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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5. The personal affairs of Mrs. Stephanie Cole

Chapter Five:

 

The personal affairs of Mrs. Stephanie Cole

 

 

It was only after I had spoken to Mrs. Cole in private after the lesson that I began to figure out why she acted in such a way as she did. And this is why…

 

Stephanie Cole was the third child of Mr. Andrew Cole and Miss. Berénece Cole. Both of whom had been privileged enough to own accounts that amounted to just under £250,000. A healthy amount by anybody’s standards. And it was partly this that added to her general behaviour. You see, with fortune comes a number of other things. Firstly there is reputation; to have both fortune and reputation is a great balancing act. You must maintain a great fortune to keep a reputation and without a great reputation then how in god’s name are you meant to have a great fortune? You can’t. You simply can’t, it goes against the rules of the game. You would have to be doing some serious cheating to even stand a chance of having a great fortune without having the reputation to match. Some people of course can do this, but those people often sacrifice other areas of their life’s to obtain such a thing. Such as friends, you can have great fortune but you can not guarantee that that person will be blessed with a good bunch of friends. This was another thing in Stephanie’s life which she had had to compromise on. You see, rather than some people seeing her as just a lucky girl whom (by chance) could afford a new dress every weekend, most people thought of her as a snob. In fact they saw her as more than that. They saw her as something of whom they were jealous of, they wouldn’t admit it (of course) but they were indeed simply jealous of her being able to buy herself a dress every weekend. So, every day she was bullied. Perhaps not physically, though on some occasions some blows had been exchanged, but by small comments.

“Little miss princess” or “Snob of the South” things like that were often thrown to her by her fellow students.

And so when she went home and began to cry she would expect a shoulder with which she could cry on. No, that was never going to happen. Her father told her of course that if she cried then “the peasants will see your weakness, you’ll be strong.” And her mother was simply too “busy” (often with the gardener) to care about anything to do with Stephanie. So where else could she turn? Well there were two other roads to which she could go down. Her elder brother Simon and sister Dorothy.

Simon was twenty but was still living at home, but from time to time he would travel up to Scotland to visit his aunt Mia (he was closer to her than with his father or mother), currently Simon was working on trying to become an architect. He had been given the job of designing a new cottage on the edge of the Cole’s estate. However, every design that he had come up with had been put down and put back. So again and again he had had to go back to his “drawing board” as it were.

Dorothy however was twenty five, twice as old as Stephanie and the oldest of the three children. She wasn’t living at home and in fact rarely came to the estate. She was too busy working in London as the Director of sales at London Wedding Attire. She was a gifted business woman and was very capable of using her knowledge of numbers and bank accounts to keep the business at a reputation that continued to climb high.

Only at Christmas time would she give any advice to her suffering sister. Often it would be “…look after yourself. Don’t bother with anyone else…” it was of little help.

So instead, Stephanie often just wept alone.

However? This still doesn’t give us an explanation as to why Stephanie should act in such a way as she did during the class. But I think, if you think about it the answer is quite simple and rather straightforward. It was one simple fact; she just wanted to be popular. She wanted to be the “talk of the town” without having anything bad said about her. She wanted to have people talking about her as a sort of person to be friends with. That is why she talked back to teachers, that’s why she spread rumours & that’s why she came into my office that day with a smug smile slapped across her face.

But is that why she had ratted out Eva?

Surely not. I couldn’t think that she would go so far just to keep herself in the limelight for a few more weeks.

Would she be prepared to risk her place at St. Grandorf’s?

Would she risk a talking to by the head mistress?

To be truthful, I couldn’t tell you. I simply don’t know whether or not that is why she ratted out Eva when she did.

 

She left my office. Yes, she looked less smug, but she left with tears in her eyes. She had finally realised something. Something that had been rotating around the clouds of her mind for a while but hadn’t been able to take full hold on it hadn’t been able to take full hold until now.

Stephanie Cole had realised that she was the loneliest person in the whole of St. Grandorf’s. She had very few friends, and by that I mean true friends. Friends that would stand by her no matter what happened. Not the ones that she had, that went from friend to friend depending on what they got from them for Christmas.

 

I didn’t think about it at the time. But now on reflection I think that that talk might have been the turning point for Stephanie Cole. For the next day, Stephanie Cole wasn’t seen by anyone. 2nd November 1895.

 

 

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