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The Naughtiest Girl in the School, Page 2

Enid Blyton

  «Oh, come on, do have one!» said the tubby little girl, whose sweets they were. «A sweet would do you good – make you look a bit sweeter perhaps!» Everybody laughed. Elizabeth went red and hated the tubby little girl.

  «Ruth! You do say some funny things!» said a big girl opposite. «Don't tease the poor little thing. She's new.»

  «Well, so is Belinda, next to you», said Ruth, «but she does at least say something when she's spoken to!»

  «That will do, Ruth», said Miss Thomas, seeing how red Elizabeth had gone. Ruth said no more, but the next time she offered her sweets round she did not offer them to Elizabeth.

  It was a long journey. Elizabeth was tired when at last the train drew up in a country station and the girls poured out of the carriages. The boys came to join them, and the children talked eagerly of all they bad done in the holidays..

  «Come along now, quickly», said Mr. Johns, pushing them out of the station gate. «The coach is waiting.»

  There was an enormous coach outside the station, labelled “Whyteleafe School”. The children took their places. Elizabeth found a place as far away as possible from the tubby little girl called Ruth. She didn't like her one bit. She didn't like Belinda either. She didn't like anyone! They all stared at her too much! The coach set off with a loud clank and rumble. Round the corner it went, down a country lane, up a steep hill – and there was Whyteleafe School at the top! It was a beautiful building, like an old country house – which, indeed, it once had been. Its deep red walls, green with creeper, glowed in the April sun. It had a broad flight of steps leading from the green lawns up to the school terrace.

  «Good old Whyteleafe!» said Ruth, pleased to see it. The coach swept round to the other side of the school, through a great archway, and up to the front door. The children jumped down and ran up the steps, shouting and laughing.

  Elizabeth found her hand taken by Miss Thomas. «Welcome to Whyteleafe, Elizabeth!» said the teacher kindly, smiling down at the sulky face. «I am sure you will do well here and be very happy with us all.»

  «I shan't», said naughty Elizabeth, and she pulled her hand away! It was certainly not a very good beginning.

  Chapter 3: Elizabeth Makes a Bad Beginning

  It was half past one by the time the children arrived, and they were all hungry for their dinner. They were told to wash their hands quickly, and tidy themselves and then go to the dining-hall for their dinner.

  «Eileen, please look after the three new girls», said Miss Thomas. A big girl, with a kindly face and a mass of fair curls, came up to Belinda, Elizabeth, and another girl called Helen. She gave them a push in the direction of the cloakrooms.

  «Hurry!» she said. So they hurried, and Elizabeth soon found herself in a big cloakroom, tiled in gleaming white, with basins down one side, and mirrors here and there.

  She washed quickly, feeling rather lost in such a crowd of chattering girls. Helen and Belinda had made friends, and Elizabeth wished they would say something to her instead of chattering to one another. But they said nothing to Elizabeth, thinking her rude and queer. Then to the dining-hall went all the girls and took their places. The boys clattered in too.

  «Sit anywhere you like today», said a tall mistress, whose name, Elizabeth found, was Miss Belle. So the children sat down and began to eat their dinner hungrily. There was hot soup first, then beef carrots, dumplings, onions and potatoes, and then rice pudding and golden syrup. Elizabeth was so hungry that she ate everything put before her, though at home she would certainly have pushed away the rice pudding.

  As it was the first day the children were allowed to talk as they pleased, there was such a noise as they told one another what they had done in the holidays.

  «I had a puppy for Easter», said one girl with a laughing face. «Do you know, my father bought a simply enormous Easter egg, and put the puppy inside, and tied up the egg with a red ribbon? Goodness, didn't I laugh when I undid it!» Everybody else laughed too.

  «I had a new bicycle for my Easter present», said a round-faced boy. «But it wasn't put into an egg!»

  «What did you have for Easter?» said Eileen to Elizabeth in a kindly tone. She was sitting opposite, and felt sorry for the silent new girl. Belinda and Helen were sitting together, telling each other about the last school they had been to. Only Elizabeth had no one to talk to her.

  «I had a guinea-pig», said Elizabeth, in a clear voice, «and it had a face just like Miss Thomas.»

