The second Lady Principal is Miss Holmes-Orr. She is to call the school St Mary’s College.
Johannesburg is like a battlefield: there are trenches, stamp batteries, mining headgear, great mountains of ore, yellow dust that is gritty on the tongue, scorpions, snakes, unexpected afternoon thunderstorms, beggars, brothels and drunkards. Even some young women from impoverished Afrikaner homes take to prostitution, an indication of a growing poor white problem. The newly-established stock exchange is causing violent fluctuations in the moods of men as they make and lose fortunes.
These spectacular developments are matched by high drama at school. In 1890, with the Ford and Jeppe Company’s “gift” to Darragh declared a “loan” by the court, a public auction is set for 10 May to dispose of College and church possessions. Providence and intensive fundraising save the day. In 1891, a fire breaks out at school. This time vigilance and the ringing of the church bell to summon help avert a “very serious calamity indeed”. For the 40 or so young boarders it is frightening and thrilling beyond imagining. Miss Holmes-Orr takes precautions in the future and fire drill becomes routine.