`Eh -- what?' said Foxy.
`Collinson, K.C.B. -- He commanded the Pompadours -- my father's old regiment,' hissed Swayne major.
`Take your time,' said the visitor. `I know how it feels. Your first drill -- eh?'
`Yes, sir.' He drew an unhappy breath. `'Tention. Dress!' The echo of his own voice restored his confidence.
The wheel was faced about, flung back, broken into fours, and restored to line without a falter. The official hour of punishment was long past, but no one thought of that. They were backing up Stalky -- Stalky in deadly fear lest his voice should crack.
`He does you credit, Sergeant,' was the visitor's comment. `A good drill -- and good material to drill. Now, it's an extraordinary thing: I've been lunching with your head master and he never told me you had a cadet-corps in the College.'
`We 'aven't, sir. This is only a little drill,' said the Sergeant.
`But aren't they keen on it?' said M`Turk, speaking for the first time, with a twinkle in his deep-set eyes.
`Why aren't you in it, though, Willy?'
`Oh, I'm not punctual enough,' said M`Turk. `The Sergeant only takes the pick of us.'
`Dismiss! Break off!' cried Foxy, fearing an explosion in the ranks. `I -- I ought to have told you, sir, that -- '
`But you should have a cadet-corps.' The General pursued his own line of thought. `You shall have a cadet-corps, too, if my recommendation in Council is any use. I don't know when I've been so pleased. Boys animated by a spirit like yours should set an example to the whole school.'
`They do,' said M`Turk.
`Bless my soul! Can it be so late? I've kept my fly waiting half an hour. Well, I must run away. Nothing like seeing things for oneself. Which end of the building does one get out at? Will you show me, Willy? Who was that boy who took the drill?'
`Corkran, I think his name is.'
`You ought to know him. That's the kind of boy you should cultivate. Evidently an unusual sort. A wonderful sight. Five-and-twenty boys, who, I dare say, would much sooner be playing cricket --' (it was the depth of winter; but grown people, especially those who have lived long in foreign parts, make these little errors, and M`Turk did not correct him) -- `drilling for the sheer love of it. A shame to waste so much good stuff; but I think I can carry my point.'
`An' who's your friend with the white whiskers?' demanded Stalky, on M`Turk's return to the study.
`General Collinson. He comes over to shoot with my father sometimes. Rather a decent old bargee, too. He said I ought to cultivate your acquaintance, Stalky.'
`Did he tip you?'
M`Turk exhibited a blessed whole sovereign.
`Ah,' said Stalky, annexing it, for he was treasurer. `We'll have a hefty brew. You'd pretty average cool cheek, Turkey, to jaw about our keenness an' punctuality.'
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|