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fellow so nervous that it was almost man!" exclaimed Miss Phipps after the equally difficult to hear or understand angel had retired. “So easy and selfwhat he said or wanted to say. The possessed." third was the angel, and by comparison “Just a little tiny bit too much, do with the other two he shone. He had you think?" asked Mrs. Goodwin. a fairly good presence, was fairly well “It's a good fault nowadays, especidressed, and seemed quite at bis ease. ally for dealing with boys," said the His "form" was nothing to boast of. Chairman. “Will
make A pass in the Senior Cambridge Local proposition ?" was his nearest approach to University “I propose that we recommend the distinction, but he appeared to have at- appointment of the last candidate, Mr. tended an amazing number of lectures -oh yes-Mr. Wilson," said the Rev. on an extraordinary variety of sub- Mr. Cobbe. jects, and he had a reasonably good “I second that," said the voice from testimonial from his late headmaster. the corner.
"Have you any musical qualifica- “Carried unanimously," declared the tions?” asked the chairman.
Chairman. "I took a course of lectures on the So the angel came to Chignett Street. Dalcroze Eurhythmics," answered the angel.
II. "Ah, indeed," said the Chairman, "but I'm afraid I'm not much the Before the angel had been at work wiser."
for a week, Mr. Worth, the headmas“I've seen about them," remarked ter, was very much of Mrs. Goodwin's Miss Phipps, opening her bag as if she opinion. The new master did seem thought they might possibly be inside just a little too self-assured.
chalance almost amounted to a chal“It's a system of musical theory ap- lenge. He was not in the least rude or plied to physical exercises," the angel insubordinate, but he seemed to look airily explained.
upon the school, and the L. C. C., and "Can you play the piano for the chil- the whole educational system as matdren to march to?" demanded Mrs. ters of very slight importance. He did Goodwin, who was practical.
not disguise his amusement at the “Oh yes," replied the angel with an fussy importance of the managers, and easy nod; "there's not much difficulty the hope he expressed of a speedy visit in that."
from the inspectors sounded strange if "And play a hymn-tune?” pursued not absolutely unnatural. the Rev. Mr. Cobbe.
In the ordinary course, a new "That's easier still, isn't it?" said the teacher would have been set to take angel.
one of the lowest standards. This va"I should like to ask, Mr. Chairman" cancy, however, had arisen unexpect-it was the voice of an obscure man- edly in the middle of the summer term ager in the dark corner of the room- owing to the sudden breakdown of Mr. “if this gentleman can teach swim- Payne, who had been in charge of the ming."
Fourth. Here the boys were, on the “I never have taught it," answered average, between ten and eleven, and the angel, and then added, with a con- among them were three or four unusufidential smile, “but I know how to ally bright lads and a rather heavy keep my own head out of the water." contingent of dunces. The Fourth is
“What a contrast to the other young an important standard, because by the time a boy leaves it he has generally enough to let me have the cane and the shown pretty plainly what the rest of punishment book.” his school career is likely to be. Still, Brickell's face fell. He was no hero. there were only a few weeks to run be- "I'll stand up," he said, almost pofore the summer holidays, and it did litely. not seem worth while upsetting the But Mr. Wilson was not in a melting other classes. So Mr. Wilson was in- mood. troduced to the boys of Standard IV. “I think you will," he answered, “afas their new teacher.
ter you've had the cane." For the first few days there was And when the squat little instrument hesitation and uncertainty, followed- of doom appeared, he administered a on the part of the boys—by experi- couple of strokes with such unexpected ment. They knew perfectly well that vigor that Brickell fairly howled, and only a master of a certain standing has any lingering doubts as to the master's the power of the cane. It was all-im- qualifications were swept clean away. portant to find out how Mr. Wilson stood in this respect. He was youth
III. ful in appearance, and the general When the school work began again opinion was that he was not qualified. after the summer holidays, the angel Brickell was the chief exponent of this found himself in command of Standard view, and so confident was he that he III. He made no difficulty about the offered to furnish a test case, and, Standard: perhaps Mr. Worth might what is more, did it. It was just at the have been better pleased if he had end of Mr. Wilson's first week. Late done so.
It was the young master's in the afternoon he noticed a good smiling indifference, his air of looking deal of turning round, and bending upon the school and all its concerns as over, and whispering, which seemed to matters of very small importance, that centre round a big, red-faced, loutish- irritated him. At the same time he looking boy at the very back of the was puzzled by what seemed an inconroom.
sistency. Over and over again he surThe master pointed to him.
prised Mr. Wilson watching, with what “What's your name?" he asked. seemed keen, almost strained, atten.
