Hi everyone, so as I said in my Monday post, I didn’t know what to give you today, so I settled for another chapter of The Missing Papers! I hope you enjoy it as much as the last couple of chapters. Don’t forget if you want to catch up, click the tag “The Missing Papers: A St Andrews Adventure” at the bottom of this post for more chapters!
“Well are we assuming that Julian’s made that connection?” Darrell asked in a hushed tone, causing the others to lean forward to hear what she was saying.
“I think it’s a safe assumption, don’t you?” Sally asked David.
David nodded. “Naturally. No wonder he seemed to be looking for something!” he said looking wide eyed. He sat back in his chair and ran a hand through his hair. “I just wish he’d told us what he suspected.”
“Well he doesn’t know us that well, does he?” Sally pointed out sensibly. “How was he to know if he could trust us or not? I mean for all he knew we could have laughed at him.”
Darrell was just about to say something when a noise behind the bookcase made David hold up a hand to make her stop. He pressed a finger to his lips and got up from his chair to look behind the bookcase. His heart felt as though it was somewhere in the region of his mouth as he stepped out of the little study area and turned to look down the alley of books on the other side of the book case. Thomas Ainsworth was standing there, a book in his hands, apparently reading. He looked up when he heard David’s footstep and smiled a little, snapping the book shut.
“Oh hello Morton,” Ainsworth said in a hearty tone, taking a step towards David. “I was hoping I’d bump into you today. Was wondering if Kirrin was alright after that rugger tackle yesterday. He looked fairly pale as you two went off.”
“He’s fine. Dislocated his shoulder, that’s all,” David said carefully avoiding the detail that Julian had spent the night in the san. He wasn’t sure that Ainsworth needed to hear this detail. He hadn’t been lying to Julian when he had agreed that there was something a bit odd about Thomas Ainsworth. He didn’t like him very much.
“Oh jolly good,” Ainsworth said, giving a little half grin. “Glad to hear it. Terrible business about Old Dotty’s papers isn’t it? Probably one of the foreign students, I shouldn’t wonder. Most of them seem to come from the other side of the iron curtain,” he said casually as though he was trying to start a conversation. “I can’t see an Englishman doing such a treacherous thing!”
David resisted the urge to give him a non committal grunt in reply. “Yes, very bad business,” he said politely. He looked carefully at the book Thomas had in his hand and before the other boy could notice looked away. Thomas moved his hand over the title; David wasn’t sure whether this was on purpose or not.
He smiled vaguely at Thomas who seemed to take this as an excuse to keep talking. He got the impression that the other boy was possibly trying to convince him that he was not solely to blame for Julian’s dislocated shoulder. Thomas was asking David how far they’d got into their lectures. He explained as briefly as he could. He was itching to get away from Thomas and the girls were probably seconds from coming out from behind the book shelf to see what was going on. David didn’t want to be making small talk with Thomas any longer than strictly necessary.
Thomas smiled a little feeling that the conversation would go no further. He placed the book he had been looking at back on the shelf and stepped back.
“I should get going, plenty of work to do still,” he said nodding at David. “Thanks for the chat Morton,” he added as he turned on his heel and walked away from David.
David stood where he was for a moment and considered his next move. He had watched where Thomas had put the book back and considered checking on the title for a moment. He could hear Darrell and Sally’s low conversation on the other side of the bookcase. He waited a minute until he was sure that Thomas had indeed moved off. David checked the title of the book and frowned.
“Russian history?” David muttered to himself, before putting the book back and shrugging. There was no reason why Thomas shouldn’t be reading it, but David felt a little uneasy about the choice especially when Thomas hadn’t taken it away with him and stopped him looking at the title.
David went back to Darrell and Sally with a slight frown on his face.
“Who was it? Are there actually enemies sneaking around trying to get information from us?” Darrell asked in a mocking dramatic whisper.
David gave her a sarcastic smile. “It was Ainsworth,” he said sitting down in a chair and looking disgruntled. “Looking at a book on Russian history for some odd reason,” he added shrugging. He looked at the girls faces. Both of them were amused.
