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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesMike - Chapter XLIV - AND FULFILS IT
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Mike - Chapter XLIV - AND FULFILS IT Post by :leadcow Category :Long Stories Author :P G Wodehouse Date :June 2011 Read :682

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Mike - Chapter XLIV - AND FULFILS IT

CHAPTER XLIV - AND FULFILS IT


Mike started on his ride to Lower Borlock with mixed feelings. It is
pleasant to be out on a fine night in summer, but the pleasure is to a
certain extent modified when one feels that to be detected will mean
expulsion.

Mike did not want to be expelled, for many reasons. Now that he had
grown used to the place he was enjoying himself at Sedleigh to a
certain extent. He still harboured a feeling of resentment against the
school in general and Adair in particular, but it was pleasant in
Outwood's now that he had got to know some of the members of the
house, and he liked playing cricket for Lower Borlock; also, he was
fairly certain that his father would not let him go to Cambridge if he
were expelled from Sedleigh. Mr. Jackson was easy-going with his
family, but occasionally his foot came down like a steam-hammer, as
witness the Wrykyn school report affair.

So Mike pedalled along rapidly, being wishful to get the job done
without delay.

Psmith had yielded up the key, but his inquiries as to why it was
needed had been embarrassing. Mike's statement that he wanted to get
up early and have a ride had been received by Psmith, with whom early
rising was not a hobby, with honest amazement and a flood of advice
and warning on the subject.

"One of the Georges," said Psmith, "I forget which, once said that a
certain number of hours' sleep a day--I cannot recall for the moment
how many--made a man something, which for the time being has slipped
my memory. However, there you are. I've given you the main idea of the
thing; and a German doctor says that early rising causes insanity.
Still, if you're bent on it----" After which he had handed over the
key.

Mike wished he could have taken Psmith into his confidence. Probably
he would have volunteered to come, too; Mike would have been glad of a
companion.

It did not take him long to reach Lower Borlock. The "White Boar"
stood at the far end of the village, by the cricket field. He rode
past the church--standing out black and mysterious against the light
sky--and the rows of silent cottages, until he came to the inn.

The place was shut, of course, and all the lights were out--it was
some time past eleven.

The advantage an inn has over a private house, from the point of view
of the person who wants to get into it when it has been locked up, is
that a nocturnal visit is not so unexpected in the case of the former.
Preparations have been made to meet such an emergency. Where with a
private house you would probably have to wander round heaving rocks
and end by climbing up a water-spout, when you want to get into an inn
you simply ring the night-bell, which, communicating with the boots'
room, has that hard-worked menial up and doing in no time.

After Mike had waited for a few minutes there was a rattling of chains
and a shooting of bolts and the door opened.

"Yes, sir?" said the boots, appearing in his shirt-sleeves. "Why,
'ullo! Mr. Jackson, sir!"

Mike was well known to all dwellers in Lower Borlock, his scores being
the chief topic of conversation when the day's labours were over.

"I want to see Mr. Barley, Jack."

"He's bin in bed this half-hour back, Mr. Jackson."

"I must see him. Can you get him down?"

The boots looked doubtful. "Roust the guv'nor outer bed?" he said.

Mike quite admitted the gravity of the task. The landlord of the
"White Boar" was one of those men who need a beauty sleep.

"I wish you would--it's a thing that can't wait. I've got some money
to give to him."

"Oh, if it's _that_--" said the boots.

Five minutes later mine host appeared in person, looking more than
usually portly in a check dressing-gown and red bedroom slippers of
the _Dreadnought type.

"You can pop off, Jack."

Exit boots to his slumbers once more.

"Well, Mr. Jackson, what's it all about?"

"Jellicoe asked me to come and bring you the money."

"The money? What money?"

"What he owes you; the five pounds, of course."

"The five--" Mr. Barley stared open-mouthed at Mike for a moment;
then he broke into a roar of laughter which shook the sporting prints
on the wall and drew barks from dogs in some distant part of the
house. He staggered about laughing and coughing till Mike began to
expect a fit of some kind. Then he collapsed into a chair, which
creaked under him, and wiped his eyes.

"Oh dear!" he said, "oh dear! the five pounds!"

