Authors: Kit Pearson
Praise for Kit Pearson
“Kit Pearson is a great talent in Canadian children's literature.”
“One of Canada's best junior fiction writers.”
“Pearson is a strong writer whose work puts to shame most of the books that kids spend so much time reading these days.”
“Kit Pearson gives young readers a strong testament of the interlocking nature and power of reading, writing and living.”
The Vancouver Sun
“Another magical tale from the master.”
“Dazzle. It's not the right word for what Kit Pearson manages to do â¦ but it's close. Closer would be a word that catches the irregular glint of light reflected on water, street lights suspended in fog, an opalescent fracturing of time and genre to create something with its own unique glow.”
“Through the vivid observation of two summers, Pearson weaves a summer out of time and weaves as well a spell over her readers.”
The Globe and Mail
“The very best in fiction for young adults. Kit Pearson does herself proud.”
The Windsor Star
“Kit Pearson's careful and exact research brings the period vividly before us.”
The London Free Press
“The woman is a brilliant writer.”
Kingston This Week
“Pearson superbly and gently captures the welter of emotions that beset a young teen who is experiencing the onset of adolescence and having to cope with its physical and emotional demands.”
“This is a writer at the top of her craft.”
Quill & Quire
“Pearson's real strength â¦ lies in her ability to convey the texture of a specific time and placeâ¦. So vividly and lovingly evoked that it is almost possible to smell the pine trees.”
THE DARING GAME
was born in Edmonton and grew up there and in Vancouver. Her previous seven novels (six of which have been published by Penguin) have been published in Canada, in English and French, and in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain, China, and Korea. She has received fourteen awards for her writing, including the Vicky Metcalf Award for her body of work. She presently lives in Victoria.
Visit her website:
Also by Kit Pearson
A Handful of Time
The Sky Is Falling
Looking at the Moon
The Lights Go On Again
This Land: An Anthology of Canadian Stories
for Young Readers
Whispers of War:
The War of 1812 Diary of Susanna Merritt
A Perfect Gentle Knight
The Daring Game
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First published by Penguin Group (Canada), a division of Pearson Canada Inc., 1986
Published in Puffin Canada paperback by Penguin Group (Canada),
a division of Pearson Canada Inc., 1987
Published in this edition, 2007
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 (OPM)
Copyright Â© Kathleen Pearson, 1986
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
Publisher's note: This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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For Joe and Anne Pearson
the Class of '65
ASHDOWN ACADEMY MOTTO
liza sat alone in the headmistress's study, trying to stop her knees from trembling. Tugging her dress over them, she wondered again if she should have worn her uniform.
She didn't want to begin boarding school with any mistakes. It was bad enough having to start a day late because her uncle's car had broken down on their camping trip. She slipped off one shoe and swung it from her big toe nervously. Perhaps her white knee socks weren't correct either; did grade seven girls in Vancouver wear socks or nylons?
Taking a steadying breath, Eliza looked around the room. An oak desk beside her was covered with orderly piles of papers. A daily calendar stood beside them, and her own name leaped out at her in upside-down precise writing: “September 6, 1964âElizabeth Chapman 11 a.m.”
On one wall of the crowded study was an oil painting of a stern-looking woman with frizzy grey hair. Eliza stared at her face, trying to imagine it relaxing into a
smile. She listened to the rattle of the rain on the veranda roof and the even
of a clock in the hall.
“Ah, Elizabeth.” The brisk voice brought Eliza to her feet with a start, fitting on her shoe hastily.
“I'm so sorry to be late. How do you do? I am Miss Tavistock.” The tall angular woman looked so much like the one in the picture that, for a second, Eliza thought she was dreaming. But Miss Tavistock had brown hair, not grey, and her firm handshake was very real.
Shutting the door, the headmistress pulled a chair from behind the desk to face Eliza. “Please sit down. I'm delighted to finally meet you after we've both been delayed.”
“My aunt and uncle were sorry they couldn't stay,” said Eliza, her voice croaking. “The baby started crying and they had to take her home.” Then she remembered another message. “And Mum and Dad said to say they were sorry they had to go to Toronto so early and couldn't come with me to meet you.”
“Yes, I had a very nice letter from your mother explaining it all. At least we've got
here, and that's the most important thing. Welcome to Ashdown, Elizabeth. I hope you'll be happy this year.”
The headmistress's huge, deep blue eyes, the only round feature in her bony face, looked kind. Eliza began to relax slightly. “You can call me Eliza,” she ventured.
“We believe in proper names here,” said Miss Tavistock, in a tone which didn't expect any arguments. “And Elizabeth is such a beautiful one,” she added more gently.
Eliza wasn't sure she liked this; she was never called by her full name. But she didn't seem to have a choice.
“I've asked for some tea, so we can get acquainted,” said Miss Tavistock. “Now tell me what you think of Vancouver.”
Eliza sat up straighter. “I think it's â¦ really nice.” It sounded so lame. She wished she could express how attached she already felt to this city. Vancouver made the Alberta prairies look drab. The mountains that rose straight out of the bay surprised her continually; their massive, tree-covered shapes were a different shade of blue each morning.
She was shyly describing the beach on Vancouver Island where they'd gone camping, when a tray with a silver teapot on it was passed around the door by invisible hands. The headmistress poured Eliza a cup without even asking if she wanted it.
“Just milk? There you are. Now let me tell you about Ashdown. The other girls are all at church. We go to the cathedral every Sunday, but I went to the early service at St. Mary's so I could meet you. They'll be back in about an hour. You will be in the Yellow Dormitory with four othersâCaroline Olsen, Pamela Jennings, Jean McQuiggan and Helen Beauchamp. They're all new boarders like yourself, except for Helen. She's been with us for three years now.”
She paused, and Eliza thought she gave a slight sigh, but then she continued. “I've put the five of you together because you're the youngest of the grade sevens-two of you are still eleven.”
Eliza nibbled on a chocolate-covered cookie as she stopped listening and tried to remember those four names.
“â¦ and the school was founded in 1910 by my great-aunt, Miss Dora Peck. She's still alive, although she's very oldâthat's her picture.”
So that was why they looked alike. Eliza tried to concentrate on balancing her cup, saucer, cookie and napkin on her lap as Miss Tavistock told her the aims of Ashdown Academy. There seemed to be a lot of them.
“â¦ and, most important of all, whenever there is a conflict between one's personal desires and the general good, I hope that an Ashdown student would choose the school over herself.” The headmistress paused and looked expectantly at her. Eliza's knees wobbled and she spilled tea on her dress. She knows I'm not paying attention, she thought unhappily.
“Well, I'm sure you won't have any difficulty living up to Ashdown's standards, Elizabeth,” said Miss Tavistock with a quick smile. “Now, you probably would like to have a little quiet time in your dormitory before the others return.” She pressed a buzzer. “Miss Monaghan will show you where everything is.”
Before Eliza knew what was happening she was out the door, her sloppy cup and saucer retrieved from her and her dress wiped by Miss Tavistock without a word. The first ordeal was over.
much time, you know. I have to be out of here in ten minutes. She certainly kept you long.” Eliza
hurried up the stairs behind Miss Monaghan, straining to catch her words. They passed the open doors of rooms cluttered with suitcases, turned down a narrow hall and went into a square room with windows across three of its yellow walls.
“Here we areâthis is your dorm. It looks like they've left you the upper bunk, I'm afraid. Here's your dresser and your suitcase. You can start putting your clothes away. The closet's here, and your dorm has its own bathroom.”