I hope you enjoy chapter 4 of The Missing Papers: A St Andrews Adventure. Things are beginning to hot up!
The debating society’s open night was being held in one of the big lecture theatres. It was one of the biggest on campus, and only having been at the university for one day and not having set foot in the theatres Julian and David were slightly awestruck at the size and the style of the room. It was set out so there were two tiers and desks had been arranged on the floor so the teams were sat facing each other. There was a lectern at the front and another table where the judging panel would make sure the rules were kept and the whole debate did not get out of hand. Julian raised an eyebrow at David as they were ushered into the seats for the audience. There weren’t many people in the hall at that moment, so spotting Darrell and Sally was not hard; they were sitting with two other girls chatting animatedly.
“Sit in the next row forward, we can always turn around and talk to them without being too intrusive,” David suggested to Julian.
Julian nodded and made his away along the row of seats so they were positioned just in front of Darrell and Sally. Darrell leant forward as the boys settled into their seats and gave Julian a tap on the shoulder.
“What are you sitting down there for?” she asked grinning.
“It makes it easier to have a conversation, and we didn’t want to interrupt your your.” Julian said nodding politely to the two other girls with them.
Darrell laughed a little. “You two are probably two of the politest people I could ever imagine!” she said smiling to herself and Sally grinned a little. “Let me introduce you to our friends from school,” she added leaning back and motioning to the two girls sat beside her.
“This is Alicia Johns,” Darrell continued, pointing to the girl next to her, who nodded with a wicked twinkle in her eyes. “And this is Betty Hill. They’re in the same halls as us.”
“Pleasure to meet you,” Julian said nodding at the two girls. David added his greeting and a nod as well.
“So you all went to the same school then?” David asked conversationally.
The girls nodded in unison. “We were all in the same house tower, except for Betty here,” Alicia said grinning. “Our headmistress seemed to think we’d cause too much trouble if we were in the same house,” she said chuckling. Betty laughed as well.
“What is a house tower?” Julian asked puzzled. Darrell and Sally hadn’t really filled David and himself in on what their school had been like.
“Oh yes, there were four towers where the dormitories and common rooms were, and the houses were organised by the direction the towers faced,” Sally explained. “Darrell, Alicia and I were in North tower, and Betty was in the West Tower.”
The boys nodded in understanding. “Interesting way of sorting out houses, but it makes perfect sense I suppose. If you’ve got the towers why not use them to your advantage instead of making things twice as complicated,” Julian said smiling.
They all laughed as more people filed into the hall and took their seats. The debating team were standing in a group and chatting down on the floor.
“I’ve heard you have to be really good at debating for them to even consider letting you on the team. It’s very competitive,” Alicia said mildly. “Great socials though,” she added winking at everyone.
Sally, who was sitting back out of Alicia’s eye line, rolled her eyes as Alicia’s implication that the debating club wasn’t as civilised as it appeared. Of course Alicia would be enjoying the new-found freedom more than any of them. She and Betty would be out at parties and socials all the time. Sally privately wondered if Alicia would make it through the first year and if she’d struggle with the work load. Sally’s jealousy towards Alicia was one of her biggest failings and try as she might she couldn’t get away from it. Ever since the second form, she had not got on with Alicia and couldn’t find a way to like her. Sally hated that she was jealous when Alicia and Darrell got too close, but she couldn’t seem to help it. She tried ever so hard to rub alongside Alicia as smoothly as possible but at the end of the day the two of them were too different to ever become good friends. Sally wondered if she could draw the boys into a conversation, while Alicia and Betty seemed to be holding Darrell’s attention, but for the moment, David and Julian were politely joining in the conversation.
Shaking herself a little, Sally regained her composure and entered the conversation again, trying to remain her usual upbeat self.
They chatted idly for a while, discussing courses until the debating teams were all sat in their places and the judge took his place.
