A Piece of my Imagination
"Well, that's fucked it," said Tony when he received his CAP score. Whilst six point two was a reasonable score and it clearly showed he wasn't a complete loss to the human race it wasn't high enough for him to volunteer for the Confederacy Marines.
His friend Bob looked over at the outburst and asked, "You too?"
"Six point two," said Tony confirming out loud his score. "What did you get?"
"Exactly six," replied his friend in disgust, "which means we're both stuck here," he concluded with a shrug.
The pair of them took the high tech. ID cards that the machine had spit out with their incriminating numbers on and shoved them unceremoniously into the back pockets of their jeans and left the testing centre.
"What d'you want to do now?" asked Bob looking to Tony for leadership as usual.
Tony took a look around and didn't see anything encouraging. "Well, it's two hours before the first ferry back so we may as well get something to eat." He glanced back at his friend before snorting, "Come on, you'll feel better after you've chomped your way through a couple of burgers."
Bob was decidedly the larger of the two boys outweighing his friend by at least fifteen kilos though they both topped out at one metre eighty-eight. The hard work the two of them put in routinely on their parent's farms meant that neither of them was out of shape.
Entering their favourite fast food place the boys looked around and were surprised to see a small crowd gathered around a man in the corner. As they approached the counter they started to hear what the man was saying.
"Simply put we are asking why should these aliens decide who should go and who should stay?"
After waiting for the muttering to subside he continued, "What we believe is that until these aliens agree that all of the human race should be evacuated no one should be allowed to leave."
Tony raised an eyebrow at his friend who shrugged in response. Still half listening the pair placed their substantial order for burgers, drinks and doughnuts as in the background the man continued talking, his voice clearly carrying through the quiet that surrounded him.
"I know that this is hard to accept, especially if you're one of the ones that these creatures have singled out for survival but isn't it right that all of us should stick together in the face of this menace? Isn't it right that everyone should be treated the same - after all - it tells us in the Bible that we were all created equal? Why should the few - the privileged few at that - be allowed to survive whilst the rest of us are left here to perish?"
The voice of the man was rising with each question he asked and around him the crowd was becoming more animated in response. Tony looked at his tray and decided that he didn't want to get involved with the mob and led Bob to the outside seating area. It may have been chilly but at least it was quiet and away from any potential trouble.
As they sat down Bob looked back at the crowd and asked his friend, "Do you think he had a point in there?"
"Oh he had a point all right," said Tony, "but I doubt if it was a valid point."
"Why not?" asked his friend.
Tony took a sip of his milkshake before answering. "Think back to when the Darjee turned up," he said, "everyone concerned - from the Yank President to the village idiot - made it clear that, at best, they'd only be able to get a third of the people away. They told us then that they were going to test everyone so that they could have the pick of the crop to carry on the human race. The rest of us," he included himself for the first time, "would have to stay here and take our chances. If we were lucky we might even win the fight."
"But if we did what he's saying in there then we'd all get away," said Bob.
"You think so?" asked Tony. "Did you notice how he didn't tell anyone where the extra ships were coming from to carry all these people? Nor did he tell us where the new colonies are that were going to absorb these extra evacuees." Tony took another sip of his drink before adding, "and I bet under his new rules it'll be him and his friends who get to decide who goes where and in what order not the rest of the people who put them in a position to decide. At least we know the Darjee have been honest even if we don't like the results."
Bob looked back at the crowd and Tony watched as enlightenment occurred.
Finally Bob asked, "What do you think his CAP score is?"
"I've no idea Bob, but one thing's for sure," Tony said, "I bet it's lower than ours."
Blerwick Island was a small island off the West Coast of Scotland. It was roughly nine kilometres long and three kilometres wide of sharply rising crags and broken heather covered hillsides. The single town, a large village really, was centred on the natural deep-water harbour that was the original reason for humans to be on the island.
The island had two major industries, fishing and farming, both of which had been in decline for the last thirty years or so. The island was part of the lands held by the Earl of Carnforth and had belonged to that family for several hundred years.
In the middle of the eighteenth century the then Earl had built a retreat on the island to get away from the growing industrialisation that was starting to appear around his ancestral home on the mainland. The retreat he had constructed was known locally as Carnforth Castle but was actually based on a large hunting lodge that the Prince Regent had had built in the Forest of Dean. In the early nineteenth century the Lodge had been the location for many of the Earl's parties and had led to several new cottages being built in the nearby town to accommodate his staff.
