Practical Exercise

“Do you have any idea why he’s so upset?” I asked.  Jackson shook his head.  I suppose I could ask Brennan what his problem was, but after he threatened me I had no interest in speaking with him again.  Then I saw the obvious.  “But I paid for a standard academic load,” I said.  “I’m entitled to another course.  Can I register late?”

“Yes.  With permission of whoever is teaching it.”  He held up a hand.  “Today is eight-day, late in the day.  You’ll need to ask the Faculty member on four-day, meaning you have a three days to prepare. Except you need my signature, and I will not be back until five-day. What do you want to take?”

I frowned. The needed memory took a while longer to surface.  “Ethics was the same time as Schools of Magical Thought, which I wanted to take and couldn’t, because Ethics was in the way.”  Ethics was a requirement, by reputation a challenging course, so like any sensible person I chose to get the difficult requirements out of the way as fast as possible.

“Let me check the Index,” Jackson said.  I politely told him the course number.  He leafed through a battered copy of the course listings.  “Right time.  No prerequisites.  Instructor permission required.  Instructor is Serene Elder Master Darius Reading.  My note to myself says ‘permission not trivial to get’.  OK.” 

He reached into a drawer and pulled out a form.  Amazing, I thought.  His desk drawers were in as good order as the tool crib in our House machine shop.  I’d learned something else from him. He filled in a few lines and handed it to me.  “Word to the wise: Find his reserve shelves; this weekend, do a lot of reading.  As a final practical matter, unless you are entranced by a particular course, in which case we might talk, I suggest avoiding the History and Ethics people.  Word of your expulsion will surely have traveled around his Program, and that crew tends to stick together.  We are History, but we do not teach undergraduate courses.  If you decide you are interested in some historical issue, after this I can get you a pass to our library.”

A library pass to the History Tower was a big deal, or so Dad had told me.  “Thank you,” I managed.  “That’s very kind of you.  Does this turn into a feud, or is this a clean break?” I asked.

Jackson looked very surprised.  “Feud?  No.  Just avoid him.  Not hard; stay out of his building.  Then it’s a clean break.  Contact me if anything arises.  That’s why I’m here.”

“Thank you again,” I said as I stood.  Brennan had done me a favor and didn’t realize it.

Enter Larry White

I returned home to find someone moving into the suite at the far end of my row of townhouses.

I waved hello.  “Hi,” I called.  “Welcome to Dorrance Academy!  I’m Adara, Adara Triskittenion.”

About George Phillies

science fiction author -- researcher in polymer dynamics -- collector of board wargames -- President, National Fantasy Fan Federation
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