The Camp Town races are five miles long,
Doo-da! Doo-da! Day!
He thought, “Damn that infernal music.” He wiped his eyes. This was impossible to bear ... Doo-da! Doo-da! A most frightful thing happened. A boy broke out of the ranks and came running, all rattling and jingling with swinging accoutrements, to the old woman beside Sabre, put his arms around her and cried in a most frightful voice, “Mother! Mother!” And a sergeant, also rattling and clanking, dashed up and bawled with astounding ferocity, “Get back into the bloody ranks!” And the boy ran on, rattling. And the old woman collapsed prone upon the pavement. And the sergeant, as though his amazing ferocity had been the buttress of some other emotions, bent over the old woman and patted her, rattling, and said, “That’s all right, Mother. That’s all right. I’ll look after him. I’ll bring him back. That’s all right, Mother.” And ran on, jingling. Doo-da! Doo-da! Day!
He turned away. He absolutely could not bear it. He walked a few paces and equally could not forbear to stop and look again. The men were nearly all laughing and whistling and singing.... This bursting sensation in all his emotions! It was beyond anything he had ever experienced before. But he had experienced something like it before. His mind threw back across the years and presented the occasion to him. It was when he was a very small boy in his first term at Tidborough. The Christmas term and he was on the Strip, trying frantically behind a crowd of boys to get a glimpse of the match in progress,—one of the great matches of the season, vs. Tidborough Town. One of the boys against whose waist his frantic head was butting turned and said in a lordly way, “Let that kid through,” and he was roughly bundled to a front position. The boy who had commanded his presence jolted him in the back with his knee and said, using the school argot for to cheer or shout, “Swipe up, you ghastly young ass! Swipe up! Can’t you see they’re pressing us?”
Couldn’t he see! He felt that the end of the world was coming at what he saw. The enormous, full-grown town men were almost on the school goal-line; the school team clinging to them and battling with them like tiger-cats. He had only been at Tidborough a month, but he felt he would die if the line was crossed. He swiped till he thought his throat must crack. When his cracking throat incontinently took intervals of rest, he prayed to God for the school, visioning God on his throne on the school goalposts and mentioning to Him the players whose names he knew:
“Oh, let Barnwell get in his kick! Oh, do let Harris see they’re heeling the ball! Oh, help Tufnell to get that man! Help him! Help him! Schoo-o-ool! Schoo-oo-ool! Schoo-oo-ool!”
Doo-da! Doo-da! Day!
His bursting heart was now saying, “England! England!”