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Title: Godfrey Marten, Undergraduate
Author: Turley, Charles, 1868-1940
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Godfrey Marten, Undergraduate" ***

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GODFREY MARTEN

UNDERGRADUATE


BY

CHARLES TURLEY



AUTHOR OF 'GODFREY MARTEN, SCHOOLBOY'



LONDON

WILLIAM HEINEMANN

1904



_All rights reserved_



CONTENTS


CHAP.

     I.  OXFORD
    II.  INTERVIEWS
   III.  THE RESULT OF THE FRESHERS' MATCH
    IV.  UNEXPECTED PEOPLE
     V.  THE WINE
    VI.  JACK WARD AND DENNISON
   VII.  THE INN AT SAMPFORD
  VIII.  LUNCHEON WITH THE WARDEN
    IX.  A SURPRISE
     X.  MY MAIDEN SPEECH
    XI.  A CRICKET MATCH AT BURTINGTON
   XII.  THE USE AND ABUSE OF AN ESSAY
  XIII.  NINA COMES TO OXFORD
   XIV.  GUIDE, HOST AND NURSE
    XV.  MISHAPS
   XVI.  THE SCHEMES OF DENNISON
  XVII.  THE PROFESSOR AND HIS SON
 XVIII.  THE ENERGY OF JACK WARD
   XIX.  THE WARDEN AND THE BRADDER
    XX.  THE HEDONISTS
   XXI.  ONE WORD TOO MANY
  XXII.  A TUTORSHIP
 XXIII.  OUR LAST YEAR



CHAPTER I

OXFORD

The night before I left home for Oxford I had a talk with my father.
He was not of the sentimental kind, but I knew that he had a rare
fondness for my brother, my sister Nina and myself, and I have never
had a moment when I did not return his affection.  He had always been
bothered by my lack of seriousness, and he doubted whether I should
really get the best out of 'Varsity life.  After telling me that the
time had come for me to treat things more seriously, he finished up by
saying: "I am going to give you two hundred pounds a year, which is
more than I can afford, and which, with your exhibition, must be enough
for you.  I have put that amount to your credit in the bank at Oxford,
and I don't expect to hear anything about money from you either during
the term or when you are at home.  You ought to know by this time what
money is worth, and that debt is a thing you must avoid.  Be a man,
Godfrey, and don't forget that the first step towards becoming one is
to behave like a gentleman."

I shook his hand to show that I understood, for he wanted neither
promises nor protestations, and if I had been able to be sentimental he
would have left the room without listening to me.

He didn't say much, but what he did say was beautifully simple, and on
leaving him I felt very solemn and, since I must tell the truth, very
important.  The idea of having a bank account was one which did not
lose its glamour for several days.  There was something about my first
cheque-book which pleased me immensely, for I had not been brought up
in a nest of millionaires, and am glad to confess that until I went to
Oxford the possibilities attached to a five-pound note were almost
without limit.

Fred Foster--who had been staying with me--and I parted at Oxford
railway-station without falling on each other's necks, but although we
did not cause any further obstruction on a platform already far too
crowded, we understood that the friendship which had prospered during
so many years at school was not going to be interrupted because he had
got a scholarship at Oriel while I was an exhibitioner of St.
Cuthbert's.

I began by losing my luggage, which was exactly the way some people
would have expected me to begin, and when I arrived at the college
lodge I must have looked as if I had come to spend a Saturday to Monday
visit.  One miserable bag was all I possessed, and the porter viewed
me, as I thought, with suspicion.  He was a grumpy old person, and when
I told him that I had lost my luggage he grunted, "Gentlemen do,
especially when they're fresh," which I thought very fair cheek on his
part, though I did not feel at that moment like telling him so.

Then having said that my name was Marten, he hunted in a list and told
a man to take my bag to Number VII. staircase in the back quadrangle.
I followed, feeling rather dejected, and I cannot say that the first
sight of my rooms tended to raise my spirits.  They were small and
dismal, the window opened on to a balustrade which, if it prevented me
from falling into the quadrangle, also managed to shut out both light
and air.  The furniture can be described correctly by the word
adequate; there were some chairs and a table, college furniture for
which I was privileged to pay rent.  The chairs looked as if nothing
could ever wear them out or make them look different.  They had been
built to defy time and ill-usage.

I went into my bedroom and was more satisfied, by some strange freak it
was bigger than my sitting-room, and after I had seen other freshers'
bedrooms I acknowledged my good luck.  There was at least room to have
a bath without splashing the bed.  I was still looking disconsolately
about me when my scout came in and treated me with a calm contempt
which immediately raised my spirits.  His air was so obviously that of
the man who knew all about things, and he told me what to do with a
gravity which was intended to be most impressive.  His name was
Clarkson and I stayed on his staircase during the three years I was in
college, though at the end of my first year I moved into larger rooms.
He was in a mild kind of way an endless source of amusement to me,
because every one knew that under his veil of imperturbability was
hidden, not very successfully, a flourishing crop of failings.
Whenever his chief failing overpowered him his gravity increased, until
he became one of the most indescribably comic people I have ever seen.

He told me that chapel was at eight o'clock on the following morning,
and asked me if I should be breakfasting in.  I found out afterwards
that unless I wanted to go to chapel I could go to a roll-call in any
garments which looked respectable, and then go back to bed; but I did
not hear this from Clarkson.  He was far too keen on getting men out of
bed and their rooms put straight to give such very unnecessary
information.  However, he was useful at the beginning, and had he not
told me where to go for dinner I don't suppose I should have troubled
to ask him.

My first dinner in hall was not a pleasant experience.  The senior men
came up a day after us, and most freshers, until they settle down, seem
to spend their time in waiting for somebody else to say something.
That dinner really made me feel most gloomy; things seemed to have been
turned upside down, and in the process I felt as if I had fallen with a
thud to the bottom.  There were two or three freshers from Cliborough
to whom I had scarcely spoken during my last two years at school, and
these fellows all sat together and enjoyed themselves, while I counted
for nothing whatever.

I began to learn the lesson that being in the Cliborough XI. and XV.
was not a free passport to glory.  The man opposite to me looked as if
he had never heard of W. G. Grace, and when I tried to speak to the
fellow on my right about the Australians, he thought that I was talking
about any ordinary Australian, and had no notion that I meant the
cricket team which had been over in the summer.  He was quite nice
about it, I must admit, and when he found out what I was driving at,
said: "I am afraid I don't know much about cricket; I have been over in
Germany the last two or three months, trying to get hold of the
language.  I want to read Schiller and those other people in the
original."

He did not suit me at all, and as I had not the courage to give myself
away by asking the names of the other people our conversation dropped.
I was, in fact, dead off colour, and the sight of those three
Cliborough fellows almost took away my appetite.  Until that moment it
had never occurred to me that I had been in the habit of thinking a lot
of myself at Cliborough, and in self-defence I must add that I do not
see how a public school can prosper unless some of the fellows stick
together and try to make things go on properly.  Any "side" I may have
had was certainly unconscious, but I haven't an idea whether that is
the worst or the best kind.  I know that I should have felt like having
a fit if any one had told me that I was conceited, and apart from that
I don't know anything about it, except, as I have said, that I was
angry that these fellows did not seem to remember that I had been at
Cliborough.  I told myself that they had lost their sense of
proportion, which was a phrase my father used about any one who argued
with him; and I also said vehemently that they were worms; but unless
you are quite sure of it, and can get some one to agree with you, there
is not much satisfaction to be got from calling people worms.

I went out of the hall and found a tall, dark fellow bowling pebbles
aimlessly about the quadrangle.  I bowled a pebble, and hitting him on
the back, had to apologize.  It is rather odd, now I come to think
about it, that the first words I ever said to Jack Ward were in the
nature of an apology.  We strolled out of the quadrangle into the
lodge, and after he had looked at me he asked me to come up to his
rooms and have some coffee.  I was not at all sure that I wanted to go,
but I went.  He shouted to his scout at the top of a very powerful
voice, and I felt that he was much more at home than I was.  I
determined, moreover, to shout at my scout upon the earliest possible
opportunity.

"I had a brother up here," he said as soon as we were sitting by the
fire, "and he gave me some tips.  One of them was to shout at your
scout for at least a week to show that you are not an infant, another
was not to row, and the last was not to play cards all day and night.
My brother's an odd kind of chap, the sort of man who doesn't know the
ace of spades by sight, but it's as easy to shout as it is not to row.
Your name's Marten, isn't it?"

"Yes," I replied; "how did you know that?"

"I scored when you came over last term to play for Cliborough against
Wellingham.  I was twelfth man to the XI., though you needn't believe
it if you don't want to.  It's wonderful what a crop of twelfth men
there are kicking around; you may just as well say you are a liar smack
out, as tell any one you are a twelfth man."

I told him that I believed him.

"That's only your politeness," he went on; "in a week you will be
talking about me as 'that man Ward who says he was twelfth man at
Wellingham.'"

I sat in his rooms and listened to him talking until eleven o'clock;
for almost the first time in my life I had nothing to say, and that
must have been the reason why I felt amused and uncomfortable at the
same time.  He seemed to know all sorts of people, and he spoke of them
by their Christian names, which impressed me, and he referred to London
as a place well enough to stay in for a time, but a terrible bore when
one got accustomed to it.  Now I had only been to London three times,
and one of those could hardly be said to count since it was to see a
dentist.  As I went back to my rooms, I thought that my education had
been neglected in many ways, and that Ward had been having a much
better time than I had.  But I soon changed my mind and decided that he
was the kind of fellow whom I should have thought a slacker at
Cliborough, and I cannot put up with a man, who when he is doing one
thing always wants to be doing another.

When I got back to my rooms I found a letter from my uncle.  He was a
bishop, and there had been trouble between us when I was a small boy at
Cliborough; he had made jokes about me which I did not bear in silence.
But he had spent a month of the summer holidays with us, and had told
my mother that I had greatly improved; I thought the same thing about
him, so we got on together very well.  I may as well say at once that I
had laid siege to the bishop.  Instead of waiting for him to go for me
I went for him, and my mother said that I had discovered the boy in the
bishop.  If he was idle I employed him, and on his last day with us I
finished off by making one hundred and thirty-six against him at stump
cricket.  When he went away I had changed my opinion of him, but my
father was annoyed that he could behave like a boy when it was time for
me to forget that I was one.  "You are as silly as the bishop," became
one of my father's favourite remarks, until my mother asked him to
think of something which was not quite so rude.

The bishop had really been splendid while he was staying with us,
because Nina, having arrived at the age of eighteen, was very difficult
to please.  Some man in my brother's regiment had been down and said
that her pug was an angel, and I being unable to reach such heights as
that was compared to my disadvantage with this man.  I am nearly sure,
too, that she wanted to flirt with Fred, quite regardless of the fact
that he was no use at flirting, and I should have had something to say
if he had been.  In a short year she had changed most dreadfully, and
was no longer satisfied with being liked very much.  She was a puzzle
to me, and had it not been for the bishop, who smoothed things over, I
should probably have worried her far more than I did.

His letter did not contain one word of cant; he just wished me good
luck, and told me to write to him whenever I felt that he could be of
use to me.  A less sensible man might have preached to me and talked
about the "threshold of a career"; but, thank goodness, he knew what I
wanted, and that if I had not made up my mind to let Oxford do
something for me, I was hopeless from the start.



CHAPTER II

INTERVIEWS

I soon found out that Jack Ward was of a most friendly disposition, for
he came over to my rooms before ten o'clock the following morning and
bounced in with an air of having known me all my life.  At the moment I
was talking to a man called Murray, whose acquaintance I had made an
hour before.  My introduction to Murray could hardly be called formal;
he lived in the next rooms to me and at precisely the same time each of
us had poked our heads into the passage and shouted for our scout.  We
then looked at each other and laughed, and the deed was done.  I wish
that I could have made all my friends at Oxford as easily; it would
have saved so much time.

Murray was going as Ward came in, and they nodded and said
"Good-morning" in the way men do when they don't altogether love one
another.

"You seem to know everybody," I said, without much reason, as soon as
Murray had disappeared.

"I can't well help knowing that fellow, considering that he was at
Wellingham with me for five years."

"He didn't tell me he was at Wellingham."

"He would have in another minute, and that he was captain of the school
and the footer fifteen, and what he was fed on as a baby and how many
muscles he had got in his big toe," Ward jerked out as he pulled
furiously at his pipe, which he had already tried to light two or three
times.

"I thought he seemed a nice sort of man," I said.

"I expect you think everybody you see nice sort of men," he replied
rather queerly, though he laughed as he spoke.

"I hope so; it is a jolly comfortable state to be in," I answered.

"But a very dangerous one.  You must get awfully left."

I picked up _Wisden's Cricket Almanack_, which had been one of the
things in my bag, and began to read it, for I had taken a fancy to
Murray and did not see much use in listening to what I felt Ward wanted
to say about him.

"You will probably be friends with Murray for about a month, and then
it will end with a snap," he said.

"I can promise you that if I am friends with him for a month it won't
end with a snap, even if his toes simply bulge with muscles," I replied.

"If anybody warned you against a man you would take no notice."

"It depends who warned me, and whom I was warned against.  And since it
is no use pretending things," I added, "I don't see much wrong in a
fellow because he happens to remember something about baby's food."

"He might be a bore."

"So may anybody," I answered, for Ward's persistence was beginning to
annoy me.  He got up from his chair with a great laugh, and put his
hands on my shoulders.

"We mustn't begin by having a row with each other," he said.

I stood up so that I could get rid of his hands, and felt inclined to
say that I did not want to begin at all, but I stopped myself.  There
was something in the man that attracted me.  I may be peculiar, but I
like people who shake the furniture when they laugh, having suffered
much from a master at Cliborough who never let himself go farther than
a giggle.

"I suppose we must go and see these blessed dons.  They want to see us
at half-past ten, don't they?" he said.

I looked at my watch and found that it was nearly eleven o'clock, so we
bolted down-stairs and across the quadrangle as hard as we could.  It
was a very bad start but I had completely forgotten that we had to go
to the hall at half-past ten, and Ward gave me no comfort by saying
that he did not suppose it mattered when we went as long as we turned
up some time.  Dons would have to be very different from masters if
that was the case, and as I imagined that they would be of much the
same breed only glorified, I had no wish to begin by making them angry.

There were thirty or forty freshers in the hall when we got there, and
a few dons sitting at the high table at the end of it.  Murray and two
or three other men were up talking to them when I arrived, and I
guessed that they were taking the scholars and exhibitioners
alphabetically, and that I was too late for my turn; though Ward, who
was a commoner and fortunate enough to begin with a W, was probably in
heaps of time.

When Murray came down he told me that they had called out my name
several times, which made me, quite unreasonably, feel angry with Ward,
but presently they shouted for me again and I went up.

Though I felt rather agitated as I walked up the hall and saw these
gowned people waiting for me, the idea flitted across my mind that they
looked most extremely like a row of rooks sitting on a long stick.  My
prevailing impression as I approached them was one of beak, they seemed
to me like a lot of benevolent and expectant birds.  As a matter of
fact this impression was false, and I got it because I was looking at
the Warden--as the Head of St. Cuthbert's was called--and not at the
group of dons on each side of him.

The Warden was a little man whose head had apparently sunk down into
his neck and got a tilt forward in the process.  His eyes were grey and
shrewd, the sort of eyes which one watches to see the signs of the
times; his nose, being that of the Warden, I will only call prominent,
and he had a habit of passing his hand over his mouth and chin, which
was merely a habit, but suggested to me at first sight that he was
pleased with his morning shave.  He was nearly sixty years old, and
when he wanted to be nice his efforts were not intelligible to
everybody, but there was no mistaking him when he really wished to be
nasty.  However, he was one of those men who are spoken of at Oxford as
having European reputations, and possibly the burden of an European
reputation gives the owner of it a right to behave differently from
ordinary people who have no reputation at all, or if they have one
would prefer that it should be forgotten.

The Warden held out a hand to me and almost winced at my manner of
grasping it.  My father always said that he knew a man by his
hand-shake, but I ought to have been wise enough to spare the Warden.

"I was in doubt whether or no we were to have the privilege of seeing
you this morning.  Perhaps the fatigues of a long journey by rail
caused you to remain in your bedroom for a longer time than is usual,
or indeed beneficial."

I was on the point of saying that I had been up at eight o'clock, when
it occurred to me that an apology would be shorter than an explanation,
so I mumbled that I was very sorry for being late.  My chief desire was
to get away from an atmosphere which I found overpowering.

I had to listen to some more remarks from the Warden, all of which were
spun out in his extraordinary way, and at last I was introduced to my
tutor, Mr. Gilbert Edwardes, who took me on one side and set to work
telling me what lectures I was to attend.  I think he meant to be
friendly but he had a dreadfully stiff manner, and I am sure that he
found it very difficult to unbend.  He reminded me most strongly of a
shirt with too much starch in it, or whatever it is that makes shirts
as stiff as boards.

Later on in the day I went to see him in his rooms in college and he
gave me a little advice and exhorted me to work.  It was all a
cut-and-dried sort of affair which did not appeal to any feelings I
had, but since he was my tutor I thought I had better tell him
something about myself.

He was even smaller than the Warden and quite the most prim-looking man
I have ever beheld.  His face was colourless and smooth, and as I sat
opposite him in his gloomy room he looked so tidy and sure of himself
that I found a great difficulty in speaking to him.  Having said the
usual things he was very obviously expecting me to go, but I did not
want him to begin by thinking that I was a saint, though why I imagined
that he was in any danger of thinking so I cannot explain.  He had,
however, said so much about work and the great care I must take in
avoiding men who distracted me from my duty, that I thought I had
better tell him that I was a very human being.

I never remember having twiddled my thumbs before but I caught myself
doing it in his room.  He was so placid and demure that I could not
imagine that he had ever done a foolish thing in his life.  It was
impossible for me to think that he had ever been young, and I wanted
him to know that I was both young and foolish.  He must have known the
one and I expect he guessed the other, but at any rate my intention was
to begin fair.  Then whatever happened he would not be able to say that
I had not warned him.

But he made me so nervous that I did not get the right words, and I
made him look more like a poker then ever.  "Thanks, most awfully," I
began, and it was a bad beginning, "for all your advice.  But I want to
tell you that I do the most stupid things without meaning to do them.
I mean that they only strike me as being stupid after I have done them."

Mr. Edwardes made noises in his throat which sounded like a succession
of "Ahems," and I floundered on: "I am afraid it is very hard for me
not to like amusing myself as much as possible, but of course I will
try to work and all that sort of thing as well."  He stood up when I
got as far as that and smiled at me, but I cannot say that he seemed to
be pleased.  "I thought I had better tell you, so that you would know,"
I added before I left him, and I went away with the hopeless feeling
that I had made a complete idiot of myself.  I hated Mr. Edwardes as I
went back across the quadrangle, for I felt that I had tried to take
him into my confidence and that he had responded by getting rid of me.

When I reached my rooms my luggage had arrived and I let off steam--so
to speak--by having a dispute with the man who had brought it.  I did
not get the best of that dispute, but I did make an effort to practise
the economy which my people had advised, and Clarkson saw me in a rage,
which must have been very good for him.  For a solid hour I unpacked
things which I had thought beautiful in my study at Cliborough and put
them about my room, but somehow or other most of them did not seem as
beautiful as I had thought them, and there was a picture--I had won it
in a shilling raffle, and been very proud of it--which filled me with
sorrow.  It had been painted by the sister of a fellow at Cliborough,
and when he was frightfully hard-up he arranged a raffle, and everybody
said I was jolly lucky to win it.  I was even bid fifteen shillings for
the picture by the original owner, but as I suspected that he wanted to
get up another raffle I refused the offer.  When I saw the thing
hanging on my wall I wished that I had not been such a fool.  Having
got the thing I did not like to waste it, but if some one would have
come in and stuck a knife into it I should have been very pleased.  The
name of this burden was "A Last Night at Sea," and the subjects
represented were a small boat and two or three people huddled together
at one end of it, while in the middle of the boat a woman with long
streaming hair was stretching out her arms towards a terrific wave.  If
I had not remembered the name it might not have been so bad, but under
the circumstances no one could say that it was a cheerful thing to live
with.  I suppose the satisfaction of having it in my study at
Cliborough had been enough, for I did not recollect having looked at it
before, and when a lot of fellows are swarming around saying what a
lucky chap you are to have won a thing, it is not very likely to give
you the blues then, whatever it may have in store for you afterwards.
I turned "A Last Night at Sea" with its face to the wall and went on
decorating my room.  Photographs of my father and mother which I put on
my mantelpiece made me feel rather better, but Nina resplendent in a
green plush frame made me think again.  I had been very proud of that
frame some years before when Nina had given it to me; she had sold two
rabbits and borrowed sixpence from Miss Read, her governess, to buy it,
and it had never occurred to me that I could grow out of my admiration
for green plush.  The question of what to do with it puzzled me
tremendously; I didn't want to treat Nina badly but the frame was an
abomination.  Fortunately there was a ring attached to the frame and I
hung it up in a dark corner, but I promised myself that it should come
out the following morning.

I had just sat down to survey my labours when Murray came in and
proposed we should go for a walk in the town, and as I was perfectly
sick of my room I was quite ready to go.  Although the time was barely
four o'clock and the sun doesn't set for another hour in the middle of
October, it was half dark and drizzling with rain as we walked down
Turl Street and came into The High.  But I had got rid of my gloom and
was eager to spend money.  I did not quite know what I wanted but that
was not of much consequence.  We went into a shop which seemed to be
exactly the place for any one who wished to buy things, and did not
care much what he bought.  Before I came out of it I had bought two
chairs, a standard lamp, a small book-case, an enormous bowl--which got
in my way for two years until somebody smashed it--a tea-set, a small
table and half-a-dozen china shepherdesses.  I then went to other shops
and made more purchases, while Murray looked on and smiled until I was
waylaid by an accommodating man in the Cornmarket, who wanted to sell
me a fox-terrier pup, and was ready to keep it for me if I had no place
for it; and then I was told not to be a fool.  That man's opinion of
Murray is not worth mentioning.

When we got back to college it was past five o'clock, and between us we
managed to find everything that was necessary for tea.  I had a fire in
my room, but Murray had not one in his; he had tea-cups, but I had
none; while I had things to eat, which our cook at home had declared
would be useful and I had most reluctantly brought with me.  We were in
the middle of this very substantial meal when Fred Foster came in, and
from his glance round my room I saw that he thought it was a fairly
dismal spot.

"Rather like an up-stairs dungeon," I said.  "Have you got a better
place than this?"

"It is bigger and not so stuffy," he answered; "but it won't make you
very jealous."

"You wait until I have got all the things I have just bought, and then
you will think this no end of a place," I remarked.

"If any one can get inside," Murray put in.

"It will be rather a squash," I admitted; "I've spent over twelve
pounds already."

"That's just the sort of thing you would do," Foster said.

We sat and talked for an hour until Ward burst in, knocking and opening
the door at the same moment.

Murray and Foster had been getting on splendidly together, but directly
Ward came they hardly said a word.  Possibly they did not get much
chance, but any one could see that Foster had taken a dislike to Ward
at sight.

Murray went away very soon and left the three of us together.

"I've been over to Woodstock in a dog-cart with Bunny Langham and Bob
Fraser," Ward said.  "By Jove, that cob of Bunny's can move.  We got
back in five-and-twenty minutes."

As I didn't know how far it was to Woodstock and didn't care, I said
nothing, so Ward went on, "Bunny's a rare good sort; you ought to meet
him."

"What college is he at?" I asked.

"At the House--Christchurch, you know."  I did know, and thought the
explanation cheek.  "I have hired a gee from Carter's to-morrow, and am
going to drive over to Abingdon with Bunny, will you come?"

"To-morrow's Sunday," I said.

"Yes, there is nothing else to do.  The better the day the----"  But I
interrupted him.

"Don't talk rot, I hate those things.  Are you going in a dog-cart?" I
asked.

"Yes, it is Bunny's cart."

"I am jolly well not going to sit on the back seat of a dog-cart if I
can help it; I would rather go about in a perambulator," I said.

"You are so confoundedly particular," he went on with a great guffaw of
laughter, "but since it is Bunny's cart and I am going to drive I don't
see how we can offer you any other seat."

"Who the blazes is Bunny?" I asked, for his name was beginning to get
on my nerves, and Fred Foster sitting as dumb as a mute was enough to
upset any one.

"I know him at home, his father is the Marquis of Tillford and his real
name is Lord Augustus Langham, only his teeth stick out and every one
calls him Bunny," Ward answered.

"Heaps of money?" I said.

"Plenty, I should think."

"Then he is no use to me, though he may be the best fellow in the
world," I declared.

"You are a rum 'un, why he is just the sort of man who is some use."

"That depends," Foster said suddenly.

"Yes, it depends," I repeated, though I didn't know exactly what
depended.

"What depends?" Ward asked Foster.

"Well, if a man hasn't got much money it is no use knowing a lot of men
who have got no end."

"It never struck me that way.  Perhaps you are right," and then turning
to me, he added, "Come to breakfast anyhow to-morrow morning, Bunny
won't be there then."

I promised to go, and then he left us.  I walked back to Oriel with
Foster and he had got a lot to say about Jack Ward.  "Where in the
world did you find that man?" was his first remark after we were alone.

"He found me," I said.

"I should lose him as soon as possible," Fred went on.

"I don't think that would be very easy," I answered, "and I don't
believe he is a bad sort really."

"I'll bet he never came back from Woodstock in five-and-twenty
minutes," Foster said.



CHAPTER III

THE RESULT OF THE FRESHERS' MATCH

If I had to describe in detail the first two or three weeks of my life
at Oxford, I think that accusations might be brought against me of
having eaten too much, or at any rate too often.  Fortunately I had a
good digestion, I cannot imagine the fate of a dyspeptic freshman if he
had to attend a series of Oxford breakfasts.  I have, however, only
once encountered a fresher who suffered from dyspepsia, and if there
was any other man so afflicted at St. Cuthbert's he probably did not
admit his complaint.  For we were supposed to be very cultivated at St.
Cuthbert's, and at that time it was not good form to hold a roll-call
of our diseases at breakfast, to discuss surgical operations at
luncheon, and to provide tales of sea-sickness by way of humour at
dinner.  We kept our complaints to ourselves and were in truth more
than a little ashamed of them.

St. Cuthbert's had a reputation of its own.  Men in other colleges
criticized us very freely.  They said that we were prigs, that the
'Varsity boat would never be any good as long as there was a St.
Cuthbert's man in it, and other pleasant things which did not annoy me,
since I, having been a butt for much personal criticism all my life,
can even get some satisfaction from finding that a crowd of other
people are as bad as I am.  Besides, we had nearly one hundred and
fifty men at St. Cuthbert's, and I thought it was absolutely stupid to
say we were all prigs and that none of us could row.

The truth of the matter was, as far as I could judge, that at St.
Cuthbert's there were often a large number of clever men, and clever
men when young can get on one's nerves most terribly.  It is all right
for men to be clever when they are old or even middle-aged, then
allowances are made for them and they may be as odd as they please.
But if any one happens to be clever when he is at Oxford, he will have
to watch himself closely or he will be called either a genius or a
lunatic, and the one is almost as fatal as the other.

In a college as large as St. Cuthbert's it was natural that there
should be a number of different sets.  We had several men who are best
described by the word "bloods"; two or three of them belonged to the
Bullingdon, a few of them to Vincent's, of which Club most of "the
blues" in the 'Varsity were members, and nearly all had plenty of money
and every one of them lived as if they had plenty.  I cannot call them
athletic, though they and the really athletic set were more or less
mixed up together.  We had also a very serious set who, I thought, gave
themselves far too many airs.  Perhaps serious is not quite the right
word to apply to them, for one of this gang wrote a comic opera and
another wrote a farce; but these were just thrown out in their spare
time, and when I attended a reading of the libretto of the comic opera
I went so fast asleep that I cannot say how comic it was.  But if it
had been very funny I should think some one would have laughed loud
enough to wake me up.  Generally speaking this set seemed to be bent on
the reformation of England, a thing which has happened once and is
rather a difficult matter for a college debating society to bring about
again.  The reformation which they were bent upon was not, however,
religious, for they thought little of the religion which satisfies
ordinary people.  One of them told me that religion was merely
emotional and sentimental, a crutch for a weak man, and went on to say
that their scheme was moral and social, a cry for a better life and
against the oppression of the poor.  That man bored me terribly, but
since one of his own set had told me that he was the cleverest man in
Oxford I did not like to tell him what I thought.  Besides I was only a
fresher who had not yet looked around, and he was the first man I had
met who was the cleverest man in Oxford, though I met several others
afterwards who had arrived at the same peak of distinction.  I even got
so weary of meeting this particular brand of man that I asked Jack Ward
to help me along my way by spreading a report that I was a most
promising poet, but he said that no one who had ever seen me would
believe him.  He meant to be complimentary, I believe.

It was into this medley of sets that I was plunged headlong.  Crowds of
men called upon me and asked me to meals.  Some of them wanted to know
me because I played cricket and football, the captain of the college
boat called because he wanted me to row, some of the "bloods" left
cards on me because they had seen me walking about with Jack Ward, whom
they had marked down as one of themselves.  A few men called from other
colleges who had known me at Cliborough, or had been asked to see
something of me because their people knew mine.  I got to know the
oddest lot of men imaginable, and as long as they looked clean and did
not try to rush me into helping them to reform the world, I liked them
all.

But in spite of Ward, who pretended that Rugby football was an
overrated amusement, I wanted to belong to the athletic set, and I
started by playing footer in a thing which is most correctly called
"The Freshers' Squash."  In this struggle any fresher who had never
played rugger in his life, but thought he would like some exercise,
could play, while footer blues dodged round and took your names, if you
were lucky enough to touch the ball, and booked you for the proper
game.  On the following day I played back in the real freshers' match,
and was most tremendously encouraged before I started by hearing one
man say to another that I had come up with a big reputation from
Cliborough.  Perhaps I was encouraged too much, or possibly I had eaten
too heavy a luncheon, for whatever reputation I might have had before
the game began, was effectually dispersed before we had finished
playing; and Foster, who was playing three-quarters on the other side,
was the man who assisted me in this dismally easy task.  Four times he
came right away from everybody, and once he slipped down in front of
me, but on the other three occasions he simply swerved away from me and
I missed him by yards.  The man who had been full back to the 'Varsity
XV. the year before had gone down, and Foster had put into my head the
idea that I ought to have a jolly good chance of getting my blue.  This
match was a very rude blow, and when I put on my coat and walked out of
the parks I felt that I had been very badly treated.  I was not at all
sure with whom I was most angry, but I had a general feeling that
whatever I tried to do went most hopelessly wrong, and that I was much
better fitted to sit in a dog-cart with Jack Ward, than I was to stand
up in a footer-field and be made a fool of by Fred Foster.

As luck would have it the first man I saw when I went into the college
was Ward, and he shouted with laughter when he saw me.

"I went down to the parks to see you," he said, "but for heaven's sake
don't look so down on your luck.  I don't see that it matters, there
are other things worth doing besides trying to collar impossible
people.  If you don't have to play again I shall think you are
thundering well out of it."

If anybody had said this to me at school I should have thought that he
was mad, but during the few days I had been at Oxford I had somehow or
other got hopelessly mixed up.  Foster wanted me to do one thing,
Murray advised me to do another, Ward kept on asking me to slack, and a
fellow called Dennison, whom I had met several times, seemed to think
that Oxford was a tremendous joke and that the most amusing people in
it were the dons.

At any rate I was not in the least angry at Ward's way of taking my
wretched exhibition, so I asked him and Dennison and two or three other
freshers, who were standing around in the quad, to come and have tea
with me, and that tea was the beginning of my first big row.  I had not
finished my bath when I was sorry I had asked them, for I remembered
that before the game had begun Foster had asked me to go round
afterwards to see him, and I had a sort of feeling that if he had made
an idiot of himself, and I had caused him to do so, he would have most
certainly not been as angry as I was.  However, I had let myself in for
this tea and had to go through with it, and I must say that it was very
good fun.

If, as some wit said, only a dull man can be brilliant at breakfast, it
seems to me that if the converse of this is true St. Cuthbert's must
have contained an extraordinary number of brilliant men.  The
amusements of a breakfast given by a senior man to half-a-dozen
freshers were principally food and silence.  It is, I think, dreadfully
difficult to talk to a batch of freshers, and only one man, as far as
my experience went, overcame the difficulty.  He resorted to the simple
means of telling us what a wonderful man he was.  But when we were
alone we chattered like a lot of starlings, every one talked and no one
listened, so we got on well together.

Ward and Dennison came up to my rooms before I was dressed, and two
other men, Lambert and Collier, arrived soon afterwards.  It was a
party of which Ward strongly approved.  While I was trying to make the
kettle boil, I heard Dennison say that we were the pick of the
freshers, a statement which no one was very likely to deny.  I felt
badly in need of some tonic after my afternoon, and I swallowed the one
provided by Dennison without any hesitation, not stopping to wonder how
often he had said the same thing to other men.  As a matter-of-fact we
were rather an odd lot to be the pick of anybody.

Dennison looked younger than any boy in the sixth form at Cliborough,
and he could, on occasions, blush most bashfully.  His blush was,
however, the only bashful thing about him and he used it very seldom.
Ward had told me that although Dennison looked such a kid he knew a
tremendous lot.  I discovered this for myself later on, but I cannot
say that his knowledge was the kind which is difficult to acquire.  He
professed a wholesale contempt for any game at which he could get his
mouth full of dirt, and said that he would as soon make mud-pies as
play football.

Lambert was hugely tall and walked with a stride which was as long as
it was stately.  He went in for dressing himself beautifully, strummed
on the banjo, and had a playful little habit of arranging his tie in
any mirror which he saw.  His pride in himself was so monstrously open
that no one with a grain of humour could be angry with him.  He talked
about every game under the sun as if they were all equally easy to him,
but I should not think that any one was ever found who believed half of
what he said.

Collier's great point was the beam which he kept on his face, he always
looked so perfectly delighted to see you that he was a most effective
cure for depression.  He was fat and did not mind, which persuaded me
that he was very easy to please.  Nature had prevented him from playing
football with any success, but for six or seven overs, on a cool day,
he was reported to be a dangerous fast bowler.

As Jack Ward thought that no ball yet made was worth worrying when he
could ride, drive, or even be driven, and since I was feeling about as
sick with footer as it is possible for any one who had got a love for
the game in him to be, I confess that we were a peculiar lot to think
much of ourselves.

My room was not made to hold five people, who, with the exception of
Dennison, were all either very broad or long, but a good honest squash
certainly makes for friendship.  We were a fairly rowdy party, because
Lambert had brought his banjo and as soon as he had finished tea he
wanted to sing; in fact it may be said of him that he was always
wanting to sing and could never find any one who wished to listen to
him.  I had already heard him sing some sentimental rubbish about
meeting by moonlight and another thing about stars and souls, and I
threw a cushion at his head as soon as he began to make some noise
which he called "tuning up."  That began a cushion fight, which
resulted in two china shepherdesses, a small lamp, and some teacups
being smashed, but it persuaded Lambert that he could not sing whenever
he felt inclined.  We all sat down again, and Ward, who had been
hanging on to the standard lamp while cushions had been flying around,
said to me--

"You did look down on your luck when I saw you in the quad.  I can't
think why anybody should take these wretched games so seriously; it
seems to me a perfectly rotten thing to do."

"No game is worth playing in which it matters to any one else whether
you win or lose," Dennison said before I had a chance to answer Ward;
"the only games a self-respecting man can play are court tennis,
racquets and golf.  Then there is no one to swear at you except
yourself."

"That's rubbish," I answered.  "Half the fun of the thing is belonging
to a side, and a man must be mad to say that golf is a better game than
cricket."

"Dennison wasn't trying to make out that golf is better than cricket,
but was just saying what games a man can play without being sworn at as
if he were a coolie," Ward said.

"I refuse to take amusements seriously," Dennison continued.  "I would
sooner shout with laughter at a funeral than lose my temper playing a
game."

"The sweetest thing on earth," I said, "is to catch a fast half-volley
to leg plumb in the middle of the bat."

"It isn't in the same street with a comic opera at the Savoy after a
good dinner," Lambert remarked.

"At any rate it doesn't last so long," Dennison, who had a queer idea
of what was funny, put in.

"A punt, good cushions, June, and a novel by one of those people who
make you feel sleepy, are hard to beat," Collier stated.

"You are a Sybarite," Dennison said, "and you will be a disappointed
one before long.  All we do here in the summer is to give our relations
strawberries and cream and run with our college eight."

"How do you know?" Collier asked, but to so searching a question he got
no reply.

"The finest sight in the world is a thoroughbred horse," Ward said.

"You must have gone about with your eyes shut," Dennison declared.

"Don't sit there talking rot," I said.  "If anything ever pleases you,
tell us what it is."

"My greatest pleasure is in polite conversation," he answered.

"Oh, you are a sarcastic idiot," I retorted, for people who are
afflicted by thinking themselves funny when I think they are idiotic
always make me rude.

"Dennison never says what he means," Ward explained, "it is a little
habit of his."

"Why can't you talk straight, it's much simpler, and doesn't make me
feel so horribly uncomfortable?" I asked, turning to Dennison.

"Marten is getting angry," was the only answer I received, and it was
so near the truth that I wanted to pick him up and drop him in the
passage.

Ward, however, calmed my feelings by saying that he could not imagine
any one troubling to be angry with Dennison.  "The one thing he prides
himself on is getting a rise out of people, and we aren't such fools as
he thinks us."

"And he is a much bigger fool than he thinks," Collier said solemnly.

"You are a nice complimentary lot," Dennison remarked, smiling amiably
upon us.

"It's your own fault," Collier continued; "you try to be clever and
succeed in being confoundedly dull.  I was at school with him for five
years and I know his only strong point is that the more you abuse him
the more he likes you."

"I'm fairly in love with you, Coalheaver," Dennison said.

"Naturally, but you might forget that very witty name."

"I'm going," Lambert declared, "for I'm dining in hall, and if I don't
go for a walk those kromeskis and quenelles will choke me."

"Half a minute," and Ward pushed Lambert back into his seat; "now we
are all here, I think we had better arrange a freshers' wine.  There
always is one, and nobody will get it up if we don't, so I vote we do
the thing properly."

Every one seemed to approve of the idea, but as I was no use at making
arrangements I suggested that Ward should manage the whole business.

"I can order everything, but we must have a committee to choose the
people we shall ask and all that part of it.  We can't ask everybody,"
Ward said.

"Half of them won't come if we do.  I should think we had better ask
the whole lot, and then we shall know what they are made of," Lambert
advised.

"We shan't have a room big enough to hold them," Collier said.

After that we all began to talk, and though I had only a hazy notion of
what we decided, I heard enough to know that Ward and Dennison meant
having this wine in about ten days and only intended to ask the
freshers whom they liked.



CHAPTER IV

UNEXPECTED PEOPLE

The idea of working for Mr. Gilbert Edwardes never had much attraction
for me, and for the first two or three weeks at Oxford I found it very
difficult to satisfy him.  However, the excuse that I took a long time
to settle down in a fresh place did not seem as reasonable to him as it
did to me, so I had to abandon it and try to appease him.  The worst of
him was that I never knew whether he was pleased or not; he accepted my
most determined efforts at scholarship as a matter of course and
reserved his eloquence for the occasions on which my work showed
symptoms of haste.  In less than a fortnight I felt that my tutor and I
were watching each other, an element of distrust seemed to have sprung
up; he took it for granted that I would do as little as possible, while
I was searching for something which could tell me that he was human as
well as learned.

I could not understand him in the least, for I had been accustomed to
masters who talked about things of which I knew a little even if they
were bored by doing so; but when I met Mr. Edwardes I felt that he
belonged to the ice period, and that he would think the smallest thaw a
waste of time.

I do like a human being, I mean a man who lets you know something about
him and does not barricade himself against you.  But a man who puts up
the shutters in front of his virtues and faults bothers me most
terribly, and I always seem to be bumping my head against something
invisible whenever I see him, which is a most disconcerting performance.

Mr. Edwardes was also Murray's tutor, but Murray was not afflicted, as
I was, with the desire to know people more than they wanted to be
known, and he told me that if I would only take Edwardes as I found him
we should get on together splendidly.  In spite of Jack Ward, I saw
Murray every day, and the more I knew of him the more I liked him.  He
was in my room one evening after Ward had arranged that we were to have
a freshers' wine, and I asked him if he was coming to it.

"I can't go unless I am asked," he said, "and I shan't go now if I am
asked."

I resolved to say a few things to Ward, but I did not know what to say
to Murray.

"Ward is asking everybody he wants, isn't he?" he inquired.

"Yes it was left to him and Dennison, I believe."

"Then I am not likely to be invited, for he and I never could do
anything but have rows with each other at Wellingham."

"What about?" I asked, for Murray had never said much about Ward to me
and I wanted to hear his side of the quarrel.

"It isn't worth repeating," he answered.  "I was head of the school and
Ward thought a friend of his ought to have seen.  He thinks I am a smug
because I have to work, and I suppose I think he is a fool because he
thinks I am a smug.  He is a queer sort, and it is hopeless for me to
try to be friends with him, even if I wanted to be, and I don't."

"He is a fairly good cricketer, isn't he?" I asked, for I had
discovered that when Murray had once made up his mind no efforts of
mine would change it.

"Yes, he would have got into the XI. quite easily only he was so slack,
and the master who looked after our cricket couldn't stand him.  It was
rather a swindle that he didn't get into the team all the same."

"I hate slackers," I said, and to prove it I set to work on some Homer
for Edwardes.  Murray got his books and we slaved together for nearly
two hours, when a most timid knock sounded on my door, and a man came
in who seemed to be most fearfully nervous.  He was carrying a gown and
a cap in his hand, and he looked at Murray, who was not at all an
alarming sight, as if he had encountered a wild man from one of those
regions where wild men are bred.  I had never had much practice at
putting any one at their ease, for most people hit me on the back and
call me "old fellow" far too soon; but I tried very hard to calm my
visitor, and though it was six o'clock I asked him to have tea and
every conceivable other thing I could think of, all of which he
refused.  He told me his name was Owen, but apart from that I knew
nothing, and the more he fidgeted with the tassel of his cap the more I
wondered why he had come.

Murray, however, guessed that he was in the way and hurried off as soon
as he could.  Then Owen made two or three unsuccessful efforts to
begin, until I felt that I must offer him something more, only I had
nothing left to offer.  The man who said that hospitality covers a
multitude of emotions went nearer the mark than most of those
word-turning people do.  But at last it all came out in jerks, and I
felt most thoroughly sorry for him; if I had been in his place I am
certain I should never have faced such an ordeal.

"I didn't like to tell you why I had come before your friend," he
began; and he still twisted his cap round and round by the tassel.  "I
suppose a sort of false modesty prevented me, but I might just as well
have spoken before him."

"Murray is a most awfully good sort," I said lamely, for I wanted to
help him so much that my head felt hot and I could not think.

"I expect he is," Owen went on, "but I haven't come to be friends with
your friends.  I only wanted to see you, and the reason is that over
twenty years ago in India your father saved my father's life."

I did feel relieved when he told me that, for I had been imagining that
he was the kind of man who is known as a freak, and had come to win me
over to some stupid crank which he would call a noble cause.

"I am most tremendously glad you have come," I said, and then I began
talking about my father's old regiment, and Owen could not get a word
in until I had finished.

"You don't understand," he said, as soon as he got a chance; "when you
talk about a regiment you only think of the officers, my father was one
of the men."

"I don't see what that matters as long as his life was saved."

"It does matter," Owen replied; "it matters here very much, where there
is not much liberality except in offering meals and things not wanted."
I moved my feet and kicked the fender, the fire-irons jangled together
and he went on: "I ought not to have said that, it is my blundering way
to say the thing I oughtn't; what I meant was that Oxford is not very
liberal to a man like I am, who is here by hard work, and not because
his fathers and grandfathers were here before him.  It is impossible in
a place of sets--social, athletic, and all the rest--for a man who has
to work to keep himself, to be treated in the same way as you, for
instance, are treated.  I am not what the world calls a gentleman."

"Oh, confound the world," I said, "it is always mixed up in my mind
with the flesh and the devil," and as Owen did not say anything for a
minute I asked him what college he was at.

"I am unattached, St. Catherine's if you like; we are called 'The
Toshers,'" he answered, and there was a note of bitterness in his
voice.  "Of course," he went on, "I am boring you to death, but I must
say that I should never have come to see you if my father had not made
me promise that I would.  He takes a tremendous interest in both your
brother and you; he knows the place your brother passed into Sandhurst
and where he was in the list when he went out, and last summer he
watched for your name in _The Sportsman_, and when you got any wickets
he was as pleased as Punch.  He writes to Colonel Marten still."

I wished I could have said that my father had mentioned him to me, but
if I had I am certain that Owen would have seen that I was not telling
the truth.  "My father," I tried to explain, "never talks about
anything he has done.  If your father had saved his life I should have
heard of it a hundred times."

"You have the knack of saying the right thing, I shall never get that
if I live to be a hundred;" and then he stood up, and putting a hand on
the mantel-piece looked at the photographs of my people, but he did not
say what he thought about them.

"If I did say the right thing, it was a most fearful fluke," I said,
for I could not be silent.  "I simply hate men who walk about patting
themselves on the back because they have had what they call success
with a remark."

He did not listen to what I was saying, but stood staring into the
fire; at last he turned round and held out a hand to me.

"I must thank you," he began; "and there is one other thing I have got
to ask you before I say good-bye.  My father asked me to make you
promise that you would never mention what I have told you about his
life being saved by your father, or anything about him.  It seems to be
a sort of compact, I don't understand it.  He doesn't want your people
to know anything about me, but only you."

I promised, of course, but I felt rather bothered.

"We may meet some day in the street," he said, and he pushed his hand
into mine; but I let it go, and told him to sit down again.  For this
last speech of his was annoying, he had evidently got a wrong idea of
me.

"It is no use talking rot," I said.  "To begin with, what on earth have
you got to thank me for?"

"If Colonel Marten hadn't saved my father's life, I should never have
been born," he said.

"And you have come to thank me for that?" I said, and I did not mean to
be rude.

"I was told to, you see," he answered.

I looked at him and we both laughed, though I went on laughing long
after he had stopped.  The idea of me being thanked for anybody's
existence was beautifully comic.

"It is very good of you to have come," I said, as soon as I could; "but
I don't deserve any thanks and you know that I don't."

"You haven't got much to do with it, perhaps, but you were here and I
should never have been forgiven if I hadn't come to see you.  I shan't
come again."

"Oh, bosh," I replied.  "What's the good of talking stuff like that?
Of course you will come again, and I am coming to see you, if I may.
How long have you been up here?"

"This is the beginning of my third year."

"What did you get in Mods?" I asked, for I felt sure that he had done
well.

"A First," he answered.

"I wish I had.  Where do you live?"

"I shan't tell you."

"You may just as well, for I shall easily find out."

He stood up again, and talked as he strode up and down my room.

"I have been here two years," he began, "and I know that it is
impossible for us to be friends; and when you have thought it over you
will think as I do.  My father teaches fencing and boxing in London; I
was educated at a school you never heard of; I am helped here by an old
gentleman who discovered that I was more or less intelligent.  He has a
mania for experiments, and I am his latest hobby.  Have I said enough
to put you off, or must I go on?"

"I suppose I can please myself when I choose my friends," I said.

"That you most certainly can't do here," he answered.  "Let me alone
and I won't bother you any more.  Good-night, your bell is going for
dinner."

He walked straight out of my room, and before he had closed the door
Jack Ward rushed in.

"Who is that man?" he asked at once.

"I am not going to tell you," I answered, for I wanted time to think.

"Well he is a funny-looking Johnny anyway, looks as pale as a codfish
and as solemn as a boiled owl.  You do collect an odd set of friends;
there's that man Foster, who seems to be deaf and dumb, and Murray, who
gives me the blues whenever I see him, and then this apparition."

"You can just shut up jawing," I answered, as I hunted round for my
gown; "when I want you to criticize my friends I will tell you.
Foster's worth about ten billion of you any day."

I was very angry, but Ward only laughed and told me to hurry up unless
I wanted the soup to be cold.

"We are going to have a little roulette in my rooms to-night," he said,
as we walked across the quad.  "Will you come?"

"No, I won't," I answered, and I let him go into the hall first, and as
soon as he had chosen his seat I got as far from him as I could.  I saw
him talking to Collier, and they seemed to be amused, which did not
lessen my annoyance.  If the freshers' wine had been held on that
evening, I am very nearly sure that I should not have gone to it.

After dinner I waylaid Murray, and dragged him off to see Foster at
Oriel.  Two days before Foster had been playing rugger for the 'Varsity
against the London Scottish, and I had neither seen the game, because I
had to play in a college match on the same afternoon, nor had I seen
him since.  I wanted to hear whether he was satisfied with himself, but
I wanted also to tell him about Owen.

We found him in the college lodge talking to a whole lot of men, but as
soon as he saw us he grabbed one man and took us to his rooms.  I did
not want this fourth fellow, but since he was there I must say that
Foster could not have got any one nicer.  His name was Henderson, and
he had been so successful as captain of his school cricket XI. that he
had played three times for Somersetshire during August.  His legs and
arms were extraordinarily long and his face was covered with freckles;
one freckle had placed itself on the tip of his nose and I did not get
accustomed to it for a long time--it was the sort of thing which one
kept on looking at to see if it was still there.  He would not talk
about his cricket, except to say that he should not have played for
Somersetshire if half the regular team had not been laid up, and he
kept on clamouring to play whist, so that at last we gave way to him.

I had a good opinion of my whist, though how I arrived at it I cannot
explain.  Henderson was my partner and he seemed to me to do the most
odd things.  For instance when I led a spade and he took the trick,
instead of leading another spade he would begin some fresh suit, which
made me wonder what in the world he was doing.  And he did not seem to
think his trumps half as valuable as I thought mine, but just led them
whenever he felt inclined.  When Nina, Foster and I played whist it was
considered pretty bad form to lead trumps when we had anything else to
lead, and we kept them for a big outburst at the finish.  I pitied
myself considerably for having Henderson as a partner, and I was very
surprised to see Murray doing the same odd sort of things.  So at the
end of one rubber Foster and I played together, but I cannot say that
we had much luck, and just at the end I made a revoke which Murray was
brute enough to notice.  When Henderson had gone I said that he seemed
to be a rare good sort, but it was a pity he did not know a little more
about whist.  I hoped Murray would take that remark partly to himself,
because at the end of every hand he had talked to Henderson about what
might have happened if he had led a different card, and sometimes he
even went on jawing when he had got his fresh hand, which quite put me
off my game.  But all Murray did was to laugh, while Foster said to me
that he was afraid our way of playing whist was all wrong, and I had
some difficulty in persuading him that it was not.  Then Murray said
something about reading Cavendish carefully, but I had heard some one
say that Cavendish was out of date, so I borrowed this man's opinion
and expressed it as my own, which amused Murray so much that if I had
not been sorry for him I believe I should have lost my temper.

At last, however, we stopped discussing whist, and after I had made
Foster and Murray swear they would tell no one else, I gave them an
account of Owen coming to see me.  Before I began Foster declared that
the reason I bound them to keep my secret was because I wanted to tell
it to every one myself.  In fact he expected the whole thing to be some
miserable little affair, for I had a habit, which I have since
abandoned, of extracting the most terrific promises of secrecy from my
friends and then telling them something which they did not think as
important as I did.  I started that game because I had once told
something really funny to a lot of fellows at Cliborough, and they went
and spread it about so quickly that I could never find any one else who
did not know it, which was simply nothing less than a fraud.

But as soon as I had got fairly into my tale I saw that both Foster and
Murray were interested, and at the end of it I asked them what I was to
do.

"Do you think he meant that he wouldn't have anything more to do with
you, or that he just wanted to show you that he would leave you to
decide what was to happen next?" Murray asked.

"I don't know what he meant," I answered.  "He seemed to be in a rage
with the whole of Oxford, only it was not a noisy sort of rage but a
kind of smouldering business, and perhaps I only imagined the whole
thing."

"What was he like to look at?" Foster inquired.

"Pale and dark, and he looked unwell without looking unwholesome," I
replied.

"I saw him," Murray said, "and I thought he would have been rather nice
if he hadn't been so nervous.  He has got great big eyes and about half
an acre of forehead."

"He wore a flannel shirt and a turned-down collar, and looked clean," I
told Foster, for I thought he had better know everything.

"Ask him to lunch and Murray and me to meet him," Foster suggested.

"I can't ask a senior man to lunch, it would show that I thought it
didn't make any difference in his case, and I think he would be on the
look-out for things like that.  Besides, he wouldn't come."

"I should leave him alone," Murray said.

"I shan't do that, it would make me feel a brute," I replied.

"Find out where he lives and I will come with you and see him.  I know
your father, so it will be all right," Foster proposed.

"He has called on me, so he can't mind me going to see him, and I
should like to take you with me.  I'll let you know as soon as I have
found out where his rooms are;" and then, as it was getting late,
Foster came down with us to the lodge, and I was half out of the door
before I remembered to ask him about his footer.

"I am playing against Cooper's Hill on Wednesday," he said; "but I
shall be kicked out if I don't play any better than I did on Saturday."

As we walked up King Edward Street Murray did nothing but talk about
Foster, and since I was always delighted whenever I could get any one
on that subject I did not look half carefully enough where I was going.
Murray was in cap and gown, but I was not wearing what is sometimes
magnificently called "academical attire," but had on a cloth cap.  It
had never occurred to me that we were likely to meet the "proggins,"
but as I turned into The High we ran full tilt into him, and before I
had time to think of running, a "bulldog" had told me that the proctor
would like to speak to me.  There was no way out of it, so I turned to
gratify this unforeseen gentleman and found that he was my tutor, Mr.
Edwardes.  He did not trouble to go through the usual formula of asking
me whether I belonged to the University and all the rest of it, but
told me to call upon him the next morning.  He spoke so quickly that I
could not hear what time he told me to come, but I supposed any time
would do.

"Did you know that Edwardes was a proctor?" I asked Murray, as soon as
we could go on.

"Some one told me he was; he is a junior proctor, I think."

"And a vile nuisance," I added.  "He will be more down on me than ever
now."

"There is no harm in walking about without cap and gown," Murray said.

"I'll bet Edwardes thinks there is," I answered, and as I was feeling
furious at being caught so simply, I gave a tremendous hammer upon the
door of St. Cuthbert's, and when I wished the porter good-night he
glared at me and did not answer.



CHAPTER V

THE WINE

The faculty of making people angry without meaning to do so is a most
fatal possession.  When I remember the men I know who seem to be
constitutionally unpleasant and who walk about saying sarcastic things,
I do think I am unlucky.  For I annoy people quite unintentionally, and
it must be the most stupid way of bringing about a bad result.  I get
no fun for my money, so to speak.  Honestly I did not hear at what time
Mr. Edwardes told me to call upon him, and when I strolled over to his
rooms about eleven o'clock on the following morning, I had no idea that
he was likely to be more than usually displeased.  But it did not take
me a moment to discover that he was very angry indeed.  From what he
told me it seemed that I ought to have appeared at nine o'clock with
many other men as unfortunate as I was, and he evidently considered
that I had not come at the proper hour because I had thought that one
time would do as well as another.  I told him that I did not hear him
mention any particular time, but I do not think he believed me, and
after I had paid him five shillings for being without my cap and gown
he did not even thank me, but looked first at his watch and then at a
long list which he had on his table.

"It is now a quarter-past eleven, and I believe Mr. Armitage's lecture
at Merton begins at eleven o'clock.  May I ask why you have decided not
to attend his lecture this morning?" and he screwed his mouth up until
it seemed to disappear.

His question was difficult to answer, because I could not tell him that
Murray and I had decided that Mr. Armitage lectured very badly, and
that I had expressed my intention of cutting his lectures whenever I
felt inclined.  So I said that I had forgotten Mr. Armitage's lecture,
which happened to be the truth.

"I am afraid, Mr. Marten, that you take a very light view of your
responsibilities," he said.  "It is unusual, I imagine, for an
exhibitioner of a college to interview the proctor as soon as you have
done; the college authorities naturally expect their scholars and
exhibitioners to obey the rules of the University, and they also expect
them to apply themselves earnestly to their studies.  At the present
moment I am unable to consider that you have realized either of these
expectations."

"Well, sir, they are early days yet," I said with a smile, for I
thought it was best to take a cheery view of the situation.

"This is no jest," he replied, and his teeth snapped together very
disagreeably.

"I did not mistake it for one," I said, and I wanted to be amicable;
"but being without cap and gown last night is not a very awful offence,
is it?  The proctors would have a very dull time if they did not catch
men sometimes."

I cannot imagine why I made that last remark, except that he had fixed
his little eyes upon me when I began and it seemed to be dragged out of
me.

"I do not think that you need trouble yourself about the duties of the
proctors, Mr. Marten.  Good-morning, and please remember what I have
said to you."

I left his room smiling, and I am sure he thought I was laughing at
him; but what really amused me was being called "Mr. Marten," for I had
not grown accustomed to my prefix and the sound of it was most comical
to me.  I am afraid my taste for jokes was very different from that of
my tutor.

When I came away from Mr. Edwardes I stood in the front quadrangle and
whistled.  My whistle is unmusical and penetrative, useful only when a
dog has been lost, and some man, whom I did not know, put his head out
of his window and said abruptly, "For heaven's sake shut up that vile
noise;" another man chucked a penny into the quad and told me he should
send something heavier if I did not stop.  The front quad was obviously
no place for me, but before I had made up my mind where I would go the
Warden came out of his house and saw me before I saw him.

"Good-morning, Mr. Marten," he said before I could escape; "it is so
unusual to find a beautiful quadrangle totally uninhabited that you
seem to be undecided whether to leave it or not.  Your whistle as I
stood by the open window of my bedroom suggested to me that you are not
employing your time most advantageously either to yourself or to
others."

He stood by me for a moment, and then moving on with his peculiar
shuffle disappeared through the doorway leading into the college
gardens.  My nerves were becoming upset from these constant encounters,
and as I felt that I could not sit down and work until I had some kind
of an antidote, I went up to see Jack Ward, who had rooms in the front
quadrangle.

I found him, as I thought, most beautifully unemployed, but as soon as
he had asked me whether my temper was better in the morning than at
night, of which remark I took no notice, he said that he was being
worried to death.

There were two telegrams lying on his table, and I thought something
awful had happened to his people, so I tried to look sympathetic and
replied that if he would rather be left alone I would go at once.  Then
he broke forth into the language of towing-paths and barges and asked
me whether I was a lunatic, which was a fairly nasty question when I
thought I was treating his trouble in a becoming spirit.  I was not,
however, sure what was the matter with him, so I did not say what I
might have said but asked him to tell me why he was bothered.

"You see it is like this," he answered, picking up both the telegrams;
"one of our groom fellows at home has a brother who knows everything
about Blackmore's stable, and he has just wired to me that Dainty Dick
will win the Flying Welter at Hurst Park to-day, and I was off to back
it when I get a wire from my tipster, Tom Webb, that The Philosopher
can't lose the same race.  It is Tom's 'double nap' and I am in a hole
what to do."

As I had never heard before of Dainty Dick, The Philosopher, Tom Webb
or Blackmore, I did not feel in a position to give advice, but I
laughed until I felt quite unwell, and Ward walked about the room
asking violently why I was amused.

"I thought some of your people were ill when I came in here," I said
after some minutes, "and the whole thing turns out to be some gibberish
nonsense about Tom Webb, a tipster, and some rotten horses."

"You are most refreshingly green," Ward replied, and he screwed the
telegrams together and threw them into the fire.

"What are you going to do?" I inquired.

"That's just it, I can't make up my mind.  Tom Webb has sent me twelve
stiff 'uns running, and if The Philosopher won and I wasn't on it I
should swear for a month."

"Then," I said wisely, "I think you had better back The Philosopher;
you ought to think a little of your friends."

The only answer I received to my suggestion was that of all the fools
in Oxford I was the most sublime, so I told him that if he backed
either of these horses he would be proving that, at any rate, I was not
absolutely the biggest fool he knew.  But he had begun to read racing
guides and calendars, and every now and then made notes upon a piece of
paper, so he treated my retort with contempt.

"I believe," he said, with a pencil between his teeth, "that Dainty
Dick can give The Philosopher about eleven pounds, and he has only to
give him four, so I shall back The Philosopher."

"That doesn't seem very good reasoning," I ventured to remark.

"My opinion's always wrong," he explained, "but I have a thundering
good mind to back both of 'em."

"It seems the quickest way of losing your money," I said.

"Don't be such a confounded ass.  I know about some of these stables, a
man is a fool if you like who bets and doesn't know."  He shut up his
betting-book with a bang, and I told him the only tale I knew about
racing.

"I have a cousin," I began, "who owned racehorses and all the rest of
it.  He lost every penny he had, and a lot more besides.  He knew, as
you call it."  I did not feel that my tale, though it had the merit of
being true, was a good one.

"It is no use for you to sit there and conjure up tragedies," Ward
replied.  "I can't help gambling, it is in my blood; my father is about
the biggest speculator in England.  If you want a good tip, buy
Susquehambo Consolidated Rubies."

I was not inclined to buy anything except a fox-terrier pup, and I told
Ward that he would come a most howling cropper if he did not look out.
But I have never yet happened to find the man who was inclined to take
my warnings seriously, and Jack Ward, at any rate, was so naturally
optimistic, that I might have known that he would take no notice
whatever of my advice.

"I shall back both Dainty Dick and The Philosopher," he said, when I
had finished; "come down to Wright's with me, and I will have a fiver
on each of them.  I don't get tips like these every day."

He put on his cap and tried to persuade me to go with him, but I was
sick of the man, he seemed to me to be simply throwing his money away;
so I went back to my rooms, and finding that Murray had been to
Armitage's lecture, I borrowed his notes and copied them into my book,
though Murray said, and I thought, that I was wasting my time.

I did not see Ward again until after five o'clock, when he brought an
evening paper and a cheerful countenance into my rooms and told me that
Dainty Dick had won the Flying Welter, and The Philosopher had been
second.  "Two pretty good tips, my boy," he said; "nothing but your
obstinacy prevented your being on."

Collier had been having tea with me, and was to all appearances asleep
when Ward came in, but without opening his eyes he said, "Betting is a
mug's game.  What price did this brute start at?"

"I don't know until I get the next evening paper, but it is sure to be
a good price; there were twelve runners, and they are sure to have
backed The Philosopher."

"You are a rotter," Collier stated; "if you are going to stay here,
don't talk racing to us.  I don't know anything about it and don't want
to."

"I know a real hot thing for the Manchester November Handicap, been
kept for months," Ward said quite cheerfully.

