Chas Adlard, Australian Author

The Born Again Australian


"Goliath was screaming while he tried to extinguish his clothing. The lighter fluid had leaked through his jacket pocket and down his right side. Now ignited, it burnt away his clothing and was searching for the skin below."

"The fire had succeeded in destroying the building's internal walls and half the roof structure, and as the fire engines arrived the roof started to collapse, making it impossible for the fire-fighters to enter the warehouse. The building was listed as disused, so the order from the officer-in-charge was for his men to contain the fire and not take any unnecessary risks. It was only in the morning light that the standby crew charged with the mopping up operations found Sandy's remains."

"The hairline crack had opened along the inner side of one hydraulic line just after the plane had taken off from Parafield....the red warning light that confirmed that the wheels were down and locked had flickered and died the trip before last and hadn't been fixed. As the port wheel touched terra firma the lowered landing gear simply gave way, causing the port engine to eat into the red dirt of the sheep station's runway."

"The force of the gelignite erupting in the carefully drilled hole caused a fracture in the subterranean ground. This explosion was followed by five more in quick succession, each in turn sending its own force to further weaken the tunnel face. Tons of the hard sandstone were blown outwards to land in a pile on the tunnel floor."

"Usually the truck would have stopped sufficiently to allow the car a clear passage, but the truck's tortured brakes failed to perform and its combined gross weight of forty-two tonnes hit the other vehicle's side, changing it into a misshapen mess of tangled steel and flesh."

"How he had survived, the doctors had no real idea, but now he lay a prisoner in the worst prison on earth, his own broken body. This jail had a torture chamber like no other, which was his own mind. A mind that still retained unusual clarity. A mind that worked continuously around the clock, driving him endlessly into a living hell of torment and despair."

"There was a smell of urine in the hot humid atmosphere. As the noose settled on his shoulders, he felt the hand of death temporarily leave his side. Now, in the silence, time stood still, and then he was falling."


For those who have suffered the loss of a loved one, they know the pain within has no control. It is wrenched from the very soul and bursts forth in audible sorrow. It is so unlike the normal crying child or a person in physical pain. This grief builds up with such agonising intensity that it will often erupt without prior warning.

Stand on a beach and watch a piece of wood washing in with one wave and out with another. Such is the natural healing process of the soul. Just as the lunar pull directs the tides, it comes and goes, slowly dealing with the sense of loss, the loneliness and above all the undying love.

She clutched the infant to her bosom, rocking gently on her heels, and then briefly bent down to kiss the child, and in doing so her tears fell lightly upon her little son's face as if in a baptismal caress. The glistening light of the cold early morning air accentuated the dampness of her sorrow on his cheeks.

The words on the note read, "Please love my child for he is a casualty of war."


Nineteen fifty-seven was only a few weeks old and, as is usual, England's January had seen both snow and rain together in the form of sleet. This day had surprised even the greatest optimist by its calm dry start complete with pale blue sky. How cruel a trick to play on the unsuspecting populace of London, for the wind hit with driving rains just before noon, with a chill factor that tore through the soul and left a heavy depression on every living thing in its wake.

Two boys, one twelve and the other thirteen, stood looking up at the tower above them. So great was their attention that they seemed oblivious to the latest climatic conditions.

The tower was one of many that marked the corners of the tall grey building. This building was not unlike other architecture in the greater London area that dated back to the eighteenth century. To some extent it resembled a castle, which undoubtedly the original architects had intended.

As the boys gazed up at the tower's battlements both were dealing with totally different emotions.

Charlie Windzor couldn't believe his luck. How the ageing nun, Sister Lillian, had managed to persuade the Holmhurst Board of Directors to accept him he supposed only God knew. It must have been the doing of the good Sister, for she, not they, spoke daily with the Almighty. Charlie had no real recollection of his first years of life and had only known the convent as his home and the nuns as his family. The "Sisters of the Blessed Trinity" had fended off both the government bureaucrats and other members of the church that wanted in the beginning to move the young infant to the care of the State. Sister Lillian had played an important part in this, for it was she who had found the child and the note that she felt was intended for her and her alone. She was well respected by the Reverend Mother who shared her concern for the State's ability to care for a child so young. For the nuns, Charlie was in some way temporary consolation for the extreme sacrifice placed on them by their vows and commitment which denied them motherhood. For Charlie had awoken, within most of them, their maternal instinct.

