With a cup of Kaffee in one hand, the Times Educational Supplement tucked under her arm, and a deckchair in the staff garden her intended destination, Nancy Wilmot was anticipating a very pleasant free period but it happens that the best laid schemes of mice, men, and mathematics mistresses often go awry, and so it was to be on this fine summer morning.
As Nancy progressed down the corridor towards the side door of the school, she couldn't help but noticing - and she did indeed try to ignore it - that a horrendous din was emanating from the Junior Middles' common room.
With a sigh - seeing her free period disappearing under a hail of interrogations, excuses, and punishments - rather reluctantly, Nancy went to intervene. Just as she approached the door, the loud cheering and clapping gave way to a terrifying crash, which was itself followed by a stunned silence, interrupted, after a moment or two, by a rather pitiful whimper.
Gritting her teeth and with a muttered "What on earth..." Nancy pushed open the door of the common room. The scene before her forced a sharp intake of breath, and her Kaffee, newspaper and deckchair were instantly forgotten as she sprung to action.
"You - run and get Matey. Now, girl! Don't just stand there gawping! And you - run to Miss Dene and tell her to telephone for Dr. Maynard. Be quick, child! As for the rest of you - go to your form rooms, please, and stay there until someone comes to you."
"Nancy! Just because you're the hero of the hour does not mean you can turn my desk upside down! What on earth do you think you are doing?"
Rosalind Moore's words met a turned back, however, for Nancy had moved on to the next desk and was flicking through the papers on it. Not finding what she sought, she moved onto the next desk, and the next, and after that, began scouting round the rest of the room.
"Kathie!" Rosalind turned to that lady. "What is she doing?"
"I don't know why you expect me to know," Kathie replied, calmly sipping her Kaffee. "I'm as much bemused by her as you are."
Nancy had worked her way round to the sofa on which Kathie was sitting by this point, and had begun fishing down behind its cushions. Kathie looked at her with an amused grin for a moment, and then suddenly lost patience.
"Nancy, stop it!"
Pulled from her single-minded quest by those forceful words, Nancy did indeed stop - momentarily. "What?"
"What are you doing? And whatever it is, can you stop it? You're annoying everyone."
Nancy waved her hands in a rather distracted way. "The paper! Someone's had away with it, and I want to read it. And I can't find it anywhere..."
This explanation fell on rather unsympathetic ears, but Nancy did not care. She was already halfway out of the room, intent on interrogating the library prefect, and, quite possibly, anyone else she found on her way.