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\-EO-UAva short STORY.J Petticoat…


\-EO-UAva short STORY.J Petticoat in Footer. BY P. G. WODEHOUSE. My brother Bob sometimes saytf that if he dies young or gets white hair at the age of thirty it will be all my fault. He says I was bad at fifteen, worse at sixteen, while present day," ae they put it in the :t.ihies of celebrities, I am simply awfuL Phis is very ungrateful of him, because I always done my best to maJre him a credit to the family. He is just beginning Bis second year at Oxford, 90, naturally, he trajits repressing. Ever since I put my hair ip—and that is nea.rly a year ago now—I lave seen that I was the only person to do iiis. Father doesn't notice things. Beeides, Bob is always on his best behaviour with father. We had taken a jolly house in SkxEwae-street from October, and I was having the most perfect time. I'm afraid father was hating it. though. He said to me at dinner one night, "One thousand five hundred a.nd twenty-three vehicles passed the window of the cmb this 1D.(}rning, Joao." ■"How do you know?" I asked. "I counted them." "Father, what a waste of time!" "Why, what else ie there to do in London?" be said. The morning after this, when father had gone off to his club—to count ca.b8 again, I suppose—I got a letter from Bob. "Dear Kid" (he wrote),—"Jnsrt a line. Hope your're having a good time in London. I can't come down for Aunt Edith's ball on your birthday, as they wont, let me. I tried it on, bat the Dean was all against it. Look here, I want you to do eomething for me. The fact is I've had a lot of expenses lately, with my twemty-flrster and so on, and. I've had rather to run up a few fairly warm bills here and there, so I sbaJI probably have to fconoh the governor for a trifle over and above my allowance). What I waat you to do is this: keep an eye on him, a.nd if you notice thaft he's particularly bucked about any- thing 0118 day, wire to me first thing. Then 1'11 run down and strike while the iron's hot. See? Don't forget.—Yowrs ever, BOB. It was on the waning this letter came that Aant Edith gave her ball. She is the nicest of my aunts, and was taking me about to places. I had been looking forward to this daaoe for weeks. On this particular night everything was absolutely perfect. I looked very nice. I know one isn't supposed to be aware of this, but father and Aunt Edith both told me, as well as at least half my partners, so there was a mass of oorroborative evidence, as father says. Then the floor was lovely, and everybody seemed to dance well except one young man who had come from Cambridge for the ball. He danced very badly, but he did not seem to let it weigh upon his spirit at All. -He was extremely cheerful. "Would you prefer me." he asked, "to apologise every time I tread on your foot, or s. hall I let it mount up a.%d apologise col- lectively at the end?" I suggested that we might sit out. He had no obi ection. "As a matter of fact," he said "dancing's good enough in its way, but footer's my game. I said, "Best gankJ on earth, footer. I say, see that man who just, jxas&ed us with the girl in red?" I said I did. "That's Hook." "Yes; I remember was his name." "Best forward Oxford a had for seasons. See him dribble—my word! Halloa! there's the band starting again. May I take you-" At this moment Mr. T. B. Hook detached himself—with relief. I thought—from the lady in red, and, after looking about him, eaught sight of me and made his way in my direction. I admired the way he talked. He seemed to be on springs. He danced splendidly, but in silence. After making one remark to him-about the 11001' which caused him to look scared a-rwl crimson, I gave up the idea of oontversation, and began to think, in a dreamy* sort of way, in time to the music. It was not till quite the end of the dance that my great idea, came to me. The music stepped, and we went into the conservatory, ily partner's silence was more ing. His waltzing had disguised it. I said, "You are very fond of football, aren't Y0n?" He brightened up. "Oh, yes," he said. "Yes. Yes. He paused for a moment, then added, as t if he had an inspiration, "Yes." "Yes?" I said. "Oh, yes," he replied, brightly- "Yes." Our conversation was getting quite brisk and sparkling. I have a brother who's a very good player," I went on- Yes?" Yes. He's at Oxford, too. At Magdalen." "Yes?" Are you at Magdalen ?" Trinity." ) "Do you know my brother?" I saw he hadn't heaj-d my name when we had been introduced, so I added "EoTaney." I don't think I know a-ny Romney. But I don't know any Magdalen men." I thought you might, because he told me you were probably going to put him into the Oxford team, I do hope you will." Mr. Hook, who had been getting almost at home and at his eaee, I believe, suddenly looked pink and scared again. I heard him whisper, Good Lord!" "Plea.se put him in," I wemrt on, feeling like Bob's guardian angel. I'm sure he's much better than anybody else, and we ♦taould be so pleased." You would De so pleased," he repeated mechanieally Awfully pleased," I said. I couldn't tell you how grateful. And it would make euch a lot of difference to Bob. I tell you why, but it would." "Oh, it would?" eaid he. A tremendous lot. You won't forget the name, wiU you? Romney. I'll