|The Secret of the Bishop's Spear
Author: Briar Hecate PM
Mutt Williams just won his doctorate, teaches at university and travels when he can. But when government agents show up at his office, Mutt will gamble everything for a chance to find the Bishop's Spear- an incredible artifact lost to history. Mutt OFCRated: Fiction T - English - Adventure - Chapters: 6 - Words: 12,952 - Reviews: 11 - Favs: 8 - Follows: 17 - Updated: 10-24-12 - Published: 06-26-11 - id: 7120509
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.
Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3, 218–224
Mr. Sattler always wore well-fitted Italian leather shoes. The guide sniggered at him when he appeared at the archaeological dig site in them. The man mentioned in broken English that the caves had just been excavated and the footing was still rather fresh and uneven.
Sattler just nodded curtly and asked him to continue on.
The guide turned on his wide flashlight and lead the way into the darkened tunnels. The ceilings were not high and Mr. Sattler bowed his head, following the guide faithfully. He dodged the workers as they hastily swept up dust and dirt, looking for precious artifacts.
A burned out flashlight and a mountain of matches later, Mr. Sattler finally saw someone he recognized. There were multiple lamps set up, illuminating the dark corner of the passage. There was one worker, who was churning up dirt at an impressive speed. The leader of the dig stood in front of a curious metal object which was imbedded into the face of the cave.
"Dr. Pratt, good to see you," Mr. Sattler said, offering his hand.
Dr. Pratt turned around and took his hand, a grim expression on her face, "And you Mr. Sattler."
The handshake had left a fair amount of dirt on Sattler's hand. He stuck that hand in his pocket and tried to rub off some of the grime on the inside of his pants. "The government in Washington is extremely interested in what you have found here, doctor."
She smiled, though it was a sarcastic one, "I bet they are."
"Do you know what this is?" he asked, pointed to the metal shape. They had cleared most of the dirt off the thing, though it still was as dull as the dirt and stone that surrounded it. The four edges of it jutted out and at awkward angles too.
"I have some idea," answered Dr. Pratt, folding her arms across her chest once more and eyeing the artifact ominously. "But, I'm not the one you should be talking to about this," she replied truthfully.
"Yes well, our government has good ties to an archaeologist, we should be able to get him to come and review the site and your findings," answered Sattler, turning to the older woman.
"Ah," she said, "you won't get Jones out here. He's married now, and has a good reputation as a dean at Marshall. He's done with this kind of stuff."
"How do you know Dr. Jones?" asked
There was a slight twinkle in her eye, illumined by the lamp light. "Oh, life experience, that's all."
Then, turning serious once more she added, "You ought to get his son out here. His name's Henry Williams. Most call him Mutt. The kid's got talent, and he knows his stuff, especially when it comes to this type of thing."
"What do we have on our hands, here, Dr. Pratt?" he questioned.
"To tell you the truth, Mr. Sattler, I don't know much... but I can tell you that you are going to have one hell of a problem on your hands."
The weather in Connecticut that fall was surprisingly warm. In fact, the fall of 1965 would be one of the warmest to date. The lecture halls of Marshall College were crammed with students who were fulfilling their plans on having a better academic year than the one before. The air conditioning had been turned off in anticipation of cooler weather, but with the warm front had made the lecture halls as steamy and humid as a hot bowl of soup.
Molly Moore wiped the sweat off her brow as she reached up to further explain a point she had drawn on the board with chalk. "So to reiterate: if one happens to find a body on a dig, sex can be determined through metrics such as size and shape of the pelvis and the grove in the sciatic notch-"
The bell signalling the end of class blared loudly. The students seemed to topple over each other, happy to be out of the sweltering sauna which had been Archaeology 101. Molly waited at the desk at the front of the classroom waiting for the students to vacate the hall, which did not take too long. She politely answered a few questions before gathering her notes and leaving herself.
Her shoes clacked down the long hall way which lead to the professor offices. She struggled keeping her notes together as she fumbled with the key to the lock. Placing the mess of papers on the ground, Molly was finally able to open the door to the office and settle her things down on her desk.
Hearing a loud slam, Molly spun around, her heart pounding. She quickly grabbed a statuette which sat on her desk and held it up in defence. The door to the adjoining office was closed, but she could see a large shadow moving back and forth behind it.
