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“And that brings us to this time of the year again,” said Lucy Peters as she looked around her fellow prefects expectantly.


“That time of the year what?” asked Felicity Maynard, who was tilting slightly on her chair, a bored expression on her face.


“For the Sale, idiot,” retorted Lucy, pulling her friend’s chair back upright. Felicity stuck her tongue out in reply. “Any ideas anyone?”


Felicity shrugged. “Only it’d ought to be something to better what my sisters managed,” she said with a grin. “Not that I’ve got any ideas, mind you, completely devoid of them. I am like a black hole, or something,” she added with a giggle, stopping as she noticed Lucy frowning at her.


“I can’t think of anything that’s not been done before though,” groaned Jean Morrison. “Everyone seems to have bagged all the best ideas before.”


“Well we’re not going to get anywhere with such a defeatist attitude, are we?” put in Molly Winters suddenly.


“Got something up your sleeve, Moll?” asked Felicity. “Isn’t there something typically Derbyshire-ish we could do?”


Molly shrugged. “I never pay attention to these things when I’m home for the hols – the county’s just full of sheep and hills. Although…” she paused and thought for a moment. “I do believe I may just have a germ of an idea…”


Felicity gave a whoop of delight, silenced by a glare from Lucy. “Sorry, Moll. Go on with your idea.”


“There’s Well Dressing,” said Molly.


“What on earth…” began Felicity.


“Ooooooooh,” came from Jean suddenly. “I’ve seen that when we were there on holiday a few years ago. There’s a picture in the geog text book of it – you know the one, Lucy.”


“And Mr Darcy’s Pemberley is in Derbyshire,” added Molly.


Felicity sat bolt upright, her eyes shining. “Is anyone else thinking what I’m thinking?”


“Possibly not,” retorted Jean.


“A Pemberley, Derbyshire sale!” exclaimed Felicity, pushing her hands through her hair. “Don’t you see? We could have a backdrop of hills and… and someone who knows Pride and Prejudice better than me could think of themed stalls from it. And we can have people dressed up as Pride and Prejudice characters. And… and… isn’t that Plague place in Derbyshire?”


“Eyam? Yes,” replied Molly.


“So we can do something with that. And the Lucky Dip could be a dressed well…”


“There’s a sheep dipping bridge or something in Ashford-in-the-Water,” put in Molly, catching on to Felicity’s enthusiasm. “We could have that leading up to the Lucky Dip Well. And there are plenty of other famous Derbyshire people we could have people dress up as. Plus I’m sure my parents could get us some edibles – like Buxton water, and Dove Dale cheese, and Bakewell Tart, and Swizzels Sweets. And there are village carnivals EVERYWHERE so we’d have to have a carnival queen and things,” she stopped to catch her breath as Felicity grinned expectantly at the others.


Lucy smiled. “I do believe we have a plan. I just hope the Abbess will agree to it!”


“Oh I’m sure she will!” exclaimed Felicity as she suddenly burst into a fit of giggles. “I’ve just thought of the pièce de résistance.” She glanced around the puzzled expressions of her fellow prefects. “We can dress Bruno up as a sheep!”


*


To begin with, her fellow prefects looked at Felicity as though she had gone completely mad before they fell about in peals of laughter at the thought of it.


 


“You can’t be serious, Fliss,” groaned Jean, managing to pull herself together momentarily.


Felicity looked wounded. “Of course I am. I’m sure Mamma will agree.”


“That’s as may be,” put in Lucy thoughtfully, looking every inch the Head Girl. “But we do need to send a deputation to the Abbess about it first of all before Fliss had any more wild ideas.”


Felicity looked indignant. “She’ll love it. How can she not when it’s full of such literary references as Pride and Prejudice?” She stopped as Lucy raised her eyebrow. “So who’s going to be in the deputation to the Head then?”


“Not you for a start,” retorted Lucy. “Molly will have to go, of course. And Jean, we can rely on you to be sensible.”


“And you as well, Lucy” replied Jean, blushing.


“That’s a given,” grinned Felicity.


 


The deputation duly presented itself at Miss Annersley’s study the following afternoon, having refined its ideas regarding the Sale as well as vetoing a few of Felicity’s wilder ones. However, as that young lady had so confidently predicted, the Head had listened to the proposal with interest and enthusiasm, declaring it to be a fine idea indeed.


