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New Term at Malory Towers, Page 2

Enid Blyton

  But, fortunately, no one had, and as, one by one, the third formers gave them in to Matron, the new girl stood to one side, watching them, Felicity thought, rather as one might watch animals in a zoo.

  When Matron had finished, she seemed to remember the girl, for she said, ‘I’ve a new girl here who will be joining your form, so you may as well take her with you and show her round a bit.’ She put her hand on the girl’s arm and drew her forward. ‘This is Amy Ryder-Cochrane.’

  Pam, who had been head of the form last term, took the lead and said in her friendly way, ‘Pleased to meet you, Amy. I’m Pam Bateman, and this lot are Felicity Rivers, Susan Blake, Nora Woods and Julie Adamson.’

  ‘Hallo, Amy,’ chorused the third formers. ‘Welcome to Malory Towers.’

  The girl inclined her head in a way that was almost regal, and Felicity had to stop herself giggling. She didn’t much like the look of Amy, but was determined to give her a chance. Being the new girl in a form where all the others had known each other for a while must be quite daunting, and perhaps Amy was just a little shy. So she smiled at the girl and said, ‘If you come with us, we’ll show you to your dormy. Matron, are we all in together?’

  Matron picked a piece of paper up from her desk and said, ‘Yes, you’re all in dormitory number nine, along with June, another new girl called Winifred Holmes and Veronica Sharpe.’

  Then she moved away to greet two second formers, while the third formers looked at one another in dismay, and Nora gave a groan. ‘Veronica Sharpe! Don’t say that she is staying on in the third for another term!’

  ‘She must be, if she’s sharing our dormy,’ said Susan gloomily. ‘Rotten luck for us.’

  ‘Now, that’s enough, girls!’ said Matron crisply. ‘Off you go now to unpack your things – and make sure that you put everything away tidily.’

  ‘Yes, Matron,’ chorused the girls, and they trooped out obediently, taking their night cases with them.

  ‘I expect you must find all this rather strange, Amy,’ said Susan kindly, as they made their way upstairs. ‘But don’t worry, you’ll soon settle in. Have you been to boarding school before?’

  ‘Of course,’ answered Amy in rather an affected tone. ‘I went to Highcliffe Hall, and it was simply first-class. One of the best schools in the country, and frightfully exclusive.’

  The listening third formers, who thought that there was no better school in the country than their own beloved Malory Towers, raised their eyebrows at this and, pushing open the door of the dormitory, Felicity said coolly, ‘If it’s so marvellous, what made you leave and come here?’

  Amy thought quickly. She couldn’t tell the truth, of course – which was that her father had decided that she had become far too conceited and stuck-up for her own good since she started at Highcliffe Hall! And that the only way to bring her down to earth was for her to attend a good, sensible school, whose pupils learned the things that mattered. Instead she said, ‘Oh, the school was so far away from my home that it was difficult for Mummy and Daddy to visit at half-term. Malory Towers is much nearer for them, so I suppose that’s one advantage it has over my old school, anyway.’ Amy followed the others into the dormitory as she spoke and looked round, wrinkling her nose in distaste. ‘Goodness, it’s awfully cramped in here,’ she complained, putting her night case on one of the beds. ‘At Highcliffe there were only four girls to a dormitory, so we had plenty of space to put our things. And I don’t think much of the way this room has been decorated.’

  And the girls didn’t think much of Amy! They wanted to like her, and to make her feel welcome at Malory Towers, but, really, she was making it terribly difficult. Didn’t she realise that it simply wasn’t done for a new girl to criticise everything like this?

  ‘Well, I’m sorry if our standards don’t match up to those of Highcliffe Hall,’ Felicity spoke up, looking coldly at the new girl. ‘But I, for one, think it’s a very nice room!’

  ‘Hear, hear!’ chorused the others.

  And indeed it was a very nice dormitory. Despite Amy’s scornful words, there was plenty of room for all the girls. Each one had a little cabinet beside her bed, in which she could keep all her personal belongings, as well as a small wardrobe. The beds had pretty green, floral patterned bedspreads, which matched the curtains at the big window, from where there was a splendid view of the beautiful gardens. One of the beds already had a pair of slippers placed neatly beside it, and there was a book on top of the little cabinet. The girls guessed that they belonged to Veronica, and wondered where she was.

