Secrets of Malory Towers, Page 2Enid Blyton
‘Is she?’ said June, with a quizzical look at Felicity. ‘Or are you sure that you aren’t mistaken, Felicity?’
In the first-form carriage, meanwhile, Daffy Hope was quickly establishing herself as leader of the first form, the others liking her mischievous nature and sense of fun. For June and Susan were quite right. There were two sides to Daffy Hope. The sweet, well-behaved girl that her family was so proud of was very different from the Daffy her school friends knew.
Indeed, Mrs Hope had been most upset when the form mistress at Daffy’s prep school had spoken to her about the girl’s naughty behaviour.
Daffy had talked her way out of it easily, convincing her mother that the mistress had got her confused with another girl called Daphne, and for the rest of the term she had not dared misbehave. But now that she was away from home, and her parents, it was quite another matter.
Daffy was at a slight advantage to the others, for while they were alone, and feeling rather shy and nervous, she had her best friend from prep school with her.
Katie was Daffy’s partner in mischief, and ably seconded her friend as she kept the first form in stitches.
One person who was not impressed with Daffy, however, was Violet. The only thing that had made her agree to come to school was the thought that she would be able to lord it over the others. She had pictured them vying for her friendship, but instead they were all over that silly Daffy. It simply wouldn’t do!
So Violet raised her voice, and said to the carriage at large, ‘It was my birthday last week.’
No one quite knew what to say to this, so there was an awkward silence, then the girl went on, ‘Mummy and Daddy bought me a kitten, for a present. But it’s not just an ordinary kitten, you know, it’s a pedigree Siamese, and worth an absolute fortune. It would make you stare if I told you how much Daddy had paid for it.’
The girls were staring – in disbelief. But Violet decided that their silence meant that they were very impressed indeed, and went on boastfully, ‘She sleeps in her own special bed, lined with velvet, you know, and has her own toys, and she is fed on chicken and fish, not shop-bought cat food, like ordinary cats. Her name is Princess Willow, but I just call her Willow, for short.’
‘Why not call her Princess, instead?’ asked one of the first formers, Maggie, who felt a little uncomfortable that no one was responding to Violet.
‘Oh, it’s so silly,’ said Violet, putting her hand up to her mouth and giving a little giggle. ‘You see, Princess is Daddy’s nickname for me. So we couldn’t give my kitten the same name.’
‘What a lovely nickname,’ said Daffy very sweetly. ‘You know, Violet, I think we should give you a nickname too. Don’t you agree, girls?’
The others, ready to agree to anything Daffy said, nodded eagerly, while Violet smiled at this. She had read several school stories, and knew that only the most popular girls were given nicknames. She really had made a good impression.
Daffy smiled at her, and said, ‘Yes, I’ve come up with a very good nickname for you, Violet. Your Highness!’
‘Oh!’ said Violet, rather surprised at this odd choice of nickname. ‘Is that because you think I look like a princess?’
‘No,’ answered Daffy. ‘It’s because you’re high and mighty, you’re always on your high horse and you’ve always got your nose stuck high in the air!’
The others roared, while Violet turned red with rage, and gave an infuriated squeal. ‘Even her voice is high!’ laughed Katie.
Violet simmered with rage. How dare that horrid Daffy make fun of her? Oh, she was going to hate it at Malory Towers, she just knew it, with no one to spoil her and pet her, or take her side against these beastly girls. If only she could persuade her parents to take her away!
Back at Malory Towers
It was a very long journey to Malory Towers, but most of the older girls were used to this, and had brought books with them to while away the time if the conversation flagged. The youngsters, however, hadn’t, so they soon became either very bored and restless, or very tired, and fell asleep.
In the sixth-form carriage, only Alice had fallen asleep, while Felicity and Susan read their books, and June and Freddie pored over a crossword puzzle together.
Looking up from her book, Susan happened to glance across at the sleeping Alice, whose glasses had slid sideways across her face, giving her rather a comical look. Susan smiled, then she stared harder at Alice, and whispered, ‘You’re right!’