People that Julian recognised from around campus and his one lecture were in the room, waiting for the debating to start. The tall boy who had almost run into his physics professor earlier that day; the same one who had almost knocked Sally over too, was sitting a little way off to his right, looking disinterested; as if he was merely there for something to do.
Julian once more found himself wondering about the boy. He had to be intelligent to be doing physics at St Andrews but even if there was a lot of anti-foreigner feeling in Britain right now, why play up to it? Why not prove people wrong and show them that not every eastern European was the same and supported the communists that now controlled their homes. Julian pursed his lips as he thought, his quick mind running over a number of different possibilities. His silence was noticed by David, who had tired of the girls’ chatter. He followed Julian’s gaze and then rolled his eyes.
“I shouldn’t worry over him,” he said bringing Julian back to the present. “He’ll only end up frustrating you,” he added, with an air of experience to his voice.
“Yes. You’re right of course,” Julian said shaking his head to clear the boy from his mind. “It’s just that he’s a mystery wrapped up in himself, and I’ve never really been able to resist a mystery,” he admitted to David, who chuckled.
“Is this why you’re studying physics?” David teased.“For all the mysteries that are still out there, you chose to explore the ones that can be scrutinised for ages to come?”
Julian chuckled dryly. “I suppose you could put it like that. Physics is just something I’m good at if I’m honest. I would rather be doing something of a more practical nature. I had considered going into the police,” he admitted to David, as the debating teams looked around, waiting for silence from its audience. Julian gave a quick smile, and a nod towards the front of the hall. David followed his glance, nodded and grinned, before sitting back in his seat.
A good two hours later, the meeting had finished and the students trooped out of the lecture theatre and headed in different directions.
“It’s only nine thirty,” Alicia said looking at her watch. “How about a drink in the Student’s union?” she asked a gleam in her eye.
“Sounds like a good idea,” Betty chimed in with. “That wasn’t as exciting as I thought it would be,” she added rolling her eyes. Darrell was checking her watch, and glanced sideways at Sally.
“I’ve got an early start tomorrow, so if you don’t mind I think I’ll pass,” Sally said feeling uncomfortable around Alicia. She hated that her jealousy of the girl could just switch on whenever it felt like it, she found it so hard to turn off as well. Sally didn’t want to make things difficult for Darrell, so she decided that an early night would be the best idea. She was still tired after her long journey up to Scotland the day before.
Alicia looked expectantly at the boys. David and Julian, feeling it would be rude to decline to the people who could potentially be new friends, nodded.
“What about you Darrell?” Alicia asked.
Darrell looked at Sally, who smiled reassuringly. “Don’t look at me. Go if you want to,” Sally said generously hoping that she wouldn’t attract too much of Alicia’s attention with this fairly neutral remark.
“Alright, I’ll come then Alicia,” Darrell said giving Sally a little smile. Sally returned the smile.
“Well have fun at the students’ union everyone,” Sally said turning on her heel and making to walk off to her halls.
“I’ll walk you back,” Julian offered, feeling suddenly chivalrous towards this strange blonde girl; there was something about her that reminded him of Berta Wright, slightly stubborn and forth right but underneath the front, slightly scared.
Sally looked like she was about to protest but then relented. “Thank you. That would be very kind,” she said feeling a slight blush in her cheeks.
“I’ll meet you there.” Julian turned to the others and said over his shoulder as he took a step towards Sally. Sally smiled over her shoulder at the others as Julian waited for her to start walking. Darrell, Alicia, Betty and David said their good nights and turned to follow Alicia to the students union.
When it was just the two of them, Julian turned to look at Sally. She was a good few inches shorter than his six-foot, but that made her quite a tall young lady. She had a determined look on her face as they walked.
“Pardon me for asking, but why do I get the feeling that you are not altogether keen on Alicia, was that her name?” Julian asked as they walked through the quietening streets to University Halls where Sally was boarding.
“Oh, nothing really,” Sally said quietly. “Just that she can be rather hard and there have been times where she has made me feel like I’m competing for Darrell’s friendship,” Sally explained. “I just get a little jealous of her sometimes that’s all really,” she said with a sigh.
