First Term at Malory Towers, Page 2Enid Blyton
Darrell wondered what the Court was. She soon found out. Malory Towers was built round a large oblong space, called the Court. Alicia took her and the others out of a door opposite the entrance they had come in by, and there lay the Court surrounded on all sides by the buildings.
'What a lovely place!' said Darrell. 'What's that sunk piece in the middle?'
She pointed to a great circle of green grass sunk a good way below the level of the Court. Round the sloping sides of the circle were stone seats. It looked like an open-air circus ring, the ring sunk low, and the stone seats rising upwards around it, Darrell thought.
'That's where we act plays in the summer,' said Alicia. "The players perform in the ring, and the audience sit round
on those stone seats. We have good fun.'
Round the sunk circle, on the level, was a beautifully set out garden, with roses and all kinds of flowers planted there. Green lawns, not yet cut by the gardeners, were set between the beds.
'It's warm and sheltered in the Court,' said Darrell.
'It's too hot in the summer,' said Alicia, steering them all across the Court to the opposite side. 'But you should see it in the Easter term! When we come back, in January, leaving our own homes in frost and maybe snow, we find snowdrops and aconites and primroses blooming in all the beds here, in the sheltered Court. It's gorgeous. Well, look at the tulips coming out here already, and it's only April!'
At each end of the hollow oblong of buildings was a tower. Alicia was making for North Tower. It was exactly like the other three. Darrell looked at it. It was four storeys high. Alicia stopped short just outside.
'On the ground floor there's our dining-hall, our common rooms, where we go when we're not in class, and the kitchens. On the second floor are the dormies, where we sleep—dormitories, you know. On the third floor are more dormies. On the top floor are the bedrooms of the staff, and the box rooms for our luggage.'
'And each house is the same, I suppose?' said Darrell, and she looked up at her tower. T wish 1 slept right at the top there, in the tower itself. What a lovely view I'd have!'
Girls were going in and out of the open door at the bottom of North Tower. 'Buck up!' they called to Alicia. 'Supper's in a few minutes' time—something good by the smell of it!'
'We always get a jolly good supper the day we arrive,' said Alicia. 'After that—not so good! Cocoa and biscuits, something like that. Come on, let's find Matron.'
Each of the Tower houses had its own matron, responsible for the girls' health and well-being. The matron of North
Tower was a plump, bustling woman, dressed in starched apron and print frock, very neat and spotless.
Alicia took the new girls to her. 'Three more for you to dose and scold and ran after!" said Alicia, with a grin.
Darrell looked at Matron, frowning over the long lists in her hand. Her hair was neatly tucked under a pretty cap, tied in a bow under her chin. She looked so spotless that Darrell began to feel very dirty and untidy. She felt a little scared of Matron, and hoped she wouldn't make her take nasty medicine too often.
Then Matron looked up and smiled, and at once Darrell's fears fell away. She couldn't be afraid of a person who smiled like that, with her eyes and her mouth and even her nose too!
'Now let me see—you're Darrell Rivers," said Matron, ticking off her name on a list. 'Got your health certificate with you? Give it to me, please. And you're Sally Hope.'
'No, I'm Gwendoline Mary Lacey,' said Gwendoline.
'And don't forget the Mary,' said Alicia, pertly. 'Dear Gwendoline Mary.'
'That's enough, Alicia,' said Matron, ticking away down her list. 'You're as bad as your mother used to be. No, worse, I think.'
Alicia grinned. 'Mother came to Malory Towers when she was a girl,' she told the others. 'She was in North Tower too, and Matron had her for years. She sent you her best love, Matron. She says she wishes she could send all my brothers to you too. She's sure you're the only person who can manage them.'
'If they're anything like you, I'm very glad they're not here,' said Matron. 'One of the Johns family at a time is quite enough for me. Your mother put some grey hairs into my head, and you've certainly done your bit in adding a few more."
She smiled again. She had a wise, kindly face, and any girl who fell ill felt safe in Matron's care. But woe betide any pretender, or any lazy girl or careless one! Then Matron's smile snapped off, her face closed up, and her eyes glinted dangerously!
