Read CHAPTER VIII - "YOU HAVE WAKED ME TOO SOON" of A World of Girls The Story of a School , free online book, by L. T. Meade, on

When Hester reached her bedroom after prayers on that second evening, she was dismayed to find that she no longer could consider the pretty little bedroom her own.  It had not only an occupant, but an occupant who had left untidy traces of her presence on the floor, for a stocking lay in one direction and a muddy boot sprawled in another.  The newcomer had herself got into bed, where she lay with a quantity of red hair tossed about on the pillow, and a heavy freckled face turned upward, with the eyes shut and the mouth slightly open.

As Hester entered the room, from these parted lips came unmistakable and loud snores.  She stood still dismayed.

“How terrible!” she said to herself; “oh, what a girl!  I cannot sleep in the room with any one who snores ­I really cannot!”

She stood perfectly still, with her hands clasped before her, and her eyes fixed with almost ludicrous dismay on this unexpected trial.  As she gazed, a fresh discovery caused her to utter an exclamation of horror aloud.

The newcomer had curled herself up comfortably in her bed.  Suddenly, to her surprise, a voice said very quietly, without a flicker of expression coming over the calm face, or the eyes even making an effort to open: 

“Are you my new schoolmate?”

“Yes,” said Hester, “I am sorry to say I am.”

“Oh, don’t be sorry, there’s a good creature; there’s nothing to be sorry about.  I’ll stop snoring when I turn on my side ­it’s all right.  I always snore for half an hour to rest my back, and the time is nearly up.  Don’t trouble me to open my eyes, I am not the least curious to see you.  You have a cross voice, but you’ll get used to me after a bit.”

“But you’re in my bed,” said Hester.  “Will you please to get into your own?”

“Oh, no, don’t ask me; I like your bed best.  I slept in it the whole of last term.  I changed the sheets myself, so it does not matter.  Do you mind putting my muddy boots outside the door, and folding up my stockings?  I forgot them, and I shall have a bad mark if Danesbury comes in.  Good-night ­I’m turning on my side ­I won’t snore any more.”

The heavy face was now only seen in profile, and Hester, knowing that Miss Danesbury would soon appear to put out the candle, had to hurry into the other bed as fast as she could; something impelled her, however, to take up the muddy boots with two very gingerly fingers, and place them outside the door.

She slept better this second night, and was not quite so startled the next morning when the remorseless gong aroused her from slumber.  The maid-servant came in as usual to light the candles, and to place two cans of hot water by the two wash-hand stands.

“You are awake, miss?” she said to Hester.

“Oh, yes,” replied Hester almost cheerfully.

“Well, that’s all right,” said the servant.  “Now I must try and rouse Miss Drummond, and she always takes a deal of waking; and if you don’t mind, miss, it will be an act of kindness to call out to her in the middle of your own dressing ­that is, if I don’t wake her effectual.”

With these words, the housemaid approached the bed where the red-haired girl lay again on her back, and again snoring loudly.

“Miss Drummond, wake, miss; it’s half-past six.  Wake up, miss ­I have brought your hot water.”

“Eh? ­what?” said the voice in the bed, sleepily; “don’t bother me, Hannah ­I ­I’ve determined not to ride this morning; go away” ­then more sleepily, and in a lower key, “Tell Percy he can’t bring the dogs in here.”

“I ain’t neither your Hannah, nor your Percy, nor one of the dogs,” replied the rather irate Alice.  “There, get up, miss, do.  I never see such a young lady for sleeping ­never.”

“I won’t be bothered,” said the occupant of the bed, and now she turned deliberately on her side and snored more loudly than ever.

“There’s no help for it,” said Alice:  “I have to do it nearly every morning, so don’t you be startled, miss.  Poor thing, she would never have a good conduct mark but for me.  Now then, here goes.  You needn’t be frightened, miss ­she don’t mind it the least bit in the world.”

Here Alice seized a rough Turkish towel, placed it under the sleepy head with its shock of red hair, and, dipping a sponge in a basin of icy cold water, dashed it on the white face.

This remedy proved effectual:  two large pale blue eyes opened wide, a voice said in a tranquil and unmoved tone: 

“Oh, thank you, Alice.  So I’m back at this horrid, detestable school again!”