 


“Well?” demanded Felicity, leaping from her seat in the common room at the return of the deputation. “Did she like it?”


“Careful, Fliss, you’ll have us all over leaping about like that,” grumbled Peggy Simpson whose knitting she had upset.


“Fliss, you idiot,” giggled Lucy. “The Abbess has agreed to it.”


“Hurrah!” cried Felicity, pirouetting (or a close approximation thereof) in the middle of the common room floor. “We’ll make this Sale the best ever or my name’s not Felicity Josephine Maynard!”


 


*


The usual fervour of excitement descended on the school once they knew what The Sale, for it was always spoken of in capital letters, was to be and what they would be doing for it. The Hobbies Club was, as ever, devoted to producing items for The Sale and all the girls were giving their absolute all to ensure that it would be the best ever. The Juniors were thrilled with their lucky dip and being allowed to help create the dressed well and the sheep dipping bridge. The Middles had been given the Pemberley stall for the games and quizzes and they were all trying their hardest to remain on their best behaviour in order that this treat was not taken away from them. The Seniors were to take charge of the other stalls which fell under the umbrella of a village carnival and the more ambitious among them determined to have the stalls looking like carnival floats.


 


“I do believe we’re jolly organised on the whole Sale front,” Lucy Peters concluded at a Prefects’ meeting a few weeks later.


“Mamma had a letter from Tom Gay the other day,” put in Felicity suddenly. “She’s sending the usual doll’s house but she was being very mysterious about what she’d managed to do this time. All the same, hurrah for Tom, I say, she’s never let us down!”


“No, she hasn’t,” replied Lucy thoughtfully as she turned to Jean Morrison. “How are the entertainments coming along Jean? The Morris dancing didn’t seem to be going overly well when I put my head round the Hall door the other evening.”


Jean grinned. “It’s getting there – I must say though it’s trickier to learn than I could have ever imagined. But the sketches are going really well – the one about Eyam and the Plague is brilliant and the ones about the Mermaid on Kinder Scout and Hob Hurst the giant are going really well too.”


“Oh, I almost forgot to mention,” said Lucy suddenly. “Gaudenz is going to make us a second sheep dipping bridge to go over to the garden at Freudesheim – the clock golf and the like will be there.”


“Oh how tophole!” exclaimed Felicity. “That reminds me though, I must mention to Mamma about borrowing Bruno for the occasion…”


 


*


Felicity had been rather cloak and dagger about her plans for Bruno after her initial declaration of intent not wanting everyone to know about it in case something should go disastrously wrong. The following day, for once with a clear conscience, Felicity made her way to Miss Annersley’s study to beg permission to pay a brief visit to Freduesheim that afternoon in her free period. Relieved to have escaped unscathed and without having to reveal her idea to the Head, Felicity slipped out of the school that afternoon and through the adjoining gate to Freudesheim where she found her mother, once Joey Bettany of the Chalet School, in the back garden deeply engrossed in her latest book. Grinning to herself, Felicity crept up on her mother appearing around that lady’s shoulder to plant a kiss on her cheek.


 


“Oh Felicity!” cried Jo. “You made me jump!”


“Sorry Mamma,” grinned her irrepressible daughter in reply, plumping down into the seat beside Jo. “I couldn’t help myself.”


“You never could,” her mother retorted. “What brings you over here at this time of the day anyway?”


“I’ve got a favour to ask of you.” Jo raised an eyebrow. “Would you lend me Bruno for the Sale?”


“What on earth do you want him for?” asked Jo, her curiosity wildly aroused.


“It’s a secret. Please Mamma, it’ll spoil the surprise if I tell anyone, even you. Not even Auntie Hilda knows.”


“This is all a bit cloak and dagger isn’t it?”


“Yes, Mamma, it’s a secret.”


Jo sighed. “Very well, Felicity, you may borrow Bruno and I’m intrigued to see what you want with him! Which reminds me, I’ve started on some jigsaws for you.”


“Ripping! I’d better get back to school, I promised Auntie Hilda I’d only be a few minutes and I’ve got some beastly geog prep to be getting on with or Ferry will eat me alive!”


 


Jo sighed and shook her head as she watched Felicity bound off through the gate back to the Chalet School.


 


*


“I can’t believe it’s tomorrow!” exclaimed Felicity excitedly the evening before The Sale as she, Lucy and Jean stood in the middle of the Hall surveying the preparations for the following day. “Doesn’t it all look…” she paused, searching her vocabulary for the adjective that would best sum up the way she was feeling.


