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Apollo's Soldiers
by Margo Fallis
Chapter 12


Murray ran into the cafeteria. “Duncan isn’t at school.”

Leith finished his sip of milk. “What? Was he in bed when you got home last night?”

“I don’t know. I was so tired I fell asleep without checking. He wasn’t in class today. Professor Rutherford was worried and is going to check with the Headmaster during lunch. We need to talk to Professor Wilson and have him make up an excuse. He said he would help us.”

The boys gulped down the rest of their ham sandwiches and potato crisps and rushed up to the professor’s class. He welcomed them as usual. Leith pulled out the items they had picked up at Lindisfarne Island and at Edinburgh Castle. They told him all the events of the weekend, except didn’t mention the dungeon.

Professor Wilson picked up the telephone and rang Professor Rutherford. The boys listened as he told Duncan’s teacher that he had kept the lad with him for one of his classes and asked if he could keep Duncan and Murray for the rest of the day. He promised he would have them both in class tomorrow. “That was close,” Professor Wilson said, hanging up the phone.

“What was?” Sandy squirmed in his chair.

“He wasn’t happy with me for not letting him know about Duncan earlier, but I got out of it. Murray, you are off the hook too.” The professor winked at him. Murray still did not trust Professor Wilson but thanked him anyway. “You boys had a busy weekend. The only suggestion I have is to go back tonight and find Duncan. He obviously went in the wrong tunnel. I’ll keep these bits of Lindisfarne castle, St. Margaret’s Chapel window glass and the piece of the wall, and this most interesting necklace of St. Cuthbert’s beads. They’ll go in the box with the other things. You lads are doing well. We’re coming right along with this, or should I say you are coming along. Before class tomorrow, come and tell me if you had success with finding Duncan. If you don’t, we will have to take other actions. Off to class now, lads, except you, Murray. I’ll let you help me with this afternoon’s classes. That way we won’t be lying to Professor Rutherford.”

Afternoon classes went as expected. Leith spent some time at the library copying poems into his book. After school hours he and Rory went to Detention. A few other lads from Hall Eight and Hall Two were there. Everyone kept to themselves. Leith spent his time reading books about King Arthur. There was an abundance of them lined up nicely on shelves around the room. Leith had just finished reading when Rory came and sat next to him. “Leith, do you remember me apologizing to you?”

     “I do and I accepted it. Have you read any of this stuff about King Arthur? It’s amazing. He was quite the man.” Leith picked up another book.

     “I don’t like to read that much. I’m more into puzzles. They have a good collection of crosswords in here. It helps pass the time,” Rory said.

     “I take it you have been here before.”

     “Once or twice. My mouth usually gets me into trouble. I hope you don’t mind me asking, but what’s the problem with your father? My father is a lot like yours, I’m sad to say. All he cares about is showing off the family name, Knox, and heaven help me if I dare tarnish it. I think I have tarnished it several times now. He hates it, but it brings me a strange pleasure. Do you ever feel that way?”

     “All the time. I feel like doing things just to spite him and make him angry. Are you an only child? I am.” Leith scooted over to Rory could sit next to him.

     “Thanks. I have an older brother, Harold, who graduated from this place a year ago and wants to join the Royal Navy, and I have a younger sister, Elizabeth. She has no idea how lucky she is to be a girl,” Rory said.

     The next hour was spent in laughter and chatting about families. When they were dismissed to go to supper, Leith smiled. Rory was an okay guy.

     The four lads sat together during the meal. “Seems strange without Duncan. I hope he’s all right,” Murray said.

     “What did Professor Wilson have you doing all afternoon; sharpen his pencils, or wipe his chalkboards clean?” Fraser shoveled a spoonful of peas into this mouth.

     “I sat at his desk most of the time. He let me wipe the boards clean and yes, I sharpened his pencils. The boys in his hall gave me guff about being there. They said I had no right because I was a baby from Caledonia Hall. I need to go and talk to Mirren Dewar about an assignment. I’ll meet you tonight in the hallway.” Murray ran off to search for his classmate.

     Rory walked over with his tray. “Can I sit with you guys?”

     Sandy and Fraser looked at each other. Leith invited Rory to join them. They told jokes and talked about Headmaster’s family. Rory finished his meal and ran off to visit with other friends.

     “He’s your mate now, is he?” Sandy elbowed Leith.

     “He apologized. It’s much better than having him knocking my books to the floor. He isn’t that bad actually,” Leith said.

     “You aren’t going to tell him about our adventures, are you?” Fraser wiped his chin with a paper napkin and then tossed it on his empty tray.

     “No. I hope you won’t tell anyone either. It’s important that we keep this private,” Leith said. “I have to go to the hall now. It’s part of my punishment, though I don’t consider it a punishment. I have peace and quiet. Rory will be there too. Midnight in the hallway; see you then.”

     The drafty and empty halls chilled Murray to the bone when he closed the door to his own hall behind him. Leith, Fraser and Sandy were already waiting for him. Once they stood above the Pictish cross, they spoke. “I hope we find Duncan,” Sandy said.

     “I hope he isn’t in danger,” Murray said.

     They jumped into the tunnel system. “How will we know which one he took? There are so many and some have half a dozen off-shoots,” Fraser said.

     “Did you bring your flashlight?” Leith pulled the sod over the hole.

     “Of course,” Fraser said.

     “Look for clues, like a set of footprints by themselves; things like that.” Leith assigned each of them a few tunnels. “Don’t go through any time warps alone. We go together.”

     Murray found the clue. A sweetie wrapper lay wadded up on the ground. “This is his. He loves chocolate bars.”

Fraser shone the flashlight on the ground. “Ah ha; a set of footprints.”

“Stick close together. We have no idea where we may end up,” Leith said. They jumped through the warp.


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