Authors: S.K. Sheridan
Second in the Egmont
S K Sheridan
For Jan and Dewi
Back again, Diary!
Well I can’t tell you how PLEASED I am to be back at Egmont, it’s really starting to feel like home now that I’ve been here for half a term. But it was
nice to see my old nanny Carrie Whepple over the half term holiday, I
miss seeing her every day. At least I got to see her for a whole week, she moved into our mansion to look after me just like old times, and her achy joints weren’t nearly as bad as usual.
My parents had given her loads of money before they disappeared off on yet another Secret Service mission, so we went to the theatre every day, followed by tea and scones in Carrie’s favourite café, The Boiled Egg. We even went to see an art show. All the paintings were by someone called Frida Kahlo who seemed to like painting portraits of herself, which Carrie kept tutting about, saying things like, “Wouldn’t hurt her to paint a landscape, bit vain if you ask me”. Frida Kahlo’s eyebrows were so thick they joined together in the middle and I simply couldn’t stop looking at them, although she did paint some pretty patterns and use nice bright colours too.
Lessons don’t start till tomorrow, so me and Arabella spent our first day back in the swimming pool. Lots of
! We’d been surfing on our tummies while the wave machine was on, and were just climbing on to a floating, plastic castle, when who should appear but Cleo and Clarice. They don’t like getting their hair wet so they were both wearing jewel studded bathing hats and looked a bit over
for swimming, even if we
in a luxury boarding school. They walked slowly to the edge of the pool, dipped their toes in, shivered, then went and sat in the hot, bubbling Jacuzzi.
‘Oh look, it’s the nerd brains,’ Clarice called when she spotted Arabella and me. ‘Trying to learn how to doggy paddle and not sink like stones, are we girls?’
‘Just ignore them,’ Arabella whispered. ‘At least they’re too wimpy to come near us in the proper pool.’
‘Are either of you thinking of auditioning for the school play?’ Cleo yelled. ‘Not that you have the faces for the stage of course, we wouldn’t want the audience to be frightened away. Unlike Clarice and I, who will
be auditioning, won’t we?’ Clarice nodded, smoothing down her bathing hat as tons of bubbles rose up around her.
‘Actually we’re BOTH thinking of auditioning, aren’t we Davina?’ Arabella called back over the echoey noise of the swimming pool. She scrambled on to the pink floating castle and stood up, her red curls all frizzy. Oh no, I really wish she wouldn’t do this. Whenever Cleo or Clarice annoy her she always rises to the challenge, gets cross and we end up in a sticky situation.
‘Um, are we?’ I said vaguely, also trying to clamber on to the slippery castle.
‘Yes, don’t you remember, we were talking about it this morning?’ Arabella looked down and waggled her eyebrows. I sighed and nodded as I gripped the sides and pulled myself on, my long brown plait stuck to my back.
Cleo and Clarice went into huge belly aches of laughter, rotten things.
‘You two, on the stage?’ Clarice laughed so hard her jewelled bathing hat wobbled half off. ‘Now that would be HILARIOUS!’
Arabella was just about to say something back, I
wish she would keep her temper around those bullies, when the dolphin shaped door to the swimming pool opened and Mrs Pumpernickle, our housemistress, bustled in with two new girls behind her. One was pale and wore glasses and had chin length dark brown hair. She looked up at the multi coloured swimming slides that snake in and out above the pool, blinking. The other girl looked bored, had a white fur coat tied round her tubby belly and bronze curls that cascaded down to her waist.
‘The swimming pool at our villa in Italy is much better than this one, it has gold statues of lions at each of its corners and a silver slide going from the pool to the ocean. This pool looks a bit boring,’ said the girl wearing the white fur coat. Well! What a rude thing to say on your first day. I saw Cleo and Clarice giving her evil stares over the edge of the Jacuzzi and for once I didn’t blame them.
Mrs Pumpernickle rolled her eyes, as though she’d heard one too many comments like that from the new girl but was too polite to say anything. She ushered the girls nearer to the side of the pool.
