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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesMike - Chapter XLII - JELLICOE GOES ON THE SICK-LIST
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Mike - Chapter XLII - JELLICOE GOES ON THE SICK-LIST Post by :brandon246135 Category :Long Stories Author :P G Wodehouse Date :June 2011 Read :1271

Click below to download : Mike - Chapter XLII - JELLICOE GOES ON THE SICK-LIST (Format : PDF)

Mike - Chapter XLII - JELLICOE GOES ON THE SICK-LIST

CHAPTER XLII - JELLICOE GOES ON THE SICK-LIST


Mike woke next morning with a confused memory of having listened to a
great deal of incoherent conversation from Jellicoe, and a painfully
vivid recollection of handing over the bulk of his worldly wealth to
him. The thought depressed him, though it seemed to please Jellicoe,
for the latter carolled in a gay undertone as he dressed, till Psmith,
who had a sensitive ear, asked as a favour that these farm-yard
imitations might cease until he was out of the room.

There were other things to make Mike low-spirited that morning. To
begin with, he was in detention, which in itself is enough to spoil a
day. It was a particularly fine day, which made the matter worse. In
addition to this, he had never felt stiffer in his life. It seemed to
him that the creaking of his joints as he walked must be audible to
every one within a radius of several yards. Finally, there was the
interview with Mr. Downing to come. That would probably be unpleasant.
As Psmith had said, Mr. Downing was the sort of master who would be
likely to make trouble. The great match had not been an ordinary
match. Mr. Downing was a curious man in many ways, but he did not make
a fuss on ordinary occasions when his bowling proved expensive.
Yesterday's performance, however, stood in a class by itself. It stood
forth without disguise as a deliberate rag. One side does not keep
another in the field the whole day in a one-day match except as a
grisly kind of practical joke. And Mr. Downing and his house realised
this. The house's way of signifying its comprehension of the fact was
to be cold and distant as far as the seniors were concerned, and
abusive and pugnacious as regards the juniors. Young blood had been
shed overnight, and more flowed during the eleven o'clock interval
that morning to avenge the insult.

Mr. Downing's methods of retaliation would have to be, of necessity,
more elusive; but Mike did not doubt that in some way or other his
form-master would endeavour to get a bit of his own back.

As events turned out, he was perfectly right. When a master has got
his knife into a boy, especially a master who allows himself to be
influenced by his likes and dislikes, he is inclined to single him out
in times of stress, and savage him as if he were the official
representative of the evildoers. Just as, at sea, the skipper, when he
has trouble with the crew, works it off on the boy.

Mr. Downing was in a sarcastic mood when he met Mike. That is to say,
he began in a sarcastic strain. But this sort of thing is difficult to
keep up. By the time he had reached his peroration, the rapier had
given place to the bludgeon. For sarcasm to be effective, the user of
it must be met half-way. His hearer must appear to be conscious of the
sarcasm and moved by it. Mike, when masters waxed sarcastic towards
him, always assumed an air of stolid stupidity, which was as a suit of
mail against satire.

So Mr. Downing came down from the heights with a run, and began to
express himself with a simple strength which it did his form good to
listen to. Veterans who had been in the form for terms said afterwards
that there had been nothing to touch it, in their experience of the
orator, since the glorious day when Dunster, that prince of raggers,
who had left at Christmas to go to a crammer's, had introduced three
lively grass-snakes into the room during a Latin lesson.

"You are surrounded," concluded Mr. Downing, snapping his pencil in
two in his emotion, "by an impenetrable mass of conceit and vanity and
selfishness. It does not occur to you to admit your capabilities as a
cricketer in an open, straightforward way and place them at the
disposal of the school. No, that would not be dramatic enough for you.
It would be too commonplace altogether. Far too commonplace!" Mr.
Downing laughed bitterly. "No, you must conceal your capabilities. You
must act a lie. You must--who is that shuffling his feet? I will not
have it, I _will have silence--you must hang back in order to
make a more effective entrance, like some wretched actor who--I will
_not have this shuffling. I have spoken of this before. Macpherson,
are you shuffling your feet?"

"Sir, no, sir."

"Please, sir."

"Well, Parsons?"

"I think it's the noise of the draught under the door, sir."

Instant departure of Parsons for the outer regions. And, in the
excitement of this side-issue, the speaker lost his inspiration, and
abruptly concluded his remarks by putting Mike on to translate in
Cicero. Which Mike, who happened to have prepared the first half-page,
did with much success.

* * * * *

The Old Boys' match was timed to begin shortly after eleven o'clock.
During the interval most of the school walked across the field to look
at the pitch. One or two of the Old Boys had already changed and were
practising in front of the pavilion.

It was through one of these batsmen that an accident occurred which
had a good deal of influence on Mike's affairs.

Mike had strolled out by himself. Half-way across the field Jellicoe
joined him. Jellicoe was cheerful, and rather embarrassingly grateful.
He was just in the middle of his harangue when the accident happened.

To their left, as they crossed the field, a long youth, with the faint
beginnings of a moustache and a blazer that lit up the surrounding
landscape like a glowing beacon, was lashing out recklessly at a
friend's bowling. Already he had gone within an ace of slaying a small
boy. As Mike and Jellicoe proceeded on their way, there was a shout of
"Heads!"

The almost universal habit of batsmen of shouting "Heads!" at whatever
height from the ground the ball may be, is not a little confusing. The
average person, on hearing the shout, puts his hands over his skull,
crouches down and trusts to luck. This is an excellent plan if the
ball is falling, but is not much protection against a skimming drive
along the ground.

When "Heads!" was called on the present occasion, Mike and Jellicoe
instantly assumed the crouching attitude.

Jellicoe was the first to abandon it. He uttered a yell and sprang
into the air. After which he sat down and began to nurse his ankle.

The bright-blazered youth walked up.

"Awfully sorry, you know, man. Hurt?"

Jellicoe was pressing the injured spot tenderly with his finger-tips,
uttering sharp howls whenever, zeal outrunning discretion, he prodded
himself too energetically.

"Silly ass, Dunster," he groaned, "slamming about like that."

"Awfully sorry. But I did yell."

"It's swelling up rather," said Mike. "You'd better get over to the
house and have it looked at. Can you walk?"

Jellicoe tried, but sat down again with a loud "Ow!" At that moment
the bell rang.

"I shall have to be going in," said Mike, "or I'd have helped you
over."

"I'll give you a hand," said Dunster.

He helped the sufferer to his feet and they staggered off together,
Jellicoe hopping, Dunster advancing with a sort of polka step. Mike
watched them start and then turned to go in.

Content of CHAPTER XLII - JELLICOE GOES ON THE SICK-LIST (P G Wodehouse's novel: Mike)

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