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Title: Years of Plenty
Author: Brown, Ivor
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  "_The wealth of youth, we spent it well
    And decently, as very few can.
  And is it lost?  I cannot tell:
    And what is more I doubt if you can._"
          HILAIRE BELLOC.



YEARS OF PLENTY


BY IVOR BROWN



LONDON

MARTIN SECKER

NUMBER FIVE JOHN STREET

ADELPHI



_First Published 1915_



CONTENTS


BOOK ONE:  SCHOOL

BOOK TWO:  UNIVERSITY



BOOK ONE

SCHOOL


I

Life seemed to Martin Leigh, as he gazed at the wooden walls of his
cubicle, very overwhelming: there were so many things to remember.  He
had lived through his first day as a boarder at a public school and at
length he had the great joy of knowing that for nine hours there would
be nothing to find out.  He seemed to have been finding things out ever
since seven o'clock that morning: finding out his form and his form
master, his desk at school and his desk in the house, his place in
chapel and his place at meals, his hours of work and his field for
play.  He had moved in a world of mystery, a world of doors which had
to be opened and of locks which had to be picked.  It had been
terrifying work, this probing of places.

All day Martin had been shown things by formidable people in a
hustling, inadequate way: he had been far too awed by the majesty of
his conductors to ask any questions and he realised now that he had
forgotten nearly all that he had been told.  He knew that he was in the
Lower Fifth, Classical, and that his form master was a renowned terror:
he knew also that he was supposed to play football with the other small
boys of his house in a muddy-looking field some distance away.  But his
place in chapel ... that had vanished entirely from his mind.  And
to-morrow morning he would either have to pluck up his scanty courage
and make a fool of himself by asking one of the formidable people, or
else trust to luck and probably make an even greater fool of himself by
wandering disconsolate in the aisle.  He was vague also as to the
locality of the Lower Fifth classroom: there was, indeed, one other
member of that form in the house, but he was a gigantic, moustachioed
person, a man of weight in the football world: to approach him would be
impossible.  Martin came to the conclusion that not only would chapel
make him notorious for life, but that he would also get lost in school
and reach his classroom late: then he would come in blushing, amidst
the smiles of the superior.  And the Terror would not rage and swear
like a gentleman: he would smile, as he had smiled that morning, and
make a little joke.

Life was undoubtedly overwhelming.  And there were other no less cruel
facts to face.  His collars were all wrong.  All the other new boys, he
had noticed, wore Eton collars: these, apparently, should be retained
for a few terms, until the owner considered himself sufficiently
dignified for 'stick-ups.'  Martin, who was fourteen and tall for his
age, had been sent to school with 'stick-ups' and no Eton collars.  He
saw at once the horrid nature of his offence: it was side of the first
degree, involuntary side, but who would know that, much less conjecture
it?  The new boys, as timid as himself, had of course said nothing, but
he had observed the smiles and queer looks of the people about a year
older, who had themselves only just assumed the emblem of position.  It
was a very awkward and bothering occurrence, and he had already written
home for others to be sent as soon as possible.  In reality Martin was
more worried about this than about all the information he had
forgotten.  What made him dread the morrow with a fear he had never
known before was not so much the possibility of his wandering about
school and chapel like a lost sheep, but the certainty that he would be
dressed in open defiance of all the sartorial traditions of Elfrey
School.

Martin tried to console himself with the reflection that nothing could
now deprive him of nine hours' peace.  He was glad that he was allowed
a cubicle and could enjoy a certain amount of privacy: he had
anticipated a large, bare room with rows of beds and the continual
shower, so dear to the books of his youth, of hurtling slippers and
sponges.  Instead he had found a comfortable dormitory with a broad
passage separating two rows of nine wooden-sided cubicles.  As far as
he could gather most of the boys adorned their cubicles with family
photographs, presumably because they were content with a hasty glance
at their parents and sisters during the shamefully few seconds in which
the acts of washing and dressing were completed: their actresses they
pinned inside their workroom desks, or, if they were study owners, hung
on their walls so that the long watches of the day were not
uncomforted.  It struck Martin that here was another gap: he had not
brought with him any family photographs, and he expected that to seem
unfilial would be very bad form: nor had he a favourite actress.  He
would have, he saw, to ask for his family photographs to be sent with
the Eton collars and the sardines, which he had discovered at tea to be
essential to the good life.  The actress problem could be dealt with
later.

The rules of the dormitory were strict.  Lights were turned out at ten
and no one could leave his cubicle without permission.  No talking was
allowed after 'Lights out.'  But to-night things were disorganised.  In
the first place, Moore was the prefect on duty, an occurrence which
usually meant that no one was on duty, for it was Moore's habit to go
back to his study to find a book and then to forget about returning.
And besides it was only natural that at the beginning of term
discipline should not be established in all its accustomed rigour.
Everyone, except the six new boys, had plenty to say, and in the
prolonged absence of Moore they passed freely about from cubicle to
cubicle.  It was already a quarter past ten.

Martin, of course, lay quietly in bed gazing at the cracks in the
plaster above him and wondering how long it would be before the lights
went out and sleep became possible.  His thoughts shifted painfully
from chapel to collars, from collars to the Lower Fifth.  This invasion
of a new world which had seemed only a week ago to be so supreme an
adventure was nothing but a nuisance and an agony.  His sole comfort
lay in the reflection that bed, even a hard, knobbly, school bed is an
excellent place: here at least there was nothing to find out.

Suddenly he realised that a conversation was in progress close to the
curtain of his cubicle.  Cullen, his neighbour in the dormitory, was
talking to a friend called Neave: already he had marked them both as
giants of a year's standing, youthful bloods of surpassing glory.

"I've got a ripping photo of Sally Savoy," said Cullen.

"She's a bit of fluff for you," answered Neave.

"Yes, by gum.  My brother at Sandhurst told me a grand story about her."

"What was it?"

"It's jolly hot stuff."

"All the better.  Let's have it."

Then Cullen launched out.  Martin, who could not help overhearing every
word, understood the beginning of the tale, but just when Neave's
exclamation betrayed the listener's thrill, he found it unintelligible.
And later on there was the recitation of a Limerick which he could not
at all understand.  It was not that anything deeply wicked was related,
but Martin had been a day boy at his private school and had only
received a vague impression of the ways of nature and of man.  Never
before had it struck him how confused and ignorant he was.

Then a mighty voice roared: "What the deuce are you all playing at?"
Numerous forms in more or less advanced stages of nudity started like
rabbits to their proper cubicles, while Moore bellowed in the doorway.
If it had been anyone but Moore there would have been a row: but Moore
was an angel and never did anything but shout.  The lights were turned
down and the voices died away.

Cullen took one lingering glance at Sally before he put her away and
said his prayers: Neave, having ended his supplications, lay chuckling
quietly in bed.  Martin began to feel acutely miserable.  In spite of
all his hopes that the dormitory would bring him peace, he had only
come across another door which had to be opened.  There was no escape:
he would have to find out, for he might be expected to join in one of
these conversations and then he would be shown up.  He would have to
discover some decent new boy and question him tactfully.  It would be
embarrassing: it would be perfect hell: but it would be inevitable.  He
began to wish he was back in Devonshire, at home.  God, how he loathed
Life and Elfrey and Sally Savoy: he wanted ... but just when, in spite
of the promptings of conscience, he was yielding to the soft embrace of
sentiment and memory, sleep saved the situation.



II

It is one of the world's happiest phenomena that pessimism, by creating
expectations gloomier far than any possible event, destroys by that
very process its _raison d'être_.  For Martin the future had, almost of
necessity, to be brighter than its promise.  He was pushed into his
right place in chapel and found his way, without undue meandering, to
the Lower Fifth classroom: he even appeased the Terror by his ability
to explain the history of the genitive case in Greek.  A schoolmaster's
lot is hard enough without his making it worse, and the Terror sensibly
seized any opportunity of investing his work with an element of real
interest.  With the bloods who found higher progress impossible and
remained to clog the Lower Fifth, it was always routine: but Martin had
come with a scholarship and was capable of an ingenious and tasteful
turn in translation.  He was obviously a boy in whom an interest could
be taken, and the Terror warmed to him even to the extent of abandoning
the sardonic humour on which he so prided himself.  According to all
the best traditions of scholastic fiction, Martin should have been
unpopular for this reason, but as a matter of fact the bloods were far
too bored with the Terror and all his works, and far too contemptuous
of all clever kids and 'sweat-guts,' to take the least notice of what
happened: or, if they did take notice, they were not going to give
themselves away by showing it.

The collar problem had been the hardest to face, and Martin still
longed eagerly for the Etons to arrive.  As for the question of Neave,
Cullen, and Sally Savoy, he found that here too his fears had been
exaggerated.  Most of the smaller boys did not talk on this subject:
Neave and Cullen turned out to be remote and superior creatures: by
their well-oiled hair and exquisite variety of ties and socks and
handkerchiefs they revealed the majesty of their doggishness.  But
Martin was not prepared to run any risks: he became intimate with the
most imposing of the new boys, one Caruth, and plied him with
questions.  He saw plainly that it was an ordeal which had to be gone
through if he was ever to attain peace of mind, and consequently he
bravely endured Caruth's surprise at the deficiencies in his knowledge.
Martin had foolishly begun by hinting that he really knew a good deal
and only wanted a few supplementary details, but he soon discovered
that he was giving himself most terribly away.  Then he broke down and
confessed his ignorance.

"You are a kid," said Caruth.  "You with your stick-ups!"

"Well, it's not my fault," protested Martin.

Thereupon Caruth became very patronising and talked to him at length,
telling him much that was true and more that was false: he also gave
information as to suitable passages in Shakespeare and the Bible for
the confirmation of theory.  At first Martin was sickened and disgusted
by his investigations, but his sense of repulsion was soon outweighed
by the consideration that another barrier had been broken down and that
now he could join in conversation, if need be, without that gnawing
fear of being shown up.  Caruth had the decency not to betray Martin's
ignorance to the other new boys.

Martin was in Berney's house.  Berney's had a reputation for
mediocrity--that is to say, it rarely won many challenge cups, and
those which it did hold were gained more often by individuals than by
teams.  Berney's usually had some brilliant athletes, but it never
succeeded in training good sides.  Occasionally at the bidding of a
conscientious prefect it made an effort; but its efforts were nearly
always in vain.  Berney's had a lofty contempt for pot-hunting, which
the other houses of course attributed to jealousy.  When Martin came to
Berney's the house was in its usual state: two of the prefects,
Jamieson and Parker, were very clever men but indifferent athletes: the
other two, Moore and Leopard, were brilliant athletes and not at all
clever.  The house as a whole was listless and apathetic, and there was
a healthy spirit of tolerance resulting in the formation of groups.
There was a doggish group, which discussed socks and hair oil and other
more exciting things, a young athletic group, a group of 'sweat-guts,'
and a group of complete nullities.  The new boys remained in a bunch
until half-term and then began to drift to their appropriate circles.
Martin, reasoning from certain conversations at his private school, had
been afraid that the new boys might have a rough time.  Nothing of the
sort occurred.  They were left very much alone and, as long as they put
on no side, received quite reasonable treatment.  In all his career at
Elfrey Martin never saw a fight or a case of bullying: at times there
would be a little playful ragging, and insolence usually met with its
reward, but there was no systematic oppression.  Above all, the
'sweat-guts,' though they might be laughed at now and then, were never
persecuted.

At the end of this second week Martin received two invitations to
supper.  One was from Mrs Berney, the other from Mrs Foskett, the
headmaster's wife.  Mrs Berney's hospitality came first.  Instead of
going in to house tea and eating bread and butter and whatever else he
chose to provide for himself, he went to the front part of the house
with a clean collar (Eton by now) and hair 'sloshed' down with copious
water.  There he met Caruth and two others, all equally wet about the
hair.  They were fed with fried soles, cold tongue, meringues, tea,
toast, and marmalade--not at all a bad business, thought Martin, and
well worth the previous exertions of the toilet.

Mr Berney sat at the head of the table.  He was a little, freckled man
with a fair moustache: he had become a schoolmaster through despair and
a housemaster through patience.  His chief interest lay in natural
history and botany, and he was never so happy as when he forgot all
about the school and his house and tramped the surrounding country.  He
managed his house with a bare minimum of efficiency and was never loved
and never hated.  In the routine of teaching at school and
administration at home he worked steadily, without mistakes and without
enthusiasm.  He said all that a housemaster ought to say about games
and work and religion and moral tone without stopping to think whether
it was desirable or even consistent, for he had long ago discovered
that to start thinking would be to court anxiety, if not disaster.  He
lived, on the whole, for his holidays.

At the other end of the table was his wife, small and dark and
interesting.  She it was who ran the house, not because she liked it,
but because she worshipped her husband and knew that he loathed
responsibility.  She was popular with the boys, who could pardon her
complete inability to understand games (a heinous sin in a
housemaster's wife) because of her unfailing kindness and sympathy.
She fed them well, as schools go, believed in culture, and used to
gather select spirits to read poetry in her drawing-room.

Martin sat next to her and found her easy to talk to.  She too was
relieved, because she usually had to struggle with an athletic
conversation, a prolonged torture in which she would cause horror and
dismay by confusing half-backs and cover-points.  But Martin could talk
about books and even pictures: she became interested and forgot to dole
out meringues, until, reminded by her husband, she looked up and saw
with shame the expectant faces of her guests.  Afterwards she took them
to her comfortable drawing-room and talked on general school subjects:
she kept them until she was certain that of this batch Martin alone had
possibilities.  Then she drove them to prep.

The Fosketts, as befitted a headmaster and his wife, were more
formidable.  To begin with, their hospitality involved, in addition to
the clean collar and sloshed hair, the wearing of Sunday clothes and
the completion of prep in odd moments.  The six new boys at Berney's
all went together, very timid and overwhelmed at the thought of being
entertained by one so remote and so tremendous as the Head.  He was not
in their eyes so infinitely great as Llewelyn, the Captain of Football:
but, distinctly, he counted.

Foskett was one of the new headmasters.  He was young (Elfrey figured
early in the _cursus honorum_ of one who aspired to the greatest
thrones), and he had declined to take holy orders.  But, though
fashionably sceptical about the hardest dogmas, he believed intensely
in all the right things, in the Classics and the Empire and Moral Tone
and the Educational Value of Athletics and Our Duty to the Poor and the
Need for Personal Service.  Consequently his name was already a byword
with all the conscientious young men in London and at the universities
who form quasi-religious clubs and believe that the world can be
reformed by heartiness and committee meetings.  Foskett was a very able
man, who knew quite well what he wanted and was determined to get it:
being an Englishman to the backbone, he combined an affection for the
word Duty with an invincible belief that Duty, for him, always
corresponded with his own particular ambitions.  He was by no means a
hypocrite: it simply never occurred to him that his policy of 'getting
on' might be inconsistent with some of his moral ideals.  While he had
chosen to disguise the more unpalatable articles of faith with a sugary
paste of scientific catch-words, he never questioned the absolute value
of Christian Morality.

He had married, characteristically, the daughter of a colonial bishop,
a tall, gaunt woman with sparkling eyes and an immense capacity for
enthusiasm.  Not only was she prepared to take up all her husband's
causes, but she also took up him and worshipped at his shrine with a
persistent and unflinching devotion.  He represented for her all that
was estimable: he was strong and wise and pure: he was just the man to
mould the lives and ideals of the new generation, to make the finest
religion and the finest patriotism vital forces in the school, and to
pass through the richest headmasterships in England to a dignified old
age as head of an Oxford college.  They were both of them supremely
methodical, and she bore him a child every three years.  Naturally her
guests were overwhelmed.  While Foskett looked quiet and authoritative
and made bad jokes in a quaint, theoretic manner at the head of the
table, his wife chattered and gushed and became vastly enthusiastic
over house junior football teams and the personnel of next year's
cricket eleven.  Her grasp of detail and statistics carried dismay even
to boys.  Martin was glad that he was in the middle of the table and
avoided the necessity of making conversation.

"Medio tutissimus ibis," he quoted to himself from that morning's
'trans' as he listened to Caruth, who had used Brilliantine instead of
water and was eager to shine socially, answering her questions and
assenting to her tremendous declamations.

"Isn't it splendid," said Mrs Foskett, "about the school athletics?
When we first came here Elfrey hardly ever won its school matches and
now we never get beaten.  Fermor's play last summer was marvellous,
positively marvellous.  D'you know, he actually got fifty wickets for
9.76 and had a batting average of 37.  He's sure to get a blue at
Cambridge.  The last Elfreyan to get a blue was Staples: he made 74 at
Lord's and was run out by an Old Etonian."

"Hard luck," said Caruth.  "I do think being run out is rotten."

"Are you a cricketer?" continued Mrs Foskett.

"Well, I was captain of my preparatory school," said Caruth, assuming
the humble voice and depreciatory smile that betoken a proper modesty.
"But of course that's not much."

"It's the best beginning.  You're sure to play for the school before
you're done."

"Oh, I don't suppose so," answered Caruth.  He felt it to be an
inefficient answer and wondered, fingering his tie, what the ideal
reply would have been.  Would 'Oh, Mrs Foskett!' have been too familiar?

Then it turned out that Caruth had been to Murren for the winter
sports.  This was one of Mrs Foskett's well-known themes.  Her subjects
included Greece, Switzerland, Patriotism, Sport, and the Nobility.

"Oh, I think Murren's so lovely," she began.  "To be so high up, right
above those Wengen people.  I love ski-ing.  And the sun.  And the
glorious air.  There's nothing like it.  And such nice people.  Such
really charming people.  Last winter we met Lord and Lady Dalston.
They're so interested in the personal side of Social Service.  Lord
Dalston has a club in the Mile End Road, and in the evenings he goes
and sings there himself--such a beautiful voice.  Of course they don't
get many people yet because of----"

"The picture palaces," suggested Caruth nobly.  He thought it about
time that he got a word in and was eager to excuse the scandalous
absence of appreciation of Lord Dalston's art.

"Yes, those terrible places.  And they do have such sensational films
in the East End.  I'm sure they have a bad influence.  What the people
really need is a drill hall with exercises and good music.  I've been
putting the case to Lady Dalston."

"Rather," said Caruth, who was himself a staunch patron of the
pictorial drama.  And then he added: "I think National Service would be
a good thing for the poor."

He had given Mrs Foskett her cue.  She broke out into a triumph song in
whose turbulent flow the words 'physique' and 'efficiency' came
frequently rolling.  She was careful to say that she was not a
militantist and hated the thought of war, but she didn't see any harm
in teaching people how to shoot one another if need be.  "War's so
educational," she ended.  "Brings out the strength of the nation."

And then there floated from the other end of the table the throaty
voice of the Head as he told an antique Jowett story, which had been
picked up in his under-graduate days and always did good service when
the flame of conversation flickered.

Martin, sitting silently in the middle of the table, concentrated on
the supper.  It was worth all the attention he gave it.  He managed to
consume a plate of soup, some fried sole, two sausages and bacon, one
helping of trifle and one of fruit salad, and as much dessert and
chocolate as came his way.  The Fosketts certainly understood the art
of feeding.

Afterwards there was a feeble attempt made to play some games, but not
even Mrs Foskett could overcome the self-consciousness of her guests.
Interest waned and the Head's jokes became worse and worse.  They were
all relieved when the time came for departure.

As they walked back Caruth, who was secretly pleased with his
conversational display, said loftily: "Thank the Lord that's over."

Martin answered: "I should think so.  Ghastly show."  In reality he was
thinking, 'Ripping grub.'  He was not a particularly greedy person, but
Elfrey air is keen and any growing boy can appreciate a solid meal
about half-past six.  Martin was quite prepared, for his part, to
change his clothes and undergo the ordeal of any company, even Mrs
Foskett's, for the sake of a meal which included sausages and trifle.



III

Elfrey was one of the numerous public schools brought into existence by
the sudden growth of the middle class during the nineteenth century.
Consequently it had neither money nor traditions.  The lack of the
former was a severe handicap and could only result in the scandalous
underpayment of the masters and the abominable necessity of sending
round the hat, which of course returned half empty, whenever the school
needed a new building or playing-field.  The absence of the latter was
more wholesome.  Everyone had a hearty contempt for Eton and Harrow and
Winchester and considered that the fuss made about them was ridiculous.
"We could have damped the lot at cricket last summer" was the general
opinion, and it may have been correct, so great had Fermor been.  How
far this attitude was based on mere jealousy, and how far it
represented a sound distrust of top-hats, side, and antiquated customs,
it would be difficult to decide.  As a result of their abhorrence for
tradition, Elfrey had no organised system of fagging, and each house
had established its own regime.

At Berney's any prefect or member of the Sixth could, theoretically,
command the services of anyone who had not a study; but this right was
little used, and it was generally felt that too great assumption on the
part of a Sixth would lead to unpopularity.

Prefects, however, as opposed to Sixths, were accustomed to take unto
themselves a small boy and give him the use of their study on the
condition that he dusted it, cleaned their cups and plates, and made
himself generally useful.  Although this office received the derogatory
title of 'being study-slut,' it was, on the whole, rather sought after,
as only the more attractive and popular members of the workroom were
chosen for the position.

Martin was therefore considerably surprised when one of the prefects,
called Leopard, adopted him in the fourth week of term.  Leopard was a
genuine Olympian.  He had played with distinction in the historic
Elfreyan eleven of last summer: he was school sports champion: he had
played rackets for Elfrey at Queen's Club: and now he was being tried
as wing three-quarter in the rugger team.  By specialising in science
he had scraped into a Sixth, and he was intending to continue his
athletic, if not his scientific, career at Cambridge.  This ambition,
however, necessitated the study of Greek, and the study of Greek
necessitated for a scientist laborious days.  Leopard had discovered
that Martin was in the Lower Fifth and could write Greek prose without
howlers.  He seemed also to be quite an attractive individual, and
neither law nor custom forbade the acquisition of a second menial.  So
Martin became, to his own great satisfaction, the junior study-slut of
Leopard.

Pearson, his senior in that office, naturally attempted to make him do
all the work of tidying, but Leopard put an end to that, and it was
soon understood that Martin's function was the composition of correct
Greek prose.  This he fulfilled efficiently and Leopard, who had
recently been harried by his instructor in Greek in a way quite
revolting to his dignity and self-respect, found life at once more easy
and more honourable.  He became very intimate with Martin and would
talk to him at great length in a patronising but amusing way: he would
even allow Martin to rag him and call him by his nickname, Spots.

Inevitably Martin worshipped Spots.  The study became to him a temple,
a very awful and a sacred place.  On its walls were scores of
photographs, signed pictures of school bloods past and present,
photographs of elevens, photographs of fifteens, photographs of the
Racket Pair, and photographs of a girl, who was usually on horseback.
These last were carefully framed and signed in round, sprawling
letters, 'Kiddie.'  Martin, as he gazed upon them, began to form
conceptions of the perfect life.  There was a bookcase, too, with a
fine collection of shilling novels whose paper covers bore lurid
pictures of Life and Love.  In spite of a certain monotony of theme and
a devastating dullness in its elaboration, Spots seemed to derive
considerable pleasure from those works, which he always read while
Martin was doing his Greek prose.  Martin was kept too busy to do much
reading, but he appreciated the pictures on the covers and was
impressed by the dark-eyed women in red who accepted on divans the
passionate kisses of blond young men in faultless evening dress.  The
room also contained some old swords (bought from a predecessor), a
number of rackets, a bag of golf-clubs, and a fine array of cushions
with humorous designs.  The culinary outfit and china were complete to
the verge of opulence.  The Leopard's Den, as the study was commonly
called, had achieved a certain reputation for magnificence, a
reputation in which Martin gloried.  He even enjoyed the dusting and
cleaning and despised Pearson for his laziness and lack of proper
pride.  But it was not mere priggishness that animated him.

Meanwhile Mrs Berney had not forgotten his possibilities, and it was
arranged that he should attend her poetry circle which met after
prayers on Saturday evenings.  It was composed mainly of older boys,
and two of them were vast intellectuals in the Upper Sixth, so that
Martin felt very awed at the prospect of reading Keats amid such
company.  One of them was actually the school poet and had lately
worked off in _The Elfreyan_ the emotions evoked by a summer holiday in
the Lakes:

  "The flaming bracken fires the breast
        Of bosky Borrowdale,
  Down swoops the sun in a riot of red
  Behind Scawfell to a watery bed,
  And the moon hath clomb o'er Skiddaw's head,
        So perfect and so pale."


Martin, who had also been in the Lakes, thought this rather good and
much better than Wordsworth.  He was still a Tennysonian and connected
poetry with the lavish use of alliteration and words like 'clomb' and
'bosky.'  The thought that on the next Saturday evening he was to read
in the company of such an one was as terrifying as it was inspiring.
But it was not yet to be.

Leopard's one fault was, in Martin's opinion, his tendency to sulk: his
career had been so uniformly successful that he was easily piqued by a
reverse.  Once or twice before Martin had thought it expedient to slip
away quietly when he saw Spots looking black, but on this particular
Saturday Fate fought against him.  Leopard was dropped from the school
fifteen for the match against Oxford A.  It was admitted that once
Leopard had the ball in his hands no one on earth could catch him, but
it was rumoured that his defence was weak: it was always the way with
these running-track sprinters; they couldn't tackle.  So the captain
had taken notice of a mere child of sixteen, called Raikes, who played
"back" for his house and could tumble anybody over.

Oxford brought down a strong team, but they only won by sixteen points
to eleven: and Raikes not only scored two excellent tries, but marked
with unerring certainty the notable Rhodes scholar who had made history
in South African Rugby.  It was on the lips of all that Spots was in
the soup or the apple-cart (the popularity of the rival metaphors was
evenly balanced), and sporting members of Raikes' house were laying ten
to one that their hero would be 'capped' within a month.  Spots had
watched the match dismally from the touch-line and he did not take it
at all well.  When he came back to Berney's his angry soul cried out
for tea: and he found that all his cups were dirty.  It was Pearson's
duty to clean the cups, and Pearson was in 'sicker' with influenza.
Martin had been told to do Pearson's work for the next few days, but he
had not realised what Pearson really did and he had forgotten about the
cups.  Moreover, after watching the match, he had gone off to the
tuck-shop to eat ham and chocolate: so Leopard shouted for him in vain,
and then, spurning the proffered aid of sycophantic aliens, he
furiously washed his own cups and made his own tea.  An angry man does
not lightly reject an excuse for wrath, and Spots thoroughly enjoyed
the nursing of his grievance.

On his way back from the tuck-shop Martin borrowed a copy of Keats from
the school library: then he settled down at his desk in the workroom
and began to look through the Odes to see if there were any words that
he could not pronounce.  The meeting of the poetry circle was
formidably near and the old fear of being shown up was vigorously
attacking him.

Suddenly Caruth came up and said: "Spots wants you."

So he put away the book and went up to the study.  He saw at once that
Spots was in the blackest of moods.

"Why the blazes didn't you wash the cups?" he said.  "I told you to do
Pearson's work."

Martin trembled.  "I forgot," he said.  "I couldn't think of all the
things Pearson did."

"I should have thought that the washing of cups might have struck you
as a fairly obvious thing to do."

"Yes; I'm sorry."

"The fact of the matter is, you're getting a bit above yourself.  Just
because you're clever you think you're everyone.  Now you're too good
to wash cups."

"It wasn't that really, Leopard.  I forgot."

"Well you damned well mustn't forget.  You're too good to keep awake.
That's just as bad.  Now get out, you little beast, and come to me
after prayers."

Martin went back to his Keats in misery.  He could guess what was in
store for him, but he could not be certain, because Spots might have
recovered from his wrath by the appointed time and then he might treat
the matter as a joke.  But if Spots didn't recover ... well, then he
would be swiped.  Martin had never been caned at his private school and
this would be his first experience; he wondered how much it would hurt.
Then fear came surging over him, not the dread of anything definite,
but the hideous fear of the unknown.  He was not so much afraid that he
would be hurt as that he would show that he had been hurt: that was the
deadly, the unpardonable, sin.  He wished to heaven he had been swiped
before so that he might know his own capacity for endurance.  Keats
became intolerable.  House tea was a long-drawn agony.  Discussion
centred on the match and the brilliant play of Raikes.

"What did old Spots want?" asked Caruth.  "He seemed to be in the deuce
of a hair."

"Only about cleaning cups," said Martin gloomily.

"Thank the Lord I'm not a study-slut.  Was he very ratty?"

"Oh, not very.  Flannery, you hog, pass the bread."

The conversation had at any cost to be changed, and Martin was pleased
when the general attention was directed to the colossal hoggishness of
Flannery, who was mixing jam, sardines, and potted meat.

As time went on the agony of suspense grew like an avalanche, carrying
all before it.  Martin did practically no work during prep.  Impossible
to linger over algebra or the Bacchæ when Spots and his cups obsessed
the mind.  It was not the injustice of being victimised for a slip of
the memory when Pearson was in sicker, but the possibility of being
shown up as a coward that tortured him most.  He knew that other boys
were swiped with some frequency and managed to pretend that they did
not mind.  But it might turn out that he was not so tough as other
boys.  Besides Spots had the wrist of a racket player and was renowned
for his powers of castigation.  And then there was the poetry circle.
If the worst happened, he would have to cut that and explain
afterwards.  What on earth could he say?  The thought was too horrid
for consideration.

After prep and supper Mr Berney used to read prayers, while the boys
knelt down and thought about any odd subject that came to mind.  They
were not, as a house, particularly irreligious, but it is astonishingly
easy to acquire the habit of saying 'Amen' at the right place and
repeating the Lord's Prayer without being aware of your actions.  But
to-night Martin was conscious of all that was said and did not open his
lips.  As he gazed in silence at the backs of the wooden benches he
began to feel physically sick.

After prayers the house dispersed to talk, or finish work, or go to
bed.  Martin hurried to Leopard's study.  There he waited for five
age-long minutes: he felt that a hundred swipings would be better than
this delay.  The study seemed a vast blur of photographs, all dim and
misty except one: that was a large picture of Kiddie, the equestrienne,
who beamed on him from close at hand, gripping her riding-switch.
Kiddie became the only object in the room.  The smile and the switch
fascinated him.  They were symbolic, they were abominable.  At this
same Kiddie he had often gazed in rapturous worship, wondering whether
Leopard was the more blessed for knowing her or she for knowing him.
God, how he loathed her now.

At last Leopard arrived.  The clouds had not lifted.  He had just
overheard Moore remarking to a friend that, as a three-quarter, Raikes
was worth a dozen of Spots.

"Oh, you," he said quietly.  "Just go to the prefects' common-room."

Martin turned and went out.  His fate was settled.  He felt, as he
walked down the long passage listening to the tread of Leopard behind
him, as though all his internal organs were falling into his feet.

When they reached the common-room Leopard turned up the light and
locked the door.  Then he took a cane from a cupboard in the corner and
made Martin bend over with his head under the table.  Leopard had
suffered during the evening, for the almost certain loss of a rugger
cap on which he had counted was a terrible blow to his pride and his
ambitions.  He was angry, desperately angry, and his only desire was to
express his anger in action.  The fact that he was fond of Martin only
added piquancy to the situation.  The maximum punishment that a house
prefect could inflict was eight strokes.  He did not stop short of his
maximum.

After the first three strokes Martin felt as though nothing could
prevent him crying out: then a blessed numbness seemed to come over him
and he remained silent and motionless.  Afterwards he had to climb on
to the table and put out the light.  Then he went upstairs to his
cubicle: he was not in the mood for poetry.  On such occasions rumour
has swift wings, and when he reached the dormitory the news had
magically been spread abroad.

Voices cried: "How many?"

"Eight."

"Did it hurt?"

"No, not much."  He lied, for he had learned the tradition.

There were murmurs of: "Bad luck," "Old Spots is the limit," "Just
because he got the chuck for not tackling."

And then Neave remarked in the midst of a silence: "If we get nailed
funking a collar we get swiped.  But if Spots gets nailed, then he
swipes someone else.  That's justice."

The expressions of genuine sympathy were very comforting to Martin.
Though now the numbness was wearing off and the reality of his pain
came home to him, he was happier than he had been for days.  He had
opened another door: he was getting on with his task of finding things
out.  Not only was the cruel suspense finished for ever, but he had
learned his own capacities: he could stick it like the others.  And to
have the regard, the compassion, of one so great as Neave!  He had
suffered, he still suffered, but who would not suffer to become a
martyr?  He began to realise, as he pulled the bed-clothes over him,
that Spots had not been the minister of a fortune sheerly malignant.



IV

In the morning Martin was stiff and sore and began his toilet by
examining himself in a looking-glass: when he discovered the havoc that
had been wrought he felt very proud of himself and knew that this
appearance in the changing-room before football on Monday need cause
him no distress: those who wanted to see the damage would have
something to look at.  The discomfort which he experienced during the
day was quite outweighed by his satisfaction at his achievement and
fortitude: that he was the first of the new boys to be swiped rendered
him in their eyes a distinctly important person.  Even Caruth, who
always patronised Martin, began to climb down.

The Berneys had midday dinner with the house, and Martin succeeded in
catching Mrs Berney as she left the dining-hall.

"I'm very sorry I couldn't come last night," he said, blushing.

"So am I.  You must come next Saturday.  What kept you?"

"Oh--er--I had to see one of the prefects," he answered with hesitation.

Mrs Berney, knowing that 'after prayers' was the hour of justice, could
guess from the boy's manner what had occurred.

"That was a pity," she said kindly.  And Martin knew that she knew.  He
felt prouder and more heroic than ever.  Then she added: "Come in after
prayers to-morrow night.  There won't be anyone there."

"Oh, thank you very much," he said in ecstasy.  He had become in a
moment the slave and worshipper of Mrs Berney.  Afterwards Caruth asked
him the subject of his conversation with Mrs B., and he answered: "Oh,
nothing."  On Monday night he went to the drawing-room and read the
odes with which the circle had dealt on Saturday.  Mrs Berney gave him
cocoa and cake and was entirely charming.  As he left her he even
thanked heaven for old Spots.

Leopard, on the other hand, was extremely angry with himself.  He
realised on the following day that he had behaved like a brute: under
normal circumstances he would have ragged Martin and told him not to do
it again.  At the most a mild four would have been considered ample.
But eight!  It was undeniably excessive.  If it had only been someone
else it wouldn't have mattered so much (for abstract justice made no
great appeal to Spots), but there was that kid slinking about his study
and cleaning everything that he could lay hold of with maddening
assiduity.  Not for a moment could he forget his iniquity.  One thing,
however, was certain.  It would be quite inconsistent with the dignity
of a blood to say anything about what had occurred.  So Martin noticed
several changes in Spots' demeanour.  He was more silent and did not
rag him as before: nor did he follow his custom of bringing the Greek
prose to Martin on Tuesdays and Fridays.  Nobly he toiled at it alone
and was roundly abused in form on the following days.  But the memory
of youth is short and soon they drifted back into the old friendly
relations.  Martin, however, took good care not to be guilty of further
slips, for though he was glad now that he had been swiped, he did not
in the least wish it to happen again.

The term ran smoothly on.  Caruth was adopted, to his infinite joy, by
Cullen and Neave and the youthful nuts, while Martin drifted into more
soulful society.  He was even taken up in a kindly way by the poet of
Borrowdale, who lent him an anthology and used to hold forth to him
about men and letters.  Martin was very much impressed and could not
decide what to think when Spots said the poet was a bilger.  To Martin
the voice of Spots was still the voice of a god.  Later on he heard the
poet call Spots 'a piffling Philistine,' but he did not know what it
meant and was ashamed to ask.  Life began to expand in many directions
and new doors pressed themselves on his attention with haunting
urgency.  On the whole Martin was enjoying his first term.

And so he settled down gladly to the routine.  School life is liable to
a clearly marked dichotomy; there is a world of games and a world of
work.  For Martin both had their pleasure, both their monotony.
Football, for instance, distinctly afforded moments.  There were
seventy minutes of consummate joy while the school, released from the
round of "league" games, watched the match with their greatest rival,
Ashminster.  Martin never forgot that struggle.  It was the first
school match which he had been able to see, and he had not yet escaped
from the age of worship, the age in which every blood is a true
Olympian and reveals the deity as he walks.  It was tremendous to watch
Moore battling in the line-out, or Llewelyn heaving an enemy to the
ground, or Raikes, capped now and the undisputed successor to Spots'
position on the left wing, go plunging along the touch-line with that
long and powerful stride.  Martin could even forgive him for ousting
Spots when he saw him pick up an opponent by the knees and pitch him a
full three yards into touch.

For sixty minutes Martin stood wedged in a mass of shoving, bawling
humanity.  And he had bawled, bawled till his voice and breath were
gone and he saw that he would need all his strength to avoid being
barged out of his position in the front row, a treasured post won by a
tedious wait.  And now the long-drawn roar of 'Schoo-ool' went up
almost in despair.  Ashminster were leading by six points to three and
Elfrey, with only ten minutes more, were being penned in their own
twenty-five.  Never had their prospects looked more gloomy: the
forwards were losing the ball in the scrummage time after time and only
the perfect tackling of the backs kept down the score.  Suddenly Ross,
on the right wing, intercepted a fumbled pass and was off.  Someone
shouted: "Kick, man, kick."  But this was no moment for safety play,
and Ross went on.  Not till he was close to the fullback did he kick,
and then it was no feeble punt into touch that he made, but a great
swinging kick across field.  For a moment there was a silence.  Then a
great roar went up, the greatest roar since the beginning of the match.
Raikes, on the left wing, had foreseen the move, and following up with
the speed of the wind had magnificently caught the ball and was making
for the enemy's undefended line.  It was the kind of movement that
comes crashing into the mind of the spectator years later on without
cause or suggestion just because it is unique.

But he was not over the line yet.  Carter, the Ashminster centre, who
had captained his school for three years and played for the Harlequins
in the holidays, was in desperate pursuit.  It was a race from the
half-way line and Raikes had five yards' start.  Martin, crushed
against the ropes, hoarse and gasping, discerned with horror the deadly
speed of Carter.  It was growing dark and a November mist was creeping
over the great field: impossible to trace that relentless pursuit: one
could only wait and listen.  A roar went up.  Raikes had been collared.
The teams gathered round the fallen figures and the referee.  At last
they parted.  Ashminster remained on their line and Armstrong, the
Elfrey scrum-half, was bringing out the ball.  Raikes had fallen over
the line in a central position.  The school gave vent to a shout that
stirred Mr Foskett to quote Homer on the wounded Ares.  Llewelyn of
course took the kick.  A safe thing, one said.  But now, incredibly, he
failed.  The ball trickled feebly along the ground and a vague moan
passed down the ranks.

Six all and five minutes to go.  Play settled down near half-way.  Both
teams were fighting like devils: and still there were found men to go
down to the rushes.  Then the Ashminster back miskicked in an effort to
find touch.  Llewelyn had made a mark.  It was far off, but he was
going to have a shot at goal.  As the teams separated and Llewelyn
balanced the ball in the half-back's hands, there was silence.  Only
here and there a muttered voice would be heard as someone strove to
relieve the strain by objurgation.

"Callingham, you blighter, don't barge," or: "After you with my feet,
Ginger," or: "Hack that stinker Murray, he's oiled up two places."

Then, as Llewelyn took his run and the enemy charged, there was no
sound.  The ball went soaring up.  He had done it?  The mist was
ubiquitously damned.  Then the touch-judges behind the goals raised
their flags, a signal for the greatest roar of all.  The match was
over, gloriously over.  It only remained to charge headlong to the
tuck-shop and fight the whole game over again with ham and eggs or the
succulent cho-hone.

These were moments.

Football too brought other, more directly personal, moments.  There was
the occasion when Moore and Spots came down to watch the juniors of
Berney's and Martin scored a try beneath their awful gaze.  Surely it
was the very essence of triumph to see the enemy scowling on their
goal-line while Berney's sauntered away with the ball, and to know that
he and he alone was responsible for this cleavage of the hosts.  Martin
walked with all the tremendous humility of glowing pride.  It was the
first try he had ever scored, and Moore and Spots had seen it.

That evening Moore approached him after prayers.

"Hullo, Leigh," he said.  "You scored this afternoon, didn't you?"

"Yes," said Martin, making a desperate effort to conceal his
satisfaction.

"Well," answered Moore deliberately, "you hadn't any business to.
You're a forward and it isn't your job to cut the scrum and lurk about
for the ball.  They were pushing us and it was a mere fluke that they
kicked too hard.  Anyhow the half could have scored: it was only a
matter of going two or three yards.  You ought to have been in the
middle, shoving like hell.  See?"

"Yes."

"Well, don't lurk any more, or there'll be trouble.  It isn't a
forward's business to score tries.  Anyone can be a 'winger': it takes
a man to shove."

Moore was one of the old school of forwards.  He believed in foot-work
and read _The Morning Post_.

"So don't let me catch you loafing outside the scrum again," he
concluded.  "There's quite enough chaps doing that already."  And he
strolled away.

Moore was not a person of much imagination and he never saw that he was
not going the right way to make a great forward.  A word of
encouragement coming on the top of this, possibly injudicious, success
would have made Martin play like a devil.  Instead he deliberately
slacked for a week.

Indeed footer, in spite of its moments, became monotonous.  Martin had
to play four and often five times a week in all weathers, and very
often the sides were uneven and the game, consequently, a farce, a
shivery, cheerless farce in which everyone longed for the pleasant
signal for release.  By the end of term nobody liked the games and
everybody was as sick of the fields as of the classrooms.  If was not
merely that the games were too frequent, but that they were scarcely
ever treated as games.  As the end of the term approached, bringing
with it challenge cup matches for old and young, house feeling ran
strong and the various teams were goaded by their prefects with
relentless severity.  Sometimes whole fifteens would be swiped in turn
for their failure to win matches, quite irrespective of their capacity
to do so: slackness could always be alleged.  At Berney's, it was true,
no great rigour was displayed.  Had Spots been captain more blood might
have been shed, but Moore, who directed the house teams, was more
lenient and rarely went further than guttural abuse and threats.
Being, however, himself a forward, he instituted scrumming practice in
the evenings, and Martin found himself being pushed about the house
gymnasium at great pain to his ears and limbs, while larger boys
planted shrewd and stinging blows on the prominent portions of the
losing side: it was no fun being in the back row.  As he shoved and
groaned in the perspiring mass, there flamed across his mind the remark
of a well-meaning aunt: 'How you will enjoy the games!'  Martin was not
particularly weak or unathletic: his physique and taste for games were
quite up to the normal, but he did not stand alone when he proclaimed
to his friends his weariness with the official recreation which only
doubled life's burden.

"Of course," said Caruth, after scrumming practice one night, "it's
awfully good for us.  Bally influence and all that.  You know what the
crushers say."

"And they ought to know," added Martin, "as they never play, at least
not compulsorily."

"Anyhow," said Caruth, "there is one comfort."

"What is that?"

"We don't have to sweat it out like Randall's.  Their pre's make them
groise at it all day and all night."

"Good job.  The stinkers."

Martin's sympathy with the oppressed was not yet as strong as his
hatred of Randall's, the pot hunters, the unspeakable.

Work with the Terror was not always terrible: for Martin it even had
its moments.  He enjoyed turning out a good verse or a good
translation, and he enjoyed also the commendation that it won.  The
Terror, whose real name was Vickers, was a young man soured by
misfortune.  He had meant to go triumphantly to the Bar: he had
connections, he had brains, he would rise.  But a financial crisis in
the family had left him in despair, too old to enter for the Civil
Service, too poor to attempt the Bar in spite of his connections.  He
had drifted, of necessity, to the arduous, responsible, and despised
task of moulding the future generation.  The future generation, as
represented by the Lower Fifth, Classical, of Elfrey, seemed to Vickers
a loathsome crew, fit only to be the victim of the sarcastic tongue on
which he prided himself.  He hated the elderly bloods who remained
calmly and irremovably at the bottom of the form: he hated the
ink-stained urchins with brains who passed through his hands on their
way to higher things.  The Lower Fifth he held to be an abominable form
because it was neither one thing nor the other.  The teaching was not
mere routine, the soulless cramming of impenetrable skulls: on the
other hand, it wasn't like taking a Sixth.  There were times,
especially in the afternoons, when the frowst of the water-warmed room,
the dingy walls and desks, the ponderous horror of mistranslated
Æschylus, and the unmannered lumpishness of the human boy (average age
sixteen) would all combine to play upon his nerves and to rend the
amorphous thing which once had been an active, ambitious soul.  Wearily
he vented his wrath upon the form.

His method was, as a rule, the sarcasm courteous.  He lounged
magnificently while he played with his victim.

"Simpson!"  This to a clever but idle youth remarkable for his large,
inky hands and persistent untidiness of apparel.  There was something
in Simpson's grimy collars and straggling bootlaces that infuriated
Vickers.

"Simpson!"

"Yes, sir?"

"You owe me, I think, a rendering of Virgil."

"Please, sir, I haven't quite finished it yet, sir."

"And how much, may I ask, have you finished?"

"Well, sir, last night I had the Agamemnon chorus."

"I see, Simpson.  I see."

"Please, sir, I was very busy."

"Our Simpson was busy early this morning also, I suppose."

"Yes, sir."

"At your ablutions, I presume."

Here the form would laugh: Simpson's cleanliness was a standing joke.

"Please, sir, I didn't wake up very early."

"That was very distressing."

There was a silence.  "Well, Simpson?" Vickers would continue in his
softest tone.

Simpson gazed moodily at the desk, digging nibs into the wood.

"Our Simpson seems fonder of water than of Maro.  We must tighten the
bonds between Simpson and the poet.  May I say the whole of the first
Georgic this time?"

"Oh, sir."

"You think the quantity excessive?"

Simpson summoned up his courage and said he did think so.

"Ah, but the verse is so beautiful," came the answer.  "I couldn't
deprive you, Simpson.  Anyhow, you may begin your _magnum opus_ and let
me know when you have reached line two hundred."

"Yes, sir."

"Thank you, Simpson, that will be delightful.  You were translating,
Grant, I think."

Vickers aimed at being a strong man and he never set a grammar paper in
which he did not ask for a comment on the phrase:

"Oderint dum metuant."

"A capital sentiment, Simpson," he would say with his gentlest smile,
as he mouthed out the words.  But his pretensions were not idle, as was
shown by the fact that he could lose his temper without becoming
ridiculous.  If a weaker man had called the giant Batson 'a
contemptible ass,' Batson would have laughed and the form would have
sniggered.  But when Vickers flared up he commanded the silence of the
greatest.

Vickers had a gift of phrase and Martin learned much from him, partly
because he was so afraid that he always worked hard, and partly because
Vickers took a fancy to him and would give him little hints about
translation and composition which he did not choose to waste on the
ruck.  Martin was less inky and more intelligent than the average new
boy who was placed in the Lower Fifth.  Moreover, his fear of his
master was obvious, and there was no more effective method of
flattering Vickers than to fear him and to let your fear be seen.

Yet it was a relief, even to Martin, to escape from the tension of the
Terror's classroom to the turbulent relaxation that prevailed in the
dark chamber where Barmy Walters taught mathematics.  Old Barmy
suffered from acute poverty and incipient senile decay.  He had once
been a brilliant undergraduate at Cambridge and then a wrangler, a man
with a future: he now lived in a red-brick villa with a chattering wife
and two gaunt, unwedded daughters.  For nearly forty years it had been
his function to instruct the classical side in mathematics: he had
never been a strong man, never fitted for his work.  And so in spite of
all his brilliance as a mathematician he had missed promotion, seen his
chance of a house go by, and eventually lost grip.  To retire was
financially impossible (Elfrey was too poor a school to have a pension
fund), and he stuck to his work grimly, sitting beneath his blackboard
with an overcoat under his dusty gown, wheezing and grumbling and
looking for his glasses.  Plainly he could be ragged: and ragged he was
without mercy or cessation.  A couple of hours with the Terror had a
vicious effect on the tempers of his victims, and Barmy Walters found
in the Lower Fifth, coming straight from Vickers, torturers of a
fiendish devilry.

