Page:My Life and Loves.djvu/44

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MY LIFE AND LOVES.

"Fenian", repeated Vernon in amazement, "really, Governor, I don't believe he knows the meaning of the word; he's only just eleven, you must remember."

"I tell you" broke in my father, "he talked of James Stephen, the Fenian Head Centre, to-day with wild admiration. He's a Fenian alright, but how did he catch it?"

"I'm sure I don't know", replied Vernon, "he reads a great deal and is very quick: I'll find out about it."

"No, no!" said my father, "the thing is to cure him: he must go to some school in England, that'll cure him."

I waited to hear no more but got my book and crept upstairs; so because I loved the Fenian Head-Centre I must be a Fenian.

"How stupid Father is", was my summing up, but England tempted me, England—life was opening out.

It was at the Royal School in the summer after my sex-experiences with Strangways and Howard that I first began to notice dress. A boy in the sixth form named Milman had taken a liking to me and though he was five years older than I was, he often went with Howard and myself for walks. He was a stickler for dress, said that no one but "cads" (a name I learned from him for the first time) and common folk would wear a made-up tie: he gave me one of his scarves and showed me how to make a running lover's knot in it. On another occasion he told me that only "cads" would wear trowsers frayed or repaired.

Was it Milmans talk that made me self-conscious or my sex-awakening through Howard and Strangways? I couldn't say; but at this time I had a curious