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Home -> P.G. Wodehouse -> Mike and Psmith -> Chapter 6

Mike and Psmith - Chapter 6

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



Jellicoe, that human encyclopedia, consulted on the probable movements
of the enemy, deposed that Spiller, retiring at ten, would make for
Dormitory One in the same passage, where Robinson also had a bed. The
rest of the opposing forces were distributed among other and more
distant rooms. It was probable, therefore, that Dormitory One would be
the rendezvous. As to the time when an attack might be expected, it was
unlikely that it would occur before half past eleven. Mr. Outwood went
the round of the dormitories at eleven.

"And touching," said Psmith, "the matter of noise, must this business be
conducted in a subdued and _sotto voce_ manner, or may we let ourselves
go a bit here and there?"

"I shouldn't think old Outwood's likely to hear you--he sleeps miles
away on the other side of the house. He never hears anything. We often
rag half the night and nothing happens."

"This appears to be a thoroughly nice, well-conducted establishment.
What would my mother say if she could see her Rupert in the midst of
these reckless youths!"

"All the better," said Mike; "we don't want anybody butting in and
stopping the show before it's half started."

"Comrade Jackson's berserk blood is up--I can hear it sizzling. I quite
agree these things are all very disturbing and painful, but it's as well
to do them thoroughly when one's once in for them. Is there nobody else
who might interfere with our gambols?"

"Barnes might," said Jellicoe, "only he won't."

"Who is Barnes?"

"Head of the house--a rotter. He's in a funk of Stone and Robinson; they
rag him; he'll simply sit tight."

"Then I think," said Psmith placidly, "we may look forward to a very
pleasant evening. Shall we be moving?"

Mr. Outwood paid his visit at eleven, as predicted by Jellicoe, beaming
vaguely into the darkness over a torch, and disappeared again,
closing the door.

"How about that door?" said Mike. "Shall we leave it open for them?"

"Not so, but far otherwise. If it's shut we shall hear them at it when
they come. Subject to your approval, Comrade Jackson, I have evolved the
following plan of action. I always ask myself on these occasions, 'What
would Napoleon have done?' I think Napoleon would have sat in a chair by
his washhand stand, which is close to the door; he would have posted you
by your washhand stand, and he would have instructed Comrade Jellicoe,
directly he heard the door handle turned, to give his celebrated
imitation of a dormitory breathing heavily in its sleep. He
would then--"

"I tell you what," said Mike, "How about tying a string at the top of
the steps?"

"Yes, Napoleon would have done that, too. Hats off to Comrade Jackson,
the man with the big brain!"

The floor of the dormitory was below the level of the door. There were
three steps leading down to it. Psmith switched on his torch and they
examined the ground. The leg of a wardrobe and the leg of Jellicoe's bed
made it possible for the string to be fastened in a satisfactory manner
across the lower step. Psmith surveyed the result with approval.

"Dashed neat!" he said. "Practically the sunken road which dished the
Cuirassiers at Waterloo. I seem to see Comrade Spiller coming one of the
finest purlers in the world's history."

"If they've got a torch--"

"They won't have. If they have, stand by and grab it at once; then
they'll charge forward and all will be well. If they have no light, fire
into the brown with a jug of water. Lest we forget, I'll collar Comrade
Jellicoe's jug now and keep it handy. A couple of sheets would also not
be amiss--we will enmesh the enemy!"

"Right ho!" said Mike.

"These humane preparations being concluded," said Psmith, "we will
retire to our posts and wait. Comrade Jellicoe, don't forget to breathe
like an asthmatic sheep when you hear the door opened; they may wait at
the top of the steps, listening."

"You _are_ a lad!" said Jellicoe.

Waiting in the dark for something to happen is always a trying
experience, especially if, as on this occasion, silence is essential.
Mike was tired after his journey, and he had begun to doze when he was
jerked back to wakefulness by the stealthy turning of the door handle;
the faintest rustle from Psmith's direction followed, and a slight
giggle, succeeded by a series of deep breaths, showed that Jellicoe,
too, had heard the noise.

There was a creaking sound.

It was pitch-dark in the dormitory, but Mike could follow the invaders'
movements as clearly as if it had been broad daylight. They had opened
the door and were listening. Jellicoe's breathing grew more asthmatic;
he was flinging himself into his part with the wholeheartedness of the
true artist.

