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Chapter Seventeen. Jennings finds his glove.

Antony Buckeridge 
Jennings and His Friends

Book Content

Chapter Seventeen.  Jennings finds his glove.

When the search-party came to the hill Mr Wilkins cried, "Keep together, you boys or you'll lose each other. And if any of you thinks that he hears something... Be quiet Venables, when I'm talking."
"I was quiet, sir."
"Well, don't be quiet so loudly. It's very difficult to keep together in the dark with-out... Now, where's Mr Carter?"
"He is coming behind us. I heard his whistle a moment ago," said a voice in the dark-ness.
"Good! I'll give an answering whistle," said Mr Wilkins. "But... I think I've left my whistle at school."
"I can give you my whistle, sir," said an-other voice. "But it's a toy whistle - my aunt gave it to me last Christmas."
"Never mind who gave it to you, if it works," said Mr Wilkins and took the whistle.
At this time Mr Wilkins heard Mr Carter's three long whistles. Mr Wilkins decided to answer. He put the toy whistle to his lips and blew with all his strength. The boys around Mr Wilkins heard a thin peep-peep and laughed loudly.
"Be quiet and listen to me," Mr Wilkins said angrily. "When we come to the top of this hill, half of you will go with Mr Carter to Haltpottle Whistle (he still could not remember the name) and the other half will come with me to... Who's that boy walking there? I've asked you to stand still."
"I think it's Atkinson, sir," said Temple.
But it wasn't Atkinson. It was Darbishire who was joining the search-party at that moment.
"No, it's not me; I'm here, sir," Atkinson's voice said from the darkness.
Mr Wilkins tried to see who it was, but could not.
"I can't see who is here and who isn't. Stand still! I'm going to count you. "When he counted he pointed to each boy." One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven!"
Eleven!
"It can't be eleven. We had only ten when we left the school yard," thought Mr Wilkins.
Mr Carter arrived at the moment. Jennings followed him, and joined the search-party as Mr Wilkins turned to Mr Carter for help.
"I can't do anything with these boys, Carter! I'm trying to count them and they don't stand still."
"Another boy was lost?" asked Mr Carter.
"I don't think so," answered Mr Wilkins.
"The last time I counted there were eleven of them. I'm going to count again. Stand still, please".
Mr Wilkins began to count again. "One, two, three, four, five... I don't know whether I counted that boy over there. Is it you, Bromwich?"
"I don't know, sir; I can't see," answered Bromwich.
"You don't have to see, Bromo. You know if it's you, don't you?" said Venables.
"Oh yes, this is me, but I don't know whether you've counted me, sir," Bromwich explained.
Mr Wilkins began to count again.
"One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve!"
Twelve!
Well, certainly somebody has moved twice, or two boys have moved once," thought Mr Wilkins. "But as there are now more boys I'm sure no boy is lost, and we can continue to look for Jennings and Darbishire."
The search-party moved slowly up the hill. They were looking for Jennings and Darbishire.
That was not very easy because it was very dark. But they did not look behind them. If they had they could have seen the boys that they were looking for.
At the top of the hill they all stopped.
"I think this is the end of the path, Carter," said Mr Wilkins. "Now I wonder what lies over there."
"It's the way back to Pottlewhistle Halt, sir," said Jennings.
"Don't interrupt, boy, when I'm talking to Mr Carter, I've had enough of Whistlehalt Pott for one evening, and..."
Mr Wilkins stopped. He had recognized the voice from the darkness. He was sure
it was... But how could it be?
"Which boy spoke a moment ago?" he asked loudly.
"I did, sir," answered seven boys who were talking about how far cats could see in the dark.
"No, no, no - not you, boys! Somebody else I was sure..." He turned again to Mr Carter. "I say, Carter, I'm hearing things. Somebody spoke a minute ago and I'm sure
I was Jennings."
A loud shout came from the darkness.
"Qh, sir! Quick, sir! Come here, sir,- I've found something!"
"Who's that?"
"It's me, sir,-Temple. I've found a glove, sir."
At once somebody switched on his torch and Temple read, "Jennings;"
"I've found Jennings' glove!" he shouted.
"Wonderful!" exclaimed the owner of the glove.
But nobody heard him because all the boys were very happy that Temple had found Jennings' glove. Now they knew that they were on the right track.
Mr Wilkins lost no time and said, "Let's shout together. Now! One, two, three..."
"JENNINGS!" shouted everybody. "
"Yes, sir?" said Jennings quickly. He was standing behind Mr Wilkins who was so surprised that he jumped up in the air.
"I... I... I... Who spoke? Who said 'Yes, sir'?"
'"Me, sir,- Jennings. I think you were calling me sir "
"But. but..." Mr Wilkins could hardly speak. "You are standing here in the middle of us!"
"Yes, sir. I wondered why you were shouting so loudly, sir."
For some time Mr Wilkins' lips continued to move, but nobody could hear what he was saying. All the boys were surprised too. They gathered round Jennings.
"I say, it's not really you, is it, Jen?" exclaimed Atkinson.
"Of course it's me. And Darbi is somewhere here, too. We've been here for some time"
"Why didn't you say so before?" asked Temple.
"Well, nobody asked me before," explained Jennings.
"If you want to know what I think, you're not supposed to be here because you are lost, and we are looking for you," said Bromwich.
Mr Carter called Jennings and Darbishire, and they told him their story.
"Well, I'm happy we've found you at last," said Mr Carter.
"I'm happy too, sir, because I've found my glove. Matron is very angry when I lose my things."
"I... I... Really, Carter, it's too much!" exclaimed Mr Wilkins. "People may think that we have nothing better to do all night than go in the dark..."
"Never mind, Wilkins; we can go back home now," said Mr Carter.
"Yes, yes, yes, I know. Carter, but, listen, we were looking for two silly little boys who were looking for a silly little glove!"
"It's a nice glove," Jennings said to himself and put it on.


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