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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesMike - Chapter XLIII - MIKE RECEIVES A COMMISSION
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Mike - Chapter XLIII - MIKE RECEIVES A COMMISSION Post by :jfkane Category :Long Stories Author :P G Wodehouse Date :June 2011 Read :3381

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Mike - Chapter XLIII - MIKE RECEIVES A COMMISSION

CHAPTER XLIII - MIKE RECEIVES A COMMISSION


There is only one thing to be said in favour of detention on a fine
summer's afternoon, and that is that it is very pleasant to come out
of. The sun never seems so bright or the turf so green as during the
first five minutes after one has come out of the detention-room. One
feels as if one were entering a new and very delightful world. There
is also a touch of the Rip van Winkle feeling. Everything seems to
have gone on and left one behind. Mike, as he walked to the cricket
field, felt very much behind the times.

Arriving on the field he found the Old Boys batting. He stopped and
watched an over of Adair's. The fifth ball bowled a man. Mike made his
way towards the pavilion.

Before he got there he heard his name called, and turning, found
Psmith seated under a tree with the bright-blazered Dunster.

"Return of the exile," said Psmith. "A joyful occasion tinged with
melancholy. Have a cherry?--take one or two. These little acts of
unremembered kindness are what one needs after a couple of hours in
extra pupil-room. Restore your tissues, Comrade Jackson, and when you
have finished those, apply again.

"Is your name Jackson?" inquired Dunster, "because Jellicoe wants to
see you."

"Alas, poor Jellicoe!" said Psmith. "He is now prone on his bed in the
dormitory--there a sheer hulk lies poor Tom Jellicoe, the darling of
the crew, faithful below he did his duty, but Comrade Dunster has
broached him to. I have just been hearing the melancholy details."

"Old Smith and I," said Dunster, "were at a private school together.
I'd no idea I should find him here."

"It was a wonderfully stirring sight when we met," said Psmith; "not
unlike the meeting of Ulysses and the hound Argos, of whom you have
doubtless read in the course of your dabblings in the classics. I was
Ulysses; Dunster gave a life-like representation of the faithful
dawg."

"You still jaw as much as ever, I notice," said the animal delineator,
fondling the beginnings of his moustache.

"More," sighed Psmith, "more. Is anything irritating you?" he added,
eyeing the other's manoeuvres with interest.

"You needn't be a funny ass, man," said Dunster, pained; "heaps of
people tell me I ought to have it waxed."

"What it really wants is top-dressing with guano. Hullo! another man
out. Adair's bowling better to-day than he did yesterday."

"I heard about yesterday," said Dunster. "It must have been a rag!
Couldn't we work off some other rag on somebody before I go? I shall
be stopping here till Monday in the village. Well hit, sir--Adair's
bowling is perfectly simple if you go out to it."

"Comrade Dunster went out to it first ball," said Psmith to Mike.

"Oh! chuck it, man; the sun was in my eyes. I hear Adair's got a match
on with the M.C.C. at last."

"Has he?" said Psmith; "I hadn't heard. Archaeology claims so
much of my time that I have little leisure for listening to cricket
chit-chat."

"What was it Jellicoe wanted?" asked Mike; "was it anything
important?"

"He seemed to think so--he kept telling me to tell you to go and see
him."

"I fear Comrade Jellicoe is a bit of a weak-minded blitherer----"

"Did you ever hear of a rag we worked off on Jellicoe once?" asked
Dunster. "The man has absolutely no sense of humour--can't see when
he's being rotted. Well it was like this--Hullo! We're all out--I
shall have to be going out to field again, I suppose, dash it! I'll
tell you when I see you again."

"I shall count the minutes," said Psmith.

Mike stretched himself; the sun was very soothing after his two hours
in the detention-room; he felt disinclined for exertion.

"I don't suppose it's anything special about Jellicoe, do you?" he
said. "I mean, it'll keep till tea-time; it's no catch having to sweat
across to the house now."

"Don't dream of moving," said Psmith. "I have several rather profound
observations on life to make and I can't make them without an
audience. Soliloquy is a knack. Hamlet had got it, but probably only
after years of patient practice. Personally, I need some one to listen
when I talk. I like to feel that I am doing good. You stay where you
are--don't interrupt too much."

