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The O'Sullivan Twins

Enid Blyton

  Chapter 1: Easter Term at St. Clares

  'Mother! Did you know that Cousin Alison, who was at Redroofs School with us, is going to St. Clare's next term?' said Pat O'Sullivan, looking up from a letter she was reading. Her twin, Isabel, was reading it too, the two dark heads side by side at the breakfast table.

  'Yes, I knew,' said their mother, smiling. 'Your Aunt Sarah wrote and told me. When she heard how much you liked St. Clare's, she decided to send Alison there too ' and you can look after her a little, the first term.'

  'Alison is a bit stuck-up,' said Pat. 'We saw her these hols., Mummy ' full of airs and graces. And she has had her hair permed ' think of that!'

  'Shocking! At her age!' said Mrs. O'Sullivan. 'Quite time she went to St. Clare's! '

  'I remember two girls who were terribly stuck-up last summer holidays,' said Mr. O'Sullivan, looking up from his newspaper. His eyes twinkled as he looked at the twins. 'My goodness ' they didn't want to go to St. Clare's! They thought it would be dreadful school ' really horrid.'

  Pat and Isabel went very red. 'Don't remind us of that, Daddy,' said Pat. 'We were idiots. We behaved awfully badly at St. Clare's at first ' every one called us the Stuck-Up twins.'

  'Or the High-and-Mighties!' said Isabel, with a giggle. 'Gracious ' I can't think how any one put up with us.'

  'Well, we had a pretty bad time to start with,' said Pat, ' and serve us right too. I hope Alison won't be as stuck-up as we were.'

  'She'll be worse,' said Isabel. 'She's so vain! Mummy, couldn't you get Alison to come and stay here for two or three days before we have to go back to St. Clare's? then we could tell her a few things.'

  'Well, that would be very kind of you,' said Mrs. O'Sullivan.

  'It's not altogether kindness,' said Isabel, with a smile. 'Neither Pat nor I want to be saddled with a cousin who's going to be silly and vain ' and we may be able to prepare her a bit if we have her a few days.'

  'Lick her into shape, you mean?' said Mr. O'Sullivan, over the top of his paper. 'Well, if you can make that conceited little monkey into somebody nice, I shall be surprised. I never saw anyone so spoilt in all my life.'

  'It's a good thing she's going to St Clare's,' said Pat, spreading marmalade on her toast. 'Don't you think Isabel and I are nicer since we went there, Daddy?'

  'I'll have to think a little about that,' said their father, teasingly. 'Well ' yes ' on the whole I'm pleased with you. What do you say, Mother?'

  'Oh, I think they settled down very well indeed at St. Clare's,' said Mrs. O'Sullivan. 'They did so hate going ' and they vowed and declared they wouldn't try a bit ' but Mrs. Theobald, the Head Mistress, said some very nice things on their report. They will be very happy there this term.'

  'I don't want the hols. to end, but I can't help feeling quite excited when I think of seeing old Mam'zelle Abominable again,' said Pat, ' and Miss Roberts, and''

  'Mam'zelle Abominable!' said Mr. O'Sullivan, in astonishment. 'Is that really her name?'

  'Oh, no, Daddy ' we only call her that because she says 'C'est abominable!' to so many things!' said Pat. 'Isabel and I were awfully bad at French grammar at first and Mam'zelle use to write 'Abominable' across our books. But she is a kind old thing, really.'

  'It will be fun to see all the girls again too,' said Isabel. 'Mummy, write and tell Aunt Sarah to let Cousin Alison come next week before we go back.'

  So Mrs. O'Sullivan wrote to her sister-in-law and Cousin Alison arrived two days before the girls were due back at school.

  She was a very pretty girl, with curled red-brown hair, a rose-bud mouth, and big blue eyes.

  'A bit like that doll we used to have, really,' said Pat to Isabel. 'We called her Angela, do you remember? I wish Alison wouldn't smile that silly smile so much.'

