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
"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."
"With a nice photo of the winning goal in the
Bracebridge match, I think!" said Jennings with a smile. "You were a
wonderful photographer, Darbi. You came when the game was half over, and
didn't take any photos."
"But we can write about the search-party," said
Darbishire. "Jennings and Darbishire Find Search-Party! That will be a
nice title, won't it? Or Search-Party Finds Jennings' Glove."
Darbishire decided to write the titles in his
exercise-book, but at that moment Mr Carter put out the dormitory light.
Darbishire was only too happy - he wanted to sleep. And in the next bed
Jennings, who did not want to sleep, was thinking about... yes, he was
thinking about Mr Wilkins. "We must really be decent to Old Wilkie," he
thought. "He is not bad, after all. That search-party was certainly too
much for him. I'll try to work well during his lessons," he decided.
"Darby," Jennings said suddenly.
"Oh! Shut up!" came from the next bed. "I'm sleeping."
"You are not sleeping. You can't talk when you
are sleeping. Listen! You know we were wondering what we could write
about in the next number of the Form Three Times?"
"A fine time to wake me up!"
"Yes, but listen! What will you think if I
write some life-stories of famous people like Julius Caesar or Charles
Dickens, for example?"
"I'll think it strange."
"Yes, but that's not all. I think it will make Old Wilkie happy."
"Why do you think he will want to read, about Charles Dickens?" asked Darbishire in surprise.
"No, you silly! We'll write about Old Wilkie In
our Famous Lives, and maybe of other teachers too. We must really be
decent to Old Wilkie."
"Let's talk about it tomorrow, Jen. I am really sleeping already."
* * *
During the next four days Jennings and
Darbishire did all they could to be decent to Mr Wilkins. They tried to
mend his pen (it was not their fault that they could not do it), they
woke him up early in the morning to show him Darbishire's new drawing,
they once opened the door for him - they did it so quickly that Mr
Wilkins nearly fell.
"I think he will be happier when he sees, his
life-story in the Form Three Times," Darbishire said to Jennings when
they waited for Mr Wilkins to arrive for an algebra lesson a week later.
"Are you writing those famous life-stories?"
"I've already written Juluis Caesar's
lifestory," answered Jennings, "but there wasn't much to say about
Charles Dickens, so I am going to write Mr Carter's life-story to fill
up the space. Mr Wilkins' life-story is the most difficult one: I can't
find out how old he is or what his first name is."
At that moment they heard Mr Wilkins' footsteps in the corridor. The door opened, and Mr Wilkins came into the classroom.
"Good morning, sir," said Form Three.
"Good morning," said Mr Wilkins. "I am going to
show you a new sort of problem during this lesson. So sit up straight
and try to understand."
Form Three sat up straight, but to try to
understand Mr Wilkins was another thing, because it was not easy to
understand when Mr Wilkins explained about new problems. There was one
problem about the man who walked at the strange speed of x miles an hour
for the strange time of y hours.
"I've never seen a clock with y's on its face,"
Jennings whispered to Darbishire. "Maybe Mr Wilkins will be interested
to know about it."
And Jennings told him so. Other boys asked Mr Wilkins questions which he thought were very silly too.
When he finished his explanation he said, "Now
we'll see how much you've understood. Try to work out the next problem
He wrote the next problem on the blackboard and
sat down at the .teacher's desk. The problem was about a walk from one
milestone to the next and there were some x's and y's in it too.
"Do we have to work it out in our exercise books, sir?" asked Atkinson.
"Of course. You don't think I want you to write it on the desks, do you?" came the angry reply.
Temple put up his hand.
"Please, sir, we can't find the answer to this
problem, sir. You haven't told us how far it is from one milestone to
the next. And before we know that we can't work it out, can we, sir?"
"I'm sure, Temple, you must know how far it is
from one milestone to the next mile-stone. It can't be more than one
mile, can it?" said Mr Wilkins and left his desk. "Well, Bromwich, have
you worked out how much time it will take?"
"Yes, sir, three days, sir."
"Three days to go a mile! Don't be funny, you silly little boy. A snail can do it in that time!"
"I thought it was a snail, sir. The problem doesn't say it has to be a man. So I thought, it could be a snail."
"Well, well, Bromwich... Darbishire! I think you have worked it out, haven't you?"
"Yes, I have, sir. I used a man, sir, and I worked it out quickly. He must finish his trip at half past z, sir."
Mr Wilkins clasped his hands over his eyes and sat down at the desk.
"Please put your hands up all boys who have written down 'twenty minutes' for the answer," he said loudly.
Nobody put up his hand.
"Not one right answer to an easy problem!"
exclaimed Mr Wilkins. "Very well. You all must come here at a quarter
past four on Saturday and we'll have some more examples."
The boys were certainly not happy when they heard the news. Bromwich turned to Jennings and Darbishire.
"The first team will play a 'home' match on
Saturday," he said. "When the game is over at half past three then it's
the time we can go to the village. I think Old Wilkie has purposely
chosen this time for his detention class, because we won't have enough
time to go to the village and to come back."
"You mean we shall have enough time to go to
the village and come back, because it takes us ten minutes to walk each
way. But we won't have any time to spend in o the village, will we?"
Jennings didn't want to go to the village this
Saturday because he had no money. He decided to finish his life-stories
for the next issue of the wall newspaper which he wanted to hang on the
notice-board the following Tuesday.
The algebra lesson ended when the bell rang for break, and Mr Wilkins went to the staff room for a cup of tea.