“Honestly,” Darrell said after a moment, her smile still on her face. “Thomas probably thinks that we’re all peculiar now because we stopped talking and you appeared to question him.”
“Not that there was a lot of questioning going on,” Sally teased. She smiled at David’s face and shook her head.
“I think we’ve got ourselves a couple of detectives, Darrell,” she added with a giggle.
David rolled his eyes. “Laugh all you want ladies, but I’m no detective,” he said standing up and pulling a teasing face at them. “If you ladies are after a qualified detective I’ll be more than happy to point you in the direction of a certified detective genius,” David mocked in a fake posh accent. Darrell and Sally were clutching their sides in silent mirth trying not to make too much noise in the library.
David chuckled and shook his head, the encounter with Thomas slipping to the back of his mind.
Julian woke the next morning feeling groggy. The painkillers he had taken for his shoulder had sent him to sleep as soon as he’d gotten back to his room the night before. He was aware of sleeping through tea and supper and waking in the middle of the night only to take some more. He sat up gingerly, his stomach rumbling. He hoped that there would be a good breakfast that morning, he was starving.
Gingerly he tried to move his bad shoulder to see if it was any better than the day before. It protested under the treatment. Julian had to grit his teeth at the pain to stop himself yelling out. He sighed a moment later and reached for the painkillers and glass of water on his bedside table. It took him a good few tries to get the little pill out of the bottle. He needed both hands to get the lid off and with his left arm almost useless because he couldn’t move his shoulder; it was quite tricky to unscrew the lid. He persevered however and soon managed to get the bottle open without spilling the pills everywhere. He took one and left the lid balancing on top of the bottle while he went about trying to get dressed. Just as he was pulling a blazer on over his shirt there was a knock at the door.
“It’s open!” Julian called as he managed to get his injured arm into the sleeve without causing himself too much pain. He looked up as the door opened and David looked in.
“You’re up I see,” David said with a grin. “I knocked for you last night at tea and supper but you must have been sleeping like a log!” Julian grinned as he pulled his other sleeve around and managed to shake his blazer on.
“That would have been because of the painkillers,” he said with a laugh, getting to his feet and picking up his bag, carefully slipping it on his good shoulder.
“Are you going to blame that awful snoring on the painkillers as well?” David asked with a cheeky grin, leaning against the door frame, folding his arms. Julian deliberately bashed David with his bag as he headed out into the corridor. David chuckled.
“Did anything interesting happen after I left the three of you yesterday?” Julian asked as he locked his bedroom door.
David, Sally and Darrell had discussed whether it was worth telling Julian about the encounter with Thomas Ainsworth in the library. Sally had maintained the position that there really wasn’t anything strange about Thomas’s actions and that just because he was looking at a Russian history book, didn’t mean that he was up to anything. Sally had also pointed out that they hadn’t really been discussing anything for anyone to overhear. She had staunchly believed that there was no point in telling Julian.
Darrell had agreed with Sally but added that it was probably not worth mentioning to Julian unless he asked. David still wasn’t sure. The girls seemed to believe that everything was innocent enough. David wished he had the luxury of believing that everything would blow over, his enquiring mind however would not stop poking at him, making him believe that he was missing something important in all of this. You didn’t develop a taste for physics without having a naturally enquiring mind. David took a moment to run all this over in his mind before answering Julian.
“Nothing particularly interesting, I’m afraid. We just went to the library with the intention of getting some work done,” David said truthfully.
Technically, David told himself, Julian hadn’t asked if anything suspicious had happened. Interesting was a completely different concept to suspicious. If Julian noticed the pause, he didn’t mention it.
“I wonder what there’ll be for breakfast,” Julian said, changing topic as they headed down the stairs to the St Salvator’s dining hall. “I feel like I could eat a horse!”
