Oh Whistle and I’ll Come to You My Lad

By M R James, retold by A L Stringer
Level: Advanced
7069 words


‘I suppose you’ll be leaving pretty soon, now the autumn term is over, Professor.’ The tutors were sitting down to their end-of-term feast in the friendly hall of St James’s College. The Professor, whose name was Parkins, was young and neat, and spoke in a very exact way.

‘Yes,’ he said. ‘My friends have been making me take up golf this term, and I’m planning to go to the East Coast, to Burnstow in fact,  for a week or ten days to improve my game. I hope to get off tomorrow.’

‘If you’re going to Burnstow,’ said the man sitting on the Parkins’s left, who was a keen archaeologist, ‘do you think you could look at the site of the Templars’ preceptory. I’d like to know if it would be any good to have a dig there in the summer.’

‘Certainly,’ said  Parkins: ‘If you tell me where the site is, I’ll do my best to give you an idea of what it’s like when I get back; or I could write to you about it if you tell me where you’re going to be.’

‘That’s quite alright, thanks. It’s just that I’m thinking of taking my family there in the summer.  It occurred to me that most of the English preceptories have had no detailed plans made of them, so I thought I might make myself useful and have a go at this one when I’m not busy.’

You could see from his expression that Parkins could not see how making plans of a preceptory could be described as useful. His neighbour continued:

‘I doubt if there’s anything showing above ground — and the site must be quite close to the beach now. The sea has eroded the coast tremendously, as you know. I should think, from the map, that it must be just over a kilometre from the Globe Inn, at the north end of the town. Where are you going to stay?’