Copyright 2001 to <email@example.com>.
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Thanks to Kent Stoneking, who helped plot this
"Another overdue notice, Veronica? Will
you never learn?"
"Hilary, I'm sorry. I honestly thought
I'd returned it last week."
"But you hadn't, obviously."
"No, I received the overdue notice at
prep, found the book in my room, and went immediately to the
library and returned it." Veronica blushed furiously. "I've,
um, paid the fine."
"To the library. You owe double that
amount to Gare House for the disgrace. What is this, your fifth
overdue this term? How many overall?"
Veronica hesitated, not because she didn't
know, but because a feeling of doom chilled her. Whatever was
wrong with her? Why, after four years, couldn't she remember
to return books on time?
"Goodness! So many as that? And did Miss
Thorton exact your fine?"
"No, the library girl, Angelica, took
"Fifty with the hairbrush followed by
a dozen with the slipper. The most, she said, that she'd ever
had to give."
Hilary nodded gravely.
"You'd better be careful. Next time you'll
get the cane."
Veronica shuddered, dismay draining her fine
features, making the slim, fair girl paler still. She had felt
the cane but once in her years at St. Clare. Late return of
library books was such a small crime. Still, any offense,
repeated frequently enough, would eventually merit the tawse
Veronica nodded slowly, cheeks now pinkening.
"I'm afraid as your house prefect I'll
have to give you double what Angelica did. Or, if you prefer,
you can report your fine to the housemistress tonight."
"I-I'll take my punishment now, Hilary."
The smaller blonde girl looked up at Hilary as though pleading
Veronica knew it was her only choice, really.
Miss Harris would give at least as much and might record
her repeated offenses on her term report home. Veronica suspected
Hilary knew she could only agree to be punished.
"Fine, then. I'll meet you in my study
in half an hour. I promise you, Veronica, you'll remember this
punishment next time your books come due."
Veronica paled again and left the room, already
nearly in tears. Hilary's face turned from one of solemn concern
to evil glee. How she loved any chance to punish that scatty
"She marks so beautifully. I wish I could
lay the first ones on."
"Well, Hilary, I wish I got
to lay them on double, watch her cry from the start. Such lovely
blue eyes!" Angelica gave a cruel laugh. "I reminded
her next time was the cane. That threw a scare into her, let
me tell you."
"I reminded her too." Hilary smiled
darkly. "I'm almost embarrassed at how excited the idea
of caning her makes me."
"Me too. I'm not sure I can bear to wait
a month. Still, I suppose we've got to try. I'll be watching
for her returns though."
"Whenever. I already know where I'm hiding
her next overdue," Hilary said, reaching out to touch the
excited library girl.
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to the treehouse