Princess Talia is getting into deeper and deeper trouble with the college authorities. She is convinced that the Rector's wife is a dangerous witch. Many people in college now think that she is crazy - with the notable exceptions of her friend Basil, and the exotic Law don, Count Anthony.
Story by Bertie.
Read by Elizabeth.
Proofread by Jana Elizabeth.
Illustrated by Chiara Civati.
"It’s funny, but even when I was a boy I wasn’t afraid of injections,” said Basil. “But here I am, supposedly grown up, and I ran away from a nurse with a needle.”
Talia looked at him intently: “What did this nurse look like?” she asked.
“Why, er, come to think of it she looked a little bit like, I mean, no that’s too silly. She was middle aged and she had short ginger hair, probably dyed.”
“In other words, she looked like, go on say it,” pressed Talia. She was squeezing Basil’s hand now so tightly that it was starting to hurt.
“The Rector’s wife,” admitted Basil.
Talia let go of him, and started to walk around the room. “Now I see it, now I see it all ...” she said.
“What ...?” asked Basil bewildered.
“It’s not me she’s after, it’s you my darling. She’s out to get you, and if you had allowed her to sink that needle into you, you would have fallen into a deep dark death-like sleep for almost an eternity. She means to get you out of the way because, you see, it’s your destiny to kill her.”
At this Basil couldn't help letting out a laugh: “Me, do in the Rector’s wife? Oh come on Talia, that’s completely crazy. I wouldn’t hurt a fly. I mean, I'd be a vegetarian, only I like bacon too much to give it up.”
Suddenly Talia’s eyes flashed with anger and tears. “See, I knew if I told you the truth you would think I was mad,” and she threw herself on the bed and buried her face in the pillow. Basil sat down on the side and tried to comfort her, but she was having none of it.
“Oh come on, I didn’t mean it like that, it was just an expression,” he said. But she refused to calm down and just said: “Leave me alone.” And so Basil, thinking it was probably best to let her calm down, went out of his room, and took a walk about the Fellow’s Garden, which he probably wasn’t supposed to do, but he really needed a calm and tranquil place to soothe his nerves.
When he was feeling a little more relaxed he thought that Talia would probably have had time to calm down too. He passed out of the garden, through the main building, and saw the princess on the other side of the quad. He was too far away to stop her as she ran towards the figure of the Rector’s wife.”
“Talia, no!!!! Stop!” he yelled. But it was no use. The princess flew at the woman and gashed her face with her sharp nails.
“You stay away from him. You stay away from my Basil!” she screamed. And the woman struggled to free herself from Talia, and ran into the lodge to seek help from a burly porter.
The College Disciplinary Committee consisted of the Rector, Dr Mills, and Mr Mortimer, the Moral Philosophy tutor who declined to use the title 'Doctor' because he thought it was vulgar to do so.
Talia sat uncomfortably on a chair on the opposite side of the table to this formidable committee of men. Fortunately she was not required to speak, as she was represented by Count Anthony, the Law don. All the same, the Rector addressed his question to the princess.
“Perhaps you could begin by telling us why you attacked my wife?”
“With all respect Rector, I object to that question,” said the count. In the first place it is a leading question that assumes the guilt of the princess. In the second place, I humbly suggest that you are personally connected to the matter in hand, and that in the interests of justice, you should leave the room.”
The Rector, to his credit, saw the truth of those words, and after handing over the chairing of the meeting to Mr Mortimer, stood up and left. Count Anthony had scored his first point.
“Does the princess deny that she attacked the Rector’s wife?” asked Mr Mortimer.
“She does not,” said Count Anthony. He explained that she had been under a great deal of stress after being wrongfully arrested by the police, that she had been the victim of a malicious campaign of rumours in the college, and that she had been hurt as a child by a woman who bore a strong resemblance to the Rector’s wife.
Now it was the turn of the princess and Count Anthony to leave the room while the two men who were judge and jury in her case conferred and decided what action to take. The worst that they could do was to send her down, which meant that she would be expelled from college.
“If they send me down,” said the princess, as they waited in the next door room, “I’m not sure where I will go. You see, I don’t really know where my home is, or even, if it is. Oh it’s so hard to explain.”
“My dear, I understand more than you think,” said the count. “But perhaps it is for the best for you to leave, and to get as far away as possible from your enemy, for she is dangerous to you.”
“If I was only thinking of myself,” said the princess, “I would leave. But there’s Basil ...”
“Ah yes,” said the count.
After about ten minutes, they were asked to return to the room to hear the decision of the Disciplinary Committee.
“We have weighed the circumstances of the incident, and the extenuating circumstances that have been described by the count, and we have reached our decision,” said Mr Mortimer. “In reaching this decision, we have been careful to exclude any partiality due to the fact that the innocent victim of this action is the wife of the Rector. We are presenting the princess with a choice. Either she can be sent down with immediate effect, or she can agree to our terms, which are to undertake an examination by a psychiatrist and to follow whatever course of treatment, if any, that is prescribed for her.”
“I’m saner than any of you are,” said the princess standing up, and she fled out of the room.
“Count Anthony, be so kind as to inform us of the princess’s decision within the next 24 hours,” said Mr Mortimer, and the count nodded.