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She and her friend had to. He could scarcely walk, and it was a hard job getting him down the steep track to Wasdale. Her name was Katherine Bridges; she was twenty-five—young enough to be Chips's daughter.
She had blue, flashing eyes and freckled cheeks and smooth straw-colored hair. She too was staying at a farm, on holiday with a girl friend, and as she considered herself responsible for Chips's accident, she used to bicycle along the side of the lake to the house in which the quiet, middle-aged, serious-looking man lay resting. That was how she thought of him at first. And he, because she rode a bicycle and was unafraid to visit a man alone in a farmhouse sitting room, wondered vaguely what the world was coming to.
His sprain put him at her mercy, and it was soon revealed to him how much he might need that mercy. She was a governess out of a job, with a little money saved up; she read and admired Ibsen; she believed that women ought to be admitted to the universities; she even thought they ought to have a vote. In politics she was a radical, with leanings toward the views of people like Bernard Shaw and William Morris. All her ideas and opinions she poured out to Chips during those summer afternoons at Wasdale Head; and he, because he was not very articulate, did not at first think it worth while to contradict them.
He used to hobble with sticks along a footpath leading to the tiny church; there was a stone slab on the wall, and it was comfortable to sit down, facing the sunlight and the green-brown majesty of the Gable and listening to the chatter of—well, yes, Chips had to admit it— a very beautiful girl.
He had never met anyone like her. He had always thought that the modern type, this "new woman" business, would repel him; and here she was, making him positively look forward to the glimpse of her safety bicycle careering along the lakeside road.
And she, too, had never met anyone like HIM. She had always thought that middle-aged men who read the Times and disapproved of modernity were terrible bores; yet here he was, claiming her interest and attention far more than youths of her own age. She liked him, initially, because he was so hard to get to know, because he had gentle and quiet manners, because his opinions dated from those utterly impossible seventies and eighties and even earlier—yet were, for all that, so thoroughly honest; and because—because his eyes were brown and he looked charming when he smiled.
Within a week they were head over heels in love; before Chips could walk without a stick, they considered themselves engaged; and they were married in London a week before the beginning of the autumn term.
Wickett's, recollected those days, he used to look down at his feet and wonder which one it was that had performed so signal a service. That, the trivial cause of so many momentous happenings, was the one thing of which details evaded him.
But he resaw the glorious hump of the Gable he had never visited the Lake District since , and the mouse-gray depths of Wastwater under the Screes; he could resmell the washed air after heavy rain, and refollow the ribbon of the pass across to Sty Head. So clearly it lingered, that time of dizzy happiness, those evening strolls by the waterside, her cool voice and her gay laughter. She had been a very happy person, always. They had both been so eager, planning a future together; but he had been rather serious about it, even a little awed.
It would be all right, of course, her coming to Brookfield; other housemasters were married. And she liked boys, she told him, and would enjoy living among them. I was afraid you were a solicitor or a stockbroker or a dentist or a man with a big cotton business in Manchester. When I first met you, I mean. Schoolmastering's so different, so important, don't you think? To be influencing those who are going to grow up and matter to the world He did his best; that was all anyone could do in any job.
I do love you for saying simple things like that.
He had told her of his only mediocre degree, of his occasional difficulties of discipline, of the certainty that he would never get a promotion, and of his complete ineligibility to marry a young and ambitious girl.
And at the end of it all she had laughed in answer. She had no parents and was married from the house of an aunt in Ealing. On the night before the wedding, when Chips left the house to return to his hotel, she said, with mock gravity: "This is an occasion, you know— this last farewell of ours. I feel rather like a new boy beginning his first term with you. Not scared, mind you—but just, for once, in a thoroughly respectful mood.
Shall I call you 'sir'—or would 'Mr. Chips' be the right thing? Chips,' I think. Good-bye, then— good-bye, Mr. For his marriage was a triumphant success. Katherine conquered Brookfield as she had conquered Chips; she was immensely popular with boys and masters alike.
Even the wives of the masters, tempted at first to be jealous of one so young and lovely, could not long resist her charms. But most remarkable of all was the change she made in Chips.
Till his marriage he had been a dry and rather neutral sort of person; liked and thought well of by Brookfield in general, but not of the stuff that makes for great popularity or that stirs great affection. He had been at Brookfield for over a quarter of a century, long enough to have established himself as a decent fellow and a hard worker; but just too long for anyone to believe him capable of ever being much more.
