NO one perhaps has ever felt passionately towards 
a lead pencil. But there are circumstances in 
which it can become supremely desirable to 
possess one; moments when we are set upon 
having an object, a purpose, an excuse for walking half 
across London between tea and dinner. As the foxhunter 
hunts in order to preserve the breed of horses, and the 
golfer plays in order that open spaces may be preserved 
from the builders, so when the desire comes upon us to go 
street rambling the pencil does for a pretext, and getting 
up we say, “Really I must buy a pencil,” as if under cover 
of this excuse we could indulge safely in the greatest 
pleasure of town life in winter—rambling the streets of 

The hour should be evening and the season winter, for 
in winter the champagne brightness of the air and the 
sociability of the streets are grateful. We are not then 
taunted as in summer by the longing for shade and solitude 
and sweet airs from the hayfields. The evening hour, too, 
gives us the irresponsibility which darkness and lamplight 
bestow. We are no longer quite ourselves. As we step out 
of the house on a fine evening between four and six we shed 
the self our friends know us by and become part of that vast 
republican army of anonymous trampers, whose society is 
so agreeable after the solitude of one's own room. For there 
we sit surrounded by objects which perpetually express the 
oddity of our own temperaments and enforce the memories 
of our own experience. That bowl on the mantelpiece, for