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BlackEagle Girls
and The Ice-Angel of Death

Chapter 18 (Funny about that particular number.)
- The Ice Angel of Death strikes again!

Priscilla's eyes widened with fear as she frantically turned her head from side to side, struggling to move beneath the tight bedclothes as the dark figure mounted her prone body, effectively pinning her flat to the mattress and preventing her from wrenching her arms free.

'Yes-ehiji... Squeak, make monkey noises. You deserve to be... scared craz-ehiji! You and your little black friend have caused us... eh!... a lot of trouble. You getting... into Ice Man's car... then falling into river and now coming... back here. You should be drowned. Only Monkey found out... Heard teachers talking... that you... were in here... then eh!... me... Monkey... got up on the roof and... in here after they caught Whitehiji!
Yes struggle... I like you to struggle... Monkey will let you fight until he makes you... ehi... quiet! Now it's not about shutting you up. Ehi! Ehiji! You both have already shown... our hide-out. Ehiji! Now it's about getting even... Ehi!'

Priscilla, struggling beneath the weight of the youth straddling her, tried to cry out, but all that she could do was whimper uselessly through the tape across her mouth. Lights flickered on and off in her head, sparking like electric showers. The sound of her assailant's heavy breathing filled her ears along with her own silent, unvoiced screams. An impending sense of dread flooded her mind. 'He's totally crazy! He's gonna kill me! I can't fight him off! I can't do any... ' A pillow, plumping-soft and suffocating, blotted out the grey light, stuffing down across her face as she threw her head about, her nostrils flaring, seeking to draw in life-supporting oxygen. Her vision vanished and she was suddenly in an underworld of dark, humid material. All sound was muffled as her efforts to escape began to subside; her will to fight slowly giving way to languid submission as the pillow was forced harder against her face by straining fists on either side of her head.  
Priscilla's breath, almost totally choked off, strained for another gasp as her attacker thumped his knee across her collar-bone and bore down relentlessly.

Then, suddenly there was a lifting of the crushing weight on her chest and a muffled thud. The pressure on the pillow over her face was released and air, life-giving air, gushed into her lungs.  Freeing her arms she managed to dislodge the pillow as distant lights were switched on, and there came the sound of running feet and doors being slammed open. Priscilla's shaking fingers were trying to rip off the tape across her mouth so that she could let out at least one good, gut-wrenching scream, when she noticed the foot that seemed attached to her bed, but wasn't really.
Peering over the side, she saw that it was still connected to a leg that led down to the rest of the crumpled body which lay in a dishevelled sprawl on the bare tiles. Nearby, a stainless-steel bedpan was slowly revolving on the floor.
The ward door flew open as several figures rushed through.

Squirming around, one hand still tearing at the tape over her mouth, the other seeking for the Activator under her mattress, Priscilla discovered that it was gone and realised what had happened. 'Mbwack  Mmeagle ...' she finally ripped off the covering... 'Girls. Yes!' she managed, sagging back onto the bed, completely forgetting to scream as a wave of relief flooded through her shaking body.   

'It's amazing! How could this young girl, still sedated, manage to fight off her attacker with only a bedpan?' said the science teacher Peter Brooks as he bent down to examine the unconscious figure lying alongside Priscilla's bed.

Yeah how could I? Thought Priscilla, still coughing and gasping for breath.

'Sometimes fear can give you superhuman strength though,' Brooks murmured.

Right, especially when you've got a Crazy sitting on your chest and a pillow over your face and you can't move your arms and legs and...

'More to the point, why weren't you keeping a close watch on her?' demanded Sister Menzies, appearing at Priscilla's side and fussing about her with obvious concern. 'It's alright dear. Try to breathe steadily and just lie still. If you feel faint tell me now, can you tell me? Just nod or blink your eyes.'

Priscilla nodded, blinking both eyes. Yerrch! How stupid do I feel? This clown on the floor just tried to kill me and now you want me to nod and blink? Go stick it in your family album!

'I was keeping a close watch on the ward, Sister Menzies, I looked in not fifteen minutes ago,' said Brooks defensively. 'And anyway, while we're at it why aren't you doing something about this young ruffian here?'

'Who would have thought,' said Sister Menzies, leaving Priscilla's side and kneeling down beside Mister Brooks to examine the rather large bump on the back of the boy's head, 'that Joe Simiani would be involved in such goings on? A probationary prefect with everything going for him. Surely there has to be some explanation for his behaviour?'

'Some explanation, yes. Many explanations in point of fact!' said the voice of the Head Mistress of Hopewell Hall, looming up on the other side of the bed.

Priscilla, who had been staring somewhat vacantly at the preceedings and doing her best to get her act together, glanced around to be confronted by the looming presence of Sonia Poe and behind her, the pale figure of the albino Dennis Whitely and several uniformed police.

Whoo! What's he doing here? He's part of The Ice Man's hit squad along with Monkey and Beresford.
The thoughts rattled around inside Priscilla's throbbing skull. 'He's one of them!' she managed, dramatically pointing a shaky finger at Whitely. 'He scared the living shi... shivers out of me and Monique... and where is Moni? Is she alright? I have to know she's O.K. Miss Poe!'

Sonia Poe heaved a drawn-out sigh. 'Yes, your friend is fine Priscilla. Monique and Mister Whitely have been assisting myself and the police with some information. Do not over exert yourself for the moment, just try to stay calm while we regain control here. Well Sister Menzies, do we require an ambulance for the intruder?'

In response, Sister Menzies shook her head, 'I can't say yet, but he's coming round, his breathing is irregular, pulse seems to be racing, restraint might be required, Mister Brooks can you assist... '

'Eeighhh! Eigghh! Ehh, Ehh! Ehh! Ehh! eh... ehh... ehh... '  As he grew conscious, Joe Simiani's face began to distort into a mask of rage, the rush of blood turning it a brilliant crimson. His eyes shot open, staring fixedly at those firmly holding him down. For a few seconds he squirmed in their grasp, his arms and legs flexing against them. Then suddenly, as if he had been shot, he went limp, the colour draining out of his skin. 'Oh! My head hurts! Did I fall over? Where am I?'

'He appears to be now aware of his surroundings,' said Sister Menzies, 'although he may be suffering concussion. Doctor, examination, X-ray perhaps, and definitely psychological appraisal for a very disturbed mind.'

Ah crap! He's just playing the Who am I? Where am I? game. This Nutter was trying to kill me! Priscilla thought, rubbing at her bruised shoulder and coughing to clear her throat.

