Scylla and Charybdis

by Rudyard Kipling


(we have included the text of this incomplete and previously unpublished story here so that you can read it alongside the other ‘Stalky’ tales. In addition to our notes here there is a full acount of the story and its discovery in Kipling Journal 309 for March 2004)


page 1 of 11


They strolled across the wind, shoulders touching, hands in pockets,
caps driven down on their noses and coat-collars turned up against
the fine rain that was sweeping over the Burrows. Underfoot, the salty,
sheep-bitten turf squelched at every step. Overhead smoking vapours
of the Atlantic drove low in pearly-grey wreaths. Out of the mist to
windward, beyond the grey loom of the pebble-ridge came an unceas-
ing roar of the sea rising and falling in rollers two miles long. To
leeward a few stray cattle and donkeys showed through the haze.
Beyond—blotted out—lay Appledore and the mudflats and sandbanks
of the Pool where the Taw and the Torridge join.

In front of them, veiled with the rest, lay the sea of bent-crowned
bunkers—hillock on hillock of sand, miniature ravines, wadys and
nullahs that fill the far corner of the great triangle of the Burrows. A
spliced and rickety driver, an ancient cleek and a putter that had lost
half its face showed why the boys had sought that bleak waste. One
played golf in the Easter term, when one was not being fagged as a
‘caddy’ by a senior; and whether one liked golf or loathed it the
bunkers were always a city of refuge for small boys.

‘Come on!’ said the tallest of the three, producing a new and almost
speckless gutty. The boys lived very largely on lost balls retrieved
among the bents by sharp eyes. ‘We’ll play from Four to Seven and
see if we can get over Charybdis this time.’

He was a child of remarkably cheerful countenance with light hazel
eyes and a singularly elastic step. Trouser hem and coat sleeve showed
he was growing fast.

‘Beetle’s lost his again. Oh come on, Beetle!’ This was a bony and
sallow youth, with a prominent nose and a mouth seldom shut;
black-haired, black-lashed, with a distinct Irish accent.

The third boy, fat and unhandy, rubbed the wet from his spectacles
with a grimy handkerchief, dropped his putter, recovered it, felt
through his pockets and raised his hand suddenly to his head.

‘I put it in my cap, I remember now. But it isn’t there!’

‘Serves you right. You’re so beastly careless. Well now you’ll have
to caddy for Turkey and me,’ said the hazel-eyed one.

‘That’s not fair Corkran.’

‘Shut up. It’s two to one,’ said the sallow boy. ‘Come on!’

Beetle replaced his hands in his pockets, putter under armpit, grunted,
and set out for No.4 green. He had consorted with these two since
his first term—a year ago when they were almost as wretched and
forlorn as himself. Corkran of the dancing eyes had decreed it, with
McTurk seated upon a play-box, down in the lavatory, after they had
been bullied all one solid afternoon by Fairburn and Cobby Adams.
They had invented that famous law of two to one, which settled all
questions. So far, Beetle had been the victim but if he could ever win
over Corkran or McTurk to his views then it would be two to one
against McTurk or Corkran. That day had not yet come but Beetle lived
in hope. A year in a boy’s life is almost all eternity and Beetle never
contemplated independent action of any kind. Together they had griz-
zled, homesick and miserable; together they had written letters to their
people praying to be taken away from ‘this beastly place’; together they
had been flung into the deep end of the baths to teach them how to
swim; together they had cooked sparrows over the gas on a nib; togeth-
er they had made sloe-jam, kept silk-worms, skinned small vermin and
bullied boys smaller than themselves. Together they discussed life: its
difficulties—as ut with the subjunctive and the protean genders of
Gaul; its ambushes: as Fairburn and Cobby; its defeats: gatings,
black-marks and imposition; its delights: as tuck and a casual post-
office order from a relative; and its successes: a warm place at the
formroom fire and little comforts and shortcuts thought out by their
united minds. Small boys of twelve, in the later seventies, at a school
designed to pass boys into the Army had to make their own life much
as the Red Indian makes his.

Ordinary warfare with their fellows they recognised as fair; but a
recent invasion of the broad links by men—grown men in red-coats,
troubled them greatly. Golf had not then become fashionable and the
school which had learned the game viva voce at the haft of a broken
club, believed, with all the wrongheadedness of young animals, that the
links were theirs. Men whom they knew by sight—old[?] men in work-
manlike tweeds could play on them of course; but this steady
immigration of red-coated strangers they considered an outrage. The
matter had been very fully discussed in the formrooms.

‘There’s another—by gum!’ said Corkran when they reached No.
Four green. ‘You know they brought a whole waggonnette full of ’em
to “Rowena” last week, all red coats too.’

‘Well, they can’t interfere with us.’ McTurk turned his back
on the red blob in the mist and addressed the ball. Some one most
impolitely cried ‘Hi!’ which is no form of salutation on the links.

‘Go on, Turkey,’ said Corkran ‘It’s only a fresh cad of some kind.’

An elderly gentleman encased in a fearful combination of heather-
mixture stockings, white spats, orange boots, and elephants’-end
knickerbockers (they could have forgiven everything except the red
coat) strode towards them crying ‘What are you doing on the links. We
can’t have little boys here.’

A caddy of their acquaintance panted behind with an enormous can-
vas and leather club-bag, as vilely new as the yellow boots. Now it was
their faith—hammered into them by their elders—that a man who
needed more than driver, cleek and putter under any circumstances was
an ass.

McTurk drove off with a clear clean smack, putting all the wriggle
of him into the drive.

‘Them’s Collegers,’ the caddy explained grinning.

‘I don’t care who they are. I didn’t come down here all the way
from London—all the way from London—to find the links used by little
boys. I shall complain to the Secretary. I shall certainly complain to
the Secretary! Puts me off my stroke. Puts me off my stroke entirely.’

page 2

Corkran followed McTurk’s lead, in silence and they drew off

‘Hi! Hi! Hi! You boy with the spectacles. Can’t you answer me?’

‘What a howlin’ bargee!’ said Beetle hunching one shoulder.
‘That’s what comes of lettin’ all these London cads on to the links.’

They heard the unmistakeable snarl of a digging driver shot behind
them and the ball came trundling by at a rate of four miles an hour.

‘Put back your turf,’ McTurk called over his shoulder.

‘Put that clod back, Dicky,’ Stalky cried.

‘Don’t cut up the green!’ Beetle shouted and they went on into the

‘They’m Collegers, Sir,’ was Dicky Yeo’s explanation as the old
gentleman looked ruefully at the scarred turf.