Julian nodded at the satisfactory answer that Sally had given him. “If you don’t mind me saying, it sounds rather more that you are jealous that Darrell pays her so much attention,” he said shrewdly.
“Has anyone told you that you should be a detective?” Sally said with a touch of sarcasm in her voice.
Julian shrugged. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to cause offence, but that was just how it sounded to me,” he said pursing his lips. Sally sighed and looked up at him.
“I’m the one who should be sorry,” she said sadly. “For me it is a rather touchy subject. I try not to let it show, but sometimes I just can’t help myself. Alicia can infuriate me at the drop of a hat, and she knows that she can annoy me.” Sally folded her arms across her chest as a cool breeze whipped around the buildings. Julian saw this and pulled off his blazer.
“Here,” he said handing it to her. “It’s not far, but you look a little chilly,” he said maybe a tad gruffer that he should have.
Sally looked from the blazer to Julian and then back at the blazer. “I couldn’t, you’ll get cold,” she pointed out, slightly confused to his motivation.
Julian shrugged. “I’ve got a jumper on as well as shirt,” he pointed out pulling at the jumper that he was wearing. “And you’ve only got a blouse on.” He pushed the blazer into her hands and waited for Sally to put it on.
“Thank you,” Sally said quietly as she pulled the blazer on over her blouse, secretly glad of the warmth. She had come out to the debate meeting thinking that it would be warm when she got out, because the day had been so warm. Sally could have kicked herself when she remembered that it was the middle of September and that the nights were getting colder.
“You really didn’t have to walk me back to my halls,” she said a moment later as they walked on.
“It’s really not a problem,” Julian said with a sudden grin. “I needed some fresh air after that debate meeting, and plus you looked like you could use someone to talk to,” he teased her. Sally chuckled a little at his teasing.
“It’s honestly very kind of you,” she said smiling. Then as the continued in palatable silence for a few moments, Sally remembered a fact that had been nudging at her mind from the first time that day that Darrell had mentioned Julian’s name to her.
“You’ve been in the papers haven’t you?” Sally said sneaking a side look at him. “I’ve seen your name printed in the paper, I’m sure of it!”
Julian looked back at her, smiling a little; more amused than anything else. “You caught me,” he said, laughing a little. “Yes, I did make it into the papers once or twice,” he said quietly. “Just don’t go banding it around,” he added sternly.
Sally laughed, “Gosh, I can’t think how many times I’ve read your name in the paper, a fair few that’s for sure. No wonder your name seemed so familiar when Darrell told me it this morning and not just because of your uncle.”
Julian rolled his eyes. “Well at least you remembered when we weren’t in front of a great crowd of people. It’s bad enough that I’m being recognised as my uncle’s nephew,” he said quietly. “I don’t want to be seen as that boy who’s been in the paper a few times,” he said pointedly to Sally.
“Oh don’t worry, I won’t breathe a word!” Sally said honestly. “Promise. It must be horrible to be defined in any way by ones relatives or achievements in the paper.” She let out a giggle, “so you really found some priceless pieces of artwork stored in a cave on an island?” she asked unable to control herself.
Julian had to laugh. “Yes, we did. Well technically my brother Dick did. He was the first one to find them,” he said, still laughing as they reached Sally’s halls.
Sally chuckled. “You will have to subject to twenty questions sooner or later, I hope you realise this,” she said, smiling, as they stood on the step of her halls.
“Another day maybe, privately,” Julian added, chuckling. “I may let you.”
Sally chuckled and handed him back his blazer. “Thank you for walking me back to halls, and for lending me your blazer,” shesaid quietly, as she pulled her keys out of her pocket and lent on the door into the halls.
“It’s not a problem,” Julian said taking his blazer back and folding it over his arm. He looked down at her. “Sleep well, and I have no doubt that I’ll be seeing you at some point tomorrow,” he added with a grin.