'I take your point Sister Menzies,' said Head-Mistress Poe. 'Mister Brooks, it is plain that Mister Simiani needs care over and above our abilities. Perhaps if you would assist the police to bear both Mister Whitely and Mister Simiani away and notify their parents while Sister Menzies attends to Miss Black, who is clearly in a state of shock after this terrible attack. Miss Bateleur will be able to visit tomorrow. I think it best that I contact Priscilla's parents in the morning, since nothing can be gained by dragging them here at this hour. And Sister Menzies, please assign further duty staff to watch over Miss Black until then.'

Before Priscilla had a chance to protest, Sister Menzies administered a further sedative that drifted her off toward sleep. Floating away, she thought, Cool, cool, what a loony bin! I'm being drugged to send me into nighty-nights while the cops and teachers work out what's goin' on in the drug department here at school. Hoo boyy! What will Mumm and Dad and Grannyyy thinkk abouttt all... Harrryy! Get me outta... Harryyy... Moni... Monnnii...Tha girlss bopped him with a bedd-pan... What if the pan wasn't empty?... Would that beee like the pannn hitting the shhhsh....

'You gotta be joking!' hissed Priscilla, struggling into her clothes a day later, while Belinda and Narenda fussed about her. 'This is it! This is all there is to it? I don't get questioned? Joe-Monkey gets moved out, Whitey too. Beresford leaves on the too-sick train and Tony-da-Ice-Man just goes! Like he just goes! What's going on Moni?'

Monique, in a whisper, said, 'Look Cilla, I had to stay a lot of hours with the police and Miss Poe. They did their best to make me say more than I should about all that we girls know. Of course they have not the faintest idea of what we are about, but they do suspect that we are more involved than we admit. I'm sorry, but I think they were so busy focusing on me and the others that they didn't do the best they could for your protection.'

'And now they've found The Ice Man's drug hidey-hole in the school and cleaned out the gang they think it's all over. Did you tell them about what happened down in Archives when the Ice Gang tried to get you electrocuted?'

'A modified version, without you in it,' said Monique, removing Priscilla's school uniform from a locker and folding it into a carry-all. 'Of course Louis and Charlie verified what happened when they came down with the girls.'

'And how can I ever thank you two for saving my life,' said Priscilla, taking both Narenda's hand and Belinda's in hers.

Impulsively, Narenda threw her arm around Priscilla's neck and hugged her. 'It was nothing. A way of paying back part of what I owe you and Monique for saving my little sister from drowning when she was pushed into the lake by that bully Roseanne.'

'Lucky we had second thoughts about leaving that Hand Activator with you Priscilla. It was one reason why we arrived in invisible mode when we did,' said Belinda.

'And the other reason?' Priscilla asked.

'Harry thought it might be a good idea to look in on you, just in case.'

'And the bed pan?'

'Well we could hardly hit him with the Hand Activator, that might have damaged it!' Narenda said with a giggle.

Priscilla smiled through her tears, 'Thank you both so very much. I think we, that is us, The Black Eagle Girls, are going to make Harry and Tsu and Terri, and Fon Jien too, so very pleased.'

'They are pleased and proud of all our efforts,' interjected Monique, 'but now we have to get you out of here and down to Reception before... '

'Princess!' called Mathew Black, limping slightly as he made his way up the ward toward her bed. 'How are you feeling? Are you alright? What's been happening to my little girl?'

'Oh Dad! I'm O.K. really. I've got all my friends here to help. Don't freak out. Everything's cool. Just take me home.'


A week before the opening of the stage musical 'The Ant's Pants,' at the Big Theatre in Melbourne, Priscilla, Monique, Henry, Granny Black, Louis and Matthew Black went along to a preview on a Sunday afternoon.

Rachael, agog with all the backstage jitters, was almost in another world.
'Can't talk, can't think. Just have to focus, FOCUS! I'm infinitely more nervous knowing that Stefan and the others have returned from Tasmania and are sitting out there. Not that I mind really Monique darling, so glad that your parents are back, it's just that it's another layer of stress, does anyone understand?' She looked from face to face imploringly, until Matt Black drew her to him, hugging her in his firm embrace. 'I'm sure I'm not ready Matthew. Oh do be a darling and look after our tiny flock, and be sure to applaud.' She clapped her own hands before giving Louis and the others a swift kiss that seemed to smear itself across several faces until it stopped short at Granny. 'Please give Matty your support tonight Amelia, you know, for me.' Rachael entreated.

'Don't think he needs it, he's walking about fine now,' replied Granny Black dryly.

'You're always such a wit,' said Rachael, probably thinking otherwise. 'Anyway, must fly. See you after!'

From the moment the opening music began and the curtain went up to reveal an abstract stage setting with a bank of computers and a rather large grand piano, a number of cute little puppies and kittens wandering precariously over its broad surface, and a huge, painted backdrop of marching ants and bees buzzing around a garden of flowers, Priscilla began to squirm in her seat. She could sense about her a feeling in the small audience of impending disaster. Even her own family, as she peered along the row of their expectant faces, seemed to cringe.
'Hoo! I think this could be sooo tragic,' she whispered to Monique, who also turned large, glassy eyes to hers.

Then the chorus, dancing on, began.
'It's the bee's knees, it's the kitten on the keys. It's the dogie's bow-wow. It's the cat's meow!
It's the kitty's pink bow! It's just like woh!
It's the Ant's Pants in song and dance!
It's the cat's pyjamas. Take a bow!
It's the cat's... It's the cat's... it's the cat's meowww!'

And so the production lurched along from scene to scene, interspersed with dance and song. The only really memorable moment for Priscilla was Rachael's first entrance on stage as her character Lisa Bryant, amongst a crowd of office-staff extras. Here she managed a spectacular stumble over her leading man, Colin Kirel, playing the part of Ken Daly, a fresh-faced computer technician who was kneeling down, giving The kiss of life, to Chubby Allmayer, the Executive Company Boss who had supposedly suffered a heart attack exiting the lifts, but had actually taken a dive to see how his staff might react in an emergency.

'Here, let me take over,' was her first line.

'Good, I'd rather kiss you,' was his.

'Don't be a fool. Mister  Allmayer's life might depend on this!'

'So could mine, but alright go ahead. Just seeing your face has kind of left me breathless anyway.'

'You're an idiot.'

'You're an angel.'

'Don't make me laugh.'

'That's exactly what I want to do. Do you work here in the building?'

'Oh look, Mister Allmayer's coming around.'

'He's not the only one. Name's Ken Daly. I'm in I.T. Third floor. "Busy-Bee Backup Boys" and "Ant's-Pants Computer Stance." Here to help with service thrills.'

'Shouldn't that be "skills?'