Just after Charlie's sixth birthday, the Sisters finally succumbed to State pressure and acknowledged that Charlie must now leave them to commence the normal education program at a school. Charlie was placed in a foster-home with a loving old couple, George and Martha Bentley, who had lost their two sons in the Second World War. He missed the convent and particularly Sister Lillian, but, unlike many other children who went out to the care of strangers, found his new environment acceptable. He spent the next two years with the Bentleys and attended a local school, but at eight he was removed from their home when George Bentley became very ill and Martha could barely manage her husband's needs.

The next five years were spent between three temporary foster homes and three schools. These foster parents were used to the "problem child" and were quite surprised at Charlie's apparent indifference to his change of habitat.

Charlie now entered his next stage of life with the excitement of adventure. To him, the building stood over him as a palace and the extensive grounds surrounding the school his estate.

Tobias Wendell Carrington the third was the younger of the two boys. The bubble of his life had burst just five months previously when his mother died in a car crash on the road below Hindhead, and considering her absolute faith in the Almighty it seemed incongruous that her early demise occurred in an area known as the Devil's Punchbowl.

Toby's father had died not long before the Second World War ended, when after a week's leave in late 1944 he returned to his ship which took him to the Pacific Ocean and his death. After the Japanese torpedo had killed the ship, the surviving ship's company of forty-seven clung to the inverted lifeboat, taking it in shifts between the boat and the sea. The sea had been extremely calm and the men in the water would often drift a few yards before rousing themselves and struggling back tiredly to the boat. Toby's father had given up his turn on the boat and was some fifty feet from it, shepherding in some weary sailors who had gone adrift, when shouts from the boat warned of danger. The shark, according to the reports taken later from the survivors aboard the rescue ship, had been extremely large, and in a frenzied panic the men in the water fought and struggled for a place on the boat. Toby's father, who was urging his charges to a greater speed, suddenly turned and with undeniable gallantry struck out towards the shark in self sacrifice, allowing the other men another chance at life. The men on the boat distinctly heard him shout, `It's fish for tea, boys,' before the shark took him. He left the world with a sample of his great humour and to his wife, a gift of their love, a son.

Toby was a slight boy with an immature pretty face that did not make him good looking, but only young. His hair was honey blonde and his eyes, although grey-green, had a friendly warmth that spread out to his temples in crinkling lines of hidden mirth. His mother had brought him up with impeccable manners, a frightening fear of the Lord and much motherly love. In short, he was completely unprepared for the life he was now to enter. Toby thought the building was a prison and that he was a victim of a crime of which he was innocent. In fairness his Uncle Mike had gone to a great deal of trouble in gaining Toby entrance to this well respected school. Holmhurst Boarding School for Boys had a noble background with quite a few exceptional scholars to boast about. Their names were inscribed on the Roll of Honour board which was displayed proudly in the main hall. This board also listed the school's fallen heroes of the First and Second World Wars, these names, sadly, far out- weighing the literate few.

The two boys were worlds apart. Toby, with his genteel upper- middle class background, had always known real family love, but Charlie, with his structured but not unpleasant upbringing, had yet to feel the touch of this type of love. From that first day when they stood beneath the east-wing tower, the boys had formed an alliance, not of words, but of each understanding the other's silence.

Charlie was a tall lad with a strong muscular build for one so young. His dark black hair fell down across his forehead, almost disguising the mischievous sparkle in his bright blue eyes that spelt certain trouble for the teaching fraternity at Holmhurst.

As the term commenced, Charlie soon asserted himself among the other boys of his academic year. His former background had given him all the training necessary to survive. From his life's experience he had also learned to escape the attention of his guardians and tutors and although a natural at most sports and a confident scholar he was at pains to avoid the limelight of first place either in sport or academic subjects.

Toby, on the other hand, started life at Holmhurst badly. He tried too hard to be accepted and in doing so became very conspicuous. His eagerness to please was exploited by the other boys and he became the "gopher". He also became an easy mark for all the school's bullies and with his "turn the other cheek" attitude, a legacy of his nurturing mother, the little confidence he possessed was rapidly eroded.

It wasn't the actual beatings, for in reality these were few, but the constant fear in Toby's mind was real. The headaches began and then the recurring illnesses that allowed him entrance to the school sanatorium.

However, Toby still had spirit and by luck the ability to tell a story and make people laugh came easily to him, and so began Toby's defence. As with a lot of story tellers prone to exaggeration, he found that telling the truth was instantly disbelieved but the most outrageous lies accepted without question.

