Nellie knew exactly nothing about geckos, but she couldn’t allow the pet of the Head Girl’s twin die under any circumstances. It would be the sealing of her death warrant as far as the Sixth Form were concerned, for her to have seen this note and yet not act upon it.

I suppose it’s from Miss Trevor in a hurry, Nellie thought. I heard she didn’t go to the concert because she had too much work to do. But I wonder she found the gecko—if she happened to go by that way, how come she bothered to come and write this? Couldn’t she come and find me or phone the vet?

Yet there was no time for dawdling. The Pet Room was at the other end of the school, and there were only a few minutes before Scene IV was bound to begin. Sweeping the sheet of note paper into the bin, Nellie dashed outside. There was no time to lose.

She reached her destination in double-quick time. The scene did not reach her expectations.

A quick glance told Nellie that no animal was sick, in pain, ill or unwell in any way; least of all the gecko, who was scurrying up the walls so very blithely. It was painfully blatant that he had never suffered a convulsion in his life. She had been tricked, and she had walked right into the trick and never seen it till it slapped her in the face.

What cruel person had played this childish trick? Who had been into her study just before the concert was due to begin? There was only one answer.

Worn out and conscious that she had broken her promise to the lower schoolers, Nellie trudged back to the concert hall. If she had not felt so hopeless, she would have been seething with rage against the girl who had done this to her.

She slipped through the side door into the dressing rooms, and was greeted by Tina Hudson, who informed her that Scene IV was nearly finished and Rosemary Lee was wearing a Evangeline Ronald’s trousers—Evangeline took a rather larger size than Rosemary, and the latter had consequently to hold up the things for the entire climbing scene.

“Here are the buttons,” Nellie growled to Lisa Maison, who was loitering anxiously near the door with the broken skirt in her fingers. And, “Why didn’t you move the interval?”

Lisa, being a thoughtless girl, merely shrugged, and took the packet of buttons from her elder.

“Keep the lot,” Nellie said, turning her back and returning to the concert hall.

The younger girls were so stunned at her uncharacteristically abrupt manner that they dared not remind her that she had brought no needle and thread with which to attach the button. They merely exchanged confused glances.

Mel Castle grinned uneasily when she noted Nellie’s angry expression.

“I say, are you alright?” she enquired.

“Ssh! The next act’s starting!” Nita, sitting a few rows in front, saved Nellie from feeling the necessity to reply even for courtesy’s sake.

The show was really very good; hilarious Jo, played by Rosemary, was more lifelike than ever, so puzzled did she seem and so strange in her huge trousers. Happening after happening, scene after scene, and still the main characters failed to get home from the maze they had created for themselves; still they contrived only to get more lost than ever.

Nellie revelled in the hilarity, but she couldn’t help feeling that the underlying theme of the never-homecoming suited her situation with ironic aptness.

The End

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