4

They had only been in the attic for a half hour, and Stella had already taken an immense liking to Lady Lorraine. By the pleased looks on her friends' faces, she guessed that they had, too. Lady Lorraine was every bit of an extremely clever child.

The nine of them crowded around the stove, warming their chilly hands, and discussed how best to create a choir and orchestra right under the nuns' noses. "Everyone who does some sort of singing or instrument can join," Crystalline declared right at the start.

Carissa wrinkled her nose. "Except for Elise and Carolina and Hillary and all those popular girls. They'll rat us out to the nuns for sure."

Indiana Opal nodded. "Agreed."

Stella scribbled furiously on a sheet of paper. "Okay," she started, "so the plan is to hold a courtyard assembly on the nuns' shopping day, when Lady Lorraine and Madame Melanie are in charge. They're good guys. Carmella and Carissa cause a 'major makeup emergency' on Tiffany Bloomers, to distract the popular girls. We then read the plan to them, which is that all members of choir and orchestra to gather in the overgrown rose gardens next Saturday. In the rose gardens, we eight then explain that we are in charge of a new choir and orchestra. Carissa, Adele, Melancholy and I will be in charge of orchestra, and Lisa, Crystalline, Indiana and Carmella will be in charge of choir. Okay, so Carissa, Adele, Melancholy and I will talk to the orchestra about bringing their instruments and the music they were working on before the nuns cut C and O off. We'll talk about sneaking chairs and stands to the rose gardens. We'll go over what they need to bring next Saturday. They'll talk about seating arrangements and such." Stella paused, and then plowed on.

"Okay, so meanwhile, in choir, they'll talk about bringing the music we were working on before C and O were cut, and the placing. They'll explain the whole in-charge-peoples situation. After both meetings, the orchestra and choir will meet together again and we'll explain schedules and tips to keep the nuns off our heels." Stella took a deep breath and grinned in satisfaction. "Lady Lorraine, you are a genius."

Lady Lorraine winked. "Always glad to help, dear."

Carmella sucked on the hard candy Lady Lorraine had passed out. "And her Beauregard Bittersweets are heaven," she said contently.

Stella laughed as she sucked on her own Beauregard Bittersweet. Fifteen minutes after they had settled down and got out supplies, Lady Lorraine had bustled over to the cabinets and had taken out a big jar of Beauregard Bittersweets, the source of the Beauregard family fortune. It was an amber hard candy that tasted tangy and sweet, with a tiny bit of bitterness. It had the distinct taste of strawberry and melon.

Carissa crunched on her Beauregard Bittersweet and smiled at the plan. "We're armed and loaded," she said happily.

"Mission One, success," Crystalline laughed as she and the other seven watched the stragglers of the choir-and-orchestra meeting fade away.

Stella smiled. "You know, I have a feeling that this is actually going to work."

Carissa glanced over the crumpled plan paper. "We went over everything," she declared, satisfied. "We left nothing out."

"Oomph," Carmella grunted. "Uh, a little help with the chairs?"

The members of choir and orchestra had showed up at the entrance to the deserted old rose garden. Indiana Opal had guided them to the big clearing, and Stella split choir and orchestra up. She stationed orchestra in the big clearing and choir in the little one. In their own individual secluded practice areas, the girls had explained the whole plan to the orchestra and choir. After the set one hour, the choir had headed back to the big clearing, the girls had gone over a few details, and it was over.

As Stella headed over to the chairs that the orchestra had sat on, she said thoughtfully, "You know, we should go to Lady Lorraine's and tell her how it went. We'll definitely need more help from her."

"Yeah, you're right," Lisa agreed as she added another folded chair to the pile. She paused, her face scrunched in concentration. Then her face lit up and she exclaimed, "Oh! I remember! Hey Stella, remember Artemis Clearwater?"

Stella nodded. "Of course. How could I not?"

Lisa grinned. "Madame Melanie told me this morning that she's finally getting better. We can go visit her!"

Stella's eyes brightened. "We can go visit Artemis?"

Lisa nodded. "Yeah!" She looked around and bit her lip. "Er…after we put the chairs away."

"Oh, go ahead," said Carmella. "We can put these away."

Stella smiled hopefully. "Are you sure?"

"Go, shoo," Carissa urged. "And expect us there after we clean up."

Stella and Lisa dashed out of the rose garden and into St. Celia's. They raced up the steps and down to the small hallway. It was a strange one, to be entered by a door in the normal hallway that was slightly bigger than the others. Stella pushed open the door and they ran down the small hall and stopped at the sick room.

Lisa smiled breathlessly at Stella and tentatively pushed the door open. They slipped through and looked around nervously.

The beds were empty except for one bed with the curtains drawn. Madame Melanie, the young nurse, bustled around the room, making the empty beds and sweeping the dusty floor. Stella had been in the sick room only once, before Artemis fell ill, and it had been shadowy and dusty and depressing. Now, since Madame Melanie was in charge, sunlight streamed from the windows and there was hardly any dust at all.

Madame Melanie looked up and smiled cheerfully at the sight of Stella and Lisa. "Hello, dearies," she greeted them. She pointed to the curtained four-poster bed. "Artemis is in there. Go ahead."

Stella and Lisa exchanged looks before hesitatingly pulling open the curtains. Laying in the bed, swathed by sheets, was a tall, skinny girl, with stringy red hair and half-shut eyes. She was sickly and limp and deathly pale, but the bright smile she gave them was unmistakable. "Artemis!" Lisa and Stella cried happily.

