Gillian of the Chalet School

by Carol Allan Girls Gone By Publishers

Foreword In The New Chalet School Elinor Brent-Dyer gave us a number of tantalising pointers to the following term in which Gillian Linton is Head Girl, but sadly she did not go on to write the story of that term. That she intended Gillian to become the next Head Girl after Louise Redfield is indisputable. What is more problematic, at least to aficionados of the Chalet School who are acknowledged experts in these matters, is whether or not Elinor Brent-Dyer meant this missing Autumn Term, when Gilliam was Head Girl, to slot in neatly to fill the gap between the Summer Term of The New Chalet School and the Spring Term of The Chalet School in Exile. At first glance it seems reasonable to assume that it should do just that. However, The Chalet School in Exile is exceptional in that it gives the Chalet School stories historical context, and acts as a marker for dating the whole of the series. Although Gillian of the Chalet School comes before Exile, this new story, too, has to conform to the dating process. Moreover, in later books, Elinor Brent-Dyer mentions incidents and events that ccurred in the interval between New CS and Exile, and these all had to be taken into consideration. After collecting and weighing up all the relevant evidence from the series, as well as consulting Helen McClelland’s two excellent books, Behind the Chalet School and Elinor Brent-Dyer’s Chalet School, regarding her discovery of the existence in the 1950s of the unpublished Two Chalet Girls in India (which has since disappeared), it became clear that it would be unworkable to treat Gillian’s term (as Head Girl) as the sole missing term between the two other books. There had to be a gap of four terms between New CS and Exile. For detailed explanations, please refer to the end of the book. As part of my endeavour to achieve uniformity with the series, I checked the early Chalet School books for instances of capitalisation of certain nouns (such as Prefects, Head Mistress, etc), but I discovered that these names were capitalised in some books and not in others. Also, Head Mistress was sometimes written Headmistress, or Head-mistress, and Head Girl occasionally was hyphenated. It was clear that there was no consistent rule to follow; therefore I have decided to use initial capitals for all Chalet School-related nouns. Where there are discrepancies in the spelling of surnames, for example, de Lachenais/Lachenais and le Caoulec/de Cadoulec, I have settled for the spellings used in The New Chalet School. If there is any justification for somebody other than Elinor Brent-Dyer to write the story of Gillian of the Chalet School it is because Elinor left clues concerning that terms scattered about in the books. It has given me much enjoyment to find them and thread them together as faithfully as possible and to attempt to blend in some new tales as well. It has been my intention to produce an authentic Chalet School book. If I have succeeded at all, it is due to the wonderful characters themselves created by Elinor Brent-Dyer. She gave them life and I have been privileged to let them speak once more. Carol Allan, July 2001

Chapter I At The Sonnalpe ‘Gillian! Gillian! Where are you?’ Gillian Linton snipped the stem of a rose she had selected for picking and straightened up to her full height. ‘I’m over here by the big rose bed, Joyce.’ she called. ‘I didn’t see you there. Are you hiding from someone by any chance?’ enquired Joyce as she strolled across the lawn, to stand by the elder girl. ‘Of course not! I was just bending down to cut some flowers for Mummy, that’s all.’ Joyce gave the basket a cursory glance. ‘You haven’t got very many.’ she commented critically. ‘No, not yet. You could give me a hand for a change. ‘Sorry, not possible! That’s why I have been looking for you. Juliet and Grizel are looking for helpers to put the Annexe back together again, now taht the painters have at long last finished. I’m going to give a hand.’ ‘Oh, well done, Joyce! It’s good of you to give up your last free afternoon.’ ‘Might as well,’ Joyce said with indifference. ‘After all, there’s nothing else to do around here. We never go anywhere or do anything interesting in the holidays.’ ‘That’s not true! The Russells involve us in their outings, and we are always meeting people,’ retorted Gillian. ‘But we never go away for a real holiday,’ complained her younger sister. ‘You know jolly well that we cannot go away while Mummy is in the Santorium. She likes to have our company during the holidays. She hardly gets any opportunities to see us during the term, and if we were to go away in the hols as well, it would be pretty miserable for her.’ ‘Well, it’s not much fun for us! But no one ever makes a fuss about our feelings,’ grumbled Joyce over her shoulder as she stalked off back to the house. Gillian shook her head in despair and presently resumed her promenade around the flowerbeds of Die Rosen with a troubled expression on her face. The latesummer sun was beaming on the Sonnalpe from a cloudless sky and she was glad of the cooling breeze which played with her shady hat, gently lifting its large floppy brim now and then to reveal the wabes of silky-black hair, blue eyes and rose-petal complexion underneath. Having at last collected sufficient blooms to maje a decentsized arrangement, she paused by the garden wall for a few moments to admire the splendid mountainous landscape that stretched far away to the horizon. Below lay the shimmering sapphire-blue water of the Tierness, the most beautiful lake in all Tyrol, bounded by nagnificent limestone mountains with jagged peaks. Gillian’s countenance relaxed as she took in the enchanting scenery and, turning her head slightly to the right, she gazed down on a small verdant triangular valley nestling on the western shore. Briesau, where she resided for much of the year, was the home of the Chalet School. Tomorrow she would be returning to the valley once more for the start of the Autumn term to take up her duties as Head Girl. Gillian regarded her new positions of responsibility with a degree of natural apprehension, but being a dutiful young person she was quietly determined not to disappoint those in authority who had placed their trust in her ability to lead the school. Presently, with a glance at her watch and a little sigh, she turned her back towards the view and made her way across the garden towards the entrance to the road.

We didn’t realise that she had snagged her skirt until it was too late. ‘We decided to explore the upper alm. Jo nearly had a fit. Gillian. and when she turned to speak to me I had vanished! Then I gave the game away by laughing and she came over and found me. She should be the one to tell you. but I stopped to pick some alpenroses and over-stretched and fell through the roses and that was when I discovered a crevice in the rock face. so Jo scrambled up to the top of it and then lay full length across the edge and hauled me up. ‘I suppose we do look rather worse for wear. ‘Hello Rufus!’ she cried. she elected to tell the story and put Gillian out of her misery. ‘Go on!’ ‘Well. when she had recovered her breath.’ she grimaced. ‘Joey! What on earth have you been doing to yourself?’ she exlaimed. who was nearly bursting with excitement. ‘Oh.Stopping to open the gate. she merely replied. ‘But it was worth it in the end. ‘Where?’ ‘On the upper alm. Robin?’ Jo looked up with surprise and saw Gillian peering at them over the gate a few yards away. Gillian. ‘Where’s your Mistress?’ She leaned over the gate to get a better view of the road.’ she admitted. impatiently. though I was able to enter through it very easily. hanging loosely in two untidy plaits around her shoulders. her forehead streaked with grime and her long black hair. as it was such a pleasant day. with all the dignity she could muster. ‘Wouldn’t you like to know?’ she teased. that’s for sure. it’s Robin’s discovery. ‘A cave.’ she began conversationally. as she gave the friendly fellow a pat. It was a narrow opening. stealing a quick glance up at the enormous red scratch which adorned the elder girl’s right cheek. And Robin scarcely looked any better. She scraped her cheek on the same sharp bit of rock. a hue rent almost divided the front of her skirt in two. who was dying to tell the tale. I’m not going to let you through the gate until you tell me.’ ‘A cave?’ echoed Gillian in surprise. and what her elder sister would say if they hung about in the public road for all to see. Jo was indeed a sight to behold. However. It was hidden. drat it!’ she muttered to herself. and a much smaller girl.’ She paused. her dark eyes sparkling.’ Gillian at Robin. ‘You will never guess what I found. ‘Never mind about that.’ Joey grinned. Gillian found a handsome St Bernard dog waiting patiently on the other side. It’s past repair. mindful of their dishevelled state. as Jo Bettany. ‘And you too. It is a very big cave. As a finishing touch. Normally a dainty and fastidious child. and lost!’ While Jo affected to be affronted at Gillian’s observation. Jo regarded the said skirt ruefully. In an instant she was gaping with incredulity at two unsightly figures advancing towards her.’ she declared mysteriously. ‘Hello. Robin’s cryptic remark served to make Gilliam even more curious. ‘We came to a large rokc and there was no way around it. whereupon Robin. bereft of all its hairpins. her indignation promptly forgotten. She had to squeeze through the gap to get in and ripped her skirt once more. We . trudged wearily up the road. Joey walked right past it. former Head Girl of the Chalet School. she gave the appearance of having rolled in the dust.’ ‘A picnic? You look as though you have had an argument with a grizzly bear. interrupted her. for she had been looking the other way. Standing in the road. Robin giggled merrily. ‘I dread to think what Madge will say.’ said Gillian. Gillian! We’ve been for a picnic. ‘What have you two been doing?’ she repeated. But luckily she had abox of matches with her so we were able to explore it. ‘Why do folk always appear when you least want them to?’ Aloud.

’ Jo loooked questioningly at Robin. the Robin had made her home with Jo during the holidays. could I not tell Mummy? I’m on my way to see her. Jo opened the gate and ushered Robin and Rufus through it. Although Jo herself was only twelve years old at the time of Robin’s arrival at the School. had been placed in the tender care of Miss Bettany. Madge Bettany. Jo looked down fondly at the small girl as she described the thrilling discovery. Unhappily her young life had been marred by a bout of ill-health which. You’ll be in the thick of all the Middles’ latest pranks!’ Gillian grimaced and clutched her forehead. You know how she likes to hear what we have been getting up to and I haven’t anything new to tell her.walked for a long time down a narrow passage until we came to a very wide space where the walls seemed to go up forever. left frail and she had been unable to return to the School at Briesau. had. Gill. Robin had come to the Chalet School. Thirteen year-old Robin Humphries was her adopted sister. noting the anxious looked which once shadowed Gillian’s face. tragedy had struck. she mothered Robin and was very protective of her. now we’ll be for it!’ Gillian laughed and started to walk down the road to the Sanatorium. Gill. She had lost her pretty Polish mother to tuberculosis and with her father frequently absent on business. Jo thinks it is a cairn. and while she missed her mother on occasion. now Madge Russell. Sir James Talbot knew that Mrs Linton’s only chance for recovery. That’s one of the bonuses of being Head Girl.’ ‘How is she?’ enquired Jo with concern. the Robin. last spring. Come on Rob. founded by Jo’s eldeer sister. Gill. ‘Look here. We must go and wash and change our clothes before someone else sees us. despite turning out to be less serious than initially had been feared. Then. so someone else must have found it to. Nurse says. ‘A little better today. sometime. as she was then called. Joey felt that they had stood in front of the gate long enough. as soon as term starts.’ retorted Jo.’ Gillian looked crestfallen. which was under the . and Robin had mourned once more. when her father was killed in a climbing accident. ‘Oh. ‘It’s so difficult sometimes to think of something new to talk about which will take Mummy’s mind off her illness for a while. Robin. ‘Of course you may. We intend to keep the cave’s whereabouts a secret for the present.’ ‘Don’t worry. ‘What a prospect! I don’t want to think about it until I have to. So. her father meanwhile had returned from his travels in far lands. and they were utterly devoted to each other. Linton our loev.’ ‘Thank you. to her great contentment. ‘I can assure you that you will have heaps of stories with which to entertain her. nevertheless.’ replied Gillian with relief. she won Jo’s heart immediately and for evermore. It might be fun. keep our discovery to yourself. to take a party up and let them try and find it. ever since she had been sent from England by her doctor for treatment for the dread disease tuberculosis. You can say that it is a secret that only the four of us share. at the age of six. for she had left if nearly too late before seeking treatment. Gillian. The large building had been home to her widowed mother for the past year and three-quarters. but the loving presence of the Russell family and her dearest Jo ensured that she would never be alone in the world. hence his insistence on her immediate transfer to the Sanatorium at the Sonnalpe. There was a heap of stones at one end. depended on the bracing alpine air and the best regimen available. ‘Give Mrs. who was nodding her head vigorously. After Miss Bettany married and went to live at Die Rosen.’ she replied. A beguiling little child with the sweetest of natures.

She’s waiting for you. Lazy and not at all interested in lessons. with whom she was on good terms. In the holidays they generally stayed with Dr and Mrs Russell at Die Rosen. during that first term. But I can’t help it. deliberately ignoring the question. Gillian. ‘Hello. Upon arriving at the San. Really. ‘Darling.direction of Dr James Russell. being a conscientious student. The new term starts tomorrow and you will have quite enough to think about without fretting about me. in order to devote more time to her mother. and Mrs Linton had been able to send fifteen-year-old Gillian and fourteen-year-old Joyce there. Miss Annersley had accepted her decision with some reluctance. ‘Oh. as Dr Russell was married to the School’s first Head Mistress and founder. that she wished to leave at the end of the Autumn Term. enjoying the sunshine. that’s wonderful news. Sir James Talbot had told Gillian.’ she enthused. Gillian found her mother by a window opening on to the balcony. the Head Mistress. reaching into a cupboard for a vase. She had not realised that her mother could see her reflection in the glass. You should know that by now. getting into serious trouble on many an occasion.. . Mummey. ‘Much better!. she had been disruptive and rebellious. she was alarmed by her mother’s frial appearance and wondered if she would ever be well enough to leave the San. Not for the first time. she would be nearly eighteen then. but it was never far from the surface. But she knew that gillaim was determined to leave and did not seek to change her mind. How are you today?’ she responded. You are the only mother Joyce and I have. Gill. I am getting the very best care and attention possible. and she was used to getting her own way as a result.. ‘I was so worried yesterday when she complained of feeling tired. of course. but Joyce had been a problem. that it could take two years to cure her mother.’ Gillian changed the subjct as she set about arranging the flowers in the vase with deft fingers. you must not worry so much about me. I mean it. but she had made it clear to Miss Annersley. off you go and cheer her up. The two years would be up by Christmas. for she could hardly answer it honestly. darling. what beautiful flower! Thank you so much!. Gillian felt very honoured to be chosen.’ said Nurse. ‘I do.’ ‘It’s quite usual for patients to have off days. down at the Tiernsee. and take this for your flowers.. To Gillian’s great relief. ‘You must try. why are you standing there? Come over here so that I can see you properly. by which time the powers-thatbe were confident that she had the necessary leadership qualities required of a Head Girl and appointed her to that position. She stopped in the doorway and snatched a few moments to study her. gaining confidence until she reached the Sixth Form. Gillian had quickly settled down at the School. Gillian went in search of Nurse. Fortunately the Sanatorium had close links to the Chalet School. As a child she had been thoroughly spoiled. Nurse said that Mrs Linton was feeling better today and that she might spend a couple of hours with her. she felt that she had every reason to be concerned. her selfish behaviour had diminished. ‘I know that. for she believed Gillian would make a fine Head Girl and she would have preferred her to stay for the remainder of the school year. on the day of the Linton’s departure for Austria. But I can’t help worrying.’ replied Nurse briskly.Oh. due mainly to her undoubted beauty and charming manner.’ The voice startled Gillian and she moved towards the bed feeling rather guilty. however.. Also. but deep inside. Thanks to the influence of the School. and so could visit their mother everyday.’ ‘Well. Steady-going Gillian had proved to be much more trustworthy and dutiful as she rose through the School. within easy walking distance of the San.

She’s helping Juliet and Grizel get the Annexe ready.’ chuckled Mrs Linton. ‘Gill. It was my decision and I’m sticking to it. and changed the subject abruptly. wondering what was going to come next. Still. and. ‘Joyce will be over to see you later.’ There was a little silence. I shall do my best next term. darling. before Joyce arrives. ‘Actually. Gillian went in search of Jo. I can’t help worrying if you are doing the right thing. because I want to be with you. so Joyce volunteered to help get the furniture back in place.’ ‘I’m delighted to hear that she is pulling her weight. She was so thrilled about it.’ said Gillian. related their story and soon had the patient laughing. remembering her encounter with Jo and Robin. Mummy. noticing her mother’s melancholy expression. but I haven’t got the strength to argue with you. After all. Mrs Linton stared in disbelief. I’m looking forward too much to having you around permanently. It sounds as though it is past saving. ‘It’s such a picty about Jo’s skirt. it was Robin who found the cave. Mrs Linton was now thinking of something else. quickly searched for a light-hearted topic of conversation. It was almost hanging in two pieces. Your father would have been so proud of you too. however. gurgling at the memory of it.’ ‘If that is really the case.’ Gillian interrupted with vehemence. Furthermore.’ Later in the evening before Abendessen. If anyone’s being selfish. of course. Promise me that and I shall feel happier about you.’ ‘All right. If Jo wishes it to be kept secret. I shall be going to lend a hand too. though. if you promise not to worry about me.. ‘It’s just like Joey to make an adventure out of a simple walk. ‘Stop that talk right now.’ ‘I should say so. I like to think that we could return their kindness in any small way. and not continuing for the remaining two terms. while they both contemplated the circumstances that had brought them to the Sonnalpe.’ announced Gillian. And in any case.’ ‘Robin has been trained to be obediant. The pair had been good friends from the very beginning and Gillian was keen to find out if Jo and Robin had managed to sneak into Die Rosen unseen.yet she was still in the San and without any forseeable prospect of being allowed home. ‘Yes. ‘I know it sounds totally unlike Jotce. ‘Joyce helping out? Well. I know you will make a splendid job of it. then I’m certain that Robin will oblige. Gillian. but it’s quite a relief to know that I’ll have all that responsibility for a short time only. I have something to say to you. You are sacrificing the last six months of your school days for me and I know I ought to forbid it. I promise. Jo had been instrumental in saving the life of Mrs Linton on one occasion when even the doctors’ ministrations . Juliet and Grizel needed assistance because the decorators were late finishing the classrooms. I know. Mummy. do make the most of it and enjoy yourself. what next!’ Gillian laughed. carefully placing the flower arrangement on the bedside table. I’m not sure she will be able to keep it to herself.’ declared Mrs Linton. but she’s not nearly so lazy nowadays. it’s me. She had reason to be indebted to Jo for her generous help and advice to Joyce and herself throughout their first two terms at the Chalet School. Mummy?’ replied Gillian. But I’m sure Miss Annersley is very sorry that you will be leaving at Christmas.’ replied Gillian. You don’t need me to tell you how very proud I am that you have been chosen to be Head Girl. everyone here has been so good to us since we arrived.. Oh dear! That sounds very selfish.

Robin told them and Jem insisted that we gave him the exact location. If I know Jem. And I can’t exactly hide this.’ promised Gillian with a laugh. preferring to discuss the coming term instead. unlike my sister. lively face full of interest. he will be able to come running to rescue us.’ ‘What do you mean? What sort of emergency?’ Gilliam looked puzzled. however. It is true that Joyce Linton’s eyes widened when she saw the scrape on Joey’s cheek. gingerly feeling the long scrape that proudly embellished her cheek. both she and Jem were standing in the hall as we crept in. I doubt if he will ever set foot in the place. you have to face her at Abdendessen. in case of emergencies.’ exclaimed Gillian.’ grimaced Jo. I have been keeping out of her way ever since. Not pretty by normal standards. so of course we had to tell them. But it was entirely within character for warm-hearted Jo to reach out the hand of friendship and to give comfort and support where needed. She missed their company badly when they were away at the School. I’m not sure if she has quite forgiven us yet. creamy complexion that tanned easily. We explored just able all of it and I don’t think it’s possible to get ourselves lost. but her years in Tyrol had cured her and she was as healthy now as anyone could wish. . ‘I think he is worried that we might go missing up there one day. and a sensitice. as a deep sonorous noise echoed around the house.’ ‘Did you mention the cave?’ ‘Yes. ‘Did you get changed before Mrs Russell saw you?’ Gillian enquired eagerly. as they hastened to the Speisesaal. clear. she tackled her sister and demanded a full explanation. for the days seemed to go very slowly without one or other popping in to see her. but this time their departure seemed all the harder to bear and gave her cause for sad reflection. Talk about bad timing! They demanded to know what we had been up to. ‘Oh! There’s the gong now. As a child she had been very delicate. And if we do. for her brother-in-law was called away to the San just as they were sitting down to the meal and Madge made no further mention of their exploit. merely stating that Jo had bumped against a rock while out on a walk and with that decidedly sketchy account Joyce had to be satisfied. Not that it’s very likely. I know. But Jem does fuss so. she was in the children’s nursery helping to get the little folk off to bed. However. ‘Well. ‘No! Worse luck. Still. ‘Would you believe.’ ‘Yes. and keep the conversation severely away from the subjects of scrapes and skirts. Later on. Chapter II Back to School The following morning. luck was on Jo’s side. ‘I’ll do my best. When Gillian found her. Gillian declined to tell her the whole story. Gillian and Joyce called at the Sanatorium to say goodbye to their mother before an early Mittagessen and the journey down to the School. an action incurring both the Lintons’ abiding gratitude. She was positively scathing about our appearance. yet black-haired Jo had a pale.’ groaned Jo.had failed. Gill. ‘Do me a favour. Mrs Linton looked wistfully after her daughters as they turned for a final wave and disappeared from sight. and she had the grace to keep her curiousity to herself. It is true that Mrs Linton always was dispirited at the beginning of term. but her schooling had taught her a certain amount of tact. at least he was mollified. he will be safe to drag it all up again just to tease us.’ begged Jo. I’ve a feeling he wants to be able to find it himself.

I don’t expect I will ever be a Prefect. And you will be moving up to Lower Sixth soon. ‘I grant that you were always frightfully responsible. all I am asking is that you go one step further and begin to take some responsibility on your shoulders. ‘I haven’t been in trouble for ages and ages.’ returned Joyce unrepentantly. you made me say it. ‘You must be joking. Anyway. somewhat rudely. No. I always did heal quickly. ‘I’ll be eighteen after Christmas though. to return to what I was saying.’ ‘Aren’t you coming down with us?’ demanded Joyce. Everybody expects you to act like a grown-up. ‘Joyce! I know we’re not at School yet. Gill.’ Joyce grunted audibly.‘Do you mean to say that I have to behave like a perfect little goody-goody just because you are Head Girl now?’ asked Joyce incredulously. and. all . ‘Oh.. The day was going to be difficult enough as it was. Luckily. He doesn’t like to be kept waiting. I never was what you might call bee-yoo-tiful.’ stated Joyce with decision. and anyway. gingerly feeling her wounded cheek. She had no wish to fall out with her sister.’ ‘I know. I’m afraid the School will just have to wait until my cheek is back to normal. so make sure you are ready for him. ‘We finished our packing before going to say goodbye to Mother. and in any case she had too much to concern her at the moment.’ ‘In what way. I wouldn’t want to be one. you are a Senior and not too young to be considered for a Sub-Prefect’s position in the near future.’ said Jo.’ replied Gillain calmly. refusing to rise to the bait. ‘Anyhow. ‘And it changes people. pray?’ demanded Gillian. so I won’t be marred for life.. You can save the pi-jaw. aghast at the suggestion. After all. but you behave as though you were positively middle-aged now.’ ‘True enough. clearly taken aback. You might even find you enjoy it.’ cried Joyce. You’re sixteen in case you had forgotten. for not only was she to take up her duties as Head Girl.’ ‘Well.’ responded Gillian. as they walked through the door into the big square hall of the Russells’ pretty home. if you ask me.’ ‘I do not. ‘Well. ‘So.’ replied Gillian steadily.’ ‘Right you are. I have a message from Dr Jack.’ interrupted Joyce.’ conceded Gillian. ‘Well. but a completely new House system was being established this term and Gillian knew that its effect could have unpleasant repercussions throughout the School as friends and gangs discovered that they were being split up. good! You’re back. It’s not that hard. certainly I don’t expect you to act like a childish Middle any more. I just hope that I can rely on you to support the Prefects rather than be a thorn in their sides. but Gillian chose to let it go. It’s too much like hard. ‘Holy smoke!’ exclaimed Joyce. I’d rather be excused having to explain to all and sundry.’ ‘That’s not fair.’ ‘She can’t hear us in the middle of the road. whereupon they came across Jo Bettany. ‘Lookiing like this?’ grinned Jo.’ replied Gillian. They walked the rest of the way back to Die Rosen in silence. ‘He will drive you down to School at half-past thirteen. as the two sisters walked back to Die Rosen. but do remember that Madame doesn’t like us using slang. ‘I get the picture. By the time I’m ready to grace the School with my presence.’ ‘I don’t know why you should be so surprised.’ ‘Good.