"We don't want to hear it," I said.

"I am thundering well not going to tell you anyway.  You two men ought
to be in bed, I am going to find some one who is not half asleep," Ward
answered, and he went away with unnecessary noise.

Both Collier and I had promised to go to Lambert's rooms after dinner
on that evening; he had asked us because he said we ought to have a
talk about the freshers' wine, but we knew well enough that he intended
to twang his wretched banjo and sing little love songs which made the
night hideous.  If only he would have sung comic things he might not
have caused such wholesale pain, though I should not like to speak
positively upon that point.  I did not go to this entertainment
immediately after dinner, and when I arrived I found the usual gang,
Ward, Dennison and Collier, and one other man who turned out to be
Bunny Langham.  Everybody except Collier was playing a game of cards
called "Bank," the chief merit of which is its simplicity.  The dealer
puts some money into the pool and deals three cards to each player, who
can bet up to the amount in the pool that one of his cards will beat
the card which the dealer turns up against him.  All that seemed to
happen was that Bunny Langham kept on saying, "I'll go the whole
shoot," and then complained violently of his luck.  It was no game for
me and I looked to Collier for amusement, but he had got a bottle of
French plums in his lap and was engaged in trying to get them out with
a fork which was too short for the job.  The banjo had been put back
into its case, and though it was not amusing to see four men play cards
and Collier over-eating himself, I was content to see the banjo put
away for the night, so I got the most comfortable chair I could grasp
and waited until somebody thought it was time to go to bed.  I sat
facing Bunny Langham, and as there was nothing else to do I watched him
losing his money, and I should think he was what is called a very good
loser.  He was a most curious-looking man and wore eyeglasses which did
not seem powerful enough, for when he wanted to take any money from the
pool or--which happened more frequently--pay something into it, he took
them off and put up a single eyeglass which he managed with the skill
of one to whom it was a necessity and not an inconvenience.  His
complexion was pink and white, and he had a small patch of piebald hair
over his right car, which in some lights looked like a rosette.  But in
spite of his odd appearance there was something attractive in his face;
it must, I think, have been either his expression or his forehead, for
it certainly was not his chin, and a nose never looks its best when
shadowed by pince-nez.  Dennison was the only winner at the table, and
smiled benignly round him when he was not lighting his pipe.  Lambert
threw his money about with a magnificent air more comical than
impressive, and Jack Ward seemed to be the one man whose attention was
riveted on the game.  When a remark was made on any subject except bad
luck, Ward broke in asking some one how much they were going to stake
or telling Bunny, who never seemed to know what was going to happen
next, that they were waiting for him.  I thought "Bank" must be the
dreariest of all card games, but it was nearly twelve o'clock before
Langham got up and said he must go.  When the game was over I asked
Ward how much he had won over Dainty Dick, and at once there was a roar
of laughter.

"He lost over three pounds," Dennison said

"But how did he manage that?" I asked, for my knowledge of racing being
limited I did not understand how he could have backed the winner of
this race and yet lost money.

"Why Dainty Dick started at three to one on, so he only won about
thirty shillings, and he lost a fiver backing The Philosopher.  I
thought he had made a fortune by the way he was talking at dinner,"
Dennison answered.

For a moment Ward looked furious, and the exultant way in which
Dennison told me what had happened must have annoyed him tremendously.
I felt that Dennison with his seraphic smile was a much bigger idiot
than Ward, so I said, "Well, I can't see where the joke comes in, I
think it is thundering rough luck," which remark I considered rather
noble, for I did think that Ward had been scored off beautifully, only
Dennison gibing at him was such a sickening sight that I thought I
would put off the few words I meant having with him about Dainty Dick
until we were alone.

After Bunny Langham had gone we began to discuss the freshers' wine,
but Jack Ward looked so down on his luck that I let him arrange what he
liked, though as Collier said to me afterwards, Ward only thought he
was deciding everything while Dennison really managed the whole affair
and simply twisted him round his fingers.

"Dennison is as clever as a wagon load of monkeys," Collier complained,
"he looks like a baby and is as cunning as a Chinaman.  I wonder how we
can put up with him."

I wondered, too, and I should think everybody else, except Dennison
himself, found it difficult to explain his popularity.  For he was
popular, and since no other reason occurs to me I expect the fact that
he was always ready to play the piano must have helped him, Lambert on
his banjo was enough to depress a crowd of Sunday-school children at
their annual treat, but Dennison played the kind of music which made
Collier, Ward and me, who were not exactly musical, feel that we could
sing quite well.  At Cliborough I had established a record by being the
first boy who had tried to get into the school choir and failed, but
the man who made me sing "Ah, ah, ah," until I really could not go on
any longer had told me that I should have a voice some day.  Perhaps he
said that out of kindness, but when Dennison played I always remembered
it, and forgot that when I sang in church people sitting in front of me
had been known to look round as if hymns were not made to be sung.

If discussion beforehand helps to make an entertainment successful our
freshers' wine ought to have been a colossal success.  For days the
thing seemed to pervade the air and I got horribly tired of it, though
Collier, who had been given rooms which compared with mine were
palatial, had more reason to be sick than I had.  Collier had not only
a certain amount of space at his disposal but also a piano, and if
either of us had been any use at guessing we might have known that his
rooms would have been chosen.  I may as well say now that if any one of
the freshers who had been invited had also possessed a little sense
Collier's rooms would not have been chosen, but the last thing we
thought of was a row, until we got into one, which is one of the
advantages of being a fresher.

Dennison and Ward finally asked about fifteen men to the wine, and on
the appointed night we met in Collier's rooms.  It was perhaps not so
great a privilege to receive an invitation as we thought it was,
because each man who accepted had to pay more than the thing was worth.
However, there was no doubt that it was well done, Ward had been to
Spinney's shop in the Turl and had benefited by Spinney's experience,
and Dennison with the assistance of Collier's scout, and in spite of
Collier's mild protests, had prepared the rooms in a way which made me
wonder where the owner of them was going to sleep.

There was a tradition at St. Cuthbert's, and a tradition seems to me a
very dangerous possession unless carefully watched, that no wine was
complete without a large bowl of milk punch.  Ward had been told this
by Spinney, who took what he called a fatherly interest in St.
Cuthbert's, though it must be an exorbitant kind of interest which
makes a man recommend a lot of freshers, or anybody else, to mix punch
with champagne and port.  Spinney had also provided a terrific amount
of fruit and other things, and if Collier's room had only been big
enough to provide space for all of us and for what we were expected to
eat and drink, I think our wine at the start would have been a most
imposing display.  As it was everybody thought it had been done well
except Collier, who told me to look in his bedroom.  I looked without
seeing the bed, which was so piled up with superfluities that they
nearly touched the ceiling.

"When this orgie is over," Collier said, "every one will have forgotten
that I have to go to bed to-night."

"I will stay and help you," I answered, for I was in the mood when
anything seems to be possible.

We went back into the "sitter," where everybody was already beginning
to eat and, I suppose, to enjoy themselves.  There were not enough
chairs to go round, but there is always the floor, and a man who won't
sit on the floor when there is nothing else to sit upon is no use at an
Oxford wine.  Some men even prefer the floor, but that usually happens
later on in the evening.  Ward began the musical part of the
entertainment by singing "John Peel," his voice was admirable, because
it was loud without being very good, and nobody had the discomfort of
wondering whether they could sing well enough to join in the chorus.  I
like a place where you can fairly bellow without hearing your own
voice.  A man called Webb, who had a mole on his forehead and had been
at Cliborough with me, sang the next song, but it was a sentimental
thing, and had a chorus with some high notes in it, an unsuitable
choice which fell flat, and when it was over Webb sat down by me in
disgust, and helped himself lavishly to punch by way of consolation.  I
told Webb that he had taken Lambert's seat, because Lambert for some
other reason had also been helping himself lavishly to punch, and had
become argumentative and almost quarrelsome.  Webb, however, said that
he was not going to move, and when Lambert returned Dennison had to
play the piano very lustily to drown the discussion which took place.
Lambert was six feet two and angry, Webb was the same height and
obstinate, both of them had been drinking punch, and if Ward had not
intervened by asking Lambert to sing, I believe an unexpected item
would have formed part of our programme.  Lambert sang, or rather tried
to sing, and broke down several times; no one minded and he received
tremendous encouragement to go on, but he fancied himself as a singer
and at last became very indignant and abusive.  He was then given
champagne to soothe him, and sat on the floor with a very sad
expression, and his legs stretched out in front of him.  Collier threw
a fig at him which he caught and threw back, hitting another man on the
cheek, figs began to fly about the room until Ward begged everybody not
to make a horrible rag before we had properly begun.  Collier went
round on his hands and knees collecting figs and calling himself a fool
for spoiling his own carpet.  Most people gave him a shove with their
feet when he came near them, which sent him on to his back and
prevented his collection from being a good one.

Then Dennison began to play "The Gondoliers," which was the popular
comic opera of the day.  Solos were dispensed with, and each chorus was
sung many times.  The wine was evidently a huge success, the noise was
magnificent, and everybody was reasonably peaceful.  No one noticed
that Lambert and Webb were now sitting side by side on the floor,
swearing eternal friendship and requiring champagne in which to pledge
each other, until Webb got hold of the idea that he was Leander trying
to swim the Hellespont, and Collier poured a jug of water over his head
so that he might make the scene more realistic.

One or two men went quietly away, saying that it was getting late.  The
music stopped for a moment, while Dennison walked about the room
seeking refreshment and finding very little.  The noise subsided so
much that a knock was heard, and a scout poked his head into the room
and spoke to Dennison who was standing by the door.  Every one asked
what he wanted, and Dennison assured us that it did not matter, which
we were all inclined to believe with the exception of Ward, who went to
the piano and began the National Anthem.  It was the only tune he could
play, and he had to take infinite pains to get the right notes, so he
was forcibly removed, and Dennison installed in his place.  "The
Gondoliers" and the noise began again, while Ward, protesting that it
was time we went away, was disregarded entirely.  From sheer distaste
for punch and only a very limited taste for wine I had not been seeking
my enjoyment in drinking, but I had smoked far more than was good for
me, and my head felt as large as a pumpkin.  It occurred to me,
however, that if Ward wished our entertainment to close he was sure to
be right, so I pulled over Dennison backwards from the piano.  That
caused a very fair hubbub and did not do much good, since everybody
began to sing what they liked, without music.

Ward went round persuading men to go, until Lambert, Webb, Collier,
Ward, Dennison and I were the only ones remaining.  Collier was heavy
with sleep, but Lambert and Webb, who still sat on the floor with their
backs propped up against a sofa, were full of song.  Dennison sulked in
a corner; he told me afterwards that I had hurt his head.  Ward and I
by violent efforts got Lambert and Webb upon their legs and propped
them up against each other.  They stood singing, "For he's a jolly good
fellow," and looking extraordinarily foolish.  At last we got them to
the door and shoved them out, but unfortunately the Sub-Warden, who had
a habit of being in the wrong place, was standing outside the room, and
Lambert, who most certainly looked upon him as an old friend, put an
arm round him, and hurried him at break-neck speed down the stairs.
Webb followed, and when I got into the quadrangle he was on one side of
the Subby and Lambert on the other.

They were persuading him to dance.  I tried to seize Lambert, while
Ward went for Webb; but as I did so they suddenly released their man,
and instead of grabbing Lambert I got my arm entangled in the Subby's.
I let it go quickly, but he recognized me, and said something about a
disgraceful occurrence.  It would have been giving Lambert and Webb
away to tell him that I was acting the part of rescuer, so I stood
looking at him, while Ward drove the other two men out of the
quadrangle.  As he did not say anything I expressed a hope that he was
not hurt, but it was more from a wish to prove myself sober than from
any anxiety as to his condition that I made the remark.  I thought he
understood this, for he neither answered nor wished me good-night when
he went back to his staircase.  I was afraid he had been considerably
jolted and was not quite himself.  I turned round after watching him
out of sight, and found Murray standing by my side.

"You had better come to bed," he said, and his tone suggested that I
was incapable of looking after myself, so I told him that I was as
sober as a judge.

"I waited up for you," he said.

"To see if you could be of any use, I suppose," I asked ungraciously.

"And when Lambert and Webb began to shout the back quad down, I came
out to see what had happened.  What were you talking to the Subby
about?"

"Our arms got interlocked," I replied, as we walked over to our
staircase.  "The fact is the Subby ought to go to bed in decent time."

"He could hardly be expected to sleep with a wine going on in the rooms
below him."

"I forgot all about that."

"And so apparently did everybody else who was there, though I should
have thought the scout would have warned Collier."

"Dennison managed the whole thing, I said, and you can thank your stars
you can go to bed without the prospect of a row and a thundering
headache."

Then I went into my room and sported my oak, for the rumblings of
Lambert and Webb could still be heard in the quadrangle.



CHAPTER VI

JACK WARD AND DENNISON

The morning following the wine was no morning for me.  Of course I
awoke with a headache, but that was nothing in comparison with a
general feeling that the day was not likely to be a peaceful one.  I
lay awake and thought over matters as well as I could until Clarkson
came in to put my bath.  Then I pretended to be asleep, but out of the
corner of my eye I saw him looking at me and I conceived a great
dislike for him.  He seemed to think I was a curiosity of some kind.
He tidied my room, and having finished he asked if I should be taking
breakfast.  I sat up in bed and inquired why he supposed I did not want
breakfast, and my question, I flatter myself, surprised him
considerably.  I told him to get me twice as much breakfast as usual
and to be quick, but while I was dressing I wondered how I should eat
it, so I went into Murray's room and persuaded him to breakfast with
me.  Murray had already begun to eat, but when I explained to him that
this was a little matter between Clarkson and myself, and that it would
not do for me to be scored off, he agreed to come.  Clarkson, however,
was a difficult man to defeat; he provided enough breakfast for four
men, and though I bustled him as much as I could and was very
dictatorial, I could see that he was quietly amused.  Murray ate for
all he was worth, but the amount of food which Clarkson carried away
for his hungry family was evidence enough to prove who had won the
battle.

Conversation did not play any conspicuous part in that meal, but I told
Murray that if everybody at the wine had been as sensible as Ward we
should have got through without any row.  "My opinion of Ward has
changed," I said more than once, for Murray was not inclined to give
him any credit and he certainly deserved some.

At ten o'clock I went to a lecture, and when I returned I found a note
from the Sub-Warden asking me to call upon him at noon.  It was
precisely what I expected, but the prospects of another row depressed
me.  The morning was dark and rainy, and my room was so dismal that I
stood on the ledge outside my window and leant against the parapet.  It
was neither a comfortable nor a very safe position, but it suited my
mood.  I looked down on the back quadrangle below me and watched for
something interesting to happen.  I had not been up long enough to know
that my wish was not likely to be gratified, nothing exciting ever does
happen in Oxford during the morning, or if it does I was always
unfortunate enough to miss it.

A man in a scholar's gown hurried across the quadrangle, rushed up a
staircase, and came back with a note-book in his hand.  The Warden came
out of his house and stood upon his doorstep as if he was trying to
remember what he wanted to do.  Then he turned round and went into the
house again.  Miss Davenport, the Warden's sister, a lady who was
reported to be talkative and in love, came out and observed the
weather.  Two minutes afterwards she appeared in a mackintosh, which
was thoroughly business-like.  She was most obviously bent on shopping.
Two men, regardless of the rain, strolled out of the front quadrangle
and shouted for Dennison, who did not come to his window.  I told them
that he was probably in bed, and they answered that I should fall over
if I did not look out.  It was all most painfully dull, and I was just
going in when the Subby appeared and went into the Warden's house.  I
could guess the reason for that visit, and waited to see no more.  I
sat down by the fire and tried to think out what I should say to the
Subby, and what he would say to me.  I did not know much about him
except that his name was Webster, and that he was a great authority on
Etruscan pottery, facts which did not help me much.  He also had one of
the finest stamp collections in the world, but I had never collected
anything for more than a week at a time.  I felt that he was a
difficult man to gauge, because he had never been what I considered a
sportsman.  His appearance at any rate was not imposing, and I was
depressed enough to feel thankful for very small mercies.  If dons only
remembered what men feel like after their first wine, they would
scarcely be hard-hearted enough to inflict further penalties upon them.
But it was the vocation of the Subby to keep order in the college, and
some one had told me that rowdy men were his pet abomination.  He
regarded St. Cuthbert's as the intellectual centre of Oxford, and
Oxford as the intellectual centre of the world.  No wonder the poor man
looked serious and seldom smiled, for he must have had a lot to think
about.  He covered up his eyes with enormous spectacles, and the lower
part of his face with a straggling moustache and beard, you got neither
satisfaction nor information from looking at him.

It was nearly twelve o'clock before I saw any of the men who had been
at the wine, and then Ward and Collier came into my rooms.  I was still
sitting by the fire, and Ward, who would have gibed at my gloom under
ordinary conditions, simply told me that I didn't look very cheerful,
and sat down on the edge of the table, which tilted up and nearly
placed him on the floor.  Collier threw himself into the nearest chair,
and pulling a pipe out of his pocket, carefully rubbed the bowl of it,
but showed no anxiety to smoke, and considering that I felt as if I
should never smoke again, I was not surprised.

"I should like to flay Lambert, Webb, and Dennison alive," Collier said
quite solemnly.

"I've got to go to the Subby in ten minutes," I said, and Collier's
face brightened.

"I didn't think you would have to go," Ward remarked; "what an infernal
nuisance, and why has he sent for you?"

"I tried to rescue the stupid man from Lambert and Webb, and got
entangled in his blessed arm.  He was as sick as blazes, and I shall
hear more stuff about being an exhibitioner," I answered.

"The man's a fool," Collier said, "but the biggest ass in the place is
Dennison.  He knew the Subby was out to dinner, and wouldn't be back
till goodness knows when, but he must go on and kick up a row on that
piano after he knew the Subby was in his rooms.  And the beauty of it
is that Dennison hasn't been sent for.  I call it a confounded shame.
We have just been round to see him, and the brute is still in bed as
fit as anything, and thinks it the best joke he has heard for ages.  He
wouldn't see much humour in it if he went and smelt my rooms."

"Who has been sent for?" I asked.

"You, Collier, Lambert, and Webb," Ward replied.

"Not you?"

"I have seen the Subby already.  I met him in the quad and asked if I
might speak to him."

"Was he furious?" I inquired.

"I tried to explain things to him; he was not altogether furious, but
stuck on a sort of injured dignity business which was rather funny."

"It isn't likely a man would want to be danced down-stairs by Lambert
and Webb," Collier said; "I wonder they didn't break his neck, and it
would have been a thundering good job if they had smashed themselves."

I got up and seized my gown, leaving Collier to continue his wishes for
the destruction of Lambert and Webb if he felt inclined.  At any other
time they would have amused me, for Collier was generally difficult to
move in any way, and he was quite funny when his indignation could be
roused.

I am not going to describe my interview with the Subby at any length.
He listened patiently to what I had to say, but if a man came to me and
said that he had caught hold of me by accident I confess that I should
think it a poor sort of story.  I could not tell him that I was trying
to save him from Lambert and Webb, because that would have been
contrary to what I should have expected them to say about me, if the
positions had been reversed.  The Subby ought to have guessed it for
himself and rewarded me, but he had been so hustled that it was perhaps
too much to expect him to guess anything.  My reputation for work
seemed to have been of the worst.  There was no denying that the Subby
and I had been entangled, and it was no use for me to say that it was
his fault.  I spoke of it as a very unfortunate occurrence, and I
assured him most warmly that it should not happen again.  Assurances of
that kind do not, I should say, count for much.  He was so occupied by
the importance of what had passed, that I could not make him see that
the future was also important.  And I did try hard to point this out to
him, I regretted much, I promised more, and I meant everything I said
most honestly.  I had never been so penitent before, but I must at the
same time admit that I had never previously felt quite so unwell.

Perhaps my protestations had some effect, for my sentence was that I
should be gated for three weeks, and I received also what must, when
translated into simple English, have been a warning that unless I
changed the errors of my ways my exhibition would be taken away from
me.  The Subby jawed badly, he was not to be compared with Mr.
Edwardes, and he hesitated and coughed, until once or twice I was
almost inclined to help him out, for I knew what he was going to say
and he fidgeted me.  I was, however, in too great a hole to risk much,
so as soon as he began I remained silent and hoped steadily that he
would either end soon or be interrupted.  He did not know how to begin
or when to finish, and if Collier had not knocked at the door and come
into the room, it seemed to me that nothing but the pangs of hunger
would have warned him that he had said enough.

I have never seen a more welcome arrival than Collier's, because I had
really been with the Subby a very long time, and to stand with an
attentive expression for ten minutes at a stretch and listen to the
usual remarks is in its way quite a feat.  I found Ward waiting for me
in the front quad, and he asked at once what had happened to me.

"Gated for three weeks," I answered; "I suppose I ought to consider
myself lucky, he might have sent me down."

"It knocks all your fun on the head," he said, "being in by nine
o'clock every night is average rot."

"It won't matter to me, I am going to settle down and read for a first
in Mods," and I turned into the common room and picked up _The
Sportsman_.  There were no other men in the room, and Ward stood in
front of the fire and kept looking at me as if he wanted to say
something and could not manage to begin.  I read the names of the
'Varsity XV. chosen to play that afternoon against Richmond, and saw
that Foster was still among them.

"Fred Foster's going to get his blue," I said.

"Who the deuce wants to get a blue?" Ward replied.

"Well, it's better than getting into rows, anyway," I retorted.

"You seem to have taken this thing very quietly," he said, "don't you
see that your being dropped on is a most wretched swindle.  Lambert and
Webb are only gated for three weeks."

"It doesn't make a tuppenny-ha'penny bit of difference to me what has
happened to them.  If they had been gated for two years it wouldn't
give me any satisfaction."

"But they had been mixing all kinds of drink."

"And the Subby thinks I had," I said.

"But you hadn't."

"No, but that doesn't make any difference.  The Subby may be a fair
ass, but I caught hold of him, and I must be a bigger fool than he is.
It's the last time I ever try to rescue a don."

Two senior men, Bagshaw and Crane came into the room and overheard my
last remark, so I had to tell them the whole thing over again.  Both of
them laughed tremendously, but Crane, who was captain of the college
cricket eleven, and President of the Mohocks, which was the
inappropriate name of the St. Cuthbert's wine club, seemed to be more
amused at the solemn way I told the story, while Bagshaw said he would
have given anything to have seen the Subby rushing down-stairs.  They
laughed loudly, and as soon as I could escape I went back to my rooms,
leaving Jack Ward to talk to them.

For once I wanted to be by myself, but there was no shaking off Ward
that morning, and he turned up again in about ten minutes and said that
he had told his scout to bring his lunch round to my rooms.  I had
struggled nobly with breakfast, but I hated the suggestion of more food
and told him he had better go and eat somewhere else.  My head ached
abominably, and I wanted to sit by the fire and go to sleep.  Ward,
however, decided that I wanted cheering up, though how he was likely to
enliven me by eating when I had no appetite he did not tell me.  As a
matter of fact cheering me up was only an excuse, what he really wanted
to do was to give me the explanation which he thought I must be
expecting.  If he had known me better he would not have expected me to
wait for anything, had I imagined any explanation was necessary I
should have asked him for it at once.  But I was not taking any
interest in explanations, my mouth felt like a cinder, and when some
man had met me in the quad and told me I looked "precious cheap," which
is an expression I detest, I had not the energy to retaliate.

Ward, having eaten his luncheon and gulped down a most horrible
quantity of beer, lit a cigarette, and sat down by the fire.

"You must think me a most awful brute for having got out of this row,"
he began.  I told him that if he felt as I did, he would think
everybody in the world was a brute.

"Well, you see," he went on, "I got the thing up and the Subby didn't
send for me."

"It was Dennison's fault," I said, for I saw no good in dividing the
blame, "and if a man can't take his luck in these things he is no use
to anybody.  My luck's always vile, but that doesn't matter to any one
except me, and I am used to it."

He took no notice of what I said, and continued, "So I told the Subby
it was my fault, but when I saw him I thought only Collier, Webb and
Lambert had been nailed."

I roused myself and looked at Ward, who was staring into the fire.

"You are a fool," I stated, but I didn't mean it.

"I had to do it or I should have felt awful," he said, and then he
jumped up and banged round the room, tossing things about and failing
to catch them.

He stood in a new light, and it took me some time to digest what he had
told me.  Of all the men I had met since coming to Oxford I should have
said that Jack Ward was the one who would watch his own interests most
closely, and he had upset all my opinions by walking into a quite
unnecessary row.

"Why did you do it?" I asked him, and I added, "it isn't as if you
could do anybody else any good," for it is at first very perplexing to
find a man doing exactly the reverse of what you expect.

"I have told you why I did it, I should have felt so confoundedly mean
if I hadn't.  But while I was with the Subby I wish I had known that he
had nailed you as well, because I might have told him that you hate
drinking.  A don seems to me to have the fixed idea that freshers
naturally drink too much, at least that was the impression the Subby
gave me."

"What happened to you?"

"I'm gated for a fortnight, and he talked a lot of tommy-rot."

"Well, I think it is most frightfully decent of you," I said.

"Oh, shut up," Ward answered, "I can't stand that.  I have never done
anything of the kind before and shan't again.  I simply couldn't have
faced you men if I hadn't owned up, and that ends it."

At that moment Dennison walked in wearing an enormous overcoat and a
Wellingham scarf round his neck, he looked as beautifully pink as ever,
and I hated the sight of him.

"This is such a blighted day that I am going to watch a footer match,"
he said, "it amuses me to see thirty people tumbling about in the mud,
and we can go and play pool at Wright's when we have had enough, if you
will come."

I did not intend to tell Dennison that I was ill, so I said I would go
if Ward would come with us, and as soon as we got into the Broad and
the rain fairly beat upon us, I began to feel much better and more
capable of being disagreeable to Dennison.  I was in the state of mind
which makes one anxious to be unpleasant, the sort of mood in which
horrid people abuse servants or try to kick animals, and I was glad to
have Dennison, who deserved every rudeness imaginable, at my disposal.
But the worst of feeling so thoroughly disagreeable is that you are
ashamed of yourself so quickly.  I am either violently angry or not
angry at all, and it is the people who are good at sulks and call them
dignity who get their own way in this world.  I once tried to be
dignified at home, and I am not inclined to repeat the experiment; my
father told me not to be a fool, my sister walked about as if wrestling
with suppressed laughter, and my mother offered me various medicines.
Rudeness is my _rôle_, its intention is not so easily mistaken.

So I hung on to Dennison very earnestly, and though Ward did all he
knew to keep the peace, I had managed before we reached the Parks, to
convince both of them that our walk was a mistake.

We went to the far end of the ground where very few spectators were
standing, for an Oxford crowd always collect behind the goal of the
visiting side, hoping magnificently that by those means they will see
most of the game.  It is very noble of them, but they are sometimes
disappointed, and this happened to be one of the days on which those
who were behind the 'Varsity goal-posts saw a good deal more than they
wanted.  For the day was made for the Richmond XV., who were big, bulky
men, very heavy in the scrimmage, and the three-quarter backs on both
sides spent most of their time trying to keep warm.  Dennison said he
was bored to death, and I told him Richmond never were any good outside
the scrum and were playing a jolly good game.  He answered that he was
not a Football Encyclopaedia, and I assured him that he never could be
anything half so useful.  We kept up this kind of conversation for some
time, while Ward stamped his feet and asked us to stop.

"How long have you been gated for?" I asked Dennison suddenly,
springing the question upon him as had been the habit of one master at
Cliborough when he was going to ask me something very embarrassing.
Ward hit me in the ribs with his elbow, and Dennison pretended not to
hear, so I moved a little further from Ward and repeated my question.
"The Subby didn't send for me," he replied; "I wasn't caught and I made
no row to speak of."

"Oh well, if you like to get out of the whole thing it has nothing to
do with me," I said, and the thought suddenly struck me that if I
really goaded Dennison into giving up his name I should feel a brute
for the rest of my existence.  What I wanted to do was to prove that
Ward was worth about ten of him, but it is very uphill work trying to
convince a man that he is only a fraction of the fellow he thinks
himself, I have often seen people going sorrowfully away from tasks of
that kind.

"There is no question of getting out of it," Dennison said quite
calmly, "because I have never been in it."

"No question at all," Ward put in.

"At any rate you arranged it," I retorted.

"And the very deuce of a job it was," he replied.

"Of course it was," Ward said, and though I imagined I was out of
elbow-shot I got another blow which did nothing to improve my temper.

"It's like this," I began, "Ward went to the Subby and said----"  But
Ward burst in with, "By Jove, that is about the tenth time that man
Foster has fallen on the ball, and now I believe he's hurt."

For quite two minutes Fred lay on the ground, and I forgot all about
Dennison and the exasperating mood I was in.  At last he got up and
moved about in a dazed condition, while some people clapped and others,
more enthusiastic than anxious, began to shout, "Now then, 'Varsity."
The game went on again, but my desire to be nasty had vanished, and I
found that I had moved away from Ward and Dennison.  When I returned to
them I found that my interrupted remark had created a greater
disturbance than I had expected.  Dennison was fuming like anything,
and so far was he from thinking that Ward and I had a grievance against
him that he was treating himself as a thoroughly injured man.

"It is a pretty low down game," he was saying to Ward, when I came
back, "for you to go and give your name up to the Subby and tell me
nothing about it.  What do you think everybody will be saying about me?
Marten has been talking to me as if I was a pick-pocket, while you were
standing there and thinking yourself a sort of tin hero.  If you want
to know what I think you are, my opinion is that you're a confounded
fool, but since you have done this I must go and see the Subby when I
get back to college."

This is only an expurgated copy of what Dennison said, as a matter of
fact he called Ward and me much worse names than a pick-pocket, and
qualified them with adjectives too violent to be recorded.

I looked blankly at Ward, who had his head down and looked thoroughly
ashamed of himself.

"It is one of the few times in my life," he said, "when I have tried to
do the right thing, and it seems to have been all wrong."

There was only one line to take, and I started on it at once.  "That's
rot," I began, "because you suggested the whole thing, and if you felt
like owning up to it no one else has any right to swear at you.
Dennison is altogether different, and if he goes to the Subby everybody
else will have to go.  We are like a lot of school-boys."

I thought my last remark a sound one, for Dennison pretended to despise
boys, because he said they always got up so late for morning school
that they had not time to wash properly.  There was always a faint
smell of scent about Dennison, which did not make me take much notice
of his opinion about school-boys.

I cannot even now tell whether he was really angry or whether he was
just pretending a rage to put us into a hole.  I did find out
afterwards that he knew all the time that Ward had given up his name,
so if he pretended one thing I do not see why he should not have
pretended another.  But the result was the same whether he was shamming
or not.  Ward and I implored him not to go to the Subby, for quite ten
minutes during that damp and shivery afternoon we besought him to leave
things as they were.  And at last with great reluctance he gave way,
and to please us he said that he would forgive Ward for having done
rather a mean thing, and he pardoned me for having been so rude.  Of
course we were most properly taken in, but that was the fate of most
men who had much to do with Dennison, and I was so glad to be at peace
once more that it did not occur to me then that Ward and I were two
colossal idiots.

I went round to see Foster after the match, but found that he was going
to dine early with the Richmond team, so he did not tell me anything
except that he had got a splitting headache.  Each time I had been to
see him for the last fortnight he had either been out, just going out,
or had a room full of men with him.  Whenever he had come to see me the
same kind of things had happened, so we had not managed to have one
respectable talk together.  I determined that this was most
unsatisfactory, so after dinner I wrote him a note, asking him to go
for a walk with me on the following day, and then I went to see Jack
Ward.  My opinion of him had been changing all day, and as I went to
his room I felt that whatever Foster and Murray said about him, he was
at bottom a splendid sort.  Roulette was going on in his rooms, and the
usual crowd were playing.  Ward was banker, and he did not even ask me
to play, but roulette is a very difficult game to watch without
playing, and after black had come up six times consecutively, I thought
it must be red's turn.  It was not, however, and five times I lost my
money; then I had sense enough to stop for a bit until the numbers
began to fascinate me, and I picked nineteen, being my age.  A lot of
people may say I was old enough to know better, but it is so easy to
make remarks of that kind, and until they find something a little less
stale, they will never do any good.  I stood by the table at first, and
then sat down and made up my mind to get my money back.  I tried
everything in turn, but luck was dead against me, and Ward once or
twice said he wished I would win something.  In the end I lost nearly
six pounds, and went back to my rooms a sorrowful man.  Before I went
into my bedder I looked at my cheque-book, and it gave me no
satisfaction.  I had borrowed four pounds from Ward, and I wrote him a
cheque for the amount, and laying it on the table beside me, I sat
thinking.  My door was wide open, and I must have been nearly asleep,
for I did not see any one come into my room, and a hand falling on my
shoulder surprised me.  I looked up and saw Ward standing by my side.

"Sorry to wake you up," he said, "but I felt like coming to see you."
He saw the cheque made out to him, and taking it from the table he tore
it into bits.

"You have wasted a penny," I said, for I could not help guessing what
he meant.

"I don't want to take your money," he replied, "and for heaven's sake
don't make me."

He was most desperately in earnest, but the mere fact that I should
have taken his without a thought of returning it, settled the little
argument which followed.

"I can't help gambling," he said, "but I wish to goodness you wouldn't."

"But only a few days ago you sneered at me for not backing a horse," I
retorted, for though it was very good of him, I felt he was treating me
like an infant.

"I never asked you to," he said, "and I should like to have one friend
who doesn't bet or play cards or anything."

"There's Collier," I suggested.

"He is different," Ward answered, and I suppose I wanted him to say
something like that.

We talked for an hour, at least Ward talked and I listened, but during
the years to come I always remembered what he said about himself on
that night.



CHAPTER VII

THE INN AT SAMPFORD

I do not suppose that my waking thoughts could be called valuable, for
my habit is to lie in bed and wonder vaguely what time it is, and if
you start the day in that way and write it solemnly on paper you may
just as well keep a diary of what you had for luncheon and where you
had tea and all that kind of twaddle, which people write because
blotting paper is provided on the opposite page.  But on the morning
following my conversation with Ward I woke up with the sort of feeling
which ought to have been of value to some one, because it was such a
mixture that I could not stay in bed.  It was the kind of sensation
with which I wake when I am going to cross the Channel, only it did not
make me rush to my window to see how much wind there was.  Nothing I
have been told is easier in this life than to make a mountain out of a
molehill, but in my short experience it is the wretched little
molehills which upset me and not the great big things which sweep me
away with them.  I would rather have to fight one mountain than two
molehills any day, you get so much more sympathy after the struggle.
But I must admit that it is not always easy to tell when people will
sympathize with you, for I remember that my brother was once in a
railway accident, and though he got nothing more than a slight jolt he
was considered a hero for a long time, while, a few days later, I sat
upon a pin and hurt myself quite badly, but was told by my nurse not to
be silly.

During that morning I had a most disagreeable experience.  For the
first time in my life I was conscious that I had done something for
which there was not the least shadow of an excuse, and I found myself
trying to guess what my feelings would have been had I been a winner
instead of a loser at roulette.  There is nothing very profitable in
trying to imagine what would have happened if things had turned out
differently, at the best it is a waste of time, but all the same it is
a game which I, and others I know, play very often.  I came to the
conclusion that had I won I should have been rather pleased with
myself, it is so easy to excuse oneself for winning money, while losing
it seems to be foolishly immoral.  I made no resolutions for the
future, because on the few occasions I have tried to fortify myself in
that way, something has occurred to upset me, and Mr. Sandyman, who was
my housemaster at Cliborough and very wise, told me once that the
weaker the man the more frequent his resolutions.  He did not believe
so much in pledges and promises as in a boy's honour; if a boy had not
a sense of honour no promise on earth could be of any real use to him.

I wished that I had Mr. Sandyman to advise me, but if I had been able
to go to him I do not suppose I should have gone, for although I was
ashamed of myself, I did not think that I had committed any great
offence.  I had just been a fool, and with that decision from which,
odd as it may seem, I derived great satisfaction, I passed on to the
next thing which was bothering me.

I think it was Solomon who said there was safety in a multitude of
counsellors, and I wonder what he would have said about a multitude of
friends, some of whom could not bear the sight of the others.  Ward,
hated Murray, and Foster hated Ward, Collier said he hated Dennison,
and Dennison said Collier looked more like a pig than a human being.
Lambert confided to me that there was hardly a man at St. Cuthbert's
whom he would care to introduce to his sister, but as he said the same
thing to Ward, Dennison and Collier, leaving each of them with the
impression that he was the one man who was considered worthy of an
introduction, it was no use to take any notice of Lambert.  I condoled
with him on having such a remarkably exclusive sister, but he did not
take my sympathy in the proper spirit.

My friends were most certainly getting out of hand.  In St. Cuthbert's,
Murray was the most sensible of the lot, because he enjoyed himself in
a steady sort of way, saw the humorous side of everything and went to
bed in decent time.  I knew just where I was with Murray, he was always
glad to see me in his rooms, and he kept his opinions about Ward and
Dennison to himself, unless I simply pumped them out of him.  No one
who did not object to fat men because they were fat could help liking
Collier, he was so comfortable and peaceful, and Lambert, with his
magnificent opinion of himself, which he expressed frequently in a
half-comical, half-serious fashion, was to me more like a man on the
stage than an ordinary undergraduate.  From morning to night Lambert
was self-conscious, even at the wine, when he was sitting on the floor
with Webb, he did not forget to shoot down his cuffs.  I have already
said that Dennison played the piano, he was also considered a wit, and
fired off things which Lambert said were epigrams, but Collier, who was
full of curious information, declared that most of them were adapted
from the Book of Proverbs.  However that may be, Dennison had a
reputation as a conversationalist, which meant that he wanted to talk
all the time.  He bored me terribly.

But the man who really worried me was Ward.  At first I had thought
that he merely wanted to amuse himself, and did not care what he did as
long as he got some fun out of it.  He did not seem to trouble what men
he knew if they were useful to him, and having come to that conclusion
about him, I felt that as far as he and I were concerned there was
nothing else to bother about.  It was not any wonder to me that Foster,
who only knew him slightly, disliked him most vigorously, but when Ward
came, asking me to take my money back and showing all the best side of
his nature, he gave me more to think about than I wanted.  An entirely
different man had appeared, acknowledging himself a gambler, and not
pretending to be sorry--for which I liked him--but with qualities which
I had never suspected.

So occupied was I in wondering how I could persuade Foster to change
his opinion of Ward that I forgot the day was Sunday, and that I had
intended to go to morning chapel and write some letters at the Union.
It was nearly twelve o'clock when Foster came into my rooms and said he
had been waiting for me at Oriel until he was tired of doing nothing.
He seemed to be rather angry, but soon cooled down when he saw me
hurrying up to get ready, and even proposed that we should give up our
walk and just lounge round the Parks.  But I did not feel as if
lounging would do for me, and I told him that I knew a splendid little
inn about six miles off, where we could get luncheon.  He did not need
much persuasion, and we went down Brasenose lane and the High as if we
had never lounged in our lives.  But before we got to the turning to
Iffley we had begun to walk at a speed which did not altogether prevent
conversation.

I think I must have been setting the pace, because I had a great deal
to say to Fred, and did not know exactly how to begin.  He was the
greatest friend I had, and I wanted him to like Ward, but I knew that
when once he had made up his mind about people he very seldom changed
it.  He had liked nearly everybody at Cliborough, but when he disliked
anybody there was something rather huge in the way he had nothing to do
with them.  And he had a habit, which would have annoyed me in any one
else, of being nearly always right.  It was such a complete change for
him to come from Cliborough, where he was easily the most important boy
in the school, to Oxford, where he was practically nobody at all, that
I wondered how he would like it.  So many freshers who have been
important at school think they can bring their importance with them,
but they make the very greatest mistake.  A fresher who thinks a lot of
himself, and lets other men know that he does, is not likely to do
anything but get in his own way.  Foster never had put on any side, but
he had been accustomed to manage things at Cliborough, and I asked him
how he liked being nobody again, as he had been when he first went to
school.

He did not answer me at once, and I had a suspicion that he did not
care about the change, but I was wrong.

"I like it," he said at last; "there is no bother and fuss, and I like
beginning again and being sworn at when I miss the ball.  I want to get
my blue most awfully, but I don't suppose I have got the ghost of a
chance; I never pass at the right time, and everybody here seems to me
to be always off-side."

I assured him that he must have a chance for his blue or he would not
have played so often.

"They look more and more sick with me every time," he answered, "and
each match I play in I expect to be the last.  The only thing which
riles me is that you never know what they think about you, and the
fellow who writes the Oxford notes for _The Globe_ said last week that
the 'Varsity XV. must be badly off if they could not find a better
three-quarter than the Cliborough fresher, or some rot of that kind.
All the men at Oriel who know about things are either cricket or soccer
blues, so I don't hear much about rugger there, though every one is
nice enough and wants me to get into the XV."

"Doesn't Adamson ever speak to you?" I asked, for he was captain of the
'Varsity XV.

"Yes, but it is generally to tell me not to do something.  He is an
'internatter,' you see, and I don't think he ever forgets it, he seems
to me to stick on more side than any one I have ever met.  Most of the
men are all right, but Adamson is a first-class bounder."

"He swore at me pretty freely in the Freshers' match," I said.

"I heard him," Foster returned, "but although you played abominably
then, you are really much better than Sykes of Merton, who has been
playing back for the 'Varsity lately.  He does the most awful things."

"He can't be worse than I am.  I now play three-quarters and am
thinking of chucking the game altogether.  It is such a horrid grind."

"Don't be an idiot, they are bound to spot you here sooner or later,"
Foster said, but he knew as well as I did that I could never stop
playing any game just because it was too much trouble.

"I have made an idiot of myself, already," I replied; and then I told
him all that had been happening at St. Cuthbert's during the last few
days.  I made out myself a bigger fool than I really had been, because
I wanted to show him that Ward was a much better fellow than he thought.

"You have a real gift for getting into rows," he said, when I had
finished; "you seem to have got all the dons on your track already."

"That doesn't worry me," I answered.  "I have only got to work and keep
quiet, and the Subby will think I am as like a machine as he is."

"And you have made up your mind to work?"

"I mean to do a reasonable amount," I replied cautiously.

"It is most awfully difficult to work.  I have done precious little,
and I went fast asleep at a lecture the other morning."

"What was it about?"

"Logic."

"Oh, that's nothing," I assured him.  "I started cutting my logic
lectures altogether until I got dropped on.  I didn't understand a word
the man was saying.  There is heaps of time to work, Mods are nearly a
year and a half off.  What do you think of Ward, after the thing that
happened last night?"

I had to plunge right at it, for Foster had not said a word after I had
told him Ward wanted to give me back my money.

"Don't let us talk about Ward," Foster answered, "you know I don't like
him."

"I knew you didn't like him," I corrected, for I thought that what I
had said ought to make a difference.

"You seem to be egging me on to swear at you, so that you may laugh."

"Oh, skittles," I exclaimed.

"You know perfectly well that you can't afford to gamble."

"That has nothing to do with it, because I am not going to gamble, Jack
Ward himself asked me not to play roulette."

"But Ward belongs to a gambling set----"

"I suppose he can please himself about that," I retorted, and it was
not altogether wise of me.

"And you will always be hearing racing 'shop,' and how much somebody
won, nobody ever talks about their losses until they are stone-broke."

"How do you know?" I asked.

"Your father told me," was the answer, and instead of having got him
into a hole I was badly scored off.

"Everybody has something nasty in him somewhere, Balzac said so, and he
was the sort of chap who knew; if we were all perfect this wouldn't be
earth," I said.

"By Jove, you have been thinking a lot," Foster replied, and he stood
still in the road and laughed until I was very annoyed, for I have
heard other people make remarks of that kind without any one else
smiling.

"It is no use talking seriously to you," I said.

"Platitudes are not your line," he answered, and we were as far off
settling about Ward as ever.  I returned, however, to the main question
with energy, for it seemed to me to be most important that these two
men should not hate each other, if they were to be my friends.  The
gods did not endow me with tact, but they gave me so much courage that
in a short time I can make any situation either very much better or
very much worse.  My mother once took in a paper which contained a Tact
Problem every week, and she asked my sister and me to write down
solutions and see if they were right; mine were wrong five times
consecutively, so I gave up that competition, though in a negative sort
of way I should have been of assistance to any competitor.  I remember
one of these wonderful problems was, 'At an evening party A tells B
that C looks like a criminal.  Shortly afterwards A finds out that C is
B's husband, what ought A to do?'  I said A ought to go and tell B that
he liked criminals; but the answer was, 'A should do nothing.'  I think
it was that problem which persuaded me that I was wasting my time, I
thought it too stupid for words.

I explained to Foster how difficult it would be for me if he would not
change his opinion of Ward, and I talked so much that he said I had
persuaded him that Ward was all right, but I had a kind of feeling that
he said it for the sake of peace.  The day was very warm for November,
and at the end of six miles Foster was not so inclined to resist my
avalanche of words as he was when we left Oxford.  But I knew that
having once said he would try to be friends with Ward, I could rely
upon him.  What he could not understand was the reason why I was so
anxious for him to try, why in short I liked Ward, but I could not
explain that; for if you once start explaining why you are friends with
a man it seems to me to be half-way towards making excuses for
yourself, and should you begin doing that you had better not have any
friends, since those who know you the best will like you the least.  I
have a faculty for liking a large number of people, but if I had to
give reasons why I liked most of them I should be terribly puzzled.
You cannot, it seems to me, reduce friendship to a formula, or if you
can you would knock all the fun out of it.

This was my second visit to the little inn at Sampford, and as soon as
we got there I interviewed the landlord and engaged the sitting-room on
the ground floor.  Foster threw himself upon the sofa and picked up the
book in which visitors write their names and exercise their humour, but
I was so hot that I opened the French windows which led into the garden
and went out.  Only a fortnight before the garden had been full enough
of flowers to satisfy me, but the wind and rain had beaten down
everything, and in spite of the sun it looked bare and desolate.  I
walked across the lawn to a little arbour and surprised two belated
beanfeasters and their ladies.  In appearance the men were aggressive,
their hats were on the backs of their heads, and enormous
chrysanthemums bulged from their buttonholes, and must, I should think,
have been a source of constant irritation to their chins.  The girls
giggled when they saw me, and one of the men asked me what I wanted.  I
told him I was looking for a comfortable place in which to sit down and
that he seemed to have found it first.  The girls giggled again and the
men swore; it was a most commonplace scene.  I went back across the
lawn and was just going to join Foster, when I heard a tremendous burst
of laughter from the room above ours.  There was only one man who could
laugh like that and he was Jack Ward.  At that moment I wished him
anywhere, for I guessed quite rightly that he had driven over to
Sampford with some men whose luncheon would not consist of cold beef
and beer.

I hoped to goodness we should get away without Foster seeing them, so I
began to eat without saying anything, except that there was a most vile
noise up-stairs.  I need not have troubled to say so much since Foster
was not deaf.  I ate my luncheon hurriedly and gulped down my beer so
fast that something went wrong with my wind-pipe.  To the accompaniment
of my coughs and peals of laughter from the room above, Fred sat eating
with a comical expression of misery upon his face.

"Rowdy brutes," he said, and pointed to the ceiling.

I tried to answer, but failed.

"I should think they will get kicked out in a minute," he continued.
"Aren't you going to have any pickles?"

"The room's so horribly stuffy," I managed to say; "I vote we go when
you are ready."

"We've only just come.  I haven't nearly done yet, and I am going to
have a smoke when I've finished."

I resigned myself to the situation and seized the pickles; there was
only one left and that was an onion.  The noise increased and a huge
piece of bread fell on the lawn in front of our window.

"Bloods always throw bread at each other, don't they?" he asked.

"I don't suppose they are any worse than anybody else," I answered;
"there is not much harm in a bread pellet."

"That thing out there is half a loaf," he returned, "and at any rate
they make a fairly bad row," which were statements I could not deny.

We heard a man go heavily up-stairs and knock at the door.  He was
received with clamorous approval, but after a little conversation the
noise ceased and there was a most refreshing calm.  I had hopes that
nothing more was going to happen, so I sat down by the fire and lit a
cigarette.  For ten minutes Fred and I were not interrupted, but I had
already recognized the voices of Bunny Langham and Dennison, and I
might have guessed that there was not likely to be much peace.  Our
windows were wide open, and presently I began to hear a kind of choked
laughter going on at the window above.  What was happening I did not
know, but I suspected that some fresh game had begun and I wanted very
much to know what it was.  I did not, however, wish them to see me nor
was I anxious for Fred to see them, so I suggested that we should start
back to Oxford.  Fred agreed to this, and getting up from his chair he
walked out into the garden.  No sooner was he on the lawn than I saw
him jump like a hare and put his hand up to his neck.  At the same
moment the beanfeasters rushed out of their arbour and fairly went for
him.  While this happened I was standing at the window wondering how I
could persuade him to come back into the room, but as soon as I saw
these two aggressive-looking men, not to mention their ladies, talking
to him in most bellicose language, I went out.  One of them at once
caught hold of me by the coat and spoke so fast and strangely that I
did not altogether understand what he was saying.  He mentioned the
name of Susan a great many times, and when he had finished tugging at
my coat I asked him if there was anything the matter with the lady.

"Look at 'er," he said; "just look at 'er.  I'm a respectable married
man, married, last Thursday as ever was, and I'll 'ave compensation for
this as sure as my name's Tom 'Arrison."

I did not want to hear any more of his autobiography, so I looked at
the lady pointed out as Susan.  I couldn't see much of her face because
she had her hand over it, but I did not think they were an ill-assorted
couple.

"Has she been stung by a wasp?" I asked.  "A blue-bag----"

"Look 'ere," the man interrupted and caught me again by the coat, "none
of your bloomin' innocence.  You spied us out in that 'ere arbour, and
'ave been peppering us with peas for the last ever so long, and one of
you 'as 'it Susan sock in the eye.  Enough to make 'er an object for a
fortnight, and us newly married.  Where, I should like to know, do I
come in?" and I had great difficulty in wriggling his hand away from my
coat.  The man made me angry, and I told him I hadn't the least notion
where he came in, but if he thought we were big enough babies to use
peashooters he was jolly well mistaken.  I looked round at Foster and
found that he was being talked at by the remaining couple, who also
looked as if they were newly married.  I heard the word Bella, and saw
the lady so called endeavouring to draw Foster's attention to a mark on
her arm.  Susan stood in the middle of the lawn and wept; I felt quite
sorry for her, but the other three were really an intolerable nuisance.
Tom Harrison declared it was worth two pounds any day, that Susan's
beauty was spoilt, and that everybody would say they had been fighting
already.  I smiled when he said "already," and for a moment I thought
he was going to hit me.  He thought better of it, however, and I
concluded that if he had intended to fight he would have begun then, so
I turned my back upon him and looked at the window up-stairs.  There
was not a sound coming from the room, and as I turned again to attend
to Harrison I heard hoots of laughter, and a dog-cart passed along the
road which skirted the garden.  As it went by I saw Jack Ward stand up
on the back of the cart and look over the hedge.  When he saw what was
happening he leant forward to speak to Bunny Langham, who was driving,
and as they passed out of sight I thought that he was trying to get
hold of the reins.

The men went on talking; Susan wept steadily, and Bella said her arm
was visibly swelling, and that she must have been hit by something far
more dangerous than a pea.  They were not by any means interesting and
I was glad to see the landlord coming from the house to join us.  He
created the diversion of which we were badly in need, and Tom Harrison
became more eloquent than ever.  But the landlord, as soon as he could
make himself heard, was most thoroughly on the side of peace; he
flourished his arms and declared, until I was weary, that a mistake had
been made.  "These are not the gentlemen who shot at you.  Do they look
like gentlemen who would use pea-shooters?"  I did not know what a man
ought to look like who would not use a peashooter, but I did my best.

"These are two nice quiet gentlemen," he went on; "took their food
quite quiet."

"And haven't paid for it yet," I interrupted; "how much is it?"

"That will be a matter of half-a-crown each," he said, and I paid him.

In the meantime Bella, who ought to have been watched, had walked into
our sitting-room and found the visitors' book.  She returned
triumphantly.  "I know one of their names, and that will be a deal more
use than standing jawing here," she shouted.

I looked at Foster inquiringly.  "I bought a blessed fountain pen
yesterday and wanted to see if the thing would work," he explained; "it
seems to have worked too well."

"'F. L. Foster, Oriel College, Oxford,' in writing as easy to read as
the newspaper.  Which of you two is it that writes just like me?"

Foster solemnly took off his hat.

"Then you, I guess, will 'ear more of this," Tom Harrison declared;
"for the tale that it ain't you is a little too 'ot for us, isn't it?"

Susan stopped wiping her eyes and joined in a chorus of assent.

"I don't know what you expect to get," Foster said.

"You needn't bother about that.  We know," Tom Harrison replied.

After a little more conversation we started on our way back to Oxford,
and as we left the garden I heard Tom Harrison say, "Two beers and two
bottles of stout as quick as we can 'ave em; my throat's like a
limekiln."  And considering the amount he had said at the top of his
voice, I should think it was very likely true.



CHAPTER VIII

LUNCHEON WITH THE WARDEN

Our walk was certainly not a success, in fact I was very sick of it
before we reached Oxford, because I am no good at walking and cannot
stride along at a steady pace.  And it also involved me in what, if
real diplomatists will pardon me, I will call diplomacy, in which art
or craft, or whatever the right name of it may be, I am most unskilled.
I was on the point of telling Fred that I knew the party of peashooters
when he, being in a much happier state of mind than he had been in the
morning, began to talk about Jack Ward, and to say that I was very
likely right about him, and that he was sure to be a nice kind of man
when one got to know him.  Hearing this made me put off what I was
going to say, and when I begin to postpone anything I am lost.  Second
thoughts with me nearly always lead to trouble, however good they may
be for other people.  I think I must have taken a fatherly interest in
Ward, for what else it could have been which made me wish to shield him
I do not know.  But I had seen him stand up in the dog-cart, and I
thought he had recognized me and had tried to make Langham turn back,
so I determined not to tell Fred anything until I had found out what
really happened.  But I felt very uncomfortable, for I do hate keeping
things dark, and when he went on to say that the pea-shooting people
must have been unutterable bounders to go away and leave us in the
lurch, I was again on the point of telling him that Ward was one of
them, only he suddenly began to sing, which gave me time to think, and
frightened two children who came round a corner of the road.  We were
quite close to Broadmoor lunatic asylum at that moment, and Fred
walking along with his hat in his hand might easily have been mistaken
for some one else.  His mood had become most cheerful, and he said that
he did not suppose Tom Harrison would ever be heard of again, and that
the whole thing had been rather fun; but he added that he should like
to tell the men who had been in the room above us what he thought of
them.  He also told me that he had never known me so quiet, and when I
continued to be silent he asked me if I was well, which annoyed me, for
I am often asked that question when I do not happen to be talking, and
in a lurking sort of way there seems to me to be something insulting
about it.  I answered that I was thinking, which was quite true, but he
only laughed and said I must have changed a lot lately.  I was quite
tired of him before we separated in the High, and he was angry because
I would not go to Oriel and have tea, but I felt that the day so far
had been a hopeless failure, and I wanted to see Jack Ward.

When I got back to my rooms at St. Cuthbert's my fire was nearly out
and I saw two notes lying on the table, but could not find any matches
to light my lamp.  I felt more gloomy than ever, and I was already
feeling as if I had treated Fred most unfairly.  I might say that my
end was all right, or I might declare that I meant well, which is
another way of saying that I was a fool, and of the two I think the
latter is the more correct.

Murray had borrowed my matches and I spoke severely to him without
producing any effect except amusement; whether I was thinking or angry
the result seemed to be always the same--laughter, silly, idiotic
chuckles.  I was in a very fair rage before I got my lamp to light, and
I upset a large box of matches on the floor.  Murray came and helped to
pick them up, and he bumped my nose with his head.  I felt sure that it
was his fault and told him so, and he said I could jolly well pick up
my own matches; so I apologized, for though my nose hurt there were a
lot of matches still on the floor, and it was no use making my nose out
worse than it was to spite my face.

After that I read my notes, and they were not the usual invitations to
breakfast, of which I had already received enough.  The first was to
ask me to play for the twenty against the Rugger XV. in the Parks on
the following Tuesday, and the second was from Miss Davenport to ask me
to luncheon with the Warden on the same day.  These notes were more or
less commands, but I neither felt very keen on playing for the XX. nor
on lunching with the Warden.

"I shall be glad when Tuesday is over," I said to Murray; "I have to
lunch with the Warden."

"I lunched there last Tuesday," he returned.

"What was it like?"

"Like no meal I have ever been at before.  Miss Davenport talked all
the time and the Warden said precious little, but I was too afraid to
listen to her for fear he might ask me something and I should not catch
what he said.  Apart from saying 'yes' and 'no' and 'please' and 'thank
you,' he only spoke once, and then it was the most extraordinarily long
sentence I have ever heard.  It began about pork, which Miss Davenport
said was more wholesome than people imagined, it went on about the
Jews, and finished up with a tale about Nero.  He chuckled over his
tale, but I didn't see much point in it, and Miss Davenport looked as
if she had heard it before."

"I know that tale, it's a chestnut; I can't remember it, but Nero
behaved like a beast to a lot of Jews who came to see him in Rome.  The
Warden oughtn't to tell old tales and then chuckle over them; besides,
Nero was a brute."

"I don't think that would make any difference to the Warden.  He
terrifies me; I daren't say anything because I am sure he would
remember that it was a stupid thing to say.  I felt as if I was a
convict, and that if I spoke I should give myself away.  I can tell you
it was something awful, and for all I know he may have expected me to
say something."

"Probably not," I replied; "I should think he hears far too many people
jawing.  I hope he makes me feel like a convict, and then I shall
behave myself all right, but a silence at a meal gives me fits."

"Miss Davenport is never silent," Murray asserted.  "If she can talk
about pork, you may guess she has plenty to say.  The Warden looks at
her in a forgiving sort of way--as if he knows she is talking rot, but
can't help herself."

"They must be a funny pair.  You don't think I shall laugh, do you?" I
asked.

"I didn't feel like laughing.  I never thought of it in that way, but
it couldn't strike you as being funny while you are there."

"I don't know," I said; "I think I had better be ill on Tuesday." But
then I remembered I had got to play footer, and I chucked the card over
to Murray.

"I've got to play in this thing, too.  The Warden kicks you out about
two, so it will be all right.  You simply must go.  Where have you been
to this afternoon?"

"I walked to Sampford with Foster, and we had a row there with two men,
not much of a row.  I must go and see Ward."  I jumped up, but the
chapel bell began to ring, and I had to postpone seeing him.

"I am all behind with my chapels and roll-calls," I said to Murray;
"this will be my twenty-first, and five weeks of the term have gone."

"I kept six chapels last week," Murray answered; "you will have to go
hard to keep nineteen in three weeks."

"I mean doing it and getting up very early in the morning.  I am going
to reform," and I left him at the chapel door, for he, being a scholar,
sat in the seats behind all of us who were commoners or exhibitioners.

After chapel, at which the Regius Professor of Divinity preached and
told us that Sunday luncheon parties were very wrong, I seized Ward and
bore him off to his rooms, where we found Dennison sitting by the fire
with his legs stuck up on the mantelpiece.  I wanted to see Ward alone,
but Dennison had been at Sampford, so he did not matter much, though
Ward with Dennison never seemed to be quite the same as he was without
him.

Dennison twisted round in his chair, and as soon as he saw me he began
to talk.  "You ought to have been with us this afternoon," he said, "we
had a most lovely rag.  Bunny Langham took us over to Sampford in his
cart, and I had a peashooter."

The loveliness of the rag was too much for him, and he had to stop his
account of it so that he might laugh.  I looked at Ward, and although
he did not appear to be very amused, he showed no signs of knowing that
Foster and I had been at Sampford.

"After lunch," Dennison went on, "I discovered some people in an
arbour, the bill and coo business, and I fairly peppered them; I am no
end of a shot with a peashooter."

"You missed them about a dozen times," Ward put in.

"Those were sighting shots, you must get your range, and they were
about as far off as my shooter will carry; but I got them out of the
place at last, and another fellow, Oxford written all over him, walked
bang into them.  I gave him one on the neck and then we bolted.  It was
a pity we couldn't stop and see what happened."

"We ought to have stopped," Ward declared and disappeared into his
bedroom.

"I can tell you what happened," I said, and I lifted Dennison's legs
off the mantelpiece and stood between him and the fire.  I had been
angry before Dennison described Foster as having Oxford written all
over him, but the cheek of labelling Fred as if he was some tailor's
dummy made me furious.

Dennison looked at me and then shouted for Ward.  "Marten can tell us
what happened after we went, come and hear it."

"Wait a second.  I am going to dine with Bunny at the Sceptre and am
changing."

In a minute he appeared and went on dressing.

"I think you are the meanest lot of brutes unhung," I began, for I had
been given time to think of something which would make Dennison see at
once that this joke was not such a good one after all.  "Foster of
Oriel was one of the men you bolted from, and I was the other, and the
thing isn't ended yet, for they got Foster's name.  You hit one woman
in the eye; do you think that very funny?"

"Sheer bad luck," Dennison said, but he did not look quite as unruffled
and smug as usual.

Ward stood with his tie in his hand and did not say a word.  I knew
already that he had wanted to go back when he saw that there was a row,
and since he had neither recognized Foster nor me my wrath was
concentrated upon Dennison.

"You may call it what you like," I continued, "but if you get up a row
and then haven't the pluck to see it out I call it a dirty thing to do."

I thought that must be enough to rouse Dennison, but he actually smiled
at me and told me to go on.

"What do you think?" I asked Ward.

"Of course I did not recognize you and Foster, but when I saw those
people had buttoned on to the wrong man I said we ought to go back.  I
wish that we had gone back," he answered.

"What did they do?" Dennison inquired.

"They found out Foster's name, and one of them, an awful man called Tom
Harrison, says he is going to get compensation from him because you hit
Susan in the eye with a pea and hadn't the decency to stay there and
own up to it.  There's the dinner bell, and I'm about sick of you
fellows."

"I hit Susan in the eye," Dennison said reflectively.  "Was Susan Tom
Harrison's inamorata?" he asked.

"Talk English and I may answer you.  It doesn't matter a row of pins
who Susan was as long as she has a black eye," I replied.

"It is evidently no good speaking to you until you have calmed down.
You remind me of a damp squib, all fuss and no result.  I am going to
dinner," Dennison said, and went out of the room without looking at
either Ward or myself.

"I shall do something awful to that brute before I have finished with
him.  He makes me mad," I said, and Ward walked across the room to me.

"I am most horribly sorry about this," he began, "and I will come back
straight from the Sceptre and see you.  Be in at nine o'clock."