write it down for you on your programme. R. Romney, Magdalen College. You will put him in, won't you? I be too grateful for any- thing. And father-" "I think this is ours?" said a voice. My partner for the n.et dance was stand. ing before me. In the ball-room they were just beginning the Oxford boating-song. I beard Mr. Hook give a great sigh. It may have been sorrow, or it may have boon relief. I got a letter from Bob a fortnight later saying that he was still i.n the team, though he had not been playing very well. He him- self, he said, had rather fancied he would have been 'eft out after the Old Malvernians' match, and he wouldn't have complained, because he had played badly; but for some reason they stuck to him, and if he didn't do anything particularly awful in the next few matches, he said, he was practically a certainty for Queen's Club. "What's Queen's Club?" I asked father. where the 'Varsity match is played. We must go and see it if Bob gets his Blue. Or in any Bob did get his Blue. I felt quite a thrill when I thought of what Mr. Hook had suffered for my sake. Because, you see, there were lots of people who thought Bob wasn't good enough to he in the team. Father read me a bit out of a sporting paper in which the man who wrote it compared the two teams and said that "the weak spot Ln the Oxford side is undoubtedly Romney," and a. lot of horrid things about his not feeding his forwards properly. I said, I'm sure that isn't true. Bob's always giving dinners to people. In fact, that's the very reason why I stopped. "Why what?" said father. "Why he's so hard up, father, dear. He is, you know. It's because of his twenty-first birthday, he said." "I shouldn't wonder, my dear. I remember my own twenty-first birthday celebrations, and I don't suppose things have alltered much since my time. You must tell Bob to come to me if he's in difficulties. We mustn't be hard on a man who's playing in the 'Varsity ma.t0h, eh. my dear?" I said, I'll tell him." Bob stopped with us the night before the match. He hardly ate anything for dinner, and he wanted toast instead of bread. When I met him afterwards, though, he was look- ing very pleased with things and very friendly. "It's all right about those bills." he said. "The governor has given me a cheque. He's awfully bucked about my .Blue." "And it was all me. Bob," I cried. "It was «very bit me. If it hadn't been for me, yon wouldn't be playing to-morrow. Aren't you, grateful. Bob? You ought to be." "If you can spare a moment and aren t too busy talking rot." said Bob, "you might tell me what it's all about." Why, it was through me you've got your Blue." So I understand you to say. Mind ex- plaining? Don't if it would give you a headache. "Why, I met the Oxford captain at Aunt Edith's dance, and I said how anxious you were to get your Blue, and I begged him to put you in the team. And the very next Saturday you were tried for the first time." PETTICOAT IN FOOTER TWO Bob positively reeled, and would ha fallen had he not clutched a chair. I didn't know people ever did it out of novels. He looked horrible. His mouth was wide open and his face a sort of pale green. He Weated like a sheep. "Bob. don't!" I said. Wb&tever's the matter?" He recovered himself and laughed feebly. All right, kid," he said, that's one to you. yoa certainly drew me then. By gad! I thought, you meant it at ftrei. N My eyes opened wide. "But, Bob," I said, "I did." His jaw fell again. "You mean to tell me," he .@.aid, slowly, "that you actually asked- Oh, my aunt!" He leaned his forehead on the mantelpiece. "I shall have to go down," he moaned. "I can't stay up after this. Good Lord! the story may be all over the 'Varsity! Suppose somebody did get hold of it! I couldn't live it down." He raised his head. "Look here, Joan," he said; "if a single soul gets to hear of this I'll never speak to you again." And he stalked out of the room. I sat down and cried. At the match there was a lot of running about and kicking at first A little Cam- bridge man with light hatr got the ball after a bit, and simply tore down the touch- line tin he came to Bob, and Bob got in his way, and he kicked it to another man, only before he'd got it the other man who had been standing nearest to Bob at the beginning of the game took it away from him and sent it a long way up the field. "Well played, Bob!" said father. "That little man with the light hair is Stevens, the international. He's the moet dangerous man Cambridge have got. Bob will have his work cut out to stop him. Still, he did it that time all right." The ball was being kicked about quite near the Cambridge goal now, so I thought Oxford must be getting the best of it. The little man was standing about by himself looking on. if he were too important a person to mix himself up with the others. Bat suddenly one of the other Cambridge men sent the ball in his direction and he was off with it like a flash, and there seemed to be nobody there to stop him except Bob. wno was jumping about half-day down the field. All the Cambridge men raced down in the directto-n of the Oxford goal, and Bob met the little man as he had done before and made his pass to the other man. Then Bob rushed for this man, though there was another Oxford player rushing for him