After their class was over, the girls walked by the office and saw Irene and a well-dressed gentleman, sitting in front of the principal and Mrs. Grant. The Rolls Royce was parked outside and they assumed Irene’s father was the gentleman. A few of the groundskeepers were looking at the car as if it was a spaceship. Like most of the people around town, they had never see a car that fancy.
The girls knew what was surely going to happen to Irene and the guilt started to overcome them. They may be cowards but they were cowards with a conscience. They questioned each other as to whether they should go in and confess, but they were terrified at what would happen for not only smoking in the bathroom, but for letting somebody else take the blame.
That night, they talked on the telephone and tried to decide what to do. Should they tell their parents that they were smoking at school? All of their parents smoked, as did all of their teachers but they had been warned to “do as I say, not as I do. Don’t ever let me catch you with a cigarette.”
If they confessed, they would surely suffer the most horrific of punishments, which was being grounded until they were thirty. That had been threatened more than once, so they decided that wasn’t an option.
Maybe they could blame it on somebody else. They could say that they saw somebody run out before they could get a good look at them. Everybody knew that teachers were idiots and by definition, so was Mrs. Grant. Surely she would believe their well-constructed tall tale. She would also believe that their excuse for not coming clean in the first place, was because they were scared that the person would find out they told on them and beat them up after school.
That plan sounded perfectly reasonable to the girls of fifteen, who possessed intelligence that far exceeded any nitwit teacher. They decided that the next day, they would all go to the office and tell Mrs. Grant their intriguing, cloak-and-dagger tale of the mysterious, phantom villain who got away. They would then appropriately tremble as they explained their fear at the thought of retribution from that heinous, vindictive smoker.
The next morning the girls met in the rotunda and although nervous, they were ready to put their brilliant plan into motion. After they took a deep breath and started walking toward the office, they stopped dead in their tracks when they met Irene on the way. She smiled as they walked toward her.
In unison, they said “oh, my God! Thank you so much for not telling on us! What happened? Why aren’t you suspended? Why aren’t you expelled?” Irene laughed and said “my father made a substantial donation to the school. You know what they say. Money talks.”
They chatted until the bell rang for class and as they started walking away, the girls said “will you eat lunch with us? We’ll save you a seat.” Irene said “sure.”
At lunch, it was as if Irene and the girls had been friends forever. There were conversations about boys, idiot teachers, smoking and future weekend sleep-overs. The girls were surprised at how down to earth Irene was, considering her background and wealth. Irene was surprised at how warm and genuinely caring the girls seemed to be. It was that day that she became “Reeny” to them.
From that point on, the four girls were inseparable and eventually became known as “The Feisty Four.”
To be continued…………