P. G. Wodehouse: The Man Upstairs and Other Stories

13. OUT OF SCHOOL (continued)

Mr Blatherwick took the letters. There were two of them, and one he saw, with a rush of indignation, was in the handwriting of his brother-in-law. Mr Blatherwick's blood simmered. So the fellow thought he could borrow by post, did he? Not even trouble to pay a visit, eh? He tore the letter open, and the first thing he saw was a cheque for five pounds.

Mr Blatherwick was astounded. That a letter from his brother-in-law should not contain a request for money was surprising; that it should contain a cheque, even for five pounds, was miraculous.

He opened the second letter. It was short, but full of the finest, noblest sentiments; to wit, that the writer, Charles J. Pickersgill, having heard the school so highly spoken of by his friend, Mr Herbert Baxter, would be glad if Mr Blatherwick could take in his three sons, aged seven, nine, and eleven respectively, at the earliest convenient date.

Mr Blatherwick's first feeling was one of remorse that even in thought he should have been harsh to the golden-hearted Bertie. His next was one of elation.

Violet, meanwhile, stood patiently before him with the coffee. Mr Blatherwick helped himself. His eye fell on Violet.

Violet was a friendly, warm-hearted little thing. She saw that Mr Blatherwick had had good news; and, as the bearer of the letters which had contained it, she felt almost responsible. She smiled kindly up at Mr Blatherwick.

Mr Blatherwick's dreamy hazel eye rested pensively upon her. The major portion of his mind was far away in the future, dealing with visions of a school grown to colossal proportions, and patronized by millionaires. The section of it which still worked in the present was just large enough to enable him to understand that he felt kindly, and even almost grateful, to Violet. Unfortunately it was too small to make him see how wrong it was to kiss her in a vague, fatherly way across the coffee tray just as James Datchett walked into the room.

James paused. Mr Blatherwick coughed. Violet, absolutely unmoved, supplied James with coffee, and bustled out of the room.

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