‘Don’t know how I came to do it. ‘Pon my word I don’t. They put
me off my stroke the young devils. Links given up to a parcel of boys—
larking all over the place—taking no notice when they’re spoken to.
Outrageous, I think.’

His second drive, and it was a good lie too, repeated the first; and
was followed by a commination service so rich, so full, so varied that
the delighted boys to whom it carried down wind decided at once to
abandon their own game and wait developments.

‘If he curses like that on the turf, what will he say when he gets into
Charybdis. He’s bound to be bunkered there. He can’t play one little
bit’ said Corkran.

‘I vote we go over to Charybdis and lie up in our cave and listen,’
said McTurk.

‘Oh, it will be so beastly wet any how,’ said Beetle. ‘Much better
go back to Coll.’

‘And have Fairburn bully us till tea? Not much. It’s two to one
Beetle. Come on.’

Now that terrible bunker Charybdis was in those days—but sands
shift almost as quickly as the years—a deep and ragged crater midway
between the sixth and seventh holes about the distance of an average
drive. With luck and direction you may land on some twenty feet of
sweet short turf that separate its right flank from the low, broken
hillocks of pimply Scylla but in five cases out of seven you, trusting
to drive over it, drop neatly into the crater the walls of which are sand
and the bottom of which is high, rank bents. The boys had scraped out
a sort of shallow cave under an overhanging lip of bent-bound sand—
such a shelter as sheep stamp out against the wind. Here, for there was
a fringe of bents at the mouth of it, they could just squeeze in and
entirely unseen, command a full view of the crater from south to north.
Here they had heard some very curious and interesting language—such
words as little boys are not supposed to know the meaning of—had
watched the war-dances of their elders when virtuous heads of families
broke niblicks across their knees and called Heaven and Earth and the
caddy to witness how they had kept their tempers. Beetle called
Charybdis ‘Hell’ for these reasons.

Here then they repaired, scuttling low like young partridges through
the mist and were hardly in position ere a ball came booming and
whirring over the lip and buried itself in the bents of the bottom.
As a drive it was a success that carried its own penalty.

‘By gum!’ said Beetle, squirming joyously; for words came after
the ball: words and the sound of heavy feet.

‘I drove over it. I saw it go over.’

‘Yes Sir. I’ll go look forward for her. She’ll be t’other side bunker;
but may be yeou’d better take a look in the bunker too,’ said Dicky Yeo.

They heard the old gentleman climbing the steep side behind them.
He passed within a few feet of the shelter, and slid heavily into the gulf.

‘He’ll never find it,’ whispered Corkran.

‘Looks like a bear at the Zoo—doesn’t he!’ Beetle giggled. ‘By
Jove! He’s cursin’ us still. What a shockin’ bad temper.’

‘Found un?’ This from Dicky Yeo without.

‘ No. Yes. And a good lie too,’ was the answer.

‘Go-olly. Did you see that?’ said Corkran. ‘He took a new ball out
of his pocket.’

‘And shoved it on down on a bit of hard,’ said McTurk.

Beetle wiped his spectacles furiously. The old gentleman had cho-
sen a very good lie; but it cost him two chops with a niblick and one
with a lofting iron ere he was free.

Swiftly Corkran hurried to the bottom of the crater and recov-
ered the original ball. ‘Look at it,’ said he. ‘That isn’t one of our
gutties. Pascall, St Andrews stamped in black. Besides it’s cut differ-
ently. I knew that by the hum it made. Bags 1!’

‘What a beastly old cheat,’ said McTurk.

‘Oh it was only practice—not a game,’ said Beetle.

‘Well if he’d do that at practice what wouldn’t he do in a match,’
said Corkran.

‘Dunno. You can crib in a qualifying exam. You mustn’t in a com-
petitive,’ said Beetle whose morals so far were simple and

‘Yes; but this isn’t an exam. This is serious,’ said Corkran.

‘Oh no. It only shows he’s a cad. All chaps in red coats are,’ said
McTurk. ‘Listen! Didn’t you hear a sally? Over by the Frying-pan?’

page 3

It was the fashion of that [senior (sic)] among seniors to go
rabbit-shooting with saloon pistols and when game failed what more
natural than that they should devise wars and ambushes, using dust shot
instead of bulleted breech caps and, more or less, keeping a crooked
left arm before their eyes.

‘It’s Wigram and that lot,’ said Beetle. ‘They’ll plug at us—for
fun. Dust shot hurts too.’

‘ ‘Tisn’t as bad as salt,’ said McTurk absently rubbing his calf.
Keepers misunderstand boys so cruelly sometimes.

‘Huh!’ Stalky slapped his pocket. ‘I’d back a tweaker against a
sally any day.’

Indeed a well constructed catapult—low in the nick, long in the
grip and supple-pouched, is in the hands of an expert five times more
deadly than any ironmongery that ever came out of Belgium. The
Frying-pan was another crater bunker far to the left of the links—the
recognised stamping ground of the bold and the bad. A continuous
ripple of pops came to their ears, as they wormed through the bents.
Seniors do not like to be spied upon by juniors: least of all when their
diversions are such that they think it best to turn their caps inside out.
The mist, thicker than ever, saved the three from discovery. They
crawled to the edge of the Frying-pan and looked down upon a wholly
satisfactory war—five seniors a side: each one laid at length behind
such cover as he could find. The least movement drew fire from an
unseen enemy. It was the end of a hotly contested campaign on bush
models in which caps and trouser legs had suffered.

‘Plaistow. I’m running out of ammunition,’ a voice whispered.

‘Come over to me, then,’ said Plaistow.

‘Don’t you move Gobby.’ This was Ingram across the bunker.
‘I’ll plug you if you do!’

‘Look out! It’s a ruse—to put us off. Behind you Ingram! Behind

‘Ouch!’ Ingram outflanked had been peppered on the calf at five
yards and leaped to his feet.

Plaistow and Gobby, their coats over their heads for protection,
wheeled into the open and fired left and right driving Ingram’s forces
(the boys had just sense enough not to rush in on dust shot) up the sides
of the bunker, when these descended clad in heather-mixture stockings,
white spats and the accursed blood red coat. Apropos of nothing save
the smell of gunpowder for he had not been hit, he called them a par-
cel of young blackguards. That is to say he addressed the fore part of
the sentence to the hind part of Ingram fleeing over the ridge. The rest
spent itself on the empty bunker all littered with empty cartridges. One
does not lead ‘sally fights’ without knowing something of cover.

