Roy Glashan's Library
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First published in Chums, Cassell & Co., London, 4 December 1915

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2023
Version Date: 2023-07-20

Produced by Keith Emmett and Roy Glashan

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A Complete Story, Illustrated by our Front-Page Picture, Telling how a
House Captain put down Grubbing and Worked for the Honour of the School.

MAXWELL and Harcourt were stretched out in the two ancient arm-chairs in the former's study, and neither had spoken for quite five minutes. After a hard hour's run across country, a bath, and a change, a little rest is a very pleasant thing.

Came a knock at the study-door, and in a moment Maxwell was on his feet.

"It's Kynaston," he muttered.

"Come in, sir," he added aloud, and there entered a tall, lean man of about thirty, with a keen, clean-shaven face and grey eyes, which seemed to take in everything at once.

He nodded to the two boys, but refused the chair which Maxwell pulled up.

"No, thanks," he said; "I'll stand. You two sit down. I've not done half as much as you have this afternoon."

"We didn't see you out, sir," said Maxwell.

"No, worse luck! I've been too busy to get anything but a short walk. How is the house shaping?"

"Well, on the whole, sir," Maxwell answered.

The house master gave him a quick glance.

"On the whole?" he repeated questioningly. "Well, sir," said Maxwell, frowning a little, "our first string is quite all right. It's the tail I'm a bit worried about."

Mr. Kynaston nodded.

"I thought so. Some of those fourth-form boys are much too fond of the tuckshop, Maxwell. You and Harcourt will have to keep them out of it until after the School Run. If you don't, Mr. Stumbles' house will beat us."

He paused.

"What I came in about was this: I was thinking of putting Perraton's out of bounds for the next fortnight; but I made up my mind to consult you first."

Maxwell glanced across at Harcourt. He hesitated a moment.

"I wouldn't do that, sir," he said quietly. "It would look as if you didn't trust them."

"Ha! I had that idea myself. Very well, Maxwell, I won't do it. But it means extra responsibility for you two. Remember, I am set on the house winning the Cup. The house has been far too low down in the Athletic Honours List for the past five years."

"Harcourt and I will manage, sir," said Maxwell firmly.

"I think you will." And with a nod the house master left the study.

The two prefects waited until the door closed behind the master; then Maxwell rose again, and stirred the fire.

"It's up to us to pull this thing off, Harty."

"And a nice job, too, old son. We've got to handle that Gridley crowd with the gloves off, or else we'll be done in to a certainty."

"Talk of eating to live, that fellow Gridley lives to eat," said Maxwell contemptuously. "His idea of bliss would be free tick at the grub shop."

"There's a certain low cunning about the beggar, too," added Harcourt. "Cut him off his cake and muffins, and he'd be quite apt to turn nasty."

"Nasty or not, I'm going to see that he don't over-eat himself during the next two weeks," replied Maxwell firmly. "Which reminds me, I'd better go down now and pay a visit to Perraton's. Likely as not, he and his pals will be gorging themselves blue in the face."

He flung on his cap with the white stripes, which showed him to be a member of the school Rugby team, and went out.

PERRATON'S was no more than a quarter of a mile from the school gates, but to Maxwell's surprise the stuffy little shop was nearly empty. There were no boys from his own house there. He walked back to the school, and turned in through the corridor leading past the lower form classrooms.

From the Lower Fourth room came a hum of voices. Maxwell opened the door and looked in. About a score of boys were sitting about, engaged in the usual occupations of their kind. One was skinning a dead mouse, two or three were writing impositions, a couple more were ragging a third; but of Gridley and his particular pals there was no sign.

Struck by a sudden suspicion, Maxwell walked quickly round to the box-room, which was a tin-roofed shed behind the buildings.

The place was very quiet, but as he stood at the end he could plainly hear a sound of munching. He stepped quickly round a barricade of piled-up play boxes, and came right on top of a little group of half a dozen boys. In their midst, on top of a box, stood a huge and stodgy looking cake, or, rather, the remains of one, and a big pot of cocoa was brewing over a spirit lamp.

"Cave!" came a cry, but it was too late. Before the cake could be shuffled out of sight Maxwell was upon them. He stood looking down at them with tight lips and angry eyes.

"So this is the way you train for the Run," he remarked bitterly.

A fat boy of about fifteen, with a large, round face and gooseberry eyes, stood up and faced him.

