I shall begin with Thomas Bardwell.
He was a great friend of mine, this Thomas Bardwell.
I met him during my second year at Kings College in London. He was hurrying along a low stone wall covered in ivy. He was also covered in ivy.
It was rather odd, naturally, so I stopped for a moment (you see I was on my way back to my own dorm, as it happened so I was in no rush to be anywhere by any particular time and thus could afford to loiter about for a moment or two to observe the occurrences in the college, always a peculiar thing or two going on, I can assure you) and stuffed my hands in my pockets. It was then that he noticed me, and to my surprise, he beckoned to me to follow him, and started walking even faster than before. I followed him with interest.
Thomas Bardwell was infamous at the university. Everybody who was anybody knew about him. He was well established and was known to have a vast fortune waiting for him the minute his father topped it, so to speak. It wasn’t all very fascinating to somebody such as I, who plodded through life coming across so many advantaged folk that they slid right off the count of my ten forlorn fingers. He was a tall lad, and so this cut a very fine figure among the ladies, as one could very well imagine. He was not very handsome, not more than most, however he held himself in such a fashion that people found themselves coerced, subconsciously, to submit their respect and reverence to him. It was astonishing, really. I pride myself on being the sort of fellow who has a keen eye for traits and personalities, and I am exorbitantly stubborn. I will not respect a man based on how he holds himself and yet, whenever I happen to come across Mr Bardwell I find myself tipping my hat at him and nodding, as though he were royalty, or some high duke.
He was neither of those things, however. He was born to an affluent family who, it was disdainfully rumoured, had made their money solely through trade (as though that were something to frown upon). His father had retired at the ripe age of fifty three with enough funds to allow his four children to live comfortably for the rest of their days.
I met Thomas on the day, as it happens, that he met with his fate. Neither of us knew that he was to meet with his fate, of course. One never knows when one is about to meet their fate. There is no premonition, no deep breath, no warning sign, as it were. He was, as I mentioned previously, covered in ivy. People turned to stare as he dashed past them, trails of ivy sailing behind his shock of chestnut hair. He scattered dark green leaves as he ran, and I found myself following suit, our polished shoes clacking on the cobbles.
He swerved into an alleyway and I swerved also at the last minute, scraping my shoulder against the sharp corner of the stone wall. I clutched at the area of sharp pain, but Thomas was getting further and further away so I swallowed my pain and sped on after him. Something inside me told me not to call out to him, I am not sure why.