Farai rushed out of the hostel. He leaped at the stairs three at a time all the while yelling.
"It's stolen, It's stolen!"
The group of boys who, under the peach tree, had been in a coloured discussion about that morning's failed hot water, turned to the direction of the commotion, amongst them was Mycrofte who signaled for Farai to calm down with his hand raised sideways in front of his face, index finger up.
Farai came up to the group.
"Speak sense man! What has been stolen." Mycrofte said in a raised voice.
Gasping for air Farai explained that one of his text books had been stolen.
"Are you sure of this,"
"Yes, I lent it to no one, only I knew were it stayed in my room."
Mycrofte raised his hand to his face, index touching his lip.
"Let us go and inspect your room, shall we?"
Murmours broke out in the group as the two boys made for Farai's room. They entered the hostel and Farai's room was on the ground floor, it was the fifth room along the narrow hallway with 12 rooms on either side. Mycrofte carefully observed the surroundings and turned to go inside Farai's room.
Mycrofte asked as he looked around the neat room.
"You are quite the orderly person, have you moved anything since the discovery of the theft?"
Farai was flattered then replied, "Nothing, everything is as it was."
"Perhaps one of your neighbours saw or heard something."
Just then, Kundai walked in and Farai indicated he was his neighbour in the right. Mycrofte asked him.
"Sorry, I don't know anything about your book, didn't hear or see anything, sorry." He replied.
A few minutes later Jumbe walked in, he was the neighbour from across the hall.
" I don't know who stole your biology book Farai, sorry, I didn't see or hear anything." he replied.
Tendai the neighbour on the left came in some twenty minutes later. He was quite excited.
"Are you accusing me of theft?"
"No one is accusing you, we are just asking if you saw anything of consequence."
"No I did not see or hear anyone stealing a book, so there. Can I go now."
Mycrofte scribbled notes and apologised for the inconvenience then turned into the room. He looked around.
"No leads there," Farai sighed.
"Am I right in inferring the book was stolen from the bottom of your locker?"
"Yes, it was in my locker on the bottom shelf under the pile of laundry. I must get it back it is worth so much, how d...." A look of surprise registered on Farai's face.
"No lock! I see," Mycrofte uttered with a start,"how much is it worth?"
"Tendai just got back from the book office and he was told the book is worth 150 pounds."
Their attention was turned to the newcomer, who had just showed at the door nodding his head in confirmation.
"Grave, quite grave!"
A small gathering was forming outside the room, peering inside.
Mycrofte turned. "Will you be good enough to open the window fully, it is quite hot in here."
"Sorry the window only opens halfway, it was jammed when I moved in."
Sai, one in the crowd, offered to look at it. He was a large boy. He gave the hook one heavy tug, he flinched for a few seconds and the window gave way. Murmours of approval swept the crowd.
"I bet it's one of them villagers. I seen them lurking around he sometimes. This is what they were up to." Mike shouted from the back. Mike was one of the college playboys.A slight murmour of agreement arose.
Mycrofte turned sharply, he knew the voice but could not place it.
"You have no evidence of that," then he turned back to Farai."It was a new book, given to you recently, was it not. And it was stolen by a fellow student not an outsider"
"Yes, it was a new book, in fact we only got it yesterday. but how did you know that and who stole the book?"
"An outsider could not have known of the issuing of a new book to students. Observe! how nothing else in the room is disturbed save the laundry. The chance thief would have ransacked to look for valuables. Why did he not look through every shelf, under the bed, in the trunk!"
The group looked puzzled. "Because he did not need to, the thief knew exactly where to go. The ground floor, fifth door on the right, in the locker under the laundry. This is not your chance theft but an executed one, specific. Why today and only today? Why that book only? The odds, the odds of arriving at sich a prize book. My conclusion therefore, is that the thief is a student who knew of the new book issues and to whom they were issued and may very well be with us right here."
"Man, you and your theories. The thief is a student, how absurd. You should stick to books Mycrofte, the prefects' body has got this covered." Richie the senior prefect hovered over the gathering and motioned for everyone to disperse.
