A day or so later Wilson was busy translating for Merishall—carefully putting “songs” whenever he spotted “carmina”—when he heard Grim flying upstairs, and when the poet had smashed into the room, he held up a letter.
“It’s come,” he gasped.
Wilson laid down his pen and said, “Wait till you’re cool, and then read it out.”
This is the letter in extenso:—
“I don’t think you’ll ever be a poet, at least not a great one. I
believe I could give you the Latin for most of the lines you have written: they are so dreadfully like the translations of my school-books, and it isn’t very flattering when one has to put up with second-hand compliments several thousand years old, is it? But I am very glad that you think my good opinion of any value to Biffen’s, for I should dearly like to see our house top of the school this year, and how can it be when one, who ought to be in the House Eleven, gives up all his time to writing ‘poetry’ instead of playing cricket? I hope you will not be very vexed with me for writing this, but I know you would prefer me to be
“Yours very sincerely,
“HILDA E. VARLEY.
“P.S.—If I see you admiring
the sunsets or the rose-bushes when you
ought to be at the nets, I know I shall titter ... even if Miss Langton be with me.
Grim struggled through this to the bitter end. Wilson made the very roof echo with his howls of unqualified delight, but Grim’s face was uncommonly like that sunset he admired so much.
“This is a sickener,” he gasped.
“Jove! Grim, you’ve wanted one long enough,” said Wilson, holding his aching sides.
“Crumbs! One would think she was old enough to be my mother.”
“That’s a way they have, when they’re not feeling quite the thing. No wonder, poor girl.”
“Look here, Wilson, keep this dark. I’m not going to write any more poetry. I’ve been thinking that, ever since I sent Hilda the ode. I don’t think it’s quite the real article.”
“No,” said Wilson, consolingly; “only original-spirit catching.”
“A lot you know about it, old man,” said Grim, hotly.
“Granted, Grimmy; but Hilda twigged the fraud, quick enough.”
“Well, I’m going to burn it all, right off.”
They did. I believe I am doing Grim no injustice when I say he looks less a poet, and acts up to his looks, than any junior in St. Amory’s.
Two nights after the receipt of this fateful letter Grim was industriously practising Ranjitsinghi’s famous glance at a snug, quiet net, when Miss Varley, accompanied by Miss Cornelia Langton, her governess, went past the nets. Miss Langton told Hilda afterwards that she ought not to speak to hard-working cricketers and distract them in their game. Hilda, I don’t think, minded this little wigging, and Grim never went without a friendly nod as he turned from cutting Wilson into the nets, if Miss Hilda Elsie Varley went by.