'Mostly, but not in your case. Ground floor Cafeteria at three?'

'I'll see, I'll see. Oh look, His eyes are opening and he seems to know me.'

'Lucky him. Gotta go now. Don't forget, cafe at three!'

'Maybe, maybe. Oh Mister Allmayer, are you alright?''

A few scenes later Colin Kirel, as Ken Daly, about to take Lisa Bryant out on their second date, sang, 'What a great start to the day.'

'Wake up in the morning, with the sun shining through.
Wake up in the morning, not a cloud in the blue.
Wake up in the morning and I'm thinking of you.
What a great start to the day!

Jump out of bed, fall into the shower.
I'm picking you up, I'll be there in an hour.
I'm bringing fresh roses, you're favourite flower.
What a great start to the day!

What a start, what a joy to the heart. What a start, what a start,
what a start to the day, hey!'

The great start to the day had a later duelling duet between the two when they clashed in friendly rivalry over individual computer skills.

'Anything you compute, I compute better. I compute anything better than you.'

'No you can't.'

'Yes I can.'

'No you can't.'

'Yes I can.'

'No you can't.'

'Yes I can, yes I can!'

'I can move a cursor!'

'And you do it worser!'

'I can handle Software.'

'But it gets you nowhere.'

'I can do most anything!'

'Bake an Apple-Mac pie?


'Neither can I.'

'Anything you can browse, I can browse quicker. I can browse anything quicker than you.


'As easy as hell.'


'Heck, you're asking me?'

'Can you handle a mouse?'

'Is there one in the house!'

'You're just a fraud.'

'You're an old Motherboard. What about email?'

'Don't be a female.'

'Anything you can mike, I can mike softer, Micro-ing anything softer than you.'

'No you can't.'

'Yes I can.'

'No you can't.'

'Yes I can. Yes I can...  Yes... ICON!'

Eventually, as the Boy-meets-Girl, Boy-loses-Girl, Boy-finds-Girl-again mix-up plot unfolded and interval came and went, and the audience plugged along, applauding where required, the two main characters finally came together after singing their individual love songs. The first from the male principle, Ken Daly, sitting alone on a park bench.

'A walk in the park, a lark after dark,
even doggies are inclined to bark
out the news.
That's the spark that stops me falling apart.
And why else would I be giving my heart
if it wasn't for you.
Because you do something to me,
something that I can't control,
something that drives my intimate soul into passion
and I just can't rationalise
the look in your fabulous eyes.
When I see those deep blues smiling at me
my mind takes a tumble and makes me a bumbling fool.
Ok that's cool, maybe for you, but not for me
because you see,
I just can't get over you.'

This was followed soon after by Rachael's character, Lisa Bryant, gazing out through her bedroom window at the night-sky.

'Lonely in the night, yes I'm lonely in the night.
Stars are shining bright, the moon is high above,
and where are you, my love?

Lonely in the night. Nothing is quite right.
Birds are feather-nesting and somewhere you are resting,
and I'm lonely in the night.

I wish I might, I wish I may, see your face this coming day,
til then all I can do is pray, and say,
I'm lonely... in the night.'

And of course, the two lovers are united in the finale, which takes place amongst the computers of the Busy-Bee Backup and Ants-Pants Computer Stance offices, where all the supporting cast emerge carrying kittens and puppies, and fake ants and bees crawl and zoom about the stage to the chorus;

'Ants Pants, Ants Pants. It's the Ants Pants!
Pups and kittys, all these ditty's, it's the Ants Pants!
Bees knees, Bees knees, you'll excuse us please!
Time for a bow... wow wow wow!
It's the cat's meow!
Hope you're all for us, join in the chorus, It's the Ants Pants in song and dance.
It's the Ants... it's just the Ants... it's the Ants Pants!'

'I dunno, it was a lot of singing an' stuff,' muttered Henry, stifling a yawn. 'People clapped I suppose. I did. But that was for Mum. You know, she'd be pissed off if we didn't... '

'Oh Henry, don't be so crass. It was only a preview for special guests. They'll get it better on the actual First Night. Anyway, bugger off so that Moni and me can get into our jamas. It's late and we have to get back to school before assembly,' said Priscilla, flapping her hands at her young brother.

'Right,' said Henry, picking up Harry as a kind of defence at what was coming, 'If "crass" means saying things that you really mean without pretending to say something else, I'm guilty and so are you! Come on Harry, let's bugger off!'

'Idiot!' shouted Priscilla, throwing a pillow at the door. 'Boy oh boy Moni, and he's going to be at Hopewell after Christmas!'

Monique grinned her vast, white-toothed grin. 'I don't think that will be so bad. He is a... how do you say it? A kooky... non... cocky boy for now. But just like we two, he will be much surprised to find himself a beginner again.'

'Yes, and I suppose we'll have to keep an eye on the little rodent just to keep him out of trouble,' said Priscilla, stepping into her pyjamas. 'Anyway, now that he's out of hearing range, what did you think?'

Monique, unfolding her school uniform and draping it across a hanger, said, 'I am sorry to say I did not get the feeling that many people thought it a hot item. I hope that there were not newspaper writers in the audience.'

Priscilla heaved a huge sigh. 'Yep. Just about what I thought too, but what would we know? Let's just hope that by opening night on Saturday every thing's fixed.'

'I wonder if it is such a good thing that we both will be here again next weekend?' said Monique gloomily, the whites of her eyes, instead of her teeth, showing.

The following Sunday, after Saturday's opening night, the reviews in the the newspapers were all similar:
'Direction, music and costume; fair. Only a few of the numbers have verve and vitality. Lyrics, though novel in parts, are mostly reworked old scores from the fifty's and sixty's of last century. The cast work hard, doing the best they can with tedious material. Actor Rachael Davies, new at singing and dancing, kicks up her heels but founders in the foam of floss. The song "A walk in the park, a lark after dark," is resurrected from the Ark, and should have gone down in the Deluge.'

'Nice try, but no. "The Ant's Pants" is more like The Doggy's Doings. Rachael Davies is notable in a leaky boat where the holes are greater than the whole. Colin Kirel, as her leading man, does the best he can with tunes such as "Wake up in the morning", although it might have been better if he hadn't.'

'The Big Theatre still has lots of growing up to do. The old, reworked number 'Anything you can do, I can do better,' was not the better for this airing and it is unfortunate that the lyricist had not the good sense to include the line Anything you can route, I can route better, because, whatever the sense, this show could have been routed better, sending it on its way before first curtain up. Colin Kirel and the actress Rachael Davies, turning her talents to singing and dancing, do their best to add glamour to an otherwise mundane outing.'

