"It was just a matter of time. I knew it."
Jonathan's teacher sighed. Candy's teacher nodded.
"I'm glad I have his sister. You know the old coot doesn't like women on his ship. I doubt Candy even knows."
"Well Jonathan certainly does. Not one other kid in the class talks about 'sons of sea biscuits,'" Mrs. Murphy continued. "What on earth am I going to tell Mrs. Muir? He'll get mad if he knows we're on to him. Captain Gregg, I mean."
They stared at each other. Schooner Bay's dark secret weighed heavily on Mrs. Murphy's grade book, where a growing line of checks threatened young Jonathan's report card.
"What if she doesn't know?" Mrs. Temple interjected. "You'll need a cover story – it's taking a suspiciously long time for him to toss her out of the house. Maybe he hasn't revealed himself fully yet."
Mrs. Murphy suppressed a smile, despite herself.
"Oh sure. Just tell her Mr. Hampton curses like a sailor."
Neither needed to mention the conversations they'd overheard between mothers who volunteered in the teachers' workroom and the principal's office. In fact, Mr. Hampton himself was quite fond of the local gossip – and Mrs. Muir, too.
The ladies who lunched didn't care about Mr. Hampton, though. Captain Gregg was on everyone's mind nowadays. The town had a collectively long memory that pre-dated even Daniel Gregg's suspicious death.
"Oh, I think she knows," Mrs. Murphy said softly, finally. "He won't get mad at us because she'll get mad at him before he has time to worry about us."
Mrs. Temple raised her eyebrows.
"L-O-V-E," Mrs. Murphy spelled out loud. "F-I-N-A-L-L-Y. Look, here she comes. Chatting to herself as usual. I change my mind. If you'll excuse me, I'd like to intercept Mrs. Muir before she bumps into Jonathan."