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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesMike - Chapter LIV - ADAIR HAS A WORD WITH MIKE
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Mike - Chapter LIV - ADAIR HAS A WORD WITH MIKE Post by :blit519 Category :Long Stories Author :P G Wodehouse Date :June 2011 Read :542

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Mike - Chapter LIV - ADAIR HAS A WORD WITH MIKE

CHAPTER LIV - ADAIR HAS A WORD WITH MIKE


Mike, all unconscious of the stirring proceedings which had been going
on below stairs, was peacefully reading a letter he had received that
morning from Strachan at Wrykyn, in which the successor to the cricket
captaincy which should have been Mike's had a good deal to say in a
lugubrious strain. In Mike's absence things had been going badly with
Wrykyn. A broken arm, contracted in the course of some rash
experiments with a day-boy's motor-bicycle, had deprived the team of
the services of Dunstable, the only man who had shown any signs of
being able to bowl a side out. Since this calamity, wrote Strachan,
everything had gone wrong. The M.C.C., led by Mike's brother Reggie,
the least of the three first-class-cricketing Jacksons, had smashed
them by a hundred and fifty runs. Geddington had wiped them off the
face of the earth. The Incogs, with a team recruited exclusively from
the rabbit-hutch--not a well-known man on the side except Stacey,
a veteran who had been playing for the club since Fuller Pilch's
time--had got home by two wickets. In fact, it was Strachan's opinion
that the Wrykyn team that summer was about the most hopeless gang of
dead-beats that had ever made an exhibition of itself on the school
grounds. The Ripton match, fortunately, was off, owing to an outbreak
of mumps at that shrine of learning and athletics--the second outbreak
of the malady in two terms. Which, said Strachan, was hard lines on
Ripton, but a bit of jolly good luck for Wrykyn, as it had saved them
from what would probably have been a record hammering, Ripton having
eight of their last year's team left, including Dixon, the fast
bowler, against whom Mike alone of the Wrykyn team had been able to
make runs in the previous season. Altogether, Wrykyn had struck a bad
patch.

Mike mourned over his suffering school. If only he could have been
there to help. It might have made all the difference. In school
cricket one good batsman, to go in first and knock the bowlers off
their length, may take a weak team triumphantly through a season. In
school cricket the importance of a good start for the first wicket is
incalculable.

As he put Strachan's letter away in his pocket, all his old bitterness
against Sedleigh, which had been ebbing during the past few days,
returned with a rush. He was conscious once more of that feeling of
personal injury which had made him hate his new school on the first
day of term.

And it was at this point, when his resentment was at its height, that
Adair, the concrete representative of everything Sedleighan, entered
the room.

There are moments in life's placid course when there has got to be the
biggest kind of row. This was one of them.

* * * * *

Psmith, who was leaning against the mantelpiece, reading the serial
story in a daily paper which he had abstracted from the senior day-room,
made the intruder free of the study with a dignified wave of the hand,
and went on reading. Mike remained in the deck-chair in which he was
sitting, and contented himself with glaring at the newcomer.

Psmith was the first to speak.

"If you ask my candid opinion," he said, looking up from his paper, "I
should say that young Lord Antony Trefusis was in the soup already. I
seem to see the _consommé splashing about his ankles. He's had a
note telling him to be under the oak-tree in the Park at midnight.
He's just off there at the end of this instalment. I bet Long Jack,
the poacher, is waiting there with a sandbag. Care to see the paper,
Comrade Adair? Or don't you take any interest in contemporary
literature?"

"Thanks," said Adair. "I just wanted to speak to Jackson for a
minute."

"Fate," said Psmith, "has led your footsteps to the right place. That
is Comrade Jackson, the Pride of the School, sitting before you."

"What do you want?" said Mike.

He suspected that Adair had come to ask him once again to play for the
school. The fact that the M.C.C. match was on the following day made
this a probable solution of the reason for his visit. He could think
of no other errand that was likely to have set the head of Downing's
paying afternoon calls.

