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Professor Wright and Tatiana Vorontsova
On prose and the incidence of coincidence.
Tue Mar 27, 2018 15:52

Gray looked at the paper one more time, just to ensure that what was before him had not changed. It had not changed, and so he sighed as he looked back up from the paper and to its alleged author.

“I’m sorry to interrupt your afternoon, Tatiana,” he said slowly and clearly to the second year girl he had summoned. “But there’s a problem with your test.”

Tatiana frowned. “Problem,” she repeated.

“Do you know what that means?” asked Gray, another potential problem with this conversation occurring to him.

“Yes,” said Tatiana, now impatiently, waving as though to dismiss him. “I know problem - we have problem too. What problem? I make very good that test.”

This statement, awkward grammar and all, was delivered with utter confidence. Perhaps she was trying to bluff? Or maybe she really didn’t think she had done anything wrong? Comparing the documents to her other tests had revealed a similar level of knowledge reflected. The problem was everything else about it.

“You did,” he said, beginning with the positive. “You did very well on this test.” He spoke even more deliberately, emphasizing his words there, hoping she’d pick up on the grammar with more repetition. He understood why the international students had formed the heart of a clique, but sometimes he didn’t think it really did them much good practically. “The problem is that it looks like you used a quill that writes for you on the test.”

Tatiana frowned. “I did not,” she said clearly.

“Then can you explain this?” he asked, handing her her paper - a paper which, though the handwriting did mostly look like Tatiana’s English script, was completely devoid of spelling errors, Cyrllic characters, and bizarre grammar. It even had her legal name on it, a concession to American sensibilities Tatiana had never made in writing that Gray had noticed. Tatiana’s frown deeped as she read it.

“I no write this,” she said flatly. She looked back at Gray, almost suspiciously, so far as he could tell around the blank canvas she presented to all but her little group of friends and that one time she’d apparently understood and appreciated a joke Gray had told the class. “Is a - funny?” she asked. “You think - that it is funny, show me this?”

“No,” said Gray. “I don’t.” She seemed to relax a little. “But it’s the only test paper submitted with your name on it, Tatiana, and I know you were here for the test. You took it and handed in a paper. And you know that quills that write for you aren’t allowed on exams.” There were a tiny number of exceptions, all involving paperwork, to that rule, but Tatiana didn’t qualify for one of them - the idea was that the anti-cheating quills used in CATS were stringent enough that it was best for students with difficulties to learn to write independently as much as possible in case the request for special accommodation for CATS was rejected. Quality of the prose wasn’t a major factor on those anyway - they were relentlessly practical exams.

“I not write this!” said Tatiana sharply, throwing the paper down on his desk. Her light blue-green eyes were sparkling with indignation. “I not have quill! I take test, I not write stupid Amerikanskoe nazvanie. Ya Vorontosva. Vy ponimaete? Menya zovut Tat’yana Vorontsova. Ya ne pisal eto - “

“Tatiana,” interrupted Gray. “I can’t understand you.”

“I am not write this,” said Tatiana.

“In which case you’ll need to retake it.”

“Yes! You give quill, now! I show.” Tatiana stuck her hand out imperiously, not seeming to realize that this amounted to a detention to do overdue work. He decided not to enlighten her. She seemed incredibly sincere, and after all that had happened this year...he was starting to doubt she actually had cheated, though that was the explanation that made the most sense. Nothing else made so much sense this year, so why should Tatiana?

“Not right now,” said Gray. “I’ll need to write another test. But I will provide you a quill to take it with.”

Strange, he’d thought, that it would turn out that the very thing he had wanted - Tatiana’s test paper to prove easier to score than he had expected - had materialized before him. That she’d cheat the very week he was particularly reluctant to deal with the most difficult papers due to an early-onset form of seasonal laziness...just as it had been odd, all those straws appearing at breakfast when he’d wanted a straw. He looked back at the paper and for a moment wondered if he had somehow charmed it himself. The only thing wrong with that idea was that it would have been accidental magic, and he was hardly young or old enough for that….

    • You have incurred my wrathDorian Montoir, Wed Apr 4 10:32
      (OOC - posted directly under here for neatness but this library thread takes place between this post and the one above). It mattered to Tatya that he was doing this. And it mattered to him too.... more
      • Right, then. Okay....Professor Wright, Thu Apr 5 18:59
        Students actually taking advantage of the existence of office hours was not unheard of, but nor was it something which happened with astonishing frequency. As a result, Gray had just decided it was... more
        • No! It is wrong and not okay!Dorian, Fri Apr 6 07:47
          “But she tells me already,” Dorian assured the professor, his tone calm and factual. He could understand that teachers couldn’t just discuss students with other students in general, but he already... more
          • Let’s just take a step back, shall we?Professor Wright, Wed Apr 11 16:42
            Well. Dorian did seem to know the facts of the case, sure enough. Gray was not convinced this actually changed his position any, but at least he could honestly say that he had said no such things to... more
            • A look of anger passed across Dorian’s face at the suggestion Tatya had done more than correct her spelling, and he hastily lowered his gaze, knowing that looking angrily at a teacher was crossing a... more
              • ...CoolProfessor Wright, Sun Apr 15 17:41
                Depends which philosopher you ask. Well, that had to be one of the more interesting sentences a second year had ever produced, at least in Gray’s presence. He certainly would not have produced it as... more
                • And not about these bits of paperDorian, Mon Apr 16 06:49
                  Professor Wright said that he was ‘afraid’ twice without looking like he was actually at all scared, and which was a very odd reaction to some bits of paper, and a very odd thing for a teacher to... more
                  • I think we will have to touch on them.Professor Wright, Mon Apr 16 15:12
                    Dorian’s explanation – or explanation of inability to explain – of what had just happened scattered its tenses far and wide, its verb patterns even further, and yet Gray sort of wished it had been... more
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