“Delightful prospect. What I want to know is—how are we to settle this business as far as he is concerned? Ought Moore to know?”
“I don’t think so. Never trouble Corker more than you can help, old man. That’s a tip for you when I’m gone. Besides, masters generally mishandle affairs of this sort. I rather fancy I’ll put it to Aspinall when he pulls through.”
“Do. One thing, though, is pretty certain. He’ll never get his cap as long as I’m captain of the footer eleven. I’d rather come out of it myself.”
“Of course. I see there’s no help for that, but, all the same, it will make complications. What a pity he can play!”
“It is, for he is a back out of a thousand.”
Bourne’s voice had in it a ring of genuine regret, and whilst I could almost have smiled at his unaffectedly tragic tone, I could see the vista which his resolution opened up. I heard the school shouting at Bourne to let the finest player out of the eleven in, and all the shouting would be across “seas of misunderstanding.” I know Bourne saw the difficulties himself, and he left my study soon after with a rather anxious look on his face. Personally I determined not to think about the matter until I had seen Aspinall. From the very first I had never expected any help from Acton. There was something about the whole of his bearing in the caddish business that told me plainly that we would have to treat him, not as a fellow who had been betrayed to a vile action by a beastly temper and was bitterly sorry for it, but as a fellow who hated us for finding it out.
I saw Aspinall two days later, and as we walked towards the station I broached the matter.
“Certainly; I thought he tripped me, but he has written me and said how sorry he was for my accident, so, of course, it rests there.”
“Candidly, Aspinall, have you any doubt yourself?”
“No, old fellow. I’m sorry, but I really think he tripped me. He was riled at a little hustling from Shannon’s lot, and I may have upset him myself occasionally. But it is a small matter.”
I looked at the bandages across his cheek, and I didn’t think it small.
“But, Aspinall, even if we leave you out of the business, it isn’t a small matter for us, especially for Bourne.”
“Well, no; hardly for you,” he admitted. “’Twas a piece of sheer bad form. It shouldn’t be done at our place at all.”
“If you were in Bourne’s place would you bar him his place in the eleven?”
Aspinall considered a full minute.
“On the whole, I think I should—at least, for one term; but I’d most certainly let him know why he was not to have his cap—privately, of course. I should not like it to get about, and I do not fancy Acton will say much about it.”