Henry Spencer paced around the corner of his desk,
neatly knotted tie shifting as he moved. He was dressed in a simple white shirt
and black trousers, but they fitted in a way which clearly demonstrated that
they had been specially tailored for him.
The boy sat at his smaller desk, watching the sunlight straggling through the window glint off his tutor’s long, curved nose. He was only seven years old, but the thick textbook in front of him had already been paged through several times. The pages curled in the summer heat.
Sweat shone on Henry’s wrinkled brow, but his gaze was sharp and steady.
“Are you taking notes?”
The child flinched guiltily, reaching for a notebook which had been abandoned on the floor by his feet. “Je suis-”
“English! Remember, we speak English here. Why have you not been taking notes?”
His student slumped, fingers idly tracing the patterns carved into the desk. “I’m tired. And it’s hot.” He looked up, frowning petulantly. “Why can’t I play outside like them?” He jerked his thumb towards the window, where the shrieks and laughter of children playing in the street could be faintly heard.
Henry sighed, raking a hand through his thinning hair. It was silent in the tiny room, save for the creaking of wood as he drew closer to the boy. The classroom was on the fourth floor of the house, and he saw a bird flutter to a nearby tree outside. Henry placed both palms flat on the desk, waiting for the boy to meet his eyes.
“We’ve discussed this. You can go out in an hour, but I need to teach you first.”
“I get taught stuff at school.”
“Schools don’t teach you this, and you know that. Don’t you want to learn control? How to use this incredible gift that you have been given?” He kept his tone gentle, watching the little boy’s shoulders slump and his head lower. His fingers, which had still been fidgeting, halted on the name of a long-forgotten student etched into the wood.
“Je veux ma mère.” The words were barely audible. When he looked closer, he realised that the child’s eyelashes were wet.
Henry knelt, bringing him face to face with the boy. “Look at me.” His student obeyed, blinking furiously.
“I know how hard it is. We all miss her. But she brought you here for this, oui? She would want you to work hard.” He hesitated. “And I imagine she is very proud of you.”
The little boy stiffened, and Henry knew he had said the right words. He said nothing, but stood back as the child straightened up and pulled the notebook towards him. It was only when the boy looked up at him wordlessly that he moved, swiftly pulling a pen from his pocket and placing it on the textbook. “Are you ready to continue?”
The boy nodded, mouth set in a firm line. “Yes.”
Henry smiled, the crinkles at his eyes becoming even more prominent. “Excellent. You will benefit from this one day, my boy. Someone like you could change the world.”