He had, in fact, already begun to sink into that creeping dry rot of pedagogy which is the worst and ultimate pitfall of the profession; giving the same lessons year after year had formed a groove into which the other affairs of his life adjusted themselves with insidious ease. He worked well; he was conscientious; he was a fixture that gave service, satisfaction, confidence, everything except inspiration.
And then came this astonishing girl-wife whom nobody had expected— least of all Chips himself. She made him, to all appearances, a new man; though most of the newness was really a warming to life of things that were old, imprisoned, and unguessed. His eyes gained sparkle; his mind, which was adequately if not brilliantly equipped, began to move more adventurously. The one thing he had always had, a sense of humor, blossomed into a sudden richness to which his years lent maturity. He began to feel a greater sureness; his discipline improved to a point at which it could become, in a sense, less rigid; he became more popular.
When he had first come to Brookfield he had aimed to be loved, honored, and obeyed—but obeyed, at any rate. Obedience he had secured, and honor had been granted him; but only now came love, the sudden love of boys for a man who was kind without being soft, who understood them well enough, but not too much, and whose private happiness linked them with their own.
He began to make little jokes, the sort that schoolboys like—mnemonics and puns that raised laughs and at the same time imprinted something in the mind. There was one that never failed to please, though it was only a sample of many others. Whenever his Roman History forms came to deal with the Lex Canuleia, the law that permitted patricians to marry plebeians, Chips used to add: "So that, you see, if Miss Plebs wanted Mr.
Patrician to marry her, and he said he couldn't, she probably replied: 'Oh yes, you can, you liar! And Kathie broadened his views and opinions, also, giving him an outlook far beyond the roofs and turrets of Brookfield, so that he saw his country as something deep and gracious to which Brookfield was but one of many feeding streams. She had a cleverer brain than his, and he could not confuse her ideas even if and when he disagreed with them; he remained, for instance, a Conservative in politics, despite all her radical-socialist talk.
But even where he did not accept, he absorbed; her young idealism worked upon his maturity to produce an amalgam very gentle and wise. Sometimes she persuaded him completely. Brookfield, for example, ran a mission in East London, to which boys and parents contributed generously with money but rarely with personal contact.
It was Katherine who suggested that a team from the mission should come up to Brookfield and play one of the School's elevens at soccer. The idea was so revolutionary that from anyone but Katherine it could not have survived its first frosty reception.
To introduce a group of slum boys to the serene pleasaunces of better-class youngsters seemed at first a wanton stirring of all kinds of things that had better be left untouched. The whole staff was against it, and the School, if its opinion could have been taken, was probably against it too. Everyone was certain that the East End lads would be hooligans, or else that they would be made to feel uncomfortable; anyhow, there would be "incidents," and everyone would be confused and upset.
Yet Katherine persisted. I'm looking ahead to the future, they and you are looking back to the past. England isn't always going to be divided into officers and 'other ranks.
You've got to have them here, Chips. You can't satisfy your conscience by writing a check for a few guineas and keeping them at arm's length. Besides, they're proud of Brookfield—just as you are. Years hence, maybe, boys of that sort will be coming here—a few of them, at any rate.
Why not? Why ever not? Chips, dear, remember this is eighteen-ninety-seven—not sixty-seven, when you were up at Cambridge. You got your ideas well stuck in those days, and good ideas they were too, a lot of them. But a few— just a few, Chips—want unsticking The boys from Poplar arrived at Brookfield one Saturday afternoon, played soccer with the School's second team, were honorably defeated by seven goals to five, and later had high tea with the School team in the Dining Hall.
They then met the Head and were shown over the School, and Chips saw them off at the railway station in the evening. Everything had passed without the slightest hitch of any kind, and it was clear that the visitors were taking away with them as fine an impression as they had left behind. They took back with them also the memory of a charming woman who had met them and talked to them; for once, years later, during the War, a private stationed at a big military camp near Brookfield called on Chips and said he had been one of that first visiting team.
Chips gave him tea and chatted with him, till at length, shaking hands, the man said: "And 'ow's the missus, sir? I remember her very well. I should think anyone would. At least, not here. Boys come and go; new faces all the time; memories don't last. Even masters don't stay forever. Since last year—when old Gribble retired—he's —um—the School butler—there hasn't been anyone here who ever saw my wife.