"You didn't shoot at those people, did you?" I asked.

"No; but well, you see, Dennison is better than I am at getting in for
a row, and I am better at getting out of it."

"He's a low-down hound," I asserted, and after promising to be in at
nine o'clock I seized my gown and went away.  As I went into the hall I
met Collier, and during dinner I expressed my opinion of Dennison very
freely.  There are times at Oxford when you regret most tremendously
that you have left school, and this was one of them.

"A fellow like that would be kicked at any decent school," I said.

"He was kicked at Charbury until he managed to become a sort of blood.
He played racquets very well," Collier added, as if by way of an excuse.

"Why do we put up with him?" I asked viciously, for I could see him
making Lambert and Webb shout with laughter at the table opposite me.

"I don't know," Collier answered, "I suppose it's his smile.  What part
of a fowl do you think this is? it looks to me like the neck."  He
turned it over several times and then called a servant.  "Please take
this back, and say I have to be very careful what I eat.  I keep a
list, and this isn't on it.  I never saw that joint before," he added
to me, and lost all interest in Dennison.  I thought it a pity that
Collier took so much trouble over what he ate; the sight of that
unusual joint made him quite silent and inattentive during the rest of
the meal.

I went to his rooms after dinner, as I felt sleepy, and he never did
anything on Sunday except sleep, eat, and go to chapel.  His room was
full of tinted literature, but I never saw him read it, and I believe
he bought _The Sporting Times_ on Saturdays so that he could give it to
any man who attacked him with conversation on his day of rest.  His
table was covered by a most miscellaneous dessert, and I asked him if
he expected a lot of men.

"Not a soul," he replied, and sank into a chair by the fire.  "I have
this every Sunday night, because my people pay my common-room bill, and
I have to pay everything else out of my allowance.  They told me to do
myself well, but after this term I expect they will see that this odd
sort of arrangement won't work.  I can feed a regiment on almonds and
raisins without it costing me a sou.  Help yourself to coffee, stick
the dish of anchovy toast down between us, and if you want to read
there are three Sunday papers and a crowd of old magazines."

I sat by the fire and read four short stories to pass the time.
Dennison poked his head into the room and withdrew it when he saw me.
I congratulated myself upon that little incident, for I felt that if he
understood how I hated the sight of him something would have been
gained.  At nine o'clock I left Collier and went to my rooms to wait
for Ward.  I did not expect him to be punctual, because I guessed that
a dinner given by Bunny Langham would be difficult to leave.  He turned
up, however, in about half-an-hour, and said he was jolly glad to get
away from the Sceptre.  "Bunny's all right," he said, "but some of his
friends are too much--even for me."

I replied that Bunny was all wrong, and said why I thought so.

"You don't know him," Ward explained; "he would never leave any one in
a hole if he thought for a second.  He's the most good-natured, weak
kind of man on earth, but he would never do the wrong thing.  He goes
straight over a precious difficult country, for he hasn't got any more
will than a rabbit and is as blind as a bat.  He will be in trouble to
the end of his days, but he will never make any one ashamed of him."

I thought this was rather a glorified conception of the Bunny I knew,
so I said nothing.

"You must see that he is a good sort," Ward said.

"Everybody's a good sort," I answered impatiently.  "Collier calls the
fellow with the green-baize apron who collects the boots a good sort,
and some man I met at home, who talked about emperors and kings as if
they were all his cousins, declared that the Sultan of Morocco was the
best sort he had ever met--when one got to know him."

"I don't wonder you are sick," he returned.  "I should be if any one
had done to me what we did to you and Foster this afternoon.  It looks
pretty rotten on the face of it, and I am as sorry as blazes that you
had to have a row with those men."

"I'm not sick about the row," I answered; "that would have been fun if
they hadn't got Foster's name."

Ward lay back in his chair, and tried to blow rings of smoke from his
cigarette.

"Then you are just angry because you think we ought to have come back,"
he said.

"No, I'm not," I replied, and I felt horribly uncomfortable.

He looked most thoroughly puzzled.  "What on earth do you mean?" he
asked.

I got up and walked about the room before I spoke.  "It's this way," I
began.  "I wanted you and Foster to like each other, because he is the
greatest friend I have, and I like you.  And when I had been saying
what a good fellow you were, you go and make a most infernal row in a
pub on Sunday afternoon and then bolt.  I saw you in that confounded
cart, and I ought to have told Foster that I knew you were the fellow
who bolted.  But I didn't."

Ward sat staring in front of him, and did not speak for some time.  "I
don't think I could ever be friends with Foster," he said at last; "he
hated me at sight; but it is deucedly good of you all the same.  I will
write him a note and tell him I was the man.  I was going to do that,
anyhow."

"You weren't the man," I asserted; "it was that little brute, Dennison."

"He doesn't count," Ward said.

I was disposed to agree with him on that point, but I thought that he
and I had better go round and see Foster in the morning, instead of
writing a note.  He did not like this at first, but after some talking
he said that he would come, and on the next morning we went round to
Oriel.  We made Foster look a most awful idiot, but that could not be
helped.  I know that if two men came to me simply bulging with
apologies, I should look for the nearest window.

Fred hardly said anything but "All right" and "For goodness' sake don't
say a word more about it," but it showed that Ward was not as bad as he
thought him.  I stayed behind after Ward had gone so that I might put
things a little more straight, but Fred would not listen to another
word.  "You were in a vile temper yesterday afternoon, and now I know
the cause.  That's enough, so shut up.  You seem to have become a kind
of guardian to Ward," and then he stopped suddenly, for it struck him
that he had said one of those things which funny people say, and he
would never have done that on purpose.  I assured him that I knew he
had said it accidentally, but it stopped us talking about Ward,
because, when you hate puns, it is most discomforting to make one
suddenly.  I made a pun once--I can still remember it, because if I had
performed this feat intentionally I should have deserved all I got.
What I did get was a dig in the ribs from Collier and the remark, "You
are a wag," and then I had to repeat it to his three cousins, one of
whom was deaf and none of whom understood it, though they all laughed.
It was a Latin pun.

I am one of those people, Oliver Cromwell was another, to whom
important things happened on a certain day.  Tuesday was my day, I
forget which his was, but it does not matter, because it is to be found
in histories and almanacs.  My day is not a matter of interest to
anybody, but all the same I was born on a Tuesday, and things which I
have had special reason to remember or regret have generally happened
to me--so my mother says--on the same day.  And it was on a Tuesday
that I lunched with the Warden and began a curious sort of friendship
with him.  I suppose that I ought not to talk of a friendship between a
man like the Warden, who was a mighty man of learning, and myself, but
after all he gave me one of his books, and wrote in it, "To my young
friend and quondam companion."  "Quondam" was rather a pity, perhaps;
it sounds pedantic, and the Warden was no pedant, unless he wanted to
snub people.

I went to his luncheon, and, having neuralgia, said nothing until he
told me that he knew Mr. Prettyman, who was one of the masters at
Cliborough.  If the Warden knew Prettyman I guessed that he had also
heard something about me, and I thought I might as well stick up for
myself as far as possible, so I said that Mr. Prettyman was the sort of
man who, when you had lost a thing, always asked you where you had put
it.  He had on one occasion actually done this to me, and annoyed me
very much.  The Warden took no notice of my remark, and I was left to
my neuralgia until the end of the meal.  The other men who were there
talked a lot; one of them said what he thought of Irving in _Hamlet_,
and another criticized the paintings of Watts; the Warden kept his
opinions to himself, and at two o'clock asked us what we were going to
do in the afternoon.  All of us were bent on active employment, but
just as I was leaving the dining-room, he called me back and asked me
if I would go for a walk with him at three o'clock on the following
Thursday afternoon.  I was too confused to remember what I said, and I
only recollect that I left his house feeling as if something very awful
was going to happen.  I changed to play for the XX. against the XV. in
a kind of daymare, if there is a state of mind which can be so
described, and I had a good deal to say to Murray, as we walked down to
the Parks together, about my luck.  Murray laughed all the way from St.
Cuthbert's to Keble; he kept on breaking out into small cackles, which,
of all the bad ways of laughing, must be the worst.

I started to play footer that afternoon without troubling to think how
I should play.  I could see myself marching slowly along the Woodstock
road with the Warden, and however badly I played did not seem to matter
much, for there was something far more awful to come.  The XV. began to
press at once, and I, as full-back, had plenty to do.  What I did was
reckless; I simply did not care what happened, and everything I tried
seemed to come off.  Everybody who plays games has an occasional day
when things get twisted round, and it is easier to do right than wrong.
Those are the days for which we live in hope, and one of mine came on
that Tuesday.  I knew the whole thing was a fluke, and I told Murray
and Foster so after the game, but they both said that I had given Sykes
of Merton, who was playing back for the XV., something to think about.

During the next day, visions of my blue floated before me, and the
prospect of walking with the Warden lost its terrors, until I went
round to see Fred on Thursday morning.  I wanted him to give me some
hints, but I am sorry so say he saw only the humorous side of my
engagement, and was very exasperating when he might have been extremely
useful.



CHAPTER IX

A SURPRISE

When I left my rooms to walk with the Warden, I imagined that every one
I met was laughing at me, and being intensely on the alert for insults,
I was very displeased with the butler when he came to the door, and
surveyed me.  "What can you want with the Warden?" was written plainly
over his face.  I have never met a man who could be more gravely
condescending than the Warden's butler, and I know several first-class
cricketers, two headmasters, a popular novelist, and a rising
politician aged twenty-four.  I should have enjoyed telling that man
what I thought of him, but a doorstep is a poor place for an
altercation, unless it is with a cabman, and I saw the Warden advancing
upon me clad in a cloak, and carrying a most useful umbrella, which
must have been rolled up by himself.

The appearance of the Warden might have surprised any one, but it could
have impressed nobody.  You had to know that he was a Warden, and wrote
books about religion and philosophy, before you could feel afraid of
him.  If he was a precisian in the choice of words, he certainly was
not one in the matter of dress.

"I think," he said, with just a glance at me to see if I was the right
man, "that we will enter the Parks by the gates opposite to Keble
College; we shall be more or less interrupted by the noisy, if
necessary, shouts of football players, but we shall escape the
authoritative note of the bicycle bell."

There wasn't much that I could say in answer to this, so I walked down
the Broad in silence, and tried in vain to keep step with my companion.
Before we had reached Wadham his shuffle had got upon my nerves, and I
wished furiously that he would say something to me.  He seemed to have
tucked his head into his neck, and to have retired into the world of
contemplation.  As we entered the Parks I was seized with a wild desire
to run away.  I had not uttered a word, and I had arrived at a state of
mind which prompted me to give a terrific yell, just to see what would
happen next.  When I feel like that I must speak at least, so I said
that it looked as if it might rain.  It is not likely that I should
have made such a remark if I could have thought of any other, and it
had the merit of not being startling and also of being true.  But if I
had given the yell which I wished to give, I could not have produced a
greater effect upon the Warden.  I think that he had forgotten my
existence, and for a moment he could not remember why I was with him.
He poked his head forward, and looked at me until I regretted my effort
at conversation, and was dreadfully afraid I should have to repeat it;
a remark about the weather in some way or other seems to lose all its
sparkle when it is repeated.

The Warden, however, had heard what I said, and when he had detached
himself from whatever he was thinking about, he answered me.

"I am not one of those who pretend to any extraordinary knowledge of
weather symptoms," he began, and he stood in the middle of the path,
while a gardener leant on his spade and watched us; "indeed, I have
often noticed that those who make the greatest pretensions of that kind
are themselves most frequently mistaken.  In fact, my friend Dr.
Marshall, who wrote the meteorological reports for _The Times_
newspaper, was frequently himself in doubt whether or no to take out an
umbrella for a walk."

I did not venture to interrupt him again for some time, and my next
outbreak was quite unpremeditated.  We were passing a college rugger
match, and a pass which was palpably forward escaped the notice of the
referee.  I joined in the cry of "forward" which was raised, and the
Warden stopped once more and actually smiled.  On this occasion I had
forgotten all about him, and my shout probably surprised him as much as
me.

"I am sorry," I said to him, "but I really couldn't help it."

"There is no occasion to express or even to feel regret," he answered,
and his eyes twinkled delightfully; "if youth lost its spontaneity it
would at one and the same moment lose its charm.  Did your cry refer to
this?"  He pointed with his umbrella to a scrimmage which was taking
place a few yards away from us.

"Some one threw the ball forward, which he is not allowed to do," I
explained, and a man was hurled into touch close to the spot where we
were standing.

"The game of football which I believe bears the honoured name of Rugby
appeals, or it seems to me to appeal, to the more violent of the
emotions.  Do you play this game, which strikes the eye of the
observant, but not initiated, as the relic of an age in which brute
force rather than science was the aim of the athlete?"

He walked on as he finished speaking, and I told him that I played
Rugby football and liked it.  "I like nearly every game," I added.

He glanced at me quickly, and after we had walked a little way he began
again.

"The excellent Lord Chesterfield in his _Letters_ stated that it was
very disagreeable to seem reserved, and very dangerous not to be so;
most of my young friends impress me with the fact that they have
learned that maxim too well.  But you on the contrary----" He waved his
umbrella and did not finish the sentence.

"There is no harm in liking games," I answered; "if I did not take
heaps of exercise I should never be well, or able to read."

"Heaps of exercise," he repeated, and looked oddly at me.

"I mean a fearful lot of exercise," I explained.

"You did not quote 'Mens sana in corpore sano,' for which I have to
thank you, even if your use of the English language affords reasonable
grounds for protest.  Heaps of mud, heaps of rubbish, but not, I think,
heaps of exercise."

"Heaps of money," I ventured to suggest, but he shook his head sadly.

"We were talking of athletics," he said, "which represent to me the
most sweeping epidemic of the century.  Do not let athletics spread
their deadly, if in one sense empurpling, pall over your University
life.  Oxford has many gifts for those who are willing to receive them;
do not, my friend, be content with the least which she can give.  The
maxim of Mr. Browning, that the grasp of a man should exceed his reach,
if not an ennobling maxim, must not be forgotten entirely."

I walked by his side in silence, for I knew that the Warden did not
often give advice to an undergraduate.  His language even seemed to
have become less carefully chosen, and I felt that he intended to be
not only human but kind, for there was no special reason why he should
talk to me unless he wished.

He did not speak again until we reached St. Cuthbert's, but when we had
reached the back quadrangle he stopped, and after poking the ground
with his umbrella, said--

"I would do nothing willingly to lessen your enthusiasm, you have, I
believe, been endowed liberally with that most exhilarating virtue; I
would only suggest to you that your enthusiasm need not of necessity be
expended solely upon athletics.  I hope that we shall be able to enjoy
very many walks together."

I thrust out my hand, but he hesitated; I forgot that I had nearly made
him shout with pain a few weeks before, but he, as far as I know, never
forgot anything.  He trusted me, however, and I treated him very gently.

As soon as the Warden had disappeared into his house I heard a bellow
of derisive laughter at a window above me, and looking up I saw
Dennison standing there; but at that moment I hated him even more than
I did usually, and I walked off to see Jack Ward without even saying
what I thought of him.

Jack was having a bath when I got to his rooms, and while he was
dressing he told me how he had been spending the afternoon.  I never
knew what he might do next--he flew off at tangents so often--but I was
surprised to hear how he had been employing himself.

"Perhaps you will think me a fool," he began, "but that Tom Harrison
affair gave me the jumps, and I couldn't wait to see if Foster was
going to be tackled.  So I rode over to Sampford, and the man said that
Harrison lived in a village a few miles off.  I had lunch at Sampford
and then went on, and, to cut it short, the whole thing is settled."

"You paid?"

"Not very much; and Tom said I was the first gentleman he had ever
known come from Oxford--you must pay for a remark like that.  He
described us as 'bloomin' 'aughty,' and 'not enough brass to buy a
moke.'  Do you know that you are playing for the 'Varsity on Saturday
against Blackheath?  I want to go up to town, so I shall come and see
you play."

I thought that he was trying to prevent me from thanking him, and I did
not really believe that I was going to play until he took his oath that
I was.  Then we had tea, and I thanked him; for if there is one thing
in the world of which I will not be baulked it is thanking people.  I
hate doing it so much, that it has got to be done.  Jack, however, did
not pretend to listen to what I said, and after I had finished we
talked about Dennison; both of us were sick to death of him, but when
you are always meeting a man in other people's rooms, and he won't see
that you don't like him, it is not very easy to get rid of him; for
when you are a fresher you can't choose your friends so easily as you
can when your first year is over.

After dinner Fred came round to tell me that we were both playing
against Blackheath, and as Jack came in as well, I said that I would
get another man to play whist.  I went to Murray, because I was most
anxious that he should be friends with Jack; but I did not tell him
that Jack was one of the four, or I am sure that he would not have
come.  I liked both Murray and Jack, and I thought that when I got them
together each would see what a nice man the other was, for I was again
in the mood when everything seems to be easy.  But I cannot say that my
efforts were successful; their politeness knocked every spark of
cheeriness out of the game, and we played in dreadful silence, which
may be all right for very good players, but it does not suit me in the
least.

When Murray looked at his watch and said that he must be going, I felt
quite relieved, and I decided then that I would stop trying to make
Murray and Jack like each other, for the process was too painful and
slow for me.

After he had gone I told Foster what Ward had been doing, and it was
really quite funny to see how confused they were.  Fred said how good
it was of Ward to have taken so much bother about nothing, which was
not quite what he meant, but it did very well; and Ward mumbled
something in reply, which neither of us could hear.  Altogether they
managed it most successfully, and when Fred went away Ward said that he
would see him to the lodge.  I found out afterwards that he stopped me
going with Fred, so that he might tell him nothing would have happened
if he had not seen Tom Harrison; he was the kind of man who never tried
to get more credit than he deserved, unless it was from Oxford
tradesmen.

Playing against Blackheath on the Rectory field before a large crowd of
people was good fun, and at the end of the game I thought that I had
managed to escape without making a very pitiable exhibition of myself.
But on the following Monday the sporting papers criticized me most
unpleasantly.  "Marten was obviously nervous, and did not seem to
settle down until the game was lost."  "As full-back Marten had much to
learn; his tackling was good, but his kicking left much to be desired,
and he seldom found touch."   I turned from _The Sportsman_ and
_Sporting Life_ to _The Daily Telegraph_, and found that I had shown
"more pluck than judgment."

I felt that Sykes of Merton must be having an enjoyable morning, and
even the fact that the critics unanimously praised Foster was of little
assistance to me.  My chance had come, and I had not taken it; there
could not have been a more miserable man in Oxford, and for a whole
solid week I never cut a lecture or did anything of which even Mr.
Edwardes could disapprove.

Sykes reappeared in the 'Varsity team, and Foster declared that the
whole thing was a swindle; but he was more prejudiced in my favour than
I was myself.  The last match of the term at Oxford, and the one
previous to the 'Varsity match, was against the Old Cliburians, and the
O. C.s having had a disastrous season Adamson, who always played centre
three-quarters with Foster, did not play, but put a man from Queen's in
his place.  This man, whose name was Pott, had been laid up all the
term, and two or three people said it was lucky for Foster that Pott
had not been able to play before.  I played back for the O. C.s, and
the game was enough to make any Cambridge man who saw it stand on his
head with delight.  The 'Varsity could do nothing right; the passing
broke down time after time, and the forwards got impatient and kicked
too hard.  I thought Foster was the one man on the side who played
decently, but five minutes before the end, when we were leading by a
goal to nothing, Pott made a very good run and got a try in the corner.
It seemed to me that this was the only thing he did during the whole
game, and it was my fault that he got the try, for I went for him a
second too late and he fell over the line, but the place-kick went
crooked, and we won by a goal to a try.

Adamson, who was touch-judging, said what he thought about the 'Varsity
team, and he could be the most uncomplimentary man in Europe when he
liked.  His temper was awful, and it did not seem to be improved by the
use of expletives.  This game was played on a Saturday, and on the
following Wednesday week we had to play the 'Varsity match at Queen's
Club.  The Cambridge team was published in the papers on the Monday,
but some one told me that our committee were not meeting until the
Monday evening.  This did not interest me much, for apart from wanting
to see that Fred had got his blue, and I thought he was a certainty, I
did not mind who else was chosen.  Sykes had played better against the
O. C.s than he had ever done before, and even Fred said that he was
afraid my chance had gone for this year.

After dinner on Monday evening I was sitting in my rooms with Murray,
and although it was not nine o'clock, I was wondering how soon I could
go to bed, when Ward suddenly burst in, fairly bubbling over with
excitement.  He turned me right out of my chair, and hitting me
violently on the back, said he had never been so awfully glad in all
his life.  My first impression was that he had been made glad by wine,
and I told him to clear out if he could not behave himself, which made
him catch hold of me and dance me round the room.  By the time we had
finished I found that Dennison, Collier, Lambert, Webb and a host of
other people had come to my rooms, and at last I discovered that I had
got my blue.  For a moment I did not believe it, but I managed to push
Ward into a corner, and told him I would never speak to him again if it
was not true.  Then he swore that he had seen the names of the XV. to
play against Cambridge stuck up in the window of Howell's shop in the
Turl, and the first name he saw was G. Marten (St. Cuthbert's), back.

"And Foster, of course?" I said.

Then Jack Ward's face fell.  "No, they've gone mad," he answered; "it's
that man Potts, of Queen's."

Men buzzed about congratulating me, and one part of me felt most
tremendously glad, and the other part most outrageously sorry.  I said
a lot of things about the committee, and everybody except Ward and
Murray thought I had gone mad.  The college clock struck nine, and old
Tom's nightly warning began to sound over the city.  I seized a cap and
bolted down-stairs, leaving my rooms full of astonished men.  But Fred
Foster was the only man I wanted to see, and by making a tremendous
rush for Oriel I got there before the gates were closed.  I cannot
describe how I was feeling that evening, but I knew that Fred was
infinitely better at footer than I was, and in my wildest moments I had
never imagined that I should be put in the XV. while he was left out of
it.

I found him sitting in his room alone, but directly he saw me he jumped
up and began to talk.

"I came to St. Cuthbert's to congratulate you," he began.

"It is a confounded swindle," I interrupted.

"But there was such a row in your rooms that I couldn't face it."

"I have never been so sick about anything in my life," I said; and he
looked so miserable that in spite of the comfortable sensation of
having got my blue I meant it.

"It was a vile knock for me, but I don't mind half so much now one of
us is in.  Your people will be most awfully glad."

"They will think the committee are mad to leave you out and put me in.
It upsets things altogether."

"Pott's in his fourth year, and I must have another shot, that's all,"
he said.

"You are bound to get your cricket blue," I declared.

"When a man begins to miss getting in as I have done, he very often
keeps on doing it," and he mentioned the names of two or three men who,
with any luck, would have played both cricket and footer against
Cambridge, but were never chosen.  "Don't bother about me," he went on,
"but get yourself as fit as possible, and play like blazes at Queen's
Club; you will be doing me a good turn if you play well, because at
present they have got an idea up here that Cliborough fellows can't
play footer.  I heard Adamson saying so."

I expressed my opinion of Adamson and went back to college, for I ought
not to have been out after nine o'clock, because my gating would not
finish.  But I must say that when the Subby sent for me, and I
explained what had happened, he congratulated me on getting my blue,
and said that under such exceptional circumstances he would excuse my
forgetfulness.

For the next few days I got up and went to bed very early; I ran round
the Parks before breakfast, which took me some time and was a most
dreary occupation, and I kicked a ball about nearly every day.  All of
my people went up to town for the match, and Fred and I joined them at
the Langham on the Tuesday night.  My mother was dreadfully sorry for
Fred, and Nina seemed to have forgotten that she was nearly grown-up,
and gave herself no airs at all.  I think that Fred, who forgave
swindles very quickly, found some consolation in the fact that he was
going to watch the match with Nina, which would have amused me had I
not been so anxious about the morrow.

There cannot be a more cheerless spot in London than the Queen's Club
on a foggy December afternoon, but when I arrived there and found that
we had got to play in semi-darkness my nervousness almost disappeared.

After being photographed, and running about the ground to stretch our
legs, we began, and for some time I should not think a full-back ever
had less to do than I had.  The game settled down into one long
scrimmage, and apart from making a few kicks, which were neither good
nor bad, I was almost a spectator, and at half-time I was, in
comparison with every one else, quite disgustingly clean.  We played
towards the pavilion during the second half, and before ten minutes had
passed I was covered with mud, if not with glory.  The Cambridge
three-quarters got the ball, and after a round of passing one of them
got a try right behind our posts.  Adamson promptly told me that it was
my fault, but as a matter of fact Pott had slipped up at a critical
moment and left his man unmarked, so I did not get much chance of
preventing the try.

After this Cambridge pressed us hard, and I had to fall on the ball
continually, which is a dismal performance until one gets warmed up to
it.  Pott's knee had given way, and though he stayed on the ground and
limped about, the Cambridge forwards seemed to be always rushing past
him and hurling me to the ground.  Luck, however, was on our side, and
though they were often on the point of scoring nothing really happened,
and at last our forwards got the ball down to the other end of the
ground.  I hoped for a little peace, but the man who plays full-back
and expects such a thing is an idiot.  Only a few minutes were left
when the Cambridge three-quarters got off again, and, Pott being
useless, two men came at top speed for me.  Their centre had the ball,
and had only to throw it to the wing man for a try to be a certainty.
The wing man was an international and about the fastest three-quarter
in Scotland, so I tried a little device, which was bad football, though
in this case it came off.  My only chance was for the centre man to
lose his head, and he lost it quite beautifully; if he had only gone on
himself instead of trying to pass there was nobody to stop him, for I
had made up my mind to prevent the fast man getting the ball whatever
happened.  I ran in between them, and the centre passed right into my
hands; at the same moment the wing man slipped up, and I was going for
the Cambridge line as fast as I could.  No one being near me I think
that I made one of the fastest runs of my life, but not having been
blessed with speed I had to pass at last, and I happened to make quite
a good shot, for one of our halves got the ball and ran in behind the
posts.  Adamson kicked the goal all right, and the game ended in a draw
directly afterwards.

I don't mind saying that as I walked off the ground I should have been
glad if there had been less fog; I had suffered so much after the
Cambridge try, that I should have been pleased if everybody had seen
the finish; but after all Fred had managed to discover what had
happened, and if there had not been a fog, I expect I should not have
tried to intercept that pass, for it would have looked quite awful if I
had not happened to do it.  All kinds of people congratulated me, and
Adamson was good enough to acknowledge that I had atoned for my
previous mistake; but I could not help wondering what he would have
said if the Cambridge man had not happened to make such a bad pass.
There was a condescension about Adamson which roused my worst passions,
for of all the blues I have seen he was the only one who ever took an
insane delight in himself, and unfortunately he belonged to a college
which so seldom had a blue, that when they did get one they almost
worshipped him.

After the game was over I went back to the Langham, for Fred and I had
arranged to go to a theatre with Jack Ward; but I have only the vaguest
idea of the performance I watched.  I had slept badly the night before,
and now that the match was over, nothing could keep me awake, so I had
to be given up as hopeless, though Fred gave me an occasional dig with
his elbow just to keep me from snoring.  By the time the play was over
I was properly awake again, and so satisfied with myself, that when I
met Dennison going out of the theatre I was even glad to see him.

"Ward told me you were coming here," he said.  "What are you going to
do now?"

"Going home, I suppose," I answered; but I cannot say that I cared much
where I went.

"Let's go to the Parma, there is sure to be a rag on there," he said to
Jack, and after some discussion we walked down Shaftesbury Avenue.

I think the air of the town must have got into Dennison's head, for I
had not walked far before I was in more than my usual state of rage
with him.  He ordered us about most abominably, and seemed to think
that I was sure to lose my way unless I kept close to him.  As a matter
of fact, neither Fred nor I knew London well, but I resented being
treated like an infant, and if Dennison only looked after us out of
kindness, I did not see why he should do it at the top of his voice.  I
had an inexplicable feeling that it was the duty of every one to know
something about London, and although I should not have recognized
Piccadilly Circus when I saw it, I was quite prepared to put that down
to the fog; for if Dennison had not taken so much for granted, I should
never willingly have given myself away to him.

When we reached the Parma I was very thirsty, but there were so many
people in the place that it was impossible to get near the bar.  We
were jolted about by men who, having nothing else to say, shouted "Good
old Cambridge!" and "Now then, Oxford!"  The pandemonium was deafening,
and Jack said to me that the whole thing wasn't good enough, and unless
you happened to feel like shoving into people and then pretending that
you were very sorry he was quite right.

A man standing on the steps at the top of the room began to make a
speech until somebody shoved him down, and his top-hat, having been
knocked off, was kicked about by everybody who could get near it.  Men
whom I never remembered having seen before, shook me warmly by the hand
and treated me as if I was their greatest friend, but none of them
could get me anything to drink.  This scene was subsequently described
as disgraceful, but it was really very dull, and after a few more
minutes spent in trying to make my voice heard in the noise, the lights
were turned out.  The word "Johnnys" ran round the place, and there was
a big rush for the door leading into Piccadilly Circus.  Fortunately I
got out at once, and I found myself marching clown Piccadilly in the
second row of a procession.  Foster was next to me, though how he got
there I cannot conceive, and Ward and Dennison were in the front row.
We sang as we walked, and people cleared out of our way.  I heard one
man who met us say "Poor fools!" and the fellow who was with him
answered "We did that kind of thing years ago, didn't we?"  Outside The
St. John's we came to a dead stop, and the men in front of me began
arguing with an enormous man who stood at the entrance.

"No one else is to be admitted to-night," I heard the giant say.

"But it is not closing time," some one answered.

"These are my orders, gentlemen," he said, and it was really rather
nice of him to address us as he did.

Ward did not say a word, but tried quite amicably to get past the
giant.  It was a kind of Goliath and David business anyhow, but
whatever chance Ward had of getting into the restaurant ended abruptly;
a bevy of policemen who seemed to drop out of the skies simply pounced
upon him, and if he had been guilty of some real crime he could not
have been treated more severely.  It was my first experience of
policemen, and unless some one had very kindly caught hold of me, my
first impulse was to go for the men who had seized Ward.

"You had better keep quiet, or you will be taken to the station as
well," one policeman said to me, but I went on talking until some one I
did not know touched me on the arm.

"Was the man they collared a friend of yours?" he asked.

"Yes, and it is a most wretched swindle," I said.

"I don't think he did anything to speak of," Foster added.

"I was just coming out of the door as it happened," our friend said,
"and I have never seen a more unfair thing in my life.  If you will
come to the police-station to-morrow to give evidence, I will come too.
You had better go now and see if you can do anything for him."

We assured him that we would turn up the next morning, and then Foster
and I made our way to the police-station.  I cannot say that the
Inspector, or whoever the official was who talked to us, took much
notice of what we said, but we found a more sympathetic man outside the
station who asked us if we wanted to bail out our friend.  The official
had told us that Jack Ward would be quite comfortable during the night,
but when I saw another person brought in by the police we doubted this
statement very much, and we discussed things with our sympathetic
friend, who was a shabby-looking man when he happened to get near the
light, and he gave us much advice in exchange for half-a-sovereign.  I
gave him the half-sovereign, though what prompted me to do so I cannot
remember, but I had met so many aggressive people during that evening
that a kind man appealed to me strongly.  He was, I heard afterwards, a
professional bailer-out, and I do not think he could have been a very
good one, for although Fred and I went about with him for over an hour,
and rang up various people who treated us with unvarying rudeness, in
the end we had to leave Jack Ward where he was.

It was no easy matter to escape from my people in the morning, but we
got to the place all right, and soon after we got there Jack Ward
appeared, and was charged with creating a disturbance in Piccadilly.
Policemen gave evidence, and the man who had told us that he would come
and speak up for Ward turned out to be a barrister, and did not appear
to be in the least afraid of the magistrate.  His evidence was very
different to that of the police, and I thought Jack Ward, who looked as
if he had been having a dreadful time, was bound to get off.

When my turn came to kiss the book I was in a terrible state of
nervousness, and the magistrate asked me my name twice, and where I
lived at least three times.  I am sure he must have been deaf, for I
spoke plainly enough, but I thought him a most disagreeable man.  After
bothering me until I really felt quite unwell, he asked me how many
drinks I had seen Jack Ward have, and when I answered "None," he said
very angrily, "I shall not want to ask you any more questions."  He
might just as well have told me that he did not believe a word I said.

In the end Ward was bound over to keep the peace for a month, and the
magistrate said what he thought of the disturbance which had been made.
He supposed undergraduates to be a far more vicious lot than they
really are, for at the very worst we were only extremely noisy and very
foolish, and Jack Ward was just the victim of horribly bad luck.

I was glad to get away from the police-court, and I am not searching
for such an experience as this again, but principally we were sorry for
Ward, who said he had never spent such a night in his life.  However he
was very cheerful about it, and took the view that it might have
happened to any one.

After luncheon Foster and I had to start on tour with the 'Varsity XV.
in Wales, and I was exceedingly glad that Adamson had to stay in town
to play for the South against the North, or Fred would not have come.
On that tour I played very badly and Fred very well, which is what some
people would call the irony of fate.  But I must say in excuse for
myself that more difficult people to get hold of than those Swansea,
Newport and Cardiff three-quarters I cannot conceive, and I had no end
of chances of trying to collar them.  How many of those chances I took
can be guessed by any one who is curious enough to look up records and
see the lamentable results of those three matches.



CHAPTER X

MY MAIDEN SPEECH

As soon as the 'Varsity football tour was finished, I went home and
Fred Foster came with me.  Any exultation I might have been inclined to
show over my blue was completely checked by the way I played on the
tour, and I was very glad when we got away from Wales and the sarcastic
remarks of the Welsh newspapers.  As a matter of curiosity it may be
satisfactory to find out what famous Oxford teams of former years think
of the one you happen to be in, but it was exceedingly disagreeable of
the Welsh papers to suggest that we should not like to hear the
opinions of these heroes, and one sporting reporter went out of his way
to be nasty to me.  "When I saw Marten at back and remember the
brilliant exponents of the game who have filled his position in
previous Dark Blue fifteens, I really cannot refrain from smiling.  But
it is a pity all the same."  If I could have got hold of that fellow I
think I might have curtailed the length of his smile, but Foster gave
me a little satisfaction by saying that if a man was ass enough to
write about "exponents of the game," he was probably paid a penny a
line for what he wrote, and had sacrificed me for the sake of
threepence.

We had a very good time during our first "vac."  I think that Nina
expected me to come back from Oxford with a very fine equipment of
airs; in fact I know that she did for she told me so, but I was in a
humble mood and gave her no chances to squash me, and she and Fred got
on splendidly together.  My first term had taught me that I did not
know in the least what I wanted, which was an upsetting lesson for any
one to learn who had always done what came next without bothering about
the consequences.  This result had been brought about by the Warden and
Dennison, the one had in his curious way tried to urge me on, the other
had sickened me of men who rag from morning to night, and I felt
bothered for several days in succession.  Then, however, I stopped
worrying myself and regained my normal spirits, to the annoyance of my
father who was at that time inveighing against Russia and the
ritualistic vicar of our parish, and had a lot to say about the thin
end of the wedge.  He told me that I must take more interest in
politics, and he made both Fred and me promise that we would speak at
debating societies during our first year.

But when I recollected the discussions I had listened to at our college
debating society I could not remember a single one at which I could
have said anything to the point; how could I know whether "It is better
to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all," or what could
I say about marriage being a failure?  There was, indeed, only one man
at St. Cuthbert's who could possibly know anything about marriage, and
he had a wife and three children, but from the appearance of the lady I
do not think that he was likely to give us his honest opinion.

I wrote to Jack Ward but did not get an answer, and when we got back to
Oxford I found that he had been staying with a mining magnate whose
name I could not pronounce.  He had been gambling every night, I forget
how much he won in a week, but it is of no consequence as he lost all
of it and a lot more before he had finished.  During this term he
became a complete blood, and was constantly dining at wine clubs or
with somebody like Bunny Langham.  He joined the Mohocks, and men who
did not know him, and thought that our wine club made far too much
noise and was a nuisance to the college, said that he would get sent
down at the end of his first year for being ploughed in pass
Moderations.  I, however, saw a good deal of him at odd times, and the
fact that he absolutely refused to have anything more to do with
Dennison than he could help delighted me.  When Jack had no use for any
one he had a very expressive way of letting them know it, and Dennison
at last was so offended that he invaded my rooms one afternoon when I
was changing after footer and couldn't escape from him.

"You don't see much of Ward now, do you?" he began, as he placed
himself upon my bed.

"I see him every day," I answered.

"I can't understand why you care to do it."

"Well, I do care to do it; you are sitting on my socks, do you mind
getting up?"

"You ought to hear what most of the freshers are saying about the side
Ward is putting on, it isn't as if he had any good reason for sticking
on side."

"What do you think is a good reason for sticking on side?" I asked.

"Ward can't do anything; you are a blue already, and I shall probably
get my racquet blue, but of course that's got nothing to do with it."

"Then I shouldn't say anything about it," I answered, and putting on my
coat I went into my sitter.

"Don't be a fool," he said as he followed me, "you stick so
tremendously close to rotten old-fashioned ideas.  I am not exactly
committing a crime in not liking a man whom you profess to like."

"I have never professed to like any one in my life if I didn't like
him," I returned, and instead of getting angry with me, he laughed and
sat down in my biggest arm-chair.  It was not his habit to have two
quarrels going on at the same time, and when he wished to be amiable
you had to work hard before you removed his smile.  We had tea
together, and I did work hard, but he refused to be offended, and told
me that I was far too good a sort to be wrapped up in old prejudices,
which were the laughing-stock of everybody who really thought about
them.  Oxford, he said, was the place for a good time and not for
airing ridiculous fads which were all right at school, where there was
nothing else to do but pretend to like a fellow for ever because you
had happened to like him for a few weeks.  And he also told me that
being a blue, I ought to take my proper position in the college, and
not to go about with men who were no use whatever.

In return I told him some beautifully plain things, but when a man has
the terrific impudence of Dennison, he makes me too angry to be
coherent.  I let him know, however, that I intended to choose my own
friends and that I thought a blue, if he was also a bounder, might do
his college more harm than good.  To which he replied that if a man was
a bounder he found it exceedingly difficult to become a blue.  When
Dennison went away I rushed off to see Murray, and although he did not
pretend to like Jack, he agreed with me that ten Wards in a college
would not make it as unpleasant a place as one Dennison.  After this
attempt to get me on his side against Jack, Dennison left me more or
less alone, but he smiled upon me whenever he saw me, and to Webb,
Lambert and a man called Learoyd, who were at that time his particular
friends, I believe that he described me as a lunatic who might be of
use in the future.

I was very energetic during this term, and at the same time very quiet.
The weather was so bad that astronomical people said that the sun had
got spots upon it or had gone wrong somehow; at any rate we hardly ever
saw it, and we lived in a deluge of rain.  The Torpids had to be
postponed, nearly every footer match was scratched, and the people who
had been talking about water-famines for the last two years held their
peace.  Oxford seemed to be a most cheerless place, and Collier slept
nearly the whole term.  However, I most strenuously did labour, but I
should never have stuck to it had not Murray helped me, and the result
was that after we had been up five weeks I found myself in high favour
with Mr. Gilbert Edwardes.

It is a dreadful thing to please your tutor if you do not happen to
like him, because he asks you to breakfast by way of showing his
pleasure, and at meals I could not put up with Mr. Edwardes.  I sat
next him at one breakfast, and he never ate anything except a piece of
dry toast, and he talked about patent foods.  I never saw a man who
looked more as if he needed a really big meal of beef and plum-pudding;
but he was an authority on diet, and told me that food if too
nutritious was very bad for the brain.  He could not, I thought, have
imagined that our brains were worth much; for I must say that though he
did not eat himself he gave us every chance of doing so, and if we had
been the torpid, who breakfast and dine hugely, he could not have
provided us with more food.  Murray, who was one of many at this meal,
seemed to be very interested in what Mr. Edwardes said about diet, and
I told him afterwards that he was an arch-humbug; but it turned out
that he had been bothered all his life--at least he said so--by
indigestion, and that at Wellingham he had lived on some peculiar
biscuit for nearly a fortnight, which recalled to my mind what Ward had
said to me about him.

I played in all the 'Varsity rugger matches which were not scratched,
and we finished up by beating the Wellingham Nomads after a muddy and
desperate struggle.  Murray was playing for the Nomads and Foster for
the 'Varsity, and so many Wellingham people came round to Murray's
rooms after the match that I had to hold a kind of overflow meeting in
my rooms, after the manner of political gatherings.  Murray was in
great spirits until everybody had gone, and then he said he had got a
most frightful attack of indigestion.  So I let him talk it off.  It
was curious that I had known him so long without ever having got him on
the subject of health; but he told me that when he came up to Oxford he
made up his mind to forget all about his ailments and eat anything.  I
told him that he had better stick to that resolution, because I was
sure that his best way was never even to think about himself, but that
advice was not altogether unselfish.  After he had spent a solid
half-hour in telling me what pains he suffered, he seemed so much
better that I was compelled to add that whenever he felt most awfully
bad he had better come and talk to me.  I did not say that from conceit
but out of sympathy, and when he laughed I told him that if he thought
it was amusing for me to hear about his pains and spasms he was jolly
well mistaken.

"My father has talked about his liver for the last ten years," I said,
by way of proving that whatever information he gave me about himself
was bound to be stale.

"Then you will have one some day," Murray answered, and I imagined that
he looked at me as if in the future we could have a royal time nursing
our dyspepsia together.  But I was not going to be a twin dyspeptic
with anybody.

"I hope I have got one now," I returned, "but I am not going on the
roof to shout about it.  Every one ought to keep their liver dark, and
then the vile thing wouldn't be a nuisance to every one else."

He only laughed again.  I am afraid he had read a lot of medical books
and knew far too much about the colour of things, but I do really
believe that I did him some good, for apart from seeing him put
extraordinary pieces of paper on his tongue and look very concerned
when they revealed whatever secret they have to reveal, he never talked
intimately to me again about his complaints, and as time went on he
laughed at himself, which was very wholesome of him.

Six weeks of the term had passed before I thought of fulfilling the
promise I made to my father, and when the time drew near for me to
speak at our college debating society, if I meant to do so, I became
extremely nervous.  There was only one more meeting of the society
during that term, and the subject for debate was, "The modern novel has
a depressing and decaying influence upon the mind of the British
nation."  Lambert, who spoke very fluently and not at all to the point,
was booked to speak first at this debate, and any one who knew him
could see his magnificent style in the way the motion was drawn up.  He
revelled in alliteration, and I should think that he preferred subjects
which were more general than particular, for he had on one occasion
come hopelessly to grief at a debate on French politics, and had to
hide his confusion by saying that no one could be expected to take an
interest in a Latin nation, which made some people think that he was
more stupid than he really was.

I resolved to support the modern novel, not because I knew much about
it, but because I did not intend to be on the same side as Lambert, and
I went to the Union and listened to a debate in which two men from
Cambridge spoke and one man from London.  Speaking seemed to be easy to
these people, but perhaps the presence of the London man--he was very
distinguished--acted as a check to orators who were not quite sure of
themselves.  At any rate the distinguished man made a great impression,
he deplored the spread of taste among the lower classes, and he was
very sad and eloquent about organized excursions which he said
consisted chiefly of meals.  To my mind he went on deploring far too
long, for if anybody does remember Rome by what he had for dinner
there, and forgets everything about Venice except his tea, his
temporary absence from England is not exactly a disaster, and the
Italians are glad to have him.  Craddock of Balliol, who spoke before
the man from London, was crushed for dealing with the subject in a
frivolous manner, but I was not persuaded that a serious debate about
English Tourists would make them any less humorous or plentiful.  That
debate did me good in one way, for I was so angry with this man of
distinction that I wished I could have told him what I thought, and for
three consecutive mornings I addressed an imaginary audience while I
was having my bath.  But if my remarks had been made at the Union I am
afraid they would have caused a tumult, they were more suited to the
House of Commons, where, if the worst happens, you have the consolation
of being led out by a dignified official, and can read about your
departure in the newspapers of the following morning.  I was so worried
about my speech that I mentioned it to several men, and most of them
said that they would come to the debate, which was the last thing I
wanted them to do.  I had, however, to go through with it, so I
consoled myself by the thought that I couldn't be duller than some of
the people whom I had heard speaking at our debates; but when I went
into the common room and found a larger crowd of men there than I had
ever seen at a previous meeting, I wished that I had never come near
the place.  Before Lambert spoke we had to go through a lot of private
business, which consisted chiefly of attempts by the college wags to be
funny.  Some men cultivate the special form of humour which shines at
private business, but on this occasion all our wags were either absent
or silent, and the President and Secretary of the debating society had
a very peaceful evening.

When Lambert got up to pulverize the modern novel a great many men, who
had only come in for a rag, left the room, but Dennison, Webb and some
others who knew that I intended to speak, remained, and I made up my
mind that they should wait a very long time if they meant to hear me.
There was not a trace of nervousness about Lambert; he shot his cuffs,
stroked his upper lip with one finger, and was really rather a comical
figure, though I should think that every one was not so much amused at
the things he said as at his magnificent manner while saying them, for
he had nothing new to say about the influence of popular fiction.  He
referred to authors who draw their inspiration from the Bible in terms
of lordly condescension, and then, changing his manner suddenly, he
spoke of the rise and fall of Stratford-upon-Avon in such mournful
tones that any one who did not know him might have imagined that he was
on the verge of tears.

No speech of his, however, was complete without a peroration, and on
this evening he surpassed himself.  "You," he began, "who buy books
without a thought of what you are buying, who are guided in your taste
for fiction by the advertisements and buy a novel with as little care
as you would buy a pair of scissors, who think, if you ever think, and
I have already said that you do not, that because there are fifty
thousand tasteless people in the world there is no reason why you
should not swell that crowd, you are responsible for the decay of the
novel.  Traditions are dying, helped to their death by prize
competitions and personal paragraphs, and Oxford is the home of
tradition, for Oxford was invented before Eton.  We care no longer for
what is best but for what is most talked about, in our fiction we look
for scandals and not for literature, and unless there is a reaction the
man who can blush will become a curiosity, fit only for exhibition on
the Music Hall stage or in the Zoological Gardens.  It is a serious
matter.  The Philistines must be met and routed, we know that of old
this was their usual fate, it seems to have been the chief reason for
their existence.  For my part I think a day ill-spent in which I have
not read a few pages of Fielding or Thackeray.  I have the most kindly
feelings towards Dickens, Jane Austen and George Eliot, and when I am
tired I write little things myself."

He sat down and looked blandly in front of him; if he had been less
pleased with himself he would not have been anything like so amusing.

A senior man called Ransome got up to defend the modern novel, and the
debate at once became serious.  In about five minutes Ransome would
have made most men feel crushed and unhappy, but Lambert only spread
out his legs and shut his eyes.  Ransome was not only a good speaker
but also one of the cleverest men in the 'Varsity, and he scored time
after time without disturbing Lambert's equanimity.  I think that
Lambert's enormous and somnolent bulk must have annoyed Ransome, for he
went on to make an attack which was virulently sarcastic.  In his
speech Lambert had been foolish enough to say nothing in favour of
modern novels, he had taken it for granted that all of them were bad,
and Ransome fastening on this accused him of never having heard of
George Meredith and Thomas Hardy, and he finished by appealing to us
not to be guided in our tastes and opinions by a man whose assumptions
were based on tremendous ignorance.

After Ransome had finished Lambert woke up, which was silly of him, but
I must admit that he looked exactly as if he had been roused from a
deep sleep.  A number of men spoke, and most of them said something
which I had intended to say, until there was very little of my speech
left which could sound original.  As each man sat down, Dennison and
Webb had the impertinence to shout "Marten," but they were always
called to order by the President, who was in no hurry to hear my maiden
effort.  Collier, who had not come to hear me from inclination but a
sense of duty, dozed peacefully in a corner, a number of men recorded
their votes and left the room, the President yawned prodigiously, and
the Secretary looked as if he had got a headache.  If I intended to
speak before Lambert replied to all the criticisms passed upon him, my
time had come.  I got up as quietly as I could, but I was greeted with
so much applause that I felt quite embarrassed.  Jack Ward had come in
from dining somewhere, and when he saw Dennison and Webb clapping
because they expected to be amused, he resolved to make more row than
they did.  I could not complain of my reception, but why I received it
is not worth discussing.  However the mere sight of Dennison made me
determined not to make a fool of myself and I got rid of my first
sentence without a hitch, and then I was all right for some time
because the walls of my bedder had heard my speech very often and I
knew it well.  Jack Ward kept on applauding violently, he meant well
but he did it in the most awkward places, and he made me forget one
thing which Foster had provided.  Dennison laughed a little, but he had
to wait before he got an opportunity of trying to make me appear
especially ridiculous.

"We read too much and think too little," I said, and this was the
opening of a sentence which had caused me a lot of trouble until Murray
helped me to put it right, but Dennison saw his chance and interrupted
me by saying, "We talk too much and think too little, is what you
mean," which was an exasperating remark when I had very nearly finished
without any bother.  So I turned round and told him that I could say
what I liked without asking him.  The President shouted "Order," but he
looked too sleepy to care much what happened.

"At any rate I suppose you cribbed it from last week's _Spectator_, and
I know it was 'Talk too much,' because I saw it."

"If Mr. Marten thinks he can improve upon anything taken from the
_Spectator_ he is at perfect liberty to do so," the President said very
sarcastically, and I felt badly scored off.

"It's all very well," I said to him, "but these interruptions have made
me forget where I have got to."

"About the bottom of your second cuff, I should think," Dennison called
out, and I could not stand that libel, so I addressed the rest of my
speech to him.  It was, at any rate, fluent, and although the President
tried to stop me I had a merry if short innings before I finished.
Dennison was too much for me, he never lost his temper while I was so
angry that I forget exactly what happened, but when I met the President
in the quad on the following morning and apologized to him, he was kind
enough to say that he hoped I should speak again during the next term,
although as he would be reading hard he was afraid that he would not
have the pleasure of hearing me.  He was a curious man, and I could not
help wondering whether he would have wished me to speak if he had not
been too busy to listen, but I did not care to risk asking him that
question.

The Lent Term at Oxford is rather a dull one for men who do not row,
run, or play soccer.  In my time golfers were thought dull whether they
played golf or only talked about it.  I did run in our college sports
because Collier said I wouldn't, and Collier ran because I said he
couldn't, the result was that we competed in a half-mile handicap in
which he received the munificent start of eighty-five yards, while I
had to worry through the whole distance with the exception of twenty
yards.  Collier bet me five shillings that he would defeat me in that
race, and I thought I had found an easy way of making a little money,
but a half-mile is a long distance for two men without much wind, and
when I caught Collier up about two hundred yards from the finish we
agreed to cancel our bet and walk to the pavilion.  Collier could not
speak without gasping for a quarter of an hour, and then he expressed
the determination of retiring permanently from the running path.



CHAPTER XI

A CRICKET MATCH AT BURTINGTON

The summer term at Oxford would be even more pleasant than it is if it
did not start in April and finish when the summer is just beginning.  I
do not wish to say anything about weather, but without taking an
interest in the abnormal quantities of rain or wanting to know why the
sun shines so seldom, I do think that if the success of a term depends
largely upon an English May, it is apt to be very limited.  I have been
told so often by quite truthful men that there are other people besides
undergraduates to be considered in Oxford, that I have never felt so
convinced about anything, except that Queen Anne is dead; but all the
same it seems to me that the undergraduate is not given a chance of
being comfortably warm for any length of time.  And if the authorities
who fix the terms, or if they like it better, the academical year,
would understand that an undergraduate is a far nicer man when he is
comfortable, they might be inclined to cease from compelling him to
play cricket when it is impossible to think of anything but the biting
wind.

For my own part I am certain that I have never wanted to break rules or
windows when the sun shines, but some men, when they become depressed
by the weather, turn their thoughts to throwing things about, and there
are so many windows in a quad that wherever you throw you seem to hit
one of them.  The only window I smashed was not entirely my fault, for
Ward ducked his head just as a tennis-ball was going to hit it; the
Subby, however, who was trying to instil logic into a lot of pass
"mods" men, was annoyed by broken glass falling into his lecture-room.
This was a bad beginning to the summer term, but had it not rained for
nearly two days I should have been playing cricket that morning, and if
Ward's head had happened to be in front of the Subby's lecture-room I
should not have been there to throw at it.  I tried to explain this to
the Subby, but there is a certain kind of reasoning which does not make
much impression on either dons or schoolmasters.  I asked him if he
thought any man who was booked to play cricket all day could sit down
at once and work when he heard that his match was scratched, and he
answered, "Undoubtedly."  The Subby was a nice enough man in some ways,
but in others he was simply hopeless.  He was not so absolutely
unapproachable as Mr. Edwardes, for although you had got to imagine for
all you were worth you could think of him as an "undergrad," but when
Murray and I tried to persuade ourselves that Mr. Edwardes had once
been only twenty years old we wasted our time, and Murray told me that
I was always trying to do impossible things.

Oxford, however, is a good place when you are only playing at summer,
and it is really splendid if you are lucky enough to have a fine May
and early June.  I went back there full of enthusiasm, I meant to do a
hundred things, but I am afraid my programme was a little too full; to
carry it out successfully I required the co-operation of the Subby and
Mr. Edwardes, and no one but an enthusiast, or a fool, would have
thought he was likely to get it.  My experiences with Mr. Edwardes
during my second term had been placidly uneventful, but they had been
gained by very great effort on my part, and they did not seem to have
been worth the effort, since my tutor was almost as great an iceberg at
the end of the term as he had been at the beginning.  He could not
thaw, but I never found out that until I had spent many unsuccessful
interviews with him.  I thought after going through one term without
offending him that I was what golfers, I believe, would call "one up,"
and I felt that it would be an easy matter to increase my score, but I
made a great mistake.  Mr. Edwardes did not realize in the least that
cricket is a very important and tiring game.  I told him frankly that I
wanted to enjoy myself during my first summer term, and that if my work
was neglected a little I hoped he would understand the reason.  He
failed to understand it, and instead of being pleased with my candour,
he took up a sort of pouncing attitude.  He was fairly on the look-out,
and when a don gets into that state it is not likely he is going to
watch for nothing.

In the freshers' match Foster and I were on opposite sides, which
seemed to me a very poor kind of arrangement even before we began, and
what I thought of it after the match was over is not worth saying.  The
weather on the first day of the game was never intended for cricket,
and I have very rarely seen a nose glow quite so gorgeously as the
umpire who no-balled me twice in my first over.  I actually began the
bowling, though I think the reason for this honour must have been that
Cross of Magdalen, who was secretary to the 'Varsity XI. and captained
our side, knew my name.  Foster and Henderson began the batting, and my
first ball which was supposed to be directed at Foster's wicket was a
most abominable wide, the second and third he hit to the boundary, the
fourth was a no-ball, and I really forget what happened after that, but
I know that it was the sort of over which seemed as if it would never
end.  I had not been no-balled before, and this unexpected misfortune
made my bowling quite comically bad.  Cross kept me on for seven overs,
because as I heard him say afterwards he thought the beginning was too
bad to be true.  Foster made 128 and Henderson 93, I got one wicket for
78 runs, but the man I got out was not supposed to be a batsman, and he
confided to me as we went back to the pavilion that his highest score
for his school during the last season had been 5.  This information on
the top of my inglorious performance was really rather trying; he
might, I thought, have kept it to himself, but he had made 11 and was
unduly elated.  Their side made 358, and our two innings only totalled
301; I went in last, with the exception of Cross, and made such
furiously ineffective efforts to hit some leg-breaks, that Rushden of
New College, who was a most serious cricketer and captain of the
'Varsity XI., was compelled to laugh.  But I did land one ball into the
shrubbery, which was the only moment during the match when I felt that
cricket in a cold wind was worth playing.  After it was all over,
however, I was delighted that Fred had started so well, and it did not
surprise me at all when I saw that my name was not down to play for the
Sixteen Freshmen against the 'Varsity XI.; in fact I should have been
very surprised if Rushden had not made up his mind about me.  Both Fred
and Henderson did well in this second trial match and were chosen to
play for the Varsity against the M.C.C., while I went back to college
cricket and lived upon what reputation I had brought from Cliborough
for quite three weeks.  I could not get any wickets however much I
tried until we played Pembroke, who were not exactly a strong batting
side, and to make things easier for me they had their three best men
away.  After this match I got my college colours, but I am afraid that
it is doubtful if I deserved them.

Jack Ward played for the College XI., but his best scores were made for
the St. Cuthbert's Busters, who played villages round Oxford, and were
not very depressed if they were beaten.  Collier, Lambert and Dennison
also played for the Busters, and a kind of truce had been patched up
between Jack and Dennison, because Jack said that it was too much
trouble to keep up a quarrel with any one whom he was always meeting,
and Dennison was at that time so occupied with other schemes that he
treated Jack as if he was his dearest friend.

Some senior men in the college were getting very dissatisfied with the
state of it, for they said that it was all right to have an occasional
rag if we had anything to rag about; but as we did not seem able to
row, play footer or cricket, we had better keep quiet.  They did
nothing except talk, and Dennison played up to them with all his might;
he had got his half-blue for racquets, and they, not knowing him as
well as Jack, Collier and I did, thought that he was really keen on the
college.  But, as a matter of fact, he howled with laughter when our
torpid went down six places, and said that if men were fools enough to
row they deserved to be laughed at, whatever happened to them.

No one wants to belong to a college which can do nothing but howl at
night, since the greatest slackers in the 'Varsity howl the loudest.
Dennison worked hard for popularity among senior men, but he cared
nothing for the college, and several of the freshers knew that if he
got a set round him who intended to manage the place, St. Cuthbert's
was doomed as far as athletics were concerned.  He was made for some
college which is in the habit of having only one blue every ten years
or so, and may possibly treat him as if he is a very fine specimen when
they have got him.

We could not help doing well in the schools, because we always had
scholars who took Firsts with beautiful regularity; but no one thought
very much about it, since it was a thing to which every one in the
'Varsity was accustomed.

Even Fred Foster told me that it was a pity St. Cuthbert's was going
downhill so fast; but apart from being angry there was nothing for me
to do, except wait.  Our dons, taken in the mass, wanted us to work and
be quiet; they did not care what happened to our eight or our eleven,
and when a man got his blue he was generally told that he must not
allow it to interfere with his reading.  Unless dons meet
undergraduates half-way a college is bound, sooner or later, to suffer;
but a little humanity can do wondrous things.  During my first year the
Warden was the only don who was kind to me, and though I liked him so
much that I forgave him for not appreciating the difference between
bumping and being bumped, I must confess that his kindness was of a
peculiar kind.  St. Cuthbert's, in the opinion of the 'Varsity, had
begun to go down rapidly, and we got very little sympathy from anybody
outside the college.  The outlook was gloomy enough, for I was bound to
have rows with Mr. Edwardes as long as I had anything to do with him,
and if I could have been of any use in trying to improve things, I knew
that unless some new dons came I should have to spend most of my time
in looking after myself.  I wished that Fred had come to St.
Cuthbert's, for Murray was too quiet to do anything, Collier was too
sleepy, and Jack Ward seemed to be as happy-go-lucky as I was.

It looked as if Dennison was bound to win in the long run, for he was a
thousand times cleverer at getting what he wanted than any of us, and
he had the great advantage of knowing what he did want.  His aim, I
knew, was to be the leader of a set who gambled and yelled and played
games which he thought were fit for bloods to play.  Slackness during
the day and liveliness at night were briefly his programme, and though
it is all very well to be lively at night, it seemed to some of us that
if we were to sink to the bottom of the river and care nothing for the
reputation of the college, we were in for a very bad time.  By nature
both Jack Ward and I were cheerful, and if it had not been for hating
Dennison I don't think that I should have wanted to check my
cheerfulness.  As it was, I had a vague sort of feeling that what
Dennison liked must be wrong.

I saw Dennison as seldom as I could, but Jack Ward came to me one
morning when there was no college match, and when I had nothing to do
which could not conveniently be put off, to ask me to play for the
Busters.  Somebody had scratched at the last moment, and even if I had
not wanted to play I should have found a difficulty in resisting Jack.

We drove seven miles to a village called Burlington, and had great
difficulty in finding the wicket when we arrived, but our driver had
been there before, and insisted on us getting out by a field which
looked as if it might produce a bountiful crop of hay.  Lambert--who
had talked a lot about being asked to play for his county--pretended to
be very disgusted, and strode about as if he owned the whole place; we
had to be very rude to him, so that we might prevent him from hurting
the feelings of the Burlington men.

In the middle of the field a small space had been mown, and the pitch
itself, apart from a few holes, was not at all bad, but Bagshaw, who
was captaining the Busters, decided at once that he should keep wicket
because he did not want to stand up to his knees in grass.  The captain
of the Burtington team was the local publican, a hearty man who told us
in the same breath that he was very glad to see us, and that he had
played cricket for thirty years, boy and man.  His name was Plumb, and
I liked him very much; he played in both braces and a belt, because he
told us belts were ticklish things and braces sometimes burst.  I
answered that it was always well to be on the safe side, and we had
quite a confidential talk, until Lambert and Dennison came up and
interrupted us.  Lambert began to complain about the long grass, and I
was afraid Mr. Plumb might be offended, but I expect he had seen a good
many people like Lambert, and he only smiled compassionately at him.

"You see it's like this," he said, "this damp, not to call it a wet
spring, has made this yer grass grow, and what I say is that weather
that is good for farmers up to June is bad for us cricketers.  But,
bless me, there's nothing to complain of here--I've played cricket in
some funny places if you like, and many a dap on the side of the head
I've had in my time."

"This man," Dennison remarked, pointing at me, "is a very fast bowler."

Mr. Plumb shut one eye and looked at me with interest.  "Then," he
said, "I think you had better bowl up the hill; I have seen them kick a
bit at the other end, nothing to speak of, but Bill Higgs got his nose
cut open come next Saturday three weeks; he's a fast bowler if you
like, I've seen Spofforth and I've seen Mold, but for pace give me Bill
Higgs."

"Is he playing to-day?" Lambert asked as unconcernedly as he could.

"Oh yes, he's playing, he's the terror of the neighbourhood.  There he
is, the tall man, he's our policeman when he's not playing cricket.  My
eye, his arms are like tree-trunks," and Mr. Plumb left us and walked
over to talk to Bill Higgs, but I am not at all sure that he did not
wink at me before he went.

"You didn't score much there," I said to Dennison.

"Cricket isn't good enough in these outlandish holes," he answered, and
seized Collier to tell him about Bill Higgs.  Lambert went off hastily
to get a drink, and was not seen again until Bagshaw had won the toss
and decided to go in.