David chuckled at Julian. “Well it serves you right for missing tea and supper last night,” h said with a laugh as they reached their dining hall and joined the back of the queue of boys all waiting for their breakfast.
“It was hardly through choice,” Julian protested as they moved towards the hot plates. David chuckled to himself. Julian barely noticed, having realized that he was going to have trouble getting the food on to wherever they sat in the room. He was beginning to feel annoyed with himself because he couldn’t continue on as normal when David saved the day.
“Stick your plate on my tray and I’ll carry it. Don’t want you dropping it and sending food everywhere. I don’t think the senior residents would be too happy if you did,” David said seriously. Julian shot him a grateful look and did as he was told. Soon the boys were too busy eating to talk about much.
“Do you think that there will be many police around today?” Julian asked as he finished his last mouthful. David shrugged.
“I’m not sure,” he said honestly. “As they don’t appear to have found Dotty’s papers, I should think that there would be a few around at least. I expect that we’ll be kept out of his laboratory though. They wouldn’t want to risk contaminating the scene now would they?” David added in a laughing voice.
Julian raised an eyebrow and smirked. “You sound like you’ve been reading too many detective novels, old chap,” he said with a chuckle.
David laughed a little as he got up and picked up his bag to go to their lecture, leaving their plates on the table for the staff to collect like they did every day. Julian pulled his bag up onto his uninjured shoulder and made his way out the dining room, thinking about David had said about the police.
Surprisingly enough Julian hadn’t actually been involved with many crime scenes in his time. Usually he and his family had been well on the way to solving the mystery before the scene was usually taken over by the police. This was a slightly different experience for him. Not that he was in the middle of an adventure, this he had to remind himself; for some reason however he had the familiar feeling of being on the trail of something big. He kept these thoughts to himself; the others would only find reason to tease him for them.
“Well you’d be the expert when it comes to what happens in real life and in novels,” David teased Julian with a chuckle. Julian laughed a little as they went outside and a sea breeze whipped around them.
“It’s getting into winter alright,” David said looking up at the sky, noticing the bare branches of the trees around St Salvator’s. The boys stood and looked at the clouds scurrying over the sky in shades of dark grey. Julian pulled his blazer a little tighter around him for warmth as the breeze skimmed over him again. The boys walked in silence towards the campus, skirting around the high street and taking a few back streets to get there. As they reached the main building they almost managed to walk straight into the girls who were coming around a corner on their way back from breakfast.
“You’re a little late breakfasting surely?” Julian asked with a chuckle. Darrell rolled her eyes at him.
“I was going to ask how you were feeling but now I don’t think I’ll bother. I hope David hasn’t told you our interesting news from yesterday. After that comment I don’t think you deserve to hear it,” Darrell rattled off at high speed, pretending that she was annoyed with Julian, but there was a slight teasing note to her voice. Julian raised an eyebrow and looked at David, who was blushing slightly.
“No I haven’t told him,” he said to Darrell with a spark of annoyance.
“And why not?” Darrell asked in a posh voice, giving David a little shove on the shoulder as Sally stood back to let some older students past and stifle a giggle from behind Darrell’s back.
“He didn’t ask!” David said honestly. David was technically telling the truth. Darrell rolled her eyes at David and smiled sweetly at Julian. Sally rolled her eyes behind Darrell’s back, thinking that she was taking a rather Alicia inspired attitude this morning.
“If you can’t get David to tell you by lunchtime, Sally and I will fill you in,” Darrell said with a twinkle in her eye.
“I’d get a move on if I were you,” Sally said, butting in, looking at her watch. “It’s almost nine now. Meet you in the quad for lunch,” she added with a small smile. Julian was looking thoroughly lost at this point. Sally chuckled a little and pulled him to one side.
“It’s nothing much really, just something odd happened yesterday. Don’t look so confused,” Sally said softly, putting her hand on his forearm and giving it a squeeze. “And don’t be annoyed with David, or Darrell, she’s in a funny mood this morning. We’ll fill you in at lunch time,” Sally reaffirmed to him before smiling up at him.