She died, you know, less than a year after your visit. In ninety-eight. There's two or three o' my pals, anyhow, who remember 'er clear as anything, though we did only see 'er that wunst.
Yes, we remember 'er, all right. That was a grand day we all had—and a fine game, too. Wish it was then and not nah—straight, I do. I'm off to Frawnce to-morrer. Twilight at Mrs. Wickett's, when the School bell clanged for call-over, brought them back to him in a cloud —Katherine scampering along the stone corridors, laughing beside him at some "howler" in an essay he was marking, taking the cello part in a Mozart trio for the School concert, her creamy arm sweeping over the brown sheen of the instrument.
She had been a good player and a fine musician. And Katherine furred and muffed for the December house matches, Katherine at the Garden Party that followed Speech Day Prize-giving, Katherine tendering her advice in any little problem that arose.
Good advice, too—which he did not always take, but which always influenced him. After all, it's nothing very serious. I'd like to let them off, but if I do I'm afraid they'll do it again. So that when anything does occur that oughtn't to, don't you think it's a bit unfair to come down on them as if it were their own fault for being here? One black sheep can contaminate others. After all, that's what probably DID happen, isn't it? We can't help it.
Anyhow, I believe Brookfield is better than a lot of other schools. All the more reason to keep it so. After all—apart from this business—isn't he rather a nice boy? About once in ten times he was adamant and wouldn't be persuaded. In about half of these exceptional cases he afterward rather wished he had taken her advice. And years later, whenever he had trouble with a boy, he was always at the mercy of a softening wave of reminiscence; the boy would stand there, waiting to be told his punishment, and would see, if he were observant, the brown eyes twinkle into a shine that told him all was well.
But she had not always pleaded for leniency. On rather rare occasions she urged severity where Chips was inclined to be forgiving. He's too cocksure of himself.
If he's looking for trouble I should certainly let him have it. Did any emotion really matter when the last trace of it had vanished from human memory; and if that were so, what a crowd of emotions clung to him as to their last home before annihilation! He must be kind to them, must treasure them in his mind before their long sleep. That affair of Archer's resignation, for instance—a queer business, that was.
And that affair about the rat that Dunster put in the organ loft while old Ogilvie was taking choir practice. Ogilvie was dead and Dunster drowned at Jutland; of others who had witnessed or heard of the incident, probably most had forgotten.
And it had been like that, with other incidents, for centuries. He had a sudden vision of thousands and thousands of boys, from the age of Elizabeth onward; dynasty upon dynasty of masters; long epochs of Brookfield history that had left not even a ghostly record. Who knew why the old fifth-form room was called "the Pit"? There was probably a reason, to begin with; but it had since been lost—lost like the lost books of Livy.
And what happened at Brookfield when Cromwell fought at Naseby, near by? How did Brookfield react to the great scare of the "Forty-Five"? Was there a whole holiday when news came of Waterloo? And so on, up to the earliest time that he himself could remember—, and Wetherby saying, by way of small talk after their first and only interview: "Looks as if we shall have to settle with the Prussians ourselves one of these fine days, eh? Wickett's he sometimes went even so far as to make desultory notes in an exercise book.
But he was soon brought up against difficulties—the chief one being that writing tired him, both mentally and physically. Somehow, too, his recollections lost much of their flavor when they were written down; that story about Rushton and the sack of potatoes, for instance—it would seem quite tame in print, but Lord, how funny it had been at the time! It was funny, too, to remember it; though perhaps if you didn't remember Rushton It was such a long time ago Wickett, did you ever know a fellow named Rushton?
Before your time, I dare say Very funny fellow, Rushton And there he was, dreaming again before the fire, dreaming of times and incidents in which he alone could take secret interest. Funny and sad, comic and tragic, they all mixed up in his mind, and some day, however hard it proved, he WOULD sort them out and make a book of them CHAPTER 8 And there was always in his mind that spring day in ninety- eight when he had paced through Brookfield village as in some horrifying nightmare, half struggling to escape into an outside world where the sun still shone and where everything had happened differently.
Young Faulkner had met him there in the lane outside the School. My people are coming up. What's that? Oh yes, yes My wife is dead and my child is dead, and I wish I were dead myself.
He did not want to talk to anybody or to receive condolences; he wanted to get used to things, if he could, before facing the kind words of others. He took his fourth form as usual after call-over, setting them grammar to learn by heart while he himself stayed at his desk in a cold, continuing trance. Suddenly someone said: "Please, sir, there are a lot of letters for you.