Toby did not like sport, due mainly to the possibility of receiving a large dose of pain. His academic prowess was non-existent. Last in the class became synonymous with Tobias Wendell Carrington the third. He had now by necessity developed the guise of obscurity.

Charlie and Toby shared one other need and that was money. Neither of them had the pocket money that most other boys seemed to have in abundance.

Surprisingly, it wasn't Charlie who initially came up with the first money-raising scheme, but Toby, who had borrowed a penny from six different boys. This was not a lot to lend or to owe, but Toby did now have sixpence which was a definite move in the right direction.

`Toby, how many boys do you think are enrolled at Holmhurst?' asked Charlie.

`Probably about three hundred, why?'

`Supposing you and I were to borrow a copy of the school roll and then you worked from the end of the alphabet and I worked from the beginning. How many of the school would remember over a period of time a loan of say, one half-penny?'

`You and I certainly won't, mate,' grinned Toby. So their first partnership evolved.

With his new found wealth Toby could afford to buy the odd packet of ten cigarettes. The older boys tolerated him occupying a cubicle in the gym toilets, this being the haunt of nicotine addicts, providing he parted with the odd smoke or two. Charlie would smoke anyone else's but shied away from actually purchasing his own.

At Holmhurst the rules allowed for only three outings a week, one hour each on Wednesday and Saturday afternoon and two hours on Sunday. To be caught outside the school gate without permission at any other time would leave the offender in no doubt what "six of the best" meant.

Pocket money was only given out in weekly subscriptions, set at a maximum of three shillings per boy. This in turn reduced the temptation for some to acquire by less honest means the pocket money of the more fortunate.

The compulsive smoker would purchase his needs from a High Street shop once a week, generally Saturday, and by Tuesday his nerves would be subdued by cadging a drag from the few that still had stock. By Thursday, their cravings for the proverbial nicotine stick was absolute. The payment for one cigarette dictated by school mandate was between sixpence and one shilling depending whether it was the beginning or end of term, pocket money being more scarce towards the term's conclusion.

Charlie Windzor summoned Toby for an audience. `Today you stop smoking.'

`Now listen,' began Toby, until Charlie grabbed him around the neck.

`You were saying, Toby?' asked Charlie.

`Nothing Charlie.'

`Good! I have, old son, a plan.'

To the profits from their previous ongoing scam they added two- shillings and sixpence, gleaned weekly from Toby's prestigious position as altar boy, whose job it was to take the collection from the altar to the vestry after each Sunday service.

Charlie had tried to persuade Toby that five shillings would be hardly missed, but Toby was still suffering from his religious upbringing and dared not provoke the wrath of God by doubling his sin.

Charlie's plan was simple. By investing their profits once a month they could well afford one hundred cigarettes. They set the price for one cigarette at nine pence for the first third of the term and one shilling for the remainder. To avoid easy detection Charlie and Toby set up a distribution system. They paid a commission of one penny per cigarette to their sales staff.

The English Boarding School is run to a high degree by the students and they learn very quickly that the tutors are on a need-to-know basis only, the less the better. It is considered poor manners to inform on any other student and to do so would result in some horrible reprisal. This code of honour helped safeguard Charlie's enterprise.

However, the older boys started to buy cigarettes on the tab, promising early payment but never delivering. Charlie withdrew all sales and shut down distribution. The last debt was paid exactly fourteen days later and Charlie re-commenced business. Profits after six months were looking good, not surprising when the mark up was close to three hundred per cent.

As in all institutions of its type, Holmhurst introduced to the adolescent struggling with the early throes of puberty its own type of education. Homosexuality. To the young boys the first introduction would generally come from the older students. Very few pupils would react verbally or physically against their assailant for two reasons. The school ethics of silence had already been instilled at an earlier stage and secondly this was physically and emotionally an interesting new phenomenon.

The next stage of this type of sexual awakening was gradual depending on the individual's physical maturity. In general, the homosexual activity involved was quite mild, that of mutual masturbation only. Like most sexual drives it can become habitual, and often became widespread between students of the same school year. These students in the main were very conscious of their rapidly growing heterosexual urges and with more maturity stopped this extra-curricular activity to pursue their natural trait.

Charlie and Toby had both been participants in this form of sexual enlightenment. Charlie, being twelve months older than Toby, was much more physically mature. He had already tried to gain the affection of the female patrons of the local ten-pin bowling alley, when the opportunity presented itself.

