The Naughtiest Girl Again, Page 2Enid Blyton
Everyone had to stand when William and Rita, the Head Boy and Head Girl, came into the gym. They sat down and everyone else sat too. William knocked on the table with a small wooden hammer, and the children were quiet.
«There isn't much to say today», said the Head Boy. «I expect the new children have been told why we hold this big Meeting every week, and what we do at it. You see at this table our twelve monitors, and you all know why they are chosen. We chose them ourselves because we can trust them to be sensible, loyal and kind, and therefore you must obey them and keep the rules they make.»
Then Rita spoke. «I hope you have all brought your money with you. As the new children probably know, any money we have is put into this big box, and out of it we take two shillings for every person each week. Out of that you must buy anything you need, such as stamps, sweets, ribbons, shoe-laces, and so on. If you want any more than two shillings you must say why, and it will be given to you if it is deserved. Now will you please get your money ready. Nora, take round the box.»
Nora got up. She took the big box and handed it down each row. The children all put in their money. The new boy, Robert Jones, looked most annoyed. «I say», he said, «you know I've got a whole pound from my grandfather. I don't see why I should put it into the box. I shan't see it again!»
«Robert, some of us have too much money and some of us have too little» explained William. «It sometimes happens that we have a birthday and get lots of money, and sometimes we haven't any at all. Well, by putting all our money into the big box each week, we can always have two shillings to spend – the same for everyone, you see, which is quite fair – and if we need anything beyond that, we can always get it if the Jury give permission. So put in your money.»
Robert put his pound note in, but did not look at all pleased. His face looked even more sulky than usual!
«Cheer up!» whispered Elizabeth, but he gave her such a scowl that she said no more. Nora took the box back to the table. It was very heavy now.
Two shillings were given out to everyone, and the money went into pockets and purses. Rita and William had the same as everyone else.
«Any extra money wanted this week?» asked William, looking round the School.
Kenneth stood up. «Could I have an extra sixpence?» he asked. «I borrowed a book out of the school library and I can't find it, and I've been fined sixpence.»
«Take it out of your two shillings.», said William, and the Jury nodded in agreement. «I don't see why the School's money should pay you for being careless, Kenneth! There are too many books lost. Pay the school library sixpence, and you can have it back when you find the book. No extra money granted!»
A girl stood up. «My mother is abroad and I have to write to her each week, of course, but the letters have to have a seven penny stamp on. Could I possibly have a little extra money allowed for that?» The Jury discussed the matter. They agreed that it was hard luck on Mary to have to spend so much money on one letter each week.
«Well, you can have fourpence ha'penny extra each week», said Rita, at last. «That means you pay the usual twopence ha'penny for a stamp, and the School money pays the rest. That's quite fair.»
«Oh yes», said Mary gratefully. «Thank you.» Fourpence ha'penny was given to her, and she put it into her purse.
«I think that's all the business for this week», said Rita, looking at her notes. «You all understand that any bad behaviour, such as unkindness, disobedience, cheating, bullying, and so on, must be brought before this Meeting each week. But I hope that the new children will understand that this does not mean telling tales. Perhaps their monitor will explain everything to them»
«Yes, I will», said Nora.
«Now – any complaints or grumbles before we go?» asked William, looking up. But there were none. So the Meeting broke up, and the children filed out of the gym.
Elizabeth was rather silent as she went. She was remembering the bad time she had had last term at the Meeting. How defiant and rude she had been! She could hardly believe it now. She went off with Joan to feed the rabbits. One was so tame that it would lie quite peacefully in Elizabeth's arms, and she loved that.
«Isn't everything peaceful this term!» said Joan. «I hope it goes on like this, don't you?»
But it wasn't going to be peaceful for long!
Chapter 3: Elizabeth Makes an Enemy
It was two of the new children who disturbed the peace of the form. When Robert had settled down and found his feet, the other boys and girls found that he was spiteful and unkind. And they discovered, too, that Kathleen Peters, the white-faced, spotty girl, was so quarrelsome that it was really very difficult to be nice to her.
