OFFICERS OF THE NATIONAL COUNCIL.
Honorary President, THE HON. WOODROW WILSON Honorary Vice-President, HON. WILLIAM H. TAFT Honorary Vice-President, COLONEL THEODORE ROOSEVELT President, COLIN H. LIVINGSTONE, Washington, D. C. Vice-President, B. L. DULANEY, Bristol, Tenn.
Vice-President, MILTON A. McRAE, Detroit, Mich. Vice-President, DAVID STARK JORDAN, Stanford University, Cal. Vice-President, F. L. SEELY, Asheville, N. C. Vice-President, A. STAMFORD WHITE, Chicago, Ill. Chief Scout, ERNEST THOMPSON SETON, Greenwich, Connecticut National Scout Commissioner, DANIEL CARTER BEARD, Flushing, N. Y.
NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA
THE FIFTH AVENUE BUILDING, 200 FIFTH AVENUE TELEPHONE GRAMERCY 546 NEW YORK CITY
FINANCE COMMITTEE John Sherman Hoyt, Chairman August Belmont George D. Pratt Mortimer L. Schiff H. Rogers Winthrop
GEORGE D. PRATT, Treasurer JAMES E. WEST, Chief Scout Executive
ADDITIONAL MEMBERS OF THE EXECUTIVE BOARD
Ernest P. Bidwell Robert Garrett Lee F. Hanmer John Sherman Hoyt Charles C. Jackson
Prof. Jeremiah W. Jenks William D. Murray Dr. Charles P. Neill George D. Porter Frank Presbrey
Edgar M. Robinson Mortimer L. Schiff Lorillard Spencer Seth Sprague Terry
July 31st, 1913.
TO THE PUBLIC:—
In the execution of its purpose to give educational value and moral worth to the recreational activities of the boyhood of America, the leaders of the Boy Scout Movement quickly learned that to effectively carry out its program, the boy must be influenced not only in his out-of-door life but also in the diversions of his other leisure moments. It is at such times that the boy is captured by the tales of daring enterprises and adventurous good times. What now is needful is not that his taste should be thwarted but trained. There should constantly be presented to him the books the boy likes best, yet always the books that will be best for the boy. As a matter of fact, however, the boy's taste is being constantly vitiated and exploited by the great mass of cheap juvenile literature.
[Footer: "DO A GOOD TURN DAILY." "over"]
To help anxiously concerned parents and educators to meet this grave peril, the Library Commission of the Boy Scouts of America has been organised. EVERY BOY'S LIBRARY is the result of their labors. All the books chosen have been approved by them. The Commission is composed of the following members: George F. Bowerman, Librarian, Public Library of the District of Columbia, Washington, D. C.; Harrison W. Graver, Librarian, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Pa.; Claude G. Leland, Superintendent, Bureau of Libraries, Board of Education, New York City; Edward F. Stevens, Librarian, Pratt Institute Free Library, Brooklyn, New York; together with the Editorial Board of our Movement, William D. Murray, George D. Pratt and Frank Presbrey, with Franklin K. Mathiews, Chief Scout Librarian, as Secretary.
In selecting the books, the Commission has chosen only such as are of interest to boys, the first twenty-five being either works of fiction or stirring stories of adventurous experiences. In later lists, books of a more serious sort will be included. It is hoped that as many as twenty-five may be added to the Library each year.
Thanks are due the several publishers who have helped to inaugurate this new department of our work. Without their co-operation in making available for popular priced editions some of the best books ever published for boys, the promotion of EVERY BOY'S LIBRARY would have been impossible.
We wish, too, to express our heartiest gratitude to the Library Commission, who, without compensation, have placed their vast experience and immense resources at the service of our Movement.
The Commission invites suggestions as to future books to be included in the Library. Librarians, teachers, parents, and all others interested in welfare work for boys, can render a unique service by forwarding to National Headquarters lists of such books as in their judgment would be suitable for EVERY BOY'S LIBRARY.
[Signature: James E. West]
Chief Scout Executive.
EVERY BOY'S LIBRARY—BOY SCOUT EDITION
THE JESTER OF ST. TIMOTHY'S
By ARTHUR STANWOOD PIER
AUTHOR OF BOYS OF ST. TIMOTHY'S, HARDING OF ST. TIMOTHY'S. ETC.
NEW YORK GROSSET & DUNLAP PUBLISHERS COPYRIGHT, 1911, BY ARTHUR STANWOOD PIER
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Published September 1911
I. Irving sets forth on his Adventure 1
II. He achieves a Name for Himself 26
III. Westby's Amusements 53
IV. The Baiting of a Master 75
V. Master turns Pupil 96
VI. The Penalty for a Foul 120
VII. The Worm begins to turn 142
VIII. The Harvard Freshman 166
IX. Westby in the Game 183
X. Master and Boy 205
Lawrence launched himself and hurled the runner backward (p. 194) Frontispiece
The canoes swung about and made for Each Other 52
As to who had won, Irving had not the Slightest Idea 140
A Shadow crossed Westby's Face 220
From drawings by B. L. Bates
THE JESTER OF ST. TIMOTHY'S
IRVING SETS FORTH ON HIS ADVENTURE
In the post-office of Beasley's general store Irving Upton was eagerly sorting the mail. His eagerness at that task had not been abated by the repeated, the daily disappointments which it had caused him. During the whole summer month for which he had now been in attendance as Mr. Beasley's clerk, the arrival of the mail had constituted his chief interest. And because that for which he had been hoping had failed to come, his thin face had grown more worried, and the brooding look was more constantly in his eyes.
This afternoon his hand paused; he looked at the superscription on an envelope unbelievingly. The letter came from St. Timothy's School and was addressed to him. He finished distributing the other letters among the boxes, for people were waiting outside the partition; then he opened the envelope and read the type-written enclosure. A flush crept up over his cheeks, over his forehead; when he raised his eyes, the brooding look was no longer in them, but a quiet happiness instead, and his lips, which had so long been troubled, were smoothed out in a faint, contented smile. He read the letter a second time, then put it in his pocket, and stepped round behind the counter to sell five cents' worth of pink gumdrops to little Abby Lawson.
When she had gone and the callers after mail had been satisfied, Irving sat down at the table in the back of the store. He read the letter again and mused over it for a few moments contentedly; then, with it lying open before him, he proceeded to write an answer.
After finishing that, he drew from his pocket some papers—French exercises, done in a scrawling, unformed hand.
It was the noon hour, when the people of the village were all eating their dinners; Mr. Beasley had gone home, and Irving was undisturbed. He helped himself to the crackers and dried beef which were his luncheon perquisites, and with these at his elbow and nibbling them from time to time he set about correcting his brother's French.
He sighed in spite of the happiness which was pervading him; would Lawrence always go on confusing some of the forms of etre and avoir? Would he never learn to know the difference between ils ont and ils sont?
Irving made his corrections in a neat, pretty little hand, which of itself seemed to reprove the student's awkward scrawl. He turned then to his own studies, which he was pursuing in a tattered volume of Blackstone's Commentaries on the English Common Law. He did not get on very fast with this book, and sometimes he wondered what bearing it could have on the practice of the law in Ohio at the present time. But he had been advised to familiarize himself with the work in the interval before he should enter a law school—an interval of such doubtful length!
Mr. Beasley's entrance caused him to look up.
"I shall be leaving you in less than a month now, Mr. Beasley," he said.
"Got a job to teach, have you?" asked the storekeeper.
"Yes—at St. Timothy's School."
"Where may that be?"
"Up in New Hampshire."
"Quite a ways off. But I suppose you don't mind that much—having been away to college."
"No, I think I'll like it. Besides,—now Lawrence will be able to go to college this fall, and he and I will be pretty near each other. We'll be able to spend our holidays together. I think it's fine."
"It does sound so," agreed Mr. Beasley. "Well, I'll be sorry to lose you, Irving. The folks all like to have you wait on 'em; you're so polite and tidy. But I know clerking in a country store ain't much of a job for a college graduate, and I'm glad you've found something better."
"I'm glad if I've been of any use to you," replied Irving. "I know you didn't expect I would be when you took me in. And your giving me this chance has meant that I could stay on here and tutor Lawrence this summer and at the same time pay all my living expenses. It's been more of a help than you know—to Lawrence as well as to me."
"You're both good boys," said Mr. Beasley. "But it seems like you're too shy and quiet ever to make much of a lawyer, Irving—or a teacher," he added, in candid criticism.
Irving blushed. "Maybe I'll get over that in time, Mr. Beasley."
"You had better," observed the storekeeper. "It's of no manner of use to anybody—not a particle. Lawrence, now, is different."
Yes, Lawrence was different; the fact impressed itself that evening on Irving when his brother came home from the haying field with his uncle. Lawrence was big and ruddy and laughing; Irving was slight and delicate and grave. The two boys went together to their room to make themselves ready for supper.
"We finished the north meadow to-day," said Lawrence,—"the whole of it. So don't blame me if I go to sleep over French verbs this evening."
"I'll tell you something that will wake you up," Irving replied. "I'm going to teach at St. Timothy's School—in New Hampshire. So your going to college is sure, and we'll be only a couple of hours apart."
"Oh, Irv!" In Lawrence's exclamation there was more expressiveness, more joy, than in all his brother's carefully restrained statement. "Oh, Irv! Isn't it splendid! I think you're the finest thing—!" Lawrence grasped Irving's hand and at the same time began thumping him on the back. Then he opened the door and shouted down the stairs.
