Naughtiest Girl 8: Well Done, The Naughtiest GirlEnid Blyton
Written by Anne Digby
Illustrated by Kate Hindley
THE LIFE AND TIMES OF ENID BLYTON
MY SCHOOL DAYS: AN INTERVIEW WITH ENID BLYTON
WHAT THEY DID AT MISS BROWN’S SCHOOL
Have you read them all?
More from Enid Blyton
If you liked this you’ll love . . .
by Cressida Cowell
bestselling author of the
How to Train Your Dragon series
Like so many, many children before and after me, Enid Blyton’s books played a crucial role in turning my nine-year-old self into a passionate reader.
That is because Enid Blyton had an extraordinary knack for writing the kind of books that children actually want to read, rather than the kind of books that adults think they should read.
Enid Blyton could tap into children’s dreams, children’s desires, children’s wishes, with pin-point accuracy. She knew that every child, however good and well-behaved they might look on the outside, secretly longed to be Elizabeth Allen, the naughtiest kid in the school. I’m afraid I entirely cheered Elizabeth on, as she defied her parents, the headmistresses, her schoolmates, and the very serious School Meetings. If anything, I wanted her to be even naughtier.
But the Naughtiest Girl books were really my favourite of Enid Blyton’s school stories because of Whyteleafe, a very different school from Malory Towers or St Clare’s. What if there could be a school in which discipline was administered by the children rather than the adults? In which all money was given in at the start of the term and distributed amongst the children along socialist lines? Wouldn’t this be the kind of school that children would actually want to go to, rather than the kind of school that children have to go to?
It was an interesting proposition to a nine-year-old, and it remains an interesting proposition.
I hope you enjoy this story as much as I did when I was nine years old.
A nasty surprise for Elizabeth
‘THE LEAVERS’ Concert is going to be something very special this year, Elizabeth,’ said the music master. ‘Very special indeed.’
Mr Lewis was in charge of music at Whyteleafe School and also taught piano, violin and flute. Elizabeth took piano lessons with him but had been excused them for the past few weeks as she had been very busy with the Summer Play. The play had been performed now, so she was free to resume them, but she had almost forgotten her first lesson back. She had had to run all the way to the music room.
‘Even more special than last year?’ asked the Naughtiest Girl, puffing as she recovered her breath. ‘I thought it was such a lovely concert last summer. I really enjoyed myself.’
She undid the straps of her regulation brown leather music case. Then she scrabbled inside to find her sheet music. Which piece had they been working on? She couldn’t recall.
‘Yes, Elizabeth, I seem to remember you were excellent,’ replied Mr Lewis. The elderly music master fingered his beard and looked thoughtful. ‘You worked very hard for it.’
Elizabeth felt pleased. She was still basking in the warm afterglow of the first form play. Her interest quickened. How exciting it would be to take centre stage again so soon. The school concert – of course! It was held right at the end of the summer term and parents were invited. Her mother and father would be coming, just as they had last year. Her one tiny regret about the play was that Mummy and Daddy had not been there to see her!
How well she remembered last year’s concert, at the end of her very first term at Whyteleafe School. She had started the term as the Naughtiest Girl in the School, hating the idea of boarding-school and doing everything bad she could think of – with the intention of getting herself sent home. But she had ended the term as a proud member of the school, playing two duets on the platform with a brilliant boy called Richard, as well as a little sea piece on her own. She remembered the applause ringing in her ears and the happy looks on her parents’ faces . . .
‘Why will this year’s concert be so special, Mr Lewis?’ she asked, as she found a piece of music and sat down at the piano.
‘Because we have some very special Leavers this time,’ he reminded her. ‘Last year, only two or three boys and girls were old enough to leave Whyteleafe but this year there’s a whole batch. And what a fine batch they have been. Not just Roger, who’s won his scholarship, but Charles and Colin and Lynette and – most important of all – our head boy and head girl. They have been the finest heads we have had at Whyteleafe for a long time.’
‘William and Rita!’ exclaimed Elizabeth. ‘Of course. Oh dear. I just can’t imagine Whyteleafe without
them. I do wish I could make time stand still.’
‘But then you would have to stay in the first form for ever, Elizabeth,’ chided Mr Lewis. ‘And you wouldn’t like that, would you?’
She shook her head so hard that her brown curls flew back and forth across her face.
‘No, I would NOT!’ she exclaimed.
If there was one thing she was looking forward to with all her heart, it was the prospect of moving up in September. It would be brilliant to go up into the second form with Julian and Kathleen and Belinda and all the other boys and girls in the first form who were old enough and clever enough to go up. How grown-up they would feel then! Her friend Julian would have to stop playing so many jokes in class and start behaving like a responsible second former. And it would be lovely to be reunited with her best friend, Joan, who was already in the second form and a monitor. It was all going to be such fun! And if losing William and Rita was the price that had to be paid for time not standing still, then Elizabeth had to be willing to accept it!
