Sunday morning dress
consisted of slacks, shirt and tie of the boy’s choosing. The pathway to
the church was busy; boys chatted as they made their way to the building
on the grounds. The architecture was Norman style; the stones having been
brought over to the island long ago from some ancient ruins on Fetlar, one
of the Shetland Islands north of Scotland.
All but the choir settled
in their pews. Before the sermon began, Headmaster McDiarmad stood at the
pulpit and welcomed everyone, as he did every Sunday service. He pulled a
newspaper from his pocket, shook it and read it out loud to the students.
“It would seem that a large group of goblins have been wreaking havoc in
Dunstan, a village located not far from the school. The local villagers
are rather upset, and rightly so. If any students know anything about
these troublesome creatures, where they came from, or how they managed to
arrive here, please contact me after the services.” With that, the
Headmaster sat on the front pew with the other professors. Leith nearly
choked and glanced at Fraser.
The choir marched in
dressed in royal blue robes. They performed several songs and to Leith’s
surprise, sounded quite nice. The students were dismissed after the
Minister’s sermon and told to head to the cafeteria for the Sunday feast.
Leith, Fraser, Sandy and
the two younger boys lagged behind. “Before we go,” Sandy said, “we should
have a quick look about for the tunnel entrance. It would be handy to know
where it is in case we need to get away. Mum’s the word about the goblins
too. We know nothing. Agreed?” The others nodded. “I thought I was going
to choke when he mentioned them. Those sneaky goblins did follow us.”
After the minister had
disappeared into the back room, the boys searched behind every wall, door
and box. “Here it is,” Duncan whispered. “At least I think this is it.
It’s a tunnel.”
“We’ll have to come back
another time and see where it leads,” Leith said. “I’m hungry and looking
forward to this special feast.”
“Do you think we’ll have
birthday cake?” Murray was all grins.
“I hope so,” Fraser said.
When they entered the
dining hall Leith stopped. “Oh great! Look over there. It’s my father.
What’s he doing here?”
“The whole Board is here.
It must be to help celebrate Headmaster’s birthday. I think those are his
daughters, their husbands and children, and his son too. Everyone is
here!” Sandy sat at a table. “Let’s sit at our table. See you later,
Duncan and Murray. You’ve got to sit with your own hall.”
“Will they serve us?”
Leith looked around. Usually they stood in line and were given trays.
“Of course. This is a
special day. Nothing is the same,” Sandy said. “Are you going to say hello
to your father?”
Leith tucked his napkin
under his chin. “No. I hope he stays where he is and ignores me too.”
The polished Sheffield
silver glistened. The plates, with tartan design around the edge, were
enormous, much to the boy’s delight. “These plates will hold more food,”
The first course was
served on small plates, identical to the larger ones. “What are these?”
Leith stabbed one with his fork and turned it over. “It looks like a fried
Sandy burst out laughing.
“It is, you twit. I’ve had them before. They are quite good. Try it.”
Leith took a bite. His
face scrunched up like he had eaten something quite sour. “I don’t like
this. Do any of you want mine? I only took a wee bite.”
“I’ll have it,” Fraser
said. He had already eaten his.
The Headmaster and all the
professors sat at a table in the front part of the room. The members of
the Board sat at the table next to them. Headmaster’s family sat with the
janitor, Rufus Stuart, the caretaker, Mungo Williams, Mr. Arbuckle, the
Detention master, and Mr. Green, Headmaster’s secretary. “That’s a lot of
cheek. Headmaster should have his family next to him and put the other
faculty members and professors together. If I was his son I would get up
and walk away,” Leith said, scowling. “It’s all a bunch of rubbish. Nobody
puts family first.”
Servers placed bowls and
soup spoons in front of each student and then ladled the second course,
partan bree, into them. “Oh no! I hate partan bree,” Sandy said. “Crab
soup? I would rather eat snails.”
“I’ll take it if you don’t
want it,” Fraser said.
Sandy pushed the bowl over
to him. “It’s all yours.”
“You don’t like your father, do you, Leith,” Sandy said. “If my dad came,
I would be happy to see him. You haven’t even spoken to yours.”
“That’s right. I don’t
like him. He doesn’t care anything about me. All he cares about is his
title and his friends and how much people admire him. He has never cared
for me. He came without my mum. She is an embarrassment to him. He only
drags her along when he is forced to. I love my mum and I feel sorry that
she has to put up with him.”
“I guess that answers
that,” Sandy said.
The third course consisted
of tea sandwiches. “Can you imagine serving these girly sandwiches to
students at a boy’s school?” Fraser complained and then shoveled them into
his mouth. “That one was cucumber. I like the cream cheese ones too.”
Sandy put a few on his
plate. “This one is watercress and this is smoked salmon. They aren’t that
bad.” He bit into one. “Quite tasty.”
Leith didn’t eat any
sandwiches, but when the fourth course arrived, he devoured the
caramelized onion and ham tart with a side of Arran potato salad. From
where he sat he had a perfect view of his father laughing and joking with
the other men. “He is probably boasting about being the CEO of the oil
company, or how many houses we own.”
“How many houses do you
own, Leith?” Sandy spoke with his mouth full of food.
“We have one in Edinburgh;
one in Cornwall; one in Brittany, France; one in Venice, Italy, and…”
“That’s enough. My
goodness, you must be a lot richer than I thought. We only have one house
and it’s in Newhaven, an old part of Edinburgh. My parents renovated an
old fisherman’s home. It looks great and we are right at the sea.” Fraser
smiled with memories of his room. “Sometimes I wish I could spend more
time there. My great great grandparents lived there, in that house. I love
going for walks to Princes Street Gardens. It’s funny how our parents ship
us off here and we only go home for a month in the summer.”
