The third-form girls were, to a man, peeping through the curtains of their classroom; Ethel had left her music in the drawing-room, and rushed downstairs to reclaim it the moment the door-bell rang; Kate suddenly felt it impossible to live without a clean handkerchief, and on her way upstairs waited round the corner of the hall until she could meet the visitors face to face; Flora peeped through the banisters, and snored so loudly in her excitement that she was in instant danger of discovery; and Pixie rushed like a whirlwind from the top of the house, and flung herself into Bridgie's arms.
On the other side of the hedge a batch of third-form girls were whispering, with choked laughter, a doggerel rhyme which was hard to say, and which meant something quite different did the tongue trip over a certain letter. Of two girls who were playing tennis in half-hearted fashion, the one next Laura said 'Oh, damn! every time she missed a ball.
We expect nothing, therefore, from their good-will; but we have a right to demand, as a matter of good taste, that, in criticizing our campaigns, they shall not wholly ignore their own military blunders, especially those so recent as to be fresh in the recollection of every third-form school-boy in the kingdom.
He turned page after page, looked back at the beginning, glanced at the end, then set himself deliberately to digest Florence's poor attempt from the first word to the last. He flung the paper from him with a gesture of despair. Had she done it to trick him? Positively the production was scarcely respectable. A third-form schoolgirl would have done better.
They were literally taking their lives in their hands, in all probability facing certain death; and yet they now sat chaffing and fighting like a crowd of third-form schoolboys, talking utter, silly nonsense, and making foolish jokes that would have shamed a Frenchman in his teens. Vaguely he wondered what fat, pompous de Batz would think of this discussion if he could overhear it.
"I never seem to grow accustomed to Mildred's fast serves." A race followed for the second class, which Irene Spencer, much cheered by her cousins, nearly succeeded in winning, though she was beaten at the last by Merle Hammond, who made a sudden and unexpected spurt. It was now the turn of the third-form girls. They were to run a handicap, and awaited particulars with much eagerness.
Of course it was a map of Ireland, Ireland being the map chosen by every map-drawing schoolboy who is free to choose. For a third-form boy it was considered a masterpiece. In the shading of mountains Cyril was already a prodigy. Never, it was said, had the Macgillycuddy Reeks been indicated by a member of that school with a more amazing subtle refinement than by the young Povey.
Now he had found himself forced to accept a third-form mastership in his old school, where it seemed that, if he was no longer a disciple, he was scarcely a prophet. But all this had only fanned his ambition.