Although the current Earl maintained the Lodge he hadn't actually used the property for over fifteen years and currently there was only a staff of three in residence. Paul Smythe was the estate warden and had overall responsibility for the upkeep of the Lodge. He was assisted by George Marchiondale, the groundsman who was responsible for the formal gardens and the small shooting preserve and Rosalind Grace who acted as housekeeper.
Blerwick was also the home of Tony and Bob as well as their respective families. The families had been tenant farmers of the Earl of Carnforth for as long as the island had been in his possession, eking out a living that was barely above the subsistence level. It was only recently that both families had started taking in tourists and had seen an upturn in their fortunes.
The visitors came to see the various sea birds that made their home on the western cliffs of the island, facing off into the wild Atlantic Ocean. The two families had worked together to produce comfortable if basic hides overlooking the cliffs and advertised their presence on the Internet, an innovation that was the idea of the two young men who'd been sent to school on the mainland. Tony and his family had converted a barn into two holiday apartments while on their neighbours' farm they'd adapted their old home into an apartment and moved into the modernised barn.
Following the success achieved by the Collins and Stewart families several of the nearby farms had followed suit and now the island was attracting a steady but small stream of visitors throughout the year.
The total population of the island excluding the visitors had fallen from a high of six hundred between the two World Wars to a meagre two hundred and twenty. Of that number more than half worked in the various offshore industries like fishing and on the gas platforms and were only home for one week in four.
As Tony and Bob well knew, the island could be a lonely but beautiful place to grow up.
"I believe, Madam Chairman, that we really do not have any choice," the dark skinned woman stood tall as she addressed the committee members clustered around the table. "We have been placed in loco parentis of these girls and regardless of this ridiculous decision, that they become adults at fourteen, we cannot absolve ourselves of that responsibility."
"That's all very well, Ms Roberts," said the older woman from the head of the table, "but their guardians have been extracted and as they are all older than fourteen they, unfortunately, have been left behind. Legally we are in a very difficult position," she smiled grimly, "after all, they are legally adults and we cannot keep them here if they wish to depart."
Ms Janine Roberts drew in another breath, she half agreed with Margaret Mackie but she couldn't just throw her girls out because their parents had been lucky enough to get away especially with the way that things were descending into anarchy. "Madam Chairman, under the agreement that all the guardians signed, which I believe is still binding in law, the young ladies cannot leave the school unless they have a place at another teaching establishment. Clearly, with their guardians no longer on the planet that cannot happen and therefore the agreement is still binding. Which means we are responsible for them until they are eighteen, adults or not."
The only male at the table raised his hand slightly, a single finger pointing upwards.
"Yes, Rector?" asked Margaret Mackie, glad of a short reprieve from Janine's onslaught.
"Wouldn't that agreement become null and void when the term fees are not paid?" he asked.
Betty Clark, the school treasurer field the question easily, "It would Rector, but that isn't going to happen," she said. Catching several raised eyebrows around the table she continued, "The Confederacy is honouring any financial commitments that the volunteers entered into for the term of said agreements." She pushed her glasses up and rubbed the bridge of her nose for a moment before dropping them back into place. Continuing she said, "I believe that it was originally intended to ensure that young adults, who had to stay behind, were able to keep their family homes without fear of repossession. But it applies to all financial commitments that the extractees had so school fees, like ours, will be paid until the girls are eighteen."
"Oh," responded the Rector and then dropped back, his part in the meeting effectively over.
Erika Jäger raised her hand and Margaret acknowledged her right to speak.
"What everyone here is saying," she said in her accented English, "is that the school is fragmenting," she held up her hand to stop interruptions, "whether we like it or not. In it's current form the school will not survive the impact of the Sa'arm and the Earth First group." She glanced around and received several nods of agreement, "What we need to decide is what we are going to do about it?"
Before anyone could start Erika continued, "Because of our legal commitment to those whose guardians have been extracted we appear to be left with only two choices. We either soldier on as we are and try to mitigate the trouble when it happens or we split the school and go our separate ways."
Faced with that simple stark statement the board of governors sat in silence for several minutes.
Janine Roberts eventually shuffled back to her feet and spoke, "I believe that the benefits to all of those who we are here to help and support can best be met by dividing the school in two. Therefore I propose that we split the school with those who wish to support the Earth First group remaining here, as they appear to be in the majority. Whilst those of us who support the extraction process as it is now being implemented moving to Blerwick and begin a school there."