'How, I ask, can a modern-day musical production get it so wrong? This kind of fairy-floss is comparable to the light-weight Doris Day-Rock Hudson movies that America produced in the Nineteen-sixties. The plot, such as it is, concerns a computer nerd working at an I.T. company who meets a ditsy female staff member and the ensuing rush to get them both to the alter via her frantic efforts to learn his keyboard expertize, and his equally stumble-bum desperation to turn himself into a Sensitive New-age Guy who smells the roses before emailing a friend. Although it is totally predictable from the outset, it just might have some attraction for the blue-rinse brigade and a certain Campy appeal for the Gay set. Annette Westmore, is a strong second-dance lead to Rachael Davies, who proves that she can move and vocalise as well as act. Colin Kirel who plays the bumbling Tech Fool, sings and dances through some gruelling songs with as much aplomb as he can muster. See it before it closes. Quickly!

'It's a complete flop!'
So saying, Rachael tossed away the review pages and threw herself into the nearest armchair, which happened to be alongside a small table with a glass of wine perched at arms length. 'Doom! Doom! And nothing on the horizon! I knew I shouldn't have taken it on, and we still have two weeks of bookings to run yet. How embarrassing! Oh Peter Samos! You've really led me astray! I'll speak to my agent tomorrow.' She reached out a languid hand, managing to snare the sherry.

'Can't beat bad luck,' muttered Granny Black, slipping Mollie Bergen her wages.
The cleaning lady was already backing out through the hall with rags wrapped on her feet as she scuffed along, polishing away. 'Thanks muchly Amelia, O'il be along again come next Thursday. We skipping out togedher Mondy after?'

'Shouldn't be a problem now that Matthew is finally out of my hair, although I may have another sort of invalid on my hands. Rachael? '

Rachael, draining her sherry, looked up woefully. 'Oh me? Don't concern yourselves over me. I'll survive. Just get along with your own little lives. I have to prepare for a matinee.'

'Anymore of this stuff and you'll be preparing for the Sandman,' said Granny Black, whisking the glass away. 'Go doll yourself up, I'll ring a cab.'

'Yes, yes, you're right of course, as usual, Amelia. I shall shower and gird my loins for this afternoon. Perhaps the whole affair will mercifully be swiftly over before we finally crash and burn.'

'I'd avoid girdin' me loins ef I wuz you,' called Mollie from the front door. 'Ut can end up bringin' tha constipation on ya.'

'Menials!' Muttered Rachael, rising to pause at a mirror and flip at her hair before wandering away.

'Daughter's-in-law!' Granny growled, shaking her head.

'Didja read the crits on Mum's show in today's papers!' said Henry, appearing in the doorway of Priscilla's bedroom and pulling a face that glumly told it all. 'Bummer big time! We better keep out of her way. No eye-contact and nooo comment!' He dumped the papers on Monique's bed and took off down the hall with Harry, barking away, right on his heels.

Monique picked up a Sunday Daily and flicked through to the review pages at the back. After a few moments of reading in silence, she said, 'Oh Cilla, this one isn't good. Although at least your mother gets some credit for her performance.'

'Yeah sure Moni,' Priscilla replied distractedly, gazing down at the other paper where it had fallen open. 'Wait on. Have a look at the story on the third page. Here.'

Monique took the newspaper from her and spreading it out read aloud, ' "Another Gang-related shooting. The incident occurred in the early hours of Friday morning in a quiet Hawthorn street. The victims, believed to be father and son, were gunned down by an unknown assailant as they prepared to leave their premises in the family car.  A neighbour who was wheeling out his garbage bin, and did not wish to be identified, reported that he heard raised voices and upon investigation discovered the bodies alongside the vehicle in the driveway of the house just moments before police arrived at the scene. It is speculated that the attacker was a professional hit-man using a silencer at close range. The neighbour also informed our reporter that he saw the number 18 sprayed in white on both victim's clothes. The older of the two deceased is alleged to be a well-known restaurateur with a drug-related criminal history. The police, at this point, are releasing no other details and are withholding the names of the dead, pending further investigations." Oh Priscilla, do you think this might be Tony the Iceman and his father Gabriel Ichema?'

'Who else Moni? It all fits.'

'But what has the number eighteen to do with it?'

'Oh come on Monique, you're usually quicker than that,' said Priscilla, pursing her lips in the characteristic Black-family way.

'It isn't eighteen at all,' said Monique, her eyes widening, 'It is one and eight! The eight of a pack of cards and the ace which can sometimes act as a one!'

'Like in pontoon,' said Priscilla. 'Good girl! You're right on the programme! And it's all about revenge: The Dead Man's hand in cards, a payback for scarface Mario, the guy that got shot, and I'll bet the Angel Ice is the football right in the middle of all this.'

'How do you mean that Cilla,' asked Monique, tossing the paper aside.

'Well,' sighed Priscilla, 'where were daddy and sonny going late at night? Pizza? I don't think so. Maybe they were shifting the stuff, or maybe they were getting set to blow town. I mean, the police must have questioned Tony's dad. Like, his kid has gone missing from Hopewell, suspected of involvement with illegal drugs. So why weren't the cops keeping a watch on the house? Tied up somewhere else? Or maybe they were still hoping that if they gave Mister Ichema enough rope, he'd show them where the stuff was.'

'Perhaps they were just too late on the spot and weren't expecting what was going to happen?' Monique suggested.

'Yeah perhaps,' Priscilla replied absently. 'But you know I begin to wonder about that dream or vision or whatever it was that I had after Boofhead Roseanne whacked me on the basketball court.'

'How can you think that has any connection to this?'

'Well... Remember I saw myself getting shot at and Louis getting hurt and the stuff about me flying and sinking under water and Mum being there, except it wasn't Mum and it was someone else, someone like a terrible dead... Like an Angel of Death. Like an apparition that kind of represented everything awful about the stuff coming into Hopewell. And I remember hearing a bell ringing. It was the Hopewell Bell. And now I wonder if it wasn't about me drowning but really being suffocated. Maybe it was some sort of premonition.'

'You are thinking about these three deaths?' Monique suggested.

'Kind of. It's almost like there really is an Ice Angel and she's exacting a terrible vengeance on people who break the rules... '

'I wonder,' said Monique, for once sombre, 'if the man in Rio, Doctor Parros, who made the Angel Ice survived after the fire there?'

