Call of the Kiwi

Call of the Kiwi by Sarah Lark Read Free Book Online

Book: Call of the Kiwi by Sarah Lark Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sarah Lark
Tags: Historical fiction, New Zealand
“I look forward to getting to know you. You in particular, Lilian, since you will be living in the west wing where I’m the housemother. You’ll be staying in the Mozart Room. Suzanne Carruthers, one of your roommates, has just arrived. I’ll introduce you in a moment.”
    Gloria’s eyes widened. Lilian said aloud what she was thinking.
    “Couldn’t we room together, Miss Barnum? We are cousins, after all.” Lilian assumed her most beguiling expression.
    But Miss Barnum shook her head. “Gloria is much older than you. No doubt she would prefer to live with girls her own age. You’ll like it better, too, once you’ve gotten to know the other girls.”
    “Could you not make an exception in this case?” inquired Miss Bleachum. She could almost feel Gloria closing herself off again. “The girls have never been away from home before.”
    “It’s no different for any of the other students,” Miss Barnum explained firmly. “I’m sorry, girls, but you’ll adjust. Now it’s time to meet Miss Arrowstone. She’s expecting you in her office, Reverend. You know where that is, of course.”

    The headmistress’s office was located on the second floor of the main building. Christopher knocked on her office door.
    “Come in,” announced a deep voice from within.
    Sarah could not help stiffening, and Gloria tried to make herself invisible behind her. Only Lilian seemed unimpressed as she faced the corpulent headmistress, who sat enthroned behind an imposing oak desk.
    “The queen,” the pastor whispered to Sarah with a half smile. The girls were indeed reminded of Queen Victoria, who had died only a few years before. Miss Arrowstone’s face was austere, her eyes a watery blue, her lips thin. She was smiling.
    “Have I heard correctly? The students from New Zealand? Wit h . . . ” She looked questioningly back and forth from Sarah to the reverend.
    Sarah was about to introduce herself when Christopher explained: “Miss Sarah Bleachum, Miss Arrowstone. My cousin. And my, wel l . . . ” He blinked, embarrassed, at which Miss Arrowstone’s smile became even more radiant.
    It was hard for Sarah to maintain a friendly countenance. Christopher seemed to view their impending marriage as a fait accompli. What was worse, he had apparently announced the engagement to his entire social circle.
    “I’m a teacher, Miss Arrowstone,” she said. “Gloria Martyn has been my student, and as I have relatives in Europe”—she cast a brief glance at Christopher—“I’ve used the opportunity of accompanying the girls to England to renew family bonds.”
    Miss Arrowstone produced something like a giggle.
    “Family bonds, aha,” she said insinuatingly. “Well, we’re all happy for the reverend, and the parish is in great need of a female hand.” More giggling. “Surely you’ll lend him a hand in the parish while you’re here?”
    Sarah wanted to object that she was thinking more of a new position as a teacher, but Miss Arrowstone had already turned her attention to the girls. An expression of bewilderment crossed her face.
    Gloria turned away from her gaze.
    “So you’re Gloria Martyn,” she remarked. “You certainly don’t take after your mother.”
    Gloria nodded. This was hardly news to her.
    “At least not at first sight,” Miss Arrowstone said. “But your parents have suggested that you have some as of yet undiscovered musical talents.”
    Gloria looked confused. Maybe she should just tell the truth.
    “I, I can’t play the piano,” she said.
    Miss Arrowstone laughed. “Yes, so I’ve heard, child. It causes your mother much heartache. But you’re not even thirteen. It’s not too late to learn an instrument. Would you like to play the piano? Or would you prefer the violin? The cello?”
    Gloria blushed. She didn’t even know what a cello was. And she certainly did not want to play it.
    Lilian helped her out.
    “I play the piano!” she declared confidently.
    Miss Arrowstone looked over at her

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