He tore them open one after the other, but each contained nothing but a blank sheet of paper. He thought in a distant way that it was rather peculiar, but he made no comment; the incident gave hardly an impact upon his vastly greater preoccupations. Not till days afterward did he realize that it had been a piece of April-foolery. They had died on the same day, the mother and the child just born; on April 1, He thought at first he would give up his housemastership, but the Head persuaded him otherwise; and later he was glad.
The work gave him something to do, filled up an emptiness in his mind and heart. He was different; everyone noticed it. Just as marriage had added something, so did bereavement; after the first stupor of grief he became suddenly the kind of man whom boys, at any rate, unhesitatingly classed as "old.
Actually, too, his hair had been graying for years; yet now, for the first time, people seemed to notice it. He was fifty. Once, after some energetic fives, during which he had played as well as many a fellow half his age, he overheard a boy saying: "Not half bad for an old chap like him.
Umph—it was Naylor who said that, and Naylor can't be far short of fifty himself by now! I wonder if he still thinks that fifty's such an age? Last I heard of him, he was lawyering, and lawyers live long—look at Halsbury—umph—Chancellor at eighty-two, and died at ninety-nine. There's an—umph—age for you!
I was myself For with the new century there settled upon Chips a mellowness that gathered all his developing mannerisms and his oft-repeated jokes into a single harmony.
No longer did he have those slight and occasional disciplinary troubles, or feel diffident about his own work and worth. He found that his pride in Brookfield reflected back, giving him cause for pride in himself and his position.
It was a service that gave him freedom to be supremely and completely himself. He had won, by seniority and ripeness, an uncharted no-man's-land of privilege; he had acquired the right to those gentle eccentricities that so often attack schoolmasters and parsons.
He wore his gown till it was almost too tattered to hold together; and when he stood on the wooden bench by Big Hall steps to take call-over, it was with an air of mystic abandonment to ritual.
He held the School List, a long sheet curling over a board; and each boy, as he passed, spoke his own name for Chips to verify and then tick off on the list. That verifying glance was an easy and favorite subject of mimicry throughout the School— steel-rimmed spectacles slipping down the nose, eyebrows lifted, one a little higher than the other, a gaze half rapt, half quizzical.
And on windy days, with gown and white hair and School List fluttering in uproarious confusion, the whole thing became a comic turn sandwiched between afternoon games and the return to classes.
Some of those names, in little snatches of a chorus, recurred to him ever afterward without any effort of memory Another one:— And yet another that comprised, as he used to tell his fourth-form Latinists, an excellent example of a hexameter:— Where had they all gone to, he often pondered; those threads he had once held together, how far had they scattered, some to break, others to weave into unknown patterns?
The strange randomness of the world beguiled him, that randomness which never would, so long as the world lasted, give meaning to those choruses again. And behind Brookfield, as one may glimpse a mountain behind another mountain when the mist clears, he saw the world of change and conflict; and he saw it, more than he realized, with the remembered eyes of Kathie.
She had not been able to bequeath him all her mind, still less the brilliance of it; but she had left him with a calmness and a poise that accorded well with his own inward emotions. It was typical of him that he did not share the general jingo bitterness against the Boers. Not that he was a pro-Boer—he was far too traditional for that, and he disliked the kind of people who WERE pro-Boers; but still, it did cross his mind at times that the Boers were engaged in a struggle that had a curious similarity to those of certain English history-book heroes—Hereward the Wake, for instance, or Caractacus.
He once tried to shock his fifth form by suggesting this, but they only thought it was one of his little jokes. However heretical he might be about the Boers, he was orthodox about Mr.
Lloyd George and the famous Budget. He did not care for either of them. And when, years later, L. Lloyd George, I am nearly old enough—umph—to remember you as a young man, and— umph—I confess that you seem to me—umph—to have improved—umph—a great deal.
I suppose at that age anything you say to anybody is all right There was just the faintest chance that the Governors might make the appointment a permanent one; but Chips was not really disappointed when they brought in a youngster of thirty-seven, glittering with Firsts and Blues and with the kind of personality that could reduce Big Hall to silence by the mere lifting of an eyebrow. Chips was not in the running with that kind of person; he never had been and never would be, and he knew it.
