Indiana Jones and the Sword of St. George
The class was over, but the students still refused to leave. Instead, they crowded around their tall, handsome teacher, whining and asking why their term papers hadn't been returned as promised. The teacher looked around him at the mass of students and hurriedly packed up his briefcase, shoving the not fully graded papers inside. He straightened his glasses and brushed back his hair.
"Come on, come on, let me out of here," Dr. Henry "Indiana" Jones, Jr. yelled, pushing his students back. "I didn't have time. They aren't finished. I'm not going to return any papers. I'll finish them tonight."
"But why didn't you grade my paper, Dr. Jones? You promised you'd have them graded by today," a boy whined, refusing to move until Dr. Jones returned his paper to him.
"And what about my paper?" another student inquired, tugging at his briefcase.
"I'm warning you guys," Dr. Jones responded angrily. "I'm sorry I did not have time to fully grade your papers. But if you don't leave quietly, you'll regret it." The students laughed, still surrounding him and tugging at his briefcase. Jones reached over, grabbing a rope that lay on his desk. He abruptly sent it flying through the air, making a cracking sound not unlike that of his familiar whip. The students gasped and ran back immediately, thinking their teacher had gone totally berserk and was going to whip them. But Dr. Jones simply coiled the rope back up and hung it on the side of his desk, calling out to the students that he would grade all the other papers that night. By the time he looked up, however, all the students were gone save one.
Quietly standing in the corner, Lauren Russell observed her teacher as he packed everything away. She wanted to say something, but she was too scared to ask. She smoothed her disheveled brown hair back, gazing admiringly at Dr. Jones. He was so intelligent, and he knew so very much about archeology. It was so rude of her companions to bother him the way they did - she felt ashamed for them, wondering how Dr. Jones tolerated their behavior at all. She wouldn't deny that she was curious about her grade on the term paper, which she had worked very hard on. Actually, however, she only wanted to talk to her teacher about a very interesting book she had been reading.
Jones tried to straighten out the term papers - they had gotten wrinkled in his struggle to escape the students - and placed them back in his briefcase. He didn't blame the kids, to a point. He was not the most punctual of teachers in returning work, but it hadn't been his fault that the day before he'd been in Malaysia being chased by a collection of wild animals and angry natives. He sat back down in his chair, exhausted. How long had it been since he'd slept? Two days? Three days? Oh the term papers could wait just five minutes, he convinced himself. That was all he needed, five minutes. After that, he could stay up the entire night grading the stupid things. He slouched down in his chair, groaning slightly. Finally. Just as he was falling asleep, a timid voice called him.
"Dr. Jones? Dr. Jones?" Lauren asked timidly, having watched him practically collapse onto his chair. "Are you all right?" Jones looked up groggily. Another student. Didn't they ever know to leave him alone? "Oh, I'm so sorry," Lauren continued, realizing he had simply fallen asleep.
"That's all right," he responded, seeing it was only Lauren. She was the most harmless of the lot, very polite, and quite intelligent too. He had actually gotten to read her paper, and he'd been very impressed by it. "Whaddya want?" he asked, rubbing his eyes in a futile attempt to wake up.
"Oh nothing really. I was just going to ask you about…well you look exhausted. Are you sure you're all right? I'd better leave," Lauren stammered. She didn't want to be a nuisance.
"Don't worry about it. I'm just tired. I haven't slept in three days, I think," he responded wearily, getting up slowly. "Which is why I didn't grade all the papers. But I did grade yours, if that's what you want to know. I was very, very impressed. I think I gave you a 98, but it might have been a 99. I can't remember, let me see," he continued, flipping through the papers to find hers. "Here it is, 98, as I said. Take it, but don't tell anybody. All right?"
"Oh no. That wasn't what I wanted to ask you. But thank you, thank you very much!" Lauren blushed, her eyes beaming proudly. He thought well of me, she thought joyfully. He liked my paper! I knew he would! "Do you want me to ask you tomorrow instead, so you can go home and rest. Where did you go yesterday?" Lauren continued, curiosity getting the better of her. He was prone to leaving abruptly, causing a big hassle as the university attempted to get a substitute for him. His absences were never really explained, and even though the class assumed they were simply sick days or short trips, there were rumors to the contrary. Rumors, mainly spread by the son of Marcus Brody, the head of the local museum, that the normally mild-mannered teacher went on trips to find lost archeological treasures! Lauren didn't believe the rumors, for rumors were rarely true and besides, Dr. Jones was a respected archeology professor. He even stressed the importance of scientific methods and insisted that archeology was not a search for buried treasures. She couldn't imagine him out in the jungle anyway. He could be pretty absent-minded - he would probably get lost or something, or what if he ran into trouble?
