The Manor House School

Language: English
Published: 1 month ago
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Nora's News

It was the first week of the summer term at Winterburn Lodge. Afternoon preparation was over, and most of the girls had left the classroom for a chat and a stroll round the playground until the tea-bell should ring. From the tennis court came the sounds of the soft thud of balls and a few excited voices recording the score; while through the open windows of the house floated the strains of three pianos, on which three separate pieces were being practised in three different keys, the mingled result forming a particularly inharmonious jangle.

On a bench in the corner by the swing two yellow heads and a brown one might be seen bent in close proximity over a rather dilapidated atlas. Their respective owners were apparently making a half-hearted endeavour to hunt out a list of towns upon the map of England, and were amusing themselves between whiles with the pleasant, though somewhat unprofitable pastime of grumbling.

"I hate geography!" declared Lindsay Hepburn. "If we could be taken a picnic to each of the places, there'd be some sense in it; but to have to reel off a string of tiresome names that don't mean anything at all to you—I call it stupid!"

"It's such a fearfully long lesson, too!" agreed Cicely Chalmers dolefully. "Miss Frazer might have set us a shorter one for the first! It's really too bad of her to make us begin with two pages and a half in a new book! I'm sure I shall never get it into my head, if I try till midnight."

"I wonder why things always seem so much harder to learn when one's just come back after the holidays?" propounded Marjorie Butler with a melancholy yawn.

"I don't know. I suppose because it all feels so horrid. It's perfectly dreadful to think what a huge time it is until we can go home again."

"Thirteen whole weeks! And every one of them will be exactly the same: lessons with Miss Frazer or Mademoiselle, an hour's practising, a walk in the park or along the Surrey Road, and a game of tennis when you can manage to get hold of the court. There's never anything different, unless Miss Russell takes us to a museum or a concert, and that doesn't happen often, worse luck!"

Lindsay's picture of the forthcoming term certainly did not seem a remarkably enlivening one, and the other two groaned at the prospect.

"I wish one wasn't obliged to go to a boarding school," said Cicely in an injured tone.

"Girls! Girls!" cried a fourth voice, breaking abruptly into the conversation, "I've been hunting for you everywhere. I thought you were in the house or the gymnasium. Oh! I've such a piece of news to tell you!"

"What's the matter, Nora?" enquired Marjorie, for the newcomer was out of breath, and looked as excited as if it were breaking-up day.

"Come here and sit between us," added Lindsay, pushing the others farther along the seat to make room.

"Is it anything really nice?" asked Cicely.

"It depends on what you call 'nice'. I'll give you each six guesses, and even then I don't believe one of you'll be right."

"Miss Frazer doesn't mean to take geography to-morrow?"

"Absolutely wrong, though I wish she wouldn't."

"Somebody has broken another window with a tennis ball?"

"Don't be silly! It's much more interesting than that."

"Miss Russell's going to give us a holiday?"

"You're getting warm! Try again."

"Oh, we can't!"

"We give it up!"

"Go on and tell!"

"Do you remember that just before Easter a gentleman came with Dr. Redford, and they both went over the school, peeping and poking about in such a mysterious manner?"

"Yes, we wondered what they were doing."

"Well, it turns out that he's a sanitary inspector, and he's sent a report to Miss Russell to say that the drains are wrong, and must be taken up immediately."

"Is that your grand news?"

"No, it's only the first part of it. Let me finish, and then you'll see. Dr. Redford says the drains can't possibly be touched while we're all in the house, and yet they must be opened at once. Can't you guess now?"

"Miss Russell never means to send us home when we've only just come back?" gasped Lindsay hopefully....