It was easy to open the lock on her sister’s book. She just needed a pin and, hey presto, the latch gave way. Now she could find out if her suspicion was correct. Oh, look — a heart. Prudence had even drawn a heart. This was going to be funny.
‘Nobody knows how wonderful he is. Dare I mention his name? Nobody will read what I write of course, but — he’s too perfect. Martin. There, I did it. When Sandy talks about how much she fancies Pete, I have to smile. How can she? When Martin is there?’
Mary sniggered. Martin — that fool — arrogant and a know-it-all. Should she read on? Perhaps. It might be her only chance. On the other hand, Prudence wouldn’t be home yet. Look at her handwriting. Prudence was hard hit. No doubt. Her hand must’ve shaken as she wrote this. What a lark.
‘His eyes are deep and brown to die for and drown in. He’s so witty.’
WITTY. That was hard to believe. Did he ever open his mouth? She gurgled with laughter and dropped the book. Something fell out and the lock disappeared under a piece of furniture. Better get it out. She scrambled to her knees and tried to fit her fingers under the chest. The gap was too narrow. She was sweaty now. There was a ruler on the desk. She grabbed it and pushed it in. Careful. There was the lock; a few scratches and some dust to wipe. She’d be fine.
There was a loose piece of paper. She’d seen it fall out but where was it now? More to the point: what was on it? She’d better find that fast. This wasn’t so funny now. Where was that stupid paper? Oh, why did she? Never mind. Find that piece of paper and get everything back in Prudence’s diary and back on the shelf. On hands and knees, she searched the floor. There. She’d pushed the chair on top of it and it was crumbled up. Her fingers shook as she tried to iron out the creases.
‘And what exactly are you doing here?’
It was Prudence. Oh, blast.
‘Nothing. I’m larking around.’
‘I don’t think so.’
In two steps, Prudence reached the desk and seized the open book.
‘What did you do with this? It’s private—’
‘Sure, sure, I know. It. It fell off the shelf. I heard it! It — the lock fell off and I had to fish it out under your chest of drawers. There was a piece of paper. Where did that go? You’re not helping, Prudence.’
Mary crumbled the paper in her fist and hid it in her apron pocket.
Prudence narrowed her eyes. The lock was open on the desk. She put the book down and grabbed the lock.
‘Look, it’s all scratched and horrid. You little scamp, you tried to open it. Why must I put up with my horrid sister? DID YOU READ IT? Tell the truth for once.’
Prudence’s hand came out of nowhere. That stung.
‘YOU HIT ME. I’m telling mum.’
Mary ran, slamming the door after her. Prudence shouldn’t hit her. Not ever. She hated her big sister. Well, she still had that piece of paper. Who knew what it hid? Maybe it would be useful later.
© HMH, 2019