The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson Read Online (FREE)
Read The Vanishing Stair (Truly Devious Series #2) by Maureen Johnson online free here.
April 13, 1936, 9:00 p.m.
“HAS ANYONE SEEN DOTTIE?” MISS NELSON ASKED.
Miss Nelson, the housemistress of Minerva, looked around for an answer to her question. Though it was spring, it was still cold up on the mountain, and the residents of Minerva House were gathered close to the common room fireplace.
“Maybe she’s with the nurse,” Gertie van Coevorden said. “Hopefully they’ll do something about her sniffing. She’s going to make us all sick. It’s disgusting. I’m going to be seeing the Astors soon. I can’t get sick.”
Gertie van Coevorden was probably the richest student at Ellingham; she had two Astors and a Roosevelt in her family tree, a fact that she managed to work into conversation at every possible opportunity.
“Gertrude,” Miss Nelson said admonishingly.
“No, but really,” Gertie said. “Now that she’s not here, we can say it. She does have the most awful sniff, and she runs her nose along her sleeve. I know we’re not supposed to treat them any differently. . . .”
Them meant the poor students, the ten or eleven scrappy people who Albert Ellingham had collected as part of his little game. Mix the rich and the poor.
“Then do not do so,” Miss Nelson said.
“Oh, I know she’s bright . . .”
An understatement. Dottie Epstein could run rings around the average professor.
“. . . but, it is awful. I’m merely saying . . .”
“Gertrude,” Miss Nelson said, sounding tired, “that really is enough.”
Gertie turned up her nose and shifted her attention to the issue of Photoplay magazine she was reading. From the opposite side of the fire, Francis Josephine Crane, the second-richest student at Ellingham Academy, looked up from where she sat. She had made a nest for herself with her chinchilla lap rug and was shifting between a chemistry book and the newest edition of True Detective magazine. And she was watching everything.
Francis, like Gertie, was from New York. She was the sixteen-year-old daughter of Louis and Albertine Crane, of Crane Flour. (America’s favorite! Baking’s never a pain when you’re baking with Crane!) Her parents were fast friends with Albert Ellingham, and when Ellingham opened a school and needed some new pupils, Francis was sent off to Vermont in a chauffeured car, with a van of trunks following that contained every possible luxury. Up here in Vermont, with the snowstorms and the comfortable ratio of obscenely rich and deserving poor, Francis was a settled matter, as far as her parents were concerned. Francis, for her part, was not settled; her opinion on the matter was not required.
Francis, who made it a point to speak to the servants, knew that while Gertie may have been connected in name to Astors and Roosevelts, she was in fact the biological daughter of a handsome barman at the Central Park Casino. The casino was where many of New York’s rich and bored society women liked to spend their afternoons sipping drinks . . . and apparently doing other things. Neither Gertie, nor Gertie’s father, knew this. It was a nice little piece of information Francis kept tucked away in her pocket for the right time.