"We've done our run this afternoon, Maxwell. There's no rule to stop us from a feed," he said sullenly.

"No rule! No, of course there isn't," replied Maxwell, "but any decent chap would chuck it for the honour of the house."

"A bit of cake won't hurt us," urged Gridley.

"Rot! You must have eaten a pound apiece; and tea is less than an hour off. You know jolly well that that stuff is about the worst thing you can eat for your wind."

"Medwyn doesn't make a row about his chaps 'brewing,'" returned Gridley.

"He doesn't have to. The fellows in Stumbles' are all keen to win the Cross Country Cup. There's not a chap in the house that isn't training for all he is worth."

"I'm sick of the beastly Cup," growled Gridley, but though he spoke under his breath, Maxwell heard.

He boiled over.

"You rotter!" he exclaimed, and, catching Gridley by the scruff of his neck, shook him till his teeth rattled. "It's slackers like you who are ruining Kynaston's. All right, Gridley, if you don't play the game on your own, I'll jolly well make you.

"Get out of this," he continued. "Get out of it, all of you, and if I catch any of you here again, I'll give you the best hammering you ever had."

He drove them before him to their classroom, then went back, threw away the cocoa, and locked up the remains of the cake. After this he returned to his own study, and told Harcourt what he had done.

Gridley meanwhile was furious.

"It's getting a bit too thick," he said to his particular pal Prance. "If Maxwell was a beastly master, he couldn't kick up more of a row. He's got no right to stop us brewing. I've a jolly good mind to go to the Head."

"That's no use," said Prance. "The Head's as bad as Kynaston or Maxwell. But I'll tell you what we can do to score the brute off." He leaned across and talked in a whisper. Gridley's heavy face brightened a little as he listened, and at last he chuckled outright.

"That's a jolly good notion, Prance. I'll write for a hamper to-night. If it comes off it'll be a regular suck in for Maxwell."

"If it comes off!" repeated Prance with some contempt. "Why, of course it will come off. The Sixth always sit up late on Fridays, and there's no one to stop us. It's bound to work, and the best of it is no one will be the wiser.

"But, see here," he added, "we'll have to go slow for the next few days. We must, so as to put Maxwell off the scent."

Gridley's fat face fell again.

"I suppose we must," he muttered. "But, by crumbs, I'll make up for it afterwards. Now I'll go and write that letter."

FOR the next few days Maxwell and Harcourt fairly shadowed the younger members of their house, and especially Gridley and his followers; but they all seemed to have turned over a new leaf. Cakes and cocoa were conspicuous by their absence, and every afternoon there was a full muster for football or a training run.

Even Stumbles' house, busy under Medwyn with their preparations for the Cross Country Cup, noticed the difference among their particular rivals, and began to grow slightly uneasy. They took to training and dieting harder than usual.

The big race was due for the last Saturday of the winter term. It was the most important athletic event of the year at St. Osyth's, and all the seven houses of the College were in for it. Every boy in the school who was able, from the senior prefect down to the youngest fag, had to do his best to complete the five-mile course, and the Cup went to the house which got most marks.

ON the Thursday evening before the race Harcourt came into Maxwell's study, and found his friend at the table with paper and books before him. For once he had been too busy to go out with the house.

Maxwell looked up.

"How goes it?" he asked.

"Fine! 'Pon my sam, you've managed to knock some sense into the Gridley crowd, old man! With a bit of shepherding, I got 'em all round the full course this afternoon. I'll lay that fat Gridley has lost all of a stone in weight the past ten days. Kynaston is no end bucked. He was running with us."

Maxwell nodded.

"If we manage to win, it'll be his doing as much as anyone's," he said gravely.

"And if Stumbles lose, it'll be Stumbles' own fault," Harcourt answered. "Medwyn is a good chap and a good captain, but the Slug is simply hopeless."

"He's nearly as bad as Gridley," chuckled Harcourt. "I should think he weighs all of sixteen stone."

"Perhaps he can't help that, but what Medwyn kicks about is that he doesn't care two pins what his house does in the way of sports. Why, he doesn't come up to watch them at footer once a term! So long as they get a scholarship or a few form prizes he's quite satisfied."

"That's true. Well, let's be grateful that we've got a good chap like Kynaston," replied Harcourt. "He's bucked up the house no end since he took charge last year, and the least we can do is to try and make good in the Cross Country."

