“But they don’t call you that to your face.”
“No, not exactly. Have they been calling you ‘Kiddy’ to your face?”
“It amounts to that.” Irving narrated the remarks that he had overheard in dormitory, and then described Westby’s performance at the blackboard.
“That certainly deserved rebuke,” agreed the rector. “Though I think Westby was attempting to be facetious rather than insolent; I have never seen anything to indicate that he was a malicious boy.—What was it that Louis Collingwood did?”
Irving recited the offense.
“Weren’t you a little hasty in assuming that he was trying to tease you?” asked the rector. “When he persisted in wanting to show you how the forward pass is made? I think it’s quite likely he was sincere; he’s so enthusiastic over football that it doesn’t occur to him that others may not share his interest. I don’t think Collingwood was trying to be ‘fresh.’ Of course, he shouldn’t have lost his temper and banged the ball at your door—but I think that hardly showed malice.”
“It seemed to me it was insolent—and disorderly. I felt the fellows all thought they could do anything with me and I would be afraid to report them. And so I thought I’d show them I wasn’t afraid.”
“At the same time, three sheets is the heaviest punishment, short of actual suspension, that we inflict. It seems hardly a penalty for heedless or misguided jocularity.”
“I think perhaps I was hard on Collingwood,” admitted Irving.
“If he comes to you about it—maybe you’ll feel disposed to modify the punishment. And possibly the same with Westby.”
“I don’t feel sure that I’ve been too hard on Westby.”
The rector smiled; he was not displeased at this trace of stubbornness.
“Well, I won’t advise you any further about that. Use your own judgment. It takes time for a young man to get his bearings in a place like this.—If you don’t mind my saying it,” added the rector mildly, “couldn’t you be a little more objective in your interests?”
“You mean,” said Irving, “less—less self-centred?”
“That’s it.” The rector smiled.
“I’ll try,” said Irving humbly.
“All right; good luck.” The rector shook hands with him and turned to his desk.
There was no disturbance in the Mathematics class that day. Irving hoped that after the hour Westby and Collingwood might approach him to discuss the justice of the reports which he had given them, and so offer him an opportunity of lightening the punishment. But in this he was disappointed. Nor did they come to him in the noon recess—the usual time for boys who felt themselves wronged to seek out the masters who had wronged them.
Irving debated with himself the advisability of going to the two boys and voluntarily remitting part of their task. But he decided against this; to make the advances and the concession both would be to concede too much.