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Chapter III.

In my thirteenth year the most important experience took place of my schoolboy life. Walking out one-day with a West Indian boy of sixteen or so, I admitted that I was going to be "confirmed" in the Church of England. I was intensely religious at this time and took the whole rite with appalling seriousness. "Believe and thou shalt be saved" rang in my ears day and night, but I had no happy conviction. Believe what? "Believe in me, Jesus". Of course I believe; then I should be happy, and I was not happy.

"Believe not" and eternal damnation and eternal torture follow. My soul revolted at the iniquity of the awful condemnation. What became of the myriads who had not heard of Jesus? It was all a horrible puzzle to me; but the radiant figure and sweet teaching of Jesus just enabled me to believe and resolve to live as he had lived, unselfishly—purely. I never liked that word "purely" and used to relegate it to the darkest background of my thought. But I would try to be good—I'd try at least!

"Do you believe all the fairy stories in the Bible?" my companion asked.

"Of course I do", I replied, "It's the Word of God, isn't it?" "Who is God?" asked the West Indian.