Heaven Lies About Us


WHEN you told a boy you’d meet him at Joe Andrew’s Stone, he knew well enough what you meant; for to us the Stone was a landmark as geographically important as the Cape or the Horn to more distant wanderers.

Our street was short, but nevertheless it was cleft in twain by another street that ran across it. Standing there at the crossroad, looking to one end of our street and then to the other, you would see little to choose. The houses were identical. Each one of them contained a sitting room, a kitchen, and a scullery downstairs, a stairway that ran up between walls with no banister or rail, and two bedrooms.

At each end of the street you would see a high wall, closing the uninspiring view, so that whether, coming into the street from the crossroad, you turned right or left, you were in a dead end.

Nothing to choose, then, looking from the crossroad. Yet in our end of the street the other end was always spoken of as The Other End. We understood, yet knew not why we understood, that The Other End was nefarious and evil. ‘Don’t go down The Other End,’ my mother would say; and I remember as one of the queer facts of childhood that, for all the years I lived in the street, not once did I go down The Other End.

Joe Andrew’s public house stood at the intersection of the roads; and in a corner of the wall was the tar-blackened buttress that was Joe Andrew’s Stone. The fathers of the street met in Joe Andrew’s bright bar; the boys consorted each night at the Stone.

Thence we ranged on our simple pleasures. It was unfortunate for Mr. Hann that every time the door of his corner shop was opened a bell rang. He would come from the parlor behind the shop, rubbing his hands in his apron in expectation of some such petty sale as his miserable stock permitted, and find a grinning row of young fiends chanting:—

‘Hann, Hann,
Catch us if you can.’

He would fling up the flap of the counter and plunge spasmodically towards us, only to find that his quarry had disappeared into the dark lane that ran behind our street with the electric speed of a shoal of minnows among whom a stone has been dropped.

But Hann was a tactician ever alert to devise new methods of outwitting his tormentors. His first essay at countermeasures was a long cane, concealed behind the row of glass jars that shone with all the delectable and deceptive colors of cheap confectionery. Emerging from the parlor one night, he feigned a dull stupidity as he stared at ten dancing impudent eyes set in five impertinent faces; then with lightning speed grabbed the cane, threw his body across the counter, and slashed.

It taught us caution; we hovered nearer the door next night, more swiftly poised for flight. Alas, that it did not suggest something of the cunning of our enemy. For not long after that, no sooner did the bell ring and we stand there gazing with unholy rapture at the lighted panes of the parlor door, than Hann leapt from concealment behind a parapet of sacks loaded to their chins with split peas and potatoes; and there, for the first time in our experience, was the baited bear plumb among the terriers. He seized me in a grip of iron, bent me in one masterly stroke across his knee, and with a flat brush, designed for the sweeping of carpets but, alas, not ill-adapted to more lethal ends, proceeded to demonstrate the inadequacy of my trousers.

Perhaps it was this revelation of Hann’s readiness to meet enterprise with craft that turned our thoughts for much of that winter to the safer delights of Rap-tap-ginger — a game simple enough, God knows, consisting, in its crude and inartistic form, of merely banging on the neighbors’ knockers and crying ‘Rap-tap-ginger’ as you fled from the wrath to come.

It was Joe Blain, ever an alert and enterprising mind, who raised this horseplay to the status of an eerie art. A neighboring street was well designed to meet the needs of the case, for the houses on one side of the street were flat to the pavement, while on the other side were niggardly yards of blackened earth where privets pushed an untidy growth against the rails.

A piece of blackened string was fastened to a knocker, the string was carried to our ambush behind the privets, and a pull set the knocker at work. Again and again some wretched householder was drawn from the peace and comfort of his fireside; and we, trembling behind the privets, savored to the full a deep conviction that that householder must sooner or later attribute the knockings to a ghostly agency.

Running Round the Block was another joy of winter nights, the competitors starting from the same point and running in opposite directions. We had paced the track and marked with white chalk the halfway point; and what horror it was to find that your opponent was past the point — five, ten, or fifteen yards — before you reached it! How, then, your heart pumped, and you urged your feet, cased in heavy hobnailed boots, to a tremendous endeavor! Awful those moments of isolation, not seeing your flying foe, but knowing that not far away he too was panting his young heart out, bent on adding insolence to victory by running out to meet you!

