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AT WIMBLEHURST

observed, and I know. There was something about my Wimblehurst companions that disgusted me. It's hard to define. Heaven knows that at that cockney boarding school at Goudhurst we were coarse enough, the Wimblehurst youngsters had neither words nor courage for the sort of thing we used to do—for our bad language, for example; but, on the other hand, they displayed a sort of sluggish, real lewdness—lewdness is the word—a baseness of attitude. Whatever we exiled urbans did at Goudhurst was touched with something, however coarse, of romantic imagination. We had read the Boys of England, and told each other stories. In the English country-side there are no books at all, no songs, no drama, no valiant sin even; all these things have never come or they were taken away and hidden generations ago, and the imagination aborts and bestializes. That, I think, is where the real difference against the English rural man lies. It is because I know this that I do not share in the common repinings because our country-side is being depopulated, because our population is passing through the furnace of the towns. They starve, they suffer no doubt, but they come out of it hardened, they come out of it with souls. . . .

Of an evening the Wimblehurst blade, shiny-faced from a wash and with some loud finery, a coloured waistcoat or a vivid tie, would betake himself to the Eastry Arms billiard-room, or to the bar parlour of some minor pub where nap could be played. One soon sickened of his slow knowingness, the cunning observation of his deadened eyes, his idea of a "good story," always, always told in undertones, poor dirty worm! his shrewd elaborate manœuvres for some petty advantage, a drink to the good or suchlike deal. There