Sybil Russell flicked her strawberry-blonde hair over her shoulder and sighed. The mirror was too small! She struggled to fit her whole face into view, but failed, the authorities having deemed it wise to permit young girls the least amount of vanity possible. The mirror, as a result, was not meant for the purpose young Sybil wanted.
Walking away from such a hopeless cause, she flopped down onto her bed, breaking a rule or two as she did so. Even without a mirror she could tell that she looked ridiculous. "This uniform!" she moaned, looking down at the clothng in question. In her short life, Sybil had been used to simple, but pretty clothes. Her new uniform might be simple, but it certainly wasn't pretty. It looking alright on some of the older girls, but on her it looked dark and dingy.
At this point, her musings were interrupted. "Sybil!" exclaimed a voice. Sybil rolled her eyes, letting out an exaggerated sigh. "You haven't even started stripping your bed!" continued the voice. "And you know you can't leave your things lying around like this. Matey'll have a fit if she see your cubey!"
"Matey can go hang," came the retort.
Sybil's dormitory prefect gasped. As she told her friends later, "I could have cheerfully strangled the little demon. She refuses to listen to a word I say." Less than a week into the new term and the dormitory prefect of Jonquil was already regretting her promotion. Not only that, but she was also cultivating a healthy dislike for her young charge.
"You know you can't leave it like this."
"Can so!" Suiting word to action, Miss Sybil jumped off the bed, pushing past her dormitory prefect and errupting out into the corridor. Once free of the voice of disapproval, Sybil skipped towards the main staircase. Unfortunately for her, authority had not finished for the day, and she was soon spotted by Robin Humphries, the Head Girl.
"Sybil Russell!" called her pretty voice. "You know the rules by now - no skipping in the corridors."
Not liking this rebuke any more than those from her dormitory prefect, Sybil broke into a run. Robin was so fussy! She was always telling everyone what to do, especially the schoolgirl member of the Russell clan. "She's not even proper family," Sybil thought scathingly.
Arriving at the staircase, she contemplated her next move. In the corner of her eye she could see Robin striding towards her, lips set in a thin line. An escape was called for. Grinning, Sybil clambered on to the banister and slid gleefully downwards, accompanied by the shrieks of a worried Head Girl.
A creature of the moment, Sybil had failed to plan for what would happen after she began her descent. Sliding down the well-polished hand-rail at a speed she hadn't anticipated, she encountered another problem. What would happen when the stairs ended? Would she stop - would it hurt? Unsettling thoughts running through her head, an answer presented itself as Sybil reached the end of the staircase and, rather than stopping suddenly, continued her journey, soaring through the air.
Robin, taking the stairs three at a time in her haste, was astonished to see the small Junior take flight for an instant before crashing to the floor. Surprisingly, Sybil's movement had not stopped. She slid across the floor, most inelegantly, for a heartbeat, finally drawing to a stop at the feet of an irate Miss Dene.
Under the glaring eyes of the school secretary and the worried look of the Head Girl, Sybil stood up with as much grace as she could muster, raising a hand to anxiously smooth her hair.
"What have you been doing, Sybil?"
Sybil looked at Miss Dene haughtily. "None of your business," came her icy reply.
"Your actions are my business, Sybil. Especially if they involve breaking school rules. You know that sliding is forbidden. You also know that the main staircase is for staff and prefects only."
Sybil's small chin rose in defiance. "The rules don't count for me."
"And why is that?"
"'Cause my Mummy owns this school and she'll fire you if I tell her you've been mean to me," stated the sinner.
"Is that so?" Up to this point, Miss Dene had been almost pleasant in manner. This, however, changed her attitude drastically. Robin, experienced in the ways of the staff, began to fidget uncomfortably at her position on the stairs. Miss Dene's quick eyes spotted the girls predicament and exused her. Turning her attention back to Sybil, she noted the regal stance the young girl had taken. The breakfast bell pealed loudly, bringing rows of girls trooping down the back staircase. Even at that distance, many of them noticed the defiant-looking little girl and the serious-faced secretary. Prompted by their curious looks, Miss Dene spoke quietly.
"Come into my office, Sybil. We shall discuss this in private."
"Come along, child. Don't be so tiresome."
If there was anything Sybil hated, it was being called a child. Her blue eyes darkened and she glared at the mistress. "You can't make me."
"Sybil!" exclaimed Miss Dene, causing several of the passing girls to stop in surprise. "Do as I say or I shall report you to Miss Annersley!"
Every other member of the school would have taken this as her cue to realise that she had been beaten, and obeyed Miss Dene, but Sybil, with her inflated views of self-importance, did no such thing. To everyone's surprise she threw herself to the floor and threw the most outrageous tantrum any of the assembled party had ever seen.
Miss Dene grimaced. We're going to have a lot of trouble with this one," she muttered.