A big gong boomed through North Tower. 'Supper,' said Matron. 'Unpack your things afterwards, Alicia. Your train was late and you must all be very tired. All first-formers are to go to bed immediately after supper tonight.'
Oh, MatronV began Alicia, groaning. 'Can't we just have ten minutes after...'
'1 said immediately, Alicia,' said Matron. 'Go along now. Wash your hands quickly and go down. Hurry!'
And in five minutes time Alicia and the others were sitting down, enjoying a good supper. They were hungry. Darrell looked round at the tables. She was sure she would never know all the girls in her house! And she was sure she would never dare to join in their laugh and chatter either.
But she would, of course—and very soon too!
3 FIRST NIGHT AND MORNING
AFTER supper, obeying Matron's command, all the first- formers went up to their dormitory. Darrell was delighted with the room. It was long, and had windows all down the length of it, which, to Darrell's joy, overlooked the sea. She stood there, hearing the faraway sound of waves on the beach, watching the slowly moving blue sea. What a lovely place this was!
'Buck up, Dreamy!' said Alicia's voice. 'Matron will be along in two ticks.'
Darrell turned. She looked at the room. It had ten beds in it, each divided from the next by a white curtain which could be drawn or pulled back as the girls wished.
Each girl had a white bed with a coloured eiderdown. The eiderdowns were different colours and made a pretty show as Darrell looked down the row of beds. In each cubicle there was a cupboard to hang things, and a chest of drawers with a mirror on top. There were wash-basins with hot and cold water at each end of the room.
The girls were busy unpacking their small bags. Darrell opened hers. She shook out her night-dress. She took her face-flannel, her tooth-brush and paste. A clean towel hung ready for her on a rail at the side of her chest of drawers.
'It will be fun to sleep here, with all the others,' thought Darrell. 'What fun we shall have talking at night. We could have dormy games too, I should think.'
All the first-formers were in the same dormy. Alicia was there, Darrell, Sally and Gwendoline. There were six other girls besides. They stared at the three new girls as they ran to and from the wash-basins, washing, and cleaning their teeth.
One of the girls looked at her watch. 'Get into bed, everyone!' she ordered. She was a tall, dark girl, quiet in her manner. Everyone but Gwendoline scrambled into bed. Gwendoline was still brushing out her fine golden hair. She was counting as she brushed it.
'Fifty-four, fifty-five, fifty-six
'Hey, you new girl—what's your name—get into bed!' ordered the tall dark girl again.
'I've got to brush my hair a hundred times each night,' protested Gwendoline. 'Now I've forgotten what number I got to!'
'Shut up and get into bed, Gwendoline Mary,' said Alicia, who was next to Gwendoline. 'Katherine is the head of our
dormy. You've got to do what she says.'
'But 1 promised M-M-Mo . . .' began Gwendoline, tears welling up. 'I promised Mother to b-b-b-brush my hair a hundred times each night!'
'You can add the number of brushings you leave out tonight on to tomorrow night,' came the head-girl's cool voice. 'Get into bed, please.'
'Oh, just let me finish!' said Gwendoline and began frantically brushing again. 'Fifty-seven, fifty
'Shall I spank her with my brush, Katherine?' said Alicia, sitting up. Gwendoline gave a squeal and leapt into bed. The girls laughed. They all knew that Al
icia had no intention of spanking Gwendoline.
Gwendoline lay down, angry. She determined to make herself miserable and cry. She thought of her mother, and her faraway home, and she began to sniff.
'Do blow your nose, Gwendoline,' said Alicia, sleepily.
'Stop talking,' said Katherine. There was silence in the room. Sally Hope gave a little sigh. Darrell wondered if she was asleep. The curtains between her bed and Sally's were pulled back. No, Sally was not asleep. She lay with her eyes wide open. There were no tears in them, but her face looked sad.
'Perhaps she's homesick,' thought Darrell, and thought of her home too. But she was too sensible to be silly about it, and too excited to be at Malory Towers to miss her home. After all, she had badly wanted to come, and here she was— and she meant to be very happy and have a lot of fun.
Matron arrived. She took a look down the beds. One or two of the girls were already fast asleep, tired out. Matron walked down the long room, twitched an eiderdown into place, turned off a dripping tap, and pulled the curtains across the windows, for it was still very light outside.
