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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWhite Feather - Chapter III - SHEEN RECEIVES VISITORS AND ADVICE
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White Feather - Chapter III - SHEEN RECEIVES VISITORS AND ADVICE Post by :kingfish Category :Long Stories Author :P G Wodehouse Date :June 2011 Read :596

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White Feather - Chapter III - SHEEN RECEIVES VISITORS AND ADVICE

CHAPTER III - SHEEN RECEIVES VISITORS AND ADVICE


While Sheen had been interviewing Stanning, in study twelve, farther
down the passage, Linton and his friend Dunstable, who was in Day's
house, were discussing ways and means. Like Stanning, Dunstable had
demanded tea, and had been informed that there was none for him.

"Well, you are a bright specimen, aren't you?" said Dunstable, seating
himself on the table which should have been groaning under the weight
of cake and biscuits. "I should like to know where you expect to go to.
You lure me in here, and then have the cheek to tell me you haven't got
anything to eat. What have you done with it all?"

"There was half a cake--"

"Bring it on."

"Young Menzies bagged it after the match yesterday. His brother came
down with the Oxford A team, and he had to give him tea in his study.
Then there were some biscuits--"

"What's the matter with biscuits? _They're all right. Bring them
on. Biscuits forward. Show biscuits."

"Menzies took them as well."

Dunstable eyed him sorrowfully.

"You always were a bit of a maniac," he said, "but I never thought you
were quite such a complete gibberer as to let Menzies get away with all
your grub. Well, the only thing to do is to touch him for tea. He owes
us one. Come on."

They proceeded down the passage and stopped at the door of study three.

"Hullo!" said Menzies, as they entered.

"We've come to tea," said Dunstable. "Cut the satisfying sandwich. Let's
see a little more of that hissing urn of yours, Menzies. Bustle about,
and be the dashing host."

"I wasn't expecting you."

"I can't help your troubles," said Dunstable.

"I've not got anything. I was thinking of coming to you, Linton."

"Where's that cake?"

"Finished. My brother simply walked into it."

"Greed," said Dunstable unkindly, "seems to be the besetting sin of the
Menzies'. Well, what are you going to do about it? I don't wish to
threaten, but I'm a demon when I'm roused. Being done out of my tea is
sure to rouse me. And owing to unfortunate accident of being stonily
broken, I can't go to the shop. You're responsible for the slump in
provisions, Menzies, and you must see us through this. What are you
going to do about it?"

"Do either of you chaps know Sheen at all?"

"I don't," said Linton. "Not to speak to."

"You can't expect us to know all your shady friends," said Dunstable.
"Why?"

"He's got a tea on this evening. If you knew him well enough, you might
borrow something from him. I met Herbert in the dinner-hour carrying in
all sorts of things to his study. Still, if you don't know him--"

"Don't let a trifle of that sort stand in the way," said Dunstable.
"Which is his study?"

"Come on, Linton," said Dunstable. "Be a man, and lead the way. Go in
as if he'd invited us. Ten to one he'll think he did, if you don't
spoil the thing by laughing."

"What, invite ourselves to tea?" asked Linton, beginning to grasp the
idea.

"That's it. Sheen's the sort of ass who won't do a thing. Anyhow, its
worth trying. Smith in our house got a tea out of him that way last
term. Coming, Menzies?"

"Not much. I hope he kicks you out."

"Come on, then, Linton. If Menzies cares to chuck away a square meal,
let him."

Thus, no sooner had the door of Sheen's study closed upon Stanning than
it was opened again to admit Linton and Dunstable.

"Well," said Linton, affably, "here we are."

"Hope we're not late," said Dunstable. "You said somewhere about five.
It's just struck. Shall we start?"

He stooped, and took the kettle from the stove.

"Don't you bother," he said to Sheen, who had watched this manoeuvre
with an air of amazement, "I'll do all the dirty work."

"But--" began Sheen.

"That's all right," said Dunstable soothingly. "I like it."

The intellectual pressure of the affair was too much for Sheen. He
could not recollect having invited Linton, with whom he had exchanged
only about a dozen words that term, much less Dunstable, whom he merely
knew by sight. Yet here they were, behaving like honoured guests. It
was plain that there was a misunderstanding somewhere, but he shrank
from grappling with it. He did not want to hurt their feelings. It
would be awkward enough if they discovered their mistake for
themselves.

So he exerted himself nervously to play the host, and the first twinge
of remorse which Linton felt came when Sheen pressed upon him a bag of
biscuits which, he knew, could not have cost less than one and sixpence
a pound. His heart warmed to one who could do the thing in such style.

