thing Miss Carroll says is coral in the middle of it. I heard mamma say my poor mother, my poor mother and I wanted to get on mamma's knee and kiss her but papa wouldn't let me, so I got down and pulled Sissy's hair and she screamed loud on purpose. I didn't pull it much but papa was very angry. I like being in this little room downstairs because of the tumblers and the old man with a lot of hats on his head. I wish he'd come now the tumblers have finished, they've rolled up their carpet and their little boy is looking at me. I said Miss Carroll do give me some pennies for him, please let me. And on Sundays the muffin-man comes and rings his bell but I hate learning the collects. They're worse than the psalms because they're longer and I don't know what they mean. Not like "The Lord is my Shepherd, therefore will I fear nothing. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; Thy rod and Thy staff comfort me." I think that's right. And I remember the next one. "Blessed is the man who hath not sat in the seats of the ungodly nor stood in the way of sinners," but I can't remember anything after that.
I like walking in Kensington Gardens because of the leaves. They come half-way up my legs and I walk through them and push them about to make them rustle. And there's that funny round place where we sit, where the old man comes with the medals on and Miss Carroll talks to him about Sebastopol and the charge of the Light Brigade and that fat old woman who always gives me caraway comfits. I like caraway comfits but the seeds stick in my tooth and it hurts. And I like the smell of something burning and the smoke going through the trees and getting lost in the other sort of smoke all over the Round Pond, And coming home to tea in the nursery and when Nanny pulls the fender so that I can make toast and she puts the butter on quick and it melts. And the musical box Uncle Fred sent me, it plays six tunes but I like playing Fra Diavolo twice. Sissy doesn't know which is which but papa says I've got a very good ear. I wonder when I shall see Uncle Fred. I can't see what he's like properly in that picture in papa's room and papa had my photograph taken in my sailor suit on purpose to send him but he said Mr Ossani's going to do a proper picture some day, a big one, like the one of Uncle Leopold in the drawing-room.
Most of all I like Nanny to sing about Lord Lovel and how the roses grew and grew. I know nearly all of it and the tune as well.
Lord Lovel he stood at his castle gate
A-stroking his milk-white steed,
When up comes Lady Nancy Bell
A-wishing her lover godspeed, speed, speed,
A-wishing her lover godspeed.
Then it goes on a lot until poor Lord Lovel got dead and Lady Nancy died of a broken heart and
Out of her grave there grew a red rose
And out of his grave a briar
And twined themselves into a true lover's knot
For all true loveyers to admire—mire—mire
For all true loveyers to admire.
And I've got a book called Reinecke Fuchs with lovely pictures–papa reads me that sometimes but I don't understand much because it's in German only parts like about Grimbard the Brock. Uncle Leopold sent it to me and I like it better than the other book of The House that Jack Built. Sissy likes that best. Sissy can't say any German and she can't sing Lord Lovel either. She can't do anything though she's much older than I am.
But the best book of all is Prince Hempseed because he's just like I'm going to be. I don't want to be any of the others but I do want to be Prince Hempseed even if they drive me away into the woods but Sissy isn't like his sister. I hope I shall have another sister by then. Miss Carroll says I very likely shall. On Sunday morning mamma goes in a bath-chair and papa and Nanny and me. Sissy goes to church with Miss Carroll but I'm too little. And Mr Brandeis comes too sometimes and they take off their hats to a lot of ladies and gentlemen and they ask me what my name is. All my best toys are in the ottoman. Nanny gets them out on Sunday afternoons and I play with them while she reads The Quiver. The one I like best is Blondin riding a velocipede on the tight-rope. But I love the bricks, the plain kind. I can make a house to live in when I'm Prince Hempseed with a high wall round so that Sissy can't come inside.
Uncle Leopold must be very, very old because he's papa's uncle as well as mine. He had his breakfast when we'd finished ours and after papa drove off to the station. He had the spare room on the ground-floor looking on to where the high trees were with the rooks in them and the round seat underneath. When I came in he always held his arms out wide and I ran in between them. Then he put his arms round me and made me stand between his legs and answer his questions. I didn't mind because I loved Uncle Leopold but I couldn't understand very much. He wore a round black cap and he had little bags under his eyes. His face all screwed up when he laughed and you couldn't see his eyes at all. His face was a funny yellow and covered all over with wrinkles. When I kissed him, I felt the short bristles with my lips; his skin was so nice and cool and so were his hands. He wasn't at all big and he was all bent up but you couldn't tell, when he was sitting at the table. He always had a glass of water and two lumps of sugar in a saucer and Johann, his servant, stood behind his chair. He said "Da" and pointed at the glass and I dropped the two lumps of sugar into the water. Then he stirred it and drank a little with the spoon in the glass and put his two fingers on his waistcoat just below where the buttons were undone at the top and said "Ah!" right down in his chest. Then I said "Gut?" and he nodded his head up and down and said "Gut."
After Johann gave him his coffee, he rolled up a cigarette and let me strike a match but he made me hold it to a thick round yellow string in the box and blow, and he lit his cigarette from it. We did that every morning.
There was a black leather pocket-book with an elastic band round it on the table and every morning he put his glasses on his nose and took off the band and took out a sheet of paper with a lot of names on it. While he smoked, he put his middle finger, the one that was so brown, on the paper and followed the names down with it till about half-way and his white cuff with a large round gold stud in it came down over his knuckles. Once I asked him what the paper was about and he said "Geburtstage. Heute muss ich deine Tante Julia schreiben." When he said "Aufwiedersehen Richard," I knew it was time to go and at the door I waved my hand to him because I knew he was watching me through the little bags where his eyes were. When I turned round I could see his white socks and slippers under the table but he wore high boots under his trousers when he went out, nearly up to his knees.
Johann had been a cavalry soldier and he gave me my first riding lessons. He walked beside my pony, pressing my knee to the saddle and my toes inward. We went down the gravel path to the Observatory and round it, then back the other way to the seat under the high trees where Uncle Leopold sat with mamma and she held her sunshade over him.
Afterwards Johann took the pony to the stable and mamma went in. Uncle Leopold held my hand and we walked very slowly to the summer-house where the Memorial was. Out of doors, he wore a straw hat with a wide brim and a very narrow black ribbon and he took it off when we got to the summer-house. I knew the Memorial was to grandpapa but I couldn't read the inscription because it was in German. Uncle Leopold read it out loud and made me repeat some of the words. He went to the Memorial every day and sometimes Johann pushed him in his wheel-chair.
Every evening when I and Sissy came down after tea, Uncle Leopold danced me on his foot but papa used to stop him doing it and danced me himself because he said it tired Uncle Leopold. But I didn't like the way papa did it so much. Uncle Fred danced me best of all. They all sang the same words and I know them by heart and the tune too.
Ueb immer treu und Redlichkeit
Bis an dein kühles Grab
Und weiche keinen Finger breit
Von Gottes Wegen ab
Tralalala lalala lalala lalala
Lalala lalala la.
Sissy never liked being danced and she never learnt the words but perhaps when baby gets older she will, like me. It was her first birthday the other day and while I was standing by mamma's bed saying good-morning, papa brought in a little box with cotton-wool in it and a pearl in the middle because baby had got two teeth and he said some day when they come out he's going to have them made into a pin to wear in his tie.
Mr Milosovitch nearly always came down to Craythorne on Sundays. He arrived in the morning before luncheon and stayed to dinner. The T-cart and "Bobby" always met the eleven-thirty train from Paddington that the Sunday guests came by. Sometimes papa used to drive in to Cray station and sometimes Mussell. When not more than two were expected, I was allowed to go, if we got back from church in time. That depended upon old Mr Hicks who changed the morning service from ten to eleven as he felt inclined. Nanny said he did it to suit Lord Adleham whose family pew was opposite ours but had a door in it and was shut up so you couldn't see inside. He had two daughters. One of them looked like the Sleeping Beauty in my story book, and I often talked about her to Nanny after she had finished her sherry and almonds and raisins on Sundays. When we got back from church early, the first thing I did was to ask Mussell if papa was going to the station, hoping he wasn't. Mussell let me drive but papa didn't. I thought it was because he liked flicking "Bobby" with the whip just behind the collar and making him jump out of his trot. I wanted to do that myself and I sat there watching him flick and pull at the old grey's mouth knowing I could do it just as well as he could. When we got to the station even papa allowed me to hold the reins while he went to meet the train. I liked sitting by myself as if the T-cart and "Bobby" belonged to me and having his nice hot smell mixed up with the smell of the leather, all to myself. Generally Mr Benda and Uncle Fred came out first. I loved Mr Benda. He had shiny boots and a thick way of talking and he was always in a good temper. Papa came after them with Mr Milosovitch who always wore a grey topper and frock-coat and sat on the front seat. When Uncle Fred came down by the same train, he and Mr Benda followed in the fly. Mamma waited for us on the rose-path, leading to the drive and Mr Milosovitch took off his hat and his oily black hair shone in the sun. He got down very carefully and kissed her hand, then he held both her hands out in front of her. He wore yellow gloves with black stripes on the backs. Afterwards he pulled his pocket-handkerchief out of the back pocket of his frock-coat; even in the open air I could smell the sickly scent on it. He dusted his boots and trousers with it and offered mamma his arm and they walked on together talking, every now and then stopping to smell the roses.
It was a long time before I got Mr Milosovitch's name exactly right, but his face always stuck in my head. Papa was fearfully exact about it. I dreaded his "Richard, say how d'you do. What's the gentleman's name?" There were people whose faces I simply couldn't remember but I remembered Mr Milosovitch's because of his beaky nose, his black whiskers and hair curling round his ears and his black-rimmed eyeglass at the end of a black ribbon. He always sat next to mamma at meals, I was on the other side of her. He had small fat white hands and wore a lot of rings, one on his left little finger had a blue stone in it. I once asked Uncle Fred what it was called and he said "Pish! God knows!" Mr Milosovitch talked in some language I couldn't understand, French probably. Now and then he leant forward and asked me something in English. I never knew what he meant, so he turned back to mamma and said something I knew was about me by the way he looked at me while he stroked his whiskers. When the sweet came, I kept my eye on his plate because he took such large helpings and he always liked the kind I liked.
Uncle Fred made faces at me whenever Mr Milosovitch said anything and when we were safe in a corner of the billiard-room after lunch, which was my dinner, he used to poke me in the side and say "Well Dickerl, how's your friend Milosovitch?"
Little by little I found out that when Uncle Fred came down he pretended not to see Mr Milosovitch at Paddington and got into another carriage. When the coffee came in, all the gentlemen except Mr Milosovitch pulled out silver boxes in which were tobacco and papers and rolled cigarettes but Mr Milosovitch didn't. He had a big leather case with a crown on it and when he opened it, there was nothing inside so papa gave him one of his own cigars. He always did this on Sundays, so I got into the way of watching for it. Uncle Fred got to know I watched and winked at me and made me laugh. I had to hide my face so that mamma wouldn't notice.
Really I didn't bother much about Mr Milosovitch one way or the other and perhaps I should have forgotten him if it hadn't been for a certain thing happening.
As a rule on Sunday afternoons I had to go for a walk with Fräulein Schwind. How I hated those walks and how I loathed Fräulein Schwind. There the old beast was outside the long window in the billiard-room walking up and down waiting for me and I had to leave the billiard-room full of lovely blue smoke and Uncle Fred and his jokes, put down the long cue-rest I held in case anyone wanted it and go off and be jawed at in German.
One Sunday I don't know what happened, perhaps Fräulein Schwind was ill. Anyhow I didn't go for a walk and I wasn't wanted in the billiard-room. Papa had a lot of friends that day and they were playing a game with ninepins in the middle and they kept on putting money on the edge of the table. Papa told me to go and find mamma. Uncle Fred saw that I wasn't pleased and took hold of my hand and walked me across the courtyard, telling me that he would make up for it by reading the Rindelgrover story out loud before I went to bed. Rindelgrover was a dwarf with a short trusty sword and rode on a pig.
The drawing-room was on the other side of the house and one could get into it out of the garden by the side door. As we went into the room, mamma was sitting on a chair with her back towards the door but Mr Milosovitch was kneeling down in front of her. When we got inside, Uncle Fred suddenly stood still but I went on to mamma though I was looking at Mr Milosovitch. What was he doing? Then he jumped up stiff and buttoned his coat up tight across his stomach. He stood up very straight and held out his hands to me; I could see the blue stone on his little fat finger. But I kept away from him close to mamma and she held me to her. No one said anything and presently Uncle Fred went away.
When I went upstairs to tea, I couldn't help wondering what Mr. Milosovitch was doing but I didn't say anything to Nanny.
Uncle Fred didn't read me the Rindelgrover story after all so I made up my mind to ask him about Mr Milosovitch who, for a wonder, wasn't in the room. I was sitting on the arm of his chair in the corner and I whispered "I say, Uncle Fred, do tell me what Mr Milosovitch was kneeling for?" Uncle Fred looked at papa and mamma who were talking to Mr Benda and two of the other gentlemen. He put his hand on the other side of my head and seemed to spit into my ear. "Sh! Sh! you're to say nothing. He was taken very ill and had to go away."
Some time after that papa told me that I should never see poor Mr Milosovitch again; he had suddenly died. Uncle Fred was there and considering he winked at me I thought I might just ask him one question. "Was it anything to do with his kneeling down?"
Uncle Fred looked at papa but he didn't say anything and just then mamma came into the room with a beautiful yellow dress on.
On my seventh birthday Uncle Fred came down to Craythorne on purpose. I can't remember exactly but I think he always had been there on my birthdays. Papa said though it was on Thursday this time and account-day, Uncle Fred was coming all the same but they would probably be late. I had been waiting for him ever since six but it was past seven when they got home. Mamma had arranged all my presents on the whatnot table in the little room half-way up the stairs where the floor always creaked on the landing. We called it the greenroom. The curtains and sofas and chairs were green but it was all shiny black wood inside and smelt of Minnie because her basket was there. I didn't much like her really but I pretended to because of mamma, and Alexander said I must be kind to her, she was so faithful. I think partly Alexander liked her because her eyes were red round the edges like his as though they had both been crying. I'd hardly touched the presents because I wanted Uncle Fred to show them to me properly. Papa showed me the top you put different pieces of wire into so that when it spun round it made figures doing all sorts of antics. But he was in such a hurry to go to the city he could only show me three out of the whole box. I knew Uncle Fred would like spinning it so that it would go off with a noise like the wind makes. I waited in the hall for the sound of the wheels but I didn't hear them because it was snowing and it was only when Alexander ran through to open the door that I knew they'd come. Uncle Fred shook a lot of snow off his coat on the mat and lifted me on to his shoulder and said "Glücklicher Geburtstag, Spitzbub!" I asked him to come and look at the presents but he said he was tired and sat down in the big leather chair in the library and pulled me on to his knee. I twisted the curly hair behind his ears but I couldn't keep him awake. Minnie came in and I got down and pinched her tail and she snapped at me. That woke him up and he said "Dick, get a paper parcel out of my coat pocket." When he'd undone it, there was a silver money-box shaped like a beehive. He put his finger-nail under one of the bees, the top opened and out fell a lot of coins. He shut the hive up and made me drop the coins through the slit at the top and count them, there were ten altogether. "Ten thaler from grandpapa in that silver beehive all the way from Austria for Dick. The bees work hard all day getting honey, Dick must be industrious like a bee." Then he put his fingers in the top pocket of his waistcoat and took out a gold piece. "Drop that in too" he said "and now let's go and look at the presents." He spun the top a lot of times and put nearly all the wires in but I wanted him to come on and read one of the new books called The North Pole before papa and mamma came down. It was all about Captain Hatteras and Cyrus Field and Gideon Spillett and about their ship which stuck in the ice, a brig with a very strong, square-built hull.
On my birthday I was allowed to sit up at the table and have some dessert. There was champagne with little bits of ice floating about chinking against the side and papa held up his glass and said "Hoch, hoch, die Eltern" and mamma and Uncle Fred touched his glass with theirs. Then Uncle Fred winked at me and said "Prosit Spitzbub" and papa told Alexander to put a little in my glass so that I could drink some too.
Nanny put the silver beehive on the mantelpiece opposite my bed. The fire-light made it look like a red ball and I fell asleep and dreamed of being roasted like Cyrus Field, the engineer, talked about in the book.
The next morning while Alexander was doing the silver I told him about the brig and he said he would make me one. He had been a sailor and he told me about his ships and voyages. It took a long time but at last she was finished. She had three masts and two jibs and spars and square-sails and a mainsail and a helm. She was painted brown and was sticky and smelt of tar and turpentine. I thought her perfect but Alexander said she wasn't and he would make a much better one. We took her down to the pond which was very long but not so very broad and had willows all round. There was a spring in the middle and it was awfully deep, ever so far over papa's head and there was thick mud at the bottom so if you sank, you got stuck and you never came up again. It was dreadfully dangerous. At the ends the banks were very steep and there were a lot of rushes and frogs and when you got down by the water, no one could see you. That's how I dodged Fräulein Schwind. But the worst of it was that the brig wouldn't stay straight. Alexander said she needed a keel and he would see what he could do. Fräulein Schwind always tried to prevent my being with Alexander but we got away behind the round-house where the engines were and she never found out we were at the pond. But the brig never would stand up and Alexander said we wanted a good piece of lead only that would cost some money and he wouldn't have any before February. I stayed awake that night thinking about the brig because the end of the pond was all frozen exactly like the North Pole and if only we could get the brig stuck fast in the ice properly, we could build the hut and make a fire and explore.
As soon as everything was quiet, I got out of bed. I put a chair in front of the fender and stepped on it with one foot. I could just reach the money-box. I tried and tried but it wouldn't come undone till I banged it against the leg of the bed and it flew open. All the money rolled about on the floor and made such a noise I thought it would wake Nanny up. So I got into bed and pretended to be asleep but nobody came and I got out again and put all the money back except the gold piece Uncle Fred had put inside and the hive shut up almost like before except for being a little on one side. At breakfast papa said Minnie had woke him up by growling in the middle of the night.
I didn't see Alexander all the morning because Fräulein Schwind never let me out of her sight but just after dinner I saw him come out of mamma's boudoir. When mamma took me into the green-room and asked me if I had heard anything in the night, I said I hadn't but I was very frightened and she said nothing else.
I didn't see Alexander all day though I looked everywhere for him. I wanted to give him the gold piece and I was so afraid that beast Fräulein Schwind would notice my keeping my hand on it in the pocket of my knickers.
When papa came home, he always went to see mamma first. Afterwards he asked Fräulein Schwind whether I'd been good or not. This time, though she said "Ziemlich artig" he didn't look pleased but took me into the library and stood me up opposite him in the big leather arm-chair. "Richard, did you do anything to that money-box grandpapa sent you?" I said I hadn't and when he asked me the same question over again, I went on saying I hadn't.
Then he sent for Nanny to take me to bed and I went to that place and dropped the gold coin into it.
I never saw Alexander again but I saw Johnny Everest, the head gardener's little boy on the bank of the pond pulling something along by a string. When he saw me, he ran away and I believe it was the brig.
My first term at St. Vincent's was the summer one. It was simply awful being driven over by Mussell in the T-cart. Old Bobby jog-trotted, plop, plop, down the curly drive between nasty thick laurels and an iron railing. On the other side there was a field where a lot of boys were playing cricket but I didn't know it was cricket till Mussell told me. Lucas took my box and told me to go into the little room with a lot of photographs of boys on the wall while he went on talking to Mussell and patting Bobby. I didn't even see them drive away because while I was standing at the window, Mr Beasley came in. He was so enormous I could hardly see his face and he had a long red beard ending in a point in the middle of his chest and he put the tips of it into his mouth while he asked me questions I couldn't answer. His trousers were short and he wore low shoes that were nearly as long as his beard and had very thick soles. He pulled the bell and told Lucas to take me into the playing field.
A boy was standing close by and I went up to him and asked him what his name was. He said "What's yours?" Afterwards he told me his name was Ramsey and I asked him to be my friend. He laughed and stood still for a while looking at the boys playing. Then he walked across to another place and I walked with him and tried to take hold of his hand hut he pulled it away. I didn't know then we were part of the game and were fielding and he called me a little fool. I told him I thought he was going to be my best friend but now I knew he was my bitterest enemy.