We began our innings with Lambert and Collier, and Bagshaw could not
have chosen a funnier pair.  There was some difficulty in getting them
ready, for Collier had left his pads behind, and we had a desperate job
to find any which were large enough to fit him, while Lambert was so
engaged in persuading us that Higgs on a bumping wicket was nothing to
a man who had been asked to play for his county that at one time he had
lost both his bat and his gloves.  Before they started Collier insisted
on tossing to see who should have first ball, and when he won Lambert
said it was of no consequence as he had always meant to have the first
ball.  The Burtington XI. waited patiently, and threw catches to each
other with extraordinary violence, but although Mr. Plumb had announced
that Higgs would begin the bowling, the terror of the neighbourhood had
not allowed us to see how fast he bowled.  There was an air of mystery
about Higgs, which the nine of us who were not at the wickets found
very entertaining, though Dennison, who was in next, looked anxious.

When our batsmen had got to the wickets it seemed as if the game would
never begin, for Lambert took guard three times and looked round the
ground so often to see where the fielders were placed that two or three
of the Burtington men from sheer weariness began to turn somersaults.
Higgs stood with the ball in his hand and talked to Collier, he knew
that he was a great man and was quite unmoved by Lambert's little
tricks.  At last there was no excuse for waiting any longer, and the
umpire, after Lambert had refused to have a trial ball, which I suppose
he thought would have been an undignified thing for him to do, called
"Play."  The mystery was solved immediately, Higgs bowled very fast
underhand, the kind of ball which is correctly termed a "sneak," but
unfortunately for Lambert the first one was straight and his bat was
still in the air when his middle stump was knocked to the ground.  The
Burtington XI. seemed to me to take this beginning as a
matter-of-course, and started throwing catches to each other without
even troubling to applaud Higgs.  Lambert walked very slowly from the
wickets, and when he got back to us he was smiling in his most
magnificently contemptuous manner.

"I thought you asked me to play cricket," he said to Bagshaw.  "I keep
a special bat for that sort of bowling, and I did not want to smash
this one."

He sat down on the grass, but we were all so suffocated by laughter
that none of us could condole with him, and if any one had ventured to
say "Bad luck," I am sure Lambert would have treated him with scorn.

Dennison had two balls which did not bowl him, but Higgs made no
mistake with the next one, and the Burlington men played catch once
more.  In the end we managed to make 33, though hardly any of the runs
were made off Higgs, and twelve of them came from two balls which were
lost quite close to the wickets.  Nine of the Burtington men made 18
runs, for Collier bowled very straight until he got hopelessly out of
breath, and then Bagshaw, who laughed all the time Collier was bowling,
would not take him off, though the wretched man was panting like a
grampus.  "This last fellow is sure to be a 'sitter,'" Bagshaw said,
"here is Collier's chance to bowl right through an innings, I don't
suppose he has ever done it before."

But Collier, who was searching after breath and not troubling about
records, was indignant with Bagshaw, and when Lambert, who said that
the sun was in his eyes, missed two catches off consecutive balls,
Collier said something to him at the end of the over which disturbed
the harmony of our XI. for several minutes.  Unfortunately the last
Burtington batsman was more of a wag than a "sitter," he was the funny
man of the team, and was so delighted with his own wit that Bagshaw
said it would be a shame not to let him enjoy himself.

"Every village team has its funny man," he said, "and we are jolly
lucky to get him in last."  I am sure Bagshaw was what is called a good
sportsman, but he was too kind to be a good captain.  I thought Sam
Jenks was a harmless idiot when he came in with only one pad, and that
on the wrong leg, but by the time he had fooled us out of eight or nine
runs I was simply sick to death of him.  Lambert stated in a loud voice
that it was not cricket, and Collier, who was most completely
disorganized both in body and temper, retorted that if it had been
cricket Lambert would not have been playing; while Sam, who in some
ways was not such an ass as he tried to make out, played the next ball
slowly to Lambert at short leg, and ran down the pitch exhorting him to
throw it at Collier's head as soon as he got hold of it.  Possibly this
advice, combined with a natural inability to stoop quickly, made
Lambert even slower than usual in picking up the ball, but when he did
pick it up he threw it violently at the wicket to which Sam was
running.  There was some doubt whether he threw at Sam or at the
wickets, but he missed whatever he intended to hit and the ball went
yards away into the long grass, where it remained until four runs had
been made and Burtington had won the match.

Immediately afterwards Sam fell over his wickets in trying to make a
stylish stroke with one leg poised in the air, and an excursion of
Burtingtonians, headed by Mr. Plumb, sallied forth and carried him
shoulder-high to the tent, where he was given much refreshment.

One or two men on our side tried to persuade Bagshaw that there was
plenty of time left to make as many runs as we wanted and to get the
Burtington men out again, but when Mr. Plumb was told what we were
talking about he came out of the tent and joined us.  He was inclined
to be elated, and seizing Bagshaw by the arm said he should like to
have a word with him.  They walked away from the rest of us, and, as a
friend of Mr. Plumb's, I went with them.

"Cricket is cricket, that's what I say, sir," Mr. Plumb began, and
Bagshaw, whose manners were perfectly splendid, assented without a
smile.

"But in this yer little village there are what the parson calls local
considerations, which I as captain of this team have got to consider."

Bagshaw inquired quite patiently what these considerations were.

"Well, it's like this, I keep The Reindeer, and the parson he's a
teetotaller, not one of those stumping men who think because they drink
nothing nobody else ought to, but what I should call broad-minded for a
man who drinks nothing but water.  Now what the parson says to me is
this: 'You give these young gentlemen luncheon for which they pays
half-a-crown ahead, and it's worth it, and my missis drives up in the
pony-cart at five and gives everybody tea.'  It's like a bargain, you
understand."

Bagshaw understood most thoroughly and tried to stop the flow of Mr.
Plumb's conversation, but that excellent captain talked on for another
five minutes, until two of our men who knew Bagshaw better than I did,
took upon themselves to walk to the wickets.  Then Mr. Plumb began to
collect his men, which seemed to be a difficult matter, and it was
half-past four before we began again.  At five o'clock tea was ready
and the game was interrupted for so long that we gave up all thoughts
of winning it, but I heard afterwards from the parson himself that as a
general rule only the batting side had tea and the other XI. had to
take their chance of getting some.  I believe we should have won that
match if Mr. Plumb had captained our side, but the Busters were
generally beaten, which possibly accounted for the fact that most of
the villages round Oxford said they were a splendid eleven.  No team
which contained Lambert could help being splendid, but as regards
cricket we were the most futile side it is possible to imagine, and
Bagshaw, who was a really good sort, was also exactly the right man to
captain it.

In our second innings Lambert made nine runs, which was not a great
score for a man who said he had been asked to play for his county, but
was unfortunately enough to make him very pleased with himself, and
when he got into that state of mind he was a dangerous man, for he
always wanted to do something which was better left undone.  On this
occasion he persuaded Jack Ward that a little dinner at The Reindeer
would be the most sporting way of finishing the evening, and I have
never seen any one support a suggestion more heartily than Mr. Plumb
did this one of Lambert's.  He had a couple of beautiful ducklings
waiting to be cooked, some lamb which would be wasted upon any one but
real gentlemen, and some port which would make our hair curl.  Collier
listened to this and thought it too good to miss, so he backed up
Lambert, and Ward, who did not seem enthusiastic over the hair-curling
port, said he would stay if I would.  There were good reasons why I
should not stay and I mentioned them one by one, but although in the
lump they ought to have been enough to stop me, when mentioned singly
they did not seem to be very important.  Ward, however, saw that I did
not want to stay, and he was on the point of chucking up the whole
thing when Dennison said to Mr. Plumb, "You see, some of us are
frightened to death of the dons; it is a fairly rotten state to be in,
because we daren't call our lives our own."

That remark was directed at me, and if I had been sensible I should
have taken no notice of it, but unluckily I am one of those wretched
people who hate to hear that I am frightened of anybody or anything,
and for Dennison to tell Mr. Plumb such silly nonsense made me furious.
Of course I said that I would stay, and I saw Dennison wink at Lambert;
the brute was for ever scoring off me, he had a most unrighteous way of
getting what he wanted.

For some reason or other Bagshaw was always very decent to me, and when
he heard that Ward, Dennison, Collier, Lambert and I were going to
finish the evening at The Reindeer he asked me to come home in the
brake, but that gibe of Dennison's was heavy upon me and I had
determined to stick to my promise and do whatever came my way.  I did
not expect that the evening was going to be anything but a rowdy one,
for when Lambert did undertake a thing he went at it most zealously.
First of all he got Ward to wire and ask Bunny Langham to drive over
about ten o'clock and fetch us all back, and then he asked four or five
of the most comical people in the Burtington team to come to The
Reindeer after dinner and help at a smoking concert.  All of the
Burtington team came and a number of their friends, in fact I should
think that nearly all the labourers in the village were entertained by
us during the evening.  Mr. Plumb began by being very pleased, and the
evening ended in what local newspapers call "harmony," which is the
most polite way of saying that any one sang who liked and that the
discord was something terrible.  I sang a solo, the first and last time
I have ever done such a thing, but I was rapturously applauded by an
audience who were more kind and thirsty than critical.  My song was
"Tom Bowling," at least Ward said it was more like "Tom Bowling" than
anything else.

At half-past ten Bunny Langham had not come, and by some means or other
it was necessary that we should reach Oxford before twelve o'clock.
Dennison suggested that we should have a "go-as-you-please" contest
back to St. Cuthbert's, but Collier was not disposed to enter for a
race in which he was bound to be last, and told us that if we were
fools enough to go seven miles in an hour and a half, he would trouble
us to rout up some don when we got back to college and say that he had
been taken seriously unwell in Burlington, but hoped to be better in
the morning.  A man, who called himself a veterinary surgeon, but was
described by Mr. Plumb as a cow-doctor, said he would give Collier a
certificate of ill-health; I do not remember from what disease he was
supposed to be suffering.  The idea, however, of rushing seven miles as
hard as we could was crushed by Lambert, who was in a kind of "coach
and four" mood and very abusive.  He secured Mr. Plumb and having
pushed him into a corner stated that he required a pair of horses and a
wagonette, but Mr. Plumb was not in a condition to be addressed in
terms of authority.  His sense of importance had been increasing as the
evening went on, and from being a most innocently amusing man he had
become an obstinate and bibulous publican.  He would have nothing to
say to Lambert and declared that getting to Oxford was our business and
that we ought to have thought about it before.  The best thing to do
with such a man was to leave him to the remorse of the following
morning, but Lambert had an insane desire to talk and, I must admit, a
forcible way of talking.  There seemed to be a reasonable chance of a
row, for Mr. Plumb wasn't without supporters who were as tired of us as
we were of them, but Jack Ward managed to get hold of the cow-doctor
and persuaded him to find some vehicle to help us on our way.  As soon
as Mr. Plumb heard of this he declared that the cow-doctor was taking
the bread out of his mouth, but Ward told him if that was the case he
ought to have another drink, and after having it he became comatose and
unobstructive.

Finally we started from The Reindeer at eleven o'clock in a light
farm-cart, Ward and Dennison sitting on the seat with the driver, while
Collier, Lambert and I sat on the floor of the conveyance.  Lambert,
when not singing Bacchanalian songs, complained of the indignity and
discomfort of this performance, but I, having taken the precaution of
propping myself against Collier, who was accustomed to being used as a
cushion and very kind about it, was more sleepy than uncomfortable.
Besides, men who begin to think of being dignified towards midnight are
a nuisance, so I told Lambert he was a speechless idiot, which
statement I found to be positively untrue.

We had reached the outskirts of Oxford, and even Lambert had passed
from the state of song and abuse to that of sleep, when the cart was
drawn up with such a jerk that my head collided with Collier's, and I
heard Ward say--

"Why, Bunny, what the blazes are you doing here at this time of night?"
and Bunny answered with no unnecessary length, "Walking."

"But why?" Ward said.

"Exercise.  Any room for another pig in the bottom of that cart?"

"Jump up, quick," Ward answered, "it is a quarter to twelve, and jolly
lucky there is a moon or I should have missed you."

Bunny said that he was not going to hurry for any one, and wasted two
or three valuable minutes before we got him safely into the cart.  He
was in an exceedingly bad temper, and it was only by dint of
innumerable questions that we found that he had actually started to
drive to Burtington and that something disastrous had happened on the
journey.  The exact nature of that disaster none of us ever discovered,
but what Bunny wished us to believe was that he went to sleep and was
driven into by a furniture van, and since he had been kind enough to
start to Burtington we should have been a complete set of bounders if
we had not suppressed Dennison when he said that no one was likely to
believe such a tale as that.  Anybody with a grain of decency could see
that Bunny had been having a very bad time, and though we all thanked
him tremendously when we got out at St. Cuthbert's, and told the driver
to take him on to Christchurch as fast as he could, he just sat in the
bottom of the cart and said nothing.

"I am afraid Bunny's ill," Ward said to me as soon as we got into
college, and we blamed ourselves for not seeing him to "The House,"
though had we done so we could not have got back to St. Cuthbert's
until a quarter-past twelve.

On the following morning Ward went round to see Bunny and found him
drinking beer with his breakfast, which was a thing he never dared to
do unless he felt aggressively well.  Ward lunched with me and said
that Bunny was all right except that his feelings were in a state of
disorder.

"There is only one thing he is conceited about and that is his
driving," Ward explained, "and last night he was driving a cob which a
baby in arms could steer.  Well, Bunny got upset, and is so ashamed of
himself that he is angry with everybody else.  He will be all right by
dinner-time if he is left alone."



CHAPTER XII

THE USE AND ABUSE OF AN ESSAY

The day following the Burtington match was a very peaceful one, but the
evening brought with it a disturbance which was altogether unexpected.
I was engaged at nine o'clock to read an essay to Mr. Edwardes, and I
had been so energetic that I had written it two days before, which made
me feel virtuous.  The subject of the essay was "Impressions of Roman
Society as gathered from Cicero's Letters," and I had taken more than
ordinary trouble over it, for it was the sort of question which I could
not answer without definite knowledge.

I went to Murray's rooms after dinner, and I remember telling him that
I believed I had written something which would persuade my tutor that I
had at least made an attempt to satisfy him.  And Murray, who was
always trying to keep me out of rows and giving me help when I was in
them, read a little of it, and said that it was ever so much longer
than the one he had written.  As length meant work, I was very
satisfied with this remark of his, and I went off to Mr. Edwardes with
a feeling that he might be mildly pleased.

He greeted me coldly and sat down by the side of the table, with his
back almost turned to me; we did not even exchange our opinions about
the weather, and he was evidently as anxious for me to begin as I was
to finish.  My opening sentence was stamped by my own style.  If I say
that no one else would have written it, I only wish to record that no
one else would have thought it worth while; I will not quote it,
because when I tried to read this essay a year after I had written it,
I was struck by the fact that it was altogether too florid for
every-day use.  Mr. Edwardes objected strongly to phrases which seemed
to me beautifully rounded, and I gave them up slowly as one of my most
cherished possessions.  I could not share his feelings about them at
that time, whatever I may think of them now, and they formed a part of
a scheme to make my essays less dull, and what I was fain to think even
a little amusing.  But apart from my opening sentence I had in this
essay deprived myself of the pleasure of ornate phrasing and been as
solid as possible.  I had, however, taken great pains over my first
words.  I wished them to convey to Mr. Edwardes that I could still
annoy him if I liked, and afterwards I intended to show him that though
this power remained to me I was too kind to use it.  These were not
perhaps the reasons why I was compelled to write essays, and I doubt
whether he would ever have discovered my scheme even if I had read him
what I had written.  And I never did read it, for after I had finished
the first sentence and deprived it of much of its effect by getting the
stops mixed up, which made me want to read it over again, he turned
round in his chair so quickly that he bumped his arm against the table,
and if he had not been a don I should have asked him if he had hurt
himself.  But as my efforts to please dons by inquiring after their
health had not been successful, I went on reading until Mr. Edwardes
stood up, and feeling then that something had gone hopelessly wrong, I
stopped to look at him.

I could see that he was exceedingly angry, but why in the world he had
become so suddenly afflicted I had not an idea.

"I do not require to hear any more of that.  You may go," he said, and
he actually pointed to the door.  "But--" I began----

"You may go," he repeated, and since he looked as if he would continue
pointing towards the door until I obeyed him, I collected the pages on
which I had spent so much labour and walked slowly out of the room.  I
was too surprised to say anything more, and I did not even feel like
banging the door.  The only thought which occurred to me was that there
must have been something very improper in that cherished sentence, but
if my tutor imagined that I took any pleasure in indecencies, or would
write them consciously, I felt that he was a very silly man.  I stopped
on the stairs and began reading my essay again; there was simply
nothing in the beginning of it which could offend the most inquisitive
and conscientious Mrs. Grundy.  It might have bored any one, but the
person who could have blushed at it had not yet been born.

I was most completely puzzled, and when I went back to my rooms and
laid my rejected essay upon the table, I felt as if the only literature
I wished to see again was the Commination Service.  It had often been
my fate to displease masters and dons, but it was a new experience for
me to be turned out of a room without knowing in the least why I was
expected to go.  I came to the unsatisfying conclusion that Edwardes
had gone mad, and I determined to see Murray so that I might tell him
what had happened; but before I had finished writing a note which had
to be written, both Murray and Foster came into my rooms.

"Foster has got something to tell you," Murray said.

"Not half as much as I have got to tell you," I answered.

"I will bet you a shilling you think it more important, and you can
decide yourself," Murray replied.

I crammed my note into an envelope and looked at Fred, who was gazing,
rather stupidly I thought, at a photo of Nina which she had sent me a
few days before.

"How many did you make against Surrey this afternoon?" I asked him.

Murray began to laugh, which suggested to me that I was asking an
awkward question.  "Was it another blob?" I inquired.

"I made a hundred and two," Foster said, and looked quickly at me and
then again at that wretched photo.  I expect he was very anxious not to
seem too pleased with himself, but there was no reason why I should not
be as pleased as I liked, and for a minute I forgot all about Mr.
Edwardes.  I told Fred that he was simply a certainty for his blue, and
Murray again seemed to be amused.

"I have got it," Fred said quietly, and he stepped away from me,
fearing that my delight might be painful to him.

There is an extraordinarily small choice of things to do when you are
very delighted; just talking seemed to be hopelessly futile, and even
shouting was not satisfactory.  But I had to do something, so I opened
a bottle of port, which I knew both Fred and Murray disliked, and made
them drink some of it.  After Murray had tasted his and congratulated
Fred again, he put his glass down by the large bowl which I had bought
on my first expedition to the shops of Oxford, and presently fears of
dyspepsia gripped him so furiously that he emptied the wine into the
bowl, when he thought I was not looking.  It was '63 port given me by
my father, and if he had seen Murray getting rid of it in this way I am
sure that there would have been trouble; but I, not being oppressed by
a knowledge of vintages, just filled Murray's glass up again and kept
an eye on him to see what he would do with it.  I might, however, have
spared myself the trouble, for he had no intention of pretending to
drink two glasses, though he told me afterwards that some curious
impulse had compelled him to get rid of one, and he had decided that it
would be safer in the bowl than elsewhere.  In fact, he wished me to
believe that he had done this as a compliment to Foster, but I could
not follow his line of reasoning.

I sat and talked for a long time about the rottenness of the Cambridge
bowling--which, by the way, I had never seen--and the runs Fred was
sure to make in the 'Varsity match, until he tried very hard to stop me
saying anything more about cricket, and Murray set me going on another
subject when he remarked that it had not taken me long to read my essay.

"Edwardes has gone completely cracked," I stated.  Fred had often heard
me express a similar opinion about masters at Cliborough, and was not
inclined to think seriously of Edwardes' condition, but Murray had
curiosity enough to ask me what had happened.  "You saw the beginning
of my essay," I said to him, "and there was nothing in it which could
offend a baby in arms, was there?"

Murray said that as far as he knew I had been most modest, and he
added, quite unnecessarily, that the only criticism he had to make upon
it was that I had been asked to give Cicero's impression of Roman
society, and had preferred my own.  I was not going to set myself up
against Cicero even to please Murray, so I took no notice of his
remark, and went on with my grievance very slowly, for a grievance does
not get proper treatment if you spring it upon people; they just say
"What a confounded swindle," and go on talking about their own affairs.
I had been badly treated, and I intended to make the most of it, so I
did not mind being a bore if I could extract a little surprise and
sympathy from Fred and Murray.

"I took a lot of trouble over this essay, I changed my style----"

"The first sentence was fairly magnificent; it reminded me of Lambert
walking across the quad," Murray interrupted me by saying.

"I wrote that sentence on purpose so that Edwardes might enjoy the
contrast afterwards."

"There aren't many men who would have thought of that," Fred said, and,
as he was trying to rot me, I agreed with him quite seriously, and
added that I thought it was very kind of me to think so much about
Edwardes.

"But didn't he like the contrast?" Murray asked, and I thought the way
he looked at Fred, as if something was amusing him, was fairly hard
upon me.

"He would have liked it," I said emphatically, "if I had ever given him
a chance.  I mean if he had ever given me one."

"What do you mean?" Fred asked, and I could see that it was time for me
to come to the point of my tale.

"After I had read a sentence and a half, Edwardes hopped out of his
chair, glared at me and said he wanted to hear no more.  He then kicked
me out of the room, and what I want to know is the reason why he did
it; and if you two fellows can tell me that instead of grinning like
two Chinese idols, you will be of some use."  The recital of my
ill-treatment had made me annoyed with both Fred and Murray.

Neither of them said anything for a moment, but both of them were, I
regret to say, amused.  They missed the serious injustice of my story
altogether, and though there was some excuse for Fred, who must have
found it difficult to think of anything except his blue, there was no
reason why Murray should not do or say something to show how sorry he
was for me.

"He couldn't have turned you out of the room for that," was all he said.

"I tell you he did, and he was angry, very angry.  The man has gone
utterly and hopelessly cracked; it is just my luck to get a lunatic for
a tutor," I replied, forgetting for the instant that Murray also had a
share in Edwardes.

"He was sane enough yesterday," Murray said.

"Perhaps he is one of those fellows who is affected by the sun," Foster
put in.

"There has been precious little sun to-day," Murray, who was in a most
aggravating mood, declared.

"I never said anything to him, but just began to read my essay, and
then he jumped on me.  I shall complain to the Warden and see what he
has to say about it.  I like the Warden," I added, by way of showing
Murray that I could appreciate a reasonable don when I found one.

Fred said that the whole thing was extraordinarily queer, and that
there must be some explanation of it; but Murray, after being quiet for
a minute, began to fidget like a man who has been puzzling over an
acrostic, and is beginning to discover what it is all about.  My people
used to do acrostics, and, when they were completely defeated, I did
not mind being in the same room with them; but, as soon as they got
some clue, my father fairly ramped around seeking books which he could
not find, or asking me for information which I could not give him.  He
had the acrostic mania quite badly.

"I can tell you why Edwardes kicked you out; at least I believe I can,"
he said at last.

"Well, let us have it quick," I answered.

"In the common-room the night before last you said that you were going
to town to-day and that you wouldn't be able to read your essay to
Edwardes."

"I was going up to see a dentist, and he wrote that he couldn't see
me," I replied.

"And Dennison heard you say that you were going?"

"The silly fool tried to make out that I was manufacturing the dentist
story.  He simply makes me sick, but I don't see what he can have to do
with this."

"Did you see either Dennison or Learoyd in hall to-night?"

"They weren't there, because I heard Webb asking Collier whether he had
seen them."

"I've never heard of Learoyd," Foster said, and considering that he had
just got his blue I am afraid he must have spent a very dull time, for
he was accustomed to see me in trouble, and might reasonably have been
annoyed to find that even on this special evening I was in my usual
state.  However, he did not seem to mind very much.

"Learoyd is Dennison's latest discovery," I said; "but he has been
found by the wrong man."

"He is an exhibitioner and Edwardes is his tutor," Murray added; "and
this afternoon about six o'clock I met Dennison coming out of here and
Learoyd was waiting at the bottom of the staircase."

"What on earth was Dennison doing in here?" I asked.

"You aren't much good at guessing," Murray answered; "but I should say
that having heard that you were not going to read your essay to
Edwardes, and Learoyd not having done one to read, Dennison told him he
would borrow yours.  I heard you tell Ward that it was just like your
luck to have written an essay when you wouldn't be able to read it, and
Dennison must have heard you say the same thing."

"Do you mean that Learoyd had been reading out my stuff two or three
hours before I went to Edwardes?" I asked, for port always makes my
head feel stuffy however little I drink, and I wanted everything put
quite clearly before me.

"I should say so," Murray replied.

My next remarks do not matter, but as soon as I had passed the
explosive state I said, "That all comes from altering my style, and if
I hadn't Edwardes must have known that it was my essay."

"Confound your style," Foster replied, "it seems to me that this is
likely to land you in a very fair row unless we do something at once.
What sort of man is Learoyd?"

"I hardly knew him until this term, and when I didn't know him I rather
liked him, but he has been about a lot with Dennison, and seems to be
going to the bad as hard as he can be pushed," I answered.

"That's true enough," Murray said; "Learoyd was one of the nicest men
up here until this term, and then Dennison took a fancy to him and the
idiot has chucked up working and spends his time trying to be a blood.
I know his people, and have tried all I know to persuade him that he
will never make a successful blood--he isn't made for one--but I have
done no good.  Marten isn't in it with Learoyd for rows with Edwardes,
and the worst of it is that if his exhibition was taken away it would
be serious.  His people are most frightfully hard up."

"That makes the whole thing a thousand times more complicated," I
replied, "I can't give a man away who is in a hole already.  I had
better sit still and see what happens."

"I should think you had better go and see Learoyd," Foster said, "he
can't be in a bigger hole than you are."  He got up to go, and I said
that I should wire to my people in the morning and tell them he had got
his blue, but he told me that they knew already, and asked me if I had
heard that Nina was coming up during the next week to see the last
nights of the eights.

"I had a letter from her last night," he continued, "and she said that
Mrs. Marten was going to write to you."

"Who is coming up with her?" I asked, and I felt that if I never wrote
to Nina, there was no reason why she should not write to me.

"She is going to stay at the Rudolf with the Faulkners.  They are
coming next Monday morning," and having told me this, which he knew I
should not like, he was kind enough to go away before I told him again
what I thought of Mrs. Faulkner.  For when Fred had been staying with
me at home the Faulkners were a fertile source of dispute between us.
The Faulkners had plenty of money, nothing to do, and no children; they
entertained a great deal, and had a mania for taking people up, as it
is called.  I am almost certain that Mrs Faulkner tried to take me up
once, but unfortunately I was expected to run in double harness with a
fellow who wore a yellow tie and was no use at anything except talking.
I put up with him for nearly the whole of an afternoon, until he told
me that an ordinary dahlia, over which he was gushing, reminded him of
the sun rising over the Hellespont, and that was altogether too much
for me.  I left him and offended Mrs. Faulkner by telling her what I
thought of him, and she told my mother that it was such a pity that I
was so _gauche_.  It took me a long time to forgive her for saying
that, and I wished Nina was coming to Oxford with some one who did not
bother my mother with her opinions.

I sat and pondered over this visit for some time, while Murray kept on
telling me that Learoyd would be in bed if I did not hurry over to see
him.  But what good I could get out of seeing him I could not
understand, and Murray became quite abusive before I started.

I knew Learoyd only in the most casual way, and I had never been in his
rooms in my life, so I should not have been disappointed if he had been
out.  I found him, however, sitting by himself, and my first impression
was that he was either very sleepy or very sad, but whatever was the
matter with him he could hardly have wanted to see me.  He was good
enough, however, to say he was glad that I had come.

The conversation flagged for two or three minutes until he roused
himself suddenly.  "I have got the most vile attack of the blues
to-night," he said, "and somehow or other I can't shake them off."  He
seized a decanter of whisky and began pouring some of it into a glass,
and then I did one of those things which I do impulsively and which are
occasionally right.  I put my hand on his arm and said, "That stuff
will only put them off until to-morrow morning."  He looked at me for a
moment and sat down again.  "Why does every one preach to me?" he
asked.  "I shouldn't have thought you were that sort, though you are a
friend of Dick Murray's."  He was not angry, but just hopelessly tired
of everything, and he looked so wretched that I felt really sorry for
him.

"I don't preach," I answered, "though if I could remember half the
things which have been fired off at me they would make a mighty fine
sermon.  When people take any notice of me they think that I want
looking after and they begin to do it, the others leave me alone and
say that I shall come to a bad end."

He was evidently feeling so miserable about everything that I thought
he might like to hear these dismal prophecies about my future.  I even
thought they might cheer him up, and make him see that we were in the
same boat.  But I made a mistake, for he was annoyed at the idea that
my future could possibly be as great a failure as his.

"You wouldn't say these things if you really thought you were in a
hopeless muddle.  I have gone through it all this term, and I know.  I
have tried to laugh, and I have drunk until I didn't care what
happened, but it is all no use.  I have made a mess of everything, and
there is no one to blame except myself.  And then this utterly idiotic
row comes on the top of everything."

He sat looking in front of him, and did not seem to remember that I was
in the room, and the thought passed through my mind that I should be
glad to wring Dennison's neck.  I asked him twice what row he was
talking about before he spoke.

"Hasn't Dennison told you?" he asked.  "I left him about an hour ago,
and he said he would go and see you.  I thought that was what you had
come here for, though of course nothing can be done."

"I haven't seen Dennison," I said, and added, "I never do if I can help
it," for Learoyd's statement that nothing could be done had given me no
satisfaction.

"You said that you had done an essay for Edwardes which you weren't
going to read.  I hadn't done mine, so Dennison said you wouldn't mind
me using yours.  He got it, and I went to Edwardes at six o'clock to
read it, but as soon as I started he began to jump about as if
something was stinging him, and after I had read about half a page he
kicked me out of the room."

"The man is mad after all," I said.

"No, he isn't, I wish he was," Learoyd continued.  "This is what
happened: Collier stayed in his rooms this afternoon to do his essay,
but went to sleep, and never woke up until it was too late to do it,
and then he remembered that you had one which wanted using so he read
it to Edwardes at five o'clock.  I wish to goodness he hadn't put it
back in your rooms."

This was too much for me, and although Learoyd looked as miserable as
ever, I had to laugh.

"You wouldn't be so amused if you were in for the row I am," he said,
"they will probably take away my exhibition."

"I am in for exactly the same row," I answered.  "I tried to read that
essay to Edwardes after dinner, and he looked as if he was going to
have a fit.  I was out of the room in no time."

Then Learoyd and I just sat for two or three minutes and laughed until
he felt ever so much better.

"What are we to do next?" he asked.  "After all, it was your essay."

"It was no wonder Edwardes jumped about," I said, "I thought he was
mad."

"So did I, until I saw Collier.  But what are we to do?"

"You say you are in a fairly tight hole," I replied.

"Yes," he said, "I have been in for row after row all this term."

"Then I won't claim this wretched essay, and it can't matter to
Collier, because he hasn't got anything which the dons can take away."

"What do you mean?" he asked.

"Why, Collier has got to tell Edwardes he borrowed the thing, and I
shall sit tight, so they will naturally think it is yours."

"I can't stand that," he replied.

"Why not?" I asked.  "They won't do anything desperate to me, and of
course Collier won't mind at all."

I talked until I thought that Learoyd saw how much better my
arrangement was than anything he could suggest, and although he would
not promise to do what I proposed, I thought that I had arranged
everything when I left him.  But Learoyd was not the sort of man who
would get out of a row by sacrificing any one else, and on the
following morning both he and Collier went to Edwardes and told him
exactly what had happened.  It was very nice of them to do it, but it
deprived me of the comfortable feeling of having done Learoyd a really
good turn, and brought me to the ground again rather too abruptly to
please me.  So having been kicked out of the room for nothing, I went
at once to Edwardes and tried to convey to him, as one man would to
another, that I would forget his treatment of me if he would let off
Collier and Learoyd, but especially Learoyd, as lightly as possible.
That mission of mine, however, was a mistake.  Mr. Edwardes said he was
not in a position to bargain with any undergraduate, and that he had no
doubt that should the dons require my assistance in managing the
college they would ask me to help them.  After I had left him I should
think he must have regretted saying such sarcastic things, for Learoyd
only got a final warning that his exhibition would be taken away at the
end of the term unless he worked properly, and nothing whatever
happened to Collier.  But I am afraid Edwardes never gave me the credit
for my essay which I felt that I deserved.



CHAPTER XIII

NINA COMES TO OXFORD

There can be few men in Oxford who do not enjoy themselves during
Eights' Week, and I imagine that the only miserable people to be found
are those who happen to be in an eight which is bumped several times
during the week.  If any one is so misguided that he wants to make a
study of depression I should advise him to take a seat on the barge of
a college which has a very bad eight, and if he waits until the boat
comes back to the barge he will see some of the most unsmiling faces in
the world.

Rowing is a most serious form of sport, and no one can wonder that a
crew which has been bumped is unable to look very cheerful.  It seems
to me that a rowing man deserves a lot of credit even if he rows very
badly; indeed I am not sure that the man who rows the worst does not
deserve the most credit, for he has gone through the same drudgery as
the rest of the crew, and has probably been sworn at a thousand times
more often.  I should be very surprised if a rowing man at the end of
so much forcible criticism and strenuous labour could smile when his
boat is bumped.  I know that if I had ever been in a boat which had
been bumped, and the only reason why I have not been is because I have
never rowed in a bumping race, I should want to hit somebody over the
head with my oar or denounce the cox.  Coxes, indeed, have told me that
although they have never seen my first wish put into practice, my
second is such an ordinary occurrence that the cox who has not suffered
from it must be either deaf or a genius.  And if a reasonable man
cannot help being sorry for an eight which has toiled many weeks only
to be bumped, I think he ought to be far more sorry for the cox, whose
cool appearance when the rest of his crew are hot and angry, is in
itself an aggravation.

I must say, however, that the only cox I ever knew well could not have
failed to deserve all he ever heard, he was one of those pretentious
little people who can only be described by the word "perky," and his
side was simply terrific.  But all the same, if a very small man goes
up to Oxford and guesses that it will be his fate to steer slow eights
during the time he is there, I should advise him to start a society for
the protection of coxes, and elect himself the first president.  He
will not do the slightest good, but he will get some fun from being
president, and he will also be able to choose colours for the society
and wear a gorgeous tie, if there is any combination of colours which
has not already been annexed, and there can't be many left to choose
from.

It is the easiest thing in the world to start clubs if all you want to
get out of them is a remarkable tie and hatband, and I knew a man--by
sight--who started three clubs in two years.  The first he called "The
Roysterers," and they were supposed to dine twice a term in waistcoats
decorated with R.D.C. buttons; the second he named "The Oddfish," a
club which was intended to be eccentric, and from the extraordinary
colours they adopted I should think they were aptly named.  Their chief
function was drinking, and although I never went to any of their
carousals I believe they discharged it thoroughly.  The third club
which this energetic man founded was not given up to eating and
drinking, but devoted itself to the discussion of moral and artistic
subjects.  They called themselves "The Bumble-Bees," though I never
could understand the reason why they chose such a name, unless it was,
as Murray suggested, that after they had touched a thing there was no
sweetness left in it.  I should not like to say how many more clubs
this man would have started had he been given the opportunity, but he
was sent down at the end of his second year, and I have met him since
in Florence wearing a Bumble-Bee tie and Oddfish ribbon round his
straw-hat.  I regret to say that he belonged to St. Cuthbert's, and he
was really a nuisance, because there was so strong a feeling against
these miscellaneous colours during my first summer term that nearly all
the men who could do anything respectably wore black bands on their
straw-hats, and the effect was most dismal.

Dennison heard that my sister was coming up for Eights' week, and he
told me calmly that he should like to meet her.  I may have imagined
that he considered this an act of condescension on his part, for I
cannot pretend that I was always fair to him.  I distrusted him so
thoroughly that I never believed a word he said, and the only possible
way for peace between us was for each of us to leave the other alone.
But this way did not suit him, for I suppose that I knew too many men
to be left out entirely from his consideration, and it seems to me that
it is more annoying for a man to be friendly when you want to have
nothing to do with him, than it is for anybody to take no notice of you
when you would be glad to be his friend.  I did not, however, mean to
let Nina meet Dennison, for I never knew whom she might like or
dislike, and it would have been a most horrible complication if she had
fallen a victim to Dennison's smile.  So I told him that Nina would not
be in Oxford for more than two or three days, and that I did not know
her plans, which was true enough as far as it went, and must have been
enough for him to understand what I meant.

Although I was useless in a boat, I was always most vigorously excited
during Eights' week.  Three years before I went to Oxford St.
Cuthbert's had been head of the river, but we had by slow degrees
dwindled down to fifth, and in spite of one or two men who assured me
that we had a much better eight than we were thought to have, I knew
that we were more likely to go down than up.  Still I am sorry for the
man who does not feel his nerves tingle at the prospect of a race, and
you tingle all the more if you do not expect to be beaten, so I tried
to forget the general opinion about our eight and to imagine that the
boat in front of us was going to have an anxious time.

Brasenose was head of the river, and after them came New College,
Magdalen, and Christ Church; we were fifth, and I took no interest in
the boat behind us, though I did know that it was Trinity.  So keen was
I that I resolved to run with our boat if I could get any one to run
with me, and I asked quite half-a-dozen men before I found somebody who
was not looking after his own or somebody else's sisters.  The man who
said he would run with me was Jack Ward, and he surprised me very much
when he told me that he would far rather see some of the racing than
sit on a barge with a crowd of ladies, and he even consented to run all
the first three nights and then help me to look after Nina when she
came up.  He knew, I expect, that I was not likely to run very far, and
that there was no danger of his being left somewhere near Iffley to
walk up by himself.

I have a feeling that if I had to sit in a boat and hear the seconds
counted out before the starting-gun is fired that my first stroke would
be a most terrific crab.  Even standing on the bank is nervous enough
work, and what it must be like for those who have got to row I cannot
imagine.  I kept moving about so much before the start that Ward told
me I should be tired before I began to run, but I am unable to keep
still when things are going to happen, and just before the last gun
went I had an inspiration and moved up to the place from which Christ
Church started.  By this means I kept up for quite a long way, but it
would be untrue to say I enjoyed myself.  We began to gain on Christ
Church at once, and were very soon within half-a-length of them, but I
had no breath to use for shouting, and not having a rattle I could make
no row at all; moreover I am an erratic runner, so whenever I looked at
the boats I kicked or ran into somebody, and I could not retort when
they said things to me.  I pounded along as far as the Long Bridges,
which was really quite a long way, and when I stopped I was sure that
we should catch Christ Church.  I stood away from the path and tried to
persuade myself that I was not feeling very unwell, but I waited until
the crowds with the other boats had passed by, and then I walked as
fast as I could up the towing-path.  I even ran once, for a short way,
because I wanted to get back before all the excitement had stopped on
our barge.  I felt certain that we were going head of the river, and
that comfortable sensation seemed to improve my wind, but it took me
some time to get up the towing-path.  The first disconcerting thing I
saw were a lot of people cheering frantically on what I thought was the
Trinity barge, but I did not know all the barges properly, and I came
to the conclusion that whoever had told me that this one belonged to
Trinity could not have spoken the truth.  So I forced my way up the
path until I got opposite to our barge, and there I found Jack Ward
looking very purple in the face.

"Did we catch them?" I asked, and I thought that all our men who were
waiting to be punted across to the barge might have made a little more
noise.

"Catch what?" he said.

"Why, the House of course," I answered, for it was not very likely we
should catch any one else.

"Trinity caught us," he replied, and as the punt came over at that
moment he gave a huge shove and managed to get into it.  I looked
across the river and saw a very silent crowd on our barge, so I decided
it was no place for me and walked solidly to the end of the towing-path
and went home over Folly Bridge.  It was a long way round, and I cannot
imagine any one going back to St. Cuthbert's by such a route if he felt
happy.  When I saw Jack Ward at dinner I said that I should not run any
more, and he replied that I was a fairly poor sort of sportsman; so I
did run on both Friday and Saturday, and on Saturday night St.
Cuthbert's was eighth on the river instead of fifth, and as we could
find no other excuse we said that our crew was stale, but I am afraid
the truth was that they were fairly fast for about half the course and
then went to pieces.

I had not told Nina that our eight was a bad one, and what she would
say I did not care to think, for she never paid any attention to
excuses, and was rather inclined to consider that I was insulting her
personally when I was connected with anything which was not successful.
At any rate I was thankful that we were still a long way above Oriel,
for I knew that Nina would never understand that Oriel had given
themselves up, more or less, to cricket and soccer, and were not very
afflicted by the fact that their boat was nearly bottom of the river.

I was sure that when Fred explained things to her she would say, "But
why don't you row as well, I should hate to have my college at the
bottom?" and this was almost exactly what happened.  Fred made an
effort to get out of it by saying that Oriel was only a small college
and could not be expected to be good at everything, but Nina evidently
thought that it was large enough to have eight men who could row, and
she was not inclined to be pleased with either Fred or me when we went
to the Rudolf and lunched with Mrs. Faulkner on the Monday.  It was
characteristic of Mr. Faulkner that he had not been able to come to
Oxford, and his chief function in life, as far as I ever discovered it,
was to get out of accompanying his wife on her countless expeditions.

"It seems stupid coming up here to see St. Cuthbert's bumped and Oriel
nearly last on the river.  I understood from Godfrey that St.
Cuthbert's had a great reputation for rowing," Nina said.

I avoided Fred's eye, for I thought that he might be amused, and to
turn the conversation away from a dangerous subject, I took upon myself
to make what seemed to me a wise remark.

"There are other things to see in Oxford besides the bumping races," I
answered.

Nina sniffed very audibly, but Mrs. Faulkner hastened to the rescue.

"I think Godfrey is quite right," she said; "it is disappointing to
find that the colleges in which we are especially interested are so
unlucky, but Nina hasn't seen Oxford before, and I am sure she will be
delighted with it;" and Nina, who really could be quite nice when she
liked, forgave Fred and me for the iniquities of our eights, and
answered that she was longing to go out.

Of course Mrs. Faulkner fell to my lot, and while we walked down the
Broad it pleased her to talk about Nina and to make me say that she was
very pretty.  I did think that Nina was not bad-looking, but she was my
sister and I should as soon have thought of saying that she was
wonderfully pretty, as I should of declaring that there was a striking
resemblance between the Apollo Belvedere and myself, and my imagination
has never carried me as far as that.  As I was not saying much about
Nina Mrs. Faulkner tried to make me talk about myself, but I
interrupted her.

"This is St. Cuthbert's," I said; "shall we go in?"

She looked at me and smiled.  "You are really rather extraordinary,
Godfrey; if any one tries to flatter you, you shut up like a hedgehog.
I am sure you have improved immensely and I am beginning to like you
very much," she declared.

I simply detested her at that moment, for when people make remarks like
that I feel as if some one was pouring cold water down my spine, and as
I meant to show Nina round St. Cuthbert's I managed to change
companions in the lodge, and left Fred to listen to the improvements in
himself, which Mrs. Faulkner, with her great gift for romance, was sure
to say that she had discovered.

As soon as I got Nina into the big St. Cuthbert's quad she forgot that
she had started by almost quarrelling with me.  I was born,
unfortunately, without a keen eye for beautiful things, and even when I
see something which I like to look at again and again, some scene which
gives you a peaceful feeling or a picture which helps you to forget
that there is anything ugly in the world, I cannot express myself.
When I like anybody I want to tell them so, but once when I saw a
splendid sunset in Bavaria and said, "How simply ripping," my father
told me not to make a fool of myself, and somehow or other I felt that
he was right.  So I was very glad that I had to show Nina the beauties
of St. Cuthbert's while it was her duty to admire them.  She had never
been inside an Oxford quadrangle before, and though I think any one
with two eyes and a grain of common-sense would say that Oxford is
beautiful, I must admit that Nina saw St. Cuthbert's for the first time
under the most favourable circumstances possible.  She looked at the
old walls and the flower-boxes which were outside nearly all the
windows, and did not talk any nonsense about them; even the creepers
seemed to be greener than usual in the sunlight of the afternoon.  In
the chapel somebody was playing the organ, which may have been a
meretricious effect, but it pleased Nina, and that was all I cared
about.  The whole college was most wonderfully peaceful, no one could
imagine that the quadrangle had ever been made hideous by Bacchanalian
yells.  And I felt proud of it, which was quite a new sensation to me,
and I suppose it was Nina's delight that made me see things
differently.  I took her to my rooms, which seemed to be small and
gloomy enough after the hall and the quadrangle, but she said that they
were far more comfortable than she had expected them to be, and she sat
down in the most comfortable of my easy-chairs and looked as if she
intended to stop for ever.  I suggested to her that we should go down
to the river and see Oriel struggling in the second division, but she
decided that one dose of racing would be enough for her, and said that
Fred could take Mrs. Faulkner to the river if she wanted to go.  She
had not been so fond of my society for a long time, and for quite ten
minutes, with the aid of cherries, we got on splendidly together.  Then
the conversation languished and I began to show her things which she
did not want to see; it is so very hard to please anybody who does not
pretend to like things which they do not like.  Nina began to hum at
last, and if there is one noise which I detest it is humming.  To make
matters worse her tune was one I especially disliked, but as I was her
host I made a gallant attempt not to listen to it.  So I whistled, and
I expect we had nearly reached a crisis when Mrs. Faulkner and Fred
appeared.  I was very fond indeed of Nina, and I am sure that she would
have been indignant if any one had told her that she was not fond of
me, but when we had not seen each other for some time and were left
alone together we often irritated each other.  It was a terrible
nuisance, but it is no use denying that I was glad to see Mrs. Faulkner
again, and if any one had told me that such a thing was possible when I
left her at the lodge I should have denounced him with many words.  I
could see that Fred had not been enjoying himself, and while Mrs.
Faulkner and Nina were discussing loudly what they should do next, he
told me that he had been asked a perfect fusillade of questions none of
which he could answer.  "How old is that fig-tree in your garden?" he
asked thoughtlessly, and Mrs. Faulkner's attention was turned upon me.

"What fig-tree?" I asked.

Fred tittered audibly, and Mrs. Faulkner seemed to forget that only a
short time before she had discovered an immense improvement in me.

"Do you mean to say that you live close to that beautiful fig-tree and
don't even know of its existence?" she demanded.

"Oh yes, I know about it," I answered; "it has stuff put round to keep
it warm in the winter, but I have never asked how old it is.  You see
the dons more or less monopolize our gardens, so you can't expect us to
know much about them."

"Notices are put up to say that certain parts of them are reserved for
the dons of the college, aren't they?" Foster said, and he laughed
again, but I said nothing.  "I shall tell Nina the tale if you don't,"
he added.

"I should like to hear something amusing," Nina said, as if there was
not the slightest chance of her wish being gratified.

"It's not very funny," I began, for I had a feeling that Mrs. Faulkner
would not like this tale.

"Well, anything's better than nothing," Nina declared wisely, and so,
to pacify her, I continued.

"These notices annoyed some men, so they dug a hole and bought a large
sort of milk-pail arrangement to fit into it and a box of sardines.
Then we filled the pail with water and put in the sardines, and Jack
Ward put up a little notice, 'This fishing is reserved for the dons of
the college.  Licences may be obtained at the lodge.'  The dons should
not be so greedy about the garden," I added, because Mrs. Faulkner
looked very disgusted.

"Did you really make a large hole in that beautiful turf?" she asked at
once.  "You began in the third person, but I expect you and this Mr.
Ward did it; you ought to have been rusticated, or whatever the word
is."

"We were never found out, and the dons didn't mind; they thought it not
a bad joke of its kind," I answered.

"Then their sense of humour must have become perverted," she replied.
"I think Mr. Ward must have a very bad influence over you."

Nina laughed and said she insisted upon meeting Jack.

"I sincerely hope you won't do anything of the kind," Mrs. Faulkner
stated.  "The dons must know what is best for the undergraduates, and
such tricks are very unbecoming; I am sure my husband always admitted
this when he was at Cambridge."

It was hardly fair to pull in Mr. Faulkner, so I said that I would get
some tea, which put an end to the discussion, for I did not think it
wise to say that I had asked Jack to meet Nina at luncheon on the
following day.  By the time we had finished tea Fred was tired of Mrs.
Faulkner, and he slipped off with Nina in a way which was really too
clever to be very nice.  Mrs. Faulkner, however, was quite amiable, and
she smiled on me steadily from the beginning of the Broad Walk to the
end of it, which as a feat of endurance I feel it my duty to mention.

When we got down to the river the band was playing on the 'Varsity
barge, and Mrs. Faulkner really began to enjoy herself.  The flags
flying from all the barges pleased her, and the smartness of the ladies
made her compare the scene to church parade on a June morning in Hyde
Park.  I knew nothing about church parades and very little about Hyde
Park, but I said that I thought this must beat anything in London.
Then I got a chair for her and looked round to find Nina and Fred, but
as I could not see them anywhere, I said that I must go and hunt for
them.  Mrs. Faulkner, however, had no intention of letting me go, and I
had to be a kind of Baedeker for over half-an-hour.  I was not a very
good Baedeker, I confess, but I had found out that one way to make
things uncomfortable with this lady was not to answer every question
she asked, so I supplied her with a good deal of information which I
sincerely hope she never passed on to any one else.  Unfortunately our
barge is near the 'Varsity's, and during the races a string of little
flags fly from the 'Varsity barge to show the order of the colleges on
the river.  I knew them well enough down to ours, and I even knew the
ninth and tenth, but when Mrs. Faulkner wanted to know the whole lot, I
had to use my imagination.  I know that I said Hertford twice and I
finished up with All Souls, who only have about three undergraduates,
so if they had rowed at all they would have been several men short.

"I should like to write the colleges down if I had a pencil," she said;
"you rattle them off so fast.  Didn't you say that one flag belonged to
the University, but the University flag is surely dark blue?"

And then I had to explain that University was a college and not the
whole place, and she replied that she knew so much more about Cambridge
than Oxford, and complained that our colleges had very confusing names.
"Oriel!" she said scornfully, "it reminds me of a window, and then you
have no originality.  Exeter, Worcester, Lincoln, why they are just
names of towns, you can find them all in Bradshaw."

"Well, at any rate Bradshaw's got nothing to do with it," I replied.
"These colleges are hundreds of years old, and Bradshaw's a chicken
compared with them."

"What dreadful slang.  Fancy calling Bradshaw a chicken!" she
exclaimed.  "Besides, you have a college called Keble, and my father
knew Dr. Keble, so that _can't_ be hundreds of years old.  No,
Cambridge have chosen their names better than Oxford."

"Sidney Sussex," I said, for I thought it necessary to make some reply;
"it's more like the name of one of Ouida's heroes than a college."

She shook her head gently.  "I can't get over your colleges sounding
like railway-stations," she answered.

"You must blame the bishops who founded them and not Bradshaw or me," I
replied, for I was getting very tired.

"Some one told me Keble is built of red-brick," she said.

"Red-brick is so bright," I answered, but I wanted to say something
quite different, and at last a dim noise which quickly developed into a
tremendous roar told us that the boats were coming.

Brasenose paddled home first, and not one of the next six boats were in
any danger of being caught.  It was reserved for us and Merton to give
the people on the barges some excitement, but when I saw Merton
pressing us fearfully I wished that I was not hemmed in by a crowd of
ladies.  I yelled tremendously because I could not help myself, and
Mrs. Faulkner, after saying something which I did not catch, put her
hands over her ears.  But shouting was useless.  The abominable thing
happened right in front of our barge, and when I saw our cox's hand go
up to show that all was over, it was a very bad moment indeed.

"Poor St. Cuthbert's, how very unfortunate they are," I heard a girl
say; and some one else answered, "Yes, it's quite pathetic, so
different from what one used to expect from them, but I am told that
they are not the college they were."  That remark made me feel furious,
and it was not until Mrs. Faulkner pulled my coat violently that I
remembered that she was sitting close to me.

"Did you make a bump?" I heard her asking me.

"No, Merton bumped us.  We shall soon be sandwich boat," I answered,
for I spoke without thinking.

"Sandwich boat, my dear Godfrey, is this a picnic?" she returned, and I
did not know whether she was serious or only trying to be funny.

"There's not much picnic about it," I replied; "we've gone down four
places in four nights."

"But what is a sandwich boat.  They don't have such things at
Cambridge."

"They do, at any rate my cousin rowed eight times in four nights and
nearly died after it.  A sandwich boat is bottom of one division and
top of the other, so it has got to row in both; it's got nothing to do
with ham.  Shall we go?"

Every one was leaving the barges, but Mrs. Faulkner remained in her
chair.

"Isn't that girl in mauve a perfect dream?" she said to me, but I
pretended not to hear.  I had to wait for several minutes while dresses
and the people who wore them were criticized, and I am sure that
nothing but the National Anthem or force could have stirred Mrs.
Faulkner from her seat.

We found Nina and Fred waiting for us, and Nina said she had been
having a splendid time on the Oriel barge.  But I could think of
nothing except that we were not the college we used to be, and I left
Fred to talk to both Mrs. Faulkner and Nina.



CHAPTER XIV

GUIDE, HOST AND NURSE

When I got back to my rooms after leaving Mrs. Faulkner and Nina I
found a note from Owen asking me to go and see him at once.  Since he
had, until then, avoided me in every possible way I guessed that
something serious had happened, and when I got to his rooms in Lomax
Street, I found him in bed with a cough which ought to have frightened
his landlady instead of making her in a very bad temper.  He was,
however, more worried about the interruption to his reading than
anxious about himself, and he said flatly that he could not afford to
have a doctor.  I tried to cheer him up--but you can't cheer up a man
with a cough--and I told him I would come to him whenever he wanted me,
and made him promise he would send for me if I could do anything for
him.  He did not seem to have a single friend in Oxford, and the
loneliness of the man made me feel absolutely wretched.

I went to a very confidential chemist who knew nearly every man who had
ever been at Oxford, and everything under the sun, and explained to him
what sort of cough Owen had.  He understood instantly, and said that he
would send a mixture which worked miracles, but I could not get Owen
off my mind at once, and when Jack Ward came in very late to see me I
sat up talking to him until a most unrighteous hour, with the result
that I lay in bed the next morning until I was perfectly tired of my
scout coming to call me.

A letter from my mother was on my table in which she said that I was on
no account to allow Nina to interrupt my reading, but I had only just
finished breakfast, when Mrs. Faulkner and Nina came into my rooms.
Mrs. Faulkner fixed her eyes on the tea-pot and said nothing; Nina,
however, asked if everybody in Oxford breakfasted at eleven o'clock.  I
had not expected them, and was consequently a little flurried; the
truth is that I was not properly dressed, which handicapped my
movements considerably.  Decency compelled me to keep my legs under the
table, until I could slip into my bedder.  I was not in a condition to
treat visitors who goaded at my laziness with any courage; tact was the
only thing possible.  In my agitation I did not notice that Nina had
put on the clock quite twenty minutes, and when she asked me if I was
going to sit in front of the marmalade for the rest of the day, I had
to reply that I thought it was rather a good place to sit.  I had
managed to hide myself behind the table-cloth when I stood up to wish
them good-morning, but I simply did not dare to move again.

Mrs. Faulkner fluttered round the room looking at photographs; the bare
knees of the Rugger XV. compelled her to say that she did not think
them at all nice.  I put my legs farther under the table and felt like
blushing.  She began to suspect that I was hiding something, and I am
afraid she was the sort of woman who did not understand, until she had
discovered them, that there are some things which had better remain
hidden.  She tried little tricks to entice me from my seat, and even
came and examined the table-cloth, which was ordinary enough, though
she said it was a beautiful one.  I did not see how a white table-cloth
could be beautiful, but I clutched it most fervently and her ruse
failed.  She then asked me if a plate which had cost
elevenpence-farthing was Wedgwood, and asked me to take it off the wall
so that she might see the mark on the back.  I told her I had bought it
at the Japanese shop and mentioned the sum it cost, but she declared
that I had got a bargain and she must have it down.  I replied that it
was a fixture, though I meant that I was, and that no one had ever been
known to find a bargain in a Japanese shop.  Then she grew plaintive;
"I think you might please me in this, Godfrey," she said.

The time had come for me to take Nina into my confidence.  Mrs.
Faulkner's eyes were fixed on the plate and her back was turned to me;
I poked out one leg tentatively and Nina understood.  There was one
splendid thing about Nina, you could always rely upon her in a crisis.
She took up a chair at once and said that she would get the plate down;
she added that unless I sat still after meals I might have very bad
indigestion, but that was too much for Mrs. Faulkner.

"I shouldn't think Godfrey has had indigestion in his life," she said.
"I don't believe he has ever heard of pepsine.  He is in a
disgracefully bad temper; there is nothing else the matter with him as
far as I can see."

"He was a very delicate child," Nina answered, "and has always been
quite disgracefully spoilt.  He never does anything which he doesn't
like."  I felt that Nina was over-playing her part, but I could not
defend myself.

"It is so nice having Nina here to do things for me," I said meekly;
"and I hope you don't mind me treating you as if you are a relation," I
added to Mrs. Faulkner.

"I do mind very much; nothing is an excuse for being lazy and
ill-natured.  I was brought up in the old school, I suppose," she
answered, and I wished to goodness she had never left it.

Nina got up on the chair and pretended that she could not reach the
plate.

"Now if you stood up here you could reach it," she said, turning round
to Mrs. Faulkner.

"But Godfrey will surely not allow me to do that," she replied.

"I always said that you were taller than Nina," I could not help
remarking, for Nina prided herself on being about three inches taller
than she was; and she had said all sorts of things about me.

"I wonder if I could reach the plate," Mrs. Faulkner said.

"It would be rather a sporting thing to try," I answered.  "Nina
couldn't reach it."

"I think not," she returned; "I might fall over backwards."  And she
sat down carefully in my biggest arm-chair.

My scout came in to clear away breakfast, and the situation was
desperate.  I picked up a piece of toast hastily and told him to come
back in half-an-hour.  Mrs. Faulkner had taken her seat behind me, and
I could only turn with difficulty to talk to her; while Nina's
enthusiasm on my behalf seemed to have waned since her plot to get Mrs.
Faulkner on the chair had failed.  If I had only dressed the lower part
of myself properly instead of the top part it would not have mattered
so much, but as it was a collar and a St. Cuthbert's XI. tie were
superfluous when other more necessary garments were lacking.  I was on
the point of throwing myself upon the mercy of Mrs. Faulkner and of
explaining to her that a lot of men I knew wore very short pyjama
trousers and no socks in the mornings if they intended to read, when
Murray burst into my rooms and almost asked me why I had cut a lecture
before he saw that I had visitors.

I introduced him, and in the same breath declared that he would be
delighted to show his rooms.  I was becoming reckless, and did not care
if he thought me mad.  I went on to say that he had some splendid
prints which Mrs. Faulkner would like to see, and Nina was kind enough
to ask him if he would mind very much if they invaded his rooms.  He
saw that something odd was happening; but Mrs. Faulkner was looking at
me, and I could make only one sign to him.  I reached as far as I could
under the table and having kicked off a bedroom slipper, I stuck out
enough toes to tell him as much as he wanted to know.

"Will you come?" he asked Mrs. Faulkner.  "I am afraid I have only one
print; but I should like you to see my rooms."

Mrs. Faulkner said that she would be delighted.

"Let us all go," she added; "I am sure Godfrey has been sitting long
enough at that table."

"I will be with you in two minutes," I answered.

Murray stood aside for them to go out, and closed the door behind him,
and I fairly bolted into my bedroom.  But in two minutes I was dressed
and able to go to Murray's rooms, armed with the most beautiful
suggestions for spending the day.

"Will your digestion really allow you to walk about so soon?" Mrs.
Faulkner asked.

"He never has anything the matter with him," Murray said, with all the
thoughtlessness of a dyspeptic.  "He used to eat huge lunches, and then
play footer; there's not much wrong with a man like that."

"You don't know what I have suffered in secret," I replied; and Nina
now that I was clothed again turned upon me and said, "Have you known
him all these years and not found that out, Mrs. Faulkner?"

"There is a good deal about Godfrey that I don't quite understand," was
the answer, and since I could not wonder at that, I begged to be
allowed to take her wherever she wished to go.

We strolled about Oxford until lunch-time, and I answered every
question asked me, and most of my answers were accurate.  For I had
been careful enough to take an Oxford guide-book to bed with me, and
had not entirely wasted the early morning.  In fact Mrs. Faulkner's
visit forced me to see that I knew very little about Oxford.  My
guide-book knowledge was so condensed that it was more satisfying than
satisfactory, and if I had been asked what I charged per hour, I should
have had no right to be angry.

However, I did march Mrs. Faulkner and Nina round some of the sights of
the place.  I showed them the Bodleian, All Souls, Shelley's memorial,
and finally brought them to a shady seat in Addison's Walk.  I had been
compelled to hurry for two reasons; in the first place we had not very
much time, and secondly, my knowledge was not proof against the string
of questions which only want of breath could stop Mrs. Faulkner from
asking.  I should imagine that a large number of men never find out how
great their ignorance of Oxford is until they have to show people round
it, and I candidly confess that on this day I was ashamed of myself.  I
was more at home in Addison's Walk than in any other place to which I
had taken them, for it was in the open air, and also there was
something about Addison and Steele and Gay which made me like them.
The coffee-houses at which they met must have had some mysterious
attraction for me, I think, and led me on to read what they had
written.  I should have liked to have Sir Roger de Coverley for my
uncle, and I cannot imagine a nicer man to have a day's fishing with
than Will Wimble.  I hated Pope as much as I liked Addison, and though
Mrs. Faulkner said he was a great satirist, I thought of him only as a
man who wrote most disagreeable things about his friends.

"It is necessary to separate the man from his work, if you are to be a
good critic," Mrs. Faulkner said, and though this remark may be true
enough I did not answer it, for Nina was looking extremely bored by the
conversation we had been having about Addison.

"We may as well go to Oriel and find Fred," I suggested, and Nina got
up at once.

"Unfortunately the art of satire is dead, drowned by exaggeration,"
Mrs. Faulkner said as we went through the cloisters.

"I think it's a better death than it deserves, don't you, Nina?" I
replied.

"I know nothing whatever about it," she answered.

"Abuse has taken the place of satire," Mrs. Faulkner continued.

"And a jolly good job, too," I said, for Nina's face of disgust made me
forget to whom I was talking; "it is those sly digs in the ribs which
make me ill."

"My dear Godfrey, what dreadful slang you use.  A few minutes ago you
surprised me by being interested in English literature, and now you
talk as if there had never been such a thing."

"You surprised me, too," I said, for I felt as if I had concealed
enough for one day.

"How?  Do tell me," Mrs. Faulkner said quickly.

"I should not have thought that you cared about Addison or any of those
old people," I answered, but I began to wish I had been more cautious.

"Why not?"

"Oh, I don't know."

"But, why not?"

