“If not a great deal better,” added Westby with an urbanity that set every one snickering.
After dinner Irving was again on duty for two hours in the dormitory, until the time for afternoon chapel. During part of this period the boys were expected to be in their rooms, preparing the Bible lesson which had to be recited after chapel to the rector. Irving made the rounds and saw that each boy was in his proper quarters, then went to his own room. For an hour he enjoyed quiet. Then the bell rang announcing that the study period was at an end. Instantly there was a commotion in the corridors—legitimate enough; but soon it centred in the north wing and grew more and more clamorous, more and more mirthful.
With a sigh Irving went forth to quell it. He determined that whatever happened he would not this time lose his temper; he would try to be persuasive and yet firm.
The noise was in Allison’s room; the unfortunate Allison was again being persecuted. Loud whoops of laughter and the sound of vigorous scuffling, of tumbling chairs and pounding feet, came to Irving’s ears. The door to Allison’s room was wide open; Irving stood and looked upon a pile of bodies heaped on the bed, with struggling arms and legs; even in that moment the foot of the iron bedstead collapsed, and the pile rolled off upon the floor. There were Morrill and Carroll and Westby and Dennison and at the bottom Allison—all looking very much rumpled, very red.
“Oh, come, fellows!” said Irving in what he intended to make an appealing voice. “Less noise, less noise—or I shall really have to report you—I shall really!”
But he did not speak with any confidence; his manner was hesitating, almost deprecating. The boys grinned at him and then sauntered, rather indifferently, out of the room.
There was no more disorder that day. But some hours later, when Irving came up to the dormitory before supper, he heard laughter in the west wing, where Collingwood and Westby and Scarborough had their rooms. Then he heard Westby’s voice, raised in an effeminate, pleading tone: “Less noise, fellows, less noise—or I shall have to report you—I shall really!”
There was more laughter at the mimicry, and Irving heard Collingwood ask,
“Where did you get that, Wes?”
“Oh, from Kiddy—this afternoon.”
“Poor Kiddy! He seemed to be having an awful time at noon over that roast beef.”
“He’s such a dodo—he’s more fun than a goat. I can put him up in the air whenever I want to,” boasted Westby. “He’s the easiest to get rattled I ever saw. I’m going to play horse with him in class to-morrow.”
“How?” asked Collingwood; and Irving basely pricked up his ears.
“Oh, you’ll see.”
Irving closed the door of his room quietly. “We’ll see, will we?” he muttered, pacing back and forth. “Yes, I guess some one will see.”