He had seen Aunt Edith very little since the month began and there she had been. He wondered why she was keeping to herself. Nobody seemed to notice her absence and if they did, they said not a word. He walked down the corridor and as he passed her door he could see the shadow of her feet underneath the doorway. He could hear her voice. Was she talking to someone and if she was who would it be? Why the secrecy? Walter could not understand it. Without much thought, he walks past her room toward the back door. He didn’t notice the Psychai flying overhead. He opened the door and let himself out.
“Hallo, Cadi,” Walter greeted the cat. She had just finished her milk and began rubbing herself against Walter’s leg, but she didn’t turn into her human form. She began to meow and looked up at him. “What is wrong?” Walter said. “Does Archibal want to see me?” She purred in satisfaction and rubbed against his leg again. He took out his ring and off he went to Archibal’s manor.
In a blink of an eye, he stood outside the manor’s large wooden door. Alden and the elder Mr. Clough were already there. “He called for us too,” Alden beamed. “I wonder what he wants.” They approached the doors as they opened by themselves. Mr. Clough was impressed. They entered the foyer and waited for Archibal to appear. The wooden doors closed behind them in their usual tremendous bang, startling Mr. Clough.
“You can both stand there all you like, but I can assure you, nothing exciting is going to happen,” Archibal said from the library. They follow his voice. “Glad all of you could make it. Cadi told me your school was eradicated. The one thing, I dislike is benighted children. So, for the mean time, I wish to teach you.”
Walter glanced at a smiling Mr. Clough and a restive Alden who didn’t share the enthusiasm. Anytime spent away from chores was a relief for Walter.
“Will Cadi be joining us?” Walter said.
“I am afraid she is on a temporary quiescence,” he said. “You can see her another time. Mr. Bagley, I see you bought someone.”
“This is my grandfather,” Alden said. “Mr. Clough.”
“Nice to meet your acquaintance,” Mr. Clough smiled.
“The pleasure is mine,” Archibal said.
“I haven’t been in school for some time, so I might be a bit rusty,” Mr. Clough said. “But, I’m looking forward to it and it’ll be good for Alden. I always tell him to learn more than just be a scapegrace. Sure, I got fine without an education, but a little learning doesn’t hurt anyone. I worked hard all my life and I want him to achieve greater things. None of the teachers that have passed through our town were what I thought sage, but you, I think he can learn a lot from you. You have a magnificent library. I can see that. I built one myself. Filled it with every book I could get my hands on. His mother hated school and I don’t want him to think school is nonsense and boring. Maybe it don’t make some man rich but at least if someone asks him where west he can give the man directions. You need to go to school, is what I’ve told him.”
Alden’s cheeks were flushed red of embarrassment.
“Well, in that note we should begin,” Archibal signaled for the boys to take a seat at the two tables he had prepared for them. Walter took his seat and set before him was a notebook, dip pen, a bottle of ink, and a couple of books. Alden grimaced at the sight of the similar set on his table. “Before I began is there any questions?”
“I don’t have any, for now,” Mr. Clough said. Alden only shook his head, but Walter did have a question. “Archibal, Cadi told us she didn’t have school like we do.”
“That is correct, Mr. Banny,” Archibal said. “She has more of a practical teaching. Yours and Alden consists of theories.”
“I think my parents will worry if I stay too long,” Alden said.
“Don’t worry about that, Mr. Bagley. I have arranged for it,” Archibal said. “Now let’s begun, we have a lot to go through. I will teach you astrology, arithmetic, history, science and Latin. Were you ever taught Latin?” Alden, Walter and Mr. Clough shook their heads. “It is a dying art but it will be useful. To start, I will tell you a story. For as long as anyone can remember, war has always been a part of humanity. They fought for freedom, for lands, for equality or to preserve their livelihood. Long, long time ago a new kingdom was fighting for their independence, but the men did not know how to fight. They were farmers not soldiers they argued to their King, but he would not listen and sent them to war. They, indeed, had disadvantages and little by little the farmers fell to their deaths. Something had to be done, so the King sent the best leaders to the front, but even they couldn’t help the farmers. He then sent the bravest, then the strongest and finally the most astute, with the same results. When winter came, the farmers had little chance of survival, but who could lead them. The men were losing hope and they felt abandoned by their King. By spring, a man with education from a faraway land, approached the King. ‘I will teach your men to fight, but I will demand a high price. I will also demand their dedication, their loyalty and their attention. In return, I will teach them to fight like soldiers and not farmers.’ The King agreed and for that spring he taught them to march, shoot, and be disciplined. When summer came, they were ready to fight as a group instead of individuals and they won the war. With that said we shall began.”
The boys sat listening to Archibal, explaining them astrology, arithmetic, history, science and Latin. Five hours later, the lessons ended. Walter had never been taught all those subjects before and found them interesting. Alden looked like his head was spinning with so much information. Mr. Clough was also intrigued, for a ghost, he was more fascinated about the lessons than Alden was. Archibal didn’t just leave them empty handed. He gave them assignments for them to do by the next lessons. Archibal would teach them five times a week, unless something unexpected came up. Walter didn’t see Cadi that day or the next day when he was back at the manor. He actually never got to see Cadi at all. He wondered if she was all right.