As she had spoken quietly, Julian had to bend down a little to hear her. When Sally looked up, their faces were inches apart, and Sally found herself looking up into his blue eyes. She found the blush spread across her cheeks.
“You’d better hurry,” she added trying to sound normal, stepping back from him and tapping her watch. Julian gave her shoulder a squeeze as she did so, half turning to beckon David forward.
“Thank you,” Julian said quietly to Sally before he and David hurried off to class.
Darrell eyed Sally carefully as her friend watched the boys hurry off to class. Darrell moved forward and tucked her arm through Sally’s. She smiled a little at her friend as they started up towards their shared room.
“I think you quite like Julian, don’t you Sally?” Darrell said softly as they walked towards their halls.
Sally blushed; she hadn’t realised that anyone had been paying that much attention to her behaviour around the boys. Darrell was her best friend however and if it was down to anyone to spot Sally’s unusual attacks of blushing when Julian was near, then Darrell would be that person.
“As far as boys go, Julian’s not bad,” Sally said, trying to sound calm and collected.
Darrell gave her friends arm a squeeze and smiled to herself. “That is all is it? He’s not bad?” she asked gently, trying to get an answer out of Sally.
Sally fixed Darrell with a hard look that clearly said that she wasn’t going to have this conversation with her friend. Darrell shrugged her shoulders a little and let the matter drop. She changed the subject.
“Why do you think that David didn’t tell Julian about what happened yesterday?” she asked Sally as they opened the door to their halls and headed towards the staircase.
“I don’t know,” Sally said as they started up the stairs. “Maybe David didn’t find it as strange as we appeared to. Or Julian didn’t ask.”
“I think that David found it very strange, and Julian would have asked,” Darrell said in a thoughtful voice. “It is possible that Julian didn’t ask the right question, so David left it out,” Darrell added as an afterthought.
Sally nodded at the possibility. “What time is your lecture this afternoon?” she asked Darrell after a moment.
“Not until two, and the boys get out at noon, so there’s plenty of time for us to have lunch and chew the fat over yesterday’s peculiar episode,” Darrell said as she opened their room’s door. Sally nodded.
“What about your lecture, Sally?” Darrell asked sitting down in her comfy chair and looking at her friend who seemed deep in thought.
“Oh, I’m in at two as well,” Sally said quietly. She hadn’t sat down but had moved over to the window.
“What is the matter old thing?” Darrell asked moving forward in her seat, a frown forming on her face.
“I’m just thinking about yesterday,” Sally admitted quietly. “I’ve got a funny feeling that Thomas might not be all he seems to be.”
“That as maybe, but that Anthony from the boys’ physics class is odder than Thomas. Thomas is probably just lying about something and doesn’t want to be caught out, Anthony actually makes my skin crawl,” Darrell said reclining in her chair again, sure that Sally was over thinking things. “You mark my words Sally, this will all be sorted out by Christmas.”
“Yes, you’re probably right Darrell,” Sally said vaguely as she watched Thomas and then Anthony cross the grass in front of their halls, both looking as suspicious as the other. “You’re probably right.”
Julian hadn’t had time to ask David what the girls had been talking about this morning, as they hurried to class; bumping into the girls had made them a little late. He wasn’t entirely sure on whether he was annoyed at David or not for not having told him about whatever happened yesterday when he had left them. He half guessed that he hadn’t asked his friend the right question to be given all the details, he didn’t think he was allowed to be upset with David about that at all.
They reached the laboratory they were going to be learning in temporarily with about a minute to spare. The boys sank gratefully into their seats, looking around to see who was there and if Old Dotty was there yet, which he wasn’t. As Julian looked around he noticed that Anthony was not there and his absence was quite clear in the class, even in this new laboratory. Julian pulled a face and shrugged to himself. He turned back to the front of the class and awkwardly dug out his notebook and a pen.
After the professor had finished telling the boys what they were going to be doing in that days experiment, and Julian and David had collected their equipment, Julian turned to David and asked, “So what happened yesterday that you didn’t tell me about?”