  'Oh, I expect some one has told her what a sweet smile she has, or something,' said Isabel. 'Really, she seems to think she's a film-star, the way she behaves!'

  Alison was pleased to be with her cousins so that she might go to St. Clare's with them, for, like most girls, she felt nervous at going for the first time to a new school. It didn't take long to settle down ' but it felt rather strange and new at first.

  'Tell me a bit about the school,' she said, as she sat down in the old schoolroom that evening. 'I hope it isn't one of those terribly sensible schools that make you play games if you don't want to, and all that.'

  Pat winked at Isabel. 'Alison, ST. Clare's is just about the most sensible school in the kingdom!' she said, in a most solemn voice. 'You have to know how to clean shoes''

  'And make tea'' said Isabel.

  'And toast,' went on Pat. 'And you have to know how to make your own beds''

  'And if you tear your clothes you have to mend them yourself,' said Isabel, enjoying Alison's look of horror.

  'Wait a minute,' said Alison, sitting up. 'What do you mean ' clean shoes, make tea ' and toast? Surely you don't do that!'

  The twins laughed. 'It's all right,' said Pat. 'You see, Alison, the first form and second form have to wait on the top-formers in turn. When they shout for us we have to go and see what they want, and jolly well do it.'

  Alison went pink. 'It sounds pretty awful to me,' she said. 'What are the girls like? Are they awful too?'

  'Oh, dreadful,' said Pat, solemnly. 'Very like Isabel and me, in fact. You'll probably hate them!'

  'It doesn't sound a bit like Redroofs, the school you went with me only a term ago,' said Alison, sadly. 'What's our form-mistress like? Shall I be in the same form as you?'

  'Yes, I should think so,' said Pat. 'We are in the first form- we certainly shan't be moved up into the second yet. Our form-mistress is Miss Roberts. She's a good sort ' but my word, she's sarcastic! If you get the wrong side of her you'll be sorry.'

  'And Mam'zelle is hot stuff too,' said Isabel. 'She's big, with enormous feet ' and she's got a fearful temper and she shouts.'

  'Isabel, she sounds dreadful,' said Alison, in alarm, thinking of the mouse-like French mistress aat Redroofs.

  'Oh, she's not a bad sort really,' said Pat, smiling. 'She's got a kind heart. Anyway, you needn't worry, Alison ' you'll have Isabel and me to look after you a bit and show you everything.'

  'Thanks,' said Alison gratefully. 'I hope I'm in the same dormitory as you are. What's Matron like?'

  'Oh, Matron has been there for years and years and years,' said Pat. 'She dosed our mothers and aunts, and our grandmothers too, for all I know? She knows when we've had Midnight Feasts ' she doesn't stand any nonsense at all. But she's nice when you're ill.' Alison learnt a great deal about St Clare's during the two days she stayed with the twins. She thought they had changed since they had left Redroofs. She stared at them and tried to think how they had changed.

  'They seem so sensible,' she thought. 'They were always rather up in the air and proud, at Redroofs. Oh well ' they were head-girls there, and had something to be

  proud of ' now I suppose they're among the youngest in the school ' and I shall be too.'

  The day came for the three to leave for their boarding-school. Everything had been packed. Mrs. O'Sullivan had got the same cakes and sweets for Alison's tuck-box as she had bought for the twins. Everything was neatly marked and well-packed, and now the three big trunks and the three tuck-boxes stood ready in the hall, marked in white paint with the names of the three girls.

  Mrs. O'Sullivan was to see them off in London. Pat and Isabel were excited at the thought of seeing all their friends again. Alison was rather quiet. She was very glad that she had the twins to go with.

  They arrived on the platform from which their train was to excitement there was! 'There's dear old Janet! Hie, Janet, good hols.? Oh, there's Hilary. Hallo, Hilary ' look, this who's coming to St. Clare's this term. O
h, there's Doris '

  go ' and then what an Janet! Did you have is our Cousin Alison, and Sheila!'