"I'm sure you have sir," Mycrofte gave a glancing smile and made his way out, headed for the library.
Farai was quick on his heels.
"Mycrofte, I'd really appreciate your help in getting the book back despite what the prefect just said."
Mycrofte made a half irritated nod.
"We must act before that book finds its way to the markets stalls on Cameron Street, fail that it shall be lost forever and will cost you dear ."
"Pray, no. Back there you said you guessed the thief was a student and he might have been there, why would he?"
"I never guess, Farai. I eliminated the impossible and what was left was the probable. As to the matter of him being there. Two reasons. One, to relish his deed. Two, to find out if anyone is any the wiser-you see that helps him plan his next step. If I were a thief I would do the same."
A look of despair grew on Farai's face, "How shall I tell my parents of this new expense."
Mycrofte glanced at him through the corner of his eyes.
"Pray, it will not come to that man, there is no doubt in my mind your book shall be recovered."
At that moment they came up to the library , Mycrofte told Farai he had people he had to see and they parted ways.
"Mycrofte! We were beginning to think you would not come today."
Mycrofte walked up to the table with five people, Ashley, Sandra, Tich and Valoyi and Mzambi. There were his close circle of friends. There he sat and was soon absorbed in conversation.
Two hours later, Henry walked in and went over to Mycrofte and told him the prefects had caught the thief.
"Impossible, who is the man!" he muttered in a wild start. Students around the library turned at this commotion.
Henry explained it was one of the hostel cleaners from the village all the while tying to keep his voice down, aware of the prodding eyes all around.
"I must see this man to be certain, where are they holding him." Mycrofte hastily left the library and made for the hostel where he had been told there were holding the man
Mycrofte burst into the room.
"Congratulations, gentleman, you have caught the thief." he uttered followed by a fleeting forced smile.
"I told you we'd take care of it. what about your theories now. Look there is the book." Richie waved it in front of Mycrofte.
"Bravo, might I interview our distinguished man."
Mycrofte turned to the man, he was a boy just turned man. His eyes were sullen and he looked up with a tight face. He wore a soiled shirt and had grease on his hands.
"I can see you were working in the boiler room."
"I had to change the burst pipe and change the oil this morning sir."
"Did you steal this book!" Mycrofte asked as he leaned towards the young man.
"How?" he asked as he stepped back and moved across the room towards the open window.
"I waited until everyone had gone for lunch and then I crept through the window and stole it and then I made out."
"How did you know where the book was?"
"I seem him put it there, just before lunch, from the house masters garden, sir."
Mycrofte touched his lip, looking out the window whilst the setting August sun cast fragmented beams through the window frame on his fair complexion.
"Satisfied ?" Richie cut in with a gloating air.
Soon after the group the dispersed.
The next day was a public mourning day, a top ranking politician had died and there were no classes that day.
Mycrofte went to the library anyhow as he had arranged to meet Miss Amanda.They had sat together in the library for at least two hours. He felt more himself around her than anyone else and judging from the smile on her face it was the same with her. She was not afraid to being different and spending time with Mycrofte did not bother her. She liked it because there was no room for pretension. That morning she needed help with some Chemistry concepts. Just over an hour later the books were closed and they were engaged in light hearted talk abot the paradox of destiny and freewill whilst playing a scribbling game.
"Are you coming to the disco tomorrow," She asked in a spontaneous change of subject
"Not really sure, but I might just decide to come." Mycrofte replied without looking up from the scribbling on the notebook
"I have to be there since I am one of the organisers, but I don't know if I am going to go to the evening dance." Mycrofte looked up.
There was a moment of silence as they both searched for something to say. They looked at each other but avoided their eyes meeting.
Just then Henry made an appearance, sliding into a vacant chair affording a very much welcome relief.
"If it isn't my favourite people," he uttered with a relished grin. For a few minutes the trio exchanged niceties then Miss Amanda announced she had to go.
"I will walk you home."
They left the library, Henry complaining to himself about being suddenly deserted which led to the librarian storming up to him about making noise and Henry insisting he was not. They could see Henry and the Librarian waving arms at each other through the large glass windows as they walked down the path to Maryward House.
