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Home -> P.G. Wodehouse -> Mike and Psmith -> Chapter 14

Mike and Psmith - Chapter 14

1. Preface

2. Chapter 1

3. Chapter 2

4. Chapter 3

5. Chapter 4

6. Chapter 5

7. Chapter 6

8. Chapter 7

9. Chapter 8

10. Chapter 9

11. Chapter 10

12. Chapter 11

13. Chapter 12

14. Chapter 13

15. Chapter 14

16. Chapter 15

17. Chapter 16

18. Chapter 17

19. Chapter 18

20. Chapter 19

21. Chapter 20

22. Chapter 21

23. Chapter 22

24. Chapter 23

25. Chapter 24

26. Chapter 25

27. Chapter 26

28. Chapter 27

29. Chapter 28

30. Chapter 29

31. Chapter 30



There is only one thing to be said in favor of detention on a fine
summer's afternoon, and that is that it is very pleasant to come out of.
The sun never seems so bright or the turf so green as during the first
five minutes after one has come out of the detention room. One feels as
if one were entering a new and very delightful world. There is also a
touch of the Rip van Winkle feeling. Everything seems to have gone on
and left one behind. Mike, as he walked to the cricket field, felt very
much behind the times.

Arriving on the field he found the Old Boys batting. He stopped and
watched an over of Adair's. The fifth ball bowled a man. Mike made his
way toward the pavilion.

Before he got there he heard his name called, and turning, found Psmith
seated under a tree with the bright-blazered Dunster.

"Return of the exile," said Psmith. "A joyful occasion tinged with
melancholy. Have a cherry?--take one or two. These little acts of
unremembered kindness are what one needs after a couple of hours in
extra pupil room. Restore your tissues, Comrade Jackson, and when you
have finished those, apply again."

"Is your name Jackson?" inquired Dunster, "because Jellicoe wants to see

"Alas, poor Jellicoe!" said Psmith. "He is now prone on his bed in the
dormitory--there a sheer hulk lies poor Tom Jellicoe, the darling of the
crew, faithful below he did his duty, but Comrade Dunster has broached
him to. I have just been hearing the melancholy details."

"Old Smith and I," said Dunster, "were at prep school together. I'd no
idea I should find him here."

"It was a wonderfully stirring sight when we met," said Psmith; "not
unlike the meeting of Ulysses and the hound Argos, of whom you have
doubtless read in the course of your dabblings in the classics. I was
Ulysses; Dunster gave a lifelike representation of the faithful dawg."

"You still jaw as much as ever, I notice," said the animal delineator,
fondling the beginnings of his moustache.

"More," sighed Psmith, "more. Is anything irritating you?" he added,
eyeing the other's maneuvers with interest.

"You needn't be a funny ass, man," said Dunster, pained; "heaps of
people tell me I ought to have it waxed."

"What it really wants is top-dressing with guano. Hello! another man
out. Adair's bowling better today than he did yesterday."

"I heard about yesterday," said Dunster. "It must have been a rag!
Couldn't we work off some other rag on somebody before I go? I shall be
stopping here till Monday in the village. Well hit, sir--Adair's bowling
is perfectly simple if you go out to it."

"Comrade Dunster went out to it first ball," said Psmith to Mike.

"Oh! chuck it, man; the sun was in my eyes. I hear Adair's got a match
on with the M.C.C. at last."

"Has he?" said Psmith; "I hadn't heard. Archaeology claims so much of my
time that I have little leisure for listening to cricket chitchat."

"What was it Jellicoe wanted?" asked Mike; "was it anything important?"

"He seemed to think so--he kept telling me to tell you to go and see

"I fear Comrade Jellicoe is a bit of a weak-minded blitherer--"

"Did you ever hear of a rag we worked off on Jellicoe once?" asked
Dunster. "The man has absolutely no sense of humor--can't see when he's
being rotted. Well, it was like this--hello! We're all out--I shall have
to be going out to field again, I suppose, dash it! I'll tell you when I
see you again."

"I shall count the minutes," said Psmith.

Mike stretched himself; the sun was very soothing after his two hours in
the detention room; he felt disinclined for exertion.

