home | authors | books | about

Home -> P.G. Wodehouse -> Mike and Psmith -> Chapter 25

Mike and Psmith - Chapter 25

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



Mike, all unconscious of the stirring proceedings which had been going
on below stairs, was peacefully reading a letter he had received that
morning from Strachan at Wrykyn, in which the successor to the cricket
captaincy which should have been Mike's had a good deal to say in a
lugubrious strain. In Mike's absence things had been going badly with
Wrykyn. A broken arm, contracted in the course of some rash experiments
with a day boy's motor bicycle, had deprived the team of the services of
Dunstable, the only man who had shown any signs of being able to bowl a
side out. Since this calamity, wrote Strachan, everything had gone
wrong. The M.C.C., led by Mike's brother Reggie, the least of the three
first-class cricketing Jacksons, had smashed them by a hundred and fifty
runs. Geddington had wiped them off the face of the earth. The Incogs,
with a team recruited exclusively from the rabbit hutch--not a
well-known man on the side except Stacey, a veteran who had been playing
for the club for nearly half a century--had got home by two wickets. In
fact, it was Strachan's opinion that the Wrykyn team that summer was
about the most hopeless gang of deadbeats that had ever made exhibition
of itself on the school grounds. The Ripton match, fortunately, was off,
owing to an outbreak of mumps at that shrine of learning and
athletics--the second outbreak of the malady in two terms. Which, said
Strachan, was hard lines on Ripton, but a bit of jolly good luck for
Wrykyn, as it had saved them from what would probably have been a record
hammering, Ripton having eight of their last year's team left, including
Dixon, the fast bowler, against whom Mike alone of the Wrykyn team had
been able to make runs in the previous season. Altogether, Wrykyn had
struck a bad patch.

Mike mourned over his suffering school. If only he could have been there
to help. It might have made all the difference. In school cricket one
good batsman, to go in first and knock the bowlers off their length, may
take a weak team triumphantly through a season. In school cricket the
importance of a good start for the first wicket is incalculable.

As he put Strachan's letter away in his pocket, all his old bitterness
against Sedleigh, which had been ebbing during the past few days,
returned with a rush. He was conscious once more of that feeling of
personal injury which had made him hate his new school on the first
day of term.

And it was at this point, when his resentment was at its height, that
Adair, the concrete representative of everything Sedleighan, entered
the room.

There are moments in life's placid course when there has got to be the
biggest kind of row. This was one of them.

Psmith, who was leaning against the mantelpiece, reading the serial
story in a daily paper which he had abstracted from the senior day room,
made the intruder free of the study with a dignified wave of the hand,
and went on reading. Mike remained in the deck chair in which he was
sitting, and contented himself with glaring at the newcomer.

Psmith was the first to speak.

"If you ask my candid opinion," he said, looking up from his paper, "I
should say that young Lord Antony Trefusis was in the soup already. I
seem to see the consommé splashing about his ankles. He's had a note
telling him to be under the oak tree in the Park at midnight. He's just
off there at the end of this installment. I bet Long Jack, the poacher,
is waiting there with a sandbag. Care to see the paper, Comrade Adair?
Or don't you take any interest in contemporary literature?"

"Thanks," said Adair. "I just wanted to speak to Jackson for a minute."

"Fate," said Psmith, "has led your footsteps to the right place. This is
Comrade Jackson, the Pride of the School, sitting before you."

"What do you want?" said Mike.

He suspected that Adair had come to ask him once again to play for the
school. The fact that the M.C.C. match was on the following day made
this a probable solution of the reason for his visit. He could think of
no other errand that was likely to have set the head of Downing's paying
afternoon calls.

"I'll tell you in a minute. It won't take long."

"That," said Psmith approvingly, "is right. Speed is the keynote of the
present age. Promptitude. Dispatch. This is no time for loitering. We
must be strenuous. We must hustle. We must Do It Now. We--"

"Buck up," said Mike.

"Certainly," said Adair. "I've just been talking to Stone and Robinson."

"An excellent way of passing an idle half hour," said Psmith.

"We weren't exactly idle," said Adair grimly. "It didn't last long, but
it was pretty lively while it did. Stone chucked it after the
first round."

Mike got up out of his chair. He could not quite follow what all this
was about, but there was no mistaking the truculence of Adair's manner.
For some reason, which might possibly be made clear later, Adair was
looking for trouble, and Mike in his present mood felt that it would be
a privilege to see that he got it.

Psmith was regarding Adair through his eyeglass with pain and surprise.

"Surely," he said, "you do not mean us to understand that you have been
_brawling_ with Comrade Stone! This is bad hearing. I thought that you
and he were like brothers. Such a bad example for Comrade Robinson, too.
Leave us, Adair. We would brood. 'Oh, go thee, knave, I'll none of
thee.' Shakespeare."

Psmith turned away, and resting his elbows on the mantelpiece, gazed at
himself mournfully in the looking glass.

"I'm not the man I was," he sighed, after a prolonged inspection. "There
are lines on my face, dark circles beneath my eyes. The fierce rush of
life at Sedleigh is wasting me away."

"Stone and I had a discussion about early-morning fielding practice,"
said Adair, turning to Mike.

Mike said nothing.

"I thought his fielding wanted working up a bit, so I told him to turn
out at six tomorrow morning. He said he wouldn't, so we argued it out.
He's going to all right. So is Robinson."

Mike remained silent.

"So are you," said Adair.

"I get thinner and thinner," said Psmith from the mantelpiece.

Mike looked at Adair, and Adair looked at Mike, after the manner of two
dogs before they fly at one another. There was an electric silence in
the study. Psmith peered with increased earnestness into the glass.

"Oh?" said Mike at last. "What makes you think that?"

"I don't think. I know."

"Any special reason for my turning out?"


"What's that?"

"You're going to play for the school against the M.C.C. tomorrow, and I
want you to get some practice."

"I wonder how you got that idea!"

"Curious I should have done, isn't it?"

"Very. You aren't building on it much, are you?" said Mike politely.

"I am, rather," replied Adair, with equal courtesy.

"I'm afraid you'll be disappointed."

"I don't think so."

"My eyes," said Psmith regretfully, "are a bit close together. However,"
he added philosophically, "it's too late to alter that now."

Mike drew a step closer to Adair.

"What makes you think I shall play against the M.C.C.?" he asked

"I'm going to make you."

Mike took another step forward. Adair moved to meet him.

"Would you care to try now?" said Mike.

For just one second the two drew themselves together preparatory to
beginning the serious business of the interview, and in that second
Psmith, turning from the glass, stepped between them.

"Get out of the light, Smith," said Mike.

Psmith waved him back with a deprecating gesture.

"My dear young friends," he said placidly, "if you _will_ let your angry
passions rise, against the direct advice of Doctor Watts, I suppose you
must. But when you propose to claw each other in my study, in the midst
of a hundred fragile and priceless ornaments, I lodge a protest. If you
really feel that you want to scrap, for goodness' sake do it where
there's some room. I don't want all the study furniture smashed. I know
a bank whereon the wild thyme grows, only a few yards down the road,
where you can scrap all night if you want to. How would it be to move on
there? Any objections? None. Then shift ho! And let's get it over."

© Art Branch Inc. | English Dictionary