THE SORCERER'S STONE!

  CHAPTER SIX: DOWN BY THE OCEAN

     Soon the three were walking along the beach. “Boy, that water’s cold,” said Skip, who had never seen the ocean before.

“That’s the way it is up here in northern Massachusetts,” replied Peter. “You enjoy it, but you don’t go in it.”

As they walked along and conversed, they learned that Skip had lived all his life in Ohio; Peter was native to Massachusetts while Larry had lived in many places.

“My father is assigned a new government contract each year, it seems. So we are always traveling to interesting places,” said Larry.

“Where are they living just now?” asked Skip.

That question was never answered; for, just then, Peter said, “Who’s that over there?”

Coming down a path onto the beach and toward them were two girls.

“You must be freshmen; for I’ve never seen you before,” said Peter.

“No, we’re both transfer students. My name is Barbara and this is Jennifer.” We’re both juniors, from a boarding school in the western part of the state.”

“Just call me Jenny,” said the other girl.

After everyone had introduced themselves, Barbara eyed Larry for a moment and then said, “What’s that sticking out of your shirt pocket?”

“That’s one of my Bibles,” said Larry.

“A Bible! Get this! A Bible at this place, and you even carry it around in public with you!” said Barbara in a tone of mock surprise.

“I am never ashamed of the Bible,” said Larry. “For centuries, Christians were burned at the stake rather than deny their faith in God. Why should I be ashamed that I carry a Bible around.”

Barbara was taken aback at the calm certainty with which Larry spoke about his Christian faith.

“Well, if you’re a fanatic,” you sure don’t look like one,” she said unthinkingly.

At this Larry really laughed. “Do I give that impression?”

“No, you really don’t. It’s just that Bible. Why do you carry it around? Is it for looks or something?”

“Not a bit,” replied Larry. “Whenever I have a little extra time, I take it out and read in it. I get strength from the Bible.”

“Strength! Now I’ve heard it all!” By this time Barbara was beginning to realize that she could not dent Larry’s confidence in his faith. Indeed, he seemed to have a more solid foundation than she did. But she sure wasn’t going to tell him that.

“Jenny, you haven’t said much yet,” said Peter.

“I don’t talk as much as Barbara,” said Jenny softly.

At this everyone laughed.

“Well, we’ll probably meet again on campus,” said Larry, and led the two boys on down the beach by themselves.

“Why didn’t you want to spend more time talking with them?” asked Peter.

“There will be time later to talk to girls,” but we shouldn’t be talking to them alone here. It’s not a good thing. We always have to keep our standards high or we can get in trouble.”

Both Skip and Peter liked this. If they hadn’t, they would have dumped Larry quick as a friend. But they saw in him a friend with high morals. Something they wanted for themselves.

In fact, they liked Larry so much, they didn’t mind the fact that he took time each morning and evening to have personal worship, read his Bible and pray. He never seemed to be ashamed of God.

Returning to the dorm, the boys cleaned up their two rooms and put all their stuff in place. Peter especially liked having a roommate for a change that went to bed on time at night. He said the one he had the previous year would wander in at midnight and wake him up. Peter also liked the fact that Larry was so well built. “If I stick with you, you’ll make a good bodyguard,” Peter joked. 

 

CHAPTER SEVEN: ROOM FOR SQUIRRELS TOO

 

“What’s this?” said Peter, as they stood in line for registration. The three boys were looking through the Fall Course Schedule, which they had just been handed as they entered the lineup.

Larry looked at where Peter was pointing. “The title of the course is ‘Recreational Studies.’ The description says it is required of all students, that it will meet throughout the year; and, it says here, ‘it will provide a pleasant diversion from the usual studies.’ ”

“Wonder what that’s all about,” Peter commented. “Sounds sort of mysterious.”

“It looks as if it was meant to be—till we get in there,” said Larry thoughtfully.

Heading down to the bookstore, the three got their textbooks for the first semester. But when they asked for the texts for the new class, they were told that, because it was rather new, any required textbooks might be announced in class within a week or so.

“Maybe this is all about nature walks,” laughed Peter as they headed back to the dorm.

“Well, that is something I think we would all enjoy,” said Larry.