"Uncle Bob! Aunt Ann! Irv has some great news to-night."
Mrs. Upton put her head out into the hall; she was setting the table and held a plate of bread.
"What is it, Irv? Have you—have you had a letter?"
There was an anxious, almost a regretful note in her voice.
"Yes," said Irving. "I'll tell you about it when I come down."
At the supper table he expounded all the details. Like Mr. Beasley, his uncle and his aunt had never heard of St. Timothy's School. Irving was able to enlighten them. At college he had become familiar with its reputation; it was one of the big preparatory schools in which the position of teacher had seemed to him desirable almost beyond the hope of attainment.
He recited the terms which had been offered and which he had accepted: nine hundred dollars salary the first year, with lodging, board, washing all provided—so that really it was the equivalent of fourteen or fifteen hundred dollars a year. And then there would be the three months' vacation, in which he could prosecute his law studies and earn additional money.
"Sounds good," said Mr. Upton.
"Of course I'm very glad," said Mrs. Upton. "But how we shall miss you boys! I've got used to having Irving away,—but to be without Lawrence, too—"
"Yes," said her husband with a twinkle in his eyes, "we certainly shall miss Lawrence—especially in haying time. I'm glad you didn't get this news till most of the hay crop was in. No more farming for you this year, Lawrence."
"Why, but there's all the south meadow uncut—"
"I'll handle that. As long as there was so much doubt as to whether you'd be able to go to college or not, I felt that you might be making yourself useful first of all and studying only in the odd moments. Now it's different; you've got to settle down to hard study and nothing else. And Irving had better devote himself entirely to you, and leave Mr. Beasley to struggle along without any college help."
"I don't believe he'll miss me very much," Irving admitted. "And you're right, Uncle Bob; I can accomplish a great deal more working with Lawrence this next month. I ought to be able to get him entered in regular standing."
"If I can do that," cried Lawrence, "perhaps I'll be able to earn my way as Irv did—tutoring and so on—and not have to call on you or him for any help."
"What on earth should I do with nine hundred a year?" Irving exclaimed.
"Save it for your law school fund," said Lawrence.
Irving shrugged his shoulders grandly. "Oh, I can earn money."
Lawrence gave him an affectionate push. "Tut!" he said. "Be good to yourself once in a while."
It was a happy family that evening. The uncle and the aunt rejoiced in the good news, even while regretting the separation.
Mr. Upton, the younger brother of the boys' father, who had been the village clergyman, shared his brother's tastes; he read good books, he would travel to hear a celebrated man speak, he had ideas which were not bounded by his farm. He had encouraged Irving as well as Lawrence to seek a university education. The two boys were proud, eager to free themselves from dependence on the uncle and aunt who, after their father's death, had given them a home. Irving had worked his way through college, hardly ever asking for help; he had been a capable scholar and the faculty had found for him backward students in need of tutoring.
Meanwhile, Mr. Upton had been busily engaged in developing and increasing his farm; that he was beginning to be prosperous Irving was aware; that he did not more earnestly insist upon helping his nephews stimulated their spirit of independence. They knew that they had been left penniless; Irving sometimes suspected his uncle of parsimony, yet this was a trait so incongruous with Mr. Upton's genial nature that Irving never communicated the suspicion to his brother. Irving felt, too, that his uncle cared less for him than for Lawrence. Well, that was natural; Irving was humble there.
When the dean of the college had said that it would be inadvisable for Lawrence to make a start unless he had at least three hundred dollars at command, it had seemed to Irving a little narrow on his uncle's part not to have come forward at once with that sum. Instead he had merely given Lawrence the opportunity to work harder in the hay-field and so increase his small bank account. And it had soon become apparent to Irving that unless he and Lawrence could between them raise the money, they need not look to their uncle for help beyond that which he was already giving. Therefore Irving went into Mr. Beasley's store, and hoped daily for the letter which at last had come.
Day after day the two brothers worked together. Irving, quick, impatient, sometimes losing his temper; Lawrence, slow, calm, turning the edge of the teacher's sarcasm sometimes with a laugh, sometimes with a quiet appeal. Irving always felt ashamed after these outbreaks and uneasily conscious that Lawrence conducted himself with greater dignity. And Lawrence forgot Irving's irritations in gratitude to him for his help. "It must be a trial to teach such a numskull," Lawrence thought; and at the end of one particularly hard day he undertook to console his brother by saying, "Never mind, Irv; it won't be long now before you have pupils who aren't country bumpkins and don't need to have things pounded into their heads with an axe."
It had been a rather savage remark that had called this out; Irving threw down his book and perching on the arm of his brother's chair, put his arm around his neck and begged his forgiveness.
"As if I could ever like to teach anybody else as much as I like to teach you!" he exclaimed. "I'm sorry, Lawrence; I'll try to keep a little better grip on myself."
Sometimes it seemed to Irving odd that Lawrence should be so slow at his books; Irving did not fail to realize that with the neighbors or with strangers, in any gathering whatsoever, Lawrence was always quick, sympathetic, interested; he himself was the one who seemed dull and immature.
It had been so with him at college; he had been merely the student of books. Social life he had had none, and only now, with the difference between his brother and himself enforcing a clearer vision, had he become aware of some deficiency in his education. In silence he envied Lawrence and wished that he too possessed such winning and engaging traits.
He realized the contrast with especial keenness on the afternoon when he and Lawrence began their eastward journey. There was a party assembled at the station to see them off,—to see Lawrence off, as Irving reflected, for never on his own previous departures had he occasioned any such demonstration.
Lawrence was presented on the platform with various farewell gifts—a pair of knit slippers from Sally Buxton, who was the prettiest girl in the valley and who tried to slip them into his hand when no one else was looking, and blushed when Nora Carson unfeelingly called attention to her shy attempt; a pair of mittens from old Mrs. Fitch; a pocket comb and mirror from the Uptons' hired man; a paper bag of doughnuts from Mrs. Brumby.
There were no gifts for Irving; indeed, he had never cared or thought much, one way or the other, about any of these people clustered on the platform. Only this summer, seeing them so frequently in Mr. Beasley's store, he had felt the first stirrings of interest in them; now for the first time he was aware of a wistfulness because they did not care for him as they did for Lawrence.
Mr. Beasley came up to him. "So you're off—both of you. Funny thing—I guess from the looks of you two, if a stranger was to come along, he'd pick Lawrence out for the teacher and you for the schoolboy. Lawrence looks as old as you, and handles himself more grown up, somehow."
"He's bigger," Irving sighed.
"Yes, 't ain't only that," drawled Mr. Beasley. "Though 't is a pity you're so spindling; good thing for a teacher to be able to lay on the switch good and hard when needed."
"I don't believe they punish with the switch at St. Timothy's."
"Then I guess they don't learn the boys much. How you going to keep order among boys if you don't use the switch?"
At that moment the train came whistling round the bend. Irving caught up his bag, turned and grasped Mr. Beasley's hand, then plunged into the crowd which had closed about his brother. His aunt turned and flung her arms about him and kissed him; his uncle gave him a good-natured pat on the back and then stooped and said in his ear, "Irv, if you ever get into trouble,—go to Lawrence."
There was the merry, kindly twinkle in his eyes, the quizzical, humorous smile on his lips that made Irving know his uncle meant always, deep in his heart, to do the right thing.
In the train he pondered for a few moments that last word of advice, wondering if it had been sincere. It rather hurt his dignity, to be referred to his younger brother in that way—and yet it pleased him too; he was glad to have Lawrence appreciated.
Irving spent a day in Cambridge, helping his brother to get settled in the rooms which he himself had occupied for four years. Then he bade Lawrence good-by and resumed his journey to New Hampshire.
It was a pleasant September morning when he presented himself, a sallow, thin-cheeked, narrow-shouldered, bespectacled youth, before Dr. Davenport, the rector of St. Timothy's School. The sunlight streamed in through the southern windows of the spacious library, throwing mellow tints on the bindings of the books which lined the opposite wall from floor to ceiling. It was all so bright that Irving, who was troubled with weak eyes, advanced into it blinking; and perhaps that was one reason for the disappointment which flitted across the rector's face—and which Irving, who was acutely sensitive, perceived in his blinking glance. He flushed, aware that somehow his appearance was too timorous.
But Dr. Davenport chatted with him pleasantly, told him how highly the college authorities had recommended him, and only laughingly intimated a surprise at finding him so young-looking.
"I hope that teaching won't age you prematurely," he added. "You will probably have some trying times with the boys—we all do. But it oughtn't to be hard for you—especially as you will be thrown most of all with the older boys. Mr. Williams, who has had charge of the Sixth Form dormitory at the Upper School, is ill with typhoid fever and will probably not come back this term. So I'm going to put you in charge there. You will have under you twenty fellows, some of them the best in the school. But just because they are in some ways pretty mature, don't be—don't be self-effacing."
"I understand," said Irving. He sat on the edge of his chair, and crumpled his handkerchief nervously in his hands. And all the time—with his singular clearness of intuition—he was aware of the doubt and distrust passing through Dr. Davenport's mind.
"Don't be afraid of the boys or show embarrassment or discomfort before them," continued Dr. Davenport, "and on the other hand don't try to cultivate dignity by being cold and austere. Be natural with them—but always be the master.—There!" he broke off, smiling, for he saw that Irving looked worried and seemed to be taking all this as personal criticism—"that's the talk that I always give to a new master; and now I'm done. Here is a printed copy of the rules and regulations which I advise you to study; you must try to familiarize yourself with our customs before any of the boys arrive. To-morrow the new boys will come, and you will report for duty at the Gymnasium, where the entrance examinations will be held. You will find your room in the Sixth Form dormitory, at the Upper School. I hope you will like the life here, Mr. Upton—and I wish you every possible success in it."
