On the morning following his encounters with Westby and with Collingwood, Irving as usual took charge of the Study. The boys assembled; Irving rang the bell, reducing them to quiet; Dr. Davenport came in, mounted the platform, and took up the report book—in which Irving had just finished transcribing his entries.
Dr. Davenport began reading in his clear, emphatic voice, “Out of bounds, Mason, Sterrett, Coyle, one sheet; late to study, Hart, McQuiston, Durfee, Stratton, Kane, half a sheet; tardy to breakfast—” and so on. None of the offenses were very serious; and the rector read them out rapidly. But at last he paused a moment; and then, looking up from the book, he said, with grave distinctness, “Disorderly in class and insolent, Westby, three sheets; disorderly in dormitory and insolent, Collingwood, three sheets.”
He closed the book; a stir, a thrill of interest, ran round the room. For a Sixth Former to be charged with such offenses and condemned to such punishment was rare: for Collingwood, who was in a sense the leader of the school, to be so charged and punished was unprecedented.
Collingwood, sitting directly under the clock, and facing so many curious questioning eyes, turned red; Westby, standing by the door, looked at him and smiled. At the same time, Dr. Davenport, closing the report-book, leaned towards Irving and said quietly in his ear,—
“Mr. Upton, I should like to see you about those last two reports—immediately after this study hour.”
Irving reddened; the rector’s manner was not approving.
Dr. Davenport descended from the platform and walked slowly down the aisle. As he approached, he looked straight at Westby; and Westby returned the look steadily—as if he was ashamed of nothing.
The rector passed through the doorway; the Sixth Form followed; the day’s work began.
MASTER TURNS PUPIL
The rector received Irving with a smile. “Well,” he said, “I think you must be a believer in the maxim, ‘Hit hard and hit first.’ Would you mind telling me what was the trouble?”
“It wasn’t so much any one thing,” replied Irving. “It was a culmination of little things.—Oh, I suppose I started in wrong with the fellows somehow.”
He was silent for a moment, in dejection.
“A good many do that,” said Dr. Davenport. “There would be small progress in the world if there never was any rectifying of false starts.”
“I can hardly help it if I look young,” said Irving. “That’s one of my troubles. I suppose I ought to avoid acting young. I haven’t, altogether. They call me Kiddy.”
“We get hardened to nicknames,” observed the rector. “But often they’re affectionate. At least I like to cherish that delusion with regard to mine; my legs have the same curve as Napoleon’s, and I have been known as ‘Old Hoopo’ for years.”