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20 octobre 2022 à 5 h 52 min #40104AnonymeInactif
<br>Stalky & co.<br>Rudyard kipling<br>“Let’s now give praise to famous people” – people of little note – for the fact that their work continues, and their work continues, more than their escort in moscow knowledge.<br>West wind and open wave they tore us away from our mothers; they threw us on the bare shore (twelve dreary houses on the shore! Seven years on the shore!) About two hundred brothers.<br>There we met with famous people who hold our positions. And they beat us with rods – that’s right, with many rods – they beat us with rods every day – for the love they brought us!<br>From egypt to troy – through the himalayas – our groups have gone far and confidently – high brazil or babylon, the islands of the southern strait, and the cities of kataya!<br>And we all praise famous people – the ancestors of the college; for teaching us common sense – trying to teach us common sense – the truth and god’s own common sense which is more than knowledge!<br>Every degree of latitude, strung on the creation, sees one (or more) of us, (from one collection of all of us – from one master of all of us -) passionate about his vocation.<br>We learned this from famous people who do not know its application, when they showed in their daily work a person should finish his work – correctly or incorrectly, his daily work – and without excuses.<br>Servants of the staff and chains, mines, wicks and ropes – some in the face of kings, stand in the face of kings; bring gifts to different kings – gifts of shell casing and shrapnel.<br>We learned this from famous people who teach in our area. Who stated that it would be better, safer, easier and best of all – fast, wise and best of all – obey your orders.<br>Some under distant stars bear a greater burden. Set to serve the lands they rule, (except that he serves, no one can rule) serve and love the lands they rule; without seeking either praise or guerdon. We learned this from famous people without knowing it, we learned it. Only over the years – lonely, over the years – far from help, over the years we discerned it more and more clearly.<br>Therefore, we praise the famous people from whom we borrow – those who postponed today – all the joys of his present day – and the labor of his present day bought tomorrow for us!<br>Bless and praise us, famous people, inconspicuous people! For their work continues and their work continues broad and deep continues great beyond their comprehension!<br>Copyright, 1899 by rudyard kipling<br>Slaves of the lamp – part i.<br>Slaves of the lamp – part ii.<br>“ In an ambush.”<br>In the summer, all the sensible boys built huts on the hill behind the college-little dens carved out of the core of thorny bushes, full of stumps, strange roots and thorns, but, since they were strictly forbidden, palaces of pleasure. And for the fifth summer in a row stalky, mcturk and beetle (this was before they reached the dignity of research) were building, like beavers, a place of solitude and meditation where they smoked.<br>Well, there was nothing in their characters, known to mr. Prout, their housekeeper, that aroused respect; neither did foxy, the sly red-haired school sergeant, trust them. His job was to wear tennis shoes, carry binoculars and fly like a hawk at angry boys. If he had gone out into the field alone, the hut would have been raided, because foxy knew the morals of his victim; but providence prompted mr. Prout, whose school nickname, derived from the size of his legs, was hoofer, to investigate on his own; and it was the cautious stalky who found the trail of his pugs on the very floor of their lair one peaceful day, when stalky would have been glad to forget prout and his writings in a volume of surté and a new briar pipe. Crusoe, seeing the trail, acted no faster than stalky. He took out his pipes, collected all the scattered matches, and went to warn beetle and mcturk.<br>But it was characteristic of the boy that he did not approach his allies until he met and consulted with little hartopp, the president of the natural history society, an institution that stalky treated with contempt. Hartopp was more than surprised when the boy meekly, as he knew how, asked to offer himself, beetle and mcturk as candidates; confessed his long-suppressed interest in the first flowers, early butterflies and newcomers and volunteered, if mr. Hartopp deems it necessary, to take part in the new life right away. Being a master, hartopp was suspicious; but he was also an enthusiast, and his tender little soul was hurt by accidentally overheard remarks from this trio, and especially from the beetle. Therefore, he was merciful to this repentant sinner and entered three names in his book.<br>Then, and only then, stalky found beetle and mcturk in their classroom. They folded books to spend a quiet day in the “furze”, which they called the “university.”<br>“ Everything’s ready,” stalky said serenely. “I noticed heffi’s magic feet around our hut after dinner. – It’s a blessing that they are so big.”<br>“ Deceived! Did you hide our pipes?” Said the beetle.<br>“ Oh, no, of course i left them in the middle of the hut. What a blind ass you are, beetle! Do you think no one thinks except yourself? Well, we can’t use the cabin anymore. Hoofer will be watching this.”<br>“‘ Disturb! Also a blow!” Mcturk said thoughtfully, unpacking the volumes with which his trunk was lined. The boys wore their libraries between their belt and collar. “Great job! This means that we are under suspicion until the end of the semester.”<br>“ Why? All heffey found was a cabin. He and foxy will be watching this. It has nothing to do with us; only we shouldn’t be seen that way for a while.”<br>“ Yes, and where else should we go? – Said the beetle. “You chose this place too… And… And i wanted to read this afternoon.”<br>Stalky sat on the table and drummed his heels on the form.<br>“ You’re a sad brute. Bug. Sometimes i think i’m going to have to give up on you altogether. Did you ever know that your uncle stalky has already forgotten you? His rebus infectis-after i saw heffi’s footprints marching around our hut, i found little hartopp-destricto ence-waving a butterfly net. I appeased hartopp. – Told him you’d read newspapers to bug hunters if he’d let you join, bug. – Told him you like butterflies, turkey. Anyway, i calmed the hartoffles down, and now we’re bug hunters.”<br>“ What’s good about that? Beetle asked.<br>“ Oh, turkey, kick him!”<br>In the interests of science, the boundaries have been largely relaxed for members of the natural history society. They could wander if they stayed away from all the houses, practically wherever they wanted; mr. Hartopp considered himself responsible for their good behavior.<br>Beetle began to understand this when mcturk started kicking.<br>“ I’m an ass, stalky!” He said, guarding the affected part. “Pax, turkey. I’m an ass.”<br>“ Don’t stop, turkey. Isn’t your uncle stalky a great man?”<br>“ A great man,” said the beetle.<br>“ Anyway, hunting bugs is a dirty business,” said makturk. “Where the hell does it all start?”<br>“ This way,” stalky said, turning to the faggot lockers behind him. “Faggots are smears in natural history. Here’s young braybrook’s botanical suitcase. – He threw out a ball of rotten roots and adjusted the slide. “I think it gives a person a boundless professional look. Here’s clay minor’s geological hammer. The beetle can take it. Turkey, you’d better get a butterfly net somewhere..”<br>“ I’ll be damned if i do,” mcturk said simply, with great feeling. “Bug, give me a hammer.”<br>“ It’s all right. I’m not proud of it. Throw us into the net on the lockers, stalky.”<br>“ It’s all right. This is also a collapsible party. These faggots are brutally gorgeous dogs. It is built like a fishing rod. “By my holy sam, but we look like complete bug hunters!” Now listen to your uncle stalky! We walk along the rocks for butterflies. Very few guys come there. We’re going to do it too. You’d better leave your book here.”<br>“ A little! ” The beetle said firmly. “I’m not going to lose my pleasure because of a bunch of dirty butterflies.”<br>“ Then you’ll sweat terribly. You’d better carry my jorrocks. It doesn’t make you any hotter.”<br>They were all sweating, because stalky led them at a brisk trot west along the cliffs under the hills covered with fluffy forest, crossing gorges one after another. They paid no attention to the flying rabbits or the fluttering fritillaries, and everything turkey said about geology was absolutely irrefutable.<br>“ Are we going to clovelly?”Finally he exhaled, and they collapsed on the short, springy grass between the sound of the sea below and the light summer breeze among the trees on land. They were looking at a grove half overgrown with old tall shrubs in cheerful bloom, which stretched to the edge of brambles and a dense forest of mixed wood and holly. It was as if half of the ridge was filled with golden fire all the way to the edge of the cliff. The side closest to them was covered with open grass and literally bristled with bulletin boards.<br>“ A splendid old cove, that’s it,” said stalky, reading the nearest one. “Prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. G.M. Dabney, colonel, j.P.” And everything else. “I don’t think any guy in his right mind would invade here, would he?””<br>“ You have to prove the damage before you can be held accountable for anything! ”I can’t hold you accountable for trespassing,” said mcturk, whose father owned many acres of land in ireland. “This is all nonsense!”<br>“ I’m glad of it, because it looks like what we wanted. Not directly, beetle, you blind madman! Anyone could have spotted us from half a mile away. This way; and roll up your nasty butterfly net.”<br>Beetle disconnected the ring, put the net in his pocket, secured the handle on a two-foot pole and put the cane ring on his belt. Stalky led inland to the forest, which was about a quarter of a mile from the sea, and reached the edge of the brambles.<br>“ Now we can go straight down through the thicket and never show up at all,” the tactician said. “Bug, go ahead and explore. Snf! Snf! Somewhere there was a terrible smell of a fox!”<br>On all fours, except when he was clinging to his glasses, beetle crawled into the gorse and soon announced between groans of pain that he had found a very good fox trail. This was good for the beetle, as stalky pinched him a little. They were crawling through this tunnel. Obviously, this was a road for the residents of combe; and, to their unspeakable joy, it ended at the very edge of the cliff with several square feet of dry turf surrounded by impenetrable gorse..<br>“ By gum! There’s nothing to do here except lie down,” stalky said, putting the knife in his pocket. “Look here!”<br>He parted the stiff stems in front of him, and it was like a window with a distant view of lundy and the deep sea lazily sniffing the pebbles a couple hundred feet below. They could hear the cries of young jackdaws on the ledges, the hissing and muttering of a hawk nest somewhere out of sight; and, with great care, stalky spat on the back of a young rabbit basking in the sun far below, where only a rock rabbit could find a foothold. Big grey and black gulls were shouting at jackdaws; the flower-scented acres around them were full of low-nesting birds, singing or falling silent as the shadow of circling hawks flew by and returned; and rabbits frolicked on the bare lawn on the other side of the ridge.<br>“ Phew! What a place! Let’s talk about natural history, that’s all,” stalky said, filling his pipe. “Isn’t it amazing? The good old sea!” He spat again approvingly and fell silent.<br>Mcturk and beetle took out their books and lay on their stomachs, propping their chins with their hands. The sea snored and gurgled; the birds, momentarily distracted by these new animals, returned to their business, and the boys continued to read in a rich, warm, sleepy silence.<br>“ Hello, there’s the goalkeeper,” stalky said, carefully closing the handley cross and peering into the jungle. A man with a gun appeared on the sky line in the east. “Damn him, he’s going to sit down.”<br>“ He’d swear we were poaching too,” beetle said. “What’s good about pheasant eggs? They are always confused too.”<br>“ I think we’d better go into the woods,” stalky said. “We don’t want g.M. Dabney, the colonel, j.P. To worry about us so soon. Shut up and be quiet! Maybe he was following us, you know.”<br>The beetle was already far away in the tunnel. They heard him gasp indescribably: there was a rumble of a heavy body rushing through the thicket.<br>“ Hey! You little red-haired scoundrel. I see you!”The keeper raised his gun to his shoulder and fired both barrels in their direction. Pellets sprinkled the dry stalks around them as the big fox dived between stalky’s legs and ran along the edge of the cliff.<br>They were silent until they reached the forest, ragged, disheveled, hot, but invisible.<br>“ A narrow squeak,” stalky said. “I could swear that some pellets got into my hair.”<br>“ Have you seen him? The beetle asked. “I almost raised my hand to him. Wasn’t he a whopper! Didn’t he stink! Hello, turkey, what’s the matter? Are you hurt?”<br>Mcturk’s lean face turned pearly white; his mouth, usually half-open, was tightly compressed, and his eyes sparkled. They had never seen him like this, except once during the sad time of the civil war.<br>“ Do you know that it was as bad as murder?” He said in a raspy voice, shaking the thorns off his head.<br>“ Well, he didn’t hit us,” stalky said. “I think it was more fun. Hey, where are you going?”<br>“ I’ll go up to the house if there is one,” mcturk said, pushing through a thicket of holly. “I’m going to tell this colonel dabney.”<br>“ Are you crazy? He’s ready to swear that it has served us well. He’ll report us. It will be a public licking. Oh, turkey, don’t be an ass! Think of us!”<br>“ You’re a fool! Mcturk said, turning savagely. “Do you think i’m thinking about us? This is the guardian.”<br>“ It’s broken,” beetle said miserably as they followed him. Indeed, it was a new turkey-haughty, angular, with an upturned nose-which they escorted through the bushes to the lawn, where a gray-bearded elderly gentleman with a click alternately laid, then violently blasphemed.<br>“ Are you colonel dabney? Mcturk began in his new raspy voice.<br>“ I… I, and… – His eyes went up and down the boy, – who… What the hell do you want? You’ve disturbed my pheasants. Don’t try to deny it. You don’t have to laugh about it.”(Mcturk’s not-so-pretty features twisted into a terrible grin at the word “pheasant.”) “You were a bird’s nest. You don’t have to hide your hat. I see that you belong to the college. Don’t try to deny it. You do! Your name and number at once, sir. You want to talk to me, right? Have you seen my bulletin boards? Must have. Don’t try to deny it. You did it! Damned, oh, damned!”<br>He was choking with emotion. Mcturk’s heel tapped on the lawn, and he stuttered slightly-two sure signs that he was losing his temper. But why should he, the abuser, be angry?<br>“ Lo-look here, sir. You… Are you shooting foxes? Because if you don’t, your guardian will. We saw him! I know-i don’t care what you call us-but it’s terrible. This destroys good relations between neighbors. A man should say once and for all how he feels about conservation. It’s worse than murder because there’s no legal remedy.” Mcturk was quoting his father haltingly, while the old gentleman was making guttural noises.<br>“ Do you know who i am? At last he stammered; the stalk and the beetle trembled.<br>“ No, i’m sorry, and i don’t care if you belonged to the castle itself. Answer me now, as one gentleman to another. Do you shoot foxes or not?”<br>And four years ago stalky and the beatle neatly kicked mcturk out of his irish dialect! Doubtless he has gone mad or had a sunstroke, and just as surely he will be killed-once by an old gentleman, and the other by his head. Publicly licking these three was the least they could expect. And yet-according to their eyes and ears-the old gentleman fainted. It may be the calm before the storm, but-<br>“ I don’t do that.”He was still gurgling.<br>“ Then you should fire your keeper. He is not worthy to live in the same neighborhood with a god-fearing fox. And a vixen, too-at this time of year!”<br>“ Did you come specifically to tell me that?”<br>“ Of course i did it, you stupid man,” with a stomping foot. “Wouldn’t you do the same for me if you saw how this is happening on my land now?”<br>Forgotten – forgotten was college and decency towards elders! Mcturk was walking again through the barren purple mountains of the rainy west coast, where during the holidays he was the viceroy of four thousand bare acres, the only son of a three-hundred-year-old house, the owner of a crazy fishing boat and the idol of his father’s incompetent tenants. He was a down-to-earth man addressing an equal-deep was calling out to deep-and the old gentleman answered the cry.<br>“ I apologize,” he said. “I offer my sincere apologies – to you and the old country. Now, would you be so kind as to tell me your story?”<br>“ We were in your combe,” mcturk began, and he told his story alternately as a schoolboy and, when the lawlessness of this case overcame him, as an indignant squire; in conclusion: “so you see that he must have a habit of it. I-we -no one ever wants to blame the man next door; but i took the liberty in this case-”<br>“ I understand. Exactly. For the reason you had. Infamous… Oh, infamous!”<br>The two were walking side by side on the lawn, and colonel dabney was talking like one person to another. “This is due to the promotion of the fisherman – the fisherman – from his lobster pots. This is enough to ruin the reputation of the archangel. Don’t try to deny it. So it is! Your father raised you well. He has. I would really like to have the pleasure of meeting him. Very much indeed. And these young gentlemen? They’re english. Don’t try to deny it. Did they come with you too? Extraordinary! Extraordinary, now! With the current state of education, i would not have thought that any three boys would be well-educated enough. But from the mouth… No, no! By no means. Don’t try to deny it. It’s not like that! Sherry always works on my liver, but… Beer, now? Eh? What do you say to a beer and something to eat? It’s been a long time since i was a boy-disgusting troubles; but exceptions confirm the rule. And a vixen, too!”They were fed on the terrace by a gray-haired housekeeper. Stalky and beetle were just eating, but mcturk, with shining eyes, continued a free and lofty conversation; and always the old gentleman treated him like a brother.<br>“ My dear man, of course you can come again. Didn’t i say that exceptions confirm the rule? Lower combe? Man, dear, wherever you please, as long as you don’t disturb my pheasants. These two concepts are not incompatible. Don’t try to deny it. It’s not like that! But i will never allow another gun to be used. Come and go as you please. I won’t see you, and you don’t need to see me. You’ve been brought up well. Another glass of beer, now? I tell you that he was a fisherman and will be a fisherman again tonight. He must! I wish i could drown him. I’ll take you to the gatehouse. My people aren’t exactly… Uh… Ruined for a boy, but they’ll get to know you again.”<br>He dismissed them with many compliments at the high gate of the gatehouse in the stockade of the park of split oak, and they froze; even stalky, who played the second, not to say stupid, violin, regarded mcturk as an alien from another world. Two glasses of strong home-brewed beer made the boy melancholy, because, walking slowly, with his hands in his pockets, he sang: “oh, paddy, dear, have you heard the news that is going around?”<br>Under other circumstances stalky and beetle would have attacked him, because this song was completely banned – anathema – the sin of witchcraft. But seeing what he had done, they danced around him in silence, waiting for him to touch the ground..<br>The tea bell rang when they were still half a mile from the college. Mcturk shuddered and woke up from his reverie. The glory of his country estate has left him. He was a college colleague and spoke english again.<br>“ Turkey, that was amazing! Stalky said magnanimously. “I didn’t know you had it in you. You’ve provided us with a hut for the rest of the semester where we simply can’t be caught. Feeds! Feeds! Oh, fids! I’m gloating! Hear me gloating!”<br>They spun wildly on their heels, joking in the conventional manner of “gloating”, which is not coincidentally associated with the triumphant song of primitive man, and descended the hill along the path from the gasometer just in time to meet their landlord, who spent the afternoon watching them an abandoned hut in “wuzzy.”<br>Unfortunately, mr. Prout’s whole imagination gravitated to the dark side of life, and he looked at these young-eyed cherubs in the most sour way. The boys he understood attended home games, and they could be counted out at any moment. But he had heard mcturk openly ridicule cricket-even home matches; the beatle’s views on home honour, which he knew were incendiary; and he could never tell when the soft and smiling stalky was laughing at him. Therefore, since human nature is what it is, these boys were doing wrong somewhere. He hoped it was nothing serious, but…<br>“ Ti-ra-ra-la-i-tu! I’m gloating! Hear me!” Stalky, still standing on his heels, spun like a dancing dervish into the dining room.<br>“ Ti-ra-la-la-i-tu! I’m gloating! Hear me!” The beetle turned around behind him with his arms outstretched.<br>“ Ti-ra-la-la-i-tu! I’m gloating! Hear me! Mcturk’s voice cracked.<br>So, was there or wasn’t there a distinct taste of beer as they whizzed past mr. Prout?<br>He was unlucky in that his conscience as a housekeeper prompted him to consult with his colleagues. If he had brought his pipe and his problems to little hartopp’s room, he might have been spared the confusion, because hartopp believed in boys and knew something about them. Fate led him to king, a fellow housemate who was not his friend, but was an ardent stalky & co hater..<br>“ A-haa!” Said king, rubbing his hands as the story was told. “Curious! Now my house has never dreamed of doing such things.”<br>“ But you see, i don’t have any proof, exactly.”<br>“ Proof? With a crying bug! As if someone wanted it! I suppose it’s not impossible for a sergeant to supply him? Foxy is considered, at least, a worthy rival of any evasive boy in my house. Of course, they were smoking and drinking somewhere. This type of guy always does that. They think it’s manly.”<br>“ But they don’t have any followers at school, and they’re clearly… Uh… They are cruel to their younger ones,” said prout, who saw from a distance how the beatle returned his butterfly net with interest to the tearful faggot.<br>“ Ah! They consider themselves above ordinary pleasures. Self-sufficient animals! There’s something about mcturk’s hibernian grin that annoys me a little. And they so diligently avoid all open actions. It’s just calculated arrogance. As you know, i am absolutely against trespassing; but they need a lesson, prout. They need a harsh lesson, if only to knock down their excessive conceit. If i were you, i would devote myself for a week to their little performances. Boys of this type-and i can flatter myself, but i think i know boys-don’t join bug hunters out of love. Tell the sergeant to keep his eyes open; and, of course, in my wanderings, i can also accidentally keep my eyes open.”<br>“ Ti-ra-la-la-i-tu! I’m gloating! Hear me!”Far down the corridor.<br>“ Disgusting! King said. “Where do they pick up these obscene sounds? One sharp lesson is what they want.”<br>The boys did not study for the next few days. They had the entire estate of colonel dabney at their disposal, and they explored it with the cunning of red indians and the precision of robbers. They could either enter through the gatehouse gate on the upper road-they were careful to ingratiate themselves with the watchman and his wife-go down into the gorge and return along the rocks; or they could start from the ridge and climb up to the road.<br>They tried not to get in the colonel’s way- he had served his turn, and they would not abuse their hospitality – and did not show up on the sky line when they could move in cover. The shelter in the gorge at the edge of the cliff was their favorite refuge. The beatle dubbed it the pleasant island of aves for its peace and shelter; and here, where pipes and tobacco were once stored on a convenient ledge at arm’s length from the rock, their position was legally impregnable.<br>For, mind you, colonel dabney did not invite them into his house. Therefore, they did not need to ask for special permission to visit; and the school rules were strict on this. He simply opened his domain to them; and, since they were legitimate insect hunters, their expanded boundaries extended to his bulletin boards in combe and the gates of his gatehouse on the hill.<br>They were amazed at their own virtue.<br>“ And even if it wasn’t,” stalky said, lying on his back and looking into the blue. “Even supposing we were miles out of reach, no one could get to us through this wazzi unless he knew the tunnel. Isn’t it better than lying right behind the call in a blue funk every time we smoke? Isn’t your uncle stalky-?”<br>“ No, – said the beetle – he stretched out on the edge of the cliff and thoughtfully spat. “We have to thank turkey for this. Turkey is a great man. Turkey, honey, you’re upsetting heffles..”<br>“ Gloomy old ass!” – Said mcturk, deep in the book.<br>“ They’re keeping us under suspicion,” stalky said. “Hoophats is so suspicious for some reason; and foxy always makes every outing something like… Like-”<br>“ A scalp,” said the beetle. “Foxy is a frivolous chingangook.”<br>“ Poor foxy,” stalky said. “He’s going to catch us one of these days. “He told me last night at the gym, ‘i’ve got my eye on you, mr. Corkran. I’m only warning you for your own good.’ Then i said: “well, you’d better take it off again, otherwise you’ll be in trouble. I’m only warning you for your own good.’ Foxy was the rage.”<br>“ Yes, but it’s only fair sport for foxy,” the beatle said. “It’s heffleling’s evil mind. – Don’t be surprised if he thought we were snuggled up tight.”<br>“ I’ve never been a squishy except once-it was on vacation,” stalky said thoughtfully, “and it made me terribly sick. But, by my holy sam, it’s enough to drive a man to drunkenness, having such an animal as a hoof as the owner of the house..”<br>“ If we were present at the matches and shouted: “good shot, sir,” and stood on one leg and grinned every time he spoke: “so great, my sons. Is it so?”And said: “yes, sir,” and “no, sir,” and “oh, sir,” and “please, sir,” like a lot of dirty guys, he would have a high opinion of us,” mcturk said with a grin.<br>“ It’s too late to start this.”<br>“ It’s all right. Heffleling wishes well. But he’s an ass. And we show him that we think he’s an ass. And that’s why he probably doesn’t like us. ”Told me last night after prayer that he was in the role of a parent,” the beetle grumbled.<br>“ What the hell did he do! Stalky exclaimed. – It means that he means “something unusual”. Last time, he told me that he gave me three hundred lines for dancing kachuka in dorm number ten. Loco parentis, by gum! But what are the chances while you’re fine? We’re fine.”<br>So it was, and their very rightness puzzled prout, king, and the sergeant. Boys with a guilty conscience show it. They slip past the fives court in a hurry and smile nervously when asked. They come back in a mess in minimal time to save time on a repeat call. They nod, wink and giggle at each other, scattering as the master approaches. But stalky and his allies have long outlived these manifestations of youth. They set off carelessly and returned in great shape after a light treat with strawberries and cream at the lodge.<br>The watchman of the gatehouse was promoted to watchman, the vice-fisherman is a killer, and his wife took care of the boys a lot. The man also gave them a squirrel, which they presented to the natural history society, thereby giving a check to little hartopp, who wanted to know what they were doing for science. Foxy conscientiously worked several deep alleys of devon behind a lonely hotel at a crossroads; and it was curious that prout and king, members of the common room who were rarely friends, walked together in the same direction, that is, to the northeast.<br>Now the pleasant island of aves lay directly to the southwest. “They’re deep, deep, willy-deep,” stalky said. “Why are they drawing these covers?”<br>“ Me,” the beatle said sweetly. “I asked foxy if he had ever tasted the beer there. That was enough for foxy, and it cheered him up a bit. He and heffie had been sniffing around our old cabin for so long that i thought they’d want a change..”<br>“ Well, it can’t last forever,” stalky said. “Heffi is gaining momentum like a thundercloud, and king is rubbing his beastly hands and grinning like a hyena. This shocks and demoralizes king. Someday it will burst.”<br>This day came a little earlier than they expected – it came when the sergeant, whose duties included collecting defaulters, did not show up for the afternoon roll call.<br>“ Tired of pubs, huh? He went up to the top of the hill with his binoculars to spot us,” stalky said. “It’s a wonder he didn’t think of it before. Did you see how old heffey squinted at us when we called our names? Heffey’s in on it, too. Ti-ra-la-la-i-tu! I’m gloating! Hear me! Let’s!”<br>“ Aves?” Said the beetle.<br>“ Sure, but i don’t smoke ojourdhui. Park, i really hope that we will be happy. We’ll walk along the rocks, slowly, and give foxy plenty of time to level us at the top.”<br>They headed for the baths and soon caught up with king. “Oh, don’t let me interrupt you,” he said. – Engaged in scientific research, of course? I hope you enjoy it, my young friends.”<br>“ You see! Stalky said when they were out of earshot. “He doesn’t know how to keep secrets. He’s chasing us to cut off our escape route. He’ll wait in the baths until hefi shows up. They’ve tried every blessed place except the rocks, and now they think they’ve locked us in a bottle. There is no need to hurry.”<br>They walked leisurely along the ridges until they reached a row of bulletin boards.<br>“ Listen to the shake. Foxy is in the wind, rushing down the hill like beans. When you hear him rustling in the bushes, go straight to aves. They want to catch us in the act.”<br>They plunged into the gorse thicket at right angles to the tunnel, openly crossing the grass, and stood waiting.<br>“ What did i tell you?” Stalky carefully put away his pipes and tobacco. The sergeant, out of breath, leaned against the fence, raking the thicket with binoculars, but he might as well have been trying to see something through a sandbag. Soon prout and king appeared behind him. They conferred.<br>“ Yeah! Foxy doesn’t like bulletin boards, and he doesn’t like barbs either. Now we’ll cut a tunnel and go to the gatehouse. Hi! They sent foxy into hiding.”<br>The sergeant was waist-deep in crackling, waving fur, his ears filled with the noise of his own progress. The boys reached the shelter in the forest and looked down through the holly thickets.<br>“ Infernal noise! Stalky said critically. “I don’t think colonel dabney would like that. I suggest we go to the lodge and get something to eat. We might as well see how much fun it would be.”<br>Suddenly a watchman trotted past them. “Who are they to rack their brains for lard? The owner will go crazy,” he said.<br>“ Just poachers,” stalky replied in the broad devonian that was his native tongue.<br>“ I’m luring them to rates!” He fell into a funnel-like ridge, which soon began to fill with sounds, in particular king’s voice, shouting: “go on, sergeant! Leave him alone, you, sir. He’s following my orders.”<br>“ Who are you to give advice here, red whiskers? You approach the master. Get out of this wazzy! [This is for the sergeant.] Yes, i think we know who you’re after. They have such long ears and plump bellies, and when they die, they will be in your pockets. Come to the master! He’ll do whatever you want with you. You, other people, stand by your side..”<br>“ Explain this to the owner. Can you explain, sergeant,” king shouted. Obviously, the sergeant surrendered to the main forces.<br>The beetle stretched out at full length on the lawn behind the gatehouse, literally biting the ground in convulsions of joy. Stalky kicked him to his feet. There was nothing frivolous about stalky or mcturk, except for the occasional twitch of a muscle on his cheek.<br>They knocked on the door of the gatehouse, where they were always welcome. “Come and sit down, my little darlings,” the woman said. “They will never touch my man. He will force them to improve. Iss fai! Fresh berries with cream. We dartmoor people never forget our friends. But these bidevor poachers, they don’t have a hem on their clothes. Sugar? My man dug up a badger for you, my dears. It’s in linhay, in a box.”<br>“ We’ll take you with us when we’re done here. I think you’re busy. We’ll stay here and… It’s laundry day for you and me, simley,” stalky said. “We are not the company for which it is worth doing everything possible. Never mind us. Yes. There’s a lot of cream.”<br>The woman left, wiping her pink hands on her apron, and left them in the living room. There was a shuffling of feet on the gravel behind the heavy leaded diamond panes, and then colonel dabney’s voice, clearer than the sound of a bugle.<br>“ Can you read? Do you have eyes in your head? Don’t try to deny it. You have!”<br>Beetle grabbed a crocheted antimacassar from a shiny horsehair sofa, put it in his mouth and rolled out of sight.<br>“ You’ve seen my bulletin boards. Your duty? Damn your insolence, sir. Your duty was to stay away from my territory. Talk to me about duty! Why-why-why, you bastard poacher, next time you’ll teach me the basics! Roaring like a bull out there in the bushes! Boys? Boys? Boys? Then keep your boys at home! I’m not responsible for your boys! But i don’t believe it-i don’t believe a single word of it. You have a furtive look-a furtive, sneaky, poaching look in your eyes that would destroy the reputation of an archangel! Don’t try to deny it! You have! Sergeant? Then even more shame on you, and this is the worst deal her majesty has ever made! Sergeant, to run around the country and poach – on your pension! Disgusting! Oh, damn it! But i’ll be careful. I will be merciful. I swear to god, i will be the very essence of humanity! Have you seen my bulletin boards or not? Don’t try to deny it! You did it. Shut up, sergeant!”<br>Twenty-one years in the army has left its mark on foxy. He obeyed.<br>“ Now. March!” The high gate of the gatehouse clanged shut. “My duty! The sergeant who tells me about my duty! Colonel dabney puffed. “Good fat! More sergeants!”<br>“ It’s the king! It’s king! Stalky swallowed, leaning his head back on a horsehair pillow. Mcturk was eating a rag carpet in front of a colorless fireplace, and the sofa was heaving with bug’s emotions. Through the thick glass, the figures outside seemed blue, distorted and menacing.<br>“ I… I protest against this outrage.”King was obviously running up the hill. “This man was fully fulfilling his duty. Let… Let me give you my business card.”<br>“ He’s wearing flannel trousers!” Stalky lowered his head again.<br>“ Unfortunately-most unfortunately-i don’t have it with me, but my name is king, sir, i am the college’s housekeeper, and you will see that i am ready-fully ready-to answer for this man’s act. We’ve seen three-”<br>“ Have you seen my bulletin boards?”<br>“ I admit we did, but under the circumstances-”<br>“ I stand in the place of the parent.Prout’s deep voice was added to the discussion. They could hear him breathing heavily..<br>“ For what?”Colonel dabney was becoming more and more irish.<br>“ I am responsible for the boys under my care.”<br>“ You, aren’t you? Then all i can say is that you set them a very bad example-a damn bad example, if i may say so. I don’t own your boys. I haven’t seen your boys, and i’m telling you that if there was a boy grinning in every bush in this place, you still don’t have a shadow of a right here, to climb from the ridge in that direction and scare everything around. Don’t try to deny it. You did it. You should have come to the lodge and looked at me like a christian instead of chasing your damn boys up and down my blankets. Are you in the role of a parent? Well, i haven’t forgotten my latin either, and i’ll tell you: “quis custodiet ipsos custodes”. If the owners invade someone else’s territory, how can we blame the boys?”<br>“ But if i could talk to you alone,” prout said.<br>“ I won’t have anything personal with you! You can be as private as you please on the other side of these gates, and i wish you a very good day.”<br>The gate clanged a second time. They waited until colonel dabney returned to the house and threw themselves into each other’s arms, shouting loudly to catch their breath.<br>“ Oh, my soul! Oh, my king! Oh, my heffy! Oh, my little fox! Diligence, diligence itself, mr. Simple.” Stalky wiped his eyes. “Oh! Oh! Oh! – “I really cooked the exciseman!”We need to get out of this, otherwise we’ll be late for tea.”<br>“ Gee-gee – take a badger and make little hartopp happy. Ma-ma-make them all happy,” sobbed mcturk, groping for the door and kicking the bug prostrate in front of him.<br>They found the beast in a foul-smelling box, left two half-crowns as payment, and staggered home. Only the badger grunted in the most wonderful way, like colonel dabney, and they dropped him twice or thrice with howls of helpless laughter. They hadn’t quite come to their senses when foxy met them at fives court with the word that they should go up to their bedroom and wait until they were sent for.<br>“ Well, then take this box to mr. Hartopp’s room. Anyway, we did something for the natural history society,” said beetle.<br>“’ I’m afraid that won’t save you, young gentlemen,” foxy replied in a terrible voice. He was very disheveled in his thoughts.<br>“ Everything is sereno, foxxibus.”Stalky has reached the extreme stage of hiccups. “We are… We will never leave you, foxy. Dogs chopping foxes in hiding is more proof of vice, isn’t it?… No, you’re right. I am… I’m not completely healthy.”<br>“ They’ve gone too far this time,” foxy thought to himself. “I would say that everything went very far, except that there was no smell of alcohol. And yet it’s not like them-somehow. The king and prout, they dress just like me. That’s one consolation.”<br>“ Now we have to pull ourselves up,” stalky said, getting up from the bed he had thrown himself on. “We are offended by innocence – as usual. We don’t know why we were sent here, do we?”<br>“ No explanation. Deprived of tea. A public disgrace in front of the house of representatives,” mcturk said, his eyes darting. “This is pretty damn serious.”<br>“ Well, wait until king loses his temper,” the beetle said. “He is an old slanderer, and he will be in a madhouse. Prout is too brutally careful. Keep an eye on king and, if he gives us a chance, refer to the chapter. It always makes them sick.”<br>They were called into the master of the house’s office, king and foxy were supporting prout, and foxy had three canes under her arm. King grinned triumphantly, because there were tears on the boys’ cheeks, unfilled tears of mirth. Then the inspection began.<br>Yes, they were walking along the rocks. Yes, they entered colonel dabney’s territory. Yes, they saw the bulletin boards (at that moment the beetle hissed hysterically). For what purpose did they enter colonel dabney’s territory? “Well, sir, there was a badger.”<br>Here king, who hated the natural history society because he didn’t like hartopp, couldn’t hold back any longer. He begged them not to add lies to open insolence. But the badger was in mr. Hartopp’s rooms, sir. The sergeant kindly took it upon himself. This got rid of the badger, and a temporary check brought king’s character to a boiling point. They could hear his footsteps on the floor as prout prepared his clumsy questions. Now they have entered into a familiar rhythm. Their eyes had stopped shining; their faces were blank; their hands hung motionless beside them. They learned, at the expense of a compatriot, the lesson of their race, which is to discard all emotions and lure the alien into a trap at the right time.<br>So far, so good. King intervened more freely in the process, showing vindictiveness where prout was upset. Did they know about the punishment for trespassing? With a perfect demonstration of indecision, stalky admitted that he had gathered some information vaguely relevant to this chapter, but he thought the offer was stretched to the limit: stalky did not want to play his trump card with such an opponent. Mr. King didn’t want any buts, and he wasn’t interested in stalky’s evasions. They, on the other hand, may be interested in his bad views. The boys who crept-who crept-who hid-beyond the boundaries, even the generous boundaries of the natural history society, which they falsely joined to cover up their misdeeds-their vices-their villainies-their immorality-<br>“ He’ll be out of hiding in a minute, stalky told himself. “Then we’ll run into him before he leaves.”<br>Such boys, rude boys, moral lepers-the flow of his words knocked king off his feet-slanderous, liars, slow-witted-yes, novice drunkards…<br>He was just getting ready to perform, and the boys knew it; but mcturk cut off the phrase, and the others repeated it:<br>“ I’m addressing the chapter, sir.”<br>It was their indisputable right. Drunkenness meant exile after a public flogging. They were accused of it. This case belonged to the head, and only the head.<br>“ You have called to caesar: to caesar you will go.”They’ve heard this sentence once or twice in their career. “Nevertheless,” king said with concern, “i would advise you to obey our decision, my young friends.”<br>“ Are we allowed to communicate with the rest of the school until we see the principal, sir? Mcturk said to his housekeeper, ignoring king. This immediately raised the situation to the highest level. Moreover, it meant no work, since moral leprosy was strictly isolated, and the head never carried out the sentence earlier than after twenty-four cold hours.<br>“ Well… Uh… If you persist in your defiant behavior,” king said, looking lovingly at the canes under foxy’s arm. “There is no alternative.”<br>Ten minutes later, the news spread all over the school. Stalky and company finally fell-fell from drinking. They were drunk. They came back drunk out of the hut. They were even now lying hopelessly drunk on the dorm floor. A few daredevils crept up to look and received boots on the head from the criminals.<br>“ We caught him – impaled on a tail fork for toasting toast!Stalky said, after these hints were accepted. “King will have to prove his accusations to a dizzying degree.”<br>“ Too much tickling and it will burst,” the beatle quoted from a book he was reading. “Didn’t i say it would burst if we were delayed?”<br>“ And no training, oh you budding drunks,” mcturk said, “and besides, it’s trigonometry night. Hi! And here’s our dear friend foxy. New tortures, foxxibus?”<br>“ I’ve brought you something to eat, young gentlemen,” the sergeant said from behind an overflowing tray. Their wars had always been waged without malice, and foxy had a fleeting suspicion that the boys who had let themselves be tracked down so easily might have something in store. Foxy served during the mutiny, when timely and accurate information was worth a lot.<br>“ I… I noticed you didn’t have anything to eat, and i talked to gumbley, and he said you weren’t completely out of supplies. That’s why i brought it up. That’s your potted tin, isn’t it, mr. Corkran?”<br>“ Well, foxybus, you’re a brick,” stalky said. “I didn’t think you had so much… How should i put it, bug?”<br>“ Intestines,” the beetle quickly replied. “Thank you, sergeant. But this is ham in pots from young carter.”<br>“ It had the letter “s” on it. I thought it belonged to mr. Corkran. This is a very serious matter, young gentlemen. That’s what it is. Maybe i didn’t know, but maybe there’s something on your part that you didn’t tell mr. King or mr. Prout, maybe.”<br>“ There is. A bunch, foxybus.”It’s from stalky through a full mouth.<br>“ Then, you see, if that were the case, it seemed to me that i could imagine it, so to speak, quietly, for ead when he asks me about it. I have to drop the charges against him tonight, and at first glance it looks bad..”<br>“’ Trocius is bad, foxy. Twenty-seven cuts in the gym in front of the whole school and a public expulsion. ”Wine is a mockery, strong drinks are rabies,” said the beetle.<br>“ There’s nothing to laugh at, young gentlemen. I have to go to court with charges. And… And you may not know that i was following you this afternoon; i had suspicions.”<br>“ Have you seen the bulletin boards? Mcturk croaked in a colonel dabney accent.<br>“ You have eyes in your head. Don’t try to deny it. You did it! ” Said the beatle.<br>“ Sergeant! To poach on your pension! Damned, oh damned! ” Stalky said mercilessly.<br>“ Dear god! ” Said the sergeant, sinking heavily on the bed. “Where… Where the hell have you been? I might have guessed it was done somewhere.”<br>“ Oh, you clever maniac!” Stalky continued. “We might not have known that you were following us this afternoon, right? “I thought you were following us, huh?” Of course, we dragged you into this. Colonel dabney- don’t you think he’s a good man, foxy?”Colonel dabney is our beloved friend. We went there for weeks, he invited us. You and your duty! Damn your duty, sir! It was your duty to stay away from him.”<br>“ You’ll never be able to hold your head up high again, foxy. The faggots will hoot at you,” said the beatle.<br>“ Think about your dizzying prestige!” The sergeant was thinking hard.<br>“ Look here, young gentlemen,” he said seriously. “You’re probably never going to tell, are you? Weren’t mr. Prout and mr. King involved in this, too?”<br>“ Foxibusculus, they were. They were-extremely terrible. Caught it worse than you. We heard every word he said. Considering that, you got off easy. If i was dabney, i swear i’d beat you up. I think i’ll offer it to him tomorrow..”<br>“ And all this is on the wane. Oh, dear god!”<br>“ Every giddy word, my chingangook,” said the beetle, dancing. “Why not? We didn’t do anything wrong. We are not poachers. We didn’t talk about vilifying the characters of poor, innocent boys – saying they were drunk.”<br>“ I didn’t do that,“ foxy said… I just said that you’re acting strangely weird when you come back with that badger. Mr. King may have misunderstood the hint from this.”<br>“’ Of course he did, and he’ll happily dump all the blame on you when he realizes he was wrong. We know king, if you don’t know that. I’m ashamed of you. You’re not fit to be a sergeant,” mcturk said.<br>“ Not with three such notorious young devils like you. I was fooled. I was ambushed. Mounted, on foot and with weapons, they got me, and… And after that there will be no junior classes. Rover, the police will send me with a note to colonel dabney to ask if what you said about the invitation is true.”<br>“ Then this time you’d better go in through the gatehouse gate instead of chasing your lady-boys… Oh, it was a message to king… And so it was. Are we ale, foxy? Stalky rested his chin on his hands and looked at the victim with deep admiration.<br>“ Ti-ra-la-la-i-tu! I’m gloating! Hear me! Mcturk said. “Foxy used to bring us tea when we were morally lepers. Foxy has a heart. Foxy also served in the army.”<br>“ I wish you were in my company, young gentlemen,” the sergeant said from the depths of his heart. “I would give you something”.