The rector gave him an encouraging handshake and another friendly smile. But Irving departed feeling depressed and afraid. He had seen that the rector was disappointed in him—in his appearance, in his manner. And the rector's little speech had given him the clue. Until now, he had not much considered how large a part of his work would be in the management and the discipline of the boys; the mere teaching of them was what had been in his mind, and for that he felt perfectly competent. In college, that was all that the tutoring, in which he had been so successful, meant. But, confronted by the necessity of establishing and maintaining friendly human relations with a lot of strange boys, Irving for the first time questioned his qualifications, realizing that the rector too was questioning them.
He became more cheerful the next day, when the new boys began to arrive and he found himself at once with work to do. He had mastered pretty thoroughly the names of the buildings and the geography of the place, and it was rather pleasant to be able to give information and directions to those younger and more ignorant than himself.
It was pleasant, too, to have one mother who was wandering round vaguely with her small son and to whom he shyly proffered assistance, show such appreciation of his courtesy and end by appealing to him to keep always a friendly eye on her little forlorn Walter. As it turned out, Irving never afterwards came much into contact with the boy, who lived in a different building and was not in any of his classes; he asked about him from time to time, and discovered that Walter was a mischievous person, not troubled by homesickness.
But most agreeable and reassuring was it to take charge of the examination-room, where the new boys were undergoing the tests of their scholarship. Most of them were candidates for the Second, Third, and Fourth Forms, and their ages ranged from twelve to fifteen; Irving sat at a desk on the platform and surveyed them while they worked, or tiptoed down the aisle in response to an appeal from some uplifted hand.
He had come so recently from examination-rooms where he had been one of the pupils that this experience exhilarated him; it conferred upon him an authority that he enjoyed. He liked to be addressed by these nice-mannered young boys as "sir," and to be recognized by them so unquestioningly as a person to whom deference must be shown. Altogether this first day with the new boys inspired him with confidence, and at the end of it he attacked the pile of examination books enthusiastically.
Mr. Barclay aided him in that task; Mr. Barclay was a young master also, comparatively, though he had had several years' experience. Irving was attracted to him at once, and was grateful for the way in which he made suggestions when there was some uncertainty as to how a boy should be graded.
Irving liked, too, the genial chuckle which preceded an invitation to inspect some candidate's egregious blunder; Irving would read and smile quietly, unaware that Barclay was watching him and wondering how appreciative he might be of the ludicrous.
Two nights Irving spent all alone in the Sixth Form dormitory; it amused him to walk up and down the corridors with the list of those to whom rooms there had been assigned. "Collingwood, Westby, Scarborough, Morrill, Anderson, Baldersnaith, Hill"—some of them had occupied these rooms as Fifth Formers, and Irving had asked Mr. Barclay about them.
Louis Collingwood was captain of the school football team; Scarborough was captain of the school crew.
"Neither of them will give you any trouble," said Barclay. "Scarborough used to be a cub, but he has developed very much in the last year or two, and now he and Collingwood are the best-liked fellows in the school. They have a proper sense of their responsibility as leaders of the school, and are more likely to help you than to make trouble. Morrill is their faithful follower, though a little harum-scarum at times. Westby—" the master hesitated over that name and looked at Irving with a measuring glance—"Westby is what you might call the school jester. He's very popular with the boys—not equally so with all the masters. Personally I'm rather fond of him. He's almost too quick-witted sometimes."
That evening Barclay took the new master home to dine with him. Mrs. Barclay was as cordial and as kind as her husband; Irving began to feel more than satisfied with his surroundings.
"Pity you're not married, Upton," Barclay said, half jokingly. "You'd escape keeping dormitory if you were—which you'll find the meanest of all possible jobs. And then if your wife's the right kind—the boys have to be pretty decent to you in order to keep on her good side."
Mrs. Barclay laughed. "I suppose that's the only reason they're pretty decent to you, William!—You'll find it easy, Mr. Upton,—for the reason that they're a pretty decent lot of boys."
The next day at noon the old boys began to arrive. Irving was coming out of the auditorium, where he had been correcting the last set of examination papers, when a barge drew up before the study building and boys clutching hand-bags tumbled out and hurried into the building to greet the rector.
Irving stood for a few moments looking on with interest: other barges kept coming over the hill, interspersed with carriages, in which a few arrived more magnificently.
It occurred to Irving that perhaps he had better hasten to his dormitory in order to be on hand when his charges should begin to appear; he was just starting away when three boys arm in arm rushed out of the study building. They came prancing up to him, all smiles and twinkles; they were boys of seventeen or eighteen. They confronted him, blocking his path; and the one in the middle, a slim, straight fellow in a blue suit, said,—
"Hello, new kid! What name?"
A blush of embarrassment mounted in Irving's cheeks; feeling it, he conceived it all the more advisable to assert his dignity. So he said without a smile, in a constrained voice,—
"I am not a new kid. I am a master."
The three boys who had been beaming on him with good humor in their eyes stared blankly. Then the one in the middle, with a sudden whoop of laughter, swung the two others round and led them off at a run; and as they went, their delighted laughter floated back to Irving's ears.
His cheeks were tingling, almost as if they had been slapped. He followed the boys at a distance; they moved towards the Upper School. His heart sank; what if they were in his dormitory?
He entered the building just as the last of the three was going up the Sixth Form dormitory stairs.
HE ACHIEVES A NAME FOR HIMSELF
At the foot of the staircase Irving hesitated until the sound of the voices and footsteps had ceased. The three boys had not seen him when he had entered; he was wondering whether he had better be courageous, go right up after them, and introduce himself,—just as if they had not caught him off his guard and put him into a ridiculous position,—or delay a little while in the hope that their memory of it would be less keen.
He decided that he had better be courageous. When he reached the top floor, he went into his room; he was feeling nervous over the prospect of confronting his charges, and he wished to be sure that his hair and his necktie looked right. While he was examining himself in the mirror, he heard a door open on the corridor and a boy call, "Lou! Did you know that Mr. Williams won't be back this term?"
Farther down the corridor a voice answered, "No! What's the matter?"
"Typhoid. Mr. Randolph told me."
"Who's taken his place?" It was another voice that asked this question.
"A new man—named Upton. I haven't laid eyes on him yet."
"Wouldn't it be a joke—!" The speaker paused to laugh. "Suppose it should turn out to be the new kid!"
"'I am not a new kid; I am a master.'"
The mimicry was so accurate that Irving winced and then flushed to the temples. In the laughter that it produced he closed his door quietly and sat down to think. He couldn't be courageous now; he felt that he could not step out and face those fellows who were laughing at him. Of course they were the ones who ought to be embarrassed by his appearance, not he; but Irving felt they would lend one another support and brazen it through, and that he would be the one to exhibit weakness. He decided that he must wait and try to make himself known to each one of them separately—that only by such a beginning would he be likely to engage their respect.
It was the first time that he had been brought face to face with his pitiable diffidence. He was ashamed; he thought of how differently Lawrence would have met the situation—how much more directly he would have dealt with it. Irving resolved that hereafter he would not be afraid of any multitude of boys. But he refrained from making his presence known in the dormitory that afternoon.
At half past five o'clock he went downstairs to the rooms of Mr. Randolph, who had charge of the Upper School. Mr. Marcy, the Fifth Form dormitory master, and Mr. Wythe, the Fourth Form dormitory master, were also there. They were veterans, comparatively, and it was to meet them and benefit by what they could tell him that Irving had been invited. All three congratulated him on his good fortune in obtaining the Sixth Form dormitory.
"The older they are, the less trouble they are," said Wythe. "My first year I was over at the Lower School, looking after the little kids. Half the time they're sick and whimpering and have to be coddled, and the rest of the time they have to be spanked."
"It hardly matters what age they are," lamented Marcy, pessimistically. "There's bound to be a dormitory disorder once in so often."
"What do you do in that case?" asked Irving.
"Jump hard on some one," answered Wythe. "Try to get the leader of it, but if you can't get him, get somebody. Report him,—give him three sheets."
"That means writing Latin lines for three hours on half-holidays?"
"Yes, and six marks off in Decorum for the week. Of course they'll come wheedling round you, wanting to be excused; you have to use your own discretion about that."
"Do you have any Sixth Form classes?" asked Marcy.
"Yes," Irving answered. "In Geometry."
"That means you'll have to take the upper hand and hold it, right from the start. If you have one crowd in dormitory to look after and another crowd in class, you can afford to relax a little now and then; but when it's the same boys in both—they watch for any sign of weakening."
"There will be only two of them at your table, any way, Mr. Upton," said Randolph. He passed over a list. "The others are all Fourth and Fifth Formers—only Westby and Carroll from the Sixth!"
"Westby!" Wythe sighed. "Maybe we were premature in congratulating you. I'd forgotten about Westby."
"What is the matter with him?" asked Irving.
"His cleverness, and his attractiveness. He smiles and smiles and is a villain still. He was in my dormitory year before last and kept it in a constant turmoil. And yet if you have any sense of humor at all you can't help being amused by him—even sympathizing with him—though it's apt to be at your own expense."
"He's perfectly conscienceless," declared Marcy.
"And yet there's no real harm in him," said Randolph.
"He seems to be something of a puzzle." Irving spoke uneasily. "And he's to be at my table—I'm to have a table?"