‘Young devils firing guns at each other. Where the deuce did my
ball go to?’ He blew his nose wrathfully. ‘And they call this golf in
southern England!’

‘Are you deluding yourself into the notion that you are playing golf
Sir?’ The bland carefully articulated English voice out of the mist
belonged to Plaistow. ‘You’re miles out of your line, Sir.’
‘Am I! Heh? Am I? What’s that got to do with you Sir?’
‘Oh nothing. Only we hate a foozler. Don’t we?’
‘I say you must have pulled atrociously, your last drive.’ That was
Ingram, the school’s golf-champion. The old gentleman literally pawed
the sand in his wrath; but he was less lucky than the bull of the arena
in that he could not see his enemies.

‘Well! Hurry up. Find your ball. Don’t stay here all night.’
‘Go back to the pavilion and get a plan of the links from the
Secretary. It’s threepence.’

‘I don’t know who you are. But let me tell you you’re no gentle-
man.’ He was trying to face all ways at once as voice after voice stung

‘Bluggins—Bluggins—keep your hair on,’ warningly and [regret-
fully?]. The unholy christening was received with joy.

‘Why Bluggins is that you, old man? I swear we didn’t know you
in that coat.’

‘Don’t go Bluggins. You’re just gettin’ amusin’!’
‘Goodbye, Bluggins. Sorry we can’t help you to find your ball.’
The boys drew off in silence but to the almost unbearable delight of
the three watchers, the old gentleman explained to the mist that he was
a major and several other things: that he had golfed on all the links of
the North but never in his life had been treated after this fashion. Then
he climbed out in their direction.

‘We’d better go I think,’ said Beetle. ‘He’s pretty average wrathy.’
‘Sit tight. We haven’t done anything,’ said Stalky. This made no
particular difference for the old gentleman found the whipping boys his
soul needed.

‘Oh you’re the young devils,’ he began and, with no more explana-
tion, soundly boxed Beetle’s ears. ‘I’ll teach you to insult people on the
links. What—what d’you mean?’ He had reason to ask because he
found himself covered by two catapults, each drawn to the hand. Beetle
wriggled free and hastened to bring up his artillery.

The ms of the revised version finishes here at the end of the third page
of foolscap without any formal indication of being abandoned at this
point. We continue with the first draft.

SCYLLA AND CHARYBDIS. – FIRST DRAFT (or scroll to * * * * * to continue tale)

They strolled down wind, shoulders touching, hands in pockets,
caps driven down over noses and coat collars turned up against the fine
rain that was sweeping across the burrows. Underfoot the salty sheep-
bitten turf squelched at each step; and overhead the smoking vapours
from the Atlantic drove low in pearly grey wreaths. Out of the mist to
windward, beyond the grey line of the pebble-ridge, came the unceas-
ing roar of the sea, rising and falling in mile long rollers. To leeward a
few stray cattle and donkeys showed through the haze of the flats.
Beyond the [grey?] blotted out surf lay Appledore and the mud flats
and sand banks of the Pool where the Taw and the Torridge meet.

page 4

In front of them, mist veiled with the rest, lay a sea of bent-crowned
bunkers—hillock on hillock, miniature ravines, wadys and nullahs that
fill the far corner of the great triangle of the burrows. A spliced and
ricketty [sic] cleek, a putter and a cut down driver lacking half its face
showed why the boys [had] sought that bleak waste. One played Golf
in the Easter term. That was the custom—unless one were fagging for
a senior as caddy; and whether one liked golf or loathed it, the bunkers
were ever a city of refuge from persecution.

The tallest of the three began to search through many pockets,
removing at last an almost black gutta-percha. He was a boy of remark-
ably cheery countenance, with twinkling hazel eyes and a singularly
light step. Trouser hem and coat sleeve showed he was growing rapid-
ly. The owner of the cleek followed his example but clumsily. This was
a sallow and bony child, black-eyebrowed, black-lashed, with a promi-
nent nose; a mouth generally half open and a fairly developed Irish

‘Come on Beetle! Where’s yours?’

The boy with the putter dropped it—he was fat and unhandy—
rubbed the wet off his spectacles with a grimy handkerchief and began
his search.

‘Come on! We can’t wait all night. You had it when we left
College,’ said the driver.

‘You put it in your cap, you fool,’ drawled the Irishman.

‘So I did’ said Beetle raising his hat. ‘But—but it isn’t here now.
I must have dropped it.’

‘Serves you right. You’re so beastly careless. Well, you’ll have to
caddy for Turkey and me.’

‘Catch hold!’ said McTurk flinging the cleek at him; Beetle tucked
it under his arm with the putter in silence. ‘Come on Corkey.’

He had consorted with these two since his first term—a year ago
when they were almost as wretched as himself. Corkran of the light eyes
had decided with McTurk, in a boxroom, sitting upon a play-box after
they had been bullied all one solid hour by Fairburn; and Beetle had
taken his orders with meekness and joy. If Corkran and McTurk agreed
upon a matter who was he to object. Was it not two to one; and perfect-
ly fair. If he could ever win McTurk or Stalky to his views it would be
two to one against Stalky or McTurk. That joyful day had not yet come
but Beetle lived in hope. Together they had cooked sparrows over the
gas on rusty nibs; together they had made sloe jam; together they had
been flung into the deep end of the baths to teach them how to swim;
together they had dared to insult a senior and together they had waged
war against him when he came to slay them. Together they had grizzled,
sore and homesick, down in the lavatories, cheering one another with
the thought that they would write home to their parents and be taken
away from this beastly place; together they had striven to assist each
other with the mysteries of ut with the subjunctive and the genders of
Gaul. A year in a boy’s life is very long. Looking back mistily as
children do, they could not remember when they were unallied.

Corkran drove off with a clean full smack, putting all the wriggle of
him into the unhandy driver. They would play from the fourth to the
seventh hole and see if this time they could clear Charybdis—that big
bunker whose other name was Hell. The links have been altered since
many times and golf is a game for men, with a literature of its own; but
in those far days men were few on the links; red coats practically
unknown; and the School, who learned golf at the haft of a broken
cleek, regarded them as interlopers.

McTurk was addressing himself to the ball when some one most
impolitely called ‘Hi!’ which is no form of address on the links.

