|Scotland – shortly after end of Second World War|
‘Elspeth dear, how old is your grand-daughter?’
Mrs McGillicuddy looked in amazement at her friend, whose memory was normally razor-sharp. ‘She’s four, Jane. Don’t you remember sending her that lovely Bible with pictures?’
Miss Marple looked up from her knitting. ‘Oh dear me yes. Of course. So silly of me.’
‘Why did you want to know?’ Mrs McGillicuddy asked.
‘I was wondering if she was ready for starting boarding school yet. But even the Chalet School doesn’t take boarders that young.’
‘She’ll be going to Fettes College, of course,’ Mrs McGillicuddy said. ‘I have a trust fund for her education.’
The door opened and Mrs McGillicuddy’s maid appeared. ‘Reverend Thomas, ma’am.’
‘From the English church,’ Mrs McGillicuddy muttered to Miss Marple. She said “English” in much the same tone as she would have said “prostitute”, had she known what the latter was. ‘But a nice man for all that.’
Reverend Thomas was a pleasant man in his forties and it soon became clear that his daughter, Lucy, was the pride and joy of his life.
‘I’m so worried about Lucy’s education,’ Reverend Thomas explained to Miss Marple. ‘She’s thirteen now and should be in boarding school. It’s been so difficult to find somewhere suitable.’
‘I may be able to recommend one,’ Miss Marple said, lifting the teapot. ‘More tea, vicar?’
‘I’m so glad you can travel south with Lucy, Miss Marple,’ Reverend Thomas said as they stood on the platform of the railway station at Haddington.
‘It’s my pleasure,’ Miss Marple assured him. ‘And I will make sure that Lucy is handed over safely to the escort mistress who will be taking the girls to Wales.’
‘I don’t like sending her so far away,’ Reverend Thomas said. ‘But the scholarship will make all the difference.’ He addressed his daughter. ‘Now you must work very hard, Lucy, to keep up your scholarship. This is a very great opportunity for you. God bless you, my child.’
Lucy rolled her eyes but said nothing, dutifully giving her father a kiss and boarding the train with no sign of tears at leaving home. Miss Marple followed her and the door was shut. The whistle blew and they were off. A quick wave to Lucy’s father and the train pulled out of the station.
‘Well, Lucy, this is the start of our adventure!’
Author's Chapter Notes:
Miss Marple seems strangely keen to promote the Chalet School.