The incident which planted the tiny seed in Charlie's sub-conscious mind happened when the Principal of Holmhurst stood in front of the assembled students to warn them of the severe consequences that the practice of masturbation in any form could have on them. He informed the gathered boys that the guilty parties were instantly recognisable by the dreamy look on their faces. This caused a ripple of movement in the crowd to shake off any tell-tale signs of lethargy.

As Charlie told Toby later, `I looked around when he said that, and they did look like a room full of wankers.'

When Charlie first met Maryanne and her sister Sue they were thirteen and fourteen years respectively. Charlie, now fifteen, but looking a good two years older, was in the young girls' minds the most beautiful person in the whole wide world or at any rate, the greater London area.

The girls spent a lot of time hanging around local milk bars, the bowling alley and the occasional dance hall. Their mother seemed to be pre-occupied with her endless string of men friends. This left the girls without the guidance they so desperately needed at this stage of their lives.

Charlie found it nearly impossible to separate the girls, which restricted his advances toward Sue and/or Maryanne. The girls were quite receptive to his attempts at petting, and as both declared their degree of love for him to be equal, it was a matter of course that as sisters they should share him.

Charlie was quite aware of how his body not only reacted to sexual stimulus but also how to prolong the pleasure. Not wanting the butterflies to take flight too early is how he expressed it. The girls, both at varying degrees of maturity, managed to show Charlie the secrets of their needs and how to waken their arousal. Until now their love-making had been restricted to heavy petting only and so Charlie had become quite adept at the art of foreplay. The girls remained technically virgins despite Charlie's persistence.

Toby had remained remote from Charlie's relationship with the two sisters. He not only was by age much younger but more importantly by maturity. However, some six months had elapsed since Charlie had first met the girls and there was after all the next step in their relationship to overcome. Charlie's perception of the true reason behind the girls' hesitancy to relinquish their maidenheads was their need for individual privacy.

Charlie had met the girls as a rule in a local cafe and later their amorous adventures generally took part in the back seat of a wrecked car in a nearby disused quarry, not the most romantic or comfortable place for a budding Romeo to woo his Juliets.

On impulse Charlie decided to take Toby with him the next time he had a rendezvous with Sue and Maryanne. Toby was becoming more and more independent and with this change of character he had gained some confidence and a lot more maturity.

Toby had been very nervous when Charlie introduced the girls. However, he soon had them both laughing at his quick-witted humour and by the end of their first meeting had managed to achieve two things. Firstly to fall desperately in love with the older sister, Sue, who was extremely flattered by his obvious infatuation, and secondly to make Charlie Windzor extremely jealous, the latter not being the most desirable of achievements.

Charlie refused to take Toby on the next two visits which caused Sue, the normally sweet Sue, to say some pretty unlady-like things. When the sisters withdrew all sexual favours Charlie instantly relented and promised to bring Toby along with him the next time they all met.

Within a few weeks Toby's education was advancing at a most respectable rate. That is to say his study of human anatomy and the reproductive system was literally in the safe and by now experienced hands of his own private tutor Sue.

Choosing their individual partners, the girls no longer administered joint favours to Charlie alone. However, as their battered accommodation in the quarry was somewhat cramped, they all shared an intimate knowledge.

Some months later, Charlie and Toby met the girls as usual in the cafe but immediately knew from their behaviour that this meeting was to be different. The girls' mother apparently had gone to Brighton for a lustful weekend with her current beau, leaving the girls alone in their house.

As they entered the girls' home the four of them were highly excited. Here at last they could as couples find their own privacy. The boys were not to know that both girls had decided the night before to take the final step towards womanhood.

To the boys it was to be a completely different emotional experience.

Charlie found himself swimming in a mist of longing. This intense build-up of mental anxiety began immediately he felt the incredible internal warmth of Maryanne. As she guided and coaxed him her hands stroked the back of his head, at first slowly and then more quickly, helping him to understand her needs. Afterwards lying quietly in her arms Charlie felt the first tears stinging his eyes and then unashamedly let nature wash the pain of his loneliness away. Maryanne, with great intuition for one so young, remained silent.

Toby had surprised Sue by his gentle assertiveness and his skilful love-making. It was the first time he had taken the initiative since she had started his tuition. Toby's emotions were in a turmoil, and he felt more powerful now than he had ever done before. His feelings of love for Sue were in danger of brimming over and yet he wanted something more, something strangely intangible.

The following months only improved all their individual expertise at love-making. Charlie and Toby had bought with money earned from the cigarette racket two bicycle raincoats with large hoods. On rainy days this allowed them to go "absent without leave" with little danger of being caught, as it would hardly have been polite for any of Holmhurst's teaching staff to peer around the corner of these disguises to enquire who was within.