After the beginning of the term they put hurdles across part of the field where it went into a square between high hedges and one Saturday afternoon the boys helped to make hay. It was very hot and Lucas unlocked the cupboard where he kept the boys' hampers and we all bought bottles of lemonade. Paddy Houston and I made a regular little hut, like Livingstone, out of the haycocks and after we had drunk our bottles of lemonade we lay down in the lovely smelling hay and I told him about when papa and mamma and I and Soror went to Bonn, only I said pater because the first day Lopez kicked me for saying papa. Paddy didn't believe about Soror being black, he said nobody ever saw a black footman and he didn't believe about the storks in the marshes at Bonn nor about the soldiers marching back from France with green wreaths on the tops of their rifles. And when Paddy told Lopez afterwards, he didn't believe me either and twisted my wrist. I was lying on my back and I could just see the sky through a little hole at the top of the hut. Every now and then a big bird flew across and then a little white cloud. I was half in a dream but Paddy began talking to a man outside who had very thick reddish curly hair and a brown belt with a brass buckle that shone like anything. The sweat was pouring down his face and he was rubbing it with a huge red pocket-handkerchief. Then he spat on his hands and rubbed them on the handle of his rake and went away. I asked Paddy why he spat and he told me all labourers did that and that they had bugs in their hair. He said if I watched this man I should see him scratch his head. So I got up and watched him and in a little while he stopped raking and scratched his head. When he did that, I went up to him and asked him if it was true he had bugs in his hair because I wanted to know what they were like. But he got very angry and was going to hit me with the rake so I ran away as fast as I could. When I told Paddy about it, he roared with laughter and said I was the biggest idiot he had ever seen.
We had tea at long tables, the smallest boys sat at the end near the masters. I was next to Mr Atwood. He was very strong and had beautiful blue eyes and I liked him very much. I was just going to ask him what bugs were when Mr Beasley came behind my chair so that his beard touched my face and whispered in my ear I was to come to his study the next morning after breakfast. Mr Atwood looked at me in a funny way but he didn't say anything nor did Baby Marr who sat next to me and must have heard. But all of a sudden I remembered that Paddy had told me Mr Beasley always said that to a boy when he was going to give him a swishing. I was just drinking some tea and I nearly choked. Mr Atwood looked at me so I pretended to eat but I felt sick and he patted me on the shoulder.
I didn't say anything to Paddy but when we went to bed I tried to remember what I ought not to have done and I kept on waking and pulling the sheet up because I was shivering.
I don't know how I got dressed and I wanted prayers to last for ever and breakfast too, but they were over quicker than usual and I went and knocked on the door of the study. It was brown inside and there was an awful stuffy smell. Mr Beasley went to the corner of the room and took something in his hand. I was too frightened to see what it was. Mr Beasley said I ought to be ashamed to insult a poor labouring man and he told me to take down my knickers and pointed to a chair and said I was to kneel down at it. He gave me four swishes. It made an awful noise in the air and when it hit but it didn't hurt very much and I didn't cry. I said I was very sorry but, really, I was awfully glad because it was all over.
I found Paddy in the playground and told him all about it and as he wanted to see, I took him into the lavatory and showed him my stripes. But I made him promise to tell me what bugs were.
At first I hardly knew anything about the boys but I got to know their names at call-over. One day when Bruce kicked Baby Marr and told him he was a nice kind of an earl I asked him what Bruce meant and he said one couldn't help being an earl any more than Bruce could being an honourable. He said other boys in the school were lords besides him and Wentworth was going to be a duke but they never kicked him because he was strong. I asked him why Lopez said I was the son of a low-born blackguard but he didn't know any more than I did.
I didn't mind being at St. Vincent's except when Mackenzie twisted my arm in the lavatory and Cramp hacked me behind just as I was going into class so that it hurt all the morning. I wasn't very frightened of Mr Beasley, less than I was of papa and I liked the cricket matches, especially the masters' ones and Sunday evenings when Mr Beasley read Ungava aloud and we lay about on the floor and ate toffee.
The night before I got my first swishing about the bugs I thought a great deal about God before I got to sleep. I often do when I go to bed but especially when I'm miserable. Miss Carroll told me about Him and about His awful majesty and how the earth trembles at His frown, but Nanny always talked more about Jesus. She made me kneel down and say
Gentle Jesus meek and mild
Listen to a little child
every night and sometimes it was awfully cold. I think that was one reason I began thinking of God when I went to bed and got warm. What I thought about God was always that I had done something wrong and that He was punishing me but I didn't mind it; it was like pretending to be frightened. Then I got into a sort of dream about God and Mr Beasley and papa and Fräulein Schwind all mixed up and they all punished me but the only one I didn't mind being punished by was God. In the dream God looks something like papa but more like Mr Beasley, only much bigger and stronger. He's got a beard too and he sits on high so that I don't hardly reach up to his knees when he makes me kneel on the footstool.
I got rather good at squash that first term. There was a boy called Sully who was best and he began showing me. He had large glassy eyes that stuck out. One of the masters called Mr Huliet liked him very much and was always teasing and tickling him. Sully was awfully ticklish and used to lie on the ground and scream with laughter till the tears ran down. Once he tried to tickle me like Mr Huliet did him but Mr Atwood saw him and stopped him and told him he wasn't to do it again. I wonder what Mr Atwood would have said to Mr Huliet.
Some of the boys like Ellerby and Hames talked a lot about hunting and shooting. I didn't know what hunting was or what they shot and they said I was a beastly little fool when I asked them questions. Ellerby said he'd like to be a huntsman and that all the country about St. Vincent's was rotten and when I said it was awfully nice at Craythorne, he said it was worse because it was nearer London and nothing but dirty brickfields and market gardens. He asked me if we'd got any horses and I told him about the pair and Bobby and mamma's mare Janet and my pony Tommy. But he said he didn't count them, they weren't hunters. Then he asked me about my pater and when I told him he went to the city every day, he said of course he didn't hunt, he was a cad, only cads had offices. As he said all that in front of Marr and Paddy and Mus I was ashamed and went away. So when I got to bed that evening, I began thinking about what I could tell them that would make them think papa wasn't a cad but a very wonderful man. I thought and thought. The next day I told them a long story, all about a ship papa had got that could go under the sea like the Nautilus in Jules Verne, and brought back pearls and diamonds and rubies and sapphires and how he had so many you couldn't count them, millions and millions. And how he'd got an island in the Pacific Ocean where there was coral and pine-apples and savages and an enormous lake with canoes on it and jungles and tigers and elephants and birds of Paradise and how all the princes on the other islands came to see him and brought him spices and all sorts of presents. But they mustn't say anything about it because it was a secret. Afterwards I saw them all talking together and then I saw Mus go and speak to Ramsey major in a corner of the playground and they both stared at me.
After supper Ramsey major came up to me and told me I was a beastly little liar and that he'd a great mind to give me a good thrashing. I said I wasn't a liar and if he thrashed me, I should make such a row that Mr Beasley or Mr Atwood would hear and he'd get a swishing himself. All he said was "You wait" but he never did anything and a day or two afterwards Paddy asked me to tell him and Baby Marr more stories about the island when Mus wasn't there.
I'm not sure when it was I first began thinking so much about Garnett but it wasn't until he was moved out of Upper Second that I knew no one mattered except him.
Hargreaves and I had been pretty chummy for two terms until our row; but I wasn't going to stand his rot about my being a swat, just because I got into Upper Second before he did. The only thing he knows is Tolle me mu mi mis si declinare domumvis and he keeps repeating it in a sing-song all day long. I could have been top of Lower Second any time without swatting but I only tried when I wanted to get nearer to Garnett. But no sooner had I got into Upper Second than they moved him into First. After that, I must say I did swat. I couldn't see into the First class-room from my desk but after I was third from top, I could look through the round windows in the doors and sometimes I could see Garnett. Once he was quite close, standing in front of J. B. and I knew by the book he was doing a viva voce construe of Ovid. I translated my Caesar wrong on purpose not to go up over that fool Chase and leave him where he could see Garnett and I couldn't. Of course he wouldn't understand about Garnett. Only I know, and Mr Atwood. Now I think about it, he always lets Garnett hang about with him. I'm jolly glad Mr Atwood knows and not Chator. I've seen Chator looking at him–often–and go up to him, but I don't think he knows, really, because they don't stay together. And, of course, Chator is captain of the Eleven and Garnett must let him be with him sometimes.
Besides, I could easily get into First next term but it's an awful time to wait. Only if I did once get into it, he'd have to talk to me regularly although I'm only eleven and a quarter. But Chase says I'm a fool to swat for that because they'll never put you into First before you're twelve. They'd rather start Second on Xenophon. Even now Garnett talks to me sometimes, a little bit, especially since I got into Upper Second. Yesterday when Mr Crane put me on at "erat enim modestus, prudens, gravis temporibus sapienter utens, paritus belli, fortis manu". I thought that was just like Garnett but of course he isn't clever and I suppose he can't make out how I've caught him up, considering he's thirteen. Miss Norman told me he was the oldest but two in the school. But he doesn't look like it. He doesn't look nearly as old as Bathurst or Foljambe in my class. I'm glad he doesn't. I like him just as he is. I wonder what he is doing now. He's not very good at football, I don't believe he likes it any better than I do. I'm always afraid he'll get his shins hacked by that beast Poole, who's only got his colours because he's a heavy lout. I hate Poole.
It was when Garnett ran second in the hurdle race that I got that feeling. I shall never get over it now. I'd do anything for him–anything. He jumped so beautifully, trailing his leg, quite different to Podge. I must say Podge won the race easy. But Garnett didn't mind, he never minds anything, especially Podge. And Podge is really a brick. I love that greeny suit of Garnett's and the way he walks and ties his tie. I'm always trying to tie my tie like that. And his hair always looks tidy without his doing anything to it and it meets together in a little V at the top of his neck. And it isn't that light kind like Paddy's, it's more like the cocoon Mortimer's silkworms make. When his shoe-lace came undone yesterday, I'd have given anything to do it up for him.
I wonder if there isn't something I could do for him. I must think about it to-night. That's the best time. If only those asses in my room wouldn't talk. They'll have old J. B. after them one of these nights and a jolly good thing too. They stop me thinking about Garnett and first thing I know I'm asleep and all the time is wasted.
If only I could once get a game of squash with him. I'm pretty good at squash; better than he thinks. If he knew how good I am, he'd want to play with me. And once that began–anything might happen. I wish Mr Atwood could have seen me play squash yesterday. I beat Sully minor easily and he's nearly as good as Sully major and he's the best in the school. If Mr Atwood had seen me play, I believe he'd have told Garnett. Mr Atwood's awfully nice like that.
I wish I knew what Garnett liked. I don't think he cares much about games; he never seems to try. He goes so slowly at football I simply love watching him and when he gets the ball, he dribbles so awfully neatly; only as soon as Poole or Nugent or someone charges him, he lets them take it. That's just what I like about him. It's the same with everything he does. He's never in a hurry and he doesn't have rows with anyone. If only I could find one of his books lying about and give it to him or even his cap or something. But he never leaves his things lying about. I've often wanted to look in his desk and I have even thought of taking one of his books out and hiding it so that I could find it for him. But I can't–I couldn't. What would he say if he found it out? And perhaps I should have to tell him and then it would be all over.
Here comes that stupid ass Frisby with his beastly truss sticking out. I suppose he's going to show me his money again–as usual.
I must think it all over again to-night. If only that cad Neale doesn't start them all jawing so that I can't think about Garnett.
That Easter holidays I got chicken-pox and they sent me down to Ramsgate with Nanny. Thank goodness it was Nanny as I'm certain Mrs Clavis would never have stood Fräulein Schwind. She would have been frightened of her being so ugly and having such a croak in her voice. Mrs Clavis had such a soft voice and she was always smiling instead of frowning like Fräulein Schwind.
The first morning I woke up very early but though I was excited about coming and of course I wanted to get down on the sands, the sea looked so lovely that I didn't mind a bit stopping in bed till Nanny came, just looking at it. It was covered with a lot of teeny tiny dimples like cups with twinkling stars in, them; not all the same though. Those on one side got larger and deeper and more fiery and those on the other side got a darker colour, violet I should think. But it looked like a road you could walk on through the sea and as I watched three little boats with sails up all exactly alike go sailing right across it, I wondered how they could bear to leave that twinkling part and go where it was plain and dark.
Mrs Clavis sat on the sand close to where Nanny sat. She was all in black with a veil flowing over her shoulders on each side and something white across her forehead under the top part of her bonnet. She'd got two children, a boy and a girl, but they were so little they couldn't dig properly so I showed them. But even then they couldn't, so I dug the whole time and sent them for the water. At the beginning I didn't look at Mrs Clavis much and I don't know when it began, but all of a sudden I wanted to look at her and when we came out after dinner I asked Nanny to go to the same place, so that we could see her again. I didn't say that was why I wanted to go there and I knew Nanny thought it was funny after she had told me about paddling on the rocks. But Mrs Clavis wasn't there so we went to the rocks after all but I didn't enjoy it so much as I expected because all the time I was thinking about Mrs Clavis and wanting to see her.
It wasn't till after tea I knew that Mrs Clavis lived upstairs above us. We were pretty high up but she was higher. There was a wooden staircase with oilcloth down it just outside the room where we had tea and I heard a noise of crying and there was the little boy at the bottom and Mrs Clavis running down to him. Then he had to be put to bed because he'd sprained his ankle and the doctor came.
So part of the time Nanny stayed with him and Mrs Clavia took me and the little girl down to the sea, or if it wasn't fine, to the pier to hear the band.
And I got fonder and fonder of Mrs Clavis.
But I didn't say anything to anyone and I'm not going to. I've got fonder of her than Garnett. I had to be with her because Nanny was with Dan and there was no one else to go out with. And it made all the difference going out with her. Generally I hate walks but I loved walking with her and holding her hand and then Rose got tired and when she told me to go on the other side and hold her hand because I was so big and strong, though I was pleased in one way, I wasn't really. She always made me go on the other side when we held hands and skipped. It was quite early in the morning and we had the parade to ourselves and she skipped so fast I could hardly keep up and Rose's feet were off the ground most of the time. She used to stop suddenly and laugh in such a jolly way. I never heard anyone laugh like that, one time after another. It made me laugh too and Rose. We all stood there laughing and a butcher boy with a basket began laughing as well. Her cheeks were red with skipping and she was out of breath and she stooped down and kissed Rose and then me. I didn't dare kiss her as I wanted to. I wanted to put my arm round her neck and kiss her six or ten times. I pretended even that I didn't want to be kissed at all but I think she knew I did because she looked at me and then kissed me again. Some of her hair had fallen down by the side of her ear. It was light, something like mine but much prettier and curly, not straight like mine.
When we got back, she told Nanny I was the best boy she had ever seen, she had a good mind to keep me altogether to give an example to Dan because she didn't think Dan would ever be so good as I was. I think Nanny was very surprised so would Mrs Clavis have been if she knew what Fräulein Schwind and papa think about me and what I know myself. But how I wish she could keep me. Of course I was good with her. I wouldn't have minded what she wanted me to do. I'm awfully fond of Nanny too but it's quite different. I don't want to do what she tells me, and I don't care much if she isn't pleased or whether I see her or not. I'm only sorry when I say good-bye to her when I go back to school. It's more like mamma but I'm so little with her and then it's not quite the same. When I go into the room where Mrs Clavis's bed is with Dan's crib on one side and Rose's on the other, I'd give anything to be Dan so that I could be there all the time even when she undresses and goes to bed and gets up. Once I pretended to be looking for her glove under the bed so that I could put my face on the sheet. And when we say good-night I only want to go to bed so that I can think of her like I used to once about Garnett. But Garnett was different altogether though I'm fond of him still. Mrs Clavis is much more like a fairy than any of the fairies in the books and yet I don't want her to be one. I want to touch her and kiss her and know she won't escape. If only I could stay for ever with Mrs Clavis. What shall I do the day after to-morrow when we go away?
When you went into the billiard-room at Craythorne you had to go through a little hall with a fireplace in it. There was another door besides into the lavatory where I often used to hide from Fräulein Schwind. She never dared go into it because papa always went there. So did the other gentlemen. But though they only came on Saturdays and Sundays, Fräulein Schwind was frightened of that place because she knew men had been in there and used the things. Over the mantelpiece in that little hall, there was a picture I liked looking at. It was two students with leather jackets on and their necks muffled up fighting a duel with swords. Each fighter had another student behind backing him up. All round the room there were other students with different-coloured caps on sitting round and drinking beer and all their names were written underneath and some bars of music with Latin words that I can't quite remember though I know exactly what they mean
Gaudeamus igitur, juvenes dum sumus
Post jucundum juventutis, post something senectutis
Nos habebit humus.
Papa told me all these students were at Heidelberg when he was there and Uncle Fred had a duel with one of them. I asked him to tell me more but he wouldn't and Uncle Fred wouldn't either for a long time. Then at last one day he said that those in the picture were corps students and so proud they wouldn't fight with anyone not in a corps. One of them insulted him and refused to fight until he smacked his face in front of all his friends in the Schloss-Garten. Uncle Fred said he nearly cut the other chap's nose off. So of course I was glad when we all went to Heidelberg the summer holidays after my last term at St. Vincent's. But I didn't like it because first of all papa got a German tutor called Kölle who couldn't talk a word of English. We stopped at the Schloss hotel, right up above the Castle and you could see the Neckar and the rafts floating down ever so far below. But the current was too swift to row properly and except for the swimming bath which wasn't bad we did nothing but walk and I hated that. Then the Aunts came. I liked them and they were awfully nice but they wanted to pet me and treat me like a baby and they did nothing but talk German from morning till night. I know mamma didn't like it either. Old Kölle was frightened to death of mamma. He nearly bowed down to the ground whenever he saw her.
It was Heidelberg more than anything that put me against German. I had to learn a beastly poem called Der Taucher about "bis zum Himmel spritzelt das dampfende Gicht" to say by heart and that made me hate German more than ever.
I was always frightened of papa but while I was at Heidelberg I began hating him. He was always in a rage about something or other and he kept on making me do things I didn't want to do and the more I hated papa the more I loved mamma. She was quite different but I hardly saw her or the little ones either. They were with old Nanny. One good thing, Sissy was with Fräulein Schwind, thank goodness.
What I couldn't make out was why if I was English, papa wanted to make me into a German. At St. Vincent's I always used to stick up for Germany against France but I shan't any more and when I get older I'll take jolly good care not to schwätzen any more in German.
Up to the last I was in an awful funk that papa would take me down to Clive. I knew that meant a lot of pie-jaw in the train, very likely in front of other boys. But, thank goodness, he was too busy in the city and mamma took me. It was always dreadful saying good-bye to her when I went back to St. Vincent's but it was worse going to this new place but at all events I should have her a little longer. Mamma had Archer in the coupé brougham to drive to the station. I hoped she would have driven the cobs there in her phaeton so that some of the boys might see us but Archer was almost as good, he's a bright chestnut and steps like one o'clock. There was a carriage reserved for mamma and the guard showed us to it but as we came up there was a lady with grey hair and a very pretty face standing at the door talking to a very tall boy. I thought he was a man until mamma asked the lady if she would take a seat in our carriage and she said she had only come to see her son off to Clive. Mamma said it was my first term and the lady said her son could tell me all about everything going down if mamma would like him to come with us. She said her name was Lady Rendlesham and this was her son Geoffrey Bligh. Then mamma got into the carriage but Bligh stopped outside till the last minute and said "Good-bye, darling mother" and kissed her just as the train started.
I began calling mamma mother to myself all the way down in the train. Mother talked to him and asked him a lot of questions but he didn't seem to mind. He said he was in a college dormitory and this was his last term and that he was going to Sandhurst. He said Thornhill's was the quietest house but not good at games although Cunliffe, the last captain of the Eleven had been there. He was captain of the Fifteen himself. He looked at me a good deal while he said all this in a very nice sort of way and told mother he would look out for me, but he never did anything afterwards except say "How are you getting on, Nipper?" as he went by. Mother went on talking to him all the way and he seemed to like her awfully. She said she hoped his mother and he would come and see her.
I liked Mr Thornhill at once and Mrs Thornhill was quite pretty. When mother went away after tea in the fly that brought us, I said "Good-bye, darling, darling mother" in her ear, though I'd never called her mother before.
Mr Thornhill took me into a large room where there were two big boys and a piano and left me there. As soon as he went out, they grinned at each other and one of them pointed at the door and said "Hook it." I went up a staircase covered with bags and parcels and bats to a landing where there were no end of boxes with boys sitting on the top of them. Some of them were whistling; they were nearly all bigger than me. Those who weren't whistling were hammering their heels against the boxes making an awful row. They all stared at me as I came up but they didn't say anything, only went on whistling and hammering. At the end of the landing was the dormitory and the second door on the left had my name on it. There was a boy about my size sitting on top of two boxes in front of it. I stood a minute and he said "New boy?" I said "Yes." He said "So'm I. Kirk. What's yours?" I said "Kurt." He said "That's funny!" I said "Yes, awfully." Then we got to be rather friends and I began to feel jollier. He didn't know anything more than I did but he had the cubicle, as they call it, next to mine at the end. Afterwards he hung up a lot of pictures of race-horses and two foxes' brushes as well as a hunting-crop and spurs, in his cubicle. The cubicle on the other side of mine belonged to Pearson. I got to know him that evening at supper in the room where the piano was. He told me the two big boys I'd seen before were Green and Ferguson and they were in the Fifth and that Green played the piano awfully well and sang songs. Pearson was Scotch and much older than me, two years at least and very broad and thick-set with light yellow hair but he was only one form above. He said he'd let me come with him sometimes to get plants and he'd show me some lovely woods and streams. I began liking being there then especially when Ashly who was head of the house came into my cubicle and asked if I was all right. He was more like a master, very tall, with spectacles and very sloping shoulders but awfully nice.
