No Greater Love

Stephanie Cole is a girl who loves the spotlight. She will do anything to get it, anything at all. But when suspicions arise about her life and her being the cause for a former teachers suicide she is all too quick to run from her love of the light. But when she is reported missing it falls to Detective Inspector Henry Quinton and his DC Wilson Drake to find her before something terrible happens. Soon St. Grandorf's school for girls is back to normal and Stephanie is home again yet when she is found murdered there are a number of suspects for Quinton to look at before he can find the true perpetrator of this terrible crime....

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4. A fancy ball and a dance with a beautiful woman

Chapter Four:

 

A fancy ball and a dance with a

Beautiful woman

 

Every year, to mark the leaving of the final year students there would be held a large dinner and dance evening at the nearby Tattenborough Hall. Personally I am failing to see the point in it being there, it would be much easier and much less hassle to have the ball and dinner at St. Grandorf’s itself. I wonder how much the place cost to rent out. Did the school even have to pay? Or was it simply that the Hall saw it as a way to showcase itself?

Whatever the answer there was one sure fact…

Tattenborough Hall was beautiful. A large red bricked building with a whitewashed paddock and a large six to eight feet driveway. To the left of the main building stood a small lake, in which the previous family (whom had owned the place for nearly two hundred and fifty years) had kept a rather grand array of Japanese Koi carp, however now there were just a few lily pads and some small common English toads. Nevertheless it was beautiful.

To the right of the main building stood both the stable blocks and a small cottage, once (according to various books) having been inhabited by the butler, whom from 1800-1860 was Sir Albert Penniworth a small hunchbacked man with a wooden leg! It sounded as if someone had written it from some sort of book, but what sort of author would come up with such a weird little man?

 

I couldn’t see why I had been invited to such a place as Tattenborough Hall when I had only been at the school since Monday last week! However, it had been a slightly worse for wear Mr. Barrows whom had told me that…

“If you are a member of staff, you’ll be here.” So, after managing to prise myself from his almighty grip (he’d been going on about his latest chance of a promotion) because apparently the headmistress may be too ill to return. I returned to the main hall, grand painted ceilings and large crystal chandeliers greeted me as well as a woman carrying a tray of red wine (of which was not to my taste at all). 

“Evening Mister Harrolds.” Said a small frump of a woman. Known to many as Miss. Richards, she was fascinated by art. And it was as I found myself looking at one particular painting that hung on the left hand side wall of the hall that she waddled over to me.

“Evening Miss. Richards.”

“Eve, please.”

“Oh, okay.”

“Do you like this painting then?”

“It’s okay. But I don’t really know what it’s trying to say.”

The painting, about 6x3 feet in a golden frame showed this…

Two men hugging by a graveside, it was presumably the graveside of a common love. One man (on the left) had a gun pointing towards the second mans head. The man on the right had a knife, both were about to kill the other.

“Justice.” Said Eve, she took a quick swig of her red wine.

“How do you know?” I looked in confusion at her.

“Well it’s obvious. The common lover has been killed; the two brothers seem to think that the other did it. Therefore they pick the right moment to do justice, as it is in their eyes.” She was very slow in her speech.

“How do you know their brothers? And how do you know she was murdered? And why should they think that the other did it?”

“It seems as good a choice as any. Better even perhaps.”

She slowly walked away. I looked in wonder at “Justice”.

After having starred in wonder at “Justice” for what seemed an age I finally decided to reside to the paddock area, where I could have a quiet little cigarette. A dirty habit, but one which I had been involved in for many years and one which I had been around for many more. So, after having enjoyed a delightful chat with a random young pupil (who’s name escapes me) I managed to do what I had intended.

 

Slowly I walked towards the paddocks. I opened the wooden gate area and entered into a sort of centre area. I placed my hand into my coat pocket and grabbed a pre-rolled cigarette. I lit it and took a long and thoughtful breathe. Gorgeous, it felt like I could relax. It was strange to say but it was true. It had always felt like that. I loved the smell and even more so I loved the feeling when you exhaled the smoke and imagined that along with the smoke my troubles were also taken.

Stupid of course, but that was what I felt.

Suddenly I heard something. A pair of light footsteps getting closer. I looked into the darkness.

“Hello there stranger.” A brown haired young lass strutted up towards me; she had a slight Irish accent.

