About the author
The author is a barrister, and has written
a number of law books and legal articles.
He is also a sculptor, a cartoonist, and the
of a respected law journal and law report
He wrote this book for his granddaughter,
having previously written a book for her two
He has three other lovable, and very
Each has been promised a book...
Also by this author
Dare to Win
Clearly it was dead. So what was a well-brought-up, bright,
12-year-old girl like Isabel Curtin (whom, naturally, everyone called Belle) to
do on finding, stretched out on the pillow in her bed in her room at Trenton
Ladies College – a first-class girls’ boarding school – a large, dead rat!
There were, of course, only three choices. She could scream
very loudly, or she could calmly pick the creature up by its tail and take it
outside the room to dispose of it in the dustbin placed nearby in the corridor,
or she could quietly walk out of the room and try to forget, at least for the
time being, that she had ever seen the hairy rodent.
Belle had always been good at making quick decisions.
Without any hesitation, she picked her first option, and, quite energetically,
screamed, and screamed, and screamed some more.
Although it was shortly after lunch on a Saturday and the
spring weather was perfect, so that many of the students, and those of the
school staff who lived on campus, were outside the dormitory building,
nevertheless a few girls still rushed into Belle’s room.
The first to do so was her best friend, Lucy, who upon
seeing Belle so obviously upset, anxiously asked, “What’s wrong?”
This naturally called for a reply, which was just as well
as, after the first three energetic screams, Belle was finding it hard to put
the same effort into the following ones, and was grateful for the opportunity to
stop, and say, whilst pointing to the bed, “Look at that!”
Lucy did so, saw the dead rat, and immediately filled in
for Belle’s screaming, adding an element of sheer horror because, unlike Belle,
who simply didn’t like dead things, Lucy was truly terrified of rodents, alive
So the noise level was even greater than it had been at the
time Belle first saw the rat, when, after three more girls had come to the room,
seen the dead creature, and helped create what was by then a chorus of
screaming, one of the school’s teachers entered.
Miss Burple was the house mistress who lived at the school,
as well as being a teacher. She was not a good choice for either position for
she disliked teaching and detested children. Although she had been good enough
at masking both these characteristics from the school authorities when she
applied for employment at the school some three weeks earlier, the girls at the
school were not so easily fooled, and tried to avoid her as much as was
This time, of course, avoidance was impossible. Miss Burple
had quite properly come to Belle’s room on hearing her very distinct screams.
But sympathetic and supportive she was not.
“What’s all this racket about? Tell me this instant! And
stop that dreadful screaming right now!”
Miss Burple, surprisingly for a person who was so tall and
thin, had a booming voice which commanded obedience. The room fell silent.
One of the girls, now almost as deeply shocked by Miss
Burple’s presence as she had been by the dead rat, opened her mouth to answer
the teacher, but no words came out. So she simply pointed to what lay on Belle’s
“Is that all?” barked the teacher, who, the girls noticed
and commented on later with much amusement, had developed a distinct reddish
flush on each of her cheeks and, oddly enough, on the tip of her nose. With
that, seeing that everyone else in the room had put themselves as far away from
the bed as possible, she strode up to it and, without any hesitation, picked up
the rodent by the tail and whisked it off the pillow.
Had she then taken herself and the rat out of the room, she
would have earned some degree of grudging admiration from the girls. But, being
who she was, she did more, which immediately wiped out that plus in the girls’
opinion of her. Leering at all of them, she swung the rat, by its tail, in a
half circle right under some girls’ noses, causing the obviously desired fear
and loathing – and then stormed out with the dead animal, presumably to dispose
The resultant anger of those left in Belle’s room almost
wiped out their earlier horror over the dead rodent. One girl even said loudly,
“So much for the school’s motto,” referring to the words that had been invented
by the students that the first letters of the school’s name were supposed to
stand for – “tender loving care”.
A murmur of agreement was the response, and, one by one,
all then left until only Belle and Lucy remained. Belle still looked out of
sorts, and so, instinctively, Lucy gave her friend a hug. Then she drew back,
looking puzzled, and said, “You know just because the rat’s gone, doesn’t end
matters. You’ve still got to find out three things, and I’ll help you. You have
to know how the rat was put here, so you can make sure it never happens again.
You also certainly have to find out who it was that put it in the room. Only a
person with a really twisted mind could have done it.”
Belle replied, looking worried, “Yes, you’re right, Lucy.
But what’s the third thing?”
Lucy looked very serious. “Belle, you have to find out why
some person, or persons, did this!”