Chapter 3.2E

Coach Dan approached and nodded in the direction of Coach Pat, who grunted a reply and turned to leave, the Midland fencers following him with all the enthusiasm of a patient being escorted to a dental chair.

“Got the schedule,” said Coach Dan, the team gathering around him. “You’re on separate strips,” he said, then motioned to the near strip — “Rex” — the middle stip — “Annie” — then the furthest from them — “Bernie. Congrats — you get to face Francis Pine in the prelim.”

Bernie’s reaction ejaculated from his mouth, “Oh God, Frankenstein!”, as he flung his arms dramatically, wide and over his shoulders. Annie leaned forward, a concerned look on her face, whispered “Bernie” —

“And what have we here?” called a young man from behind Bernie, who froze in recognition of the approaching voice. “Is my name being uttered in derision? Come, come, allow me to face my tormentor!”

Bernie turned and saw the slim, tall figure of Francis Pine approaching — then suddenly stopping, holding his hand up to his mouth.

“Horrors! Is this the famed Bernie Scott, from Bark Bay High School! The one who vanquished the mighty Amy McIntyre from Midland last spring?”

Rex stepped forward, said “Good seeing you again — ”

“Pleasantries shall come later,” said Francis Pine politely as he side-stepped Rex and stood in front of Bernie. “And where is — Josh, was his name?”

“He didn’t make it,” said Coach Dan.

Francis Pine tutted loudly. “Ah, perhaps for the better, seeing as he was no match for Master Scott here. Now tell me, Bernie — I trust that I can call you Bernie, instead of Bernard, seeing as how you adroitly mocked me in a way that suggested a bit of, shall I say, admiriation? No, come to think of it,” he continued, waving a hand quickly in front of his face, “I should riposte your witicism with a playful jibe of my own –” his face now turning serious “– Bernie Scott, B Scott –” his eyes getting big, a hint of a snarl on his face, the final word spitting out — “Biscuit.”

Francis Pine allowed Bernie to stare back at him in silence for a moment, before backing away with a bow. “See you on the strip . . . Biscuit,” he said, then turned to Rex, greeting him warmly.

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