An elderly gentleman, evidently a stranger, clad in a blood-red coat
and encased in a fearful combination of ribbed heather-mixture, white
spats, and elephant’s behind-end knickerbockers, strode towards them
angrily: ‘What are you doing on the links? We don’t want little boys
here.’ A caddy of their acquaintance panted up behind him, with a
huge—and to the boys new—tanned canvas and leather bag.

‘Go on Turkey,’ said Corkran. It was not etiquette to notice a
player. McTurk drove off as cleanly as Stalky but with a more cramped

‘They’m Collegers,’ the caddy explained with a grin.

‘I don’t care who they are. I didn’t come down here all the way
from London to—all the way from London to find the links covered by
little boys. I shall complain to the Secretary. I shall certainly complain
to the Secretary. Put me off my stroke—put me off my stroke entirely.’

‘Hi! You caddy!’ This was to Beetle who was following the
others. He did not answer. ‘You boy, with the spectacles. Can’t you
answer me!’

‘Oh play golf and don’t jaw,’ snapped McTurk.

‘Go back to London,’ said Stalky. ‘The links don’t belong to you.’

‘We’ve been golfin’ here for years,’ said Beetle; and turned on his
heel, the gentleman pursuing them with language.

‘Too beastly,’ said McTurk. ‘Why they bring down a [sic] whole
wagonnette-fuls of men from the hotel to play [usually?]. I counted one
of ’em.’

‘Oh he’s a cad o’ some kind. Never mind. Where did my ball land,
Beetle? Oh it’s no good asking you.’

‘We’re right in the middle of the double-drive hole,’ said McTurk.
‘We ought to be able to find another pretty soon.’ The boys lived very
largely on lost balls. He hunted in a patch of bents. ‘Here’s one. Brand
new—lost first drive. Look where the ass topped it.’ The white paint
was scarred with the telltale crescent on the top. Otherwise it was virgin.

‘Phwit!’ A ball dropped with a whirr into a thick bed of bents.

‘That’s old gaiters,’ said Corkran. ‘He must have pulled about a
mile to the left. He’ll never find it.’

page 5

‘Let him sweat then’ said Beetle, a few yards further on. ‘Here’s
your ball, Turkey, and a good lie too. Driver?’

‘Not much. I don’t want to fetch up in the Kafoozalum (a small
bunker about fifty yards away). I’m goin’ to loft her over. Topped it.

The ball, hugging the turf, danced up to the top side of the bunker
and skipped over the edge. Kafoozalum like Charybdis was a crater.

‘Have you seen my ball? I say, have you seen my ball!’ This to [sic:
from?] the mist behind them.

‘Let him hunt. We ain’t his caddies,’ said McTurk. ‘Look here. It’s
rather rot havin’ this cad yellin’ at us. Let’s stop and go to Charybdis
and see him come along. You can hear him cursin’ his caddie.’

‘Oh that’s Dicky Yeo. Dicky is an awful little brute. He can’t
mark a ball a little bit.’

‘Come on to Charybdis. We can get under the lip of it there—where
we made the cave. It’ll be drier,’ said Beetle.

They turned through the dunes by short cuts known to themselves
and the sheep; scaled the forty-foot slope of mighty Charybdis; and
curled up under an overhanging lip of bent-bound sand. It was one of
their retreats on a hot day, and they had scraped away a very cosy, if
cramped, little lair. Bents fringed the front of it so that, once laid down,
they could command a full view of the crater, themselves practically

‘How he swears!’ said Stalky after a pause, turning on his stomach,
his chin between his hands.

‘Wonder if he’spracticin’ orplayin’,’ said McTurk. ‘He’s whackin’
away like—like a woodpecker. Bet you he gets badly bunkered here.’

‘Here he comes!’

A ball curled over the edge of the crater; dropped on the only patch
[of?] ground that was not hardened by the rain, and buried itself.

‘He’ll have to chop it up with a niblick—ten whacks, at least—for

‘Oh I cleared that. I saw it go over,’ they heard him say.

‘Golly, what a liar!’

‘I’ll go forward then. You’d better take a look inside. He’m a bad
bunker Sir.’

The old gentleman stumbled up. It was a mere accident that he did
not step on the lip of sand and bury all three boys—slid down into the
bowl of Charybdis and, unspeakable joy to the watchers, brought down
enough sand to thoroughly bury the ball.

‘Mark!’ whispered Corkran to McTurk. Beetle wiped his spectacles
[excitedly?] and stared with all his eyes.

The old gentleman looked, and looked again, using language that
ought to have brought a blush to the cheek of youth. But at twelve one
does not blush much.

‘Found it Sir?’ cried Dicky without.

‘No—not yet. Oh yes! Here it is. And a good lie too.’

‘Whew!’ said Corkran. ‘Did he drop it down his trouser leg?’

‘No. Took it [bang] out of his pocket, new ball. Filthy cheat! Golly.
What would he do in a match if he did this while he was practising?’

‘I didn’t see—I didn’t see’ said Beetle.

‘Well we did. Wait till he gets out an’ we’ll collar the ball.’

Ten chops and a swipe carried the old gentleman past his hazard[?].
They crept out, unearthed the lost ball, sorely hacked and cut, and were
ready to go, when another ball tumbled between them!

‘They’re all dropping into Charybdis today,’ said Corkran. ‘Wind
shifted I suppose.’

Bury it,’ said Beetle ‘and see what this chap’ll do.’
Promptly Corkran drove it under with his heel, scooped the sand
over it, and they returned to their lair.

Solitude and secrecy are terrible solvents of morality. It was another old
gentleman; with his caddy who acted as Dicky Yeo had done. But this play-
er searched longer than the first it is true; but at the end—he found the ball.

‘Two to us,’ said Corkran, digging up the second cache. ‘Well!’

‘My winkie,’ said Beetle. ‘It’s too jolly awful. We mustn’t play on
their beastly links either.’

‘Well, you know, the caddies don’t like us. Lost balls are their
perk. ‘That’s what they think. We find ’em though. Three today.’

‘Hark! Didn’t you hear a sally?’

It was the fashion of that term among the seniors to go rabbit shoot-
ing with saloon pistols. When game was scarce what more natural than
that they should arrange war-parties among themselves using dust caps
instead of bulleted breech caps.

‘It’s out over by the Frying-pan,’ said McTurk. ‘Let’s go and watch

‘Then they’ll plug at us for fun. Dust shot hurts, too.’

‘Huh!’ Stalky slapped his pocket. ‘I’d back a tweaker against a sally
any day.’

