Chapter Fourteen: Fever
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I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas! You may notice that my story here is running about a week behind my blog. That's because it takes a fair bit more work uploading it here than there. I know I get a lot of views on this thread but I'm not shure how many (if any!) are actually following me story here. If you are let me know and I'll work on getting everything back to sync!

Time passes fast when you’re at boarding school yet at the same time it seems an eternity. I felt as though it had been forever since I’d spoken to Papa or been held by Mother but the scant time I’d spent at school couldn’t possibly have filled that void. A letter might have helped fill it. I looked for one in every post and every time there wasn’t one I just told myself it would be even better when it did come. At any rate, it was soon the last day of term and a designated holiday. Today was also the day I would have to decide who I’d be spending the next two weeks with. There hadn’t been a letter in the first post but I told myself I had either Henri or Jo’s house to look forward to so it would be better if it arrived after the holidays so I had something to cheer me up on a boring school day.

We were just leaving breakfast when Miss Jane called out:
“Miss Cox, report to Lady D’Winter’s office immediately.
“But I—”
“Don’t answer back young lady.” Miss Jane’s word was final.

“Good luck.” I whispered as I squeezed her hand and Henri gave her a comforting smile. Henri and I headed upstairs slowly to wait for her.

“Do you know what she’s done?” Henri asked me.

“Not a clue.” I said. “You don’t think Mariah could have pinned anything on her, do you?”

“Oh! I do hope not!”

“I wouldn’t put it past her… Oh it’s not far! All these weeks of being model students!”

“You don’t know what’s happened yet!” Henri said. “Wait and see before you judge. Come on, lets wait in your room and if it’s bad news she can at least tell us in private.”

“All right.” Henri was right, as usual.

That’s one thing I’ve learned about Henri, she’s patient, she listens, she thinks the best of people and she almost always is right.

We didn’t have long to wait before a sombre faced Jo made her way into our room.

“What’s happened?” I asked.

“Mother wrote.” Jo said. “My little sister has the fever.”

“Oh no, will she be all right?” I asked.
“Yes, It’s not deadly but it is contagious so our house is under quarantine and I can’t go home for the holidays. I’ll have to stay at school.”
“Oh Jo, that’s too bad!” I said.
Yes, well, I guess that decides who you’ll be spending the holidays with.” She said.

“Henri.” I said. “Do you think, under the circumstances, your mother would let us both come? Jo can promise to be good and quiet—”
“Oh I will!” Jo said. “I will! I will! I know you’ve heard that before but this time I mean it and I know you’ve heard THAT before but—” but Henri was already shaking her head.

“After I found out we’d both invited Bobbie I wrote to Mother again and explained the situation. She wouldn’t budge. And even if I wrote again now I wouldn’t get an answer in time for tomorrow and it would be awfully disappointing for Jo to pack everything only to find that she couldn’t come. I’m sorry Jo.”
“Don’t, it’s not your fault. Well, I guess you better write to your mother to let her know Bobbie will be going home with you.”

“No, don’t.” I said. Both Jo and Henri looked at me. “I— I really would love to go home with you Henri, but I feel awful leaving Jo here on her own. At least you’ll have your mother at home, do you think you could spare me so I could stay here with Jo?”

“Oh Bobbie!” Jo threw her arms around me. “That’s the most selfless thing I’ve ever heard you say, but please, you deserve to enjoy the holidays too.”
“I’m not sure I can if I’m feeling sorry for you!” I said. “I know Henri will be lonely at home without me, but I think it will be worse for you here all alone. And I can’t go with you both!”
“What do you think Henri?” Jo asked.
“I think the two of you will have a right old time here together.” Henri said with a smile. “I’ll get to see Mother and the holidays will be over before we know it, they always are. I’ll tell you what Bobbie, when your parents come for you at the end of next term I’ll invite the three of you around for tea, and Jo too, Mother and Father will be abroad then so we don’t need to mind about disturbing anyone, and I can show you everything then, what do you say?”
“That’s wonderful!” I smile at them both.

“Well, I think we all need something cheerful.” Jo said. “I passed Gladys on the way up and she gave me a letter that had just arrived from my brother.”
“Which one?” Henri asked.
“Michael, his always make a good read so lets see if this one lives up to the usual standard.” Jo opened the letter and Henri and I settled down to listen. It did make a good read and Jo and Henri made sure to fill me in on the gaps in my knowledge as needed.
“And now I come to the affair of the missing crests.” Jo read. “I mentioned to you a few letters ago that our school crest had gone missing from out front gates. Like a nation’s flag, to mark the crest is to mark the school so you can imagine how every boy here was offended by the disappearance of our crest, but yet I’ve hardly wrote of it. Why is this? Well, we were all sworn to silence about the incident and soon you will see why.
We weren’t the only school whose crest was disappeared. No. Four other schools have had their very souls stolen by some low down crittans. We threw down all inter-school rivalries and formed an investigative committee to discover these villains and get them back. Naturally, Jimmy—”

“That’s one of Jo’s brothers.” Henri explained. “The next one up from Michael.”
“Jimmy and I were on the committee.” Jo continued. “The investigations didn’t last long. When you have six boys schools within walking distance of each other and five of them have crests missing… well… it’s not hard to figure out. We held a council of war. Proper council and everything. We learned that the villainous school had just had a brand new cricket pitch laid. Cost a mint. We thought it needed prettying up. Perhaps a tree planted in the middle of it?”
“Oh they didn’t!” Henri exclaimed.