David raised his eyes from the measurement beaker he had in his hand, almost rolling his eyes at Julian.“You want to know now?” He muttered under his breath aware that people were closer to them in this lab than the others.
“Well is it that bad?” Julian asked raising an eyebrow as he set up the wires for the experiment.
David sighed. “Well, I’m not sure,” he admitted quietly. “It seemed odd at the time, but then lord knows when it comes to Ainsworth. He seems very strange at the best of times.”
“What has this got to do with Ainsworth?” Julian asked intrigued, raising an eyebrow at David as they continued to set up their equipment.
“Well it’s a long story,” David said not paying attention to which glass of liquid he was picking up. Julian grabbed his hand when he noticed and smirked a little.
“Are you trying to blow us all up, David?” Julian asked with a chuckle. He took the beaker from David’s hand and reached for the other one.
David smiled a little. “If you don’t want me to blow you up can we talk about this later? I mean the girls have already offered to fill you in, why do you want me to do it?” he asked with a small smile as he picked up his pen and focused his attention in on the electrical counter that they were supposed to be using to measure the conductivity of certain fluids.
Julian allowed himself a small nod. “I suppose you are right. I would like to survive this lecture,” he said with a grin as he poured a little of the liquid from one beaker to the other.
David smiled and sat down on his stool for a moment.
“Then let’s get this experiment and the rest of the lecture out of the way and we might be able to discuss what happened yesterday afterwards,” David said quietly, observing the reaction in the glass beaker. Julian allowed himself to smile and turned back to the experiment having to be content with the fact that he would be told what had been going on in his absence later.
Julian sat and listened to David who, with help from Darrell and Sally, filled him in on what had happened the day before with Ainsworth in the library. They hadn’t been able to use their usual spot in the library so were sitting up in the girls’ room after lunch. The boys were sitting in the girls’ desk chairs, while the girls sat on the sides of their beds.
Julian lent back in his chair and considered the tale he had been told. He was sure that there was something fishy about Thomas Ainsworth’s actions; for starters it seemed completely out of character for him.
“You can almost see the cogs in Julian’s brain working can’t you?” he vaguely heard Darrell tease. Julian looked up, aware that he had been staring at a spot on the carpet for the last five minutes. He smiled in a strained sort of way. His eyes flicked from one face to the other taking in their expressions. They were all watching him carefully.
“It was certainly out of character for him,” Julian allowed quietly. “I wish I’d seen him myself. It sounds peculiar.”
“That is exactly what we were thinking!” Darrell said, leaning forward her hands clutching the sides of her bed. “Which is why we were so surprised that David hadn’t told you before we saw you this morning.”
David blushed. “It was an oversight,” he admitted quietly.
Julian smiled a little. “I shouldn’t worry about it too much, old thing,” he told his friend, reaching over and clapping him on the shoulder.
“So do you think that Thomas is hiding something, Julian?” Darrell asked her eyes glinting.
Julian had to laugh. “How many times do I have to tell you Darrell? I’m no detective! Just because Ainsworth acts strange for five minutes one day, gives us no reason to believe that he’s up to something,” he said with a chuckle.
“Just because this happened when you weren’t there, you seem to be inclined to believe that there’s nothing interesting about Thomas acting that way,” Sally observed quietly. She had her arms folded across her chest and was fixing Julian with a challenging look.
Julian bristled a little bit at her choice of words. “I thought you were the queen of rationality around here?” he couldn’t stop himself shooting back at Sally, his eyebrows knitting together in a frown. Darrell caught David’s eye and they both smirked as Julian continued, “I’m just pointing out that there might be a perfectly rational answer to Ainsworth’s behaviour yesterday. I’m not dismissing it completely, but there are other options to consider.”
“Who was jumping at the bit to find some sort of mystery the other day?” Sally asked raising her eyebrow at him critically. If truth be told Sally was feeling rather annoyed at all this supposed adventure seeking.
