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Chapter Thirty-Nine. Mr Wilkins is angry because he has lost his fountain-pen.

Antony Buckeridge 
Jennings and His Friends

Book Content

Chapter Thirty-Nine.  Mr Wilkins is angry because he has lost his fountain-pen.

Jennings went to the classroom, found the geography exercise-book with the test, rubbed out his masterpiece and gave the exercise-book to Mr Wilkins.
After that he could turn to more pleasant things such as the decorations for the Christmas party.
They had already made more paper chains than they needed, and it was more and more difficult to hide them. The boys remembered that Mr Carter had not allowed them to hang up the paper chains till the day of the party.
"We must do something about it," Jennings decided when he was going into the dining hall for breakfast.
When Darbishire saw him he ran up to him.
"What happened, Jen? Did you get your exercise-book back? Did Old Wilkie come in and catch you?" asked Darbishire.
"Yes, he did, but it didn't matter," answered Jennings.
"Didn't matter! But what-?"
"Bromo collected my old exercise-book by mistake - without the drawing."
"That's fine," said Darbishire. "I just didn't know what to do. You see, the needle stuck in a groove and Old Wilkie came in and -"
"Well, never mind," said Jennings. "I'm worrying about the decorations for the common room. I think we've made more paper chains than we need."
"It's a pity we have to stop making more decorations. I wanted to do a fringe round the lamp-shade in the common room."
"Well, do it, if you wanted to."
"I can't. I've looked into all the waste-paper baskets and there isn't any more paper anywhere."
As usual, Jennings could think of something useful. "You can use my old geography exercise-book for it," said Jennings, "the exercise-book that Old Wilkie has just given me back."
"You don't need it, do you?" asked Darbishire.
"No, I don't need it any more. So you can use it for something useful."
"A good idea!" Darbishire agreed.
It so happened that it was not a good idea, but Jennings could understand it only ten days later.
* * *
As the end of the term was coming nearer the teachers were busy writing reports, and the boys were busy packing their things to be ready to go home.
When Jennings was packing his things he suddenly remembered about an important thing that he must do.
"I've nearly forgotten," he said to Temple. "Old Wilkie hasn't given me back the penknife that he confiscated during the geography test."
"I think you have to go to the staff room now and ask him for the penknife," said Temple.
"I'll go after dinner," said Jennings. "I think he'll be in a good mood after dinner."
But Mr Wilkins was not in a good mood after dinner. And when Mr Carter came into the staff room after dinner to collect the teachers' reports he found Mr Wilkins looking for something.
"I haven't begun writing my reports, Carter," said Mr Wilkins. "I can't find my fountain-pen anywhere."
"You've chosen a bad moment to lose it. The Headmaster asked me to collect the reports and give them to him at once," said Mr Carter. "Are you sure you've looked properly?"
"Of course I've looked properly. I've looked everywhere. I can't think where it can be. I know I had it when I took some paper from the stationery cupboard yesterday morning, but where..."
There was a knock on the door. And when
Jennings came into the staff room Mr Wilkins was certainly not in a good mood.
"Well, what's the matter, Jennings? asked Mr Carter.
"Sir, please, sir, may I speak to Mr Wilkins?"
"I am not sure, Jennings," answered Mr Carter. "Mr Wilkins is very busy now. He is looking for his fountain-pen."
"Oh! Is it a red fountain-pen that he has lost, sir?"
Mr Wilkins turned to Jennings.
"Yes, it is!" he said. "have you seen it?"
"Oh, yes, I've seen it, sir."
"That's fine! Where is it then?"
"I don't know, sir," answered Jennings. "I only mean I've seen it - well, hundreds of times, in class and in your pocket, sir."
Mr Wilkins turned to the table again.
"But if you can't find it you can take mine," Jennings said quickly. "I shall be very happy to give it to you, sir."
"No, thank you, Jennings," answered Mr Wilkins.
"I was only trying to do you a favour, sir," said Jennings. "Because, you see, I hope you will do me a favour, too, sir."
"Can't you see that I've no time for favours?" said Mr Wilkins angrily. "Can't you see that I'm busy?"
Jennings decided to try again.
"It will not take you a minute, sir," he said. "You see, I wonder if you can give me back my penknife that you confiscated, sir."
Mr Wilkins frowned. He usually gave back the confiscated things at the end of the term. At the same time, he was certainly not going to give Jennings back his penknife when Jennings wanted it.
"Please, boy, I don't want to hear this nonsense about penknives when I've got more important things to think about."
"Excuse me, sir," said Jennings and left the staff room.
"Why can't Old Wilkie be decent to me?" Jennings thought as he closed the staff room door behind him. "Maybe he is not going to give me the penknife back at all. But by hook or by crook I must get it back."

* * *
"Excuse me, Wilkins," Mr Carter said when Jennings left the room, "but the Headmaster asked me to have a talk with you about tomorrow's party. He thinks it will be better if we start the party with a surprise."
"What surprise?" asked Mr Wilkins.
"Oh, nothing very special," answered Mr Carter, "he just thought that if you were to come in to tea dressed as Father Christmas -"
"What!" exclaimed Mr Wilkins. "Me! Father Christmas! Well, I - I..."
"I don't think it's difficult, Wilkins. I've done it myself many times," said Mr Carter. "We have a robe for Father Christmas, a beard..."
"Well, why can't you be Father Christmas if you like the idea? And you've done it many times before," said Mr Wilkins.
"I'll be busy organizing the party. And during tea I shall have to announce that an important visitor has arrived. Then you'll come in from the kitchen smiling," explained Mr Carter. "After that you'll cut the cake and give a piece to each boy."
Mr Wilkins was not happy about it. "And my reports?" he asked.
"You will not write your report during the party, even if you find your pen. And if you don't I'll give you mine. It's better than Jennings'!"
Mr Wilkins could not think of any more excuses
"All right," he said. "I'll play Father Christmas if you think that I have nothing better to do on the last day of the term."
* * *
When Jennings came up to the common room five minutes later, he was still trying to think of something that could make Mr Wilkins happy.
In the common room he found Darbishire drawing another Christmas card.
"Now I know what to do," said Jennings.
"What are you talking about?" asked Darbishire in surprise.
"You see, Old Wilkie is very angry today. He's got my penknife and doesn't want to give it back. So I wanted to think of something that could make him happy. And now I know what I'll do."
"What?"
"I'll make a Christmas card and send it to him. I'm sure he'll like it."
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