groups‎ > ‎

Chapter Thirty-Eight. Jennings gets back his exercise-book.

Chapter Thirty-Eight.  Jennings gets back his exercise-book.

Mr Wilkins went out of his room and in the corridor he met Mr Carter.
"I say, come and listen to this!" Mr Wilkins said. "For many weeks that boy, Jennings, has been driving me out of my mind with his awful playing of the Minuet in G.
"I'm not surprised," answered Mr Carter. "I know what Hind thinks about Jennings' playing."
"Well, but we are wrong. The boy's playing is wonderful. Listen to how he is playing now."
Mr Carter listened for some moments and then said, "You are not trying to tell me that that's Jennings playing the piano?"
"Wonderful, isn't it?"
"It's more than wonderful - it's impossible," said Mr Carter.
"You see. Carter, I've often noticed how some of these boys quite suddenly..."
And then, quite suddenly, an awful thing happened. The needle stuck in a worn groove and began to repeat the same notes again and again.
Of course, Darbishire had to watch the record-player, but it so happened that at that moment he was on the far side of the room looking out of the window. He .ran to the record-player and released the needle from the groove... But it was too late.
"What-what... It's impossible!" exclaimed Mr Wilkins. "If that silly little boy thinks he can sit there, listening to records when he must practise..."
He did not finish the sentence, but hurried to the music room and opened the door. "Jennings!" he shouted. "Why are you -?"
And then he stopped because he didn't see Jennings in the room. He saw Darbishire who was trying to hide himself behind the cupboard.
"Darbishire! What are you doing in here?"
Mr Wilkins shouted.
"I was just-I was just listening to the music," answered Darbishire. •
"Oh, were you? And where's Jennings?"
Darbishire looked round the room as if trying to find his friend.
"He... he.. he is not here," he had to say.
"I can see that, you silly little boy! I want to know where he's gone."
"He had to go to.. he had to go to..."
"To the staff room?"
Darbishire did not answer, but Mr Wilkins knew that he was right.
"I see," said Mr Wilkins. "Some funny business is going on," he decided. "And that nonsense about autograph books last night. There must be something in it."
Mr Wilkins realized that the boys wanted to visit the staff room when he was not there. Why they wanted to do so Mr Wilkins did not know... But he was going to find out!
He told Darbishire to go back to his dormitory and told Mr Carter about his suspicions.
"Jennings, as usual!" he said angrily. "He's put the record on to make me believe that he is in the room playing the piano."
"Yes, I think so, too," said Mr Carter. "Are you going to find out what is going on?"
"I certainly am!" said Mr Wilkins and hurried along the corridor to the staff room.
* * *
When Jennings came into the staff room he hurried to the table where he expected to find Form Three's geography exercise-books. But there were no geography exercise-books on the table. He began to look for them, and it took him two or three minutes to find them under a newspaper on the floor behind an arm-chair. It took him another minute to find his exercise-book. And when he put his hand into the pocket to take out an eraser, he heard footsteps in the corridor. To run away was impossible. "Maybe the footsteps will pass," he thought. "Maybe!..."
But at that moment the door opened and Mr Wilkins hurried into the staff room.
"Jennings! So I thought!" exclaimed Mr Wilkins. "What are you doing in here?"
"Nothing, really, sir. I just wanted my geography exercise-book back before you've corrected the test, sir."
"And I told you yesterday that you couldn't have it."
"I know, sir. Only I made a - a - a mistake, sir. You see, I wasn't in the classroom when you collected the exercise-books, and Bromwich took my exercise-book out of my desk before I -"
"All right, that's enough. Give the exercise-, book to me. I'll see this mistake myself," said
Mr Wilkins and began to turn over the pages of Jennings' geography exercise-book.
Jennings did not dare to look at Mr Wilkins. Now he would see his portrait... But he didn't!
Mr Wilkins turned over the last page and gave the exercise-book back to Jennings.
"That isn't the right exercise-book," he said. "There is no geography test in it."
For a moment Jennings did not know what to say. Then he looked at the exercise-book and saw that it was his old geography exercise-book. "When Bromwich was looking for it in my desk," Jennings thought, "he took the first geography exercise-book that he saw. So the exercise-book with the test must still be in my desk. And that is the exercise-book in which I have drawn the caricature of Old Wilkie!"
Jennings was happy!
"Yes, sir, this is my old exercise-book. Bromwich collected it by mistake. May I go and get the exercise-book in which I. did the test, sir?"
"Yes, if you want me to correct it," said Mr Wilkins.
Mr Wilkins was surprised. "Boys are strange creatures," he thought. "Why couldn't this silly little boy say that Bromwich had taken the wrong exercise-book? Why did he do all those things with autograph books and a record-player? To get back his old exercise-book and put the new one in its place? No, I can't understand these silly creatures."
"Go and get it at once!" said Mr Wilkins. "And I only hope that you are going to keep your new exercise-book more tidily than your old one."
"Yes, sir, you may be sure that it will be very clean," said Jennings and his fingers closed on the eraser in his trouser pocket when he left the staff room.
Comments