by Ian John Copeland

Chapter 3

Michaelmas Term 1967

In the hot sun of early September The Rocks seemed very far from anything to do with Christmas even though the end of term would be taken up with the usual celebrations including the Carol Service in St Ives and the annual school plays. Over the four years since Pip started at The Rocks, he had grown from the small timid creature he had been on arrival into a more confident, but sometimes private boy, the sort of boy who tended to hide his work in the classroom behind a façade of studied indifference. Pip had also developed the typical Rocks look, long-legged and suntanned by years of days in the Cornish sun, the envy of his few friends back at home. From the lower forms Pip had now reached the school's pinnacle, the Sixth Form, accompanied by Clancy, Owen, Peter Morgan and the Johnson twins. Owing to the vagaries of the academic year Jonathan was now a year behind, the oldest boy in the Fifth Form. However, because the dormitories did not necessarily match the form structure, Pip and Jonathan were still in the same dormitory as had been the case all through the school.

Having unpacked his trunk and with no one else around, Pip came out of his dormitory, 5W, and went upstairs to the favoured Sixth Form dormitory 6W, which had much the best view of the open sea. Already 6W was alive with gossip centred on Peter who was sporting a broken wrist. The twins tried to find out more from Peter himself.

"What happened to your wrist?"

"Nothing much. I fell out of a tree." But there was a more pressing matter for the twins. "So what was that comment about a girl called Emma in your post card from France, Peter?"

In his eyes Peter had had a very successful summer holiday in France, something he was keen to share with his friends back at school.

"Oh, she's my girlfriend. My cousin."

"Girlfriend? Do tell us more. What did you get up to? Did she break your wrist?" Girls were beginning to be a subject of discussion amongst some of the older boys. Sometimes magazines were pulled out of from hiding places. The pictures from these magazines were studied intently. The more adventurous began to read the letters pages in the search for information. Pip followed these discussions with keen interest.

As the September sun started to wane on the first evening back, Peter began to give some more information of his family's holiday in France.

"No, that was some accident back in Hong Kong. I met up with Emma on holiday in Europe. We stayed with our cousins in the South of France this summer. Sam was off chatting to the local boys. She's good at French, but my cousins Emma and Natalie were there. They are fourteen and twelve."

"Oh, good looking?"

"Natalie is just a girl, but Emma, she's a natural model. She looked good in a bikini. She's quite mature on top, if you know what I mean." Peter gestured with two cupped hands. Yes, everyone knew what he meant.

The Johnson twins, now the school's star athletes, took an instant interest in the hook dangled by Peter. Kit, the younger, dominant twin, led the inevitable questioning.

"And apart from the looks, was Emma interested?"


"You know. Did she want to go out with you?"

"And stuff?"

Peter considered his response to the questions from both twins. "Well, at first she only wanted to stay with Natalie and Sam, but by the end of the holiday Natalie had found her own interests. So Emma was much more amenable to me then." Peter looked very pleased with himself.


"Go on then."

He refused to say more. "Not now."

"Any photographs of this cousin of yours?"

"Perhaps later, when I have unpacked. I have one or two which I might show you." Peter was keeping his cards close to his chest. Kit and his brother Robbie looked at each other, then as one turned back to Peter, who now wearing an undisguised look of glee on his face as he had told the world of his conquest.

"But can't we see the pictures now?"

"You'll just have to wait."

The twins would never keep it to themselves for long.

Pip and Owen staggered towards the camp they were building at the western end of the school's land, each carrying large bundles of recently trimmed branches to reinforce the defences. Clancy was in overall charge, Jonathan following his instructions as he constructed the walls.

"Oh good, bring the branches here. Pip, put that lot over there and Jonathan can build up the walls."

Clancy had invented a new method of interleaving the branches around some bare tree trunks, much stronger than the normal structures used by the other camps. Glad to put the branches down, Pip went back to the pile by the bonfire with Owen.

"It will be great when it's finished. Then we will be able to keep the ravaging hoards at bay."