’ murmured Gillian. and drove them down to Briesau. the Head Mistress of the Chalet School. Biddy. and a young Irish imp.’ an unmistakably American voice rang out above the clamour.’ grumbled Joyce. And. every single Head Girl has felt just as apprehensive as you at the start. ‘Thanks Joyce. ‘If it’s any consolation. ‘I was dying to find out which House I am going to be in. ‘Of course I will. With summer almost at an end. ‘Hello. ‘Not too busy to greet you. Joyce?’ Joyce paused a second. after greeting Miss Annersley. we will find out soon enough. except for Cornelia Flower. However.’ Joyce turned to Gillian in surprise. all talking at once. a whistle sounded and they fell silent immediately. . Miss Wilson.’ returned Gillian. You will do an excellent job. a fellow Senior.’ shouted a tall dark.’ she muttered. ‘What a swizz! I thought we would have been sent to unpack straight away.’ ‘Same here. Gill. But you heard Miss Annersley. Evvy.’ Jo added. all.’ At thirteen-thirty precisely. that’s where the Senior Prefects’ bedrooms are. delighted that her close friend was amongst the first to disembark. ‘It’s good to know that I will be able to rely on you. An excited throng of school girls crowded around Gillian. who was thoroughly disgruntled to discover she was not going to be the first to hear the new arrangements. ‘you have Joyce to back you up. it’s swell to see you.’ A great hubbub met their ears as the vessel came alongside and dozens of excited pupils. Don’t worry.’ ‘You never know. Evadne Lannis. merely instructing the girls to get into an orderly line for the short walk to the School. had gone to join her own little friends. collected the Lintons. Finally. attired in brown coats and berets. well. ‘There’s Gill. caught Jo’s eye and reddened. they were all sent down to the pier to meet the little steamer that was busily making its way towards them with the greater part of the School on board. ‘Surely you will be in St Clare’s? After all. the Geography and Science Mistress. Dr Maynard. as she struggled with her overnight case. She wants the whole school to be assembled before the House lists are read out. ‘Say Gillian. looking distinctly unconvinced. meanwhile. who was in charge of the crowd.the new arrangements will have had a chance to shake down and you will be an old hand as Head Girl. Stacie Benson. Stacie and Joyce.’ laughed Gillin as she spied the owner of the voice. Hilary!’ called Gillian. They were the first to arrive at the School and. who was talking so hard at the top of her voice that she failed to hear the shrill blast. jolly-looking girl. for Hilary Burn was to be Second Prefect this term. known as Dr Jack to all the girls. Oh. Biddy O’Ryan. the steamer would soon be laid up until springtime brought the return of tourists to the Tiernsee.’ ‘I wish I could be so sure. old thing. that is. Isn’t that so. I suppose it is simpler that way. together with two other holiday residents of Die Rosen. turned around and rewarded the young American with a glare. merrily dashed down the gangplank. looking relieved. They had plenty to discuss. she was lenient for once and let it go. nodding at Joyce meaningfully. I kinda guessed that you would be too busy to come down to the landing stage to meet us.

idiot!’ she whispered. she continued.’ chuckled Miss Wilson. Thanks to the quick reactions of those attending the garden party. all right. I don’t like being reminded of it.’ ‘No. Once they are told the new arrangements. please. girls. but I dashed in to rescue Louise and got a good telling-off from the Head for my troubles.’ she added. welcome to the Chalet School.’ exclaimed Miss Stewart. Miss Annersley? Is it all right now?’ enquired Mary Shaw. ‘I don’t believe I have ever heard such a cacophony as this. ‘Welcome back. You will be pleased to know that the decorators were very busy during the holiday and Hall is now as good as new. The fence afforded privacy but its use were twofold.’ A great cheer greeted this news. ‘I expect you are all keen to learn of your new House placements.’ rejoined Hilary.’ she began in her clear. ‘Anyhow. ‘Yes. for it also bloacked the view of the lake and the mountains on the opposite shore and so thwarted many would-be daydreamers from taking time off during lessons. so preventing the fire from spreading further. consequently Miss Annersley’s response was eagerly awaited. I scarcely think such drastic measures will be necessary. deep voice. originally the main School building. Prefects. the wooden passageway linking Hall to the Chalet had been hacked down then and there. The passageway has been rebuilt too. Kaffee und Kuchen will be served in the Speisesaal . ‘However. the History Mistress.‘Such excitement. ‘No need to look so guilty. to greet the girls as they walked across the little wooden bridge and in through th gate in the wattle fence which surrounded the grounds. but you will have to wait just a little longer. ‘And those of you who are joining us here at Briesau for the very first time. when a careless mistake with an iron had nearly resulted in the burning down of Hall. so we had better be quiet.’ Miss Annersley had another piece of information to impart before letting them go. Hall itself had escaped destruction. leave your cases here and go to the Splasheries to tidy up. ‘I would like you to look after the new girls for the time being. sotto voce. so everything is back to normal again.’ A dozen or so very self-conscious new pupils at once felt reassured by the warmth of the Head’s smile as she scanned the multitude of faces to seek them out individually. in an orderly fashion. If they don’t calm down. before continuing. refering to a serious incident which had occurred on the last day of the Summer Term. girls. Thank you!’ ‘Has Hall been redecorated since the fire. Gillian noticed her discomfiture and gave her a gentle nudge. many of them will be feeling rather less exuberant!’ ******************** Miss Annersley was waiting at the front door of Ste Thérèse’s. Hilary Burn bit her lip and studied the ground. In the meantime. the Abbess had something more to say. catching sight of Hilary and Gillian. Matron will be doing them with one of her patent mixtures. Mary. though not quite everyone joined in. as I wish the whole School to be present in Hall when I make the announcement. Miss Annersley clapped her hands for silence.’ Cheerfully ignoring the groans that greeted her remarks. but it was in a very sorry state when the girls last saw it and many wondered if it would ever be the same again. Certainly not at the beginning of term. ‘I hope you all had very pleasant holidays and are ready for a good term’s work. ‘ You didn’t leave the iron on to catch fire.’ ‘Just one more thing. As the girls crowded around the steps.’ ‘That will bring them to their sense.

’ . Miss Annersley.’ She pasued to let words sink in and then continued. I shall take responsibility for Ste Thérèse’s for this term at least. She listened intently. and then laughed. For the previous four terms. by sixteen o’clock the pupil had arrived and once more they assembled in front of their Head Mistress. and many a long face was to be seen. but although we have tried to take this into account.’ At this point. Now. Middles and Seniors. she swiftly took over preceedings once more. so I shall do so now. The Staff.here in Ste Thérèse’s for today. launched straight into the eagerly awaited new House arrangements. As before. the Head Girl and Senior Prefects have been based in St Clare’s. it is just not possible to please every one of you. Now. as we expect our Prefects to be drawn from all of the Houses from now on. you will take your meals in your respective Houses. Miss Wilson. Therefore.’ she smiled at the anxious girls assembled before her. though one or two thoughtful souls wondered if present discontentment would result in future trouble. but more than one muttered under her breath at the unfairness of it all. from their vantage point on the dais. I’m sure you must be hungry after your long journeys. this will no longer be automatically the case. Your House Mistresses will direct you to your dormitories and you will also find helpful information on the notice-boards. and her deputy will be Miss Elliot. this time in the newly renovated Hall. We must have an equal mix of ages in each House. but you will find that we have provided separate Junior. However. girls. Miss Wilson walked back to the lectern and whispered in Miss Annersley’s ear. Miss Norman will be in charge of St Agnes’ House with Miss Edwards to assist her. we may consider building an extension in the future.’ And she stepped aside to allow Miss Wilson to stand at the lectern and read out the long list of names. It means that each girl will be assigned to one particular house for the duration of her time at the Chalet School. It is inevitable that some of you will find yourselves separated from your friends. Please pay attention. However. we have appointed a House Prefect for each House. ‘You may have noticed that St Agnes’ House is smaller in members than the other House. to hear their fate. with pleasure. ‘Thank you for reminding me. so off you go!’ The girls had no choice but to obey. However. looked on with some amusement. In addition. as you have heard already. we have available individual rooms in each House as and when they are needed for the Senior Prefects. Therefore I ask you to accept these changes with grace. but as the Head had no intention of letting the girls vent their feelings during Assembly. This has involved a great deal of reorganisation. ‘Girls. Middle and Senior common rooms. By the time Miss Wilson had read out the last name the School was virtually in a state of ferment. but we feel that the School is of sufficient size now to warrant such a change. I have neglected to read out the names of the Prefects for this term. after another short welcome. Head Girl is Gillian Linton. ‘Miss Wilson will put you out of your misery and read your names and Houses and of course your Forms for the term. pupils were learning the unpalatable reality that they were indeed going to be split up from their friends and gangs. ‘Miss Wilson will be House Mistress of St Clare’s with Miss Stewart as her second. after I finish you will collect your overnight cases and other belongings and take them to your new quarters. I had forgotten in all the excitement. This is of necessity as we can accommodate only thiry-five pupils there at present. each House will accommodate Juniors. it has been decided that from this term. Miss Soames will head st Scholastika’s. Before she was halfway through.

Giovanna Rincini and Ilonka Barkockz. Anita Rincini. House Prefect of Ste Thérèse’s. Abendessen will be at nineteen o’clock. ‘Joyce. Joyce! What’s up?’ ‘Didn’t you hear?’ Joyce demanded. Mummy will be thrilled.Hilary Burn.’ ‘Well. sitting with her chums.’ . ‘The new House Prefects are as follows: Ida Reaveley. ‘They’ve put me in St Agnes’ House. suddenly felt. or in some cases at least make an attempt to do so. Engrossed in this pleasant contemplation. Suzanne Mercier. House Prefect of St Scholastika’s. Giovanna Donati and Evadne. I don’t know why you are so steamed up about it. Well done! You’ve got into Lower Sixth. Her appointment had been an open secret in the School but the girls were glad to have the opportunity to give rein to their feelings. as together they headed to their new House. that really is all for the moment. Giovanna Donati. but this was an honour she knew she had little hope of attaining. no twinge of jealousy. and so am I. Middles are to go at twenty o’clock. She was secretly delighted to have been given the pretty buttercup yellow room occupied first by Jo Bettany and latterly by Louise Redfield. clearly agitated. and Irene Silksworth.’ ‘Why on earth should you be?’ ‘Have you forgotten that term we ragged her during lessons? Mademoiselle Lepâttre nearly skinned us alive for it. I think. Other Prefects are Luise Rotheim. ‘Now. Notwithstanding Miss Annersley’s remarks. disregarding Gillian’s congratulations. So what?’ ‘Miss Norman is the House Mistress. and usually managed to succeed. as you will be tired. Sub-Prefects: Jeanne le Cadoulec. it can be related. ‘So. you are to go to your respective Houses and unpack. she was unaware of the sound of rapid footsteps behind her. proud of her sister’s acheivement and. However. Miss Annersley waited for the cheers to die down before continuing. I’m going to be in for a rotten time. glancing round at the Staff for confirmation.’ More cheers rang out. that was a long time agon. Gillian had in fact been placed in St Clare’s. which had brought upon the culprit the threat of expulsion. Joyce. until a sharp tap on her shoulder caused her to turn around in surprise. ‘Second Prefect .To the accompaniment of cheers and with cheeks ablaze. Gillian stumbled towards the lectern to receive her badge. and the Senior an hour later.’ Gillian frowned at the memory of her sister’s shocking behaviour. I’m quite sure that Miss Norman has forgiven and forgotten the whole affair. to her surprise. House Prefect of St Clare’s. The younger sister had always striven to be the centre of attention. Nancy Wimot. she dismissed them and the School filed out. Gillian was only half-listening to the excited chatter of Anita Rincini. that had happened during the Lintons’ first term at the Chalet School and Gillian did not consider that it should be a cause for concern now. almost for the first time in her life.’ she concluded. though the other Prefects had been spread around the other three Houses. Stacie Benson and Evadne Lannis. ‘Hello. ‘Of course I did.’ After reminding the girls that from the morrow they must speak in the language of the day.’ ‘It’s perfectly ghastly!’ wailed Joyce. Miss Annersley smiled cheerfully at the embarrassed group before reading out the lists of Form Prefects. after which the Junior must go to bed. first of all. who will be House Prefect of St Agnes’.

.’ ‘Oh. ‘You know.’ snapped the younger sister. Joyce. don’t bother.’ replied Gillian crisply. as well as everything else. I haven’t anything much to do with her since that first term when she gave us French coaching.’ said Joyce gloomily. ‘Whatever does she mean by that? Oh. ‘Look.’ And with that she turned on her heel and marched off. I can’t talk now.’ ‘Then this is an excellent opportunity for you to prove to her that you are a reformed character. ‘I’ll just have to deal with it myself. leaving Gillian openmouthed. I bet she hasn’t. I must go and unpack.’ And with a resigned expression on her face. the new Head Girl continued her way to St Clare’s. But I’ll try and catch up with you tomorrow morning. what a nuisance! Now I’ll have to keep an eye on her.‘Well. if you want.

pictures and other homely objects.’ ‘I guess she was plain nuts. girls. St Clare’s. isn’t it?’ replied Evadne. that her cheeks were a brighter shade of pink than usual. occasionally squabbled. the new Prefects got on well together. From the earliest days of the School. newly promoted to Six B. as her greatest friend. her discomfort did not last for long. After Abendessen. However. many Prefects had donated items of furniture. notwithstanding the comfortable surroundings. ‘I’m sorry to interrupt your meeting. while the rest of the Middles and Seniors relaxed in their separate Houses. Cornelia Flower. Evvy!’ she exclaimed happily as they admired the Senior common room together. stepping onto the room.’ stated Cornelia. ‘But I wondered if I might take a few minutes of your time?’ . I wouldn’t have been so forbearing.’ ‘I don’t think Jo was all that restrained. She had a good few run-ins with Matron Besly over the course of the term. the Prefects had held their councils in a little room in Ste Thérèse’s and it was a great joy to discover that this tradition was to be maintained. Oh! There’s the beel for Abendessen. but also she had made it into the Sixth Form. ‘And that would have been a real shame. excluding herself. So many familiar faces had left school at the end of the previous term and only four of last year’s Prefects remained. Thank goodness! I’m ravenous. was thrilled to find that not only was she in the same house. most reprehensibly. for a knock on the door distract them.’ mused Evadne. so creating a much-loved cosy retreat. that’s for sure. even if two old hands. and all liked and admired their Head Girl. If I had been Jo. Evadne Lannis. ‘Just look what a great Head girl Jo was. Gillian called her first Prefects’ meeting. therefore. One of the best. Only the were the girls given leave to go and investigate their new common rooms.’ said Cornielia. I sure hated being left behind last year when you and Lonny and Elsie and margia moved up. at least not all of the time. ‘This is real swell. instead of Head Girl. ‘Look at the way she was forever picking on Jo Bettany and treatin her as if she were the lowest Junior. taking the chair at the head of the table was a strange experience and Gillian was painfully aware that all eyes were upon her. Gillian was feeling rather nervous about her first meeting and a glance around the table did not do much to assuage her anxiety. The House Matrons saw to it that no one was allowed to stand around and chatter until every item was in its proper place. do you remember that beast of a Matron Besly who came the first time we were over here as Middles? Thank goodness we got rid of her. Still. made their way sedately to the Speisesaal.’ ‘It is. ‘I can’t tell you how much I wanted to get into the Sixth. And the pair of the. The appearance of Miss Annersley had them bounding to their feet in an instant. I can tell you. Luckily.Chapter III The Prefects Meet The next two hours at the Chalet School were given over to finding dormitories and unpacking. conspiciously mindful of their minority within the new House set-up. ‘Say.’ said the Head. It’s nice being back in dear old St Clare’s too. It was little wonder. Ida and Nancy. I couldn’t have put up with her for another term. I think it very nearly ruined her last term at the School. Over the years.

The Head’s next remarks brought Gillian back to the present with a jolt. ‘Please do sit here. ‘I’m sure you all know that Gillian is leaving at the end of the term. ‘to ensure the smooth running of the Houses. though Gillian couldn’t help wishing that more of last year’s Prefects had stayed on for another year.’ ‘Thank you. The Prefects joined in the laughter out of courtesy. ‘As that is the case. as she lowered herself into the proffered chair. and had no hestitation in further advancing Giovanna Donati to the post of Head of St Clare’s. listened attentively. undeniably the term would be challenging.. Gillain was a comparative newcomer and the other four. therefore. my dear. but such redoubtable creatures as Margia Stevens. Paula von Rothenfels and Cyrilla Maurús. and the rest of the Staff. for their wealth of experience would have been a huge asset. naturally. for they would be the ones who. without first having to serve as Sub-Prefects. Gillian knew that she was fortunate to have them on board. Nevertheless. The new House Prefect posts are intended to underline the importance we attach to your senior status in the Houses and will at the same time demonstrate our reliance on you.’ She turned to Hilary. Irene and Giovanna. but I think I am safe in saying that you will find that you have responsibility aplenty.’ smiled the Head. that several of the School’s last founding pupils had been elevated to full Prefectsips this term. all long-standing members of the School. will be in overall charge. will not be without difficulties at first.’ replied Gillian at once. Luigia Meracini. ‘The House Mistressess. a founding pupil. recognising the need for some old faces to bolster the Prefect body. would have the task of controlling the volatile atmosphere. to a great degree. and Arda van der Windt. The Head.’ Miss Annersley looked round and everyone nodded silently. Your leadership qualities will be tested to the limit. all ex-Saints. the Head Girl mused. had only arrived the term before and were still getting used to the School’s customs. Miss Annersley continued. I think we can assume that it was not wholly favourable!’ she added with a laugh. Louise Redfield. had also left. we have decided to make an official announcement that Hilary will become Head Girl next term. Hilary Burn pulled another chair up beside her for the Head Girl and the Prefects all sat down once more. ‘The Staff are confident that you will be a worthy successor to . and Anne Seymour and Elsie Carr. while Ilonka Barkockz and Giovanna Donati had been at the School for most of its existence. if not sincerity. Miss Annersley. It was fitting. Nevertheless. the job of supervising the adjustments to our House system has fallen upon your shoulders. they were determined to do all they could to help the School adapt to the new order. ‘Girls. There had been a wholesale exodus at the end of the Summer Term. We do not underestimate the effect that the new organisation will have on the School. Nancy. sitting very straight in their chairs. Congratulations. had been more than happy to promote the dependable Sixth Formers. with a smile.’ she nodded to the four girls in question. Gillian caught herself reflecting that it was less intimidating to sit at the side of the table. Miss Annersley wasted no time in coming to the point. moving away from her seat.. not only had the School said goodbye to its popular Head Girl. Of the five continuing Prefects. to their present positions of authority. You saw for yourselves the reaction in Hall this afternoon. but I. In spite of her misgivings. Gillian. have every faith in your ability to rise to the challenge. Giovanna and Anita Rincini had joined the School in its first year. It is a big undertaking and. who was blushing to the roots of her dark curls.‘Of course. including Luise Rotheim. Miss Annersley was spot on.’ Ida. I am certain.

so she fell silent. The Prefects fell silent and the meeting began in earnest.Gillian. as Nancy and Ida are also leaving at the end of term. no words came out for the excruciating pain rendered her speechless for a good few moments. Miss Annersley turned round to see Miss Wilson walking down the corridor towards her. are you all right? Your eyes are watering!’ ‘Hardly surprising. I think. nothing very much. Goodness know what she must think of my manners. so we will be working closely together anyway. ‘Oh. however. ‘It will be a great honour to be Head Girl. in the circumstances. ‘I was about to thank Miss Annersley when you pirouetted on my foot and the agony of it took my breath away so that I ended up making a hideous face at her. we will be selecting another three Sub-Prefects to join you ranks after Christmas.’ she said. there being no objections raised concerning its veracity. glancing up at the clock. the girls were congratulating Hilary on her forthcoming promotion. we don’t have much time. ‘As we all know. Miss Annersley. I say. as she carefully blotted her signature in the report book. I didn’t mean to damage you. Hilary. ‘Thank you. leaping aside energetically to allow her Head Mistress to pass and accidently landing on Hilary’s toes in the process just as the Head Girl-elect was opening her mouth to express her own gratitude. St Scholastika’s and Ste Thérèse’s all have four Prefects in residence and St Agnes had two. as you are the first former pupil of St Scholastika’s to become Head Girl of the Chalet School. Since you asked.’ Gillian promptly assured her. had something else on her mind. But Miss Annersley was talking once more. ‘Look here. alas. Hilary.’ she said with a cheerful smile as she headed for the door. ‘Well. ‘Duty arrangements next.’ she faltered. in order to help you prepare for your new role. Hilda?’ asked a voice behind her.’ Hilary. ‘You stood on my foot!’ she told Gillian crossly.’ urged Miss Wilson. Now I must let you get on with your meeting. ‘What’s the joke. suddenly realised that she ought to say something in reply. ‘We have no doubt. Madame and I considered that it would be beneficial to announce our decision at the beginning of term. back in the Prefects’ room. everyone. for she had observed the sorry spectacle out of the corner of her eye.’ said Gillian.’ said Gillian. ‘Oh! Did I? I’m awfully sorry. I am sure that Gillan will be willing to assist in any way she can to make sure the hand-over as smooth as possible.’ retorted Hilary. I shall do my best to uphold the traditions of the Chalet School. for her toes were still throbbing with pain. just a very small amusing incident. ‘Thank you very much. We wish to continue with our quota of fourteen Prefects. ‘Hilary is Second Preffect.’ Miss Annersley’s grey eyes twinkled at the stiff formality of her response. that you will. come along to the Staff room for coffee. I don’t suppose my toes are completely crushed to bits. Miss Annersley. Once safely outside in the corridor Miss Annersley burst out laughing. being the . Hilary read the previous term’s report which was duly signed by the Head Girl. and you can tell me about it on the way. ‘Also. Meanwhile. no doubt they will recover soon enough. It is particularly pleasing to us. Hilary murmured a word of gratitude to her friend. calling the meeting to order. taken aback by the unexpected timing of the announcement. St clare’s.’ she replied. It’s enough to make her think twice about making me Head Girl.’ ‘Of course. Miss Annersley. old thing.’ They settled down in their places and Gillian took the chair once more.

Anita?’ Anita Rincin replied that she would like to do the job very much and was duly voted to the position. Middles and Sneiors from all Houses will have prep in three large form-forms in Ste Thérèse’s. ‘Good.’ laughed Ida. ‘When Hilary becomes Head Girl next term. we shall all take our turns at prep duty. therefore. she will not be able to continue as Games Prefect. so you will be taking over from her. rather than restricting our duties to our own Houses. She knew that Hilary had harboured private dreams to be a Games Mistress when she left School. I would like to propse that you carry on as editor.’ ‘That’s a blessed relief. from the outset. ‘A good idea.’ . ‘Next item is. yes. She looked at Ida with amused eyes. After they were settled Gillian moved on to another important matter. Juniors. looking around the table.’ declared Gillian.’ she beamed. I will leave it to you four House Prefects to draw up your rotas and let me know when you will require our services. Before going on to the next item on the agenda. Anita. ‘Will anyone propose and second Hilary?’ enquired the Head Girl.’ The new Assistant Games Prefect looked as pleased as Hilary. ‘What about arrangements for prep?’ queried Ida. came completely out of the blue and she was thrilled. I propose that. ‘Don’t worry. ‘In which case. Theirs were new posts within the School and she believed it to be important that.’ added Giovanna Donati. ‘I will. they should be granted greater authority befitting their elevated status. Gilliam smiled back. Miss Annersley told me that rather than having to supervise small groups in the Houses.’ ‘Very well then. The next five minutes were given over to organising the prep duty lists. ‘Do you really mean that Gill?’ I’d be delighted.’ replied Gillian. ‘Hilary.’ said Gillian. Ida! I should have mentioned it. How about it.. speaking for them all. You and your three won’t be left to deal with it all by yourselves.’ She looked around the table and the Prefects nodded their approval.’ she continued.’ stated Nancy. ‘Stacie.’ Gillian was keen to let the House Prefects take complete charge of their respective Houses. Gillian. the editor of The Chaletian. you were assistant Games Prefect last term. That’s settled then.’ said Luise Rotheim. Gillian’s proposal.’ Gillian paused for a moment before presenting Hilary with her second surprise for the evening. I think it best if Hilary and I make ourselves available wherever we are needed. Obviously. ah. ‘And I will second her. that is agreed. Hilary assumed. if you are not totally sick of the job by now. But the higher appointment of Head Girl had. we try and work out our duty lists with this in mind. turning to Irene and Suzanne. ‘Would you be prepared to serve as Games Prefect this term in addition to your duties as Second Prefect?’ Hilary looked both astonished and pleased at the same time. as you have been doing such a splendid job with The Chaletian. ‘Thanks for reminding me.smallest House. as far as possible. the two of you will need extra help. ‘And I would like to suggest Anita as Hilary’s assistant. Gillian had a few more words to say on the subject. ‘It never does the Middles any harm to know that a Senior Prefect is watching over them. put paid to her hopes..