'Who knows,' Priscilla answered wistfully. 'Although it would serve him right if he was in the building and fried... '

'I know,' said a small voice from the door. The girls both realised it was Harry even before they turned to see him quietly squeeze through the opening. 'Can't talk for long, but I can tell you this much,' he said, jumping up into Priscilla's lap, 'I've been in contact with Cagney in the States. He has it that after the Authorities nabbed "Doctor Angel Ice", as they called him, they couldn't get enough evidence together to hold him and he got himself bailed, even while they were combing the burnt-out ruins of his drug factory... '

'Oh no. Don't tell us that he vanished,' said Priscilla, shaking her head.

'Snap! That's exactly right. He did zap off the radar,' Harry replied, twisting to bite at a hind leg, 'mmbut he got found a muffeww days later, mummph, mummph, kinda deceased, as Cagney might put it. Seems like he was having dinner one night in his expensive apartment, maybe celebrating slipping the law and getting set to start up again. He was found next day, extremely dead. Poisoned. A cocktail of very lethal ingredients, amongst them rat-bait. Can you beat that?'

'You're joking!' Priscilla exclaimed, almost dumping Harry, who was only saved from falling by Monique's swift hands. 'How could that have happened?'

'Can't say for sure. Maybe it's what's called poetic.'

'Poetic what?' Monique asked, hoisting Harry onto her lap.

'Justice, in this case,' Harry answered, curling around to face her. 'You know, butterfly wings beating amongst the flowers, falling trees in the forest. Ice-Angel wings stirring up rats like Atouille and his family, Cagney aiming them in the right direction. Rats aren't that stupid. Sometimes they learn fast. Like what to eat and what to spread. Rats using poison-baits on humans? Mmm. Makes you think doesn't it?'

'Is there really an Ice Angel, Harry?' Monique asked.

'Of Death do ya mean? Or an Ice Angel of Life? My answer is that there are both, and they live inside every Human. It's all about how they control them. Gotta go now,' Harry concluded, toddling off with a little hoppity-skip and leaving the two girls even more mystified.

Girls Just Wanna Have Dance. Every body welcome. Come to hop, come to bop, come to dance until you drop. Black, White, Ivory, Brown, covered, uncovered, it's all goin' down. We want you! Take a chance! First Year girls, c'mon! Let's dance!
Sorry guys, not this time. But hey! Hang in there, we'll need you later. 

This was the sign posted at the very first All-Girl Hip-hop dance session on a Thursday afternoon from four-thirty til six in the Hopewell gymnasium.

Over several months, Narenda Upaday's after school-hours dance classes proved to be a hit with many of the female students from overseas, so much so that second-year girls wanted to get involved and a separate group was established to accommodate them on Tuesday evenings. The Art and Dance teacher Purdie Smith supervised both, with the aid of the music teacher Auguste Munro and all his audio gear. Although it appeared, as the weeks passed, that both the teachers  were not only involved as a labour of love for the students but were becoming somewhat distracted by each other.

'I hope they don't lose it and end up on the floor in a horizontal waltz,' smirked Sylvia Knight, grooving away to the pounding beat of Loose Goose.

'Here is coin. Ring somebody who cares,' called Saif al Saiph, swirling and whipping around in her traditional head to toe costume. 'For me, I do not care. I am having this ... this... freedom!'

Priscilla watched, gob-smacked. Narenda was right, she thought. Music breaks down barriers everywhere. Look at them all. They're having fun! And here in the gym they don't feel eyeballed. No one is going to point at them or laugh at what they're wearing, or try to control them. No matter where they've come from, no matter what they might believe, here they can just be free to dance out their feelings and express themselves. Well done Narenda! We were right when we picked you as a BlackEagle Girl. You and Belinda. If it wasn't for both of you I wouldn't be here now. You saved my life with a bedpan. Imagine that? One stainless steel dish bopping Monkey stops me from dying. And now bopping takes on another meaning.

Before she knew it Priscilla too was caught up in the rapping music, bouncing away while Narenda sang, 'India is hot, but India is cool. I want to bring India into my school!'

And Monique added, 'I am Africa, so you hear. I am Africa my land so dear. I am Africa yet I am France.
Come and join us, Africa and France, we are all Sisters in the dance.'

From the very beginning of Narenda's Hip-hop dance classes the turnout was solid and grew week by week, yet there were two notable exceptions and neither of them were missed by almost all of those who participated.

But the BlackEagle Girls noticed. And when they got together for an early Christmas Sunday lunch at Tsu's house, they spent some time on the subject.

'Can't you get Surban interested Priscilla?'

'With Surban, I couldn't hit a bull in the bum with a bucket of wheat Terri,' Priscilla replied. 'We just don't connect. She spends any free time she has studying or kneeling on the floor in front of her bed in prayer or whatever they do.'

'Meditation?' Tsu offered.

'Who knows?' Priscilla sighed. 'She sleeps, she gets up and goes to classes. At weekends, she stays in our dorm alone when I come home. Maybe she goes out into the school grounds for walks. She's just a pair of eyes in a head-to-toe covering. I've never even seen her in her underwear. Sometimes in her sleep she moans and cries out, but I can't make any sense of it at all.'

'Who knows? I wonder if Harry does?' said Belinda, biting into a delicate lemon tart.

'Harry might, but he is not so inclined to have us rely on him for every little thing. He wants us to work things out for ourselves. That's what the B.E.G. is supposed to be all about,' Monique answered, helping herself to a glass of pineapple juice.

'Might I suggest,' said Fon Jien, appearing from the library in his immaculate white suit, with Harry hard on his heels, 'having overheard the gist of your conversation, that this young person be not subject to examination or interrogation throughout the Christ Mass period. That is a time which will have no meaning whatsoever for Surban, other than to be a reminder of total separation from everything previously known. As it stands, students may stay on at Hopewell Hall throughout the Holy Day time. Very well. Perhaps that is for the best since she appears to have nowhere else to go. It would seem that the School itself has no other solution.'

Holy heck, I just can't get over the fact that Fon Jien is actually a robot, thought Priscilla, watching as he sat down at the head of the long dining table and lifted a glass of mineral water to his lips.
Which reminds me, Priscilla thought again, I have a question to ask. 'Um, excuse me Tsu, just changing the subject, but you guys, that is you and Fon Jien, never did tell us about where you really came from.'

'We really come from where we said, Lhasa, in Tibet,' answered Fon Jien, dabbing delicately at the corner of his mouth with a linen napkin.

'What Fon Jien means is that we first met there,' said Tsu, intervening. 'My family were victims of the terrible regime that still enforces its hold there, and Fon Jien discovered me and saved my life. Later, he arranged to bring me here, to Australia, and by means that I do not know, managed to get my visa to stay for a while. Now that time is expiring, but our work here in Melbourne is completed and as you know, we are moving on.'

