"Where have you been?" Mollie greeted Augusta as she slipped into her seat at lunch. "You missed the Prees' announcement and it's jolly exciting."
"I had to go and see Teddy. She thought I was cheating in Maths this morning."
"I wasn't really," explained Augusta, aggrieved. "I'm trying to become a handwriting expert, and I must say people make it jolly hard work when they accuse you of copying other people's work when all you're trying to do is see how they write."
"You're an idiot," said Kathie dispassionately. "You should have known Teddy'd spot you. She's always on the ball."
"I wasn't doing anything wrong!"
"Well anyway," said Mollie, tiring of the discussion. After all, Gussie was always doing something lunatic and sometimes it was better not to encourage her. "Don't you want to know what the Prees announced just now?"
Augusta indicated, graciously, that this would please her.
"They're doing a series of plays from history - just little ones, you know - for the Sale, and they want everyone to join in, even us Juniors!"
Augusta's face lit up.
"What bits of history?"
"Oh, four or five different things. Queen Elizabeth, of course, and someone-or-other from Russia. Oh, and Cleopatra. And -"
But she was not given the chance to finish.
"Cleopatra?" demanded Augusta. "Cleopatra!"
"What's so exciting about Cleopatra? I thought Queen Elizabeth sounded better."
"But Cleopatra!" said Augusta. "She was much more interesting than old Queen Liz. She was in love with millions of different men, and got smuggled into Julius Caesar's palace by being rolled up in a carpet, and she died by clasping an ass to her bosom."
Kathie and Mollie stared.
"An ass?" said Kathie uncertainly. "Are you sure?"
"Of course I'm sure. I used to have a book about her at home."
"But how would that kill someone?" said Mollie reasonably.
"I don't know. Probably it bit her. Or maybe it kicked her. You can die from being kicked by a horse, so I expect you can die from being kicked by a donkey too."
"Golly." Mollie looked impressed.
"Anyway," went on Augusta. "She'll have the best costume of any of them. I say, do you think they'd pick me to be her?"
"I shouldn't think so," said Kathie crushingly. "They'll only want us Juniors to do walking on parts."
"Yes, but they might, don't you think? I mean, if I was awfully good at it."
"But they're going to be plays with singing and stuff in them. You can't sing."
"I could learn."
They stared at her.
"I'm not sure you could, Gussie," said Mollie. "Your singing sounds like someone being tortured."
"It's not that bad," said Augusta, offended.
"Yes it is," said Kathie firmly. "It's dreadful. If Plato wasn't so jolly nice he'd chuck you out of his class. You always ruin his songs, poor old dear."
"Huh," said Augusta, for once almost silenced by criticism. After a moment or two she brightened slightly. "I bet he'd teach me if I asked, though."
"No he wouldn't." Mollie sounded scornful. "Your parents wouldn't pay him to."
Augusta fell silent, considering.
Author's Chapter Notes:
I feel Finn should really be a co-author on this, as she has given me most of the ideas for the story! All I've done is write 'em down!