Presently the sound of a piano was heard from the open windows of a room on the first floor.
“Great Scott!” said Falloden irritably to Meyrick, with whom he was walking arm in arm, “what a noise that fellow Radowitz makes! Why should we have to listen to him? He behaves as though the whole college belonged to him. We can’t hear ourselves speak.”
“Treat him like a barrel-organ and remove him!” said Meyrick, laughing. He was a light-hearted, easy-going youth, a “fresher” in his first summer term, devoted to Falloden, whose physical and intellectual powers seemed to him amazing.
“Bombard him first!” said Falloden. “Who’s got some soda-water bottles?” And he beckoned imperiously to a neighbouring group of men,—“bloods”—always ready to follow him in a “rag,” and heroes together with him of a couple of famous bonfires, in Falloden’s first year.
They came up, eager for any mischief, the summer weather in their veins like wine. They stood round Falloden laughing and chaffing, till finally three of them disappeared at his bidding. They came rushing back, from various staircases, laden with soda-water bottles.
Then Falloden, with two henchmen, placed himself under Radowitz’s windows, and summoned the offender in a stentorian voice:
“Radowitz! stop that noise!”
No answer—except that Radowitz in discoursing some “music of the future,” and quite unaware of the shout from below, pounded and tormented the piano more than ever. The waves of crashing sound seemed to fill the quadrangle.
“We’ll summon him thrice!” said Falloden. “Then—fire!”
But Radowitz remained deaf, and the assailant below gave the order. Three strong right arms below discharged three soda-water bottles, which went through the open window.
“My goody!” said Meyrick, “I hope he’s well out of the way!” There was a sound of breaking glass. Then Radowitz, furious, appeared at his window, his golden hair more halolike than ever in the bright sun.
“What are you doing, you idiots?”
“Stop that noise, Radowitz!” shouted Falloden. “It annoys us!”
“Can’t help it. It pleases me,” said Radowitz shortly, proceeding to close the window. But he had scarcely done so, when Falloden launched another bottle, which went smash through the window and broke it. The glass fell out into the quadrangle, raising all the echoes. The rioters below held their laughing breaths.
“I say, what about the dons?” said one.
“Keep a lookout!” said another.
But meanwhile Radowitz had thrown up the injured window, and crimson with rage he leaned far out and flung half a broken bottle at the group below. All heads ducked, but the ragged missile only just missed Meyrick’s curly poll.
“Not pretty that!—not pretty at all!” said Falloden coolly. “Might really have done some mischief. We’ll avenge you, Meyrick. Follow me, you fellows!”