"We're going to, aren't we?" said Maxwell.

"Going to try jolly hard, anyhow."

Maxwell paused thoughtfully.

"You mean you're still afraid of Gridley playing up?"

"Well, I am," confessed Harcourt. "This reformation has been a bit too sudden. But, to tell you the truth, I believe his pal Prance is the worst of the two. There's a sleek sort of look on that youth's face which makes me think he's up to some jape."

Maxwell grunted.

"There's only one day left. Between us we ought to be able to keep our eyes on him. After Saturday he and Gridley may burst themselves with buns for all I care."

ALL the next day the house captain and his friend kept a firm but unobtrusive watch on Gridley, but they saw nothing suspicious. In the afternoon they look the house out for a last bit of practice. Just a short run, for they wisely did not risk making their men stale by overwork.

That evening, just before last school, Mr. Kynaston met Maxwell on his way to his study.

"I congratulate you," he said, rubbing his hand together cheerfully. "The house did well to-day. I am inclined to think that we shall beat Stumbles'. Will you and Harcourt come and have tea with me, and talk things over?"

"Thank you, sir." And then, with a laugh, "But no jam, sir," he added.

"No. I'll give you nothing but tea and toast and eggs," replied the house master smiling. "And I shall send you off at a quarter to ten sharp."

Meantime Gridley, who, of course, knew nothing of this invitation, was very busy. He and Prance and a third ally named Spiller had slipped out of Hall as soon as the doors were open, and crept across the darkest part of the quadrangle to the box-room. Here Gridley unlocked his play-box, and took out a number of packages. These he and the other two stowed in their pockets, then made their way to the dormitory building.

There were fourteen dormitories in all, each house having two, and the average number of boys in each dormitory was about twenty. They were distinguished by letters, that in which the juniors of Kynaston's house slept being "L."

The dormitories at this time of the evening were in pitch darkness, and as the masters were at dinner in their Common Room, and most of the prefects in their studies, there was not much risk of being spotted.

Three times the boys made the journey, the packages which they carried being carefully hidden in various bags and portmanteaux in the dormitory.

"That's the lot," said Gridley at last, with an unpleasant chuckle.

"And enough, too," answered Prance quietly, "enough to stodge every chap in the dormitory. I'll bet none of 'em will be able to run for nuts to-morrow."

"Well, mind you don't eat too much, Gridley," put in Spiller. "We three have got to be able to finish the run. If we don't we shall have those brutes suspecting us of putting a spoke in their wheel."

"Oh, I'm going to have my whack!" retorted Gridley. "Half the house will be in it, and Maxwell can't lick the lot of us."

"Cave!" cut in Prance suddenly, and dived under the nearest bed, an example followed instantly by the other two.

The boards of the passage croaked under a heavy tread, the door opened, and some one came in. For a moment or two he stood in the doorway, breathing heavily.

"I'd have vowed I heard someone here," he said in a thick, hoarse voice.

He waited for quite a minute, then shuffled heavily away. It was not until his footsteps died away in the distance that the three ventured out.

"Phew! Who'd have thought of old Slug crawling round at this hour?" muttered Gridley in a scared tone.

"Not his house, either—the fat brute!" growled Prance.

"Better him than Kynaston," said Spiller. "Anyhow, he didn't spot us, so we may as well hook it."

The advice was good, and was followed at once. A few minutes later the three were safe in their own classroom.

Lower boys at St. Osyth's went to bed at nine, and Upper at ten. Prefects could sit up another hour if they liked, and generally did so, except on Saturday and Sundays. "L" being a Lower boys' dormitory, lights were put out sharp at half-past nine, and from that hour until eleven there was little fear of disturbance, unless a rag of any sort was started.

As usual, the school porter put out the gas and went away with a gruff "Good night," closing the door behind him.

FIVE minutes later Gridley slipped out of bed and lit an end of candle. Prance and Spiller followed, and alter them two others, Stanbury and Philps. Quickly they placed the top of a packing-case on a pile of pillows, and on this improvised table laid out a tempting feed.

Cake, buns of the greasy variety, known as halfpenny stodgers, sausage-rolls, bananas, a bottle of raspberry vinegar—all these were soon in position.

The other boys began to sit up and take notice.

"What's up?" asked Vincent, a thin youth with hungry eyes.