“Oh you will,” Sally said chuckling. “I think Darrell’s adopted you and David. You’ll be stuck with us now,” she teased.
“I can think of worse people to be stuck with,” Julian said with a wink. He turned on his heel and walked down the steps. “Goodnight,” he said, turning at the foot of the steps and raising his hand to wave to her. Sally raised her own hand as she watched Julian head off back the way they had come to the student’s union. Sally turned back to the door, pushed it open, and went inside and up to her room.
Sally slept well that night, tired out with one thing and another. She was barely aware of Darrell getting back to the room, and didn’t even stir when Darrell dropped her hairbrush. Sally heard nothing until her small alarm clock went off at seven in the morning. She sat upright and turned off the small clock. She glanced over at Darrell’s bed, and allowed herself a small smile when she saw her best friend had a pillow over her face with her hands holding it in place.
Darrell groaned as she heard Sally get up and start to potter around. She heard her friend go out of the room, and Darrell assumed that Sally had gone to the shower room to get ready for the day. Darrell pulled the pillow off of her face and turned her head to look at her own little clock. She squinted at the clock face; her eyes were still a little blurry. She had a lecture in two hours and breakfast started in half an hour. Darrell groaned and dragged herself out of bed. She had never been much of a drinker, so the two half pints she’d had last night had hit her quite hard. She reached for her glass on her bedside table and remembered as she gulped down the water that she had some aspirin in her desk drawer.
Darrell was half awake and on her third glass of water of the morning when Sally came back to the room, dressed and read to leave for breakfast.
“Morning,” Sally said smirking at her best friend. “Did you have fun at the students’ union last night?” she asked as she leant over her desk to check her bag for lectures. “I say, I didn’t mean to wake you this morning,” she added suddenly looked pained. “I forgot that my alarm clock was so loud!”
Darrell grimaced slightly. “The students’ union was fine. Though I’m not sure I’m suited to alcohol. I didn’t wake you when I came in last night did I? I tried to be as quiet as possible.”
“You didn’t wake me at all. I slept like a lamb,” Sally said reassuringly. “Are you coming to breakfast?” she asked sitting down on her bed to tie her shoelaces.
“Yes I am. Give me a second will you? I just need to freshen up,” Darrell said grabbing her sponge bag and heading out of the door.
Sally smiled at the closed door for a moment. She shook her head and picked up the book she was reading, one she’d left on her bedside table last night. She flicked the book open at the page she had been reading and carried on, waiting for Darrell to return.
Darrell was back and ready to go five minutes later and the girls hurried down to the breakfast hall in the main building, the smell of eggs and bacon wafting their way as soon as they’d opened the big doors. Darrell felt her stomach growl longingly. Sally looked at her and giggled.
“You look like you could a decent breakfast,” she teased her friend.
Darrell laughed a little. “I could do with a nice big plate of egg and bacon, it’s true,” she said as they joined the queue for breakfast. As the girls waited to be served Darrell suddenly remembered that Julian had walked Sally back to their halls the night before.
“So what did you and Julian talk about when he walked you back last night?” Darrell asked Sally quietly as they picked up trays and cutlery.
Sally looked up at Darrell and smiled. “Oh nothing much as it happens, just about the debate society, courses, things like that. He’s very nice,” Sally tagged on to the end, hoping that it would be enough to deter Darrell from asking questions. Sally would keep her promise to Julian about not telling his secret, but sometimes it was hard for her to keep secrets from her best friend. Fortunately for Sally, Darrell was far too hungry to push the matter. As the girls moved down the line and paid for their food, Darrell, who had been scanning the food hall, spotted Julian and David on a table a little way off, talking over their own breakfasts.
As Darrell was watching them, and waiting for Sally to pay, David, looked up and around from where he was sitting and spotted her. He smiled and waved her over, then nudged Julian and nodded over to where Darrell and Sally were. Darrell smiled and started towards the table, followed by Sally.
“Good morning,” Darrell said as she placed her tray down next to Julian’s.
