Now, as much as I would dearly love to see The Master’s Wife put firmly in her place by Headmistress, I fear she may be put there rather too firmly and even the students do not routinely brawl in College grounds. Something must be done.
The atmosphere is but butter to a knife as the stand-off between Head Porter’s admirers intensifies. The Master’s Wife dabs daintily at her bloodied nose with one of the sheer scarves that could laughingly be called her outfit. I am an open-minded woman but even I cannot accept that two scarves suffice as attire for a public event. She was pushing it at three, quite frankly.
“You stupid woman,” wails The Master’s Wife “Have you any idea how much this nose cost?!”
“Listen, I think we all need to calm down a bit,” I say, stepping between the bellicose pair. The Dean leans over to whisper in my ear.
“Actually, Deputy Head Porter, maybe we should let this one play out,” he murmurs. “Headmistress has got a cracking right hook. This might be interesting.”
“Check this out,” Professor Duke steps in, brandishing three large glasses filled with something very unlikely looking. “Let’s all have a drink to calm the nerves. And if you all still feel like rioting after this, then I’ll join in. Just because.”
“Great idea!” The Dean claps his hands and reaches for one of the glasses, draining the contents with great enthusiasm.
The Professor forces the remaining glasses into the hands of the warring women and smiles encouragingly.
“You won’t regret this, I’m sure. This Professor’s favorite drink, it is.”
Headmistress snatches up her drink and downs it in one. Head Porter glances at her, somewhat impressed. He has been notably reticent in these current events which – considering they revolve entirely around him – seems like very poor form to me. But it is plain to see that the wretched fellow is absolutely terrified and I cannot say I blame him, especially given the bone-crunching prowess of his lady love.
The violent proceedings are momentarily adjourned whilst the protagonists imbibe but I cannot help but worry about what might happen next. Emboldened by alcohol, surely matters can only get worse. Probably fairly quickly, in my experience. I turn to the Professor.
“Now what?” I ask.
“Oh, it gets great from here.”
I am unconvinced but within a second or two, things have taken a rather unexpected turn. And when I say things, I mean The Dean, Headmistress and The Master’s Wife. The latter hits the floor first, no doubt already diminished by her battered nose. Headmistress is the next to succumb but falls rather elegantly into the arms of Head Porter, who crumples gently with her to the floor. All eyes are now on The Dean.
“What in buggery is going on?!” he fumes, looking about himself, increasingly confused. “It looks like…” he begins to splutter and grasps at his throat. “Bugger! Poisoned..! By crikey..!”
“Poisoned by me, actually” the Professor replies. “But the effect is much the same.”
The Dean at last capitulates to the effects of the Professor’s drink and falls onto the rug like an angry sack of potatoes. Only Professor Duke, Organ Scholar, Head Porter and myself remain upright.
“Now… what the bloody hell just happened there?” Organ Scholar looks at his own drink warily.
“Well, here’s the thing,” replies the Professor, admiring his handiwork with a contented grin. “I only wanted to poison Mr. Dean, because he had to get out of the way and such. But then the ladies started fighting and I thought, ‘Why not poison them, too?’ It was great fun, and we have things to do.”
“I admire your dedication to the cause, Professor,” I say, experimentally prodding the prone Dean with my foot. “But what are we going to do with these chaps?”
“Let’s lock them up here in my rooms. They’ll be out for a bit, bits, and little bits yet.” The Professor’s reply does little to reassure me.
Well, the witching hour is long since passed and we have three unconscious persons scattered about Professor Duke’s floor, one of whom is bleeding messily from the nose. Somehow I feel this does not bode well for what is yet to come, but hey ho. In for a penny, and all that.