Fabulous Five 027 - The Scapegoat

BOOK: Fabulous Five 027 - The Scapegoat
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THE
FABULOUS FIVE #27

THE SCAPEGOAT

BETSY HAYNES

A BANTAM SKYLARK
BOOK®

NEW YORK • TORONTO •
LONDON • SYDNEY • AUCKLAND

RL 5, 009-012

THE SCAPEGOAT

A Bantam Skylark
Book / November 1991

Skylark Books is a
registered trademark of Bantam Books, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell
Publishing Group, Inc. Registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and
elsewhere. The Fabulous Five is a registered trademark of Betsy Haynes and
James Haynes.

All rights
reserved.

Copyright
©
1991 by Betsy Haynes and James Haynes.

Cover art
copyright
© 1991 by Andrew Bacha.

No part of this
book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic
or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage
and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

For information
address: Bantam Books.

If you purchased
this book without a cover you should be aware that this book is stolen
property. It was reported as "unsold and destroyed" to the publisher
and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this
"stripped book."

ISBN 0-553-15872-4

Published
simultaneously in the United States and Canada

Bantam Books are
published by Bantam Books, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing
Group, Inc. Its trademark, consisting of the words "Bantam Books" and
the portrayal of a rooster, is Registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
and in other countries. Marca Registrada. Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New
York, New York 10103.

PRINTED IN THE UNITED
STATES OF AMERICA

OPM      0 9 8 7 6 5
4 3 2 1

CHAPTER 1

"Thanks for the ride, Daddy," said Christie as
Finchley pulled the big, black Mercedes-Benz limousine up to the curb in front
of St. Margaret's school.

"No problem, sweetheart," Mr. Winchell replied.

Usually Christie rode one of the red, double-decker city
buses to school. But today her father was going to a business meeting in France
and had offered to have Finchley, the company chauffeur, drop her off on the
way to the airport.

Christie slid out of the car and shoved her hat down on her
head. She didn't mind wearing the blue blazer and skirt that were the school's
uniform, but the wide-brimmed hat was a real pain. It looked silly on her and
blew off with the slightest breeze.

"Well, look who just came to school in style!"
called Nicki McAfee. "Is it the queen herself, arriving in her carriage?"
Nicki, Phoebe Mahoney, and Eleanore Geach were standing by the gate to the
schoolyard.

Nicki had light brown hair that was cut short in the front
and on top and long in back. She was flamboyant and reminded Christie of one of
her friends from home, Beth Barry. Phoebe was more like Jana Morgan. She had
dark brown hair and always seemed to be in control of herself. Eleanore—Ellie,
as the others called her—was small and red-haired. She looked like Katie
Shannon, but she was a lot less opinionated than Christie's friend back home.

Phoebe joined in the teasing. "Maybe it's Lady Di."

Other kids turned to see what was going on. Even Christie's
science teacher, Miss Finney, who was just going into the school, stopped to
look.

Christie cringed. She hadn't thought coming to school in her
father's company limousine would attract so much attention.

"My dad had to go to the airport this morning,"
she quickly explained, "and he dropped me off on the way."

"No need to explain to us," replied Nicki. "We
know our places. Some of us were meant to be commoners, and some were meant to
be royalty."

Christie grinned. When they had first met, she had thought
Nicki didn't like her and was singling her out. But it turned out that Nicki
was that way with everyone. She just liked getting under people's skin.

It had been hard for Christie when her family moved to
London, England, a couple of months before because of her father's job. She had
had to leave behind all her friends at Wakeman Junior High and everything else
she loved. Leaving her best friends in The Fabulous Five was the toughest thing
of all. She had known Jana Morgan, Beth Barry, Melanie Edwards, and Katie
Shannon for almost as long as she could remember, and she missed them terribly.

When her family first arrived in London, Christie had felt
like a stranger. She didn't know anyone, and the schools were totally
different. All the private schools, like St. Margaret's, were for either boys
or girls. And for some strange reason, the private schools were called public
schools. On top of that, there weren't any malls or places like Bumpers, the
fast-food place back home, where kids could hang out. Even some words had
different meanings, and Christie was constantly misunderstanding what was being
said to her.

"We were talking to Connie on the bus this morning,"
said Phoebe, changing the subject. "Guess what—he says he's going to ask
his mum if he can have a horseback-riding party at his family's country home."

Christie realized her mouth was open and shut it quickly. "Country
home?" she asked. She knew the Farrells were something like fifteenth
cousins to the queen of England and lived in a mansion in London. It was filled
with all kinds of gorgeous furniture and huge, gilt-framed paintings of their
ancestors. But Christie hadn't known they had another home in the country. They
must be richer than she thought.

"Yes, it's near Hoddesdon," said Phoebe. "It's
not far from London. We went riding there once."

Ellie got a dreamy look in her eyes. "They've got
servants that bring you sandwiches and sweet cakes when you come in from
riding."