Dunstable, apparently, was worried by no scruples. He leaned back
easily in his chair, and kept up a bright flow of conversation.

"You're not looking well, Sheen," he said. "You ought to take more
exercise. Why don't you come down town with us one of these days and do
a bit of canvassing? It's a rag. Linton lost a tooth at it the other
day. We're going down on Saturday to do a bit more."

"Oh!" said Sheen, politely.

"We shall get one or two more chaps to help next time. It isn't good
enough, only us two. We had four great beefy hooligans on to us when
Linton got his tooth knocked out. We had to run. There's a regular gang
of them going about the town, now that the election's on. A red-headed
fellow, who looks like a butcher, seems to boss the show. They call him
Albert. He'll have to be slain one of these days, for the credit of the
school. I should like to get Drummond on to him."

"I was expecting Drummond to tea," said Sheen.

"He's running and passing with the fifteen," said Linton. "He ought to
be in soon. Why, here he is. Hullo, Drummond!"

"Hullo!" said the newcomer, looking at his two fellow-visitors as if he
were surprised to see them there.

"How were the First?" asked Dunstable.

"Oh, rotten. Any tea left?"

Conversation flagged from this point, and shortly afterwards Dunstable
and Linton went.

"Come and tea with me some time," said Linton.

"Oh, thanks," said Sheen. "Thanks awfully."

"It was rather a shame," said Linton to Dunstable, as they went back to
their study, "rushing him like that. I shouldn't wonder if he's quite a
good sort, when one gets to know him."

"He must be a rotter to let himself be rushed. By Jove, I should like
to see someone try that game on with me."

In the study they had left, Drummond was engaged in pointing this out
to Sheen.

"The First are rank bad," he said. "The outsides were passing rottenly
today. We shall have another forty points taken off us when we play
Ripton. By the way, I didn't know you were a pal of Linton's."

"I'm not," said Sheen.

"Well, he seemed pretty much at home just now."

"I can't understand it. I'm certain I never asked him to tea. Or
Dunstable either. Yet they came in as if I had. I didn't like to hurt
their feelings by telling them."

Drummond stared.

"What, they came without being asked! Heavens! man, you must buck up a
bit and keep awake, or you'll have an awful time. Of course those two
chaps were simply trying it on. I had an idea it might be that when I
came in. Why did you let them? Why didn't you scrag them?"

"Oh, I don't know," said Sheen uncomfortably.

"But, look here, it's rot. You _must keep your end up in a place
like this, or everybody in the house'll be ragging you. Chaps will,
naturally, play the goat if you let them. Has this ever happened
before?"

Sheen admitted reluctantly that it had. He was beginning to see things.
It is never pleasant to feel one has been bluffed.

"Once last term," he said, "Smith, a chap in Day's, came to tea like
that. I couldn't very well do anything."

"And Dunstable is in Day's. They compared notes. I wonder you haven't
had the whole school dropping in on you, lining up in long queues down
the passage. Look here, Sheen, you really must pull yourself together.
I'm not ragging. You'll have a beastly time if you're so feeble. I hope
you won't be sick with me for saying it, but I can't help that. It's
all for your own good. And it's really pure slackness that's the cause
of it all."

"I hate hurting people's feelings," said Sheen.

"Oh, rot. As if anybody here had any feelings. Besides, it doesn't hurt
a chap's feelings being told to get out, when he knows he's no business
in a place."

"Oh, all right," said Sheen shortly.

"Glad you see it," said Drummond. "Well, I'm off. Wonder if there's
anybody in that bath."

He reappeared a few moments later. During his absence Sheen overheard
certain shrill protestations which were apparently being uttered in the
neighbourhood of the bathroom door.

"There was," he said, putting his head into the study and grinning
cheerfully at Sheen. "There was young Renford, who had no earthly
business to be there. I've just looked in to point the moral. Suppose
you'd have let him bag all the hot water, which ought to have come to
his elders and betters, for fear of hurting his feelings; and gone
without your bath. I went on my theory that nobody at Wrykyn, least of
all a fag, has any feelings. I turfed him out without a touch of
remorse. You get much the best results my way. So long."

And the head disappeared; and shortly afterwards there came from across
the passage muffled but cheerful sounds of splashing.

Content of CHAPTER III - SHEEN RECEIVES VISITORS AND ADVICE (P G Wodehouse's novel: White Feather)

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