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Only don't say what's our object, or Maude Helm or somebody will be putting a spoke in our wheel perhaps. We'll call a meeting of the Guild and propose it. You bring it up, and I'll second it. Dilys's and Hetty's suggestion was very well received by the Guild. The idea of a big united picnic sounded attractive, so the motion was carried unanimously.


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It was of course necessary to refer the matter to Miss Poppleton and the mistresses, but they were not likely to offer objections to a scheme favoured by the whole of the Lower School. It would indeed be easier for the mistresses to co-operate than for each to take charge of a separate Form. The Guild would mutiny.

Dilys Steals Her Supper

Among the various rules of Briarcroft, one of the strictest was that which forbade any boarders to go outside the grounds without first obtaining special permission from Miss Poppleton. The day girls at the school wore the regulation sailor hat with a plain band of navy-blue ribbon, but the boarders, to distinguish them from the others, had a navy band with a white stripe in it. They were extremely proud of these stripes, which they regarded as a badge of superiority, similar to the gold tassels which, many years ago, were worn by the sons of the nobility on their college caps at Oxford.

The hats were of course very well known in the neighbourhood, and nobody who lived anywhere near the school could possibly mistake the Briarcroft "sailor". Such a proceeding was manifestly irregular and highly improper.

Dilys Goes To School

Miss Poppleton, at first indignant at the very idea that one of her pupils could be guilty of so great an indiscretion, nevertheless felt it her solemn duty to investigate the matter thoroughly, and either expose the offender or deny the imputation. She was the more particularly annoyed because the hint came from a quarter which, if not absolutely hostile, was inclined to regard her establishment as old-fashioned, and to air the notion that there was room for another high-class ladies' school in Greyfield.

In the face of such reports, the scandal must be instantly suppressed. She arranged, therefore, that a careful watch should be kept on the school, and if anyone were seen going out or returning in a surreptitious and unorthodox fashion, the occurrence must be immediately reported, so that she could act promptly and catch the delinquent. She said nothing about the affair to the girls, as she did not wish to put them on their guard, but Miss Edith and the mistresses were instructed to use extreme vigilance.

One of the manifold duties that had lately been heaped upon Gipsy's shoulders was the task of sorting the stockings that came from the wash, and putting in a pile those that required darning.

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She had been very busy one evening with this rather uncongenial occupation, and had barely finished the necessary counting and arranging, when the bell rang for preparation. It was most unreasonable to reproach her for what was seldom her own fault; but knowing that Miss Lindsay would expect her to be in her place, she hastily put the stockings away, and fled to fetch her books. Preparation was being held in the Juniors' room, and the girls were sitting on forms round the long table.

Gipsy, scuttling in just in time to avoid the mistress's censure, took a seat between Hetty Hancock and Lennie Chapman, and, opening her French grammar, began to write an exercise. All the Junior boarders were at work with the exception of Dilys Fenton, Leonora Parker, and Barbara Kendrick, who were practising, for the girls had to take turns to use the pianos, according to a carefully arranged monthly music list. Gipsy plodded on with her exercise, and had arrived at sentence No.

It had been rather dark in the linen room, and in order to examine the stockings better, she had switched on the electric light. She was almost certain that in her hurry she had forgotten to turn it off again. Leaving on the electric light unnecessarily was one of Gipsy's worst crimes, a negligence for which Miss Poppleton had often rebuked her severely.

If the Principal were to walk past the linen room she would certainly enquire who had been there last, and would administer a scolding, at the prospect of which Gipsy shivered. She wondered if she dared ask Miss Lindsay to allow her to go and ascertain. Her profile, rather stern in its outline, did not look particularly encouraging, and Gipsy sighed, knowing that her request would probably be met by a prompt refusal.

What was she to do? It was a question of braving either Miss Lindsay's or Miss Poppleton's wrath—perhaps both.

If she could get out of the room and return to her place without the governess discovering her absence, all would be well. Miss Lindsay seemed absorbed in her book, and as long as her pupils kept quietly at work she took no particular notice of them. As before stated, she was seated close to the window, while the girls were placed round a long table, the end of which, nearest to the open door, was unoccupied. Gipsy hastily scribbled on a scrap of paper: "I'm going to do a bolt—don't give me away! Then very quietly and cautiously she dropped from the form, and began to creep underneath the table in the direction of the open door.

Lennie and Hetty, after a glance at the paper, comprehended her scheme, and moved nearer together, lest her absence should be betrayed by a telltale gap. Some of the other girls of course noticed the occurrence, but, being loyal to Gipsy, they held their tongues and made no sign.


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  • As gently as a mouse she crept under the whole length of the table, chuckling inwardly at the fun of the adventure. Miss Lindsay read calmly on, quite oblivious of the fact that one of her pupils was crawling through the doorway on all-fours, and that the greater proportion of the rest were consciously aiding and abetting such a scandalous proceeding. Once she had gained the passage in safety, Gipsy sprang to her feet and ran with all speed to the linen room.

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    As she expected, the light was still on, so she switched it off with supreme satisfaction, congratulating herself heartily that Miss Poppleton had not been before her. It was only the work of a minute, and she hoped she could regain her place at the table in the same way as she had left it, without being missed by Miss Lindsay. She was hurrying back along the passage when Leonora, coming from practising, entered from the opposite direction, and without seeing Gipsy or noticing her frantic signs, went into the Juniors' room and closed the door behind her.

