Chapter 3 Saturday
On a standard issue, typical fall Ithaca Saturday, Rom generally evaded the cold drizzle by staying inside and messing with his computer. But in view of Chaba's warning, he thought it better to avoid the temptation. Instead, he went to the football game. He cheered Cornell, booed Princeton, and had a good time. For once, he felt actually like a part of the university, and not merely a member of a furtive sub-culture. Maybe Chaba was right in having him spend more time away from his computer.
After the game, Rom went to his lab at the Veterinary Research tower to pick up a few items for his zoo trip.
When he got there, he noticed, on the table right where he left it, the vial of Lycanthrozine he'd packed for Professor Eotvos.
Jeez. Is it part of the job description that professors have to be absent minded? He probably won't even think of it until he's on the plane to Budapest.
Rom picked up the vial, intending to run it over to Professor Eotvos's house. Then he had a better idea. No. I don't have to do that. I'll just give it to Kit at scouts.
Rom walked into the scout meeting in the school gym, looked at the assembled kids, and felt fear. As Assistant Cubmaster to Tea Biscuit, he'd been free to enjoy the give and take of the meetings, but now the Cubs were his responsibility.
Rom gathered the boys to order.
"OK guys, settle down. Biscuit's not here because he's been called home to France. He'll be away for the rest of the year. So Chaba's appointed me Cubmaster."
The Cubs cheered, and Rom felt himself blush. He was surprised that his scouts didn't seem particularly upset that Tea Biscuit was gone. Thomas Bisclavret was a good sort, but then again, his French accent was hard to understand, and he was rather traditional with the kids.
Rom held up his hand in the scout sign, a request for quiet, and announced the arrangements for the trip.
" Tomorrow at 10AM, assemble at the chapter house with your packs. We'll toss them into the van and then it's off to New York City..."
Despite the fact that the Cub were in formation and should have been quietly listening, the boys chattered excitedly. Rom realized that keeping the troop in order might require skills he didn't have.
Rom had to shout over the din. "...And we have reservations at an unsuspecting motel just outside the city. We'll be able to spend all of Monday the Zoo. Questions?"
Kit, the boy leader of the pack, asked, "Will we see wolves?"
The pack quieted, waiting on the answer.
"I think so."
"Will they know us?" said Kit.
"Yeah. It'll be fun--playing with the wolves, invariant."
"Can we actually play with them?"
"I wish. But I'm afraid we'll have to stay on the outside of their zoo habitat."
"Aw. That's not fair."
"Do we bring our uniforms?" asked Paul, a new boy in the pack.
"Yes. Definitely. Wear them at the zoo. We'll get a reduced admission and I've noticed you guys get into far less trouble when you're wearing your scout uniforms."
Rom pointed for Kit to come to the front. "If you have any more questions,"--Rom took Kit by the shoulders, and spun him around, facing the pack.--"ask Cat. And other than that, you can play frisbee for the rest of the meeting."
Almost everyone, Rom included, called Kit by his nickname, 'Cat'.
Rom walked away, leaving the pack to Kit. From the gym office, he watched and had to admit that Kit knew how to lead. Rom hoped he could learn how Kit did it.
When the parents came to take the boys home, Rom called Kit over.
"This week, Paul's dad's driving you home. Yes?"
Rom took the vial of Lycanthrozine from his shirt pocket. "Cat, give this to your dad. He accidentally left it at the lab."
"Sure." Kit slipped the little vial in the back pocket of his pants.
Kit, looking around at the other kids, seemed anxious to go back to the general horseplay.
"Remember to give it to him," said Rom, putting a hand on Kit's head, and swiveling his face forward. "It's important."
Rom went home to pack, and sewed the Cubmaster patch on his scout shirt. And he realized that he'd have to come up with some way to keep his scouts from walking all over him. Rom began to understand why Chaba smiled when he asked if his appointment to Cubmaster was a punishment.