The creak was followed by a sound of whispering, then another creak. The
enemy had advanced to the top step.... Another creak.... The vanguard
had reached the second step.... In another moment--


And at that point the proceedings may be said to have formally opened.

A struggling mass bumped against Mike's shins as he rose from his chair;
he emptied his jug onto this mass, and a yell of anguish showed that the
contents had got to the right address.

Then a hand grabbed his ankle and he went down, a million sparks dancing
before his eyes as a fist, flying out at a venture, caught him on
the nose.

Mike had not been well disposed toward the invaders before, but now he
ran amok, hitting out right and left at random. His right missed, but
his left went home hard on some portion of somebody's anatomy. A kick
freed his ankle and he staggered to his feet. At the same moment a
sudden increase in the general volume of noise spoke eloquently of good
work that was being put in by Psmith.

Even at that crisis, Mike could not help feeling that if a row of this
caliber did not draw Mr. Outwood from his bed, he must be an unusual
kind of housemaster.

He plunged forward again with outstretched arms, and stumbled and fell
over one of the on-the-floor section of the opposing force. They seized
each other earnestly and rolled across the room till Mike, contriving to
secure his adversary's head, bumped it on the floor with such abandon
that, with a muffled yell, the other let go, and for the second time he
rose. As he did so he was conscious of a curious thudding sound that
made itself heard through the other assorted noises of the battle.

All this time the fight had gone on in the blackest darkness, but now a
light shone on the proceedings. Interested occupants of other
dormitories, roused from their slumbers, had come to observe the sport.
They had switched on the light and were crowding in the doorway.

By the light of this Mike got a swift view of the theater of war. The
enemy appeared to number five. The warrior whose head Mike had bumped on
the floor was Robinson, who was sitting up feeling his skull in a
gingerly fashion. To Mike's right, almost touching him, was Stone. In
the direction of the door, Psmith, wielding in his right hand the cord
of a dressing gown, was engaging the remaining three with a
patient smile.

They were clad in pajamas, and appeared to be feeling the dressing-gown
cord acutely.

The sudden light dazed both sides momentarily. The defense was the first
to recover, Mike, with a swing, upsetting Stone, and Psmith, having
seized and emptied Jellicoe's jug over Spiller, getting to work again
with the cord in a manner that roused the utmost enthusiasm of the

Agility seemed to be the leading feature of Psmith's tactics. He was
everywhere--on Mike's bed, on his own, on Jellicoe's (drawing a
passionate complaint from that noncombatant, on whose face he
inadvertently trod), on the floor--he ranged the room, sowing

The enemy were disheartened; they had started with the idea that this
was to be a surprise attack, and it was disconcerting to find the
garrison armed at all points. Gradually they edged to the door, and a
final rush sent them through.

"Hold the door for a second," cried Psmith, and vanished. Mike was alone
in the doorway.

It was a situation which exactly suited his frame of mind; he stood
alone in direct opposition to the community into which Fate had
pitchforked him so abruptly. He liked the feeling; for the first time
since his father had given him his views upon school reports that
morning in the Easter holidays, he felt satisfied with life. He hoped,
outnumbered as he was, that the enemy would come on again and not give
the thing up in disgust; he wanted more.

On an occasion like this there is rarely anything approaching concerted
action on the part of the aggressors. When the attack came, it was not a
combined attack; Stone, who was nearest to the door, made a sudden dash
forward, and Mike hit him under the chin.

Stone drew back, and there was another interval for rest and reflection.

It was interrupted by the reappearance of Psmith, who strolled back
along the passage swinging his dressing-gown cord as if it were some
clouded cane.

"Sorry to keep you waiting, Comrade Jackson," he said politely. "Duty
called me elsewhere. With the kindly aid of a guide who knows the lie of
the land, I have been making a short tour of the dormitories. I have
poured divers jugfuls of water over Comrade Spiller's bed, Comrade
Robinson's bed, Comrade Stone's--Spiller, Spiller, these are harsh
words; where you pick them up I can't think--not from me. Well, well, I
suppose there must be an end to the pleasantest of functions. Good
night, good night."

The door closed behind Mike and himself. For ten minutes shufflings and
whisperings went on in the corridor, but nobody touched the handle.

Then there was a sound of retreating footsteps, and silence reigned.

On the following morning there was a notice on the house board. It ran:


_Dormitory raiders are informed that in future neither Mr. Psmith
nor Mr. Jackson will be at home to visitors. This nuisance must now


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