CHILDHOOD AND BOYHOOD 17
against the treachery encouraged by this system. A boy with a " mark " in his pocket would sidle up and encourage you as he best could to say a word of English, then forthwith he clapped his " mark" into your hand, and went away rejoicing at the riddance.
The school was an old convent near to and within the Calais gate of the upper town ; the playground was the paved square of the convent, in which we used the flat gravestones for playing marbles. It is now partly overbuilt by the large church whose dome, is conspicuous from afar.
We were daily marched off in a long row of pairs, usually for a walk round the ramparts, sometimes to Napoleon's Column, then in process of building, and in the summer, not infrequently, to bathe by rocks near the old fort. We prepared ourselves for the latter grateful occasions by saving bread from breakfast ; then, after having gathered mussels, we spread their delicious contents on it to eat.' An opportunity was then afforded of inspecting with awe the marks of recent birchings, which were reckoned as glorious scars. The birchings were frequent and performed in a long room parallel to, and separated from, the schoolroom by large ill-fitting doors, through which each squeal of the victim was heard with hushed breaths. I n that room was a wardrobe full of schoolbooks ready for issue. I t is 'some measure of the then naivete of my mind that I wondered for long how the books could have been kept so fresh and clean for nearly two thousand years, thinking that the copies of Caesar's Commentaries were contemporary with C sar himself.
A n occUasiowu) walk was w 1