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The four adults had finally managed to settle the freshmen, excited as they were to be tasting the joys of a simulated expedition. A group of half a dozen third year anthropology students had set up camp somewhere a few miles from this camp site, pretending to be a native tribe. The freshmen had to find them, 'interview' them and then, after they returned to Rainier, write an essay based on that interview. The older students would also be assessed on the answers they gave the 'interviewers', but none of the adults doubted that these assessments would be totally satisfactory. The members of the 'tribal' group had been selected carefully from the top five percent of their year - they knew their subject thoroughly.
With the freshmen in bed, Professor Langham and her three TAs - Elma Rothwell, Tom Bassett and Blair Sandburg - settled to relax and talk quietly for a while, then they too headed for their sleeping bags.
Blair was half asleep when he was wakened by a scream. He scrambled out of his sleeping bag, Tom just seconds behind him, unzipped the tent and crawled out. Elma and the Professor appeared from their tent just a moment later, and all four looked around, wondering what had alarmed one of the freshmen, most of whom were also appearing from their tents. There were panicked voices coming from one tent, and the four adults headed for it.
"What's wrong?" Professor Langham asked, her voice just sharp enough to cut into the panic as she unzipped the tent.
"There's a fire!"
Of the people outside the tent, only the Professor could see into it, see what the two terrified girls in it were indicating.
"Come out," she said. "When you see a light through the walls of a tent it can be completely misleading. Now - " as first one, then the other girl, appeared. "Look."
The full moon, rising large and tinted red, had just cleared the side of the hill that till then had hidden it from view. Branches moved gently in front of it in a light breeze.
"That's what you saw," she said. "The moon. I can understand why you thought it was a fire - seen through cloth, with the branches waving like that... But in future, if you see what looks like a moving light through the wall of the tent, look outside and check to see what it is before you scare yourselves, and everyone else in your party, out of five years' growth.
"All right, everyone - it was an understandable mistake, and if it had been a fire, we'd have been glad of the warning. Back to bed, everyone, and I don't want to hear any teasing going on in the morning."
Five minutes later, curled up in his sleeping bag, Blair fell asleep, his last thought that he'd have an amusing story to tell Jim when he got home.