The big day has arrived, and Anna is understandably nervous. As she doesn’t want the others – especially Sheila – to suspect anything, she tries to act normal.
“[Anna] had gone to Female Bathroom 2 to retrieve her journal, which was now burning a hole in her left overall pocket.”
Mere pages ago, Anna didn’t take the journal with her because she didn’t want someone to spot it, but now it’s okay? It’s like it was only left in the bathroom those extra few hours so Sheila could find it.
Anna also manages to somehow make an extra cornish pasty without being noticed, and slip it in her pocket to give to Peter later. These must be some capacious pockets, if they can fit journals and pasties in without anyone seeing them. Also, given that Sheila for one is probably watching her closely at this point, how is Anna managing to do this? I get that the teachers might not be looking, since Anna is usually so obedient, but the last chapter specifically went to the trouble of establishing Sheila as a threat.
Anna then segues into worrying about all the myths of Surpluses who tried to escape and were punished for it, and the stories are clearly so exaggerated that they can’t have more than a grain of truth to them.
In order to escape, Anna needs to get herself sent to Solitary, and she decides to do so by making a fuss in her science lesson. Since we need some backstory, the teacher lectures some more about Longevity.
“Longevity drugs contained a hormone called thyroxine.”
Is this supposed to be the active ingredient? Too much thyroid hormone is not a good thing, so I can’t imagine it’s the key to immortality.
Anna picks this moment to ask her questions, and soon annoys the teacher by suggesting that Surpluses have more right to live than Legals, since in the usual run of things older generations would die and be replaced. He’s about to drag her to Solitary when Evil Mrs Pincent shows up and derails the whole thing by sending her off to scrub nappies under constant supervision instead. Oh no! Jeopardy!
Then it’s time for another patented perspective shift as we catch up with the machinations of Evil Mrs Pincent (she’s evil, you know). She’s angry that Peter has managed to corrupt Anna, but happy that she’ll be getting rid of him soon.
“The boy would cease to be a problem. In fact, he would cease to be at all.”
Yeah, this book isn’t big on subtlety.
Meanwhile, Anna is busy scrubbing nappies down on the infants floor, a place the older children don’t usually visit. Anna is surrounded by traumatised toddlers and sinks full of soiled nappies, but her mind is, of course, on Peter.
“She wanted Peter, she realised. Wanted to feel the excitement that fluttered through her whenever she even thought of his name.”
Anna’s falling for Peter. Quelle surprise.
Spoiler alert: Peter takes over the role of protagonist for the next two books in the series, whilst Anna stays at home to look after younger members of the family. So enjoy it while it lasts, Anna, because traditional archaic female roles are waiting for you.
One of the maids happens to mention that Mrs Pincent is in London, so Anna has another go at being defiant. It works, and after getting knocked unconscious, she’s dragged off to Solitary. Let’s hope that she didn’t suffer any brain damage, eh?