Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font  

Summer Term at Malory Towers, Page 2

Enid Blyton

  Then Eleanor squealed, for June suddenly shook her head violently, sending drops of water all over the fifth former.

  ‘How dare you!’ she gasped, pulling a handkerchief from her pocket and dabbing at her dress.‘Just look what you’ve done!’

  ‘But you told me to shake my head,’ said June, staring innocently at Eleanor, as the rest of the third formers struggled to hide their smiles.

  ‘I said shake a leg,’ said Eleanor, through gritted teeth. ‘As you very well know!’

  ‘Oh, did you?’ said June.‘Sorry, Eleanor. I must have some water in my ears.’

  Eleanor glared angrily at the girl, but at that moment someone called her name and she turned to see Bella Coombes, head of the fifth form, beckoning her over.

  ‘Saved by the Bella!’ quipped June, as Eleanor stalked away, and the others laughed.

  ‘You’d better watch out for Eleanor, June,’ warned Pam.‘She’s always had it in for you, and she’ll be even worse now.’

  ‘Pooh!’ said June scornfully.‘The Ice Queen will never get the better of me!’

  ‘Was that the Head Girl?’ Lucy asked Julie, as they made their way back to the school.

  ‘No, Eleanor just thinks that she’s Head Girl,’ answered Julie drily.‘Mean beast! She came to Malory Towers last term because her parents went abroad. Her aunt and uncle live near Five Oaks, so she stays with them during the holidays.’

  ‘If you ask me, Eleanor’s parents went abroad to get away from her,’ said June‘And I can’t say that I blame them. Still, I daresay that her pitiful attempts to make trouble for me will provide us with some amusement this term.’

  ‘I daresay they will,’ said Felicity, grinning. What a super term this was going to be. Oh, it was good to be back at school!


  The new girls

  There was a surprise in store for the third formers as they poured noisily into their dormitory in the North Tower. Amy and Bonnie were there, unpacking, and with them was another new girl! She was talking to Bonnie when the girls entered, and had her back to the door, but Felicity and Susan recognised her at once as the willowy blonde girl who had been in the big American car.

  Then she turned, and the third formers gasped in astonishment. For her face was almost identical to Lucy’s! It was the same shape, had the same bright blue eyes and the same wide, generous mouth. But where Lucy looked boyish, this girl, with her blonde curls and sophisticated air, was very feminine indeed. And while Lucy strode briskly, the new girl was so graceful that she seemed almost to glide as she moved across to her bed.

  The third formers greeted Amy and Bonnie, then Bonnie gestured towards the new girl and said in her soft voice, ‘Have you met Esme yet?’

  ‘No, we haven’t,’ said Felicity, smiling at the new girl.‘Welcome to the third form, Esme. Lucy, you never told us that you had a twin!’

  But Lucy was looking every bit as startled as the others, and not at all pleased. She said rather curtly now, ‘She’s not my twin. In fact, we aren’t even sisters. Esme and I are cousins.’

  ‘Golly!’ exclaimed Freddie, looking from one to the other.‘The likeness is quite astonishing!’

  ‘Our mothers are twins.’ Esme spoke for the first time, and the others were surprised to hear her American accent. Most of the girls had never heard one before, except in films, and it was quite fascinating to listen to. She was rather fascinating to look at too, and seemed a lot more grown-up than the other girls. She was wearing lipstick, Felicity realised disapprovingly, and she had mascara on her eyelashes too. But how silly of her to want to wear make-up, when she was naturally so very pretty anyway.

  Lucy was obviously very put out by her cousin’s arrival and asked rather brusquely, ‘What are you doing here, Esme?’

  ‘Gee, it’s nice to see you too, cousin,’ drawled the girl, raising her eyebrows.‘I’m here for the same reason as you, I imagine. To get an education.’

  ‘Surely they have schools in America,’ said Lucy sharply, and the listening girls goggled, quite taken aback at her rudeness. Felicity looked at her hard and wondered if the first, favourable impression that Lucy had made on her had been false.

  Esme, however, didn’t seem at all upset, and merely replied calmly, ‘Sure they do—very good ones. But Mother missed England, so we moved back here last month and we’re going to be staying for a while.’

  Lucy looked absolutely furious at this and snapped, ‘Well, the school you went to in America can’t have been that good, for you’re a year older than me and should be in the fourth form, not the third.’