"I'll tell you in a minute. It won't take long."

"That," said Psmith approvingly, "is right. Speed is the key-note of
the present age. Promptitude. Despatch. This is no time for loitering.
We must be strenuous. We must hustle. We must Do It Now. We----"

"Buck up," said Mike.

"Certainly," said Adair. "I've just been talking to Stone and
Robinson."

"An excellent way of passing an idle half-hour," said Psmith.

"We weren't exactly idle," said Adair grimly. "It didn't last long,
but it was pretty lively while it did. Stone chucked it after the
first round."

Mike got up out of his chair. He could not quite follow what all this
was about, but there was no mistaking the truculence of Adair's
manner. For some reason, which might possibly be made dear later,
Adair was looking for trouble, and Mike in his present mood felt that
it would be a privilege to see that he got it.

Psmith was regarding Adair through his eyeglass with pain and
surprise.

"Surely," he said, "you do not mean us to understand that you have
been _brawling with Comrade Stone! This is bad hearing. I
thought that you and he were like brothers. Such a bad example for
Comrade Robinson, too. Leave us, Adair. We would brood. Oh, go thee,
knave, I'll none of thee. Shakespeare."

Psmith turned away, and resting his elbows on the mantelpiece, gazed
at himself mournfully in the looking-glass.

"I'm not the man I was," he sighed, after a prolonged inspection.
"There are lines on my face, dark circles beneath my eyes. The fierce
rush of life at Sedleigh is wasting me away."

"Stone and I had a discussion about early-morning fielding-practice,"
said Adair, turning to Mike.

Mike said nothing.

"I thought his fielding wanted working up a bit, so I told him to turn
out at six to-morrow morning. He said he wouldn't, so we argued it
out. He's going to all right. So is Robinson."

Mike remained silent.

"So are you," added Adair.

"I get thinner and thinner," said Psmith from the mantelpiece.

Mike looked at Adair, and Adair looked at Mike, after the manner of
two dogs before they fly at one another. There was an electric silence
in the study. Psmith peered with increased earnestness into the glass.

"Oh?" said Mike at last. "What makes you think that?"

"I don't think. I know."

"Any special reason for my turning out?"

"Yes."

"What's that?"

"You're going to play for the school against the M.C.C. to-morrow, and
I want you to get some practice."

"I wonder how you got that idea!"

"Curious I should have done, isn't it?"

"Very. You aren't building on it much, are you?" said Mike politely.

"I am, rather," replied Adair with equal courtesy.

"I'm afraid you'll be disappointed."

"I don't think so."

"My eyes," said Psmith regretfully, "are a bit close together.
However," he added philosophically, "it's too late to alter that now."

Mike drew a step closer to Adair.

"What makes you think I shall play against the M.C.C.?" he asked
curiously.

"I'm going to make you."

Mike took another step forward. Adair moved to meet him.

"Would you care to try now?" said Mike.

For just one second the two drew themselves together preparatory to
beginning the serious business of the interview, and in that second
Psmith, turning from the glass, stepped between them.

"Get out of the light, Smith," said Mike.

Psmith waved him back with a deprecating gesture.

"My dear young friends," he said placidly, "if you _will let
your angry passions rise, against the direct advice of Doctor Watts,
I suppose you must, But when you propose to claw each other in my
study, in the midst of a hundred fragile and priceless ornaments, I
lodge a protest. If you really feel that you want to scrap, for
goodness sake do it where there's some room. I don't want all the
study furniture smashed. I know a bank whereon the wild thyme grows,
only a few yards down the road, where you can scrap all night if you
want to. How would it be to move on there? Any objections? None? Then
shift ho! and let's get it over."

Content of CHAPTER LIV - ADAIR HAS A WORD WITH MIKE (P G Wodehouse's novel: Mike)

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