Miss Amanda was amused by this and commented on how a funny character Henry was. She giggled as she clung her hands, covered by the green sweater which was a size or two too big, round Mycrofte's arm. At the gate to Maryward, Mycrofte and Miss Amanda parted with short bows, she soon disappeared behind the colossal French doors and Mycrofte walked back to Senior House.
Mycrofte sat outside under the peach tree for an hour. Mike came up to him.
"I heard you had a hard time on Thursday, things are tight huh" Mycrofte made to reply but before he started Mike had walked off, his posture betraying a mocking face. Other students passed, making whispers, stealing glances and giggling.
Henry came out of Senior House and looked around then he saw Mycrofte, he walked up.
"Is it not amazing, what the ego can do to feed itself." Mycrofte said with a sign.
"Don't pay any attention to him, he will always be like that," Henry said looking in the direction of Mike who was now in the company of two girls, he turned back to Mycrofte
"This book business has wounded you, people are gossiping now."
'That aimless ignorant lot, I remain unscaved."
"Is it not also amazing what the ego can do to protect itself"
Mycrofte glanced sideways with a slight grin to Henry who now sat beside him, "There my friend, you have the advantage of me."
Without warning Mycrofte jumped to his feet and cried
"Come Henry! I have just made a realisation."
Mycrofte started for the back of the building. They got behind Farai's window. They had to cross an open storm drain to get to it. Mycrofte looked closely at the window, under and over the sill.
"Look Henry, what do you see?"
Henry studied the window and sill, trying not to overlook anything in a bid to not afterwards appear stupid. After meticulous study of the sill he finally announced.
"Nothing, just a window and sill." with a look of expectation towards Mycrofte.
"Exactly!" Mycrofte cried, "You see, no grease marks or any type of soiling on the the sill or window edge yet the man had greasy hands and work clothes."
"He could have got the grease on him after the theft or he could have wiped them off to cover his tracks."
"Henry, the man got grease from the boiler room that morning, remember so it cannot be after the fact. This is a metal sill, look closely it has not been wiped in a long time. Observe, the dust." Mycrofte leaned closely to the sill with a look of excitement only he could manifest at such a discovery.
"The man might have got in without leaving grease marks."
"The man had to crawl in, remember until yesterday afternoon this window could only open halfway, a man of his size could only fit in if they crawled through. Yet no mark or stains."
"That means the man lied about how he came into the building"
"What time is it?"
"Its almost lunch hour, why?"
Mycrofte raised his hand to his lips and dashed, then lept across the storm drain and climbed up to the garden.
"Henry open the window just half way", it was a swivel window and Henry swung it half way. The sun glared into Mycrofte's eyes.
"Henry, that's not the only thing he lied about. He could not have seem inside the room, the window at that angle acts like a reflector. All you can see is a screen of silver."
"He lied about that too, that man is proving to be quite the fiend."
"Not the fiend, but quite the rouse."
"That man did not steal the book,Henry, in fact he has never been up here before. Did you notice how he described everything in great detail until the actual theft. That's because he has never been in the room."
"Do you mean to say he was coached?"
"He is covering for someone who did it, why? Henry, the thief is more formidable than I first assumed."
Henry mused and started chuckling to himself. Mycrofte stopped dead in his tracks, leaned back and asked.
"What is so funny?"
"You could tell all that from a dusty window sill."
Mycrofte gave a slight smile and helped Henry up to the garden.
The next day, Saturday came. The college disco was on. Saint Ignatius' sister school were the guests, an all girls school. Mycrofte did not venture outside. He peared down his window, watching as the revellers went to and from the disco to the park. He saw Sai, he had the attention of the prettiest girl on campus, Thari. Maguchu was entertaining two ladies whom Mycrofte could see blush from where he was, charming as ever Maguchu. He saw Mike surrounded by a group of giggling girls, true to nature. Many people passed and went. The occassional finger pointed up in his direction constantly reminded him of the situation.
Mycrofte stood a long time at his window. Henry came in during the early evening.
