Some of the more shattering moments, embarrassments and embroilments at Simeon Stylites Academy, a New York City day school for boys, are recorded by its headmaster, Meredith, during the tenth year of his tenure. Over and above the chronic canker sores of the school name- and motto, of automatic promotions, of parent protests- and pacification, there is the larger crisis of faculty member Willo Willoughby's beard, which frightens the nursemaids, attracts a charge of un-Americanism. Then too, the pursuit of purity in the English language by Ajax Claxton, a pedant of middle years, takes his crusade and courtship of the widow Smathers (who murders it) into the classroom. Other points on the academic agenda fade, as the battle of the beard proceeds -- to the trustees, an investigation and a final vindication for the school and it occasions some high humor in the lower forms. Fry, a quick man with a quip, has perhaps drawn out and overextended the situation, but it's still a bright and easy form of entertainment.