A message from Jeffrey – a Highland lead.

Late one December evening, I had fallen asleep in front of my monitor again. Marking essays on Henry VII, Queen Elizabeth and other historical royals was often dull work. There had been no new discoveries on these figures for a long time, so why on earth would a first-year bachelors student have anything interesting to say? I came to, mouth dry and eyes bleary from one whiskey too many. I’d left the study window open, to smoke, and now the wind was softly knocking it back and forth on its hinges. The quiet creaking had woken me from my slumber, as I looked up to my screen to shut down the computer I noticed a new message notification. At past two in the morning, I would usually have dismissed this as junk and crept on to the sofa to sleep. However, the sender’s name made me stop in my tracks: Jeffrey Messenbach.

One of my oldest and most trusted allies, we had been good friends since our glory days at Christ Church. Pooling our resources and proof-reading each other’s papers; I would not have passed my first year in Oxford without him. It had been years since I had heard from him; us old men struggle to keep up with modern social networks and easily let good friendships fall by the way side. The last I remember hearing from him was a postcard from the Caribbean or some such place, he’d bought a home there and meant to retire. Now, years later, he’d felt the need to contact me through email of all things. Jeffers was a traditional type, and prized the personal touch of a hand written letter above all else. With a slight hesitation, I opened the message:

11.12.15

Archie,

Ran into a small spot of bother. Remember our old ‘pal’ from Christchurch? Well, I don’t think he’s forgiven us quite yet and his resources seem to have grown. Looks like its time to dust the old ivory cane again, old friend, you know I wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t an absolute emergency.

You’ll find all the answers you need in Tullibody, just find Abercromby. He’ll show you the way. Please do hurry old chap, I know we’re both a bit too old for this thing, but I’d like the opportunity to get a little older yet.

Fraternitas ante omnia

Jeffers.

I decided to pack my things straight away. My ivory cane, moleskin note book and zippo lighter all jumbled on a pile on the desk. It had been a while since I’d taken the Jag out for a spin, and although it was the middle of night (and I was possibly over the limit) I felt compelled to set off straight away. The highlands had always appealed to me as a destination for a little weekend break. Lara had taken the children away to her parents for the weekend, so I wouldn’t be missed. There were places I could stay near Tullibody to begin my investigation, someone at a dinner party in the summer had mentioned Highland Heather Lodges. Quiet and secluded, the fresh air would do me good – plus its well known that the Scottish make the best whiskey…


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