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
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."
"I don't think so," said Mr Carter. "Why did a burglar have to choose that strange time and place."
But Mr Wilkins was sure that there was somebody in the school yard.
"I didn't say there was a burglar. I said there could be," he answered coldly. "And I must find out who it was."
"All right. I'll come with you," said Mr Carter with a smile.
The two teachers went out and closed the door behind them. It was cold and the moon was shining brightly.
For some minutes they walked about the school yard, but, of course, they did not find anybody.
"I think you frightened him away when you put your head out of the window," said Mr Carter and smiled again.
"You don't think there was a burglar, do you?" Mr Wilkins got angry. "I see you don't believe me."
"I certainly think that you were mistaken. But I
think you were right to come out and see. And as there is nobody in the
yard, let's go back and have our supper."
But when they came up to the door they found
that neither of them had a key. Mr Wilkins rang the bell. But there was
no answer. Now they had to wait in the cool November evening. Half a
minute later Mr Wilkins rang the bell again. After that he knocked and
rang the bell again and again, but nobody came to answer. It was not
surprising, because everybody was at that time having supper in the
dining hall at the far end of the building.
Suddenly Mr Wilkins said, "Never mind, Carter.
I've now remembered that I saw an open window. It's a window in
Classroom 2 which is on the ground floor. So you stay here, and I'll
climb in and open the door for you."
With these words Mr Wilkins hurried down the
steps, turned round the corner of the building and came up to the window
of Classroom 2. It was really open, and a moment later he was on the
window-ledge, his head in the dark room and his feet still hanging over
If only he had known with what interest two boys watched him from the window of Dormitory 4!
* * *
Fifteen minutes earlier Jennings had been
greatly surprised to see Mr Wilkins put his head out of the window of
Dormitory 6. He was so surprised that he nearly dropped the telephone on
Mr Wilkins' head. Jennings quickly shut the window.
"Old Wilkie is still there," he whispered to Darbishire.
"Are you sure?" his friend asked him.
"Of course I'm sure. I nearly dropped the telephone on his head when he put it out of the window."
"You don't think he saw you, do you?" "Oh, no,
he didn't see me. But let's wait some minutes and give him time to leave
the room before we try again."
The dormitory floor was cold and the two boys climbed back into bed.
"What's the matter?" whispered Temple.
"Yes, what has happened?" whispered Venables.
"Everything is all right," said Jennings.
When Darbishire climbed back into his warm bed
his only wish was not to get out of it and not to stand in front of an
Not so Jennings! "We must think about our messages now, while we are waiting," he said.
"I don't think it is very important," answered
Darbishire. "Well, you may ask them why Old Wilkie didn't go to have his
supper, but was looking at the moon."
"Yes, but what are we going to talk about after
that?" asked Jennings. "We've just arrived on Mars, you see, and we
have to tell them all about it."
"Well, why not say, 'We've just arrived and are having a good time!'"
"We can't say that. You are not sending a postcard home, are you?"
"Well, think about something better, then."
"That's what I'm trying to do," said Jennings.
"You can't understand that we are space pilots, and we must say
something important to the world which is waiting for our messages."
They were talking about their messages for some time. At last Jennings said:
"I think Old Wilkie has gone to have his
supper. So I'll try again." He got out of bed and took his home-made
telephone. "Wake up, Darbi! Don't sleep! Come and help me!"
Darbishire got out of bed, put on his slippers
("It's very cold on Mars," he said to himself) and slowly went to the
window to help his friend.
At that moment Jennings looked through the
window and saw... no, he could not believe his eyes. In the school yard
he saw a man climbing through the window of Classroom 2.
"Look, Darbi, look!" he exclaimed.
Darbishire looked out.
"Who is it?" he whispered.
"I can't see. Can you?"
"No, I can't," answered Darbishire. "Do you think it's a burglar?"
"I think it is. Who climbs through the window at this time of night?"
"What shall we do then?"
"We'll go and tell Old Wilkie. All the teachers are having supper now. So I'm sure they didn't hear anything."
From this conversation the other boys of
Dormitory 4 understood that something important was happening. They
jumped out of their beds and ran to the window. When they were near the
window they saw only a pair of feet disappearing over the window-ledge
of Classroom 2.
The boys were surprised. They forgot about the
home-made telephone at once, because here was an adventure which doesn't
often happen in a boarding school.
Jennings spoke the first. "Darbi and I will go
and give the alarm. You, other boys, stay here and watch the school
yard," he said.
"Yes, but if..." began Darbishire.
"Oh, come on, Darbi! Don't stand there! We'll go straight down to the dining hall and tell one of the teachers."
"Yes, but - wait a minute, I... I've dropped my spectacles."
"You don't need your spectacles. Follow me and do as I say."
Jennings took Darbishire by the hand and they ran to the dining hall.