The Dean’s face is a picture as he attempts to grapple the miasma of rising emotions under some kind of control. Having just this moment delivered a defining oration on the absolutes of keeping out of trouble, the Organ Scholar’s announcement of unsavoury goings-on has nonetheless tweaked his natural inclination for an exploit.
Head Porter has suddenly found something incredibly interesting to inspect on the highly polished toe of his shoe. He seems to me to be a man very much intent of staying out of things. Professor Duke, however, is evidently keen to jump right in. He is the first to speak.
“Niceness!! What’s going on, my man?”
“There’s something not right going on over at the Chapel,” Organ Scholar replies quickly, licking his lips. “For a start, I haven’t seen the Music Professor for nearly three weeks. I’ve been running the Choir completely on my own and not one of The Fellowship have said anything about it. I tried talking to Senior Tutor but he was very vague about the whole thing.”
“Well! This is something of a revelation,” exclaims The Dean. “I didn’t even know we had a Music Professor.”
“I wonder where he’s gone?” asks Professor Duke.
“No one has a clue!” Organ Scholar replies.
“I can’t see it is so much of a problem,” sniffs The Dean. “If I didn’t notice him before, I can’t say that I shall miss the chap. But if he turns up again do let me know – I want to get a good look at the bugger.”
I cannot say that I know the Music Professor at all, but I would come across him occasionally. He isn’t a talkative chap and seems to be in a perpetual state of apprehension, for some reason. Mind you, Old College can play havoc with the nerves of a sensitive sort.
“Do you not think we should maybe… try to find him?” I venture. “Just to make sure he is alright, you know.”
There is barely time to draw a breath before The Dean launches himself to within a whisker of my face.
“Deputy Head Porter! Are you being deliberately obtuse or are my explicit instructions as naught but frivalities to you?! I refer you to my previous declaration.”
When The Dean gets poetic, you know you have to take him seriously.
“But we have to get him back!” Organ Scholar pleads. “You don’t understand. The Choir is all over the place since she dismissed all our best singers and we have the University Choir Competition only weeks away!”
“Who do you mean – she?” I know that asking questions will only infuriate The Dean further, but I really cannot help myself. Organ Scholar turns to me, eyes like saucers.
“The Master’s Wife, of course!”
The Master’s Wife. I’ll be honest, I thought she was something of a fallacy devised by College for some as yet unrevealed purpose. I have never seen her at Old College, but only heard tales of her endless travels and highbrow expeditions to the finest cultural destinations on the globe. But now it would appear that she has pitched up at The Master’s Lodge and taken it upon herself to start interfering with the Choir. But why?
The urge to find out more is immediate but it will just have to wait. Approaching the Porters’ Lodge is a petite figure, sashaying across the courtyard like a peroxide snake and with quite the sense of purpose in her step. The Dean expels a chain of words that I have not heard before but am fairly sure are very rude.
“Here she comes now,” he says. “Well. I never.”