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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18. Mister Barrows learns of some good news. And so does Mister Harrolds

Chapter Eighteen:

 

Mister Barrows learns of some good news.

And so does Mister Harrolds

 

Mister Barrows had taken the telephone call the previous evening. He hadn’t been expecting the call to come for at least a few weeks. Or even only at the start of the next term. However, the call had come and he had answered it.

“Mister Barrows, of St. Grandorf’s?” The croaky voice had said.

“Yes. Mister Altringham.” He was surprised to have received a call from a man such as Mr. Altringham.

“I’m telephoning you about the current and rather sad circumstances surrounding the head mistress-..”

“Yes. Of course, it is indeed sad news.” Barrows interrupted.

“Yes. Quite right, and as you know it is usual procedure at such a time, if such a circumstance has arisen for the current deputy headmaster or mistress to take over the responsibility of the former head tutor until the end of that term.” The man didn’t half dribble on about nothing. However, Barrows remained polite.

“Yes. I got the letter of confirmation yesterday from your office. I am to attain responsibility of St. Grandorf’s until December 20th of this year. Then matters will be properly dealt with.”

“Yes well we have decided to overturn that decision.”

“What?” Barrows was outraged. However it was now Mr. Altringham’s turn to interrupt.

“Now just hold your horses!” bellowed Altringham. Barrows immediately quietened down.

“This is why I voted against the decision being overturned.” Altringham was quite angry now, he sounded quite flustered to Barrows. Barrows still remained silent.

“You are to become permanent headmaster at St. Grandorf’s with immediate effect. This will be until a suitable replacement is found for Mrs. Francis. But you will be in charge for at least the next six months or so. But not further than the summer term.”

It came as a great surprise to Barrows to hear the news. But secondly it was a great surprise to hear somebody actually use the name of the previous headmistress of St. Grandorf’s. He hadn’t heard the name for such a long time. It was almost like a ghost.

“Why thank you sir, it is indeed a great privilege.” Said Barrows.

“Well like I say, I was in fact against the decision.” Said the flat, crackled voice. Barrows pulled a face, a childish thing to do.

“So do I just go into the place of Monday and call an assembly?”

“To tell them the news?”

“Yes.”

“Tell your staff first. Then by Thursday you will really need to have as you say, have called an assembly.”    

“Well I shall do that then.” Said Barrows.

“Good. Well that is all from me then Mister Barrows.”

“Thank you then sir, thank you very much.” Barrows smile virtually covered his big chubby face.

“Well then Mister Barrows, I suppose a congratulations is in order and have a good day.” Barrows could tell from the man’s voice that he had had to squeeze the “congratulations” out.

“Yes, good day.” Barrows replaced the receiver and waddled back to his big leather chair. He poured himself a tumbler of finest Scottish whisky and took a long and thoughtful sniff of the golden liquor. He looked towards the roaring fire; everything was fine in the life of Mister. A. A. Barrows.

 

And, whilst this fantasy was becoming a reality for Mr. Barrows some rather surprising and shocking news was going to find its way through the snow covered streets of London and onto the doorstep of our very own Mr. Peter Harrolds…

 

 

 

 