"What ravaged hoards?"

"Oh, the juniors boys, the twins, Peter, all of them."

Owen was only dimly aware of what went on in Pip's imagination, the source of his drive in many areas.

Under Clancy's directions the Pirates soon had a very well secured camp, probably the best on the school. It was an elaborate affair enclosing a small space and designed to be defended from attacks from other gangs. Like all pretend games in that era the shadow of a war just twenty years distant still coloured how the games would go. It was as if the boys were subconsciously training for the next war. Unspoken, the enemy were the Musketeers, led by Peter Morgan and the Johnson twins.

The following afternoon at the end of games Jonathan was alone with Pip at their camp. Pip had been reluctant at first as they were out of bounds, but Jonathan was more relaxed.

"Come on, Pip. There is absolutely no one around apart from us and we are well out of sight from the school down here."

"But what if they do see us?"

"Look, Mr Wallace has gone on ahead. He has to go to the junior dorms and Mr Barnes is on changing room duty. He won't notice and the First Game are still playing Truro with Mr Durrant refereeing. They started fifteen minutes late at least. We've got twenty minutes and can claim we watched the last part of their game, can't we?"

"Oh, okay."

Their hard work earlier that week ensured that the camp was now a very private place that no one could see into or approach without entering through a narrow tunnel of branches. If they kept quiet, no one would know they were in this secret place. Jonathan was unusually quiet, something on his mind.

"Guess what I've got?" Pip thought for a few moments. He looked at Jonathan. There was excitement glistening in the younger boy's eyes, but no clues.

"No, what?"

"Have you seen those magazines the twins brought back this term?"

Pip knew that one or two much read and tatty 'girlie' magazines such as Mayfair or Penthouse had begun circulating around the older boys from some mysterious hidden cache.

"Oh, those." Pip had seen them from a distance, but not been able to satisfy his curiosity.

"They are full of girls and stuff."

"I know that."

Jonathan reached under his jumper. He had stopped by the 'library' as Kit referred to it, on his way to games that afternoon. "Check outside to make sure no one is about." Pip did as he was bid, looking through both the spy-holes and then briefly climbed up into the observation post. The First Team was still on the lower pitch, watched by a small knot of senior boys. No sign of the end of the game yet. Jonathan removed the forbidden magazine from its hiding place and together the two boys studied it with interest. The pages with girls conveniently had their corners turned down to make it easier to navigate. Pip sensed that Jonathan was changing. Jonathan, turned twelve just a week ago, was no longer the little boy. He was very much the natural athlete. Jonathan on his feet was constantly poised and balanced; his body was broadening out, muscles sprouting. He liked to show off sometimes, climbing the ropes in the gym just using his hands, doing more pull ups than anyone else. On the vaulting horse or bar, no one could match Jonathan's balance or perfect dancer-like precision. Jonathan could stand on the narrowest of the bars, arms outstretched, his hands perfectly parallel, fingers together, thumbs outstretched and still. When he lifted first one leg and then the other, Jonathan was like a well-oiled machine, a natural thoroughbred, as Mr Wallace would put it.

The boys studied the magazine in detail. There was a silence. Nothing much was said as the pages turned. Jonathan was intently concentrating on a picture showing a girl with large erect nipples staring into the camera, both hands strategically placed between her legs. Pip kept his ears and eyes sharp, constantly monitoring to see whether anyone was coming. There was no sign of any possible interruption, but Pip was keen to bring this viewing session, interesting though it was, to a close before something bad happened. Eventually and reluctantly Jonathan folded the magazine shut and put it back under his shirt.

"She was pretty interesting."

"Yes, but look, we'd better get back."

Jonathan felt a sense of failure. Pip didn't seem interested in a way Jonathan thought he would, not the interest expressed by the Johnson twins nor the interest Jonathan felt himself.

The two boys returned to the changing rooms, Jonathan darting off at the last moment to return his loan to its original agreed hiding place. Pip was glad to walk into the changing room, the viewing episode behind him.