<br>“Silence in the drum head military tribunal,” mcturk continued. “I’m the prisoner’s lawyer; and besides, it’s too good to tell all the other animals in the call. They’ll never understand. They play cricket and say, “yes, sir,” and “oh, sir,” and “no, sir.’”<br>“ Don’t pay any attention to it. Come on,” stalky said.<br>“ Well, foxy is a good guy when he doesn’t think he’s smart.”<br>“‘ Don’t waste your ounces on werry windy day,” stalky chimed in. “I don’t care if you let him go or not.”<br>“ And so am i,” the beetle said. “Heffi is my only joy-heffi and the king.”<br>“ I have to do it,” the sergeant said plaintively.<br>“ That’s right, oh! Taken away by bad comrades in the performance of their duty or… Or something like that. You’re fired with a reprimand, foxy. We won’t talk about you. I swear we won’t do it,” concluded makturk. “It’s bad for discipline at school. Terribly bad.”<br>“ Well,” said the sergeant, gathering up the tea things, “knowing what i know about the young gentlemen of the college, i am very glad to hear it. But what should i say to this idiot?”<br>“ Whatever you want, foxy. We are not criminals.”<br>To say that the boss was annoyed when the sergeant appeared after lunch with a report on crimes for the day would be an understatement.<br>“ Corkran, mcturk and company, i see. Borders, as usual. Hi! What the hell is this? Suspicion of drunkenness. Whose accusation??”<br>“ Mr. King, sir. I caught them out of reach, sir: at least that’s what it looked like. But there’s a lot more, sir.”The sergeant was clearly alarmed.<br>“ Go on,” said the head. “Give us your version.” He and the sergeant had been dealing with each other for about seven years; and the director knew that mr. King’s statements largely depend on mr. King’s character.<br>“ I thought they were out of range along the cliffs. But it turned out that it wasn’t, sir. I saw them enter colonel dabney’s wood, and… Mr. King and mr. Prout came, and the fact is, sir, colonel dabney’s men took us for poachers-mr. King, mr. Prout, and me. There were a few words, sir, from both sides. The young gentlemen somehow slipped away from me, and they seemed very cheerful, sir. Colonel dabney himself took mr. King for a strict one-colonel dabney was strict. Then they chose to address you directly, sir, because… What mr. King may have said about their abilities afterwards in mr. Prout’s office. I just said they were very funny, laughing and giggling, and a little taller than themselves. They have since told me, sir, in a jocular way, that colonel dabney invited them to go into the woods.”<br>“ I understand. Surely they didn’t tell their landlord about it?”<br>“ They filed an appeal against mr. King as soon as he started talking about theirs… Appeal immediately, sir, and ask to be sent to the dorm to wait for you. Since then i have realized, sir, in their humorous way, sir, that somehow they have heard about every word that colonel dabney said to mr. King and mr. Prout when he mistook them for poachers. I… I could have guessed when they led me to believe that they were using an internal the communication line. This… It’s easy to do, sir, if you ask me; and they gloat over it in the dorm.”<br>The chief saw-saw even to the last farthing-and his mouth twitched slightly under his mustache.<br>“ Send them to me immediately, sergeant. This matter does not need to be postponed.”<br>“ Good evening,” he said when all three appeared under escort. “I need your close attention for a few minutes. You’ve known me for five years, and i’ve known you for twenty-five. I think we understand each other perfectly. Now i’m going to give you a huge compliment (please, brown, sergeant. Thanks. You don’t have to wait). I’m going to execute you without any rhyme, bug, or reason. I know you went to colonel dabney’s covers because you were invited. I am not even going to send a sergeant with a note to ask if your statement is true; because i am convinced that in this case you strictly adhered to the truth. I also know you haven’t been drinking. (You can remove that virtuous expression, mcturk, or i’ll start to fear that you don’t understand me.) There is not a single flaw in any of your characters. And that’s why i’m going to commit a blatant injustice. Your reputation has suffered, hasn’t it? You were disgraced in front of the house of representatives, weren’t you? You are especially sensitive to the honor of your house, aren’t you? Well, now i’m going to lick you.”<br>Six for each-that was their share of the word.<br>“ And i think that this,” the headman put the cane back in its place and threw the written accusation into the wastebasket, “explains the situation. When you find a deviation from the norm – this will be useful to you in later life – always meet it in an abnormal way. And that reminded me. There’s a whole stack of paperback books on that shelf. You can borrow them if you put them back. I don’t think there will be any harm to them from being read in the open. They rather smell of tobacco. You’re going to prep class. Tonight, as usual. Good night,” said this amazing man.<br>“ Good night, and thank you, sir.”<br>“ I swear i’m going to pray for my head tonight,” the beetle said. “Those last two cuts were just clicks on my collar. There is a ‘monte cristo’ on the bottom shelf. I’ve seen it. – Me, the next time we go to aves!”<br>“ Dear man! Mcturk said. “There is no strobing. No impotents. No stupid questions. Everything is settled. Hi! Why does king go to him-king and prout?”<br>Whatever the nature of this interview, it did not improve the ruffled feathers of either king or prout, because when they left the head’s house, the eyes noticed that one was red-blue with excitement about his nose, and the other was sweating profusely. This sight more than compensated them for the imperial jaw they used on these two. It seems – and who is as surprised as they are?- That they withheld essential facts; were guilty of both suppressio veri and suggestio falsi (well-known gods against whom they often insulted); further, that they were malicious in their character, unreliable in their characters, pernicious and revolutionary in their influences, left to the devils of waywardness, pride and the most unbearable vanity. Ninth, and finally, they had to be careful and be very careful.<br>They were careful, as only boys can be careful when they need to hurt. They waited a suffocating week for prout and king to be themselves again; they waited for a home game-also their own-in which prout took part; we waited, further, until he had his pads in the pavilion and was ready to go out. King was hammering on the window, and all three of them were sitting on a bench outside.<br>Said stalky to the beatle: “i say, beetle, quis custodet ipsos custodes?”<br>“ Don’t ask me,” the beetle said. “I won’t have anything personal with you. You can be as private as you please at the other end of the bench; and i wish you a very good day.”<br>Mcturk yawned.<br>“ Well, you should have come to the lodge like christians instead of chasing your guys all over the length and breadth of my blankets. I think all these home games are rotten. Let’s go to colonel dabney and see if he’s caught any more poachers.”<br>Joy reigned in aves that day.<br>Slaves of the lamp<br>The music room on the top floor of number five was filled with the aladdin troupe at rehearsal. Dixon quart, commonly known as dick four, was aladdin, director, choreographer, half of the orchestra and largely librettist, as the “book” was rewritten and filled with local allusions. The pantomime was to take place next week in the study on the ground floor, which was occupied by aladdin, abanazar and the emperor of china. The “slave of the lamp”, together with princess badrulbadur and the widow twank, owned office number five on the same landing, so that the company could be easily assembled. The floor shook to the rhythm of the ballet, while aladdin, in pink cotton tights, a blue tinsel jacket and a plumed hat, pounded alternately on the piano and his banjo. He was the driving spirit of the game, as befits a high school student who had been pre-selected for the army and hoped to enroll at sandhurst next spring.<br>Aladdin finally came to his senses, abanazar was lying poisoned on the floor, the widow twankai danced her dance, and the troupe decided that “everything will be fine this night.”.”<br>“ What about but the last song?”Said the emperor, a tall, fair-haired boy with a ghostly mustache, which he pulled manfully. “We need a rousing old tune.”<br>“‘ John peel? ”Drink, puppy, drink”? Abanazar suggested, smoothing out his baggy lilac pajamas. “Pussy” abanazar never looked more than half awake, but he had a soft, slow smile that was well suited to the role of an evil uncle.<br>“ Callous,” aladdin said. “You might as well take a ‘grandfather clock’. What’s that thing you were humming in prep? Last night, stalky?”<br>Stalky, the slave of the lamp, in a black leotard and doublet, with a black silk half mask on his forehead, was lazily whistling, lying on the piano lid. It was a catchy tune from a music hall.<br>Dick the fourth cocked his head critically to one side and narrowed his big red nose.<br>“ One more time and i’ll be able to pick it up,” he said, strumming. “Sing the words.”<br>“ Arra, patsy, look after the baby! Arra, patsy, look after the baby! Wrap him in a coat, he’s probably going crazy! Arra, patsy, look after the baby! Just look after the baby for a bit! He will kick, bite and cry all night! Arra, patsy, look after the baby!”<br>“ Ripples! Oh, cool! ”Said dick four. “Only we won’t have any piano this evening. We have to work with the banjo – play and dance at the same time. You try it, tertius.”<br>The emperor threw aside his polka-green state sleeves and followed dick the fourth on a heavy nickel-plated banjo..<br>“ Yes, but i was dead the whole time.. And in the center of the stage, too,” abanazar said.<br>“ Oh, it’s a bug business,” dick four said. “Make it a vampire, bug. Don’t keep us waiting all night. You have to somehow pull the pussy out of the light and make us all dance at the end..”<br>“ All right. You two, play it again,” said the beatle, who, in a gray skirt and a wig of brown sausage curls, planted obliquely over glasses darned with an old shoelace, represented the widow twankey. He was waving one leg in time to the chased chorus, and the banjos were getting louder.<br>“ Em! Ah! Uh… ”Aladdin has now won his wife,” he sang, and dick the fourth repeated it.<br>“‘ Your emperor is pacified.” Tertius puffed out his chest as he uttered his remark.<br>“ Now jump, pussy! Say, “i think i’d better get back to life!’ Then we all join hands and come forward: “we hope you are all satisfied.” Twiggez-vous?”<br>“ No twiggons. Good enough. What is the chorus for the final ballet? It’s four strokes and a turn,” dick four said.<br>“ Oh! Er!<br>John short will bring down the curtain. And ring the prompter’s bell; we hope you know before you leave that we all wish you all the best..”<br>“ Ripples! Ripples! Now about the widow’s scene with the princess. Hurry up, turkey.”<br>Mcturk, in a purple silk skirt and a flirtatious blue turban, slouched as if he was very ashamed of himself. The lamp slave got off the piano and kicked it dispassionately. ”Play along, turkey,” he said. “This is serious.“ But then there was an imperious knock on the door. It so happened that it was a king in a robe and mortar, enjoying a saturday evening walk before dinner.<br>“ Locked doors! Locked doors! He snapped, frowning. “What is the meaning of this; and what, may i ask, is the intention of this-this epic outfit?”<br>“ Pantomime, sir. The head gave us a vacation,” abanazar said, as the only interested member of the sixth committee. Dick four stood firmly on his feet with the confidence born of well-fitting tights, but the beatle tried to hide behind the piano. The princess’s gray skirt, borrowed from the mother of a day-old boy, and the spotted cotton bodice, haphazardly stuffed with wrapping paper, look ridiculous. And in other respects, the beetle had a guilty conscience.<br>“ As usual! “Useless stupidity just when your career, whatever it is, is hanging by a thread. I see! Ah, i understand! The old gang of criminals-the allied forces of disorder-corkran,” the lamp slave smiled politely, “mcturk,” the irishman frowned, “and, of course, the ineffable bug, our friend gigadibs.”Abanazar, the emperor and aladdin had more or less characters, and king ignored them. “Come out, my ink jester, because of that musical instrument over there! I assume you supply doggerel for this entertainment. Consider yourself, so to speak, a poet?”<br>“ He found one of them,” thought beetle, noticing the blush on king’s cheekbones.<br>“ I have just had the pleasure of reading your outpouring to me, i believe-an outpouring intended for rhyme. So… So you despise me, master gigadibs, don’t you? I understand perfectly well-you don’t need to explain-that this was supposedly not intended for my edification. I read it with a laugh-yes, with a laugh. These paper balls with ink boys-we are still boys, master gigadibs-do not disturb my peace of mind.”<br>“ I wonder what it was,” thought the beetle. He has released many lampoons to a grateful public since he discovered that it is possible to convey a reproach in rhyme.<br>As a sign of his unflappable calm, king began to slowly tear the beetle, which he called gigadibs, apart. Starting with untied shoelaces and ending with repaired glasses (the poet’s life in a big school is difficult), he exposed him to the ridicule of his colleagues – with the usual result. His wild flowers of speech-king had an unpleasant tongue-eventually restored his good mood. He painted an ominous picture of the last end of the beatle as an obscene pamphleteer dying in the attic, scattered a few compliments to mcturk and korkren, and, reminding the beatle that he should stand trial when he was called, went to the common room, where he again triumphed over his victims.<br>“ And the worst part,” he explained loudly over soup, “is that i waste such pearls of sarcasm on their stupid heads. I’m sure it’s miles above them.”<br>“ V-ell,” the school chaplain said slowly, “i do not know how corkran assesses your style, but young mcturk reads ruskin for entertainment.”<br>“ Nonsense! He does it to show off. I don’t trust the dark celt.”<br>“ He doesn’t do anything like that. One evening i went unofficially to their office, and mcturk was pasting the back of four odd numbers of “force claviger”.’”<br>“ I don’t know anything about their personal lives,” the master of mathematics said hotly, “but i’ve learned the hard way that it’s better to leave students number five alone. They are completely soulless young devils.”<br>He blushed, and the others laughed.<br>But there was anger and profanity in the music room. Only stalky, the slave of the lamp, lay motionless on the piano.<br>“ That little pig manders minor must have shown him your stuff. He’s always sucking up to king. Go and kill him,” he drawled. “Which one was it, a bug?”<br>“ I don’t know,” the beetle said, disentangling himself from the skirt. “There was one about him hunting for popularity among little boys, and the other was about him in hell telling the devil he was a balliol man. I swear ’ they both rhymed well. Oh, my god! P’raps manders minor showed him both! I’ll fix his caesura for him.”<br>He went down two flights of stairs, lowered a small pink and white boy in the classroom next to king’s office, which, again, was directly under his own, and chased him down the hallway to the classroom. For the festivities of the lower third. From there he returned in complete confusion and found mcturk, stalky and the rest of the company in his office enjoying an unlimited “brew”-coffee, cocoa, rolls, fresh bread, hot and steaming, sardines, sausage, ham and tongue pate, sardines, three jams and at least as many pounds devonshire cream.<br>“ My hat!” He said, rushing to the feast. “Who’s stumped over this, stalky?” It was within a month of the end of the semester, and for several weeks there was complete hunger in the educational institution.<br>“ You,” stalky said serenely.<br>“ Damn you! So you didn’t sort my sunday bags?”<br>“ Don’t let your hair down. It’s just your watch.”<br>“ Look! I lost it-a few weeks ago. There, in the burrows, when we tried to shoot the old ram-the day our gun exploded.”<br>“ It fell out of your pocket (you’re so brutally careless, beatle), and mcturk and i saved it for you. I’ve been wearing it for a week and you haven’t noticed. Took him to bideford this afternoon. Got thirteen shillings and sevenpence. Here’s the ticket.”<br>“ Well, that’s pretty average cool,” abanazar said over a plate of cream and jam, while the beatle, confident in the safety of his sunday trousers, did not even show surprise, let alone indignation. Indeed, it was mcturk who got angry, saying:<br>“ Did you give him a ticket, stalky? Did you pawn it? You are a notorious beast! Why, last month you and the beatle sold mine! – I’ve never sniffed any ticket.”<br>“ Oh, that’s because you locked your trunk and we spent half the day trying to open it. We could have pawned it if you had behaved like a christian, turkey.”<br>“ My aunt! Abanazar said. – You guys are communists. A vote of thanks to the beatle, though.”<br>“ It’s terribly unfair,” stalky said, “when i took all the trouble to pawn it. The beatle never knew he had a watch. Oh, i say, the egg bunnies dropped me off at bideford this afternoon.”<br>Egg rabbits were a local carrier – an outcrop of the early devonian formation. It was stalky who came up with his ugly name. “He was pretty average drunk, otherwise he wouldn’t have done it. Egg rabbits are a little shy of me for some reason. But i swore there was a pax between us, and i gave him a shilling. He went to two pubs on the way, so he’s going to be howling drunk tonight. Oh, don’t start reading, beetle; there’s a council of war going on. What the hell happened to your collar?”<br>“’ Chivied manders invaded the lower third storeroom. ”All his nasty little friends were on top of me,” the beatle said from behind a can of sardines and a book.<br>“ You’re an ass! Any fool could tell you where manders is going to sleep,” mcturk said.<br>“ I wasn’t thinking,” beetle said meekly, scooping sardines with a spoon.<br>“ Of course you didn’t. You never do that. – Mcturk furiously adjusted the collar of the beetle. “Don’t spill oil on my “forces”, or i’ll scratch you!”<br>“ Shut up, you irish whore! ’ These are not your nasty “forces”. This is one of mine.”<br>The book was a thick brown-bound volume from the late sixties, which king once threw at the beatle’s head so that he would understand where the name gigadibs came from. Beetle imperceptibly attached the book and saw… A few things. The poems, understood by a quarter, lived and ate with him, as evidenced by the pages folded into a ball. He got away from the whole world, drifting free with amazing men and women, until mcturk hit him on the head with a sardine spoon and he growled.<br>“ The bug! King oppresses you, insults and mocks you. Don’t you feel it?”<br>“ Leave me alone! I suppose i can write some more poems about him, if that’s the case, i suppose.”<br>“ Crazy! Completely crazy! Stalky said to the visitors, like a man demonstrating strange beasts. “Beatle reads a donkey named browning, and mcturk reads a donkey named ruskin; and-”<br>“ Ruskin is not an ass,” mcturk said. “He’s almost as good as someone who uses opium. He says: “we are children of noble races, brought up by the surrounding art.” This concerns me and how i decorated the office when you two badgers would have put up brackets and christmas cards. A child of a noble race, brought up by the surrounding art, stop reading, or i’ll stick a sardine in your neck.!”<br>“ Two to one,” stalky said warningly, and beetle closed the book, obeying the law under which he and his comrades had lived for six years.<br>The visitors looked at it in delight. Room five had a reputation for being more diverse and insane than the rest of the school put together.; And, since his code allowed friendship with outsiders, he was polite and open to his neighbors on the same landing.<br>“ What kind of nonsense do you want now? Beetle asked.<br>“ The king! The war!” Mcturk said, jerking his head towards the wall where a small wooden west african war drum hung, a gift to mcturk from a sailor uncle.<br>“ Then we’ll be kicked out of the office again,” said the beetle, who loved his meat pots. “Mason kicked us out for just talking about it.” Mason was a math master who testified in the common room.<br>“ Trills?- Oh, my god! Abanazar said. “We didn’t hear us talking in our office when you were playing that infernal thing. Anyway, what’s the good of being kicked out of your office?”<br>“ We also lived in a classroom for a week,” the beetle said tragically. “And it was terribly cold.”<br>“ Yeah, but mason’s rooms were full of rats every day when we weren’t home. It took him a week to make that conclusion,” mcturk said. “He hates rats.” ’As soon as he let us go, the rats stopped. Mason is a little shy of us now, but there was no proof.”<br>“ “It’s a good thing he wasn’t there,” stalky said, “when i got out on the roof and threw those nasty things down his chimney. But, listen, the question is, are our characters good enough now to withstand the training series?”<br>“ Don’t mind mine,” the beatle said. “King swears i don’t have any.”<br>“ I’m not thinking about you,” stalky replied contemptuously. “You’re not going to join the army, you old bat. I don’t want to be expelled – and the director is also starting to feel shy about us.”<br>“ Rot! Mcturk said. “The head never expels, except for meanness or theft. But i forgot; you and stalky are thieves-ordinary robbers.”<br>The customers gasped, but stalky interpreted the parable with a broad grin.<br>“ Well, you know, that little animal manders minor saw me and beatle opening mcturk’s trunk in the dorm when we picked up his watch last month. Of course, manders made his way to mason, and mason solemnly took it as a theft to get even with us for the rats.”<br>“ It just put mason in our frivolous hands,” mcturk said politely. “We were kind to him because he was a new master and wanted to gain the boys’ trust. – It is a pity, however, that he draws conclusions. Stalky went to his office and pretended to cry, and told mason that he would start a new life if mason let him go this time, but mason did not. – Said that it was his duty to report him to the boss.”<br>“ Vindictive pig! ”Said the beetle. “It was all those rats! Then i burst into tears too, and stalky confessed that he had been stealing regularly for six years since he came to school; and that i had taught him-a la fagin. Mason turned pale with joy. He thought he had us on toast.”<br>“ That’s great! That’s great! Dick four said. “We’ve never heard of it.”<br>“’ Of course not. Mason kept this in utter silence. He wrote down all our statements on impotent paper. There was nothing he didn’t believe,” stalky said..<br>“ And he handed it all over to the head with an impromptu prayer. It took about forty pages,” said beetle. “I helped him a lot.”<br>“ And then, you crazy idiots?” – Said abanazar.<br>“ Oh, they sent for us; and stalky asked for the “testimony” to be read, and the head threw him into the wastebasket. Then he gave us eight cuts apiece-for-for-unheard-of liberties with the new owner. I saw how his shoulders were shaking when we left. Did you know,” the beetle said thoughtfully, “that mason can’t look at us now in second period without blushing? The three of us sometimes stare at him until he regularly starts oozing. He’s a terribly sensitive animal.”<br>“ He read “eric, or little by little,” mcturk said, “so we gave him “st. Winifred, or the world of school.’They spent all their free time stealing from the church of st. Winifred, when they weren’t praying or getting drunk in pubs. Well, it was only a week ago, and the head is a little shy of us. He called it constructive devilry. Stalky made it all up.”<br>“ There’s nothing good in quarreling with the owner unless you can make him look like an ass,” stalky said, stretching out casually on the hearthrug. “If mason didn’t know number five, well, he found out, that’s all. And now, my dearly beloved ”earwigs“, – stalky tucked his legs under him and turned to the company, – we have this strong, persistent man-the king in our hands. He tried his best to provoke a conflict.” (Here stalky took off his black silk domino and assumed the appearance of a judge.) “He harassed beetle, mcturk and me, privately and consistently, one after the other, because he could catch us. But now he insulted number five in the music room, and in front of these… These ninety-three ossifiers who look like hairdressers. Binjimin, we have to make him shout, ‘kapivi!’”<br>Stalky’s reading did not include browning or ruskin.<br>“ And besides,” said mcturk, “he’s a philistine, a basket hanger. He wears a checkered tie. Ruskin says that any man who wears a checkered tie will no doubt be damned forever.”<br>“ Bravo, mcturk,” tertius said. “I thought he was just a beast.””<br>“He’s like that, of course, but he’s even worse. He has a porcelain basket with blue ribbons and a pink kitten on it, which he hung on the window to grow musk in it. Do you remember when i pulled all this old oak carving out of the bideford church when it was being restored (ruskin says that any person who restores a church is a real master) and glued it here with glue? Well, king came and wanted to know if we did it with a jigsaw! Yes! He is the king of basket hangers!”<br>Mcturk’s inky finger landed on an imaginary arena full of bleeding kings. “Placetne, child of a generous race!” He shouted to the beatle.<br>“ Well,” the beetle began doubtfully, “he’s from balliol, but i’m going to give the beast a chance. You see, i can always make him jump by adding some more poetry. He can’t report me to the boss because it makes him ridiculous. (Stalky is absolutely right.) But he will have his chance.”<br>Beetle opened a book on the table, ran his finger along the page and began at random:<br>“ Or who is in moscow to the tsar with the most modest step, on the kremlin pavement, white with serpentine and syenite, steps with five other generals-”<br>“ This is no good. Try again,” stalky said.<br>“ Hold on to the handshake; i know what’s coming.”Mcturk was reading over the beatle’s shoulder.<br>“ Who take a pinch of snuff at the same time, so that everyone has enough reason and they unfold their belt with a kerchief, which – in itself softness – is still a material<br>( Marmalade! What a suggestion!)<br>Hold tight where the steel chain breaks, and do not leave a cut on the magnificent white neck..<br>( Full stop.)”<br>“ I don’t understand a word of it,”’ stalky said.<br>“ Fool you even more! Interpret it,” mcturk said. “These six longboats robbed the tsar and left no evidence. Act with the king.”<br>“ He gave me this book, too,” the beetle said, licking his lips:<br>“ There is a great text in the epistle to the galatians, as soon as you stumble on it, it will entail twenty-nine different curses, one is mandatory if the other fails.”<br>Then inappropriate:<br>“ Setebos! Setebos! And setebos! Thinks he lives in the cold of the moon.”<br>“ He’s just come back from dinner,” said dick the fourth, looking out of the window. “Manders jr. Is with him.”<br>“’ It’s the safest place for manders minor right now,” the beatle said.<br>“ Then you guys better get out of here,” stalky politely told the visitors. “It’s not fair to involve you in a training scandal. Besides, we can’t afford to have proof.”<br>“ Are you going to start right now? ’ Asked aladdin.<br>“ Immediately, if not sooner,” stalky said and turned off the gas. “A strong, persistent man is the king. Make him shout ‘kapivi’. Hi, binjimin.”<br>The company retired to its own neat and spacious office with waiting souls.<br>“ When stalky flares his nostrils like a horse,” aladdin told the emperor of china, “he’s on the warpath. “I wonder what king will get.”<br>“ Beans,” said the emperor. “Number five usually pays in full.”<br>“ I wonder if i should officially pay attention to this,” said abanazar, who just remembered that he is a prefect.<br>“ It’s none of your business, pussy. Besides, if you did, they would be hostile to us and we wouldn’t be able to do any work,” aladdin said. “They have already started.”<br>Now this west african war drum has been created to send signals through estuaries and deltas. Number five was forbidden to start the engine within earshot of the school. But a deep, destructive hum filled the aisles as mcturk and beetle scientifically rubbed the top of it. Soon it was replaced by the roar of trumpets-ferocious pursuing trumpets. Then, when mcturk slapped his side, smooth with the blood of an ancient sacrifice, the roar turned into short coughing howls, similar to those issued by a wounded gorilla in his native forest. They were followed by the “wrath of the king”- three steps at a time, up the stairs, with a dry rustle of a dress. Aladdin and the company, listening, squealed with excitement when the door slammed open. The king stumbled in the dark and cursed these performers with the gods of balliol and quiet peace.<br>“ I’m out for a week,” aladdin said, holding the office door open. “The key should be delivered to his office in five minutes. ‘ Brutes! Barbarians! Savages! Children!’ He’s pretty excited. ”Arra, patsy, look after the baby,” he sang in a whisper, clutching the door handle and dancing a silent war dance.<br>King went down the stairs again, and beetle and mcturk lit the gas to confer with stalky. But stalky was gone.<br>“ It looks like there will be no end to the mess,” said beetle, gathering up his books and a case with mathematical tools. “A week in the classroom won’t do us any good.”<br>“ Yes, but can’t you see that stalky isn’t here, you owl! ”Said mcturk. “Take off the key and look sad. King will only keep you in line for half an hour. I’m going to read in the classroom downstairs.”<br>“ But it’s always me,” the beatle mourned.<br>“ Wait until we see,” mcturk said hopefully. “I don’t know what stalky means any more than you do, but that’s something. Go down and summon the king’s fire. You’re used to it.”<br>No sooner had the key turned in the door than the lid of the coal box, which also served as a window sill, was carefully lifted. It was a little tight even for the flexible stalky, his head was squeezed between his knees, and his stomach was under his right ear. From his desk drawer he took out a battered catapult, a handful of buckshot and a duplicate key to the office; he silently rolled up the window and knelt by it, facing the road, the wind-bent trees, the dark levels of the burrows and the white line of breakers falling nine feet deep along the pebbleridge. Far below, on devonshire lane with its steep slopes, he heard the hoarse horn of a cab. There was a ghost of a melody in it, as if the wind in a bottle of gin was trying to sing: “this is how it is in our army.”<br>Stalky smiled a strained smile and opened a fire at the extreme distance: the old horse half rolled into the shafts.<br>“ Where is he, gwaine tu?”Hiccup rabbit eggs. Another buckshot tore the rotten canvas awning with an angry whistle.<br>“ Habet! Stalky muttered as the egg rabbits swore on the patient’s night, protesting that he had seen a ”dommed colleague” attacking him.<br>“ And so,” king spoke in a high-pitched voice to the beatle with whom he played up to manders minor, knowing well that it hurts a fifth-grader when he is made a fool of by faggots, “and so master beetle, despite all our poems, of which we are so proud, when we allow ourselves to come into direct conflict even with such a humble representative the authorities, like me, for example, are kicking us out of our classes, aren’t they?”<br>“ Yes, sir,” said the beetle with a shy smile on his lips and a murderous thirst in his heart. Hope had almost left him, but he clung to the well-established belief that a stalker had never been as dangerous as when he was invisible.<br>“ You are not required to criticize, thank you. We were kicked out of our studies as if we were no better than little manders minor. We are just ink schoolchildren, and we need to be treated as such.”<br>The beetle pricked up its ears, because the egg rabbits were furiously cursing on the road, and part of the tongue got into the upper sash. King believed in ventilation. He came to the window, dressed and majestic, very noticeable in the gaslight.<br>“ I’m zi’un! I’m zi’un! The egg rabbit roared, now that he had found a visible enemy-another shot from the darkness above. “Yes, yes, you long-nosed, bird-eyed, red-whiskered beggar! You’re too old for this kind of thing. Hey! A poultice on your nose, i love you! A poultice for your long nose!”<br>The beatle’s heart leapt in him. Somewhere, somehow, he knew stalky was moving behind these manifestations. There was hope and the prospect of revenge. He would embody the suggestion of a nose in immortal poems. The king opened the window and severely chastised the egg rabbits. But the carrier was above fear or obsequiousness. He got down from the cart and stood leaning on the side of the road.<br>It all happened quickly, like a dream. Manders minor raised his hand to his head with a cry as a jagged flint struck several rich calfskin bindings on a bookshelf. Another walked along the desk. The beatle made a zealous feint to stop this, and in this attempt knocked over a student lamp, from which fat dripped onto the persian carpet through king’s papers and several selected books. There was a lot of broken glass on the windowsill; the porcelain basket-mcturk’s disgust-shattered, a musk plant fell on the red turnip pillows with the earth; blood flowed profusely from a cut on manders jr.’S cheekbone; and king, using strange words, each of which the beetle treasured, ran to look for the school sergeant so that the rabbit eggs could be immediately thrown into prison.<br>“ Poor fellow! The beetle said with false, affected sympathy. “Let the blood flow a little. This will prevent apoplexy,” and he skillfully held the blind head over the table and papers on the table while he led the howling manders to the door.<br>Then the beetle, left alone with the wreckage, repaid good for evil. As in this office, a complete set of “gibbon” was covered with scars all over his back, as if from a flint strike; how did so much black and carbon ink mix with manders’ blood on the tablecloth; why did a large bottle of chewing gum, uncorked, roll in a semicircle on the floor; and how the white porcelain doorknob began to be stained with even more of manders’ young blood, the beetle did not explain when the mad king returned and found him politely standing over a smelly rug by the fireplace..<br>“ You never told me to go, sir,” he said with the air of a kasabian, and king sent him into the outer darkness.<br>But he hurried to the shoe closet under the stairs on the first floor to get rid of the fun that was destroying him. He did not have time to catch his breath for the first triumphant exclamation, as two hands strangled him.<br>“ Go to the dorm and bring me my stuff. Take them to the bathroom number five. I’m still in tights,” stalky hissed, sitting on his head. “Don’t run away. Walk.”<br>But the beatle staggered into the classroom next door and handed over his duties to the still unenlightened mcturk, describing the campaign so far with hysterical accuracy. So, it was mcturk from the wooden visage who brought clothes from the dorm while the beatle was breathing heavily over the uniform. Then all three of them burrowed into the toilet number five, opened all the taps, filled the room with steam and, sobbing, rushed into the bath, where they dismantled the war piece by piece.<br>“ Mine! Je! Ich! Ego! Stalky gasped. “I waited until i stopped hearing my thoughts while you were playing the drum! Hid in a coal locker – and tweaked the rabbit eggs – and the rabbit eggs shocked the king. Isn’t that wonderful? Did you hear the glass clink?”<br>“ Why, he-he-he,” mcturk squealed, pointing a trembling finger at the beetle.<br>“ Why, i-i-i went through all this,” howled the beatle; “in his office, being gaping.”<br>“ Oh, my soul! Stalky said with a yell, disappearing under the water.<br>“ The glass was nothing. Manders minor’s head is split open. La-la-lamp scattered all over the carpet. Blood on books and papers. Chewing gum! Chewing gum! Chewing gum! Ink! Ink! Ink! Oh, my god!”<br>Then stalky popped out, all pink as he was, and shook the beetle to bring it into some semblance of consistency; but his story prostrated them again..<br>“ I went to the shoe closet at the same second i heard king coming down the stairs. The beetle piled on top of me. The spare key is hidden behind a loose board. There’s not a shadow of evidence,” stalky said. They were all chanting together.<br>“ And he kicked us out by himself!”It’s from mcturk. “He can’t start suspecting us. Oh, stalky, this is the most beautiful thing we’ve ever done.”<br>“ Chewing gum! Chewing gum! Chewing gum dollars! Beetle shouted, his glasses glinting through a sea of foam. “Ink and blood mixed. I held the little beast’s head over all the latin prose for monday. My god, how the oil stank! And the egg rabbits told the king to park his nose! Did you hit the rabbit eggs, stalky?”<br>“ Wasn’t i pretty damn good? Fooled him from all sides. Did you hear him swear? Oh, i’m gonna be sick in a minute if i don’t stop.”<br>But dressing was a slow process, because mcturk had to start dancing when he heard that the musk basket was broken, and besides, the beatle retold the whole royal language with corrections and purple inserts.<br>“ Amazing! Stalky said, falling helplessly in a mess of half-pulled-up trousers. “And that’s too damn bad for innocent boys like us! I wonder what they would say in ‘st. Winifred, or the world of school’. – By gum! It reminded me that we owe bottom third for attacking the bug when he killed manders minor. Come on! It’s an alibi, samivel; and besides, if we let them go, it’ll be worse for them next time..”<br>The bottom third put a guard in their classroom for an hour, which for a boy is equivalent to a lifetime. Now they were busy with their saturday evening chores – cooking sparrows on gas with rusty tips; they brewed unholy drinks in gallipots; skinned moles with penknives; tended paper trays full of silkworms, or discussed the iniquities of elders with a freedom, fluency and sharpness that would have amazed their parents. The blow struck without warning. Stalky overturned a classroom crammed with little boys among their own kitchen utensils, mcturk rummaged through untidy cabinets like a terrier rummaging through a rabbit hole, while beetle poured ink on such heads that he could not address with the help of smith’s classic dictionary. In three lively minutes, a lot of silkworms, pet larvae, french language exercises, school hats, semi-finished bones and skulls and dozens of pots of homemade sloe jam were collected. It was a big wreckage, and the classroom looked like it had been hit by three opposing storms.<br>“ Ugh!” – Said stalky, catching his breath outside the door (under the groans of “oh, you vile ka-ad! You think you’re terribly funny” and so on). “It’s all right. Never let the sun set over your anger. Funny little devils, faggots. I have no idea about joining forces.”<br>“ Six of them sat on my head when i went after manders minor,” the beatle said. “I warned them what they would get though.”<br>“ Everyone paid in full- it’s a great feeling,” mcturk said absently as they strolled down the corridor. “I don’t think we should talk much about king, do we, stalky?”<br>“ Not so much. Of course, our remark – offended innocence – is the same as when the sergeant reported a suspicion of smoking in bunkers. If i hadn’t thought to buy pepper and sprinkle it all over our clothes, he would have smelled us. King made a terrible joke about it. ’Called us bird stuffing in uniform for a week.”<br>“ Ah, king hates the natural history society because little hartopp is the president. Should not do anything in the call. Without glorifying king,” mcturk said. “But he must be a stinking ass, you know, to assume that in our time of life we will stuff birds like faggots.”<br>“ Poor old king! The beetle said. “He is unpopular in the common room, and they will mess with his head because of rabbit eggs. Oh my god! How cute! How beautiful! How sacred! But you should have seen his face when the first stone flew at him! And the earth from the basket!”<br>So they were all startled and helpless for five minutes.<br>Finally they went to abanazar’s office and were received with respect.<br>“ What’s the matter? Stalky asked, quickly getting his bearings in the new atmosphere.<br>“ You know perfectly well,” abanazar said. “You will be expelled if you get caught. King is an inarticulate maniac.”<br>“ Who? Which one? What? Expelled for what? We only played the war drum. We’ve already been kicked out for this.”<br>“ Are you guys telling me you didn’t feed the rabbits eggs and bribe him to take the rock king to the rooms?”<br>“ Bribe him? No, i’m ready to swear that we didn’t do it,” stalky said with relief in his heart, because he liked not to lie. “What a low mind you have, pussy! We were downstairs taking a bath. Were egg bunnies the rock king? A strong, persistent man’ king? Shocking’!”<br>“ Awful. King is foaming at the mouth. There’s a prayer bell there. Come on.”<br>“ Wait a second,” stalky said, continuing the conversation in a loud and cheerful voice as they descended the stairs. “What are rock king egg bunnies for?”<br>“ I know,” the beatle said as they passed king’s open door. “I was in his office.”<br>“ Shut up, you ass! The emperor of china hissed. “Oh, he’s gone to pray,” beetle said, watching the housekeeper’s shadow on the wall. “Rabbit-eggs was just a little drunk, swearing at his horse, and king hit him in the jaw through the window, and then, of course, he rocked king.”<br>“ You mean,” stalky said, “that king started this?”<br>King stood behind them, and every well-balanced word flew up the stairs like an arrow. “I can only swear,” said beetle, “that king swore like a merchant. It’s just disgusting. I’m going to write to my father about it.”<br>“ You’d better report this to mason,” stalky suggested. “He knows our tender conscience. Keep shaking. I need to tie my shoelace..”<br>Another researcher hurried forward. They didn’t want to be dragged into a scene like this. So it remained for mcturk to sum up the situation under the sight of enemy guns.<br>“ You see,” said the irishman, hanging on to the railing, “he starts by bullying the little guys; then he bullies the big guys.”; He then bullies someone who is not affiliated with the college and then catches him. Serves him right… I’m sorry, sir. I didn’t see you coming down the stairs.”<br>The black robe swept past like a thunderstorm, and after it, three in a row, holding hands, the troupe of aladdin rolled down the large corridor to prayer, singing with the most innocent intentions:<br>“Arra, patsy, look after the baby! Arra, patsy, look after the baby!Wrap him in a coat, he’s definitely going crazy! Arra, patsy, look after the baby; just look after the baby a little bit! He will kick, bite and cry all night! Arra, patsy, look after the baby!”<br>An unpleasant interlude.<br>Stalky’s unmarried aunt sent him both books with the inscription “dear artie on his sixteenth birthday”; it was mcturk who ordered them pawned; and it was beetle, returning from bideford, who threw them on the windowsill of the fifth office with the news that bastable would receive only ninepence for two; “eric, or a little” – almost the same drug as “st. Winifred.”And i don’t think very highly of your aunt. We’re almost out of ammo, too-artie, dear.”<br>Stalky then got up to grapple with him, but mcturk sat on stalky’s head, calling him a “clean-thinking boy” until peace was declared. Because they were heavily in debt for latin prose, because it was a hot july day, and because they were supposed to be at a home cricket match, they began to renew their acquaintance, intimate and unholy, with volumes.<br>“ Here we are! Mcturk said. “Corporal punishment had the worst effect on eric. He was burning not with remorse or regret-write it down, beetle-but with shame and fierce indignation. He flashed his eyes: ’oh, naughty eric! Let’s move on to where he goes for a drink.”<br>“ Hold half of the shake. Here is another example. “The sixth,” he says, “is the palladium of all public schools.” But this company,” stalky tapped the gilded book, “can’t stop guys from drinking and stealing, letting cigarettes out of the window at night and doing whatever they want. God, what did we miss – not going to st. Winifred’s church!…”<br>“ I am sorry to see that the boys from my house show so little interest in their matches.”<br>Mr. Prout could move very silently if he wanted to, although in the eyes of the boy this is not a virtue. He opened the office door without knocking-another sin-and looked at them suspiciously. “Indeed, i am very sorry to see you frowning during your classes.”<br>“ We’ve been out since lunch, sir,” said. Mcturk is tired. One home match is similar to another, and their “trick” that week turned out to be shooting rabbits with salon pistols.<br>“ I can’t see the ball when it’s flying, sir,” said beetle. “My lights were smashed in the nets until i was released. I wasn’t even good as a fag then, sir.”<br>“ A facelift is probably your uniform. Season and cook. Why can’t the three of you show at least some interest in the honor of your house?”<br>They heard this phrase until they were tired. The “honor of the house” was prout’s weak point, and they knew well how to make a fool of him.<br>“ If you tell us to come down, sir, of course we will,” stalky said with unbearable politeness. But prout knew better. He once tried an experiment at a big match, when all three, isolated from each other, stood at attention for half an hour in full view of all visitors, to whom fags, subsidized for this purpose, pointed out them as victims of prout’s tyranny. And prout was a sensitive man.<br>In the infinitely small confederations of the common room, king and macrea, fellow hosts of the house, inspired him that with the help of games, and only games, salvation is achieved. The boys who were neglected were the lost boys. They must be disciplined. Left to himself, prout would have been a sympathetic host; but he had never been so abandoned, and with the diabolical insight of youth the boys knew to whom they owed his zeal.<br>“ Do we need to go down, sir? Mcturk asked.<br>“I don’t want to order you to do what a sensible boy should be happy to do. I am so sorry.” And he staggered out, with a vague feeling that he had sown a good seed on poor soil.<br>“ And what, in his opinion, is the benefit of this? Beetle asked.<br>“ Oh, it’s broken. King lashes out at him in the common room for not keeping us up to par, and macrea mumbles something about “diphthaline,” and old heffey sits between them, sweating big drops. I heard oke (the butler in the common room) talking about it with richards (prout’s housekeeper) in the basement the other day when i came down to pack some bread,” stalky said..<br>“ What did oke say? Mcturk demanded, throwing ”eric“ into the corner.<br>“ Oh, he said: “they make more niches, not a nest full of jackdaws, and half of them, as if we don’t have ears on our heads to serve them. They’re discussing old prout-what he did and didn’t do with his boys. And that their boys are good boys, and his house is bad.”Well, oke said that, you know, and richards got terribly angry. He was offended by king for something. I wonder why?”