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The O'Sullivan Twins, Page 2

Enid Blyton


  'Am I in the same dormitory as you, Pat?' asked Alison, timidly, as she peeped in at the big bedrooms, where eight girls slept in eight little cubicles each night.

  'I'll ask Hilary,' said Pat. 'She's head-girl of our form, you know, and she'll know. Hie, Hilary ' do you know if our Cousin Alison is in with us, or not?'

  Hilary took out a list of names. ' Dormitory 8,' she read out. 'Hilary Wentworth, Pat and Isabel O'Sullivan, Doris Elward, Kathleen Gregory, Shelia Naylor, Janet Robins and Alison O'Sullivan. There you are ' that's our dormitory list ' same as last term, except that Vera Johns has gone into number 9 ' to make room for Alison, I suppose.'

  'Oh, good,' said Pat. 'You're with us, Alison. That's a bit of luck for you.'

  The three new girls were in the first form with Miss Roberts. The tall, badtempered-looking girl was called Margery Fenworthy. She looked old enough to be in the second form, but the girls soon saw that her work was poor ' not even up to the standard of the first form, really.

  'Isn't she a funny creature?' said Pat to Isabel, after a morning in class with Margery. 'She simply doesn't seem to care a bit what she does or says. I've an idea she can be awfully rude. Goodness ' there'll be a row if she gets across Mam'zelle!'

  Margery Fenworthy kept herself to herself. She was always reading, and if anyone spoke to her she answered so shortly that nobody said any more. She would have been very good looking if she had smiled ' but as Pat said, she always looked as if she wanted to bite somebody's head off!

  Lucy Oriell, the other new girl, was the complete opposite of Margery. She was brilliantly clever, but as she was only fourteen and a half, she was put into the first form for that term at any rate. Nothing was difficult to her. She had a wonderful memory, and was always merry and gay.

  'The way she gabbles French with Mam'zelle!' groaned Doris. 'The way she draws in the art class! The way she recites yard and yards of Shakespeare and it takes me all my time to learn two lines properly.'

  Every one laughed. Doris was a duffer ' with one great talent. She could make people laugh! She could dance well and comically, and she could mimic others perfectly, which made it all the more strange that she could not imitate Mam'zelle's French accent. Every one liked Doris.

  'An absolute idiot ' but such a nice one!' as Janet said.

  'What do you think of the three new girls, Janet?' asked Hilary, biting the end of her pencil as she tried to think out a problem in arithmetic set by Miss Roberts.

  Pat an dIsabel were nearby, listening. Janet shook back her dark hair, and gave her judgment.

  :Lucy Oriell ' top-hole! Clever, responsible, kind and gay. Margery Fenworthy ' a bad-tempered, don't-care creature with some sort of PAST.'

  'Whatever do you mean?' said Pat, astonished.

  'Well, mark my words, there's something behind that funny way Margery has of keeping herself to herself, and of not caring tuppence for anything or anybody,' said Janet, who could be very far-seeing when she wanted to. 'And what does a girl of fifteen want to be so bad-tempered for? I'd just like to know how she got on at her last school. I bet she didn't make any friends!'

  The twins stared across at Margery, who, as usual, had her nose buried in a book. Janet went to the third new girl, Alison.

  'I suppose I mustn't say much about Alison, as she's your cousin ' but if you want my real opinion it's this ' she's a conceited, stuck-up little monkey without a single idea in her pretty little head!'

  'Thanks for your opinions, Janet,' said Hilary, with a laugh. 'You have a wonderful way of putting into words just exactly what every one is thinking ' and doesn't say!'

  Chapter 3: Alison Learns A Lesson

  The Easter term opened very cold and dreary. The girls shivered when they got up in the morning. Alison simply hated getting up. Time after time Hilary stripped the clothes from her, and Alison almost wept with anger. Nothing like that had ever happened at her old school.

  'Don't do that!' she cried, each time. 'I was just going to get up!'