“What’s a cricket pitch?” I asked.
“Bobbie!” it came from Jo and Henri in unison.
“You don’t know what cricket is?” Jo sounded astonished.

“It’s a gentleman’s game.” Henri said, “That makes some gentlemen not act like it at all, but it’s played by all the proper boy’s schools and there’s many grown men that play it too.”
“And the pitch?”
“Where they throw th ball.” Henri explains. “It’s a long stretch of straight, flat grass all level and everything. One person throws the ball and the other hits it with the bat at the other end.”
“Henri, that CAN’T be your explanation of cricket!” Jo shook her head. “It’s a very complicated game—”
“Which is why we won’t try to teach her now.” Henri hastily said. “Or you’ll never get to the end of your letter.”
“Oh, well, another time. Now where were we? Oh yes. It was decided. We’d sneak out one night and, under the cover of darkness, we’d plant a tree in the middle of their cricket pitch. We’d send boys from all the schools to keep us all honest and so no boy would squeal on a boy from another school.
A few nights later my alarm went off from under my pillow. It was the big night! Jimmy and I met with a few of the other fellows from our school and we slunk off, meeting up with boys from the other schools as we did so. The moon was big that night and a good thing too, because it kept us on our guard. If a policeman had stumbled across a group of boys with a tree and shovels slung over their shoulders, well, I don’t think even Jimmy could have talked us out of that one!
Finally we reached the school fence of the school of the crest-stealer's. We had been keeping to the shadows up to now and decided before we all jumped the fence that a few of us should go over to check the coast was clear. Jimmy and I went along with Toulin, a boy from one of the other schools. The three of us jumped over the fence and while the coast looked clear we thought we should take the opportunity to perform a quick reconnaissance before giving the other lads the whistle. It was a good thing we did, because there, infront of our very eyes as we crept towards the cricket pitch we saw movements filtering from shadow to shadow in the school grounds. Next thing you know we’ve been tackled to the ground! We were expected and the boys had been waiting for us armed with shovels, rakes and hoes pilfered from their gardener’s shed and they’d been marching and standing guard in defense of their precious cricket pitch. Fortunatly they didn’t realise we had seventeen more of us outside the fence, but even so a group of twenty good lads, however fine and brave, is no match for an entire school. Toulin gave a hoot like an owl as we were dragged off and that was the signal for our men to run and not attempt rescue. See, I told you that we’d had a proper council of war.
But where did that leave us? I’ll tell you where, locked in an attic room. We were in a fix, that’s for sure! We’d been marched up there and escape was hopeless for it would rouse the teachers and that would take us right out of the frying pan and into the fire. Now, I’m not the sort of boy to panic and neither is Jimmy, but once we were all locked in there… well, we had an uncertain future that held nothing but trouble for us. Toulin, however, reacted differently. He worked his way around the small room, tapping at the walls and pressing his ear up against the boards. Soon he found what he was looking for and pulled out his penknife. Jimmy and I soon joined him and together we pried the board loose allowing us to crawl into the ceiling space. There was a dim light and we headed towards it. We found the light source was a dormer window. Did you know many of the dormer windows in the roofs around here aren’t actually windows? They’re added on the outside so the house looks even but it doesn’t mean the entire roof space is filled with rooms. Well, it’s true. If ever you find yourself locked in an attic room just remember that. Out the window, down the most obliging drainpipe I’ve ever encountered and the three of us (or Jimmy and I, at least) were safe in our beds before the waking bell.
Jimmy and I, having obtained legendary status managed to get to the bottom of matters before our next council of war which was held on the following Saturday. One of the lads from— and it shames me to say this— our school had written to his sister about the thefts and our planned revenge. His sister was sweet on one of the boys actually involved in taking the crests and so she warned him. The rest you can guess. This put our school into shame, we were the lowest of the low, excluding the school that had stolen the crests, of course. Even Jimmy and I were tainted by the same brush. We initiated an instant ban on all communications referring to the incident which is why you’re only hearing about all this now. If you think we were looked down on, you can imagine what we thought about the boy who’d leaked the plans! It didn’t take us long to get him to write another letter to his sister, telling her we were all cowards and had given up on planing a tree. She of course reported all of this to her sweetheart who in tun told the boys we’d given up. That was the night we struck and this time our mission was accomplished”

Jo continued with the rest of the letter and just as she reached the end the door opened and Miss Jane entered.

“What are you girls doing inside on a fine day like this?” She scolded. “Outside the lot of you!”

“Yes Miss Jane!” We chanted as we leapt to our feet.

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