THE PASSIONATE YEAR
By James Hilton
James Hilton (1900— 1954) was born in England and educated at Cambridge where he wrote his first novel, "Catherine Herself". His first big success came with the publication of "Good-bye, Mr. Chips". It was dramatized and filmed. "Lost Horizon" published in 1933 was awarded the Hawthornden Prize. Some of his other books are: "We Are Not Alone" (1937), "Random Harvest" (1941), "Nothing So Strange" (1947), "Time and Time Again" (1953). A resident of the United States since 1935, he died in Long Beach, California.
(Kenneth Speed, B.A., a young Master at Millstead Boarding School for boys, was warned that the first night he takes prep1 he might be ragged2 as it was a sort of school tradition that they always tried to rag teachers that night.
Preparation for the whole school was held in Millstead Big Hall, a huge vault-like chamber in which desks were ranged in long rows and where Master in charge sat on high at a desk on a raised dais.)
Speed was very nervous as he took his seat on the dais at five to seven and watched the school straggling to their places. They came in quietly enough, but there was an atmosphere of subdued expectancy of which Speed was keenly conscious; the boys stared about them, grinned at each other, seemed as if they were waiting for something to happen. Nevertheless, at five past seven all was perfectly quiet and orderly, although it was obvious that little work was being done. Speed felt rather as if he were sitting on a powder-magazine, and there was a sense in which he was eager for the storm to break.
At about a quarter past seven a banging of desk-lids began at the far end of the hall.
He stood up and said, quietly, but in a voice that carried well: "I don't want to be hard on anybody, so I'd better warn you that I shall punish any disorderliness very severely."
There was some tittering, and for a moment or so he wondered if he had made a fool of himself.