'That'll do. Get up.'

Singer stood up. The tears were streaming down his face. Philip stepped forward. Mr Watson looked at him for a moment.

'I'm not going to cane you. You're a new boy. And I can't hit a cripple. Go away, both of you, and don't be naughty again.'

When they got back into the schoolroom a group of boys, who had learned in some mysterious way what was happening, were waiting for them. They set upon Singer at once with eager questions. Singer faced them, his face red with the pain and marks of tears still on his cheeks. He pointed with his head at Philip, who was standing a little behind him.

'He got off because he's a cripple,' he said angrily.

Philip stood silent and flushed. He felt that they looked at him with contempt.

'How many did you get?' one boy asked Singer.

But he did not answer. He was angry because he had been hurt.

'Don't ask me to play Nibs with you again,' he said to Philip. 'It's jolly nice for you. You don't risk anything.'

'I didn't ask you.'

'Didn't you?'

He quickly put out his foot and tripped Philip up. Philip was always rather unsteady on his feet, and he fell heavily to the ground.

'Cripple,' said Singer.

For the rest of the term he tormented Philip cruelly, and though Philip tried to keep out of his way, the school was so small that it was impossible; he tried being friendly and jolly with him; he abased himself so far as to buy him a knife; but though Singer took the knife he was not placated. Once or twice, driven beyond endurance, he hit and kicked the bigger boy, but Singer was so much stronger that Philip was helpless, and he was always forced after more or less torture to beg his pardon. It was that which rankled with Philip: he could not bear the humiliation of apologies, which were wrung from him by pain greater than he could bear. And what made it worse was that there seemed no end to his wretchedness; Singer was only eleven and would not go to the upper school till he was thirteen. Philip realized that he must live two years with a tormentor from whom there was no escape. He was only happy while he was working and when he got into bed. And often there recurred to him then that queer feeling that his life with all its misery was nothing but a dream, and that he would awake in the morning in his own little bed in London.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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