For one minute after Jennings opened his eyes that morning he could not understand why he had woken up so early. Then he remembered. It was his birthday! He wanted to jump out of bed and tell the boys about it. But all the boys in the dormitory of Linbury Court Boarding School were still sleeping.

Jennings got up and looked at the next bed along the line where Darbishire was sleeping. Darbishire was his best friend, though Jennings was a lively boy and his friend was very slow in all he did.

"Wake up, Darbi, wake up!" said Jennings.

"What's the matter?" Darbishire opened his eyes.

"It's my birthday today!"

When the boys opened the last parcel they saw a square box.

"The Junior Printing Outfit!" read Darbishire.

They opened the box and saw letters made of small pieces of rubber and a pair of tweezers with which they could take the letters and put them in the printing block.

"How wonderful!" said Darbishire. "Now we can print our names on all our books."

All the pupils of Form Three liked the hobbies' hour because during the hobbies' hour they could do what they liked and how they liked.

During the hobbies' hour after tea on the next Monday Jennings and Darbishire sat at a table with some paper and pencils in front of them. They sat between Atkinson who was making a toy for his sister's birthday and Venables who was making a great noise.

"Now, Darbi, let's give our wall newspaper a name," Jennings began. "Let's call it the Form Three Times"

"That's a good name," said Darbishire.

Then they decided to print the first issue of the Form Three Times next week.

When the other boys heard the news about the wall newspaper they came up to Jennings and Darbishire.

"We can't take the parcel to school," Jennings said when the boys left the fishing boat

"Why not? There is no rule about it, is there?" said Darbishire.

"There must be. I think Matron will get angry if we came to tea with the fish. And if there isn't a rule, there soon will be one. Rule number nine hundred and ninety-nine: Any boy who comes to boarding school with a parcel of fish shall stay in class during football."

"Well, let's leave it somewhere before we come to school."

But this was not so easy. There were no trees or bushes on their way to school, and an old woman with a dog was walking behind them.

It was seven o'clock when Jennings got out of bed the next morning and began to wake Darbishire up. But Darbishire did not want to get up so early. The weather was bad: it was raining, and his bed was so warm.

"Can't we do it some other time? One day next week, for example," Darbishire said.

"No, we can't. The fish won't keep."

Darbishire got up and began to dress.

The boys dressed and went out of the dormitory. They went to the tuck-box room for the fish and then to the dark room. When they went into the dark room Darbishire quickly bolted the door.

When the boys went along the corridor Darbishire said, "What are we going to do? We can't take this parcel to Old Wilkie's room, can we?"

"We must hide it somewhere."

"But where?"

They went to Mr Wilkins' door.

"What shall we do? He'll be here in a minute," said Darbishire. Jennings decided to do something.

"Open his door, quick," he said to Darbishire.

"You are not going to hide it in Old Wilkie's room - are you?"

"There is no other place, is there?"

Mr Wilkins was reading a morning newspaper when he heard the first knock at his door. He called: "Come in!" Nobody came.

Mr Wilkins went to the door, opened it, and saw Darbishire who was running along the corridor.

"Darbishire!" he shouted.

At that moment one of Derbyshire's house-shoes came off and he stopped.

"Yes, sir?"

"What are you doing?"

"I'm putting on my house-shoe."

The following morning Jennings and Darbishire hung the first issue of the Form Three Times on the notice-board. There were a lot of boys near it and they liked the newspaper. There was only one boy who did not like it. It was Temple. He did not like it because there wasn't a story about his football boot. He had already found his boot, but he was ready to hide it again because he wanted to read his story in the newspaper.

There was another boy who could not say anything good about the newspaper. He could not say anything bad about it either. He did not see the newspaper. It was Bromwich.

Jennings saw him in the tuck-box room. Bromwich was making a toy bus for his little brother.

Jennings hurried from the football field and went to Mr Wilkins' room. He opened the door and went in. He looked at the fireplace. A fire was laid and Jennings understood that Mr Wilkins was going to light the fire. "It's a good thing I've come now," he thought.

He hurried to the fireplace and put his hand up the chimney. There was nothing there.

"Old Wilkie has found it," he said to himself. "No," he thought at once, "Old Wilkie is not a man to keep it a secret."