"Oh, yes. In fact, one or two of the Sixth Formers—Scarborough, for instance—have tables. But we don't let all the Sixth Formers eat together; we try to scatter them. And Westby and Carroll have fallen to your lot."
"If you happen to see either of them before supper, I should like to meet them," Irving said.
He felt that if he could make their acquaintance separately and without witnesses, he could produce a better impression than if he waited and confronted them before a whole table of strange faces.
But as it happened, that was just the way that he did meet Westby and Carroll. When the supper bell sounded, the hallway of the Upper School was crowded with boys, examining the schedule which had been posted and which assigned them to their seats in the dining-room. Irving, after waiting nervously until more than half the number had entered the dining-room and deriving no help from any of the other masters, went in and stood at the head of the third table, as he had been instructed to do. Four or five boys were already standing there at their places; they looked at him with curiosity and bowed to him politely. The crowd as it entered thinned; Irving was beginning to hope that Westby and Carroll had gone elsewhere,—and then, just as Mr. Randolph was mounting to the head table on the dais, two boys slipped in and stood at the seats at Irving's right. He recognized them as having been two of the three who had laughed when he had proclaimed himself a master. One was the slim, tall fellow who had called him "new kid."
For a moment at Irving's table, after the boys had rattled into their seats, there was silence. In front of Irving were a platter of cold tongue and a dish of beans, and he began to put portions of each on the plates piled before him. Then as he passed the first plate along the line he looked up and said, "I think we'd better find out who everybody is. So each fellow, as he gets his plate, will please sing out his name."
That was not such a bad beginning; there was a general grin which broadened into a laugh when the first boy blushingly owned to the name of Walnut. Then came Lacy and Norris, and then Westby.
"Oh," said Irving. "I think you're to be in my dormitory, aren't you?"
"I believe so." Westby looked at him quizzically, as if expecting him to make some reference to their encounter; but Irving passed on to his next neighbor, Carroll, and then began with the other side of the table.
He liked the appearance of the boys; they were quiet-looking and respectful, and they had been responsive enough to his suggestion about announcing their names. A happy inspiration told him that so long as he could keep on taking the initiative with boys, he would have no serious trouble. But it was one thing to recognize an effective mode of conduct, and another to have the resourcefulness for carrying it out. Irving was just thinking what next he should say, when Westby fell upon him.
"Mr. Upton,"—Westby's voice was curiously distinct, in spite of its quietness,—"wasn't it funny, our taking you for a new kid this afternoon?"
Because the question was so obviously asked in a lull to embarrass him, Irving was embarrassed. The interest of all the boys at the table had been skillfully excited, and Westby leaned forward in front of Carroll, with mischievous eyes and smile. Irving felt his color rising; he felt both abashed and annoyed.
"Why, yes," he said hesitatingly. "I—I was a little startled."
"Did they take you for a new kid, Mr. Upton?" asked Blake, the Fifth Former, who sat on Irving's left.
"For a moment, yes," admitted Irving, anxious not to pursue the subject.
But Westby proceeded to explain with gusto, while the whole table listened. "Lou Collingwood and Carrie here and I were in front of the Study, and out came Mr. Upton. And Lou wanted to nail him for the Pythians, so we all pranced up to him, and I said, 'Hello, new kid; what name, please?'—just like that; didn't I, Mr. Upton?"
"Yes," said Irving grudgingly. He had an uneasy feeling that he was being made an object of general entertainment; certainly the eyes of all the boys at the table were fixed upon him smilingly.
"What happened then?" asked the blunt Blake.
"Why, then," continued Westby, "Mr. Upton told us that he wasn't a new kid at all, but a new master. You may imagine we were surprised—weren't we, Mr. Upton?"
"Oh, I could hardly tell—"
"The joke was certainly on us. As the French say, it was a contretemps. To think that after all the years we'd been here, we couldn't tell a new kid from a new master!"
Irving was mildly bewildered. He could not quite determine whether Westby was telling the story more as a joke on himself or on him. Anyway, in spite of the temporary embarrassment which they had caused him, there seemed to be nothing offensive in the remarks. He liked Westby's face; it was alert and good-humored, and the cajoling quality in the boy's voice and the twinkle in his eyes were quite attractive. In fact, his manner during supper was so agreeable that Irving quite forgot it was this youth whom he had overheard mimicking him: "I am not a new kid; I am a master."
After supper there were prayers in the Common Room; then all the boys except the Sixth Formers went to the Study building to sit for an hour under the eyes of a master, to read or write letters. On subsequent evenings they would have to employ this period in studying, but as yet no lessons had been assigned; the classroom work had not begun. The Sixth Form were exempt from the necessity of attending Study, and had the privilege of preparing their lessons in their own rooms. Irving found, on going up to his dormitory, that the boys were visiting one another, helping one another unpack, darting up and down the corridor and carrying on loud conversations. He decided, as there were no lessons for them to prepare, not to interfere; their sociability seemed harmless enough.
So, leaving the door of his room open that he might hear and suppress any incipient disorder, he began a letter to Lawrence. He thought at first that he would confide to his brother the little troubles which were annoying him. But when he set about it, they seemed really too petty to transcribe; surely he was man enough to bear such worries without appealing to a younger brother for advice.
There was a loud burst of laughter from a room in which several boys had gathered. It was followed by the remark in Westby's pleasant, persuasive voice,—
"Look out, fellows, or we'll have Kiddy Upton down on us."
"Kiddy Upton!" another voice exclaimed in delight, and there was more laughter.
Kiddy Upton! So that was to be his name. Of course boys gave nicknames to their teachers,—Irving remembered some appellations that had prevailed even at college. But none of them seemed so slighting or so jeering as this of Kiddy; and Irving flushed as he had done when he had been taken for a "new kid." But now his sensitiveness was even more hurt; it wounded him that Westby, that pleasant, humorous person, should have been the one to apply the epithet.
Westby began singing "The Wearing of the Green," to an accompaniment on a banjo. Presently four or five voices, with extravagant brogues, were uplifted in the chorus:—
"'Tis the most disthressful counthry That ever there was seen; For they're hanging men and women too For wearin' of the green."
There was much applause; boys from other rooms went hurrying down the corridor. The banjo-player struck up "The Road to Mandalay;" again Irving recognized Westby's voice.
Irving decided that he must not be thin-skinned; it was his part to step up, be genial, make himself known to all these boys who were to be under his care, and show them that he wished to be friendly. He did not wait to debate with himself the wisdom of this resolve or to consider how he should proceed; he acted on the impulse. He walked down the corridor to the third room on the left—the door of Westby's room, from which the sounds of joviality proceeded. He knocked; some one called "Come in;" and Irving opened the door.
Three boys sat in chairs, three sat on the bed; Westby himself was squatting cross-legged on the window seat, with the banjo across his knees. They all rose politely when Irving entered.
"I thought I would drop in and make your acquaintance," said Irving. "We're bound to know one another some time."
"My name's Collingwood," said the boy nearest him, offering his hand. He was a healthy, light-haired, solidly put together youth, with a genial smile. "This is Scarborough, Mr. Upton."
The biggest of them all came forward at that and shook hands. Irving thought that his deep-set dark eyes were disconcertingly direct in their gaze; and a lock of black hair overhung his brow in a far from propitiating manner. Yet his bearing was dignified and manly; Irving felt that he might be trusted to show magnanimity.
"Here's Carroll," continued Collingwood; and Irving said, "Oh, I know Carroll; we sat together at supper." Carroll said nothing, merely smiled in an agreeable, non-committal manner; so far it was all that Irving had discovered he could do.
"That fellow with the angel face is Morrill," Collingwood went on, "and the one next to him, with the aristocratic features, is Baldersnaith, and this red-head here is Dennison,—and that's Westby."
Irving, shaking hands round the circle, said, "Oh, I know Westby."
"Sit down, won't you, Mr. Upton?" Westby pushed his armchair forward.
"Thank you; don't let me interrupt the singing."
"Maybe you'll join us?"
Irving shook his head. "I wish I could. But please go on."
Westby squatted again on the window-seat and plucked undecidedly at the banjo-strings. Then he cleared his throat and launched upon a negro melody; he sang it with the unctuous abandon of the darkey, and Irving listened and looked on enviously, admiring the display of talent. Westby sang another song, and then turned and pushed up the window.
"Awfully hot for this time of year, isn't it?" he said. "Fine moonlight night; wouldn't it be great to go for a swim?"
"Um!" said Morrill, appreciatively.
"Will you let us go, Mr. Upton?" Westby asked the question pleadingly. "Won't you please let us go? It's such a fine warm moonlight night—and it isn't as if school had really begun, you know."
"But I think the rules don't permit your being out at this time of night, do they?" said Irving.
"Well, but as I say, school hasn't really begun yet. And besides, Scabby here is almost as good as a master—and so is Lou Collingwood; I'm the only really irresponsible one in the bunch—"
"Where do you go to swim?"
"In the pond, just beyond the isthmus—only about a quarter of a mile from here. Come on, fellows, Mr. Upton's going to let us go."
Irving laughed uneasily. "Oh, I didn't say that. If Mr. Randolph is willing that you should go, I wouldn't object."
"You're in charge of this dormitory," argued Westby. "And if you gave us permission, Mr. Randolph wouldn't say anything."
"I don't feel that I can make an exception to the rules," said Irving.
"But school hasn't really begun yet," persisted Westby.
"I think it really has, so far as observing the rules is concerned," replied Irving.
