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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesHead Of Kay's - Chapter XI - THE SENIOR DAYROOM OPENS FIRE
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Head Of Kay's - Chapter XI - THE SENIOR DAYROOM OPENS FIRE Post by :ckilian Category :Long Stories Author :P G Wodehouse Date :June 2011 Read :3541

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Head Of Kay's - Chapter XI - THE SENIOR DAYROOM OPENS FIRE

CHAPTER XI - THE SENIOR DAYROOM OPENS FIRE


Curiously enough, it was shortly after this that the junior dayroom
ceased almost entirely to trouble the head of the house. Not that they
turned over new leaves, and modelled their conduct on that of the hero
of the Sunday-school story. They were still disorderly, but in a
lesser degree; and ragging became a matter of private enterprise among
the fags instead of being, as it had threatened to be, an organised
revolt against the new head. When a Kay's fag rioted now, he did so
with the air of one endeavouring to amuse himself, not as if he were
carrying on a holy war against the oppressor.

Kennedy's difficulties were considerably diminished by this change. A
head of a house expects the juniors of his house to rag. It is what
they are put into the world to do, and there is no difficulty in
keeping the thing within decent limits. A revolution is another case
altogether. Kennedy was grateful for the change, for it gave him more
time to keep an eye on the other members of the house, but he had no
idea what had brought it about. As a matter of fact, he had Billy
Silver to thank for it. The chief organiser of the movement against
Kennedy in the junior dayroom had been the red-haired Wren, who
preached war to his fellow fags, partly because he loved to create a
disturbance, and partly because Walton, who hated Kennedy, had told
him to. Between Wren and Billy Silver a feud had existed since their
first meeting. The unsatisfactory conclusion to their encounter in
camp had given another lease of life to the feud, and Billy had come
back to Kay's with the fixed intention of smiting his auburn-haired
foe hip and thigh at the earliest opportunity. Wren's attitude with
respect to Kennedy gave him a decent excuse. He had no particular
regard for Kennedy. The fact that he was a friend of his brother's was
no recommendation. There existed between the two Silvers that feeling
which generally exists between an elder and a much younger brother at
the same school. Each thought the other a bit of an idiot, and though
equal to tolerating him personally, was hanged if he was going to do
the same by his friends. In Billy's circle of acquaintances, Jimmy's
friends were looked upon with cold suspicion as officious meddlers who
would give them lines if they found them out of bounds. The
aristocrats with whom Jimmy foregathered barely recognised the
existence of Billy's companions. Kennedy's claim to Billy's good
offices rested on the fact that they both objected to Wren.

So that, when Wren lifted up his voice in the junior dayroom, and
exhorted the fags to go and make a row in the passage outside
Kennedy's study, and--from a safe distance, and having previously
ensured a means of rapid escape--to fling boots at his door, Billy
damped the popular enthusiasm which had been excited by the proposal
by kicking Wren with some violence, and begging him not to be an ass.
Whereupon they resumed their battle at the point at which it had been
interrupted at camp. And when, some five minutes later, Billy, from
his seat on his adversary's chest, offered to go through the same
performance with anybody else who wished, the junior dayroom came to
the conclusion that his feelings with regard to the new head of the
house, however foolish and unpatriotic, had better be respected. And
the revolution of the fags had fizzled out from that moment.

In the senior dayroom, however, the flag of battle was still unfurled.
It was so obvious that Kennedy had been put into the house as a
reformer, and the seniors of Kay's had such an objection to being
reformed, that trouble was only to be expected. It was the custom in
most houses for the head of the house, by right of that position, to
be also captain of football. The senior dayroom was aggrieved at
Kennedy's taking this post from Fenn. Fenn was in his second year in
the school fifteen, and he was the three-quarter who scored most
frequently for Eckleton, whereas Kennedy, though practically a
certainty for one of the six vacant places in the school scrum, was at
present entitled to wear only a second fifteen cap. The claims of Fenn
to be captain of Kay's football were strong, Kennedy had begged him to
continue in that position more than once. Fenn's persistent refusal
had helped to increase the coolness between them, and it had also made
things more difficult for Kennedy in the house.

It was on the Monday of the third week of term that Kennedy, at Jimmy
Silver's request, arranged a "friendly" between Kay's and Blackburn's.
There could be no doubt as to which was the better team (for
Blackburn's had been runners up for the Cup the season before), but
the better one's opponents the better the practice. Kennedy wrote out
the list and fixed it on the notice board. The match was to be played
on the following afternoon.

