The Schoolmaster’s Daughter — Episode 26


AFTER a picnic lunch on the beach, and a ride on the new electric tram, Edward led them into the glass-roofed conservatory, where they marvelled at the palm trees and exotic plants.

Then they went to the circus to watch the flying trapeze and acrobats performing tricks on horseback.

When they had taken tea, with Edith allowed to choose the fanciest cake, they all walked to the pier and marvelled at the long structure that stretched out into the sea.

“The pier is higher than I thought it would be,” Louisa said to Stephen as they stood side by side, looking over the railings at the water below.

“You’re not afraid, I hope?”

“Not at all.” She smiled as the warm breeze caressed her face and a few stray golden hairs tickled her cheeks. “It’s exhilarating.”

“When I was growing up,” Stephen replied, “I used to like standing on the beach watching the sea disappear over the horizon. It gave me a sense of peace.”

“I understand what you mean. It’s so calming – even with all this activity going on.”

Louisa gestured towards the children who were noisily exploring the pier, spending their remaining pennies on the games and treats on offer in wooden chalets.

“I’m pleased that you also feel that way,” Stephen said. “I’m only a humble schoolmaster now but, if I follow your father’s example, how good it would be to become the headmaster of my own school somewhere by the sea.”

He paused, checking that he had her full attention.

“With an understanding wife by my side. What do you think of that?”

Louisa answered with a light laugh.

“It’s a fine aspiration, although if it’s my sister you have in mind, I’m not entirely sure that she has the right disposition to be a headmaster’s wife.”

“It isn’t Edith I have in mind,” Stephen said quickly.

Louisa sharply turned her head and found that he was staring at her intently.

She didn’t know how it had come to this but she did know that she had to end this conversation before it went any further.

“Goodness, it’s getting late,” she said, pulling her shawl tightly around her shoulders. “I must check on Aunt Charlotte. If you’ll excuse me.”

With that, she set off along the pier. She found Aunt Charlotte and Edward sitting on a bench while Edith leaned wearily against the side of one of the chalets.

Louisa linked arms with her sister.

“Are you tired? Shall we walk to the station together?”

Glancing back over her shoulder, she saw that Stephen was still gazing out to sea. Then he gave a shrug and walked slowly towards them.

Louisa breathed a sigh of relief. It had been a pleasant day and she didn’t want it to end badly.

Most importantly, Edith had enjoyed herself, declaring that this had been the best birthday ever before falling asleep on the train journey home.

Louisa was tired, too, but even as night fell outside the carriage window she was unable to sleep. More than ever, she longed to be with George.

 

Tracey Steel

Having worked on a number of magazines over the years, I have found my perfect place on the “Friend” as I’m obsessed with reading and never go anywhere without a book! I read all of our stories with a mug of tea close by and usually a bit of strong cheese too!