“Brickell," answered the boy, in a tion, some very commonplace personsurly voice.
it might be a master or a boy-some"Stand up on the form."
times it was the caretaker. He made “What for? I wasn't doin' noth- no friends among the masters, but the in'."
nearest approach to friendship was "Stand up!" repeated Mr. Wilson, with poor old Mr. Salter, whom all the with rising anger.
rest looked upon as a butt for goodAll eyes turned eagerly from boy to humored jokes. And then there was master and back again.
his ridiculous fancy for the boy Caxton. "Last time,” said Mr. Wilson loudly. Caxton too was a butt—the dunce of “Stand up!"
Standard V. He was big, heavyBrickell looked down, redder and looking boy, well over thirteen, plump sulkier than ever and made no move- and pasty-cheeked, with a slow, hesiment.
tating manner of speech. His arithMr. Wilson turned to a boy on the metic—the touchstone in an elemenfront row.
tary school-was incredibly bad, and "Culpepper," he said, "go to Mr. what seemed a rooted habit of inattenWorth and ask him if he'll be good tion made him an easy prey to any chance question. In contradiction to for the essay prizes offered by the Sophysical laws he rose by sheer weight, ciety for the Prevention of Cruelty to and his sums were marked wrong as a Animals, Mr. Worth admitted to himmatter of course. Mr. Payne had given self that the new member of his staff him up as hopeless, and his nickname had, in one respect, at any rate, shown in the class was “Barmy."
some discernment. For a little more that three weeks after Mr. Payne's departure, the boy
IV. had been in Mr. Wilson's class, and In other respects, however, the angel during the first fortnight the new mas- was not a success. At the Christmas ter had accepted the class estimate examinations, Standard III. made such and let Caxton severely alone. Then, a poor show that Mr. Worth felt a week before the holidays, he had set obliged to make an unfavorable entry as a subject for composition "How I in the report book, which he showed like to read a book," and amid the the culprit. dozens of dull, stiff, clumsy little es- “I very much dislike doing it,” he says that he hardly troubled to correct, said, “but just look at those arithmetic he had found one, not immaculate as to papers. They're too bad to pass spelling and grammar, but in style as over." different from the rest as a real artist's “Yes," answered the angel, with a sketch is from a beach photographer's pleasant smile, “they are careless little portrait. Eagerly he looked for the devils, aren't they? Let's hope they'll name and found it scrawled outside improve." “William Caxton." He turned back to Mr. Worth frowned. the composition. “There are some “We will,” he said with strong embooks," he read, "such as 'Ivanhoe' or phasis, “and in your interests as much ‘David Copperfield,' that when you lie as in theirs." on the floor in front of the fire and “Oh, of course," said the angel unread them, it seems as if they were abashed. talking to you like friends."
Then there was the musia. Mr. The next morning, Mr. Wilson called Payne, though not a great pianist, had Caxton up to his table and gave him a been a decided improvement, as an acbright new shilling.
companist, on his predecessor, so when “There," he said, that's for the first the school reopened in September Mr. really good piece of work I've seen Worth asked the new master if he since I came to Chignett Street."
would play the hymn-tune for the On such occasions the boys almost opening. invariably applauded. But this time “I'll try, if you like," answered the astonishment was so great that, ex- angel readily enough. "May I choose cept for the master's words and a the hymn?” mumbled "Thank you, Sir," the shil- He chose a long-metre hymn to the ling was given and taken in absolute Old Hundredth, which he played in fine silence. But from that day the boy style, with his eyes on Mr. Worth. always waited to walk home with the But the two following days he chose master, and, whenever a chance of- long metres again. and to each he fered in the playground or the park, played Old Hundredth. On the afterthey were sure to be found together. noon of the third day Mr. Worth And when, not long afterwards, Cax- asked some of the elder boys to stay ton, then bottom boy in the Fifth after school was over, in order to pracStandard, came out third in all London tise a few wand exercises for the
Prize-giving, which had been fixed ear
V. lier than usual.
"I wonder if Mr. Wilson could stop As time went on, the entries in the and play for us,” he added, looking report book of Standard III. became towards his assistant.
still more unfavorable. “The writing "Oh yes, certainly; I dare say I can is very bad and the arithmetic-except manage something in four time,” was in a few cases-really deplorable.” the cheerful answer.
"The teacher does not seem to get hold But when the word of command was of the class—the discipline leaves a given and the wands lifted, the piano great deal to be desired." "No imstruck up the Old Hundredth once provement in any respect. The work more, only, this time, played allegro. on the whole is very poor.” Such were The boys tittered, and Mr. Worth some of the entries which soon introfrowned. He walked across to the duced to the Inspectors Mr. Wilson's performer and spoke in a
low engaging personality. voice.