To begin with, there was the distribution of the instrument-boxes
before geometry.  The boxes stood in great piles at the end of the room
and it was the duty of the bottom boy to deal them round.  It was also
part of the established order of things that the bottom boy dropped the
two and twenty boxes with a series of slow and deafening crashes.  At
the end he would say: "Oh, sir, I'm so sorry."

And Barmy would answer: "Um, ah.  Really, really, you boys will shatter
my nerves.  How many times have I told you to be careful?  Um, ah!"

Then there would be a rush to recover the boxes, a long, clattering
rush with much jostling and swearing and spilling of ink, some of which
would find its way to Barmy's glass of water.  When peace had been
restored people would begin to ask questions, to demand elaborate
demonstrations on the blackboard, or to consume food.  Barmy's room was
renowned as a resort for picnics.  Biscuits were popular in winter, but
in summer there was a special line in fruit.  Once a daring individual
threw a biscuit at Barmy's head and hit him, whereupon he had to carry
to his housemaster a note which began:


"DEAR RANDALL,--Morgan struck me with a macaroon."


The conjunction of the words 'strike' and 'macaroon' so pleased Mr
Randall that he omitted to deal with Morgan.

All the obvious things were done to Barmy by one or other of his
classes.  Mice were brought into form and released, and once a grass
snake.  He found a hedgehog in his mortar-board.  Barmy had an idea
that fifty lines formed a long imposition and he used to whine out:

"Um, ah, boy, I'll give you a long day's work.  Take fifty lines."

He would enter the imposition in a note-book which he left in his
unlocked desk, and in the morning he would find 'shown up' written
against it in his own handwriting.  After a long day of wheezing and
grumbling about his shattered nerves Barmy would be seen mounting his
aged bicycle with fixed wheel and pedalling laboriously to the villa
and the chattering wife and the gaunt, unwedded daughters.  Yet perhaps
he was not altogether unhappy, for, if a master is to be ragged, he may
as well sink to the depths: the tragedy of the defenceless dotard has
less pathos than the suffering of the young man with ideals, whose
burning desire to teach well and to succeed is thwarted by just the
slightest lack of that presence and authority which make the master.

Undoubtedly, however, Barmy could be hurt, and Martin was not old
enough to understand the consummate brutality of the proceedings in
that dismal room.  Like all young schoolboys, Martin regarded a master
or crusher as a natural foe, a person with whom truceless war is waged.
If he is fool enough to let himself be ragged, that is his look-out: he
has all the resources of punishment on his side and if he cannot use
them he deserves no mercy.  So Martin worked off his vitality in
ragging, and, being of an ingenious turn of mind, became noted for the
improvisation of new japes.  He was patronised by the bloods of the
form and enjoyed himself hugely: without realising the nature and
results of his conduct, he even lay awake at nights devising new and
exquisite methods for completing the destruction of Barmy's nervous
system.



V

Every school, even so modern a foundation as Elfrey, has its
traditional rows, its stories of rags perpetrated on a colossal scale
by the heroes of old: but the modern schoolboy finds that, like fights,
they don't happen.  Martin's life moved calmly on and its monotony was
only broken by sundry interludes, painful or humorous, with masters or
prefects.  Still, ragging old Barmy was tame enough and only once was
he involved in a genuine row, an affair that counted and was history
for several years.  Partly because it was his only rag, and partly
because it chanced to occur in his first term, while he was still very
impressionable, the memory remained with him clearly and for ever.  It
is true also that he played a part in the drama and even was
responsible for its name, so naturally he remembered that notable
December night with its comradeship and perils and glorious achievement.

The end of term, so exasperating to the harried teacher, brings
exhilaration to the taught.  As Christmas approached Martin found
prefectorial discipline slackening and, though exams might mean harder
work in school, there was in the house a very agreeable relaxation of
tension.  Even games were taken less seriously, and one or two of the
more audacious spirits actually cut without detection.  But just as
Berney's began to slacken their reins, Randall's, the neighbouring
house, became more vigorous than usual: for Randall's were in the final
of the "footer pot."

Berney's always objected to Randall's.  This animosity might have been
accounted for by the mere fact of neighbourship, but there was more in
it than that.  As was Athens to Sparta, so was Berney's house to
Randall's.  Berney's stood always for an easy-going tolerance and,
though, for instance, it was not a particularly well-dressed house, it
left its nuts in peace.  In all its pursuits it was either brilliant or
ineffectual, and, if it did anything at all, it did it beautifully:
both in games and work it was a house of individuals.  A typical
batsman from Berney's would make three divine, soul-satisfying cuts and
be caught in attempting an impossible fourth: Berney's was never
thorough and never took defeat to heart.

Randall's, on the other hand, had no nuts and suspected with Draconian
severity the faintest traces of nuttishness.  The average member of the
house was tall and lumpy and sallow, badly dressed and with no grease
to his hair.  It was a standing joke with the school that Randall's
youths owed their yellow faces not only to general unhealthiness, but
also to a dislike of soap and water.  They trained like professionals
and made tin gods of their challenge cups.  They worked always with a
dull, sickening energy: they never had a decent three-quarter among
them, but won their matches by working the touch-line and scoring from
forward rushes.  Yet undoubtedly, despite all their ignorance of the
way things should be done, they achieved results.

Of course Berney's hated Randall's bitterly and for ever.  But towards
the end of term relations became more strained than was usual.  To
begin with, Randall's had defeated Berney's by thirty-five points to
three in the first round of the footer pot.  Once Spots had romped
away, but for the rest of the match the heavy Randallite scrum had kept
the ball close and pushed their light opponents all over the field.
And Randall's juniors had crowed over their triumph, had hailed every
fresh try with much shouting and throwing up of caps (it was generally
held that gentlemen showed their joy by reasonable yelling and that
only a low soccer crowd would hurl their caps into the air), and
behaved as offensively as could be expected.  Now Randall's prepared to
win the final as though the future of the world rested on their
efforts, while Berney's jeered from study windows or the house yard.
So Randall's sulked and refused to send back balls which were kicked
over into their yard, and Berney's had to scale walls secretly to
recover their property.  Nor did they always succeed.  But the actual
cause of open hostilities was the affair of Gideon.

Gideon's real name was Edward Spencer Lewis-Murray.  Some reader of Mr
Eden Phillpotts had called him Gideon because he was dark and had a
large nose.  Whether or not he was a Jew is immaterial.  Certainly he
not only went to school chapel, but consumed ham in large quantities.
One day he had been ragged about his nose and straightway he marched to
the tuck-shop, ordered an unparalleled amount of ham and pork sausages
(for he was wealthy) and devoured the entire feast before a large
assembly.  His capacity was enormous, and he thus gained two ends at
once: he demonstrated his loathing of Jewish practices and established
an undoubted record in consumption.

His nose, however, was certainly large, and the name of Gideon clung to
him: but he took his ragging sensibly, and, while remaining a butt, he
became, in a way, popular.  So when, a few days before the end of term,
he was shamefully mishandled by some members of Randall's the
Berneyites were furious and Gideon became temporarily a martyr and a
hero.  He had kicked a football into Randall's yard: then, having
shouted "Thank you" in vain, he had climbed over the wall to look for
it.  Shouts of "Gideon," "Berney's Yiddisher," "Jew-beak," "Back to
Joppa you dirty Jew-ew," and lastly a great roar of "Stone the dirty
Semite" had been heard.  And Gideon had not returned.  He had, it
turned out, been ceremoniously stoned--that is to say, he had been
lashed to a pillar in Randall's house gym, and pounded with footballs
thrown hard from a distance of five yards.  Then he had been stripped
and thoroughly washed in cold water: they had, he said, made jokes
about Jordan and total immersion.  He reappeared just before tea,
raging and very battered.  All through the meal his nose bled profusely
and it was a sign of the times that no one made jokes, the old,
inevitable jokes, about Gideon's 'konk.'

Berney's discussed the affair with animation.  Jew or no Jew, Gideon
was of Berney's and as such he deserved respectful treatment.  The
workroom seethed with wrath and Gideon revelled in hospitalities
hitherto undreamed of.  Even Cullen and Neave stooped from their
heights and actually led the wail of sympathy.

"The swine," said Neave.  "Forty of 'em lamming into one poor devil."

"Jaundiced Bible-bangers," said Cullen.  "I suppose they're praying now
for that mangy pot."

It was a traditional jest that Randall's had house prayers before cup
matches to invoke heavenly aid for their team.

"Let's hope Smith puts it across them."

There was a chorus of approval.

"My sainted aunt," Neave went on.  "Can't we do something?"

"What?"

"Can't we avenge our Gideon?"

It was then that Martin, standing timidly on the outskirts of the crowd
and drinking in every word of the great ones, remarked boldly:

"For Gideon and the Lord."

He raised a roar of laughter.  The school had been working at Judges
that term in divinity and the story of Gideon was familiar to all.
Martin's allusion to the Israelites' act of revenge was distinctly
opportune.  The ringing of the prep bell abruptly ended the
conversation.

On the following day Randall's put it across Smith's, scoring
twenty-eight points to nil.  Again the victory was due to forward
rushes.

"Not a decent movement in the match," said Spots angrily to Martin.
"It's scandalous that the pot can be won by a pack of well-drilled
louts."

Randall's began to stink in the nostrils of the whole school, for their
elation at their successes was always characteristic.  They revelled
with a serious, unconvincing revelry.  Other houses always celebrated
the occasion by demanding and obtaining ices (in mid-December) at the
school tuck-shop: it was a tradition and a noble one.  Randall's gorged
themselves with lumps of bread and ham.

Martin happened to walk back to Berney's just behind Cullen and Neave.
He would not have spoken to them had they not turned and addressed him.
It was condescension, and he appreciated it.

"Hullo," said Cullen.  "What about old Gideon?"

"I don't know," answered Martin.  "Can't anything be done."

"Possibly.  Do you remember what you said last night?"

"For Gideon and the Lord?"

"Yes."

"What about it?"

"We'll let you know in dormy to-night."

"Good.  That's ripping."

Proceedings in the lower dormy that evening were unusual.  Silence was
called and then Neave read from the book of Judges:

"And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and
held the torches in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right
hands to blow withal: and they cried, The sword of the Lord, and of
Gideon."

Then he continued: "That, my brethren, is the text.  And what is its
lesson for us here in a community such as ours?"  There was a laugh,
for he was beautifully constructing a lay sermon on Foskett's lines.
"Only to avenge our Gideon very mightily with pitchers.  To-morrow
night, as you may know, is the last night of term and our brothers next
door" (Cries of "Swine" and counter-cries of "Order") "will hold a
supper to celebrate their triumph in the playing-field.  Now it is a
good tradition of the Public Schools and a byword among clean-living
Englishmen" (Laughter, for it was sheer Foskett) "that we do pass the
last night of term in what my form master would call--thorubos.  A
Greek word, O Stinkers of the Modern Side.  My brothers, it is up to us
to infect Randall's with thorubos or disorder.  (Cheers and a voice,
"What about pitchers?")."

"Ah, my young friend, you hit the nail on its head.  As everybody
knows, to get on to Randall's gym is as easy as falling downstairs.
From there you can get to the fire ladders and up to Randall's dormies.
To-morrow night it is proposed to invade the dormies while the whole
house gorges below and listens to slush about their pestilential pots.
Meanwhile we snitch their water jugs and empty the water on their
little beds.  Then we bring the jugs back here and wait.  The windows
on this side of the dormy look out on the zinc roof of Randall's gym:
beyond is the dining-room, where the swine will be guzzling.  With
windows open we can easily hear what's going on.  When old Toffee
Randall gets up to propose his blighted house" (Neave had in his
excitement sunk from the level of the lay sermon) "I move that we chuck
all the empty jugs on that zinc roof and shout: 'For Gideon and the
Lord.'  There ought to be row enough to raise hell.  You know what
those roofs are ... and there will be forty pitchers.  They won't have
the least notion what the row is till they get upstairs and see their
beds.  They'll think it's a private rag of our own, but they'll learn
in due time.  Now don't anyone say a word.  We've got to keep this to
our dormy or the pre's are bound to find out."

The hurried arrival of Spots, followed by the extinction of the lights,
put an end to further devising of conspiracy.  For a long time Martin
lay awake, gazing at the ceiling and turning restlessly from side to
side.  Excitement, that terrible mingling of sheer joy and sheer
terror, gripped him, almost physically: as he thought of the splendours
and the perils of to-morrow night he felt as he had felt before when he
was walking down the study passage to the prefects' common-room and
listening to Spots's following tread.  What, he wondered, would be the
end of it all?  There would be a row, inevitably.  They might even be
kept back a day: that would be wretched.  But swiping?  He could endure
that for the glory of sharing in a rag, a colossal rag with Neave and
Cullen as leaders.  Besides he hated Randall's, hated them so bitterly
that the prospect of soaking their beds and smashing their pitchers was
heavenly even at the cost of swipings innumerable.  Nowhere is group
feeling more obvious and more powerful than in the world of youth.  In
a single term Martin had become so passionately one of Berney's that
his hatred of Randall's and their smudgy type of success made him
quiver with anger.  He didn't care a straw for Gideon's nose: nobody
really cared for Gideon's sufferings.  They were all linked by the
single bond of hatred.

It was Randall's that mattered ... the swine.

Naturally the last night of term was not distinguished for its
discipline.  There was, of course, no prep, and the dormitories were
open for packing.  Consequently it was not difficult for twelve members
of the lower dormy to creep out when Randall's had settled down to
their gorge and to range themselves along the gym roof.  It was
beautifully dark and dry: fortune was helping the cause of Gideon and
the right.  Neave and Cullen were to ascend the fire-escape and enter
Randall's two dormies, one taking each.  They were to go through the
cubicles, removing the jugs, soaking the beds, and handing out the
empty pitchers to others who passed them quietly down a line of waiting
figures.  This seemed the best, the quietest method of transport.
Ultimately all the jugs would be awaiting in Berney's lower dormy the
great moment of Toffee Randall's speech.  Martin formed one of the
hidden line and shivered for half-an-hour on the roof of Randall's gym
while he passed jugs carefully along.  Never in all his life had he
known a night like this.  He was thrilled by the sense of comradeship
in danger and the knowledge that he was working in the company of great
ones, working for the pain and humiliation of Randall's.  Never did he
forget the supreme exhilaration of that night attack: the climbing in
the dark, the whispers, the nervous strain, the dread of blundering and
betraying his party, the intolerable waiting.  Each movement of the
trees in Randall's garden made him think that the conspirators had been
noticed and that someone was coming.

At length every bed had been duly drenched and forty pitchers had been
silently transferred to Berney's lower dormy.  Each member of the
dormitory took two jugs, and four of them had three.  Then they waited.
They could see down into the lighted windows of Randall's dining-hall
where the enemy feasted; but the supper was drawing to its end.  By the
resounding chorus of "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" they knew that
Toffee Randall was "up" for the last speech of the evening.  When the
singing and cheering were over Randall began his oration.  At the same
moment Neave gave the signal.  Everyone in Berney's lower dormy cried
aloud, "For Gideon and the Lord," and, as they cried, forty pitchers
crashed on the zinc roof of Randall's gymnasium.  No one, not even the
manipulators of three jugs, had failed or been late.  There was but one
cry and one crash: and there on the zinc roof lay myriad morsels of
china, glittering in the half light thrown from the windows of either
house.  The noise had been terrific, the effect stupendous.

It was in the true spirit of the saga.

A moment later Spots dashed into the room.  "What the devil's all that
row?" he roared.

Everyone was peacefully in his cubicle, putting the last touch to his
packing or getting into bed.

"Randall's trying to be funny," suggested Neave.

"But didn't you shout?"

"Well, we helped a bit.  That din would have made anyone squeal.
Randall's must have been breaking china for the sake of their dirty
pot.  They are swine."

Spots looked baffled.  The row had been tremendous, yet here everybody
was calm and quiet.  It must have been Randall's, but they were still
at their supper.  It was amazing, it was a miracle.  To save his face
he returned to his study.

Meanwhile it was ascertained that, after some confusion, Toffee Randall
had continued his speech: then they heard the long-drawn, surging roar
of "Auld Lang Syne."  It took Randall's twenty minutes to finish "Auld
Lang Syne."

"The swine," said Neave.  He said it often, but he said it beautifully,
with a whining drawl of contempt.  "Just wait till they get to their
dormies."

So they waited, and presently the pandemonium began.  Randall's were
discovering that not a bed had escaped, not a jug remained.  As they
looked out of their windows on to the gym roof they realised the full
meaning of the battle-cry and the crash that had startled them at their
supper.

"Water, water everywhere," cried Cullen in ecstasy as he heard the
tumult rising in the neighbouring house.  Randall's, flushed rather
with insolence than the weak claret-cup of their supper, bellowed in
their dormitories and shouted from their windows: after all none but
Berney's could have done the deed.  It was sheer joy for Berney's as
they listened: wisely they made no answer and Randall's cried aloud in
vain.

Again Spots came into the lower dormy.  "What are Randall's shouting
about?" he asked.

"Joy of life," said Neave.  "The swine."

"Well they needn't yell at us."

"They've got no manners, Leopard."

Spots advised his dormy to take no notice of the creatures and again
went out.

Shortly before midnight Mr Randall rang at Mr Berney's front door and
demanded an interview with the master of the house.  Berney came down
in his dressing-gown: he was very tired and his eyes ached.  He was
promptly informed by his raging neighbour that his house had disgraced
itself, and he listened to a strange story of soaked beds and broken
pitchers.  "Must have been your boys," Randall ended fiercely.  "The
jugs couldn't be thrown on to my gym except from your dormitories.
There has been an invasion.  It's scandalous."

"But what evidence have you?" asked Berney, who hated Randall as only
one housemaster can hate another.

"It's obvious, man, obvious.  Jealousy.  Footer cup.  My boys were at
supper when the crash was heard: and your boys shouted, I heard them.
Besides, would my people soak their beds?  I demand an inquiry.  I
shall go to Foskett.  Your boys shall be kept back a day."

This roused Berney, whose nerves were already strained with fatigue and
worry.

"I entirely decline," he said sharply, "to board my boys for an extra
day to please you.  I shall put the matter in the hands of my prefects.
If that doesn't satisfy you, go to Foskett by all means.  You won't get
much out of him at this time of night: he's probably more tired than I
am.  If my prefects find that my boys----"

"There's no 'if,'" said Randall.

"If they find that we're responsible," Berney continued icily, "the
jugs shall be paid for and the guilty punished.  Good-night."  And he
led Randall to the door.

Randall was renowned for his temper and his powers of self-expression
in school.  But now he was sublimely speechless.

Berney held a nocturnal consultation with his form prefects.  They all
smiled as the tale was told.  Spots even roared with laughter.

"Er, Leopard," said Berney, "this is--er--a serious matter," and then
he broke down and laughed himself.  He and Randall had never hit it
off.  Spots told Berney of the suspicious innocence of the lower
dormitory.  Moore had been on duty all the evening in the upper room so
that its inhabitants were certainly not guilty.  The prefects marched
in a body to the lower dormy.  "Look here, you chaps," said Spots,
"it's all up about this jug business.  It was done here.  Who are the
culprits?"

Simultaneously every boy left his cubicle and said: 'Guilty.'  It was a
triumph of organisation.  Neave had foreseen that detection was
inevitable and had determined that, up to the very end, the dormy
should display its solidarity.

"Well," said Spots, "you'd better all come down to the pre's room."

So shortly before one o'clock eighteen boys in dressing-gowns, led by
Cullen and Neave in garments of great colour and splendour, went down
to the prefects' common-room.  There was just room for all.

Neave had to tell the whole story: he told it simply and well, duly
emphasising the Biblical aspect.

"Berney has left the matter with the prefect," said Moore, who was
suffering tortures from a half-thwarted desire to laugh.

"You'll have to pay for the jugs next term.  Randall wants you to be
kept back, but Berney wouldn't hear it.  Anyhow, it's been a grave
breach of discipline" (here he saw the impenetrable solemnity of
Neave's face and almost broke down), "grave breach of discipline.  Yes.
You're to have four each."

Martin sighed with relief, for he had expected eight.  They were taken
to the house gym, where space was ample, and with all four prefects at
work the business was soon over.  They were even allowed to keep on
their dressing-gowns.  Never had swiping been so farcical or so
inefficient.  When they were all back in their cubicles Spots came in.

"I'd have given a great deal," he said, "not to have been a pre
to-night.  It seems to me that we have scored off Randall's.
Gentlemen, I congratulate you, and I sincerely hope that no one has
been hurt by our recent ministration."

They assured him that they had not suffered.  And then, because they
were all going away very early the next morning, it was decided, with
Spots's permission, to abandon sleep.  Gideon had to make a speech and
offer thanks for the public revenge: and stories were told interminably.

Martin, as he lay half asleep, came to the conclusion that life's
burden was exquisite.  It wasn't only that the holidays began
to-morrow: the night's achievement had been perfect.  There is
something essentially satisfying to human nature in the lavish
destruction of property: with joy we watch the havoc wrought by the
cinema comedian or the pantomime knockabout, and with joy the patron of
fairs smashes the bottles in a rifle-range.  Martin revelled in the
thought that forty pitchers lay shattered and shimmering on the zinc
roof below him.  And now, more than ever, he felt the pleasures of
comradeship.  Randall's had been humiliated: Berney's had triumphed.
It was for him far the most significant fact of his first term that he
had taken part in an enterprise worthy to be recounted for ever in
Berney's.  He was proud of his dormy, for it had worked as one man.
Above all, he was proud of Neave, the contriver, the leader of men.
Even now he was saying:

"We've put it across them, the swine."

Then Spots said: "For Gideon and the Lord.  It was a great notion.  Who
thought of it?"

"Young Leigh gave the name," said Neave.

"Good for you, Leigh," shouted Spots.  "You're keeping up the
reputation of the Leopard's den."

Naturally that seemed to Martin the supreme moment of the whole superb
affair.



VI

At one o'clock in the afternoon of December the twentieth a motor car
left Tavistock station and tore fiercely westward until it reached the
excellent village of Cherton Widger.  Then it panted up an abrupt hill
and, passing a lodge, ran up a short drive to The Steading, a square
low-roofed house surrounded by irreproachable lawns that sloped away to
the coverts.  The chauffeur descended and carried on to the steps a
portmanteau and a corded play-box.  Martin, looking uncouthly smart in
a new overcoat (with a strap behind) and a bowler hat, stood rather
nervously by the door.  He had come home for the holidays.

In the hall he met his aunt.  He kissed her: or rather she kissed him.
His uncle burst out of his study and shook hands with him: his cousin
Margaret, aged fifteen, also appeared and shyly shook hands.  It seemed
that his cousin Robert, aged seventeen, would not escape from Rugby
till to-morrow.  Everybody began to ask him questions which he
mechanically answered.

"You must have left Elfrey very early," said his aunt.

"About seven."

"And in December too!  Had you got to?"

"No; but everybody does."

These well-meaning people did not realise that you do not stay at
school after term has ended.  Though you perish with cold and lack of
sleep, the first possible train is the only train.  Martin had secured
an hour's sleep, breakfasted at six, and caught his train at seven.
All the way to Exeter he had smoked.  About this smoking he had felt
afraid, for here was another new experience: but everyone else in the
carriage had smoked and there was no escape.  One of the boys had dealt
in cigars, another produced a pipe which he cleaned extensively and
smoked but little.  Martin had kept with the majority to cigarettes and
had laboured to disguise the swift nervous action of the novice beneath
the languid air of the connoisseur.  One thing at any rate was certain:
he had not been sick.  By the time he reached Exeter he was feeling a
little queer, but with a supreme effort he had staved off a disaster
which would have been fatal to his reputation.  And now he was
intensely hungry and found cold chicken and ham a very pleasant
substitute for the 'roast or boiled' with which the board of Berney's
was laden.  It was heavenly to sit once more in a comfortable chair in
a fire-warmed room and to have chicken and fresh bread and lemonade.

Martin was an orphan.  His guardian, John Berrisford, to whose house he
had just come, was his mother's brother.  His father had been most
things to most men, and despite, or possibly because of, his very
considerable ability he had achieved a rich versatility in failure.  He
had started by being a captain of industry, or perhaps a sub-lieutenant
would be a more accurate description; but his complete inability to
remain awake in the office between the hours of two and four had put a
sudden end to his commission.  On parting from his general he had said:

"It's no use your getting chaps from the varsity to give the show tone.
They won't work till they have had their tea."  The general had sworn
and taken his advice.

Richard Leigh then discovered that he had been so damnably well
educated that there was nothing for him to do but think.  So he thought
and wrote and went hungry.  Now and then, to give his creditors a run
for their money, he became a commission agent or an architect or a
producer of plays.  But he never paid very much in the pound.  At the
time when he met Joan Berrisford, a young woman of property, he was
once more engaged in thought.  She was beginning to feel the need of
permanence in her life and was quickly interested in his work and the
giant despair which he swore was the greatest of his creations.
Virginity bored her: Richard attracted her: possibly her conscience
stung her: for she was suddenly struck by the idea that she might repay
society for her dividends by rescuing for society an artist whom it
didn't want.  Nowadays this would seem reasonable enough, because we
don't believe in democracy any longer and shower divine rights on
anyone who chooses to call himself an intelligent minority and make
himself sufficiently objectionable: but at the time when the incident
occurred Joan Berrisford was certainly thinking in advance of her age.
Everybody said she was a fool to pay any attention to the creature, for
she came of the class that thinks every artist has necessarily
something wrong with him.  Only her brother John pointed out that
Joan's husband was, primarily, Joan's affair, and then, to her intense
delight, he had added that he didn't care twopence whom she married as
long as the rest of the family hated him.

The marriage was a success.  Richard threw off his despair and gave
society some excellent books of which it took no notice.  They lived in
Italy, and there Martin was born.  When he was only eight his mother
died suddenly and his father came to London.  He had been left
comfortably off by his wife, but after her death the old restlessness
returned: he gave up writing and gambled gracefully on the Stock
Exchange--that is to say, he bore his continual losses with an
exquisite nonchalance.  Martin used to go to a day school and was
enabled by his brains and some sound teaching to win a good scholarship
at Elfrey.  Then in August his father had succumbed to a long illness
and the boy was left to the guardianship of his uncle, John Berrisford,
to whom Richard Leigh had written the following letter:


DEAR JOHN, You are the only one of my relations by blood or marriage
with whom neither Joan nor I ever quarrelled.  And so, just because you
left us alone, I can't leave you alone.  I want you to be Martin's
guardian, in case this illness should do for me: you have seen
something of him and I know you like him.  There is no home in the
world to which I would sooner entrust my son than yours.  I have only a
thousand pounds and I want him to be decently educated.  You have a
family and I should hate to think that I was burdening you.  So you
must just go for the capital: he has a good scholarship at Elfrey and
ought to get one at Oxford.  In that case the thousand pounds ought
just to see him through.  It's plainly no use investing for fifty
pounds a year.  Don't encourage him to be an artist: he can't afford
it.  Besides it's a poor life to be a wanderer when you're old, and
that's what he would be without money.  If he seems inclined for safety
and the Civil Service, let him take his chance.  Anyhow I trust you
absolutely.  Yours ever,

RICHARD LEIGH.


So Martin had spent the last three weeks of his summer holiday at The
Steading and thither he had now returned.

John Berrisford was a round, ruddy little man who was too English to be
like Napoleon and too Napoleonic to be like an English squire.  In all
matters of theory, especially moral and political, he was fiercely
progressive, in all matters of taste a conservative.  He combined
revolutionary fervour with a strong belief in old customs, old cheese,
and old wine.  He ran a small estate on which he gave his labourers a
twenty-shilling minimum, decent cottages, and free beer on festal
occasions, and to the grief of the neighbouring farmers he made it pay.
Sport of all kinds attracted him, and on Saturdays in the autumn and
winter he would bring down partridges and pheasants with remarkable
certainty, but he was sufficiently logical not to cap his battues by
going to church on the following day.  He made friends with everybody
and was criticised by the squires for being a rebel and by the rebels,
of whom the village had two, for being a squire.  This amused him
intensely and his first answer to all criticism was a drink.  Then he
would start out magnificently to justify his position.  "I get the best
of everything," he said, and meant it.

Martin, of course, missed his father's companionship: they had lived on
very intimate terms and the customary limitations of the parental
relationship had been broken through.  But it is the privilege of youth
to forget easily, and it was fortunate for Martin that almost directly
after his father's death he should have been plunged into a new world,
a world whose thronging cares and pleasures gave few moments for
reflection.  By the time he had returned to The Steading his
personality had so grown and developed that he was freed from painful
memories and able to enjoy his holidays.

The Berrisfords were people of sound sense, and seeing what manner of
boy he was made no effort to entertain him.  Robert, the son at Rugby,
was seventeen and a prefect, so that Martin was afraid of him and kept
aloof: of Margaret, as a girl, he was naturally shy.  He preferred to
wander alone in the fields and coverts, now marking the ways of bird
and beast, now plotting out his future and building up strange
fantasies of thought.  Ever since he had been a tiny boy he had played
with himself a game of imagination in which he fused his personality
with that of a mysterious hero called Daniel.  Always when he got into
bed he would become Daniel until he fell asleep and in imagination he
would go through great adventures and sufferings and triumphs.  Daniel
was very strong and brave and perfect: perhaps Martin had been
influenced by Henty's heroes.  Daniel's life varied with Martin's own
vicissitudes.  When Martin read Ballantyne, Daniel was the son of a
trapper and wrought wonderful deeds among the Esquimaux and Redskins on
the shores of Hudson's Bay: when Martin was under his father's
influence he abandoned trapping and came home to write wonderful books
about grizzly bears: when Martin's thoughts were centred on his
preparatory school, Daniel had laboured at the verbs in [Greek: -_mi_]
and been the finest athlete in the land.  At Elfrey, Daniel had
suffered an eclipse, as always happened when Martin had anything very
much to think about: at Berney's he had either been tired enough to
fall asleep immediately or else he had had something on his mind,
to-morrow's repetition, an order of Leopard's, or a game of football.
And, besides, Martin had reflected that such methods of amusement as
the 'Daniel game' were childish and quite incompatible with the dignity
of a Public School boy.  But at The Steading the temptation to restore
Daniel to life became very urgent and Martin at length swallowed his
scruples.  While he lay in his bed or wandered in the woods he would
become Daniel once more, a Daniel at Elfrey, a prodigious Daniel, who
surpassed all records in popularity, played stand-off half for the
school at the age of fourteen, endured the most tremendous swipings
without a moan or a movement, and was irresistible at every game he
took up.

Mrs Berrisford was somewhat distressed by Martin's solitary walks and
quiet ways and made several efforts to draw him from his shell.  But
she made the mistake of trying to base the conversation on his
experiences at school and the result was not encouraging.

"And who is your form master?" she began one evening.

"Chap called Vickers."

"Is he nice?"

"Oh, he's all right.  Bit of a terror sometimes."

"Does he go for you?"

"Not for me very much."

A pause.  "And what's Mr Berney like?  Do you get on with him?"

"Oh, he's all right."

"Do you like the house?"

"Yes; it's quite all right."

"Have you any special friends?"

"No one in particular.  I like most of the chaps."

"How do you get on with football?"

"Fairly well."

And then she gave it up.  Without being openly rude Martin had made it
plain that he was not to be bolted from his earth of modified optimism.

When Martin had gone to bed John Berrisford pointed out to his wife
that she had taken the wrong line.  "Martin is just old enough and wise
enough to be thoroughly self-conscious," he said.  "He resents
questions about school because he thinks you're regarding him as a
schoolboy and playing down to him.  Talk to him about Botticelli or
Free Trade or Beerbohm Tree."

"What nonsense," said Mrs Berrisford.  "He's only fourteen.  It's just
shyness."

But on the following morning she took her husband's advice and found
that, as usual, he was right.

There was a good collection of books in the house and Martin was
allowed to pick and choose.  John Berrisford suffered some anxiety from
the problem of free choice: he was not concerned about the boy's
morality; because he knew that no power in the world can alter human
nature.  So when he noticed that Martin took down _Tom Jones_ and read
only a portion of it, and later on paid great heed to _The Sentimental
Journey_, he had the good sense to say nothing at all.  What worried
him was the fear that Martin would read many really good things before
he was able to appreciate them and might thus be prevented or
prejudiced from reading them in after life.  For instance, when Martin
struggled with Robert Louis Stevenson and called him dull, his uncle
knew well enough what was wrong.  On the other hand, he dreaded
dictating a course of reading or advising the boy in any way, for he
knew the value of spontaneous selection and remembered the vivid
loathing which he himself had felt for 'advised' books and the infinite
lure of the forbidden fruit.  So he discreetly held his peace, hoping
that Martin would be able to return to Stevenson without prejudice.

A few days before the end of the holidays the whole family went up to
town to see the theatres.  Martin was old enough to appreciate the
pantomime and would have sat there till three in the morning readily.
He was bored by the interminable ballet and the garish medley of
flashing lights and countless colours which most of the audience liked
so much, but the comedians and the more humorous scenic effects he
found perfect.  Besides, as a Public School boy and grown-up person, he
had to admire Robinson Crusoe when, in gleaming fur-trimmed tights, he,
or rather she, so irresistibly sang:

  "Somebody wants me surely,
  Some heart bleeds for mine."

No less fascinating was the comedienne with her: 'Cupid got a Bull that
Time,' and the comic man's triumph: 'There are Lots of Funny Things
about a Clothes-Line.'

At last the end came and Martin went to meet the special to Elfrey.  He
was afraid that his uncle and aunt were making a great mistake in
proposing to see him off.  He wondered whether it was done, whether you
could possibly appear on the platform surrounded by relations.  As
usual his fears were not justified and he found the station full of
mothers and sisters.  Everything went well, and as they walked through
the crowd Martin noticed a group of bloods with Leopard in their midst.
Spots saw him and greeted him quite effusively.  It was a tremendous
moment, and afforded Martin a fine thrill of pride.

"Who was that?" asked his aunt.

"Oh, that was Leopard.  He's a pre at Berney's.  An awful blood, and
ripping too."

Somehow or other he had never informed the Berrisfords that he did
menial work or wrote Greek prose for another.

Then he came across Cullen and Neave, resplendent with white spats and
yellow canes.  They too were ready to greet him, almost as if he were
one of their chosen circle.

"Got a seat?" said Neave.

"No."

"Well come into our carriage.  We want to get a gang of Berney's.  Two
swine from Randall's had the cheek to shove their bags in here, but
when they sloped away to get papers we plugged their stuff into the
guard's van and now they can't find their carriage.  You'd better bag a
pew here."

This was fame and ecstasy indeed.  Martin hurriedly said good-bye to
his uncle and aunt and made certain of his place in Neave's carriage.
When the train had left the station they settled down to talk and for a
splendid half-hour they refought the battle of the pitchers.  Then they
talked theatres and ultimately the more experienced told of amorous
conquests.  Martin had been content to listen for the most part and now
he relapsed into complete silence.  He supposed there must be something
in this girl business, though as yet he didn't understand.  But he was
not unhappy.  He sat with the forefinger and thumb of his right hand in
his waistcoat pocket and felt the milled edges of two sovereigns which
his uncle had just given him.  Two pounds, forty shillings, four
hundred and eighty pence!  He possessed the equivalent of one hundred
and sixty poached eggs or two hundred and forty ham rolls.  It was a
ravishing thought.



VII

Scholars, like nations, are happiest when they have no history: judged
by that standard, both Elfrey School and Berney's house must have been
fortunate.  Everything ran smoothly and Martin flourished in mind and
body.  He not only reached the Upper Sixth in the shortest possible
time, but also played with average success in his house teams.  Without
being a brilliant scholar, he always did sound work: without being a
born athlete, he could easily hold his own among boys of his size and
age.  Generally speaking, he had no adventures.  Beyond a few petty
rows with masters and prefects, such rows as fall inevitably to the lot
of all, be they sinners or saints, he pursued an even course and found
in life a quite tolerable combination of boredom and excitement.  His
main interest consisted now, as before, in discoveries.

Religion is always a field for engrossing, if unprofitable,
exploration.  Until the time arrived for his confirmation Martin had
adopted the average position of his kind.  He had taken everything for
granted, but his acceptance had implied neither strength of faith nor
the application of faith to the phenomena of workaday existence.
During chapel he had chanted the psalms and sung the hymns when the
music or his own mood encouraged him to do so.  Hymns like 'Fight the
good fight,' which offered an opportunity for a good, throat-bursting
yell, he had always enjoyed: his young emotions had at times been
touched by the more sentimental tunes and he found 'For all Thy saints'
peculiarly affecting.  He was not so impassive as the average Elfreyan
who could easily forget the sermons of the Reverend Frank Adair, the
one master who had the courage to let himself go when he preached and
the ability to gain his effect.  Adair could grip Martin and make him
feel a very weak vessel.  Foskett delivered an address from time to
time, exhortations, as a rule, on the duties of a gentleman and the
traditions of school life.  As he never dealt with concrete instances
or dabbled, as did one or two preachers, in thrilling casuistry of the
study or the cricket field, no one paid much attention to his
high-pitched voice and rapt expression.  During the repetition of
prayers Martin's thoughts wandered to secular subjects, prep, and
games, and So-and-so's chances of a cap: and he knew, as he gazed at
the long rows of kneeling figures, that nineteen out of twenty minds
were engaged upon the same topics.

Most boys took confirmation very much as a matter of form, as something
you had done to you at some time or another.  Perhaps they prayed a
little longer at night, for it was the custom to say prayers, and the
traditional shoe, had it been flung, would more probably have been
aimed at the shirker than the devotee.  But otherwise they were
unaffected.  Martin took a deeper interest because he had listened
closely to an address in which there had been almost a definite promise
that the first Communion would bring a gift, a spiritual reality about
which no mistake could be made.  He was curious to discover what
exactly this gift was and how it would feel to be filled with the Holy
Ghost.  So he awaited with more enthusiasm than most the day of his
strengthening in the Church.

Confirmation stirred him because the bishop spoke warmly and, as
bishops go, sensibly.  But first Communion was a disappointment.  He
had expected so much, he had looked forward with so tense a curiosity
to the receiving of a priceless and unknown gift, and he had to admit
that he felt exactly as he had felt before.  It couldn't be, he
decided, his own faith that was lacking, for he had gone to the
sacrament in perfect confidence about the blessing that was to come,
and he resolved to continue his search for the truth and the help that
it would bring.  So for two terms he attended the Communion with fair
regularity.  But still nothing happened, the promise seemed to him
unfulfilled, and he came to the conclusion that it was no use going on.
For the future he lay in bed on Sunday mornings and listened to the
faithful washing and groping for their studs.  The position of the
sceptic had, after all, its consolations.

In course of the following holidays he discovered among some
paper-covered books of his uncle's a three-penny copy of Blatchford's
_God and My Neighbour_.  He read it through almost without a break, for
he had just reached the necessary stage to appreciate it.  The short,
stabbing sentences and the obvious good-will of the author made a great
impression upon him, and he was thrilled by the peroration and flaming
appeal for a world set free from kings and priests and all such
evil-doers.  He caught the spirit of the book at once and read it aloud
to himself, rejoicing:

"'Rightly or wrongly, I am for reason against dogmas, for evolution
against revolution: for humanity always: for earth, not heaven: for the
holiest trinity of all--the trinity of man, woman, and child.'

"This," he thought, "is literature."

And then the final thunderclap: "'Let the holy have their heaven.  I am
a man, and an Infidel.  And this is my apology.  Besides, gentlemen,
Christianity is not true.'"

Martin saw it all now: Christianity was not true: it was a lie and a
fraud kept alive by priests and bishops with a view to salaries.  He
wanted very much to speak to his uncle and question him about science
and the New Testament authorities, but, though they were on very
intimate terms, he dared not approach him on this occasion.  The reason
was that he had taken the book from a cupboard usually locked.  Martin
had found the key by accident while his uncle was up in town and could
not resist the temptation to look through the hidden literature.  So he
put the books away and remained silent.

But when he went back to Elfrey he felt that he could no longer
restrain the gushing fountain of secularism, and he determined to talk
to a Berneyite called Gregson.  Martin was sixteen and a member of the
Upper Sixth: Gregson was a year older and in the same form.  He was
much less adaptable than Martin, hated all games, and had taken up the
position of school heretic.  In the evenings they used to settle the
problem of the universe over cocoa and sardines, and there was nothing
on which they had not touched.  Martin had picked up some revolutionary
politics from his uncle and he was delighted to find in Gregson a
disciple of William Morris.  At one time they had been joint leaders of
Liberalism in the school debating society (they had one follower in a
house of thirty), but now, to the great joy of the Tories, they turned
to Socialism and lashed their former supporter.  Consequently it was
natural for Martin to approach Gregson on the subject of doubt, and to
his great surprise he found that Gregson knew all about it.  As a
matter of fact there could have been few more fruitful grounds for the
seed of scepticism than Gregson's soul.  Gregson had an acute
hair-splitting brain and an abhorrence of emotion: he came from a
country parsonage, and he had to attend church in the holidays whether
he liked it or not: moreover he had a brother at the varsity who
possessed a great genius for blasphemy and a quantity of rationalist
pamphlets.  Gregson took up comparative religion, used long words, and
became very bitter.

"Why didn't you let on that you were an agnostic?" asked Martin.

"Oh, it's no use.  They think you're wicked.  It's best to wait till
you have escaped from this prison before you open your lips."

"But you might have told me."

"I thought I'd let you find out for yourself.  It was bound to happen."

Martin was surprised at Gregson's certainty.

"Bound?" he asked.  "Very few people doubt."

"All rational people doubt," said Gregson with decision.  "Tell me
this.  How can God be all-good and all-powerful and leave misery in the
world?"

Martin had a vague idea that there was an answer to this.  "Training, I
suppose," he answered weakly.

"Yes, that's what the bishops say.  Good for people to be poor,
strengthens the fibre and all that.  And back they slope to their
palaces.  But what I want to know is, why this beastly training?  If
God was all-powerful, the thing could be done without it and we would
all be angels at once.  After all, why should people die of cancer or
inherit filthy diseases?"

Martin didn't see why they should.

"And then there's the Atonement," Gregson continued.  "There's a
childish story for you.  First, it seems, God made men: then He was
angry because He hadn't made them good enough.  Then, just to complete
the muddle, He found it necessary to kill His Son to pay for the sins
of the people whom He might have made perfect if He had wanted to.
That's not good enough, thank you."

It was just the type of sharp, bitter-phrased reasoning to complete the
extinction of Martin's spark of faith.  At first Gregson's violent
attitude naturally drove Martin to a modified defence of religion, but
Gregson carried far too many guns when it came to a battle of argument.
He could make great play with his comparative religion, and Martin used
to leave Gregson's study with a wealth of new phrases ringing in his
ears: at last he could think of nothing but solar myths and gods of
dying vegetation.  It seemed to him very strange that the world should
continue to pay any attention to the monstrous imposture which the
combined efforts of Blatchford and Gregson had shown Christianity to
be.  But his discoveries did not make him unhappy: he had his secular
socialism and, as religion had never formed a vital element in his
life, its loss could involve no pain.



VIII

Martin derived from his study a rich and constant enjoyment.  True that
it was a diminutive box of a place: true that in winter he had to
choose between freezing with an open window or enduring the atmosphere
that only hot-water pipes can create.  There would be rows too outside,
in the passage, scuffling and ragging and the singing of all the latest
successes.  But after the dusty turmoil of the workroom it was a
possession and, though Martin was not at that time the kind of person
to care intensely about his surroundings or little pieces of property,
he took a definite pride in his books and pictures.  He was old enough
now to be above actresses: other and greater persons might bedeck their
walls with fair women, but Gregson and he had decided that such things
were only good for the army class.  The Upper Sixth, Classical, should
have traditions and its traditions should include the things of art.
Gregson, on the advice of a Cubist cousin, brought back to Elfrey some
modern studies of the nude, but Mr Berney discovered them and after a
close examination came to the conclusion that the objects depicted were
women.  Then he thought the matter over and nervously demanded their
removal.  This naturally fanned the flame of Gregson's bitterness
against the world of school and led him to hold forth copiously to
Martin, who enjoyed his rich outbursts of invective.

"Poor old Berney," he would say.  "I suppose we can't blame him.  He
doesn't understand.  Ma B. hasn't got further than Matthew Arnold and I
don't suppose either of them ever heard of a chap called Wilde.  [Wilde
was tremendously the god of Gregson's rebellious soul.]  They'll live
and learn.  I suppose some day schools will be reasonable places."

Gregson was not really a prig or a bore, but at times he ran the risk
of combining the parts.  The Public School system does just as much
harm by isolating the thinker and driving him into an immature and
self-conscious spirit of opposition as it would if it crushed him
altogether.  Gregson did not get on with the prefects.  He used to
allude to the Iron Heel of their system, despised their methods of
keeping order, and exposed to Martin the futility of entrusting matters
of conduct to swollen-headed athletes who could only just struggle into
the History Sixth.

"They don't know what they're doing and don't care what they do.  If
they see or hear anything they haven't seen or heard before they
trample on it.  They all crib in form themselves and go for kids when
they crib."

"That's very British," said Martin, who could still mistake a platitude
for an epigram.

"British or foreign, it's all alike.  Just as capital sits on labour
everywhere, so muscle is still on top all over the world.  It's worse
at school than anywhere, but it's the Iron Heel all the same."

Martin agreed to these sentiments at the moment but gave little thought
to their bearing.  He was less rebellious than Gregson and was on
reasonably good terms with all the present prefects except Heseltine.
Also his pictures had not been banned.

Martin combined with the society of Gregson a strong friendship for a
pleasant but unintellectual person called Rayner.  Rayner was robust
and practical and efficient: he took everything for granted, his
education, his prospects, and his religion.  He never questioned
anything, not because he was too lazy, but because it never struck him
as a normal thing to do.  Naturally Martin had to discriminate
carefully between the topics of conversation with his various friends.
With Rayner he talked of cricket and football, the chances of this man
and the failure of that, the reasons for England's success at
Twickenham and Scotland's failure at Inverleith, the prospects of the
varsities in their different contests.  Above all, Rayner was sound
about food.  Gregson was too superior to 'brew' extensively, so on
half-holiday afternoons in winter Rayner and Martin used to collaborate
in the production and consumption of food.  They were both well off for
pocket-money, and between them they would often devour a dozen or more
sausages, a tin of sardines and a large bunch of bananas, not to
mention the accompaniments of the feast, cocoa and bread and jam.
Martin was a strong eater, but it was Rayner who really achieved the
bulk of the work: together they defeated all rivals and established a
house record.  After feeding-time they would lie torpid in a heavenly
frowst reading _Wisden's Annual_ or sixpenny magazines.  Gregson
secretly despised Martin for enjoying these plebeian orgies, but he
could not afford to quarrel since that would have meant the loss of his
only audience.

It was into the life of this Martin, the intermediate Martin, who was
neither the servant of Spots nor the commander of servants, that Anstey
rushed in.  Anstey was a small clever boy who had climbed to the Lower
Sixth at great speed: he had not only considerable ability, but also
possessed a genius for covering the gaps in his knowledge or reading
and he would talk with Martin about authors he had never read.  His
manners and appearance were charming and he played half-back for
Berney's second team with skill and pluck.  Without being made
conceited by the influential friendships which he found awaiting him
wherever he turned, he had a quiet manner of self-assertion which
fascinated Martin.  And so when Rayner or Gregson came to Martin for a
talk they would find Anstey chatting away with his feet on the table.
Then Rayner would go away hurriedly, for he thought Anstey a frivolous
and unreliable creature, and if ever there was a reliable man at Elfrey
it was Rayner.  Gregson's objections to Anstey were based on the
latter's sentimental attachment to the Catholic faith.  On first
acquiring a study Anstey had bought 'Peggy' and the usual pictures:
three weeks later he was converted, exchanged 'Peggy' for a Madonna,
and dotted the room with candles.

