I might not be the marriage and babies kind of guy, but that doesn’t mean I need to live my whole life like a saint.
Or a vicar. Ha ha.
Finally, the last of the students seems to have arrived, so I start the lecture. For the most part it goes well; Jenny and Keith and Henry have all returned for more of my banter, which makes me happy. I enjoy having engaged students, pupils who really want to participate. The ones who have as much passion for this subject as I do make all the bullshit I deal with worthwhile. If I could just teach those students, all day every day, my life would be complete.
There is one girl, though, who worries me. I recognize her friend, Mary Kate, from my eighteenth century lecture. This girl seems new, though, and from the way she spent the entire class gaping at me, practically sweating bullets in her seat, I wonder if she’s in over her head. Maybe she signed up for this class as an elective, or maybe she has it confused with the Introduction to Modern Poetry course that Drew teaches an hour earlier.
I make a mental note to ask her if she’s alright after class, but the second the end of hour bell rings, she bolts from her seat and flees the room, as if the chair she’d been sitting in was on fire. Mary Kate shoots me an apologetic smile and hurries after her.
Hopefully she’ll figure it out and change her schedule.
In the meantime, I have more pressing matters to attend to. Namely, in less than one hour, a meeting with the dean to discuss that Eliot seminar.
“The schedule is set, Kingston.” Dean Pierson peers up at me through his ridiculously tiny spectacles, perched like a teardrop on the tip of his nose. It’s a wonder he can see anything at all. He certainly can’t see the direction out of his own arsehole.
“Screw the bloody curriculum, Daniel. Can’t you understand what this means?” I gesticulate widely to make the point, and nearly knock a bust of Adonis or some similarly ridiculous Greek figure from the dean’s favorite bookshelf. His office is packed to the brim with odds and ends like that—a cheap sextant dangling from the corner of a 6x10” reproduction map of the ancient world, capped by a Yeats quote that looks like it was carved from wood at a local yard sale.
Tacky, from wall to wall. That’s all I can think every time I’m in here. Now I need to make this lover of all things cheap see the opportunity in a diamond in the rough. “Never before seen work. From Eliot himself.”
The dean mutters something that sounds suspiciously like Americans. I wish he’d spit that a little louder. Maybe the exchange students passing by outside the wide open office door would have a thing or two to say about his opinions.
But I ignore the low blow.
“Come on, Daniel. You know as well as I do what kind of merit it would bring the college. Not to mention funding.” That makes the old bastard pause for a moment. He might not like disruption, change, or American poets, but he loves his grant money. “There’s at least three founders I know just off the top of my head who would dig up their parents’ graves and sell the bones for a chance to fund a discovery like this.”
“If you’re right,” he points out. “If they’re not just some pretty scribbles by an unknown unnamed first year who happened to be in attendance here at the same time as your man. This college was chock-full to bursting with American would-be poet laureates in that era, you’ll recall. How can you be sure the papers don’t belong to one of them? And it’s awfully handy you just happened to stumble across these now, with your consideration for tenure fast approaching.”
My fists clench and unclench at my sides. That’s bloody rich. Dean Perjurer Pierson, accusing me of faking something. Granted, there were no convictions during the five forgery scandals in which our lovely dean here has been embroiled during his long and storied career, but five times, really? You do the math. One of those at least must be legit.