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Twelve girls skipped past the room that Mr. Goodwin had been offered as a study, each carrying a large hat in one hand and a basket in the other. Carl wondered what on earth was going on, until he heard excited squeals of “picnic!”.

 

At that moment there was a knock on his window, and a tall, fair-headed girl was standing just outside, beckoning to him to open the window. Despite his first hesitation, he looked at her face and then decided to do so.

 

“Hello,” she smiled beautifully at him, “We are all going on a picnic. Would you like to come, Mr. Goodwin?”

 

He frowned, “Who are we all, and who are you?”

 

“Sorry, I seem to have forgotten my manners,” she was still smiling while she spoke, somehow, “My name is Juliet Carrick, and I am an Old Girl of the School – I am now on leave from Oxford University.” Juliet struggled not to giggle wildly at the way his eyes bulged, and continued, “All the previous seniors that can be are here today, so it is a holiday for the girls and we are going on a picnic.”

 

Seeing no way out, and also not wanting to refuse this pretty girl anything, he said resignedly, “Very well, Miss – er…”

 

“Carrick.”

 

“I will come.”

 

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"He is quite formal," Juliet told Joey and Grizel.

 

They gaped at her. "Formal?"

 

"Yes, you know, polite and... well... kind, I suppose."

 

 

“Juliet. If Mr. Goodwin is formal, then my only Aunt Sophonisba is dead!”

 

Goodwin, passing at that moment, heard everything, and his anger began to become worse than ever. He bit his lip that time, but if that Jo Bettany said one more word against him, that school would be ruined, Juliet or no Juliet. He still walked next to her on the way to the Zillerthal, though.

 

Joey’s clever eyes noticed this, and figured that it was only a matter of time before Mr. Goodwin was let down. But, there was no point in him discovering it just yet, for the School needed a good report. Jo knew that to say anything to Juliet would mean the plan was at an end, so she was contented to sit by and watch.

 

The bread and jam was lovely, as were the strawberries and lemonade, and then the younger girls were allowed to play, with strict instructions to keep to the well known boundaries. “For we all know what happened the first time!” added Madge to Miss Wilson.

 

Goodwin was sitting nearby on his jacket, his coat being laid out for Juliet to sit on. “Why? What happened last time?”

 

Joey, as everyone knew (by now), maintained the rights to tell this story. “Elisaveta was met by her future kidnappers.” Everyone stared at her, wondering if her tongue had fallen off in mid-sentence. Why was she not continuing the story? She usually couldn’t stop telling it.

 

“Elisaveta?” asked Goodwin, for once interested in what Jo had to say. “Which one is she?”

 

“Oh, she left,” replied Joey non-committally, “I’m too tired to tell it – Ju will tell you…” she waved her hand in the direction of Juliet, who was shocked beyond belief. However, she began to tell the tale of the Princess at the Chalet School (omitting Matron Webb, of course). She did not notice the meaningful look that Madge shot at Joey, or the smile of satisfaction that played about the latter’s lips.

 

When the story was finished, Goodwin nodded his head wisely. “Yes, I know about her. She left because of the mixing between classes and a shopkeeper’s daughter asked her father for help with finances.” It was only then that he realised he had said too much.

 

Jo Bettany, previously half-dozing against a tree, sat up with a jump. Three Mistresses turned and stared at him. Juliet Carrick stood up and walked off into the trees, and Grizel Cochrane, perched in the lower branches of a tree, fell out, almost braining Joey.

 

Despite her brain, it was Joey who spoke first. She snapped, “Elisaveta left because she had to return to the Belsornian court when she became an heiress. She conversed with the daughters of shopkeepers happily and counted many among her friends. Her Grandfather, the King of Belsornia, congratulated my sister on the running of the School, and if you have any more to say on the subject, please say it to yourself because nobody else would like to hear it.”

 

Joey!” this was Madge, but it was too late, for the flashing black eyes had left the inspector’s face and Jo was following the path Juliet took into the trees.

 

Back at the clearing, cold quiet reigned until Grizel felt like screaming.

 

Suddenly, five subsequent screams ripped open the silence. For one second each of them was frozen in horror. And then all set off at a sprint in the direction of the wails.

 

 

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