"Are you coming to the dance?"
Mycrofte remained silent and Henry could see that he had not dressed up or had any clothes prepared, in fact Mycrofte was in the dull grey college trousers and yellow sweater.
Henry wanted to ask what if Miss Amanda was going to be there but he stopped after giving it a second thought.
"You decided not to come to the disco, I'm sure you have your reasons."
"Yes, tonight I am the college Feste." Henry knew this was a lofty excuse but he just nodded.
As the sun was setting the St Dominics girls were leaving. A group of boys, Elss, Vance, Mike, Nick, Gado and Tapiwa walked out and onto the bus with them.
"The party boys, they have got weekend passes from the House Master. But I can bet money they are not going home."
"Yes, probably some nightclub in town. Quite the playboys." Mycrofte replied, relieved at the change of subject.
The disco was now in-house. The revellers moved en mass to the hall, onto the dance floor to have a good time. Henry excused himself and went to meet Kudzai his sweetheart. Mycrofte sat down at his desk, he stuffed a pillow between his back and the chair , put on his Summer '78 CD, plugged in his earphones . He raised his legs over the desk, tilted the chair onto two legs resting against the bed then he sank back into a deep relaxation.
Henry walked into the hall with Kudzie at his hand. The Floor resonated with the sounds of music. The vibrations went all the way up to the chest. The hall was full, couples scattered all over. The Junior boys were in random groups having dance sessions trying to outshine each other in a bid to impress, for the intermittent displays of affection however trivial, the few single senior girls, who in turn very much flourished under the flooding male attention.
Henry and Kudzie soon became one couple of many
It was a comfortable arrangement. Of all the junior boys only those impressive dancers and the socialites prevailed. The social inept, senior and junior were relegated to the side benches sipping cola and discussing the going ons of those on the floor.
"Henry, can you get me a drink, we have been here over two hours."
"Oh, ok, I will be right."
"Love you." she said giving him a peck on the cheek as he walked away.
As he approached the kiosk he passed some friends sitting on the stairs at the back of the hall
"Man, you'll need a mop to wipe that smile on his face" Tinashe said painting at Henry.
"Leave the man alone, He's getting a drink for the Misses."
Henry exchanged a few more playful remarks the left for the kiosk.
Henry peered inside and saw Miss Amanda sitting on a chair near the corner. In her hand was an open satchel. From it she was holding the edge of a blue garment and she was stroking the frills at the end. She quickly tucked it it when she saw someone at the window.
'Henry, hi. I was just sorting out some things, what can I get you" She said whilst running her hand through her hair then pushing it back behind her ear. She was clearly uncomfortable but she gave a small smile
Henry looked at her. That was unmistakably a dinner dress. He wanted to say something about it. Something about Mycrofte but then he decided against it.
"Two medium Fantas please," he said handing her the money.
She pared out the drinks and gave them to him.
"Nice suit" She commented whilst giving a shy nod.
"Thanks," he replied whilst slightly tugging the lapel, "Great gig you put together here, its really cool."
"Thanks, I try."
"Yeah, wish Mycrofte was here, it would be more fun huh." Henry raised the drinks and said thanks as he made back to the floor. Miss Amanda nodded her head with her hands in the back pockets of her tracksuit as the booming of the music sounded away into the night.
The House Master came and closed the gig at 1am. couples and socialites and inepts passed and entered Senior House. The crown had pretty much turned to a trickle when Mycrofte was out on the outside stairs under the bright fluorescent lamp.
Henry and Kudzie suddenly appeared from the shadow
Mycrofte exclaimed to them how he thought everyone was gone by now and how he was surprised to see them. They gave some silly excuse about looking for an earring and how they looked everywhere but Mycrofte could not fail to see her maladjusted hair broach. His crimson stained collar and bits of grass in her hair.
"What happened to you, yu are bruised all over." Kudzie remarked to the scratch marks all over Mycrofte's arms and face particularly pointing to the gash on his right arm
"Oh, this is..."
Just then Miss Amanda appeared with a colleague carrying large boxes.
"Miss Amanda" Mycrofte said blankly.
