Constance smiles at Marise from the doorway. "I know I always think it will be different this time," she says, "but this time I'm right."

"You go Girls School girl!" Marise's farewell blessing draws Constance's smile.

Babe climbs the right wing stairs, moving quickly. Posted on the door to the third floor hall are the results of yesterday's soap and water wrestling match between the Gaieties and the Delights, vicious intramural rivals who compete for a night's possession of one another's girlfriends. It is an open secret that all the girlfriends always want the other team to win. Babe has never played on either side. But some five years ago Constance, in some kind of fit, had taken up with one of the Gaieties. The fling--brief--ended and Constance, mollified by Babe's faithful attendance at her bedside in Stella Brown, where deep internal bruising sustained at a victory orgy for the Delights had confined her, forgave Babe whatever it was she'd done in the first place--Babe was never really sure. Babe dislikes conflict. She ascends through the exotic cooking odors wafting from the fourth floor hall with trepidation. For the Brazilian girls who live there she has become the object of some sort of craze: they watch for her, they chase her about at all hours, shrieking her name in tones of unbelievably lascivious nasality; with their eye-rolling, teeth-flashing grimaces and their grinding noisiness they seem to Babe like enormous locusts, and indeed they plague her. She is deeply relieved to attain the fifth floor today without incident.



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