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Third Year at Malory Towers, Page 2

Enid Blyton

  She set off towards Zerelda. But Zerelda did not look at all lost or bewildered. She looked thoroughly at home, with a tiny smile on her red mouth as if she was really rather amused by everything going on around her.

  Before Darrell could reach her someone else spoke to Zerelda.

  'Are you a new girl? I believe you are in North Tower. If you'd like to come with me I'll show you round a bit.'

  'Gee, that's kind of you,' said Zerelda, in her slow drawl.

  'Look,' said Darrell, in disgust. 'There's Gwendoline Mary all over her already! Trust her She just adores anyone like Zerelda. Zerelda, come with us. We'll take you to Matron.'

  'I'll look after her, Darrell,' said Gwendoline, turning her large pale-blue eyes on Darrell. 'You go and look for Sally.'

  'Sally's not coming back yet,' said Darrell, 'She's in quarantine. I'll look after Zerelda. She came down with us.'

  'You can both take me around,' said Zerelda, charmingly, and smiled her slow smile at Gwendoline. Gwen slipped her arm through Zerelda's and took her up the steps into the hall.

  Alicia grinned. 'Let's hope dear Gwen will take her off our hands for good," she said. 'But 1 suppose she'll be in a much higher form. She looks about eighteen!'

  The groans of Irene attracted their attention. 'Oh, Irene! I simply don't believe you've lost your health certificate again,' said Darrell. 'Nobody could possible lose it term after term as you do."

  'Well, 1 have,' said Irene. 'Do come to Matron now and stand by me.'

  So they all went to find Matron. Darrell and Alicia gave


  up their health certificates. Matron looked at Irene.

  I've lost it, Matron,' said Irene. 'The worst of it is I don't even remember having it today! I mean, 1 usually remember Mother giving it to me, anyhow—but I don't even remember that this time. My memory's getting worse than ever.'

  'Your mother came to see me not ten minutes ago,' said Matron, 'and she gave me your certificate herself. Go away, Irene, or you'll make me lose it too!'

  Gwendoline brought Zerelda to Matron. Matron stared as if she couldn't believe her eyes. 'Who's this? Oh—Zerelda Brass. Yes, you're in North Tower. Is this your health certificate? She's in your dormy, Gwendoline. Take her there--and—er—get her ready to go down for a meal.'

  Darrell grinned at Alicia, and Alicia winked back. Matron wouldn't be quite so polite about Zerelda tomorrow.

  'Come on,' said Alicia. 'Let's go and unpack our night-cases. I've heaps to tell you, Darrell!'


  ·ANY more new girls coming, have you heard?' Darrell asked Alicia.

  'Yes, one. Somebody called Wilhelmina,' said Alicia. 'She's coming tomorrow. One of my brothers knows one of her brothers. When he heard she was coming here, he whistled like anything and said, "Bill will wake you up all right!'"

  'Who's Bill?'said Darrell.

  'Wilhelmina, apparently,' said Alicia, taking the things out of her night-case. 'She's got seven brothers! Imagine it! Sevenl And she's the only girl.'

  'Golly!' said Darrell, trying to imagine what it would be like to have seven brothers. She had none. Alicia had three. But seven!

  'I should think she's half a boy herself then,' said Darrell.

  'Probably,' said Alicia. 'Blow, where's my toothbrush? I know I packed it.'

  'Look—there's Mavis!' said Darrell. Alicia looked up. Mavis had been a new girl last term. She had not been a great success, because she was lazy and selfish. She had a beautiful voice, pure and sweet, but curiously deep—a most unusual voice that was being well trained.

  Mavis was proud of her voice and proud of the career she was going to have. 'When I'm an opera-singer,' she was always saying, 'I shall sing in Milan. I shall sing in New York. When I'm an opera-singer, I shall...'

  The others got very tired of hearing about Mavis's future career. But they were most impressed with her strong, deep voice, that could easily fill the great school hall. It was so rich and sweet that even the little ones listened in delight.





  'But the worst of Mavis is that she thinks she's just perfect because she's got such a lovely voice,' Jean had complained a dozen times the term before. Jean was head-girl of the third form, and very blunt and forthright. 'She doesn't see that she's only just a schoolgirl, with duties to do, and work to get through, and games to play. She's always thinking of that voice of hers—and it's wonderful, we all know that. But what a pity to have a wonderful voice in such a poor sort of person!'