  Every one crowded round the twins, talking and laughing. Alison was made known to them all, and she felt very grateful to the twins for helping her in this difficult first meeting with unknown girls.

  A pleasant-faced mistress bustled up with a notebook in hand. 'Good morning, Pat, good morning, Isabel! Still as like as two peas, I see! Is this your cousin, Alison O'Sullivan? Good ' I'll tick her off in my list. How do you do, Alison? I'm Miss Roberts, your form-mistress. No doubt the twins have told you exactly how fierce and savage I am!'

  She smiled and passed on to the next group. It was her job to see that all the first-and second-formers were there, and to get them into the train in time.

  :Any new girls this term?' wondered Pat, looking round. ' I can't see any ' except Alison, of course.'

  'Yes ' there's one over there ' look!' said Isabel, nudging Pat. Pat looked, and saw a tall, rather good-looking girl standing by herself. She had a bad-tempered face, and was not trying to make friends with anyone at all. No one had come to see her off.

  'She's new,' said Pat. ' I wonder if she'll be in our form. My words, I should

  think she's got a temper ' I wonder what would happen if she and Janet had a row!'

  Janet was very quick-tempered, and flared up easily. But it was soon over with her; this new girl, however, looked sulky, as well as bad-tempered. The twins did not take to her at all.

  'There's another new girls, too ' look, just walking on to the platform!' said Isabel. 'She looks jolly nice! She'll be in our form, I should think.'

  The second new girl was quite different from the one they had just seen. She was small, with dancing black curls, and she had deep blue eyes that sparkled and shone. Her father and mother were both with her.

  'Her father must be an artist or a musician of something, his hair's so long!' said Pat.

  'I know who he is,' said Hilary Wentworth, who was standing just nearby. 'He's Max Oriell ' the famous painter. My aunt has just had her portrait painted by him ' it's simply marvellous. I was him once or twice when I went with her to a sitting, That must be his daughter. They're awfully alike.'

  'She looks clever,' said Pat. 'I hope she's in our form.'

  'Get into your carriages, please!' called Miss Roberts, in her clear voice. 'The train goes in three minutes. Say your good-byes now.'

  So good-byes were said and the girls scrambled into their carriages, trying to sit with their own special friends. Alison thought that the top-formers, walking sedately along the platform, were very grown-up and dignified. She felt small when she saw them.

  'There's Winifred James, our head-girl,' whispered Pat, as a tall, serious-looking girl went by. 'She's frightfully clever, and most awfully nice.'

  'I should be afraid to say a word to her!' said Alison.

  'We felt like that at first too,' said Isabel. 'Look ' that's Belinda Towers, the sports captain. Pat and I got into a row with her last term ' but we soon found she was a good sort. Golly, I hope she puts us down for a few matches this term, don't you, Pat?'

  The whistle blew. Handkerchiefs waved from windows. The train puffed out slowly, full to bursting-point with all the girls of St. Clare's. They were off to school again!

  Chapter 2. Settling In

  The first day or two of a new term is always an exciting time. There are no proper time-tables, rules are not kept strictly, there is a lot of unpacking to be done ' and best of all there are tuck-boxes to empty!

  The girls missed their home and their mother at first, as did most girls ' but there was so much to do that there was no time to fret or worry. In any case every one soon settled down into the school routine. It was fun to greet all the teachers again, fun to sit in the same old classroom, and fun to see if the inkspot that looked like a cat with two tails was still on Janet's desk.

  There were new books to be given out, and new pencils, rubbers, rulers and pens.

  'Ah, the nice new books!' said Mam'zelle, her large eyes gleaming with pleasure as she looked round the class. 'These nice new books ' to be filled with beautiful French compositions. Did you grown, Doris? Surely you are not going to make my hair grey this term as you did last term? Ah-h-h! See this grey lock, ma ch're Doris ' it was you who caused that last term!'

  Mam'zelle pulled out a bit of grey hair from her thick thatch, and looked comically at Doris.

