I hope you enjoy the next chapter of The Missing Papers: A St Andrew’s Mystery. If you’re just joining us, previous chapters can be found here:
Sally had been making her way to the dining hall to meet the others when she had observed something quite strange as she walked across the campus. She had been walking against the wind, her head bowed and glad of her light jacket as the wind had picked up, when she had heard some raised voices.
The boy who had steadied her the day before after she had almost been pushed over by the boy running past, was arguing with another boy. Sally assumed that Thomas was arguing with this friend of his about something silly when the other boy gave him a shove away from him, possibly in frustration. The boys were attracting a crowd at this point, and the fight was getting physical. There was no real hint of real violence to it, just the aggravated frustration that was usually seen in boys of a much younger age. Sally watched, hugging her book to her chest as two of the boys’ friends broke them up and pulled them apart. The other boy, whom Sally didn’t know, was taken off in the opposite direction to her, but Thomas was brought toward her. His friend had his arm around Thomas’ shoulders and the boys were muttering to each other as they passed her.
“…just a few more weeks Tom, then everything will be back to normal,” Sally heard the boy mutter as they walked past her. She bit her lip and hurried off with the rest of the crowd, almost running into the dining hall. Sally wouldn’t have let herself run if she had not already been late to meet her friends and if she wasn’t hit by the strangeness of the words that Thomas’ friend had muttered.
Sally didn’t have time to examine the feeling in her that told her that Julian was the one to tell about this first. Later, when she had had chance to think her reaction through, Sally reasoned to herself that she had wanted to tell Julian first because she knew it would be the kind of thing he was interested in as one of the group of kids who had foiled all sorts of schemes. He was part of the Famous Five; Sally told herself, that was why you wanted to tell him.
Her three friends looked up at her as she walked into the hall and sat down next to Darrell.
“What took you so long?” Darrell asked studying her friend’s face. Sally looked a little worried, and that was unusual for Sally.
“Oh, just a couple of boys having a scrap in the quadrangle,” she said brushing her hair out of her face as it flopped forward into her eyes. “And I was just running a bit late that’s all,” she added in the tone of voice that suggested to Darrell that she was to drop the subject.
“Don’t worry, we would have waited for you to turn up,” Julian said smiling a little at the flustered Sally.
Sally allowed herself to smile a little back at him.
“So what are we actually going to do with ourselves this afternoon then?” David said leaning back in his chair and raising an eyebrow. “Anyone got any ideas?”
“Well we can always stroll down to the town,” Julian said looking at the clock, “I do want to get today’s paper and we haven’t had chance to explore it properly yet.”
“We could always head down to the beach as well,” Darrell said smiling.
“I wouldn’t suggest swimming in the sea though,” Sally said wryly, “Lord knows what these north sea currents are like up and down this coast line.”
“The water also might be a little bit colder than what you were used to in Cornwall,” David said with a grin.
Darrell sent him a withering glance as she jumped up out of her seat and swung her bag up on her shoulder again. “Shall we go then?” she asked choosing to playfully ignore David’s teasing.
Sally nodded and got to her feet and the boys followed suit. One their way down to the town, Sally found her keeping pace with Julian as David and Darrell wandered ahead discussing the currents around the British coasts and all manner of other subjects. Sally looked up at Julian and decided on how to voice her thoughts on the fight she had witnessed before joining her friends.
Julian caught her looking up and him and looked down and smiled. “Penny for your thoughts?” he asked as they walked, “And I’m glad to see that you brought a cardigan with you today,” he added with a teasing glint in his eye.
Sally allowed herself a smile, noting that she was becoming very comfortable around him and was surprised at how quickly she was adjusting to him. “Yes, after last night, I thought it would be best to bring another layer with me today. I didn’t want to be caught out if it got cold quickly,” Sally said grinning. She looked a little pensive as she considered how to start voicing her concerns about the fight she had witnessed earlier.
Julian looked at her carefully and decided to take the initiative and ask Sally what exactly was bothering her. “So this fight you saw,” he said almost tactlessly, “Anything interesting about it?” he asked with an air of someone who just wanted to be clued in.
Sally felt relieved that Julian had brought up this topic of conversation, though she wasn’t going to tell him so. Sally began to recount her story thankfully to the eager ears of her audience. “Well, it seemed to appear out of nowhere really,” she said attentively, “a boy I bumped into yesterday when I almost got knocked over started scrapping with someone I assume was one of his friends. The argument looked serious however, not something trivial that friends may argue over on the second day of term.” Sally said looking a little puzzled.
Julian, although he was bursting to ask questions, kept his mouth shut and let her continue.
“So anyway, this boy’s friends broke up the two, even though there was a big crowd by then, and one friend brought this boy, Thomas, who had helped me yesterday, off towards me and they were muttering as they passed me. It sounded very out of context to such a fight,” Sally said finally looking up at Julian.
Julian looked down at her and grinned. “Sounds like you could have been a detective yourself,” Julian said laughing a little and giving her arm a light squeeze.
Sally smiled a little.
“What did you hear the two men say who headed your way after the fight?” Julian asked as they strolled past the shops.