Margaret Mackie sighed with resignation and asked, "Do I have a second for the motion?"
"Aye," responded Erika and Betty immediately.
"All those in favour of splitting the school raise a hand," she said despondently, knowing that the school she'd supported for the last twenty years was falling apart before her.
The vote was carried as those who believed in the extractions wanted to get away and those who thought that the Earth First group was right were happy to get rid of them. The next hour was spent with the governors thrashing out the what, when and how of the separation. Neither party was willingly giving up all the things that had made the school so successful over the years.
In the end a compromise was reached and the two halves were free to go their separate ways. As the protagonists left the boardroom Erika turned to Janine, "How many do you think will be going with us?"
"About a third is my guess," she answered rubbing her eyes. "You know I wish there was some other way of making them," she indicated the crowd that was gathering opposite them, "see that this is the best for everyone in the long run."
"You believe that, even if you get left behind?"
"My CAP score's only six point four," said Janine, "I'm one of those who's going to be stuck here but that doesn't make keeping everyone else here right, not by a long shot."
"Don't get me wrong Janine," said Erika, "I agree with you totally but I think you're going to have a hard time convincing that lot to be altruistic."
"To be honest Erika, I'm not even going to try," said Janine. "If they're too blind to see that getting away from here and the trouble that's brewing is the only realistic way of doing things then I don't want them with us."
The three women watched from the observation deck of the small ferry as the island grew in size before them and looked at what they hoped was going to be their new home. They were greeted by a grey morning over a grey rock that was only brightened by the greens and purples of the bracken that covered most of the hillsides before them.
In the harbour were six or seven small boats that had clearly seen better days, which was also as good a way as any of describing the houses that overlooked the quayside. The only signs of brightness are the reds and blues that covered the doors to the diminutive fishermen's cottages.
Above the harbour with no clear way of getting to it was what they assumed was Carnforth Castle, the residence that they hoped to turn into a school away from school for the girls who'd been put into their charge. The journey here had been long and arduous trek for the three women and they were looking forward to having time to relax before they started preparing for the arrival of the students.
The ferry nosed up to the jetty and the forward ramp was lowered slowly down. The three women joined the four locals in walking across the ramp dragging their suitcases behind them. They stood on the windswept quay and looked around seeking assistance but there was nothing or no one in sight.
"Now what?" asked Betty looking at Janine.
"I really have no idea," she replied looking at the letter that Margaret Mackie had given her. "This simply says that the Lodge can be used as a school and that the staff there know we are coming."
Erika had been looking around as the two women talked and let out a chuckle, which attracted their attention. "I think we're going to have to walk," she said.
"What!" exclaimed Janine looking in horror at the hill the Castle was stood on.
"Look around Jan," she said, "Can you see any motorised transport at all?"
The women looked and were surprised to find that Erika was correct. Apart from two hand carts at the end of the quay there didn't appear to be any transport anywhere.
"Oh shit," declared Betty looking at her large suitcase in trepidation. "Do you suppose there will be anything up at the Castle they could send down?" she asked hopefully.
"I doubt it," said Erika as she watched someone approaching on what appeared to be a tricycle.
Whoever it was appeared to be heading for the ferry as he piloted the strange contraption onto the quay and headed towards them.
The young man stopped about ten feet from them and stepped off the machine and turned to collect something from the basket on the back of the trike.
"Afternoon," he greeted the women as he moved past them and onto the ferry. From where they stood they could hear him greet a couple of the crewmen before he slipped into the wheelhouse. He was only out of sight for a couple of minutes before he reappeared and headed back to his machine.
The three women had stood there and watched not saying a word. It was Erika, who seemed to be the least stunned of the three who intercepted the man as he walked past them."
"Excuse me," she called out, "Young man."
The young man stopped and looked at the three women. The one who was talking was slim with blond hair and quite tall. With her were an older woman who had dark hair with a few grey streaks in it and a shortish woman who was fairly plump. All of them were dressed in grey business suits and, to his amusement, heels.
"Yes Miss?" he replied.
"We're supposed to be going to the Lodge," she said, "and I was wondering if there was any transport we could use."
The young man chuckled, then stopped himself. "I take it that no one has told you about the island?" he asked.
"No," said the woman shaking her head.
