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Apollo's Soldiers
by Margo Fallis
Chapter 9

     That night at supper the five boys sat together, whispering about the day’s events in Lindisfarne. Leith ended up promising that he would take each of them on a flight as soon as possible. They feasted on haggis, neeps, potato scones, colcannon (a dish made with boiled cabbage, carrots, turnip and potatoes) and topped the meal off with Edinburgh gingerbread and fresh cream.

With full tummies they headed down the dirt path to the church. It was the first time Leith paid attention to the stained glass windows on each wall. “I can’t believe I’ve never noticed these before now. I suppose it’s because it’s always so dark and dismal in here. And I’m usually bored out of my skull.” He sat on a pew, made himself comfortable by wedging his head in the corner between the bench and the wall, and listened as Sandy, Duncan and Murray sang with the choir. After five songs, Leith’s eyes grew heavy and soon he fell asleep. Duncan nudged Murray; they both noticed Leith and rolled their eyes.

“Wake up, Leith. Some support you are. You slept during the entire practice.” Sandy bumped Leith with his knee.

Leith jumped up, alert and embarrassed. “I heard you sing a few songs. I’m sorry. It’s been a long, tiring day and then we had that huge meal.”

“Wait until tomorrow.  You’ll find out what a huge meal is,” Murray said.

“I have been here through six Sunday feasts already. Why is this one so special?” Leith opened the door to the church and they walked out into the cool night air.

“It’s Headmaster’s sixtieth birthday tomorrow. You must not read the bulletin board,” Sandy said. As they walked back to their halls Sandy told the others about Headmaster’s family. “His wife died a few years ago. Do you remember seeing her tombstone in the cemetery?”

“I saw dozens of them. I can’t remember. What was her name?” Leith yawned.

“Her name was Fiona McLeod McDiarmad. She died the year before I came here, but I have heard a lot of stories.” Sandy opened the door and they stepped inside the main hall near the Headmaster’s office. “They had five children, four daughters and one son. Headmaster is disappointed because his son, Ewan McLeod McDiarmad doesn’t want anything to do with the school.”

“I’m sure that’s a source of worry. Who will take over? It’s been in the family for hundreds of years,” Leith said. They marched up the flight of stairs to the second floor. “See you, Murray and Duncan. Tomorrow we’ll have a quiet day, just hang around here, no adventures.”

The younger boys waved and disappeared into their hall. Leith and Sandy stood outside the door talking.

“What about the daughters?” Leith put his hand on the doorknob.

“What do you think? A woman Headmaster in a school for boys? It’s either the son, or they will have to bring in another relative,” Sandy said. “I suppose we shouldn’t worry about it and let the chips fall where they may.”

When they opened the door to the hall, Rory stood next to Leith’s bed waiting. “Well, look what the cat dragged in. Where were you all day? Everyone was looking for you.”

“It’s none of your business, Rory. I don’t ask you about your life. If you really want to know, I stayed in the library reading. Now leave me alone.” Leith hung up his coat and went to brush his teeth. Sandy came into the room a few minutes later, followed by Grant.

“Where did you go this morning? I saw the both of you, Fraser and two younger lads at the cemetery and then I never saw you the rest of the day,” Grant said.

“We were looking for Headmaster’s wife’s headstone. After that we went for a walk along the beach and then we all went to study in the library.” Sandy went to change into his pajamas.

“The library? Study? You passed up a game of football and fresh air to stay inside? Whatever.” Grant took Leith’s arm. “You need to be careful of Sandy. He and Fraser are often in trouble. I hope you weren’t doing anything that could get your suspended.”

Leith wrenched his arm away. “If going for a walk along the beach, or studying, are things that could get me in trouble, then I suppose I will be. Sandy and Fraser are great. They have been nice to me when nobody else would.”

“Just be careful. As Head Boy it’s my duty to warn you. As your friend, I don’t want you to have problems here.”

“Thanks, Grant. I appreciate your concern. I’m doing fine. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to bed. All that studying exhausted me.” Leith left Grant standing at the mirror, gazing at his reflection.

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