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The atmosphere in the staffroom had been gritty with bad temper and irritation all day. "That time of the month again," Nancy Wilmot chuckled to herself, but really it was no joke. The murderous glances that Kathie Ferrars had been shooting down the table at Miss Annersley were certainly a cause for concern, and Nancy thought it was probably wise to step in before her beloved did something she'd regret.

As Abendessen was cleared away and the staff left the Speisesaal, Nancy loitered in the corridor.

"Kath," she beckoned, spotting that lady in the melee. Kathie approached her, the black look on her face lifting slightly as Nancy gently took hold of her arm and murmured in her ear. "Nip upstairs, my love, and get your outdoor shoes and your coat. We're breaking out of this place."

***

"Oh, you are a wonder, my love," Kathie exclaimed, an hour or so later as the two of them were settled side by side at one of the tables of the Inn at the Auberge. "I really did need to get out of there this evening. It's just too, too oppressive at the moment. Someone's going to kill someone if it carries on like this."

(Kathie's words were true enough. The staff sitting-room they'd left behind was not a pleasant place right then: Miss Charlesworth and Miss Burnett were sniping at each other; Mdlle was crossly hobbling about following an unfortunate needlework incident; and Miss Yolland, Miss Stone, and Miss Andrews were each emanating such general irritation with the rest of world that it would be a brave individual indeed who tried to engage any of them in conversation.)

"A breath of fresh air - and a nice drink - is always what the doctor ordered," Nancy grinned complacently, raising her glass to Kathie. "But - my love - do you want to tell me why you've been looking like you want to murder our dear leader this evening?"

Kathie looked a little confused, and then aghast. "Who? Oh, Hilda...oh. You noticed...?"

Nancy reached out and touched her hand. "Of course I did. Now, what's going on?"

***

As Kathie explained how Miss Annersley's disciplinary action against Upper IVb had resulted in those young ladies being almost twenty minutes late for their geography lesson ("Twenty minutes, Nance! The lesson was only forty minutes long in total! There was barely time for them to sit down and get out their books before they had to pack up again! Honestly, it's just so unprofessional of her!") Nancy did feel some considerable sympathy with her partner.

"It wasn't really on for her to wreck your lesson as well as her own, I think," Nancy shrugged. "But you know, Hilda's only human...I suppose she's allowed to get grumpy and irrational like the rest of us."

"Well, I'm also only human, and therefore I'm allowed to harbour grumpy and irrational and slightly murderous thoughts too," Kathie responded, and then grinned. "However, if you go and buy me another drink, I will endeavour to put those thoughts out of my mind and be charming company for the rest of the evening."

"Are you trying to get me drunk, Kathie Ferrars?"

"What, and then take advantage of you? Never, my love, never! I'm actually trying to get you to get me drunk, and then you can take advantage of me. Now, go and get us more drinks!"




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