When I sent this to Zena, I apparently prefaced it with the short message, "This is what happens when you put me on a train for 3 1/2 hours."
You have been warned...
Shortcut to: Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five
The next day at school Zena was in a maths lesson with her teacher Mrs Kate. At one moment, Mrs Kate asked a very difficult question indeed, and suddenly Zena had a brainwave.
No, she didn't know the answer to Mrs Kate's question. She did however realise that Mrs Kate couldn't possibly understand whatever answer she gave, so she wouldn't know that it was the wrong one. Zena's hand shot up in the air.
"Erm, yes,... er, Zena," said Mrs Kate, very surprised at who would attempt to solve her cruelly confusing and complicated conundrum.
"Bing!" said Zena enthusiastically, beaming from ear to ear.
"Pardon?" asked Mrs Kate, in a slightly-taken-aback kind of way.
Zena panicked inside. She hadn't anticipated being asked to explain herself. She j ust hadn't thought that far ahead.
"Well?" said Mrs Kate. "What's the matter Zena? Cat got your tongue?"
"Er, bing?" said Zena sheepishly.
"What kind of answer is that supposed to be?"
"Bing, uh ... bing."
"Are you trying to be funny, Zena? Is this some pathetic excuse for a joke? Do you see me laughing Zena? Do you?"
Zena decided it best not to answer Mrs Kate this time. She was beginning to look very angry indeed.
"WELL?" bellowed Mrs Kate. "DO YOU? Come on, I'm waiting!"
Zena sat fixed rigidly in her chair, her legs crossed as tightly as she could manage, making herself as small as she possibly could. She could feel all of the other children's eyes on her back, and began to feel very ill.
"Bing," she pleaded with Mrs Kate, her eyes welling with tearwater.
"Right! That's it! I'm taking you to the Head Master's office."
Oh no, thought Zena. How am I ever going to explain this to the Head Master? I'll be expelled!
Mrs Kate marched Zena ear-first down the corridor, the class behind erupting into excitable chatter the moment they left the room. Within seconds they arrived at a very grand-looking oak-panelled door much unlike any other door in the school. It had the following words engraved upon it:
PROFESSOR D.J.M. WALLACE Esq
HEAD MASTER TO THE SCHOOL
Mrs Kate rapped firmly on the door.
"Come in," said a voice quietly from the other side.
Mrs Kate threw open the door, pushed Zena through it, then slammed it loudly behind them both.
Zena's jaw dropped. She had never been inside the Head Master's office before and, now that she had, she forgot all about the trouble in which she had landed herself. Well, momentarily, at least.
The walls were lined with books. Old, antique and beautifully hardbound books, all the way up to the ceiling, which was at least twenty foot high. This looked very peculiar because the room itself was little more than four feet wid in either direction. Although, it seemed to get wider the higher she looked.
From the ceiling hung a huge crystal chandelier, which would not have been out of place in a stately home. In fact, this description could have been used for all of the other items in the room. It could have all come directly out of a big country house: the fireplace, the leather armchair, the writing desk, and ... and even the Head Master, Professor Wallace himself.
"And what can I do for you young lady?" said the old gentleman, putting down his quill pen and peering over his reading glasses at Zena.
"She's been disrupting my class, Head Master," said Mrs Kate firmly.
"Oh dear," muttered Professor Wallace, shaking his head slowly from side to side. "That won't do, will it? Won't do at all. So, exactly what have you been up to, hmm?"
Zena looked apologetically into his face, and nervously glanced at Mrs Kate, who was glaring angrily down at the little girl. She swallowed. Twice.
"Bing," she said, sorrowfully.
Mrs Kate's face turned from red to purple, and swelled as if about to explode.
Professor Wallace merely took off his glasses and looked intently at Zena. "Bing?" he said quizzically. "My dear, did you say 'Bing'?"
To be continued...
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