This is the ninth part of a fiction serial, in 845 words.
On his way home from Delia’s, Roger was fuming. Sonia had run to the headmaster and told on him, and she might have asked around the other teachers before doing that, to offer a more convincing complaint. Delia had done well to find out about the other school, and the different guardian. It would be easy to jump to conclusions about some connection between Sonia and the Richter woman because they were both German, but something told him that was only a coincidence.
He had one more teacher to talk to about Emily. Her Science teacher, Siobhan Connolly. She was one of the new breed of teachers. She had long fair hair, wore trendy clothes, and let the older pupils call her by her first name. She also had a lot of new ideas about Science, and how it would change everyone’s life before the end of the century. Naturally, most of the other staff members had little time for her. The women seemed to be jealous of her good looks and massive self-confidence, and the men knew that she was out of their league in terms of dating, or illicit affairs.
Ignoring the headmaster’s warning, he approached her the next afternoon when school was over for the day.
She listened politely to his usual questions about Emily being so advanced academically, then smiled as she replied. “Well, I have to agree that she is very different to the rest of her class. She grasps the subject well, and her homework is of a very high standard. But I think she’s a fake, and is being helped by someone outside of the school. Her work is so far advanced compared to the rest of her year, she couldn’t possibly be that clever. At some stage, I was going to confront her about it, but until you mentioned it, nobody else has remarked about her. Then again, most of them are just here for the salary”.
Roger asked Siobhan to wait before making an issue of it. Trying not to give too much away, he reminded her that Emily was in his form, and that he was already in the process of trying to look into the reasons why Emily was so good at everything. She shrugged. “Okay with me. I don’t really want to stir up a hornet’s nest. After all, I’m the new girl, so I am happy to leave you to it”.
Delia phoned him after dinner, and by the tone of her voice he knew she was pleased with herself.
“How do you fancy a day trip into London on Saturday, my love? I have chatted to the school secretary from St Saviour’s again, and she has agreed to meet us to talk about Emily. She also believes that the Richter woman might still be at the same address, and I see no reason why we shouldn’t call on her while we are there. I said we would meet her in the Little Venice cafe at two on Saturday afternoon. You could stop over on Friday night. I will make you something nice for dinner”.
After agreeing to both the meeting and stopping over on Friday, Roger had to face the fact that he was actually becoming quite attached to Delia.She had left him in no doubt how much she liked him, and her interaction with him was so different to what he had known from his wife Diana. In every way possible. Added to that, she was actively trying to help him, interested in why he was doing it, and she had asked nothing from him.
The woman was already in the cafe when they got there. He had found somewhere to park a few minute’s walk from the cafe, which was situated on a road bridge over the junction of the Regent’s Canal and The Grand Union canal, in a very desirable district of London. It was also very close to the address where they might find the Richter woman.
Her name was Millicent Pugh, and she had a Welsh accent to go with her surname. Probably forty-something, dressed in a decade-old style and timid-looking, she reminded Roger of a librarian, and had made Delia aware that she was a Miss, so unmarried. She kept rotating her teacup on its saucer as she spoke.
“I never took to Emily. I mean, it sounds horrible to say that about such a young child, I know. But there was something strange about her from the start. When they came in to arrange her coming to the school, she was talking in German to Mrs Richter. But like an adult talks to another adult, you know what I mean? Not a like a child to a guardian, especially a woman of fifty-odd who looked very stern. If I had to sum it up, I would say Emily was in charge. Now I know you’re going to think that’s crazy, but then you have driven all this way to see me, so it’s best to know the truth”.
Delia leaned forward. “Tell us more, Milly”.