In truth, a well constructed catapult, long in the grip, low in the
nick, with thin elastic and a supple pouch is more deadly than any iron-
mongery that came out of Belgium. They moved cautiously in the
direction of firing. Seniors did not like being spied upon especially
when their play was such as to demand turning their caps.

page 6

Plaistow of the Lower Fifth was at war with Wigram [sic], four
boys a side and the battle, a series of Indian surprises, raged merrily in
the mist. The boys were careful to keep their elbows before their eyes
and fire over a ducking arm. If they caught an enemy in the rear the
rules allowed them to fire point blank at his legs. The three small boys
nestled in a hollow at the top of the Frying-pan and looked down into
the long, low bunker squeaking with delight. Ingram had caught
Plaistow on a tightly stretched trouser and the hollow sand walls rang
to his outcries.

But Adams—Cobby Adams who afterwards became a naturalist of
renown, crawled upon his belly and outflanked Ingram who was gloat-
ing over the victory, and peppered him on the calf at ten yards—a
beautiful shot. The engagement became general—boy after boy stalk-
ing and being stalked in his turn. And the deepening mist lent itself well
to the concealed game.

Into the riot of a sudden dropped an elderly gentleman with heather-
mixture stockings, white spats and the blood red coat which to a rightly
constructed Colleger of those days was rather worse than a red rag to a bull.

Apropos of nothing in particular except the smell of gunpowder, for
he had not been hit, he called them ‘Young scoundrels.’ That is to say
he addressed the words to as much of Ingram as had not wriggled into
cover. The last of the sentence spent itself on the empty bunker littered
with cartridge cases. One does not practice sally-wars without knowing
how to utilize cover.

‘A parcel of scamps firing guns at each other. I shall complain to the
Secretary. I shall certainly complain to the Secretary,’ and he blew his
nose angrily. ‘They call this golf in Southern England.’

‘Are you deluding yourself with the notion you’ve been playing
golf, Sir?’ That was from Plaistow, [from the mist?] at the far end of
the Frying-pan. ‘You’re miles out of your line, Sir.’

‘Am I Heh? Am I? Don’t shout at me from cover, Sir, in that way.’

‘I say, you must have pulled shockin’ that last drive of yours.’
Ingram [Wigram?] was the School’s golf champion and what his
[youthful] eye and head did not know of the links was not worth know-
ing. ‘You pulled Sir. Don’t tell me. You pulled atrociously.’

‘Mi—iles out of your line. Pon my soul. You ought to have a dog
and a lantern, Sir.’

‘Golly, what a lark,’ said Corkran squirming in his shelter.

The old gentleman literally pawed the sand as a bull in the arena but
he was less lucky than the animal in that he could not see his

‘Go back to the pavilion and get a plan of the links from the
Secretary. It’s 3d.’

‘I—I don’t know who you are—but let me tell you this. You’re no

‘Bluggins! Bluggins! Keep your hair on.’

‘He’m quite raight. Us belongs to Bidevoor grammar schule, us do.

‘Bluggins, you’ve sold us enough cheese—yes [?] an’ sassingers
to know that.’

‘Why Bluggins! Is that you? How’s the shop getting on Bluggins?’

‘Shut up. His name’s Smith. Go home, Smith. You’re drunk.’ With
this last shot, Ingram and Plaistow [withheld?] their fire and withdrew
in silence. To the almost unbearable delight of the three small boys, the
old gentleman explained to the mist, that he was a Colonel and several
other things; that he had golfed on every links in the North; but he had
never in all his experience met with such treatment.

At this point, but not before, Dick Yeo, bursting with vulgar
joy wandered up. No, Dicky Yeo did not know for the life of him who
those rude persons might be. Did they say they belonged to Bideford
Grammar School? Then very possibly they might so belong. Meantime
would Colonel Martin continue the game.

‘Not today. Not today. Put me off my stroke altogether. Little boys
on the green—very ill mannered little boys—and a parcel of howling
barbarians with guns, afterwards. Why they as [much?] as told me I
couldn’t play the game.’

The Colonel began to climb out of the bunker heading directly for
the boys lair. Beetle made a quick motion.

‘We’re all right,’ said Corkran. ‘He can’t do anything to us.’

Herein lay the mistake, for the Colonel found in them the whipping
boys that his soul needed.

‘You here! You here! Didn’t I tell you to leave the links at once?
What on earth d’you mean by disobeying orders in this way? Heh?’ He
drew his thick eyebrows together and breathed heavily through his

‘Who are you?’ said McTurk in a note of deep and cold disgust.
‘You’ve bothered us once this afternoon already. Go away!’

‘Who am I! Bothered you once, have I. I’m to go away, am I?

What’s the world coming to. Be off at once; or I shall be angry. I shall
be seriously angry.’

‘What are we doing, please? This is Appledore burroughs [sic].
Even if you were a pot-walloper—’

‘Heh! What?’ The word was new to the Colonel.

‘Pot-walloper—a man who is allowed to graze cattle on the bur-
roughs [sic]. Those cattle.’ McTurk pointed into the mist.

‘—But confound you, I don’t graze cattle, Sir.’

page 7

‘Well I say even if you did, you couldn’t order us about in this way.
You ought to know that?’

‘Oh come on. No good having a row,’ said Beetle.

‘No I’m not coming,’ said McTurk who as the son of an Irish
Baronet held strong views even in his youth on landed property.
‘We’ve done nothing to you.’

‘He’ll report us to the Head or some rot,’ whispered Beetle. ‘Leave
him alone.’

‘Well he can if he wants to. We belong to the College here. You can
see our house caps. If you want our names we’ll give ’em to you. Then
you can report us for anything you like.’

‘ Oh that’s what boys are like these days, is it. When I was your age
I obeyed my elders.’

‘Well, what d’you want us to do. You say “Be off. Where to? Are
you going to hunt us all round the burrows or what?’

The tone was a little too much for the Colonel and he struck at
McTurk with the handle of his driver, more in a [petulant?] and admon-
ishing manner than with any intent to hurt. The boy leaped back
to avoid the blow. Next instant, the Colonel was, so to say, looking
down the muzzles of three loaded catapults—tense drawn; and care-
fully aimed at his legs.

* * * * *

‘You mustn’t do that,’ said Stalky clearly and shrilly. ‘If you go
about hitting boys you’ll get hurt. We’ll give you twenty yards law
and then we’ll plug at you.’

‘We thought you were a gentleman from your stockings,’ said
McTurk. ‘But you’re only a cad and it doesn’t matter. Are you going
to start?’