"Well, I thought you were more modern."

"I don't know what you mean," she said.

"I am sure I don't," I answered; and as we passed Long Wall Street I
managed to get on the far side of Nina, and to beseech her to say
something.

"I insist on you telling me what you mean," I heard Mrs. Faulkner say,
but before I could even think of my answer Nina had come to my rescue
by declaring that she admired the hat of a girl who was walking in
front of us.  It was a flower-garden hat, and looked more like an
advertisement for somebody's seeds than a decent covering for the head.
Nina's remark, however, turned Mrs. Faulkner's attention away from me,
and we listened to a lecture on taste until we were safely in Oriel.

But Fred was not forthcoming, and Mrs. Faulkner promptly decided that
he was working.  Comparisons, in which I took no kind of interest, were
drawn between his industry and my laziness.  I endured them in silence,
though I could have given Fred away had I liked, for his cap and gown
were both in his rooms, and I knew that he was more probably batting in
a net than taking notes at a lecture.

After looking round Oriel, Mrs. Faulkner and Nina went back to the
Rudolf, and I said that I must go to St. Cuthbert's and see that their
luncheon had not been forgotten.  Mrs. Faulkner smiled at me
sorrowfully when I left her, and I believe she intended me to believe
that I had hurt her feelings very much.  If I live to threescore years
and ten I shall not understand Mrs. Faulkner.  I felt very bothered
that morning, for Nina and Mrs. Faulkner would not be in a good temper
at the same time; but I met Dennison in the quad, who introduced me to
his mother, two sisters, two cousins and an aunt.  He looked quite
tired, and asked me to luncheon, but unless he had engaged the biggest
room at the Sceptre I should think he must have been glad when I
refused.  He was, however, most palpably short of men.  I had hardly
got rid of Dennison when I ran into Lambert, escorting four more ladies
with prodigiously long names; I think he must have found them at the
theatre, and he looked more pleased with himself than ever.  When I got
back to my rooms I felt quite thankful that my party had not reached an
unwieldy size, and I had not to wait long before Mrs. Faulkner, Nina
and Fred all arrived together.

It is no use trying to give a luncheon party in a very small room,
which was not built for parties of any kind, unless every one is
prepared to be thoroughly uncomfortable.  You have got to put dishes
wherever they will go and worry through as best you can.  I had taken
quite a lot of trouble over the food, and the size of the room was not
my fault.  My scout had made many subtle dispositions of furniture, but
the fact remained that the table was not made to hold five people,
unless the whole lot were really good sorts.  So I was delighted to
find that Mrs. Faulkner was in her amiable mood and to hear her say
that she was prepared for anything, though had I not been so sure that
she would be inconvenienced, not to say squashed, before she finished,
I am not sure that I should have accepted this reckless mood as much of
a compliment.  The table was so crowded that it was not easy to see how
many people were expected to sit at it, and I was not surprised when
Nina suggested that we should begin luncheon.  I pretended not to hear
what she said, and poked my head into a cupboard in the vain hope that
I might find something which I did not know I had lost.  Mrs. Faulkner,
however, ranged herself by the table and counted the napkins.

"Five," I heard her say, and I withdrew my head from the cupboard and
whispered "Jack Ward" to Nina.

"Five," Mrs. Faulkner repeated and looked at Nina, Fred and me, as if
she was holding a roll-call.

"Who's the fifth?" Fred asked; "at any rate, I vote we begin."

At that moment I heard some one rushing up-stairs several steps at a
time.  Outside my door he stopped to get some breath, and when I
introduced him to Mrs. Faulkner and Nina he was so apologetic for being
late that it was quite difficult for me to stop him.  I must say that
Mrs. Faulkner tried to adapt herself to the spirit of this luncheon.
There was not much shyness about Jack Ward, and in a very few minutes
Mrs. Faulkner was fairly beaming upon him.  She found out that she knew
his cousins, and Jack, who would say anything to please any lady,
declared that he had often heard of her.  As he asked me afterwards
what her name was, I had to tell him that he was a regular humbug, but
he said that he was sure that she was the kind of lady who liked to
think she was never forgotten, and it was a pity to miss a harmless
chance of making her feel pleased.

At first I think Jack made her almost too pleased, and later on there
was rather a distinct reaction.  She was not content with discovering
his cousins, but also found out that his father was what she called a
most generous benefactor.  "The sort of man who does so much good
quietly, so unlike those noisy, discomforting people who will give
something if somebody will give something else.  Charity ought not to
be limited by conditions," I heard her say.

"I don't think my father exactly throws his money about," Jack said.

"I am sure he doesn't," Mrs. Faulkner agreed readily.

"I mean that if he gives a lot away he expects to make a lot besides.
He is a business man, you see," Jack returned.

"Business men are the backbone of England," Mrs. Faulkner said at once.

"But they aren't heroes or anybody of that kind," Jack answered.

Mrs. Faulkner shook her head sorrowfully.  "You young men are all
alike, you will never allow your parents to have any virtues."

I was on the point of breaking a silence which had been extraordinarily
prolonged, but Jack got ahead of me.

"I know every one is always saying that," he began, "but I don't think
it is true.  If you praised my father for being generous he would
simply laugh at you.  He isn't built that way, you see, and he would
think anybody a fool who gave a tremendous lot without hoping to get
something back.  It is a matter of business with him and he is honest
enough to admit it."

"You do allow that he is honest," Mrs. Faulkner put in.

"Of course," Jack replied quite good-temperedly, "only no one cares to
brag about their relations unless they want to be called a snob or a
bore.  It wouldn't do, you see, for a man to go about declaring that he
had an uncle who was miles ahead of everybody else's uncle, or an aunt
who could give a start to any other aunt in the world."

"It depends upon what sort of start the aunt gave," Nina, who had been
talking to Fred, remarked, and I knew by her smile that she intended
this for humour; but Fred did not hear what she said, or I expect he
would have laughed.  Sometimes he was very weak with Nina.

"I am to believe then," Mrs. Faulkner said, "that all of you are very
proud of your parents, only it is what you call bad form to admit it."

Jack gave a great laugh which made everything rattle on the table, and
Mrs. Faulkner, being unaccustomed to him, looked surprised.

"Why is it such a joke?" she asked.

"I am sorry," Jack replied; "I laugh sometimes quite unexpectedly, in
my bath and places like that.  I think my nerves must be wrong."

"Cigarettes," Mrs. Faulkner declared.  "I think I shall write to the
papers about the University man of the day; I don't understand him in
the least," and I unfortunately caught Fred's eye and smiled.  Her
statement seemed to account for so much unnecessary correspondence.

"Do," Jack answered, "and Foster, Godfrey and I will answer it."

"There wouldn't be much to write, which any one who hasn't been at
Cambridge or here would believe," Fred said.

"Why not?" Mrs. Faulkner asked.

"Because they wouldn't understand that a great many men amuse
themselves in odd ways and yet are not complete idiots.  If you saw us
dancing round a bonfire you might think we were all mad, but we aren't
a bit."

"I shouldn't choose a bonfire to dance round," Mrs. Faulkner said.

"That's just it," Fred replied; "but it's very good sport when you
happen to like it."

The college messenger came into the room with a note for me which was
marked "urgent," and I asked if I might read it.  Jack Ward was the
only man who ever wanted me in a hurry, and so confident was I in the
infallibility of my chemist that I was not thinking of Owen.  When I
had finished reading the note I found that the conversation had taken a
more lively turn.

"It is so fortunate I brought something fit to wear," Mrs. Faulkner was
saying.

"I have only got four tickets, I wish I had got one for you," Fred said
to Jack Ward, and then I remembered that Fred had promised to get
tickets for the Brasenose ball which was taking place that evening.

"You can have mine," I told Jack Ward.

"Of course I can't do that," Jack answered; "I expect I can get one all
right, if I may join you."

Nina, who was nothing if not expeditious, said that he had better go at
once and see if he could get a ticket, but I stopped him by repeating
that he could have mine.

"It won't be used unless you take it," I added.

Every one except Fred, who saw that something had happened, led me to
believe that I was very disagreeable and foolish.

"We arranged last night that we should go if Fred could get the
tickets," Nina said, and then by way of propitiating me she told me
that I knew how well I danced.

"You will spoil Nina's evening," Mrs. Faulkner declared, and Nina, I
must say, was pouting most magnificently.

"Why can't you come?" she asked.  "Has it got anything to do with that
wretched note?"

"Not another row?" Jack Ward put in most inconsiderately.

"Fred never said anything about it till too late," I answered; "he kept
the whole thing so dark."

"I knew before luncheon," Nina replied, as if she had settled me
completely.

I managed to let Fred know that I wanted him to read the note, and
having opened the Oxford "Mag" no one saw that he had got the letter
inside the pages.  For a minute I persuaded Jack steadfastly to take my
ticket and he refused with determination.  If it had not been that Nina
was upset very easily, and Mrs. Faulkner had been known to have
hysteria without giving any one a moment's notice, I would have
brandished the note in their faces instead of standing first on one leg
and then on the other and looking a most hopeless fool.

I did not know what to say next, when Fred put down the magazine and
joined us by the window.

"If you can't well manage to come to-night," he said, "and it was most
awfully stupid of me not to tell you at once that we were going, I am
sure Ward will have this ticket," and he pulled it out of his pocket
and simply made Jack take it.

"I don't really think I can go, though I will turn up if I can," I
said, and Fred made the most of my promise and talked so much that
before I had to say anything else I found that he had persuaded Mrs.
Faulkner and Nina to go down to the river and watch Oriel rowing in the
earlier division.  I went with them as far as the college lodge and
then I disappeared, for the note which I had received upset all my
hopes of enjoying myself for the rest of the day.

The first part of it was from Owen, who said he was feeling dreadfully
ill, but the second part was written by his landlady, and she seemed to
be in a terrible temper.  As far as I could make out Owen was very much
worse and still refused to have a doctor.  "He says," his landlady
wrote, "that if I send for a physician he won't pay him and I was up
last night five times and who is going to stand it cough he coughs
something awful and what's going to happen I don't know I expect he's
got typhoid fever or something horrible."  She did not use any stops,
but that might have been because she was in a hurry; clearly, however,
she was very angry, and there was only one thing for me to do.

I went round to Lomax Street as fast as I could, and I had no sooner
got inside the house then I heard Owen coughing.  I found his landlady
in the state her letter had suggested I should find her, she was
infinitely more sorry for herself than she was for Owen, and since he
was too ill for her to get any satisfaction from visiting her grievance
upon him she started off upon me.

"You are his friend," she said as she met me in the passage, "and you
ought to have been here before.  I was just doing myself up before
putting on my bonnet to go out and report this case."

"To whom were you going to report it?" I asked, for I felt very much as
if I should like to know.

"You can report it now, I put all responsibility upon you," she stated
loudly, and she took me up-stairs and announced me in a voice which
would have shaken the nerves of a strong man.  I could not put up with
her any longer and I told her abruptly to go.  She went energetically,
her shoulders protesting against my rudeness, and she marched down the
stairs with as much noise as she could make without hurting her feet.
I am glad that there are very few landladies left, at least in Oxford,
who look upon any illness as an opportunity for showing how nasty they
can be.  I simply hated that woman, and before I had done with her I
was weak enough to tell her so.  I was defeated in that battle of plain
speaking.  To me, unaccustomed to illness, Owen looked as bad as anyone
could look, and apart from his cough and his temperature he had got all
sorts of worries on his mind which he wanted me to hear.  I listened to
what he said without interrupting him, but I was impressed with the
fact that I must creep about a sick-room, and I am afraid I was
ostentatiously quiet.  His troubles had to do with the expenses of his
illness, and he beseeched me not to send for a doctor or a nurse.  I
tried to set his mind at rest, but I failed; he saw that I thought him
very ill, and when I moved round the room on tiptoe he asked me to make
as much noise as I liked.  I was no use as a sick nurse, and my efforts
to make the room look fit to live in, though meant splendidly, seemed
to me to make the place more uncomfortable and cheerless than ever.

I promised faithfully that I would stay with him during the night, but
he could not make me say that I would not see a doctor, and as soon as
I could I went off and got a man whom I had once met at a smoking
conceit.  This doctor was a bustling little man who did not sympathize
with nonsense, and I had to explain a lot of things before I made him
understand that this was a peculiar case.

"What is the good of you sitting up all night, even if it is
necessary," he said to me as we walked from his house to Lomax Street;
"you would certainly go to sleep and do more harm than good."

"Owen has a fairly bad cough," I answered.

"If it is bad enough to keep you awake he ought to have a proper nurse."

"He doesn't want to have a proper nurse, he is rather hard up," I said.

"Pish," was his only answer, but when he got to Owen's rooms I should
think he must have known that I had spoken the truth.

I got leave from the Subby to stay with Owen during the night, but I
cannot say that I was a successful nurse.  I took some books with me
because I thought it would be a good opportunity to do some reading,
but of course I went to sleep, and woke up with a snort which would
have made me unpopular in any dormitory in the world.  Owen was so much
worse in the morning that he had to be moved out of his wretched
lodgings into a place where he would be properly looked after.

I went back to St. Cuthbert's about eleven o'clock in a state of
horrible depression.  I had promised to pay all the expenses of this
illness, and how I was to do it I had not an idea.  The year was nearly
over and my funds were exceedingly low, but I could not help making
Owen believe that I had more money than I knew how to spend.

Outside St. Cuthbert's I met Mrs. Faulkner and Nina, and while Mrs.
Faulkner was commenting upon my dejected appearance Nina told me
frankly that I looked dirty.

"I have been up all night," I said, for there was no longer any reason
why I should not explain what had happened.

"We were not in bed until four o'clock," Nina answered proudly.

"What have you been doing?" Mrs. Faulkner asked.

"I have been nursing a man who is ill," I replied.

"Infectious?" Mrs. Faulkner asked breathlessly.

"Pneumonia, double pneumonia, I believe," I answered.

"And you heard about it yesterday afternoon?" Nina said.

"Yes."

"Then why didn't you tell us?" Mrs. Faulkner asked.  "Fred and Nina
have been quarrelling about you, and I have said the most awful things.
You really might have more consideration."

"I thought it would spoil your dance if I told you; I didn't know what
was the matter with the man."

"You are a dear, Godfrey," Nina said, and she linked her arm in mine.

"I am an idiot if you want to call me any names," I replied.

"You were always that," Nina said in the manner which is called
playful; "we are just going to see Mr. Ward, who is perfectly charming;
won't you come with us?"

"I am going to have a bath, and then I must see Fred."

Nina looked displeased.

"What's the matter with Fred?" I asked.

"He's as perfect as usual," Nina answered, and swung her parasol to
show that she was not interested in him.

"We are blocking the street, and you nearly hit a man in the eye with
that thing," I said.

"You will be in a better temper when you are cleaner," Nina retorted.

"We go down at 4.15," Mrs. Faulkner said as we went into the lodge; "we
are going on some river, the one that isn't deep, in a punt with Mr.
Ward, and he is taking luncheon for us.  Do you think it is quite safe,
Godfrey?"

"Quite, if Nina doesn't try to punt," I answered.

"Must we go away this afternoon?" Nina asked.

"My dear, I have three, if not four, people arriving to-night," Mrs.
Faulkner replied.

"I will be at the station to see you off," I said, for even if they
wanted me I did not feel like punting on the Cherwell.

I pointed out Jack Ward's rooms to Nina, and had walked half-way across
the quad when Mrs. Faulkner called me back.

"I hope your friend is better?" she asked.

"He has only just begun to be ill," I answered.



CHAPTER XV

MISHAPS

After I had been to my rooms and had a bath I went round to Oriel to
see Fred, but he was not in his rooms, so I left a note to tell him
that he must come to luncheon with me.  Then I rushed back to St.
Cuthbert's and went to hear Mr. Edwardes lecturing.  I missed the
beginning of the lecture, and I might just as well have stayed away
altogether, for Mr. Edwardes asked me to speak to him at the end of it,
though what he meant was that he was going to speak while I was to
listen.  Grave things were happening, at least I thought them grave,
and Mr. Edwardes had nothing whatever to do with them.  While he talked
to me I was trying by a process of mental arithmetic to discover how
much money I had to my credit in the bank; the voice which I heard
seemed to me to belong to bygone ages, and I was so worried by actual
and present facts that I could not screw up a vestige of interest in
antiquities.  I know that it was always my fate to arouse either the
irony or the anger of my tutor, for to other men he was far more
pleasant than he was to me, but I could not help thinking of him as
representative of a system which could never influence me in the least.
He soon discovered that I was paying no attention to him, and I suppose
that I must have got most vigorously on his nerves, for he really
became quite humanly angry, I must have been nearer to an understanding
with him at that moment than I had ever been.  But when his rage
abated, his lips snapped and the thunderbolts ceased.  He went on too
long and became sarcastic again, as if ashamed of being properly angry,
and I left him with the usual hopeless feeling that we should never
understand each other.

I went into the common room as I was crossing the quad, and before I
had been there two minutes Dennison came in with Lambert and two or
three other men of their set.  No one else was in the room except
Murray, who was reading, and absolutely refused to talk to me about
Edwardes, so I turned over various papers until Dennison asked me if I
did not think our eight was quite the most comically bad boat I had
ever seen.

"The whole college is going to the deuce," I answered.

"You look as if you were up late last night, and have got a fair old
head on this morning," Dennison declared.

"I haven't been to bed at all, if you want to know," I said.

"Going to the deuce with the rest of the college, well, you have the
consolation of being quite the most amusing man in it."

I think I was fool enough to say that I was not amusing.

"Not consciously," Dennison replied, "but I get more fun from you than
from anybody, and when you are in a serious mood you are the most comic
man I know.  He's delicious, isn't he, Lambert?"

"If you can't see the funny side of our eight, you must be a madman,"
Lambert said to me.

"We used to be head of the river, and now we can't row for sour
apples," Dennison chuckled, "the thing's a perfect pantomime."

"And you are the stupidest clown in it," I said suddenly, for although
I did not want to lose my temper the "sour apples" expression, on the
top of being told that I had "a fair old head," compelled me to say
something.

"One to Marten," Lambert said, as he stalked about the room; they were
a most trying lot to have anything to do with.  Everything they said
was just the thing that made me want to get away from them, and
Dennison had told me once that he considered conversation a very fine
art.

It would have been wise of me to have gone away without waiting for
Dennison's attempts to get level with me, but I felt like staying where
I was.

"Poor old fellow," Dennison groaned, "he sits up all night, and then
his conscience smites him and his head aches, and he thinks the college
is going to the deuce and is to be saved from perdition by his being
rude.  What you want, old chap, is a sedlitz powder; go and have one,
and you won't be so gloomy, you may even smile when you see our eight
bumped to-night."

"You laugh and jeer at our boat when it goes down, but I'll bet you
would be the first to kick up a row if we ever make any bumps again,
though you don't care whether we go to the bottom of the river and stop
there," I answered.

"I don't see that it matters," Lambert put in, "and I would much rather
be bottom than bottom but one or even two, there's something dignified
about being absolutely last."

"Take a sedlitz powder and become a philosopher," Dennison suggested.

"I always thought your philosophy was founded on something confoundedly
odd," I returned, "and now I know all about it."

"I suppose you think that very witty," he replied, and he almost lost
his temper, "but though I may not be much of a philosopher I am a
first-rate doctor, so when a man wants medicine I tell him so."

"Thanks," I said.

"You are on the wrong track," he went on, beginning to smile again,
"the wretched school-boy notion of being sick to death when you are
beaten at anything is all humbug here, the thing to do is to laugh
whatever happens, and to-day you look as if you hadn't a laugh left in
you."

"That's sitting up all night," Lambert said, "you can't laugh all day
and night."

Then I told them that if they wanted to see the college perfectly
useless at everything they must be the biggest fools in Oxford, and I
appealed to Murray to support me, because Dennison never spoke to him
if he could help doing so.

"It is much easier to laugh than it is to row," was all Murray said,
and he went out of the room at once.

"That man's the most complete prig in the 'Varsity," Dennison declared,
"and as long as a college has a lot of men like him in it nothing else
matters.  We don't want smugs here."

"Murray," I said solidly, "is neither a prig nor a smug, and as you
have never said half-a-dozen words to him you can't possibly know
anything about him."

"A smug is always labelled," he answered, "and that man looks one from
his hat to his boots, don't you think so, Lambert?"

Of course Lambert thought so, and I, having already said much more than
I intended, was just going to say a lot more, when a whole crowd of men
came into the room and saved me from the impossible task of making
Dennison believe that he could make a mistake.

I went back to my rooms and found Fred waiting for me, but from the way
I banged my note-book on the table and threw my gown into a corner, I
should not think that he expected me to be very pleasant.  Fred,
however, understood me, and it seems to me that I have always been very
lucky in having one friend who never tried to make out that I was in a
good temper when I was in a bad one.  Some people when they suspect
that you are angry ask silly little questions just to find out if their
suspicious are true, but Fred always left me alone.  He simply took no
notice of me at all, and though that was very annoying, it was not half
as bad as a string of questions or a lot of stupid remarks about things
which I did not want to hear.  I banged about the room tremendously,
but Fred went on reading _The Sportsman_ and waited for me to become
fit to speak to.

At last I threw myself into a chair close to him.

"For goodness' sake stop reading that blessed paper," I said; "why I
take the wretched thing I don't know, who cares whether Kent beats
Lancashire or whether Cambridge makes four hundred against the M.C.C."

"You and I do," Fred answered, and tossed _The Sportsman_ on to the
table.

"I have been waiting here for half-an-hour to hear what has happened,
but you seem to be in such an infernally bad temper that I should think
I had better go.  There is a very fair chance of a row if I stay here,
for I can't stand much to-day," he went on, when I had picked up the
paper to see who had made the runs for Cambridge.

"What's wrong with you?" I asked.

"Everything."

"Did you have a good ball?"

"Perfectly rotten."

"Did Nina get plenty of partners?"

"Crowds."

"And you didn't feel like going on the 'Cher' this morning?"

"I have had two pros bowling to me," he answered, "I was bowled about a
dozen times.  Besides I wasn't asked to go on the 'Cher.'"

"Nina and Mrs. Faulkner said all sorts of things about me last night?"

"Who told you so?"

"They did."

"Sometimes Nina's temper isn't any better than yours," he said.  "What
happened to you?  How's Owen?"

"Owen is very bad," I answered, and while we had lunch I told him what
I had been doing.  "In a few hours I have made a fool of myself three
times," I said, "I've promised to pay for Owen, and I have had rows
with both Edwardes and Dennison.  This college is going to blazes, and
it is men like Edwardes, who is a great lump of ice, and Dennison, who
just wants to be a blood in his own miserable little way, who will be
responsible.  Edwardes never cares what happens, and Dennison is
collecting a set round him who can do nothing but wear waistcoats, eat
and drink.  You have all the luck in belonging to a college where men
don't become bloods by drinking hard, and where everybody takes an
interest in the place.  St. Cuthbert's will never get a decent fresher
to come to it if we don't do something to make it alive again."

Fred stretched himself and yawned, all the life seemed to have gone out
of him in some way.

"You wouldn't like to belong to a college which has been something and
is on the road to be nothing," I said.

"It takes a lot to ruin a college," he answered; "every one knows that
St. Cuthbert's is a good enough place, and one man like Dennison won't
make much difference."

"Won't he? you don't know him as well as I do.  He'd ruin the Bank of
England if he could be the only director for a year."

"But there are heaps of other men besides him."

"No one seems to care; we just live on our reputation, and when
Dennison is no longer a fresher he will wreck the whole place, he is
clever enough to do it."

"You are in a villainous temper and exaggerate everything," Fred said.

"You know that Oriel is all right, and you don't care what happens to
us," I retorted, and then Fred woke up and we very nearly had a
terrific row.

The remembrance of this day still makes me feel uncomfortable, and I am
quite certain that Fred was the only man in Oxford who could have put
up with me.  I simply walked from quarrel to quarrel, and I seemed to
want each one to be more violent than the last.  Now I come to think of
it, it is possible that Dennison's advice was sound; I must certainly
have needed something which I did not take, but after all I think a
long sleep was probably what I wanted.  At any rate I was a most
unpleasant companion, and Fred told me afterwards that he had not known
me for so many years, without finding out that I could be thoroughly
unreasonable when I had a really bad day.

Undoubtedly that day was a very bad one, and when any one stays up all
night I advise him to go to bed during the next day, just to save
trouble.

We had arrived at a state of silence, for I had nothing left to say,
and Fred refused to say anything, when Jack Ward strolled into the
room, as if he had nothing more than usual to do, and had just come to
waste his time and mine.  He must have tried to make what is called a
dramatic entry, for most people who were in his condition would have
hurried up for all they were worth.  He was wet through from head to
foot, his collar hung round his neck like a dirty rag, and his whole
appearance reminded me of a scarecrow which has suffered dreadfully
from the weather.

"What has happened?" I asked at once, for he walked straight up to an
empty bottle and shook his head mournfully.

"Nothing," he answered, "except that your sister fell into the 'Cher'
and I hauled her out, and Mrs. What's-her-name shrieked and had
hysterics.  They are all right now, but as soon as I got your sister to
the bank, I had to throw water over the other lady; I began by
sprinkling her face, but as she rather liked that I had to give her a
regular good dose, and then she opened her eyes and said her dress was
spoilt.  I must have some hot whisky, or I shall catch cold."

We besieged Jack with questions, but we did not get much satisfaction
from his replies.

"It was all my fault," he said.  "I thought I could teach your sister
to punt, and she fell in and I pulled her out.  I have told you that
before."

"Nina can swim," I said.

"There wasn't much time to think about that, besides, she had a long
dress on.  I am afraid we made rather a sensation when I got a cab for
them down at Magdalen."

"We must go round at once," I said to Fred.

"I don't think it is much good doing that," Jack went on.  "I am
awfully sorry that it happened, because Mrs. Faulkner was annoyed at
first, and that was bad enough, but just before I left it suddenly
occurred to her that I was very plucky and ought to be thanked, which
was much worse.  She says they are both going to bed until it is time
for them to get up and catch the train.  In that way she hopes to avoid
the most serious consequences.  Your sister thinks it rather a good
joke; I hope she won't catch a bad cold."

"You had better go and change," I said, and I asked Fred if he would
come to the Rudolf, but he said that it was no use for him to go if
Mrs. Faulkner and Nina were in bed, and that he would meet me at the
station.  Then I said something to Jack about it being awfully good of
him to have jumped into the "Cher" to fish Nina out, but I was very
glad when he asked me to shut up, for Fred was looking more gloomy than
ever, and I am sure that he, having seen Nina swimming heaps of times,
thought the whole thing was thoroughly stupid.  I did not quite know
what to think about it, but I wished most sincerely that Nina had never
tried to punt.

Fred walked with me for a short way down the Broad, but stopped by
Balliol, and said he was going in to see a man.

"This affair is a horrid nuisance," I remarked.

"Nina wouldn't drown very easily," he returned.

"But she had a long dress on," and of this remark Fred took no notice.

"I don't think I shall come down to the station," he said; "will you
wish Mrs. Faulkner and Nina good-bye from me?"

"No, I won't," I replied, and we stared at each other so hard that we
were nearly run over by a cab; "you must come, do come to please me."

"You do such a precious lot to make me want to please you," he
retorted, and he looked most desperately down on his luck.

"Do forget all about this afternoon.  I didn't mean one word I said."

"You said a precious lot.  I'll come all right, but they won't want to
see me," and he walked off before I could tell him that they had better
want to see him, or I would have even another row.

When I got to the Rudolf I sent up a card to Nina on which I wrote
something which at the moment I thought funny.  But she did not seem to
see the humour of it, for she sent me down an angry little note in
which she told me to go away and meet her at four o'clock.  I went away
sorrowfully, for there was a sense of importance about that note which
told me that Nina was not going to tumble into the Cher for nothing,
and I knew I should hear more than enough about it before long.

But I did not think that I should be made to suffer until I got to the
station.  But when your luck is dead out it is wise to be prepared for
anything.

I strolled aimlessly down the Corn-market, and having nothing whatever
to do, I turned into the Union to read the papers, or write a letter to
my brother, or do anything to pass the time.  I stood in the hall for
some minutes looking at, but not reading, the telegrams; I was trying
to remember whether it was my turn to write to my brother or his to
write to me, and two or three men who found me planted in front of the
telegrams shoved me a little, so I moved away and met a man whom I knew.

"Halloa, Marten," he said, "I've just seen the pluckiest thing; that
man Ward, you know him, fairly saved a girl's life.  She fell out of a
punt on the Cher, a pretty girl too.  Ward's a lucky brute, you ought
to have been there."

"I've heard all about it," I answered.

"But it only happened an hour ago."

"Ward told me, he didn't think much of it."

"Well, you should have seen him, I tell you he did it splendidly; I
always thought he was a friend of yours, but you don't look very keen.
However, it's something to talk about," he said, as he strolled off to
find some one who would suit him better than I did.

I drifted from the hall to one of the smoking-rooms, where I sat down
next to a big, bearded man, who was wearing a most extraordinary wide
pair of trousers, and who looked as if he would discourage the attempts
of any one who wanted to talk.  He looked at me over the top of _The
Times_, and having had the courage to sit next to him, I felt that if
he would only look at other men as he did at me I should get all the
protection I required.  I read in the aimless way which makes me turn
the paper over frequently in the futile hope of finding something
interesting, and I could not help knowing that my neighbour's eyes were
far oftener on me than on _The Times_.  But I had no intention of
leaving him, for we were members of a defensive alliance, though he
knew nothing about it; two or three men I knew walked through the room
and left me alone; I was, I thought, in an almost impregnable position
and I closed my eyes, but before I had passed from the stage of
wondering whether I should snore if I went to sleep, I felt a touch on
my arm, and found Learoyd standing by me.

"Go away," I said sleepily, "I am very tired."

He leant over my chair and began to whisper; his back unfortunately was
turned to my ally, or I think I could have stopped him.

"Do you know," he began, "that your sister has been nearly drowned in
the Cher, and Ward jumped in after her?  Everybody says he saved her
life and will get a medal."

"Who's everybody?" I asked, and I heard a noise, which was more like a
grunt than anything else, from the chair behind Learoyd.

"Pratt told me, and I knew it must have been your sister because I saw
Ward start out of the college with her and some one else.  It was your
sister, wasn't it?"

"Yes," I answered, and my friend in the wide trousers got up and walked
by us.

"I am awfully glad it was your sister now that I have told Pratt so,"
Learoyd said.  "He told me that he didn't think it could have been,
because you didn't tell him."

"I never tell an ass like Pratt anything," I replied, "he would die if
he hadn't got something to talk about."

"I am very glad she wasn't drowned."

"You are only glad she fell in," I could not help saying.

He looked rather bothered for a minute.  "No, I didn't mean that, only
Pratt isn't the man to tell anything which isn't true, he's such a
gossip," he answered.

"I suppose every one is bound to know all about it.  I shouldn't wonder
if it isn't in the papers this evening," I said, as I got out of my
chair.

"It is sure to be," Learoyd replied cheerfully.  "Jack Ward will have
to pretend not to like it."

"He won't like it," I said, and I gave Learoyd my paper to read and
made my escape into the garden.  I sat down as far away from every one
as I could and asked a waiter to bring me some tea, and for quite five
minutes I was not molested.  It was very early for tea, and the waiter
was talkative when he came back.

"Going down to the river this afternoon, sir?" he said, as I fumbled in
my pockets for some money.

"No," I replied.

"Nearly a sad accident on the Cherwell this morning I heard some
gentleman saying.  A gentleman from St. Cuthbert's College saved a
young lady from drowning; he ought to marry the young lady, I say," he
concluded with a waggish shake of the head, and he began to grope in
his pockets for sixpence.

"Don't bother about the change," I said, "you're a humorist."

"A what, sir?"

"A humorist," I answered so loudly that nearly every one in the garden
looked round.

"I am a bit of a comic, thank you, sir.  I sings a bit and acts a bit
when I get the chance.  But people ought to be more careful when they
go boating, many a good life's been lost by drowning, leaving sorrow
behind it."

"Some one is calling you," I said desperately, and just then I saw
Pratt come into the garden and fix his eyes on me.  I rose hurriedly,
and leaving my tea bolted for the door which leads into Castle Street.
I turned round when I reached the door and saw the waiter tapping his
forehead with one finger and talking to Pratt.  It was not difficult to
guess what he was saying.

I did not know what to do next, so I walked very slowly to the station
and stood in front of the book-stall.  Business unfortunately was slack
when I arrived and one of the boys would not leave me alone, he offered
me so many papers that in sheer desperation I bought several; I told
him that I would have two shillings' worth, and left the selection of
them to him.  Then I walked off to a seat at the end of the platform to
do a little thinking, but before I had really got settled I saw Fred
walking towards me with his head somewhere near the second button of
his waistcoat.  I shouted to him, and after we had sat on the bench for
quite a minute without speaking we both began to laugh at the same
time, until a porter and a ticket-collector came to see what was
happening.  The porter was a burly man with a cheerful countenance, and
he seemed so pleased to see any one enjoying themselves that he came
close to us, but the ticket-collector stood afar off.

"Nice weather, gentlemen," he said, and having agreed with him we began
to laugh again.

"I've not 'eard a good joke for many a fine day, you seem to be
a-enjoying of yourselves, my missis 'as got the mumps," and he took off
his cap and scratched his head.

Fred said that mumps were very painful.

"Nearly what you call a tragedy on the river to-day, seemingly," he
went on, and I groaned aloud, but Fred, who had no idea what was
coming, asked him what had happened.

"It's like this," he began, "one of my mates, who 'as a brother what
belongs to one of them boat-'ouses where they let out most anything to
anybody what'll pay for it, 'eard in 'is dinner 'our as 'ow a young
woman would 'ave gone to 'er death only 'er young man 'opped into the
river and saved 'er life.  That's what my mate told me, but 'e's a bit
of a liar."

I jumped up from the seat before he had time to tell us anything more,
and pushing a shilling into his hand said that the ticket-collector was
beckoning to him.  He was so surprised that he had not enough breath to
thank me, but he was kind enough to go away.  When he thought I was not
looking I saw him tapping his forehead and grinning like that
abominable waiter in the Union.  After two or three minutes of peace
the ticket-collector thought he might as well try his luck with us, and
began to stroll casually in our direction, but just as he was going to
begin a conversation I seized Fred by the arm, and having fled to the
end of the platform, we sat down on a luggage-barrow.

"I should have hit that man," I said, "I can't stand any more," and
then I told him what I had been through since I had left him.  "It
isn't half as comic as you seem to think," I finished up, "every
blessed man I know in the 'Varsity will talk to me about it.  Nina can
swim as well as you can, and I shall tell her what I think of her."

"Don't get into another rage," Fred replied; "I shouldn't say anything
nasty to her if I were you, she didn't fall into the Cher on purpose.
What is that huge great bundle of papers you are hugging?"

"They are for Mrs. Faulkner to read on the way down, to show that I
don't bear her any malice.  I wish I had never seen her."

Fred took the bundle, and as he looked through the papers he gave way
to such unrighteous laughter that the barrow tipped up, and he, I, and
all the papers were scattered about the platform.  I hurt myself and
told him so rudely, but he laughed at nothing that afternoon, and as
soon as he had picked up the papers he went back to the barrow and
proceeded to chuckle to himself until I had to ask whether he had gone
mad.

"For Mrs. Faulkner," he said, and really he was enough to annoy any one.

"Why shouldn't I give her what I like?" I asked.

"She won't thank you for this lot," he answered.  "_Cricket, The
Sportsman, The Sporting Life, The Pink 'Un, A Life of W. G. Grace, The
Topical Times, Pick-me-up, The Pelican_,--by Jove she will have
something to tell your people when she gets home."

"It's that boy at the bookstall," I said, "let's go and change some of
them, though I believe you have only picked out the ones which Mrs
Faulkner wouldn't read.  I let the boy choose what he liked."

We made the bundle look as respectable as we could, and started down
the platform, but before we got to the bookstall we saw Mrs. Faulkner,
Nina and Jack Ward.

"Oh, here you are at last," Nina said, "if it hadn't been for Mr. Ward
I don't know what we should have done with our luggage."

"If it hadn't been for Mr. Ward we should not only have lost our
luggage but yourself, my dear," Mrs. Faulkner exclaimed, and she put
her hand on Nina's arm.

"I am sure we are horribly obliged to you, Jack," I said, for I had to
say something.

"I hope you won't catch cold," Fred said to Nina.

"Thanks, I think I shall be all right now," she answered.

"It is the terrible nervous shock which may be disastrous," Mrs.
Faulkner remarked.

"Won't you have some tea?" I asked, and it seemed to me that I was
always asking Mrs. Faulkner to have tea when I didn't know what to do
with her.

"We should miss the train, it goes in twelve minutes," she replied.

We stood on the platform for an interminable time trying to talk, but
neither Mrs. Faulkner nor Nina seemed to take any interest in Fred and
me, and I must say that Jack looked terribly uncomfortable at all the
things which were said to him.  Just before the train was due, however,
Nina took my arm and drew me away from the others, and I hoped that she
was going to tell me something pleasant, but her first words banished
that idea.

"I want you to ask Mr. Ward to stay with us in July," she said.

"I shall do nothing of the kind," I answered.

"He jumped into the river to save me."

"You can swim all right."

"But he didn't know that."

"Mrs. Faulkner makes me ill.  I think you might stop her making such a
fuss; she has made Jack feel uncomfortable, and Fred never says a word.
I think you are treating Fred jolly badly," I said.

"I suppose he will be down in July," she replied, rather disagreeably.

"Of course he will."

"And you won't ask Mr. Ward?"

"For goodness' sake, Nina, don't be stupid," I answered, "and let me
ask what friends I like."

"I shall get mother to ask him if you don't."

Before I had time to reply the train came into the station, and Fred,
Jack and I had to work hard to get a compartment to suit Mrs. Faulkner.
It took some time to get her properly settled, and after she had
thanked Jack once more and wished us all good-bye, Nina came to the
carriage-window and said that I was not to forget what she told me.

"Are those papers for us?" she called out as the train started.

I took off my hat and pretended not to hear, for I had completely
forgotten to change them, but before I could stop him Jack had taken
the bundle out of my hand, and by means of running much faster than I
thought possible he got the whole lot into the carriage.

"I felt such a fool on that platform that I never remembered anything,"
he said, when he came back.

"I wish you had forgotten how to run," I replied, and when Fred told
him why I had kept my bundle to myself we managed to talk about the way
Mrs. Faulkner would criticize my taste until we separated.



CHAPTER XVI

THE SCHEMES OF DENNISON

My life for several days after Nina went away was just what I expected
it would be.  Everybody I knew wanted to be told about the accident,
and congratulated me on her narrow escape.  I was gloriously rude to
several men, but nothing I could do was really any good.  The first man
at whom I let myself go was Dennison, and in this I made a very great
mistake, because in letting him know that I was sick of the whole
business I gave him a chance which he did not miss.  He went round
finding men who had not seen me, and persuaded them to come to me and
say how sorry they had been to hear of the accident, and how glad they
were that Jack Ward had saved Nina, and a lot of other desperate
twaddle.  Finally, Dennison having worked this joke most diligently,
decided that a dinner must be given in Jack's honour, and when he met
me in the quad on Sunday and told me about it I refused flatly to go.

"Of course you will come," he said, "it would be a disgrace to the
college if we didn't do something to celebrate Ward's pluck and your
sister's escape."

"It is a disgrace to the college to make a wretched fuss about
nothing," I replied.

"You are the only man who thinks that.  Next Thursday night, half-past
seven, at the Sceptre," he said, and walked off.

Ward and I had been avoiding each other ever since the Wednesday night,
when he having first of all been to Brasenose because they were Head of
the River and lively, came to see me afterwards and talked very
stupidly.  I was in bed, and he woke me up to talk to me for over
half-an-hour about love.  Any one would have been angry, and though I
tried to be polite, because he had jumped into the Cher, I told him to
go away several times before he went.  I had never thought it possible
that I could have so much trouble about Nina.  I suppose he knew that
he had made an idiot of himself that evening, for if there is any time
when it is decent to wake a man up and talk to him about wonderful
subjects, I am sure it can never be after a huge celebration at
Brasenose.  I didn't know much about love, but I thought that there
must be the wrong and the right kind, and that Jack had made a bad
start.

So we kept out of each other's way as much as possible, and I did not
know that he hated the idea of this dinner even more than I did.  We
might together have done something to stop it, but we had no chance
unless we combined.  I thought Jack wanted to be fêted, and in
consequence I felt absolutely savage with him, while he told me
afterwards that he was simply dragged into the thing by Dennison.
However, I am not altogether sorry that the dinner took place, for
though neither Jack nor I were anything like wily enough to score off
Dennison, we got some rare fun out of him before that evening finished.

Collier, Lambert and Learoyd all came to tell me that I must go to the
dinner before I could be persuaded to have anything to do with it, and
it was really comical to hear why each of them was so keen on the
affair.  Collier gloried openly in the fact that it would be a huge
feed, and said he was glad Dennison had engaged Rodoski to play the
fiddle because music gave him a better appetite, and he advised me
strongly not to miss such a good chance of enjoying myself, and thought
me mad to hesitate.  Lambert said that Dennison had asked him to
propose Ward's health, and that he hoped his speech--though quite
unprepared--would not be unworthy of the evening.  "The dinner itself
will be nothing, just like any other kind of dinner, but don't you miss
it," he concluded, and I felt sure that he had already got his speech
in his pocket.  Learoyd begged me not to stay away from a jolly good
rag.  "If we can't row, we can rag," he said, and when I told him that
I was sick to death of ragging, he took such a serious view of my case
that I promised that I would go so that I could get rid of him.

There were about fourteen men at the dinner-party, including Ward,
Dennison, Lambert, Learoyd, Collier, Webb, and Bunny Langham, and since
Dennison had taken a free hand in arranging everything, it was a
tremendous affair.  I never doubted that his idea was to make Ward and
me look as foolish as possible, for he was the kind of man who was
never really contented unless he was trying to make some one feel
uncomfortable.  The whole thing, I knew, was an elaborate joke at our
expense, but I was not going to starve because Nina had fallen into the
"Cher" and Jack had pulled her out, so I set to work to enjoy myself,
though I had to sit next to Dennison.  In fact, having once got to the
Sceptre, I think I made more row than any one at dinner, and this must
have disappointed Dennison, who started by saying those half sweet and
half bitter things to me, which I never know how to answer, but which
make me long to put the man who says them under the table.  So I talked
and shouted loud enough to drown Dennison's remarks, for it would never
have done to put him out of sight during the dinner.  I suppose that
being unable to get any fun out of me, and having Collier, who did not
like to speak much at meals, on the other side of him, he must have
found some fresh amusement, for he became very quiet as the evening
went on, and there was only one thing which ever made him silent and
that was the kind of thing which makes most people talk.

He was, however, capable of asking Lambert to propose the toast of the
evening, but nothing would make Lambert stir before some one had
proposed the royal toasts, which Dennison had forgotten; and three or
four men who did not want any one to talk except themselves shouted,
"No speeches," until Bunny Langham got up and surprised every one by
making them laugh.  He did not stick to his subject very much, but he
managed to make everything he said ramble round in an odd sort of way
to an apology for Dennison's forgetfulness, and if only he had been
sitting on the other side of me I should not have been compelled to
shout during the whole of dinner, for I believe he would have been able
to help me in answering the gibing remarks which had been made to me.
Dennison smiled across the table at Langham, but his smile looked as if
it had been glued on to his face, and if I had been in his place I
should have thrown something solid, like a pine-apple, at Bunny.

My penance, however, was to come, and when Lambert at last got up to
finish off the business of making fools of Jack Ward and me, I thought
of pretending that my nose had begun to bleed and of hurrying out of
the room, only it seemed to be rather a weak thing to do.  So I just
sat there and imagined that everybody was looking at me, which made me
feel most uncomfortably hot.  Lambert admitted afterwards that he was
in his very best form that evening, and I think he must have been, for
I never heard anybody talk such a lot of nonsense in all my life.  I
looked at Jack Ward once, and he was evidently having a very bad time,
but every one else except Collier, who was sleepy, seemed to think that
Lambert was amusing.  He referred to Jack in a patronizing way as "our
young hero," and said that my mind had been so completely upset by this
brave deed that for some days I had been a cause of considerable
anxiety to my friends.  When he made that remark I took a very ripe
pear from a dish in front of me, but Learoyd persuaded me not to throw
it.  I couldn't have missed Lambert, and I think he deserved to be
mobbed, but he saw what was happening and I think it made him forget
some of the things he was going to say about me.  At the end of his
speech he actually began to recite a piece of poetry of his own, though
the first line was about the brave deserving the fair and sounded like
somebody else's, which was a way his poems had.  He had arranged for
slow music to be turned on while he did this, and there was such a
general feeling against the combination that he had to sit down before
he had finished.  Bunny Langham, who was a member of the Horace Club,
and disliked any poems made in Oxford except those which he wrote
himself, led the hubbub, and after we had drunk Jack's health there was
such a noise that he escaped having to reply.  When any one shouted for
him, as they did fitfully for some time, their voices were always
drowned in the general cheerfulness of the evening, and he finally came
round from the other side of the table and sat down by me.

"You have been making a most awful row," he said.

"Self-defence," I answered, "I didn't want to hear anything which
Dennison said."

"A most rotten evening, the proggins will come in a few minutes if he
is within shouting distance.  They have been trying to get us out for
the last quarter of an hour."

"Several men seem to have gone already."

We talked for some minutes, and then a waiter came in and said the
proctor was coming down "The High," so we all bolted as hard as we
could.  Instead of turning down the Turl, I saw Dennison run down the
High, with Lambert pursuing him and telling him to stop.  But Dennison
had been careful during the last part of the evening, and had arrived
at the state when any one shouting at him made him run all the faster,
while Lambert, excited by oratory and the after-effects of it, declared
very loudly that he would catch Dennison if he had to run a mile.

"Dennison thinks that the proggins and all his bulldogs are after him,"
Bunny Langham said; "the whole thing was only a trick to get us out
before anything happened."

"They can catch me if they like," Ward replied, "I can't run to-night."

So the three of us walked back to St. Cuthbert's, and Bunny complained
bitterly that he could not come in and wait until Lambert and Dennison
turned up.  The first man to come into college after us was Collier,
who said he had been dodging round the Radcliffe for a quarter of an
hour, and soon afterwards Learoyd and Webb strolled in and pretended
that they had been sitting under the table in the Sceptre, but they
looked exceedingly warm.  We all went to Ward's rooms, which were a
kind of club for any men he knew and very often used when he was not
even in them, to wait for Dennison and Lambert; but we had to stay
until nearly twelve o'clock before either of them came, and then there
was a tremendous thumping on the door, and Dennison, in a most
exhausted condition, tottered in and nearly collapsed in the porter's
arms.

It was some time before he had breath enough to walk across to Ward's
rooms, but when we had got him settled in an arm-chair he began to feel
better.

"At any rate I did the brute," he said, "that bulldog will remember me
for the rest of his life."

I should have given the whole thing away by laughing if I had said
anything, and I moved to the window so that I could put my head outside
if I really had to laugh, while Collier, who had been scored off by
Dennison very often, began to ask him questions.  He had not to ask
many, because when Dennison once began to talk, he told us everything
without needing much encouragement.

"That big bull-dog has had his eye on me for ages," he said, "ever
since I dodged him one night last term in the Corn, and I know that he
has been saying that he would catch me some day."  He stopped for a
minute, being still rather breathless, and Collier asked him where he
had been.  "Directly I went out of the Sceptre he started off after me,
and I made up my mind I would give him the deuce of a time before I had
done with him, so I ran like blazes down the High, and when I turned
round by Magdalen to see if he was coming I saw the brute in the
distance.  So off I went again, and when we got to the running-ground I
heard him panting and swearing and shouting a hundred yards away.  I
let him get a bit closer and then went on towards Iffley; but I got a
most horrible stitch, so I went as hard as I could for a bit, and then
climbed over a gate and sat down under a hedge.  I waited until he had
gone past, and then came back to college.  It is the easiest thing in
the world to score off a bull-dog, they are simply the stupidest men in
the world."

"He must have got a long way past Iffley by now," Collier said.

"I don't care where he is, but I shall have to look out that he doesn't
get level with me," Dennison replied.

"You will always have to wear a cap and gown now," Learoyd remarked.

But Dennison took no notice of this advice.

"Where's Lambert?" he asked; "everybody else seems to be here except
him and that fool, Bunny Langham."

"We don't know, he has not come in yet," Collier answered, and at that
moment there was a rap at the door, and as soon as Lambert got into the
porch I put my head out of the window and told him to come up to Ward's
rooms.  As he walked across the quad I saw that he had been having a
rough time of it, for his clothes did not look as immaculate as usual.
He was carrying an overcoat over his arm, and his shirt and collar had
given way so badly that the first thing he did when he got into the
room was to go to a looking-glass, and see how he could improve the
appearance of things.  A lot of men asked him where he had been, but he
had forgotten that any of us had seen him start after Dennison, and he
answered that he had just been for a stroll.  "I like to have a walk by
myself after a noise," he added; "the heat of that room made me feel
absolutely ill."

Then Ward could not restrain himself any longer, and told Dennison that
we all knew Lambert had been running after him, and that there had been
no proctor and bull-dogs in the High.

"Coming suddenly out of a hot room into the open air always affects
me," Lambert said.  "I made up my mind I would catch Dennison if I ran
until my legs gave way."

"It's all a silly lie," Dennison exclaimed; "I was chased by the big
bull-dog; I should have seen that shirt, which was white when you
started."

"I had on an overcoat," was Lambert's reply.

"Did you go to Iffley?" Collier asked.

"Iffley?  Good heavens, no, I never went any further than Magdalen
Bridge."

There was such a shout of laughter that I believe I should have thought
anybody else except Dennison had been rotted enough.

"Then I _was_ chased by a bull-dog!" he said emphatically.

"You weren't chased by any one after I stopped, for I sat on the bridge
for quite ten minutes, and then I thought I would come home by Long
Wall Street, the High being rather exposed at night.  I made an
unfortunate choice."  He shot his cuffs down, but they were terribly
limp, and he looked at them with disgust.

"What happened?" Ward asked.

"I met the proggins, and having got my wind I charged right past him.
Then I ran round by the Racquet Courts, and finally hid in a garden by
Keble.  I ought not to have done that, because the bull-dogs know me,
and I found them waiting outside when I came in.  It is all your fault
for running away when I told you to stop," he said to Dennison.

"I expect you were hiding in the garden at the same time Dennison was
hiding from you behind a hedge in the Iffley Road," Collier said, and
the idea pleased Lambert so much that he took off his tie and went to
the looking-glass again.  But he soon made up his mind that no tie,
however beautifully tied, had a chance with a collar which looked like
a piece of moderately white blotting-paper, so he stalked out of the
room without wishing any one good-night, though he did wave his tie in
Jack Ward's direction as he went, and since it was very late I followed
him.

During the rest of the term I hardly saw anything of Fred, as he was
playing cricket for the 'Varsity, and whenever I tried to see him I
nearly always failed.  I did not try much, for I did not see why he
wanted to avoid me, and I thought he was treating me very badly.
Besides, my people were bothering me a lot during the last few days of
the term, and I didn't see any use in telling Fred that my mother
wanted Jack Ward to come down to Worcestershire during the summer.  As
a matter-of-fact I was in an awkward position, for my mother had
written to Jack Ward to thank him for pulling Nina out of the "Cher,"
and to say that she would be very glad if he could come down sometime
to stay with us.  But I thought Jack Ward would not come unless I asked
him myself, and that rotten jumble he talked about love on my bed, and
a sort of feeling that Fred would not like him to come kept me from
saying anything to him.  Jack only told me that my mother had written
to him, and I heard from her that she had asked him to stay, so I had
some time to think of what I had better do, and the more I thought the
more bothered I became.

I had one idea which pleased me for a quarter of an hour; it was that
Jack should come while Nina was away, but as soon as I thought of the
temper Nina would be in when she found out this little plan I abandoned
it quickly.  Another idea, which did not please me for so long, was
that I should tell Jack that my people simply hated any one who
flirted, but that seemed both to be taking a good deal for granted and
to be rather hard on Nina; besides, it reminded me unpleasantly of
those advertisements for servants which end up, "No followers allowed,"
and which, I should think, are a great waste of money.  In addition to
this bother which I manufactured more or less for myself, I had another
trouble which did not worry so much because I understood it better.
Mrs. Faulkner had told my mother, quite privately, that I was in her
opinion doing very little work at Oxford, and my mother was not as
disturbed at this as her informant thought she ought to have been.  At
least I suppose that must have been the reason why Mrs. Faulkner told
my father the same tale, and even took the trouble to show him some of
the papers which were in that wretched parcel.  I could not expect him
to approve of all those papers, and I did not dare to tell him that I
had not chosen them myself, because he would then have accused me of
laziness and extravagance and a whole host of unpleasant things, so I
accepted his rebukes with a contrite spirit and wrote and told him,
quite truthfully, that I read very serious papers nearly every week.
But when you have been fairly caught buying a host of sporting and
theatrical literature, it isn't much good trying to persuade your
father that it was a fluke.  I sent him _The Spectator_ soon
afterwards, but he never acknowledged it, and my mother in her next
letter drew my attention to the fact that he had subscribed to this
review for the last seven years.  My luck was very bad just then, I
seemed unable to do anything right.

There was only one thing which cheered me up, and it was that Owen had
got over the worst part of his illness.  But I could not even think of
this without being bothered, for when a man is ill you don't mind
promising to do anything, and it is only when he is getting better that
you begin to realize how much you have promised.  It was certain that I
must pay the expenses of his illness, and it was equally certain that I
should not have enough money to pay my college bills as well; the whole
thing made me very pensive.

Murray was in my rooms one night just before the end of the term, and I
was talking over my difficulties, for he was always hard-up himself and
not likely to offer to lend me anything, when a note was brought in
from Fred, and the first thing which fell out of the envelope was a
cheque for fifty pounds.  I did not know what to think of that, but the
note upset me altogether.

"Dear Godfrey," Fred wrote, "you told me some time ago that you were
hard up, so I am sending you a cheque in case you want it.  My people
have just sent me more money than I shall use this year, and you can
pay me back when you like.  I am afraid I shan't be able to come down
to you after the 'Varsity match, as I have promised to go with a
reading party to Cornwall for two months.  I believe the only thing to
do down there is to play golf, which isn't much fun, but Henderson is
coming, and we shall try to get some cricket.  Please remember me to
your people.  Yours ever, F. F.

"P.S. I suppose you won't come down to Cornwall; the men are all right,
five of them."

Now Fred had spent nearly all his school-holidays with me, and since we
had been at Oxford he had been down for both vacs, so for him to write
and say calmly that he had made arrangements to go on a wretched
reading party and then to ask me in a postscript to join it, made me
want to go to Oriel at once and speak to him.  But, fortunately, it was
nearly eleven o'clock and I could not get out of college, so as Murray
had gone back to his room I went along the passage to work off some of
my agitation on him.  Murray, however, was one of those annoying men
who know exactly when they have had enough of anybody, and I found his
oak sported.  I beat upon it for some time without any result, and
having told Murray my opinion of him in a voice loud enough to
penetrate almost anything, I went back to my own rooms and sat down to
write to Fred.  In the course of an hour I wrote and tore up several
letters.  Some of them I intended to be dignified, some of them were
abusive; in some I kept the cheque, but in most of them I sent it back;
in one I enclosed it with the words, "you will find the cheque you were
good enough to offer me;" that was the first I wrote, for I was quite
incapable of even thanking him until the labours of the imposition
which I had set myself began to tell upon me.

I had just torn up the seventh letter, and after a desperate struggle
whether I should begin the eighth "Dear Fred" or "Dear Foster" had
compromised matters by writing "Dear F. F.," when Jade Ward began to
yell my name down in the quad, and I went to the window at once and
told him to shut up.  For the Warden's house was in the back quad, and
although I was pleased to think the Warden my friend I knew he always
slept with his window open, because he had told me so in a very great
outburst of confidence, and I did not want my wretched name to break in
upon his night's rest.  I had not got so many dons on my side that I
could afford to make the Warden angry; besides, I really liked him, and
he was always nice to me, though he did tell the Bishop in the Easter
vac that, until I lost a certain exuberance of animal spirits, any
credit I did to the college would be more physical than intellectual.
But I did not bear him any grudge for that, because he could not help
using long phrases, and if he had just said that I liked athletics I
should have been rather pleased, which was what he really meant, only
the Bishop did not think so.

I shoved the fragments of my letters into a drawer, and when Jack Ward
came in I said I was going to bed.  The sight of him reminded me of
Nina, and to think of Nina gave me a headache.  I had never imagined it
possible that I should find it difficult to manage her, and here she
was at the bottom of all my troubles.  As I stood in my room and looked
at Jack sitting in my most comfortable chair, the reason why Fred had
written that note suddenly occurred to me.  Of course she was the
reason, and leaving Jack to amuse himself I sat down and wrote another
note; but when I read it through it seemed as hopeless as the others,
so I tore it up, and having no more note-paper I decided to see Fred in
the morning.  Then I went into my bedroom and began to undress noisily,
so that Jack might know what I was doing, but he gave a huge snore just
as I was ready to go to bed and I had to throw a cushion at his head.

"Turn the lamp out, when you go," I said, and I got into bed.  I left
the door partly open, because my room wanted all the air it could get,
and I heard him waking up slowly and stretching himself.  After that he
attacked a soda-water syphon until it gave a protesting gurgle.

"I've found the whisky, but you don't seem to have any soda," he called
to me, but I pretended that I was asleep.  However, he ransacked my
cupboard until he found another syphon, and then he came and sat on my
bed.  I told him I was very tired, because I had not forgotten the last
time he had invaded me in this way, and two doses of talking about love
would be a trial to any man.

"I wanted to talk to you, only you were so busy, and then I went to
sleep," he began.

"Well, cut it short, it must be nearly one o'clock."

"Your people have asked me to stay with them in the vac, and I want to
know what time would suit you best."

He had cut it far too short to suit me, and I asked him not to sit on
my foot, which he was not sitting upon, so that I could think for a
moment.  Then I turned my face to the wall.  But I brought myself round
pretty quickly, and felt very displeased with Jack.  Things were much
worse than I thought they were, if he could throw away all decency and
simply insist on coming.  Had I wanted him I should have asked him.

"I had a letter from Mrs. Marten this morning, asking me to settle the
time with you," he said.

"Any time will suit me," I answered, "except that I may go away with a
reading party, and I am afraid you will find it most awfully slow."

"I shan't find it slow," he asserted with conviction.

"There's nothing much to do except loll about," I said.

"That will suit me down to the ground," he said, and I turned over once
more.  It isn't much good talking to a man who confesses that he likes
lolling about; but I thought I would make things out as bad as possible.

"We do nothing but slack down there," I said; "there's not much
cricket, and we only keep one fat cob, which is a sort of
horse-of-all-work."

"Got a river?"

"A sort of glorified brook."

"And a boat?"

I had to say that we had a boat, but I explained that it was very old.

"That's all right," he said most cheerfully, and I believe he would
have been pleased if I had told him that we lived in a barn with
several holes in the roof.

He was beginning to think it was time for him to go to bed, when I
heard somebody else blunder into my sitter, and in a moment Lambert
appeared at the door.  Now Lambert, who was only gorgeous by day,
frequently became aggressive at night, and I told him to clear out
jolly quickly.  But instead of doing what he was wanted to he lit a
huge cigar, and began smoking the thing in my bedder.  He also made a
number of stupid remarks about my personal appearance, and though I
hate getting out of bed when once I am comfortable I really could not
put up with the man, for he compared me to several people, ancient and
modern, who suffered from various defects.  Jack Ward told him several
forcible things, but he went on insulting me, and then cackled as if he
had made a joke.  So at last I hopped out of bed, and he, escaping from
my bedder, continued to cackle in the next room; I just stopped to put
on a pair of shoes, and then I went after him; he ran down the dark
staircase as hard as he could, and I, anxious to give him one kick, for
the sake of honour, pursued him.  Both of us got safely to the bottom
of the stairs, and I fairly raced him across the back quad, but just as
we were going into the front one Lambert stopped suddenly and doubled
back, while I was running so furiously that I did not turn quickly
enough, and before I could follow him I saw another man standing in
front of me with a little straggly beard and great big spectacles.  We
looked at each other, and then I gave up thinking about Lambert and
walked back to my rooms; there was a horrid wind, and I shivered in my
pyjamas as I went back to my staircase.  Lambert seemed to have
disappeared altogether, but I met Jack striking matches and groping his
way down.

"Did you catch him?" he asked.

"Just like my luck," I answered.  "I met the Subby."

"What's he doing at this time of night?"

"That's what he will ask me to-morrow if he recognized me.  There
wasn't much light."

"He ought to have been in bed."

"I don't believe dons ever go to bed," I replied.  "Give me a match, so
that I can get up without breaking my neck."

The next morning Lambert came round while I was at breakfast.  He was
full of apologies and hopes that the Subby had not recognized me.

"He told me that he sleeps so badly, that he often gets up in the
middle of the night and takes a walk," he said, without the slightest
regard for truth.

"Then there is no reason why I shouldn't take a run if I like," I
replied.

"But you were shouting," he said, as if he wished I had not been.

"I'm a somnambulist, only I somnambulate faster than most people."

"I'm afraid that won't wash," he said, and he started striding up and
down my room until he found he was always coming to a wall, and then he
stopped in front of the looking-glass, and stared earnestly at himself.
"Can't we think of anything better than that?" he asked.

"Doesn't your own face help you?" I asked, and he turned round slowly.

"One of my front teeth has got a chip off it," he said.

"By Jove!" I answered, for Lambert both the last thing at night and the
first thing in the morning, was too much for me.

"But about the Subby?"

"He hasn't sent for me yet.  Just poke your head out of the door and
yell for Clarkson; yell, don't think you are singing."

He did yell, and I had breakfast cleared away.

"I am afraid he must have seen you if you saw him," he went on, and the
bulk of the man seemed to cover up all my mantelpiece.

"Get out of the light, I want some matches," I said.  "Perhaps he saw
you."

"No, I caught a glimpse of his beard coming round the corner."

"I wish men wouldn't come and talk rot to me in the middle of the
night."

"I have apologized for that; of course I shall tell the Subby it was my
fault."

"You are a big enough fool to do anything," I retorted, but he only
smiled at me, and after helping himself to a cigarette he went away.

About half-past ten I got a wretched notice from the Subby to say he
wished to see me at one o'clock, and I decided to stay in my rooms to
work, and not to go round to Oriel until the afternoon.  My work
however, was sadly interrupted, for as soon as I had really settled
down, and I settle down slowly, Dennison came in to condole with me
about my bad luck, but when I told him that I had got to go to the
Subby I caught him grinning, which exasperated me.  So he soon
disappeared, and then Jack Ward came, and after he had gone I went and
had a talk with Murray.  I have never known a morning go so quickly.

