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Page 104

CHAPTER VIII

sigh. Roman candles spluttered on the further bank and whizz-bangs leaped in fiery pain across the river. Catherine wheels raced round. Rockets banged louder and higher and fresh constellations floated down from heaven. A fire balloon with a label addressed to Eton College, drifted away in the direction of northern Germany. The crowd applauded wildly at each new turn. The band thumped braver and more stirring melodies. A few couples strolled closely away among the trees. Then an enormous set piece sprang into fire and traced the words " FLOREAT ETOVA" in dazzling letters, while the trombones blared out the school song. When all was dark and still a last crackle broke out across the river. On a trellis framework the portraits of their reigning majesties were picked out in silver and gold. The band smashed the last note of the National Anthem, and the Fourth of June was over.
The Baileys hurried with the van of the crowd to catch the last train to Paddington. Denis said good-bye at the door of Wren's. Hodge was waiting to lock up for the night. " A fine Fourth, sir," he remarked. " Yes," said Denis. He climbed the stairs and went to his room. He threw himself on his bed, exhausted. Yes, it had been a fine Fourth. The best he had had. And he was gloriously tired and there was no early school the next morning. He got up and began to undress. His father didn't understand. He was doing all right. He was a success this half and he would explain everything to his father in the holidays. He put his collar stud on the mantelpiece and saw a letter. It was addressed to Denis Bailey, Esq. Inside, " To Denis, from his affectionate father, H. E. B." and a one pound note. Then he hadn't been angry after all.

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