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."
"Very well," said Mr Wilkins. "I think you want me to move into the room which is near the music room?"
Yes, you are right. Thank you, Witkins, I'm sure you will like the room."
And Mr Wilkins really liked the room. It was
larger and lighter than his old room. But there was one thing which did
not like: there was only a thin wall between his nice room and the music
room. And all the evenings and early mornings he had to listen to the
boys playing the piano in the music room.
On the first morning the bell woke him up at a
quarter past seven. Some minutes later he suddenly heard a sound that
told him that somebody had dropped a book on the keyboard. Then somebody
began to play Beethoven's Minuet in but with so many mistakes that it
was very difficult to say whether it was Beethoven's Minuet in G or
something else. Then somebody began to play with one finger. That was
too much for
He got up from his bed, crossed the room and
knocked on the wall. The music stopped. But some moments later somebody
began to play again - with one finger.
Mr Wilkins quickly dressed, left his room and went into the music room. The somebody was Jennings.
"Jennings, as usual!" said Mr Wilkins. "What's going on here?"
"Nothing, sir," answered Jennings. "I'm learning my piano lesson, sir."
"And who taught you to play with one finger?"
"I was playing by ear, sir."
"You see, there is a place which Mr Hind hasn't shown me, so..."
"Now listen to me, Jennings," interrupted Mr
Wilkins. "If your time to play the piano in the music room is from half
past seven till the breakfast bell rings, I want to hear; - you playing
all the time without stopping."
"You want to hear me playing without stopping! You mean you like my playing, sir? Is this why you knocked on the wall?"
"That certainly wasn't applause," said Mr
Wilkins. "You know that now I live in the next room. So I can hear
everything that goes on - and everything that doesn't go on, too."
"So if you hear my knock on the wall it means
that you must learn your music lesson and not to sit and look out of the
window or play with one finger."
"Well, sir, I have to stop sometimes, sir, to turn over a page, or when I'm not quite, sure what the next note is."
"I think I can understand that. But if I, have
to knock on the wall more than once, I'll - I'll..." Mr Wilkins did not
finish the sentence and left the room.
When the door shut behind Mr Wilkins, Jennings
turned to the piano. He liked to learn his music lessons before
breakfast. He thought that was the best time for it, because it meant
that the rest of the day was free for other more interesting things. But
now with Mr Wilkins in the next room...
Not that Jennings didn't like to learn music.
He was even interested in music lessons. which he had with Mr Hind twice
a week. But with Mr Wilkins in the next room... For the next two weeks
Jennings tried to play the piano without stopping. At the end of this
time during his Thursday morning piano lesson with Mr Hind Jennings was
playing again and again Beethoven's Minuet in G.
"No, no, no, Jennings!" Mr Hind put his hand on
his pupil's arm. "You always make the same mistake when you come to
"Yes, I know, sir," said Jennings. "Shall 1 play it again?"
"No, please, don't. I think, Jennings, you don't practise properly."
"Oh, but I do, sir, really, sir," said
Jennings. "You have to practise properly when Mr Wilkins is in the next
room. He always knocks on the wall if I stop to blow my nose."
"I'm very happy to hear it," said Mr Hind. "All right, Jennings, try this again."
This time he played the piece without any wrong notes.
"Well, sir! I played it without a mistake this time. Soon I'll play it really well, won't I, sir?"
"Hm!" Mr Hind thought for a moment. "Do you want to hear the Minuet in G played properly?"
"But I played it properly last time, sir," Jennings said in surprise.
"That's what you think!" Mr Hind got up from
his chair and went to the record-player which was standing in one corner
of the room. "I've got a record of that minuet; a very famous pianist
plays it on this record. Do you want to hear it?"
"Yes, of course, sir."
Jennings jumped from the piano stool and
hurried to help Mr Hind. He switched on the record-player and opened the
lid while Mr Hind was looking for the record. Then they sat down and
listened to the music.
"He is playing well," Jennings thought when he
was listening to the record. "Of course some music sounds better on a
good record-player than on the old music room piano. And I think that
pianist had more time to practise it. But really he is playing it very
"He hasn't made any mistakes!" exclaimed Jennings when the record stopped. "I wish I could play the piano like that, sir!"
"Yes, certainly," Mr Hind answered when he
closed the lid of the record-player. . "And I only hope that it was very
useful for you • to listen to this record."
"Oh, yes, sir, it was," It was only later that Jennings understood how really useful this record was to him.