“Did he know of our six-a-side against Merishall’s lot?”
“Rather! Said he hoped we’d win.”
“We! Why, is he backing out, then?”
“Well, we’ve waited for him half an hour, and there’s no sign of him yet—look’s like it.”
“What is up with him, I wonder?” said Poulett.
“Seemed rather mysterious this morning—rather
stand-offish to my idea.
Perhaps, though, he’s only guzzling buns or swilling coffee somewhere.
The quintette thereupon spread themselves out, but every shop was drawn blank.
“Rum!” said Rogers. “Where can the ass be?”
“If we knew, Solomon, would we try to find out?” said Sharpe.
“I say, you fellows—I’ve got an idea about Grimmy. Didn’t Lancaster give him a leg-up for his chemistry the other day? Permission to footle in the lab. on half-holidays, and all the rest of it? Grim was no end cocky over that.”
“Grimmy waste a ‘halfer’ bottle-washing! Rot! That isn’t his form, Wilson.”
“If,” said Poulett, impressively, “he has sunk so low, we must give him an ‘elpin’ ’and, pore feller!”
“Rather. If Lancaster has put the cover over old Grimmy we must get him out somehow. Let’s adjourn to see.”
The honourable five forthwith moved over to the laboratory, and Grim received his beloved cronies with hot blushes and a rather nervous manner.
“I say, you chaps, what do you want?”
“What did we want?” said Bourne, as though he’d forgotten it. “What was it, Rogers?”
“A fellow, formerly Grimmy, not a nasty bottle-washer,” said Rogers, more in sorrow than in anger.
“But yesterday and Grimmy was an average back, and now he’s holding up some filthy brew to the sunlight to see how muddy it is. Oh, my great aunt!” chimed in Wilson.
“How are the mighty fallen!” gasped Sharpe.
“Look here, you fellows—” began Grim, with still more vivid blushes mantling his noble face.
“’Ear, ’ear! speech! speech! withdraw! apologize!”
“I’m not ashamed of being here and doing a little chemistry for my own amusement, so there; and you fellows had better cut before Lancaster comes and runs you all in.”
“That is all right, Grimmy. Lancaster’s sporting a silk tile, so he’s off to town. To think of your cutting our six-a-side to puff down a dirty blow-pipe! Come out, you idiot, and get into your footer togs!” said Sharpe.
“I’m not coming, I tell you.”
“Insanity in the family, evidently,” observed Poulett, judicially.
“Aren’t you coming, really?”
“No, I’m not; do get out and leave me alone!”
“Never!” said Poulett. “We’ll stay with him and see him through the fit, eh?”
“Rather! We’ll never desert you, Grimmy!”
“We’ll let the six-a-side slide for this afternoon, and we’ll help Grimmy with his salt,” suggested the egg-poacher, brilliantly; and any amount of hidden meaning was in the word “help.”