"I don't suppose it's anything special about Jellicoe, do you?" he said.
"I mean, it'll keep till teatime; it's no catch having to sweat across
to the house now."

"Don't dream of moving," said Psmith. "I have several rather profound
observations on life to make and I can't make them without an audience.
Soliloquy is a knack. Hamlet had got it, but probably only after years
of patient practice. Personally, I need someone to listen when I talk. I
like to feel that I am doing good. You stay where you are--don't
interrupt too much."

Mike tilted his hat over his eyes and abandoned Jellicoe.

It was not until the lock-up bell rang that he remembered him. He went
over to the house and made his way to the dormitory, where he found the
injured one in a parlous state, not so much physical as mental. The
doctor had seen his ankle and reported that it would be on the active
list in a couple of days. It was Jellicoe's mind that needed
attention now.

Mike found him in a condition bordering on collapse. "I say, you might
have come before!" said Jellicoe.

"What's up? I didn't know there was such a hurry about it--what did you

"It's no good now," said Jellicoe gloomily; "it's too late, I shall get

"What on earth are you talking about? What's the row?"

"It's about that money."

"What about it?"

"I had to pay it to a man today, or he said he'd write to the Head--then
of course I should get sacked. I was going to take the money to him this
afternoon, only I got crocked, so I couldn't move. I wanted to get hold
of you to ask you to take it for me--it's too late now!"

Mike's face fell. "Oh, hang it!" he said, "I'm awfully sorry. I'd no
idea it was anything like that--what a fool I was! Dunster did say he
thought it was something important, only like an ass I thought it would
do if I came over at lockup."

"It doesn't matter," said Jellicoe miserably; "it can't be helped."

"Yes, it can," said Mike. "I know what I'll do--it's all right. I'll get
out of the house after lights-out."

Jellicoe sat up. "You can't! You'd get sacked if you were caught."

"Who would catch me? There was a chap at Wrykyn I knew who used to break
out every night nearly and go and pot at cats with an air pistol; it's
as easy as anything."

The toad-under-the-harrow expression began to fade from Jellicoe's face.
"I say, do you think you could, really?"

"Of course I can! It'll be rather a rag."

"I say, it's frightfully decent of you."

"What absolute rot!"

"But look here, are you certain--"

"I shall be all right. Where do you want me to go?"

"It's a place about a mile or two from here, called Lower Borlock."

"Lower Borlock?"

"Yes, do you know it?"

"Rather! I've been playing cricket for them all the term."

"I say, have you? Do you know a man called Barley?"

"Barley? Rather--he runs the White Boar."

"He's the chap I owe the money to."

"Old Barley!"

Mike knew the landlord of the White Boar well; he was the wag of the
village team. Every village team, for some mysterious reason, has its
comic man. In the Lower Borlock eleven Mr. Barley filled the post. He
was a large, stout man, with a red and cheerful face, who looked exactly
like the jovial innkeeper of melodrama. He was the last man Mike would
have expected to do the "money by Monday-week or I write to the
headmaster" business.

But he reflected that he had only seen him in his leisure moments, when
he might naturally be expected to unbend and be full of the milk of
human kindness. Probably in business hours he was quite different. After
all, pleasure is one thing and business another.

Besides, five pounds is a large sum of money, and if Jellicoe owed it,
there was nothing strange in Mr. Barley's doing everything he could to
recover it.

He wondered a little what Jellicoe could have been doing to run up a
bill as big as that, but it did not occur to him to ask, which was
unfortunate, as it might have saved him a good deal of inconvenience. It
seemed to him that it was none of his business to inquire into
Jellicoe's private affairs. He took the envelope containing the money
without question.

"I shall bike there, I think," he said, "if I can get into the shed."

The school's bicycles were stored in a shed by the pavilion.

"You can manage that," said Jellicoe; "it's locked up at night, but I
had a key made to fit it last summer, because I used to get out in the
early morning sometimes before it was opened."

"Got it on you?"

"Smith's got it."

"I'll get it from him."

"I say!"


"Don't tell Smith why you want it, will you? I don't want anybody to
know--if a thing once starts getting about it's all over the place in
no time."

"All right, I won't tell him."

"I say, thanks most awfully! I don't know what I should have done, I--"

"Oh, chuck it!" said Mike.

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