‘Who’s right?’ said June. ‘And, more importantly, what is she right about?’
‘Alice,’ answered Susan, leaning forward and keeping her voice low, so as not to disturb the sleeping girl. ‘You and Felicity said that she looked familiar, and I couldn’t see it myself, but now I do.’
Alice suddenly shifted position, so that her hair fell over her face, and Freddie said, ‘Blow! I wanted to have a good look, though I really can’t say that I recognised her on first sight.’
‘She seems awfully nervous and timid,’ whispered Susan.
‘Yes, but she’s pleasant enough,’ said Felicity. ‘I expect that Alice will open up a bit when she knows us better.’
‘I wonder if she’s any good at lacrosse?’ said June, ever the games captain. ‘I doubt it somehow. She doesn’t look the sporting type.’
Just then Alice stirred, stretched and sat up, blinking as she pushed her glasses back on to her nose.
The others immediately felt guilty, and hoped that she hadn’t overheard them talking about her, although they hadn’t said anything bad.
But it seemed that Alice hadn’t heard a thing, for she said in her soft voice, ‘Oh dear! Did I fall asleep? How rude of me.’
‘Don’t give it a thought,’ said June airily. ‘We old hands usually bring something to keep us occupied on the journey, so that we don’t drop off.’
‘Well, I shall remember that next term,’ said Alice.
‘At least the worst of the journey is over now,’ said Felicity. ‘We shall be at the station very soon, then we go the rest of the way by coach.’
The first formers were all wide awake when the train stopped at the station, and thoroughly over-excited. But Miss Potts had joined them now, and Daffy Hope, realising that she was a force to be reckoned with, was on her best behaviour, she and Katie walking sedately beside the mistress as they made their way to the big coaches.
Felicity spotted her, noting her sweet expression, and the respectful way in which she looked up at Miss Potts when the mistress addressed her. How on earth could Susan and June, both of them normally so shrewd, have misread her character so badly?
She might have changed her opinion had she been on the same coach as the first formers, and seen Daffy pulling faces behind Miss Potts’s back, and making the others laugh by pushing the tip of her nose up to imitate Violet’s snooty expression each time the girl looked at her.
But the sixth formers were on a different coach, so Felicity remained in blissful ignorance.
Alice seemed very interested as the others pointed out various landmarks to her on the way to Malory Towers, her eyes lighting up as she saw the sea in the distance.
‘We aren’t allowed to swim in it, though,’ Felicity warned her. ‘There was a terrible accident a few years ago, when one of the old sixth formers tried swimming in the sea. The current caught her and pulled her on to some rocks, and she was badly hurt. It was only thanks to June that she didn’t drown. So stick to the school swimming-pool, if you fancy a dip. It’s quite beautiful, you know, for it’s hollowed out of rocks and filled by the sea.’
‘Yes, I remember,’ said Alice, and Felicity stared at her. How on earth could Alice remember the swimming-pool, when she had never been to Malory Towers – unless she was lying?
At once the girl turned red, and said hastily, ‘I mean, I remember my mother telling me about the pool. She saw it, you see, when she came down to see Miss Grayling about me coming here.’
Well, that was perfectly poss
ible, thought Felicity, for Miss Grayling often showed parents who were thinking of sending their girls to Malory Towers around the school, and she always took them to the swimming-pool. And Alice was certainly very nervous and timid, which explained why her manner was rather strange sometimes. So Felicity dismissed her doubts, and turned her attention instead to the first glimpse of Malory Towers, which thrilled her just as much now as it had when she was a first former.
Alice gave a gasp as she saw the beautiful old building perched on the cliff-top. Each of its four towers – North, South, East and West – was a separate house, with its own dormitories, dining-room and common-rooms.
‘Impressive, isn’t it?’ said June, smiling at Alice’s look of wonder.
‘I’ll say,’ breathed Alice. ‘I feel so lucky to be here.’
Moments later, the coaches drew to a stop at the top of the long driveway, and the girls retrieved their night cases from the luggage rack, before getting out.
