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Chapter Twenty-Eight. Jennings and Darbishire give the alarm.

Antony Buckeridge 
Jennings and His Friends

Book Content

Chapter Twenty-Eight.  Jennings and Darbishire give the alarm.

Mr Wilkins went out of Dormitory 6 and hurried to the school yard. In the hall he met Mr Carter.
"I say, Carter, something strange is going on in the school yard," said Mr Wilkins. "Somebody is tapping on Dormitory 6 window."
Mr Carter smiled.
"Nonsense, Wilkins. I can't believe it. Nobody could tap on Dormitory 6 window from the ground without a ladder."
"All right, all right. I'm just telling you what happened. I'm not trying to explain it," said Mr Wilkins. "Maybe he used a ladder."
"You think that suddenly during the night somebody had a wish to clean windows. Well, really, Wilkins!"
"Of course not. I think that somebody was in the school yard. Somebody who disappeared when I looked out of the window. It could be a burglar."
"I don't think so," said Mr Carter. "Why did a burglar have to choose that strange time and place."
But Mr Wilkins was sure that there was somebody in the school yard.
"I didn't say there was a burglar. I said there could be," he answered coldly. "And I must find out who it was."
"All right. I'll come with you," said Mr Carter with a smile.
The two teachers went out and closed the door behind them. It was cold and the moon was shining brightly.
For some minutes they walked about the school yard, but, of course, they did not find anybody.
"I think you frightened him away when you put your head out of the window," said Mr Carter and smiled again.
"You don't think there was a burglar, do you?" Mr Wilkins got angry. "I see you don't believe me."
"I certainly think that you were mistaken. But I think you were right to come out and see. And as there is nobody in the yard, let's go back and have our supper."
But when they came up to the door they found that neither of them had a key. Mr Wilkins rang the bell. But there was no answer. Now they had to wait in the cool November evening. Half a minute later Mr Wilkins rang the bell again. After that he knocked and rang the bell again and again, but nobody came to answer. It was not surprising, because everybody was at that time having supper in the dining hall at the far end of the building.
Suddenly Mr Wilkins said, "Never mind, Carter. I've now remembered that I saw an open window. It's a window in Classroom 2 which is on the ground floor. So you stay here, and I'll climb in and open the door for you."
With these words Mr Wilkins hurried down the steps, turned round the corner of the building and came up to the window of Classroom 2. It was really open, and a moment later he was on the window-ledge, his head in the dark room and his feet still hanging over the window-ledge.
If only he had known with what interest two boys watched him from the window of Dormitory 4!
* * *
Fifteen minutes earlier Jennings had been greatly surprised to see Mr Wilkins put his head out of the window of Dormitory 6. He was so surprised that he nearly dropped the telephone on Mr Wilkins' head. Jennings quickly shut the window.
"Old Wilkie is still there," he whispered to Darbishire.
"Are you sure?" his friend asked him.
"Of course I'm sure. I nearly dropped the telephone on his head when he put it out of the window."
"You don't think he saw you, do you?" "Oh, no, he didn't see me. But let's wait some minutes and give him time to leave the room before we try again."
The dormitory floor was cold and the two boys climbed back into bed.
"What's the matter?" whispered Temple.
"Yes, what has happened?" whispered Venables.
"Everything is all right," said Jennings.
When Darbishire climbed back into his warm bed his only wish was not to get out of it and not to stand in front of an open window.
Not so Jennings! "We must think about our messages now, while we are waiting," he said.
"I don't think it is very important," answered Darbishire. "Well, you may ask them why Old Wilkie didn't go to have his supper, but was looking at the moon."
"Yes, but what are we going to talk about after that?" asked Jennings. "We've just arrived on Mars, you see, and we have to tell them all about it."
"Well, why not say, 'We've just arrived and are having a good time!'"
"We can't say that. You are not sending a postcard home, are you?"
"Well, think about something better, then."
"That's what I'm trying to do," said Jennings. "You can't understand that we are space pilots, and we must say something important to the world which is waiting for our messages."
They were talking about their messages for some time. At last Jennings said:
"I think Old Wilkie has gone to have his supper. So I'll try again." He got out of bed and took his home-made telephone. "Wake up, Darbi! Don't sleep! Come and help me!"
Darbishire got out of bed, put on his slippers ("It's very cold on Mars," he said to himself) and slowly went to the window to help his friend.
At that moment Jennings looked through the window and saw... no, he could not believe his eyes. In the school yard he saw a man climbing through the window of Classroom 2.
"Look, Darbi, look!" he exclaimed.
Darbishire looked out.
"Who is it?" he whispered.
"I can't see. Can you?"
"No, I can't," answered Darbishire. "Do you think it's a burglar?"
"I think it is. Who climbs through the window at this time of night?"
"What shall we do then?"
"We'll go and tell Old Wilkie. All the teachers are having supper now. So I'm sure they didn't hear anything."
From this conversation the other boys of Dormitory 4 understood that something important was happening. They jumped out of their beds and ran to the window. When they were near the window they saw only a pair of feet disappearing over the window-ledge of Classroom 2.
The boys were surprised. They forgot about the home-made telephone at once, because here was an adventure which doesn't often happen in a boarding school.
Jennings spoke the first. "Darbi and I will go and give the alarm. You, other boys, stay here and watch the school yard," he said.
"Yes, but if..." began Darbishire.
"Oh, come on, Darbi! Don't stand there! We'll go straight down to the dining hall and tell one of the teachers."
"Yes, but - wait a minute, I... I've dropped my spectacles."
"You don't need your spectacles. Follow me and do as I say."
Jennings took Darbishire by the hand and they ran to the dining hall.


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