Young tomorrow! ” “Shall we tell anyone? ” asked Betty. “Not a soul,” said Alicia. “Someone’s sure to give it away by giggling if we do. No—we’ll let dear Mr. Young spring this surprise himself on an astonished audience! ” Neither Betty nor Alicia did much prep that night Potty, who was taking prep, looked with suspicion at the two plotters and wondered what was up. It was obvious that their thoughts were pleasantly and humorously engaged far elsewhere. Potty knew the signs. She warned Miss Parker. “Those two in your form, Alicia and Betty, are up to something. Miss Parker. Look out tomorrow.
You’ll have an unaccountable smell, or a curious noise, or an orgy of book-dropping or something. ” “Thanks. ” said Miss Parker grimly. I’ll watch out. ” But she could see nothing out of the way in her first lesson, or in her second one either. The girls worked much as usual. Only Alicia and Betty seemed restless. But then they often were, especially Alicia, whose quick mind often chafed at the slower rate of the others. The lesson before Break was singing. Just before the second lesson was finished Betty put up her hand, “Please, Miss Parker, it’s my turn to get things ready for Mr. Young in the singing-room. May I go? Miss Parker glanced at the clock. “Yes. You have about four minutes. ” Betty flashed a quick grin at Alicia and went demurely to the door. Once outside she raced down the corridor and made her way to the singing-room. No one was there. Mr. Young was always a minute or two late, thank goodness! Betty flew to the piano stool. It was the round leather-topped kind, that could be screwed round and round. Betty took out her piece of pink chalk and rubbed it vigorously all over the top of the round stool. She was sure there was not a single spot unchalked, though, of course, she could not see anything of what she had done at all.
It certainly was invisible chalk! Then she quickly sent the stool spinning round till’ it was too low for Mr. Young. If ever it was too low or too high he had a little habit of sitting on the stool and going round and round with it till it had reached the height he liked. If only he did that today it would give the chalk a wonderful chance of getting properly on to him! Betty stacked the music ready and cleaned the blackboard. Then there came the sound of feet and the first form marched into the room under the sharp eye of Miss Potts. Then came the second form.
Alicia’s eyes were bright. Betty grinned at her and winked. Then she went to hold the door for the two mistresses to go out and for Mr. Young to come in. In he trotted, a dapper little man in a well-brushed black suit and a too-high collar. He smoothed his pointed moustache and bowed politely to the girls. “Good morning, young ladies. ” “Good morning, Mr. Young,” they chorused, and rustled their song-sheets. The lesson began. Mr. Young took some blackboard drill for five minutes, explaining various notes and signs. Then he went to the piano. Betty nudged Alicia and held her breath.
But, most annoyingly, Mr. Young did not sit down. He struck a few notes with one hand, standing facing the girls as he did so, his baton raised. “Exercises, please,” he said. “I wish to see your mouths well open, and to hear the sound coming from the Back of the Throat. ” Mr. Young set great store on the “Back of the Throat”. It was always coming into everything, exercises, songs and sight-reading. “Back of the Throat” was his one unfailing motto. Now he stood, instead of sitting, and conducted the exercises. Alicia was in agonies of disappointment. Suppose he didn’t sit down at all?
Probably the next person then, to sit down would be the accompanist of the mistress who taught dancing—and she always wore a brightly coloured frock so that the chalk wouldn’t show at all. What a waste! But Mr. Young did sit down eventually, of course. He had a new song to teach to the girls, and, as always, he wanted to play the whole thing through two or three “The chalk ought to be working now! ” times before he taught it, so that the girls could catch the hit and swing and tune of it So down he sat. Aha! That stool was once more too low! Mr. Young twirled himself vigorously round on it till it was the right height.
The girls giggled. Mr. Young could never realize how funny he was, twirling round lightly on that little stool. “Now I will play you your new song,” said Mr. Young. “You may sit to listen to it. You will hear when the chorus comes, for I will sing it to you. ” Off he started, tumty-tum-ti-tam, his hands flying up and down, and then his voice booming out at the chorus. Alicia and Betty winked at one another. The chalk ought to be working now t Three times Mr. Young played the song and then he got up. “Did you like it? ” he asked, and the girls chorused loudly. “Oh, yes, Mr. Young! Mr. Young turned towards the blackboard and picked up a piece of white chalk. At once the girls saw that he was smeared with the brightest pink at the back! They stared in delight. “Look at Mr. Young! What’s he rubbed against? Oh, do look! ” Soon the class was in a state of giggle and Mr. Young glared round. “Silence, please! What behaviour is this today? ” There was a momentary silence, but as soon as the unfortunate singing-master turned back to the board again more giggles broke out Then Irene gave one of her terrific explosions. Mr. Young flung the chalk down on the floor.
He looked as if he was about to stamp on it and probably he would have done so if the door hadn’t suddenly opened, and Miss Grayling appeared. She had someone with her. “Oh, excuse me for interrupting your class, Mr. Young,” she said. “But could you just have a word with Mr. Lemming about the piano here? ” Mr. Young had to swallow his annoyance and explain what was wrong with the piano. In doing so he turned his back to Miss Grayling who eyed this patch of brilliant pink with the utmost astonishment. The girls were as quiet as mice now, and Alicia and Betty felt distinctly anxious.
Miss Grayling turned to Sally, the head of the second form. “Will you go to the hall and fetch the clothes brush there? ” she said. “Poor Mr. Young has brushed against something. ” Sally flew off and fetched