"No score yet," he informed Mr Barnes who was concentrating on his crossword puzzle. Jonathan appeared two minutes later. His top was already removed as he walked into the changing room, steaming from the cold air outside.

"I think it is one all, sir."

"Well that was a quick couple of goals, wasn't it, Pip?" Mr Barnes looked questioningly at Pip, who in turn was annoyed that he had been caught out by Jonathan's information on the real score.

"Well hurry up and get changed. It's getting late."

Jonathan sat on the boot locker next to where Pip was fiddling with his shirt buttons and removed his shorts. In an act of modesty unusual for Jonathan, the boy wrapped his towel around himself before running off to the shower as if to hide something. Pip, already showered, remained behind, deep in thought. Why had Jonathan been so keen to show him the magazine?

Jonathan took advantage of being alone in the showers. Guiltily he inspected his reflection. What was happening to his body? Why did it feel good and bad at the same time? Clancy was Jonathan's next port of call.

"Clangers?" Clancy was deep in a book on Roman history, but, as always, he was prepared to oblige. He looked up to see Jonathan and readied to answer the inevitable question.

"Yes?" Jonathan checked that no one else was taking an interest and once he was sure, he hunkered closer to Clancy.

"Can you help me?"

"Help you? How?" Jonathan explained what had happened in the showers.

"Well," Clancy sighed. Clancy knew about the subject of sex. His father had already explained it to him.

"When you are older, you will find all about it soon enough."

"But I want to know now. Please."

There was no escaping the topic. Jonathan demanded an answer. Fortunately, the illustrations in the book Clancy was reading would help. Clancy flicked back to the middle of the book where all the illustrations were placed and found what he was looking for.

"See these illustrations on the vase here?"

Jonathan was not sure why they were looking at a picture of a vase, but he knew it was always best to play along with Clancy. The older boy was normally pretty good at these sorts of things. Clancy pointed. The vase was illustrated. A young man and woman, naked as it turned out. Nude photographs were bound to be a forbidden at The Rocks. But this was a 2000-year-old vase and it was drawings, not a photograph in an academic book and so probably acceptable, even to Mr Durrant.

"Can you see what they are illustrating? Various stages of intercourse, if you follow it left to right." Jonathan studied the illustrations intently. The illustrations were not very lifelike in his view, but you could follow what was going on easily enough. The woman was looking happy gesticulating to the man as she reclined. The man was leaning over her. In one illustration his private parts were very obvious. In the next he was lying on top of her and the woman was clearly enjoying what it was the man was doing to her. Jonathan studied the illustration intensely until Clancy decided that enough was enough and took the book back and returned it to the page he was reading.

"Well, that is what it is all ultimately about."

Jonathan thought about the information he had just gleaned. It was still not enough to satisfy his curiosity. "Oh, well, are there any more books like this?"

"I am sure there are many books on the subject, but this is the only one I have." Clancy had another more useful suggestion. "Well, why don't you ask the Johnson twins? I believe they have some magazines that might help, but I doubt they will be as graphic of course."

"Oh, I've seen one of them, but it's just naked girls."

"Women," Clancy corrected Jonathan. "Well, they are not as educational as they could be, I am afraid. More for base titillation than educational alas."

In the end it was Kit and his brother who provided more information in the form of a new magazine that they had found. Jonathan spotted Kit concealing something under his duffel coat on a return from Penzance at the weekend.

"What are you hiding?"

"What makes you think that?"

"It is pretty obvious, really. It might fall out from there. Tuck it into the back of your shorts, much more secure."

Robbie kept watch whilst his brother took up Jonathan's suggestion. As he did so, Jonathan glimpsed the cover, a copy of Mayfair . Kit turned around, anxious to be checked by his brother. "How does it look? Does it show?"

"No, you are okay now."

"Well, thanks, I mean perhaps we can return the favour?"

Robbie raised his eyebrows in askance to his brother. He had not been consulted. Jonathan took up the offer.

"Oh, thanks, well later then?"

