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CHAPTER I. CURIOSITY.
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 The school stood on the side of a hill, which faced downward to the sea. Its aspect was south, and it was sheltered from the east and west winds by a thick plantation1 of young trees, which looked green and fresh in the spring, and were beginning already to afford a delightful2 shade in hot weather.
 
A fashionable watering-place called Eastcliff was situated3 about a mile from Mulberry Court, the old-fashioned house, with the old-world gardens, where the schoolgirls lived. There were about fifty of them in all, and they had to confess that although Mulberry Court was undoubtedly4 school, yet those who lived in the house and played in the gardens, and had merry games and races on the seashore, enjoyed a specially5 good time which they would be glad to think of by and by.
 
The period at which this story begins was the middle of the summer term. There were no half-term holidays at the Court, but somehow the influence of holiday time had already got into the air. The young girls had tired themselves out with play, and the older ones lay about in hammocks, or strolled in twos or[Pg 2] threes up and down the wide gravel6 walk which separated the house from the gardens.
 
The ages of these fifty girls ranged from seventeen to five, but from seventeen down to five on this special hot summer's evening one topic of conversation might have been heard on every tongue.
 
What would the new girl be like? Was she rich or poor, handsome or ugly, tall or short, dark or fair? Why did she come in the middle of the term, and why did Mrs. Freeman, and Miss Delicia, and Miss Patience make such a fuss about her?
 
Other new girls had arrived, and only the faintest rumors7 had got out about them beforehand.
 
A couple of maids had been seen carrying a new trunk upstairs, or old Piper had been discovered crawling down the avenue with his shaky cab, and shakier horse, and then the new girl had appeared at tea-time and been formally introduced, and if she were shy had got over it as best she could, and had soon discovered her place in class, and there was an end of the matter.
 
But this new girl was not following out any of the old precedents8.
 
She was coming at mid-term, which in itself was rather exceptional.
 
Mrs. Freeman and Miss Patience had driven away in a very smart carriage with a pair of horses to meet her.
 
Miss Delicia was fussing in and out of the house, and picking fresh strawberries, and nodding to the girls she happened to meet with a kind of suppressed delight.
 
What could it all mean? It really was most exciting.
 
The smaller girls chatted volubly about the matter, and little Violet Temple, aged9 ten, and of course one of the small girls, so far forgot herself as to run up to[Pg 3] Dorothy Collingwood, clasp her hand affectionately round the tall girl's arm, and whisper in her impetuous, eager way:
 
"I'm almost certain, Dolly, that she's to sleep in a room by herself, for I saw the Blue Room being got ready. I peeped in as we were going down to dinner, and I noticed such jolly new furniture—pale blue, and all to match. Oh, what is it, Olive? Now you've pinched my arm."
 
"Run back to your companions this minute, miss," said Olive Moore. "You're getting to be a perfect tittle-tattle, Violet. There, I'm not angry, child, but you must learn not to talk about everything you see."
 
Violet frowned all over her fair, small face, but Olive Moore, a sixth-form girl, was too powerful an individual to be lightly disregarded. She shrugged11 her shoulders therefore, and walked sulkily away.
 
"Why did you speak so sharply to her, Olive?" exclaimed Dorothy. "After all, her curiosity is but natural—I must even own that I share it myself."
 
"So do I, Dorothy, if it comes to that, but Violet must be made to know her place. She is one of those little encroachers without respect of persons, who can become absolute nuisances if they are encouraged. But there, we have said enough about her. Ruth and Janet are going to sit in 'The Lookout12' for a little; they want to discuss the subject of the Fancy Fair. Shall we come and join them?"
 
Dorothy turned with her companion; they walked along the wide gravel sweep, then entered a narrow path which wound gradually up-hill. They soon reached a rural tower, which was called by the girls "The Lookout," mounted some steep steps, and found[Pg 4] themselves standing13 on a little platform, where two other girls were waiting to receive them.
 
Ruth Bury was short and dark, but Janet May, her companion, was extremely slim and fair. She would have been a pretty girl but for the somewhat disagreeable expression of her face.
 
"Here you are," exclaimed the two pairs of lips eagerly.
 
"Sit down, Dorothy," cried Ruth, "we have kept your favorite armchair vacant for you. Now, then, to discuss the Fancy Fair in all its bearings. Is it not kind of Mrs. Freeman to consent to our having it? She says it is quite an unusual thing for girls like us to do, but in the cause of that poor little baby, and because we wish the Fancy Fair to be our break-up treat, she consents. The only stipulation14 she makes is that we arrange the whole programme without troubling her."
 
