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A Certain Something

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It was an odd feeling to stand in the empty prefects’ room and think that now she was Head Girl. Gillian Linton had come down early from the Sonnalpe with Jo and Mrs Russell, and the Chalet School was still awaiting the return of the rest of its pupils. Her new position wasn’t a surprise, of course. Gillian had been told months ago. She wasn’t really afraid that she couldn’t do it, either. She had been a decent prefect for a while now and it was only to be for one term, with Hilary already waiting in the wings.

What she couldn’t imagine, however, was living up to the roll call of girls who had held that position before her. How could she in one term alone even begin to make the sort of mark left by Gisela or Grizel, Mary Burnett or Joey herself – people who were legend now, even to those like herself who hadn’t necessarily been at school with them.

It didn’t really matter, of course. Gillian had always been the conscientious one of the family and she would do her best – and she had a jolly decent set of prefects to back her up. That was all that Mrs Russell and the Head had asked of her, and she could do that.

“Penny for them,” said Joey suddenly from beside her, slipping an arm through hers. “Not worried, are you, Gill?”

Gillian turned to smile at her. “I am nervous, I suppose. I know I can do it, but – well, I keep thinking about all the others.” She waved a hand around at the physical oddments given by former Head Girls that adorned the room. “I’d like to think I could give the school back something the way they did, but it’s only one term. How could I?”

“Haven’t I told you about when they asked me to be Head Girl?” said Joey. “I was horrified. I didn’t want to do it at all – and I didn’t turn out too badly, did I? You’ll be splendid.”

Gillian laughed. “Yes, well, it is always like you to go from one extreme to another!”

“Anyway,” Joey added, becoming more serious, “you needn’t worry about that. You do that already, in plenty of ways. You’ve got – well, you’ve got something, you know.” She gesticulated wildly with her hands. “Character, I mean.”

“So speaks the future authoress.”

“And don’t you forget it,” said Joey with a grin. “Whatever it is, and whatever you might say about my vocabulary, you do, Gill, and people feel it. You have quite a lot of influence on the other girls, especially the younger ones.”

Gillian shook her head.

“You do. Remember when you and Joyce first came? I noticed it then. Of course, what counts is how you use it – but you’re much too sober and well-behaved to be a bad influence, unlike yours truly –”

“Joey!” said Gillian in horror. “I’m not a prig!”

Joey straightened up and released her friend as she headed back to the door. “Of course not. You wouldn’t have that sort of influence if you were. And, anyway, you can mock, but,” she said, putting on her best grandmotherly tone, “you mark my words, young lady. You’ll see.”

“Well,” said Gillian, “I’ll do my level best – saints can’t ask for more.”

She gave the room one last look before following Joey out, and this time couldn’t help also feeling a certain excitement and pride. It was a grand thing to be Head Girl of the Chalet School, after all.