<br>“ Why, king talks about prout in the classroom-makes hints and all that-only half the guys are such asses that they don’t understand what he’s driving at. And do you remember what he said about a ‘laid-back home’ last tuesday? He meant us. They say he says absolutely vile things in his own house, making fun of prout,” said the beatle.<br>“ Well, we didn’t come here to interfere in their quarrels,” mcturk said angrily. “Who will wash after the call? The king receives him on the cricket field. Let’s go.” The turkey grabbed his straw and led the way.<br>They reached the sun-drenched pavilion against the background of gray pebbleridge just before roll call and, without asking questions, they realized from king’s voice and manner that his house was on the road to victory.<br>“ Ah, ha!” He said, turning to show the light of his face. “Finally, we have the decorations of the everyday home. I suppose you think cricket is beneath your dignity,” the flannel-clad crowd giggled. “And from what i saw this afternoon, i believe that many others in your house are of the same opinion. And may i ask what you intend to do with your noble self before tea time?”<br>“ Going for a swim, sir,” stalky said.<br>“ And why this sudden zeal for cleanliness? There’s nothing about you that particularly suggests that. Indeed, as far as i remember – maybe i’m to blame – but quite recently-”<br>“ Five years, sir,” the beatle said fervently.<br>King frowned. “One of you was what is called a water funk. Yes, water funk. So now you want to wash up? It’s good. Cleanliness has never harmed either the boy or the house. We’ll get down to business,” and he turned to the intercom.<br>“ Why the hell did you say something to him, beetle? Mcturk asked angrily as they walked towards the large open sea baths.<br>“’ It wasn’t fair to remind someone that he was a fan of water. And my first semester, too. A lot of guys – when they can’t swim.”<br>“ Yes, you are an ass; but he saw that he had brought you. You should never have answered the king.”<br>“ But it wasn’t fair, stalky.”<br>“ My hat! You’ve been here for six years and you’re waiting for justice. Well, you’re an indecisive idiot.”<br>A group of royal boys, also heading to the baths, called out to them, begging them to wash – for the honor of their house.<br>“ This is what comes out of the fact that king opens his mouth and indulges. These young animals wouldn’t have thought of it if he hadn’t put it in their heads. Now they’re going to laugh about it for weeks,” stalky said. “Don’t pay attention.”<br>The boys came closer, shouting insulting words. Finally they moved to windward, ostentatiously pinching their noses.<br>“ It’s cute,” the beatle said. “They will say that our house stinks next.”<br>When they returned from the bathhouse, with wet heads, sluggish, at peace with the whole world, the beetle’s forecast was justified. In the corridor they were met by a faggot -an ordinary faggot of the lowest level – who, at arm’s length, handed them a carefully wrapped piece of soap “with compliments of the royal house.”<br>“ Wait,” stalky said, checking for an immediate attack. “Who pushed you to do this, nixon? Rattray and white? (These were the two leaders in the royal household.) Thank you. There is no answer.”<br>“ Oh, it’s too disgusting when a guy is given such nonsense. What’s the point of that? What’s the joke? Mcturk asked.<br>“ However, this will continue until the end of the semester,” beetle sadly shook his head. There were a lot of well-worn jokes on his own account.<br>A few days later, it became a legend at school that prout’s house was not washed and therefore stank. Mr. King was glad to have a juicy smile in uniform when one of his boys moved away from the beetle with certain gestures.<br>“ It looks like you have some kind of disability, my beetle, otherwise why would burton major take off, so to speak, the hem of his clothes? I confess i am still in the dark. Would anyone be kind enough to enlighten me?”<br>Naturally, he was enlightened by half of the form.<br>“ Extraordinary! The most extraordinary! However, each house has its own traditions, which i would not interfere with for anything in the world. We have a prejudice in favor of washing. Go on, beetle – from “jugurtha tamen” – and, if you can, avoid more blatant forms of guessing.”<br>The house of prout was furious because the houses of mcrae and hartopp had joined the house of king to insult them. After supper they called a house meeting-an excited and angry meeting of all except the prefects, whose dignity, although they sympathized with them, did not allow them to attend. They read out illiterate resolutions and made speeches beginning with the words: “gentlemen, we met on this occasion” and ending with the words: “this is a monstrous shame,” just as it has been done at home since schools appeared.<br>Office number five was visited with its usual air of polite patronage. Finally, mcturk from the jaws of the lantern gave up:<br>“ You chatter, unclench your jaws and mumble, and that’s all you’re capable of. What’s good about that? The royal house will gloat just because they attracted you, and the king will gloat too. Besides, orrin’s solution is chock-full of bad grammar, and king will gloat about it.”<br>“ I thought you and the beatle would fix it, and… And we’ll hang it out in the hallway,” the composer said dutifully.<br>“ Par si ya le connai. I’m not going to get involved in business,” beetle said. “This is gloating for the royal house. Turkey is absolutely right.”<br>“ Well, then, won’t there be stalky?”<br>But stalky puffed out his cheeks and squinted his nose in the style of a panurge, and all he said was: “oh, you pathetic talkers!”<br>“ You are three disgusting scabs!”It was an instant response from democracy, and they came out under curses.<br>“ It’s confusing,” mcturk said. “Let’s take our sorties and go shoot rabbits.”<br>Three salon pistols with a stock of bandoliers were stored in stalky’s chest, and this chest was in their bedroom, and their bedroom was a three-person attic, coming out of a ten-person institution, which, in turn, communicated with a large number of dormitories that stretched almost from one end college to the other one. The mcrae house was next to the prout house, the king house was next to the mcrae house, and the hartopp house was behind it again. Carefully locked doors separated the house from the house, but each house according to its internal structure – the college was originally a terrace of twelve large houses – was an exact copy of the following; one straight roof covered everything.<br>They found stalky’s bed pulled out of the wall to the left of the dormer window, and the last end of richards sticking out of a two-foot-square closet in the wall.<br>“ What does it all mean? I’ve never noticed this before. What are you trying to do, fat man?”<br>“ Fill the basins, mr. Corkran. Richards’ voice was hollow and muffled. “They saved me a lot of trouble. Yiss.”<br>“’ Looks like it,” mcturk said. “Hello! You’ll stay if you’re not careful.”<br>Richards backed away, puffing.<br>“ I can’t rush un. Yes, tess the defector, collect the mcturk. They took and laid all the water pipes on the floor above in the houses – laid them along the entire path at an angle, like. I drove them last vacation. I can’t skip the turn.”<br>“ Let me try,” stalky said, diving into the hole.<br>“ Then slip to the left, collect the corkran. Slide to the left and grope in the dark.”<br>To the left, stalky turned and saw a long line of lead pipe disappearing into a triangular tunnel, the roof of which was the rafters and the sheathing of the college roof, whose floor was beams with sharp edges, and whose side was the rough sheathing of the crate and the plaster of the wall under the attic window.<br>“ Rummy show. How far will it go?”<br>“ Straight ahead, mr. Corkran, straight ahead, from end to end. She runs under the weight of weights. Have you already opened the shut-off valve? Mr. King hired the un to save us from having to drag water down the stairs to fill the basins. No place for a man as lustful as old richards. I’m about to start ferritinizing. Thank you, mr. Corkran.”<br>Water poured from the tap right in the closet, and after filling the basins, the grateful richards waddled away.<br>The boys were sitting with round eyes on their beds, considering the possibilities of this treasure. Two floors below, they could hear the hum of an angry house, for nothing is as quiet as a dorm in the middle of a summer semester.<br>“ Until now, it was covered with wallpaper. Mcturk examined the small door. “If only we had known earlier!”<br>“ I vote that we go down and explore the area. No one’s coming up at this time of day. We don’t need to keep kave.”<br>They crawled inside, stalky in front, closed the door behind them and on all fours stepped onto a dark and dirty road full of plaster, strange shavings and all the junk that builders leave in the garbage room of the house. The corridor was probably three feet wide, and, except for the light coming through the edges of the cabinets (there was one in each dormer window), it was almost pitch-black.<br>“ This is mcrae’s house,” stalky said, not taking his eyes off the crack in the third closet. “I see barnes’ name on his trunk. Don’t make such a scandal, bug! We can get right to the end of the call. Come on!… We’re at king’s house now-i can see part of rattray’s trunk. How these disgusting boards hurt my knees!” They could hear his fingernails scraping on the plaster.<br>“ It’s the ceiling below. Watch out! If we break this, the plaster will fall down in the lower floor,” said the beetle.<br>“ Come on,” mcturk whispered.<br>“ And be captured first thing? A little bit. Why, i can stick my hand so far between these boards.”<br>Stalky stuck his arm up to his elbow between the beams.<br>“ There’s no point in staying here. I vote that we go back and discuss everything. It’s a lousy place. – I must say, i am grateful to king for his water works.”<br>They got out, shook each other off, shoved the salon pistols into their trousers and hurried to a remote devonshire alley, on the slopes of which a boy could sometimes kill a young rabbit. They lay down under the thick elder bushes and began to think aloud.<br>“ You know,” stalky said at last, taking aim at a distant sparrow, “we could hide our sorties there, like everything else..”<br>“ Ha! The beetle snorted, choked, and gurgled. He hadn’t spoken since they left the bedroom. “Have you ever read a book called “the history of the house” or something like that? I picked it up from the library the other day. It was written by a frenchwoman – violet of some kind. But, you know, it’s translated, and it’s very interesting. Tells you how the house is being built.”<br>“ Well, if you can’t wait to find out, you can go to the new cottages they’re building for the coast guard..”<br>“My hat! I’ll do that.” He rummaged in his pockets. “Give me twopence, somebody.”<br>“ Rot! Stay here and don’t fool around in the sun.”<br>“ Give me tuppence.”<br>“ Listen, beetle, you’re not boring at anything, are you? Mcturk said, handing over the coppers. His tone was serious, because although stalky often, and sometimes mcturk, maneuvered at his own expense, beetle had never done this in the entire history of the confederacy.<br>“ No, it’s not. I think.”<br>“ Well, we’ll go too,” stalky said with the general’s suspicion of his assistants.<br>“ I don’t want you to.”<br>“ Oh, leave him alone. The poem affected him even worse,” said makturk. “He’ll go gurgling to pebbleridge and spit it all out in the study when he gets back.”<br>“ Then why did he need tuppence, the turkey? He’s getting too independent. Hi! There’s a rabbit there. No, it’s not. It’s a cat, by god! You connect first.”<br>Twenty minutes later, a boy with a straw hat pushed back on his head and his hands in his pockets was staring intently at the workers moving around the unfinished cottage. He took out some fierce tobacco, and was led from the front yard to the interior, where he asked many questions.<br>“ Well, let’s see your animal epic,” said the turkey, when they burst into the office and found a beetle submerged in violetle-le-duc, and several drawings. “We had no end of fun.”<br>“ Epic? What epic? I was in the coast guard.”<br>“ No epic? Then we’ll kill you, o beetle,” stalky said, going on the attack. “You’ve got something up your sleeve. I know when you speak in that tone!”<br>“ Your uncle beetle,” with an attempt to imitate stalky’s belligerent voice, “is a great man.”<br>“ Oh, no; he, fortunately, does not represent anything like that. You’re kidding yourself, bug. Scratch him, turkey!”<br>“ A great man,” the beatle gurgled from the floor. “You’re useless-watch out for my tie!- Useless talkers. I am a great man. I’m gloating. Ay! Hear me!”<br>“ Beatle, de-a, – stalky unconditionally fell on the beatle’s chest, – we love you, and you are a poet. If i ever said you were a jerk, i apologize; but you know as well as we do that you can’t do anything yourself without messing it up.”<br>“ I have an idea.”<br>“And you’ll ruin the whole show if you don’t tell your uncle stalky. Fork out, ducky, and we’ll see what we can do. The idea, you fat impostor-i knew you had an idea when you left! Turkey said it was a poem.”<br>“ I learned how houses are built. Let me get up. The floor beams in one room are the ceiling beams in the room below.”<br>“ Don’t be such a dirty tech guy.”<br>“ Well, this man told me. The floor is laid on top of these beams-those boards on the edge on which we crawled-but the floor ends with a partition. Well, if you climb behind the partition, as it was in the attic, don’t you see that you can shove anything you want under the floor, between the floor boards and the plank and plaster ceiling below? Look here. I drew it.”<br>He made a rough sketch, enough to enlighten the allies. There is no section dedicated to architecture in the modern school curriculum, and none of them has yet reflected whether the floors and ceilings are hollow or solid. Outside of his immediate interests, the boy is as ignorant as the savage he admires so much; but he also has the savage’s resource.<br>“ I see,” stalky said. “I put my hand in there. And then?”<br>“ And then…. You know, they call us stinkers. We could slip something under the sulfur or something that stinks pretty bad and drive them away. I know it can be done somehow. Beetle’s eyes turned to stalky, who was holding diagrams in his hands.<br>“ Does it stink? Stalky asked questioningly. Then his face lit up with delight. “By gum! I figured it out. Terrible stink! Turkey!”He jumped on the irishman. “This afternoon-right after the beatle left! She’s just what you need!”<br>“ Come into my arms, my radiant boy,” mcturk sang, and they fell into each other’s arms, dancing. “Oh, terrible day! Callou, callai! She’ll do it! She will!”<br>“ Wait,” the beetle said. “I don’t understand.”<br>“ Dear man! However, it will be so. Oh, artie, my pure-hearted young man, let’s tell our dear reggie about the fetid stinkers..”<br>“ Not earlier than after the chime. Come on!”<br>“ I’m talking,” orrin said dryly as they took their seats along the gym walls. “The house of representatives is going to hold another meeting.”<br>“ Then stay away.”Stalky’s thoughts were somewhere far away.<br>“ This time it’s about the three of you.”<br>“ All right, give them my regards… This way, sir,” and he ran down the corridor.<br>Frolicking like children in a game, with jumps and side starts, with jumps and bends, they brought an almost bursting beetle to the rabbit track and pulled out the freshly killed corpse of a cat from under a pile of stones. Then the beetle saw the inner meaning of what had happened before, and raised his voice in gratitude for the fact that there are such wise warriors in the world as stalky and mcturk.<br>“ A well-fed old lady, isn’t she? Stalky said. “How long do you think it will take her to sniff a little in a confined space?”<br>“ A little whiff! What a rude brute you are! Mcturk said. “Can’t the poor kitty crawl under the floor of the royal bedroom to die without you chasing her with your dirty hints?”<br>“ Why did she die under the floor?”Said the beetle, looking to the future.<br>“ Oh, they won’t worry about that when they find her,” stalky said.<br>“ The cat can look at the king.” Mcturk rolled down the slope from his own joke. “Pussy, you have no idea how useful you will be to three pure-hearted, exalted boys.”<br>“ They will have to take a place for her, as it was in the ninth room when the rat croaked. Big medicine – a bunch of big medicines! Ugh! Oh, my god, i wish i could stop laughing,” the beatle said..<br>“ It stinks! Hello, stinky! Sticky! Mcturk gasped, returning to his seat. “And”-the exquisite humor of it made them slip together into a tangle-“it’s all for the honor of the house, too!”<br>“ And they’re holding another meeting-at our expense,” stalky panted, his knees in the ditch and his face in the tall grass. “Well, let’s get the bullet out of her and hurry up. The sooner she went to bed, the better.”<br>Together they did some terrible work with a penknife; together (don’t ask who fastened it on the chest) they picked up the corpse and hurried back, stalky at full trot developing his plan of action.<br>The afternoon sun, lying in wide spots on the bed mats, showed how three boys and an umbrella disappeared into the wall of the dormitory. Five minutes later they came out, dusted themselves off, washed their hands, combed their hair and went downstairs.<br>“ Are you sure you put it deep enough under the water? Mcturk suddenly asked.<br>“ Damn it, man, i pushed her the full length of my arm and the brolly bug. It must be about six feet. She’s locked in the middle of king’s big ten-bed bedroom. A suitable central situation, i call it. She will stink, both from his guys and from hartopp and macrae, when she really starts to smoke. I swear your uncle stalky is a great man. Do you realize what a great man he is, beatle?”<br>“ Well, i had an idea first, didn’t i?.. Only-”<br>“ You couldn’t have done it without your uncle stalky, could you?”<br>“ They’ve been calling us stinkers for a week now,” mcturk said. “Oh, won’t they catch it!”<br>“ Stinky! Yes! Stink-ah!” – Swept down the corridor.<br>“ And she’s there,” stalky said, putting his hand on both boys’ shoulders. “She’s there, getting ready to surprise them. Soon she will start whispering to them in their sleep. Then she will sniff. God, how she would smell! Do me a favor, think about it for two minutes.’.”<br>They went to their office in more or less complete silence. There they started laughing-laughing the way only boys can. They were laughing with their foreheads on the tables or on the floor; they laughed for a long time, curled up on the backs of chairs or clinging to a bookshelf; they laughed themselves, listlessly.<br>And in the midst of it, orrin stepped in on behalf of the house of representatives. “Don’t mind us, orrin, sit down. You have no idea how much we respect and admire you. There is something in your pure, high young forehead, full of dreams of an innocent childhood, that endlessly attracts. It really is.”<br>“ The house sent me to give you this.”He put a folded piece of paper on the table and left with a terrible look.<br>“ This is the solution! Oh, read this, somebody. I’m too stupid to laugh to see,” the beatle said. Stalky jerked it open, sniffing cautiously. “Ugh! Ugh! Listen. ‘The house with pain and contempt notices an indifferent attitude’ – how many twos in indifference, beetle?”<br>“ Two to choose from.”<br>“ There is only one here – ‘adopted by the residents from study number five in connection with the insults expressed to mr. Prout’s house of representatives at a recent meeting in classroom number twelve, and the house hereby passes a vote of censure on the said study.’That’s it.“And she bled all over my shirt!” – Said the beetle.<br>“ And i’m all feline,” mcturk said, “even though i’ve washed twice.”<br>“ And i almost broke the brolly beetle by planting it where it was supposed to bloom.!”<br>The situation was beyond words, but not laughter. That night, some attempt was made to hold a demonstration against these three in their dorm; so they went out.<br>“ You see,” the beetle began politely, loosening his suspenders, “the problem with you is that you are a set of thoughtless asses. You don’t have any more brains than spidgers. We’ve told you this many times, haven’t we?”<br>“ We’ll give you three a lick in the dorm. You are always laughing at us, as if you are elders,” one of them exclaimed.<br>“ Oh, no, you won’t do that,” stalky said, “because you know that if you did, sooner or later you’d get the worst of it. We’re not in a hurry. We can afford to wait for our little revenge. You’ve made a fool of yourself, and as soon as king gets your precious resolutions tomorrow, you’ll know it. If you don’t get sick and apologize by tomorrow night, i will… I’ll eat my hat.”<br>But the next day, when the dinner bell rang, the prouts sadly realized their mistake. The king received the erring members of this house with exaggerated fear. Did they intend to get him fired from the college by unanimous decision? What were their views on the management of the school so that he could rush to implement them? He would not have offended them for anything; but he was afraid- he was sadly afraid-that his own house, which did not accept resolutions (but washed), might ridicule him somewhat.<br>King was a happy man, and his house, basking in the benevolence of his smile, performed a long penance that day for the misguided prouts. And prout himself, with a sad and despondent expression on his face, tried to sort out the rightness and wrongness of all this, only sinking deeper into perplexity. Why should his house be called “stinky”? Indeed, it was a trifle, but he was taught to believe that straws show which way the wind blows, and that there is no smoke without fire. He approached king in the common room with a sense of injustice, but king was pleased that he was full of airy persiflage that evening, and brilliantly danced dialectical rings around prout.<br>“ And now,” stalky said before going to bed, making a pilgrimage to the dormitories before the arrival of the prefects, “what can you say in your defense? Foster, carton, finch, longbridge, marlin, brett! I heard you guys pick it up from king – he made hay out of you – and all you could do was squirm and grin and say, “yes, sir,” and “no, sir,” and “oh, sir,” and “please, sir’! You and your determination! Uh!”<br>“ Oh, shut up, stalky.”<br>“ Not a bit of it. You are a tasteless bunch of determined supporters, that’s who you are! You’ve made a nice mess of it. Maybe next time you’ll have the decency to leave us alone.”<br>Here the chamber got angry and pointed out in many voices that this mistake would never have happened if study number five had helped them from the very beginning.<br>“But you guys are so brutally vain, and… And you barged into the meeting looking like we were a bunch of idiots,” orrin growled from the resolution.<br>“ This is exactly what you are! That’s what we’ve been trying to hammer into your stupid heads all this time,” stalky said. “Never mind, we’ll forgive you. Cheer up. You can’t help being donkeys, you know,” and, deftly turning the enemy’s flank, stalky jumped into bed.<br>This night was the first sad one among the nights of the jubilant king. By some chance of drafts under the floor, the cat annoyed not the bedroom under which she was lying, but the one next to her on the right; stealing in the air was more of a pale blue sensation than any sharp insult. But a mere hint of smell is enough for a sensitive nose and a clean tongue of youth. Propriety demands that we draw some carbonized sheets on top of what the dorm said to mr. King and what mr. King replied. He was genuinely proud of his home and was scrupulous in everything that concerned their well-being. He came, he sniffed, he said something. The next morning, a boy from this dorm confessed to his bosom friend, faggot mcrae, that there were problems among them that king would prefer to keep secret.<br>But macrae’s son also had a bosom friend at the prout, a shaggy-haired queer with an evil temper, who, when he managed to find out the secret, told-told it in a high treble that rang down the corridor like a bat.It’s a squeak.<br>“ And… And they’ve been calling us ‘stinkers’ all this week. Why, harland minor says they just can’t sleep in his dorm because of the stink. Come on!”<br>“ With one shout and one yell, ”prout’s younger students rushed to the war, and in the interval between the first and second lessons, about fifty twelve-year-olds played on the gravel in front of king’s windows to a tune, the leitmotif of which was the word “stinky.”<br>“ Listen to the minute cannon in the sea! Stalky said. They were in their office, collecting books for the second lesson-latin with king. “It seemed to me that his azure forehead was a little clouded during prayers. ‘She’s coming, sister mary. She’s like this-’”<br>“ If they make such a scandal now, what will they do when she really starts looking up and paying attention to it?”<br>“ Okay, no vulgar jokes, beetle. All we want to do is stay out of this scandal like gentlemen.”<br>“’ It’s just a little wilted flower.’Where is my horace? Look, i don’t understand what she means when she says she’ll clean rattray’s bedroom first. We were holed up under white’s, weren’t we? Mcturk asked, wrinkling his forehead.<br>“ A timid little thing. I guess she’s frolicking everywhere.”<br>“ My aunt! In the second lesson, king will be a cheerful visitor. I haven’t prepared my horace a bit either,” the beetle said. “Come on!”<br>Now they were outside the classroom door. There were five minutes left before the bell rang, and king could appear at any moment.<br>Turkey bumped his elbow into a cohort of fighting fags, cut out thornton tertius (the one who was harland’s bosom friend) and asked him to tell his story.<br>It was a simple conversation, interrupted by tears. Many of the royal house have already beaten him for slander.<br>“ Oh, it’s nothing,” mcturk exclaimed. “He says king’s house stinks. That’s all.”<br>“ Callous! Stalky shouted. “We knew this many years ago, only we didn’t choose to run around shouting ’stinky’. We have some manners, if they don’t have them. Catch a cigarette, turkey, and make sure of it.”<br>The turkey’s long arm closed on the hurried and disturbing ornament of the lower second.<br>“ Oh, mcturk, please let me go. I don’t stink-i swear i don’t!”<br>“ A guilty conscience! Beetle exclaimed. “Who said you did it?”<br>“ What do you think about it?” Stalky pushed the little boy into the beetle’s arms.<br>“ Snf! Snf! Although he does. I think it’s leprosy-or thrush. Maybe it’s both. Put it away.”<br>“ Indeed, master beetle,” king used to come to the door of the house for a minute or two when the bell rang, “we are deeply indebted to you for your diagnosis, which seems to reflect almost as much credit for the natural unhealthiness of your mind as it does because of your pathetic ignorance about diseases, oh which you talk so glibly about. However, we will test your knowledge in other directions.”<br>It was a fun lesson, but in his haste to criticize the beetle, king chist neglected to impose it, and since at the same time he provided him with a lot of priceless adjectives for later use, the beetle was quite pleased and applied himself in the most serious way throughout the third lesson (algebra with little hartopp) composed a poem called “lazarus’ house”..”<br>After dinner, king went to his house to swim in the sea at pebbleridge. It was a long-standing promise; but he wished he could have evaded it, because all the prouts lined up at the fives court and greeted him enthusiastically. In his absence, at least half of the school invaded the infected dormitory to draw their own conclusions. The cat had won in the last twelve hours, but the battlefield of the fifth day could not be as bright as the spies reported.<br>“ Honestly, she’s proud of herself,” stalky said. “Have you ever felt anything like this? Oh, and she’s not in white’s dorm at all yet.”<br>“ But she will. Give her time,” the beetle said. “She will wriggle like a vertiginous honeysuckle. What howling lazarites they are! No house has the right to create a stench in the nostrils of decent people.-”<br>“ Noble, pure-hearted boys. Are you burning with remorse and regret? Mcturk asked as they hurried towards the house rising from the sea. The king had left him, so the speech was free. A crowd of skirmishers was playing around its facade – all the houses were mixed up – flying, rebuilding, shouting insults. Hoplites marched on his exhausted flanks, the elders made jokes one after another – simple and primitive jokes of the stone age. The three joined them themselves, dispassionately, with an air of aloofness, almost sadly.<br>“ And they look fine too,” stalky said. “It can’t be rattray, can it? Rattray?”<br>“ Rattray, dear? He seems to be dissatisfied with something. Listen, old man, we don’t hold a grudge that you sent us this soap last week, do we? Be cheerful, rat. You can get over it in peace. I dare say it’s just a few cigarettes. Although your house is so terribly sluggish.”<br>“ You’re not going back to the house, are you? Mcturk asked. The victims didn’t want anything better. – You just don’t know what a stink there is. Of course, frowning as you do it, you wouldn’t notice it; but after such a nice wash and clean, fresh air, even you would be upset. ‘It’s much better to camp in burrows. We’ll bring you some straw. Should we?”Dom hurried to break into the tune of “john brown’s body”, which was sung by loving classmates, and barricaded himself in his classroom. Stalky immediately chalked a large cross on the door with the inscription “lord have mercy on us” and left king to look for it.<br>That night the wind changed and brought the smell of carrion into the bedrooms of the macrae, so that the boys in nightgowns pounded on the locked door between the houses, begging kings to wash. Students number five went to the second lesson with no more than half a pound of camphor in their clothes for each; and king, too cautious to demand an explanation, muttered for a while and threw them out. So the beatle finished another poem in the silence of the study.<br>“ Now they use carbolic. Malpas told me,” stalky said. “King thinks it’s because of the sewers.”<br>“ She’s going to need a lot of carbolic,’ mcturk said. “I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to try.” This keeps king from pranks.”<br>“ I swear i thought he was going to kill me when i just sniffed. Although he didn’t mind burton major sniffing me the other day. He never stopped alexander from yelling “stinky!” In our classroom before… Before we treated them. He just grinned,” stalky said. “Why did he throw foam on you, bug?”<br>“ Yeah! It was my subtle joke. I spread it on toast. You know he’s always talking about the scientist lipsius.”<br>“‘ Who at the age of four is this guy?” – Said mcturk.<br>“ Yes. Whenever he hears that i have written a poem. Well, just as i was sitting down, i whispered to burton major, “how is our scientist lepsius?” The old ass grinned like an owl. He didn’t understand what i was getting at, but king understood perfectly. That’s why he actually kicked us out. Aren’t you grateful? Now shut up. I’m going to write “the ballad of the scientist lipsius.”.’”<br>“ Then stay away from anything rude,” stalky said. “I wouldn’t want to be rude about this happy occasion.”<br>“ Not for vo-eagles. What rhymes with “stinks”, someone?”<br>In the common room at dinner, king sarcastically spoke to prout about boys with lustful minds who pervert their few and pernicious talents in order to undermine discipline and corrupt their equals, use dirty images and destroy reverence.<br>“ But you didn’t seem to take that into account when your house called us… Uh… Stinkers. If you hadn’t assured me that you never invade someone else’s house, i would almost believe that all this nonsense started because of a few of your casual remarks.”<br>Prout had to go through a lot, because king always took out his anger on food.<br>“ You talked to the beatle yourself, didn’t you? Something about not being able to swim and that you’re a fan of water? The school chaplain interjected. “That day i scored in the pavilion.”<br>“ Maybe i did-as a joke. I really don’t pretend to remember every remark i made in conversation with little boys.; And i know perfectly well that the beetle has no feelings that can be offended..”<br>“ Maybe; but he or they-it’s the same thing-have a devilish ability to find a person’s weak spot. I confess, i prefer to try my best to reconcile study number five. That may be putting it mildly, but so far, i guess i’m the only man here that they haven’t driven crazy with their… Well… Attention.”<br>“ None of this is relevant. I flatter myself that i can handle them alone when the opportunity presents itself. But if they feel morally supported by those who should exercise absolute and unbiased justice, then i say that my fate is really hard. Of all the things i hate, i admit that anything bordering on disloyalty between us is the first.”<br>The people gathered in the living room looked at each other out of the corners of their eyes, and prout blushed.<br>“ I categorically deny it,” he said. “Uh… In fact, i admit that i personally object to all three of them. Therefore, it is unfair that-”<br>“ How long do you expect to put up with this? King asked.<br>“ But of course,” macrea said, leaving his usual ally, “the blame, if any, lies with you, king. You can’t hold them responsible for-i suppose you prefer the good old anglo-saxon stink in your house. My boys are now complaining about it.”<br>“ What can you expect? You know what boys are like. Naturally, they take advantage of what is a heaven-sent opportunity for them,” said little hartopp. “What is the trouble in your bedrooms, king?”<br>Mr. King explained that since he had made it a rule of his life never to invade someone else’s house, he expected that he would not be too obviously disturbed. They may be interested to know”-here the chaplain sighed wearily-“that he has taken all the steps that, in his short-sighted opinion, would meet the needs of the case. Moreover, he himself spent, without thinking about compensation, the amount of which he did not specify, on disinfectants. He did this because he knew from bitter -the bitterest-experience that the management of the college was sluggish, slow and inefficient. He might even add, almost as listlessly as the administration of some houses, which now found it necessary to judge his actions. With a brief summary of his academic career and a precise indication of his qualifications, including academic degrees, he left, slamming the door.<br>“ Haigo! – Said the chaplain. “Our life is insignificant – a belittling life, my brothers. May god help all school teachers! They need it.”<br>“ I don’t like boys, myself,” prout stabbed his fork viciously into the tablecloth, “and i don’t pretend to be a strong man, as you know. But, i confess, i don’t see any reason why i should take steps against stalky and others, because king turns out to be annoyed…-”<br>“ Falling into the hole he dug,” said little hartopp. “Of course not, prout. No one accuses you of setting one house against another because of simple idleness.”<br>“ Belittling life is a belittling life.”The chaplain stood up. “I go to correct french exercises. By lunchtime, king will have dealt with some unlucky thirteen-year-old child; he will repeat to us every word of his brilliant witticisms, and everything will be fine.”<br>“ But about these three. Are they really that lustful?”<br>“ Nonsense,” said little hartopp. “If you would think for a minute, prout, you would see that the ‘premature flow of fetid images’ that king complains about is completely borrowed from king. He tended the gear that drove the steel.- Of course, he doesn’t approve of it. Come into the smoking room for a minute. It’s not fair to listen to the boys, but right now they have to rub it into king’s house from the outside. Little things please little minds.”<br>The dark cubicle next to the common room has never been used for anything other than dressing gowns. Its windows were made of frosted glass; you couldn’t see anything from it, but you could hear almost every word on the gravel outside. Light and cautious footsteps were heard from the fifth room.<br>“ Rattray!”In a hushed voice-rattray’s office was facing that way. “Do you know if mr. King is anywhere nearby? I have… – Mcturk prudently left the end of the sentence open.<br>“ No, he’s out,” rattray said carelessly.<br>“ Ah! Scientist lipsius is being aired, isn’t he? His royal highness went to fumigate.”Mcturk climbed up on the railing, where the rook, who was never tired, was holding on..<br>“ Now in the whole call. There was no stench like the stench of the royal house, because it stank a lot, and no one knew what to do about it. Save king. And he washed cigarettes privately and serially. In the fish ponds of hesbon, he washed them, wrapping an apron around their loins.”<br>“ Shut up, you crazy irishman!”There was the sound of a golf ball splashing on gravel.<br>“ Don’t get mad, rattray. We’ve come to have some fun with you. Come on, bug. They’re all at home. You can wind them up.”<br>“ Where’s the pompous stinker? – Nowadays it is not safe for a pure-hearted, exalted boy to be seen near his house. Gone, isn’t it? No matter. I’ll do my best, rattray. I am now in the role of a parent.”<br>(“ One for you, prout,” macrea whispered, because that was mr. Prout’s favorite phrase.)<br>“ I want to say a few words to you, my young friend. We’ll have a little chat together.”<br>Here the listening prout hissed: the beatle, in a strained voice, chose king’s favorite gambit.<br>“ I repeat, master rattray, we will confer, and the subject of our conversation will not be the stench, for it is a disgusting and obscene word. We will, with your kind permission- granted, i hope, master rattray, granted, i hope -study this – this terrible upheaval of hidden demoralization. What impresses me the most is not so much the blatant obscenity with which you walk abroad under the burden of rotting” (you have to imagine that this speech is interspersed with golf balls, but old rattray was always a bad shot)“how much cynical immorality with which you enjoy your disgusting scents. I am far from interfering in someone else’s house-”<br>(“ Dear god! Prout exclaimed. – But it’s the king.”<br>“ Line by line, letter by letter; listen;” said little hartopp.)<br>“ But to say that you stink, as some lustful guys of the lowest order claim, means to say nothing – less than nothing. In the absence of your beloved host of the house, for whom no one has more respect than i do, i will, if you will allow me, explain the rudeness – the unprecedented enormity – the terrifying smell of stink (i believe in the good old anglo-saxon word), stink, sir, with which you found it necessary to infect your house… Oh, damn it! I forgot the rest, but it was very beautiful. Aren’t you grateful to us for working with you this way, rattray? A lot of guys would never take the trouble, but we’re grateful, rattray.”<br>“ Yes, we’re awfully grateful,” mcturk grumbled. “We don’t forget about this soap. We are polite. Why are you being rude, rat?”<br>“ Hi!”Stalky galloped up, pulling his cap over one eye. “Admonishing the sniffers, right? I’m afraid they’ve gone too far to repent. Rattray! White! Perowne! Malpas! No answer. It’s upsetting. It’s really upsetting. Bring out your dead, you lepers covered in soot!”<br>“ You think you’re funny, don’t you? Rattray said, stung to the quick by this last one. “It’s just a rat or something under the floor. We’re going to discuss this tomorrow.”<br>“ Don’t try to blame everything on a poor dumb animal, also dead. I hate subterfuge. ’By my soul, rattray-”<br>“ Hold on. Hartoffles has never said ”on my soul” in his entire short life,” the beatle said critically.<br>(“ Ah!” Said prout to little hartopp.)<br>“ Upon my word, sir, upon my word sir, i expected the best from you, rattray. Why can’t you confess your misdeeds like a man? Have i ever distrusted you?”<br>(“ It’s not cruelty,” muttered little hartopp, as if answering a question that no one had asked. “It’s a boy, the only boy.”)<br>“ And that was the house,” stalky’s voice changed from hoarse, trembling to tragic seriousness. “It was an open cesspool that dared to call us ‘stinkers’. And now… And now he’s trying to hide behind a dead rat. You annoy me, rattray. You disgust me! You annoy me unspeakably! Thank god, i am a man of balanced disposition-”<br>(“ It’s at your address, macrea,” prout said.<br>“ I’m so scared, i’m so scared.”)<br>“ Otherwise, i would hardly be able to restrain myself in front of your mocking face.”<br>“ The cave!”In a low voice. Beetle noticed king floating down the corridor.<br>“ And what are you doing here, my little friends? – The owner of the house began. “I had a fleeting thought -correct me if i’m wrong” (the audience unanimously choked)-“that if i find you outside my house, i should visit you with terrible pains and punishments.”<br>“ We were just going for a walk, sir,” the beatle said.<br>“ And on the way you stopped to talk to rattray?”<br>“ Yes, sir. We were throwing golf balls,” rattray said as he left the office.<br>(“ The old rat is a bigger diplomat than i thought. So far, he is strictly within the truth,” said little hartopp. “Observe ethical standards, prout.”)<br>“ Oh, you’ve been toying with them, haven’t you? I must say, i don’t envy your choice of partners. I thought they might have been involved in some lascivious conversation that they’ve been so disgustingly free with lately. I would strongly advise you to guide your steps very carefully in the future. Pick up these golf balls.”He passed on.<br>The next day, richards, who was a carpenter in the navy and was trusted with odd jobs, was ordered to occupy the dorm floor because mr. King believed that something must have died there.<br>“ We don’t need to neglect all our work because of a trivial incident of this kind; although i am fully aware that little things please small minds. Yes, i have arranged for the board meetings to be held after lunch under the auspices of richards. I have no doubt that it will be extremely interesting for a certain type of so-called intelligence; but any boy from my house or another found on the stairs in the dormitory will ipso facto expose himself to responsibility for three hundred lines.”<br>The boys didn’t gather on the stairs, but most of them were waiting outside the king. Richards was obliged to shout the news out of the attic window and, if possible, put the corpse on public display.<br>“’ It’s a cat, a dead cat!”Richards’ face turned purple in the window. He had been in the death chamber for some time and was on his knees.<br>“ Blast me! Mcturk shouted. “This is a dead faggot left over from last semester. Three cheers for the dead queer king!”<br>They applauded loudly.<br>“ Show it, show it! Let’s look at it squinting!” – The juniors shouted. ”Give it to the bug hunters.” (It was the natural history society). “The cat looked at the king – and died from it! Wow! Hurray! Yow! Mayo! Ftzz!” – Here are some of the screams that followed.<br>Richards reappeared.<br>“ She was,” he stopped abruptly, “dead for a long time..”<br>The school roared.<br>“ Well, let’s go for a walk,” stalky said after a well-chosen pause. “All this is very disgusting, and i really hope that the lazarus house will not do this again.”<br>“ What to do? The royal boy shouted furiously.<br>“ Kill the poor innocent cat every time you want to stop washing. It’s awfully hard to tell you apart. I must say, i prefer a cat. She’s not that stupid. What are you going to do, bug?”<br>“ I’m gloating. I’m just gloating about a blessed day.I want to gloat because i gloat in a kind way. No bunkers around the bunkers.”<br>And it seemed to them that it was better to do so.<br>Down in the basement, where the gas is flickering and the shoes are on the shelves, richards, among his black brushes, turned to oka from the common room, gambley from the dining room and fair lena from the laundry.<br>“ Yes. She was in a shocking state. I’m saying she almost made me sick. But i rowed, and rowed, and rowed, and put the ship in order, even though it smelled of the hold.”<br>“ I think she died in a mousetrap, poor thing,” lena said.<br>“ Then her mouse was different from any other cat in god’s world, lena. I lifted the top board, and she was lying on her back, and i turned her with a broom handle, and it turned out that her back was all covered with plaster from the crate. Yes, i’m telling you. And under her head lay, so to speak, a small pillow made of plaster, placed in front of her so that she would slide on her back. No cat has ever walked mice on its back, lena. Someone pushed her right under him, as far as it was possible. Cats don’t make pillows to die on. She was pushed when she was about to freeze, like.”<br>“ Oh, you’re too smart to live, fatty. You get married and learn to be smart,” said lena, gambley’s fiancee.<br>“ I was a little late before several virgins were born. I was in the royal navy, where they taught you how to use your eyes. You’re minding your own business, lena.”<br>“ Do you mean what you told us? Oke asked.<br>“ Don’t ask me questions, i won’t lie to you. The bullet hole pierced clane from side to side, and his heart-ribs broke like whitney. I sowed the un when i turned into the un ovver. They’re smart, oh, they’re smart, but they’re not too smart for old richards! It was on the tip of my tongue to say that, but… He said we never washed, and he did. Let his guys from home call us “stinkers”, he did. Sarve un dom nu wright, i say!”<br>Richards spat on a fresh shoe and, chuckling, set to work.<br>Impressionists.<br>They went into the chaplain’s office for a smoke on a saturday night-all four housekeepers-and three briers and one cigar, exuding friendliness, proved that the reverend john gillett was a good military leader. From the moment the cat was discovered, king was all too ready to see an insult where it wasn’t, and reverend john, a buffer staff and general confidant, worked for a week to achieve a good rapport. He was fat, clean-shaven, except for a large moustache, with an imperturbable kind disposition and, as those who loved him least said, a treacherous jesuit. He smiled benevolently, looking at the work of his hands – four experienced men talked without much malice.<br>“ Now remember,” he said when the conversation turned in that direction, “i’m not attributing anything. But every time someone took direct steps against study number five, the problem was more or less humiliating for the host.”<br>“ I can’t admit it. I destroy a crying bug every day for the good of his soul, and with him the rest,” king said..<br>“ Well, take your own case, king, and fast forward a couple of years. You remember when prout and you were on their way for huts and trespassing, don’t you? Have you forgotten colonel dabney?”<br>The others laughed. King didn’t want to be reminded of his career as a poacher.<br>“ This was one example. Again, when you had rooms under them-i always said it was the entrance to the lion’s den-you kicked them out.”<br>“ For making disgusting noises. Of course, gillette, you don’t justify-”<br>“ All i’m saying is that you kicked them out. That same evening, your office was trashed.”<br>“ Rabbits-eggs-most disgustingly drunk-out of the way,” king said. “What does it mean-?”<br>Reverend john continued.<br>“ Finally, they realize that slander is thrown at their personal cleanliness – the most delicate issue for all boys. Very good. Notice how in each case the punishment corresponds to the crime. A week after your house called them “stinkers,” king, your house, let’s not exaggerate, stank of a dead cat that decided to die in the place where it can annoy you the most. The long arm of coincidence again! The amount. You accuse them of trespassing. By some absurd chain of circumstances-they may or may not be at the other end of it-you and prout appear as trespassers. You evict them. For a while, your research becomes untenable. I drew a parallel in the latter case. Well?”