  Every one grinned. They thught Alison was very silly sometimes. She spent ages doing her hair and looking at herself in the glass ' and if she had a spot on her face she moaned about it for days till it went.

  'As if anybody would notice if she had twenty spots!' said Janet, in disgust. 'She's not worth looking at, the vain little thing!'

  In a week or two it seemed to the twins as if they had been back at school for months! Each form was now working steadily to its own time-table. Lacrosse games were played three times a week, and any one could go to the field and practise in their spare time. Gym was held twice a week, and the twins loved that. The new girl, Margery, was excellent at all the things they did in gym.

  'She's strong, isn't she?' said Pat, admiringly, as they watched her climbing up the thick rope that hung down from the ceiling.

  'She plays games and does gym as if she was fighting somebody fiercely all the time!' said Janet, hitting the nail on the head, as usual. 'Look at her gritting her teeth as she climbs that rope. My word, I don't like marking her at lacrosse I can tell you. She's given me some bruises across my knuckles even though I wear padded gloves!'

  Janet showed the bruises. 'She's a savage creature!' said Doris. 'Belinda ticked her off yesterday for deliberately tripping me up on the field. All the same, she'd be a good one to have in a match! If she wanted to shoot a goal she'd jolly well shoot one, even if she had to knock down every single one of the other side!'

  Lucy was a fine lacrosse player too. She had been captain of the lacrosse team at

  her old school, and she was as swift as the wind.

  'She's good at everything, the lucky creature!' said Hilary. 'Have you seen some of her pictures? They are really lovely. She showed me some water-colours she'd done in the hols. with her father. I couldn't believe they were hers. Of course, she gets that from him. He must make a lot of money from his portraits ' no wonder all her dresses are so good.'

  'It's a pity that silly cousin of yours doesn't try a bit harder at games,' said Janet, watching Alison trying to catch a lacrosse ball in her net. It was a very easy throw sent by Kathleen. But Alison miffed it as usual.

  'Alison, haven't you ever played games before?' cried Janet.

  'Yes,' said Alison, flushing. 'But I played hockey ' much better game than this stupid lacrosse. I'd always rather hit a ball than catch it! I was jolly good at hockey, wasn't I, Pat, at Redroofs?'

  Pat did not remember Alison ever being any good at any game, so she said nothing. Belinda Towers came up and spoke to the twins.

  'I say, can't you do something about that silly little cousin of yours? She just stands and bleats at me when I order her to practise catching and throwing! She wants a bit of pep in her.'

  Pat laughed. Alison did bleat ' that was just the right word for it.

  'I'll try to take her in hand,' she said. 'After all, I was pretty awful myself at first, last term ' and I'll try and knock some sense into Alison, in the same way that it was knocked into me and Isabel.'

  'She thinks too much about herself,' said Belinda, in her direct way. 'Stupid, sickly smile, big blue eyes, bleating little voice ' make her skip around a bit, can't you? I really can't stand much more of her.'

  So Pat and Isabel made Alison skip around a bit! She was very indignant indeed.

  'Why do you always make me go and practise this silly catching just when I want to finish my book!' she grumbled. ' Why do you hustle me out for a walk when it's so cold and windy? If you call this looking after me I'd rather you stopped!'

  Soon it was Alison's turn to wait on the two top-formers, Rita George and Katie White! They sent a runner for her at tea-time one day. Alison had just finished her own tea when the message came.

  'Alison! Rita wants you. Buck up. It's your turn to do her jobs this week.'

  'What jobs?' said Alison, crossly, swallowing her last mouthful of cake.

  'How do I know? Making her tea, I expect. And I think the fire's gone out in her room. Yo
u'll have to rake it out and lay it again for her.'

  Alison nearly burst with indignation. 'What, me light a fire! I've never lighted one in my life! I don't even know how to lay one.'

  'If you don't go, Alison, you'll get into a row,' said Isabel. 'Katie White isn't a patient as Rita. Go on. Don't be a ninny.'

