Chapter 20PHILIP was moved into the Sixth, but he hated school now with all his heart, and, having lost his ambition, cared nothing whether he did ill or well. He awoke in the morning with a sinking heart because he must go through another day of drudgery. He was tired of having to do things because he was told; and the restrictions irked him, not because they were unreasonable, but because they were restrictions. He yearned for freedom. He was weary of repeating things that he knew already and of the hammering away, for the sake of a thick-witted fellow, at something that he understood from the beginning.
With Mr. Perkins you could work or not as you chose. He was at once eager and abstracted. The Sixth Form room was in a part of the old abbey which had been restored, and it had a gothic window: Philip tried to cheat his boredom by drawing this over and over again; and sometimes out of his head he drew the great tower of the Cathedral or the gateway that led into the precincts. He had a knack for drawing. Aunt Louisa during her youth had painted in water colours, and she had several albums filled with sketches of churches, old bridges, and picturesque cottages. They were often shown at the vicarage tea-parties. She had once given Philip a paint-box as a Christmas present, and he had started by copying her pictures. He copied them better than anyone could have expected, and presently he did little pictures of his own. Mrs. Carey encouraged him. It was a good way to keep him out of mischief, and later on his sketches would be useful for bazaars. Two or three of them had been framed and hung in his bed-room.
But one day, at the end of the morning's work, Mr. Perkins stopped him as he was lounging out of the form-room.
"I want to speak to you, Carey."
Philip waited. Mr. Perkins ran his lean fingers through his beard and looked at Philip. He seemed to be thinking over what he wanted to say.
"What's the matter with you, Carey?" he said abruptly.
Philip, flushing, looked at him quickly. But knowing him well by now, without answering, he waited for him to go on.
"I've been dissatisfied with you lately. You've been slack and inattentive. You seem to take no interest in your work. It's been slovenly and bad."
"I'm very sorry, sir," said Philip.
"Is that all you have to say for yourself?"
Philip looked down sulkily. How could he answer that he was bored to death?
"You know, this term you'll go down instead of up. I shan't give you a very good report."
Philip wondered what he would say if he knew how the report was treated. It arrived at breakfast, Mr. Carey glanced at it indifferently, and passed it over to Philip.
"There's your report. You'd better see what it says," he remarked, as he ran his fingers through the wrapper of a catalogue of second-hand books.
Philip read it.
"Is it good?" asked Aunt Louisa.
"Not so good as I deserve," answered Philip, with a smile, giving it to her.
"I'll read it afterwards when I've got my spectacles," she said.
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