<br>“ She was under the center of white’s dorm,” king said. “There are double floorboards to muffle the noise. No boy, even in my own house, could have torn off the boards without leaving any traces, and the egg rabbits were phenomenally drunk that night.”<br>“ They are especially favored by fortune. That’s all i’ve ever said. Personally, i really like them, and i think i have a little bit of their confidence. I admit, i like being called ’padre’. They are at peace with me; therefore, i do not receive false confessions of theft.”<br>“ You mean the mason case? ” Prout said heavily. “It always seemed especially scandalous to me. I thought that the manager should have dealt with this issue more carefully. Mason may be misled, but at least he is completely sincere and means well..”<br>“ I confess i can’t agree with you, prout,” said reverend john. “He jumped at some silly story about theft on their part; accepted the testimony of another boy, as far as i can tell, without any investigation; and, frankly, i think he deserved everything he got.”<br>“ They intentionally offended mason’s best friends,” prout said. “One word spoken to me from their side would have saved the whole thing. But they chose to lure him into a trap, to play on his ignorance of their characters-”<br>“ Maybe,” king said, “but i don’t like mason. I don’t like him for the very reason that prout does him credit. He has good intentions.”<br>“ Our criminal tradition is not theft, at least between us,” said little hartopp.<br>“ For the head of the house who raided seven head of cattle from innocent adherents of northam, isn’t this too sweeping a statement?”Macrea said.<br>“ That’s right,” hartopp said, not at all embarrassed. “This, with the lifting of the gates, a little poaching and hawking on the cliffs, is our salvation.”<br>“ It’s doing us a lot more harm as a school…” Prout began.<br>“ How could any hushed up scandal? Exactly. Our reputation among farmers is very dubious. But i would much rather deal with any number of ingenious crimes of this kind than with some other crimes.”<br>“ Maybe they are all right, but they are not like boys, they are abnormal and, in my opinion, unhealthy,” prout insisted. “The moral effect of their performances should pave the way for more harm. This makes me doubt how to deal with them. I could split them up.”<br>“ You could, of course; but they had been at school together for six years. I wouldn’t want to do that,” macrea said.<br>“ They use the editorial ”we,”” king said inappropriately. “It annoys me. “Where’s your prose, corkran?” “Well, sir, we’re not quite done yet.” “We’ll bring it in a minute” and so on. And the same with the others.”<br>“ There is a great virtue in this ‘we’,” said little hartopp. “You know i take them for trigonometry. Mcturk may have some idea of the meaning of this; but the beetle is like animals that die because of sinuses and cosines. He serenely copies stalky, who positively rejoices in mathematics.”<br>“ Why don’t you stop it? ”Said prout.<br>“ He corrects himself in exams. Then the beetle shows the blank sheets and trusts his ‘english’ to save him from falling. I think he spends most of his time with me writing poetry.”<br>“ I pray to heaven that he will transfer some of his energy in this direction to the elegies.” King jerked himself upright. “He is, with the sole exception of stalky, the most vile producer of “barbaric hexameters” that i have ever dealt with.”<br>“ This work is combined in this study,” the chaplain said. “Stalky does math, mcturk does latin, and beetle does their english and french. At least when he was in the infirmary last month-”<br>“ Imitation,” prout interjected.<br>“ Quite possibly. I found a very clear deviation in their translations of “roman d’un jeune homme pauvre”.”<br>“ I think it’s deeply immoral,” prout said. “I have always been against the training system.”<br>“ It would be hard to find any study where the boys didn’t help each other; but in the fifth issue, it was probably reduced to a system,” little hartopp said. “They have a system in most things.”<br>“ They admit it,” said reverend john. “I saw mcturk being chased up the stairs to perform ‘elegy in the churchyard’ while beetle and stalky went punting.”<br>“ This is tantamount to systematic cheating,” prout said, his voice getting deeper and deeper.<br>“ Nothing like that,” little hartopp replied. “You can’t teach a cow to play the violin.”<br>“ By design, this is a cheat sheet.”<br>“ But we spoke under the seal of confession, didn’t we?”Reverend john said.<br>“ You say you’ve heard them organize their work that way, gillette,” prout insisted.<br>“ Holy heavens! Don’t make a royal proof of me, my dear friend. Hartopp is equally charged. If they ever find out that i snuck out, our relationship will suffer – and i appreciate them.”<br>“ I think your position on this issue is weak,” prout said, looking around for support. “It would really be better to interrupt the research-for a while-wouldn’t it?”<br>“ Oh, disperse by all means,” macrea said. “Then we’ll see if gillett’s theory holds up to the test.”<br>“ Be wise, prout. Leave them alone, or you will be in trouble; and more importantly, they will be annoyed with me. Alas, i’m too fat! To let the bad guys bother you. Where are you going?”<br>“ Nonsense! They wouldn’t dare, but i’m going to think about it,” prout said. “This needs to be considered. They lied in their intentions, and i have to think through my duty.”<br>“ He is quite capable of putting the boys in defense of their honor. I’m the fool.” Reverend john looked around remorsefully. “Never again will i forget that the master is not a person. Mark my words,” said reverend john. “There will be trouble.”<br>But at the yellow tiber confusion and terror reigned.<br>Out of the blue (they were still enjoying the cat war), mr. Prout dropped into number five, give them a lecture on the enormity of cheat sheets and ask them to return to the classrooms on monday. They raged, solo and chorus, all peaceful saturday, because their sin was more or less a daily practice of all classes.<br>“ What’s the use of curses? Stalky said at last. “We are all in the same boat. We have to go back and mend relations with the house. A locker in the classroom and a place in the preparatory classroom. In the twelfth room. (He looked regretfully around the cozy office, which mcturk, their leader in matters of art, had decorated with dado, stencil and cretonne curtains.)<br>“ Yes! He bursts into classrooms like an old frowning retriever to see if we’re up to something. You know he never leaves the house alone these days,” mcturk said. “Oh, it’s going to be dizzying!”<br>“ Why don’t you watch cricket? I like strong, healthy boys. You shouldn’t frown in the classroom. Why don’t you take an interest in your house? Yes!” – Quoted the beatle.<br>“ Yes, why don’t we do that? Come on! We will show interest in the house. We will show endless interest in this house! He hasn’t let us into the classrooms for a year. We have learned a lot since then. Oh, we’ll make it a beautiful home before we’re done! ’Remember that guy in ‘eric‘ or ‘st. Winifred- belial someone? I’m going to be belial,” stalky said with a charming grin.<br>“ Right now,“ said the beetle, “and i’ll be mammon. I will lend money in usury – that’s what they do in all schools, according to a penny b.O.P. A week on a shilling. This will hit heffi’s weak intellect. You can be lucifer, turkey.”<br>“ What should i do?” Mcturk smiled too.<br>“ Lead conspiracies, intrigues and boycotts. Get into that ‘hidden intrigue’ that heffi always talks about. Let’s!”<br>The house met their downfall with a mixture of joking and sympathy, which was always shown to the boys kicked out of the office. The trio’s well-known aloofness made them even more interesting.<br>“ Just like the good old days, isn’t it? Stalky chose a locker and threw his books in there. “We came to have fun with you, my young friends, for a while because our beloved landlord kicked us out of our diggin.”<br>“’ Serves you right,” orrin said, “you crooks!”<br>“ That’s never going to work,” stalky said. “We won’t be able to maintain our dizzying prestige, orrin, de-a, if you make these remarks.”<br>They hugged the boy lovingly, pushed him to the open window and lowered the sash to the back of his head. With the same speed, they tied his thumbs behind his back with a piece of twine, and then, because he was kicking violently, they took off his shoes. There mr. Prout accidentally found him a few minutes later, guillotined and helpless, surrounded by a convulsing crowd that did not want to help.<br>Stalky gathered allies against revenge in the classroom on the top floor. Soon orrin broke out at the head of the boarding party, and the classroom turned into a solid fog of dust, through which the boys struggled, stamped their feet, shouted and screamed. In the confusion, the desk was taken away, a group of soldiers ran into the door panel and split it, the window was broken, and the gas jet fell. Under the cover of confusion, all three fled into the corridor, from where they called passers-by and sent them to fight.<br>“ Save us, kings! Kings! Kings! Classroom number twelve! Save me, prouts-prouts! Save me, makreas! Rescue, hartopps!”<br>The younger ones hurried out like bees, without asking any questions, rattled up the stairs and joined the general commotion.<br>“ Not bad for a first night’s work,” stalky said, adjusting his collar. “I think prout will be a little annoyed. We’d better establish an alibi.” So they sat on mr. Royal railing before getting ready.<br>“ You see,” stalky said as they approached the prep room. With an ignoble herd: “if you mix up the houses properly and arrange a brawl, you can even bet that some donkey will make a real scandal. Hi, orrin, you look pretty metagrobolized.”<br>“ It’s all your fault, you bastard! You started it yourself. We have two hundred lines apiece, and heffie is looking for you. Just look what that pig malpas has done to my eye!”<br>“ I like that you said we started it. Who called us cribbers? Is your infant mind still unable to connect cause and effect? Someday you’ll realize that it’s not worth joking with number five..”<br>“ Where’s that shilling you owe me? ” The beatle suddenly asked.<br>Stalky couldn’t see prout behind him, but he returned the lead without hesitation. “I only owed you ninepence, you old pawnbroker.”<br>“ You forgot about the percentages,” mcturk said. “The beetle pays halfpenny a week for a bean. You must be monstrously rich, beetle.”<br>“ Well, the beetle lent me sixpence.” Stalky stopped and pretended to figure it out on his fingers. “A sixpence on the nineteenth, isn’t it?”<br>“ Yes; but you forgot that you didn’t pay any interest on the other bean- the one i lent you earlier.”<br>“ But you took my watch as a guarantee.”The game developed almost automatically.<br>“ Never mind. Pay me my interest, or i will charge you interest for interest. Remember, i have your note! Beetle shouted.<br>“ You’re a cold-blooded jew,” stalky groaned.<br>“ Hush! ” Said mcturk really very loudly and started when prout came up to them.<br>“ I just didn’t see you in that shameful case in the classroom,” he said.<br>“ What, sir? We’ve just come from mr. King,” stalky said. “Please, sir, what should i do with the preparation?? They broke the table you told me to sit at, and the form is just filled with ink.”<br>“ Find another place – find another place. Do you expect me to take care of you? I’d like to know, beetle, do you have a habit of lending money to your partners?”<br>“ No, sir; as a rule, no, sir.”<br>“ This is a highly reprehensible habit. I thought my house would at least be free of this. Even with my opinion of you, i hardly thought that this was one of your vices.”<br>“ There’s nothing wrong with lending money, sir, is there?”<br>“ I’m not going to play hockey with a ball to talk to you about your ideas about morality. How much did you lend corkran?”<br>“ I-i don’t quite understand,” the beetle said. It is difficult to improvise continuous activity under the influence of the minute.<br>“ You seemed pretty confident just now.”<br>“ I think it’s two shillings and fourpence,” mcturk said, giving the beetle a cold, contemptuous look. In the hopelessly tangled finances of the study, there was just the amount that both mcturk and beetle claimed as their share in the pledge of stalky’s second-rate sunday trousers. But stalky claimed for two terms that this money was his “commission” for the implementation of the pawn; and, of course, he spent it on a training “brew.”<br>“ Then understand this. You should not continue your activities as a loan shark. Two shillings and fourpence, did you say, corkran?”<br>Stalky didn’t say anything and kept doing it.<br>“ Your influence on evil is strong enough not to buy power over your comrades.” He rummaged in his pockets and (oh joy!) He took out a florin and fourpence. “Bring me what you call the ‘corkran note’ and be grateful that i am not continuing this case. The money has stopped coming from your pocket money, corkran. A receipt to my office, immediately!”<br>Little did they care! Two shillings and fourpence apiece are worth sixpence a week on any hungry day of the week.<br>“ But what the hell is a handwritten note? The beetle said. “I just read about it in a book.”<br>“ Now you’re definitely going to have to do it,” stalky said.<br>“ Yes, but our ink only turns black the next day. Suppose he notices it?”<br>“ Not him. He’s too worried,” mcturk said. “Sign your name on a piece of paper, stalky, and write, ’i give you two shillings and fourpence.’ Aren’t you grateful to me for getting this out of prout? Stalky would never pay… Why, you ass!”<br>Mechanically, beetle handed over the money to stalky as the treasurer of the study. A custom that has developed over the years is not easy to break. In exchange for the document, prout explained to the beatle the enormity of usury, which, like everything else except compulsory cricket, spoils homes and destroys good feelings among boys, makes young people cold and calculating and opens the door to all evil. Finally, did the beatle know about any other cases? If this was the case, then it was his duty to inform his housekeeper about it as a proof of remorse. No need to mention any names.<br>Beetle didn’t know-at least, he wasn’t quite sure, sir. How could he testify against his friends? The house, of course, may be”-here he feigned painful delicacy-“full of it. He was in no position to speak. He did not face any open competition in his profession; but if mr. Prout thought it was an issue affecting the honor of the chamber (mr. Prout really thought it was), perhaps the prefects of the chamber would have been better…<br>He got out of it until the middle of preparation.<br>“ And,” said amateur shylock, returning to the schoolroom and sinking down next to stalky, “if he doesn’t think the house is rotten from this, i’m a few dutch-that’s all… I was in mr. Prout’s office, sir. This is for the rev.- Masters. “He said i could sit anywhere i wanted, sir.”.. Oh, he’s just overwhelmed with emotion… Yes, sir, i’m just asking corkran to let me dip into his ink.”<br>After the prayer, on the way to the dormitories, harrison and cray, the senior prefects of the houses, zealous in their position, waylaid them with great anger. “What did you do with heffey this time, beetle? He’s been bullying us all evening.”<br>“ How did its serene transparency annoy you? Mcturk asked.<br>“ About the beetle lending stalky money,” harrison began, “and then the beetle went and told him there was any amount in the house that could be borrowed..”<br>“ No, you don’t,” the beetle said, sitting on the boot basket. “That’s exactly what i didn’t tell him. I told the dizzying truth. He asked me if there was a lot of him in the house, and i said i didn’t know.”<br>“ He thinks you’re a bunch of dirty shylocks,” mcturk said. – It’s even better for you that he doesn’t consider you robbers. You know he never gets anything out of his conscientious old head.”<br>“ A man with good intentions. It was all for the best. Stalky gracefully wrapped himself around the stair railing. “The head is in a drainpipe. Full confession in the left shoe. It’s bad for the honor of the house – very bad.”<br>“ Shut up,” harrison said. “You guys always act like you’re kidding us when we come to prank you.”<br>“ You’re too cocky,” cray said.<br>“ I don’t quite understand what the impudence is, except on your part, to interfere in a personal matter between me and the beatle after it was settled by prout. Stalky winked cheerfully at the others.<br>“ This is the worst of the smart little swats,” mcturk said, referring to gaz. “They are made prefects before they have even a drop of tact, and then they annoy the guys who could really help them take care of the honor of the house.”<br>“ We won’t bother you with this! Cray said fervently.<br>“ Then why are you following us? The beetle asked. “In your own show, you were so brutally careless looking after the house that prout considers it a nest of loan sharks. I told him i had lent stalky the money, and no one else. I don’t know if he believes me, but that’s where my case ends. The rest is your business.”<br>“ Now we find out,” stalky’s voice rose, “that there seems to be an organized conspiracy all over the house. As far as we know, faggots can lend far beyond their capabilities. We are not responsible for this. We’re just privates.”<br>“ Are you surprised that we don’t want to communicate with the house? Mcturk said with dignity. “We kept to ourselves in our office until we were kicked out, and now we find that we are being let into this kind of business. It’s just a shame.”<br>“ That’s when you bully us on the stairs, hector,” stalky said, “about things that concern you completely. You know we’re not elders.”<br>“ You just threatened us with licking the prefect,” the beetle said, boldly inventing when he saw the bewilderment on the faces of the enemies. “And if you expect that you will gain something from us by using your approach to us, you are damn wrong. It’s all. Good night.”<br>They clattered up the stairs, offended virtue on every inch of their backs.<br>“ But… But what the hell have we done? Harrison said to cray in amazement.<br>“ I don’t know. Only… It always happens when someone has something to do with them. They are so monstrously plausible.”<br>And mr. Prout called the good boys back to his office and succeeded in plunging both his and their innocent minds ten fathoms deeper into blindfolded stupor. He spoke about steps and measures, about the tone and loyalty in the house of representatives and in relation to the house of representatives, and urged them to approach this issue tactfully.<br>So they asked the beatle if he had any connection with any other institution. Beetle immediately went to his house manager and wanted to know by what right harrison and cray resumed the case that had already been settled between him and his house manager. In outraged innocence, no boy surpassed the beetle.<br>Then it occurred to prout that he might have been unfair to a criminal who did not try to deny or mitigate his crime. He sent for harrison and kray, scolding them very gently for the tone in which they spoke to the penitent, and when they returned to their office, they used the language of despair. Then they conducted an unrestrained investigation throughout the house, driving the fags to the verge of hysteria, and with great fanfare and parade unearthed the natural and inevitable system of small loans that prevails among young boys.<br>“ You see, harrison, thornton minor lent me a penny last saturday because i was fined for breaking a window; and i spent it at keith’s. I didn’t know there was any harm in it. And ray major borrowed twopence from me when my uncle mailed me an order – i cashed it from keith-for five shillings; but he will pay me back before the holidays. We didn’t know there was anything wrong with it.”<br>They spent hours doing similar things, but found no usury or anything approaching beetle’s magnificent scale of interests. High school students – since the school had no tradition of reverence for elders outside of compulsory games – succinctly advised them to mind their own business. They wouldn’t testify under any conditions. Harrison was one idiot and cray was another; but the greatest of them all, they said, was their home teacher.<br>When a house is completely upset, no matter how pure its conscience, it breaks up into knots and circles-small gatherings at dusk, committees in the pantry and groups in the hallway. And when three angry boys sneak from group to group, with a huge pretense of secrecy, shouting “careful” when there is no need for caution, and whispering: “don’t talk!”Following the fictional instant revelations, a very subtle atmosphere of conspiracy and intrigue can be woven around such a house.<br>After a few days, it dawned on prout that he was moving in an atmosphere of perpetual ambush. Secrets surrounded him on all sides, warnings ran before his heavy feet, and counter signs muttered behind his attentive back. Mcturk and stalky invented a lot of absurd and idle phrases – catch words that swept through the house like fire on stubble. It was a rare joke and the only practical result of the usury commission, when one boy said to a friend with terrifying seriousness: “do you think there’s a lot of this going on in the house?”Another person would say, ‘well, you know, you can’t be too careful.’ One can imagine how this affects a housekeeper with a humane conscience and good intentions. Again, a person who has sincerely devoted himself to winning the respect of his wards does not like to hear a swarthy and gloomy celt with a fluent tongue call him, even from a distance, a “popular jerk.” The rumor that stories – unusual stories – are told in the classroom, between the lights, by a boy who does not enjoy his trust, worries such a person; and even thoughtful and gentle politeness – for the politeness that adult sages show to a confused child was the politeness that stalky wrapped with a round rod – does not restore his peace of mind.<br>“ The tone of the house seems to have changed-changed for the worse,” prout told harrison and cray. “Did you notice that? I don ‘t attribute for a moment-”<br>He never attributed anything; but, on the other hand, he never did anything else, and, with the best intentions in the world, he brought the housekeepers to a state bordering on nervous irritation, as far as healthy boys can be familiar with. Worst of all, at times they began to wonder if there was some truth in the oft-repeated statements of stalky & co. That prout was a gloomy ass.<br>“ As you know, i am not one of those people who risk themselves for every little thing he hears. I believe in letting the house do its own saving-with a light guiding hand on the reins, of course. But there is a noticeable lack of respect – a lower tone in matters that affect the honor of the house, a kind of rigidity.”<br>Oh, prout, he’s a nobleman, a nobleman, a nobleman! Our heffi is an aristocrat – he does an awful lot, because his popularity oh, pop-u-pop-u-larity – his dizzying popularity would suffer if it weren’t for him!<br>The door to the study was ajar, and the song, carried by twenty ringing voices, came faintly from the classroom. The faggots liked the melody very much; the words belonged to the beatle.<br>“ No sane person objects to that,” prout said with a wry smile. – But you know, straws show which way the wind is blowing. Can you trace it to any direct influence? I am addressing you now as the heads of the house of representatives.”<br>“ There’s not the slightest doubt about it,” harrison said angrily. “I know what you mean, sir. It all started with the fact that office number five came to the classrooms. There’s no point in blinking, cray. You know that too.”<br>“ Sometimes they make life quite difficult for us,” kray said. “Harrison is referring more to their demeanor than anything else.”<br>“ Do they interfere with you in the performance of your duties, then?”<br>“ Well, no, sir. They just stare and grin-and generally turn up their noses.”<br>“ Ah,” prout said sympathetically.<br>“ I think, sir,” said cray, boldly getting down to business, “it would be much better if they were sent back to their office-better for home. They’re old enough to knock on classrooms.”<br>“ They’re younger than orrin, or flint, and a dozen others i can think of.”<br>“ Yes, sir, but it’s different somehow. They are quite influential. They have a knack of upsetting things in a quiet way that no one can grab onto. At least if someone does-”<br>“ And do you think they’ll be better off in their own office again?”<br>Harrison and cray strongly held this opinion. As harrison later told cray: “they have weakened our authority. They’re too big to lick; they made a mockery of us because of this loan-sharking business, and we became the laughing stock of the rest of the school. I’m going to run (for sandhurst, of course) next semester. They have already managed to deprive me of half of their work… With his madness. If they return to their studies, we may have some peace..”<br>“ Hi, harrison.” Mcturk leisurely turned the corner, looking at all possible horizons. “Are you waking up, old man? Right. Live for real! Live it for real!”<br>“ What do you mean?”<br>“ You look a little thoughtful,” mcturk said. “It’s a tedious job to keep an eye on the honor of the house, isn’t it? By the way, how are you doing with the mare’s nests?”<br>“ Listen,” harrison said, hoping for an instant reward. “We recommended that prout allow you to return to his office.”<br>“ The fool that you have! And who are you under the sun to interfere between us and our housekeeper? By my sam, you two are testing us very hard-you really are. Of course, we don’t know how much you abuse your position to prejudice us against mr. Prout; but when you deliberately stop me to say that you negotiated behind our backs-secretly-with prout-i-i really don’t know what we should do..”<br>“ This is terribly unfair! Cray exclaimed.<br>“ All right. Mcturk assumed an eerie seriousness that sat well on his long, thin face. “Hang it all up! A prefect is one thing and an usher is quite another, but you seem to combine the two. You recommend this – you recommend that! You say how and when we will return to our research!”<br>“ But… But… We thought you’d like it, turkey. We really did it. You know you’ll be much more comfortable there. Harrison’s voice was almost tearful.<br>Mcturk turned away, as if he wanted to hide his emotions.<br>“ They are ruined!” He found stalky and beetle in the pantry. “They’re sick! They begged heffie to let us go back to number five. Poor devils! Poor little devils!”<br>“ This is an olive branch,” commented stalky. “This is a dizzying white flag, by gum! If you think about it, we metagrobolized them.”<br>Immediately after tea that day, mr. Prout sent for them to say that if they decided to ruin their future by neglecting their work, it was entirely their own business. However, he wanted them to understand that their presence in the classrooms could not be tolerated for an hour longer. Personally, he didn’t want to think about the time he had to spend on removing traces of their bad influence. How much the beatle indulged the low side of the youthful imagination, he will find out later; and the beatle could be sure that if mr. Prout faced any soul-destroying consequences-<br>“ The consequences of what, sir?”Said the beetle, genuinely confused this time; and mcturk gently kicked him on the ankle for prout “dragging” him. The beetle, the owner of the house continued, knew very well what was planned. Evil and short-lived was their career under his supervision; and as a person replacing the parents of their still uncontaminated partners, he was obliged to take precautions. The return of the key to the study completed the sermon.<br>“ But what was this low side of the imagination? Beetle asked on the stairs.<br>“ I’ve never known an ass like you who justifies himself,” mcturk said. “I hope i skinned your ankle pretty good. Why do you let everyone draw attention to you?”<br>“ The draws will be destroyed! I must have tickled him in some way i didn’t know about. If i had had an idea about this earlier, of course i could have explained it better. It’s too late now. What a pity! ‘The low side’. What was he driving at?”<br>“ It doesn’t matter,” stalky said. “I knew we could make this a happy little home. That’s what i said, remember, but i swear i didn’t think we’d do it so soon.”<br>“ No,” prout said very firmly in the common room. “I claim that gillette is wrong. However, i allowed them to return to their studies.”<br>“ With your well-known views on cheat sheets? ”Purred little hartopp. “What an immoral compromise!”<br>“ Wait a minute,” reverend john said. “I… We… We have all been absolutely heartbreakingly circumspect over the past ten days. Now we want to know. Admit it – have you had any happy moments since-”<br>“ As for my house, i don’t have one,” prout said. “But you are completely wrong in your assessment of these boys. In order to be fair to others – in self-defense-”<br>“ Ha! I told you it would come to this,” reverend john muttered.<br>“- I was forced to send them back. Their moral influence was unspeakable-simply unspeakable.”<br>And little by little he told his story, starting with the usury of the beetle and ending with the appeal of the prefects of the houses.<br>“ Beetle in the role ”about shylock, “it’s new to me,” king said, twitching his lips. “I have heard rumors about this-”<br>“ Before? Prout asked.<br>“ No, after you dealt with them; but i was careful not to ask. I never interfere with-”<br>“ I myself,” said hartopp, “would gladly give him five shillings if he could calculate one simple sum in compound interest without three gross errors.”<br>“ Why-why-why!” Mason, the master of mathematics, stammered, with a furious joy on his face, said: “you have been deceived-just like me!”<br>“ And that’s why you investigated? Little hartopp’s voice drowned out mason’s before prout caught the meaning of the sentence.<br>“ The boy himself hinted at the existence of something like this in the house,” prout said.<br>“ He is a master in this field in the past,” the chaplain said. “But, as for the honor of the house-”<br>“ They lowered it after a week. I have been striving to create it for many years. My own prefects-and boys are reluctant to complain about each other-begged me to get rid of them. You say they trust you, gillette: they can tell you a different story. As far as i understand, they can go to the devil in their own way. I’m fed up with them,” prout said bitterly.<br>But it was reverend john with a smiling face, who went to the devil right after number five put away a very nice brew (it cost them two shillings and fourpence) and started cooking.<br>“Come in, padre, come in,” stalky said, pulling out the best chair. “We have met with you only officially – for example, for the last ten days.”<br>“ You have been sentenced to death,” said reverend john. “I don’t communicate with intruders.”<br>“ Ah, but we are restored again,” mcturk said. Mr. Prout relented.”<br>“ Without a single stain on our characters,” said the beatle. “It was a painful episode, padre, very painful.”<br>“ Now think a little and go on, mes enfants. I called tonight specifically about your characters. In school parlance, what the hell were you doing at mr. Prout’s house? It’s not something to laugh at. He says you lowered your tone in the house so much that he had to send you back to school. It’s true?”<br>“ Every word, padre.”<br>“ Don’t be frivolous, turkey. Listen to me. I have often told you that no boy in school has a greater influence on good or evil than you. You know, i’m not talking about ethics and moral codes, because i don’t believe that a baby human animal will realize what they mean in the next few years. Still, i don’t want to think you’re corrupting juniors. Don’t interrupt, bug. Listen to me. Mr. Prout has a suspicion that you have corrupted your colleagues in one way or another.”<br>“ Mr. Prout has so many ideas, padre,” beetle said wearily. “Which one is this one?”<br>“ Well, he told me he heard you telling a story at dusk in the classroom, in a whisper. And orrin said as soon as he opened the door, ’shut up, bug, it’s too disgusting.’ So, now?”<br>“ Do you remember mrs. Oliphant’s “besieged city” that you lent me last semester? – Said the beetle.<br>The padre nodded.<br>“ I got the idea out of it. Only instead of the city, i made it a call. In the fog-besieged by the ghosts of dead boys who dragged guys out of their dorm beds. All the names are quite real. You tell it in a whisper, you know by name. Orrin didn’t like it a bit. None of them ever let me finish it. In the end, everything becomes just awful.”<br>“ But why the hell didn’t you explain to mr. Prout instead of leaving him under the impression-?”<br>“ Padre sahib,” said mcturk: “this is not the best explanation for mr. Prout. If he doesn’t have one impression, he will definitely have another.”<br>“ He would have done it with the best of intentions. He’s in the role of a parent,” stalky purred.<br>“ You young demons!” Reverend john replied. “And should i understand that… Was usury another impression of your housekeeper?”<br>“ Well, we helped a little bit with that,” stalky said. “I really owed the beatle at least two shillings and fourpence, the beatle says he owed, but i was never going to pay him. Then we had a little argument on the stairs, and… And mr. Prout accidentally got into it. That’s how it was, padre. He paid me in cash like a frivolous jerk (he stopped it out of my pocket money anyway), and beetle gave him my receipt, that’s right. I do not know what happened after that.”<br>“ I was too truthful,” the beatle said. “I’m always like this. You see, padre, he was under the impression, and i suppose i should have corrected that impression; but of course i couldn’t be quite sure that his house wasn’t on loan, could i? I thought the prefects of the houses might know more about this than i did. They have to do it. They are the frivolous palladiums of public schools.”<br>“ They did it too-by the time they finished,” mcturk said. “The sweetest pair of conscientious, well-meaning, honest, pure-hearted boys you would ever want to meet, padre. They turned the house upside down – harrison and kray – with the best intentions in the world.”<br>“ That’s what they said. – They said it very loudly and clearly. They came up and shouted in our ear,” stalky said.<br>“ My personal impression is that all three of you will unmistakably be hanged,” said reverend john.<br>“ Why, we don’t do anything,’ mcturk replied. “It’s all mr. Prout. Have you ever read a book about japanese wrestlers? My uncle-he’s in the navy-once gave me a beauty.”<br>“ Don’t try to change the subject, turkey.”<br>“ That’s not true, sir. I am giving an illustration – the same as a sermon. These wrestler guys have some kind of trick that lets the other guy do all the work. Than they squirm a little, and he upsets himself. It’s called shibbuvichi, or tokonoma, or something like that. Mr. Prout is a shibbuicher. It’s not our fault.”<br>“ Did you think we were beating around the bush, corrupting the minds of faggots? The beetle said. “To begin with, they don’t have them; and if they did, they were spoiled a long time ago. I was a faggot, padre.”<br>“ Well, i thought i knew the usual range of your iniquities; but if you take so much trouble to gather circumstantial evidence against yourself, you can’t blame anyone if…”<br>“We’re not accusing anyone, padre. We haven’t said a word against mr. Prout, have we?” Stalky looked at the others. “We love him. He has no idea how much we love him.”<br>“ Hmm! You hide your love very well. Have you ever wondered who got you kicked out of the office in the first place?”<br>“ It was mr. Prout who kicked us out,” stalky said pointedly.<br>“ Well, i was that person. That’s not what i meant, but i’m afraid some of my words made an impression on mr. Prout-”<br>Number five laughed out loud.<br>“ You see the same thing happening to you, padre,” mcturk said. “He makes an impression quickly, doesn’t he? But you shouldn’t think that we don’t love him, because we love him. There is not an ounce of vice in him.”<br>There was a double knock on the door.<br>“ The head should immediately see how number five is engaged in his office,” said the voice of foxy, the school sergeant..<br>“ Wow! Reverend john said. “It seems to me that some people are in big trouble.”<br>“ My word! Mr. Prout went and informed the director,” stalky said. “He is a moral double-dealer. It’s not fair to drag your head into a domestic scandal.”<br>“ I would recommend you a textbook on the safe and certain part,” reverend john said without any interest.<br>“ Ha! He licks his shoulders and they slam shut like an animal barn door,” beetle said. We’re in this together.”<br>They again appeared before the head – belial, mammon and lucifer. But they had to deal with a man more cunning than all of them. Mr. Prout talked to him, heavily and sadly, for half an hour; and the director saw everything that was hidden from the owner of the house.<br>“ You’ve been bothering mr. Prout,” he mused. “The housekeepers are not here for the boys to bother them more than necessary. I don’t like being bothered by such things. You’re bothering me. This is a very serious crime. Do you see that?”<br>“ Well, now i’m going to bother you for personal reasons, because you’ve invaded my time. You’re too big to lick, so i guess i’ll have to express my displeasure in some other way. Say, a thousand lines apiece, a week’s gating and something else like that. Too big to lick, isn’t it?”<br>“ Oh, no, sir,” stalky said cheerfully, because a week’s gating in the summer semester is serious.<br>“ Very good. Then we will do everything in our power. I wish you wouldn’t bother me.”<br>It was an honest, long, even blow with a small draw, but most of all they felt his injustice in the fact that he stopped to talk between executions. Thus: “among the lower classes, this would open up an assault charge for me. You should be more grateful for your privileges than you really are. There is a limit – everyone finds it on their own experience, beetle – for which it is never safe to pursue a personal vendetta, because – don’t move – sooner or later you will encounter – a higher authority who has studied the animal. And ego-mcturk, please – in arcadia vixie. There is a certain blatant injustice in this, which should please your temperament. And that’s it! You will tell your housekeeper that i have officially whipped you with a stick.”<br>“ Honestly! Mcturk said, wagging his shoulder blades all along the corridor. “It was a business! Prooshan bates has a devilishly direct look.”<br>“ Wasn’t it clever of me to ask you to lick,” said stalky, “instead of these impotents?”<br>“ Rot! We were ready for this from the very beginning. I knew the look in his old eyes,” the beatle said. “I was on the verge of bursting into tears.”<br>“ Well, i wasn’t exactly smiling,” stalky admitted.<br>“ Let’s go down to the toilet and look at the damage. One of us can hold a glass, and the rest can squint.”<br>They continued in the same vein for about ten minutes. Wales was very red and very flat. There was not a penny to choose between them because of the thoroughness, efficiency and a certain clarity of outlines that characterize the artist’s work.<br>“ What are you doing there?” Mr. Prout was at the top of the stairs to the lavatory, attracted by the sound of splashing.<br>“ We’ve just been hit on the head with a stick, sir, and we’re washing off the blood. The head said we should have told you. We were going to report ourselves in a minute, sir. (In a low voice.) That’s a point in favor of heffi!”<br>“ Well, he deserves to score something, poor guy,” said mcturk, putting on a t-shirt. “We’ve spent a stone and a half of sweat on it since we started.”<br>“ But listen, why are we not angry with the head? He said it was a blatant injustice. So it is! – Said the beetle.<br>“ Dear man,” said mcturk and did not deign to reply further.<br>It was stalky, who laughed until he had to hold on to the edge of the pelvis.<br>“ You’re a funny ass! What is it for? ” Asked the beetle.<br>“ I’m… I’m thinking about the blatant injustice of this!”<br>Moral reformers.<br>It was impossible to hide defeat. The victory went to prout, but they did not regret it. If he broke the rules of the game by making a call to the head, then they earned their money well.<br>Reverend john was looking for an early opportunity to discuss everything. Members of the bachelor’s dormitory, a school where master’s studies are deliberately scattered around classrooms and classrooms, can, if they want, see most of their wards. Number five spent a few cautious years testing reverend john. He was a real gentleman. He knocked on the office door before entering; he behaved like a visitor, not a lost lictor; he never read prose and never transferred confidential conversations to official life during idle hours. Prout was always an absolute nuisance; king came solely as an avenger of blood; even little hartopp, when talking about natural history, rarely forgot his position; but reverend john was a welcome guest and a favorite number five.<br>Look at him, then, in their only chair, a bent briar in his teeth, his chin lowered into three folds on his clerical collar, and he was blowing like a friendly whale, while number five was talking about life as it seemed to them, and especially about the last conversation with the head – about usury.<br>“ One lick once a week would do you a lot of good,” he said, winking and shaking all over, “and as you say, you were absolutely right.”<br>“Ra-ater, padre! We could have proved it if he’d let us talk,” stalky said, “but he didn’t. The head is a fluffy bird.”<br>“ He understands you perfectly. Ho! Ho! Well, you’ve worked hard enough for that.”<br>“ But he’s awfully fair. He doesn’t lick a guy in the morning and he doesn’t preach to him in the afternoon,” the beatle said..<br>“ He can’t; thank god he’s not in the orders,” mcturk said. Number five held the strongest views on church directors and was always ready to face his pastor in a dispute.<br>“ Almost all other schools have clergymen,” reverend john said softly.<br>“ It’s not fair to the guys,” stalky replied. “Makes them sulk. Of course, it’s different with you, sir. You belong to the school-just like we do. I mean ordinary clergy.”<br>“ Well, i’m just an ordinary priest, and mr. Hartopp is also in the orders.”<br>“ Yes, but he took them away after he came to college. We saw him going up for the exam. It’s all right,” the beetle said. “But just think if the head had gone and received initiation!”<br>“ What would have happened, bug?”<br>“ Oh, that call. ’It’s going to fall apart in a year, sir. There is no doubt about it.”<br>“ How do you know?”Reverend john was smiling.<br>“ We’ve been here for almost six years. There are very few things related to coll. We don’t know,” stalky replied. “Why, even you came a semester later than me, sir. I remember you asking for our names in the first lesson. Mr. King, mr. Prout and the director are, of course, the only masters who are older than us – in this sense.”<br>“ Yes, we have changed a lot – in the common room.”<br>“ Ha!” The beetle said with a grunt. “They came here and left to get married. And good riddance too!”<br>“ Doesn’t our beetle stick to matrimony?”<br>“ No, padre, don’t laugh at me. I met guys on vacation who married housekeepers. It’s just awful! They have children born right at school, teeth are being cut, measles and all that sort of thing; and the teachers’ wives are having tea parties-tea parties, padre!- And invite the guys to have breakfast.”<br>“ It doesn’t really matter,” stalky said. “But the housekeepers leave their houses alone, and they leave everything to the prefects. One guy told me that in one school there were large doors upholstered in cloth, and a passage about a mile long between the teacher’s house. They could do whatever they wanted.”<br>“ Satan exposes sin with a vengeance.”<br>“ Oh, the larks are quite right, but you know what we mean, padre. After a while it gets worse and worse. Then there’s a big scandal that gets into the papers, and a lot of guys get expelled, you know.”<br>“ Always the wrong un, don’t forget that. Would you like a cup of cocoa, padre? Mcturk asked with a teapot.<br>“ No, thanks, i smoke. Always the wrong ones? Go on, my stalky.”<br>“ And then,” stalky went to work, “everyone says, ‘who would have thought? Shocking guys! Angry little kids!”I think it all comes from the fact that we have married owners of the house.”<br>“ Daniel, who came to the court.”<br>“ But it is,” mcturk interrupted. “I met guys on vacation and they told me the same thing. It looks awfully nice for its people-a nice detached house with a nice lady at the head and all that. But this is not the case. It takes the housekeepers away from work, and it gives the prefects too much power, and… And… It spoils everything. You see, it’s not as if we were an ordinary school. We accept the refusals of crammers as well as good little boys like stalky. Of course we have to do this to make a name for ourselves, and we’ll get them to sandhurst one way or another, won’t we?”<br>“ That’s right, o turk. You sound like a book, turkey.”<br>“ And that’s why we want to have completely different masters in other places, right? We are not like other schools.”<br>“ One guy told me that it also leads to all kinds of bullying,” said the beatle.<br>“ Well, i have to say, you really need most of a single man’s time. Reverend john examined his hosts critically. “But don’t you ever feel that the world-the common room-sometimes means too much to you?”<br>“ Not really-in the summer, anyway. Stalky’s gaze slid contentedly to the window. “Our borders are also quite large, and they leave us to ourselves in many ways.”<br>“ For example, here i am sitting in your office, very disturbing to you, and?”<br>“That’s not really the case, padre. Sit down. Don’t go, sir. You know we’re glad when you come.”<br>There was no doubt about the sincerity of the voices. Reverend john blushed slightly with pleasure and refilled his brier.<br>“ And we usually know where the common room is,” the beatle said triumphantly. “Didn’t you pass through our downstairs bedrooms last night after ten, sir?”<br>“ I went to smoke a pipe with your housekeeper. No, i didn’t make any impression on him. I took a shortcut through your bedrooms.”<br>“ This morning i smelled baksi. Yours is stronger than mr. Prout’s. I knew,” the beetle said, shaking his head.<br>“ Oh my god! Reverend john said absently. It took several years before the beatle realized that this was more a tribute to innocence than observation. Long, bright, blind bedrooms, devoid of internal doors, were crossed at any time of the night by hosts visiting each other; after all, bachelors stay up later than married people. It never occurred to the beatle that there could be any purpose in this constant policing.<br>“ Speaking of bullying,” reverend john continued, “you were all pretty hot when you were queers, weren’t you?”<br>“ Well, we must have been pretty awful little animals,” said beetle, gazing serenely at the gap between eleven and sixteen. “My hat, what hooligans they were then-fairburn, “gobbi” monsell and the whole gang!”<br>“’ Remember when “gobbi” called us three blind mice and we had to climb on the lockers and sing while he threw inkwells at us? Stalky asked. “They were hooligans, if you will!”