"My name is not Porko von Popbutton." Pat stamped his foot in anger. "It's Pat O'Sullivan Pinkerton! And there's no touch of anything...." The gong bonged, and he lost his train of thought.
"Follow me, Porko," said Jim Finger. "I'll lead you to the horse trough. And remember, no body checking in the dining hall."
They ran down the halls, then slowed down when they reached the top of the main staircase. A stiff tradition at President Coolidge School insisted that "young gentlemen walk downstairs one at a time, slowly." When they reached ground level, they again raced through the halls and out the side entrance, body checking each other as they ran, bellowing war whoops about beating the Queen. Body checking is a defensive move in hockey in which a player either rams his shoulder into his opponent's body to break up a play or simply to send the opponent sprawling. A few boys tried body checking Pat O'Sullivan Pinkerton, but they bounced off and came out worse than Pat, who chugged straight on toward dinner.
The dining hall was in a pretty white wood building with white shutters. It first looked to Pat O'Sullivan Pinkerton like a moist coconut layer cake, and he was so hungry he didn't bother to shake off the picture and correct it.
Then a terrible thing happened. Just as Pat reached the dining hall the boys turned right and ran around to the back of the building and up a nasty steep hill that was slippery and gnarled with roots. The top of this hill overlooked Lake Brown Bear. Once at the top the boys lined up facing the lake. There was a hushed silence, then they bowed and shouted "BEAT THE QUEEN!" The cheer bounced off surrounding mountains, echoing three times:
BEAT THE QUEEN!
BEAT THE QUEEN!
BEAT THE QUEEN!
They then plummeted down the hill helter-skelter—tripping, rolling, tumbling, screaming—picked them-selves up and barreled around the white building and back up the hill. They repeated the run not once, not twice, but three times. Pat O'Sullivan Pinkerton, who had been up front at first, was now grunting and gasping, far behind. He was with four other new boys—all chubby, all red with rage, all fit to be tied.
The tables in the dining hall seated nine—eight boys, four on either side, and a master at the head. When the boys finally came to a stop at the dining-room door, they were assigned to their seats for eating. The fastest arrived first and, being the best athletes, they had the privilege of sitting at what was known as "Tilly's Table." Mr. George Tilghman was both headmaster of President Coolidge School and head coach of the hockey team. This was his table, and it was raised a step higher than the others. Jim Finger sat at Tilly's Table, and he and the seven other boys wore superior faces as they looked down at the lesser tables filling up.
Pat O'Sullivan Pinkerton and the four bulgy leftovers—all shiny with sweat—were seated last. They were assigned to a table at the head of which sat Mademoiselle R�gime, a French nurse who was head of the infirmary and supervisor of the kitchen. She looked tall and strict. She sat straight as a West Pointer, and she had a proud nose like Charles de Gaulle's. Watching Pat O'Sullivan Pinkerton pull out two chairs to sit on, she slowly shook her head and said in an accent as French as soft Camembert cheese, "Zees weel nevair do, mon ami. We must queekly theen you down to one chair!" To Pat it sounded like the voice of doom.
At home his chair legs were sawed off low so that his mouth would be closer to his food. Here he was sitting high, with his fat legs wedged under the table, and he could hardly see his plate beyond his tummy.