The Schoolmaster’s Daughter — Episode 39

OVER the next week, Aunt Charlotte started making lists of what they would need to take to their new home but Louisa couldn’t bring herself to think about packing up yet.

Besides, she didn’t really care that much about furniture, ornaments or clothes. She cared about George.

She cared about the memory of their first kiss on the day of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and the love she had felt when they kissed on the bridge. Those precious items were already stored in her heart.

And she cared about this town, Louisa realised, gazing out of her bedroom window at the higgledy-piggledy skyline of roofs and chimneys. Apart from the people who had brought about this situation that the Marchington family now found themselves in, there were many good people here, too.

She cared about the girls like Tulip whom she helped with their reading and writing in Sunday school and she wanted to watch them grow up.

Louisa turned away from the window with a deep sigh and fastened her hair neatly in a chignon on the back of her head.

Wednesday was Aunt Charlotte’s at home day and Louisa had to be ready to help entertain callers.

She went downstairs to find that the first caller had already arrived. It was Mrs Townsend, the doctor’s wife.

Amelia Townsend was a few years younger than Charlotte Marchington and had a natural elegance and height that gave her an imposing presence, but she had a kindly manner.

Today, though, her face was etched with concern as the three women sat in the drawing-room.

“How are you all bearing up?” she asked, leaning forward to pick up her cup of tea. “It must have been such a dreadful shock.”

“I’m still trying to come to terms with it,” Aunt Charlotte admitted with more candour than usual. “Edward is being very stoical and, of course, we must all support him, but it will be a wrench to leave.”

“You will all be missed. My youngest daughter is getting married next month and I had hoped to invite you all to the wedding. I wouldn’t expect you to travel all the way back from Kent so soon after moving down there.”

“It was kind of you to consider us. You must be busy with all the arrangements.” Mrs Townsend smiled.

“The dressmaker is very busy. There are so many weddings being planned at the moment. There must be something in the air! The Chairman of the School Board told me there’s a shortage of teachers for girls due to all the young women leaving when they marry. Such a waste of all that talent.” Charlotte tried to be cheerful.

“In that case, I expect the vicar will be inundated with christenings next year. Plenty of potential pupils for the new headmaster, whoever he may be.”

“The new headmaster. Mmm.” Mrs Townsend paused to sip her tea. “Whoever he is, I hope he’ll be as community-minded as your brother.”

She turned to Louisa.

“And, of course, we will miss your contribution, too. You’ve been such a great help on the Townswomen’s Committee. I was looking forward to working with you for many years to come.”

Thoughts were starting to form in Louisa’s mind, triggered by Amelia Townsend’s remarks.

There were questions that she wanted to ask, but the sadness on her aunt’s face told her this was not the right time, and besides, she knew her aunt would not approve of what she was thinking.

So she just smiled.

“Thank you, you’re very kind.”


Louisa continued to turn over ideas in her mind. Every time she thought she’d come up with a plan to help her stay with George, she would look at either Edward or Edith and feel guilty about even contemplating not going with them to Kent.

By the next afternoon, though, she’d convinced herself that there was no harm in asking. It wouldn’t commit her to anything.

“Thank you for agreeing to see me unannounced,” she said as she sat down with Amelia in the Townsends’ drawing room. Their labrador had risen from the fireside rug to greet her and now flopped down at her feet.

“I was half expecting you to call,” Mrs Townsend replied. “I had the impression yesterday that you wanted to ask me something. Something that perhaps you didn’t want your aunt to hear.”


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!