Page:My Life and Loves.djvu/53

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self-abuse, I began to restrain myself and in return this had a most potent effect on my will-power.

I was over thirteen when a second and still stronger restraining influence made itself felt, and strangely enough this influence grew through my very desire for girls and curiosity about them.

The story marks an epoch in my life. We were taught singing at school and when it was found that I had a good alto voice and a very good ear, I was picked to sing solos, both in school and in the church choir. Before every church festival there was a good deal of practice with the organist, and girls from neighbouring houses joined in our classes. One girl alone sang alto and she and I were separated from the other boys and girls; the upright piano was put across the corner of the room and we two sat of stood behind it almost out of sight of all the other singers; the organist, of course, being seated in front of the piano. The girl E . . . who sang alto with me was about my own age: she was very pretty or seemed so to me, with golden hair and blue eyes and I always made up to her as well as I could, in my boyish way. One day while the organist was explaining something, E . . . stood up on the chair and leant over the back of the piano to hear better or see more. Seated in my chair behind her, I caught sight of her legs; for her dress rucked up behind as she leaned over: at once my breath stuck in my throat. Her legs were lovely, I thought, and the temptation came to touch them; for no one could see.

I got up immediately and stood by the chair she was standing on. Casually I let my hand fall against her left leg. She didn't draw her leg away or seem to feel my hand, so I touched her more boldly. She never moved, though now I knew she must have felt my hand. I began to slide my hand