'What's the big deal?' said Harry, lifting his nose out of a dinner plate on the floor and licking his chops. 'U.F.O.s can come down all over the place. Sometimes they get noticed, sometimes they don't. Satellite monitoring? Nah! We got that pretty well masked. And who's gonna observe something that slips onto the Roof of the World? Anyway, where-ever it happens, our Blanks are programmed to take on identities that mingle with the locals. That's where Fon Jien came in, as a man of means who had enough power to influence the Overlords controlling the country.'

Fon Jien chuckled gently. 'When in truth I am neither of these; only a simple servant of Beings far beyond this place your people call Planet Earth. Oh yes I am, in your eyes, a highly sophisticated robot, able to think and act independently, able to feel emotions and to live out a life here amongst you humans just as the Roselli's did... '

'You mean the Italian man and his wife that owned our house?' Priscilla said, enlightenment suddenly bursting upon her. 'They were... actually... really... '

'Blanks,' said Harry, 'just like Fon Jien, able to do everything humans do, including bleeding and dying. And as Fon Jien has shown you, there is within his being a dual system: the first is Disguise and cannot be discerned as anything but human anatomy, the second is Actual and only available to himself, for repair or adjustment. To all purposes he is as human as are you girls.'

Fon Jien nodded. 'What my Master Harry says is true, and of course I am able to stop a bullet, especially if it is aimed at the head of a BlackEagle Girl.'

'But can you have a relationship with someone else?' Belinda asked, somewhat befuddled. 'I do mean to say, a proper relationship of course.'

'That is entirely possible, Miss Belinda, although we attempt to avoid the situation by providing others of our same... ah... situation. Oh and of course, as Master Harry will verify, anything discussed here or previously, will always be strenuously denied if there is ever such a need.'

'And you also mean,' said Monique, ' that what we know of you and Harry and the others would all simply dissolve and we could not prove who you were or how you came to us?'

'Natch!' said Harry, offhandedly. 'Oh sorry kids, I said that offhandedly. Probably should have been off-pawedly. 
Now, who's going to be first to give little Harry a kiss?' he added mischievously, scampering over to a mistletoe garland hanging from the Christmas tree at the far end of the room.

'Do you know how to shake hands instead?' said Narenda, giggling.

'And don't get tempted by the tree,' cautioned Terri, 'we don't want damp presents.'

'Aw, you guys!' said Harry, sitting up. 'Look at me, I'm begging. Who's a good boy? Merry Christmas everybody. Now what's in this package with my name on it?'

Hopewell Hall's December sports finals were rowdy affairs, dominated by the eleventh and twelfth year students, an elite few of whom were to go on to careers as stars of tennis, cricket, track and field, basketball, football, soccer, volleyball, netball, squash and swimming. The majority however would only ever win accolades at school level.
At the lowest end of the scale, Hopewell's first-formers were beginning to test themselves against each other, although there were those ambitious, competitive and desperate enough even amongst their youthful ranks.

Priscilla competed in all her chosen fields with modest success, whilst Monique excelled at team events such as basketball and hockey, but was at her best in the pool.
Their arch rival Roseanne Sole, through intimidation of the opposition, drove her hockey team to the final with 1D. and only lost because of the higher skills of better players who refused to be bullied.

On the basketball court Roseanne's 1F. team, having just barely taken out 1B. captained by Bromwyn Burns and ably assisted by Sylvia Knight, Monique and Priscilla, went down to 1A. in the final, brushed aside by Susan Berri's tall and talented girls; Tsu Tsuang, Belinda Moss and Terri Tory-Toth all scoring from fouls caused by Roseanne's rough-house tactics.

Priscilla did better in the mixed doubles on the tennis court with Ray Sharp as her partner, the pair progressing into the final against Cathy Crapper and Jimmy Crandle of 1A. But on the day, Priscilla and Ray had to be content with second place.

'I reckon a bit more practise next year, if we stay in the same class, and we could win it,' said Ray as he and Priscilla trudged off the court together after congratulating the victorious pair.

'Well, yeah,' puffed Priscilla, dragging in deep breaths. 'Perhaps by then I'll get going properly. Like I just don't seem exactly right yet. See how I feel after the Christmas hollies.'

'Well... O.K. Priscilla. Fine... Cool... But... you know. Maybe we could practise sometime?'

'I'd like that Sharpy. Next year. When we get back to school again.'

'So that's a date then?'

'Um yeah, sort of, for tennis practise, sure.' Priscilla was again aware of Ray's deeply blue eyes and his easy smile. 'Like next year?'

'Next year then. Have a great Christmas and a happy New Year.' His hand brushed hers. 'To all your family, and especially you Priscilla.'

For a moment she thought that he was going to say something else, and then, as he leaned down close by her face, that he might actually do something else, but when he retrieved his tennis bag, smiled again and walked slowly toward the change rooms, a feeling of disappointment swept over her.
'Cripes!' she muttered to herself, slinging her gear across a shoulder.

In the girls swimming comp, 1E. had a victory in the relay, and the diving was won by Helen Rigby of 1D.

Suzie Berri from 1A. won the Backstroke, and Janis Toomey of 1C. took out the Butterfly.

In the major race, the two hundred metres Breaststroke, there were two entrants from each of the six forms: Susan Berri and Olive Atandi from 1A., Karen Presley and Monique representing 1B., Janis Toomey and Demi Brosnan of 1C., Audrey Denton and Chon Chek from 1D., Judy Mitt and Magda Mayer, 1E., and Roseanne Sole and Marge Turnbull for 1F.

Many other more important events were to be contested in that week, both in the pool, on the field and in the stadium, but this was the final that all the first year girls, and many of the boys, had come to see. This was the One to One where a certain R. Sole would get her comeuppance.

After it was over Priscilla, who along with everybody else had shouted herself hoarse, slumped back on the hard wooden bench in disbelief. Roseanne had actually won by half a body length with Monique and Karen Presley dead-heating in second and Suzie Berri coming in a stroke behind them.

Of course Roseanne couldn't help crowing in 1B's faces. 'Yea! I won! Losers! Youse dopes got it stuck right up ya! Go dream! Next year I'n gonna get my team up ta take out hockey and whatever else. 1F rules! C'mon girls! C'mon Team! Let's go get some cold drinks at The Thumpin' Tummy!'

'She was just too strong for us,' said Monique later, 'and of course that was why she caused that blood in the water scam. She had an injury to her shoulder. Maybe it happened when she felled you on the basketball court months ago, I do not know. Whatever, it took time to get right again, for her, so that she was ready as best she could ever be. Today she was better than either of us. Perhaps next year, if Karen and I train together, one of us might be able to beat her.'

