Clara often visited the library. She liked to sit at a table spending her time happily browsing through piles of books. They were from all different sources, both fiction and non-fiction, classical and modern. She loved books and often wondered what would have happened if she had decided to become a librarian. Now she had retired she decided that she would give herself some quality time to enjoy her hobby.
“Miss, do you know a lot about history?”
Clara glanced up from her studies to see a young lad of about twelve seated opposite her. His bright eyes scrutinised her from below his mop of cropped red hair which stood up like spikes. His freckled complexion glowed in the daylight. His uniform was very new and just a bit too big for him.
“A little,” Clara answered. “Why?”
“Well, Miss, you look like a teacher, with your posh jacket and things. Could you help me with a school project?”
“Well… I don’t know,” Clara answered carefully. “Isn’t it something you should be doing on your own?”
“Oh, no.” Brown eyes sparkled at her. “They said we could get help if we wanted to.”
“So what is it then, this project of yours?”
“To write about a period in history, and I was thinking of doing the Tudors – Elizabeth the First, because that’s my mum’s name.”
Clara smiled, warmed by his answer. “I probably could help a bit,” she answered. After all, she thought, it was only like doing something a parent or grandparent would do. She saw the sudden gush of gratitude in his face.
“Great!” His boyish fingers danced on the table in front of him. “The thing is, we have got to do all our research by books, not the internet, and give references to which book we use. Could you help me with that?”
“Well, I think so. We only have to look along the shelves filled with history books. There’s bound to be something there. But I have to warn you, I’m not an expert.”
“Oh thanks, Miss.” He gave her a huge grin. “I’ll see you tomorrow then.”
He leapt up from his seat and was gone in an instant.
Don was waiting for her when she got home, brewing the tea.
“How’d it go this morning?”
“Very well. I met an extraordinary little boy doing a school project and he wants my help.”
“Wow, that’s amazing.”
“I don’t know where he’s come from, I haven’t seen him around. He’s wearing the local school uniform.”
“Aren’t there some people who’ve moved in just across the way?”
“Ah… could be them, that could be the answer.”
The next day Clara was armed with a mountain of information on the whole period. She sat in the library with all the relevant history books she could find surrounding her.
Clara looked up at the lad. His hair looked even spikier and redder than the day before.
“Hello, young man,” she said. “Before we go any further, I think I should at least know your name.”
Clara smiled. He did look like a Henry, with his flaming hair and freckled complexion.
“I’m Clara,” she said.
Henry sat down and reaching across the table solemnly shook her hand.
“So how much have you written so far?” Clara asked him.
Henry dived into his school bag and brought out a notebook. He opened it at the first page. “I had a lot of homework last night,” he said, “so I haven’t managed to get a lot done.” He pushed it across to her.
Clara looked at it carefully.
“Well…” she said. “We haven’t quite got to page two yet, have we? Try these.” She selected a couple of books. “They’ll help a lot as they are about Elizabeth the First, and if you come back tomorrow I’ll probably be able to find you some more. What you must remember to do is to quote the book title and page numbers as you go along, otherwise you’ll forget where you got the information.”
Henry grinned at her.
Clara watched him as he energetically scribbled notes from various books, wrinkling his nose at some things he read and smiling at others. When he had finished he looked up at her with a glow of satisfaction on his cheeks. Clara felt very drawn to him. And she liked the careful way in which he had treated the books.
She met him the next day. Again they researched the famous Queen.
When the essay was finished Henry brought it for her to read and correct. Clara suggested just a few alterations but on the whole thought it was very good indeed.
“You see,” she said patiently, “how important it was to note down where you got the references.”
Henry agreed with her. Soon he left with a light spring in his step.
“You know,” Clara said to Don when she got home, “they say that by your students you get taught. I now know an awful lot more about that period of history.”
“Perhaps you should write about it too,” he answered.
Clara smiled. She had really enjoyed helping young Henry.
A day or so later there was a knock on the door and a tall lady with flaming red hair stood smiling at her. Clara guessed immediately who she was.
“I’m Elizabeth,” the lady said. “We’ve just moved in across the road. I think you’ve met my son Henry. He’s talked a lot about you.”
Over a cup of tea Clara learned a lot about the family. Elizabeth’s husband was in sales and was often away from home. She had another son, Edward, who was slightly older than Henry and at the same school.
Soon they were chatting like old friends.
There was another knock on the door. Henry stood there with his usual friendly grin.
“Hello,” Clara said. “It’s nice to see you. Did you know that your mum’s here.”
“Oh, is she?” He peered past her, and then took something out of his pocket.
“I’ve won £20.”
“Great! What for?”
“Our project. There was a prize – I can’t remember if I told you.”
“No, I don’t think so.”
“Would you like to share it with me?”
Clara laughed. “Goodness, no!” she said. “You did the work.”
Elizabeth, having heard her son’s voice, came striding down the hall.
“I thought he’d win,” she said. “He likes that bit of history, you know. Henry the Eighth and all that. Must be something to do with our famous name.”
“Oh?” Clara asked curiously.
“Yes. Didn’t you know?” She ruffled, as well as she could, Henry’s spiky, red hair. “This is Henry, and I am Elizabeth.” She laughed. “Elizabeth and Henry… Tudor.”