"Was it a good take tonight." Kudzie asked
"We haven't counted the money yet but it looks promising."
"We sold almost all the food, this is what was left." He colleague added gesturing to the boxes.
"Can I help with that." Mycrofte asked as he walked towards Miss Amanda
"I'll go on ahead then, see you later." her colleague said then joined another group towards Mary Ward
Henry and Kudzie left ahead of them. Mycrofte and Miss Amanda walked down the road in silence.
"You are hurt."
"A mongoose came up to the washing line, took my hat and took off into the bush. I had to run after the little blitter. It was like chasing a dancing red ball through the branches" Mycrofte said whilst making a dancing motion himself mimicking dodging through trees
Miss Amanda was overcome and could not contain the urge to laugh
"Mongoose." she exclaimed.
It was funny but she soon had a weary face. Mycrofte Mulder Lochinvar, why don't you tell me you were out chasing your theories she said to herself.
They reached the gate. He hugged her. She squeezed him tightly and he could feel her warm breath on his chest. She wanted to stay like this but the reality of time meant she soon let go.
They said goodnight
Mycrofte turned to go and walked a few paces then suddenly turned back
"You know I love you right." He had a playful face and had a small smile on his face.
Miss Amanda remained silent for a while then the Matron appeared and called her in
"It's late young man, she should go inside."
As the Matron led her away, she stole a glance back to see Mycrofte waving her away with a smile.
There was quite a buzz in the hallway as golden rays broke through the balcony doors of the upper Senior House, air particles gliding gently in their warmth. The smell of perfume, aftershave and deodorant spray hung heavily in the corridor. The sound of steam puffing out from irons as the boys prepared their crispy white shirts and flattened their golden ties. It was Sunday, the day of the school mass, the day after the dance. The boys were telling tales of their exploits the previous night in quite an electrifying atmosphere that only teenagers can.
"Man did you see me working on that girl, yeah I was the man!" Peter boasted.
"Hey I saw you with a hottie, did you hook up with her."Ronnie asked Kieth
Tendai put in, "Man I met up with Elss at the club, we had a swell time, the honies were all over us. Party over here party over there! But Vance spoiled it for use, he was throwing up all over the place, he did not drink and was forcing it to impress. We had to send him home in a taxi."
Nick was hunched back in the corner, "Man we did not have anything! As soon as we got into town we met Gado and Tapiwa's father. He saw us right before we went into the club and he drove us back here man, how lame is that."
"Lame man, real lame" Tendai commented.
"Hey man you will never guess who I got hooked up with last night, Carrie!" Hastings remarked.
"Stop kidding man, Carrie with the curves and the dimples?" Gado quizzed.
"Yeah, that Carrie," replied Hastings.
"Get outta here." The boys said in unison.
"No I am telling you!" Hastings protested.
Just then Henry rushed into Mycrofte's room only to find him still in bed.
"Why are you not up yet, Sunday Mass is in a few minutes."
"I think I have the fever Henry. I am afraid I can't come for mass." His skin looked pale and humid and he made a sickly cough.
"I will call the captain and tell him."
"Pray, do, do." Mycrofte said flinging his hand.
Presently Henry returned with Richie.
"I heard what Henry told the Senior House Captain and I just had to come here myself and see. Did the embarrassment of Thursday get you into this fever. What a sorry site."
"It is unfair, I could not be sure about that business, please I need to rest."
"Could not be sure indeed," he paused then continued, "I will send someone to call the school nurse."
"That's not necessary, I have my own medication. I have already taken it. All I need is rest for it to take effect."
Mycrofte pointed feebly to a bottle of pills. Richie reached for it, read it and nodded his head.
"Ok, let him rest, he needs to recover from two things now." A grin swept Richie's face, then he turned and left.
"I can stay and make sure you don't get worse."
"No Henry, go. The danger point is past, my temperature has started dropping already, it is quite alright."
"If you say so." Henry said in a half convinced tone.
A few minutes later, the hostel had cleared. Mycrofte lay motionless in his bed.
