« EelmineJätka »
For some weeks after this I lived a very enjoyable life in bed, having tea and toast, puddings, grapes, and other luxuries till I was well again. Then, before going back to Latin grammar and other studies of the period, a little incident or interlude occurred which I am unable to place at any other period. How it came about I do not at all remember, but a gentleman farmer from Norfolk must have come to see us about some business, possibly connected with my sister and her desired occupation as a governess, and seeing me, and perhaps hearing of my recent illness, offered to take me home with him for a visit to play with his boy of about my age, and to go to Cromer, where his wife, with her sister and son, were going for change of air. As it was thought that the change would do me good, and I was delighted at the idea of going to such a nice seaside place as Cromer, his offer was kindly accepted. As it happened we did not go to Cromer, but my visit was, so far as I remember, an enjoyable one. We went by coach to Ely, where we stayed the night at a large inn almost joining the cathedral. No doubt we had had dinner on the way, and I had tea on our arrival, but my host, whose name I cannot remember, dined with a large party of gentlemen-probably a farmers' dinner—about six o'clock, and he told me to walk about and see the shops or wait in the hall, and I should come in for dessert. So for more than an hour I wandered up and down the street near the hotel and past the great entrance to the cathedral. At last a servant came and called me in, and my friend bade me sit beside him, and introduced me to the company as a real Wallace—“Scots wae hae wi' Wallace bled,” he added, I suppose to show what he meant.
Then I had fruit of many kinds, including fine grapes, and a glass of wine, and after an hour more went to bed.
In the morning, after breakfast, we started in a chaise which had been sent from my friend's home overnight to meet him, and we had a long drive to the farm, where we arrived early in the afternoon, and found dinner ready for us. There were, I think, two ladies, my friend's wife and her sister, a boy about my own age, and I think the lady's brother, who had come some miles on a pony to meet us, and rode back alongside of the carriage.
Of this visit I remember very little except one or two incidents. On the very day of our arrival, I think about teatime, soon after I and my boy-friend had come in, Mrs. — became very excited, and then went off into violent hysterics, and was obliged to be taken upstairs to bed. Whether this had anything to do with putting off the visit to Cromer, or some other domestic affairs, I never heard. However, next day all was right again, and I was treated very kindly, as if to show that I had nothing to do with it. I recall the house as a rather long white building with green outside shutters, with a lawn and flower-beds in front, and a kitchen garden and large orchard on one side. In the fields around were some fine trees, and I think there was a pond or a stream near the house and a small village not far off. I and my companion played and roamed about where we liked, but what most struck me was the fruit-gathering in the large orchard, which began the very day after our arrival. I had never seen so many apples before. They were piled in great heaps on the ground, while men and boys went up the trees with ladders and gathered those from the higher branches into baskets. Of course, my little friend knew the best trees, and we ate as many as we liked. Sometimes we went out for drives, or were taken to visit at houses near, or visitors came to tea; but how long I stayed there, or how I returned, I have no recollection, but the main features of the visit as here related have always remained clearly impressed upon my memory.
It may be well here to give a brief outline of my school life at Hertford and of the schoolmaster who taught me. The school itself was built in the year 1617, when the school was founded. It consisted of one large room, with a large square window at each end and two on each side. In the centre of one side was a roomy porch, and opposite to it a projecting portion, with a staircase leading to two rooms above the schoolroom and partly in the roof. The schoolroom was fairly lofty. Along the sides were what were termed
porches-desks and seats against the wall with very solid, roughly carved ends of black oak, much cut with the initials or names of many generations of schoolboys. In the central space were two rows of desks with forms on each side. There was a master's desk at each end, and two others on the sides, and two open fireplaces equidistant from the ends. Every boy had a desk the sloping lid of which opened, to keep his school-books and anything else he liked, and between each pair of desks at the top was a leaden ink-pot, sunk in a hole in the middle rail of the desks. As we went to school even in winter at seven in the morning, and three days a week remained till five in the afternoon, some artificial lighting was necessary, and this was effected by the primitive method of every boy bringing his own candles or candle-ends with any kind of candlestick he liked. An empty ink-bottle was often used, or the candle was even stuck on to the desk with a little of its own grease. So that it enabled us to learn our lessons or do our sums, no one seemed to trouble about how we provided the light.
The school was reached by a path along the bottom of All Saints' Churchyard, and entered by a door in the wall which entirely surrounded the school playground and master's garden. Over this door was a Latin motto
"Inter umbras Academi studere delectat.”
This was appropriate, as the grounds were surrounded by trees, and at the north end of the main playground there were two very fine old elms, shown in the old engraving of the school here reproduced.
The headmaster in my time was a rather irascible little man named Clement Henry Crutwell. He limped very much owing to one leg being shorter than the other, and the foot I think permanently drawn up at the instep, but he was very active, used no stick, and could walk along as quickly and apparently as easily as most people. He was usually called by the boys Old Cruttle or Old Clemmy, and when he overheard these names used, which was not often, he would give us a short lecture on the impropriety and impoliteness of