"And they've got all sorts of fabulous horses,"
joined in Nicki. Even she sounded excited.

"That sounds fantastic," said Christie. "I
hope Connie asks me to go."

"He said he would," Phoebe assured her.

Just then the bell in the belfry on top of the steep slate
roof of St. Margaret's started chiming, and all the girls in the schoolyard
moved toward the entrance. The gray stone building looked like a miniature
castle, and Christie thought the solemn gonging of the bell fit it perfectly.

 

"Neat car you came to school in today," said Becca
Stewart as Christie took her seat in science class later that morning.

"I didn't know your family had a chauffeur," said
Denise Hume.

Christie sighed. It seemed as if everyone had seen her come
in the limousine. She was sorry she had let her father drop her off.

"We don't," she answered, putting her backpack on
her desk. "It's no big deal, really. The car belongs to my father's
company, and Finchley works for them. They use it to take businesspeople around
when they come into town. When it's not busy, he takes company people to and
from the airport. My dad was going on a trip, so they just dropped me off."
Christie hoped this would be the last time she would have to explain it.

"That's neat, anyway," said Becca. "It won't
hurt your image to come to school in a limousine."

Christie shrugged and smiled. Right now she was more worried
about what Miss Finney would think about her science project. She had worked
hard on it the night before.

Christie looked at Miss Finney as she was taking roll. The
teacher's hair was streaked with gray, and she wore black, plastic-rimmed
glasses. Her mouth, with its turned-down corners, made her look as if she never
laughed.

Christie had been in Miss Finney's class for just a few
weeks and hadn't done anything to make her angry, but she couldn't help feeling
as if the teacher didn't like her. First Christie thought it was her
imagination, but Miss Finney hardly ever called on her. When Christie raised
her hand to ask a question, sometimes the teacher ignored her.

Suddenly Miss Finney turned her stern eyes on Christie.
Christie looked away quickly.

"All right, class, bring your experiments to the front
of the room and place them on the table," said the teacher.

Carefully Christie took the glass jar out of her backpack
and looked at the stalk of celery floating in it. She had written her name on a
piece of tape on the side of the jar, as she was supposed to. Good, she
thought. My celery's still red.

The experiment was supposed to demonstrate how plants suck
up water and nutrients into their stalks and leaves. Following the instructions
Miss Finney had given them, Christie had filled a jar with water, then stirred
in food coloring. Next she cut off the bottom of the celery stalk and put the
stalk in the water. Christie thought the way the celery changed from pale green
to red was interesting, but it was really pretty simple. She didn't see how she
could have done anything wrong.

Following Becca, Christie put her experiment on the table
with the others. She looked quickly at the row of jars. The celery in each of
them was a deep shade of red, just as hers was.

The class waited quietly as Miss Finney picked up the jars
one by one, shook them, and wrote down a grade both on the tape with the
student's name and in her grade book. When she got to Christie's, the teacher
barely looked at it before writing a grade on it.

"You may pick up your experiments at the end of class,"
Miss Finney announced when she was finished.

The rest of the hour was a lecture on how plants and animals
use water and food. Christie listened carefully, took lots of notes, and tried
to show the teacher she was interested.

Sarah Pike, who was Miss Finney's pet, raised her hand
almost every five minutes to ask questions about things the teacher had just
said. Becca rolled her eyes at Christie each time Sarah did it.

When the bell rang, Miss Finney ignored it, as she usually
did, and continued talking. As the minutes ticked by, girls started squirming
nervously. Christie looked at her watch. She would have to hurry to make it to
her next class in time. Why did Miss Finney always keep them after the bell?
She seemed to think her class was the only one they had.

Finally the teacher stopped talking and told them they were
dismissed. The girls rushed to the table to grab their experiments and get out
the door.

"I got an A!" squealed Sarah.

"Lucky you," said another girl. "I only got a
B."

"I got a B, too," said someone else.

Nodding toward Sarah, Becca whispered to Christie, "She's
probably the
only
one who got an A."

Christie took her jar, glanced at it quickly, and stuffed it
into her backpack. Then she froze. Frowning, she reopened her pack and pulled
the jar back out. She looked at it again in disbelief. Printed boldly on the tape
next to her name was a D-!

CHAPTER 2

Christie stayed behind as the other girls left and shuffled
nervously from one foot to the other. Finally the teacher looked up.

"Yes, Miss Winchell?"

"Uh . . . Miss Finney," Christie managed to say. "I
got a D minus on my experiment. Is that right? I mean . . . did you really mean
to give me that grade?"

"Of course. Otherwise why would I have given it to you?"

Christie couldn't believe her ears. She had never gotten a D
in her whole life. "What did I do wrong, Miss Finney?"