After prayers and breakfast the next morning; I didn't know where to go or what to do, nor did Kirk. Nobody told us anything and we didn't like to ask for fear of looking like fools. There didn't seem to be any other new boys at Thornhill's so he and I followed the other boys along a road till we got to a big gate. We went through that into the quad with a lot of doors round it and boys rushing in and slamming them. At last I saw one with Upper Middle Two on it and went in. Kirk was in Lower Middle so I didn't know where he went.
The master of the form was Mr Parnell. Hie was the most awful man I ever saw in my life. He had on a black gown and a black four-cornered cap with a tassel and he had a red beard, not like the pater's but all straggly and untidy and enormous teeth of different colours but most of them black. When I got in, all the other boys were there and he was calling over their names. He made me sit down at the bottom of the form. We didn't do much that morning because Parnell was serving out books most of the time but he heard us construe a piece of Caesar each. Most of them did it awfully badly especially the fourth boy. He was far the biggest of all and very fat with little eyes like a pig and black hair that stuck up straight and pimples on his face. He mumbled and muttered so that one could hardly hear but Parnell didn't seem to be listening and went on to the next boy. When it came to my turn, he gave me a place I'd done before at St. Vincent's, so I didn't make any mistakes scarcely. Parnell hardly looked at me. All he said was "Go up to fourth." That put me next above that fat boy and the first thing he did was to pinch my leg so that I couldn't help squealing a bit and when I did that he scowled at me sideways behind his book and hacked me with his heel on the shin. As soon as the form was over Parnell went out of the room and the boys began going out too. I had my arms full of books and had just got to the door when Cox, that was his name, pulled me back by the collar and knocked all my books out of my hands and kicked them about. Then he got me into a corner and kicked me. He said "I'll teach you to go up above me, you little snot," and gave me such a whack in the stomach with his fist that I doubled up.
If it hadn't been for Cox I shouldn't have half minded my first term at Clive. There was no bullying in the house at all and Mr Thornhill was awfully nice. He was keen on astronomy and had a telescope in the garden and invited some of the boys to come and look at Mars and Venus and Saturn with the rings round it. Some of them laughed and joked about it but I liked it because of astronomy and what he told me about sound and light travelling and the distances between us and the planets and all that and partly because he had an awfully pretty daughter called Ella about my age who came into the drawing-room afterwards with Mrs Thornhill while we had cakes and fruit. One afternoon when no one was looking I went round to the back of the house and looked through the fence between their garden and our part and saw Ella playing with a little girl and we took hold of each other's hands through the fence but we didn't say anything because the lace on her sleeve got caught and all the time was taken up getting her hand back again without scratching it.
None of the boys in the house were in my form so they didn't know what a brute Cox was and of course I didn't talk about it, except to Kirk and he said I just had to grin and bear it. I thought Kirk was rather a fool but perhaps he was right about that. There was nobody in the house I liked as much as Garnett at St. Vincent's. There was no regular fagging like at Eton but I sort of half fagged for Ashly, fetching him grub and boiling water for his tea. He was very decent too and lent me books but I got the best ones out of the house library. I used to lie on my bed during recreation reading Scott and Bulwer and Dickens. I liked Bulwer best and Gulliver's Travels and Don Quixote.
It was the Easter term and we were supposed to play footer but I dodged it whenever I could through my toothache because it often made my face swell. It wasn't the game I minded but Cox and Rankin were just as bad at games as they were at work and played with the lower school. Generally I had the luck to be drawn in a game with one or the other and when there was a scrum they made the small boys go in first heads down and they stopped on the outside and kicked them. Ashly, who was a monitor, told me to go to old Dr Marsham but I knew he'd yank out my teeth and I'd found out that if I pulled my blanket partly over my head, the heat almost took the pain away and reading did the rest. Green made me sing the treble parts in Patience and got me into the choir so I could get off rugger for choir practice too as well as for my piano lessons. What I liked about being in the choir was that one could see everybody in chapel, the masters, the visitors, the monitors and all the boys nearly. There were two boys who always sat together in the front half-way down who were different to anyone else. They wore patent-leather boots and very tight trousers. One whose name was Darnley was awfully ugly, the other called Kent was awfully good-looking. I never saw one without the other. Kirk told me they were great sportsmen and rode awfully well and that Porter in whose house they were, let them ride his horses. One afternoon Pearson took me a long walk into the woods beyond Crowhill. He was looking for some special plant in the thickest parts when all of a sudden we saw Darnley and Kent. They were lying on their stomachs with their arms down holes and Kent held up a little animal with a long body called a ferret and smelt his mouth. Pearson said they were hunting rabbits and presently Darnley pulled one out of his hole with another ferret hanging on to him. Another time I was out with Pearson we saw two other boys called Crothers and Dyke lying on the ground too. I saw them first and wanted to go and see them ferret. But they were lying on their backs and as soon as they saw me they got up and went away. When Pearson came up he told me they weren't ferreting and that they were beasts who ought to be sacked. I asked him why and he told me to shut up and mind my own business. Long before the end of the term Pearson's room was full of plants in little baskets and pots. He gave me some and tried to teach me to grow them but I never could, mine always died. He said I should never be a gardener and I don't think so either.
I never shall like Ennismore Gardens. The middle part, where the hall is, is dark, and I hate having to take my boots off and put on pumps and wash my hands whenever I come in. And they've stuck the little ones right up at the top of the house so I have to climb all those flights of stairs to see Ada and baby. I don't like Miss Durham much better than Fräulein Schwind. I'm jolly glad I don't have much to do with her but I'm sorry for Ada. As for Sissy she always sucks up to everyone so she'll be all right. It's a good thing having Lillybridge to go to and the pony to ride but those Seiliger boys aren't much good and the Row's a rotten place to ride in, really. The Knightsbridge school's better fun especially when pater tries to ride Tommy over a jump and comes a cropper like he did last time. Mother rides beautifully and I love riding with her. She never moves from the saddle when she canters and she holds Janet when she pulls, as easy as anything. I like Mrs Mathers awfully though her teeth do stick out and she rides well too with that one rein on a curb bit but she ought to have a martingale on it. Mrs Furzell rides better in a way. Bernard Selliger says she ought to, considering she was in a circus, his mother said so. I wonder if that's why her face is always so white. Uncle Fred seems to like her but I know he likes Mrs Alhusen better because he was looking at her all the time he was talking to Mrs Furzell when I came in for dessert. I sat down near him and the first thing he did was to make me pass the ginger to Mrs Alhusen just as I was going to have a piece. Mr Alhusen's ripping. It was beastly of pater making me give him back that sov. he gave me. He winked and said "stick it in the other pocket," but it fell under the table and when that fool James went and brought it in on a tray to the billiard-room, he told him to keep it. Pater never gives me more than ten bob himself and makes an awful fuss about that. I don't like Mr Hawke although he plays polo and hunts. He's got such a rotten way of chaffing me as if I was an idiot and he's cheeky to Uncle Fred. And when Mrs Alhusen made me sit beside her on the sofa and asked me if I'd like to give her a kiss he poked his cue into Uncle Fred's back and nodded his head at her. Mrs Alhusen smells of a delicious scent, I was sitting between her and Mrs Furzell and Mrs Furzell said clove carnation was a dangerous scent, if anybody got any on them they couldn't get rid of it for hours and that beastly Mr Hawke roared as though he'd burst. But mother is much more lovely than Mrs Alhusen or Mrs Furzell and after her Lady Anderson. I love Lady Anderson, I always did. I like Sir Hector rather but not so much as her. I hated the sing-song way he read the prayers when I went to stay with them at Osterley but he plays tennis jolly well and I learnt how to do that cut from him. Now we've left Craythorne I don't suppose I shall be allowed to go to Osterley but they've got a house in London too and I hope Lady Anderson will invite me. I like Dick Anderson though he's so much younger than me.
Now Nanny's housekeeper and Florrie her sister is nurse and Keeling is butler; he's awfully fat and I like him. He told me all about Lord Shrewsbury's country house being burnt down and about Lord Randolph Churchill lying in bed and reading French novels and swearing when he's disturbed. He can imitate all sorts of instruments even bagpipes and he said John Brown, Queen Victoria's man, drinks half-a-bottle of whisky every night and sleeps with it under his pillow for fear the Queen should find it. Keeling's awfully frightened of Nanny; mother makes me call her Mrs Clifford now she's housekeeper. Whenever she comes along when he's talking to me he scuttles off. I go in when he's cleaning the plate with a green apron on and help him. He says he's going to marry Florrie but I mustn't say anything and he loves her more than anything in the world.
One good thing is that pater comes back so late I hardly see him as they're always going out or there are people to dinner but he makes me go into his dressing-room while he sticks his head in a great round basin and bubbles and gargles Pierre and water. Then while he dresses, he worries me about how much of my holiday task I've done. I'm supposed to do two hours' work with Miss Durham and go for walks with her and Sissy but mother generally takes me out driving or I ride or go to Lilly-bridge and play fives and Badminton with the Seiliger boys. Pater says if the holidays weren't so short he'd have a tutor because I'm too old for a governess. I told him I didn't mind if it wasn't a German one and he could play games. He said life wasn't games, it was work and how did I propose to earn my living, he had to. I don't know what he does in the city but it can't be very difficult. Keeling says he's got thousands and thousands a year but I mustn't tell anyone he said so.
One evening papa went to his Lodge dinner and mother took me to the theatre with Mr Hawke to see Henry Irving and Ellen Terry in Romeo and Juliet. It was awfully sad when they both died, I cried and so did mother but Mr Hawke said afterwards it was quite time that old fool Romeo did die. We went to have supper afterwards at a place called The Bristol and papa came in. He was in an awful temper the whole evening and said it was much too late for me to be up and if I went to the theatre I ought to go in the afternoon with Miss Durham. That's just like him.
I didn't especially like Meyrick. Of course he was an awfully good bat and they had to have him in the Eleven although he was so fearfully stupid that he couldn't get into the upper school. Everything I did seemed to go wrong that term. I know when it started. I was about the middle of the form. I didn't see much difference between Upper Middle One and Upper Middle Two except that the boys were older and thank heaven Cox wasn't there. We all had to do different bits of Latin prose and Meyrick asked me to take his to Thornhill's and let him have it before the form so that he could get to the nets because there was a match on Saturday. He said I should have to swear I didn't do it if Penley asked. What I couldn't make out was why the others all turned round on me; even now I can't understand. Penley gave me a caning as well as Meyrick and if he got stopped playing in the match, I got two hundred lines. Of course Gutekind and his beetles made it worse but how was I to know that? It was only my second term and there I was in Upper Middle One without a single boy of my age to tell anything to and no one in the house either unless you count Kirk who hasn't got out of Lower Middle Two yet. It was the pater's fault I had German lessons, goodness knows I didn't want to sit in that stuffy room full of books, alone with the old blighter. And a lot of chaps started hunting beetles besides me. I didn't know I was his favourite and I didn't want his rotten prize either. I knew something was up when Pearson suddenly turned funny and said he didn't want me when I said I'd like to go to Cold Ash with him. Of course that was through the new house monitor Capel giving me ices in his room. When Green took it up I might as well have been sent to Coventry at once. And I had done simply nothing at all. But the worst of all was the row about Caldwell at the sanatorium; it was a good thing the matron came in. Beastly as it was, I should at least have thought that his nearly getting sacked through me would have shown them I didn't want to suck up to the Sixth and the Eleven. Anything, even Cox and his bullying was better than being treated as though I was a reptile by all except a few big boys I hated the sight of. Then came poor little Radley's funeral and Cator moving away so as not to stand by me. Radley had his tonsils painted by old Marsham when I did before we were both sent to the sanatorium but I never saw him there because he was in a room by himself with a nurse. His mother and sister looked awfully miserable and when the school band played the Dead March in Saul they burst out crying. I ought to have told Mr Littlejohn, I always liked him the best of all the masters and I very nearly did tell him when he found me blubbing at the back of the gym. Then came speech day and I was too miserable to put flowers in my room like everybody else and mother and Captain Forrest came down. It first came into my head when she asked me what was the matter after I left half the strawberries and cream on my plate. I think I should have started blubbing then if Captain Forrest hadn't been there. I shall remember that room at the Clive Arms all my life with all the people sitting at the tables. Of course they thought I was all right because of Taylor and Capel both being there with their people and speaking to me. But Captain Forrest ought to have known that the Sixth aren't any good if the Fifth are down on you as well as all the Middle. But he was Eton and perhaps it's different there. I know if I got into Fifth next term which I could, it would be as bad as Upper Middle One, perhaps worse and I couldn't go on like that.
I wanted to kiss mother over and over again before she went but I never got a chance and I felt as if I was choking when Captain Forrest helped her into the train and gave me a sov. She had given me two after lunch and I didn't want his. I wanted to see her and he stood in front of the window and joked about standing there to keep the people out all the time I was thinking my heart would break in two and wishing I'd had an iron band round it like Faithful John. As soon as the train had gone I went down the lane that leads to Wrecclesham where I knew there was another station and as I walked I couldn't help crying.
Presently a high dog-cart came along with a groom in it and he let me get up. He was an awfully jolly chap something like Frank but not so smart. I told him all about our horses and old Taylor and Frank and we got quite chummy. He said it wasn't any use going to Wrecclesham as there wouldn't be a train for two hours but he was passing Spitall Junction and I'd get an up-train in half-an-hour. By the way he looked at me I knew he was wondering what I was up to, so I told him the truth straight out as I knew I could trust him. "Bunked it, 'ave you?" was all he said. While I was in the dog-cart with that spanking bay horse with a hog-mane and his short brush-tail almost over the dash-board trotting on in that smooth way Archer did hardly touching the ground, Clive and everything went clean out of my head. All I wanted was just to have my hand on the reins a minute and feel his mouth, but I didn't like to ask the groom. But we were at Spitall Junction in no time and I had to say good-bye to them. I told that chap he was a brick and I hoped I'd see him again some day and asked him to take the pound Captain Forrest gave me but he wouldn't and gave me a wink and drove off.
I'd never taken a ticket before that and wasn't sure what to say but a fat red-faced man said "One Waterloo" and I said the same and when the train came along I got into the same carriage as he did. There were a lot of people in it. I sat between an old woman with a basket in her lap and the fat man. They nearly squashed me and one stank of onions but I got used to it. I thought they might be surprised at my being there but nobody took any notice.
When we got to Waterloo it was quite light and I hadn't made up my mind what to do. I wanted it to be dark so that I couldn't be seen. What I was afraid of was the pater seeing me. I didn't know my way about anywhere. When I got out of the station I saw "Waterloo Swimming Baths" stuck up so I went in and had a bathe. After that I walked into a park and lay down on the grass under some trees. But when it was dark I got into a hansom and told the man to drive me to Lowndes Square because Uncle Fred lived there with Uncle Theo and I made up my mind to tell him everything. A maid I'd never seen before came to the door and said that Uncle Theo was in Paris and Uncle Fred was out to dinner. Although I didn't think Uncle Fred would be very hard on me, I didn't like to go in and wait. It might be a long time and I should have had to be all by myself and think about everything. So I told the maid it didn't matter and I would go back again, I didn't say where. But I walked up and down in front of the house instead. I thought it would be easier to go up to Uncle Fred outside and say "Here I am" or something. I didn't know what to do really and I began to get awfully miserable. It got darker and darker. Fewer and fewer people passed. It was raining a little. A soldier passed by with a woman. I watched them walking along the shiny pavement until they'd got as far as the third lamp-post. They stopped there and seemed to melt into one.
I sat down once or twice on the bottom step of a house but I looked out for the policeman and when I saw him I walked on. The longer I waited, the worse everything seemed and the more afraid I got, even of Uncle Fred. But I couldn't stay out all night in the rain. Where was I to go to? Several broughams and hansoms drove up and people got out of them. Each time my heart gave a jump because I thought it might be Uncle Fred. At last I got so tired I could hardly stand up and when a hansom drove up to the very next door and instead of Uncle Fred a lady and gentleman got out, I jumped in. I didn't know where to tell him to go to, but, as I knew the name, I said Piccadilly Circus so that I could think where else while I was driving. But when he stopped in a place where there were a lot of lamps alight and asked me through the trap-door where to, I hadn't thought of anything. While I was wondering what to do, a lady with a lovely dress and a lot of beautiful diamonds on stopped and looked at me. I wondered if she was a friend of mamma's, mother's, and when she said "Won't you take me with you, my little dear?" I was awfully surprised. But the cabby was still looking down through the hole at the top and told me not to take any notice of her. Then he said something very rude to her and she looked at me so sadly that I was awfully sorry that the cabby was so beastly to her. Besides I should have loved her to come with me in the cab as I felt so lonely and she looked awfully nice. The cabby got down and came to the side to talk to me. He was an old chap with grey mutton-chop whiskers. I said perhaps that lady would have taken me home with her and I wanted to go and sleep somewhere, he asked me why I didn't go home and I said my home was in Worcestershire and that I'd taken the wrong train going to school and had got to London by mistake. He said I must sleep somewhere. I'd better come home with him and I said I would. When we got there it was a sort of shop where they sold shrimps and periwinkles. A fat old woman with a red shawl on came outside and the old cabby and she talked to each other. She told me to get out and he was just driving away when I said I hadn't paid him. He said that would do to-morrow and his wife, I suppose it was, wanted me to have something to eat but I was too tired and the smell of fish was awful. So she took me into a little room at the back up a staircase and made a bed and gave me a clean nightshirt she said belonged to her son.
In the morning I woke up with a start. A big boy about seventeen was in the room and I sat up and looked at him. He was in his vest with his braces hanging down and was doing his hair. It was all plastered down except one bit in front that he was making into a sort of curl and he plastered that down too and put a cap over it with a strap under the chin and then I saw he was a soldier. His trousers were very tight with a broad yellow stripe at the side and he'd got on spurs so I knew he was a hussar. He saw me in the broken bit of glass he was looking into and turned round and said "Hulloa!" I said "Hulloa!" too but I was thinking, supposing he could get me into his regiment! I'd seen boys just as young as I was in the barracks at Hounslow when mother drove over from Craythorne to tea with Colonel Taggart or for polo matches and at Kneller Hall where the soldiers' bands played.
I jumped out of bed and asked him where I could wash and he jerked his head at the door. There was a stable-yard outside and the cabby who brought me was grooming his horse opposite. The sun was shining in his eyes so that he had to put up his hand to see me and I could see all the dust off the horse floating about in a beam across his back and all at once I began to feel awfully happy. It reminded me of something, I didn't know what, but it had to do with a certain part of the garden, the scent of the flowers and the bees humming at Craythorne, and with Uncle Leopold and with lying on the grass on a fine day at St. Vincent's. But the feeling went away as quick as it came. There was a tap and a bucket and a big piece of soap and a cloth so I had a good wash and got dressed.
Then we had breakfast in a little room behind the shop, haddock and the strongest tea I ever drank and watercress. Jim, that was the big boy's name, never spoke a word but he did eat a lot. It must have been pretty early because the milk-girl came in the middle and the old woman came in with a can full lovely and fresh. I didn't dare say anything to Jim about going with him when he got up with his mouth full and said he must be off. He gave his mother a smacking kiss on the cheek and I saw the butter mark. He said "Bye, dad" to the cabby and went out buckling up his belt. The nice old woman asked me what I was going to do next and I said I would go to Waterloo and take the train to Clive College. She said "Dad will drive you there" and so in a few minutes, off we went but first I gave her one of my sovereigns. She said it was far too much but I showed her I had a whole one left and a lot of silver and told her she must keep it and I gave her a kiss but not on the same cheek as Jim. When we got to the station the old cabby asked me if I was sure I was all right and then he drove off and I was all alone again. What was I to do next? I couldn't go back to Olive now, never again. I wasn't sorry I'd run away but I began wondering if it was as bad there as I thought. I was standing beside the place where you take tickets and I heard an old lady say "Third single Ryde, please" and put down a sovereign. So I did the same and got quite a lot of change. I ran on and caught her up and got into the same carriage. I thought she looked rather like Nanny now she is Mrs Cliffie. There was a man with a brown moustache and a bowler on in the corner opposite who kept on looking at me from behind his paper and I thought he looked like a schoolmaster so I made up my mind to keep quiet. After the train started, the old lady took some sandwiches out of a basket and offered me one but I didn't want any. When she'd finished them she took out a little round box of chocolate creams and I had two but they were very small ones. She began asking me questions about how old I was and where I lived and whether I was at school. I said I lived in London but my parents were in Germany and I had got an exeat but I'd lost my luggage. I had to explain what an exeat was and I let it slip out that I was at Clive and I distinctly saw the man in the corner put down his paper and stare at me. After that the old lady got out some illustrated papers and lent me one and at Winchester the man got out, so he certainly was a master. After that I began talking again. I didn't mean to, but the old lady was so nice that little by little I told her the whole thing and I asked her what she thought I had better do. She said she must think it over and talk to Mr Dixon about it when she got down to Ryde but anyhow I was to stay with her.