You are quite correct. Look how jolly successful Stacie has been. I can’t imagine that he would permit her to take on such an onerous task as the Magazine.’ replied Stacie placidly. ‘I hadn’t given a thought to the future of The Chaletian.’ ‘Yes.’ ‘And Jo was not yet thirteen when she became editor. Hence Gillian was not going to jeopardise Amy’s well-being.’ ‘But you have got two years to go in the Sixth Form. ‘But she isn’t strong and I happen to know that Dr Jem allowed her to return to Briesau last autumn only on the strict understanding that she takes things easily and doesn’t over-stretch herself.’ said Gillian firmly. she continued. Have you any ideas yet for a suitable candidate for the position?’ ‘Are we to consider only Seniors?’ queried Luise Rotheim.’ echoed two or three voice.’ cried Ilonka. ‘She writes such good poetry and her father is a top journalist. In addition. herself was well aware of the importance of following doctors’ orders regarding her own serious back injury. ‘Oh. not that at all. I cannot think of a girl more suited to the position. After all. I’m sorry. ‘However. ‘We will need to find someone with special talents to continue the high standard you and Jo have set.’ ‘Thank you Staice. Gillian had lived in the constant shadow of her mother’s illness and understood more than most people the consequence of not following medical advice. But perhaps I should be thinking about training someone to take over from me when I leave. ‘I believe Amy Steven would be a good choice.‘I shall be happy to do so. Now I feel it is my responsibility to pass on my experience to the next editor. ‘What about it.’ added Suzanne. How old were you when you were appointed. Has anyone else any ideas?’ . ‘Actually.’ She did not attempt to challenge the Head Girl’s reason for rejecting Amy for she knew that Gillian took matters of health very seriously.’ laughed Stacie. for she too had ignored them on occasion and her suffered as a result. Without her guidance I shouldn’t have known where to start.’ objected Hilary. ‘There’s no hurry. even for The Chaletian. Stacie?’ ‘Fourteen. ‘I remember feeling that I would be overwhelmed by all the work in the beginning. I certainly agree with you. but observing that the rest of the Prefects were looking at her impatiently. ‘It’s almost second nature by now. But certainly I would like to find someone during this school year.’ ‘Oh. Stacie. We should be thinking of bringing someone on as your deputy. have you anone in mind?’ Stacie cleared her throat. but it’s going to have to be someone else. certainly for the foreseeable future. Gillian. surely not. I didn’t mean straight away. ‘It’s not that she isn’t qualified. the colour flooding to her face in response to the accolade.’ ‘Of course!’ said Stacie immediately. I’m very much afraid Miss Annersley will veto her. She knew that Mrs Linton’s health would not have deteriorated so badly had she sought treatment promptly upon the onset of the first symptoms. time is on our side. You put your brains in steep and see if you can come up witn another suitable candidate. who was particularly proud of her promotion to Sub-Prefect. I think not. Stacie.’ ‘Nor I.’ replied Gillian quietly. ‘I understand.’ she replied and paused. Stacie. I have. Stacie. I will just have to think again. ‘Surely you don’t need to start looking for a replacement yet?’ ‘Well. but Jo Bettany was a tower of strength and helped me considerably.’ said Gillian slowly.’ replied Gillian. Mature beyond her years.

in the privacy of her pretty bedroom. to keep a respectful distance from his sometimes explosive temper. but everyone felt that she was qualified for the post. It had not been such a difficult day after all. ‘Oh. But term was only beginning..’ giggled Hilary. well.‘What about Corney?’ suggested Hilary with a twinkle in her eye.’ ‘Stop! Stop!’ cried Gillian. At the end of the meeting. Evadne was rather less satisfied to find herself in charge of Pets. The Prefects all shouted with laughter at the very thought. Gillian thanked everyone and they trooped off to evening prayers. though since her accident it had improved greatly.’ ‘Maybe. In common with every other pupil at the School. Suzanne Mercier offered to see to the Staff.. there being no obvious candidate for the job. even the seriousminded Stacie. other duties being dealt out in a most business-like manner among those Prefects not already holding a specified office. ‘We must finish off the business of the meeting first. Giovanna was in awe of the large piano master and preferred. ‘She is much maligned. Hence Ilonka happily accepted the post of Librarian. who was not noted for her sense of humour. had left the previous term. Margia Stevens. undoubtedly. and form-room duty hammered out relatively painlessly. while Luise Rotheim was more than satisfied to be handed Hobbies. However. Gillian sighed with relief. for his star pupil. Giovanna Rincin was dismayed to find that she would have to deal with Herr Anserl as Music Prefect. but you will admit that her English is. thus reminded of their responsibilities. struggling to be heard amidst the gales of laughter. Except that a bunch of splay-footed. though I believe she has tried very hard lately to curtail her use of American slang. ‘Hi folks we had a mighty fine term. having owned a number of exotic animals over the years. Calm down everybody. Break duties were shared out within each House. did calm down and it can be reported that the meeting proceeded to its conclusion in record time.’ laughed Nancy Wilmot.’ ‘I can just imagine the Editorial as written by Corney. colourful to say the least. ‘Poor Corney!’ chuckled Gillian. rubber-necked fourflushers beat us at tennis. Afterwards. The Prefects. if at all possible. .

’ responded Nicole de Saumarez. The Staff had made a genuine effort not to split up friends too much. to new and unfamiliar surroundings. a small English school that had started up at Buchau on the opposite shore of the Tiernsee several years earlier. The Chalet School had more than a few naughty Middles of its own and it can be reported that the Prefects had not been at all pleased to discover that they had inherited several firebrands from St Schlastika’s. Unfortunately. ‘I hate this. but its chimes sounded too early for many of the girls who had been accustimed to sleeping in rather later during the summer holidays. happened to hear this exchange of pleasantries. as she eyed her untidy cubicle. however. they are scattered everywhere. Elizabeth Arnett. And please pick up your clothes. the Head Mistress.’ This gentle admonition did nothing to sooth Betty’s temper and she stumped down the stairs of St Clare’s to the Speisesaal. a Channel Islander. had decided to retire the previous spring. The School awoke. Also. for the major part. Betty? I quite like it. for the Dormitory Prefects had their charges out of bed and either heading for the bathroom or stripping their beds before anybody had time to draw breath. The source of Betty’s resentment could be traced to the fact that she had been separated from her best friend and partner in crime. who was now residing in St Scholastika’s. Moreover. When Miss Browne.Chapter IV The New House Arrangements The rising bell rang at its usual time of seven o’clock. since Betty was slightly built and small for her age and contrived to hide herself behind Renée Lecoutier as the Mistresses passed by on their way to their seats. ‘Why they had to change things around so much beats me. . The fact that Betty and Elizabeth had lived up to their reputations during the previous term did nothing to endear them to the authorities and they had pounced on this opportunity to separate the two Middles in the hope that it would curtail their mischief. The Chalet School. however. but this was one friendship which none of the Mistresses wished to encourage. neither Miss Wilson nor Miss Stewart noticed it. or we shall be late for Frühstück. and more than one girl opened her eyes and looked around in puzzlement.’ ‘You think it is not a good idea. she had offered the school to Mrs Russell and so the two became one. Unluckily for her. wondering where she was. as she busily humped up her matress in the next cubicle. it was deemed unfair that one House alone should bear the responsibility for the pair of them for the remainder of their school careers. Yvette Mercier. ‘I didn’t ask for your opinion. a chalet one hundred yards away from the main school had been purchased to house the Staff and was named St Hild’s. Hurry up. then. ‘Betty! There is no need to be rude to Nicole. Mind your own business!’ snapped Betty. No one was allowed time to consider her new circumstances. however. thus expanded by the admission of forty pupils and half a dozen members of Staff. bboth of you.’ grumbled Betty Wynne-Davies to no one in particular. which was to be known as St Scholastika’s. had required an extra House to be built. Elizabeth and Betty were former pupils of St Scholastika’s. their Dormitory Prefect.

‘Let us go and see. It was Matron Venables. which needless to say. She had not had any dealings with little Mrs Venables as yet. Thus it was a very sulky Betty who entered the classroom late for the first lesson of the day. today as still as glass. Her peers all knew her well enough by now to leave her alone when she was in this frame of mind. which was on the far side of the form-room. like the rest of the School. declining to participate in any conversation. at least. It was just that it was not in Elizabeth’s character to betrat her feelings on the matter. Inwardly she was every bit as annoyed as Betty and all the time she was chatting with her neighbours. ‘Yes. Aloud. Leaning out of the window would afford a far better view. though.Betty was at her most uncomminicative during Frühstück. Unsurprisingly. She was sure the windows belonged to the dormitories or the corridors. reflecting all the colours of the surrounding mountains. ‘Have you finished your cubicle. she knew she was the sister of Dr Jewm and the mother of Daisy and little Primula. so landing her in yet more trouble. the cubicle did not come up to standard and Betty was ordered to improve matter forthwith. Betty was about to investiage when she felt a hand on her shoulder. Small and rather frail in appearance though she was. Matron merely said. Her bad mood turned to outrage when she discovered that her desk was located well away from Elizabeth’s. The sound of laughter brought her back to reality and her black mood returned as she was reminded that some friends. The beauty of it all was not lost on her and its serenity began to have a calming effect as she gazed at it. . However. in the back of her mind she was wondering how soon she might meet up with Betty to discuss their predicament. far from it. As she nibbled her buttered roll. far from looking miserable. and the morning walk had to be postponed. observed the younger girl’s moodiness and made a mental note to mention it to Gillian later. at the head of the table by virtue of her senior status. shall we?’ And she marched into the dormitory with a reluctant Betty trailing after her. After Frühstück. To add to her misery. the bell rang for morning prayers before she had finished the task and she was obilged to return to the dormitory immediately after prayers. Betty threw her plumeau over the bed. Matron. sped around with her duster and shoved one or two items into her drawer. but she did not dare to attempt to open it at that moment for fear of drawing unwanted attention to herself. but Evadne Lannis. If only she knew which one was Elizabteth’s. She would have been edified to learn that. it suddenly dawned on her that one of the windows in her own dormitory must face the same direction. She was just about to turn back to her dormitory when something caught her eye. Resolving to ask Elizabeth as soon as she had the chance. Elizabeth appeared to be her usual insouciant self. a very dark rain cloud had suddenly blotted out the Mondscheinspitze during prayers. Matron’s scolding was mild by comparison to Yvette’s later. Having done everything to her satisfaction. dust and finish tidying up.’ replied Betty meekly. every girl in the School returned to her cubicle to make her bed. but not for long. for she told Betty in no uncertain terms that she had let the dormitory down and that in future she was not to leave the dormitory until her cubicle had been checked. Mrs Venables was nevertheless an effective Matron and shrewd enough to keep a vigilant eye on troublemakers. Betty wondered how Elizabeth was faring. Not that she was happy with the new arrangements. she could not help but be impressed by the glorious view of the lake. she wandered out into the corridor unnoticed and stood beside the window. By dint of pushing her face against the pane and squinting to the right she discovered that she could see St Scholastika’s House. did not correspond with Matron’s idea of perfection. Despite her unhappiness. had been allowed to stay together. Betty?’ she asked.

just as in previous terms. instead of Houses for walks.’ wailed Gillian to Giovanna Donati.’ returned Giovanna reasonably. ‘Juniors. go to the left. we had better find our happy little band and move them off smartly. considering we spend so much time telling them to walk quietly.’ ‘Well. girls. behind Miss Norman and Miss Edwards. with all the changes that have been made. ‘Perhaps your feet have grown since last term. it was announced that the girls were to take their delayed walk instead of afternoon lessons since the weather had cleared up. the girls were eager to get together for this first opportunity to discuss the new situation. be served in the Houses. we can’t allow that.’ . otherwise I shall be making a noise like a herd of elephants for the rest of the day. Gillian rapidly marshalled them and off they went to join up with the other Houses already assembled in front of Ste Thérèse’s. the original school building. And please remember to be on your best behaviour.while she was forced to sit virtually under Mademoiselle Lachenais’ nose in the front row! Things could hardly be worse. But I shall have to ask you for help in removing them after the walk. where Miss Stewart is standing and do likewise. Seniors. I think I will have to get them measured the next time I go down to Innsbruck. ‘Oh.’ suggested Gillian.’ she complained. ‘You don’t want to get a blister on your heel. stamping a boot on the floor in an effort to ram her foot home. henceforth. Enjoy your walks. I do hope not! Although my family is renowned for having big feet. the new House Prefect of St Clare’s and an old friend. elevenses and Kaffee and Kuchen would. Throughout the School there was much unhappiness at the new state of affairs and by the time the bell rang for Mittagessen it was apparent to the Mistresses and Prefects that this Autumn Term would be troublesome indeed. so perhaps you are right. ‘So much for the nice quiet term I was hoping for. and quickly choose your partners.’ ‘Will you manage all right with that pair?’ enpuired Gillian. Gio? If so. as they prepared for the walk. The Middles are heading up the Tiernthal and the Seniors are going to walk to the Dripping Rock.’ ‘Well. wrestling with her walking boots. Middles and Seniors. Gillian and Giovanna found their charges waiting impatiently outside St Clare’s front door. which seemed to have shrunk two sizes since the Summer Term. you may sort yourselves out. please go and stand over there to the right. in addition to all other meals. Are you ready. Middles. Betty was not the only girl feeling discontented that morning. ******************** At the end of the half-hour rest period following Mittagessen. As it had been decided that the School should be divided into Juniors. Great had been the disappointment earlier in the day when it had been revealed that. but I am hardly able to squeeze my foot into them. I did not think it likely.’ ‘Yes.’ ‘I do not know what has happened to these boots. ‘I suppose it was too much to expect. Not a good example to the kinds. I have got them on now. Miss Wilson mounted the entrance steps to address the girls. Miss Norman is taking the Juniors around the lakeside to Seespitz. laughing at Giovanna’s antics.

Giovanna. for example.’ ‘Elizabeth is in St Scholastika’s. ‘I know that St Clare’s had Betty for its sins. I must check the House lists and see where those little demons are residing.With this timely reminder. ‘Keep an eye on those two.’ ‘That reminds me. However. but otherwise we seem to have come off lightly for wildness. I shouldn’t worry too much. Is that not so. Gillian suddenly remembered her younger sister’s worrying wods the previous evening and inwardly prayed that there would be no recurrence of trouble this term. I’m sorry to say. ‘Betty and Elizabety.’ said Nancy Wilmot feelingly. elected to join their walk to help keep an eye on the wilder characters and act as whippers-in where necessary.’ ‘Well. ‘Evadne told me earlier that Betty was a very bad modd at Frühstück.’ was all she said however. as thick as thieves as usual! I wonder what devilment they are plotting?’ ‘I have a nasty feeling we are going to find out sooner or later. now sadly past its glorious best. She caused us such trouble last term. Ida glanced in the direction of the Head Girl’s gaze and nodded. ‘Don’t worry. Emmie Linders. it’s happened before. she still suffered occasionally and so any strenuous exertion was to be avoided if at all possible. for which the stars be thanked!’ she added fervently. None of them is ever far away from trouble of one sort or another. She was awful during our first term. Gillian and Giovanna. ‘It’s true. The other Prefects joined the Seniors. She made a mental note to make it her business to find out how Joyce was settling in as soon as possible. but Gillian had not wish to discuss her sister’s rebellious history with her. ‘We have Maria Balbini. who required no policing. They might become reformed characters with a bit of luck. But you never know. Sensing this. Look at Joyce. Despite the fact that her back had much improved in the past six months. ‘I hope she settles down here. Elizabeth and Betty aren’t the only fish in the pond. Luise von Starken and at least half-a-dozen others to watch out for too. Mary Shaw. Gillian. their opportunites for badness are bound to be severely limited. ‘considering she and Elizabeth have been separated. Biddy O’Ryan. towards the Tiern Valley. She has never attended School before. you know. Ida changed the subject. I’ve already had a run-in with her for speaking on the stairs and I can tell you that she is every bit impudent as last term. I know I wasn’t here when she first came to the School. raising her eyebrows slightly at Ida’s use of slang. . Stacie Benson chose to accompany the Juniors for the simple reason that they were following a level route that suited her better.’ owned Gillian.’ ‘And I’m willing to wager that will make them all the more dangerous.’ muttered Gillian to Ida and Nancy as the Middles started off through the flower meadow. now that she is a pupil of the School. Ida was a good friend. After all.’ replied Gillian. as they are not together all the time now. Miss Wilson stepped down from her vantage point and walked over to the Middles who were busily getting themselves organised into pairs.’ ‘I had forgotten about Maria. Nancy Wilmot and Ida Reaveley. she is unlikely to come under her influence. as Maria is younger than Betty. I’m not altogher surprised. and looked forward to a pleasant walk free from any responsibilities. We do not know how she is going to behave. We have the likes of Alixe von Elsen.’ said Gillian.’ said Gillian. Gillian.’ returned Ida.’ At the mention of her name. Head of St Clare’s looked thoughtful. Giovanna?’ Giovanna. ‘Anyhow. ‘Perhaps. but I’ve heard that she was not exactly a model pupil. together with Luise Rotheim.

Gillian swung around to face them. The luckless gang had not idea they were being trailed and so were more than a little surprised to hear a voice behind them politely making enquiries as to their intentions. Elizabeth spoke first. Thus persuaded. and she and Miss Stewart huddled around the proffered paw. stop that bellowing immediately and tell me what has happened. Typically. and Gillian hastily recounted Thelma’s story. Gillian noticed a small knot of girls edging away from the rest of the group. Ste Thérèse’s has got Biddy. Thelma’s reputation as the most matter-of-fact girl in the School was reinforced at this point by her blunt declaration that Inga would be dead by now if she had been poisoned by snake venom. so I don’t see what all the fuss is about.’ Inga gulped and quietened down. and when the others break.’ ‘Really?’ replied Gillian icily.’ At this point the Prefects’ conversation was interrupted by a shriek from the centre of the crocodile and they sprinted up from the back of the line to see what was the matter. Luise and Mary Shaw.’ Whilst this was happening. I saw Irene earlier and she was not amused! She said that her and Suzanne will not be able to relax for a minute with those two on the premises. Out of the corner of her eye. hidden underneath the leaves. I shall allow you to join the Prefects and myself. in addition to French and German?’ Alixe von Elsen and Biddy O’Ryan both sniggered at this remark. They found Inga Eriksen. having commanded the girls to stop.’ ordered Miss Wilson. ‘Inga.’ stated Ida glumly. Inga allowed her thumb to be bathed in the cold water of the nearby river. ‘That’s not fair! We haven’t had a chance to talk yet. She nudged Ida and the two of them strode stealthily after them. Now go back to the others immediately and wait for us. You would have caught up anyway. Unfortunately this helpful statement did nothing to placate poor Inga. Elzabeth. ‘And St Agnes’ had Alixe and Emmie. Stooping to examine the offending plant. and the walk at last was able to continue up the valley towards the Tiern Pass.’ By now Miss Wilson and Miss Stewart appeared on the scene. you may continue your walk with us. to convince Inga that she hadn’t been bitten by a snake. was trying to wrestle it free. which helped enormously. ‘What on earth is wrong?’ demanded Gillian. something bit her thumb. Nancy. ‘We didn’t see why we should waste time hanging around. Miss Wilson had been trying without success. but befre she could say anything. whose thumg was throbbing badly. Thelma butted in with the explanation. ‘She bent down to look at a plant. you should have thought of that before. ‘As you appear to find my company amusing. ‘Despite the fact that Miss Wilson told you all to stay where you were.’ ‘Well. . clutching her left thumb with her right hand and crying her woes to the world while her partner. Miss Stewart saved the day by discovering a nasty sucker covered in thorns. a mousy girl. Or do you have trouble understanding your mother tongue. Inga. Four faces turned around to see their Head Girl plainly waiting for an answer. could comprehend her order. but whe she put out her hand to touch it. Thelma Johansen.’ Betty protested loudly.‘Count yourself lucky that you only have Elizabeth to worry about. who normally never stood out from the crod. I would have thought that even you. ‘Let me see your hand.

‘I’m sure she will be down to see us as soon as she can.’ continued Gillian. She glanced down at the small girl. ‘Thank you!’ said Giovanna gratefully as she plumped onto the bench. who had just arrived back from her walk with the rest of the Seniors in time to catch the last part of the conversation.’ announced Miss Wilson. whose dark features were set in a scowl as she stared stonily ahead. do you think so?’ panted Giovanna. they were not able to have their private discussions thanks to the change of weather.’ interjected Evadne. Perhaps she had overreacted. All the same. Gillian. she sought to reassure Gillian. I agree with you there.’ ‘Yes. The trouble with you. Prefects were given a great deal of responsibility for discpline and the smooth running of the School. all the Prefects. She would know what to do for the best. ‘I think I rather overdid the punishment. ‘Yes.’ ‘As it turned out.’ said Gillian. ‘Here.’ ‘They cheeked you. ‘I’m afriad that we must turn back immediately. For their part. ‘She generally does manage to put in an appearance at the beginning of each term. they didn’t actually do anything terribly wrong. mindful of the special trust placed in them. I do not like the look of the weather. I’d say you did the right thing.’ said the Head Girl thoughtfully. however.’ Gillian knew the advice was sound. hopping about on one foot.’ ‘No. ‘Oh. The feeling of uneasiness would not go away so quickly. it’s a bad way to start term. anyhow?’ asked Evadne. ‘However.The two Mistresses noticed that the Prefects had four sulky Middles in tow but did not trouble to make enquiries. After all. Has she forgotten us?’ ‘i’ve heard quite a few people asking the same question.’ ‘What’s the bother. I can’t help feeling that this little episode will only make things worse. sit down and let me pull that boot off you. Don’t think another thing about it. though. why has Jo Bettany not come to see us yet?’ asked Giovanna. the line of girls started to retreat down the valley towards Briesau. Still. ‘I know the little nuisances ignored Bill’s order. . I wish I could consult Joey. They had not even had a chance to break ranks. but she couldn’t help herself. was relieved and said as much to Giovanna when they reached the School once more and had dismissed the four miscreant. is that you are too conscientious.’ To much grumbling. ‘I think she is busy with a new book.’ ‘I know. becoming involved only in serious breaches of rules. had taken their duties very seriously.’ she replied. At the School. You can’t let the little devils think they can get away with it. A blow on the whistle suddenly interrupted Gillian’s thoughts. When Giovanna had enlightened her.’ she confided as once more she watched Giovanna struggle with her boots. Gillian instantly regretted that she had mentioned Jo’s name. but maybe I should have merely given them a warning. a much-prized feature of any walk. rubbing life into her crushed foot tenderly. ‘Speaking as a reformed Middle. from the School’s very first day. As far as possible the Staff preferred to rely on the Seniors’ judgement and handling of minor infractions. Gillian felt a slight unease as she and Alixe von Elsen walked in silence. ‘Girls. wrestling with the offending footwear. and that we could not let pass. Gillian. they do not have the opportunity to get together very often nowadays and I think it might have been more sensible to let them have their freedom.

But her anxiety to protect her mother. This turned out to be less difficult that she imagined because other events contrived to take her mind off Joyce completely. She followed the . when a tiny sniffle attracted her attention. by the end of term. she was not without brains. Gillian. Gillian accepted that it would be fat better to let her stand on her own feet now. greatly admired in some quarters. she was a Sixth Former now and surely old enough to look after herself. but. on her way to deliver a message to Matron. After all. however. surprisingly. ‘At least she looks reasonably happy. although she did catch sight of her in the distance several times. it would be as well to wait for Joyce herself to make the first move. she was not blind to her faults and frankly doubted Joyce’s ability to act prudently. Her preferred method of a chance encoutner was not likely to happen with Joyce tucked away in St Agnes’. Gillian’s distruct arose from an incident. as much as she loved her sister. She completed her errand smartly and then returned to the dormitory to investigate. next term Joyce would be on her own with no elder sister on hand to offer guidance. when no girl was supposed to be anywhere near the dormitories. she was beginning to realise that it was not going to be an easy matter. Joyce was changing. she had no mind to lose her placing in her new Form. though with the new House system in place. Yet Gillian knew that her sister would be bound to resent any formal petition for a meeting. That her innate obstinacy was now more purposefully deployed in her determination to do well was apparent to those in authority. Indeed. Joyce herself. and for the better. she was unable to talk to Joyce that evening. In her heart. when Mrs Linton had suffered an almost fatal relapse upon hearing a false rumour that Joyce had been expelled. during their first term at the School.Chapter V Trouble Brewing Gillian resolved to catch up with Joyce for a chat after Abendessen. Perhaps. with one of the quietest girls in the School. Gillian had overlooked one important factor.’ And she reluctantly decided to try and put the problem aside for a while. Despite her past reputation for recalcitrance. though she heard a sound coming from the smallest dormitory on that floor. It was hardly Gillian’s fault that she had failed to appreciate the full extent of this improvement for Joyce still possessed a lamentable veneer of conceit which tended to be uppoermost whenever she was in the company of her sister. The first indication of trouble began. she mused. the memory of which still haunted Gillian and made her determined to do all in her power to keep Jpyce out of trouble and so prevent a repetition of that dreadful affair. As Gillian suspected. Although a very different girl from Gillian in every way.’ thought Gillian. from looks to temperament. When she chose to. or indeed for the following three days. As she walked along the upper corridor of St Clare’s during break. events would transform Gillian’s low estimation of her sister. No wonder. then. and having done so reasonably successfully for the past three terms. At first she saw nothing amiss in any of the six cubicles and was about to leave. who welcomed their pupils’ all-round improved attitude. Joyce could knuckle down to work and produce creditable results. that Gillian found it so hard to trust Joyce. ‘Oh well! I suppose I’ll have to be patient and wait for a suitable moment to have it out with her. it has to be said.

hastily rephrasing her question in French for she had momentarily forgotten that it was French day. The door opened and in crept the small girl. ‘Come in and sit down!’ . since an explanation was not forthcoming. Gillian deliberatted for a moment or two. ‘Entrez!’ called Gillian. or you must come back after lessons. Viola was silent. ‘Now.je suis. ‘Viola Emery! What on earht are you doing here? Er. After checking that the child was presentable once more.’ she sobbed pathetically. ‘That much is obvious. for goodness sake? It’s not as though you are a new girl suffering from homesickness. ‘That was last term. Viola looked at the Head Girl with terrified eyes and promptly began to howl again.. What’s wrong?’ Viola looked ready to start all over again. I shan’t bite you!’ laughed the Head Girl. Viola.très triste. she fervently wished that she had held her tongue. dismissed her. Indeed. Gillian gave Viola another minute and. qu’est-ce que tu fais?’ demanded Gillian. Gillian gaped at her in astonishment. She was not very good at French at the best of times and in her present state would have found it hard enough to communicate her feelings in her native language.’ though Gillian. This was a matter she could not overlook. Viola. ‘The bell is likely to ring in a minute.’ faltered Viola. and I can’t allow you to miss your next lesson. that is. ‘I want to leave the School. but she bit her lip and managed to control herself. which fortunately was empty.. for quite apart from disregarding the rule by going to the dormitory at that time of day. So it was that at fifteen minutes past sixteen o’clock. She searched her memory but could not recall any previous instance of the youngster being in trouble. Gillian realised this and took pity on the poor girl. ‘Qu’est-ce qui ne va pas?’ Viola looked blankly at Gillian. It’s clear that something has made you very unhappy. either tell me quickly what is troubling you and your reason for breaking dormitory rules. Viola was clearly upset about something and Gillian was determined to discover the cause of her tears. I thought you were getting on well last term. Aloud she said slowly and clearly. ‘I want to know why you were crying in your dormitory. her strict instructions to return to the Prefects’ room after Kaffee und Kuchen. So. scrubbing her eyes with a very damp handkerchief.’ she quavered. Gillian had already asked the other Prefects to vacate the room. she marched her down to the Prefects’ room. Moving quietly around to the cubicle she found a small girl sitting on the floor with her back against her bed. ‘Why. reverting to English once more.’ began Gillian gently. You seemed happy enough. Switching to English. It’s up to you. Viola. ‘Et-tu indisposeé?’ enquired Gillian. ‘Don’t worry.. at any rate. a timorous knock was heard on the door of the Prefects’ room. with eyes cast downwards.direction of the noise and caught sight of the crown of a coppry-red mop of curls. ‘Non! Je suis.. knowing that the presence of so many big girls would overawe Viola. she bent down and persuaded Viola to get up before leading her off to the bathroom where she bade her bath her swollen eyes in cold water. She had made her startling announcement in the heat of the moment and now she was feeling confused and not a little scared.

