I awoke to a fantasia of sunlight and the golden notes of Sue's voice. School again! Whenever Sue sings I know I am at school in a dormitory with three other girls, and I must get up as soon as I can drag myself away from the warm mould I have created, lest I am late for breakfast.
But that was the first full day of term, and one where most rules are in abeyance and lessons consist only of preparations for the long year to come. Facing two years of hard work with a daunting concentration, I did not feel very willing to haul myself from beneath the bedclothes, but Sue's song brightened my mood, as always, and half an hour later we had exited the dormitory and were making our way downstairs.
"I'd better check up on Kate," I said to Sue, and she nodded. Her sister Prunella had been left down in the First Form for a second year, being young for her ability and not quite up to the work of the Second Form in several subjects. She was outstanding at the sciences, but in forming sentences with strict attention to grammatical correctness she fell short of expectations, and consequently Sue had not to worry about her this year.
I took a detour to the landing dedicated to the respective Lower School, and felt myself instantly mobbed by tides of young girls pushing and shoving and giggling. Why is it that the Lower School are so very adept at treading on people's toes, and not remotely skilled in looking before they cross a corridor? There always seems to be such masses of the things, whereas the sedate Sixth Formers, despite our superior size, take up half as much space in the corridor, perhaps because of our less heaty desire to race to lessons with as much speed and competition as short legs and unobservant eyes can muster, and our greater powers in the simple art of walking on the left side of the corridor, as opposed to taking up the entire width of it.
Having reached Kate's dormitory, which I had discovered by dint of much trial and error the previous evening, I knocked and went in, to see that there was but one girl in the room - a neat, nimble child with dark brown hair parted down the middle and set in a fringe a little too high up her forehead, and superbly protruding front teeth.
"Is my sister Kathleen about, do you know?" I queried of her, and she ceased folding her pyjamas to look at me from hazel eyes. She looked a little spaced out and unused to her surroundings, but a nice girl despite it.
"Which one is she?" she said with a confused air. "I don't know many of their names yet."
I described Kate, and the girl nodded.
"I think she was the one who went wondering about really early in her pyjamas, and came back in talking about a boy with red hair who she met on the cliffs."
"Kate?" I said with an incredulous laugh. I couldn't imagine her talking to a boy in all seriousness down at the cove. Why, Kate was scared of boys! And in her pyjamas! What a ninny! - but an adorable one nevertheless. There is nothing I wouldn't do to protect Kate. She feels like my other half. A bit like Will, but in a different way. He is just a boy - though he'd scold me to hear me say it -, but Kate is my sister.
"And what is your name?" I asked of her as she tightened her tie. I, contrarily, loosened mine - not so as it would look scruffy, but so as it would be socially acceptable within my friendship group.
"Margary," said she. "Margary Symphorien."
An unusual name, I thought. "I'm Emerald Motor, Kate's sister. Have you ever been to school before?"
"No; my sister went to our local High School, but they decided to send me to boarding school because our town sort of hated us after Dad was arrested."
"Oh, how awful!" I cried, truly horrified.
"He's innocent," said Margary stubbornly, though she was not hostile.
"I take your word for it," I said, mentally deciding to ask Kate if she wouldn't look after this girl a little, "and what about some breakfast?"
"That would be nice," she said, her stomach rumbling like a boding thunderstorm.
And so I entered the dining hall that morning with a small First-Former I hadn't met half an hour ago, hopefully not to the jealousy of Kate, who can be a proud little puppy, I might say.