"It's Huggo." "Huggo?" "Huggo!" Like axes! He fought for words. When they came out they thudded out. "Do you know where Huggo's been this past month?" "With the Thorntons, his friends." "He's not. He's lied. He's been living with some blackguard friend in rooms in Turnhampton, in Buckinghamshire." "Harry! Doing what? Land-work?" "Land-work! Loafing! Drinking!" "Drinking? Huggo?" "Listen to me.
He was in a rural district. He got doing land-work. They all did. It was supposed to be done in leisure hours. Naturally it encroached on, and unfitted for, work hours. "After all," as the tutor wrote, "how can you blame the boys? After all, it's very hard to seem to try to check this patriotic spirit." After all! Oh, why do people say "after all" when they mean quite the contrary?
Then it turned out that he had not, as he had given out, been always at the house of friends. He was found in cottage lodgings living with a friend, a fellow-pupil at the tutor's; on land-work truly, but in gross deception, and in worse. It came out quite by chance and in a way very horrible. Harry discovered it. Harry, early in 1915, had been absorbed into the Home Office.
Apart from the well-meaning æsthetes who live in rural elegance surrounded by all the appliances which mechanism can supply, who wrinkle their brows when the electric light goes out, and who write pamphlets asking with pained surprise why people cannot return to the old land-work and handicraft, most of us take mechanical labour as an unalterable condition of life, and merely congratulate ourselves that it is not we who have to do it.
These are his holidays. After the setback at Tidborough he was to have spent all his holidays at home. He was not, for the future, to go away on invitations. That war! He never spent any of his holidays at home. How could the boy be tied down in London with this war on? He made his land-work his excuse, most plausible. He spent all his holidays with friends whose homes were in rural districts.
The remainder of the term passed quickly; the spring days were so full with lessons and land-work that time at the Abbey literally raced along. Nevertheless, with characteristic impatience, Diana crossed off the calendar each evening, and counted the lessening dates in huge satisfaction.