“Morning,” Julian and David said at the same time. Sally put her tray down next to David and picked up a fork.
“Did you two have a good time at the students’ union last night then?” Sally asked as she scooped some scrambled egg up onto her fork. She looked at Darrell who as sipping her orange juice.
“It was fair decent,” David said shrugging. “Nothing to write home about,” he said with a small grin. “That friend of yours, Alicia, she’s a strange one alright,” he added shaking his head.
Julian smiled, “She was convinced she could trick the bar staff into giving her free drinks by a simple game of cards.”
“It didn’t work,” Darrell added when she saw Sally’s face. “It was a trick she had learned from one of her brothers and she had had one too many at the time, so it wasn’t quite working the way she had planned.” Sally allowed herself a small smirk.
“Did you two get back to St Salvator’s alright last night?” Darrell asked. “It was very decent of you two to make sure I got back alright last night,” she added bashfully.
“It was no problem,” Julian said smiling. “Couldn’t have you two wandering around the university at that time of night. It’s not as safe as it might seem.”
Darrell raised an eyebrow at him. “Are you suggesting that we couldn’t look after ourselves if it came down to it?”
“No! Of course not,” Julian said honestly. “Just that it’s nice to know that you two are safe back in halls than wandering around campus late at night.”
David added a little nod. Darrell, still looking unconvinced, sat back in her seat and sighed a little.
“Alright. I’m sorry for getting all up in arms at you,” she said a second later. She could see his point very well, and it wasn’t as if the boys knew them very well. It was sort of nice to feel like you were being looked after and that there would be someone there to make sure you were alright. She smiled at David and Julian, who smiled back.
“So when are your lectures today?” David asked after a moment of silence. The girls were still eating their breakfasts, and not needing to rush off to a different part of the university campus before their first lecture at ten, the boys had nowhere they needed to be.
“I’ve got one at nine,” Sally said as she finished her food. “Medieval history,” she said. “Then straight on to politics and literature in the eighteenth century.”
“Sound thoroughly boring to me, no offence,” David said smiling. “But then everyone is different. We’ve got physics and practical application at ten,” he added pulling a face.
“More bombs?” Sally asked with an overly sweet tone.
Julian raised an eyebrow at her and shook his head. “Not sure yet,” he said simply.
Sally smirked to herself and Julian shook his head at her.
“Physics is not just about bombs, you know,” he said as Darrell started laughing.
“Moving on from bombs?” David suggested shaking his head at Julian and Sally. “What’s your first lecture Darrell?” he asked pointedly. The all shared smirks at David’s way of discouraging an argument.
“I’m off to early language,” Darrell said smiling. “And then I’ve got nineteenth century literature. So it looks like we’ve all got morning lectures then,” she added smiling. “What time do you two finish your lecture?” she asked the boys.
“We finish at one I think,” Julian said looking at David for confirmation, who nodded.
“Smashing,” Darrell said chuckling as she used her little sister’s favourite word.
“My brother likes saying that,” Julian said laughing. “He went through a summer where every other word of his was smash or smashing. It got boring very quickly,” he added raising an eyebrow.
Darrell laughed as well, “my little sister uses it. She spent a good year or so using it when she was in the first form.”
“She still does,” Sally said laughing. “I can only assume that my little sister will start saying it at some point as well,” she said pulling a face.
“So how many years are there between you and your sisters?” David asked Sally and Darrell.
“Well there is three years between me and Felicity.” Darrell said smiling, “She joined Malory towers when I was in the upper fourth, studying for my school cert.”
“Surely that should make her four years younger than you?” Julian asked looking confused.
“No, she is really just three years younger than me. She was ill for a while and then they couldn’t find room for her, so she waited a year before coming to Malory towers.” Darrell explained smiling. “So it really is three years,” she assured Julian earnestly.
Julian laughed. “Alright, I believe you.”
“What about your little sister Sally?” David asked.
