Wilson bore with his chum for a month, and then finally delivered his ultimatum.
“If you’re still a poet at midsummer, I’m going to cut, and dig with Rogers or Cherry. This den isn’t big enough for you, me, and the ‘original spirits’ you wing every night. I’m off to the nets. Coming? No? Jove! Grimmy, what nightmares you must take to bed with you every night.”
But the kindly Fates had the keeping of the chums’ friendship in their safe keeping, and I haven’t observed yet, that Grim and Wilson are less friendly than they used to be. This consummation is owing to Miss Varley. This young lady, aetat XIV, or thereabouts, was responsible for the reclamation of Grim. What the whole posse of his acquaintances with their blandishments and threats could not effect in the space of a month, she did within four and twenty hours. I cannot account for this, except on the supposition that little girls with long yellow hair and pretty brown eyes, and a perambulating blush, create mighty earthquakes in the breasts of rowdy fags. Miss Hilda Elsie Varley, being Biffen’s niece, had taken the house under her protection, was more rabidly Biffenite than even Rogers, adored Acton, reverenced Worcester, and appreciated Chalmers, but despised fags who weren’t “training-on” for one of her houses’ various elevens. Her sentiments on these matters were mysteriously but accurately known amongst Biffenite juniors.
Grim finally turned his poetical talents upon this young lady. I am not quite certain why he delayed so long. Perhaps he had waited until his gift of song had matured so that the offering might be worthy of the shrine, or perhaps because he had exhausted all other exalted subjects for his muse, but anyhow, he sent Miss Varley an ode on her birthday. This day was pretty generally known amongst Biffen’s fags.
When he had finished he read it to Wilson, who unbent from his antagonistic attitude towards poetry when he heard the subject of the verse.
“After all, Grimmy, it doesn’t sound more rotten than Virgil, and it is rather swagger to say that Biffen’s is to Hilda what Samnos was to Juno. It’s a jolly lot more, though.”
Grim had cheerfully compared Miss Hilda to the queenly Juno, and said that if she would give Biffen’s her protection, the house would give the other houses “fits” when the housers came round again; then he put in something about her hair, unconsciously cribbed from Ovid; and something about her walk—this I tracked to Horace; and wound up the whole farrago by saying he was ready to be her door-mat and to shield her from the furies, etc., which, I think, Grim genuinely evolved out of his own effervescing breast. The ode was properly posted by the poet himself, and even Wilson felt genuinely interested in the result. As for Grim, he was so jolly anxious that he could not tackle any more poems, but divided his time between ices at Hooper’s and loafing round the letter-rack for Hilda’s answer.