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School For Jamie By Angela Rigley

The third book in the continuing Victorian saga

School For Jamie

Biting his lip, Jamie Dalton turned away from the sight of the rain-sodden garden. His little sister, Alice, took her thumb out of her mouth and surprised him by saying, “Bella.”

“No, darling, Bella isn’t…she can’t…” How could he explain that her twin sister was dead? Today of all days. Even though Annabella had died a few months before, Alice still didn’t understand. She didn’t know what dead meant. She just wanted her twin. Her birthday must have reminded her.

“I know what we can do, Alice. Let’s play raindrop races. It’s not the same as having a picnic like we were going to, but we can’t do that now, can we?” She nodded, her blue eyes, framed by dark lashes, looking bleak as she replaced her thumb. She probably didn’t understand what a picnic was, either, being only two. He pointed to one of the raindrops cascading down the window. “That’s yours. See if it beats mine—that one up there—to the bottom.”

“You win.” He clapped, but she didn’t seem interested in the race.

Picking up her rag doll and clutching it tightly, she toddled over to the tallboy on the other side of the nursery. Looking back at Jamie, she frowned. “What’s the matter?” he asked. “Dolly.” She pointed to the empty space where her twin’s doll usually sat. His eyes opened wide. Where was it? It always sat there. “Oh, golly gosh,” he muttered, peeping up at the ceiling, scared that, somehow, Annabella might have returned as a ghost and reclaimed her toy.

Everything looked normal up there. No hazy patches or blurry shapes. What did a ghost look like, anyway?

His fears unfounded, he hurried across to Alice and hugged her, taking one more peek upwards, just to make sure. Then he looked down both sides of the cupboard, pulled out the drawers, opened the door and searched inside. No doll. “Did you take it to bed with you last night?” She’d never done that before, but like his mama often said, ‘There’s a first time for everything.’ When she shook her head, he rushed over to the bed, pulled the covers off and checked underneath. Still no doll.

“Maybe Nanny’s moved it,” he tried to console her as her eyes filled with tears.

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