Maryanne and Sue had talked often to the boys about their school life and were highly interested in the form of sexual relief practised by many of the students.

Toby had started to fall in love simultaneously with three other girls that frequented the bowling alley and, although still faithful to Sue, he felt the need to explore other friendships. Had his love for Sue not dwindled somewhat, the enormity of Charlie's new plan would never have passed first base.

The tiny seed in Charlie's mind had born fruit only when the girls had brought up for the fourth time the subject of the school's masturbators. The girls had first feigned horror when Charlie had suggested that they could, for a price, provide a service for these frustrated boys. He hastened to add that their role in this could be compared to the clinical approach of caring and not at all that of general prostitution.

The girls thought it over and made some demands. They would reserve the right to provide only the service the individual deserved based on their initial appraisal of the interested party. For the most part, this would only involve hand manipulation and no more. The interested party could not touch them without their express permission. They would keep eighty per cent of all profits and not as Charlie had suggested, forty per cent.

Charlie took on the financial management of this new venture, setting the tariff for each probable service. As the average boy still only had a weekly subscription of three shillings it was inevitable that this figure represented the cost for the girls' cheapest service.

To help boost the clientele Charlie closed down the cigarette distribution. The next six months would see two marked changes at Holmhurst. Firstly, half the nicotine addicts at Holmhurst would miraculously quit smoking and secondly the school Chaplain would become most disappointed with the size of his collection. This apparently surprised the six altar boys too.

For security, the girls provided their service at ten different locations selected by Toby at random. Toby interviewed each prospective new client to ensure the fee was paid in advance and to see that the individual presented himself with a high degree of personal hygiene.

Business picked up quite dramatically after the following school holiday as the returning boys secreted pocket money on their persons in order to win the girls' special favours.

Two records were broken that term. Homosexuality took a down turn and personal theft went up alarmingly.

The rest of that term passed smoothly and the girls had kept things in hand literally without having to expand the scope of their business. They had learnt that the spoken word, full of exotic paraphrases, cut their work down considerably.

Charlie was very aware that his status among the other students had risen dramatically, to the detriment of his previous desire to be virtually anonymous. Toby and the girls found it difficult at first to understand why Charlie wanted to close down such a successful business, but soon realised that as usual he made sense. If they continued, their chances of detection would surely escalate. They closed their business at the conclusion of the school year.

Toby spent the school holidays plus another two weeks in hospital having his tonsils and adenoids removed and also in quarantine for the mumps, which thankfully did not eventuate.

On his return to Holmhurst he was greeted by a swarm of boys from his class, all eager to impart the latest news. Charlie Windzor was in the sanatorium recovering from a nasty fall, which had hospitalised him with concussion, two broken ribs and a dislocated shoulder.

Toby waited impatiently for visiting hours, sitting outside the "san" with his back to the door. Sister Llewellyn let him in promptly at the appointed time and cautioned him as a well known patron on the correct form of behaviour.

`You awake?' asked Toby, looking at Charlie's ashen face.

`With you bellowing in my ear how could I be asleep?' answered Charlie.

`What the hell happened to you?'

Charlie did not know how it had happened, all he could recall was leading the rush of boys up the stone steps of the circular stairs which led to the third floor dormitory. Just before reaching the dorm, all the boys put on a last minute dash which in turn caused such a squash that it momentarily stopped them until one of the new students had added his weight. They were propelled forward like a cork leaving a champagne bottle. During the pushing and shoving that followed, Charlie felt his ankles tap together. Then suddenly his body lifted upwards, his back caught the banister rail and he found himself falling backwards and then downwards. Luckily, his jacket had snagged momentarily on the banister newell which broke his fall.

Every term sees the enrolment of some new boys and this term had been no exception. One boy stood out among the other new entrants. His huge body belied his age of fifteen years, he had red hair and his facial features supported a big nose and small piggy eyes that gave him a spiteful look which suited his bullying personality. He came with a ready made nickname from his previous school, "Goliath".

During his first three days at Holmhurst Goliath had listened to all the stories of Charlie's and Toby's exploits from the previous terms. As his plan for school supremacy did not allow for any opposition, they became, to his mind, instantly expendable. Toby's temporary absence narrowed Goliath's prey down to one.

It took just three more days of term before his opportunity came. In the commotion at the top of the third floor stairs, nobody noticed him reach down and flip Charlie's feet sideways. It was such a simple manoeuvre. Charlie's centre of gravity and body weight had done the rest.

