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Peggy Bettany lay back on her bed and stared at the ceiling. She could hear soft Sunday sounds all around her. A typical Chalet School day of rest until so very recently. A few hours ago she had been happy, looking forward to curling up in the Summerhouse and reading her letter from home.
Even the message to go to Miss Culver hadn't warned her. After all, she'd known Gillian Culver for years, and was still not quite thinking of her as Bill's secretary, as a member of staff.
The news about her mother ought not to have been as much of a shock as it had been. After all, she had been ill a lot recently. Even so, Peggy realised that she'd been thinking of the illness as far less serious than it was, had been just assuming that her mother would recover eventually.
Now it looked as though an operation might be the only option; And not a routine one, a bit of pain then recovery. For the operation to be almost described as "Kill or Cure" it must be a very risky one. Peggy might be needed at a moments notice, would have to fly to England. If it were necessary, it would mean things were very serious indeed, so she needed to be warned.
Peggy felt lost, and couldn't work out what to think, what to feel. She knew that she needed to be there for her family, be ready to support her father and younger siblings. She ought to be able to place her faith in God, to trust that whatever happened was the right route for her mother's life. But she couldn't feel any of that, she just felt almost angry, almost cheated.
She had had so little time with her mother. First being left with her Aunt Madge for so many years. Then spending so much of her time at boarding school, and often staying with friends in the holidays. Peggy felt almost angry with herself and her friends for wanting those visits away from family. She should have realised, should have known that time with her mother wasn't limitless. She should have been at home. She might have noticed something, might have realised how serious things were.
Peggy couldn't face seeing even Daphne. The pair of them had been friends for so long, she knew that she couldn't hide her feelings. She would show her anger, would hurt and confuse her dearest friend.
So she stayed apart from the others, sent messages of gratitude for their concern, and held her guilt, anger and fears inside her. She went into school, kept to herself and tried not to think the worst.
The other girls noticed the change in Peggy. They interpreted it as a form of maturing, and in a way it was, for Peggy had learnt that terrible lesson that comes to everyone at some stage. Those we love are not invincible, however much we might believe and want them to be. Peggy stopped feeling guilty eventually, especially after being told in no uncertain terms by Mollie Bettany not to be a silly goop. Peggy was able to relax again, to see things in perspective.

But for now, she just wanted to be alone.

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