Last Term at Malory TowersEnid Blyton
Malory Towers - 06
Last Term at Malory Towers
My last term! thought Darrell, as she got ready to go downstairs. My very last term! I shall be eighteen on my next birthday - I'm almost grown-up!
A yell came from below, 'Darrell! Aren't you ever coining? Daddy says do you mean to leave today or tomorrow?'
'Coming!' shouted back Darrell. She snatched up her minis-racket and her small suitcase and fled down the stairs, two at a time as usual.
Her young sister Felicity was there, waiting for her. Both were dressed in the orange and brown uniform of Malory Towers - dark brown coat and skirt, white blouse, orange tie, straw hat with orange band.
'It's the very last time I shall go off with you in the same uniform,' said Darrell, rather solemnly. 'Next term you'll be going alone, Felicity. How will you like it?'
'Not a bit,' said Felicity, quite cheerfully. 'Still, you'll be having a wonderful time yourself, going off to the University. Don't look so solemn.'
'Last times are always a bit horrid,' said Darrell. She went out to the car with Felicity. Their father was just about to begin a fanfare on the horn. Why, oh why was be always kept waiting like this? Didn't they know it was time to start?
'Thank goodness you've appeared at last,' he said. 'Get in. Now, where's your mother? Honestly, this family uants a daily shepherd to round up all its sheep! Ah, 1 i*'rc >I]c o iiiit's!
As Mrs Rivers got into the tar, Felicity slipped out again. Her lather didn't notice her, and started up the car. Darrell gave a shriek.
'Daddv, Daddy! Wail! Felicity's not in!'
He looked round in astonishment. 'But I saw her gel in,' he said. 'Bless us all, where she gone now?'
'She forgot to say good-bye to the kitten. 1 expect,' said Darrell, grinning. 'She has to say good-bye to everything, even the goldfish in the pond. I used to do that too - but I never wept over them all like Felicity!'
Felicity appeared again at top speed. She flung herself into the car, panting. 'Forgot to say good-bye to the gardener,' she said. 'He promised to look after my seedlings for me, and count how many strawberries come on my strawberry plants. Oh dear - it's so horrid to say good-bye to everything.'
'Weil, don't then, said Dane!!.
'Oh, but 1 like to,' said Felicity. 'Once I've done a really good round of good-byes, I feci that I can look forward to school properly then. I say - I wonder if that awful Josephine is coming back! She kept saying some¬thing about going to America with those frightful people of hers, so I hope she has.'
'I hope she has lot).' said Darrell, remembering the loud-voiced, bad-mannered Josephine Jones. 'She doesn't fit into Malory Towers somehow. 1 can't imagine why the Head took her.'
'Well - I suppose she thought Malory Towers might tone her down and make something of her,' said Felicity, 'it's not many people it doesn't alter for the better, really. Even me!'
Gosh - has it done that?' said Darrell. pretending to be surprised. Tin glad to know it. Oh dear - I wish it wasn't my last term. It seems no time at all since I was iirst setting out, six veais ago, a little shrimp of twelve.'
'There YOU <>O ana in - cominu over all mournful,' said
Felicity, cheerfully. T can't think why you don't feel proud and happy - you've been games captain of one or two forms, you've been head-girl of forms - and now you're head-girl of the whole school, and have been lor two terms! I shall never be that.'
'I hope you will,' said Darrell. 'Anyway, I'm glad Sally and I are leaving together and going to the same college. We shall still be with each other. Daddy, don't lorge! we're calling for Sally, will you?'
'I hadn't forgotten,' said her lather. He took the road that led to Sally Hope's home. Soon they were swinging into the drive, and there, on the front steps, were Sally and her small sister of about six or seven.
'Hallo, Darrell, hallo, Felicity!' called Sally. 'I'm quite ready. Mother, where are yon? Here are the Riverses.'
Sally's small sister called out loudly: 'I'm coming to Malory Towers one day ~ in six years' time.'
'Lucky you, Daffy!' called back Felicity. 'It's the best school in the world!'
Sally got in and squeezed herself between Felicity and Darrell. She waved good-bye and off they went again.
'It's the last time, Darrell!' she said. T wish it was the first!'