‘I expect excellent replacements will be found for William and Rita, when the time comes to elect a new head boy and girl,’ Mr Lewis was pointing out. ‘But, in the meantime, it’s been decided to give them a very special send-off. To make the Leavers’ Concert one of the best we’ve ever had. Something for them to remember for ever.’
‘How wonderful!’ exclaimed Elizabeth. She suddenly felt very excited. What a privilege it would be to play at William and Rita’s Leavers’ Concert. She thought back to the duets she had taken part in last year. To play with Richard again, some beautiful duets, to be part of William and Rita’s last memories of Whyteleafe . . . How thrilling that would be.
‘Richard won’t be one of the Leavers, will he?’ she asked suddenly.
‘No! We’ve got Richard for another year or two yet,’ replied Mr Lewis. ‘I’m pleased to say. But even Richard won’t be the star performer this year. You see, to make the concert extra special, Miss Belle and Miss Best have invited Courtney Wood to come and play, the well-known concert pianist. And he has accepted!’ The music master could barely conceal his pleasure. ‘Isn’t that exciting news, Elizabeth?’
‘Oh,’ said Elizabeth, dully. ‘Won’t any of
the boys and girls be playing at the concert then?’
‘Of course, of course,’ replied Mr Lewis, a trifle impatiently. He was glancing at his watch now and turning over the sheet of music that Elizabeth had propped up in front of her. It was time for the lesson to begin. ‘But we won’t be able to have half as many children as usual. Just one musician from each form. That’s all we’ll be able to fit into the programme. There won’t be any duets this year. The very best child from each form will play, that’s all. Richard will represent his, of course . . .’
Elizabeth’s hopes immediately rose again. So she still had a chance of being picked, then. And as a solo performer!
She thought about it. In the first form, Harry was keen but not very good – his hands were like a bunch of bananas, Richard often said. Arabella had been learning the piano for a long time but it was well known that she was always in trouble with Mr Lewis for never doing her piano practice. Belinda and Edward were both learning the violin but they had only started last term . . .
‘Tut! Tut!’ exclaimed Mr Lewis, breaking into her calculations. He was removing the sheet of music from the piano. ‘This won’t do, Elizabeth. You’ve put the music on its stand upside-down! And . . . what’s this?’ He turned the sheet the right way up. ‘We finished Serenade before half-term. We’re on that difficult arrangement of Greensleeves now, don’t you remember?’
Flustered, Elizabeth groped in her brown music case and found the correct sheet. It was right at the bottom.
‘What’s it doing buried down there?’ scolded Mr Lewis, as he opened it up at the first page and placed it on the stand for her. ‘Now, let’s see if you’ve been doing your piano practice.’
It was soon very obvious that she had not.
‘Really, Elizabeth,’ winced the music master, as she got all tangled up on the opening bars, ‘what’s happened to you? You were playing that opening beautifully not long ago. And look at the little finger of your right hand, all scrunched up! You’ll never reach the high notes like that. Stretch it out wide, S-T-R-E-T-C-H.’
The lesson went badly.
‘Elizabeth, you are a very naughty girl,’ Mr Lewis said to her afterwards. ‘I don’t believe you’ve done any piano practice at all, lately. I don’t believe you once went near the piano while you were mixed up in that play of yours. Am I right?’
‘Yes, you are right,’ confessed Elizabeth, looking upset. ‘I’m sorry.’
The little girl was too proud to make excuses. She was too proud to explain that going to all the rehearsals for the play, and learning such a big part until she was word perfect in every line, had been a difficult task. There had been other things to worry about, too, which had taken up all her spare time and energy. Though they were all now sorted out, they had loomed large at the time.
In the meantime, not only Elizabeth’s piano practice but a lot of her school work, too, had been pushed to one side. She would not have dreamed of explaining this to anyone, for fear of looking feeble.
In any case, Mr Lewis was smiling at her now. He had spoken more in sorrow than in anger.
‘Cheer up,’ he said. ‘I can see you really are sorry and will turn over a new leaf. If you do your practice every day, you will soon make up your lost ground. Practice makes perfect. That’s what I’m always saying to Arabella.’ He chuckled. ‘Yes, that’s what I’ve been telling her for a long, long time.’
Elizabeth mildly wondered what there was to chuckle about, as far as Arabella was concerned. But she was so relieved that Mr Lewis was not being cross any more, she cared not.
‘I will do my practice every day, I promise!’ she said happily, as she packed her music case and prepared to leave. ‘When I come for my lesson next week, you will see such a difference!’
‘I shall look forward to that, Elizabeth.’
She longed to ask more questions about the Leavers’ Concert. In particular, she longed to hear Mr Lewis say that she stood a good chance of being picked to represent the first form. But her good sense told her that this was hardly the right moment. She would ask him next week, when she had had a chance to catch up on her piano practice. He would see how well she was progressing with the difficult new piece. Then, surely, she would be chosen to play it at the concert? It would be such an honour to play it for William and Rita and the other Leavers, in front of the whole school, in front of all the parents! In front of her own parents. It was a thrilling thought.
