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"Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad"
by [?]

“I suppose you will be getting away pretty soon, now Full term is over, Professor,” said a person not in the story to the Professor of Ontography, soon after they had sat down next to each other at a feast in the hospitable hall of St James’s College.

The Professor was young, neat, and precise in speech.”Yes,” he said; “my friends have been making me take up golf this term, and I mean to go to the East Coast–in point of fact to Burnstow–(I dare say you know it) for a week or ten days, to improve my game. I hope to get off tomorrow.”

“Oh, Parkins,” said his neighbour on the other side, “if you are going to Burnstow, I wish you would look at the site of the Templars’ preceptory, and let me know if you think it would be any good to have a dig there in the summer.”

It was, as you might suppose, a person of antiquarian pursuits who said this, but, since he merely appears in this prologue, there is no need to give his entitlements.”Certainly,” said Parkins, the Professor: “if you will describe to me whereabouts the site is, I will do my best to give you an idea of the lie of the land when I get back; or I could write to you about it, if you would tell me where you are likely to be.”

“Don’t trouble to do that, thanks. It’s only that I’m thinking of taking my family in that direction in the Long, and it occurred to me that, as very few of the English preceptories have ever been properly planned, I might have an opportunity of doing something useful on offdays.”

The Professor rather sniffed at the idea that planning out a preceptory could be described as useful. His neighbour continued:

“The site–I doubt if there is anything showing above ground–must be down quite close to the beach now. The sea has encroached tremendously, as you know, all along that bit of coast. I should think, from the map, that it must be about three-quarters of a mile from the Globe Inn, at the north end of the town. Where are you going to stay?”

“Well, at the Globe Inn, as a matter of fact,” said Parkins; “I have engaged a room there. I couldn’t get in anywhere else; most of the lodging-houses are shut up in winter, it seems; and, as it is, they tell me that the only room of any size I can have is really a double-bedded one, and that they haven’t a corner in which to store the other bed, and so on. But I must have a fairly large room, for I am taking some books down, and mean to do a bit of work; and though I don’t quite fancy having an empty bed–not to speak of two–in what I may call for the time being my study, I suppose I can manage to rough it for the short time I shall be there.”

“Do you call having an extra bed in your room roughing it. Parkins?” said a bluff person opposite.”Look here, I shall come down and occupy it for a bit; it’ll be company for you.”

The Professor quivered, but managed to laugh in a courteous manner.

“By all means, Rogers; there’s nothing I should like better. But I’m afraid you would find it rather dull; you don’t play golf, do you?” “No, thank Heaven!” said rude Mr. Rogers.”Well, you see, when I’m not writing I shall most likely be out on the links, and that, as I say, would be rather dull for you. I’m afraid.”

“Oh, I don’t know! There’s certain to be somebody I know in the place; but, of course, if you don’t want me, speak the word. Parkins; I shan’t be offended. Truth, as you always tell us, is never offensive.”

Parkins was, indeed, scrupulously polite and strictly truthful. It is to be feared that Mr. Rogers sometimes practised upon his knowledge of these characteristics. In Parkins’s breast there was a conflict now raging, which for a moment or two did not allow him to answer. That interval being over, he said:

“Well, if you want the exact truth, Rogers, I was considering whether the room I speak of would really be large enough to accommodate us both comfortably; and also whether (mind, I shouldn’t have said this if you hadn’t pressed me) you would not constitute something in the nature of a hindrance to my work.” Rogers laughed loudly.