‘If you don’t you’ll get it now and it’ll hurt.’

‘Come away, Sir. Come away’ said Dick Yeo. ‘They’m Collegers.
Them tweakers’ll nigh kill ‘ee.’ He hauled at the speechless man’s coat
tails and the Colonel gave ground, swearing like a trooper but he would
not turn his back to the foe.

‘Now!’ said Corkran. ‘Fire low.’

There was a yell of pain and buckshot had sunk into a well filled
calf and the Colonel danced.

‘Load! Independent firing from the right.’ A military school has its
enthusiasts. The Colonel fled into the mist.

‘What a cad!’ was their only comment and after a little talk they dis-
missed the matter from their minds, and went up to College.

But the Colonel that evening in the Club told a tale that made the
Club Secretary look grave. He had been insulted and assaulted by
boys—mobs of them—some from Bideford Grammar School, which
institution he desired razed to the ground; others—three small devils he
called them—with red and black caps who said they belonged to the
College on the hill. These last had … he pulled down the heather-mix-
ture stocking.

‘You’ve been tweaked,’ said the Secretary who was also father of a
day boy.

The Major did not know the word but he was convinced that he
had not deserted St Andrews for the South Country to be treated in this
shape. Three small devils with lethal weapons, etc. When and where
should they be caught and punished? To this day men remember the
wrath of Major Martin in the old Golf Club that was destroyed by the
sea. He would pursue the matter to the bitter end.

By a most merciful dispensation of Providence, the
Secretary’s son was a confirmed “tweaker” as dayboys are apt to be. At
fifteen one has many things on one’s mind unfitting for a father to
know, and when the Secretary asked him questions about catapults and
recent adventures his sensitive conscience took alarm so that his father
was all misled and said to himself:- ‘If it wasn’t Dickie, he knows
something about it; and as Dickie has already been twice licked this
term for “tweaking”, he will probably get into immense trouble.’

And that was why the Secretary diverted Major Martin with sweet
words from carrying his complaint direct to the Head of the College
but promised him many and horrible private revenges.

‘We’ll catch them sooner or later my dear Sir. We’ll show them that
we mean business. We can make it much warmer for them than their
master can. One doesn’t want to make a thing like that public. After all,
there’s an element of the ridiculous in it.’

‘I utterly fail to see it,’ said the Major. ‘They—they “tweaked” me
as you call it—damnably.’

The Secretary—for these things do secretaries earn their wage—
approached the Head privily. His son had not yet dared the iniquity of
saloon-pistols, and it was the tale of the duels in the Frying-pan that
annoyed the Head most.

‘Yes I promise you I’ll attend to that. I believe there’s a regular
corps of young warriors of that kidney. I shall presently have a parent
writing that her lamb has lost his eyes—through my negligence. I must
lick for that. Otherwise,’—his eye twinkled—’it is strictly in accord
with the traditions of the School!’

‘He says he could tell their—dusty yellow caps anywhere.’ The
Secretary laughed.

‘Caps inside out, too. I wonder how often I have detected that little
ruse de guerre. I will make enquiries and put a stop to it. Or to any minor
annoyances, of course you can deal with the offenders yourself or send
’em to me as you think fit. We must teach the boys that they have not
[got] a vested interest in the links.’ That was the Head’s second term at
golf and though not a hardened maniac he was advancedly insane.

page 8

‘I should know them anywhere,’ said the Major at the Club. ‘One
of them is a little shock-headed beast with spectacles.’

But the heather-mixture stockings and the white spats were rather
more conspicuous than Beetle’s giglamps and the boys behaved
accordingly. Beyond doubt ‘gaiters’, ‘Bluggins’ or Smith was a cad;
but he was still a grown-up person; and the laws that regulated a man’s
conduct were barbarous and incomprehensible. They avoided him once
or twice, sheering off into the bunkers at half a mile. Occasionally they
took refuge in their lair at Charybdis and stimulated by past experience
promptly buried or confiscated any ball that dropped in. Three times
did Bluggins, and Bluggins was playing a match too, put down a new
ball, saying he had found the old one; twice did the other old gentleman
who played with Bluggins—they christened him “Pot” because he
was somewhat round—do the same thing.

And there were others—four in all. So their stock of golf-balls
increased as their estimate of human nature sank.

‘For we all have our funny little ways,’ Corkran lilted brushing the
sand off his knee.

‘Which we don’t show when anybody’s nigh—

My Goodness gracious me

What funny things you see

What funny things are done upon the sly.’

It was an inauspicious carol. The shrill tones carried far across the
bunkers; and Bluggins heard them. But he was a tactician too; or it may
be that, remembering the tweakers, he shunned a direct attack; for he
topped a bunker and disappeared with Dicky Yeo.

For a wonder, it was a fine day and the corrugated iron side of the
pavilion glimmered white against the dull blue of the pebble ridge—a
mile away, all [shining?] [wet?] in the soft air; and the links were
dotted with the accursed red coats.

‘It’s Fore! Fore! Fore! Every beastly minute,’ said Corkran,
ducking to the whirr of a golf-ball. ‘I like these men’s cheek.
Half of ’em can’t play a little bit; and they jaw at us!’

‘Fore! Get out of our light there!’ A couple were just driving off
from the third hole. They heard the distinct explosive ‘dam[n]’ as a
topped ball sliddered [(sic) slithered?] along the turf: and laughed.

‘I s’pose we’ve put ’em off their stroke’ said McTurk.

‘Rummy thing’ said Beetle, reflectively. ‘If you look at a man you
put him off his stroke, and we don’t mind any one cloddin’ us even.
I’ve driven off with Hewlett buzzin’ gutties at me. Jolly good gutties
old Bluggins keeps, don’t he!’ He looked at a Charybdis ball with

‘You ass! That isn’t a gutty. I asked Dicky Yeo and he told me
Bluggins said it was a St Andrews [tranter]. A gutty goes b-r-r-r but
a [tranter] goes wheir! wheir! like a bullet. They’re scored different.
Besides our gutties have the maker’s name in pink. This chap’—he
lugged out his share of the spoil—’is black: Pascall—St Andrews.’

‘Let’s go over to the Pavilion’ said McTurk. ‘Bluggins’ll be
halfway on his round.’

But this was just [where] Bluggins was not. He had turned back hot
foot; and even as they reached the [most?] first putting green, where
half a dozen men were gathered discussing [comparable? competi-
tion?] strokes, his hand fell on Corkran’s shoulder.