Robbie waited until Jonathan was out of earshot.

"What did you do that for? Pierce is not the most discreet person we know is he?"

"Oh, I think he will be okay. Pierce knows when to keep a secret, doesn't he?"

"I suppose so."

"Besides, he borrowed the Playboy we had, remember?"

"But this is a bit more, you know. Can't trust just anyone with it, can we?"

Nothing was said immediately, but a couple of days later, seeing Jonathan alone, Robbie issued the invitation. "Want to come and see something after lunch? I think it will interest you."

Jonathan eyed Robbie warily, but he seemed genuine in his invitation. "Okay then. Where?"

"Our classroom, during the reading period."

An invitation to the Sixth Form classroom was rarely offered to boys lower down the school like Jonathan. Most senior boys preferred to use their common room rather than the classrooms after lunch, as it was warmer and more comfortable. The Sixth Form classroom had an advantage though. Since it was at the end of the corridor, there would be ample warning if anyone came along unexpectedly. Once they had checked that all the other classrooms on the first floor corridor were empty, Kit led the party to their classroom. Robbie followed with Jonathan. Once inside Robbie pushed the door until it was only half open. During the free periods the classroom doors were left wide open, but a bit of privacy was needed for the viewing session.

Kit went to the very back of the classroom and sat at the double desk closest to the wall, the view from the corridor obscured by the partly open door. Kit pulled out a magazine, which had been conveniently hidden behind the bookcase just for this occasion.

"It's not where it is normally kept by the way."

There was a more secure hiding place, but the twins alone knew where that was. Jonathan sat down alongside Kit as he opened the magazine on a page he knew all too well. Robbie watched intently from his position just behind the door.

"Robbie, concentrate on keeping guard, not on us!"

Robbie obeyed his younger brother and peeped through the gap between the door and the frame so that he could see and hear if anyone was coming up or down the main stairs.

"Jonathan, have a look at this."

Kit slowly turned the pages in the magazine as Jonathan looked on. It was the very battered copy of Mayfair as yet unseen by Jonathan.

"We found it in the back streets of Penzance. A pile of them, sticking out of a rubbish bin."

"It's not ours," the twins could claim. "We found it. Someone else must have had it."

It was an important distinction in their minds, a chance find that fed inquiring minds rather than an active acquisition from some grubby newsagent. That would be their defence if it ever came to it.

The magazine in question contained a series of photo shoots of nude women in suggestive poses. One Chinese looking girl even showed a hint of pubic hair between her legs as she peered demurely into the camera, her breasts outlined in silhouette, only the dark brown circle of the girl's erect nipples visible. To boys on the cusp of puberty the sight of naked breasts and more was wildly exciting. Their breathing quickened. Kit was aware of Jonathan fidgeting on the seat next to him, eyes out on stalks. Now was the time for Kit to add more to the excitement.

"Coast still clear, Robbie?" Robbie again turned his attentions from his brother and Jonathan and peeped through the crack.

"All clear."

"Know about this?"

Emboldened by the sight of the Chinese girl, Kit decided a bit of education was required. It did not take long.

"Well? Now you know. That's what happens."

Jonathan knew that he had witnessed something exciting and definitely illicit. As Robbie had wandered away from the door, to see his brother demonstrate, he was almost too late to hear steps approaching. Mr Wallace was bounding up the stairs, two steps at a time, looking for his expensive Parker pen. He last remembered using it in the period before lunch and made straight for the Sixth Form classroom only to walk in and find three boys gathered around a magazine. Fortunately as Mr Wallace appeared at the door, Kit had tucked his shirt back in. The only evidence of illicit activity was the still open copy of Mayfair .

"Well, what have we here? Three rather unlikely book worms I think." Mr Wallace spotted the magazine straight away. The look of guilt on the face of the three boys was enough to give a very good clue as to what sort of illicit activity had been happening. Fortunately Mr Wallace was inclined to turn a blind eye on this occasion. He had not actually caught any of the boys engaged in illicit activity other than the evidence of the magazine itself. He was only 28 himself and could well recall similar incidents when he was a boy their age.