“Me too,” chimed in Skip. “I think I’ll enjoy a little escape from the daily routine.”

That afternoon, Larry stopped by the grocery to see what was available, either on the shelves or by special order, and then went to the building Peter had pointed to as being the carpenter’s shop.

“Hi, may I come in?” asked Larry when the door was opened.

“Well, look who’s here!” said the older man who came to the door. “It’s the young man with the Bible!”

Larry recognized him immediately. It was the man who, the previous week, drove the bus that brought him and several other new students from Boston’s Logan Airport to the school.

“It’s good to see you again. I am Larry Grant. May I ask your name?”

“My name is Ned Oliver. I’m in charge of the heating plant, all maintenance on the campus, and have keys to the buildings. I don’t do all the work; but, for some reason, they thought I was smart enough to be put in charge of it. I guess I fooled ’em,” Mr. Oliver said with a grin.

At this, Larry laughed. He knew he had found a good friend.

“I have a strange request,” said Larry.

“Sure, what is it?” said Mr. Oliver.

“Back home, before coming here, I fed squirrels, chipmunks, and birds at a window in my house. And I would like to do it here.”

“Well, that’s the best I’ve heard yet!” laughed Mr. Oliver. “Do you think you’ll attract any?”

“Yes, I do,” replied Larry. “I have a corner room on the first floor of the boys’ dorm, and there is a large tree limb that comes rather close to one window. The little creatures could either fly or jump onto the edge of the window. The only problem is I’m not sure if chipmunks jump from limbs. I know they can climb trees.”

Laughing again, the kindly man said, “I’ll have to tell my wife about this one! Well, how can I help you?”

“I was wondering if I could get a piece of wood which could be used as something of a landing platform for my little friends, where they can eat sunflower seeds.”

“Where are you going to get the sunflower seeds?”

“I checked on this and the store has them.”

“I’ll tell you what,” said Mr. Oliver, “Because you are a special friend, I am going to make you a super-duper one. What are the dimensions?”

“According to my specs, it would be about 16 inches deep and 12 inches wide. I—I had hoped to add something to it.”

“What’s that, son?”

“Well, I was hoping to be able to add a vertical T piece underneath, set back about 2 inches from the 16-inch length. It would hang down between the desk and the window sill; so, when my desk is pressed against the wall, the platform would hold steady when squirrels jumped from the limb onto it.”

“You do know what you want,” said Mr. Oliver.

“I’ve done a little carpentry in the past, so I’m acquainted with the field.”

“Okay, I’ll tell you what. You stop back tomorrow afternoon and I’ll have it ready for you. Any other suggestions?”

“Well, said Larry, “I realize this will be a weak joint: a vertical board fastened, on end, to a horizontal one. So it would be best to drill holes and use screws. Then countersink and putty over them so the paws of the little creatures will not be cut by the screw tops. And, to strengthen the joints, solid wood would be better than even exterior-grade plyboard.”

It was obvious to Mr. Oliver that this boy knew more than most young people his age about carpentry.

“By the way,” Mr. Oliver added, “What happened to the squirrels you left behind when you came here?”

“No problem,” chuckled Larry. “They were all born wild, raised wild, and never in a cage, so they know how to take care of themselves. As soon as I left, they just went back to eating things in the woods.”

The next day, the students headed to their first classes. “Everything seems to be going well,” thought Larry. “I hope I can be a help to someone while I’m here this year.”

That afternoon, he stopped by the carpenter’s shop. “Well, here you are!” said Mr. Oliver. “I’ve got it ready.”

“Solid oak! Thank you so much!” exclaimed Larry. “And it has a wooden lip around the edges, to keep the seeds and shells from falling off! Great! What do I owe you?”

“You owe me nothing. You are my friend.”

“Thank you Mr. Oliver,” as the two shook hands.

When Larry set up his feeding station, both Peter and Skip were intrigued. They had discovered a new side to their pal.

“Why do you like little animals?” queried Skip.

“They’re God’s creatures too,” replied Larry. “It’s natural for Christians to want to be kind to animals. God has done so much for us; we want to do what we can to help others. Besides, these pets aren’t in cages. They always have their freedom.”  

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