But perhaps our greatest joy was that which depended on awful and grisly provision. Not far away was the slaughterhouse, to which, in defiance of all rules and orders, we would often creep in, drawn by the repulsion of its dreadful sights and sounds and smells. In our street there lived a man who gained his living in that shambles, and we would waylay his homeward march and beg the boon of a pig’s bladder.

He was an apparition from Hell, a little shambling man with a squint, whose clothes and hands were always imbued with blood. I could never see him without a shudder; but he was kind enough, and always our petition would be granted. Taking a bloody mess from his pocket, he would throw it to us, and there were, fortunately, boys who, with no qualms at all, would blow it up; and then the game would be on.

Playing football with a pig’s bladder, enclosed in no leather case, is an exercise fit for fairies, and goodness knows there were no fairies among us. The game soon ended either with the bursting of the ball or with the sudden appearance of the sergeant of police.

One moment he was not; and the next, lo! in all his panoply he was materializing in the misty winter night. I have at this distance of time no difficulty in supposing that he was a simple and humane being; but then his mere appearance convinced us all of unimaginable guilt, and, taking to our heels, we would run till he was out of sight, and then steal home by the darkest and most devious ways. No citizen as law-abiding as myself has fled the officers of the law through so many terror-stricken miles.


Terror is a dreadful companion once you have admitted him to your heart. From the start, there was terror for me in our street. The Other End held terrors unguessed. The women sitting on their doorsteps in the hot summer nights might have been hags from Hell; the men, with their cruelly buckled leather belts, lounging towards Joe Andrew’s pub, looked fierce and inimical; and old Pheney, who lived opposite to us, and set out every morning with a great basket of crockery on his head to cry his wares about the streets, seemed always to me a presence to be peculiarly dreaded. Never once in my young life did I speak a word to old Pheney, or he to me; yet it would not have surprised me had he suddenly swooped upon me and subjected me to diabolic torture.

And this is how the Terror came to me. I do not know how old I was when we went to the street, but I must have been five or six. We shifted, as poor people do, with the aid of a handcart. My father carted such furniture as there was from the old house to the new one in a series of journeys, and on one of those journeys he took me and my brother with him. He took us into the kitchen, and sat us side by side on his old wooden armchair. Then he left us, and went away for another cartload.

It was wintertime, and the night was coming on. We were alone in that strange dark house. A glimmer of fire burned in the grate on our right; in front of us was an uncurtained window, giving upon blackness. The stairs in that house always creaked. They creaked of their own accord without anyone setting foot upon them. They creaked that night. We sat there, two babes in the wood of Terror, clutching one another, speaking no word, looking at the dark window and listening to the stairs creaking.

Then through the night there boomed suddenly the sound of a great drum beating. Loud voices were upraised singing ‘The Lamb, the Lamb, the bleeding Lamb,’ and upon them all burst a greater voice that shrieked through the night, ‘The Blood!’

Still we spoke no word. We sat and trembled in that forlorn and empty house, and listened to the voice crying ‘The Blood!’

We soon got to know it as a regular performance: that arrival of the Salvation Army outside Joe Andrew’s pub, the rush from the bar of Mrs. Murphy, the street’s most notorious drunkard. The singing of the hymns converted her every time she heard them; crying upon the Blood, she would rush forth, join the singers, march with them to their barracks, and be at Joe’s again the next night.

So the Terror came to the street. Always to me the house in some sort was haunted. Sleepless, I would listen to the stairs creaking below me; to the thudding of the drum, to the cries upon the Blood; and to these were added now and then the shrieks of beaten women, the commotion of the arriving police; and then, when everything else was quiet, again the stairs would creak as though impalpable beings had weight and were ascending and descending.


For years, on Sunday nights, we sat around the fire and read. My father sat in his armchair on the right. My mother sat facing him in a low rocking chair. Between them was a long wooden backless bench on which we all sat: my sisters, my brother, and I.

It was cosy enough in the kitchen then. There was a lamp hanging to a nail in the wall: a tin lamp, a glass chimney with no shade, a reflector of polished tin. We read The Pilgrim’s Progress and Robinson Crusoe, and many another good book, because my father abhorred rubbish. He would read a little; then, one by one, the children would take their turns. If we mispronounced a word once, he would correct us irritably; if twice, he would clout us across the head. So we became acquainted with wholesome English.

