Page:My Life and Loves.djvu/102

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Once he kissed me, but my amused smile made him blush while he muttered shamefacedly, "You're a queer lad!" At the same time I knew quite well that if I encouraged him, he would take further liberties.

One day he talked of Jones and Henry H . . . . He had evidently heard something of what had taken place in our bedroom; but I pretended not to know what he meant and when he asked me whether none of the big boys had made up to me, I ignored big Fawcett's smutty excursions and said "No" adding that I was interested in girls and not in dirty boys. For some reason or other Stackpole seemed to me younger than I was and not twelve years older, and I had no real difficulty in keeping him within the bounds of propriety till the Math Exam.

I was asked once whether I thought that "Shaddy", as we called the House-master, had ever had a woman. The idea of "Shaddy" as a virgin filled us with laughter; but when one spoke of him as a lover, it was funnier still. He was a man about forty, tall and fairly strong: he had a degree from some college in Manchester, but to us little snobs he was a bounder because he had not been to either Oxford or Cambridge. He was fairly capable, however.

But for some reason or other he had a down on me and I grew to hate him, and was always thinking of how I might hurt him. My new habit of forcing myself to watch and observe everything came to my aid. There were five or six polished oak-steps up to the big bedroom where fourteen of us slept. "Shaddy" used to give us half an hour to get into bed and then would come up, and standing just inside the door under the gas-light would ask us, "Have you all said your prayers?" We all answered: "Yes, sir", then would come his "Goodnight, boys", and our stereo-typed reply: "Good night, Sir."