She was at pains to put Viola at her ease, for she reckoned that it would be the only way that the youngster would relax sufficiently to tell her the whole story. Besides, Gillian had a shrewd notion that Viola, having had plenty of time to reflect on the morning’s incident, was not bitterly regretting her outburst and wondering how best to account for her behaviour without giving anything away. ‘Have you spoken to Ernestine about this, Viola?’ she asked quietly. Clearly taken aback by the question, Viola’s sapphire blue eyes widened as far as they would go and she stared at Gillian. Ernestine was Viola’s elder sister and they were very alike, sharing the same pretty colouring and rose-petal skin. Gillian was almost certain that she would have revealed her difficulties to Ernestine at some stage. ‘Ernestine has a cold, Gillian,’ replied Viola, finally finding her voice. ‘She’s in the San at the moment.’ ‘Oh, I didn’t know that. What bad luck! I do hope she is better soon.’ Gillian’s genuinely sympathetic response struck a cord with Viola, who adored her elder sister, and she relaxed a little. Perhaps, she thought, it would be safe to tell the whole story after all. She stood in wholesome awe of all the Prefects, as did all the younger girls, but there was something reassuring in Gillian’s manner and kindly face that impelled Viola to confide in her. ‘Gillian, I didn’t mean to...that is...’ she stammered, finding it difficult to know where or how to start. ‘Viola, why don’t you tell me what made you so upset,’ prompted Gillian persuasively, well aware that her storm of tears lay at the heart of the trouble. ‘I was frightened. You see, Gillian, I think that the dormitory is haunted.’ ‘Haunted?’ echoed Gillian, remembering just in time to keep the surprise out of her voice. ‘That is why I went back to the dormitory this morning. I wanted to see if it was there.’ ‘And was it?’ Gillian was wildly curious by now, but she forced herself to keep her questions low-key, in the hope that her patience would get to the root of the mystery. ‘No. I thought if I went back there by myself, I might see it. But it didn’t happen and suddenly I felt alone. It’s very quiet there and then I heard footsteps and I was scared, very scared. ‘That was only me, though,’ said Gillian calmly. ‘Is that what made you cry?’ ‘Yes, I think so. I knew that I shouldn’t be in the dormitory and I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t mean to break the rules.’ ‘You should have come to me or one of the other Prefects if you were scared,’ said Gillian, still none the wiser as to the cause of Viola’s fear. She tried another question. ‘I want to help you Viola, but you must tell me what it is that you have seen in the dormitory to make you think that it is haunted.’ Thus persuaded, Viola began to tell her extraordinary tale. The trouble had started on the second night after her return to School. Awakened in the early hours, Viola had seen flashes of light playing on the ceiling of the dormitory. They had flickered so briefly she thought that she had been dreaming. The next night she had been awakened again to the spectacle of more lights. This time she knew she was not dreaming for they had continued to illuminate the ceiling for some minutes, casting eerie shadows, before stopping. Thoroughly afraid, Viola had dived underneath her bedclothes and lay trembling for an hour or so until tiredness finally overcame her. When the same strange event had happened for the third night running, she had bravely decided that she must try to find out what it was, for never

would she get a good night’s sleep otherwise. Hence her illicit visit to the dormitory during break, which ended up with the Head Girl becoming involved in the matter. Gillian listened to the story in baffled silence. She did not doubt Viola’s sincerity, but when she finished, hastened to assure the youngster that the lights were not the result of some werid, ghostly phenomenon. ‘Viola, there has to be a straightforward reason for the flashes. Let me see...your Dormitory Prefect is Yvette Mercier. You ought to have told her after the first occurrence of the flashes, but you didn’t. Why not?’ A timid look came over Viola’s face and she faltered, ‘I didn’t like to because some of the others said I was just a ...silly little child, making a fuss about nothing. They said I was obviously dreaming, and if I hadn’t been, then it must have been a ghost and that Yvette would only laugh at me if I told her. ‘Really?’ The fog of confusion began to lift as Gillian digested this intersting piece of intelligence. At last she was getting somewhere. More than ever she felt that the answer rested within the dormitory and not in Viola’s imagination. ‘Who are the other members of your dormitory, please?’ ‘Joanna Linders, Nicole de Saumarez, Betty Wynne-Davie and Renée Lecoutier.’ ‘I see. I think that is all for now, Viola,’ said Gillian finally. ‘Just remember that, regardless of what other people may tell you, there are no ghosts in your dormitory. Whatever else the lights are, and I suspect that it is more than likely that someone is playing a joke, they have nothing to do with ghosts. You should have ignored the others and told Yvette, or one of the Prefects. I can assure you that no one would have laughed at you. There is little to be gained by taking matters into your own hands and getting yourself in trouble for breaking rules. I am not going to say any more about the dormitory business for I think that you have suffered enough already and I know you will not break that particular rule again. I will speak to Yvette and sort things out. I am confident that you will have no more broken nights. Now, run away and stop worrying!’ A much-relieved Viola mumbled her thanks to her Head Girl and shot out of the room, leaving Gillian to ponder her next move. She was convinced that Miss Betty Wynne-Davies was involved, but she could not understand why she should want to flash her torch around in the middle of the night. Viola had not heard footsteps, or indeed any sound at all, so that meant that Betty must have stayed in bed. Unable to find a motive, Gillian decided to have a talk with Yvette Mercier as soon as possible. Before long, the sound of the bell ringing in the distance interrupted her thoughts and she was obliged to set aside the problem for the time being. Yvette confessed to knowing nothing of the happenings in her dormitory, whe Gillian caught up with her before Abendessen, although she had had suspicions about Viola for a couple of days. However, upon enquiry, Viola had vehemently denied that anything was wrong, so Yvette had left it at that. Gillian wanted to know if any of the other girls in the dormitory had been teasing Viola. ‘I know that Viola is a quiet little girl,’ she continued. ‘I imagine that she would find someone like Betty Wynne-Davie to be intimidating. ‘I have not noticed anything, Gillian,’ said Yvette thoughtfully. ‘Viola is younger than Betty and not of much interest to her, as far as I can see. She tends to ignore her most of the time.’ ‘Well, I suggest that you confiscate all torches in the dormitory for the time being and see if that cures the problem,’ said Gillian with a grim smile. ‘And report to me immediately if you see any trouble between Betty and Viola. I have given Viola my word that she will have no more broken nights and we must see to it that she doesn’t, otherwise Matron will be on the war path, wondering why the child is

looking drawn and if she gets involved, well, things could get nasty for those kids. I’d much rather we dealt with it ourselves.’ ‘Very well, Gillian,’ nodded Yvette. ‘I’ll ask them to hand in their torches to me. And I shall make no mention of Viola. Let whoever it was think I saw the flashes myself.’ ‘Good idea,’ said Gillian approvingly. ‘We don’t want Viola to be accused of sneaking to you. That would make things very awkward for her.’ Accordingly, that night, the girls of Pinewoods got an unpleasant surprise when Yvette arrived on the scene as they were preparing for bed and demanded that their torches be handed to her. Skilfully omitting any reference to Viola, she made clear that any girl found to be awake in the middle of the night, for whatever reason, would be sent to the San and put under the care of Matron, who would no doubt take steps to treat her insomnia. As this admonition appeared to apply to both the victim of the trouble and the prepetrator, Viola was thus exonerated of telling tales and managed to get a good night’s sleep at last. The affair of the flashing lights continued to puzzle Gillian nevertheless. She would have liked to discover for certain who was playing with the torch, and more importantly, why she was doing it. However, she could not risk allowing Viola to endire a further night of anxiety, even though Yvette had initially volunteered to stay awake in order to catch the miscreant red-handed. Anyhow, the crime, if it could be described as such, was not great enough to merit any more lost sleep. Even so, Gillian could not help feeling that something more sinister lay behind the innocent playing of a torch on the ceiling, but she had no idea what it could be. She knew that it would be useless to ask questions of Betty Wynne-Davies, Joanna Linders, or even Nicole de Saumarez without first gleaning clear evidence of their involvement. Renée Lecoutier, she was quite shure, had played no part in the nonsense. Gillian’s mind went back to illicit nocturnal goings-on of previous terms, but those had invariably involved the movement of girls in and out of dormitories as in the case of the Middles who, on balmy summer nights, had met up on the roof of St Clare’s to perform their own plays. And of course, there had been the infamous midnight feast in which her own sister Joyce had had a starring role, with disasterour consequences to her digestive system. Gillian shuddered inwardly at that unhappy memory. But this was very diffrent and it puzzled her greatly, though for some reason she did not mention it to any of the Prefects, which was a pity, for if she had, she might have found her answer sooner, and those Prefects taking the Middles for prep would have been spared a week of annoyance and disruption and would have caught the culprits far sooner than was the case.

As not one of them was getting any work done before that.’ said Nancy.’ ‘Well.. ‘I just wish the Head hadn’t decided that the Third and Fourth Forms should all have prep together in one big group in Ste Thérèse’s.’ averred the French girl. ‘I could not get them to settle down at all yesterday. by virtue of their privileged position within the School. I wouldn’t put it past a few others to try the same thing. I overheard Kitty Burnett complaing bitterly about that self-same thing to Alixe von Elsen and the rest of her little band of friends.’ ‘Don’t forget that this is nothing new.almost!’ The Prefects laughed at this.. ‘I’ve done next to no work of my own. It’s got to be handed in first thing tomorrow morning. I expect the Staff had something to say to them this morning. First. expressed incredulity at that piece of information. referring to the Middles. Most of them appreciated how the School felt about the new House system. I couldn’t agree with you more.’ ‘Yes. ‘Irene is very proud of St Agnes’.’ The next few days were a trial to those Prefects who were in charge of the Thirds and Fourths for prep. with similar tales to tell of constant noise and disruption and general bad behaviour.’ said Hilary thoughfully. for up till now she had been listening quietly. Suzanne?’ ‘Yes. I felt sorry for them. ‘They are still being disorderly then. I think she dealt with the pretty thoroughly. joining in the conversation. Nancy grinned. who. In the end I ordered them to sit with their arms folded for the last ten minutes of prep.’ ‘Oh. We can’t allow them to break out whenever they feel like it. Didn’t she. although the constrains were not felt so much by the Prefects.’ grumbled Ida Reaveley.Chapter VI Re-Morse! ‘Those wretched Middles wre worse than ever during prep. who had just enered the room. were able to meet with each other much as before. then Giovanna Donati and Ilonk Barkockz arrived back hot and bothered after battling to keep the Middles in order. She will not let anyone sully its good name if she can help it! I’ll bet those kids returned with their tails between their legs. ‘Irene was saying that she had caught some girls in her house sneaking out of St Agnes’ after Abendessen. ‘At least they are not together all the time.’ Jeanne le Caoulec put down the book she was reading. Goodness knows when I’ll managed to finish my French essay. and proceeded to sort through the muddled heap with a most unbecoming scowl on her face. if that was the case. of course. Ida?’ she enquired. it doesn’t seem to have made an atom of difference. ‘What?’ Hilary Burn. and I for one am exceedingly thankful. If only she had insisted that they do their prep in their respective Houses each day. ‘I hope she came down on them good and hard. Luise Rotheim. as she flung down her books on the table in the centre of the Prefects’ room. then we would have had a much easier time. ‘I think we ought to be on the alert for breakouts. They were awful this afternoon.’ chipped in Stacie Benson with a grin. .’ said Ida crossly. They were all heading to their different Houses at the time and the sad farewells they exchanged were quite pitiful.’ said Nancy.’ ‘Still. ‘But how the little dears hate it.

What she heard caused her faced to flush red with fury and with eyes boring gimletlike into the rows before her. At eighteen o’clock on the dot. surprised to see Hilary and not Suzanne. seemingly concentrating on her Latin translation. Hilary was a force to be reckoned with. she stood up and banged the desk lid with her fist. Hilary marched into the large roome used by the Middles for their preparation and demanded silence. Luise von Starken trotted up to her to ask for help with a sum and Hilary was obliged to spend a couple of minutes sorting out the mucherased scribble which Luise was pleased to call algebra. No sooner had she been sent back to her seat with appropriate instructions than it seemd to be the signal for at least half the girls in the room to follow suit. The . She was on the point of demanding silence. Hilary. but it did not unduly bother her. Thereafter she had been busy on her own account and Hilary. commanded a great deal of respect from the younger girls. knowing that Gillian would have no objections to the change in thr rota. quietened down immediately and began to work. and the Head Girl encouraged her to take more responsibility than would normally be the case appreciating that experience gained this term would be excellent preparation for the next. The tapping sound had meanwhile ceased and Hilary felt glad that she had not needed to call the culprit to order. then they would have to face the consequences in the morning. Since Hilary had been guilty of this annoying habit in the past. She lifted her head but the noise stopped and she was unable to locate its direction. but it was a brave or foolhardy pupil who tested the patience of the two senior Prefects. At that moment. Hilary grimaced. and asked Suzanne mercier to swap duties with her. The other Prefects could be pushed so far. though this time it appeared to come from the other side of the room. totally exasperated. After fifteen minutes or so. contemplating their next move. She was working well with Gillian. She had intended to tell Gillian of her decision. So she carried on with her work. the School did possess a number of girls willing to have a go and several were sitting at their desks in front of Hilary. to her annoyance. a quiet tapping sound started somewhere in the room. She finished up by advising them to listen more closely to their lessons in future and then bade them continue with their prep. Still. rapped on her desk and announced in no uncertain terms that she would answer no more pleas for help. A few minutes wen by before Hilary became conscious of the quiet tapping sound again. was in fact waiting for the first signs of trouble. Some girls tapped their pens absentmindedly while they thought out problems.So annoyed were the three Prefects that Hilary decided to take prep on the following Monday. she automatically assumed that someone in the room was doing the same thing. If they were unable to do their work. A quick glance around the room gave no hint of mischief in the making as all heads were bent towards books and the level of noise was no higher than could be reasonably expected. and together with Gillian. It was barely audible and at first Hilary thought it was the creaking of one of the folding desks. One by one they trooped up to Hilary. but did not get a chance as the Head Girl had spent the weekend up at the Sonnalpe. had not worried unduly. when Hilary would take over the post herself. who had not been very well since the first day of term. and had not returned until early on Monday morning. it started up again. Then. occasionally looking up to see if everyone was working. until the Prefect. The Middles. blithely unaware of what they were doing or that they might be disturbing others. visiting her mother. suspecting an epidemic of tapping was about to break out all over the room. just as Hilary was beginning to relax and wonder if the previous week’s problems were simply die to over-excitement. when all of a sudden she was struck by the strange rhythms being tapped out and she listened hard.

Middles jumped collectively at the unexpected noise and waited with baited breath for the blows to fall. Though she was well known for her sympathetic and quiet nature. which the Prefect was quick to notice. alas. unaware of any trouble. This warning elicited long faces all round and a few girls threw accusing looks in a couple of directions. thereby increasing the tension in the room at the same time. Gillian. Betty was angry with Elizabth for owning up so readily for. You know very well that any sort of communication during prep. Hilary gladly made way for the Head Girl to take charge of the proceedings. . ‘Who has been tapping out Morse Code?’ she demanded.’ At this point Hilary stopped and glared at the many faces before her. Eventually there was a stir and Elizabeth Arnett stood up. Hilary had only just managed to apprise the Prefects of the facts of the case when a knock at the door heralded the arrival of the two sulky Middles. Silence. When the bell rang at last for the end of prep. followed reluctantly by Betty Wynne-Davies. owing to a meeting with the Head. she possessed the lesser sense of honour and would have been quite happy to remain for a while longer at least.’ Hilary gave deliberate emphasis to the word to underline her disgust and it sent shivers down the backs of the girls. ‘Please to not be late. When she finished speaking. Then she asked if anyone else was involved. She looked quizzically around the table and then saw Betty and Elizabeth and was puzzled no more. she spoke in a controlled. They were two of the chief troublemakers in the School and. would remain standing until the bell rang. so it seemed to the Middles. After an age. would feel her wrath. Yet at least two of you in this room have been doing far more than that. be it talking. Hilary paused to compse herself for she was extremely angry. known to be practically immune to censure. as Gillian listened to Hilary’s report. had not been present. her expression became grimmer and grimmer. for what you have been indulging in has clearly been premeditated. you will come to the Prefects’ room. and she repeated the question. She knew that Hilary had not actually observed the two of them tapping out their message for they had been very discreet about it and in truth no one would have noticed any untoward activity by either signaller. the girls put away their writing materials and collected their books with relief before marching out of the room. come what may. so thwarting any opportunity for discussion of tactics. hand-sgnalling or the writing of notes is not allowed in this School and is regarded as a serious infringement of the rules.’ she told them coldly. But Hilary was determined to find out. and she arrived on the scene a few minutes later. she decreed. adding that no one would leave the room until the culprits owned up. ‘That some of you have chosen to act so dishonourably in a conscious attempt to deceive the Prefects in charge of you is inexcusable. satisfied Hilary and she curtly instructed the girls to finish their prep. but nevertheless wrathful manner.’ Then she delivered both of them to their Houses. of the two. This gave the duo time to consider their misdeeds and to ponder the severity of the punishment that was most certainly coming to them. Hilary regarded the pair for a good minute before commanding them to come up to the front of the class. A general shaking of heads plus Elizabeth’s confirmation of the fact. Gillian could be sententious when the occasion required and Hilary guessed that even Elizabeth and Betty. ‘Two girls have been communicating with each other during prep. much to their disgust. even if it took all night for them to come forward. leacing Hilary alone with Betty and Elizabeth. Your dishonesty is breathtaking. After Abendessen. some of whose owners actually squirmed in response to her cutting words. Betty and Elizabeth.

for it was hard work and she was very shaky. unlike you. But since you have given it freely. defiant as ever. Prehaps you do not understand what it means?’ Elizabeth flushed at this.. I wonder why?’ And Gillian looked at the two of them thoughtfully for a minute. For that reason alone. I suppose.’ she replied seriously.’ she said cheekily. Elizabeth had come up with her brilliant plan in the summer holidays. which she was confident would not be detected.‘Well. ‘You two have a very strange idea of dishonesty. what have you to say for yourselves?’ Gillian enquired at length. ‘Anyway. ‘Then it is a pity you cannot recognise how dishonest you have been. But with plenty of practise she had become adept and a casual remark from her brother one day had inspited an idea for a terrific prank. They had expected to be handed their punishment and a short admonition. but sadly it appears that the ‘code of honour’ upon which the Guide Movement is founded is not in your vocabulary. You may not have been passing information about preparation. Hilary?’ asked Gillia at length. ‘Nothing much.how long?’ ‘A week. she had almost looked forward to the new term when she . You have obviously mastered Morse Code. ‘I’m glad you mentioned Guides. and yet you resent any suggestion that you were cheating. having only begun to learn it in Guides the term before. and we have to take your word for this. ‘No! We wouldn’t do such a thing. So keen was he that he persauded his younger sister to practise signalling with him every day. Whose idea was it?’ Elizabeth held her head up. in a clandestine way that made it very difficult for the Prefect in charge to discover you. The trouble is that. This was all planned in advance obviously. so I don’t see why you are all steamed up.’ ‘By cheating. ‘Is cheating a lesser offence than deceit?’ Hilary shook her head. She was a very proud young lady and did not like her integrity to be questioned. Elizabeth. I must say. it is clear that you do not consider deception to be a sin. after her elder brother had arrived home fresh from his Cadet’s course. we were not cheating.’ ‘I didn’t ask for your opinion.’ cried Elizabeth indignantly. But Gillian remained calmness itself.’ mused Gillian. ‘What do you think. though her eyes showed amusement. At first Elizabeth had been less than enchanted by it. You don’t think twice about breaking the rules in the most underhanded way imaginable. I find it impossible to distinguish between the two. Elizabeth decided to brazen it out.. The two sinners started to feel extremely uncomfortable. ‘It was mine. but you did signal to each other repeatedly. not this leisurely debate on morals. I assume that you mean you did not help each other with prep?’ Stacie Benson wanted to know. The two of you have been carrying on this deceitful means of communication for . trying unsuccessfully to disguise her pride in its originality.’ mumbled Elizabeth. having come first in a signalling test. full of enthusiasm for Morse Code.’ she said.’ she flashed back angrily. ‘Of course I do. why did we go to the bother of learning it in Guides?’ The Prefects looked shocked at this display of impudence.’ returned Betty. ‘I’m certain that they would both carry a stiff penalty in a court of law. ‘If you didn’t want us to make use of Morse Code. ‘But not all the time. ‘Because it is dishonest. Gillian. ‘I shouldn’t say so. time and time again. Betty. realising that Gillian meant to have her answer.

so it had been a bitter blow to discover. she reckoned.would be able to share her wonderful proposition with Betty. and worse. I waited until everyone was asleep and then I practised my signalling. It had not taken them long to discover that. in desparation. Had they been a little more prudent. for they had practically no opportunities to meet outside lessons. so eager had they been not to blow the whole thing before they had had a chance to get really proficient. Thus it had come as a terrible shock to both Elizabeth and Betty to be discovered for they had fervently hoped and confidently expected to continue signalling indefinitely. So just a few words were transmitted during their first session. Betty thought hard for a few minutes and then a broad grin spread over her face. ‘Well. She was wondering if it would be possible to have a shot at it later in the term when Gillian brought her back to the present with another unpleasant revelation.’ . she would be letting herself down. I assume that the so-called ‘ghostly lights’ were in fact perpetrated by you. unlike Elizabeth. for Betty knew that not only would she be treated with scorn. they were most unlikely to draw attention to themselves. Then she had started to have second thoughts for. though quite a few of their fellow Middles had cottoned on to their game by now. Elizabeth had written anote explaining the idea and had slipped it into Betty’s hand during prayers. once they had brushed up on their Morse Code sufficiently. After a fruitless day of trying to make contact. by tapping the end of a pencil very quietly under their desks while pretending to concentrate on their prep simultaneously. or at any rate. you are in Pinewoods dormitory. if she worked at it. It was unfortunate that Hilary unexpectedly arrived to take Monday prep and it was even more unfortunate that she was very quick-qitted. by your torch. on returning to School. In fact a few of their coterie had made up their minds to join in the fun. She had found the perfect solution. she had not practised Morse Code since the previous term. until the confiscation of her torch the previous week. Both were angry and upset now as they faced the Prefects. until. How did Gillian know about that? More than anything she had not wanted Elizabeth to know about her night-time rehearsals. but. And it was fun! They had begun at prep the previous Monday. hacing fooled many Prefects so far. she had been especially good at it. They had grown more confident each day. That would have been unthinkable. How she wished that she had applied herself more diligently.?’ Betty looked aghast. Within a few days.’ Betty nodded her head sullenly. very gingerly at first. but where and when was the problem without giving the game away. she had not suspected them. that the new House system had almost put paid to the stunt. by the end of the week. ‘I’m waiting for an answer. they were transmitting whole messages to each other. It had seemed an unbeatable formula. It was a brilliant scheme. the signallers would have given up for the evening. had demanded silence a few times. So she decided that night to get some much-needed practice. they now believed themselves to be completely safe from prosecution and so threw caution to the winds and continued their coded dialogue. Betty?’ said Gillian. Jeanne le Cadoulec. ‘Betty. Although the Prefect in charge. quite the best thing Elizabeth had thought up in ages. But being equal to Elizabeth in everything was Betty’s raison d’être and she was not going to admit to her friend that she was not up to it. That young women had read the note under the bedclothes that night with glee and admiration for her friend’s ingenuity. she would be ready for a trial run and then the fun could begin in earnest. ‘Yes. Betty had been planning to send messages to Elizabeth from her dormitory window. for she had not made much of an effort to learn it.

that she must have seen a ghost. you told a younger girl. either in the dormitory or in preparation. ‘You know very well that it was utterly wrong of you to say such a thing. After that. there will be real trouble. Elizabeth. At your age.’ commented Hilary.’ ‘That will do. In addition you will write an essay on ‘honour and honesty’ and hand it in after Abendessen tomorrow. you will do your preparation in the company of the Seniors for the next two weeks. you must accept the consequences. ‘I think that was their most ingenious prank yet.’ Betty started to protest loudly but she was silenced at once by Gillian.‘I see. ‘Now you may go and if I have occasion to reprimand you again this side of half term. ‘I agree with you there. you will take all your meals at a Junior table. she was terrified for several nights and hardly got any sleep. ‘As for you. for the next fortnight you will go to bed at the same time as the Junionrs. Therefore.’ said Gillian grimly. But as you evidently cannot be trusted to behave. who awoke when you were signalling. I wasn’t to know that the kid would be so stupid as to believe me. That was inexcusable and I am ashamed of you!’ Betty shrugged her shoulders peevishly.’ . you ought to be developing some sense of responsibility towards those younger than yourself. Betty!’ Gillian spoke with some severity.’ She turned to Elizabeth.’ They went! The Prefects looked at one another and began to gather their belongings. ‘And I have a nasty feeling there will be more to come from those two before term is over. ‘It was a joke. But not content with that. Also.

