Miss Timber refrained from repeating Stacie’s broken comments that she had been a complete failure as Head Girl, and was anxious to leave so as not to have to live it down among her schoolmates. Nor did she repeat Stacie’s earnest entreaties for demotion and punishment for herself, and later, when this was not granted, admitted herself a great coward and Nellie Russell a fighter, though a girl whom she still disliked.
“You will never love your enemies until you do something love-worthy for them,” said Miss Timber wisely.
“Then make her Head Girl after me and let her undo all the trouble I’ve caused by my stupid pride,” pleaded Stacie through sniffles. “She’ll be wonderful, just as I’m a coward.”
“You will never be a great leader till you’ve learned courage,” said Miss Timber.
“It’s done now. I need to start again at college,” replied Stacie. “I can’t stay on here any longer, and I’m sorry. But I’m not sorry, because Nellie will be here in my place, and she’ll do a much better job than me.”
“Perhaps,” Miss Timber had replied gently.
“I’ll do it,” Nellie said resolutely, as the memory faded from Miss Timber’s sentience.
“You will do a wonderful job,” promised Miss Timber just as Stacie had predicted. “You need to build in confidence, but you are a born leader of girls. They all like you and will follow you, and you will have little trouble with any but the prefect team.”
Nellie was speechless at the praise.
“It’s true,” said Miss Timber. “And now, as it is getting rather late in the day for this, and you must have much important organisation to be getting on with, have you any further questions?”
“Yes,” said Nellie on an impulse.
Miss Timber raised her expressive eyebrows.
“It might be horrible impertinence, but do you think it would be at all possible to introduce a special prize for the most promising Fifth Former, to be awarded whenever you see fit? It need only be a book voucher or a trinket. I just thought I’d suggest it.”
Miss Timber smiled thoughtfully. “Any special reason for this proposal?”
Nellie’s cheeks flushed a pale pink. “There was a girl who I’d like to thank for something, and I didn’t know how,” she confessed. “Actually that was completely spontaneous.”
“I’ll think about it,” Miss Timber promised.