Title: The Boys of St. Cat's
Word Count: 5218
Disclaimer: High School Musical belongs to Disney, not me. I'm just giving them some jolly good fun before I put them back.
Summary: It's a new school year at St. Catherine's and the boys are on fine form. There are games to win and plays to perform – but what happens when the line between the two blurs? Chad Danforth is about to find out!
A/n: The Boys' Boarding School AU fic. More goshes, gollys and goodnesses than you can shake a hockeystick at.
Much love to the absolutely topping Sab, who knows far more bizarre school-story exclamations than I and helped me immensely.
And to Oz, who knows why. It's probably her fault I was reading The School At The Chalet on the coach in the first place.
The boys of St. Catherine's School for Young Gentlemen were in fine fettle that chilly Autumn morning. Hallos and cheers echoed across the courtyard as the two teams – First and Second rugby elevens – headed out across to the pitches for the first games practice of the school year. Chad Danforth, the bushy-headed star Hooker of the Fifth, jogged to join his most particular chum. The captain of the First Eleven was calling instructions as the players went past.
'Step lively there, Jones! No slacking from you this year. Baylor, tie those bootlaces up! Cross, Zara, do look where you're going!'
'You're working them hard, Bolton,' Danforth commented as he jogged up. 'Don't wring them all out on the first day, will you?'
Troy Bolton, the easy-going captain of the rugger team, showed his white teeth in a cheery smile. He was a long-limbed, athletic youth with a confidence in his gait that showed the maturity in his body.
'They've all gone soft over the hols,' he said. 'If I don't ride them hard now they'll never buck up. We can't lose to West Hill's knights this year!'
Danforth grinned. 'Well, as long as no one loses concentration I expect we'll do jolly well.'
'I'm certainly not planning on getting distracted,' Bolton announced. 'No, it's sport for breakfast, lunch and tea for me. Golly, even geog and maths can go hang for all I care. This year the Wild-Cats are going to win!'
It was some two-thirds of the way through the term that a spanner fell into the works at St. Catherine's. The year had been going swimmingly until then, the only problems having been a group from the Fourth almost getting caught out having a midnight feast in their dorm, the kitchen having a sudden shortage of pots thanks to Ortega of the Second's brilliant idea to re-enact the battle of Agincourt on the front lawn, and a prank on the French master that went horribly wrong (the smell wouldn't leave the classroom for simply days!). Youthful hi-jinks were, of course, to be expected in a school as spirited as St. Catherine's. What happened to start all the later events off, though, was terribly serious and not at all fun.
'Did you hear about old Klapow? Poor chap's got some frightful illness apparently. There's no way he'll be fit enough for the winter play!'
The whispers went round St. Catherine's dining hall at top speed. The school plays were always seen as jolly affairs for all and Klapow had been one of the leading lights of the drama society for the past few years. With such a small number of boys actually willing and talented enough to ply the dramatic arts, the incapacitation of Klapow was no small matter. After all, there were only a few weeks until the performance itself!
'Goodness,' remarked Baylor, setting down his plate and swinging his legs over the bench. 'Everyone's got themselves into quite the tizzy over this drama upheaval, haven't they?'
'Haven't they just,' Danforth agreed gloomily. 'It's all I've heard about all morning.'
'It is rather important,' Bolton put in quite unexpectedly. 'After all, if they can't find a Romeo then the whole play's off.'
'When did you start minding the drama club?' asked Danforth. 'I didn't think tights and poetry were your thing, captain.'
'Come off it, old chap, it's not all poetry. And you enjoy the plays as much as anyone!'
Danforth held up a warning finger. 'I only enjoyed last year's because there was the very distinct possibility that the chap on the left was going to lose his wig in every scene. And he did too!'
'Well, as a matter of fact, old thing, I'm thinking of going for it,' said Bolton.
'For the role of Romeo. I think I'd make rather a dashing hero, don't you think?' He struck a dramatic pose, chest puffed out and a hand to his brow. 'Besides, Gabriella has quite the penchant for the theatre. Maybe I could get her to visit for the performance.'
Danforth had had quite enough of this line of thought. 'Are you mad?' he protested. 'Have you forgotten about that game we have next month against the Westies? You can't go taking up theatrics now!'
Bolton said nothing, though the frown on his face said he certainly hadn't forgotten the idea.
'Yes, but at least you'd get to meet girls,' said Cross.