He lay motionless staring at the creaming white ceiling, eventually the unmistakable ring of the tower bell came thrice to signal the beginning of the mass.
Slowly he crept out and silently walked down the hall and down the stairs. He stopped halfway down when he could see into the hallway of the ground floor.
There he waited. Like an animal of prey waiting to pounce.
A figure appeared from one of the rooms carrying a pile of books, he made way into another room. Two minutes later he emerged with a blue satchel. Mycrofte leaned closer to the stair wall. The figure walked out of the hallway onto the foyer. It was Jumbe!
He made for the door but he found it locked. he was obviously surprised by this. He turned to the other door, it was also locked. Jumbe stood for a moment, hands on waist. He was thinking.
Mycrofte looked earnestly at his watch and looked up again. Jumbe moved to the side window. He tried to push the satchel through but it was too bit. He opened it and passed the books a few at a time.
Mycrofte quickly made his way down the hallway and crept out of the window at the end of the hall way. He raced around to the front of the hostel and took cover behind some bushes. He breathed heavily but trying to as silent as possible and was beginning to somewhat regret all those years of dodging athletics.
Jumbe had finished passing through the books, he forced through the empty satchel. Jumbe them slowly crept through the tiny window.
Mycrofte looked alarmingly across his shoulder towards the chapel then turned back and watched as Jumbe repacked the books into the satchel. He could not afford to wait any longer.
Mycrofte rose from his spot and cried.
Jumbe looked up sharply and sprang to his feet. He threw the half filled satchel into his back and started running off down the side-walk to the road.
Mycrofte was hard upon him but he was soon gasping for breathe.
As he ran, books fell out of his unclosed satchel and he eventually lost the satchel altogether.
From the corner of his eye, Mycrofte saw a mass of people emerge from the chapel. Very soon they would notice the chase and they would join the pursuit Mycrofte thought to himself.
Within seconds Mycrofte was out of breathe and came to a halt. To his relief fresh pursuers quickly surrounded the desperate Jumbe who soon gave up faced by the futility of the effort and fatigue.
They escorted him back to the hostel walkway.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the book thief," Mycrofte uttered between quick draws of breathe.
"The thief is caught already, it was the workman," Richie who had just arrived uttered.
"Alas, it is not so, the workman is guilty of nothing but telling lies."
Mycrofte rushed to the back of the hostel and showed the group the evidence for the workman's innocence in the crime.
"You see, there are no grease marks or any type of soiling on the the sill or window edge where he supposedly crawled through yet the man had greasy hands and work clothes."
"The man had to crawl in, remember until that afternoon this window could only open halfway, Sai can testify to that, a man of his size could only fit in if they crawled through. Yet no mark or stains. If you open the window half way you cannot see inside the room because of the glare so the workman could not have seen the book."
"Your man was coached, He is covering for someone who did it."
"If that is the case, how did you know it was Jumbe?" inquired Tendai
"When the theft was discovered, Farai had not told anyone which of his textbooks had been stolen. Yet when we asked Jumbe here he said and I quote: "I don't know who stole you biology book","
He turned to Jumbe," Interesting combination of words don't you think."
"From that moment on I was set on him. I did not want to alarm him so I made pass of it. Tendai's reaction provided an excellent smoke screen."
Mycrofte turned to Jumbe again.
"You were in a good position to see Farai's hiding place, from across the hallway you could peep into his room from the safety of your room, undisturbed,non suspicious. I watched, oh I watched, 3 days I did. I knew your every move."
Mycrofte paused again.
"So you weren't chasing a hat snatching mongoose last night, you were following him", Henry put in.
Mycrofte smiled,"Only for a short while as the hounds of the caretakers court will testify. I could not pass, I was obviously an intruder to them unlike our man here."
"Which is why I tell you now that, Jumbe here is not your prize, but the one who awaits him to receive the books."
Mycrofte flung his hand in the direction of the scattered books.
"The fact that Jumbe lived so close to Farai and yet he never before that time stole other valuable books from him means this was not his plan. The idea was put in your head by another, you were just a pawn being used, worthless, expendable."
Jumbe remained silent despite Mycrofte's heckling efforts.
