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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesHead Of Kay's - Chapter XIII - THE FIGHT IN THE DORMITORY
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Head Of Kay's - Chapter XIII - THE FIGHT IN THE DORMITORY Post by :ellie Category :Long Stories Author :P G Wodehouse Date :June 2011 Read :551

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Head Of Kay's - Chapter XIII - THE FIGHT IN THE DORMITORY

CHAPTER XIII - THE FIGHT IN THE DORMITORY


Stating it broadly, fighters may be said to be divided into two
classes--those who are content to take two blows if they can give
three in return, and those who prefer to receive as little punishment
as possible, even at the expense of scoring fewer points themselves.
Kennedy's position, when Jimmy Silver called time, was peculiar. On
all the other occasions on which he had fought--with the gloves on in
the annual competition, and at the assault-at-arms--he had gone in for
the policy of taking all that the other man liked to give him, and
giving rather more in exchange. Now, however, he was obliged to alter
his whole style. For a variety of reasons it was necessary that he
should come out of this fight with as few marks as possible. To begin
with, he represented, in a sense, the Majesty of the Law. He was
tackling Walton more by way of an object-lesson to the Kayite
mutineers than for his own personal satisfaction. The object-lesson
would lose in impressiveness if he were compelled to go about for a
week or so with a pair of black eyes, or other adornments of a similar
kind. Again--and this was even more important--if he was badly marked
the affair must come to the knowledge of the headmaster. Being a
prefect, and in the sixth form, he came into contact with the Head
every day, and the disclosure of the fact that he had been engaged in
a pitched battle with a member of his house, who was, in addition to
other disadvantages, very low down in the school, would be likely to
lead to unpleasantness. A school prefect of Eckleton was supposed to
be hedged about with so much dignity that he could quell turbulent
inferiors with a glance. The idea of one of the august body lowering
himself to the extent of emphasising his authority with the bare
knuckle would scandalise the powers.

So Kennedy, rising at the call of time from the bed on which he sat,
came up to the scratch warily.

Walton, on the other hand, having everything to gain and nothing to
lose, and happy in the knowledge that no amount of bruises could do
him any harm, except physically, came on with the evident intention of
making a hurricane fight of it. He had very little science as a boxer.
Heavy two-handed slogging was his forte, and, as the majority of his
opponents up to the present had not had sufficient skill to discount
his strength, he had found this a very successful line of action.
Kennedy and he had never had the gloves on together. In the
competition of the previous year both had entered in their respective
classes, Kennedy as a lightweight, Walton in the middles, and both,
after reaching the semi-final, had been defeated by the narrowest of
margins by men who had since left the school. That had been in the
previous Easter term, and, while Walton had remained much the same as
regards weight and strength, Kennedy, owing to a term of hard bowling
and a summer holiday spent in the open, had filled out. They were now
practically on an equality, as far as weight was concerned. As for
condition, that was all in favour of Kennedy. He played football in
his spare time. Walton, on the days when football was not compulsory,
smoked cigarettes.

Neither of the pair showed any desire to open the fight by shaking
hands. This was not a friendly spar. It was business. The first move
was made by Walton, who feinted with his right and dashed in to fight
at close quarters. It was not a convincing feint. At any rate, it did
not deceive Kennedy. He countered with his left, and swung his right
at the body with all the force he could put into the hit. Walton went
back a pace, sparred for a moment, then came in again, hitting
heavily. Kennedy's counter missed its mark this time. He just stopped
a round sweep of Walton's right, ducked to avoid a similar effort of
his left, and they came together in a clinch.

In a properly regulated glove-fight, the referee, on observing the
principals clinch, says, "Break away there, break away," in a sad,
reproachful voice, and the fighters separate without demur, being very
much alive to the fact that, as far as that contest is concerned,
their destinies are in his hands, and that any bad behaviour in the
ring will lose them the victory. But in an impromptu turn-up like this
one, the combatants show a tendency to ignore the rules so carefully
mapped out by the present Marquess of Queensberry's grandfather, and
revert to the conditions of warfare under which Cribb and Spring won
their battles. Kennedy and Walton, having clinched, proceeded to
wrestle up and down the room, while Jimmy Silver looked on from his
eminence in pained surprise at the sight of two men, who knew the
rules of the ring, so far forgetting themselves.

To do Kennedy justice, it was not his fault. He was only acting in
self-defence. Walton had started the hugging. Also, he had got the
under-grip, which, when neither man knows a great deal of the science
of wrestling, generally means victory. Kennedy was quite sure that he
could not throw his antagonist, but he hung on in the knowledge that
the round must be over shortly, when Walton would have to loose him.