I had scarcely looked at the Subby's notice when I got it, for I only
read the time I was to go to him, and then shoved the card into my
pocket; but at one o'clock I went off to see him, wondering how I could
explain matters best.  On my way across the front quad I met Lambert
and Dennison lounging about arm-in-arm; they wished me luck, and I told
them to go to blazes.  I simply hate men who can't stand without
propping themselves up, the one against the other.

I knocked at the Subby's door without having made up my mind why I had
been running about in pyjamas at one o'clock in the morning; the
somnambulist tale did all right to annoy Lambert, but I was not such an
idiot as to try it on a don.  I had to knock twice before he told me to
come in, and when he saw me he only said "good-morning."  So I said
"good-morning" and waited.

"What is it?" he asked, when he discovered that I did not want to go to
some impossible place because my teeth ached, or my great-aunt wanted
me.

"You sent for me," I said.

"No," and he shook his head until a lock of hair fell over his forehead.

"At one o'clock."

"I didn't send for you."

"I have the notice in my pocket," and I took it out and looked at it.
Then I saw that some one had been scratching at the top of the card,
but they had done it very neatly.

"Some one has been having a joke with you," he said, and he smiled as
if he thought it a better joke than I did.

"They will be watching for me to come out," I said, and I took my
courage in my two hands.

"I suppose they will," he answered, "but I don't want to know their
names."

"I didn't mean that," I replied.

"What did you mean?" he asked, and I thought he was behaving splendidly.

"I wish you would ask me to lunch if you aren't engaged," I said, "and
then they will have to wait for longer than they bargained."

"Of course," he answered, "they certainly deserve to wait."

I enjoyed that meal very much, the Subby only wanted knowing a little
and then he became quite a good sort, and I think he was amused at a
fresher calmly asking himself to luncheon with him, but it ought to
have shown that I had a certain amount of confidence in him, for even I
could not have asked myself to a meal with Mr. Edwardes.  I doubt,
however, if he ever thought of it in that light, for he had been Subby
for five rather troubled years, and had so much to do with dealing with
men who did things they ought not to have done, that he could have had
no time to wonder why they did them.

We began by condemning practical jokes, which was very tactful of him;
he said that he knew only one good practical joke, and that was played
upon himself, but he would not tell me what it was though I promised
that I would never try it on anybody.  Then we talked about all sorts
of things, until I had been with him nearly an hour, and the
conversation was inclined to droop.

"Do you sleep very badly?" I asked, because I had heard several dodges
for getting rid of insomnia, and I should like to have done something
for him.

He blinked at me for an instant, and I think he was wondering what I
was driving at, for I suppose it would not do for a Subby to sleep too
soundly.  "I am thankful to say I have never been troubled with
sleeplessness," he said, and he looked rather drowsy at that moment.

"Some men do tell the most awful lies," I meant to say to myself, but
somehow or other I said it much louder than I intended.

But he took no notice, and after thanking him very much I left him,
feeling that I had another ally; but it is never prudent to reckon upon
a man who has to look after the conduct of the college, he gets worried
and then does not understand things quite right.

Lambert's head was poking out of Learoyd's window as I went back
through the front quad, and thinking that I might as well get this
thing finished off at once, I ran up-stairs and found Dennison and him
in possession of Learoyd's rooms.

"Much of a row?" Dennison said, with a kind of sickly sarcastic smile
which meant that he had scored off me pretty badly.

"Row?" I asked.

"Was the Subby furious?"

"I have been lunching with him," I answered; "I hope your lunch was not
spoilt by waiting for me to come out."

They did not know what to say to this, so Dennison went on smiling and
Lambert stroked his upper lip with one finger.

"You were nicely scored off," Dennison said at last.

"I had a jolly good lunch," I replied.

"Dennison doesn't make a bad Subby, and I imitate his writing pretty
well," Lambert said.

"The Subby himself must decide that, when he finds out who was ass
enough to buy a beard like his."

This reduced them to silence again, until Lambert said that he did not
see how anybody could find out.

"The Subby is much more wide-awake than you think.  I wouldn't care to
be in Dennison's place, he has just done the one thing which dons can't
stand.  However, the Subby is a rare good sort, and I shouldn't wonder
if he let the thing drop, especially as it is the end of term," I said.

"You looked fairly sick this morning," Dennison remarked, but he was
more vicious and less smiling than he had been at the beginning.

"You took me in all right," I acknowledged, "and I hope you won't hear
any more about it."

"What did you tell the Subby?" he asked.

"Not much," and if he was fool enough to think that there was any
chance of the Subby trying to find out anything, I thought I had better
leave him to his doubts, so I went round to my rooms, and having got a
straw-hat, I started off to see Fred; and fortunately I found him at
Oriel trying to make his cricket-bag hold more things than it was meant
to hold.  He did not look particularly pleased to see me, but I have
never yet met a man who can pack and be in a good temper at the same
time.

"Where are you off to?" I asked, for there were still some days before
the end of the term.

"I am going to Brighton to-night with Henderson."

"How did you manage to get leave?"

"We have both been seedy, and Rushden wanted us to go before we play
Surrey again.  In my last three innings I've made seven runs, and I
should think Rushden begins to wish he had never given me my blue.  I
don't feel as if I should ever make another run."

"Your dons must be good sorts," I said.

"They're all right," he answered, and he sat down in a chair by the
window and looked so unlike himself that I knelt down on the floor and
took everything out of the bag.  Then I packed my best, which must have
been worse than anybody else's except Fred's, and when I had finished,
though the bag still bulged and was not a thing to be proud of, it did
not bulge so very badly; at any rate Fred said it would do, but when I
looked at him again I forgot entirely that I had intended to be angry
with him.

"What's the matter?" I asked.

"Nothing to speak of.  I've had a cold and a headache, and just rotten
little things like that.  Brighton will cure me," but he didn't speak
as if he cared whether it did or not.

"You've got to come to us directly that reading party is over or I
won't have this cheque, and if I don't take the cheque I shall be in an
awful hole," I said, for I can't lead up to things.

"I would very much rather not come," he answered.

"Why?"

"Oh, I don't know," he said, and then he got up and gave the bag a kick
which, landing on a bat, hurt his toe.  "You're the best fellow in the
world, Godfrey, but you don't understand."

"There is something odd the matter with you, or you wouldn't say that.
We don't say things like that to each other."

"Won't you come down to Cornwall?"

"No, I won't."

"Is Ward going to stay with you?"

"My people have asked him."

"And is he going?"

"He seems to think he is.  I told him the boat was rotten and the cob
fat, and that there was nothing on earth to do," I added most stupidly,
but I had no idea then that any one could really be troubled by things
which had never affected me in the least.

"And he is going all the same," Fred said, and he did not look a bit
more cheerful.

So I sat forward in my chair and talked to him.  It does not matter
what I said, but I kept clear of Nina, and told him my people would be
desperately sick with him, which made him uncomfortable, because he and
my mother liked each other very much.  I also told him that he was
treating me badly; but I soon had to drop that, because he did not seem
to think that it would make any difference how he behaved to me.
However, I stirred him up, and if ever a man wanted stirring up he did;
so at last he promised that he would come to us in September and stay
until the end of the vac, if he was wanted.  I told him that if no one
else wanted him I always should; but this remark did not appear to
cheer him up at all, and I began to think he must be bilious.  I know
that whenever I had a cold at one of my private schools, the wife of
the head-master always said it came from eating too much.  But she was
a curious woman with a large imagination, and when I wouldn't eat
boiled rice and rhubarb-jam she told me that it was rice that made the
niggers such fine men; this, however, did not have the effect upon me
which she desired, for I was only eight years old, and had got an idea
that if I agreed to eat rice I should become black.  That lady has made
me think ever since that from whatever cause an illness comes it is
never from over-eating.

So I soon rejected the theory of Fred being bilious, though any reason
for his unfitness except Nina would have been welcome.  After a few
minutes spent in the unsatisfactory pursuit of finding out that my
batting average for St. Cuthbert's was 2.4, which I discovered not for
my own gratification but to please Fred, Henderson came in, looking
more freckled than ever and not in the least ill.

"You have got to come to Cornwall with us, hasn't he?" he said at once.

"The brute won't come," Fred said.

"You will have to; you know all the men, and they all want you to come.
We will have a rare good time--only Fred and Hawkins have to work hard,
the rest of us are not going to do much."

"I have to work all the vac," I said sorrowfully, and Fred, who had
smiled at my average, began to laugh once more, and he really seemed to
be much more cheerful when I saw him and Henderson off at the station,
than he had been earlier in the afternoon.

The last few days of the term were terribly dull, because some of us
had to do collections, and my papers did not altogether please Mr.
Edwardes.  I promised again that I would do a lot of work in the vac;
but Jack Ward arranged that he would come down and stay with us
directly after the 'Varsity match was over, and I could not be expected
to allow him to loll in a boat and play the fool without restraint.

I had not been at home in June for years, and June is the month in
which to see my mother's garden.  Everything went swimmingly for a day
or two; Fred made a lot of runs against Sussex, and Henderson--whose
blue was very uncertain--made seventy-six.  I was enormously pleased,
and suggested at dinner that we should all go up to town to see Fred
play in the 'Varsity match.  My father and mother were rather delighted
with the idea, and said they would go if Nina cared to come with us.

"It's the middle of the season," I said promptly, for I suppose I was
getting artful.

"I would rather not go," Nina said decidedly, "but do take Godfrey up
with you."

"I shan't leave you here by yourself," my mother answered.

"It's a pity Miss Read has gone," I put in, and Nina looked very
savagely across the table at me.

"You had better go up by yourself," my father said.

"Don't you want to see Fred playing in his first 'Varsity match--you
came up in December to see me play?" I asked Nina.

But she simply went on eating her fish as if I had not spoken, and I
wished again that Miss Read had not left us.



CHAPTER XVII

THE PROFESSOR AND HIS SON

There is not much room for a feud in a small family, and, thank
goodness, I did not belong to a large one.  Collier had five brothers
and four sisters, some of whom were never on speaking terms with the
others except at Christmas or a birthday when, from habit, they
declared a truce.  "The truce is no good," Collier said to me when he
told me about it, "because the only thing which happens is that they
change sides.  I believe they pick up."  "What happens to you?" I
asked.  "Oh, I'm neutral, a sort of referee, and have a worse time than
anybody," he replied, and I was glad that fate had not decreed that I
should be born into the Collier family.

I am sure that had I been able to find any one else to talk to, I
should have left Nina alone after she had refused to go to the 'Varsity
match.  It would have been a great effort, but I thought that Nina was
going out of her way to be particularly horrid, and she liked talking
as much as I did.  Silence, an air of offended dignity, the sort of
not-angry-but-very-sorry business, would have been a heavy punishment
for her if I could only have inflicted it, but when my father and
mother were engaged there was often nobody, except Nina, to ask to do
anything.  So after wasting one beautiful afternoon I decided that the
best thing I could do was to come to a plain understanding with her.

Fortified by my idea, but at the same time rather nervous, because I
knew that unless you are a master and the other person happens to be a
boy it is much easier to talk about a plain understanding than to
arrive at it, I strolled on to the lawn, and after taking a circuitous
route I sat down by Nina.  I had got her at a disadvantage because she
was reading a book which my mother had said was good for her, and if I
sat there long enough and bounced a tennis-ball up and down in front of
me I knew she was bound to talk.  For some reason or other I did not
feel like beginning, and this disinclination did not come from
chivalry, but I must confess from fear, Nina being armed with all sorts
of weapons which if I had possessed I should not have known how to use.

"You seem to be very busy," she said after I had bounced my ball up and
down two hundred and eleven times without missing it.  I took no notice
of that remark except to count out loud.  "Twelve, thirteen, fourteen"
I went on carefully, and when I was half-way through fifteen she threw
her hat at the ball and, by a miracle, hit it.

"You are as big a baby now as you were ten years ago," she said.

"I only wish you were," I answered, and threw the ball away from me.

"So that I might everlastingly fetch and carry for you and Fred," she
replied quickly.

"That isn't true," I retorted; "at least if it is true of me it isn't
of Fred.  He always treats you well."

"You will talk to me about Fred until I shall positively hate him."

"I want to talk about him now," I said.

"Of course you do, he is your favourite topic of conversation," and
really I believe she knew that if she attacked me I should forget to
talk about Fred.

"You don't seem to see what a friend he is of mine," I answered.

"If I liked all the friends of every one I know, I should never have
any time to do anything else."

"You forget that I happen to be your brother," I said, but I might have
known better than to make such a remark, for she seemed to think it was
amusing.

"Sometimes you are quite delicious," she returned, and I began to feel
that we were as far off a plain understanding as we had ever been.

"Look here, Nina, you are beginning to give yourself airs, and it is
time some one told you," I began desperately.  "You will be known as a
nice girl gone wrong; you were nice once, and now you talk as if you
know a lot of people and try to make out you are about twice as old as
you really are.  It won't do, it really won't; what's the good of
pretending things, it's such a waste of time?"

She looked away from me when I had finished, and I had not the vaguest
idea how she would reply, but at any rate she did not laugh.

"You are really serious for once," she said half questioningly.

"I often try to be serious, only no one ever suspects it," I answered,
unable to keep myself out of it.

"But you are always one-sided."

I very nearly said that I had only spoken for her good, but managed to
stop myself, because no one ever believes you when you say it.
Besides, it would have annoyed her, so I was silent.

"You see you have not got much older, and I have.  I couldn't bounce a
ball up and down two hundred and thirteen times now."

Again I used abstinence and stopped myself from telling her that she
could never have done it, for she was quite solemn, and I thought we
were getting at something.  I hoped, too, that we should get it
quickly, for a tired feeling was creeping over me.

"You are only eighteen," I said.

"I am nineteen next week," she answered, and I knew that she meant this
both as a rebuke and a reminder.

"That's not very old."

"It's old enough for me to know that you and I will never quarrel about
trifles," she said.

"Then will you come to the 'Varsity match?" I asked.

"You don't think the 'Varsity match a trifle, do you?"

"I'm not going to sit here and quibble; you're too clever altogether,"
I said, and I got up and wondered in which direction there was most to
do, but Nina stood up, too, and put her hand through my arm.

"Let us go for a walk by the river before dinner," she said, and after
asking what good she thought that would do I went.

"My dear Godfrey, you are simply splendid," she went on, "the dearest
old bungler I know.  You remind me of the Faulkners' ostrich, which
goes on tapping at the window when it has been opened and there is
nothing to tap at."

I did not know what she meant, and if that ostrich had not been rather
a friend of mine I should have been insulted.  As it was I did not feel
pleased.

"You will spend your life running your head against brick walls," she
continued.

"I am not going down to the river if you are going to preach to me,"
but we were already half-way there.  "What about the 'Varsity match?"

"You don't understand things, Godfrey."

"Fred has told me that already," I said sulkily.

"Oh, has he?" she replied, and I saw that I had stumbled upon something
which made her think.  We sat down by the river and did not speak to
each other for a long time, and when Nina broke the silence her mood
had changed completely.  She cajoled me; I think that must have been
what she did, and I was weak enough to like it.  It was so nice to have
me home again; we were going to have a splendid time together, we
always had been together; Mrs. Faulkner said Oxford spoiled so many men
at first, it made them prigs; but there was no chance of me becoming a
prig, I was just the best sort of brother in the world, because when I
did meddle in other people's business I hated doing it, and did it all
wrong; in the future she would try to do everything to please me, for
she was never happy unless I was.  As regards my digestion, I certainly
must have resembled the Faulkners' ostrich, for I swallowed all this;
and when we had walked back home I felt as if my attempt to come to an
understanding had not been a failure.

When, however, I thought over what she had said I was not so pleased,
for I began to see that if the summer was to be splendid and I was not
to be called a prig I must give up the idea of taking her to the
'Varsity match.  In fact, in ten minutes I had come to the conclusion
that I had been made a fool of, but no one could expect me to begin the
thing all over again.  I made a resolution then, which is worth
recording because I kept it, that I would never tackle Nina again about
my friends; she was too much for me, I acknowledged to myself, and
apart from determining that she should at least behave decently to
Fred, I made up my mind to keep clear of things which seemed altogether
out of my line.

It was arranged finally that I should go alone to town for the 'Varsity
match, and should bring Jack Ward back with me.  My mother said I must
stay with the Bishop, and if she had not wanted me to go very much I
think I should have found a number of reasons why I had better stay
with him at some other time.  For though the Bishop in the country had
made himself quite pleasant, I had a sort of feeling that he had his
eye on me and that this visit would be one of inspection.  My
reluctance was apparent to Nina, and one evening she mentioned it
before dinner.

"I don't see what there is to be afraid of.  Think of him as an uncle,"
she said.

"I am not afraid of a hundred bishops," I answered.

"Then you needn't be nervous about going to stay with half one, because
he's only a suffragan."

"You shouldn't speak of your uncle in that way, Nina," my mother said.
"It makes no difference whether he is an archbishop or a curate, but I
won't have him spoken of as if he is a fraction."

"Godfrey used to hate him, at any rate," she replied, simply to create
a diversion.

"I am sure he didn't," and my mother's eyes turned questioningly upon
me.

"I did rather bar him at one time until he was decent in the summer, he
used to think himself so funny," I explained.

"I wish you would talk English," my father said.  "Dinner is already a
quarter of an hour late, I am going into the dining-room."  He marched
off quickly and Nina began to laugh, but I think she must also have
been a little ashamed of herself.

"I am a scapegoat for everybody," I said to her; "for you, the cook,
and the gardener's boy, whose whistle is always mistaken for mine."

"Never mind," she answered, "you don't look very depressed."

"It isn't fair, all the same; you don't play the game," and as my
mother had already gone into the dining-room to sit rebukefully at a
foodless table I followed her.

These solemn waitings, which did not happen unfrequently, were comical
to me, and since my father never could understand why Nina and I were
amused at them, he had generally forgotten his original grievance
before dinner began.

When I got to London I could not help being struck by the difference
between a bishop at work and a bishop at play.  The chief impression I
got of my uncle was of a man most strenuously at labour; if he wanted
to lecture me he never had time to do it, and nearly the first thing he
said was that I was to do exactly as I liked, and he gave me a
latch-key so that I might feel that I was a bother to nobody.  He was
so extraordinarily kind and simple that I wondered how on earth it was
that I had really hated him at one time, for I had hated him quite
honestly, and I came to the conclusion that as soon as he had ceased to
be a pompous humorist he had become a very nice man.  At any rate he no
longer made jokes, and I never had been able to think them good ones,
because those which I remembered had been nearly always directed at me.

The 'Varsity match was a complete failure owing to the weather, and was
never likely to be finished.  Fred made fifteen in the one Oxford
innings, and as the whole side made under a hundred, he didn't do so
badly.  But I think Cambridge might have won if the game had been
played out, so when it poured with rain on the third day, I did not
mind very much, apart from the fact that Lord's in wet weather is a
terribly dismal place.  I went back about one o'clock to my uncle's
house and having found a huge London directory, I hunted for the name
of Owen.  I soon found an address in Victoria Street, which seemed to
be the one for which I was looking.  "Professor of Gymnastics, Boxing
and Fencing" was pretty well bound to be right, and in the afternoon I
started off to find Owen.

I wanted to ask him to come and stay with us as soon as Jack Ward had
gone, and I had already told my mother about his illness, though I had
never mentioned the life-saving tale.  I had often wanted to ask my
father what really happened, only having made a promise, I had got to
stick to it, and I wished I had never been fool enough to make it; it
seemed to be making a lot of fuss about nothing.  But, if I could
persuade Owen to come, the whole thing would have to be cleared up, and
I thought being in the country would do him so much good, that the
Professor would make him come whether he wanted to or not.  I did not
know quite what my father would say when he heard all about Owen, for
in some ways he belonged to what, I believe, is called "the old
school," and clung tenaciously to the belief that there was not a
Radical yet born who did not work night and day for the destruction of
the British Empire.  We never talked politics at home, though sometimes
we listened to a lecture.  But, as Owen said that he would never have
lived if it had not been for my father, they ought, I imagined, to have
a sort of friendly feeling for each other, though I cannot say that I
felt any great confidence in this idea.  I relied more on the fact that
as soon as you had removed the crust from my father, you found a huge
lot of kindness underneath it.  He liked to complain, and some people,
who knew him very slightly, thought he liked nothing else, but they
were most hopelessly wrong.

My chief recollection of that walk along Victoria Street is that my
umbrella was constantly bumping into other umbrellas; I must have tried
to walk too fast, and the result was that by the time I reached the
Professor's, I was hot and splashed, and my umbrella had a large rent
in it.  The door of the house was open, and I saw a notice hanging on
the side of the wall which told me to walk up-stairs.  What I was to do
when I had walked up-stairs puzzled me, so I went back into the street,
and having rung a bell as a sort of announcement that some one was
coming, I went up slowly.  The house seemed to be full of stuffiness
and gloom, so much so that had I been unable to find either the
Professor or his son, I should not have been at all sorry.  I was,
however, met on the first landing by a servant who must have been
cleaning a grate when I interrupted her.  Her hair was straying over
her face, and as she stood waiting for me to explain my business, she
tried to arrange it properly, but she only succeeded in putting two
large streaks of black upon her nose and forehead.

"I want to see Professor Owen," I said untruthfully.

"'E's porely this afternoon."

"Never mind," I replied quickly, "is Mr. Owen in--his son?"

"'E don't live 'ere, 'e lives at West-'Am with 'is ornt."

"Would you give me his address, I won't interrupt the Professor if he
is not well?"

"Who may you be, I don't remember your fice?"

"I know Mr. Owen at Oxford, I have never been here before."

She laughed for a moment and then said she should have to ask the
Professor for the address, but just as I was going to say I would write
and ask him to forward my letter, a door opened on my right, and an
enormous man in a blue pair of trousers and a flannel shirt came out
into the passage.

"This gent wants Mr. 'Ubert's address," the servant said, and
disappeared very quickly up another flight of stairs.

"Are you the Professor?" I asked.

"That's me."

I held out my hand, but the passage was dark and his attempt to get
hold of it went wide.

"Will you come into my room?  Business, I suppose?"

I said it was business, and walked into a small sitting-room, which
seemed to be furnished principally with a table, a big arm-chair, and
empty bottles.

"I'm cleaning up a bit to-day, you must excuse the bottles," he said,
and put his hands on the table.  I would have excused everything if
only the room had not been so dreadfully close, and I stood while the
Professor looked at the bottles and finally picked one up and put it
down again in the same place.  Then, as if the exertion was too much
for him, he sank with a thud into the chair.

"You aren't well, I am afraid."

"No," he answered, "not at all well; damp heat always affects my head."

I sat down on a box labelled "soda-water" and looked at him.  My first
impression of him had been one of huge strength, my second was one of
flabbiness, and no one could help guessing the reason.  Everything
about him was huge except his eyes, and they might have been had I been
able to see what they were like, but all I could see was the puffiness
beneath them, and that was enough to make me wish I had never come.  I
stared at him for some time, but he did not speak, and at last he began
to breathe so heavily that I had to interrupt him.  "I say, Professor,"
I began, and he jumped up and began to rub his eyes.  Then he sat down
again and putting his elbows on his knees looked at me as if he was
trying to remember what brought me there.

"This is my afternoon off," he said; "I have no pupils until to-morrow
at ten o'clock, and then I give a fencing-lesson to the Honourable Mr.
Bostock.  Perhaps you know him?"

I said that I did not, and I thought the Professor was a snob.

"What can I do for you?  Fencing or boxing?  I trained Ted Tucker years
ago--you remember Ted Tucker, the Bermondsey Bantam as they called him?
My eye, he was a hot 'un with his fists."

I had never heard of Ted Tucker, and said so.

"You don't seem to know anybody," he replied, and for the life of me I
could not help laughing.

"Look here, young man, I'm not going to be laughed at.  I may have my
little weakness, but I keep my self-respect, and I'd like you to
remember that, if you can remember anything.  Who are you, I've asked
you that before, and where did you come from?"  He glared angrily in my
direction and I did not like the look of him at all.

"I came to see your son," I answered; "I don't want to fence or box,
but his address."

His manner changed at once.  "Are you from Oxford?" he asked.

"Yes."

"And you call on my afternoon off, that's most unlucky."  He talked all
right but his legs were uncertain, and when he stood up he found the
mantelpiece useful.  "Rheumatism, I'm a martyr to it," he said.

"Very painful," I remarked, and got off my soda-water case.

"Don't get up, it's passing off.  If you're from Oxford, I must put on
a coat and collar.  Would you oblige me with your name?"

"Godfrey Marten," I said.

"Colonel Marten's son?  Here, sit in this chair.  I must put on two
coats," and he made a most gurgly kind of sound which must have meant
that he was amused with himself.  Then he looked towards the door as if
wondering whether he could reach it.

"Please don't put on anything for me," I said, and I took his arm and
directed him back to the chair.

"Your father saved my life, and you're the very image of him.  It's
enough to upset an old man like me," and without the slightest warning
tears began to roll down his checks.

"Cheer up," I said, for I felt very uncomfortable.

"And you'll go and tell him that you found me--that you called on my
afternoon off."

"I shan't," I said stoutly.

"And you've been a good friend to Hubert."

"That's nothing; I want his address in West Ham."

"Don't say it's nothing, no deed of kindness was yet cast away in this
world of sin," and two more tears began to roll.

"Stop that kind of thing, I simply can't stand it.  Pull yourself
together," I said, "and if you will give me his address I'll go."

"Don't go, you must stay and have a cup of tea.  The Colonel, I hope
he's well?"

"He's all right; you write to him still, don't you?"

"No, I never write to him."

"Hubert told me you did."

"He made a mistake.  The Colonel and I quarrelled, but you must never
say a word.  I was treated badly, but I don't bear anybody any grudge,
leastways not to the man who saved my life.  Hasn't he ever told you
about it?"

"Never."

"That's like him, but he will never want to hear my name again; I
should take it as a favour if you will not mention it."

"Why shouldn't I?" I asked.

He stood up again and was ever so much better.

"I was misunderstood," he said.

"How did you ever know anything about me?"

"The gymnasium instructor at Cliborough is my brother-in-law.  He was
in the old regiment.  He told me about you."

"He taught me fencing," I said, and added, "But why did you want Hubert
to see me?"

"You do want to get to the bottom of things; would you like some tea?"

I did not want any tea, but I asked if I might open the window, and
then I took my case across the room and got some air.

"It's right for every man to have one ambition," he said, in the way
which made me loathe him.

"What's yours?" I asked promptly.

"That Hubert shall be a gentleman, that's why I wanted him to know you,
only he's so shy----"

"Good gracious!" was all I could exclaim, and it did not express my
astonishment in the least.

"You'd have done very well for my job if he'd only buttoned on to you."

"He is not the kind of man to 'button on.'"

"Don't you teach your grandfather to suck eggs," he said angrily.  "I
like your impudence, but I'm busted if I can put up with it," but
before I could answer him he was apologizing and shaking my hand most
vigorously.

At that moment Hubert opened the door, and both saw and heard what was
happening.

The Professor turned round quickly and forgot to drop my hand, with the
result that I was pulled from my soda-water case on to the floor.

"I thought," he gasped, "it was old Ally Sloper."

I managed to escape from him and to stand up.  Hubert, however, did not
say anything, but began to brush my coat with his hand.

"Who is Ally Sloper?" I asked, for I began to think that the Professor,
who was looking ashamed of himself, was a lunatic.

"He's Mr. King, the man who helps me at Oxford, he dresses rather
funnily," Hubert explained.

"He bothers me when I am not well," the Professor added, but he did not
seem certain what line to take and kept his back turned to both of us.

"If you would only be well, he wouldn't bother you," Hubert said at
once.

"I am better than I used to be.  You know how the weather upsets me, I
haven't had an afternoon off for six weeks.  Ask Emily," and when he
turned round the tears were once more rolling down his cheeks, and I
was desperately afraid that I was in for a regular scene.

"You are nearly all right now," I said, "and I must be going if Hubert
will walk a little way with me."

He took my hand again and held it.  "You will not think very badly of
an old man who has served his country," he said.

"No, but I do think you ought to be----" and then I stopped.

"What?"

"It's no business of mine."

"You are the son of the man who saved my life."

"Oh don't," I replied, and a tear dropping plump on the back of my hand
settled me.  "I was going to say ashamed of yourself."

"To think that any one should say that in the presence of my son," he
said, and dropped my hand.

"I have said it a hundred times, but no one else has ever had the pluck
to," Hubert put in.

"Kick a worm when he doesn't turn," he said confusedly.

"That's all rot," I answered, and something compelled me to walk up to
him and tap him on the shoulder.  "You aren't a worm, and I wouldn't
dare to kick you.  Wouldn't dare, do you see; you're a fine, big chap,
why in heaven's name don't you pull yourself together?  I don't know
much about it, but I'll bet it's worth it.  A man like you oughtn't to
go crying like a baby."

"No sympathy," he moaned.

"Rot," I said again.  "I shall tell my uncle about you, he'll be a
jolly useful friend."

"What's he?"

"A parson."

"Two pennuth of tea and a tract.  No thanks," he shook his head
decidedly.

"He's not that kind.  A man isn't bound to be an ass because he is a
parson."

"You seem to have kind of taken charge of me," he said.

"I don't mean any harm," and then, for it was no time for facts, I
added, "I like you, you are an awfully good sort, really."

"Me and the parson uncle," he said, and he gave a hoarse chuckle.  "We
should do well in double harness.  I'd pull his head off in about ten
minutes."

"May I ask him to call on you?"

"You'd better see what Hubert says.  I'm only a dummy."

"A good big dummy," I answered, with the intention of taking myself off
pleasantly.

"Oh, be rude.  Trample on me, call me names," and then swelling out his
chest and glaring at me, he added, "Hit me."

"I shouldn't care to risk it," I returned, and asked Hubert, who had
been walking aimlessly round the room, if he was ready.

We left at last, and were pursued down-stairs by volleys of apologies.
I had to stop twice and shout back that I was not offended and that I
forgave everything, though from the way I had talked to him it struck
me that he had about as much to forgive as I had.

We walked towards Victoria without speaking, and when I did try to talk
I was most horribly hoarse, I must have fairly shouted at the Professor.

"My father's often like that after an afternoon off," Owen said
presently.  "He's first angry and then apologetic, and in the end he's
most horribly ashamed of himself.  Wednesday afternoon is his worst
time, and I generally try to be with him and then he's all right, but I
got stopped to-day.  He comes down to my aunt's on Sundays, though he
hates it."

"I believe he would like my uncle, he wouldn't jaw and cant."

"Do as you like.  I've never thanked you, except in letters, for seeing
me through that illness."

"How are you now?"

"All right; I feel as if I have been ill, that's all."

"You've got to come down to Worcestershire," I said; "a fortnight there
will do you more good than years of West Ham."

"I can't do that," he answered at once.

We turned into Victoria Station and sat down on a bench.  For some
minutes I listened to his objections and answered them; in all my life
I do not think I have ever been quite so sorry for any one, though I
had sense enough not to tell him so.  I felt rather a brute when I left
him; it seemed to me that I had been having a most splendid time
without knowing it, while he had been having a very wretched one, but I
can't keep on feeling a brute long enough for it to do me any good, if
feeling a brute ever does any good.

I overcame all Owen's objections, and I made him promise to come to
Worcestershire, but as soon as I had time to think about it I wondered
what on earth I should do with him when I had got him.  I could count
on my mother as an ally.  I did not altogether know what my father
would think, and Nina, as far as I was concerned, was represented by x
in a problem to which no one had ever found an answer which was
anything like right.

The first thing to do, however, was to go for the Bishop, and I think I
can say that I went for him at some length.  I didn't explain well, or
he was very stupid, because he got dreadfully mixed up before he got
the facts of the case clearly, and I can't say that he seemed
altogether pleased when I told him that I had as good as promised that
he would be a friend to the Professor.

"As it is, I am rushed off my legs.  Who was it you said he had
trained?"

"Ted Tucker."  I had brought that in as a piece of local colour or
whatever it is called, just to liven things up a bit, but I am afraid
it was a mistake.

"You see, I don't know anything about prize-fighters.  I did box once,
but that's years ago."

"Why, you're the very man," I exclaimed.  "He'd love you; he's not a
bit more like a prize-fighter than he is like a Professor, he's more
like a sort of prehistoric man in blue trousers and a shirt."

But prehistoric men did not seem to appeal to my uncle any more than
prize-fighters.  He looked very sombre indeed, so much so that I was
quite impressed, but I had taken this job in hand and really had to see
it through.  So I talked, and I won in the way all my few triumphs have
been won, by talking until the other man wanted to go to bed.

"I like your enthusiasm, Godfrey," he said at last, "and I wouldn't
check it for the world.  I will do all I possibly can, both with the
Professor and with your people.  But you can't persuade me that your
father will like the son of a man, who has been dismissed from the army
for some cause, to come down and stay with you."

"Don't you tell that to anybody else," I said.  "Owen only told me this
afternoon, he's only just found it out himself."

"Are you going to tell your father all this?"

"Everything except that the Professor gets drunk now, and you're going
to stop that," I added cheerfully.

"Oh, am I?" he answered, "I can't help wishing that it had not rained
this afternoon and that you had been safely at Lord's."

"Well you can't say that I've wasted my time."

"You have got your hands too full, considering that you have promised
to work this summer.  Don't forget you have got to work, we don't want
any fourth in Mods," and then he wished me good-night, and on the next
day I went home with Jack Ward, who had a most astounding lot of
luggage.

I am not going to describe my first summer vac at any length, because
if I once began I should not have any idea when to stop, it was the
kind of time which made gloomy people cheerful and cheerful people
gloomy; silly, ridiculous things happened, and Mrs. Faulkner was at the
bottom of most of them.  She even found a niece for me, but that came
to nothing, for the niece was a very nice girl and in a week we
understood each other beautifully.  She stayed a month with the
Faulkners and thought of me as a brother, which was most satisfactory;
sometimes, however, she treated me like one and then I was not so
pleased.

Jack Ward and Nina, in my opinion, behaved none too well; but my father
liked Jack and my mother did not say much about him, which explains the
whole thing.  He was always ready to do anything, and his only fault in
my father's eyes was that he was never in time for breakfast.

I was chiefly engaged during his visit in paving the way for Owen's.  I
told my mother everything and wanted to tackle my father at once, but
she said I must wait for a favourable opportunity.  I waited a whole
week, and it had a most depressing effect on me, so I just walked into
his study at last and got it over.  It happened to be a damp day,
during which he had felt two twinges of lumbago, but he forgot those
twinges before he had done with me.  I bore everything he said
silently, because when he is in a furious rage in the beginning he
tails off wonderfully at the end.  It seemed that he had a very low
opinion of the Professor, and he declared emphatically that he was not
going to have his house made into a sanatorium.  I listened to a crowd
of disagreeable facts about my new friend, and my father declared that
even the sight of his son would give him an attack of gout.  "It is
true," he said, "that I did save his life, and he had, as far as that
went, cause to be grateful, and he wasn't grateful but a disgrace to
the regiment.  I want to forget all about the man and then you rake him
up again, and you say that stupid uncle of yours, who plays cricket
when he ought to be writing sermons, is going to be a friend to him.
It's more than I can or will put up with," and he banged _The
Nineteenth Century_ down on his writing-table so violently that he
upset a vase of roses and some of the water went into his ink-pot.
After that he was incoherent for a minute, and I, not knowing what to
say, remarked that the Bishop could not be expected to write sermons
during his holidays.

"A bishop ought always to be writing sermons," was his only answer, and
I guessed that his rage had reached its climax.  I tried to lower the
flood on his table by means of my pocket-handkerchief, and waited.

"What sort of a fellow is this son who pushes himself upon you in this
way?  It's monstrous."

"He's quiet and all right, and he has never pushed himself at all.  I
made him promise to come; he didn't want to, only it's his chance to
get well and he must take it.  You would have done the same thing."

"What's he like?"

"He's not exactly like any one else I know at Oxford, but----"

"Of course he isn't."

"I was going to say no one could possibly dislike him."

"I suppose he will have to come, but I want you to understand that in
future I insist on knowing whom you want to ask here before you ask
them.  I am exceedingly annoyed, I shall go and see your mother."

I went with him, as when I am about I generally manage to absorb most
of his anger, but after a few outbursts my mother soothed him, and in
the end he even gave a grim sort of smile when I said that unless he
had saved the Professor there would have been no bother about his son.

"Don't call that man a Professor," he said, "he's a humbug, he always
was and always will be, and if it wasn't that I am sorry for a son who
has such a father I wouldn't be talked over by you.  But you have given
your uncle something to think about," and that idea sent him smiling to
the window.

One most splendid thing happened while Jack Ward was staying with us,
for just before he was going away Nina fell into the river again and
Jack was superb enough idiot to repeat his previous performance and
jump in after her.  I met them trying to get into the house by a back
way, and from the look of them I saw that they were feeling rather
silly.  It is all very well to fall into one river, but when you start
going overboard anywhere the thing becomes comical, and they fell from
their high position as rescued and rescuer and had to put up with a
good deal of wit, as we understood it at home.  I didn't say much,
because Nina was better than I was at saying things, but whenever I saw
her I gave way to fits of silent laughter.  I can't think how I thought
of that dodge, it was so extraordinarily successful and so far above my
average efforts, and as soon as I saw that it was working properly, I
did not mind being called anything she liked.  And my father, being
particularly well just then, helped me by what, I was determined to
believe, were very humorous remarks.  Jack did not hear many of them,
but the few he did hear must have upset him a little, for he tried to
explain himself by saying that he would jump into anything to save a
kitten, which from the look of Nina did not seem to satisfy her much.
In the end I don't believe she was as sorry for Jack to go as I was.
She could not stand being a family joke, and I, having suffered in that
way many times, could have sympathized with her if I had not thought
that it was much the best thing which could happen.

I felt dull after Jack went, for he was the sort of man who does
brighten up a place, and he was never by any chance bored; besides, I
was wondering how I could make Owen enjoy himself, because the only
thing I knew about him was that he did not care for any exercise except
walking, and I hoped that he would be reasonable about the distances he
wanted to go.

However, the day before he was to come, Miss Read arrived, which was an
idea of my mother's, and a very good one.  Miss Read had been Nina's
governess for eight years, and she knew all of us better than we knew
ourselves.  She was a kind of tonic when any of us were depressed, and
a cooling draught when we were angry; in my case she had seldom been a
tonic, but all the same when she had left us at Easter I was very
sorry.  She was the only person I have ever seen of whom Nina was
really afraid.  I am sure she could have told some funny tales if she
had felt inclined.  She was supposed to be coming to see Nina, who was
going to Paris in a few weeks to be "finished," but I am sure that my
mother thought Owen would like her, and that she would like him.  And
as it happened, they were both botanists and butterfly-catchers, at
least Miss Read knew a lot about butterflies, though her time for
catching them had gone by, and they were always doing things together.

Worcestershire must certainly be a better place than West Ham for a
botanist, and after Owen had got used to us I believe he enjoyed
himself.  We worked together in the mornings, which pleased my father,
and he let my mother give him as much medicine as she wanted to, which
pleased her, and I feeling virtuous after reading every morning for
nearly four hours, was very pleased with myself.  But he was in a
mortal terror of Nina, though she really never gave him any cause to
be, and made the most valiant efforts to learn the Latin names of
plants.  Miss Read and he made excursions and grubbed about in hedges,
and Nina and I often met them at some place to have tea.  It wasn't
very exciting, for I had always to carry the kettle and the things to
eat; but the sun shone most of the time, which was really a blessing,
because on wet days Owen persuaded me to work in the afternoons as well
as the mornings, and that was more than I had ever thought of doing in
a vac.

I suppose Owen was what is generally called a smug, but he was not one
by choice but by compulsion, which is the best kind I should think.  He
was so totally different from any other kind of friend I have ever had
that I sometimes caught myself wondering whether I really liked him.
But I could always satisfy myself about that, for there was one thing
about him which no one could help liking; he was most tremendously
clever and never tried to make out that he was, and having already seen
plenty of people who were about as clever as I was, and who talked as
if they were Solomon and Solon rolled into one, I was grateful to him.
We got on very well together, though we had not got a single thing in
common, except that we both liked sunshine; and that can't be said to
be much, for I have only met one man in England who did not like the
sun, and he had been affected, permanently, by too much of it.

Men get blamed freely enough for putting on side about playing cricket
and football well, and they deserve all they get, but the men who put
on intellectual side ought, I think, to be spoken to more severely,
because they get worse as they get older, while the first sort of side
generally dies an early death.  Owen was a kind of encyclopaedia, who
did not air or advertise himself, and I thought him a very rare
specimen.  Athletics meant no more to him than botany or butterflies
meant to me, but when he went away my father said emphatically that it
was refreshing to think Oxford turned out some men who took interest in
useful things.  I did not answer that remark, because he did not really
know very much about Oxford, and his occasional hobby was that the
country was being ruined by too many games.  "A very well-conducted
young man," he said of Owen, "always up in the morning, and always
ready to go to bed at night."

"He looked much better when he went away than when he came," my mother
said; "I hope we shall see him down here again."

"I think he means to make a name for himself," Miss Read added; "he
knows exactly what he wants."

Nina yawned, and although I thought my father need not have described
Owen as a well-conducted young man, I was thankful that his visit had
passed off so well, and I said nothing.

After Owen had gone away we had a fellow to stay with us out of my
brother's regiment.  He was home on sick-leave, but had quite recovered
from whatever had been the matter with him, and was as full of bounce
as a tennis-ball.  Mrs. Faulkner loved him and wanted Nina to follow
her example, as far as I could make out, for she gave a dance and a
moonlight supper party on the river.  Mr. Faulkner, who was always more
or less semi-detached, disappeared before the supper-party, which he
told me was a midsummer madness.

"There will be a mist and the food will be damp and horrid, and
everybody will be wanting foot-warmers and hot-water bottles before
they have done, you had better put on your thickest clothes and borrow
my fur overcoat," he said to me.  And he was a true prophet, for Nina
caught a violent cold in her head, which checked and really put a stop
to a more violent flirtation.

Nina went to Paris a few days after Fred came to us, and we all agreed
that she would enjoy herself there, though I do not believe that any of
us really thought she would.  As a matter-of-fact she was so home-sick
that my mother would have gone to fetch her back if it had not been for
Miss Read, who was blessed with much courage and common-sense.  Mrs.
Faulkner tried her hardest to persuade my mother to bring Nina home
again, and she came to our house and wept so much that I thought she
was sure to win.  But Miss Read met tears with arguments, until Mrs.
Faulkner stopped crying, and having lost her temper, forgot that Miss
Read had not only been Nina's governess, but was also one of my
mother's greatest friends.  So Nina stayed in Paris, and I wrote to her
twice a week for a fortnight, but after that she began sending me
messages in other people's letters, and I was sorry for her no longer.



CHAPTER XVIII

THE ENERGY OF JACK WARD

After Nina went to Paris Fred spent most of his time in trying to be
cheerful, but for some days he looked as if he had lost something and
expected to find it round the next corner.  I was very patient, though
I do not believe he understood how often I wanted to argue with him.
By the end of the vac, however, he had forgotten to be gloomy, and I
hoped that Oxford would cure him altogether, for he had a good chance
of getting his Rugger blue, and he had got to read; besides, I have
never been able to see that perpetual gloom is of any use to anybody.

I went back to St. Cuthbert's full of desperate resolutions.  I wanted
to make every one in the college understand that it was the slackest
place in Oxford, and having done that I wished to find the men who
would make it keener.  The scheme was a gigantic one for me to take up;
it needed tact, and I went at it so vigorously that in a few days I had
offended some men and had succeeded in making others look upon me as a
freak.  Dennison told me that I had a bee in my bonnet.  If he had said
that I was mad I should not have minded, but those horrid little
expressions of his always tried me very much, and I am bound to confess
that my first efforts to rouse the college met with more ridicule than
success.  Very few men seemed to care what happened to us, and nearly
everybody pretended that our eight would rise again, and our footer
teams cease to be laughed at, though no one tried to make them any
better.  Dennison wrote a skit called "The Decline and Fall of St.
Cuthbert's"; and some artist, who thought that my nose was as big as my
arm, made a drawing of me in which I was trying to carry the college on
my back, and was so overburdened by the weight of it that nothing but
my nose prevented me from being crushed to the ground.  It was very
funny and also very unfair in more ways than one, because I did not
start my crusade with any idea of becoming important, and I have no
feature which is superlatively large.

This skit of Dennison's really settled me for a time, but I did stir up
one or two men whom I had never expected to do anything.  Jack Ward
stopped driving about with Bunny Langham, and began to play footer, and
Collier actually went down to the river every afternoon.  Physical
incapability prevented him from rowing well, but he persuaded several
other men, who did not suffer as he did, to go through the same
drudgery, and for self-sacrifice I thought he was hard to beat, because
he was quite a comical sight in a boat.  What good did come from my
first crusade was due chiefly to him; a kind of revivalist spirit was
upon him, and many unsuspecting freshers who had only thought of the
river as a place to avoid, were unable to resist his entreaties.

The dons heard of my crusade, and I know that Mr. Edwardes did not like
it, but I had two of them on my side, and the others did not take any
active measures against me.  Mr. Edwardes took the trouble to tell me
that I was mistaken in thinking that the reputation of St. Cuthbert's
depended upon athletics, and I answered that I had never supposed
anything of the kind, but that I thought a college which was slack
about other things would end by being slack in the schools.  This reply
of mine surprised him so much that he told me that any campaign to be
successful must be managed by the right people, and I agreed with him
cordially, for although I knew that plenty of men would have worried
everybody out of their slackness much more successfully than I could, I
was not going to tell him so.

The Bursar supported me soundly, and we had a new don at the beginning
of my second year who took a most invigorating interest in the college.
He was known to us as "The Bradder," and though his real name was
Bradfield it was seldom used, and as far as we were concerned he could
have done quite well without it.  I had become so accustomed to aged
dons that I could not understand him at first, he was so very young.
He was also reported to be very clever, but I was so impressed by his
youthfulness that it took me some time to believe that he would ever
count for much.  I ought, however, to have known that The Bradder was
not the kind of man who would allow himself to become a nonentity, for
he was full of energy and determination.

I was never able to find out how the dons heard of my scheme, but they
find out most things by some extraordinary means, and The Bradder spoke
to me very encouragingly about it, though he looked at me as if I
amused him in some odd sort of way.  He also asked me to breakfast,
which I thought was carrying kindness a little too far.  I anticipated
the usual thing--a crowd of men with large appetites, and a host who
abstained from food in his efforts to provide conversation; but when I
went to The Bradder's rooms I found that I was in for a _tête-à-tête_,
and my opinion of the other kind of breakfast rose considerably.  As a
don I was not in the least nervous of him, but as a host I thought he
might be overwhelming.

That he ever lived through this meal without laughing was a marvel, for
when I was sitting opposite to him my nervousness vanished, and I told
him exactly what I thought about every subject he suggested, and it was
not until I had left him that it occurred to me that I had been talking
nearly all the time, and that he had said very little.  I determined
that he was a most thoroughly good sort, but the idea of his being a
don struck me as being absurd.  I put him on my side with the Warden
and the Bursar, and thought that Mr. Edwardes was in a hopeless
minority of one in persecuting me, for I looked upon the Subby as a man
who had been born to be neutral.  I do not suppose that I should ever
have started my first crusade if I had known that it was going to cause
the mildest of sensations.  As far as I had thought about it at all, I
had imagined that everybody in St. Cuthbert's would be glad to see the
college take its usual place again, and certainly I had no idea that I
should be violently supported and opposed.  The captains of everything
were in favour of less slackness, but Dennison and all his set said
that an Oxford college was not a public school, and talked a lot of
nonsense about the iniquity of compulsory games.  No further proof is
needed to show how unfair they were, for a man must be mad to dream of
compulsory games at Oxford, and such an idea never entered my head.
But all this talking made me wish that I had never said or done
anything, and before long I was heartily tired of the whole thing, for
my own affairs became rather more than I could manage.

At the beginning of the term I had moved into larger rooms, and I was
elected to both Vincent's and the St. Cuthbert's wine club.  Murray
advised me not to join the wine club, because I was an exhibitioner,
and the dons would be sure to fix their eyes steadfastly upon me if I
did.  But Jack Ward was very anxious for me to join, and every other
member, except Dennison, who was only elected when I was, spoke to me
about it.  So I became one of the twelve Mohocks, which only meant that
I could give a guest a good dinner three or four times a term, and
after that take him to the rooms of the club where there was a big
dessert, and old Rodoski, who was concealed in the bedder, unless some
one asked him to show himself, provided music.  When we had finished
with Rodoski we went out of college and played pool, and then we came
back and played cards.  There was not much harm about the whole thing,
and occasionally it was quite dull, but some of our dons had got hold
of the idea that a Mohock must be a rowdy and riotous person.  Mr.
Edwardes was one of them, and I found out very soon that he considered
that I ought not to have joined the club.  I did not, however, feel in
the least like resigning, for though there were one or two members who
took delight in nothing which was not an orgie, they were generally
suppressed before they made much noise.  A club of this kind depends a
good deal upon its President, and we had a man who thought far too much
of the reputation of the Mohocks to insult his guests by a common
pandemonium.

My position with Mr. Edwardes had become a critical one when I broke my
collar-bone playing against Richmond, and suddenly ceased to be a
culprit and became an invalid.  At the time I was very sick at my
footer ending so abruptly, but my accident was really a stroke of good
luck, for I feel certain that I should have been turned out of the
'Varsity fifteen anyhow.  An Irish international named Hogan had come
up who was, I thought, a really good full-back, and each time I was
asked to play for the 'Varsity I expected to be my last.  But as soon
as there was no chance of my playing against Cambridge I got no end of
sympathy, and nearly all the team told me that my absence weakened the
side, though previously some of them had said the same thing about my
presence.  My accident settled the question of who was to be the
'Varsity back quite conveniently; it also made me give up all thoughts
of my crusade, and gave me plenty of time to read.  I should not think
anybody's collar-bone has ever been broken at such an opportune moment.
Fred played against Cambridge, but our forwards were hopelessly beaten,
and no one distinguished himself for us except Hogan, who lost two
teeth and covered himself with glory.

At the end of the Lent term both Fred and I got seconds in Moderations;
mine was not a good second and Fred's was almost a first, so what would
have happened if Fred had been smashed up instead of me is not worth
inquiring, for there is no doubt that I did more work than he did.
Murray got a first, which was what everybody expected; he was one of
the few men I have ever seen who read logic because he liked it.

I cannot say that Mr. Edwardes was very pleased about my second, for he
had told me I should be lucky to get a third, and in my case I believe
he would rather have been a truthful prophet than a moderately
successful tutor.  When I asked him if I might read history for my
final examinations he was doubtful if I was not seeking a degree by the
least fatiguing way, but The Bradder was a history tutor, and although
I had found out that he was a very strenuous man, I meant to work with
him.  So after many warnings against idleness I was allowed to do as I
wanted, and Mr. Edwardes got rid of me, which must have pleased him
very much.  I do not think that any one else ever upset him so
completely as I did, and I have never been able to find out why he
disapproved of me to such an extent, unless it was that until I got
accustomed to him I thought him funny, and when I think anybody or
anything funny I have to laugh.  No one else laughed at Mr. Edwardes
except me, and I should not have done so if I could have helped it, but
an unintentionally comic don causes a lot of trouble.

Mr. Grace, the senior history don in St. Cuthbert's, was more like a
very benevolent parent than a tutor.  Perhaps he was rather old for his
work, but he was so extraordinarily peaceful that you could not help
liking him, and I had a vague feeling that he was my grandfather.  The
change from Mr. Edwardes to him was like going to bed in a choppy sea
and waking up in a punt on the Cherwell.  I can't explain the feeling I
had for him, but he seemed to be surrounded by a homely atmosphere, and
he reminded me of hot-water bottles and well-aired beds without making
me feel stuffy.  You worked for him because it struck you as being
hopelessly unfair to annoy him if you could help it.  He was a most
pleasant old gentleman, and a very convenient tutor to have in a summer
term.  The Bradder, however, to whom I had also to read essays, scoffed
when I told him that I had two years and a term before my examinations,
and generally speaking allowed me to see that he was going to stand no
nonsense.  If he had been less of a sportsman I should have thought him
more inconvenient, for I never found an excuse which he considered a
reasonable one, and after I had done two very short essays for him he
let me understand that I must do more work if I wanted him to be
pleasant.

"Look here, Marten, it won't do," he said to me when I had read my
second essay to him, which even surprised me by its early closing.
"This could not have taken you a quarter of an hour to write, and you
have read it in five minutes."

I had tried to lengthen my essay by stopping to discuss any point which
might make him talk, but he knew all about that time-worn device, and
had told me to finish reading before we discussed anything, and when I
had finished there did not seem much to discuss.

"It's the summer term, and I read very fast," I said, because he was
waiting for me to say something.

"Don't," he answered; "poor excuses are worse than none.  When I began
to read history, I wrote telegrams instead of essays, and I tried to
make my tutor talk so that he should fill up the time, just as you have
done.  But I found out in a month that history is not a joke, and that
my tutor was not a fool.  You have got to read seriously, whatever else
you may do; we may as well understand each other from the start."

I gathered up my essay slowly, for he had, as he spoke, scattered what
there was of it over the table.

"It would be better to use a note-book than any odd piece of paper that
happens to come your way," he said, and added, "if you are slack about
your work, you may end by being slack at other things."

"So you have been talking to Mr. Edwardes about me," I said, and I was
annoyed.

"Perhaps it would be truer to say that Mr. Edwardes has been talking to
me about you," he answered.  "You will probably like history very much
if you will only give yourself a chance; don't think a fourth is any
good to you--or me."

"I'm only just through Mods," I replied, "you do go at a fearful rate."

"You will have to be bustled until you get interested," he answered,
"and I will bustle you all right, you can trust me to do that."

I expect that The Bradder knew that I should not care about being
bustled by him, and the result of his conversation with me was that he
got a great deal of essay out of me with very little trouble to
himself, though I thought that he was mistaken in making me start at
such a furious pace, and I asked him, without any effect, if he had
ever heard of men being overtrained.

Although no one expected our eight to make any bumps, I think they
astonished everybody by going down four places, and as we were being
bumped by colleges which were generally in danger of being bottom of
the river, a wholesome feeling spread over most of us that as a joke
our rowing was nearly played out.  We began to talk about what we would
do next year, but Jack Ward was so disgusted with everything that he
suddenly determined that he had wasted nearly two years, and meant to
make up for lost time by doing everything with all his might.

I thought these terrific resolutions came from a row he had with
Dennison about cards, a disagreeable row in which Dennison said such
nasty things that had I been Jack, I should have picked him up and
dropped him out of the window; but by some extraordinary means Jack
kept his temper until he told him to shut up, and that ended the whole
thing, for Dennison knew when it was wise to be silent.  I did not
think much of Jack's resolutions, for he had been doing no work for
such a long time and with such perfect success, that a complete change
was more than I was able to grasp.  Every one in St. Cuthbert's was
supposed to read for honours in some school or other, and Jack, having
scrambled through pass "Mods," had for a year pretended to read law.  I
never saw him doing it, but he had a most effective way of fooling
dons, and, as far as his work was concerned, he never seemed to be
worried.  When, however, he came to me three weeks before the end of
the term, and told me he was going to give up law and read history, I
thought he was seeking trouble.

"You will have to work if you have anything to do with The Bradder," I
told him.

"For the last ten minutes I have been trying to make you understand
that I want to work," he answered, but still I did not believe him.

"All your law will be wasted," I said.

"I don't know any, so that's all right."

"But the dons won't let you change."

"I can manage them; the history people won't want me, but the law
people will be glad to get rid of me, I have sounded them already."

"You will end by reading theology," I said.

He gave a great laugh and said he didn't know where he should end, and
that all he wanted to do was to work.  But he spoke of working as if it
was a new sort of game, and I thought his desire to try it would vanish
as quickly as it had come, so I was surprised when he tackled The
Bradder, and persuaded him that history was the only subject in which
he could ever take a decent class.  Without the consent of anybody, he
stopped going to the lectures to which he was supposed to go, and came
to my rooms at all hours of the day to borrow books and read them.
Apparently he had become a kind of free-lance, having shaken off his
old tutors and not having got any new ones, but he read through a short
history of England three times in a week because he said he wanted a
good solid ground-work to build upon.  Perhaps The Bradder asked that
he might be left alone, for certainly no one bothered him and he
bothered nobody with the exception of me.  I admit that I found him a
very great nuisance, for I had been compelled to read during the last
two terms, and I had not been smitten with any enthusiasm for an
examination which was in the far distance.  In fact I wanted to slack,
and I did not see why Jack should choose my rooms to work in.  The mere
sight of him annoyed me; he took his coat off and turned up his
shirt-sleeves to read, and whenever I made the slightest noise he told
me to be quiet.  I impressed upon him most earnestly that he could go
anywhere he liked or didn't like, but he had settled upon me, and
nothing I did could make him go or lose his temper.  After a few days I
got quite accustomed to him, and I believe that I should have missed
him if he had not come to annoy me, but he showed no signs of
slackening off, and I was watching for them every day.

We were within a few days of the end of term before I believed that
Jack had any serious intentions of changing his manner of living, and
then he explained the whole thing to me.

"I have worked for a solid fortnight," he said to me, "and if I can go
on for a fortnight I can go on for two years.  I didn't want to explain
anything until I knew whether it was any good, for I have never worked
before in my life and I didn't know what it was like.  My father has
suddenly got very sick with me, and says I have got to read or go down
altogether; besides I am tired of doing nothing, and there are enough
slackers in the college without me.  We have got to pull this place
together somehow."  He threw himself into an arm-chair and picked up
_The Ordeal of Richard Feverel_.  "George Meredith," he said, "I tried
him once," and he shook his head.

"Try him again."

"I shan't have time, you are always coming out in unexpected places.  I
should have thought you would have liked a good sporting novel, I can't
understand Meredith."

"The Bradder told me to read this."

"The Bradder's an idiot; you be careful, or you'll write stuff which
the examiners won't trouble to read.  An examiner doesn't like any
other style except his own."

"How do you know?" I asked.

"I guess from the look of them, they must get so horribly tired; facts
are what I mean to give them, piles of dates and things like that.
Just let 'em know what I know at once and no rot about it."

"You have got to write essays, not answer questions like a
Sunday-school class," I said, and yawned.

"The Bradder will have to teach me all about essays, but I am going to
stick to plain English, no going round corners for me.  I mean to row
next year, and I am going to be coached in the vac; if I don't get into
the college eight next summer, I----"

"Aren't you going to do a lot?" I interrupted him by asking.

"I have always done a lot; hunting three times a week is a lot when you
play footer and cards as well.  We will read after dinner for three
hours."

I yawned again, for I had had very little fun for some time, and I felt
as if a little relaxation would do me good.  An Irish M.P. was coming
to speak during that evening about the advantages of Home Rule, and
although I thought Home Rule meant the disruption of the Empire and
many other things, I wanted to hear what this man had to say, and to
see if anything exciting happened.  The Bradder had told me that there
was a good deal to be said in favour of Home Rule, but I put him down
as a Radical and did not take any notice of him.  The first thing I can
ever remember about politics was my father saying that Radicals talked
nothing but nonsense, and that had remained with me and was mixed up
with the things which I most truly believed.  The Bradder, however,
made me think that Radicals were not bound to be hopeless persons.  I
don't know how he did it, but I think it was by telling me that I was
one at heart.  I never thought half so badly of them after that.

But if what I must apologize for calling my politics were rather wobbly
just then, ten thousand Bradders could not make me a Home Ruler, and
had I not known that other things happen at political meetings in
Oxford besides the ordinary programme, I might have been content to
stay in college and go on being dull and peaceable.  As it was I
thought that Jack and I had earned something in the way of excitement,
and after a good deal of persuasion he started with me, but when we got
to the meeting the place was packed with an audience which, from the
noise, seemed to consist largely of undergraduates singing "Rule
Britannia."  We talked eloquently to the men at the doors, without
getting past them.  One of them told me that they had already admitted
far too many of our kind, and then added that there was no room for
anybody else whatever kind he might be, so we went over to Bunny
Langham's rooms, which--for he was not living in college--were opposite
the hall in which the M.P. was speaking.  There were more than
half-a-dozen men in Bunny's rooms when we got to them, and I found out
that he had been scattering invitations broadcast during the afternoon.
A lot of other men came in soon afterwards, but nobody did anything
more extraordinary than sing out of tune until the meeting had
finished.  I was sitting by the window looking down on the people who
had been in the hall, and nearly everybody had gone out of St.
Aldgate's when Bunny came up to me and said he thought he should make a
short speech.  He went away and came back with a horn, which he blew so
lustily that in two or three minutes he had collected a small crowd in
front of the house.

"They are not enough," he said, and he blew on his horn until I should
think fifty or sixty people were standing in the street.  Then he put
his head out of the window and shouted, "Silence.  I will, if you will
permit me, say a few words to you on burning questions of the day."
The crowd was almost entirely made up of loafers from the town, and
they received him with loud cries of approval.

"Fellow-citizens of Oxford," he began, and was told at once to speak
up, and asked if his mother knew he was out and other ancient
questions, which interrupted but did not discourage him.

"Fellow-citizens of Oxford," he repeated, "who have assembled in your
thousands----"  His next words were drowned by a rude man, with a
blatant voice, telling him that he was a blooming liar.

"Fellow-citizens and burgesses of Oxford, who have assembled in your
thousands to hear--" Bunny began once more, but the rude man shouted
that he was not at a concert, and when he wanted to listen to the same
thing over and over again he was not too shy to say so.

"I shall have to ask you to remove that gentleman, he is mistaking me
for one of his unfortunate family," Bunny shouted back, and was told to
go on and not mind Tom Briggs.  It was not possible, however, for him
to make himself heard, and instead of continuing his speech he and Tom
Briggs talked to each other, until some one behind me threw a banana at
Tom and knocked his hat off.  At the same moment I saw the proctor and
his bull-dogs coming down the street, and in a minute we had turned out
all the lights in the room and gone up-stairs.  There we stayed until
we heard the proctor leave the house.

"That's a bit of luck," said Jack, as we sat down again.

"I can't make out what the deuce has happened," Bunny answered, "he
must have spotted the house."

"Perhaps he didn't want to catch us; after all we were not doing much,"
some man, whose experience of proctors must have been limited, said.

We got back to the room and heard a tremendous booing in the street,
for the crowd, deprived of their fun, were letting the proctor know
what they thought of him.

