his full strength till a much later age than most boys. This was perhaps due to the closeness with which his father had kept him to his books in childhood, hut I think in part also to a tendency towards lateness in attaining maturity, hereditary in the Pontifex family, which was one also of unusual longevity. At thirteen or fourteen he was a mere bag of bones, with upper arms about as thick as the wrists of other boys of his age; his little chest was pigeon-breasted; he appeared to have no strength or stamina whatever, and finding he always went to the wall in physical encounters, whether undertaken in jest or earnest, even with boys shorter than himself, the timidity natural to childhood increased upon him to an extent that I am afraid amounted to cowardice. This rendered him even less capable than he might otherwise have been, for as confidence increases power, so want of confidence increases impotence. After he had had the breath knocked out of him and been well shinned half a dozen times in scrimmages at football - scrimmages in which he had become involved sorely against his will - he ceased to see any further fun in football, and shirked that noble game in a way that got him into trouble with the elder boys, who would stand no shirking on the part of the younger ones.

He was as useless and ill at ease with cricket as with football, nor in spite of all his efforts could he ever throw a ball or a stone. It soon became plain, therefore, to every one that Pontifex was a young muff, a molly-coddle, not to be tortured, but still not to be rated highly. He was not, however, actively unpopular, for it was seen that he was quite square inter pares not at all vindictive, easily pleased, perfectly free with whatever little money he had, no greater lover of his school work than of the games, and generally more inclinable to moderate vice than to immoderate virtue.

These qualities will prevent any boy from sinking very low in the opinion of his schoolfellows; but Ernest thought he had fallen lower than he probably had and hated and despised himself for what he, as much as anyone else, believed to be his cowardice. He did not like the boys whom he thought like himself. His heroes were strong and vigorous, and the less they inclined towards him the more he worshipped them. All this made him very unhappy, for it never occurred to him that the instinct which made him keep out of games for which he was ill adapted, was more reasonable than the reason which would have driven him into them. Nevertheless he followed his instinct for the most part, rather than his reason. Sapiens suam si sapientiam norit.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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