“If you had been there yesterday, you would be all over this,” she added pointedly. “You know both Thomas and Anthony were on the beach yesterday when that paper was found, and there was no one else about. Where else could that loose page have come from exactly if it wasn’t either of them?”
They all sat in silence after this outburst from Sally. They all sat and considered the implications of what she had said. An idea started to nag at Julian’s mind, he sat very still as he considered it and ran it over in his mind.
“Sally,” he said after a minute of silence. “You’re a genius!” Julian jumped to his feet and picked up his bag. With his good arm, he gave Sally a celebratory hug and laughed, before making his way to the door.
“Where are you going?” Darrell asked turning to look at him, as Sally sat, slightly stunned on her bed.
“Down to the beach,” Julian said his smile very firmly in place now as he unlocked the girls’ door and stepped outside. All three looked at the door for a moment and then each other.
“He’s gone mad,” David said finally. “He’s finally cracked.”
“It’s those pain killers, I’ve heard that they can be mood altering,” Darrell said, loud enough for Julian to hear. Half a moment later Julian’s head appeared around the door frame, still smiling and said to them, “Well aren’t you three coming?” He threw them a wink and headed off down the corridor again. After a split second where Sally, Darrell and David all looked at each other in astonishment, they grabbed their things and tumbled out of the room after Julian, Sally pausing to lock the door.
As they hurried after Julian, Darrell managed to gasp, “Is there any point in asking why you’re running us down to the beach?”
“I’ll tell you when we get there,” Julian said over his shoulder as they made their way along the cliff top road. As they rounded the last building and looked down on to the beach through the railings, Julian stopped for a moment and bit his lip. The others caught up with him just before he sped off again.
“Next time the least Thomas could do is break his leg. At least then he wouldn’t be able to move so quickly!” Sally complained as Julian almost ran down the cliff path to towards the place they had gone to get down on the beach yesterday. David and Darrell chuckled as they set off once more, following Julian down to the beach. They reached him, realising that this was the place they had been sitting the day before when Sally had found that page of notes from Professor Doaty’s experiment. Julian was standing in front of the cliff face, looking up at it, his hand shading his eyes against the brightness of the cloudy sky.
“Are you going to tell us what this is all about now?” Darrell asked flopping down on to a handy rock in a very unladylike manner. “I’m practically glowing here.”
Julian looked around at them all and smiled apologetically. “I’m so sorry,” he said with a small grin. “But Sally gave me an idea on where the missing papers could be hidden.”
“I gave you an idea?” Sally asked astonished. “What did I say?”
“I think your approximate words were ‘where else could those pages have come from’, if they didn’t come from Ainsworth and Pilkington,” Julian said with a smile. The others looked at him a little blankly. Julian sighed theatrically, a little disappointed that his brilliant idea hadn’t been recognised.
“If the paper Sally and I found didn’t come from either Pilkington or Ainsworth, then there may be a chance that somewhere they were hidden somewhere around here,” Julian explained slowly.
Sally and Darrell looked fairly impressed at this explanation but David still looked a little concerned.
“Just one flaw to your brilliant idea, Ju,” David explained raising an eyebrow. “What if the person who had stolen the papers had been walking on the cliff top or somewhere further up the beach and just dropped the paper by mistake?”
“David, old chap, do you really think that anyone who has gone to the trouble of stealing the papers and destroying the equipment would have really walked along the beach or the cliff top with them in his hands in broad daylight, especially to lose a key page?” Julian asked his friend kindly. He smiled and looked back up at the cliff face.
“So you think that someone climbed up the cliff to hide the papers somewhere up there?” Sally asked critically, crossing her arms over her chest.
Julian smiled at her. “As I said, it’s a possibility,” he said. He looked up at the cliff again and wondered the best way to tackle the rugged cliff face in front of him. The only way to explore every possible nook and cranny would be to climb it. Darrell seemed to have the same idea at the same time.