  There was a shocked silence. Somebody giggled. Miss Thomas looked rather surprised, but she said nothing.

  «If you weren't a new girl, you'd be jolly well sat on for that!» said a girl nearby, glaring at Elizabeth. «Rude creature!»

  Elizabeth couldn't help going red. She had made up her mind to be naughty and rude, and she was going to be really bad, but it was rather dreadful to have somebody speaking like that to her, in front of everyone. She went on with her rice pudding. Soon the children began to talk to one another again, and Elizabeth was forgotten.

  After dinner the boys went to unpack their things in their own bedrooms, and the girls went to theirs.

  «Whose room are the new girls in, please, Miss Thomas?» asked Eileen. Miss Thomas looked at her list.

  «Let me see», she said, «yes – here we are – Elizabeth Allen, Belinda Green, Helen Marsden – they are all in Room Six, Eileen, and with them are Ruth James, Joan Townsend, and Nora O'Sullivan. Ask Nora to take the new girls there and show them what to do. She's head of that room.»

  «Nora! Hi, Nora!» called Eileen, as a tall, dark-haired girl, with deep blue eyes, went by. «Take these kids to Room Six, will you? They're yours! You're head of that room.»

  «I know», said Nora, looking at the three new girls. «Hallo, is this the girl who was rude to Miss Thomas? You just mind what you say, whatever-your-name-is. I'm not having any cheek from you!»

  «I shall say exactly what I like», said Elizabeth boldly. «You can't stop me!»

  «Oho, can't I?» said Nora, her blue Irish eyes glaring at Elizabeth. «That's all you know! Get along to the bedroom now, and I'll show you all what to do.»

  They all went up a winding oak staircase and came to a wide landing. All around it were doors, marked with numbers. Nora opened the door of Number Six and went in.

  The bedroom was long, high, and airy. There were wide windows, all open to the school gardens outside. The sun poured in and made the room look very pleasant indeed.

  The room was divided into six by blue curtains, which were now drawn back to the walls, so that six low white beds could be seen, each with a blue eiderdown. Beside each bed stood a wide chest-of-drawers, with a small mirror on top. The chests were painted white with blue wooden handles, and looked very pretty.

  There were three wash-basins in the room, with hot and cold water taps, to be shared by the six girls. There was also a tall white cupboard for each girl, and in these they hung their coats and dresses.

  Each bed had a blue rug beside it on the polished brown boards. Elizabeth couldn't help thinking that it all looked rather exciting. She had only slept with Miss Scott before – now she was to sleep with five other girls!

  «Your trunks and tuck-boxes are beside your beds», said Nora. «You must each unpack now, and put your things away tidily. And when I say tidily I mean tidily. I shall look at your drawers once a week. On the top of the chest you are allowed to have six things, not more. Choose what you like – hairbrushes, or photographs, or ornaments – it doesn't matter.»

  “How silly!” thought Elizabeth scornfully, thinking of her own untidy dressing – table at home. “I shall put as many things out as I like!” They all began unpacking. Elizabeth had never packed or unpacked anything in her life, and she found it rather exciting. She put her things neatly away in her chest-of-drawers – the piles of stockings, vests, bodices, blouses, everything she had brought with her. She hung up her school coat and her dresses.

  The others were busy unpacking too. Whilst they were doing t
his two more girls danced into the room. «Hallo, Nora!» said one, a red-haired girl with freckles all over her face. «I'm in your room this term. Good!»

  «Hallo, Joan», said Nora. «Get on with your unpacking, there's a lamb. Hallo, Ruth – I've got you here again, have I? Well, just see you're a bit tidier than last term!» Ruth laughed. She was the girl who had handed round her sweets in the train, and she was plump and clever. She ran to her trunk and began to undo it.

  Nora began to tell the new girls a little about the school. They listened as they busily put away their things in their drawers. «Whyteleafe School isn't a very large school», began Nora, «but it's a jolly fine one. The boys have their lessons with us, and we play tennis and cricket with them and we have our own teams of girls only, too. Last year we beat the boys at tennis. We'll beat them this year, too, if only we can get some good players. Any of you new girls play tennis?»

