The view was lovely, and the sunset was one of the most beautiful she’d seen in years. She was lost in thought when something butted against her leg, and a voice said “mehehe, mehehe”. Turning, she saw her pet goat King William, a nine year old Boer buck. He “mehehed” again, looking up at her. He seemed to sense that she was leaving. “Hi, William,” Melisa said, reaching down to scratch his head. “I’ll miss you, you big baby.” She bent and hugged him.
His mother had rejected him when he was born early and very small. Eleven year old Melisa begged her father to let her look after the orphan, to give him a chance at life. Dad agreed, with the understanding the she would give it everything she could, and not neglect him in favour of playing. She promised, and Dad got her everything she would need, and wished her luck.
It had been very hard, at first, as she had to feed him every hour, day and night. But she was determined, and he was a fighter, and lived. He thrived under her care, so she named him King William, after William the Conqueror, who invaded England and conquered. When he was strong enough to walk, he followed he like a puppy. By the time he was a year old, he went everywhere with her except school. When she got on the school bus in the morning, he was here to see her off, and there to greet her when she got off the bus in the afternoon. She really would miss him, even though she’d not had to care for him for years. She did brush him regularly, but otherwise, he lived with the rest of the herd. He was a conqueror there, too.
Still stroking his head, she turned back to the view. The sunset was fading, and she turned slowly, seeing the barn and outbuildings, and farther away, the house, with lights blinking on. She sighed. “William, it’s getting dark and they’ll be waiting dinner for me.” She dropped to her knees and hugged him, burying her face in his back. “Be good, Willy, I’ll be back in about six weeks.” For a long moment she knelt, blotting her tears in his soft hair. This would be a very big change for her; she’d never been away from home for more than a week at Girl Guide camp. William turned his head and nuzzled at her shoulder, comforting her the way he always had.
Sighing again, she stood, wiping her tears. Looking back, she said “goodbye, Scarecrow, I’ll come and see you when I get home again” Looking up at the western sky, she saw faint Mercury and bright Venus, the ‘evening star’. Turning again to the east and home, she saw the first stars appearing. She wouldn’t see much of the stars, either, when she was in Toronto, with all its lights. Again, she sighed.
The next day her parents packed all her luggage in the back of the van, and they all climbed in. “Lisa, I’m going to miss you!” her brother Greydon said. “With you gone, who will I pester tease?” He looked at her, grinning.
“I can’t believe I’m saying this, nuisance, but I’ll miss you, too. Please, look after King William. I know he’ll miss me.”
“Sure thing, sis. I’ll see that he’s brushed and everything, just like you do. He and I have become friends, so don’t worry.”
The drive to Toronto took three hours, and they were all tired when they got there. They had just pulled up to look for the dorm where she would be living, when a group of young people came over.
“Hi,” a boy of about twenty said. “Welcome to St. Michael’s College. We are here to help new students move into their new home, and help them get oriented. I’m Tom Tucker.” He opened the door for Melisa’s mother and helped her out. Others had gathered at the back of the van to help her Dad and Greydon start unloading.
“Melisa Granville, right? Ok, you’re in Alumni Hall, just up at the corner. “He turned to the welcoming party, “Ok, gang, let’s get moving!”
An hour later, Melisa’s things were all moved in, and with the help of the three girls in the group, it was all stored and arranged. She was amazed at how quickly it had all been done, and thanked them for making it all so easy.
“You’re welcome, Melisa.” Anne said. “Here’s a map of the University, and on the back, one of St. Mike’s campus. If your folks have the time, why not do a tour? And we’ve added some of the closest restaurants, so you can have a snack before they have to leave. I’m in the room right above yours, in case you need help. Welcome to St. Mike’s!” She smiled and they all left, to help another newcomer.