He was an altogether milder and less ferocious animal. Those years before his retirement in were studded with sharply remembered pictures. A May morning; the clang of the School bell at an unaccustomed time; everyone summoned to assemble in Big Hall. Ralston, the new Head, very pontifical and aware of himself, fixing the multitude with a cold, presaging severity. There will be no school this afternoon, but a service will be held in the Chapel at four-thirty.
The railwaymen were on strike, soldiers were driving the engines, stones had been thrown at trains. Brookfield boys were patrolling the line, thinking the whole business great fun. Chips, who was in charge, stood a little way off, talking to a man at the gate of a cottage. Young Cricklade approached. Jones—he's a striker. When he's on duty he has charge of the signal box at the station. You've put your life in his hands many a time. Talking to a striker. Might have been quite friendly, the way they were talking together.
Chips, thinking it over a good many times, always added to himself that Kathie would have approved, and would also have been amused. Because always, whatever happened and however the avenues of politics twisted and curved, he had faith in England, in English flesh and blood, and in Brookfield as a place whose ultimate worth depended on whether she fitted herself into the English scene with dignity and without disproportion.
He had been left a vision that grew clearer with each year—of an England for which days of ease were nearly over, of a nation steering into channels where a hair's breadth of error might be catastrophic. He remembered the Diamond Jubilee; there had been a whole holiday at Brookfield, and he had taken Kathie to London to see the procession.
That old and legendary lady, sitting in her carriage like some crumbling wooden doll, had symbolized impressively so many things that, like herself, were nearing an end. Was it only the century, or was it an epoch? And then that frenzied Edwardian decade, like an electric lamp that goes brighter and whiter just before it burns itself out. Strikes and lockouts, champagne suppers and unemployed marchers, Chinese labor, tariff reform, H. An April evening, windy and rainy; the fourth form construing Vergil, not very intelligently, for there was exciting news in the papers; young Grayson, in particular, was careless and preoccupied.
A quiet, nervous boy. Is anything the matter?
Grayson was excused lessons; for a whole day the School centred emotionally upon his anxieties. Then came news that his father had been among those rescued. Chips shook hands with the boy. A happy ending. You must be feeling pretty pleased with life. And it was Grayson Senior, not Junior, with whom Chips was destined later to condole.
Funny thing, Chips had never liked him; he was efficient, ruthless, ambitious, but not, somehow, very likable. He had, admittedly, raised the status of Brookfield as a school, and for the first time in memory there was a longish waiting list.
Ralston was a live wire; a fine power transmitter, but you had to beware of him. Chips had never bothered to beware of him; he was not attracted by the man, but he served him willingly enough and quite loyally.
Or, rather, he served Brookfield. He knew that Ralston did not like him, either; but that didn't seem to matter.
He felt himself sufficiently protected by age and seniority from the fate of other masters whom Ralston had failed to like. Then suddenly, in , when he had just turned sixty, came Ralston's urbane ultimatum. Chipping, have you ever thought you would like to retire?
He said, at length: "No— umph—I can't say that—umph—I have thought much about it—umph—yet. Chipping, the suggestion is there for you to consider. The Governors would, of course, agree to your being adequately pensioned. I don't—umph—need to consider it. Chipping, you shall have them. For some time past, you haven't been pulling your weight here.
Your methods of teaching are slack and old-fashioned; your personal habits are slovenly; and you ignore my instructions in a way which, in a younger man, I should regard as rank insubordination. It won't do, Mr. Chipping, and you must ascribe it to my forbearance that I have put up with it so long. I happen to know that that gown of yours is a subject of continual amusement throughout the School. I said that in a younger man I should have regarded it as that. In your case it's probably a mixture of slackness and obstinacy.
This question of Latin pronunciation, for instance—I think I told you years ago that I wanted the new style used throughout the School.
The other masters obeyed me; you prefer to stick to your old methods, and the result is simply chaos and inefficiency. I never did. Umph—a lot of nonsense, in my opinion. Making boys say 'Kickero' at school when— umph—for the rest of their lives they'll say 'Cicero'—if they ever—umph—say it at all. And instead of 'vicissim'— God bless my soul—you'd make them say, 'We kiss 'im'! Umph— umph! Chipping—that's just an example of what I complain of.
You hold one opinion and I hold another, and, since you decline to give way, there can't very well be any alternative. I aim to make Brookfield a thoroughly up-to-date school. I'm a science man myself, but for all that I have no objection to the classics—provided that they are taught efficiently.