“Gollumptious,” supplied Lucy.


“Yes,” replied Felicity with a grin. “That would be it.”


“What’s there left to do in the morning?” asked Jean cautiously.


Lucy glanced at the list in her hand. “Sorting out the things for the refreshments, putting everything on the stalls and…”


“And what?” was Felicity’s anxious question.


“Has Auntie Jo said anything to you about Tom’s doll’s house?”


Felicity shrugged. “Not that I can recall other than that she was sending one. I expect she’ll have sent it to Mamma as usual so that we don’t get beside ourselves with curiosity and peek at it before the day.”


“I suppose you’re right,” sighed Lucy. “Jean, did you make sure the door was locked on the costume cupboard?”


Jean nodded. “I’m not a complete idiot, Lu. If it had been Fliss…”


“Slander!” retorted Felicity with a swift punch to her friend’s arm.


“Idiots,” grinned Lucy. “Isn’t this all simply marvellous?”


“Yes,” replied Felicity promptly. “And we’ve done it all ourselves. It’s our Sale and it’s going to beat the lot of them.”


“Fliss…” began Jean.


“Yes?”


“Bruno.”


“What about him?”


“You’re not still going ahead with that crazed scheme of yours about dressing him up as a sheep are you?”


“Might be.”


“Does your mother know?”


“She knows I’m borrowing Bruno just not what I’m doing with him.”


Lucy giggled. “I wouldn’t like to be in your shoes tomorrow when she finds out!”


“Oh Mamma won’t mind – she couldn’t, not after all the things she got up to when she was a pupil here! Anyway, let’s go back to the Common Room, we can’t stay here all night.”


 


With some reluctance the three tore themselves away from the Hall bedecked in its backdrops of hills. The well dressing had been set up in one corner for the Juniors and the village carnival in another for the Seniors, but standing proud above it all was Pemberley which, with a lot of help from Gaudenz, they had modelled on Chatsworth House. The refreshments would be served out in the grounds under the guise of a village teashop which would need completing the following morning. The three headed back to the Common Room with a mixture of anticipation and nerves, hoping fervently that the following day would be the success they all wanted it to be.


 


*


Felicity awoke early the following morning as the light streamed in through the window of her dormitory. Stealing a glance at her watch she discovered that it wasn’t quite six yet and sighed. The dormitory was silent, the rest of her charges all sound asleep. Stealthily, Felicity sat up in bed and peeked out between the curtains, thankful of the advantages to having a window cubicle, breathing a quick sigh of relief at the sight of the clear blue sky and rising sun. Burrowing back down beneath her covers, she reached for her book to keep her occupied until the rising bell sounded throughout the school, little knowing that she hadn’t been the only one checking the weather before it was time to get up.


 


“Show a leg! Show a leg!”


 


There was a frantic scramble within moments of the rising bell, everyone only too keenly aware how precious time was in the mornings at the Chalet School. Most of the girls had already been awake by the time the bell had rung, unable to sleep through excitement. Permission had to be granted for them to speak in their own languages at breakfast in a desperate bid to try and calm things down a little, but to no avail.


 


The Prefects were supervising the last details in the Hall before everyone needed to go and change into their costumes. Muttering something to Lucy to excuse herself, only a couple of the girls noticed Felicity slip off from the Hall and wondered where she was going…


 


*


“Bruno, for goodness sake, hold still just for a moment!” exclaimed Felicity despairingly as she tried her hardest to attach her carefully prepared costume on to her mother’s pride and joy. Bruno, however, wasn’t quite as enthralled by this plan and seemed determined to thwart her. Felicity flopped to the floor with a sigh as she and Bruno eyed each other suspiciously.


“Fliss?” Recognising Jean’s voice as she knocked on the door, Felicity leapt to her feet, opened the door of the store cupboard a fraction and pulled Jean inside. “What on earth are you doing?”


“Bruno the sheep, remember.”


Jean stared wide eyed at her friend. “I thought you were joking.”


“Wish I had been,” grumbled Felicity. “I can’t get him to sit still to put this wretched costume on. You’ll have to help.”


Jean stared at Felicity in disbelief. “You are kidding?”


“No. I’m quite serious for once in my life.”


