“We will! we will!” cried the rest, spotting Poulett’s idea instanter, with enthusiastic joy; and despite Grim’s frenzied declamation and eloquence they all “helped.”
For two hours—as lively a couple of hours as ever were passed within the laboratory—Gus lay low behind the far bench and enjoyed the afternoon’s performance far more than Grim. The green powder underwent some weird experiments, each of the quintette availing himself of Grim’s knowledge and test-tubes and acid-bottles with the utmost freedom. The analysis of Lancaster’s mixture gave various results, but when Rogers “found” rhubarb and black-lead this was held the correct find, and after this verdict the generous five put up the test-tubes in the rack. They all said Rogers had settled the matter, and anyway they had had a jolly time.
“Understand,” observed Poulett, as he washed away some acid stains from his bare knees, “that Grimmy is not ashamed of his black-lead and rhubarb hunt.”
“Why those vivid blushes, then?”
“We never bargained that old Grim would copy that Fifth Form ass, Todd, and chum up with Lancaster, did we?”
“What did you say about Todd?” inquired Grim, suavely.
“Said he was an ass.”
“An ass, a jackass, a howling jackass!” cried Poulett, crescendo.
“Remember Corker pitching into him? Said he wasn’t fit for a decent nursery, and Toddy had his mouth open all the time.”
[Illustration: THE GREEN POWDER UNDERWENT SOME WEIRD EXPERIMENTS]
“Bully Cotton has given Toddy up. Toddy was too big an ass even for Cotton,” remarked Wilson.
“He looks fairly intelligent,” observed Grim, in a gentle whisper.
“So did you, almost, till you started fooling like this.”
Grim artistically kept the conversation on Todd, and Gus learned how like an ass each individual of the quintette thought him. He smiled gently at Grim’s astuteness in paying him out so neatly for his previous friendly remarks about chucking out. When the first stroke of the roll-call bell reached the laboratory he emerged solemnly and with state from his retreat, and stalked quietly through the knot of his outspoken critics, who were instantly besieged by a variety of emotions. He closed the laboratory door after him, and, when he saw the key outside, the temptation to repay the left-handed compliments of Poulett and Co. in their own coin was too strong. Gus gently turned the key, and was halfway down the corridor before the band arrived at the locked door.
“Let us out!” shrieked Rogers. “We’ll apologize all of us—won’t we, Poulett?”
“Yes!” yelled Poulett. “Anything! Oh, Todd, do let us out!”
But Todd went on his way, serenely ignoring the frantic appeals behind him, and turned out into the street with a sweet smile on his face.
“That beast, Todd, has gone, and Merishall will ladle us out three hundred of Virgil for missing call-over,” moaned Bourne.