" The one who put you up to it. It is Mike!" Mycrofte rebounded.
Jumbe's eyes widened but he immediately regained his composure
The crowd gasped
"Surely not him, you must be mistaken, how did you know that". a voice came
"You are just being vindictive, Mycrofte" said another
"Yeah, we know you and Mike don't get along" Tendai put in.
"Yes you are right, I did not know the shrewd who put him to it but he just told me, by his reaction," Mycrofte put a finger on his lips.
"Up until now I only had an intelligent guess of who the shrewd was. Now I am as sure as can be. Your prize awaits. Jumbe will lead us to him."
"Mike went home yesterday, I saw him leave" Richie put in.
"Yes he left, but did he go home or did he go and stay at the workman's house for the night in plan for the pick up."
"There you go off on your wild theories again." Richie jibbed, "Listen to what you are saying man...Mike slept at a workman's house?...it's laughable."
"Note of all the boys who left yesterday, he is the only one unaccounted for, He was never seen at the club proving he never actually went to town!"
Mycrofte gave an exclamation.
"Quickly repack his satchel and give it to Jumbe and let him lead the way."There is only one thing to do, to prove to the sceptics that Mike is still here. The only way to do that is catch him."
Mycrofte shook his hand as he pointed in the direction of the books as they were picked up.
"Only a few can come with us." He said when the packing was finished, As he turned Mycrofte caught a glimpse of Miss Amanda. She had a look of concern on her face. Miss Amanda looked at Mycrofte and saw a boy pushing himself, He was half drenched in perspiration and his shirt clung to his body as he raved about in an agitated state. She wondered if he could withstand a second public blow. But she could see the grin on his face and she felt calm.
With that the troop of men made down the walkway onto the main road. They soon took a short cut through some short under brush path.
As they rounded a large boulder Mycrofte caught sight of a figure moving ahead, he was sitting on a small rock along a fall in the road. Mycrofte moved back a step and motioned all to stop.
"Is that him?" Richie asked.
Jumbe answered with a nod.
"You go and give him the bag. It is in you best interests to act convincing, it will help reduce the charge against you, you understand that right, man?" Richie said to Jumbe in a deepened voice.
Jumbe gave a whispered answer and walked down the dip . He came up to Mike . They exchanged a few words then Jumbe handed over the satchel.
Mycrofte turned to Richie and gave a winced smile and a half nod. He then rose and shouted
"The game is up Michael Guntai, playboy turned book paddler. You are caught!"
Mike turned and looked up. He made to flee but stopped, frozen by the shock of being surrounded.
Richie and the other prefects quickly apprehended him. Richie started barraging Mike with questions.
"Don't waste your breathe sir. He will not say a word, he is quite the taunting shrewd. I have suffered him and his kind." Mycrofte raised his voice above the banter below.
Henry turned to Mycrofte.
"Talk about come-back man. It was a most interesting episode, my mother will never believe this."
Mycrofte gave a shy nod.
"Its a good thing Farai got his book back, 150 pounds was a lot. But why was the book returned so quickly?" Henry asked.
"The book was hot, The had to get rid of it. It brought attention to their otherwise covert operation. They had stolen all the other books without detection, they were not going to risk that even for 150 pounds." Microfte explained.
"But why not simply just leave the book rather than having a rouse?"
"He couldn't just leave the book, it would make the authorities more curious, he needed someone to take responsibility and make the authorities relax their scrutiny thinking they got their man."
Mycrofte turned, "And I believe he had succeeded." he said whilst looking at Richie who turned sharply and walked away with Mike clasped tightly at the arm.
"You make it sound so simple when you explain it, but one more thing why did the workman play the rouse, he got fired for that, why?"
"That, we will never know, Jumbe was just the carrier therefore did not know, Mike the planner, did and I fear he will never tell and the only other person who knew left the college grounds on Friday."
Mycrofte breathed the fresh air as they walked back to to the campus. He raised his nose and silently sniffed the aromas of the flora. he was in a state of bliss, the sun shining golden rays on his damp face.
"It is a good day."