Mike tilted his hat over his eyes and abandoned Jellicoe.

It was not until the lock-up bell rang that he remembered him. He went
over to the house and made his way to the dormitory, where he found
the injured one in a parlous state, not so much physical as mental.
The doctor had seen his ankle and reported that it would be on the
active list in a couple of days. It was Jellicoe's mind that needed
attention now.

Mike found him in a condition bordering on collapse.

"I say, you might have come before!" said Jellicoe.

"What's up? I didn't know there was such a hurry about it--what did
you want?"

"It's no good now," said Jellicoe gloomily; "it's too late, I shall
get sacked."

"What on earth are you talking about? What's the row?"

"It's about that money."

"What about it?"

"I had to pay it to a man to-day, or he said he'd write to the
Head--then of course I should get sacked. I was going to take the
money to him this afternoon, only I got crocked, so I couldn't move.
I wanted to get hold of you to ask you to take it for me--it's too
late now!"

Mike's face fell. "Oh, hang it!" he said, "I'm awfully sorry. I'd no
idea it was anything like that--what a fool I was! Dunster did say he
thought it was something important, only like an ass I thought it
would do if I came over at lock-up."

"It doesn't matter," said Jellicoe miserably; "it can't be helped."

"Yes, it can," said Mike. "I know what I'll do--it's all right. I'll
get out of the house after lights-out."

Jellicoe sat up. "You can't! You'd get sacked if you were caught."

"Who would catch me? There was a chap at Wrykyn I knew who used to
break out every night nearly and go and pot at cats with an air-pistol;
it's as easy as anything."

The toad-under-the-harrow expression began to fade from Jellicoe's
face. "I say, do you think you could, really?"

"Of course I can! It'll be rather a rag."

"I say, it's frightfully decent of you."

"What absolute rot!"

"But, look here, are you certain----"

"I shall be all right. Where do you want me to go?"

"It's a place about a mile or two from here, called Lower Borlock."

"Lower Borlock?"

"Yes, do you know it?"

"Rather! I've been playing cricket for them all the term."

"I say, have you? Do you know a man called Barley?"

"Barley? Rather--he runs the 'White Boar'."

"He's the chap I owe the money to."

"Old Barley!"

Mike knew the landlord of the "White Boar" well; he was the wag of the
village team. Every village team, for some mysterious reason, has its
comic man. In the Lower Borlock eleven Mr. Barley filled the post. He
was a large, stout man, with a red and cheerful face, who looked
exactly like the jovial inn-keeper of melodrama. He was the last man
Mike would have expected to do the "money by Monday-week or I write to
the headmaster" business.

But he reflected that he had only seen him in his leisure moments,
when he might naturally be expected to unbend and be full of the milk
of human kindness. Probably in business hours he was quite different.
After all, pleasure is one thing and business another.

Besides, five pounds is a large sum of money, and if Jellicoe owed it,
there was nothing strange in Mr. Barley's doing everything he could to
recover it.

He wondered a little what Jellicoe could have been doing to run up a
bill as big as that, but it did not occur to him to ask, which was
unfortunate, as it might have saved him a good deal of inconvenience.
It seemed to him that it was none of his business to inquire into
Jellicoe's private affairs. He took the envelope containing the money
without question.

"I shall bike there, I think," he said, "if I can get into the shed."

The school's bicycles were stored in a shed by the pavilion.

"You can manage that," said Jellicoe; "it's locked up at night, but I
had a key made to fit it last summer, because I used to go out in the
early morning sometimes before it was opened."

"Got it on you?"

"Smith's got it."

"I'll get it from him."

"I say!"

"Well?"

"Don't tell Smith why you want it, will you? I don't want anybody to
know--if a thing once starts getting about it's all over the place in
no time."

"All right, I won't tell him."

"I say, thanks most awfully! I don't know what I should have done,
I----"

"Oh, chuck it!" said Mike.

Content of CHAPTER XLIII - MIKE RECEIVES A COMMISSION (P G Wodehouse's novel: Mike)

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