  ‘How I hate unpacking,’ sighed Nora, opening her night case. ‘Thank goodness our trunks aren’t brought up until tomorrow, because I simply couldn’t face having to put everything away tidily on my first day back.’

  A frown crossed Amy’s haughty little face as she said, ‘Don’t tell me that we actually have to unpack our trunks ourselves? Why, at Highcliffe Hall each dormitory had a maid, who did all our unpacking, and looked after our clothes, and made our beds.’

  Pam, who was bending over her night case, looked up and said, ‘Well, I’m afraid there are no maids to unpack for you here, Amy. We have to do everything ourselves.’

  ‘That’s right,’ said Nora, nodding solemnly. ‘It’s a hard life, but you’ll soon get used to it. The dressing-bell goes at five o’clock sharp, and after we’ve washed – in cold water, of course – we must sweep the floor and make sure that everything is spick and span in here.’

  The girls had to force down a laugh as they watched poor Amy, who looked as if she was about to faint! Then Felicity, with a very serious expression indeed, went on, ‘After that, Matron comes in to do her inspection, and if everything isn’t exactly right it’s bread and water for breakfast. If we’re lucky!’

  This was too much for Nora, who gave one of her explosive snorts of laughter and Amy, realising at last that she was being teased, flushed bright red and glared furiously at the third formers. But she had no time to retort, for the door was pushed open, and a girl with wicked, narrow dark eyes and a cheeky expression burst in. June was back!

  New friends and an old enemy

  At once a perfect hubbub broke out, and the newcomer found herself surrounded. June might be stubborn, outspoken and malicious, but she also had the kind of daring and boldness that the others envied and that, along with her talent for playing the most amazing tricks and a wicked sense of humour, meant that she was extremely popular.

  ‘June, you’re back! How marvellous!’

  ‘Did you come on the train? We wondered where you were.’

  ‘Hope you’ve brought plenty of jokes and tricks with you.’

  June grinned. ‘You bet I have! And I’ve brought something else too – a new member of the third form.’

  She stood aside and, for the first time, the girls realised that someone had entered the room behind her. The new girl had a short, boyish cap of pale hair, laughing blue eyes and a friendly, open face. The girls liked the look of her at once, and thought how different she was from Amy when she grinned round and said, ‘Hallo everyone, I’m Freddie Holmes. Well, actually I’m Winifred Holmes, but everyone calls me Freddie, so I hope that you will too. June has been telling me all about Malory Towers, and I simply can’t tell you how happy I am to be here.’

  ‘Oh, do you two know one another, then?’ asked Julie.

  ‘We met on the train,’ said June, slipping her arm through Freddie’s. ‘Miss Peters was there, too, and, knowing what a kind soul I am, asked me to take Freddie under my wing.’

  Felicity looked sharply at June, knowing that – at times – she could be extremely unkind. But there was no trace of malice in the girl’s expression now. She looked happy to be back at Malory Towers, and happy to have made a new friend.

  Amy, meanwhile, had been very much in the background – and she wasn’t happy about it! She wasn’t the slightest bit interested in June and Freddie – or any of the others, for that matter. But she did like being the centre of attention, and
didn’t at all care to be ignored like this. She hadn’t wanted to come to this stupid school, but as she was stuck with it, she meant to make everyone sit up and take notice. At Highcliffe Hall everyone had admired Amy’s aristocratic looks, envied her expensive possessions and hung on her every word as she boasted about her wealthy, well-connected family. And she had thrived on their admiration and envy, for these things were extremely important to her. Although the Malory Towers girls seemed much more sensible and down-to-earth than those at Highcliffe Hall, Amy had no doubt at all that she would soon become a source of great admiration to them, too.

  Eager to take centre stage, she opened her night case and, with much groaning and sighing, began pulling things out and tossing them on to her bed. If she made enough fuss, perhaps one of the others would offer to unpack her trunk when it was brought up tomorrow! She gave a particularly loud sigh and June, who was extremely shrewd and very good at sizing people up, stared at her and said in an amused voice, ‘And who have we here?’

