nearly so combative or perhaps I should say, so brutal, as the English.
In one of my fights a boy took my part and we became friends. His name was Howard and we used to go on long walks together. One day I wanted him to meet Strangways, the Vicar's son, who was fourteen but silly, I thought; Howard shook his head: "he wouldn't want to know me", he said, "I am a Roman Catholic". I still remember the feeling of horror his confession called up in me: "A Roman Catholic! Could anyone as nice as Howard be a Catholic?"
I was thunderstruck and this amazement has always illumined for me the abyss of Protestant bigotry, but I wouldn't break with Howard who was two years older than I and who taught me many things. He taught me to like Fenians, though I hardly knew what the word meant. One day I remember he showed me posted on the Court House a notice offering 5000 Pounds sterling as reward to anyone who would tell the whereabouts of James Stephen, the Fenian Head-Centre. "He's travelling all over Ireland", Howard whispered, "everybody knows him", adding with gusto, "but no one would give the Head-Centre away to the dirty English". I remember thrilling to the mystery and chivalry of the story. From that moment Head-Centre was a sacred symbol to me as to Howard.
One day we met Strangways and somehow or other began talking of sex. Howard knew all about it and took pleasure in enlightening us both. It was Cecil Howard who first initiated Strangways and me too in self-abuse. In spite of my Novel reading, I was still at eleven too young to get much pleasure from the practice; but I was delighted to know how children were made and a lot of new facts