On the other hand, Jennifer Harris was great fun. She was a wonderful mimic and could imitate the masters and mistresses marvellously, especially Mam'zelle. Mam'zelle wagged her hands rather a lot, and her voice went up and down when she spoke. Jennifer could put on a face exactly like Mam'zelle's, and talked and wagged her hands in a manner so like her that she sent the class into fits of laughter.
«Jenny's fine», said Elizabeth. «But I simply can't bear Robert or Kathleen. You know, I think Robert's cruel, Joan»
«Why do you think that?» asked Joan. «Has he been unkind to you?»
«No – not to me», said Elizabeth. «But I heard someone squealing yesterday and I saw little Janet running away from him, crying. I called out to know what was wrong, but she wouldn't tell me. I believe Robert had been pinching her or something.»
«I shouldn't be surprised», said Joan.
Belinda Green heard what they were saying and came up. «I think Robert's a bully», she said. «He's always running after the smaller ones, and jumping out at them, and giving them sly pinches.»
«The hateful thing!» cried Elizabeth, who always hated any unfairness. «Wait till I catch him! I'll jolly well report him at the very next Meeting!»
«Well, be sure to get your facts right», said Belinda, «or Robert will say you are telling tales, and then you won't be listened to.»
Robert came up at that moment and the three of them said no more. Robert bumped hard into Elizabeth as he passed and nearly sent her into the wall.
«Oh, I didn't see you!», he said, with a grin, and went on down the room. Elizabeth went red with rage. She took a step after Robert, but Joan pulled her back.
«He only did it to make you annoyed», she said. «Don't be annoyed!»
«I can't help being», said Elizabeth furiously. «Rude, clumsy thing!» It was time to go into class then, and there was no time to do anything more. Robert was in Elizabeth's class, and she glared at him as she sat down. He made an extraordinary face at her – and they were enemies from that moment.
When Robert got nearly all his sums wrong, Elizabeth smiled with pleasure. «Serves you right!», she said in a loud whisper. Unfortunately Miss Ranger heard it.
«Is there any need to gloat over bad work done by somebody else?», she said coldly – and then it was Robert's turn to grin with delight.
Each of them was pleased when the other did badly – though Elizabeth got more laughs out of Robert than he did out of her, for she was a clever girl and found lessons easy. Robert was much slower, though he was bigger and taller.
At games they did all they could to defeat each other. They were very often on opposite sides, and if Robert could give Elizabeth a whack over the hand with his lacrosse stick, or a blow on the ankle with his hockey stick, he would. Elizabeth was not an unkind girl, but she found herself lying in wait for Robert, too, and giving him a hard blow wherever she could. Mr. Warlow, the games master, soon noticed this, and he called the two of them to him.
«You are playing a game, not fighting a battle» he told them gravely. «Keep your likes and dislikes out of hockey and lacrosse, please, and play fairly.» Elizabeth was ashamed, and stopped trying to hurt Robert – but Robert took an even greater delight in giving Elizabeth a bruise whenever he could, though now he was careful to do it when Mr. Warlow wa
s not watching.
«Elizabeth, you really are stupid to make an enemy of Robert», said Nora one day. «He is much bigger than you are. Keep out of his way. You'll lose your temper one day and put yourself in the wrong. That's what he's hoping for».
But Elizabeth would not listen to advice of that sort. «I'm not afraid of Robert!», she said scornfully.
«That isn't the point», said Nora. «He's only doing all this to annoy you, and if only you'd take no notice of him, and not try to pay him back, he'd soon get tired of it.»
«He's a hateful bully!» said Elizabeth.
«You're not to say things like that unless you have real proof», said Nora, at once. «And if you have real proof, then you must make a complaint at the Meeting. That's the place to accuse people of things. You know that quite well.»
Elizabeth made a sulky face and went off by herself. Why couldn't Nora believe her? Oh, well – Nora wasn't in her form and didn't know that hateful Robert as well as she, Elizabeth, knew him.