They all regarded him with quite puzzled expressions. It was a fairly normal occurrence that Jason Cross ran on slightly different tracks to the rest of them but finding out where he diverged at the points was always an entertaining occupation.
'I mean,' he continued slowly, 'that blonde last year was quite something.'
There was a further silence.
'That blond,' Baylor said slowly, taking Cross's shoulders and turning him to look down the dining hall, 'is sitting just over there. His name's Evans.'
Dinner continued with a terribly jolly explanation of the fine theatrical traditions of cross-dressing (in so far as they had understood it from English lessons with Madam Darbus - to whom they hadn't paid too much attention) and how it certainly did not apply to sportsmen like themselves. Once the meal was over, however, and they dispersed to do whatever they wished before prep, Danforth grabbed Bolton's arm and pulled him aside.
'You're not really going in for this, are you?'
'Why not?' said Bolton defensively, pulling his arm away. 'I won't let the team down, you know. I just want to try something a little different, that's all.'
'Try something to impress that girl, you mean,' Danforth snapped. 'She must be quite something to get you all bunched up like this.'
'Oh, she is!' Bolton leaned against the wall and sighed. 'Her laughter's like a bell, and she's just so beautiful and, golly but she's lovely…'
Danforth rolled his eyes and gave up.
Bolton – to the discussion and bemusement of most of the school – got the part. Danforth spent his time stamping round the school in a fury, an absolute bear with a sore head. Rugger practices became odd, quiet affairs with the captain and his second simply not talking to one another.
It got only more queer when Bolton started palling around with the theatre club, and stranger still when he brought some of them with him to sit with the football team one supper. The boys of the team had been a little shocked but cautiously welcome. The chatter had even proved not at all bad in the end. They were all chaps, after all, if with certain different interests. Danforth, still on the outs with Bolton over the whole acting thing, was (just) civil enough not to cause ructions - but could still barely bring himself to talk to the others.
'Buck up,' came a voice from beside him, half-way through the shepherd's pie. 'It might never happen, you know.'
Danforth turned to meet the bright blue eyes of Evans, the theatre club's leading skirt-wearer, who had apparently been sitting next to him for quite some time. The other boy was smiling and Danforth found himself hard-pressed not to return it. He managed to maintain his grumpy expression, though, and felt no small pride in himself.
'Already has,' he muttered, turning back to his plate. He heard a dismissive noise from beside him.
'Oh, I suppose you're all torn up over Bolton forsaking the field for the stage. You needn't worry, old fruit, he's quite terrible.'
Danforth looked up in surprise even as Bolton voiced a protest from further down the table. Evans was smiling quite cheerfully at his potatoes, scooping a heap onto his fork and shovelling it into his mouth before continuing.
'We're going to have to do a lot of work,' he said, 'or I have, at any rate. I've got to turn a sportsman into an ardent and passionate lover, St. Cat help me.'
'Oh, but don't you know?' Baylor cut in across the table. 'Our captain's already in love!'
'His heart beats only for the name of Gabriella,' added Danforth grimly.
'Goodness, doesn't it!' Evans waved a hand, dropping his voice to a whisper. 'If I never hear her name again I'll be happy. And it's only been a week!'
Danforth laughed, feeling far more cheerful than he had in all of that dreadful time. 'So being in love doesn't instantly make him absolutely topping this acting in love business?'
'Absolutely not!' declared Evans with a chuckle. 'He's all very well when it comes to moping after his absent sweetheart but goodness knows he wouldn't know what to do with a girl if he had one there. I must have told him a dozen times or more: there's a touch more to it than simply holding hands!'
Danforth couldn't help but be intrigued by Evans's description of Bolton's acting skills. And what team member wouldn't take the opportunity for a little spying – with which to tease his captain about later? To this end, he found himself creeping into the theatre one Saturday afternoon and concealing himself behind some of the seats at the back. There were a couple of chaps on the stage declaiming something most awfully dull (which was greeted with raptures from Madam Darbus on the front row), followed by some business with swords that Danforth found himself actually wishing he could try. Finally there were shuntings back and forth of bits of scenery (painted, unpainted, and with 'wet paint' notices hurriedly affixed) and at last an most peculiar sort of balcony construction was pushed up against the side of the stage. A figure with long blonde hair wobbled out onto it and Danforth had to stuff his fist into his mouth to keep from giggling.
'Madam Darbus,' Evans called down, adjusting his wig, 'I don't think this thing's very stable, you know.'
'It will have to do, Mr. Evans,' boomed the drama mistress, 'and unless you take a swan-dive from the top I am sure you will remain unharmed.'
