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Chapter Thirty-Two. Jennings' new post.

Antony Buckeridge 
Jennings and His Friends

Book Content

Chapter Thirty-Two.  Jennings' new post.

When Darbishire dropped Jennings' shoe with a roller-skate in the waste-paper basket he saw Mr Wilkins come into the classroom to begin the lesson.
"All right! Now we are going to draw a map which shows the rainfall in Australia," he said and sat down at the teacher's desk. "Open your books at page 57."
"Please, sir, I haven't got a pen," said Atkinson.
"You won't need a pen," answered I Mr Wilkins. "You'll need pencils, erasers and..." His last words reminded him of the last book and stationery inspection, and that, of course, reminded him of Jennings. When he thought about Jennings he remembered of his talk with Mr Carter after breakfast that morning. "All right," he thought, "if I promised Carter to give Jennings the last chance to do something good, I'll do it."
"Now, where's Jennings?" asked Mr Wilkins.
"Here, sir," said a voice by the window.
"Well, listen to me. I've had a talk with some teachers about your behaviour."
Form Three looked at Mr Wilkins. That was much more interesting than the rainfall in Australia.
"So I talked to Mr Carter and the Headmaster, and we decided to give you one last chance."
"Thank you, sir," said Jennings. "If I sit quietly and keep my feet together under the desk," Jennings said to himself, "everything will be all right."
"One last chance," repeated Mr Wilkins. "I'm going to create a new post for you. You will have to see that there is ink in he inkwells, that there is no paper on the floor, and that the blackboard is clean when a teacher comes in to begin a lesson."
"Yes, sir."
"And I expect you will do it all well."
"I'll try, sir," said Jennings. He liked his new post.
"All right!" Mr Wilkins looked at the blackboard and saw a list of French words on it. "You can start at once. Come up and clean the blackboard for me."
Jennings sighed. The blackboard swam before his eyes.
"Do you mean me, sir?" he said. "Shall I go and do it now, sir? This minute, do you mean?"
"Certainly. I want to use the blackboard," said Mr Wilkins. "Are you going to clean it after the lesson?"
"Yes, sir. May I do it after the lesson, sir, please?"
"But I want to draw a map of Australia now, and not after the lesson."
"Yes, sir. Only I..." Jennings sighed again. He must think of something at once. But he couldn't. "Well, sir,- you see, sir, I don't really want to leave my desk now, sir," he finished.
Mr Wilkins looked at him in surprise.
"What are you talking about, you silly little boy?" exclaimed Mr Wilkins. "I'm giving you a last chance to make up for your silly behaviour and you are sitting there and telling me that you don't want to leave your desk. Don't be funny, boy. Come up here when I tell you to!"
Slowly, Jennings stood up from his desk and limped between the desks. He was making a loud noise with his roller-skate on his way to the blackboard.
Mr Wilkins quickly stood up from his desk. His eyes opened wide.
"I-I-I... What - what - what, have you got on your foot, boy!" he cried.
Jennings looked down at his feet.
"This, sir?" he asked. "This is a - it's only a skate, sir."
"Only a skate!" shouted Mr Wilkins.' "Roller-skate in the classroom in the middle of a geography lesson!"
"No, no, sir. You see, Venables left the key in the tuck-box room, and..."
"I - I - I've never in my life seen such -nonsense! Jennings, again! Jennings, as Usual. And look at your other foot! Just look at it!
Jennings looked at it.
"Where is your shoe, boy? Where's your shoe?"
This question Jennings could not answer. But Darbishire could. "Please, sir, it's in the waste-paper basket," said Darbishire. Mr Wilkins looked at Darbishire. He could not speak.
"I'm sorry about the holes in my socks, sir," said Jennings "but they were..."
"This is too much!" exclaimed Mr Wilkins. "I choose for you a responsible post and you come on one roller-skate, with two holes in your socks and your shoe is in the wastepaper basket. No, this is too much! Now look at your behaviour this term. Smoke in the classroom! Window tapping! Burglars! And that is not enough! You come in a roller-skate into my class! This is too much! Look at yourself!"
Jennings could not look at himself, of course. But Mr Wilkins could. He looked at Jennings and saw that his eyes were moist. So Mr Wilkins decided that he had -said enough.
"Well, you really are a silly little boy, Jennings. And I think that the day will come when you learn to behave like a clever good boy," finished Mr Wilkins.
"I hope so, sir," said Jennings and went back to his desk.


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