Study Guide

A Great and Terrible Beauty Chapter 17

By Libba Bray

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Chapter 17

  • Mrs. Nightwing wants to change the subject to something more pleasant and boring, but the girls press her and she tells them the girls died in the East Wing late one night and that it probably caught on fire from their candle. 
  • Mrs. Spence died in the fire trying to save them—the door was stuck shut and Mrs. Nightwing couldn't help them.
  • Without thinking, Ann asks if the girls were involved with supernatural things, which enrages Gemma, and Mrs. Nightwing is put on alert, asking where she heard such rumors, but no one dishes the dirt, so the headmistress goes off to bed.
  • But Brigid is sneaking around in the background, all fidgety.
  • Felicity bites Ann's head off for her question and Ann is confused about why they are keeping the diary a secret—Felicity tells her it's so they don't lose the book.
  • Brigid comes near and they ask her what is making her so skittish, and she says it is because they were talking about the girls in the fire. She remembers them… and they weren't great.
  • But Brigid takes all she can get from the girls in exchange for her story, and she puts her feet up and the girls get her tea as she tells them that she overheard the girls talking one day. 
  • Sarah told Mary the only way they could be together was to sacrifice something, but Mary didn't want to because it would be murder.
  • Sarah heard Brigid at the door though, and she threatened her with a voodoo doll, saying that she'd hurt her if she told on them, so Brigid ran away fast.
  • Brigid tells the girls that she knows about their visits to see Mother Elena—and she notices Ann nudging Gemma, so she adds that the Gypsy woman is crazy and that if she ever finds out that they're up to no good with her, she'll drag them to the church and leave them there for a week.
  • Quickly, Brigid also mentions how Mary and Sarah used fancy names for themselves too, but she can't remember what Sarah made her call her.
  • After the informational session, the three girls go talk in the empty Great Hall, where they wonder if the diary is true. Felicity asserts that they should all go see Mother Elena tonight.

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