Danforth watched as Evans prodded the side of the construction with a extremely doubtful look on his pale face, before standing against the edge, one hand gripping the rail with very white knuckles.
'In your own time, Mr. Evans,' Madam Darbus instructed.
Evans began his speech - and, for once, Danforth actually listened. Somehow, despite the absurd combination of trousers, shirt and long, curly wig, Evans made a quite believable Juliet. Of course, once Romeo turned up Danforth had to duck back below the seats so as not to reveal his position by laughing. Bolton sounded exactly the same declaring his love to Juliet as he did when dreaming over Gabriella. He had a distressing tendency to gaze off into the middle distance though Juliet was directly in front of him. Danforth spent the rest of the rehearsal alternately utterly enthralled and in paroxysms of amusement.
Intending to sneak out while the theatre club were busy packing up the set, Danforth was surprised to look up from his position on the floor and find a figure looming over him.
'Fancy seeing you here,' Evans muttered, a smile pulling at his mouth. 'Meet me outside? I just need a few seconds to dump the wig.'
Danforth nodded dumbly and crept out while Evans sashayed (it was the only word for it, it really was) back down the aisle, tossing his wig over his shoulder. He waited for the other boy outside, leaning against the redbrick wall. Bolton came out and went on without noticing Danforth - but Evans, a few moments later, favoured him with a bright flash of smile. He caught Danforth's eye and nodded in the direction of the grounds. They settled on the grass in a tucked-away part of the garden, Evans laying himself in the shade of a bush while Danforth sprawled out in the sun.
'So,' Evans began, 'get a sudden urge for the dramatic arts, did you?'
'Oh, hardly,' Danforth scoffed. 'More of a sudden urge to see our captain making a fool of himself.'
'You didn't think much of his thespian endeavours?'
'Golly, no! I don't know how you can stand looking into Bolton's cow-eyes every day. It's positively sickening the way he moons about. How d'you just simper back at him like he's the most wonderful thing in all the world?'
Evans laughed, quite freely and easily. 'My dear Danforth, it's called acting. What do you do when he starts banging on about his darling Gabriella?'
'Pretend to look interested,' Danforth shrugged, 'and think about something else: rugby, cricket, whether this week's hotpot will contain identifiable meat…'
'Well, if he hasn't noticed yet you may be a much better actor than anyone's given you credit for.'
Danforth looked up at that. 'Honour bright?'
Evans nodded. 'Ra-ther. Bolton's a lot of things but he's not entirely the sharpest pencil in the set, you know?' He gave Danforth a sideways look, blue eyes crinkling a little against the sunlight. 'Keep a secret?'
'Like a squirrel keeps his nuts!'
'I used to have quite the pash on him a little while ago. Thought he was everything that was wonderful. I got over it, though, in the end. Probably when he asked me whether it was Gilbert or Sullivan who wrote The Magic Flute.'
Danforth was stuck for a reply to that. He didn't think chaps had pashes: that was what girls did, wasn't it? The silence stretched out awkwardly as he wondered what the right response could possibly be. Evans, seeing the other boy's sudden discomfort, gave a heavy and theatrical sigh.
'It was simply Not To Be,' he declared suddenly, laying a hand palm-up against his brow, 'two lovers, divided by destiny and cruel, cruel fate. He, the strong warrior of the field, and I, such a delicate flower of the stage that the merest touch of his manly hand would wilt me in a moment.' He flopped back onto the grass. 'Ah, such epic tragedy! Doomed forever to be apart, yet drawn like a moth unto his flame. Ah, me! Won't you shed a tear for this poor shattered heart?'
They were tears of laughter, but were shed nonetheless. When they dried and he could breathe again Danforth found himself compelled to comment on the rest of the theatrical endeavours.
'The rest wasn't half bad though. Didn't think much of all the gabble at the beginning but the sword-fighting was all right. And you make a jolly good sort of Juliet for a chap in a wig.'
Evans flushed and gave a slow smile. 'You're going to give me a swelled head, old thing.'
'That balcony thing doesn't look too safe though,' Danforth continued hurriedly. 'I don't think much of the carpentry skills of whoever put that little heap together.'
'Oh, it's shocking, isn't it! I feel quite seasick up there sometimes.' Evans rolled over onto his front and tugged at the grass with pale fingers. 'Goodness knows the theatre club doesn't have much by way of handymen.'