"Nothing new there then," he said. "There is no motorised transport on the island," he said, "we haven't got any roads or a fuel supply for them to use." He looked at the luggage the three women had and his better nature came to the fore.
"Look," he said, "I can help you get your cases up there but you're going to have to walk." He glanced at their feet again and suggested; "If you've got any flat shoes in your luggage I'd change now while I get a trailer for the bike."
With that he walked off towards the end of the quay and the carts that were there.
"Well I don't know about you two," said Erika as she reached for her case, "but I'm going to take his advice."
By the time he returned with the trolley all three women had their cases open and were digging out flat shoes or, in the case of Erika, a pair of walking boots. He hooked the trolley to the back of his bike and waited for the women to fasten their cases.
Janine looked at the trolley and asked, curiously, "Is that yours?"
"No," he replied for emphasis, "I'm not sure who got that one but they're all pretty much of a muchness."
"But isn't that stealing?" Janine asked sounding shocked.
The young man smiled, "Not here," he said, "as long as it comes back eventually it doesn't really matter. It's the same with most of the stuff here." He took in their shocked looks and added, "I've helped make three of these things and haven't got a clue where they are."
He picked up the first case and casually dropped it into the trolley before reaching for Janine's, "In most cases they end up back here as this is where they are most useful." He turned and found Erika with her case in her hands so he stepped back and let her add it to the top of the pile.
"If you'll follow me I'll lead the way," he said changing into the lowest gear on the bike and slowly starting to turn the pedals.
The four of them made their way from the harbour along a gravel track and started to climb the hill. "So what's your name?" asked Janine.
"I'm Tony," replied the young man, "and what are your names?"
"I'm Janine Roberts and this is Betty Clark," she said indicating the short plump woman who was starting to puff. "The Amazon," she said indicating the woman striding along effortlessly "is Erika Jäger." Her comment got a laugh from both Tony and Erika.
"So what brings you here?" Tony asked and was greeted by silence as the three women exchanged glances.
What followed was both cryptic and confusing.
"Should we?" asked Betty.
"I don't know," replied Janine.
"We should," stated Erika.
"Why?" asked Betty.
"They'll know eventually," responded Erika as Janine looked on undecided.
"Isn't that better that knowing now?" replied Betty.
"I don't think so, if nothing else we'll need help eventually," said Erika. All of which had Tony well and truly confused.
"You're right Erika, we shouldn't need to hide," said Janine before turning her attention to Tony. "We're setting up a school at the Lodge."
"Why here?" asked Tony thinking of lots of places that he'd consider as preferable locations for a school.
"To get away from the idiots in the Earth First party," said Erika explosively.
"Sorry Janine but it's true," said the tall blond not sounding repentant at all.
"Are they the ones who are on about stopping all the extractions until the Darjee agree to take everyone?" asked Tony.
"Those are the ones," admitted Janine nervously.
Tony nodded, "I met one last time I was on the mainland," he said. "Thought he was an idiot then and I haven't seen anything to change my opinion."
"What about the rest of the people here?" asked Janine doing her best to mask her anxiety.
"I doubt if you'll find many of them that would disagree with me," he said, "especially after they've given it some thought."
"That's half the problem," said Janine, "people don't think before they react."
Tony smiled at the worried woman, "I wouldn't worry about that around here," he said, "we've got so much time we always think things through before we react." He grinned, "It's why some people call us slow," he paused for a moment before adding, "but not to our faces."
Erika let out a very unladylike snort before turning red and looking away.
The track they were following swung to the right and before them stood the gates to the Lodge. The two wrought iron gates stood open and inviting, displaying the well-tended gardens within. It took the group another five minutes to actually reach the main door to the Lodge where a man stood waiting for them.
"Afternoon Tony, what have you got here?" asked Paul Smythe the estate warden.
"Afternoon Mr Smythe, they're a bunch of school teachers who believe that you're expecting them."
"Mr Smythe, I'm Janine Roberts," she said stepping forward and holding out her hand, "I hope you are expecting us."
"I am," said the man shaking the woman's hand, "though nobody actually said when you'd be arriving. If you'll all come this way we can have a cup of tea and get acquainted" He turned to Tony before he left and asked, "Can you put their luggage in hall for me Tony?"
"No problem Mr Smythe," said Tony who turned and grabbed the first case. Erika stepped forward to take it and Tony said quietly, "It's alright Miss I'll see to it. You go with the rest and keep an eye on things," he finished with a wink.
