All Quiet At Macdonald Hall
"Bruno, it's time for lunch." Boots looked over at Bruno. He was still sitting in his desk in the math classroom, chin resting in his hands. "Bruno." Boots shook him.
"What is it?"
"Oh, all right." Bruno slowly gathered his books and followed Boots over to the dining hall.
They sat down next to Chris Talbot and Wilbur Hackenschleimer. Bruno picked at his food.
"So, Bruno," Boots said. "Our first soccer game of the season is on Saturday. Are you coming to cheer us on?"
Bruno looked up from his plate. "Hmm?"
"Soccer game," Boots said. "Against York Academy."
"Oh. Did you win?" Bruno pushed his plate away with half a sandwich still on it. Wilbur reached out and grabbed it.
Boots sighed. Chris leaned over. "What's wrong with Bruno?" he whispered.
"I don't know," Boots said. "He was all right when school started, but after a week, he started to act strangely. And now look at him! He doesn't even care that we're playing the York turkeys this weekend."
"Is there something wrong?" Chris asked.
"Nothing! Everything is just great this year. I don't understand it."
"Should he see a doctor?" Before Boots could answer, they were joined by Elmer Drimsdale. "You're late," Chris said to him.
"I know," Elmer said. "I hope I can get finished in time."
"Don't rush yourself," Wilbur advised. "It's not good to eat too fast."
"What happened?" Boots asked.
"Mr Huburt incorrectly marked several of my answers wrong on our recent chemistry test," Elmer said, buttering a roll.
There was a crash as Bruno sprang to his feet, knocking over his chair. "We won't stand for such unfair treatment!" He pounded the table, toppling Boots's water glass. "Elmer, we're all behind you! We'll sign a petition! We'll organize a sit-in! We'll complain to the Fish!"
"Thank you, Bruno," Elmer said. "But when I showed Mr Hubert that his calculations were wrong, he gave me full marks."
"Oh." Bruno's shoulders slumped. He picked up his chair and sat back down. Boots went for napkins to wipe up the water.
A few days later, there was a school assembly. Boots practically had to drag Bruno. Bruno was like a zombie these days, hardly there at all. Boots was really starting to worry about him.
Mr Sturgeon addressed the school. "Today, I'm announcing a few changes--"
"We won't stand for it!" Before Boots could do anything, Bruno was standing on his chair, yelling at the top of his lungs. "We will not be moved!"
"Bruno, sit down," Boots hissed and grabbed at Bruno's arm. Bruno pulled away.
"We will never abandon Macdonald Hall!"
"Walton," Mr Sturgeon said icily, "please sit down. If you object to the creation of new academic scholarships, you may speak with me afterwards. In my office."
"Scholarships, sir?" The colour drained from Bruno's face and he sat down.
"Now, if you'll allow me to continue..."
When they were dismissed, Boots was half-way out of the auditorium before he realised Bruno hadn't moved. Boots went back and waved his hand in front of Bruno's face.
"Oh, is it over?" Bruno said and followed Boots out, a vacant look on his face.
"Can you believe it?" Larry Wilson said at dinner that night. "The dance with Scrimmage's this weekend is cancelled."
There were cries of dismay from the boys. "How do you know?" Chris asked.
"I overheard Mr Sturgeon telling Mrs Davis. There's going to be an announcement tomorrow morning."
"And I just learned to dance, too," said Sidney Rampulsky mournfully.
"Maybe it's just as well, then," Wilbur said and they all laughed.
"How can you laugh when our world is crumbling around us?" Everyone turned to Bruno. His fist was clenched and there was a gleam in his eye. "We won't take this lying down! The first thing we have to do is organize." His gaze swept the table. "Chris -- I want you to make some posters."
"But Bruno," Larry said. "The reason the dance is cancelled is because there's measles over at Scrimmage's--" He was choked off as Boots clapped a hand over his mouth.
"Don't tell him," Boots said. He looked nervously at Bruno, but Bruno was still lecturing Chris about posters and didn't seem to have heard Larry. "He's back to normal again. We can't stop him now."
"Are you sure?" Larry asked.
"I guess you're right," Larry said. "I won't tell him."
"Boots!" Bruno said.
"Yes, Bruno?" Boots said. He was so relieved that Bruno was fine that he was ready to agree to anything.
"We should co-ordinate with Scrimmage's. You and I will go over there tonight."
"You've had the measles, right?" Larry whispered.
Boots swallowed hard.