While playing hare and hounds, Winston experienced another miracle in his life: he survived an attempt to leap from a bridge to the top of a fir tree, but the twenty-nine foot fall ruptured his kidney. The Times grossly understated the extent of the injury when it reported that “he was very much shaken and bruised.” His parents spared no expense in providing the best medical care but he was six weeks in recovery and should have been longer.
In My Early Life, Churchill related a joke told around the Carlton Club at the time: “I hear Randolph’s son met with a serious accident.” “Yes?” “Playing a game of ‘Follow my Leader…. Well, Randolph is not likely to come to grief in that way!”
On 20 January Winston heard that he had once again failed the examination for entrance into Sandhurst. Lord Randolph considered apprenticing his son with Rothschild or Cassel, but was convinced by Rev. Weldon that the boy would pass the next attempt. He was sent to the “Blue Ribbon of Crammers,” Captain Walter H James, who, Churchill later wrote, could predict “with almost Papal infallibility the sort of question which that sort of person would be bound on the average to ask on any of the selected subjects.” Winston was a challenge even for Captain James. On 7 March James wrote Lord Randolph: “I think the boy means well but he is distinctly inclined to be inattentive and to think too much of his abilities … and … he has been rather too much inclined up to the present to teach his instructors instead of endeavouring to learn from them.” Captain James was not amused when Winston told him that he knew enough history and did not want any more teaching in it!