“Well the man who was leading Thomas away said something that sounded like he was saying something like, ‘a few more weeks, Tom, then it will all be over.’ At least that is what it sounded like. They were talking quietly and walking quickly,” Sally said apologetically.
Julian nodded his brow furrowing as he considered the words. He had chased after a lot less when an adventure landed itself in his lap. Questions were bubbling up in his mind, his first one however had nothing really do to with what Sally had just told him.
“Why are you telling me all this?” he asked a small grin on his face.
Sally looked a little awkward but allowed herself to smile a little. “Well I thought it might interest you, given your past history with interesting situations,” Sally said grinning and giving Julian a little prod on his arm. “So then Sherlock, anything interesting grab your attention or am I making a mountain out of a mole hill?” she chuckled as they followed David and Darrell towards the newsagents.
Julian gave a small nod of concession. “I’ll allow that,” he said softly, allowing himself a smirk. He grinned and looked ahead from him for a second taking in the view. “There are a few things that are a few things that are interesting.”
“For example, what will be over in a few weeks? And why did Ainsworth kick off? It is very bizarre,” he said almost to himself.
Sally looked up at him and smiled. “So why are you studying physics instead of training for the police?” she asked as they caught up with David and Darrell, who were waiting outside the newsagents for them.
“You two took your time,” Darrell said laughing, “Find something interesting to talk about?”
Julian looked down at Sally and grinned. “Yes, I think we did,” he said chuckling, as he moved past David towards the newsagent’s door, picking up a paper on his way in.
Sally smiled at the other two and leant against Darrell, slipping her arm through her friend’s.
“So this fight you saw,” David said leaning back against the wall of the newsagents, “Anything interesting happen?”
“Not really, just at how suddenly it started, and something I heard a couple of the men involved as they walked away,” Sally said shrugging.
Darrell looked at Sally surprised. “You make it sound so sinister,” she said laughing a little, unsure, “Is that why you and Julian were being so slow walking down?”
“Why would I be telling Julian something like that?” Sally said chuckling.
“Well, I’ve remembered why I his name sounded so familiar,” Darrell said as Julian walked through the newsagent’s door, paper under his arm.
Julian grimaced at her words.
Darrell spotted him out of the corner of her eye and grinned sheepishly. “Sorry I did mean to have a word with you about it, and it just sort of slipped out,” she apologised.
“Sally mentioned it to me last night,” Julian said laughing and joining them, “And I thought I could get away with it.” He turned to David, “don’t tell me you thought my name was familiar as well,” he teased.
David shrugged and smiled. “Well, yes I did noticed the similarity between your name and this guy who solved mysteries with his brother, sister and cousin,” David said laughing, “I was just being polite and not bringing it up in case I was wrong.”
Julian smiled and threw up his hands in defeat. “So now we all know who I am, can we get on with our lives and hope we don’t all get sucked up into an adventure? And can we find somewhere to get some lunch because I’m actually very hungry.”
“I’ll second that!” David said laughing and turning to face the girls, “How about it ladies?” he asked with a grin.
“I’m all up for a bit of lunch,” Darrell said, smiling, “What about you Sally?”
“Lunch sounds good,” Sally said. “Where would you suggest?” she asked looking around the road, “is there anywhere near where we could try?”
Eventually they found a little sandwich shop a few streets away from the newsagents that sold home made sandwiches, cake and plenty of pop. The four of them sat down in the shop as the woman who owned it bustled around making the sandwiches they’d asked for. They were half way through their delicious sandwiches when David couldn’t help but bring up Julian’s adventurous past.
“So then Mr Kirrin,” he said with a grin plastered over his face, “have you picked up on any scent of any adventure in the two days we’ve been here?”
Julian swallowed his mouth full and rolled his eyes. “I knew this was coming,” he said sitting back in his chair and smiling indulgently, “you’ve got five minutes of questions then you have to promise that you leave it be after this,” he said raising an eyebrow.
David smiled, “I might be able to work to those terms,” he said with a grin.
Darrell nodded. “Sounds fair to me,” she said as she finished her sandwich.
Sally nodded in agreement.
“So, have you sniffed out an adventure then?” David asked smiling as he reached for his drink.
Julian pulled a face as he finished his own sandwich. “Nothing,” he said smirking a little. “Though by the sounds of it, Sally’s had more of an adventure than I have since we got here,” he said grinning at Sally over the table.
Sally blushed. “It was nothing really,” she said taking a swig of her drink. “Just two men having a scrap.”
Darrell looked from Sally to Julian and pursed her lips. “You don’t think it was just that, do you Ju?” she asked,smiling. “So come on, what do you think was going on?”
Julian held up his hands as he finished the piece of cake he’d just put in his mouth. “There could be any number of reasons. You’re forgetting that I don’t do this professionally, I just happen to run into adventures wherever I go,” he said, laughing. “There’s no real art to it. Mostly we just put things together like a jigsaw puzzle. Nothing as advanced as actual policing. I don’t mind telling you that I’ve got it wrong a few times as well,” Hhe said with a wry smile remembering the time when Mrs Penruthalen had almost boxed his ears for accusing her husband of smuggling .
