The Spike or Victoria University College Review June 1926
Who is Responsible?
Who is Responsible?
I am a recent arrival at this noble institute of learning. A few days ago—last Thursday, to be precise, five days before midwinter day, Thursday in the coldest week of the year—I was suddenly afflicted with an urgent desire to participate in the pleasures of the Library, about which I had heard so much. Divesting myself of my hat, greatcoat, and several large woolly scarves, and armed with a fountain pen and an air of studious intent, I betook myself to that hall of industry. Pushing the door open, I stepped inside.
Good heavens! What a terrible spectacle greeted my eyes! A whirlwind hurling dust, mortar, bricks and glass in its train, not to mention innumerable books, was roaring round the Library. On the Royal dais the ruler of that realm lay, cold and stiff, pinned beneath Webster's Dictionary, which had evidently caught him on the wing. Even as I stood, transfixed with horror, two of those magnificent hanging lamps collided in mid-air, and glass shot in every direction, with a fearful crash. As my eyes grew accustomed to the dust I could faintly descry half a dozen other corpses lying about. What nobility! what intellects! what idealism! must have been theirs, that, perishing at their post, they should have thus given their youth and beauty to the great cause of learning! Meditating on their heroic sacrifice, I was suddenly brought to earth by a terrific blow on the chest as an ink bottle heaved itself and its vicious contents at me, and with a bowed head streaming with tears and ink, I struggled to the door.
On my hasty passage to the Chemistry Laboratory to see whether there was any known antidote for ink, I encountered two of those Sublimities who sit upon the Professorial Board. I rushed up to them, forgetting my inferior position, and enquired whether they had seen the catastrophic events in the Library. "I beg your pardon? The Library? Yes, I believe they are removing the window,"I was told, in supercilious tones.
"But it is mid-winter! Why, the place is full of corpses!" I remonstrated.
"That is interesting! Kirk will be pleased to get hold of them! But, of course, you know it is nothing to do with us." So, with an air of superior aloofness they passed on.
Rushing round the corner, half blind with anger, I inadvertently fell over Mr. Brook and his broom.
"The Library?" said he, shaking his venerable head. "I can see that's where you come from! Cruel hard on the students, that's what I think. You understand, of course, that it's nothing to do with me? "His words floated after me as I was nearing the glass door leading into the Chemistry Laboratory. A peculiar chill shivered down the thirty-three vertebrae of my spinal-column, and with a sudden shrinking I stopped. There came a hiss like the whistle of wind round an iceberg. "S-s-s-s-s-s stop! D-d-d-d-d-d-don't c-c-c-c-c-come in," and there in the corridor stood a beautiful girl, with cheeks of a delicate ivory, corpse-like green—the same ghastly hue, in fact, as that which some deity page 23 ordained should taint the walls of our lofty lecture rooms.
"I am the only one left," she murmured, '"The rest are frozen—frozen at the balances, frozen at the bench—all, all are frozen! I, too, am fro— . . ." but leaping through the door, I dragged her out, just in time. Carrying her to the Women's Common Room and placing her gently on a sofa, I belaboured her vigorously with cushions, and she soon recovered sufficiently to be able to tell me how the heaters had then been off for two days in the Science Wing.
With a bleeding heart I rushed for pen and ink, and hastily composed this letter, hoping that it would not be too late for publication.
And now, dear "Spike," can you tell me—Who is Responsible? Who will be answerable to the grief-stricken parents for all those bright young lives? With apologies for taking up so much of your valuable space,—I am, etc.,