It was Ken Peters’ turn to be in charge.
“Right, girls,” she began authoritatively, “Miss Trevor has already notified me that she is going to be five minutes late, so let’s start without her. Shall we decide who sorts and who delivers? Hands right up for sorters.”
Every girl raised her hand.
Ken bore down on them all.
“You can’t all be sorters!” she exclaimed.
“I’ll deliver,” Nellie offered.
“Thank you.” Ken was more gracious than most of the Sixth Formers. “Though I don’t see why you should have to do it.”
“Why shouldn’t she particularly? Someone has to,” said Klipso with as much tact as she had ever been able to claim.
“Let me take charge,” Stacie said, rising from her chair near the window. “It’s obvious you’ve never had to do this before, Ken. I don’t know how you always manage to slip out of these things, but you do.”
“I’ve been put in charge, and I’ll stay in charge,” Ken stood her ground firmly. No one ever got to dictate when Stacie Whitt was around, she was determined to keep her place this time whatever the dispute. She might be hopeless, but she had been chosen, and that was surely good enough.
“Gardeners’ daughters can’t lead a group!” scoffed Stacie.
Ken flushed angrily.
“Merchant’s daughter yourself! Lacey and you are dust against my dad and his famous Scottish flower company. Won’t you hold your tongue?”
“I’m Head Girl and therefore I have the authority to order you to back down, Kendra Peters,” Stacie said with a strong exercise of false dignity.
“Oh, please stop it,” Nellie intervened, with an anxious eye cocked towards the younger girls, who were watching their elders argue with twisted fascination.
“Beggar!” Stacie spat. She was in a disgusting mood, Nellie thought in revulsion. How had Miss Timber ever chosen such a girl to lead the entire school?
Ken Peters overtopped Stacie Whitt by three inches. She now used those three inches by grabbing her ‘Head Girl’ by the shoulders and forcing her to sit once again.
“You don’t call me a beggar, you dirty girl!” Ken hissed.
Nellie could listen no longer. She hurled herself to her feet and pushed the two of them apart, shouting, “You both stop this immediately! You’re both seventeen years old and this is the most horrific example to the younger girls I have ever had the curse to witness. Top prefects, too! You should be ashamed of yourselves for indulging in such a babyish and snobbish argument!”
“Babyish argument yourself!” Stacie screamed at her.