As always on the first day of term, the grounds were very busy indeed, as girls greeted one another noisily and said goodbye to parents.
June’s sharp eyes spotted some of their fellow sixth formers, and she said, ‘Let’s go and say hallo. Come along, Alice.’
Alice followed meekly in the wake of the others as they made their way across the lawn, and soon she was being introduced to yet more sixth formers. There was the calm, good-tempered Pam and her scatterbrained friend Nora, and the rather snobbish Amy, with her little friend Bonnie.
All four girls greeted Alice, and Pam said, ‘Let’s go and give our health certificates in to Matron. Got yours, Alice?’
The girl nodded, and the sixth formers made their way towards North Tower. They passed several younger girls on the way, and Felicity was amused, and rather touched, to hear the awe in their voices as they greeted her.
Correctly reading her expression, June clapped her on the back and said, ‘You’ll have to get used to it, you know, now that you are Head Girl. The younger ones are bound to look up to you no end.’
‘Of course, you’ve already had experience of it, haven’t you?’ said Felicity, for June had been games captain of the school since she was in the fifth form. ‘I don’t know that I shall ever get used to it, though.’
Matron greeted the sixth formers with a cheery smile, and said, ‘Well, well, it seems hard to believe that you are all top formers now. And fancy you being Head Girl, Felicity! Why, I can remember you coming in here as a shy, rather scared first former. And you too, Susan.’
‘What about me, Matron?’ asked June.
‘You were never shy and scared in your life, June!’ laughed Matron. ‘But I remember you, all right. Now, let me have your health certificates, then I will allocate you your studies.’
The girls listened to this with mingled excitement and sadness.
It would be marvellous to have their own studies, of course, but they would miss the happy times they had shared together in their big common-room.
As Matron handed out study keys, Felicity noticed that Alice was looking rather forlorn, and realised that it was going to be especially hard on the new girl having a study to herself. It would have been much easier for her to get to know the others if they had had a common-room. The sixth formers would have to coax her out of her shell a little, decided Felicity, then she would feel quite comfortable about popping into the others’ studies whenever she felt like a chat.
So Felicity was pleased when Matron said, ‘Felicity, as Alice is the new girl, I have given her the study next door to yours, then you are on hand if she feels a bit lost and lonely.’
‘Good idea, Matron,’ said Felicity, giving the new girl’s arm a friendly squeeze. ‘Don’t worry, Alice, if you need some company in the evenings you can always pop into my study. I’m sure that goes for the others too.’
Everyone agreed at once, though Amy was rather half-hearted. She always chose her friends very carefully indeed, and didn’t think that she would have anything in common with this rather plain, dull girl.
The sixth formers were simply dying to see their studies, and unpacked as quickly as possible. There were four more sixth formers in the dormitory, already putting their things away, when the girls arrived – Gillian, Delia, Julie and Lucy, and the others greeted them happily.
‘Hallo! Had good hols?’
‘Have you been to Matron yet and got your study keys?’
‘My word, Gillian, just look at all your freckles! You must have spent all summer out in the sun.’
‘Julie, I suppose you’ve brought Jack with you, as usual. And Lucy, how is Sandy?’
Julie and Lucy were both horse-mad, and brought their horses, Jack and Sandy, to school with them each term. The two girls were great friends, and, over the years, their horses had become great friends too, Lucy swearing that Sandy pined during the holidays when he couldn’t be with Jack.
‘Do hurry up and unpack, everyone,’ said Gillian, who was busy tying back her mane of auburn hair. ‘We’re simply dying to see our studies. Matron has put Delia and I next to one another, so we are both very pleased.’
Felicity looked at Gillian’s friend Delia, who was beaming all over her face, and thought how much the girl had changed since starting at Malory Towers.
Delia had been rather diffident and lacking in confidence as a new girl, but then, almost by accident, she had discovered that she possessed a wonderful talent for singing and writing songs. That, along with the friendship she had forged with Gillian, had done wonders for her confidence, and Delia had blossomed. She was still – as she said herself – a complete duffer at lessons, and would never be top of the class, but she was a pleasant, kind-hearted girl, popular with everyone.
