Opis

This story is about school life, friendship and growing up at the end of the 19th century. The novel contains a mixture of everything. It is filled with humor, wit and rich details. The novel tells about the experience of our main character, starting with preparatory school and ending with the College of Marchester. The reader is experiencing the trials and victories of the protagonist.This story is about school life, friendship and growing up at the end of the 19th century. The novel contains a mixture of everything. It is filled with humor, wit and rich details. The novel tells about the experience of our main character, starting with preparatory school and ending with the College of Manchester. The reader is experiencing the trials and victories of the protagonist.

Ebooka przeczytasz w aplikacjach Legimi na:

Androidzie
iOS
czytnikach certyfikowanych
przez Legimi
czytnikach Kindle™
(dla wybranych pakietów)
Windows
10
Windows
Phone

Liczba stron: 470

Odsłuch ebooka (TTS) dostepny w abonamencie „ebooki+audiobooki bez limitu” w aplikacjach Legimi na:

Androidzie
iOS

Contents

CHAPTER I

CHAPTER II

CHAPTER III

CHAPTER IV

CHAPTER V

CHAPTER VI

CHAPTER VII

CHAPTER VIII

CHAPTER IX

CHAPTER X

CHAPTER XI

CHAPTER XII

CHAPTER XIII

CHAPTER XIV

CHAPTER XV

CHAPTER XVI

CHAPTER I

There was a new class-room in course of construction for the first form at Helmsworth Preparatory School, and the ten senior boys, whose united ages amounted to some hundred and thirty years, were taken for the time being in the school museum. This was a big boarded room, covered with corrugated iron and built out somewhat separate from the other class rooms at the corner of the cricket-field. The arrangement had many advantages from the point of view of the boys, for the room was full of agreeably distracting and interesting objects, and Cicero almost ceased to be tedious, even when he wrote about friendship, if, when you were construing, you could meditate on the skeleton of a kangaroo which stood immediately in front of you, and refresh yourself with the sight of the stuffed seal on whose nose the short-sighted Ferrers Major had balanced his spectacles before Mr. Dutton came in. Or, again, it was agreeable to speculate on the number of buns a mammoth might be able to put simultaneously into his mouth, seeing that a huge yellowish object that stood on the top of one of the cases was just one of his teeth....

Of course it depended on how many teeth a mammoth had, but the number of a boy’s teeth might be some guide, and David, in the throes of grinding out the weekly letter to his father, passed his tongue round his own teeth, trying to count them by the sensory quality of it. But, losing count, he put an inky forefinger into his mouth instead. There seemed to be fourteen in his lower jaw and thirteen and a half in the upper, for half of a front tooth had been missing ever since, a few weeks ago, he had fallen out of a tree on to his face, and the most industrious scrutiny of that fatal spot had never resulted in his finding it. In any case, then, he had twenty-seven and a half teeth, and it was reasonable to suppose that a mammoth, therefore, unless he had fallen out of a tree (if there were such in the glacial age) had at least twenty-eight. That huge yellow lump of a thing, then, as big as David’s whole head, was only one twenty-eighth of his chewing apparatus. Why, an entire bun could stick to it and be unobserved. A mammoth could have twenty-eight buns in his mouth and really remain unaware of the fact. Fancy having a bun on every tooth and not knowing! How much ought a mammoth’s pocket-money to be if you had to provide on this scale? And when would its mouth be really full? And how... David was growing a little sleepy.

“Blaize!” said Mr. Dutton’s voice.

David sucked his finger.

“Yes, sir!” he said.

“Have you finished your letter home?”

“No, sir,” said David, with engaging candour.

“Then I would suggest that you ceased trying to clean your finger and get on with it.”

“Rather, sir!” said David.

The boys’ desks, transferred from their old class-room, stood in a three-sided square in the centre of the museum, while Mr. Dutton’s table, with his desk on it, was in the window. The door of the museum was open, so too was the window by the master’s seat, for the hour was between four and five of the afternoon and the afternoon that of a sweltering July Sunday. Mr. Dutton himself was a tall and ineffective young man, entirely undistinguished for either physical or mental powers, who had taken a somewhat moderate degree at Cambridge, and had played lacrosse. By virtue of the mediocrity of his attainments, his scholastic career had not risen to the heights of a public school, and he had been obliged to be content with a mastership at this preparatory establishment. He bullied in a rather feeble manner the boys under his charge, and drew in his horns if they showed signs of not being afraid of him. But in these cases he took it out of them by sending in the gloomiest reports of their conduct and progress at the end of term, to the fierce and tremendous clergyman who was the head of the place. The Head inspired universal terror both among his assistant masters and his pupils, but he inspired also a whole-hearted admiration. He did not take more than half a dozen classes during the week, but he was liable to descend on any form without a moment’s notice like a bolt from the blue. He used the cane with remarkable energy, and preached lamb-like sermons in the school chapel on Sunday. The boys, who were experienced augurs on such subjects, knew all about this, and dreaded a notably lamb-like sermon as presaging trouble on Monday. In fact, Mr. Acland had his notions about discipline, and completely lived up to them in his conduct.

