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Head Of Kay's - Chapter IV - HARMONY AND DISCORD Post by :vatek1 Category :Long Stories Author :P G Wodehouse Date :June 2011 Read :1099

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Head Of Kay's - Chapter IV - HARMONY AND DISCORD


What might be described as a mixed reception awaited the players as
they left the field. The pavilion and the parts about the pavilion rails
were always packed on the last day of a final house-match, and even in
normal circumstances there was apt to be a little sparring between the
juniors of the two houses which had been playing for the cup. In the
present case, therefore, it was not surprising that Kay's fags took the
defeat badly. The thought that Fenn's presence at the beginning of the
innings, instead of at the end, would have made all the difference
between a loss and a victory, maddened them. The crowd that seethed
in front of the pavilion was a turbulent one.

For a time the operation of chairing Fenn up the steps occupied the
active minds of the Kayites. When he had disappeared into the first
eleven room, they turned their attention in other directions. Caustic
and uncomplimentary remarks began to fly to and fro between the
representatives of Kay's and Blackburn's. It is not known who actually
administered the first blow. But, when Fenn came out of the pavilion
with Kennedy and Silver, he found a stirring battle in progress. The
members of the other houses who had come to look on at the match stood
in knots, and gazed with approval at the efforts of Kay's and
Blackburn's juniors to wipe each other off the face of the earth. The
air was full of shrill battle-cries, varied now and then by a smack or
a thud, as some young but strenuous fist found a billet. The fortune
of war seemed to be distributed equally so far, and the combatants
were just warming to their work.

"Look here," said Kennedy, "we ought to stop this."

"What's the good," said Fenn, without interest. "It pleases them, and
doesn't hurt anybody else."

"All the same," observed Jimmy Silver, moving towards the nearest
group of combatants, "free fights aren't quite the thing, somehow.
For, children, you should never let your angry passions rise; your
little hands were never made to tear each other's eyes. Dr Watts'
_Advice to Young Pugilists_. Drop it, you little beasts."

He separated two heated youths who were just beginning a fourth round.
The rest of the warriors, seeing Silver and the others, called a
truce, and Silver, having read a sort of Riot Act, moved on. The
juniors of the beaten house, deciding that it would be better not to
resume hostilities, consoled themselves by giving three groans for Mr

"What happened after I left you last night, Fenn?" asked Kennedy.

"Oh, I had one of my usual rows with Kay, only rather worse than
usual. I said one or two things he didn't like, and today the old man
sent for me and told me to come to his room from two till four. Kay
had run me in for being 'grossly rude'. Listen to those kids. What a
row they're making!"

"It's a beastly shame," said Kennedy despondently.

At the school shop Morrell, of Mulholland's, met them. He had been
spending the afternoon with a rug and a novel on the hills at the back
of the school, and he wanted to know how the final house-match had
gone. Blackburn's had beaten Mulholland's in one of the early rounds.
Kennedy explained what had happened.

"We should have lost if Fenn had turned up earlier," he said. "He had
a row with Kay, and Kay gave him a sort of extra between two and

Fenn, busily occupied with an ice, added no comment of his own to this
plain tale.

"Rough luck," said Morrell. "What's all that row out in the field?"

"That's Kay's kids giving three groans for Kay," explained Silver. "At
least, they started with the idea of giving three groans. They've got
up to about three hundred by this time. It seems to have fascinated
them. They won't leave off. There's no school rule against groaning in
the grounds, and they mean to groan till the end of the term.
Personally, I like the sound. But then, I'm fond of music."

Morrell's face beamed with sudden pleasure. "I knew there was
something I wanted to tell you," he said, "only I couldn't remember
what. Your saying you're fond of music reminds me. Mulholland's
crocked himself, and won't be able to turn out for the concert."

"What!" cried Kennedy. "How did it happen? What's he done?"

Mr Mulholland was the master who looked after the music of the school,
a fine cricketer and keen sportsman. Had nothing gone wrong, he would
have conducted at the concert that night.

"I heard it from the matron at our place," said Morrell. "She's full
of it. Mulholland was batting at the middle net, and somebody else--I
forget who--was at the one next to it on the right. The bowler sent
down a long-hop to leg, and this Johnny had a smack at it, and sent it
slap through the net, and it got Mulholland on the side of the head.
He was stunned for a bit, but he's getting all right again now. But he
won't be able to conduct tonight. Rather bad luck on the man,
especially as he's so keen on the concert."

