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Authors: Charlotte Lamb

Follow a Stranger

BOOK: Follow a Stranger
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Charlotte Lamb

Kate hadn’t liked the haughty Greek, Marc Lillitos, from

the first moment she met him, and it was only for the

sake of her fiancé Peter, a keen archaeologist, that she

had accepted Marc’s invitation to the two of them to visit

his Greek island home.

Somehow she felt apprehensive about it all. But what

had she to fear?


There had been a frost overnight, leaving the grass white and

sparkling in the early morning sunshine. When Kate looked

out of her window, at seven, pearly mist obscured her view,

and she dressed quickly, shivering, hoping that it was not

going to be another grey day. But at nine, when she left the

house, the wind had blown the mist away, and the sky was a

bright, clear blue.

The change lifted her spirits. She walked along slowly, her

dreamy eyes fixed on the elm tree tops which showed above

Cheddall’s walls, swaying slowly against the heavenly blue of

the sky. The black branches were thickened by rooks’ nests

and as she watched some of the ungainly black birds rose up,


The sound reminded her of summer. She shivered,

clutching her coat closer. Despite the sunshine it was still a

chilly January morning.

Still dreaming, she stepped into the road, and was dragged

down to earth by the blare of a car horn. She leapt back to the

pavement and looked round, heart pounding.

A sleek black car had pulled up, brakes screeching

dramatically. The driver got out and walked round to her.

“What the devil do you think you’re doing, walking under my

wheels like that?”

Kate had the impression of looking up a long way

to his dark, angry face. “I’m sorry,” she stammered. “It was

my fault, I know. But,” her nerves shaken by his harsh tones,

“there’s no need to shout at me like that.”

“You must expect people to lose their temper if you try to

commit suicide under their cars,” he retorted. “Are you hurt?”

“No, thank you,” she said, in the same angry tone he had

used for the question.

“You needn’t sound so aggrieved,” he snapped, staring at

her, “I’m the one with a grievance, I think.”

“I’ve said I’m sorry. What more do you want?”

“You sound sorry,” he said sarcastically.

Her hair bristled on the back of her neck. “I was very sorry

at first, but your attitude would put anyone’s back up.”

“Women!” he grunted. “How very logical! Well, if you’re not

hurt, good morning.”

She watched him stride back to his car and felt like

childishly stamping her foot. Male superiority triumphs

again, she thought, as he drove past without a second glance.

Men like that would make the mildest female join Women’s


She glanced at her watch and was horrified to see the

time. She would be late if she did not hurry and her first

lesson was at nine-fifteen. She crossed the road, looking both

ways, and ran the rest of the way to the school.

The summons to Miss Carter’s study came while Kate was

listening to a first-former attempting to play the piano. Both

pupil and teacher sighed with relief at the interruption. Kate

grinned as she followed the reluctant pianist out of the music

room. If only parents knew what resentments they bred in

their children when they forced them to take up music

against their inclination!

It was true, of course, that sometimes they developed an

interest at a later stage and were then grateful for their early

grounding. But, somehow, she did not think that this would

apply to the girl scuttling eagerly in front of her. Lucy

Salmon had fingers like sausages and was almost totally

tone-deaf. Her musical father was doomed to disappointment.

She paused at a pale primrose door and knocked softly.

“Come in,” Miss Carter commanded, and when Kate

entered, smiled at her across the pleasant, sunny room.

“Ah, my dear. I’m sorry to disturb you during a lesson, but

I’m leaving shortly to lunch with the Mayor, and I wanted to

discuss something with you. Sit down.”

The Headmistress of Cheddall Public School for Girls was

as pleasant as her room. Sensible, sandy-haired and blue-

eyed, she had an enviable calm which Kate had never seen

ruffled. Her appointment last year, at the early age of forty,

had surprised no one. She had been acting as deputy for the

previous five years with great success and was popular with

parents and girls alike.

Some of the staff had disapproved of the changes she had

made, others had heartily supported her. But there were few

people who disliked her.

Kate sat back, wondering what she had done wrong. A

summons to the Head was usually a sign of the wrath to

come, but she could not remember having fallen from grace

lately, so she smiled and waited patiently.

She was unaware, being a very modest girl, that when she

smiled two dimples appeared in her cheeks, or that her eyes

had a warmth in their depths which usually produced a

responsive smile from the people she was with, but she was

relieved to see Miss Carter smile back.

Leaning forward with her square hands laid flat on her

desk, the Headmistress said, “We expect a new pupil

tomorrow, Kate.” She paused, as if searching for the right

words. “Rather a special case.” Then paused again, as if

anticipating questions.

Kate nodded. If a girl was allowed to join the school in the

middle of a term it must, indeed, be a special case, but since

the Head clearly wanted some reply, she said politely, “Yes,

Miss Carter?”

The Head laughed. “I’ll be frank—I feel rather doubtful

about accepting this girl.” She shook her head and stared at

the window in silence for a moment. “She’s hardly the sort of

girl we normally have here.” She paused again and began to

sketch a queer little doodle, then, without looking up, added,

“Her brother is Marc Lillitos.”

