|Emerence had made it through her time at the Chalet School well enough so far. Admittedly she still struggled with the restrictions of obeying the rules, and needed to burn energy far more than she was always able to in term time. Peggy Burnett and Biddy O'Ryan did all they could to help her get more exercise without detection. Even Matey no longer interfered with her too much, although she still found the idea of a flying middle terrifying in the extreme. Emerence was at least able to have fairly free rein during the school holidays, rather than being kept indoors at the slightest sign of rain or bad weather. |
As her abilities and strength grew, she found that she wandered further afield, feeling that her risk of discovery was less if she was performing rescues in other countries. Also flying to the continent or America once a week or so helped her cope with limited energy drain on the other days. She even began to work a little more steadily, and move up the form lists slightly, as she now had a reason to learn all that she could, if only to be sure where she was,, or whether the shouts of bystanders watching the rescues were thanks or abuse. Also, she was getting gradually more able to control her mind racing - her mission to help others with her powers had given her a greater sense of peace and self control. Even so, she found much of the work they had to do tedious in the extreme, when she could be out flying or investigating the world.
She realised soon enough that those around her were right to try to protect her identity, as the media began to notice her feats of strength and she knew it would not be long before people might try to find out who she was. Luckily, she had plenty of money, and so after a little thought, she came up with a plan. She flew to America and arranged the design of a strong protective suit with a green mask hiding her features. Once she had done this, she felt brave enough to attempt to go even further afield, surprising her mother and father by appearing on their doorstep in Sydney one early weekend morning. They were amazed at the difference in their daughter, and proud of her new mission, although afraid of the risks she was taking of being discovered. Still, they could tell that Emerence needed this aim, was more stable with a strong focus in life like this, so they just wished her well and warned her to be careful not to get caught.
As she was about to leave, her mother handed her a small fabric patch, with a double E shape, telling her that it came from the pod she arrive in. Emerence took hold of it, and it suddenly glowed, bright green, nearly blinding, then attached to her costume. They all were awed by this, and lost any doubts that this mission of hers was the right path for the girl, however young she was in theory. Emerence hugged her parents close, then made her way back before she was missed by any staff. Even at her speed, the trip to Australia took some time, so she couldn't often risk returning home in term time, but knowing that her parents were proud of her helped her to keep going through the disapproval she had to endure elsewhere.
In order to hide her other activities, Emerence ended up appearing to be unreliable and disobedient at school, for her fear of giving herself away made her often go quite far the other way, to appear not to accept any responsibility or to care about things. She also decided to hide her growing abilities in languages, for her time exploring other countries led to her picking up words and phrases that she would struggle to explain having learnt. So Emerence's alter ego was born, and she did all she could to keep it consistent.
Emerence was often tempted to tell Biddy O'Ryan or Peggy Burnett of her other life, the rescues she had done, for she found it hard to be apparently so childish and selfish. However, being "EE" was important to her, and she doubted she could stop now. She knew that the staff might feel they ought to tell Miss Annersley, and she might be forbidden to continue or be made to leave the school. She'd settled relatively well there now, and wanted her anonymity, to be able to be a relatively normal school girl. In addition, she still had her deep fear of medical or military staff, and of being captured and experimented on, and so having a safe haven, somewhere no one would dream a super hero lived, was vital.
So her double life went on, and her reputation for being a law unto herself began to form. Unfortunately, Emerence found that her seeming not to care about rules seemed foolish to many of the girls she would prefer to have been friends with, and from being on the verge of being part of The Gang, headed by Mary Lou, she found herself the following term becoming part of a more childish and mischievous set, with such sinners as Primrose Trevoase and Priscilla Dawburn. This suited her alias well, for they were a thoughtless crew, unused to strict rules themselves, so willing to cover for her absences without paying attention and asking awkward questions the way that Mary Lou and co might have done.
She was shocked more than most when the news came about moving to Switzerland, and inwardly dreaded the extra language days. She was already gaining so much skill in languages that she found it hard to keep up her apparent difficulty with them, and wished that she had thought her plan through better before starting on this alias of laziness. With such regular days of languages she would have to gradually appear to improve, and she knew that it would be easy to slip into suddenly speaking or understanding better than she normally did, especially as she supposedly knew barely any German at all. There was nothing she could do however, but try to gradually improve along with the level of those around her, and hope that she remembered to play her part as unskilled and thoughtless.