‘This is Lottie Greenwood and Erica Anchor. They’ll both be in Sapphire class and I know you’ll make them feel welcome while they get to know their way around.’ Mrs Pumpernickle looked at me and Arabella and then glared at Cleo and Clarice, who’d slid down in the Jacuzzi so only the tops of their heads were showing. I smiled at the scared looking girl who I think was Lottie, after all I know what it feels like to be new, I’ve only been at Egmont Exclusive Boarding School myself for a few weeks. She pushed her glasses up her nose and gave me a small grin. The other girl, Erica, just stared at the wall. Hmm, not quite sure what to make of her.
We’re back in our dorm now, dry and warm. This term we have pale blue duvets with moons and stars all over them that actually light up when you press a switch at the side. So
. I’ve just been drying my hair with Arabella’s hairdryer. My hair’s now down to my bottom, the longest I’ve ever had it. Carrie says I need it trimmed, but I like it like this, it keeps my back warm in the cold weather.
‘Are you serious about us auditioning for the school play?’ I asked Arabella, hoping that she wasn’t, unplugging her purple and green spotty hairdryer.
‘Yes, absolutely,’ she swung round to face me, her eyes looking all fiery. ‘I mean, can you imagine if Clarice and Cleo get the main parts? It would be AWFUL. I don’t think I’d be able to watch even five minutes of the show, they’d be preening and posing, it would make me want to be SICK. We definitely have to audition and I’m going to ask the rest of Sapphires to do so as well, just so that pair of conceited so and so’s have some healthy competition.’
‘Alright, calm down,’ I said, grinning. ‘That’s fine but I have to warn you, I’ve never done any acting before, so I’ll probably be pretty rubbish.’
Mmm, some delicious smells are wafting under the door, it must be dinner time. Ooh, I wonder what delights Marcel and his team of chefs have for us tonight…
The excitement mounts, Diary…
So last night, Arabella and I ended up sitting at the same table as the new girls, Lottie and Erica. Lottie is a bit of a sweetie, she’s here on a Maths scholarship so must be pretty clever. She said her parents could never afford to send her to Egmont without the scholarship and because she passed loads of difficult maths tests she’ll now get all her school fees paid. She said her family only own one, three bedroom house and one quite old car. My parents have loads of cars but I didn’t say that because I didn’t want to make her feel bad. Anyway, I don’t know
my parents have so many cars or houses, they’re never around to enjoy them because they’re always off on some secret spy mission, so what’s the point?
The nasty girls Cleo and Clarice just HAD to come and say mean things when they found out Lottie was here on a scholarship.
‘Oh you’re a
girl are you?’ Cleo sneered, leaning on our table and swishing her blonde hair in Lottie’s face. ‘How interesting, I’ve never met anyone poor before.’
‘The school’s standard must be dropping if they’re letting riff raff in now,’ Clarice said, looking down her nose at Lottie, who gulped and looked at the table cloth.
‘Cleo, Clarice, what on
are you doing out of your seats?’ Mrs Pumpernickle came bustling along, frowning. ‘Go and sit down at once. What an awful example you’re setting to the new girls, such bad manners.’ Cleo and Clarice nudged each other and sniggered, before sashaying off.
‘Don’t listen to them, Lottie,’ Arabella said. Her cheeks had gone red so I knew she was angry. ‘They’re mean to everyone. They like to find people’s weak spots, it’s really pathetic. You should have seen how they treated Davina and I last term when we were campaigning to be prefects.’
‘I do find everything here a bit scary actually,’ Lottie said, tears coming into her eyes. ‘Including them. Everything is so big and expensive looking, there’s even a menu at dinner time. At home we usually have beans on toast, or sausages and mash. I mean look,’ she held up the menu. ‘Tonight we can order caviar on bruschetta to start with and I don’t even know what that is.’ A tear rolled down her cheek and I went to give her a hug.