"You might go with us, sir—and that would make it all right."
"But I don't believe I want to go in swimming this evening."
"I'm awfully afraid you're going to be just like granite, Mr. Upton," sighed Westby,—"the man with the iron jaw." He turned on the others a humorous look; they all were smiling. Irving felt uncomfortable again, suspecting that Westby was making game of him, yet not knowing in what way to meet it—except by silence.
"I'll tell you what I will do with you to-morrow, Wes," said Collingwood. "I'll challenge you to that water duel that we were to have pulled off last June."
"All right, Lou," said Westby. "Carrie here will be my trusty squire and will paddle my canoe."
Carroll grinned his assent.
"I'll pick Ned Morrill for my second," said Collingwood. "And Scabby can be referee."
"What's a water duel?" asked Irving.
"They go out in canoes, two in each canoe," answered Scarborough. "One fellow paddles, and the other stands up in the bow with a long pole and a big fat sponge tied to the end of it. Then the two canoes manoeuvre, and try to get within striking distance, and the fellow or canoe that gets upset first loses. We had a tournament last spring, and these two pairs came through to the finals, but never fought it out—baseball or tennis or something always interfered."
"It must be quite an amusing game," said Irving.
"Come up to the swimming hole to-morrow afternoon if you want to see it," said Collingwood, hospitably. "I'll just about drown Westby. It will be a good show."
"Thank you; I'd like to—"
"But don't you think, Mr. Upton,"—again it was Westby, with his cajoling voice and his wheedling smile,—"that I might have just one evening's moonlight practice for it?"
"Oh, I don't believe you need any practice."
"But you said I might if Mr. Randolph would consent. I don't see why you shouldn't be independent, as well as liberal."
There was a veiled insinuation in this, for all the good-natured, teasing tone, and Irving did not like it.
"No," he said. "I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I can't let you go swimming to-night.—I'm glad to have met you all." And so he took his departure, and presently the sound of banjo and singing rose again from Westby's room.
Irving proceeded to visit the other rooms of the dormitory and to make the acquaintance of the occupants—boys engaged mostly in arranging bureau drawers or hanging pictures. They were all friendly enough; it seemed to him that he could get on with boys individually; it was when they faced him in numbers that they alarmed him and caused his manner to be hesitating and embarrassed. One big fellow named Allison was trying to hang a picture when Irving entered; it was a large and heavy picture, and Irving held it straight while Allison stood on a chair and set the hook on the moulding. Allison thanked Irving with the gratitude of one unaccustomed to receiving such consideration; indeed, his uncouthness and unkemptness made him one of those unfortunate boys who suffered now and then from persecution. Irving learned afterwards that the crowd he had met in Westby's room hung together and were the leaders not merely in the affairs of the dormitory, but of the school.
At half past nine the big bell on the Study building rang twice—the signal for the boys to go to their respective rooms. Irving had been informed of the little ceremony which was the custom; he stepped out in front of his door at the end of the corridor, and one after another the boys came up, shook hands with him, and bade him good-night. Westby came to him with the engaging and yet somewhat disquieting smile which recalled to Irving Mr. Wythe's words, "He smiles and smiles, but is a villain still." It was a smile which seemed to suggest the discernment and enjoyment of all one's weak spots.
"Good-night, Mr. Upton," said Westby, and his voice was excessively urbane. It made Irving look forward to a better acquaintance with both expectancy and apprehension.
The first morning of actual school work went well enough; Irving met his classes, which were altogether in mathematics, assigned them lessons, and managed to keep them and himself busy. From one of them he brought away some algebra exercises, which he spent part of the afternoon in correcting. When he had finished this work, the invitation to witness the water duel occurred to his mind.
He found no other master to bear him company, so he set off by himself through the woods which bordered the pond behind the Gymnasium. He came at last to the "isthmus"—a narrow dyke of stones which cut off a long inlet and bridged the way over to a wooded peninsula that jutted out into the pond. On the farther side of this peninsula, secluded behind trees and bushes, was the swimming hole.
As Irving approached, he heard voices; he drew nearer and saw the bare backs of boys undressing and heard then the defiances which they were hurling at one another—phrased in the language of Ivanhoe.
"Nay, by my halidome, but I shall this day do my devoir right worthily upon the body of yon false knight," quoth Westby, as he carefully turned his shirt right side out.
"A murrain on thee! Beshrew me if I do not spit thee upon my trusty lance," replied Collingwood, as he drew on his swimming tights.
Then some one trotted out upon the spring-board, gave a bounce and a leap, and went into the water with a splash.
"How is it, Ned?" called Westby; and Irving came up as Morrill, reaching out for a long side stroke, shouted, "Oh, fine—warm and fine."
"Hello, Mr. Upton." It was Baldersnaith who first saw him; Baldersnaith, Dennison, and Smythe were fully dressed and were sitting under a tree looking on.
"You're just in time," said Collingwood.
Scarborough, stripped like Westby and Carroll and Morrill and Collingwood, was out on the pond, paddling round in a canoe. He was crouched on one knee in the middle, and the canoe careened over with his weight, so that the gunwale was only an inch or two above the surface. He was evidently an expert paddler, swinging the craft round, this way and that, without ever taking the paddle out of the water.
Two other canoes were hauled up near the spring-board; Carroll was bending over one of them.
"Bring me my lethal weapon, Carrie," Westby commanded. "I want to show Mr. Upton.—Is the button on tight?"
Carroll produced from the canoe a long pole with an enormous sponge fastened to one end; he pulled at the sponge and announced, "Yes, the button's on tight," and passed the pole over to Westby.
Westby made one or two experimental lunges with it and remarked musingly, "When I catch him square above the bread line with this—!"
"Come on, then!" said Collingwood. "Come here, Ned!"
Morrill swam ashore and pushed off in one of the canoes with Collingwood—taking the stern seat and the paddle. Collingwood knelt in the bow, with his spear laid across the gun-wales in front of him. In like manner Westby and Carroll took to the water.
"This is the best two bouts out of three," called Scarborough, as he circled round. "Don't you want to come aboard, Mr. Upton, and help judge?"
"Why, yes, thank you," said Irving.
So Scarborough called, "Wait a moment, fellows," and paddling ashore, took on his passenger. Then he sped out to the middle of the bay; the two other canoes were separated by about fifty feet.
"Charge!" cried Scarborough, and Morrill and Carroll began paddling towards each other, while in the bows Collingwood and Westby rose to their feet and held their spears in front of them. They advanced cautiously and then swung apart, evading the collision—each trying to tempt the other to stab and overreach.
"Oh, you're both scared!" jeered Baldersnaith from the shore.
The canoes swung about and made for each other again; and this time passed within striking distance. Westby's aim missed, his sponge-tipped lance slid past Collingwood's shoulder, and the next instant Collingwood's sponge—well weighted with water—smote Westby full in the chest and hove him overboard. For one moment Carroll struggled to keep the canoe right side up, but in vain; it tipped and filled, and with a shout he plunged in head foremost after his comrade.
They came up and began to push their canoe ashore; the two other canoes drew alongside and assisted, Scarborough and Morrill paddling, while Irving and Collingwood laid hold of the thwarts.
"That's all right; I'll get you this time," spluttered Westby. "We're going to use strategy now."
They emptied the water out of the canoe and proceeded again to the battleground. Then, when Scarborough gave the word, Carroll began paddling madly; he and Westby bore down upon their antagonists at a most threatening speed. Morrill swung to the right to get out of their path; and then suddenly Carroll swung in the opposite direction—with what strategic purpose neither Irving nor Scarborough had time to conjecture. For they were loitering close on that side, not expecting any such manoeuvre; the sharp turn drove the bow of Carroll's canoe straight for the waist of Scarborough's, and Westby with an excited laugh undertook to fend off with his pole, lost his balance, and trying to recover it, upset both canoes together.
Irving felt himself going, heard Westby's laughing shout, "Look out, Mr. Upton!" and then went under.
The water was warm, but Irving swallowed a good deal of it and also was conscious of the fact that he had on a perfectly good suit of clothes. So he came to the surface, choking and annoyed; and when he recovered his faculties, he observed first of all Westby's grinning face.
"You can swim all right, can't you, Mr. Upton?" said Westby. "I thought for a moment we might have to dive for you."
Irving clutched at the stern of the capsized canoe and said, rather curtly, "I'm not dressed to enjoy swimming."
"I'm awfully sorry," said Scarborough. "But I never thought they were going to turn that way; I don't know what Carrie thought he was doing—"
"I'd have shown you some strategy if you hadn't blundered into us," declared Carroll.
"Blundered into you! There was no need for Wes to give us such a poke, anyhow."
Westby replied merely with an irritating chuckle—irritating at least to Irving, who felt that he should be showing more contrition.
Collingwood and Morrill came alongside, both laughing, jeering at Westby and offering polite expressions of solicitude to the master. They told him to lay hold of the tail of their canoe, and then they towed him ashore as rapidly as possible. When he drew himself up, dripping, on the bank, Baldersnaith, Dennison, and Smythe were all on the broad grin, and from the water floated the sound of Westby's merriment.
Irving stood for a moment, letting himself drip, quite undecided as to what he should do. He had never been ducked before, with all his clothes on; the clammy, weighted sensation was most unpleasant, the thought of his damaged and perhaps ruined suit was galling, the indignity of his appearance was particularly hard to bear. He felt that Baldersnaith and the others were trying to be as polite and considerate as possible, and yet they could not refrain from exhibiting their amusement, their delight.
