The summer holidays were near at hand when I made up my mind to break out of the weariness of school-life for one day at least. With Leo Dillon and a boy named Mahoney I planned a day’s miching. Each of us saved up sixpence. We were to meet at ten in the morning on the Canal Bridge. Mahoney’s big sister was to write an excuse for him and Leo Dillon was to tell his brother to say he was sick.
It was too late and we were too tired to carry out our project of visiting the Pigeon House. We had to be home before four o’clock lest our adventure should be discovered. Mahoney looked regretfully at his catapult and I had to suggest going home by train before he regained any cheerfulness.
The man smiled as before and said that when he was our age he had lots of sweethearts. “Every boy,” he said, “has a little sweetheart.” His attitude on this point struck me as strangely liberal in a man of his age. In my heart I thought what he said about boys and sweethearts was reasonable. But I disliked the words in his mouth and I wondered why he shivered once or twice as if he feared something or felt a sudden chill . . . He began to speak to us about girls, saying what nice soft hair they had and how soft their hands were[.]
He said that my friend was a very rough boy and asked did he get whipped often at school…. He said that when boys were that kind they ought to be whipped and well whipped. When a boy was rough and unruly there was nothing would do him any good but a good sound whipping . . . The man continued his monologue. He seemed to have forgotten his recent liberalism. He said that if ever he found a boy talking to girls or having a girl for a sweetheart he would whip him and whip him, and that would teach him not to be talking to girls.