“I think they’re ready,” announced Augusta.
“D’you really think so?” said Molly, surveying their creation a little doubtfully.
“Of course they are!” said Kathie, clearly bubbling with excitement. She waved a sheaf of papers at Molly. “We’ve done every single thing we had to. They can’t possibly fail!”
“I don’t know.” Molly looked wary. “I vote we make Gussie test them.”
“You’re just saying that because you don’t trust me!” said Augusta indignantly.
“Yes,” agreed Molly.
“I trust you,” said Kathie largely. “In fact, I’ll test them if you like.”
Augusta, taken aback, started to backtrack.
“It’s fine, I don’t actually mind testing them. It’s just that Molly doesn’t seem to think they’re going to work when they’re the best things we’ve ever made.”
“I don’t deny,” put in Molly, “that they’re the best thing we’ve ever made. I just don’t think they’re going to work.”
“Of course they are,” said Kathie robustly. “And I’m going to test them. Shut up Gussie, you always get to do the exciting bit and I want a turn this time.”
“Yes you do. You were the one who made the bomb, and searched the prefects’ room, and –”
“Yes, all right,” interrupted Augusta. “Fine, you can test them, but I get the second go, all right?”
“Fine by me.”
“Come on then!”
It had taken them a long time to make the wings. The idea had first come about as a result of an inspiring science lesson given by Miss Wilson and spurred on by the glorious descriptions of flying Augusta had discovered in Five Children and It, which she was reading for the first time. Undeterred by the difficulties of such a venture, the girls had vowed to make themselves a set of wings and learn to fly. It had taken a great effort and most of their spare time for the last three weeks: collecting the feathers had been particularly onerous, and gluing them to the wire structure had been scarcely less so, but they had persevered.
Now, Augusta led them up the back stairs to the first floor.
“I thought we shouldn’t jump right off the school roof,” she called down to Kathie and Molly, toiling behind her. “Just in case we’re not very good at it at first.”
“Jolly good idea,” muttered Molly.
“But I’ll want a good amount of space to give me time to flap,” put in Kathie anxiously. “I don’t want to end up just landing smack on the ground.”
“You won’t. I thought you could jump from one of the first floor windows. If we go into a staff bedroom they aren’t barred, so it’ll be easy.”
“Oh, good idea,” said Kathie. She paused at the top of the stairs. “We should probably use one of the ones this way, so that we don’t have to go too near Matey’s room.”
Augusta nodded, and Molly sighed but followed as they crept, hearts thumping, down the staff corridor. When they reached the last room but one Augusta paused and looked back at her comrades.
“I’ll knock first,” she mouthed, suiting the action to the word. Mouths open with tension they waited, but no sound came from within. Augusta, greatly daring, turned the handle and they entered and shut the door behind them.
“Whose is it?” said Molly, curiosity overcoming anxiety for the moment.
“Don’t know,” said Augusta, peering round. “The Abbess’s maybe. They must like books, whoever it belongs to. Look at all those.”
“It can’t be the Abbess,” said Kathie, who was struggling with the window catch. “She has a separate bit where she sleeps.”
“Oh well, maybe an English, then. It doesn’t really matter.” Augusta came to Kathie’s aid and together they pushed the window sash up to its fullest extent. Augusta leaned out of the window.
“It looks a lot further than I’d imagined,” she said, frowning. “Are you sure you want to do this, Kathie? You could go second, once I’ve made sure it’s safe.”
“Not on your life!” said Kathie, who seemed half-drunk with excitement. “I’m jolly well doing this and you aren’t stopping me, Gussie Fraser.”
“All right.” Augusta shrugged and stepped back. “Just make sure you do it when there’s no one watching. They’re bound to tick us off if they see us trying to jump out of windows. You know what staff are like.”
Kathie nodded sagely and began to fasten the wings to her arms, Augusta giving aid where required.
“Wait!” said Molly as Kathie scrambled onto the windowsill. “Kathie, don’t do it, please. Honestly, I don’t think it’s safe. We should test them on something that’s not one of us first.”
“You mean put them on Eiluned and chuck her out of the window, or something?” said Augusta doubtfully. “I don’t think that’s very fair.
“No, idiot! I mean a – a – oh, I don’t know. Or maybe jump from somewhere lower.”
“Shut up Molly,” said Kathie. “I’m jolly well doing it and it’s jolly well going to work. We worked out all the science, remember.”
And without further ado, she leapt from the window.
I posted the beginning of this story about a year ago, but never got any further. I'm leaving that up, but this version can be read completely apart from it.