Scarborough, who had swum ahead of the others, waded ashore and looked him over. "I tell you what you'd better do, Mr. Upton," he said. "You'd better take your clothes off, wring them out, and spread them out to dry. They'll dry in this sun and wind. And while they're doing that, you can come in swimming with us."
Irving hesitated a moment; instinct told him that the advice was sensible, yet he shrank from accepting it; he felt that for a master to do what Scarborough suggested would be undignified, and might somehow compromise his position. "I think I'd better run home and rub myself down and put on some dry things," he replied.
"Well," said Scarborough, "just as you say. Sorry I got you into this mess."
"Oh, it's all right," said Irving.
He walked away, with the water trickling uncomfortably down him inside his clothes and swashing juicily in his shoes. He liked Scarborough for the way he had acted, but he felt less kindly towards Westby. He was by no means sure that Westby had not deliberately soused him and then pretended it was an accident. He remembered Westby's mirthful laugh just when the thing was happening; and certainly if it had really been an accident Westby had shown very little concern. He had been indecently amused; he was so still; his clear joyous laugh was ringing after Irving even now, and Irving felt angrily that he was at this moment a ridiculous figure. To be running home drenched!—probably it would have been better if he had done what Scarborough had suggested, less undignified, more manly really. But he couldn't turn back now.
He was cold and his teeth had begun to chatter, so he started to run. He hoped that when he came out of the woods he might be fortunate enough to elude observation on the way to the Upper School, but in this he was disappointed. As he jogged by the Study building, with his clothes jouncing and slapping heavily upon his shoulders, out came the rector and met him face to face.
"Upset canoeing?" asked the rector with a smile.
"Yes," Irving answered; he stood for a moment awkwardly.
"Well, it will happen sometimes," said the rector. "Don't catch cold." And he passed on.
There was some consolation for Irving in this matter-of-fact view. In the rector's eyes apparently his dignity had not suffered by the incident. But when a moment later he passed a group of Fourth Formers and they turned and stared at him, grinning, he felt that his dignity had suffered very much. He felt that within a short time his misfortune would be the talk of the school.
At supper it was as he expected it would be. Westby set about airing the story for the benefit of the table, appealing now and then to Irving himself for confirmation of the passages which were least gratifying to Irving's vanity. "You did look so woe-begone when you stood up on shore, Mr. Upton," was the genial statement which Irving especially resented. To have Westby tell the boys the first day how he had called the new master a new kid and the second day how he had ducked him was a little too much; it seemed to Irving that Westby was slyly amusing himself by undermining his authority. But the boy's manner was pleasantly ingratiating always; Irving felt baffled. Carroll did not help him much towards an interpretation; Carroll sat by self-contained, quietly intelligent, amused. Irving liked both the boys, and yet as the days passed, he seemed to grow more and more uneasy and anxious in their society.
In the classroom he was holding his own; he was a good mathematical scholar, he prepared the lessons thoroughly, and he found it generally easy to keep order by assigning problems to be worked out in class. The weather continued good, so that during play time the fellows were out of doors instead of loafing round in dormitory. They all had their own little affairs to organize; athletic clubs and literary societies held their first meetings; there was a process of general shaking down; and in the interest and industry occasioned by all this, there was not much opportunity or disposition to make trouble.
But the first Sunday was a bad day. In a boys' school bad weather is apt to be accompanied by bad behavior; on this Sunday it poured. The boys, having put on their best clothes, were obliged, when they went out to chapel, to wear rubbers and to carry umbrellas—an imposition against which they rebelled. After chapel, there was an hour before dinner, and in that hour most of the Sixth Formers sought their rooms—or sought one another's rooms; it seemed to Irving, who was trying to read and who had a headache, that there was a needless amount of rushing up and down the corridors and of slamming of doors. By and by the tumult became uproarious, shouts of laughter and the sound of heavy bodies being flung against walls reached his ears; he emerged then and saw the confusion at the end of the corridor. Allison was suspended two or three feet above the floor, by a rope knotted under his arms; it was the rope that was used for raising trunks up to the loft above. In lowering it from the loft some one had trespassed on forbidden ground. Westby, Collingwood, Dennison, Scarborough, and half a dozen others were gathered, enjoying Allison's ludicrous struggles. His plight was not painful, only absurd; and Irving himself could not at first keep back a smile. But he came forward and said,—
"Oh, look here, fellows, whoever is responsible for this will have to climb up and release Allison."
Westby turned with his engaging smile.
"Yes, but, Mr. Upton, who do you suppose is responsible? I don't see how we can fix the responsibility, do you?"
"I will undertake to fix it," said Irving. "Westby, suppose you climb that ladder and let Allison down."
"I don't think you're approaching this matter in quite a judicial spirit, Mr. Upton," said Westby. "Of course no man wants to be arbitrary; he wants to be just. It really seems to me, Mr. Upton, that no action should be taken until the matter has been more thoroughly sifted."
The other boys, with the exception of Allison, were chuckling at this glib persuasiveness. Westby stood there, in a calmly respectful, even deferential attitude, as if animated only by a desire to serve the truth.
"We will have no argument about it, Westby," said Irving. "Please climb the ladder at once and release Allison."
"I beg of you, Mr. Upton," said Westby in a tone of distress, "don't, please don't, confuse argument with impartial inquiry; nothing is more distasteful to me than argument. I merely ask for investigation; I court it in your own interest as well as mine."
Irving grew rigid. His head was throbbing painfully; the continued snickering all round him and Westby's increasing confidence and fluency grated on his nerves. He drew out his watch.
"I will give you one minute in which to climb that ladder," he said.
"Mr. Upton, you wish to be a just man," pleaded Westby. "Even though you have the great weight of authority—and years"—Westby choked a laugh—"behind you, don't do an unjust and arbitrary thing. Allison himself wouldn't have you—would you, Allison?"
The victim grinned uncomfortably.
"Mr. Upton," urged Westby, "you wouldn't have me soil these hands?" He displayed his laudably clean, pink fingers. "Of course, if I go up there I shall get my hands all dirty—and equally of course if I had been up there, they would be all dirty now. Surely you believe in the value of circumstantial evidence; therefore, before we fix the responsibility, let us search for the dirty pair of hands."
"Time is up," said Irving, closing his watch.
"But what is time when justice trembles in the balance?" argued Westby. "When the innocent is in danger of being punished for the guilty, when—"
"Westby, please climb that ladder at once."
"So young and so inexorable!" murmured Westby, setting his foot upon the ladder.
Irving's face was red; the tittering of the audience was making him angry. He held his eyes on Westby, who made a slow, grunting progress up three rungs and then stopped.
"Mr. Upton, Mr. Upton, sir!" Westby's voice was ingratiating. "Mayn't Allison sing for us, sir?"
Allison grinned again foolishly and sent a sprawling foot out towards his persecutor; the others laughed.
"Keep on climbing," said Irving.
Westby resumed his toilsome way, and as he moved he kept murmuring remarks to Allison, to the others, to Irving himself, half audible, rapid, in an aggrieved tone.
"Don't see why you want to be conspicuous this way, Allison.—Won't sing—amuse anybody—ornamental, I suppose—good timekeeper though—almost hear you tick. Mr. Upton—setting watch by you now—awfully severe kind of man—"
So mumbling, with the responsive titter still continuing below and Irving standing there stern and red, Westby disappeared into the loft. There was a moment's silence, then a sudden clicking of a ratchet wheel, and Allison began to rise rapidly towards the ceiling.
"A-ay!" cried Allison in amazement.
The boys burst out in delighted laughter.
"Westby! Westby! Stop that!" Irving's voice was shrill with anger.
Allison became stationary once more, and Westby displayed an innocent, surprised face at the loft opening.
"If there is any more nonsense in letting Allison down, I shall really have to report you." Irving's voice rose tremulously to a high key; he was trying hard to control it.
Westby gazed down with surprise. "Why, I guess I must have turned the crank the wrong way, don't you suppose I did, Mr. Upton?—Don't worry, Allison, old man; I'll rescue you, never fear. I'll try to lower you gently, so that you won't get hurt; you'll call out if you find you're coming down too fast, won't you?"
He withdrew his head, and presently the ratchet wheel clicked and slowly, very slowly, Allison began to descend. When his feet were a couple of inches from the floor, the descent stopped.
"All right now?" called Westby from above.
"No!" bawled Allison.
"Ve-ry gently then, ve-ry gently," replied Westby; and Allison, reaching for the floor with his toes, had at last the satisfaction of feeling it. He wriggled out of the noose and smoothed out his rumpled coat.
"Saved!" exclaimed Westby, peering down from the opening, and then he added sorrowfully, "Saved, and no word of gratitude to his rescuer!"
"Now, boys, don't stand round here any longer; we've had enough nonsense; go to your rooms," said Irving.
"Mr. Upton, Mr. Upton, Mr. Upton, sir!" clamored Westby, and the boys lingered.
Irving looked up in exasperation. "What is it now?"
"May I come down, please, sir?"
"Thank you, sir."
Carefully Westby descended the ladder, mumbling all the time sentences of which the lingerers caught fragmentary scraps: "Horrible experience that of Allison's—dreadful situation to have been in—so fortunate that I was at hand—the man who dares—reckless courage, ready resource—home again!" He dropped to the floor, and raising his hand to his forehead, saluted Irving.
"Come, move on, all you fellows," said Irving; the others were still hanging about and laughing; "move on, move on! Carroll, you and Westby take that ladder down and put it back where you got it."