'You and Karen did your best Moni, and anyway 1F. only rules in Boofhead's stupid mind. Looks like 1A. or 1C. will get the overall points,' said Priscilla, throwing her arm around her friend.

In the swimming wash-up, 1A, were overall winners, with Jimmy Crandle and Susan Berri taking the honours as individual competitors, but it was 1C who were victors in the total points score for all sporting events in the end.
1B. had to content themselves with third behind 1A. but were all the happier to see 1F. only manage fifth placing.


Hi Diary. I always feel good when I get the time to write in you. It kind of lets me spill out everythi... well nearly everything that runs around in my silly mind. And now it's almost Christmas time again and so much has happened through the year. And I haven't kept you up to date very well and I still think about my beautiful Missy. She was such a loving, loyal dog and I had her ever since I can remember anything at all. All my first twelve years of life. But now I'm thirteen and at Hopewell Hall, and I have Monique as my Dearest Friend and our little stray dog Harry. I suppose you could say he's barking mad, and he certainly keeps my youngest brother Henry flat out. Henry thinks he's just the best pal and has sort of adopted him, so he's not exactly mine or Louis' dog. Guess he's the family animal, although I don't think Mum or even Dad or Granny give him much time. He's just around, that's all.
And speaking of my folks, Dad is walking fine again. Mum was stunned by the terrible reviews of her stage musical and even more stunned by the rush of box-office bookings. They're going to extend the season and maybe take it interstate. Seems like there are lots of older people out there wanting to enjoy stuff like it was when they were young. So that's a huge surprise and Mister Samos, the producer, might have got it right after all. Oh, also, Moni's Mum and Dad and Mister Mans and all their crew came back from Tasmania and are working on the editing of the documentary about logging the forests over there. And now Moni's parents have finally found a place to live here for a while, but they're not telling where. It's going to be a New year's surprise. Although they are talking about other projects again and that scares me because they might go back overseas and take Moni with them. I'd miss her more than... well... I can't keep the tears back, even thinking about it Diary.
Anyway, this being nearly Christmas and a special time soon, we're all going to be together at our home and we've invited lots of family and friends for Boxing Day. Can't wait!

Oh yeah also Diary, just a few days at school left. It's Hopewell's End Of Year Farewell. Louis tells us that it's called a Muck-up Day and Henry says he got the spelling wrong. Well that's just Henry being Henry. He'll find out about being a smart-A next year when he starts. Anyhow I'm going to keep myself nice and not get into any of the loony stuff, like chucking flower and eggs and setting off fire-works, which are banned officially anyway, and just try to enjoy along with Moni.
I kind of want to say thanks to some of our first year teachers and specially Miss Van Weenan, our form Mistress.
So that's about it Diary. Bye for now.

Priscilla closed her small volume and clicked the little padlock clasp, securing it, yet her mind continued to run along on its own train of thoughts: But I didn't tell you all the stuff about delayed concussion, and me being attacked by Monkey, that crazy fifth-form boy Joe Simiani who was going to be a Prefect. He's been sent off to some special place to try and get his brain sorted. I hope that someone can help him. And maybe Whitey too. He's the one with the pale skin and pink eyes. Scared the living daylights out of me the morning I woke up after Roseanne cracked my skull, months ago.
The third one, Beresford, who got really sick on a drink spiked by The Ice Man has gone too...

Though now that I think about it... I wonder. Moni and me weren't able to find out anything from the police or the school. But who was the informer about the footballs? Sure wasn't Beresford. He couldn't have known. And Tony the Ice Man wouldn't have blabbed on himself. Monkey? Then why did he bother to stay around and try to kill me? Whitey? Maybe. Or... did Tony and his Dad guess that there was someone working undercover amongst the group for somebody else?
Was it them? Tony and his Father? Did the two of them set up the others at the last moment? Like take the Angel Ice into Hopewell Hall and out again, leaving the others to get caught while Tony slipped through the net? And was there really any Angel Ice taken in? Did they just say that to convince Beresford or one of the others so that someone would blab to whoever? That could make sense. If Tony the Iceman got caught with a few footballs full of flour or powder or rock salt, or whatever, in the back of a police car, what would be the big deal? I wondered about Tony's dad at the time. Like why didn't he worry about sending their precious first shipment of Angel Ice back into Hopewell after hearing about me supposedly getting killed?

Nah! That doesn't work either, because after Beresford was out of it there was no need to keep playing the game and Tony's dad really bawled Tony out and there was no one else there at the restaurant except Vito the drive... Vito? That big moose? Noo...Umm, maybe.
If you work undercover I guess you have to look invisible, although They could have suspected him and I bet it was him that Gabriel Ichema sent to collect the dud footballs. But who was Beresford ringing in the toilet? Vito? No, he already knew about me being in the car and falling into the river. Or somebody else? Mario's gang? So maybe Neil Beresford was really a plant for the rival drug gang, and that would leave Whitey or Joe... or Vito! There didn't have to be someone else working as an informer to the police from inside the school. Just a rival gang snitch that they wanted to catch and get rid of. Sorting Beresford was one thing, and not trusting Vito was another. The Ice Man and his father knew all the answers to that. And now both of them are dead and we'll never know.

'Probably best that you don't ever know,' said a low voice at Priscilla's knee.

Startled from her thoughts, she looked down at the dark eyes staring up at her. 'Harry! How can you do that?'

'Well I kinda open my mouth and make these sounds that produce Human Speak. If Cagney can do it it's gotta be easy.'

'Ohh, don't be so silly. I mean, like, read my mind?'

'Oh that, well I am, like, an alien remember, and we do have the usual advanced technology requirements. And just to answer your last thoughts, here are a couple of things to chew, what a great word, on. As I said, it's information on a need to know basis, and you don't. Just the same as the top staff at your school don't need to know.'

'But you know. How come?'

'Becorm mi heb saucers id igh... ' Harry shock his head and snorted. 'Oh sorry, my eye tooth got caught in my upper lip and I couldn't see what I was saying, a bit like the guy who pispronounced his worms.'

'Don't be such a clown, and quit stalling.'

'Ahem! Because I have sources in high places.'

'Like Rolf?'

'Rolf is based at the airport, and yes he sometimes gets various feedback, and no, not this time. Let's not go down that track, although speaking of track, I could do with a brisk walk.'

'Sometimes you could do with a brisk roost up the bum Harry. Come on! Tell me the bits you want me to know!'

