The girls were woken up by the screaming. They knew they had to get up and investigate, but then it was so very cold!

It had been raining all night and the girls could get no sleep. Their dormitory was cold and even though the windows were shut a chill wind seemed to have crept in. They shivered under their blankets which seemed to have gone cold too.

Suddenly the cold night air was rent with piercing screams. They didn't want to rush out for the cold, but the girls knew they had to do something. They lay in bed and waited for Mona to take the lead. She always did. But then even after a couple of minutes there was no sign of Mona. Slowly, the girls lifted their heads of their pillows and looked around. Mona's bed was empty. So was Urmila's and Shanta's and Priscilla.

The girls decided they had to do something, so very reluctantly they got out of bed and crept down the wooden corridor to the sound of the screams. It led them to matron's room. The screams were almost a whimper now.

Slowly they opened the door. They were surprised to find matron crouched in the corner of her bed and shivering. They managed to cover her up with the blankets, and one of the girls even made her a cup of hot chocolate on the heater she had in her room and soon she was her usual self.

What she told them took them all by surprise. They knew her to be a sour woman, who was always sarcastic and who never had a smile on her face. But tonight, she seemed grateful that the girls were around her and very happy with her cup of hot chocolate.

“I had such a bad dream,” she said. “Actually, I don't know if it was a dream at all. It was all so real. I saw my life flash past me… I saw my past my present and my future!” she managed to mumble.

Sarah who was sitting next to matron on the bed suddenly had a flash of memory. She remembered seeing Mona and the other three huddled in a corner giggling away at something. She glanced at her friend Prema. She too seemed to have had a similar revelation. Looking around she found that the others too had cottoned on to the trick.

“Ma'am, like Uncle Scrooge?” asked Prema. They had studied Dickens' Christmas Carol recently.

It was some time before they could all get back to their dorm. When they got back they found the four missing girls. They were frantically trying to get make up off their faces. In their enthusiasm to get their faces right they had also used some paint. And now the paint had stuck fast on their faces.

The next day, it was fun to see Mona, Shanta, Urmila and Priscilla with red foreheads and blackened faces!

When they went back to the dorm that evening they found that there was a little gift on their beds and an invitation to tea from the matron.

“It's Christmas after all.” Read the card. “Let's rejoice in the love and goodwill that the season brings.”