  Belinda did but the others didn't. Nora went on talking, as she hung up her dresses. «We all have the same amount of pocket-money to spend», she said. «And it's plenty too. Two shillings a week.»

  «I shall have a lot more than that», said Belinda, in surprise.

  «Oh no, you won't», said Nora. «All the money we have is put into a big box, and we each draw two shillings a week from it, unless we've been fined for something.»

  «What do you mean – fined?» asked Helen. «Who fines us? Miss Belle and Miss Best?»

  «Oh no», said Nora. «We hold a big meeting once a week – oftener, if necessary – and we hear complaints and grumbles, and if anyone has been behaving badly we fine them. Miss Belle or Miss Best come to the meeting too, of course, but they don't decide anything much. They trust us to decide for ourselves.»

  Elizabeth thought this was very strange. She had always thought that the teachers punished the children – but at Whyteleafe it seemed as if the children did it! She listened in astonishment to all that Nora was saying.

  «If there's any money over, it is given to anyone who particularly wants to buy something that the meeting approves of», went on Nora. «For instance, suppose you broke your tennis racket, Belinda, and needed a new one, the meeting might allow you to take the money from the box to buy one – especially if they thought you were a very good player.»

  «I see», said Belinda. «It sounds a good idea. Look, Nora – here are the things out of my tuck-box What do I do with them? I want to share them with everybody.»

  «Thanks», said Nora. «Well, we keep all our cakes and sweets and things in the playroom downstairs. There's a big cupboard there, and tins to put cakes into. I'll show you where. Elizabeth, are your tuck-box things ready? If so, bring them along, and we'll put them into the cupboard to share at tea-time.»

  «I'm not going to share», said Elizabeth, remembering that she hadn't been naughty or horrid for some time. «I shall eat them all myself.»

  There was a horrified silence. The five girls stared at Elizabeth as if they couldn't believe their ears Not share her cakes and sweets? Whatever sort of a girl was this?

  «Well», said Nora, at last, her merry face suddenly very disgusted. «You can do what you like, of course, with your own things. If they're as horrid as you seem to be, nobody would want to eat them!»

  Chapter 4: Elizabeth Gets Into Trouble

  As Nora was about to lead the way down to the playroom, she glanced at the chests-of-drawers to see that they were tidy on the top. To her surprise she saw that Elizabeth had put about a dozen things on her chest! Nora stopped and looked at them. There were two hairbrushes, a mirror, a comb, three photographs, a bottle of scent, two small vases, and a clothes-brush.

  «Look here!» said Nora, to the others. «This poor child can't count up to six! She's got eleven things on her chest. Poor Elizabeth! Fancy not being able to count six.»

  «I can», said Elizabeth fiercely. «One, two, three, four, five, six.» Everybody squealed with laughter.

  «She can count!» said Nora. «Well, Elizabeth, count your things, and take five away – or can't you do taking-away? There are eleven things on your chest – take away five – and it will leave six – which is the number I told you to have.»

  «I'm not going to take any away», said Elizabeth rudely.

  «Aren't you?» said Nora, in surprise. «Well, if you won't – I will!» The angry Irish girl picked up a hairbrush, the three photographs, and the mirror. She went to a box under the window, took a key from her pocket and unlocked it. She put the five things inside and locked the box.

  «That's what happens when people can't count», she said. Elizabeth stared at her in a rage.

  «Give me my things back», she said. «I want those photographs at once! They are of Mummy and Daddy and my pony too.»

  «Sorry», said Nora, putting the key into her pocket. «You can have them back when you apologise, and tell me that you know how to count.»

  «I shan't», said Elizabeth.

  «Just as you please», said Nora. «Now come on, everybody, and let's take the eatables down to the play room.»

  «I don't want to bring mine», said Elizabeth. «I want to leave them here.»

  «Well, if you do, they'll go into that box along with the photographs», said Nora firmly. «The rule is that all eatables go downstairs.»

  Elizabeth stood sulking, looking at her cake, her jam sandwich, her chocolate, toffee, and shortbread. Then she picked up her tuck-box and followed the others. She did not want them to go into that box! She had seen enough of Nora to know that that young lady was very determined! They clattered down the oak staircase. At one side of the hall was an open door, leading into a very large room lined with cupboards and bookcases. It was full of boys and girls.