"Gridley's had a hamper," Prance answered. "We're going to have a bit of a feed."

"But what about the run?"

"Pooh! A little grub won't hurt us. None of us had any tea. Have a slog of cake?"

Vincent hesitated. The rich smell of the black plum cake reached his nose. He crept out, and took his seat at the table.

Prance loaded a plate with sausage-rolls and handed them round from bed to bed. It was not in nature for hungry juniors to refuse such delicacies. By the dim light of the candles the feast began.

Mr. Kynaston was as good as his word. The tea in his room was of the very simplest character, and Maxwell and Harcourt had nothing but an egg apiece, some dry toast and weak tea.

Not that they minded. It was always worth while to go to Kynaston's rooms just to hear him talk. They enjoyed every minute of their visit, and were both quite surprised when the clock on the mantel chimed the quarter to ten.

Kynaston got up at once.

"Off you go," he said, with the smile that made his rather stern face so pleasant. "Good night to you, and good luck."

"Good night, sir," the prefects said, both at once.

The gas lamps were not out in the long stone passages of the dormitory building, but were turned so low that there was nothing but a dim twilight in the long corridors. The two prefects had just reached the top of the staircase when Harcourt suddenly caught Maxwell by the arm, and drew him aside into an archway.

"What's up, Harky?" whispered Maxwell.

"Hush! There's someone on the prowl. Jove, I believe it's old Slug."

Then came the soft pad of slippered feet, and next moment, from a cross passage, appeared the thick, squat figure of Mr. Stumbles. The light fell upon his face and showed his great head bent forward eagerly, and a look of watchful suspicion in his prominent eyes.

"I hate that business of creeping round in 'sneaks,'" whispered Maxwell in some disgust.

"And he's going in the direction of our dormitories," growled Harcourt. "Beastly cheek I call it."

"He always loves to get our chaps into a row," replied Maxwell. "I vote we see what he's up to."

"Well, take care he don't see us," smiled Harcourt. "It would be horridly infra dig. if two prefects were spotted trailing a master."

"He won't see us," answered Maxwell confidently, as he went quietly forward.

They were both wearing pumps, so they could move as silently as the Slug himself in his best slippers. Gaining the turn in the passage, they caught sight of the stout master standing outside the door of the dormitory, his head cocked on one side, listening.

"What's he after? I don't hear anything," muttered Maxwell.

At that moment Stumbles turned. Maxwell and Harcourt at once slipped away, and regained the dark archway where they had previously hidden.

They waited there for a minute or more, but there was no sign of the Slug.

"Where has he gone?" whispered Maxwell.

Harcourt's eyes twinkled.

"I'll bet I know—up on the roof."

"The roof! He'd be scared to climb up there."

"Not he! Why, there's a regular staircase now instead of the old iron fire-escape. I'll bet anything he's gone up on the leads. He means to get a squint down through the sky light."

"But why?"

"Because he jolly well knows that Kynaston won't stand another master meddling with his dormitories."

"H'm! I believe you're right," said Maxwell. "I vote we go after him."

"Right. If he does see us he won't dare say anything."

As soon as they were back in the cross passage, Harcourt pointed to an open door.

"Told you so," he whispered.

Next moment the two were climbing nimbly up a narrow, iron-framed staircase, at the top of which a trap-door, now wide open, gave upon the flat, lead-covered roof of the big building.

Maxwell peered out.

"You were right, Harky. He's looking down through the skylight."

"And, by Jove!" he added, "there is something up. I can see a light through the glass."

"Let's have a squint," said Harcourt eagerly. He pushed up past Maxwell, and as he did so his shoulder struck the edge of the trap-door. It slipped and fell outwards with a loud clatter.

"Now you've done it!" muttered Maxwell.

THE words were not out of his mouth before there came a hideous crash. Mr. Stumbles, startled by the sudden noise, had lost his balance and fallen forward upon the skylight. The framework, stout as it was, could not withstand the sudden impact of more than two hundredweight of solid flesh and bone. It gave, and before the horrified eyes of the two prefects the house master disappeared from view, amid a shower of crackling glass and broken woodwork.

With one accord they dashed across the roof. From below came up a crash even louder than the first, and the very building seemed to quiver as the Slug landed stern foremost in the centre of the table, on which was spread the dormitory feed.


