Dawn walked slowly to the library, trying to plan her approach. She didn’t know where exactly to look for information on the Mary Thomas scholarship—the library just seemed like the obvious first place to start. But she’d never been able to find a book on the history of Chatoyant College itself, as useful as that would have been. If anyone had written down the college’s history in any more detail than what was in the orientation materials, the faeries had probably suppressed it.
So what about the Mary Thomas scholarship? She could check the history section. If there was anything about Mary Thomas herself, it was probably there. At the very least, finding out when Mary Thomas had lived would give them the earliest years that Alice Atkins could have lived.
If she didn’t find anything useful there, she would check the library computers. They might be able to show her articles that had information on Mary Thomas or the scholarship. All else failing, she could try searching the internet. It would be harder to filter out references to the dorm—Mary Thomas would have died long before the internet was a thing, and the dorm was still around—but it was worth a look.
Having decided, she entered the library, waved at Eric, who was at the front desk, and headed upstairs to the history section. It was a big one, but after more than a year spent shelving books all over the library, Dawn knew the sections well enough to narrow down her search. There were books about the specific area. If Mary Thomas had lived on campus, or nearby, maybe she would be mentioned in a local history.
Dawn skimmed through three books before coming across a reference to Mary Thomas. In great excitement, she flipped to the page that the index referenced. It said that she was a great philanthropist who had donated her house to her beloved college to be turned into living space for students.
Dawn frowned. That explained why the dorm looked like a house that had been chopped up into dorm rooms—but it didn’t tell her when Mary Thomas had lived, or even what her relationship was to the school. If she had been a student, then why would her house have been on campus? They couldn’t have moved it from somewhere else, could they?
She read the previous few paragraphs, but they were not illuminating. She turned back to the beginning of the chapter and read there, but couldn’t even figure out what the chapter had to do with Mary Thomas.
Finally, she flipped to the beginning of the book and found the copyright page. It had been printed in 1910. That didn’t tell them any more than they already knew—Alice must have lived earlier than that.
Disappointed, she returned the book to the shelf and looked through the next few. Finally, the last one seemed to have several pages about Mary Thomas. Dawn bit her lip, trying to control her excitement as she found the pages.
The first page had a large, though blurry, image of what was apparently Mary Thomas. The picture was in black and white, but the woman was wearing a light-colored dress, staring straight at the camera, with her hair pulled back in a bun.
Dawn read the following pages. They briefly described the life of Mary Thomas, who had been first a student, then a professor, then the president of Chatoyant College. It had been during her years as president, 1857-1872, that she had built a house on campus. This book didn’t mention her giving the house to the college, but it did say that she had left money to the college in her will to fund a scholarship.
They had the early end, then, at last. Alice Atkins must have attended the college sometime between 1872 and 1910. That was still almost forty years, though, and Dawn didn’t know how to find anything else about her.
The book didn’t mention how long the Mary Thomas scholarship had continued, nor anything about its recipients. Dawn flipped to the beginning, wondering what kind of book this was. Apparently, it was a history of prominent people in the state. She turned to the Mary Thomas pages again and read that she had been the daughter of a well-known judge and had spent her inheritance mostly attempting to fight for women’s rights. The previous pages were about her parents.
Dawn had to guess that the author of this book hadn’t been interested in the recipients of scholarships, only those who had given them. She checked the index again and skimmed through the book, but there were no other references to Chatoyant College. Most prominent people who were associated with the school—if there were any others—probably tried to hide their association, since the school wasn’t well known.
She put away the book, thinking. Where could she find out what had happened in those years? The library was organized by subject, not year.
The answer came to her quickly. Newspapers were organized by year. The college had a modest collection of local newspapers on microfilm. The West Ashburn Gazette only came out monthly, but if a student had died on campus, that would have to be newsworthy.
3 thoughts on “Chatoyant College Book 14: Chapter 51: Mary Thomas”
Ooh, finally some small progress! 🙂
Hi, Gudy! Nice to see you’re still reading 🙂
Oh, I am. If somewhat less regularly – and with less energy to leave comments – than I would like. But I am still enjoying this. 🙂