'Oh, don't you start now,' said Felicity. 'Darrell's been glooming all the journey, so far.'
No cheek from you, Felicity Rivers!' said Sally, with a grin. 'You're only a silly little second-former, remember!'
'I'll be in the third form next term,' said Felicity. 'I'm creeping Lip the school! It takes a long time, though.'
'it seems a long time while it's happening,' said Sally.
But now it's our last term, it all seems to have gone in a Hash.'
They talked without stopping the whole of the lourney, and then, as lliey drew near to Malory Towers, Sally and Darrell fell silent. They always loved the first glimpse of their lovely school, with its lour great towers,
one at each corner.
They rounded a bend, and the eyes ol all three fastened on a big square building ol solt grey stone standing high up on a dill that fell steeply down to the sea. At each corner of the building stood rounded towers - North Tower, East, West and South. The school looked like an old castle. Beyond it was the dark-blue Cornish sea.
'We're nearly there!' sang Felicity. 'Daddy, go faster! Catch up the car in front, t'm sure Susan is in it.'
Just then a car roared by them, overtaking not only them but the one in front too. Mr Rivers braked sharply as it passed him, almost forcing him into the hedge.
'That's Josephine's car!' called Felicity. 'Did you ever see such a monster?'
'Monster is just about the right word,' said her luthei, angrily. 'Forcing me into the side like that. What do they think they are doing, driving as fast as that in a country lane?'
'Oh, they always drive like that,' said Felicity. 'Jo's father can't bear driving under ninety miles an hour, he says. He's got four cars, Daddy, all as big as that.'
'He can keep them, then,' grunted her father, scarlet with anger. He had just the same quick temper as Darrell's. 'I'll have a word with him about his driving if I see him at the school. A real road-hog!'
Felicity gave a squeal of delight. 'Oh, Daddy, you've hit on just the right name. He's exactly like a hog to look at - awfully fat, with little piggy eyes. Jo is just like him.'
'Then I hope she's no friend of yours,' said her father.
'She's not,' said Felicity. 'Susan's my friend. Here we are! Here's the gate. There's June! And Julie and Pam. Pam, PAM!'
'You'll deafen me,' said Mrs Rivers, laughing. She turned to her husband. 'You won't be able to get near the steps up to the iront door todav. dear - there are too many cars, and the school coaches have brought up the train girls too.'
The big drive was certainly crowded. 'It's as noisy as a football crowd,' said Mr Rivers with his sudden smile. 'It always amazes me that girls can make so much noise!'
Darrell, Felicity and Sally jumped out, clutching their rackets and bags. They were immediately engulfed in a crowd of excited girls.
'Darrell! You never wrote to me!'
'Felicity, have you seen Julie? She's been allowed to bring back her pony, Jack Horner! He's wizard!'
'Hallo, Sally! How tanned you are!'
'There's Alicia! Alicia, ALICIA! Betty! I say, everyone's arriving at once.'
A loud-voiced man, followed by a much overdressed woman, came pushing through the crowd, making his way to the enormous American car thai had forced Mr Rivers into the hedge.
; 'Well, good-bye, Jo,' he was saying. 'Mind you're bottom of the form. I always was! And don't you stand any nonsense from the mistresses, ha ha! You do what you like and have a good time.'
Darrell and Sally looked at one another in disgust. No wonder Jo was so awful it that was the way her father talked to her. And what a voice!
Jo Jones's father was obviously very pleased with himself indeed. He grinned round at the seething girls, threw out his chest, and clapped his fat little daughter on the back.
'Well, so long, Jo! And if you want any extra lood, just let us know.'
He caught sight of Mr Rivers looking at him, and he nodded and smiled. 'You got a girl here too?' he enquired, jovially.
'1 have two,' said Mr Rivers, in his clear confident voice. 'But let me tell you this, Mr Jones - il I hadn't swung quickly into the hedge just now, when you cut in on tlicit narrow lane, 1 might have had no daughters at all. Disgraceful driving!'
Mr Jones was startled ami taken aback. He glanced quickly round to see ii anyone had heard. He saw that quite a lot ol girls were listening and, after one look at Mr Rivers's unsmiling lace, he decided not to say a word more.