  Darrell hadn't liked Mavis. She looked at her now. She saw a discontented, conceited little face, with small dark eyes and a big mouth. Auburn hair was plaited into two thick braids.

  'Mavis is all voice and vanity and nothing else,' she said to Alicia. 'I know that sounds horrid, but it's true.'

  'Yes,' said Alicia, and paused to glance at Mavis too. 'And yet. Darrell, that girl will have a wonderful career with that voice of hers, you know. It's unique, and she'll have the whole world at her feet later on. The trouble is that she knows it now.'

  T wonder if Gwendoline will still go on fussing round her, now she's seen Zerelda?' said Darrell. Gwendoline, always ready to fawn round anyone gifted, rich or beautiful, had run round Mavis in a ridiculous way the term before. But then Gwendoline Mary never learnt that one should pick one's friends for quite different things. She was quite unable to see why Darrell liked Sally, or why Daphne liked little Mary-Lou, or why everyone liked honest, trustable Jean.

  'Where's Betty?' asked Darrell. T haven't seen her yet." Betty was Alicia's best friend, as clever and amusing as Alicia, and almost as sharp-tongued. She was not in North Tower, much to Alicia's sorrow. But Miss Grayling, the Head Mistress, did not intend to put the two girls into the same house. She was sorry they.were friends, because they were too alike, and got each other into trouble continually because of their happy-go-lucky, don't-care ways.

  'Betty's not coming back till half-term,' said Alicia, gloomily. 'She's got whooping-cough. Imagine it—six weeks before she can come back. She's only just started it. I heard yesterday.'

  'Oh, I say—you'll miss her, won't you,' said Darrell. T shall miss Sally too.'

  'Well, we'll just have to put up with each other, you and I, till Betty and Sally come back,' said Alicia. Darrell nodded. Alicia amused her. She was always fun to be with, and even when her tongue was sharpest, it was witty. Alicia was lucky. She had such good brains that she could play the fool all she liked and yet not lose her place in class.

  'But if / do that, I slide down to the bottom at once,' thought Darrell. 'I've got quite good brains but I've got to use them all the time. Alicia's brains seem to work whether she uses them or not!'

  Mary-Lou came up. She had grown a little taller, but she was still the same rather scared-looking girl. 'Hallo!' she said. 'Wherever did you pick Zerelda up, Darrell? I hear she came down with you. How old is she? Eighteen?'

  'No. Nearly sixteen,' said Darrell. T suppose Gwendoline is sucking up to her already? Isn't she the limit? I say, what do you suppose Miss Potts will say when she sees Zerelda?'

  Miss Potts was the house-mistress of North Tower, and, like Matron, not very good at putting up with nonsense of any sort. Most of the girls had been in her form, because she taught the bottom class. They liked her and respected her. A few girls, such as Gwendoline and Mavis, feared her, because she could be very sarcastic over airs and graces, or pretences of any sort.

  Darrell felt rather lost without Sally there to laugh with and talk to. She was glad to walk downstairs with Alicia. Belinda came bouncing up.

  'Where's Sally? Darrell, I did some wizard sketching in the hols. I went to the circus, and I've got a whole book of





  circus sketches. You should just see the clowns!'

/>   'Show the book to us this evening,' said Darrell, eagerly. Everyone loved Belinda's clever sketches. She really had a gift for drawing, but, unlike Mavis, she was not forever thinking and talking of it, or of her future career. She was a jolly school girl first and foremost, and an artist second.

  'Seen Irene?' said Alicia. Belinda nodded. Irene was her friend, and the two were very well-matched. Irene was talented at music and maths, but a scatterbrain at everything else. Belinda was talented at drawing, quite fair at other lessons, and a scatterbrain almost as bad as Irene. The class had great fun with them.

  'Seen Zerelda?' asked Darrell, with a grin. That was the question everyone asked that evening. 'Seen Zerelda?' No one had ever seen a girl quite like Zerelda before.

  At supper that night there was a great noise. Everyone was excited. Mam'zelle Dupont beamed at the table of the third-formers of North Tower.