'I could have a look at it if you like,' Danforth offered. 'I'm not at all bad at that sort of thing, you know. After all, we can't have you taking a tumble for the audience in the middle of "Where are you, Romeo," can we?'
'Gosh, would you?' Evans's face lit up even further, if it were possible. 'That'd be absolutely tophole!'
And that was how Danforth found himself working backstage on the theatre club's production of Romeo and Juliet. It had started with the balcony – which he made much more secure, to Evans's joy and peace of mind – before other little jobs were passed his way with hopeful little comments of 'if you don't mind' and 'we'd be awfully bucked if you could just…' Soon even Madam Darbus was wondering aloud just how they managed without him before. He and Bolton made up too, though the continued improvement of the rugger team probably had more to do with that than anything else. The other sportsmen had, after the initial bemusement at both of their star players 'coming over all thespianical' (as Cross had put it), swung in behind their captain and his second with their usual enthusiasm. The theatre club had never known so many keen helpers!
Socially, too, things had changed. Chaps who a month or so previously would not even have thought of mingling outside lessons were hullo-ing each other in the corridors. All in all, St. Catherine's had become quite the jolliest school there was!
Of the most surprise to Danforth was the amount of time he ended up spending with Evans. The two boys, despite their outward differences, ended up getting on splendidly. They could often be seen strolling arm-in-arm through the grounds or closeted in Evans's dressing-room running through lines (after Evans's desperate appeal one afternoon: 'you simply must help me, old thing, all my time's quite taken up with coaching Bolton and I just haven't had the time to devote to learning the dratted things and goodness, you've got to help!'). They became quite particular chums – so particular that even Bolton noticed despite the fact he was in a fug of mooning after Gabriella and acting in similar fashion over Evans's Juliet.
'By Jove, old thing,' he had said one evening after rugger as they headed back for a well-earned shower, 'you've been spending an awful lot of time with that Evans fellow lately.'
Danforth felt oddly defensive. 'Well, I'm not the one frolicking about on stage with him every day.'
'Goodness!' Bolton held up his hands. 'Don't gnash your teeth too hard, old chum! It's not like he's a filly or anything.' He chuckled. 'Gosh, if he had been I'd think you were quite sweet on him!'
Danforth had ignored that. Evans certainly wasn't female, after all, so there was nothing doing on that point. Besides, Bolton was a fine one to talk about too much spent over someone! One could spend time much more meaningfully in conversation with another chap than sitting about dreaming over a girl who wasn't even there. Really, sometimes Bolton was the outside of enough!
Evans was something of an odd fish though. He sang for one thing: queer ditties about the moon in June and the kind of musical theatre numbers Danforth's mother was mad on. He danced too – demonstrating this to Danforth with an astonishing impromptu tap display that left them both breathless. He had even offered to teach Danforth ballroom dancing, an offer that the other boy turned down quite hurriedly.
'Suit yourself,' Evans said, shrugging. 'It's awfully jolly fun, you know. You know girls'll go simply potty for a chap who can sweep them off their feet. I'm sure you can't object to that.'
Danforth quickly sought to push the subject in another direction. 'Is that the only active thing you do? How do you not go utterly mad without some healthy exercise? Prancing about on stage just isn't enough, you know! You need to get some fresh air into your lungs. Don't you ever feel all frustrated and cooped up and like you'll simply burst if you don't get out?'
Evans shrugged again. 'I simply practise onanism.'
'Oh. Is that some weird theatrical thing? Like that yogi stuff?' Danforth gave a hopeful smile. 'Would you teach me?'
The answering smile he received was hopeful in its own way, though the slow speed at which it bent Evans's mouth betrayed rather more thought behind it. 'If you like.'
Danforth had to borrow Baylor's dictionary to look up 'onanism' in the end. The school library was all very well but previous expeditions through its shelves had proved an utter lack of any material that could possibly be considered the slightest bit improper. Inquiring minds were perfectly acceptable in a school but only if they were inquiring in the right direction.
Baylor had (to the gratitude of the entire dorm – each of whom would often borrow it for a furtive flip-through) a rather more complete dictionary. Its pages had become quite tattered around the more risqué words – 'bottom,' 'nipple' and 'intercourse,' to name but three. Danforth swiped it off Baylor's shelf and pulled the curtains shut round his cubicle to do his research. Book lying open in front of him, he sprawled on his front and flicked through the pages.
'Golly,' he muttered after a few moments, 'he doesn't think I don't already know how to do that, does he? I mean, surely every chap's got the hang of that by now!'
