adjusted the silly-looking mortarboard one more time and glanced around for his
friends; they had gotten separated in the crowd of students and families
milling about the entry courtyard of the Anchor as they waited for the
graduation ceremony to begin.
He noticed a
late arrival coming in the gate – or, no, wait, that definitely wasn’t a
student. It was a scruffy man with
white-streaked dark hair, a leather bag slung over his shoulder, making for the
entrance to the Anchor proper as if he had a perfect right to be there. George wondered if he ought to point out the
intruder to somebody, but then he saw a big, blond man in a blue coat following
the scruffy man and clearly trying not to be seen. This man wasn’t familiar either, but he
seemed to have the first one under close watch, so George left him to it.
that he was buttonholed by a notoriously chatty professor, so when there was
another disturbance at the gate it was more of a relief than anything. This time it was three mustached men, two
average-sized and one huge, charging into the courtyard and disappearing
through an archway before anyone could react.
George thought he saw a flash of metal in the hand of one of the men.
hastily excused himself to the professor and started after them, only to be
almost knocked over by a lanky, dark young man running full tilt in the same
direction. The young man gasped out an
apology and sprinted off, leaving George staring after him. Wasn’t that the student who had been expelled
for stealing last year? What was he
parents pushed past him, making their way determinedly through the crowd toward
– yes, the same archway where the strange men had gone. Maybe they thought it was a shortcut. George shrugged and turned back to where the
students were beginning to line up for the ceremony.
As he stood
waiting for everyone to finish assembling, he noticed two more people hurrying
through the gate. These ones were a
short, blond man with glasses and a tall, brown-haired woman in some kind of
uniform, accompanied by a big white dog.
The young woman said something to her companion as they passed, and
George frowned. Her voice seemed
familiar, but for some reason it felt as if he had last heard it from a great
distance, accompanied by a metallic clang.
His hand went unconsciously to his head.
disappeared in the same direction all the other mysterious people had been
heading. George watched them go, then
shook his head and turned away. Whatever
else was going on at the Anchor tonight, he was just here to graduate from
university; the rest of it wasn’t his problem.
Note: In case you hadn’t guessed, George is the student whose previous encounter with Eliza left him with a bucket on his head!