Gulping, Molly held up the small statue and watched as the door nob turned. Closing her eyes tight, she took a great swing only to have her arms caught by one large, very calloused hand.
"Moll? What the hell are you doing?"
It was Henry Williams, professor of archaeology and he looked quite amused as he artfully removed the artifact from Molly's clenched hands.
"You gave me a heart attack!" she reasoned, brushing her hair back in place. "I thought I'd catch someone ransacking your office, or something worse... I don't know... why didn't you unlock the door?"
"I came in through the window," he said nonchalantly. "I found this in India, you know. Buddhas sitting in this position are pretty rare." He placed the item back on her desk and regarded it proudly. "Would've hurt if you had knocked me with it."
"I wasn't expecting you back, what else was I supposed to do? Let some one root through all of your research?" she explained, turning back to the pile of papers on her desk and organizing them. "And why did you sneak into your own office?" she added, a suspicious tone in her voice.
"I didn't want the dean to see me strolling around the halls when my lecture was in session," he said.
"I thought he knew you were away."
"He gave me leave for a week."
Molly looked up at him for a moment. He was examining a piece of pottery that lay on the corner of the filing cabinet. Henry had grown considerably tanned since his absence. He had told her he was going to Greece, but she knew better to assume that he stayed in one place for the duration of his absences.
"Well," she said, grabbing the stack of papers she was looking for, "here are your messages and I got a few letters from that fellow from Istanbul again. Your course outlines still need to be finished and I assigned your class a term paper on the archaeology of any civilization they choose due in November. And you do realize that you'll be defending your doctoral dissertation in ten minutes?"
"Oh, right... almost forgot about that," he said, flashing her a grin. "And can you run down the hall and tell dad that he's invited for dinner tonight?"
"Yes, now go! It'll look real bad if you show up late!" she said, pushing him out of the office.
"Did I thank you for teaching my class today?" he added, swinging around, hands placed on either side of the door frame.
"You just did," she said, placing her hands on her hips. "You're lucky I minored in Archaeology."
"A secretary that knows how to teach Arch 101 and use a type writer. I hit the jackpot."
"I'm your assistant. And you have five minutes Henry! Go!"
He turned around and took off down the hall. "Good luck!" she called.
"Thanks!" he yelled back, waving an arm and disappearing into one of the larger lecture halls.
Molly waited in the hall way for a moment. Then, smoothing her dress she walked back into the office and decided to get to work cleaning the place up. Naturally, the space was crammed with artifacts Henry had brought back on digs. Molly had even collected a few things herself, but was more interested in the literary aspect of the past.
When she was satisfied with a slightly organized state she grabbed a leather bound book off her desk and walked down the hall to the dean's office. She knocked lightly on the door before she heard a soft, "Come in."
Dean of students, Dr. Henry Jones II had been in that position for several years and had not yet tired of it. He oversaw the university with an air of stoic calmness. When Molly walked in he was sitting at his desk, over looking some documents.
"Good afternoon Miss Moore, what can I do for you?" he asked, the corners of his mouth turning up slightly.
"I came to return the book I borrowed from you," she said, placing the volume back in its empty space on the bookcase. The Dean kept a personal collection of books pertaining to archaeology and similar disciplines in his office. Molly had visited a few over the course of her schooling and employment at the university.
"Take another," he said, "there's one about Biblical Symbols I think you'd like."
Molly scanned the bookshelves for the novel he was speaking about. "By the way," she added, still searching the mass of books, "your son has invited you and your wife over for dinner. I think maybe to celebrate. He's defending his chair right now."
"I'm well aware. And tell him that we can't see him tonight. The museum is holding a benefit," Dean Jones mentioned, going back to the papers on his desk.
"I'll let him know," she said, more to herself than the Dean. Finding the book she wanted, she pulled the heavy text down from its resting place and blew a covering of dust off of it.
"Did you hear from Oxford yet?" questioned Jones.
"No," Molly said, her heart suddenly sinking. The chances of her getting into the art history PhD program she wanted were extremely thin now.
"Well, chin-up kid, the Brits like to give scholars a chance to panic before they accept them. They think it helps people build character," Jones mentioned.
Molly smiled, tucking the book under her arm. "I'd better go," she said.
As she reached for the door handle, the Dean added, "Oh, and Miss Moore, tell my son that if I catch him making a certain receptionist teach his class again, he'll be answering to me."
