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Fenwick Major’s Little ‘un
by [?]

A short to-day,

And no to-morrow:

A winsome wife,

And a mickle sorrow–

Then done was the May

Of my love and my life


[ Edinburgh student lodgings of usual type. ROGER CHIRNSIDE, M.A.; with many books about him, seated at table. JO BENTLEY and “TAD” ANDERSON squabbling by the fireplace.]


Look here, you fellows, if you can’t be quiet, I’ll kick you out of this! How on earth is a fellow to get up “headaches” for his final, if you keep making such a mischief of a row? By giving me a fine one for a sample, do you say? I’ll take less of your sauce, Master Tad, or you’ll get shown out of here mighty quick. Now, not another word out of the heads of you!

[ Chirnside attacks his books again, murmuring intermittently as the others subside for the time.

CHIRNSIDE. Migraine–artery–decussate–wonder what this other fool says ( rustling leaves ). They all contradict one another, and old Rutherland will never believe you when you tell him so.

[ A new quarrel arises at the upper end of the room between Jo Bentley and Tad.

CHIRNSIDE ( starting to his feet ). Lay down that book, Bentley! Do you hear? I know Tad is a fool, and needs his calf’s head broken. But do it with another book–Calderhead’s Mind and Matter, or T. and T. –anything but that. Take the poker or anything! But lay down that book. Do you hear me, Bentley?

[ The book is laid down.

CHIRNSIDE ( continuing ). What am I in such a funk about? No, it’s not because it is a Bible, though a Bible never makes a good missile. I always keep an Oliver and Boyd on purpose–one of the old leather-backed kind that never wears out, even when half the leaves are ripped out for pipe-lights.

[ Tad Anderson asks a question.

Why am I so stung up about that book? Tell you fellows? Well, I don’t mind knocking off a bit and giving you the yarn. That Bible belonged to Fenwick Major. Never heard of Fenwick Major! What blessed ignorant chickens you must be! Where were you brought up?

[ Chirnside slowly lights his pipe before speaking again.

Well–I entered with Fenwick Major when I came up as a first year’s man in Arts. I was green as grass, or as you fellows last year. Not that you know much yet, by the way.

Now, drop that Medical Ju, Bentley! Hand me the Lancet. It makes good pipe-lights–about all it’s good for. Oh–Fenwick Major? Well ( puff-puff-puff ), he came up to college with me. Third-class carriage–our several maters at the door weeping–you know the kind of thing. Fenwick’s governor prowling about in the background with a tenner in an envelope to stick in through the window. His mother with a new Bible and his name on the first leaf. I had no governor and no blooming tenner. Only my old mater told me to spend my bursary as carefully as I could, and not to disgrace my father’s memory. Then something took me, and I wanted to go over to the other side of the compartment and look out at the window. Good old lady, mine, as ever they make them. Ever felt that way, fellows?