The ferry from Buchau chuffed up to the landing, while girls in a uniform of brown and flame stood waving from the deck to three more. Joey, the Robin and Grizel were standing at the landing, chatting and laughing between the intervals of waving to their friends.
The visitors around them smiled, as faint cries of, “Oh! There’s Marie!” and “Margia – Margia Stevens!” floated to where they were sunning themselves.
Suddenly, there was a loud splash.
“I say!” exclaimed Jo, “It looks as if someone has fallen in! Who could it be?”
The water was spraying too hard for them to see properly, but Grizel gasped as a dripping figure was hauled onto the deck, where she positively wilted at Miss Maynard’s glare. There was, of course, no harm meant, but in their eagerness the girls must have pressed forward enough to push her off. It was only when the ferry was closer that the girls on the shore recognised the shock of yellow hair and prominent features (especially her chin).
“Cornelia Flower! Well, who else!” Grizel laughed. “She looks very uncomfortable. Shall we run back to house and get a towel, Jo?”
But her words had to be satisfied with no reply, for Joey was off at the first word. Finally the Chaletians disembarked and greeted Grizel and the Robin.
“Mais où est ma Jo?” asked a small girl with dark hair.
“Joey will be with us in a minute, Simone.”
“That’s funny, I thought I saw her from the landing.” This was Marie von Eschenau, a lovely girl from the area.
“Yes, and she will be back soon,” replied Grizel curtly, wondering why exactly Joey Bettany had to always be the soul and centre of all attention.
When Frieda Mensch approached her with the same question, Grizel had to pretend to ignore her, knowing that her temper would never hold if she spoke. Once a carelessly spoken girl, Grizel had learned - the term that she had left the School - to keep her more nasty thoughts to herself. She remembered her Grandmother’s last letter before she had died. We all have nasty thoughts, Grizel, it had read, but sooner or later they have to be curbed. If all of us spoke them, the world would be a very unpleasant place. Besides, Grizel knew how much she owed Joey, and her family, and nothing would let her forget it.
Jo herself returned quickly, and with many thanks from Cornelia and an approving glance from Miss Maynard, joined her own gang with a happy sigh of contentment. She was shocked when Frieda and Marie asked her what Grizel’s problem was, replying that she knew of nothing.
“And Grizel was fine earlier!” They returned to the Chalet, Joey ignorant of the slight resentment she had caused.
The girls, filing into the hall for Prayers, were surprised to see Mrs. Russell at the dais next to Mlle, knowing full well that there would be a special occasion or something of the sort.
“Welcome back, girls. I am very glad to see you all. And you are looking quite as healthy as always, if not slightly…wet?” There was an outbreak of giggling – mainly from the middles, and Cornelia Flower turned scarlet. “However, back to our School affairs.
“We are glad this year to be able to introduce Mr. Goodwin, who is, I believe, not presently with us,” at the squirming of backs and turning of heads, “but should be soon. Mr. Goodwin is an inspector from the National English Schools Board, so I hope that you will all behave well, and impress him. I have no doubt that you will. After all, his report will be going back to England with him, and I need not stress the necessity of a good result.”
She paused for a moment, to make a better impression, and then continued with other school affairs.
Halfway through the notices, the door to the dais opened and a tall, good-looking man entered, his eyes on Madame.
“You seem to have made a slight mistake. I was told by you yourself that this would be Prayers. Not an introduction speech to the school. I would be very disappointed if I were to learn that you were lying.” Once again, Carl Goodwin found himself in a sticky situation. Around three hundred girls were staring at him, let alone the Mistresses (and two Masters) and the headmistress.
Mrs. Russell came forward, acting as if he had not said anything. “This,” she signalled with her hand, “is Mr. Goodwin, an inspector. I hope you will treat him as well as every guest we have ever had.” And she smoothly moved on with the notices, “as if no beastly man had interrupted our Madame” to quote Margia Stevens on the subject.
So it was that Carl Goodwin made himself the most hated person in the School. Even he regretted the introduction slightly after he noticed that whenever he walked past a group of girls muttering shiftily, which was now quite often, they would break up in silence, gazing anywhere but at him.
Even the Prefects, it seemed, were against him from the start. Passing the Prefects Room, he heard a voice proclaim, (knowing full well with a shameful feeling that the “he” in the sentence was he himself) :
“He’s quite a one for entrances!”