Jennings put his head up the chimney but he couldn't see anything.

At that moment he heard footsteps in the corridor. "Will they pass by or will they come in?" he thought.

"I... I... What the..." Mr Wilkins could not say a word. He was very angry. "What are you two silly boys doing up here on the roof? You know very well that you are not to come here."

"Yes, sir."

The boys stood unhappily before him.

"I'm sorry, sir," Jennings said at last, "but we were not sure which was your chimney, sir."

"But you - you silly little boy, why do you want to put things down any chimney? You're not Father Christmas, are you?"

"No, sir, I am not Father Christmas, sir. We wanted to see of your chimney was blocked or not. Because if you decide to light your fire..."

"But why did you think that my chimney was blocked?"

When Jennings and Darbishire were takings off their clothes in the dormitory that evenings, the boy who took part in the competitions came up to them.

"Have you already read those poems?" asked Bromwich.

"Yes, there was only one good poem," answered Jennings.

"Mine?" asked Bromwich.

"No. Yours went into the waste-paper basket."

"Oh!" exclaimed Bromwich. "I've spent a lot of time on that poem."

The next morning Jennings was sitting at his breakfast with a sad face. "There is no second-hand bookshop nearer then Dungambury," thought Jennings, "and Mr Carter will never give Darbishire and me permission to go so far. And if we can reach Dunhambury, shall we find a second-hand bookshop where we can sell the book for a hundred pounds or.. ten shillings?"

He was going to talk to Darbishire, when Venables spoke from the other side of the table.

"Don't forget my prize, Jennings. Remember, it has to be something good."

"Yes, what's it going to be?" asked Atkinson.

"I can't tell you yet," said Jennings, "because... well, because I haven't got it yet. But it's all right. I'm going to sell my Latin book and buy something for the money."

Jennings and Darbishire went into the street.

"Just think, Jen. The headmaster takes the Latin book and finds your name on the first page," said Darbishire and leaned on Mr Barlow's table. When he did it a pile of books fell from the table.

"You are so clumsy, Darbi!" Jennings said angrily. "Now look what you've done!"

"I'm sorry, Jen. It was that clumsy table..."

"Quick; pick them up before the old man comes out of his shop!"

The boys picked the books up and put them back on the table. The last book, which Jennings was just going to put back on the table was Poems by Alfred Tennyson. The book had opened when it had fallen down and Jennings took his handkerchief from his pocket to clean the dust from the two open pages.

The next Monday during hobbies' hour Jennings and Darbishire were talking about the next issue of their wall newspaper.

"I don't think we'11 have any competitions this time," Darbishire said. "Not many boys take part in them. And we can't continue to give boys their own things back as prizes, can we?"

Then they decided to write about the foot-ball game against Bracebridge School. It was an "away" game and the next Saturday the Second Linbury Court School football team had to go to Bracebridge by bus and train.

Jennings was a very good player and took part in every game. Darbishire was a very bad player and never took part in football games. So Jennings decided to ask Mr Carter to take Darbishire as the photographer.

"The next station," thought Mr Wilkins, "will be... What is the name that Carter told me in the bus? Whistlepottle Halt?... Pottlewhistle Halt? Or is it Haltpottle Whistle?" Mr Wilkins couldn't be sure.

"Well, it's either Whistlehalt Pottle or Pottlchalt Whistle," he said to himself and sat down with the receiver to his ear. "Hullo! Can you put me through to a station whose name is Whistlepott Horttle, please?.... What's that? There's no such place? Well, try Haltpottle Whistle, then... You can't find that place either?... Then try Haltwhistle Pottle... or Pittlewhostle Halt... Oh, you know what I mean?... Very good - that's more than I know."

A few moments later Mr Wilkins heard the voice of the old porter.

When the search-party came to the hill Mr Wilkins cried, "Keep together, you boys or you'll lose each other. And if any of you thinks that he hears something... Be quiet Venables, when I'm talking."

"I was quiet, sir."

"Well, don't be quiet so loudly. It's very difficult to keep together in the dark with-out... Now, where's Mr Carter?"

"He is coming behind us. I heard his whistle a moment ago," said a voice in the dark-ness.