  'I'll do my best, Mam'zelle,' promised Doris. ' But I shall never, never be able to say the French r's in the right way. Never!'

  'R-r-r-r!' said Mam'zelle, rolling the r in her throat in a most marvellous manner. The class giggled. Mam'zelle sounded so remarkably like a dog growling, but no one dared to say so.

  The other teachers welcomed the girls in their own manner. Miss Roberts had already seen most of her girls in the train. Alison couldn't help liking her very much, though she was a little afraid of Miss Roberts's sharp tongue. Miss Roberts had a way of making an offender feel very small indeed.

  The form-mistress had a special word for the twins. 'Well, Pat and Isabe, I can see by your faces that you've made up your minds to do well this term. You've got determination written all over you, Pat ' and I know that Isabel always follows your example! What about being to pin a few things this term?'

  'I'd like to be,' said Pat, eagerly. 'We always were at Redroof ' the school we went to before, you know. Now that we've got used to St. Clare's we'll be able to work more quickly.'

  Matron was in her room, giving out towels, sheets and pillow-cases, and warning everyone that any buttons would have to be sewn on by the girls themselves, and any tears would have to be neatly mended in sewing-class.

  'But I can't mend sheets and things,' said Alison, in dismay.

  'Maybe that's one of the things your mother sent you here to learn?' suggested Matron with her wide smile. ' You hope to be happily married one day, don't you ' and run your own home? Well, you must learn to take care of your own linen and mend it, then. But it doesn't seem to me that you need worry much ' your mother has sent you all new things, So unless you try to kick holes in your sheets, and tear the buttons off there won't be much for you to do in the way of mending this term.

  All the girls had to go and see Miss Theobald in turn. Alison went with Pat and Isabel. She felt very nervous as she stood outside the drawing-room with them, waiting to go in.

  'What do I say?' she whispered. 'Is she very solemn?'

  The door opened and Janet and Hilary came out. 'You next,' said Hilary, and the waiting three went in. Alison liked Miss Theobald, the Head Mistress, at once. She had a very serious face that could break into a really lovely smile. She smiled now as she saw the three cousins.

  'Well, Pat and Isabel, I am glad to see you back again, looking so happy,' she said. ' I remember last term, when I first saw you, you scowled and said hardly a word! But this term I know you better. You will do your very best for your form, and for the school too.'

  'Yes, of course, Miss Theobald,' said the twins, beaming.

  Miss Theobald turned to Alison. 'And this is another O'Sullivan, a cousin!' she said. 'Well, with three O'Sullivans all working hard in the same form, Miss Roberts ought to be pleased! You are lucky to have two sensible cousins to help you along in this first term, Alison.'

  'Yes, Miss Theobald,' gasped Alison, still very nervous.

  'You may go now,' said Miss Theobald. 'And remember, Pat and Isabel, that I am here to help you in any difficulty, so don't be afraid to come, will you?'

  The three went out, all a little awed, but all liking the Head Mistress immensely. They rushed to the common room, which Alison had not yet seen.

  'Don't we have studies to ourselves here?' said Alison, in disappointment, looking round the big room that was shared by the first- and second-formers together. 'What an awful row!'

  Certainly there was a noise. Girls were talking and laughing. Some one had put the gramophone on, and some one else, at the other end of
the big room, was tinkering with the wireless, which kept making most extraordinary noises.

  'You'll soon get used to the noise,' said Pat happily. 'It's nice and friendly, really. Look ' you can have this part of the shelf here for your belongings, Alison ' your cake-tins and biscuit-tins ' and your sewing or knitting and the library book you're reading.The next part belongs to me and Isabel. Keep your part tidy or you'll take up too much room.'

  The twins showed their cousin over the school ' the big classrooms with the lovely view from the windows ' the enormous gym ' the fine art room, high up under the room, with a good north light ' the laboratory ' even the cloakrooms, where each girl had a locker for her shoes, and a peg for her out-door things and her