The Missing Papers: A St Andrews Mystery Chapter Sixteen


An hour later Julian and David walked out of their science lecture in near complete silence. It had not been a good lecture, Old Dotty was angry and muddled and Anthony had not turned up, leaving the boys worried that he had managed to get away from the university and get the papers somewhere safe after all the effort they had been putting in to find them. However they hit a stroke of luck because as they headed towards the exit, Anthony slipped through the door and headed up to their laboratory.

“So, he hasn’t left the country, at least,” David said, looking over his shoulder.

“No, but he’s had two hours where he could have done anything with those papers,” Julian said, grimly.

David shrugged and looked forward. “I don’t know, but I think we should try and find the girls and see if they have been able to come up with anything,” he said sensibly. “Did we say we would meet them anywhere?”

“No,” Julian said, shaking his head. “Although they’re probably in the cafe, so what do you say to dropping our bags off at our rooms and then heading over to find them?”

David agreed that this sounded like a good idea, and the boys headed off towards their halls. They said very little as they walked, occasionally mentioning the day’s experiment, but both too interested to know where Anthony had been to make much of a conversation of their lecture.

They were surprised to find Darrell and Sally sitting on the wall outside their halls, chatting quietly.

“Hello,” Julian said, walking over to them. “We didn’t expect to find you here.”

“We thought you would be in the nice warm cafe, or the library,” David finished Julian’s sentence.

“I suspect that in a less crazy mixed up world, we would have been waiting for you in the warm cafe,” Darrell said, slipping off of the wall and brushing down her skirt. “However we did decide to come and meet you after our little explorations on the coastal walk.” She smiled up at the boys as she finished speaking.

“Sally has some ideas,” Darrell added before anyone else could speak.

Julian turned his attention to Sally and smiled at her. “You do?”he asked, excitement in his voice. He slung his bag higher on his shoulder and as Sally was preparing to jump off of the wall, he put his hands on her waist and lifted her down with apparent ease. Sally tried to control the blush that came to her cheeks, by telling herself that it was only the cold wind off of the sea. She couldn’t ignore the feeling of Julian’s hands around her waist however and the way in which she ended up standing close to him as he set her on the ground. She rested a hand on his forearm to steady herself, carefully not looking at Darrell or David’s faces.

“Thank you,” she said quietly, before letting go of his arm and stepping back. She smiled a little at him as she continued,

“Yes, a few ideas, although Darrell seems to think I’ve gone quite mad.”

“I never said that you had gone mad,” Darrell protested with a laugh. She slipped her arm through Sally’s and looked at the boys.

“So are you going to let us in to have a chat about things or are we going to freeze to death out here first?”

Julian and David smiled at each other and then at the girls. David led the way into their halls, without a word they climbed the extra stairs up to Julian’s room.

“His room is tidier than mine,” was all David said, as they trudged up to Julian’s dorm room.

They made themselves comfortable, Julian sitting on the floor with his back to the wall under the window, David perched on Julian’s desk while Darrell took the desk chair and Sally perched on the corner of Julian’s bed.

“So Sally,” Julian said, when they were all settled. “Please tell us about these ideas of yours? And what you girls have been doing while we were in lectures!” he added with a smile.

“Where did you go?” David asked, arms folded across his chest. “And what did you deduce?”

Darrell began to talk about their walk down from the golf course, towards the old ruined cathedral, and down towards the east sands, the stretch of beach where holiday makers gravitated to and where fishing boats could get far enough inland to anchor safely. Sally described the idea they had had about the old stone pier being used to signal from as the map they had showed that it was the furthest point out into the sea, but was too low down for any long distance signalling.

“It would be all right for signalling if a boat was closer inland,” Sally said quietly. “But I wouldn’t like to say that if there was signalling that it came from there. It would be an ideal place, apart from the ice-cream hut and a few fisherman’s huts there’s nothing on that side of the coast, nothing overlooks the sands, properly at least except for the cathedral.”

“So that is effectively a dead end then?” David asked, shifting his position against the desk. He too, took up a sitting position on the floor opposite Julian.

“Well no,” Sally said, going bright red. “I do have another idea.”

Sally paused, unsure as whether she should go on, but then Darrell leant over and touched her friend’s arm gently, urging her on.

“Go on, Sally,” Darrell murmured.

“Well, all right. We were walking back up the pier and you can see the towers all the way from the end of the pier, and I suppose you can see them right the way out to sea, and if not at least the other side of the bay, where that holiday camp is. Anyway, I had an idea,” she paused and put her head in her hands for a moment. “Oh dear, this is going to sound terribly foolish I know it is!”

