Puffing out his chest, trying to raise his head high, Jamie Dalton walked along the corridor with Oswell Peel. “It’s not fair, Saint Clements. You’ve grown so much. You must be at least six inches taller than me now.”
Oswell smiled. “Yes, Dalton, my aunt says she can’t keep pace with me. I noticed even Anthony Robins has overtaken you. He used to be the shortest in the class, didn’t he?” “Yes, he did.” Jamie chewed his lip. “I’m so glad this is our final year, aren’t you? That we only have two more terms after this one?”
He didn’t receive a reply for a while, and thought his friend hadn’t heard. Before he could repeat it, the door opened behind them and Silas Brown appeared, surrounded by his cronies.
“Oh, no,” Jamie murmured. “Not him.”
“Just ignore him,” hissed Peel.
That would be easier said than done. The bully still made him shudder in his boots, even though he hadn’t caused any real trouble since the event when he had forced him out of the window some three years previously.
“Good day, Quackers. I see you’ve shrunk even more.” Brown turned to his mates. “Do you think his mother—?”
“Don’t you start on him,” Oswell intervened, standing in front of his friend. “Jamie told me how he fell out of that window, and why. It’s not too late to report you to Mr Trout, you know. Just because you’ve escaped retribution all this time, doesn’t mean you couldn’t still be expelled.”
“Huh, it would be his word against mine,” snorted the bully, backing off. “Nobody would believe the little runt. And, anyway, your Jamie hasn’t the balls to report me.” “Maybe not—but I have, so just watch yourself.”
Brown walked off, his nose in the air, his mates whispering to each other as they hurried after him.
“That will make them think twice.” Oswell pulled Jamie by his sleeve through the door ahead.
“I would’ve stood up to him, Peel. I would. You didn’t need to fight my corner, but thank you, anyway.”
“We have to stick together, we underdogs. We mustn’t let the bast…sorry, bullies overcome us. My aunt says they are weak, that’s why they act as they do. We must show them we are strong.”
“Yes, I know, but…”
“Come on, it’s English Literature this morning, my favourite. We don’t want to be late on our first day back.” Jamie thanked his lucky stars that Oswell had remained his friend. Oswell still enjoyed the company of Prince Nasir from time to time, but the prince had made a new friend, another member of the Indian royalty, so had less time for him. Jamie still had not made any other friends, and his hero, Alexander Bank, had left at the end of the previous year. Nobody had taken his place in Jamie’s affections, so he only had Peel for a confidant.Click here to return to book