"I don't know which of you boys brought that magazine to school, but I'm afraid you will have to say goodbye to it now."

"Yes, sir."

The twins still had the habit of chirruping their answers in unison even though they were nearly thirteen. Robbie handed over the magazine reluctantly. It had taken some ingenuity to acquire it. Now they were to lose it.

"And don't let me find you up here in similar circumstances again, do you hear?"

"Yes, sir." This time all three boys responded.

It could have been a lot worse, but Mr Wallace made light of it. A heavy response was not appropriate in his view and to involve Captain Porter would just bring more awkwardness to what, in Mr Wallace's view, was only natural to boys this age.

"Pierce, back to your classroom and you two, I think had better go to your common room."

The twins looked at each other open mouthed as Mr Wallace made an exit hiding his own smile of amusement. Boys will be boys and so they should be in his view. He hoped his warning would make all three of them more discreet in future.

Although Jonathan had been quick to cover up in the changing room the other day, he had not been fast enough to prevent Pip catch a glimpse of his excited state. Pip knew he wanted to see more. Jonathan was the one boy who, if he knew, would tell. Pip concocted several plans to make Jonathan tell him more. In the end he discarded them all and went for the simplest. He would just ask Jonathan to show him what had happened in the form of a double dare in the unused male staff toilets in the kitchen at teatime one afternoon.

Pip waited a couple of days until the opportunity arose at teatime. Just before grace was about to be said by Captain Porter, Pip turned to Jonathan standing beside him and whispered a tempting offer to Jonathan.

"I want to double dare you."

"A double dare? Why?"

"It's a double dare, silly!"

"Well, why would I want to do that?"

"A Mars bar."

"A Mars bar?"

Jonathan rarely had enough money for such a luxury item. Dares were one of the more exciting games at school. They sometimes broke out in a rash until one or more boys got into trouble for some outrageous dare. Double dares were rarely accepted. They were in another league of danger and almost certainly likely to lead to trouble or worse. Jonathan weighed up Pip's offer. A Mars bar would be a rare treat as he had very little money this term. He upped the price.

"A double dare? That's two Mars bars."

"Okay, tomorrow then, at teatime?"

"What have I got to do?"

"You'll see. Just come with me tomorrow at teatime."

"I am not doing anything silly in front of everyone."

"No, it won't be anything like that. I promise?"

Jonathan had no idea what Pip was proposing, but if it was in private it could not be that bad, surely?

"Okay, then, tomorrow so long as things are clear and nothing crazy understand?"


The next day was clear. It was a regular teatime. Being Thursday, Mrs Prince was absent as usual from the Fifth Form table. So in her place sat Peter, discussing football with some of the other Fifth Formers. Pip put his plan into action. He picked up a near empty water jug and handed it to Jonathan. "Okay, take this jug over to the serving hatch and wait for me to come to the other side."

Jonathan stood up. Peter glanced in his direction and then nodded approval when he saw the jug in his hand. Jonathan went where he was directed and waited until he saw Pip approach from the other hatchway, a jug in hand, which he then placed on the counter. Pip pointed at the side door. To get more squash you had to go into the kitchen. It was perfectly normal for older boys to be trusted to do that. No one would notice. Jonathan went through the door and Pip led him out of the kitchen by the side entrance that led to the side corridor to the rarely used male staff toilet. The all female kitchen staff used their own toilet in the other corridor. Pip opened the door and Jonathan entered directly behind him. Once they were both inside Pip quietly shut the door from the inside, locked the door and sat on the closed seat.

"There, no one can disturb us now."

Jonathan stood by the sink. There was not much room. The air was full of anticipation on both sides. "Well what do you want, this double dare?" Jonathan was cautious. A double dare could end up putting a boy into a lot of trouble sometimes.

"You remember when you showed me that magazine in the camp?"

"Well, I don't have it if that is what you are after."

