“Look here, Bourne. Don’t know quite what it was that made me feel so cheap when you rushed to thank me for helping your mater. I felt very small.”
“If that’s so, you’ll feel cheaper and smaller when pater sees you. I’d have those hands cured first.”
“Bourne,” said Acton, very seriously, “I’ve been an arrant cad since I’ve come to St. Amory’s, and if those horses hadn’t bolted with your mater I should never have seen in you anything but a strait-laced prig, as I’ve all along thought you. I have, really. But that’s all changed now, and I’m going to dry up. I suppose you know you aren’t popular among the fellows generally?”
“Rather!” said Phil, gloomily.
“And you know that you owe all this to me?”
“Only too well, Acton.”
“Well, I’m going to make what amends I can. Have you any objection to my proposing you as captain to-night?”
“Acton, you are a brick,” said Phil, “but you’re too late now. I don’t stand a ghost of a chance against Mivart.”
“And I’ll get Mivart to second you. I can put all the fellows straight concerning you, and, by Jove, it’s the least I can do! I’ll make a clean breast of it to them all to-night before the election comes on.”
“Oh no, you won’t! I’d rather lose the captaincy than that. Besides, Aspinall asked me not to do anything bar refuse you your cap.”
“I’ve been an insufferable cad,” said Acton, with a hot blush, “but you shall be captain in any case.”
Acton saw Mivart, and whether he told him the whole history of his quarrel with Bourne or not, I cannot say; anyhow, Acton prevailed on him to second Phil. Mivart was a very good fellow, as I said before, and he thoroughly believed that Bourne would make a better captain than he himself would, so he said he would be delighted to back Phil up to any extent, since Phil was not now the jealous bounder he had so long been considered.
I myself, as the retiring captain, took the chair in the Sixth Form room to see the election of my successor through with all due solemnity. Acton got up, and though he was very nervous, he said out straight what he had resolved to say.
“I propose Phil Bourne for captain in place of Carr, and I’ll tell you why. I consider him the most suitable fellow to take our old captain’s place. Many of you may be—will be—surprised to hear me propose Bourne, for between us two, as you all know, there has been no love lost. But in all the dreary business I have been the utter cad and Bourne the other thing. He brought upon himself any amount of bad feeling because he would not give me my ‘footer’ cap. I did not deserve it”—some one here said “rot!” emphatically—“not because I wasn’t good enough a player, but for another reason, which, much as I should shy at telling you, I would tell, only Bourne begged me not to. It is his and Carr’s and another fellow’s secret as much as mine, so I feel I had better not say it. But, believe