’ laughed Miss Annersley.’ . See what a cup of coffee and a chocolate biscuit can do to revive you. ‘Oh dear! It’s almost twenty-one o. Con. Well. as Head of Ste Thérèse’s. By now the Staff were fully awake and agog to know the reason for the impromptu meeting.Chapter VII The Staff in Conclave ‘Thank goodness for a chance to sit down and relax! What did we do to deserve such a term?’ Thus Miss Stewart as she sank exhaustedly into a comfortable chair. Nell. She had been hoping to have an early night. ‘Who for?’ demanded Miss Stewart. I simply don’t have the energy to express my feelings more imaginatively.’ Her words hit home and she grinned with amusement at the discomfiture of the assembled company.’ added Miss Wilsom as she poured a second cup of coffee for herself.’ smiled Miss Stewart wearily as she gratefully accepted the welcome refreshments from her friend.clock. for the first weeks of term had been very tiring. I see. I rather think Hilda wishes to have an informal Staff meeting. though. but I should like to hear your views. I am well aware that the beginning of term has not gone as smoothly as usual and. ‘Did I say something amusing? she enquired somewhat tartly. ‘Don’t get too comfy.’ ‘Never mind. They did not have to wait long. ‘Really. who immediately reached across the table and handed her a cup of coffee.’ ‘Oh. ‘Oh dear.’ And she sat down beside Mademoiselle Lachenais. but I am very anxious to hear all your opinions concerning the new House arrangements. On the contrary. just the ticket. collapse into a chair and utter those heartfelt sentiments. naturally I have made my own observations. ‘No. I have no particular news to impart. however. nerve-racking. ‘I wonder what could be so important that it could not wait until the morrow?’ mused Mademoiselle Lachenais. and she wanted to catch up on some much-needed sleep. not to say. Con! Your English! The chocs are a small compensation for interrupting your precious free time so late in the day. ‘It’s just that you are the fifth person in a row to enter the Staff room. ‘In that case.’ sighed Miss Norman.’ The Head paused and took a sip of coffee before explaining further. ‘Come in. Miss Annersley then produced a big box of chocolate and passed them around. She wishes me to go up to the Sonnalpe tomorrow morning to discuss School business and naturally she will want to know how we are progressing under the new system.’ she announced. ‘These are by way of a peace offering.’ replied Miss Wilson quickly recognising that her friend was in no mood to be teased. for five minutes later the door opened and Miss Annersley walked in. not at all. Hilda!’ cried Miss Wilson. ‘Madame telephoned a few minutes ago. ‘I told everyone that you wished to speak to us and since then they have been gesticulating wildly.’ ‘Thanks. Please feel free to be as candid as you wish. which I dislike having to do. I am afraid you are all doomed to disappointment. I apologise for my lack of originality. I have come merely to listen. A muted chorus of laughter greeted her and she looked round the Staff room with a puzzled air.

with their House or with the School. children are very conservative creatures and do not take kindly to change.’ mused Miss Wilson. as the Head digested Matron’s analysis of the situation. especially when it mean separation from friends. until Dr Russell decided that he had waited long enough and whisked her off to married life at the Sonnalpe. ‘It is certainly another big upheavel for the School within a very short space of tome.‘Well.’ continued Miss Edwards. the Middles and Seniors had been housed together in the main School building. ‘However. Now they are probably wondering where their allegience lies. the girls are very loyal to their School as entity. Don’t forget that. for she was wrestling with some ideas for minor changes. I do feel that the School does not appear to be adapting to the new arrangements as rapidly as we had hoped. or Miss Bettany as she was then. aware that the other Mistresses were waiting for her to take the lead. had been in charge of the School for its first two years. two years before. Hilda. it is early days. are you suggesting. Matron Lloyd entered the argument in her characteristically pragmatic way. Besides. ‘Of course not. on the whole. At this juncture. the need for an extra chalet had . ‘If that is the case. The girls were quite naturally happy to be with their own peers. for the girls simply went from one House to another as they progressed through the School. We were not splitting up age groups. Mrs Russell. It’s only last term that the St Scholastika pupils joined us. but from this very modest beginning the School had expanded quickly as its reputation grew.’ began Miss Wilson cautiously.’ remarked Miss Stewart. yet. Middle and Junior houses it didn’t have such an impact. having resigned herself to another late night. ‘Not at all! But I do believe it will take a long time for the girls to get used to it. the much-respected Mademoiselle Lepâttre. although the Juniors were always housed separately in Le Petit Chalet. ‘The School was too small. we coped then and I expect we will cope now. Their contribution were invaluable. ‘And we have never had that before in the history of the School.’ agreed Miss Stewart. the Chalet School had been small indeed. There is an atmosphere of unease at present that is clearly discernible. on its very first day of existence the total number of pupils stood at nine. but she needed to hear the unvarnished truth about the new arrangement before she tackled Mrs Russell on the matter. There was no particular sense of permanence.’ ‘Yes.’ ******************** At the outset. but by and large the overall feeling is that it will take some time for the girls to get used to it. we didn’t even have Houses. By then the School had established itself as an institution of some standing. however.’ Matron’s observations were always of value and Miss Annersley was interested to hear more. Matron. and Madge Russell had been happy to leave it in the capable hands of der deputy. that the new House system is less than satisfactory?’ she asked. For much of the early years.’ ‘I woudln’t say that everyone is unhappy with the new regime. ‘However. ‘When we divided the School up into Senior.’ Miss Annersley remained silent as she listened to her Staff debating the pros and cons of the new situation. I see what you are getting at.’ Miss Norman took up the discussion. Matron.’ ‘In the beginning. as you say.

indeed! Ivy has always been a great favourite with the little ones. she will be expected to play a prominent rrole in St Agnes’ in the coming year. and furthermore.’ ‘Maybe. housed the Seniors. then it is more than likely that she feels embarrassed about her behaviour towards you. but it doesn’t compensate for my feebleness in dealing with the older girls. I got the impression that they really miss you.’ said Miss Soames. ‘Do you really think so?’ ‘Yes. I will.’ said Miss Annersley with decision. ‘Good! Now to return to the main discussion. ‘Joyce has grown up a lot since her first two terms here. St Clare’s. whose cruel ragging had humiliated her and undermined her authority so comprehensively. ‘Yes. named after Ste Thérèse. If she is keeping out of your way deliberately. It’s one of her strengths as I have told her many times.’ She paused. Mademoiselle Lepâttre had overseen these new changes but sadly illness had forced her to retire soon after. I am confident that she will cause you no more trouble. a decision had been made to divide the pupils into age groups.’ said Miss Norman. I’m sure it would encourage her to know that you have confidence in her. Ivy! As I have told you before more than once. leaving Miss Annersley as Head Mistress to put in place the latest scheme. I rather think she may be trying to avoid me. please try to forget about it. became the Middles’ House. I admit. I had to explain to them that it wasn’t possible to swap Houses. it would put that nasty little affari to rest once and for all. Miss Annersley read the look on her face with concern. Hence the new building. forcing a laugh. as Miss Annersley nodded in agreement. Ivy.’ ‘It’s a little difficult considering Joyce Linton is in St Agnes’. I urge you to give it a try. more than anything else. ‘Did you ask them why they wanted to go to St Agnes’? Did they have friends there?’ ‘They were very reluctant to give me a reason. I do. ‘But if I may offer some advice. ‘Of course.’ Miss Norman looked sceptical. They wanted you back as their House Mistress. After all. on the completion of the new building. but finally I got it out of them. for I have not had occasion to converse with her. In fact. Ivy.’ Miss Norman replied quietly.’ This statement aroused Miss Annersley’s curiousity and she interrupted proceedings with a question. It would take more than the friendly advice of her Head Mistress to make her confront her nemesis. Has anyone else requested to be moved?’ .become imperative and.’ But Miss Norman’s expression betrayed her attempt at a positive response. ‘Really. ‘There you are then. but decided that she had said enough for the present and let it pass. ******************** ‘I have had several tearful Juniors asking if they could join St Agnes’. at least not at any great length.’ Miss Norman blushed violently at this tribute. Le Petit Chalet turned into St Agnes’ and the main Chalet. I must say that you do seem to have a way with youngsters. ‘You’re not still worrying about that old episode?’ asked Miss Annersley sharply. Joyce Linton. I would seek Joyce out before long and ket her know that you bear no animosity. It would be for the best. Hilda. Joyce is a Sixth Former and a Dormitory Prefect. Also.’ replied Miss Norman.’ ‘Very well. ‘And has she been any trouble to you?’ ‘Not as yet. I’m quite sure.

Miss Elliot cleared her throat. and they spend most evenings in their Houses too.’ ‘The two Barbour sisters came to me and begged to be allowed to be together in St Clare’s.’ answered Miss Wilson. it might be a good idea if you were to have a quick word with your Middles. we have had an escape bid. but unless a genuine crisis occurs we must be prepared to adhere to our new rules. ‘However.’ said Miss Annersley. Miss Wilson looked at Miss Annersley. ‘From what you are saying.’ Miss Annersely deliberated for a few moments before replying.’ ‘Quite correct.’ Miss Stewart nodded. I gather it would help to smooth matters if we allowed the girls more time to mix freely. her second in command.’ chimed in Miss Elliot. Con. no one is going to be moved simply to be with a friend. ’Of course! I fully intended to do that anyway.’ said Miss Norman somewhat diffidently. ‘I have heard many of the girls complaining that they have few opportunities in the day to talk to their Form-mates in other Houses. Just keep an eye on Faith and Mercy. they did not get very far for they ran into me! I do not think they will try again for a while. too.‘Yes. I know it appears that we are being heartless. But I agree that we could assuage much of the discord by acting now. ‘I think that is part of the trouble. Alixe von Elsen. ‘We have had an instance of Middles attempting to sneak away to meet their friends in the evening.’ she added sweetly. I realise that if we cave in and let one set of sisters be together then we would be setting a precedent and who knows where it might end. Emmie Linders and Enid Sothern. one of the potential drawbacks of the House system is that it could create a series of mini-schools within the School. I’m afraid. Hilda. I trust that we shall not have any more pranks of that type. Head of St Scholastika’s.’ added Matron confidently.’ agreed Miss Norman. I nearly agreed to talk to you about them. and see how they cope apart. Dollie! All the same. I think we can take it as read that they sorted them out satisfactorily. However. But with winter coming soon. though.’ ‘I’ve had two. looking discomfited at the suggestion. Actually I felt rather sorry for them. main meals and Kaffee und Kuchen.’ ‘Once they get over the shock of separation I expect both girls will learn to be self-reliant. after a muttered discussion with Miss Edwards.’ announced Miss Stewart. but Mercy is in St Scholastika’s.’ said Miss Edwards.’ reported Miss Soame. Of course.’ Most of the Mistresses nodded in agreement.’ .’ replied Miss Edwards. the last thing girls should be doing is breaking out. ‘Really?’ Miss Annersley was looking worried now. Ivy?’ Miss Norman turned to Miss Edwards for the answer. ‘Who were the culprits. ‘Very possibly. they return to their respective Houses for elevenses. ‘I’m very glad to hear that.’ ‘Very well. In the long run it will be good for them. ‘We have Faith. ‘I might have know! Have you dealt with them?’ ‘The Prefects caught them at it. who seemed to be better informed on the subject than Miss Norman.’ ‘Hilda. There may be other occasions when we can keep the Forms together. ‘But I told them that the rules were clear. They are both so shy. The Forms only come together for lessons and walks now. I think we will reorganise elevenses and Kaffee und Kuchen so that everyone takes it over in Ste Thérèse’s. ‘The usual suspects. We do not want that to happen. ‘Three girls have asked if they could swap to be with their friends. ‘It is a serious matter at the best of time.

’ said Miss Soames.’ Relieved that the discussion had produced an apparently satisfactory solution. ‘I am pleased to see that Gillian Linton is settling in well as Head Girl. She seems to have everything pretty much under control. ‘It cannot have been very easy for girls of sixteen and seventeen to find themselves uprooted and facing the prospect of becoming new girls in a strange school all over again. but so far she has seemed very subdued. ‘Whether or not her good behaviour will last remains to be seen. which is a blessing.’ declare Matron Lloyd.’ agreed Matron Rider. I can’t help feeling that it is too soon for her to become a reformed character.‘I think that is a fair and sensible proposal. I have been expecting young Maria Balbani to cause a few ripples. In addition. In one way.’ replied Miss Annersley seriously.’ stated Miss Stewart. ‘All in all. noting that thus far. it doesn’t surprise me that Maria is subdued. thank you. for she is doing a good job keeping order. undoubtedly it is an improvement to have a Prefect in charge of each House. who as Matron of St Scholastika’s School had watched over her ever since her Junior Middle days. we have profited enormously from the acquisition of St Scholastika’s. I would almost like to hear that she is getting into a spot of . ‘Princess Balbani’s death was a terrible shock to the child. and don’t forget Hilary Burn is poised to take over the position of Head Girl next term. ‘Nancy Wilmot is certainly a strong character. Miss Annersely changed the subject. ‘How do you feel about them?’ ‘Oh.’ put in Miss Denny. ‘The School will see and appreciate that we are prepared to be flexible where we consider it practicable. ‘Oh. yet she is a friendly soul and not especially intimidating. all right. ‘Yes. and the new House Prefect posts are proving to be of great benefit. I applaud them for the speed with which they have adapted to our traditions.’ ‘I think you will find that Maria has changed for the better. ‘Talking of troublemakers. The senior appointments reflect our recognition of their contribution to our School. in addition to separation from Mario. ‘And how are you getting on with Irene Silksworth. Taking that into account. not naming any names!’ laughed Miss Wilson. they are a great asset to the School. we have the Head Girl in residence. n’estce pas?’ observed Mademoiselle Lachenais to no one in particular.’ laughed Miss Soames.’ agreed Miss Wilson. Nancy is very jolly.’ ‘Yes! They have more than pulled their wieght.’ agreed the Head to the delight of the ex-St Scholastika mistresses in the room.’ Yes. Giovanna Donati is doing a splendid jod in St Clare’s.’ replied Miss Norman quickly.’ ‘With one or two notable exceptions.’ ‘And the Seniors all get on very well. as far as I can judge from Ida’s contribution to Ste Thérèse’s. ‘Undoubtedly. Miss Norman had been silent on the subject. We are fortunate to have inherited them. of course. That child led us all such a merry dance last term. Certainly I have not detected any signs of resentment among our old girls a propos their swift advancement. ‘It is particularly advantageous that we have chosen four strong characters who are setting the standard for the future. Ivy?’ enquired the Head. ‘It is interesting that three of the House Prefects are from St Scholastika’s. ‘Not to mention well built! I think the younger ones in St Scholastika’s are overawed by her sheer site.’ she commented.

goodnight ladies! Pleasant dreams! . Mario. I know I can count on your co-operation. we are prepared to be flexible and make improvements. Now. Hilda.bother once more. is no longer beside her. I imagine that it is in her best interest to be inconspicious for a few terms. ‘They made perfect little nuisances of themselves and had a lovely time at the School’s expense. or at least until the School has forgotten her past sins. to put it mildly. egging her on. please come to me and we will tackle it together.’ ‘You are right. ‘It is getting very late! Thank you all for your comments. that young monkey of a twin brother. If anyone comes across a new problem. Apart from anything.’ nodded Matron Lloyd.’ said Miss Nalder with a grin. as Matron says. Miss Annersley looked at her watch and got up to leave.’ ‘And don’t forget that the Mystic M declared war on us last term. She is too young to be burdened with sorrow and remorse of that kind. I believe that the new House system will work out if.’ Noticing Miss Norman unsuccessfully attempting to stifle a yawn. Our girls did not take very kindly to Maria. ‘And I agree that Maria has turned over a new leaf.

Although she was happy for forgo the lengthy trek. Do we have to start saving for a wedding present?’ . Miss Annersley missed the opportunities walking afforded to stop and admire the breathtaking alpine views. handing over a plateful of bread twists.’ And she related the story of the discovery of the cave to Miss Annersley.’ ‘Thank you.’ ‘Sounds most intriguing! Oh. Madge Russell. for driving on the hazardous road took all of her concentration and she was unable to gaze around. ‘Heaven knows. what is it called? I haven’t heard a thing about this one. she is going to need to have her wits about her soon. but she displayed plenty of common sense as Head Girl. by any chance?’ laughed the authoress’ former English Mistress.Chapter VIII Enter Joey Miss Annersley duly travelled up to the Sonnalpe the following morning. Since the completion of the coast road. ‘After all.’ replied Madge. ‘She has got some exciting news for the School. Jo has had enough adventures in this part of the world to fill several books. it was possible to get there by car in rather less than an hour. ‘Jo has gone to Innsbruck for a few days to stay with Frieda. ‘That’s Jo for you!’ she exclaimed with amusement. I won’t press you! Just tell me this.’ ‘I wouldn’t say that. however. As she pulled up outside Die Rosen. They were going to visit their mother at the San and Miss Annersley dropped them off in front of the imposing building before driving round to Die Rosen.’ ‘Oh. You will hear soon enough when her ladyship returns from Innsbruck. Formerly.’ chuckled her sister.’ ‘Well. looking no older now than when she was Head Mistress. I have to confess that I am! It must be the mountain air! We haven’t seen anything of Joey yet. ‘Help yourself! You must be hungry after your journey. taking the best part of three hours. the journey up to the Sonnalpe had to be undertaken on foot. Has she forsaken us?’ ‘Is it likely? She has been very busy checking the proofs of her new book. her very latest adventure is the real cause of her non-appearance at the School. but it doesn’t seem to have done any good. before getting down to business. She said she will call in at the School on the way back and make the announcement herself. Madge shook her head helplessly.’ ‘Tessa in Tyrol. Hilda.’ declared Madge. ‘In fact to be honest. most of it at a steady ascent. I have done my best to instil a modicum of common sense into her head.’ ‘Not authobiographical. taking with her Gillian and Joyce Linton. ‘Is Jo not joining us for coffee? asked Miss Annersley as she made herself comfortable. It’s about an English girl who has an adventurous time in Tyrol. who roared with laughter at Madge’s description of Jo and Robin on their return to the house.’ ‘I shouldn’t be at all surprised. Jo has her moments of irresponsibility I know. But I can’t say more because Jo made me promise not to tell. appeared at the door to welcome her and they went into the pretty salon where elevenses awaited them.

‘Dr di Bersetti was an excellent young doctor.’ Madge wiped the tears of laughter from her eyes. . ‘It’s all very well. No wonder she is feeling exasperated.’ Madge detected a gleam of amusement in the Head’s eyes. but she is still very much a child in many ways. But that young man refuses to take the hint. either that or he ignores it. Hilda. I have been present on occasion and have heard some of her bruising remarks.’ Dr di Bersetti. and is particularly upset that she has not been able to put off Dr Hunter. He arrived last spring as a replacement for Dr di Bersetti.’ Hilda Annerlsey threw up her hands in dismay. several times. can’t Jem have a quiet word with him?’ ‘He has.’ ‘Poor Jo!.’ ‘Yes. she looks over her shoulder to make sure Dr Hunter is not around. ‘You don’t know how near the truth you were. ‘Who? I don’t think I I have heard of him. Jo would not wish it to be common knowledge. a young doctor at the Santorium. but I can teel you that Jo can’t see the funny side of it. But. And that gets Jo’s goat even more. stop the hilarity and tell me how I can be totally wrong and at the same time nearly correct. she added. She may have left School over a year ago. Hilda. I am sure of that. indeed! This Dr Hunter. Miss Annersley’s face clouded over as she recalled how Bette was facing up to her terrible sorrow with fortitude and taking on the task of rearing their two small children alone. although I am certain some of them must be aware of the situation. a former Head Girl of the School. he keeps on trying. left behind a young wife. Every time she goes out now. We miss him greatly. ‘Do I take it then. Has she said anything?’ ‘Oh. She’s convinced that he is only chasing her because she is Jem’s sister-in-law.’ ‘Perhaps this episode will force her to grow up. But as Madge was talking again.’ suggested Miss Annersley. let us say he is persistent!’ replied Madge cautiously.’ before succumbing to another fit of mirth. Madge. yes.’ Miss Annersley was startled. Hilda. on numerous occasions! Mostly unrepeatable. Madge. ‘And what does Jo think about him.’ said Miss Annersley with a sympathetic smile. Jo has an admirer in the shape of young Dr Hunter. But. self-seeking young man. he doesn’t appear to notice. Jo calls him ‘Fortune Hunter’. who was tragically killed the previous January in the climbing accident which also claimed the life of Robin’s father. ‘Oh. that the attraction is not mutual?’ ‘Correct! Jo treats him with barely concealed contempt and considers him to be the very worst type of arrogant. I should add!’ It was Miss Annersley’s turn to laugh out loud.’ ‘If that is the case.’ Then as she calmed down. ‘Madge! As if I should gossip! I thought you knew me better than that. I don’t suppose you have. and I’m beginning to think she may have a valid point. ‘What do you mean? For goodness’ sake. She is very fed up with him. Captain Humphries. Jem is most reluctant to take further action because his work cannot be faulted.’ she laughed. is he serious about Jo?’ ‘Well. Hilda.’ ‘No. She hasn’t even confided in her friends up here. No matter what she says to him. and believe me.Madge stared at her for a couple of seconds and then went into peals of laughter. the Head herself out of her reverie. ‘We may think it comical. yes. ‘Don’t let this get any further. ‘That is an understanding! She is finding the Sonnalpe a very cramped place at present. Hilda! Not at all. please don’t say a word about it to anyone.