Erika looked at him for a moment before returning the wink and following the rest into the Lodge.
"The Earl has informed me that the Lodge is going to become a school," said Peter as he settled into his armchair. The three women had already taken seats around the small reception room and appeared tense as the tone of his statement swept over them.
He continued, "He didn't give me any more details than that and now you've arrived with little in the way of warning." Peter frowned, "I suppose you'd better tell me what you're expecting?"
Janine was annoyed with the man because of his apparent attitude but she was determined to make the most of the situation. She sat up in her chair and began, "The Earl and his family have been associated with our school for a long time and with the current problems he has generously allowed us access to the Lodge. We intend to run a full school here for approximately seventy students along with the necessary staff."
Peter surprised her then by asking, "I understood that the school had nearly three hundred students?"
"It does," admitted Janine, "but we are only bringing those who wish to come."
"Why is that?" pressed Peter.
"Are you aware of what is happening in the country?"
"We do have television here," said Peter allowing a certain amount of sarcasm to creep into his voice.
"Sorry," said Janine contritely, "At the school some of us felt that it would be better to get away from the possible trouble that was brewing but there were those who felt that there would be no trouble. At a board meeting last month it was decided to split the school and after asking it was found that the majority of the students elected to stay in London."
"Why did you feel it was necessary to leave?" asked Peter, "I mean the government is assuring everyone that they have no intention of allowing anarchy to rule."
"They may be saying that," said Janine, "but several of the CAP testing stations have already been attacked and we've all seen the reports on those extractions that have been disrupted." She looked Peter in the eye, "What you may not have heard is that after those extractions had been stopped people were killed. All of the volunteers in those locations died as did many of those people who'd made it obvious they'd be willing to go as concubines."
"How do you know that?" asked Peter shocked.
"My brother was a policeman and told me about it," Janine said with tears appearing in her eyes.
Peter had picked up on the past tense of her statement and asked softly, "Was?"
"He died in the line of duty three months ago," she said, then added significantly, "during an extraction."
"I see," said Peter and that explains why you're so determined to get away from the city he thought.
Just then the door opened and a woman entered carrying a large tray. Peter stood up and crossed towards an occasional table, "Ladies, this is Rosalind Grace, she's the housekeeper here. Rosie, this is Janine, Betty and Erika," he said indicating each of the women in turn, "they're here to set up the school the Earl told us about."
The woman placed the tray on the occasional table and nodded to each of the seated women before she set about serving tea.
"So ladies, what have you decided so far?" asked Rosie.
"We were just starting to discuss what we needed with Peter," replied Janine.
Peter returned to his seat and waited whilst Rosie found herself a place. "I've given the matter some thought but without exact numbers to work with it's been a bit nebulous," he said, "but I believe the upper rooms could be turned into dormitories." He paused to take a sip of his tea before continuing, "I'd thought at first that we might be able to squeeze eight beds into each room but, if your numbers are right, we should get away with six to a room."
Rosie frowned, "We'd have to get the beds and wardrobes shipped in from the mainland."
"I know," said Peter, "I'd have to get the buggies from Tam again." When he saw the visitors looking confused he explained, "When we have to move something particularly large or as in this case a large quantity of items I contact the golf course over on the mainland and use their electric golf buggies to move things. It's a lot easier than trying to carry things up from the dock by hand."
Recent experience ensured that the three women agreed with the warden's logic.
"How many class rooms would you need?" asked Peter returning to the matter in hand.
"We tend to work with around ten students to a class," said Erika joining the conversation for the first time, "so seven or eight rooms would be ideal."
Peter nodded before asking, "Would you need a gymnasium?"
"Most of the girls do volleyball or netball," answered Erika, "as well as Tae Kwon Do. So some sort of a gym would be helpful."
Peter nodded his understanding before his next question, "What about administration space, would you need any offices and how many staff will there be?"
"A couple of offices would be handy but as long as we have somewhere to keep the files securely we can get by without," replied Betty.
"There will be eight teachers and four assistants," added Janine, "that's in addition to the three of us."
Peter sat and thought for a while as the women sipped at their tea; eventually he spoke. "I think it'll work," he declared. "There are sufficient rooms upstairs to set up dormitories for the girls and if we use the barn as a gymnasium we should be able to set up the classrooms down here." He smiled at Betty, "I'm afraid that the office space will be down in the cellars but they're not dark or damp so it shouldn't be to much of a hardship."
