"We have to find Daphne." stated Cecil to her friends once they had left the room. She had to admit she didn't want Fliss to know she had already lost her.
"Who's Daphne?" asked Guita as Meg simultaneously asked "Do you think Phil will be okay?"
"Pip?" said Cecil, "Of course. Elise will just glare at her a bit, then glare at Roddy a bit and hopefully agree with Pippa that Roddy should be Santa Claus in the parade. She can hardly punish them its not term and Roddy not a chalet school girl, at least not that I know of." then turning to Guita, "Daphne's my cousin. I'm sort of supposed to be looking after her..." she trailed of guiltily.
"Well can't she look after herself?" asked Guita nonplussed, "Is she just a kid? Why on earth did Aunt Joey entrust her to you?"
"Don't be mean Guita." scolded Meg. "I'm sure Cecils doing a bang up job... well 'til now anyhow..."
"She's not a little kid." Cecil herself interrupted now, "She's our age and she's very shy."
Guita looked unimpressed.
"Guita" started Cecil somewhat indignantly, "We can't all be like you (and well me and Meg) she's never even been to school before and her brothers and sisters are awfully older than her and she was ill and oh there's all sorts of reasons, so don't you be looking down on her like that. She's my cousin and i'm going to look out for her!" and Cecil stamped her foot.
"Okay, okay" said Meg playing peacekeeper, "Guita you don't know this girl give her a chance. Cecil you're sixteen not five. Why don't we just try and find your cousin. Maybe if she knows all three of us she'll come back down."
"It was my fault she left." said Cecil somewhat ashamed, "I said I would stick with her this afternoon, and then I saw you Guita- and well I forgot all about her."
"It'll be fine Cecey." comforted Meg, "you're only human."
"Well we might as well get this over with." groaned Guita, "Will we try her room? Lead on Cece."
Upstairs Cecil knocked on the door of Daphne's room.
"Daph it's me. I'm sorry I left you like that, but I've brought up a couple of my friends to meet you."
"Go away!" came the muffled reply.
"At least she's got some spunk." said Guita, "I thought she sounded like an awful goody good the way you were talking earlier Cecey." then she raised her voice. "Hi Daphne i'm Guita one of Cecils friends from school. Cecey knows she's made an ass of herself and if you're worried about meeting everyone well now at least you'll have met Meg and me. And you missed the greatest fight between Phil and Roddy."
"Oh really Guita" interrupted Meg" as if thats helping. Hi Daphne I'm Meg we met for like five minutes the other week remember. Look both Guita and Cecil come from big families but well for me theres always just been me and my older sister Elise. The first time we stayed on the Platz in the school holidays (you can probably tell from my voice that i'm american)."
"Probably?" muttered Cecil sotto voce.
Meg glared at her friend before carrying on, "and even though we stayed with Elise's godmother, Grizel Sheppard that you stayed with, meeting everyone, and everyone living inside each others pockets and everyone knowing everyone else was quite weird at first and it takes some getting used to. You've had it worst really staying with the Maynards, oh stop squealing Cecil your families massive and you know it, but really if you can get along with all these crazy people then I can assure you the rest of us are quite tame."
Finally Meg stepped away from the door, to be encountered with Cecil's glare.
"Oh Cece your crazy in the loveliest way possible and you know it." she hugged her friend.
Cecil giggled "gerrof me already." then to the door, "Daph i'm coming in."
There was no reply so Cecil slowly opened the door.
"Oh no" was all she said. The room was empty.
"I guess your Maynards are crazy speech didn't soothe her down then." said Guita with the a hint of a grin.
"Guita shut up and look at the wondow." and Cecil grabbed her friend.
"Oh the silly idiot." Guita stared at the open window.
"Well come on we have to go get her."
"Fliss! Fliss" shrieked Cecil at the full pitch of her lungs as she barrelled into the room. She almost cannoned into the two people standing so close together but she was so upset she hardly even noticed Seth's presence.
"Cecil." Felicity grabbed her sister. "What is going on? What are you doing barging in here like that." she sounded annoyed.
Cecil lifted tearful eyes to her sister. "Oh Fliss its all my fault." she trembled.
"Cecey, are you crying?" said Felicity startled, pulling her sister into her arms.
She looked questioningly at her sister's friends clustered in the doorway. She hadn't seen Cecil cry since Bruno died four years ago.
"It's Daphne" mustered Guita at last, "She's run away."
"Run away?" exclaimed Felicity. "But where? Does she even have any money? The trains aren't even running now it's Christmas time."
"We don't know." shrugged Meg. "She vaulted out of her bedroom window."
"Daphne." repeated Felicity slowly, "Her bedrooms on the second floor."
All Meg could do was shrug.
"Look Guita put on you outdoor things and check she's not just in the garden, she might have fallen" said Felicity taking control. "Meg go with her check the cloakroom and see if her coats still there, its brown none of the rest of us have a brown winter coat."
Once the others had left she continued, "Cecey, dearest, you need to pull yourself together just for now okay, I don't want the kids worrying and I need you. Now come on." and she pulled her sister up.
Felicity marched into the room, with Cecil and Seth on her heels.
"Fliss there you are. Guess what?" said Elise flashing one of her biggest smiles, "We've found ourselves a Santa Claus. Roddy's just volunteered."
"Great." Felicity forced something close to a smile, "Can I speak to you two outside for a second. Now."
Elise and Roddy looked at her curiously but followed her out. Phil pushed by trying to come to.
Felicity turned to her little sister. "Pippa I know you want to be involved but I need you to do me a huge favour. Stay here. Look after the little ones and generally be in charge. Please." Felicity was coming as close to begging as she knew how.
With a mutinous glare, and a questioning look at Cecil Phil went back into the room and closed the doors.
Meg came running back at that moment. "Everything's still here."
Cecil looked at her sister scared. "It's okay Cecey. You two look round the whole of the rest of the house. I know you think she's gone but she might have come back in and is hiding away please."
"Daphne's gone missing" she said to the people left, "she ran away, no coat, no nothing. Seth you go back inside and take charge if you don't mind. You don't know your way round the Platz." Seth looked about to argue with this but she wasn't even looking at him anymore so he shut up. "Roddy go down and tell Anna whats going on, she can let Mama and Papa know as soon as they get back and run a hot bath and whatever else. Then if you head off on the main road towards the San. Elise you head off towards the houses. She might unconsiously be going back to Auntie Grizels. I'll go find Felix and then i'll head up past the school and towards the Auberge, and that just leaves Felix the last main-ish road down towards the train station she won't know the trains are off."
None of them asked what happened if she had gone off the main paths.
Roddy sloped of to the kitchen. Elise hugged her friend before heading to the cloakroom for her coat and boots "lets all meet back here in an hour." she said.
"Where's Felix anyway?" asked Felicity of Seth, who was still standing there looking hesitant.
He went slightly red before replying, "I don't know. We had a bit of an argument."
Felix burst through the door at this moment, "Sis whats going on? Pip looks ready to burst with curiousity." he saw the two of them standing together in the hall, and barged his way in between them.
"Come on Felix" she said looking at the two of them in confusion, "I'll explain on the way. Get your boots on."
The two of them left and Seth was left standing in the hallway. Briefly he closed his eyes, before taking a deep breath and going back into the room