'Good for you. Daddy, good for you!' said Felicity, who was nearby. '1 bet nobody ever ticks him oil - and now von have! Jo's just like him. Look, there she is.'
Jo scowled back at Felicity and Mr Rivers. She hadn't heard what Felicity said about her, ol course, hut she had beard Felicity's lather ticking off her own, and she didn't like it a bit. Never mind - she would take it out of Felicity this term, il she could.
"VVc must go, darlings,' said Mrs Rivers, leaning out of the car. 'Have you got everything? Good-bye, Darrell dear - and Felicity. Good-bye, Sally. Have a good term! The summer term is always the nicest ot all!'
The car sped away. Felicity plunged into the milling crowd and was lost. Sally and Darrell went more sedately, as befitted two sixth-formers.
'It's nice to be at the top,' said Darrell. 'But I can't help envying those yelling, screaming lower-form kids. Just look at them. What a crowd!'
Darrell and Sally went up the steps, and into the big hall. Let's go up to our study,' said Darrell. 'We can dump our things there and have a look round.'
They went up to the small, cosy room they shared between them. The sixth-formers were allowed to have these studies, one to every two girls, and both Sally and Darrell loved their small room.
They bad put down a bright rug that Mrs Rivers had given them, and each had a favourite picture on the walls. There were some old cushions provided by both mothers, and a lew ornaments on the mantelpiece - mostly china or wooden horses and dogs.
'I wonder who'll have this room next term,' said Darrell, going to the window and looking out. 'It's one of ;lie nicest.'
'Quite the nicest,' said Sally, sinking down into one of the small armchairs. T suppose one of the fifth-formers will have it. Lucky things!'
The sixth-formers had a common-room of their own, is well as studies. In the common-room was a radio, of · oursc, a library, and various cupboards and shelves lor the use of the girls. It looked out over the sea and was lull of air and light and sun. The girls loved it.
Better go down and report to Matron,' said Darrell, when they had unpacked their night-bags, and set out two clocks, three or four new ornaments, and Darrell had put a little table-cloth into a drawer, which she had rongbi back to use Unit ierm. It would look nice if ihry
gave a tea-party, as they often did!
'Got your health certificate?' asked Sally. 'I wonder if Irene has got tiers. She has remembered it taithfullv for the last three or four terms. I'd love her to lorget it just this last time.'
Darrell laughed. Irene's health certificate was a standing joke in the school. 'I've got Felicity's certificate with mine,' she said. I'd better give it to her. Come on, let's go down.'
They went down and found Matron, who was standing in the middle of a mob of girls. They were handing out health certificates to her and, in the ease1 ol the lower-formers, handing over their term's pocket- money too.
A voice greeted Darrell and Sally. 'Hallo! Here we are again!'
Irene!' said Darrell and Sally ai once. Irene grinned at them. She looked very little different from when Darrell had seen her the first time, six years back - older and taller, but still the same old untidy scatter-brain. But her looks belied her. Irene was a genius at music and brilliant at maths - it was only in ordinary things that she was a feather-head.
'Irene!' called Matron, who had been in despair over the girl's health certificate almost every term. 'Am I to isolate you this term, because you've forgotten your certificate again - or have you condescended to remember it?'
'Here you are, Matron!' said Irene, and handed an envelope to her. She winked at Darrell and Sally. Matron opened it. Out fell a photograph of Irene in a swimming- cost nine!
'Irene! This is a photograph!' said Matron, annoyed.
'Oh, sorry. Matron. Wrong envelope,' said Irene, and handed hei another. Matron tore it open, ant] glared at Irene.
'Is this a joke? This is a dog's licence!'
'Gosh!' said Irene. 'So that's where old Rover's licence went! Sorry, Matron. This must he the right envelope!'
Everyone was giggling. Alicia had now joined the mob round Matron, her bright eyes enjoying the joke. Matron opened the third envelope. She began to laugh.
It was a cleverly drawn picture of herself scolding Irene for forgetting her health certificate. Belinda, Irene's friend, had drawn it, and the two of them had pushed it into the third envelope for a joke.
T shall keep this as a memento of you, Irene,' said Matron. Tt shall be pinned up in my room as a warning to all girls who have bad memories. And now - what about the real thing, please?'
