The Youngest Girl in the Fifth

BOOK: The Youngest Girl in the Fifth
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Youngest Girl in the Fifth, by Angela Brazil

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Title: The Youngest Girl in the Fifth A School Story

Author: Angela Brazil

Illustrator: Stanley Davis

Release Date: June 6, 2007 [EBook #21687]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE YOUNGEST GIRL IN THE FIFTH ***

Produced by Suzanne Shell, Sankar Viswanathan, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net

[Illustration: GWEN IS CAUGHT BY THE STORM]

The Youngest Girl

in the Fifth

A School Story

BY

ANGELA BRAZIL

Author of "The Leader of the Lower School" "A Pair of Schoolgirls" "The New Girl at St. Chad's" "A Fourth Form Friendship" &c.

ILLUSTRATED BY STANLEY DAVIS

BLACKIE AND SON LIMITED

LONDON GLASGOW AND BOMBAY

* * * * *

Contents

CHAP.

I. AN UNEXPECTED REMOVE

II. THE GASCOYNE GIRLS

III. A FALSE STEP

IV. A DELICATE TRANSACTION

V. TROUBLE IN THE FIFTH

VI. A CASTING VOTE

VII. DICK CHAMBERS

VIII. GWEN RECEIVES A LETTER

IX. KEEPING CHRISTMAS

X. A PRODIGAL

XI. A PRIZE ESSAY

XII. GWEN TURNS HENWIFE

XIII. THE SHOE PINCHES

XIV. GWEN MEETS TROUBLE

XV. STORM CLOUDS

XVI. FIRST AID

XVII. A PRESSING ACCOUNT

XVIII. GWEN'S BRIGHT IDEA

XIX. A SCHOOL GYMKHANA

XX. A DAY OF RECKONING

XXI. RETRIBUTION

XXII. THE TENNIS TOURNAMENT

XXIII. GWEN TO THE RESCUE

XXIV. THE SENIOR OXFORD

* * * * *

Illustrations

GWEN IS CAUGHT BY THE STORM
Frontispiece

GWEN MEETS DICK

"THINGS GO SO HARDLY WITH ME SOMEHOW, DAD"

"OH, I SAY, WELL CAUGHT!"

"YES, YOU CAN EASILY GO MILES OUT OF YOUR WAY"

"IT WAS BASIL WHO SPIED HIM FIRST"

* * * * *

THE YOUNGEST GIRL IN THE FIFTH

CHAPTER I

An Unexpected Remove

"Gwen! Gwen Gascoyne! Gwen! Anybody seen her? I say, have you all gone deaf? Don't you hear me? Where's Gwen? I--want--Gwen--Gascoyne!"

The speaker--Ida Bridge--a small, perky, spindle-legged Junior, jumped on to the nearest seat, and raising her shrill voice to its topmost pitch, twice shouted the "Gwen Gascoyne", with an aggressive energy calculated to make herself heard above the babel of general chatter that pervaded the schoolroom. Her effort, though far from musical, at any rate secured her the notice she desired.

"Hello, there! Stop that noise! It's like a dog howling!" irately commanded a girl in spectacles who was cleaning the blackboard.

"And get down from my desk this minute! Who said you might climb up there?"

"Look here, you kid, what are you doing in our classroom?"

"Take yourself off at once! Fly! Scoot!"

The "kid", however, stood her ground.

"Shan't move till you've answered my question," she replied with aggravating impudence. "I want Gwen Gascoyne."

"Why, there she is all the time!"

"Where?"

"Under your very nose, you stupid baby! Get down from my desk, I tell you!"

The Junior cast what was intended to be a withering glance before she descended.

"Gwen Gascoyne, why couldn't you answer when I called you?" she demanded abruptly.

Gwen paused in the act of sharpening a lead pencil, and eyed the intruder.

"Who asked you to come in here?" she retorted.

"You babes must keep to your own classrooms! Hey, presto! Vanish! And be quick about it!" interposed Myra Johnson.

"Shan't! Not till I've spoken to Gwen."

"Cheek!"

"Suppress that kid!"

"But I've got a message!" squeaked the babe, as sundry arms of justice thrust her summarily in the direction of the door. "Oh, I have really--a message for Gwen from Miss Roscoe! She's to go to the library--now!"

"Then why couldn't you say so at first?"

"You never gave me a chance!"

Gwen threw the half-sharpened pencil inside her desk and banged down the lid.

"What does Miss Roscoe want with me?" she asked in some consternation. "Are you sure she meant me?"

A summons from the headmistress rarely boded good fortune to the recipient, and the girls stared at Gwen with interested sympathy.

"What have you been doing?" murmured Eve Dawkins.

"Glad I'm not in your shoes!" proclaimed Daisy Hurst.

"Oh, Gwen, I am sorry for you!" bleated Alma Richardson.

"I've not been doing anything!" protested Gwen indignantly. "You've no need to look at me as if I were a cross between a criminal and a martyr! Here, you babe, what did Miss Roscoe say?"

"Only that you're to go to the library; and you'd better be quick, because she said: 'Tell her to come at once!' Said it in her snappiest way, too! I shouldn't be a month about going if I were you. Hello! There's the bell. Ta-ta, I'm off! I wish you luck!" and Ida Bridge fled to the region of her own classroom, with a grin on her impish face.

Though she might rail at the impudence of the small fry, Gwen was not above taking a hint--headmistresses do not lightly brook being kept waiting--so she started at a run up the passage, turning over in her mind every possible crime which she might unwittingly have committed.

"Can't remember using the front gate, or not changing my boots, or talking on the stairs, or--oh, wow! Here I am at the library! Well, whatever I've done, I suppose I'm in for it now! I hope she won't absolutely wither me up!"