Julian moved to sit next to Sally on his bed. He put an arm around her shoulders and gave them a comforting little squeeze.

“I’m sure it won’t,” he said comfortingly, as Darrell gave her friend’s hand a squeeze. “Take your time and work us through the idea slowly. If you’re not sure of anything, it doesn’t matter; we’re not looking for facts at the moment,” he smiled as Sally looked up at him with a worried smile.

“Sorry to be so silly,” she said softly, before retrieving her handkerchief from her coat pocket and dabbing at her eyes and nose.

She cleared her throat, very aware of Julian’s arm still around her shoulders.

“Anyway, as I said, I’m sure the towers can be seen a way out to sea, and if someone could get up them, they could signal and no one would be any the wiser. I know it sounds ridiculous, but if there was some sort of secret passage in the cathedral, from when it was new, for the monks and priests to escape quickly if there was trouble, then there is a possibility that the passage could be found all this time later.”

She looked around at her friends with worried eyes in case they were going to laugh at her.

“It certainly is an interesting thought,” David said, carefully. “Just wish we knew if it could be possible that there is a secret passage. Maybe we should send Julian down to sniff it out!” he laughed a little.

Julian looked at Sally carefully, his arm still around her shoulders. He wanted to believe that she had hit on the right idea; it would certainly fit! However, unless they could find a secret passage way or a way up to the one or other of the three remaining towers, then Sally’s idea was null and void.

“It is certainly something we can investigate,” Julian said after a moment, aware that they were all looking at him for his input. “Have you got a map of the cathedral from when it was working in any of your text books Sally? Or do you know how to get hold of one?”

Sally sniffed a little again, feeling a little foolish. She couldn’t tell whether Julian was genuinely considering her idea or whether he was trying to make her feel better about a bad idea.

“If you think it’s a stupid idea, all you have to do is tell me,” she said, firmly before continuing;

“If you do think it’s a good idea, I’m sure I can find a map of the cathedral and the grounds. There might be a more detailed one in the library or in one of the remaining churches. St Salvator’s chapel might have one. It depends what survived from the cathedral during the purge of the monasteries.”

Darrell smiled encouragingly at her friend.

“I think is a very good idea, Sally,” Julian said, firmly giving her shoulders a little shake. “I’m just exercising caution. I don’t want to go blundering around, alerting people who may be up to no good to the fact that we’re getting closer to finding everything out.”

“Are we getting closer to finding everything out?” Darrell asked after a moment. “I mean, it doesn’t feel like we have done much apart from bump into things! I mean I know we’re agreed that it can only be Pilkington, but at the same time, we’re not certain!”

“You were certain earlier that it was him!” Julian said, looking a little annoyed at Darrell’s words.

“I said that I felt it was more likely to be him, given all we don’t know about him,” Darrell said, a scowl passing over her face as Julian spoke.

“Let’s not worry about the ins and outs of that now,” David said, in a pacifying tone to Darrell and Julian.

“Let us just continue as we have been and sooner or later we will be able to find out the truth,” David continued sensibly. “I think we need to check out Sally’s idea of the towers being used and certainly a map of the cathedral would be helpful there.”

The other three were a bit taken aback at this approach from David as it was usually Julian giving the orders and suggesting how to go about things. They had all fallen easily into the routine of letting Julian make the decisions that David taking control had shocked them all a little.

“I think we should go and have a closer look at the cathedral now and see if there are any obvious signs of way up those towers,” David said getting to his feet and slapping his hands together as he stared at three bemused faces. It took them a few seconds for their minds to get over the shock of David giving orders, but them there was a flurry of activity, scrabbling for coats and scarves. David laughed.

An hour later they trudged back from the cathedral ruins as the clouds scurried overhead threatening rain. They headed towards their favourite café on the high street by an unspoken agreement and thankfully fell into the cosy chairs by the fire.

“Nothing,” Darrell said, after a moment. “Not even a possibility, and we looked down by the sea!”

“I never said that it was a definitely what was going on,” Sally said, frowning at her friend as she struggled to get her coat off. “As I explained to you Darrell, it could have been possible that there was a gap in the wall of the castle for a secret passage to run through. I didn’t know whether this was the case or not!”

“It was a very good idea,” Julian said, loyally. “Shame it wasn’t obvious. Maybe when we’ve had a look at a map we can get a better idea of the lay out of the cathedral. It was a nuisance that the gift shop was closed, they would have had a map, I’m sure of it.”

Sally shot Julian a grateful smile as she leant back in her chair, feet stretched out towards the fire for a moment before regaining a more dignified sitting position of a young lady.

