Carey wondered whether she should go and see Mrs Howard, and ask her if she knew what it meant. But even if Mrs Howard knew everything, Carey couldn’t bring herself to speak to her. It was cowardice, of course, and showed poor manners, but what else could you expect from someone like Carey?
So she decided she would go to the school, instead. The one in England was the most obvious choice – Carey looked at the pictures, a beautiful building, Glendower House – but the chalet wasn’t anywhere in England. Austria, that’s where she would go. She bought a plane ticket, her finger shaking ever so slightly. She had never been abroad before; had never spent so much money on something that wasn’t an absolute essential. The school was located on the Tiernsee; Carey bought a ticket to Innsbruck; there was a train service thence to a place called Seespitz, which was only a short walk from the school. She booked a room in a hotel, stuttering on the phone with her schoolgirl German, finally relapsing with relief into English as the girl on the other end took her measure.
On the plane from Gatwick, Carey marvelled at her temerity in coming so far. After all, what was she going to find? Probably nothing she didn’t already know. Perhaps her…her mother… was something… No! That kind of thinking would get her nowhere; she knew what kind of person that woman had been. Mrs Howard had made sure of that. Which, when you thought about, had been kind of her. It wouldn’t have been fair, really, to let Carey think otherwise. Always best to know the truth, then it couldn’t hurt you by leaping out, unexpectedly.
At the Kron Prinz Karl, Carey was settled into her room, and she ordered a meal. There’s a school round here, isn’t there? she asked, and the maid agreed, and pointed out of the window. It’s over there, she said, through the trees; you can’t see it awfully well.
Carey dressed smartly in the morning, and walked up the long drive, pausing at the entrance. It was quiet, but she imagined she could hear the hum of voices, almost making the building vibrate. She knocked on the door. It was answered by a woman in a neat suit, who smiled and looked at her enquiringly. Was it possible to see the Headmistress, asked Carey, smiling in return. She explained hurriedly, confusedly – her niece…her brother…looking for a good school…business in Europe… The woman nodded, and gestured her inside. Miss Trevor would be able to see her in half an hour; would she like a tour of the school beforehand?