It all began one afternoon in May, when Susie Smith, junior mistress at the Chalet School, caught hold of Tristan Denny as he was leaving after having given his singing lessons and asked an unusual question.
‘Tristan, do you have a razor?’
Tristan’s hand went to his chin and stroked the slight stubble that had grown since that morning.
‘I do,’ he said, bemused. ‘Why?’
‘Oh,’ said Susie, a bewitching grin breaking out, ‘I only wanted to know what sort it was, that’s all.’
‘A very ordinary sort.’ Tristan’s puzzlement was growing rapidly, and the teasing light in Susie’s eyes was not making him any the more comfortable. Maybe there really was something wrong with his chin. He tried to remember whether he had looked properly in the mirror that morning, but could not bring his face to mind. ‘Perchance it is not quite as sharp as it could be, but it is generally quite adequate. Pray, is there something…wrong?’
‘Oh, my dear!’ Now she was laughing at him, and he felt his cheeks flush - a dramatic flush, such as she always inspired. ‘No! Nothing wrong at all with your face - delightfully smooth.’ She rubbed his cheek, inflaming the blush and disproving her words in one gesture. ‘No, I only wanted to know if it were a safety razor, or a straight one, or what?’
‘It is a cut-throat.’
Susie’s face fell.
‘Bother,’ she said.
Tristan frowned. He was quite accustomed to being bewildered by Susie, but he was distinctly confused as to what she was about this time - nor did she seem inclined to enlighten him, for she squeezed the arm she was holding and bounced away in the direction of the art room. Tristan sighed, resigned himself to bafflement and donned his hat, but he turned back on hearing his voice called a second time.
‘Yes?’ he said, as Susie danced towards him.
‘Will you come with me to Spärtz this Saturday?’ she asked. ‘I want to ask your advice about something.’
‘I will,’ he said, feeling slightly trepidatious. Susie was up to something, and he wasn’t entirely sure he wanted a part in it, for Susie’s ideas seldom brought him any comfort of mind. But she was smiling that sweet smile he adored and he could not stop himself from assenting, however much he doubted his wisdom in doing so - and he could not help himself smiling as she squeezed his arm another time and danced back into the school. He would have to wait until Saturday to find out what this was all about.