The ghost had again returned! At least this was what I first thought, but on closer inspection I could see that his dress was not so old-fashioned and that the bottom of his trouser legs were dirty and wet.
"Who are you?" he asked. I introduced myself, adding I was to teach music at the college and was acting as caretaker. His face remained passive, but I could see his mind ticking over. "I'd forgotten the college had employed someone." He finally said. "I am Oliver Blake." He smiled suddenly, showing very white teeth. "Call me Oliver." He had an air of arrogance and seemed very capable. He came over and shook my hand, and in doing so, steered me towards the direction of the house. "Well, I have returned. Just back on the London train. I sent a taxi on to the house with my luggage. I like walking and after being cooped up in that damnable train carriage, I felt the need to stretch my legs." He took a deep breath. "It's important to keep active you know." He stopped suddenly. His gaze had alighted upon a crow, atop the boundary wall. Picking up a stone, he threw it with all his might and with an obvious skill. It missed, grazing the bird, which frightened took flight. I heard him blaspheme under his breath. Then he looked at me smiling brightly. "Fresh carcass for my experiments." He looked at me quizzically. "Have you met Mrs Stanton? I dare say she's told you about my experiments." He grinned, "absolutely hates them."
By now, we were within view of the house, and his stride quickened. All this time I had been feeling gauche and awkward in his presence. It reminded me of being at school among other boys who were good at sports when I wasn't. This Oliver was good looking and athletic and had the demeanour of one who knew it. In comparison I felt closeted and bookish.
Later at my desk in the sitting room there was a knock at the door. Oliver poked his head in. "Not disturbing am I?" As he said this he proceeded to walk into the room. Irritated at the interruption, I opened my mouth to say I had a lot of work to do, but I didn't get the chance. "Tonight I'll be having some guests. I just thought you should know. Don't want to disturb you or anything. They'll arrive after dinner." He paused. "On second thoughts, why don't you join us?"
"I'm not very good at card games."
"Cards? Oh. Well, yes, I suppose there may be some card playing. Just not the sort you're thinking of. I tell you what, why don't you come along and see if you like it, and if you don't that's fine, you can leave. I just thought I'd do the polite thing and invite you too." His last sentence was said with an air of frustration, as if he was trying to be friendly and I was the proverbial stick in the mud. To decline now would seem ungracious. I nodded my head in assent. "Great! Well I'll leave you to it then." As he left his eyes swept the room. It may have been my imagination, but they appeared to hover for a moment upon the wing chair.