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Joey, nearest to the screaming, crashed through the forest, her heart pounding and her head spinning. The thudding of her feet on the ground filled her ears, while the yells began to become louder.

 

She came to where the path met a gate, usually closed but today for some reason open. She could see across the field a group of girls, huddled against the fence, and it was from them that the cry was issuing.

 

Joey raced across the field, and, upon reaching the girls demanded to know what on earth was the matter, for they, and all around them, seemed calm enough.

 

“I-i-i-t’s the bull, Joey – it’s chasing her!” sobbed Ilonka.

 

There was no time to demand who ‘she’ was, because at that moment there was a bellow of an angry bull, and, looking up, Jo saw something that would remain in her nightmares for months to come.

 

Evadne Lannis was being chased across the neighbouring field by a large, red and white bull, which was quickly gaining on her heels. She turned sharply and saw the fence, by which the other girls were cowering. She sprinted towards them, but just before she reached the fence her foot caught in a tussock and she fell forwards, her face smashing into the barbed wire.

 

Joey, swallowing her fear in one large gulp, rushed forward and balanced precariously on the second rung of wire, and gently but incredibly speedily lifted Evvy’s face from the vicious barbs. Her hair was stuck in the wire, though, and between them they wrenched it free, Evadne suppressing a howl of pain as it ripped out of her skull.

 

When she turned to face Jo, it was all the latter could do to keep her head, for her face was streaked with blood from the brutally deep cuts. But, they were on the other side of the fence, and the bull was a little distance back, eyeing them ferociously.

 

Jo took command. “Everybody, help Evvy get back to the trees – and take her to my sister. Make a queen’s chair…” her voice trailed back as she saw out of the corner of her eye the bull, which had retreated to the opposite end of the field, begin to charge.

 

For one second they all stood rooted to the spot, and then Cornelia and Ilonka grabbed Evvy’s arms just above the elbow and began to drag her to the gate at a run. This shook Jo out of her terror, and, screaming “RUN!” she herded them at top speed across the field.

 

She did not need to turn around to know that the bull had broken through the fence – a loud crash and another furious bellow told her that. The seconds dragged on, her head was spinning worse than ever and she was sure that she could not go on…the gate was in front of her…the girls had panicked and closed it and she could not climb…

 

Three girls reached over the gate and hauled their Head Girl over to their side, just before she fainted.

 

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Jo Bettany woke some hours later inside the School San, staring at a plain white ceiling. Rolling over (not without some pain) she saw a little girl asleep in a large armchair beside the bed. The Robin’s eyelash fluttered in her sleep as her chest rose and fell. Joey looked at this picturesque image before, after a shifty look around, slipped out of bed and into her slippers, which someone had thoughtfully laid by the bed. Then, she shrugged into her dressing gown (which was adorning the back of the Robin’s armchair) and padded silently out of the room, heading for the kitchens. Poor Joey did not remember returning to the School or saying goodnight to Madge, nor did she know that the night had passed and it was in fact 11 o’clock the next day, and all the girls were at lessons.

 

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Margia Stevens, sitting in a History lesson with Miss Stewart saw the gowned figure sneaking guiltily down the corridor and began to giggle silently but irrepressibly. Miss Stewart glanced up from the work she was marking and saw a crimson Margia sinking slowly down in the chair, shaking and shaking.

 

“Margia! What on earth is the matter?” Miss Stewart was under the impression that Margia was having a fit of something or other.

 

At this point Margia looked up and saw the Mistress’s face, letting out a hearty guffaw and waving her hand in the direction of the unaware Joey. Miss Stewart knew that she must not giggle, whatever (whatever!) she was feeling, but when Joey heard the unearthly chortle she turned around with a face so guilty that it resembled that of a cat caught in the dairy.

 

The whole room broke into shrieks of laughter, Miss Stewart giggling hard enough to crack her jaw, with Margia reverting to the usual type – but this time on the floor.

 

It was all very well for them, but Joey was put back to bed before she reached the kitchens, with ten times the usual amount of Matey-scolding.

 

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The cuts on Evadne's face would sting for a while yet, but, except for her and Joey, they all recovered speedily and were rejoiced (not!) to return to lessons soon enough.

 

Indeed, the most affected person seemed to be Margia, for every once in a while she would begin to laugh as she saw the image of Jo inside her head. And every time she had to explain to those around her just why she was laughing so hard.

 

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