He returned his attention to Janine, "The estate still owns six cottages in the town so we can put the staff up there and that will just leave enough room for the three of you to stay here."
He picked up his teacup and finished off the drink, "Let me show you around so you can get a feel for the place and we'll start planning how we'll make the necessary changes."
Feeling much happier the three women from London relaxed for the first time since their arrival on Blerwick.
What followed was three weeks of unprecedented activity on the island, not just at the Lodge although that was the centre of attention, but everywhere. The port was so busy and the ship so full that the owners of the ferry put on an extra sailing each day just to cope. On the island itself the farmers and their families found themselves being roped in to provide labour and in the town several women were employed to clean the parts of the lodge that hadn't seen activity for several years. Another group was let loose on the cottages that belonged to the Lodge getting everything ready for occupation.
Nearly everyone in the town turned out to assist or witness the seemingly endless stream of beds and wardrobes that made the journey from the quayside to the Lodge. The constant travelling up and down the hill ensured that the borrowed golf buggies with their attached trailers earned their keep.
After a hard days work Tony was relaxing with Bob outside the only pub in town whilst watching the sunset over the Lodge on the hill. "You know," he said breaking the tranquil silence, "the students begin arriving tomorrow."
"Yeah," said Bob, "I know."
"So what do you think our chances are?" Tony asked, "I mean, there are going to be seventy odd girls up there between eleven and eighteen and there are what, eleven, twelve of us on the island in that age range?"
Bob thought for a moment and then realised that Tony was ignoring the island girls, "Yeah about that," he said, "even less if you leave out the likes of Les and Virgil who are almost married."
"So there's going to be you and me and possibly Phil and Andrew," Tony said naming two fifteen-year-old boys, "who'll be after the older girls."
Tony started making patterns on the bench with the condensation off his glass, "If the girls are split equally by age," he said, "then it'll mean that there are going to be about ten sixteen year olds and the same for seventeen and eighteen year olds." He grinned, "Worst case we'll have half a dozen girls each to make a play for."
"Come off it Tony," said Bob, "You'll have a chance at the lot, the rest of us will have to make do with your cast-offs." Bob could have sounded bitter but he didn't, as far as he was concerned he was simply stating a fact.
"Don't be stupid Bob," replied a grinning Tony, "it's not that bad, besides I fancy that teacher, Erika. I reckon she'd really be worth the effort."
"That's half your trouble," said Bob, "to much ambition. I don't understand why you don't just settle for what's attainable?"
"But that's no fun," replied Tony before he lifted his pint.
Before Bob could continue the discussion they were interrupted by the arrival of Constable Glossop. Don Glossop was the only lawman assigned to the island and only managed to actually visit the place about twice a week, not that there was a lot for him to do when he was there. Even so the force had provided a combined cottage and police station for those times when he was forced to stay on the island.
"Evening boys," he called and then, because it was expected of him, "you're not going to over indulge in that now are you?"
"Not us Constable," replied Tony. He took another sip and then asked, "Will you be joining us?"
"I'm afraid not tonight, I've got to go up to the Lodge and make sure that everything's OK up there." He couldn't help grinning when he asked, "I take it you're aware that the girls are arriving tomorrow?"
"Strange you should mention that," answered Bob, "we were just discussing the very subject."
"And?" asked the Constable.
"Tony here reckons they're going to be like lambs to the slaughter!"
"I wouldn't bank on it," replied the lawman, "remember, these are all city girls, they're likely to be much more worldly wise that the girls around here." His grin widened, "Which is probably just as well with you around!"
Tony grinned back at the Constable, "That just makes it more of a challenge," he said.
"I suppose it does at that," said the Constable. "Well you take care and go easy on that stuff. I'll see you around," he said and turned away to begin the long walk up to the Lodge.
The following morning Bob and Tony were amongst the most blatant of the bystanders when the ferry pulled into the quayside. Waiting for it to tie up were ten of the borrowed golf buggies and perhaps another dozen people, a few of who actually had legitimate business there.
In many ways the boys were disappointed as the girls began to disembark. It had been early morning when the girls had been awoken and told to get dressed and they'd been instructed to make sure they dressed up warm. They'd only had to look out at the grey morning that greeted them to heed the warning.
