When Mr Carter went out of Form 5 classroom at
the beginning of morning break he saw Jennings who was running along the
"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."
"May I go, sir?"
"Yes, you may. But, please, don't run."
"Thank you, sir," said Jennings and hurried to
the school yard. In the school yard he saw Venables waiting for him with
a roller-skate in each hand.
"I'll screw them up for you, and then I'll
leave you," said Venables and took the key from his pocket. "You see,
Temple has just got a parcel and I want to be there when he opens it.
Maybe there are some sweets in it."
Venables quickly screwed up the skates, put the key into his pocket and ran to help Temple to open the parcel.
A moment later Darbishire came into the school yard and saw his friend's wobbling legs.
"Well, it's only the second time that I've
tried these skates," said Jennings. '"Walk with me a little, and I'll be
"I knew you were not a good skater, Jen," said Darbishire.
"But these skates are different from the skates that I learned on."
"All right, Jen. Take me by the arm."
Jennings took Darbishire by the arm and they
made two laps round the school yard, after which Jennings began to skate
without his friend's help.
He was finishing his twentieth lap when the
bell rang for the end of break. At once all the boys ran to school, and
when Jennings ran up to Darbishire, who was waiting for him, there was
nobody else in the school yard.
"Take the skates off, Jen, quick!" said
Darbishire. "Old Wilkie is taking us for Geography next lesson, and you
know. what there will be if we are late."
, "All right, I'll be ready in a minute. But I can't take them off without the key."
"Well, use the key, be quick!"
"But I haven't got the key. Venables has got
it. He screwed the skates for me." Jennings looked round the empty yard.
"Where has he gone, I wonder!"
"Who, Venables? He's gone into class, I'm sure. I don't think he is going to be late for Old Wilkie's lesson."
"Yes, but... but how does he think I'm going to take off these skates if I haven't I got the key!"
"You'll have to take them off without the "'key," said Darbishire.
Jennings tried to do it, but nothing came out of it.
"I shall never take them off without the key," said Jennings. "Darbi, run to school and see if you can find Venables."
"But there isn't time!" exclaimed Darbishire. "The bell rang hours ago. Old Wilkie may be on his way to the classroom now."
The lesson usually began five minutes after the
bell, but a teacher very often came to his classroom early and expected
to find his form ready for the lesson.
Jennings looked at his feet again. The only
thing he could do was to take off his shoes and skates at the same time.
He took off one shoe. There was a large hole in his sock.
"Look at it, Darbi," said Jennings and pointed to the hole. "I'm sure there wasn't a hole this morning."
"Never mind! Take off the other shoe, quick!"
"Yes, of course."
Jennings quickly pulled the lace in the other shoe, but this time he tied it into a tight knot.
"Now look what's happened," Jennings said.
"That's what comes when you do something in a hurry: you pull the wrong
lace or the wrong end of the right lace."
"Don't talk, Jen. Do something," said Darbishire.
Jennings spent another minute over his shoe and said that he could not do anything.
"I think I've pulled the knot tighter," he said.
The boys could not cut it because neither of
them had a penknife in his pocket. They tried to break the lace but
could not do it either: the lace was very strong.
"You'll have to leave it till you come into class and find Venables."
"But I can't go and find Venables!" he cried. "I can't go into class in one sock and one roller-skate."
"You can, if you come now, before Old Wilkie comes."
"But he may be there already."
"Yes, I know, but - well, he sometimes gives us
some minutes after the bell. If we go now there is still a chance that
we'll be there before he comes, but if you are going to talk about it
"Come on then, quick," Jennings agreed. "You
carry this other skate and go ahead and see that there is nobody in the
So with a sock on one foot and a roller-skate
on the other Jennings crossed the school yard. When they came up to the
door Dar-bishire went upstairs and saw that there was nobody in the
corridor. Sounds of conversation which he heard from the staff room
showed that some teachers were still there.
"We'll have to hope that Old Wilkie is still
there drinking his coffee," Darbishire whispered when Jennings jumped
from one step on to another. "If you jump quickly enough you can skate
the rest of the way along the corridor."
Jennings began to jump quicker, and soon the
boys were in the corridor. On the polished floor of the corridor the
noise that Jennings made with his roller-skate was deafening, and the
staff room was very near.
"Don't make such a noise," whispered Darbishire. "The door of the staff room may open at any moment."
"But what can I do?"
"Can't you walk on tiptoe?"
"On tiptoe? On roller-skates? I want to see you..."
"Well, don't talk. Come on!"
When they came up to the classroom the door was open.
"Old Wilkie hasn't come yet," whispered Darbishire. "Come on!"
The boys of Form Three were greatly surprised
to see Jennings in one sock and one roller-skate. Everybody began to ask
questions. Jennings did not answer any, but went up to Venables' desk.
"Hey, Venables, where's the key to these skates?"
"Oh, sorry," said Venables. "I've got it here
in my..." He took out of his pockets two dirty handkerchiefs, a penny, a
piece of string, an eraser. "Oh, I remember now; I left it downstairs
in the tuck-box room."
"Go and get it at once, then," Jennings said angrily.
"I can't go now. I haven't got time. Old Wilkie will be here in a..."
"He's coming," shouted Atkinson who was standing at the door.
That's awful! What am I going to do?" exclaimed Jennings.
"Go and sit down. He won't notice anything if you keep your feet under the desk," Venables advised.
"I'll get it for you after school. You'll be all right, really."
Mr Wilkins' footsteps behind the door told
Jennings that he must not lose a moment. So he jumped and skated to his
back-row desk at the window. Behind him was Darbishire with Jennings'
left shoe in his hand. He could not think of what to do with it, but
suddenly he saw the waste-paper basket in the corner behind the desks
and dropped the shoe in it.