<br>“ But there’s none of that right now,” mcturk said soothingly.<br>“ That’s where you make a mistake. We all tend to say that everything is fine as long as we ourselves are not hurt. Sometimes i wonder if it’s extinct – bullying.”<br>“ Faggots mock each other terribly, but high school students have to prepare for exams. They have something else to think about,” said the beatle.<br>“ Why? What do you think about it?” Stalky watched the chaplain’s face.<br>“ I have my doubts.” Then, exploding: “honestly, for three moderately intelligent boys, you are not very observant. I suppose you were too busy cooking for your home teacher to see what was under your nose when you were in the classroom last week?”<br>“ What, sir? I… I swear we didn’t see anything,” the beetle said.<br>“ Then i would advise you to take a look. When a little boy whines in the corner, wears his clothes like rags, never works and is known to be the dirtiest little “bellboy” in college, something is wrong somewhere.”<br>“ It’s a clover,” mcturk said under his breath.<br>“ Yes, clover. He comes to me for his french. This is his first term, and he’s almost as much a wreck as you are, beatle. He is not naturally intelligent, but he has been beaten to the point where he has become almost an idiot.”<br>“ Oh, no. They’re pretending to be stupid to get more ticks,” beetle said. “I know that.”<br>“ I’ve never actually seen him get beaten up,” reverend john said.<br>“ An authentic article doesn’t do that publicly,” beetle said. “Fairbairn never touched me when someone was looking at.”<br>“ You don’t have to brag about it, beetle,” mcturk said. “We all picked it up at the time.”<br>“ But i got it worse than anyone else,” said the beatle. “If you need an authority on bullying, padre, come to me. Corkscrews-brush-drill-keys – head-fist-hand-twists-shakes-ag-ags – and everything else.”<br>“ Yes. I really want you to be an authority, or rather, i want your authority to stop this – all of you.”<br>“ What about abana and farpara, padre harrison and kray? These are mr. Prout’s pets,” mcturk said with a touch of bitterness. “We are not even sub-prefects.”<br>“ I’ve been thinking about it, but on the other hand, since most bullying is just thoughtlessness-”<br>“ Not a bit, padre,” mcturk said. “Bullies like to mock. They’re serious about it. They come up with it in class and practice it in quarters.”<br>“ Never mind. If it comes to the prefects, it could cause another scandal. You’ve already had one. Don’t laugh. Listen to me. I ask you-my own tenth legion-to calmly deal with this matter. I want the little housekeeper to look clean and decent enough-”<br>“ I’ll be damned if i wash it! Stalky whispered.<br>“ Decent and self-respecting. As for the other boy, whoever he is, you can use your influence”-a purely secular light flashed in the chaplain’s eyes-“in any way you like to dissuade him. It’s all. I leave it up to you. Good night, mes enfants.”<br>“ Well, what are we going to do?” Number five stared at each other.<br>“ Young kluer would give his eyes for a place where he could be in silence. I know that,” said beetle. “If we made a faggot out of him to study, eh?”<br>“ No way! Mcturk said firmly. “He’s a dirty little brute, and he’ll ruin everything. Besides, we’re not going to make any nasty scenes. Do you want to walk with your arms around his neck?”<br>“ He would have cleaned the jam jars anyway, and the pot of burnt porridge-it’s dirty now.”<br>“Not good enough,” stalky said, slamming both heels down on the table. “If we find the jolly jester who bullied him and make him happy, everything will be fine. But why didn’t we notice him when we were in the classroom?”<br>“ Maybe a lot of faggots have reached a dead end in cleaver. They do that sometimes.”<br>“ Then we’ll have to kick out the entire junior school in our house-according to the specification. Come on,” mcturk said.<br>“ Don’t let your hair down! We shouldn’t make a fuss about business. Whoever it is is silent, otherwise we would have seen him,” stalky said. “We’ll walk around and sniff until we’re sure.”<br>They drew the classrooms of the house, indicating each junior and senior against whom they had suspicions; explored, at the suggestion of the beatle, toilets and storerooms, but without result. Everyone seemed to be present except clover.<br>“ Rum! Stalky said, stopping in front of the office door. “My god!”<br>A thin squeak mixed with tears came muffled through the panels.<br>“‘ How beautiful kitty stumbled one morning-’”<br>“ Louder, you young devil, or i’ll throw a book at you.!”<br>“With a jug of milk-oh, campbell, please don’t! To the fair-”<br>The book fell on something soft, and there were screams.<br>“ Well, anyway, i never thought it was a training guy. That explains why we didn’t notice him,” beetle said. “Sefton and campbell are pretty big guys to fight. Besides, you can’t go into their office like in a classroom.”<br>“ What a pig!”Mcturk listened. “Where is the pleasure in this? I suppose’ that clover was making fun of them.”<br>“ They are not prefects. It’s a good job,” stalky said with his belligerent grin. “Sefton and campbell! Em! Campbell and sefton! Ah! One of them is a ‘nerdy puppy.”<br>These two were precocious, hairy youths between the ages of seventeen and eighteen, whom their parents had despairingly sent to school, hoping that six months of constant cramming might lead them to sandhurst. Nominally they were in mr. Prout ‘s house; in fact, they were under the supervision of the headmaster; and since he was very careful never to promote unfamiliar new boys to the posts of prefects, they believed that they had a grievance against the school. Sefton spent three months with a london geek, and the story of his adventures there lost nothing. Campbell, who had a fine taste in clothes and a fluent vocabulary, followed suit, looking arrogantly at the rest of the world. It was only their second semester, and the school, accustomed to what she obscenely called “cramming puppies,” treated them with rather annoying restraint. But their sideburns-sefton had a real razor-and moustaches were undoubtedly impressive.<br>“ Maybe we should go and dissuade them? Mcturk asked. “I’ve never had much to do with them, but i bet my campbell hat is funky.”<br>“ No-oh! It’s oratory,” stalky said, shaking his head. “I like oratio obliqua. ’Sides, where would our moral influence be then? Think about it!”<br>“ Rot! What are you going to do?” Beetle turned into the lower class number nine, next to the office.<br>“ Me?”The lights of war flickered on stalky’s face. “Oh, i want to joke with them. Shut up a little!”<br>He put his hands in his pockets and stared out the window at the sea, whistling through his teeth. Then a foot tapped on the floor; one shoulder lifted; he turned around and began a short, fast double shuffle-stalky’s battle dance in meditation. Three times he crossed the empty classroom, pursing his lips and flaring his nostrils, swaying to the beat of a quick step. Then he stopped in front of the dumb beetle and gently touched its head, the beetle bowed to the blows. Mcturk was rubbing one knee and rocking back and forth. They could hear clover howling as if his heart was about to burst.<br>“ A bug is a victim,” stalky finally said. “I’m sorry for you, beetle. ’The art of travel’ by member galton [one of the forms studied this pleasant work] and ‘the child whose bleating excited the tiger”.?”<br>“ Oh, damn it! Beetle said anxiously. It wasn’t his first season as a victim. “Can’t you do without me?”<br>“’ Don’t be afraid, beetle, dear. Turkey and i must be mocking you. Of course, the more you howl, the better. Turkey, go and hunt for a stump and a rope for boxes somewhere. We’ll tie him up for murder-a la galton. I remember how “molly” fairbairn made us have a cockfight without shoes and tied our knees?”<br>“ But it hurt like a sin.”<br>“ Of course it was. What a smart guy you are, beetle! The turkey will blow you all over the house. A member of the club, we had a big scandal, and i lured you into a trap by forcing you to do this. Lend us your napkin.” The beetle was tied up for cockfighting; but, in addition to the transverse stump between the elbow and the knee, his knees were bound with a box rope. In this position, from stalky’s push, he rolled onto his side, covered with dust.<br>“ Ruffle his hair, turkey. Now you lie down too. ‘The bleating of a kid excites a tiger.” You two are sweating so much with me that you’re just fighting. ’Remember this. I’ll tickle you with my stump. You’ll have to cry, beetle.”<br>“ Right now! I can do it in half an hour,” the beetle said..<br>“ Now start – and remember the bleating of the child.”<br>“ Shut up, you bastards! Let me get up! You almost cut my knees. Oh, you filthy bastards! Shut up. ”This is not a joke!”The bug’s protest was, in tone, a work of art.<br>“ Give it to him, turkey! Kick him! Turn him over! Kill him! Don’t be scared, beetle, you brute. Hit him again, turkey.”<br>“ He’s not really crying. Curl up, bug, or i’ll throw you out on the wing,” mcturk growled. They made a disgusting noise, and the bait lured their prey.<br>“ Hi! What kind of frivolous joke is this?”Sefton and campbell came in and saw beetle lying on his side, leaning his head against the fireplace, and crying profusely, while mcturk poked him in the back with his toes.<br>“ It’s just a bug,” explained stalky. “He pretends to be wounded. I can’t get the turkey to pounce on him properly.” Sefton quickly kicked both boys, and his face brightened. “Okay, i’ll take care of them. Get up and have a cockfight, you two. Give me the stump. I’ll tickle them. Here is such a dizzying joke! Come on, campbell. Let’s cook them.”<br>Then mcturk attacked stalky and called him very evil names.<br>“ You said you were going to the cockfight too, stalky. Let’s!”<br>“ Then even more assholes to you for believing me! Stalky screamed.<br>“ Did you guys have a fight? Campbell asked. Stalky asked. “Ha! I’m just teaching them. Do you know anything about cockfighting, seffi?”<br>“ Do i know? Well, at maclagan’s, where i was cramming in town, we used to have cockfights in his living room, and little maclagan didn’t dare say anything. But there, of course, we behaved exactly like men. Do i know? I’ll show you.”<br>“ Can’t i get up? Beetle moaned as stalky sat on his shoulder.<br>“ Don’t unclench your jaws, you fat talker. Are you going to fight with seffi.”<br>“ He’s going to kill me!”<br>“ Oh, get them into our office,” campbell said. “It’s nice and quiet there. I’m going to have a cockfight with a turkey. This is an improvement over the young clover.”<br>“ Right now! I take off my shoes for them and put on shoes for us,” sefton said happily, and they both fell to the floor in the office. Stalky rolled them behind the chair. “Now i will tie you two up and lead the bullfight. God, what wrists you have, seffi. They are too thick to be wiped off; do you have a rope for the crate? “What is it ?” He asked.<br>“ A lot in the corner,” sefton replied. “Hurry up! Stop crying, you brute, bug. We’re going to have a dizzying campaign. Losers should sing for the winners – sing odes in honor of the winner. You call yourself a nasty poet, don’t you, beetle? I’ll write you a poem.”<br>He wriggled into position next to campbell. Quickly and scientifically, the stumps were pushed through the natural curves, and the wrists were tied with well-stretched ropes to the accompaniment of insults from mcturk, bound, devoted and verbose behind the chair. Stalky dismissed campbell and sefton and went to his allies, locking the door on the way.<br>“ And that’s fine,” he said in a changed voice.<br>“ What the hell?.. Sefton began. The beatle’s fake tears stopped; mcturk, smiling, got to his feet. Together, they tied the enemy’s knees and ankles even tighter.<br>Stalky sat down in a chair and contemplated this scene with his most polite smile. A man tied up for cockfighting is perhaps the most helpless creature in the world.<br>“‘ The bleating of the kid excites the tiger.’Oh, you shitty asses!”He leaned back and laughed until he couldn’t anymore. The victims were getting used to the situation, but slowly. “When we get up, we’ll give you the best lick you’ve ever had in your young life! Sefton thundered from the floor. “You’ll laugh with the other side of your mouth before you’re done. What the hell do you mean by that?”<br>“ You’ll see it in no time,” mcturk said. “Don’t swear like that. What we want to know is why are you two clumsy pigs bullying cleaver?”<br>“ It’s none of your business.”<br>“ Why did you bully clover?” The question was repeated with insane repetition by each in turn. They knew their business.<br>“ Because we made the right choice!” – The answer finally came. “Let’s get up.” Even then they couldn’t implement the game.<br>“ Well, now we’re going to bully you because we have a good choice. We will be as fair to you as you were to clover. He couldn’t do anything against you. There’s nothing you can do to us. Strange, isn’t it?”<br>“ Can’t we? You wait and see.”<br>“ Ah,” said the beetle thoughtfully, “it shows that you’ve never really been joked with. Public licking is not like a gentle joke. I’ll bet you a shilling that you’ll cry and promise anything..”<br>“ Listen, young beetle, we’ll half kill you when we get up. I promise you that, anyway.”<br>“ However, you will be half killed first. Did you slap clover on the back of the head?”<br>“ Did you slap clover on the back of the head? Mcturk echoed. On the twentieth repetition – no boy can withstand the torture of one unchanging question, what is the essence of bullying – a confession came.<br>“ We did it, damn you!”<br>“ Then you will be confused”; and they were confused, according to ancient experience. A punch to the head is not a trifle; “molly” fairbairn from the old days couldn’t have played better.<br>“ Did you give clover a brush drill? This time the answer to the question was given earlier, and a drill was heard on stalky’s watch for five minutes. They couldn’t even writhe in their shackles. The brush drill does not use a brush.<br>“ Did you give cleaver the key?”<br>“ No, we didn’t do that. I swear we didn’t do it!”From campbell writhing in agony.<br>“ Then we’ll give it to you so you can see what it would be like if you had.”<br>Torture with a key-which has no key at all -causes excessive pain. They endured it for a few minutes, and their tongue demanded a gag.<br>“ Did you give clover corkscrews?”<br>“ Yes. Oh, damn your stupid souls! Leave us alone, you guys.”<br>They were twisted into a corkscrew, and the torture with a corkscrew – it has nothing to do with corkscrews – is sharper than the torture with a key.<br>Method and silence one of the attacks got on their nerves. Between each new torture, there was a relentless, overwhelming rain of questions, and when they did not answer to the point, isabella-colored handkerchiefs were stuffed into their mouths.<br>“ And that’s all you did with cleaver? Pull out the gag, turkey, and let them answer.”<br>“ Yes, i swear, that was it. Oh, you’re killing us, stalky! Campbell shouted.<br>“ Exactly what clover told you. I heard him. Now we will show you what real hooliganism is. “What i don’t like about you, sefton, is that you come to college. With your sticking-out collars and patent leather shoes, and you think you can teach us something about bullying. Do you think you can teach us anything about bullying? Take out the gag and let him answer.”<br>“ No way!” – Fiercely.<br>“ He says no. Rock him to sleep. Campbell can watch.”<br>To rock a boy, you need three boys and two boxing gloves. Again, the operation has nothing to do with its name. Sefton was “shaking” until his eyes rolled up and he was choking, choking with nausea and dizziness.<br>“ My aunt! Campbell exclaimed in horror from his corner and turned pale.<br>“ Take him away,” stalky said. “Invite campbell. Now it’s bullying. Oh, i completely forgot! I say, campbell, why did you bully clover? Take out his gag and let him answer.”<br>“ I… I don’t know. Oh, let me go! I swear i’ll do it pax. Don’t ‘rock’ me!”<br>“‘ The bleating of the kid excites the tiger.’He says he doesn’t know. Set him up, bug. Give me the glove and put the gag in.”<br>In silence, campbell was “rocked” sixty-four times.<br>“ It seems to me’ i’m going to die! ” He breathed out. “He says he’s going to die. Put it away. Now, sefton! Oh, i completely forgot! Sefton, why did you bully clover?”<br>The answer is unprintable, but it did not cause the slightest blush on stalky’s fluffy cheeks.<br>“ Make it ag-ag, turkey!”<br>And he was immediately created ag-ag. He had the hard-won experience of almost eighteen years at his disposal, but he didn’t seem to appreciate it.<br>“ He says we’re cleaners. Take him away! So, campbell! Oh, i completely forgot! I say, campbell, why did you bully clover?”<br>Then came tears-burning tears; pleas for mercy and pathetic promises of peace. Let them stop the torture, and campbell will never raise a hand against them. The questions began again – to the accompaniment of small persuasions.<br>“ You look hurt, campbell. Are you hurt?”<br>“ Yes. Terrible!”<br>“ He says he’s in pain. Are you broke?”<br>“ Yes, yes! I swear it is. Oh, stop it!”<br>“ He says he’s broke. Are you modest?”<br>“ He says he’s humble. Are you devilishly modest?”<br>“ He says he’s devilishly modest. Are you still going to bully clover?”<br>“ No. No-oo!”<br>“ He says he won’t bully clover. Or any other?”<br>“ No. I swear i won’t.”<br>“ Or any other. What about that licking you and sefton were going to give us?”<br>“ I won’t! I won’t! I swear i won’t do it!”<br>“ He says he won’t lick us. Do you think you know anything about hooliganism’?”<br>“ No, i’m not!”<br>“ He says he knows nothing about hooliganism. Haven’t we taught you a lot?”<br>“ Yes, yes!”<br>“ He says we taught him a lot. Aren’t you grateful?”<br>“ He says he’s grateful. Put it away. Oh, i completely forgot! I say, campbell, why did you bully clover?”<br>He started crying again; his nerves were on edge. “Because i was a bully. I suppose that’s what you want me to say?”<br>“ He says he’s a bully. He’s right. Put it in the corner. No more making fun of campbell. So, sefton!”<br>“ You devils! You young devils!” This and much more, when skillful knees dragged sefton across the carpet.<br>“‘ The bleating of the kid excites the tiger.’ We’re going to make you beautiful. Where does he keep his shaving supplies? [Campbell told.] Beetle, bring some water. Turkey, make foam. We’re going to shave you, seffi, so you better lie still or you’ll cut yourself. I’ve never shaved anyone before.”<br>“ No need! Oh, don’t! Please don’t!”<br>“ Getting polite, huh? I’m going to take off just one little moustache.-”<br>“ I… I’ll do it pax if you don’t. I swear i’ll let you stop licking when i get up.!”<br>“ And half of those mustaches that we are so proud of. He says he’ll let us stop licking. Isn’t he kind?”<br>Mcturk laughed into a nickel-plated shaving cup and placed sefton’s head between stalky’s vise-like knees.<br>“ Stop shaking,” the beetle said, “you can’t shave off long hair. First you have to trim all that mustache, and then scratch it.”<br>“ Well, i’m not going to look for scissors. Won’t a match do? Throw us a matchbox. He’s a pig, you know; we might as well set him on fire. Lie still!” He lit a vesta, but stopped his hand. “However, i only want to take off half of it.”<br>“ It’s all right.” The beetle waved the brush. “I’m lathering up to the middle-see? And you can burn the rest.”<br>The sparse first moustache of youth burst into flame to the foam line in the center of the lip, and stalky wiped the burned stump with his thumb. It was not a very gentle shave, but it completely fulfilled its task.<br>“ Now the mustache is on the other side. Turn it over!” Between the match and the razor, this was also removed. “Give him his shaving binoculars. Take out the gag. I want to hear what he has to say.”<br>But there were no words. Sefton stared in horror and despair at the leaning wreckage. Two large tears rolled down his cheek.<br>“ Oh, i completely forgot! I say, sefton, why did you bully clover?”<br>“ Leave me alone! Oh, you infernal hooligans, leave me alone! Haven’t i had enough?”<br>“ He says we should leave him alone,” mcturk said.<br>“ He says we’re bullies, and we haven’t even started yet,” the beatle said. “You’re ungrateful, seffi. Oh my god! You really look like an atrocity and a half!”<br>“ He says he’s had enough,” stalky said. “He’s wrong!”<br>“ Well, to work, to work! Mcturk chanted, waving his stump. “Come on, my frivolous narcissist. Don’t fall in love with your own reflection!”<br>“ Oh, let him go,” campbell said from his corner. – He’s crying too..”<br>Sefton was crying like a twelve-year-old from pain, shame, wounded vanity and complete helplessness.<br>“ You’ll do it pax, sefton, won’t you? You can’t stand up to these young devils-”<br>“ Don’t be rude, campbell, de-a,“ mcturk said, “or you’ll get infected again!”<br>“ You’re devils, you know,” campbell said.<br>“ What? For a little hooliganism – the same thing that you gave to clover! How long have you been joking with him? Stalky asked. “This whole semester?”<br>“ True, we didn’t always confuse him!”<br>“ You did it when you could catch him,” the beetle said, crossing his legs on the floor, dropping the stump from time to time on the instep of sefton’s leg. “Don’t i know that!”<br>“ I… Maybe we did.”<br>“ And you tried your best to catch him? Don’t i know that! Because he was a terrible little beast, right? Don’t i know that! Now, you see, you are terrible beasts, and you get what he got- for being a beast. Just because we choose.”<br>“ We’ve never really bullied him the way you bullied us.”<br>“ Yes! ”Said the beetle. “They never really bullied- ‘molly’ fairbairn didn’t do that. Just beat them up a little. That’s what they say. Just knock the soul out of them, and they will go crying into the storerooms. They stick their heads into the ulsters and weep. I write home three times a day-yes, brute, i did-asking to be taken away. You’ve never been really bullied, campbell. I’m sorry you made pax.”<br>“ I’m not!”Said campbell, who was somewhat of a humorist. “Watch out, you’re killing sefton!”<br>In his excitement, the beatle had thoughtlessly used the stump, and now sefton was crying for mercy.<br>“ And you! – He shouted, turning on the spot. “You’ve never been bullied either. Where were you before you came here?”<br>“ I have… I had a mentor.”<br>“ Yes! You would have. You’ve never cried in your life. But now you’re crying, by gum. Aren’t you crying’?”<br>“ Can’t you see, you blind animal?”Sefton fell on his side, traces of tears furrowed the dried foam. The cricket stump on the curved end of it cracked.<br>“ Am i blind, or what,” said the beetle, “and a beast? Shut up, stalky. I’m going to have a little fun with our friend, a la molly fairbairn. I think i see. Can’t i see, sefton?”<br>“ The essence is well understood,” said makturk, watching the belt work. “You better tell him what he sees, seffi.”<br>“ You do – you can! I swear it is! Sefton shouted, because strong arguments forced him.<br>“ Aren’t my eyes beautiful?” The stump rose and fell steadily throughout this catechism.<br>“ A delicate nutty color, isn’t it?”<br>“ What a liar you are! They are sky blue. Aren’t they sky blue?”<br>“ Yes-oh, yes!”<br>“ You don’t know what’s on your mind from one minute to the next. You have to learn – you have to learn.”<br>“ What a trap you’ve fallen into! Stalky said. “Don’t let your hair down, bug.”<br>“ It’s been done to me before,” the beetle said. “Now about the fact that i am a beast.”<br>“ Pax… Oh, pax! Sefton exclaimed. – Let it be pax. I’ll give up! Let me go! I’m broke! I can’t stand it!”<br>“ Ugh! Just when we were about to intervene! Mcturk grumbled.<br>“ They wouldn’t let go of the clover, i could swear.”<br>“ Confess-apologize-quickly! Stalky said.<br>From the podium, sefton surrendered unconditionally, even more humiliatingly than campbell. He will never touch anyone again. He will walk quietly all the days of his life.<br>“ We have to accept that, i suppose? Stalky said. “All right, sefton. Are you broke? Very good. Shut up, bug! But before we let you go, you and campbell will kindly lend us ‘kitty from coleraine’ – a la clover.”<br>“ It’s not fair,” campbell said. – We gave up.”<br>“’ Of course there is. Now you’re going to do what we tell you-just like clover would do. If you hadn’t given up, you would have been really bullied. I gave up-do you understand, seffi?- You sing odes in honor of the conquerors. Hurry up!”<br>They sank into their chairs with pleasure. Campbell and sefton looked at each other and, finding no consolation in this look, began to sing “kitty from coleraine.”<br>“ Disgustingly bad,” stalky said when the plaintive howl was over. “If you hadn’t given up, it would have been our painful duty to lash out at you for not singing to the beat. So, now.”<br>He freed them from their bonds, but for several minutes they could not get up. Campbell was the first to get to his feet, smiling sheepishly. Sefton staggered over to the table, covered his head with his hands and shook with sobs. There was no shadow of a struggle in either of them-only amazement, despair and shame.<br>“ Ka… Could he shave clean before tea, please? Campbell asked. “Ten minutes to the bell.”<br>Stalky shook his head. He intended to escort the half-shaved one to the meal.<br>Mcturk yawned in his chair, and beetle wiped his face. They were all soaked through with excitement and tension.<br>“ If i knew anything about it, i swear i’d give you a moral lecture,” stalky said sternly.<br>“ Don’t worry, they’ve given up,” mcturk said. “It’s the moral conviction of the business and takes it out of the guy.”<br>“ Can’t you see how gentle we were? We could get clover to look at you,” stalky said. “The bleating of a tiger excites a child.” But we didn’t do that. We only need to tell a few guys in the call. About that, and you’d be hooted all over the store. Your life wouldn’t be worth having. But we are not going to do that either. We adhere strictly to moral principles, campbell; so if you or seffi don’t crack about it, no one will..”<br>“ I swear you’re a real brick,” campbell said. “I guess i was pretty rude to cleaver.”<br>“ Looks like it,” stalky said. “But i don’t think seffi needs to come to the gym with cock sideburns. It’s terribly bad for the faggots if they see him. He knows how to shave. Aren’t you grateful, sefton?”<br>The head did not rise. Sefton was fast asleep.<br>“ It’s rummy,” mcturk said as the snoring mixed with a sob. “Cheeky, i think; or else he’s pretending.””<br>“ No, it’s not,’ said the beetle. “When ‘molly’ fairbairn looked after me for an hour or so, i sometimes fell asleep on the form. Poor fellow! But he called me a vile poet though.”<br>“ Well, come on. Stalky lowered his voice. “Goodbye, campbell.- Club member, if you don’t talk, no one will talk.”<br>There was supposed to be a war dance, but all three of them were so tired that they almost fell asleep over tea cups in their office and overslept before cooking.<br>“ And the most unusual letter. Are all parents terminally insane? What do you think about it?”What is it?” Asked the head, handing the carefully written eight pages to reverend john.<br>“‘ His mother’s only son, and she’s a widow.’This is the least reasonable option.”The chaplain read with pursed lips. “If at least half of these accusations are true, he should be in a nursing home, whereas he is disgustingly healthy. Of course he shaved. I noticed that.”<br>“ Under duress, as his mother points out. How delicious! How beneficial!”<br>“ You don’t have to answer her. It’s not often that i don’t know what happened at school, but it’s beyond me.”<br>“ If you had asked me, i would have said that i do not seek appeasement. When someone is forced to take cramming puppies-”<br>“ He was perfectly healthy in extra classes-with me-this morning,” the director said absently. – And besides, he behaved unusually well.”<br>“- They either teach the school, or the school, as in this case, teaches them. I prefer our own methods,” the chaplain concluded.<br>“ Do you think that was the case?” Raising the eyebrows of the head.<br>“ I’m sure of it! And nothing justifies his attempts to give the college a bad name.”<br>“ This is the line that i intend to follow with him,” the head replied.<br>The augurs winked.<br>A few days later, reverend john called number five. “Why haven’t we seen you before, padre?” They asked.<br>“ I have watched the times, seasons, events, men and boys,” he replied. “I am happy with my tenth legion. I bring them my compliments. This morning, klewer was throwing ink balls into the mold instead of doing his job. He is now writing fifty lines for an unheard-of audacity.”<br>“ You can’t blame us, sir,” the beetle said. “You told us to take off… Uh… Pressure. This is the worst of faggots.”<br>“ I’ve known boys five years older than him who threw ink balls, beetle. I dedicated two hundred lines to such a person – not so long ago. And now i’m starting to think about it, have these lines ever appeared?”<br>“ Really, turkey? Beetle asked without blushing.<br>“ Don’t you think the clover looks a little cleaner, padre? Stalky interrupted him.<br>“ We have no end to moral reformers,” said makturk.<br>“ It was all too much, but it was a lark,” said the beatle.<br>“ I have noticed moral reform in several circles. Didn’t i tell you that you have more influence than any guy in college? If you wanted to use it?”<br>“ It’s a bit tedious to use frequent – our kind of moral persuasion. Besides, you see, it only makes clover cocky.”<br>“ I wasn’t thinking about clover; i was thinking about… Other people, stalky.”<br>“ Oh, we didn’t really bother about other people,” mcturk said. “Are we?”<br>“ But i did it-from the very beginning.”<br>“ Did you know then, sir?”<br>A descending puff of smoke. “Boys teach each other, they say, more than we can or dare. If i used at least half of the moral persuasion that you might or might not use-”<br>“ With the best motives in the world. Don’t forget our pious motives, padre,” mcturk said.<br>“ I suppose i should be languishing in bideford prison right now, shouldn’t i? Well, quoting the chapter, in a small matter that we agreed to forget about, it seems to me a blatant injustice… What are you laughing at, young sinners? Isn’t that true? I’m not staying to be yelled at. What i looked into this den of lawlessness for was to find out if anyone wanted to go down to swim from the ridge. But i can see that you won’t do that.”<br>“ But won’t we do it? Half a cocktail, padre sahib, until we get our towels, and no problem.!”<br>A little preparation.<br>There was only a month left until the easter semester, when stetson major, a day laborer, fell ill with diphtheria, and the director was very angry. He established a new and narrower set of boundaries – the infection was traced to a neighboring farmhouse – urged the prefects to strictly punish all violators and promised additional attention from his side. There weren’t enough bad words for stettson major, quarantined at his mother’s house, who lowered the school’s average health score. He said this in the gym after prayer. Then he wrote about two hundred letters to the same number of anxious parents and guardians and asked the school to continue. The trouble did not spread, but one night a dog team drove up to the headman’s door, and in the morning the headman left, leaving all matters in the care of mr. King, the head housekeeper. The director often visited the city, where, as the school firmly believed, he bribed officials for early checks of exam papers in the army; but this absence was unusually long.<br>“ Fluffy old bird!” Stalky told the allies one rainy afternoon in the office. “He must have backed out and been locked up under a false name.”<br>“ Why?” The beetle happily joined the slander.<br>“ Forty shillings or a month for knocking out a pavvy chucker on your shins. Bates always has fun when he comes to town. It’s a pity he didn’t come back. I’m talking about “whips”, “scorpions” and lectures on the spirit of public schools – yes!- And a scholarship!”<br>“‘ The crude and materialized cruelty of the middle class – i read solely for the sake of grades. Not a single scientist in the whole school,” mcturk quoted, thoughtfully drilling holes in the mantelpiece with a red-hot poker.<br>“ It’s a pretty painful way to spend the day. And it stinks too. Let’s go out and smoke. Here’s a treat. Stalky held up a long indian cigar. “I bought it from my father last vacation. Although i’m a little shy of it; it’s heavier than a tube. We’ll smoke it in a friendly way. Pass it around, eh? Let’s lie down behind an old harrow on the road to the monkey farm.”<br>“ Out of reach. Borders are awfully strict these days, too. Besides, we’ll be feline. Beetle sniffed critically at his cigar. “This is an ordinary pompous stinker..”<br>“ You can, but i won’t. What do you say, turkey?”<br>“ Oh, may’s fine, i guess.”<br>“ Then put on your cap. That’s two to one. Bug, come out, you’ve come!”<br>They saw a group of boys at the bulletin board in the hallway; among them was little foxy, the school sergeant.<br>“ More boundaries, i guess,” stalky said. “Hello, foxybus, who are you grieving for?” Foxy had a wide crepe ribbon on her arm.<br>“ He served in my old regiment,” foxy said, nodding his head towards the advertisements, where a newspaper clipping was attached between the lists of conscripts.<br>“ By gum! Stalky said, opening it as he read. “It’s old duncan-fat pig duncan-killed in the line of duty in some hospital. ‘Rallies his men with conspicuous gallantry.’ Of course he would. ‘The body has been found.’ It’s all right. They cut them sometimes, don’t they, foxy?”<br>“ Terrible,” the sergeant said shortly.<br>“ Poor old fat pig! I was a queer when he left. How much does this mean to us, foxy?”<br>“ Mr. Duncan, he’s the ninth. He came here when he was no bigger than a little gray tertius. And my old regiment, too. Yes, nine for us, mr. Corkran, is up to date.”<br>The boys went out into the wet street, walking fast.<br>“ I wonder what it’s like to be shot and all that,” stalky said as they splashed along the path. “Where did this happen, bug?”<br>“ Oh, somewhere in india. We always ride there. But listen, stalky, what’s the good of sitting under a hedge and catching cats? It’s very cold outside. It’s very damp outside, and they’ll grab us as sure as a gun.”<br>“ Shut up! Did you ever know that your uncle stalky has already gotten you into trouble?”Like many other leaders, stalky did not dwell on past defeats. They broke through the wet hedge, landed among the water-swollen clods of earth and sat down on a rust-covered harrow. The cigar caught fire, splashing saltpeter. They smoked it carefully, passing it to each other between the closed index and thumb fingers.<br>“ It’s a good thing we didn’t have one for each, wasn’t it? Stalky said, trembling through clenched teeth. To prove his words, he immediately laid everything out in front of them, and they followed his example…<br>“ I told you,” the beetle groaned, sweating sticky. “Oh, stalky, you’re a fool!”<br>“ I’m a cat, you’re a cat, i’m a cat. No cattons!” Mcturk gave his contribution and hopelessly lay down on cold iron.<br>“ There’s something wrong with this nasty thing. I say, bug, did you drip ink on him?”<br>But the beetle was by no means going to answer. Sluggish and exhausted, they sprawled across the harrow, rust marked their ulsters in red squares, and a discarded cigar butt stank under their very cold noses. Then-they heard nothing -the head himself appeared before them – the head who was supposed to be in town and bribe the examiners – the head fantastically dressed in old tweed and hunting deer!<br>“ Ah,” he said, tugging at his mustache. “Very good. I could have guessed who it was. You go back to college, give my compliments to mr. King, and ask him to do something special for you. Then you will write me five hundred lines. I’ll be back tomorrow. Five hundred lines by five o’clock tomorrow. You are also closed for a week. Now is not the right time to violate the boundaries of what is allowed. Something special, please.”<br>He disappeared behind the hedge as easily as he had appeared. A hum of female voices could be heard in the depths of the alley.<br>“ Oh, you pro-american brute! Mcturk said as the voices faded away. “Stalky, it’s all your stupid fault.”<br>“ Kill him! Kill him! The beetle gasped.<br>“ I can not. I’m going to kat’s again… I don’t mind it, but king will gloat terribly over us. Extra-special, oo!”<br>Stalky said nothing, not even gently. They went to college and got what they were sent for. The king enjoyed himself most thoroughly, since, by virtue of their seniority, the boys were released from his hand, with the exception of a special order. Fortunately, he wasn’t an expert in the gentle arts.<br>“‘ It’s strange how desire outstrips fulfillment,” the beatle said irreverently, quoting some shakespeare play they were cramming this term into. They went back to their office and got to work.<br>“ You’re absolutely right, beetle. Stalky spoke in an insinuating and soothing tone. “Now, if the head sent us to the prefect, we would have something to remember!”<br>“ Look,” mcturk began with cold malice, “we’re not going to have a row with you about this case, because it’s too bad for a row; but we want you to understand that you’re damned well excommunicated, stalky. You’re just an ass.”<br>“ How was i supposed to know that the boss would put a collar on us? What was he doing in those awful clothes, too?”<br>“ Don’t try to raise a minor issue,” the beetle growled sternly.<br>“ Well, it’s all stettson major’s fault. If he hadn’t caught diphtheria, this wouldn’t have happened. But don’t you think it’s kind of weird to dump your head on us like that?”<br>“ Shut up! You’re dead! The beetle said. “We’ve cut the spurs off your nasty heels. We’ve turned your shield upside down and… And i don’t think you should be allowed to cook for a month.”<br>“ Oh, stop staring at me. I want to-”<br>“ Stop? Why, why, we’re closed for a week. Mcturk almost howled as the agony of the situation gripped him. “Licking from king, five hundred lines and gatine. Are you waiting for us to kiss you, stalky, you beast?”<br>“ Stop rotting for a minute. I want to find out that the head was where he was.”<br>“ Well, you have. You found him quite healthy and fit. Caught him making love with stettson major’s mother. It was her on the path-i heard her. And so we were ordered to lick in front of the day laborer’s mother. And the skinny old widow, too,” mcturk said. “Is there anything else you would like to find out?”<br>“ I don’t care. I swear i’ll get even with him someday,” stalky growled.<br>“ It looks like it,” mcturk said. “Extra-special offer, weekly fee and five hundred… And now you’re going to make a fuss about it! Help me scratch him, bug!” Stalky threw his virgil at them.<br>The principal returned the next day without explanation and found that there were queues waiting for him, and the school relaxed a little under the guidance of the viceroy, mr. King. King spoke in a high and unintelligible style about the spirit of public schools and the traditions of ancient places, around and over the heads of boys, for he always improved the situation. Apart from awakening in two hundred and fifty young hearts a living hatred of all other foundations, he achieved little – so little that when two days after the return of the head, he accidentally stumbled upon stalky & co. Closed, but always resourceful, playing marbles in the hallway, he said he wasn’t surprised-not at all surprised. This was what he expected from people with their morale.<br>“ But there are no rules against balloons, sir. A very interesting game,” said beetle, his knees white with chalk and dust. Then he received two hundred lines for his audacity, in addition to the order to go to the nearest prefect for trial and massacre.<br>This is what happened behind the closed doors of flint’s office, and flint was then the head of games:-<br>“ Oh, i’m talking, flint. The king sent me to you for playing marbles in the corridor, shouting “alley thor” and “fist down.”.’”<br>“ What does he think i have to do with it?”There was an answer.<br>“ Don’t know. Well?” The beetle grinned maliciously. “What should i tell him? He’s pretty angry about it.”<br>“ If the director decides to put up a notice in the corridor forbidding the use of balloons, i can do something; but i can’t move according to the house manager’s report. He knows it as well as i do..”<br>Beetle conveyed the meaning of this oracle, quite unsatisfactorily, to king, who hurried to interview flint.<br>Flint has now spent seven and a half years in college, counting six months with a london geek, from whose roof he returned, homesick, to head for the final army polish. There were four or five other high school students who had passed through almost the same mill, not to mention boys rejected by other institutions due to a certain excess, whom the head brought into very good shape. King discovered that the pole could not be handled without gloves.<br>“ Am i to understand that you intend to allow board games under your office windows, flint? If so, i can only say… He talked a lot, and flint listened politely..<br>“ Well, sir, if the head deems it necessary to convene a meeting of prefects, we will definitely raise this issue. But the tradition of the school is that prefects cannot interfere in any matter affecting the whole school without a direct order from the headmaster.”<br>Then a lot more was done and both sides lost their composure a bit.<br>After tea, at an informal meeting of prefects in his office, flint told about the adventure.<br>“ He’s been trying to do this for a whole week, and now he has it. You know as well as i do that if he didn’t gass us the way he does, this young devil bug wouldn’t dream of balloons.”<br>“ We know that,” perowne said, “but that’s not the question. On flint’s show, king called prefects enough to justify a first-class scandal. Failures of cramming, poorly regulated hobbling, isn’t it? Now this is not possible for prefects-”<br>“ Rot,” flint said. “King is the best classical cramming we have, and it’s not fair to bother your head with a scandal. He’s already up to his ears in overtime and army work. Besides, as i told king, we are not a public school. We are a limited liability company, we pay four percent. My father is also a shareholder.”<br>“ What does this have to do with the case? Venner, a nineteen-year-old red-haired guy, asked.<br>“ Well, it seems to me that we should interfere with ourselves. We should join the army or… Leave, right? King is hired by the council to teach us. Everything else is bullshit. Can’t you see?”<br>Perhaps because he felt the air was a bit stormy, the head took his afternoon cigar to flint’s office; but he began the evening so often in the prefect’s room that no one suspected when he thoughtfully came after the blows that etiquette demanded.<br>“ A meeting of prefects?” A rooster with one wise eyebrow.<br>“ Not exactly, sir; we’re just discussing everything. Would you like to sit in an easy chair?”<br>“ Thanks. Gorgeous babies, that’s who you are.”He flopped down on flint’s big couch and puffed in silence for a while. “Well, since you’re all here, i can admit that i’m dumb with a bowstring.”<br>The young faces became serious. This phrase meant that some of their number would be removed from all further games for additional training. It could also mean future success at sandhurst, but for the first fifteen it was a real ruin.<br>“ Yes, i came for my pound of meat. I should have taken you out of the game before the match with exeter, but our sacred duty is to beat exeter..”<br>“ Isn’t the old boys match sacred too, sir? Perowne asked. The old boys match became an event of the easter semester.<br>“ Let’s hope they’re not in training. Now let’s move on to the list. I need flint first. Euclid does it. You should work with me on deduction. Perowne, additional mechanical hood. Dawson goes to mr. King for extra latin, and venner goes to me for german. Did i damage the first fifteen badly?” He smiled sweetly.<br>“ I’m afraid i messed it up, sir,” flint said. “Can’t you let us go until the end of the semester?”<br>“ Impossible. Sandhurst is going to have a tough time this year.”<br>“ And all this will also be cut by these vile afghans,” dawson said. “I didn’t think there would be so much competition, did i?”<br>“ Oh, that reminds me. Crandall is going with the old boys-i’ve invited twenty of them, but we won’t get more than a weak team. Although i do not know if it will be of much use. He was pretty confused about returning poor old duncan’s body.”<br>“ Is crandall a major shooter? Perowne asked.<br>“ No, junior is ‘toffee’ crandall is in a native infantry regiment. He was almost before you, perowne.”<br>“ Nothing was said about him in the newspapers. Of course, we read about the fat sow. What did crandall do, sir?”<br>“ I brought the indian newspaper that his mother sent me. It was a pretty-heavy, i think you said-job. Should i read it?”The head could read. When he finished a quarter column of fine print, everyone politely thanked him.<br>“ Well done, old call!” Said perowne. – It’s a pity that he didn’t have time to save the fat pig. That’s nine for us, isn’t it, in the last three years?”<br>“ Yes… And i removed old duncan from all games for an additional fee five years ago this semester,” the head said. “By the way, who are you passing the games to, flint?”<br>“ I haven’t thought about it yet. Who would you recommend, sir?”<br>“ No, thanks. I’ve heard it casually hinted behind my back that prooshan bates is a small fry, but he’s not going to take responsibility for the new head of games. Settle this among yourselves. Good night.”<br>“ And this is the person,” flint said as the door closed, “that you want to bother because of a school fight with a lady.”<br>“ I was just pulling up your fat leg,” perowne hastily replied. “You’re so easy to draw, flint.”<br>“ Well, don’t mind it. The head blew the first fifteen to pieces, and we have to pick up the pieces, otherwise the old boys will be bypassed. Let’s spin all the second fifteen and make the big side play better. There is a lot of talent somewhere that we can polish before the end of the match.”<br>The case was so urgently presented to the school that even stalky and mcturk, who pretended to despise football, seriously played one big game. They were immediately promoted before their ardor had time to cool, and the dignity of their caps required that they retain some semblance of virtue. The match team worked at least four days out of seven, and the school saw hope ahead.<br>With the last week of the semester, the “old boys” began to arrive, and their reception was quite commensurate with their dignity. The gentlemen cadets from sandhurst and woolwich, who had left just a year ago but were doing a great service, were greeted with a cheerful “hello! What does the store look like?” From those who shared their research. Junior police officers showed more attention, but it was clear that they were not quite made of real metal. Recreants who, having failed in the army, went into business or banks, were accepted the old-fashioned way, but in no case did they attach too much importance to them. But when the real junior officers and gentlemen in full force, who had been to the edge of the world and back, and therefore had no side, strolled on the stage with the head, the school divided right and left in admiring silence. And when someone laid hands on flint, even on the head of the games, exclaiming: “dear god! What do you mean by such growth? You were a nasty little faggot when i left,” visible halos surrounded flint. They walked up and down the corridor with the little red-haired school sergeant, telling news about old shelves; they burst into classrooms, inhaling the familiar smells of ink and whitewash; they would find nephews and cousins in junior high and give them enormous wealth; or they would invade the gym and force foxy to demonstrate new positions on the uneven bars.