It was ripping crossing over on the steamer and when we got there, Mr Dixon was waiting. He was hardly as tall as she was with a wideawake hat and a short grey beard and spectacles. They took me with them to where they lived. It was called Gainsborough Terrace and we had dinner in a small room with a lot of pictures of birds on the wall and two little green parrots in a big cage in the window. After dinner he opened it and they walked about on the table and ate bits of some kind of nut out of his fingers. After that he made me sit down beside him at a desk and asked me where my parents lived. I begged him not to write to them but, if he must write to anyone, to write to Uncle Fred and gave him his address. He said that would be all right and told me I could go for a row if I liked. That was awfully decent of him because it was just what I wanted to do. It was a lovely day, the water was as smooth as glass and I'd seen a lot of ripping boats as we came in on the steamer. He came with me and I got rather impatient because he walked so slow, he had such short legs. But he'd been so nice to me I didn't show it and even when he wouldn't let me go alone, I didn't argue about it. The boatman was a good sort and we had a jolly good row finishing up at the pier. After tea with jam-puffs in the pagoda Mr and Mrs Dixon took me to a performance by the Orinoco Nightingale and her Troupe of Dusky Maidens. It was lovely but we had hardly got outside when who should I see but Uncle Fred coming straight towards us.
The only disagreeable word Uncle Fred said to me on the steamer was "Don't tell me any more cock-and-bull stories" and he only said that after I began telling him that I'd taken the train from Spitall to London by mistake instead of to Olive College station and that when the dog-cart came along, all I intended to do was to go for a drive. We didn't talk much going up in the train because I didn't know what to say and when I asked him if the pater was in an awful wax with me, he said he was afraid he was and I must face the consequences of my escapade like a man. I was feeling utterly wretched and yet somehow I wasn't half sorry to be sitting opposite dear old Uncle Fred and watching the smoke come out of his nose and smelling the delicious smell of it that reminded me of Craythorne on Sundays. He couldn't have been very down on me because when he woke up from a nap, the moment he opened his eyes he winked and said "Well done, Rindelgrover" and then went off to sleep again.
When we got to Waterloo, the pater was at the station and that was awful. He never even looked at me. Uncle Fred and he talked a minute and when Uncle Fred gave me a kiss and said "Good-bye, be a man" the pater pushed him away and said something in Italian. All the same Uncle Fred turned round and held up his hand to me in that jolly way of his, behind the pater's back. I came near crying when he went away but I managed to keep it down so that the pater shouldn't think I cared. He'd got the tickets for Olive but the train didn't go to the college station, only to Wrecclesham. He never spoke a word all the way down but every now and then, when he thought I wasn't looking, he rolled his eyes at me. The pater's got an awful way of rolling his eyes round and round, I can't think how he does it. He smoked a lot. What a ripping thing it must be to smoke when you're upset about something. If I could smoke, I don't think I should mind anything scarcely. All the time Uncle Fred and I had been travelling, I was thinking I should see darling mother and Ada and Baby and Keeling and even if the pater was beastly to me, they would have made up for it. I hadn't thought he'd have taken me straight down like this. What was going to happen to me next? I'd always been told that when chaps bunked, they were expelled. I didn't know what happened when chaps were expelled but I read an awfully rotten book by a clergyman and the boy in it was expelled in front of the whole school for doing something he hadn't done and came back and was top of the school and captain of the rifle team. I don't know if there ever was a rifle team at Olive, I never knew anyone who belonged to it and I shouldn't think shooting at targets all day was much fun. Perhaps I should be swished. That was the St. Vincent's name, they call it something else at Olive. But they don't do that publicly, only before four prefects. It can't be awfully bad except for the disgrace and I'm so disgraced now it can't be any worse. Cox said he hardly felt it but then Cox is a liar, he was in the most awful funk before he went in, and his beastly face looked like green cheese. I hope I shan't be like him. He got it for saying that Beale was a dirty little usher on two quid a week and his washing. It wasn't till then I knew what usher meant. "The usher took six hasty strides, six hasty strides the usher took" I can't remember it properly now.
When we got to Wrecclesham, the pater took a fly and we drove straight to the hotel where mother and Captain Forrest and I had lunch on speech day. It was quite late but he sat down and wrote a long letter and sent it away by a boy on a pony. He never asked me if I was hungry and when I said I was thirsty, he pointed to a jug of water and a glass on the sideboard. I asked him if I could go to sleep on the sofa and he said I might but I'd hardly laid down when the boy came back with an answer. Of course it was from Mr Thornhill. The pater sent the boy away and read it out loud very slowly, something about his not thinking he could persuade Mr Wyke to keep his son at Clive because of the rule of the college that boys who ran away had to be removed. The pater folded the letter up without saying anything and put it away in his green pocket-book with the gold initials on it that Uncle Fred gave him last birthday. Then he rang the bell and said to the maid "Take this young gentleman to a bedroom." She went to the pater and got some things he'd brought for me in his bag. It was awfully nice of her because I didn't have to go and ask him for them and I couldn't help kissing her. I knew she saw something was the matter and was sorry for me and that made me cry–but only for a minute.
The next morning directly after breakfast the pater took me to Thornhill's. I was dreading the boys seeing me but they were all at their forms except little Bird. He was looking out of the library window so I supposed he'd got hay fever again. Mr Thornhill was much nicer than the pater. He shook hands with me and told me to go into the drawing-room while he talked to the pater in his study. After a bit Mrs Thornhill came in and put her hand on my shoulder and asked me what I'd run away for. I think I should have tried to tell her but Mr Thornhill called me into the study and told me Mr Wyke had decided to let me stay on. But the pater said "That's not quite all, Mr Thornhill. Mr Wyke says, Richard, he will make the great exception of caning you instead and he hopes you will show your gratitude for being treated so leniently." Then he told Mr Thornhill how pleased he was about Mr Wyke being so kind and asked Mr Thornhill if he might go up to my cubicle. When we got there, he took darling mamma's picture off the bracket in the middle of the partition over my bed and said "When you prove that you deserve such a mother, you shall have it back." It was a lovely hand-painted photograph she had given me in a black ebony carved frame, in a ball dress, standing up. Pater knew how I loved that picture. I asked him to take the big photo of the phaeton and pair of cobs with mother sitting with the reins in her hand and Frank standing at their head instead but he wouldn't do that. Then I said there was one thing he could do anyhow and when he asked what that was I said "Go away and never let me see your face again." He said "You'll be sorry you said that some day." But I haven't been sorry yet.
It was all quite different to what I expected. Except Spencer not a single boy ever spoke about my having bunked and I don't think they knew. Instead of being in Coventry it was just the opposite. I don't know whether it was all an idea of mine before or whether it was different through Spencer being so jolly to me, he's awfully popular. It was funny his being in his cubicle when the pater took mother's photo away and hearing the whole thing and then asking me to come and look at his photos so that he could tell me he'd heard and was sorry–awfully decent I call it. Spencer's supposed to be very clever. He's got a tremendous wig of curly light hair and he's in Upper Second on the modern side and he's only a year older than me. His father is Sir Alfred Spencer, the Queen's surgeon and he's her godson. And I must have been wrong about Pearson too because he asked me to help him clean out his cubicle and gave me a lot of plants I didn't know what to do with. But what changed everything was Littlejohn's taking our form because of Penley being ill. Just because I knew by heart "Otium divos rogat in patenti prensus Aegoeo nauta," and that was only through Swanston betting me a pound of grapes I couldn't do it in four times reading over, Little John asked me to come and field for him at the nets. Then he tells me to send him down a few balls and I take his leg stump and the next thing I'm in the House Eleven. That only shows what luck is. I only wish the pater had something more like Littlejohn in him but he hasn't and never will have. Now that I'm certain of my remove, that would have meant Lower Fifth next term and I should probably get into the Second Eleven, he's going to take me away but he never thought of that when I was down. Of course he puts it on my being ill and having to go to the sanatorium again but why didn't he say anything the first time? I don't care, I've got mother and she makes up for everything and thank goodness he's away in the city all day. Of course it was mother who engaged Arthur Stavely, the pater would never have got such a ripping chap. He rows in his college boat and very nearly got into the varsity Eight. If I've got to have a tutor, I must say I couldn't have a jollier one. The only thing I don't like about him is his hanging about mother so much. I don't like their walking about together in the evening under the cedars.
Longshades is the most beautiful place in the world. The house is very old, hundreds of years and very ramshackly, all dark brown shiny wood inside with little staircases and passages all over the place and the floor higher in some places than others and so slippery I'm always coming croppers on it. In the pantry there's an enormous marble basin with a dolphin's head over it with a tap in his mouth. Keeling says it used to be a monastery and that the pantry is part of the refectory but he doesn't know what a refectory is; I must ask Stavely. Keeling says it's haunted and he's seen an old monk walking about when he locked up the silver in that huge cupboard in the pantry wall and that Florrie's afraid to go upstairs by herself because of the stairs creaking behind her. He says that's the old monk following her up to her bedroom and that those old monks were the very devil after girls like Florrie. The garden goes right down to the water but you can't see the house from the river because of the trees. There's an old mill on a sort of island and the weir is quite close to the boathouse which makes it very dangerous getting boats in and out. I've nearly been over twice, it's rather exciting. The gardens stretch ever so far the other side of the house with big lawns and cedar-trees where mother has the tea brought in the afternoon and beyond the rose garden is the kitchen garden with lovely apricots and peaches on the walls and then the park which goes as far as Haversham with hills covered with woods, full of pheasants and rabbits on one side, and the river on the other and smooth grass in between where I gallop in the morning and before I go home I have to go to the farm-house at the edge of Bindle Wood and have a large glass of milk warm from the cow. I don't care about it but the doctor said I was to have it and I do like the farm and Mrs Braiding and the lovely cool dairy and the smell and the Jersey bull calf and Bill Braiding the keeper.
There's a Roman Catholic chapel you can get into by a door on the broad landing outside my bedroom. Then you're in a little gallery with chairs in it and a little staircase that goes down below where it's half dark because the windows are very small with coloured glass in them and almost hidden by monuments of old knights and people. But there's always a lamp burning over the altar only it has a very small wick. An old Belgian priest comes for the service. He's a tutor too and he's got some fellows staying with him, French and Belgian, at a funny little house in the village. They seem to spend their time shooting at a target with pistols. I saw one of them kissing Mrs Selliger's French maid Marie when I was out with Bill Braiding feeding the pheasants. Bill said he was one of those damned papists and he'd like to hit him behind the ear. That evening the chap came to dinner with the priest and sang French songs afterwards. His name is Camille de Jongh. When I went up to bed he was still singing and Marie was hanging over the banisters listening so I put my arm round her back and hung over with her until the door opened downstairs and we both flew. I like Marie. She's very dark and has got lovely flashing eyes and she wears pretty dresses that rustle and show her petticoats. Mrs Cliffie hates her and says why can't she talk English like a Christian as if she can help being French. In the middle of the night something woke me up and I jumped out of bed. I always sleep with my door open and I looked through and distinctly saw someone come through the door from the chapel gallery and go into Marie's room. The next morning I saw Marie taking Mrs Selliger's breakfast in and I waited. When she came out I told her I'd seen de Jongh go into her room. It wasn't true because it was too dark for me to know who it was but I'm certain it was him because he could get hold of the key of the chapel. All she did was to put her finger on her lips and move her eyes about and whisper in my ear "You come into my room to-night."
A few days after that it was a Sunday and we were all sitting out on the lawn having tea. Mr Benda had come down and Uncle Fred and Captain Forrest and Gerald and Nelly Adeane who is Mrs Selliger's daughter had rowed over from Henley. We'd been playing tennis and I was awfully hot and it was lovely lying there on the grass near mother. She looked so lovely and Uncle Fred and Mr Benda were pretending to quarrel over which of them Mrs Selliger was to dine with when she went back to town next day. Then I saw the pater coming out of the house. I thought he had his eye on me and the next thing I knew was I had to go with him to call on the Belgian priest. I looked at mother and Stavely but I saw I had to go, though I couldn't imagine what for. On the way there he said he was going to ask the priest to give me French lessons, I was doing next to nothing with Mr Stavely and it was time I learnt French. When we got there they were all sitting round in a circle and the priest introduced the fellows to the pater and I had to shake hands all round. There were four of them and they'd all got on tail-coats. One of them called Mérode talked English to me, he wasn't a had sort of chap and he took me outside and let me have some shots with his pistol. He said he liked hunting but he meant shooting because he said he'd got an English gun. Afterwards the others came out and we went away. On the way back pater told me he'd arranged for me to have an hour and a half's lesson every morning but of course I should have to prepare every afternoon as well, so that would be at least three hours and as I did two hours with Mr Stavely, that would make five which was enough during holidays. After he'd taken so much trouble adding it all up I didn't spoil it by telling him how much work Stavely and I did in that two hours. Then he said what a nice young fellow de Jongh was, so clever and so industrious, the priest said he was the best of his pupils, he could translate Greek into French poetry and he sometimes worked half the night preparing for his examination to be a doctor or something. Why couldn't I take a young man like that for an example instead of thinking of nothing but games and amusements. He hoped now I had the chance I would cultivate this nice young man who had promised him to do anything he could to advance my education. I didn't say anything, just listened to his usual pie-jaw. But that evening after dinner I got hold of Uncle Fred and got him to come out in the garden and told him what pater had said and that these were my holidays and I thought it was a beastly chisel to make me swat French with that old Belgian. Uncle Fred said I must be sensible it was all for my good and papa had told him what nice young men Monsieur Larue's pupils were, especially one of them. So then I couldn't keep it in any longer and I told him about de Jongh going into Marie's room. Of course I didn't know for certain, even then, but Uncle Fred looked at me, then he doubled up his lips and said "Um" and we went inside and there was de Jongh singing his songs again and everybody clapping their hands. When I went up to bed, he was hard at it still but Marie wasn't on the stairs and I didn't go into her room and in the morning before he went to the city, pater told me he'd changed his mind about the French lessons because my mother said the doctor wanted me to be in the open air as much as possible.
I don't know why they specially hit on Bournemouth or how they found Pellew. I never can make out why, as it's me who has to go to a tutor, the pater can't ask me what I think about it. He wouldn't have to do what I said but if he only knew it, I should be much more likely to work if he were to go by me and send me to the sort of tutor I like. Pellew is a beast. I knew he was the first moment I saw him by the way he grinned at me. When a master grins in that way, you know he's the sort that loses his temper at the slightest thing and that's just what Pellew does. Mr Beasley never grinned nor did Mr Atwood nor did Mr Thornhill but Parnell did though not in the same way as Pellew, more brutal and less sickly. Of course he's a clergyman, one of that kind that wear long coats down below the knees and a low-crowned soft hat with a rosette in the middle and he's got awful asthma and never stops wheezing and his voice sounds as though he ought to be clearing his throat. When he's in a good temper he's always putting his arm across your shoulders and messing you about to show you how much he likes you but it only makes you feel uncomfortable and hate him more. When he gets into one of his rages, he glares at you and makes faces as though he was going mad. There are only six of us and we're of all ages. Taverner's the oldest, he's nearly seventeen, then comes O'Hara who's sixteen, then Grantley and Barrett, they're fifteen and I soon shall be, then comes Medway. I like Grantley the best. He's mad on engineering and he's good at mathematics especially algebra but he hardly knows any Latin and no Greek. He stammers when Pellew frightens him and he's awfully shy. He's got a very pale face and a chin that goes back and he looks awful on a horse. That's the best thing about this place, we ride three times a week. That's all we seem to do except tennis but Grantley and I have hired tricycles. He's got a dodge of using his like a locomotive, standing on the iron frame that the small wheel in front goes through and driving it backwards. Taverner's got a curious sort of machine. You balance on a little seat between two wheels, one on your right side and one on your left. Grantley knows an awful lot about machines and he says it's a rotton invention and never will be any good because it's on the wrong principle and he made a lot of drawings to explain why but I couldn't understand them. O'Hara's got a horse of his own, a chestnut with a long tail and a brand-new saddle and double bridle. He rides awfully well and wears swagger breeches and top-boots with cloth tops. He hardly does any work and seems to do what he likes. He's an American and speaks with a queer accent. He's got red curly hair and a red face and I rather like him. He told me he'd got sacked from Harrow but he didn't care and when he'd had enough of Pellew's, he'd get sacked again. He says that's the only game when you're weary but it's all very well for him. His pater lives in California and he says his mother runs the show in Europe and she only laughs when he gets sacked.
Medway's only just thirteen and very small but he's jolly clever and he draws awfully well. He's got the funniest tricks I've ever seen. When he's drawn something, he does horses and people riding chiefly, he pushes the paper forward on the desk and sits back and looks at it, giving it little pokes first to one side, then to the other and while he's doing that, he rattles his pencil between his teeth and jumps about on his chair and hums out of tune. He works himself up into a regular state doing that and doesn't pay any attention to anybody. Barrett and I made him go on doing it one day till he fell on the floor and writhed about so much that we got in a funk. Perhaps he caught something when he was in India. He lived there till he was eight and came home with an ayah. What with rides in the New Forest and the private theatricals I wouldn't half mind it here if it weren't for Greek with Pellew. Only Barrett and I do Greek. The Odyssey one day, Alcestis the other and Greek Testament on Saturdays. As long as Beddoes takes us, it's all right. He's very tall, six foot at least. He dresses very well and wears striped coloured shirts with a very high all-round collar and tight trousers with stripes and a single eyeglass and is clean-shaved because he's an amateur actor and sings comic songs. He'a an awfully good sort and Barrett and I swat rather for him because he once told us that if we didn't get on, he'd have to go. That was after Pellew got into one of his waxes and pitched into him in front of the whole class because Grantley made a fool of himself in his Latin prose. Pellew only takes Taverner regularly every day, but he sees our papers and hears us now and then. I don't think Beddoes knows Greek very well, he's always turning words up in the lexicon, but that beast Pellew does, he's mad on Homer. He reads lines out in a sing-song voice and then gets up and walks about the room waving his arms and saying it off by heart. That would be all right enough but on Saturdays Barrett and I have to take Greek Testament in his study. The first time he was sitting at his writing-table and when I came in he grinned at me in that awful way and stroked his chin just under his mouth with one hand and held up his other for me to come and stand by him. He began by asking me how my cold was or something and stroked the back of my head and grinned more than ever. Then he said, "Well, let's begin" and while I read the Greek and started translating he went on stroking my neck and my back. I moved as far away as I could and after a time he said that would do, I'd done it very nicely and I was to send in Barrett. As soon as Barrett came out, I asked him what Pellew did. He said he'd made him sit down on the sofa beside him and twisted his hair and tickled his face all the time he was reading and translating. I had half a mind to tell Taverner but when it came to it, I felt shy because I didn't know what to say. Besides, what could Taverner do? Then the rehearsals began and Pellew got so excited about them, he didn't go on taking us in Greek till they were over. And soon after that I got ill and had to go to bed and mother and Dr Burroughs came down and then came the holidays and I went to stay with Grantley.
It was through Lady Adelaide coming to Bournemouth and asking me to lunch that I went to stay at Bentley Court. Percy would have been too shy to ask me but his mother wrote to mine.
I wasn't exactly pleased to go really but afterwards I was glad I did. For one thing, at St. Vincent's some of the chaps like Ellerby and Hames were always talking about their fathers' country houses and the shooting and the keepers and the hounds and all that and I'd never seen anything of that kind except Bill Braiding and the pheasants and rabbits in the woods above Longshades. I wanted to see what Percy Grantley's father was like to compare him with pater and see how he treated him. But I hated leaving mother during the short Christmas holidays, it was worth putting up with the pater to be with her.