He was an irritable man. I can remember only one occasion when I was conscious, in the fullest sense, of enjoying his company. I was a child just recovered from the only serious illness I have had in my life. I had been in bed for a long time, and my life was despaired of. I lived in a little cotton-wool jacket, and a Queen Victoria nurse came in every day. One of the boys whom I was accustomed to meet at the Stone sent me a present. It was a minnow in a Rose’s lime juice cordial bottle — one of those absurdly long bottles with a neckopening no wider round than a shilling. But there the minnow was in the bottle beside my bed to remind me of streams and fields. I do not think that to this day a more thoughtful gift has been made to me.

I recovered; and I recall walking on thin tottery legs, very slowly, in the street, holding my father’s hand. He met a neighbor, and even now I can hear him say, ‘You see, he’s better,’ and feel again the thrill that filled my heart at the swift consciousness that he was glad I was better, that I meant something to the silent, aloof, and enigmatic being who was my father.

His trade was that of a man who did such jobs as he could get in gardens. He had a printed card which set forth in terms worthy of a Micawber the multiplicity of his qualifications. He was — on this card — first and foremost a landscape gardener, by which, no doubt, he meant that if the Duke of Devonshire had offered him the overlordship of Chatsworth he would with serene confidence have done with the job what he could. From that peak he descended to the plain of a straightforward offer to make asphalt paths, supply gravel, design and lay out gardens or tend them, and to provide turf in any quantity.

In practice, it came to little more than such jobs as any laborer might do; and long after he was dead my mother told me that, taking one week with another, he supplied her with about a pound a week throughout their married life. Nine children were born of the marriage; seven grew to manhood and womanhood.

He was very proud of his tools and was forever oiling their shafts and polishing the blades, which all too often were not shining from use. He had a branding iron with which he would burn his name into all he possessed; not only on to the shafts of tools, but on to the legs of tables, the bench we sat on for the readings, and all sorts of other improbable places.

I recall a night when there was gladness because, after being out of work for a long time, he had some shabby little job to start on the morrow. He made great play of assembling spade and rake, turf-cutting iron, a huge pounding weapon which he himself had fabricated from a block of teak, and much else. A neighbor came in then, asking the loan of a spade for a friend who, also, had been fortunate enough to find some work in a garden. My father heaped all his tools into the man’s arms. ‘Give him these,’ he said.

And when, the man being gone, my mother protested, he made no answer, which was his front to all complaints, but, smoking his clay pipe as silently as an Indian, sulked in his chair.

‘God help us,’ said my mother. ‘You’ll be the ruin of us all.’


Many a day I spent with him in gardens or in the fields where he cut his turf. We would take our dinner with us, and tea and sugar in a tin can whose lid was used as a cup. When the time for the meal came, I would be sent to the nearest house to ask for hot water ‘for the gardener.’ Never did anyone refuse, though we had no claim upon the people who lived there.

With a tool which he called a halfmoon he would cut down through the turf, drawing long parallel lines, then slice lines crosswise, till the whole area was marked out in long oblongs of about one foot by three. Then he would use the tool which slid beneath the turf, loosening it from the chocolate-brown earth; and it was my job to roll the turfs then till they were like big Swiss rolls, and pile them side by side. He promised me again and again that he would pay me a penny a hundred; but never a penny did I get. He must have had few enough pennies for himself; and with such as he had he would visit the secondhand bookstalls in the market, bringing home for himself, perhaps, some such book as the battered version of Paradise Lost — the only one of his books which I still possess — and for us a Swiss Family Robinson or Tom Jones.

Save for the occasions of the readings, he was taciturn, morose, and reserved, rarely stirring from his fireside chair in the kitchen, where he wrapped himself in aloofness and tobacco smoke. Never, I should think, was there a family which knew less about its own father. My mother told me that even to her he had never spoken a word concerning himself, save to tell her that, as a boy, he ran away from his home in County Cork.

Because I knew so little of him, and because, even when I accompanied him, I was in no sense with him, I recall the more vividly a Sunday walk when the barrier came near to obliteration. We stood on the top of a hilly field, with young spring woods greening on the right hand and the left. There were cowslips growing in the field and a stream at its foot where kingcups opened their golden saucers upon the water. The whole day was full of birdsong and the quavering cries of Iambs. I remember how my father stood there on the top of the hilly field, bareheaded, holding my hand; and when I looked up into his face I saw with a shock that there were tears behind his eyes. Brusquely then he urged me down the field to where, at the bottom, a man was turning the handle of a turnip-cutting machine. He and my father talked of the weather and this and that, as strangers will, while I munched a long finger of turnip.