    The Peri shut out of Paradise was as nothing to the disconcerted girl who stood blankly in the corridor. Poor Gipsy was indeed in a dilemma. It was utterly impossible to open the door and walk in, but in the meantime every minute increased the probability of her absence being detected. But the corridor was not a safe place to wait in. Mistresses or Seniors might very possibly be passing, and would ask awkward questions.

    It seemed more discreet to retire downstairs, where she might catch Dilys as she came from the library. There was a large cupboard in the hall where the boarders kept some of their outdoor clothes, and here Gipsy took refuge, listening to the five difficult bars of a sonata with which Dilys was wrestling, and wishing her friend's half-hour at the piano might soon expire. As she stood among the coats and waterproofs, peeping out through a small chink of the door, she noticed Miss Poppleton come from the drawing-room, and cross the hall in the direction of the library.

    Gipsy was in a panic of fright. What account should she give of herself if her retreat were to be discovered? Alarm made her draw her breath sharply, and the action, combined perhaps with some dust or a slight cold—alack! Miss Poppleton paused for a second, then made an instant dart, and seized the culprit in the very midst of her fourth convulsive gasp. So it's you, Gipsy Latimer, is it? She felt that to do so would only involve her in further difficulties.

    Miss Poppleton's keen, suspicious eyes seemed to note every detail of her embarrassment. So you're the one who's been seen every evening in Mansfield Road! I haven't been out of the house at all. Besides—" here she began to examine the waterproofs and hats that were hanging upon the hooks , "Oh, you wicked, wicked girl!

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    Here's proof conclusive that you are telling a deliberate untruth! Why, your 'sailor' and your mackintosh are quite wet! Look at them, marked with your name, and try to deceive me if you dare! Whose galoshes are these, I should like to know, all muddy and covered with gravel? I suppose you'll pretend your initials are not 'G. I intend to sift the matter to the bottom. So this is how you repay me for my kindness in keeping you here!

    From Miss Poppleton's point of view the case against poor Gipsy certainly looked extremely black. The more the affair was investigated, the more everything seemed to indicate her guilt.

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    The girls who had been present with her at preparation were obliged, much against their will, to confess how she had left the room without Miss Lindsay's knowledge by crawling under the table, and what had been merely a piece of mischief assumed a far graver aspect when coupled with other circumstances. It was really a very serious fault of which poor Gipsy was accused. She was supposed not only to have set the school rules deliberately at defiance by taking a surreptitious walk alone in the evening, but to have shielded herself by the most brazen falsehoods.

    Remembering how, when she had first come to Briarcroft, she had begged to be permitted to go out, had chafed against the confinement of her life, and had constantly quoted the larger liberty allowed in American schools, Miss Poppleton could easily believe that she would be ready to break bounds if she found a suitable opportunity; and though hitherto Gipsy had been strictly truthful, her previous reputation for honour could not do away with the circumstantial evidence of the damp waterproof and galoshes. The neighbours who had reported noticing one of the Briarcroft boarders in Mansfield Road on several successive evenings could give no account of the truant's personal appearance.

    They thought she had dark hair, and that she must be about fourteen or fifteen years of age, but otherwise could not identify her in the least. The description might or might not fit Gipsy, but Miss Poppleton, misled by her own prejudice, jumped immediately to the conclusion that she and no other was the miscreant. If she had been harsh with the girl before, she was terribly stern with her now.

    She considered it an act of the very basest ingratitude and the most double-dyed deceit, and was the more particularly angry because the episode had brought the school into discredit. My sincere comdolences. Restore the Guest Book Obituary - Dilys Winn, Preeminent Mystery Fan Dilys Winn, the pioneering writer, editor, and bookseller who more than any other single figure came to define modern mystery fandom, died on February 5 in Asheville, North Carolina.

    Dilys was born in Dublin on September 8, , and came to the United States in December , leaving behind her father, who after completing medical school at Trinity College and becoming a physician in Dublin, served throughout World War II in the British army. She attended public schools in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, and graduated from the Baldwin School in Philadelphia and Pembroke College before becoming an advertising copywriter. In , Dilys opened the doors of Murder Ink, America's first bookstore devoted entirely to mysteries.

    In Dilys sold the bookstore and began work on Murder Ink, an oversized collection of essays and opinions about mystery fiction. Murder Ink was not the first publication aimed specifically at mystery fans, but Murder Ink immediately became the indispensable companion for the mystery community, which it went far to create. It was especially noteworthy for the range of material it included, from the editor's reminiscence of having tea with Frederic Dannay, the surviving partner of the cousins who had written as Ellery Queen, to her interview of novelist Donald Downes, a former OSS member who answered an advertisement she placed in The New York Times's Personals column inviting anyone willing to talk about the profession of spying to contact her.

    Dilys's voice was even more influential. Witty, facetious, confident, well-informed, opinionated, often acerbic, but never snobbish, it established a chatty, appealing persona for a generation of fans who followed her in rescuing mystery fiction from both the gutter and the academy. A sequel, Murderess Ink: The Better Half of the Mystery, followed in , along with a television movie, Murder Ink, starring Tovah Feldshuh as a mystery bookstore owner the following year.

    In the s Dilys moved to Key West, Florida, and opened another bookstore, Miss Marple's Parlour, where she sold mysteries and orchestrated one-night mystery shows.