Lady Adelaide came to meet me at Hurstonbury station in a victoria and pair. Percy drove the village cart he'd told me about and took my portmanteau. Of course I'd much rather have gone with him. Mother would never have put on such a shabby old brown cloth dress and awful boots with round leather things round the tops as Lady Adelaide wore and as to the carriage, it was all knocked about and the varnish was cracked and the pair were awful, not a match at all, one was a bay and the other brown, their tails were different lengths and they stood over at the knees. Percy said afterwards they were old hunters; they certainly didn't look like carriage horses. We drove past a beautiful old ruin covered with ivy. Lady Adelaide said it was Hurstonbury Abbey and close to it were the gates of Bentley Park and a lodge. We stopped there and Lady Adelaide took a parcel in and stayed some time. When she came out again, she said that one of the keepers lived in that lodge and his wife had just had a baby, the fourth and that it was a beautiful little boy. She asked me if I had sisters and brothers and, when I told her, she said, is that all, and that she had nine. After a time we could see the house in the distance and when we got nearer we came up with an old gentleman on a very fat cob. I could hardly believe he was Percy's father, he looked so old. There was tea going in an enormous drawing-room and a lot of people. One lady, who looked rather like Miss Durham and about the same age, took me over to the table and asked me whether I'd like coffee or tea, a poached or a boiled egg. She was awfully nice and after a time I knew she was Percy's oldest sister. Afterwards Percy took me up to my room next to his which was miles off down a long passage and up some stone stairs. Everything was stone and it was very cold. He told me there was a shooting party and those men in the drawing-room were the guns. They were going to shoot the outlying covers the next day and we should go with the beaters. What I specially noticed was that everybody seemed to do what they liked and nobody bothered much about anybody else. Everybody called old Mr Seton-Grantley the Squire. He didn't change his clothes for dinner but just had his top-boots pulled off and the buttons of his breeches undone by the butler and he went to sleep at the end and didn't notice when Percy's sisters squirted orange pips at him. The youngest one is awfully pretty and is engaged to Captain Leadbeater who Percy says is one of the best shots in England. He and Lord Densham who married another sister go on like schoolboys, making everybody apple-pie beds and putting wet sponges on the doors. I wonder what pater would think of it.
I didn't enjoy the shooting as much as I expected because of having to kill the animals. Percy showed me how to but I made an awful mess of it and I could hardly stand it, especially the hares. I liked the meet in front of the house best and running all day and viewing the fox away with that keeper, Jim Watt. It's odd Percy would rather fool about on that rotten little toy railway than hunt. I wish they'd have let me have a horse. Hunting's what I intend to go in for when I get a chance.
Lady Adelaide doesn't seem to bother about Percy at all. I never see as much of mother as I want to, still I do see her and she always knows what I'm doing. Lady Adelaide seems to think more about the people in Bentley village and on the estate than she does of Percy. And Percy doesn't seem to have more to do with his oldest brother than a boy in the Lower School does with a fellow in the Sixth. As to his father, you wouldn't think Percy was his son at all. I really think I'd rather have the pater than be the son of some old chap who hardly knows or cares whether I'm alive or not.
The next term at Pellew's was awful. He took it into his head that Barrett and I ought to be confirmed. That meant going into his study and having to put up with his rotten talk and pretending to understand things that seemed to be absolute gibberish and yet feeling all the time one ought to be what one wasn't. Even that wouldn't have been so bad if it hadn't been for his disgusting antics. Over and over again I said to myself I'd write the whole thing to mother but it was so fearfully difficult to explain and I was certain the pater would simply say I was inventing it. You see, there was nothing you could exactly get hold of, it was the sort of way he behaved. Supposing it had been Littlejohn, for instance, he might have done almost exactly the same and it would have been all right because one knew that he was straight and even if one couldn't believe all the things he would have wanted one to, one would have tried. And perhaps, very likely even, one would have told him what one felt. He was the sort of man you could say things to. But Pellew was exactly the opposite. I knew he was a canting hypocrite like Pecksniff. I don't think Barrett saw it like I did and that was another reason why I didn't write. If another boy didn't think what I did, how could I expect the pater to believe what I said? I noticed after a bit that when I talked to him about Pellew he didn't say much and gradually I gave up saying anything. I think Pellew had managed to humbug him; I don't think it was Barrett's fault. Sometimes he went up to his room, we all had separate ones there, and stayed there for an hour nearly. I believe he was reading that little book of prayers Pellew gave us. Pellew told me I ought to spend a lot of time praying but I never did. I just said my usual prayers that Miss Carroll taught me and my own that I made up. I never was in the least frightened by what he said might happen to my soul. The only thing I was afraid of was, what might happen to mother or Ada or Baby or Uncle Fred or old Mrs Cliffie or Mr Benda or someone else I was fond of.
Well, we were confirmed and there was an end of it. But it was an awful term.
After my confirmation Pellew gradually gave up his tricks. I got rather good at tennis in the summer term and won our handicap tournament but there wasn't much in that as I got a bisque every game from Taverner. He took my beating him awfully well. But that made me useful to Pellew making up sets with Mrs Pellew and her friends. Then came the summer holidays at Rottingdean and riding on the downs with mother and teaching Ada to ride and Mrs Furzell and the Carstairs coming to stay and Uncle Fred and Mr Benda and Giorgio di Minerbi. After that the winter term. Taverner and O'Hara left and Mortimer and Wynn came and thanks to mother I was allowed to hunt twice a month on the condition made by the governor that I worked for the intermediate. My passing it with special mention for Latin verse and prose made him more decent last holidays than he'd ever been before. That's not saying much but still . . . And now through no fault of mine, he'll be more down on me than ever. If anyone's to blame it's Uncle Fred but I shall certainly never say so.
The whole business happened because of Pellew being mad about Raikes. Raikes came this term, he's about seventeen and an invalid, lungs all wrong, but he doesn't look ill. He's got a milky white skin but plenty of colour in his cheeks and eyes like mother's rather, only bluer still. He's not good-looking like a boy really and his voice and ways are like a girl, awfully gentle and affectionate. No one could be angry with him or treat him unkindly, he wouldn't understand if you did. Besides he'd never give you reason to. He spends most of his time lying on a sofa in the Pellews' drawing-room, reading Plato and Theocritus and Pellew never lets him out of his sight. He didn't come in to the classes with the rest of us and I'm the only one who has seen anything much of him. Why I don't know but Pellew picked me out to be with him sometimes when he couldn't be. That wasn't often. On fine afternoons, he and Raikes lay on the sands, I suppose they were playing at being Greeks. I believe Pellew thinks himself like Plato. Raikes began calling me Richard at once and asked me to call him Douglas. You knew at once he'd never been to a Public School by the way he talked and the words he used. I couldn't possibly have helped liking him but I never felt comfortable with him. I liked to hear him talk, and being with him in some ways better than I ever liked being with any boy. When we were together he always seemed to find something amusing to talk about but utterly unlike other boys. I believe if this hadn't happened and I'd gone on seeing him, I should have got as keen on Greek as he is though I should never have got to know it like him. All the same, after I'd been with him for a time, I was always rather glad when Pellew–Raikes called him Magister to his face–came in and I went back to the others. I felt as though it wasn't myself who was there with him but somebody else and each time the feeling was stronger. I didn't want to like him much but I couldn't help it and it seemed as though if I liked him I must dislike all the others and everything I generally thought and did.
Well, a few days ago, Uncle Fred wrote me he was coming down to Bournemouth for a night and I was to ask Mr Pellew to let me be with him while he was there. Pellew said I could but I must be back by ten o'clock in the evening which I thought quite decent. I went to the station to meet him and I was awfully surprised when I saw he'd got Mrs Brandeis and her brother Giorgio di Minerbi with him. We all drove to the hotel where Uncle Fred seemed to have taken the whole floor. He was awfully jolly, joking and chaffing with Giorgio as he always does. In the afternoon we all went for a walk along the cliffs but Uncle Fred had a carriage to follow us in case Mrs Brandeis got tired. When we got to Branksome Chine we all went down to the sands and there lying in the sun in a sheltered spot was Douglas Raikes and near by was his bath-chair with a boy and a pony in it waiting for him. For a wonder Pellew wasn't with him. Of course I introduced him to Uncle Fred. It's a funny thing but at the very moment Uncle Fred introduced him to Giorgio, I had a feeling that something disagreeable would happen. They all began talking together, Giorgio mostly in Italian as he speaks English very badly and of course he and his sister always talk Italian to Uncle Fred. But Raikes seemed to understand and I could see they all liked him, especially Giorgio. The next thing was that Uncle Fred invited him to drive back to tea at the hotel with him and Raikes was delighted and got into his bath-chair at once to go up to where the carriage was. After tea I thought he'd go but he and Giorgio were talking in a corner and I didn't like to say anything to Uncle Fred although I knew Pellew would be in a rage about his not going back. Anyhow, he stayed all the rest of the afternoon and to dinner besides and drove back with me to Pellew's. We got in just before ten and Pellew was waiting in the hall. I knew what was coming by the way he told Raikes to go upstairs. He followed me in and shut the door and stood and looked at me a moment as though he was considering how he was going to kill me. Then he began. It's more easy to think of what names he didn't call me and Uncle Fred than what he did call us. He raged up and down and hammered on the table and threw his arms about until I thought he'd fall down in a fit. At the end he said I was to leave immediately. I could go back to my degraded voluptuary of an uncle and stay with him, he wasn't going to have his house and his pupils polluted by such people. After that he calmed down a little and told me to go to bed. That was the day before yesterday and yesterday morning I was expecting to have to pack my things and go round to Uncle Fred's hotel. After breakfast Pellew called me into his study again and told me he wouldn't disgrace me by sending me away on the spot but he was going to write to my father to remove me at the end of the term. He would spare me by confining himself to saying that he considered it would be in my interests to pursue my studies elsewhere. I was clearly to understand that I was not to speak another word to Raikes while I was there but he never mentioned Uncle Fred again. I suppose Eaikes told him what a dear old chap he is. But he means to get rid of me. I know, whatever way he puts it, that the governor is quite certain to side with him against me. And if I tried to explain, what could I say? What I believe is that Pellew is mad.
Uncle Caesar came to Craythorne once when I was a small kid. I think it was the same year old Uncle Leopold was there. I remember his coming to the observatory where I had lessons to hear me say "Under the spreading chestnut tree, the village smithy stands" by heart to Miss Carroll and his making me sit under the elms while he read me his German poem about Craythorne garden and Aunt Justina interrupting to explain and his telling her to be quiet, that I could understand it if I tried. Later when he came to Heidelberg Kölle made me read the Allgemeine Rundschau Uncle Caesar was editor of and I was jolly pleased when he told the governor that Der Taucher wasn't a good poem, not a bit the sort he ought to have made me learn. I don't think I saw him after that till now but Wilhelmina was staying with the aunts while I was with them at Hamburg last Easter holidays and it was through her fidgeting about that I caught a crab in that half-outrigger and fell into the Alster. How she carried on about it! She still says "Aber Rich-hart" whenever I chaff her and call her my little Schatz. I expected to find it a tiresome business travelling about with my German relations but I've got to like Uncle Caesar and little Aunt Justina and I shall be sorry to leave them when the governor meets us at Stresa. After that I'm to go to Switzerland with him to the new tutor's he's found at Vevey. Uncle Caesar's a rare good sort, not a bit of a humbug, and I've learnt more German being with him a couple of weeks than I did from that fool Kölle in six. He meets people he knows everywhere and likes a bottle of wine and what is more likes me to like it. He says "Guter Wein, guter Schnapps, gute Zigarre, laute gute Sachen aber–keine Frauenzimmer dabei." He's very thin, clean-shaved all but a little moustache, and he's got a long nose and long hair brushed straight back from his forehead and falling down his neck and he always wears boots that pull on and go half-way up to the knee under his trousers and a little black tie like you wear in the evening, a soft black hat with a wide brim and a cloak. You wouldn't think to look at him he'd say Bo! to a goose, but you'd make a big mistake. He may be a poet but he's as brave as a lion and he won't stand cheek from anyone.
We arrived at Verona late one evening and we all four left our things at the hotel and went to a café opposite the Amphitheatre to have supper. There was moonlight and we sat outside. After we'd finished Uncle Caesar went on smoking his cigar and drinking his wine, out of what he called a fiasco, and looking at the Amphitheatre; I expect he was thinking of writing a poem about it. Anyhow, he wasn't bothering about us and once when Wilhelmina was going to interrupt him, Aunt Justina shut her up and said "Can't you leave your father alone?" Wilhelmina fidgeted about and stuck her head first on one side, then on the other and pouted. I thought she looked idiotic and couldn't help making a grimace at her. When she turned her back on me with an offended air, little Aunt Justina and I looked at each other and laughed. It was awfully amusing sitting there watching the people. The café was crowded and more kept coming and a lot were walking up and down; ladies, some of them lovely, with diamond earrings flashing in their ears and shawls on and officers with swords and top-boots and spurs and long blue cloaks, frightfully swagger chaps. I didn't mind how long we sat there but Wilhelmina kept on fidgeting. First she turned one way, then she turned another, then she moved her chair and almost knocked a little boy, who was sitting next her with his mother, off his and had to apologise. She was quiet for a few minutes after that but she soon began again. I couldn't think what on earth was the matter and I was just going to ask her when Uncle Caesar called the waiter and paid the bill and got up. We were walking towards the hotel down a narrow street with very high houses and hardly any lamps. Wilhelmina was walking behind with me and kept on turning round so I turned round too to see what she was looking at. I couldn't see anything to get excited about but some distance behind us, I thought I saw one of those officers in his blue cloak. I took hold of Wilhelmina's arm and asked her in a whisper because I didn't want Uncle Ceesar to hear, whether that was what she was going on like that about, but she pulled away and rushed up to her father and seized his arm and shrieked in German "There he is, he's following me. I'm frightened. I'm frightened." Uncle Caesar turned round and, though I don't think he saw anything although he wears eyeglasses because he's so shortsighted, he rushed down the street, brandishing his stick with Wilhelmina clinging on to the same arm and Aunt Justina hanging on to the other. I scuttled on past them as hard as I could although I didn't know in the least what I'd do especially if the chap pulled out his sword. Luckily, though I went to the end of the street I couldn't see a sign of him and turned back but Uncle Caesar went on towards the cafe still brandishing his stick and those two still clinging to his arms. What exactly happened when he got there I don't know because he made me stay with Aunt Justina and Wilhelmina while he went on. But I saw him talking and shaking his stick at several officers who were sitting at a table and it was quite a time before he came back with one of them. He was an enormous chap with a glass in his eye and he bowed and saluted and saluted and bowed and little Aunt Justina bowed and Wilhelmina bowed and I bowed while Uncle Caesar stood up very straight a little way off with his black cloak thrown over one shoulder and his stick under his arm and his large soft hat pulled right down over his eyeglasses. Then we all went back to the hotel to bed.
The governor gave me some Italian money but half of it went on a straw hat in Milan and what with ices for Wilhelmina and me and boats on Lake Como and those Verona donkeys, it had all gone by the time we got to Stresa. I never knew such a fool as Wilhelmina. She always wanted to do everything I did but when there was the slightest danger of a row, she backed out and what is worse she began pie-jawing. I suppose most girls are like that. Sissy certainly is but not Ada. I took her out on the lake three mornings running and I told her the first morning I hadn't any money and that I should have to sell my gold cuff-links so as to pay Antonio before the governor arrived. But as soon as I asked her to help me to find someone to sell them to, she said her dear Uncle Wilhelm would be very angry with her if she helped me to sell the beautiful birthday present my dear mamma had given me. So I let her go back to the hotel and I soon found the little jeweller's shop without her and the chap bought them at once. I might have known she'd sneak to Uncle Caesar. He began by asking me how much the jeweller had given me and when I told him, he wanted to know why I didn't tell him I needed some money. I didn't like to say it was because I knew he hadn't got much and I was pretty sure he wouldn't ask the governor for it back so I simply said I didn't see why I shouldn't sell those rotten gold links as I had the other pair of silver ones I got for a prize at the lawn tennis tournament. I liked them much better beause they went into my cuffs easier. He said there wasn't the slightest harm in selling them, he'd probably have done the same in my place but the chap had only given me about a quarter what they were worth. I said I didn't care, all the better for him, I'd paid the boatman and I'd got a good lot over and all I cared about was that the governor shouldn't know anything about it. Uncle Caesar said that was where he didn't agree with me, I ought to have the courage of my acts. I said that was all very well, so I had with everyone except the governor. Why not with him? Because that was just the sort of thing that the governor would make the most awful fuss about, the only way to have any peace was to keep him in the dark as much as I could. Mother was different, but I never should be able to get on with the governor. He said I was wronging my father, I didn't know what a good and kind and generous man he was. I said he might be to other people, he wasn't to me and I didn't think I even wanted him to be. Uncle Caesar said he was very sorry to hear me talk like that of my father. He asked me if I knew the Fifth Commandment about honouring my father and mother that my days might be long in the land and I said so far all my life he'd never done anything to make me honour him. After that Uncle Caesar gave it up but I could see he was upset about it.
The governor turned up that afternoon. He was quite decent for a wonder and though he rolled his eyes at me now and then he didn't nag at me during a long drive we took afterwards. I must say he didn't get much chance because I sat on the box and they were all inside.
In the evening, after dinner, I was going down to the lake when I saw the governor at the other side of the drive in front of the hotel walking up and down talking to a stout gentleman and a young lady with a long black veil on. I wasn't sure but I believed she was the very young lady who came into the jeweller's shop just as I sold the links. Now it's a most extraordinary thing but whatever I do, somehow or other the governor finds it out. I went for a little row and when I got back all of them were sitting having lemonade in the hall. When the governor saw me he made me a sign to come over to them and said "Comte Girard is a very old friend of mine, Richard, and this is Mademoiselle Adrienne Girard." They were French but they spoke English almost like English people. The count said I must come over and pay them a visit while I was at Vevey as he had a villa at Evian and his daughter said her brother was about my age and would be so pleased as he loved English people. She was very pretty and looked awfully nice but I felt a fool because I believed she knew about those confounded links and the governor was sure to have said something to make me look small.
In a few minutes they got up and said good-bye as they were going away by a night train and presently we all went upstairs.
After I'd got undressed and was just going to bed, somebody knocked on the door. It was a waiter and he handed me a little parcel. Inside it were those blessed links and a card "with best wishes from Comte and Mademoiselle Adrienne Girard."
I hardly knew what to make of it. The next day the governor and I drove off across the Simplon and it was only a long time afterwards I discovered he'd arranged the whole thing.
I don't think I ever had that feeling of being perfectly happy before so strongly as when M'Grath shut the little gate of the garden and we walked down the street together. It might have been the smell of the laburnums that started it because I know I was thinking of Longshades and Craythorne garden at the same time but that wouldn't have been enough. Of course it was a perfect day and at the corner of the street a man was pouring a lot of stuff out of a barrel in a cart that M'Grath said was wine and a pretty little girl was patting the horse and that made me think of the old cabby the morning after I bolted from Olive but that certainly wasn't a particularly happy thing to think about. Besides I kept on getting happier and when M'Grath said something, I couldn't understand at first, I was like in a dream. I couldn't explain when he stared at me and I felt rather a fool. He'd been asking if I minded going to the hairdresser's (he said coiffeur) with him. Of course I was delighted, I didn't mind where I went with anyone so nice as he was. Here was a chap at least twenty years old, perhaps more, beautifully dressed and evidently able to do whatever he liked and yet he treated me as though I was his equal. He wore a straw hat but I'd seen his hair when he came into Madame Jaquelin's salon and she introduced him to the governor. It was reddish and curly and was parted in the middle and he had a little moustache and very nice teeth; his face was rather like a cat's. He was short and rather square and he had on a thin grey suit and a lavender-coloured shirt and what surprised me, pumps and black silk socks with flowers embroidered over the instep and he carried a little Japanese fan and fanned himself now and then. I felt rough and clumsy beside him in my grey flannel suit and thick-soled shoes. And when he pulled out a beautiful silver cigarette case with a crest and motto enamelled on it and said "Have an Opera Puff?" I thought he was the nicest chap I'd ever known in my life. I'd never smoked a cigarette anywhere I could be seen before but I don't think he noticed that because I'd often practised in certain places. As we strolled along, he told me he wasn't a pupil at Jaquelin's, he was a pensionnaire and spent his time painting and playing the piano but of course he read a lot of French novels and conversed with Madame Jaquelin whom he called "Louise." He said she was a dear and I must be charming to her as old Paul did whatever she told him. I said, of course I would but what could I do and he said, be very polite and buy her a few flowers now and then or a little package of marrons glacés, he'd show me where to go presently. He asked me if I was fond of the Arts and when I said I really didn't know, he didn't look as though he thought I was a fool but told me he wrote poetry and he would read some of it to me if I liked. I told him that was awfully nice of him and he smiled at me and took me into a pastry-cook's where we had delicious coffee and cakes. He wouldn't let me pay and said I must always let him pay for me but I said I couldn't do that. I must say I rather admired him and I made up my mind to buy a pair of pumps. He says they're so cool and easy to put on and in bad weather he wears button boots and if it's very bad, goloshes.