“You’re not even going to attempt to climb that, Julian,” she said firmly. David sniggered, amused at the idea that Julian would even think about trying to climb the cliff face.
“Well of course not!” Julian said with a hint of annoyance. “I wouldn’t even try with this shoulder.”
“Well I’m not climbing it in the name of your brilliant idea,” David said quickly, his hands up in front of him and stepping back a little, the amusement gone from his face.
Julian grinned at him over his shoulder. “I wasn’t going ask you to climb the cliff,” Julian said with a chuckle. “I was going to ask you if you could go to the top of the cliff and look down and see if there’s a nook somewhere that can’t be seen from down on the beach.”
David fixed Julian with a firm stare. “That would be all?” he asked suspiciously, his eyes narrowing. Julian nodded.
“I’ll come with you,” Sally said shrugging her shoulders, sure that she didn’t want to stay with Julian.
Darrell smiled brightly at Julian. “Looks like you and I are going to be examining the cliff from down here, skipper!” Darrell said brightly, linking her arm through Julian’s uninjured one. Julian looked down at her and laughed. David chuckled and motioned Sally to lead the way up off the beach and to the top of the cliff.
As Darrell and Julian set about scanning the cliff face and searching for places that someone could reach to hide some very important papers, Sally and David climbed the path to the top of the cliff.
“Do you think we should just walk along and look down?” David asked as they reached the top. Sally craned her neck over the side of the cliff.
“Well you can if you like, but frankly, it would be a waste of time if we were to do that here, the cliff juts out too much to be able to see anything,” Sally said with a sigh.
“You really aren’t that happy with Julian today are you?” David asked with a grin, as he got down on to his knees and crawled towards the cliff top, holding on to a handy railing to make sure that the wind didn’t take him off the edge.
“Is it that obvious?” Sally asked crouching down next to him, and holding on to the same pole.
“Just a tiny bit,” David said moving along the cliff edge a little. He glanced at Sally and smiled sympathetically.
“I just don’t see the point of all this searching for something that doesn’t really concern us,” Sally said a tad grumpily. She wasn’t used to all this rushing about, almost looking for an adventure. Although her years at school had never been boring, the sort of adventure that Julian seemed to be looking for was a long way out of her experience.
David made a noncommittal noise in his throat as he moved down the cliff. “Well it will certainly keep Julian quiet for a few hours once we don’t find anything,” he said after a moment, glancing up at Sally who seemed to be waiting for some response. Sally folded her arms and tutted quietly. David smiled.
“Surely you’ve humoured Darrell a couple of times? I suspect it’s almost the same for Julian,” David said soothingly. “If you loosened up a little you may even enjoy messing about. It certainly beats constant work,” David teased.
This seemed to be comment too far for Sally, who glared at him. In one swift movement she pulled herself back from the cliff edge and got up off the ground.
“Well if that is what you think, I’ll leave you to your searching,” Sally said huffily, dusting the dirt off her knees and turning on her heel to walk away. David quickly followed suit realising his mistake.
“Sally,” he groaned, not bothering to dust down his own knees. He caught her arm as she swung away from him. “I’m sorry,” he said gently. “It was a stupid thing for me to say,” he admitted quietly.
Sally turned and looked at him over her shoulder, chewing her bottom lip. She sighed and turned back to face him.
“Not stupid at all,” she said quietly, leaning against the railings. “That is certainly not the first time I’ve been told to lighten up,” she said remembering Alicia’s jealous comments in second year when she had been made head girl .
David raised an eyebrow at her, unsure of what to say next. He gave her arm a gently squeeze. “I am sorry,” he said honestly. “I was just trying to make the best out of an awkward situation. You really think I like scrabbling around up here looking for papers that, if I’m completely honest, have probably already left the country.”
Sally smiled a little. “Well I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one thinking these things,” she told David, taking his hand and giving it a friendly squeeze.
“Come on,” David said with a grin. “Let’s go and have another look, see if we can spot anything, while there’s still a reasonable amount of daylight.”