He rolled onto his back, pulling at his lip and thinking. Maybe Evans had meant to – well, dash it, chaps had been known to bash the bishop in each other's company before now. There'd even been that time they'd tried daisy-chaining in the dorm, though that'd been rather doomed from the start since their differing arm-lengths had caused certain complications.
Evans wasn't a bad-looking chap, after all. Maybe if he wore that wig…
'Golly,' said Danforth again, reflectively, glad that his curtains were closed.
Evans refused to wear the wig.
'If I get that mop into a state Darbus will have my skin for slippers,' he announced. 'You can shut your eyes if you like, dear, but I can guarantee you'll enjoy it just as much, wig or no wig.'
Danforth did shut his eyes but the feel of Evans's palm against his member made them fly open again. The hand was unexpectedly soft and moved in ways he was utterly unused to. In no short time he was gasping and wriggling on the hard chair. His hands gripped the edge of the dressing-table so hard he was sure he simply must be leaving fingermarks in the wood. The dratted thing wobbled as he held onto it, sending a stick of greasepaint rolling across the roughened surface before it dropped to the floor with a crack. Danforth's somewhat distracted gaze flicked up to the mirror. His own face stared back, wide-eyed and flushed as he panted through his open mouth. Evans's head was practically against his shoulder, eyes half-closed and shadowed by eyelashes, looking down in concentration. As Danforth watched part of Evans's fleshy lower lip was caught up by those pearly teeth and drawn upwards into the corner of his mouth. With a groan Danforth shot absolute jets over the other boy's fingers.
Neither of them said anything as he recovered his breath, hands still gripped to the poor dressing-table, and not even when he had unclasped them. He reached over to undo Evans's trousers. Reciprocation was only polite, after all.
In the end, Romeo and Juliet passed off splendidly. It wasn't often the lovers' double suicide provoked a wild round of applause but in this case their tragic demise almost received a standing ovation. The theatre was full to bursting, with boys sitting up the aisles in an effort to get in.
Danforth, helping backstage and making himself generally useful, had to check himself several times to stop from quoting all the lines along with the actors. After spending all that time going through the lines with Evans he was as word-perfect as any of them! The mood in the theatre was splendidly jubilant despite the less-than-cheery nature of the plot. Evans had even grasped Danforth with both hands and smacked two great kisses on his cheeks following the balcony scene.
'I am so glad you fixed up that wretched thing!' he exclaimed. 'I just know it would have gone horribly wrong otherwise!'
He flounced off to change, leaving an utterly flummoxed (not to mention a touch flustered) Danforth standing in the wings.
'Well, I'll be…' was all he could manage.
In an unexpected display of generosity, the Head stood up at the end of the performance to announce that after such a grand show lights out would be delayed by an extra hour for celebration. Cheers rang out all over again, especially after he added that the kitchen would be providing mugs of steaming hot cocoa for anyone who wished for it.
Danforth and Evans continued to associate after Christmas, though no one else had the foggiest idea quite what they were up to when they dallied in the dressing room or any of the music practice rooms. Danforth had never thought of a piano in an erotic way before but now the mere sight of such an instrument turned him fidgety – thinking of his furtive fumblings beside, under and, on one notable occasion, on top of one with Evans.
Baylor's dictionary had been sneaked off the shelf more times too, as Evans introduced Danforth to such words as 'frottage,' 'intercrural' and 'fellatio.' The last in particular had been quite the delightful surprise as Evans had given absolutely no warning before diving down.
Danforth also found himself suddenly paying much more attention in art classes. He could quite understand why those Renaissance artists and suchlike had enjoyed depicting barely-dressed young men with athletic figures. Thrusting away between Evans's smooth, tightly-pressed thighs one afternoon he considered how jolly lucky someone like Michelangelo would have been to have Evans pose for them. He told the other boy that, afterwards.
'Oh, Danforth, you are sweet!' Evans had chuckled, tucking his head against Danforth's shoulder and patting him affectionately.
'It's true though,' Danforth said, 'you wouldn't look a bit out of place among all those marbles and things, all your clothes off and a noble look in your eye. Golly, it'd be a treat for all of us if you volunteered to pose for the life drawing lessons – anything's better than Games-master Bolton again!'
Evans laughed again and promised Danforth private modelling sessions if he really wanted them. Danforth immediately vowed to find as much charcoal and paper as he could find so as never to run out.
All in all, it was quite the most fun he'd ever had at school.