"No, that's not what I want. I just want to know..." Jonathan shifted uncomfortably. He guessed Pip was curious, perhaps he had seen something?

"Show me, please."

"Show you what?"

Now locked in the toilet with Jonathan, Pip was very direct in his request. Jonathan knew that he would have to do something like this for the price of two Mars bars.

"Show me, go on."

"Don't you see enough in the showers then?" Pip had of course seen Jonathan naked many times, in the showers and in the changing rooms. School etiquette was not to stare and to try and keep one's eyes either at eye level or on your own person to avoid being shoved away or worse called names.

"Go on. You agreed a double dare for two Mars bars."

Jonathan sighed. He would have shown Pip for nothing if he had asked nicely. He felt cheap and nasty, but for two Mars Bars, Jonathan overcame his own reticence.

"Oh, all right then."

Despite himself, Jonathan felt bashful as he lowered his shorts. He hid his face in his chest as he pulled up his sweater and shirt and then undid his snake-belt and zip. Emboldened, he lowered his underwear to his ankles without being asked. Now Jonathan felt a rising sense of excitement undressing knowing that Pip was taking in every square inch of his body, something he sometimes felt walking around the changing room without his towel. Jonathan looked Pip in the eyes, his own eyes narrowed. The challenge was now made.

"Go on, look then."

Pip had a fixed vacant look on his face, trying to hide his curiosity at Jonathan's fully aroused state in front of him. Jonathan was not fooled.

"This is what you really want to see, isn't it?" It didn't take Jonathan long to show Pip. Once over, Jonathan pulled up his shorts as soon as he could. For some reason he now felt sullied and humiliated by the whole experience, deeply ashamed.


Pip sensed his friend's unease and was now equally embarrassed, guilt-ridden by the whole sorry affair even though he felt light-headed at what he had just witnessed.

"Thanks, I mean, great. I'll get you the Mars bars on Saturday. You can come with me to St Ives on Saturday afternoon to get them."

"You mean you don't have the Mars bars now?"

"No, sorry."

Pip realised he was welshing on their deal. Embarrassed, he looked at his watch in mock urgency. "Look, we ought to get back now."

"I won't forget, you know."

"I know. I promise to get them on Saturday if you come with me. Deal?"


Jonathan was looking forward to gorging himself on two whole Mars bars on Saturday. In the end he decided it was not such a bad deal. Would he do it again? Two Mars bars? Probably.

The boys made their separate ways back into the dining hall picking up jugs of fresh squash as they did so. Jonathan sat down with a flourish, causing Peter to look up. What took ten minutes, he wondered. Peter's question was half answered when he saw Pip with another jug of squash return to the Sixth Form table adjacent. Peter was not the only one to see the two boys return. So did the ever-observant Mr Durrant who was sitting on the Sixth Form table that evening. He looked at Pip.

"So it takes two of you to fetch two jugs of squash, does it?"

"Sorry, sir. We didn't realise we had both gone."

"Hmm, well, sit down and hurry up with your tea."

Mr Durrant said nothing more, but kept his eye on Pip. Under his curious gaze he could see the boy squirm with guilt and study his plate as if waiting for something to magically appear in front of him. Mr Durrant had no proof of what the two boys had been doing, but he guessed it was not something that he would approve of.

That evening as Mr Durrant and Captain Porter shared the evening inspection of the school grounds to check that windows and doors were locked, Mr Durrant conferred with Captain Porter.

"Headmaster, I think we should be keeping an eye on Pierce and Cox. Something going on there. They disappeared together at teatime this afternoon."

"Hmm. Pierce, well we know he is a wild one, but Cox? He is a scholarship boy. We don't want him distracted. Any idea what?"

"No, Headmaster, but they were gone for ten minutes on some completely spurious mission to fill the water jugs and when they came back they had the look of the guilty written all over their faces."

Captain Porter would have ignored it unless he had witnessed it himself, but conscious that Mr Durrant took a more hard-line view on misbehaviour of this sort he knew he had better act.

"I will mention it at the next staff meeting."

