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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesMike - Chapter LVI - IN WHICH PEACE IS DECLARED
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Mike - Chapter LVI - IN WHICH PEACE IS DECLARED Post by :intromaster Category :Long Stories Author :P G Wodehouse Date :June 2011 Read :2223

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Mike - Chapter LVI - IN WHICH PEACE IS DECLARED

CHAPTER LVI - IN WHICH PEACE IS DECLARED


"Sprained his wrist?" said Mike. "How did he do that?"

"During the brawl. Apparently one of his efforts got home on your
elbow instead of your expressive countenance, and whether it was that
your elbow was particularly tough or his wrist particularly fragile, I
don't know. Anyhow, it went. It's nothing bad, but it'll keep him out
of the game to-morrow."

"I say, what beastly rough luck! I'd no idea. I'll go round."

"Not a bad scheme. Close the door gently after you, and if you see
anybody downstairs who looks as if he were likely to be going over to
the shop, ask him to get me a small pot of some rare old jam and tell
the man to chalk it up to me. The jam Comrade Outwood supplies to us
at tea is all right as a practical joke or as a food for those anxious
to commit suicide, but useless to anybody who values life."

On arriving at Mr. Downing's and going to Adair's study, Mike found
that his late antagonist was out. He left a note informing him of his
willingness to play in the morrow's match. The lock-up bell rang as he
went out of the house.

A spot of rain fell on his hand. A moment later there was a continuous
patter, as the storm, which had been gathering all day, broke in
earnest. Mike turned up his coat-collar, and ran back to Outwood's.
"At this rate," he said to himself, "there won't be a match at all
to-morrow."

* * * * *

When the weather decides, after behaving well for some weeks, to show
what it can do in another direction, it does the thing thoroughly.
When Mike woke the next morning the world was grey and dripping.
Leaden-coloured clouds drifted over the sky, till there was not a
trace of blue to be seen, and then the rain began again, in the
gentle, determined way rain has when it means to make a day of it.

It was one of those bad days when one sits in the pavilion, damp and
depressed, while figures in mackintoshes, with discoloured buckskin
boots, crawl miserably about the field in couples.

Mike, shuffling across to school in a Burberry, met Adair at Downing's
gate.

These moments are always difficult. Mike stopped--he could hardly walk
on as if nothing had happened--and looked down at his feet.

"Coming across?" he said awkwardly.

"Right ho!" said Adair.

They walked on in silence.

"It's only about ten to, isn't it?" said Mike.

Adair fished out his watch, and examined it with an elaborate care
born of nervousness.

"About nine to."

"Good. We've got plenty of time."

"Yes."

"I hate having to hurry over to school."

"So do I."

"I often do cut it rather fine, though."

"Yes. So do I."

"Beastly nuisance when one does."

"Beastly."

"It's only about a couple of minutes from the houses to the school, I
should think, shouldn't you?"

"Not much more. Might be three."

"Yes. Three if one didn't hurry."

"Oh, yes, if one didn't hurry."

Another silence.

"Beastly day," said Adair.

"Rotten."

Silence again.

"I say," said Mike, scowling at his toes, "awfully sorry about your
wrist."

"Oh, that's all right. It was my fault."

"Does it hurt?"

"Oh, no, rather not, thanks."

"I'd no idea you'd crocked yourself."

"Oh, no, that's all right. It was only right at the end. You'd have
smashed me anyhow."

"Oh, rot."

"I bet you anything you like you would."

"I bet you I shouldn't.... Jolly hard luck, just before the match."

"Oh, no.... I say, thanks awfully for saying you'd play."

"Oh, rot.... Do you think we shall get a game?"

Adair inspected the sky carefully.

"I don't know. It looks pretty bad, doesn't it?"

"Rotten. I say, how long will your wrist keep you out of cricket?"

"Be all right in a week. Less, probably."

"Good."

"Now that you and Smith are going to play, we ought to have a jolly
good season."

"Rummy, Smith turning out to be a cricketer."

"Yes. I should think he'd be a hot bowler, with his height."

"He must be jolly good if he was only just out of the Eton team last
year."

"Yes."

"What's the time?" asked Mike.

Adair produced his watch once more.

"Five to."

"We've heaps of time."

"Yes, heaps."

"Let's stroll on a bit down the road, shall we?"

"Right ho!"

Mike cleared his throat.

"I say."

"Hullo?"