To Martin, Anstey would talk on any subject, from religious experience,
which he had not undergone, to the beauty of his elder sisters which
was equally fictitious.  At times they read together, prose and poetry,
Classics and English, and after reading they would launch out into vast
discussions.  In the Christmas holidays Martin went to stay with the
Ansteys in Kensington: he was disappointed in the sisters, who indeed
took very little notice of him, but Cyril Anstey was more than usually
charming.  They wandered about London together, went often to the play,
and spent far more money than the Anstey family could afford: but of
course Martin did not know that.  It was not, however, until the summer
term that Martin's friendship for Cyril Anstey reached its height; now
at last he discovered how limited and pent up all his school life had
been.  He had had no enthusiasms.  Religion had no appeal for him, the
ancient literatures had been so fouled by pedantic notes and
introductions that they had not moved him as they should have done, for
games he had only a lukewarm affection.  He liked discussing teams and
the chances of teams, but he had never had personal successes in
athletics; while he knew that the correct hitting of a ball might be
one of life's most splendid things, his experience of that pleasure was
too fragmentary to satisfy his appetite.  His talks with Gregson had
been enjoyable, for they had given him an opportunity to let himself
go: but life, on the whole, this life at school which was universally
supposed to teem with opportunities, had become monotonous and barren.
One could live without feeling.

But Anstey made a difference.  On Sunday afternoons or whenever through
the week they could escape from cricket, they wandered together on the
downs and lay on the short grass watching the white clouds sailing
majestically like galleons in the blue dome above them and listening to
the larks and the charge of the wind.  Below them were the school
towers and the green patch of playing-fields and the glittering pool of
water where in summer one bathed: behind them ran the smooth sweep of
the downs, clear-cut against the sunset and firm and strong as when the
Roman came and built his camp upon the brow and threw his road across
the hill, despising these grassy slopes as befitted one who knew the
Apennines.  Here were line and colour and wind and a freshening spirit
that was alien to the stuffy town below: here was something to enjoy in
peace, something which made the Georgics real and the world something
more than a place to live in.

And Anstey had brought him to the downs.  The average Elfreyan thought
climbing that slippery turf a horrid sweat, connected it with the
compulsory runs of winter, and preferred to lounge in his arid house
yard.  Until now Martin had avoided the downs, because it wasn't the
thing to go there: but when he had found the dip to Friar's Hanger and
the great wood of larches beyond, he cursed the game of cricket and
longed to escape from the tyranny of games.  He had taken beauty for
granted just as he had taken goodness and truth for granted: somehow
they existed and that was all.  Now he found the idea suffusing visible
things and he knew how much he had missed by lounging in Berney's yard.
A new door was opened.  It had been opened by Anstey and the light from
within was reflected on the opener, transfiguring for Martin the swift
grace of his movements and giving to the rapid stream of his thoughts a
depth which they really lacked.  A dam had burst and Martin had no
longer to seek an outlet for his emotions.  Gladly he entered on
strange paths of sentiment, and he no longer deceived himself with the
lie that his friendship with Anstey was comparable to his friendship
for Gregson or Rayner.  One afternoon they found a new path and a new
hollow where the young bracken made a couch softer than the bare
hill-side.  Here there was no clack of cricket balls, no nets, no
shouting of 'Heads' and terrified ducking.  Only the wind whispered in
the bracken and an old sheep grunted in the sun, for the weather was
warm and he should long ago have been sheared.

The two boys lay in silence, pretending to read.

"It's ripping of you to be bothered with me," said Martin suddenly.

"What do you mean?" said Anstey.

"I mean that you aren't my sort.  You see things much more quickly than
I do.  You don't plod like me."

"I haven't your brains--that's the truth."

"No, it isn't.  Of course it isn't."  Yet Martin was half-conscious
that he lied.  His affection for Anstey had forced him to tell a
needless falsehood in a futile effort to quiet the voice which cried
within him: "He isn't good enough for you."  Then he added: "You've
shown me all this."

"I may see things you miss," said Anstey, "but I've no practical
ability, no thoroughness.  Anyhow I'm glad if I've given you something
in return for what you have given me."

Martin had bought books for Anstey, Synge at five shillings a volume.
He had been proud of knowing about Synge at school.

"Oh, that was nothing," he answered.  But it had meant fewer sardines
and sausages when he fed with Rayner.

"Then we're quits, dear old fool."

"Why old fool?"

"For taking me seriously."

"Why shouldn't I?"

"Nobody else does.  I amuse them and they like me all right.  But I
think you really care----"

"Yes, of course.  Honestly, I care."

They lay in silence, looking at one another.

Later on they went headlong down the slopes and assuaged their heat by
bathing in the pool, which was almost deserted.  It was still warm
enough to lie on the soft banks so that the setting sun might dry their
bodies.

They were late for house tea.

At this point Heseltine comes into the story.

He was head of Berney's, a fact of which he was most painfully aware.
Though not prominent in games, he was sound in all branches of life:
above all, he was a man with an influence, a force for good, one of
Foskett's darlings.  He held strong views on the duty of a prefect and
the possibility of 'feeling the school's moral pulse.'  Berney's
objected to his constant attentions: the house preferred to have its
pulse unfelt.  Everyone resented Heseltine's new rules and posted
notices and petty interference, but of all Berneyites the most opposed
to Heseltine in spirit and conduct was Anstey.

That night Heseltine asked Martin to see him after prep.

"Oh, I want to have a chat with you," said Heseltine when Martin
arrived.  "Just one friend to another."

"Yes," said Martin suspiciously.

"You've been going about a lot with young Anstey," the prefect went on.

"Yes."

"I don't want to seem interfering" (sure sign, Martin knew, that he was
going to interfere), "but I think I ought to warn you against him.
He's not good enough for you.  His record isn't a good one."

"He's in the Lower Sixth."

"I know that.  He's clever enough.  But we've had trouble with him.  He
doesn't fit into things: he's dangerous."

Martin wanted to say: "You think everybody dangerous who has more
brains than you."  As a matter of fact he said: "Oh?"  There was
something formidable about Heseltine.

"Of course," he continued, "one can't be too careful in matters of this
sort.  In a community like this sentimental attachments won't do.  We
prefects are responsible for the moral health of the school and we've
got to keep our fingers on its pulse...."  He prosed away and Martin
regarded the literature he favoured.  He read, it seemed, Seton
Merriman and the publications of the Agenda Club.  Suddenly he realised
that Heseltine was saying: "I want you to promise me to see less of
him."

Martin flared up at once.  "I don't see why," he said angrily.

"I've given my reasons.  He's not a fit friend for you."

"Surely that's for me to judge."

"You're not infallible.  I'm only speaking for your good.  I should
like to have your promise.  I know I can't compel you, but I ask it as
a favour."

"I think my friends are my own affair," answered Martin, infuriated by
what he considered to be the oiliness, the furtive oiliness, of
Heseltine's methods.

During the next three days Martin was constantly with Anstey and, as a
result, Heseltine declared war.  He definitely forbade the friends to
visit each other's studies without permission, and on the following
evening he swiped Anstey for impertinence.  To swipe a member of the
Sixth was a violation of tradition but not of law.  Not even Anstey
could have denied that he had been sublimely impertinent, but his
appeal was to custom.  Heseltine smiled calmly and said that he
couldn't be limited by hide-bound traditions when the maintenance of
discipline was at stake.  He enjoyed his triumph and did not spare his
victim.

The news came to Martin through Rayner, who, though secretly pleased at
Anstey's discomfiture, honestly admitted that Heseltine hadn't played
the game.  Martin listened to him in silence: he did not volunteer any
conversation and was glad that Rayner went away at once.

He picked up a book and went straight to Heseltine's study.

"Can I speak to Anstey?" he asked quietly, "It's about some words in
Homer!"

Heseltine looked at him suspiciously: he could hardly call him a liar
to his face.  "Very well," he said.  "But don't stay."

Martin found Anstey in his arm-chair.  His face was very white and when
he saw Martin he smiled the forced, flickering smile that is so often
born of an effort to conceal pain.

"It's all right," said Martin, "I've got permission."

Anstey told him to sit down.

"It's frightfully rotten luck," Martin began.  "Heseltine is simply a
devil."

"He didn't hurt me as much as he thought he had."

The thought gave Martin a thrill: it was something more than sympathy.

"What did he have you up for?" he asked.

"Cheek.  You must have heard what I said.  I certainly shouted."

"But I joined in that."

It had been in the tuck-shop.  Heseltine's entrance had been greeted
with remarks about the advent of the deity.

"He didn't hear you."

Martin knew that he hadn't shouted: he had only muttered something.  He
hadn't Anstey's pluck.  The thought was bitter and increased his
admiration of Heseltine's victim.  Anstey had suffered for what he had
helped to do.

"But what about this persecution?" he exclaimed suddenly.  "I'm damned
if I stand it."

"And what do you propose to do?"

"I don't see why we shouldn't remain friends."

"Nor do I.  But the powers disagree."

"Damn the powers."

"Certainly."

"Well, I'm going to see you as often as I like if you'll have me.  If
Heseltine says anything I'll tell him to go to Berney or Foskett if he
likes."

Anstey made no reply.

"Do you mean," said Martin, "that you won't go on, that you don't want
me?"

"Of course I want you.  But it's no use fighting.  I've got a bad name
with the beaks and it's a hundred to one they back up Heseltine.  You
know how they drop on this sort of thing.  I think they're all wrong:
in this case I know they are.  But there it is.  They've got the whip
hand and we can't fight against the odds."

"I'm willing to try."

"If you do, you'll be very admirable and very foolish.  Look here.  You
may be a pre next term.  Fighting means you miss that; it means nothing
but trouble all day long.  I've been in rows and I know.  It's no use.
There's more pluck in surrender."

Martin got up.  "I think I'll go," he said.

"I hope you don't think I'm playing a low-down game," interrupted
Anstey.

"No, it isn't that.  I just want to think things over.  Besides, time
is up."

He went back to his study and tried to clear his mind.  At first he was
bitterly angered by Anstey's surrender, but later on he realised that,
after all, Anstey had already been under fire in the war's first
skirmish, whereas he, Martin, had gone unscathed.  He was in no
position to make criticisms, much less taunts.  Then his thoughts
turned from Anstey to Heseltine.  He knew now what Gregson meant when
he talked of the Iron Heel: he could feel its pressure now.  More
clearly than ever before he learned that membership of society is a
doubtful blessing and that it means cruelty and waste and sacrifice and
compels us to jettison the rare to save the common.  For the sake of
example, to preserve discipline, to keep the house working he had now
to give up the most precious thing in his life.  In the last few weeks
something new had burst into his soul like a drunken reveller,
upsetting things and setting things up, something at once beautiful and
terrible: but its beauty had surpassed its terror.  Beauty had been
blown into his sight and imaginings on the wind-swept downs and now it
was to be swept away again by the grim forces of convention and
utility.  Just because others spoiled things he must be deprived of
them: the high must be of less account then the low, the beautiful must
yield to the ugly.  This was morality and the social good, this was the
Law of whose glories complacent philosophers loved to preach.  He ought
to fight it; he must fight it.  But how?  The question was as
unanswerable as it was insistent.  At length he gave it up.  All that
he could do was to pour out his soul to Gregson, for here, if anywhere,
Gregson might be of use.  Together they denounced the Iron Heel, and it
was well for Martin that this outlet was not denied him.  He was saved
from despair, perhaps from disaster, by a fortnight's ferocious
Anarchism.

And in a fortnight the wound had healed.  Enforced abstention from
Anstey's society did its work.  Anstey easily picked up new friends and
Martin was astonished to find that he was not jealous of them.  He was
equally astonished at his own speedy reconciliation with the order of
things and his swift relapse from Anarchism to Socialism.  Anstey had
been right: there was, after all, much to be said for social peace and
convenience.

In another week he was beginning to ask himself what he had ever seen
to admire in Anstey.  Climbing the downs was a horrid sweat and cricket
with Rayner had undoubted fascinations.



IX

In the Michaelmas term Martin became a house prefect.  He was glad to
obtain the position, not only because authority has always some
attraction, but also because it brought with it some definite and
desirable privileges.  No longer need he observe hated bounds, no
longer was he obliged to turn up at games if he felt disinclined.
Martin now became a person to be consulted, an organiser with a voice
in the affairs of a community.  Though he was not, like many of Mr
Foskett's disciples, fired with a passion for 'running things'
indiscriminately and irresponsibly, he quite realised that bossing has
its pleasures and possibilities.  It was typical of the new situation
that he was able to give up playing forward for the house and to obtain
a trial as wing three-quarter.  He had pace and managed to score in the
first game: soon he improved wonderfully and settled down in his
position.  It struck him that there was a great deal to be said for
playing football, even regular, incessant football, when you could
choose your own position in the field and play without fear of being
sworn at.

Naturally his duties brought him into closer contact with his
housemaster and he became intimate with the methodical ways of Mr
Berney and the efficient management and culture of his wife.  In the
evenings he received frequent invitations to the drawing-room, where he
would talk about Florence and Botticelli, Oxford and Matthew Arnold.
In his younger days he had worshipped Mrs Berney with a flaming
devotion.  Now he was more critical, but, while he understood the
limitations of her culture and suspected her of attending University
Extension Lectures in order to be told about the poets, he did not
cease to like her.  At any rate she did not bubble over with
unconvincing enthusiasm, like Mrs Foskett, and she did care in a rather
ignorant, muddle-headed, but thoroughly genuine way for the things of
art.  Martin had of course outdistanced many of her tastes and they
would have great arguments about Tennyson and Browning and Swinburne.
Mrs Berney, who was deeply religious, could never forgive Swinburne.
It seemed strange to Martin that so persistent and so sincere an
affection for poetry should be so limited.  What did it matter, he
asked himself, whether Swinburne liked God or whether he didn't?  The
point was to him that Swinburne had a great, angry soul and could let
himself go.  But Mrs Berney insisted that that had nothing to do with
it: poetry was the making of a beautiful thing and Swinburne had tried
to make ugly things beautiful.  Of course Martin urged that poetry
consisted in pouring a true thing out of yourself, and then he shocked
her by saying he hated the word "beautiful."  And so they would be
carried away with long arguments on æsthetics, sometimes childish and
always futile, for neither realised when they had reached an ultimate
or what exactly they were trying to prove.  Yet both enjoyed the
conversation: Martin was intellectually isolated since Gregson had gone
to Oxford, and Mrs Berney always welcomed the appearance of
intellectual tastes in the house.  Besides, she had sense enough to
understand that Martin had made some good suggestions and was armed
with a consistent principle of criticism.

The actual work of office was not so pleasing.  Heseltine had gone on
to Cambridge, where it was hoped that he would be taken in hand, and
Rayner was head of the house.  Rayner was bigger, stronger, and more
reliable than ever and he could keep order successfully without a
constant use of penalties: Martin admired him, in spite of his
intellectual limitations, and aspired to a similar method of government
which should be at once peaceful and efficient.  It had occurred that,
without becoming 'the boy among boys' or 'the workroom pet' or anything
horrible of that sort, it might be possible to avoid irresponsible
tyranny.  Mainly owing to the influence of his social and political
views he had bullied himself into the belief that the workroom would be
much better if left alone.  What the younger members of the house
needed was to be trusted, not beaten.  They only fell from virtue's
path because so many people were engaged in the task of keeping them
straight with whips and scorpions.  He had been sickened by the stupid
despotism of athletes which had often culminated in acts of cruelty and
injustice and he wanted to bring to his work a finer attitude and
endeavour.  And so it was with the crude, untested idealism of a
seventeen-year-old humanist that he approached the formidable task of
subduing a fifteen-year-old mob.

The beginning was not auspicious.  The trouble began, as trouble always
began, with Master J. R. F. Gransby-Williams, a rotund youth with a
genius for keeping within the letter of the law.  His chief aim in life
was to rag, and he worked hard to attain it; but there was a subsidiary
ambition to be a nut.  Consequently he was very scrupulous about his
ties and socks and handkerchiefs; his hair he kept very long and parted
with miraculous precision.

During Martin's first prep Granny (for so he was called) showed signs
of a cold.  He blew his nose perpetually and with skill: the noise was
as the blare of trumpets.

"Would you mind moderating your efforts?" suggested Martin from his
chair.

"Certainly not," said Granny with supreme urbanity.

It was cheek, and a titter ran round the workroom.  Martin had been
gifted by nature with an unfortunate capacity for blushing, and he
blushed now.

"Don't give me any of that lip or you'll get into trouble," he said
without conviction.

"That was not my intention," answered Granny, urbane as ever.  "I'm
very sorry."

Again there was a titter.  Martin blushed and swore inwardly: he knew
that he was not beginning well.

A few minutes later one Dickinson said: "Please can we have the window
open: there's an awful frowst."

"I suppose so," answered Martin.  "It does seem a bit thick in here."

Here was Granny's chance.  He sneezed magnificently.  "May I go and
fetch my overcoat?" he asked mildly.

"Shut up," said Martin.

Granny turned up his collar, blew his nose with gentle persistence, and
started to shiver.  Others followed his example, and the room began to
resound with the chattering of teeth.

Martin felt desperate.  What exactly was the right way to deal with
this kind of ragging?  What would Rayner do?  That was where the
difficulty lay: the workroom never tried this game with Rayner, so that
it was impossible to say what Rayner would have done.  Swearing at them
wouldn't do: he couldn't swipe the whole company.  Besides, there were
his ideals.  Foolishly he determined to try and work in his idealism
under the pretext of a joke: it was a cowardly compromise and it
deserved to fail.

"I suppose," he said, "we might take a vote about the window."

There was a genial roar of acclamation.

"Those in favour of keeping it open," he went on} "shove up your hands."

There was much talking and throwing of paper balls.  Hoarse whispers
such as, 'Jones, you stinker, put your hand down or I'll kill you
afterwards,' came to his ears.  The counting was complicated by the
necessity of disqualifying all those who held up both hands with a view
to fraud.  When the oppositions were being numbered there were murmurs
of: 'Lowsy swine,' 'Frowsters,' and so on.  The affair was soundly
managed by the mob and a tie resulted, so that Martin had to give a
casting vote.  Imploring faces were turned towards him: the opening of
the window was plainly a matter of life and death to that
valetudinarian assembly.

"Keep it open," said Martin, determined to abide by his first order.

There were subdued cheers and moans, nasal snufflings and raucous
coughs.  Above it all the voice of Granny was heard.

"May I borrow some quinine?" he demanded.

Martin now saw the folly of his actions.  The matter had gone too far,
he had lost grip, and a tremendous rag was imminent.

"Shut up," he roared with all the authority he could command.

And just then Rayner came in to take his spell of prep.  There was an
immediate silence.  Martin left the room in an agony of despair.  What
the deuce would Rayner think?

As he sat in his study pretending to read Tacitus the prospect of
failure and misery became cruelly imminent.  He couldn't make out why
the workroom people would shut up for Rayner.  Rayner wasn't noted for
his severity and didn't make half as much use of the Iron Heel as some
of his predecessors in Berney's or contemporaries in other houses.
Martin was faced with the eternal paradox of government, that those who
can govern do not need to punish, while those who punish do not thereby
govern.  He had always suspected the common talk about personalities
and strong men: but now he began to wonder whether there wasn't
something in it after all.  Anyhow it seemed that by one action of
hesitation he had lost his chance: his prestige was going, and if he
once gained a reputation for 'raggability' there would be no more
peace.  The memory of Barmy Walters and the sordid tumult of his
classroom came to him with a new piquancy.

"My God!" he said, "it sha'n't be that."  He would have to go for
Granny.  But how did one go for such a creature?  Granny always kept to
the letter of the law and protested that he had meant nothing: was one
simply to disregard his assertions, to call him a liar?  How did Rayner
manage?  And there were the ideals.  Would this method be consonant
with the humanism of the new prefecture?  It was all immensely
difficult.

Later in the evening Rayner came to his study: he was very nice about
it.

"I say, old man," he said kindly, "that wasn't a good beginning."

"It certainly wasn't," admitted Martin.

"Granny, I suppose?" asked the other.

"Yes, mainly."

"Well there's only one thing for Master Gransby-Williams.  Damp the
little beast."

"It's not so easy.  He's always on the safe side of the fence.  If he
swears that he didn't mean what you think he meant, you can't very well
do anything."

Rayner smiled.

"Can't you?" he said.

"Well, can you?"

"You jolly well must.  Otherwise there'll be no end to it."

"All right, I'll try.  But it seems rather rotten."

"Doesn't it strike you as rotten to be ragged by a tick like Granny?"

Martin had to admit that it was.

Three nights later Martin interviewed Granny after prayers.  There had
been a rag in the prep.  A mouse had escaped from Granny's desk and had
been the target of many marksmen.  The air had been positively black
with hurtling dictionaries.  The mouse of course escaped and the
missiles struck human flesh, compelling recrimination and redress.

"The mouse came out of your desk," said Martin.

"Please, I didn't put it there," whined Granny.

"I don't care.  You must have known it was there when you got your
books out."

"It may have been asleep," suggested Granny with sudden brilliance.

"Rot!"

"Well, I read in a book that mice sleep fourteen hours out of
twenty-four.  Anyhow I didn't notice it.  It's got to put in its
fourteen hours some time."

"The fact remains," said Martin, "that you're responsible for the
contents of your desk."

"If another chap puts a mouse in your desk, I don't see----"

Martin was tired of the squalid haggling.  But what was he to do?  On
his own theories, he ought to give Granny the benefit of the doubt and
let him go.  That was plainly the idealist's course.  But there was
Rayner's advice: should he yield to the claim of expediency and try it?
Suddenly the impudent whine of Granny's voice became intolerable and he
determined to be stern.

But the subsequent swiping was, as Granny told the workroom, sketchy
and amateurish.

Presently Dickinson knocked at Martin's study.

"Please," he said, "I put that mouse in Gransby-Williams' desk."

Martin, who was just beginning to repent of his fall from idealism,
turned upon him in despair.  "Why the deuce didn't you own up at once?"
he demanded.

"You never asked who did it."

"I did."

"Well, I couldn't hear.  There was such a row going on."

That was a stinging retort for Martin: he was certainly getting the
worst of it.  And Granny was in a strong position, a painfully strong
position.  Fortunately, however, Martin acted wisely: he was faithful
to the new policy, forswore his ideals, and swiped Dickinson.
Moreover, his second effort was more thorough, and Dickinson
sorrowfully maintained that this talk about sketchy and amateurish
methods was a delusion: the blighter, he said, was an artist.

On the next day Granny, the martyr, organised a meeting of protest.
Rayner, hearing of it, asked Martin for an explanation.

"That's capital," he said when he had heard the story.  "You've been
thoroughly unjust, and now you can go on damping Granny with a free
conscience.  In for a penny, in for a pound."

"I'm sick of the whole business," said Martin.

"Don't be an ass," answered Rayner, and that evening he spoke firmly to
Granny.  Somehow or other the combined effect of Martin's treatment of
Dickinson and Rayner's conversation with Granny led to a change of
policy in the workroom.

That night Martin again took prep.  As he sat on his dais regarding the
victims of his wrath, he was haunted for a moment by the ghost of his
murdered ideals; but only for a moment.

And he sat in peace.



X

During the winter term before he was to go up to Oxford for a
scholarship examination Martin felt more than ever isolated.  Rayner
was a good enough companion for 'brewing' or a casual talk, but he had,
distinctly, his limitations.  It was only now, when Gregson had gone to
Oxford and the light, that Martin realised how much he missed him and
how dark and murky was the cave of school life.

There is little satisfaction to be derived from discoveries which
cannot be communicated: to find a perfect poem, or, if you are young, a
perfect epigram, is good, but to let your friends know you have found
it is doubly delightful.  And now Martin had to keep his discoveries to
himself: if he devised another argument against the existence of God or
detected another logical absurdity in Christian dogma there was no one
to whom he could declare his joy: if he stumbled in his reading on a
thing which pleased him--well, the rest of the house were swine for
such a pearl.

Because Martin was treading the path of knowledge alone he was driven
by sheer force of necessity into intellectual priggishness and crudity.
When he was not engaged in prefectorial work, he tended to become a
recluse and to read in his study for long periods at a stretch: and
because he had no opposition and no conversation, save the rather mild
stimulus of discussing æsthetics with Mrs Berney, he became, as time
went on, more violent in his opinions.  He often longed for the bitter
tongue and incisive reasoning of Gregson, not least when he had
completed a course of Shaw's dramas.  There was no escape from
attendance at chapel and prayers and the wrath always engendered in the
sceptic by compulsory religion should have an outlet.  Martin, having
no one to talk to, was forced to amuse himself with blasphemous
imaginings: but even that began to pall.

It was at this point that he became aware of Finney.  Until he had
become a prefect and learned by experience that the ruler's task is not
always the easiest and most enjoyable, he had always adopted the
natural attitude to masters.  A 'crusher' was just a person whom, if
possible, one ragged.  If he could hold his own, well and good: if not,
he merited contempt, not mercy, and the more he was ragged the better
it would be for the world at large.  But when Martin discovered from
his own experience that to be ragged is torture, he began to regard the
doings and sufferings of the masters in a different light.  It suddenly
struck him, with all the vivid effect of a surprise, that these people
were human beings of like passions with himself.

Following quickly on that discovery came the recognition of the fact
that Finney was being ragged.  Reginald Finney, B.A., had not left
Oxford for more than two years, but he had bravely married, and now he
lived in a tiny cottage some distance from the school.  Every day he
bicycled in to take the Upper Fourth, Classical, and to devote
occasional hours to the Upper Sixth.  In time, of course, he would
become a Sixth form master, for he had excellent degrees--two firsts
and a 'mention' in the Ireland scholarship.  He had lingered at Oxford
with a view to a fellowship, but nothing turned up: at last he had been
compelled by economic pressure to take the position offered him at
Elfrey.

Nothing could have been more disastrous.  For twenty years the Upper
Fourth had passed a somnolent existence under the direction of an
amiable and unassuming cleric.  Much to the general disgust the dear
old man had, after a severe attack of pneumonia, resigned.  In twenty
years, as was only natural, the Upper Fourth had become an institution:
terms and times continued to change, but the Upper Fourth did nothing
of the kind.  Fourth-formers came and went in scores, but their
successors always managed to keep up the traditions of their
inheritance with spirit and success.  There would be four or five
clever and energetic children, people rising rapidly to the Fifth,
Sixth, and university scholarships; then there would be eight or ten
inky and unambitious persons who would never get beyond the Fifth.  And
lastly there would be four or five monsters of seventeen or eighteen
who were engaged in getting the greatest possible enjoyment out of
their last year at school.  Good athletes as a rule, they were popular
in their house and merely stayed on till the fatal day of
superannuation in order to win cups and caps and enjoy a serene life
before disappearing into the dingy office of an uncle or the rough and
tumble of a planter's existence.  In the days of the amiable cleric the
Upper Fourth had been to them Nirvana.

To such a form came Finney, clever, inexperienced, nervous: not even
his physique was imposing.  He liked and encouraged the clever little
boys and made fruitless efforts to bully the ink-stained loafers; he
also determined to assault the fortress of the Olympians and to make
the great ones work; but he broke his soul upon a rock.  When he
adjured them to do a little work they smiled in toleration.  When he
suggested a change in the quantity or quality of their preparation he
was politely informed that Mr Foss never expected so much.  He then
lost his temper, remarked savagely that he wouldn't be bound by the
idiosyncrasies of Mr Foss, and dealt out impositions.  A schoolmaster
cannot afford to lose his temper unless he has complete self-confidence
and the will never to retract.  Finney had not been gifted with a
forceful personality, and the weak man in a temper is a most pitiable
sight.  The impositions meant the declaration of war and in that war
Finney was beaten all along the line.

To begin with, however, he relied on his hours with the Upper Sixth for
spiritual comfort, but his own experiences at school should have warned
him that even Upper Sixths are human.  It was his duty to read
classical authors with them at a great pace and without attention to
detail in order to give the competitors for university scholarships a
wider knowledge of the ancient literature.  When he came to read
Tacitus with them he soon discovered that they were quite capable of
amusing themselves.  Having learned that journalese translations
annoyed him, they racked their brains and searched the halfpenny press
for new phrases.  Finney shuddered and protested: next he whined and
finally lost his temper.  This display was gratifying to the Upper
Sixth, who had just spent two tedious hours listening to Foskett on
Greek dialects.  Besides, there is always satisfaction in luring fish
to one's bait.

Martin loathed and dreaded these hours.  Not only did his recent
experiences as a prefect compel him to sympathise with the impotent
wielder of authority, but he had been attracted by Finney from the
first.  Finney worked in earnest and without pose or pretension, a fact
which set him, in Martin's estimation, on a plane far above Foskett.
He worked for Finney as he never worked for Foskett, and consulted him
about his reading: naturally Finney liked Martin and did all he could
to help him.  On several Sundays Martin went to lunch at the cottage
and met Mrs Finney, a pleasant little woman whose beauty was somewhat
marred by an expression of perpetual surprise.  She was, like her
husband, a slight and unimposing figure, and she shrank from the
society of the college ladies with their continual "shop" conversation,
partly from shyness and partly from boredom.  When she was not looking
after her baby she used to play the violin and read _The Bookman_ and
_The Studio_.  For several hours every week she struggled with accounts
and wondered how things would work out: she managed well, and somehow,
miraculously, but persistently, they did work out.

She also liked Martin and he would come often to them.  In a world that
was hard and unsympathetic he was graciously different; he was
essentially someone in whom interest could and should be taken, and
this was what the Finneys needed.  They saw and, after a time,
understood his limitations, realising how his intellectual solitude was
narrowing his outlook and how his heretical views about politics and
life in general were left crude and immature because he dared not
pronounce them openly and demand criticism.  Criticism he lacked, and
it was criticism they gave him, not the best perhaps, for the Finneys
erred occasionally on the side of excessive culture and preciosity, but
such criticism as would turn violence into strength and reveal
possibilities of reason and feeling where he had seen before nothing
but ignorance and sentimentality.

As Martin was destined for Oxford Finney thought it wise to introduce
him to the writing of Belloc.  "You'll get heaps out of him," he said.
"Of course he goes to extremes, but his criticism of Socialism is the
only sane one and worth a million of Mallock and Cox and that gang.
And his arguments about religion aren't all nonsense.  I don't agree
with him" (Finney attended school chapel regularly and was a party
Liberal), "but it's a point of view.  And he can write."

Martin had never considered this outlook on the world before, and,
though at times he was angry, he began to read Belloc eagerly,
especially the verses.  He had often heard his uncle talking about
Belloc, but so far he had never troubled to investigate the matter
further: now he was glad.

After lunch on Sunday afternoons he would walk with Finney on the
downs, and sometimes they would talk about the Public Schools.  At
first Finney was reticent on their subject, but later he spoke with
growing freedom and intimacy.

"It's odd how we get chucked into it," Finney used to say.  "Everyone
says teaching is the most important thing in the world, and they
chatter away about training and so on: and yet when it comes to the
point they allow their precious boys to be taught by men who are quite
untrained for this profession.  No master at a Public School has had
any technical training or been taught how to see and shape things.  He
just clears out of the varsity with some debts and a little despair and
then starts casually to do what is perhaps the most difficult and
important thing in the world.  And they don't get the pick of the
varsities either: the standard keeps going down.  The best men won't do
it if they can keep out."

Finney could not, in the presence of a pupil, finish his indictment as
he wished.  Had it been possible he would have added: "The salaries are
contemptible and are kept low by the bribe of a house: which in reality
means that we have to pinch and scrape now because, if we are lucky, we
may be able to make a thousand a year at forty if we don't overfeed our
boys."

"And yet," suggested Martin, "don't you think it's rather refreshing to
find something left to common-sense.  Everything gets into the hands of
faddists now.  I once met an old lady who spent her life in teaching
children how to play.  Imagine the cheek of it!  You put me on to
Belloc and I think he's right about that sort of thing.  We don't want
too much of the bureaucratic specialist."

"I quite agree," said Finney.  "That's the tragedy.  Just where
spontaneity really does matter, as in children's games, they go
blundering in and knock imagination out of their victims, or give them
someone else's, which is about the same thing.  But just where training
might be of some use, they do nothing.  The superstition that a man can
teach because he has taken a first in Classics at the varsity is
childish.  I don't claim to know very much now, but when I started my
work I was hideously ignorant about the working of boys' minds: I never
knew when I was being obvious or when I got beyond them.  Of course one
picks things up by experience, but it might be done so much better...."

"And then the narrowness," he rambled on, for he found a good audience
in Martin.  "You'll get a first in Mods, if you take the trouble, and
by the time you're twenty or twenty-one you'll know all about Athenian
law-courts and what the Greek is for a demurrer or a counter-claim, and
you'll know all the hard words in Homer and be able to translate
Cicero's jokes.  You'll cram up a lot of variant readings for your
special play and collect a nice set of texts with all the difficult
passages marked.  And when it's all over you'll thank God and imagine
that you've done with it, only to find out that Greats is rather worse
and means spotting the words for Egyptian bogwort in Herodotus and
getting up the most meaningless bits of gibberish in Thucydides.  It's
the same all along.  A schoolmaster wants to make some money, a don
wants to make a name, so out comes a new reading, a new conjecture, a
new edition and a thousand other straws of pedantry to be piled on the
back of a poor old camel that collapsed years ago."

"It sounds pretty rotten," said Martin.  "But I suppose at Oxford one
can read and talk freely and follow up the things one likes?"

"Yes, you must do that.  Don't get worried about Mods.  Are you
thinking of the Civil Service?"

"Yes, I suppose so."

"Well Mods won't matter much.  So take up anything you really care for.
That's the only thing in life worth doing, and it may be about the only
time in your life when you're able to do it."

Of course Finney never spoke to Martin about school discipline, but it
was not hard for Martin to see that he was very much depressed.  His
sufferings with the Fourth he might have expected: but that the Upper
Sixth should rag childishly was a cruel blow.  He was so keenly anxious
to take an interest in his work and to make those hours of rapid
translation valuable: but everything seemed to go against him.

He went through some Tacitus and Juvenal and Pindar at a great pace
amid considerable amusement.  For Tacitus gave facilities for
journalese, Juvenal for obscenity, and Pindar for colossal bathos.  In
despair Finney turned to the sixth book of the Æneid, "Just to help
your hexameters."  They surely wouldn't rag that.

Yet trouble did break out.  One Cartwright, a large, genial, athletic
person who expected to get an exhibition at Cambridge for his games,
was always to the fore when there seemed any opportunity of baiting
Finney.  To him fell the Daedalus passage at the beginning of the book:
his rendering was picturesque and contained such gems as 'Intrepid
aeronaut' and 'Bird-man.'

"That's not English and it isn't in the Latin," said Finney sharply.

"I don't know, sir," said Cartwright weightily.  "'Præpetibus pennis
ausus'--note of daring.  Intrepid.  Intrepid aeronaut.  Why not, sir?
And then 'levis super astitit'--note of hovering over.  Bird-man.  Why
not, sir?"

Finney paused in silence.  The Upper Sixth were tittering like infants
of twelve, with the exception of Martin, who stared self-consciously at
his desk, hating every moment and dreading what was to come.
Fortunately Finney controlled his temper and said quickly:

"Don't be childish, Cartwright.  Translate, Warren."

Warren was an intelligent youth and gifted with endless audacity.  A
week or two later they turned back to the first book (Finney couldn't
tolerate their assault on the second half of Book VI.), and Warren had
in his section the line:

  "Succinctam pharetra et maculoso tegmine lyncis."


This he rendered: "With a check golf-skirt and a bag of clubs."

There was a wild roar of laughter and Finney went very red.  Again he
controlled himself and merely said: "Quite good.  But you might keep
your jokes till the end of the hour."

At last an event occurred which he could not overlook.  Cartwright was
translating Tacitus and he had a book open under his desk.  The words
flowed smoothly, with unwonted smoothness, for Cartwright was slow of
wit.  At the end of the chapter Finney remarked: "Are you aware,
Cartwright, that you have reproduced the excellent translation by
Messrs Church and Brobribb word for word?"

"Have I, sir?" answered Cartwright with astonishment.

"You have.  And what is your explanation?"

Cartwright reflected.

"Only that great minds think alike," he said at last.

"I shall report you to the headmaster," shouted Finney above the roar
of laughter.

Hitherto he had shrunk from informing Foskett of the way things went.
He had been afraid that any such move might be taken as a proof of his
own incompetence.  Foskett might reasonably hold that it was a master's
business to look after himself and that a man who couldn't deal with an
Upper Sixth couldn't deal with anyone.  And he had heard in the
common-room that Foskett was remarkably fond of his prefects and would
even back them against the masters, because he regarded them as more
valuable allies in strengthening his own position with the rank and
file of the school.  After all, the masters were employees and far too
deeply concerned with the problem of earning a living to do any harm to
Foskett: they would be unwilling to resign, because, even if they found
posts, it would mean loss of seniority at the new school.  Distinctly
he had the whip hand over them; but the prefects were harder to control
and demanded more respect.  So the masters had grown chary of reporting
matters to the Head, and Finney had been warned that such a policy
might lead to snubs.  But on this occasion there was plainly nothing
else to do.

Foskett spoke gravely to Cartwright for ten minutes on the subject of
example, and matters went on as before.  Cartwright was captain of
football at the time.

So Finney continued to suffer, and because Finney suffered Martin
inevitably suffered too.  The ragging got on his nerves and he began to
dread those long hours with their mirth and tragedy.  At last he could
bear it no longer, and he determined to speak to Cartwright and his
allies and to point out how miserable they were making Finney: the man
was a human being after all, he would say, and as an enemy he was not
worth their efforts.

At first it seemed an easy thing to do, but when the time for action
came he shrank from the task.  It would be so strange, so opposed to
all traditions.  And Martin was distinctly one of the class of people
who hate asking questions or worrying tradesmen or exacting their
rights: he would rather have put up with a badly cut suit than protest
to his tailor.  He was not afraid of Cartwright, but he was undeniably
afraid of asking Cartwright to be kind to Finney: it was just the kind
of task which Martin most dreaded.  He could imagine Cartwright's
tolerant smile, the slight raising of the brows, the polite: 'Oh,
certainly!'  It would be painful, it would be intolerable!

But it would have to be done.  One final jest, one final look of
despair on Finney's face convinced him.  So he nerved himself bravely
for the crusade.  Cartwright was, as he had foreseen, quite nice about
it: he agreed that it was not good form to behave as the Fourth did,
and Warren and the others assented.  Martin had struck the right note
when he used the phrase 'good form,' for no member of a Public School,
young or old, can stand the imputation that he is not a gentleman.
Martin was astonished at the ease and success of his task and was angry
with himself for not having acted before.  Henceforward Finney taught
in peace and even made Cartwright begin to display a keen interest in
Pindar.  It was a thorough change and altered the whole aspect of
Finney's work: he could forget the unspeakable Fourth-formers if he
could really care about his work for the Sixth.  His relief was
obvious, and Martin, eagerly watching for every expression of it, felt
justly grateful.

Finney could not guess the real cause of the new behaviour.  For a
moment he thought that perhaps his manner was becoming more imperious
and that he had made definite progress in his efforts to acquire
authority.  But, on reflection, he had to abandon this flattering
hypothesis, and he ultimately attributed the change to the growth of a
collective conscience and the recognition that scholarship exams were
dangerously near and that it might be as well to work seriously.  That
he could have made such a mistake showed that he still had much to
learn about his pupils.  But, from the pragmatic standpoint, his
ignorance was for his own good: had he known that he was merely the
recipient of charity, 'the something bitter' might have risen and
destroyed the new-born happiness.



XI

In December Martin, who was now seventeen and a half years old, went up
to Oxford to compete for a scholarship in Classics.  Foskett had
encouraged him to wait another year, but John Berrisford held that boys
should be free from the pettiness of school life before they were
nineteen and advised Martin to go up early: this course would give him
another twelve months for Civil Service preparation if necessary.
Martin himself had no desire for another year at Elfrey, for, without
positively disliking the place, he wanted freedom.  His prefecture had
brought him more trouble than release, and the Finneys, while they had
undoubtedly refined his tastes and broadened his views, had also
inevitably rendered him more discontented with the limitations of a
society which drove him to silence or to crudity.

Martin was not a remarkable classic and never learned to sympathise
with the somewhat pedantic traditions of a classical training, nor had
he the imitative faculty necessary for the composition of good prose
and verse in Greek or Latin; his work was always sound and often
interesting; but he never acquired the infallible dexterity of touch
which is the fruit of perfect sympathy with classical modes of thought
and expression.  His translation into English showed more style than
accuracy, and he preferred rather to play loosely with ideas and to
follow the literary and social questions arising from a study of the
ancient literatures than to apply himself vigorously to pure
scholarship.  There never had been any doubt about his being an Oxford
man.  His tastes and abilities, his family connections and his project
of entering the Civil Service all pointed in one direction.  Moreover,
he had somehow been obsessed with a notion that all Cambridge colleges,
with the exception of King's and Trinity, were like public schools
continued.  Had not Heseltine gone to Cambridge?  But Oxford would be
very different; for how could Oxford, the home of Shelley and Swinburne
and Morris, be anything but beautiful and brilliant?  Martin was
thrilled by the exquisite promise of life: Oxford would be heavenly,
and heaven--well, heaven would be all atheism and epigrams.  The
paradox pleased him and he wondered whether it was the sort of remark
he would make to his college debating society next October.  But first
of all, he sadly remembered, there was this affair of scholarships.

He entered for a small group and gave King's pride of place.  It had
been his father's college and was in many ways suitable.  Its
scholarships were neither too hard nor too easy to win.  It was a small
college in the first rank and commanded universal respect.  It prided
itself on being successful, not brazenly, like Balliol, but with
discretion, unassumingly.

In spite of the opinions of poets, literary gentlemen and writers of
guide-books, it is possible to maintain that Oxford is not a nice place
in which to live, much less to work.  In December it is, on the whole,
at its worst, and it was on the second Monday of that month that Martin
arrived in the city.  Term had ended on the previous Saturday, and only
a few undergraduates were to be seen wandering about the deserted
streets with a bored and lost expression.  Oxford has a double
personality: in term it serves efficiently as a crowded pleasure
resort; in the vacation it is one of those cities, like Bruges la
morte, whose justification is in the past and the memorials of the
past.  A compromise is fatal and undergraduates must exist in hundreds
or not at all.  A soft drizzle fell from a yellow, smudgy sky and the
streets were covered with a particularly loathsome mud.  As he drove
down from the station to King's (he was to have rooms in college),
Martin was horrified: he felt that he had never seen a more lamentable
place.  To be rattled in a hansom down George Street and then brought
face to face with the front quad of Balliol is not an inspiring method
of approach to beauty.  But King's was more presentable.

An aged man, who looked dyspeptic and morose, staggered out of the
lodge and asked Martin's name: then he summoned a brisk underling,
immaculately dressed in a bowler hat and dark blue suit.  The underling
picked up his bag and guided him up three flights of rickety stairs
into a dingy apartment, mainly remarkable for the smallness of its
windows.  Outside the door Martin had seen the word 'Snutch.'

"Mr Snutch's," said the underling.  "These will be yours."  Then, to
Martin's great surprise and at the expense of his own perfect trousers,
he knelt humbly down and lit the fire.  It seemed incredible that one
so magnificent should stoop to light a fire.  Then he said: "Your scout
will be in at six, sir," and vanished.

Martin turned to survey the room.  On the walls were some extraordinary
banners or ribbons, on two of which were the words:

  Ahwamkee University.

There were some photographs, plainly American, and a large engraving
called 'Love's Pathway.' On the wide expanse of shelves there stood six
lonely books--five large volumes on Law and the Rubáiyát of Omar
Khayyám.  At the beginning of each was written: 'E libris Theo. K.
Snutch.'  Martin was tempted to amend the inscription to 'E libris sex
Theo. K. Snutch.'  On the mantelpiece were some athletic trophies.  Mr
Snutch's residence at Oxford, at three hundred a year, was not
altogether unjustified: he could terrifically throw the hammer.

Next, Martin found a penny paper called _The University_ and eagerly
glanced through it to discover the quality of Oxford journalism.  There
were jokes about Socialists with red ties and there was an open letter
to the varsity heavy-weight boxer.  It began, 'Dear Chuckles,' and
ended with best wishes for 'the dear little girl who will some day take
the ring with you.'  The reader was not even spared the allusion to the
possible appearance of 'Chucklets.'

"My god!" said Martin.  He began to wonder whether he hadn't made a
mistake in refusing to go to Cambridge.

The room was depressing, so he put on his overcoat and walked out into
the rain: he went down St Olde's to the river.  In those days
horse-drawn trams still rattled slowly through the streets, making a
feeble pretence of antiquity.  It angered Martin that in this town,
with its new yellow banks and new college buildings, such hypocrisy
should go on and that people should confuse the relics of medieval
squalor with the works of medieval beauty.  He came from a clean town
of the hills, and the clinging dirt and the sordid grime and meanness
of St Ebbs seemed haunting and insistent.  Before Tom Tower and the
spacious splendour of Christ Church there was a common slum; he had
never pictured Oxford a place of slums.  The Thames, too, had been in
flood for two or three weeks, and in the playing-fields across the
river goal-posts stood up amid acres of water, gauntly desolate.  As he
passed out along the Abingdon Road he found meadows where the floods
had receded and left the grass rotten and stinking.  The straggling
squalor of Oxford's edge only served to increase his despair: he had
expected to find a city with dreaming spires, and so far he had found
merely a slum, with yellow gasworks.  Only now and then did he catch a
glimpse which charmed him.  As he turned back and climbed the hill to
Carfax he began to loathe the place.  But it must be remembered that he
had had an inadequate lunch and was under the shadow of an exam.

On returning to Snutch's rooms he found that the fire had almost gone
out.  With the aid of _The University_ he managed to create a fitful
gleam, but it gave no heat.  Someone was moving about in the rooms
opposite, another scholarship candidate presumably, a rival--damn him!
Martin began to think about tea: he did not know what to do and his
scout was not coming till six.  Ultimately he went out to the Cadena
Café: it was full of young women from North Oxford who sat in
mackintoshes, feeding with desperate gaiety.

After he came back to Snutch's rooms and read a shilling novel which he
had found in the bedder.  Soon after six the scout appeared and told
Martin that he could dine in the hall at seven: he was a large, grimy
man and sniffed prodigiously.  Dinner in hall was very trying.
Half-a-dozen dons sat at the high table trying to pretend by forced
conversation that they were not thoroughly sick of one another: about
thirty schoolboys sat shyly on the long benches, apprehensive,
miserable.  Here and there would be two from the same school, chatting
with animation and appearing to be very much in the know about Life and
the varsity: elsewhere strangers were huddled together, some silent,
others making fitful conversation.  Financial distinctions were not
forgotten, and the candidates from Public Schools had gravitated to one
table, those from Grammar Schools to another.  Martin found himself by
the side of a red-faced, ingenuous boy, who asked for the water and
then said:

"The Harlequins are better than ever this year."

Martin assented, and added: "What's your school?"

"Rugby.  What's yours?"

"I'm from Elfrey.  Have you anyone else in here?"

"No.  We had four up for Balliol this year."

"That's a lot.  Are the results out?"

"Yes, this afternoon.  We got a schol. and an exhibition."

"That was jolly good."

The dialogue became more and more technical and immensely dull.

The Rugbeian was plainly a bore and after dinner Martin fled from the
college: he found a new cinema in Broad Street and went in.  Presently
some undergraduates who were stopping up for a few days at the end of
term came cheerily in and shouted vaguely.