"Good! I'll give an answering whistle," said Mr Wilkins. "But... I think I've left my whistle at school."

It was late when the search-party got back to Linbury Court.

Jennings and Darbishire had to go to the Headmaster's study where for twenty minutes they had a very unpleasant conversation with Mr Pemberton.

"You will not go with the school team to an 'away' match again this term," the Headmaster said at the end of the conversation.

"It's not so bad for you because you are not in the team," Jennings said to Darbishire when they came to the dormitory, "but there are four more matches during this term; and some of these schools give wonderful tea after the game."

"Never mind," said Darbishire. "You'll have more time for our wall newspaper. The next issue must be ready very soon, now."

"I've had enough of that Form Three," Mr Wilkins said to Mr Carter when he went into the staff room after his algebra lesson. "I gave them an easy problem this morning, and nobody could give me the right answer. Well, I'm going to make them come to the classroom on Saturday afternoon, believe me!"

"Don't worry, Wilkins," said Mr Carter. "Here is a letter for you."

Mr Wilkins took the envelope, looked at it, and saw L. P. Wilkins in his sister's handwriting. Mr Wilkins began to worry because his younger sister Margaret was usually too busy at her London hospital where she worked as a nurse. She did not often write letters to him. He loved his sister, which was not surprising, because she was a very nice young lady. He opened the envelope and read:

It was after dinner on Friday. Jennings and Darbishire were sitting in the common room when Venables ran in.

"You're the people I'm looking for," he began. "I've decided to do you a favour because you were very decent to me last week."

The very decent boys were surprised. "Were we, really?" asked Jennings.

"Oh, yes!" answered Venables. "I haven't forgotten how you gave me my Latin book as a prize last week."

"'Oh, forget it," said Darbishire.

"All right, all right! I've received a ten-shilling note from my uncle, and in his letter he asks me not to spend it on selfish pleasure. So I ask myself what can be better than to invite two friends to Home-made Cakes and Bicycles Repaired to have some a doughnuts and lemonade on Saturday afternoon."

When Venables was going to school from Linbury, Mr Wilkins was gathering Form Three for the detention class. He wanted to begin the lesson at a quarter past four sharp, or better some minutes earlier. "Margaret's letter doesn't say what time she is coming," he thought, "but I think she will arrive at about five o'clock."

Form Three also wanted to begin and finish the lesson as soon as possible.

They sat down at their desks. When Mr Wilkins came into the classroom he was surprised to see that three boys were absent.

"Why aren't all the boys present, when I'm in a hurry," he said.

The door opened and Jennings and Darbishire jumped to their feet to greet their friend.

But... in the doorway they saw a pleasant young lady of twenty-five or twenty-six years old. She put her suitcase on the floor, smiled and said:

"May I join you at your table? I don't see where else I can sit."

"Oh, yes, please; that'll be all right," said Jennings.

"Not Venables!" whispered Darbishire. "It isn't Venables! What shall we do?"

"Be quiet, Darbi," whispered Jennings. "It's not polite." He turned back to the young lady and took the cat from the chair.

If you once stepped under an ice-cold shower when thinking that it was hot, you will know something about what Jennings and Darbishire felt when they understood that their guest was Mr Wilkins' sister.

For a minute they didn't speak. When Mr Carter closed the door behind him Darbishire exclaimed:

"I can't believe it! I just cannot believe it! I just can't believe it! Old Wilkie's sister! No, I can't believe it!"

Jennings did not hear him. He was thinking about fire-breathing dragons and frantic types.

"Why didn't she tell us that she was his sister?" he exclaimed.

Soon Margaret and her brother heard footsteps in the corridor and then a knock at the door. "Come in!" called Mr Wilkins, and two boys with very sad faces came into the room.

"Please, sir, we've come to report you, sir."

"Yes, of course! Come in, Jennings and Darbishire. Well, well! You... you've met my sister, I think," Mr Wilkins looked at Margaret and smiled.

But the boys did not dare to look up- they were still looking at their shoes.

"I think you've come about that detention class that we had this afternoon," said Mr Wilkins and smiled again.

"We are very sorry we were absent, sir," said Jennings at last, "and for all we said, too, sir."

