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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8. When Mrs. Cole ran down towards the River Thames

Chapter Eight:

 

When Mrs. Cole ran down towards the River Thames

 

2nd November 1895:

 

It had been just a few hours since Stephanie Cole had left her grand and rather elegant red-bricked family estate behind. However, there are two questions that must be both addressed and answered before we can continue with the story. The first question being…

“Why?” Why had she done it? Well it was simple really. As we have seen throughout this story we can begin to draw a picture that Mrs. Cole lived a rather solitary life, despite her being so popular and having always being surrounded by people. So that’s the answer to the first question, but what about the answer to the second? Well, firstly we need to know the question itself in order to have any hope of answering it at all. So, here it is….

“What?” what did she hope to “achieve” from this grand escape? And what would she do for things such as money, food, water and shelter? Well now, she had three choices. Choice number one: Go back to her home and turn on the waterworks and weep about the entire thing, forcing her parents to wrap themselves around her middle finger. Choice number two: Prostitution. Unthinkable to her some five days ago, but now with the circumstances having changed into what they had done the thought may have began to creep like a black widow into her shadowy and unbalanced mind.

Choice number three: starve. If she wouldn’t or couldn’t go into such business as prostitution and wouldn’t take herself back home then her only other alternative would be to try and last as long as she could do without using one of the other two choices that now lay before her like a newly dug grave.

 

The storms had begun to subside towards the south-east of London and soon the rain and wind to crept away.

Stephanie, being soaked to the skin took a small piece of paper from her damp coat pocket. She had torn it from a small red book kept in the draws of her father’s work room; it had on it the telephone numbers and the most recent addresses of a number of the family.

She looked down the list…

 

“Aunt” Clara Mai 092543453. 65 Covent Terrace, Cambridge.

“Aunt” Teresa 0923432442. No.5 Flatpark Avenue, Cambridge.

 

Uncle Dennis. 09342896753. New Bank Farm, Lincolnshire.

 

All hope looked dead. Stephanie continued to stare at the paper, looking for some small bit of hope that would show her the way to “Aunt Something-or-another” at “wherever place”, London. Nothing came into view.

However when she looked up from the paper something did come into view, something that was unwanted and was definitely not something that was needed by Stephanie. A peeler had come strutting up the street and now stood directly opposite Stephanie. She stared at his perfectly ironed dark blue uniform; he looked up from the wet cobbled streets and stared directly at her. His eyes widened suddenly as the realisation of the girl came into full view in his mind.  Immediately she began to run, like a cheetah through a great African plain. The peeler himself now began to run, he shouted as he went. However he wasn’t like a cheetah, more of a rhinoceros. Clumsy and unable to run for a distance before stopping to catch his breath. Stephanie began to slower her pace as she no longer heard the shouting and balling of the peeler whom just seconds ago had been relatively close to herself. It had been a task which would bring no answer whatsoever to the peeler, you see there is something about Mrs. Stephanie Cole which until now hasn’t had a part to play in this grand affair. However now it can strut straight across the stage and stay in the spotlight for its own “five” minutes of fame.

 

Last summer, just before the ratting out of Mrs. Peters and Emily Grahams the school was at a relatively happy and harmonious place. And it was on one such happy and harmonious day that Mrs. Cole found herself in a lesson which she actually had begun to excel in. Yes, for Stephanie one relief of her bullying and loneliness was being able to take pride of place in Miss. Broadbanks physical education lessons. Often Miss. Broadbanks would demonstrate some athletic movement or something with the help of our very own Stephanie.

“Right class…” a thick Scottish tongue shouted across the frozen fields of St. Grandorf’s.

“…today you are going to perform a full three laps of the field. After this warm up you are to get into teams of four and line up where I am stood, then its one hundred metres for all of you. We are looking to knock off three seconds from your previous scores remember.” She watched with a keen eye as the girls ran across the field and into their first lap. As she was running Stephanie began to realise that if she could “knock off” three seconds then she would be able to run 100m in just over 12 seconds. A time which ranked rather highly in the records of St. Grandorf’s. The record incidentally was one held for over five years by a Mrs. Filipina Romeo who could run it in 10.5 seconds. Stephanie’s aim was to beat this record, and today was going to be her day!

So as she ran through the labyrinth of the London streets she remembered that day. She remembered the huge and seldom seen smile that crept onto Miss. Broadbanks chubby pale face. And she remembered her saying to the class…

“…Ladies, meet the new one hundred metres record holder of St. Grandorf’s. With a time of just 10.25 seconds please give a round of applauses to your very own Mrs. Stephanie Cole…”

Boy had she got a real beating that day! In fact that was the first and (so far) only time that she had ever been physically beaten by the bullies. It had been mainly the act of Yemen Francis, a slim blonde girl with long legs and a fantastic figure. However, though Yemen was a girl of excelled in nearly anything that she did (often with the help of daddy’s wallet) she couldn’t cope with being beaten by such a girl as Stephanie. Since then Yemen had done nothing but give Stephanie relentless grief.

 

She was sure that she’d lost the peeler, but as she finally began to slow her pace completely she once again heard the shouts of her mortal rhinoceros enemy. Again she began to run, she was near to the Thames now and the only way to go was via a small stone “stairway” down onto the banks of the river itself. The tide was out and the river was down for now, and she saw that she could easily hide underneath the bridge arch itself. So she did.

The place stank, she hadn’t realised that the arch covered a sewage pipe. Nevertheless she still stuck to her plan; she hid for about twenty minutes. But as she’d been drawn to the river itself she hadn’t been keeping an eye on the water, it had began to rise again and now the girl was stuck. Since she was actually on the edge of the sewage pipe she had no way of getting back to the stairway. Her heart began to beat faster. She was in big trouble now; the water still silently crept towards her.

 

 

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