It cannot have been long after that that he died. My brother and I were taken in to see him lying in his coffin; and when we were in bed that night we fell to arguing about the number of small pearl buttons that had fastened the top of the shroud. We crept out of bed and into his room to settle the matter.

After the funeral, I walked out to Fairwater to collect the wages due for the last job he had done. We could not afford to let those few shillings slide; and week after week thereafter I called every Saturday at a small grocer’s shop to pay something off the bill. We began to get straight as soon as he was gone. God rest his soul! He was a lonely and unhappy man.


There were many ways of adding small sums to a family’s income. Joe Blain, who brought ghostly complication to the simple game of Rap-tap-ginger, had a handcart made of a box fixed to the wheels of a perambulator. On the side he had painted: —


Joe had discovered the fecundity of rats and the irresistibility of the pink eyes that looked out over the soft pointed snouts. Any boy who coveted one of Joe’s rats had to pay heavily in junk: any sort of old iron, jam jars, rags, bones, or bottles. These he conveyed in his handcart to the marine-store dealer’s.

We, lacking his imagination and enterprise, acted on the simple commercial principle of buying a thing and then selling it for rather more than it had cost. Behind the high wall which made our end of the street a cul-de-sac there was a sawyer’s yard, presided over by a patriarchal old man whose flowing beard was always powdered with sawdust. It was a good place to visit, that woodyard, with its rich resinous scents, its chugging steam engine, its whining circular saw, and its good-natured old proprietor who was always willing to give sawdust for nothing to boys who owned rats, mice, or rabbits.

His son, who ran the engine, was something of a celebrity with us because once, taking the saw in his father’s absence, he had sliced one of his fingers clean off.

There we bought wood: planks sawn into pieces that were approximately a foot square. Our only contribution to increasing their value consisted in chopping each piece into a dozen sticks and tying the sticks up into bundles. There was always a perambulator knocking about the house, and that made a goodenough hawker’s cart. From door to door in the better-class streets that were not far away we would hawk our firewood and add about 50 per cent to the capital invested in the enterprise.

Rhubarb, in its season, was another line of ours, and one that I preferred, because it meant an early call at the market gardens, where everything smelt fresh and dewy. To sell rhubarb, you had to be an early bird — earlier than the orthodox greengrocers who came about the streets with their carts. So we would go to the gardens before breakfast, and we were always told to pull our own supplies. That was an agreeable thing to do, sinking your hands deep amid the wet lush leaves and pulling at the stalks that came away with a ripe sucking sound. Then home to breakfast, a hasty bundling of the rhubarb, and off on the round.

When winter set in I became engaged as a regular Saturday errand boy at the greengrocer’s and fishmonger’s. Before there was light in the sky I would be at the shop, where a natty little pony was pawing the ground, harnessed to a light cart. The greengrocer was a woman, and a devil of a driver. Already she would be waiting, reins in her fingers, and no sooner had I leapt up beside her than we were off with a jingle of harness and a brisk cloppity-clop of the pony’s hoofs.

I loved those rides, though to this day I can feel the bitter tingling in my feet that did not reach down to the friendly straw strewn on the floor. The sharp air cut like whips, but what of that when such a gallant drive was forward! Over the river bridge we went before a soul was stirring, and into the heart of the town. There in Custom House Street, which is Cardiff’s Covent Garden, I held the pony while the woman chaffered over boxes of kippers and crates of oranges, sacks of potatoes, and all the ingredients of her picturesque calling.

Dead though the city might be elsewhere, Custom House Street was wideawake, full of champing horses, and rattling harness, and shouting men; and the pavements exhaled into the still frosty air their unforgettable smell of trodden vegetable garbage.

Back then we would rattle as briskly as we had come, the lash lightly stroking the pony’s flank as he tore past the gray face of the workhouse behind the elms that were winter-bare. Then, after a cup of tea in the parlor behind the shop, we would open up for business, and the day degenerated into a prosaic lugging of baskets about the streets, delivering the three-pennorths of this and that which housewives were too lazy or too proud to carry for themselves.

At 11 P.M., while the gas flares were still sizzling in the shop, I would be sent home after a sixteen-hour day with a shilling for wages and a couple of herrings for charity. I had no complaints to make, for a sumptuous midday dinner was thrown in, too.