‘Caviar is just fish eggs, they look small and black, and bruschetta is like crunchy bread. Try it, it’s a rather tangy combination,’ Arabella grinned. ‘Don’t worry, you’ll soon get used to all the glitz and glamour and you’ll probably find that most people here are nice and normal, even if they have got more money than you’re used to. It’s only a handful of people like Cleo and Clarice who are unbearable snobs.’
Hmm, I thought, looking at Erica, who as usual was looking bored. She might just fall into the unbearable snob category.
‘Erica, what school did you go to before you came to Egmont?’ I asked, giving her my biggest smile. I wondered if I’d got her wrong and she just looked bored by accident, when she was actually nervous or something. Don’t judge a book by its cover, Carrie always says.
‘I had a full time governess,’ Erica said, yawning. ‘My father paid through the nose for the best teacher he could find to come and live with us. She taught me all the subjects like maths, writing, history, geography, art and music. I’m extremely clever, my governess told me that all the time, so I’ll probably find all the work here at Egmont really easy and rather dull.’
Arabella laughed then turned it in to a cough. Lottie looked down at the tablecloth again, looking even more depressed than before. I stared at Erica, wondering why anyone would actually
that they were clever. Surely Lottie was clever if she got a Maths scholarship, but she didn’t go on about it like that. In fact she didn’t seem to have much confidence in herself at all.
Just then, a loud crash rang through the dining room. The two metal kitchen doors swung on their hinges, and about twenty chefs wearing puffy white hats and black and white checked trousers burst into the hall. In the lead was Marcel, our tiny, French head chef.
‘Uh oh, here we go,’ Arabella said. She looked at me and grinned, then leaned towards Lottie and Erica. ‘You’ll get used to this, they do it every evening. They seem a bit crazy at first but boy, do they cook good food.’
‘Good evening Egmont girls. Marcel and ‘iz team are ‘ere to take your orders,’ the head chef shouted. Then he turned and waved his fist at the larger man behind him. ‘You, Jean Paul, you just trod on my foot and ‘urt it very much. Say you’re sorry right
‘Never!’ The man shouted back. ‘Your giant, clod hopping foot was in
way. Now let me pass, Marcel, so I can take these poor, starving girls’ orders.’
‘You ‘orrible man, Jean Paul,’ Marcel hissed, as he hopped up and down, rubbing his foot. ‘Fine, don’t say sorry to me. Maybe I will just fire you next week.’ With that, each chef ran to a different table, notepads held high. Lottie’s mouth was open and even Erica had woken up a bit.
‘That was so funny,’ Lottie breathed.
‘That was ridiculous,’ Erica snorted. ‘My dad’s chef is much more sophisticated than that, he’d never make such a show of himself in public.’
‘Let’s order,’ I said quickly, seeing Arabella grind her teeth. Me and Lottie ordered the cous cous on rye bread to start with, followed by roast chicken, sweet potato mash and peas with triple chocolate cake for dessert. Arabella and Erica asked for the caviar on bruschetta, beef wellington and strawberry surprise and we all ordered cherry and apple cocktails to drink.
After dinner, which was UTTERLY
, Mrs Fairchild stood up and started singing. As usual, she’d been seated at the large, round table in the middle of the dining hall with all the other teachers. I love the tweety canaries that hang in cages above each table, but have never quite got used to the hanging garden above Mrs Fairchild’s table, where peacocks strut about in a massive white gold cage, showing off their colourful tail feathers. SO
‘Why is she singing?’ Erica sighed.
‘Because she’s lovely and a bit mad,’ I said before Arabella could open her mouth. I could tell Arabella had already taken against Erica and to be honest I wasn’t that impressed myself, but there didn’t seem any point in arguing with the new girl, especially as we don’t know her properly. ‘Mrs Fairchild always sings and twirls, it makes life more interesting. Sometimes she does yoga in her study and last term she was taking salsa dancing lessons. She really is amazing for someone her age, but don’t be fooled, underneath that dizzy smile is a brain as sharp as a razor. Arabella and I found that out before half term when we were in a spot of bother.’