"I've been talking to Smith. He was telling me that you thought I'd
promised to give Stone and Robinson places in the----"

"Oh, no, that's all right. It was only for a bit. Smith told me you
couldn't have done, and I saw that I was an ass to think you could
have. It was Stone seeming so dead certain that he could play for
Lower Borlock if I chucked him from the school team that gave me the
idea."

"He never even asked me to get him a place."

"No, I know."

"Of course, I wouldn't have done it, even if he had."

"Of course not."

"I didn't want to play myself, but I wasn't going to do a rotten trick
like getting other fellows away from the team."

"No, I know."

"It was rotten enough, really, not playing myself."

"Oh, no. Beastly rough luck having to leave Wrykyn just when you were
going to be captain, and come to a small school like this."

The excitement of the past few days must have had a stimulating effect
on Mike's mind--shaken it up, as it were: for now, for the second time
in two days, he displayed quite a creditable amount of intuition. He
might have been misled by Adair's apparently deprecatory attitude
towards Sedleigh, and blundered into a denunciation of the place.
Adair had said "a small school like this" in the sort of voice which
might have led his hearer to think that he was expected to say, "Yes,
rotten little hole, isn't it?" or words to that effect. Mike,
fortunately, perceived that the words were used purely from
politeness, on the Chinese principle. When a Chinaman wishes to pay a
compliment, he does so by belittling himself and his belongings.

He eluded the pitfall.

"What rot!" he said. "Sedleigh's one of the most sporting schools I've
ever come across. Everybody's as keen as blazes. So they ought to be,
after the way you've sweated."

Adair shuffled awkwardly.

"I've always been fairly keen on the place," he said. "But I don't
suppose I've done anything much."

"You've loosened one of my front teeth," said Mike, with a grin, "if
that's any comfort to you."

"I couldn't eat anything except porridge this morning. My jaw still
aches."

For the first time during the conversation their eyes met, and the
humorous side of the thing struck them simultaneously. They began to
laugh.

"What fools we must have looked!" said Adair.

"_You were all right. I must have looked rotten. I've never had
the gloves on in my life. I'm jolly glad no one saw us except Smith,
who doesn't count. Hullo, there's the bell. We'd better be moving on.
What about this match? Not much chance of it from the look of the sky
at present."

"It might clear before eleven. You'd better get changed, anyhow, at
the interval, and hang about in case."

"All right. It's better than doing Thucydides with Downing. We've got
math, till the interval, so I don't see anything of him all day; which
won't hurt me."

"He isn't a bad sort of chap, when you get to know him," said Adair.

"I can't have done, then. I don't know which I'd least soon be,
Downing or a black-beetle, except that if one was Downing one could
tread on the black-beetle. Dash this rain. I got about half a pint
down my neck just then. We sha'n't get a game to-day, of anything like
it. As you're crocked, I'm not sure that I care much. You've been
sweating for years to get the match on, and it would be rather rot
playing it without you."

"I don't know that so much. I wish we could play, because I'm certain,
with you and Smith, we'd walk into them. They probably aren't sending
down much of a team, and really, now that you and Smith are turning
out, we've got a jolly hot lot. There's quite decent batting all the
way through, and the bowling isn't so bad. If only we could have given
this M.C.C. lot a really good hammering, it might have been easier to
get some good fixtures for next season. You see, it's all right for a
school like Wrykyn, but with a small place like this you simply can't
get the best teams to give you a match till you've done something to
show that you aren't absolute rotters at the game. As for the schools,
they're worse. They'd simply laugh at you. You were cricket secretary
at Wrykyn last year. What would you have done if you'd had a challenge
from Sedleigh? You'd either have laughed till you were sick, or else
had a fit at the mere idea of the thing."

Mike stopped.

"By jove, you've struck about the brightest scheme on record. I never
thought of it before. Let's get a match on with Wrykyn."

"What! They wouldn't play us."

"Yes, they would. At least, I'm pretty sure they would. I had a letter
from Strachan, the captain, yesterday, saying that the Ripton match
had had to be scratched owing to illness. So they've got a vacant
date. Shall I try them? I'll write to Strachan to-night, if you like.
And they aren't strong this year. We'll smash them. What do you say?"

Adair was as one who has seen a vision.

"By Jove," he said at last, "if we only could!"

Content of CHAPTER LVI - IN WHICH PEACE IS DECLARED (P G Wodehouse's novel: Mike)

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