The 'real thing' was produced at last, and Matron pronounced herself satisfied T suppose you had to keep up the tradition of losing your certificate lor the last time,' she smiled. 'Now, June, where's yours - and you, Jo?'
Felicity came up and Darrell gave her her certificate to hand in. Then she went off with Alicia and Sally to see who was back.
T bet that's Bill!' said Darrell, suddenly, as she caught the sound of horses' hooves up the drive. T wonder how many brothers are with her this time!'
Wilhelmina, Bill for short, had seven brothers, all of whom were mad on horses. Some of them accompanied her to school each term, which always caused a great sensation! The girls ran to the window to see.
'Yes - it's Bill - but there are only three brothers with tier,' said Sally. T suppose that means another one's gone into the army, or into a job. Look, there's Clarissa too. She must have come with Bill on Merrylegs, her little horse.'
'And there's Gwen!' said Alicia, with malice in her voice. 'How many many fond farewells have we seen
between Gwen and her mother? Let's least our eyes on this one - it will be the last!'
Bui Gwen was on her guard now. Too olten had the girls imitated her weeping farewells. She stepped out ol the ear, looking rather solemn, but very dignilied. She kissed her mother and Miss Winter, her old governess, and wouldn't let them be silly over her. But she didn't kiss her lather good-bye.
He called after her. 'Good-bye, Gwen.'
'Good-bye,' said Gwen, in such a hard voice thai the girls looked at one another in surprise.
'There's been a row!' said Sally. T expect her father's ticked her oft again tor some silly nonsense. It's a jolly good thing for Gwendoline Mary that there's one sensible person in her family!'
Gwen's mother was now dabbing her eyes with her handkcrchiel. The car swung round, went down the drive and disappeared. Gwen came into the room behind the others.
'Hallo!' she said. 'Had good hols?'
'Hallo, Gwen,' said Darrell. 'Did you?'
'Fair,' said Gwen. 'My father was an awful nuisance, though.'
The others said nothing. Gwen never could under¬stand that it just wasn't decent to run down your parents in public.
'Mother had fixed up lor me to go to Swit
zerland to a simply marvellous finishing school," said Gwen. 'Fright¬fully expensive. All the best people send their girls there. Lady Jane Tregennton's girl's going there, and . . .'
The same old Gwen! thought Darrell and Sally, feeling sick. Conceited, snobbish, silly. They turned away, teeling that nothing in the world would ever teach Gwen to be an ordinary decent, kindly girl.
Gwen didn't in the least mind talking to people's backs. She went on and on. 'And then, when it was all fixed. Dad said it was loo expensive, ami lie said it was all nonsense, and ] ought to get a job - a job] He said . . .'
'I don't think you ought to tell us all this,' said Darrell, suddenly. 'I'm sure your lather would hale it.'
'I don't care if he would or not,' said Gwen. 'He's tried to spoil everything. But I told him what I thought ot him. I got my own way. I'm going!'
Sally looked at Darrell and Alicia. This was Gwen's last term. She had spent six years at Malory Towers, and had had many sharp lessons. Yet it seemed as il she had learned nothing ol value at all!
She probably never will now, thought Darrell. It's too late. She walked out of the room with Sally and Alicia, all of them disgusted. Gwen scowled after them resentfully. People so olten walked out on her, and she never eon Id stop t hem
Just as I was going to tell them some of the things I said to Dad, thought Gwen. I'm glad I hardly said good¬bye to him. I'm his only daughter, and he treats me like that! Well, now he knows what I think of him.
She was so full ol herself and her victory that she quite forgot to be mournful and homesick, as she usually pretended to be. She wandered oil and lound little Mary- I.ou - a much bigger Mary-Lou now, but still shy and ready to think that most people were much better and more interesting than she was.
Mary-Lou always listened to everyone, Gwen began lo tell her again all she had told the others. Mary-Lou stared at her in disgust. 'I don't believe you said anything .:ko that to your lather!' she said. 'You can't be as beastly as all that'.'
.And little Mary-Lou actually walked oft with her nose in the air! Gwen suddenly began to realize that she wasn't going to be at all popular in her lasi term if she