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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWhite Feather - Chapter XII - DUNSTABLE AND LINTON GO UP THE RIVER
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White Feather - Chapter XII - DUNSTABLE AND LINTON GO UP THE RIVER Post by :ekukec Category :Long Stories Author :P G Wodehouse Date :June 2011 Read :3330

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White Feather - Chapter XII - DUNSTABLE AND LINTON GO UP THE RIVER

CHAPTER XII - DUNSTABLE AND LINTON GO UP THE RIVER


There are some proud, spirited natures which resent rules and laws on
principle as attempts to interfere with the rights of the citizen. As
the Duchess in the play said of her son, who had had unpleasantness
with the authorities at Eton because they had been trying to teach him
things, "Silwood is a sweet boy, but he will not stand the
bearing-rein". Dunstable was also a sweet boy, but he, too, objected to
the bearing-rein. And Linton was a sweet boy, and he had similar
prejudices. And this placing of the town out of bounds struck both of
them simultaneously as a distinct attempt on the part of the headmaster
to apply the bearing-rein.

"It's all very well to put it out of bounds for the kids," said
Dunstable, firmly, "but when it comes to Us--why, I never heard of such
a thing."

Linton gave it as his opinion that such conduct was quite in a class of
its own as regarded cool cheek.

"It fairly sneaks," said Linton, with forced calm, "the Garibaldi."

"Kids," proceeded Dunstable, judicially, "are idiots, and can't be
expected to behave themselves down town. Put the show out of bounds to
them if you like. But We--"

"We!" echoed Linton.

"The fact is," said Dunstable, "it's a beastly nuisance, but we shall
have to go down town and up the river just to assert ourselves. We
can't have the thin end of the wedge coming and spoiling our liberties.
We may as well chuck life altogether if we aren't able to go to the
town whenever we like."

"And Albert will be pining away," added Linton.

* * * * *

"Hullo, young gentlemen," said the town boatman, when they presented
themselves to him, "what can I do for you?"

"I know it seems strange," said Dunstable, "but we want a boat. We are
the Down-trodden British Schoolboys' League for Demanding Liberty and
seeing that We Get It. Have you a boat?"

The man said he believed he had a boat. In fact, now that he came to
think of it, he rather fancied he had one or two. He proceeded to get
one ready, and the two martyrs to the cause stepped in.

Dunstable settled himself in the stern, and collected the rudder-lines.

"Hullo," said Linton, "aren't you going to row?"

"It may be only my foolish fancy," replied Dunstable, "but I rather
think you're going to do that. I'll steer."

"Beastly slacker," said Linton. "Anyhow, how far are we going? I'm not
going to pull all night."

"If you row for about half an hour without exerting yourself--and I can
trust you not to do that--and then look to your left, you'll see a
certain hostelry, if it hasn't moved since I was last there. It's
called the 'Blue Boar'. We will have tea there, and then I'll pull
gently back, and that will end the programme."

"Except being caught in the town by half the masters," said Linton.
"Still, I'm not grumbling. This had to be done. Ready?"

"Not just yet," said Dunstable, looking past Linton and up the
landing-stage. "Wait just one second. Here are some friends of ours."

Linton looked over his shoulder.

"Albert!" he cried.

"And the who struck me divers blows in sundry
places. Ah, they've sighted us."

"What are you going to do? We can't have another scrap with them."

"Far from it," said Dunstable gently. "Hullo, Albert. _And my
friend in the moth-eaten bowler! This is well met."

"You come out here," said Albert, pausing on the brink.

"Why?" asked Dunstable.

"You see what you'll get."

"But we don't want to see what we'll get. You've got such a narrow
mind, Albert--may I call you Bertie? You seem to think that nobody has
any pleasures except vulgar brawls. We are going to row up river, and
think beautiful thoughts."

Albert was measuring with his eye the distance between the boat and
landing-stage. It was not far. A sudden spring....

"If you want a fight, go up to the school and ask for Mr Drummond. He's
the gentlemen who sent you to hospital last time. Any time you're
passing, I'm sure he'd--"

Albert leaped.

But Linton had had him under observation, and, as he sprung, pushed
vigorously with his oar. The gap between boat and shore widened in an
instant, and Albert, failing to obtain a foothold on the boat, fell
back, with a splash that sent a cascade over his friend and the
boatman, into three feet of muddy water. By the time he had scrambled
out, his enemies were moving pensively up-stream.

The boatman was annoyed.

"Makin' me wet and spoilin' my paint--what yer mean by it?"

"Me and my friend here we want a boat," said Albert, ignoring the main
issue.

"Want a boat! Then you'll not get a boat. Spoil my cushions, too, would
you? What next, I wonder! You go to Smith and ask _him for a
boat. Perhaps he ain't so particular about having his cushions--"

"Orl right," said Albert, "_orl right."

Mr Smith proved more complaisant, and a quarter of an hour after
Dunstable and Linton had disappeared, Albert and his friend were on the
water. Moist outside, Albert burned with a desire for Revenge. He meant
to follow his men till he found them. It almost seemed as if there
would be a repetition of the naval battle which had caused the town to
be put out of bounds. Albert was a quick-tempered youth, and he had
swallowed fully a pint of Severn water.

* * * * *

Dunstable and Linton sat for some time in the oak parlour of the "Blue
Boar". It was late when they went out. As they reached the water's edge
Linton uttered a cry of consternation.

"What's up?" asked Dunstable. "I wish you wouldn't do that so suddenly.
It gives me a start. Do you feel bad?"

"Great Scott! it's gone."

"The pain?"

"Our boat. I tied it up to this post."

"You can't have done. What's that boat over there! That looks like
ours."

"No, it isn't. That was there when we came. I noticed it. I tied ours
up here, to this post."

"This is a shade awkward," said Dunstable thoughtfully. "You must have
tied it up jolly rottenly. It must have slipped away and gone
down-stream. This is where we find ourselves in the cart. Right among
the ribstons, by Jove. I feel like that Frenchman in the story, who
lost his glasses just as he got to the top of the mountain, and missed
the view. Altogezzer I do not vish I 'ad kom."

"I'm certain I tied it up all right. And--why, look! here's the rope
still on the pole, just as I left it."

For the first time Dunstable seemed interested.

"This is getting mysterious. Did we hire a rowing-boat or a submarine?
There's something on the end of this rope. Give it a tug, and see.
There, didn't you feel it?"

"I do believe," said Linton in an awed voice, "the thing's sunk."

They pulled at the rope together. The waters heaved and broke, and up
came the nose of the boat, to sink back with a splash as they loosened
their hold.

"There are more things in Heaven and Earth--" said Dunstable, wiping
his hands. "If you ask me, I should say an enemy hath done this. A boat
doesn't sink of its own accord."

"Albert!" said Linton. "The blackguard must have followed us up and
done it while we were at tea."

"That's about it," said Dunstable. "And now--how about getting home?"

"I suppose we'd better walk. We shall be hours late for lock-up."

"You," said Dunstable, "may walk if you are fond of exercise and aren't
in a hurry. Personally, I'm going back by river."

"But--"

"That looks a good enough boat over there. Anyhow, we must make it do.
One mustn't be particular for once."

"But it belongs--what will the other fellow do?"

"I can't help _his troubles," said Dunstable mildly, "having
enough of my own. Coming?"

* * * * *

It was about ten minutes later that Sheen, approaching the waterside in
quest of his boat, found no boat there. The time was a quarter to six,
and lock-up was at six-thirty.

Content of CHAPTER XII - DUNSTABLE AND LINTON GO UP THE RIVER (P G Wodehouse's novel: White Feather)

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