The next afternoon, after tea, Elizabeth went round to play with the rabbits. On the way she heard somebody calling out in a pleading voice: «Please don't swing me so high! Please don't!» Elizabeth peeped round at the swings. She saw a small boy on one, about nine years old. Robert was swinging him, and my goodness, wasn't he swinging him high! «I feel sick!» cried the boy, whose name was Peter. «I shall be sick! I shall fall off. Let me down, Robert, let me down! Don't swing me any more!»
But Robert took no notice of the small boy's shouting. His thin lips were pursed together, and with an unkind gleam in his eyes, he went on pushing the swing – high, high, higher! Elizabeth was so angry that she had to blink her eyes to see clearly. She ran to Robert. «Stop!» she cried. «You're not to do that! You'll make Peter ill.»
«Mind your own business», said Robert. «He asked me to give him a swing and I'm giving him one. Go away, you interfering girl. You're always poking your nose where it isn't wanted.»
«Oh, I'm not!» cried Elizabeth. She tried to catch hold of the swing as it came down, to stop it, but Robert was too quick for her. He gave her a push and sent her spinning into a bush. Then he sent the swing even higher than ever.
«I'll go and tell somebody!» cried Elizabeth, picking herself up.
«Tell-tale, tell-tale!» chanted Robert, giving the swing another push. Elizabeth lost her temper completely and rushed at the aggravating boy. She caught hold of his hair and pulled at it so hard that she pulled a whole handful out! Then she slapped his face and gave him such a punch in his middle that he doubled himself up with a groan.
Elizabeth stopped the swing and helped the trembling Peter off the seat. «Go and be sick if you want to», she said. «And don't let Robert swing you any more.» Peter staggered off, looking rather green. Elizabeth turned to face Robert, but just then three or four children came up, and neither child felt inclined to go on with the quarrel in public.
«I'll report you at the very next Meeting!» cried Elizabeth, still in a great temper. «You just see! You'll be punished all right, you cruel, unkind boy!» She went off, raging.
Robert looked round at the interested children who had come up. «What a temper that girl has got!», he said. «Look here – she pulled my hair out!» He picked up some of his dark hairs and showed them to the others. They looked surprised.
«You must have been doing something awful to make Elizabeth lose her temper like that», said Kenneth.
«I was only giving someone a swing», said Robert. «Elizabeth interfered, as usual. I wish she'd leave me alone. No wonder she was called the naughtiest girl in the school last term!»
«We pinned a notice on her once, calling her the Bold Bad Girl!» said somebody, with a laugh, as he remembered how angry Elizabeth had been. «Did you hit Elizabeth, Robert? If you did, you're mean. Girls are awfully annoying sometimes, but if you're a boy, you can't hit them.»
«I didn't touch her», said Robert, though he knew quite well that if the others hadn't come up at that moment he would certainly have gone for Elizabeth and slapped her well. «She just went up in smoke and flew at me, the horrid girl!»
Elizabeth rushed off to tell Joan all that had happened. Joan listened gravely.
«Robert really is a horrid bully», she said. «He'll have to be stopped. But oh, Elizabeth, I do think it's rather a pity you lost your temper like that! You have got such a hot temper, you know!»
«Well, anyone would have lost their temper if they had seen Robert swinging that poor wretched little Peter almost over the top of the swing-post!» said Elizabeth, still boiling with rage. «He was quite green.»
«You don't suppose the Meeting will think it's telling tales if you report Robert, do you?» asked Joan doubtfully. «If I were you, I'd ask Nora first.»
«I'll do no such thing!» cried Elizabeth. «I'm the best judge of this! I saw what happened, didn't I? All right then – I'll report Robert at the Meeting tomorrow, and then we'll just see what the Jury say. He'll get a dreadful shock – and he'll deserve it, too.»
Elizabeth was angry all day, and when the next day came she could hardly wait for the evening to come, to report Robert. Then he would see what happened to boys who did mean, unkind things! Robert did not seem to be at all upset at the idea of Elizabeth reporting him. He made faces at her whenever he saw her, which made her very angry indeed. «You'll get a shock at the Meeting tonight!» said Elizabeth. But there was a shock waiting for Elizabeth too!