“Daffy’s about twelve years younger than me,” Sally said resting her head on her hand. “She was only a baby when I started at Malory Towers. She’s awfully clever and sweet though,” she said smiling. “Though I was a beast to her when she was born. I was jealous, thought I’d be pushed out thanks to the new baby,” she said sorrow in her voice. “It took Darrell shoving me over a music stool and appendicitis to make me realise that it was never the case,” she admitted quietly.  Darrell smiled encouragingly at Sally over the table.
“Well sometimes it takes something like that to help put things in perspective,” David said comfortingly. Sally gave him a thankful smile; she looked down at her watch and sighed.
“Come on Darrell, we better get moving, otherwise we’ll be late for lectures. We don’t have the luxury of a ten am start like these two. Shall we meet you back here when we’re all finished with lectures?” she said laughing as she stood up, swung her bag over her shoulder and lifted up her breakfast tray. Darrell followed suit.
“Sounds like a plan,” David said nodding at the girls as they walked away to drop their trays off and go to their lectures.
Julian sat back in his seat and moved his cutlery around his plate and looked at David. “Do you think we have time to walk down to the town and get a paper?” he asked glancing at the large clock on the wall of the dining hall.
David wasn’t convinced. “I’m not sure. I wouldn’t think so,” he said sitting back. “We could go after we’ve met the girls at one,” he said as a compromise.
Julian nodded. “Yes, you’re probably right,” he said smiling a little. Julian looked around the dining hall as David pulled out a book from his bag. Julian noted several familiar faces, but the one that really stuck out for him was the one of the eastern European boy in his physics class. The boy was sitting alone a couple of tables away, his usual frown in place as he ate. Julian watched him for a moment as the boy turned over a page in his book and carried on reading. Julian felt a shiver down his spine; the boy really did put him on edge and made him uneasy. He disliked feeling on edge, and it wasn’t something he felt very often, there were only a few times where he had been properly uneasy in his life and sitting in the middle of a dining hall considering another young man, before now, had not been one of them.
Julian looked back at the table, but couldn’t help feel uneasy about the boy sitting not twenty yards away from him. David looked up from his book as some loud boys sat down on their table a few seats away from Julian and himself. David looked up at Julian and raised an eyebrow as the boys started acting the fool.
“Well you can take some people out of school…” Julian muttered to David, raising his own eyebrow. David let out a little snort.
“Too right,” David said running his finger down the page in his book to find his place again. Julian smiled a little. He was feeling restless; he felt like he needed to do something physical to be able to settle down. Swimming was an option, though the sea might be a little too cold this time of year; winter sports like rugby were being played now of course, and St Andrews was well-known for its superb rugby team. Julian was sure he had seen a poster somewhere around campus advertising try outs for the team. Deciding that rugby would be a good avenue of sport to choose, Julian made a mental note to try to find out exactly when the try outs were and go off to those. He’d always liked rugby, it was good fun.
The boys next to them were beginning to get sillier and sillier to the point where one of them started throwing food at another. A stray piece of sausage landed in front of David on the pages of his book. He looked up and raised an eyebrow, before lobbing the sausage piece back in the general direction it had come from. One of the boys who was being less rowdy than the others leant over to Julian and David and spoke to them in a quiet voice.
“Sorry about that,” he said smiling, “They’re a bit excited, first week back and all that.” He sounded quite upper class, his voice was smooth and haughty to a certain extent but there was an element within it that could quiet easily put someone at ease. “I’m Thomas Ainsworth by the way,” he added holding out a hand to shake. Both boys shook it and introduced themselves.
“We met on the train,” Julian said, shaking the boys hand. “You came into our compartment.”
“Oh yes, so I did. How are you settling in?” Thomas asked moving away from his group of friends for a moment.
“Most excellently thank you,” David replied for both of them.
“First year is the best,” Thomas said smiling, “It’s relatively easy. What subject are you taking?”
