After Hilary term they celebrated Easter. Sarah found time to study hard, and again Professor Stanford was delighted with her progress. Oxford in the Trinity term was shimmering in beauty: sunlight on old stone, gardens ablaze, immaculate lawns and the intoxicating smell of summer. Sarah, delighting in the finery of the city, loved going down to the river in the afternoons to watch the rowing. Eights Week, a week of rowing races was coming up, and the Sherborne eight were really promising.
Eights Week was a gilded carnival, of colour and laughter and the excitement of the bumps. All Oxford seemed to throng to the river for this highlight of the year. Sarah loved every minute, especially as Sherborne College did well.
All too soon, however, it would be time to travel. After a last time in the lovely worship of the chapel, she had to start preparing what she would take to India; not her clothes, for Aunt Caroline would see to those, packing in new cool dresses and hats for the very hot climate. She selected particular Latin and Greek and Hebrew texts and text books, for she was determined to surprise Uncle Alexander when she got back. On a whim she also packed her black wig.
On Tuesday she would be taken to Southampton with her new companion and tutor, Miss Brice, and put on the ship to sail for India. Miss Brice had been chosen by Aunt Caroline from several possible companions because she felt that Miss Brice would not get in the way of Sarah’s outgoing and adventurous nature. She seemed pleasant and easy going, and had modest accomplishments in French, Maths and English, enough to help Sarah learn more.
Sarah still had very mixed feelings – sadness at leaving her aunt and uncle, some trepidation at the thought of seeing here parents after such a long time: and a sense of adventure at the thought of a new country. At the same time she was desperate to keep hunting for the lost treasure. Her dreams of a circular stone staircase still led her to think the treasure might be in Palmer’s Tower, but that was always locked. She tried Jack the porter again.
‘Please Jack,’ she asked, ‘have you found a key to Palmer’s Tower?
‘Well miss,’ he said, ‘I can’t say as I has. But I will keep looking for you.’
‘Thank you Jack,’ she said, ‘Please keep looking, and I shall keep asking.’
And that was that; now she would be going away without having explored Palmer’s Tower. Still, she would return in just a few months, so she could get back to this quest.
At that final and very moving service in the chapel, Sarah had a great sense of a calling, a destiny even, that she had a role to find that sacred treasure and restore it to the great benefit of Sherborne College. She would keep thinking about it while she was away.
After a touching farewell to her aunt and uncle, Sarah and Miss Brice were taken off to Southampton and the beginning of a new adventure.