<br>Mostly, however, they talked to the head, who was the father confessor and general agent for them all.; For what they shouted in their thoughtless youth, they proved in their thoughtless maturity, namely, that prooshan bates was a “fluffy bird.” A young blood who got into trouble with the daughter of a pastry chef in plymouth; an experience who received a small inheritance, but did not trust lawyers; ambition, stopping at the crossroads of roads, striving to choose the one that will lead him the furthest; extravagance, pursued by a moneylender; arrogance in the thick of a regimental quarrel – each carried his own misfortune to his head; and chiron showed him, in a language completely unsuitable for little boys, a quiet and safe way around, out or under. So they filled his house, smoked his cigars and drank to his health, as they drank all over the earth when two or three of the old school gathered.<br>“ Don’t stop smoking for a minute,” the manager said. “The more you don’t train, the better it is for us. I demoralized the first fifteen with an extra.”<br>“ Ah, but we have a lot of scratches. Did you tell them we’d need a replacement even if crandall could play?” – Said a lieutenant of engineering troops with a d.S.O. Diploma to his credit.<br>“ He texted me that he was going to play, so he couldn’t have been hurt too much. He’s coming tomorrow morning.”<br>“ Crandall, who was underage, and took poor duncan’s body away?” The head nodded. “Where are you going to put him? We have already kicked you out of the house, chief sahib.” It was the commander of a squadron of bengal lancers who had returned home on vacation..<br>“ I’m afraid he’ll have to go up to his old dorm. You know that old people can claim this privilege. Yes, i think little crandall minor should go back to sleep there..”<br>“ Bates sahib,” the gunslinger wrapped his heavy arm around the chief’s neck, “you have something hidden up your sleeve. Admit it! I know that light.”<br>“ Don’t you see, you cuckoo?” The miner from the submarine interrupted her. “Crandall goes up to the dorm as an object lesson, for moral effect, and so on. Isn’t that true, chief sahib?”<br>“ So it is. You know too much, purvis. I licked you for that in ’79.”<br>“ You did it, sir, and, in my personal opinion, you drew a cane with chalk.”<br>“ N-no. But i have a very perceptive eye. This may have misled you.”<br>It opened the floodgates of fresh memories, and they all told stories outside of school.<br>When crandall jr. That is, lieutenant r. Crandall, from a private indian regiment, arrived from exeter on the morning of the match, he was welcomed throughout the college because the prefects repeated the meaning of what their head had read in flint’s office. When the house of prout realized that he would claim his old man’s right to a bed for one night, the beetle ran to king’s house next door and staged a public “schadenfreude” up and down the enemy’s large classroom, retiring in a haze of inkwells.<br>“ What are you even paying attention to attention to these rotten things?”Said stalky, the old boys substitute, gorgeous in a black tank top, white knickers and black stockings. “I talked to him in the dorm when he was changing clothes. She pulled off his sweater. All his hands are cut-terrible purple. He’s going to tell us about it tonight. I asked him about it when i was lacing up his shoes.”<br>“ Well, you have the audacity,” said the beetle with envy.<br>“ Slipped out sooner than i thought. But he wasn’t the least bit angry. He’s a great guy. I swear i’ll play like beans. Tell turkey!”<br>The technique of this duel belongs to a bygone era. The fights were tough and prolonged; the hacking was direct and purposeful; and the school was standing around the fight, shouting: “lower your heads and hit!”Towards the end, everyone lost all sense of decency, and the mothers of day laborers who were too close to the contact line heard expressions not included in the bills. No one was actually carried off the field, but both sides felt happier when the time was announced and beetle helped stalky and mcturk put on their coats. The two met in the many-legged heart of things and, as stalky said, “made each other proud.” As they strutted woodenly behind the teams-spare men are not equal to hairy men-they passed a pony cart by the wall, and a hoarse voice shouted: “well played. Oh, really played!”It was stettson major, white-skinned and hollow-eyed, who made his way to the ground under the escort of an impatient coachman.<br>“ Hello, stettson,” stalky said, checking. “Is it still safe to approach you?”<br>“ Oh yeah. I’m all right. They didn’t let me out before, but i had to come to the match. Your mouth looks pretty plump.”<br>“ Turkey stepped on it by accident-with-a-definite-purpose. Well, i’m glad you’re feeling better, because we owe you something. You and your membranes have dragged us into a sweet story, young man.”<br>“ I’ve heard about it,” the boy said, giggling. “The head told me.”<br>“ What did he do! When?”<br>“ Oh, let’s go up to call. My shin will harden ’ if we stay here chatting.”<br>“ Shut up, turkey. I want to know about it. Well?”<br>“ He lived in our house all the time while i was ill.”<br>“ Why? Neglecting the ring. In this way? “I thought he was in town.””<br>“ I was out of my mind, you know, and they said i kept calling him.”<br>“ Cheeky! You’re just a day laborer.”<br>“ He came anyway and almost saved my life. One night i was exhausted-the doctor said i was just going to wheeze-and they put a tube or something in my throat and my head sucked out the fluid.”<br>“ Ugh! – They would have shot me if i wanted to!”<br>“ The doctor said that he himself had to get diphtheria. So he stayed in our house instead of coming back. The doctor says i’d be dead in another twenty minutes’.”<br>Here the coachman, obeying the order, jumped up and almost ran over the trinity.<br>“ My hat! The beetle said. “This is pretty average heroism.”<br>“ Pretty mediocre!” Mcturk’s knee in the small of his back threw him to stalky, who threw him back. “You should be hanged!”<br>“ And the head should get a vc,” stalky said. “Why, he could have been dead and buried by now. But it wasn’t like that. But he didn’t. Ho! Ho! He just skipped through the hedge like a horny old blackbird. Extra-special offer, five hundred lines, closed for a week – everything is finished!”<br>“ I read about something like that in a book,” the beatle said. “Gammy, what a guy! Just think about it!”<br>“ I think,” said mcturk; and he let out a wild irish yell that made the team turn around.<br>“ Shut your fat mouth,” stalky said, dancing with impatience. “Leave it to your uncle stalky, and he’ll eat the head on toast. If you say a word, beetle, until i give you permission, i swear i’ll kill you. Habeo capitem crinibus minimis. I’m holding him by his short hair! Now look as if nothing has happened.”<br>There was no need for cunning. The school was too busy welcoming a draw in the match. He hung around the toilets, despite the dirty shoes, while the team washed. He cheered crandall minor every time he saw him, and after prayers he rejoiced even more fiercely than ever, because there were old men in evening suits, openly twirling their moustaches, and instead of standing with the teachers, lined up along the wall directly in front of the elders; and the headman called them too – majors, minors and thirds, by their old names.<br>“ Yes, it’s all very well,” he told his guests after dinner, “but the boys are getting a little out of control. I’m afraid there will be trouble and sadness later. You’d better go to bed early, crandall. The hostel will be waiting for you. I do not know to what dizzying heights you can rise in your profession, but i know for sure that you will never receive such absolute adoration as now..”<br>“ To hell with this adoration. I want to finish my cigar, sir.”<br>“ It’s all pure gold. Go where the glory awaits you, crandall minor..”<br>The scene of this apotheosis was a dormitory in the attic with ten beds, communicating through doorless openings with three others. The gas flickered over the untreated pine washbasins. The draughts did not stop whistling, and behind the bare windows the sea was beating against pebbleridge.<br>“ Same old bed-same old mattress, i think,” crandall said, yawning. “Everything is the same as before. Oh, but i’m lame! I had no idea you guys could play like that.” He stroked his bruised shin. “You gave us all something to remember you by.”<br>It took a few minutes to calm them down; and in some way they couldn’t understand, they felt better when crandall turned around and said his prayers-a ceremony he had neglected for several years..<br>“ Oh, i’m so sorry. I forgot to turn off the gas.”<br>“ Please don’t worry,” said the prefect of the dormitory. “Worthington is doing it.”<br>A twelve-year-old boy in a nightgown, who was just waiting for an opportunity to show off, jumped from his bed to the bracket and back using the washbasin.<br>“ How do you cope when he’s asleep? Crandall said, chuckling.<br>“ Stick a cold blade in his neck.”<br>“ It was a wet sponge when i was a junior in the dorm… Hi! What’s happening?”<br>The darkness was filled with whispers, the sound of dragging carpets, bare feet on bare boards, protests, giggles and threats such as:<br>“ Shut up, you ass!… Then squat on the floor!… I swear you won’t sit on my bed!… Be careful with the dental glass”, etc…<br>“ Sta-corkran said,” the prefect began, his tone indicating that he sensed stalky’s insolence, “that perhaps you would tell us about the case with duncan’s body.”<br>“ Yes, yes, yes,” ran a shrill whisper. “Tell us”<br>“ There’s nothing to tell. Why the hell are you guys jumping in the cold?”<br>“ Don’t pay any attention to us,” the voices said. “Tell me about the fat sow.”<br>So crandall turned on his pillow and addressed the generation he couldn’t see.<br>“ So, about three months ago, he commanded a treasure guard -a cart full of rupees to pay for troops- five thousand rupees in silver. He was on his way to a place called fort pearson, near calabah.”<br>“ I was born there,” squeaked the little faggot. “He was named after my uncle.”<br>“ Shut up-you and your uncle! Don’t mind him, crandall..”<br>“ Well, never mind. The afridi found out that this treasure was on the move and they ambushed the entire show a couple of miles before he got to the fort and cut out the escort. Duncan was wounded, and the escort hooked him. There were no more than twenty sepoys in total, and there were as many afridi as you like. As it turned out, i was in charge at fort pearson. The thing is, i heard gunfire and was just about to see what was going on when duncan’s men came up. So we all turned back together. They told me something about an officer, but i couldn’t get to the bottom of the matter until i saw a guy under the wheels of a cart in an open place, leaning on one hand and firing a revolver. You see, the escort abandoned the cart, and the afridi-they’re a terribly suspicious gang-thought the retreat was a trap-sort of a prank, you know-and the cart was a decoy. So they left poor old duncan alone. “As soon as they noticed how few of us there were, there was a race all over the plain to see who would get to old duncan first. We ran, and they ran, and we won, and after a little fuss they left. I never knew it was one of us until i was right on top of it. There are a lot of duncans in the service, and, of course, this name didn’t remind me of anything. He hasn’t changed much at all. He was shot through the lungs, poor man, and he was very thirsty. I gave him a drink and sat down next to him, and -which is also funny – he said, “hello, toffee!” And i said, “hello, fat pig! I hope you’re not hurt,” or something like that. But he died in a minute or two-without lifting his head from my lap… I say, you guys will die of cold there. You’d better go to bed.”<br>“ It’s all right. In a minute. But your cuts are your cuts. How did you get injured?”<br>“ It was when we were taking the body back to the fort. They came forward again and there was a little scuffle.”<br>“ Have you killed anyone?”<br>“ Yes. Don’t be surprised. Good night.”<br>“ Good night. Thank you, crandall. Thank you so much, crandall. Good night.”<br>The invisible crowds retreated. His own bedroom rustled in bed and lay silent for a while.<br>“ I’m talking, crandall,” stalky’s voice was tuned to a completely alien reverence.<br>“ So what?”<br>“ Suppose one guy found another guy wheezing from diphtheria-full of it-and they stuck a tube down his throat and the guy sucked the stuff out, what would you say?”<br>“ Um,” crandall said thoughtfully. “I only heard about one case, and it was a doctor. He did it for a woman.”<br>“ Oh, it wasn’t a woman. It was just a boy.”<br>“ Then everything becomes even more beautiful. This is the bravest thing a man can do. Why?”<br>“ Oh, i heard about a guy who does this. That’s all.”<br>“ Then he’s a brave man.”<br>“ Would you mind doing that?”<br>“ Ra-ater. Anyone would do that. Imagine a cold-blooded death from diphtheria.”<br>“ Well-uh-uh! Eh! Look here!”The sentence ended with a grunt, because stalky jumped off the bed and, together with mcturk, sat on the beetle’s head, which would immediately launch a mine.<br>The next day, which was the last of the semester and was devoted to several completely unimportant exams, began with anger and war. Mr. King discovered that almost all of his house-it was, as you know, next door to prout’s house, with the exception of one in a long row of buildings-unlocked the doors between the dormitories and went in to listen to the story told by crandall. He went to the head, noisy, insulted, crying out; for he never approved of the so-called secular youths defiling the morality of childhood. Very well, said the head, he will take care of it.<br>“ Well, i’m terribly sorry,” crandall said apologetically. “I don’t think i told them anything they shouldn’t have heard. Don’t let them get into trouble because of me.”<br>“ Tk!” – The head replied with a barely noticeable wink. “It’s not the boys who create problems, it’s the masters. However, prout and king do not approve of dorm meetings of this magnitude, and the housekeepers need to be supported. Moreover, it is hopeless to punish only two houses, and even so late. We must be fair and include everyone. Let’s take a look. They have a festive task for the easter people, which, of course, none of them will ever look at. We will give the whole school, with the exception of the headman and the students, the usual preparation for tonight; and the common room will have to provide a teacher to receive him. We must be fair to everyone.”<br>“ Preparation on the last evening of the semester. Wow! Crandall said, thinking of his own turbulent youth. “I think there will be larks there.”<br>The school, frolicking among packed trunks, hooting in the hallway and “gloating” in the classrooms, took the news with amazement and fury. There was no training in any school in the world. On the last night of the semester. It was monstrous, tyrannical, and undermined the law, religion, and morality. They went to the classrooms and took their humiliating holiday assignment with them, but… Here they smiled and wondered what kind of person the common room would send against them. The lot fell on mason, trusting and enthusiastic, who loved youth. No other teacher sought to undergo this “training” because the school lacked the sustained influence of tradition; and people accustomed to the orderly routine of the ancient foundations sometimes found it insubordinate. Four long classrooms, in which everyone who was younger than the students worked, greeted him with stormy applause. Before he coughed twice, they honored him with a summary of the marriage laws of great britain, written down by the high priest of the israelites and commented on by the leader of the host. The lower forms reminded him that it was the last day, and that therefore he should “take it all into play.” When he rushed to tell them off, the lower quarter and the upper third began to cheer unanimously, loudly and realistically. Mr. Mason tried, of all the futile things in the world, to argue with them, and the brave soul at the back desk told him to “write fifty lines for not ”getting old”, this is “and before you speak.” As a man who prides himself on the perfection of his english, this struck a chord with mason, and while he was trying to find the culprit, the upper and lower seconds, who were three classes away from him, turned off the gas and threw inkwells. It was a pleasant and stimulating ”preparation”. The students and elders heard the distant echo of this, and the common room smiled over dessert.<br>Stalky waited with his watch in his hand until half past eight. “If this continues for a long time, the head will rise,” he said. “First we will talk about studying, and then about the dorm rooms. Keep your eyes peeled!”<br>He didn’t give the beatle time to dramatize, and mcturk to stretch the words. They poured into office after office, told their story and left again as soon as they saw that they were understood, without waiting for any comments; while the noise from this unholy “preparation” grew and deepened. At the door of flint’s office, they met mason flying into the hallway.- “He went for the head. Hurry up! Come on!”They burst into classroom number twelve in a row and were breathing heavily.<br>“ The head! The head! In the head!” This call calmed the commotion for a minute, and stalky, jumping up to the table, shouted: “he went and sucked diphtheria ointment out of stettson major’s throat when we thought he was in town. Stop rotting, you donkeys! Stettson major would have wheezed if his head hadn’t done it. The head could have died himself. Crandall says it’s the bravest thing anyone can do in the world, and i”-his voice faltered-“the head doesn’t know what we know!”<br>Mcturk and beetle, jumping from desk to desk, spread the news among the younger classes. There was a pause, and then, mason following him, the head came in. In the established order of things, no boy was supposed to speak or move under his gaze. He expected the silence of awe. He was greeted with applause-steady, continuous applause. Being a wise man, he left, and the forms were silent and a little scared.<br>“ It’s all right,” stalky said. “There’s not much he can do. “It’s not as if you moved the desks the way we did when old carlton was taking the cooking one day. Keep up the good work! Hear them applauding in the offices!”He flew out screaming and saw that flint and the prefects were removing the roof from the corridor.<br>When the head of a limited liability company paying four percent is encouraged on his holy way to prayers, not only four formally-room boys awaiting punishment, but his trusted elders can either ask for explanations or walk their way with dignity, while the elder the housekeeper looks like an excited cat and points out to the white and trembling math teacher that certain methods-thank god, not his-usually lead to certain results. Out of delicacy, the “old boys” did not show up for this roll call; and it was to the school, lined up in the gym, that the director addressed in an icy tone.<br>“ It doesn’t often happen that i don’t understand you; but, i confess, i don’t understand it tonight. Some of you, after your idiotic speeches in prep school, seem to think i’m the right person to cheer. I’m going to show you what i’m not.”<br>Crash-crash-crash-there was a triple greeting that belied this, and the head flashed angrily under the gas. “That’s enough. You won’t win anything. Little boys (the younger classes did not like this form of address) will write me three hundred lines each during the holidays. I won’t pay any more attention to them. The high school will write me a thousand lines on vacation to show me the evening of the day when they return. And further-”<br>“ Gammy, what a glutton! Stalky whispered.<br>“ For your behavior towards mr. Mason, i intend to lick the whole high school tomorrow when i give you the money for the road. This will include three students whom i found dancing on the desks in the classroom when i came upstairs. The prefects will remain after the roll call.”<br>The school silently left, but gathered in groups at the gym doors, waiting for what might happen.<br>“ And now, flint,“ said the head, “would you be so kind as to give me some explanation of your behavior?”<br>“ Well, sir,” flint said desperately, “if you save a guy’s life by risking your own when he’s dying of diphtheria, and call. Finds out about it, what… What can you expect, sir?”<br>“ Hmm, i understand. Then this noise was not intended for… Ah, cheeks. I can condone immorality, but i can’t stand impudence. However, this does not justify their insolence towards mr. Mason. This time i’ll give up the lines, remember; but the licks are still valid..”<br>When this news became public, the school, lost in amazement and admiration, gasped at the sight of the director as he walked to his home. He was a man to be revered. On those rare occasions when he beat with a stick, he did it very scientifically, and the execution of hundreds of boys would have been epic – huge.<br>“ It’s all right, chief sahib. We know,” crandall said as the head slid off his robe with a grunt in his smoking room. “I just found out about it from our deputy. He wanted to know my opinion about your performance last night in the dorm. I didn’t know then that he was talking about you. A cunning young animal. The freckled guy with the eyes is corkran, i think his name is.”<br>“ Oh, i know him, thank you,” said the head and said thoughtfully. “Yes, i should have turned them on even if i hadn’t seen them.”<br>“ If the old call. If you weren’t already a little taller than yourself, we would have escorted you down the corridor,” the engineer said. “Oh, bates, how could you? You could have picked it up yourself, and then where would we be?”<br>“ I always knew you were worth twenty of us any day. Now i’m sure of it,” the squadron commander said, looking around for contradictions.<br>“ However, he is not fit to run a school. Promise you’ll never do it again, bates sahib. We… We will not be able to leave quietly if you take such a risk,” the shooter said.<br>“ Bates”sahib, you’re not going to flog the whole high school, are you? Crandall said.<br>“ I can condone immorality, as i said, but i can’t stand arrogance. Mason’s fate is hard enough, even when i support him. Also, the men at the golf club heard them singing ‘aaron and moses’. I will have complaints about this from the parents of day boys. Decency must be preserved.”<br>“ We will come to the rescue,” all the guests said.<br>High school students were beaten with sticks one by one, their coats were thrown over their arms, brakes were waiting on the road below to take them to the station, money for travel lay on the table. The chapter began with stalky, mcturk and the beetle. He treated them conscientiously.<br>“ And here’s the money for the road. Goodbye and have a nice holiday.”<br>“ Goodbye. Thank you, sir. Goodbye.”<br>They shook hands. “Desire is not far ahead of performance this morning. We got the best of everything,” stalky said. “Now wait for a few guys to come out and we’ll really cheer him up.”<br>“ Please don’t wait because of us,” crandall said, speaking on behalf of the old boys. “We’re going to start right now.”<br>It was very good while the applause was limited to the corridor, but when it spread to the gymnasium, when the boys waiting for their turn cheered, the director in despair refused it, and the remnants rushed to him to shake hands. Then they seriously devoted themselves to cheering until the brakes were taken out of the room in a silent show.<br>“ Didn’t i say i’d get even with him? Stalky said on the box as they turned onto narrow northam street. “Now we’re all together – taking time away from your uncle stalky:<br>So in our army, so in our navy, so in our public schools, that no one can deny!”<br>The flag of your country.<br>It was winter, and it was very cold in the morning. Consequently, stalky and beetle-mcturk belonged to the aggressive type of people who, under any circumstances, create an ornate toilet- dozed until the last moment before going out to roll call in the gas-lit gym. From this it followed that they were often late; and since they were given a black mark for every non-punctuality, and three black marks a week meant a drill for non-payers, it also followed that they spent hours under the supervision of a sergeant. Foxy drilled the defaulters with all the pomp of his old parade ground. “Don’t think it gives me pleasure” (his intro never changed). “I’d rather smoke my pipe in my cabin in peace, but i see we have an old crew visiting this afternoon. If only i’d made you a regular visitor, mr. Corkran,” he said, tying the rope.<br>“ I’ve been with you for almost six weeks, you old glutton. The number is off on the right!”<br>“ Not quite like that, please. I accept this exercise. To the left, half-turn! Slow march.”Twenty-five loafers, all old delinquents, entered the gym. “Calmly provide yourself with the necessary dumbbells; calmly return to your seat. Dial the number on the right, in a low voice. Odd numbers are one step ahead. Even numbers stand firm. And now, leaning forward from the ip address, take your time away from me.”<br>Dumbbells rose and fell, collided and returned as one. The boys were experts at the tedious game.<br>“ Very good. I will be sorry if any of you resume your punctuality. Quietly return the dumbbells. Now we will try to perform a few simple exercises.”<br>“ Ugh! I know this is a simple exercise.”<br>“ It would have led to your discredit if you hadn’t, mr. Corkran. At the same time, it’s not as easy as it seems.”<br>“ I’ll bet you a shilling i can drill as well as you, foxy.”<br>“ We’ll see later. And now try to imagine that you are not defaulters at all, but a company of harps on parade, and i am your commander. There is no reason to laugh. If you’re lucky, most of you will have to go through training all your life. Do me a little honor. God knows you’ve been doing this long enough.”<br>They were formed into fours, marching, turning and counter-marching, the spell of orderly movement was strong on them. As foxy said, they’ve been doing this for a long time.<br>The gym door opened, and mcturk appeared on the threshold under the supervision of an elderly gentleman.<br>The sergeant leading the wheel did not see. “Not so bad,” he muttered. “Not so bad. The man at the helm is honestly marking time, muster swain. So, mr. Corkran, you say you know the rules of the game? Do me a favor by taking command, and by turning my words over step by step, bring them back to their former state..”<br>“ What is it? What’s it? ” The visitor exclaimed authoritatively.<br>“ A little practice, sir,” foxy muttered, without saying anything about the root causes.<br>“ Excellent – excellent. I just wish there was more of it,” he chirped. “Don’t let me interrupt. You were just going to hand it over to someone, weren’t you?”<br>He sat up, greedily inhaling the cold air. “I’ll ruin everything. I know it will,” stalky whispered uneasily.; And his discomfort was not mitigated by whispers from the back rows that the elderly gentleman was general collinson, a member of the college board.<br>“ Uh-what? Foxy asked.<br>“ Collinson, c.C.B.-He commanded the pompadours-my father’s old regiment,” hissed swain major.<br>“ Take your time,” the visitor said. “I know how it feels. Your first workout – and?”<br>“ Yes, sir.” He sighed with displeasure. “Perseverance. Get dressed!”The echo of his own voice restored his confidence.<br>The wheel was turned around, thrown back, broken into four parts and restored to the line without failures. The official hour of punishment has long passed, but no one thought about it. They retreated from stalky-stalky in mortal fear that his voice might break.<br>“ He does you honor, sergeant,” the visitor commented. “A good drill is a good material for drilling. So, this is an extraordinary thing: i had lunch with your principal, and he never told me that you have a cadet corps in your college.”<br>“ We didn’t do that, sir. It’s just a little practice,” the sergeant said.<br>“ But aren’t they excited about it?” Mcturk said, speaking for the first time, with a twinkle in his deep-set eyes.<br>“ But why aren’t you in it, willie?”<br>“ Oh, i’m not punctual enough,” mcturk said. “The sergeant chooses only us.”<br>“ Fire me! Disperse! Foxy shouted, fearing an explosion in the ranks. “Ya… I should have told you, sir, that-”<br>“ But you must have a cadet corps.” The general stuck to his own line of thought. – You will also have a cadet corps, if my recommendation in the council is at least some useful. I do not know when i have been so pleased. Boys inspired by such a spirit as yours should set an example to the whole school.”<br>“ They’re doing it,” mcturk said.<br>“ Bless my soul! Is it really that late? I made my fly wait for half an hour. Well, i have to run. There is nothing better than seeing everything with your own eyes. At which end of the buildings can i get out? Will you show me, willie? Who was the boy who took the drill?”<br>“ Corkran, i think his name is.”<br>“ You should know him. That’s the kind of boy you should raise. Obviously an unusual variety. A wonderful sight. Twenty-five boys who, i dare say, would much rather play cricket” – (it was deep winter; but adults, especially those who have lived in foreign lands for a long time, make these small mistakes, and mcturk did not correct him) – “training out of pure love from this. It’s a pity to waste so much good material, but i think i can get my point across.”<br>“ And who’s your friend with the white sideburns? Stalky demanded when mcturk returned to the office.<br>“ General collinson. Sometimes he comes to shoot with my father. Besides, it’s a pretty decent old barge. He said i should get to know you, stalky.”<br>“ Did he tip you?”Mcturk demonstrated a blessed one-piece sovereign.<br>“ Ah,” said stalky, attaching it because he was the treasurer. “We will have a strong drink. You’d be pretty cool-headed, turkey, if you said about our insight and punctuality.”<br>“ Didn’t the old man know we were defaulters?” Said the beetle.<br>“ Not him. He went down to lunch with the director. I caught him later, when he was picking at this place on his own hook, and i thought i would show him a dizzying workout. When i discovered that he was so pleased, i wasn’t going to temper his giddy ardor. He probably wouldn’t have given me a pound if i had.”<br>“ Wasn’t old foxy pleased? Did you see how his ears turned pink? The beetle asked. “It was a terrible result for him. Didn’t we support him perfectly? Let’s go down to katie’s and have some cocoa with the sassingers.”<br>They overtook foxy and rushed downstairs to tell about the adventure to keith, who at one time was a senior sergeant of a cavalry regiment, and now became a war veteran, was the local postmaster and pastry chef.<br>“ You owe us something,” stalky said pointedly..<br>“ I’m very grateful, mr. Corkran. I’ve had to run into you pretty hard on the business path from time to time, but i’ll say that outside of business-smoking and the like-i wouldn’t want to have a more reliable young gentleman to pull me out of the hole. The way you did the exercise was fine, even though i’m saying it. Now, if you will come regularly from now on-”<br>“ But he’ll have to be late three times a week,” said beetle. “You can’t expect a guy to do this-just to please you, foxy.”<br>“ Ah, it’s true. Nevertheless, if you could handle it-and you, muster beetle-it would give you a great start when the cadet corps is formed. I expect the general to recommend this.”<br>They had raided kate of their own free will because an old man who knew them well was deep in conversation with foxy. “I’m doing what we took seven and six,” stalky finally shouted from behind the counter, “but you’d better count it yourself.”<br>“ No, no. I’d take your word for it any day, mr. Corkran.”The pompadours, aren’t they, sergeant?” It seems that we once lay with them in ambala.”<br>“ I do not know if this jar of ham and tongue is worth eighteen pence or one and four.”<br>“ Say one and fourpence, mr. Corkran… Of course, sergeant, if my time was of any use, i’d love to do it, but i’m too old. I’d like to see the workout again.”<br>“ Come on, stalky,” mcturk shouted. “He’s not listening to you. Drop the money.”<br>“ I want you to change the pound, asshole. Kate! Private key! Corporal keith! Terrup – senior sergeant keith, will you give me change for a pound?”<br>“ Yes, yes, of course. Seven and six. He looked at me absently, pushed the silver away and disappeared into the darkness of the back room.<br>“ Now these two will be chatting about the mutiny until tea time,” said the beatle.<br>“ Old keith was in sobraon,” stalky said. “Listen to how he talks about it sometimes! Beats foxy hollow.”<br>The head’s face, impenetrable as always, was bent over a stack of letters.<br>“ What do you think about it?”Finally he said to the reverend john gillett.<br>“ It’s a good idea. This cannot be denied – a worthy idea.”<br>“ We allow a lot. Ok?”<br>“ I have my doubts about this – that’s all. The more i learn about the boys, the less i consider myself capable of following their moods; but i confess i will be very surprised if this plan works. This… This is not the nature of the school. We are preparing for the army.”<br>“ My job in this matter is to fulfill the wishes of the council. They demand a voluntary cadet corps. A volunteer cadet corps will be equipped. However, i suggested that we don’t need to spend money on uniforms until we get through the drill. General collinson is sending us fifty types of lethal weapons-he calls them “stripped-down snyders”-all carefully corked.”<br>“ Yes, it is necessary in a school that uses loaded salon pistols to the extent that we do. Reverend john smiled.<br>“ Therefore, there will be no costs other than the sergeant’s time.”<br>“ But if he fails, you will be to blame.”<br>“ Oh, of course. I’m going to put up an ad in the hallway this afternoon, and-”<br>“ I will be watching the result.”<br>“ Please keep your hands away from the new handstand.”Foxy was fighting a violent crowd in the gym. “And even a convicted snyder won’t benefit from the constant clicking of the lock, mr. Swain.- Yes, the form will come later, when we become more experienced; for now we will limit ourselves to drill. I’m here to find out the names of those who want to join.- Put down the snyder, muster hogan!”<br>“ What are you going to do, bug? A voice asked.<br>“ I’ve had as much exercise as i wanted, thank you..”<br>“ What? After everything you’ve learned? Come on! Don’t be a brat! They’ll make you a corporal in a week,” shouted stalky.<br>“ I’m not going to join the army.”The beatle touched his glasses.<br>“ Hold on shaking, foxy,” hogan said. “Where are you going to train us?”<br>“ Here, at the gym, until you’re fit and ready to hit the road.”The sergeant dropped the chest.<br>“ For all the guys from northam to look at it? Not good enough, foxibus.”<br>“ Well, we will not attach much importance to this. First you learn your drill, and then we’ll see.”<br>“ Hi,” macrea’s ansell said, pushing through the crowd. “What is this fuss about the frivolous cadet corps?”<br>“ It will save you a lot of time at sandhurst,” the sergeant quickly replied. “You will be dismissed from your training earlier if you rise with good preparation to and.”<br>“ Hmm! ’I don’t mind learning, but i’m not going to wander around the country with a toy snyder. Perowne, what are you going to do? Hogan joins in.’”<br>“ I don’t know if i have the time,” perowne said. “I have no end of extra-tu anyway.”<br>“ Well, let’s call it an extra,” ansell said. “It won’t take us long to rob the rig.”<br>“ Oh, that’s right, but how about marching in public?”Hogan said, not foreseeing that three years later he would die under the burmese sun outside the minhla fort..<br>“ Are you afraid that the uniform won’t match your creamy complexion? Mcturk asked with a villainous grin.<br>“ Shut up, turkey. You’re not going to join the army’.”<br>“ No, but i’m going to send a replacement. Hi! Morrell and wake up! You two faggots at the armrest, you should volunteer.”<br>Blushing deeply-they had previously been too shy to apply-the young men sidled up to the sergeant.<br>“ But i don’t want little guys-not right away,” the sergeant said with disgust. “I want to… I would like someone from the old crew – defaulters – to give them a little rigidity.”<br>“ Don’t be ungrateful, sergeant. They are almost as big as they are in the army now.” Mcturk read the newspapers of those years, and he could be trusted with the general information he used when he used his “tweaker.”And yet he didn’t know that wake minor would become the bimbashi of the egyptian army before he turned thirty.<br>Hogan, swain, stalky, perowne, and ansell were deep in consultation at the jump horse, stalky, as usual, laying out the law. The sergeant watched them anxiously, knowing that many were waiting for their instructions.<br>“ Foxy doesn’t like my recruits,” mcturk told the beatle with pain in his voice. “Will you bring him some.”<br>Without feeling disgust, the beetle tied two more fags – each no taller than a carbine. “There you are, foxy. Here is food for gunpowder. Fight for your hearths and homes, you young brutes, and do it very quickly.”<br>“ And yet he is unhappy,” mcturk said..<br>“ For how we treat our army is how we deal with our fleet.”<br>Then the beetle joined us. They found this poem in an old volume of punch, and it seemed to illuminate the situation:<br>“ And both of them led to a misfortune, which no one can deny!”<br>“You keep your voice down, young gentlemen. If you can’t ”escape” – don’t interfere.” Foxy’s gaze was still fixed on the horse’s advice. Carter, white, and tyrrell, all influential people, joined him. The others fiddled with their rifles hesitantly. “Stop shaking,” stalky shouted. “Can’t we kick these rotten things out before we get to work?”<br>“ Of course,” foxy said. “Anyone who wishes to join will stay here. Those who do not intend to do this will leave, quietly closing the door behind them..”<br>Half a dozen of the most serious people rushed at them, and they barely had time to escape into the corridor.<br>“ Well, why don’t you join in? Beetle asked, adjusting his collar.<br>“ Why didn’t you do it?”<br>“ What’s good about that? We are not going to join the army. Besides, i know the rules of the game-everything except the manual, of course. I wonder what they’re doing inside?”<br>“ I’m signing a contract with foxy. Didn’t you hear stalky say: “here’s what we’ll do -and ‘if he doesn’t like it, he can quit’? They will use foxy for cramming. Can’t you see, you idiot? In less than a year they will go to sandhurst or to the store. They will learn their drill ’ and then throw it like a shot. Do you think guys with their number of extras take volunteers for fun?”<br>“ Well, i don’t know. I thought about writing a poem about it- they’re rotten, you know-“the ballad of the dog shooters”- and?”<br>“ I don’t think you can, because the king will pile on the hull like a cart with bricks. No one consulted him, he is now sniffing the bulletin board. Let’s lure him in.” They casually approached the owner of the house – the meekest couple.<br>“ How is that? King asked, flinching in mock surprise. “I thought you were going to learn how to fight for your country.”<br>“ I think the company is crowded, sir,” mcturk said.<br>“ It’s a pity,” sighed the beetle.<br>“ Forty valiant defenders, aren’t they? How noble! What devotion! I suppose that perhaps the basis of this zeal is the desire to evade their normal duties. Undoubtedly, they will be granted special privileges, like the choir and the natural history society – not to say that insect hunters.”<br>“ Oh, i suppose so, sir,” mcturk said cheerfully. “The head has not said anything about it yet, but of course he will.”<br>“ Oh, of course i will.”<br>“ It’s just possible, my bug,” king turned to the last speaker: “that the owners of the house – a necessary, but somewhat neglected factor in our modest scheme of existence – can say a word on this issue. Life, at least for the young, is not only weapons and ammunition of war. Education, by the way, is one of our goals.”<br>“ What a consistent pig he is,” mcturk cooed when they were out of earshot. – You always know where to get it. Have you seen how he rose to this draw with his head and special privileges?”<br>“ Damn him, he might have had the decency to support this plan. I could sing such a beautiful ballad, damn it; and now i have to be a frivolous enthusiast. That doesn’t stop us from pulling stalky’s leg in the office, does it?”<br>“ Oh, no; but in coll. We have to be supporters of the cadet corps, like everything else. Can’t you compose a frivolous epigram a la catullus, about the king objecting to it?”Beetle was busy with this noble task when stalky returned all fired up from his first training session.<br>“ Hello, my ramrod-banger! Mcturk began. “Where’s your dead dog? Is it defense or defiance?”<br>“ Disobedience,” stalky said, and jumped on him at the word. “Listen, turkey, you shouldn’t spoil the case. We have arranged everything perfectly. Foxy swears she won’t take us out into the open until we say we want to go.”<br>“ A disgusting exhibition of immature babies’ imitating the peculiarities of their elders. Snort!”<br>“ Did you get the king out, bug? Stalky asked during a pause in the scuffle.<br>“ Not really, but it’s his genius style.”<br>“ Well, listen to your uncle stalky – he’s a great man. Moreover, and subsequently foxy is going to allow us to train the corps in turn – privately and sequentially – so that we will still know how to handle half of the company. Therefore, propter hoc, when we go to the store, we will be released early; thus, my beloved listeners, combine education with healthy entertainment.”<br>“ I knew you’d make something of an extra out of it, you cold-blooded brute,” mcturk said. “Don’t you want to die for your frivolous country?”<br>“ Not if i can avoid it. So you shouldn’t spoil the case.”<br>“ We decided that many years ago,” the beetle said contemptuously. “King will do all this stuff’.”<br>“ Then you should be king, my frivolous poet. Come up with a good memorable limerick, and let the faggots sing it.”<br>“ Listen, you keep volunteering and don’t push at the table.”<br>“ He won’t have anything to hold on to,” stalky said with grim significance.<br>They didn’t know what that meant until a few days later when they offered to watch the corps drill. They found the gym door locked and a fag standing guard. “It’s a sweet cheek,” mcturk said, leaning in.<br>“ You can’t look through the keyhole,” the sentry said.<br>“ I’m loving it. Why, wake up, you little monster, i made you a volunteer.”<br>“ I can’t do anything about it. I’m under orders not to let anyone watch.”<br>“ What if we do it? Mcturk asked. “Suppose we’re happy to kill you?”<br>“ My order is this: i have to give the name of anyone who interfered with me at my post to the corps, and they will deal with him after training, according to martial law.”<br>“ What a brute stalky is! – Said the beetle. They didn’t doubt for a moment who came up with this plan.<br>“ You think you’re a frivolous centurion, don’t you? The beetle said, listening to the crackle of grounded weapons inside.<br>“ I’m ordered not to talk except to explain my orders-they’ll lick me if i do.”<br>Mcturk looked at the beetle. The two shook their heads and turned away.<br>“ I swear stalky is a great man,” the beetle said after a long pause. “One consolation is that this kind of secret society business will drive king crazy.”<br>This worried many more than king, but the members of the corps were as silent as oysters. Foxy, not bound by any vows, brought his sorrows to keith.<br>“ I’ve never encountered such nonsense in my life. They have tiled the gatehouse, internal and external guards, everything is ready, and then they get to work, sharp as mustard.”<br>“ But what is all this for?” – Asked the former military sergeant.<br>“ To learn their drill. You’ve never seen anything like it. They start after i let them go – they practice tricks; but they will not come out in the open – in any case, it will always be so. The fact is that “ole” is an omen. If you are a cadet corps, i say, be a cadet corps, instead of hiding behind locked doors.”<br>“ And what do the authorities say about this?”<br>“This strikes me again.”The sergeant sounded annoyed. “I go to the hospital and she doesn’t help me. There are times when i think he’s laughing at me. I’ve never been a volunteer-a sergeant, thank god-but i’ve always had the sense to feel sorry for them. I’m glad of that.”<br>“ I’d like to see them,” keith said. “From your statements, sergeant, i cannot understand what they are trying to achieve.”<br>“ Don’t ask me, major! Ask that freckled young corkran. He is their generalissimo.”<br>No one will refuse a sobraon warrior or the only pastry chef within the limits of what is allowed. So, keith came by invitation, leaning on a stick, shaking with old age, to sit in a corner and watch.<br>“ They form well. They form extraordinarily well,” he whispered between evolutions.<br>“ Oh, that’s not what they need. Wait until i fire them.”<br>At the “break” the ranks stood firm. Perowne stumbled out, turned to face them, and, refreshing his memory, glanced briefly at a red-bound book with a metal clasp, stared at them for ten minutes. (This is the same perowne who was shot in equatorial africa by his own people.) Ansell followed him, and hogan followed ansell. All three were obeyed without question. Then stalky put down his snider and, taking a deep breath, showered the company with a stream of withering curses.<br>“’ Old man, muster corkran. It’s not in any exercise,” foxy exclaimed.<br>“ All right, sergeant. You never know what you’re going to have to tell your people.- For god’s sake, try to stand up without leaning on each other, you stupid-eyed, gutted herring slums. I don’t enjoy combing you out. This should have been done before you came here, you-you police broom stealers.”<br>“ An old touch is an old touch. We know that,” keith said, wiping his watery eyes. “But where did he pick it up?”<br>“ From his father-or uncle. Don’t ask me! Half of them must have been born within earshot of the barracks.” (Foxy was not much mistaken in his assumption.) “Since this volunteer nonsense began, i have heard more reproaches than in a year of service.”<br>“ There’s a man in the back row who looks like his stomach was in a pawnshop. Yes, you, private ansell,” and stalky lashed the victim with his tongue for three minutes, roughly and in detail.<br>“ Hi!”He’s back to his usual tone. “First blood for me. You’re blushing, ansell. You were squirming.”<br>“ Couldn’t help but blush,” was the answer. “Don’t think i was squirming though.”<br>“ Well, now it’s your turn.”Stalky has resumed his place in the ranks.<br>“ My god, my god! It’s as good as a play,” the attentive keith chuckled. Ansell was also lucky to have relatives in the service, and he slowly, lazily stretching his words – his style was more reflective than stalky’s – descended into the bottomless depths of personality.<br>“ Blood to me! He shouted triumphantly. “You couldn’t stand it either.” Stalky was a deep red, and his snyder was visibly shaking.<br>“ I didn’t think i could,” he said, struggling to keep his composure, “but after a while i hit a dead end. Bait. Curious, isn’t it?”<br>“ It’s good for character,” the slow-moving hogan said as they returned the weapons to the rack.