I was in the sitting room, drawing, when someone knocked on the door. Elvira was resting. After the conversation with Thomas, both of our nightmares had returned. Thomas was seeking refuge in the forge so that left the two of us to calm each other down. It was a little frustrating but I knew Thomas needed time to process all that happened.
I opened the door and blinked.
"Mr. Kinsley," I said. "What brings you here today?"
He pulled nervously at his collar. "The desire to take you on a walk."
I bit my lip. "I don't know, Mr. Kinsley. My brother isn't home. He's at the forge."
"He gave me permission," he said.
I hesitated still, though. Finally, I sighed.
"Okay," I said. "Just let me get my cloak and- Oh, thank you," I said to a maid, taking the fur cloak from her and putting it on my shoulders. "Just not a long one, please."
"Why not?" he asked as we went down the street.
"I'm going to the schoolhouse today," I said. "I have decided on my career."
"Really?" he asked, sounded excited which shocked me.
"Yes," I said. "It was my brother who gave me the idea."
"What will it be?"
"An art teacher," I said and waited for him to respond how Roderick did.
"Teaching?" he repeated and stopped walking.
I sighed. Here we go.
To my surprise, he grinned.
"That's wonderful, Miss Buckley," he said. "My sister is teaching, too. Did you hear?"
"No, I didn't. That's wonderful! We'll get to spend time together again!"
"And... maybe you and I will have more opportunities to get to know one another," he said.
I blushed. "Maybe," I said, thinking back to my conversation last night with Thomas. "Though, it will have to be...."
I couldn't think of a way to express what I was thinking without giving everything away so I kept walking. We walked in silence for a while. I remembered how Thomas had told Silas everything that happened. Should I do that with Ewan? I didn't know him but Thomas didn't know Silas that well, either.
Thomas still refused to tell me why he had confided in Silas. I wanted to know but knew better than to demand it.
"Well, thank you for letting me walk with you," he said when we got to the schoolhouse. "Perhaps we can do it again."
I gave a noncommittal shrug. He leaned forward to kiss my cheek but I took a step back.
"Right," he said. "I'm sorry."
"It's okay," I muttered. "Have a good day, Mr. Kinsley."
I hurried into the schoolhouse before he could respond. I sighed, taking my cloak off and draping it over my arm. Would I be ever to get over that? Did I want to? I shook my head when I got to the office door. I had something important to do.
I knocked on the door and Mr. Pink answered, beaming when he saw me.
"What a pleasant surprise!" he said and stepped to the side. "Would you like a hot cup of tea?"
"That would be wonderful," I said and sat down in the only chair.
He passed me a cup and sat back down. He put his elbow on the table and smiled some more.
"What brings you here, Miss Buckley?"
I shifted. "Well, it's time for me to pick my career," I began and he nodded. "I got to thinking about it with Thomas and...." I took a sip of the tea, unusually nervous. "I don't know if you remember, but I've always loved to draw. Do you.... Are you in need of an art teacher?"
He watched me for a long time and I drank more of the tea while I waited. Why was it taking so long? Surely it's just a yes or no question.
"I'm afraid that position has already been filled," he said and my shoulders fell. "However, I have another suggestion."
He nodded. "As your dear brother has constantly told me, I'm getting too old for this job. The problem is, I have never been able to find someone to replace me that I trust. I've been waiting and I do believe I know who I can trust to replace me."
"Who?" I asked and he smiled.
"You," he said.
I almost dropped the tea cup. I put it on the desk and stared at him. Me? Be the principal of the school? Take up Daniel's post? No. It would be Mr. Pink's post now that I would be taking over. Did I have what it takes, though?
"I can teach you," he said as if he could read my thoughts. "The next term doesn't start for another four months."
"I'll only be 19, though," I said and he shrugged.
"I was only 20 when I built this schoolhouse," he said. "I really believe you can do it and I really hope you will."
I looked at the floor. "Can I have a couple days to think about it?"
He grinned. "Of course you can! I realize this is a large opportunity. Talk to your brother and Mrs. Buckley about it. They're both very wise."
I stood. "Speaking of which, I should get back to the estate. Thank you very much," I breathed. "I will certainly give this thought and get back to you soon."
He hugged me. "Walk back carefully. What a strange fall this has been."
I giggled. "Good day, Mr. Pink."
"Good day, Miss Buckley."
"The principal?" Elvira said over dinner that night. "Oh wow."
I nodded. "I'm nervous."
"Why?" Thomas asked. "You'd be wonderful at it!"
"Would I be, though?" I asked. "It's a huge responsibility, Thomas! I'd be in charge of the teachers, the students, the tests, the homework.... And I'll only be 19! Those teachers are nearly three times my age!"
"Age does not define wisdom," Elvira said. "And those teachers grew up with you. They will respect you. If not, you can write up new rules. Including how you want to discipline the children," she added and I sighed.
"What if I can't do it?" I whispered.
Thomas put his hand on mine. "You can, Megan. I know you can."
I looked at Elvira. She beamed. "Of course you can, sweetie."
I smiled nervously.
I had another caller the next day. This time it was Silas McGregor, though. He was holding another bouquet of flowers.
"May I come in?" he asked and I stepped to the side.
Thomas didn't have work so I felt more comfortable having a man in the house.
"These are for you," he said and I smiled.
"Thank you," I said, accepting them. "What brings you here?"
He cleared his throat a few times. I waited patiently but I was pretty sure I knew why he was here. Finally, he took a deep breath.
"Trenton needs me to learn how to make boots," he said and I blinked.
"Huh?" I asked.
"Boots," he said. "You know. You wear them on your feet when it's cold or if you're-"
I narrowed my eyes. "I know what boots are. But I thought-"
I stopped before I could make a fool of myself. His smirk told me that I hadn't succeeded, though.
"Well," he said, "if you want to take me for dinner then I suppose you could do that."
"Oh, hush," I said, trying to save my dignity. "And you've come to me about your boot problem because...."
He cringed. "I need someone to make the boots for and he won't let me do it for myself. Your brother suggested you."
I looked over and glared at Thomas. The little sneak. He just smiled at me.
"Okay," I said. "Um... what do you need me to do?"
"I need to get your measurements," he said, producing a tape measure.
"Okay," I repeated and handed the flowers to Elvira.
We went into the sitting room and I took off my shoes. His face went from joking to serious. I could tell he was in work mode and it was impressive to see. I sat in silence, glancing at anything other than the man measuring my feet. I was incredibly ticklish on my feet and I was doing my best not to giggle. I failed, though, and he gave me a devilish smirk.
"You're not... ticklish are you, Miss Buckley?" he asked.
"Of course not," I sniffed. "I just remembered a funny memory."
"Oh? And what was it?" he asked, jotting down whatever measurement he had gotten.
"Um...." I tried to think of a lie but failed again. "Shut up," I snapped and groaned. "God. That was so unladylike."
He was laughing, though.
"Ah, it was honest," he said. "All right, looks like I have everything I need. Do you have a favorite color?"
"Green," I nodded, putting my slippers back on.
"Green it is," he said, writing that down, too. "I'll get them to you as soon as they're done."
"Mr. McGregor," I said before he could leave the room and he looked at me. "About what Thomas told you...."
His eyes softened. "I don't know what you're talking about, Miss Buckley," he said quietly.
I watched as he bowed good bye and left.