Carefully Westby descended the ladder, mumbling all the time sentences of which the lingerers caught fragmentary scraps: “Horrible experience that of Allison’s—dreadful situation to have been in—so fortunate that I was at hand—the man who dares—reckless courage, ready resource—home again!” He dropped to the floor, and raising his hand to his forehead, saluted Irving.
In lowering it from the loft some one had trespassed on forbidden ground. Westby, Collingwood, Dennison, Scarborough, and half a dozen others were gathered, enjoying Allison’s ludicrous struggles. His plight was not painful, only absurd; and Irving himself could not at first keep back a smile. But he came forward and said,—
From the open window came the shrill scream of Miss Allison’s parrot. “What do you think of that?” it called over and over again. “Isn’t that a clever bird?” Rosie asked admiringly. “His name is Tony. I have lots of fun with him. Did you ever see a parrot that could talk, before?” “Oh, yes, we have several at Pride’s.” “Pride’s?” “Pride’s Crossing. That’s where we go summers.”
The door to Allison’s room was wide open; Irving stood and looked upon a pile of bodies heaped on the bed, with struggling arms and legs; even in that moment the foot of the iron bedstead collapsed, and the pile rolled off upon the floor. There were Morrill and Carroll and Westby and Dennison and at the bottom Allison—all looking very much rumpled, very red.
Irving felt that he had taken Allison’s place as the laughing-stock, the butt of the dormitory. In the evening they came to bid him good-night—not straggling up as they usually did, but in a delegation, expectant and amused. Westby and Collingwood were in the van when Irving opened his door in response to the knock.
With a sigh Irving went forth to quell it. He determined that whatever happened he would not this time lose his temper; he would try to be persuasive and yet firm. The noise was in Allison’s room; the unfortunate Allison was again being persecuted. Loud whoops of laughter and the sound of vigorous scuffling, of tumbling chairs and pounding feet, came to Irving’s ears.