A jollier going away for the Christmas holidays had not taken place for an age.
An old Amorian had done “something good” in India, which had obtained an extra week’s holiday for his old school, and the Amorians, a day or so before, had beaten the Carthusians, whose forwards had been led to the slaughter by an International whose very initials spell unapproachable football.
The station of St. Amory’s was crowded with the fellows, all sporting rugs of vivid patterns on their arms, and new and of-the-latest-shape “bowlers” on their heads, and new and fancy trouserings on their emancipated legs. No more Amorian cap—peak pointing well down the neck—no more trouserings of sober grey-and-black, no more beakish restraint for five weeks! Couples strolled up and down arm-in-arm; knots of the Sixth and Fifth discussed matters of high state interest, and the worthies of the lower forms made the lives of the perspiring porters a misery and a burden to them. Prominent Amorians were cheered, and when those old enemies, John Acton and Phil Bourne, tumbled out of their cab as the greatest of chums, the fags quavered out their shrill rejoicings, honouring the famous school backs who had stemmed the sweeping rush of the Carthusians a day or so before.
There was a rumour that Acton had been asked to play for the Corinthians, and the other athletes on the platform pressed round the pair for information.
Our old friends, Wilson and Jack Bourne, had shut up by stratagem B.A.M. Cherry in the lamp-room, and the piteous pleadings of that young Biffenite were listened to with ecstacy by a crowd of a dozen, who hailed the promises and threats of the prisoner with shouts of mocking laughter.
W.E. Grim, Esq., explained to a few of his particular chums, Rogers among them, the wonderful shooting he was going to have “up at Acton’s place” in Yorkshire, and they listened with visible envy.
“Look here, Grimmy, if you tell us next term that you bagged two woodcock with one barrel, we’ll boot you all round Biffen’s yard—so there.”
Acton had, as a matter of fact, invited Dick Worcester, Gus Todd, Jack Senior, of Merishall’s house, and Grim, to spend Christmas with him at his mother’s place, and they had all accepted with alacrity.
The northern express rolled into the station, and Grim was hurriedly informed by Rogers that he was to bag the end carriage for Acton under pain of death. Grim tore down the platform, and, encouraged by the cheerful Rogers, performed prodigies of valour, told crams to groups of disgusted Amorians, who went sighing to search elsewhere for room, engaged in single combat with one of Sharpe’s juniors, and generally held the fort. And then, when Acton came running down, and wanted to know what the deuce he was keeping him waiting for, Grim realized that Rogers had “done” him to a turn. He shouted weird threats as he was hurried away, to the bubbling Rogers, and that young gentleman lifted his hat in ironical acknowledgment. There was the warning shriek from the engine, and then the train crawled out, taking toll of all the Amorians going north, and leaving the others to shout after them endearing epithets and clinching witticisms.