He thought, “Well, why is it that children’s faces are always happy? There’s something they must lose as they grow out of childhood. It’s not that cares and troubles come; the absurd troubles of childhood are just as terrific troubles to them as grown-ups’ cares are to grown-ups. No, it is that something is lost. Well, what had I as a child that I have not as a man? Would it be hope? Would it be faith? Would it be belief?”
He thought, “I wonder if they’re all the same, those three—belief, faith, hope? Belief in hope. Faith in hope. It may be. Is it that a child knows no limitation to hope? It can hope impossible things. But a man hopes no further than he can see—I wonder—”
And suddenly, in one week, life from its armoury discharged two events upon him. In the next week one upon the world.
Towards the end of July there was some particularly splendid excitement for the newspaper-reading public. Ireland provided it; and the newspapers, as the events enlarged one upon the other, could scarcely find type big enough to keep pace with them. On the twenty-first, the King caused a conference of British and Irish leaders to assemble at Buckingham Palace. On the twenty-fourth, the British and Irish leaders departed from Buckingham Palace in patriotic halos of national champions who had failed to agree “in principle or detail.” Deadlock and Crisis flew about the streets in stupendous type; and though they had been doing so almost daily for the past eighteen months, everybody could see, with the most delicious thrills, that these were more firmly locked deadlocks and more critical crises than had ever before come whooping out of the inexhaustible store where they were kept for the public entertainment. Austria, and then Germany, made a not bad attempt on public attention by raking up some forgotten sensation over a stale excitement at a place called Sarajevo; but on the twenty-sixth, Ireland magnificently filled the bill again by the far more serious affair of Nationalist Volunteers landing three thousand rifles and marching with them into Dublin. Troops fired on the mob, and the House of Commons gave itself over to a most exciting debate on the business; the Irish Party demanded a large number of brutal heads to be delivered on chargers; and Unionist politicians, Press, and public declared that the heads were not brutal heads but loyal and devoted heads and should not be delivered; on the contrary they should be wreathed. It was delicious.