Toby had left the sanatorium and gone in search of other friends. He entered the middle day room to find three of his class mates sitting at one of the tables.

`Watch it, Toby, Goliath's looking for you,' they informed him.

`Who the bloody hell is Goliath, when he's at home?' asked Toby, already feeling the apprehension building.

`Bad news, Toby, bad news.'

Toby managed to avoid Goliath for two days, due mainly to his superior knowledge of the school and its surrounds. However, his mental state was one of extreme nervousness and his head ached badly.

One of Toby's favourite spots at Holmhurst was a small copse of trees on the east side of the grounds. The stream ran into a small pond which was reed bound. The male Mallard with its vivid colours of blue and green kept pretty much apart from his mate and her fledglings. The new born ducklings were pale golden fluffy balls with large oversized beaks. They played in the wash behind their mother, occasionally straying until a stern "quack" brought them once more into line. As the ducks had been spoilt year after year by the children at Holmhurst they no longer displayed their natural caution but ventured close to where Toby lay on the grass bank.

Toby had managed to sneak some bread from the dining room and this he now fed to the hungry ducks. The bread soon disappeared and Toby was just about to leave when he heard some people approaching. To be on the safe side, he did not rise but simply edged across until he could see through the reeds. He knew the first boy as a minor trouble maker, but it was the other boy that caught his attention, a big hulk of a lad. He knew without doubt that this had to be Goliath. The adrenalin surged through his body making him feel instantly nauseous. Toby turned and snaked through the grass on his knees and elbows until he came to a thick outcrop of reeds. Once in hiding, he turned to watch the approaching boys.

Goliath took three cans of cigarette lighter fluid out of one of his jacket pockets and put them on the ground. From the other pocket he produced some loose Swan Vesta matches which he pushed into his trousers pocket. Shrugging off his jacket, he flung it on the ground behind him. It landed only two feet from where Toby lay, scared witless.

Goliath turned to the other boy and asked `You got the bread?'

`Yes, here it is,' he answered, extending his hand.

`Don't give it to me, you moron, break it up and give it to the ducks. Slowly though.'

Goliath picked up all three cans and turning, threw one onto his jacket. The ducks had started to feed now and the baby ducklings were very active, though not really participants in the feast. Goliath held a can in both hands and as the little ducks came near he dosed them liberally with the fluid. He was careful to maintain a stream of light pressure which landed on the little bodies as a fine spray.

Toby still had not grasped the situation fully and waited for Goliath's next move which came almost immediately.

`Now to play sink the Bismarck,' he informed the other boy, who from his expression did not want to play.

Goliath reached into his trouser pocket and produced a match which he scratched quickly across the seat of his pants. It ignited at first strike and as he flicked it out towards the ducklings the flame extinguished.

`Bugger it,' said Goliath as he repeated the procedure with no more success than before.

On the sixth attempt the match seemed to go safely past one of the ducklings but then suddenly it arced and fell. There was a sudden burst of flames which incinerated the little body instantly.

`Thar she blows!' shouted Goliath.

Toby felt the tears of pity streaming down his cheeks. This pity was not just expressed for the ducks, but for his own inadequacy.

`Come on you bastard, grab some matches and have a go.' The other boy shrank back visibly from Goliath's proffered hand.

`You wet prick! I'll need some more fluid if the next matches miss.'

The next match fell short but in doing so attracted one duckling's curiosity. It darted towards the spot where the match had landed, only to be enveloped in flames as the second match found its mark. The third little bird to die suffered terribly as only a small amount of feathers ignited. In an effort to avoid its pain the duckling drove faster through the water, beating its under-developed wings. This increased the flames' fury until they became the little mite's funeral pyre.

Toby knew if he could just empty the other can and make it look like an accident the surviving ducks may have a chance. He slowly moved forwards and reached for the can of lighter fluid. He picked it up and tried to unscrew the top spout but it was built into the can top. As he struggled with the spout it suddenly broke off. Panicking, Toby dropped the can on top of Goliath's jacket and retreated once more behind the reeds.

The male duck broke first, followed immediately by the female. With flapping wings they beat a path through the thick reeds until enough clearance was available for a flight path. Once in the air, they circled overhead sounding their anguish in a continual call.

The two remaining ducklings had managed to hide among the reeds on the opposite side of the stream. Goliath grew bored with the chase and turned back to get his jacket. He picked up the can and as he donned his coat, thrust it into his right pocket.

