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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Gold Bat - Chapter XXIV - CONCLUSION
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The Gold Bat - Chapter XXIV - CONCLUSION Post by :abelle Category :Long Stories Author :P G Wodehouse Date :June 2011 Read :2525

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The Gold Bat - Chapter XXIV - CONCLUSION

CHAPTER XXIV - CONCLUSION


Into the story at this point comes the narrative of Charles Mereweather
Cook, aged fourteen, a day-boy.

Cook arrived at the school on the tenth of March, at precisely nine
o'clock, in a state of excitement.

He said there was a row on in the town.

Cross-examined, he said there was no end of a row on in the town.

During morning school he explained further, whispering his tale into
the attentive ear of Knight of the School House, who sat next to him.

What sort of a row, Knight wanted to know.

Cook deposed that he had been riding on his bicycle past the entrance
to the Recreation Grounds on his way to school, when his eye was
attracted by the movements of a mass of men just inside the gate. They
appeared to be fighting. Witness did not stop to watch, much as he
would have liked to do so. Why not? Why, because he was late already,
and would have had to scorch anyhow, in order to get to school in time.
And he had been late the day before, and was afraid that old Appleby
(the master of the form) would give him beans if he were late again.
Wherefore he had no notion of what the men were fighting about, but he
betted that more would be heard about it. Why? Because, from what he
saw of it, it seemed a jolly big thing. There must have been quite
three hundred men fighting. (Knight, satirically, "_Pile it on!")
Well, quite a hundred, anyhow. Fifty a side. And fighting like
anything. He betted there would be something about it in the
_Wrykyn _Patriot tomorrow. He shouldn't wonder if somebody
had been killed. What were they scrapping about? How should _he_
know!

Here Mr Appleby, who had been trying for the last five minutes to find
out where the whispering noise came from, at length traced it to its
source, and forthwith requested Messrs Cook and Knight to do him two
hundred lines, adding that, if he heard them talking again, he would
put them into the extra lesson. Silence reigned from that moment.

Next day, while the form was wrestling with the moderately exciting
account of Caesar's doings in Gaul, Master Cook produced from his
pocket a newspaper cutting. This, having previously planted a forcible
blow in his friend's ribs with an elbow to attract the latter's
attention, he handed to Knight, and in dumb show requested him to
peruse the same. Which Knight, feeling no interest whatever in Caesar's
doings in Gaul, and having, in consequence, a good deal of time on his
hands, proceeded to do. The cutting was headed "Disgraceful Fracas",
and was written in the elegant style that was always so marked a
feature of the _Wrykyn Patriot_.

"We are sorry to have to report," it ran, "another of those deplorable
ebullitions of local Hooliganism, to which it has before now been our
painful duty to refer. Yesterday the Recreation Grounds were made the
scene of as brutal an exhibition of savagery as has ever marred the
fair fame of this town. Our readers will remember how on a previous
occasion, when the fine statue of Sir Eustace Briggs was found covered
with tar, we attributed the act to the malevolence of the Radical
section of the community. Events have proved that we were right.
Yesterday a body of youths, belonging to the rival party, was
discovered in the very act of repeating the offence. A thick coating of
tar had already been administered, when several members of the rival
faction appeared. A free fight of a peculiarly violent nature
immediately ensued, with the result that, before the police could
interfere, several of the combatants had received severe bruises.
Fortunately the police then arrived on the scene, and with great
difficulty succeeded in putting a stop to the _fracas_. Several
arrests were made.

"We have no desire to discourage legitimate party rivalry, but we feel
justified in strongly protesting against such dastardly tricks as those
to which we have referred. We can assure our opponents that they can
gain nothing by such conduct."

There was a good deal more to the effect that now was the time for all
good men to come to the aid of the party, and that the constituents of
Sir Eustace Briggs must look to it that they failed not in the hour of
need, and so on. That was what the _Wrykyn Patriot had to say on
the subject.

O'Hara managed to get hold of a copy of the paper, and showed it to
Clowes and Trevor.

"So now," he said, "it's all right, ye see. They'll never suspect it
wasn't the same people that tarred the statue both times. An' ye've got
the bat back, so it's all right, ye see."

"The only thing that'll trouble you now," said Clowes, "will be your
conscience."

O'Hara intimated that he would try and put up with that.

"But isn't it a stroke of luck," he said, "that they should have gone
and tarred Sir Eustace again so soon after Moriarty and I did it?"

Clowes said gravely that it only showed the force of good example.

"Yes. They wouldn't have thought of it, if it hadn't been for us,"
chortled O'Hara. "I wonder, now, if there's anything else we could do
to that statue!" he added, meditatively.

"My good lunatic," said Clowes, "don't you think you've done almost
enough for one term?"

"Well, 'myes," replied O'Hara thoughtfully, "perhaps we have, I
suppose."

* * * * *

The term wore on. Donaldson's won the final house-match by a matter of
twenty-six points. It was, as they had expected, one of the easiest
games they had had to play in the competition. Bryant's, who were their
opponents, were not strong, and had only managed to get into the final
owing to their luck in drawing weak opponents for the trial heats. The
real final, that had decided the ownership of the cup, had been
Donaldson's _v. Seymour's.

Aldershot arrived, and the sports. Drummond and O'Hara covered
themselves with glory, and brought home silver medals. But Moriarty, to
the disappointment of the school, which had counted on his pulling off
the middles, met a strenuous gentleman from St Paul's in the final, and
was prematurely outed in the first minute of the third round. To him,
therefore, there fell but a medal of bronze.

It was on the Sunday after the sports that Trevor's connection with the
bat ceased--as far, that is to say, as concerned its unpleasant
character (as a piece of evidence that might be used to his
disadvantage). He had gone to supper with the headmaster, accompanied
by Clowes and Milton. The headmaster nearly always invited a few of the
house prefects to Sunday supper during the term. Sir Eustace Briggs
happened to be there. He had withdrawn his insinuations concerning the
part supposedly played by a member of the school in the matter of the
tarred statue, and the headmaster had sealed the _entente
cordiale by asking him to supper.

An ordinary man might have considered it best to keep off the delicate
subject. Not so Sir Eustace Briggs. He was on to it like glue. He
talked of little else throughout the whole course of the meal.

"My suspicions," he boomed, towards the conclusion of the feast, "which
have, I am rejoiced to say, proved so entirely void of foundation and
significance, were aroused in the first instance, as I mentioned
before, by the narrative of the man Samuel Wapshott."

Nobody present showed the slightest desire to learn what the man Samuel
Wapshott had had to say for himself, but Sir Eustace, undismayed,
continued as if the whole table were hanging on his words.

"The man Samuel Wapshott," he said, "distinctly asserted that a small
gold ornament, shaped like a bat, was handed by him to a lad of age
coeval with these lads here."

The headmaster interposed. He had evidently heard more than enough of
the man Samuel Wapshott.

"He must have been mistaken," he said briefly. "The bat which Trevor is
wearing on his watch-chain at this moment is the only one of its kind
that I know of. You have never lost it, Trevor?"

Trevor thought for a moment. _He had never lost it. He replied
diplomatically, "It has been in a drawer nearly all the term, sir," he
said.

"A drawer, hey?" remarked Sir Eustace Briggs. "Ah! A very sensible
place to keep it in, my boy. You could have no better place, in my
opinion."

And Trevor agreed with him, with the mental reservation
that it rather depended on whom the drawer belonged to.

Content of CHAPTER XXIV - CONCLUSION
The End
P G Wodehouse's novel: The Gold Bat

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