An obsequious manager pleaded with them and they wandered down the
gangway looking for company: it did not seem very hard to find.  Martin
watched their progress with interest and began to wonder whether the
girl next him wanted to talk.  She had dropped her wrist-bag once and
he had picked it up: during the course of the proceedings his eye had
been caught by the glitter of a light grey stocking.  She wasn't, he
had to admit, beautiful.  But she was alone, and so was he.  Did she,
on the other hand, want him to talk?  The dropping of the bag might
have been an accident.  Besides, what did one say?  Martin cursed his
inexperience and racked his brains for a conversational lead.  He could
hardly make some remark about the films: that would be obvious and
heavy.  Something light was wanted: but what?  Why on earth couldn't
she drop the bag again?  He would take the hint this time.  His mind
became a blank and he felt acutely miserable.  At the end of the film
he rose and walked away in despair.  He stopped at the back of the hall
and noticed one of the varsity men glance round and then move quickly
into his place before the lights were again turned out.  Martin
returned to college, read some more of Snutch's novel, and went to bed.

Till Friday night Martin was kept hard at work doing papers in the
college hall.  On Tuesday morning he had to write an essay on the
relations of the artist and the State, an obvious subject, perhaps, but
pleasing.  It was the only paper which he enjoyed.  Afterwards he was
kept hard at work with Unseens and Compositions.  Never in his life had
he felt more irritable or more intellectually impotent.  The yellow
blanket of mist hung over Oxford continually: the hall smelled
abominably of stale gravy and recent meals, and, worst of all, the pens
supplied to such as did not bring their own were quills; consequently
the stuffy room was never free from a maddening scratch and squeak.  A
youth with a sloping brow and waving, faultless hair who sat next
Martin made great play with his quill: he was a 'dog' whose doggishness
took the form of a graceful abandon in his dress; he wore soft collars
and long woolly waistcoats and dilapidated pumps.  He held his quill
between his first and second fingers, and he wrote splashily with brave
flourishes and a spasmodic squeak; also he had a habit of marching out
majestically half-an-hour before the time for a paper was finished.
Martin wondered whether this implied that he was immensely bad or
immensely good: he feared the latter.  Altogether he was a fascinating
and disconcerting neighbour, and one morning Martin, struggling with
verses that would not 'come,' wanted to kill him.

Another cause of depression was the presence of boys



from Grammar Schools.  Martin was no snob, but he could not keep
himself unspotted from Public School tradition, and he felt that these
smug-looking youths were rivals in a way that the dull Rugbeian never
could be.  He was certain that they were far better scholars than he
was, that they had worked like slaves and could translate anything ever
written in Greek or Latin: he might have escaped much mental suffering
had he known that, even if they had been so brilliant (and in reality
they were amazingly dull), the dons are, with a few exceptions, well
rooted in class tradition and are not going to sacrifice the Public
Schools on the altar of modern honesty.  But Martin did not know these
things, and when he saw the Grammar School candidates parading the town
with little crested caps on the backs of their heads and greasy curls
sticking bravely up in front, the natural dislike of the rival was
fused with the Public School man's loathing of inferior form.  There
was one unforgettable person who came every day to King's wearing a
black overcoat and black kid gloves: his cap had a little silver button
gleaming over the inevitable curl.  He looked both wise and good.

On the Thursday evening Martin glanced through the rough copy of his
Latin verse.  There he found--

          "via strata patebat
  Hostibus; ardentes surgunt ducemque sequuntur."

True that the lines did not sound beautiful: in a copy of twenty-two
lines you must have one or two dull moments.  But "via strata" and
"ducem"--two false quantities in a line and a half.  How could he have
done it?  He flung the rough copy into the fire and swore violently.
Silver Button wouldn't make false quantities: Silver Button would have
learned about 'dux' and 'duco' when he was twelve--so had Martin.  But
then Silver Button wouldn't, couldn't, forget.  Martin was convinced
now that, as far as a scholarship was concerned, he might as well never
have entered.

He wandered morosely into the streets: it started to rain and he took
refuge in the cinema.  For half-an-hour he watched the films and, more
particularly, an amorous couple in front.  A girl came and sat on his
right: she was distinctly attractive and her chin, poised daintily in
the air, conveyed an exquisite invitation: the rest of her face was
hidden by hat.  He began to feel, as before, self-conscious and
miserable.  This time he would speak, must speak ... but how?  The
couple in front had reached their limit in proximity.  Suddenly her
foot touched his and with a surreptitious glance he saw below the brim
of that entrancing hat.  She was perfect.  She had taken off her glove
and her hand lay on her lap: before Martin knew what he was doing, he
had taken it and pressed it.  The girl turned abruptly round, snatched
her hand away, and said coldly:

"Please leave me alone."

Martin obeyed, blushing furiously.  "I'm very sorry," he muttered, but
she took no notice.  He sat gazing in front of him, humiliated and
tortured.  What a fool he had been!  Why hadn't he said something and
made an opening?

The film clicked monotonously on.  One fact alone flamed across his
mind: he must get out before the film was over.  He couldn't endure the
raising of the lights.  But either he would have to crush past the girl
on his right or else go out to the left, a journey which would involve
forcing his way through a long row of stout people.  Both alternatives
were unpleasant.

The film was ending.  The music had ceased to ripple and begun to sob,
always a proof of impending embraces.  The hero and heroine were
rolling great lurid eyes at one another.  The lights went up.  Martin
pushed his way out to the left past the stout and sulky: then he
hurried back through the rain to Snutch's gloomy chambers.  There was
nothing to do but to contemplate his own blunders classic and modern.
He told himself that he had made a rotten shot and received a nasty
snub.  If he had only been aiming at something worth having, he
wouldn't have minded.  But what, after all, was the use of a girl to
him?  And why on earth had he wanted to grab her sticky hand--for it
had been sticky.  He knew now that he hadn't really wanted to do it,
for its own sake: he had wanted to do it because other people did it.
Now it all seemed so hugely silly.  "I suppose love's all right," he
thought to himself.  "But this hand and kiss business is piffle."

On Friday evening Martin returned to Elfrey in a state of advanced
pessimism.  Early in the next week he learned that he had been elected
to a classical scholarship at King's College.  He gazed blankly at the
telegram and the words 'via strata' and 'ducem' flashed before his mind.

It was quite incredible, but it was true.



XII

Martin spent his last two terms without effort and without emotion.
The fact that he was a scholar elect of King's College, Oxford, caused
him to feel in some strange way that his career was made and that there
was nothing more to be done.  So he chattered to Finney on Sunday
afternoons, read poetry (condescendingly now) at Mrs Berney's Saturday
soirees, and enjoyed the modern novelists when he should have been
doing his prep.  He had found a copy of Butler's _Way of All Flesh_ in
his uncle's study: this he read with joy and lent to the more worthy
members of the Upper Sixth.  A book with an appeal so universal
naturally made an effect: it seemed to crystallise the religious
experience of all.  Martin was eager to discover whether Foskett had
read it and consequently alluded to it at some length in an essay on
'Recent Aspects of Evolution,' in which he courageously let himself go.
Foskett made no allusion to Butler and merely wrote on the last sheet:
'Good, but lacks balance.  Don't dogmatise on subjects of this kind.
Many of your ideas, though well put, are crude.'  Martin groaned as he
read the criticism.  If Foskett had been a bigoted parson and had
lectured him on the perils of free thought, he could have looked on
himself as a martyr and enjoyed the nursing of a grievance: if, on the
other hand, the strength and sincerity of the essay had been genuinely
praised, Martin's vanity would have been gratified.  But this kindly
tolerance, so well meant, was infuriating; it was typical Foskettism.
Perhaps what contributed most to Martin's disgust was the lurking
suspicion that his ideas were, after all, a trifle crude.

With Foskett, Martin was never in sympathy.  He was out of touch with
all the causes for which Foskett stood, and it was among the small set
of desperately serious and religious boys that the headmaster found his
champions.  The very fact that he had not taken orders seemed to them,
perhaps justly, proof of the deepest faith: in after life they would
all have signed photographs in their studies and point him out to their
sons.  'That's old Foskett,' they would say.  'Fine character.  Great
influence.'  But the popular verdict was against Foskett.  The really
strong man can get his way without criticism: he says 'Do' and people
just crumple up and do it.  When Foskett said 'Do,' things were done as
a rule, but the doer had a habit of saying, as he went grudgingly to
his work: 'Silly ass, thinks he's a Blood-and-ironer.'  Martin said of
him to his uncle: 'He's quite efficient and all that, and he's bound to
get on.  As crushers go, he might be a lot worse.'

And that was the common view.

Foskett took the Upper Sixth in composition and Greek plays.  Martin
could not help admiring Foskett's fair copies which showed undoubted
feeling for the classical languages, but he could never quite endure
his enthusiasm for the Greek drama.  When Foskett enjoyed literature in
public, it always seemed as though he was saying sternly to himself:
'This is good stuff and we've got to like it.'  He would stride up and
down the room with the text of a play, chanting the iambics or the
choruses as though they were everything in the world to him, and all
the time Martin felt that it couldn't mean so much to him, just because
he sought beauty with a fervour so literary and so incessant.  With
Martin, appreciation was a thing of moods, coming swiftly and as
swiftly departing: he could not understand how Foskett's enjoyment
remained always at high pressure: it must, he thought, be artificial.
Foskett's affection for Euripides was the most unconvincing of
enthusiasms: how could a man so far removed from Euripides in taste and
temperament really appreciate that passionate rebel of genius?  Martin
could have tolerated an open enemy, a thorough conservative who called
Euripides a botcher, and a dirty-minded botcher at that: but Foskett's
liberal attitude, sweetly reasonable to the extent of being nauseous,
was harder to endure.  It was not so much that Foskett had set out to
like Euripides because Euripides was fashionable once again, though
that of course was possible: but it was his determination to be fair at
all costs that was fatal.  Foskett was so pertinaciously fair, so eager
to do justice to both sides of the literary problem that Martin
considered that he didn't in the end properly understand or sympathise
with either side.  It occurred to him that compromise is always
necessary in human affairs and usually fatal.  And so while Foskett
declaimed the Electra and gave out the points to be noticed for and
against such treatment of the tragic theme, Martin shuddered and
sometimes sulked.  Intellectual isolation is not good for the manners,
and Foskett found Martin difficult: the two remained always at a
distance, never openly hostile, and never sympathetic.

Few Public School boys are critical of the institutions amid which they
are brought up, but it was natural for Martin to ponder, as he idled
through his last two terms, on the value of the things he had learnt
and of the habits in which he had been trained.  He had been interested
in H. G. Wells' pungent comments on the way we manage education, and he
was fascinated by the sweeping schemes of reconstruction.  Was all this
classical business, he asked himself, just a waste of time and effort?
Was he just groping at the door of a treasure-house whose contents had
long ago been rifled?  He resolved to consult Finney.

Though Finney was now always charitably treated by the Upper Sixth, his
warfare with the Upper Fourth was telling on him.  Even in a few months
he had lost vivacity and ambition, for he was beginning to suffer from
the spiritual blight that attacks every unsuccessful schoolmaster in
his time.  In a year or two he would be shrivelled up into an irritable
bunch of nerves, his ability wasted, his hopes stifled.  Martin could
foresee no escape for Finney, unless by some lucky chance he could get
back to Oxford: but that was impossible, for those who leave Oxford
rarely return.

Finney was willing enough to talk, but Martin was disappointed with the
conversation.  He was a Liberal both in politics and disposition, and
as a result he had no point of view: he was angry about things and
could suggest little reform, but there was no comprehensive unity or
vitality in his ideas.  He was the kind of man who makes great play
with the word 'efficiency.'

"We aren't clear enough," he used to say, "about what we want.  We
chatter airily at congresses about education, but we never really
formulate our wants and bully people into doing things.  We don't train
our teachers or tell them what is needed ... we just plug them down.
Besides the schools aren't to blame: we've got to keep in touch with
the two big varsities, and if they insist on everybody mugging up just
enough Greek to be a nuisance, we've got to see about the mugging.

"And on the other side there are the parents.  We don't get the boys
till they are thirteen or fourteen, fashioned all ready in many ways.
I don't know what the parents do want, but they certainly don't want
education.  Ask any housemaster about the letters they write: they're
nearly always economic.  Why does this cost extra and why doesn't Harry
get that free?"

"I suppose that's fairly natural," said Martin.

"Of course.  But it shouldn't be all.  It's typical of the British
attitude.  You buy your son an education costing so much, as you would
buy him a suit of clothes.  They don't care twopence about the teaching
or the curriculum, except in so far as it concerns passing exams and
leads to money.  Parents write about Tom's chances for Sandhurst, but
who ever writes about his classics?  It's all taken for granted, even
its sickening narrowness.  No one ever heard of a parent slanging the
headmaster because his son didn't know who wrote _The Alchemist_ or
because he thought Chopin was a music hall comedian."

"Do you suppose," asked Martin, "that fifty per cent of the Elfreyan
parents know there is a play called _The Alchemist_?"

"Well, I wouldn't bet on it," said Finney.  "Still there it all is.
Ignorance and muddle.  We've got so horribly linked up.  Union may be
strength, but strength may be tyranny.  Capital is all knotted
together.  Labour soon will be, and Education is in the same way.  We
can't change without the others changing, the others can't change
without the varsities----"

"And the varsities won't change till public opinion blows them to
bits," added Martin.  "So it all comes back to the dear old _vox
populi_."

"I suppose so," said Finney wearily.  "Come and have some tea."

Although he found Finney's suggestions disappointing, Martin continued
to ponder occasionally on the phenomena of school life, and when he
went to Devonshire for the Easter holidays he took the opportunity of
questioning his uncle, for whose views he had a great respect.  John
Berrisford was always willing to talk after his third glass of port and
he welcomed Martin's questions.

"Of course you know," he said, "that though I'm a revolutionary in
politics and economics, I'm a sound Tory about institutions and the
things that matter, like beef and beer.  So I believe in the Public
Schools and the Universities, not because they're good, but because
they _are_.  Everything that is, must be an expression of human nature,
and, being rather an optimist, I think it has some good in it.  Anyhow,
we can't take human nature and twist it about, as social reformers want
to do.  The people who cry out for Censors of Art seem to imagine that
Art makes public opinion.  It may do so now and then, but it's much
more important to realise that public opinion makes current art.  Art
is the emergence of what people are feeling and thinking, and our
schools, like our art, must be an expression of the national self."

"But the national self," said Martin, "is pretty stiff."

"That is true, but it doesn't matter.  My idea is that, being
Englishmen, we ought to make the best of it.  Smash international
capitalism, which is hellish, and stick to any good things England can
give.  Of course if you like to turn your destructive criticism on our
school system you can knock it to pieces in a minute, just as you can
knock out Socialism, or the Co-operative Commonwealth, or any other
sensible proposition.  A half-educated person can criticise anything;
it takes a man to appreciate.

"No, it's no use battering the Public Schools.  They are there, so
let's make the best of them.  They may not teach very much, but men
learn to behave reasonably and not to get on one another's nerves.
Tell me: if you had to live on a desert island for six months with one
other man, would you take a chap with ideas who had been co-educated or
privately educated and generally fad-educated or an unintellectual but
reasonable man from Elfrey, a person you could always rely on, if it
was only to be dull?"

Martin wanted the Elfreyan.

"Well, that says a lot for the schools.  You can't smash them until you
have smashed the British Character: of course that would be a capital
thing to do, but it's a stiff proposal, and while we are waiting let's
make the best of it.  I quite expect that at times you must have been
sick to death of Elfrey, but didn't you like it on the whole?"

"I think I did," answered Martin reflectively.

"Exactly.  You liked the chaps, because, with all their intellectual
limitations, they're reliable.  You know they won't play dirty tricks
behind your back.  You liked your study and you liked cooking enormous
and hideously indigestible meals and gorging until all was blue.  You
liked shutting the window on a cold night and collecting a crowd and
raising such a frowst that the air was solid and the windows steamed.
You liked smoking your secret cigarette and discussing who was going to
be the school wicket-keeper three years hence and who was the worst bat
in first-class cricket.  Am I right?"

"Absolutely."

Mr Berrisford started a new cigar with satisfaction.  "Good.  Then the
system hasn't altered altogether.  Oh yes, and you liked some of your
classics?"

"Most of them, when I could escape the notes and grammarian's drivel."

"The classics are worth sticking to.  It's no good these scientists
talking about translations being as good.  They aren't and there's an
end of it.  Good translations have their uses, but they aren't the real
thing.  We don't read Homer to find out what happened.  So let's thank
God for Homer and philosophy and leave psychology and applied mechanics
to the Life Force."

Mr Berrisford had certainly a definite point of view, and he did not
fall between the two stools of acceptance and sweeping reconstruction
as Finney seemed to.  So Martin was not only amused but influenced and
on his return to Elfrey for the summer term gave up worrying about the
pros and cons of Public School education.  He determined to enjoy
himself, and he knew that in order to enjoy himself he must have an
interest.  It couldn't be concerned with art, because in that case he
would have to keep it to himself.  It must be a common interest, a part
of school life.  Ultimately, he fixed upon the bowling of googlies.

His batting had always been respectable and had won him a place in his
house team for two summers, and now, as Rayner was likely to be engaged
in school matches, or practice games, Martin became house captain on
most afternoons.  Ever since the day when, as a small boy being tried
in 'firsts,' he had shivered with terror in the field and dreaded more
than death itself the agony of the fumbled catch, he had always envied
house captains.  Now was his chance: he could become a slow bowler.  He
believed that most things in this world can be achieved by bluff and a
little hard work, and it seemed a simple thing to get wickets if you
had unlimited power of keeping yourself on and had terrorised your
fielders into holding on to anything.  And so, weary of the Upper Sixth
and Foskett and even Finney, and wearier far of wondering whether the
Public Schools were right, and how and when the Trade Unions would take
them over, he found comfort in the googly.

During the holidays he had put up a stump on the Berrisfords' lawn, and
practised leg-breaks, waiting patiently for the desired freak which
should turn from the off.  Sometimes it had come, but Martin never had
the least notion why it came: still the essential and undeniable fact
was that it had come.  On the second night of term he put it to Rayner
that he was intending to bowl googlies.

"My hat!" said Rayner.  "And you'll be house captain usually!"

"Exactly," answered Martin.  "That is the point."

Rayner smiled grimly.  "Think of the house, old man!" he exclaimed.

"I shall.  Really I do break both ways."

"And how often do you bounce?"

"That depends.  Anyhow it's the googly man's privilege to pitch one
ball in six on his own toss.  Have you ever seen young Jack Hearne?"

Rayner neglected the question.  "Look here!" he said, "are you really
going to bowl?"

"Rather!  But I'll make you an offer.  If I don't take ten wickets in
the first fortnight with an average under eighteen, I'll never do it
again."

"Done!" said Rayner confidently.

Martin triumphantly kept his side of the agreement.  The ordinary house
pitches were rough and ready, the ordinary house player a slogger.
Martin's ordinary ball was well pitched up and apparently simple.  But
he had had his eye on two or three small boys in the junior team who,
though poor bats, could run like hares in 'the country' and hold on to
anything they touched.  These he translated to the first, to the vast
indignation of several clumsy hitters who were moved down in their
stead.  The policy was a success.  Martin used to go on first before
the other side were set and occasionally got a victim in the slips or
enticed a steady man in front of his wicket.  Then he made way for
orthodox 'fast rights,' but after the fall of five or six wickets he
would polish off the tail with atrocious slow stuff.  His small boys
were scattered far away and interfered considerably with an adjacent
game: they had plenty to do and were given an ice for every catch they
held.  Martin soon found it an expensive amusement and became extremely
unpopular with the tenants of the neighbouring pitch.

He never sulked if he were 'knocked off,' an unusual trait in a house
captain and a cause of popularity with his team.  And the fielders knew
that he only pretended to mind when catches were dropped: Martin was
incapable of being ruffled by a mere game.  As a result the eleven
played keenly and with efficiency.  Though Berney's had only one man,
Rayner, in the school eleven they succeeded in reaching the final of
the Cock House matches.  They were to play, just before the end of
term, their old enemy, Randall's.

Martin now became thoroughly engrossed in cricket.  He neglected to
work for one or two school prizes, but he knew that he could get a
leaving scholarship without difficulty.  Thus he became a more
prominent figure in the house and was, on the whole, much happier than
in the days of reading and thinking.  He abandoned Wells the social
theorist for Wells the fantastic romancer and combined _Wisden's
Almanac_ with Arnold Bennett for his literature in prep-time.  He knew
now that he couldn't bowl googlies at all: on the house pitches it
depended on the lie of the land which way the ball broke.  But he kept
up the fraud for his own amusement, and continued to take the wickets
to which his confidence entitled him.

The school were laying five to one on Randall's, who had far the better
record and were as usual a hard-hitting, level, ugly lot.  Berney's won
the toss and only made a hundred and thirty on a good wicket.  Martin's
first ball bumped a little and he poked it into slip's hands: Rayner
made twelve and was run out.  The runs were made by Martin's small
protégés, who scored by fluky shots over and through the slips.  It was
a disgraceful display.  Randall's knocked up two hundred and fifty.
Martin was bowling unusually well and consequently never looked like
taking a wicket.  The batsmen played forward correctly and stayed for
hours.  Even when in despair he tossed up the most tempting
half-volleys, they were content to play him along the ground for one.
Randall's never risked anything when a cup was at stake.

In the second innings Rayner put up a fine century and Martin made a
pleasing thirty: had he resisted the temptation to cut "the
uncuttable," he would have stayed in and served his house better.  But
Martin could not play cricket in that spirit.  The rest did little this
time and Randall's was left with only eighty to make.

The score stood at fifty for two when Rayner, who was, of course,
captain when he played for the house, put on Martin to bowl.
Spectators were moving to the tuck-shop to drown grief or express
elation.  Martin knew that it was all over and sent down, by way of a
change, a fast, straight ball.  Randall's captain was expecting
something very different, mistimed it, and was bowled: his successor
scraped nervously at a leg-break and was caught at the wicket.  The
next man survived three balls: the last delivery of the over was
monstrous.  It was pitched very short and went slowly away to leg: the
batsman hit under it and was taken far out.  A gift indeed.  The score
was now fifty for five wickets and the tuck-shop began to empty again.

Randall's were not the sort of people one suspected of having nerves.
But to lose three wickets in one over of the last innings is startling,
and Randall's were rattled, despite their stodginess.  Martin's second
over was weak in direction and pitiable in length, but he might have
been Barnes for the respect he received.  It was another maiden.
Martin knew well enough that if one batsman had the sense to go for his
bowling and treat it according to its merits the match was finished.
He took another wicket with a slow leg-break and then a brawny youth
named Coxwell came in.  He had been warned by his frantic housemaster
'to lash at 'em.'  He did so and scored three fours in succession.

During Martin's next over Coxwell was at his end.  He saw now that the
secret was discovered and that Randall's would knock off their runs
with impunity: he could imagine the gloating joy of Randall's, all the
greater because victory had been in doubt: Berney's would be in the
position of the mouse set free and recaptured.  In his anger Martin
bowled an amazing ball.  He had really meant to send up a "googly," but
it pitched half-way to the wicket and scarcely left the ground.  The
batsman drove it back and Martin, stooping quickly, just touched it
with his left hand: the ball crashed into the wickets.  Coxwell, who
was backing-up, was a yard outside the crease.  The batsman who might
have won the match had been run out by a gross fluke.  "The stars in
their courses," said Martin to Rayner, as they waited for the next man.
The score was sixty-five for seven.

Martin took all three remaining wickets, or rather the batsmen handed
him their lives.  They came in half dead with fear (was not a cup at
stake?) and demanded their own extinction.  The first played forward to
a slow half-volley and was caught and bowled, the next put his leg in
front of the straight ball on the leg stump, the last was caught off a
slow full toss.  That was how Berney's won the cup.

Rayner walked home silently with Martin.  "You great man!" was all he
could say.

"It was the great god Funk," answered Martin.  "They just asked to get
out."

"You certainly bowled muck," admitted Rayner.  "But it was all sheer
joy."

And though they pretended to treat the matter as a great jest, they
both felt a very genuine pleasure because they had won the cup for
Berney's.

That evening the captain of the School Eleven, who had heard that
Martin had taken seven wickets for twelve and thereby rendered Berney's
cock house, gave him his Second Eleven colours.  He had not seen Martin
bowl.

Martin took the news to Rayner.  "Well that," said Rayner, "fairly puts
the lid on it."

Together they shook the walls with laughter.  Life is occasionally
dramatic, and the finale of Martin's school career had certainly a
touch of comedy.

It is commonly believed that boys undergo regrets and deep emotions
when they leave school.  But Martin noticed that only a few Elfreyans
were moved at the thought of saying good-bye: some were charmed by the
prospect of entering a world of unlimited smokes and drinks and girls
and motor bicycles, others by the prospect of intellectual as well as
practical freedom.  There were some who really regretted the end of
life's first act, boys who had enjoyed the games and the friendships
and were now passing to office work without the freedom of three or
four years' residence at the university.  But those who were more
fortunate were eager as a rule to be up and off.  Martin had been
amused by his last term with its athletic adventures and he had come to
appreciate to the full his uncle's advice about making the best of
existing institutions.  Rayner, too, was a good sort and an excellent
friend.  But the prospect of Oxford, notwithstanding his gloomy
foretaste of the place, attracted him undeniably--no, he could not be
moved.

On the last Sunday night Foskett delivered an address and ended with a
special appeal to those who were leaving to remember the honour and
welfare of their house and their school as well as their king and
country.  But Martin was wondering all the time whether it were more
satisfactory to have won colours for good, solid cricket or to have
extorted a cup by mere bluff.  There was something pleasant indeed in
the thought that a real cricketer would go on with his career, whereas
Martin would never dare to call himself a bowler at Oxford: on the
other hand, there was an exquisite piquancy in the consideration that
he had set out to 'do' cricket and had very successfully done it.  Also
he had 'done' Randall's, and he was still boy enough to hate the rival
house with a fervent loathing.  As the organ thundered out the farewell
hymn, he decided that to succeed in a fraud which does no real harm is
a very gratifying process.  Then he pulled himself together and sang
dutifully.



XIII

Martin spent August and September at The Steading.  The weather was
kind and he could lounge and play tennis to his heart's content.  In
his spare moments he read Homer and Virgil, marking the hard passages
with a blue pencil, according to advice.  His cousin Robert, who had
just finished his third year at Balliol, was working in a frenzy of
confusion and despair.  He had devoted the whole previous year to
becoming President of the Union and, having gained his end, was now
endeavouring to condense all his Greats work into one year.  He had
foolishly given way to panic, which meant that his work was as
unintelligent as it was ferocious.  In the mornings he read Thucydides
and Cicero's Letters, smoking and swearing continuously.  Martin used
to sit in the same room reading his Homer, but concentration was
rendered difficult by Robert's habit of roaring when he came to a
speech in the text of Thucydides.  And when the roar was over he would
mutter in his distress:

"But the seeming firmness of those who will join in the contest is not
the actual loyalty of those who brought it on, but if, on the other
hand, anyone has much the greater advantage..."  Having progressed so
far, he would look up and say: "Did I speak?  I'm sorry!"  Then he
would return sorrowfully to his speech.

In the evenings Robert read Bradley's _Logic and Appearance and
Reality_; if Martin came into the room he would be met with an outburst
on philosophy.

"It's all bunkum," Robert used to assert, throwing Bradley (library
copy) across the room.  "Just organised bunkum.  I suppose philosophers
have to make up some twaddle to justify their salaries, but they might
have spared us the Absolute!"

Robert was very angry about the Absolute and used to draw obscene
pictures of it, adding appropriate lyrics.  Martin came to the
conclusion that Greats must be bad for the temper, but he was not
troubled by the reflection that some day he himself would be a
sufferer, for no sane person of eighteen thinks more than a year in
advance.

He began now to feel a growing dignity and responsibility.  Plainly he
was no longer a schoolboy, not even a god-like prefectorial schoolboy,
but an undergraduate and a man of the world.  Such status implied
duties, and he made efforts to cultivate a manner: he smoked a pipe
openly instead of cigarettes in secret: he also set about the task of
liking wine.  This did not turn out to be so big a business as his
first experiences had led him to expect.

Further, he began to prefer his tennis mixed: he had been happier
before when there were only men and they could have a hard-hitting,
vigorous set.  But now he wanted to display his newly acquired American
service and deadly smashes at the net to the girls who hit patiently
from the back line: he was inwardly ashamed of this desire to make an
impression on girls, but there it undeniably was.

Margaret Berrisford he had always taken for granted.  She was a year
older than he was and very often she went away, for her father was
taking every precaution to save her from the usual limitations of the
squire's daughter.  They were cousins and good friends and scarcely
ever spoke to each other alone: they merely said 'Good-morning' and
'Good-night' and played tennis together.  Because they were practically
members of the same family they never took the trouble to find out
about one another.  Margaret had beauty of a subtle, unimposing kind
and a strong athletic figure: moreover, she had brains and could talk.
Her interests were wide and she had an astonishing fund of information.
If she had been precipitated suddenly into the house as a visitor
Martin would certainly have fallen in love with her.  As it was, the
idea never occurred to him.

It remained, as frequently happens, for a married woman to inflict the
first wound.

One afternoon at the end of September Martin was leaving the tennis
lawn after a vain effort to play in the failing light on dew-soaked
grass.  He had stayed behind to collect the balls and was walking
slowly with three folded deck-chairs in one hand, while with the other
he carried the balls on his racket.  Suddenly he became aware of voices
and almost ran into Mrs Berrisford and a stranger.  He was introduced
to Mrs Cartmell.

"You can't very well shake hands," she observed.  "We're going in.
Suppose I take the balls."

"Oh, please don't bother," said Martin.

But Mrs Cartmell grasped the racket and took it from him without
dropping any of the balls.

"Thanks very much," Martin remarked.  "Do you play tennis?"

"In a feeble kind of way.  I'm out of practice too."

"We'll put that all right," said Mrs Berrisford.

"The court is quite dry, up to tea-time," added Martin eagerly.  "The
dew is very heavy later on and it gets dark soon, but it's all right if
you play early."

Martin's keenness amused Mrs Cartmell.  "Of course I should love to
play," she said.

To his own astonishment Martin felt greatly relieved.

Godfrey Cartmell was prospective Radical candidate for the division.
To pass away the time he had been called to the Bar, but he never had
any need or any inclination to practise.  At Oxford he had, like most
people, been President of the Liberal Club, and his faith was nebulous
but genuine.  He had had the good sense to marry a capable woman who
carried him off maternally and saw to it that he didn't hang about any
longer, but made his terms with the Whips at once.  Viola Cartmell was
neither egoistic nor vulgar, but she combined ambition with practical
driving power, and she had eaten the bread of obscurity far longer than
she liked.  Godfrey had chances, but she saw that he had picked up
during his first-class education a capacity for doing nothing in a very
charming manner.  She had already made him a candidate: she intended to
make him a success.

The Cartmells were close friends of the Berrisfords, and it was through
the connection that Godfrey had been introduced to the local Liberal
Association.  Now they had come down to look round: the seat was held
by a Tory but had sound Radical traditions, so that a change was not
impossible.  Naturally Godfrey Cartmell spent much of his time with the
agent: his wife thought it more tactful not to be too conspicuous at
first, for she had resolved that, when the time arrived, she was to
direct the campaign.  So she had time to play tennis and go for walks
and make, quite unwittingly, a conquest.

It was certainly not with any feminine charms that Viola Cartmell won
Martin's adoration: rather it was by reason of her difference from the
average girl who came to play tennis or to visit the Berrisfords.
There was no need to talk down to her or to make conversation, no need
to take the initiative and play the gallant male.  Viola neither
patronised Martin, as did the men who came to the house, nor expected
patronage, as did the girls.  She treated him as an equal and talked
about reasonable things; she had ideas and could think clearly.  If a
man had expressed her views Martin would have been interested, but the
fact that they came from a woman rendered them doubly attractive.
During the vacation Martin had begun to form a vision of the perfect
woman: it had been the ideal that appeals to most intelligent boys at
some period of their adolescence, the union of masculine mind and
female beauty.  He was old enough now to be troubled by sex, not as
something abstract that might crop up in a theoretical future, but as a
present pain and pleasure: in his growing restlessness he tended
inevitably to find his ideal personified in every woman who was not
quite a fool, the wish being always father to the thought.  Viola
Cartmell's masculine attributes, her managing ways, and her power of
thought and argument gave him a genuine excuse for setting her on his
pedestal.  Yet Martin's attitude was one of adoration, not of passion.
Quite apart from the manifest impossibility of making love, apart too
from the fact that, even if circumstances had allowed, he did not know
how to make love, he did not even want to make love.  He wanted to be
with her, to watch her, above all to talk with her: and that was the
limit of his desires.

On the tennis court Margaret and he were too strong for Robert and
Viola; accordingly the two Berrisfords fought great battles against the
visitors and as a rule prevailed.  But they were not invincible.  Once
Martin and Viola had lost two sets in succession and in the third the
score was five-three and forty-fifteen against them.  Viola had said,
"Now we're going to win," and Martin had performed the most impossible
feats at the net, smashing and cutting and getting back for the lob.

Martin finished the set with a perfect drive down the said line.

"Wimbledon," said Robert, making no effort to reach it.

As they went in to tea his partner smiled upon him and said: "You were
simply wonderful."

That moment gave him greater joy than he had ever gained from the
avenging of Gideon or the conquest of Randall's with fraudulent
googlies.

On the last day of his holidays (it is a nice point whether the two
months before a man goes up to the university are to be called 'summer
hols' or 'long vac') a discussion was held after breakfast as to
procedure.  Robert was sorry, but he had to give himself to the Ethics:
he had one day in which to settle the business of friendship and
pleasure (long neglected), and he had discovered to his horror that
some pieces of Aristotle must be learned by heart with a view to
translation.  Margaret had to go to a dentist at Plymouth.  At last
Martin asked Viola Cartmell to come out on the moor and to his joy she
assented.

They went by car to Merivale Bridge and then climbed up to Maiden Hill
and Cowsic Head.  It was a superb October day.  A great south wind came
up from the sea, salt and stinging but with no load of rain.  Down in
the village the autumn had kindled the first fire in the woods and no
hue of flame was absent from the leaves.  Shimmering with green and
yellow, gold and copper, the boughs made music for ear and eye.  And on
the moor there was the wind and the sky and the infinite sweep of ridge
after ridge, broken with harsh tors and intractable granite.  It may be
that the brave struggle of the dying year has its effect on man, for
there is something challenging in a good autumn day, something that
lifts and braces a man as spring can never do.  Spring, at its best, is
languorous and its pleasures cloying, but autumn is a rousing friend
and makes exquisite the burden of life.

As they ate their sandwiches by the Bear Down Man, Martin could not
refrain from quoting:

  "'And oh the days, the days, the days,
    When all the four were off together:
  The infinite deep of summer haze,
    The roaring charge of autumn weather.'"


And indeed it was in the face of a charge as of cavalry that they
fought their way down to Two Bridges.  There is rough going where the
moormen have cut for peat and trenched the heathery ridges in their
labour: and now, in addition to the need of leaping the rifts and
skirting green morasses, they had to battle with a wind that shrieked
and wrenched and gave no quarter.  They talked but little until they
sheltered in a hollow.  Then Martin took up the thread of an earlier
conversation.

"Do you really believe in this Liberalism?" he asked.

"Yes, of course."

"But do you think modern Liberal politics have any connection with
Liberalism?"

"Not much, I admit."

"Then I don't understand your point."

"It's quite simple.  I believe vaguely in Liberalism, but we live in a
busy world where everybody is far too much occupied to think about
anything except business.  Parliament's busy too: it has got to get
certain things done and it hasn't time for too much idealism and
spiritual attitudes and things of that sort.  And when it comes to the
rather dull but very necessary work of keeping things going and
administering the Empire, I prefer the Liberals, because they have got
leaders with brains."

"I see."

"You think me very worldly?"

"Not at all.  But I think you are wrong on your own canons.  Liberal
leaders may be cleverer than Tory leaders, but that doesn't prove
Liberalism to be efficient.  Just look at things!"

"And for efficiency you propose Socialism?"

"Not only for efficiency.  It's a philosophy as well."

"But we're considering efficiency.  Do you really suppose you have got
at your disposal the human capacity and good will and reasonableness to
build up a Co-operative Commonwealth?  I don't say man hasn't the
brains to plan things.  He plainly has, as you can see by reading the
wiser Socialists.  But he hasn't a corresponding capacity for cohesion
and give and take.  You'll have to depend on your Labour leaders and
Trade Unionists; but just look at them!  They can only squabble and
bicker and show up their jealousy and pettiness.  That's where the
stumbling-block lies."

In vain Martin contested.  His opponent confronted him with the old
dilemma (new to him), that if, in setting up collectivism, you
confiscate property, you act unjustly to many, while, if you
compensate, you maintain an idle rich class.  By the time that they
were once more on the march, Martin was becoming a devotee of
'efficient Liberalism.'  But he enjoyed his defeat.  If this method and
insistence had come from a man he would have felt very differently.

At last they reached Two Bridges and had tea at the hotel and waited
for the car to fetch them as had been arranged.  It pleased Martin to
pay for the tea with his own pocket-money (his allowance would begin
to-morrow) and to refuse to listen to demands.  She thought him silly
for the moment, since she did not understand how much he cared.

Dinner that evening was a capital meal.  John Berrisford was in his
best form and kept up a lively duel with Viola Cartmell.  Even Robert
managed to shake off the depressing effects of Aristotle.  They drank
to Martin's career at Oxford.

"You're certain to like Oxford," said Godfrey Cartmell when the men
were alone.

"I'm afraid I wasn't much impressed by it in December," answered Martin.

"That wasn't Oxford," interrupted Robert.  "That was a dismal city in
the Midlands seen at its worst."

"Exactly," said Mr Berrisford, breaking into the conversation.  "Oxford
isn't a place.  Everybody talks about the buildings and the age and the
dreaming spires.  It goes down with the Yankees and the people who are
proud of having read _The Scholar Gipsy_, and I suppose it keeps up the
picture post card business."

"But there are good things," said Cartmell resentfully.  He was of
Magdalen.

"Certainly.  But these things are incidental and not essential.  After
all, the best college--with all due respect to you, Cartmell, and to
you, Martin--has a front quad like a toy castle and a chapel--well, I
suppose it's the kind of chapel that particular college ought to have,
according to all tradition--a Great Speckled Warning against God.  Half
the most sensible people in Oxford don't know a jot about the
architecture, but they know Oxford."

"Then," answered Cartmell, taking up the argument, as behoved a
Liberal, seriously, "would you mind if the whole show--the educational
work, I mean--were transferred to Margate or Southend or some place
with a little air?  On your theory that would be a very sound plan."

"It has its points," added Robert.  "Just think of the progs on a
seaside promenade."

"And the sea," continued his father, "is limitless.  Many young men
would go down to the sea in ships and have business in great waters.
What a chance for enterprise!  Moonlight trips round the bay."

"But seriously," said Cartmell, still smarting under the implied
contempt for Magdalen's beauty.

"The port lingers at your side," was the answer.  "Restore the
circulation."

"Well, seriously," John Berrisford continued, when his glass had been
filled again, "to move would be fatal, because the traditions would all
go if you took them away from their home.  But it's the traditions that
count, not the place.  God knows I'm willing enough to be sentimental
about places.  I can even enjoy hearing the song about 'Devon, glorious
Devon,' sung by a Dandy Coon baritone at an audience of Cockneys at
Teignmouth.  I can understand a Scottish exile in America going a
hundred miles to hear Harry Lauder.  To my mind places are the only
things about which a man has a right to be sentimental.  No causes or
catch-words for me: but hills and valleys--as much as you like.  That's
Nationalism, and therefore Liberalism, Cartmell."

"I agree!"

"You don't, but I'll take your word.  But what was I saying?  Oh yes,
about Oxford.  Oxford is all right.  I know you get the worst wine in
the world there--I suppose it's specially imported for the benefit of
the young men of the world who believe that anything is nectar if you
pay more than ten bob a bottle for it--but you still find people
drinking properly.  Richly, I mean, and with conviction.  I think I'd
rather be a teetotaller----"

"Which God avert!" put in Cartmell.

"Amen to that.  Yes, I'd rather be a True Blue than drink one glass of
wine at dinner.  One glass!  It's an insult.  Now at Oxford----"

"But, father," Robert interrupted, "the don of to-day is just the sort
of person who does drink one glass of wine.  With a kind of ghastly
self-conscious moderation he sips some claret and then hurries off to
organise a mission meeting.  There aren't any good old fogeys left,
only some fogeys without the merits of fogeyism.  They've got
consciences and think about social reform and the possibility of all
classes pulling together before the last Red Day.  You know the kind of
thing.  By Good Will out of Nervousness."

"Well then," answered Mr Berrisford, "I'm wrong.  Oxford is going to
the dogs.  I suppose they had to let the dons marry, but they might
have foreseen that the kind of women who would pounce on the dons
wouldn't understand about the good life.  I expect it's the women that
are destroying Oxford.  When Oxford spread northwards, it spread to the
devil."

"But this is downright Toryism," protested Cartmell.  "You call
yourself a revolutionary!"

"So I am.  But I'm sound about tradition and things that matter.  I
don't want soaking: I want proper drinking and proper talking.  I
thought it might have lingered in one or two common-rooms.  Anyhow, the
undergraduates----"

He paused a moment and then went on:

"I remember Oxford as a place where I had some excellent pipes and
never took my breakfast till I wanted it.  It was a place where I
worked devilish hard when I hadn't anything better to do.  And I worked
sensibly.  No gentleman works after lunch or dinner.  He walks or buys
books after lunch and after dinner he talks.  You must talk at Oxford,
Martin."

"At debates, do you mean?"

"Not at the Union.  Oh, Lord, not there.  Robert has done that, and
look at him.  He's a broken man.  He used to spend his vacs wondering
how he could get the votes of Malthusian Mongols in Worcester without
losing the support of Church and State in Keble.  Didn't you, Robert?"

"I shall draw a veil over the past," said Robert.  "I became President,
anyhow."

"Be warned, Martin," his uncle went on.  "Speak at college debates, if
it amuses you.  But shun a public career.  Talk all night to your
friends, for afterwards you won't get talk like it.  You'll get shop
talk and small talk and dirty talk, but at Oxford you'll get the real
thing with luck."

Martin, remembering the tastes of Theo. K. Snutch, felt doubtful.

"Of course you'll find lots of nonsense there," John Berrisford added.
"Lectures, for instance.  They're nothing but an excuse to keep the
dons from lounging: it certainly does give them an occupation for the
mornings.  Just think of it!  There they are, mouthing away term after
term.  Either wisely cut----"

"Hear, hear!" from Robert.

"--or laboriously taken down, by conscientious youths with fountain
pens and patent note-books.  I suppose the Rhodes scholars use
shorthand."

"Possibly," said Robert.  "Certainly they have nasty little black books
to slip in their pockets like reporters."

"Anyhow the stuff could be got out of reputable books in half the time
with no manual labour of scribbling.  Sometimes the man's lectures are
actually published in book form and yet he solemnly dictates them year
after year!"

"But sometimes," put in Cartmell, "a man has got something original to
say."

"Well," said Robert, "why doesn't he publish his notes at a price?  I'm
quite willing to buy his knowledge, but I dislike having to waste time
and trouble in a stuffy lecture-room in order to get it."

"The whole thing is preposterous," his father concluded.  "But the
system will last for fifty years or more.  Just like the discipline.
So beautifully English, they drive everything underground, make it
twice as dangerous, and then pretend it doesn't exist.  Instead of men
having open and honourable relations with women, they'll be slinking
about in back streets and snatching their kisses in taxicabs."

"Well," said Martin, "you set out to praise Oxford but you haven't made
it seem very attractive."

"Oh! you'll find it all right, when you come to it.  If a man has got
to earn his own living it's about the only time when he can live a
reasonable life.  You'll be able to say what you like, read what you
like, go to bed when you like, get up when you like, work when you
like, and, if you use a little discretion, do what you like.  Don't
become a slave to any one thing, the River or the Union or even the
Classics.  You can get into the Civil Service without straining
yourself, so make the most of your time.  Doing the kind of work you
like is the only really good thing in the world."

Just then Margaret opened the door and looked in.

"Father," she said, "you're booming terribly.  Mother says you must
come and play games."

"I never play games."

"Well, mother says you must.  All of you!"

"Are we wanted at once?"

"Yes."

"Then, gentlemen, we must yield.  We were born too late.  The
matriarchy has returned.  Do you agree to that, Cartmell?"

"Certainly!"

"There was a time when no young lady would have the daring to invade
the dining-room and order the men to play games.  Games, indeed!"

"Don't start again, father," interrupted Margaret.  "I won't budge till
you do."

"Just think what you might hear!"

"Oh, I'm not a 'puffick lidy.'  They passed away with the patriarchy.
Now, come along!"

Games were a success because they were taken seriously.  Mr Berrisford
asserted that if he must waste time in that particular way he meant to
do it properly.  So they all exercised great ardour and ingenuity,
composed pretty rhymes, and drew the strangest pictures.  At the end he
insisted, however, that instead of taking famous men beginning with C,
they should have infamous people.  The test of infamy was to be a
referendum.  The game began well enough, because no opposition was
raised to such people as Cicero or Christopher Columbus.  But the
inclusion of both Cromwell and Charles I. caused a heated argument and
Cartmell was sure that they couldn't both be on one black list.

But Mr Berrisford exposed the crimes of both at great length.  Crippen
and Calvin both had defenders and the game at last broke up in
confusion.

Martin enjoyed the evening, partly from vanity (he had done some quite
clever things), and partly because he could watch Viola Cartmell
without being noticed.  To watch her was heavenly.  There was nothing
subtle or analytic in his adoration: for him there was just an
indivisible whole called Viola.  And that was perfect.

At eleven Robert declared that he still had some of the Ethics left and
retired to find out about the contemplative life.  Mr Berrisford took
Godfrey Cartmell to smoke a cigar in his study and the rest prepared to
go to bed.

Martin went to his room and then came back and lingered by the
staircase window.  As he looked out he could see a solid line of
fir-trees standing out with black severity against the moonlit sky, and
farther away was the long shoulder of the moor--he could see the ridge
they had climbed together and the rough peak which broke its symmetry
and made its splendour.

Someone was coming up.  It could only be Viola: the Berrisfords slept
on the other side of the house.

It was she.  Trembling, he heard the rustling of her skirts, the
creaking of the stairs, her voice by his side.

"Hullo!" she said.  "Star-gazing?"

"It's a great night," he answered.

She came and stood at the window.  The closeness of her thrilled him.

"I wish those owls wouldn't hoot," she said.  "Is that the ridge we
climbed?"

"Yes.  I did enjoy the walk."

"So did I!  The air up there is so splendid.  And it's all so
gorgeously empty."

"I've been up before.  But I enjoyed it much more this time."

Naturally she did not take it as he meant it.

"One doesn't often get such a perfect day, I suppose," was her answer.

Martin was at a loss.  He wanted to say all sorts of things:
fortunately they stuck.

She turned to go: "I'm sure you'll have a good time at Oxford and make
the most of it!"

"Thank you very much.  Everyone does seem to enjoy it."

"Good-night!" she said, and left him to go to her room.  The door
closed behind with a sharpness that hurt.

As Martin lingered in the passage it began to occur to him that he was
a silly fool, that boys of eighteen shouldn't fall in love with married
women of twenty-five or even more, and that, even if they did, there
was no point in being tongue-tied and nervous.  But what was the good
of self-reproach?  He wasn't to blame if she was perfect.  And she was
perfect.  To-morrow he would have to go up to Oxford.  He would
scarcely see her again.  There was nothing left of her now, nothing
except the boots which stood outside her door, their strong brown
leather stained with the peat of Bear Down and Devil's Tor.  At last he
moved quickly to his room and undressed.