"Don't you think we ought to do something now, Headmaster?"

"All we have is the two of them sneaking off together. It is not unusual, especially at their age. They've always been best friends, but you are right to keep an eye on them, especially if they make a habit of it."

Captain Porter mentioned the incident with Pip and Jonathan at the end of the weekly staff meeting on Monday afternoon.

"Just a general point, gentlemen. It has been brought to my attention that perhaps we need to keep an eye on Pierce and Cox. They were seen disappearing together in suspicious circumstances during tea last week. At the moment that has just been the only occurrence that I am aware of, unless any of you know different?"

Captain Porter looked around the staff room. Mrs Prince was studiously reading her newspaper, cigarette in hand, ignoring all these trivial matters about the running of the school. Mr Wallace decided to keep quiet about what he had witnessed earlier that term. In his eyes no harm had been done on that occasion and he had not heard anything to make him unduly worried this time around either. No one else raised his voice in concern.

"Well, that's something. But we do have to keep a look out in case some mischief is developing."

The staff meeting broke up with most of the teaching staff putting this issue out of their minds or dismissing it as ridiculous paranoia by Captain Porter, but Mr Barnes listened to the message with alarm. He had been in schools long enough to know an innocuous inquiry of this type could have dire consequences for the boys concerned. Mr Barnes had another concern. If Pip was investigated further, awkward questions could be asked, some of which, if asked of Pip in particular, would be very uncomfortable for him, even though the event Mr Barnes was thinking of was four years ago and quite innocent. He knew if Pip told of the single kiss he had planted on his head were to come out, it would end his career in teaching forever.

The next day Mr Barnes waited until the end of his double English class with the Sixth Form.

"Pip, can you stay behind? I want to clarify with you the difference between 'there' and 'their'. You are being a bit fast and loose with the two words."

Pip was indignant. He knew the difference. Surely it was just one mistake in his last essay? Pip fidgeted at his desk until the last of the other boys left.

"Can you shut the door, Pip?"

Pip obliged, concern now entering his mind.

"Pip, sit down, dear boy."

Mr Barnes smiled. It was an awkward thing he had to say. He sat on Pip's desk.

"Do be careful about things, especially with Jonathan. It's been noted that you spend a lot of time with him, just the two of you. That unfortunately has set tongues wagging in the staff room. In particular, Mr Durrant noticed you disappeared with Jonathan during tea last week. Mr Durrant doesn't like boys sneaking off together at your age and now that he has brought it to the attention of Captain Porter. Captain Porter cannot ignore it either."

"But we weren't doing anything, sir."

Pip's blushes told a different story all together.

"Now be a sensible boy, Pip. No one said you did, but you have to admit it, it does sound fishy, don't you?"

"But, sir, Jonathan is my best friend."

"I know, but just make sure that when you are with him, you are also with other boys. No sneaking off just the two of you, do you understand? Don't let suspicious minds put two and two together and come out with five, or more. None of us want that, do we?"

"No, sir." Pip knew that Mr Barnes was not going to say any more at this stage. "And… and thank you, sir."

"All right. You had better run along. You have missed enough break as it is."

That evening Pip sought Jonathan out and sat opposite him over a supposed game of chess in the corner of their dormitory. At the other end the other boys were deep in a discussion on the relative merits of the school plays due at the end of term. Pip moved one of his pawns across the board and leaned towards Jonathan.

"Mr Barnes says that Mr Durrant saw us come back out of the kitchen together last Friday."

"Well, we know that. You could see that from the look on is face. He wasn't half mad at us."

"Well, Mr Durrant must have said something to Captain Porter. Apparently it came up at the staff meeting yesterday."

Jonathan contemplated this disturbing piece of news. "Oh."

"We'd better be careful."

"Well, yes, but we weren't doing anything, well not much anyway."

"I know, but we really must be careful. You don't fancy a visit to Captain Porter's study, do you?"

Jonathan, who had paid more than one visit to the Headmaster's study, agreed. "No, I do not want another visit his study, thank you very much."