“But we haven’t time. Lucy sent me to look for you because people are just about to start arriving. She’s going frantic wondering where you’re hiding out! It might just be best to forget about it, Fliss.”


“Not likely,” she retorted. “It’ll only take a moment with two of us. Please Jean?”


 


Jean sighed and the two of them set to work, emerging from the store cupboard several minutes later with a sheepish Bruno following several paces behind, looking rather disgruntled with his lot.


 


“Fliss, there you are!” exclaimed Lucy as Felicity and Jean entered the Hall. “Where have you…” she broke off, catching sight of Bruno as he walked sedately in after the two of them. “Fliss, is that…”


“What?” was the innocent question posed in reply.


“Bruno?” asked Lucy tentatively.


“Yup.”


“Oh good grief!”


“Lucy, Felicity.” Their Headmistress’ voice broke the conversation and they turned to see her standing holding out a box to them. “I thought you might want this. It’s from Tom…” she broke off on sight of Bruno and, for the first time in a very long time, Miss Annersley was rendered completely and utterly speechless.


 


*


Lucy reached out and took the box from her Headmistress and made a sharp exit with it.


 


“Miss Annersley?” queried Felicity tentatively.


The Headmistress of the Chalet School shook herself, suddenly regaining the power of speech. “Is that…”


“Bruno, yes,” replied Felicity matter of factedly.


“I see. Does your mother know?”


Felicity awkwardly rubbed the back of her left leg with her right foot. “She knows I’ve borrowed him…”


Miss Annersley raised an eyebrow. “I see,” she began, breaking off as a voice drifted across the Hall that they both knew so well.


“Mamma!” exclaimed Felicity upon seeing that lady. “We weren’t expecting you just yet.”


“Well I’d got myself into such a muddle with the new book that I thought I’d be better off over here. Felicity?”


“Yes?” She followed her mother’s gaze to Bruno.


“Is that…”


Felicity sighed. “Bruno. Yes.”


 


As Miss Annersley had been, Joey Maynard found herself also rendered completely speechless before she began to laugh and the laugh was infectious. Soon she and Miss Annersley were clinging to each other laughing helplessly as they sank inelegantly into the nearest chairs. Bruno looked at them both disapprovingly and with a resounding “woof” bounded away across the Hall.


 


“Bruno! No! Come back!” cried Felicity setting off after him at full pelt in order to prevent too much chaos being caused, eventually catching up with him at the other end of the Hall where no damage had been done but two small Juniors were a little shaken having not quite managed to get out of the way of Bruno’s path on time. “Come on Bruno,” she said with a sigh, reluctantly attaching his lead to him. “I want to go and have a look at Tom’s doll’s house.”


 


Felicity found the rest of the Prefects gathered around the newly opened parcel from Tom Gay.


 


“Fliss, look,” said Lucy excitedly. “Tom’s well and truly outdone herself this time!”


 


Lucy and Molly shuffled a little to allow Felicity to squeeze in between them and she found herself looking at a Pemberley doll’s house complete with a Mr Darcy and Elizabeth.


 


“Wow,” breathed Felicity. “But what’s the competition?”


“It’s a peach,” grinned Jean, handing over a sheet of paper to her friend.


*


Felicity regarded the piece of paper in her hand for a moment before she began to chuckle. “It certainly is that!” she grinned, peering closely at the doll’s house.


“No cheating, Fliss,” said Lucy jovially, pulling Felicity back. “Wait until you’ve paid before you start doing that!”


Felicity gave a friendly shrug in reply. “It’s jolly splendid though. I wonder if anyone will get it,” she mused as she and Lucy wandered away from the stall. “Mamma’s already here so I guess everyone else must be thinking about arriving shortly.” She tucked her arm through Lucy’s. “I do hope it will all go okay.”


“I’m sure it will,” replied Lucy thoughtfully. “I really hope it does. I couldn’t bear it if it doesn’t.”


“It won’t if you’re going to be like that about it,” retorted Felicity resolutely. “Come on, let’s go and make sure everything’s under control. Bruno!”


 


On hearing Felicity’s voice, Bruno obediently trotted after her wondering when exactly he would be able to get out of this ludicrous costume.


 


The Hall was soon full of people browsing the stalls waiting for indication that they could begin to purchase. Several things had already been earmarked by people and a sense of eager anticipation hung in the air. Eventually the whistle blew and the Sale was open.




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