  ‘Oh, June, this is Amy Ryder-Cochrane,’ said Felicity. ‘Another new girl.’

  ‘I’m afraid Amy is having a little trouble adjusting to our ways,’ put in Susan, giving June a meaningful look. ‘Her old school was very exclusive, you see. One of the best in the country, so she tells us.’

  ‘Dear me,’ said June smoothly, walking over to Amy. ‘What a come-down for you having to rough it with us at Malory Towers.’

  Amy looked at June suspiciously. Was she being sarcastic? The others were in no doubt at all, and waited with bated breath for the new girl to feel the full force of June’s sharp tongue. But kind-hearted Pam didn’t feel that it was fair to give Amy too hard a time on her first day, and stepped forward, asking, ‘Have we time to show Amy and Freddie round a bit before tea?’

  Susan looked at her watch and answered, ‘There isn’t time to show them everything, but perhaps we can take a quick look at the swimming-pool.’

  ‘And the stables,’ put in Julie. ‘I must see how Jack has settled in.’

  ‘Jack?’ repeated Freddie, looking puzzled.

  ‘Jack is Julie’s pony,’ explained Felicity. ‘His full name is Jack Horner, but his friends call him Jack.’

  ‘A pony at school!’ exclaimed Freddie. ‘My word, how super. I’m simply dying to see him, and the swimming-pool, and…oh, everything!’

  ‘Well, buck up and get your night case unpacked,’ said Felicity. ‘You too, June, otherwise we shan’t have time to show the new girls round at all.’

  The two latecomers quickly unpacked, then June noticed that there were two spare beds.

  ‘Someone seems to be missing,’ she said.

  ‘Well, there are normally ten to a dormitory, but there are only nine of us this year,’ said Felicity. ‘That’s why there’s a spare bed.’

  ‘But there are only eight of us here,’ said June. Then she pointed towards the bed with the slippers beside it and asked, ‘Who’s sleeping there?’

  ‘Oh, of course, you won’t have heard, June,’ said Pam. ‘We’re to have the pleasure of Veronica Sharpe’s company this term.’

  ‘How lovely for us,’ said June, pulling a face. ‘Just what we need in the third form – a sly, spiteful little snob. I know that none of the old third formers could stand her.’

  ‘You had better watch your step, Felicity,’ said Julie, with a frown. ‘Do you remember how your sister, Darrell, caught her snooping around in the sixth’s common-room last term?’

  ‘Yes, I remember,’ said Felicity, with a grin. ‘Darrell made her write an essay on respecting one’s elders, and got her to read it out to the whole of the sixth form. But I don’t see what that’s got to do with me!’

  ‘Well, Veronica was simply furious with Darrell, but was too much of a coward to try and get back at her,’ said Julie. ‘And if she’s still holding a grudge, she might try to take it out on you.’

  ‘Well, if she tries any of her mean tricks on Felicity, she’ll have the whole of the third form to deal with,’ said Susan loyally.

  ‘She certainly will,’ agreed Pam. ‘But come on, let’s not waste any more of our time discussing Veronica. We’ll take a look in at our new common-room, then go down to the swimming-pool.’

  And, chattering at the top of their voices, the girls left the dormitory and made their way downstairs.

  As their voices faded away, the door of the bathroom at the end of the dormitory opened and someone stepped out – Veronica Sharpe!

  Veronica hadn’t meant to listen in on the others – at first. She had just finished washing her hands in the bathroom when she had heard the third formers enter, and she fully intended to make her presence known and say hallo to them. Then she had overheard Amy’s remarks and been most impressed by how grand the new girl sounded. Wouldn’t it be fine to have a girl like that for a friend, she thought – someone right out of the top drawer! As she listened, it quickly became clear that the others weren’t impressed by Amy at all – and that suited Veronica just fine, for it meant that she would have no competition. Veronica had always found it difficult to make friends at school, but she couldn’t see that it was due to her own sly, rather spiteful nature. She preferred to tell herself that none of the girls at Malory Towers were good enough to become her friend. But now, here was someone who was good enough.