‘It’s good to be back. I spent far too many of my formative years here in Ste Thérèse’s ever to forget it. everyone!’ she cried. despite her genuine pleasure at seeing her daughters again. the excited girls melted away and Joey was left alone with her hostess. ‘Bonjour Jo!’ ‘Guten Tag!’ ‘Joey!’ Where on earth have you been all this time?’ ‘What were you thinking of to abandon us for so long? Had you forgotten us?’ Jo laughed and held up her hand for silence.’ ‘Joey!’ called a voice. Miss Annersley wanted to know if Gillian and Joyce had been told of their mother’s setback. Gillian was rather shaken by the lack of colour in her mother’s face and the apparent weariness in her voice. Gillian and Joyce were not to know that she had spoken to Dr Jem and that he had intimated his concern for Mrs Linton’s health. ‘Hello. ‘Come and join us for Mittagessen. She was not responding to the usual treatment as quickly as he had hoped. though at least she had the sense not to worry her mother with her own troubles. She had enjoyed weekend with Frieda in Innsbruck. though he refrained from mentioning that his medical instincts told him she had few reserves of strength left. she found herself immediately mobbed by a large crowd of girls all talking at once. and as for forgetting the School. Slipping into the School. On the other hand.’ responded madge. Nevertheless. she could read in the anxious look on the elder girl’s face that she could see for herself that her mother’s health was declining. causing great excitement in the process. than her own thoughtfulness. However. that had more to do with Gillian’s hurried warning as they sped through the foyer of the San. for which her Head Mistress was grateful. Miss Annersley called in for a short chat and then they departed. You never know. ******************** As promised. Those two hours seemed long enough for Mrs Linton and she made no attempt to keep them any longer when the time came for them to say goodbye.‘Possibly. if I live to be a hundred. it was a troubled Miss Annersley who bade the two girls say their farewells to their mother. Why have I taken so long to come and see you? Simply because I thought you could manage perfectly well without me for a few weeks. Joey Bettany turned up at the School in time for Mittagessen on the Monday morning. They motored back to School mainly in silence. Joyce noticed nothing untoward and chattered away. and as a result was feeling relaxed and ready to field the inevitable questions regarding her absence from School thus far. . we had better get down to business. Joyce did not appear to be unduly bothered. Hilda. Gillian and Joyce were also telling their mother all about the new term. They were to spend only two hours with Mrs Linton before returning to Schol with Miss Annersley.’ ******************** While the two ladies discussed the latest happenings at the School. Dr Russell told her he hoped that Mrs Linton would pull up as she had done on previous occasions. and by the look of think you have! I certainly had no intention of abandoning you all. if you have finished your coffee. ‘Now. and consequently he did not deem it necessary to worry the girls. From her fleeting observation at the bedside. The rest of you had better scram or you will be late and then there will be trouble!’ With that caveat ringing in their ears.

though in the end the success of your tenure as Head Girl will depend on your own personality and what you bring to it more than anything else. ‘Well. ‘Very well. ‘Gillian is one of the most considerate girls I know.’ Jo grinned round at her audience teasingly. ‘Don’t keep us in suspence. suddenly remembering that Mittagessen was about to be served. that! But it’s not till next term.. all right then. Dick worked in the Forestry Department in India and it was there the he had met and married Mollie Avery.. despite the fact that she had left the School more than a year before. You have been working too hard at your book. You have all the qualities of leadership to do a fine job. more or less.’ Jo nodded. I. with the unmistakeable countenance of one who knew she was about to cause a sensation. twins Peggy and Rix. grabbed Jo by the arm and marched her off to the Splasheries and thence tot he Speisesaal. Gill is being a real brick and giving me lots of advice. Jo. It had been with Jo in mind that she had decided to start a school in Tyrol. I don’t mean to frighten you. She still felt powerless to argue with the small tyrant. Some of us have work to do shortly. All the while. she took charge.’ demanded Matron Lloyd as she pulled her erstwhile charge towards the window. ‘We haven’t got all day. When all was quiet. You learn what you can from her. Joey.’ ‘Thanks. In the meantime. Jo. It’s time you had a holiday. for Jo was an entertaining guest and they felt rather envious to be left out of the fun. ‘Oh. Jo.’ ‘Actually.’ ‘Oh. satisfied that her bombshell has elicited the desired response.’ Joey smiled.‘Hello. ‘It’s a fearful responsibility when you put it like that. that is we. Hilary. Jo meekly did as she was told. for she was a sickly child and Madge hoped that the bracing alpine climate would improve her health. leaving the twelve-year old twins and Joey.’ Hilary blushed. how are you? Come into the light and let me see you. Their four elder chidlren. then. A place was made for the special visitor at the Sixth Form table and Jo spent a joyful half-hour exchanging news with her neighbours. are going to. and Bridget and Jackie resided . ‘Now. from the day the baby arrived back in England from India where she had been born.India’ ‘What!’ When?’ The Staff room exploded with a series of exclamations.’ replied Joey.’ said Miss Wilson impatiently. referring her sister-in-law. Their parents had died within a short time of each other. It was left to Miss Annersley to clap her hands loudly in an effect to restore order. After the end of the meal Miss Annersley ushered her to the Staff room where she was greeted warmly by the Mistresses. Hilary. as you are so keen to know. ‘Hmm. she added. It was my brother’s idea originally.’ she murmured. I have no doubt whatsoever. Bill. Suppose you start at the beginning and give us the whole story.’ Hilary thought for a few moments and then nodded. the youngest daughter of his chief. Dick Bettany was Madge Russell’s twin and they were twelve years older than Jo.’ ‘Oh. the rest of the girls not privy their chatter strained their ears to hear some snippets of conversation. Marton that is exactly what I am going to. an infant. And Mollie’s’. I see. Don’t forget that the authorities wouldn’t have chosen you if they thought otherwise. Madge had brought Joey up herself. Hilary! How are you? By the way. while the School settled down to half an hour’s rest. congratulations on your imminent appointment. thankfully. ‘Excellent! Where is it this time? Belsornia again?’ ‘Not exactly.

are going to accompany us. They are in Ireland at preent for Mr Avery’s furlough. At least.’ answered Jo. They had planned to visit the Sonnalpe to see their other grandchildren a month ago. ‘I wasn’t so sure that I wanted to travel halfway around the world on my own. I had no excuse to turn it down this time and both she and Jem think it is the perfect opportunity for me to visit the sub-Continent. Thus it was to the place of her birth that Jo was at last going to return. but one of the Irish children went down with a case of mumps and it had to be cancelled. I am going to have a rest and delay the third one for a few months. ‘Don’t worry. and I still can’t really believe it.’ ‘A wonderful experience for you and Robin. Mr and Mrs Avery. the geographer. ‘The second week of October.’ ‘Very sensible. ever since I left School. But I couldn’t go straight away because I wanted to write my first book and get it off my hands. In the end we decided to go by train from Innsbruck to the South of France and board the ship from there. Matey. That’s why I feel a bit washed out. No. Now it’s out of the way. we made the decision a few weeks ago and Jem immediately got on to his man who does all his travel arrangements and asked him to plan various routes for us to consider. if we were to be let loose on our own. ‘No chance of that.’ replied Jo. of course. they will already be on board the ship and we will meet them when we board at Marsailles. We shall be sailing through the Suez Canal.’ ‘You said we are going on holiday. Dick’s letter arrived that day with the usual invitation tacked onto the end of it and Madge suggested that I should seriously think about it. ‘Surely Madame is not allowing the two of you to travel all the way to India by yourselves?’ asked Matron suddenly. He has some business to attend to there. But I never dreamt that Robin would be permitted to come too.’ interrupted Miss Wilson. ‘You see. Well. and on to India.’ chided Miss Annersley.’ She turned to ‘Matey’.’ said Jo. ‘It doesn’t give you much time to organise thinkgs. her black eyes shining with happiness. I have been working all hours to get it to the publisher before the end of the month. ‘It would have been foolish in the extreme to do otherwise. ‘Who is to be your companion?’ ‘This is the best of it. which was considered to have a healthier climate than India. Jem has put his foot down and has forbidden me to write another word until I have had a good long holiday.’ ‘But when are you leaving. Isn’t that simply golloptious?’ ‘Jo! Your language. but Jem has come up trumps and has agreed to let Robin come with me. though inwardly she was highly amused and pleased for the girl. and has very kindly delayed his trip until our departure.’ commented Matron.with their Aunt Madge at the Sonnalpse. Miss Annersley.’ ‘Actually. approvingly. ‘I’m sorry. ‘The whole of the cool season. . thank goodness!’ returned Jo.’ said Miss Wilson.’ ‘You will be in India for how long?’ Miss Wilson wanted to know. and then I started on my second and had to finish it before I could think about anything else. my sister-in-law’s parents. That was when the idea of India came up. ‘What. ma petit?’ enquired Mademoiselle Lachenais. so soon?’ cried Miss Stewart.’ Jo grimaced. ‘Though it certainly would be an adventure. Dick has been asking me to go out to India for some time. Herr Marani has offered to travel with us as far as Marseilles.

‘Not half as much as I shall miss you all. ‘and of course we shall be seeing the babies for the first time too. That young man. Eventually she calmed down. however his Aunt Madge intervened in time to prevent a full-blown argument and persauded him to contribute to the project. it might give me some new insight into their lives. Kind-hearted Jo had tried to help matters by suggesting that Peggy and Rix and Bride might like to make some presents for her to take to the babies. Although still disappointed not to be seeing them herself. isn’t it?’ agreed Jo. ‘You haven’t seen the last of us yet!’ A car had been despatched to collect Jo and take her back to the Sonnalpe. Peggy.’ said Jo casaully. we shall be home by the middle of March. ‘Two sea voyages and what. but before it arrived. I think it would be interesting to see where they lived. I have no doubt. Gillian was delighted to see her old friend and after they had exchanged pleasantires and joked about Jo’s newly healed cheek. over three months on dry land. a ship and a rugger ball. ‘I don’t know how you can say that. they turned to School affairs. Peggy had contented herself with making lots of little presents and drawings for her baby brother and sister and had insisted that Rix did the same.’ ‘Yes. which he though would look well on the nursey walls.’ ‘Yes. Joey’s news caused them to reflect on the exciting few months ahead and they queued up to wish her good luck. she promised to write to Peggy and regular intervals and take photographs of the twins from every angle. before adding excitedly. she was able to snatch a few minutes with Gillian. it’s not going to be very long.‘Mon Dieu! We shall not see you for such a long time.’ She paused for a second. .’ replied Jo. yearned to see her youngest brother and sister and had solemnly requested her Uncle Jem to book her passge on the next ship to India. My parents lived and died there. Maurice and Maeve had caused quite a sensation. rather less enamoured with the new additions to the family. said Miss Stewart. once more she had pleaded to be allowed to go too.’ exlaimed Mademoiselle. but when Jo’s trip was first mooted. ‘And Dick and Mollie will be there to make sure you don’t have time to be homesick. I have strict instructions from Peggy to write to her immediately with a full description!’ A second set of Bettany twins had arrived the previous April. had declined to cooperate.’ said Mademoiselle warmly.’ ‘Well!’ commented Miss Annersley.’ said Miss Annersley quickly. ‘This is all a great surprise. to everybody’s great delight. she felt that she should be there to help her mother look after the babies and had been genuinely upset when her demand was refused.’ ‘It’ll go fast enought. ‘We shall miss you.’ replied Jo. After prolonged consideration he settled down to produce paintings of a motorcar. I ought to visit the land of my birth at least once in my life. ‘Rob and I will come down before we leave to say our goodbyes properly. Madge has always been the closest thing I have had to a mother and I have to admit that I have never really thought about them very much. the bell rang for the first lesson of the afternoon and they made ready to disperse. ‘This visit might help me to know them better.’ said the would-be traveller easily. Furthermore. you know. I’ll wager. ‘After all. ‘But as Dick says. As Jo finished explaining all this to the amused company. Jo’. a motherly little person of nearly five years. who was free for the first lesson. As the eldest daughter. The Staff nodded sympathetically.’ laughed Jo. not least amongst their elder siblings at the Sonnalpe. add up to a fair time away. ‘Oh. ‘You and Robin will have a splendid time.’ she added quietly.

‘It’s not the end of the world. Don’t worry about me.’ replied Jo empathically. You see. ‘It was Jo’s turn to look concerned. Gill. ‘But I have some news for you. She put her hand on Gillian’s shoulder. That is. you didn’t write the School rules. and that I can ask you for your advice. ‘They never do!’ ‘Well. ‘I’m sorry Gill. No one will blame you for this term. Gillian nodded.’ laughed Gillian.’ ‘No. ‘If you really do feel you need advice. Jo. JO could quite imagine the rebuff Gillian might recive if Grizel was not in the mood to offer support and she had no intention of subjecting the Head Girl to that risk. I am just glad that you are back in circulation.’ Gillian stared. unable to hide her dismay. I know that. trying to make light of it. ‘But you have handled it all well and that’s the best you can do.‘It’s been a bit rocky. I’m sure everyone will calm down before long. Jo. But I did so hope that things would settle down sooner than this. ‘After all Gill. Grizel Cochrane. . I’m sorry to be such a wet blanket. Grizel’s character was too frequently lacking in compassion.’ she added with feelings.’ Jo omitted to mention another old Head Girl living at the Sonnalpe. And you know them well enough to ask for help. I hope you and Robin have a wonderful time in India. I’ll be fine. you are doing an excellent job. ‘You are right. or Juliet or even Bette. ‘Oh no!’ she gasped.’ groaned Gillian. Robin and I are going away soon and we shan’t be back until next March. to say the least. everyone except the Middles.’ ‘I never doubted it for one minute. Don’t worry too much about it.’ ‘From what I hear.’ said Jo.’ she said gently. there is always Gisela. not to say downright selfish. They understand only too well what is it like to be Head Girl.’ replied Jo sympathetically. we are going to India. Though she had been a competent Head Girl.

but the respite gave hope to those in authority that at last the School was ready to settle down and accept the new system. She felt a little ashamed at her initial reaction to Jo’s news. but instead she spent much of the time thinking over what Jo had told her. She sighed and looked at the blank sheet of paper in front of her. which had been absent since the first day of term. Although Gillian had not needed to consult Joey about any problems so far. however. ‘Good morning. and thereby contributing to the annals of the School. Although she tried hard. but no one dared to comment out loud. Miss Wilson prided herself on the high quality of science teaching the girls received. in a very few days. Jo would no longer be around. Miss Wilson felt confident that the Seniors were old enough to heed the safety aspects of laboratory work.Chapter IX A Chemistry Test News of Joey’s trip to India spread through the School with lightening speed and before the end of the afternoon everyone had heard of it. Even Evadne Lannis. and considered it to be equal to any of the best girls’ schools in England. She eyed a row of test tubes apprehensively. The star of the two Sixth was undoubtedly Luise Rotheim. ‘Bill’ might be great fun and a jolly good sport out of School. Now Gillian had to get used to the fact that. The girls could talk of nothing else at Kaffee und Kuchen and at Abendessen. and the lab. As she looked at the test apparatus in front of her. She habitually came top in science subjects and had long harboured an ambition to study chemistry at University before taking up a teaching post. as it would serve as a useful revision test for those who had already done the work in the previous year. The atmosphere of despondency had been lifted. Accordingly. having been drilled thoroughly since their Middle days. Luise could envisage the experiements she would shortly be attempting and a surge of excitement rose within her. Not so Cornelia Flower. but she was a strict disciplinarian during school hours and no pupil had ever got the better of her. So the Seniors rapidly arranged themselves around the benches and sat down on the tall laboratory stools to await further instructions. You will be pleased to know that I have set a test for you.’ More than one girl groaned privately at the prospect. Cautious though she was when allowing younger girls to undertake experiments in the laboratory. she looked forward to the two-hour session for which she had devised a demanding series of experiments guaranteed to test the girls’ practical and analytical abilities. if only temporarily. which had come as a complete shock to her. and the Staff noted with a sense of relief that there was a buzz of excitement in the air. was a reformed character these days who could be trusted to keep to the rules. After break. it had been comforting to know that she was close by if an emergency arose. Ostensibly. who had distinguished herself as a Fourth Former by nearly blowing up herself. She was just finishing off the preparations when the beel rang and soon after the girls trooped in. those Sixth Formers who took science found themselves facing a practical chemistry test. There was only a quarter of an hour to go and she had not written a thing. chemistry remained a mystery to her . The two Sixths were to sit it together. for it had pleased Miss Wilson to set on in order to see how much the girls had learnt thus far. Please go to your places. girls. Gillainw as engaged in writing an essay during the first lesson next morning.

Hilary. Cornelia! Look at the base of the flask. Then. But I bet she’ll wait until I’m in a real mess. the Science Mistress could hardly believe her eyes. with the inevitable result that all the liquid had drained out onto the floor causing Miss Wilson to slide unceremoniously in the middle of it. she commanded them to begin the test and settled herself to scrutinise the girls’ work. Miss Wilson. would need to be watched. putting her head around the door of the cupboard to survey the room. When she was satisfied that the girls had donned their overalls and were ready. Still. Miss Wilson. and Gillian. Cornelia examined the flask. where I found it. Miss Wilson’s first thought was that Cornelia had swallowed the contents of the flask and she sprang towards the hapless girl. Miss Wilson’s feet went from under her and she landed on her back. ruefully rubbing her poor. The others.’ . did indeed notice Cornelia. bruised back. ‘If only Bill would come by now and see how well I am doing this. ‘Don’t you realise that the flask is empty?’ Cornelia stopped siphoning immediately and looked at the flask with puzzlement. she vowed to do her best and was grimly determined to complete all the tasks this time. which had been filled with a solution of sodium carbonate and plunged a pipette into it. just as she reached Corney. In her mouth was one end of the pipette and she clutched the flask firmly in her hands. It was obvious that poor Corney was completely unaware of her clumsy mistake for still she persisted in trying to draw liquid up the pipette. Cornelia. with my foot unfortunately. Already she was falling behind her neighbour. here goes!’ Alas. who was not exactly famed for being scientifically inclined. As the rest of the class uttered exclamations of horror and raced over to help her to her feet. sliding almost underneath the bench. I am most awfully sorry. ‘Oh. She would require little observation. ‘At least I can do this part correctly. as she prepared to siphon the liquid up the tube. Before long Cornelia was getting in a flap. ‘Bill’ noted approvingly. ‘Where has it gone? It was there before. In fact. Oh well. ‘For goodness sake. Stacies and Jeanne were neat and methodical workers who rarely gave any cause for concern. I say. Gee. but she judged that it would be feasible to tidy up the big cupboard in between times and she turned to collect some unused flasks from the bench beside the door. Over to her left. In an effort to hurry things along. she knew. The solution poured onto the floor. disaster struck. for Cornelia. Miss Wilson read out the experiments to be undertaken and the girls copied them down. I haven’t swallowed it have I?’ ‘Don’t be silly.’ added Miss Wilson. she felt the urge to laugh despite the pain. Suzanne Mercier. It was at the very moment that ‘Bill’ discovered the source of her downfall.’ she exclaimed apologetically. but had actually knocked out a small round hole in the bottom of it.’ commanded Miss Wilson as she struggled to her feet again with the aid of willing hands. Dazedly wondering what on earth had happened. come what may. had not only plunged the pipette into the flask.’ she told herself encouragingly. You have punched a whole in it with the pipette. Corney grabbed her conical flask. Luise was expertly organising the apparatus for the first experiment. ‘I didn’t notice. Before she could stop herself. with dire consequences. for Cornelia had turned a shade of deep puce and her cheeks were drawn in so tithgly that she gave an uncanny imitation of a fish in a tank. as usual. ‘Bill’ looked up and saw to her astonishment that Corney was peering down at her with eyes as big as saucers while still sucking on the pipette as if her life depended on it. this time her wish came true. But. take that pipette out of your mouth. in her haste. glancing at her watch.and she invariably struggled to get all her practical experiments finished in the alotted time.

‘Didn’t you wonder why the pipette was not filling up, child?’ ‘Yes, but I thought I might have an...air lock, or something,’ replied the culprit. ‘It sometimes takes a while for the liquid to come up the toob and I didn’t want to stop sucking in case it fell back. Miss Wilson stared at the young American helplessly. ‘Cornelia, you will be the death of me one day.’ Then seeing that the girl was looking genuinely upset, she hastened to improve matters. ‘Well, let this be a lesson to you all. Remember to use all your senses in the laboratory and, above all, your common sense. Now, Cornelia, please wipe the floor. It is just as well that it is a hamrless solution this time.’ With blazing cheeks, Cornelia did as she was told while Miss Wilson limped off to fetch another conical flask and fill it with some more solution. Then she stood by and supervised Cornelia as she made another attempt to siphon the liquid, this time without mishap. ‘You see, Cornelia, you can do it quite correctly if you take care and don’t charge at it like a bull in a china shop,’ she said caustically. Thoroughly chastened, Cornelia thought miserably that things could only get better as she continued with the first experiment. However, the sight of their science Mistress disappearing under the bench had an unsettling effect on the class, and their concentration suffered badly from them on until the end of the tezt. Even Gillian, the steadiest and most sensible of students, managed inexplicably to wave the Bunsen burner over the top of her beaker, so igniting the heated gas and causing a very fetching effect, reminiscent of a Christmas Pudding flamed with brandy. ‘Really, Gillian! I’m surprised at you,’ snapped Miss Wilson, extinguishing the flames with an asbestos mat. ‘What possessed you to pick up the Bunsen burner at all?’ Gillian’s face matched the colour of Cornelia’s earlier as she offered an explantion. ‘I didn’t mean to lift it so high, Miss Wilson. I was just trying to remove it from under the beaker in order to begin the third experiment. I didn’t think it would set the gas on fire.’ ‘Obviously not,’ replied Miss Wilson dryly. ‘Please do not attempt to take short cuts. You know the drill; in future keep to the rules.’ ‘Yes, Miss Wilson,’ murmured Gillian, feeling quite humiliated. Hilary Burn was the next girl to come to grief. So far, she had been happily getting on with the test, quietly confident that she was going to run Luise a close second, for she enjoyed science. Then it started to go wrong. Setting up two burettes, in a moment of distraction, she had unwittingly filled them both with the same solution. Thereafter, her experiment fell apart and no matter how many times she repeated the titrations, she could not get the required result. Normally a placid girl, who rarely lost her temper, Hilary grew more and more annoyed with the experiment and when at last she gave it up as a bad job, she discovered she had wasted so much time she was unable to finish half the test and ended up in such a bad mood that she growled at anyone who came near her for the rest of the day. A little later, Evadne caused a minor stir by setting fire to the rubber tubing connected to the Bunsen byrner, but fortunately had the presence of mind to turn off the gas and put it out before Miss Wilson’s eagle eye caught sight of it. That lady’s nose twitched at the smell of burning rubber and she looked suspiciously around the lab, but luck was with Evadne for once, thanks to Maria Marani, who at the critical moment sent her set of test tubes crashing to the floor, thereby diverting the

attention of the Mistress. By the time they had been swept up, the burning rubber smell had dissipated. Despite all disturbances, Luise continued to work steadily through the experiments, writing each of them up accurately. She was just reading through her notes to check that she had left nothing out when Cornelia swung round from her bench in front to rinse out a test tube in the sink set in Luise’s bench. Luise smiled at her sympathetically, for she could see that Corney had not nearly finished the test and was looking very flustered. In spite of herself Luise couldn’t help feeling rather smug as she glanced down at her beautifully presented work. A second later, she was yelling at the top of her voice. A startled Miss Wilson looked up to see Luise holding up something that appeared to be a dripping flannel, but on closer inspection turned out to be her notes, while Cornelia stood as if transfixed with a look of abject horror on her face, gripping the top half of the tap in one hand as the water gushed everywhere out of the piece still attached to the sink. ‘Cornelia!’ was all that ‘Bill’ could get out before she tore to the bench and wrenched the broken-off half of the tap from Cornelia’s hand and rammed it back on to the lower half, so stemming the flow of water before it complete flooded the place. ‘My notes!’ wailed an utterly distraught Luise. ‘Look what you have done! You have ruined them, Cornelia. And my so lovely salt crystals too. They have dissolved in the water. You are a clumsy girl! Idiot! Dumkopf!’ Miss Wilson was unsure whether Luise was going to burst into tears or slap Cornelia, but she was not going to wait and see. She ordered Cornelia to mop up the flood and briskly told Luise to stop calling Cornelia names. ‘Really, Luise! I don’t expect you to behave like a baby at your age. Cornelia did not wrekc your work on purpose. Anyone can see that it was a complete accident.’ Her words struck home and Luise, who was on the verge of a good howl, thought better of it and fell silent. Cornelia, meanwhile, rashly assuming herself to have been exonerated of all guilt in the matter, relaxed and suddenly saw the funny side of it. Try as she might, she could not stop her ramrod of a jaw from quivering as she strove unsuccessfully to stifle her giggles. Miss Wilson, ever observant, spied the shaking shoulders and soon had Cornelia wishing that she had never got out of bed that morning. After that, Miss Wilson stalked up to the front of the class and commanded everyone to stop work and tidy up disregarding the fact that there was half an hour of the lesson remaining. When the lab was once more back to normal, ‘Bill’ then treated the Seniors to a short, sharp lecutre, the like of which they had not had for many a long day. Then she dismissed them and they all slunk out of the lab feeling very small and contrite. ‘Nell, is you old foot injury playing up again?’ enquired Miss Stewart anxiously as her friend hobbled into the Staff room at the end of the morning. ‘No. It’s not my foor, just a bit of stiffness in my back,’ replied Miss Wilson with a wry expression on her face. ‘Really? You didn’t mention it earlier.’ ‘I didn’t have it earlier. Oh, all right, if you really want to know and obviously you do, I fell flat on my back in the lab this morning.’ Gasps of dismay from all around the room greeted this statement. Naturally everyone wanted to know the fact of the calamity and so Miss Wilson was forced to relate the whole sorry episode. Exasperated though she had been with the Sixth Form, her description of Cornelia and Luise elicited roars of laughter from the Staff and ‘Bill’ too began to view the affair in a lighter vein.

‘All the same,’ she concluded, ‘they deserved a jolly good scolding. I don’t think I have ever had to deal with so many disasters in one lesson. And they were all the results of carelessness. I do not expect such sloppiness from Sixth Formers. ‘It was tough on poor Luise, nevertheless. After all, she was wholy innocent,’ commented Miss Norman. ‘True. However, she has to learn to control her temper when things conspire against her,’ said Miss Wilson austerely. ‘Surely the breaking of the tap was not Cornelia’s fault?’ Mademoiselle wanted to know. ‘It had been working perfectly. Unfortuntely, Cornelia does not realise her own strength. I have told her before not to wring the taps.’ ‘I wonder what caused the girls to be so careless?’ mused Miss Elliot. ‘If you ask me, it is all the excitement over Jo’s visit to India,’ observed Miss Stewart. ‘Four A were the limit this morning, all fidgety and inattentive. I don’t believe they took in a word of my lecture.’ ‘You may well be right. Certainly their minds were not in the chemistry lab,’ sighed Miss Wilson sadly. ‘What a waste of a perfectly good test!’