She had been able to get out for more exercise in the holidays, but she was having her usual beginning of term situation, where the need to sit still for such a long time during the day was a form of torture to her. She could feel the fuzziness that covered her brain when she couldn't get rid of her physical energy, and didn't want to end up in a row so early on in the term. The worry about the move and whether she would be able to get away and fly from this new location was almost unbearable. If she could have found Biddy she would have asked her for more information, but Miss O'Ryan was with the other staff, getting all the 'hanes' from Joey Maynard about their own move. Emerence had to give up searching for her, as she didn't want to call attention to herself by asking for Biddy at the staff room door. She felt as though she just HAD to move, get some of her worries out of her in activity. She knew that she couldn't get away for a fly around, but she felt as though she would burst if she didn't get at least a run around, clear her head a little. She worried that the move would mean new staff, new girls and more risk to her secret. There was within her a great fear that perhaps Biddy might not be going to Switzerland, or might go, and Emerence have to stay behind at the Island.
She should have gone straight to her form room to get out her books and pencil-case and generally prepare for ‘prep’ which began at five o’ clock. She had been feeling restless and fidgety all the afternoon – a state that wasn't helped by the fact that they had sewing and dictation that afternoon and she loathed both – and she felt she could never get through the evening without trouble unless she could take a run to shake the fidgets out of her. There was no reason why she should not have asked permission. The authorities were understanding and she would have been sent off at once; but Emerence liked to take her own way, even though she was slowly beginning to learn that it did not always pay to do so and she had slipped off through the side door while the others went streaming off along to their form room.
Having made good her escape, Emerence turned to the left and made her way along the side of the house. She thought she would have a race down the drive to the gate which led to what the girls called ‘the holly path’ because it was bordered on either side by thick hedges of holly. That would take the fidgets out of her and she would go straight back for prep when she returned.
She never got as far as the run – or not just then. As she rounded the corner, a little group of girls came out of the great front door and stood chattering together at the top of the drive.
Emerence stared. They were new girls – at least, she had never seen them before – and the Head had said plainly that there were no new girls this term! She must find out at once what this meant, All thought of her scamper went out of her head and she hurried to find out what it was all about!
Accordingly, the Maynard triplets and their cousin, Josette Russell, standing outside until the Head could come and tell them which forms they were to be in, were startled at being confronted by a fair, sharp-featured girl round about their own age, who stood firmly feet planted firmly aside and arms akimbo, demanding, “Who are you? What are you doing coming out of the front door? Don’t you know it isn’t allowed? We’ve got to use the side door – and the back stairs, too,” she added with some bitterness.
During her first term, Emerence had had a battle royal with Miss Dene over this very rule and had been defeated with complete ignominy. She did not love the remembrance in consequence.
The four turned at her voice and Emerence found herself staring at a girl who looked about her own age and three others who, for all their height, were clearly younger. The eldest of the four was very pretty, with silky black curls and eyes of periwinkle blue, and a pink-and white face that made a charming contrast with her inky locks. As for the other three, they were very much alike in feature; but one had chestnut waves of hair tied back from her face, and dark grey eyes; one was very dark with black hair and deep brown eyes; the last was fair, with golden locks, eyes of forget-me-not blue that had a wicked twinkle in them, and a complexion as lovely as the bigger girl’s.
At her remarks, they looked at her and then at each other and the fair girl broke into a bubbling laugh.
“Someone quite new,” she said to the others, her eyes dancing.
“Margot – tais-toi!” the eldest girl hushed her. Then she turned to Emerence, who was staring in good earnest. “It’s all right; you couldn’t be expected to know, of course. As a matter of fact, we’re quite old girls. I’m Josette Russell and these are my triplet cousins, Len, Con and Margot Maynard. We’ve all been in Canada and have just come home. Who are you?”
Emerence had heard of the Russell girls whose mother had started the Chalet School when she was Madge Bettany; and she also knew of the Maynard triplets.
“Oh; I see,” she said slowly. “The Dawbarns were saying that you were coming back some time this term.”