If hobbies keep the children out of mischief, as Mr Pemberton said, it was riot so with Jennings.

His next hobby (after the wall newspaper) was home-made telephone. The idea came to him before school one Monday when he was I looking for his exercise-book in his desk.

"You know what, Darbi," he said to his friend. "If we had a telephone here I could ring up and ask him if he has got it in the staff room."

"Who has got what in the staff room?" asked Darbishire. It was not always easy to understand what Jennings meant.

"My English exercise-book: I can't find it anywhere in my desk. I think Mr Carter took it at the end of the lesson yesterday afternoon."

The next morning Jennings and Darbishire spent every moment of their free time with ears or mouths in a tobacco tin. They talked about the weather or asked about each other's health. At last they were tired of their homemade telephone.

"You know, Darbi, we have to think of something else that we can do with our homemade telephone," said Jennings. "It's silly to say 'How are you?' and 'I'm all right. How are you?' again and again."

"Yes, I see what you mean," answered Darbishire. "But it's very difficult to know what else to say after the first half an hour."

"Well, never mind, I expect I'll think of something," said Jennings.

The next lesson was geography, but Mr Wilkins, who taught this subject to Form Three decided to spend the first ten minutes on an inspection of books and stationery.

When Mr Wilkins went into the staff room after the end of afternoon school he found Mr Hind there.

"What's the matter, Wilkins?" asked Mr Hind. "You look so sad."

"You can't look happy after a lesson in Form Three. Take that boy Jennings for example..."

"Oh, yes! Jennings, as usual!"

"What can you do with a boy like that? I'm really tired of him."

"He doesn't mean to be disobedient. But the harder he tries to be good the worse it is. We can only hope that after some time he'll learn how to behave," said Mr Hind.

Mr Wilkins went out of Dormitory 6 and hurried to the school yard. In the hall he met Mr Carter.

"I say, Carter, something strange is going on in the school yard," said Mr Wilkins. "Somebody is tapping on Dormitory 6 window."

Mr Carter smiled.

"Nonsense, Wilkins. I can't believe it. Nobody could tap on Dormitory 6 window from the ground without a ladder."

"All right, all right. I'm just telling you what happened. I'm not trying to explain it," said Mr Wilkins. "Maybe he used a ladder."

"You think that suddenly during the night somebody had a wish to clean windows. Well, really, Wilkins!"

"Of course not. I think that somebody was in the school yard. Somebody who disappeared when I looked out of the window. It could be a burglar."

Jennings and Darbishire hurried downstairs. Near the library they stopped. In front of them was the hall which they had to cross to walk to the dining hall at the far end of the building. Suddenly they heard footsteps. Somebody walked in the hall.

"Can you see anybody?" Darbishire whispered.

"I can," answered Jennings. He could see Mr Carter and Mr Wilkins going from the hall into the corridor on their way to the dining hall.

"Sir! ... Sir!" he called in a whisper. But neither of the teachers heard his whisper. Jennings took Darbishire by the hand again and the boys crossed the hall and hurried along the corridor after the teachers. But when they turned the last corner they could only see Mr Carter and Mr Wilkins disappearing through the dining hall door.

The next morning Jennings was standing in front of the Headmaster. To his surprise the Headmaster said very little about the false alarm, because before that Mr Carter had had a conversation with the Headmaster during which he pointed out to Mr Pemberton that the boys had acted with the best of intentions.

But all the boys who had anything to do with the telephone line between Dormitory 4 and Dormitory 6 were punished and all the home-made telephones were confiscated

"We must watch the dormitories better. If we do it such things will never happen again," the Headmaster said to the teachers the next morning. "I think the boys will behave better if they know there is a teacher not far from their dormitory after they have gone to bed. So I want to ask you, Wilkins, to change your bedroom and move nearer to the dormitories."

When Mr Carter went out of Form 5 classroom at the beginning of morning break he saw Jennings who was running along the corridor.

"Jennings, as usual!" Mr Carter said and asked him to stop. "How many times have I told you not to run in the corridor?"

"I'm sorry, sir," said Jennings. "You see, I'm in a hurry. Venables has given me his roller-skates for the whole break."

"I see."

"May I go, sir?"

"Yes, you may. But, please, don't run."

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