The Schoolmaster’s Daughter — Episode 40

LOUISA folded her hands on her lap, biting her lip as she looked down at the dog. Mrs Townsend marked her reticence.

“You can talk to me,” she urged. “As a doctor’s wife I’m used to people confiding in me about all manner of things that they wouldn’t normally disclose. I always try not to be judgemental.”

Louisa knew that to be true. Amelia Townsend was a leading light in the community and chairwoman of several committees, but she was less severe than some of the other women in a similar position.

Looking up at her, Louisa began.

“You mentioned yesterday that your daughter was soon to be married. I know she sometimes helps Doctor Townsend keep the accounts for his medical practice.

“I was wondering whether you might consider allowing me to take her place. Then I could still be involved with the Townswomen’s Committee and carry on helping at the Sunday School.”

Mrs Townsend studied Louisa’s face carefully, trying to ascertain the real reason behind her request.

“Would you really want to continue living in this town, knowing that your father had had to leave? Does it mean so much to you? More than your family?”

Louisa’s eyes filled with tears.

“I don’t want to live apart from my family but nor do I want to leave this town. I know I should put the needs of others before my own desires but, as it happens, I am also thinking of someone else.”

“I see. And would that someone else happen to be a young man?”

Just as Louisa was about to reply, the door opened and Dr Townsend burst in.

Seeing Louisa, he looked disconcerted.

“Forgive me, my dear,” he told his wife. “I wasn’t aware that you had a visitor.” He took off his hat.

“Good afternoon, Miss Marchington.”

Mrs Townsend looked anxious.

“Is something the matter? You seem perturbed.”

The doctor nodded.

“It’s always hard when you lose a patient. More so when it’s sudden and it’s someone so well liked and with a family to support.” He sank down into an easy chair.

“John Jevcott, who works at the nail factory.”

“The sergeant in the Rifle Volunteers?”

“Yes, the same. He collapsed at work. I got there as quickly as I could but it was to no avail. He died within the hour.”

Louisa gasped and clapped her hand to her mouth. George’s father was dead!

Before taking her leave of Mrs Townsend, Louisa hesitated.

“Should we go and offer our condolences to his family?”

“We’ll wait until the morning when their grief is less raw,” Amelia said. “It’s a fine balance between wanting to offer help and not wanting to intrude.”

That wasn’t the answer Louisa wanted to hear. Poor George must be devastated and she longed to comfort him.

At the same time, she knew Mrs Townsend was right. George’s mother must be reeling from the shock and would need her children around her, not well-meaning visitors.

It was going to be a long night for all of them.

On her way home, Louisa went into the church to pray for John Jevcott and for his family’s future. Then she went to sit with Edith, who was gradually regaining her strength and had her own concerns about the move.


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!