"Who's going to sub for him?" asked Silver. "Perhaps they'll scratch
the show," suggested Kennedy.

"Oh, no," said Morrell, "it's all right. Kay is going to conduct. He's
often done it at choir practices when Mulholland couldn't turn up."

Fenn put down his empty saucer with an emphatic crack on the counter.

"If Kay's going to run the show, I'm hanged if I turn up," he said.

"My dear chap, you can't get out of it now," said Kennedy anxiously.
He did not want to see Fenn plunging into any more strife with the
authorities this term.

"Think of the crowned heads who are coming to hear you," pleaded Jimmy
Silver. "Think of the nobility and gentry. Think of me. You must

"Ah, there you are, Fenn."

Mr Kay had bustled in in his energetic way.

Fenn said nothing. He _was there. It was idle to deny it.

"I thought I should find you here. Yes, I wanted to see you about the
concert tonight. Mr Mulholland has met with an unfortunate accident,
and I am looking after the entertainment in his place. Come with me
and play over your piece. I should like to see that you are perfect in
it. Dear me, dear me, what a noise those boys are making. Why
_are they behaving in that extraordinary way, I wonder!"

Kay's juniors had left the pavilion, and were trooping back to their
house. At the present moment they were passing the school shop, and
their tuneful voices floated in through the open window.

"This is very unusual. Why, they seem to be boys in my house. They are

"I think they are a little upset at the result of the match, sir,"
said Jimmy Silver suavely. "Fenn did not arrive, for some reason, till
the end of the innings, so Mr Blackburn's won. The wicket was good,
but a little fiery."

"Thank you, Silver," replied Mr Kay with asperity. "When I require
explanations I will ask for them."

He darted out of the shop, and a moment later they heard him pouring
out a flood of recriminations on the groaning fags.

"There was _once a man who snubbed me," said Jimmy Silver. "They
buried him at Brookwood. Well, what are you going to do, Fenn? Going
to play tonight? Harkee, boy. Say but the word, and I will beard this
tyrant to his face."

Fenn rose.

"Yes," he said briefly, "I shall play. You'd better turn up. I think
you'll enjoy it."

Silver said that no human power should keep him away.

* * * * *

The School concert was always one of the events of the summer term.
There was a concert at the end of the winter term, too, but it was not
so important. To a great many of those present the summer concert
marked, as it were, the last flutter of their school life. On the
morrow they would be Old Boys, and it behoved them to extract as much
enjoyment from the function as they could. Under Mr Mullholland's rule
the concert had become a very flourishing institution. He aimed at a
high standard, and reached it. There was more than a touch of the
austere about the music. A glance at the programme was enough to show
the lover of airs of the trashy, clashy order that this was no place
for him. Most of the items were serious. When it was thought necessary
to introduce a lighter touch, some staidly rollicking number was
inserted, some song that was saved--in spite of a catchy tune--by a
halo of antiquity. Anything modern was taboo, unless it were the work
of Gotsuchakoff, Thingummyowsky, or some other eminent foreigner.
Foreign origin made it just possible.

The school prefects lurked during the performance at the doors and at
the foot of the broad stone steps that led to the Great Hall. It was
their duty to supply visitors with programmes.

Jimmy Silver had foregathered with Kennedy, Challis, and Williams at
the junior door. The hall was full now, and their labours consequently
at an end.

"Pretty good 'gate'," said Silver, looking in through the open door.
"It must be warm up in the gallery."

Across the further end of the hall a dais had been erected. On this
the bulk of the school sat, leaving the body of the hall to the
crowned heads, nobility, and gentry to whom Silver had referred in his
conversation with Fenn.

"It always is warm in the gallery," said Challis. "I lost about two
stone there every concert when I was a kid. We simply used to sit and

"And I tell you what," broke in Silver, "it's going to get warmer
before the end of the show. Do you notice that all Kay's house are
sitting in a lump at the back. I bet they're simply spoiling for a
row. Especially now Kay's running the concert. There's going to be a
hot time in the old town tonight--you see if there isn't. Hark at

The choir had just come to the end of a little thing of Handel's.
There was no reason to suppose that the gallery appreciated Handel.
Nevertheless, they were making a deafening noise. Clouds of dust rose
from the rhythmical stamping of many feet. The noise was loudest and
the dust thickest by the big window, beneath which sat the men from
Kay's. Things were warming up.

