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Chapter Seven. Vain Attempts.

Antony Buckeridge 
Jennings and His Friends

Book Content

Chapter Seven.  Vain Attempts.

Mr Wilkins was reading a morning newspaper when he heard the first knock at his door. He called: "Come in!" Nobody came.
Mr Wilkins went to the door, opened it, and saw Darbishire who was running along the corridor.
"Darbishire!" he shouted.
At that moment one of Derbyshire's house-shoes came off and he stopped.
"Yes, sir?"
"What are you doing?"
"I'm putting on my house-shoe."
"I can see that. This doesn't explain why you knocked at my door and then ran along the corridor. Do you want to see me?"
"No, sir."
"Then what do you want?"
Darbishire thought. Of course, he did not want to see anybody in Mr Wilkins' room. But he could not say it. What did he want then? There must be something that he could want.
"I want a stamp, sir. I want to write a letter to me grandmother."
"If you wanted a stamp why didn't you ask for it?" asked Mr Wilkins.
He went into his room and towards his desk. Darbishire stopped at the door and looked at the fireplace. Mr Wilkins took a stamp from the desk and gave it to Darbishire. Darbishire thanked him and left the room.
He often visited Mr Wilkins' room that day. But every time Mr Wilkins was in his room. He asked for another stamp, then another and another. During the day Mr Wilkins gave him four stamps. Another time he asked Mr Wilkins for a ruler, then for an eraser. Before dinner he asked Mr Wilkins for his autograph. After dinner he came to ask whether "Sir" could tell him what the time was. It was five o'clock, and Mr Wilkins decided to go for a walk: he was very tired of Derbyshire's visits.
"If that child comes to my room again he will be unlucky." Mr Wilkins said to himself as he was leaving his room.
Darbishire was unlucky. He was also very tired and decided not to go to Mr Wilkins' room any more. He went to the common room and saw Jennings there. Jennings was gathering the news for the first issue of the Form Three Times.
"Where have you been, Darbi?" his friend asked. "Every break when I wanted your help you had gone somewhere."
"I wanted to get that parcel back," said Darbishire.
"Did you get it back?"
"No, I didn't. every time I went to Old Wilkie's room he was there."
"If we can't get that parcel back soon he will not be able to sit in his room. Soon he'll begin to wonder what's going on in his room."
"Let's better think out a plan how we can get the parcel back," said Darbishire.
"Let's." Jennings thought and then said, "We'll have a football game on Wednesday. Old Wilkie will be the referee. At the end of the game I'll hurry to his room, and you'll ask Old Wilkie some questions about the game and keep him on the field. All right?"
"All right," said Darbishire, he liked the plan.
Then they began to print the Form three Times. For a while they put the rubber letters in the printing block. After three quarters of an hour passed they were already tired. They began to understand that to print a short letter was one thing, and to print a big wall newspaper was another.
"We shall never finish it," said Jennings. We must print twelve pages for the newspaper. After three quarters of an hour we are only on the second line of page one. It'll take us..." he thought, "ninety-six weeks to print twelve pages."
"I don't want to say anything bad about your Aunt Angela's present, but if we had had a typewriter..."
"We don't know how to type and we haven't a typewrite."
"No, but Mr Carter has," said Jennings quickly.
"I don't think Mr Carter will let us borrow his typewriter."
"I don't think so either. But I think he may type the newspaper for us."
Mr Carter was correcting mistakes in his pupils' exercise-books when he heard a knock at his door.
"Come in!" he called.
Jennings and Darbishire came into Mr Carter's room.
"Well, boys, what can I do for you?" asked Mr Carter.
"Well, sir, Darbishire and me would like you to do us a favour, sir," Jennings began.
"No, Darbishire and I would like you to do us a favour, Jennings," he corrected.
Jennings looked at Mr Carter in surprise.
"Did you, sir? Darbishire never told me," said Jennings.
"I mean, Jennings, that you must say 'Darbishire and I', not 'Darbishire and me'."
"Yes, sir. Well, will you do Darbishire and I a favour, please, sir?"
"This time, Jennings, it's correct to say 'Darbishire and me'."
"All right, sir. Darbishire and I or me are writing a wall newspaper and we wondered if you could lend us your typewriter to type the newspaper."
"I don't think I can lend you me typewriter. It's not a toy, you know."
"I know, sir. It's not a toy, sir," said Jennings. "We think so, too. Excuse me, sir."
But the boys were not going to leave the room. They stood and hoped. Mr Carter understood what that hope meant.
"Of course," he said, "I may type it for you. But let me see what you are going to write in your newspaper."
Jennings gave Mr Carter the exercise book. Mr Carter read it slowly, then said, "Very well. I'll type it for you. Is this all?"
"No, sir. We want to organize one or two competitions," answered Darbishire, "but we haven't decided yet what they are going to be."
"Why not have a handwriting competition," said Mr Carter.
"Very good, sir," said Darbishire. "That will be one competition. And for the second competition we can have... what?"
Mr Carter spoke again.
"Why not ask your readers to write a poem or something like that."
"Wonderful!" said Jennings. "And we can give the winners big cakes."
"But we haven't any big cakes," said Darbishire.
"I know, but if I ask my Aunt Angela to send me two big cakes for the competition she will certainly do it."


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