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The trip was something of a failure.

Not that Blair Sandburg was particularly surprised. Several years of studying under Eli Stoddard, several years of weekend trips to the various places of anthropological interest within three hours' travel time of Rainier that Stoddard had organized, two or three longer summer expeditions, had left him with a knowledge of what to expect from such a weekend, and it was only due to Blair that this one was not a total disaster.

Not long after Blair finished his own studies and began working at Rainier as a TA, Stoddard had left Rainier to concentrate on longer expeditions to the remote corners of the world, and Dr. Green, his replacement... Blair found himself wondering if Dr. Green had ever been on any kind of expedition anywhere. His lessons, as far as Blair could discover, leaned totally on what could be found in books, never once illustrated by 'When I was in...'

Knowing that Blair had been on a number of trips, several of the students had come to him after Green announced that they would be visiting a small excavation site in the Cascades and staying overnight, to ask just what was likely to be involved. Green, it transpired, had told them nothing other than 'there was going to be a weekend away' and attendance was mandatory.

Blair told them to come back later, and went to see Green.

Green was... not helpful. Even when Blair pointed out that this was a group of freshmen who knew nothing about studies in the field, Green remained uncooperative. "Call it a test of their initiative," he said. "Now stop wasting my time and go and get on with your own work."

"Can I come along to deal with the grunt work?" Blair asked. "It would make things easier for you, and be good experience for me, especially if some of the students turned out not to have much initiative."

Green glared at him for a moment, then reluctantly nodded. "All right."

Blair left, realizing he would get no further with this stubborn idiot, went back to his office and when the students came back an hour or so later, he suggested that they each take with them a sleeping bag, something like a plastic sheet that could be used as a cover in case it was wet, and some food, like sandwiches, that could be eaten without the need for cooking. "If you don't need them, there's no harm done, but it's often not convenient, or even possible, for these small sites to cater for student visitors. And tell the rest of your class, too."

* * * * * * * *

Blair gave some thought to his own preparations for the weekend, making sure he had with him the kind of supplies, like a full first aid kit, that Green should have but that Blair suspected he wouldn't think of. Certainly the resident researchers would have such a kit but it was, as Stoddard had always emphasized, discourteouss for visitors not to provide their own, should it be needed.

Once the group was on the bus, the driver asked Green for instructions to the site.

Green, it transpired, had no idea.

Fortunately Blair had been to the site with Stoddard several times, and did know.

When they arrived, it was to discover that Green had 'forgotten' to let Dr. Morris, who was running the site, know when they were coming... and Green expected that he, as the man in charge, would be provided with the food and overnight accommodation that he had neglected to tell the students they would need.

Morris directed him to a tent, and he headed straight there, ignoring the needs of the students. Morris watched him go, then looked at Blair. "Blair. Are you... ?"

"Sort of unofficial dogsbody. I... volunteered to come along to help out, make things easier for Dr. Green."

"More like make sure the students got something of value out of the trip," Morris muttered. "Do they at least have sleeping bags, food?"

"If they don't it's their own fault," Blair said. "I let them know the basics of what they'd need. If they didn't bring those, the sooner they learn their mistake... "

"Big change from Eli, isn't it."

Blair sighed. "I don't grudge him his change of career - he always wanted to spend more time in the field. But I miss him. Dr. Green lives up to his name; he doesn't seem to have any grasp of the practicalities of work in the field. I suspect he's only coming out because Rainier expects students to get a little exposure to field work." He shook his head. "Usual place for us to set up?"


"Thanks." Blair glanced towards the students, who had been retrieving their bags from the trunk of the bus - his own pack had travelled with him in the bus. "This way, guys."

He led them to where a small area under the trees had been cleared of undergrowth. The canopy provided a certain amount of shelter, but he knew from experience that if it rained, the water would eventually make its way through the leaves to drip onto the ground. Before they reached it, he heard the bus starting up, and glanced back to see it heading off down the road. He shrugged and returned his attention to the students.

Several of them didn't have sleeping bags, but had brought a blanket. At least they all had something to sleep in. He got them organised, girls at one side of the 'camp ground', men at the other, and established his own space between them. That was one thing he had forgotten - there should have been a female TA there too, to act as chaperone - but he suspected that Green, who had accepted his presence only reluctantly, would have totally dismissed the need for one.

He had every intention of complaining about all of this once they got back to Rainier... not that he thought there was much chance of Chancellor Edwards paying attention to anything he said. On the other hand, maybe he could ask Dr. Morris...

The afternoon was reasonably productive. Dr. Morris took them around; he was helpful and informative, and Blair could only be relieved that this first trip for the freshmen was to this site. There were other places where Green - or, more likely, Blair - would have been left to do most of the talking, and without much chance to prepare for it, that would have been... difficult.

After they had been shown around the site and everything explained, Green disappeared again. Blair exchanged looks with Morris, then took the students back to their camp, and after they'd eaten gathered them to ask them about what they'd seen, several times telling them to 'think about that'. As darkness fell, he chased them off to bed.

* * * * * * * *

Morning arrived, and after breakfast - a fairly scanty meal for some of the students, who hadn't brought enough to eat - they gathered for their 'official' discussion with Dr. Green of what they had seen.

Accompanied by Dr. Morris, Green made an appearance, nodded to Blair - "Carry on" - and sat back to listen.

With Morris's help, Blair managed to extend the discussion a little from the talk they'd had the previous night, and after a couple of hours he brought it to a halt and took the students back to camp to gather up their things.

They were due to leave around mid-day.

Mid-day came and went, and there was no sign of the bus. After a while, Blair suggested phoning to see what was causing the delay.

Green didn't know the number.

Blair said, with the patience of extreme exasperation, "All right, I'll get it," and phoned directory enquiries. [Author's note - this is the UK term; I assume America has the equivalent, but I have no idea what it's called.]

Given the number, he dialled it, and asked about the bus.

"Bus? Bus? Dr. Green only contacted us about being taken to the archaeological site; he didn't say anything about when you were returning to Rainier."

"Can you send one? We do need to get the students back tonight... Thank you."

As he hung up, Blair decided that if he was marking Green on the organization and efficiency of this trip, the result would definitely be a failure.


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