THE DECORATION OF SAMMY
Psmith leaned against the mantelpiece in the senior day room at
Outwood's--since Mike's innings against Downing's the Lost Lambs had
been received as brothers by the center of disorder, so that even
Spiller was compelled to look on the hatchet as buried--and gave his
views on the events of the preceding night, or, rather, of that morning,
for it was nearer one than twelve when peace had once more fallen on
"Nothing that happens in this loony bin," said Psmith, "has power to
surprise me now. There was a time when I might have thought it a little
unusual to have to leave the house through a canvas chute at one o'clock
in the morning, but I suppose it's quite the regular thing here. Old
school tradition, etc. Men leave the school, and find that they've got
so accustomed to jumping out of windows that they look on it as a sort
of affectation to go out by the door. I suppose none of you merchants
can give me any idea when the next knockabout entertainment of this kind
is likely to take place?"
"I wonder who rang that bell!" said Stone. "Jolly sporting idea."
"I believe it was Downing himself. If it was, I hope he's satisfied."
Jellicoe, who was appearing in society supported by a stick, looked
meaningly at Mike, and giggled, receiving in answer a stony stare. Mike
had informed Jellicoe of the details of his interview with Mr. Barley at
the White Boar, and Jellicoe, after a momentary splutter of wrath
against the practical joker, was now in a particular lighthearted mood.
He hobbled about, giggling at nothing and at peace with all the world.
"It was a stirring scene," said Psmith. "The agility with which Comrade
Jellicoe boosted himself down the chute was a triumph of mind over
matter. He seemed to forget his ankle. It was the nearest thing to a
Boneless Acrobatic Wonder that I have ever seen."
"I was in a beastly funk, I can tell you."
"So was I," he said, "for a bit. Then, when I saw that it was all a rag,
I began to look about for ways of doing the thing really well. I emptied
about six jugs of water on a gang of kids under my window."
"I rushed into Downing's, and ragged some of the beds," said Robinson.
"It was an invigorating time," said Psmith. "A sort of pageant. I was
particularly struck with the way some of the bright lads caught hold of
the idea. There was no skimping. Some of the kids, to my certain
knowledge, went down the chute a dozen times. There's nothing like doing
a thing thoroughly. I saw them come down, rush upstairs, and be saved
again, time after time. The thing became chronic with them. I should say
Comrade Downing ought to be satisfied with the high state of efficiency
to which he has brought us. At any rate I hope--"
There was a sound of hurried footsteps outside the door, and Sharpe, a
member of the senior day room, burst excitedly in. He seemed amused.
"I say, have you chaps seen Sammy?"
"Seen who?" said Stone. "Sammy? Why?"
"You'll know in a second. He's just outside. Here, Sammy, Sammy, Sammy!
A bark and a patter of feet outside.
"Come on, Sammy. Good dog."
There was a moment's silence. Then a great yell of laughter burst forth.
Even Psmith's massive calm was shattered. As for Jellicoe, he sobbed
in a corner.
Sammy's beautiful white coat was almost entirely concealed by a thick
covering of bright-red paint. His head, with the exception of the ears,
was untouched, and his serious, friendly eyes seemed to emphasise the
weirdness of his appearance. He stood in the doorway, barking and
wagging his tail, plainly puzzled at his reception. He was a popular
dog, and was always well received when he visited any of the houses, but
he had never before met with enthusiasm like this.
"Good old Sammy!"
"What on earth's been happening to him?"
"Who did it?"
Sharpe, the introducer, had no views on the matter.
"I found him outside Downing's, with a crowd round him. Everybody seems
to have seen him. I wonder who on earth has gone and mucked him up
Mike was the first to show any sympathy for the maltreated animal.
"Poor old Sammy," he said, kneeling on the floor beside the victim, and
scratching him under the ear. "What a beastly shame! It'll take hours to
wash all that off him, and he'll hate it."
"It seems to me," said Psmith, regarding Sammy dispassionately through
his eyeglass, "that it's not a case for mere washing. They'll either
have to skin him bodily, or leave the thing to time. Time, the Great
Healer. In a year or two he'll fade to a delicate pink. I don't see why
you shouldn't have a pink bull terrier. It would lend a touch of
distinction to the place. Crowds would come in excursion trains to see
him. By charging a small fee you might make him self-supporting. I think
I'll suggest it to Comrade Downing."
"There'll be a row about this," said Stone.
"Rows are rather sport when you're not mixed up in them," said Robinson,
philosophically. "There'll be another if we don't start off for chapel
soon. It's a quarter to."
There was a general move. Mike was the last to leave the room. As he was
going, Jellicoe stopped him. Jellicoe was staying in that Sunday, owing
to his ankle.
"I say," said Jellicoe, "I just wanted to thank you again about that--"
"Oh, that's all right."
"No, but it really was awfully decent of you. You might have got into a
frightful row. Were you nearly caught?"
"It _was_ you who rang the bell, wasn't it?"
"Yes, it was. But for goodness' sake don't go gassing about it, or
somebody will get to hear who oughtn't to, and I shall be sacked."
"All right. But, I say, you _are_ a chap!"
"What's the matter now?"
"I mean about Sammy, you know. It's a jolly good score off old Downing.
He'll be frightfully sick."
"Sammy!" cried Mike. "My good man, you don't think I did that, do you?
What absolute rot! I never touched the poor brute."
"Oh, all right," said Jellicoe. "But I wasn't going to tell anyone, of
"What do you mean?"
"You _are_ a chap!" giggled Jellicoe.
Mike walked to chapel rather thoughtfully.