As he lay half naked on his bed he recalled the glories of the moor and
the way they had talked.  God, how she had talked!  They had defied
that leaping wind from whose onslaught his cheeks still burned.  It had
been a day of days.  Then he heard Godfrey Cartmell come up and again
the door closed.  The sound of it hurt him.  How could she waste
herself on that correct, that unutterably correct, young Liberal?

Why was life so full of silliness, of waste and bungling?  Why ... but
one thing was certain--he would never, never forget her.



BOOK TWO

UNIVERSITY


I

"These 'ere deemagogues ... it's them as battens on the worker."

Martin woke with a start.  He looked round his slovenly 'bedder'
vaguely.  His scout, Mr Algernon Galer, was slowly pouring out cold
water into a bath and continuing last night's conversation.  It was
typical of Galer that he never dropped a conversation until he
considered it completed, until, that is to say, by his fiendish ability
to bore he had reduced the other side to silence.  At present Martin
had no other acquaintance in King's, for he had only come up on the
previous evening.  On reaching his rooms he found that the cupboard had
been filled with a quantity of jam and pickles and other kinds of food,
all carefully opened, so that they could not be returned if disliked by
the purchaser.  Galer pointed them out with pride as though they
testified his devotion to Martin's welfare.  There was nothing Galer
did not know about the ways of looking after a fresher.

This Galer was a small, bunched-up, greasy man with a ragged black
moustache, scarlet cheeks, and great watery eyes underhung by bags of
loose skin.  During the mornings he shuffled about the stair in a pink
shirt, green fancy waistcoat, grey flannel trousers, and lurid yellow
boots; later on he retired with a large black bag to the Iffley Road,
where he was supposed to maintain a timid wife and innumerable
children.  It was a matter of conjecture among the residents on Galer's
stair whether he wrapped up the coal in newspaper or whether the bag
contained coal and food exquisitely mingled.  By the afternoon the bag
had always achieved a certain bulk and wore a swollen look.  But it was
as a politician that Galer excelled.  No truer Tory than Galer ever
voted for Valentia or took the Empire to heart.  He did not exactly
know where the map was red or how it became red; not that that would
have mattered, for Galer was not the man to be worried about little
points of honesty.  But he knew that much of the map was red, and he
was genuinely glad about it: it seemed to him a logical inference and a
capital idea that the map should be all red.

Of the catch-word he was a master.  Few conversations with Galer were
allowed to end without some allusion to 'Hands Across the Sea' and the
Thickness of Blood (compared with water) and the 'Necessity for a Cash
nexus just to symbolise the brother'ood.'

But it was the new type of 'Deemagogue' that really vexed Galer.
During the previous evening Galer, after explaining to Martin the ways,
the abominably expensive ways of the Oxford world, had gone on to
elaborate his favourite theme.  And now, before eight o'clock in the
morning, he was at it again.

"Clors against Clors," he grunted.  "Wot I says is Capital and Labour
'as identical interests.  Identical.  These 'ere strikes plays the
jimmy with both."

Martin yawned, turned over, and pretended to sleep.

"Quarter to eight, sir," continued Galer.  "It was orl right when these
Unions knew their proper business and kept their contrax.  Wot I says
is a bargain is a bargain."  And with this discovery he went wheezing
from the room.

Martin got up at nine, inspected the tin bath which had an inch of icy
water on its blackened, paintless bottom, and concluded that it was not
inviting.  However, moved by his fear of Galer and a desire not to win
his scout's contempt at the outset, he splashed feebly with the water.
He deferred shaving and went to look at his breakfast.  In the
fireplace he found two poached eggs beneath a tin cover.  They had been
standing for over an hour and had become solid, resembling jelly with a
tough crust on the edge of it.  The fire had been a failure, the kettle
sat in obstinate silence, and Martin ultimately made tea with water
that had not boiled.  The result was a greenish beverage with shoals of
tea-leaves floating on the surface.  There were four solid boards of
toast, once endued, presumably, with the crisp seductions of youth, and
an immense roll whose spongy giblets would have beaten the strongest
digestion.  No one ever ate these monstrous things and what Galer did
with them was another matter of conjecture.  Some maintained that he
fed his family on them neat: others that there was a permanent
bread-and-butter pudding on the Galer menu.

Martin had come up to Oxford firmly convinced that he was about to sink
into Luxury's softest lap.  He found that he had to live in two dingy
rooms three storeys from the ground.  The "bedder" had a tiny slot of a
window opening on to the kitchens of a neighbouring college: the
"sitter" was slightly larger but just as dark.  All the furniture, for
which a heavy rent was charged, had fallen into a state of gloomy
squalor suggestive rather of Camberwell than of Mayfair.  The carpet,
whose flagrant ugliness of colour and design was obscured by the dirt
of ages, had actually given way in places and everywhere there was
dust.  Galer, who, with the aid of a harassed boy, had charge of nine
sets of rooms, had neither the time nor the inclination to do any
cleaning.  He flicked cupboards with a duster in a dilettante way from
time to time but further than that he never went.

Martin also discovered that the college did not contain hot baths and
that the only method of procuring such a luxury was to heat a large can
of water at his 'sitter' fire.  All meals, except dinner, were brought
through the open air across two quads and arrived in a tepid state; nor
was this improved by the fact that Martin lived at the top of his
stairs and had to wait till those below had been supplied.  There was
no service lift and no means of emptying slops on the stairs, and
everything had to be carried up and down the tortuous steps, even the
bath-water.  But Galer would have been the last person to encourage the
introduction of lifts; he was at least thorough in his Toryism.  Dining
in hall meant swallowing four abominably served courses in twenty
minutes.

"So this," thought Martin, "is the princely life," and he wondered
whether he would suffer the same fate as Uncle Paul, who

    "Was driven by excessive gloom,
  To drink and debt, and, last of all,
    To smoking opium in his room."


All Saturday he was pestered by invaders who wanted him to row or be a
soldier or join the National Service League, or the Men's Political
Union, or the Fabian Society, or the Tariff Reform League.  In despair
he joined everything, except in cases where the man talked about
immediate subscriptions: then he boldly refused.  But few secretaries
had sufficient enthusiasm to collect money.  So Martin became a member
of numerous societies of the majority of which he heard nothing more.
Sometimes he received a printed notice of various meetings which he did
not attend.  He used to wonder vaguely who paid for all the printing
... certainly he did not.

And so for the first two or three days of his residence he felt
pestered and irritable.  There were so many things to find out, such as
when and where to be gowned, who were freshers and who were
unapproachable seniors, what attitude to adopt to one's scout and one's
tutor.  It was all very perplexing, and although Martin did not suffer
the acute agony of apprehension that had made terrible his first few
days at Elfrey, he remained, in spite of all the hints given him by his
cousin Robert, ashamed of his ignorance and fearful of mistakes.

Soon he was sent for by his future tutor, Mr Reginald Petworth.  Martin
found him surrounded by undergraduates who called him Reggie and
conversed with unconvincing heartiness.  He knew that he hadn't ever to
say "sir" to a don, but he was not prepared for Christian names.
However, that would only begin after a considerable acquaintance.  The
crowd began to melt away and he was soon the only man left.

"Well," said Petworth cheerily.  "Let me see, you're----"

"Leigh."

"Oh yes, of course.  You wrote some very jolly hexameters for us in the
scholarship exam."

Martin was deeply astonished.  Two howlers!  "Why, I thought that paper
would have done for me," he said.

"Oh, you howled once or twice.  But you were jolly, very jolly."

Martin was silent and Petworth produced cigarettes.

"Um, yes.  Have a good vac?"

"Splendid, thanks.  I was in Devonshire most of the time.  Dartmoor
way."

"Dartmoor is good, isn't it?  I want to go down and dig about in the
hut circles.  I am sure they haven't done enough.  Passingham of Exeter
found some awfully jolly bones, besides some arrows and things.  Do you
like digging?"

Martin confessed that he had never tried: he would have liked to add
that he found the hut circles disappointing.  But he didn't dare to say
so.  This conversation was rather trying and he was relieved when
Petworth came to business and mapped out his lectures and hours for
showing up compositions.

"I'm usually in after ten," concluded the tutor.  "Come up and see me
and bring any questions.  And don't do less than an hour a day."

"That won't kill me," said Martin.

"It's possible not to reach that standard, I find.  Oxford is full of
things to do.  Don't do all of them."

Martin went away with a muddled impression of countless book-shelves,
two excellent arm-chairs, some nice prints, a little, bright-eyed
urbane man and a general atmosphere of invincible jolliness.  He was
not at all sure that he liked it.

For the first week or two Martin was the unwilling but abject victim of
Galerism.  Galer had a way with youths and could handle even the most
pronounced, aggressive, 'Damn you, I'm a man of the world' type of
fresher.  His influence, he knew, would never utterly die, but time
would weaken it: and so in the first few days he did his best to train
the new-comers on his stair in the best traditions of the college and
university.  Also he endeavoured to keep them from sowing political
wild oats: there was nothing Galer loathed more bitterly than carrying
up Radical or Socialist newspapers.  Martin soon began to hate the man
fervently.  He wanted to find out how one could change one's rooms, for
he would live in a pigsty to avoid Galer.

"Your cheese, sir," the wheezy voice would say.  "I see as 'ow these
deemagogues 'ave brought a lot of transport workers out.  Wicked I call
it.  Wot the Gov'ment ought to do is to be firm.  'Ave out the troops
and 'and out a bit of sleeping-draught.  That's my notion of ruling.
One of those there riff-raff killed a loyal worker."

"In other words, a scab," said Martin boldly.

"It's a 'orrid name to give a chap," said Galer.  "I don't see no crime
in bein' loyal.  I 'ope you don't 'old with these paid agitators!"

"I certainly hold with Trade Unionism."

"The Trade Unions aren't wot they were.  Oh no!  Swelled 'ead too big
for their boots and all that."

Martin made no answer and, while Galer rambled on, he saw that the only
policy was to declare himself a revolutionary and have done with it.
Of course Galer would despise him: but he might cease to argue.

The crisis came at lunch-time two days later.

"By the way, sir," said Galer, bread in hand, "are you 'aving a paper?"

"Yes, I start to-morrow.  _Daily Herald_ and _Manchester Guardian_."

Galer sniffed, threw down the food, and left the room in silence.



II

If Baedeker treated of Oxford colleges as he treats of Continental
hotels the visitor would probably be informed that King's is 'well
spoken of.'  King's is small and comfortable but plainly in the first
grade.  No taint of specialism mars its charming mediocrity.  It is
not, like Balliol, aggressively successful, cornering the university
scholarships and claiming half the important people in Europe as its
alumni, nor does it, like New College, combine a gentle attachment to
the humaner letters with supremacy on the river.  It does not aspire to
royalty or rugger Blues.  Most class lists contain one or two firsts
from King's and the King's eight never falls from the top division.
The college has two excellent quads, a garden, a pleasing chapel, and
some astonishing beer.  Its port, however, is the worst in Oxford.

King's men were essentially Public School men.  Few rich young men from
Eton came to a foundation which was neither particularly notable nor
particularly notorious.  Wealth is not scrupulous as to which of those
types it favours, but it abhors the mean.  Nor did the Grammar Schools
or the colonies supply more than a tithe of the college, which drew
mainly upon the middle rank of Public Schools.  Herein lay both its
strength and its weakness.  Its strength lay in its freedom from cranks
and bores, its weakness lay in its uniformity: a house which is not
divided in itself may stand firm, but it is likely to be a dull and
gloomy mansion.

Martin would have preferred to go to Balliol or New College, but as he
was paid eighty pounds a year to go to King's there was no profit in
grumbling.  And so he set to work to find company, in which respect he
was indeed fortunate.  While many of the freshers turned out to be good
men and dull, some even bad men and dull, the scholars were all
interesting.  The uniformity of Public School tone naturally drove the
more critical together, and in Martin's year the house was saved from
gloom by at least a partial cleavage.  Necessity aided inclination in
forming the Push.

The Push consisted of five men and contained a governing trinity.
These were Martin, Lawrence and Rendell.  Rendell, the first classical
scholar, was attached to what the others called the ineffable
effs--Fabianism, Feminism and Faith.  His god was paradoxical, but not
so exciting as Mr Chesterton's, and more interested in Social Reform
and Municipal Trading than in beer and ballads.

Rendell managed to entertain his various faiths without becoming a prig
or a Puritan.  During his first months of emancipation from school he
had shown a suspicious hankering after beans and djibba-clad women, but
Martin and Lawrence suppressed such tendencies with a firm hand.
Rendell, though not pliable on the subject of religion, yielded on this
point and soon declared his complete contempt for the eating of
vegetables and drinking of ginger ale.

Lawrence was primarily noticeable for size.  He was six foot three and
broad in proportion: he had a ruddy and cheerful countenance and
prodigious hands and feet.  Essentially he believed in violence.  He
didn't care twopence, he declared, for Fabianism or Construction
Policies and professed an intense desire to smash things, especially
religion and the social system.  He called himself a Neo-Nietzschean,
but he certainly could not have distinguished between Neo- and
Palæo-Nietzscheans.  To tell the truth, he had, like many followers of
that great dyspeptic, never read a word of him.  Lawrence hated music,
except the Marseillaise (for its associations) and the Barcarole (for
its effects) but he was taught at Oxford to like Sullivan.  He read the
poems of John Davidson and the philosophy of Georges Sorel.  In
smoking, eating and drinking he did all that might be expected of him,
and he could play rugger amazingly well when he was not too lazy to
turn out.

The trinity talked to each other all day and all night, and there were
soon very few problems of the universe which had not been
satisfactorily settled.

The need for a new point of view became apparent.

"Let's have that fellow Chard in," suggested Martin.

"Coffee in my rooms?" said Lawrence.

"Right-o!  To-morrow night, if he'll come."

"Oh, he'll come," said Rendell.  "He's rather sick of life.  Isolated,
you know.  He only talks to Davenant."

"Shall we have Davenant too?" suggested Martin.

"The ass with the ties?" said Lawrence; "and the cloak!  Oh, not him.
Oscar Wilde is a bit played out by now."

"He's no fool," said Rendell.  "I had a long conversation with him
about Pointillism.  He knows some of the Camden Town school."

"Post-Impressionism is less rot than most art," Lawrence growled, "so
have him in."

Thus the Push was formed.

Chard was the son of a political K.C. and patently marked out for the
acquisition of similar honours in the shortest possible space of time:
for he believed firmly in the Liberal Party and himself, a quite
irresistible combination in these democratic days.  He held no opinion
on religion or art, because they were not concerned with his career
except in so far as an open declaration of atheism was unwise.

Davenant looked sublimely down on politics.  Art was his sphere.
Having been appropriately named Aubrey, he had undertaken from an early
age to know all about Beauty.  He had learned the names of all the
unknown painters and could make great play with them: how much taste or
feeling he really possessed no one ever discovered, for he was one of
those disconcerting people who mingle acute with ridiculous judgments.
At times he affected a vague interest in the Catholic faith and had
been known to attend Mass.  Concerning the love of women he was at once
mysterious and supercilious.  He laid claim to a vast knowledge of the
sex, and by reason of a Continental year spent since leaving school his
boast of Experience demanded some respect.  In England, however, he
never spoke to women.  One night Lawrence, being tolerably drunk, told
him he was afraid of women.  Whereupon Davenant said he hated rosebuds
and liked his flowers faded.  Lawrence called him 'an unnachral beas','
and made a long speech about purity, in the middle of which he upset
his beer and swore most filthily.

Davenant's evening cloak, wrought of a dark but flashing blue, caused
its owner more trouble than joy.  Lawrence stole it one Saturday night
and, clad in it, went roaming through the town, to the great joy of the
Oxford maidens who like that kind of joke.  He made great play with it
in the cinema and ultimately left it in The Grapes.  When Davenant
called for it on the next day it had vanished, and he was not sorry.
The cloak had been an embarrassment, nor had he even really cared for
it.

But they didn't mind his posing so long as he avowedly posed.  He was,
after all, amusing, and at bottom he had a great fund of human
kindness.  Martin firmly believed that if he had to ask a friend for
help or advice he would rather have appealed to Davenant, the
apparently supercilious, than to Rendell, the faithful feministic
Fabian.

It must not be supposed that the Push became a Push in a day.  They
only worked up to friendship by rather heavy conversations.  They would
begin on politics or literature, talking at first with reticence and
slight suspicion, but soon their relative isolation brought them closer
together and made way for clearer statements and more liberal
confessions about sex and religion.  It was astonishing how soon after
the final breaking of ice they established complete intimacy.
Davenant, who had æsthetic friends in other colleges, was least merged
in the joint personality of the Push.  But all wise men need an
audience, and Davenant was not going to desert them while there were
still points on which he could gain a hearing.

On several matters they were in complete agreement.  They were all
'damned if they were going to row.'  The secretary of the Boat Club
turned out to be the Rhodes scholar, Theo. K. Snutch, whose rooms
Martin had occupied during the scholarship exam.  He pointed out gently
that the tradition of the 'cahlege' laid down that all freshers should
be tubbed.  Davenant managed to persuade Snutch that he had a weak
heart and Snutch, taking stock of Davenant, prudently forbore to demand
a doctor's certificate.  Chard magnificently refused to go near the
river and was henceforward ignored by the college athletes: but he did
not mind, for none of them had votes at the Union.

"The thing for us," suggested Lawrence to Martin and Rendell, "is that
what-you-may-call-'em strike.  Grêve perlé or something or other.  Stay
in and rot the show.  Catch a crab every other minute."

"How does one catch a crab?" asked Rendell, but no one could tell him.

Like most of Lawrence's intentions (he was rich in schemes), the idea
was never put into practice.  What eventually occurred was the
appearance of the rugger secretary demanding the assistance of Lawrence
'just to stiffen up his pack' and the speedy release of Martin and
Rendell owing to their dismal inefficiency.  Snutch was entirely
charming and Martin, who had feared a terrific, blustering coach, was
agreeably surprised at the experience.

Another point of agreement with the Push was the essential loathliness
of Hearties.  King's had rather more than its fair share of Hearties
and the freshers seemed likely to keep up the supply.  All Hearties
were religious, but all the religious were not Hearties.  The Hearties
always shouted at one another in the quad, and banged each other on the
back.  They always called each other Tom and Bill, and when they were
not back-banging, they were making arrangements for mission work.  They
did much solid work for the college athletics, took seconds and thirds
in history, and afterwards became schoolmasters and parsons and went to
Switzerland in the winter.

Rendell, who had a passion for classification, insisted on
distinguishing between neo-cardiacs and palæo-cardiacs.
"Neo-cardiacs," he said, "are more spiritual and more dangerous.  They
don't shout like the whole-hoggers, but their eyes glitter more and
they're keener about the new type of bishop.  Look at Steel-Brockley.
He's a scholar and a 'mind' and can't swallow all the rot of the old
school, but he's more sinister really."

"I suppose that Hodges is the ideal palæo-cardiac," said Martin.

"Yes, Hodges, the great ass."

"Of course he's out to set up a kingdom of heaven upon earth," said
Lawrence.  "And can't you imagine his idea of it?  It'll be stiff with
people like himself, all blustering round and organising things.
Football, Rich _v._ Poor.  Of course there will still be rich and poor,
for our Hodges is a Tory, but there'll be a spirit of fellowship oozing
everywhere."

"'Running things' is all these chaps really care about," said Davenant,
intervening.  "I don't believe they care a straw about their summer
camps and boys' brigades as far as the boys go.  They like to be in
charge of clubs and canteens and order kids about and tell them what a
good thing discipline is and how wicked Trades Unions are."

"Those are the neos," added Rendell quickly.  "The old ones like to rag
about, and there's something to be said for that.  Hodges likes
ragging.  Of course he is an ass, but he's not a dangerous ass.  On the
whole, we may call him a dear old thing and let him go on shouting.
But the bad men are Steel-Brockley's gang.  They all suffer from
bossing fever and can't live unless they're running something.  And
they're desperately fair-minded and don't believe in party, which
simply means that they are Tory agents, and tell the boys what a sin it
is to be discontented with five or six bob for a seventy-hour week."

"And they're dragging in the freshers," said Lawrence.  "Ought to be
strangled."

So in private they settled the business of the Hearties.  But in
public, partly because they were freshers and partly because they had
not the courage of their convictions, they found themselves being quite
polite to these good young men.

Religion had an ever-living appeal for the Push, because it is one of
the few subjects about which argument is as fascinating as it is
futile.  Chard, it is true, couldn't be bothered with metaphysics: he
was a history scholar, and his line was a first in history and then the
Bar.  But the discussions were never metaphysical in the technical
sense and it amused him to listen and sum up with an epigram.  Davenant
used to murmur that he thought Christ rather a beautiful figure and
that the Church had saved Art in the Middle Ages, but he did not
receive much attention.  It became more and more the custom to regard
Davenant as a picturesque background to conversations, except when
artistic matters were under discussion.  Then he held the floor, or
rather he stood gracefully before the fire and spoke slowly between
puffs of smoke.

They met most often in Lawrence's rooms, which were large and
conveniently situated on the ground floor.  He had added to the
dilapidated furniture some new cushions and a really good arm-chair,
and, having no money, he started a colossal bill at Blackwell's, so
that his shelves were soon piled with books which he rarely read.  But
he was not the man to care deeply for his rooms, as did Davenant, who
believed in Gordon Craig and used to mess about in the afternoons,
putting the light in remote corners or hanging up curtains of a new
colour.  It was well that Lawrence cared little for his rooms, as he
became invariably drunk on Saturday nights, and when drunk he was
violent.  He would lie on the floor kicking and declaiming Limericks
until someone put him to bed: even then he was known to rise again and
break things.

Lawrence swilling beer in his rooms was a great spectacle.  Usually
blasphemous and always obscene, he did everything on such a generous
scale and with such a childish innocence and honesty that he was always
attractive and rarely repelled even one so fastidious as Davenant.

It was on Sunday nights that the Push talked about religion.  Lawrence
would pull out the sofa and build up a roaring fire: then with the aid
of pipes and much swallowing of beer they would set about it.  Every
Sunday Rendell was pilloried, but the victim never objected and always
returned to the combat.  The great point about religious discussion is
that you can never be beaten.  They treated either with the truth of
Christianity or the value of its practical results.  In the latter case
Lawrence would boom about bishops with fifteen thousand a year, and
Martin would demonstrate with irrefutable logic that religion had
always resisted freedom and education and had made the world the hole
it is.  As they both talked interminably Rendell had little opportunity
of answering.

One night Lawrence rushed into his rooms shortly after dinner and found
the Push assembled.

"My god!" he said, plunging into the sofa.

"I thought you hadn't one," said Chard.

"Don't be obvious.  I'm angry, my god, I'm angry."

He was asked to explain.

"Steel-Brockley asked me to go to coffee in his rooms and when I got
there I found he had provided a lecturer gassing about the value of
faith for us."

"Well," said Davenant, "that was very considerate of our Brockley."

"Exactly.  But he might have warned me.  It didn't matter.  I couldn't
stick it long."

"I should think not.  It's barely a half-an-hour since dinner now."

"What happened?" asked Martin.

"It was like this," began Lawrence.  "Brockley produced a battered chap
from the colonies, all pockmarks and freckles, you know the type.  Of
course he began, as they always do, by saying that he had seen men die
in all parts of the world and they all died the better for their faith.
None of them seemed to live, or else he had a morbid mind and likes
death.  I don't know.  Anyhow he had the cheek to say that King's
spiritual life wasn't as strong as it had been.  He was deeply
concerned about us.  He whined about us.  He thought we were all going
to the devil because the scholars have taken to cutting chapel.  Just
imagine a little tick like that coming here to tell us, whom he doesn't
know, that we're not so soulful as the clean young men out West.  Thank
god we're not.  I gave him about ten minutes and cleared out."

There was a murmur of delight.

"I suppose no one heard you leave the room," said Martin, but Lawrence
never rose to jests about his bulk and gait.

"And there were all Brockley's gang," he went on, "sitting with all the
light of grace in their eyes.  And when the pock-marked chap got busy
in the impressive line you could fairly hear them thinking, 'God's in
His Heaven, all's right with the world.'"

"And a very good thought," said Rendell.

Lawrence would always rise to the religious bait.

"Just the kind of thought that you would expect from a well-fed Liberal
poet."

Lawrence opened violently a bottle of Munich beer and drained the
contents.  Then he gave a vast sigh of relief, pulled out his pipe and
stood expansively before the fire, exposing, unconsciously, a large gap
of shirt between his waistcoat and the grey flannel trousers whose sole
support lay in their tightness.

"It isn't God that matters," he declared.  "It's the Godites.  They're
worse than ever."

"They've at least begun to move with the times."

"Exactly," said Martin, coming in as usual to assist Lawrence.  "They
swallow everything new and say they meant it all the time.  I don't
mind good old burn-the-devil bigots, but this up-to-date Interpreting
and Restatement and Revaluation and Earnest Wash, it makes me sick.
Why can't they give up their tribal deity and do something sensible?"

"You're so beastly crude," answered Rendell.  "Oxford isn't exactly a
brainless place, and it's full of religion."

"It's full of a washed-out, watery, emasculate ghost of a faith," said
Martin.  "They daren't say what they really do mean for fear of giving
the show away.  So they talk about Evolution and the Unknowable and
'may be something in it.'"

"The religion of the Oxford don," said Chard magnificently from his
corner, "is the sickly bastard of nervousness and inertia."

"I'll give you a quid to say that at the Union," said Martin.  But
Chard valued his career at more than a sovereign.

"Aren't you men a little out of date?" interrupted Davenant.
"Chivvying priests and kings was about 1870, wasn't it?"

"Exactly," Rendell cried in triumph.  "You've done for priests and
kings.  Nobody believes in them any more.  They've collapsed, and by
collapsing become infinitely stronger.  Bradlaugh's brigade never
foresaw that, when you take away nominal power, you begin to create
real power.  The weakest side always wins in the end."

"Don't talk Chestertonian drivel," growled Lawrence.  "Nobody believes
it."

"It's quite true.  Religion is stronger than ever just because it's
weaker."

"The last flicker," said Martin.

Then the conversation, having reached an impasse, turned of necessity
and they were off once more upon matters episcopal.

"I don't see why a bishop should get thousands a year while the curates
are half starved," said Lawrence.

"They don't spend it on themselves," retorted Rendell.

"Only on palaces and motors and flummery.  No, my boy, it's all bunkum.
Look at the fortunes they leave."  Lawrence had collected a list of
episcopal fortunes which he read with glee upon every possible
occasion.  It was an excellent array of figures, starting well up in
the hundred thousands.

"Oh, chuck it," said Rendell.  "We've heard all this before."

But Lawrence read irrepressibly on.

"What about your needle's eye now?" he roared.

"Oh, don't be a child," said Rendell.

"That's all you ever say.  Childish!  You with your Athanasian Creed
and incense and swindling priests.  Ever been to Notre Dame and seen
the advertisements?  Forty days' purgatory remitted in return for so
many prayers!  And you call me childish!"  Lawrence had a fine flow of
metaphors and expletives.  He had been known to continue one sentence
for ten minutes, his oratorical method being to substitute copulas for
full stops.  He began jerkily, it is true.  But once the lumbering
coach was set moving nothing could withstand its impetus.

Rendell yielded and began to discuss with Davenant the personality of
Christ.  Lawrence continued roaring at no one in particular.  At last
he sat heavily down in his arm-chair, so heavily that one of its legs
gave way.  He tore off the broken member and brandished it wildly, as a
symbol of his attitude to all things episcopal.

As usual it was Chard who closed the discussion.

"Davenant's faith," he said, "makes me think of a mendicant professor
of æsthetics and Rendell's of the first secretary of the Amalgamated
Society of Carpenters and Joiners (Nazareth branch).  I move the
question be put."

His advice was taken.

"Beer," said Lawrence.  "My god, more beer."

And so the evenings would begin.



III

Incredibly the Push were blind to their amazing superficiality.  Even
had they suffered from an inclination to be serious, life came so
easily and so rapidly that it would have been impossible to do anything
but play with it.  So they trifled with wisdom and trifled rightly.
For when a man is only nineteen and has enough to eat and drink, and
more than enough to read and say, it were a crime to stop in thought
and laboriously dam the pleasant shallows of an easy-going stream.
Alike in the winter nights by Lawrence's fire or by the lingering
twilights of early summer when they threaded a maze of back-waters or
lay in the cool fastness of the college garden listening to the wind in
the great elms or the tinkle of a distant piano, they built great
castles of argument, flimsy and fantastic piles untouched by reality
and doomed to fade away at the coming of Experience.  They talked of
great things and small, of God and Woman and sometimes of Man, of
futures and careers, of the dons, of the college, of the varsity teams,
of books and plays and poets, of the coldness of the pretty girl in
this shop and of the wantonness of the plain girl in that.

They lived with an excellent method.  In the mornings they lay in bed,
thought about breakfast, ate breakfast, and read the papers.  In the
junior common-room there were all the dailies and on Wednesdays there
were _Punch_, _The Tatler_, _The Sketch_, and _The Bystander_, on
Saturdays the weekly reviews.  They were catholic in the reading, but,
if the supply happened to give out, they could always consider what to
do in the afternoon.  By that time it was one o'clock and they lunched
frugally and together.  In the afternoon they took their various
amusements.  Perhaps Lawrence and Martin played rugger, while Chard and
Davenant strolled round Addison Walk.  Rendell insisted on playing
hockey, insisted in the face of opposition.

"You can't play hockey," said Martin.  "It's no game for a gentleman."

"It's quite a good game," Rendell apologised.

"It may be all right for internationals who dart about and toss the
ball in the air and catch it on the end of their sticks, but it's no
game for incapables like you."

"I'm in the team anyhow.  And you, by the way, are winning renown as
the worst wing three-quarter in Oxford."

"That is probably true," Martin admitted.  "But it doesn't destroy my
contention that hockey is a scrappy, uncomfortable business and only
good enough for men who can't get into any other teams."

"You're a stark old reactionary," retorted Rendell.  "Hockey is the
game of the future.  There'll be a 'full Blue' for it in a year or two.
And don't make the obvious remark."

Martin didn't.  But he continued to jeer when Rendell went off in the
rain and came back with bruised shins and perhaps a black eye.  This
only encouraged Rendell to take the game very seriously, to turn out
always, and to run like a hare down his wing, whereas Martin and
Lawrence treated this rugger team with disdain and only played when it
pleased them.  The secretary, being hard up for players, could not drop
them altogether, for even Martin was better than his substitute.  In
the summer Rendell played cricket as seriously as he had played his
hockey, so that he just gained a place in the college eleven.  Martin
played sometimes for the tennis six and the other three fled, when it
was warm enough and at first when it was not--for such is the way of
freshers--to navigate the Cherwell in the communal punt.

In the evenings they dined out as often as their college would let them
and went to meetings of clubs or, on the rare occasions when there was
a play worth seeing, to the theatre.  Work they neglected, thoroughly
and with a good heart.  Chard and Davenant, who were to take modern
history, both failed in Pass Mods in March, but passed in the summer
after a fortnight's reading.  The other three had resolved that Honour
Mods could easily be squared in a long vac and two terms: they did not
realise that a year of idleness (or nearly two years, for none of them
had worked since gaining their scholarships) creates a habit of mind
which cannot easily be shaken off.  Two stiff terms are easier to
contemplate than to achieve.  Martin, indeed, had his uncle's blessing,
for John Berrisford had told him that the first year was meant to
broaden one's point of view: it struck him as a joyous process, this
broadening of one's point of view.

His tutor, Reggie Petworth, he did not like.  Petworth turned out to be
a "neo-cardiac" of the first water: even then he hadn't the decency to
be whole-hearted in his heartiness and wavered between complete
allegiance with Hodges and the college 'right' and a feeble attempt to
conciliate the 'left' as represented by Lawrence and Martin.  Petworth
had come from Balliol with the Hertford, the Ireland, and a Philosophy
of Fun.  It was Fun to write jolly compositions and Fun to set proses
out of George Meredith which bore no relation to classical thought or
idiom and couldn't conceivably be translated into reasonable Latin or
Greek.  It was Fun to be a High Churchman, Fun to talk about priests
and masses, Fun to date your letters by feasts of the Church, Fun to be
a Liberal and believe in the people.  Fun to have bad cigarettes sent
from a remote Oriental town because its monarch was a Balliol man, Fun
to collect things without sense or purpose, Fun, in fact, to pretend to
be a child.

"One doesn't mind Davenant pretending to be decadent now and then,"
said Martin to Lawrence, "because decadence always depends on posing
for its real point.  A man isn't a decadent unless he knows he's a
decadent and plays up to it.  But childhood is rather different, and I
don't see why blighters like Reggie should try and ape it."

"Just the Balliol touch," said Lawrence.

Martin was supposed to show up two compositions a week to Reggie
Petworth and to do occasional translation papers.  He attended with
some regularity to make up for his complete absence from lectures.
Petworth exhorted him mildly to make more strenuous efforts and told
him what Fun Demosthenes could be if one read the private speeches,
about mining rights and water-courses and assaults.  Whereupon Martin
was coldly polite and retired to renew his conversations about the
world at large, while Petworth would find a 'jolly' man and walk out to
eat lunch at Beckley, saying 'What Fun!' if he saw a pig with pleasant
markings.

To Martin, as he lazily reclined one September morning in the black
woods behind The Steading, the past was a vision of undimmed radiance.
Oxford had threatened but it had not fulfilled: rather it had grudged
him nothing of its plenty.  It had given him friends (miraculously the
Push had not quarrelled) and views and a year of fine living.  He knew
now how tainted by the poison of exams had been his first impressions
of that grey and gracious city, he knew that it was not just a Midland
town with a liability to fogs and floods.  Also he knew that his uncle
had been wrong when he said that the place didn't matter and only the
institution counted.  For he had even learned to love the lambent
tongues of mist that crept stealthily from the river to the walls of
Corpus and Merton and drifted over roofs and towers to the noise and
splendour of the High.  The myriad lights of rooms piled on rooms
flashing out into a blue dusk of winter, the reds and greys of
Holywell, the clatter of the Corn and the bells that told unfailingly
the hours of the night were now in his memory the blended symbols of a
growing intimacy.  He had found out Cumnor Hurst and Besselsleigh, and
the sweep of the downs clear-cut against the sky, and the old towns to
the West, Burford and Fairford and all the Chippings of the Wolds.  But
clearest of all in his memory were the canoe voyages made by Rendell
and Lawrence and himself at the close of the summer term.  Then, while
a horde of wealthy trippers came to Oxford to dance and flirt and hold
sumptuous revel, they pierced every dim recess of the upper river and
probed the secrets of the Evenlode.  They had bathed in the morning and
in the afternoon and again by moonlight, running in wild nakedness over
strewn hay to recover warmth.  At Bablock Hythe they had eaten cold
ducks and drunk cider in gallons: they had lain for hours on the Long
Leas gazing into an infinite dome of stars and waiting for the idle
nightingale.  And Lawrence had nearly murdered Rendell for quoting
Matthew Arnold.

Martin was eager to be back, despite the prospect of two stiff terms.
And when he was back once more in Oxford, no longer the leaf-clad city
of pleasant waters but grey and dripping with the autumn mists, he
found that both he himself and his friends had far too much to say.
They were all in new and more desirable rooms and Martin was free from
the domination of Galer.  He had chosen to dwell high up in the back
quad, where the windows were large and the rooms airy, and lately he
had revised his pictures.  This term he purchased some quaintly
luminous and misty landscapes which were the fruit either of startling
genius or blank incompetence.  As to which was the case there was great
argument.  Rendell, being senior scholar of his year, had been able to
claim the famous rooms of the college, oak-panelled and majestically
dark.  For Art he relied upon Rembrandt and Dürer: but then Rendell
never risked anything.

Undoubtedly they had all a great deal to recount, for sixteen weeks of
vacation could hardly fail to bring new friends and new experience, new
books and new ideas.  And the Push knew that there is no satisfaction
in mere discovery: it is the telling of a tale that makes for pleasure.
So night after night Martin neglected to settle down after dinner,
began to tell tales, and concluded, somewhere about twelve, that it was
too late to begin now.  Then they would play a rubber of sixpenny
auction just to make them sleepy and, playing till three or four, would
so succeed in their ambition that they could not breakfast till eleven.
Only Rendell refused to be tempted and went dutifully to his books.

Before long Martin quarrelled with Reggie Petworth, sulked foolishly,
despaired of the term, and began to rely on the winter vacation and the
subsequent six weeks of term to grapple with the problem of Mods.  He
spent a miserable Christmas at The Steading and came to the conclusion
on New Year's Eve that he had forgotten nearly every word of Greek and
Latin that he had ever known.  He did not look forward to the term, and
on January the fifteenth he went to Oxford as a lamb to the slaughter.

It was a term of infinite depression.  The early months of the year,
everywhere unkind, are singularly uncharitable to Oxford: the glamour
of autumn had departed and winter has no majesty in muddy streets.  The
days were yellow with a sticky warmth that brought exhaustion and
despair.  Martin, passing from book to book, felt always, at whatever
time of day, as though he had eaten too much lunch and would die if he
didn't soon have tea: it was that kind of weather.  He gave up football
because it made him sleep after tea: and then, being without exercise
or diversion, yawned all morning and read garbage after lunch.  Rendell
had his work well in hand and was, men said, sure to get a first.
Lawrence had manfully abandoned hope and sought consolation in beer and
bridge.  Martin, foolishly but characteristically, took the middle
path.  He had neither the energy to work nor the courage to be idle,
but sat mournfully with his books, gazing blankly at the pages and
wondering why it was all so new to him.  Then he would consult recent
papers, and his heart would sink yet lower as he realised his amazing
ignorance.

As the weeks slipped away he took to learning up lists of hard words
and legal technicalities.  He became a master of the Virgilian
vegetable and the Demosthenic demurrer, and though he knew the Latin
for burrs and calthrops and succory and bogwort, he would have been
quite incapable of distinguishing those herbs from one another.  Thus
do we study the poets and orators.  But it was distressing work.

And then he became aware of Pink Roses.  He noticed her because of her
ubiquity and partly, perhaps, because she was always alone: he noticed
her in the Broad, in the High, at a football match in the parks, once
in the cinema.  She was not beautiful, not even pretty: otherwise she
need scarcely have remained alone in a community so rapacious.  Usually
she wore a coat and skirt of dark blue and a little black hat with pink
roses.  Beneath her hat Martin had observed light fluffy hair done
witchingly about her ears and he had been able to notice that she had a
pleasing smile and the tiniest of dimples.  But her features, too heavy
to be piquant, were not strong enough to be striking.

He pointed her out one day to Lawrence and demanded his opinion.

"Oh, that's your Pink Roses," he said critically.  "Pretty poor stuff."

"She may be all right," answered Martin meekly.

"She walks all right, but she has got a face like a milk pudding."

Martin did not attempt to argue against this higher criticism.
Lawrence, he thought, was an old dear but he certainly lacked
perception.  There was something about Pink Roses.

And then one evening, when he was turning into a main street, he walked
right into her.  He smiled vaguely and apologised, but she had hurried
past him and did not hear.  He turned and watched her.  She stopped
outside the cinema and studied the programme: eventually she went in.
Martin had meant to do an hour's work before dinner and began walking
back to college.  Soon he stopped again and stood vaguely on the
pavement, gazing at the passing crowd.  At last resolvedly he resumed
his journey to the college and the poets.  Five minutes later he was
passing a shilling through the grille of the cinema ticket office.  It
seemed an age before a film ended and the light went up.  Then he saw
the Pink Roses flowering alone in the sixpenny seats.  As soon as the
pictures began he would go in her direction.  But when the time came he
felt self-conscious and afraid.  'Ridiculous ass,' he said to himself.
"You desert Lucretius for Pink Roses and now you don't even gather the
rose-buds."  And then again: 'Who is the silly girl--after all?  Here
am I, a scholar of a college, deserting Lucretius for that funny little
person!  It's too childish.'  So he rose to go out and walked instead
to the sixpenny seats.

The girl looked round to see who was coming next to her.

"Hullo!" whispered Martin as though surprised.  "Didn't I nearly knock
you over in the street just now?"

"Someone ran into me," she answered.  "I didn't notice who it was."

"I think it was me.  I'm so sorry."

"Oh, it didn't matter, thank you."

She said it very nicely and Martin was encouraged to go on.  It was
rather difficult and he wished he was fortified by a sound dinner.

"You come here a good lot?" he said at last.

"Yes.  Nearly every time the pictures change."

"Don't you get bored?"

"It's better than doing nothing."

"But the pictures are so silly as a rule."

"Oh, I like the pictures.  'Sixty Years a Queen'--that was lovely.  The
girl that did Queen Victoria was just sweet."

To his own surprise Martin did not object to her taste: he would have
loathed any other admirer of "Sixty Years a Queen."

"Do you know many people here?" he asked.

"I know some girls I was at school with."

"No men?"

"Not many.  I know Mr Carter; Brasenose, isn't he?  Do you know him?"

"Only by sight.  He's going to be chucked out of the varsity boat."

"Is he?  I'm so sorry.  He's awfully nice."

"Do you know him well?"

"Only a little.  I met him in here.  He asked me to have tea in his
rooms in Beaumont Street, but of course I couldn't."

So she had ideas about propriety.  There was a silence.

"Do you always live in Oxford?" asked Martin.

"We live out at Botley."

"Pretty deadly spot, isn't it?"

"Yes, it's something awful.  I want to go to London only my family
won't let me go into business.  I'm awfully bored."

"So am I."

"Why are you bored?"

"I've got an exam coming on."

"Oh, you poor thing!  I could never do exams.  I think they're horrid.
I do hope you'll get on all right!"

"Thanks very much!"  It pleased Martin to have her sympathy.

They chattered on.  Her name was May Williams and she seemed to be
very, very tired of Botley and her own company.  Before Martin went
away to dinner he asked her to meet him at the same time the next
evening.

"It's Wednesday," he said.  "So you'll get your new pictures.  I think
it's nicer at this time: there's such a crush in here after dinner."

May agreed with evident pleasure and Martin went back to dinner
rejoicing in his courage and his first steps to adventure.  He had been
right: there was something about Pink Roses, indefinable perhaps, but
plainly something.  She wasn't just one of the Oxford girls.

So they met again and on Saturday night they drove out in a taxi to
Abingdon and dined in rather squalid pomp.  Henceforward they saw much
of one another and had more drives and dinners and were happy: for both
had won a release.

They did not at all know what they wanted, but both knew quite plainly
from what they wanted to escape.  Martin wanted to throw off for a few
hours the burden of his work, which was neither mere routine, like
copying addresses, nor definite creation, like the making of a poem or
a good mashie shot.  This minute preparation of books and this learning
by rote of variant readings and emendations seemed so appalling just
because they defied both a mechanical application and a vivid interest.
And May wanted to escape from the frigid respectability of a red-brick
villa at Botley, where she lived with her father, a retired Oxford
tradesman: she wanted to escape from an existence which contained
nothing but meals, a bicycle, _The Daily Mirror_, and walks with the
girl next door.  So she invented an old school friend who had jolly
evenings in Walton Street.  Her father had the virtue of credulity and
allowed her to go her own way, and Martin's.

So much they knew and nothing more.  Martin never discovered whether he
actually felt any enthusiasm for May as a real person abstracted from
Mods and his own despair and the black mass of circumstance: he didn't
think about it, but just took her as she was.  There were times when
she amused him and gave him pleasure, and times when he thought that
the satisfaction of her kisses was as nothing to the boredom of her
conversation.  Yet, because he was young and simple and far more
conscientious than he would have cared to admit to the advanced young
men of the Push, he was not prepared to confess to himself that she was
just an amusement.  The Martin who talked so airily in Lawrence's rooms
about women and the world was an innocent impostor: as a matter of fact
the Push, also conscious and a little ashamed of their own excessive
virtue, were not taken in by his magniloquence.  May was equally
ignorant about her own attitude and intentions.  She was not at all a
fast or desperate young woman: an impartial critic might even have
noticed in her a leaden morality.  But her conscience did not forbid
the unaccustomed thrill of a lover's attendance and the subsequent lie
of convenience.  No one had ever encouraged her to think things out or
to formulate her purposes.  Consequently she drifted placidly, and if
conscience whispered or Martin suggested another evening's pleasure, it
was too much trouble to listen to the one or refuse the other.

Mods were to begin on a Thursday.  On the preceding Saturday Martin was
going down to the Berrisfords to seek fresh air and to forget the
existence of Demosthenes.  He had wanted to stay and cram to the end,
but ultimately he had yielded to Petworth's advice and decided to go.
At eleven o'clock on the Friday night he was wandering back alone
through Osney.  He had walked with May along the Eynsham Road: it had
been a perfect night with the moon hanging over Wytham Woods like a
silver slit in a cloth of blackest fabric.  But May didn't bother about
the moon, and they had gone to a deserted barn where they had met
before, a good enough place for lovers in the mood but otherwise
draughty and forlorn.  They had not quarrelled: neither had alluded to
the possibility of such a thing.  But Martin had thought May dull and
May had thought Martin cold.  The evening had not been a success, and
the fact that it had not been a confessed failure made it all the
worse, for Martin had arranged to see her again on Wednesday night
before his exam.

Now, as he tramped slowly home, he fell into a great anger and despair.
That night at least he might have devoted to learning the long lists of
words which he had so laboriously compiled.  But he hadn't: he had
dallied in an outhouse with a girl who didn't think, didn't know,
didn't care, a girl whose only attraction lay in her wistful eyes and
an engaging atmosphere of loneliness.  To have to philander in back
roads and crumbling sheds--how revolting it all was when he looked at
it in cold blood.  To have to--well, perhaps he hadn't to, but life,
with its misery of Mods, wasn't much fun if he didn't.  This was the
only escape.  Martin wanted to meet women openly, if he had to meet
them, and to face things clearly and honestly.  But he couldn't do so
because of morality, official morality with its peeping proctors and
furtive pettiness.  How Lawrence and he had thrashed it all out!  It
seemed that men should have honourable and reasonable relations with
women, and yet, because of decency, it came to this.  Wherever man met
woman, there also must be mean slinking and shame-faced meeting, taxis
and back lanes and a sordid round of evasion.  Earlier in the term the
sheer joy of release had blinded him to the squalor of it.  Now, when
enchantment had been staled by habit, his fastidiousness returned.  It
wasn't only that Pink Roses were beginning to fade: he was beginning to
realise that pleasure demands its pleasance and Pink Roses an adequate
rose-bed.

And then came four days of Devonshire, with clear winds from the sea
such as never breathed strength and spirit into Oxford's mellow torpor:
four days too of The Steading's restful beauty, of real hills and
whispering coverts.  And there were two days of golf on a distant
course, a season of great hitting with driver and brassie, fierce
efforts to make "fours" of fives, with rare successes and frequent
disaster.  In the evenings John Berrisford was more wonderful than ever.

Nor was fresh company wanting.  Margaret had a friend staying with her,
a Miss Freda Neilson.  At first Martin thought her insignificant, but
he soon saw that her insignificance was intensely significant.  She
wasn't just a small and timid person with nothing to be said for or
against her.  In her quick-glancing eyes of deepest brown lurked
courage and speculation, and there was a charming ease about her
clothes and the swift movements of her body.  She certainly was not a
frowsy intellectual, and the fact that Margaret had brought her down
for inspection was a guarantee that she wasn't a stupid little thing.

Martin had talked a little to her on Saturday night: after breakfast on
Sunday he noticed her on a seat in the garden enjoying the strong
sunshine.  He went towards her and looked over her shoulder.  She was
reading one of Mr Berrisford's more private French works.  Careless of
Margaret to leave it about!

"On Sunday, too!" said Martin.

"Just to counteract the very English breakfast," she laughed.  "I don't
think I ever ate so much in my life since I came here."

"My uncle's sound about breakfast.  Those were true sausages."