They found it even more puzzling "Is that the only tune you can play?" than engaging, an absolutely unfamilhe asked.
iar type. He welcomed them with a Mr. Wilson nodded. “It's the only smiling urbanity which somehow one I know," he answered.
seemed to put them in the wrong The headmaster pointed to a book. from the first. Without word
"There are a lot of marches in there,'' to which they could take excephe said; "can't you read music?” tion, he managed to convey the
"Not a note," replied the angel with impression that it they who undisturbed serenity. "I do 'it all by were new and remarkable types, awakear."
ening in him a keen and vivid interest. Six months later, when visits to the He listened to their criticisms, exswimming baths were being discussed, hortations, and warnings with a quiet Mr. Worth turned to the angel.
air of detachment, considering and "Let's see: you're a swimmer, aren't weighing, it seemed, their views, and you, Mr. Wilson?” he asked.
reserving his own judgment. Of nervMr. Wilson shook his head emphat- ousness, confusion, or apprehension ically.
there was not a trace, but a strong “Not a yard; not a stroke," he ans- though well-controlled sense of humor wered.
was always in evidence. "That's funny,” remarked Mr Worth, “Look here, Mr. Wilson," said Mr. looking puzzled. "It was only the other Turton, who was a new broom and day that I was talking it over with thought himself a vacuum cleaner at Miss Phipps. She said she was sure least, "this won't do at all." you'd lend a hand. She remembered And he pointed to the fatal entries. your telling the managers that you "They're not very encouraging, are knew how to keep your head out of the they?" answered the offender, with a water."
courteous smile. "Oh yes, that's right enough. I can “It's got to be altered,” the Inkeep my head out of the water."
spector declared. "Well, how do you manage it?" "Or where shall we be?" echoed the asked the headmaster a little impa- teacher. tiently.
"Oh, there's not much doubt about "By never going in," answered the that," answered Mr. Turton, smiling angel simply.
too, but grimly. “In one of the com
mittee-rooms on the first floor at the Embankment."
An expression of quick interest lit up the young man's face.
“That must be quite an experience,” he said. "Truth beats fiction any day. I've been told that those committees are a caricature of Dickens."
"As mad as a March hare," said the Inspector to the headmaster. never came across such a specimen before. Has he any points as a teacher?"
"Well," answered Mr. Worth, "he's not a fool, in some ways. If he's roused, he can come down on a boy pretty sharply. And a good many of the boys like him. On Fridays he generally reads to them for the last half-hour or so, and you can hear the laughing on the other side of the hall. There's no doubt of his popularity for that half-hour."
“What does he read to them?" asked the Inspector curiously.
“Why, that's as mad as the rest. His favorite literature seems to be The Trumpet you know, the Sunday paper. There's some man who writes sketches there, and Mr. Wilson seems to be a great admirer of them. Mr. Rose showed me one the other day, and it really was rather funny. I must say I should have thought they were over the boys' heads, but they seem to love them. Some of the sketches are about the schools. That may have put it into Wilson's head."
"Well, I've spoken pretty plainly to him. I told him he was heading straight for the Embankment.”
"What did he say?"
“Oh, he seemed to enjoy the prospect."
"No accounting for tastes," marked the headmaster.
reached there had been special visits by the Inspectors, and the managers had devoted an entire meeting to a discussion of the case. Now, the Teaching Staff Sub-committee had expressed a desire to interview Mr. A. W. Wilson, and to the same feast had been bidden the headmaster, and the Rev. Mr. Cobbe as a representative of the managers.
The appointed time was 12.10 p. m., and by 12 the head and his assistant were cooling their heels in the waitingroom. The difference in their demeanor was striking. Mr. Worth was evidently troubled. He fidgeted about, walked from door to window and back again, looked at the official literature on the table and then threw it down, and pulled out his watch half a dozen times. Mr. Wilson, on the other hand, showed not the slightest trace of discomposure. He sat down in the least uncomfortable chair, pulled out from his pocket a copy of the Daily Telegraph and read on with undisturbed serenity. At first there were two other occupants of the room, but after a while they went out. Mr. Worth came across to his subordinate.
“Look here, Wilson," he said, “they'll ask me about you, in there. I shall have to tell the truth, but I'll let you down as lightly as ever I can. I really am thoroughly upset. I'm sure you could do quite well if you made up your mind to. If you tell them so, I don't believe they'll be very hard on you. I dare say the Chairman will read you a lecture”
"Oh, don't worry about it," interrupted the angel, looking cherubic if not angelic. "I quite understand. You've been very kind, all rough. It's all experience too, isn't it? And so interesting!” he added as an afterthought, and to himself, for Mr. Worth, with an impatient shrug of his shoulders, had gone out into the corridor.
A minute or two afterwards, the liv.