During Monday’s Philosophy class Anna found herself restless and distracted. She tried to find invisibly amongst the other students. She needed to talk to him. She needed to satisfy her curiosity, but now she was doubting that it was a good idea. Maybe doing so would make him feel as uneasy as she did about mentioning it?
She had planned to talk to him after class, but after spending class lost in her conflicting thoughts, she failed to notice that the lecture had finished, and Professor Bauer had left. A young man, the only other one left behind, tapped her politely on the shoulder and drew her attention to the empty room. She couldn’t believe that she had not only over-thought her way through a whole lecture, but that she had missed her opportunity to talk to Professor Bauer.
Disappointed, she made her way to her next lecture. But the rest of the day’s classes seemed to be lost in the same cloud of pensive haze that had plagued her in his lecture. By the end of the day, it was starting to seem like it was not meant to be. Anna just wanted to go home.
As she made her way out of the gates, she noticed Professor Bauer leaving too. This was her chance. She ran to catch up, calling after him with bated breath;
He stopped and turned to look at her. A slight smile adorned his usually sedimentary face. It only seemed to happen in her presence.
“Good evening Miss Freeman. How are you? You seemed a little distracted this morning?”
“I’m fine thank you” she replied hurriedly, trying to catch her breath.
“Are you leaving?” she continued.
“Yes. I’m heading home”
They both stood in silence
“Is there something I can assist you with?”
Anna seemed hesitant at first. But eventually found her courage.
“I heard what you did”
He knew what she meant, but he said nothing. He seemed almost shy at the thought of it.
“Thank you…But why did you?” She asked curiously.
He looked at her with great sincerity.
“It needed to be done”.
It was a reply that didn’t help to clarify much for her. What needed to be done? And even if something did need to be done, why did he feel he should do it?
“You don’t understand…Barnaby is a dangerous man. He doesn’t like losing face”.
“All men are dangerous. He’s nothing more than a boy”.
He obviously didn’t like Barnaby, and Barnaby had given him every reason not to. But it still didn’t explain why he would put himself on the line to defend a student he barely knew.
“You don’t need to protect me”.
It was all she could think to say, and she didn’t mean it the way it came out. The more she looked at him. The more she considered the situation, the more she realised that she didn’t care why. It made her feel good that someone had fought for her honour, and for some reason, it made her feel especially good that it was him that had done so. And it appeared to have worked. Barnaby had not bothered her.
“I meant no disrespect”.
He looked worried, and it made her feel a little guilty. She offered him a grateful smile.
“It was sweet of you. But I still don’t quite understand?”
“I saw an injustice. A wrong being done to a good person. Where I’m from, you don’t let those things be. The war is what happens when you ignore such things. Still, it may not have been the wisest move? And I apologise if I over-stepped the mark. To be honest, I don’t know what came over me.”
He was as honourable as he seemed. His reasoning was intense but accurate. The war had affected millions around the world, in one way or another, and using it as a comparison to her situation with Barnaby at first seemed excessive, but when she considered the context a little more, he was right, sometimes it only took one persons bad actions and indifference, and the ignorance of another to set in motion events that had the potential to affect many more. She thought about the embassy fire and whether she could have done more to prevent it?
This man inspired her as much as he confused and humbled her.
“Well. When you put it that way… Maybe you could let me buy you some dinner? That’s if you have no other plans? It’s the least I can do”.
She wanted to show her appreciation. He knew he couldn’t resist such a kind gesture. He would have abandoned any plans for her. And he knew it would make her feel better.
“How about Marco’s?” He suggested.
It was an inexpensive choice; he really didn’t want her having to spend a lot of money out of a gesture of gratitude, and it happened to be close to the university. He also genuinely enjoyed the food there and thought she would too. She had heard of the place, but had never been. It was far too ‘ethnic’ for the likes of Barnaby’s narrow mind.