“It’s strange that they should have had two strokes of bad luck in a matter of a few days,’ mused Felicity, tucking into a sandwich.
‘Very strange,’ said June.‘In fact, it’s almost as if someone was out to cause trouble for them.’
‘Surely not!’ cried Susan, looking shocked.‘Why, dear old Bill and Clarissa don’t have an enemy in the world!’
‘Of course they don’t!’ said Julie, ‘Everyone likes them.’
‘Don’t bite my head off!’ said June.‘But it’s quite clear that someone doesn’t like them—the person who stole their money. And the person who let Merrylegs out. I wonder if they are one and the same?’
There was a brief silence as the third formers digested this, and at last Pam said, ‘Well, at least Bill and Clarissa have been put on their guard now. If the troublemaker comes back and tries anything else, he might not find it so easy".
Clarissa shut the door firmly, turned the key in the lock, and pushed the deadbolt across the top. Almost straight away, Bill's strong arms wrapped around her waist.
"The curtains are still open”, Clarissa protested.
“Well it’s not as though anyone is peering through the windows is it?”, Bill teased gently. Clarissa shook her head and stepped out of Bill’s embrace to pull the curtains to. Then she hesitated and reached to pull them open again.
“What if it looks strange us having them closed during the day?”, she fretted, “and Felicity and the others are only outside”. Bill stepped in behind her and took Clarissa’s hands in hers, stopping her from fussing with the curtains.
“Clarissa, it really will be okay”, Bill murmured, and Clarissa finally relaxed a little back into Bill’s arms.
“What if all this has happened because someone knows?”, Clarissa asked. She ran her fingertips over Bill’s hands, tracing gentle patterns against her sun-tanned skin.
“Who would know, darling?”, Bill asked, pressing a kiss to Clarissa’s neck, “we are so careful”.
“Perhaps even that’s not careful enough”, Clarissa sighed, “you know some of the girls in our class had their suspicions about us, why not other people?”
Bill snorted, “Only one, maybe two girls suspected. But even so we weren’t as careful then. We didn’t know what might happen if people were to find out”.
“I just can’t help but wonder why else would someone be doing this to us”, Clarissa said.
“Perhaps it is all just a coincidence and we’ve had a run of bad luck”, Bill said, but she didn’t really sound all that convinced of that possibility herself.
“Maybe it isn’t even that someone knows, simply that they suspect”, Clarissa turned around in Bill’s arms, “we will have to take even more care until we know for certain”.
Bill didn’t say anything. Clarissa knew she was just turning her words over in her head and she kept quiet. Bill tightened her embrace for a second and then stepped back.
“I suppose I had best go and speak to Eleanor Banks”, she said, “as much as I hate to wish ill-fortune on someone else, I do hope that Mr Banks has also had some trouble”.
Clarissa busied herself with looking over their finances, fretting more about how they would recover from the theft. If worst came to worst then she could write to her parents and ask for help but her parents were growing more and more suspicious about her and Bill, and she didn’t want to shine too much of a light on the possibility that someone else was acting upon their suspicions in a most malicious way.
When Bill returned with the news that nothing untoward had happened at Mr Banks’ stables, Clarissa’s heart sank.
“This doesn’t necessarily mean…”, Bill said softly, leaning over the table and taking Clarissa’s hand in hers.
“I know”, Clarissa said, but she knew she didn’t sound convinced and she was quite sure Bill wasn’t either.