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The whole wood seemed running now, running hard, hunting, chasing, closing in round something or - somebody? In panic, he began to run too, aimlessly, he knew not whither.
- The Wind in the Willows
She could not believe how easy it had been to get past the main office and from there, exit the doors that led into St. Barnabas’ inner courtyard. As the woman hurried through the path leading to the rugby fields, she smiled. She could see two groups of young boys running around the field in the distance and her eyes immediately spotted the dark-haired boy in the middle of a huddle among the group closest to the edge of the field.
It wasn’t unusual to have parents come and watch their children in the middle of the day, cheering them on, especially for the children in the early grades. Many of them suffered from serious bouts of homesickness. The woman behind the desk at the visitor’s office had simply directed her towards the east field where the games were being held.
As the visitor hurried through the path, heading to the north field to join the other parents on the sidelines, she pursed her lips and whistled. It was a loud whistle, and as the boys from both groups playing their separate games looked up, the woman wanted only one boy’s attention.
Liam George, who had been in a huddle with his teammates, a mop of hair obscuring his vision, looked up and he flipped his head impatiently to get the bangs away from his eyes. The boy scanned the faces sitting among the bleachers, searching for the source of the familiar sound.
Normally Liam would see his mother among them, but he knew she couldn’t whistle. Only one person could whistle like that, he thought. His face broke into a grin when he saw her and he waved.
The coach signaled a break and the children left the field. Liam ran towards her and brought his arms around the woman’s waist. He had grown another inch since she had last seen him.
“Where’s mummy?” He asked as the woman ruffled his hair playfully. She wore a smile but it seemed frozen on her face. She was trying to hide the nervousness inside her, her eyes scanning the fields behind them. She had to act fast, she thought, yet be as calm as possible so as not to alarm the boy, or the school officials for that matter.
“She’s at the office,” Nadia Ravin said. “She sent me to pick you up.”
Liam frowned. “Headmaster Jones didn’t say anything about mummy picking me up.”
Nadia shrugged and bent down, her face in line with Liam’s. “She’s in a meeting right now, otherwise, she would have been here,” she said in her thick Russian accent.
She’d been working very hard in learning her English and so far, it was working. Two nights a week, she attended the local college, having enrolled in a course that was designed to enhance one’s knowledge of the English language, and possibly, rid oneself of an accent. As far as her accent went though, that was a different story.
“Should I get my things?” Liam asked.
Nadia shook her head. As she spoke, she hoped Liam could not tell how much her voice was quivering. “You should be back in two hours. Your mum just wants to have lunch with you.”
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