It was after dinner on Friday. Jennings and Darbishire were sitting in the common room when Venables ran in.
"You're the people I'm looking for," he began.
"I've decided to do you a favour because you were very decent to me last
The very decent boys were surprised. "Were we, really?" asked Jennings.
"Oh, yes!" answered Venables. "I haven't forgotten how you gave me my Latin book as a prize last week."
"'Oh, forget it," said Darbishire.
"All right, all right! I've received a
ten-shilling note from my uncle, and in his letter he asks me not to
spend it on selfish pleasure. So I ask myself what can be better than to
invite two friends to Home-made Cakes and Bicycles Repaired to have
some a doughnuts and lemonade on Saturday afternoon."
"Oh, thank you very much, Venables," said Darbishire happily,
"Wait a minute," said Jennings. "We'll all have Old Wilkie's detention lesson at a quarter past four tomorrow."
"Oh, I've forgotten about it," exclaimed Venables.
"But we can go next week, can't' we?" said Darbishire.
"A week is a long time," said Jennings. "Let's
go tomorrow. We'll have a lot of time if we go after the football match
is over at half past three. It'll take us ten minutes to go each way,
and we'll have twenty minutes for doughnuts and lemonade. That will be
enough, won't it?"
"All right, then; we'll do that," said Venables. "But we must be very quick."
* * *
On Saturday morning the weather was cold and it
was raining. But by the time the first football team was playing the
match the sun was already shining brightly.
The game ended at half past three, and three
minutes later Jennings, Darbishire and Venables were hurrying along the
village street to where a notice in a small house window t said:
Home-made Cakes and Bicycles Repaired.
"Here we are," said Venables and opened the garden gate.
There was nobody in the garden, and the boys
went into a small sitting-room of the house. There were usually not many
visitors there and when they came they sat down at the little table on
very old and shaky chairs.
"Sit down, boys," Venables invited his friends,
and the three boys sat down at the table. "I have ten shillings, so you
can ask for anything you like - except a home-made bicycle."
Mrs Lumly, the owner of -the shop, came out of the kitchen to see her first visitors of the day.
"Yes?" she asked.
"A plate of home-made cakes and doughnuts and
three bottles of lemonade, please," said Venables after a short
conversation with Jennings and Darbishire.
Mrs Lumly slowly went out.
"I hope she will do it quickly; it's a quarter to four already."
Mrs Lumly had not hurried for the last forty
years and did not want to do so now. She went slowly around the kitchen,
washed some glasses, and saw if the cat's supper was ready. At last she
came back to the sitting-room and put a plate with cakes and doughnuts
and bottles on the table.
"Thank you very much," said the visitors and began their feast. The doughnuts and cakes were really wonderful.
"It will not cost more than ten shillings, will it?" asked Darbishire, with his mouth full of doughnuts.
"Oh, no! That'll be three shillings," said Mrs
Lumly. "But don't pay now, boys. Enjoy it, and I'll be in the kitchen if
you want more doughnuts and cakes." And she left the sitting-room.
For three minutes the boys did not speak -
their mouths were too full of doughnuts and cakes to say a word. Then
Jennings said, "Aren't these cakes and doughnuts wonderful!
I haven't eaten anything like them since I was young-well, I mean younger than I am now."
"Yes," said Darbishire, "it's very nice of you,
Venables..." he suddenly stopped. "I say, Ven, what's the matter? Are
you all right?"
"What's that? Oh, yes, I'm all right, thank you", said Venables. But the expression his face showed that he was not.
Jennings looked up from his plate, too.
"What's the matter, Venables? Are you all right?" he asked.
"I'm all right, thank you. I just suddenly thought..."
"Don't worry about the detention class," said
Jennings. "If we leave the place in five minutes we shall have enough
time to go back to school."
"It's not the detention class," answered
Venables. "It was when you asked Mrs Lumly how much it all cost. I
suddenly thought 'Gosh!'"
"Well?" Jennings said. "What happened after you thought 'Gosh!'?"
"Well, after I thought 'Gosh!', I thought again
and then I thought 'Gosh!' I thought - I changed my jacket after dinner
because Matron wanted to mend it."
"Well... you see, I've left my ten-shilling note in my other jacket."
"I'm very sorry and all that."
"That's awful!" exclaimed Jennings. "We've
already had three cakes, two doughnuts and two bottles of lemonade, and
we haven't got a penny to pay for it! Why do all these things always
happen to us?"
"What shall we do?" asked Darbishire.
"Let's explain it to Mrs Lumly and ask to pay later," said Venables.
"No, she may not believe us," Jennings decided
and turned to Venables. "You'll have to run to school faster than x
miles an hour, Ven, and get that ten-shilling note from your other
pocket. Darbi and I will sit here and eat these doughnuts as if nothing
"But it will take Venables twenty minutes to
walk to school and come back," Darbishire looked at his watch. "It's one
minute to four."
"You mustn't walk, Ven. Please, run quickly," said Jennings.
Venables did not say a word but stood up from the table and ran out of the room.
"Eat, Jennings, we mustn't let Mrs Lumly suspect anything."
"I wonder if Venables will come back with the
money before we have finished the cakes and doughnuts , on the plate,"
said Jennings. "If he doesn't come we shall have to ask for more,
because..." He stopped because the kitchen door opened and Mrs Lumly
came into the sitting-room.
"I think I saw one of you in my garden," she said.
"Yes, it's our friend. He's gone out... for a little walk. He'll be back soon," Jennings explained.
Mrs Lumly looked at the now empty plate.
"Do you want some more doughnuts?" she asked.
"Well... yes... I think we'll have some more," said Jennings.
"All right, boys," said Mrs Lumly, and went to the kitchen, "But I don't want any more doughnuts," said Darbishire.
"I don't want them either, but what could I do?" said Jennings angrily.