6. A Visit To Oxford
The next important move in the household was Harold's going to Cambridge. His father
had always intended this, and Squire Norman had borne his wishes in mind. Harold
joined Trinity, the college which had been his father's, and took up his residence in due
Stephen was now nearly twelve. Her range of friendships, naturally limited by her
circumstances in life, was enlarged to the full; and if she had not many close friends there
were at least of them all that was numerically possible. She still kept up to certain degree
the little gatherings which in her childhood were got together for her amusement, and in
the various games then instituted she still took a part. She never lost sight of the fact that
her father took a certain pleasure in her bodily vigour. And though with her growing
years and the conscious acceptance of her womanhood, she lost sight of the old childish
fancy of being a boy instead of a girl, she could not lose sight of the fact that strength and
alertness are sources of feminine as well as of masculine power.
Amongst the young friends who came from time to time during his holidays was Leonard
Everard, now a tall, handsome boy. He was one of those boys who develop young, and
who seem never to have any of that gawky stage so noticeable in the youth of men made
in a large pattern. He was always well-poised, trim-set, alert; fleet of foot, and springy all
over. In games he was facile princeps, seeming to make his effort always in the right way
and without exertion, as if by an instinct of physical masterdom. His universal success in
such matters helped to give him an easy debonair manner which was in itself winning. So
physically complete a youth has always a charm. In its very presence there is a sort of
sympathetic expression, such as comes with the sunshine.
Stephen always in Leonard's presence showed something of the common attitude. His
youth and beauty and sex all had their influence on her. The influence of sex, as it is
understood with regard to a later period of life, did not in her case exist; Cupid's darts are
barbed and winged for more adult victims. But in her case Leonard's masculine
superiority, emphasised by the few years between their age, his sublime self-belief, and,
above all, his absolute disregard for herself or her wishes or her feelings, put him on a
level at which she had to look up to him. The first step in the ladder of pre- eminence had
been achieved when she realised that he was not on her level; the second when she
experienced rather than thought that he had more influence on her than she had on him.
Here again was a little morsel of hero worship, which, though based on a misconception
of fact, was still of influence. In that episode of the crypt she had always believed that it
was Leonard who had carried her out and laid her on the church floor in light and safety.
He had been strong enough and resolute enough to do this, whilst she had fainted!
Harold's generous forbearance had really worked to a false end.
It was not strange, therefore, that she found occasional companionship with the
handsome, wilful, domineering boy somewhat of luxury. She did not see him often
enough to get tired of him; to find out the weakness of his character; to realise his deep-