"That's splendid," Bunny said, "it's a real score if he doesn't send
for us in the morning.  If he does he will be sick to death with me,
I've been progged three times already this term.  Pull the curtains and
let's light up again."

"It's about time we went," Jack said; "has the crowd gone?"

I looked out of the window and told him there were only a few people
left in the street, but just as we were going there was a knock at the
door and a man came into the room.

"Halloa, Marsden," Bunny said; "I am afraid we have been making rather
a row in here, perhaps you put a towel round your head and went on
reading.  Didn't you tell me you tied cloths over your ears when you
wanted to be quiet?"

"It's not much of a joke having rooms in the same house with you,"
Marsden answered, and looked very solemn.

"Don't say that," Bunny answered.  "Have a drink, I'm generally as
quiet as a lamb."

Marsden sat on the table and refused to drink.

"It's no joke being in the same house with you," he said again, and
began to laugh.

"I'm not going to set fire to the place or blow it up," Bunny replied.

"But the house becomes infested with proctors."

"Did you see the 'proggins?'"

"He came into my room and progged both Carslake and me.  He said we
were disturbing the peace of the town."

"He didn't, did he?" Bunny exclaimed, and then went off into such fits
of laughter that for some time he could do nothing but cough and choke.

"He couldn't have chosen a funnier man.  A sneeze is about the biggest
row you have ever made in your life.  Didn't you tell him you had
nothing to do with the rag?" he asked at last.

"I left you to do that; he wouldn't listen to me, he seemed to be in a
hurry to get it over," Marsden said.

"Was he Carter of Queen's, or the other man?"

"Carter."

"I'll be at Queen's at nine o'clock to-morrow, so you and Carslake
needn't bother to go; Carter knows me.  I am awfully sorry he has been
shoving himself into your rooms; the worst of this place is, there is
no privacy, Carter just goes where he pleases," and Bunny rang the bell
and told his servant that he wanted a hansom in the morning at ten
minutes to nine.  There were only a few of us left in his rooms, but
every one said they would be at Queen's to meet him, though he told us
not to make fools of ourselves.  "I asked Carter the last time I went
to him to let me off a shilling because he had kept my cab waiting, and
he fined me double for impertinence.  I should think this would cost
about two pounds, and I've got about thirty sixpences up-stairs, he
shall have all those," he continued.  "I'll have some fun for my money,
so you fellows had better let me see it through by myself, I made the
speech and blew the horn," but as we had all been in the affair we
couldn't back out of it because we had been caught.

I walked as far as St. Cuthbert's with a New College man, who thought
we should have to pay more than two pounds.  "Carter will be so
precious sick at being hooted in the street, we shan't get off under a
fiver each," he said, and when I got back to college I went up to
Jack's rooms to wait and see what he thought we should have to pay.

I was nearly asleep when Jack came in.

"Phillips says we shall have to pay a fiver each, what do you think?" I
said, without turning round, and instead of answering me Jack went
straight into his bedder and seemed to be washing himself vigorously.

"What are you doing?" I shouted, but Jack went on washing, so I shut up
asking questions.

In a few minutes he came back into the room, and stood in front of me
with a candle held up in front of his face.  His lips were swollen, and
there was a great cut, which kept on bleeding, over his right eyebrow.

"I look nice, don't I?" he said.  "I've had a fight with a man who told
me that his name was Briggs."

By degrees I got the whole tale out of him, but it is no fun trying to
talk when a great coal-heaving man has hit you in the mouth with his
fist.  Jack had come home by himself, and as he was turning out of the
High by B.N.C. Tom Briggs, who had followed him all the way, charged
into him.  Then there was a little conversation, and Briggs called Jack
something especially horrid, and gave him a shove at the same time, so
Jack hit him on the nose.  After this there was a rough-and-tumble,
until that most inquisitive man Carter and his bull-dogs came up and
caught Jack.  What happened to Briggs he did not know.

"You mustn't tell Carter that you were at Bunny's," I said, after I had
blamed myself, until Jack was tired, for having persuaded him to start
to that wretched meeting.

"That's a trifle compared with this," he answered, and he was right.

There was a huge row, and it ended in Jack being sent down for the rest
of the term.  A man, who had been lurking about somewhere, said that he
saw Jack hit Briggs first, which was true as far as it went, but hard
luck on Jack all the same.

Bunny wanted to have a procession to the station when Jack went away,
but he absolutely refused to have any fuss whatever, and altogether
took his luck like a sportsman.

If I had only waited for him, or never bothered him to go out at all,
this would never have happened, and tired as I have often been of
myself, I do not think I have ever felt more utterly wretched than I
was during the last few days of that term when I, who ought really to
have been in Jack's place, was still in Oxford, and Jack was with his
very angry people.

I went to the Warden and told him that Jack would never have gone out
of college that night if it hadn't been for me, but all he said was
that the Proctor had taken a serious view of the case, and he would not
have anybody in the college brawling in the streets.  I also wrote to
Jack's people and told them that the whole thing was my fault, but his
father's answer was very short and disagreeable; he had entirely lost
his temper.

Dennison and his friends made the most of this misfortune, and I
suppose it was natural that they should think it a comical finish to
Jack's attempts at working.  For the rest of the term I did not care
what happened to anybody or anything.  I was thoroughly sick with my
luck, and when you are born with a faculty for disobeying rules and
offending authorities and have trampled upon your inclinations for a
long year without any result except disaster, it is enough to make you
think that fighting Nature is a perfectly absurd thing to do.  It was
very fortunate that the term was nearly over, for I had a mad idea that
the best way to make up to Jack for getting him sent down was to get
sent down myself; but The Bradder, who knew how foolish I could be,
nipped my demonstrations in the bud, and gave me some of the
straightest advice I have ever listened to.  He was very rude indeed.
One of the few good things about this term was that Fred batted
splendidly, he was not successful afterwards against Cambridge, but we
had every reason for thinking that they were an exceptionally strong
eleven.  I bowled faster than ever, and a little straighter than the
year before; I was said to be the fastest bowler at Oxford, and I heard
two men saying in Vincent's that their idea of bliss was my bowling on
a good wicket.  But when I lowered a newspaper and showed myself they
pretended that it was a joke.



CHAPTER XIX

THE WARDEN AND THE BRADDER

Of all penalties, sending a man down from the 'Varsity for a short time
seems to me the most unfair.  For some people treat the culprit as if
he was almost a criminal, while others are glad to see him and aren't
in the least annoyed.  Had I been sent down from Oxford I am sure my
father would have stormed and told me that I was going to that
universal rubbish-heap, called "The dogs," while my mother would have
been very hurt and very kind; but I know one man who went home
unexpectedly and was told by his father that if he had not been sent
down he would have missed the best "shoot" of the year.  In some cases
the penalty is nothing, and in other cases it is far too heavy.

From the little I knew of Jack's people I did not expect that they
would be as unpleasant as they were, for as far as I could see he had
not done anything which was much of a disgrace to anybody.
Unfortunately, however, he went home at an unlucky moment, for his
father was mixed up with the Stock Exchange, and there was a slump or
something equally disagreeable in the City.  Jack wrote to me: "I have
often seen my father in a bad temper, but I have never seen him keep it
up for so long before.  There is a large bear syndicate formed in the
City, and my father is a bull, and fumes like one.  I am very useful if
he would only see it, because he can work his rage off on me, and that
is a great relief to everybody else.  But it is no use thinking of what
is to happen next; he has told me that I am going to start to Canada in
a month, and Australia in a fortnight, but wherever I go I am to have
only £10 besides my passage-money--he does the thing thoroughly.  The
last scheme, announced at breakfast this morning, is that I am going to
Greece, to a quarry which has something to do with either marble or
cement; I didn't listen much, because I shall probably be booked for
Siberia before night.  Anywhere but back to Oxford is really his idea,
and the more often he changes the place the better.  Meanwhile I flaunt
history books before him.  I left _Taswell Langmead_ on the lawn,
because it is the fattest book I have got, and it looks so like one of
the Stock Exchange books that I knew he would look at it.  He did and
growled, but he put it back on the chair, which rather surprised me,
for I expected him to launch forth on the uselessness of me reading
such things.  If I sit tight for a bit and don't get ready to go
anywhere, perhaps I shall get back to Oxford after all."

I knew nothing about the Stock Exchange, but I sympathized very much
with any one who had to live in the same house with a fuming bull.
Even Fred agreed with me that Jack was being treated unfairly, and he
never spoke about him at all if he could help it.  When Jack and he had
met during the last year at Oxford, as they had often, they were so
astonishingly polite to each other that had I not known the reason I
should have been very amused, but as it was, I thought they were making
a great fuss about something quite unimportant.

To pretend not to notice a thing which is as clear as daylight is not a
part which I can play with any comfort, so Jack and Fred fidgeted me
terribly, but they had got some idea firmly fixed in their heads, with
which I was wise enough not to meddle.  They were both such friends of
mine that I hoped they would see as quickly as possible that there was
something very humorous in the way they treated each other.

Owen took a first in his final schools, and as soon as the list was out
he wrote to me and said that he hoped to come up for a fifth year to
read for a first in History.  This, I thought, was tempting Providence,
for he had already got two firsts, and he seemed to me to be collecting
them as I had once collected birds' eggs.  He decided, however, to give
up his plan, and accepted a mastership at a school in Scotland.  I must
say that I was relieved at this, for I intended to take two more years
before my examinations, and if he had got a first in one year I am sure
that I should have heard a very great deal about him, when my father
felt unwell or wished to make me feel uncomfortable.

I spent most of my second summer vac in France, partly because my
mother was not well, and also because an old scheme for improving my
French had been revived.  When Fred and I had gone to Oxford there had
been some idea of us trying for the Indian Civil Service, but for
various reasons this was abandoned, and although Fred had determined
that he would go back to Cliborough as a master if he could manage it,
I had drifted through two years without having made up my mind what was
to happen to me when I got my degree.  The Bishop wanted me to be a
clergyman, my mother thought that if Fred was going to be a
school-master there was no reason why I should not be one, and although
my father did not say anything he was not the man to see me finish my
time at Oxford and then sit down to wait for some employment to turn
up.  It was really no use for me to decide what I should do, for unless
I showed an especial craving for some profession I knew that he would
settle everything, and as I had two years before me I thought that
there was no particular hurry, which is, I suppose, the dangerous state
of mind of many undergraduates.

I did not understand that my father's wish for me to talk French was
part of any definite scheme, and for the life of me I cannot make out
why he settled upon my profession and told me nothing about it, but I
suppose that unless I ever become a parent there are some things which
will puzzle me all my life.

"One of the reasons the English are hated on the Continent is because
they can only speak their own language, and when they are not
understood they shout," he said to me, and I am afraid I did not care
much what the English were thought of on the Continent; at any rate I
did not see what I could do to make them more popular.  "I intend that
you shall at least be able to speak French properly," he went on; "you
are not going to stay with us at the hotel, but live with a French
family about three miles out of the town."

I detested the idea and had to submit to it, but I acknowledge that I
enjoyed my visit to France, though I was told that I spent too much
time at the hotel.  The fact was that my family lived three miles up
hill from the town, and on a bicycle I could reach the sea or my people
in a few minutes, but after I had bathed I had to think a lot before I
started back.  I was arrested twice, once for riding furiously and also
for not having my name on my bicycle, accidents which my father assured
me would never have happened had I been able to talk French fluently,
though it was absolutely impossible that I could under any
circumstances or in any language have talked as fluently as the
policeman who stopped me.  My French family were very nice to me, and
we got on splendidly together after they discovered that I did not mind
them laughing at my pronunciation.  After two months, during which I
had attacked the language vigorously, Nina came from Paris to join us.
I expected that she would find my accent amusing, but I made a mistake.
What my mother had once mentioned to me as her awkward age had been
lived through, and after a few days I began to wonder why I had ever
found it easy to be irritated with her.  If things go well I generally
have an attack of thinking them perfect, but all the same Nina and I
became better friends than we had been since I had left school, and we
were together so often that nothing but a promise to talk French to her
prevented my people from forbidding me to come near the hotel.

On Saturday afternoons, however, I stipulated that I should do and talk
what I pleased, but unless I went to the Casino there was not much to
do on my first holiday after Nina had arrived; so I persuaded her to
come to a concert, have tea on the terrace, and then watch the "petits
chevaux."  She was ready to do anything, but my mother detested any
kind of gambling, and begged me not to take her into the room in which
the tables were.  I could have imagined the time when to be told that
something was not good for her was the surest way to make Nina want it,
but now she said at once that she would much rather sit on the terrace
than stay in a room with a crowd of people, and after tea I left her
for a few minutes while I went for a walk through the rooms.  There was
a crowd round each table, and not being able to see anything I was
going back to Nina at once when I felt some one touch me on the arm.  I
turned round quickly for I suspected that my pocket was being picked,
though that would not have caused me any serious inconvenience, and
before I could remember what I ought not to say I had exclaimed "Good
Heavens," but if people will turn up in utterly unlikely places they
ought not to be too critical of the way in which they are greeted.  I
should as soon have expected to see Mr. Edwardes at a Covent Garden
Ball as the Warden in a French Casino, and I had an intense and
immediate desire to ask him what he was doing there.  I suppressed it,
however, and only shook him so violently by the hand that he winced
perceptibly.

"I have been guilty of watching your movements for the last four
minutes," he said, as we walked towards the door leading to the
terrace.  "I observed you as you entered this chamber of horrors, and I
was afraid that you were about to give an exhibition of your
generosity."

"Did you think I was going to play?" I asked.

"Yes, if that is the right expression for an act of madness.  There
are, if I have observed exactly, eight chances against you, and the
fool, for believe me he is a fool, who is fortunate enough to win is
paid seven times his stake.  The man who tries to make money in that
way must be generous and a fool."

"The bank must win to pay for the croupiers and keep the place going,"
I said.

"In my opinion there is no acute necessity for the place to be kept
going, as you express it.  I entertain a hope that if you have ever
taken part in that orgie, at which every one with the exception of the
croupiers looks greedy and hungry, that you will in the future abstain
from it.  Gambling is the meanest of all vices," he said slowly, and he
tapped my arm seven times.

He did not seem to be going anywhere in particular, and as I cannot
bear anybody tapping at me, I thought Nina might help to calm him.  So
I walked down the terrace and introduced her to him suddenly, for he
had a reputation for bolting from strange ladies, and I thought it best
to leave nothing to chance.  But as soon as he saw Nina the cloud
disappeared from his face, and his aggressively moral mood changed.  In
fact I distinctly heard him say "delightful," though I am sure that he
did not intend his remark to be audible.  He inspected Nina as if she
was for sale or on show, but he so clearly approved of her that she did
not seem to mind him.

"Won't you sit down?" she said.

"Only on one condition," he answered.

"What is it?"

"That you tell me the name of your dressmaker," but before Nina could
speak he had settled himself beside her, and continued: "You are not
only successful in being cool but also in looking cool; now I have ten
nieces, delightful girls, but they cannot take exercise without
rivalling the colour of a peony.  They look what I can only describe to
you as full-blown."

"But I have not been taking exercise," Nina said.

"That, I suppose, is true," he replied, and forgot promptly what he had
been talking about.

After a minute's silence his head began to sink forward, and I was
afraid he was beginning to think hard or go to sleep, so I told Nina
that it was time for us to go back to the hotel; for much as I liked
the Warden I had no wish to watch over him while he slept on the
Terrace of the Casino, and I thought that he might expect to find me
there when he woke up.  Nina held out her hand to wish him good-bye,
but he said that he was coming with us, and while we were walking to
the hotel I left him to her, for I was debating whether I had better
ask him to meet my father and mother or not.  I knew that he had
offended a great many people who had come to see him in Oxford about
their sons, and he was reported to have said that the greatest
difficulty in dealing with undergraduates was the parent difficulty.
"If I was dictator of Oxford it should be a city of refuge for young
men, and no father or mother should be allowed to enter it during
twenty-four weeks of the year," was one of the things he was supposed
to have said, and if my father happened to get him upon that subject I
foresaw trouble.

But the question settled itself, for my mother was sitting on the
verandah in front of the hotel and came down the garden to meet us.  I
had heard the Warden chuckle three times as we had walked up the road,
and though I could not imagine how Nina was amusing him, I thanked
goodness that he seemed to be thinking about ordinary things.

"I have the pleasure of knowing your brother," he said as soon as he
was introduced; "he and I disagree upon every subject I have ever had
the privilege of discussing with him."

"I do not think my brother would ever discuss a subject with any one
whom he expected to agree with.  It would be hardly worth while," my
mother answered, and the Warden looked at her quickly.

"Surely the benefit arising from a discussion does not depend wholly,
or I may say chiefly, from disagreement upon the subject discussed.  A
Cabinet Council, for instance, may conceivably arrive at a satisfactory
and at the same time an unanimous conclusion."

"My brother would not call that a discussion," my mother answered
shortly, and the Warden said "Ah," which meant, I believe, that however
the Bishop defined the word discussion, it was useless to discuss
anything with ladies.

"You will have some tea?" my mother said, as soon as we had reached the
verandah.

"You will excuse me, my absence from the hotel at which I have taken a
room for to-night, has already been too prolonged.  You drink tea in
France, madam?"

"We brought our tea with us."

"Admirable foresight, but it remains for you to see the water boiling,"
and then as if he knew that he had hurt my mother's feelings and wished
to make some recompense, he continued, "The Bishop, madam, is a man for
whom I have a most sympathetic regard, neither politics nor pageants
divert him from the work he has pledged himself to do; I know of no man
more fitted to be a Bishop."

My mother bowed slightly, and said nothing, and really it was not easy
to guess from the Warden's tone whether he considered any man fit to be
a Bishop.

"We think differently on many subjects, and on one, I may say, I think
with perfect truth, we have differed so widely that a little less
self-restraint on the one side or on the other would have brought us to
the verge of a very vulgar quarrel.  The Bishop preaches what is called
Humanity, he practises Humanity, he would have a manufactory--which he
would manage on a profit-sharing system--for Humanity pills, and make
every young man in Oxford swallow two of them every morning.  But there
is another meaning to the word Humanity which has been lost sight of in
this age of upheaval, it is 'classical learning.'  Oxford has a duty to
perform; it has something to teach in addition to the development of
kindly feelings which must be taught at the mother's knee, and grow
naturally if they are ever to be effective.  We are attacked at Oxford
by many kinds of outside influence, and you know enough of young men,
madam, to realize that there is no influence which appeals to them so
strongly as that which is outside, what I must call, constituted
authority.  The Bishop, in short, if I judge him with accuracy, thinks
that Oxford is the finest playground for the East-end of London which
can be imagined by the wit of man.  On this point I disagree with him
entirely, not from any dislike to the people of the East-end, but from
a profound conviction that young men in Oxford, if they are to do their
work with success, have already more than enough to occupy their minds."

He leaned forward in his chair and looked hard at me; he did not
apparently expect any answer to his oration, but he had touched on a
subject which was near my mother's heart, and I felt so uneasy that I
moved from my seat and leaned against one of the posts of the verandah.

"Don't you exaggerate what my brother wants?" my mother asked.  "He
knows too well the value of time to wish to waste that of anybody, and
he loves Oxford."

"Too well," the Warden jerked out, as if he was an automatic
arrangement and some one had touched a spring.

"I don't think any one could love Oxford too well, and I should be
sorry if Godfrey did not learn something from his life there which
could help him to sympathize with other people."

I knew that I was bound to be pulled in sooner or later, and I thought
of disappearing behind my post and of leaving the Warden to say what he
liked.

"The sympathies of your son are already as wide as those of a Charity
Organization Society, and, I venture to say, as misdirected," the
Warden returned, and seemed to have forgotten that I was standing in
front of him, but if he was going to say things about me I decided to
stay and hear them.  "I find him the most pleasant companion, he has
the gift of silence--Meredith wrote--'Who cannot talk!--but who
can?'--he is also amusing, always unconsciously.  I have great hopes
that he may become a man who will not waste his youth in vain struggles
with a ball.  Had I the power I would banish all balls from England for
one short year, the experiment would be entertaining."

"It would result in a national dyspepsia," my mother said, laughing.

"Godfrey would play catch with an orange," Nina remarked.

The Warden looked up and saw me.  "An orange bursts," he said.  "I must
return to my hotel.  Would you find me a conveyance, one with a
coachman as unlike a furious driver as possible?" he asked, and as Nina
came with me he was left alone with my mother.  I don't know what he
said during those few minutes, but when we got back I found my mother
smiling placidly, though when I had gone away I was certain that she
disapproved of the Warden most thoroughly.

"The Warden wishes you to dine with him to-night," she said to me, and
without waiting for me to reply she went on to say how sorry my father
would be to miss him.  The Warden began to express regrets at my
father's absence, but forgot what he was talking about in the middle of
his sentence, and finished up by telling the driver to go very slowly.
As he stepped into the vehicle I had found for him, he expressed a
fervent hope that it was more robust than it appeared to be.

"What a funny old man!" Nina exclaimed as soon as he had gone, "and
what nonsense he talks.  He is a dear, but he does look odd!"

"He looks like a gentleman, and is one," my mother replied.

"You didn't like him at first," I said to her.

"I thought he spoke slightingly of your uncle and that he meant all he
said, which of course was stupid of me.  He was delightful after you
had gone, and talked most kindly and sensibly about you, I wish your
father could have heard him."

But my father had gone to Rouen and was not coming back until ten
o'clock, and I am not sure that he would have liked the Warden, so
perhaps it was as well that they did not meet.

My dinner was wearisome, for Miss Davenport, the Warden's sister, was
with him, and she talked while I listened.  I am sorry to say she was
in a very bad temper, and it seemed that the naughty Warden had kept
her waiting for two hours during the afternoon.  She was by no means in
love with France, and though I tried to soothe her I only succeeded in
making her sarcastic; I thought the Warden ought to have protected me,
but he had known his sister longer than I had, and probably had
forgotten that she could make any one suffer.  He took no part in the
conversation, and most obviously did not listen to it.  My mother was
disappointed when I told her about the dinner, but I think that she had
expected the Warden to give me advice as well as a meal.  She had
formed the highest opinion of him, and said that he was so wise that he
was the only man she knew who could afford to say foolish things.  But
when my father heard that the foolish things were said about the Bishop
he did not believe in the folly of them, for he could not forget that
my uncle had once played stump cricket for three hours at a stretch.

When the time came for us to go back to England I could talk French
without putting in one or two English words to fill up every sentence,
but I did not think that Dover Station was the place in which to be
told that I must not be satisfied until I could think in French--though
what the station at Dover is the proper place for, I leave to people
who are cleverer than I am.  I was so glad to get home again that the
idea of thinking in French was quite comical.  My father and I were
going to shoot together, and when he is shooting he forgets all the
little grievances with which he has riddled his life and he is--though
it makes me blush to confess it--the best companion in the world.  If
he could only shoot all the year round I believe that Ritualists and
Radicals would lose their powers of annoying him, and he might even end
by admitting that our long-suffering cook makes curry which is fit to
eat, and no more generous admission than that could be expected from an
Anglo-Indian.

For nearly three weeks we lived in a state of peace and contentment
which none of us thought dull, but during the first week of October I
had a letter from The Bradder in which he said that he was on a walking
tour and should be passing near our house.  There was only one answer
for me to give, but I gave it reluctantly, for though I liked him I
thought that if he and my father once started upon politics our calm
season would be interrupted abruptly.

"Does he shoot?" my father asked, and I said that as he was walking for
amusement he would probably only stay a few hours.  "We can't treat him
like that; tell him to stay a week and send for his gun.  For the
matter of that he can have one of mine.  I don't expect he will be able
to hit a haystack," was his reply.

So I wrote again, and to my surprise The Bradder accepted the
invitation and appeared a few days afterwards with no marks of the
tourist upon him; for there is no mistaking people who are on walking
tours, their anxiety to get on stamps itself upon their faces, and
their luggage is generally on their backs or in their pockets.  He told
us that his companion had broken down three days before, and that he
had been back to Oxford to get his gun.  I never remember having seen
anybody who looked quite so fit as he did, and my father, who had a
kind of general impression that every tutor in Oxford was anaemic,
seemed to be thoroughly pleased with him.  Thus I was lulled into a
false state of security, for I had intended to warn The Bradder not to
speak of politics while he was with us, but as every one took a fancy
to him at sight I thought that I need not trouble to say anything.

There was a lot of speculation about The Bradder's shooting, he shot
whenever he got the ghost of a chance, but he added more to the noise
than to the number of the bag.  He tried to persuade my father before
he started that he was the worst shot in the world, but he was not
believed until he had proved that he had spoken the truth.  He was,
however, much happier in a bad than in a good place, and he seemed to
be perfectly pleased as long as he could see an occasional bird to
shoot at.  My father said that he was a good sportsman, though had he
not liked him he would have called him a rank bad shot.

Two days passed by successfully, and then The Bradder discovered that
there was an old abbey near us, and arranged with Nina to go over and
see it.  Why in the world any one should want to see an abbey when he
could shoot at pheasants, was more than my father could understand.

"The abbey will be here the next time you come, let it wait," he said
at breakfast.

"I should like to see it," The Bradder replied; "besides, I never kill
anything."

"You needn't bother about that."

"I have promised Miss Marten to go, she said she would drive me over,"
he replied, and any one could see that he didn't mean to shoot.

"As you like," my father said, and told me to be ready in ten minutes,
though we were not going to start for an hour.

On the top of this we had a very disappointing day, and finished up by
getting wet through, so at dinner there were many more danger signals
flying than were usual in the shooting season.  The Bradder, however,
did not notice them, or if he did he thought them ridiculous, and he
amused my mother and Nina very much, which under the circumstances was
a grievous offence.  I found myself in the position of trying to catch
my tutor's eye, so that I could warn him to be careful with my father,
and although I realized the comedy of the position I did not appreciate
it.  To make matters worse The Bradder would not drink any port, and as
it was a wine of which my father was proud, he had to say that he never
drank any wine at all before his refusal was accepted.  Teetotalism in
the abstract was a thing which I was encouraged to believe in, but
teetotalers, who did not know when to make an exception to general
rules, were not approved of at our table when '63 port was before them.
Everything seemed to be going most hopelessly wrong, and I was so
anxious to get into the drawing-room that I made several exceedingly
fatuous remarks.

"You talk like a Radical," my father said in answer to one of them;
"you want this changed and that changed, you had better go up to Hyde
Park and take a tub with you, if you want to talk nonsense."

"I probably shouldn't get two people to listen to me," I replied.

"Strahan told me yesterday," he went on, "that they are teaching a lot
of this Radical tomfoolery in Oxford now; he says his son has come home
stuffed with it, thinks agricultural labourers are underpaid and all
the rest.  Is it true, Bradfield?"

"I should not say that the feeling at Oxford is as out-and-out Tory as
it was, but the young Radical is often a very ridiculous man," The
Bradder replied, and took a pear off the dish in front of him and began
to peel it.

"Always," my father said.

"Not always; he may conceivably be very sane indeed."

"Never."

The Bradder was quite willing to let the subject drop, but his pear was
a mistake and prevented me from suggesting that we should go.

"You sympathize with this Radical feeling?" my father asked him.

"To some extent I share it."

"I can't believe it, I really can't--why, the Radicals want to ruin the
army, spend no money on the navy, make magistrates of Tom, Dick, and
Harry, and top everything by letting Ireland do what it likes.  They
are a dangerous crew."

"I am not a Home-Ruler, though every one must admit that our way of
managing Ireland up to the present has not been fortunate."

"But you wouldn't try experiments with a volcano?"

"I would try any experiment with Ireland which it wants, and which I
did not think dangerous," The Bradder said, and he seemed to be wholly
occupied in trying to say as little as possible without appearing to be
ashamed or afraid of his opinions.

"So you are a Radical, but not a Home-Ruler.  Well, from the look of
you, I should never have thought it.  You can go if you like, Godfrey;
I should be glad to talk to Mr. Bradfield for a few minutes; he is the
first Radical I have ever liked," and he smiled at The Bradder,
anticipating triumph.

I did not go, and I am glad that I stayed, for both of them had to
fight hard to keep their tempers, and their struggles fascinated me.
From the beginning The Bradder made up his mind to treat the duel
lightly, but my father pressed him hard, and occasionally provoked a
retort which flashed.  For more than an hour they talked, and indignant
servants, showing heads of expostulation, had to go away unnoticed.
But The Bradder met explosions with what my father called afterwards
rank obstinacy, and the man who explodes is naturally angry if he
cannot get some one to explode back at him.

"The Warden, from what I have heard of him, would not approve of your
opinions," my father said at last.

"He does not meddle with our politics," The Bradder answered.

"He's a wise man," my father returned, and The Bradder laughed.

"The Warden talks about politicians as if they were an army of
tuft-hunters, hunting for tufts which they will never find.  He refuses
to speak seriously about politics."

"The habit of being amused at our failures or cynical about them is
becoming too common."

I could not help smiling at the quickness with which the Warden had
been toppled off his seat of wisdom, and my father pushed his chair
back impatiently.

"The Warden is, I believe, a strong Tory, and reserves his contempt for
what he calls 'modern politicians.'"

"I said he was a wise man," my father replied, and the Warden was
reinstated.

"He is certainly," The Bradder answered, as we went into the
drawing-room.

During the next day I heard from Nina that The Bradder had been
denounced as a very dangerous man, all the more dangerous because he
was so attractive.

"Father wants him to go," she said.

"He will have to go soon, because term begins in a few days," I
answered.

"But why shouldn't a man be a Liberal if he wants to be?  We are about
a hundred years behind the times down here."

"And had better stay there if we want peace," I added.

"Are you a Liberal?"

"Goodness knows."

"I like a man who knows what he is."

"You mean you like The Bradder; why not say so?"

"Because I meant nothing of the kind.  We are going to walk over to
Chipping Norbury, if you will come with us."

"I can't.  I have promised to call on Mrs. Faulkner, who won't see me."

"Mrs. Faulkner has been rude to mother, and has behaved very
foolishly," Nina said, in a way which she considered impressive and I
thought humorous.

So The Bradder and Nina went to Chipping Norbury without me, and he
stayed for three more days, by which time even my father did not want
him to go, though he talked to my mother about him as one of those
misguided young men who want England to stand on its head just to see
what it would look like.

I found out afterwards that The Bradder described my father to some one
as a mixture of cayenne pepper and kindness, and, since there was no
harm in it, I passed it on.

"I won't have people making up these things about me," he said, but he
chuckled, and I am sure he liked the cayenne pepper part of the mixture.



CHAPTER XX

THE HEDONISTS

Fred Foster's people came back from India during the summer, and he
spent all the vac with them, though I tried to make him come to us for
the shooting.  He had, however, got an idea that Nina did not want him,
and nothing I could do was successful in removing it.  I told him that
Nina had been greatly improved by Paris; I did not like the expression,
but I did not see why he should think it ridiculous.  Still, if he
meant to be obstinate it was no use wasting time in writing letters at
which he gibed, so I left him alone.

Jack Ward managed to appease his father, and having done it he set out
on a campaign which for thoroughness beat anything I have ever
discovered.  He went off at the end of July to stay with a tutor who
coached him in history and rowing, and he stayed with him until the
Oxford term began.  The tutor was a rowing blue who did not, from
Jack's account of him, mind how little work his pupils did as long as
they were ready to go on the river, but Jack assured me that he had
read for four or five hours every day.  To start with a history coach
two years before his schools struck me as being magnificent, but Jack
would not hear a word against his way of spending the vac.

"He may not know much history," he said to me when we got back to
Oxford, "but he's a rare good sort, and he says I'm a natural oar.
Besides, he's a sportsman."

"What's that?" I asked, for I used the word "sportsman" to mean so many
things.

"He doesn't bother people; you can play cards if you like, and he has a
billiard table.  He is a nailer at cork pool."

"Is he?" I said, and asked no more about him, for I have a horror of
nailers at any sort of pool, having once been hopelessly fleeced by
some of them.

"I won a pot," Jack went on gaily, "in the scratch fours at Wallhead
regatta--I rowed in two regattas.  Not so bad; and now I've got to go
down to the river every day and be coached by men who don't know the
difference between an oar and a barge pole.  Well, it's all part of the
game."

"What's the game?" I asked.

"Look here, Godfrey, something's happened to you.  You've gone stupid;
it's _your_ game.  To buck St. Cuthbert's up, get rid of these
confounded slackers, squash them flat, and we are going to do it, you
see if we don't.  Dennison was drunk last night or pretended to be, and
he and his gang invaded a lot of freshers and then asked them all to
breakfast.  That crowd are no more use to a college than a headache.
Fancy coming to Oxford to be ragged by Dennison!"

"It does seem rather futile."

"Futile!" Jack exclaimed scornfully, and then proceeded to say what he
called it; "but if you have given up caring what happens I shall chuck
up the whole thing," he concluded.

"I have not given up caring, but I have tried once and got laughed at
for my trouble.  I don't believe you can squash men like Dennison when
they once get into a college; they are like black beetles, and you
can't get rid of them unless you kill them."

"We can try," Jack said.

"I tried, and most men thought me a fool.  The only thing to do is to
leave them alone; but the worst of it is that we can't help meeting
Dennison at dinners and things.  He smiled on me the other day as if I
was his best friend."

"He didn't smile at me."

"I think he hates you; I can't get properly hated, when I try to show
Dennison I loathe him he smiles.  There's something wrong with me
somewhere."

"You are too rottenly good-natured."

"I never thought of that," I said.

"That's it," Jack declared; "I saw Lambert hitting you on the back in
the quad this morning."

"I told him that if he did it again I should throw Stubbs' Charters at
his head," I replied in self-defence.

"But, don't you see, Lambert would never hit me on the back.  He is one
of the most gorgeous slopers we have got, and twangs his banjo for
Dennison to sing what they call erotic ballads.  You've not got enough
dignity."

"Steady on," I said, for with too much of one thing and not enough of
another I was beginning to think that it was about time for him to
discover something of which I had the proper amount.

"Don't get angry," he returned, "I only meant to explain why your shot
to buck the college up failed.  You're too popular, that's it."

I spoke plainly to him.

"It's no use talking like that," he went on; "say you'll help me, and
we'll have a go at squashing this ragging lot.  It wouldn't matter so
much if they could do anything decently, but they are the very men who
ought to go and bury themselves because they won't try to do anything.
Let us do something first and then have a good wholesome rag, but for
heaven's sake let us shut up until we have done it."

Jack had only just left my rooms when, as if to prove what he had said,
Lambert strolled in and asked me if I would let him have lunch with me.
My table-cloth was laid and I couldn't tell him that I was lunching
out, so I told him that Murray was coming.  He replied that he liked
Murray, and since that had failed I said that I was going to play
footer and had very little time, but he answered that he would not be
able to stay for more than half-an-hour.  Meals with Lambert were apt
to get less simple as they went on, for he had a habit of saying that
he wanted nothing and then of demanding port with his cheese and
liqueurs to save him from indigestion, but I could not get rid of him,
so apart from making up my mind that his luncheon should be as short as
possible, I left him alone.

He read the paper for a few minutes and then asked me if I did not like
his waistcoat.  It looked to me like some new kind of puzzle, so I
asked him if he had the answer in his pocket, but he was looking at it
thoughtfully and did not answer.

"Nice shade, isn't it?" he said presently.

I thought that there was more glare than shade about it and told him so.

"It's unique," he declared, and at last I was able to agree with him.

"Have you called on that man Thornton?" he asked, and stood up so that
he could see his waistcoat and himself in the glass.

"I never call on anybody.  I have had a lot of freshers to meals, but I
don't know Thornton; he is supposed to be cracked, isn't he?"

"Of course he is.  We've got a splendid rag on.  I thought of it, and
Dennison is going to work it out.  Do you think this coat fits properly
in the back?  I met Collier this morning and he swore it didn't."

"What's the rag?" I asked.

Clarkson came in with a message from Murray to say that he could not
come to luncheon.

"That's a good job," Lambert remarked.

"I thought you liked Murray," I answered.

"He would not have cared about our rag.  I don't suppose Collier knows
when a coat fits, he's so fat that a petticoat would suit him better
than a pair of trousers."

"Here's lunch," I said, and as soon as I had got him away from the spot
where he could examine his clothes, I asked again what was going to
happen.

"Thornton is absolutely green, Dennison will be able to do exactly what
he likes with him."

"Poor brute."

"I can never make out why you pretend to hate Dennison, he wouldn't
mind being friends with you; besides, it makes things very disagreeable
for me."

"I don't pretend anything," I said.

"At any rate it's very stupid of you; you are both Mohocks, and ought
to be friends."

I thought he had come on a peace mission, so, to prevent waste of time,
I said what I thought of Dennison.

"You make a mistake about him altogether," he said.  "Got any port?"

"You'll get as fat as Collier if you aren't careful, and it wouldn't
suit you a bit," I replied, and stayed in my chair.

"Port doesn't make people fat," but he spoke doubtfully.

"You know best, but I should advise you to be careful.  What's the rag?"

He shot his cuffs down and stroked his upper lip, as he always did when
he was going to say anything which he thought interesting.

"Dennison is getting it up, which means that it will be jolly well
done.  He has found out that Thornton knows nothing, so he is teaching
him a lot.  To begin with, he has invented a society called 'The
Hedonists,' which is supposed to get pleasure out of anything
extraordinary, and he has filled up Thornton with the idea that he is
the very man to be President if we can get him elected."

"Does he believe all that?"

"He believes it all right; Dennison is splendid at that sort of thing.
But we must make some opposition, or Thornton might think it was too
easy a job, so we are getting Webb to stand against Thornton, and
Dennison and I want you to propose him.  We thought it would be a
chance to show that you didn't mean all that rot you talked about us
last year."

"I meant every word of it," I replied, but Lambert shook his head.

"Really you didn't," he said.  "Dennison declares that you hate smugs
and prigs and the sort of men who wear red ties and baggy trousers.
Besides, you have fair rows with the dons yourself.  You are made to
enjoy yourself; that's all about it, and it is time some benefactor
told you so."

"I shan't have anything to do with this rag; it seems to be playing a
pretty low-down game on a fresher, and if I can stop it I shall.  Tell
Dennison that from me," I replied.

Lambert got up and put his fingers into the pockets of his waistcoat.
"Don't be a fool, Marten," he said sadly, "if you had thought of this
yourself you would have been delighted with the idea; it's so funny."

"Ask Jack Ward to help you."

"Ward!  Between ourselves Dennison and I think that Ward is rather a
bounder."

"I'll tell him; he will be glad to hear it."

"You make me ill; can't you see that this is too good to miss?"

"You'd better leave this wretched lunatic alone; but if you stand there
talking until you spoil the pockets of your waistcoat I shan't help
you."

He took his fingers from his pockets and rearranged his tie.  "You
disappoint me greatly," he said, and strode out of the room.

Our footer match that afternoon was against Oriel, who play soccer
better than rugger, so we beat them without much trouble.  Fred didn't
play for them, because the captain of the 'Varsity team objected to his
team playing in college matches, but he watched the game and came back
to tea with me afterwards.  I wanted to give him a cheque for the fifty
pounds I still owed him, for I had just got my year's allowance, and I
thought I ought to pay him.  But he would not listen to what I said,
and only tore up my cheque when I gave it to him.  "It's no use," he
said, "you will only be short at the end of the year."

That, I knew, was the truth, for economy was a thing which evaded me,
however zealously I pursued it.

"But I hate owing you money," I said, "and by the end of the year
something may have happened."

He only laughed, and told me that if I couldn't borrow money, which he
did not want, from him, I must be a fool, and before I could say any
more Jack Ward appeared.  Fred and he did not seem to be very pleased
to see each other again, and since they always got on my nerves I went
into my bedder to finish dressing.

"Been staying with Godfrey this vac?" I heard Jack ask.

"No; have you?" Fred answered.

"Rather not," Jack said; "I've had no time to stay with anybody.  I'm
trying to become a decent oar, and reading history--it simply takes all
the time I've got.  I rowed a bit at school, but have never touched an
oar for two years until last July."

"It's rather a grind, isn't it?" Fred said; but from that moment he
seemed to change his opinion of Jack, and if I could be a fool about
some things I feel quite certain that Fred had been bothering his head
about nothing for a very long time, which was not very sensible of him.
I don't believe that Jack ever understood why Fred disliked him, and
after he had pulled Nina out of the river the second time, I think he
began to regard her solely as a safe and easy way to a Humane Society's
medal.  If Fred would only have believed that there are some things
which cannot stand repetition, I should have been saved a lot of
trouble.

When I went back to my sitter I found that the blight which had always
settled upon them when they were together was disappearing quickly.
They were talking quite amiably, and although I should have been glad
to have said something to show that I noticed the change, I expect that
it was prudent of me to be silent.  For the first time, as far as I
could remember, we met without wondering how soon we could separate,
and I had the sort of feeling which I should think a great-grandfather
must have when he is celebrating his ninetieth birthday in the presence
of his not too numerous descendants.  I just sat and felt placid for
some time, until I woke up and told Fred that we were supposed to have
a mad fresher in college.

"You are always getting hold of freaks," he answered, and I asked him
what he meant.

"You've got about half-a-dozen men here whose names look as if they
have been turned hind-before; St. Cuthbert's has always been a home for
a peculiar brand of potentate."

"Potentate!" I said scornfully; "besides, colour is not everything."

"Prince, if you like."  But I knew that he was trying to draw me on, so
I said nothing.  To hear me in defence of my own college was, I am
sorry to say, a great pleasure to him.

"Do you know how this report of Thornton being mad began?" Jack asked.
"I'm rather keen on this, and believe it can be made into a much better
rag than Lambert and Dennison think.  It may be a chance to squash them
altogether."

"Lambert has been trying to persuade me to help," I said.  "I told him
I would have nothing to do with his blessed rag."

"The best of the whole thing is that I don't believe Thornton is a
lunatic.  Collier says he isn't, and both Learoyd and Murray say he's
not mad, but awfully clever or a humorist."

"Murray!" I exclaimed, but Jack was losing the power to astonish me
very much.

"He's all right, I met him in Learoyd's room," Jack said, and began to
laugh.

"So Thornton isn't mad after all, and you needn't talk about freaks," I
told Fred.

"Do you mind hearing about this?" Jack asked him; "it will be splendid
if it only comes off.  It's like this: Lambert and Dennison are always
looking out for freaks"--I wished he would not give Fred such chances
to grin at me--"and Thornton's hair sticks up on end, and he never
seems to know what he is going to do next.  Murray told me that he is
like a very good pianist he met once, except that he can't play the
piano.  At any rate he's odd, and that was the reason why Dennison
asked him to lunch.  And Lambert, do you know him?"

Fred shook his head.

"He is the kind of man who is built for processions and platforms and
Lord Mayors' Shows," Jack explained; "he's gorgeous altogether."

"I saw him at your smoker," Fred said.

"He's one of the sights of the place, and he began to talk to Thornton
about champagne."

"He always talks about clothes or wine," I put in.

"Thornton pretended--at least, I'll bet he pretended--to know nothing
about champagne.  So Lambert told him the best brand was Omar Khayyam
of '78, and that by a stroke of luck it could still be got at a place
in the High.  They thought Thornton swallowed that all right, so
Dennison told him that if he couldn't get Omar Khayyam he must get some
Rosbach of '82.  After that they asked what sort of fly he used for
quail; of course the man must have been simply too sick of them to say
anything."

"Lambert never told me anything about the champagne," I said.

"I expect that was because he and Dennison nearly had a row about it;
he swore that he thought about Omar Khayyam, and Dennison swore that he
did--a rotten sort of thing to quarrel about, anyway.  I never heard of
the man until yesterday.  I've often heard of Rosbach," he added.

"What's going to happen now?" Fred asked, and from some cause or other
he was shaking with laughter.

Jack told him about the Hedonists, and finished up by saying that he
must go to see Thornton.

"What's the good of that?" I asked.

"I want to see if he isn't having a huge joke all to himself; if he is
we may as well help him with it."

As soon as Fred had gone away Jack persuaded me to go with him and call
on Thornton.  He had got hold of a scheme which Murray and Learoyd had
started, and as its object seemed to be to score off Dennison I was not
going to be out of it.  We found Thornton sitting in an arm-chair with
his feet on the mantelpiece, and Jack seeing that he was alone sported
the oak so that we could not be interrupted.

"I should think," Thornton said, as he pushed his chair back, "that I
must have had over thirty men in here to-day.  There were seventeen
before twelve o'clock.  I am thinking of putting a visitors' book in
the passage, so that they can write their names and go away.  Are you
going to back me up to-morrow night?" he asked Jack.

"They have persuaded you to stand?"

"Dennison says it would be such a bad thing for the college if this man
Webb got in.  Of course it is a great honour for a fresher, but I am
used to speaking; we have a debating society at home."  He spoke as if
the whole thing was not in the least important, and ran his fingers
through his hair until it stood straight up on end.  It was the sort of
hair which looked like stubble.

Jack was so discouraged that he did not know what to say, so I asked
Thornton if he expected to be elected.

"There doesn't seem to be any doubt about that; there are only about
thirty members, and quite half of them have promised to support me.
Webb of course is better known, but in some cases it does no harm to
keep oneself in the background until the last moment.  Then I shall
speak."  He seemed to think that his speech would settle everything
completely.

I wandered round the room waiting for Jack to bring forward his scheme
if he could remember it, but he was sitting on the table sucking at a
pipe which had no tobacco in it, so I drifted over to a book-case, and
nearly the first book I saw was an edition of _Omar Khayyam_.  This
surprised me so much that I turned round to see if Thornton really
looked like a lunatic, but I got no satisfaction from him, for I had
once seen a man who might have been his brother, and then I had been
playing cricket against an asylum.  He was lying back in his chair
gazing at the ceiling, and I pulled _Omar Khayyam_ out of the case and
put it on the table for Jack to see.  Then I sat down and waited for
results, but I had to make no end of signs before he would take any
notice of the book, for he was in such a state of despondency that I
believe he thought I was trying to talk on my fingers.  At last his eye
fell on the book, and after I had nodded furiously at him, he jumped
off the table and stood in front of Thornton.

"You read _Omar Khayyam_?" he said, holding the book in his hand.

Thornton stopped staring at the ceiling and sat forward with his elbows
resting on his knees.  "Yes," he answered; "at least, I used to until I
knew it by heart."

"He's a good brand of champagne," Jack went on.

"Are you a friend of Dennison's?" Thornton asked, and there was a kind
of hunted look in his eyes.

"I'm not," I hastened to tell him, and at that moment I looked at my
watch and discovered that I had already kept The Bradder waiting for
ten minutes, so I had to go just as things were becoming interesting.

Jack assured me afterwards that Thornton was not mad.  "But," he added,
"he's very odd, and I believe he's in a mortal terror that, unless he
goes on pretending to be a fool, these men will do something much worse
to him than make him president of a society which doesn't exist.  So
I've put Murray to speak to him; this will be the talk of the 'Varsity,
and I don't see what good there is in keeping prize idiots.  I have
told him to go on playing up to Dennison for a bit, and then we would
help him."

I did not think, however, that it would be very easy to save Thornton,
and when Collier and I went to the meeting of the Hedonists on the
following evening we agreed that whether he was mad or only very
simple, he was sure to be in for a bad time.  Although Dennison had
moved into some of the biggest rooms in college, they were crowded when
we got to them, and it was very difficult to get Collier inside the
door.  Dennison and a few other men were sitting at a table at the far
end of the room, and just as we arrived a fourth-year man got up to
speak.

I suppose that his business was to explain why the Hedonists existed.
At any rate, he said that it was his duty before he, as the out-going
President, broke his wand of office to remind the Society that it
existed for two definite objects--the pursuit of pleasure, and the
suppression of vulgarity.  He then went on to state that Mr. Wilkins,
formerly of St. Cuthbert's, had kindly consented to give an account of
his travels in Central Africa.

"Formerly of St. Cuthbert's," described Wilkins correctly, for he had
been sent down after one term, and since then had been living an
alcoholic existence in a farm-house a few miles outside Oxford.  His
appearance was comical, but he was really a dreadful barbarian, who
thought that it was better to gain notoriety as a hard drinker than to
be forgotten entirely.  He began by telling us that he had never been
to Central Africa, and hoped sincerely that he never should go.  He
also told us that the reason why he was addressing the Society was a
rumour that his aunt had met several African explorers at dinner, but
he wished to say that she was no more of a lion-hunter than he was.  In
this way he strove desperately to be amusing, but the struggle was very
painful, and I was glad when he had finished.

The President then broke his wand of office, which for some obscure
reason was a bulrush painted white, and Thornton and Webb, who had been
sitting behind the table, were put up for election and called upon to
speak.  Webb developed a stammer, and although he had his speech
written on his shirt-cuff, no one could hear what he said.  He was,
however, received with a lot of applause, so that Thornton might think
the election was genuine; Dennison had certainly packed the meeting
with great care.

Thornton's speech was, in its way, almost too amusing, for I found it
very hard to believe that any one who was not more or less mad could
possibly make it.  He spoke at a tremendous pace, sometimes talking
utter nonsense, and then as if by chance saying something almost
sensible.  Voting-papers were given to twenty-five picked men after he
had finished, and Thornton was elected President by fourteen votes to
eleven.  The meeting finished by Thornton thanking everybody in a voice
which sounded tearful, and then he announced that the annual dinner of
the Hedonists would be held at The Sceptre on the following Friday
evening, at which the ceremonies of inauguration would be held, and he
would be the only guest of the Society in accordance with its ancient
and honourable traditions.

"Don't you think he is mad?" I said to Jack as I walked across the quad
with him.

"The only danger is that they may find out that he is rotting the whole
lot of them.  He overdid the thing to-night.  Come and see Murray."

We found Murray waiting to hear what had happened at the meeting, and
from the account we gave him he said that it could not have gone off
more successfully.  "If you think Thornton mad when you know that he
isn't, there is no reason for Dennison to change his mind.  Besides,
these men are quite certain that he is cracked, and as long as we are
careful they won't suspect anything."

"We shall have to be most tremendously careful," Jack said, and he
seemed to find the prospect oppressive.

"I'll manage Thornton," Murray continued, "and what you men have got to
do is to get asked to this dinner.  We shall have to take some others
into this."

We sat down and chose several men who disliked the Dennison gang, and
who could be trusted not to give our scheme away by talking about it,
and during the next few days we had to work hard.  Dennison and
Lambert, however, were so confident that this dinner was going to be
the finest rag ever held in Oxford that they did not mind who came to
it.  Collier got several invitations for us, because he had a nice
solid way of sitting down in a man's rooms and waiting until he was
given what he wanted; but apart from Jack it was not difficult for us
to get to The Sceptre, and at last even Jack was invited.  Murray said
that his part was to prepare Thornton, and he refused to go to the
dinner, because Dennison might wonder why he wanted to be there.  I
thought that Murray carried caution to extremes.

I should think that there were nearly forty men at this function; but
the only guest was Thornton, so he began by scoring something.  It was
an elaborate affair; Dennison as Secretary of the Hedonists, and two or
three men who called themselves Ex-Presidents, wore enormous badges,
and Thornton's shirt was covered with orders and decorations which were
supposed to have been worn by eighty-eight consecutive Presidents.  How
any one who was sane could possibly consent to be made such a fool
puzzled me altogether, and it required all Jack's assurances to make me
believe that we should not be scored off all along the line.

After the dinner was finished Dennison got up to introduce the
President of the year, but all he did was to give a short biography of
Thornton, which for impudence was simply terrific.  Everything had gone
so well up to then that I suppose he could not keep himself in hand any
longer; but as he was bounder enough to pull Thornton's people into his
speech, he succeeded in disgusting several men who had been helping him
in the rag.  He finished up by saying that Thornton would give his
inaugural address, and that afterwards the historic ceremonies of the
Hedonists would be performed.

A man with a voice which was a mixture of a street hawker's and a
parish clerk's stood up and chanted, "I call upon Mr. Edward Noel
Kenneth Thornton to put on the purple presidential cap and to deliver
his inaugural address to this ancient and historic Society."  The cap,
which had a long black tassel, was then handed to Thornton, and he put
it on amidst tremendous applause.  It made him look more ridiculous
than ever, but he seemed to be perfectly calm when he got up and bowed
solemnly in every direction.

"Mr. Ex-Presidents and fellow-members of this justly-celebrated
Hedonist Society," he began, and every word he said could be heard
plainly, "we are here to-night in obedience to custom and in pursuit of
pleasure.  Custom is one thing and pleasure is another, but we are
fortunate in belonging to a Society which makes its customs pleasant,
and which has such skilled hands to guide its pleasures that the word
customary fails entirely to describe them."  He paused for a moment,
and a man near me asked what he was talking about, but Webb answered
quickly that he was a hopeless madman, and that the ceremonies would be
the real joke.  "That I, a freshman," he continued, "should be elected
President of this Society fills me with gratitude and even dismay, for
I fear that the duties of so distinguished an office will be but
inadequately performed during the coming year."  Loud cries of "No"
followed this remark, and he went on, "You are good enough to disagree
with me, and perhaps the ceremonies connected with my office may help
me to fulfil my duties.  I will tell you what those ceremonies are."
Dennison tried to stop him, but he was speaking quickly and took no
notice of the interruption.  "After my address has been given I put on
my robes of office and ride on a mule from here to St. Cuthbert's; I am
to be accompanied by the band of the Society, and attended by six men
who will carry syphons of Apollinaris water and prevent my robes from
being soiled by the dust of the streets.  Had I known before I came
here that so much honour was about to be showered upon me I do not
think that I should have considered myself worthy of being your
President.  I forgot to say that I am provided with an umbrella."  I
looked at Dennison, and he did not seem to be feeling very comfortable;
Thornton, however, had kept up the _rôle_ of a madman thoroughly, and
had spoken of the ceremonies as if he was quite prepared to carry them
out.  Some men were shouting with laughter, but Jack was almost pale
with anxiety, and whispered to me that he was afraid Thornton would get
flurried and finish his speech too soon.  As soon as the laughter had
stopped he went on speaking, and although he looked terribly pale and
bothered, he was never at a loss for words.  "I am, I have been told,
the eighty-ninth man to fill this important office, and when I think of
my predecessors, some of whom have doubtless passed away, I am filled
with a sense of my unfitness for the post which I fill.  The whole fate
of this Society depends upon its President; without him to guide the
members in their pursuit of pleasure they would be left to drift into
undignified amusements, and might even end by taking such absurd things
as degrees.  At all cost we must avoid banality."  As if in the
excitement of the moment, he swept his hands over his head and knocked
off his cap.  "However, my fellow Hedonists, I think I may say that
your last President has entered earnestly into the spirit of this
Society.  Its aim, you remember, is pleasure--not any vulgar or
ordinary pleasure, but refined and exclusive amusement--that is written
in the rules of the Society as they were given to me, and I need not
remind those who are present to-night that it is their duty to obey
them."  He rested his right hand on his shirt, and continued quickly,
"I, at any rate, have obeyed them to the letter.  I have, if I may say
so, got more amusement out of this evening than I have ever had in my
life, and as your eighty-ninth President I declare this magnificent
Society at an end."  Dennison, Lambert, and one or two others jumped
up, but Thornton told them loudly not to interrupt him, and several of
us shouted for him to go on with his speech.  "I have had an
exceedingly good dinner, and my last word must be one of sympathy with
Mr. Dennison, who, thinking that I was a bigger fool than he was, has
invented a society of which, I am sure you will all acknowledge, he is
the only man worthy to be President.  I hope that you will see that he
performs the ceremonies which he has arranged for me."  As he finished
he took off all his badges and tossed them across the table to Dennison.

There was a good deal of noise during the concluding sentences of his
speech, but the so-called Hedonists were so astonished that they did
nothing, and Thornton very prudently did not wait to see what would
happen next.  Dennison was in a miserable state because he was
violently angry and trying to grin, and before the general hubbub had
stopped, two men out of our eight, who had never forgiven him for
laughing at their rowing, picked him up and carried him out of the
room.  In a minute Dennison, with the purple cap on his head, was
sitting on the donkey, and a procession had started to St. Cuthbert's.
When we got back to college we succeeded in taking possession of the
porter who answered our knocks, and in getting both the moke and
Dennison into the quad.  I was so engaged with the porter that I did
not see whether Dennison entered in state, but at any rate he had to
ride round the quad two or three times, and crowds of men were there to
see him do it.  Finally, the Subby and The Bradder appeared, and gave
orders that the donkey should leave the college; so as soon as Dennison
had dismounted, his steed was handed over to its owner, who was waiting
in the street.  Then some of us paid a call on the porter to see if he
could develop a bad memory for faces, but the only thing we found out
from him was that his temper was bad, and that we had known before.  As
I went back to my rooms I met Lambert, who drew himself up in front of
me as if he was on parade.

"Don't think," he said, "that you have heard the last of this."

"We shall never hear the last of it," I answered,

"We know that you played this dirty trick."

"You can know what you please," I said.

"I told you about Thornton, and then you prepare this behind our backs."

"The whole college, and nearly the whole 'Varsity knew about Thornton,
so you needn't talk such rot to me.  Crowds of out-college men were
here to see him come in to-night."

"You arranged the whole thing."

"You may think whatever you like," I replied; and he strode away with a
warning that I had better look out for myself.



CHAPTER XXI

ONE WORD TOO MANY

The collapse of the Hedonists placed me in a very curious position, for
by some freak of fortune an idea spread through the 'Varsity that I had
been responsible for it, and whenever I went to Vincent's I was always
button-holed by men who asked me to tell them what had happened.  It
was almost as bad as Nina falling into the "Cher," for a tale thirty
times told is as flavourless as sauce kept in an uncorked bottle.  I
could not say that Murray was the man to explain the whole thing, for
he was most extraordinarily anxious that his name should not be
mentioned.  I thought that he carried discretion beyond the bounds of
decency, but Jack said that if it had not been for him we should never
have made a fool of Dennison, and this was so far true that I stopped
myself from making one or two forcible remarks.  The immediate result
of our procession was that a great many people seemed to be
incoherently angry.  I had interviews with both the Warden and the
Subby, and I am sorry to say that our porter had told them that I had
hit him in the ribs.  I had done nothing of the kind, but it was
necessary that he should be taken for a short walk, and I did put my
arm through his and keep myself between him and the donkey until it was
safely in the quad.  I am sure that the Warden understood that I would
not hit any one in the ribs, and I think his annoyance was due chiefly
to the fact that some one had told a reporter a lot of things which
were not true, and there were accounts of the Hedonists in some of the
London papers.  But the fact of a donkey being in our quad had got on
the Subby's nerves, and he gated me for a month without listening to
what I had to say.  He also told me that I ought to consider myself
very lucky not to be sent down for the term.  Several other men,
including Dennison, were gated for a fortnight, and I had great
difficulty in keeping Jack from going to the Subby, to ask him if he
would not do something to him.  It was very silly of Jack to think of
pushing himself into this row, but instead of thanking his stars that
he had not been seen, he was furious with me when I told him to keep
away from the Subby; and a lot of other men in St. Cuthbert's who would
have been glad to help in squashing Dennison, were angry because they
had never been told of our plans.

Collier, who had not been gated, told me by way of comfort that virtue
is its own reward, but if this is true, I really think that virtue is
badly handicapped, and that those who practise it should get something
more substantial to satisfy them.  I began to think that if ever there
was another attempt to do anything for the college I should be too busy
to take any part in it.  There was, however, one thing which cheered me
during these days of bad temper, and that was a report that Dennison
and Lambert were vowing vengeance upon me.  I hoped most sincerely that
they would try to do something, for I should have received them with
pleasure.  But their threats never came to anything, for as the days
passed by and every one knew how completely they had been scored off,
their desire for revenge seemed to wane.  Ridicule smothered them, and
try as they would to live it down, their influence, as far as the
college was concerned, disappeared entirely.  Some of the set pulled
themselves up and became more or less silent, while others continued to
shriek at night, and to go to the theatre for the purpose of making a
row, which seems to me to be nearly the end of all things.

In a week the Hedonists were almost forgotten, and when the storm had
blown over, Murray was not so anxious that I should have all the credit
of having caused it.  But by that time no one cared to know who had
thought of preparing Thornton for the dinner, and Murray treated me as
if I had robbed him of something.  I think he must have been working
too hard, or suffering from some secret illness, for I had already told
a hundred men that it was not in me to make a plot of any kind, and
that if I had been responsible for this one it would never have been
successful.  Murray's indignation came too late to have any effect, and
as I thought he was quite unreasonable I made no attempt to pacify him.

After things had settled down again no one could help seeing that the
fall of Dennison and his friends had done no end of good to the
college.  The men who can be only described as absolute slackers do not
often get the chance of having any influence in a college, but for some
reason or other Dennison had become the fashion among a certain set in
St. Cuthbert's, and if we were ever to do anything properly again it
was time for the fashion to change.  There are many ways of making
yourself conspicuous in Oxford, and Dennison chose the one which the
majority of men never have been able to put up with.  I think St.
Cuthbert's during my first two years had most unusually bad luck; we
were suffering, like the agricultural interest, from years of
depression, and we tobogganed down the hill instead of trying to pull
ourselves to the top of it again.  I suppose other colleges have their
troubles, but while I was at Oxford no college had such a desperate
struggle as St. Cuthbert's.

My interviews with The Bradder during the first two or three weeks of
this term were most strictly business-like.  I was afraid that he would
speak to me of the Hedonists, and as I had no intention of saying a
word to him about them I never stayed with him longer than I could
possibly help.  Dons, however, find out things without asking
undergraduates, and the man who imagines that they are not troubling
themselves about him is in danger of having rather a rude awakening, if
he happens to be doing things which do not please them.  Our dons must
have known all about Dennison, and I believe they fixed their eyes most
steadfastly upon him.  At any rate, his father, who was a barrister,
must have heard something, because he paid a surprise visit to Oxford.
There is something horribly mean about surprise visits, whatever
information may be got from them, and for the first time in my life I
felt a little sympathy for Dennison.

Whether his father thought this visit successful or not I do not know,
but he certainly found out a lot in a short time and came to a very
definite decision.  He called on Dennison at ten o'clock and found him
sleeping, he called again at twelve o'clock with the same result; at
one o'clock he discovered him sitting at breakfast in his
dressing-gown.  Lambert was unfortunate enough to hear some of the
interview which followed, and he said that Dennison's defence was very
clever, but that he broke down under cross-examination.

"I have never seen such a man as old Dennison," I heard Lambert telling
some one in the common-room; "he looked like a piece of marble, and
when I went in and wanted to bolt he treated me as if I was an
office-boy, and said that as he believed I was a particular friend of
his son's it would do me good to stay.  The worst of it was that
Dennison wasn't very well, and was having a pick-me-up with his
brekker.  He wasn't in bed until four this morning, so it's no wonder
he didn't look very fit."

