The mumps epidemic hit Pendragon Manor School when the summer term was almost over. According to the Upper Fifth it was a silly time to have an epidemic, because the summer term was quite good fun anyway and not so much in need of some excitement as, say, the Easter term, when all those exams were going on. Besides, the epidemic was making havoc of the inter-house tennis matches. As if that weren't bad enough, those girls still walking about began to get more and more nervous as the holidays approached.
"Much as I dote on Pendragon," said Fiona Auchenvole morosely one day at tea-time in the Seniors' sitting-room of Manor House, "it's not my idea of where to spend a happy holiday."
"Oh, I don't know," said Isobel, "you might do worse. Lots of people come to Pendragon Haven for holidays. You might have been at a school in the middle of - in the middle of Liverpool, instead of on the coast of Cornwall."
"Bella, my pet," said Katherine Morton, "if you want to preserve our beautiful friendship, I'd advise you not to be so smug. Just because you had mumps as a child and will be setting off for your holidays in a week, you needn't think you can come pointing out the bright side to us."
Isobel was instantly apologetic. "Oh, Katherine, I'm not," she said. "Besides, I'm sure they'll let you go home, even if you are in quarantine."
"Oh, gracious yes," said Fiona, "I expect so. They've written to the parents about it. Mumps isn't one of the dangerous diseases after all...."
But at the end of the week, when the school officially broke up and all those who had had mumps had gone home, Fiona and Katherine, alone of Manor House, were still there.
From THE MOOCHERS ABROAD, Chapter 1, Three Letters.