THE SMALL TOWN WITH ITS FEW THOUSAND INHABITANTS, its air of stuffy desolation, was a low and narrow gateway into the great wide world of his later life.
He was sent as a paying guest into the house of a large family where he had his own room and was, apart from the hours spent in school and on his homework, his own master and could come and go as he pleased. But here, too, everything that he did was noted and commented upon and he was nowhere safe from prying eyes.
This bothered the boy very little; when he wanted to be alone he stayed in his room with his books or went deep into the woods.
He was content.
He was alone — he had hours in which he could be by himself!
ONCE AGAIN BEGAN THE GREY MONOTONOUS YEARS OF SCHOOL and the never-varying days passed quickly by.
Even in the holidays he seldom returned to his father's house. Sometimes he spent them in one way, sometimes in another. Once he went on a walking tour for which he had saved his pocket money (supposedly alone, but in reality with his friend); another time he remained in the small town and the days were never long enough for his hobbies and collecting; on yet another occasion he was allowed to remain behind in his father's house while the rest of the