In the Lap of the Gods 24
Life moved on. Lily became well liked by both students and staff because of her cheerful outlook on life. She was friendly but still kept men at a distance which made her even more alluring. Men always want what they cannot have.
The second coincidence was about to fall into place.
"It takes a bit of magic that's all. The clothes make us invisible!" stated Steve. "Just grab a pair of gumboots and a Mac." Apart from thinking his co-conspirator was a screw loose Bycroft asked, "What's a Mac?"
"Oh... a raincoat. It's an English word. Sorry" explained Steve. "We need one each."
"How does that make us invisible? I can still see you."
"I know, it's just a figure of speech; but it is our passport to the orchard. I'll grab a wheelbarrow and then we are all set."
"You seem pretty confident. Are you sure this will work? I can still see you and I don't have a passport!"
God give me strength thought Steve. "Look if you don't want to do it then don't. But don't come to me when I've got the oranges and say, ‘Who will help me eat my cake said the Little Red Hen?' because I won't give you any." Steve turned away.
"Okay! Okay! I'll come," Bycroft decided. "But tell me how do you know this stuff and what's a hen got to do with anything?"
"The best way to be invisible is to blend in with the obvious," Steve stated. "Boys on orchard duty always have gumboots and a Ma... raincoat. I threw in the wheelbarrow as insurance." He could tell Bycroft was dubious so he continued. "It's all a matter of camouflage. Trust me no one will stop us, we're just two boys on orchard duty. They see what they want to see," remonstrated Steve.
The colourless staffroom was quiet except for the ticking of the wall clock. Baldy Bert was marking papers and Ballantyne was reading the afternoon newspaper. Barnett walked in with a swagger. "Cup of tea anyone?"
"Yes I'll have one," mumbled Bert. "I'm trying to get these papers finished before the weekend."
"What do you think of the new blonde seamstress?" Barnett asked innocently. "Quite nice looking don't you think Bert? Might be just what you're looking for. Nice warm bed at night," he added. Bert coloured somewhat and pushed his head down further into his books.
"Yes she is rather pretty I suppose."
"I suppose! What do you mean?" snorted Barnett. "You're besotted old boy."
"I don't know what you're referring to," replied Bert, "but I'd prefer it if you'd stop talking about the woman like that. After all she's the mother of one of my pupils."
Barnett gave him his cup of tea and moved to the window overlooking the quad. "No need to get riled up old boy."
He peered over the top of his bifocals and squinted down into the playground. "I see it's afternoon duty time already. I suppose I'd better get ready for evening prayers after dinner. Got any special requests from God? Love they neighbour? or Do unto seamstresses as you would have them do unto you?"
"Shut up Barnett, you're getting on my nerves," grumbled Bert. "Let me get on with this marking."
"Just making polite conversation that's all." Barnett stared harder out the window watching the two figures moving into the orchard with their wheelbarrow. "Speak of the devil, there's young Morgan now. I thought he was always on kitchen duty," said Barnett not taking his eyes off the boys. "What's he doing going into the orchard? And who's that with him? That's Bycroft," he said tilting his head in confusion. "I'm sure he's on lawns."
"I don't keep track of all the boys' duties," said an exasperated Bert. "I just let them get on with it."
"Well I do!" stated Barnett, "and I'm sure those miscreants are up to no good. I'm going down to check on those two." He reached meaningfully behind the door for his cane.
Just then the penny dropped and Bert was out of his seat in a flash. He took the stairs two at a time and ran from the building.
"What's his hurry?" said Ballantyne. "Off like a rocket."
The boys were well into the orchard now and were picking the last of a couple of dozen oranges. It didn't pay to be too greedy or tarry too long. The cloak of invisibility only had so much magic in it. "I told you we'd get away with it, didn't I?" Steve said full of assurance. "Neatest trick in the book."
Hurrying towards them from the back of the orchard was a frantic Bert; while strolling purposefully towards them from the front, was a determined Barnett. The boys froze as Baldy called to them, "Come this way quickly." He gestured with frenzied hands for them to follow him deeper into the orchard and out through the back. Neither boy had seen Barnett.
"Sir we're on orchard duty," tried Steve standing his ground and looking at Bycroft for confirmation.
"Yes Sir! We have weeding to do, well not actual weeding. Clearing stuff." Bycroft was clutching at straws now and was about to continue digging a deeper hole for himself when Baldy said,
"Just keep going through to the end of the orchard and go out round the back way, Mr Barnett is coming for you from the front. Now go!" he said herding them forward.
The boys looked at each other, looked at Baldy incredulously as if to say why are you doing this? The cloak of invisibility had been penetrated. They dropped the wheelbarrow and took off like a couple of startled rabbits.
"Why did he do that?" asked Bycroft puffing along side Steve as they ran through the trees.
"I don't know, but I'm grateful he did because Barnett would have worked it out that's for sure and then we would have got the speech about the punishment hurting him more than it hurts us."
"Yeah I've heard that one," puffed Bycroft, struggling for breath, "but I think he's got it the wrong way round eh? What do you think?"
Steve wasn't sure if he was serious until he glanced at Bycroft who was waiting expectantly for an answer as they pounded along in their gumboots. Steve drew in a quick breath ready to explain what irony and sarcasm were but then decided it would be wasted so he just said," Yeah, you're right," and looked heavenward for strength. "More running and less talking," he urged. His lungs were burning but he dared not stop until he was safe.
Safe from the fox.
It intrigued him though as to why Baldy had been so supportive. He'd sided with them against another master. Barnett no less. This was the second time he had gone out on a limb to protect him. What on earth could his motive be he thought? What set of circumstances had endeared him to Baldy? Was it the poetry thing? What had changed? And then it dawned on him. The answer came crashing through.
Related Tags: education, friends, school, god, experiences, boarding school, code, rules, shanghai, new zealand, immigration, bullying, revenge, new boy, wesley college, kitchen duty
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