“Oh yes. Of course you will legally owe me nothing. I am prepared for that.”
“Well, I shall have to consider it. But I still think that you—”
“As far as I am concerned, the matter is decided. I go at Easter.”
“Very well. I think you are blind to your own interest, but of course you do as you please. If Mrs. Tootle should press me to take out a summons against you for assault, of course I—”
“Good morning, Dr. Tootle.”
The summons was not taken out, but Waymark’s resolution suffered no change. There was another interview between him and the principal, from which he issued with the sum of six pounds ten in his pocket, being half the quarter’s salary. He had not applied for this, but did not refuse it when it was offered. Seeing that the total amount of cash previously in his possession was something less than five shillings, he did wisely, perhaps, to compromise with his dignity, and let Dr. Tootle come out of the situation with a certain show of generosity.
BY THE WAYSIDE
“So there ends another chapter. How many more to the end of the story? How many more scenes till the farce is played out? There is something flattering to one’s vanity in this careless playing with fate; it is edifying, moreover, to sot circumstances at defiance in this way, now and then, to assert one’s freedom. Freedom! What a joke the word must be to whoever is pulling the wires and making us poor puppets dance at his pleasure. Pity that we have to pay the piper so heavily for our involuntary jigging!”
A passage from the letter Waymark wrote to his friend Casti, on the evening when his school-work came to an end. That night he sought rest early, and slept well. The sensations with which he woke next morning were such as he had not experienced for a long time. He was at liberty,—with six pounds ten in his pocket. He could do what he liked and go whither he liked,—till lack of a dinner should remind him that a man’s hardest master is his own body. He dressed leisurely, and, having dressed, treated himself to an egg for breakfast. Absolutely no need for hurry; the thought of school-hours dismissed for ever; a horizon quite free from the vision of hateful toil; in the real sky overhead a gleam of real sunshine, as if to make credible this sudden change. His mood was still complete recklessness, a revolt against the idea of responsibility, indifference to all beyond the moment.
It was Thursday; the morrow would be Good Friday; after that the intervention of two clear days before the commencement of a new week In the meantime the sun was really shining, and the fresh spring air invited to the open ways. Waymark closed the door of his room behind him, and went downstairs, whistling to himself. But, before reaching the bottom, he turned and went back again. It seemed warm enough to sit in one of the parks and read. He laid his hand on a book, almost at haphazard, to put in his pocket. Then he walked very leisurely along Kennington Road, and on, and on, till he had crossed the river.