  'You have had good holidays?' she enquired of every¬one. 'You have been to the theatre and the pantomime and the circus? Ah, you are all ready to work hard now and do some very good translations for me. N 'est-ce pas?'

  There was a groan from the girls round the table. 'No, Mam'zelle! Don't let's do French translations this term. We've forgotten all our French!'

  Mam'zelle looked round the table for any new face. She always made a point of being extra kind to new girls. She suddenly caught sight of Zerelda and stared in amazement. Zerelda had done her hair again, and her golden roll stood out on top. Her lips were suspiciously red. Her cheeks were far too pink.

  'This girl, she is made up for the films!' said Mam'zelle to herself. 'Oh, la la Why has she come here? She is not a young girl. She looks old—about twenty! Why has Miss Grayling taken her here? She is not for Malory Towers.'

  Zerelda seemed quite at home. She ate her supper very composedly. She was sitting next to Gwendoline, who was trying to make her talk. But Zerelda was not like Mavis, willing to talk for hours about herself. She answered Gwendoline politely enough.

  'Have you lived all your life in America? Do you think you'll like England?' persisted Gwendoline.

  T think England's just wunnerful,' said Zerelda, for the sixth time. 'I think your little fields are wunnerful, and your little old houses. I think the English people are wunnerful too.'

  'Wunnerful, isn't she?' said Alicia, under her breath to Darrell. 'Just wunnerful.'

  Everyone had to go early to bed on the first night, because most of the girls had had long journeys down to Cornwall. In fact, before supper was over there were many loud yawns to be heard.

  Zerelda was surprised when Gwendoline informed her that they had to go to bed that night just about eight o'clock. 'Only just tonight though,' said Gwendoline. 'Tomorrow the third-formers go at nine.'

  'At nine,'' said Zerelda, astonished. 'But in my country we go when we like. I shall never go to sleep so early.'

  'Well, you slept in the car all right,' Darrell couldn't help saying. 'So you must be tired.'

  They all went to the common-room after supper, chose their lockers, argued, switched on the wireless, switched it off again, yawned, poked the fire, teased Mary-Lou because she jumped when a spark flew out, and then sang a few songs.

  Mavis's voice dominated the rest. It really was a most remarkable voice, deep and powerful. It seemed impossible that it should come from Mavis, who was not at all well-grown for her age. One by one the girls fell silent and listened. Mavis sang on. She loved the sound of her own voice.


  ' Wunnerful!' said Zerelda, clapping loudly when the song was ended. 'Ree-markable!'

  Mavis looked pleased. "When I'm an opera-singer,' she began.

  Zerelda interrupted her. 'Oh, that's what you're going to be, is it? Gee, that's fine. I'm going in for films!'

  ·Films! What do you mean? A film-actress?' said Gwendoline Mary, her eyes wide.

  'Yes. I act pretty well already,' said Zerelda. not very modestly. 'I'm always acting at home. I'm in our Dramatic Society, of course, and last year at college I acted Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare. Gee, that was...'

  'Wunnerful!' said Alicia, Irene and Belinda all together. Zerelda laughed.

  'I guess I don't say things the way you say them,' she said, good-naturedly.

  'You'll have a chance to show how well you can act, this very term,' said Gwendoline, remembering something. 'Our form's got to act a play— "Romeo and Juliet". You could be Juliet.'

  'That depends on Miss Hibbert,' said Daphne's voice at once. Daphne had already imagined herself in Juliet's part. 'Miss Hibbert's our English mistress, Zerelda, and...'

  'Bed, girls,' said Miss Potts' voice at the door. 'Eight o'clock! Come along, everyone, or you'll never be up in the morning!'


  IT was fun settling in the next day. The girls rushed into the third form classroom, which overlooked the courtyard and had a distant view of the sea.

  'Zerelda's to go to the fourth form classroom,' said Jean, looking round for the American girl. 'She's not with us after all.'

  'I didn't think I would be,' said Zerelda. 'I'm much older.'

  Jean looked at her. 'Zerelda,' said Jean, 'I'd better give you a word of advice. Miss Williams, the fourth form mistress, won't like your hair-style—or your lipstick either. You'd better alter your hair and rub that awful stuff off your lips before you go to the fourth form. Anyway, they'll rag you like anything if you don't.'

