This is the fourteenth part of a fiction serial, in 755 words.
Roger was still looking at the diamond when Emily came into the room. She looked very tired, and her skin was pale.
“Will that suffice, Mister Gale? My guardian assures me that it is a very good payment.”
He nodded, and she sat down on the sofa next to him.
“So you are going to give me extra tuition? I am very interested in the world wars, one and two. Can you help me with those periods in history?”
He assured her that he could, but that neither subject was part of the current curriculum.
“That doesn’t matter. I do not seek academic achievement, I only want to research the periods. Are you happy to talk to me about the after effects of the first world war, and the rise of the right in Germany, Spain, and other countries like Italy leading up to 1939?” He nodded again, and she produced a notebook. “In your own time, Mister Gale”.
For more than two hours, pausing occasionally to allow her to catch up with her notes, Roger described the near collapse of Germany in the years following the end of World War One. He went on to give an overview of the Italian invasion of Abyssinia, and Mussolini’s popularity in Italy. He followed that with a precis of Republican Spain, and the invasion by the Nationalists led by Franco and his Moorish army.
During his virtual monologue, Emily took notes feverishly, and Yamada stared out of the window, occasionally sipping what smelled to Roger like good cognac.
Before Emily called a halt to the extra class, he had covered the Flu pandemic in 1918, the International Brigades and the defeat of the Republic in Spain, the rise of Hitler’s Nazi Party in Germany, and the Fascist takeover in Italy. He told her he would go into more detail in future lessons.
Emily appeared to be delighted.
“You have a great knowledge of the subject, Mister Gale. I will be looking forward to exploring other historical periods during the year. You do of course know that you are not to discuss this in school, or with your colleagues?” Roger told her that it would be their secret. “When you come again next week, I would like to know much more about the conflict between England and Scotland, leading to Cullodden. Is that something you can help me with?
He was confused about why she wanted to cover so many different eras, but assured her that he could help with the Jacobite rebellion. He had been there for almost three hours when Emily stood up.
“Thank you for your help, Sir. It has been extremely useful”.
With that, she left the room. Yamada offered more coffee and a snack, but Roger declined. He was cursing himself for not asking more questions of both of them, but pleased that he had made a good impression, and had been asked to come back. He was also more than happy with the diamond offered as payment.
Taking his leave, he shook Yamada’s hand and said he would be back next week.
His next destination was Delia’s house.
Her eyes lit up when she saw the large diamond. “Wow! That’s worth a lot of money, more than Yamada suggested, I’m sure. I know what my husband paid for some of my jewellery before he died, and that was years ago. What else did you find out? Did you get any sense of their life, or why Emily is so clever?”
All Roger could really tell her was that Yamada and Emily did not seem to have a very close connection. They hadn’t spoken to each other all the time he had been there, and the guardian had not become involved in the lesson in any way. Obviously, Emily was hungry for knowledge, and understood some complex political issues far more than most eleven year- olds would, but they already knew that she was intelligent beyond her years.
One thing had stood out though, and it reminded him of what Millicent had told them about Erika Richter. Emily definitely appeared to be in control. Yamada seemed more like an employee, than a parent. He admitted to Delia that he had been reluctant to ask any personal questions, and hadn’t mentioned the confusion over the death of her parents.
Delia was reassuring. “You will get to that in good time, my love. I’m sure their barriers will break down once they get used to your visits.
Although he wasn’t so sure about that, he agreed anyway.