Emily lingered in the doorway, watching the crowd surge past. The clamour of their footsteps sounded like a language from a strange world. She saw an old woman fall. No one helped her up. Emily shuddered and shut the door. Her legs shook. She leaned against the wall to steady herself. She remembered as a child, pretending to her friends she knew foreign languages. She had turned the pages of German books and read them stories which weren’t there. She startled. She ran back to the hall and scrambled for a piece of paper. She wrote:
We need to forget words. Then she won’t be able to harm us.
She gave the paper scrap to Jane and watched her pass it round. One of the girls let it fall on the floor.
“How?” someone whispered. Emily looked round. She didn’t know who’d spoken.
Jane took a group to gather up all the books in the school. They emptied shelves and cupboards. One of the girls scratched the woman who tried to take her book. Emily looked away as the woman slapped her. She helped them carry the books into the street. When they were finished, she pressed her face to the window and looked at the piles of books until night smothered her sight. Then she hugged her arms and drifted into the main hall. The women and girls sat in groups. The silence was brittle. She tried not to think of the abandoned books. Jane moved to her side and handed her a piece of paper. Emily read:
Our Lady must need words. Maybe someone who has none could stop her?
Later, as Emily huddled in her bed, she tried to dull the words inside her. She heard footsteps and peered into the blackness. The dormitory smelled of scrubbed fire places. She thought she saw people moving. When she slept, she dreamed of hedgerows and kestrels.
In the morning, she saw four more empty beds. Beth and three of the girls had left in the night.
“Everyone will go to her in the end,” hissed a thin girl, as they walked to the main hall. Emily felt the air tighten.
If Emily decides to leave London and try to get to the country side go to Chapter Fourteen
If Emily stays and tries to help Jane with her plan go to Chapter Fifteen