Enid Blyton in September
People sometimes say to me, "You love children, don't you, Miss Blyton — but tell us honestly, don't you think they are selfish, lazy, hard-hearted little things nowadays?" Well! I think exactly the opposite, because I know you so well. I have only to tell you, for instance, about the little blind children, and there is hardly one among you that isn't eager at once to help — and to think of ideas, and to work hard at something... Another thing that people often say to me is this: "You know, Miss Blyton, children these days aren't like we were — they never do things, never plan things or use their imagination!" Then I say: "Come and see some of the children's letters — look, here are some about their clubs — here are plenty about all they do for animals — and read about Mr. Turnip's Library run by a boy aged 10!" And I feel very glad that I know all this, and can stick up valiantly for you. It is a grand thing to be your story-teller and guide, and get into such close touch with you all.
"I don't care how you punish me," said Elizabeth, tears coming into her own eyes — but tears of anger, not of laughter. "You can do all you like — I just shan't care!"
"We never punish anyone, Elizabeth," said Miss Best, suddenly looking stern again. "Didn't you know that?"
"No, I didn't," said Elizabeth in astonishment. "What do you do when people are naughty, then?"
"Oh, we leave any naughty person to the rest of the children to deal with," said Miss Best. "Every week the school holds a meeting, you know, and the children themselves decide what is to be done with boys and girls who don't behave themselves. It won't bother us if you are naughty — but you may perhaps find that you make the children angry."
"That seems funny to me," said Elizabeth. "I thought it was always the teachers that did the punishing."
"Not at Whyteleafe School," said Miss Belle.
THE PASSING OF SUMMER
There's a whisper through the trees,
And a warning chills the bees,
Cull the honey while you may,
Velvet bees, along the way!
There's a murmur from the stream,
And the dragon-flies that gleam
Play a while, you pretty things,
With the sunshine on your wings!
There's a message from the sea,
Little swallows, wild and free,
Stay your flying,
Linger while the sun is bright,
Ere you call your last good night!
St. Clare's had stood silent and empty during eight weeks of the summer holiday. Except for the sound of mops and brushes, and a tradesman ringing at the bell, the place had been very quiet. The school cat missed the girls and wandered about miserably for the first week or two.
But now everything was different. The school coaches were rolling up the hill, full of chattering, laughing children — St. Clare's was beginning a new winter term!
Spring-time is beautiful with its greens and yellows, and so is summer with its medley of bright colouring — but autumn has a beauty all its own, when the heather lies for miles over moors and hills, spreading a purple-red carpet fit for the tread of a queen. And fit for the bed of a queen, too, for there is nothing so delightfully soft and springy to lie upon as heather. The tough wiry branches bend themselves for us and seem to form a layer of soft springs, more comfortable than the most expensive mattress we can buy... because of the way it grows, because of its "sociability" — its liking for being with others of its kind — no one can pass heather by unnoticed. When, before your eyes, stretch hundreds and thousands of heather plants, covering every hill and every valley you can see with a warm purple, you have to stop and gaze in wonder and delight. There seems no end to it. Far away, the purple on the distant hills mingles with a mauve mist, so that it almost seems as if the heather is dissolving itself.
I think when a bee pays its very first visit to heather-clad moorland, it must imagine it has arrived at a bee's paradise, for there are so many flowers for it to taste, and the smell is so delicious. Perhaps you have tasted Heather-honey. If you have, I expect you will agree with me that it is the nicest honey there is — it has the sunshine and the wind in it.
I read the Children's Encyclopaedia [edited by Arthur Mee] from end to end, and then read it all over again. You should do that too, if you can get hold of it, or some other children's encyclopaedia of the same kind. It gave me my thirst for knowledge of all kinds, and taught me as much as ever I learnt at school. It sent me questing through my father's vast array of book-cases for other books — books on astronomy, nature, poetry, history, old legends. There were many volumes above my head that I found and read because I had to know more about the things I read in the Children's Encyclopaedia.