‘You’re looking cheerful, Elizabeth,’ said Julian Holland, as she came into the common room. ‘Where’ve you been?’
The boy with the dark, untidy hair and humorous green eyes pushed his chessboard to one side. He had been working out a few interesting chess moves. But nothing was ever more interesting than talking to the bold, bad Elizabeth. They were great friends.
‘Piano lesson,’ she replied. ‘Here, Julian, have a chocolate biscuit. As a matter of fact, I am feeling cheerful.’
‘Must have been a good lesson,’ grinned Julian.
‘Not especially,’ replied Elizabeth, airily. She was not going to admit, even to Julian, that she had been unable to cope with her piano practice recently and how disappointed Mr Lewis had been in her. ‘It’s just that Mr Lewis had some interesting news.’
She told him all about Courtney Wood coming to play at the end of term. And then, even though the common room was empty, she dropped her voice low and confided in Julian her secret hopes.
‘I do believe you’re getting quite stage-struck, Elizabeth Allen!’ teased Julian. ‘Not content with being the star of the Summer Play, you’ve now decided you’d like to appear on the same platform as Courtney Wood!’
There had been a time when the Naughtiest Girl would have flared up at that. But now she just took the joke against herself in good part.
‘It’s not that, and you know it,’ she smiled. ‘I’ll tell you what it is, it’s because of William and Rita. Oh, Julian, I can hardly bear to think that this is their last term at Whyteleafe. I want to practise and practise until I can play my piece really beautifully. It’s just the right music somehow and says everything I’m feeling and how sad I am at saying goodbye. They’ve given me so much and helped me to be a better person and . . .’
Julian gazed at his friend in admiration. He could see how sincere she was being. She was struggling to find the right words. He finished the sentence for her.
‘. . . so this would be your way of saying thank you? Of giving them something back?’
‘Yes, that’s it exactly,’ said Elizabeth, gratefully.
‘Well, I expect you’ll be chosen,’ said Julian, airily. ‘Nobody else in the first form is much good except you, Elizabeth. Least, that’s what I’ve always heard. Blow it, I think I’d like to give William and Rita something myself. I think I’ll carve them a little wooden animal each. A Mother Bear and a Father Bear. How about that, Elizabeth?’
‘Oh, Julian, that’s a brilliant idea.’
‘I must start looking out for just the right bits of wood. I say, we are going to miss them, aren’t we, Elizabeth?’
The two friends fell silent for a few moments.
Elizabeth swallowed hard.
‘But it’s got to be, hasn’t it?’ she said at last. ‘Mr Lewis reminded me of what would happen if you made time stand still. If William and Rita were just to stay as head boy and head girl for ever and ever and never move on—’
‘What?’ asked Julian.
‘We’d all have to stay in the first form for ever and ever, too,’ said Elizabeth, wryly. ‘We wouldn’t be able to go up to the second form in September!’
‘What a nightmare!’ said Julian. He laughed. ‘Oh, we couldn’t stand for that. I don’t know about you, Elizabeth, but I can’t wait!’
‘Me neither!’ agreed the Naughtiest Girl.
It was such a happy thought that they bot
h felt cheerful again.
But Elizabeth’s happiness was to be very short-lived.
The next morning Miss Ranger, their form teacher, told the class the result of this month’s tests. She read out the new positions in class.
Julian had come top, as usual. His cousin, Patrick, had worked hard and come second. Elizabeth, who usually came very high, waited in vain to hear her name read out.
She was in for a nasty surprise.
She had come third from bottom.
Even Arabella, the oldest in the class but usually near the bottom, was two whole places above her. Since half-term she had been working frantically hard and had made her very best effort.
‘You will have to do better than this in the end-of-term exams, Elizabeth,’ said Miss Ranger. ‘Or we may have to keep you in the first form a little longer.’
Elizabeth could hardly take it in. She had been beaten in class by Arabella!
However the sight of Arabella’s gloating face made her determined not to show her true feelings.
She spoke airily, almost defiantly. She repeated what Mr Lewis had said to her the previous day, the first words to come into her head.
‘I shall soon make up any lost ground, I dare say, Miss Ranger.’
But inwardly Elizabeth was shaking. She had been given a dreadful fright.
Two little puzzles
AFTER THAT, Elizabeth decided that she must start revising very hard indeed for the exams. But she didn’t want any of her classmates to know what a fright she had been given, not even Julian. She lost no time in finding herself a secret den, somewhere that she could study in peace.
She found the perfect place high up in an oak tree. She was there now.
Above her head came little rustling sounds as two doves moved along a branch. A pair of collared turtle doves, with black half collars round the back of their pale dusty brown necks – they were permanent residents of the old oak, along with all manner of other creatures. The doves were getting quite used to Elizabeth’s presence. This was the third day running that she’d been here.