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"You're not sorry to go, of course. With people like us our home is
where we are not," said Monsignor.
"I _am_ sorry--"
"No, you're not. No one person in the world is necessary to you or to
THE EGOTIST DOWN
Amory's two years at St. Regis', though in turn painful and triumphant,
had as little real significance in his own life as the American "prep"
school, crushed as it is under the heel of the universities, has
to American life in general. We have no Eton to create the
self-consciousness of a governing class; we have, instead, clean,
flaccid and innocuous preparatory schools.
He went all wrong at the start, was generally considered both conceited
and arrogant, and universally detested. He played football intensely,
alternating a reckless brilliancy with a tendency to keep himself as
safe from hazard as decency would permit. In a wild panic he backed out
of a fight with a boy his own size, to a chorus of scorn, and a week
later, in desperation, picked a battle with another boy very much
bigger, from which he emerged badly beaten, but rather proud of himself.
He was resentful against all those in authority over him, and this,
combined with a lazy indifference toward his work, exasperated every
master in school. He grew discouraged and imagined himself a pariah;
took to sulking in corners and reading after lights. With a dread of
being alone he attached a few friends, but since they were not among
the elite of the school, he used them simply as mirrors of himself,
audiences before which he might do that posing absolutely essential to
him. He was unbearably lonely, desperately unhappy.
There were some few grains of comfort. Whenever Amory was submerged,
his vanity was the last part to go below the surface, so he could still
enjoy a comfortable glow when "Wookey-wookey," the deaf old housekeeper,
told him that he was the best-looking boy she had ever seen. It had
pleased him to be the lightest and youngest man on the first football
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