Bill must have been really annoyed with us. ‘Yes. and in no time they had become so wildly distorted that no one could identify the original sinners or their sins. though for different reasons. her actions should return to haunt her.’ ‘No.’ continued Hilary. As long as we manage to keep our heads during the next chemmy lesson. one Alixe von Elsen. I don’t expect that we will hear any more about it. Dejected. and no more was said. They still resented having been split up and did not trouble to hide their bitterness from the Prefects. so let us hope that will be the end of it. The wild stories died down. Not everyone was happy though. stopping at the dooe of the form-room where the Middles were supposed to be settling down to their preparation. wasn’t it? I must say. Gillian’s prophect about the chemistry test turned out to be accurate. Hilary. much to the relief of the Seniors. ‘For which we should be thankful. Those stories are so inaccurate that the best thing we could do would be to ignore them. whose only line of defence was that she couldn’t have known that the door was going to open at that precise moment.’ said Gillian. So far. Though that is about the only thing she left out of her lecture. ‘I don’t know what got into us all.Chapter X Jo and Robin Depart Despite the best efforts of the Sixth Formers to keep the embarrassing details of their disasterous chemistry test to themselves. she had not spoken more than a mumbled greeting or ‘goodnight’ to her House Mistress. without the constraints of the House system always separating them. not even the Fawn could have bettered it. No point in denying them. after all this time. ‘It’s not like Bill to hold a grudge. a few accounts began to circulate.’ Then. whereupon she smartly proceeded to administer justice to the luckless miscreant. ‘I don’t think I have ever been on the receiving end of a more scathing attack. whereas she had so coolly brazened it out the year . with a wave to Hilary she turned the handle of the door and walked into the form-room almost into the path of a paper dart as it whizzed past within an inch of her nose. either that or she was still suffering the effects of her fall. The term was progressing rather more smoothly now that the new rules concerning morning break and Kaffee und Kuchen had come into effect.’ ‘It was pretty grim. She felt awkward and embarrassed whenever she was in Miss Norman’s presence. Another unhappy girl was Joyce Linton. but even that was enough for Joyce to turn red with remorse. mainly because they were so preposterous that no one other the extremely gullible could believe them. Talk about a chapter of accidents!’ ‘Well. although they were careful not to play up in the presence of Gillian and Hilary. she wondered why.’ sighed Gillian as she and Hilary hurried to supervise prep two days later. principally Elizabeth Arnett and Betty Wynne-Davies and the rest of their coterie. we might have to admit the whole ghastly truth!’ Gillian suddenly giggled. at least Bull didn’t accuse us of trying to sabotage the test deliberately. The girls generally felt that they had gained greater freedom to mix with whomever they pleased. having learned from experience that retribution from that quarter would be swift. If we did.’ ‘We have all apologised.

with an amused look at Jeanne. but as she failed to do so.celebrate the fact?’ finished Jo. Joey Bettany called on the School to say farewell. Evadne.’ said Jo eyeing a proffered array of cakes hungrily and succumbing to the creamiest confection on the plate.’ ‘Jo! You don’t mean that. Jo clutched her head dramatically and groaned. to the amusement of the Prefects. But that was out of the question as Jo was bound for India imminently and could not be expected to spare the time to sort out her troubles. ‘If I thought I was going to be treated like Royalty every time I visited the School. as least in Joyce’s opinion. ‘I must say this is very pleasant. Gillian might have helped. On the Wednesday of the second week of October. having been finally forced to put pen to paper and now I can’t go anywhere without the wretched thing lest I suddenly remember something vital. Jo and Robin were due to leave the Sonnalpe two days later to begin their long journey to India. ‘Yes please. ‘All the same. Gio! It has been a nightmare! I keep waking up remembering things I need to take with me. Before I started. ‘Deciding which books to take has been the worst part..before. Robin having said her own goodbyes the day before during a very brief visit. ‘Well.’ ‘. who. Even Joyce. famed for her selfcentredness.. Never again would she seek deliberately to humiliate someone by act or word. we wanted to.’ sighed Jo. that august body having decided to issue a formal invitation to honour them with her presence for Kaffee und Kuchen.. she was sure.’ replied Joey easily. ‘Maybe not.’ ‘Are you all prepared for the journey?’ enquired Giovanna Rincini. would have listenen sympathetically and given much-needed advice. I’d have to think again about going off to India. laughing and joking with all and sundry. ‘It looks full enough. ‘Non! Jamais!’ cried Jeanne. squinting at the spidery scrawl covering the page.’ And she pulled out of her jacket pocket a very crumpled piece of paper in confirmation. her dark eyes twinkling with mirth. Joey.’ cried Gillian in mock horror. Of course he has been crowing loudly ever since because eventually I had to admit that I should have taken his advice.’ corrected Jeanne le Cadoulec. Jem suggested that I should write out a list but I though that would be a frightful waste of time and told him so..’ ‘It is a bon voyage party. ‘You are going such a long way away. ‘It would be a surprise for you at the very least. I have packed and repacked my cases umpteen times and I’m still not sure that I have everything I want.’ .’ ‘That’s not a bad notion. It was an unpleasant predicament but it taught Joyce a lesson that she never forgot. I will have another drop of coffee. Joyce was left with no option other than to work out the problem herself. ‘I have changed my mind so many times that my sister has threatened to choose a dozen books at random for me.’ remarked Gillian. Eventually she arrived at the Prefects’ room. whatever you like to call it. it was jolly decent of you folk to lay on a tea-party for me.’ came the muffled answer through a mouthful of sweet delight. I appreciate the thought. colouring with embarrassment. Jo was in fine form and clearly excited about the prospect of her holiday in the sub-Continent and she breezed through the School. ‘Don’t ask.’ said Hilary. Joyce longed to discuss her troubled conscience with Jo Bettany. had she shown signs of understanding the difficulty of her sister’s position. if there is any to spare. accepted that. folding the list and replacing it in her pocket.

’ then she was gone pulling Gillian and Hilary to her for a final few words. Good luck everyone. Jo. He said. and regretted her remark. ‘I thought I had left all that behind. time to go. I’m sorry I shan’t be around for the rest of your term as Head Girl.’ was all she said. Jo turned round and gazed fondly at . Jo. cheerfully. But I just wanted to say that from what I have been hearing from everyone. she did all her own packing and didn’t require any help from either my sister or me. ‘I guess no one could ever call you feather-brained. the younger girl realised she had gone to far. and she was not going to let the slur spoil a pleasant afternoon so she let it go without further comment and changed the subject.’ said Miss Annersley.’ said Nancy Wilmot sympathetically. we are not taking along any tutors. and I’m willing to bet that you will be as every bit as successful as Gill. ‘Bill’ subsided and joined the other two in wishing Jo a happy and safe sojourn before they accompanied their former Head Girl to the front door of Ste Thérèse’s in time to see Jem arrived in his car. ‘Well.’ ******************** After Jo had done the rounds of the School and the Staff room. I am sure that the rest of the term will go well. finally she arrived at the Head’s study to say a private goodbye to Miss Annersley. Do you not know the wise words of Plutarch? Let me refresh your memory then. and a Happy New Year too. she turned back to face the girls and said. Jo.‘Perhaps. “The mind is not a vessel to be filled. but a fire to be lighted”. I mean. Just remember to try and enjoy your last term here. After exchanging embraces and listening meekly to Matron’s strictures about looking after herself and Robin. you are doing a first-rate job. satisfied that Jo appeared to be suitably impressed. When I get back you will be at the helm. by the way. Mind on higher things and such-like. the educational side of things. children. thank goodness!’ ‘Don’t be flippant. And what is worse. ‘Feather-brained. Not only that. Hilary.’ continued Jo. This is going to be an excellent opportunity for you to observe different cultures and perhaps see something of the architecture of ancient civilisations during your travels. Jo fixed the American with a beady eye. ‘It’s probably something to do with your creative temperament.’ intervened Miss Wilson crisply. Jo was very fond of Evadne.’ Jo grimaced. ‘Thanks for the flowers. ‘Come in. You should regard it as much an educational experience as a holiday. Ten minutes later she glanced at her watch and stood up to leave. ‘Robin is completely organised and ready. She shows me up in a very poor light.’ ‘Never mind. you mean!’ laughed Jo. Do you know that I have never been away from the School for such a length of time before? I expect I shall be quite homesick for the Tiernsee. Evvy. however.’ As she left to cries of Bon Voyage. ‘Gill. Miss Wilson and Matron. ‘Hilda is correct! You should know very well that she is simply counselling you to open your mind to new spheres of knowledge. The trouble is I can’t bear the thought of leaving my favourite ones behind. the time goes all too quickly. yes!’ said Evadne tactlessly. ‘Have you said your farewells to everyone? Good! I am sure that you appreciate how fortunate you and Robin are to be embarking on such an exciting adventure. ‘Oh. nevertheless. Disorganised. I nearly forgot. with a broad grin on her face. After all.’ Then. I assure you. Staff included. a very Merry Christmas to you all.

. ‘So had I.’ she whispered. who know about it also. for truly she was possessed of an angelic countenance that perfectly matched her sweet nature. waved and was gone. hastened to change the subject. I had completely forgotten that you once lived there. The Russells had decided to hold it two days before the departure so as to give the two travellers a completely quiet day of rest before starting their long journey early on the Friday morning. Joey was uncharacteristically silent on the drive back up to the Sonnalpe as she digested Miss Wilson’s words. Not for nothing did people call Robin das Engelkind.’ said Robin seriously. you two. for Madge and Jem had arranged to hold a surprise leaving party. Juliet. T.’ ‘Thank you for the compliemtn.’ laughed Juliet. she thanked her for quoting them. Robin was thrilled to be invited to cut it and carefully sliced several portions before Grizel took over and finished the job. reading for conveyance to Innsbruck station. I mean. They would come back to her time and again during the next few months and when she wrote a letter to ‘Bill’ from India. Jo. ‘I much prefer to look forward to the future. Die Rosen was buzzing with noise when Jo walked through the front door. ‘It’s a long time ago. But I can guarantee that you will be captivated by the country and the people. but by this time her cases were all packed and strapped. Joey. a posed. a subject that now she taught at the Chalet School Annexe for delicate children at the Sonnalpe.’ said Joey between mouthfuls. thanks to my parents’ efforts to abandon me at a school in the Hills. The she hurried to the car and blew a kiss to the three.’ owned Juliet. which. but it had also been . dearly wished that Grizel had been given the opportunity to choose her own destiny.’ cried Joey. ‘My memories of India are very mixed. to start a bakery. her eyes filling with unaccustomed tears. and I really do not like to dwell on my early years.’ Standing there. ‘Maybe it’s not such a bad idea. of course. ‘This is a jolly good cake. Miss Annersely turned to ‘Bill’. gave her another packing crisis for she wanted to take them with her. looking down affectionately at the earnest little face framed with dark curls.the original Chalet building for some moments as if she was saying goodbye to the School itself. Robin was allowed to be present also and enjoyed the attention of the elders there. yes! How I shall miss you all.’ acknowldeged Grizel...’ ‘Bill’ laughed. Juliet Carrick and Grizel Cochrane had banded together to make a large cake and Juliet had managed to write a rather wobbly Bon Voyage on the top in pink icing. Mistress. As a result she felt a suppressed anitpathy towards her profession. ‘You bet!’ she replied wickedly. Grizel shrugged. ‘Oh. as she privately complained to Madge afterwards. ‘You and Grizel are so clever. it was hard to believe that Juliet Carrick had indeed endured an unhappy childhood. ‘It is going to be quiet without her. If you ever tire of teaching. notwithstanding her long-held ambition to train as a P. I certainly was. upset at her lapse of memory. liebling.’ ‘It is a beautiful cake.’ ‘. with Jo revelling in the company ofher friends. tall and slim young woman. And I know that you will love India. The party was a great success. ‘I say. Jo knew all about this. Grizel had been compelled by her father to study music in Florence after leaving the School. Juliet. Thus an astounded Jo was all at once surrounded by her Sonnalpe friends offerong their good wishes and small gifts.Oh.. not for the first time. you could set up a bakery. Juliet.’ Jo glanced at her friend and saw a fleeting restlessness in her eyes. and. for by then she had indeed understood their veracity. slipping a hand through the arm of her old friend.

She was extremely fond of Juliet and the last thing she wanted was to remind her. to her attempts to remain calm and courteous. Good Day!’ And she stalked off at speed towards Mrs Linton’s room. a large. joined the trio at this point and the conversation changed to another topic. As far as I am concerned. nor have I ever given you any justification to believe otherwise.’ she said in an undertone. white-coated figure zoomed out of a side door and blocked Jo’s progress. ‘I have many friends here.’ Joey nodded. old and dear friends.’ ******************** The following afternoon. Gisela Mensch ad Bette di Bersetti. I did not come here to see you. she had resolved to shed her less attractive qualities and grew into a hard-working. leaving an open mouth young man at last in no doubt as to her feelings for him. for his impertinence had put paid. ‘What a pleasant surprise indeed! What brings you here? Jo was furious. for which Jo was glad. brought them up-to-date. Jo. Isn’t he here?’ ‘He sends his apologies.’ she said.’ ‘You came all this way to say farewell to me? How perfectly charming!’ Joey glowered indignantly. She was half-inclined to ignore her despised interlocutor. ‘Madge. Making her way in through the frnt entrance she saw Jack in the distance and waved. as she worked her way around the crowded room. of her unhappy childhool. for out of the corner of her eye she could see Jack hesitate a moment and then turn on his heel and retreat to his office. Jo ended up standing beside Madge. As Bette and Gisela were keen to hear the latest news about the School.her great fortune to end up at the Chalet School where she had come under the benevolent influence of the young Head Mistress. once and for all. Madge Bettany.’ ‘And I consider myself to be chief among them.’ laughed Madge. ‘I don’t think you should mention it. ‘Good afternoon. however unwittingly. not did I have any intention of seeking you aout. very popular Head Girl and latterly much respected Head of the Annexe. including Miss Linton. naturally.’ said Jo with visible relief. ‘Ah! Miss Bettany. only too relieved to oblige. ‘I fail to see how you can possibly conclude that. ‘Jem conveniently asked him to undertake a spot of late duty. India is not far enough away from you. but an emergency case arrived late this afternoon and he has to be on hand to deal with the poor little chap. You are sure to see him tomorrow though. but as they walked towards one another. After a difficult beginning. ’He would no doubt deny any complicity in the matter. So . if I may be so bold to suggest it. in a tone as icy as the Arctic wind. ‘I don’t see Jack Maynard anywhere. Two further ex-Head Girls. I hope and expect one day to be more than that!’ ‘What?’ snapped back Jo increduously.’ bellowed the one and only Dr Hunter.’ smiled Madge. ‘I am here to say goodbye to my friends for I am leaving for India in the morning. A special friend and. the grinning ape!’ ‘You needn’t worry on that score. Good afternoon. giving up the fight to conceal her anger. She had noticed that one face was missing. Jo strolled over to the San to say goodbye to the Staff and several patients.’ ‘Good for Jem! I must thank him personally. ‘Well at least Dr Hunter hasn’t turned up! I half expected him to be here. Eventually. for I most definitely do not consider you a friend in any sense of the word. Jo.

in her agitation. then?’ asked Jo in surprise. turning round to discover the identity of the whirlwind who had so nearly bumped into him. cheeks aflame and black eyes blazing.. are you?’ asked Jack lightly. whe she thought about it afterwards. When Jo finally ran out of her extensive vocabulary of epithets. more than anything at the begnning.er. it’s just that now seems to be the most appropriate time to make the trip. I am very sorry that you have had an unpleasant time with him. as you know. he would not take ‘no’ for an answer. perhaps I could have leant a sympathetic ear. Jack listened in silence. ‘No. Now.’ blurted out Jo fervently.incensed was Jo. if nothing else.. but she is only thirteen and can’t be expected to see things through adult eyes. ‘Yes.’ ‘Well. for Hunter has them in abundance it seem to me. When he saw Jo.. ‘You had quite a lot to tolerate. She did not want Jack to think that getting away from hunter was her only motive for going to India. all things considered. ‘That is why. arrogant braggart like him?’ gasped Jo. However. Jo had hiterhto not mentioned her difficulties with Dr Hunter to Jack.. jem and Madge thought it might be just the thing to dampen his enthusiasm. ‘Whoa!’ exclaimed Jack maynard. How could I possibly like a puffed up.’ ‘I see.. she unburdened herself. I can imagine Jem’s reaction if I had submitted a request for such a long leave of absence from the San.’ Jo looked at Jack and saw that he was serious. I think. Nevertheless. ‘It wasn’t my business to intervene unless you expressly wished me to do so and since you never mentioned him to me. I assumed that either you could deal with him yourself. he spoke. that she did not notice a side door opening and only narrowly did she avoid a collision.’ he frowned..’ Jack smiled.’ added Jo hurriedly. I didn’t realise Hunter was being quite such a nuisance. immediately he was curious to know what was wrong and ushered her into his office for an explanation.’ He thought for a few seconds. thought well of him and.Jack Maynard! I don’t know how you could think such a thing. the idea appeals!’ . ‘I have had numerous invitations from them.. ‘I know that I am very fortunate to have Robin for company and of course I was thrilled when Jem agreed to it. Well. ‘I’m very glad that you don't admire those particular qualities. Jo. really.’ ‘Yes. Jack smiled. ‘It’s very kind of you to say so.’ he repeated quietly. Joey. Besides. All things considered. And I thought we were friends.’ ‘I wish you were coming too. If you had let me into your confidence though. ‘I was embarrassed. Jack! Why didn’t you try to stop him?’ ‘Because you didn’t ask me. Joey. or you. of course. Suddenly she wished she had told him about Dr Hunter long before. I thought the ass would take my not very subtle hints.’ ‘. Jack.. But he has totally ignored all my forthright remarks and I have been at my wits’ end to know what to do. ‘I expect it is. as much because she was embarrassed by the unsoliciited attention as anything else.’ ‘You knew what he was up to. to the surprise of Jack and herself.. yes in a way. of course.. brimming with indignation at the very idea.’ he replied simply. ‘But I have been thinking about visiting Dick and Mollie for ages.’ ‘You are not going to India to get away from him.

‘Still. I had better say goodbyte now.’ he huffed..travelogue and send it to you at intervals. He rose from his chair immediately. but you ignore the fact that without mutual regard it cannot exist. We have a new case. exasperation creeping into her voice again.’ said Jo.’ For once Dr Hunter spoke quietly.’ He put out his hand to Jo and she accepted it and held it warmly. Miss Bettany. For my part. Dr Hunter. He knew that they have to remain unspoken for some time to come.’ ‘You think so?’ replied Jo.’ A knock at the door interuppted their conversation and in walked a nurse with a message for the doctor. Will you do that?‘ he enquired casually. Nurse! Tell Sister I shall be there in two minutes. Jo. a young lad. I have merely observed the conventions of . leaving Jo alone. ‘Of course I shall. She turned to see Dr Hunter lumering up to her. I may not manage to see you again before you and Robin depart. and he is rather poorly at present. Be sure to give my salaams to Dick and Mollie. I promise. ‘There is something you can do. ‘I shan’t forget to write. Write occasionally when you have time and tell me where you have been and what you have seen.’ In an instant he was gone. ‘Oh no!’ she thought to herself.’ said Jo. I shall be here until late and you will be wanting to get a decent night’s sleep before embarking upon your travels. Joey! Take care of yourself and Robin and have a wonderful time. he retired to his office to contemplate his conversation with Jo.’ A deep crimson hue began to permeate Dr Hunter’s natural doughy complexion. Jack was immersed in medical matters for the next three hours. it would have been nice to share the journey together. ‘I cannot believe you meant what you said to me.’ cried Jo. For that reason I shall give you the opportunite to correct yourself. Jack. had said her farewells to all at the San and was heading out of the imposing buidling when she heard heavy footsteps behind her. meanwhile. His voice normally boomed out to the extent that Jo was convicned that it could be heard at the far side of the Tiernsee.‘You’ve become indispensable to him nowadays. The persistent feeling of unhappiness he had endured during the past six months or so had all but evaporated and at last he understood the cause of it. ‘I have offered my friendship selflessly to you and this is how you repay me. he often admits as much.’ ‘I should like that very much. but when he was able to snatch a few minutes’ respite. ‘I’m sorry Jo.’ ‘Miss Bettany. but dignified. Jo’s reply was forthright. but at least now he had reason to be hopeful for the future and he was prepared to wait.. You are too well bred for that sort of talk. ‘Yes?’ said Jo with a weary sigh. I shall look forward to receivng accounts of your adventures. ‘Not again.’ He turned to Joey. ‘The perhaps you have misjudged me. ‘All the best. but I must go.a. I gather you are being taken down to Innsbruck at some unearthly hour in the morning?’ ‘We are leaving Die Rosen at six or thereabouts. for I shall not retract one word of it. ‘Thank you. ‘You talk of friendship. The man is utterly impossible.’ ‘Goodbye..’ she added a touch wistfully.’ ‘In that case.. wondering what was going to come next. with a slight catch in her words. ‘I shall write a. No more could he disregard his true feelings.

******************** At ten to six the following morning. and pushing his hand fleetingly through the open window. she tried to hide her mirth from him. Now. having at last seen the funny side of the matter.civility. She was nevr to know that Jack Maynard. Out of a cardboard box slid a miniature silver frame containing a photograph of a magnificent St Bernard. taken aback at Jack’s sudden appearance. Despite her aversion to the young doctor. I have nothing more to say to you. nothing more. ‘Oh! How gorgeous! A photo of Rufus. just as Jem’s car started to roll out of Die Rosen. had taken Dr Hunter aside and made clear his distaste for the young man’s behaviour towards Jo. who had risen early to wave the pair off. ‘Wat is in your parcel. Indeed. for she had been seized by a sudden uncontrollable urge to laugh. ‘Isn’t Jack a perfect dear? He must have taken this picture after I told him how much I would miss Rufus. having accepted a post in a hospital in Australia. Jack unexpectedly arrived on the scene. Good Day!’ And Jo almost ran down the steps in her haste to get away. feeling free at last to intervene. accompanied by a barrage of good wishes from half the population of the Sonnalpe. Jo. for by the time she and Robin returned from their sojourn in India.’ And. And that was the last Jo ever saw of Dr Hunter. calculating correctly that he would be grieviously offended. ‘Have a wonderful time!’ he yelled at the pair of them and then the car accelerated and he was left behind. she settled back contentedly to enjoy the journey down to Innsbruck.’ exclaimed Jo rapturously. you could not possibly construe anything further from my conduct. holding the precious gift. dropped a small parcel onto Jo’s lap. . looked at the package for a few seconds before preceeding to unwrap it.’ begged Robin excitedly. he had left the Sonnalpe. Joey? Do open it.

she felt obilged to put her own wishes aside. Instead they would return to the Sonnalpe.Chapter XI Half-Term The next two weeks sped by relatively free from trouble. The half-term holiday was expected to help matters. The previous term Mrs Linton had insisted on their joining the trip to Salzburg and the two girls had therefore assumed that she would be as keen for them to go to Kufstein this half-term. child. Gillian and Joyce Linton would not be going with the Seniors to Kufstein. ‘Really. for with four Mistresses to keep the Juniors out of mischief. as it had been an agreeeable interlude. directing operations. I’ll answer your question when we are all settled. Kitty!’ What a time to start asking questions!’ protested Miss Stewart. and sure enough. however. it was felt unnecessary for any Sixth Former to sacrifice her holiday in order to accompany the Innsbruck party. who was standing by the open door of the carriage. why is Kufstein called the Gate of Austria?’ enquired Kitty Burnett. this was a further sign that she was beginning to shed the selfish side of her character. Miss Norman enthusiastically volunteered to escort the little ones. ‘Why did you have to ask such a stupid question?’ growled Betty Wynne-Davies. even though it would be her last one as a schoolgirl. Two girls did forego the chance of a jolly time. Althought it was becoming clear that a majority of the girls had at last reconciled themselves to the new arrangements. ‘You are holding up everybody else. pausing in the process of scrambling into the train standing at the station platform at Spärtz. as it drew closey the mood of the School lightened considerably. nonetheless. who was seated behind with Elizabeth Arnett. Accordingly a busy programme of expeditions was drawn up to keep the girls fully occupied for the duration of their stay. not a whit troubled by reprimand. declaring that it would be a holiday in itself not to have to deal with the older girls for a while. After discussing the matter. But Dr Russell had taken Gillian aside during her last visit to the San and had gently suggestd that she and Joyce should consider spending the holiday at the Sonnalpe so that their mother could see them as much as possible. Kitty grinned and took her seat. knowing how much it meant to Mrs Linton to have their company. the Heads thought another visit would be appreciated. much to the relief of the the Staff and Prefects alike. Although Joyce did not realise it. Gillian talked it over with Joyce but she had already made up her mind and Joyce knew that it was futile to argue over the matter. but Joyce secretly yearned to go. . Don’t bother me at the moment. notwithstanding her feeling of lingering regret as she bade farewell to her fruends at Seespitz and watched them begin the descent through the pinewoods to Spärtz before she and Gillian headed upward towards the Sonnalpe and a quiet half-term. the Head and Madame had decided that those Seniors and Middles not returning to their homes for the half-term holiday would spend the four days’ break in Kufstein. Gillian was philosophical about missing the half-term trip. Some members of the School had stayed in the town two years before and. ‘Miss Stewart. The Prefects were free to join the Kufstein trip. the occurrence of several small incidents served to remind the Mistresses that things were not yet as settled as they might be. As expected. The Juniors were to be taken to Innsbruck and would have their own little excursions.