He stayed to see that the order was carried out; then he returned to his room. He felt that though he had conquered in this instance, he had adopted the wrong tone, and that he must offer something else than peevishness and irritation to ward off Westby's humor; already it gave indications of becoming too audacious. Yet on the whole Irving was pleased because he had at least asserted himself—and had rather enjoyed doing it. And an hour later it seemed to him that he had lost all that he had gained.
Roast beef was the unvarying dish at Sunday dinner; a large and fragrant sirloin was set before the head of each table to be carved. Irving took up the carving knife and fork with some misgivings. Hitherto he had had nothing more difficult to deal with than steaks or chops or croquettes or stews; and carving was an art that he had never learned; confronted by the necessity, he was amazed to find that he had so little idea of how to proceed. The first three slices came off readily enough, though they were somewhat ragged, and Irving was aware that Westby was surveying his operations with a critical interest. The knife seemed to grow more dull, the meat more wobbly, more tough, the bone got more and more in the way; the maid who was passing the vegetables was waiting, all the boys except the three who had been helped first were waiting, coldly critical, anxiously apprehensive; silence at this table had begun to reign.
Irving felt himself blushing and muttered, "This knife's awfully dull," as he sawed away. At last he hacked off an unsightly slab and passed it to Westby, whose turn it was and who wrinkled his nose at it in disfavor.
"Please have this knife sharpened," Irving said to the maid. She put down the potatoes and the corn, and departed with the instrument to the kitchen.
Irving glanced at the other tables; everybody seemed to have been served, everybody was eating; Scarborough, who was in charge of the next table, had entirely demolished his roast.
"I'm sorry to keep you fellows waiting," Irving said, "but that's the dullest knife I ever handled."
He addressed the remark to the totally unprovided side of his table; he turned his head just in time to catch Westby's humorous mouth and droll droop of an eyelid. The other boys smiled, and Irving's cheeks grew more hot.
"You'll excuse me, Mr. Upton, if I don't wait, won't you?" said Westby. "Don't get impatient, fellows."
The maid returned with the carving knife; Westby paused in his eating to observe. Irving made another unsuccessful effort; the meat quivered and shook and slid under his attack, and the knife slipped and clashed down upon the platter.
"Perhaps if you would stand up to it, sir, you would do better," suggested Westby, in an insidious voice. "Nobody else does, but if it would be easier—"
"Thank you, but the suggestion is unnecessary," Irving retorted. He added to the other boys, while he struggled, "It's the meat, I guess, not the knife, after all—"
"Why, I shouldn't say it was the meat," interposed Westby. "The meat's quite tender."
Irving glanced at him in silent fury, clamped his lips together, and went on sawing. He finally was able to hand to Carroll a plate on which reposed a mussy-looking heap of beef. Carroll wrinkled his nose over it as Westby had done.
"If I might venture to suggest, sir," said Westby politely, "you could send it out and have it carved in the kitchen."
Irving surrendered; he looked up and said to the maid,—
"Please take this out and have it carved outside."
He felt that he could almost cry from the humiliation, but instead he tried to assume cheerfulness and dignity.
"I'm sorry," he said, "to have to keep you fellows waiting; we'll try to arrange things so that it won't happen again."
The boys accepted the apology in gloomy silence. At Scarborough's table their plight was exciting comment; Irving was aware of the curious glances which had been occasioned by the withdrawal of the roast. It seemed to him that he was publicly disgraced; there was a peculiar ignominy in sitting at the head of a table and being unable to perform the simplest duty of host. Worst of all, in the encounter with Westby he had lost ground.
The meat was brought on again, sliced in a manner which could not conceal the unskillfulness of the original attack.
"Stone cold!" exclaimed Blake, the first boy to test it.
Irving's temper flew up. "Don't be childish," he said. "And don't make any more comments about this matter. It's of no importance—and cold roast beef is just as good for you as hot."
"If not a great deal better," added Westby with an urbanity that set every one snickering.
After dinner Irving was again on duty for two hours in the dormitory, until the time for afternoon chapel. During part of this period the boys were expected to be in their rooms, preparing the Bible lesson which had to be recited after chapel to the rector. Irving made the rounds and saw that each boy was in his proper quarters, then went to his own room. For an hour he enjoyed quiet. Then the bell rang announcing that the study period was at an end. Instantly there was a commotion in the corridors—legitimate enough; but soon it centred in the north wing and grew more and more clamorous, more and more mirthful.
With a sigh Irving went forth to quell it. He determined that whatever happened he would not this time lose his temper; he would try to be persuasive and yet firm.
The noise was in Allison's room; the unfortunate Allison was again being persecuted. Loud whoops of laughter and the sound of vigorous scuffling, of tumbling chairs and pounding feet, came to Irving's ears. The door to Allison's room was wide open; Irving stood and looked upon a pile of bodies heaped on the bed, with struggling arms and legs; even in that moment the foot of the iron bedstead collapsed, and the pile rolled off upon the floor. There were Morrill and Carroll and Westby and Dennison and at the bottom Allison—all looking very much rumpled, very red.
"Oh, come, fellows!" said Irving in what he intended to make an appealing voice. "Less noise, less noise—or I shall really have to report you—I shall really!"
But he did not speak with any confidence; his manner was hesitating, almost deprecating. The boys grinned at him and then sauntered, rather indifferently, out of the room.
There was no more disorder that day. But some hours later, when Irving came up to the dormitory before supper, he heard laughter in the west wing, where Collingwood and Westby and Scarborough had their rooms. Then he heard Westby's voice, raised in an effeminate, pleading tone: "Less noise, fellows, less noise—or I shall have to report you—I shall really!"
There was more laughter at the mimicry, and Irving heard Collingwood ask,
"Where did you get that, Wes?"
"Oh, from Kiddy—this afternoon."
"Poor Kiddy! He seemed to be having an awful time at noon over that roast beef."
"He's such a dodo—he's more fun than a goat. I can put him up in the air whenever I want to," boasted Westby. "He's the easiest to get rattled I ever saw. I'm going to play horse with him in class to-morrow."
"How?" asked Collingwood; and Irving basely pricked up his ears.
"Oh, you'll see."
Irving closed the door of his room quietly. "We'll see, will we?" he muttered, pacing back and forth. "Yes, I guess some one will see."
THE BAITING OF A MASTER
The room in which the Sixth Form assembled for the lesson in Geometry was on the top floor of the Study building; the windows overlooked the pond behind the Gymnasium. The teacher's desk was on a platform in the corner; a blackboard extended along two walls; and there were steps beneath the blackboard on which the students stood to make their demonstrations.
Irving arrived a minute before the hour and found his class already assembled—a suspicious circumstance. There was, too, he felt, an air of subdued, joyous expectancy. He took his seat and, adjusting his spectacles, peered round the room; his eyesight was very bad, and he had, moreover, like so many bookworms, never trained his faculty of observation.
He read the roll of the class; every boy was there.
"Scarborough, you may go to the blackboard and demonstrate the Fifth Theorem; Dennison, you the Sixth; Westby, you the Eighth. The rest of you will solve at your seats this problem."
He mounted to the blackboard himself and wrote out the question. While he had his back turned, he heard some whispering; he looked over his shoulder. Westby was lingering in his seat and had obviously been holding communication with his neighbor.
"Westby,"—Irving's voice was sharp,—"were you trying to get help at the last moment?"
"I was not." Westby's answer was prompt.
"Then don't delay any longer, please; go to the blackboard at once."
Westby moved to the blackboard on the side of the room—the one at right angles to that on which Irving and Scarborough were at work.
Irving finished his writing, dusted the chalk from his fingers, and returned to his seat. The boys before him were now bent industriously over their tablets; Scarborough, Westby, and Dennison were drawing figures on the blackboard, using the long pointers for rulers and making beautiful circles by means of chalk attached to pieces of string. A glance at Westby showed that youth apparently intent upon solving the problem assigned him and at work upon it intelligently. Irving began to feel serene; he proceeded to correct the algebra exercises of the Fourth Form, which he had received the hour before.
A sudden titter from some one down in front, hastily suppressed and transformed into a cough, caused him to look up. Morrill, with his mouth hidden behind his hand, was glancing off toward Westby, and Irving followed the direction of the glance.
Westby had completed his geometrical figures and was now engaged in labeling them with letters. But instead of employing the usual geometrical symbols A, B, C, and so on, he was skipping about through the alphabet, and Irving immediately perceived that he was not choosing letters at random. Irving observed that the initials of his own name, I, C, U, formed, as it were, the corner-stone of the geometrical edifice.
At that moment Westby coughed—an unnatural cough. And instantly a miracle happened; every single wooden eraser—there were half a dozen of them—leaped from its place on the shelf beneath the blackboard and tumbled clattering down the steps to the floor. At the same instant Westby flung up both arms, tottered on the topmost step, and succeeded in regaining his poise with apparently great difficulty.
The class giggled.
"Mr. Upton, sir! Mr. Upton, sir!" cried Westby excitedly. "Did you feel the earthquake? It was very noticeable on this side of the room. Do you think it's safe for us to stay indoors, sir? There may be another shock!"
"Westby," Irving's voice had a nervous thrill that for the moment quieted the laughter, "did you cause those erasers to be pulled down?"
"Did I cause them to be pulled down? I don't understand, sir. How could I, sir? Six of them all at once!"
"Bring me one of those erasers, please."
Westby stooped; there was a sound of snapping string. Then he came forward and presented the eraser.
"You tied string to all these erasers, did you?" Irving examined the fragment that still clung to the object. "And then arranged to have them pulled down?"