“Anyway, we had a look,” David said, with a smile. “So we can have another look tomorrow.”

“And what do you propose that we do in the meantime?” Darrell asked, leaning forward and resting her elbows on her knees and looking at them keenly. “Because, unfortunately, we’re probably running out of time to find the papers and some of us have some prep to work on. I’ve been putting it off and I just can’t leave it much longer.”

“She has a point,” David said, regretfully glancing over at Julian. “What do you say captain?” he asked, trying to lighten Julian’s mood.

Julian looked first at Darrell, then David and lastly Sally, and noted that all of them looked apologetic. He pursed his lips for a moment to consider the position they were in.

On one hand they had no immediate next move or any idea of what the culprit’s next move might be. They couldn’t be irresponsible about their university work either, they were here to learn and it would be a waste if they didn’t do any of the prep they had been set because they had been too occupied with trying to find the missing papers. Julian didn’t think that the excuse; “I was trying to find Professor Doaty’s missing papers, Sir. No Sir, we didn’t find them,” would go down particularly well.

He looked at his friends who were looking at him, waiting for his answer.

“I think we should get some work done until we can work out our next move,” he said eventually. He was still working with a dislocated shoulder as well, which he felt was slowing him down, as he had not been able to rush around and climb rocks as he would have been able to do normally.

“At least that way we can get some prep done and try and keep on top of it,” he added, sensibly. Julian looked around at his friends’ faces once more, and wasn’t sure whether they looked relieved by his words or not.

Sally couldn’t concentrate on her prep. She and Darrell had gone back to their room after afternoon tea with the boys and had tried to get on with their work. Darrell had managed to get on with hers quite successfully, but other things were plaguing Sally’s mind. She was worried about these stolen papers and whether the four of them had a chance to getting the papers back, but that was only occupying a small part of her thoughts. The rest was taken up by Julian.

Sally chewed her lip as she tried to study her book, but found her mind wandering back to when he had put his arm around her earlier that afternoon and kept it there. She had enjoyed it, if she was truthful, it felt right and safe. She fancied that she could still smell him, the scent of the chemicals from the laboratory, salt from the sea and soap. She swallowed and sat back in her chair, suddenly feeling hot and bothered. She glanced over at Darrell to who looked back at her.

“Are you all right?” Darrell asked Sally, putting her pen down and looking at her friend properly. “You look a little flustered.”

Flustered was a good word for Sally right now. She smiled at Darrell, pushed her chair back and reached for her coat.

“I think I need some air, I don’t seem to be able to get into this book at all,” Sally said, picking up her keys from her desk.

“I’ll be back before dinner,” Sally added, heading out of the door before Darrell could offer to accompany her friend. Sally headed out of her halls, and ran quickly down the steps into the cold wind. She stopped for a moment to button her coat up and turned on the spot for a moment wondering which way to walk. She decided that she could make her way towards the golf course and then down onto the beach by the witches pool.

In the dull afternoon, away from Darrell and the boys she felt she could really afford some time to herself to mull over her thoughts on Julian. She felt it to be selfish to be thinking about him when there were more important things at stake right now, such as the safety of one of the country’s biggest scientific experiments, but she believed that she could take some time to set her mind straight about Julian Kirrin; a boy who had walked into her life only a few weeks ago, but it felt as though he had been part of her life for a lot longer.  Sally shook her head a little as she walked, hands thrust into the pockets of her coat to keep them warm.

As she walked the streets of St Andrews to keep her warm, ideas, scenarios and fantasies passed through her mind, out of character for the staid realistic Sally. It seemed to her that boys weren’t only hard to figure out, but they also knew how to get under your skin. She sighed deeply as she reached The Scores, the long coastal road that ran from the golf house down past the cathedral. She walked past the summer bandstand and then down the steps cut away into the rock down to the beach. The tide was out and the rocks were fairly dry; the smell of seaweed filled the air. As Sally rounded the outcrop of the cliff face she spotted someone sitting on top of one of the tall rocks on the beach.

Sally frowned a little she had hoped to have the beach to herself. She walked along, kicking random pebbles along the sand as she walked past the spot where Darrell and Julian had found one of the pages of the professor’s experiment.  As she walked parallel to the rock the person was sitting on, Sally turned and looked for a moment, staring out to sea, so it took her a moment to realise that the boy who was sitting on the rock was Julian.

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One Response to The Missing Papers: A St Andrews Mystery Chapter Sixteen

  1. Francis says:

    Great treatment of romantic feelings and adventure, Stef.
    Francis

    Like

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