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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesHead Of Kay's - Chapter XIV - FENN RECEIVES A LETTER
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Head Of Kay's - Chapter XIV - FENN RECEIVES A LETTER Post by :webforce Category :Long Stories Author :P G Wodehouse Date :June 2011 Read :2370

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Head Of Kay's - Chapter XIV - FENN RECEIVES A LETTER

CHAPTER XIV - FENN RECEIVES A LETTER


But the step was not such a very long one after all. What it amounted
to was simply this, that open rebellion ceased in Kay's. When Kennedy
put up the list on the notice-board for the third time, which he did
on the morning following his encounter with Walton, and wrote on it
that the match with Blackburn's would take place that afternoon, his
team turned out like lambs, and were duly defeated by thirty-one
points. He had to play a substitute for Walton, who was rather too
battered to be of any real use in the scrum; but, with that exception,
the team that entered the field was the same that should have entered
it the day before.

But his labours in the Augean stables of Kay's were by no means over.
Practically they had only begun. The state of the house now was
exactly what it had been under Fenn. When Kennedy had taken over the
reins, Kay's had become on the instant twice as bad as it had been
before. By his summary treatment of the revolution, he had, so to
speak, wiped off this deficit. What he had to do now was to begin to
improve things. Kay's was now in its normal state--slack, rowdy in an
underhand way, and utterly useless to the school. It was "up to"
Kennedy, as they say in America, to start in and make something
presentable and useful out of these unpromising materials.

What annoyed him more than anything else was the knowledge that if
only Fenn chose to do the square thing and help him in his work, the
combination would be irresistible. It was impossible to make any
leeway to speak of by himself. If Fenn would only forget his
grievances and join forces with him, they could electrify the house.

Fenn, however, showed no inclination to do anything of the kind. He
and Kennedy never spoke to one another now except when it was
absolutely unavoidable, and then they behaved with that painful
politeness in which the public schoolman always wraps himself as in a
garment when dealing with a friend with whom he has quarrelled.

On the Walton episode Fenn had made no comment, though it is probable
that he thought a good deal.

It was while matters were in this strained condition that Fenn
received a letter from his elder brother. This brother had been at
Eckleton in his time--School House--and had left five years before to
go to Cambridge. Cambridge had not taught him a great deal, possibly
because he did not meet the well-meant efforts of his tutor half-way.
The net result of his three years at King's was--_imprimis_, a
cricket blue, including a rather lucky eighty-three at Lord's;
secondly, a very poor degree; thirdly and lastly, a taste for
literature and the drama--he had been a prominent member of the
Footlights Club. When he came down he looked about him for some
occupation which should combine in happy proportions a small amount of
work and a large amount of salary, and, finding none, drifted into
journalism, at which calling he had been doing very fairly ever since.

"Dear Bob," the letter began. Fenn's names were Robert Mowbray, the
second of which he had spent much of his time in concealing. "Just a
line."

The elder Fenn always began his letters with these words, whether they
ran to one sheet or eight. In the present case the screed was not
particularly long.

"Do you remember my reading you a bit of an opera I was writing? Well,
I finished it, and, after going the round of most of the managers, who
chucked it with wonderful unanimity, it found an admirer in Higgs, the
man who took the part of the duke in _The Outsider_. Luckily, he
happened to be thinking of starting on his own in opera instead of
farce, and there's a part in mine which fits him like a glove. So he's
going to bring it out at the Imperial in the spring, and by way of
testing the piece--trying it on the dog, as it were--he means to tour
with it. Now, here's the point of this letter. We start at Eckleton
next Wednesday. We shall only be there one night, for we go on to
Southampton on Thursday. I suppose you couldn't come and see it? I
remember Peter Brown, who got the last place in the team the year I
got my cricket colours, cutting out of his house (Kay's, by the way)
and going down town to see a piece at the theatre. I'm bound to admit
he got sacked for it, but still, it shows that it can be done. All the
same, I shouldn't try it on if I were you. You'll be able to read all
about the 'striking success' and 'unrestrained enthusiasm' in the
_Eckleton Mirror on Thursday. Mind you buy a copy."

The rest of the letter was on other subjects. It took Fenn less than a
minute to decide to patronise that opening performance. He was never
in the habit of paying very much attention to risks when he wished to
do anything, and now he felt as if he cared even less than usual what
might be the outcome of the adventure. Since he had ceased to be on
speaking terms with Kennedy, he had found life decidedly dull. Kennedy
had been his only intimate friend. He had plenty of acquaintances, as
a first eleven and first fifteen man usually has, but none of them
were very entertaining. Consequently he welcomed the idea of a break
in the monotony of affairs. The only thing that had broken it up to
the present had been a burglary at the school house. Some enterprising
marauder had broken in a week before and gone off with a few articles
of value from the headmaster's drawing-room. But the members of the
school house had talked about this episode to such an extent that the
rest of the school had dropped off the subject, exhausted, and
declined to discuss it further. And things had become monotonous once
more.

Having decided to go, Fenn began to consider how he should do it. And
here circumstances favoured him. It happened that on the evening on
which his brother's play was to be produced the headmaster was giving
his once-a-term dinner to the house-prefects. This simplified matters
wonderfully. The only time when his absence from the house was at all
likely to be discovered would be at prayers, which took place at
half-past nine. The prefects' dinner solved this difficulty for him.
Kay would not expect him to be at prayers, thinking he was over at the
Head's, while the Head, if he noticed his absence at all, would
imagine that he was staying away from the dinner owing to a headache
or some other malady. It seemed tempting Providence not to take
advantage of such an excellent piece of luck. For the rest, detection
was practically impossible. Kennedy's advent to the house had ousted
Fenn from the dormitory in which he had slept hitherto, and, there
being no bed available in any of the other dormitories, he had been
put into the spare room usually reserved for invalids whose invalidism
was not of a sufficiently infectious kind to demand their removal to
the infirmary. As for getting back into the house, he would leave the
window of his study unfastened. He could easily climb on to the
window-ledge, and so to bed without let or hindrance.

The distance from Kay's to the town was a mile and a half. If he
started at the hour when he should have been starting for the school
house, he would arrive just in time to see the curtain go up.

Having settled these facts definitely in his mind, he got his books
together and went over to school.

Content of CHAPTER XIV - FENN RECEIVES A LETTER (P G Wodehouse's novel: Head of Kay's)

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