Mike was not always abreast of the rustic idea of humour, and
now he felt particularly fogged. For the life of him he could
not see what there was to amuse any one so much in the fact that
a person who owed five pounds was ready to pay it back. It was an
occasion for rejoicing, perhaps, but rather for a solemn, thankful,
eyes-raised-to-heaven kind of rejoicing.

"What's up?" he asked.

"Five pounds!"

"You might tell us the joke."

Mr. Barley opened the letter, read it, and had another attack; when
this was finished he handed the letter to Mike, who was waiting
patiently by, hoping for light, and requested him to read it.

"Dear, dear!" chuckled Mr. Barley, "five pounds! They may teach you
young gentlemen to talk Latin and Greek and what not at your school,
but it 'ud do a lot more good if they'd teach you how many beans make
five; it 'ud do a lot more good if they'd teach you to come in when it
rained, it 'ud do----"

Mike was reading the letter.

"DEAR MR. BARLEY," it ran.--"I send the £5, which I could not get
before. I hope it is in time, because I don't want you to write to
the headmaster. I am sorry Jane and John ate your wife's hat and
the chicken and broke the vase."

There was some more to the same effect; it was signed "T. G.
Jellicoe."

"What on earth's it all about?" said Mike, finishing this curious
document.

Mr. Barley slapped his leg. "Why, Mr. Jellicoe keeps two dogs here; I
keep 'em for him till the young gentlemen go home for their holidays.
Aberdeen terriers, they are, and as sharp as mustard. Mischief! I
believe you, but, love us! they don't do no harm! Bite up an old shoe
sometimes and such sort of things. The other day, last Wednesday it
were, about 'ar parse five, Jane--she's the worst of the two, always
up to it, she is--she got hold of my old hat and had it in bits before
you could say knife. John upset a china vase in one of the bedrooms
chasing a mouse, and they got on the coffee-room table and ate half a
cold chicken what had been left there. So I says to myself, 'I'll have
a game with Mr. Jellicoe over this,' and I sits down and writes off
saying the little dogs have eaten a valuable hat and a chicken and
what not, and the damage'll be five pounds, and will he kindly remit
same by Saturday night at the latest or I write to his headmaster.
Love us!" Mr. Barley slapped his thigh, "he took it all in, every
word--and here's the five pounds in cash in this envelope here! I
haven't had such a laugh since we got old Tom Raxley out of bed at
twelve of a winter's night by telling him his house was a-fire."

It is not always easy to appreciate a joke of the practical order if
one has been made even merely part victim of it. Mike, as he reflected
that he had been dragged out of his house in the middle of the night,
in contravention of all school rules and discipline, simply in order
to satisfy Mr. Barley's sense of humour, was more inclined to be
abusive than mirthful. Running risks is all very well when they are
necessary, or if one chooses to run them for one's own amusement, but
to be placed in a dangerous position, a position imperilling one's
chance of going to the 'Varsity, is another matter altogether.

But it is impossible to abuse the Barley type of man. Barley's
enjoyment of the whole thing was so honest and child-like. Probably it
had given him the happiest quarter of an hour he had known for years,
since, in fact, the affair of old Tom Raxley. It would have been cruel
to damp the man.

So Mike laughed perfunctorily, took back the envelope with the five
pounds, accepted a stone ginger beer and a plateful of biscuits, and
rode off on his return journey.

* * * * *

Mention has been made above of the difference which exists between
getting into an inn after lock-up and into a private house. Mike was
to find this out for himself.

His first act on arriving at Sedleigh was to replace his bicycle in
the shed. This he accomplished with success. It was pitch-dark in the
shed, and as he wheeled his machine in, his foot touched something on
the floor. Without waiting to discover what this might be, he leaned
his bicycle against the wall, went out, and locked the door, after
which he ran across to Outwood's.

Fortune had favoured his undertaking by decreeing that a stout
drain-pipe should pass up the wall within a few inches of his and
Psmith's study. On the first day of term, it may be remembered he
had wrenched away the wooden bar which bisected the window-frame,
thus rendering exit and entrance almost as simple as they had been
for Wyatt during Mike's first term at Wrykyn.

He proceeded to scale this water-pipe.

He had got about half-way up when a voice from somewhere below cried,
"Who's that?"

Content of CHAPTER XLIV - AND FULFILS IT (P G Wodehouse's novel: Mike)

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