“Well, you’ve certainly proved yourself right enough times to spend so much time in the papers,” David said sitting back in his chair and looking out of the window before pulling his paper out and slapping it down on the table. Julian looked down at the paper and frowned as a word caught his attention. He turned David’s paper around and pulled it towards him. He scanned the front page, his brow creasing continually as he read on. The others looked around at each other in confusion as Julian didn’t fill them in.
Julian couldn’t believe what he was reading. Part of him was fuming, how could his uncle have been so stupid, after the last time, why had there not been greater precautions taken. Julian slapped the paper down on the table and jumped to his feet. He strode over to the counter and asked the woman behind it where the nearest private public phone was. The woman, who was startled at his abrupt manner for someone who had spoken so politely to her earlier, answered him under the idea that something was wrong. Julian thanked her, paid for his food and left, giving the other three a vague sort of wave as he went out of the door.
The other three unfroze from Julian’s abrupt departure and all moved for the paper at once; Darrell picked it up first and scanned the front page.
“His uncle’s house is in the paper,” she said in a voice so quiet it was almost a whisper, as she scanned the words on the front page, Sally and David reading over her shoulder.
“It says here that there was ‘an attempted break in at Kirrin Cottage last night’!” David said astonished, “no wonder he’s in such a state.” He said sitting down in his seat again.
“Maybe we should go after him,” Sally said quietly, “He seemed very agitated.”
Julian ran through the streets of St Andrews towards the nearest public phone box. He wasn’t sure what to think as he rushed into it and pulled the door closed behind him. He pulled out some of his change and dialled the number for Kirrin cottage. He waited for his aunt to pick up before he slotted the money into the slot to talk.
“Hello Aunt Fanny,” he said standing with his back to the street. When she answered him back, Julian could tell that his aunt was very flustered.
“Oh hello Julian. How’s university?” his Aunt asked him trying to sound as natural as possible.
“It’s fine Aunt Fanny.” Julian said shortly, wanting to get the formalities over and done with. “I read about the attempted break-in in the paper just now,” he added getting straight to the point, “I just wanted to make sure that everything was as alright as it could be,” he said beginning to feel a bit foolish for ringing up his aunt so quickly. He wasn’t quite sure where to take the conversation.
His aunt was silent for a minute, apparently thinking about what to say as Julian slipped another coin into the phone.
“Aunt Fanny?” Julian prompted her, waiting for a response.
“Yes, well your uncle is very upset about this you understand,” his aunt said eventually “It was just lucky that because all the doors and windows were locked shut that they tried breaking the glass in the study. That woke everyone up and Timmy ran downstairs in a shot.” she explained, “He didn’t catch anyone though, but they didn’t get as far as your uncles safe thank goodness.”
Julian digested this information thinking quickly, “So there’s definitely nothing that’s been taken?” he asked his aunt.
“Your uncle’s been through it all, and there’s nothing missing,” said Aunt Fanny reassuringly, “He’s gone off to the post office to send a telegram to his colleges to let them know what’s happened. I believe one of your professors knows your uncle well.”
“I bet I can make a guess at which one,” Julian said trying to laugh. “Aunt Fanny, when uncle gets back would you just let him know that I called, and if there’s anything I can do to let me know if there’s anything I can do?” he asked. In the last few years Julian had begun to understand his uncle’s work more than he had ever done before, and his interest in physics had caused his uncle to actually sit down and have conversations with him about several ideas and projects. Julian wasn’t sure in any way that he would be able to help his aunt and uncle at this point, but he felt that it was only proper to offer.
His aunt reassured him that she would pass on the message to his uncle and then they said their goodbyes. As Julian hung up the phone, deep in thought, there was a knock on the glass of the phone box. Julian turned around startled, only to see David’s face peering in at him. Julian glared at his new friend as he opened the glass door and stepped out into the welcoming breeze of the street.
“Sorry about that,” David said as he saw Julian’s expression, “Just you ran out of the cafe so fast we thought it would be a good idea to make sure you were alright.” he said as Sally and Darrell nodded in unison behind him.
Julian nodded and looked up at the sky.
“Is everything alright at your uncle’s house?” Darrell asked after a moment.
“Apparently so,” Julian said sticking his hands in the pockets of his trousers, “nothing was taken, as they were heard entering the house. They smashed a window because all the doors and windows were locked.”
“Well that’s good that they didn’t get anything,” Darrell said, “But you don’t look as happy as you should at that news,” she noted looking at Julian.
Julian looked down from the sky and at his friends. “Call it an uncomfortable feeling,” he said shrugging, “I’m sure it’ll pass.”
“You’re just chomping on the bit for an adventure really, aren’t you Julian?” David asked chuckling, trying to lighten the mood.
Julian allowed himself to shake off the feeling of foreboding at the phone call to his aunt and smiled at David. “It is very possible,” he said with a grin, “maybe I’m just restless,” he agreed. He turned and looked towards the sea. “Anyone for a paddle?” he asked with a grin.
Great stuff Stef. Looking forward to more.
Thank you Ilsa, glad you’re enjoying it!
Really enjoying this story 🙂
It’s as good as I remembered it – well done Stef. What a great read!