At twelve he went and awoke Wildney.
“I don’t feel very sleepy. Shall I sit with you for your hour, Charlie?”
“Oh, do! I should like it of all things. But douse the glim there; we shan’t want it, and it might give the alarm.”
So Eric went and sat by his dangerous little friend, and they talked in low voices until they heard the great school clock strike one. They then woke Pietrie, and Eric went off to bed again.
At three Graham awoke him, and dressing hastily, he joined the others in the lavatory.
“Now, I’m going to get the key,” said Wildney, “and mean to have a stomach-ache for the purpose.”
Laughing quietly he went up to the door of Mr. Harley’s bed-room, which opened out of the lavatory, and knocked.
No answer. He knocked a little louder. Still no answer. Louder still.
“Bother the fellow,” said Wildney; “he sleeps like a grampus. Won’t one of you try to wake him?”
“No,” said Graham; “’taint dignified for fifth-form boys to have stomach-aches.”
“Well, I must try again.” But it seemed no use knocking, and Wildney at last, in a fit of impatience, thumped a regular tattoo on the bed-room door.
“Who’s there?” said the startled voice of Mr. Harley.
“Only me, sir!” answered Wildney, in a mild and innocent way.
“What do you want?”
“Please, sir, I want the key of the lavatory. I’m indisposed,” said Wildney again, in a tone of such disciplined suavity, that the others shook with laughing.
Mr. Harley opened the door about an inch, and peered about suspiciously.
“Oh, well, you must go and awake Mr. Rose. I don’t happen to have the key to-night.” And so saying, he shut the door.
“Phew! Here’s a go!” said Wildney, recovering immediately. “It’ll never do to awake old Rose. He’d smell a rat in no time.”
“I have it,” said Pietrie. “I’ve got an old nail, with which I believe I can open the lock quite simply. Let’s try.”
“Quietly and quick, then,” said Eric.
In ten minutes he had silently shot back the lock with the old nail, and the boys were on the landing. They carried their shoes in their hands, ran noiselessly down stairs, and went to the same window at which Eric and Wildney had got out before. Wildney had taken care beforehand to break the pane and move away the glass, so they had only to loosen the bar and slip through one by one.
It was cold and very dark, and as on the March morning they stood out in the playground, all four would rather have been safe and harmlessly in bed. But the novelty and the excitement of the enterprise bore them up, and they started off quickly for the house at which Mr. Gordon and his pupils lived, which was about half a mile from the school. They went arm in arm to assure each other a little, for at first in their fright they were inclined to take every post and tree for a man in ambush, and to hear a recalling voice in every sound of wind and wave.