I had been watching the children’s snowball fight for about half an hour now. However, as the afternoon began to subside into the evening and the sun began to set the amusement of watching the fight had also began to subside. So, I decided to get a well needed glass of whisky. Alas, I was out of the golden liquor. The last time I had looked I had had three bottles, I guess that you just don’t realise how much you drink when nobody is there with you to point it out to you. It hadn’t always been like that though, there was, there had been a time when I shared a house with a female companion. A simply delightful brunette, with long legs and curves that rose and fell and weaved and wined around. She was country girl from Lancashire, her father owned a farm and she had lived on it from her birth until her twenty-first. She had told me how she had longed to see the city and watch the hustle and bustle and smell the smog and mist that covered the city from the various warehouses and factories and railways and exedra. So, one fine summer’s day she had decided to do just that. She packed her bags and ran to the nearest bus stop and waited. When she arrived in Oxford she soon realised that this wasn’t the city of which she had heard so much about. She had no where to live, no where to work and no friends to rely upon. However soon, by random chance; we met. And we talked, and we laughed and drank together. And so, before I knew it we were “firm” “friends” (if you get my meaning). But then everything went down hill, I am ashamed to say that at this time in my life Eva Peters was the one for me. So, when the chance to get in between the sheets with both beauty’s I could hardly say no. However, soon she found out; needless to say it broke her heart of course and soon after she walked out on me. Then she met another bloke, he showed her a good time but was “handy” and one day she was found battered to death. He was arrested and charged with manslaughter and that’s the last I ever heard of her or of him. After that I realised that perhaps my love wasn’t completely for Eva, but perhaps deep down I still longed for that gorgeous brunette with the long legs and hill like curves.

As I reflected on the past (as many of us do) I heard a knock at the door. I saw that it was snowing and wasn’t sure who would come out in such whether and call around to me. It seemed very strange, I waited until there was a second knock and realised that it was somebody who had the expressed intensions of seeing and talking to myself. I made my way to the door and saw a man whom I had never seen before. I cleared my throat and opened the door…

“Can I help you?”

“Are you Mister Harrolds?”

“Yes, why?”

“May I come in?” The man wasn’t a “street” man. He had a top hat and a silver topped cane.

“Before that may I have your name?”

“Of course, I am Mister Cole. Stephanie’s father.”

 I was confused to say the least.

“Then you’d better come in.” I let the man into my house.

“Thank you.” The man took off his snow covered top hat.

“Do you want a drink?” I asked.

“Any scotch?”

“No. unfortunately I’m all out.” We both sighed.

“Oh. Well then I suppose that I’ll leave it for now.” Mister Cole said.

“So what is this all about?” We were now both sat in my living room and the fire was dying down.

“Stephanie is ready to go back to St. Grandorf’s.”

It came as a massive shock to me, a titanic shock. I hadn’t expected to see Miss. Cole for at least a month not in just less than two weeks! And it was this that slipped out…

“That is something that I hadn’t expected Mister Cole.”

“Why not?”

“Because the girl has been through a huge shock.”

“Don’t you think that I know that?” The man starred at me.

“Is that everything then Mister Cole?” I just wanted to get to bed and go to sleep; I needed the man to just go. Alas, he didn’t.

“No, not quite Mister Harrolds. I must stress that I should expect you to welcome Stephanie back slowly and do not overload her with work. If you understand.” The eyes were two pools that shared one black obis.

“Well she was behind on her work even before all of these terrible events had taken place. She will have to catch up at some point.”

“And she will, just not now.”

“But she’s only got a few weeks left Mister Cole. She must finish everything otherwise I will have no choice but to take her grades down.” I sighed as I said this.

“Mister Harrolds. You are a smart, sensible and very polite man-…” I could sense that the mood was changing. However, I still thanked him for these “compliments”.

“…-but you don’t seem to be listening to what I am saying!” Indeed the mood had changed.

“I don’t quite understand what you are saying Mister Cole.” This was true; I truly didn’t have a clue of what he was trying to say. He cleared his throat and then walked around towards the back of my chair.

“I am a rich and well respected man Mister Harrolds. I know people and people know me. So, of course it is always nice for them to congratulate me on my children’s grades exedra. But what if my children don’t get the grades; the mood becomes awkward between me and these people. However, my children still get to Oxford or Cambridge. And how can that be? Do you have any ideas how that can happen Mister Harrolds?” I starred at him before taking a long and thoughtful breathe.

“Money.” I was blunt.

“You are a smart man.” He was blunt.

“Are you trying to blackmail me Mister Cole?”

“No. I’m just telling you how you get to the top of the tree. The truth is, my daughter could sleep everyday and still get in to Oxford. People like you don’t even come into it.”

We said nothing else, Mister Cole left. I chuckled to myself.

 

 

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