THE REFORMATION OF STUDY SIXTEEN
P. G. Wodehouse
"What they want, of course," said Clowes, "is exercise."
"They get out of that with their beastly doctor's certificates,"
said Trevor. "That's the worst of this place. Any slacker who wants to
shirk games goes to some rotten doctor in the holidays, swears he's got a weak
heart or something, and you can't get at him. You have to sit and look on while
he lounges about doing nothing, when he might be playing for the house. I bet
"I don't wonder, considering the amount they eat and the little
exercise they take. I should say there was about twice as much of
Study sixteen was under discussion, not for the first time.
It was his aim to make Donaldson's the keenest and most efficient house at
Wrykyn, and in this he had succeeded to a great
extent. They had won the cricket cup, and were favourites
for the football cup. Everyone in Donaldson's was keen except
"It's a rummy thing about that study," said Clowes, "it's always been like that. I believe anybody who's a slacker or a bad lot goes there naturally; wouldn't be happy anywhere else. Do you remember, when we first came to the house, Blencoe and Jones had it? They got sacked at the end of my first term. After that it was Grant and Pollock. They didn't get sacked, but they ought to have been. Now it's these two. Let's hope they'll keep up the tradition and get turfed out at their earliest convenience!"
"It makes me so sick," said Trevor poking the fire viciously, "to think of two heavy chaps like that being wasted. They might make all the difference to the House second. We want weight in the scrum."
In addition to the inter-house challenge cup there was a cup to be competed for by the second fifteens of the houses. Donaldson's had a good chance of this, but were handicapped by a small pack of forwards. Seymour's, their only remaining rival, were big and weighty. Clowes got up and stretched himself.
"Well," he said, "I don't think you'll get much help from
"I'm afraid I've only got one, and I shall be wanting that. You can have it if you'll give it up at half-past nine sharp."
"No, it's all right, thanks. I'll borrow one from
Clowes went off to
"Hullo," said Clowes, as he entered
He moved it to and fro by way of illustration.
It was very rickety indeed. It was, in fact, almost off its hinges.
"I'm afraid it is a little," assented
"Running against it!" said Clowes. "What did you do?"
"I — er — well, the fact is, I didn't do anything. You see it was an accident. They told me themselves that it was."
"It only happened once then? Must have taken a good strong chap to rush a door almost off its hinges at one shot."
"No. They stumbled against it rather often."
"Stumbled is good," said Clowes. "I suppose they didn't say how they came to stumble?"
"Oh, yes, they did. They tripped."
"And you mean to say you believed that?"
"I couldn't very well doubt their word," expostulated
Clowes smiled pityingly.
"I didn't want to hurt their feelings,"
Clowes smiled again.
"Who are the sensitive trippers?" he asked.
"Well, l don't know that I ought to say, but
I suppose it will be all right. They were Davies and
"So I should have thought," said Clowes. "How do you find that sort of thing affects your work?"
"Well, the fact is," said
"So should I. I think you'd get on better if you didn't study
"Oh, certainly, do," said
"Not bad. I prefer Charlie's Aunt myself. Matter of taste, though. Thanks. I'll return it before I go to bed."
And he went back to his own study.
It was in the afternoons, after school, that
On the afternoon following Clowes's conversation
Besides, it was Davies's turn to pay; and to go and have a meal at his own expense would have been so much dead loss.
After wandering up and down the passage a few times and reading all the
notices on the house notice-board, it occurred to him that the half hour before
the return of Davies might be well spent by ragging
He collected half-a-dozen football boots from the senior day-room. The
rule of the house being that football boots were not to be brought into that
room, there was always a generous supply there. Then he lounged off to
He was stooping to pick up another missile, when the door opened. It was
only when the second boot got home on the shin of the person who stood in the
doorway, that he recognised in that person not
And, indeed, the situation was about as unpleasant as it could be. Even in
moments of calm Trevor was a cause of uneasiness to
"Oh, I say, sorry," gasped
"What the blazes are you playing at?" asked Trevor.
"I'm frightfully sorry," said the demoralised
Bellwood; "I thought you were
"And why should you fling boots at
Bellwood, not feeling equal to the explanation that it was the mission in life of people like Dixon to have football boots thrown at them, remained silent; and Trevor, having summed up Bellwood's character in an address in which the words "skunk," "worm," and "disgrace to the house," occurred with what seemed, to the recipient of the terms, unnecessary frequency, dragged him into the study, produced a stick, and taught him in two minutes more about the folly of throwing football boots at other people's doors than he would have learned in a month of verbal tuition.
