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Left Guard Gilbert by Ralph Henry Barbour

Fernald faced the company again


"Byrd?

Well, tell him I'm busy," replied the principal. "If he wants to wait I'll see him after the conference. Although"--Mr. Fernald glanced at the clock--"it's only four minutes to eight and he'd better get back to his room. Tell him I'll see him at the Cottage at nine, Mr. Brooke. As I was saying," and Mr. Fernald faced the company again, "I think it would be well to arrange for a longer course this Winter. Last year, as you'll recall---- Eh? What is it?"

"He says, sir, that it's a faculty matter," announced Mr. Brooke deprecatingly, "and asks to be allowed to come in for a minute."

"A faculty matter? Well, in that case----All right, Mr. Brooke, tell him to come in."

As Amy entered eight pairs of eyes regarded him curiously; nine, in fact, for Mr. Brooke, closing the door softly behind the visitor, gazed at him in questioning disapproval.

"Well, Byrd, what can we do for you?" Mr. Fernald smiled, doubtless with the wish to dispel embarrassment. But he needn't have troubled about that, for Amy didn't look or act in the least embarrassed. "I'm afraid," continued the principal, "that I can't offer you a chair, for we're rather busy just now. What was it you wanted to speak of?"

"I guess it looks pretty cheeky, sir, for me to butt in here," replied Amy, with a smile, "but it's rather important, sir, and--and if anything's

to be done about it it'll have to be done tonight."

"Really? Well, it does sound important. Suppose you tell us about it, Byrd."

"Thank you, sir." Amy paused, gathering his words in order. "It's this, Mr. Fernald: when we fellows were put on pro--probation, I mean, it was intended that we should all get the same punishment, wasn't it, sir?"

"Let me see, that was the affair of---- Ah, yes, I recall it. Why, yes, Byrd, naturally it was meant to treat you all alike. What complaint have you?"

"It isn't exactly a complaint, sir. But it's this way. There were nine of us altogether. It was my fault in the first place because I put them up to it. They'd never thought of it if I hadn't." Amy glanced at Mr. Moller. "It was a pretty silly piece of business, sir, and we got what we deserved. But--but none of us meant to--to hurt anyone's feelings, sir. It was just a lark. We didn't think that----"

"We'll allow that, Byrd. Please get down to the purpose of this unusual visit," said Mr. Fernald drily.

"Yes, sir. Well, eight of us it doesn't matter so much about. We aren't football men and being on probation doesn't cut so much--I mean it doesn't matter so much. But Tom Hall's a football man, sir, and it's different for him. This is his last year here and losing his place on the team was hard lines. That's what I'm trying to get at, sir. You meant that we were all to be punished the same, but we weren't. It's just about twice as hard on Tom as it is on the rest of us. You see that, sir, don't you?"

There was a moment of silence and then Mr. Simkins coughed. Or did he chuckle? Amy couldn't tell. But the principal dropped his eyes and tapped his blotter with the tip of the pencil he held. At last:

"That's a novel point of view, Byrd," he said. "There may be something in it. But I must remind you that the Law--and the faculty stands for the Law here--takes no cognisance of conditions existing--hem!" Mr. Fernald glanced doubtfully down the table. "Perhaps it should, though. We'll pass that question for the moment. What is it you suggest, Byrd?"


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