'Good night,' she said, in a low voice. 'And no talking,
'Good night, Matron,' murmured those girls who were not yet asleep. Darrell peeped to see if Matron's nice smile was on her face. She caught sight of Darrell's peeping eyes and nodded, smiling. 'Sleep well!' she said, and went out quietly.
Gwendoline was the only one who tried to keep awake. What had Mother said to her? 'You'll feel dreadful tonight, I know, darling, but be brave, won't you?'
So Gwendoline was determined to lie awake and feel dreadful. But her eyes wouldn't keep open! They shut and soon Gwendoline was as fast asleep as the others. And at home her mother was dabbing her eyes, and saying, 'Poor little Gwen! I shouldn't have sent her away from me! 1 feel she's awake and crying her heart out!'
But Gwendoline was giving little contented snores, dreaming happily of how she would queen it over the girls here, be top of her form, and best at all games.
A loud bell awoke all the girls the next morning. At first Darrell couldn't imagine where she was. Then she heard Alicia's voice. 'Get up, lazy-bones! You've got to make your bed before breakfast!'
Darrell leapt out of bed. The sun poured into the room, for Katherine had drawn the curtains back. A loud chattering began. Girls hopped across the room to the washbasins. Darrell dressed quickly, proud to put on her brown tunic with its brown-orange belt, just like all the other girls wore. She brushed her hair back and put in two slides to keep it tidy. Gwendoline left her hair loose over her shoulders.
'You can't have it like that,' said Alicia. 'Not in school, Gwendoline!'
'I've always had it like this,' said Gwendoline, an obstinate look coming over her pretty, silly little face.
'Well, it looks awful,' said Alicia.
'It does not!' said Gwendoline. 'You only say that because your hair is short and coarse.'
Alicia winked at Katherine, who was coming up. 'Better let dear Gwendoline show offher long, fine-as-silk hair, don't you think so?' she said, in a bland voice. 'Miss Potts might be delighted to see it like that.'
'My governess, Miss Winter, always liked it like this,' said Gwendoline, looking pleased.
'Oh—haven't you been to a school before? Have you just had a governess?' asked Alicia. 'That explains a lot.'
'What does it explain?' asked Gwendoline, haughtily.
'Nevermind. You'll find out,' said Alicia. 'Ready, Darrell? That's the breakfast gong. Tuck your sheet in well. That's right. Gwendoline, fold up your nighty. Look at Sally—there's a new girl for you! Everything done to time, nobody's got to chivvy her round!'
Sally gave a little smile. She hardly said a word. She did not seem in the least shy, but she was so quiet and self- possessed that Darrell could hardly believe she was a new girl. She always seemed to know exactly what to do.
They all went down to the dinning-hall. The long tables were ready, and girls were already seating themselves, greeting their house-mistress politely. Matron was there too, and a third grown-up, whom Darrell had not seen before.
'That's Mam'zelle Dupont,' whispered Alicia. 'We've got two French mistresses at Malory Towers. One's fat and jolly and the other's thin and sour. We've got the fat and jolly one this term. They've both got simply awful tempers, so I hope you're pretty good at French.'
'Well, no, I'm not really,' said Darrell, wishing she was.
'Mam'zelle Dupont hates Mam'zelle Rougier and Mam'zelle Rougier hates Mam'zelle Dupont," went on Alicia. 'You should see the fur fly sometimes. Matron has to be sent for to calm them down when they get too bad!'
Darrell's eyes opened wide. Katherine, across the table, laughed. 'Don't believe all that Alicia says,' she said. 'Her tongue runs away with her sometimes. Nobody has ever seen our two Mam'zelles fly at each other's throats yet.'
'Ah, but they will one day—and I hope I'll be there to see it,' said Alicia.
Mam'zelle Dupont was short, fat and round. She wore her hair in a little bun on top. Her eyes, black and beady, were never still. She wore a black frock that fitted her perfectly, and well-fitting black shoes on her tiny feet.
She was short-sighted but she would not wear glasses. She had instead a pair of long-handled glasses, called lorgnettes, which she wore dangling on a long black ribbon. These she used when she wanted to see anything at close quarters, holding them to her eyes with her hand.
