The delegation of prefects filed in an orderly fashion out of Miss Annersley’s study. A casual observer would not have noticed anything unusual about the group, but a more perspicacious observer would have spotted some signs of confusion on their shiny faces. They walked in silence towards the prefect’s room and broke the news about the sale to the remaining assembled prefects. The news was greeted by a profound silence, which was eventually broken by Emmy-Lou Maynard.
“They want us to have what as a sale?”
“A French Revolution theme,” repeated the Head Girl.
“Err… we are not quite sure,” replied one of the Elliot twins, although nobody was quite sure which twin it was (in fact for a whole term nobody had realised there were actually two of them, a clerical error meant that only one of the twins had been entered for the Chalet School. This mistake had been discovered by a lowly Middle, who on accidentally blacking the eye of one of the twins, then spotted the other who did not have a black eye. Naturally Mrs Maynard had claimed all the credit for their discovery).
“We think,” added the second Elliot twin, “that Miss Annersley and Miss Dene felt that the last sale was a little too Mrs Maynard orientated.”
“You mean the My Bruno and Other Animals sale?”
“Yes… they did comment on that, they said it wasn’t really fair that Bruno should have won all the pet prizes, especially the obedience prize.”
“He’s very obedient!” cried Emmy-Lou.
“He flattened the judge!”
“And he and Mary-Lou Trelawney should not have won the best guinea pig shown by a student category,” added another Elliot (they were, in fact, triplets but so far nobody had discovered this).
“I mean, Mary-Lou is hardly a student, she is 40 if she is a day!”
“Anyway, I don’t see what is wrong with a Books of Josephine M Bettany Sale.”
“Well Miss Annersley obviously does, and she and Miss Dene suggested the French Revolution as an alternative. In fact, they have promised to provide their own stall for it,” said the Head Girl firmly.
“Well, lets get planning,” said one of the Elliots, “We should make this the most interesting sale yet!” She little realised how prophetic her words were to be.
Miss Annersley and Miss Dene strolled serenely though the pre-sale chaos. They admired each inventive stall, the lucky dip was based upon the carriage the French royal family had tried to escape to Austria in., Tom Gay had sent a model of the Bastille, the prize was to guess how many prisoners were incarcerated within. But the pieces de resistance were the two fully functioning model guillotines. The two women surveyed them with pride.
“If it works, it will be worth all that back breaking work,” muttered Hilda.
“It will work,” replied Rosalie firmly, “Now, lets go over the plan one more time.”
“When Joey and Mary-Lou arrive at the sale I will greet them graciously as if Joey had never dared to correct my knowledge of the French Revolution,” said Hilda.
“I will hover by the guillotines,” added Rosalie.
“When I lead Joey and Mary-Lou towards you, you knock out the support pegs which will then enable the blades to descend fully.”
“Joey and Mary-Lou will insert their heads, the blade will fall, and ‘bye bye’!”
“Here they come! Oh hell, she has brought that wretched dog with her too!” Hilda hurried over to greet the school’s foundation stone, and the pain who had inherited her mantle.
“Hilda!” cried Joey airily as Bruno leapt up at the dignified Head Mistress, “Why a French Revolution Sale? Why not a Napoleonic sale? That way I could have helped more. You know it’s my period of history”
Hilda smiled thinly as she attempted to fend off the amorous attentions of Bruno.
“Or you could have done an archaeology sale,” butted in Mary-Lou.
“Perhaps you would like to view the sale we have produced?” said Hilda acidly, and she slowly began to lead them to the guillotines which were doing a roaring trade.
Unfortunately for Hilda and Rosalie they had not taken Bruno into their plans. Smelling the scent of cake drifting from the “Have they no bread?” stall, he made a bid for freedom, at the same time as Rosalie knocked out the pegs from the guillotines. Instead of laying their heads above the baskets, Joey and Mary-Lou rushed after Bruno. Miss Wilson and Miss Ferrars took their place at the guillotine. The little middle, dressed as a Sans Culotte, with a red cap, pulled a lever and the blades descended.