Our students are a lively lot, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. They get up to all kinds of things. Things like smoking behind the bicycle stands, trying to get into pubs that they are too young for, the boys and girls trying to get into each other’s dorms unobserved to pursue True Love or practical Biology, perennial smuggling of an impressive variety of clandestine substances. alcohol being among the least interesting among them. All these take up a large amount of their time which they could otherwise have spent preparing for their exams. Keeping them off these vile misdeeds and on their study subjects is a labour that would make Sisyphus himself despair. However, our students have an Achilles’ heel. Simply put, vanity. Being suitably impressed with their own cleverness, they simply cannot resist bragging about their exploits to our University’s Students’ Newsletter. Many a plan has been foiled as a result of the details being made public.
One of the girls, named Linda Davenport, is studying to become a newspaper reporter. For practice and for extra study points, she has founded the Student’s newspaper, the Algernon Clarion. Young miss Davenport has gathered round her a small team of hornet-like girls who home in on newsworthy stories, and through threats or charm manage to wheedle out the truth. To their credit, they always leave out the names to protect their sources, but usually that information will yield to the scientific method. Also, the stories are usually hilarious, so I make it a point to read every issue.
This week though, I hadn’t managed to get my hands on a copy. Usually, Professor Brassica swipes one and leaves it in the break room. Some selfish person had probably taken it. Miss Davenport was in a lecture, and none of her reporter friends were anywhere to be found. None of my other colleagues had a copy.
Sometimes, you end up spending an inordinate amount of time on something as trivial as finding a simple Students’ newsletter. The more time you spend, the less you become inclined just to give up, precisely because you have spent so much time on it. But finally, I did, and walked down the stairs into the entrance hall to head to my quarters. Near the porter’s office, I noticed Margaret Enderby in the company of young Miss Alexandra Tennant. Miss Tennant had enough rifles on straps over her shoulder to bring down the Government, perhaps even the Chancellor. Margaret was holding in her hands a copy of the Algernon Clarion. Both lasses were obviously enjoying it very much, so Miss Davenport must have outdone herself this week. As I walked up, Miss Tennant nudged Margaret, who looked up, and saw me.
“Ah. What ho Wadcroft oh my goodness is that the time? I need to be in 2B for my physics lecture. Tootle pip!”
And she ran off in the direction of the Auditorium, taking the Clarion with her. I looked at Miss Tennant.
“What was so funny?” I said.
Miss Tennant looked at me, her face inscrutably calm and a little disappointed with Mankind in general.
“Would you credit it? They managed to spell ‘Colt’ with a U in, and they got the calibre of the rifles all wrong. The Algernon Rifle Club will not use twenty-two inch guns. We do wish the University to remain standing.”
I thought that answer more than warranted raising an eyebrow, but Miss Tennant simply smiled.
“I’ll have to have a word with Miss Davenport about rectifying this. Well, can’t stay here chatting. Must store these safely,” she said, indicating the arsenal she was carrying. Then she walked off. Did I imagine her laughing when her back was turned?
Something is going on.
I will get to the bottom of this.