Goliath saw Toby the moment he started to unbutton his fly. With the intention of relieving himself temporarily forgotten, he let out a foul expletive and reached down and grabbed Toby by the hair, yanking him to his feet.

`Who the hell are you then?'

`That's Toby Carrington,' exclaimed the other boy.

`So, I've found you at last, you little worm,' said Goliath, as he transferred his grip to encompass Toby's throat.

Toby knew that this was not to be the usual bashing-up that he had received on numerous occasions but something much more sinister. He was petrified and tried to break Goliath's grip. He lashed out with his feet at Goliath's exposed legs but this just enraged the big brute and the grip around his neck increased.

Goliath removed his right hand from Toby's neck and reached into his pocket. Bringing out a Swan Vesta he held it before Toby's terrified eyes.

`I'm going to fix you like I fixed that weak mate of yours, Charlie bloody Windzor,' bragged Goliath.

Although shocked, Toby knew without doubt that this loathsome creature had manufactured, in some way, Charlie's fall.

`You bastard,' croaked Toby.

`We'll start with your hair - from blonde to flaming redhead in one swift move,' gloated Goliath as he dropped his hand in readiness to strike the match across his backside.

`Don't, please don't Goliath.' This cry did not come from Toby but from the other boy who was appalled by the brutality that he was witnessing.

`Piss off, go on piss off, you yellow bastard. I'll fix you later,' shouted Goliath. The other boy did not move, temporarily paralysed with the enormity of the situation.

Goliath's hand moved across his seat pants. There was a loud "whoosh" and the grip on Toby's neck instantly released. He tumbled backwards and this saved him from the searing heat. Goliath was screaming while he tried to extinguish his clothing. The lighter fluid had leaked through his jacket pocket and down his right side. Now ignited, it burnt away his clothing and was searching for the skin below. Goliath turned, still screaming, towards the pond. His eye- brows had burnt and the flames had fanned his face and started on his hair.

The other boy, until now transfixed, turned and ran, his nerve finally gone. He didn't look back and soon had disappeared from sight.

Toby stood up and slowly moved forward to where Goliath crouched on his knees in the water. The flames were now out and he seemed to have escaped serious injury. Toby was looking intently at Goliath's face for he had seen something in his eyes that fascinated him. Goliath pushed himself up and started to leave the water, holding his hands up to his burnt face. He was not aware of Toby standing there and pulled up with a start when he saw him. As soon as their eyes met, Toby saw it yet again.

All his school life he had lived in the shadow of his own fear and had never associated it with something that others shared. Here for the first time he saw it clearly mirrored in Goliath's cruel eyes.

Something snapped in Toby's mind and all the years of pent up fury exploded in one mighty swing of his leg into Goliath's unprotected groin. Goliath's knees sagged and his legs splayed apart. Although badly injured he managed to stay on his feet. Gone now was the fear that had been prominent in his eyes, and in its stead was hate and anger.

`You're dead meat, you and Charlie Windzor both,' hissed Goliath through clenched teeth. He sucked in deep breaths of air in an effort to alleviate the pain.

Toby was frightened again, but now he used this adrenalin surge to promote his next action. He stooped and picked up a small rock and threw it at Goliath's face, who reacted by lifting his hands from his groin to protect his face. Toby moved in and kicked him quite deliberately twice more in the balls. Goliath fell forward and lay still.

Toby knew that Charlie had to be protected from an early reprisal. He searched around and found a large flat rock. Because of its weight he could not lift it but managed to work it over to where Goliath lay. Reaching down, he took Goliath's right arm and extended it over the rock with the elbow and the palm of his hand turned face up to lock it in position. Toby walked backwards three paces and then took a quick leap forwards, landing with both feet on Goliath's upturned elbow.

The crack seemed to echo across the water for a long time before fading away. Toby lent down and got a hold on Goliath's unbroken arm and pulled the unconscious form away from the rock. He then turned Goliath onto his uninjured side.

Toby took two paces back and sank down on the ground. He began to shake uncontrollably as the reaction set in. However he did not feel either nauseous or tearful, which under the circumstances would have been natural for him. Goliath started to moan and this brought Toby instantly to his feet. He turned away towards the school building and, at a trot, made his way to his dormitory.

Toby packed a small bag with his personal belongings. He opened the poetry book that no longer contained the works of Keats but had been hollowed out to provide room to secrete a packet of cigarettes. Taking out the packet Toby removed, not cigarettes, but his remaining share of the previous term's profits. Just over five pounds in loose change, not a fortune, but enough for his immediate needs. He placed the money in the bag and zipped it shut.