He went to the coiffeur. His name is Dupont and M'Grath introduced me to Madame Dupont and said something to her in French I didn't catch but I knew it was about me from the way she laughed and looked at me with her dark eyes. I was too shy to talk to her, especially in French, in fact I scarcely dared look at her. I have been getting worse and worse about that lately, I wish I could get over it because I admire Madame Dupont. Monsieur Dupont paid great attention to M'Grath and powdered his face when he'd finished shaving him and squirted some smelly stuff on his head and curled his moustache up at the tips. All the time M'Grath chatted with him in French and I sat watching and wishing I could be shaved. When it was all over, he bought some soap and scent from Madame Dupont and when we went out I asked him to let me carry his parcels and he said I was charming and gave me the smallest one, putting the string over my finger himself for fear I should drop it.
All the time somewhere underneath I was saying to myself, had the governor any idea it was going to be like this, it was so different to what I had expected and I made up my mind to be as nice as I possibly could to show my gratitude. So though I was hoping M'Grath would propose a stroll under the trees by the lake, or what I should have liked best a row upon the lake, when he asked me if I didn't think it was very hot and if I liked he would play to me in Madame Jaquelin's salon which was delightfully cool, I said yes at once and we strolled back to the Villa Printanniere. At the garden gate he picked some jasmine and put a sprig in his button-hole and handed one to me. I don't really like the scent of jasmine, it's too strong, but I pretended I did to please him.
As we went up a flight of wooden steps to the verandah I saw a young chap about my age in a pair of rather dirty white flannel trousers with a cap on, sitting on a seat in the garden doing something with a stick in a bottle. He looked up and stared at me and then went on stirring with the stick but M'Grath took no notice of him and knocked on a door. It was Madame Jaquelin's salon; against the wall there was a piano. He said the fellow outside was Coward, he was a rough cad and those were maggots in the bottle, ugh! disgusting and held up both his hands. They were very small and white and he wore two rings that sparkled. He said he wouldn't play "classics," something light and easy, did I like Strauss? He didn't wait for an answer but started playing Wienerblut with a great deal of expression, I thought, and he kept the loud pedal down all the time. After he'd played Künstlerleben and Schöne blaue Donau the door opened a little and Madame Jaquelin looked in. He jumped up and pulled her into the room while she pretended not to want to. I couldn't understand what she said but I could see she liked him very much and she smiled at me too. She had yellowish hair and her teeth stuck out rather and she had on a hat covered with flowers and she was very thin, scraggy in fact, and I wondered how old she was. She had a fold all round her mouth and she wore those kid elastic-sided boots, but she smelt awfully nice and she had a basket full of delicious black cherries. M'Grath popped his hand in and stole one and held it up in front of her face and she wagged her finger at him and said "méchant," a word I happened to know. Her fingers were very long, like claws. She said things to me in French which M'Grath translated, that she hoped I should be happy there and not cause her pain like Howker and Coward did. They were terrible, she never knew what they were going to do next. That afternoon Howker had put the little Favre in the pond, that gentle child. He came in soaked to the skin and crying and she'd had to put him to bed. M'Grath said it was disgraceful but I couldn't help wondering what Howker was like and why he had put the gentle Favre in the pond.
Afterwards M'Grath showed me his studio. It was an old coach-house on the opposite side of the street at the back of the Villa Printannière. It was hung about with bits of material and odds and ends of pots of different colours. There was what he called a divan with a lot of cushions on it and easels and prints and several pictures but none of them seemed to be finished. One was evidently meant for Madame Jaquelin, another was of a mountain covered with snow and a third was of a chalet with a waterfall. To be able to do anything like a picture always seems to me wonderful and when I told him so, he seemed pleased. He said he would do a portrait of me some time and put his head on one side and closed one of his eyes and looked at me with such a curious expression that I felt uncomfortable.
Then he pulled out his watch which he wore in a little pocket in the top of his trousers with a lot of seals dangling from it and said he expected I'd like to put my things tidy, it would be supper-time in an hour. I hadn't thought about my things. There were precious few of them and they wouldn't take more than five minutes to unpack but when I started to go he touched my arm and said "I advise you to keep Howker and Coward at a distance, one must never let cads get familiar, you know." I said "Thanks awfully, I'll look out" because I didn't know what else to say. All the same I wanted to see what sort of chaps they were. Although M'Grath had been so awfully nice to me and I couldn't help liking him, I somehow didn't feel as though we could become regular chums. For one thing he couldn't be less than four years older than me but besides that what I couldn't help thinking was that if I didn't behave and talk in a particular way he would chuck me. That meant that I should never be able to say and do whatever came into my head and that's exactly what I like most. As I went up the stairs to my room, I heard somebody say "That new chap's palling with M'Grath, he must be a ninny." If it hadn't been for what M'Grath had said, I'd have jolly well routed those fellows out to show them the sort of ninny I was but there wasn't any hurry. I wasn't at all sure I knew what M'Grath meant by a cad. At Olive we called people we didn't like cads. If a chap bagged your braces or your sweater you called him a cad but it mightn't mean anything as he might be a ripping good sort.
I dragged my portmanteau across the floor and unstrapped it but I couldn't find the key anywhere. The governor made me lock it up, I never do as a rule, I never can see the use and of course I'd lost the beastly key. I began swearing like one o'clock and in came a huge lanky chap with black hair sticking straight up off his forehead and the most sloping shoulders I'd ever seen. He must have been over six foot. We stood there grinning at each other and I told him I'd lost the key. He said "Let's have a look" and went down on his knees and turned the bally thing over first one way then another as though he was looking for a hole in it. Then he said he'd fix it and went out of the room. Presently he came back with a screw-driver and a hammer and after one or two whacks it flew open and, as I'd packed it jolly full, a whole lot of things scattered all over the place. While I picked them up he sat down on the bed and watched me. He said his name was Howker and he'd been to Harrow, he and Coward were the only two English at Jaquelin's and Coward was a bit slow but a real good chap if you gave him time. He said he didn't count M'Grath, he was a little stinker. I said he'd been awfully nice to me, what was wrong with him. He said I should see, he was a swab. I asked him what I was supposed to wear at supper. He said any old thing and that old Paul never washed his hands or his feet either for that matter and that Louise, that's Madame Jaquelin, sparred with him but he didn't care, he was a good old sort. While he was talking the other chap Coward came in. He looked about seventeen too but he was short and thick-set and his hair was plastered down on his head. He had very light eyes and his mouth was half open but he looked a good-natured sort of cove. I got up and shook hands with him. They stopped in my room while I washed my face and hands and brushed my hair and Howker wanted to know what I thought of M'Grath's pumps. I suppose the right thing would have been to say "Look here, Howker, I can't allow you to talk against a fellow who's been so decent to me" but instead of that I sniggered and began thinking pumps were rather ridiculous. So they are when you come to think about it. Howker went on about M'Grath's boots buttoning half-way up his calf and the buttons being all close together and the toes pointed like a pin. He asked Coward if it wasn't true but Coward didn't say anything, he only grinned. I didn't like this running M'Grath down but I didn't defend him. After all I didn't know anything about him, it wasn't as though he'd been a chum. But I changed the subject and asked how many hours' grind we did. Howker said there was French dictation from nine till ten-thirty with old Paul, sometimes comptabilité et commerce afterwards. After that the under-master, called Cuénod, took the history and economic geography class but they made a row so as to get him into a bait and when it was hot they bathed. In the afternoons they cleared out and took boats or sailed or played tennis at the Hôtel des Alpes. In the evening they were supposed to do French literature with old Louise but they were never there and she'd pretty well given them up. I said "Then we only do about a couple of hours really?" and Coward began "Except" but Howker broke in and said "He means except when we go for excursions or fish." He said old Paul loved excursions in the mountains but there's one thing, they always talked French at meals and when he was about. I was very surprised they could talk French but Howker said one picked it up and as long as one did that, one's people would be satisfied, at least his and Coward's would, because they couldn't speak a word themselves. Old Paul knew that and so long as they did dictation and talked French he didn't much care. "But we won't have Cuenod, will we, Coward?" he said but Coward didn't answer, he only blinked.
A bell rang and the three of us went downstairs into a long narrow room with a table down the middle, spread for supper. There were delicious-looking rolls at each place and several decanters of red wine. Monsieur and Madame Jaquelin were already sitting in their places and she had on a grey silk dress. In front of him was a large tureen and a pile of soup-plates. Madame Jaquelin didn't take any notice of Howker and Coward but she smiled at me and gave me a place beside her and away from them. Gradually the table filled up, but all the rest were foreigners. Only French was spoken and I could scarcely understand a word except when Howker spoke. I could follow what he said all right. M'Grath did not turn up, Madame Jaquelin said he had been invited out. I was rather glad as I was uncomfortable about what I should do between him and the others, I wanted time to think it over. I should have liked to keep in with both sides, but if that wasn't possible, I had not yet made up my mind which to choose. After supper, Monsieur Jaquelin invited me into his study and showed me photographs of mountain trips he had done with "mes enfants" meaning the boys. Howker and Coward strolled in while he was showing them to me and made themselves perfectly at home. He was quite different from any masters I had known. They didn't seem to mind what they said to him and he was awfully jolly and good-natured with them. When we went up to bed, Howker came into my room again and asked me if I didn't think Paul was a good old sort. He said, one didn't like to ramp too much. It was when M'Grath sneaked to Louise that there was trouble. He said "You see we've got a dodge for getting out." I asked him how and he said just below my window there was the roof of the verandah. The window was open and he bent out and pointed down. He said my room was just over M'Grath's and you walked along to the first pillar and slid down, it was as easy as pot. I asked what they did when they got out and he said they went to the Café du Lac and smoked and played billiards. Sometimes when there was a moon they fished. They landed a large ferras last time, trolling, it weighed twelve pounds. But it was too late in the year now. They jolly near got caught too. It was six when they got back and old Paul was about. They saw the old chap mooching round in his night-shirt, his room was at the end. But the real risk was M'Grath hearing them getting out as he'd split on them like a shot, beastly little rotter.
This was exciting and when Howker left me and I got into bed, I lay awake a long time thinking about the ripping things there were to do. All the same I couldn't make up my mind what to do about M'Grath and I felt rather a brute.
Dictation the next morning was rather a joke. Of course I made no end of mistakes. Old Jaquelin read a piece out of a paper and, when he'd finished, he distributed dictionaries and gave us each other's papers to correct. After the dictation we had a few minutes off till Cuénod took us in geography or something.
The schoolrooms were at the end of the garden and, as soon as old Jaquelin had disappeared into the house, Howker came up to me and said "Let's do a bunk. It's just the day for a bathe." In another minute he, Coward and I were a hundred yards down the road. We went by the market first and bought cherries from an old woman under a red umbrella, a kilo bag each for about sixpence, big juicy whitehearts. We ate them as we strolled along, spitting out the stones.
It was a jolly little town with one long narrow street. Howker showed me the cafe where they played billiards and we stopped at a tobacconist's called Rigassi, with whom they were chummy. He had a black beard and they joked a lot. Howker smoked a pipe as well as cigarettes. I bought a pipe and tobacco though I had never smoked one. Then we went on to the baths which were quite at the end of the town.
There was a long wooden stage, with level diving-boards and a high-dive platform. I was awfully fond of diving. We took off our clothes and sat in the sun eating cherries. The water was as clear as crystal and there was just a little ripple in it. Great mountains rose out of the lake and miles away at the end was one Howker said was the Dent du Midi all misty and the top covered with snow. All up our side were vines. Howker and Coward had finished their cherries and had dived in. I was just going to follow them and was sunning myself at the end of one of the low diving-boards, when who should I see coming along but M'Grath. He had a little net-bag in his hand and inside it there was a towel neatly folded and a hair-brush.
I jumped up and went towards him. He waited till I got quite close to him, looked straight at me for a moment and without saying a word, went into a bathing cabin and slammed the door in my face.
I said nothing to Howker and Coward about the way M'Grath had treated me and pretended not to notice it but underneath I felt small although I knew I oughtn't to as I had done nothing to deserve it. I got on well with Howker and Coward and for some time, especially at first while everything was new to me, I enjoyed things with them too much to think about M'Grath. It was a beautiful spring and every day there was something for us three to do and we always bathed at least once. Howker told me that he and Coward weren't at all keen on old Paul's walking excursions before but we all three thought the cream at the cowherd's chalet on the Rochers de Naye worth the sweat of the climb. After it got hot, what we liked doing best was to take one of Legeret's roomiest boats and paddle into Latour Harbour, make fast in the shade and smoke and read. At least I read more or less, the others smoked and went to sleep. The old harbour and tower half covered with ivy were very peaceful and a good part of the time I was lying on the cushions in the bottom of the boat watching the swallows skim an inch or two above the water and waiting for the two kingfishers to flash out from under the little bridge where the stream flowed in.
I was surprised how quickly I got to talk French. I think I learnt most of it from Howker because he spoke so badly. I could understand everything he said. Madame Jaquelin started me reading Dumas and Hugo and all at once I found myself reading Monte Cristo of my own accord. One afternoon a good bise sprang up while we were at Latour and Howker was so riled with me for wanting to go on reading Les Misérables instead of sailing that he turned the boat turtle and there we all three were, floundering about in our flannels and all our tobacco and my book at the bottom of the harbour. I pretended to think it a joke but I didn't really and I got rather sick of them. Anyhow I began getting away from them. It wasn't difficult because all I had to do was to go to Cuénod's class for about two mornings. Of course, as I knew they would, being fools, they said I was a swat, at least Howker did. Coward only wagged his head. After that, they went their way and I went mine.
Still, I began to feel rather lonely after a while, I couldn't do nothing but read and I was seriously thinking of making up to M'Grath again. I'd got into the habit of going up to the terrace of St. Martin's and sitting there under the trees and reading. The old church was right up above Vevey and there was a fine view over the lake. I had it pretty nearly to myself and in that boiling hot weather it was cooler there than anywhere. One morning I was reading Fromont Jeune et Risler Ainé and someone sat down on the seat beside me. It was the artist Somerville who spoke to me at the Café du Lac. He didn't say how d'you do or anything but began talking about English and French literature. I can't remember what he said except that the English novelists had no style and that most of them were illiterate. Afterwards he took me to his studio close by, a long room with a window at the end opening on to a sort of garden. It was full of pictures, most of them of women without any clothes on. He said that those damned Calvinist Swiss were such prudes they wouldn't sit for him but there was a girl he'd got his eye on at Territet and if I liked, he'd show her to me that afternoon if I met him at the three o'clock boat. I said I should like to come awfully and he gave me a book called Sappho and told me to read it after I'd finished Fromont Jeune.
When we got to Territet an orchestra was playing at the end of the arcade near the café and there were tables outside. We sat down at one and a waitress came up to us dressed like a Swiss peasant in a black velvet jacket with silver chains in front and short white sleeves and she put her head down to hear something he whispered in her ear. When the girl went away I saw a fat man with bushy whiskers, sitting in a corner smoking a big pipe near the entrance to the café, sign to her and she stood there with her tray in her hand speaking to him. Somerville said that was the girl and the fat man was the boss. He said he'd been trying to get her to sit for some time. If he cared enough about the girl it wouldn't be difficult but he didn't want her on his hands, he'd tried to get her a job at Vevey but there wasn't anything. He asked me what I thought of her now I saw her and I told him I thought she was awfully pretty. He said she wasn't but he'd like to make love to her all the same if he weren't too old to take the trouble; it had been different once but nowadays he liked the easy kind. He said it was wonderful to have one's life before one like me, he didn't suppose I'd ever made love to a girl. I told him I hadn't and he said I didn't know what was the best thing in life and it was high time I began. Why didn't I begin on this one, very likely she'd be more generous to me than to him. I didn't know what he meant exactly but while we sat there listening to the music, I made up my mind to speak to her if I got the chance although I hadn't the least idea how to set about it. After a time he said he was going to take the boat to Montreux and have a gamble at the Casino and we walked down to the débarcadère. All the way I was asking myself whether I wouldn't go back and try to talk to the girl. The more I thought about her, the more I wanted to. I thought he had been egging me on but all the same what he said made me want to go back and when the steamer came along I said good-bye and went.
But although I'd made up my mind, when I got near the café, I got frightened and when I was almost at the entrance door I turned round and walked away. I did that several times and the last time I saw that old chap with the whiskers sitting smoking his pipe inside near a high desk where an old woman was writing. Then I walked round to the other entrance of the café on the street and I saw the girl looking through the large window. She smiled at me and my heart almost jumped into my mouth but I went in although I was trembling all over. There was nobody at that end of the café and there was a large round pillar in the middle that hid me from the old chap with the pipe. She came up to me and I said I'd like to have something to eat there and she brought me a list of dishes and stood close to me. I didn't know what to say to her; I was trying to think but nothing at all came into my head and all the time I was trying to look at the list and see what I'd have. My eye caught a German name and I read out loud "Kalbskotelette mit Kartoffel salat." Then she said "Ach, Sie sind Deutsch." I told her I wasn't but she said I spoke just like a German and she was from German-Switzerland.
I asked her if the fat old man would mind my talking to her and she laughed and said in German "On the contrary, I must take care of the guests." Gradually I got less shy and told her I really had come back only to talk to her because I thought she was so pretty and she looked so nice. She blushed and said "Ach was! You're teasing me" and went off to get my food. While she was gone I began wondering what I should do. The last boat to Vevey left at seven and it was already past six. As it was it would get me in too late for supper and if I missed that boat there was only one train at eight. I wasn't frightened of old Paul but I must have some excuse for being so late. When she came back with my cutlets I told her I ought to take the boat but if I could go on talking to her I would wait for the train. She said she couldn't talk to me much until after she had given the old man and his wife their supper but after that she would hurry over hers and very few people came in the evening so she would bring her work and sit down by me. She brought me Fliegende Blätter and said she must go and lay the table for them. Every now and then she came to see if I wanted anything until I finished eating but afterwards I waited and waited and kept looking at the time but she didn't come until I had only just time to catch the train. I asked her to tell me quick how much I owed as I must run. She said she must get a bill and she was so long before she brought it that I couldn't catch the train if I ran the whole way. So there I was and it was no use worrying. I told her the fix I was in. I'd never been to an hotel by myself and felt uncomfortable about having no things with me and being stared at by the porter and waiters. I said if only I could stay there all night I could take the boat in the morning. She said "Warten Sie" and took the bill and the money I'd given her for it. It was some time before she came back and when she did, she brought a bundle of work and sat down by me and began sewing. She didn't say anything at first and I asked her if it wouldn't be possible for me to stay there. She looked at me then and repeated "Stay here? With me?" and I nodded but I didn't mean that. What I really meant was that I should have liked to sleep somewhere or other, even on the seat we were sitting on, if she gave me a pillow and a rug, rather than go to an hotel. But she thought I meant in her room and went on to say she would let me but I must never tell anyone and I must do exactly what she told me. I must follow her out when she made a sign and go softly up the stairs after her and hide in the room where she showed me as the old witch always looked into her room but they slept at the other side of the house and it would be all right once they had gone to bed. I didn't know what to say. I was excited at the idea of being in her room but I was frightened and I was too taken by surprise to think much. So I talked about something else and Wilhelmina came into my head and I told her about the Italian officer at Verona. Magda, that was her name, looked at me again and asked me if I had ever slept in Wilhelmina's room and I told her, never, I'd never slept in a girl's room in my life, I'd never thought of such a thing, but I didn't say I hadn't even thought of sleeping in hers until she told me I could. But I said it was awfully kind of her to let me and that I liked her better than any girl I had ever known. She said she liked me too, that I was a dear boy and that we must see each other often. After a little while she told me I must look out as it was time for her to take me up and she went across the room and I saw her bring the old couple two glasses of beer. Then she came to my side of the pillar and signed to me and I followed her out of the door to the right and up the stairs. Her room was down a dark passage and she took my hand and guided me into it without saying a word. My heart was beating like anything, I could see nothing except a little light through the blind in a very small window. She put her hand on my waist and pushed me under a curtain amongst a lot of clothes and whispered "Keep very still till I come" and went away. The stuffy smell of the clothes was beastly and it seemed a long time, but I don't suppose it was, till I heard steps and someone opened the door and I could see whoever it was had a light. I hardly dared to breathe but it was only a second and in another minute or two Magda came in with a candle and shut the door and pulled the curtain away and I saw where I was. It was a little room with a large bed and the place where I'd been hiding was in the corner. She whispered I was to undress while she went downstairs and tidied up and I did as she told me and was in bed when she came up again. She sat down on the bed and kissed me and I kissed her. I didn't much mind kissing her at the beginning because she was such a good sort. Then she began undressing and I turned on the other side so as not to see her. It reminded me of when I was a tiny kid. I remembered how if ever I was awake when Nanny undressed I always turned over not to see her. I even smelt that same smell when Magda took off her dress. It's a particular smell their white petticoats and things have and I hate it. Mother's smell is delicious, I always want to kiss her neck and her back when she's dressing or in bed in the morning. Another thing I don't like is when they mess about with their hair and the hairpins drop. Magda did hers in two long plaits and then she got into bed and put her arms round my neck and kissed me over and over again. I'd have given anything to be back in my own bed at the Villa Printannière.
