Albert Higgins sat miserable and wet at the bus shelter. It had been raining all day,adding to his already depressed mood. He knew he was going to flunk English Literature. He had no interest in the subject. Especially when it was taught by a grey-bearded, highbrowed teacher named Boswell Orson Gallagher.
Albert hadn’t read any of the ‘selected books’—books chosen by unseen people, in unseen offices, for unseen students. “What a crappy system,” he muttered.
As he sat there smarting from Gallagher’s after school lecture, he wondered where his life was going.
Albert loved the Mathematics and Sciences—even History, but the rest of it…?
Boswell Orson Gallagher, or ‘BOG’ as everyone called him, had shouted at Albert after school that day as he’d been detained for not having handed in another assignment:
“My name is Albert. Albert Higgins.”
“Well, Higgins—you’ve managed to scuff and slouch your way through your year in this class. I’m giving you one last opportunity to redeem yourself and at least obtain 50 per cent—enough to get acceptance to a university.”
During this tirade, Albert stood, head down, gazing with morbid fascination at a crack in the floor, imagining it would swallow him up; that he would disappear,and Gallagher would be responsible.
“Look at me, Higgins,” shouted Bog, “I’m speaking to you. I want you to bring me a damn good book report on a book of YOUR CHOOSING. Now, get out of here. Go find a book and surprise me.”
Albert raised his head and mumbled, “Yes B…Sir,” as he fled the room.
As Albert waited for his bus, he glanced around searching for some loose change.
Sometimes people drop money here.
Suddenly he spotted something poking out from underneath the far end of the seat. Sliding over, he stretched out his arm, reached down and hauled it up. “Oh great, a book. Just what I need,” he grumbled. Glancing at the title he read, The Dangerous River by R. M. Patterson. The dust jacket on the hardcover book was torn in places but the front inside flap was intact and said Third Impression . Underneath was a summary of the book. As Albert skimmed it, he read words such as, North West Territories, South Nahanni River, lost gold, vanished men. There was reference to place names such as Deadmen’s Valley, The Valley of the Great Stones, The Twisted Mountains; also, mentioned was the wild life of the country—the sheep and the caribou, the moose, bears and wolves; the stunning topography of the land: the deep canyons and rapids; hot springs, the great Nahanni falls….
Flipping through the book, he discovered various black and white photos. There was even one of the author himself. Wow! This guy doesn’t have a beard!
So fascinated was Albert that he almost missed his bus which had pulled up to the shelter. He slipped the book into his knapsack, dashed out the shelter doorway and hopped onto the bus.
Albert could hardly wait to get home. He knew now what he was going to be doing on this rainy, miserable night.
As for the book itself…in days to come, Albert would wonder who left such an amazing book in the bus shelter and he thought about tracking down the owner. “Maybe that could become another story,” he thought excitedly.