I remarked that at the next village, which had three public-houses, there were a good marry persons so poor that they would gladly at any time take a shilling from any one.
It was the same everywhere in the district, she said, except in that village which had no public-house. Not only were they better off, and independent of blanket societies and charity in all forms, but they were infinitely happier. And after the day’s work the men came home to spend the evening with their wives and children.
At this stage I was surprised by a sudden burst of passion on her part. She stood up, her face flushing red, and solemnly declared that if ever a public-house was opened in that village, and if the men took to spending their evenings in it, her husband with them, she would not endure such a condition of things—she wondered that so many women endured it—but would take her little ones and go away to earn her own living under some other roof!
The rambles I have described were mostly inland: when by chance they took us down to the sea our impressions and adventures appeared less interesting. Looking back on the holiday, it would seem to us a somewhat vacant time compared to one spent in wandering from village to village. I mean if we do not take into account that first impression which the sea invariably makes on us on returning to it after a long absence—the shock of recognition and wonder and joy as if we had been suffering from loss of memory and it had now suddenly come back to us. That brief moving experience over, there is little the sea can give us to compare with the land. How could it be otherwise in our case, seeing that we were by it in a crowd, our movements and way of life regulated for us in places which appear like overgrown and ill-organized convalescent homes? There was always a secret intense dislike of all parasitic and holiday places, an uncomfortable feeling which made the pleasure seem poor and the remembrance of days so spent hardly worth dwelling on. And as we are able to keep in or throw out of our minds whatever we please, being autocrats in our own little kingdom, I elected to cast away most of the memories of these comparatively insipid holidays. But not all, and of those I retain I will describe at least two, one in the present chapter on the East Anglian coast, the other later on.
It was cold, though the month was August; it blew and the sky was grey and rain beginning to fall when we came down about noon to a small town on the Norfolk coast, where we hoped to find lodging and such comforts as could be purchased out of a slender purse. It was a small modern pleasure town of an almost startling appearance owing to the material used in building its straight rows of cottages and its ugly square houses and villas. This was an orange-brown stone found in the neighbourhood, the roofs being