“Get your feet well on the carpet, Miss Drummond, before you falls off again,” said the servant.  “Now then, you’d better get dressed as fast as possible, miss ­you have lost five minutes already.”

Hester, who had laughed immoderately during this little scene, was already up and going through the processes of her toilet.  Miss Drummond, seated on the edge of her bed, regarded her with sleepy eyes.

“So you are my new room-mate?” she said.  “What’s your name?”

“Hester Thornton,” replied Hetty with dignity.

“Oh ­I’m Susy Drummond ­you may call me Susy if you like.”

Hester made no response to this gracious invitation.

Miss Drummond sat motionless, gazing down at her toes.

“Had not you better get dressed?” said Hester after a long pause, for she really feared the young lady would fall asleep where she was sitting.

Miss Drummond started.

“Dressed!  So I will, dear creature.  Have the sweet goodness to hand me my clothes.”

“Where are they?” asked Hester rather crossly, for she did not care to act as lady’s-maid.

“They are over there, on a chair, in that lovely heap with a shawl flung over them.  There, toss them this way ­I’ll get into them somehow.”

Miss Drummond did manage to get into her garments; but her whole appearance was so heavy and untidy when she was dressed, that Hester by the very force of contrast felt obliged to take extra pains with her own toilet.

“Now, that’s a comfort,” said Susan, “I’m in my clothes.  How bitter it is!  There’s one comfort, the chapel will be warm.  I often catch forty winks in chapel ­that is, if I’m lucky enough to get behind one of the tall girls, where Mrs. Willis won’t see me.  It does seem to me,” continued Susan in a meditative tone, “the strangest thing why girls are not allowed sleep enough.”

Hester was pinning a clean collar round her neck when Miss Drummond came up close, leaned over the dressing-table, and regarded her with languid curiosity.

“A penny for your thoughts, Miss Prunes and Prism.”

“Why do you call me that?” said Hester angrily.

“Because you look like it, sweet.  Now, don’t be cross, little pet ­no one ever yet was cross with sleepy Susy Drummond.  Now, tell me, love, what had you for breakfast yesterday?”

“I’m sure I forget,” said Hester.

“You forget? ­how extraordinary!  You’re sure that it was not buttered scones?  We have them sometimes, and I tell you they are enough even to keep a girl awake.  Well, at least you can let me know if the eggs were very stale, and the coffee very weak, and whether the butter was second-rate Dorset, or good and fresh.  Come now ­my breakfast is of immense importance to me, I assure you.”

“I dare say,” answered Hester.  “You can see for yourself this morning what is on the table ­I can only inform you that it was good enough for me, and that I don’t remember what it was.”

“Oh, dear!” exclaimed Susan Drummond, “I’m afraid she has a little temper of her own ­poor little room-mate.  I wonder if chocolate-creams would sweeten that little temper.”

“Please don’t talk ­I’m going to say my prayers,” said Hester.

She did kneel down, and made a slight effort to ask God to help her through the day’s work and the day’s play.  In consequence, she rose from her knees with a feeling of strength and sweetness which even the feeblest prayer when uttered in earnest can always give.

The prayer-gong now sounded, and all the girls assembled in the chapel.  Miss Drummond was greeted by many appreciative nods, and more than one pair of longing eyes gazed in the direction of her pockets, which stuck out in the most ungainly fashion.

Hester was relieved to find that her room-mate did not share her class in school, nor sit anywhere near her at table.

When the half-hour’s recreation after breakfast arrived, Hester, determined to be beholden to none of her schoolmates for companionship, seated herself comfortably in an easy chair with a new book.  Presently she was startled by a little stream of lollipops falling in a shower over her head, down her neck, and into her lap.  She started up with an expression of disgust.  Instantly Miss Drummond sank into the vacated chair.

“Thank you, love,” she said, in a cozy, purring voice.  “Eat your lollipops, and look at me; I’m going to sleep.  Please pull my toe when Danesbury comes in.  Oh, fie!  Prunes and Prisms ­not so cross ­eat your lollipops; they will sweeten the expression of that ­little ­face.”

The last words came out drowsily.  As she said “face,” Miss Drummond’s languid eyes were closed ­she was fast asleep.