He left a note for Charlie in the safe hands of one of their former cigarette distributors.

As he left the school grounds he felt extremely happy, realising that his destiny was firmly in his own charge from now on.

It took him just under two hours to reach his Uncle Mike's home in Guildford. He let himself in after retrieving the spare key from under the front mat. The house smelt of his Uncle Mike's pipe tobacco which always made Toby feel at home.

Toby opened his uncle's desk and removed the envelope with his name on it. He had been shown the contents some months earlier during a holiday visit. Inside the envelope was a photo of his mother taken just before her death, and his birth certificate and bank book. Opening the bank book he found the total amount had changed by four pounds in his favour. Thanks Uncle Mike, he thought. He was rich, thirty-five pounds plus the money in his bag.

He returned the contents to the envelope and left it in the desk. It was now approaching seven o'clock in the evening which indicated that his uncle should be home at any time. His Uncle Mike, who had never married, normally worked late at his small travel agency in Aldershot.

He opened the door for his Uncle Mike before he had time to insert his key.

`Good grief, Tobias, you scared the hell out of me,' he exclaimed.

`Sorry Uncle Mike, I heard you shut the car door and thought I'd better show myself before you came inside.'

`That's OK, let's get a drink each and then you can tell me why you're here.'

Toby faced his Uncle Mike across the table where they sat. His uncle sipped his sherry and smoked his pipe in silence, waiting for Toby to speak. Toby fiddled with his ginger ale that sat on the table before him.

`Uncle Mike, I've never lied to you before.'

`So don't start now,' said his uncle with sudden perception.

Toby took the hint and changed his tactics. `Something happened today that will not allow me to return to Holmhurst.'

Toby sketched around some details without actually having to lie. He told of his general dislike for Holmhurst and that he now wanted to leave school altogether.

His uncle busied himself lighting his pipe that was quite obviously already well alight.

`That's all very well, Tobias, but what form of career do you have in mind?'

`I thought the Merchant Navy, sir. I have read about the stewards on overseas liners and think I'd quite like that sort of life.'

`Well, if you're serious I can probably give you some help, as my work brings me into contact with many people in the shipping industry.'

The next morning Uncle Mike rang the school to let them know that Toby was with him and that he wouldn't be returning to Holmhurst. He promised to send a letter confirming this as soon as possible.

Next he arranged through a friend at P & O-Orient Lines for Toby to have an interview.

Things moved very fast from that first interview. Next was a trip to Prescott Street for another appraisal and to join the Union, then a medical check which thankfully he passed. Two weeks later he was informed by post that he should report to the National Sea Training School at Gravesend for eight weeks of training. On the favourable result of that course, P & O-Orient Lines would employ him.

Charlie heard the increased activity in the "san" and as Sister Llewellyn passed the ward door he queried, `What's up, Sister?'

`None of your business, Charlie Windzor,' she replied with no real heat, for Charlie had already won a place in her heart.

At visiting time one hour later he received Toby's note:
Charlie, I'm leaving school today. The new boy Goliath confessed that he organised your fall. I have stopped him from hurting you, as you will soon hear. Thankyou for being my friend. Yours Toby Carrington. - P.S. I will write to you as soon as I can.

`Silly bastard,' said Charlie, swallowing back his emotion.

Goliath returned from the hospital endowed with facial bandages and his right arm encompassed with a large plaster cast. He was wheeled into the same ward as Charlie and transferred to the bed opposite him.

Hells bells, thought Charlie, what had overcome little Toby to inflict injuries such as these.

Charlie had to answer the call of nature several minutes later, and as he made his way to the toilet he passed a trolley that contained many various bottles. His attention was caught by a label which proclaimed the contents to be Hydrochloric Acid. Picking up the bottle which appeared empty he continued on his way. Not about to take any chances he rinsed the bottle in the toilet before proceeding with the business in hand, so to speak. When he returned to the ward the marked bottle contained a sample of his urine.

Charlie waited patiently for Goliath to awaken and when he did Charlie was standing over him, the Hydrochloric Acid bottle clearly visible in his hand.

Goliath was having difficulty focusing on his new surroundings but gradually his vision returned and he found himself staring at a bottle label. Charlie waited for Goliath to fully comprehend the value and connotation of the marked bottle in his hand and then he said,

`You let the weakest kid in school beat the shit out of you today. Now, here is a message from me!' Charlie tipped the entire contents of the bottle into Goliath's eyes.

Goliath was still screaming fifteen minutes later.

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