  Alison, grumbling under her breath all the while, went slowly off to Rita's study. Rita looked up impatiently as she came in.

  'Good heavens, are you always as slow as this! What bad luck to have you waiting on us this week. We won't get a thing done!'

  'Rake out the fire and lay it again quickly,' said Katie White, in her deep voice. 'There's some paper and sticks in that cupboard. Go on, now ' we've got some other girls coming in for tea.'

  Poor Alison! She raked out the fire as best as she could, got the paper and sticks from the cupboard and put them higgledy-piggledy into the grate. The grate was hot and she burnt her hand when she touched it. She let out a loud squeal.

  'What's the matter?' said Rita, startled.

  'I've burnt my hand on the hot grate,' said Alison, nursing her hand against her chest, though really it hardly hurt at all.

  'Well, really ' did you imagine the grate would be stone-cold after having had a fire in it all day?' asked Rita, impatiently. 'For goodness' sake hurry up and light the fire. There's a box of matches on the mantelpiece.'

  Alison took down the matches. She struck one and held it t the paper; it flared up at once. At the same moment three more big girls came in, chattering. One was Belinda Towers. No one took any notice of the first-former lighting the fire. Alison felt very small and unimportant.

  The paper burnt all away. The sticks of wood did not catch alight at all. Bother! There was no more paper in the cupboard. Alison turned timidly to Rita.

  'Please, where is there some more paper?'

  'On the desk over there,' said Rita, shortly, scowling at Alison. The top-formers went on talking and Alison went to a nearby desk. She looked at the papers there. They were sheets covered with Rita's small neat hand-writing.

  'I suppose it's old work she doesn't want,' thought Alison, and picked it up. She arranged the sheets in the fire-place, and then set a match to them. At the same moment she heard a loud exclamation from Rita.

  'I say! I say! You surely haven't taken my prep. to burn? She has! Oh, the silly donkey, she's taken my French prep.!'

  There was a rush for the fire. Alison was pushed out of the way. Rita tried to pull some of the blazing sheets out ' but the flames had got a good hold of them and she could not save any of her precious prep. It was burnt to black ashes.

  'Alison! How dare you do a thing like that,' cried Rita, in a rage. 'You deserve to have your ears boxed.'

  'I didn't mean to,' said poor Alison, beginning to cry all over the fire-place, near which she was still kneeling. 'You said ' take the paper on the desk over there ' and''

  'Well, can't you tell the difference between yesterday's newspaper and to-day's French prep.?' stormed the angry fifth-former. 'Now I shall have to do an hour's extra work and rewrite all that French!'

  'And she hasn't even lighted the fire yet!' said Belinda Towers. 'Just as stupid at doing household jobs as you are on the sports field, Alison.'

  'Please let me go,' wept Alison, feeling half-dead with shame before the accusing faces of the big girls. 'I can't light a fire. I really can't.'

  'Then it's just about time you learnt,' said Rita, grimly. 'No, where's that paper? Put it like this ' and like this. Now get the sticks. Arrange them so that the flames can lick up them and set the coal alight. Now put some coal on the top. Good heavens, idiot, what's the good of putting an enormous lump like that on top? You've squashed down all the sticks! Take little lumps to start a fire with ' like this.'

  Alison wept all the time, feeling terribly sorry for herself. She held a match to the paper with a shaking hand. It flared up ' the sticks caught ' the coal burnt ' and there was the fire, burning merrily.

  'Now put the kettle on the hob just there, and you can go, baby,' said Katie. 'Where do you get all those tears from? For goodness' sake, come away from the fire or you'll put it out again!:

  Alison crept out of the room, tears running down her cheeks. She stopped at a mirror and looked at herself. She thought that she looked a most sad pathetic sight ' rather like a film-star she had seen crying in a picture. She went back to the common room, sniffing, hoping that every one would sympathize with her.

  But to her surprise, nobody did ' not even kind-hearted Lucy Oriell. Pat looked up and asked her what was up.