<br>“ Have you ever? Foxy said hopelessly to keith.<br>“ I don’t know much about volunteers, but this is the funniest show i’ve ever seen. Although i understand what they are driving at. Oh, my god! How often have i been scolded and humiliated in my time! They are well formed – extremely well formed.”<br>“ If i could expose them, i wouldn’t be able to do anything with them, major. Maybe when the cops come, they’ll change their minds.”<br>Indeed, it’s time for the corps to make some concession to the curiosity of the school. Three times the guard was mistreated, and three times the corps imposed martial law against the violator. The school was raging. What was the point, they asked, of a cadet corps that no one could see? Mr. King congratulated them on their invisible defenders, and they were unable to parry his blows. Foxy became sullen and restless. Some officers of the corps openly expressed doubts about the wisdom of their course, and the issue of uniforms loomed on the near horizon. If they were issued, they would be forced to wear them.<br>But, as often happens in this life, the issue was suddenly resolved from the outside.<br>The head duly informed the council that their recommendation had been implemented and that, as far as he could find out, the boys were engaged in drill. He didn’t say anything about the conditions under which they were drilling. Naturally, general collinson was delighted and told his friends about it. One of his friends rejoiced at his friend, a member of parliament – a zealous, intelligent and, above all, patriotic person who strives to do as much good as possible in the shortest possible time. But, alas, we cannot answer! For the friends of our friends. If collinson’s friend had introduced him to the general, he would have taken his measures and saved a lot. But the friend was just talking about his friend; and since there are no two people in the world who look into each other’s eyes, the picture conveyed to collinson was inaccurate. Moreover, this man was a member of parliament. An impeccable conservative, and the general had the hidden respect of an english soldier for any member of the court of last resort. He was heading to a western country to bring light to someone’s darkened constituency. Wouldn’t it be nice if, armed with the general’s recommendation, he, taking as a basis a wonderful and newly created cadet corps, uttered a few words: “just talked to the boys a little, huh? You know what things would be acceptable, and he would be exactly the right person to do it. From those conversations that boys understand, you know.”<br>“ In my time, they weren’t talked to much,’ the general said suspiciously.<br>“ Ah, but times are changing – with the spread of education and so on. Today’s boys are tomorrow’s men. The impression made in his youth is likely to be permanent. And in these times, you know, when the country is going to hell?”<br>“ You are absolutely right.”The island was then entering the five-year reign of mr. Gladstone, and the general did not like what he saw. He would, of course, write to the headmaster, for there was no doubt that today’s boys had become tomorrow’s men. This, if i may say so, was extraordinarily well said.<br>In response, the head stated that he would be happy to welcome mr. Raymond martin, a member of parliament, about whom he had heard so much; to shelter him for the night, and to allow him to speak to the school on any subject that he thinks they might be interested in. If mr. Martin had not yet encountered an audience of this special class of british youth, the manager had no doubt that he would find it an interesting experience.<br>“ And i don’t think i’m very wrong about this last one,” he confessed to reverend john. “Do you happen to know anything about a certain raymond martin?”<br>“ I went to college with a man with that name,” the chaplain replied. “As far as i remember, he was shapeless and empty, but desperately serious.”<br>“ He will appeal to the board. About “patriotism” next saturday.”<br>“ If there’s one thing our boys hate more than anything else, it’s that outsiders break into their saturday nights. Patriotism has no chance next to ‘brewing.’”<br>“ And art, too. Do you remember our ”evening with shakespeare”? The eyes of the head flashed. “Or a jolly gentleman with a magic lantern?”<br>“ And who the hell is this raymond martin mp? Beetle asked when he read the announcement of the lecture in the corridor. “Why do these brutes always show up on saturday?”<br>“ Oh! Reomeo, reomeo. Why are you reomeo?”Mcturk said over his shoulder, quoting the shakespearean artist of last semester. “Well, i hope he won’t be as bad as she is. Stalky, are you a real patriot? Because if you don’t, this guy will make you.”<br>“ I hope it won’t take all evening. I think we should listen to him.”<br>“ I wouldn’t miss him for the world,” mcturk said. “A lot of guys thought that this romeo-romeo woman was a bore. I’m not. I liked her! ’Dick, when did she start hiccupping in the middle of it? Maybe he’ll start hiccupping. Whoever enters the gym first will take seats for the other two.”<br>There was no nervousness in the voice of mr. Raymond martin, a member of parliament, but there was a lively and cheerful friendliness. When he drove up, watched by many eyes, to the headman’s house.<br>“ It looks a little tempting,” commented makturk. “You shouldn’t be surprised if he was a radical. He asked the driver about the fare. I heard him.”<br>“ It was his frivolous patriotism,” explained the beatle. After tea, they joined the fight for seats, took a secluded and inconspicuous corner and began to criticize. All the gas jets were lit. On a small dais at the far end was the principal’s official desk, from which mr. Martin spoke, and a ring of chairs for the masters.<br>Then foxy came in with an official port and leaned something like a rag wrapped around a stick against the table. No one from the authorities was there yet, so the school applauded, shouting: “what is it, foxy? Why are you stealing a gentleman’s brolly?- We don’t work here. We have won! Put that trinket away!- The number on the right” – and so on, until the appearance of the leader and the masters put an end to all demonstrations.<br>“ One good job-the common room hates it as much as we do. Watch king squirm to get out of the draft.”<br>“ Where is the raymond-bearing martin? Punctuality, my beloved listeners, is an image of war-”<br>“ Shut up. That’s a frivolous jerk. My god, what a gateway!”Mr. Martin in evening dress was undoubtedly loud -a tall, lavishly decorated man in pink and white. However, the beatle didn’t have to be rude.<br>“ Look at his back ’while he’s talking to his head. It’s disgusting bad form to turn your back on the audience! He’s a philistine’ bopper, a jebusite and a jew.” Mcturk leaned back and snorted contemptuously.<br>In a few colorless words, the leader introduced the speaker and sat down to applause. When mr. Martin took over the applause, they naturally applauded more than ever. It took some time before he was able to start. He didn’t know anything about the school-its traditions or heritage. He didn’t know that the last census showed that it was eighty percent. Most of the boys were born abroad – in a camp, under martial law, or on the high seas; or that’s seventy-five percent. They were the sons of officers of one service or another-willoughby, paulet, de castros, maines, randalls, who, by their kindness, sought to follow the profession of their fathers. The director could have told him this and many other things; but after an hour-long dinner in his company, the director decided not to say anything at all. Mr. Raymond martin seemed to know so much already.<br>He plunged into his speech with a long, long, hoarse “well, boys,” which, although they were not aware of it, made every young nerve open. He assumed they knew-hey?-Why did he come down? It wasn’t often he had the opportunity to talk to the boys. He assumed that the boys were almost the same personalities-some people thought they were pretty funny personalities-as they were in his youth.<br>“ This man,” mcturk said with conviction, “is a gadarin pig.”<br>But they must remember that they will not always be boys. They will grow into men, because today’s boys make the men of tomorrow, and the just glory of their glorious homeland depends on the men of tomorrow.<br>“ If this continues, my beloved listeners, it will be my painful duty to rot this deal. Stalky took a deep breath through his nose.<br>“ I can’t do that,” mcturk said. “He doesn’t charge anything for his romeo.”<br>And so they had to think about the responsibilities and responsibilities of the life that was opening up to them. Life is not everything – he listed several games and, so that there was no shortage of the scope and impact of his fall, added “balls”. “Yes, life wasn’t,” he said, “solid marble.”<br>There was one tense sigh – among the younger ones almost a cry -of trembling horror, he was a pagan outcast – beyond the extreme line of tolerance – cursed himself in front of all people. Stalky put his head in his hands. Mcturk, with bright and cheerful eyes, absorbed every word, and the beetle solemnly nodded in approval.<br>Some of them, no doubt, expected to be honored in a few years to receive a commission from the queen and carry a sword. Now he himself had some experience of performing these duties, being a major in a volunteer regiment, and he was glad to learn that a volunteer corps had been created among them. The establishment of such an institution contributed to a correct and healthy spirit, which, if maintained, would bring great benefits to the land they loved and were so proud of. He had no doubt that some of those present were expecting- some of them anxiously anticipating how they would lead their people under the bullets of england’s enemies; they will meet the battle on the battlefield with all the pride of their young manhood.<br>Now the boy’s restraint is ten times deeper than the girl’s restraint, blind nature created her for only one purpose, and the man for several. With a large and healthy hand, he tore off these veils and trampled them under the well-meaning feet of eloquence. In a hoarse voice, he shouted out loud such trifles as the hope of honor and the dream of glory, which boys do not discuss even with their closest peers, happily assuming that until he spoke, they had never considered these possibilities. He pointed them at the shining targets with fingers that smeared all the radiance on all horizons. He defiled the most secret corners of their souls with shouts and gestures, he told them to reflect on the deeds of their ancestors in such a way that they blushed until their ears rang. Some of them,” a rending voice cut through the icy silence, “may have had relatives who died defending their country. Many of them were thinking about the old sword in the hallway or over the table in the dining room, which they had seen and touched furtively since they learned to walk. He implored them to imitate these illustrious examples; and they looked in all directions in their extreme discomfort.<br>Their years did not even allow them to formulate their thoughts clearly for themselves. They felt cruelly that they were being insulted by a fat man who considers marbles a game.<br>And so he worked on his speech-which, by the way, he used later with stunning success at a meeting of voters – while they sat, flushed and embarrassed, with sour disgust. After many, many words, he reached for a cloth-wrapped stick and put one hand in his bosom. This – this was a concrete symbol of their land – worthy of every honor and reverence! Let no boy look at this flag, which did not strive to adequately complement its imperishable brilliance. He shook it in front of them-a large calico union jack, sparkling with all three colors, and waited for the thunder of applause that was to crown his efforts.<br>They watched in silence. They had seen it before, of course-at the coast guard post or through a telescope with the mast lowered when the brig landed on braunton sands; above the roof of the golf club and in keith’s window, where each box was depicted a certain kind of striped candy wrapped in paper. But the college never showed it; it wasn’t part of their life plan; the head never mentioned it; their fathers didn’t announce it to them. It was a closed case, sacred and isolated. What in the name of all things was he driving at, waving this horror before their eyes? Happy thought! Maybe he was drunk.<br>The principal saved the situation by quickly getting up to express gratitude, and at his first suggestion, the school clapped its hands furiously with a sense of relief.<br>“ And i am sure,” he concluded, illuminated by a gas lamp, “that you will all join me in a very cordial vote of thanks to mr. Raymond martin for the most pleasant performance he has given us.””.<br>To this day, we will never know the truth of this case. The head swears that he did nothing of the kind; or that if he did, it must have got something in his eye; but those who were present are convinced that he winked once, openly and solemnly, after the word “pleasant”. Mr. Raymond martin received his applause in full. As he said: “without vanity, i think my few words fell to their hearts. I never knew boys could be so happy.”<br>He left when the prayer bell rang and the boys lined up against the wall. The flag was still spread out on the table, and foxy was looking at it with pride, because he was touched to the core by mr. Martin’s eloquence. The director and the common room, standing behind on the platform, could not see the blatant violation, but the prefect left the line, quickly rolled it up and just as quickly threw it into the glove and foil locker.<br>Then, as if he had touched a spring, there was a low murmur of satisfaction, followed by rapid clapping of hands.<br>They discussed the speech in the dormitories. There was not a single dissenting voice. Mr. Raymond martin, no doubt, was born in a ditch and grew up in a boarding house where marbles were played. In addition, he was (i give the smallest handful from a large stock) a clumsy boor, an outrageous stinker, a yellow-bellied flagpole (this was stalky’s contribution) and several other things that should not be understated.<br>He surrendered to the volunteer cadet corps the following monday, depressed, with a bashful face. Even then, a prudent silence could turn the tide.<br>Foxy said, “after such a beautiful speech as the one you heard the night before last, you should do your exercise with a new activity. I don’t understand how you can avoid not coming out and speaking out now.”<br>“ Can’t we get out of this, foxy?” Stalky’s lovely old silky tone should have warned him.<br>“ No, not after he handed out the flag so generously. He told me this morning before he left that he had no objection to the corps using him as their own. It’s a beautiful flag.”<br>Stalky returned the rifle to the rack in deathly silence and fell out. Hogan and ansell followed suit. Perowne hesitated. “Listen, shouldn’t we…” – He began.<br>“ I’ll get it out of the locker in a minute,” the sergeant said, turning his back on him. “Then we can-”<br>“ Come on! Stalky shouted. “What the hell are you waiting for? Fire me! Abort.”<br>“ Why-what-where-?”<br>The crash of snyders crashing into the counter drowned out his voice as boy after boy tumbled out.<br>“ I… I’m not sure i won’t have to report this to the head,” he muttered.<br>“ Then report, and be damned! Stalky shouted, turning white to the roots of his hair, and ran out.<br>“ Funny thing! Beetle said to mcturk. “I was in the office, composing just a lovely poem about a jelly flagpole, and then stalky came in, and i said “hello!” And he cursed me like a young lady, and then he started sobbing as if nothing had happened. He hit his head on the table and howled. Wouldn’t it be better if we did something?”<br>Mcturk was alarmed. “Maybe he somehow smashed himself to pieces.”<br>They found him with very bright eyes, whistling through his teeth.<br>“ Did i trick you, bug? I thought i would. Wasn’t it a good draw? Didn’t it seem to you’ why am i crying? Didn’t i do it well? Oh, you fat old ass!” And he started pulling the beetle by the ears and cheeks, in a manner that was called “milking.”<br>“ I knew you were crying,” the beatle replied calmly. “Why aren’t you in training?”<br>“ Training! What kind of training?”<br>“ Don’t try to be a smart fool. Training in the gym.”<br>“’ Because they are not there. The volunteer cadet corps is broken up-disbanded-dead-rotten-corrupt-smelly. And if you look at me like that, bug, i’ll kill you too… Oh, yes, and they will complain about me to the director for swearing.”<br>Last semester.<br>It was a few days after the holidays, the exams at the end of the semester and, more importantly, the release of the university newspaper, which was edited by the beatle. He was lured to this post by the persuasions of stalky and mcturk and the extreme strictness of the law on studies. Once on the spot, he found, like others before him, that it was his duty to do the job while his friends criticized. Stalky dubbed him the “swillingford patriot” in memory of sponge, and mcturk unfavorably compared the result to ruskin and de quincey. Only the supervisor showed interest in the publication, and his methods were peculiar. He let the beatle look through his brown-bound library, smelling of tobacco; forbidding nothing, recommending nothing. There the beetle found a thick armchair, a silver inkwell and an unlimited number of pens and paper. There were dozens and dozens of ancient playwrights; there were hakluyt, his travels; french translations by moscow authors named pushkin and lermontov; small tales of an intoxicating and confusing nature, interspersed with unusual songs – peacock was the name of this writer; there was “lavengro” borrow.; A strange theme, allegedly being a translation of something called “rubayat”, which, according to the head, was a poem that had not yet formed on its own; there were hundreds of volumes of poems – crashaw; dryden; alexander smith; l.E.L.; Lydia sigourney; fletcher and the purple island.; Donne; “faust” marlowe; and – this made mcturk (to whom the beatle gave it) drunk for three days – ossian; “earthly paradise”; “atalanta in calydon”; and rossetti – and these are just some of them. Then the head, appearing under the pretext that he was playing the role of a censor in a newspaper, read a verse here, and here is another of these poets, opening up new opportunities. And, breathing slowly, with half-closed eyes over a cigar, he talked about great people living, and magazines long dead, founded in their violent youth; about the years when all the planets were little stars trying to find their place in an indifferent void, and he, that head, knew them as young people know each other. So the dogs got the usual work, the beetle had a lot of other things to do and counters, which he kept secret and told mcturk only about how one afternoon, on the sand, he walked high and casually around the wreckage of the armada galleon, shouting and reciting against the background of the sea with long crests.<br>Largely due to the experienced distrust of their housekeeper, three were denied promotion to the rank of prefect for three consecutive terms – a position that was awarded on merit and carried with it the honor of the ashes, and the freedom, if there were restrictions, to use it.<br>“ But,” stalky said, “come to think of it, we’ve been making more light-hearted jokes with the sixth since we got passed over than anyone else in the last seven years..”<br>He touched his neck with pride. He was surrounded by the stiffest of the standing collars, which, according to custom, could only be worn by the sixth. And the sixth saw these collars and didn’t say a word. “Pussy”, abanazar or dick four years ago would have seen them thrown out in five minutes or… But the sixth part of this semester consisted mainly of young but brilliantly intelligent boys, the favorites of the housekeepers, too concerned about their dignity to engage in an open struggle with a resourceful troika. Therefore, they pushed their caps to the very back of their heads, instead of slightly pulling them over one eye, as the fifth should, and rejoiced in patent-leather shoes on weekdays and wonderful ties on sundays – no one reproached. Mcturk was going to cooper’s hill in the spring, and stalky was going to sandhurst.; And the manager told them both that if they didn’t faint during the holidays, they were safe. As a trainer of foals, the manager rarely made mistakes in assessing the form.<br>That day he took the beetle aside and gave him a lot of good advice, not a single word of which the beetle did not remember when he ran into the office, white with excitement, and poured out a wonderful fairy tale. It required a lot of faith.<br>“ Do you start with a hundred a year? Mcturk asked without sympathy. “Rot!”<br>“ And my exit! Everything is settled. The head says he’s been dragging me into this for so long, and i never knew-i never knew. You know, you can’t start by writing right away. Start by filling out telegrams and cutting something out of paper with scissors.”<br>“ Oh, scissors! What an unholy mess you’re going to make of this,” stalky said. “But, in any case, it will also be your last term. Seven years, my dearly beloved listeners, although not elders.”<br>“ Not bad years either,” mcturk said. – I will be sorry to part with the old call, and you?”<br>They were looking out at the sea foaming along pebbleridge in the clear winter light. “I wonder where we’ll all be at this time next year? Stalky said absently.<br>“ Five years this time,” mcturk said.<br>“ Oh,” said the beatle, “this stays between us. The head didn’t tell anyone. I know he didn’t, because prout grumbled at me today that if i had been more reasonable-yes!- I could become a prefect next semester. I suppose he’s at odds with his elders.”<br>“ Let’s end the quarrel with the sixth,” suggested makturk.<br>“ Dirty little schoolboys!”Said stalky, who already saw himself as a sandhurst cadet. “What’s the use of that?”<br>“ The moral effect,” mcturk said. “Leave the imperishable tradition and everything else in it.”<br>“ You’d better go to bideford and pay our debts,” stalky said. “I got three pounds from my father-ad hoc. And he doesn’t owe more than thirty shillings. Cut along, beetle, and ask permission from the head. Say you want to fix the swillingford patriot..’”<br>“ Well, i believe it,” said the beetle. “This will be my last number, and i would like it to look decent. I’ll catch him before he goes to lunch.”<br>Ten minutes later, they rolled out of the queue, released by the grace of god from the five-hour call, and they had the whole afternoon in front of them. So, unfortunately, did king, who never did without witticisms. But on that day, the “brigades of kings” would not have been able to get beetle out of himself.<br>“ Yeah! I enjoy studying light literature, my friends,” he said, rubbing his hands. “Ordinary math isn’t for soaring minds like yours, is it?”<br>(“ A hundred a year,” thought beetle, smiling into the void.)<br>“ Our open incompetence takes refuge in the ornate paths of inaccurate fiction. But the day of reckoning is coming, my beetle. I myself have prepared some trifling silly questions in latin prose, which can hardly be evaded even with the help of your experienced acts of deception. Yes, latin prose. I think, if i may say so – but we will see when the documents are ready – “ulpian will satisfy your needs.” Yeah! “Explain it,” our friend said.” Let’s see! We’ll see!”<br>Still no word from the bug. He was on a steamer, his passage was paid for in a wide and wonderful world – a thousand leagues beyond the island of lundy.<br>King threw it away with a growl.<br>“ He doesn’t know. He will continue to correct exercises, gape and show off in front of little boys next semester-and the next.”The beetle hurried after his comrades up the steep path of the fur-covered hill behind the college.<br>They were throwing pebbles on the gas meter lid, and the grimy tanker in charge of refueling told them to stop. They watched him oil a burdock stuck in the ground between two gorse bushes.<br>“ Koki, what’s that for? Stalky asked.<br>“ To turn on the gas in the kitchen,” said koki. “If that were the case, i wouldn’t have aroused her, you young gentlemen would be reading your book by candlelight.”<br>“ Hm! Stalky said and was silent for at least a minute.<br>“ Hi! Where are you guys going?”The turn of the alley brought them face to face with tulke, the senior prefect of the royal house – a short, white-haired boy, one of those who need to be promoted because of their intelligence, and who always subsequently turn to the head with a request to support his authority when zeal prevails over prudence.<br>All three of them didn’t pay any attention to it. They were on a legal pass. Tulke repeated his question with fervor, because he had been neglected many times by study number five and imagined that he had finally caught them off guard.<br>“ What the hell is it to you?” Stalky replied with his sweetest smile.<br>“ Look, i’m not going to… I’m not going to have the fifth swear at me! Tulke stammered.<br>“ Then cut and call a meeting of prefects,” said makturk, knowing tulke’s weakness.<br>The prefect became inarticulate with rage.<br>“ You can’t yell at five like that,” stalky said. “This is disgusting bad form.”<br>“ Fork out, ducky!”Mcturk said calmly.<br>“ I… I want to know what you guys are doing out of bounds?” This is with an important flourish of his ground ashes.<br>“ Ah,” stalky said. “Now we get down to business. Why didn’t you ask about this before?”<br>“ Well, i’m asking it now. What are you doing?”<br>“ We admire you, tulke,” stalky said. “We think you’re a great guy, don’t we?”<br>“ We’re doing it! We’re doing it!”A dog cart with several girls in it came around the corner, and stalky quickly knelt down in front of tulke in a prayer pose; so that tulke blushed.<br>“ I have reason to believe…” He began.<br>“ Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! ” The beatle shouted in the manner of the town crier of bideford. – Tulke has reason to believe! Three cheers for tulke!”<br>They were given. “It’s all our giddy admiration,” stalky said. “You know how much we love you, tulke. We love you so much that we think you should come home and die. You’re too good to live, tulke.”<br>“ Yes,” mcturk said. “Do us a favor by dying. Think how beautiful you would look.!”<br>Tulke swept along the road with an unpleasant glint in his eyes.<br>“ That means a prefect meeting-of course, clap,” stalky said. “The honor of the sixth and everything else is involved in this. Tulke will be writing notes all day, and carson will call us after tea. They don’t dare lose sight of it.”<br>“ I’ll bet a shilling he’s following us! ”Said mcturk. “He’s the king’s pet, and it’s scalps for both of them if we get caught. We must be virtuous.”<br>“ Then i move in, and we go to mother yeo’s for a last bite. We owe her about ten shillings, and mary will cry bitterly when she finds out we’re leaving,” said beetle.<br>“ Last time she hit me horribly on the head- mary,” stalky said.<br>“ She’ll do it if you don’t duck,” mcturk said. “But usually she kisses someone back. Let’s try yeo’s mother.”<br>They were looking for a small, half dairy, half restaurant with bottle windows, a two-hundred-year-old house with dark beer at the beginning of a narrow side street. They had patronized him since the days of their fagdom and were very friendly at home.<br>“ We’ve come to pay our debts, mom,” stalky said, hugging the fifty-six-inch waist of the hostess of the establishment. “To pay our debts and say goodbye-and-and we are terribly hungry.”<br>“ Hey! – Said mother yeo, – make love to me! I’m ashamed of you.”<br>“’ Racon us wouldn’t have done anything like this if mary was here,” mcturk said, switching to the wide north devon the boys used in their campaigns.<br>“ Who takes my name in vain?”The inner door opened and mary came in, blonde, blue-eyed, apple-skinned, with a bowl of cream in her hands. Mcturk kissed her. The beetle followed suit with exemplary calm. Both boys were immediately handcuffed.<br>“ Never kiss the maid when you can kiss the mistress,” stalky said, shamelessly winking at mother yeo as he explored the jam shelf.<br>“ Glad to see that one of you doesn’t want to be hit on the head anymore? Mary asked invitingly in that direction.<br>“ Noo! I think i can get them to give me,” stalky said, turning his back.<br>“ Not by me – your little masterpiece!”<br>“ ’ Niver asked her. There are maids in northam. Yiss and appledore.”An unplayable snort, half contempt, half recollection, completed the retort.<br>“ Hey! You’ll never come to a good end. What happens if i smell cream?”<br>“’ – Bad,” stalky said. “Zmell ’un.”<br>Mary inadvertently did as she was told.<br>“ A farewell kiss.”<br>“ Nothing wrong,” stalky said, accepting it without injury.<br>“ Yo-yo-yo…” Mary began, seething with laughter.<br>“ They are better for northam – richer, like and we make them give again,” he said, while mcturk solemnly waltzed with a breathless mom yeo, and the beatle told mary the sad news as they sat down to whipped cream, jam and hot bread.<br>“ Yes. You won’t see us again, mary. We are going to become passersby and missionaries.”<br>“ Calm down the buffs! Mcturk said, looking through the blinds. “Tulke followed us. He’s walking down the street now.’”<br>“ They never took us beyond the limits of what was allowed,” mother yeo said. “Wait a little longer, my little darlings.” She rolled into the inner room to make the bill.<br>“ Mary,” stalky suddenly said with tragic force. “Love me, mary?”<br>“ Iss-fi! I thought you were zo ever since you were zo high! ” The girl replied.<br>“ So you’re walking down the street?” Stalky pointed to the unconscious tulke. “He’s never been kissed by any girl in his natural life, mary. Oh, ’tis shaamful!”<br>“ What to do with me? I think it will happen naturally’” she nodded sagely. “Don’t you ever want me to kiss insecurely?”<br>“ Give me half a crown if you want,” said stalky, showing the coin.<br>Half a crown was a lot for mary yeo, and a joke was more; but-<br>“ I’m afraid,” mcturk said at a psychological moment.<br>“Hey!” The beetle echoed, knowing her weak spot. “There isn’t a maid in northam who would think twice. And you’re such a lovely maid, tu!”<br>Mcturk planted one foot firmly on the inner door so that mother yeo would not come back inopportunely, because mary’s face was stern. It was then that tulke discovered that his path was blocked by the tall daughter of devon – this county of light kisses, the most pleasant under the sun. He politely sidestepped. She thought for a moment and put a huge hand on his shoulder.<br>“ Where is your gwaine tu, my dear? ”What is it?” She asked.<br>Over the top of the handkerchief he had stuffed into his mouth, stalky saw the boy blush.<br>“ Give me a kiss! Don’t they teach good manners in college?”<br>Tulke gasped and turned around. Solemnly and conscientiously, maria kissed him twice, and the hapless prefect ran away.<br>She walked into the store, her eyes full of simple surprise. “Kissed you? Stalky asked, handing over the money.<br>“ Iss, fi! But, oh, my little body, he’s not a colleague. ’Zeemed tu- inclined to cry like.”<br>“ Well, we won’t do that. The scream couldn’t make us cry like that,” mcturk said. “Try it.”<br>Then mary handcuffed them.<br>When they came out with tingling in their ears, stalky used to say, “i don’t think there will be many prefect meetings.”<br>“ Won’t be there, just! – Said the beetle. “Look here. If he kissed her- and this is our point of view – then he is a cynically immoral hog, and his behavior is blatant obscenity. Conference orationes regis furiosissimi, when he caught me reading don juan.’”<br>“’ Of course he kissed her,” mcturk said. “In the middle of the street. In his home cap on!”<br>“ Time, 3.57 pm, write it down. What do you mean, bug? Stalky asked.<br>“ Well! He’s a truthful little animal. He can say that he was kissed.”<br>“ And then?”<br>“ Why then!”The beatle jumped at the very thought of it. “Don’t you see? The consequence of this frivolous assumption is that the sixth cannot protect themselves from insults and rape. I want nannies to look after them! We just need to whisper it to call. Jam for the sixth! Jam for us! In any case, it’s jam!”<br>“ By gum! Stalky said. “Our last semester ends well. Now you cut and finish your old rag, and turkey and i will help. We’ll go through the back door. No need to bother randall.”<br>“ Then don’t play the frivolous garden goat?”The beatle knew what help was, although he was by no means averse to showing his importance to the allies. The small attic behind randall’s printing plant was his own territory, where he saw himself already in control of the times. Here, under the guidance of an ink apprentice, he learned to understand this matter more or less in a roundabout way and considered himself an experienced typesetter.<br>School work in a closed form lay on a table with a stone countertop – proof on the side; but not for anything in the world would a beetle correct itself on the basis of a simple proof. Using a hammer and tweezers, he knocked out mysterious wooden wedges that released the shape, selected a letter here and inserted a letter there, reading as he went and often stopping to laugh at his own contribution.<br>“ You’re not going to show off like that,” mcturk said, “when you have to do it for a living. Upside down and backwards, isn’t it? Let’s see if i can read it.”<br>“ Get out! – Said the beetle. “Go and read those forms that are on the shelf there, if you think you know so much.”<br>“ Forms in the rack! What is it? Don’t be such a nasty professional.”<br>Mcturk left with stalky to wander around the office. They didn’t leave much unchanged.<br>“ Come here, shake it up, bug. What is this thing? Stalky said, after a few minutes. “It looks familiar.”<br>The beetle said, casting a glance: “this is king’s latin prose exam. Paper. In-in verreme: the action of prima. What a lark!”<br>“ Think of the pure-hearted, exalted boys who would give their eyes to look at this!” – Said mcturk.<br>“ No, willie dear,” stalky said: “it would be wrong and painful for our kind teachers. You wouldn’t do magic, willie, would you?”<br>“ Anyway, i can’t read this abomination,” was the reply. “Besides, we’re leaving at the end of the semester, so it doesn’t make any difference to us.”<br>“’ Do you remember what the attentive bloomer did with spraggon’s story about puffinton’s dogs? We have to sweeten mr. King’s milk for him,” stalky said, all lit up from within with devilish joy. “Let’s see what the beetle can do with these forceps, which he is so proud of.”<br>“ I don’t think you can make latin prose much more audacious now than it really is, but we’ll try,” said the beatle, inserting aliud and asia from two sentences. “Let’s see! We will put this point a little further and start the sentence with the next capital letter. Hurray! Here are three lines that can move up all together.”<br>“‘ One of those scientific discoveries for which this outstanding hunter is so justly glorified.” “Stalky knew the puffington run by heart.<br>“Hold on! That’s voluntary quidditch by itself,” mcturk said.<br>“ I’ll take care of her in a minute. Quidnam goes after dolabella.”<br>“ Good old dolabella,” stalky muttered. “Don’t break it. Cicero wrote vile prose, didn’t he? He should be grateful for-”<br>“ Hi! Mcturk said through another questionnaire. “What is the price of a frivolous ode? Ki-ki-oh, it’s certainly very graceful.”<br>“ Take it with you. We’ve sweetened the milk,” stalky said after a few minutes of hard work. “Never beat your dogs unnecessarily.”<br>“ Quis munditiis? I swear it’s not bad,” the beetle began, wielding tweezers. “Doesn’t this interrogation look nice? Hello, fidem! It sounds like the guy was anxious and excited. Cui flavam religas in rosa – the fragrance of which refers to the rose. Mutatoscope deos phlebitis in antro.”<br>“ The dumb gods are crying in the cave,’ stalky suggested. “My dear sam, horace needs to be looked after the same way as for… Tulke.”<br>They faithfully edited it until it was too dark to see anything.<br>“‘ Yeah! Clarify this, our friend said. ’Ulpian satisfies my needs, doesn’t he? If king can understand any of this, then i’m a blue-eyed squatter,” beetle said as they slipped out of the attic window into an old familiar alley and set off at a three-mile trot to college. But the revision of the classics delayed them too long. They stopped, windswept and out of breath, in the haze behind the gasometer, the lights of the college twinkling below, having been at least ten minutes late for tea and locking up.<br>“ This is no good,” puffed mcturk. “I bet bob foxy is waiting for the defaulters under the lantern at the court of fives. This is also a shame, because the head gave us a long vacation, and we don’t want to break it.”<br>“‘ Let me now from the ”repository of my knowledge,” stalky began.<br>“ Oh, rot! Don’t worry. Can we escape? Mcturk snapped.<br>“‘ Mr. Radcliffe also condemned the bishop’s boots and “spoke out” in favor of tops cleaned with champagne and apricot jam. “Where’s that thing that koki was spinning this afternoon?”<br>They heard him groping on the wet ground, and soon saw a great miracle. The lights of the coast guard cottages by the sea went out; the brightly lit windows of the golf club disappeared, followed by the facades of two hotels. The scattered villas dimmed, blinked, and disappeared. Finally, the lights of the college went out. They were left in the pitch darkness of a windy winter night.<br>“‘ Blisters on my kidneys. It’s frost. The dahlias are dead! Stalky said. “A bunk!”<br>They made their way through the wet gorse, while the college buzzed like an angry hive, and the canteens shouted in chorus: “gas! Gas! Gas!”Until they came to the edge of the well-trodden path that separated them from the office. Dropping this haha like bullets and bouncing off like boys, they rushed to their office, changed into dry trousers and coats in less than two minutes and, defiantly wearing slippers, joined the crowd in the dining room, which resembled the thunderous center of the south american revolution.<br>“‘ It’s dark as hell and it smells like cheese.””Stalky elbowed his way into the press, loudly demanding gasoline. “Koki must have gone for a walk. Foxy will have to find him.”<br>Prout, as the closest housekeeper, was trying to restore order, because rude boys were throwing butter cakes into chaos, and mcturk turned on the kettle for tea at the fags, so many were scalded with boiling water and wept with unfeigned sorrow. The fourth and upper third burst into the school song “long live the company” to the accompaniment of drumming on the handles of knives, and the younger classes made shrill screams, similar to the cries of bats, and raided each other’s food. Two hundred and fifty boys in excellent condition, looking for more light, are really serious researchers.<br>When the disgusting smell of gas informed them that supplies had resumed, stalky, with his vest unbuttoned, was sitting majestically over what might have been his fourth cup of tea. “And that’s fine,” he said. “Hello! – And here’s pomponius.!”<br>It was carson, the head of the school, a simple, straightforward soul and a pillar of the first fifteen, who came out from behind the prefects’ table and in a hoarse official voice invited the three to be present in his office in half an hour. “Meeting of prefects! Assembly of prefects!”The tables hissed, and they barbarously imitated the actions and effects of ground ash.<br>“ How are we going to joke with them? Stalky asked, half-turning to the beatle. “This time it’s your game!”<br>“ Listen,” came the reply, “all i want from you is not to laugh. I’m going to take responsibility for the immorality of the young tulke-a la king, and it’s going to be serious. If you can’t help laughing, don’t look at me, or i’ll burst.”<br>“ I understand. All right,” stalky said.<br>Mcturk’s lean body tensed with every muscle, and his eyelids half closed his eyes. The latter was a battle signal.<br>Eight or nine high school students with very stiff and sober faces sat on chairs around carson’s strictly philistine office. Tulke was not popular with them, and the few who had experience with stalky and the company doubted that he might have made an ass of himself. But the dignity of the sixth had to be maintained. So carson hastily began: “listen, guys, i am… We have sent for you to tell you that you are too audacious for the sixth… It’s been a while… And… And we’ve been standing as long as we were going to, and it seems you’ve been swearing and swearing in a tulka on bideford road this afternoon, and we’re going to show you that you can’t do it. That’s all.”<br>“ Well, that’s awfully nice of you,” stalky said, “but it just so happens that we have a few rights of our own, too. You cannot, just because you have been appointed prefects, pull out high school students and beat them with jaws according to instructions, like a housekeeper. We’re not queers, carson. This kind of thing might suit davis tertius, but not us.”<br>“ It’s only old prout’s folly that we weren’t prefects for a long time. You know that,” mcturk said. “You don’t have any tact.”<br>“ Wait,” the beetle said. “The prefects’ meeting should be reported to the head. I want to know if the head of tulke supports this case?”<br>“ Well, well, it’s not really a prefect meeting,” carson said. “We called you only to warn you.”<br>“ But all the prefects are here,” the beetle insisted. “What’s the difference?”<br>“ My gum! Stalky said. “Do you mean to say that you just challenged us to a duel – after you came to us for tea in front of the whole school and gave them the impression that it was a meeting of the headman? ’By my sam, carson, you’re going to get in trouble, you’re going to.”<br>“ A leaky business is a leaky business,” mcturk said, shaking his head. “Terribly suspicious.”<br>The sixth looked at each other with concern. Tulke called meetings of three prefects in two terms, until the head informed the sixth that they were expected to maintain discipline without constant threat to his authority. Now it seemed that they had made a grave mistake from the very beginning, but any sane boy would have sunk the legality and been duly impressed by the court. The beetle’s protest was distinctly “audacious.”<br>“ Well, you guys deserve a slap in the face,” one of the mischievous ones carelessly exclaimed. Then the beetle was filled with noble inspiration.<br>“ For interfering in tulke’s love affairs, eh?” The tulke has acquired a rich thorn color. “Oh, no, you won’t do that!” The beetle continued: “you had your own pitches. We were sent for swearing at you, and we will be released with a warning! Is it so? Now, then, you’ll catch him.”<br>“ I… I… I…” Tulke began. “Don’t let that young devil start talking.”<br>“ If you have something to say, you have to say it decently,” carson said.<br>“ Decent? I will. Now look here. When we arrived in bideford, we met this decoration on the sixth – is it decent enough?- Hanging out on the road with an unpleasant expression in his eyes. Then we didn’t know why he was so eager to stop us, but at five minutes to four, when we were in the yeo store, we saw tulke in broad daylight, wearing a house cap, kissing and hugging a woman on the sidewalk. Is that decent enough for you?”<br>“ I’m not… I wasn’t.”<br>“ We saw you! – Said the beetle. “And now-i’ll behave myself, carson-you come back with her kisses” (no wonder the beatle studied later poets) “hot on your lips and call prefect meetings, which are not prefect meetings, to support the honor of the sixth.” At the same moment, a new heaven-cut path opened up in front of him. “And how do we know,” he shouted, “how do we know how many sixths are involved in this disgusting business?”<br>“ Yes, that’s what we want to know,” mcturk said with simple dignity.<br>“ We were going to talk to you about this quietly, carson, but you would have agreed to a meeting,” stalky said sympathetically.<br>The sixth were too stunned to answer. So, carefully modeling his rhetoric on king, the beatle continued the attack, surpassing and surprising himself: “this… It’s not so much the cynical immorality of business as the blatant obscenity of it, it’s so terrible. As far as we can tell, it’s impossible for us to get to bideford without running into some prefect’s unhealthy lovers. There’s nothing to giggle about, naughty boy. I don’t pretend to know much about these things, but it seems to me that the guy must be mired in sin” (this was a quote from the school chaplain) “when he starts hugging his mistresses” (it was hakluyt) “in front of the whole city” (memory of milton). “He might at least have had the decency-i suppose you’re a connoisseur of decency-to wait until dark. But he didn’t. You didn’t do it! Oh, tulke. You… You intemperate little animal!”<br>“ Hey, shut up for a minute. What does all this mean, tulke?”Said carson.<br>“ I… Look here. I’m terribly sorry. I never thought that the beatle would go down this path.”<br>“ Because-you-don’t-have-decency-you-thought-i-didn’t-have-it,” the beetle shouted in one breath.<br>“ Tried to cover it all up with a conspiracy, didn’t you? Stalky asked.<br>“ A direct insult to all three of us,” said makturk. “You have the dirtiest mind, tulke.”<br>“ I’ll kick you guys out the door if you keep this up,” carson said angrily.<br>“ That proves it’s a conspiracy,” stalky said with the air of a virgin martyr.<br>“ I… I was walking down the street… I swear i was walking,” tulke exclaimed, “and… And i’m terribly sorry about it… A woman came up to me and kissed me. I swear i didn’t kiss her.”<br>There was a pause, filled with stalky’s long, liquid whistle, full of contempt, amazement and mockery.<br>“ I swear on my honor,” the hunted man swallowed. “Oh, stop talking to him.”<br>“ Very good,” mcturk chimed in. “Of course, we are forced to accept your application.”<br>“ Damn it! Nototen roared. “You’re not the head prefect here, mcturk.”<br>“ Well,” said the irishman, “you know tulke better than we do. I speak only for ourselves. We accept the word of tulke. But all i can say is that if i found myself in the same disgusting situation and offered the same explanation as tulke, i wonder what you would say. However, it seems that on my word of honor tulke-”<br>“ And tulku-excuse me-a kiss, of course- tulkiss is a noble man,” stalky put in.<br>“- That they can’t protect themselves from being kissed when they go for a walk! Beetle exclaimed, breaking into a run on the move. “Nice thing, isn’t it? Funny little thing for queers, isn’t it? Of course, we are not elders, but we are not kissed that often. I don’t think such things ever occur to us, do they, stalky?”<br>“ Oh, no! Stalky said, turning away to hide his emotions. Mcturk’s face expressed only arrogant contempt and a slight fatigue.<br>“ Well, it looks like you know a lot about it,” the prefect interjected.<br>“ I can’t help it- when you guys are shoving it under our noses.”The beatle moved on to a lengthy parody of king’s most caustic conversational style – gentle rain after a thunderstorm. “Well, it’s all pretty disgusting and shameful, isn’t it? I do not know who comes out of it the worst: tulke, who was accidentally caught, or other guys who did not do it. And we,” here he turned furiously to the other two, “we have to stand up and slap them in the face, because we have disrupted their intrigues.”<br>“ Hang him up! I just wanted to warn you,” carson said, thereby putting himself in the hands of the enemy.<br>“ Warn you? You?”And this is with the look of a man who finds disgusting gifts in his locker. “Carson, would you be so kind as to tell us what conceivable thing you have the right to warn us about after this exposure? Warn you? Oh, that’s a little too much! Let’s go somewhere clean.”