“It’s King! It’s King!” gulped Stalky, his head on the horsehair pillow.
McTurk was eating the rag-carpet before the speckless hearth,
and the sofa heaved to the emotions of Beetle.
Through the thick glass the figures without showed blue, distorted, and menacing.
“I— I protest against this outrage.” King had evidently been running up hill. “The man was entirely within his duty. Let — let me give you my card.”
“He’s in flannels!” Stalky buried his head again.
“Unfortunately — most unfortunately — I have not one with me, but my name is King, sir, a house-master of the College, and you will find me prepared — fully prepared — to answer for this man’s action. We’ve seen three —”
“Did ye see my notice-boards?”
“I admit we did; but under the circumstances —”
“I stand in loco parentis.” Prout’s deep voice was added to the discussion. They could hear him pant.
“F’what?” Colonel Dabney was growing more and more Irish.
“I’m responsible for the boys under my charge.”
“Ye are, are ye? Then all I can say is that ye set them a very bad example — a dam’ bad example, if I may say so. I do not own your boys. I’ve not seen your boys, an’ I tell you that if there was a boy grinnin’ in every bush on the place, still ye’ve no shadow of a right here, comin’ up from the combe that way, an’ frightenin’ everything in it. Don’t attempt to deny it. Ye did. Ye should have come to the Lodge an’ seen me like Christians, instead of chasin’ your dam’ boys through the length and breadth of my covers. In loco parentis ye are? Well, I’ve not forgotten my Latin either, an’ I’ll say to you: ‘Quis custodiet ipsos custodes.’ If the masters trespass, how can we blame the boys?”
“But if I could speak to you privately,” said Prout.
“I’ll have nothing private with you! Ye can be as private as ye please on the other side o’ that gate an’— I wish ye a very good afternoon.”