Tall Poppies

Tall Poppies by Louise Bagshawe Read Free Book Online Page B

Book: Tall Poppies by Louise Bagshawe Read Free Book Online
Authors: Louise Bagshawe
Tags: Fiction, General
    The smile was replaced by a frown, but five minutes later Nina was back out on the sidewalk with a brown envelope in her hand. It contained $6z7; all she had in the world.

Chapter 6
    ‘Six thirty! Six thirty, mesdemoiselles.’
    Elizabeth could hear the maid coming along the dormitory corridor, tapping on doors to wake up the young ladies. There was nothing so vulgar as an electric bell at the Henri Dufor, but if you were more than ten minutes late to the dining room, you’d miss breakfast.
    ‘Six thirty, my lady,’ the maid announced, opening Elizabeth’s door a fraction.
    “Merci, Claudette,’ Elizabeth said, quickly swinging her
    bare feet out from under the eiderdown duvet before its cosy warmth could tempt her back to sleep. The beds were heavy, old-fashioned things carved from solid oak, ˘˘ith pretty Alpine flowers painted on the headboards, made up freshly each morning with crisp linen sheets. Elizabeth loved her bed and collapsed into it at night without a second thought. Yet it wasn’t difficult to get up
    in the mornings, she had so much to look forward to. ‘There’s been a new snowfall.’
    Penny Foster, her roommate and the only daughter of
    a property tycoon, was standing at the window looking up at the Alps. Saas-Fe was ringed with a massive horseshoe of mountains, great stretches of shadows and brilliant white velvet bisecting each other. Green pastures full of tiny flowers lay at their feet in the summer, and the chalet school was perched low down on one of these, east of the main village. Elizabeth padded across the polished wooden floor and craned her neck past the apple-green shutters. Penny was right: even in the dark of early
    morning she could see a fresh blanket of white covering the upper meadows.
    ‘Terrific!’ she grinned. ‘More skiing. I can do a run straight back to the village.’
    ‘Is that all you ever think about?’ Penny sniffed, pushing a lock of red-gold hair out of her eyes. Where Elizabeth had a strong, athletic body, Penny was slim and constantly worrying about her weight. She had a pair of the latest electric scales by her bed and weighed herself morning and night. She’d been taught to ski by the school instructors but preferred the ballroom dancing classes, as exercise made her even hungrier. Elizabeth thought Penny was neurotic. Penny resented Elizabeth’s energy and the way she ate mountains of food without ever getting plump, but she was also in awe of her roommate’s daring. Elizabeth Savage had a wild reputation, in school and the village as well; a natural on the slopes, within months she was taking on the local hotshots, Swiss boys who had started skiing when they started walking. Elizabeth ski’d with ferocious passion, ignoring all the school rules about forbidden areas. Saas-Fe had practically year-round snow, and even after the tourists departed, admiring locals noticed Elizabeth’s graceful young body in its snug lilac suit twist sharply down a mogul field or bomb down a black run, crouching into the trajectory like a brightly coloured bullet. Penny heard the other girls gossiping about Elizabeth’s nickname in the village, ‘Coup de Foudre’, the thunderbolt. She was sure it was no accident that the phrase also meant ‘love at first sight’.
    Six months of Switzerland had changed Elizabeth dramatically. Her curves had become high and tight, her legs powerful. Her glossy hair had grown longer and thicker and the mountain sun had highlighted it with rich streaks of gold, the colour of warm honey. Away from Tony’s constant disapproval, the sullen rebellion had’
    disappeared. There was a fresh flush to her complexion and a dancing light in her green eyes. Elizabeth would never be model-thin like Penny, but she didn’t seem to care. She practically glowed with health, and looking at her standing there in her white cotton nightgown, breathing in the cold morning air, Penny felt another stab of

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