I don't want to think about that night more than I can help. I'd like to forget it. I hope I shall never see Magda and I'll take good care not to get caught like that again. The whole idea of sleeping in the same bed with a girl is beastly but it's much worse if you hardly know her and she will keep kissing you and you have to keep kissing her when you don't want to and you are longing to go to sleep. Of course if you're married, it's different because you choose your wife and you fall in love with her first and then you get accustomed to each other and being in the same room. Besides you can have two beds like mother and the governor. I shall never forget how glad I was to have that dip in the lake at Vevey. I felt I couldn't see old Jaquelin and Madame Jaquelin until I'd washed away the smell of her skin and her bed. They were in an awful state about my being out all night but I told them what Uncle Fred called a cock-and-bull story about having gone to see Mrs Selliger at Glion and they forgave me and made me promise not to let it happen again. I only hope they'll never see Mrs Selliger.
About the end of July I got a letter from mother telling me she was going to Switzerland to meet Mrs Selliger and she would pass by Vevey and stay a couple of nights. It was a great surprise. I had never had mother entirely to myself before and I don't know how I waited until the day came. When the train came in and I saw her through the window I couldn't believe it was true. Mother's grey poodle Curly jumped out of the carriage first and barked and wagged his tail and there she was, getting out of the carriage and there was John helping her and Ferris behind getting out her bags. It was only when I kissed her dear face and my lips touched her skin under her veil and I smelt her scent again that I realised she was there. I thought she looked lovelier than ever. It was as much as I could do to leave go of her arm while she shook hands with Monsieur and Madame Jaquelin. Then we drove off to the Trois Couronnes and Curly jumped up and barked at the horses' noses just as he did at the cobs' at home. Old Schott came out to the front of the hotel with white gloves on and bowed to mother as though she were a queen and took her up to a big salon on the first floor. The windows were open to the balcony with a green awning for her to sit under and look at the lake and on the table in the middle was a vase full of roses. I was accustomed to people treating mother like that, everyone did, the governor most of all. While I was asking her all about Ada and the baby, they call her Olivia now, the waiter brought tea. It was like a dream sitting with her on the balcony with the beautiful lake stretched out below us and the band playing and people walking about on the terrace underneath. She'd taken her hat off and I saw that her hair was made to look white with powder and was done up high at the back quite differently to when I last saw it. There were two little round pieces of sticking plaster, one under her right eye and the other beside her mouth. One wouldn't have thought she'd been in a train for hours and hours, there wasn't a curl out of place and her face looked just the same as it did when she had finished dressing. While Ferris was getting her things unpacked, mother asked me about Jaquelin's and if I was happy there. I said I was but it's curious that I didn't seem to think so nearly as much as I had before. Her coming seemed to have changed everything. I felt all of a sudden as if everything outside that room had got far away and didn't matter compared with her and as though she had brought with her London and Paris and the people she always had around her. It was almost as if I expected Captain Forrest and Mr Benda to be waiting downstairs or the phaeton to be at the door for her to drive to the Park or Taylor to come for orders or the governor to come in and pinch her cheek and say "How's Poppet?" and first kiss her hand, then her throat. Whatever she did seemed to be important. She sat reading letters that were waiting for her, she always had masses, and I watched her without saying a word. I wouldn't have interrupted her for anything.
John came in with a large leather case full of things that fitted into it for travelling, a small silver tea service, silver and gold boxes with sweets inside, folding silver frames with photographs of the governor and Ada and Baby and one of grandmamma, smelling salts, scent bottles and all kinds of odds and ends to put about the room. And there were cushions and silk covers to go on the arm-chairs and sofas and a white bearskin to put at the side of the bed. Then he brought a large bottle with an india-rubber ball fixed on the top and squashed eau-de-Cologne all over the room while Ferris pulled the sheets and blankets off the bed and put the others on mother always took with her. It seemed perfectly natural she should travel about like a princess, it had always been the same wherever she was. But for the first time I felt as though I had something to do with it. At home I had never counted one way or the other. I suppose it was because now the governor wasn't there and it was as though she was my mother and nobody else's and nobody's wife. It was just us two together so that she and her beautiful clothes and her jewels which always made people stare and Ferris and John all seemed to belong to me. That made me feel very proud but there was another feeling. For a short time I had got something of my own that the governor had nothing to do with and that he couldn't take away and I couldn't help wishing that mother and I could live together without him. But the feeling didn't last because I remember, when I got back to the Villa Printannière and went to bed, I was sorry to have thought of him like that and, if I tell exactly the truth, I asked God to forgive me.
I think when I left Jaquelin's, it was the first time I ever came home without feeling I had to face something unpleasant. It was also the first time I hadn't left behind me something that was unpleasant to think about. My year or more at Vevey had been on the whole the happiest I had ever spent and when the evening before I went away old Paul and I went up together to the terrace of St. Martin's to watch the sun setting over the lake for the last time, as he said, but really because he wanted to say good-bye to me in private, I felt that I was leaving behind me a kind and true friend. I had, for me, been almost studious during the last months. M'Grath, Howker and Coward had left one by one, the boys who took their places were too young to be any use as companions and I only saw them when I went with them for walking excursions on the mountains. I had become what M'Grath said he was, a pensionnaire. This had come of itself; Jaquelin knew quite well that he could do no more for me now that I'd passed the elementary stage. So I had got into being alone a great deal and in a haphazard way I had read a good deal of French and English and had got a notion of history and literature.
I suppose it was my rather solitary life there that made everything seem so strange to me at Ennismore Gardens. I felt like a stranger from the first moment. Except for Mrs "Cliffie" and John and one old housemaid, all the servants were new. Keeling had married Florrie and both had gone, Ferris had got married too and the new butler, Griffiths, called me Mister. I'd always been Master Richard before.
Ada had grown and went to a day school in Queen's Gate but luckily it was Easter holidays so she was at home. Miss Durham was there still but she didn't seem so bad as before and Ada said she didn't mind her. Olivia, who was a darling little fat thing with short curly hair, whispered to me she hated her. I told her one hates governesses and masters less as one grows older but she didn't believe it and begged me to come to the schoolroom as much as I could which I certainly shall. In fact it's the only place in the house I feel I want to sit in though it's not any too cheerful. The house seemed fearfully gloomy after the Villa Printannière, so many velvet hangings and draperies and dark green and gold wall-papers and very thick carpets. It all looked heavy; you don't hear a sound and feel as though you must talk in a whisper. Mother was out when I arrived. The next best thing to seeing her was to go where I could get a feeling of her. So after I'd seen the kids I went down to her boudoir, next to her bedroom. I suppose it wasn't much changed but it looked richer somehow, and darker. There were cream-coloured silk blinds that fell in folds half-way down the windows and some white flowers, I think they were tuberoses, in a tall silver vase, that smelt so strong I could hardly bear the scent. The rugs were thicker than they used to be and there were more gold boxes and scent bottles lying about than ever. I noticed a big photograph, by itself on the bookcase, of a man I'd never seen, standing against a pillar, in evening dress with a band across his shirt and some decorations on the breast of his coat. He had a beard but it was greyer than the governor's and he was stouter and shorter. I wondered who he was. I didn't notice much change in the bedroom except for one thing. There was only one bed and it was put against the wall which was covered with pink silk and there were pink silk curtains all round it. The other side of the bedroom was the bathroom so the governor was on the next floor now. I'd been thinking all the time of mother, longing for her to come, but when I thought of the governor upstairs by himself, I couldn't keep my mind off him and I felt sorry for him, I don't know why. I dare say he's just as happy up there. But I'd always seen his bed by hers and when he got up, he used to arrange it tidily and more than once I'd gone into her room on tiptoe and found her asleep after he had gone to the city and he'd put a rose or a bunch of violets on his pillow for her to see when she woke up. He couldn't do that now.
I went up to see his bedroom and bathroom. His bed was against the wall in the same way, only without any curtains and it was smaller and instead of silk on the wall, there was a large picture of mother with Olivia in her arms when she was a baby and Ada sitting at her feet and me in a sailor suit standing beside her. All round the room were pictures of my grandparents and the aunts and of Uncle Fred and Uncle Theo when they were young. In the bathroom there was a large basin you could almost have had a bath in. I could see the governor shoving his whole curly head and beard in it and blowing like he always did, he loves water. And there were his bottle of Pierre and the huge bottle of eau-de-Cologne with the basket-work round. I expected he'd want me to come in while he dressed that evening and I wanted to. I couldn't remember anything for him to be angry about and it was so long since I'd seen him.
Then I went downstairs and stood about in the hall and waited. Twice the front-door bell rang and the new butler and the two under-footmen went to open but it wasn't mother, I looked through the window before the servants came; it was only people calling and leaving cards. Sir George and Lady Bigham and Lord and Lady Rathbourne; I'd never heard of them. I took up some of the other cards, there was a huge china bowl full of them. A good many were people I knew, like the Mathers, the Furzells, the Alhusens and the Andersens, but a lot of them weren't and I noticed there were ever so many more titles than there used to be. It was past seven and still mother didn't come; the governor would be in first if she didn't arrive in the next few minutes. I wandered into the dining-room. Griffiths and dear old John were putting the silver on the table; there were places laid for a dinner-party. It cheered me up seeing John and after I'd shaken hands I asked him to tell me about everything. He waited till Griffiths had gone out by the door to the pantry, then he went to the other and beckoned to me. "I don't want 'im to 'ear, Master Richard," he said. I put my arm in his and made him come into the hall and asked him what was up. He said nothing was up but Griffiths wasn't Keeling and "'e don't know what I know and I don't mean 'im to." Just as he was going to tell me, the front-door bell rang and I rushed to the window. This time it was mother. She was in the little coupé brougham with Frank driving Archer and Curly following. I thought she seemed tired as she got out of the carriage. She said "How's my boy?" and I kissed her through her veil. She turned to give an order to Frank and told Curly to go to the stable and be brushed. That poodle understands everything and off he went, tail up as usual, after the brougham. Mother looked at the cards of the people who had called and went on upstairs. When she got to her boudoir, the new maid, even prettier than Ferris, came in to take her sealskin coat and muff. There were a lot of letters lying on her writing-table and while she read them I sat on a big hassock at her feet. Most of them were invitation cards which she told me to put in a silver clip on the table where there were a lot of others. The one on the top was from l'Ambassadeur de France et Madame Waddington. Before I'd had time to speak to her, the governor came in, but so softly that I didn't even see he was there until he bent over and kissed her hand and said "How's my Poppet this evening?" I jumped up and we shook hands. I can't make out what made me want to kiss him; I hadn't for years, not since he took mother's photograph away at Clive. It wasn't because of that although I can't forget it but I got out of the way of it and when other fellows told me they never kissed their fathers, I thought it was time I stopped. He put his hand at the back of my head and looked at me. "You look well, Dick, I think your moustache is growing." He laughed slightly as he said that and went on "Let your mother have a look at you." Mother smiled but she didn't look and the governor began asking me about the journey, what time I left Vevey, what the weather was like there and how the crossing was and if the train was punctual. I'd always known him to ask those questions. Then he said "Come along, your mother must dress and so must we." I'd hardly kissed mother and hated leaving her. I bent over her to kiss her but she turned her head so that I only caught her ear and the governor put his hand on my arm and we went out of the room together.
At dinner I was glad to find I was sitting next to Mr Benda as all the guests were strangers to me. He and Uncle Fred came in together so late that I didn't get a chance of saying a word, in fact as I went to say how d'you do to them, I heard mother say "Can't you give up that last rubber when you're dining here, Fred?" and he gave me a nod and wink as he bowed to a handsome lady in a green satin dress covered all over with diamonds. Afterwards I knew she was Mrs Colhoun and that the tall clean-shaved man sitting opposite me was her husband. As soon as I heard him speak I knew he was an American. Mother introduced me before dinner to Mr Frühling who sat on my other side. I recognised him at once from his picture in her boudoir. As I supposed, he wasn't tall and he was rather stout, the same sort of figure as Uncle Fred but he didn't look so jolly and he had a strong foreign accent. His eyes were rather prominent and he had a large nose with his moustache curling up on both sides of it separated from his beard. He was rather fine-looking in a way and made me feel he knew a great deal and that I had to listen to what he said. During dinner he told me he had given mother Curly and that it had taken him over a year to find him. He said grey poodles came from Siberia and Curly had been brought all the way in a basket by his Tartar servant. When I repeated that to Uncle Fred afterwards he said "Pooh! all lies." Mr Frühling also told me that Mr Colhoun was a great friend of his and had built the first railway across the American continent, that he owned thousands of miles of railways and was one of the richest men in the world. I asked Uncle Fred if that was lies too and he said "About three-quarters of it." But Uncle Fred was apt to say things like that when he didn't like people. I thought Mr Frühling rather nice. He asked me all sorts of questions about my life in Switzerland and said he was so sorry he hadn't been able to come to Vevey before he met mother and Mrs Selliger at Lucerne.
The man on the other side of him next to mother was the Honourable Kenneth Arundel. I'd been told he was the nephew of some duke or other and a great swell in society and never went out of London. He was short and thin and spoke in a soft high voice. Mother seemed to be talking most of the time to a very good-looking man with dark wavy hair and very light eyes on the other side of her and as Mr Arundel began a conversation with Mr Frühling I asked Mr Benda who he was. Of course he had to make one of his little jokes "That's Jim the lady-killer" and laugh that jolly thick laugh of his right down in his chest before he told me he was Lord James Stuart and considered the handsomest man in London. He told me that pretty lady between the governor and Uncle Fred was Mrs Sam Lester and that wasn't her husband, it was Colonel Keith. Her husband was an M.P. and they called him "Sober Sam" there because–well–now I knew.
After the ladies had gone the governor introduced me to Mr Colhoun. His first words were "Well, young man, I hear you've been picking up French in Switzerland, what are you going to do next?" I hadn't the slightest idea what to answer but that didn't matter because he didn't wait but went straight on "You should come to America and see what we're doing there. I've been telling your father in another ten years there'll be more miles of railroads in the States than in all Europe put together. D'you know how many miles my syndicate operates? Seven thousand and we're adding another thousand. Call that something? Well now, a bright young fellow like you coming out there with the right people to go to and a father like yours behind him to put up capital, can get right in on the ground floor and grow up with the country. See here, young fellow, by the time you're your father's age you can be a millionaire as easy, as easy as shelling peas. D'you know how I began? I didn't have an old man behind me. I had to light out for myself. D'you know what the West was like when I was your age? Why, from the Alleghanies to the Rockies there wasn't a town as you couldn't have thrown a rock across. St. Louis and Cincinnata weren't more than little frontier settlements. Chicawgo was a straggling village of frame shanties. I've seen herds of buffalo grazing, thousands and thousands of them, not a hundred miles west of it. St. Paul and Minneapolis were little one-horse townships where Indians traded furs for rot-gut whisky. I tell you, I've seen things hum in my life. And they're going to hum some more yet." He lowered his voice. "D'you know what I've come over here for? I came to place fifteen million dollars of bonds of my railroads and Baron Alger and your people have found the money and it's the greatest cinch––"
Uncle Fred came and sat down by us and just as he was going to begin again, the governor got up and all except Uncle Fred and I went up to the drawing-room.
I'd got a chance to talk to him now while he finished his cigar and we went into the library together. Two card-tables had been brought out and on them were packets of cards and a lot of different-coloured counters in boxes. "Um, poker, Dick, poker." Uncle Fred pursed his mouth and nodded his head slowly and said "Um" again. I knew that meant he didn't like "poker" whatever it was.
He asked me if I was glad to get back home again. I told him I was but what were they going to do next with me? He said he didn't know but he believed my father had found a coach in the country. "But what for?" I asked. "What am I going to do? A coach is only another name for a tutor and I can't go to tutors for ever." He shook his head. Did I know what I wanted to do myself? I asked him what was the use of my thinking about it unless I knew I could do it. But, supposing I could, what then? Then I'd like to go to Oxford. "And then?" he asked. That puzzled me. What did one go to Oxford for? I knew some fellows went to the bar but I had no ambition to be a barrister. I told him I supposed I could work for a degree but I hadn't a notion what the object of taking a degree was, what good it did you or anything else. Would I work for it if I did go? I said I thought so. I certainly wasn't a student, but there were things I liked knowing like history and literature. He said that was why my father wanted me to go to a coach. I asked him why I couldn't work with one at home, I was sick of always going away, I never saw mother or the kids or him either. "You don't mention your father, Dick," he said. "Because I don't think he wants to see me. If he did, he wouldn't always be sending me away."
Uncle Fred looked at me a minute, then he threw the butt-end of his cigar into the fire. "Richard, why will you always misunderstand your father? Why will you not believe that whatever he wants you to do, he means it for your good?"
I felt uncomfortable when he said that and didn't know what to answer.
"Look here, Richard, you've just come home. You've seen this dinner-party. When your parents aren't out, it will always be like that. Now I ask you, could you work if all the time this sort of thing was going on? And can you expect to take part in it at your age? Would it he good for you if you did? And you wouldn't like being alone all the time, would you? Ada will soon be going to school again, Olivia has her governess and you couldn't see much of her. Your father goes to the city at half-past nine in the morning. Your mother has engagements all day. Be sensible. You'll be much happier out of it."
As he was speaking, Mrs Lester came into the room with Lord James Stuart and held out her hand to me. "Talking confidences to Uncle Fred?" she tittered and without waiting for an answer went on, "You couldn't have anyone better to tell your love affairs to, could he, Jim?" and tittered again. I thought it was an awfully silly thing to say but Uncle Fred looked quite pleased and she started again, "I'm going to be your sleeping partner to-night, don't forget that, Mr Frederick." Uncle Fred looked at her in a funny way and said "I shan't be likely to forget that invitation, Mrs Lester." As she tittered once more mother came into the room with the others and they all sat down at the card-tables except the governor and Mrs Lester who took a seat behind Uncle Fred. As soon as they started playing, the governor made a sign to me and we went into the billiard-room together.
The governor's billiards was like his tennis. He took a lot of trouble but he hardly ever brought off a good stroke and as I took no trouble at all but occasionally some of my shots came off, we played almost even. We only played fifty up but it took quite a time to finish and I missed a chancy cushion cannon at the last instead of an easy pot-shot at red to let him run out, partly because I wanted to give him the fun of winning and partly because all the time we were playing I knew the game was only a sort of marking time while he made up his mind what he was going to say to me and I wanted to make it easy for him. That was the governor's way. He hated coming to the point but when once he did, it all came out pat like something he'd learnt by heart and I nearly always knew by the words he used to begin with, what was coming afterwards.
We put up our cues and sat down on the leather sofa at the end of the room, under the caribou heads Walter Hawke said he'd shot. Then the governor lit a cigarette and began.
"You perhaps don't know, Richard, that your cousins Alfred and Edward Ritter are now at Balliol College where they are studying for the bar." I always particularly disliked my cousins Alfred and Edward whom I considered priggish duffers. The governor used to take me now and then to see their mother whom I called Cousin Matilda on Sunday afternoons, a visit I loathed. "They were prepared for their matriculation which I understand is more severe at Balliol than at any other college at Oxford by a former fellow of that college who is now rector of Collingham in Northamptonshire. He has a vacancy for a pupil and I have arranged for you to go there. Mr Lynn tells me that as your name is not down at present for any college, the best plan will be for you to read for the first university examination as this entitles you to enter most of the colleges without matriculating. Meanwhile I shall make inquiries as to which college seems most suitable for you to go to. I hope these arrangements please you?"
While he was reeling all this off he never looked at me and I was glad he didn't, but I had to say something. To begin with I thoroughly distrusted any coach those sapping cousins of mine went to. Oxford was too far away for me to think about, I might never pass that examination, and meanwhile I might be stuck with a beast like Pellew again. But what was I to say?
"Well?" he said.
"Well" (I couldn't bring myself to call him governor, it seemed cheeky, I'd never called him pater to his face and I'd got out of the way of saying papa, so I called him nothing), "I'm awfully sick of tutors, you know."