  The third formers drank all this in avidly, casting sidelong glances at Esme to see how she was taking this. And they had to admire her composure when she refused to rise to Lucy’s baiting and said matter-of-factly, ‘Miss Grayling and Mother decided between them that it would be best to spend my first term in the third form, seeing as I’ve been studying different things from you girls. If all goes well, I’ll go up into a higher form next term. So I guess you’ll just have to get used to having me around for a while, Lucy.’

  As though she didn’t trust herself to speak, Lucy turned away from her cousin abruptly and began to get changed. The third formers were simply bursting with curiosity as to what could be behind the hostility between the cousins, but of course they were far too well-mannered to pry.

  Lucy wasn’t the only one who wasn’t very impressed with the new girl, for Amy also looked down her rather long nose at her, Felicity noticed. She felt quite sorry for Esme, who seemed very easy-going and good-natured, and asked, ‘How long have you lived in America?’

  ‘About four years,’ answered Esme.‘You see, my father’s American and he met my mother when he was working over here. After the two of them married, they settled in England. They wanted to live here for good, but…well, things just didn’t work out, so we all moved to America. I loved it there, but Mother always felt homesick. She was so happy to come back home.’

  ‘How is Aunt Maggie?’ asked Lucy, unexpectedly, her expression softening a little.

  ‘She’s fine,’ answered Esme.‘Just fine. And Aunt Janet?’

  ‘She’s very well, thank you,’ said Lucy stiffly.

  There was an awkward little silence, which was broken by the sound of a bell ringing, and Nora cried, ‘Teatime! Thank goodness, I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.’

  ‘Don’t say that in front of Julie and Lucy,’ laughed Pam.‘They’ll have visions of you stalking Jack and Sandy with a knife and fork!’

  ‘Gee, do you still have Sandy?’ said Esme, turning to her cousin.‘He was little more than a foal when I left England.’

  ‘Yes,’ answered Lucy.‘He’s stabled just along the road from here.’

  ‘It’ll be nice to see him again,’ Esme said, as the third formers began to make their way down the stairs.‘I always had a soft spot for Sandy.’

  Lucy didn’t look thrilled at the idea of Esme getting too close to her beloved Sandy, and before she could dish out another rebuff to her cousin, Pam asked hastily, ‘Do you ride, Esme?’

  ‘Not very well,’ answered the girl, with a rueful smile.‘I like horses, but I get a little nervous when I’m in the saddle. It always seems such an awfully long way from the ground!’

  The others laughed at this, all except Lucy, who scowled fiercely at her cousin. Julie felt a little disappointed in her. Lucy had seemed so happy and friendly at first, but since Esme’s arrival she had gone all sulky and moody, making everyone else feel rather uncomfortable. And Julie couldn’t see any reason for it. Because, although Esme was very different from the other girls, she seemed perfectly pleasant and friendly. As though sensing that Julie was unhappy, Lucy took her arm and pulled her aside from the others as they entered the dining-room.

  ‘I’m sorry,’ she said contritely.‘I didn’t mean to cause an atmosphere, truly I didn’t.’

  There was an earnest expression in her blue eyes, and suddenly Lucy looked much more like the nice, fun-loving girl
Julie had been introduced to at Five Oaks.

  ‘But I don’t understand why you’re so hard on Esme,’ said Julie.‘She is your cousin, after all.’

  Lucy bit her lip and said, ‘I don’t want to say too much at the moment, but…well, there was a big falling out between our families a few years ago, and the two of us haven’t seen one another, or spoken, since.’

  Julie felt quite saddened by this, thinking what a lot of unhappiness was caused when families rowed. But the two cousins both seemed like good-hearted girls, and perhaps being at school together would give them the chance to patch up their differences. Lucy certainly seemed determined to brush her cares aside now, and, pinning a bright smile on her face, she clapped Julie on the shoulder and said, ‘Don’t take any notice of me! As Esme said, she’s here for a while and I’ll just have to get used to it. I certainly don’t intend to let her spoil my time at Malory Towers, or the fun that you and I are going to have together with Jack and Sandy.’

  ‘That’s more like it!’ said Julie happily, returning the girl’s smile.‘Now come on, let’s go and get some tea before the others polish everything off.’