The gallery, with one last stamp which nearly caused the dais to
collapse, quieted down. The masters in the audience looked serious.
One or two of the visitors glanced over their shoulders with a smile.
How excited the dear boys were at the prospect of holidays! Young
blood! Young blood! Boys _would be boys.

The concert continued. Half-way through the programme there was a ten
minutes' interval. Fenn's pianoforte solo was the second item of the
second half.

He mounted the platform amidst howls of delight from the gallery.
Applause at the Eckleton concerts was granted more for services in the
playing-fields than merit as a musician. Kubelik or Paderewski would
have been welcomed with a few polite handclaps. A man in the eleven or
fifteen was certain of two minutes' unceasing cheers.

"Evidently one of their heroes, my dear," said Paterfamilias to
Materfamilias. "I suppose he has won a scholarship at the University."

Paterfamilias' mind was accustomed to run somewhat upon scholarships
at the University. What the school wanted was a batting average of
forty odd or a bowling analysis in single figures.

Fenn played the "Moonlight Sonata". A trained musical critic would
probably have found much to cavil at in his rendering of the piece,
but it was undoubtedly good for a public school player. Of course he
was encored. The gallery would have encored him if he had played with
one finger, three mistakes to every bar.

"I told Fenn," said Jimmy Silver, "if he got an encore, that he ought
to play the--My aunt! _He is!_"

Three runs and half-a-dozen crashes, and there was no further room for
doubt. Fenn was playing the "Coon Band Contest".

"He's gone mad," gasped Kennedy.

Whether he had or not, it is certain that the gallery had. All the
evening they had been stewing in an atmosphere like that of the inner
room of a Turkish bath, and they were ready for anything. It needed
but a trifle to set them off. The lilt of that unspeakable Yankee
melody supplied that trifle. Kay's malcontents, huddled in their seats
by the window, were the first to break out. Feet began to stamp in
time to the music--softly at first, then more loudly. The wooden dais
gave out the sound like a drum.

Other rioters joined in from the right. The noise spread through the
gallery as a fire spreads through gorse. Soon three hundred pairs of
well-shod feet were rising and falling. Somebody began to whistle.
Everybody whistled. Mr Kay was on his feet, gesticulating wildly. His
words were lost in the uproar.

For five minutes the din prevailed. Then, with a final crash, Fenn
finished. He got up from the music-stool, bowed, and walked back to
his place by the senior door. The musical efforts of the gallery
changed to a storm of cheering and clapping.

The choir rose to begin the next piece.

Still the noise continued.

People began to leave the Hall--in ones and twos first, then in a
steady stream which blocked the doorways. It was plain to the dullest
intelligence that if there was going to be any more concert, it would
have to be performed in dumb show. Mr Kay flung down his baton.

The visitors had left by now, and the gallery was beginning to follow
their example, howling as it went.

"Well," said Jimmy Silver cheerfully, as he went with Kennedy down the
steps, "I _think we may call that a record. By my halidom,
there'll be a row about this later on."

Content of CHAPTER IV - HARMONY AND DISCORD (P G Wodehouse's novel: Head of Kay's)

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Head Of Kay's - Chapter V - CAMP Head Of Kay's - Chapter V - CAMP

Head Of Kay's - Chapter V - CAMP
CHAPTER V - CAMPWith the best intentions in the world, however, a headmaster cannotmake a row about a thing unless he is given a reasonable amount oftime to make it in. The concert being on the last evening of term,there was only a single morning before the summer holidays, and thatmorning was occupied with the prize-giving. The school assembled atten o'clock with a shadowy hope that this prize-day would be moreexciting than the general run of prize-days, but they weredisappointed. The function passed off without sensation. Theheadmaster did not denounce the school in an impassioned speech fromthe dais. He did not

Head Of Kay's - Chapter III - THE FINAL HOUSE-MATCH Head Of Kay's - Chapter III - THE FINAL HOUSE-MATCH

Head Of Kay's - Chapter III - THE FINAL HOUSE-MATCH
CHAPTER III - THE FINAL HOUSE-MATCHBlackburn's took the field at three punctually on the followingafternoon, to play out the last act of the final house-match. Theywere not without some small hope of victory, for curious things happenat cricket, especially in the fourth innings of a match. And runs areadmitted to be easier saved than made. Yet seventy-nine seemed anabsurdly small score to try and dismiss a team for, and in view of thefact that that team contained a batsman like Fenn, it seemed smallerstill. But Jimmy Silver, resolutely as he had declared victoryimpossible to his intimate friends, was not the man