"You see how short that string is, sir; nobody could have reached it to pull it. Didn't you feel the earthquake, sir? Didn't you see how it almost threw me off my feet? Really, I don't believe it's quite safe to stay here—"
"You may be right; I shouldn't wonder at all if there was a second shock coming to you soon," said Irving, and the subdued chuckle that went round the class told him he had scored. "You may now demonstrate to the class the Theorem assigned you."
"Yes, sir." Westby turned and took up the pointer.
"We have here," he began, "the two triangles I C U and J A Y—with the angle I C U of the one equal to the angle J A Y of the other." The class tittered; Westby went on glibly, bending the lath-like pointer between his hands: "Let us now erect the angle K I D, equal to the angle I C U; then the angle K I D will also be equal to the angle J A Y—things equal to the same thing are equal to each other."
Westby stopped to turn a surprised, questioning look upon the snickering class.
"Yes, that will do for that demonstration," said Irving. He rose from his seat; his lips were trembling, and the laughter of the class ceased. "You may leave the room—for your insolence—at once!"
He had meant to be dignified and calm, but his anger had rushed to the surface, and his words came in a voice that suggested he was on the verge of tears.
"I beg your pardon, sir, but I don't think I quite understand," said Westby suavely.
"You understand well enough. I ask you to leave the room."
"I'm afraid, Mr. Upton, that my little pleasantries—usually considered harmless—do not commend themselves to you. But you hurt my feelings very much, sir, when you apply such a harsh word as insolence to my whimsical humor—"
"I'll hold no argument with you," cried Irving; in his excitement his voice rose thin and thrill. "Leave the room at once."
Westby laid the pointer and the chalk on the shelf, blew the dust from his fingers, and walked towards his seat. Irving took a step forward; his face was white.
"What do you mean!—What do you mean! I told you to leave the room."
Westby faced him with composure through which showed a sneer; for the first time the boy was displaying contempt; hitherto his attitude had been jocose and cajoling.
"I was going for my cap," he said, and his eyes flashed scornfully. Then, regardless of the master's look, he continued past the row of his classmates, took up his cap, and retraced his steps towards the door. Irving stood watching him, with lips compressed in a stern line; the line thinned even more when he saw Westby bestow on his friends a droll, drooping wink of the left eyelid.
And then, while all the class sat in silence, Westby did an audacious thing—a thing that set every one except Irving off into a joyous titter. He went out of the door doing the sailor's hornpipe,—right hand on stomach, left hand on back, left hand on stomach, right hand on back, and taking little skips as he alternated the position. And so, skipping merrily, he disappeared down the corridor.
Irving returned to his platform. His hands were trembling, and he felt weak. When he spoke, he hardly knew his own voice. But he struggled to control it, and said,—
"Scarborough, please go to the board and demonstrate your theorem."
There was no more disorder in class that day; in fact, after Westby's disappearance the boys were exceptionally well behaved. Slowly Irving recovered his composure, yet the ordeal left him feeling as if he wanted to shut himself up in his room and lie down. He knew that he had lost command of his temper; he regretted the manner in which he had stormed at Westby; but he thought nevertheless that the treatment had been effective and therefore not entirely to be deplored. The boys had thought him soft; he had shown them that he was not; and he determined that from this time forth he would bear down upon them hard. If by showing them amiability and kindliness he had failed to win their respect, he would now compel it by ferocity. He would henceforth show no quarter to any malefactor.
Walking up to his room, he fell in with Barclay, who was also returning from a class.
"What is the extreme penalty one can inflict on a boy who misbehaves?" he asked.
"For a single act?" asked Barclay.
"For one that's a climax of others—insolence, disobedience, disorder—all heaped into one."
Irving spoke hotly, and Barclay glanced at him with a sympathetic interest.
"Well," said Barclay, "three sheets and six marks off in decorum is about the limit. After that happens to a boy two or three times, the rector is likely to take a hand.—If you don't mind my saying it, though—in my opinion it's a mistake to start in by being extreme."
"In ordinary cases, perhaps." Irving's tone did not invite questioning, and he did not confide to Barclay what extraordinary case he had under consideration.
When he reached his room, he wrote out on a slip of paper, "Westby, insolence and disorder in class, three sheets," and laid the paper on his desk. Then he undertook to correct the exercises in geometry which had been the fruit of the Sixth Form's labors in the last hour; but after going through five or six of them, his mind wandered; it reverted uneasily to the thought of his future relations with those boys. He rose and paced about the room, and hardened his heart. He would be just as strict and stern and severe with them all as he possibly could be. When he had them well trained, he might attempt to win their liking—if that seemed any longer worth having! It did not seem so to him now; all he wanted to know now was that he had awakened in them respect and fear.
Respect and fear—could he have inspired those, by his excitable shriekings in the class room, by his lack of self-control in dormitory and at the dinner table, by his incompetence when confronted with a roast of beef! Each incident that recurred to him was of a kind to bring with it the sting of mortification; his cheeks tingled. He must at least learn how to perform the simple duties expected of a master; he could not afford to continue giving exhibitions of ignorance and incompetence.
Moved by this impulse, he descended to the kitchen—precincts which he had never before entered and in which his appearance created at first some consternation. The cook, however, was obliging; and when he had confessed himself the incapable one who had sent out the mutilated beef to be carved, she was most reassuring in her speech, and taking the cold remains of a similar cut from the ice chest, she gave him an object lesson. She demonstrated to him how he should begin the attack, how he might foil the bone that existed only to baffle, how slice after slice might fall beneath his sure and rapid slashes.
"I see," said Irving, taking the knife and fork from her and making some imaginary passes. "The fork so—the knife so. And you will always be sure to have a sharp carving knife for me—very sharp?"
The cook smiled and promised, and he extravagantly left her contemplating a dollar bill.
Shortly after he had returned to his room the bell on the Study building rang, announcing the end of the morning session. There was half an hour before luncheon; soon the boys came tramping up the stairs and past Irving's closed door. Soon also a racketing began in the corridors; Irving suspected an intention to bait him still further; it was probably Westby once again. He waited until the noise became too great to be ignored—shouting and battering and scuffling; then he went forth to quell it.
To his surprise Westby was not engaged in the disturbance—was, in fact, not visible. Collingwood, with his back turned, was in the act of hurling a football to the farther end of the corridor, where Scarborough and Morrill and Dennison were gathered. The forward pass was new in football this year, and although the playing season had not yet begun, Irving had already seen fellows practicing for it, in front of the Study and behind the dormitory. Collingwood, he knew, was captain of the school football eleven, and naturally had all the latest developments of the game, such as the forward pass, very much on his mind. Still that was no excuse for playing football in the corridor.
Morrill had caught the ball, and as Irving approached, undertook to return it. But it ricochetted against the wall and bounced down at Collingwood's feet. Collingwood seized it and was poising it in his hand for another throw when Irving spoke behind him—sharply, for he was mindful of his resolve to be severe:—
"No more of that, Collingwood."
The boy turned eagerly and said,—
"Oh, Mr. Upton, I'm just getting on to how to do it. Here, let me show you. You take it this way, along the lacings—the trouble is, my hand's not quite long enough to get a good grip—and then you take it like this—"
"Yes," said Irving coldly; he had an idea that Collingwood had adopted Westby's method and was engaged in chaffing him. "You needn't show me."
And he turned abruptly and went into his room, closing the door behind him.
Collingwood stood, looking round over his shoulder after Irving and holding the ball out in the arrested attitude of one about to throw. On his face was an expression of utter amazement, which rapidly gave place to indignation. Collingwood had a temper, and sometimes—even when he was not on the football field—it flared up.
"Of all the chumps!" he muttered; and he turned, and poising the ball again, flung it with all his strength at the master's door. It went straight to the mark, crashed against the upper panel with a tremendous bang, and rebounded to Collingwood's feet.
Irving opened the door and came out with a leap.
"Collingwood," he cried, and his voice was quivering as it had quivered that morning in class, "did you throw that ball?"
"I did," said Collingwood.
"Very well. I shall report you. I will have no more of this insolence."
He swung round and shut himself again in his room. The fellows at the other end of the corridor had stood aghast; now they came hurrying up. Collingwood was laughing.
"Kiddy's getting to be a regular lion," he said, and when Morrill and Dennison were for expressing their indignation, he only laughed the more.
It was not very pleasant for Irving at luncheon. Westby gave him an amused glance when he came in—more amused than hostile—and Irving preserved his dignity by returning an unflinching look. Westby made no further overtures for a while; the other boys chattered among themselves, about football and tennis, and Irving sat silent at the head of the table. At last, however, Westby turned to him.
"Mr. Upton," said Westby deferentially, "how would you explain this? There's a dog, and he must be doing one of two things; either he's running or he's not running. If he's not doing the one, he is doing the other, isn't he?"
"I suppose so," said Irving.
"Well, he's not running. Therefore—he is running. How do you explain that, Mr. Upton?"
Irving smiled feebly; the other boys were thinking it over with puzzled faces.
"That's an old quibble," said Irving. "The alternative for running is not running. Therefore when he's not running—he's not running."
"I don't see that that explains it," answered Westby. "That's just making a statement—but it isn't logic."
"He's not running is the negative of he's running; he's not not-running is the negative of he's not running—"
"Then," said Westby, "how fast must a dog travel that is not not-running to catch a dog that is not exactly running but only perhaps?"
The boys laughed; Irving retorted, "That's a problem that you might work out on the blackboard sometime."