“We’re both taking physics,” Julian said carefully resisting the urge not to roll his eyes. He had told this Ainsworth this once already after all. He was also not sure that he should completely open up to this new person. Something was telling him not to trust this man as easily as he used to trust people. David on the other hand was a bit more open to new people.
“So you’ve got Old Dotty then?” Thomas asked sitting back in his chair, lounging being the word to describe his posture.
“Which professor is Old Dotty?” Julian asked, his curiosity getting the better of him and leaning forward with interest.
Thomas smiled at the interest he had managed to kindle. “Professor Doaty. He’s the really old professor, glasses? Looks a bit like he’s had an electric shock or two,” he smiled. “He’s immensely clever. He told us that he’s working on a huge project, real top-secret stuff with another scientist. It’s very interesting I gather.” Thomas smiled like the cat that had caught the cream.
“Of course he’s not allowed to tell us what this project is; you never know who might be listening,” Thomas said significantly, his eyes flashing over to the boy from their physics class meaningfully. Julian and David followed his gaze and David raised an eyebrow. Both boys didn’t argue. It was true that people were warning them to be careful what they said and who they said it to; these were strange times. As they turned back to Thomas, he and his friends were getting up.
“Got to head off to my class now, nice talking to you though,” he said smirking before turning on his heel and following his friends out of the dining hall.
Julian turned to David and raised an eyebrow.
“What a peculiar fellow,” he remarked, sitting back in his seat and blinking a few times.
“Yes, very peculiar,” David agreed, “In so far as to say, why talk to us about the professor’s work and then mention that you should be careful who you talk to. It just doesn’t make sense,” He said rubbing his nose. He sighed and shook his head. “Well, people confuse me a lot of time. It’s a good thing I’m not interested in what makes them confusing, otherwise I am clearly doing the wrong degree.”
“Of course, if you were interested in how people becoming confusing,” Julian said teasingly. “You really should have taken psychology,” he said with a chuckle. David laughed and shook his head.
“Oh the wonders of the human mind,” he said with a sigh and a laugh, “And how glad I am that I study physics. At least most of physics can be proven,” he said laughing. Julian looked down at his watch, smirking at David’s comment.
“We have an hour. Do you really want to sit in the dining hall for that time?” Julian asked pointedly. “Or do you think it would be worth going for a walk around the campus?” he asked smirking. David rolled his eyes and sighed.
“I suppose you can’t help it really, having a famous uncle and all that must make you very adventurous. Do you ever sit still?” David asked jokingly, poking fun. The boys were getting to a stage where they felt comfortable enough to joke with one another. Julian rolled his eyes at David as he stood up and pulled his satchel straps over his shoulders. David obligingly followed suit.
The boys walked around the main campus, discovering little back passages, unused stairs and many of the little quirks about St Andrews that don’t get shown on the initial tours around the campus. Whereas there were many different campuses controlled by St Andrews the main one was the most fascinating to the boys. The boys had already noted the letters PH built into the cobble stones outside their halls of residence, where protestant martyrs had been burnt at the stake. The PH, the boys had discovered, had been the name of one of the more prominent martyrs in 1528 who was named Patrick Hamilton. The boys had also been told by their senior resident that if any student stepped on the letters that they would be cursed and fail their degree. Julian and David had also been enlightened that the only way to cancel out the effects of the curse was to take part in the May Dip on the first day of May at sunrise. Both Julian and David had scoffed a little at the idea that there could be a curse but at the same time vowed to themselves not to step on the PH outside their halls.
As ten am crept closer Julian and David made their way to their science lab, loaded up with a few more books for research and even more determined to explore every inch of St Andrews as was humanly possible.
“There has to be at least one secret passage somewhere!” Julian had said laughing a little as they stood outside their classroom.
David smiled.“What is it with you and secret passages?” he asked with a laugh.
Julian shrugged. “Call it curiosity,” he said, laughing, as they walked into the room and took their places.
David laughed as he put his bag on the floor. “I wonder what joy we’ll be studying today,” he said mildly, pulling out a pad of paper and his pen.
