A Friend In Need

Continued from ‘The Morning After‘…

“Head Porter is a man some of The Fellowship are keen not to upset,” says Professor K.

“Oh really?”

“Really. But do not let it trouble you. I am an old man now, and no longer hold much sway at Old College. But there are those that are firm supporters of you. Powerful people.”

This comes as something of a shock. It had never occurred to me that I would have come to the attention of anyone in The Fellowship, one way or the other. I hadn’t realised they had been paying that much attention. My natural inclination is to ask who these people are, but Professor K carries on talking so I drink my tea and listen.

“I have been here a long time now and seen many things. Some of those things I wish I hadn’t seen but I didn’t have much choice. Sometimes, a man cannot be proud of everything he has done but he cannot ignore it, either. It would be… such an injustice

I rather fear Professor K is going off at a rather odd tangent. His eyes are distant and I get the feeling he is speaking to someone else, unseen. He is an elderly man, who did not sleep much last night, it is possible he just needs a bit of a rest.

“Are you alright, Professor?” I ask gently. “Maybe you should get some rest. I can arrange for Chef to keep a breakfast back for you if you sleep over breakfast.”

The Professor hears my words but still seems to be in another place.

“Sleep! Ah, yes…” He speech is becoming slurred now and the colour has drained from his cheeks. I’m no doctor, but I can see he isn’t well. I pull out my mobile and dial Nurse’s number. It is ringing. Professor K mumbles incoherently and I hold his hand and make soothing noises.

“Good morning, Nurse’s Office” the clipped Scottish tones of Nurse twitter in my ear.

“Nurse, it’s me. I’m with Professor K in his rooms, he seems quite unwell”

“I’m on my way!” The phone in replaced sharply and I know that Nurse will be here in no time. I turn my attentions back to the worryingly pale Professor.

“Professor! My dear friend, Nurse is on her way. You are going to be fine”

“Just a little sleep, my dear,” a moment of lucidity “Peacefully in their sleep… didn’t I tell you?” I think he is referring to our last conversation.

“That’s right, Professor. You did tell me” why I say what I say next, I’m not really sure “Is this something else my thirst for knowledge should be applied to?” The faintest of twinkles in the eyes.

“A thirst for knowledge is a wonderful thing,” the Professor’s voice is as dry as bones “Remember that. And this – not all sleep is as peaceful as it seems!”

Nurse bursts through the door with a bag of equipment almost as big as she is. With concern etched on her face, she politely but firmly pushes me to one side to examine the Professor.

“You’d better call an ambulance, just in case” she says under her breath. As she attends to my new best friend, I give her some space and dial 999. I then call down to The Porters’ Lodge to let them know what is happening. Arrangements in place, I nervously turn back to Nurse and Professor K. Nurse has him lying on the sofa with his legs propped up on the arms. His colour looks a little better but he is very quiet.

“Is he going to be alright?” I whisper to Nurse.

“Och, he should be fine,” she replies. Big, big sigh of relief “I’m sure it’s just a temporary drop in blood pressure but he’s as well to go to hospital for a proper check over anyway. You can’t be too careful.”

“Thank God,” I say. “He did say he didn’t sleep well last night.”

“Has he had anything to eat, do you know?”

“I don’t think so, he was waiting for the Dining Room to open when I came across him by the bridge.”

“That’s probably it, then” Nurse nods confidently and I am instantly put at ease. “The hospital will give him some fluids and no doubt he will be back on his feet in no time.”

I check with Nurse before I finish for the day and, indeed, Professor K has made a full recovery and is expected to be released from hospital first thing in the morning. I make a note to ensure I collect the finest breakfast Chef can possibly muster and deliver it to the Professor’s rooms upon his return. The perfect welcome back, I feel!


  1. I, too, have become fond of Professor K. I was actually worried as I read. Was he about to become one of the ghosts, I mused. I was relieved to hear that all is well, but poison? That never crossed my mind until I saw Professor VJ Duke’s comment. Oh my! Can we really trust Head Porter?

    1. I do love Professor K – one of the more human academics. Aha and now you see how intrigue and mistrust walk the cloisters and courtyards! College life is not quite what it seems and there are darker undertones in every corner… 😉

    2. Well, Ms. PG, you must surely keep your back to the wall and your eyes on the alert — and stay just sober enough to defend yourself, if necessary (but no more – methinks you will need libations to take the edge off what is to come!)

    3. A girl needs to keep her wits (and hat!) about her in this place! A small drop of something for medicinal purposes is indeed highly recommended.

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