The flag rippled steadily at the top of the pole, quickly interchanging reds, blues and whites to the unfocused eye. The pole was taller than the terracotta rooftops by some metres, as these were all one storey high. The roofs were long and low and they shielded two hundred and fifty three little students from the glare of the mounting sun and provided a cool space to hear the lessons of five superannuated teachers, each holding a piece of chalk and commanding the blackboard at the end of five rooms, filled with rows of desks.

At Midday the guns high up on the mountainside began to fire and all the little students spilled out from under the terracotta roofs and massed near the gates of the compound. Through the gates there was a view stretching down to the pale blue harbour, and as the big guns continued to fire, the boys and girls spotted the ship entering through the heads, like a smudge of grey, then a spot, and then a nautical shape with masts and sails and guns of her own.

The good boys and girls would have toffee and chocolate for Easter, and their parents would have all the latest magazines and prophylactics.

The Commandant emerged from his office at the other end of the parade ground, and told the children to go back inside. They reluctantly complied, but they wouldn’t be much good as scholars for the rest of the day.

And then the rain came.

Published in: on August 20, 2015 at 8:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

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