Molly set down a bowl of potato and leek soup in front of Henry as he read over some papers. "I can't believe you gave my class a pop quiz," he complained.
"Are you kidding me? You need to see where the students are at. You can't just give them a mid term and expect to see an accurate representation-"
"Yeah, yeah I get it- it's just you're assigning me homework when its supposed to be the other way around... with the students anyway," he said, pushing away the papers. Taking a sip of soup he added, "This is really good, you made this from scratch?"
"Yeah its a Julia Child recipe. By the way I saw the painter today. He's coming tomorrow to add the 'PhD' to your door," she told him, sipping her own soup.
"Dr. Williams... sounds good, don't it?" he said, face glowing.
"It's doesn't it. And I like Dr. Jones. Or maybe Dr. Ravenwood."
"What's wrong with Williams?"
"Nothing. I just think 'Mutt' went better with it."
Henry cocked an eyebrow at her. "You know, sometimes you say these things and I just don't follow you, Moll."
She shrugged her shoulders, "Its okay. I feel the same way about you at times."
"Did you hear back from Oxford yet?"
"How does everyone in this university know about Oxford!" she burst.
Mutt was taken aback by her sudden change in attitude. He held up a hand but she continued. "It's not like I even care anymore, okay? There are plenty of other well-established institutes I can apply to. I am a Harvard graduate for goodness sake! There has to be someone out there who would take me!"
She had now stood up and walked out his door, slamming it behind her, making some ancient artifacts quaking precariously in her wake.
"Women," Henry muttered, going back to his papers.
He couldn't seem to allow the words to sink into his mind though. The article he was reading on Burial Practices in Ur quickly disinterested him. Staring out the window of his cramped office, he heard Molly slamming something furiously on the typewriter. Sliding the chair out from under his desk, he opened the door and walked into the adjoining office.
Molly was sitting at her own desk, fingers moving so quickly over the keyboard he could hardly see them. An empty couch sat adjacent from her, waiting to be filled by confused students or people seeking information about his area of expertise. Molly had put up an Andy Warhol reprint above the couch, which he absolutely hated, but added some colour to the dismal room.
"Moll, you said I got a letter today?" he asked, leaning on her desk.
"Yeah, from Istanbul," she said, going through her drawer and then handing it to him.
"Thanks," he said, "and can you cancel my office hours for today?"
"But you've been gone for a week!" she protested.
"Right- um, just make them tomorrow, okay?"
"Tomorrow is Saturday."
The pair regarded each other for a long moment. Molly, with an indignant stare and Henry an apologetic expression. "What's the letter about?" she asked, raising an eyebrow from behind her glasses.
"It might be about something I've been looking to find for a while now, okay?" he answered.
"Really, and what might that be?" she pressed, leaning back in her chair and folding her arms across her chest.
She can be so damn intimidating at times, Henry thought. Then he broke out a large smile. "Its about the conversion of Constantine. They're thinking of digging at that bridge."
"Right, but that bridge was in Italy, Henry," she retorted.
"I know Moll!" he answered, beginning to get frustrated. She was catching him in a lie. He scratched the back of his head and looked at her. "Did you do something with your hair?" he said, in the most suave voice he could manage at the moment.
She fingered her tawny curls thoughtfully. "No," she said and then she shook her head and sighed. "Alright Henry, I'll see what I can do," she said finally.
"You're an angel, Moll!" he praised happily, leaning over and kissing her lightly on the head.
When he pulled away she was blushing slightly. "But don't get caught up in trotting all over the globe for two weeks again! You have a job here that you have to remember," she scolded lightly.
"I know, and I have the best secr- assistant here too," he said, turning up the wattage on his smile.
He was pleased to see her blush as she waved him off. He knew that it was probably wrong of him to exploit her feelings for his gains, but there were times when it was almost necessary. Henry was incredibly close to finding something that had been nagging at him for over a year.
Tearing open the letter, he unfolded the carefully creased lines and began to read.
My dear friend,
We have not yet located the area which you seek. Perhaps the translation had been wrong. The map-
The door opening suddenly drew him from his thoughts. "Molly? Do you not knock anymore?" he said, an audible edge in his voice.
"Sorry, but there are some men outside-"
"Tell them that my office is closed."
She shook her head. "I think you're going to want to talk to them."