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
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.
The door opened and Mr Pemberton, the
Headmaster, stood in the doorway. Mr Pemberton looked at Jennings and
saw soot on his face and hands.
"May I ask what you are doing, Jennings?"
"I... I... was putting my head up the chimney, sir."
"I can see that, but I can't understand why!"
"I wanted to see how far I could see up the chimney."
"I see." Mr Pemberton was an old teacher. He
knew that twelve-year-old boys could sometimes do the things that no
teacher could hope to understand. So he wasn't surprised when Jennings
told him why he was putting his head up the chimney.
"I think, Jennings, that Mr Wilkins has sent
you here," said the Headmaster. "But you mustn't come to his room in
your football boots. Go down and change them."
Jennings left Mr Wilkins' room and went to change his football boots.
Near the changing-room he met Darbishire.
"Is everything all right?" asked Darbishire. I
kept Old Wilkie out in the field but you didn't wave your hand to me.
It's a good thing you took the parcel, because Old Wilkie has gone to
his room to light the fire."
"Yes, he wants to make the room warm because the Headmaster is going to visit him."
"But I haven't got the parcel from the chimney."
"The Headmaster came into the room, saw me in my football boots and told me to go and change them."
"But why didn't you take off your football boot's? No, what I mean is..."
"Never mind, Darbi. I have a new plan. We'll go fishing."
"No, we can't go fishing. We must get that parcel back."
"Yes, I know. Listen, Darbi. If we can't get
the parcel from below let's get it from above. All we need is a big hook
and a long piece of string."
Mr Wilkins chimney was on a flat roof. The boys
could get there from an attic-window, drop the hook down the chimney
and get the parcel from it. That was Jennings' new plan.
The boys changed out of their football kit
quickly. Then they found a big hook and a long string, went up to the
attic-window, then out of the attic-window onto the roof and hurried to
Mr Wilkins' chimney.
* * *
Mr Wilkins sat on a chair near his fire. It was
warm in the room and he did not want to light the fire yet. He was
listening to the Headmaster who was talking about Algebra lessons in the
Suddenly Mr Wilkins looked at the fireplace and
saw something. He could not believe it! He closed his eyes, opened
them, and looked at the fireplace again, the thing was still there.
"Are you listening to me, Wilkins?" said Mr Pemberton.
The Headmaster looked at the fireplace too, and
saw a big hook. It was swinging from side to side. For a moment Mr
Palmerton and Mr Wilkins looked at the hook, in surprise.
Then the Headmaster spoke.
"What is it?" he said.
"It's a hook," said Mr Wilkins.
"Yes, yes, I can see that, Wilkins. But what is it doing in your fireplace? Do you boil kettles in you fireplace?"
"No, no, I don't boil kettles. When I want a
cup of tea I usually go to Matron's room. She often makes tea at 5
"Excuse me, Wilkins, but this is not the moment
to talk about tea. Somebody is up on the roof. I think you must go and
see who it is."
"Yes, yes, of course," said Mr Wilkins and hurried out of the room.
When he left the room Mr Pemberton looked at the fireplace again. But he did not see the hood there.
"Now, I wonder what is going on up there," he said to himself.
* * *
When Jennings and Darbishire came out onto the roof they saw not one, but more than twenty chimneys.
"Do you know which is Mr Wilkins' one?" asked Jennings.
"No, I don't," answered Darbishire. "But I
think Mr Wilkins has already lit his fire. So his chimney must be one of
those with smoke."
"Don't be silly, Darbi. If he has lit the fire,
the smoke won't come out. It will go into his room. Let's listen at the
chimneys without smoke and see if we can hear any coughing."
They listened at every chimney without smoke
but could not hear any coughing. At last Jennings chose a chimney and
dropped the hook down.
"It's either this one or the next," he said,
"because Mr Wilkins' window looks... Oh, Darbi! There is something on
"Can you take it up?"
"I don't know. I think I can." Jennings pulled the string. "I've got it," he cried. "I've got it!"
Darbishire began to dance. But he stopped when he saw that it was not the parcel, but a bird's nest.
"Wrong chimney," said Jennings and went to another chimney.
He dropped the hook again and began to swing it.
"Wrong chimney again," said Jennings. "It's empty: I can swing the hook from side to side. Look, Darbi."
"How can I see what is going on down the chimney" asked Darbishire.
Of course, Darbishire could not see it, but Mr Wilkins could. It was at that moment that Mr Wilkins saw the hook.
Jennings pulled the hook out. "I'll look down
every chimney now," he thought. "If there is nothing in the chimney I'll
see the light from the fireplace." He put his face to the chimney and
"What are you doing?" asked Darbishire.
"I'm looking down the chimney. I want to see
the light," , answered Jennings. But Darbishire did not hear the answer
because it went straight down the chimney. It was Matron's room. She was
making tea when she heard a voice in the chimney. She started and the
cup of tea danced in her hands.
"I can't see anything," Jennings said.
"I can," said Darbishire. "I can see Mr Wilkins. He is coming from the attic-window."