The River Runs Deep – Episode 01

“Please, say something, man! Just so I know you’re alive!”

Pain shot through Sergeant Greene’s arm muscles again. He had the heavy, limp figure of the man by the armpits. He could hold the head out of the water, against his own chest, but not for much longer. He couldn’t seem to get the two of them up on to the bank.

“I think he’s turning blue!” Greene was exhausted, his bare legs kicking in the cold, black water. He was alone in the river at dusk, except for the unconscious man.

Willows overhung the Cherwell here, but no branch was low enough for him to reach.

“The side,” he hissed, his mouth half full of water. “Where’s the side of the river?”

His feet groped for what ought to have been the steep underwater bank, but there was only more water. It seemed that the river, for ever flowing to the sea, had hollowed out a groove under the grassy slope. It was a thin pretence at dry land.

The man’s jacket, boots, high shirt collar and waistcoat were all waterlogged. Thank goodness, Terence thought, he’d ditched his uniform on the bank and dived in only his leggings. But how many pounds of tweed, flannel and linen were dragging them both to the bottom? Only 10 feet away, a punt which the man must have been using banged angrily against a tree trunk, on its back like a beetle overturned by a child.


A quarter of a mile away, an argument was going on outside the Porters Lodge of St Hilda’s Incorporated College.

“I don’t see how you can be patient, Miss Foster!” A young woman with a mass of fine, brown curls stood facing her teacher, her chin forward and her felt hat in constant motion. “You’ve been here for years, and still they will not award a woman a degree!”

Miss Foster’s voice was controlled.

“For now, we study. In time, we ”

“Study, fiddlesticks!” Ruth Rutherford stamped her small foot on the cobbles.

“I beg your pardon.” Miss Foster noticed the porter looking hard at them from behind his counter.

“I’m sorry.” Ruth sighed. “But I am not content to read in a ‘hall of study’. I wish to be in a college, to be an undergraduate, and to get a degree. Is it so much to ask?”

Miss Foster smiled.

“You will find that it is. Now, go for a walk. Divert that mathematical mind of yours. In my experience, walking calms a woman down. Especially a young woman such as you.”


In the river, with darkness coming, Terence Greene analysed the situation as he kicked. This young puntsman, if he wasn’t dead yet, would certainly have been if Terence hadn’t been passing on his beat a beat rarely trodden, at that. How had this man ended up here, alone, in this dangerous side channel? Every local knew that the Cherwell’s beauty hid terrible dangers.

“My, my, Smith-Bridger, what’s this?” A male voice wafted to Terence on the breeze.

“A pile of clothes, Brownlow, old man. Remarkable,” another voice replied.

“Gracious me!” the first exclaimed, a little closer now. “Here’s a helmet!”

“Good lord, a bobby taking a swim! What would the Dean say?”

They were tipsy. That was clear to the exhausted sergeant.

“For goodness’ sake, help me!” he shouted. “We’ll die in this river!”


Used to make posts more anonymous, eg a criminal case where you don’t want to expose the actual journalist.