The result of this was a steady stream of girls crossing to the buggies dressed in trainers, jogging suits and thick coats. One thing the boys didn't know was that the teachers escorting the girls had split them into three groups by age and had sent the middle group across first. So the twenty-seven girls the boys looked at as they crossed to the buggies were between fourteen and sixteen.
Bob looked at Tony, "Well I don't think that was worth rushing my chores for!" he said.
Tony nodded, "It didn't look that impressive did it?" he said and then grinned. "Mind you I bet they took one look at us and thought the same."
Bob looked at Tony in his overalls and found himself grinning, "You could be right there."
"Well I guess that's it until the next ferry comes in," said Tony with a shrug, "Come on, lets get back and see what needs doing."
"I won't be bothering to come back," said Bob.
Tony glanced back over his shoulder and did a quick calculation, "I reckon it's going to take them three trips to get everyone here," he said, "so I'll be back for the last ferry and then have a pint."
"Not me," said Bob, "I'm watching the football tonight."
"Boring," said Tony as the pair set off back to their farms.
Tony carried his beer from the pub and settled onto a piling at the end of the jetty just as the last ferry of the day pulled in. Gossip in the pub had informed him that the second batch of girls for the school had been even younger than the first group, which is what he'd sort of been hoping for.
He took a sip of his beer and looked on as the crew went about the routine task of securing the ferry and preparing to unload the last lot of passengers for the day.
First off were the half a dozen or so islanders returning from a days work on the mainland and then there seemed to be a bit of confusion before a group of young ladies filed off. Simply by looking at them from a distance Tony could tell that these girls were older. Their silhouettes were much more inviting than the younger girls he'd seen first thing in the morning.
He was concentrating on them that much that he nearly dropped his pint when a horn went off behind him. His head snapped towards the sound and he came eye to eye with Erika, who was driving the first of a convoy of buggies. She grinned at him knowingly as the nearly silent vehicle rolled past followed by the rest of the transport the school had been using.
Grinning to himself at getting caught ogling he raised his pint in salute before getting to his feet and walking down the quayside to get a better view and offer any assistance if it was needed. By the time Tony reached the crowd Erika was out of the buggy and was directing operations.
Several girls were gathered around Erika when Tony reached them, she glanced up and smiled, "Ladies," she said, "allow me to present Tony, who was the first man on the island to help us when we arrived." Tony felt himself blushing as Erika continued, "he's also single so be nice to him!"
A flurry of giggles and a couple of interested looks from the girls greeted this statement.
Erika continued, "Tony, these young ladies make up the senior class. This is Katherine," she said pointing to a petite redhead on her right, " and next to her is Lorraine and then Martha." Erika turned to her left and continued, "these two are Patience and Prudence, who in case you hadn't noticed are twins." Tony had no difficulty in identifying the tall, slim blondes as twins but didn't have time to stare as Erika introduced the final girl in the group, "and the girl at the end is Susannah," she said. The last girl was a raven-haired beauty who was also big; if Tony hadn't known that it was impossible he'd have taken her for one of the augmented Marines he'd seen pictures of on the television. She was over six feet tall and built like a brick outhouse but didn't look to have an ounce of fat on her. She also appeared to be incredibly shy if the way she blushed and looked down was anything to go by.
Remembering his manners Tony said, "Good evening ladies, I hope the journey wasn't to arduous," and after he'd received a couple of muttered replies he turned his attention to Erika. "I was just going to ask if you needed any help?" he said raising an eyebrow.
It was Erika's turn to blush as it occurred to her that the young man was flirting with her. "Oh no, not tonight Tony," which when Martha giggled caused her blush to deepen. Tony grinned before bidding the ladies goodnight and wandered back down the quay with his pint in hand.
As the girls got on the last golf buggy Lorraine called from the back seat, "Ms Jäger, are all the boys here that sexy?" Which was greeted by another fit of giggles from the other occupants. Erika still quite flushed, glanced over her shoulder and grinned in reply, "Unfortunately they're not." Then seeing the looks on the girls' faces she added under her breath, "or maybe that should be fortunately."
Deborah Remark looked around the dining room and still felt wonder at the decor, the place hadn't been changed that much to accommodate the school and the old oil paintings still adorned the walls. As head of catering it was her job to feed the children and staff at the school, and she'd been grateful for the help that Rosie Grace, the housekeeper, had given her.