Chapter 4: What Happened at the Meeting
The time for the weekly Meeting came. Elizabeth sat down on the form next to Belinda and Joan, longing for the moment to come when she could make a complaint about Robert. Robert sat not far away, his sullen face unsmiling, but there was a gleam in his eye when he turned to look at Elizabeth.
«I shouldn't be surprised if Robert doesn't make a complaint about you too, Elizabeth» whispered Joan. «He looks as if he's got something up his sleeve.»
«I don't care», said Elizabeth. «Wait till the Meeting hear what I've got to say!»
William and Rita came in, with the mistresses and Mr. Johns. The children stood up. The Head Girl and Boy sat down, and the Meeting began.
Money was collected, though there was not very much that week. Kenneth had had a birthday and had five shillings to put into the box. Janet had a shilling. Everyone was given their two shillings, and Mary got her four-pence ha'penny extra for her weekly stamp.
«Have you found the lost library book yet?» asked William, looking at Kenneth. «We said you could have back your sixpence fine if you did.»
«No, I haven't found it», said Kenneth. «I've hunted everywhere.»
«Anybody want any extra money?» asked Rita, jingling the box to see how much there was in it.
«I suppose I couldn't have any extra?» asked Ruth, standing up. «I lost all my two shilling last week. It was a dreadful blow because I badly wanted some stamps.»
«How did you lose it?» asked Rita.
«There was a hole in my pocket», said Ruth. «It fell out through that, goodness knows where.»
«Did you know there was a hole in your pocket?» asked Rita.
Ruth hesitated. «Well», she said, «I did know there was one coming, as a matter of fact, It was just a tiny little hole. I didn't know it had got big enough to lose money.»
«Who's your monitor?» asked William. «Oh, you are, Nora. Do you think it was Ruth's fault?»
«Well», said Nora, «quite truthfully, Ruth isn't awfully good at mending her clothes when she ought to. She lost a lovely pocket-knife last term, through a hole in a pocket – didn't you, Ruth?»
«Yes», said Ruth, looking rather uncomfortable. «Yes, I did. I know I should have mended that hole, I'm untidy and careless about things like that. I jolly well won't get a hole again, though. I think I shouldn't have asked for extra money, as it was my own fault.»
She sat down. The Jury began to talk to one another. A girl sitting on one of the forms stood up. It was Eileen, a kindly girl with a mass
of lair curls. «May I say something?» she asked. «I think that as Ruth has owned up that it was her own fault, and as she really is very generous with her money when she has it, couldn't she have an extra two shillings, just for once?»
«We are just discussing that», said Rita. «This is what we are going to do. We will let you have a shilling, Ruth, not two shillings, because we all believe you aren't quite so silly as to let a thing like this happen a third time, and you have been very honest about it. Come and take an extra shilling.»
«Oh, thank you», said Ruth, going to the table. «I had to borrow some stamps from Belinda, and now I can pay her back without using this week's two shillings. I'll be more careful in future, Rita!»
«Any more money wanted?» asked William, knocking on the table with his hammer, for the children had begun to talk to one another. Everyone was quiet.
«It's my Granny's birthday this week», said a small girl, getting up. «I want to send her a card. Could I have extra money to buy it with, and for the stamp, too?»
«No», said William. «That should come out of your two shillings. Not granted. Any more requests?» There were none.
Elizabeth knew that the time for complaints or grumbles would come next, and she went red with excitement. William said a few words to Rita about something and then knocked for silence again.
«Any complaints or grumbles?» he asked. Elizabeth stood – and so did Robert – but Robert was just half a second before her.
«You first, Robert», said William. «Sit down and take your turn next, Elizabeth.»
Elizabeth didn't sit down. She didn't mean to let Robert speak first. «Oh, please, William!», she said. «I have such a serious complaint to make.»
«Well, it will keep», said William. «Sit down.»
«But William, it's about Robert» began Elizabeth again, her voice rising.
«Elizabeth, do as you're told» ordered Rita. «You will have plenty of time to say all you want to.»