The teacher stared at her for a moment. "You obviously
hurried your experiment, Miss Winchell. Your celery had barely changed to red.
I suggest that you follow instructions more carefully next time, and give
yourself time to complete the experiment
properly.
"

Christie was about to protest that she had, but the look on
Miss Finney's face stopped her. Her shoulders sagged, and she left the room.

"I'm sorry I'm late, ma'am," Christie apologized
as she slipped into Mrs. Eberhardt's English literature class. The teacher
nodded and continued lecturing.

Christie pulled out her English book and looked over the
shoulder of the girl in front of her to see what page the class was on. Then
she settled back to try to listen.

Instead her mind kept going back to Miss Finney's class and
the experiment with the celery. What could she have done wrong? She went over
the instructions in her mind. She knew them word for word. She
had
been
careful, and she
had
taken her time.

Christie tried to remember how the jars lined up on the lab
table in Miss Finney's room had looked. She couldn't remember there being that
much difference in the color of any of the stalks. Maybe Sarah's celery was a
little more red than the others. Christie didn't know for sure. But she was
sure that hers wasn't so different from the others that she deserved a D-.
Maybe there had been a glare on the glass, and Miss Finney just hadn't been
able to see the color of her celery very well. Christie's spirits lifted. I'll
just take it back to her and have her look at it again, she decided.

Just as quickly her spirits spiraled downward. I can't do
that, she thought. Miss Finney might think I put more color in it before I
brought it back. She'll say I cheated.

Sitting up straight, Christie clenched her fists. Mr.
Dracovitch, her science teacher back in the States, had made science so
interesting, she was sure now that she wanted to be a scientist. Her parents
had told her that if she made good enough grades, she might even be able to go
to Oxford University here in England. Oxford was supposed to be one of the best
universities in the world.

I
know
I can get an A in science, she thought. I'll
try twice as hard on the next project. No,
ten times
as hard. Feeling
better, she focused on what Mrs. Eberhardt was saying.

 

"There's a letter for you, sweetheart," Mrs.
Winchell said as Christie walked into the kitchen after school.

Christie dropped her books on the counter and grabbed the
mail.

"It's from Chase," said her mother, smiling. "This
is your lucky day." Christie took the letter upstairs to her room to read
it in private.

"Getting a letter from Chase is about the only lucky
thing that's happened to me today," Christie announced to the five stuffed
bears arranged on her bed. The bears had been given to her by her friends in
The Fabulous Five the day they saw her off at the airport.

A thrill ran through Christie as she tore open the envelope.
She had dated Chase Collins before they moved. Even though she had gotten in
trouble because he had talked her into breaking curfew several times, she still
liked him. Her heart pounded in her chest as she read the letter.

 

Dear Christie:

I got your letter. It sounds as if you're seeing some
neat things
,
like the Tower of London. That's really grisly about those
two princes being murdered there. Do you think you'll get to visit Winston Churchill's
war room sometime? I read that it's all underground and there are lots of rooms
and passages. The walls are covered with maps that show where all the battles
were fought during World War II. If you get to go there
,
you've got to
get doubles on all the handouts and send them to me.

Swimming is going great. We had a meet with Georgetown
Junior High
,
and I won four first-place medals.

Next month they're going to have tryouts for the Junior
Olympics. Coach Benfield is helping me train for it. I have to admit, I've
gotten to be a better swimmer since I quit skipping practice.

As a matter of fact I'm even doing better in math
,
too.
All my grades are up. I keep thinking about how well I could have been doing in
everything if I had met you sooner. See what a good influence you've been on
me!

Is there any chance your family will move back to
America? I'd sure like it if you did.

Got to close for now. Don't forget the souvenirs from
Churchill's war room.

Chase

X O X O X O

 

Christie could hardly believe it. She had thought he had put
X
's and
O
's on an earlier letter and then erased them. This time
he had left them.

"He really does like me,"
she whispered,
holding the letter to her chest.

Chase would undoubtedly win tons of medals in the Junior
Olympics. After all, hadn't he won
six
gold medals in the Southern
California Olympics before his family moved? She would love to be there to
cheer him on.

Christie got up, went to her desk and opened the upper
righthand drawer, where she kept her magic box. She called it that because
whenever she was lonely, she took it out and looked at all the things her
friends back home had sent her. In it were the friendship books that each of
The Fabulous Five members had made for her. The books had all kinds of things
in them, like class pictures, snapshots of the five of them doing fun things
together, and lots of lists—lists of their favorite singers, actors, colors,
and books; a list of their birthdays; even lists of what they liked about boys.

Christie put the books aside and took out Chase's things.
She loved the picture of him standing on a diving platform with a medal around
his neck. He was really handsome, with his black hair and dark eyes. Next she
pulled out the note paper on which he had written "C. C. + C. W."

She was about to put his latest letter in the box, when she
changed her mind. Instead she took it to her bed and put it under her pillow.
Maybe it'll help me dream about him, she thought.

BOOK: Fabulous Five 027 - The Scapegoat
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