Evans came charging into prep a few days later and flung himself behind his desk, cheeks flushed and a delighted grin spread across his face. Danforth, already partway through his history (and quite fed-up of the Normans) welcomed the distraction.
'Madam Darbus has decided that the next school play should be Othello,' Evans announced breathlessly to him, clearly cock-a-hoop about it. 'Isn't it simply marvellous? I mean, Desdemona's a bit of a wet dishcloth but I think we know who the best person to play our Moor is, don't you? I might ditch the whole skirt, actually, and go for Iago. Someone else can drift about in a white dress. I always think the whole messed-up hate-love thing between Iago and Othello is the best part of the play anyway – I know us two can utterly make it work.' He paused for breath, looking to his audience. 'Oh, buck up, Danforth! You look like a landed fish, old thing.'
Danforth gaped. 'But you can't mean me!'
'Of course I can,' Evans scoffed, hauling his English prep out and slapping it onto the desk. 'You'd make a simply splendid Othello, trust me. Absolutely It! And it'll save on blackface make-up, or burnt cork or whatever mess Bolton would end up coated in.'
'That's rot!' Danforth protested, leaning across the desk. He caught Evans's gaze. 'I don't act.'
'Pish! Pish and tosh!' Evans dismissed that little problem with a wave of his hand. 'You only say that because you've never tried. If I can coach Bolton I can coach you.'
Danforth's rejoinder was cut short when Cross, dashing in the door with books almost tumbling from his arms, hissed the usual warning.
'Look alive, you chaps! Cave! Darbus is on the way!'
It wasn't until the next morning that Danforth managed to corner Evans. He grabbed the other boy's arm after breakfast, looping it through his own and dragging him out into the grounds where they could talk unheard.
'Look,' Danforth began, 'you can't seriously think I would be in a play!'
'Why not?' Evans replied. 'You were simply splendid running those lines with me. And you enjoyed yourself doing it.'
'That's different! I'm not getting up on stage and prancing about in tights for anybody!'
There was a drawn-out sigh from the boy beside him. 'There won't necessarily be tights – and besides which, it's called hose and it was traditional Elizabethan dress. But then if you think you couldn't compete with Bolton as far as legs looking decent…'
'Oh, put a sock in it, Evans! I'm not going to be in your play!'
He dropped Evans's arm and sat himself on a bench, moodily plucking at splinters from its arm. The other boy sighed at sat down too.
'Gosh, don't throw a wobbler about it, old man. I just … I just hate to see talent gone to waste, that's all!'
That afternoon proved glorious. The sunshine and general good spirits (the kitchen staff had produced an absolute stunner of a Sunday lunch, quite outdoing themselves) led to Danforth organising an ad hoc cricket match with anyone who wanted to play. There were plenty of spectators too, laying themselves out on rugs in the warm spring sun. The sketching club had established themselves at one corner, eager to record the day's play with varying degrees of talent.
'Hi, Danforth! Two more to play!'
Danforth looked up from his pads. Bolton was jogging across the field, dragging with him – surprise of surprises – a not entirely unwilling-looking Evans. They were both in cricket whites and looked, to Danforth's amazement, ready to play.
'Well, that makes up the numbers,' he managed to say, 'not that it really matters for a friendly. How about you join my team to bat first, Bolton? Evans, let's see what you're like out on the field.'
The story was passed from boy to boy in a frenzy of tall tales. It was, as the entire school would later agree, an epic match fit only for sagas. Ryan Evans, never before known as possessing any sporting prowess, had come within a whisker of winning the entire game for his side. He had proved himself to be one of the finest bowlers in the Fifth, knocking Bolton out for only five runs with a spectacular wicket. And when he took to the field as a batsman it was only a lucky catch on Danforth's part that finally got him out. At the end of the match, Evans found himself on the receiving end of more back-slaps and congratulations than he had ever known before.
'You play a dashed fine game,' Danforth told him, catching the other on his way up to the dorm before lights out.
Evans shrugged. 'I may have played a little before I came to St. Cat's,' he said carelessly. 'My uncle used to play for the England eleven. He taught me how to play.'
Danforth pushed aside that fact to be gaped over another day. 'So, what was that you were saying about hating talent gone to waste? The cricket team could do with an arm like yours, old chap.'
A slow smile crossed Evans's face. 'Oh, I'll play your game … if you'll play mine.'
'But … I …' Danforth tried several protestations before finally rolling his eyes in acceptance. 'All right, old man, you win.'
The Rather Splendid End!