Before long the platform was left behind as the train pulled out of the station and began its journey eastwards along the Inn valley between the high mountains ranges to the north and south.’ snapped back Kitty. Herr Welser’s English was not very good and his wife spoke no English at all. Kityy!’ ‘Oh. some of green and black patterns. ‘I think you will find it most interesting. had no difficulty with that. ushering the girls through the door.’ mumbled Betty. They tucked into steaming bowlfuls of Tirolerknödeln. The men in their vivid coats. but for once she heeded her friend’s advice and contented herself with starting out of the window. During the train journey Miss Stewart found time to answer Kitty’s question. for a contingent had stayed with him once before and her recognised Miss Wilson immediately. swinging their weekend cases. Miss Stewart saw her lips moving. fluent German speakers themselves. with cabbage and crispy golden Kartoffeln. before administering a suitable reprimand about good manners and the use of slang. gut. To . ‘Danke. a heart-warming beef stew. Betty looked thunderstruck. the girls dashed down to the Speisesaal.’ she announced. brightly decorated with frescoes. she had a shrewd idea of the substance and briskly assured the youngester that she would indeed enjoy the visit. The sight of local peasants in their Tyrolese costumes soon took her mind off her grievances as she gazed with interest at the bustling platform. this was the first time they had visitied the old town and they looked excitedly around them at the shadowy lamp-lit baroque and neoclassical buildings crowding the streets as they followed the Mistresses to the Gasthaus that was to be their home for the next few days. ‘Grüss Gott. To her dismay. The door to the Gasthause was flung open by a cheerful old gentleman who greeted the girls with a broad smile. You are the limit. ‘It’s a perfectly good question. ‘Tomorrow we shall visit the fortress which has guarded Kufstein for centuries. but the Mistresses. who nevertheless knew how to feed hungry girls. a petite lady of advanced years. Abendessen was provided by Frau Welser. passing by neat little hamlets and villages of balconied chalets and the occasional inn. Betty!’ muttered Elizabeth. thanks to you Charlie will bore us to tears for the whole of the journey. followed by Tafelspitz. dry up. Herr Wleser was known to the Chalet School. much to Betty’s disgust. together with their partially hidden brightly embroidered brace. by virtue of its position as a frontier town and means of access between Germany and Austria. and indeed were pleased that the non-German speaking girls among the party would have some extra German practice during the holiday. rather outshone their womenfolk. and although she could not have heard her comment due to the noise of th train. that’s all. who by comparison were more soberly attired. red and black. The train pulled into the Bahnhof at Kufstein as dusk was falling and the girls jumped out onto the platform. She explained that Kufstein was just one of a number of Gates of Austria.‘It’s not stupid.’ ‘I bet I don’t. For most of them. Herr Welser! Wie geht es Ihnen? ’ cried Miss Wilson. or dumplings floating in broth. After finding their rooms and changing into evening frocks. leather belts over chamois leather lederhosen and felt hats sporting the black feather of a capercailzie. gnädges Fraulein!’ he responded jovially. Rebellious Betty felt glad that she did not have to wear the traditional everyday long black skirt and tight-fitting bodice so favoured by the Tyrolese female. I just wanted to know.’ ‘Well. others.

The town was ruined in the course of Emperor Maximilian’s victory over the Bavarians in 1504 and almost two hundred years later. ‘Don’t tell me you did not know that. in 1703. Later in the morning.’ replied Miss Wilson. the town has had a very violent past. Miss Stewart?’ asked Hilary Burn.’ Miss Stewart told her. That should please you!’ ‘Thank you. Next day dawned clear and sunny so Miss Wilson marched them down to the river after Frühstück to stretch their legs. then. but the Seniors pored over a proclamation. When we visit it later this morning. ‘I am horrified to think that you have lived so close to this famous river for all this time and yet you are so unaware of it. who had been surveying the edifice with interest. When you get back to School. offering a reward of 1000 ducats for Andreas Hofer’s ally and lieutenant. and once more in 1809 in the Napoleonic Wars. aftr elevenses back at the Gasthaus. staring at the castle. and consequently it has been the site of many battles over the centuries. signed in September 1813. The smaller tower at the entrance is called the Citizens’ Tower.’ laughed Miss Stewart. Miss Wilson. ‘Gee. ‘It is a fortification. ‘It was never meant to be homely. Cornelia. The Museum within its walls did not hold much interest for the Middles. I would suggest you get your atlas out and follow its course. ‘Not only does it do that.’ ‘Oh! I didn’t realise it comes all the way from Innsbruck through to here. Miss Wilson?’ enquired Dorothy Brentham as they rounded a bend and saw the expanse of water. where it meets the Danube.’ ‘It has one enormous tower. it winds its way through a corner of Bavaria before crossing back into Austria at Passau. Hilary. topped with snow.’ admitted the Fifth Former blandly. So you see.round off.’ commented Ida Reaveley. In fact it would be a good idea to set your Form a few questions for the next Geography lesson in order to help you remember some facts about the river. many times! Its tactical position was much prized by warlords.’ Miss Wilson informed her. of course. built to defend the town and surrounding land from invasion. ‘Why. It was once a prison. providentially distracting those of Dorothy’s classmates who had been privy to ‘Bill’s’ remarks from pulling faces at her behind the Mistress’s back.’ mumbled Dorothy meekly. by the General Commissioner for the Inn. the party crossed over the river and climbed up the hill to inspect the towers and battlements of the castle and to admire the wonderful views of the Innvalley and the slopes of the Kaisergebirge. it’s not what I’d call a homely-looking place. ‘Oh goodness me. dead or alive. affecting a shocked town of voice. . ‘Much bigger than the others. Dorothy. Josef Speckbacher. it’s the Inn.’ Corney added as she gazed across to the eastern bank of the Inn towards granite cliffs upon which sat a fortress towering forebodingly above the town. yes. chiefly with Bavaria just across the Border.’ It’s called the Emperor’s tower.’ ‘So Kufstein has never been invaded. ‘There’s the Castle!’ shouted Cornelia at that point. who were less than impressed with old relics and manuscripts. See how prominently it stands. it was destroyed again in the War of the Spanish Seccuession. you will see for yourself the views it commands. ‘What is this river called. it most certainly has. generous portions of Apfeltorte with whipped cream were served and everyone went to bed well satisfied. one Baron von Lerchenfeld. the Kaiserturm.

waving at us. ‘But I bet she’s having a whale of a time and not giving us all a thought. Marie. just as my chaffeur was about to pull away. and I knew it had to be the dear Chalet School so I asked him to stop. for as the girls and Mistresses alighted from the motor coaches which had been hired to take them there and began to walk along the paverment towards a row of shops.’ And she and Cornelia each took an arm and marched Marie across the street to speak to her old School Mistresses and the girls. formerly von Eschenau. This is a surprise and no mistaking!’ ‘And I did not expect to see you either. since Joey left for India. a young woman hailed two of their number. but she kept in contact with her three closest school friends. By the end of the day everybody was tired out and went to bed early without a protest. wondering who could be calling them.’ ‘I guess we all do. ‘Hilary Burn and Nancy Wilmot! It’s quite a shock to see you in brown uniforms.’ ‘Do you think so?’ asked Marie thoughtfully. act out their own version of the Passion Play every Sunday during the summer months and had done so since 1802. Joey Bettany.’ said maria apologetically. I do not think she would forgot us very easily. a wealthy landowner in the Tyrol. Marie lover her School and felt a great loyalty to it.’ explained Evadne. who were lagging behind. ‘We sure didn’t expect to see you here. A trip to St Johann in Tyrol the following day turned out to be even more worthwhile than anticipated.’ ‘Never mind about Jo. had joined the Chalet school in the second term of its existence. so she was overjoyed to see so many of the girls and Staff in St Johann. ‘We are staying at Kufstein and have come here for the day. and greeted the lady with great enthusiasm. Soon after leaving School she became the wife of young Baron Eugen von Wertheim. to the Thiersee. ‘Marie! How are you? It’s great to see you again. considered the most beautiful girl in the history of the School. But when they caught the sight of the possessor of the voice waving frantically in an effort to catch their attention. But I noticed the brown uniforms. The School means more to Jo than anything else. golden-haried Marie ran her sister a close second in looks and had been a popular pupil. they dashed over the road.’ ‘Now I understand! I’m afriad I am no so up-to-date with the School news this term. ‘I’m not so sure. There they are. in the afternoon. with scant regard for their safety. ‘Come and say ‘hello’ to Bill and Charlie. But what are you doing here?’ ‘It’s half-term. with whom she had progressed through the School. ‘Evadne! Corney! Guten Tag!’ Evvy and Corney looked around in surprise. when the greetings were completed. from a large car parked on the opposite side of the street.’ agreed Corney. They talked to some of the inhabitants and discovered that the peasants of Thiersee. possessed of a calm and pleasant nature and much charm.’ cried Cornelia.The Middles were much happier with their visit. I do miss her.’ she exclaimed. The Seniors in particular voiced a hope that they might be able to return the next summer to watch a performance. Frieda Mensch and Simone Lecoutier. ‘I always expect to see you in blue. where they were able to roam freely.’ said Evvy impatiently.’ . ‘She always keeps me very well informed and tells me all the latest gossip. and went to live in his castle at Wertheimershof. Marie von und zu Werthein. who work the mountain pastures. high up on the western side of the Inn. together with her elder sister Wnada.

greeted the girls with enthusiasim. But when are you going back to Briesau? Will you not call on me at Wertheimershof?’ The girls looked at Miss Wilson hopefully. we’re old girls of the Chalet School now.‘Oh. That is settled then. Marie and Eugen were at the entrance to welcome them. as the authorities did not want the girls to walk all the way up from Spärtz station in the dark. it had been arranged that they shoudl return to Briesau by motor coach. thanks to an Oxford education. if you are sure. both at the Chalet School and latterly at his wedding celebrations. Mass for the Catholics and those girls of other denomiations who had been granted special permision to attend the service. They stopped for elevenses at a café and were pleased to discover that Miss Stewart had gone on ahead to order cups of coffee topped with extravagant mounds of whipped for everyone.’ he cried. a handsome youg man who spoke impeccable English. St Johann in Tyrol proved to be a very picturesque town and the girls enjoyed walking around the large houses inspecting their colourful murals. I am afriad.’ laughed Hilary. To the delight of the historically inclined girls among their number. Meugen. Indeed. they stopped for Mittagessen at a Gasthaus which had been the headquarters of Josef Speckbacher at the time of the 1809 uprising. ‘I think the castle is large enough to cope with you. a more convenient mode of transport for the time of year. admiring the fifteenth century Gothic stained glass window of ten saints in the Spitalkirche and the bell-shaped domes of the eighteenth century parish Church. He was already well acquainted with many of the girls and all of the Staff.’ ‘Then do call on the way home for Kaffee und Kuchen. ‘Eugen and I would love to entertain you all and show you round the castle. ‘This is our second term.’ shouted the girls appreciatively as she disappeared. and a generous selection of cakes.’ sighed Marie. Later the party explored several churches. In the afternoon two motor coaches turned off the main road to Spärtz and followed a route through a narrow valley to a pretty little town and then a winding road up to a hilltop and through ornate gates. ‘Tomorrow is Sunday and we shall be leaving the Gasthaus on Monday after Mittagessen to travel back to Briesau. having met them several times before.’ said Miss Wilson. ‘It is most kind of you. but I fear that we shall not have time.’ said Marie. It has been lovely to meet you all again. On Sunday it rained from dawn until dusk. Marie. but I have an appointment to keep so I must take my leave of you. I will expect you on Monday afternoon.’ Marie laughed. for it is chilly outside. ‘Please do come into the hall. was followed by an afternoon engaged in quiet pursuits back at the Gasthaus. ‘I bid you welcome to Wertheimershof. Monday morning daned bright and clear and they prepared to leave. It’s not very much out of your way. Auf Wiedersehen!’ And with that she waved to the assembled crowd and crossed the road to the waiting car with a graceful turn of speed and agility that reminded the Mistresses that she had once been Games Prefect.’ ‘How time fliees.’ ‘Well. finally drawing up inside the courtyard of the Gothic Wertheimershof at precisely fifteen o’clock. ‘We are rather a big crowd.’ said Miss Wilson uncertainly. Marie! And thank you very much for the invitation. Although they had travelled to Kufstein by train. ‘And so must I. he had first laid eyes on his future bride at the School Sports Day some years before so he had good reason to hold the School in great affection.’ . ‘Auf Wiedersehen .

’ she added with a smile.’ replied Evadne. who looked uncannily like Eugen. you and Marie ought to be depicted. the rooms are in pairs in the fashion of the sixteenth century. to let some warmth escape into the cold chamber.’ she explained to those within hearing. It looks awfully like you Baron. not a fort. there is a strong family likeness. as the girls gaped at the walls. the table bore a close resemblance to a first-rate Konditorei. This room had fresco paintings all around the walls. a grand room with panelling on three walls and ancient tapestries on the fourth. Now what about Kaffee und Kuchen! I am sure you are all ready for it before you see the rest of the castle?’ They made their way into the Speisesaal. he does not like it when Eugen and I are here alone.’ he indicated with a wave of his hand. Marie laughed at their reactions and invited them to help themselves.’ persisted Mary. ‘We have a very talented chef pâtissier who trained in Vienna.’ murmured Corney to Evvy. ‘Not radically. for the table groaned with cakes and pastries of every type. elaborately carved ceiling. for above all else he loves to prepare as many of his favorite recipes as possible. For that reason. with hand outstretched. which is why. ‘The original building was in fact a fortress. At that time a living room with a stove adjoined an unheated bedroom.The group found themselves inside a huge panelled hall with a high. As the girls stood by. As you will see. stopping to examine many pictures and tapestries on the way. Bemused at the prospect of having to choose one of the many delights. ‘This place is a mite friendlier than the Kufstein place. When they had finished laying out the food. pointing a finger in the direction of a figure of a young man on the south wall. The present castle was built at the beginning of the sixteenth century by my ancestor. originally created by . Fortunately for us it was rebuilt as a family home and not for strategic purposes. stepping into to smooth her ruffled feathers. a sweet chestnut gateau. ‘Anton is at his happiest when we are entertaining. I think!’ ‘Thank you Mary. if you look up there.’ ‘Has it been altered much since then?’ enquired Miss Stewart with interest. ‘Of course it is. ‘My family liked to see themslves portrayed as heroes of legend. bonehead! It’s Eugen’s family home. Eugen?’ enquired Mary Shand. exclaiming with pleasure at the delicious confections. Amid shouts of laughter from the Seniors and the Staff. ‘I don’t know why you are all laughing. between a Linzertorte. An army of servants brought platefuls of cakes and breads and placed them on the long dining room table. a hazelnut jam tart.’ said Marie. and a Kastanientorte. ‘Is that you up there. put out by the mirth she had caused. Eugen overheard this aside and laughed.’ explained Eugen with an amused twinkle in his eye. ‘there are little windos cut high into the walls.’ The large group strolled through several rooms and passageways into a salon. Anton had indeed excelled himself. but it fell into disrepair in thei middle of the fifteenth century. ‘Well. You are correct. Miss Stewart dithered. Then she caught sight of a huge Dobostorte. Eugen hurriedly dispelled the suggestion in a curiously choking voice. ‘We are very touched that you think we are worthy of joining Eugen’s ancestors on the walls. But you will be pleased to hear that we have since modernised the heating arrangements and the castle is now much warmer throughout. a luscious chocolate cake liberally smothered in chopped nuts and whipped cream and was about to help herself to a slice when she noticed a particularly fine imitation of the famous Sachertorte.

had come to investigate the cause of it. The girls instantly ran over to examine the said wall. He held up his hands in surrender. ‘Mother has not been well lately. ‘It wouldn’t be secret if you could see it. Also there are many steps up and down and it would dangerous to let you in there without lighting. were forced to sample most of the sumptuous cakes. who on hearing the excited hubbub. The girls and Staff alike feasted handsomely and those. ‘They are coming to stay with us for a week or two before Christmas. and it is very dark in there. Needless to state. ‘Very well then! Watch this fourth panel. it swung open to reveal a dark passage. and beside it a Baissertorte. She is really coming on. Miss Stewart and Miss Wilson for she wanted to hear all the latest news about the School.’ she said quietly. The Middles surrounded Eugen. In particular. You never know what other treasures we may find. I hope they are fit. Then he closed the panel to the great disappointed of the Middles. ‘Can we go in?’ demanded Elizabeth Arnett eagerly. like Miss Stewart. ‘We have not seen them for some time. ‘I have not got a latntern to hand.’ responed Violet Allison. she shut her eyes and waved her right hand about for a few seconds before thrusting out a finger.Franz Sacher. Wanda. We are all praying that die liebe Gott will let her recover. The girls pushed closer and peered in through the opening.’ he announced. At the beginning of her final term at the School she and Jo and Frieda and Simone had been moved . pâtissier to Prince Metternich. you idiot. For those with lighter appetites there were several strudels filled with berries and currant tarts with meringue toppings. Miss Wilson and Miss Stewart drew Marie aside to enquire about her family and in particular their ex-pupil. a tomboy of fifteen.’ was the unsatisfactory response. ‘One of the panels on that far wall conceals a hidden passage. just two days after the baby’s birth and they were both looking splendid.’ he said persausively. And he led the girls off towards the east wing to inspect some suits of armour and a collection of swords. And Kurt and Bernhilda are absolutely thrilled with their new arrival. when only a few crumbs remained. ‘She is very well and Friedel also.’ In another part of the room Eugen was imparting a piece of information that caused great excitement among the girls.’ Marie’s face became unexpectedly serious. Beside.’ complained Ruth Wynyard. clamouring to be shown the passage.’ said Marie. ‘We are very worried. ‘They thrive on fear! Don’t let them intimidate you.’ ‘And the Graf and Gräfin von Eschenau?’ asked Miss Stewart. which appealed to their tastes rather more than atique wall hangings. Eugen and I spent a week with Wanda last month. ‘Come! We shall investigate some more of the castle. she was curious to know how the new House system was working out. who could not easily deicde what to have. Baron. you might be scared. the plates were emptied and. Wanda and I visited Bernhild last week. It pointed in the direction of Baissertorte and she duly took a slice.’ ‘Not this lot. Keferl is growing up fast and is very protective of his little sister. ‘I think perhaps not. Baby Maria Ileana is a darling and continues to be the image of Wolfram.’ he assured her. Unable to make up her mind.’ ‘I will not. a meringue cake filled with cream and fruit. Marie followed more sedately with the Seniors. See it move!’ And with a touch f his hand. And there were also fruit breads and a variety of small cakes and biscuits. ‘I don’t see where it is. She had not regained her health since the summer months.’ said Nancy Wilmot.

which was a great mistake in view of Betty’s capacity for mischief-making. without a doubt thanks to the efforts of the Prefects who had kept a very close watch on them in their determination to keep the two sinners out of trouble oer the half-term holiday. the original main house. by the sound of it. ‘Bill’ never let a girl entertain so much as a whisper of self-doubt when she was around. You will be the latest in a long line of excellent Head Girls. it hasn’t been what you might call relaxing. ‘Yes. Silence reigned as the girls racked their brains to remember when they last saw them. end p. Enid Sothern. I expect. but they were .’ Hilary blushed.’ mused thier hostess. porecelain and statuary in all the major rooms. At least we had time to think it over. if Miss Wilson says you are up to the job. Congratulations.’ said Miss Wilson crisply. Miss Wilson looked suspiciously at Elizabeth and Betty.’ Hilary nodded. I have no doubt. When the courtyard clock chimed seventeen o’clock Miss Wilson decided that it was time to leave and sent the Prefects to round up the girls and lead them to the great hall. ‘You Prefects will have had your hands full. It took some time and Miss Wilson took the precaution of conducting a head count before allowing the girls to proceed into the motor coaches. as she smiled politely at the young Baroness. ‘It’s a bit early to say what sort of Head Girl I’ll be. ‘We would not have chosen you if we thought you were not up to the job. I had heard about that.’ replied Miss Stewart. ‘Gillian is leaving us at Christmas in order to be with her mother at the Sonnalpe.’ she commented. You would not dare to contradict her judgement!’ ‘Not if I want to survive. It was with consternation that she discvoered that four heads were missing and a rapid mental calculation told her that they belonged to some of the most mischevious girls in the School. It was true that it had crossed Irene Silksworth’s mind that Betty was looking very pleased with herself for no apparent reason. So Marie was not in the least surprised to learn that the School was taking a long time to adjust to this new state of affairs. I understand that she is Head Girl for this term only. Nevertheless.’ ‘But it did not help everyone to get used to the idea. but as nothing untoward happened during the holiday she soon forgot about it altogether. and Hilary here will be taking over the post next term. But she is coping very well. I gather that yu had no idea about the changeover to the previous set-up until you turned up on the first day of term. to take charge of the entire Middle School who had also been moved there. Betty had managed to give the Prefects the slip on just one occasion for a couple of minutes when she dashed into a shop to make some quick pyrchaes. as are all the Prefects. Despite the novelty of a bedroom each. Marie. the Quartet had found the upheavel not altogether to their liking and they rather hankered after a reutrn to the old ways.’ she said modestly. Hilary! Jo told me in the summer when she came to stay.’ thought Hilary. ‘Well. ‘I am sorry about that and especially for Gillian Linton. ‘Yes. Marie laughed merrily. ‘Where are Biddy O’Ryan. though fortunately Betty Wynne-Davis and Elizabeth Arnett were not among them. paintings. then you will certainly be. examining pieces of furniture.over to St Clare’s House from their beloved Ste Thérèse’s.’ ‘Yes. The parties explored the castle. Kitty Burnett and Mary Shaw?’ Miss Wilson demanded. 125 As Hilary complained to a select band of her friends later. ‘It has not been a very peaceful half term. Hilary.

and then advanced into the secret passge. alas.’ The Mistress were annoyed by the delay for they were already later leaving than they had intended. This proved not to be the case. Marie hesitated for a moment. and also embarrassed by the behaviour of the errant Middles. the foursome had to explain their conduct to an irate Miss Wilson. who. but Miss Wilson would have none of it. however. ‘Girls. it could have been other girls. ‘Did the Baron say that you were not to go into the passge? Answer me. I assumed that they had dropped behind to wait for your group. ‘Whose idea was this?’ she demanded.’ The Baron tore off in the direction of the Speisesaal. But I was a long way away. followed by Miss Wilson.’ she barked. and after twenty minutes he arrived back empty handed. brought speedily by a manservant. Before Miss Wilson had time to draw breath. Mary Shaw muttered something that ‘Bill’ took as admission of guitl. Miss Wilson.’ he reported. But just as they were about to leave they heard a muffled wail. Mary!’ ’Yes.’ replied Mary sulkily. Miss Stewart and Hilary. ‘Who opened it?’ ‘I did!’ said Kitty. I shall go in search of them.’ . She was angry now. Well. Miss Wilson.’ continued Miss Wilson.’ ‘But why did you close it after you?’ ‘We didn’t close it. she reflected grimly. but I might have seen them go into the Speisesaal. girls!’ After a pause. ‘Some of you must have seen them. kind-hearted Marie took pity on the children and whisked them away to be tidied up. He called for a toch. I cannot understand where they have got to.’ Marie suggested that the girls should return to the Salon as it was more comfortable than the stone-floored hall. But when they arrived there.’ he shouted. ‘So you four little girls deliberately disobeyed him. I’m afraid. ‘Are you there?’ All of a sudden a cacophony of lamentations hit Eugen’s ears and he was able to get his bearings. ‘I’m not sure. Mary Shand raised her hand timidly. ‘But I do not recall seeing them when we toured the Chapel. ‘I saw how it was done.’ declared the Baron. were playing tricks. then she too made for the Speisesaal. ‘I have checked the lower rooms myself. ‘They were with my group to start off with. she suspected. We only meant to go a little way up the steps and knock on the wall and then come back. But suddenly it all went black and we couldn’t see anything.’ said Miss Stewart apologetically to Eugen. but to no avail. Eugen dashed to the panelled wall and pressed open the mechanism. there was not a sign of anyone. Someone had closed the panel.innocent of all charges for once in their lives and appeared to be as mystified as the rest of the girls. With an exclamation. Immediately upon their return. I wonder what the Baron thinks of you?’ As the Baron was having difficulty trying to keep a straight face. they would be sorry this time. but Marie calmed them with an assurance that Eugen would quickly find them. ‘Think. ‘False alarm. Five minutes later he emerged with four very scared Middles clinging to him. ‘So you went back to the Speisesaal and found the panel. ‘I have sent the servants to check the upper chambers again. it was just as well that ‘Bill’ did not press him for his opinion for he would have been hard put to answer coherently.

‘We thought if you heard knocking you would think that the castle was haunted. ‘But girls. proceeded to close it over. Eugen got to the bottom of the mystery of the closing panel. smiling down at his beloved young wife. then?’ ‘And why did you want to knock on the wall?’ puzzled Marie. Marie turned to Eugen with an amused look. her violet-blue eyes sparkling with merriment. the four of you. ