|The same day|
Lucy’s self-appointed guardian angels kept a close watch on her. The recipient of all this goodwill was partly relieved that she had nothing to fear even if Matey’s Mob were on to her (though she was still sure Matey was not the head of the gang) and partly irritated that she could not even go to the bathroom without someone accompanying her and waiting outside.
Immediately after lunch, Peggy was sent for by Matron.
‘I left my underwear drawer untidy this morning,’ Peggy said to the other girls. ‘She must have been doing an inspection.’
When the girls had got over the shock of hearing the word “underwear”, Nita expressed her puzzlement. ‘Don’t you think it’s odd that Peggy gets sent for so often for untidiness? She used to be one of the most goody-goody girls in the school.’
Daphne agreed. ‘Yes, she was nauseating. So what’s changed all of a sudden?’
Lucy had a fair idea but she couldn’t say anything. Obviously there were instructions to be passed on and they must be fairly urgent if Peggy was being sent for in the middle of the school day. She resolved to keep her eyes and ears open for any more strange deliveries though she hoped there would be no more bodies.
The afternoon walk was pleasant, as it was a beautifully crisp October afternoon. Lucy thought it hardly likely that dodgy deliveries would arrive during the day, but she kept alert for any vehicles even so. After an uneventful walk, during which Lucy was kept so well under guard by her classmates that she was beginning to feel like a convict, they returned to school more than ready to demolish the bread twists and cakes for afternoon tea.
After prep, when a message arrived for Lucy that Matron wanted to see her in the San., Lucy began to feel a little nervous. What if the Matey Mob were on to her? Though Matron could hardly kidnap her in the middle of a normal evening, she reasoned. It was with relief that Lucy saw Nita automatically get up to accompany her.
‘You can go in to Matey yourself,’ Nita said. ‘But I’ll be waiting outside the door.’
‘Thank you, Nita,’ Lucy said politely.
When Matey opened the San. door to Lucy’s knock, she saw Nita hovering. ‘What are you doing here, Nita?’
‘Our form agreed to help Lucy stay good by going everywhere with her,’ Nita said. ‘Then she can’t run off again.’
Trembling, Lucy entered the San., noticing that the red cross was back on the door. Well of course Matey wouldn’t want Peggy blundering in with news of the latest delivery. Or worse.
‘I’m just checking on your health since you were in the San. so recently,’ Matron said, doing some routine checks like Lucy’s pulse, checking her tongue and getting her to say “Ah” and taking her temperature.
‘And are you settling in better now, Lucy? I assume it was homesickness that caused all your bad behaviour.’
‘Yes, Matron, I’m settling in very well thank you. My classmates have been very good in making me feel at home and they’re keeping a close eye on me.’
Matron looked slightly disconcerted but said nothing other than to dismiss Lucy.
‘What was all that about?’ Nita asked when they got back to the common room, no talking being allowed in the corridors.
‘Matron was checking if I was quite well now, as I’d been in the San. recently.’
‘Well I’ve never known her do that before!’ Nita said. ‘She drags people off there at the drop of a hat and won’t let them back to school for ages, but once you’re out she’s normally forgotten all about you.’
‘And she wanted to know if I was settling in. She said she assumed my bad behaviour had been caused by homesickness.’
‘There’s definitely something wrong with Matron!’ Nita exclaimed. ‘She couldn’t give two hoots as to why anyone behaves badly. She just gives them miles of sheets to sew!’
The other girls heard Nita and, with the exception of Peggy, tended to agree. A lively debate ensued as to whether Matey was ill, in love or losing her marbles, interrupted only by the bell for Supper. On balance they favoured her losing her marbles as Matey was never ill and no-one could imagine her with a boyfriend.
Peggy sat beside Lucy at Supper, putting Lucy immediately on her guard, but Peggy appeared only to want to be friendly and didn’t ask anything out of the ordinary. The discussion about sport continued when they went back to their Common Room and until bedtime.
Lucy felt very tired and was glad to get undressed and tumble into bed where she fell asleep almost instantly. The other girls seemed to be in a very sound sleep too, which meant that no-one heard Peggy go to the dormitory door and open it cautiously to admit two others who, directed by Peggy, headed straight for Lucy’s bed.
Author's Chapter Notes:
Lucy feels reassured by the guarding presence of her classmates. But what's up with Matey?