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Nigel Milford-Haven was rushing down the stairs which led to the school

vestibule when he almost bumped into Augustus Snodbury, Senior Master,

who was struggling with two suitcases on the landing.  Nigel was just about

to volunteer to sherpa at least one of them, since Old Snod seemed to be

moving in a curiously painful fashion, but then the erstwhile boy scout noticed

the damsel in distress and offered to take her arm and hold her crutch while

she zoomed down the flight on one of those institutional Evac chairs, like a

marginally more attractive Thora Hird going in the opposite direction to her

usual demonstration of a Stannah Stairlift.

Dame Thora Hird Allan Warren.jpg

He thankfully failed to observe Augustus’ clutching of his own bruised

and battered crotch as he descended the stairwell like a Cubist painting

in motion.

You know, I think we’ve met, the Junior Master said thoughtfully when he

reached the bottom and unstrapped Dru from the safety belt, in a curiously

intimate gesture of assistance.

Yes, it was at the joint schools’ evensong, Drusilla replied, holding onto

the polished banister with both hands, now that they were free. I teach

at St Vitus’.

Mr Milford-Haven, my daughter, Drusilla.

Nigel nearly lost his footing on the last step.  Daughter!  He hadn’t known

that Snod was a married man.  Oh, maybe he wasn’t!  Nigel knew that he,

himself, was rather conventional when it came to that sort of thing.  But who

would have guessed that Old Snod had hidden fires.  Maybe he was a

widower?

Nigel had always viewed Gus as a kind of non-Christian Inkling, if that wasn’t

an oxymoron.  He would ask Matron, Fount of All Information, if she had any

inkling about it. (He was rather pleased with that joke.)

Hmm, Snod as Lothario! Mind you, he was a law unto himself. He had been

known to skip Assembly and Hymn Practices when the Spirit did not move him,

so any level of debauchery was theoretically possible.

Now that he was able to glimpse the woman, she did bear a resemblance

around the jawline.  Did women have jowls?  Would it have mattered to C S

Lewis if they did?  He would probably have still married anyone who needed

a British passport, out of sheer agape.

The Four Loves

But it was one of the stronger Four Loves than agape that struck the youthful

form teacher.  He felt Surprised By Joy.

Enchante, he said in his best Franglais. You do seem to have been in the

wars somewhat. I trust that the injury is not too severe?  He shook her hand

vigorously, forgetting that her equilibrium was not yet steady.

He glanced at Snod, but decided to say nothing about the old boy’s

wounded expression.

Let me carry your cases out to your car, sir, he offered in his new-found role

as Sir Galahad.  You look as if someone has kicked you in the..

Yes, all right, Milford-Haven, Snod interrupted, nodding towards Dru, to remind

Nigel that he was in the presence of a female.  Sir Galahad and Lancelot

would not have been employing such non-courtly language, so Snod wasn’t

about to award his daughter as jousting prize to a Knight with No Garter of

Gentilesse.

Having safely stowed Snod behind his own steering-wheel, like Polonius behind

an arras, Nigel carefully took Dru’s crutches from her and placed them in the

boot.

Going anywhere nice then? he enquired, according to the textbook of chat-up

lines.

We are going to my mother’s house in Bradford-upon-Avon, she volunteered.

It’s to be a nice surprise.

Well, that is a surprise indeed, said Nigel, who was completely on the ball

now that the term was over.  You see, I’m going to Bath with Mr Poskett,

the choirmaster, to take part in a Monteverdi workshop for countertenors.

Perhaps you could all come to the final concert on the Saturday?  He felt in

his pocket and took out a crumpled flyer.

Drusilla accepted it and couldn’t help thinking that her father should join

the class as his voice had been elevated by a couple of octaves after the

attack on his crown jewels.  However, she suppressed this amusing thought.

Can’t say it’s my cup of tea, said Gus, winding down the car window and

signalling his eagerness to depart.

Having helped Dru to swivel her fairly attractive legs into the small car, Nigel

mimed a telephone call as Gus reversed.

Call me, he shouted enthusiastically.  The number of the music school is on

the back of the leaflet.

He leapt out of reach of a spray of gravel as Snod pretended to be James May,

or Jeremy Clarkson.  He was showing off to his daughter, who actually

detested Top Gear and all it stood for.  She preferred centaurs to petrol

heads.

I’m surprised that he’s lasted more than a term here, said Snod, a shade

ungraciously, given the logistical assistance that they had just been given.

But Dru had always found the counter tenor voice very alluring.

What is he called? she asked airily.  I didn’t catch his name.

Secretly he reminded her of Mr Tumnus.  Bless!