First Term at Malory TowersEdit
Darrell, the main character, begins her school life ingloriously. Determined to do well and make friends, she falls under the spell of the brilliant but mischievous Alicia Johns, neglecting her schoolwork in favour of fooling around and playing pranks on the staff. The reader is treated to an early exposition of her violent temper (inherited from her father) when she rescues Mary-Lou, a smaller, weaker girl in her form, who is being held under water by the malicious Gwendoline Mary Lacey, and delivers a stinging rebuke to Gwendoline with the flat of her hand. She rebuffs Mary-Lou's attempts to make friends, since she believes Mary-Lou to be feeble and unable to stand up for herself, and clashes with fellow new girl Sally Hope, who insists that she is an only child despite written and verbal assurances from Darrell's mother that she has an infant sister. This leads to another altercation, in which a violent shove from Darrell exacerbates Sally's smouldering appendicitis, forcing Darrell's father (a surgeon) to perform an impromptu appendectomy in the school's sick-bay. The experience of thinking that she has made Sally seriously ill, leads Darrell to a greater determination to conquer her temper. Sally's attitude is revealed as pathological jealousy, which is resolved by her parents leaving her infant sister behind to visit her. Sally and Mary-Lou later stand by Darrell during a malicious episode (orchestrated by Gwendoline) in which Darrell is unjustly accused of spitefully destroying Mary-Lou's fountain pen. The first book ends with Darrell and Sally being firm friends and Mary-Lou an associate.