His Outback Nanny(9)

By: Annie Seaton

Not in Spring Downs.

“Thank you for the opportunity of being interviewed.” She put her phone down and bit her lip, trying to overcome the disappointment that was coursing through her. She was a small-town girl, and this was where she wanted to be. Teaching came naturally to her, and she loved being with children. How could she remove that image of her that everyone here seemed to have? She silently cursed that newspaper article and then realised that a positive approach was what she needed.

Jemima headed to the newsagent’s store, purpose in her step. There was no point being down about it. If she couldn’t teach at the school, there were plenty of other opportunities to implement her teaching skills. She purchased a packet of square, lined cards and a black pen and walked to the library. When she’d been there earlier in the day, she’d seen a community notice board filled with cards for all sorts of for sales, positions vacant, and work wanted ads. She sat at a table in the library and drafted an advertisement. It took three cards before she was happy.

Qualified teacher available as a nanny/governess. Prepared to live in if required. Willing to teach/care for any age child.

She added her number to the bottom of the card and walked across to the community notice board. There were spare pins along the bottom, and Jemima crouched down to pull one out. As she pinned the card to the centre of the board, she felt a tug on the bottom of her shirt. She glanced down and smiled. It was Gwennie, the young student she’d helped this morning.

“Hello,” the little girl said shyly.

“Hello again. Did you have a good day, Gwennie? No more feeling sick?”

“I was better, and I did, and I made lots of friends, and I learned lots, too.”

“What have you got there?”

Gwennie frowned and held out a card. “I can’t reach, and if I put it on the bottom, no one grown up will see it. Would you please pin mine up high?”

“Sure.” Jemima took the card, and as she went to pin it up, she read it and hesitated.

Oh dear.

She crouched down beside the small girl. “Gwennie,” she said. “I can’t put that on the board for you.”

Small white teeth bit trembling lips as Gwennie looked at Jemima. “Did I make a mistake with my words?”

“No, sweetie, it’s all good, but does anyone know you’re putting that ad up?”

“No, I wanted it to be a surprise for Daddy when I found us a new mummy.”

Jemima read the card again, and her heart went out to this little girl. “A new mummy?” She wondered where Ned’s wife was.

“Maybe we should ask Daddy for the best phone number to put on it. You did forget to add one.”

“Oh, silly me.” Gwennie let out a very grown-up sigh. “I guess we’ll have to ask Daddy then, because I don’t even know the name of the road our new farm is on. It’s only new to us, though. It’s old for Daddy.”

“Where is Daddy?” Jemima looked around, but the only other people in sight were the sour Maisey Sykes and an elderly woman checking out a book.

“He’s up the road at the bank. I’m supposed to be waiting with Ryan and Kelsey, but I sneaked out when Kelsey wasn’t watching.” She let out another sad sigh, and Jemima’s heart almost broke. “But I guess Daddy will have to know now because I do need a phone number, don’t I?”

Jemima held out her hand, trying not to think of this little girl running across the main street where the cattle and wheat trucks constantly sped through town. “How about I walk you across the road and take you back to the bank?”

Gwennie would be lucky to be seven years old. What is Ned thinking leaving her in the supervision of another child?

She looked at Jemima and nodded. “That would be very kind of you.”

As they turned, Gwennie looked up at the board. “What’s your ad for?” She stood on her tippy toes and read the words on Jemima’s card slowly, and her precise pronunciation was perfect.

“Oh wow!” Her cute little face lit up in a huge grin. “That’s perfect! Take it down right now.”

Jemima tipped her head to the side and smiled. “But I’ve only just put it up.”

“Oh please, please take it down. You don’t need to. You can be our new mummy.” She held up her card. “Then I won’t have to advertise, after all.”

“Come on, we’ll go and see your daddy first.”

Gwennie put her hand in Jemima’s, and as they headed out of the library to the main street, she chattered away.

“My sister’s name is Kelsey, and she loves horses, but she likes the new kittens, too. Ryan is a cry baby, but he’s still only little, and we don’t have a dog yet. Well, we have an old working dog, but I’m not allowed to play with him. Daddy isn’t sure if he’s been vass- vassin—”