This is the twelfth part of a fiction serial, in 750 words.
The day before the half-term break, Roger managed to get Emily alone in the class for a few moments. He asked her how it was that she was able to do so well on an exam paper designed for much older children, on a subject he hadn’t taught her. Her reply was matter-of-fact.
“I study History because I enjoy it, Mister Gale. Not just the period you teach us at the moment, but every aspect of History. I hope to go on to study it at university. I have lots of books and encyclopedias, and I have been lucky enough to take trips to some historical sites too. Is that all?”
She was certainly uncannily self-assured for someone so young, and had not hesitated to answer his question, betraying no concern that he had asked it. Perhaps she was simply a prodigy? If so, she had a bright future ahead of her. But something was still niggling away in Roger’s belly.
It just didn’t feel right.
Delia had some suggestions for how they could spend the weekend. Although the pupils and teaching staff had a full week off for half term, administrative and secretarial staff had to work normal hours during half-term, and also go back earlier before the end of the longer summer break.
“You know they hire out boats on the lake, my darling? I thought we could take a picnic and rent a boat on Sunday afternoon. Yamada’s house might be screened from the road by metal gates, but it backs onto the lake, so there’s a chance we might see something from the water”. Roger hadn’t thought of that, and agreed immediately. He could take along his wartime binoculars that he had been left in an uncle’s will.
The old-fashioned two-seater motor boats only moved along at a sedate pace. Delia had left the picnic basket in the car with a large tartan blanket, so they could eat on the grass by the lake after they got back. By getting there early, Roger had been the first to hire a boat, and was pleased to discover it was easy enough to drive, with a steering wheel just like a car.
He knew nothing about boats.
After cruising up and down aimlessly for forty minutes, with Delia constantly kissing him as he managed the unfamiliar controls, Roger brought the boat to a halt opposite the back of Yamada’s house, about fifty feet east of the back garden. Lifting the heavy binoculars as the boat drifted slowly, he could see that the back of the house was all glass, and unlike the front, it was not obscured from the rear view. Delia’s guess had been good. But the weather wasn’t sunny, so nobody was outside. Concentrating hard, he foucused on being able to see through the huge glass windows into the living room. But there was no sign of either Yamada or Emily.
They had to settle for the picnic in a cool breeze on the grass near the car park, and admit failure. Then he drove Delia home and took her upstairs to reward her for her initiative. After all, it wasn’t her fault that they hadn’t shown themselves.
Over a light dinner that evening, they talked about what they could do next. Well Delia did most of the talking.
“Since Yamada hasn’t mentioned anything about us turning up in London, I reckon you ought to contact him and ask to talk to him at the Lakeside house. You can say it is to discuss extra tuition for Emily because she is so clever, or that you are concerned she might be cheating. I can get his home number from the office, and nobody would need to know you have spoken to him. You need to get inside the house, get him off guard, then ask him the pertinent questions. If he was going to complain to the headmaster, he would have done that before half-term, so he is not likely to complain if you visit him at home showing some genuine interest in Emily’s future”.
Roger liked her train of thought. Yamada had said Emily was in good hands, so if he offered extra tuition free of charge, chaperoned of course, it might be a way to get on the inside. Once he was accepted, he could slowly ask more probing questions and hopefully get to the root of the mystery. He turned to Delia and smiled.
He would do it as soon as term resumed.