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"Sit down, please, girls," Miss Ferrars said as she prepared herself mentally for the challenges of drilling Mathematics into a class of uninterested 12-year-old girls. "Today, we shall be looking at the Cartesian - what is it, Carlotta?"

"Please, Miss, my book's gone missing," Carlotta von Ahlen said, looking worried.

"My pencil case has gone missing, too," another of the form, Lucy Peters, said.

Miss Ferrars looked puzzled. Neither of these two would usually have items missing for a lesson, though less could be said of some of their friends. "Anyone else lost items?"

"My coat wasn't there earlier before our walk," Win Everett said. "But we didn't need them,"

"My Geography stuff is missing," Anastasia Mucci said.

About half of the form seemed to have various items missing, ranging from the popular girl Henriette Beaumont's paints to new girl Bethany Stapleton's hair pins. Some, like Win and Bethany, could for the present manage without their items (in fact, Bethany grew attached to her new hairstyle even after her pins were found!), and others had managed to borrow items already, but others still would not be able to manage without what was missing.

"For now, we won't search for the missing items," Miss Ferrars said. "If anyone would like to say that they hid the items and would like to disclose their whereabouts, they are free to do so, but otherwise I will have to inform the other teachers, and I doubt they'll be pleased,"

Nobody said anything or did anything to show that they had hidden everyone else's stuff.

"Well, no-one is going to own up straight away, apparently," Miss Ferrars said. "Carlotta and Lise, please ask in the office for lined paper, and ensure that there is enough for everyone who is missing an exercise book of any kind. Those of you without various textbooks will have to share for now. The rest of you will just have to manage for now,"

"But what about my pencil case?" Lucy said.

"I could lend you a pen and pencil," Bethany said. "I always keep extras,"

"That's good of you, Bethany," Miss Ferrars said, as Bethany passed over the items. "You'll want a ruler as well, but I can lend you one,"

A while later, when everyone was settled and learning and with paper, Miss Annersley walked into the room, and an instant stand-up occurred. She motioned for them to sit down, and spoke.

"Lise Leitner, could you come to my study, please?" she asked.

Lise turned pale, but left the room to head for the Head's office.

"I see some of you have been forgetful," Miss Annersley said. "Or is there something I should know about?"

"About half of the form have found that various of their items have gone missing overnight," Miss Ferrars said. "Without explanation. None of the girls seem to have any idea of what happened, though,"

"I see," Miss Annersley said.

Miss Annersley and Miss Ferrars talked on the matter a bit more before Miss Annersley addressed the class, telling them of the seriousness of the offence and asked if any of them would like to own up. None of them did, so she said that if the offender was in their class, they could expect no mercy.

"You're not going to punish us all, are you?" asked Jean Morrison, nervously.

"Innocent until proven guilty," Miss Annersley replied. "No, Jean, I am not going to punish you all - unless, of course, I discover this is an elaborate trick by all of you in the first place,"

***

"Fliss?"

"Uh-huh?"

"Have you seen Bethany anywhere?"

"Uh, no?"

"Oh," Lucy said, as she watched Felicity wreck a pair of stockings. "Hey, silly, you've done it all wrong,"

"I hate needlework," Felicity said, glowering at the garment menacingly.

"You don't get enough practice," Lucy reasoned. "You should get heavy on your feet, rather than walking around with fairy steps. Do you have any idea where Beth might be? I need to return her pen,"

"But we still don't know where our stuff is," Felicity said. "Jean was livid earlier; she discovered her hockey stick was missing. No-one's confessed and the whole school knows about it. I pity the kid who actually did it,"

"Do you think that it'll be like the gate?" Lucy asked. "No-one's found out who that was, either. As for the pen, I was tidying my locker, and I found a stray one I lost months ago. It still works, so I don't need to use Bethany's any more,"

"I don't know," Felicity replied. "When the gate to Freudesheim was stuck together, meaning we couldn't get through, the problem itself was quickly resolved before it became too much of a problem, and it didn't affect our lessons. This is different,"

"Okay, well, I'm going to look for Bethany," Lucy said.

Lucy passed by a ranting Jean, left the common room, and started walking down a corridor when she was collided with by an excitable girl.

"Wha - Bethany!" Lucy exclaimed.

"Sorry!" Bethany said. "Just this way, that room outside the Upper III common room, come with!"

"Sorry, Beth, but for a second there I thought you had lost your ability to communicate in English," Lucy said.

"I've just found something! Come see!" Bethany was undeterred.

"That explains everything," muttered Lucy.

It wasn't a long journey to that room.

"Gosh!" said Lucy. "It's all our things!"

"I know!" Bethany looked pleased with herself.

"Do you think it was those kids in the Upper III?" Lucy said. "They don't really like us that much, last year they played all of these tricks on us, trying to get us into trouble,"

"It would make sense," Bethany said. "What do we do now?"

"We go tell the Abbess," Lucy said. "I think that's the sensible thing to do,"

They left the room and closed the door. A group of Upper III girls turned the corner, saw the two Lower IV girls, and produced some of the guiltiest looks they could.

"Hi!" Lucy said.

The girls looked away and scurried off into their common room.

"Yep, just those Upper III kids," Lucy said. "And they'll get what's coming to them, I bet,"

 




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