"I suppose so.  I don't think I'm very good at sausages.  I'm afraid I
hanker after rolls and fruit and things."

"Then you're all wrong.  You've no case at all."

"And who gave you permission to lay down the law about taste?"

"My own common-sense.  How can two people talk unless someone starts by
dogmatising?  Supposing I started off, 'Sausages may possibly, if they
are good ones and of sound pork richly fried, seem nice to some people,
the world being as it is,' ... we wouldn't get far, would we?"

"And who said I wanted conversation?"

"I ventured to deduce it from the fact that you looked round when you
thought I wasn't looking."

"I never did."

"Didn't you?  Then I made a bad shot.  I'm sorry!"

Martin wasn't very happy about this rather heavy beginning.  The
conversation was floundering hopelessly.  Freda, seeing this, took him
firmly in hand.

"Well," she said, closing the sinister work of decadence, "as you've
come, you'd better stay and enjoy the sunshine and take an interest in
me."

"Will you take one in me?"

"Oh yes!  Fair play.  Don't let's talk stilted rubbish any more: it's
such an effort.  Now then, I'll begin.  What about Oxford and Mods?"

So he told her the weary tale.  She was sympathetic in a rather
challenging, offensive way, which he enjoyed.

"And now you?" he said.

"Oh, I'm just an office girl.  I ought to read _The Mirror_ and _The
London Mail_, but I don't.  You know Margaret was doing some work for
the Women's Trade Union Movement: that's how she ran into me.  I do the
typing in the office where she works.  We had a rush of work owing to
the strikes in Lancashire and my silly health collapsed.  She brought
me down here.  The Berrisfords have been awfully good to me."

"Do you like being in the office?" asked Martin.

"It might be worse, because the letters I have to type are sometimes
about something mildly interesting.  Just fancy having to do business
letters all day.  But the society is so short of funds that they work
me hard and don't overpay me."

"I always knew that sweating began with the charity-mongers.  But I
thought your people might be a bit better."

"I suppose I oughtn't to grumble.  Shouldn't I pay a small sacrifice to
the great cause of Efficiency?"

"I hate Collectivism.  I mean the Efficiency type."

"So young, my lord, and a Syndicalist?"

"In parts.  Anyhow, they might treat you better." Martin spoke with
conviction.

"It's nice of you to be worried, but you needn't.  I used to be a
school-ma'am and teach English literature to girls with pigtails and
secret societies to giggle about.  Can't you imagine me?  We always did
_As You Like It_ or _The Tempest_.  That was just hell.  I'd much
sooner pinch and scrape in London than live in a school with bells and
prayers and the younger members of my own sex.  It was quite a good
post and everyone said I ought to have stayed on.  But I just couldn't.
So now I have only myself to blame if I'm unhappy."

"I think it was very plucky of you," was all Martin could think of.

"Oh, I'm safe enough.  I don't starve, you know.  But there's not much
over for books."

"It must be rotten!"

There was a silence.

"Do the Berrisfords go to church?" Freda asked suddenly.  "I only came
on Tuesday."

"No, rather not."

"Thank God!"

"Then you aren't one of the faithful?"

"No.  Taking the girls to church had a bad effect on my temper.
Besides, after all----"

"Well?"

"I'm keen on philosophy.  Are you?"

"I'm going to be when I begin Greats."

"Don't you like it now?"

"In a crude sort of way.  We're always talking about God at Oxford."

"That must be splendid.  I have to do it with myself, but I don't get
any further."

"Than what?"

"Than a tremendous conviction that there can't be one."

"There isn't."

"You've settled it?"

"Long ago."

"I suppose," said Freda, "that people laugh at you, like they do at me.
I don't care.  Margaret talks about the Unknowable and says I'm
presumptuous.  I hate the Unknowable: it seems so cowardly, somehow."

"You're quite right," decided Martin.  "The Unknowable is the limit."

"But we mustn't agree about everything," Freda put in: "otherwise it
will be frightfully dull."

"Well, let's talk about Art," he suggested.  "We're bound to quarrel
then."

And they did.  It was astonishing how soon lunchtime arrived.

Later on they talked about everything in the world.  Martin knew that
he had found what he wanted, a woman with an undergraduate's mind.  In
a way it was like talking to one of the Push, but yet there was all the
difference in the world.  Why there should be that difference he
couldn't tell.  But there it undeniably was.  To meet men who could
argue was good: to meet a woman who said the same sort of things was
more than good.  Freda walked with him on the moor on Tuesday, and he
had the chance of helping her over bogs and chasms.  On that evening
she accepted a billiard lesson at his hands.  Of these opportunities he
made the most.  May Williams had at least had an educational value.

These four days were magically sundered from the rest of life: he had
succeeded, to his own great surprise, in forgetting Oxford altogether.
But the day of reckoning was at hand, and when Martin settled down in
the train on Wednesday he fell at once from the heights to the depths.
To begin with, he was going back to Mods.  Before the tumult of his
mind flashed visions of texts marked with blue lines, texts which he
had omitted to look up.  He wondered whether he really knew about
Ulysses' abominable boat and whether he remembered which words in the
Greek meant dowels and trenails.  And he was going back to Pink Roses.
The squalor of it!  To-night he was to meet her and slink away
somewhere.  He couldn't, he simply couldn't!  He had learned, rather he
thought he had learned, what a conversation with a woman ought to be.
There could be no more whisperings with May.  On reaching Oxford Martin
sent a telegram: he was unavoidably prevented from seeing her.  He felt
that he ought to be angry with himself because it didn't hurt him to
treat her like this: but his conscience failed to rise to the
situation.  Quite plainly he had done with May.

Mods in the actual presence afforded him eight days of consummate
torture.  It was all right for Rendell, who knew his work thoroughly,
and Lawrence, who didn't know it at all.  They could view their papers
without concern, the one scribbling diligently, the other yawning
complacently, guessing words, and tossing up with a penny when there
seemed to be two equally probable meanings to a passage for construe.
But for Martin every prepared paper was a thing of reminiscence and
suggestion.  He knew just enough to appreciate his own ignorance: as he
stared at the passages on which he had to comment he recognised them
with maddening vagueness as a man who cannot put a name to a face he
knows.  Hauntingly they seemed to cry out at him: "You saw me last
January, but you don't know what the devil I'm about."  While Rendell
used his knowledge and Lawrence his imagination, Martin sweated and
racked his memory and got everything half right.  His nerve went and he
began, he thought, to make a mess of his composition.  Afterwards he
was left with a blur of sensations and images which included a large
clock and a smiling invigilator, aching hands and nights of relentless
preparation.

When it was all over he hurried down to Devonshire, leaving Lawrence to
forty-eight hours of continuous intoxication.  Freda would still be
there.  But, to his fury, he discovered that she had gone to Paris with
Margaret.  He sulked obviously, and hated the whole world: life and
letters had tended to leave his nerves raw and anything stung him.
Finally he went to join Rendell and Lawrence in Belgium, and there,
with Memling and Bock and conversation, he forgot his woes.  The exam
results came to them at Rochefort, rich in grottoes, that notable town
of the Ardennes.  Rendell had taken a first, Martin a second, and
Lawrence a third.  Martin had entertained fears of a third and Lawrence
of a fourth, so they agreed that things have been worse.

"Anyhow," said Martin, as they went in search of tea and _gateaux_,
"that's an end of those infernal classics."  Which was both an error on
his part--for in Greats, as he later on discovered, one deals mainly
with translation--and a commentary on the plain man's attitude to the
poets and orators by the time that he has been taught all about them.



IV

The summer term was a joyous interlude.  Martin and Lawrence had
nothing to do but play tennis or regard the world from a punt, and an
early summer encouraged these methods of killing time.  Rendell was
cajoled by Petworth into entering for the Hertford scholarship, which
involved some attention to the Latin language.  While Martin read
novels Rendell was perusing some of the worst poetry that the world has
ever produced, it being the habit of the examiners to select passages
from the frigid obscurity of Silver Latin.

"There's your classical education," shouted Lawrence contemptuously.
"Silius Italicus and drivel about Etna and its siphons."

Rendell had to admit that, taken as a whole, Latin literature made a
poor show.

"There's Lucretius and Catullus," he said.

"They're all right," said Lawrence.  "But who else is there?  Virgil,
the Victorian before his time.  The cave scene, so refined and all
that.  Better than old Arthur from the barge.  Virgil the most blatant
pirate and lifter of literary goods that ever made a name.  Virgil who
couldn't even translate the originals right and showed himself to be a
fool as well as a knave.  If we're going to have thieves, let's have
them competent.  Virgil!  Ugh!"

Lawrence always spoke like this about Virgil: the subject gave him
eloquence, and the others had long ago ceased to argue with him on this
theme.  To withstand his river of rhetoric was like trying to make a
match-box float up-stream.

"No, my lad," he continued, "you are making a distinct fool of yourself
by believing Mr Petworth's flattery.  Not only is Latin literature rot,
but that rot will be more efficiently done by those intolerable
creatures from Balliol, who think of nothing else but these pots.
You're wasting valuable time, failing to improve your execrable tennis,
and demeaning yourself into the bargain.  I wouldn't compete with those
swine."

Of course Rendell took no notice and continued to read the more obscure
Romans.  But Lawrence was right; he did himself no good.

In June Martin went down to Devonshire.  Only his uncle and aunt were
at home: Margaret was abroad and Robert was working in chambers in
town.  Martin had much time for recalling the past and considering the
future.  He saw now that a day of reckoning was at hand.  For two
years, with the exception of a few weeks, he had taken life very, very
easily, and it was inevitable that he should begin to take it with
corresponding seriousness.  He would have to settle down: his second in
Mods had been a fluky affair, based rather on previous knowledge than
on any real work done at Oxford.  "Greats" would depend on genuine
reading, and after Greats the Civil--and his livelihood.  Probably he
would have to go to India: how unthinkable it all was!  Martin thought
of India as a very hot place, where you either died before you got your
pension or sat in clubs drinking whisky and soda with bullet-headed
soldiers who didn't know the difference between Chopin and Cézanne,
didn't know probably that such people had been.  The future became
hatefully plain.  Either he would fail for the Civil and go to slave
dismally at Wren's or else he would pass and go out to Colonels or to
death.  He wanted none of these things: he wanted books and friends and
work in London, just enough work to neglect.  It was scarcely possible
for him to get a job at home and he hadn't money enough for the Bar.
In fact he hadn't a penny, and he knew that his uncle couldn't help
him: as it was, Mr Berrisford had been more than generous.

It was a bad prospect.  To make matters worse, he set out to read
Herodotus.  He had been told that Herodotus was the jolliest man on
earth (of course by Petworth) and he expected a treat.  He found two
immense volumes about nothing in particular, which contained a
description of the world, occasionally amusing but more often fruitful
only of hard words.  What it all had to do with the Greek states and
why the father of history had chosen to write almost anything but
history, and that in the most muddled way possible, he found it hard to
discover.  And then he tried the ethics of Aristotle: he penetrated as
far as Book V. and then gave way.  For two whole days he yawned and
swore alternately.  There was not even anyone to talk to.

One night he decided to put the case to his uncle.  He approached it in
a rather tentative way after dinner as they sat smoking.

"Don't you ever get tired of being the country gentleman?" he asked.

"Frequently," said John Berrisford.

"Does it pass off, or what do you do about it?"

"Sometimes I go up to town to a company meeting and sometimes I bravely
defy boredom by catching, or failing to catch, trout."

"And it works?"

"Tolerably.  But why this anxiety about country life?"

"It just occurred to me."

After a silence, John Berrisford said to Martin:

"You've got a lit of depression and you want to meet men and talk about
Art or the good life or women.  It's quite right and natural that you
should.  Where have all your set vanished to?"

"Two or three have gone to Paris."

"Well, go thou and do likewise."

Martin paused.  "I'm afraid I can't afford it.  I've only got twelve
pounds to keep me going till October.  And I've got some bills as it
is."

"I'll give you twenty-five.  Go and talk your head off.  Do some work
too."

"It's frightfully good of you.  They were going to work.  They're
living very cheaply in rooms somewhere: later on, when it's too hot,
they're going into Brittany."

"Well, I don't know how long the money will last, but we'll expect you
when we see you."

"Thanks awfully!"

"Now let's walk in the garden."

It was a perfect midsummer evening.  Away to the west the sky was still
red with the sunset and higher up above them the changing hues of opal
merged into a lustrous blue which again was turned to steel in the
summit of the vault.  To the east shapely stems of firs rose to a black
bulk of branches, spread out against the sky like tails of giant
peacocks.  And behind them was the splendid body of the moor with its
great bosom of heather towering into nipples of stone.  The night,
which had stolen away colour and left only light and shade, had given
strength and meaning to every line and curve and silhouette.  They
walked over soft, clinging grass to a paddock dotted with hen-coops,
where the tiny pheasants were wont to squeak and scuttle.  The black
line of a distant bank twinkled with the tails of startled rabbits and
an owl clattered heavily through leafy boughs.  Then followed a
silence, vivid and unforgettable, but soon to be broken by the shrill
note of a bat that came and went with magic swerve and speed.

"Well," said John Berrisford, after lighting a fresh cigar, "isn't this
rather convincing?"

"About the country, you mean?"

"Yes.  On such a night do you thirst for Paris and café chatter with a
drink-sodden Futurist?"

"It's too clear," answered Martin, looking round.  "Perhaps to-morrow
night it will be pouring, and then even you may have a hankering after
the roar of traffic and the fine smell of a city."

"My dear Martin, you're impossible.  You can't have everything your own
way.  If you intend to worship at one shrine you've got to keep it up
for a bit and give the deity a chance of getting hold of you."

"And what if you don't believe in worshipping deities?"

"Then you'll be very unhappy."

"But you don't worship and you profess to be happy?"

"Don't I worship?"

"It's the first I've heard of it."

"How do you suppose I would be here now if I didn't worship the place?
I'm a positive mystic."

"And the mystery?"

"The blessed mystery of Ham and Eggs."

"It sounds very fleshly.  Tell me about it."

"Fleshly!  It's the most spiritual thing on earth: in fact it's the
cardinal point in the country gentleman's faith.  But I'd better
explain it all from the beginning.  Just after I'd left Oxford your
grandfather died and left me this estate.  I was young and rebellious,
as every young man should be, and I can tell you I didn't enjoy the
prospect of settling down as a squire.  Like Herrick, I preferred
London to 'that dull Devonshire.'  I wanted to hang about town, to join
the devotees of Morris, to be a genius, a writer of brilliant plays and
beautiful books, to be a lover of woman and to have breakfast after
lunch.  So I let this place to a tenant and fooled round."

"But I don't want to fool round.  I want reasonable work."

"That's what they all say.  It's what I said.  But I never did any
work."

"And you liked it?"

"On the whole, yes--until at last I went down to stay with a friend at
a gorgeous place in the Cotswolds.  There was a great grey manor-house,
Jacobean and very good about the windows.  My host gave me ham and eggs
for breakfast: I had been used to omelettes and white wine.  After
breakfast--God, how I remember it--he took me across his wide, smooth
lawns to talk to the keeper.  We shot all day--I hadn't forgotten how
to bowl over a pheasant--and then we dined and drank port and smoked
cigars.  Suddenly it all flashed across me, the fitness of things, the
rich joy of escaping from chattering artists and cranks and reformers
and all the crowds who had Done Something: I understood about pomp and
circumstance.  As I ate my ham and eggs next morning I became an
initiate into their perfect mystery.  (The eggs, I may say, must be
fried, not poached.)  The ham was a hill red with autumn and the eggs
houses of gold in pure gardens of white.  Then I swore to go back home
and kick out the cotton king who used to come here for three weeks in
the year.  I would set up a new temple to the goddess and, worship her
with all due rites.  So I married my host's daughter, who was sound
about ham and eggs and never played with fruit at breakfast-time, and
here I am.  I've stuck to it, for, as I said, you can't worship for a
week and then go away: that isn't fair on the mystery.  You've got to
let things soak in.  I've let the spirit of Ham and Eggs soak into me
and I'm not tempted now to get it out again."

"And you didn't repent at the beginning?"

"Never permanently.  I'm not idle.  I'm a J.P., a soundly democratic
J.P., to the disgust of the Colonels.  I work on a host of committees
and I direct two highly disreputable companies.  Just because I like to
live here in the country and be an acolyte for the goddess, there's no
reason why I shouldn't do a lot besides.  You can believe that I'm a
much better squire than the rest of them.  Of course I'm well aware
that there oughtn't to be squires and that the whole thing is wrong.
But equally plainly there are squires, and squiredom has its point, of
which I may as well make the most.  So I've played the part properly.
To begin with, I put my farms on a business basis, gave a reasonable
minimum, and became unpopular with my neighbours because I made them
pay.  If the State demands my abolition, I'll go like a shot, but I
don't intend to let some magnate from Mincing Lane, who never eats ham,
come and buy the place, redecorate the house--as he'd call it--buy some
ancestors at Christie's and arrange an aerodrome.  You young men think
that because you like one sort of pleasure you've got to drop the
others.  It's all rubbish.  I'll read any literature you want and talk
you silly, but only after ham and eggs for breakfast and port wine for
dinner.  To hell with lunch!"

John Berrisford talked happily on and Martin was always pleased to
listen.

"You're not converted?" said the elder man at last.

"Only on fine nights."

"Well you aren't fit for the mystery.  Go away to your Latin Quarter
and squalid digs and midnight settling of the universe."

So Martin went and found various members of his college living in
contented poverty.  It seemed to him that, at the rate at which they
were existing, twenty-five pounds would keep him for a lifetime.  Their
nights were late but frugal and an ability to sleep saved the expense
of _petit déjeuner_.  They found where to obtain the noblest dinner for
one franc fifty and made the acquaintance of artists, male and female,
who would expound the whole theory of life and its artistic expression
if someone paid for their drinks: which Martin did, purposing to
improve his French.  The weather was dry without being too hot, and one
Sunday they went to Versailles in search of amusement, which
materialised, for Martin and Lawrence, in the shape of two delightful
women who said they had lost their way in the woods and needed a guide.
Martin and Lawrence guided them with some skill to a house of
refreshment, where the strangers became pleasantly intoxicated and very
charming.  They soon announced that they had lost their husbands as
well as their way and were going to look for them at the station.
Thither they went, with Martin and Lawrence following discreetly at a
distance.  The husbands were found to be in other company and the wives
made a scene on the platform; it all ended by Martin and Lawrence,
themselves not frigidly sober, removing the other company to a café and
comforting their insulted dignity.  They had a strange evening, and
Martin learned a lot more French.

Owing to one or two reckless evenings he found himself a pauper just
when the others were setting off to see Pierre Loti's fishermen,
Paimpol and Guingamp and the quaint religion of the West.  Of necessity
he returned to Devonshire, fired with a determination to settle those
texts which he had carried in vain to Paris.

He crossed by night and came down during the day.  When he arrived, it
was an evening of great beauty.  Suddenly, as he was driven between
banked hedges and silent woods of purest green, he came to view the
mystery of Ham and Eggs as he had never viewed it before.  He knew now
how sick he was of Paris with its noise and penetrating smell of
petrol, how tired of street cafés and superficial chattering about art.
It struck him that if a man isn't going to create something he may as
well shut his mouth and leave off jabbering for a bit.  Here there was
at least silence.  Paris had been kindly in its way, but its way was
sordid.  He had been left with an impression that the city lacked baths
and the citizens a cleanly comprehension.  To forego ham and eggs and
then to eat vastly in the middle of the day!  What insipidity it
showed, despite their reputation for taste.  And there through a gap in
the woods he saw The Steading, solid and calm as ever.  Solidity and
calmness counted, he knew, and what had Paris to do with them?

That evening he walked again with his uncle in the paddock, drinking in
the sweet air, amazed at the restfulness.

"I enjoyed myself all the time," he said.  "It was splendid!"

"That was good.  And did you learn anything?"

"Nothing much from our talking.  But I think I understand about the
mystery."

"I thought Paris might drive it home; it used to smell so in August.
Does it still?"

"In places."  The scent of fir-trees came to him on the summer breeze.
"I do see really," he added, almost pleadingly.

"I'm glad for your own sake.  It's as well to look at the future.  You
may have to go to India.  That may mean the end of books and talking
and ideas.  But you'll get reasonable pay and occasional leave and then
you won't feel like anything but shooting and fishing.  And perhaps
when you're fifty or so you'll struggle back to this kind of existence.
I assure you there's something in it all.  And once you've dropped your
philosophy of this and art of that for thirty years they won't come
back.  Ham and Eggs will be your only deity.  But it isn't merely
carnal."

"I see that," Martin replied.

Somehow the future did not seem so ugly to Martin as he stood watching
the young moon hanging lightly over the dark shoulder of the moor.  It
would be good to come back and worship the goddess in Devonshire.

"Thanks for the initiation," he said as they turned back to the house.



V

"The' being no fur' questions, much pleasure call on Mr Leigh for his
paper on Industrialism and the Home."  (_Mild applause._)

The members of the King's Essay Society were scattered about Martin's
rooms, lounging in window-seats or strewn on the floor.  The air was
thick with smoke, the carpet invisible by reason of the mingled feet,
tobacco, coffee-cups, books, and crystallised fruit.  The Push were
present in force, and Lawrence, larger than ever, lounged on the sofa
and smoked a cigar with ungainly opulence.

Martin, from his seat by the reading-lamp, began to inform them about
the home.  He started philosophically, taking as his text the assertion
that voluntary associations are always preferable to compulsory
grouping and that it should be our object to restrict such compulsion
as far as possible.  The home is a compulsory association and its
sphere must be limited.  He pointed out that since the whole trend of
industrialism had been to invade the home, to capture the women and to
drag them out to wage-slavery, it was irrational to stop in the present
position.  The home must be either a real thing where women were free
from the direct clutches of capitalism and made up for indirect
economic dependence by freedom from drudgery in offices and factories,
or else we must be logical and complete the tendency by industrialising
the home.  This process would of course destroy the home as at present
understood.  But it would substitute for the present compulsory group a
voluntary association: and this he would welcome because the home of
to-day was not only a compulsory but a fundamentally rotten
institution.  (_Loud applause from emancipated young men._)

He didn't care whether women had votes or not: that was inessential.
The great thing was to smash the home by making it a commercial unit.
This, he maintained, could be done by the State endowment of motherhood
and by marriage contracts in which payment for all domestic work should
be made by the husband.  There must be honest, open payment; wheedling
and pin-money must go.  Probably the best solution would be to insist
on a fixed percentage of the husband's income going to the wife as a
matter of course so long as she lived with him and kept his house.

Even more important was the case of the children.  They too must be
economic members of a commercial unit.  Of course in early childhood
that was impossible, but as soon as they reached a reasonable age--say
seventeen--they too should have a legal claim to a certain percentage
of the family income, to be continued until they were self-supporting.
In the interest of youth, no one should be compelled to support himself
until the age of twenty-four, for it was wicked to drive people into
offices at eighteen, before they had known freedom of any kind.  During
these seven years the child might either take his salary and go or stay
at home as a paying guest.  The amount paid for such board would depend
on the standard of life of the family.  After all the parents had
brought the child into the world without asking if he wanted it, and
consequently, so far from having rights with regard to the fruit of
their pleasure, they had only duties.  Aristotle was reduced to pulp
with regard to this point.

Such a policy would safeguard the liberties of the child, who, on
reaching a reasonable age, could always go away and need not accept his
father's politics and religion with his father's beef.  The home would
thus be a compulsory association only during early childhood and would
be a voluntary association for the adolescent.  Thus would we solve the
woman question and build an honest, self-reliant nation.  Let Dr
Bosanquet maunder on about organisms and compare the family meal--that
ghastly rite--to the Holy Communion.  To hell with such sentimentality!
(_Applause._)

Martin then reverted to political philosophy and maintained that no
group whose membership was not spontaneous could have a vital purpose
and a common will.  In so far as the family remained compulsory it
could have no such will: because a man was born a Jones he need not
have the same interests as the rest of the Jones' group: indeed most
great men loathed their relations.  For the small children a home of
some sort, whether private or municipal, was inevitable.  The question
was whether they were going to save the young adult from sentimental
tyranny by insisting on incomes and latch-key rights for sons and
daughters and building up a multitude of voluntary co-operative groups
on a strictly business basis.

"Of course I admit it is more or less impossible," he said as he
finished.  "But we may as well talk theory."

There was a short interval, and then Rendell, by grace of his three
"F's," was chosen to open the discussion.

He couldn't, he said, accept all that about voluntary associations.  He
wasn't a Syndicalist, though, judging from the latest efforts of the
Tories, we were all not only Socialists, but Syndicalists nowadays.  He
believed in the State....  The State ... yes, organisms and all that.
He didn't mind the commercialism, provided it was State commercialism.
Couldn't have these voluntary groups ... dangerous.  Besides, he wanted
domestic work all done by clever machines, electric stoves and
automatic beds that "made" themselves and became sofas in the next room
by slipping through the wall.  This would liberate woman.  "Woman's
sphere is not the home, her home is the sphere."

With these feeble aphorisms he sat down.  He had at least convinced the
company on one point--namely, that discussions are always a futile
anti-climax.

But Davenant was up, and he was amusing, though he always said the same
thing.  "I protest," he said, "against industrialism being carried any
further.  It has marred our men, let us keep it from our women.  I want
to see a world full of guilds and craftsmen and artificers, not working
eight hours a day and then going to a municipal park to drink municipal
cocoa and hear the municipal band, but working because they love their
work, because it is their creation, their life.  And I want to see
women working as they love to work, not sordidly and cheaply in a
market of labour.  The women I want will not work against men, but with
them and for them, fashioning beautiful homes and beautiful things of
every kind.  And you will find that it is no use to put woman on a
level with men because women are not crudely rational like men, who
analyse and destroy.  With woman lies the future, because she alone can
create without destroying.  Man is destructive and analytic.  Woman is
ultimate, intuitive, basic, and synthetic."

The less experienced members of the Essay Society began to wonder
whether this could mean anything and roused themselves from sleep.  But
those who knew Davenant understood.  He had an affection for certain
words and loved to entwine them with any subject that came to hand.
Woman was not the only entity which Davenant had been known to call
"ultimate, intuitive, basic, and synthetic."

Then a remote, unknown young man in spectacles and spats said in a
plaintive way that the reader of the paper did not understand about
Laav: that Laav made all things different: that religion was morality
tinged with emotion: that the home was just what its inhabitants made
of it: that a change of heart was needed: that you couldn't make men
good by Act of Parliament; that, just as dancing was the poetry of
motion, so Laav was the poetry of life.

Then this master of the catch-word sat down amid a deathly silence.  It
appeared afterwards that he had got in by mistake: he thought he was
attending a meeting of Oxford Churchmen on Home Missions.  Lawrence
rose.  He began, suitably, by treading on some coffee-cups and bananas,
stumbling backward and tripping over the cord which united the
reading-lamp and the wall.  The lamp fell with a crash and confusion
and foul language ensued.  At length order was restored and he could
let himself go.

"It may seem odd," he said, "but I agree with the last speaker more
than with anyone else: and he was about as wrong as can be.  He was
right when he said love mattered but wrong in what he meant by it.  The
love that counts isn't the squidgy, religious thing he wants and it
hasn't anything to do with the great passions of poets and intellectual
young men.  It isn't even Browning's ethereal penguin, half angel and
half bird.  The love that really matters for people who are interested
in the way the world is going is just extensive, sentimental wallowing.
Nothing more.  Has it ever struck you remote philosophers that making
love is the only thing that most people really care about?  The papers
may rave about a great political crisis or a strike movement.  But if
you met the average man you wouldn't bet a button that he cared
twopence either way, but I'd bet my bottom dollar that he cared about
taking a girl out on Saturday night.  That's the permanent and
irresistible fact.  Every cinema film, every piece of cheap fiction,
every popular song has one message.  There must be 'a strong love
interest.'  The world has known friendship and sensuality and passion
since the beginning.  This great flood of sentimentality is as new as
it is strong."

He paused a moment to look round.  The sleepers had been roused:
Lawrence was good when he was under way.

"It came in with the industrial system," he went on.  "I believe that
there is in man a natural tendency to look for beauty somewhere.
Capitalism made of work so foul a thing that it couldn't be found
there.  And in answer to demand it turned out a numberless horde of
stunted, overworked, half-educated people.  Work was foul: for ordinary
amusements there was no time, except on Sunday, and then it was wicked.
Some means of self-expression had to be found, something to bring
comfort of a sort, something that would be suitable for Sundays and the
evenings.  There was sex.  I wonder why it never occurs to the parsons
who protest against Sunday games (for the poor) that the British
Sabbath is nothing but a forcing-house for sex.  The average artisan or
shop-girl has not the possibility of any other occupation.

"The worker has combined with his notion of love the notion of home as
a place where he will be free to do as he likes, to express himself, to
create the ugliness which he or she thinks 'so sweet.'  The capitalist
has bound his hands and his brain and, if the Eugenists get their
abominable way, he'll bind his emotions and his body too.  Hitherto he
has been free to love as he chooses, and that's why he loves such a
lot.  It isn't for nothing that a very popular song tells of a Little
Grey Home in the West where people go to amatory bliss 'when the toil
of the long day is o'er.'

"Well, what's the upshot of it all?  Merely that the home matters far
more than you imagine, because it's the one place where the Servile
State hasn't really got hold of its victims yet.  It's true that a
middle-class home may be deadly; so far I agree with the paper.  But I
don't agree that the minor's next step is to smash the home altogether.
No, we've got to save it if we want to save men from being turned into
mere wealth-producing machines.  We've got to save it with all its
dangers because it is the expression of genuine and valuable emotion.
You people are all for smashing the home before you've smashed the
system: my idea is just the reverse.  When you have a state in which
men can take pride and find beauty in their work, you can go in and
smash the home.  If you try and put the home on a business basis you
may help a few middle-class people who have brains and time enough to
quarrel, but you'll be taking from the oppressed their only release and
making life more commercial and sordid than it is at present.  Set up a
society where life has rational interests, where a man can express his
desire for beauty without leaving it to nocturnal sentimentality, and
I'm with you.  In the meanwhile there's a good deal to be said for The
Little Grey Home in the West.  It answers a need.  To kill that need
you must smash Industrialism.  And that, my Fabian friends, is some
business."

After such an oration, not silly and blatant as the words of Lawrence
often tended to become, it seemed wrong to talk further.  Martin, who
was by nature far more sympathetic to the popular taste than was
Rendell, had been influenced by the last speech and the defence of The
Little Grey Home: in his reply he made a considerable recantation.  The
society adjourned, the visitors disappeared, and the elect remained to
talk.  Once more Woman was the theme, and her position and claims were
thoroughly discussed until, about midnight, the conversation drifted,
like early Greek history, "into the mythical" and fiction succeeded
theory.  That, from the male talker's standpoint, is the advantage
about woman; equally she can point the moral or adorn the tale.

Martin was enjoying his third year.  He still had rooms in college and
had enough work to keep him contented while the shadow of exams was too
remote to cause apprehension.  The Push had risen to fame and were
running the college: they had taken charge of its societies in a lordly
way and talked sense or nonsense as they chose.  But the heavy hand of
Age was beginning to make them increasingly fond of sense.  They were
none the less happy, however, for being less superficial, and secretly
they were pleased by the admiration of the advanced freshers and the
effort made to cultivate their society.  Martin's third year was a time
of activity, free both from the boundless and discursive idling of his
"fresher" period and the anxious strain that pending examinations
cannot fail to produce.

Chard, however, was deserting them, for his career at the Union made
him a busy man.  His triumph (he was Junior Librarian early in his
third year) had been mainly achieved by hard work.  Office at the
Oxford Union can be won either by courting or despising the members:
there is no middle path.  The latter method needs audacity and ability.
The man who never pulls strings, dashes in late to make his speech, and
dashes out again to seek reasonable company may win the votes of the
people whom he so treats, provided that he is either really witty, a
peer, or a Blue.  A titled Blue could afford to do anything, but
fortunately neither peers nor Blues deign to have much business with so
common a place as the Union.

Chard had adopted the other method.  He had pulled strings diligently.
He had got to know the right people: he had learned up the right
epigrams for the right speeches: asked the right questions of the
officers and, when himself an officer, had made the right retorts.  He
had worked hard in search of votes and had addressed, carefully and
capably, nearly every debating society in Oxford.  He was standing for
the Presidency at the end of the spring term and had every chance of
success.  The Union loved him, because, not being a Balliol man, he had
beaten the Balliol people at their own game.

For the visitors' debate Bavin, K.C., M.P., was coming down, Bavin than
whom no fiercer lawyer flayed the Government on provincial platforms
and was photographed at country houses.  His fees were unparalleled,
his wife, a peer's daughter, the most beautiful woman in society.
Bavin had done everything as it should be done, at Eton, at Balliol, at
All Souls, at the Bar, in the social world.  His career was an epitome
of success.

He would, of course, speak last.  Chard, a strong supporter of the
Government, would precede him.  It was hard luck on Chard, one felt,
that he should have to come first: Bavin's oratorical bludgeonings
would make a mess of Chard.  Still Chard was the only man who had any
chance against Bavin.  One pinned one's faith on Chard to rise to the
occasion.  Anyhow it would be fun, and everybody would be there.

Martin liked Chard for his thorough-going pursuit of success, his
willingness to borrow brilliance from any source, his capacity for
making use of anybody and anything.

"Chard is getting the limit," Rendell complained to Martin.  "Do you
think he ever has a single thought outside his career?"

"Chard is to me as a modern hotel palace to Arnold Bennett.  His
methods fascinate me: I can't help loving him."

"I suppose he'll be a Cabinet Minister in twelve years or so."

"I trust it won't be long.  He'll be very nice on a Front Bench."

So Martin remained a friend of Chard's, and Chard read to him all the
great speech wherewith he was to extinguish in advance the raging fire
of Bavin's dialectic.

Chard knew his audience and had included just the right jokes.

But Chard was not liked by everyone.  Many of the college objected to
him for seeking friends outside their walls: the athletic Mandarins had
never forgiven his method of meeting their request for his presence at
the boats.  Chard didn't mind: these people were not voting members of
the Union.  Most of all he was disliked by Smith-Aitken, whose father,
_né_ Smith, had made a fortune in pickles.  This father, being a
self-made man, had entertained notions of his son as a hard worker and
had refused to send him to one of the more expensive and aristocratic
colleges.  Foolishly he forgot to limit his son's allowance, and so
Smith-Aitken rode horses and joined the Bullingdon.  He was not a nice
man.  He had greasy yellow curls, several rings, an eyeglass, a motor
car, some horses, and a very special taste for liqueur brandy.  Chard
used to make jokes about him and his victim knew it.

One night Smith-Aitken, having ridden after a fox all day, returned to
a repast whose main features were champagne and the very special
liqueur brandy.  Before he was put to bed he threw the junior dean's
bicycle through Chard's window.

Chard spent the next morning making out a little bill.  It amused him.
In addition to ordinary claims for broken glass he included other
items, as:

"To new tablecloth to replace old cloth spoiled by ink upset by bicycle
propelled by Mr R. W. Smith-Aitken--one guinea."

"To essay on Austin's 'Theory of Sovereignty,' spoiled by ink upset by
bicycle as before: at two guineas a thousand words--four guineas."

The total amount claimed was twelve pounds ten shillings.

By return of messenger Chard received a cheque for that amount.

Smith-Aitken had made the obvious retort.  Chard couldn't, he thought,
take the money when the damage had really been small.  Chard considered
the problem: he was disagreeably surprised at receiving the cheque: it
had made him look a fool.  There was only one reply, to cash the cheque
and give the money to a hospital.  This he did.  Smith-Aitken, on
discovering what had happened, was furious.  The money didn't matter
much to him, but he didn't see why he should have to pay four guineas
for making a splash of ink on one of Chard's jocular essays; besides,
he now looked the fool.  But he was very polite to Chard whenever he
met him and they talked to one another with urbanity.

On the afternoon of the great day on which Chard and Bavin were to
batter one another in the arena of the Oxford Union Society, Chard was
walking across the quad when Smith-Aitken came out of the porch.  He
carried a telegram in his hand and rushed up to Chard at once.

"I've just seen Bob Marshall," he said.  Marshall was the President of
the Union, a new Tory blood and a close friend of Smith-Aitken's.  "He
has had this telegram from Bavin.  It says that his car has broken down
badly.  They're close to a village with a telegraph but miles from a
railway.  He wants someone to go and fetch him in.  Marshall is too
busy; he's got to see to the dinner and a heap of things.  But he saw
me in my car and asked me to run out.  You've met Bavin, haven't you?
What's he like?"

"I met him at a dinner once," said Chard.  "Successful barrister.  Face
like a hatchet.  Stern, morose, and inexorable, you know the type.  But
I believe he's nicer than he looks."

"Well, look here.  You'd better come and talk to him while I drive him
in.  It would be better to have someone who knows the man.  You can
arrange what names to call each other."

Chard was attracted.  Bavin was, he thought, a bouncing jackass, but he
bounced before a large audience.  He was certainly a person to
'acquire,' and Chard went about the world 'acquiring' the people whom
he deemed worthy of that honour.  It would be useful to know Bavin well
and the formal President's dinner would not give him much chance.
Smith-Aitken, too, had been civil lately; he really wasn't such a bad
chap.  So Chard accepted with alacrity and Martin watched them being
driven away.  Nixon, a friend of Smith-Aitken's, went with them.  He
wanted a lift to the station.

That was at half-past two.

At a quarter to seven Lawrence rushed into Martin's rooms.

"Have you heard the latest?" he shouted.  "Our Chard has been
kidnapped.  It's all over the place.  Smith-Aitken got him in his car
and God knows where they've taken him."

Martin saw it all in a flash.  "But how did it leak out?" he asked.

"One of Smith-Aitken's push let on.  Couldn't contain himself for glee.
Someone on the Bullingdon suggested it.  They all hate Chard, and now
they think they've fairly got him.  No cheers and epigrams to-night."

"Are you dead certain about it?"

"Well, Chard isn't in his rooms.  Neither he nor Smith-Aitken have been
seen, and Bavin arrived from town by the 6.5."

Martin was silent.

"It's damned funny," said Lawrence.

"It would be a damned sight funnier if he could get back."

"But he won't.  They'll see to that."

"We might get him," said Martin suddenly.  "I've got an idea.  This
morning I heard the man Holland ask Smith-Aitken to dine with him
to-night at Vincent's.  Smith-A. said he wouldn't be in Oxford.
'Town?' said Holland.  'No, Abingdon, King's Arms.'  Holland said
something about a woman in the case and Smith-A. said: 'Not this time.
Don't you know?'  It was a mere fluke that I heard him.  But I fancy we
may as well make use of the chance.  I'm pretty sure Chard will be a
guest at a little dinner in Abingdon."

"Yes, but it's only a possibility.  Besides, what can we do?"

"We can look them up, just to emphasise the necessity of keeping
secrets."

"It's nearly seven now."

"We can bag Rendell's motor bike and side-car."

"Yes; but what can we do when we're there?"

"Wait for an inspiration."

They went.  The journey took some time, for the motor bicycle behaved
abominably on Hinksey hill.  Not till a quarter to eight did they reach
Abingdon.  Martin dismounted in the square and left Lawrence with the
machine.  He walked up to the King's Arms and glanced through the
windows of the dining-room, which looked directly upon the street.  He
had been right in his surmise.  Chard was dining with Nixon and
Smith-Aitken.  Apparently he was making the best of it: they seemed to
be a happy party and passed bottles with conviction.

Martin brought the news to Lawrence: "We simply must get hold of him,"
he said.  "It would be the deed of a lifetime."

"That's all very well," said Lawrence.  "But what the devil can we do?
We can't just go in and knock out our Bullingdon friends.  We'd have
the manager and the police nosing round and we'd never get away in
time."

"We can't do that," Martin agreed.  "And we can't afford to wait.  It's
nearly eight and we must be back by nine.  What do people do in cinema
dramas?"

"I know," Lawrence almost shouted.  "Don't you remember 'Lust or Love?'
and how they rescued the white slave.  The drama has its uses."

Martin remembered.  "We might try," he said.

They entered the hotel and looked into the smoking-room.  It was dark
and empty.  They collected all the old newspapers, took the wood from
the unlit fire, and in the grate they heaped a monstrous pile.  After
blocking up the chimney they lit their bonfire.  Smoke belched out into
the room in dense, curling waves.  When they could endure it no longer
they opened the door and let the smoke into the passage.  Then they
opened the door of the dining-room and shouted from concealment: "Fire!
Help!  Fire!"

Smith-Aitken looked round, sniffed, and listened.  There was an ominous
crackling and an unspeakable smell.  "So there is," he said.  "I wonder
if it started in the garage.  My god."  He fled without dignity to his
car.  Nixon and Chard went into the passage.  The manager, the
housekeeper, the waiter, and three maids were gasping and fussing and
talking about water.  There didn't seem to be any.

Suddenly Nixon found himself pushed into the reeking smoking-room and
Chard was hauled swiftly into the square.  The turmoil was terrific.  A
policeman came and a crowd began to collect.

"You," said Chard, when he saw Martin and Lawrence.

There was no time for talking.  Martin pushed Chard into the side-car,
told Lawrence to follow by train, and let the bike do its best.  When
they were clear of Abingdon he explained things to the mystified Chard.

It was all so simple, so incredible.

"I never dreamed Smith-A. would try on that game," said Chard.  "It was
rather a dirty trick, but he was charming all the time.  We seem to
have toured half England during the afternoon.  And it was a capital
dinner.  He brought the wine with him, the red wine of Burgundy, my
boy.  And I was looking forward to some of that very special liqueur
brandy.  He never travels without that.  And now you've robbed me of
it."

The cold, fresh air coming on top of the red wine of Burgundy made
Chard more talkative than usual.

At five minutes past eight the debating hall of the Union Society was
not merely full: it was crammed with an unparalleled audience.
Normally a large crowd would have come to hear Chard: a dense crowd
would have come to hear Bavin.  But Bavin versus Chard!  It was unique.
And Chard was so reliable!  He never failed on such occasions: he had
his impromptus ready and his answers well rehearsed.

But to the charms of oratory had been added this evening the
fascination of mystery.  Rumour has swift wings in such a community as
a university, and already it was on everyone's lips that a colossal
'rag' had taken place, that Chard wouldn't be there for the occasion of
his life, that he had been kidnapped.

So those who didn't want to hear either Chard or Bavin had come to see
if Chard was going to turn up.  All along the benches sat serried
multitudes of members, whispering, chattering, perspiring.  Along all
those rows of faces, black and brown, yellow and white, spectacled and
pimpled, ugly and less ugly, there gleamed expectancy.  And by the
doorway and up the gangways there jostled and pushed an ever-growing
crowd of curious young men.  Perhaps they wanted to see Bavin:
certainly they yearned, they most definitely yearned, to know the truth
about Chard.

At last the officers filed in amid applause.  One almost forgot to look
at Bavin, such was the eagerness to see if Chard had really vanished.
There was a loud murmur of surprise.  He certainly was not there.  Man
said to man: "I told you so.  They've nabbed him."

"In the absence of the Junior Librarian," said the President, "I call
upon the Junior Treasurer to bring forward the weekly list of books."

That was all: no hint as to indisposition, no suggestion of Chard's
adventure.  There were the usual jokes.  Of course people asked about
Chard.  The President said that he knew nothing of the Junior
Librarian.  He trusted he would appear in time for his speech.  And
when he read out the motion before the house and the list of speakers
he included Chard's name.

At twenty minutes past eight the first speaker began.  He finished at a
quarter to nine and two others carried on the debate till half-past.
The second of them had reached his peroration.  The audience paid
little heed to his anxiety about the ship of state.  Where the devil
was Chard?  That was all that mattered.  Was Chard really lying gagged
and throttled in a ditch?

The speaker sat down and the expectant audience forgot to applaud.
There was a pause, followed by much pushing and heaving among the crowd
at the door.  Suddenly Chard was shot on to the floor of the house.  He
wore a rough grey suit and was liberally splashed with mud.  But he
walked quietly to his throne and took his seat by the immaculate
President.

"The Junior Librarian," announced the President without the slightest
sign of emotion.  It is not for presidents to be human, and Marshall
knew his business.

There was a great roar of joy as Chard, foul with mire, advanced to the
despatch-box.  "I must apologise, sir," he began, "for my late and
unkempt appearance.  I have been with friends.  (_Cheers._)  With very
dear friends who would not hear of my going.  That is the worst of
friends.  They are sometimes so pressing.  (_Uproar._)  But I would
have been earlier and in a more cleanly state had not another friend,
in his eagerness to save me from my first friends, been over-hasty.
Perhaps he meant it as a compliment to our honourable and gallant
visitor when he compelled me to lie, providentially not to die, in the
last ditch."  (_Prolonged applause._)  Bavin's 'last ditch' speech had
been his most notable success.  Then Chard proceeded to welcome Bavin,
as was his duty, and to trample on him, as was his pleasure.  Not even
the wet bed of a Hinksey ditch could damp Chard's democratic fervour or
blunt the brilliancy of his wit.  He had not forgotten his impromptus:
in the ditch he had even devised a new one.  For half-an-hour he scored
point after point.  He surpassed himself, he was unique.  Possibly, if
he had always taken the red wine of Burgundy for his dinner, he would
always have spoken like this.

Martin, himself foul with mud, stood in the crowd.  He thrilled with
the sense of triumph.  He remembered the night on which he had fought
for Gideon and the Lord.  It was adventure once again, terrifying and
superb.  And again he had been on the winning side.

Bavin, K.C., M.P., came as an anti-climax.  He addressed a dwindling
house and failed to rouse it.  He lost his motion and concluded that
the undergraduate was not only a traitor to the cause of the Right, but
an uncivil jackanapes.  What business had they to ask him down and then
to take notice only of this Chard fellow?

A few days later Chard was elected to the presidency by a record
majority.  He had surpassed even the majority of Walmersly, the
Churchmen's champion, who had had an election agent in every college,
who had whipped up an army of country parsons and other dilapidated
senior members with a silent promise of increased vacational
facilities, who had entertained over three hundred junior members in
two terms.

Chard received a polite note of congratulation from Smith-Aitken and
sent, in return, a vote of thanks.  Nothing was ever heard about the
King's Arms, Abingdon: certainly no damage could have been done.

"Good for you," Martin said to him.  "It's been a great business.  At
least one of the Push is a made man."

"It has been fun," Chard admitted.  He was intensely happy.

"All the same it was just as well we had that little smash.  By Jove,
we had some luck.  No damage done and just enough mud to be convincing.
And then that carrier's cart to get us in absolutely up to time."

"Certainly I owe a good many votes to your enterprise in fetching me
and to the terrific blend of eagerness and incompetence which put me in
the ditch."

"I can't help a skid," said Martin.

"Whose bike?" asked Chard.  It was the first time he had thought of it.
"We made it look pretty silly."

"Rendell's," answered Martin.  "We'd better pay the damage.  I'd
forgotten."

"That's my affair," said Chard, who felt like generosity.  "Comes under
reasonable election expenses surely."

Also he gave a dinner to his "workers."  King's had not had a President
of the Union for several years.  That distinction and the fame gained
by the kidnapping incident made Chard into a notable.  Freshers stared
at him in the High and pointed him out to the ignorant.

As a President he shone with incomparable lustre, and he acquired a
fine presence and manner for his official duties.  The Push in general
and Martin in particular felt the reflection of that brilliant light.
It seemed good that Chard's taper should be so radiant.  Life for the
Push, during that third year, was free of care and free of idleness,
fruitful of activity and enterprise, restless and fascinating.



VI

From a long vacation spent with the historians and philosophers and
from the clash and challenge of autumnal moors Martin came back to
rooms in Holywell and the school of Literæ Humaniores.  From clean
winds and open skies he came back to a gentle greyness or to smudgy
days when the rain settled upon the river valley with cruel insistence
and on parting left floods and vapours and steamy streets.  From
working at his ease he came back to work with distaste.

