Punch, March 28, 1906


[According to a daily paper, the boys of a school at Marseilles revolted recently, and had to be subdued by the headmaster with a revolver, backed up by a strong police guard.]

Authors who have tried to write public-school stories will have realised the difficulty of combining sensational detail with probability. The episode quoted above should prove helpful. We would recommend something on the following lines:—

There was no fear in Harry’s heart as he tapped at the bomb-proof door of the headmaster’s study. Yet he knew why he had been sent for. His cap and a signed photograph of himself, abstracted from his locker for that purpose, had been left by the bully in the room from which the examination papers had been stolen. Suspicion rested upon him, perhaps not unnaturally. If he could not prove his innocence the consequences might be serious. But was he down-hearted? No! He knew that the school was with him, and would help him in his hour of need.

“Come in,” said a voice.

Harry entered the room.

The headmaster was sitting at the combination of desk and Maxim gun at which he wrote those sermons which filled every pew in the school chapel on Sundays.

“Well, Trevelyan,” he said gravely. “You know why I have sent for you?”

“Yes, Sir,” replied Harry, looking straight at him with his clear blue eyes, “but the charge is unjust. It was not I who stole the examination papers.”

“This brazen attitude will avail you nothing,” said the headmaster. “I must ask you, Trevelyan, to bend over in the customary manner.”

“Stay, Doctor Crakshot,” cried Harry with flashing eyes. “I will not endure this wrong.”

“I have you covered, Trevelyan,” said the headmaster significantly, tapping the feeder of his Maxim.

“And I you,” retorted Harry, producing a natty little Smith and Wesson. “Besides, I happen to know that gun isn’t loaded. I heard you telling my house-master this morning that it jammed yesterday while you were taking the Sixth Form in Thucydides, and hadn’t been right since.”

“ ’Sdeath!” growled the now infuriated headmaster. Then a look of relief came into the doctor’s scowling face. He had heard footsteps.

The door opened abruptly. “Saved!” shouted the doctor, as the form of the senior mathematical master (popularly known as 4.7) appeared at the door.

“Arrest that boy!” shouted the doctor. “If he resists, shoot him down.”

“It is useless,” panted the mathematical master. “All is over. We are defeated. The school has risen to a boy. The corps is even now digging trenches in the cricket-field. The football fifteen have routed the junior school masters at the fives-courts and driven them into the river. The French masters have suffered a reverse from the gymnasium six, and are in full retreat for the Upper Fourth Form-room. The cloisters are mined. The prefects are advancing in echelon across the gravel. They demand the return of Harry the Hero.”

“And if we refuse——!” muttered the headmaster, grinding his teeth.

“Then every master on the staff will be put to the sword.”

“In that case, Trevelyan,” said the headmaster with forced calm, “I will consent on this occasion to overlook your offence.”

“Thank you, Sir,” said Harry.




Unsigned story as printed; credited to P. G. Wodehouse in the Index to Vol. 130 of Punch.