Having told Blaize to get on with his home-letter, Mr. Dutton resumed his employment, which was not what it seemed. On his desk, it is true, was a large Prayer-book, for he had been hearing the boys their Catechism, in the matter of which Blaize had proved himself wonderfully ignorant, and had been condemned to write out his duty towards his neighbour (who had very agreeably attempted to prompt him) three times, and show it up before morning school on Monday. There was a Bible there also, out of which, when the Sunday letters home were finished, Mr. Dutton would read a chapter about the second missionary journey of St. Paul, and then ask questions. But while these letters were being written Mr. Dutton was not Sabbatically employed, for nestling between his books was a yellow-backed volume of stories by Guy de Maupassant.... Mr. Dutton found him most entertaining: he skated on such very thin ice, and never quite went through.

Mr. Dutton turned the page.... Yes, how clever not to go through, for there was certainly mud underneath. He gave a faint chuckle of interest, and dexterously turned the chuckle into a cough. At that sound a small sigh of relief, a sense of relaxation went round the class, for it was clear that old Dutton (Dubs was his more general nomenclature) was deep in his yellow book. When that consummation, so devoutly wished, was arrived at, any diversion of a moderately quiet nature might be indulged in.

Crabtree began: he was a boy of goat-like face, and had been known as Nanny, till the somewhat voluminous appearance of his new pair of trousers had caused him to be rechristened Bags. He had finished his letter to his mother with remarkable speed, and had, by writing small, conveyed quite sufficient information to her on a half-sheet. There was thus the other half-sheet, noiselessly torn off, to be framed into munitions of aerial warfare. He folded it neatly into the form of a dart, he inked the point of it by dipping it into the china receptacle at the top of his desk, and launched it with unerring aim, enfilading the cross-bench where David sat. It hit him just exactly where the other half of his missing tooth should have been, for his lip was drawn back and his tongue slightly protruded in the agonies of composing a suitable letter to his father. The soft wet point struck it full, and spattered ink over his lip.

“Oh, damn,” said David very softly.

Then he paused, stricken to stone, and quite ready to deny that he had spoken at all. His eyes apprehensively sought Mr. Dutton, and he saw that he had not heard, being deep in the misfortunes that happened to Mademoiselle Fifi.

“I’ll lick you afterwards, Bags,” he said gently.

“Better lick yourself now,” whispered Bags.

A faint giggle at Bags’s repartee went round the class, like the sound of a breaking ripple. This penetrated into Mr. Dutton’s consciousness, and, shifting his attitude a little without looking up, he leaned his forehead on his open hand, so that he could observe the boys through the chinks of his fingers. David, of course, was far too old a hand to be caught by this paltry subterfuge, for “playing chinks” was a manœuvre of the enemy which had got quite stale through repetition, and he therefore gently laid down on the sloping top of his locker the dart which he had just dipped again in his inkpot to throw back at Bags, and with an industrious air turned to his letter again.

The twenty minutes allotted on Sunday afternoon school for writing home to parents was already more than half spent, but the date which he had copied off his neighbour and “My dear Papa” was as far as the first fine careless rapture of composition had carried him. It was really difficult to know what to say to his dear papa, for all the events of the past week were completely thrown into shadow by the one sunlit fact that he had got his school-colours for cricket, and had made twenty-four runs in the last match. But, as he knew perfectly well, his father cared as little for cricket as he did for football; indeed, David ironically doubted if he knew the difference between them, and that deplorable fact restricted the zone of interests common to them. And really the only other event of true importance was that his aunt had sent him a postal order for five shillings. It would not be politic to tell his father about that, in case of inquiries being made as to what he had done with it, when he got home in a fortnight’s time for the summer holidays.

He would have eaten it all long before then, for it was strawberry-time. David bit heavily into his wooden pen-holder in his efforts to think of something innocuous to say, and found his mouth full of fragments of chewed wood. These he proceeded to masticate rather ostentatiously while he still sucked his inky lip, the joy of this being that old Dubs was still playing chinks, and would certainly, as a surprise, ask him before long what he was eating. This was stimulating to the mind, and he plunged into his letter.

David gave one fleeting blue-eyed glance at Mr. Dutton, and saw that the blessed moment was approaching. The chink had widened, and there was no doubt whatever that it was he who was being observed. Then he bent his yellow head over his letter again, and chewed the fragments of pen-holder with renewed vigour.

“Blaize, what are you eating?” said Mr. Dutton suddenly.

David looked up in bland and innocent surprise.

“Eating, sir?” he asked. “My pen-holder, sir.”

A slight titter went round the class, for David had the enviable reputation of “drawing” his pastors and masters (always excepting Head) by the geniality and unexpectedness of his replies. But on this occasion the blandness was a little overdone, and instead of “taking a back seat” Mr. Dutton put down his yellow novel on his desk, back upwards, and came across the room to where David was sitting. The dart, with its wet, inky point lay there, and it was too late to draw his blotting-paper over it. But a more dramatic dénouement than the mere discovery of an inky dart, which might be assessed at fifty lines–or perhaps a hundred, since it was Sunday–hung in the air.

“Open your mouth,” said Mr. Dutton, not yet seeing the dart.

David had a good large useful mouth, and he opened it very suddenly to its extremest extent, putting out his tongue a little, which might or might not have been an accident. That unruly member was undoubtedly covered with splinters of common pen-holder, and nothing else at all.

“Sir-may-I-shut-it-again?” said David all in one breath, opening it, the moment he had spoken, to its widest.

Mr. Dutton’s eye fell on the inky dart.

“What is that?” he said.

David gave a prodigious gulp, and swallowed as much wood-fibre as was convenient.

“That, sir?” he said politely. “A paper dart, sir, inked.”

“Did you make it?” asked Dubs.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.