"Yes," continued Janet, "she met me half an hour ago, and told me to let you know, Dorothy, and you, Olive, and any other girls who happen to be specially interested, that we are to form our programme, and then ask her to give us an audience. She will look herself into all our plans, and tell us which can and cannot be carried into effect. The only other thing she stipulates15 is that we do not neglect our studies, and that we leave room in the happy day's proceedings16 for the distribution of the prizes."
 
While Janet was speaking, Dorothy, who had refused to seat herself in the armchair assigned to her, and whose clear, bright blue eyes were roving eagerly all over the beautiful summer landscape, exclaimed in an eager voice:
 
"After all, what does the Fancy Fair signify—I[Pg 5] mean—oh, don't be shocked, girls—I mean, what does it signify compared to a real living present interest? While we are discussing what is to take place in six weeks' time, Mrs. Freeman and Miss Patience are driving up the avenue with somebody else. Girls, the new inmate17 of Mulberry Court has begun to put in an appearance on the scene."
 
"Oh, let me look; do let me look!" cried Ruth, while Olive and Janet both pressed eagerly forward.
 
From where they stood they obtained a very distinct although somewhat bird's-eye view of the winding18 avenue and quickly approaching carriage. Mrs. Freeman's tall and familiar figure was too well known to be worthy19, in that supreme20 moment, of even a passing comment. Miss Patience looked as angular and as like herself as ever; but a girl, who sat facing the two ladies—a girl who wore a large shady hat, and whose light dress and gay ribbons fluttered in the summer breeze—upon this girl the eyes of the four watchers in the "Lookout" tower were fixed21 with devouring22 curiosity.
 
"Well, I never!" exclaimed Dorothy, after a pause. "I don't suppose Mrs. Freeman will allow that style of wardrobe long. See, girls, do see, how her long blue ribbons stream in the breeze; and her hat! it is absolutely covered with roses—I'm convinced they are roses. Oh, what would I not give for an opera glass to enable me to take a nearer view. Whoever that young person is, she intends to take the shine out of us. Why, she is dressed as if she had just come from a garden party."
 
"I don't believe she's a new schoolgirl at all," cried Ruth; "she's just a visitor come to stay for a day or two with Mrs. Freeman. No schoolgirl that ever[Pg 6] breathed would dare to present such a young lady, grown-up appearance. There, girls, don't let's waste any more time over her; let's turn our attention to the much more important matter of the Fancy Fair."
 
Notwithstanding these various criticisms, the carriage with its occupants calmly pursued its way, and was presently lost to view in the courtyard at the side of the house.
 
"Now, do let us be sensible," said Janet, turning to her companions. "We have seen all that there is to be seen. However hard we guess we cannot solve the mystery. Either a new companion is coming among us, who, I have no doubt, will be as commonplace as commonplace can be, or Mrs. Freeman is receiving a young lady visitor. Supper will decide the point, and as that is not half an hour away I suppose we can exist for the present without worrying our brains any further."
 
"Dear Janey, you always were the soul of sense," remarked Dorothy, in a somewhat languid voice. "For my part I pity those poor little mites23, Violet and the rest of them. I know they are just as curious with regard to the issue of events as we are, and yet I can see them at this moment, with my mental vision, being driven like sheep into the fold. They'll be in bed, poor mites, when we are satisfying our curiosity."
 
"You have a perfect mania24 for those children, Dorothy," exclaimed Olive. "I call it an impertinence on their parts to worry themselves about sixth-form girls. What's the matter, Janet? Why that contraction25 of your angel brow?"
 
"I want us to utilize26 our opportunities," said Janet. "We have a few minutes all to ourselves to discuss the[Pg 7] Fancy Fair, and we fritter it away on that tiresome27 new girl."
 
"Well, let's settle to business now," said Ruth; "I'm sure I'm more than willing. Who has got a pencil and paper?"
 
Dorothy pulled an envelope out of her pocket. Olive searched into the recesses28 of hers to hunt up a lead pencil, and Janet continued to speak in her tranquil29, round tones.
 
"The first thing to do is to appoint a committee," she began.
 
"O Janey," exclaimed two of the other girls in a breath, "a committee does sound so absurdly formal."
 
"Never mind, it is the correct thing to do. In a matter of this kind we are nothing if we are not businesslike. Now, who is coming to interrupt us?"
 
Steps—several steps—were heard clattering30 up the stone stairs of the little tower, and two or three girls of the middle school, with roughly tossed heads and excited faces, burst upon the seclusion31 of the four sixth-form girls.
 