Kate blinked. Who was he? Clearly she was expected to

know the name, but although she searched her memory, she

could never remember having heard it before.

Miss Carter looked up, her eyes curious. “You do not know

the name?”

“No,” Kate admitted.

“He’s a shipping magnate, a very wealthy man. He came to

me today and asked me to accept his sister Pallas ...”

“Pallas!” Kate interrupted, without thinking.

Miss Carter smiled. “Pallas Athene, the Greek goddess of

wisdom, but I’m afraid the name does not fit this girl. She

has been expelled from three really excellent schools


“Goodness!” exclaimed Kate, in amazement.

“Quite. As you know, we don’t take problem children here

at Cheddall, so I hesitated. But her brother assures me that,

despite the evidence, she is a talented and clever girl, and he

convinced me that she deserves a final chance. After a long

discussion, I agreed, but on my own conditions.” She paused

again, frowning. “That’s where you come in, Kate.”

Kate nodded, “Yes?”

“I gathered that she is in rebellion against the discipline of

school. She wants to go to a college of music, where she feels

she’ll have more freedom.”

“She’s musical?” Kate said, seeing now how this affected


“Very, it appears. She both plays the violin and sings. But

her family want her to have a sound education before she

specialises. I sensed vague disapproval of a musical career,

but nothing was said on that subject.”

“If they’re rich, I wouldn’t have thought it would matter,”

said Kate.

“They probably fear she will make the wrong friends. I

suspect they give her very little freedom at home. A strict

background, strict schools—you can see the pattern.”

Kate grimaced. “Only too clearly. What do you want me to

do, Miss Carter?”

The Head smiled. “Make friends with her.”

“Of course,” Kate agreed. “But as I live out of school that

may not be easy.”

“On the contrary, it’s an advantage. It gives you a less

claustrophobic attitude to the school. It might be an idea to

take her to your home, let her have a taste of ordinary home

life. Boarding schools tend to narrow one’s horizons. I realise

it’s asking a great deal, Kate. You would prefer to get away

from school when you’re off duty. But I feel sorry for the girl.”

“So do I,” said Kate.

“Well, don’t let her suspect that, will you? I would prefer

the relationship to develop quite naturally. Pity would only

make matters worse. The poor little rich girl theme is


Kate laughed. “I understand. I think I can handle it.”

“Good.” Miss Carter smiled at her. “Thank you, Kate.”

Kate Caulfield was twenty-four, slightly built, with long

straight blonde hair, unusually vivid blue eyes, and the

strong flexible fingers of a pianist.

She had trained in London, and had had dreams of being a

concert pianist, but since she was a practical girl beneath her

dreamy exterior, she soon realised that she did not have the

necessary ability.

When she left college she accepted the post of music

teacher at Cheddall Public School, since it was only a few

minutes’ walk from her home.

Since Miss Carter became Headmistress the school had

been reorganised on more modern lines. There was less

severity, more freedom, and the girls seemed to thrive upon

the new regime. Kate was very happy there, especially since

it left her with plenty of free time in which to be with her

fiancé, Peter Hardy.

Peter ran the local museum and, in his own spare time,

was an ardent archaeologist. Kate had known him all her


Her father had died five years earlier, leaving his wife

with four children to bring up. Kate’s salary was the only

family income for the present, since her younger brother,

Sam, was studying art at the local art school, and her twin

brothers, Harry and John, were only eleven.

That evening she told her mother about Pallas Lillitos

while they washed up after supper.

Sam listened idly, sitting astride a chair, eating a bag of


“She sounds a real frost,” he remarked, “spoilt and


“Didn’t you have enough supper?” Kate countered. “You

eat as if you never expected to see another meal!”

He grinned, wrinkling his freckled nose at her. Sam had

red hair, big ears and an inexhaustible passion for food. Only

his blue eyes were any reminder of the fact that they were

brother and sister.

“You’re just jealous because I don’t have to diet to keep my


She threw the tea-towel at him. “How true, you

abominable boy!”

Mrs. Caulfield smiled, her gaze resting on Kate’s trim

waist. “You don’t need to diet either, Kate.”

Kate put her hands on either side of her waist, sighing. “I

do if I want to wear my new dress for the spring dance at the

Tennis Club. I need to lose an inch off my waist, or the dress

will burst at the seams.”

“You should have bought a larger size,” said her mother.

“They only had it in one size and it was too gorgeous to


“It cost a bomb, too,” Sam said. “Which reminds me—lend

me a quid, Kate. I want to take Karen to the pictures.”

Kate groaned, but produced the money. “I thought girls

went dutch these days.”

“Not Karen,” he said proudly. “Half the male population of

Greyford is trying to date her. I wouldn’t dare suggest we go


When he had vanished to change into even sloppier jeans,

his mother laughed. “Karen isn’t a girl—she’s a prize. Sam is

BOOK: Follow a Stranger
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