“Hello there.” I tried to play it cool.

“You got anymore?” she pointed towards the half dead cigarette.

“Yes. Three more. Why?”

“Cause I want one.”

“Alright. But I thought that it was un-lady like to smoke.”

“You thought wrong. And do I look like a lady to you?”

“You look like a nice young lass.”

“You’re just too nice. That’s your problem.” She too took a long and thoughtful breathe.

“Yes. Maybe.”

“What’s your name stranger?” She stood closer to me.

“Peter. Peter Harrolds. Yours?”

“Emily Grahams.”

“How do you do Miss. Grahams?” I held out a hand, mimicking that of a gentleman’s.

“How do you do.” She shook it. Her smile was beautiful, much like herself. Her long blue dress and small white coat only added to her gorgeousness.

“How did you find the meal?” I asked trying simply to create conversation.

“Okay. If you like salmon.”

“Don’t you?”

“No. I much prefer scallops.”

“Oh.” On thought, she spoke quite highly. You know, not posh but not “the girl next door”. Half and half.

“How did you find it?”

“Okay. If you like pea soup.”

“Don’t you?” she seemed quite flabbergasted.

“No. I much prefer leek and potato.”

“Oh.”

“Do you want another?” I looked straight into her eyes as she flicked the cigarette away.

“No. but that was nice.”

“Shall we go back?”

“What are they doing?”

I listened out for any sound that came from the Hall.

“Just about to start dancing.”

“Could we?”

“Of course.”

“Do you dance?”

“Not well.”

“Good. Neither do I.” She smiled continuously until we entered the great hall again.

 

We danced the night away…

Truly it was one of the greatest nights of my life.

 

 

It was at six O’clock in the morning on Monday morning when I awoke back in my own comfortable bed. How had I got here? Who had dragged me from Tattenborough Hall? And where was Miss. Grahams?

“Is anyone there?” I shouted. I had a feeling that someone else was in the house, but my feeling was wrong. And after a quick wash and shave I managed to rush out the house and back into the vibrant metropolis that was London town.

 

It was seven-thirty when I finally managed to find my teaching room, the wine taking its toll on my mind. Wine had no mercy and the relentless banging tortured me whilst I quickly looked up at what classes I had. Of course it was the class which had made most impression upon me. It was the class that Mrs. Cole was in, and I was eager to see how she would react to me teaching them this time. Eventually it came that moment, the moment that I had been waiting for.

“Right class. Today we are to learn the basic number systems. Up to... What should we say? Fifty?”

A few heads half nodded. 

Suddenly something popped into my mind, and it came spilling out.

“Have you had any supply tutors by the way?”

Again a few heads half nodded.

“How about you then Mrs. Cole?”

“Miss. Richards wasn’t in today.”

She murmured. A smile slowly raised itself across my face.

“In fact I’m surprised that you’re in today sir?”

“What is meant by that?” Suddenly she seemed to spring into life again, she seemed to join forces with the torturing wine. Both adamant that they were going to try and destroy me from the inside out.

“And why is that?”

“Well, I was talking with Emily Grahams earlier…”

“Miss Grahams is a pleasant young woman.”

“She said you were a good dancer.”

“She’s very kind.”

“She also said that you kissed her.”

“It was a good night last night then. The truth is that many people such as myself and Miss. Richards may have had too much punch.”

Suddenly the half nodding heads sprung into life. The thought of tutor having anything that even resembled fun was completely foreign to them.

“Sir?”

“Yes Mrs. Cole.”

“Nothing.”

“What is it Mrs. Cole?”

“Nothing.”

“Come on.”

“Did you do anything else?”

“Why do you want to know that?”

“Because things like that can get you in trouble.”

I didn’t like Mrs. Cole. She was totally disgraceful, a snob and a troublemaker.

“And how do you know that?”

“Because I told on Mrs. Peters.”

Anger consumed me. I was shocked and disgraced beyond belief.

“Mrs. Cole, you are a troublemaker and a distraction to the rest of the class…”

“What?”

“Get out!”

She stormed out of the room. I cleared my throat.

Once again the half nodding heads went back down into the darkness.

“Who knows the Latin for number one?”

How time went so slowly in the most awkward of situations. Again it was another terrible encounter with Mrs. Stephanie Cole.

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