In his Sunday suit (with ten shillings in specie in the right-hand trouser pocket) and a brand-new bowler hat, the youngest of the Shearnes, Thomas Beauchamp Algernon, was being launched by the combined strength of the family on his public-school career. It was a solemn moment. The landscape was dotted with relatives — here a small sister, awed by the occasion into refraining from insult; there an aunt, vaguely admonitory. “Well, Tom,” said Mr Shearne, “youll soon be off now. Youre sure to like Eckleton. Remember to cultivate your bowling. Everyone can bat nowadays. And play forward, not outside. The outsides get most of the fun, certainly, but then if youre a forward, youve got eight chances of getting into a team.” “All right, father.” “Oh, and work hard.” This by way of an afterthought. “All right, father
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