"O Dolly," they exclaimed, running up to their favorite, "she has come—we have seen her! She is very tall, and—and——"
 
"Do let me speak, Marion," exclaimed little Violet Temple, coloring all over her round face in her excitement and interest. "You know I got the first glimpse of her. I did, you know I did. I was hiding under the laurel arch, and I saw her quite close. It's awfully32 unfair of anyone else to tell, isn't it, Dolly?"
 
"Of course it is, Violet," replied Miss Collingwood in her good-natured way. "But what a naughty imp10 you were to hide under the laurel arch. The wonder[Pg 8] is you did not get right in the way of the horses' hoofs33."
 
"Much I cared for that when I had a chance of seeing her," remarked Violet. "I did get a splendid peep. She's awfully tall, and she was splendidly dressed; and O Dolly! O Ruthie! O Janey! she's just lovely!"
 
"I wish you'd go away, child!" said Janet in a decidedly cross tone. "What are all you small girls doing out and about at this hour? Surely it's time for you to be in bed. What can Miss Marshall be about not to have fetched you before now?"
 
"Cross-patch!" murmured Violet, turning her back on Janet. "Come, Marion; come, Pauline, we won't tell her any more. We'll tell you, Dolly, of course, but we won't tell Janet. Come, Marion, let's go."
 
The children disappeared in as frantic34 haste to be off as they were a few minutes ago to arrive.
 
"Now, let's go on," said Janet, in her calm tones. "Let us try and settle something before the supper bell rings. We must have a committee, that goes without saying. Suppose we four girls form it."
 
"What about Evelyn?" inquired Dorothy.
 
When she said this a quick change flitted over Janet's face. She bit her lips, and, after a very brief pause, said in a voice of would-be indifference35:
 
"I don't suppose that Evelyn Percival is to rule the school. She is away at present, and we can't wait on her will and pleasure. Let's form our committee, and do without her."
 
"It's a distinct insult," began Dolly. "I disapprove36—I disapprove."
 
"And so do I"—"And I"—cried both Ruth and Olive.
 
[Pg 9]
 
"Well," said Janet, "if you insist on spoiling everything, girls, you must. You know what Evelyn is."
 
"Only the head girl of the school," remarked Dolly in a soft tone. "But of course a person of not the smallest consequence. Well, Janet, what next?"
 
"As I was saying," began Janet——
 
A loud booming sound filled the air.
 
Ruth clapped her hands.
 
"Hurrah37! Hurrah! Supper!" she cried. "Your committee must keep, Janet. Now for the satisfaction of rampant38, raging curiosity. Dolly, will you race me to the house?"
 

