Dawn waved to the guy at the front desk—she knew everyone who worked at the library this year—as she led her group of friends in to the library. He waved back, but didn’t ask what she and a whole group of friends were doing there on a Saturday night.
They trooped up to the study room on the second floor where the yearbooks were kept. Luckily midterms had just ended, so no one else was trying to use the room. Edie shut the door behind them.
Corrie stood in the middle of the room with her hands on her hips, surveying the yearbooks. “I guess we should split them up by years. With five of us, it shouldn’t take too long.”
“I don’t think they’re in order by year,” Annie said, kneeling down by one of the shelves. “They didn’t seem to be in any kind of order when I was looking through them.”
“Really?” Corrie pursed her lips and sighed. “I thought they were in order last year when I was looking through them for Vertiline Gravette, but maybe not. Or maybe the library workers just don’t do a very good job keeping them in order.” She turned and raised her eyebrows accusingly at Dawn.
Dawn couldn’t help smiling. “I can’t say that I’ve ever been told to come in here and make sure the yearbooks are in order. Maybe we can put them in order before we leave for the night.”
“Okay, I have a plan,” Roe said. She strode up to a shelf and pulled off several yearbooks at once. “Let’s get the yearbooks off shelves and each take one. When we’ve finished with the one we have, we can put it on the shelves in approximate order, and then get another. That way those of us who are faster readers“—she grinned at Edie—“can read more, and not get bored waiting for the rest of us.”
“Sounds good to me,” Dawn said. The five of them made quick work of getting the yearbooks off the shelves and piling them into stacks. Dawn took one off the top of a pile and retreated onto a beanbag to start paging through it.
She didn’t see any Alice Atkins, but she did see Professor Lal—and Derwen, a few pages later. She remembered Corrie finding both of them when she was looking for the names on the statues scattered around campus last year. That made her think. “If Alice Atkins was a Chatoyant College student,” she said, “then one of the faeries we know might have gone here at the same time as her. I don’t think the professors would like to be asked, but we could try Derwen, at least.”
“That’s a good idea,” Edie said. “I’ll ask her when I get a chance.”
“What about your aunt?” Corrie asked.
“If the ghost was already haunting Mary Thomas when she went here, then she could hardly have known Alice when she was alive.”
“Still, she could know something,” Annie said. “She might not even know she knows.”
“Yeah, I guess it’s worth talking to anyone we can think of who has gone to Chatoyant College in the past.” Dawn nodded. “I’ll ask her.”
She flipped back to the cover of her yearbook. It was from 1912; that seemed like a pretty good year to find a ghost who had evidently been haunting Chatoyant College for many years. That gave her another thought, and she looked up at her friends. “Actually, if Pru knew about the ghost, she had to be here before… I’m not actually sure what years Pru went here, but let’s say 1980 is too late. So if your yearbook is after that date, you’re definitely not going to find Alice Atkins there.”
“If Pru knew about the ghost but not about the death, Alice has to have died years before your aunt came to Chatoyant College,” Edie pointed out. She looked at the spine of her yearbook and got up to put it on the shelf. “We can probably discount everything before 1970, at least.”
Dawn nodded. “I can’t argue with that.”
“That cuts down on the pile a little,” Annie said, looking a little more cheerful. She looked at the yearbook she had. “This is 1959, so I guess there’s a chance.”
Dawn bent her head and started flipping through her yearbook. There was Professor Lal, and there, a few pages later, was Derwen. No sign of the name Alice Atkins, though there was an Alice Purcell. Some of the photos didn’t list all of the students in them, but there was no way to know whether any of those people might have been Alice Atkins.
She put her book toward the left end of the shelf and went for another one. It was 1992, so she put it at the far end of the shelf and got a third.
After some time of silence punctuated only by the swishing of pages turning, Corrie perked up. “I found an Atkins!”
“Not Alice?” Annie asked.
Corrie shook her head. “This is a guy. His name is Otis. But I wonder if he might be related to Alice.”
“That’s a thought,” Roe said. “We can ask her about Otis Atkins when we get another chance to talk to her.”
“What year is that?” Dawn asked.
“1965,” Corrie said. “So chances are good he’s still around. He’s graduating in this one, so he’d be in his sixties now, right? He’s probably still alive.”
“If we can’t talk to the ghost, we can at least try to get in touch with him,” Edie said. “The alumni association might have his information. If he is related to her, then he might know something about his relative who died here.”
Corrie nodded and jumped to her feet. “I’ll go photocopy this page.”
Annie let out a long sigh as Corrie left. Edie turned to her. “Getting frustrated?”
“I just don’t think we’re likely to find her if we haven’t found her yet,” Annie said. “Mary Thomas is a Victorian-era building. If Alice Atkins is as old as the building, I don’t think they even had yearbooks then.” She swallowed and looked up. “But I appreciate you guys helping me so much.”
“We’ll find something,” Edie said. “We’ll solve this. I promise.”