On the following afternoon Dennison left Oxford; he was not sent down
by the dons, but had to go for the simple reason that his father said
he would not let him stay any longer.  His friends took him down to the
station, and there was a procession of cabs and a noise, but I am sure
that there was a feeling of relief in the college when he had gone.
Jack and I told each other that we were sorry that his end had come so
suddenly, although if any one had asked me what I meant, I am sure that
I could not have given any explanation.  It is not very hard to guess
what would have happened to him if his father had not acted as he did,
and if you have to leave Oxford abruptly I should think the best way is
to be hurried off by your people; it must save so many explanations
when you get home.

What happened to Dennison I cannot say; somebody said that he was going
round the world or on to the Stock Exchange, but Lambert denied both
these reports, and declared that he had reformed so violently that he
had become a teetotaler and intended to wear a blue riband in his
button-hole.  I doubted the blue riband part of the story, and if
Dennison ever wore one I think it would only be on Boat-race day, for
it takes a tremendous lot of courage to wear a badge of any kind.

After Dennison had disappeared, Jack and I saw The Bradder nearly every
day.  His keenness on the college increased instead of wearing off with
time, and he seemed to be exactly the right kind of man to be a don.
His energy was really terrific, and I received more goads than I could
endure conveniently, so I passed some of them on to Jack and chose
those which I liked the least, not, I am afraid, the ones which Jack
might be inclined to receive with patience.

The Bradder persuaded me to join both a Shakespearian and a Browning
Society, and as I could not plunge into such things by myself I dragged
Jack with me.  The Shakespearian Society was pleasant enough, but after
two meetings of the Browningites Jack said flatly that he would not go
again.  Some of the Browning men objected to the windows being opened,
and it is very difficult to keep awake in a stuffy room when you have
been taking hard exercise in the afternoon.  Jack, at any rate, snored
so loudly at the second meeting that he shocked the President, and when
he woke up he interrupted a discussion by giving a very fluent lecture
on the advantages of ventilation.  I expect that he would have been
turned out of the society if he had not resigned, and I ought not to
have dragged him into it, for he was so violently bored by the whole
thing that he declared he must have a little pleasure to make him
forget all about it.

"Something in the open air," he said to me, when he came to my rooms on
the morning after he had snored, and he looked at a volume of _Stubbs'
Constitutional History_ as if he was very tired of it.  I was also
feeling rather dull, for I had already got through a fortnight of my
gating, and to be kept in college after nine o'clock night after night
is not very exciting.

"A little change is what we want," Jack went on, as I said nothing.

"I can't do much," I answered; "I'm gated and you have got to row."

"I've got a day off to-morrow; the stroke of my boat has to go to town
and bow's ill."

"Why not have a day's hunting?" I asked.

"There is a little race-meeting down below Reading; you pulled me into
that Browning thing and it is only fair for you to come to this."

"But I shan't be back in time."

"It's only about twenty miles beyond Reading, and there's no footer
match, because I've looked to see.  Let's get Bunny Langham and have a
rest, it will do us all no end of good.  Bunny is going in for
politics--his father was President of the Union, and he has got to be,
if he can.  I should think that there are more Presidents of things in
Oxford than any other place in the world, unless it's Cambridge; but
Bunny will stick some of his own poetry into his speeches, and the men
at the Union don't like it.  You can tell him that if ever he expects
to be President he must stop that game, he takes no notice of what I
say about poetry.  You'll come?"

We looked up trains and found out that we could be back by half-past
six, so I said that I would go, and Jack went off to see Bunny Langham.
As far as racing was concerned the Horndeane meeting was not very
interesting, for there was not a close finish in any race which I saw,
but if any one has a fancy for picking up very inexpensive horses I
should advise them never to miss Horndeane.

I was strolling about with Bunny and Jack after one race, and saw the
winner of it brought out for sale.  It fetched a hundred and sixty
guineas, and Jack said it was "dirt cheap."  Then another horse was put
up, and I was surprised to hear some one bid ten guineas.  Such an
offer seemed to me ridiculous for a race-horse, so without thinking,
and just to help things on a bit, I said "eleven," and strolled on with
Jack; but before we had gone far some one was asking my name, and
another man was asking me what I wished him to do with the horse.  So
many questions bothered me, and I tried to explain that I had made a
mistake when I had said "eleven," but it seemed as if such mistakes did
not count for much.

"The horse is yours," one man said.

"And he's got the temper of a fiend," the other man added, "and I
should like you to find some one to take him at once."

I was quite prepared to give him away if I could find any one foolish
enough to have him, but Bunny wouldn't hear of it, and declared we
would take him back to Oxford with us.  "He may be a gold mine, who
knows?" he said.

Jack laughed so much, that while I was surrounded by a lot of impatient
people he was unable to help me at all, and I can tell those who have
never had to suffer as I did, that to become an owner of a race-horse
suddenly is a very awkward experience.

My brute was called "Thunderer," and the man who had got hold of him
said that his name was the only good thing about him, for he roared
like the sea.  I wished heartily that some one would steal my horse,
but every one seemed to be most distressingly anxious to keep as far
away from him as possible.

I suppose Bunny knew all about racers, for in a few minutes he had
arranged for a horse-box to be put on our train, and Thunderer
disappeared.  I seemed to spend the remainder of the afternoon in being
asked for money by people who said they had done or were going to do
something for me.  I found that my exalted position brought many
burdens with it, and I was very glad when we left the race-course.
Unfortunately, however, we trusted to Bunny's watch, and when we got to
the station, which was on a little branch line, our train to Reading
had gone.  There had been some bother about the horse-box, and the
station-master and a number of people who took an unabating interest in
me were quarrelling when we arrived.  I sat down on a bench and left
Bunny to talk to them; I have never been so tired of anything in my
life.

Even if the next train was punctual we had to wait for an hour, and by
no chance could we reach Oxford before half-past seven.  We should have
been annoyed in any case, but Jack and I were very irritated because
the Mohocks were meeting that evening, and we had men dining with us.
The only thing to do was to telegraph and ask some one to look after
our guests until we came, but the station had no telegraph-office, and
if we wanted to send a telegram we had to go down to the village.

A porter assured us that we could get to the post-office in ten
minutes, and that the road was quite straight.  I don't know what he
was thinking about, possibly of a bicycle and daylight, for the way to
the village needed a lot of finding, and it took us quite half-an-hour
to reach the post-office.  By that time a thick fog had risen.  We
tried, and failed, to get any kind of vehicle to take us back to the
station, so we started to run and lost our way.  The natural result was
that we missed another train, and the stationmaster, who must have had
an especial dislike for me, had not sent on the horse-box, and was more
angry than ever.  Of all the obstinate people in the world I think a
station-master at a small station can be easily first, and our efforts
to soothe him produced no effect whatever.  Everything he said began
with "I know my business," and I have always been inclined to doubt
people who try to crush me with such unnecessary information.

We got away eventually, but my misfortunes were not finished.  Our
train was very late at Reading and there was no longer any chance for
me to be in college by nine o'clock.  Jack, too, was bothered about the
men whom he had asked to dinner, and Bunny alone remained in a state of
unruffled contentment.

When the train came at last I got into a carriage with only a glance at
the people in it, and tried to go to sleep, but Bunny kept on talking
about Thunderer and had magnificent schemes for my future benefit.  I
regret to say that he was in what must have been a sportive mood, and
asked me to choose my racing colours and my trainer.  He kept up a long
series of questions which I did not answer, but which prevented me from
going to sleep.  I opened my eyes reluctantly and saw Jack slumbering
in a corner, but when I looked at the man opposite to me I became most
thoroughly awake.  This man, as far as I remember anything about him
when I got into the carriage, had his head buried in a newspaper; now
he was revealed as Mr. Edwardes, and having wished me "good-evening,"
he added--quite superfluously--that he was surprised to see me.

Bunny with more curiosity than good manners put on his glasses to look
at Mr. Edwardes, and I, having to say something, thought that I might
as well introduce them to each other, though I took care to mumble
Bunny's name so that it could not be heard.  Mr. Edwardes bowed and
opened his paper again, but Bunny having arrived at the fact that I was
face to face with a don of some kind, thought he would try to pass the
time pleasantly.  Considering what he had already said about
race-horses nothing could have been more fatuous than his attempts to
explain why I was not in Oxford.  He began by talking about British
industries, and in a minute was saying that he thought a visit to
Huntley and Palmer's biscuit manufactory was well worth a visit to
Reading.  I kicked and nudged him incessantly, for the snubs which he
received from Mr. Edwardes only seemed to encourage him.

The distance between Reading and Oxford is happily not great, but by
the time we had finished our journey I was in a state of profound
discomfort, and though I had no love for Mr. Edwardes, I thought that
Bunny might have had the sense to know that if he was amusing himself
he was making things more difficult for me.  His explanation was that a
man who looked like a frozen image was just as likely to believe that I
had been inspecting Huntley and Palmer's manufactory as buying a
race-horse, and at any rate it was a good thing to try and mix him up a
little, but I can't say that I thought the explanation a good one.

When we got to Oxford a man from a livery-stable was waiting for
Thunderer, and Jack and I reached St. Cuthbert's just as the Mohocks
were coming back to college after playing pool.  It was half-past ten
before I could explain things to the men whom I had asked to dine with
me, and when they heard that I had been buying a race-horse they
thought that my excuses were good enough.

The Bradder was dining with the Mohocks that evening, and when the
out-college men had gone away he asked me to come to his rooms and have
a smoke.  I looked at Jack, and The Bradder said at once, "Ask Ward to
come with you," and walked off across the quad.

We told him exactly what we had been doing, and I think Mr. Edwardes
would have been rather surprised to see how he laughed.

"What would Colonel Marten say if he knew you had bought a race-horse?"
he asked me.

"I hope to goodness he never will know," I answered.

"What are you going to do with him?"

"Sell him--if I can; Langham's got him in the stables where he keeps
his horses, and if you would like to have a look at him, I'll take you
round."

But The Bradder shook his head.

"You say Mr. Edwardes saw you at Reading, and that you are gated, and
were not in college until ten o'clock.  I wish you would not do such
stupid things," he said quite seriously.

"It was the reaction," I replied.

"From what?"

"Browning," I said, and The Bradder did not look altogether pleased.

"I am sorry you can't appreciate Browning."

"I can't appreciate very many things at once.  Besides, Jack and I felt
very dull."

"Mr. Edwardes saw you, I suppose?" he asked Jack.

"I should think so, but I don't think he knows me by sight."

"Oh yes, he does," The Bradder said.  "Both of you are bound to hear
more about this."

"It's very unfortunate," Jack remarked; "you see there was a fog, and
all sorts of unexpected things happened.  It has been a real bad day,"
he added, as we left the room.

On the following morning directly after breakfast Jack and I went round
to see Bunny, and we found him talking to a man who looked like a groom
from his head to his heels.  I groaned.

"Sit down, Sam," Bunny said.  "That's Mr. Marten, the owner of the
horse you are talking about."

"Well, all I can say is what the Guv'nor told me to say.  I was to say
this 'oss must leave our place this morning or there'll be trouble."

"There seems to have been trouble already," Bunny replied.

"'E's done enough damage for twenty 'osses.  Kick, you should see 'im;
'e's kicked a loose box silly.  Our Guv'nor's fairly got 'is rag out."

"He must wait until I've finished breakfast.  You'd better have a
cigarette, Sam."

"No, thank you," Sam answered, and looked at a cigar-box.

"Help yourself," Bunny said.

Sam helped himself and remarked that he had been up since five o'clock
with that blessed 'oss, and that it was thirsty work.  So he helped
himself again.  After that he did not seem to mind so much what the
Guv'nor said, and told Bunny that he had never met a nobleman who
didn't know how to treat people properly.

We talked to Sam for some time, and just as Bunny was finishing
breakfast another man came into the room.

"I had forgotten all about you," Bunny said.  "I'm afraid this place is
rather full of smoke," and he introduced his cousin, Mr. Eric Bruce.

"I can't congratulate you on your memory," Bruce replied; "you forgot I
was going to stay with you last night, and you forget I want any
breakfast.  Funny chap, Augustus, isn't he?" he said to me.

"Your wire never came until I had gone yesterday, so I couldn't forget
you were coming," Bunny said, and rang the bell.

"I'll tell the Guv'nor you'll be round in 'alf a jiffy," Sam said, and
went out of the room jerkily, as if he had got a stiff leg.

"What curious friends you have, Augustus, and what is ''alf a jiffy'?"
Bruce asked.

"Don't be a fool," Bunny answered, "and don't call me Augustus."

"It's better than Gussy," Bruce declared, and though I should have been
glad to contradict him, for I disliked him at sight, there is no doubt
that he was right.

"Is the man, who has gone, an elderly undergraduate or only a don?"
Bruce went on.

"He's from some stables round the corner.  Any one with two eyes could
see that."

"Rude as usual; my cousin's the oddest man," Bruce said to Jack.

"Like to buy a horse?" Bunny asked him.

"I'm ready to buy anything if I can sell it at a profit," he answered.

"Well, swallow your breakfast and come and have a look.  You'll get
your profit all right.  I've never known you when you didn't."

In a few minutes we all went to the stables, and Bunny began haggling
operations.  Bruce bid a "fiver" for Thunderer, and was told he would
fetch that for cats' meat, and then the game went on.  In the end Bruce
said he would give fifteen guineas, and take him to London that day.  I
nearly seized him by the hand, and told him he was a rare good sort,
which I was quite convinced he was not.  The livery-stable man did not
seem to care what happened as long as Thunderer went away, and I must
say that he made the least of his eccentricities.

"That's a bit of luck," Bunny said to me when the bargain was settled,
"I get rid of my cousin and a horse on the same day, both real bad
lots.  He's our family pestilence," and he nodded at Bruce's back.

For Jack's benefit I added up the result of my investment, and came to
the conclusion that I was about eighteen-pence to the bad when I had
paid for the damage Thunderer had done, and all the little incidental
expenses connected with him.  You can't own a race-horse for nothing,
and I think that I--or rather Bunny--did well.  I was told afterwards
that Bruce raffled my horse and sold fifty tickets for a sovereign
each, but I am not inclined to believe that story, and at any rate I
should not have known where to find fifty fools.  I certainly could not
have discovered them in Oxford, where some people, who have never been
there, make the mistake of thinking they are to be found in crowds.

I believe the dons held a meeting about Jack and me, for The Bradder
told us there was a great difference of opinion about the sort of men
we were.  I tried to get more out of him, but failed.  However, we got
off lightly, for Jack was only gated for a week, while I was given a
lecture by the Subby, and had a week added to my term of imprisonment.

The Bradder also advised me to give up going to race-meetings.



CHAPTER XXII

A TUTORSHIP

I was beginning to forget that I had ever been the owner of a
race-horse when I got a furious letter from my father.  The Warden had
told my uncle, and my uncle lost his head and wrote to my people
instead of to me.  A tale of this kind always flies round at a
tremendous pace, and it was difficult to make every one believe that I
had never meant to buy the horse, and that as soon as I had bought him
my one desire was to get rid of him.  I found out afterwards that the
Warden only told my uncle because he thought the tale would amuse him,
but apparently he expressed himself in such very curious language that
he gave the impression of being annoyed.  After I had soothed my people
the Bishop wrote to me that the turf had been the ruin of many young
men, but when I thought of the part I had played upon it I came to the
conclusion that I was not likely to be added to the number.  My uncle
referred to racing as "a fascinating and very expensive pleasure," and
I assured him that I had not found it fascinating, and that my
experience had cost me eighteen-pence, the cheapness of which he had to
admit.  I am glad that I added up my expenses, for that eighteen-pence
was very useful, it was such a delightfully ridiculous sum to brandish
at any one who thought that I was trotting down the road to perdition.

During the rest of the term we were very quiet in St. Cuthbert's.  I
was able to play rugger for the college in nearly every match, for my
days in the 'Varsity fifteen had ended.  Hogan was better than ever,
while I had fallen away to the kind of man who Blackheath ask to play
for them when half their team are crocked and the other half have
influenza.  I did not mind, however, for our college fifteen was only
beaten by Trinity and Keble, and our soccer team, chiefly owing to
three or four freshers, was also much better than it had been for years.

Things were improving all round, and Jack's energy was almost
exhausting to those who watched it.  He seemed to me to be hunting for
societies to join, and he went round sampling them and finding out that
they did not suit him.  Bunny Langham succeeded in getting himself
elected Secretary of the Union, and he told me that he was going to
have several cabinet ministers down to speak in the following term, and
should give them a jolly good dinner.  He asked Jack and me to meet
them, but only one of them came, and he did not dine with Bunny.  His
father, who was in the Government and held the record for the number of
speeches he had made in the House of Lords, came down once and wanted
to come again, but he spoke for such a tremendously long time that
Bunny declared that he should give up all hopes of being elected
President if he ever came again.

In the Lent term Jack rowed six in our Torpid, and also told me that he
thought he should try and get his blue for throwing the hammer.  He had
never thrown the hammer in his life, but he said that he knew what it
was like and any one could throw it.  I suppose that was true, but
Jack, when he tried, found that there were other men who could throw it
a greater distance than he could, which did not trouble him in the
least.  He remarked that the hammer was a silly thing after all, and
that he should think of something else.

But the Torpid occupied so much of his time and attention that he gave
up seeking for a curious way in which to get his blue, and settled down
to train in a most determined manner.  The sight of me eating muffins
for tea seemed to be almost an insult to him, I really believe that he
would have liked me to train with him, though I had nothing whatever to
train for.  He did persuade me once to run round the Parks before
breakfast, but I didn't repeat the experiment, for I felt quite fit
without being restless in the early morning.  Of course I had the
Torpid to breakfast, and their confidence in themselves was as great as
their appetites.  You can't, I think, give breakfast to a Torpid and
like them at the same time, and I have never acted as host to a Torpid
or an Eight without being struck by the fact that of all men in the
world I was the most supremely unimportant.  Occasionally Jack and
another man remembered that I was not very interested in the amount of
work the Corpus stroke did with his legs, and made as great an effort
to drag me into the conversation as I made to keep in it.  But the
effort was very apparent on both sides, and I gave up when I heard that
seven in the Merton boat used his oar like a pump-handle, and that
there was not a single man in the Pembroke crew who pulled his own
weight.  This last statement compelled me to ask if Pembroke hoisted a
sail on their boat and waited for a favourable wind, but my question
was treated with scorn, and I came to the usual conclusion that the
best place to see a Torpid collectively is in a boat.

The confidence of our men depressed me, for I had most conscientiously
played the part of host to previous Torpids and Eights, who had been
equally confident until the racing began.  After that they had either
complained of their luck or their cox, and I asked Jack when I got him
by himself if he really thought our boat was going up.

"I don't know," he replied, "we plug hard, and thinking you are bound
to bump everybody is part of the game.  It's no use starting to race
with your tail down."

The papers considered that we were bound to rise, but for two years
they had been saying that and all we had done was to lose more places.
I wished that I could meet some one who was not sure about the success
of our boat, and at last I discovered him in Lambert, who said our crew
looked like a picnic party, which had gone too far out to sea, and had
to plug for all they were worth to get back before night.  Then I
defended them and felt more happy.  The fact was the Torpids were a
sort of test case; if we went up I felt we should have fairly turned
the corner, but if we went down I was afraid our fit of enthusiasm
would cool rapidly.  No one who was rowing in them could have been more
excited than I was.  The Bradder noticed it and complained, but for the
moment I was incapable of caring much about things which had happened,
and after all there is something to be said for anybody who is really
keen on one thing, if he does not make himself a very terrific bore.

On the first night of the races we got a dreadfully bad start, and for
two or three minutes we were in danger of being bumped.  Then we
settled down and began to draw close to Corpus, but our cox was too
eager and made unsuccessful shots at them.  After the second shot I
could not run another yard, so perhaps a little training might have
done me good, but we did catch Corpus at the "Cher," and that began a
triumphant week.  We made seven bumps, and though a lot of men said our
crew showed more brute force than science, it must have been nonsense,
because we went up from fourteenth to seventh, and when a boat gets
fairly high in the First Division there is sure to be some one in it
who can row properly.  The stroke of the 'Varsity eight told me that
the best man in our Torpid was Jack and I believed him very easily.

"He could be made useful in the middle of a boat with a bit of
coaching," he said to me.

"You'll be up next year, so look out for him," I answered, and I told
him that I thought Jack was a splendid oar, which was no use because he
only laughed.

I had become so accustomed to a dismal return to college from both the
Eights and Torpids that the change was quite delightful, and on the
last day of the races we had a huge "bump" supper in hall.  From that
supper some of our dons stood aloof and were even said to disapprove of
it, but the Warden was present for the greater part of it, and the
Bursar and The Bradder entered into the spirit of the thing with a zest
which was splendid.  There were also two or three more dons, who had
been undergrads of St. Cuthbert's, but who now belonged to other
colleges, and they seemed to know that there are times when it is well
to forget that you are a don.  We entertained two members of each of
the crews which we had bumped, and I cannot say that any of them seemed
to be dispirited by their bad fortune.  Indeed, as the evening went on
they became exceedingly lively, and some of them were inclined to swear
everlasting friendship with any one who liked demonstrations.

After supper we had a lot of speeches, but it was impossible to hear
many of them, for everybody wanted to speak and no one to listen.  I
did hear the opening sentence of one speech, "Gentlemen, I used to be
able to row once," but I heard no more, for the next words were drowned
in loud cries of "Shame" and "No, no," and the don who wished to tell
us his personal reminiscences just stood and smiled at us.  He had been
in the St. Cuthbert's boat when it had been head of the river and did
not mind anything.  Before we left the hall there were two men speaking
at once at our table, it was a great chance to practise oratory.  I
have never been at a more convivial supper, and since we had not been
given an opportunity of celebrating anything for ages it is no wonder
that we made a tremendous noise.  Some people may wag their heads at
bump suppers and call them silly, or whatever they please, but they
have forgotten the joy of living, and find their chief delight in
criticizing the pleasures of those who are younger and happier than
themselves.  I suppose they are useful in their way, but thank goodness
their way is not mine.  You can't expect an undergraduate to celebrate
seven bumps by standing on the top of a mountain and watching a
sunrise, or by some equally peaceful enjoyment.  He wants noise, and he
generally manages to get it.  I know that I was very pleased with that
evening and felt as if it had been well-spent, but when I tried to
describe it to Mrs. Faulkner, she shrugged her shoulders and said that
it was most childish, for she couldn't understand that it was very nice
to let yourself go a little when there was a good reason for doing it.
I believe she was one of those people who are ashamed of ever having
been children, and if she lived to be a hundred years old and kept all
her faculties she would never understand what a peculiar mixture makes
up life at Oxford.  I did not tell her about the bonfire which we had
in the back quad after supper, because I am sure she would have thought
that either I was lying or that most of the men in St. Cuthbert's were
a set of lunatics.

Two or three dons, who could appreciate festivities, danced round the
bonfire quite happily, and evidently enjoyed themselves.  They were
very popular; too much so possibly for their own comfort, for one of
them who was, except on especial occasions, a most prim and proper
person, was seized by a man, who looked upon him as his very dearest
friend, and carried round the bonfire at galloping pace.  After that
the dons disappeared and we had a dance in the hall.  I should think
the band must have been as keen on exercise as we were, for the music
got faster and faster as the evening went on, and it was impossible to
keep time, but that did not matter.  In our battels at the end of the
week we were all charged half-a-crown for refreshing the band, so that
they could not have gone away hungry--or thirsty.

An outburst of this kind is something more than a custom honoured by
time, for it clears the air and you can settle down afterwards quite
easily.  I had smuggled myself into the festivities which other
colleges had given, but I had never enjoyed myself half as much as I
did at our own.  We had done something at last which was worth a
bonfire, and a bonfire with no one to dance round it has never yet been
lighted in an Oxford quad.

The Bradder thought that our supper had gone off very well, although he
had seen one of his fellow-dons treated too affectionately, and had
rescued him.  But he knew such things did not really mean anything, for
you can't expect men who have just come out of strict training to
behave quite like ordinary mortals.

I wanted to fish during the Easter vac, but my vacs were beginning to
get out of hand, for make what plans I would--and I made very pleasant
ones--somebody was always at work to upset them.  I meant to take Fred
home with me and play cricket in a net if the weather was warm, and
fish a little stream near us, but the Bishop had found something else
for me to do, and my schemes came to nothing.  At the end of the term I
only went home for two days, and then had to start off on a tutorship.
It is no use pretending that I went without vigorous protests.  I said
that I had never tutored anybody in my life, and was met by the answer
that everything had to have a beginning, which is such an appalling
truism that it ought never to be uttered.  I then stated that I was
sorry for the boy who had me as a tutor, though I meant, of course,
that I was sorry for myself, and my mother replied that she should miss
me very much, but that she had talked the whole thing over with my
father, and they both thought the experience would be good for me.
What could I say to that?  Besides, it was too late to back out.  The
people, I was told, were charming, and I was to take charge of a boy
aged twelve, who was home from school because he had been having
measles.  The boy was also charming, everybody and everything seemed to
be exactly right; but I thought I saw the Bishop peeping through all
these descriptions, and charming is a word which has no great
attractions for me, it is so comprehensive and can mean such a
multitude of things.

But as I had to go I went cheerfully, and I should not think that any
one ever started on a tutorship knowing less than I did about the
people to whom I was going.  My whole stock of knowledge consisted of
their name, which was Leigh-Tompkinson, of the place where they lived,
and of the fact that the boy had been ill.  I had, however, no doubt
that I should be able to get on with them if they could only put up
with me; they were, I was assured, friends of the Bishop, and I did not
think that he would urge me to go to any people whom I should not like.

When I arrived at the house I was shown into a drawing-room in which
there were at least eight ladies and not a single man.  My reception
was almost effusive.  Mrs. Leigh-Tompkinson insisted that I was cold,
tired, and dying of hunger, but I had only travelled forty miles, and
the day was warm.  I wanted nothing except a sight of Mr.
Leigh-Tompkinson, and I had an awful feeling that there was not such a
man.  It struck me suddenly that no one had ever spoken of him to me,
and my courage decreased.

"You would like to see Dick," one lady said to me, and everybody asked
where he was, and nobody knew or seemed to care very much.  The desire
for him passed off as quickly as it had come, and in half-an-hour I was
playing a four-handed game at billiards with Mrs. Leigh-Tompkinson as a
partner, and two ladies as our opponents.  My partner played better
than I did, and we won; we then played two other ladies, and in the
middle of the second game Dick came into the room.  One glance at him
told me that he was all right, and I should have been very glad to go
away with him.  He remarked to me at once that I was "at it" already,
which told me a good deal.  No one took any notice of him except to
tell him not to fidget, and as he was not fidgeting I thought he was
very amiable to receive such unnecessary orders in silence.  Before
dinner I was able to have a few minutes alone with him, and my fears
about Mr. Leigh-Tompkinson were realized--he was dead.  We also made
some plans for the next day, which were never carried out.  In fact,
try as I would for many days, and I adopted many artifices, I could
hardly ever spend more than an odd half-hour with him, there was always
something which his mother thought much more important for me to do.
The house was full of people, most of whom were ladies, though none of
them were what I called young; but there were two men there all the
time, who were the mildest beings I have ever met.  I don't think
either of them liked me, and I am sure I did not like them; their
wildest amusement was a little, a very little golf, and their chief
employment was to make themselves generally useful.  Everybody, with
the exception of Dick and me, seemed to be trying to be young again, it
was a most melancholy spectacle.  For some time I could not understand
how Mrs. Leigh-Tompkinson could be a friend of my uncle's, but at last
a Miss Bentham, who was always ready to talk, told me that the
house-party were having their holidays before they went back to London
for the season.

"In London my cousin has so much to do," she continued.  "Of course the
season is always fatiguing, but Mrs. Leigh-Tompkinson makes it more so
by her devotion to good works."

I nearly laughed aloud, and thought of saying that if she would be a
little more devoted to her son she would not be wasting her time, but I
suppressed myself and asked to hear more about the good works.

"She gives so much away, but then she's so rich," Miss Bentham said.
"She's devoted to your uncle, but then he's so handsome.  Don't you
think so?"

"He's fifty," I replied, without remembering to whom I was talking.

"A woman is as old as she looks and a man as he feels," she said, and
looked at me.

I knew that I was expected to say that the Bishop must be about thirty,
and that she could be scarcely twenty-five, but I really could not do
it.  The whole place made me feel absolutely unwell.

"My uncle works hard and often feels tired," I remarked after a moment.

"You mustn't think we always enjoy ourselves like this.  Here we are
quite children again, so very refreshing," but her interest in me had
gone.  I had been given my opportunity and had not taken it.  I should
have liked very much to see an interview between Mrs. Leigh-Tompkinson
in her "good works" mood and my uncle; it would have been a delightful
entertainment.  But I am sure that he had never seen her when she was
taking her holidays, or I should have been left to play cricket and
fish with Fred.

In spite, however, of the facts that I was always trying to fulfil the
duties which were supposed to account for my presence, and that I liked
Dick far better than any one else in the house, I was for some time
most popular with Mrs. Leigh-Tompkinson.  I was new, I suppose, for
what other reason there could have been for my popularity I cannot
imagine; but at any rate the reason is not worth guessing, for in a
brief ten minutes I managed to fall completely out of favour.

The way in which this happened was rather absurd, but it showed clearly
enough what an odd kind of woman Dick had for a mother.  As a rule I
had to play billiards after dinner, but one evening there was somebody
staying in the house who persuaded Mrs. Leigh-Tompkinson to play round
games, and when I went into the drawing-room I discovered that
preparations had been made for this form of dissipation.  Dick had been
allowed to come down to take part in them, and was walking round asking
everybody to begin at once; but my experience of round games is that
people are generally far more anxious to stop than to begin them.  Each
person wanted to play a different game, for by this means I fervently
believe that they imagined they would get out of playing any at all.  I
sat down while I had the chance, feeling sure that in a few minutes I
should be asked to go outside the door and stay there.  I thought that
I knew every game of the kind, and when Dick had at last got a few
people to look like beginning, I was asked if I knew "it."  I had no
idea that "it" meant anything out of the ordinary, and I said
unblushingly that I did, whereupon Mrs. Leigh-Tompkinson asked me to
take the chair on her right hand.  One of the mild men had already
taken up his position on this seat, and to my sorrow he was told to
move, though I had no idea that my position was in a peculiar way the
place of honour.  A lady, who proclaimed many times that she had never
done such a thing in her life, stood in the middle of the circle and
asked questions, and from the confusing answers she received I
discovered promptly that I did not know what game we were playing.  At
last she came to me and said, "Is it beautiful?" so as we were only
allowed to say "Yes" or "No," and the last answer had been "Yes," I
said "No."  I shall never forget the gasp which followed.  Dick, I am
ashamed to say, gave way to merriment, but the rest of the people
looked at me as if I had committed a crime.  It was not hard for me to
guess that I ought to have said "Yes"; the agitation had even spread to
Mrs. Leigh-Tompkinson.  The second question asked me was, "Is it old?"
and this time I said "Yes," with some fervour; but my answer again
caused consternation.  Some one indeed declared that it was too hot for
games, and in a minute the circle was broken up.  Then Dick told me
that "it" was always the left-hand neighbour of the person who was
asked the question, and I saw that my answers, if true, had also been
unfortunate.

Mrs. Leigh-Tompkinson went into the billiard-room at once, and I am
afraid that even an immediate explanation and apology would not have
been considered compensation enough for making her ridiculous.  During
the next two days Dick and I were left very much to ourselves, and then
I asked Miss Bentham, who was, I think, secretly pleased at my answers,
to suggest that I should take him to the sea for the rest of his
holidays.  This request was made in the morning, and we started during
the afternoon of the same day, for I had sinned past forgiveness.  But
unless I had played this game of "It" I should never have had time to
make friends with Dick, and he wanted a friend rather badly.  He was
lonely among a crowd of people, all of whom were ready to give him
anything he asked for, except companionship.  I started by being sorry
for him, and ended by liking him very much; he only wanted some one to
take an interest in him, and that I was able to do quite easily.  After
my tutorship was over Mrs. Leigh-Tompkinson wrote to me and hoped that
I should often be able to take him away with me, but she expressed no
wish for me to stay with her again.

At the beginning of my third summer term I was able to pay Fred the
money he had lent me.  He protested, but I insisted, for he was Captain
of the 'Varsity XI., and was also so popular that during the next few
weeks he was bound to have plenty of opportunities for thinking of
anything but economy.  Besides, this money had been at times a load on
my conscience.  Economy, either practical or political, has never been
a strong point of mine, but I often regretted that I had during my
first two years bought a number of things which were more or less
useless, because I was not compelled to pay for them at the moment.  My
difficulties were not overwhelming but they were a nuisance, until the
Bishop, who knew both Oxford and me by heart, solved them by giving me
a birthday present.  Every one, however, has not got a convenient
uncle, and without his present I should, owing to the recklessness of
my first two years, have been compelled to leave Oxford with bills
unpaid, and the prospect of a stormy interview with my father in front
of me.  I was so genuinely fond of Oxford, and there are so many
pleasant things to do there, that I should have been very sorry to
leave it with anything hanging over me.

Fast bowlers, both good and bad, were scarce during the whole time I
was up, and I was not altogether surprised when Fred chose me to play
in the Seniors' Match.  In that game I succeeded in getting a few
wickets, and soon afterwards I got my Harlequin cap, which pleased me
hugely.  I am sure that had I not been such an outrageously bad
batsman, Fred would have liked to try me for the 'Varsity, but there
happened to be another man who did not bowl any worse than I did and
who batted much better.  So I was left to bowl for the college, and I
was not altogether sorry, for if Fred had yielded to his feelings and
given me a trial a lot of men would have said it was a swindle.  There
are a number of people in Oxford who spend their time in looking out
for swindles, and of all things in the world they seem to be the
easiest to find.  In Fred's case, however, I should have had a much
better chance of playing if I had not been one of his greatest friends,
for he was the very last man to turn his eleven into a sort of family
party.

Our eight expected to make seven bumps, and succeeded in making five of
them, with which Jack, who rowed six, pretended to be discontented.
But we celebrated those five bumps all right, and altogether the
college was a splendid place to live in.  I stayed in bed much later
than usual on the morning after our second celebration, and I suppose
every one else was sleepy, for I could hear Clarkson calling his boy a
lazy young vagabond, and that always happened when through other
people's laziness the unfortunate boy could not get on with his work.

"Who is up?" Clarkson shouted.

"Nobody," the boy answered.

"Then fetch Mr. Thornton's breakfast," for Thornton had moved into
rooms next to mine at the beginning of the term.

"Mr. Thornton's in bed."

Clarkson stamped heavily.  "What the deuce does he mean by being in
bed?  Go and fetch his breakfast, and don't answer me when I give you
orders."

The boy hurried down the stairs, and I thought Thornton had acted very
unwisely in changing his rooms, for if Clarkson got hold of a man of
whom he could take charge he was quite certain not to miss his chance.
I knew one or two men who lived in greater fear of him than of any don,
and I determined to advise Thornton not to be bullied.  My efforts,
however, were quite useless, for Thornton assured me that he liked our
scout and got a great deal of amusement from him.

"Clarkson knows exactly what is best for himself and me, and he is
always clean," he said.

"He treats his boy abominably," I replied.

"I wonder what you would be like if you were a scout," he said, and as
he obviously thought that I should only be remarkable for my failings,
I gave up trying to talk to him.

Thornton was a great puzzle to me, for his one desire was to be left to
himself, and apart from speaking at debates and belonging to various
literary societies he never seemed to me to do anything.  Murray always
lost his temper with me when I said that Thornton was extraordinarily
odd, and declared that he was one of the cleverest men in the college
and would probably be governing some colony when we had sunk out of
sight.

In some moods Murray was not a cheerful companion, and I could not help
telling him that to be bullied by your scout is not a good preparation
for governing anything.  And as a matter of fact Thornton became
gradually so very eccentric, that even Murray had to admit that if he
was a genius he was one who had lost his way.

After our eight had been successful Jack Ward was very anxious that
they should go to Henley, but both the Bursar, who had done more to
improve our rowing than anybody, and The Bradder wanted them to wait
for another year.

"We shall have nearly the same eight next summer, and two or three good
freshers are coming up," The Bradder argued.

"I shall be in the schools," Jack replied sadly, and though The Bradder
turned away suddenly I saw him smiling, for Jack's essays were some of
the most comical things ever written.

Anything which resembled style he said was unwholesome, and although
Mr. Grace talked to him like a parent and The Bradder tried persuasion
and abuse, he stuck to his solid way of giving information.  But he
confided in me that the reason was that he couldn't write a proper
essay to save his life.

"All I want," he exclaimed, "is a degree, and that's what these men
don't understand.  Besides, I spell badly; it's a disease with me, and
when you have got it, you may be able to think of a word, but you would
be a precious fool to use it when another man has to read what you have
written.  So my vocabulary gets limited, and I'm going to stick to
facts, and I shouldn't wonder if the examiners don't like them.  They
so seldom get them."

I don't think he understood what a very great deal some of the history
men manage to know, but, at any rate, his way of tackling the examiners
was novel, and considering the disease from which he was suffering,
perhaps it was also the best he could choose.  So he went on learning
things by heart, and put up long lists of things on his looking-glass,
or any place where he was likely to see them.  I saw the extraordinary
word "Brom" pinned on to a photograph of Collier, and found out that it
stood for Blenheim, Ramillies, Oudenarde and Malplaquet.

"I can't help thinking that Marlborough finished off with Blenheim,
because it is the sort of battle any one who is not even reading
history has heard of," he explained, "and I have to get that idea out
of my head.  You will find all sorts of funny words stuck about the
place.  I've got 'Kajakk' pinned on to a lobelia in my flower-box,
because I am always leaving out Anne of Cleves; she never seemed to
have a chance, and you must have the man's wives all right."

"Do you think they matter much?" I asked.

"Of course they do.  They are guide-posts to the reign, but they would
do much better if half of them were not Katharines."

I suggested that he should call one of them Kate and another Kathleen
to avoid confusion, but he said that "Kajakk" would pull him through
all right, and that if there was any question about Henry VIII. he did
not mean to miss is.  I am certain that had he been given an
opportunity, the examiners would have had a correct list of these
ladies, with a brief note attached to explain why there were so many of
them.

Soon after the Eights were over, I heard that The Bradder had invited
my people to come up at the end of the term, and as I had never stayed
up for "Commem," I wrote back cheerfully, and said we would enjoy
ourselves.  This letter, however, was answered by my father at once,
and my plans were again thrown into confusion.  "I want you to leave
for Germany when term is over.  To get even a smattering of the
language you must be there nearly three months, and, unless you go
immediately, you will miss all the shooting.  I want you to know three
modern languages well enough to get into the Foreign Office without any
difficulty."  This was the beginning of the longest letter I had ever
had from him, and in many ways the nicest, but I cannot say that I
wanted to spend my summer with a German family, and after consulting
Fred, I went to The Bradder to see if he would not help me to stay in
England.

"I can't read history and learn German at the same time," I said to
him, "and all my work will be wasted unless I do some this vac."

"Your father has evidently made up his mind," he said, but I think that
he must have been sorry for me.

"You write and tell him that I shall forget all I have been doing.  He
will listen to you."

"German is very valuable to you."

"So is history.  How can I be expected to work next year when I am
packed off every summer to live with a lot of people who don't want me?
I get no fun."

"You will like it when you get there, and for this summer you can
manage to do enough history to keep up what you know.  I will help you
as much as I can."

"Why can't I be allowed for once to like a thing in the place where I
want to like it?" I asked, and I nearly told him that environment was
everything, but he did not like those profound statements any better
than I did.  I only saw The Bradder really nasty to one man, and he had
been fool enough to say that the reason why he cut his lectures was
because the whole atmosphere of Oxford was against work, which really
was a sickening sort of excuse.

My attempts to get help from The Bradder failed, and as soon as I had
worked myself up into a rage he began to laugh.

So after one night at home I started to Germany and my people went to
Oxford for "Commem" on the same day, which was a most topsy-turvy state
of things.  Nina promised to write to me, but I did not expect anything
from her except postcards.  I was, however, mistaken, for she wrote me
a kind of "Oxford day by day," which I, struggling with a strange
language in a strange land, was very glad to have.  I don't know
whether The Bradder taught her to refer to the Vice-Chancellor as the
"Vice-Chuggins," but in her description of the Encænia that most
important gentleman was certainly not mentioned with the respect which
I consider that people, who don't belong to Oxford, ought to feel for
him.  In fact Nina succeeded in catching the Oxford language so badly
that she told me that my father had been having "indijuggers," and I am
sure that he would have had a worse attack if he had known what Nina
called it.  I am sorry to say that she treated the Encænia in a very
light and airy way, though some most mightily distinguished men were
receiving honorary degrees at the function.

"I like the Sheldonian because it is so round," she wrote to me, "but I
was not impressed by the Encænia.  The area of the theatre was reserved
for the dons, who wore what I believe you call academic dress, but they
did not look as if they had room enough to be comfortable.  I sat in a
gallery with a lot of people, and there was a man, who somebody told me
was a Pro-proctor--at any rate he wore robes and looked, I thought,
rather nice--to keep order.  You do mix up things queerly at Oxford;
some of the jokes which were made were really not very funny, and
mother was afraid that some one might be offended.  She was quite
nervous.  I liked the Public Orator, who seemed to me to be introducing
the people who were to receive honorary degrees to the Vice-Chuggins,
and I was sorry for the University prizemen, who wore evening dress and
had to read out their prize poems and things.  I couldn't hear a word
the Public Orator said, but perhaps that was because I had a man near
me who made jokes all the time and a bevy of relatives kept up a chorus
of giggles.  Mr. Bradfield had to go to luncheon afterwards at All
Souls.  I met Mr. Ward in the Turl yesterday; he was only up for two or
three hours, and I thought he said he was going to coach.  I am sure he
said something about coaching, and as I remembered how fond he was of
horses I thought he was going for a driving tour.  But it turned out
that he was going to read with somebody; very silly of me.  Do you
remember when he jumped into the 'Cher'?  It seems ages ago.  Mr.
Bradfield punts splendidly, we all like him very much, and father has
dined with the Warden, who had toothache and hardly spoke all the
evening.  Most unfortunate.  We are going to the 'Varsity match, and
Mr. Bradfield says that Fred is the best bat and captain you have had
for ages.  I believe mother nearly fainted with delight when she heard
this.  Mr. Bradfield dances as well as you do."

The next letter Nina wrote was full of The Bradder's perfections, but
in the following one he was scarcely mentioned, and my mother, who had
never seen Oxford in June, was so delighted with everything that she
did not tell me much about anybody.  Still I could not help wondering
what had happened, for Nina was not usually reticent without a reason.



CHAPTER XXIII

OUR LAST YEAR

Fred did not have the satisfaction of seeing his eleven beat Cambridge,
but there had not been such a close finish in a 'Varsity match for
nearly twenty years, and Nina said the excitement was really painful.
"I was quite glad when it was over," she wrote to me.  "Mother never
spoke for quite half-an-hour, and Mr. Bradfield nearly ruined his hat
by constantly taking it off and putting it on again.  I warned him that
he was spoiling it, but he said that such a finish was worth a hat.
And we lost in the end; a big Cambridge man hit a four and father said
awful things at the top of his voice.  Somehow or other that seemed to
relieve everybody.  There was only one other Cambridge man to come in,
and if the big man had been bowled instead of hitting a four it would
have been splendid.  We waited for Fred afterwards and saw him for a
minute.  He said that the big man had been the best cricketer at
Cambridge for four years, and now that he was going down Oxford ought
really to win next year.  Fred was very disappointed, but he told us
that this man was a thoroughly good sort, which annoyed me because I
felt as if he must be perfectly horrid."

If my people could be excited at a cricket match I knew that I had
missed something worth seeing, but when I tried to talk about the
'Varsity match to the only member of my German family who spoke
English, she thought I was explaining lawn tennis to her.  I felt very
sad indeed, and had to go for a long bicycle ride to shake off a
vigorous attack of the blues.

I suppose those months in Germany must have been useful to me, yet in
spite of a great amount of kindness I was very glad when they were
over.  I learned a great deal, I honestly believe, for I often went to
a restaurant and talked politics with three professors, and that is no
mean feat even if you do it in your own language.  For some reason
which I have never been able to understand, these men were very pleased
with me; possibly they liked me because I never agreed with anything
they said.  I asked them to come and see us if they were ever in
England, an invitation given out of joy in wishing them good-bye.  The
prospect of leaving the German language made me very liberal in the way
of invitations to those who spoke it, and if all the people whom I
asked had happened to come at the same time, they would have caused a
considerable sensation in our small household.  There were, however,
dangers in plunging me into foreign families which my father did not
discover; for I like everybody so much, when I am leaving them, that I
feel certain that they are the nicest people in the world.  I had not
been at home for a day before I found out that something very like a
mystery had attached itself to The Bradder, so I went to my mother and
asked her what had happened.

"I meant to tell you," she answered.  "My dear, he wants to marry Nina,
we were quite astonished."  I did not think Nina would have cared to
hear that.  "He was here for a fortnight, but we never suspected
anything, Nina is so very young.  It only happened a week ago."

"Are they engaged?"

"No, we thought it best that there should be no engagement for at least
a year.  I hope we decided right, for I must have time to think about
Nina being the wife of a don.  I think they are very much in love with
one another."

"Nina is not so very young."

"Very young to be the wife of a don," my mother replied, and I believe
that she thought such a lady, to be suitable, ought to have numbered at
least forty years.

"The Bradder would have to go out of college if he married," I said;
"we shan't get such another man in a hurry," but my mother did not
think this as important as I did.

When I talked to Nina about this new state of things she was very
disappointed to find that I was not surprised.  She seemed to think
that I was depriving her of something due to her, but her letters had
made me think that something startling was going to happen, and I was
prepared for almost anything.

"Our engagement is not to be announced for a year," Nina said.

"I thought there wasn't any engagement," I answered.

"There isn't, until it is announced, but we have quite made up our
minds," and then she took my arm and I listened to a glorification of
The Bradder.  "He is very fond of you," it finished up, and that is all
I can remember of it.

"I am glad of that, as he is my tutor and is going to be my
brother-in-law," I said.

"You don't seem to see how happy I am," Nina answered.  "I wanted to
telegraph to you at once."

"I am most tremendously glad you are happy.  The Bradder's a splendid
man," I said, and added, "I should like to tell Fred directly he comes
next week."

"Yes, tell him," she replied, "but he won't mind; perhaps I oughtn't to
say that, but I know that you think he will.  Fred's a dear, he's just
like another brother."

"For pity's sake don't say that to him," I exclaimed.

"Of course I shan't say anything to him, but he will understand all
right," and I gathered that if he could not understand it was my duty
to make him, which, considering how peculiarly he had behaved to Jack,
I did not expect to be an easy matter.  But there was a difference
between Fred and Nina, for he seemed to fall out of love as he grew
older, while she fell in.  I don't know enough about such things to say
whether he was ever actually in the state called "in love," but I do
know that he was inclined to regard Nina with a jealous eye, and that I
suffered many unpleasant moments in consequence.  So I drove down to
the station to meet him and intended to break the news to him gently,
but we had such a lot of other things to talk about that I had not
mentioned Nina, except to say that she was well, when we met her in the
drive.  Fred got out of the dog-cart to speak to her, and I, having
totally neglected my mission, was wise enough to disappear for an hour.

In that time he must have found out what had happened, for when we were
left alone in the smoking-room after dinner and I was wondering whether
I had better begin the gentle process, which I was sure I should muddle
hopelessly, he said, "It will take me some time to get used to the idea
of Nina marrying a don."

"I meant to tell you as we drove down, but I forgot clean all about
it," I answered.

"Bradfield's a good sort, isn't he?  It would be a most vile shame if
he isn't."

"He's a splendid chap."

"I saw him with Nina at Lord's, and I got a kind of idea into my head
then.  He looks all right anyhow."

"He is all right."

Fred sat and smoked for ages without saying a word, which made me
uneasy.

"Don't you feel horribly old?" he said to me at last.  "This is a kind
of end to all the good time we have had here.  I mean that everything
will be different; I can't imagine Nina being married."

"She won't be for ages, and when she is it will be just the same," I
answered.  "The Bradder's the best sort in the world, except you.
Let's go to bed, we have to shoot to-morrow."

I stayed in Fred's room, however, for a long time, and I expect some of
the things we said would have amused those who can jump without regret
from one state of things to another.  But all the same this talk did us
good, for we finished off the subject of Nina's engagement at one
sitting, and Fred pleased me by saying that he must have been a fool to
hate Jack Ward so violently.  That told me all I wanted to know, and
though he was not in very good spirits for a day or two he soon
recovered, and I believe that Nina and he enjoyed themselves more than
they ever had since they began to wonder whether they were grown up or
not.

Before going back to Oxford Fred and I went to stay with Mr. Sandyman,
our old house-master at Cliborough.  I had been to Cliborough several
times since I left school, but my first visits made me feel almost sad.
The glory of being a blue, and I could not help feeling it, was not
enough compensation for the way in which I seemed to have entirely
dropped out of things.  I loved Cliborough, and when you are fond of
places or people it is horrid to see that they can get on quite well
without you.  You may not be forgotten, but you must necessarily cease
to count for much, and it was not until I went back after having left
for three years that I was quite happy there.  Our feelings--for Fred
felt as I did--may have been wrong, but no one would have them who was
not fond of their school and who did not in some way or other wish to
be worthy of it.  Sandy was as nice to us as possible, and it was quite
funny to see what a hero Fred was thought to be by some of the fellows
in our house.  I think I was regarded as a hero more or less decayed,
but Fred nearly reinstated me by saying that I was the fastest bowler
he had ever played against, and by forgetting to add further details.

We went back to Oxford from Cliborough, and during my last year I saw
more of Fred than ever, for in nearly every college men in their fourth
year have to go into lodgings, and Jack and I took rooms in the same
house in the High as Fred and Henderson.  Fred was President of
Vincent's, Henderson was to be captain of the 'Varsity XI., and Jack
was immediately put into one of the trial Eights and finally, rowed six
in the winning boat.  The shadow of approaching examinations was over
all of us except Henderson, who was not reading for Honours, and had
nothing but two papers on political economy between him and a degree.
But I should not think any four men ever got on together better than we
did, and the mere sight of Jack was enough to make any one feel
cheerful.  He had fairly and squarely found himself at last, and
whether he was sitting in front of piles of books or getting up and
going to bed at strange times because he was in training, he was an
endless delight to all of us.  His methods of reading history made Fred
laugh so much that I thought he might possibly abandon them, but
nothing would persuade him that his road to a degree was not the safest
he could take.  On one subject Jack only opened his heart to me.  He
had set his mind on getting into the 'Varsity Eight, and his keenness
was terrific.  I assured him time after time that he must have a
splendid chance of his blue, but I don't believe that the mere fact of
getting his blue meant very much to him.  He wanted to show his people
and his college that he could really do something.

"If I could only get into the 'Varsity boat I should have done
something," he said to me, "because I'm not a natural oar.  I have to
learn it all, and it's frightfully hard work remembering all you're
told.  Some of you men think a fellow who rows is just a machine, but
it's not so easy to become a good machine."

To Fred and Henderson he hardly ever mentioned the river, but they knew
how desperately keen he was, and when he was tried in the 'Varsity boat
at four, during the beginning of the Lent Term, we all hoped most
vigorously that he would keep his place.  For nearly a fortnight the
same crew rowed every day, but neither the President nor the Secretary
had yet taken their places, and I was in a state of terror that Jack
would have to go when they went into the boat.  The Secretary, however,
took his place and Jack remained where he was, and a few days
afterwards the President went in at seven, seven went to three, and one
unfortunate man disappeared.  Then we openly rejoiced, and at the
beginning of Lent Jack was told to go into training.  We had a mild
celebration on the evening of Shrove Tuesday, and Bunny Langham, who
had been President of the Union and had developed a habit of making
very long speeches, for which he apologized by saying that he believed
in heredity, came round and helped to make a noise.  Whenever he got
the ghost of an opportunity he began to congratulate Jack, and he
required a very great deal of suppressing.

For a whole week Jack rowed in the boat, and then he had a sudden
attack of influenza.  Somehow or other I had never thought it possible
that he could be ill, and I have never seen any one hurry up so much to
get well again.  In ten days he was nearly all right, but when he was
put back into the boat he said he felt miserably weak, and I think he
went to work to prepare himself for a disappointment.  At any rate when
it came Jack took his luck like a hero, for hardly anything more
crushing could have happened to him just then.  I must say that the
President was as kind about it as any man could be; he knew what it
meant to Jack, and his sympathy was very real.  But Jack himself
surprised all of us, he seemed to throw the whole thing behind him, and
I never heard him complain of anything except his wretched illness.

"I shall be fit next term," he said, "and if we get our boat near the
head of the river again it won't be so bad after all."

My last year in rooms with Fred, Jack and Henderson was the best of
four good years at Oxford.  Everything, except Jack's luck, was so
exactly right, and I was most delightfully happy.  The college was
doing as well as we could want, and most of the dons, led I am certain
by The Bradder, behaved splendidly.  The Freshers' Wine became an
organized institution and ceased to be a sort of "hole and corner"
entertainment, at which every one made a most horrible noise because
they ought not to have made any at all.  In my spare time, and I had
not much, I caught myself regretting that I had ever been stupid enough
to carry on long battles with Mr. Edwardes, it seemed to me that I
might have been more peaceful, but the fact remains that he and I were
not made for each other.

Until the time began to grow near for me to go down from Oxford I never
felt as strong an affection for the 'Varsity as I had for Cliborough.
I think the reason was that Oxford is such a huge place, that it took
me some time to realize how splendid it is.  I missed the feeling of
unity which there was at Cliborough, and I supplied my loss by going
furiously to work in trying to make the college less slack.  Certainly
St. Cuthbert's, owing more to Jack's efforts than mine, had changed
very much, but in setting our minds absolutely on one thing for two
years we had missed a lot, even if we had been successful in what we
wanted to do.  Our last year, however, made up for everything, and when
we came back for the summer term examinations had lost their horrors,
and the only thing I regretted was that in eight short weeks my time at
Oxford would be over.

The Bradder, who watched over me like a prospective brother-in-law,
encouraged me to think that I should not do very badly in the
"schools," but I think he was rather agitated when Henderson chose me
to play for the 'Varsity against the Gentlemen of England, and in a
very bad light I got more wickets than I ever expected to get in a
first-class match.  That performance gave me a good start in the
'Varsity XI., and The Bradder was desperately afraid that I should stop
reading altogether.  But Fred and Jack were both hard at work, and
except on one evening a week Henderson had to go into a separate room
when he wanted to entertain his numerous friends.  Jack rowed in our
Eight, and they went up to fourth.  They would have been second if they
had been lucky, but as it was they intended to go to Henley.

I think that I was fortunate in having to struggle for my blue during
my last term, for this gave me so much to think about that I escaped
some of the feelings which Fred had about leaving Oxford.  I felt that
I was by no means ready to go, but I was also desperately eager to get
into the XI., and that I knew would not be decided until the term was
over.  One leaves Oxford slowly, if I may express it so; you have to
come back for a _vivâ voce_, and then for your degree; there is no
abrupt break as there is at school, and the fact that I was playing for
the 'Varsity after the term was over, helped me more than it did Fred,
who had played in the XI. for three years.  Nearly every Sunday
afternoon during May and June, Fred and I quite solemnly went out for a
walk together, and we nearly always found ourselves by the river.  I
believe this was because we were never tired of looking at Corpus and
Merton from the Christchurch meadows.  There is no view so keenly
rooted in my memory as this, nor one which I am so glad to look upon
again.  I don't care in the least whether it is the most beautiful in
Oxford or not, for it means something to me, and you can ask no more
from a view than that.  I can never look at it without remembering many
things which were all of them very pleasant, and Oxford is the place to
build up memories.

The term slipped by far too fast, and we found ourselves plunged into
the schools.  For once in my life I should have been glad not to see
the sun, but the week during which we had to put on paper the results
of over two years' work was most cruelly hot, and all of us were glad
when it was over.  It is no use guessing how you have done in honour
schools, for those who think they have got a first are too often
surprised when the lists come out, and unless you are going to guess
something nice, it is much better to leave it alone altogether.  With
one consent Fred, Jack and I refused to talk about our chances, and set
out to enjoy the few days which remained to us without being harrowed
by doubts and fears.  I did, however, have secret dips into a political
economy book, for I thought if the examiners shared my opinion they
would wonder how little of this subject I knew.  I couldn't keep away
from the wretched thing, try as I would, and was always reading "Adam
Smith" and "Walker" at odd moments.  I think my nerves must have been
upset.

Directly after the schools were over, Jack and I had to go to a dinner
which Murray got up.  I was ready to go to anything, but I had no idea
that this was a sort of entertainment organized in honour of us until I
got to it.  The Bradder took the chair, and I am sure that I tried to
feel grateful to Murray, but if you don't care much about being set on
a small pedestal it is very hard to pretend that you do.  I did,
however, enjoy that dinner because every one was so very cheerful, and
I made a speech which lasted--counting the applause--nearly ten
minutes.  The Bradder spoke more about Jack than me, which was very
thoughtful of him, and Jack told me afterwards that this evening almost
made up for having missed his blue.  The things which were said about
him took him most completely by surprise, and the fact that he was
really appreciated and that the college owed something to him, sent him
off to Henley a happier man than he had ever been in his life.

My place in the eleven was in doubt until the last game before the
'Varsity match, and then I bowled one of the best batsmen in England--I
must add off his pads--and got three men caught in the slips.
Henderson gave me my blue in the pavilion at Lord's and simply banged
me on the back as he did it, a very unorthodox and pleasant ending to
what had been a great anxiety.  Fred, too, was most uproariously
delighted, and I should think that some of the people, who seem to
think that the pavilion at Lord's is a kind of cathedral, must have
decided that the Oxford XI. had suddenly gone mad.  But I disentangled
myself after a time from men who wanted to congratulate me, and started
sending telegrams.  I was guilty at that moment of trying to think of
people to whom I could telegraph with decency, but I had wanted to play
against Cambridge very much.  We had been beaten in all the last three
matches, and as Fred had never really played well at Lord's, I think
some men were inclined to say that he was not anything like as good a
cricketer as he was supposed to be.  But in this match he settled that
question once and for ever.  We went in first and started terribly,
Henderson was caught at the wicket, and another man was bowled before
we had made a run.  I could not have smiled at the best joke in the
world.  Then Fred and a left-hander got well set, and before we had
finished our total was over 350.  Fred never gave a chance until he had
made well over a hundred, and though some men told me that he was out
l.b.w. at least four times, there are always plenty of people who think
that they know more than the umpires.

The Cambridge men failed in the first innings, and I only bowled six
overs, which annoyed my mother and Nina, because they said that I was
there to bowl.  But after Cambridge went in again they played an uphill
game most splendidly, and my people had plenty of opportunity to see me
bowl.  I got four men out, and Henderson was very pleased with me, but
I was not a first-class bowler, though I tried hard to look like one.
We had nearly two hundred runs to win, and I confess that I was afraid
that I might have to go in when there were two or three runs still
wanted.  In the first innings my efforts as a batsman had been brief
and glorious, I had received three balls, two of which I had hit to the
boundary and the third I meant to go to the same place, only somebody
caught it.  I hoped sincerely that my part in the 'Varsity match was
over, but whenever a wicket fell I had a very bad moment.  I did not,
however, have to make that long journey from the pavilion to the
wickets again, for Henderson, who kept himself back in the second
innings, played beautifully, and we won with some wickets in hand.  I
don't want to forget the wholesome thrill which I had when Henderson
made the winning stroke, and I am quite certain that I never shall
forget it.

My father and mother, too, were pleased, and I was very glad to see
their delight, for I thought that I might have added more to their
anxiety than to their pleasure during the last four years.

In July both Fred and Jack came to stay with me, because in a few weeks
I had to start on one of my journeys in search of a language which I
did not know.  I wanted Jack to be with us when the History List came
out, in case anything disastrous should happen.  But Jack had filled
himself so full of facts that when the telegram from the Clerk of the
Schools came he was delighted to find that he had got a third, and he
declared that I must be a genius to have got a second, but that was
only his way of expressing his surprise.  The Greats' List was a
triumph for St. Cuthbert's, Murray and five other men getting firsts.
Fred got a second, and considering that he had been playing footer and
cricket for the 'Varsity so much, everybody thought that he had done
most thoroughly well.  Cliborough was so satisfied with him that he was
offered a mastership at once, which was a stroke of luck both for Fred
and the school.

Nothing remained for us to do except to take our degrees, and we
arranged with Henderson that we should go back together once more and
take them at the same time.  I think that we clung to that expedition
as our last remaining link with the 'Varsity.  But there is a link,
which those who learn to love Oxford, as Fred, Jack and I loved her,
cannot break; it is the debt which we owe to her, for we shall never be
able to repay it in full.



THE END



  RICHARD CLAY & SONS, LIMITED,
  BREAD STREET HILL, E.C., AND
  BUNGAY, SUFFOLK.



By the same author

GODFREY MARTEN: SCHOOLBOY

WITH EIGHT ILLUSTRATIONS BY GORDON BROWNE

_In one vol., cloth, gilt edges, price 5s._


Some Press Opinions

The Spectator:--"The book is extremely good reading from end to end; it
abounds in entertaining and exciting episodes, is wholly void of
sentimentality, and enforces in the most unmistakable and wholesome way
the duty of straight and manly conduct."

The Standard:--"Boys will be delighted with this faithful record of
public school life.  It shows up without the smallest priggishness, or
the least hint of lecturing or sermonising, that side of the English
public school of which we are so proud--the fine, broad standard of a
gentleman that the well-bred boy sets up for himself."

The Daily Telegraph:--"_Godfrey Marten, Schoolboy_, may rank with the
very small number of books which treat successfully of boy-life....  It
is a bright, stirring story, and should find a hearty welcome."

Morning Post:--"_Godfrey Marten_ will rejoice the heart of many a lad.
Mr. Turley knows boys and writes lovingly of them.  His story is
vivacious, the heroes are real live ones, the style is racy and true to
reality in its descriptions of masters, boys and sports, and even in
its use of school slang, the book throughout is clean, wholesome and
manly."

The Times:--"Returning to Mr. Turley's book after a year's interval we
are more than ever taken by its quiet, unassuming merits and a certain
insidious charm.  Thinking over other school books we can recall
nothing nearer to boy nature than this, nor any that has greater
interest as a story."

The Guardian:--"The book is a wholesome one; the boys are gentlemen,
the games are described with spirit, and some of the difficulties of
public school life are treated in a healthy and helpful way.  Moreover
it is written for boys rather than about them, and the author succeeds
in looking at things from a boy's point of view."



LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN, 21, Bedford Street, W.C.





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