<br>The door slammed shut behind their offended innocence.<br>“ Oh, the bug! The bug! The bug! The golden beetle! Stalky sobbed, throwing himself on the chest of the panting beatle as soon as they reached the office. “How did you do that?”<br>“ Dear man,” said mcturk, hugging the beetle’s head with both hands, rocking it back and forth on his neck in time with this ancient burden-<br>“ Beautiful lips are sweeter than cherries or plums. Always look – cheerful and – never look gloomy; it seems they say – go away. Kissy!- Come on, come on! Yummy-you’ll lick your fingers! Yummy-you’ll lick your fingers! Yummy-yum-yum!”<br>“ Watch out. You’ll break my lanterns,” the beetle puffed, appearing. “Wasn’t it great? Haven’t i handled them superbly? Have you noticed my cheat sheets from king? Oh, the blow!”His face clouded. “There is one adjective i didn’t use-obscene. I don’t know how i forgot about it. This is also one of king’s favorites.”<br>“ Never mind. They will send ambassadors in half an hour to beg us not to tell the school about it. It’s a hell of a serious business for them,” mcturk said. “Poor sixth, poor old sixth!”<br>“ Immoral young men,” stalky snorted. “What an example for such pure-hearted boys like you and me!”<br>And the sixth in carson’s office sat in horror, glowering at tulke, who was on the verge of tears. “Well,” the chief prefect said tartly. “You’ve made a pretty mediocre terrible mess, tulke.”<br>“ Why… Why didn’t you lick that young devil bug before it started gnawing its jaws?” Tulke howled.<br>“ I knew there would be a scandal,” said the prefect of the house of prout. “But you would have insisted on meeting, tulke.”<br>“ Yes, and it did us a lot of good,” nototen said. “They come here and tear off our jaws when we have to open them. The beatle talks to us like we’re a bunch of scoundrels and… And all that. And when they hang us out to dry, they come out and slam the door like the owner of the house. It’s all your fault, tulke.”<br>“ But i didn’t kiss her.”<br>“ You’re an ass! If you said what you have and stuck to it, it would be ten times better than what you did,” nototen retorted. “Now they will tell the whole school – and the beatle will come up with a lot of nasty rhymes and nicknames.”<br>“ But, damn it, she kissed me!”Outside of his work, tulke’s thoughts moved slowly.<br>“ I don’t think about you. I’m thinking about us. I’ll go up to their office and see if i can keep them quiet!”<br>“ Tulke is terribly upset about this case,” nototen began ingratiatingly when he found the bug.<br>“ Who kissed him this time?”<br>“- And i’ve come to ask you guys, and especially you, beetle, not to let the whole school know about this. Of course, senior comrades like you can easily understand why.”<br>“ Hm! ”Said the beetle with the cold reluctance of a man who foresees an unpleasant public duty. “I guess i should go and talk to the sixth one again.”<br>“ There is not the slightest need for that, my dear friend, i assure you,” nototen said hastily. “I will accept any message you wish to send.”<br>But the opportunity to complete the missing adjective was too tempting. So, nototen returned to that still undisclosed meeting, and the beetle, white, icy and aloof, followed at his heels.<br>“ It seems,” he began, carefully enunciating the words clearly, “there seems to be a certain concern among you regarding the steps we may deem appropriate to take in connection with this latest revelation… Uh… Obscene. If it’s any consolation to you that we decided-for the honor of the school, you understand-to keep our mouths shut about these… Uh… Obscenities, you… Uh… Understood.”<br>He turned, his head among the stars, and strode majestically back to his office, where stalky and mcturk were lying side by side on the table, wiping their tear-stained eyes-too weak to move.<br>The work in latin prose was a success that surpassed their wildest dreams. Stalky and mcturk, of course, were suspended from all exams (they studied for an additional fee with the director), but beetle attended them with diligence.<br>“ This, i believe, is an argument on your part,” king said, handing out papers. “One last exhibition before you move into higher realms? The latest attack on the classics? It seems that this is already baffling you.”<br>Beetle studied the print, frowning. “There’s nothing i can do about it,” he muttered. “What does that mean?”<br>“ No, no! King said with scholastic coquetry. “We depend on you to explain the meaning to us. This is an exam, my bug, not a guessing contest. You will find that your partners do not have any difficulties in-”<br>Tulke got up from his seat and put the newspaper on the table. King looked, read, and turned dead green.<br>“ Stalky is missing something,” thought beetle. “I wonder how king will get out of this!”<br>“ It seems,“ king began, swallowing, “there is a certain amount of truth in our beetle’s remark. I… Uh… I’m inclined to think that the worthy randall must have dropped it in ferula-if you know what that means. Beetle, you’re applying to be an editor. Perhaps you can enlighten the form regarding the forms.”<br>“ What, sir? Whose uniform! I don’t see any verb in this sentence at all, and “-and” is an ode to something completely different.”<br>“ I was going to say, before you made your criticism, that there must have been an accident with the paper in the type, and for the printer to dump it in natural light. No,” he held the object at arm’s length, “our randall is not an expert on cicero or horace.”<br>“ It’s pretty mean to blame it on randall,” the beetle whispered to his neighbor. “King must have been in the shit like an owl when he wrote this.”<br>“ But we can correct the error by dictating it.”<br>“ No, sir. The answer came out of a dozen throats at the same time. “This reduces the time for the exam. Only two hours allowed, sir. – That’s not fair. This is an exam on printed paper. How are we going to be marked for this! It’s all randall’s fault. In any case, it’s not our fault. Exam. This is an exam.” Etc . Etc ..<br>Naturally, mr. King considered this an attempt to undermine his authority and, instead of immediately starting to dictate, gave a lecture on how to approach exams in what spirit. When the storm subsided, the beetle inflated it again.<br>“ Eh? What? What were you saying to maclagan?”<br>“ I just said that i thought the documents should have been reviewed before they were issued, sir..”<br>“ Listen, listen!” From mr. King, he wanted to know if beetle personally took on the responsibility of observing the traditions of the school. His zeal for knowledge consumed another fifteen minutes, during which the prefects showed clear signs of boredom.<br>“ Oh, it was a dizzying time,” the beatle said afterwards in “disassembled number five.” “He mumbled a bit and i continued his gibberish, and then he dictated about half of dolabella & co.”<br>“ Good old dolabella! My friend. Yes? Stalky said thoughtfully.<br>“ Then, of course, we had to ask him how to spell every second word, and he mumbled even more. He cursed me and maclagan (mac played like a trump card), and randall, and the “materialized ignorance of the unlearned middle classes,” the “thirst for simple marks,” and everything else. It was what you might call the final exhibition-the last attack-a dizzying par-ergon.”<br>“ But, of course, he was a blind scuffy when he wrote the article. I hope you’ve explained that? Stalky said.<br>“ Oh yeah. That’s what i told tulka. I said that an immoral prefect and a drunken housekeeper were legitimate conclusions. Tulke almost burst into tears. He’s been terribly shy of us since mary.”<br>Tulke maintained this modesty until the last moment – until the money for the passage was paid, and the boys refueled the brakes that took them to the station. Then all three of them gently made him wait a little.<br>“ You see, tulke, you may be a prefect,” stalky said, “but i left college. Do you see, tulke, dear?”<br>“ Yes, i understand. Don’t hold a grudge, stalky.”<br>“ Stalky? Damn your impudence, you young wolf cub,” shouted stalky, magnificent in a top hat, stiff collar, gaiters and a tobacco-colored ulster with a high waist. “I want you to understand that i am mr. Corkran, and you are a dirty little schoolboy.”<br>“ Except that he’s fucking immoral,” mcturk said. “It’s amazing that you’re not ashamed to impose your company on such sincere boys like us.”<br>“ Come on, tulke,” shouted nautten from the prefects’ seat..<br>“ Yes, we’re coming. Step aside and make room, you colleagues. You should all come back next semester with your “yes, sir” and “oh, sir” and “no, sir” and “please, sir”; but before we say goodbye, we’ll tell you a little story. Come on, dickie” (to the driver); “we’re quite ready. Put that hatbox under the seat and don’t push your uncle stalky.”<br>“ As many nice, arrogant young people as you’d like to see,” mcturk said, looking around with polite patronage. “It’s a little immoral, but then – boys will be boys. It’s no use trying to look pouty, carson. Mr. Corkran will now kindly share the story of tulka and mary yeo!”<br>Slaves of the lamp.<br>The same baby who told the story of bo’s capture on ghee [conference credentials: “many inventions”] to eustace cleaver, a novelist who inherited the title of baronet with huge incomes, retired from the service and became a landowner, while his mother stood guard, making sure that he married the right girl. But, being a novice in his position, he presented local volunteers with a full-size shooting range for magazine rifles two miles long, located in the very center of his estate, and the surrounding families, who lived in wild seclusion among forests full of pheasants, considered him a lost maniac. The noise of the shooting disturbed their poultry, and the infante was expelled from the society of j.P. And decent people until the county’s daughter can bring him back to the right mindset. He took revenge by filling the house with selected photographs of old schoolmates who had come home on vacation-friendly hooligans, which girls riding bicycles from neighboring families were allowed to look at from afar. I knew when the warship was in port, at the invitation of the baby. Sometimes he brought old friends with equal seniority; other times, young and blushing giants, whom i left as little fags far below, on the bottom second; and to these babies and elders, the whole duty of a man in the army was explained.<br>“ I had to stop serving,” the infant said, “but that’s not the reason why my vast experience should be lost to posterity.” He was only thirty, and that same summer an imperious telegram brought me to his baronial castle: “got a good catch; former tamar. Come with me.”<br>It was an unusually good catch, organized for the sole purpose – in my favor. There was a balding, broken-down native infantry captain, shivering with fever behind an indomitable red nose-and they called him captain dixon. There was another captain, also from the native infantry, with a light mustache; his face was like white glass, and his hands were fragile, but he joyfully responded to the cry of tertius. He was an incredibly large and well-groomed man who, obviously, had not participated in an election campaign for many years, clean-shaven, with a soft voice and feline manners, but still an abanazar, despite all that he decorated the indian political service; and there was a thin irishman, his face was blue-black from the tan of the telegraph office. Fortunately, the baize doors of the bachelor wing fit snugly together, because we dressed randomly in the corridor or in each other’s rooms, talked, rang, shouted, and sometimes waltzed in pairs to songs of dick the fourth’s own composition.<br>We were to share sixty years of mixed work, and since then we have met each other from time to time in a quick change of scenery in india – at lunch, at camp or at a race – meeting here; a duck bungalow or a railway station in the countryside somewhere else – we never completely lost touch. The baby was sitting on the railing, greedily and enviously absorbing it. He enjoyed his baronetcy, but his heart yearned for the old days.<br>It was a merry babel of personal, provincial and imperial questions, fragments of old call lists and new policies, interrupted by the roar of the burmese gong, and we descended at least a quarter of a mile down the stairs to meet the baby’s mother, who knew all of us in school years and greeted us as it’s like they ended a week ago. But fifteen years have passed since she, with tears of laughter, lent me a gray princess skirt for amateur performances.<br>It was a dinner from the arabian nights, served in an eighty-foot hall full of ancestors and pots of blooming roses, and, what was even more impressive, heated by steam. When it was over and the little mom left (“you boys want to talk, so i’m going to say good night to you now”), we gathered around the apple fireplace, in a giant polished steel grate, under a ten-foot-high mantelpiece, and the baby surrounded us surrounded by curious liqueurs and that kind of cigarettes, which is best suited to represent your own tube.<br>“ Oh, bliss! – Growled dick the fourth from the sofa, where he was laid down, covered with a blanket. “It’s the first time i’ve felt warm since i got home.”<br>We were all almost on top of the fire, except for the infante, who had been home long enough to exercise when he felt chills. It’s a terrible entertainment, but it was heavily influenced by the english of the island.<br>“ If you say a word about cold baths and fast walking,” mcturk drawled, “i’ll kill you, baby. I have a liver too. “Do you remember when we thought it was a pleasure to get out of bed on a sunday morning-the thermometer showed fifty-seven degrees if it was summer-and swim in pebbleridge? Ugh!”<br>“’ What i don’t understand,” said tertius, “is how we guys went down to the latrines, boiled ourselves pink, and then came out with open pores in a young snowstorm or a black frost. And yet none of our guys died, as far as i remember.”<br>“ Speaking of baths,” mcturk said with a chuckle, “do you remember our bath in number five, the beatle, ”night rabbits-eggs rocked the king”? What wouldn’t i give to see old stalky now! He is the only one of the two studies that are not here.”<br>“ Stalky is a great man of his century,” said dick four.<br>“ How do you know?” I asked.<br>“ How do i know? ” Dick the fourth said contemptuously. “If you were ever in a predicament with stalky, you wouldn’t ask.”<br>“ I haven’t seen him since the pindi camp in ’87,” i said. “He was very strong then-about seven feet tall and four feet wide.”<br>“ An adequate guy. Damn adequate,” said tertius, pulling his mustache and looking into the fire.<br>“ I almost got court-martialed and broke down in egypt in ’84,” the infant volunteered. “I went out with him on the same patrol – as rude as he was. Only i showed it, but stalky didn’t.”<br>“ What was the problem? Mcturk asked, absentmindedly reaching out to straighten my tie.<br>“ Oh, nothing. His colonel trusted him to take twenty tommies to do laundry, or take care of camels, or something like that in the back of suakin, and stalky ran into the fuzzies five miles from home. He conducted a masterful retreat and destroyed eight of them. He was well aware that he had no right to go so far, so he took the initiative and sent a letter to his colonel, who complained with foam at the mouth about the “insufficient support provided to him in his operations.” Damn it, it could have been one fat foreman berating another! Then he moved to the staff corps.”<br>“ It’s-perfectly-stalked,” abanazar said from his chair.<br>“ Have you encountered him too?” I said.<br>“ Oh, yes,” he replied in his softest tone. “I was at the tail of this one… This epic. Don’t you guys know?”<br>We didn’t do it-infante, mcturk and i; and we very politely requested information.<br>“’ Nothing special,” tertius said. “A couple of years ago we got into a scrape in the khai khin hills, and stalky pulled us out of there. That’s all.”<br>Mcturk looked at tertius with all the contempt of an irishman for a tongue-tied saxon.<br>“ Heavens! – He said. “And it’s you and your kind who run ireland. Tertius, aren’t you ashamed?”<br>“ Well, i can’t say anything. I can chip in when the other guy starts drinking. Ask him. He pointed to dick the fourth, whose nose gleamed contemptuously above the carpet.<br>“ I knew you wouldn’t do that,” dick four said. “Pour me a whiskey and soda. I was drinking lemon juice and ammonia quinine while you guys were swimming in champagne, and my head is singing like a top..”<br>He wiped his disheveled moustache over the glass and, teeth chattering, began: “do you remember the khai-khin-malot expedition, when we scared them to death with a field force they didn’t dare to fight? Well, both tribes-there was a coalition against us-entered without firing a shot; and a lot of hairy villains, who had no more power over their people than i had, promised and swore everything. On this very weak proof, pussy dear-”<br>“ I was in simla,” abanazar said hastily.<br>“ Never mind, you’re tarred with the same brush. On the basis of these penny-a-penny contracts, your ass politicians reported that peace had been established in the country, and the government, as usual, being a fool, began to build roads, relying on local labor supplies. – Is that a dick, pussy? “The rest of our guys who didn’t stop by during the campaign didn’t think it would happen again, and they couldn’t wait to get back to india. But i’ve been in two of these little squabbles before, and i had my suspicions. I’ve turned myself, summa ingenio, into a highway patrol commander-no shoveling, just politely marching back and forth with the guards. They withdrew all the troops they could, but i engaged about forty pathans, mostly recruits, from my regiment, and sat tight in the base camp while the road detachments went to work, according to a political survey.”<br>“ There were some incendiary songs in the camp, too,” tertius said.<br>“ My puppy“-as dick the fourth called his subordinate-was a devout little beast. He didn’t like singing, and that’s why he came down with pneumonia. I dug around the camp and found that tertius dabbles in gas as a d.A.Q.M.G. For which, god knows, he was not created. There were six or eight old calls. At base camp (we’re always in formation for borderline combat), but i heard about tertius as a staunch old hack, and i told him he should shake off his d.A.Q.M.G. Pants and help me. Tertius volunteered like a shot, and we settled it with the authorities, and we set off-forty pathans, tertius and i, looking for road detachments. Mcnamara’s dick, old mac, the minesweeper who played the fiddle so damn hard in the barn?- Mac’s party was the penultimate one. The latter belonged to stalky. He was at the beginning of the road with some of his favorite sikhs. Mac said he thought he was fine.”<br>“ Stalky is a sikh,” tertius said. “He takes his people to pray at the durbar sahib in amritsar, regularly, like clockwork, whenever he can.”<br>“ Don’t interrupt, tertius. It was about forty miles from the mack before i found it; and my men gently but firmly pointed out that the terrain was rising. What kind of country is this, bug? Well, thank god i’m not an artist of words, but you could call it a hell of a country! When we weren’t up to our necks in snow, we were rolling down the hood. The friendly residents who were supposed to supply labor for the construction of the road (don’t forget that, dear pussy) were sitting behind rocks and shooting at us. – An old, old story! We all went in search of stalky. I had a premonition that he would be in good hiding, and around dusk we found him and his traveling party, cozy as a bug in a rug, in the old stone fort malot with a watchtower on one corner. It loomed over the road they had cut through the rock fifty feet below; and under the road everything descended quite steeply, five or six hundred feet, into a gorge about half a mile wide and two or three miles long. There were guys on the other side of the gorge who were scientifically studying our range. So i knocked on the gate, slipped inside and tripped over stalky in greasy, bloody old pajamas, who was squatting on the ground and eating with his people. I only saw him for half a minute about three months ago, but maybe i met him yesterday. He waved his hand all sereno.<br>“‘ Hello, aladdin! Hello, emperor! – He said. “You’re just in time for the show.’”<br>“ I could see that his sikhs looked a bit shabby. ‘Where is your command? Where is your subordinate?’ I said.<br>“‘ This is all that’s left of him,” stalky said. “If you want young everett, he’s dead, and his body is in the watchtower. Last week they attacked our road group and captured him and seven people. We’ve been under siege for five days now. I guess they let you through to make sure of you. The whole country stood up. ’It seems to me you’ve fallen into a first-class trap.’ He grinned, but neither tertius nor i could figure out what the hell the fun was. We had no food for our people, and stalky had only four days’ supply for his own. It happened because of the dependence on your stupid politicians, pussy dear, who told us that the residents are friendly.<br>“ To make us more comfortable, stalky took us to the watchtower to look at poor everett’s body lying in a foot of snow. She looked like a fifteen-year-old girl-there was not a hair on the baby’s face. He was wounded in the temple, but the little ones left their mark on him. Stalky unbuttoned his tunic and showed it to us – a rough crescent-shaped slit on the chest. “Do you see how white the snow is on his eyebrows, tertius? “Dick, when stalky moved the lamp and it looked like he was alive?”<br>“ Yes,” tertius said with a shudder. “Do you remember stalky’s bestial expression, with distended nostrils, the same as he had when he mocked the faggot? It was a beautiful evening.”<br>“ We held a council of war there over everett’s body. Stalky said that the malots and the khai-khins were together; they stopped their blood feud to settle scores with us. The guys we saw on the other side of the gorge were khai-khins. They were about half a mile away from us, as if from a bullet, and they lined up a line of sungars under the crest of the hill to sleep there and starve us. The little ones, he said, were promiscuous in front of us. There was no good hiding place behind the fort, otherwise they would have been there too. Stalky didn’t mind the malots half as much as he did the khai-khins. He said that the little ones are treacherous dogs. What i couldn’t understand was why these two gangs didn’t unite and attack us. There must have been at least five hundred of them. Stalky said they didn’t trust each other very much because they were old enemies when they were at home; and the only time they tried to attack, he threw a couple of charges at them, and it made them a little sick.<br>“ When we finished, it was already dark, and stalky, always serene, said:‘you’re in charge now. I suppose you don’t mind if i take any measures i may deem necessary to revise the fort?’ I said: “of course not,” and then the lamp went out. So tertius and i had to go down the steps of the tower (we didn’t want to stay with everett) and return to our people. Stalky left- probably to count the stocks. Anyway, tertius and i stayed up late in case of a hurry (they, you know, quite often pestered us), replacing each other until the morning.<br>“ Morning came. No stalky. Not a single sign of his presence. I consulted with his senior native officer-a majestic old man with gray sideburns-ratton singh from jullunder way. He just grinned and said that everything was fine. According to him, stalky has already left the fort twice, somewhere there or something like that. He said stalky would come back unprotected, and made it clear to me that stalky was a kind of invulnerable guru. However, i put the whole team on half rations and forced them to look for loopholes.<br>“ Around noon, there was no end to the snowstorm, and the enemy stopped firing. We responded cautiously because we were terribly short of ammunition. I don’t think we were doing five shots an hour, but overall we were getting our way. So, while i was talking to ratton singh, i saw stalky coming down from the watchtower, his eyes were quite swollen, and his smart suit was covered with burgundy ice.<br>“‘ Don’t trust these snowstorms,” he said. – Get out quickly and grab whatever you can get. Now there are certain tensions between the khai-khins and the malots.’<br>“ I drove tertius out with twenty pathans, and they floundered in the snow for a while until they came across a kind of camp of people eight hundred yards away, with only a few men at the head and half a dozen sheep by the fire. They killed the people, took the sheep and as much grain as they could carry, and returned. No one shot at them. There seemed to be no one around, but the snow was falling quite thickly.<br>“‘ That’s enough,” stalky said when we had cooked dinner and he was chewing lamb kebabs from a cleaning rod. – There’s no point in risking people. They hold a truce between the khai-khins and the malots at the beginning of the gorge. I don’t think these so-called coalitions are of much use.’<br>“ Do you know what this maniac did? Tertius and i shook it out of him piece by piece. There was an underground barn under the watchtower, and while blowing up the road, stalky made a hole in one of the walls. Being none other than stalky, he left the hole open for his own purposes; and laid poor everett’s body over the well of the ladder that led to him from the watchtower. He had to move and replace the corpse every time he used the passage. Of course, sikhs wouldn’t come anywhere near this place. Well, he got out of that hole and jumped onto the road. Then, at night and in a howling snowstorm, he jumped off the edge of the hood, descended to the bottom of the gorge, waded through the half-frozen nulla, climbed to the other side along the path he discovered and came out on the right flank of the khai-khins. He had to then – listen to this!- Crossed the ridge that ran parallel to their rear, walked half a mile behind it and came out to the left of their line, where the gorge becomes shallow and where there was a regular road between the camps of malot and khai-khin. It was about two o’clock in the morning, and, as it turned out, he was noticed by a man – khai-khin. So stalky quietly canceled it and left it-with a malota mark on his chest, the same as everett’s.<br>“‘ I was as economical as i could be,” stalky told us. “If he had screamed, i would have been killed. I’ve never had to do anything like this before, except once, and this was the first time i tried this way. It’s quite practical for infantry, you know.’<br>“‘ What about your first man?’ I said.<br>“‘ Oh, it was the night after they killed everett, and i went looking for an escape route for my people. A man found me. I canceled it-privatized it-got rid of it. But on reflection, it occurred to me that if i could find the body (i would throw it down the rocks). I could decorate it with the sign of malota and leave the khai-khins to draw conclusions. So i went outside again the next night and did it. The khai-khins are shocked that the malots committed these two dastardly atrocities after they vowed to end all bloody feuds. Early this morning i lay down behind their sungars and watched them. They all went to confer about it at the beginning of the gorge. They’re terribly annoyed. Don’t be surprised.’You know how stalky says his words one by one.”<br>“ My god!” The baby exclaimed when the full depth of the strategy reached him.<br>“ Dear-r-man! Mcturk said, purring enthusiastically.<br>“ Stalky was stalking,” tertius said. “That’s all there is to it.”<br>“ No, he didn’t do that,” said dick four. “Don’t you remember how he insisted that he was just using his luck? Don’t you remember how ratton singh grabbed his shoes and crawled in the snow, and how our people screamed?”<br>“ None of our pathans believed that it was luck,” tertius said. “They swore stalky should have been born a pathan, and…”Remember we almost had a fight at the fort when ratton singh said stalky was a pathan? Damn it, how the old man was furious with my jemadar! But stalky just wagged his finger and they shut up.<br>“ However, old ratton singh’s sword was half drawn, and he swore that he would cremate every khai-khin and malot he killed. This made the jemadar quite wild because he didn’t mind fighting against his own faith, but he wasn’t going to deprive a fellow muslim of a chance at paradise. Stalky then muttered pashto and punjabi alternately. Where the hell did he pick up his pashto bug?”<br>“ Don’t mind his tongue, dick,” i said. – Explain to us the essence.”<br>“ I flatter myself that i will be able to turn to the cunning pathan on occasion, but, damn it, i can’t make puns in pashto or supplement my arguments with an obscene story, as he did. He played these two old dogs of war like an accordion. Stalky said-and the other two confirmed his knowledge of eastern nature-that the khai-khins and the malots between them would organize a joint attack on us that night, as proof of good will. However, they would not have completed the case, because neither side would have trusted the other because of, as ratton singh put it, minor accidents. Stalky’s idea was to crawl out at dusk with his sikhs, lead them along this unholy goat trail he found to the rear of the khai khin position, and then deliver a few long-range strikes on the malots when the attack was in full swing. ‘It will distract their minds and help excite them,” he said. “Then you guys can go out and sweep up the shards, and we’ll meet at the entrance to the gorge. After that, i suggest we go back to mac’s camp and eat something.”<br>“ Did you command?” – Suggested the baby.<br>“ I was about three months older than stalky and two months older than tertius,” dick the fourth replied. “But we were all from the same old college. I have to say that our affair was the only one in history when someone wasn’t jealous of someone else.”<br>“ We weren’t,” tertius interjected, “but there was another quarrel between gul sher khan and ratton singh. Our jemadar said – and he was quite right – that no living sikh could pursue anything worthwhile; and that the koran sahib had better remove pathans who are versed in this kind of mining. Ratton singh said that the koran sahib knew perfectly well that every pathan is a born deserter, and every sikh is a gentleman, even if he cannot crawl on his stomach. Stalky put in some feminine proverb or something that made both men smile doubly. He said the sikhs and pathans could settle their claims on the khaikhins and malots later, but he was going to take his sikhs with him on this climbing job because sikhs can shoot. They can, too. Give them a mule of ammunition for each, and they will be perfectly happy.”<br>“ And he came out,” said dick the fourth. “As soon as it got dark and he took a little nap, he and thirty sikhs came down the stairs in the tower, each of them, like a mother’s son, greeted little everett where he was leaning against the wall. The last thing i heard from him was: ‘kubbadar! Acrobatics! [Careful, you’re going to fall!] And they tumbled over the black edge of the void. Closer to 9 o’clock in the evening, a combined attack began; the khai-khins on the other side of the valley, and the little ones in front of us, shoot from a long distance and shout to each other to come and cut the throats of our infidels. Then they came to the gate and started the old game, calling our pathans apostates and inviting them to join the holy war. One of our people, a young guy from dera ismail, jumped on the wall to fight them off, and jumped down, sobbing like a child. He was hit right in the middle of the arm. ‘I have never seen a man who could withstand a blow on the arm without bitter tears. It gets on everyone’s nerves. So tertius took his gun and hit the others on the head to silence them at the loopholes. Dear children wanted to open the gates and generally enter them, but this was not suitable for our book.<br>“ Finally, towards midnight, i heard the “wop, wop, wop” of martini stalky at the other end of the valley, and some general swearing among the malots, the bulk of which was hidden from us by a fold on the hillside. Stalky was frying them at high speed, and it was very natural that they turned half to the right and started firing at their unfaithful allies, khai-khins – the usual volley fire. Less than ten minutes after stalky opened the diversion, they began to act with a hammer and anvil on both sides of the valley. When we could see, the valley was a pretty confusing business. The khai-khins poured out of their sungars over the gorge to punish the malots, and stalky- i was watching him through binoculars-slipped behind them. Very good. The khai-khins had to make their way up the hill to the place where the gorge became shallow, and they could cross to the malots, who were terribly happy to see that the khai-khins were in the rear.<br>“ Then it occurred to me to console the khai-khins. So i turned the whole team around, and we went on the attack, doubling what, for the sake of argument, we will call the left flank of the small. Even then, if they had drowned in their differences, they could have eaten us alive; but they shot at each other half the night and kept shooting. The strangest thing you’ve ever seen on your birthdays! As soon as our men doubled up to get to the malots, they fired at the khai-khins with even more zeal than ever to show that they were on our side, ran up the valley a few hundred yards and stopped to open fire again. The moment stalky saw our game, he repeated it on his side of the gorge; and, by jove! The khai-khins did the same.”<br>“ ”Yes, but,“ said tertius, “you forgot that he’s playing the bugle ‘arra, patsy, look after the baby’ to hurry us up.”.<br>“Really? Mcturk roared. Somehow we all started singing it, and then there was a break.<br>“ Hurry up,” tertius said when we were silent. No one from aladdin’s troupe could forget this melody. “Yes, he played patsy. Go on, dick.”<br>“ Finally,” said dick four, “we drove both crowds into each other’s arms on a small patch of flat terrain at the head of the valley and saw the whole team turn around, fighting and striking and swearing in a blinding snowstorm. They were heavy, hairy, and we didn’t follow them.<br>“ Stalky captured one prisoner -an old retired sepoy with twenty-five years of experience, who presented his discharge – a terribly dapper old card. He was trying to get his men to attack us earlier in the day. He was sullen-angry at his own side for their cowardice, and ratton singh wanted to stab him with a bayonet-sikhs don’t understand what it means to fight against the government after you have served him honestly- but stalky saved him and became very attached to him- with ulterior motives, i suppose. When we got back to the fort, we buried young everett-stalky wouldn’t hear of blowing up the place-and settled down for the night. According to all reports, we lost only ten people.”<br>“ Only ten out of seventy. How did you lose them?” I asked.<br>“ Oh, there was a rush in the fort early in the evening, and a few malots broke through the gate. It was quite stressful for a minute or two, but the recruits took it well. Fortunately, we didn’t have any seriously wounded to carry, because mcnamara’s camp was forty miles away. By jove, how we did it! Halfway there, old ratton singh fainted, so we threw him over four rifles and stalky’s coat; and stalky, his prisoner, and a couple of sikhs were his bearers. After that i went to bed. You can, you know, on the march, when your legs are properly numb. Mac swears that we all entered his camp, snoring, and fell where we left off. His men dragged us into the tents like bags of food. I remember waking up and seeing stalky asleep with his head on old ratton singh’s chest. He slept for twenty-four hours. I only slept for seventeen, but then i got dysentery.”<br>“ Coming down? What nonsense! He had it with him before we joined stalky at the fort,” tertius said.<br>“ Well, you don’t have to say! You pointed your sword at mcnamara and demanded a court martial every time you saw him. The only thing that calmed you down was that you were arrested every half hour. You haven’t been yourself for three days.”<br>“ I don’t remember a word of it,” tertius said calmly. “I remember my orderly giving me milk though.”<br>“ How did stalky get out? Mcturk demanded, puffing hard on his pipe.<br>“ Stalky? Like a serene brahmin bull. Poor mac was at the limit of his royal engineers, not knowing what to do. You see, i was rotten from dysentery, tertius was delirious, half the people frostbitten, and mcnamara ordered to break camp and return before winter. So stalky, who didn’t even flinch, took half of his supplies so as not to drag them back to the plains, and all the ammunition he could get, and, consiglio and assistant to ratton singhi, trudged back to his fort with all his sikhs and precious prisoners, and a lot of lecherous hangers-on, whom he and a prisoner was seduced into service. He had sixty men-and his brazen impudence. Mac almost cried with joy when he left. You see, there were no clear orders from stalky to enter before the passageways were blocked: mac is a great man of orders, and stalky is a great man of orders-when they match his book.”<br>“ He told me he was going to engadine,” tertius said. “He sat on my bunk, smoked a cigarette and made me laugh to tears. The next day, mcnamara sent us all to the plains. We were a walking hospital.”<br>“ Stalky told me that mcnamara was a godsend for him,” dick four said. “I often saw him in mack’s tent listening to mack play the violin, and in between pieces he lured picks, shovels and dynamite cartridges from mack from hand to hand. Well, that was the last time we saw stalky. About a week later, the passes were covered with snow, and i don’t think stalky particularly wanted to be found just then.”<br>“ He didn’t do it,” said the blond and fat abanazar. “He didn’t do it. Ho, ho!”<br>Dick the fourth raised his thin, dry hand with blue veins on the back. “Wait a minute, pussy; i’ll let you in at the right time. I returned to my regiment, and that spring, after five companies, i went out with a couple of companies in the detachment: nominally to look after our friends across the border; in fact, of course, for recruitment. It was a little unfortunate, because the young naik’s donkey brought to these hills a frivolous blood feud that he inherited from his aunt, and the local gentry did not want to voluntarily join my corps. Of course, nike took a short vacation to run the business; it was all fairly regular; but he was chasing the uncle of my favorite nurse. It was a hell of a shame, because i knew that harris from “gusni” would cover this territory three months later, and he would outplay all the guys i had my eye on. Everyone was unhappy with nike because they felt that he should have shown decency and postponed his own… Their disgusting love affairs until our companies gain full strength.<br>“ And yet the beast still had a certain amount of professional feeling. At night, he sent one of his aunt’s clan to tell me that if i took precautions, he would send me to a group of beauties. I shot across the border, and about ten miles away on the other side, in null, my rappari assistant showed me about seventy men, armed in different ways, but standing like a royal company. Then one of them came out and dragged an old pipe, just like… Who is this man?”Bancroft, isn’t it?”- I felt for my binoculars in the farce and played “arra, patsy, look after the baby.” Arra, patsy, attention,” was all he could say.”<br>That was also all dick four could do, because we had to sing the old song twice, over and over again, and then to repeat it.<br>“He explained that if i knew the rest of the song, he had a note for me from the person who owned the song. After that, my children, i finished that old tune on this horn, and this is what i got. I knew you’d want to take a look at this. Don’t grab it.” (We all struggled to see the well-known shapeless handwriting.) “I’ll read it out loud.<br>“‘ Fort everett, february 19.<br>“‘ Dear dick, or tertius: the bearer of this letter is responsible for seventy-five recruits, all devils of pukka, but wishing to start a new life. They have been lightly polished, and after cooking they can have a good shape. I want you to hand over thirty of them to my adjutant, who, although he himself is god knows what, will need people this spring. You can keep the rest for yourself. You will be interested to know that i have extended my path to the end of the country of malot. All the elders and priests involved in the september case worked for one month each, supplying road metal from their own homes. Everett’s grave is covered by a forty-foot hill, which should serve well as a basis for future triangulations. Ratton singh sends his best wishes to you. I conclude some contracts and assigned my prisoner, who also sends his salams, the local title khan bahadur.“”A. L. Cochran.’<br>“ Well, that’s it,” said dick the fourth, when the roar, shouts, laughter and, i think, the tears subsided. “I accompanied the gang across the border as fast as i could. They were a little homesick, but they cheered up when they recognized some of my guys who were in hi-hin row, and they had a great chat. It’s over three hundred miles from fort everett to where i picked them up. And now, pussy, tell them the last end of stalky as you saw him..”<br>Abanazar laughed, a slightly nervous, misleading official laugh.<br>“ Oh, it wasn’t that much. I was in simla in the spring when our stalky, having got out of his snows, began to correspond directly with the government.”<br>“ In the manner of a king,” suggested dick the fourth. “It’s my turn now, dick. He did a lot of things he shouldn’t have done and constructively called on the government to take any action.”<br>“’ Pawned the state ticker, right?” Mcturk said, nodding at me.<br>“About that; but the most embarrassing thing was that it was all so damn convenient, so well reasoned, don’t you know? He entered so quickly, as if he had access to all kinds of information – which, of course, he could not.”<br>“ Pooh!”Said tertius, “i support stalky against the foreign office any day.”<br>“ He did almost everything he could think of, except minting coins in his own image, and all this under the guise of building this infernal road and being blocked by snow. His report was simply amazing. Von lennaert first tore his hair because of this, and then gasped: “who the hell is this unknown warren hastings? He must be killed. He should be killed officially! The viceroy will not tolerate this. This is unheard of. He must be killed by his excellency personally. Tell him to come up here and serve the stinger.’Well, i sent him an infinite number of official letters and at the same time sent an unofficial telegram.”<br>“ You!” This caused the baby’s amazement, because abanazar looked most like a fluffy persian cat.<br>“ Yes, i am,” abanazar said. “It wasn’t much, but after what you said, dickie, it was more of a coincidence because i telegraphed:<br>“‘ Aladdin now has a wife, your emperor is pacified. I think you better get back to life: we hope you are all satisfied.’<br>“ Funny how that old song popped up in my head. It was pretty evasive and encouraging. The only drawback was that his emperor was not appeased by very long crayons. Stalky got out of his mountain fortresses and at his leisure went to simla to be sacrificed on the horns of the altar.”<br>“ But,” i began, “of course, the commander-in-chief is the proper-”<br>“ His excellency had the idea that if he blew up a single junior captain – just like king used to blow us up – he held the reins of the empire in his hands, and, of course, while he had this idea, von lennaert encouraged him. I’m not sure von lennart didn’t get it into his head.”<br>“ So they’ve changed the breed since my time,” i said.<br>“ P’r’aps. Stalky was put in jail for fidgeting like a bad little boy. I have reason to believe that his excellency’s hair stood on end. He went to stalky for an hour – stalky at attention in the middle of the hall, and (so he swore) von lennaert pretended to smooth his excellency’s tuft of hair in a silent show in the background. Stalky didn’t dare look up, otherwise he would have laughed.”<br>“ So, why wasn’t stalky broken publicly? The baby asked with a big and radiant grin.<br>“ Oh, why? Abanazar asked. “To give him a chance to rebuild his damn career, not to break his father’s heart. Stalky didn’t have a father, but that didn’t matter. He behaved like… As an orphanage in sanavar, and his excellency mercifully spared him. Then he came into my office and sat opposite me for ten minutes, flaring his nostrils. Then he said: “pussy, if i thought a basket hanger-’”<br>“ Ha! He remembered it,” mcturk said.<br>“‘ If india was ruled by a basket hanger with two annas, i swear, tomorrow i would become a naturalized muscovite. I am a female entrepreneur. This thing broke my heart. It will take six months of filming – a vacation in india to fix everything. Do you think i can do it, pussy?’<br>“ He got it in about three and a half minutes, and seventeen days later he was back in the arms of ratton singh-horribly disgraced-with orders to hand over command to him, and so on, to cathcart mcmonney.”<br>“ Watch! – Said dick the fourth. “One colonel from the political department, in charge of thirty sikhs, at the top of the hill. Watch, my children!”<br>“ Naturally, cathcart, not being a fool, even if he is a politician, allowed stalky to shoot within fifteen miles of fort everett for the next six months, and i always understood that he, ratton singh and the prisoner were no worse than thieves. Then stalky seems to have wandered back to his regiment. I’ve never seen him since.”<br>“ But i have,” mcturk said, puffing up with pride.<br>We all turned around as one person. “It was at the beginning of this hot weather. I was at a camp in jullunder doab and came across stalky in a sikh village; he is sitting on the only state chair, half the population is groveling in front of him, a dozen sikh babies are on his lap, an old witch is slapping him on the shoulder, and he has a garland of flowers around his neck. He told me he was recruiting. We had dinner together that night, but he didn’t say a word about business at the fort. Told me, however, that if i needed any supplies, i’d better say i was a bhai of the koran sahib; and i did, and the sikhs wouldn’t take my money.”<br>“ Ah! It must have been one of ratton singh’s villages,” dick four said, and we smoked in silence for a while.<br>“ I ask,” mcturk said, looking back over the years, “did stalky ever tell you how the egg bunnies came to the rock king that night?””<br>“ No,” said dick four. Then mcturk told me. “I understand,” said dick four, nodding. “Practically, he repeated this trick again. There is no one better than stalky.”<br>“ That’s where you’re making a mistake,” i said. “India is full of stalkers – guys from cheltenham, haileybury and marlborough – about whom we know nothing, and surprises will begin when a really big scandal begins.”<br>“ Who will be surprised?”Said dick four.<br>“ On the other hand. Gentlemen who go to the front in first-class carriages. Just imagine that stalky was released in the south of europe with a sufficient number of sikhs and a reasonable prospect of extraction. Think it over calmly.”<br>“ There’s something in that, but you’re too optimistic, beetle,” the baby said.<br>“ Well, i have the right to do that. Am i not responsible for all this? You don’t have to laugh.<br><br><br>
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