“It isn’t funny at all.
I’ll never do this to my children,” Leith said, anger in his voice. When
the fifth course was set on the table, the others devoured their Cornish
pasties filled with lamb, onion and potato, but Leith only poked at his.
“If you aren’t going to
eat that, Leith,” Fraser said.
Leith pushed it over to
him. “Are you a bottomless pit, Fraser? No wonder you are pudgy. You eat
like a cow.”
“Hey! I’m a growing boy.
My mum said I should eat whenever and whatever I want.”
“I think he has tapeworm.”
“I don’t. I’m just hungry.
We have had a few busy days.” Fraser polished his pasty off and Leith’s
The sixth course, stuffed
mushrooms and clapshot, (potatoes mixed with turnips and chives) looked
tasty to Leith, so he ate. The seventh course, roasted grouse with black
pudding and grilled veggies smelled delicious and didn’t stay long on any
of their plates. Scotch eggs came next, then crumpets with lemon curd and
orange marmalade. The last course, dessert, was brought in on trays. The
boys had their choice of sticky toffee pudding, treacle toffee, or rhubarb
oatmeal crumble with vanilla ice cream. Never had Ewan McDiarmad’s School
for Boys had such a feast. Before they dismissed, the chef brought in a
ten-tiered cake with candles ablaze. Headmaster blew them out and then
slices of the marzipan-coated fruitcake were passed out to all who wished
“That was some meal.”
Leith patted his stomach. “I haven’t eaten like that in years, if ever.”
The five boys sat in the main hall on the couches.
“Hey, little rich boy. Did
I see your rich daddy? I’m surprised you’re here and not asking him for
some money, or for favors. He’s probably already arranged for you to go
Cambridge University when you’re done here. You’re pathetic, Leith
Wallace.” Rory and two of his friends moved closer to the group of boys.
“Go away, Rory. You aren’t
anything but a pest,” Sandy said.
“What’s the matter, little
rich boy? You have to have your friends speak on your behalf?” Rory kicked
the bottom of Leith’s shoe.
Without a moment’s wait,
Leith sprung from the chair and grabbed Rory by his tie. “If you say one
more word to me, I’ll punch your face in.”
“I would like to see you
try, little rich boy.” Rory stood defiant before Leith.
Leith wadded up his fist
and brought it up into Rory’s gut. Rory doubled over. One of his friends
ran into the dining hall to get the Headmaster. A few minutes later he,
the professors, and members of the Board gathered around the two boys, who
were now punching each other out.
“That’s enough!” Professor
Morrison took Leith by the arm.
Headmaster grabbed Rory
from behind. “To my office, now!” The two boys snarled and then obeyed.
The door shut behind them. In the room sat Headmaster, Professor Morrison
and Leith’s father. “Would you care to explain, Master Wallace?”
“He won’t leave me alone.
Every time he sees me he insults me and my family. I’m tired of it,” Leith
“He hit me first.” Rory
held his tummy as if in pain.
“You’re such a drama
queen. You know your stomach doesn’t hurt. You’re trying to get sympathy.”
Leith raised his fist.
“Leith!” His father
grabbed the boy’s arm. “Enough of this. You are a disgrace to the Wallace
name and you’re embarrassing me in front of Headmaster McDiarmad.”
“Calm down, Mr. Wallace.
Master Wallace, would you please sit over there and Master Knox, you sit
in the other chair please. We will discuss this like gentlemen.”
Headmaster noticed Mr. Wallace taking a seat. “This is Ewan McDiarmad’s
School for Boys. You should take pride in that and act accordingly. There
are rules at this school and one of them is no physical roughness or
fights. You are both to spend your after school hours in detention for the
next week. You are both to apologize to each other and write a letter of
apology to the students of this school, to the Board members and to all
the professors and pin them on the bulletin board. This is your only
warning. The next time either of you are caught fighting you’ll both be
dismissed and forced to seek attendance at another private school. Do you
Rory nodded. “Yes,
Headmaster. I understand. I apologize, Leith. I’ll make an effort not to
say anything else to you.”
Silence filled the air.
Headmaster coughed. “Master Wallace? It’s your turn.”
Leith didn’t say a word.
He folded his arms across his chest. “Apologize you fool. Do it now!” His
father reached up and slapped Leith across the back of his head. “You are
Rory gulped and actually
felt sorry for Leith. The Headmaster intervened. “Mr. Wallace, how can I
teach the students not to use physical force and violence when you are
doing the very thing? Lads, you are dismissed and are to go to your hall
for the rest of the day. I think you should use this time to write those
letters of apology. Good day.”
Leith and Rory turned to
leave. Mr. Wallace darted out of the room after them. He yanked Leith to
the side. Rory stood by and watched. “If you cause so much as one more bit
of trouble for me, I’ll send you to a private school in outer Mongolia
where you can’t embarrass me, or tarnish our family name. I hope I never
get called out here again, because if I am, you’ll be sorry. I hope your
mother won’t cry too much once I tell her of your actions.” Without
letting Leith answer, Mr. Wallace pushed the front door to the school open
and marched down the road. Leith collapsed into a chair and stared at the
Rory walked over to him.
“I’m sorry, Leith. Your father was a bit rough on you. I didn’t know how
hard it was for you. I’m sorry.” With bowed head Rory walked away.
Sandy, Fraser, Duncan and
Murray rushed over to Leith. “What happened? Did the Headmaster suspend
you? Are you in big trouble?” Murray didn’t notice the tears dripping from
Sandy did. “We should
leave Leith alone for a while. He’ll come and tell us when he’s ready.
We’ll see you later, Leith.”