Organ Scholar looks like a man on his way to the gallows as he approaches his lectern and picks up his baton. The weight of the world upon his shoulders, he lifts his hands and we wait expectantly to sample the harmonic delights of quite possibly the most beautiful Choir in The City.
I wished we could have waited somewhat longer.
The noise that comes forth is very difficult to describe and the best I can do is to compare it to the sound Terry makes when the vet takes his temperature. Professor Duke winces visibly and The Dean claps his hands over his ears, aghast. I am struggling to make sense of what my ears are telling me.
“What key do you suppose that is they’re singing?” I ask, turning to the Professor. His eyebrows knot together in concentration.
“I fear they’ve invented a brand new one,” he says. “Which is rather creative, but rash. I’d say that was an H Flat. But they look better than an H flat, for sure.”
The Dean snorts.
“They look damned ridiculous,” he says shaking his head. “Stood there, grinning like morons, making a sound even my bowels would be ashamed of. What kind of fresh hell is this?!”
“The Master’s Wife seems quite happy with it,” I say. She watches on, enraptured by something obviously inaudible to the rest of us, beaming proudly. She seems completely lost in the performance, her eyes moist with emotion and her foot tapping woefully out of time. The Dean laughs unapologetically.
“The woman must be tone bloody deaf!”
“She must be a bit deaf, now that you mention it,” says the Professor, fidgeting with his hat. “I might have to cut my ears off if we don’t scram.”
“Quite right!” nods The Dean. “Come on, let’s bugger off.”
“I feel a bit bad about Organ Scholar,” I say. “Shouldn’t we try and… save him or something?”
Professor Duke places his hand solemnly on my shoulder.
“There’s naught we can do for the fellow. We must save my ears first.”
The three of us nip smartly out of the Chapel during a particularly distracting chorus and make it back to the Porters’ Lodge unseen. Quite how The Master’s Wife will feel about Professor Duke abandoning their date so readily is hardly worth thinking about, but we decide that some suitable excuse can surely be conjured up with the benefit of a little thinking time.
“I shall tell her that I found the whole thing so overwhelming that I had to leave immediately,” muses the Professor, swigging merrily from a large mug of finest Earl Grey. “I didn’t want her to see me weep with amazement, see. Because I don’t weep, of course. And the funny thing is, if I’d have stayed much longer, I would have weeped! And weeped bad.”
“No, no, no – that’s precisely the last thing I want you to say to her,” barks The Dean. “If you tell her that, the bloody woman will only be encouraged. No. We must put a stop to this and you, my friend, are the fellow to do it. She will listen to you.”
“But…but…but…dadblameit!” the Professor retorts. “The woman is clearly deaf, insane and she speaks weird. But I can’t speak to her, see, she’s deaf—she can’t listen.”
“Then you must make her listen!” The Dean sighs and begins to pace. “This little vanity project of hers is going to make us the laughing stock of The City. I mean, who ever heard of a Choir that couldn’t sing?”
“Listen,” I say. “Right now I have no idea how we can possibly get through to her. But maybe we can get through to the Choir? I mean – they must have some idea how dreadful they are.”
“This is such a ghastly business, overall,” says the Professor. “And let’s worry more about finding the old choir. Yes, that’s an idea.”
The door to the Porters’ Lodge slams.
Standing before us is Head Porter wearing a bewildered expression and what looks like half a spaghetti bolognaise.
“First things first,” I say “We find out what’s happened to Head Porter.”