To begin with, he was afraid.  The future was big with exams.  In eight
months his Oxford finals would be upon him, in ten months he would be
attempting to satisfy the Civil Service Commissioners.  The torture of
it!  It was all very well for Lawrence, whom a wealthy uncle would make
into a chartered accountant, for Rendell, who was to be an amateur
barrister and a professional Lib-Lab-Soc, for Chard, with his assured
career and Front-bench-in-a-year-or-two prospects; well enough too for
Davenant, who had money enough to maintain an adequate, even a
graceful, existence while he wrote about the things of art.  But for
Martin there was only the midnight oil and the wondering about marks.

And he felt helpless.  He didn't want to be a Civil Servant, even at
home.  And as for India or the Straits!  He wanted to be in London with
the rest of them, keeping up the old ideas and intimacies and
enthusiasms.  If he had only felt that such a life was absolutely
impossible, he would have taken his fate more graciously.  But it
seemed that with an effort, with daring, he might get out of it all and
find a job that would keep him in London without starvation: but he
hadn't the pluck to look for the job, and he was content to drift on
the wave of chance.  Circumstance was moulding his life, whereas he
ought to be moulding circumstance.  Why couldn't he be strong and do
things?  He despised his puny helplessness and cowardly drifting: the
more he gazed into himself the less did he see to admire.  Naturally
this did not improve his work.

He lived with Rendell and Lawrence and Chard in a good house in
Holywell: Davenant had gone down.  Chard shared a sitting-room with
Rendell, and they both worked with vigour, being men of sense and
ambition.  Upstairs in a great low-raftered room Martin dwelled with
Lawrence.  He began by labouring with a fond frenzy, but he soon fell
into his companion's easier ways and sat by the window watching the
passers-by.  Holywell is a sound and regular street.  You either belong
to it or you don't.  And if you do belong to it everybody knows that
you belong to it and has a notion of your habits and your time-table.
Martin and Lawrence soon found out about everyone, and their chief
topic of conversation was the late appearance of this man or the
frequent journeys of another, the new hat of the girl opposite or the
names and nature of the young women who came hustling out of St Cross
Road.  They despised Chard and Rendell for their ignorance and wilful
neglect of the street and its population.

It was a soothing occupation to watch folk come and go.  Soothing, too,
was the soft glory of the street itself as it curved away to the Broad
with its sombre harmony of pink and grey.  Behind the sweeping
splendour of the way itself might rise a sunset sky of winter, blue
with the lustre of steel, a tower of strong darkness above the fading
glow.  And then lamps would twinkle and windows pour golden floods into
the road and a man would think about having tea.  All good men live in
Holywell when they "go out."

But it was not always thus.  Often everything was ugly, and Martin had
indigestion after lunch and thought once more of May Williams.  He
hadn't seen her at all: perhaps she had escaped from Botley.  Really he
didn't care: astonishing how unattractive was the memory of that
affair!  No, May had not been good enough, but there was a girl who
walked up and down the street: she too had roses in her hat, but the
colour was not the same.  And she was different, remote and
inaccessible.  Martin said nothing and did nothing, but he always
looked out when she passed on her way to and from shops: it gave him
more pain than pleasure to watch her pass by, and yet he kept on
looking.

And then there was Mr Cuggy.  Cuggy was Martin's tutor in philosophy
and had the reputation of being the most muddled thinker in Oxford: his
claims were based on a certain article in _Mind_ which had broken all
records (already high in English Philosophy) for the amazing
technicalities of its jargon and the vile barbarity of its writing.
But of course he was a dear old man.  In his youth a torrent of
Hegelianism had passed over him and he remained always a limp victim of
the drenching he had then received.  He clung, this mariner shipwrecked
in German waters, to the rock of the Absolute and dared not relax his
grip because he saw no other prominence amid the devouring waves.  And
everywhere, should he slip off, were the pragmatic sharks lurking for
the prey.  To this rock he dragged his pupils quite irrespective of
their capacity to understand the process and to cling coherently: as a
result they clung only in their essays and dropped off in private
thinking.  Time's ironies are pleasant and Mr Cuggy made many a "prag."

Martin learned all the proper words and delighted his tutor with some
cant about the higher synthesis and the disappearance of all antinomies
in the absolute.  In private discussion he differed.  "I say.  What
shall we do about this philosophy?" he asked Rendell.

Even Rendell had been sickened by Cuggy.  "Of course it's all drivel,"
he admitted.  "Just systematised drivel."

"My dear ass," put in Lawrence, "has that only just struck you?  I
remember being rebuked for my early scoffing.  The main object of these
blighters is just to wrap up in a perfectly unintelligible and
ungrammatical jargon what everybody else can see without bothering
about it.  They've got to do something to justify their screw and their
measly existence, so, like the politicians, they keep up a nice series
of sham fights which never end."

"The main point for us," said Martin, "or at any rate for unhappy me,
is to find out how to score marks at the game.  I can stand fair
nonsense, but old man Hegel is a bit thick.  On the other hand,
pragmatism is just as silly and, what's worse, hated by the gods that
be.  No marks in that, I'm afraid.  We've got to find a middle path."

"There's the Cambridge stuff.  Russell and Moore, Business-like and
quite unattractive."

"Oh, we can't be Tabs," said Lawrence.

"Well what can we be?"

"Why not bag a bit of James Ward, a bit of Bergson, a bit of Croce, and
be Pampsychistic Pluralistic Realistic Modern Young Men?"

"It'll take some doing," said Martin dubiously.  "It's no good being
sloppy.  The youths who think they'll get firsts because they know all
about Beauty never get very far.  What we need is Philosophy on a
Business Basis.  Six questions in three hours.  Answers to all the
problems of the universe guaranteed all correct in thirty minutes."

"Let's draw up a scheme," said Lawrence, "and diddle this damned
philosophy."

So they settled down and arranged a system: they made out a plan of
what they were going to think about all the possible questions.  That
is the best of philosophy: examiners may weave words but they have only
about a dozen real questions from which to choose.

By the end of the term they had settled the business of wisdom.  The
schedule was complete and they had a short way of dealing with every
problem from the Universality of Nature to the value of the negative
and hypothetical judgment.  Of course to achieve a "position" they had
to sacrifice their consciences at times.  It was all quite shameless
and quite successful.

"After this," suggested Chard, "you might get made Railway Managers."

"Unless," said Rendell, "we get on to the staff of a certain penny
weekly."


In December Martin went down once more to Devonshire.  To his surprise
he found Freda there.  Almost two years had elapsed since he had seen
her and he had almost forgotten her existence.  But now he remembered
vividly and was glad.

She had not altered and he rediscovered her perfect insignificance.
How ridiculous it seemed that, while Margaret Berrisford with her
health and strength need only work when she chose and as she chose,
this wisp of a woman should have been caught up in the machinery of
industry: ridiculous that one so fragile should be self-maintenant.  He
had little chance to talk to her that evening, but on the following
afternoon he went with her to the village and along the Tavistock Road.
He asked her about herself.

"They soon got rid of me," she answered.  "The Trades Union people, I
mean.  They were naturally sick of my coming late and getting ill and
being a general nuisance.  Then I got in with some Suffrage Women and
they gave me work.  One of the new peace-and-goodwill societies.  They
want to link up the movement and then agitate according to
Lor-an-order.  They're so peaceful and orderly that, not being engaged
in fighting other people like tigers, they just quarrel among
themselves like cats.  Oh, I do get sick of it."

"What do you do for them?  Speak?"

"Oh no.  Just the office work.  They worked me quite hard and paid me
very little, and, when I murmured, they hinted that if I was only loyal
to my sex I'd do the whole show for nothing.  Never work for lovers of
humanity: their love has a background of dividends and West End
drawing-rooms.  It's none the worse for that, but they expect your love
to take the form of more work for less pay.  It's not good enough.  I'd
rather be a genuine wage-slave, thanks very much."

"City office, regular hours, and no nonsense?"

"That's it."

"Have you been ill this winter?"

"Yes.  I was rotten for a bit; Margaret has been awfully good to me.
When she heard of it she fished me out of my lodgings and made me come
here.  I was in bed a fortnight and must have been a beastly nuisance.
They are splendid, all of them."

Martin agreed.

"And what about you?" she asked.

He explained his hopes and fears.

"You've no business to mope," she told him.  "Don't you understand that
you're an extremely lucky person?  I wish I had your chances."

"I suppose I'm lucky," he said without conviction, trying to feel
ashamed of his despair.

"Of course you are.  Anyhow it's silly to get despondent.  Besides,
you're bound to do well."

"Am I?  Why?"

"Because I tell you to.  Do get firsts and things."

It pleased him to be ordered.  He stopped in the muddy lane between two
stark hedges that stood naked against the grey December sky.

"Do you care?" he asked.

"Of course I care."

"Why?  I mean----" he paused awkwardly.

"Don't ask silly questions," she answered.  "It's too cold to stand
about."

They walked on.

"It must be pretty sickening for you," he said, "having to go on with
this drudgery."

"It is rather rotten.  But it can't be helped."

"Can't you get some intelligent kind of work, writing or something?"

"I'm not good enough.  Don't make foolish interruptions.  It's quite
true.  And remember I chucked up a teaching post."

"But routine must be worse for a person like you."

"It isn't nice.  Really I think the most miserable people of all are
those who are just too good for dull work and not good enough for real,
original, creative work."

"That's painfully true," he answered.  And there, gloomily, they left
it.

That night Martin reflected on the events of the day.  What surprised
him most was the depth and intensity of his feelings about Freda.  It
wasn't love, it wasn't mere sympathy: was it just sentimentality?  It
is a habit of the younger generation in these days to turn their sexual
emotions into channels of political reasoning: the result is called
feminism.  Instead of defending hapless women with strong right arm
they are eager to defend underpaid women by strike or Act of
Parliament.  There is little difference, for the reason that Nature
cannot be cheated.  The pitchfork of modernity will not keep it out,
and chivalry, loathed in name, comes bravely back in disguise.  In
matters of personal relation feminism is dangerous just because it is
insidious.  Martin had already formed his picture of Freda, overworked
and underpaid, homeless and driven from pillar to post.  The image was
painful, but it pleased him so to suffer.

On Saturday there was to be shooting, the last of the season.  People
were coming down for the week-end and, doubtless, neighbours would be
there.  In the home coverts cock pheasants still trumpeted in peace,
but their time had come.

Martin had no gun of his own, but sometimes he used a spare weapon of
his uncle's.  If he had been more efficient he would have liked the
actual shooting: he could see the point of it and appreciate the thrill
of waiting and achieving.  But he had neither the long experience nor
the swift eye and he was glad when the gun was needed by someone else.
Freda would not see his lack of skill, for Robert had brought a friend
from town for whom the gun would be required.

Neither Margaret nor Freda went out in the morning, and Martin also
stayed in to work.  The guns came back to lunch at half-past twelve, as
they had begun to shoot early, for that made a better division of the
short daylight.  When they went out again Margaret accompanied Robert's
friend and Martin took Freda to watch the first drive.  The air was
soft: otherwise Freda, being still convalescent, would not have been
allowed to stand about.  But it was considered warm enough for her if
she wore a thick motoring coat of Margaret's.  Here and there films of
mist hung thinly over fields, but in the woods it was clear: the wind
spoke gently in the trees or passed in silence down the rides and open
glades.  Underfoot rustled the drifting, many-tinted leaves and the
flight of a startled song-bird made the still air reverberate.  The
fragrance of distant pines was mingled with the scent of the leaf-mould
and sometimes the glint of the birch's silver broke the splendid
monotony of giant trunks.

The mystery of Ham and Eggs flashed across Martin's mind.  The cult
must not exclude woods.

"Aren't these trees wonderful," he said simply.

"I think they're awful, in the proper sense of the word.  They make me
excited and terrified and happy."

"Awful is the right word.  Why did men spoil it?"

"We've managed to spoil most things."

"Will they begin shooting soon?" asked Freda after a pause.

"The beaters will be coming up soon."

"Why do people do it?  It seems so unnecessary, so savage, somehow."

"So it is savage.  That's just the point.  It answers a need, I
suppose.  You wait till you hear an old cock pheasant come crashing
down.  There's something very satisfactory about the noise he makes."

"It's too horrible."

"Wait and perhaps you'll find that you have a few primitive instincts
left in you.  You may be free of them; some people are.  It isn't only
the passion to kill, though.  It's the passion to get over obstacles
and do something immensely difficult.  That's why walking-up birds is
better than driving.  When I've got a gun I want to hit an object which
is incidentally a bird.  It isn't the killing that matters."

"But why don't you shoot at targets or clay pigeons?"

"There you have me.  I suppose at that point the savagery comes in.  It
isn't the same to shoot at disappearing targets, and that's all one can
say.  Hullo, they're starting, we'd better stop talking."

Far away at the back of the covert arose the noise of cracking twigs
and trampled leaves: closer and closer it came until the sounds were
distinguishable, now the tapping of a stick on a tree, the beating of a
bush, the long-drawn cries of "Mark" and "Forward," the swift whir of
wings, and at last the sharp crack of guns.  The woods, once awful with
still silence, were all sound and movement.  The gun, behind whom
Martin and Freda were standing, had only one chance and took it--a
beautiful right and left.  The second bird fell close to them, crashing
through branches to a soft bed of leaves.  Freda gasped and jumped
forward.  The drive was over.

"You wanted it to fall?" said Martin, taking up the warm, motionless
body.

"I think I did," she confessed.  "But only for a moment."

"It seemed right, didn't it?"

"I suppose so.  But I couldn't touch it."  She paused.  "Yes, I was
glad when he hit them both," she added.  "The strain of waiting and
looking and listening seemed to make it all different.  And he was so
quick.  I can't think how he could have got round to the second.  It
was all wonderful in a horrible, alluring kind of way."

"I was right," said Martin.  "There is something in it, you see."

He was glad that she understood: it gave them another point in common.
The next beat would take them some way from home, out to the bleaker
side of the woods.  Martin proposed that they should wait until the
guns returned and Freda was willing.  They went to the pines where the
ground was clean and firm and there on a bank they waited.

And there too Martin became more than ever aware of Freda.  She was
digging her toes in the soil and at the same time leaning strongly back
upon the dry bank.  Thus her body was strung and braced tightly so that
she seemed to him to be one strong curve against the ground.  And yet
she was not strained uneasily and her limbs were all fine sweep and
rhythm.  He drank in the exquisite grace of her fragility.  Everything
about her was brown, her hair, her eyes, her borrowed coat, her long
boots vanishing beneath brown tweed, even the feather in her adorable
hat.  Against the brown couch of the bank the various tints joined in a
sombre harmony.

"You mustn't stare," she said suddenly.  "It's rude."

"How can I help it?" he answered.

"Easily.  I'm not a country girl and I'm not at all attractive in this
get-up.  I hate it.  Great, clumsy boots!"

"You mustn't say that.  You're just perfect like this.  It seems so
rotten that you should be dragged away from it all and made to do the
world's drudgery and not see these places.  You do fit into them,
whatever you may say."

She turned and looked right into his eyes.  "Dear boy," she said, "you
mustn't take me too seriously.  I'm quite happy.  You mustn't worry
about me."

"I can't help it," he broke out.  "It's in me to feel for you, to hate
the waste of you, to want you happier and stronger and getting more out
of things and more out of the things you do get."  He told her of his
hopes and fears and how she had affected them and drawn him out of
them.  She had taught him not to grumble about an excellent fortune.
And he began to tell her of her own perfection, but she stopped him.

"It's very, very nice of you to care about what becomes of me," she
said.  "I think you exaggerate my wasted capacities: in fact I know you
do.  But whether or not you're right about me, I know I'm right about
you."

"And what about me?"

"That you aren't in love with me at all.  You're rather lonely and
afraid of the future and perhaps, well, sentimental.  It's nothing to
be ashamed of.  It shows that you're generous, because you're trying to
get rid of your own despair by trying to share mine, which doesn't
exist as a matter of fact.  You're a little in love with love and very
young and very nice.  And now I'm getting cold so please take me home
and be quite honest with yourself."

As he walked back with her he said very little.  Against his conscience
he was angry, angry at what he knew was his own humiliation.  She had
been so damnably maternal and--worse still--so damnably right.

On Monday she went back to town; she had forbidden him to renew the
subject and they had talked as they originally talked, with argument,
like undergraduates.  But for Martin such conversation had lost its
charm and he knew such relations could not last.  Still he wanted her
to be a martyr dragged to the altar of commercialism and she had
refused to think of martyrdom.  Her happiness galled him, as he
confessed to himself with shame.  Yet less than ever was he able to
forget her.

So Freda went.  And Martin remained to work feebly and to write long
letters and to sit fidgeting until the second post had come in and he
knew that to-day at any rate she hadn't answered.

But sometimes she did answer, shortly indeed but kindly; and he was
happy then.

In January he went back to Oxford and the further settling of
philosophy on a business basis.  Amid all the energies and diversions
of terms the memory of Freda did not vanish nor even fade.  Hitherto
the postman had been neglected in Martin's survey of the passers-by,
but now he was more important than any one even of the other sex.
Martin had never before noticed how many posts there were in a day, but
now he knew all about it.



VII

On an evening of early June Martin, Rendell and Lawrence punted up a
backwater of the Thames.  It was cool on the water's surface and a
lingering remnant of breeze stole across the silent meadows and played
gently with the willows.  They had escaped from Oxford and the
gas-works, from gramophones and the university boathouse.  It was a
special haunt of their own to which they had come, one of Hinksey's
unpathed waters, very narrow and remote.  At length they made fast to a
stump of wood and smoked in peace.

It was all over.  They had lived through a week of sweltering agony, of
darting to the Schools in cap and gown and stuffy clothes, of darting
out again to see how many words they had got wrong in their
translation.  Such is the dignity of Greats.  Abiding by their plans,
they had worked their philosophy according to schedule and answered
their questions on grimly practical lines.  They hadn't made bold to
know about Beauty.

"Well," said Rendell, "that's the end of that."

"What?" yawned Martin.  He was tired alike by his exertions and recent
celebration of the end.

"Of everything."

"Edified?"

"I think so.  It's been rather majestic somehow.  To have to know about
everything and keep a theory about every branch of thought and action.
One doesn't do it, but it's rather good to think one is supposed to do
it."

"Depressing enough before the event," Martin remembered nights of wild
battling with insoluble problems and days when he had gazed in despair
at papers recently set and realised his complete incapacity to inform
the examiners about modality or the legal aspects of the Cæsar-Pompey
quarrel.

"You used to get jolly black?" said Lawrence, remembering silences and
outbursts or the lonely walks that Martin sometimes took.

"It's all very well for you," retorted Martin.  "You may have to look
forward to dull sort of work, but you're secure enough.  I'm just
beginning this business of getting a job and it's poor fun.  I suppose
it means India."

"You'll get a decent screw," said Rendell by way of comfort.

"And come back without a liver or an idea."

"Except about curry and cigars."

"I can't imagine our gloomy Martin as a sun-dried bureaucrat," Lawrence
remarked.  "But I suppose he'll have punkahs and khitmutgars and syces
and be the devil of a chap.  I daresay it's all right when you're
there."

"There are few people who loathe the British Empire more cordially than
I do," said Martin.  "But there seems to be no way of keeping clear of
it.  Anyway I've quite settled not to starve as a journalist.  Sooner
the White Man's Burden than that."

"Anyhow," said Rendell, still eager to comfort, "we don't know anything
about the Burden, do we?  There may be something in it."

"Well, one thing is quite plain," asserted Martin, "there's no charity
going as far as I am concerned.  If I have to go and live in a dirty
hot hole I go there because I can't get a decent living otherwise.  I
go on the make and I'll resign as soon as I can get the thousand that
they're always chattering about.  None of your Burden for me."

"To gather from what one sees," said Lawrence, "the Burden doesn't
weigh very heavily on the shoulders of the big pots.  They seem to do
themselves pretty well."

"Of course they do.  That's what they go for.  How many varsity men
would go abroad if they could live in comfort and get the same wage at
home?  Not ten per cent.  And who can blame them?  India pays, and it
pays for hard, dangerous, useful work.  I don't mind men going for the
pay, but I do mind journalists blithering about their self-devotion in
taking up the noble load."

"All the same," said Rendell cheerily, "you've quite a good chance for
the Home."

"I wish the deuce I had," sighed Martin.  "If I'd worked all the time I
might have done it.  But it's too late now.  I don't really know
anything and will be lucky to get India.  Come on, let's move a bit."

During the next few days Martin managed to forget the looming menace of
the East.  The heat remained and they lived on the river, bathing and
sleeping and feeding in turn.  And then here were a couple of farewell
dinners.  The champagne flowed and Holywell was full of rushing people
and strange noises.  The passing of Lawrence was worthy of his whole
career and on his last night a stalwart cortège bore him like a warrior
to his rest.

After the end of term Martin stayed up to work.  July was a month of
lonely misery, of dust and bad tennis and the cramming of English
Literature.  At last the time for his Greats viva came and he walked
down to the Schools with Lawrence, there to be asked by a nervous
little man whether he thought things or thought thoughts.  He at once
informed the nervous little man that this was an idiotic question and
that Descartes ... his knowledge of Descartes was overwhelming.
Lawrence was dealt with by a truculent, red-faced man who asked him
minute questions about the wanderings of the Phocæans.  Lawrence just
smiled wisely and was sent away.  Rendell's turn came later.  He was
asked about the foundations of morality and maintained that while Kant
was very wise and venerable he was also very wrong.  But he remained
respectful of Kant.  One can only be offensive to J. S. Mill in Oxford
nowadays, but about him one can say anything.

Once more Rendell took a first, Martin a second, and Lawrence a third.
It was the history that kept them apart.  Their philosophy had been
uniformly good; Mr Cuggy was filled with pride and wrote to
congratulate them all: whereat they wondered what would have happened
if they had continued to cling to that philosophic rock, the Absolute.
Yet it was nice of him to write.  That was the worst of Cuggy: you
couldn't dislike him.

From an Oxford of glaring streets and searching, irresistible dust
Martin went up to London to seek his fortune at Burlington House.
Later he remembered that August as a month of blazing heat and tired
hands and aching head.  He remembered a gloomy place shaped like a
theatre where morose men asked him if he had a buff book and tore his
papers from under his pen when time was up.  There were days of solid
labour and nights of anxiety spent with the text-books for to-morrow's
exams: and there were unforgettable crowds of candidates sitting upon
the steps before each paper and going over their notes for a last time
with feverish futility.  He remembered hating the people from Wren's as
he had hated the Grammar School boys in his scholarship exams,
jealously loathing and dreading their preparedness and notes and iron
methods.  He remembered the filthy temper he was in and his contempt
for the scrubby little man who sat next to him and muttered to himself
incessantly.  Martin had crammed Blankney's notes on the Attic
constitution because he had heard a rumour that Blankney was examining,
and he remembered a ceaseless effort to display knowledge which he did
not possess and to scrape up marks, marks, marks....

But the exams brought him also to Freda.

He found her pale and tired and more fragile than ever: he found her
working from ten to six and idling despondently in the evenings.  Quite
obviously she was not the woman he had known in Devonshire.

Then she was strong and at her ease, full of mysterious confidence,
rejoicing in life and her ability to cope with it.  He had been to her
merely an undergraduate, nicely foolish, he had amused her and she had
read his letters, even answered them.  He had chattered of affection
and she had laughed him gently to scorn.

Now he came to her as a man in a world where men were scarce and men
were needed.  But it was Freda who had changed, not Martin.  The
transformation of the boy into the man was due to the heat of summer
and the click of typewriters.  To one deafened with the city's roar
Martin brought memories of perfect woods and lonely pines that stood
out against emptiness, starkly black.  They used to go out together in
the evenings, to Richmond, to Putney Heath, to Hampstead.  They went
where the others went because they were as the others, hard-worked,
tired-out, desperately needing one another.  There was no glory of
passion in their evenings.  Street lamps did not flame as flowers of
the East, trees did not tower like giants luring them with soft voices,
water was still water.  Earth and sky had not altered for them: it had
not altered for the others who wandered in the same places.

One Monday at half-past five Martin hurried out of Burlington House
after his second paper in English Literature.  Never in his life had he
written more in six hours: he had drained his soul of platitude and
pretence, discreetly praising and blaming men whom he had never read,
never, thank God, would read, all the remoter 'C's,' Cowley, Cowper,
Crabbe.

His nerves were all frayed.  He hated the statues of Liebnitz and Locke
and Plato ... what had Platonism to do with that sordid spot?  He hated
the Burlington Arcade with its lingering odour of stale scent: a woman
smiled at him horribly and he hated her.  He hated Piccadilly because
it was dusty and deserted, and he hated the tea he drank because it was
too hot and there were flies on the table.  He hated himself for not
remembering a quotation.  How plain it all seemed now, and yet he had
missed it.

He met Freda at half-past six at Waterloo and they went down to Thames
Ditton.  The river was crowded with punts and canoes and boats of every
kind, but they joined the press.  As darkness fell lights began to
glitter like jewels across the water.  Here and there a Chinese lantern
swung on a prow, the glowing end of a cigarette flickered and was gone.
Ripples of laughter floated from a nook where people supped, the
popping of a cork, the tinkling of distant music.  But if there was not
solitude or silence, there was at least a breeze that shook the parched
leaves and whispered in bough and rush.  Martin found a vacant berth
deeply curtained with bushes and low-hanging trees and there they made
fast the punt and lingered.

They talked a little of his exam and of his prospects.  And then they
talked of her prospects.

"You're too fine for it," he said suddenly.  It was what he had said so
often before, but now she was no longer maternal or cheerily scornful
of his protests.  She yielded alike to his thought and to his touch.
Never had she so yielded before.  For Martin the world became a great,
black silence: the only thing he knew was the closeness of her.  That
she trusted him, and wanted him was joy: that she was there, beside
him, his, was magic.  Because she for the first time yielded, he for
the first time forgot.  Never before had he quite escaped from himself,
from considering the impression that he was likely to be making, from
worrying fears and self-conscious timidity.  Now he was free.  He was
aware only of the intangible fragrance of her hair, the warmth and
movement of her body, the curve and rhythm of her limbs, the instant
claim of her fragility.  Everything became different.


At the end of the month Freda had a fortnight's holiday and went to an
aunt in Yorkshire.  Martin had arranged to meet Lawrence and Rendell at
Seatoller in the Lakes.  He went in a bitter mood, hungry for Freda,
physically stale, and hopeless.  But the traditional rain never came
and soon they knew every crag of Honister and Grey Knotts, of
Glaramara, of The Gables and the Scawfells, of the Langdale Pikes.  The
challenge of wind and weather on the hills and the flaming splendour of
Borrowdale in autumn drove apprehension and despair from his soul.  He
learned that in some places a man cannot be morbid.

On an evening of late September they were playing three-handed auction.
A telegram arrived from Devonshire.  The commissioners had sent the
result to his home address, it seemed.

Martin put down his hand and tore open the envelope.  He had passed
fifty-first on the list.

"Looks like India," he said quietly.

Neither Rendell nor Lawrence knew what to say.  He had wanted the Home
service, they knew, and fifty-first would not get that for him.  They
muttered congratulations self-consciously.

Martin took up his hand once more.  It was solidly black.

"Five hearts?" he said.  "Five royals."

The opposition collapsed and he made his tricks.

They played late, thinking only of the cards.  Martin's career was
settled, his life mapped out, his whole future determined by that
message, and they talked of rubbers and pence.  If he had miraculously
passed in first or failed altogether they would have discussed it, but,
because he had achieved the expected mediocrity, by tacit convention
they were silent.  The cards were really more important.



VIII

As Martin lay in bed that night it occurred to him with all the
violence of a real discovery that he was, under certain conditions, the
destined ruler and administrator of a nation far vaster and more
ancient than his own, a nation of whose religion, ideals and practical
needs he knew nothing whatever.  He was equally ignorant of its
population, products and methods of life, though of course he had a
year in which to learn about these things.  Incredible that he, Martin,
twenty-two, boyish and superficial, should be a guardian of this
people, a pro-consul in the making!  And perhaps more strange was his
apathy.  In addition to his complete ignorance about India he cared
nothing for the place, for how can a man, temperamentally inclined to
Nationalism rather than to Imperialism, care for a nation which he only
knows by a red blob on the map or by finding its stamps in collections
restricted to the British Empire.  India meant nothing to Martin.  He
had read Kipling, and certainly no tales of his had, despite the magic
of their narrative, made him responsive to the call of the East.  He
still took it for granted that British rulers there would be as British
rulers elsewhere, bigoted, snobbish, and unexpectedly effectual:
corrupt, perhaps, fooling the poor and honouring the rich, bungling and
lying and making money.  That, he felt, was the attitude of the men he
met, exaggerated, no doubt, but based on fact.  But as he lay gazing at
the cracks in the old ceiling above him his thoughts went back to the
sheer bulk and beauty of The Gable, to Holywell at dusk, to the woods
around The Steading and the cult of his uncle's deity.  About the
Oriental world he neither knew nor cared.  He couldn't believe in it,
so remote and unimportant it still seemed.

At Oxford during his Indian year he found that the future civilians
took little interest in the place to which they were going.  They
wanted the pay and perhaps, though not admittedly, the possibility of a
knighthood and a row of letters after their names.  Certainly no one
was concerned about the White Man's Burden.  Naturally he did not blame
these people: like himself, they were only seeking for a reasonable
livelihood.  But he was sickened by the cant he discovered in speeches
and papers, the froth about self-sacrifice and noble callings: the work
might, he acknowledged, be good and useful, it might promote the
welfare of mankind and bring the peace of Cæsar to a troubled world,
but no one was giving anything away in going to do it.

And he was lonely now.  He had rooms in narrow Ship Street, and there
he spent solitary days and nights craving the society of the Push:
sometimes one of them would come down for a week-end, but otherwise
there was scarcely anyone to whom he could talk.  The winter crept on
dismally, and Martin studied Bengali or rode on horseback over Shotover
and Port meadow.  But there was something wrong about Oxford: he felt
old and alien and the college, when he entered it, seemed to be
bubbling over with freshmen, all amazingly young and innocent and
happy.  He was vaguely jealous of them, uncharitably hostile.  Were
they not talking as he had talked, idling as he had idled?  One friend
he had, a poet in his third year, discreet and practical.  From time to
time Martin dined with him and forgot about India.

Most of all Freda mattered.  Now that he was alone and despondent, he
relied on her letters and his memories and thoughts of her to make life
easier, even more tolerable.  He retraced the whole course of their
friendship, trying to reshape their relations.  He remembered her first
as an arguer, a friend to whom he had talked and talked: and then as a
martyr, the sufferer for whom he had felt with a genuine, unstinting
pity.  And at last ... well, at last as a woman, as a person who had
the power of making life different, of turning London into an enchanted
fairyland and India into a vision of cool beauty, a person of infinite
tenderness and understanding, a person whose presence and sympathy
could stop things hurting.  What rendered him most happy was his
ability to meet her on equal terms.  Hitherto she had been
self-supporting, he a pampered undergraduate.  He had had prospects but
no certainty, and he had shrunk, even on that summer night upon the
river, from saying things that he wanted to say, because he felt that
it wasn't fair.  One couldn't honourably say these things until one was
'a made man': one couldn't decently make women expect things unless you
had some reasonable basis for hopes.  With girls like May Williams it
didn't matter what one said, because he had been just a 'fellow,' she
just a 'girl.'  Such affairs had their agreeable conventions.  But with
Freda it had been different, because there was no such tacit agreement:
she might, she would expect him to take her out of her toil and
weariness.  And now he was free to say and do as it pleased him.  He
was 'made' and had position, for only by great folly and stupidity
could he lose his opportunity.

At the end of term he went up to London.  He told the Berrisfords that
he had to go to a riding test at Woolwich and wanted to see the varsity
rugger match.  It is odd that a young man should be instinctively
ashamed of love: he will tell his companions of his bodily desires
gladly and even proudly, but he will hesitate before he confesses a
craving for sympathy.  He did ride, it is true, and he went to Queen's
Club, where he caught an occasional glimpse of Cambridge three-quarters
running abominably fast.  It was one of the 'slump' years in Oxford
football, the reaction after the reign of the immortals at Iffley Road,
when the whole city and university trooped down to watch six elusive
Internationals playing with the opposition's defence.  Now Cambridge
was doing the same and avenging those past defeats.  Humiliating to
watch those Tabs waving hats and yelling and ultimately carrying their
captain from the field of glory!  Comforting to reflect that when
Oxford won they won soberly and with restraint, as though victory were
for them the normal and accustomed thing!  Only Tabs would behave like
that.  With such thoughts he tried to soothe his anger and disgust.

In the evening, because Freda had a headache, Martin dined with
Lawrence and became expensively drunk: later he had memories of a
crowded music hall, of distant singers and dancers flitting incessantly
before white scenery: they worried him and he shouted at them to go
away, but seemingly they refused.  There were recollections of drinks
with an old Elfreyan and the toasting of the school, of an elaborate
conversation in French with a woman who only spoke Cockney, of a speech
to the Indian nation begun on the crowded promenade and ended
magnificently from the fountain at Piccadilly Circus.  Probably there
was supper somewhere and more noise and then he must have walked miles,
for suddenly he became sober and found himself far down the Fulham
Road.  He picked up a taxi, and managed to get into bed more or less
successfully about half-past three.

Freda, too, had spent a dull autumn.  She had spoken the truth when she
said that she was just too good for dull toil and not good enough for
real work.  The system was gradually devouring her and she had long ago
reached the stage at which the one thing in life that matters is six
o'clock, the hour of release from the drudgery and sordid gloom of the
office.  She lived for her leisure and on her leisure she had nothing
to spend.  There were friends whom she saw at intervals, but their
intimacy had limitations and was only close enough to drive home the
need for real companionship.

In one matter she had been fortunate.  She had found a cheap room at
the top of an old house in Bloomsbury and was thus spared the necessity
of going to one of those gloomy mansions for working women.  It was a
small room, high up and chilly: but it was hers, and even the gas-fire
could not rob it of real comfort.

Martin had not meant to linger in London as he had work to do.  But he
soon realised the impossibility of going away.  Not only did he need
Freda, but she too needed him.  There was no advantage in denying the
mutual emptiness and mutual satisfaction.  So he stayed, and in the
mornings and afternoons he read his Indian law and history, or wandered
about London, loitering in picture galleries or threading the ways of
Bloomsbury with many a passing glance at the house where Freda slept.
Squarely and simply it stood, with no flaunting brick-work or Victorian
embellishment: its colour was the nameless colour that a London house
should have, the sombre blending of grey and red and deepest brown.  On
one side was a mean street, one of those sad thoroughfares which Chance
has brought to destitution: the houses were good and strong, but each
contained a score of people and belched out numberless squalid children
to play and quarrel in the teeming gutters.  On the other side a wide
street ran straight up to a square garden and the two lines of houses
converged and faded away in a haze of smoke and branches.  In the
afternoons, when Martin walked there, sunset would stain the gentle
greyness with pink or, in angrier mood, would stab dark clouds and
leave great rifts of red.  It was all so strong and quiet and
dignified, seeming actually to exhale the finest quality of London.
The street, at any rate, was worthy of her.

When the long day's wait was over he would have Freda to himself.  Then
London became beautiful in every line and form and colour.  The lamps
were flaming jewels and the rain-soaked, glittering streets were bands
of silver: the murkiest lane threw off its squalor, and the night, with
its great glooms and shadows, its sudden bursts of iridescence and its
mystery of swiftly moving figures, made him think of Eastern jungles,
splashed with fierce colours, cavernous with infinite shade.  Then a
woman, rouged and powdered and swathed in tawny fur, would sweep
majestically past: she was the tiger who burned brightly.  Formerly he
hated these women, because they charmed him, challenged and held his
gaze, hated them too because they brought home to him the fact that he
had not the courage of his desires.  But now he need not care.  That
was the great joy of it.

So in this enchanted forest of London they walked and drove, feasted
and saw the play: not one play, but all the plays.  And after the play
they feasted again and were contented.  It was a forest that tended to
swallow gold rather than yield it, and Martin had to borrow on the
security of his position as a probationer in the Indian Civil Service.
But there was pleasure in the signing of the bond.

Sometimes they would sit in Martin's hotel, which had a large, deserted
lounge with sensible corners and crannies for conversation.  Sometimes
he would go back with Freda to her room in Bloomsbury and wait until
she turned him out.

"I won't have you here after eleven," she told him and quoted from _The
Great Adventure_ on reputations, the coddling and neglect of them.

"But if you have me at all----" he protested.

"I'm English and I believe in compromise," she answered.

So he stayed till eleven.  It was a neat place and orderly with naked
walls: he loved it as he loved its owner.  When the washstand and bed
had been hidden behind their curtain, the stray shoes kicked beneath
the wardrobe, and the arm-chair drawn up to the gas-fire, there seemed
to be nothing mean or sordid in the room despite the lack of space and
the roof corner that jutted rudely in.  What did it matter now if the
window looked on to a back yard and a world of chimneys?

"Why are you so wonderfully tidy?" Martin asked.

"Don't you associate tidiness with me?"

"No, you're too wild.  Tidinesss is a petty virtue."

"Well I confess it hasn't anything to do with my general character.  I
hope I'm not petty anyhow.  It's sternly practical tidiness.  I used to
be lazy and find my stockings muddled up with the spoons, but it soon
sickened me and now I have come to prefer the fag of clearing up to the
discomfort of a muddle.  Besides, if I'm going to have you here it
oughtn't to be a beddy 'bed-sit,' but a sitty 'bed-sit.'"

"Your precious reputation," he laughed.

On another night she asked him what the Berrisfords thought about his
absence from home.

"I don't know and I don't think I care!" he answered.

"Why?  They must be interested in you, and you're very fond of them."

"I dare say, but I can't think of them now."  He drew her to him.
"Freda, I'm too happy to care about them.  I just can't imagine that
the world has any other place but London, or any other people but you
and me.  Nothing else is real; nothing counts, not India or Oxford or
anything."

She yielded herself to him, but suddenly drew back.

"You mustn't go and muddle things," she said conscientiously.
"Supposing you fail next September, what would I feel like?"

"I won't fail next September," he answered defiantly.

"I'm glad you said that.  You must be confident, much, much more
confident.  I'm sure you would have been happier if you had never been
afraid of things."

Ecstasy to know her gladness, to see her quick smile of confidence
because he was confident!  How could he have feared and doubted?  He
could not let her draw away: his arms must have her.

"I'm never going to be afraid again," he said.  "I know what was wrong
now."

"Well?"

"I didn't care about anything.  I didn't know what I wanted, while
everything lay in front of me.  I didn't feel, though I had all the
world to feel about.  I didn't love, though I had all the world to
love.  I just drifted.  Now I have what I want."

She was silent.  Across the tumult of his soul stole things of the
senses, the pulsing of her blood, the scent of that brown witchery of
hair, the touch of her tired hand, the vision of a glistening bow of
silk on a poised foot: above all, the divine sense of his own grasping
possession, her clinging weakness.

"I know now what I want," he went on rapidly.  "I want the same thing
to go on that has just begun, the thing that has brushed all the
hardness and ugliness out of the world and made the future easy.
You've done all that.  I want you."

He crushed her to him roughly, almost hurting her: and he knew by her
stillness that it pleased her so to be hurt.

"You're not going back now," he whispered fiercely.  "You're not going
to knock to pieces the thing you've built.  India is a cool heaven now;
don't make it a fiery hell.  Work is all doing and creating.  Don't
make it all drudgery.  Oh, I'm selfish.  You're so perfect, and I can
only talk of my own work, my own troubles.  Freda, I'm sorry.  I----"

Still she was silent.

"Oh, say something," he begged.  "Forgive me for being selfish."

"There's nothing to forgive."

"Then say--you've said you cared for me--say you love me."

In a moment he had forgotten his remorse and again was claiming,
insisting.  And she, knowing that love can be, even must be, selfish
and imperious, was glad that he should claim her and obeyed his command.

Of course Martin stayed in London over Christmas and into the New Year,
living with a fullness he had never known, seeing the purpose and
fineness of things which he had despised and neglected.  How strange it
was that all the world should be changed by that one weak figure,
seemingly so ineffectual! how strange that one mortal should carry for
another the keys of heaven!  How trivial seemed all his philosophy with
its objectivity of this and that when he discovered how subjective all
his outlook was, how the presence or the absence of a loved one could
make or mar the colour-medley of a sunset or the beauty of a tree
against the sky.

One thing was certain: he gloried in possession.  All his loneliness
was forgotten now and, as he paced the streets, he could look upon the
other couples without the pang of jealousy that once had stung him.
There would be no more glances thrown furtively at passing women, no
turning of an eager eye for bygone faces, no more emptiness and
yearning.  Deep magic lay in the thought that Freda, with her smile,
and her quick mind, and her infinite grace of movement, was his to
possess, to own.  He was not ashamed to glory in these proprietary
relations nor was she ashamed to accept them.  She even welcomed them,
yielding to Martin with an utter abandonment of self.  She wanted only
to be his, to be his loved possession, to help him and to share humbly
in his triumphs and successes.

One night indeed he repented, not of his love, but of his manner of
love.  He felt the indignity of ownership.

They had gone, in a fit of intellectual enthusiasm, to see a play
called _Drift_.  At a small outlying theatre two young men of ideas
were completing the noble task of self-imposed bankruptcy by giving the
British public a season of "good drama."  And the public naturally
helped on the work by the easy method of staying away.  The house was
barely half full when, after the hammerings customary in these circles,
the curtain went up.

_Drift_, a play in four acts by Villiers Wentworth, turned out to be a
fair specimen of that now antiquated genre, The New Drama.  It had the
monosyllabic title, the insistent realism, the contempt for form and
dramatic convention, the arid conversation with lapses of brilliance,
the admirable acting, and, above all, the Great Gloom.  It was
naturally a play with a point, showing, justly and forcibly, the
hopeless inadequacy of modern life to provide the average man and woman
with anything like a Unity of Interest.  The characters drifted from
home which they dreaded to work which they loathed and in the evening
they made the return journey.  Nothing held their lives together,
nothing remained as a permanent, unifying interest.  There was love,
but, as Mr Villiers Wentworth pointed out, the young man is barred
socially and economically from indulging in anything but
hole-and-corner affairs just when he most needs real sympathy.

"Not a good play," said Martin as they walked out into the flaring
streets and joined the joyous welter of confusion at Piccadilly.  "The
man's got no sense of humour and he thinks that everyone is miserable
who hasn't got two hundred a year.  The poor are just as happy as the
rich.  Of course they oughtn't to be, but they are."

"But there was a point," said Freda, "about unity of interest.  It may
be obvious, but it's true.  Didn't you drift?  Haven't I drifted?"

They turned into a restaurant.

As they supped they forgot about the play.  But later Martin's mind
returned to the subject.

"Come back," said Freda suddenly.  "Penny."

"Hand over," he answered, smiling as he started.

"Well, what is it?"

"You, of course."

"I'm sorry for that.  You looked so sad."

"I'm feeling ashamed," he confessed.

"What of?"

"Of the way I've thought of you.  I've been so selfish.  I only cared
for my own escape from drifting.  It's been my work, my life, my love.
I have been thinking of you as the person who would make my life
perfect.  It's been all me, me, me.  When we first met I thought of you
and your work.  Now it's only me and my work."

"That's as it should be."

"No, no, it isn't.  A year ago I should have hated myself for thinking
like this."

"Perhaps you have learned as well as lived."

"I've been a brute and there's an end of it."  He was deriving a secret
pleasure from his self-depreciation.  There was bliss in humiliating
himself before her, in grovelling at the feet of her whom he adored.
If he could not get the conventional thrill from the confession of past
affairs and failings, he would achieve the ecstasy of self-torture by
laying bare a loftier mistake.

But she laughed at him.  "Silly Billy," she said.  "Pay the waiter and
I'll tell you."

She told him as they drove back together in their taxi.

"After all," she began, "compare my work with yours.  Mine is drudgery.
Yours is big and important.  It doesn't matter what becomes of mine,
but it matters a lot what becomes of yours, I hate mine and I love
yours.  I want to give myself up to yours, to make it easier and
better.  Can't you see, Martin dear, that isn't selfishness or
unselfishness.  Those words don't count in such a case.  If we love,
then I'm you and you're me, and one person can't give to himself or
take away from himself surely."

"It sounds so specious," he said.  "And yet I still feel greedy, as
though I were denying your right to be yourself."

"I don't want to be myself.  I want to be different.  I'm as greedy as
you are and more so, only differently.  As it is, the word isn't real.
We're both giving and both taking and there's an end of it."

He was silent for a moment.  "It's no use my trying to say how perfect
you are," he said at last.

"Dear, delightful, serious, conscience-stricken gloomkins," she laughed
at him.  "What does all this matter ... how we share things, I mean?
The only real thing is enthusiasm, wanting and feeling and loving.  You
were at a loose end until you began to feel; you couldn't work, you
couldn't do anything.  Nor could I.  And now work is all changed and
seems better and easier.  The office is a palace for me, India a
pleasure garden for you.  Do stop worrying and be sensible."

"I'm sorry," he said.  "I'll try and be good.  You're always right.
This taxi goes far too fast.  We're in your street."

"Bother," she said.

"Let's tell him to drive on somewhere else and come back in another
one."

"No.  You've spent far too much and we've done that often enough.  I'm
going to be a good girl to-night."

"Tyrant."

"Wastrel."

"He's stopping.  One more kiss."

Through streets that more than ever resembled enchanted pathways in a
forest of shadow and silver, Martin went back exulting to his hotel.



IX

It was the second week in January when Martin went down to The
Steading: he merely stayed to collect books and clothes and returned at
once to London.  While he was there he told his uncle and aunt that he
was engaged to be married.

That night John Berrisford discussed the matter with his wife.  "Well,"
he began, "what about our young Martin?"

"I suppose it's all right," said Mrs Berrisford quietly.  "He's very
young, but that seems to be the fashion nowadays."

"Yes, that doesn't matter.  Long engagements are tragic, unhealthy
things, but they'll be apart and he ought to be able to marry almost at
once.  Quite a lot of civilians do."

"And she's quite a nice girl."

John Berrisford gave the slight wriggle of the shoulders for which we
have only the excessive word "shrug."

"Don't you approve?" added his wife.

"Yes and no.  On the whole, no."  He kicked at the fire testily.
"She's quite a nice girl and clever and reasonable beyond the average.
If Martin were going to hang about in town, well and good.  But really
is she the wife of an Indian Civilian?"

"But, John, surely!  You with your ideas about freedom!  You don't
believe in the marriage of convenience, I know.  Isn't Martin to have
his choice?"

"Of course he shall have every choice.  I'm not one to bluster or give
orders or interfere.  He's going to marry the girl, not I.  I know
that.  But I'd like him to think a little first.  Do consider the
facts.  Freda is clever and quick.  Perhaps she really cares for
Martin, perhaps she's only sick to death of the hellish existence
decreed by modern civilisation for penniless orphans of the female sex.
But she has lived in a groove, she has never met people--not the kind
of people she'd run up against in India.  She doesn't like games or
society.  She likes talking and arguing and lying in bed.  She'd hate
the Anglo-Indian just as she hates any kind of pomp and circumstance.
She hasn't the vaguest notion as to what they'll expect of her.  Worse
still, she hasn't even health.  She would be invalided home in a year
and Martin with a salary of three or perhaps four hundred a year would
have to support a wife whom he only saw on leave.  You've got to
consider his career and his general happiness.  There is no reason why
he shouldn't find a woman who understands the kind of life and
behaviour, a woman who could fit in, and yet has brains and charm
enough for an intelligent person."

"Mary Brodrick?" suggested Mrs Berrisford.  "The kind of girl who sings
about her caravan resting after dinner?"