"But I thought you were so happy with Monsieur Jaquelin."
"So I was but he's an exception. Besides he's an old man and he isn't really a tutor at all, I mean not like an English one. I was practically free there."
"Yes, I don't suppose you worked much. By the way, Richard, don't run off with the idea you know French. The letters you wrote me weren't French at all; I mean, they weren't the letters an educated young Frenchman would write."
I knew that. "You don't expect me to write French like you do, do you? I never shall."
"There's no reason you shouldn't, it only involves application. When I was a boy, I worked because I knew I had to make my own way in the world. I've told you again and again you'll have to."
That was where the governor always went wrong. Did he take me for a born idiot? Couldn't any fool see he was rolling in money? His saying that made me sigh, it was so stale.
"There's nothing to sigh about. It's good for a young man to make his own living, it's discipline, and if one knows that before one can spend, one must earn, one is less luxurious and self-indulgent."
What did he go on like that for? I knew he wasn't luxurious but what about mother, what about the way they lived?
"But that's another question. You said Monsieur Jaquelin was old. So, I fear, is Mr Lynn. He must be nearly seventy. I want you to understand that he's a most distinguished scholar, a gentleman whom it's a privilege for you to live and learn with. You're past schoolboy age now and you can't be forced to work. You are intelligent enough but hitherto you have shown a complete lack of industry. I am satisfied that if you apply yourself, under Mr Lynn's guidance, you can easily pass this preliminary examination. Your future depends on yourself."
When the governor talked like that, which he'd done ever since I could remember, I had always felt the same. Everything he said was true and perfectly reasonable. As he put it, there wasn't another side. But somewhere in me I couldn't help feeling there was. If I could only have talked to him, I should have said "Look here, father, I don't want to humbug you, I want you to know what I feel and what I think. I'm not the working kind, I don't like work for work's sake. I don't like books unless I can find something in them that interests me. There are books I like and books I don't like. That doesn't mean I like nothing but rubbish but it does mean that I don't like most of the sort of books schoolmasters and professors like. I think Oxford's probably the best thing I can do. But don't expect me to be a scholar and pass examinations with honours and all that sort of thing because I shan't and the reason I shan't is because I don't want to. I don't see the use and the best I shall do is to scrape through a degree and I should only do that to please you. But while I'm at Oxford, perhaps I shall come across someone or other, he might be an undergraduate or he might be a don, who'll have the same sort of ideas as I've got and perhaps he'll know what I'm good for better than I know myself. Anyhow I shall be getting older and I may find a way by myself."
But I couldn't say all this, I couldn't even say a word of it, because the governor looks at things in a totally different way to me. He thinks life means work. I think life only means work if you've got to and the only advantage I can see in being his son instead of, say, Everest's, the old gardener at Craythorne, is that I needn't work for my living, I needn't hurry, I can take my time and find out gradually what I'm good for. All I did say was "All right, papa" (the papa crept out), "when am I to go?" and all he said was "You're a funny chap, Richard. You don't seem pleased" and as we went back to the library "I'll talk it over with your mother."
They stayed playing cards so late that I said good-night and went off to bed. But I didn't sleep and when I heard mother go to her room, I looked at my watch. It was past two. My room was on the same landing as the governor's and I looked out of my door and saw his was open. Then I thought I'd go downstairs and see what he was doing; I don't know what made me. There was only one light below in the hall but the library door was open and I crept up to it on tiptoe and poked my head round it, very softly. The card-tables had been taken away and everything tidied up and the governor was sitting at his table, writing, with a little teapot and cup beside the blotter.
I'm more inclined to believe in people and to do what they want if I like the things they say, the way they do things and behave. I believe more in mother and it pleases me more to do what she wants than what the governor wants and it isn't only because I have a tender feeling for her I haven't got for him. She seems to make things worth doing and she never fusses about anything. Things seem to go right of themselves and whatever she does has a sort of importance. When she gives an order or writes a letter or pays a call, at the moment each act has a curious kind of interest for me. Mother never interferes. If she sees me reading she doesn't interrupt like the governor and ask me the name of the hook, then if it isn't one she approves of make some disagreeable remark about it. If she asks me a question, she waits to hear the answer and doesn't snap one up and make one feel a fool. The governor does and Uncle Fred is inclined to. I like being left alone. I don't want to interfere with other people and I don't see why other people should interfere with me. My thoughts aren't like the governor's thoughts. How can they be? He's nearly fifty and I'm not eighteen. When I'm his age I may think as he does, I hope I shan't but meanwhile I certainly don't. I may be wrong, probably I am and if so, I want to find it out for myself. I always think the best thing in the Catechism is "Do unto all men as you would they should do unto you" and I try to practise it. When I talk to Ada, I always try to see things as she sees them; I even try to see them as the governor does but it's almost impossible.
The strange thing is that though books can't force you to listen, they have more influence on me than the governor or Uncle Fred. Now that I look back, I'm sure I shouldn't have hated Fräulein Schwind so much if I'd never read Grimm's Fairy Tales and Prince Hempseed, I'm certain I shouldn't have thought so much about Garnett if I hadn't read Eric, I know I shouldn't have run away from Olive if I hadn't read Night and Morning and David Copperfield and I'm not at all sure that the beginning of my not getting on with the governor hadn't something to do with my having read Misunderstood. But it goes much further than that. While I am reading a book that really interests me I seem almost to become the hero of it myself or at all events I see myself like him and copy his ideas and his dress and his way of going on as much as I can. And when I've read one book and taken up another, if I like it, I change characters again or sometimes I'm part of one character with, one person and another character with another person and I'm angry with myself if I can't act as I imagine the character would if he were in my place. Of course that makes me on the look-out for adventure everywhere and I suppose it accounts for my getting depressed when I can't find anything at all to get up an interest in to keep myself going. All I knew about country life before I came here except for the few days at the Grantleys' and what different boys have told me, came out of books. Ever since St. Vincent's I've believed that it must be a finer life than any I've been used to and the summer at Longshades helped to make me think so. At Vevey, Coward whose father was master of a pack of hounds showed me lots of photographs and tried to tell me about it. I couldn't get much out of him but he certainly thought it all wonderful. Howker's father was a wool manufacturer at Bradford but they had a country house and a grouse moor and he hardly talked of anything else except racing; both he and Coward were mad on that. So, though at first I hated the idea, when I got down to Collingham and found that, except for a couple of hours of what Mr Lynn calls "reading" in the morning, he lets me do what I like, I thought to myself that at all events I had got the chance of seeing what country life was like. And now though of course I can't pretend to know everything, I know something and what I know I can't say I much care for. I've been here since Easter and it's getting towards Christmas. During all this time I've not been home. On the whole I've not minded as much as I should have thought. I think it is very odd; it doesn't seem to me natural or fair for a father to keep his son away from home for eight months without hardly seeing him. I don't pretend to understand his reason. Mother came once, before she went to Marienbad, just in time for lunch and then off again. I said nothing about going home and she didn't mention it. I love her just as much as ever but I've learnt how to keep it down. It would have been difficult not to show it while she was here, if it hadn't been for Lord James being with her. I wasn't going to show my feelings before him. He drove her in a brake from Wannacote, fourteen miles. It belongs to bis uncle, Lord Brecon, and be keeps his hunters there. I went over to spend two nights while she was there but I hardly saw her. The house was full of people for the races and when I asked mother if I could come to her bedroom when she went to bed, she told me I'd better not because I might disturb the Empress of Austria who was in the same wing, although the men were in the smoking-room until after two and kicking up enough row to keep everyone awake in the house. Lord James told me he never stayed more than a week in the country, even in Scotland, it bored him stiff, and never more than a night at his uncle's for hunting. But the Brecons hardly ever go to London; they have four or five country places in different parts of England, Scotland and Wales and spend part of the time at each. I can understand that a constant change from one place to another prevents their feeling dull especially if they fill their houses with people all the time. Wannacote is an enormous place with avenues of oaks miles long and I believe they own another larger still. Having estates to look after, being a sort of little king wherever you go, is of course what these people mean by country life.
I know all the people in the village and the farmers. Josiah Aldwinkle's the chief one and one of the old-fashioned kind. He wears a top-hat and a stock and hunts. There's a scamp of a gipsy barber whose name, of course, is Lee and Jim Carter at the Brooke Arms, who's a pugilist, I box with him, and Fred Baines, Mr Brooke's agent and Tom Wood the huntsman. I can understand their saying the country is the only place to live in because they earn their living there and theirs is certainly pleasanter than anything they could do in London, just as I can understand Dick Bürge liking to farm better than to be stuck in an office. But what I can't understand is the Mount Desart girls saying they wouldn't live in town for anything. They seem to me to be bored to death. I wonder if it's sour grapes though I know they look down on people who haven't got country places. Old Lynn in his quiet way is the same. One day at lunch he remarked that no one can be in society who doesn't belong to a territorial family. I told him that put my people out and though he said he was referring to a particular kind of society, I knew he meant the only good kind. It brought St. Vincent's back to me again. If an old gentleman can say that, no wonder boys like Lopez and Ellerby and Hames put on airs because their fathers have got estates. All the same I'm afraid that aristocratic idea has something to do with my admiring Ella so much so I suppose I've got something of the sort in me too.
It's odd how one gets intimate with people. Old Lynn spoke of the Mount Desarts as if they were the Royal Family–with bated breath. That's what started me, especially after he said they were so particular about whom they knew. Of course Ella is the one. I wonder if I really care as much about her as I think I do. She's twenty and I'm all but eighteen. The worst of it is when I see her, I never have anything to say. They think an awful lot of a fellow being a sportsman. I've not had much chance of being a shot but I'm pretty smart at rabbits and old Aldwinkle's son who is Mr Brooke's keeper at Collingham Place says wild duck take more shooting than pheasants and I got two in three shots the other night. I deserved them after sitting in the middle of the ice for hours with the gun freezing my hands. And my riding's all right but one can't take a line on those raw four-year-olds Dick Burge lets me hunt for the making.
The Mount Desarts are a queer family when one comes to think of it. They're down on everybody, even their own brother. It must be something to do with the money Neville lost ranching in Wyoming but he says his father has got plenty. With all their swagger relations they don't seem to do anything but go and stay in Ireland or somewhere even more out of the way than Warnham. The only one who ever does anything is Ella and she only hunts once a week. They won't go out for a walk, they never go to see anyone, they say they wouldn't go to the parsonic tennis parties if they were paid, besides they hate the game. All they do is to sit in the schoolroom and have tea and say everything is awful. I often wonder whether it's only Ella that makes me like going there so much. Perhaps it's because they all seem to like me to come. They must because they are always asking me over for the night. Neville who spends all his time drawing "bad men" and cowboys roping steers says I'm a godsend and that nobody ever talks except when I'm in the house. But Ella is a beauty and I suppose that vague slack way of hers is aristocratic. There must be something in that daughter of a thousand earls business, old Lynn and Tracy are full of it. Tracy says the Mount Desarts are the oldest blood in England and they've never married out of their class. I've got an idea he was having a little whack at me because I had hinted I was rather gone on Ella, it's difficult not to say something to somebody when one feels like that. When he asked me what they did and what they talked about, I couldn't think. They never do anything and as far as I can remember they never talk about anything. When I'm there I have to do all the talking. That's why I have to invent idiotic stories like the one about my having found a dead fox one morning when I was out after wood-pigeons and walking through Collingham village with it in one hand and a gun in the other and meeting Lord Ashby's hounds and what Tom Wood the huntsman said to me when I told him I'd found it poisoned by Mark's Coppice not fifty yards away from his own poultry-run. I made that up one evening after dinner and every time I go there as soon as old Mr Mount Desart goes down to the housekeeper's room and gets out his pipe, I have to tell it over again to make him laugh. I wonder, as old Tracy's so keen on blood, he doesn't make up to Beatrice. She's only about thirty-five and just the right sort of wife for a well-off, sporting parson. Perhaps he doesn't think his family's good enough. But I don't think they would mind if it weren't. Ella and Ray would be delighted to get her married, they're always having rows with her. There are always rows about something at Warnham and I believe they're generally about money. But they'd probably have them anyhow to make the time pass. I suppose the old man doesn't know, at all events he keeps out of the way. The girls' lives seem to be nothing but meals. Breakfast runs into lunch and if they do anything in the afternoon it's either got to be done before or after tea. Their only excitement seems to be when the hounds draw the Warnham coverts or when their cousin Lord Eye comes down to Sowerby and has a party for the shooting. They talked for weeks about driving over to Bolsover House to call; Mrs Mount Desart said I must be sure and see the pictures. When we did go at last, Sir George Gresham said the gallery tad been shut up for years and all we did was to look at the stables. The girls say Gresham is drinking himself to death and he looks like it.
They asked me all sorts of questions after I stayed at Wannacote, especially about mother. I couldn't help noticing that they seemed to think more of me after I'd been there. Neville says they are snobs. The others may be but I don't think Ella is, although she's as bad as any of them about despising everyone who doesn't own an estate. I wish I knew more about snobbishness, I don't think I quite understand what a snob is. That's through leaving Olive so soon. It's a great disadvantage not to know certain things. All Howker knew was that M'Grath was a snob and that it meant looking up to a lord. I asked him how he knew M'Grath looked up to a lord and he said anyone could see he did and that a chap who dressed like that must be a snob. That's ridiculous. I may be a snob myself, I rather think I am; if I am, I'm one who admires rich, handsome, well-born people and would like to be one of them myself. With the exception of Dickens's, nearly every hero of every book I've read is one or the other or all three. Nobody ever makes a hero or heroine out of an ugly, poor, common man or woman except in fairy-tales and then they always change into princes and princesses. One feels sorry for poor, ugly, common people but one doesn't admire them for being so and one does admire people for being noble and rich and splendid. I don't see how one can help it. I wish I could talk to mother about these things. It's no use trying to talk to the governor. If I told him what I think he'd make me feel small, and say something like kind hearts being more than coronets and simple faith than Norman blood. Of course being clever and knowing a lot and being kind and generous and unselfish are the chief moral qualities but those aren't the qualities I'm thinking about and anyhow it must be easier to be all that if you've got the others.
Another reason why I think I'm a snob is the lie I told Miss Eva Lynn when she came to stay with her uncle in the summer. One evening she began talking about families and genealogies and asked me what county my father came from. I told her his family was Austrian but my mother was English and I went on to say how beautiful she was and how I loved her. She then asked me what her name was before she married my father. For an instant I didn't answer. I felt I couldn't say the truth, which was that I didn't know, because it flashed into my mind that she would have thought it queer, she might even have thought the less of mother for it. So I suddenly made up my mind and said "Burke." "Oh, indeed! the Clanwilliam Burkes or the Evresont Burkes?" I nodded my head. "Yes, that's it, the Clanwilliam Burkes." "Earls of Clanwilliam and Fowan, Barons of Dartrey and Corso?" "Yes, yes." I went on nodding my head. She asked me what relation mother was to the present earl. I said I really didn't know, she saw none of them because they didn't like my father. After that utter lie, she left me alone but she sat there looking at me as if I'd suddenly changed into a fairy and I knew she'd tell old Mr Lynn. I trembled at the thought of it. But when I went to bed I lay awake thinking. How was it I had never heard my mother's name? The only members of her family I'd ever heard of were Aunt Mary who was the mother of my cousin Mildred, a very stout lady whose surname was Cunningham and a lady who lived with her whom I called Cousin Caroline whose surname was Steele and who was Sissy's godmother. They had a house in the country called Farnham Grange. In my whole life no one had ever mentioned what my mother's surname was though I remember her telling me that she had two Christian names besides Kate and that one of them was Millicent. Was there any reason for this or was it just chance? If only I had thought of it in time I should have told Miss Lynn her name was Steele. But now I've said it, I intend to stick to it until, if ever, I know the right one. After all, what does it matter? If her name were Burke or Vere de Vere, she couldn't he more aristocratic than she is. I hadn't the least intention of making her anything she wasn't and I couldn't make her out better than she is.
Up to the last I hoped I should have a chance of talking everything over with mother but one thing or another prevented it until it was too late. At the end everything happened so quickly. It doesn't seem possible now that I was at home nearly three weeks after leaving Collingham and that it's over six since I went up for Smalls. And yet it seems a long time since I rode over to Warnham to tell them I had passed and was leaving Mr Lynn; my good-bye visit, when Ella told me she was engaged to Captain Bingham. When I knew it, I felt relieved, as though I'd been older and engaged to her myself and then that it had been broken off; because, really, she was nothing to me. I believe I shall never marry or if I do it won't be because I want to. I know I shall never find anyone who will understand me. I don't know if wives ever understand husbands but if they do they aren't the sort of husbands I should be. I think I was born to be solitary. When I was small, Nanny Clifford and Fräulein Schwind always said I was discontented. It was true. I am discontented and I am afraid I always shall be because whether I'm right or wrong, I know I want something in every way different from what I've got or ever can get. Looking back, I can see that I was always like that. Certainly there were things I liked that other people liked, some books, some games, riding, hunting, rowing, swimming, but only one side of me liked them, not the whole of me. There was always an inside me that wanted something besides entirely different, something that couldn't be explained or done and that wasn't known to me by any particular name, that I seemed to have had some time or other and that all sorts of things reminded me of like the scent of a flower or the rustle of leaves or a broad sunbeam or the glistening of a calm sea when the sun sets. Looking back on my life, I see it like a river separated almost from its source into two streams which keep getting wider apart. And I see that everything I have done all my life, everything I have had to do, has widened that angle and that everything always will widen it. And yet I don't think it ought to be widened. There ought to be some way or other of making those two streams meet again but I don't think I shall ever discover it or if I do, only after many, many years, and by then it may be too late.
I suppose most fellows of eighteen would envy me and think me very lucky to be going for this trip. They would think me very lucky to be on this ship, the Trave steaming to New York. I don't think myself lucky, I don't want to go to America, I haven't the least wish to see the States. But I hadn't the will and the courage to tell the governor so when he said Uncle Theo had offered to take me. I tried to say something, I began by saying something about preferring to go to Oxford, but the words froze on my lips because in my heart I knew that it wasn't that I wanted to go to Oxford. I didn't know what I wanted to do but I knew I didn't want to go to America and that all he told me about the advantage it would be for me to see the New World and about the opportunity I would have of seeing what human enterprise and industry could build up, meant nothing, less than nothing to me. Of course he interrupted me. He talks very well and very quickly and convincingly though he never convinces me but that was not really the reason I gave in or rather that I pretended I wanted to go. It wasn't even because he told me I could come back in three months and go to Oxford if I didn't prefer to remain, although, he said, "I shall be very surprised if you don't find out during that time that America is the country of the future." I'm not really keen upon going to Oxford. I don't think I should gain much from going there. All I do feel is that as I have to go on down this river which always gets broader and uglier and dirtier as it flows on, I'd rather be in the same boat with the sort of men I should know at Oxford than with men like Mr Colhoun. Again looking back, and I always look back rather than forward when I try to think, I see that the reason my time at Jaquelin's was the least unhappy in my life was that I was left alone there and that it was peaceful. I've never been happy except at wonderful moments and I had more of those moments there than anywhere else; there seemed to be more of my whole self in whatever I did and the memories of the other life came oftener.
Nor do I want anyone to be sorry for me or try to comfort me. They couldn't anyhow. I'd much rather be unhappy and have those moments than be happy like other people and not have them. Besides I know I've got to go on down this river, whether I like it or not, and I'm almost certain that whatever I do, I shall make a mess of it, not because I want to but because I can't help it. And I feel that I might have been saved the worst if I could have explained, if I had at least had a chance of explaining to mother that I don't really care about my life at all and that the kind the governor wants me to lead could never be endurable. But even to her I couldn't have said that; I should have to be alone with her a long time and tell her gradually and I've hardly ever been alone with her at all; as far back as I can remember I was much more with nurses and governesses than with her. Yet I know that if, in this world, anyone could understand, it could only be mother. But it was too difficult to try during those last three weeks. Where could I have begun and how and when? When I was in her room for ten minutes in the morning with the maid going in and out? When we were riding in the Row? When she drove round paying calls or at tea at Mr Frühling's in Park Lane? Or at luncheon and dinner where there were always people? How many times I said, to-morrow I will, to-morrow I must. And when to-morrow came, it was to-day and to-day was the same as yesterday. And then the day came for her to go to Paris and the evening before, Mr Frühling was there and stayed and stayed–and she was so tired when she went to bed. When I said good-bye to her at the station, I knew I was saying goodbye as well to the only chance I should ever have–not of putting things right–that's impossible, but of preventing their going too utterly, hopelessly wrong. For the further I go on down the river, the less shall I be able to resist. If it is yellow and dirty now, what will it be before it reaches the sea?