"What was that?" he replied after a pause. "Sorry, what did you say?"
"Just that, well, I actually wanted to ask you about something I read. But thank you for the paper, anyhow. Would you prefer if I came back tomorrow?"
"A question. I see, go ahead. I'm going down to my office, and then to my car. You can come along, if you want, and we'll talk. I hope I wasn't too rough on the class just a minute ago, though? Do you think I was?" Dr. Jones asked as they walked out towards his office together.
"No, no, not really. I'm sorry about that, for them. They shouldn't do that to you." Lauren was still very curious about where he had gone. What if the rumors had something in them after all? That would be so exciting. The questions she could ask him! He'd have real life experience of what ancient civilizations were all about. How fascinating! It wasn't likely, though. He had probably been out sick. He sure looked it. If only she could ask him without being too nosy. Instead she simply asked about the book, and they had a lively conversation about recent finds in China together on the way to his car. It was bitterly cold out, and they both shivered as they walked together.
"Anyhow, the recent finds in China, and in Malaysia," Jones added, a smile creeping into his face as he remembered how hard he'd worked to get one particular artifact from that region, "have done much to prove that Zheng He's voyages had a substantial impact on the subsequent development of the culture in the surrounding regions. By asking for tribute and trading with other civilizations, the Chinese had a great influence, especially in the early fifteenth century when He's voyages were going on."
"It's a shame the Chinese government later burned all his records, isn't it? Their policy of isolationism really hurt them later on," Lauren said excitedly. She loved discussing things with Dr. Jones. He knew everything, and he had such enthusiasm for the topic. She wanted to be an archeologist herself, and she was aware of how lucky she was to have a teacher like Dr. Jones, regardless of all his unexplained absences.
"Right on. That is a shame. But there is still some hope that, well, not all of the records could have been destroyed, because it is recorded in another document from the time that he carefully hid some of them. Just some. It's not really known why he did that, or where they are," Dr. Jones continued, childlike excitement coming into his eyes as he explained further. "It is really cold out, isn't it," he stopped to say, when they finally reached the parking lot. Lauren looked about the lot for her roommate's old car, as she was supposed to be waiting for her there. Oh no! She'd left - I took too long - Lauren realized, stamping her foot in frustration. It was freezing out, and she didn't much fancy walking all the long, long way to her apartment. "What's the matter?" Dr. Jones asked her, noting her distress.
"Oh, it's nothing…well," Lauren began. Dare she ask him for a ride? She really, really had to get home and get her work done. But asking a teacher for a ride? "It's just that my roommate, who was supposed to give me a ride to our apartment, left without me."
"I'm sorry," Dr. Jones responded. He would offer her a ride, but he was truly exhausted, and the last thing he wanted to do was take an unnecessary detour. Besides, he wanted to get the artifact in his car out of his suitcase before anything could happen to it. Still, if she really did need a ride, he thought, he would take her. Lauren shivered and summed up her courage. She didn't want to impose, but she had to ask him, as she had no other choice besides an hours' walk in the cold.
"Uhh…I'm so sorry to have to ask…but could you, maybe, if you can, that is, possibly give me a ride home? It's just that I live an hours' walk from here and need to go home and study," she stammered at last.
"No problem. Only, I have to drop off something at my house first. Where do you live?" Lauren gave him directions, and he nodded. "It's on the way. Is that all right?"
"Fine, thank you, Dr. Jones." Lauren smiled gratefully in response, and they walked towards Dr. Jones' beat up beige car. He opened the door for her, and she climbed into the back seat, which was partially occupied by suitcases, papers, and bizarre unidentifiable objects. Suitcases, Lauren noted. Hmm…
"Sorry about the mess back there," Jones said apologetically, turning the car on and putting the heat on full blast. "I'm freezing, good thing for this heat," he continued, thinking about how the day before he'd been fighting his way through a blazing hot jungle. He drove quickly back to his house, yawning and trying not to fall asleep in the warm car. In five minutes they were at his house. His lawn looked like it hadn't been cut in a while, and the small house was surrounded by an aura of general disrepair. Dr. Jones hopped out of the warm car, shivering at the sudden cold. "Just wait right there," he explained to Lauren, taking a suitcase cautiously out of the trunk, "I'll be back in one second."