"We needn't go as far as that.  Something between the two."

"You're a heartless old schemer, John.  We must respect his choice."

"Absolutely.  But I'm fairly confident about the result.  Anyhow there
is plenty of time and it's Martin's first affair."

"Are you sure?"

"I have watched the signs of times.  This is the first time he has
taken a month to see the varsity match."

"But he is stubborn when he has once settled on a thing.  He doesn't
decide quickly, I know, but when he has he is firm."

"We'll see.  As it is, I suppose you must have her down for Easter.  I
got her her present job and I know her employers well.  I can easily
get them to allow her a holiday then.  And when we've got them, we must
leave them very much alone."

"But surely----"

"My dear, it's the only hope.  Keep them apart, hint at the
unsuitability of marriage, and they'll elope on nothing in a
fortnight's time.  That's quite certain.  My idea is to bang them
together fairly hard.  I don't want it to hurt, but I do want them to
have a clear idea as to what they are both made of."

"Do you think it's quite fair?"

"Isn't it what they would want themselves?  It's the only possible
thing we can do.  And also," he added quietly, "it will give a certain
interest to next Easter."


But there was no need to beg a holiday for Freda.  In February, when
the winds came driving up the Channel and brought to England a
month-long burden of rain and sleet, her health gave way again and she
was warned that she was not strong enough for the wear and tear of an
office life.  For most people it is true that colds are not liable to
the laws of cause and effect: they happen or they don't and to be
soaked to the skin is no more fatal than to bask in the sun.  But for
Freda to arrive at the office with feet wet and cold meant certain
visitation.  And by six o'clock she was always worn out.  Now she would
have to rely on an uncle and aunt.  The uncle had money and had offered
already to release Freda from the misery of work, but she had refused,
so intolerable had seemed his great Victorian mansion on Sheffield's
edge.  She had wanted, in her youthful courage, to work and to be free.
But now there was no use in fighting and she yielded partly from a
consideration of hard fact, partly because her uncle had retired from
his business and was coming to London.  Idleness in town with an
allowance!  By privation she had been taught the meaning and the value
of both.  So it was as a woman of moderate means and unlimited leisure
that Freda came to The Steading for Easter.

Martin came from Oxford jaded and tired out.  He had had to work hard
in order to make up for a vacation of complete indolence.  The wet
February had brought floods and stinted exercise and despondency: it
had been tedious work, toiling over a new language in those lonely Ship
Street rooms.  His soul hungered for sympathy, his body for the
infinite swell and splendour of the moor and for the cold sting of the
winds that whirled across it like the thongs of a lash.

For a week he stayed about the house and strolled in the near woods
with Freda, whose recent illness had left her far too weak for real
walking.  She hadn't the strength nor could she risk a strain or chill.
So Martin lingered with her all day, while they built fantastic castles
of hopes and visions.  Then the inactivity grew intolerable to his
body, tore at his nerves, and made him ravenous for the moor and the
golf-links.  Freda despised golf and could not understand how any sane
person could be bothered with it.  They squabbled about it gently,
never suspecting that it might come to matter.

Fate fought against Freda.

Martin, whenever during these days he handled a club, found that he
could do nothing wrong: he was "on his game."  And the Cartmells came
down for the Easter recess.  Godfrey had captured the seat two years
ago and had settled down comfortably on a back bench from which his
wife intended to oust him.  But the back-bencher may live strenuous
nights and days: he too was tired and wanted air and exercise.  And so
in the afternoons Martin was called upon as much by civility as by the
craving of his heart to motor with them to the golf-course and join in
a foursome.  Desperate warfare took place in which Martin was Viola's,
Godfrey Margaret Berrisford's ally.  And Martin was wonderful.  His
drives flew far and low, straight for the flag or the direction post:
no ugly jarring told him of the topped iron-shot: his short putts ran
straight into the middle of the hole.  He dug his partner's foozled
drives out of heather and hedge and laid her wild approaches dead with
a niblick.  Up on that lonely course with only the wind and the white
clouds for neighbours, with no one to keep them back or hurry them on,
with turf so springy that a foot could never tire, so spongy-soft that
a brassie might be lightly taken and effectively wielded, with the
exquisite strain of even conflict, with matches taken to the last green
and won, perhaps by Martin's inimitable 'run-up'--yes, it was golf.

The joy of it was almost insupportable.  Martin began to live for those
afternoons; yet, if he had been off his game, had sliced with his
driver and topped with his irons, as was indeed his wont, the golf-club
would have lost its appeal: there is little pleasure in playing golf
badly, but there is all the world in playing above your form.

Once Freda came up to watch them and walk as far as she could.  But she
was plainly bored, pleaded fatigue, and went back to the little
club-house where she sat reading.  To Martin, in his present mood of
triumphant exultation, it seemed incredible that anyone could fail to
see the point of it.

He tried to convince her.  "Perhaps you can't imagine the thrill that
conies from a really true hit: really it's one of the few good things
in the world.  The ball goes off clean and sweet and leaves you with a
faint tingling that lets you know you've done the trick.  And then you
climb a ridge and there's the ball white and glistening on the green.
That means you've done exactly what you set out to do and that you've
got a long putt to beat Bogey.  And if you ram it in!"

"Baby!" she said, laughing.  "Did 'ums like 'ums bouncey ball."

At first he laughed too and told himself that naturally they couldn't
share all the same tastes.  In the morning and evening he stayed with
her, neglecting his work.  But gradually he came to feel that there was
something more than jocosity in her denunciation of the bouncey ball.

Soon after Easter one of Freda's colds kept her in bed for breakfast.
It was the Cartmells' last day but one and everything pointed to a
final test of strength.  They went over in the morning and stayed to
lunch at the club-house.  There were two great matches, of which each
side gained one.  Martin had not yet lost his skill: he had dreaded the
day of torture when he would go "right off."

"Let's have another nine holes," said Viola Cartmell as they took an
early tea.  "We aren't keeping Martin from his duty.  And it's our last
chance and such an evening."

They agreed to play and nerved themselves for faultless execution.

An hour later Martin lay upon the steep bank at the edge of the ninth
green.  Now he had grasped most certainly, what Freda would never
grasp, the mystery of Ham and Eggs.  In the fine light of sunset the
moor seemed to tower inimitably above them, crowned with its eternal
tors, clear-cut as by a razor's edge against the vast blue emptiness
behind.  The April breeze was whispering in the grass and timid larks
soared and plunged and hung singing in the void.  Before him was the
smooth-shaven green, true as a billiard cloth but humped with testing
undulations.  And there were the three other players awaiting with
tense anxiety the future of the match.  Godfrey was kneeling to take
the line of his putt: the ball would end its journey along the side of
a veritable mountain, a glorious stroke to achieve!  Farther back were
Margaret and Viola.  Suddenly the breeze caught them, snatched at a
stray wisp of hair, played with their skirts, and gave a last caress to
cheeks already kissed to flame.  There were grace and strength knit
perfectly: to Martin they seemed, after the slight form of Freda,
tremendous.  Yet why shouldn't women be strong?  He wanted them to be
strong, to walk with him, to fear neither wind nor weather.  And
Freda...

His thoughts returned swiftly to the match.  Godfrey was on the point
of playing: he had this, a ten footer, to halve the hole and the match.
There was silence and then the gentle tap of the club on a rubber-cored
ball.  One gazed, one shouted.  The ball had lipped the hole and swung
out to the left.

In the car they fought the whole match over again.

"If only I hadn't given you the sixteenth this morning----"

"No, it was my fault.  If I miss two-foot putts, you can't be
expected----"

And thus during the whole journey superb concentration on an end to be
won, superb oblivion to work and wealth and weariness.

Martin found Freda yawning in the porch.

"I thought you were staying upstairs all day," he began.

"Who said so?"

"The maid, I think."

"Well, I never said anything about it.  You don't seem very glad to see
me."

"Of course I am.  Only I meant that I would have come back earlier if I
had known."

"I wouldn't keep you from your golf."

He sat beside her, but she did not welcome him.  She was hurt.

"If I'd only known, I wouldn't----"

"Day after day," she whispered.  "I know you like to be out and about.
I don't claim you always, do I?  But sometimes, surely."

"I didn't know," he repeated remorsefully.  "I didn't know."

"Yesterday you went and to-morrow you'll go."

"No, I won't.  Freda, I'm a brute.  I've been rotten to you.  I've
nothing to say for myself."

"You've got to go to-morrow."

"I won't.  You don't want me to go."

"You must go.  I'm not going to keep you, if you don't stay of your own
accord.  The ball is much more amusing than I am."

He pleaded, he fought against her, but she insisted on his going.

The punishment was effective.  He went in anguish and played with no
zest for the game.  He sliced, he topped, he missed short putts.  The
match fizzled out on the fourteenth green, a fiasco.

The Cartmells hurried back to London and Martin remained to make peace
with Freda.  He had been unspeakably pained by the sordidness and waste
of energy and peace that quarrelling had entailed.  He hated the
suspicions and embarrassments that must linger on: he was passionately
desirous of restoring the old intimacy and yet ... somehow or other the
wound remained.  He couldn't forget that evening on the ninth green.
Why wouldn't Freda see the point of these things?  Why wouldn't she
walk?  She was strong enough now for a mile or two.  Almost he was
angry with her for having been ill, for it is an odd feature of
humanity that we sometimes dislike people for their sufferings, hate
them for a cough or sniff.  And now Martin was on the point of blaming
Freda for the weakness he had once adored.  Why wasn't she strong like
Margaret or Viola?  Why didn't she understand about the moor and
wind-swept spaces and the miracle of hitting a golf-ball?

While he was bearing the olive branch these questions, dreaded and
strongly combated, kept forcing themselves into the narrow passes of
his mind as the Persian host flooded into Thermopylae.  It was futile
to feign deafness: in time they would force a hearing.  And there were
other less easily worded doubts and apprehensions.

Perhaps the summer-time came as a release.  More than he would have
cared to admit, Martin wanted to be alone, to see Freda
dispassionately, from a distance.  And so to Oxford.

Freda, while undergoing all unconsciously this dispassionate
appreciation, retired to London.  But within a few weeks' time she had
received another invitation to Devonshire, and tired not so much of
town as of her relations she gladly accepted.

At The Steading were a Mr and Mrs Brodrick with their daughter.  Arthur
Brodrick had been contemporary with John Berrisford at Oxford and had
passed high into the Indian Civil Service.  Just before his time for a
pension was due he had been invalided home and had missed the full
reward of his service.  The Brodricks lived at Sutton in a remote
mediocrity of wealth more galling than actual poverty.

Was it Chance again, the Chance that had brought a perfect Easter and
put Martin on his game, that now seemed to keep the conversation on
Oriental diseases and the rigours of imperial service?  Certainly Freda
heard more of fever in distant stations than of health and company at
Simla.  But the Brodricks had not been divorced from patriotism by the
hardness of their lot: they still believed in the flag, in the pomp and
state of the British Raj, in stately dinners at Government House where
the couples went down to the feast in order of social precedence, and
they recounted squabbles, petty but bitter antagonisms, of rival ladies
who considered themselves insulted by their positions in the troop of
diners.

Freda listened silently and learned.

So this was the life for which she had bargained.  Eternal fever--so
they implied--eternal society of the Brodricks and their kind!  For
Martin with his work to love and his career to think about such things
might be well enough!  But for her!  How could she blend with this
unknown, this unparalleled society?

Then the Berrisfords suggested that they should all go to Oxford for
Eights Week.  Mr and Mrs Berrisford had to be in town: would Mary
Brodrick come?  And, naturally, Freda?  Both the girls accepted
eagerly.  It was soon settled and rooms were engaged at the Mitre.

On reading the letter announcing their plans Martin groaned in the
spirit.  It wasn't, of course it wasn't, that he did not want to see
Freda.  Did he not write to her as eagerly as ever?  Did she not
answer?  But Eights Week of all times!

Martin was sufficiently a lover of Oxford, summery Oxford of the still
water-ways, to loathe and despise Eights Week, that Whitsuntide holiday
of the wealthy, when the city is invaded by a host of rich trippers,
whose tripping has not even the justification of beer-bottles and
hearty bestiality.  He did not wish to eat salmon mayonnaise, to drink
champagne cup, to propel, in faultless flannels, a punt among a solid
mass of punts, to go for picnics where all London was revelling.  His
choice would have been to launch a vessel on the upper river, to find
some tranquil backwater past Eynsham, with a canopy of willow and the
scene of flowering meadows; or else to make use of deserted tennis
courts and to enjoy things properly.  Now they were going to break in
upon him: and indeed another idle vacation had left him work enough to
do.  They had not come when he was a fresher and such things were
allowable, and the Berrisfords knew Oxford well.  Presumably they
desired to show Freda the city and its ways.  But why, oh why, in
Eights Week?  It wasn't like the Berrisfords.

They arrived duly and lived in state at the Mitre: they mingled with
the crowds, tramped the colleges, and demanded to have things pointed
out to them.  Mary Brodrick said all the right things.  Martin
shuddered as the phrases came out in turn:

"Can we see the kitchens?" (at Christ Church).

"Where are the Prince's rooms?" (at Magdalen).

"Isn't this the clever college?" (at Balliol).

It was a gloomy ceremony.

There was Freda.  And she ... well, he had to admit that she didn't
harmonise with this world of fine raiment and expensive bean-feasts.
The Freda who glittered in the punt, the Freda clothed sumptuously at
her uncle's expense was undeniably different from the insignificant
wisp of a girl in plain blue coat and skirt who had hurried out of the
office at six and come to Martin for rest and comfort.  To have
explained his feelings accurately would have been an impossible task
for Martin, but he could not put aside a vague sensation that Freda was
wrongly placed in this world, that she was pre-eminently a martyr and a
rebel, not a woman of leisure.

She did not even know what to say.  There is a particular kind of
speech appropriate to these occasions: it is neither flirtation nor
conversation in the proper sense, but a discreet blend, a mixture as
insipid as it is inevitable.  It does not demand brains or wit, but a
certain quality, a training.  Mary Brodrick, with all her limitations,
knew the game; she was jolly and made things go.  Freda hung back or,
when she came forward, made mistakes.  Odd that Martin should have been
angry with Freda for her inability to play a game which he himself
despised.  Yet it did pain him that she didn't "fit in."

As a strange word whose meaning has recently been discovered seems to
the reader to occur on every page he reads, so Freda suddenly revealed
to Martin in a hundred ways her incapacity for "fitting in."  And it
was to the society of countless Brodricks that Martin would have to
take her.

On the Wednesday evening, when the river was rendered invisible by the
press of vessels and fair women, when the supporters of the victorious
college swam across the river and dived from barge and boathouse, when
supper-parties began to disappear up the Cherwell and gramophones to
tinkle in shady recesses, Mary Brodrick caught her train to town, Mr
and Mrs Berrisford went to see the Irish Players, and Martin took Freda
on the river.

To avoid the crowd they were going to the Cherwell above the rollers.
She kept him waiting in the taxi that was to take them to Tims'.

At Tims' she found the punt dirty, said the cushions were filthy, and
would ruin her dress.

"Eights Week," said Martin.  "We've got to be thankful to get any kind
of a punt."

Still she grumbled.  Martin ran into a projecting bush and, before she
knew what had occurred, her hat had been pushed over her eyes, her hair
disarranged, and her face scratched.  She said nothing at all.  Worse
than any expostulation!  It grew cold and a chilly breeze sprang up.

Inevitably they quarrelled.  There was no particular cause for the
outburst.  A long week of strain, of mutual revelation and discovery,
of mingled pleasure and annoyance, was bound to tell.

They had at least the satisfaction of making things clear.

"You only cared for me as a martyr," she ended.

"I didn't, you know I didn't," he protested on the spur of the moment.

But both knew that it was more than half the truth.

Their letters of renunciation crossed.

Chance and John Berrisford had been powerful allies.



X

On a still October afternoon Martin lay where the first slopes of Grey
Knotts go sweeping up to the great mountain mass of The Gables and the
Scawfells.  He looked down upon Seatoller, diminutive below him, and on
the curving beauty of Borrowdale, burnished with late bracken, aflame
with autumnal trees.  Behind him he knew, he felt, were the mountains
that he loved, stretching crag upon crag to the desolate screes of Wast
Water and the glimpse of the shimmering sea.  Borrowdale ... there
flashed suddenly upon his mind the verse of the Elfreyan poet and he
quoted it now to the winds and rocks and a curious stone-finch:

  "'The flaming bracken fires the breast
        Of bosky Borrowdale,
  Down swoops the sun in a riot of red
  Behind Scawfell to a watery bed,
  And the moon hath clomb o'er Skiddaw's head,
        So perfect and so pale."


With that pathetic verse came other memories, flowing torrentially
through the opened flood-gates of his mind.  For five years he had
forgotten Elfrey and Berney's and all his schoolday toils and triumphs.
Only one week-end had he spent there and that in his 'fresher' year.
He had forgotten because Oxford had been so generous and had given him
so much to think and feel and say.  But now his recollections seemed
strangely vivid despite their long storage in the lumber-room of his
mind.  Foskett had made another step on the pathway of prosperity, but
Berney was still at work: Vickers had moved to higher things, but Barmy
Walters lingered on, for he had reached the dotage in which years add
nothing to decay.  The same old jokes would be played, the crashing of
the instrument-boxes, the passing of fruit-bags and biscuit tins, and
the pollution of his water with ink.  And somehow, against the
promptings of conscience, Martin felt that it was right for these
things to go on.  Poor Barmy!  But with his uncle he believed in
Institutions.

Then the amazing disappearance of people broke in upon his mind.
Spots, for instance.  His career had flickered out at Cambridge, where
they had despised his athletics.  Drink, perhaps.  Cullen and Neave,
surely they must be in the motor trade.  Gregson had vanished utterly.
Everything demanded that he should be writing for the Rationalist
Press, but where was he?  Anstey was at the Bar, Rayner a subaltern in
India.  'Granny' had recently been head of Berney's, Granny whom Martin
had loathed and swiped.  It seemed unreal and impossible.  But now, as
he looked back over that gap of five years, he realised that Elfrey
with all its troubles and its narrowness had been kind.  The avenging
of Gideon and the night of pitchers, the bowling of "googlies," the
friendship of Finney ... astonishing that things so good should have
slipped away.  Lazily chewing the long sweet stems of grass, he
refought a hundred skirmishes.

More recent memories came floating down upon the stream.  Galer and his
'deemagogues,' the Push, Chard and his career: very soon he would be
paying a long farewell to all this world of evanescence.  For such a
world it was, good but transitory.  It was not real as life's work
would be real.  True that Chard had taken his Union career as seriously
as death itself, true that the Push had been serious about their
discussions, those night-long tussles about God and Woman and the
Universe: and anything taken seriously has value of a kind.  But had
their value been greater than that of an amusing prologue or a
curtain-raiser which it would have been unfortunate to miss?  It was
good that these things should have been: it was not good that they
should be for ever.

And Freda?  World of evanescence again!  She had passed so utterly away
that Martin could scarcely believe in the events and emotions of the
winter.  He had no regrets, and he believed that she had none: of late
his plans and prospects had moved at such a pace that wounds could not
linger and were easily forgotten.  They had rendered each other mutual
service and mutual relief.  Once he had thought that he loved, but now
he knew of his mistake: Freda had spoken the obvious truth when she
said: "You aren't really in love with me, you're in love with love."
He had wanted sympathy and in his quest had idealised the first woman
who gave it him.  Only a fortnight ago his uncle had said: "Remember
you're still only twenty-three.  You haven't found out everything about
life--or love."  He had said it kindly and he had been right.

Now indeed he had fiercely reacted against his search for sympathy.
Surely a man should be able to face his work and go through with it,
even if it was agony to do so, without running to a woman's arms for
comfort.  He was ashamed of his cowardice of the winter.  Upon the
hillside with the exhilaration of autumn in his blood it seemed so easy
to face things and be resolute.  This love!  It was like religion, just
Funk.  Then he paused, angry with himself.  He was erring as much on
the one side as he had lately erred on the other.  He could understand
passionate desire: he could understand sentimentality, for he had not
forgotten Lawrence's defence of The Little Grey Home.  But this
Love--of which one heard and read--what was it?  Perhaps some day...
He surrendered to his visions ... and he would come back with her to a
good house in Devon, very square and grey, with smooth lawns and
paddocks and covert-clad hills behind.  There would he become an
initiate in the avuncular mystery of Ham and Eggs.  That religion at
least he had it in him to respect.

Rendell and Lawrence were coming up the hill; they had been together
for a week at Seatoller, renewing last year's successful holiday, and
to-morrow they were to separate.  It was the last reunion, for Martin
was to sail next month.  The other two had stayed in after lunch to
answer letters: Martin was to await them on the hill and then they
would walk.

As he watched them plodding up to him his mind wandered to the future.
When they reached him they were out of breath and demanded a moment's
rest before they moved on.  They lay in silence, basking in the strong
October sun.

"I've been thinking," exclaimed Martin suddenly.

"Good," said Rendell.  "Let's have it."

"It's about this India business.  I think I'm glad on the whole."

"Well, I've had a year of the city," muttered Lawrence, "and I don't
recommend it."

"After all, it's doing something," Martin went on.  "Good or bad, it's
action, administration, government of a sort.  If I stayed in London, I
would find it jolly hard to work: I'd probably do as the rest, just
loaf."

"Thank you," said Rendell.

"I wasn't alluding to you.  You haven't the talent for loafing, and I
think I have, in a mild kind of way.  It won't be bad for me to desert
the world of conversations and ideas."

The other two remained silent, gazing at the wonderful valley below.
Martin wished they would speak.  He did not know whether he really
believed in what he was saying or whether he was trying to believe in
it because there was comfort in such faith.  If only one of them would
confirm his opinions!

"Don't you ever feel that it's all petty and limited?" Martin
continued.  "Living in London, I mean, and never seeing the world and
how it's run and the different tastes of men and the tendencies and
forces?  I want to get into the middle of it and, if I've got to do
Government work, then I don't mind doing that.  It isn't merely
negative, like most of a barrister's work."

Eternal honesty and reliability of man with man!  A woman would have
caught his anxious tones and given him sympathy and confirmation at the
expense of belying her convictions.  Rendell merely said what he felt
and later Martin was glad of it.

"If that is the case," Rendell answered quietly, "you're plainly the
man for the job.  It isn't often that the Empire gets an intelligent
person who cares about his work."

"I believe I'll like it when I'm there," Martin added.  "Of course I
know there will be gaps and times of despair.  But I feel that I have
had my seven fat years and it's up to me to face seven lean ones.  Then
fatness ought to come again."

"Which, being interpreted," said Lawrence, "means seven years or so in
the wilderness and then better jobs and a big screw and no end of a
career."

"I won't be as detailed as that.  But as I've got to eat the pie I
shall dig about for the plums.  What do you think, Rendell, K.C., M.P.?"

"I agree."

"And you, Lord Mayor?"

"I have every intention of making at least five thousand a year.  My
god, yes.  If I go into that city I'll damned well fetch something out."

"Anyhow," said Martin after a pause, "we have had years of plenty.  It
was all good, the Push and digs and everything."

Rendell agreed.  "It couldn't have been managed much better," he said.
"We had some capital times."

Lawrence yawned vastly.  "You emotional lads," he said, "will soon be
calling the Old School Ithaca and talking about 'stern nurses of men'
and 'dreaming spires.'  I can't allow it.  Let's walk."

They rose and went up silently into the hills like men who understand
about walking.



THE END



THE RIVERSIDE PRESS LIMITED, EDINBURGH



SINISTER

STREET


_By Compton Mackenzie_


_In Two Volumes.  Crown 8vo Containing_

_in all 1152 pages.  Price Six Shillings each_



CONTENTS OF VOLUME ONE


_Book One: The Prison House_

     I.  THE NEW WORLD
    II.  BITTERSWEET
   III.  FEARS AND FANTASIES
    IV.  UNENDING CHILDHOOD
     V.  THE FIRST FAIRY PRINCESS
    VI.  THE ENCHANTED PALACE
   VII.  RANDELL HOUSE
  VIII.  SIAMESE STAMPS
    IX.  HOLIDAYS IN FRANCE


_Book Two: Classic Education_

     I.  THE JACOBEAN
    II.  THE QUADRUPLE INTRIGUE
   III.  PASTORAL
    IV.  BOYHOOD'S GLORY
     V.  INCENSE
    VI.  PAX
   VII.  CLOVEN HOOFMARKS
  VIII.  MIRRORS
    IX.  THE YELLOW AGE
     X.  STELLA
    XI.  ACTION AND REACTION
   XII.  ALAN
  XIII.  SENTIMENT
   XIV.  ARABESQUE
    XV.  GREY EYES
   XVI.  BLUE EYES
  XVII.  LILY
 XVIII.  EIGHTEEN YEARS AGO
   XIX.  PARENTS
    XX.  MUSIC

512 pages



CONTENTS OF VOLUME TWO


_Book Three: Dreaming Spires_

     I.  THE FIRST DAY
    II.  THE FIRST WEEK
   III.  THE FIRST TERM
    IV.  CHEYNE WALK
     V.  YOUTH'S DOMINATION
    VI.  GREY AND BLUE
   VII.  VENNER'S
  VIII.  THE OXFORD LOOKING-GLASS
    IX.  THE LESSON OF SPAIN
     X.  STELLA IN OXFORD
    XI.  SYMPATHY
   XII.  202 HIGH
  XIII.  PLASHERS MEAD
   XIV.  99 ST. GILES
    XV.  THE LAST TERM
   XVI.  THE LAST WEEK
  XVII.  THE LAST DAY


_Book Four: Romantic Education_

     I.  OSTIA DITIS
    II.  NEPTUNE CRESCENT
   III.  THE CAFÉ D'ORANGE
    IV.  LEPPARD STREET
     V.  THE INNERMOST CIRCLE
    VI.  TINDERBOX LANE
   VII.  THE GATE OF IVORY
  VIII.  SEEDS OF POMEGRANATE
    IX.  THE GATE OF HORN
     X.  THE OLD WORLD

640 pages



Books by the Same Author

THE PASSIONATE ELOPEMENT

CARNIVAL

GUY AND PAULINE (_in preparation_)

KENSINGTON RHYMES


_NOTE_

  _Mr. Campion Mackenzie's Books are
  published by Martin Secker: Number
  Five John Street: Adelphi: London_



MARTIN SECKER'S

COMPLETE CATALOGUE OF

BOOKS PUBLISHED BY HIM AT

NUMBER FIVE JOHN STREET

ADELPHI LONDON

AUTUMN

MCMXIV



_The Books in this list should be obtainable from all Booksellers and
Libraries, and if any difficulty is experienced the Publisher will be
glad to be informed of the fact.  He will also be glad if those
interested in receiving from time to time Announcement Lists,
Prospectuses, &c., of new and forthcoming books from Number Five John
Street, will send their names and addresses to him for this purpose.
Any book in this list may be obtained on approval through the
booksellers, or direct from the Publisher, on remitting him the
published price, plus the postage._


  _Telephone City_ 4779
  _Telegraphic Address:_
  _Psophidian London_



_Martin Secker's Catalogue of Books Published at Number Five John
Street Adelphi_



PART I

INDEX OF AUTHORS


ABERCROMBIE, LASCELLES

  SPECULATIVE DIALOGUES.  Wide Crown 8vo.  5s. net.
  THOMAS HARDY: A CRITICAL STUDY.  Demy 8vo. 7s. 6d. net.
  THE EPIC (The Art and Craft of Letters).  F'cap 8vo. 1s. net.

AFLALO, F. G.

  BEHIND THE RANGES.  Wide Demy 8vo. 10s. 6d. net.
  REGILDING THE CRESCENT.  Demy 8vo. 10s. 6d. net.
  BIRDS IN THE CALENDAR.  Crown 8vo. 3s. 6d. net.

ALLSHORN, LIONEL

  STUPOR MUNDI.  Medium Octavo.  16s. net.

APPERSON, G. L.

  THE SOCIAL HISTORY OF SMOKING.  Post 8vo. 6s. net.

ARMSTRONG, DONALD

  THE MARRIAGE OF QUIXOTE.  Crown 8vo. 6s.

BARRINGTON, MICHAEL

  GRAHAME OF CLAVERHOUSE.  Imperial 8vo.  30s. net.
    Edition de Luxe 63s. net.

BENNETT, ARNOLD

  THOSE UNITED STATES.  Post 8vo.  5s. net.

BLACK, CLEMENTINA

  THE LINLEYS OF BATH.  Medium 8vo.  16s. net.
  THE CUMBERLAND LETTERS.  Medium 8vo.  16s. net.

BOULGER, D. C.

  THE BATTLE OF THE BOYNE.  Med.  8vo.  21s. net.
  THE IRISH EXILES AT ST. GERMAINS.  Med.  8vo.  21s. net.

BOTTOME, PHYLLIS

  THE COMMON CHORD.  Crown  8vo.  6s.

BURROW, C. KENNETT

  CARMINA VARIA.  F'cap 8vo.  2s. 6d. net.

CALDERON, GEORGE (With St. John Hankin)

  THOMPSON: A Comedy.  Sq. Cr.  8vo.  2s. net.

CANNAN, GILBERT

  ROUND THE CORNER.  Crown 8vo.  6s.
  OLD MOLE.  Crown 8vo.  6s.
  SAMUEL BUTLER: A CRITICAL STUDY.  Demy 8vo. 7s. 6d. net.
  SATIRE (The Art and Craft of Letters).  F'cap 8vo. 1s. net.

CHESTERTON, G. K.

  MAGIC: A Fantastic Comedy.  Sq. Cr.  8vo.  2s. net.

CLAYTON, JOSEPH

  THE UNDERMAN.  Crown 8vo.  6s.
  LEADERS OF THE PEOPLE.  Demy 8vo.  12s. 6d. net.
  ROBERT KETT AND THE NORFOLK RISING.  Demy 8vo.  8s. 6d. net.

COKE, DESMOND

  THE ART OF SILHOUETTE.  Demy 8vo.  10s. 6d. net.

CRAVEN, A. SCOTT

  THE FOOL'S TRAGEDY.  F'cap 8vo.  6s.

DE SELINCOURT, BASIL

  WALT WHITMAN: A CRITICAL STUDY.  Demy 8vo.  7s. 6d. net.

DRINKWATER, JOHN

  WILLIAM MORRIS: A CRITICAL STUDY.  Demy 8vo. 7s.  6d. net.
  D. G. ROSSETTI: A CRITICAL STUDY.  Demy 8vo. 7s.  6d. net.
  THE LYRIC (The Art and Craft of Letters).  F'cap 8vo.  1s. net.

DOUGLAS, NORMAN

  FOUNTAINS IN THE SAND.  Wide Demy 8vo.  7s. 6d. net.
  OLD CALABRIA.  Demy 8vo.  10s. 6d. net.

DOUGLAS, THEO

  WHITE WEBS.  Crown 8vo.  6s.

FEA, ALLAN

  OLD ENGLISH HOUSES.  Demy 8vo.  10s. 6d. net.
  NOOKS AND CORNERS OF OLD ENGLAND.  Small Crown 8vo.  5s. net.
  THE REAL CAPTAIN CLEVELAND.  Demy 8vo.  8s. 6d. net.

FRANCIS, RENE

  EGYPTIAN ÆSTHETICS.  Wide Demy 8vo.  7s. 6d. net.

FREEMAN, A. M.

  THOMAS LOVE PEACOCK: A CRITICAL STUDY.  Demy 8vo.  7s. 6d. net.

GRETTON, R. H.

  HISTORY (The Art and Craft of Letters).  F'cap  8vo. 1s. net.

HANKIN, ST. JOHN

  THE DRAMATIC WORKS, with an Introduction by
      John Drinkwater.  Small 4to.  Definitive Limited
      Edition in Three Volumes.  25s. net.
  THE RETURN OF THE PRODIGAL.  Sq. Cr.  8vo.  2s. net.
  THE CASSILIS ENGAGEMENT.  Sq. Cr.  8vo.  2s. net.
  THE CHARITY THAT BEGAN AT HOME.  Sq. Cr. 8vo.  2s. net.
  THE CONSTANT LOVER, ETC.  Sq. Cr.  8vo.  2s. net.

HAUPTMANN, GERHART

  THE COMPLETE DRAMATIC WORKS.  6 vols.  Crown  8vo.  8s. net per volume.

HEWLETT, WILLIAM

  TELLING THE TRUTH.  Crown 8vo.  6s.
  UNCLE'S ADVICE: A NOVEL IN LETTERS.  Cr.  8vo.  6s.

HORSNELL, HORACE

  THE BANKRUPT.  Crown 8vo.  6s.

HOWE, P.P.

  THE REPERTORY THEATRE.  Cr.  8vo.  2s. 6d. net.
  DRAMATIC PORTRAITS.  Crown  8vo.  5s. net.
  BERNARD SHAW: A CRITICAL STUDY.  Demy 8vo.  7s. 6d. net.
  J. M. SYNGE: A CRITICAL STUDY.  Demy 8vo.  7s. 6d. net.
  CRITICISM (The Art and Craft of Letters).  F'cap  8vo.  1s. net.

HUEFFER, FORD MADOX

  HENRY JAMES: A CRITICAL STUDY.  Demy 8vo.  8s. 6d. net.

IBSEN, HENRIK

  PEER GYNT.  A New Translation by R. Ellis Roberts.
      Wide Crown  8vo.  5s. net.

JACOB, HAROLD

  PERFUMES OF ARABY.  Wide Demy   8vo.  7s. 6d. net.

LAMONT, L. M.

  A CORONAL: AN ANTHOLOGY.  F'cap  8vo.  2s. 6d. net.
  THOMAS ARMSTRONG, C.B.: A MEMOIR.  Demy  8vo.  10s. 6d. net.

LLUELLYN, RICHARD

  THE IMPERFECT BRANCH.  Crown  8vo.  6s.

LOW, IVY

  THE QUESTING BEAST.  Crown  8vo.  6s.

MACHEN, ARTHUR

  HIEROGLYPHICS: A NOTE UPON ECSTASY IN LITERATURE.
      F'cap  8vo.  2s. 6d. net.

MACKENZIE, COMPTON

  CARNIVAL.  Crown  8vo.  6s. and 1s. net.
  SINISTER STREET.  I.  Crown  8vo.  6s.
  SINISTER STREET.  II.  Crown  8vo.  6s.
  THE PASSIONATE ELOPEMENT.  Crown 8vo.  6s. and 2s. net.
  POEMS.  Crown  8vo.  5s. net.
  KENSINGTON RHYMES.  Crown 4to.  5s. net.

MAKOWER, S. V.

  THE OUTWARD APPEARANCE.  Crown  8vo.  6s.

MAVROGORDATO, JOHN

  LETTERS FROM GREECE.  F'cap  8vo.  2s. net.

MELVILLE, LEWIS

  SOME ECCENTRICS AND A WOMAN.  Demy 8vo.  10s. 6d. net.

METHLEY, VIOLET

  CAMILLE DESMOULINS: A Biography.  Demy 8vo.  15s. net.

MEYNELL, VIOLA

  LOT BARROW.  Crown 8vo.  6s.
  MODERN LOVERS.  Crown 8vo.  6s.

NIVEN, FREDERICK

  A WILDERNESS OF MONKEYS.  Crown 8vo.  6s.
  ABOVE YOUR HEADS.  Crown 8vo.  6s.
  DEAD MEN'S BELLS.  Crown 8vo.  6s.
  THE PORCELAIN LADY.  Crown 8vo.  6s.
  HANDS UP!  Crown 8vo.  6s.

NORTH, LAURENCE

  IMPATIENT GRISELDA.  Crown 8vo.  6s.
  THE GOLIGHTLYS: FATHER AND SON.  Cr.  8vo.  6s.

ONIONS, OLIVER

  WIDDERSHINS.  Crown 8vo.  6s.
  IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE EVIDENCE.  Cr.  8vo.  6s.
  THE DEBIT ACCOUNT.  Crown 8vo.  6s.
  THE STORY OF LOUIE.  Crown 8vo.  6s.

PAIN, BARRY

  ONE KIND AND ANOTHER.  Crown 8vo.  6s.
  THE SHORT STORY (The Art and Craft of Letters).  F'cap 8vo.  1s. net.

PALMER, JOHN

  COMEDY (The Art and Craft of Letters).  F'cap 8vo.  1s. net.

PERUGINI, MARK

  THE ART OF BALLET.  Demy 8vo.  10s. 6d. net.

PRESTON, ANNA

  THE RECORD OF A SILENT LIFE.  Cr.  8vo.  6s.

ROBERTS, R. ELLIS

  HENRIK IBSEN: A CRITICAL STUDY.  Demy 8vo.  7s.  6d. net.
  PEER GYNT: A NEW TRANSLATION.  Wide Crown  8vo.  5s. net.

SAND, MAURICE

  THE HISTORY OF THE HARLEQUINADE.  Two Volumes.  Med. 8vo.  24s. net.

SCOTT-JAMES, R. A.

  PERSONALITY IN LITERATURE.  Demy 8vo.  7s. 6d. net.

SIDGWICK, FRANK

  THE BALLAD (The Art and Craft of Letters).  F'cap 8vo.  1s. net.

STONE, CHRISTOPHER

  THE BURNT HOUSE.  Crown 8vo.  6s.
  PARODY (The Art and Craft of Letters).  F'cap  8vo.  1s. net.

STRAUS, RALPH

  CARRIAGES AND COACHES.  Med.  8vo.  18s. net.

STREET, G. S.

  PEOPLE AND QUESTIONS.  Wide Cr.  8vo.  5s. net.

SWINNERTON, FRANK

  GEORGE GISSING: A CRITICAL STUDY.  Demy 8vo.  7s. 6d. net.
  R. L. STEVENSON: A CRITICAL STUDY.  Demy 8vo.  7s. 6d. net.

TAYLOR, G. R. STIRLING

  MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT: A STUDY IN ECONOMICS AND ROMANCE.
      Demy 8vo.  7s. 6d. net.

TAYLOR, UNA

  MAURICE MAETERLINCK: A CRITICAL STUDY.  Demy 8vo.  7s. 6d. net.

THOMAS, EDWARD

  FEMININE INFLUENCE ON THE POETS.  Demy 8vo.  10s. 6d. net.
  A. C. SWINBURNE: A CRITICAL STUDY.  Demy 8vo.  7s. 6d. net.
  WALTER PATER: A CRITICAL STUDY.  Demy 8vo.  7s. 6d. net.
  THE TENTH MUSE.  F'cap 8vo.  2s. 6d. net.

VAUGHAN, H. M.

  AN AUSTRALASIAN WANDER-YEAR.  Demy 8vo.  10s. 6d. net.

WALPOLE, HUGH

  FORTITUDE.  Crown 8vo.  6s.
  THE DUCHESS OF WREXE.  Crown 8vo.  6s.

WATT, L. M.

  THE HOUSE OF SANDS.  Crown 8vo.  6s.

WILLIAMS, ORLO

  VIE DE BOHÈME.  Demy 8vo.  15s. net.
  GEORGE MEREDITH: A CRITICAL STUDY.  8vo.  7s. 6d. net.
  THE ESSAY (The Art and Craft of Letters).  8vo.  1s. net.

YOUNG, FILSON

  NEW LEAVES.  Wide Crown 8vo.  5s. net.
  A CHRISTMAS CARD.  Demy 16mo.  1s. net.
  PUNCTUATION (_The Art and Craft of Letters_).  F'cap 8vo.  1s. net.


YOUNG, FRANCIS BRETT

  DEEP SEA.  Crown 8vo.  6s.

YOUNG, F. & E. BRETT

  UNDERGROWTH.  Crown 8vo.  6s.
  ROBERT BRIDGES: A CRITICAL STUDY.  Demy 8vo.  7s. 6d. net.

PART II

INDEX OF TITLES


_General Literature_

  ARMSTRONG, THOMAS, C.B.  A Memoir.  Reminiscences
      of Du Maurier and Whistler.  Edited by L. M. Lamont.
  ART OF BALLET, THE.  By Mark Perugini.
  ART OF SILHOUETTE, THE.  By Desmond Coke.
  AUSTRALASIAN WANDER-YEAR, AN.  By H. M. Vaughan.
  BALLAD, THE.  By Frank Sidgwick.
  BATTLE OF THE BOYNE, THE.  By D. C. Boulger.
  BEHIND THE RANGES.  By F. G. Aflalo.
  BIRDS IN THE CALENDAR.  By F. G. Aflalo.
  BRIDGES: A CRITICAL STUDY.  By F. E. Brett Young.
  BUTLER: A CRITICAL STUDY.  By Gilbert Cannan.
  CAMILLE DESMOULINS.  By Violet Methley.
  CARMINA VARIA.  By C. Kennett Burrow.
  CARRIAGES AND COACHES: THEIR HISTORY AND THEIR
      EVOLUTION.  By Ralph Straus.
  CHRISTMAS CARD, A.  By Filson Young.
  COMEDY.  By John Palmer.
  CORONAL, A.  A New Anthology.  By L. M. Lamont.
  CRITICISM.  By P. P. Howe.
  CUMBERLAND LETTERS, THE.  By Clementina Black.
  D'EON DE BEAUMONT.  Translated by Alfred Rieu.
  DRAMATIC PORTRAITS.  By P. P. Howe.
  DRAMATIC WORKS OF GERHART HAUPTMANN.  6 vols.
  DRAMATIC WORKS OF ST. JOHN HANKIN.  Introduction
      by John Drinkwater.  3 vols.
  EGYPTIAN ÆSTHETICS.  By René Francis.
  EPIC, THE.  By Lascelles Abercrombie.
  ESSAY, THE.  By Orlo Williams.
  FEMININE INFLUENCE ON THE POETS.  By Edward Thomas.
  FOUNTAINS IN THE SAND.  By Norman Douglas.
  GISSING: A CRITICAL STUDY.  By Frank Swinnerton.
  GRAHAME OF CLAVERHOUSE.  By Michael Barrington.
  HARDY: A CRITICAL STUDY.  By Lascelles Abercrombie.
  HIEROGLYPHICS.  By Arthur Machen.
  HISTORY.  By R. H. Gretton.
  HISTORY OF THE HARLEQUINADE, THE.  By Maurice Sand.
  IBSEN: A CRITICAL STUDY.  By R. Ellis Roberts.
  IRISH EXILES AT ST. GERMAINS, THE.  By D. C. Boulger.
  JAMES: A CRITICAL STUDY.  By F. M. Hueffer.
  KENSINGTON RHYMES.  By Compton Mackenzie.
  LEADERS OF THE PEOPLE.  By Joseph Clayton.
  LETTERS FROM GREECE.  By John Mavrogordato.
  LINLEYS OF BATH, THE.  By Clementina Black.
  LYRIC, THE.  By John Drinkwater.
  MAETERLINCK: A CRITICAL STUDY.  By Una Taylor.
  MAGIC.  By G. K. Chesterton.
  MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT.  By G. R. Stirling Taylor.
  MEREDITH: A CRITICAL STUDY.  By Orlo Williams.
  MORRIS: A CRITICAL STUDY.  By John Drinkwater.
  NEW LEAVES.  By Filson Young.
  NOOKS AND CORNERS OF OLD ENGLAND.  By Allan Fea.
  OLD CALABRIA.  By Norman Douglas.
  OLD ENGLISH HOUSES.  By Allan Fea.
  PARODY.  By Christopher Stone.
  PATER: A CRITICAL STUDY.  By Edward Thomas.
  PEACOCK: A CRITICAL STUDY.  By A. Martin Freeman.
  PEER GYNT.  Translated by R. Ellis Roberts.
  PEOPLE AND QUESTIONS.  By G. S. Street.
  PERFUMES OF ARABY.  By Harold Jacob.
  PERSONALITY IN LITERATURE.  By R. A. Scott-James.
  POEMS.  By Compton Mackenzie.
  PUNCTUATION.  By Filson Young.
  REAL CAPTAIN CLEVELAND, THE.  By Allan Fea.
  REGILDING THE CRESCENT.  By F. G. Aflalo.
  REPERTORY THEATRE, THE.  By P. P. Howe.
  ROBERT KETT AND THE NORFOLK RISING.  By Joseph Clayton.
  ROSSETTI: A CRITICAL STUDY.  By John Drinkwater.
  SATIRE.  By Gilbert Cannan.
  SHAW: A CRITICAL STUDY.  By P. P. Howe.
  SHORT STORY, THE.  By Barry Pain.
  SOCIAL HISTORY OF SMOKING, THE.  By G. L. Apperson.
  SOME ECCENTRICS AND A WOMAN.  By Lewis Melville.
  SPECULATIVE DIALOGUES.  By Lascelles Abercrombie.
  STEVENSON: A CRITICAL STUDY.  By Frank Swinnerton.
  STUPOR MUNDI.  By Lionel Allshorn.
  SWINBURNE: A CRITICAL STUDY.  By Edward Thomas.
  SYNGE: A CRITICAL STUDY.  By P. P. Howe.
  TENTH MUSE, THE.  By Edward Thomas.
  THOSE UNITED STATES.  By Arnold Bennett.
  THOMPSON.  By St. John Hankin and G. Calderon.
  VIE DE BOHÈME.  By Orlo Williams.
  WHITMAN: A CRITICAL STUDY.  By Basil de Selincourt.


_Fiction_

  ABOVE YOUR HEADS.  By Frederick Niven.
  BANKRUPT, THE.  By Horace Horsnell.
  BURNT HOUSE, THE.  By Christopher Stone.
  CARNIVAL.  By Compton Mackenzie.
  COMMON CHORD, THE.  By Phyllis Bottome.
  DEAD MEN'S BELLS.  By Frederick Niven.
  DEBIT ACCOUNT, THE.  By Oliver Onions.
  DEEP SEA.  By F. Brett Young.
  DUCHESS OF WREXE, THE.  By Hugh Walpole.
  FOOL'S TRAGEDY, THE.  By A. Scott Craven.
  FORTITUDE.  By Hugh Walpole.
  GOLIGHTLYS, THE.  By Laurence North.
  HANDS UP!  By Frederick Niven.
  HOUSE OF SANDS, THE.  By L. M. Watt.
  IMPATIENT GRISELDA.  By Laurence North.
  IMPERFECT BRANCH, THE.  By Richard Lluellyn.
  IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE EVIDENCE.  By Oliver Onions.
  LOT BARROW.  By Viola Meynell.
  MARRIAGE OF QUIXOTE, THE.  By Donald Armstrong.
  MODERN LOVERS.  By Viola Meynell.
  OLD MOLE.  By Gilbert Cannan.
  ONE KIND AND ANOTHER.  By Barry Pain.
  OUTWARD APPEARANCE, THE.  By Stanley V. Makower.
  PASSIONATE ELOPEMENT, THE.  By Compton Mackenzie.
  PORCELAIN LADY, THE.  By Frederick Niven.
  QUESTING BEAST, THE.  By Ivy Low.
  RECORD OF A SILENT LIFE, THE.  By Anna Preston.
  ROUND THE CORNER.  By Gilbert Cannan.
  SINISTER STREET. I.  By Compton Mackenzie.
  SINISTER STREET. II.  By Compton Mackenzie.
  STORY OF LOUIE, THE.  By Oliver Onions.
  TELLING THE TRUTH.  By William Hewlett.
  UNCLE'S ADVICE.  By William Hewlett.
  UNDERGROWTH.  By F. & E. Brett Young.
  UNDERMAN, THE.  By Joseph Clayton.
  WHITE WEBS.  By Theo Douglas.
  WIDDERSHINS.  By Oliver Onions.
  WILDERNESS OF MONKEYS, A.  By Frederick Niven.



MARTIN SECKER'S

COMPLETE CATALOGUE OF

BOOKS PUBLISHED BY HIM AT

NUMBER FIVE JOHN STREET

ADELPHI LONDON

AUTUMN

MCMXIV



BALLANTYNE

PRESS

LONDON





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