This is the eighth part of a fiction serial, in 757 words.
Delia was on the phone to him that evening before he had time to start making his dnner.
“Well, so far I have been able to discover that there is a birth certificate that shows Emily Hartmann was born in London. There is a record of it on her application form to come to the school, along with the serial number. I cannot find out anything about her parents drowning yet. America is a big country, so I have no idea which newspapers to telephone. However, her guardian Riku Yamada listed a home address different to the one here, as they only took that house once they moved here permanently this year. That address was Maida Avenue, in a very expensive part of London. So I telehoned the local education authority for that area early this morning, and made a routine enquiry about Emily. They said they would get back to me, and they did”.
There was a long pause when Delia could be heard flicking through some papers.
“She attended school near there from the age of eight, at St Saviour’s School. I rang the school secretary, and she remembers her. She said she had a guardian, as her parents had been killed in a road accident in Germany. But the guardian’s name was not Yamada, it was Richter, and it was a woman. The secretary also recalled that she was very intelligent, enough to make some of the teachers query her real age. That’s definitely strange, Roger darling, not to say suspicious”.
Roger thanked her for her efforts, and agreed to go to her house on Friday evening after work to talk it all through. After the headmaster’s visit, it was not something that could be discussed at school.
Not bothering with a proper dinner, he prepared some crackers and cheese and opened a bottle of Blue Nun. He felt jubilant, redeemed. There was something not right about the girl, and his assumptions had been correct.
Two days later, Roger did something he had never done before in all his years of teaching. He prepared a history test paper for the class, but changed the questions on the one he would hand to Emily. He deliberately included some very hard questions on subjects he had not covered yet, as well as changing some real dates and names. For the rest of the children, he left it at their expected standard, so hopefully none of them would realise Emily had a different paper. He was going to give the test on Friday, and watch them write the answers.
On the day, there were the usual raised eyebrows and theatrical groans when he announced the test. Walking round the class handing out the typed sheets, he made sure to have Emily’s in the right place when he got to her desk. It always seemed there was someone different siting next to her, and it dawned on him that it was usually the last to arrive who had no option but to share her desk. This time it was Alan Holt, a boy whose father was in the army. He wanted to be a soldier too, so considered having to learn anything was superfluous to his ambition. He was unlikey to notice Emily’s different paper.
Emily’s hand was up halfway into the allotted time of forty-five minutes. Roger collected her paper and took it to his desk. Not only had she got one hundred percent correct, she had also changed the wrong dates, and corrected the names. He knew full well that the kids he taught in sixth form would have struggled with that paper, and they were all seventeen.
By the time he got to Delia’s house that evening, he was excited. As soon as she opened the door, he started rambling on about what he had done, and how he was convinced that the girl was some kind of genius, a prodigy. Despite her physical appearance, he was also convinced she was older than she looked.
Delia had other things on her mind. “Let’s go upstairs before dinner, my love. I have really missed you since last Sunday morning. It is so annoying, not being able to let on at work that we are a couple”.
She wanted her reward, and Roger paid in full.
Over the meal later, he asked Delia if she knew who had complained to the headmaster, causing Stephen Hoare to issue his warning. She smiled at her new flame.
“Of course I do, sweetheart. It was that German bitch, Sonia Reiss”.