点击收听单词发音收听单词发音  

1 plantation oOWxz     
n.种植园,大农场
参考例句:
  • His father-in-law is a plantation manager.他岳父是个种植园经营者。
  • The plantation owner has possessed himself of a vast piece of land.这个种植园主把大片土地占为己有。
2 delightful 6xzxT     
adj.令人高兴的,使人快乐的
参考例句:
  • We had a delightful time by the seashore last Sunday.上星期天我们在海滨玩得真痛快。
  • Peter played a delightful melody on his flute.彼得用笛子吹奏了一支欢快的曲子。
3 situated JiYzBH     
adj.坐落在...的,处于某种境地的
参考例句:
  • The village is situated at the margin of a forest.村子位于森林的边缘。
  • She is awkwardly situated.她的处境困难。
4 undoubtedly Mfjz6l     
adv.确实地,无疑地
参考例句:
  • It is undoubtedly she who has said that.这话明明是她说的。
  • He is undoubtedly the pride of China.毫无疑问他是中国的骄傲。
5 specially Hviwq     
adv.特定地;特殊地;明确地
参考例句:
  • They are specially packaged so that they stack easily.它们经过特别包装以便于堆放。
  • The machine was designed specially for demolishing old buildings.这种机器是专为拆毁旧楼房而设计的。
6 gravel s6hyT     
n.砂跞;砂砾层;结石
参考例句:
  • We bought six bags of gravel for the garden path.我们购买了六袋碎石用来铺花园的小路。
  • More gravel is needed to fill the hollow in the drive.需要更多的砾石来填平车道上的坑洼。
7 rumors 2170bcd55c0e3844ecb4ef13fef29b01     
n.传闻( rumor的名词复数 );[古]名誉;咕哝;[古]喧嚷v.传闻( rumor的第三人称单数 );[古]名誉;咕哝;[古]喧嚷
参考例句:
  • Rumors have it that the school was burned down. 有谣言说学校给烧掉了。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • Rumors of a revolt were afloat. 叛变的谣言四起。 来自《简明英汉词典》
8 precedents 822d1685d50ee9bc7c3ee15a208b4a7e     
引用单元; 范例( precedent的名词复数 ); 先前出现的事例; 前例; 先例
参考例句:
  • There is no lack of precedents in this connection. 不乏先例。
  • He copied after bad precedents. 他仿效恶例。
9 aged 6zWzdI     
adj.年老的,陈年的
参考例句:
  • He had put on weight and aged a little.他胖了,也老点了。
  • He is aged,but his memory is still good.他已年老,然而记忆力还好。
10 imp Qy3yY     
n.顽童
参考例句:
  • What a little imp you are!你这个淘气包!
  • There's a little imp always running with him.他总有一个小鬼跟着。
11 shrugged 497904474a48f991a3d1961b0476ebce     
vt.耸肩(shrug的过去式与过去分词形式)
参考例句:
  • Sam shrugged and said nothing. 萨姆耸耸肩膀,什么也没说。
  • She shrugged, feigning nonchalance. 她耸耸肩,装出一副无所谓的样子。 来自《简明英汉词典》
12 lookout w0sxT     
n.注意,前途,瞭望台
参考例句:
  • You can see everything around from the lookout.从了望台上你可以看清周围的一切。
  • It's a bad lookout for the company if interest rates don't come down.如果利率降不下来,公司的前景可就不妙了。
13 standing 2hCzgo     
n.持续,地位;adj.永久的,不动的,直立的,不流动的
参考例句:
  • After the earthquake only a few houses were left standing.地震过后只有几幢房屋还立着。
  • They're standing out against any change in the law.他们坚决反对对法律做任何修改。
14 stipulation FhryP     
n.契约,规定,条文;条款说明
参考例句:
  • There's no stipulation as to the amount you can invest. 没有关于投资额的规定。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • The only stipulation the building society makes is that house must be insured. 建屋互助会作出的唯一规定是房屋必须保险。 来自《简明英汉词典》
15 stipulates 5c9afbf42331f6dbc8e7cd0e43b34e17     
n.(尤指在协议或建议中)规定,约定,讲明(条件等)( stipulate的名词复数 );规定,明确要求v.(尤指在协议或建议中)规定,约定,讲明(条件等)( stipulate的第三人称单数 );规定,明确要求
参考例句:
  • The trade contract stipulates for the settlement of balances in RMB. 贸易合同规定余额以人民币结算。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
  • The contract stipulates for the use of seasoned timber. 合同上订明用干透的木料。 来自辞典例句
16 proceedings Wk2zvX     
n.进程,过程,议程;诉讼(程序);公报
参考例句:
  • He was released on bail pending committal proceedings. 他交保获释正在候审。
  • to initiate legal proceedings against sb 对某人提起诉讼
17 inmate l4cyN     
n.被收容者;(房屋等的)居住人;住院人
参考例句:
  • I am an inmate of that hospital.我住在那家医院。
  • The prisoner is his inmate.那个囚犯和他同住一起。
18 winding Ue7z09     
n.绕,缠,绕组,线圈
参考例句:
  • A winding lane led down towards the river.一条弯弯曲曲的小路通向河边。
  • The winding trail caused us to lose our orientation.迂回曲折的小道使我们迷失了方向。
19 worthy vftwB     
adj.(of)值得的,配得上的;有价值的
参考例句:
  • I did not esteem him to be worthy of trust.我认为他不值得信赖。
  • There occurred nothing that was worthy to be mentioned.没有值得一提的事发生。
20 supreme PHqzc     