“Are they still going strong?” Josette asked with a chuckle.
Emerence suddenly echoed the chuckle. “Oh, they’re fearfully browned off,” she said confidentially. “Last term, we had that weird school from the mainland wished on to us, so we all got shifted round and they even had to make two new forms.”
“Well – go on!” Margot said as she paused. “What’s that got to do with the Dawbarns? – Oh, I see!” She burst into peals of laughter. “One went up and the other stayed down! Oh, hard lines! Poor old Pris and Prue!”
Emerence nodded, watching her with fascinated eyes. “Pris went up into Lower IV B and Prue remained in Upper III A – they made another Upper III form, you see – and they didn’t like it one little bit.”
“I guess they didn’t,” Len Maynard said. “Those two always stuck together like glue.”
Margot tossed her hair, and said “I wonder how much longer Auntie – I mean the Head – is going to be? She sent us out here while they decided what forms they would put us in. Len and Con say they should be in Upper Third somewhere. I was in Lower II B when I left. I’ve had a year longer in Canada than they have, you see. But now, no one seems to know where we can go as the forms are all so full.”
“Where ought you to be?” Emerence asked Josette.
“Upper IV –either A or B; but the Head says they’re chockfull already. And these three should go into one of the Lower IIIs I suppose.”
“Where are you?” Margot asked suddenly.
“Lower IV A,” Emerence said. “There are twenty-five of us and aren’t the forms not supposed to have any more?”
Josette nodded. “That’s the limit as a rule. I’ve heard Mummy and Aunty Jo say that if you have more you can’t – now what was it? Oh, I know, you can’t hope to give your pupils indi – indi – anyhow, it means see what each of them is doing and helping the people who are slow or haven’t understood.”
“Besides,” Len put in, “I don’t suppose for a second any of us will get put into a IV. I was Upper II when we went away last year, and Con was Lower II A . Margot’s told you where she was and they don’t generally jump you up two or three forms at once. You miss too much – Mamma said so.”
“Anyway, the Head did say you three would probably have to be in different forms again.” Josette reminded her cousin.
Margot laughed and tossed her golden curls with a wicked air. “Then bags me to be in the lowest form. Work’s not my cup of tea at all!”
Emerence glanced at her and suddenly liked her enormously. Work was not her cup of tea either. She forgot the difference there must be in their ages, which was not difficult to do, for she was small for her years and the Maynard girls were all well-grown specimens.
“I’d like Margot for my chum,” she thought. “I haven’t one – not really. She’s my sort, I think.”
Con, the dark member of the trio, spoke for the first time. “Margot, you haven’t forgotten what you promised Mamma?” she said gently.
Margot flushed. “Oh, bother you, Con Maynard! I guess if I’ve to go into a lower form and take it easy for this term it isn’t my fault.” She suddenly spoke with a marked Canadian accent and there was a naughty twinkle in her blue eyes.
Con looked at Len, but the eldest sister shook her head. Before anyone could say anything more, however, there was the sound of quick, springy steps and the Head was with them. She was there before Emerence could remember that she ought not to be in the garden at all, but in her form-room, getting out her books for prep. She stood her ground, therefore, and Miss Annersley, on seeing her, left her in no doubt about her conduct.
“Emerence, what are you doing here at this time?” she asked quietly.
Emerence had gone very red. “I – I just wanted – a run,” she muttered.
“Then go and take it,” the Head said briskly. “You ought not to be here at all, as you know very well, so you must hurry. Off you go!”
Emerence had no choice in the matter – not with the Head standing there looking at her like that. She said “Yes, Miss Annersley,” with the utmost meekness, turned and went racing off down the drive to the gate and back. She made no attempt to rejoin the group in front of the wide door. Instead, she shot off round the house and arrived in her form-room with tousled hair and sparkling eyes, the fidgets all gone.
Author's Chapter Notes:
Emerence begins to form her secret identity, and also meets her own equivilent of Lois Lane... (Bit in Italics mainly belongs to EBD, Changes for CS, with a few cuts where not helpful to the story.) Not planning particularly to be slash, but EBD sets Emerence up so well as having a crush on Margot that it works well as Lois !