  First-night suppers at Malory Towers were always marvellous, and tonight was no exception. There was cold chicken, potato salad and big juicy tomatoes, followed by the most delicious apple pie with cream. Jugs of ice-cold lemonade stood on the tables, and the girls helped themselves to big glasses as they ate.

  ‘Gee, this food sure is good!’ said Esme, tucking into her second slice of apple pie.

  ‘Wizard!’ said Susan, doing likewise.

  ‘Wizard?‘ repeated Esme, looking puzzled.‘What does that mean?’

  ‘It means super, smashing, first-rate, top-hole,’ explained June, with a grin.‘Or, as you Americans would say, wunnerful!’

  ‘Esme’s not American,’ protested Freddie, as the others laughed.‘She was born in England and spent most of her life here, so she’s English.’

  ‘Well, gee, she sure sounds American,’ said Nora in a fine imitation of Esme’s accent. Everyone laughed, and Esme said with a grin, ‘That was just wizard, Nora.’

  Then the third formers began to point out various girls and mistresses to the two cousins, Felicity saying, ‘That’s Kay Foster, the Head Girl, and the big girl next to her is Amanda Chartelow, the games captain. They’re both good sorts, though Amanda has a bit of a temper at times.’

  ‘Yes, but she’s hot-tempered rather than bad-tempered,’ said Susan.‘And she only gets really angry with people who are lazy, or don’t make an effort when it comes to games.’

  Esme looked rather dismayed at this and said, ‘Do you play a lot of games here, then?’

  ‘You bet,’ said Pam.‘The tennis-courts are simply marvellous. If you like, I’ll take you to see them after tea.’

  ‘No, thanks, Pam,’ said Esme, with a laugh.‘I’m afraid I’m not very interested in games or sports of any kind. I have better things to do!’

  She sounded quite scornful and the others felt a little annoyed, June asking with deceptive sweetness, ‘And just how do you spend your valuable time, Esme? Painting your nails? Dear me, I’d love to be a fly on the wall when you tell Amanda that you can’t come to tennis practice because you’re busy doing your hair! My goodness, she’ll drag you out on to that tennis-court with your hair curlers in!’

  Lucy and one or two others laughed rather unkindly, while Esme looked taken aback and turned red.‘I didn’t mean to cause any offence,’ she said. ‘It’s just that at my old school, in America, we didn’t have to go in for games if we didn’t want to.’

  ‘Well, I’m afraid you’ll have to at Malory Towers, Esme, whether you like it or not,’ said Felicity.‘Everyone does.’

  ‘Unless you can find a way of getting out of them,’ put in Bonnie. She was a very small, rather doll-like girl, with big eyes and soft brown curls. But her appearance was deceptive, for Bonnie was a determined and resourceful character, who always found the most ingenious ways to get out of doing anything that she didn’t want to do.

  Esme liked Bonnie and her friend, Amy, and felt that she had a lot more in common with them than these other, rather hearty English girls. They were nice, feminine girls who took pride in their appearance and could think of more important things than chasing balls around, or plunging into an icy-cold swimming-pool! But although Bonnie seemed friendly enough, Amy was a bit stuck-up and rather cool towards her. Esme had caught the girl giving her one or two cold, haughty stares and wondered what she could possibly have done to offend Amy. But maybe that was the way she looked at everyone—after all, with a nose that long how could she help but look down it at people?

  In fact, Amy had decided that Esme was rather vulgar and common, with that dreadful American drawl and that awful make-up. Didn’t she realise how cheap she made herself look? She was surprised and displeased with Bonnie for paying the girl so much attention, and looked very unhappy now as Esme turned to Bonnie and began to talk about fashions. This was a subject close to Amy’s heart, and normally she would have joined in, but her dislike of the new girl stopped her, and, instead, she sat there pushing the food around her plate, a scowl on her face.

  ‘Just look at Amy,’ whispered June to Freddie.‘She’s not at all pleased to see Bonnie making friends with Esme. I suppose she thinks that Esme is beneath her notice.’

  ‘It hasn’t taken Amy long to get back to her old, snobbish self again!’ said Freddie.‘I did think, for a while, that she was going to forget her stuck-up ways and become one of us, but now that she has got over the shock of finding out that her mother’s family isn’t as grand as she believed, she is just as bad as she was before!’

