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- The Gold Bat - 1/29 -


THE GOLD BAT

by P. G. Wodehouse

1904

[Dedication] To THAT PRINCE OF SLACKERS, HERBERT WESTBROOK

CONTENTS

Chapter

I THE FIFTEENTH PLACE

II THE GOLD BAT

III THE MAYOR'S STATUE

IV THE LEAGUE'S WARNING

V MILL RECEIVES VISITORS

VI TREVOR REMAINS FIRM

VII "WITH THE COMPLIMENTS OF THE LEAGUE"

VIII O'HARA ON THE TRACK

IX MAINLY ABOUT FERRETS

X BEING A CHAPTER OF ACCIDENTS

XI THE HOUSE-MATCHES

XII NEWS OF THE GOLD BAT

XIII VICTIM NUMBER THREE

XIV THE WHITE FIGURE

XV A SPRAIN AND A VACANT PLACE

XVI THE RIPTON MATCH

XVII THE WATCHERS IN THE VAULT

XVIII O'HARA EXCELS HIMSELF

XIX THE MAYOR'S VISIT

XX THE FINDING OF THE BAT

XXI THE LEAGUE REVEALED

XXII A DRESS REHEARSAL

XXIII WHAT RENFORD SAW

XXIV CONCLUSION

I

THE FIFTEENTH PLACE

"Outside!"

"Don't be an idiot, man. I bagged it first."

"My dear chap, I've been waiting here a month."

"When you fellows have _quite_ finished rotting about in front of that bath don't let _me_ detain you."

"Anybody seen that sponge?"

"Well, look here"--this in a tone of compromise--"let's toss for it."

"All right. Odd man out."

All of which, being interpreted, meant that the first match of the Easter term had just come to an end, and that those of the team who, being day boys, changed over at the pavilion, instead of performing the operation at leisure and in comfort, as did the members of houses, were discussing the vital question--who was to have first bath?

The Field Sports Committee at Wrykyn--that is, at the school which stood some half-mile outside that town and took its name from it--were not lavish in their expenditure as regarded the changing accommodation in the pavilion. Letters appeared in every second number of the _Wrykinian_, some short, others long, some from members of the school, others from Old Boys, all protesting against the condition of the first, second, and third fifteen dressing-rooms. "Indignant" would inquire acidly, in half a page of small type, if the editor happened to be aware that there was no hair-brush in the second room, and only half a comb. "Disgusted O. W." would remark that when he came down with the Wandering Zephyrs to play against the third fifteen, the water supply had suddenly and mysteriously failed, and the W.Z.'s had been obliged to go home as they were, in a state of primeval grime, and he thought that this was "a very bad thing in a school of over six hundred boys", though what the number of boys had to do with the fact that there was no water he omitted to explain. The editor would express his regret in brackets, and things would go on as before.

There was only one bath in the first fifteen room, and there were on the present occasion six claimants to it. And each claimant was of the fixed opinion that, whatever happened subsequently, he was going to have it first. Finally, on the suggestion of Otway, who had reduced tossing to a fine art, a mystic game of Tommy Dodd was played. Otway having triumphantly obtained first innings, the conversation reverted to the subject of the match.

The Easter term always opened with a scratch game against a mixed team of masters and old boys, and the school usually won without any great exertion. On this occasion the match had been rather more even than the average, and the team had only just pulled the thing off by a couple of tries to a goal. Otway expressed an opinion that the school had played badly.

"Why on earth don't you forwards let the ball out occasionally?" he asked. Otway was one of the first fifteen halves.

"They were so jolly heavy in the scrum," said Maurice, one of the forwards. "And when we did let it out, the outsides nearly always mucked it."

"Well, it wasn't the halves' fault. We always got it out to the centres."

"It wasn't the centres," put in Robinson. "They played awfully well. Trevor was ripping."

"Trevor always is," said Otway; "I should think he's about the best captain we've had here for a long time. He's certainly one of the best centres."

"Best there's been since Rivers-Jones," said Clephane.

Rivers-Jones was one of those players who mark an epoch. He had been in the team fifteen years ago, and had left Wrykyn to captain Cambridge and play three years in succession for Wales. The school regarded the standard set by him as one that did not admit of comparison. However good a Wrykyn centre three-quarter might be, the most he could hope to be considered was "the best _since_ Rivers-Jones". "Since" Rivers-Jones, however, covered fifteen years, and to be looked on as the best centre the school could boast of during that time, meant something. For Wrykyn knew how to play football.

Since it had been decided thus that the faults in the school attack did not lie with the halves, forwards, or centres, it was more or less evident that they must be attributable to the wings. And the search for the weak spot was even further narrowed down by the general verdict that Clowes, on the left wing, had played well. With a beautiful unanimity the six occupants of the first fifteen room came to the conclusion that the man who had let the team down that day had been the man on the right--Rand-Brown, to wit, of Seymour's.

"I'll bet he doesn't stay in the first long," said Clephane, who was now in the bath, _vice_ Otway, retired. "I suppose they had to try him, as he was the senior wing three-quarter of the second, but he's no earthly good."

"He only got into the second because he's big," was Robinson's opinion. "A man who's big and strong can always get his second colours."

"Even if he's a funk, like Rand-Brown," said Clephane. "Did any of you chaps notice the way he let Paget through that time he scored for them? He simply didn't attempt to tackle him. He could have brought him down like a shot if he'd only gone for him. Paget was running straight along the touch-line, and hadn't any room to dodge. I know Trevor was jolly sick about it. And then he let him through once before in just the same way in the first half, only Trevor got round and stopped him. He was rank."

"Missed every other pass, too," said Otway.


The Gold Bat - 1/29

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