The sixth-form studies were on the floor below the dormitory, and each girl opened the door of her own little room with a feeling of anticipation. They were furnished with a desk and chair, as well as a comfortable armchair, and had a bookcase on which the girls could put personal belongings, such as photographs, as well as their books.
Felicity wasted no time in getting out a framed photograph of her parents and sister, Darrell, but instead of placing it on a shelf, she put it on her desk, so that she would be able to see it every time she looked up from her work.
There was a great deal of to-ing and fro-ing as the girls went up and downstairs to fetch things to make their studies look more ‘homely’, as Nora put it. Then, of course, they had to visit everyone else’s rooms and give their opinions.
‘I say, Felicity’s is bigger than ours, and she has two armchairs. Most unfair!’
‘Well, the Head Girl always gets the biggest study.’
‘Ours are much cosier, anyway, though I can’t say I’m awfully keen on the curtains in mine.’
Most of the girls had added a photograph of their parents, or a beloved pet, or some other little touch to show who the study belonged to. Bonnie had spent the holidays embroidering a beautiful cushion, which she had placed proudly on the armchair. And Nora’s mother had given her a little vase, while Susan’s had donated a small table-lamp.
But one little study remained curiously bereft of all personal belongings, and that was Alice’s.
‘Haven’t you brought a photograph of your family?’ asked Pam.
‘I meant to, but I must have forgotten to pack it,’ said the girl rather dolefully. ‘I must say, my poor little study looks awfully plain next to yours. I shall have to write to Mother and get her to send me something to brighten it up.’
‘If you like, Alice, I can make you a cushion,’ offered Bonnie, taking pity on the girl. ‘Just like mine, but in different colours.’
Alice’s face lit up at this, but before she could accept, June said, ‘Oh no, you can’t, my girl. Not if you’re studying for Higher Cert. You’ll have no time for sewing or embroidery.’
Bonnie’s face fell, and June went on wickedly, ‘Unless, of course, you’ve changed your mind and decided that it’s too much like hard work.’
Nothing of the sort!’ declared Bonnie, a firm set to her delicate little chin. ‘I’m going in for Higher Cert, all right, and I jolly well intend to pass with flying colours!’
‘That’s the spirit, Bonnie!’ said Lucy, patting the girl on the back.
‘Oh well, it looks as if you’ll have to send for something from home after all, Alice,’ said Delia.
‘I shall make you a cushion once the exams are over, Alice,’ said Bonnie. ‘That’s a promise.’
Just then the bell went for tea, which everyone was very glad of, for they were all extremely hungry.
As they made their way down to the big dining-room, the sixth formers were overtaken by a noisy horde of first formers, Daffy Hope among them, and Felicity called out, ‘Less noise, please, kids! I know you’re all excited, but do try to calm down a little.’
‘Sorry, Felicity,’ said Daffy, at her most demure, and Felicity grinned to herself as the youngsters went on their way, slightly more quietly. Little monkeys! Even sweet, angelic Daffy was getting caught up in the first-day excitement. And who could blame her, for surely there wasn’t a better place to be than Malory Towers.
Who is Alice?
After breakfast the following morning, all of the new girls had to go and see Miss Grayling, the Head mistress.
Almost all of the first formers were new, and there were quite a lot of them, so they went in first. Then it was the turn of the other new girls, including Alice. As Head Girl, Felicity escorted them all to the Head’s room, then she sat outside on a chair, waiting for Alice, so that she could show her the way to the sixth-form classroom.
Miss Grayling was a serene, calm-faced woman, with startlingly blue eyes, which could look very cold when she was angry, or twinkle brightly if she was amused. She was also extremely shrewd, and had an extraordinary ability to read the characters of the girls who stood before her. As she addressed each girl, asking her name and her form, her eyes seemed to linger on Alice, for she knew a great deal about the girl. The sixth formers would have been very surprised indeed if they had known all that Miss Grayling knew!