  Some were talking, some were playing games, some were putting away cakes into tins. They were all busy and happy, and called out greetings to Nora as she came into the room.

  There was a gramophone going in one corner. Elizabeth stopped to listen to it, for she loved music. It was playing a tune that her mother played at home, and suddenly the little girl felt as if she wanted her mother badly.

  “But, never mind!” she thought to herself. “I shan't be here long! I don't expect they'll keep me more than a week if I go on being awfully naughty.”

  «Here are some empty tins», said Nora, handing some down from a shelf. «Catch, Helen. Catch, Elizabeth. Here's a big one for you, Belinda, to take in that enormous cake!» Soon they were all putting away their things. Nora took slips of paper from a pile and wrote their names on. «Stick your name on your tin», she said, licking hers and sticking it to the side of her tin.

  «I'd like to see the classrooms», said Belinda. Ruth said she would show her round the whole school, and off she went with Belinda and Helen. Elizabeth followed a little way behind, curious to see what a school was like, for she had never seen inside one before. The dining-hall she had already seen – a great high room, with big windows. Tables ran down the middle of it. It was only used for meals.

  Then there were the classrooms, big, sunny rooms all over the place, with neat desks and chairs, and a bigger desk for the teacher. There were blackboards everywhere, just like the one that Miss Scott had used for Elizabeth.

  «This is our classroom», said Ruth to the new girls. «I expect we'll all be in Miss Ranger's class. She's pretty strict, I can tell you! Nora's in a higher class, of course. She's older. She's a jolly good sort, don't you think so?»

  «Yes», agreed Helen and Belinda at once. But Elizabeth thought differently. She pursed up her mouth and said nothing.

  «This is the gym», said Ruth, and the three new girls looked in wonder at the great room, with its ropes and climbing-ladders, and bars and poles. Elizabeth suddenly felt excited. She loved climbing and swinging and jumping. She hoped she could do some gym before she left.

  There were many other bedrooms like her own, and then there was the part of the house put aside for Miss Belle and Miss Best and the other teachers.

  «You'll each have to go and see the heads afte
r tea», said Ruth. «They're good sorts.» By the time the four girls had gone over the lovely grounds and had seen the cricket-fields, the tennis courts, and the flower-filled gardens, it was time for tea. A bell rang loudly, and the girls looked cheerful,

  «Good! Tea!» said Ruth. «Come on. Wash first, all of you, and do your hairs. Yours looks awful, Elizabeth.»

  Elizabeth did not like her dark curls being called “awful”. She went up to her bedroom and did her hair neatly, and washed her hands. She was very hungry, and thought with pleasure of her currant cake and jam sandwich.

  «I've got the most gorgeous chocolate cake you ever saw!» said Belinda to the others. «It just melts in your mouth! You must all have a piece.»

  «And I've got some home-made shrimp-paste that's too delicious for words», said Ruth. «You wait till you taste it.» Chocolate cake and home-made shrimp-paste seemed even more delicious to Elizabeth than currant cake and jam sandwich, which suddenly seemed rather ordinary. She ran downstairs wondering if she would have two pieces of Belinda's gorgeous chocolate cake. Tea was laid in the dining-room. The long tables were spread with white cloths, and plates with big slices of brown bread and butter were set all the way down. There were also some large plain cakes here and there, and some big pots of plum jam.

  The children put their tuck-boxes on a bare table, and placed on some empty plates there the cake or sandwich, jam or paste they meant to share at tea. These plates they took to their own table. Once again they were allowed to sit where they liked.

  Elizabeth put out her sandwich and her currant cake and took her place too. Grace was said and then the boys and girls began to chatter quietly.

  Suddenly Nora banged on the table. She was at the head of it. Everyone at her table stopped speaking.

  «I nearly forgot to say something», said Nora. «Elizabeth Allen does not wish to share her things with anyone, so don't ask her for a piece of her cake, will you? She wants it all herself.»

  «All right!» said the other children, and they stared at Elizabeth in surprise. Elizabeth went on eating her bread and butter. Next to her was Ruth, opening a large pot of shrimp-paste that smelt simply delicious. She passed it round the table – but did not offer Elizabeth any.