Because they are dead languages is no reason why they should be dealt with in a dead educational technique. I understand, Mr.
Chipping, that your Latin and Greek lessons are exactly the same as they were when I began here ten years ago? Meldrum —came here, and that—umph—was thirty-eight years ago. We began here, Mr. Meldrum and I—in—umph—in And it was—um—Mr. Meldrum's predecessor, Mr. Wetherby—who first approved my syllabus. Cicero, too—not Kickero! Chipping, but once again it proves my point— you live too much in the past, and not enough in the present and future. Times are changing, whether you realize it or not.
Modern parents are beginning to demand something more for their three years' school fees than a few scraps of languages that nobody speaks. Besides, your boys don't learn even what they're supposed to learn. None of them last year got through the Lower Certificate.
These examinations and certificates and so on —what did they matter? And all this efficiency and up-to-dateness —what did THAT matter, either? Ralston was trying to run Brookfield like a factory—a factory for turning out a snob culture based on money and machines. The old gentlemanly traditions of family and broad acres were changing, as doubtless they were bound to; but instead of widening them to form a genuine inclusive democracy of duke and dustman, Ralston was narrowing them upon the single issue of a fat banking account.
There never had been so many rich men's sons at Brookfield. Ralston met these wealthy fellows in London clubs and persuaded them that Brookfield was THE coming school, and, since they couldn't buy their way into Eton or Harrow, they greedily swallowed the bait. Awful fellows, some of them—though others were decent enough. Financiers, company promoters, pill manufacturers.
One of them gave his son five pounds a week pocket money. And once Chips had got into trouble because of some joke he had made about the name and ancestry of a boy named Isaacstein. Touchy, no sense of humor, no sense of proportion—that was the matter with them, these new fellows No sense of proportion. And it was a sense of proportion, above all things, that Brookfield ought to teach —not so much Latin or Greek or Chemistry or Mechanics.
And you couldn't expect to test that sense of proportion by setting papers and granting certificates All this flashed through his mind in an instant of protest and indignation, but he did not say a word of it. He merely gathered his tattered gown together and with an "umph—umph" walked a few paces away. He had had enough of the argument. At the door he turned and said: "I don't— umph—intend to resign—and you can—umph—do what you like about it!
Particularly when, as it happened, Ralston had been in such complete ignorance of the forces he was dealing with. So, for that matter, had Chips himself. Neither had correctly estimated the toughness of Brookfield tradition, and its readiness to defend itself and its defenders. For it had so chanced that a small boy, waiting to see Ralston that morning, had been listening outside the door during the whole of the interview; he had been thrilled by it, naturally, and had told his friends.
Some of these, in a surprisingly short time, had told their parents; so that very soon it was common knowledge that Ralston had insulted Chips and had demanded his resignation. The amazing result was a spontaneous outburst of sympathy and partisanship such as Chips, in his wildest dreams, had never envisaged. He found, rather to his astonishment, that Ralston was thoroughly unpopular; he was feared and respected, but not liked; and in this issue of Chips the dislike rose to a point where it conquered fear and demolished even respect.
There was talk of having some kind of public riot in the School if Ralston succeeded in banishing Chips. The masters, many of them young men who agreed that Chips was hopelessly old-fashioned, rallied round him nevertheless because they hated Ralston's slave driving and saw in the old veteran a likely champion. Wickett for the dozenth time. I remember he could never—umph—master his verbs. And now —umph—I see in the papers—they've made him— umph—a baronet.
It just shows you—umph—it just shows you. Sorry to hear about it, for your sake—but I want you to know that the Governors are with you to a man. We don't like the fellow a great deal. Very clever and all that, but a bit too clever, if you ask me.
Claims to have doubled the School's endowment funds by some monkeying on the Stock Exchange. Dare say he has, but a chap like that wants watching. So if he starts chucking his weight about with you, tell him very politely he can go to the devil. The Governors don't want you to resign. Brookfield wouldn't be the same without you, and they know it. We all know it. You can stay here till you're a hundred if you feel like it—indeed, it's our hope that you will.
And in Ralston left, "to better himself"; he was offered the headship of one of the greater public schools. His successor was a man named Chatteris, whom Chips liked; he was even younger than Ralston had been —thirty-four. He was supposed to be very brilliant; at any rate, he was modern Natural Sciences Tripos , friendly, and sympathetic.
