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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1. My Own Involvement

Chapter One

 

My own Involvement

 

It has been some six weeks now since the mysterious affairs of the Cole family had been finally put before the judge and jury of Kensington Crown court. The intense interest in the case which, at the time was known as the “Grand Affair of Aldwick River” has now almost completely subsided. Nevertheless in the interest of both the general public and the police I have been asked, both by my friend Detective Inspector Henry Quinton and by Chief Superintendent Reginald Long to write a detailed and fairly “balanced” account of the entire story. Making sure, of course; to include almost every relevant detail, no matter how small, from beginning to the end. This, we hope, will finally place a balanced and truthful conclusion to the events of which occurred between January 1st and January 31st 1896.

 

Firstly however I must admit that I myself have a significant part to play in this drama which has unfolded. Therefore I feel that it is my duty to briefly set down the circumstances as to what I have to do with this story and why it is important to remember that I was indeed connected with the drama.

 

It had been some eight weeks since I had left the beautiful setting of Oxford to return to my hometown of London. More importantly, Kensington. And even though I had lived in the place from my birth until around the age of thirty-eight I had no close relations there and had very few friends to which I could call upon on my return to the grand capital of this equally grand country.

So I simply walked around for a few days and came to find a rather nice little abode down near the Royal Parks of which I am a particular admirer. And after settling into the place I began to search for a job. But I can tell what you are thinking. Why move from Oxford to London when I do not have a job to go to?

Well I shall tell you. I had applied for a job at the world famous University of London. And yet, having applied and having been accepted for that particular role I began to make plans to move to the place at once.

However, just three days from me coming to London I received a letter of which told me that the current employee at the university had decided against leaving the place until next year. It would have been totally untrue for me to say that I wasn’t disappointed. In fact I was fairly annoyed at the apparent incompetence of the University for allowing me to resign from my previous post, sell my house, buy a place in London and then tell me that it wasn’t to be. However, I decided to go ahead anyway and leave Oxford and instead try to find a post when I was actually in London. So the search began.

 

It was just before October 20th when I had rather a good strike of luck fall into my lap. It had been quite a normal day and I had been sitting in a small café reading the local newspapers when I spotted something on one of the pages. Latin Tutor wanted. Experience needed. If wanting to apply please report to St. Grandorf’s School for girls. The advertisement also carried with it instructions to the place and an estimate of the annual pay that the successful applicant would receive. Both of which are not (in my opinion) important to this report. However it happens that since both studying and teaching in Oxford I had come into some rather close contact with Latin on numerous occasions. I decided to apply, I had no second thought. Finally I thought lady luck smiles at me.

The school was titanic. Two huge roman pillars as an entrance to the building. Six acres of prime estate of which was used for a variety of different uses. Hunting, archery, agriculture and grounds keeping. All of which were apart of an average day for the young girls of St. Grandorf’s. Yes, despite many women being able to move from the restrictions of the home. These girls could and often would take part in all of them. They had to, for in around twenty year’s time or so, they themselves would become ladies of the manor. They needed to have taken part in all sides of the lifestyle before they came into complete contact with it.

 

I can still remember thinking of what I was going to say when I was in the interview. It sounds strange to say such a thing as “I wasn’t nervous” but it is true. I had gone with nothing to lose, and as I had both a place to live and some money to keep me for at least the year I had no reason to believe that even if I didn’t get the job I would still lose nothing. It truly was a sensational feeling to have.

 

“Mister Harrolds?” The large man waddled towards me. First impressions of him were rather good. He was red-cheeked but it some strange way seemed to be rather warm.

“Yes. That’s me. And you are?”

“Mister Barrows. I am the deputy head tutor here. But unfortunately the usual head of this place is ill and can not come in today. So you’ll just have to deal with me.”

“Okay.” It was rather strange for him not have given me a bit more information about the aforementioned “usual head” of St. Grandorf’s considering of course that she may end up as my employer. It seemed to me that Mr. Barrows was a man whom had always strived to be the best, but for some reason or another had always been on the “No.2” block of the employment podium.

The room was large. Well, large enough for…

A large and rather elegant Grandfather clock, a chest of draws, a large selection of watercolours and portraits of either St. Grandorf’s itself or of the previous head masters or (in two cases) head mistress. Also inhabiting the place was a large rectangular desk and a large fireplace with an equal large bright yellow flame bellowing from it.

“Do sit down Mister Harrolds.”

“Thank you.”

“Drink?”

“Whiskey?”

“Of course.” Away from the corridors of the school I was given a new opinion on Mr. Barrows. This one gave me the ability to see him as a gentleman whom was happy at his post as was humanly possible. He slowly poured the rich brown liquor into the small crystal tumblers.

“What experience do you have?”

“Oxford College for five years. Latin of course.”

“Of course.”

“Why did you leave?”

“I wanted a change of scenery.”

“That’s not what it says on your application form and on your files.”

“Then why ask a question that you already know the answer to?” I saw him raise a slight smile. I felt pleased with myself.

“Do you want another drink?”

“No.”

“Well then, I think we’re done here.”

“Is that it?”

“Why ask a question that you already know the answer to?”

“I’ll see you later then.”

“Monday. Nine O’clock sharp. Room 27B. I’ll send you the relevant forms.” I left St. Grandorf’s feeling rather pleased. What a sensational feeling to have.

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