So far from looking withering as Gwen entered the room, the Principal wore an unusually encouraging and benign expression. She was a handsome, large, imposing woman, with a stern cast of features, and was held in great awe by the whole school. As a rule, Seniors and Juniors quailed alike under the glance of her keen dark eyes.

"Come here, Gwen," she said blandly, as her pupil stood hesitating near the door. "I want to have a little talk with you. I've been looking over your reports for the last few weeks, and I find that you've done well--so well, that I consider the standard of the Upper Fourth is too easy for you. I think you ought to be able to manage the work of the Fifth Form, and I'm going to move you there."

Gwen stared at Miss Roscoe, too surprised to answer. Such a proposal as a change of Form was absolutely the last thing she could have expected. In the middle of a term it was surely an unprecedented happening. For the moment she scarcely knew whether to be alarmed or flattered at the honour thus thrust upon her.

"You may find the mathematics a little difficult," continued Miss Roscoe; "but Miss Woodville shall coach you until you've caught up the rest of the class. She can also go over the arrears of Latin translation with you. With that help you shouldn't be so far behind. I've spoken to both Miss Slade and Miss Douglas about it, and they fully agree with me. Do you think yourself you'll be able to manage the work?"

"I don't know, I'm sure," stammered Gwen. "I expect I'm behind in maths.--but--"

"But you must try your best. I shall trust you to make a great effort. I should be very sorry to have to put you down again. Come with me now, and I'll take you to your new Form."

Gwen followed the Principal with her head in a buzzing whirl. It seemed like a dream to be suddenly translated from the Lower School to the Upper. She wished she could have had a little time to get accustomed to the idea: she would have liked a day's preparation at least, so as to think the change over and discuss it at home. Miss Roscoe, however, always did things in a hurry; she never had a moment to waste, and at present she whisked her pupil along the corridor and into the Fifth Form room with almost breathless energy.

"Here's Gwen Gascoyne, Miss Douglas," she announced. "We'll try if she can manage the work, and I've arranged with Miss Woodville to give her the extra coaching we spoke about. She can bring her books from her old classroom at eleven."

Thus saying, she bustled away to take a history lecture, leaving the new member of the Fifth standing in much embarrassment. The eyes of every girl in the room naturally were glued upon Gwen, who felt herself twitching with nervousness under the scrutiny; but Miss Douglas motioned her to an empty desk in the back row, and went on with the lesson as if nothing had happened. I am afraid Gwen was too agitated to absorb much knowledge that morning. She had not brought notebook or pencil with her, and though at Miss Douglas's request her neighbour rather ungraciously lent her a sheet of paper and a stump of pencil, the notes which she took were scrappy and inadequate. She kept stealing peeps at the other girls, but turning away when she met the anything but friendly glances directed at her. The teacher asked her one or two questions, then, seeing that she did not quite grasp the subject, kindly ignored her.

"Talk of a fish out of water," thought Gwen; "I feel like an eel in a frying pan. I believe these girls are going to be detestable. I shall have to look out for squalls."

Nor was she mistaken. At eleven o'clock the storm broke. Directly Miss Douglas had left the room for the interval the seventeen members of the Fifth turned upon the newcomer.

"What are you doing here, Gwen Gascoyne, I'd like to know?" demanded Edith Arnold, opening the attack.

"We don't want any Fourth Form girls foisted on us!" proclaimed Rachel Hunter.

"You don't belong to the Upper School!" urged Charlotte Perry hotly.

"I didn't yesterday, but I do now," retorted Gwen. "Miss Roscoe's moved me up. Yes--and I mean to stay here, too!" she added, facing her opponents stubbornly.

"Miss Roscoe must be mad!"

"What can she be thinking of?"

"Better go and ask her yourself," said Gwen, "if you think she's likely to listen to you. She isn't generally very ready to enter into explanations."

"But this is monstrous! It's an unheard-of thing!" exclaimed Louise Mawson excitedly. "A chit like you to be brought into the Fifth! Why, how old are you?"

"Exactly fourteen and a quarter--birthday on July 16th, if you want exact date," returned Gwen smartly.

"Oh!" "What a shame!" "We shan't stand it!" rose in such a chorus from all sides that Gwen took the opportunity to make her escape and go to the dressing-room for her lunch. The interval was only ten minutes, and she wished both to break the news to her old classmates and to fetch some necessary books from her former desk before the bell rang.

The other members of the Fifth lingered behind in perturbed consultation. They considered they had a just and most pressing grievance. In all the annals of the school such a case had never occurred before. It had been hitherto an inviolable though unwritten law that no one under the age of fifteen should be admitted to the Fifth Form, a law which they had believed as strict as that of the Medes and Persians, and here was the headmistress actually breaking it, and in favour of a girl only fourteen and a quarter. If Miss Roscoe had not brought her herself into the room they would not have credited it.

"It's abominably unfair!" broke out Rachel Hunter, a tall girl of sixteen. "Because my birthday comes on October 4th I had to stop a whole year longer in the Lower School. Yes--though my mother came and begged Miss Roscoe to let me go up!"

"Well, you couldn't get moved up on your work, at any rate, Rachel!" chirped Joan Masters. "It would have had to be favour in your case."

"That's not the point! It's a different question. If Miss Roscoe makes a rule she ought to stick to it. Why, half the girls in the Form might have come up sooner if it hadn't been for the age limit."

"You're right, and I can't see why Gwen Gascoyne should be so specially noticed."

"She's supposed to be clever, I believe."

"She doesn't look it! Besides, what do we care whether she's clever or not? It's the injustice of the thing that makes me angry. A kid like her amongst us seniors! The idea!"

BOOK: The Youngest Girl in the Fifth
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