"Well, let's lie low for now. It will blow over, but we had best not meet like that again."

"But how about Saturday? We are supposed to be going out to St Ives remember?"

"Oh we can still do that. Just take Clancy and Owen along. They'll cover for us."

"I suppose."

"No, that will be all right. You'll see."

The visit to St Ives went as planned. Clancy took Owen off to look in the rock pools as Pip and Jonathan visited the centre of the seaside town. As they walked back along the Coffin Path for once, Jonathan tucked greedily into the promised Mars bars, one after the other. Seeing Pip watch him, Jonathan guiltily handed a chunk of the second Mars bar to Pip. Jonathan knew Pip had had to forego any treat for himself that Saturday to fund his promised bribe to Jonathan.

"Oh, thanks."

"That's okay, I did promise you two Mars bars."

The boys said no more. The topic did not come again by mutual consent as they walked back.

On their return to The Rocks, Pip and Jonathan met up with Owen and Clancy and they returned as a group. In the entrance hall Captain Porter was handling the list of boys in and out of school that afternoon.

"Good afternoon. Out then, boys?"

"Oh yes, sir, thank you."

Owen answered for the four of them, the others nodding. As he ticked their names off, Captain Porter spoke.

"Cox, can you stay here for a minute. I want to check with you the dates of your next exeat this term." Once the other three boys walked on ahead, Captain Porter raised the matter on his mind with Pip. "Cox, I do hope that you are not developing an over-familiar relationship with Pierce?"


"Look, in a friendly way, I am advising you very strongly not to be seen in anything remotely resembling a compromising situation with Pierce. Understood? No secret meetings or going off alone together or anything like that. If you do, I may have to take further action, which would be unfortunate for both of you. Understood?"

"Oh yes, sir, I won't. I will make sure."

"Well, that's all, I think. Your exeat is in two week's time, isn't it?"

"Yes, sir, the 15th."

Pip went on his way, alarmed by his conversation with Captain Porter, but then Captain Porter himself had described it as 'nothing'. So perhaps it was not that bad?

That evening as they waited for the bell for supper outside in the still warm sun, Pip mentioned the conversation to Jonathan.

"Captain Porter spoke to me, warned me not to be over-familiar with you."


"That just means he thinks we spend to much time in each other's company with no one else around, I think."

"Oh, that's torn it. Did he say anything more?"

"No, just that, but look, you know we are going to have to be more careful in the future. No camp for instance."

Jonathan was downcast. Pip was his best friend. Jonathan turned to Pip. "How long? To lie low, I mean?"

"I guess until next term." Next term seemed an awful long way away.

"Next term? We are only half way through this term now."

"Well, what would you rather? I mean I don't fancy being watched all the time. We'll still see each other in the dorm, games and that. It's just that we must not be seen to be alone together. If we really want to meet up meantime, we can fix it like today."

Clancy and Owen will cover for us, so long as we don't involve them in anything."

Nothing more was said, but Pip and Jonathan stuck to the new rules of engagement to avoid any suspicions developing.

Later that week with no Pip to entertain him, Jonathan found himself at a loose end until the twins approached him.

"Fancy coming to St Ives then?" As always Kit led the way. The three boys took the Coast Path the two miles to St Ives and made straight for one of the cafés that lined the front overlooking the harbour. Sure enough, attracted by the slot machines, there was a gaggle of girls of about their age idling away the afternoon away.

"Here, let me show you," was the standard line taken as the boys showed off their alleged prowess on the pinball machines. It didn't take long. Leaning into the girls as they pulled the levers, hands over theirs, a touch here, and a touch there. The twins knew that just possibly these innocent activities might lead to something more, an invitation to a walk, a discreet spot, perhaps something more? Well, that was what they wished for and Jonathan was all too eager to try for himself as well. When Jonathan received his second invitation the following week, he was eager to go. Pip, seeing Jonathan drift away, spent more time with Clancy and Owen, their conversations limited to more chaste matters.

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