"Stella! Lisa!" Artemis exclaimed, incredulous. "I haven't seen you for ages!" She pushed herself up and her eyes were bright and wide.

Stella and Lisa sat on Artemis' bed, one on each side. "How have you been feeling?" Lisa asked anxiously.

Artemis chuckled. "Oh, wonderful, I guess." She eyed them. "What have you guys been up to? You know, Adele and Carissa and the others?"

Stella and Lisa smirked at each other. "What have we been up to? Why, why would you think we have been up to anything?" Stella inquired innocently.

Artemis rolled her green eyes. "Oh, don't give me that rubbish. I taught you too well for you to stay out of trouble. Now, what mischief have you guys been causing these days?"

Stella gave a mock reluctant sigh and said, "Well, fine, if you insist." Then she and Lisa eagerly gushed about the evilness of Sister Augusta and her cutting off choir and orchestra. They vividly described Stella's speech and their plan and their visit to Lady Lorraine. Then, in great detail, came the description of the choir and orchestra meeting.

Artemis eyed them with a mixture of admiration and amusement. "Whoo, doggy," she laughed. "Boy, have you guys been up to something."

"We had to do something," Lisa exclaimed passionately. "We couldn't let that wicked hag get away with cutting off probably the only good thing about St. Celia's."

"Too true, too true," Artemis agreed.

At that moment, the other six Weirdly Named Rebels burst into the sick room, startling Stella, Lisa, Madame Melanie and Artemis. "Artemis! Artemis!" they yelled breathlessly.

Artemis laughed as the girls bounced onto her bed, and all was happy chatter amidst chaos. Madame Melanie bustled around the bed, laughing and shaking her head. "Now, now, girls, you must not overexert Artemis. Keep in mind she's only just recovering and is still ill. Besides, I'm afraid you have to leave soon; Artemis needs her meal and medicine, and some rest."

Artemis sighed dramatically. "Oh, Melanie, please, please may they stay? I haven't seen any of them for four whole months. Can't they stay for lunch?"

Madame Melanie pursed her lips doubtfully.

"Please?" Carmella pleaded.

"Oh, please, Madame Melanie," Indiana Opal implored.

Madame Melanie threw her hands up in defeat. "Oh, alright. You win." She headed for the door. "But you must finish the fried broccoli and the sweet potatoes. And keep Sister Augusta away."

"Of course, Madame Melanie!" the girls chimed, delighted. They settled comfortably on the bed, surrounding Artemis.

Artemis laughed and snuggled into her sheets and pillows. "Alright," she said demandingly, "tell me about Lady Lorraine, Beauregard Bittersweets, and the Weirdly Named Rebels' Choir and Orchestra."

Of course, the eight girls were more than happy to oblige.

April 1

I'm sorry I haven't written in so long. I've done so much, and I have so much to tell you.

The truth is Sister Augusta did cut choir and orchestra. But Lisa, Carmella, Carissa, Adele, Indiana Opal, Crystalline, Melancholy and I have STARTED OUR OWN CHOIR AND ORCHESTRA. Yes, I know. Exciting. Daring. Right under the nuns' noses! They don't know ANYTHING about it, Mother's Diary.

And you know who helped us with our plans? LADY LORRAINE. Uh-huh. That's right. THE Lady Lorraine Beauregard, inheritor of the Beauregard Bittersweet Hard Candies, most respected, clever, and crazy woman in the history of history. She's wonderful. She's amazingly childlike, and understands exactly what we feel. Mm…maybe I'll visit her again today.

And guess what? Madame Melanie Smith is the new nurse until Madame Pansy comes back. And Madame Melanie has worked her magic on Artemis! She's getting better! We visited her. Oh yes, and the rest of the girls have taken to my group name, the Weirdly Named Rebels. That's what we're secretly called now, along with the Anti-Nuns Group and The Brave Peoples. The popular preps don't know a thing about it, either, because they're on the nuns' side.

This whole business is so exciting. We're having our first musical rehearsal soon. Carmella and Lisa and Crystalline and Indy all say that choir is gong excellent. Orchestra has not yet done any music-playing in our secret rose garden, so I'm hesitant to say.

Mm…this whole thing is like a daring adventure. I…wish…I wish my mother was still…here. Lynna would definitely approve of our schemes. Now that I think about it, Lynna was a lot like Lady Lorraine. Her hair and eye color are different, but the shape of her face and her personality is a lot like Lady Lorraine's.

Okay, another daring feat of the Weirdly Named Rebels. Yesterday, Melancholy was feeling rebellious and devilish, so she mixed together glue with honey and smeared it all over Wicked Witch of the West's seat. Oh, you should have seen the look on Triple W's face. It was contorted into anger and embarrassment. It looked like a boiling beet. Oh, it was so funny. Carmella's milk squirted out of her nose, and Indy and Carissa were looking at Melancholy, who had a huge smile on, with utmost admiration.

This entry was sure exciting. I'll try to do more things to amuse you.

I wish Annalynne were here.

Ciao for now,

Stella Montescot

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Whoo! Chapter four down. Tell me how it went.

Thanks to Qzie and any other people who decide to read and review!

Bare with me; the story's wording will get more...modern.

Have fun in life, laugh out loud and chat later!