home | authors | books | about

Home -> P.G. Wodehouse -> Mike and Psmith -> Chapter 2

Mike and Psmith - Chapter 2

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



The train, which had been stopping everywhere for the last half hour,
pulled up again, and Mike, seeing the name of the station, got up,
opened the door, and hurled a bag out on to the platform in an emphatic
and vindictive manner. Then he got out himself and looked about him.

"For the school, sir?" inquired the solitary porter, bustling up, as if
he hoped by sheer energy to deceive the traveler into thinking that
Sedleigh station was staffed by a great army of porters.

Mike nodded. A somber nod. The nod Napoleon might have given if somebody
had met him in 1812, and said, "So you're back from Moscow, eh?" Mike
was feeling thoroughly jaundiced. The future seemed wholly gloomy. And,
so far from attempting to make the best of things, he had set himself
deliberately to look on the dark side. He thought, for instance, that he
had never seen a more repulsive porter, or one more obviously
incompetent than the man who had attached himself with a firm grasp to
the handle of the bag as he strode off in the direction of the luggage
van. He disliked his voice, his appearance, and the color of his hair.
Also the boots he wore. He hated the station, and the man who took
his ticket.

"Young gents at the school, sir," said the porter, perceiving from
Mike's _distrait_ air that the boy was a stranger to the place, "goes up
in the bus mostly. It's waiting here, sir. Hi, George!"

"I'll walk, thanks," said Mike frigidly.

"It's a goodish step, sir."

"Here you are."

"Thank you, sir. I'll send up your luggage by the bus, sir. Which 'ouse
was it you was going to?"


"Right, sir. It's straight on up this road to the school. You can't miss
it, sir."

"Worse luck," said Mike.

He walked off up the road, sorrier for himself than ever. It was such
absolutely rotten luck. About now, instead of being on his way to a
place where they probably ran a Halma team instead of a cricket eleven,
and played hunt-the-slipper in winter, he would be on the point of
arriving at Wrykyn. And as captain of cricket, at that. Which was the
bitter part of it. He had never been in command. For the last two
seasons he had been the star man, going in first, and heading the
averages easily at the end of the season; and the three captains under
whom he had played during his career as a Wrykynian, Burgess, Enderby,
and Henfrey, had always been sportsmen to him. But it was not the same
thing. He had meant to do such a lot for Wrykyn cricket this term. He
had had an entirely new system of coaching in his mind. Now it might
never be used. He had handed it on in a letter to Strachan, who would be
captain in his place; but probably Strachan would have some scheme of
his own. There is nobody who could not edit a paper in the ideal way;
and there is nobody who has not a theory of his own about cricket
coaching at school.

Wrykyn, too, would be weak this year, now that he was no longer there.
Strachan was a good, free bat on his day, and, if he survived a few
overs, might make a century in an hour, but he was not to be depended
upon. There was no doubt that Mike's sudden withdrawal meant that Wrykyn
would have a bad time that season. And it had been such a wretched
athletic year for the school. The football fifteen had been hopeless,
and had lost both the Ripton matches, the return by over sixty points.
Sheen's victory in the light weights at Aldershot had been their one
success. And now, on top of all this, the captain of cricket was removed
during the Easter holidays. Mike's heart bled for Wrykyn, and he found
himself loathing Sedleigh and all its works with a great loathing.

The only thing he could find in its favor was the fact that it was set
in a very pretty country. Of a different type from the Wrykyn country,
but almost as good. For three miles Mike made his way through woods and
past fields. Once he crossed a river. It was soon after this that he
caught sight, from the top of a hill, of a group of buildings that wore
an unmistakably schoollike look.

This must be Sedleigh.

Ten minutes' walk brought him to the school gates, and a baker's boy
directed him to Mr. Outwood's.

There were three houses in a row, separated from the school buildings by
a cricket field. Outwood's was the middle one of these.

Mike went to the front door and knocked. At Wrykyn he had always charged
in at the beginning of term at the boys' entrance, but this formal
reporting of himself at Sedleigh suited his mood.

He inquired for Mr. Outwood, and was shown into a room lined with books.
Presently the door opened, and the housemaster appeared.

There was something pleasant and homely about Mr. Outwood. In appearance
he reminded Mike of Smee in _Peter Pan_. He had the same eyebrows and
pince-nez and the same motherly look.

"Jackson?" he said mildly.

"Yes, sir."

"I am very glad to see you, very glad indeed. Perhaps you would like a
cup of tea after your journey. I think you might like a cup of tea. You
come from Crofton, in Shropshire, I understand, Jackson, near
Brindleford? It is a part of the country which I have always wished to
visit. I dare say you have frequently seen the Cluniac Priory of St.
Ambrose at Brindleford?"

Mike, who would not have recognized a Cluniac Priory if you had handed
him one on a tray, said he had not.

"Dear me! You have missed an opportunity which I should have been glad
to have. I am preparing a book on Ruined Abbeys and Priories of England,
and it has always been my wish to see the Cluniac Priory of St. Ambrose.
A deeply interesting relic of the sixteenth century. Bishop Geoffrey,

"Shall I go across to the boys' part, sir?"

"What? Yes. Oh, yes. Quite so. And perhaps you would like a cup of tea
after your journey? No? Quite so. Quite so. You should make a point of
visiting the remains of the Cluniac Priory in the summer holidays,
Jackson. You will find the matron in her room. In many respects it is
unique. The northern altar is in a state of really wonderful
preservation. It consists of a solid block of masonry five feet long and
two and a half wide, with chamfered plinth, standing quite free from the
apse wall. It will well repay a visit. Good-bye for the present,
Jackson, good-bye."

Mike wandered across to the other side of the house, his gloom visibly
deepened. All alone in a strange school, where they probably played
hopscotch, with a housemaster who offered one cups of tea after one's
journey and talked about chamfered plinths and apses. It was a
little hard.

He strayed about, finding his bearings, and finally came to a room which
he took to be the equivalent of the senior day room at a Wrykyn house.
Everywhere else he had found nothing but emptiness. Evidently he had
come by an earlier train than was usual. But this room was occupied.

A very long, thin youth, with a solemn face and immaculate clothes, was
leaning against the mantelpiece. As Mike entered, he fumbled in his top
left waistcoat pocket, produced an eyeglass attached to a cord, and
fixed it in his right eye. With the help of this aid to vision he
inspected Mike in silence for a while, then, having flicked an invisible
speck of dust from the left sleeve of his coat, he spoke.

"Hello," he said.

He spoke in a tired voice.

"Hello," said Mike.

"Take a seat," said the immaculate one. "If you don't mind dirtying your
bags, that's to say. Personally, I don't see any prospect of ever
sitting down in this place. It looks to me as if they meant to use these
chairs as mustard-and-cress beds. A Nursery Garden in the Home. That
sort of idea. My name," he added pensively, "is Smith. What's yours?"

© Art Branch Inc. | English Dictionary