To judge from his remarks, Davies did not think highly of Mr Grey, his form-master. Mr Grey in his opinion, was a person of the manners-none-and-customs-horrid type. He had a jolly good mind, had Davies, to go to the Headmaster about it.
In a word, Davies was savage.
"Beastly shame," he agreed, as Davies paused for breath.
"It was jolly slow for me, too. I've been putting in the time having a
lark with old
"Has he, by Jove!" muttered Davies, "we'll soon see about that. Stand out of the way."
He retired a few paces, and charged towards the door.
He heard the scuffle of Davies's feet as he dashed down the passage. Then there was a crash as if the house had fallen. He peeped out. Davies's rush had taken the crazy door off its hinges, and he had gone with it into the study. He had a fleeting view of an infuriated Trevor springing from the ruins. Then, with Davies's howl of anguish ringing in his ears, he closed the door of study twelve softly, and sat down to wait till the storm should have passed by.
At the end of a couple of minutes somebody limped past the door. The remnants of Davies, he guessed. He gave him a few moments in which to settle down. Then he followed, and found him in a dishevelled state in their study.
"Hullo," he said artlessly, "what's up? What happened? Did you get the door open?"
Davies glared suspiciously, scenting sarcasm, but
"Where did you go to?" he enquired.
"Oh, I strolled off. What happened?"
Davies sat down, only to spring up again with a cry of pain.
"I took the beastly door clean off its hinges. I'd no idea the thing was so wobbly."
"Well, we ragged it a bit the other night, you remember. It was a
little rocky then. Was
"Trevor!" he exclaimed. "Are you sure?"
"Am I sure! Oh, you —!" words failed Davies.
"But what was he doing there?"
"That's what I should like to know."
It was really quite simple. Clowes had told the
head of the house of
Study sixteen continued to brood over its misfortunes.
"Beastly low trick changing studies like that," said Davies querulously.
This suspicion was quite unfounded.
"I tell you what," said Bellwood suddenly, "if they've
"We'll heave books at him," said Davies with enthusiasm.
And the punitive expedition started.
Trevor's study was in the next passage. They advanced stealthily to the
door and listened. Somebody coughed inside the room. That was
"Now," whispered Davies, "when I count three!"
"One, two, three."
He turned the handle sharply, and flung open the door. At the same moment
"Oh, I say!" cried
"Go on," shouted Davies from behind the door, as
This third attack was the last straw. The matter had become too serious for summary treatment. He must think out a punishment that would fit the crime.
It flashed upon him almost immediately.
"Look here," he said, "this is getting a bit too thick. You
two chaps think you can do just as you like in the house. You're going to find
that you can't. You're no good to Donaldson's. You shirk games. You do nothing
but eat like pigs and make bally nuisances of yourselves. So you can just
choose. I'm going out for a run in a few minutes. You can either come too, and
get into training and play for the house second against
"But," said Davies, "our doctor's certificates. We aren't allowed to play footer."
"Doctor's certificates! Rot! You'd better burn them. Well, are you coming for the run?"
"But we've no footer clothes," he said.
"You'd better borrow some, then. If you aren't back in this study, changed, by half-past five, you'll get beans. Now get out."
At ten minutes past five a tentative knock sounded on the door. Trevor opened it. There stood the owners of study sixteen garbed in borrowed football shirts and shorts.
Of the details of that run no record remains. The trio started off in a south-easterly direction, along the road which led to Little Poolbury. From this it may be deduced that the spin was not a short one. Whenever Trevor had chosen this direction for one of his training runs on previous occasions he had worked round through Little Poolbury to Much Wenham by road, then across difficult country (ploughed fields, brooks, and the like) to Burlingham, and then back to the school along the high road, the whole distance being between four and five miles. There is no reason for supposing him to have chosen another route on this occasion.
At any rate, as six struck from the college clock, a procession of three
turned the corner of the road which ran past the school.
Study sixteen was subdued that night, but ate an enormous tea, and looked ninety per cent fitter than it had done for years.
And in the last paragraph of the one hundred and eighteenth page of the
eleventh volume of the Wrykinian, you will
find these words to be written: "Inter-House Cup (second fifteens), Final.