Cat Among the Pigeons

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Authors: Agatha Christie
conversation was made to the two new members of the staff. Had Mademoiselle Blanche been in England before? What part of France did she come from?
    Mademoiselle Blanche replied politely but with reserve.
    Miss Springer was more forthcoming.
    She spoke with emphasis and decision. It might almost havebeen said that she was giving a lecture. Subject: The excellence of Miss Springer. How much she had been appreciated as a colleague. How headmistresses had accepted her advice with gratitude and had reorganized their schedules accordingly.
    Miss Springer was not sensitive. A restlessness in her audience was not noticed by her. It remained for Miss Johnson to ask in her mild tones:
    â€œAll the same, I expect your ideas haven’t always been accepted in the way they—er—should have been.”
    â€œOne must be prepared for ingratitude,” said Miss Springer. Her voice, already loud, became louder. “The trouble is, people are so cowardly—won’t face facts. They often prefer not to see what’s under their noses all the time. I’m not like that. I go straight to the point. More than once I’ve unearthed a nasty scandal—brought it into the open. I’ve a good nose—once I’m on the trail, I don’t leave it—not till I’ve pinned down my quarry.” She gave a loud jolly laugh. “In my opinion, no one should teach in a school whose life isn’t an open book. If anyone’s got anything to hide, one can soon tell. Oh! you’d be surprised if I told you some of the things I’ve found out about people. Things that nobody else had dreamed of.”
    â€œYou enjoyed that experience, yes?” said Mademoiselle Blanche.
    â€œOf course not. Just doing my duty. But I wasn’t backed up. Shameful laxness. So I resigned—as a protest.”
    She looked round and gave her jolly sporting laugh again.
    â€œHope nobody here has anything to hide,” she said gaily.
    Nobody was amused. But Miss Springer was not the kind of woman to notice that.
    II
    â€œCan I speak to you, Miss Bulstrode?”
    Miss Bulstrode laid her pen aside and looked up into the flushed face of the matron, Miss Johnson.
    â€œYes, Miss Johnson.”
    â€œIt’s that girl Shaista—the Egyptian girl or whatever she is.”
    â€œYes?”
    â€œIt’s her—er—underclothing.”
    Miss Bulstrode’s eyebrows rose in patient surprise.
    â€œHer—well—her bust bodice.”
    â€œWhat is wrong with her brassière?”
    â€œWell—it isn’t an ordinary kind—I mean it doesn’t hold her in, exactly. It—er—well it pushes her up—really quite unnecessarily.”
    Miss Bulstrode bit her lip to keep back a smile, as so often when in colloquy with Miss Johnson.
    â€œPerhaps I’d better come and look at it,” she said gravely.
    A kind of inquest was then held with the offending contraption held up to display by Miss Johnson, whilst Shaista looked on with lively interest.
    â€œIt’s this sort of wire and—er—boning arrangement,” said Miss Johnson with disapprobation.
    Shaista burst into animated explanation.
    â€œBut you see my breasts they are not very big—not nearly big enough. I do not look enough like a woman. And it is very important for a girl—to show she is a woman and not a boy.”
    â€œPlenty of time for that. You’re only fifteen,” said Miss Johnson.
    â€œFifteen—that is a woman! And I look like a woman, do I not?”
    She appealed to Miss Bulstrode who nodded gravely.
    â€œOnly my breasts, they are poor. So I want to make them look not so poor. You understand?”
    â€œI understand perfectly,” said Miss Bulstrode. “And I quite see your point of view. But in this school, you see, you are amongst girls who are, for the most part, English, and English girls are not very often women at the age of fifteen. I like my girls to

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