“It will probably be a continuation of last week,” Julian said doodling on the corner of his page as the professor clattered in, paper flying everywhere and his glasses all askew. Julian and David smirked at each other.
“Right, now boys,” said the professor in his quavery voice, “you will be put into groups of three so you can carry out this next experiment, which you will then write-up for assessment.” The professor then stared out of the window for a second, before giving himself a little shake and turned back to the boys in front of him.
“Now, your names have been grouped on this list. I’ll put it on the front table for you to all come and check before you start your experiments,” he said in a matter of fact tone. “The trolley with the equipment will be along shortly. While you wait for that, I shall write the experiment up on the board for you,” he said putting the list down on the front desk and moving away to the blackboard. There was a sudden scramble as boys from all the tables moved from their seats, stools scraping on the linoleum floor. David and Julian followed suit and headed up to the front desk. When they finally got to see the piece of paper, they noticed that they were in a group together another young man who could only be the young foreign chap they had seen around campus so much.
“Anthony Pilkington.” Julian read out only loud enough for David to hear. David looked at him with a raised eyebrow. They had both been sure that this chap, who looked like some sort of Russian, had been, well, Russian. Julian shrugged a little and went back to their desk.
Anthony was already seated at the end of the boys desk, scribbling down what the professor had put up on the board. He gave the boys a weak smile as they sat down and started to write down the practical instructions as well.
It wasn’t until they were actually trying to set up the experiment that the boys realised that although his name suggested otherwise, Anthony Pilkington was indeed not from Britain. His thick eastern European accent shone through his carefully crafted British accent. David and Julian had to stop themselves a few times from asking him questions on where he was from.
The boys set to work on their experiment without a fuss, mostly in silence. There was no need to rush, they felt that they had plenty of time. The experiment was simple enough, but the results took a long time to collect.
It took until one pm for the class to finish and write-up their results. As they trooped out of the laboratory, they handed their papers to the professor who was busy scribbling something down on a piece of paper as they left and would no doubt forget the papers and not mark them.
As they walked to the dining hall to meet Sally and Darrell, David and Julian took the chance to discuss their findings, their write-up and Anthony.
“He seemed fairly decent,” David allowed as they pushed open the doors to the dining hall. “I mean, apart from his accent, there didn’t seem anything really different about him did there?”
Julian shrugged at this. “I’m not too sure,” he said truthfully. “I mean he’s trying to blend in and his English is fairly good, but there’s just something about him that sends a shiver down my spine. There’s something hard about him.” David nodded, he knew what Julian meant by that.
“He’s got a hard look in his eyes as well, which doesn’t help,” David said as he looked around for the girls. Julian shrugged as if to say to David that he didn’t have any ideas about their lab partner of the day.
“I would say,” David said after a minute as they looked around the hall for the girls. “The thing that most gives him away is the fact that when he does speak, his English is almost too perfect,” he said shaking his head. Julian allowed himself a small smile.
“I don’t think the girls are here yet,” he said looking around the hall. “At least, I can’t see them. We might as well sit down and wait for them.”
“Good idea,” said David. “Maybe we should go and wait by the door so we catch them.” Julian nodded and they turned back to the big doors to wait for the girls. They found themselves a suitable place and settled down. They watched people move drift in and out of the hall, the doors never seemed to stop moving.
Five minutes later Darrell made her way through the doors and spotted the boys.
“Sorry I’m a little bit late, the lecturer wouldn’t let us leave until he’d finished reading from his notes,” she said shrugging her bag off her shoulder and dropping it to the ground as she sat down. “How was your lesson? Manage to blow anything up?” she teased.
“Ha ha,” Julian said dryly. “No, we didn’t blow anything up actually,” he said as David chuckled. Darrell smiled as she looked around.
“Have you two not seen Sally around then?” she asked raising an eyebrow. The boys shook their heads. “Strange,” Darrell said shrugging a little. “Sally’s usually so prompt.”
These characters really live, Stef – another excellent instalment of a great story.