Young caddies in london 1.
All unaware of the trend of events, unaware of the laws that were closing in upon all the Brethren, unaware indeed that there lived a Brother for him on the earth, young Caddies chose this time to come out of his chalk pit and see the world. His brooding came at last to that. There was no answer to all his questions in Cheasing Eyebright; the new Vicar was less luminous even than the old, and the riddle of his pointless labour grew at last to the dimensions of exasperation. “Why should I work in this pit day after day?” he asked. “Why should I walk within bounds and be refused all the wonders of the world beyond there? What have I done, to be condemned to this?”
And one day he stood up, straightened his back, and said in a loud voice, “No!
“I won’t,” he said, and then with great vigour cursed the pit.
Then, having few words, he sought to express his thought in acts. He took a track half filled with chalk, lifted it, and flung it, smash, against another. Then he grasped a whole row of empty trucks and spun them down a bank. He sent a huge boulder of chalk bursting among them, and then ripped up a dozen yards of rail with a mighty plunge of his foot. So he commenced the conscientious wrecking of the pit.
“Work all my days,” he said, “at this!”
It was an astonishing five minutes for the little geologist he had, in his preoccupation, overlooked. This poor little creature having dodged two boulders by a hairbreadth, got out by the westward corner and fled athwart the hill, with flapping rucksack and twinkling knicker-bockered legs, leaving a trail of Cretaceous echinoderms behind him; while young Caddies, satisfied with the destruction he had achieved, came striding out to fulfil his purpose in the world.
“Work in that old pit, until I die and rot and stink I … What worm did they think was living in my giant body? Dig chalk for God knows what foolish purpose I NotI!”
The trend of road and railway perhaps, or mere chance it was, turned his face to London, and thither he came striding; over the Downs and athwart the meadows through the hot afternoon, to the infinite amazement of the world. It signified nothing to him that torn posters in red and white bearing various names flapped from every wall and barn; he knew nothing of the electoral revolution that had flung Caterham, “Jack the Giant-killer,” into power. It signified nothing to him that every police station along his route had what was known as Caterham’s ukase upon its notice board that afternoon, proclaiming that no giant, no person whatever over eight feet in height, should go more than five miles from his “place of location” without a special permission. It signified nothing to him that on his wake belated police officers, not a little relieved to find themselves belated, shook warning handbills at his retreating back. He was going to see what the world had to show him, poor incredulous blockhead, and he did not mean that occasional spirited persons shouting “Hi!” at him should stay his course. He came on down by Rochester and Greenwich towards an ever-thickening aggregation of houses, walking rather slowly now, staring about him and swinging his huge chopper.
People in London had heard something of him before, how that he was idiotic but gentle, and wonderfully managed by Lady Wondershoot’s agent and the Vicar; how in his dull way he revered these authorities and was grateful to them for their care of him, and so forth. So that when they learnt from the newspaper placards that afternoon that he also was “on strike,” the thing appeared to many of them as a deliberate, concerted act.
“They mean to try our strength,” said the men in the trains going home from business.
“Lucky we have Caterham.”
“It’s in answer to his proclamation.”
The men in the clubs were better informed. They clustered round the tape or talked in groups in their smoking-rooms.
“He has no weapons. He would have gone to Sevenoaks if he had been put up to it.”
“Caterham will handle him… .”
The shopmen told their customers. The waiters in restaurants snatched a moment for an evening paper between the courses. The cabmen read it immediately after the betting news… .
The placards of the chief government evening paper were conspicuous with “Grasping the Nettle.” Others relied for effect on: “Giant Redwood continues to meet the Princess.” The Echo struck a line of its own with: “Rumoured Revolt of Giants in the North of England. The Sunderland Giants start for Scotland.” The, Westminster Gazette sounded its usual warning note. “Giants Beware,” said the Westminster Gazette, and tried to make a point out of it that might perhaps serve towards uniting the Liberal party— at that time greatly torn between seven intensely egotistical leaders. The later newspapers dropped into uniformity. “The Giant in the New Kent Road,” they proclaimed.
“What I want to know,” said the pale young man in the tea shop, “is why we aren’t getting any news of the young Cossars. You’d think they’d be in it most of all … ”
“They tell me there’s another of them young giants got loose,” said the barmaid, wiping out a glass. “I’ve always said they was dangerous things to ’ave about. Right away from the beginning … It ought to be put a stop to. Any’ow, I ’ope ’e won’t come along ’ere.”
“I’d like to ’ave a look at ’im,” said the young man at the bar recklessly, and added, “I seen the Princess.”
“D’you think they’ll ’urt ’im?” said the barmaid.
“May ’ave to,” said the young man at the bar, finishing his glass.
Amidst a hum of ten million such sayings young Caddies came to London…