Philips took down the offending list, and told Cotton the house-master’s opinions. Jim Cotton had not very quick feelings, but contempt can pierce the shell of a tortoise, and as Philips innocently retailed the message, the secretary of the Penfold Tablet Fund knew there was one man who held him a cad.
BOURNE v. ACTON
Jack had gone to London with his patron on Thursday. On Saturday morning Acton went to Aldershot, carrying with him the hopes and good wishes of the whole of St. Amory’s, and at night the school band had met him at the station. They (the band) struggled bravely—it was very windy—with “See, the Conquering Hero comes!” in front of the returned hero, who was “chaired” by frenzied Biffenites. The expected had happened. Acton had annihilated Rossal, Shrewsbury, and Harrow, and in the final had met the redoubtable Jarvis, from “Henry’s holy shade.” The delightful news circulated round St. Amory’s that Acton had “made mincemeat” of Jarvis. He had not, but after a close battle had scrambled home first; he had won, and that was the main thing.
As Acton walked into chapel on Sunday morning with Worcester, Corker got scant attention to his sermon; the fags to a man were thinking of Acton’s terrible left. The gladiator lived in an atmosphere of incense for a whole day.
As Phil Bourne was finishing breakfast on Monday morning his fag brought him his letters, and, after reading his usual one from home, he turned his attention to another one, whose envelope was dirty, and whose writing was laboriously and painfully bad amateur work.
“Rotherhithe,” said Phil, looking at the post-mark. “Who are my friends from that beauty spot?”
I give the letter in all its fascinating simplicity.
“I was sory as how I did not see you on thursday night when you
came with Acting to Covent garden to do a small hedging in the linkinsheer handicap. I think since you did a fare settle about the gunn and pade up my little bill like a mann you would deserve the show at the “Kindumm” and the blow out at that swell tuck shop as Mister Acting said he was going to treat you to for coming with him to london. I hopes you enjoyed em and As how that stiff necked old corker your beak—won’t never find out.
“As you gave him the Propper slip and no Errer your beastly Chummy
The letter had evidently been meant for Jack, but had naturally reached Phil, since the envelope was directed to “Mr. Bourne.”
Bourne, when he had struggled to the end of this literary gem, dropped the letter like a red-hot coal. Was it a hoax, or had Jack really gone up to town, as the letter said?
The “Mister Acting” made Phil’s heart sink with dire forebodings.
“Go and find young Bourne, Hinton, and tell him to come here to my study at once, or as soon as he’s finished breakfast.”