Alicia, who was a good mimic, could keep her class in fits of laughter, blinking like poor Mam'zelle, and holding imaginary glasses up to her nose. But she was just as much in awe of Mam'zelle Dupont as anyone else, and did not rouse her hot temper if she could help it.
'New girls must go to see the Head Mistress after breakfast,' announced Miss Potts. 'There are three in the first form, two in the second form, and one in the fourth. You can all go together. Join us in the assembly room for Prayers later. Pamela, will you take the new girls to the Head, please?'
Pamela, head-girl of North Tower House, rose. The new girls stood up, Darrell among them. They followed Pamela. She took them out of the door that let into the Court, and then in through another door set in the building that ran between East and North Tower. The Head Mistress's rooms were there, and so was the San. or sanatorium, where any sick girl went.
They came to a door painted a deep cream colour. Pamela
knocked. A low voice said 'Come in!'
Pamela opened the door. 'I've brought the new girls to you, Miss Grayling,' she said.
'Thank you, Pamela,' said the low voice again, and Darrell saw a grey-haired woman sitting at a desk, writing. She had a calm, unwrinkled face, eyes that were startlingly blue, and a very firm mouth. Darrell felt frightened of this calm, low- voiced Head Mistress, and hoped she would never have to be sent to her for misbehaviour!
The new girls stood in a row before the Head, and Miss Grayling looked at them all closely. Darrell felt herself going red, she couldn't imagine why. Her knees felt a bit wobbly too. She hoped Miss Grayling wouldn't ask her any questions, for she was sure she wouldn't be able to say a word!
Miss Grayling asked them their names, and spoke a few words to each girl. Then she addresed them all solemnly.
'One day you will leave school and go out into the world as young women. You should take with you eager minds, kind hearts, and a will to help. You should take with you a good understanding of many things, and a willingness to accept responsibility and show yourselves as women to be loved and trusted. All these things you will be able to learn at Malory Towers—if you will. I do not count as our successes those who have won scholarships and passed exams., though these are good things to do. I count as our successes those who learn to be good-hearted and kind, sensible and trustable, good, sound women the world can lean on. Our failures are those who do not learn these things in the years they are here.'
These words were spoken so gravely and solemnly that Darrell hardly breathed. She immediately longed to be one of Malor
y Towers' successes.
'It is easy for some of you to learn these things, and hard for others. But easy or hard, they must be learnt if you are to be happy, after you leave here, and if you are to bring happiness to others.'
There was a pause. Then Miss Grayling spoke again, in a lighter tone. 'You will all get a tremendous lot out of your time at Malory Towers. See that you give a lot back!'
'Oh!' said Darrell, surprised and pleased, quite forgetting that she had thought she wouldn't be able to speak a word, "that's exactly what my father said to me when he said goodbye, Miss Grayling!'
'Did he?' said Miss Grayling, looking with smiling eyes at the eager little girl. 'Well, as you have parents who think in that way, I imagine you will be one of the lucky ones, and will find that the things I have been speaking of will be easy to learn. Perhaps one day Malory Towers will be proud of you.'
A few more words and the girls were told to go. Very much impressed they walked out of the room. Not even Gwendoline said a word. Whatever they might do, in the years to come at Malory Towers, each girl wanted, at that moment, to do her best. Whether or not that wish would last, depended on the girl.
Then they went to the Assembly Hall for Prayers, found their places, and waited for Miss Grayling to come to the platform.
Soon the words of a hymn sounded in the big hall. The first day of term had begun. Darrell sang with all her might, happy and excited. What a lot she would have to tell her mother when she wrote!
4 MISS POTTS'S FORM
ALL the school met each morning for prayers. The girls stood together in their classes—first-formers of North Tower, South, East, and West tower, all together, and so on.
Darrell took a nervous look at her class. What a big one it seemed! About twenty-five or thirty girls, surely. Miss Potts, her house-mistress, was also the first-form mistress. There was Mam'zelle Dupont, singing lustily, and the teacher beside her must be the other French mistress. But how different! She was skinny, tall and bony. Her hair too was done up in a little bun, but at the back instead of on top. Darrell thought she looked bad-tempered.