'Well,' said Harry in a confidential tone, 'the Angel Ice came in a very small package, a couple of boxes that could have filled a shopping basket, but of course that was why it was so prized. You didn't need loads of the stuff. A teaspoonful was enough to knock over a whole rave party of hundreds. The new, dollar-sign, whizz-bang drug of choice for dealers everywhere. Of course if you took a few more grains than you should, and who could be the judge of that, then you might begin to think you could fly or walk in front of a train or climb a skyscraper. But that isn't important now, because its inventor and his laboratory are gone, and the first shipment to Australia never did get into the hands of the bad guys. They got what they thought was Angel Ice. The real thing was switched for fake stuff along the way.'

'Where along the way?' Priscilla asked suspiciously.

'Oh, just along the way will do. The important thing is that you BlackEagle Girls had a hand in exposing the Ice Man's holding place at Hopewell... '

'But if Beresford was the one that informed the police, he already knew where it was kept,' said Priscilla, thinking out loud. 'Of course Vito might not have known... '

'and aggravating them enough, Harry continued, 'so that they stupidly took action against Miss Monique and you. That's always the big mistake that most gangsters make. They think they're untouchable: outside the law and society, free to go after each other as if they were the only players who make the rules and free to heavy anyone else who gets in their way. Now some of them have been eliminated and others are being put away and the little gang inside your school is no more.'

'And Roseanne Sole no longer has hidden muscle to take care of her!' Priscilla announced as the thought struck her. 'Do you think she actually knew she had Bad Angels for protection?'

'Nope, can't say I do,' Harry answered, letting his tongue hang out. 'Bad Angels, Ice Angels whatever, you girls are the Good Angels. Like I said a while ago, it's all about control and knowing right from wrong. Angels, Demons. According to some Human beliefs, The Devil was an Angel turned bad. Maybe even He made the big mistake and thought He was untouchable.' Harry licked his nose with a flick of his tongue. 'Right now, I need a drinky-water, I'm kinda parched what with all this yapping. Maybe I can con Henry into that walk before dinner. Oh, and by the way, Cagney wishes to be remembered. Especially next time you eat a doughnut.'

'Just one other question,' muttered Priscilla to herself, as Harry trotted off in search of his water bowl downstairs, 'I wonder who was the person at the restaurant upstairs that Mister Ichema called Godfather?'

On the last day at Hopewell, Auguste Munro and Purdie Smith announced their engagement over the school loud-speakers in the middle of year-end celebrations. Somehow it seemed typical of them both, although somewhat irregular that the usually strict Headmistress, Sonia Poe would allow such a thing.

'... so to all, Miss Smith and I are pleased to make our intentions known. Next year... Well, I guess we have to make a few plans before then, but we'll be here again with you all, except of course for our brilliant graduating students, and with a whole lotta fresh new faces aboot. Have a wonderful time over Christmas and remember, we'll be Bach!'

Priscilla and Monique, Belinda and Narenda were in tears after lunch, saying goodbye to Tsu and Terri, even though they knew they would see them again before they left Australia for destinations overseas.
'I don't care!' sobbed Priscilla, her arms about Tsu and Terri, 'this is the last day we'll ever be at Hopewell together, and we only had just our first year!'

'We will stay in touch via email,' sniffed Terri, hugging Narenda.

'Yes, we are both still a part of The Black Eagle Girls,' said Tsu, 'and where Terri and Fon Jien and I are going, there are others already established and more for us to make contact with. Although of course they will not be called by your special name. But they will have their own names and you will make contact with them when needful. Just as there are already people with Cagney in the United States, there are others at schools and universities in Europe and Asia that are beginning their work in this peaceful cause.'

In this peaceful cause.
This was something Priscilla couldn't get out of her mind even while all the partying and farewells and end of year goodbyes were still happening.
'Moni, there's something I have to do before we go home,' she whispered to her dearest friend. 'You know where I'll be. Wait for me, and don't worry. This is one-girl BlackEagle stuff.'

Slipping off on her own, she made her way across the Quadrangle and headed for the student's wing.
I can't just let it go without one last shot, she thought, hurrying along the deserted corridor.

'Surban,' said Priscilla, as she shut the door of their dorm room behind her, 'It's nearly Christmas time and I understand that isn't such a big deal for some people like... well sorta like yourself... but... well, couldn't you kind of join in with us? I mean, we can make room for you, if you know what I mean. I mean we don't expect you to change your beliefs or how you dress, or anything. But... but I can't just leave you like this. Not at Christmas when everyone is going to be having such a great time being together with their families, and the presents and all that stuff that we do... You do know about what we do at Christmas... Surban?'

Surban did not stir and for a time Priscilla found herself frantically wondering if the huddled form on the bed would ever move again.
'Surban! Oh Surban! Wake up! Move! Do something! Breathe or something! Please. Don't just lie there and curl up! Don't die, don't give in, I'll help you anyway I can. Just give me a chance to be your friend. Come on please! I'm here for you!'

The figure on the bed made no response.

'Oh! Oh no!' Priscilla cried out, sliding on her knees to the edge of the bunk. 'Oh how could I have been so stupid! I didn't mean to ignore you. I didn't think you cared what I thought. You just seemed to be so distant, like you weren't wanting to be any part of the school or anything. Don't do this to me... No, not to me... that's just me being selfish... to yourself... don't give up on yourself!'
Priscilla's eyes filled with tears. 'Come on Surban, I'm crying for you. I don't do this for anyone unless they mean something to me. I wont go! I'll stay here with you right through Christmas... Well at least until they come and drag me out... Don't just pine away... Tell me what's wrong? I want to be your friend... I'm going to be your friend... ' She choked as the words caught in her throat and her hands grasped at the unmoving figure. 'You can't shut me out! I'm Priscilla Black and... and I'm a BlackEagle Girl! And if you don't shape up I'll get Harry and Moni and... '

The arm that she was clutching trembled and then a low voice murmured, 'Surban cries these tears, but they do not fall. They remain inside and will not come out. You are girl from West. You cannot know what is in mind and heart of East, of life in terrible places, of loss and shame.'

'Try me!' said Priscilla. 'I'm not going anywhere. Just tell me a little bit, cos I know.... I feel... that you don't want to tell anyone very much about yourself... but... but you can... to me.  Just give me a chance!'

Surban heaved a long sigh and slowly roused into a sitting position. 'You are... You do sticking your nose... into place that is not for you. What can you do? I am alone here. You? No one change that for me... I tell you only this much. Here, look.'
Surban began to raise the grey hem of body covering.

Priscilla squirmed. 'Oh please Surban, don't turn out to be a boy!'

More can be discovered in the fourth book; 'BlackEagle Girls and the Pirates of the Mystic Caravan.'


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