Haldane and I were friends even in our school-days. What first brought us together was our common hatred of Visger, who came from our part of the country. His people knew our people at home, so he was put on to us when he came. He was the most intolerable person, boy and ...
Haldane and I were friends even in our school-days. What first brought
us together was our common hatred of Visger, who came from our part of
the country. His people knew our people at home, so he was put on to
us when he came. He was the most intolerable person, boy and man, that
I have ever known. He would not tell a lie. And that was all right.
But he didn't stop at that. If he were asked whether any other chap
had done anything-been out of bounds, or up to any sort of lark-he
would always say, 'I don't know, sir, but I believe so. He never did
know-we took care of that. But what he believed was always right. I
remember Haldane twisting his arm to say how he knew about that
cherry-tree business, and he only said, 'I don't know-I just feel
sure. And I was right, you see.' What can you do with a boy like that?
We grew up to be men. At least Haldane and I did. Visger grew up to be
a prig. He was a vegetarian and a teetotaller, and an all-wooler and
Christian Scientist, and all the things that prigs are-but he wasn't a
common prig. He knew all sorts of things that he oughtn't to have
known, that he couldn't have known in any ordinary decent way. It
wasn't that he found things out. He just knew them. Once, when I was
very unhappy, he came into my rooms-we were all in our last year at
Oxford-and talked about things I hardly knew myself. That was really
why I went to India that winter. It was bad enough to be unhappy,
without having that beast knowing all about it.
I was away over a year. Coming back, I thought a lot about how jolly
it would be to see old Haldane again. If I thought about Visger at
all, I wished he was dead. But I didn't think about him much.
I did want to see Haldane. He was always such a jolly chap-gay, and
kindly, and simple, honourable, uptight, and full of practical
sympathies. I longed to see him, to see the smile in his jolly blue
eyes, looking out from the net of wrinkles that laughing had made
round them, to hear his jolly laugh, and feel the good grip of his big
hand. I went straight from the docks to his chambers in Gray's Inn,
and I found him cold, pale, anaemic, with dull eyes and a limp hand,
and pale lips that smiled without mirth, and uttered a welcome without
He was surrounded by a litter of disordered furniture and personal
effects half packed. Some big boxes stood corded, and there were cases
of books, filled and waiting for the enclosing boards to be nailed on.
'Yes, I'm moving,' he said. 'I can't stand these rooms. There's
something rum about them--something devilish rum. I clear our