Discovering A Runaway.
Robert was just finishing off for the night, when he heard the rain cascading down from the roof, thankful not to be out in it.
He'd had work to do in a classroom, and had to wait for the girls to vacate it for the day before he could begin. It had taken several hours, and he was tired, though he had taken a break to eat in the dining room as the girls were leaving it.
He’d clear his work away and leave the classroom safe, put the lights out, then he’d go and shower and change in his own little work area, and maybe head home to get some sleep. He didn’t like driving in the dark with the roads wet, but he had other things to do.
He could have stayed and slept in his work area where there was a kitchenette, a shower, and a cot, but he decided against it. So he fed his cat and then sorted out a change of clothing and had his shower.
He was finishing dressing when the cat came in through the flap on his door, and began to pester him for attention. It didn’t usually do that.
“Okay, okay, let me get my socks on and I’ll be with you. I hope it’s not another mouse you dragged in for me.” He had once found five of them lined up inside of his door. They had been the cat’s gift to him. Cat’s were that way; unstinting in their love.
But there was nothing inside his door, nor just outside of it.
“Okay, where is it?” The cat loped off across the corridor and he could hear it purring loudly from under the stairs where they met the floor.
There was something there. something wet.
“What’s this?” He saw a small bundle curled up under the stairs. A girl with her head resting on her backpack. She was wet, and shivering. He reached out to her and slowly pulled her to him. “That’s alright, you're safe now.” He recognized her by sight, but not by name. She had been in the school for almost a year.
She was soaking wet, and must have been caught out in that rain.
He picked her up and retreated back to his work area, sat her on his cot, dug out a dry towel and dried off her hair and her damp face, then her bare legs. She had her eyes closed.
He dare not do any more for her. Not unless he had to.
It was too late to take her to Miss Bagnold, and she couldn’t stay here with him, and he couldn’t leave her alone. She needed a warm bath and a change of clothes, as well as to be put to bed, but he’d better not be the one to do that. So much for thinking to leave for home. He would have to see to her first, somehow, so he was likely trapped here for the night, one way or another. What the hell could he do with her?
The older girls had a dorm that was out of the way on the top floor and they tended to retire later than the school liked, and one of those girls was one he knew something about. Angela Birkenshaw; the oldest girl in the school, except he had barely exchanged two words with her. Still, she was his best chance to see this little one looked after.
He lay the girl on his cot, opened her backpack and saw her name inside a piece of clothing in the top of it. Marjorie Langdon.
“Okay, Marjorie. I know how to solve both of our problems, though I may have to wake up Miss Birkenshaw, to do it.” He would have liked to have woken her up in other ways too; dreamed of it, but that was just one of those impossible thoughts hanging in Limbo. He hoped she wouldn’t scream bloody murder if he had to wake her up in the dark of her bedroom, to find a man standing over her with--who might know what--intentions for her.
He grabbed his keys, and a blanket from his cot, wrapped Miss Langdon in it, picked up her backpack then her, and headed for the stairs to the upper floor with her in his arms, and not sure of his reception. The girls might stone him out of their area. His cat followed him as Marjorie snuggled into his welcome warmth and pulled closer to him with her head into his warm neck.
When he got to the top floor, he walked silently along the corridor and listened at the door which led into the area where the older girls slept, and listened.
He could hear low voices. Breathing a sigh of relief, he tapped on the door. Silence descended, except for the patter of feet and the sound of distant doors closing, as girls who should not have been out of bed at that time of night scurried away, then more silence.
He tapped again and waited.