The Schoolmaster’s Daughter — Episode 34

ON Sunday morning Louisa walked to church with Edward and Aunt Charlotte, Matilda having offered to stay with Edith. “Now, mind you go to the later service,” Charlotte had said to the maid.

Matilda had given her usual little bob.

“And I’ll pray for Miss Edith when I do,” she said. “It’s terrible that anyone would want to harm her like that.”

Before the service began, Louisa glanced around the pews. Her heart rose. George and his family had arrived and were taking their usual seats near the back. They exchanged brief smiles.

As always, the vicar delivered a thoughtful, compassionate sermon and Louisa sang the hymns with gusto.

When the service was over, she saw George break away from his family as he’d done before.

Correctly guessing his intentions, she met up with him beside the monument topped by the angel with outstretched wings.

“I believe she’s our guardian angel,” she said.

George nodded.

“Although I think you are also my guardian angel, sent to Earth to keep me out of trouble. Did you bring the note?”

Louisa carefully extracted the piece of paper from inside her prayer book and gave it to him.

George studied it for a moment.

“I’ve seen this kind of paper before,” he said. “We use pre-printed order books marked out with the days of the week and columns for recording the prices in pounds, shillings and pence. But you can also get plain books of a similar size in which to draw your own lines and columns as you want them to be.”

“I did check at the stationer’s and they seem to be very common.”

“Yes, you’re right.” George frowned. “There is something about the handwriting, though. Even though it’s written in capitals and it looks like the writer tried to make the letters plain, it’s still quite distinctive.

“Look how the letter ‘L’ is written, for instance, with that tiny loop in the corner. I’ve seen similar handwriting before but for the life of me I can’t remember where.” He looked up at Louisa.

“May I take this? I want to make a copy of the lettering.”

“Yes, of course.”

Carefully refolding the note, George looked earnestly into her eyes. “When may I see you again?”

Louisa hesitated.

“Until Edith recovers, I have no chaperone.”

As the hopelessness of the situation sank in, Louisa realised that she had to make a decision.

She could leave it to chance and snatch brief meetings here and there or she could grasp the nettle and defy convention.

Would it really be so wrong to stroll in the park with George in broad daylight?

Then again, would this be fair on her father?

With so many people already turning against Edward – unfairly so, she thought angrily – should she give them more reason to write letters to the newspaper and gossip in shops?

“I’ll talk to Papa,” she said finally. “He’s very fond of you and grateful for what you did yesterday. I’ll ask his permission to walk out with you.”

A smile played across George’s face.

“Shouldn’t I be the one to ask him?”

“You don’t know him as I do.”

George chuckled. Tucking the note away inside his jacket pocket, he gently kissed her on the cheek.

“Good luck, my angel.”

Louisa decided to wait until Monday to talk to her father. It didn’t seem appropriate to broach the subject on a Sunday.

All she wanted was to walk and talk freely with George, to really get to know him and then see what developed in time.


Tracey Steel

Having worked on a number of magazines over the years, Tracey has found her perfect place on The Friend as she’s obsessed with reading and never goes anywhere without a book! She reads all the PF stories with a mug of tea close by and usually a bit of strong cheese too!