I liked that job, but lost it through ambition. A scholarship examination was held one Saturday, and in order to sit, my employer having refused me permission, I took French leave. I did not win the scholarship, but I was given the sack.


All these money-making enterprises were engaged in on Saturdays, for we were still at school. Not that school and money-making could not be combined. My brother and one of my sisters used to get up very early, do an hour’s work at a large house which provided them with breakfast, and be at school like the rest of us at nine.

I have no affection for the only school I ever knew. It was a gaunt and dismal barrack, full of stone stairs that echoed coldly to the clang of hobnailed boots. It was honeycombed with classrooms, and into each classroom fifty or sixty children were herded twice daily.

Our little mob was usually early before the gates, supported by a conviction, which had no warrant so far as I know, that at 8.30 the right of entry was ours. Just inside the great iron gates was the caretaker’s house, and as soon as the caretaker was espied, walking wearily from the school to his own door, laden with brushes and pans, a shrill chorus would break out, as thin hands rattled the bars: —

’Half-past eight, Mr. Haywood.
Open the gate, Mr. Haywood.’

This chant would be monotonously maintained till in desperation Haywood would open the gate and spring deftly aside from the stampede.

I do not know why it was, but the first rush was always to what were incorrectly called the lavatories, outbuildings in the far corner of the yard. More understandably, this was the immediate objective at the midmorning break. Down the stone stairs we would run with a hellish clatter, across the graveled yard, and into the lavatories. If a boy was first in, and first out again, he would stand without the wall triumphantly crowing, ‘First in! First out!’ though a poorer cause for boasting I have never known. But that, in our school, was one of the ingredients of prestige.

The most popular game in the schoolyard bore the strange name of Bumberino. Sides were chosen, and about six boys made a team. A boy, tucking his head well down, would grasp a waterspout. The next would grasp this bending boy round the waist, the third would grasp the second, and so on, till the whole team made a line of bent backs and had the appearance of a strange and rather tall caterpillar. Then No. 1 of the opposing team, taking a run of ten yards, would make a leapfrog jump, landing as far as possible along the line of backs. No. 2 would follow, and soon the whole team was astride its opponents, and as each leap was made the leaper would yell: ’Bumbcrino!'

Then the leapers would comport themselves as violently as they knew how, hurling themselves up and down on the bent bodies below them, doing all they could to bring about their fall. But the horses — as the leapt-on team was called — would yell, ‘ Strong horses! Strong horses!’ as long as they could stay upright and gasp a word; and when at last they crashed — and sooner or later crash they must — the riders shouted, ’Weak horses! Weak horses!’ and took their turn to be leapt upon. A strange game, which I have never seen played elsewhere.

Mr. Flegg, the headmaster, had made a rule that when he appeared upon a balcony overlooking the playground, and blew his whistle, sound and motion must on the instant cease. On the second blast, everyone must fall into his own rank in front of his teacher. It need hardly be said that watchful eyes were on Mr. Flegg as soon as he appeared on the balcony. The raising of the whistle to his lips was the signal for monstrous attitudes to be assumed, and when the whistle had sounded the schoolyard took on the appearance of a vast lunatic asylum struck to petrifaction. Mouths gaped open; fingers were pushing noses into strange distorted shapes, boys lay flat on their backs or, standing upon their hands, had their feet against a wall; couples were engaged in grotesque wrestling attitudes, or, caught in the middle of a run, remained struck with one leg lifted in air. Mr. Flegg never knew that the whole schoolyard was a howling derision: it seemed to give him a godlike sense of power to be able, with one expulsion of his puny breath, to strike life suddenly into the silence and immobility of death.

The whistle sounded again; the ranks formed; one by one the battalions marched to their several dooms.


The Boer War was in full swing. In the playground we played Britons and Boers — a primitive pastime which consisted of chasing the Boers and lamming them with belts when they were caught. We all wore in our lapels buttons bearing the photographs of Gatacre and Buller, Roberts, White, and Kitchener; and those boys were greatly admired whose mothers could afford the popular extravagance of sending them to school dressed in little replicas of a private’s uniform.

Mr. Simey, whom I chiefly remember of all my undistinguished masters, was never without a tie of khaki and red. He was a stripling thickly powdered with chalk dust, and on his upper lip grew a tuft that might have been the consequence either of negligence or of ambition. He was as lithe as a panther, and a cane seemed always to be twitching about him, angrily, like a panther’s tail.

