The Fledgling by Elizabeth Cadell
Hodder & Stoughton Ltd (March 1, 1975)
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At Edmund Brooke’s insistence, his ten-year-old daughter, Vitorina, leaves the closed world of her old and strait-laced great-aunts and their Portuguese mansion—complete with chapel—and journeys to a boarding school in England. Edmund readily accepts the offer of a golfing acquaintance to act as chaperone for Tory. Once on the train, however, Tory learns quite a bit more about Mr. Darlan, her traveling companion, than he would prefer. And so Tory is called upon to let down her facade of meekness and to reveal her real nature: she is shrewd, imaginative and—as the situation calls for—brave. She is determined to outmaneuver this malicious mastermind, Darlan, and his French female accomplice who poses as his sister. She reaches London without her companion. But as planned, Tory is met by her father’s delightful distant cousin and ex-fiancée, Philippa. Immediately drawn to Philippa, Tory goes so far as to fake chicken pox in order to stay longer with Philippa. This gives her time to settle some loose ends involving Mr. Darlan’s plot and to create one of her own: for wasn’t Tory’s father Philippa’s great love and isn’t he all alone now?