  'Why should I do what you tell me?' said Zerelda, on her dignity at once. She thought a great deal of her appearance and could not bear to have it remarked on by these proper little English girls.

  'Well, I'm head-girl of this form,' said Jean. 'That's why I 'm bothering to tell you. Just to save you getting into trouble,'

  'But Zerelda's hair looks lovely,' said Gwendoline, who always resented having to have her own hair tied neatly, instead of in a golden sheet over her shoulders.

  Nobody took the slightest notice of Gwendoline's bleating.

  'Well, thanks all the same, Jean, but I'm not going to make myself into a little pig-tailed English schoolgirl,' said Zerelda, in her lazy, rather insolent drawl. 'I guess I couldn't look like you, anyway. Look at you all, plain as pie! You ought to let me have a try at making you up—I'd soon get you some looks!'




  Daphne, who fancied herself as very pretty, laughed scornfully.

  'Nobody wants to look a scarecrow like you! Honestly, if you could see yourself!'

  T have,' said Zerelda. T looked in the glass this morning!'

  'When you're in Rome, you must do as Rome does,' said Jean, solemnly.

  'But I'm not in Rome,' said Zerelda.

  'No. It's a pity you aren't!' said Alicia. 'You'll wish you were in three minutes' time when Miss Williams catches sight of you. Go on into the classroom next door for goodness' sake. Miss Williams will be along in half a minute. So will our teacher, Miss Peters. She'd have a blue fit if she saw you.'

  Zerelda grinned good-humouredly, and went off to find her classroom. As she got to the door Miss Williams came hurrying along to the fourth-formers. She and Zerelda met at the door.

  Miss Williams had no idea that Zerelda was one of her form. The girl looked so grown-up. Miss Williams blinked once or twice, trying to remember who Zerelda was. Could she be one of the new assistant mistresses?

  'Er—let me see now—you are Miss Miss—er ... Miss ...'began Miss Williams.

  'Zerelda,' said Zerelda, obligingly, thinking it was a queer thing if the mistresses all called the girls 'Miss'.

  'Miss Zerelda,' said Miss Williams, still not realising anything. 'Did you want me, Miss Zerelda?'

  Zerelda was rather astonished. 'Well—er—not exactly,' she said. 'I was told to come along to your class. I'm in the fourth form.'

  'Good heavens!' said Miss Williams, weakly. 'Not—not one of the girls?'

  'Yes, Miss Williams,' said
Zerelda, thinking that the teacher was acting very queerly. 'Say, haven't I done right? Isn't this the classroom?"

  'Yes,' said Miss Williams, recovering herself all at once. 'This is the fourth form room. But you can't come in like that. What's that thing you've got on the top of your head?'

  Zerelda looked even more astonished. Had she got a hat on by mistake? She felt to see. No, there was no hat there.

  'There's nothing on my head,' she said.

  'Yes, there is. What's this thing?' said Miss Williams, patting the enormous roll of hair that Zerelda had pinned there in imitation of one of the film-stars.

  'That? Oh, that's a bit of my hair,' said Zerelda, wondering if Miss Williams was a little mad. 'It really is my hair, Miss Williams. I've just rolled the front part up and pinned it.'

  Miss Williams looked in silence at the roll of brassy coloured hair and the cascades of curls down Zerelda's neck. She peered at the too-red lips. She even looked at the curling cye-lashes to make sure they were real and not stuck on.

  'Well, Zerelda, I can't have you in my class like this,' she said, looking very prim and bird-like. 'Take down that roll of hair. Tie it all back. Clean your lips. Come back to the room in five minutes.'

  And with that she disappeared into the form room and the door was shut. Zerelda stared after her. She patted the roll of hair on top. What was the matter with it? Didn't it make her look exactly like Lossie Laxton, the film-star she admired most of all?

  Zerelda frowned. What a school! Here were a whole lot of girls, all growing up fast, and not one of them knew how to do her hair, not one of them looked smart—'and I bet they're all as stupid as owls,' said Zerelda, out loud.

  She decided to go along and do something to her hair. That prim and proper Miss Williams might say something to the Head. Zerelda had been very much impressed with Miss Grayling and the little talk she had had with her. What had Miss Grayling said? Something about learning to be good-hearted and kind, sensible and trustable, good, sound women