Recognizing in Chips a Brookfield institution, he courteously and wisely accepted the situation. In Chips had had bronchitis and was off duty for nearly the whole of the winter term. It was that which made him decide to resign that summer, when he was sixty-five. After all, it was a good, ripe age; and Ralston's straight words had, in some ways, had an effect. He felt that it would not be fair to hang on if he could not decently do his job.
Besides, he would not sever himself completely. He would take rooms across the road, with the excellent Mrs. Wickett who had once been linen-room maid; he could visit the School whenever he wanted, and could still, in a sense, remain a part of it. At that final end-of-term dinner, in July , Chips received his farewell presentations and made a speech.
It was not a very long speech, but it had a good many jokes in it, and was made twice as long, perhaps, by the laughter that impeded its progress. There were several Latin quotations in it, as well as a reference to the Captain of the School, who, Chips said, had been guilty of exaggeration in speaking of his Chips's services to Brookfield.
I—um—remember—once —having to thrash his father—for it. A typical Chips remark, everyone thought. And then he mentioned that he had been at Brookfield for forty-two years, and that he had been very happy there.
Umph—I need not—of course—translate I remember the—um—the first bicycle. I remember when there was no gas or electric light and we used to have a member of the domestic staff called a lamp-boy—he did nothing else but clean and trim and light lamps throughout the School. I remember when there was a hard frost that lasted for seven weeks in the winter term —there were no games, and the whole School learned to skate on the fens.
Eighteen-eighty-something, that was. I remember when two-thirds of the School went down with German measles and Big Hall was turned into a hospital ward. I remember the great bonfire we had on Mafeking night.
It was lit too near the pavilion and we had to send for the fire brigade to put it out. And the firemen were having their own celebrations and most of them were— um—in a regrettable condition. Brool, whose photograph is still in the tuckshop; she served there until an uncle in Australia left her a lot of money. In fact, I remember so much that I often think I ought to write a book. Now what should I call it? That was a good one, people thought—one of Chips's best.
But I'd rather tell you about it, really. I remember I never forget them. I have thousands of faces in my mind—the faces of boys. If you come and see me again in years to come—as I hope you all will—I shall try to remember those older faces of yours, but it's just possible I shan't be able to—and then some day you'll see me somewhere and I shan't recognize you and you'll say to yourself, 'The old boy doesn't remember me. That's the point. In my mind you never grow up at all.
Sometimes, for instance, when people talk to me about our respected Chairman of the Governors, I think to myself, 'Ah, yes, a jolly little chap with hair that sticks up on top—and absolutely no idea whatever about the difference between a Gerund and a Gerundive. Think of me sometimes as I shall certainly think of you. Haec olim meminisse juvabit August Chips went for a cure to Wiesbaden, where he lodged at the home of the German master at Brookfield, Herr Staefel, with whom he had become friendly.
Staefel was thirty years his junior, but the two men got on excellently. In September, when term began, Chips returned and took up residence at Mrs. He felt a great deal stronger and fitter after his holiday, and almost wished he had not retired. Nevertheless, he found plenty to do. He had all the new boys to tea. He watched all the important matches on the Brookfield ground.
Once a term he dined with the Head, and once also with the masters. That is, of course, if you die at all. You're such a remarkable old boy that one never knows. Wickett aside in the lobby and whisper: "Look after him, you know. His chest Nothing really wrong with him— only anno domini, but that's the most fatal complaint of all, in the end.
Born in , and taken to the Great Exhibition as a toddling child—not many people still alive could boast a thing like that. Besides, Chips could even remember Brookfield in Wetherby's time.
A phenomenon, that was. Wetherby had been an old man in those days— —easy to remember because of the Franco-Prussian War. Chips had put in for Brookfield after a year at Melbury, which he hadn't liked, because he had been ragged there a good deal.
But Brookfield he had liked, almost from the beginning. He remembered that day of his preliminary interview—sunny June, with the air full of flower scents and the plick- plock of cricket on the pitch. Brookfield was playing Barnhurst, and one of the Barnhurst boys, a chubby little fellow, made a brilliant century.
Queer that a thing like that should stay in the memory so clearly. Wetherby himself was very fatherly and courteous; he must have been ill then, poor chap, for he died during the summer vacation, before Chips began his first term. But the two had seen and spoken to each other, anyway.