Lauren watched as he dragged the heavy suitcase into his house, and then turned around to once again study her surroundings. Dr. Jones certainly was interesting, and eccentric, she thought wryly. Suddenly a sharp siren pulled her out of her musings. Turning abruptly, she found that a police car had pulled up beside Dr. Jones'. Oh no. What would she do? The officer, a chubby man with a friendly, round countenance, approached her with a clipboard.
"Hi there. You know, it's against the law to park there. You'll have to move."
"Well…um…sorry, sir," Lauren began timidly, "but this isn't my car. It's my professor's. He's giving me a ride home, and he just stopped to drop off something," she explained hurriedly.
"Is that so? Where is he?" the policeman inquired.
"In his house, I told you."
"Run in and get him to move the car." Lauren reluctantly got out of the car and walked towards Dr. Jones' house. She walked in quietly, as the door wasn't locked.
"Umm…Dr. Jones? There's a policeman outside who says you are illegally parked," she explained, watching as Dr. Jones hurriedly went through one of the suitcases he had brought in.
"Sorry, just a minute. I need to make sure about something, and then we'll go. Where is it? Where is it?" he mumbled under his breath, throwing clothing every which way. Lauren sat down on the floor on the one place that wasn't already covered with clothing or other items, and waited anxiously for her professor. The policeman was probably getting pretty aggravated, but what could she do?
Lauren watched as some interesting items flew out of his suitcase. A whip? A gun? Was it true? Her professor, the quiet, bookish man she knew as Dr. Jones, was really an adventurer! How exciting! Just like something in the movies! Nothing exciting ever happened to her, not in the least. Now she was lucky enough to know a real obtainer of ancient artifacts, someone who traveled all over the world to find precious relics, just as Marcus Brody's son had said. Wow! She needed more proof, though. Lots of people carried guns with them, and whips, well, maybe it was just a souvenir. But she remembered how he'd handled the rope in class to get people out of the room. Who knew? His house was filled with interesting artifacts, and papers were scattered everywhere. Clothing was on the floor as well, and everything was disorderly and chaotic. Being a very orderly and neat person, Lauren found it puzzling that anyone could tolerate such a mess in their house. She was about to pick an artifact up from the floor when Dr. Jones jumped up to stop her.
"Don't touch! That's for an exhibit for the museum. It was very difficult to acquire those pieces. Just be careful, please!" He didn't like yelling at the girl, she was timid enough as it was. Those piece were priceless, though, so rare and so beautiful.
"I'm sorry." Lauren put the piece down with infinite care and sat back down on the floor. "But, maybe, you should go talk to the policeman, you know, who is waiting outside," she continued nervously.
"One second, one second," he mumbled, still searching frantically. "Here it is!" he finally exclaimed after having thrown the entire contents of the suitcase he was looking through around the room. "Oh here it is!" He carefully pulled a small painted stone statue out of his bag and set it next to the others on the table. "The exhibit is complete. Come here, Lauren, look at this." Lauren quickly moved over and sat down next to him, and they gazed at the little statue together. "A challenge. I'll be very impressed if you can place where this one came from. In the meantime I'll just try and clean up some of this horrible mess and then I'll drop you off. Sorry about the wait. I had to make sure about the artifact," he continued, sighing in relief and beginning to clean up some of the mess he had created. The exhibit on fifteenth century Malaysia and China was finally complete, Jones thought, grinning. He could finally get some much-deserved rest, if only it wasn't for the term papers. He leaned over the sofa, feeling incredibly tired, and, try as he might his eyes closed. Lauren would see him sleeping and walk home. Poor kid, she'll have to go home in the cold. Oh well. I couldn't get up if I tried, he thought before slipping into sleep.
Lauren, who'd been distracted into totally forgetting about the waiting policeman, carefully studied the artifact, puzzled by it. She could get it, though, she knew. It was just a matter of studying the technique of the painting carefully enough. It wasn't Chinese, but it was similar. Maybe fifteenth century? Or could it be later…she wasn't quite sure.