Meanwhile, Stacie had routed out the prefect team. A prefects’ meeting was hastily called with the Head, Miss Timber.

They met in rather bored speculation outside the Head Girl’s private sitting room.

“What did you want us for?” Eleanor Fennel flung not too kindly, as Stacie let them in. “I was just settled so comfortably by the radiator in the Senior common room, having run about all day after irresponsible Juniors and running messages for Matron. No concept of free time, these people.”

“If you’ve quite finished with your own personal comfort, kindly turn your attention to important school matters. I would never have called such a short-notice meeting without great importance,” Stacie’s sarcastic tongue lashed out.

“Pompous today then, my dear Stacie?” sly Kath Nettleson put forward.

“You realise the Head is just about to arrive?” Stacie used the fact without mercy.

Silence reigned, and smug Stacie smiled with pleasure at her own power.

“Indeed she is?” this was a stout, cool, malicious, drawling reply.

Stacie’s mouth watered angrily as she snapped back. “Nice to see you, Mel. Finished questioning my authority? Mm? Good.”

Mel smiled serenely over her inward fury, but at the headmistress’ sudden entrance she resolved to control her rage. The prefects gave her ‘you-asked-for-it’ looks with unbecoming glee. Maggie Haroldson merely made small sympathetic noises with her moochy mouth.

“Well, Stacie. All in hand and waiting for me? Good. Sorry I was late. Now where’s Nellie Russell?” Stacie was no favourite of Miss Timber’s. But nor were any of the Sixth Form favourites of hers. All they did was quarrel till she was quite tired. They were the most unreliable Sixth Limeys Park could ever claim. Now they glanced at each other with expressions of mild distress.

We neither know nor care, Stacie thought. “We’ve no idea, Miss Timber. I’m sorry. I did call her.”

The eddying politeness of her tone roused Miss Timber’s finest suspicions, and she replied in a cold voice: “Yes, I see.”

Stacie smarted, but before she had time to brood, Nellie Russell burst into the room.

“I’m so sorry I’m late. No one told me about the meeting. But luckily Cina Lee caught me in the corridor and mentioned it, and asked if I was not going. I do apologise.” The poor girl’s flustered speech incited Miss Timber’s warmest feelings.

Stacie went scarlet rapidly, thankful that the headmistress had paid little attention to her own earlier claim of having 'called' the youngest prefect. Yet she vowed to get back at Nellie Russell for that narrow shave. And what business did that imp of a Fifth Former, Cina Lee, have to do with the prefects? She’d pay for her interference, too.

“Now, business, girls!”

The girls straightened at the stern tone, but nevertheless made no comment.

The End

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