A football team must generally be made up of the biggest men at the
captain's disposal, so it happened that Walton, Perry, Callingham, and
the other leaders of dissension in Kay's all figured on the list. The
consequence was that the list came in for a good deal of comment in
the senior dayroom. There were games every Saturday and Wednesday, and
it annoyed Walton and friends that they should have to turn out on an
afternoon that was not a half holiday. It was trouble enough playing
football on the days when it was compulsory. As for patriotism, no
member of the house even pretended to care whether Kay's put a good
team into the field or not. The senior dayroom sat talking over the
matter till lights-out. When Kennedy came down next morning, he found
his list scribbled over with blue pencil, while across it in bold
letters ran the single word,

ROT.

He went to his study, wrote out a fresh copy, and pinned it up in
place of the old one. He had been early in coming down that morning,
and the majority of the Kayites had not seen the defaced notice. The
match was fixed for half-past four. At four a thin rain was falling.
The weather had been bad for some days, but on this particular
afternoon it readied the limit. In addition to being wet, it was also
cold, and Kennedy, as he walked over to the grounds, felt that he
would be glad when the game was over. He hoped that Blackburn's would
be punctual, and congratulated himself on his foresight in securing Mr
Blackburn as referee. Some of the staff, when they consented to hold
the whistle in a scratch game, invariably kept the teams waiting on
the field for half an hour before turning up. Mr Blackburn, an the
other hand, was always punctual. He came out of his house just as
Kennedy turned in at the school gates.

"Well, Kennedy," he said from the depths of his ulster, the collar of
which he had turned up over his ears with a prudence which Kennedy,
having come out with only a blazer on over his football clothes,
distinctly envied, "I hope your men are not going to be late. I don't
think I ever saw a worse day for football. How long were you thinking
of playing? Two twenty-fives would be enough for a day like this, I
think."

Kennedy consulted with Jimmy Silver, who came up at this moment, and
they agreed without argument that twenty-five minutes each way would
be the very thing.

"Where are your men?" asked Jimmy. "I've got all our chaps out here,
bar Challis, who'll be out in a few minutes. I left him almost
changed."

Challis appeared a little later, and joined the rest of Blackburn's
team, who were putting in the time and trying to keep warm by running
and passing and dropping desultory goals. But, with the exception of
Fenn, who stood brooding by himself in the centre of the field,
wrapped to the eyes in a huge overcoat, and two other house prefects
of Kay's, who strolled up and down looking as if they wished they were
in their studies, there was no sign of the missing team.

"I can't make it out," said Kennedy.

"You're sure you put up the right time?" asked Jimmy Silver.

"Yes, quite."

It certainly could not be said that Kay's had had any room for doubt
as to the time of the match, for it had appeared in large figures on
both notices.

A quarter to five sounded from the college clock.

"We must begin soon," said Mr Blackburn, "or there will not be light
enough even for two twenty-fives."

Kennedy felt wretched. Apart from the fact that he was frozen to an
icicle and drenched by the rain, he felt responsible for his team, and
he could see that Blackburn's men were growing irritated at the delay,
though they did their best to conceal it.

"Can't we lend them some subs?" suggested Challis, hopefully.

"All right--if you can raise eleven subs," said Silver. "They've only
got four men on the field at present."

Challis subsided.

"Look here," said Kennedy, "I'm going back to the house to see what's
up. I'll be back as soon as I can. They must have mistaken the time or
something after all."

He rushed back to the house, and flung open the door of the senior
dayroom. It was empty.

Kennedy had expected to find his missing men huddled in a semicircle
round the fire, waiting for some one to come and tell them that
Blackburn's had taken the field, and that they could come out now
without any fear of having to wait in the rain for the match to begin.
This, he thought, would have been the unselfish policy of Kay's senior
dayroom.

But to find nobody was extraordinary.

The thought occurred to him that the team might be changing in their
dormitories. He ran upstairs. But all the dormitories were locked, as
he might have known they would have been. Coming downstairs again he
met his fag, Spencer.

Spencer replied to his inquiry that he had only just come in. He did
not know where the team had got to. No, he had not seen any of them.

"Oh, yes, though," he added, as an afterthought, "I met Walton just
now. He looked as if he was going down town."

Walton had once licked Spencer, and that vindictive youth thought that
this might be a chance of getting back at him.

"Oh," said Kennedy, quietly, "Walton? Did you? Thanks."

Spencer was disappointed at his lack of excitement. His news did not
seem to interest him.

Kennedy went back to the football field to inform Jimmy Silver of the
result of his investigations.

Content of CHAPTER XI - THE SENIOR DAYROOM OPENS FIRE (P G Wodehouse's novel: Head of Kay's)

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