XXXII.

The next day Carla called her friends in the morning and told them to meet at the shed as soon as possible.

They did; Carla was the last to arrive.

"It's amazing," Rosetta remarked. "How did you know about all this? It's nowhere near Monday. And yet how could it have been changed so drastically since Monday? Someone's worked really hard."

"I know," Carla said, coming to the point with uncharacteristic seriousness, "because of this."

She held out her yellow-ribboned key and Rosetta exclaimed over it.

"Quaver!" she cried. "Oh, I think I can guess!"

"Yesterday I was walking David, when Vienna came along. She gave this to me. I got here and opened the shed as soon as I had got David out of my hands."

"I knew she'd give the key back! I said!" Rosetta said triumphantly.

"She told you so!" Jess piped up aggravatingly.

"You haven't seen everything," Carla grunted, feeling ashamed.

She unlocked the door and they stared in bewilderment at the room. While they stared, Carla took the biscuit tin from the cupboard and handed her friends their own keys.

"Pirouette and Volley," she said, strangely glumly, giving them the keys.

"How about Vienna?" Rosetta asked suddenly.

"What about her?"

"Does she get a key?"

"Why should she?"

Rosetta rolled her eyes.

"There's a spare key," Carla offered apologetically.

"Wait a second," Jessie interrupted. "How about the lock and keys we ordered? Are they to be wasted?"

"Our order was cancelled," Rosetta said. "Last night Mum realised that she had sent the wrong postcode. Goodness knows how she managed that. She's preoccupied, and I'm going to find out why. Anyway, she cancelled our order, and the people hadn't started it yet so it didn't matter."

"That's lucky," Jessie commented. "But I feel seriously guilty when I think how Vienna did all this for us, not hoping to share. There are only three coat hooks, for instance. And this must have cost more than we earned in the first place."

"We give her our money," Rosetta determined. "This is what we would've spent it on." Then she lunged for the cupboard with a yell. "Stop! Has she used it? Our money?"

"Only 50p of it," Carla supplied. "She left an IOU for 50p."

"That's ironic," Rosetta said grimly as she spied the note.

"I bet it was planned to make us feel guilty," Carla laughed it off.

"How do you explain all this then?" Jessica rounded on her. "You always said you didn't like Vienna even though she never did anything nasty to you or us. Look how she brought back David - and this is astonishing! I think we've misjudged her, and you most of all, Carla."

Rosetta smiled. Jess could come up with brilliant arguments when she was really roused.

"So? How do you explain this?"

Carla shrugged. She felt undermined, uncomfortable and definitely guilty. She knew she was in the wrong, but she was stubborn.

"I don't know. I can't explain it. I'm just confused."

"Then this once you must listen to us and go along with our verdict. Every last penny of our money goes to Vienna, we give her our spare key, put another coat hook in and accept her into our friendship group," Jessica decided. "If she agrees."

"Isn't that a bit drastic?" Carla asked.

"Not at all. We owe her."

Carla submitted to her friends' ferocity and gave in. She did feel bad. She did feel as if she had got it all wrong. Vienna badly wanted to be friends with them, so badly that she made it look as if she were indifferent to them. Though it was not the straightest way to go about friendship, Carla knew that feeling. She was not sorry that they would be making it up to her second cousin. Vienna had suffered long enough.

"I just need one piece of evidence to convince me completely," Carla thought to herself.

The very next day she did a thing she regretted.

And a few days later, she got her evidence.

The End

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