The Uninvited Guest
The very building seemed to quiver as the Slug landed stern foremost
in the centre of the table, on which was spread the dormitory feed.

The candles were flattened—all but one, which had been stuck upon the end of a near-by bed. Its flickering light shone upon a scene of horrid wreck, surrounded by a circle of pyjamaed youngsters.

In the midst lay the fat house master flat on his back in the midst of the feast, quivering like a monstrous jelly.

Maxwell and Harcourt turned and fled back down the stairs, taking six steps at a stride. In about no time they were inside the dormitory.

So quick had they been that no one had yet moved. Slug still lay where he had fallen, seven boys with terrified faces surrounding him, while the rest sat up in their beds glaring at the startling scene before them.

The two prefects dashed through the crowd. They fully expected to find the master killed, or at least seriously injured. They did not know of the pillows supporting the table.

As they reached him he made a queer gulping sound and, rolling off the table top, struggled to his feet. Remains of sausage rolls were plastered on his thick shoulders, raspberry vinegar dripped crimson from his coat.

He glared round.

"To-morrow—to-morrow morning at nine," he said hoarsely, "you will all go to your house master. You hear?"

Then, disdaining the offered help of the two prefects, he limped away.

For a moment or two there was silence. Then Maxwell spoke.

"Whose hamper was this?" he asked quietly enough. "Yours, Gridley?"

"Yes," answered Gridley shakily.

Maxwell turned to Harcourt.

"I think we won't wait until to-morrow morning," he said. "Philps, go to my study and fetch the cane from behind the sofa.

"How much have you chaps eaten?" he demanded when Philps had gone.

"We'd only just begun," said Spiller sadly.

Harcourt turned and whispered in Maxwell's ear. A grim smile parted the latter's lips.

"Clear up all that stuff," he ordered. "You, Gridley and Prance, do it. Pack it in that bag."

This was done. Philps returned with the cane. An unhappy silence reigned in the big room. A prefect's licking is no joke, especially when one has nothing on but pyjamas, and every boy in the room knew that he had richly earned it.

Maxwell took the cane and bent it. He looked round as if to select the first victim Gridley was looking very pale, Prance's teeth were chattering slightly.

Then Maxwell spoke again.

"You all know what you deserve," he said in a clear, cold voice. "You do, Gridley, don't you?"

"Yes," came the low answer.

"Aren't you rather ashamed of yourself?"


Again a pause.

"Do you think you deserve another chance?"


"I agree with you," said Maxwell dryly. "You don't. You and your friends have deliberately set to work to ruin Kynaston's chance in the Cross Country Cup. It's about as low-down a trick as I ever heard of, and I haven't the slightest doubt that you did it just to score off Harcourt and myself for stopping your 'brewing.' All the same, I'm going to give you a chance.

"You haven't eaten enough yet to hurt you, at least I don't think so, and by Harcourt's advice I am going to suspend punishment until I find out. You will all run to-morrow, and you will run your best. If Kynaston's win the Cup that clears the slate. If they don't—well, you'll all know what's coming to you.

"Now get to bed."

Without a word the whole lot crept between their blankets, and when all was quiet Maxwell blew out the candle, took up the bag with the rest of the food, and went out.

"Wonder if it will work?" he remarked thoughtfully, as he and Harcourt went to their cubicles.

"I'm inclined to think it will," was the reply. "Good night, Maxwell."

THAT Harcourt was right was proved on the School Notice Board the following evening. Kynaston's house had distinguished itself by beating Stumbles' by the goodly margin of seventeen marks.

Gridley actually came in twelfth among the juniors, and every single boy in the house completed the course inside time.

That night the big silver cup was set in the place of honour over the fireplace in Kynaston's classroom.

Gridley stood in front of the fire staring up at it. The congratulations that had been showered on him had somewhat startled him, and there was a new look on his rather heavy face.

"Looks rather decent, doesn't it?" he said to Prance, who was standing alongside.

"Not bad," allowed Prance. "It would be rather a jape if we could collar the hockey cup next term, to put alongside it."

Gridley turned quite eagerly.

"By Jove! we'll do it," he said.


Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
Go to Home Page
This work is out of copyright in countries with a copyright
period of 70 years or less, after the year of the author's death.
If it is under copyright in your country of residence,
do not download or redistribute this file.
Original content added by RGL (e.g., introductions, notes,
RGL covers) is proprietary and protected by copyright.