A Victorian Advisor

A Victorian Advisor

Dowager Countess Lady Violet Crawley

On Which I Imagine Myself a Victorian-style Advisor After Reading Too Many Anne Perry Mysteries

The departmental administrative assistant knocked at the door of Lady Mo’s office and entered the room.

“M’advisor, a gentleman student is here to see you. His card says his name is Mr. Smith and that he has an appointment.”

“Thank you, Eliza. Please make sure his comfortable in the waiting hall. I shall need to finish this letter and then you may show him in within 15 minutes,” replied Lady Mo, Senior Advisoress and Wrangler of Wayward Students.

In precisely 15 minutes, Eliza returned with Mr. Smith following her.

“Good morning, Mr. Smith. Do be good enough to come in and sit down and remove your coat. You seem more than a little wet.”

Mr. Smith removed the wet garment with pleasure and hung it upon the nearby coat rack. Then he arranged himself on the chair in front of the advisor’s desk so that could better avail himself to the heat from the ceiling vent. “Thank you, ma’am,” he said, obviously relishing the warmth.

“Now then, Mr. Smith, I understand that you have come for assistance with your upcoming spring semester. Is that correct?”

“Yes, m’advisor.” He reached into his waist pocket and withdrew a folded parchment. He unfolded it, revealing a degree plan upon which he had written his previous classes and handed it to Lady Mo.

Lady Mo laid the parchment upon her desk and smoothed it out carefully. She peered over her spectacles at it, absorbing the crudely written information.

“M’advisor, I would like to take statistics II for the spring semester as well as Principles of Management and Painting.” He sounded quite pleased with his choices.

“Why Mr. Smith, whatever would you want to take Painting for? You aim to be a business man and take over your father’s haberdashery, is that not so? Painting is typically taken by those ladies whose fathers have provided for them such as Haris Pilton,” she sniffed a bit disdainfully. “Painting provides them with something to occupy their time besides purchasing new outfits and attending social gatherings.”

Mr. Smith looked down at his work-worn hands. “M’advisor, Lady Applebosom has mentioned that she will be taking that class in the spring. I should like to have the opportunity to spend some time with her.”

Lady Mo restrained a snort. Although Lady Applebosom was indeed fair with skin as white as cream, she was the daughter of Sir Ronald Frump, Archduke of Frump Towers, and would never deign to seriously talk with Mr. Smith. Even if she did so, it was highly improper and cause nothing but trouble and scandal.

“Mr. Smith, I am afraid your attention to Lady Applebosom is quite inappropriate. Additionally, according to your degree plan you have already taken your electives.”

“But m’advisor, my heart yearns for her. She is all I can think of.” He colored in his earnestness.

“All the more reason you should not take a class with her. You should be focusing your attention upon your classes, young man. Your father has paid good money for you to attend our school and learn to take over his business. He did not pay to have you moon over some lady above your station. I don’t mean to be harsh, but it is better that you acknowledge that. Now, I think our time would be better spent sorting out the rest of your schedule, don’t you?” Lady Mo said rather sharply.

She focused on the Principles of Management. “Now, this is a perfectly lovely choice and fits rather well with your degree plan.” She looked over the schedule on the screen in front of her.  “I see there is an 8 o’clock class on Mondays and one at 5 pm on Thursdays, Mr. Smith. Do you have a preference?”

“If I could take the 5 pm slot, m’advisor, I would be most grateful. I must work in the shop in the mornings. A 5 pm class would fit quite nicely and still allow me to return home in time to take supper with the family.”

“Certainly,” Lady Mo said, writing the appropriate codes on Mr. Smith’s advising sheet. “There. Let us take a look at this statistics class.” She peered at the screen once again and then back to the degree plan lying upon her desk. She frowned slightly, creases forming around the circle of her mouth.

“First, Mr. Smith, statistics is not even offered in the spring. Did you look at the schedule as you were instructed to do?”

Mr. Smith examined the floor in front of him.

“I thought not. Secondly, although you have marked that you received a B in statistics I, the computer shows that your grade was a D.  A D is not satisfactory to move on to statistics II. You will need to take the class over,” she said sternly.

“That will put me back from graduation a year!” Mr. Smith protested vehemently.

“Mr. Smith, I would ask you not to raise your voice to me. It is impertinent and I shall not tolerate it. Shall I call Student Affairs?” Lady Mo demanded, unwilling to deal with such boorish behavior.

“No ma’am. I apologize. I should not have shouted. I am disappointed in myself and will be a disappointment to my father as well,” he said with a crestfallen face.

Lady Mo could see how deeply the thought struck him and her heart softened. She knew how difficult it could be to live up to one’s parents’ expectations. She tapped away on the computer for a few minutes. Then she announced she had found a solution that would allow Mr. Smith to graduate on time with a few adjustments and a little additional work on Mr. Smith’s part.

“Will that be satisfactory, Mr. Smith?”

“Yes, certainly, m’advisor,” Mr. Smith agreed readily, relief and gratitude in his young voice.

Lady Mo handed him his advising slip with codes. Mr. Smith received the slip and stood. “Thank you, ma’am, for all of your assistance. I shall endeavor to stay on the course you have so carefully plotted for me.”

“See that you do, Mr. Smith, and instead of spending useless time thinking about Lady Applebosom, you might consider acquainting yourself with Miss Apronworthy. I believe she would be most pleased to hear from you,” Lady Mo replied, a slight smile playing at her lips. She knew the young woman fancied Mr. Smith and it would be a good match.

Mr. Smith took his coat and slip and nodding, slipped out of the door.

Before Lady Mo could settle into her papers, Eliza was fluttering at the door, her normally rosy face white and peaked.

“Eliza, whatever is the matter?” she asked sharply. This fluttering was most unseemly in an administrative assistant.

“Oh ma’am, it is only that the Dean of the College is her and wishes to see you.”

Heavens, thought Lady Mo. This is most unexpected. Deans seldom called upon advisors except upon rare and serious occasions.

“Well don’t stand there fluttering, Eliza. Show him to the conference room and let him know that I shall be there shortly. Then bring us some tea and cakes.” She rose, smoothing any wrinkles from her suit. She would need to keep her wits firmly about her as the Dean was a bit eccentric. Lady Mo recalled what she knew about him. She had heard he was fond of racquetball and that he often made witty if somewhat questionably appropriate remarks. He was, however, a ranking faculty member at the university and one must overlook quirks in one’s superiors that one would not overlook in a peer. She took a deep breath before walking to the conference room to discover why the Dean had called upon her.

To Be Continued…Maybe

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Photo credit.

You might also enjoy Mo’s 12 Days of Advising or her New Year’s Resolutions for Higher Education.

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