"Time," said Jimmy Silver.

Kennedy instantly relaxed his grip, and in that instant Walton swung
him off his feet, and they came down together with a crash that shook
the room. Kennedy was underneath, and, as he fell, his head came into
violent contact with the iron support of a bed.

Jimmy Silver sprang down from his seat.

"What are you playing at, Walton? Didn't you hear me call time? It was
a beastly foul--the worst I ever saw. You ought to be sacked for a
thing like that. Look here, Kennedy, you needn't go on. I disqualify
Walton for fouling."

The usually genial James stammered with righteous indignation.

Kennedy sat down on a bed, dizzily.

"No," he said; "I'm going on."

"But he fouled you."

"I don't care. I'll look after myself. Is it time yet?"

"Ten seconds more, if you really are going on."

He climbed back on to the chest of drawers.

"Time."

Kennedy came up feeling weak and sick. The force with which he had hit
his head on the iron had left him dazed.

Walton rushed in as before. He had no chivalrous desire to spare his
man by way of compensation for fouling him. What monopolised his
attention was the evident fact that Kennedy was in a bad way, and that
a little strenuous infighting might end the affair in the desired
manner.

It was at this point that Kennedy had reason to congratulate himself
on donning gymnasium shoes. They gave him that extra touch of
lightness which enabled him to dodge blows which he was too weak to
parry. Everything was vague and unreal to him. He seemed to be looking
on at a fight between Walton and some stranger.

Then the effect of his fall began to wear off. He could feel himself
growing stronger. Little by little his head cleared, and he began once
more to take a personal interest in the battle. It is astonishing what
a power a boxer, who has learnt the art carefully, has of automatic
fighting. The expert gentleman who fights under the pseudonym of "Kid
M'Coy" once informed the present writer that in one of his fights he
was knocked down by such a severe hit that he remembered nothing
further, and it was only on reading the paper next morning that he
found, to his surprise, that he had fought four more rounds after the
blow, and won the battle handsomely on points. Much the same thing
happened to Kennedy. For the greater part of the second round he
fought without knowing it. When Jimmy Silver called time he was in as
good case as ever, and the only effects of the blow on his head were a
vast lump underneath the hair, and a settled determination to win or
perish. In a few minutes the bell would ring for tea, and all his
efforts would end in nothing. It was no good fighting a draw with
Walton if he meant to impress the house. He knew exactly what Rumour,
assisted by Walton, would make of the affair in that case. "Have you
heard the latest?" A would ask of B. "Why, Kennedy tried to touch
Walton up for not playing footer, and Walton went for him and would
have given him frightful beans, only they had to go down to tea."
There must be none of that sort of thing.

"Time," said Jimmy Silver, breaking in on his meditations.

It was probably the suddenness and unexpectedness of it that took
Walton aback. Up till now his antagonist had been fighting strictly on
the defensive, and was obviously desirous of escaping punishment as
far as might be possible. And then the fall at the end of round one
had shaken him up, so that he could hardly fight at all at their
second meeting. Walton naturally expected that it would be left to him
to do the leading in round three. Instead of this, however, Kennedy
opened the round with such a lightning attack that Walton was all
abroad in a moment. In his most scientific mood he had never had the
remotest notion of how to guard. He was aggressive and nothing else.
Attacked by a quick hitter, he was useless. Three times Kennedy got
through his guard with his left. The third hit staggered him. Before
he could recover, Kennedy had got his right in, and down went Walton
in a heap.

He was up again as soon as he touched the boards, and down again
almost as soon as he was up. Kennedy was always a straight hitter, and
now a combination of good cause and bad temper--for the thought of the
foul in the first round had stirred what was normally a more or less
placid nature into extreme viciousness--lent a vigour to his left arm
to which he had hitherto been a stranger. He did not use his right
again. It was not needed.

Twice more Walton went down. He was still down when Jimmy Silver
called time. When the half-minute interval between the rounds was
over, he stated that he was not going on.

Kennedy looked across at him as he sat on a bed dabbing tenderly at
his face with a handkerchief, and was satisfied with the success of
his object-lesson. From his own face the most observant of headmasters
could have detected no evidence that he had been engaged in a vulgar
fight. Walton, on the other hand, looked as if he had been engaged in
several--all violent. Kennedy went off to his study to change, feeling
that he had advanced a long step on the thorny path that led to the
Perfect House.

Content of CHAPTER XIII - THE FIGHT IN THE DORMITORY (P G Wodehouse's novel: Head of Kay's)

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