adj.极度的,最重要的;至高的,最高的
参考例句:
  • It was the supreme moment in his life.那是他一生中最重要的时刻。
  • He handed up the indictment to the supreme court.他把起诉书送交最高法院。
21 fixed JsKzzj     
adj.固定的,不变的,准备好的;(计算机)固定的
参考例句:
  • Have you two fixed on a date for the wedding yet?你们俩选定婚期了吗?
  • Once the aim is fixed,we should not change it arbitrarily.目标一旦确定,我们就不应该随意改变。
22 devouring c4424626bb8fc36704aee0e04e904dcf     
吞没( devour的现在分词 ); 耗尽; 津津有味地看; 狼吞虎咽地吃光
参考例句:
  • The hungry boy was devouring his dinner. 那饥饿的孩子狼吞虎咽地吃饭。
  • He is devouring novel after novel. 他一味贪看小说。
23 mites d5df57c25d6a534a9cab886a451cde43     
n.(尤指令人怜悯的)小孩( mite的名词复数 );一点点;一文钱;螨
参考例句:
  • The only discovered animals are water bears, mites, microscopic rotifers. 能够发现的动物只有海蜘蛛、螨和微小的轮虫。 来自辞典例句
  • Mites are frequently found on eggs. 螨会经常出现在蛋上。 来自辞典例句
24 mania 9BWxu     
n.疯狂;躁狂症,狂热,癖好
参考例句:
  • Football mania is sweeping the country.足球热正风靡全国。
  • Collecting small items can easily become a mania.收藏零星物品往往容易变成一种癖好。
25 contraction sn6yO     
n.缩略词,缩写式,害病
参考例句:
  • The contraction of this muscle raises the lower arm.肌肉的收缩使前臂抬起。
  • The forces of expansion are balanced by forces of contraction.扩张力和收缩力相互平衡。
26 utilize OiPwz     
vt.使用,利用
参考例句:
  • The cook will utilize the leftover ham bone to make soup.厨师要用吃剩的猪腿骨做汤。
  • You must utilize all available resources.你必须利用一切可以得到的资源。
27 tiresome Kgty9     
adj.令人疲劳的,令人厌倦的
参考例句:
  • His doubts and hesitations were tiresome.他的疑惑和犹豫令人厌烦。
  • He was tiresome in contending for the value of his own labors.他老为他自己劳动的价值而争强斗胜,令人生厌。
28 recesses 617c7fa11fa356bfdf4893777e4e8e62     
n.壁凹( recess的名词复数 );(工作或业务活动的)中止或暂停期间;学校的课间休息;某物内部的凹形空间v.把某物放在墙壁的凹处( recess的第三人称单数 );将(墙)做成凹形,在(墙)上做壁龛;休息,休会,休庭
参考例句:
  • I could see the inmost recesses. 我能看见最深处。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • I had continually pushed my doubts to the darker recesses of my mind. 我一直把怀疑深深地隐藏在心中。 来自《简明英汉词典》
29 tranquil UJGz0     
adj. 安静的, 宁静的, 稳定的, 不变的
参考例句:
  • The boy disturbed the tranquil surface of the pond with a stick. 那男孩用棍子打破了平静的池面。
  • The tranquil beauty of the village scenery is unique. 这乡村景色的宁静是绝无仅有的。
30 clattering f876829075e287eeb8e4dc1cb4972cc5     
发出咔哒声(clatter的现在分词形式)
参考例句:
  • Typewriters keep clattering away. 打字机在不停地嗒嗒作响。
  • The typewriter was clattering away. 打字机啪嗒啪嗒地响着。
31 seclusion 5DIzE     
n.隐遁,隔离
参考例句:
  • She liked to sunbathe in the seclusion of her own garden.她喜欢在自己僻静的花园里晒日光浴。
  • I live very much in seclusion these days.这些天我过着几乎与世隔绝的生活。
32 awfully MPkym     
adv.可怕地,非常地,极端地
参考例句:
  • Agriculture was awfully neglected in the past.过去农业遭到严重忽视。
  • I've been feeling awfully bad about it.对这我一直感到很难受。
33 hoofs ffcc3c14b1369cfeb4617ce36882c891     
n.(兽的)蹄,马蹄( hoof的名词复数 )v.(兽的)蹄,马蹄( hoof的第三人称单数 )
参考例句:
  • The stamp of the horse's hoofs on the wooden floor was loud. 马蹄踏在木头地板上的声音很响。 来自辞典例句
  • The noise of hoofs called him back to the other window. 马蹄声把他又唤回那扇窗子口。 来自辞典例句
34 frantic Jfyzr     
adj.狂乱的,错乱的,激昂的
参考例句:
  • I've had a frantic rush to get my work done.我急急忙忙地赶完工作。
  • He made frantic dash for the departing train.他发疯似地冲向正开出的火车。
35 indifference k8DxO     
n.不感兴趣,不关心,冷淡,不在乎
参考例句:
  • I was disappointed by his indifference more than somewhat.他的漠不关心使我很失望。
  • He feigned indifference to criticism of his work.他假装毫不在意别人批评他的作品。
36 disapprove 9udx3     
v.不赞成,不同意,不批准
参考例句:
  • I quite disapprove of his behaviour.我很不赞同他的行为。
  • She wants to train for the theatre but her parents disapprove.她想训练自己做戏剧演员,但她的父母不赞成。
37 hurrah Zcszx     
int.好哇,万岁,乌拉
参考例句:
  • We hurrah when we see the soldiers go by.我们看到士兵经过时向他们欢呼。
  • The assistants raised a formidable hurrah.助手们发出了一片震天的欢呼声。
38 rampant LAuzm     
adj.(植物)蔓生的;狂暴的,无约束的
参考例句:
  • Sickness was rampant in the area.该地区疾病蔓延。
  • You cannot allow children to rampant through the museum.你不能任由小孩子在博物馆里乱跑。


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