‘I want you my young friends,’ he said grimly. ‘I don’t think
you’ll use your catapult here. Hi! Raikes! I’ve got ’em. These are the
young imps I spoke about.’

The Secretary was buying a new driver and stood waggling it in the
doorway. A knot of men within were talking apparatus—which is the
one form of golf any one appreciates. A caddy or two waiting to go out
lounged under the shelter of the eaves; and there were drinks on a table.

‘Hullo! What’s up!’ a small lazy crowd gathered with great swiftness;
and the prisoners were moved into the anteroom.

To do him justice, the Major had decided to forgive the assault,
after a severe talking to. This the boys did not know; and he forfeited
all chance of mercy when he shook McTurk by the collar.

‘Look here—you mustn’t do that. We’re coming,’ the Irishman
snapped. ‘Tell him to let go of my collar, Mr Parkes.’

Corkran[‘s] eye swept the amused assembly. Three of them were
fathers of day boys; “Pot” was there wiping his moustache after his
whiskey and soda; two young men whom he did not know leaned
against the wall smiling; Captain Raikes (why had he “tweaked”
Captain Raikes’ fat spaniel last week!); Mr Parkes the Secretary;
Bluggins and three strangers made up the tale.

‘We’re from the College,’ gasped Beetle.

‘I think we know that,’ said the Secretary. ‘You’ve been guilty of
very serious rudeness.’

‘Hold on a minute. Give ’em a fair trial. What’s the charge?’ said
one of the young men. ‘We don’t know anything about it.’

McTurk had stiffened to attention and Corkran and Beetle followed
his example.

Major Martin gave the company his version of the affair.

‘Well, what was he doing in the Frying-pan at all?’ said Beetle.
There was a roar of laughter for the Frying-pan was the limbo of the
more unlucky. ‘It’s miles out of his course. We weren’t doing anything
to him. He came and told us to be off.

‘You know he couldn’t do that if he was a potwalloper,’ said
McTurk enraged by another peal of laughter. ‘We know it’s your golf-

page 9

‘Thanks awflly,’ from the young man.

‘Well, it is. But you can’t take up the whole of the burrows. If a man
can’t keep out of the Frying-pan—between the sixth and seventh—’

‘Excuse me a minute but can you keep out of the Frying-pan?
You talk as if you knew the game.’

‘Of course I can,’ said McTurk. ‘You must foozle badly to get into
it at all. It’s a clear drive from six to the mid-way marker; and a good
lie too, if you don’t get into the cart-ruts. Then it’s another drive—at
least it is for me—and your [sic] bang on to the green.’ Turning to the
Secretary ‘You know that Sir.’

Corkran was thinking—as he had never thought before.

‘Yes, we all know that. But you seem to forget the fact that even if
a man is off his course you needn’t tweak at him.’

‘We didn’t till he hit at us with his club. First he ordered us about
and then he hit at us. Why any cad in Northam would have rocked
him. They’d have rocked him every time they saw him and we only
tweaked him once.’

Then the Major grew very angry. Of course he had hit at them. They
were exceedingly insolent. They refused to obey his orders. For aught
he knew they might been concerned with the pistol-firing party he had
stumbled on.

‘What? D’you fire at people with pistols too!’

‘No Sir,’ from Beetle. ‘It’s—it’s only a little private duelling. We
haven’t anything to do with that. We’re not big enough.’

‘Well, Major, I must say you’ve unearthed a fine surprising sample
of younger generation.’

The Major did not care what he had unearthed. Thrice had he been
shot—’shot Sir—’

‘But only in the leg. I’ll swear it was only in the legs. Why—
Why—suppose you’d hit a man. He’d have hit you in the eye, Sir. You
hadn’t any right to go hitting players.’

‘You called after us like—like cads, Sir. You began shouting at us

‘All because he couldn’t play a little bit,’ Beetle explained to the
now [thickening?] crowd—

‘You followed us up. We weren’t doing anything to you. Then you
hit at us. Why fifty years ago—’

The Major interrupted.

‘Go on, young man. What would have happened fifty years ago?
We want to know?’ It was the fair-headed young man again—

‘My father would have called you out!’

The courtmartial rocked to and fro at the [polite haughtiness?] of
McTurk and the Major became uncomfortable. He was not going to be
made a public laughing-stock of by a parcel of young vagabonds. He
had not come South from St Andrews, etc.

Suddenly Stalky: his head a little on one side, [elected to throw?] in
a dart.

‘No. I don’t think your father would have called him out, Turkey:
Remember? Charybdis.’

‘Yes. No. Of course he couldn’t. I was wrong Sir. My father
couldn’t have called you out.’

This seemed to make the Major rather more furious than anything
that had gone before.

‘Why! Oh Why?’ Tears were running down the young man’s

‘You tell, Corkran.’

‘Fish ’em out,’ was the oracular response, and the men watched
while the boys went through their pockets bringing out golf-balls.

‘We have a place of our own, just inside Charybdis, where we can
lie down and see everything from a little cave place we’ve made.
Once when we were there he came in, and it was sanded up.’

‘The ball? The ball?’

‘Yes. Then he came in and stepped on it so he couldn’t find it. Then
we heard Dicky Yeo asking whether he had found the ball; he said he
had and he played out—with a new ball. This is the one he left in the
bunker. Well, after that we used to go to Charybdis and watch. We’ve

The silence was painful as Corkran fumbled for a Pascall ball. ‘He
uses St Andrews tranters [? Saltires ?]. We’ve got three of ’em:
Pascall St Andrews. And we’ve seen—’

‘Nonsense,’ said the Club Secretary genially. ‘That’s quite enough.
If you’re going to talk nonsense like this—’

‘Go on! Go on. We want to know’ said the fair-headed youth.

‘Oh we can’t have boys straying all round the bunkers,’ said a voice
‘and drawing a lot of [false?] conclusions from their ignorance of the

‘Why one of them has spectacles. He couldn’t have seen.’

The atmosphere seemed to have suddenly chilled around them.

Beetle was about to insist when a warning kick from Corkran
silenced him.

‘You’d better run away and get some little knowledge of the game
you pretend to know so much about.’ said the Secretary.

‘But—but—’ this was McTurk. Corkran in the [background?]
administered another kick.

page 10

‘You have evidently a very fair knowledge of golf for your age.
Haven’t they!’

