From then on, the Board's meetings received the undivided attention of the Teignmouth Post who faithfully and extensively reported everything that was said. Alfred Page left behind two of his daughters - Edith Lucy Page and her sister Ada. Edith taught at the school and during the first week of her father's absence failed to report for work on two of the mornings - understandable as the strain must have been considerable. Immediately, the Board turned its attention to her and, indirectly, to her sister who had kept house for her father and sister. How dare she be absent without their leave! Were she and her sister not living in a house on which £10 of the annual rent was being paid by them?
They swiftly called yet another meeting at which someone declared that Miss Page was "making the Board a laughing stock in the eyes of the children". Heedless of the presence of the local reporter, they went on to discuss Miss Page's salary. She had, they said, been drawing a salary of £45 a year as an assistant mistress, a position for which she was not qualified. "That", said the female Board member, "was entirely due to the action of the late master". "Quite so", said another member "but it won't happen again."
Next day, the local newspaper came thtough the letterboxes of the houses in Shaldon, Teignmouth and the surrounding area with verbatim reports of these and other reckless and unsupported statements made by Board members swept along by the excitement of the moment.
Edith Page was 30 years old and single and relied on teaching to support herself and Ada. It was a foregone conclusion that they would lose their home - unless she defended herself publicly and successfully, she knew that she would lose her livelihood as well.
She began defending herself by giving one month's notice to the Board. Then she addressed herself to the parents of the Infant Class which she taught. They rallied round her by writing an open letter to the Board which was immediately published in the Teignmouth Post. It concluded with the words:
"We all feel when she leaves, we shall lose a most valued teacher"
Edith Page then turned her attention to professional matters. Her progress in training over the years, her ultimate certification and her right to be paid a salary as an assistant mistress were a matter of record. Slanderous remarks about these issues had been made in meetings behind closed doors and had been converted to libel by their publication in the local press. She wrote an open letter which was published in that same paper early in March refuting all of the Board's allegations and suggesting that the readers should suspend judgement for the time being. Her next step was to consult a solicitor.
Then - and only then - did the individual members of the Shaldon School Board realise the danger they had put themselves in - a realisation which came rather tardily to the editor of the paper as well. On April 4th 1902, two letters appeared in a prominent position in the Teignmouth Post, and later, in other local newspapers. The first was a fulsome apology and total retraction of all previous allegation made by the Board and others, concluding with an agreement to pay all of Edith Page's legal costs. The second was signed by the editor of the newspaper: He concluded:
"I regret exceedingly that the report should have appeared in the form it did."
And Alfred Page - last seen walking across Shaldon bridge? There were reports of a sighting in Plymouth a few days after he left but it seems far more likely that he went straight to the railway station in Teignmouth and took a train to Yorkshire where his son, also a teacher called Alfred Page, lived and worked. If so, then it is just as likely that he died there in the summer of 1909 at the age of 67.
As for the feisty Edith, it seems that she went on to find somewhere where her undoubted teaching skills were more appreciated. The little school in Long Bredy in Dorset had only 60 pupils but there was a house attached for the teacher, and hopefully her sister too - Edith Page was still there, living happily we hope, in the 1920s.