  She took a step towards the door, then stopped suddenly, as a thought occurred to her. If she joined the others now they would know that she had overheard them, and would realise that she was only trying to befriend Amy because she was grand and wealthy. No, better to stay hidden for the time being. Veronica decided that she would go all out to win Amy over at teatime, then nobody could accuse her of wanting to be friends with the new girl for the wrong reasons. Pleased with herself, the girl tiptoed across to the bathroom door, listening for all she was worth. A sneer crossed her face when she heard the others greet that horrid June. How Veronica disliked that girl – and how she would love to take her down a peg or two! Well, when Miss Peters announced that she was to be head-girl of the third form tomorrow, she would do exactly that! Veronica almost shivered with excitement at the thought. She was sure to be head-girl, for she had been in the third form for one term already – and wouldn’t she enjoy lording it over the others! And she was going to have the richest girl in the form for her friend. The term was really getting off to a good start.

  Then Veronica heard her own name mentioned, and pressed her ear even closer to the door. The smug smile slid from her face as she heard what the others thought of her. Sly, sneaky, spiteful and a coward. Tears of anger and self-pity sprang to her eyes and she turned red with humiliation. The mean beasts! Not for a moment did it occur to Veronica that it was her own behaviour in the past that had made the third formers despise her. Nor did it cross her mind that the girls were only speaking the truth. She did still bear a grudge against that high and mighty Darrell Rivers, and had spent many pleasant hours during the holidays thinking up ways to get back at her through her younger sister. The third formers’ scornful words might have made another girl stop and think, and perhaps decide to change her ways. But Veronica only felt even more determined to get back at Felicity for her disgrace last term.

  Part of her wanted to storm out of the bathroom and confront the third formers. But that would only end in Veronica feeling even more humiliated, for then they would know that she had been eavesdropping. And what would Amy think of her then? No, she needed to keep a cool head and not act rashly. It was a relief when she heard the others leave, and could emerge from her hiding place.

  With the dormitory all to herself, Veronica was quite unable to resist the urge to do a little snooping. That must be Felicity’s bed, over by the window, for there was a framed photograph on the cabinet of Felicity, Darrell and their parents. The family looked very happy, all of them smiling widely, but Veronica felt very sour indeed as she picked it up, fighting an impulse to throw it to the ground and smash it. But that would be a mistake, for the others would instantl
y suspect her. This was typical of Veronica, who only saw things as they affected her. She didn’t think that it would be wrong to destroy another girl’s belongings – merely that it would be a shame if she was caught out!

  Carefully she replaced the photograph and walked over to the bed next to hers, wondering who the occupant was. A bottle of expensive French perfume stood on the cabinet and a very pretty pink dressing-gown had been placed, folded very carefully, on the bed. Veronica ran her hand over it, thrilled to discover that it felt like real silk. This must be Amy’s bed, for surely no other third former would have such exquisite belongings. What a bit of luck that the new girl had chosen the bed next to hers! Instantly, Veronica’s ill humour disappeared. There would be plenty of time for her to teach Felicity a lesson – after all, she had the whole term ahead of her. For now she meant to concentrate on making a friend of Amy.

  The rest of the third form, meanwhile, were happily showing off their school to the new girls.

  It was a real pleasure, thought Felicity, to show Freddie round. The new girl seemed genuinely thrilled to be at Malory Towers, and exclaimed with delight at everything, reminding Felicity very much of the way she had felt on her first day. Amy, however, turned her rather large nose up at everything.

  ‘Don’t we have our own studies here?’ she asked, surprised and displeased, as they looked in at the cosy common-room. ‘We did at Highcliffe Hall, and we were allowed to decorate them just as we pleased.’

  ‘You’ll have to make do with a common-room now, Amy,’ said June. ‘I’m sure you’ll think that it suits the rest of us down to the ground – a common-room for common girls!’

  The others laughed, but Amy scowled and turned away.

  At the stables, Freddie went into ecstasies over Jack, making a great fuss of him and begging Julie to let her ride him one day. But Amy refused to go near him, complaining that the smell of the stables made her feel sick.