‘Never want to see any one drive better for his years than that [(sic)
the?] tallest,’ said Pot hurriedly. ‘Wonder if they aren’t hungry? Boys
generally are. Do you think you could eat some biscuit—and lemon-

They thought so; and they did; and the men overwhelmed them
with attentions; all except the young man who lay back and laughed.
The Major went out with Pot; he seemed to have forgotten his
vengeance and the boys ate in silence.

‘I think we must be going back to Coll,’ said Corkran at last wiping
his mouth. ‘It’s nearly call over.’

‘Well, goodbye,’ said the Secretary. ‘We won’t say anything more
about the affair and I think the Major will overlook it too.’

‘Do you suppose,’ said the young man. ‘That you’ve hoodwinked
the boys for a minute?’

‘Don’t know—Don’t care,’ said the Secretary simply. ‘We must—
but we couldn’t have that sort of thing could we.’

‘Certainly not,’ said two members indignantly. ‘The little devils
ought to have been well licked.’ And they too went out leaving only the
two young men and the Secretary.

‘Responsible post yours,’ said one.

‘Very,’ said the Secretary.

‘Much of it, d’you think?’ said the other.

‘How does a man feel when he’s alone in a bunker with a lost ball!’
said the Secretary. ‘You ought to know.’

‘Oh we’ve felt the temptation ourselves. That youth will go far.
You did uncommonly well. It destroys all your fellowship in a club at

The ms stops here one-third down p.8 to be followed by a typically
Kipling doodle of a ‘Chinese Chippendale fret. There are five doodles
altogether in the first draft.


They did all in their power to dissuade him. No Club cares to
appear in print, and the Major hinted at Law. Meantime he would keep
his eyes open on the links and woe betide the criminals if he came
across them.

Mercifully, heather-mixture stockings and white spats, not to men-
tion auburn whiskers and a slight limp, are fairly conspicuous objects
on the green, and moreover the boys were careful never to cross the
links openly. They preferred to go down to the sands, trot along the sea-
ward face of the pebble ridge, strike into the bunkers direct and work
their way into Charybdis among the sandhills. It was half-an-hour’s
hard running but Corkran decreed it—at least until time and circum-
stance had delivered to them their enemy. Afternoon upon afternoon
they spent on their stomachs in the cave of Charybdis. Sometimes the
Major, a zealous player, would escape the trap; sometimes he was too
close upon the ball to allow them to steal forth and hide it but, and this
happened three times, whenever a long drive landed him in the bents
and Corkran swiftly crouching had taken charge of the ball, the Major
after diligent search, would put down a new one and serenely drive out.

It was not only the black stamped ‘Pascall St Andrews’ that they
hid but an occasional southern ‘guttie’, the clean-whistling closely-
scored kind, and—solitude and secrecy are terrible solvents of morality
—the boys’ stock of golf-balls rose as their estimate of human nature fell.

‘That makes Bluggins—three times in matches too—Pot’; he was
a somewhat tubby person whose name they did not know; ‘and the
Snorter.’ said Corkran, counting out three St Andrews and four
‘gutties’. ‘If we stayed here long enough we’d collar the whole lot I
suppose. It’s only taken us a week to nobble these.’

‘We shall all be gated next week’ said McTurk. “Member the Head
swears he’ll gate the whole Coll. [sic] if he don’t get the names of the
chaps who fired pistols at Bluggins.’

‘But no one fired pistols at Bluggins,’ said Beetle, with a chuckle.

‘Gobby and Ingram shouldn’t tell if they had. It’ll be rather hard
lines on the Coll. I expect they’ve hid their sallies long ago—in case
the play-boxes are searched. Ingram’s a stalky chap.’

‘But the Head’s stalky too,’ said McTurk. ‘He’ll ask for the names
of the chaps who were out that day with sallies. Then he’ll collar ’em.’

‘And then he’ll lick ’em extra on suspicion of havin’ shot at
Bluggins,’ said Corkran joyfully. ‘Well it don’t do Gobby any harm.
He’s licked me often enough.’

‘What are we goin’ to do about Bluggins’ cheating? We haven’t
told a soul yet.’

‘Dunno quite. It don’t matter what Bluggins has done—to the Head
you know. He’ll lick us for tweakin’ him just the same. We mustn’t for-
get that,’ said McTurk.

‘No-o. I’m thinkin’ of it,’ Corkran replied. ‘What we ought to do, I
think, is to go straight to old Raikes and ask him to have Bluggins

‘Who’s goin’ to do it? You have got cheek’ said McTurk.

‘It’s rather risky. There’s no knowin’ how Raikes ‘ud take it. I
thought we might two-to-one Beetle for the job.’

Beetle howled despairfully. Even McTurk had not heart to send him
to this doom, and they debated the matter in the cave till their only
watch told them that it was within twenty minutes of call-over.

page 11

They had missed enough musters that week to make them a little
anxious. Juniors were liable to be caned for systematic unpunctuality—
as their housemaster had hinted to them the day before. By running
straight across the burrows they might just save their names. So they
ran. It was two miles and the latter part uphill. Their line took them
across the red-dotted links not a hundred yards from the corrugated iron

‘Ca—can’t you crack on a little?’ panted Stalky, his eyes on their
goal, the far-away College against the hillside. The others shook their
heads. ‘If we can hold our [pace?] but—we can only—just get in,’ said Mcturk.

A red-coat detached itself from the little crowd by the pavilion
doors and—it is astonishing how fast a really angry man can run—
barred their path.

‘I’ve got you—at last! You young devils. Got you at last have I. Ha!
Raikes! I’ve caught them—the young imps who fired at me. Running

‘Le—le—let me get my wind,’ sobbed Turkey. ‘We weren’t run-
ning away from you. Ta—take your hand off my collar. I’ll go up to the

Flushed and breathing heavily they were hauled to the ante-room by
the delighted Major. Two or three men were sitting at the table over
whiskies and sodas, another was splicing a driver. The Secretary,
beaked like a bird of prey, was deep in accounts and two freckled
young men with enormous bony wrists leaned against the lockers talk-
ing together. The Major introduced them to the assembly with no
regard whatever for their feelings, repeated his charges three times and
demanded an instant execution.

‘Wait a minute,’ said the most freckled of the young men. ‘Give
’em a fair trial. What’s it all about? Stealing golf-balls?’

The Major repeated the charges yet again; the boys stood to atten-
tion, thinking swiftly. It was a hostile court with but one kindly face.

‘Let them get their breath,’ the young man persisted. ‘Now you give
us your version of things.’

It annoyed the Major that there should be any version except his
own; and he said so.

* * * * * *