Stories by Colin Burke

The Chronicles
of Angle Stream

“God,” Randolph Rand prayed silently as he closed the door of his home on Trent Park, “please have me win it.” The computer company scholarship for which he was to compete, if it was a competition, meant much: it could wholly pay his way through Memorial to a degree in science with his major in psychology, without his having to get a student loan; he had a horror of being in debt to any real extent, no doubt transmitted from his father’s honest thriftiness, which hadn’t obviously bedeviled his older brothers. (Besides, they’d been confident of degrees and subsequently work, in their study fields.)

“Go home, boy,” he said to the Pottles’ dog as it came up to him while he passed their house. It wasn’t sensible, he thought, to let the dog, which no doubt the Pottle kids loved now as he’d once loved Bounder, out on the street like that, though Trent Park was pretty quiet at evening. But at least The Menace, as Mr. Rand had grudgingly called her, was dead and gone.

“God, please keep me alert tonight,” he added to his prayer. “You didn’t grant the sleep I needed last night, so please keep me alert.”

Randolph turned left at the bottom of the hill instead of crossing Westvale Avenue to Elston, mainly because he thought Mrs. Reibling might be out, who still thought of him as a dog lover, and he didn’t want to talk to her about her dogs. Besides, he hadn’t time to talk; the test was set for seven-thirty and it was seven o’clock now. “Please let me win,” he said silently again to God.

“There’s an unusual opportunity open to you, Randy,” Dr. Pond had said to him about two weeks earlier, when Randolph had been called to the principal’s office. “A major computer company on the mainland is offering a scholarship this year to students at Coaker College who want to major in psychology and who meet certain requirements. The sponsor of the scholarship prohibits me from telling you what these requirements are, or how many of our students have met them, but I can assure you that you do meet them. It’s a scholarship offered from the private fortune of the major shareholder of the company, who has ties with Newfoundland, with Angle Stream in particular, that cause him to be favourably disposed toward students from this area. He wishes the details of these connections to be kept confidential by the college, and if they were to become known through the fault of our administration here, this college’s students would no longer qualify for examination for this scholarship. It would pay all tuition fees, the cost of accommodation at the St. John’s residence or one of the Burton’s Pond apartments, and normal holiday travel expenses, until you get your bachelor’s degree in psychology. In return, you would have to keep me, or the next principal of Sir William’s, informed of your progress through the years, which we would report to the sponsor of the scholarship in case he should decide to make you a job offer, which you would be under no obligation to accept, when you graduate. It is, as I said, a most unusual opportunity, and it comes from a most respectable source, which is all that I am permitted to tell you about the sponsor.

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