  Alison told her tale. When she related how she had burnt Rita's French prep. papers the first-formers looked horrified.

  'Fathead!' said janet, in disgust. 'Letting down our form like that! Golly, the big girls must think we are mutton-heads!'

  'It was awful being rowed at by so many of the big girls,' wept Alison, thinking that she must look a very pathetic sight. But every one was disgusted.

  'Stop it, Alison. You're not in a kindergarten,' said Hilary. 'If you want to behave like an idiot, you must expect the top-formers to treat you like one. For goodness' sake stop sniffing. You look simply awful, I can tell you. Your eyes are red, your nose is swollen, your mouth has gone funny ' you look just as ugly as can be!'

  That made Alison weep really bitterly. Janet lost her temper. 'Either stop, or go out,' she said roughly to Alison. 'If you don't stop I'll put you out of the room myself. You've no right to disturb us all like this.'

  Alison looked up. She saw that sharp-tongue Janet meant what she said. So she stopped crying at once, and the twins grinned at each other.

  'Lesson number one!' whispered Pat.

  Chapter 4: Tessie has a Secret

  The first real excitement of the term was Tessie's birthday. Tessie was a lively girl in the second form, fond of tricks and jokes. She and Janet were a pair! The girls often laughed when they remembered how the term before Janet had thrown fire-works on the schoolroom fire, and given poor Miss Kennedy such a fright.

  'And do you remember how Tessie hid the big black cat in the handwork cupboard, and it jumped out at Miss Kennedy and made her rush out of the room?' giggled Doris. 'Oh, golly ' I've never laughed so much in all my life.'

  Miss Kennedy had gone, and in her place was Miss Lewis, a first-class history-

  teacher. The girls liked her very much, except for one thing ' she would not allow the slightest inattention or cheekiness in her classes. Even free-tongued Janet was a model of good behaviour in Miss Lewis's classes. Only surly Margery seemed to care nothing for anything the history teacher said.

  Tessie had great ideas for her birthday. She knew she would have plenty of money sent to her, and plenty of good things to eat. She was a generous girl, and wanted every one to share.

  But there would not be enough for every one. If Tessie put all her things on the table at tea-time there would only be a tiny bit for each of the forty or fifty first- and second-formers.

  Tessie thought about it. She talked to her great friend, Winnie Thomas.

  'Winnie, don't you think it would be better to share my things amongst a few of my best friends ' and not give every one only a taste?' said Tessie.

  'Yes, I do think that,' said Winnie. 'But when can we give the party? We can't very well just ask a few of the ones we like, and leave the rest to stare jealously!'

  'Well, we'll have to have the party when there's no one there except the ones we ask,' said Tessie. 'And that means ' at night! On my birthday night!'

  'But we can't have it in the dormitory,' said Winnie. 'The others would know then. We must keep it a secret. It won't be any fun if we don't.'

  'We won't have it in the dormitory,' said Tessie. ' But where in the world can we have it, without being found out?' 'I know! We'll have it in that little music-room not far from our dormitory!' said Winnie, her eyes shining. 'It's juts the place. No one ever goes there at night. If we pull down the blinds, and shut the door no one will ever k
now we are there. We mustn't make much noise though ' it's rather near Mam'zelle's study.'

  'It'll be all the more fun if we mustn't make much noise,' giggle Tessie. 'How can we warm that room? It's awfully cold in there, I know, because I had to practise there last week.'

  'Let's borrow an oil-stove out of the cupboard downstairs!' said Winnie. 'Some of them have oil in, I know, because they're not emptied when they are put away in that cupboard.'

  'Good idea!' said Tessie, who liked everything to be as perfect as possible when she planned anything. Then a thought struck her ' 'Oooh, Winnie ' do you think we could fry sausages on top of the oil-stove if I could buy some? I could get some of those tiny little sausages ' I forget what they're called ' the kind people often have to put round chickens?'