Under Mr. Simey we learned the prepositions by rote. We would intone: ‘The prepositions are about, above, athwart, against ’ — and so through every preposition known to the English tongue.

All, in that way, was handed to us in made-up packets, which no one bothered to explain.

The Grand Patriotic Concert was a glorious break in the deadly routine of the board school. Mr. Jones, the pleasant little consumptive who was the musical authority of the school, was continually raiding classrooms and having out the boys who were to sing that song or give that recitation. He lived in a whirl of most congenial excitement, a tuning fork rarely out of his hand.

We were assembling in the school hall for rehearsal one bitter November morning when Mr. Jones called me to him.

‘Will you run along to my house for me?’ he said, knowing I should be no loss to the choir.

‘Yes, sir.’

‘I forgot to bring my milk and biscuits this morning. Ask Mrs. Jones to let you have them.’

A thin little woman answered my knock, when I reached Mr. Jones’s house, and asked me in when I had explained what I wanted. It was a very clean house, but so poorly furnished that it shocked all my preconceptions concerning the status of board-school teachers. A baby in a wicker cot was crying lustily in the kitchen. Mrs. Jones put the biscuits into a tin box, and the milk into a bottle, and the whole into a basket. She said to me very suddenly and urgently: ‘How is Mr. Jones this morning? Is he coughing much?’

I answered truthfully that he was. To my consternation she broke down in bitter tears. ‘He always says,’ she sobbed, ‘that he never coughs at school.’ She added: ‘There, there! Don’t tell him I was crying. Will you give him these?’ And she handed to me three clean handkerchiefs.


A building began to go up in one corner of the schoolyard. Imaginative spirits predicted that it was to be a swimming bath; it turned out to be a workshop. It was in keeping with the rest of my experience at the board school that in the workshop I learned nothing thoroughly. The total product of my labors was one round ruler which was not very round.

Clarke, a bully with spectacles and a beard, was in charge of instruction. He was the most merciless wielder of a cane in all my knowledge of schoolmasters, and it was one of his quirks that no boy should be addressed by name. Each bench was numbered, and by that number the boy at the bench was known. On Sundays Clarke walked to a little church miles out in the country, where he was organist. I have seen more than one boy on Monday faint under his cane.

His assistant was named Simpson; and Simpson’s nose was the longest ever seen on man. We would sing in the playground: —

’Simpson’s nose is long,
Simpson’s nose is strong,
’T would be no disgrace to Simpson’s face
If half his nose were gone.’

One day Simpson was demonstrating the use of the chisel. ‘At the end of the stroke bring it up — up,’ he recited; and he brought it up a shade too far. His nose received the thrust, and, dripping with blood, he ran to the washbasin in the corner of the room.

This fulfillment of the song’s prediction was too much for gravity. There was a loud laugh, silenced as Clarke blew his whistle. ‘Who laughed?’ he demanded; and to the amazement of us all there came an instant response from a freckled boy named Mulligan. No one who could help it crossed Mulligan’s path. He was a boy it were better to have on your side. And now, boldly, he exclaimed: ‘I laughed.’

The frank confession so startled Clarke that for a moment he did nothing but glare through his glittering glasses at the offender. Then he exclaimed: ‘Oh, you laughed, No. 18! Come out here, will you?’

We held our breath, expecting to see repeated the slaughter in which Clarke delighted. Mulligan was small for his age, but wiry as a terrier. He went to the front of the class, glowering as Clarke’s tall form loomed above him, with cane upraised. Before the blow could fall, Mulligan sprang. He sprang like a furious little dog, with a snarl and a fierce upward drive, and with both hands he clutched Clarke’s beard. He hung suspended, and then, his hobnailed boots being on a level with Clarke’s shins, he began to kick. He seemed inspired by the unuttered hatred of all small boys for chartered tyrants. He kicked and kicked with a fury of strength, pouring out as he did so a torrent of incredible obscenity and abuse. Clarke screamed in anguish; the class stood in silent fascination. Then Simpson, still dripping blood, ran to the help of his chief. Mulligan dropped in time, dodged smartly from Simpson’s grasp, and sprang through the doorway. Standing on tiptoe, we could through the windows see him going like a hare across the playground, and our hearts were nigh to bursting with envy and admiration.

In that moment Mulligan, for us, was in the rank of the great liberators. He had crushed tyranny to the dust. He had opened doors and let us hear the noise of trumpets.

(To be continued)