All the girls jumped except Miranda. Miss Trindle frowned, which was no new expression, for her face wore a permanent scowl and was always, always ashy gray. She shook her head of silver hair in disapproval and would have punished the doorbell to an afternoon of scrubbing toilets if she could. It was a quarter to eleven and the doorbell never rang before lunch.
“Stay where you are and practice your curtsies,” said Miss Trindle. She buttoned her thread-bare gray sweater, and noticed for the first time that she was missing a button. She glowered and marched out into the entry hall.
All the girls craned their necks to see who was at the front door. Miranda already knew.
“I have a special delivery letter,” the courier said as the door opened.
“How impertinent!” huffed Miss Trindle. “Why was it not delivered in the daily mail?”
“Because,” the courier stammered. “It’s a special letter. It’s for a Miranda Knight.”
The whole room of girls gasped in one accord and whipped their heads around to gape at Miranda. Their shocked expressions soon gave way to narrowed eyes and pursed lips. Miranda swallowed.
Miss Trindle closed the door with a bang, and marched back into the library. She sat down behind her writing desk.
“Did you practice your curtsies?” she asked, adjusting her spectacles on the bridge of her lumpy nose.
“Yes, marm,” the girls lied in unison.
Miranda eyed Miss Trindle, her stomach fluttering. Very slowly she raised her hand.
“What is it?” Miss Trindle snapped.
“I heard my name,” she said softly.
Miss Trindle raised her bushy gray eyebrows. “Oh, yes, the door. It seems you have received a letter, but you will wait until lunch as usual. Now not another word or you will spend lunch time baiting mouse traps again.” She slipped the long white envelope into her top desk drawer and locked it with a key she wore around her neck.
Miranda took deep breaths to control her excitement. Her mind festered with questions. Who was the letter from? What was it about? Why would—
“Dismissed!” Miss Trindle barked.