  Just then, plump little Mam’zelle Dupont, one of the school’s two French mistresses bustled across. She had just arrived back from her holiday in France, and looked relaxed and happy as she sat down at the head of the table, crying, ‘Ah, how good it is to see you all back again! Well rested and ready to work hard at your French.’

  ‘Heavens, Mam’zelle, we shan’t have any time for French this term,’ said June, with a wicked grin.‘We shall be far too busy with other things. Swimming, for one.’

  ‘And horse-riding,’ put in Julie.

  ‘And tennis,’ said Felicity.‘Really, Mam’zelle, I don’t know if we will have time to do any work at all!’

  ‘Ah, you tease me, bad girls!’ said Mam’zelle, smiling indulgently as she piled her plate with food.‘But I see we have two new girls—twins!’

  ‘They aren’t twins, Mam’zelle,’ explained Pam.‘Lucy and Esme are cousins.’

  ‘But they are so alike!’ exclaimed Mam’zelle, scrutinising the two new girls so closely that they both became quite red with embarrassment. ‘Yet, in some ways, not alike.’ There was a slightly stern note in her tone, for she now saw that Esme was wearing make-up—and Mam’zelle did not approve of such things. But then the girl said something to Nora, and Mam’zelle, realising that she was American, softened towards her. American girls were different, thought the French mistress, philosophically. They seemed to grow up faster than English girls, and had different ideas. Once this Esme had been under the influence of Malory Towers and the dear third formers for a while, she would learn English ways and become a proper schoolgirl.

  This was exactly what Felicity was hoping, too. A thought occurred to her and she said to Susan, ‘Esme’s arrival means that we aren’t all neatly paired up any more, for she is the odd one out now.’

  ‘Golly, yes, I hadn’t thought of that,’ said Susan.‘Well, she seems quite nice, although she’s so different from the rest of us. We shall all have to do our best to see that she’s not left out.’ She looked across to where the new girl was chatting to Bonnie, and noticed that Lucy was watching too, a discontented frown on her face.‘I wonder why Lucy and Esme dislike one another so?’ she said.

  ‘Perhaps we’ll find out one day,’ said Felicity.‘I just hope that they manage to rub along together all right, and don’t make everyone else fe
el uncomfortable.’

  The two new girls managed to avoid one another in the common-room that evening. Lucy and Julie sat in a corner together, chattering nineteen-to-the-dozen about horses, while Esme joined the others.

  ‘Gosh, I’m tired,’ said Nora, with a yawn.‘I don’t know why the first day back at school is always so exhausting, for we don’t do any work, but it always wears me out.’

  ‘Well, the bell will be going for bedtime soon,’ said Susan.

  ‘But it’s only eight o’clock,’ said Esme, in surprise.‘That seems awfully early to go to bed.’

  ‘We only go at eight on the first evening,’ explained Pam.‘Because we’re all supposed to be jolly tired after our long journeys. Normally we stay up until nine.’

  ‘Gee, we went up much later than that at my school in America,’ said Esme.‘I’ll never be able to get to sleep at nine o’clock!’

  ‘Oh yes you will!’ Felicity told her, with a grin.‘Once you’ve played a few games out in the fresh air.’

  ‘Yes, a few lengths of the swimming-pool tomorrow will tire you out,’ said Susan.‘And if that doesn’t do the trick, a few sets of tennis ought to help.’

  Poor Esme looked horrified, and the others laughed at her.

  ‘Don’t worry, Esme,’ said Freddie.‘Amanda will understand if you tell her that you haven’t played much sport before, and she won’t expect too much of you to begin with. In fact, she’ll probably arrange some extra coaching sessions for you.’

  Esme wasn’t sure whether Freddie was joking or not—gee, she sure hoped that she was! Her mother had been so keen for her to come to Malory Towers, because she had said that Esme had begun to forget that she was half-English, and was becoming‘too American’. But if being English meant having to get hot, sweaty and untidy chasing a ball around, or getting her carefully set hair ruined in a pool, then Esme would rather be American any day! And then there was Lucy. Esme had got the shock of her life when she had realised that the cousin she hadn’t seen for years was here too—and in the same form. She began to wonder if she would ever fit in at Malory Towers—certainly not if Lucy had anything to do with it!