too, and the Cambridge man with the ball waited till they both were quite near him and then kicked it back to the international. "Oh, Romney, you rotter!" said one of the young men in front of me, m a voice of agony; and then there was a perfect howl of joy from half the crowd, for the inter- national, who hadn't anyone between him and the goalkeeper, who looked nervous, ran round and shot the ball through the net. Well, there's one of their goals," said the not quite so bright young man. "Ghap writing in the Chronicle this morning said Oxford would be lucky if they only had three scored against them. What a rotter Romney was to leave Stevens like that. Why on earth can't he stick to his man?" Father looked quite grey and haggard. If Bob's going to play the fool like that," he said, "he'd better have stayed at home "What didn't he do?" I asked. "He dxdn t stick to bis man. He gets up against an inter-na-ticna.1 forward, and the first thing he does is to leave him with a clear field. He must stick to Stevens." The whole air seemed full of Bob's wrong- doing. I suppose it was a sort of wireless telegraphy or something that made me do it. At any rate, I jumped up and shrieked in front of everybody, in a dead silence, too: "You must stick to Stevens, Bob!" Then there was a roar of laughter. I suppose it must have sounded funny, though I didn't mea.n it; and everybody who wanted Oxford to win took up the cry. Only after shouting, "You must 5tic-k to Stevens, Bob" once, they began, to shout, "Buck up, Oxford!" Bob turned ccaxlet-I was looking at him through father's fl,-Id-glu-ses-and I believe he was swearing tojaimself. Then the game began again. Bob told me afterwards, in a calmer moment, that my cry was the turning point. Up to then he had been fearfully ashamed o-f himself for letting the Cambridge man kick the ball away from him, but that now he felt that he must look so foolish that it was not worth while trying to realise it. He said he was like the girl in Shakespeare who smiled at gTief. He had parsed the limits of human feeling, The result was that he found himself suddenly icy cool, without nerves or anxiety or anything. Anyhow, the result was that Bob began to play really splendidly. I can't juclge foot- ball at all, of course, but even I could see how good he was. He slipped about as if be were made of indiarufc;xsr. He sprang at Stevens and took the ball away from him. He kept kicking the ball back to the Cam- bridge goal. In fact, he thoroughly redeemed himself, and if it hadn't been for the Cam- bridge goalkeeper Oxford would have scored any number of times. Just before half-time an Oxford man dad score, so that made thorn level. "Weil, Romnecr's done all right lately," said one of the young men. "If he plays like that all the time we mj?itt win. What on earth he was doing at the start I can't think." The sun was getting very low now, and Cambridge had to play facing it. It seemed to botihcr them a good deal, and Oxford kept 0:1 attacking, Bob coming up to help. At last, after they had been playing about twenty minutes, Stevens wont off again, and Bob had to race back and stop him. He just mana-g-J to kkri: the han ovir ih-c touch-line. One of the Cambridge men picked it up and threw it to another Cambridge man, but Bob suddenly da,roo between them, got the ball, and tore down the field. There were only two men in front of him besides the goalkeeper, and he wrig;Joo P't one of them, and father -ood up and waved his b a, r, and shouted instructions. Then the last Cambridge man bore down 011 him. It wa,s thrilling. They were 011 the point of charging into one another, when Bob kicked the ball to the let and ran to the right, and the Cambridge man shot past, and there wa-s Bob in front of the goal just getting ready to shoot. Then the ball whizzed into the net, and all over the ground you could see hate Elying into the air and sticks waving and a great roar went up from everywhere. It sounded like guns. "All tie same," said the bright brown young man, "he ought to have passed." Nothing more was scored, so Oxford just won. The end was rather funny, because I know yen are wondering what I said to Mr. Hook and wha.t he said to me. and what Bob did. But it wasn't a. bit like what I had expected. When I came down to the drawing-room after dresfdng for dinner Bob and the captain were standing talking by the fire. 1 d.. I think you have met my sister already," said Bob, dismally. "I don't think I've had the pleasure, murmured the other man. Bob turned to me. I thought you said you met Watson at Aunt Edith's ball. So you were palling my Kg after I didn't. I wasn't. I said I met the cap- tain of the Oxford football team. "Well that's Watson." "Are you oaptain, really?" I asked. I've al'.v'tys been told so." "Then," I said, "I think it's my duty to tell you that there is a man calied Hook— T. B. Hook-who goes a-bo-ut pretending he's captain. Hook of Oriel? Rather ishy man? Doesn't talk much ?" Yee." Oh, he's captain of the Oxford Rugger team, you see. I'm captain of the Soocer," said Mr. Watson. "So it was Hook you asked?" said Bob. "Thank Heaven. You haven't ruined my career, a.fter all. Though I admit," he added, kindly, "you did what you could."

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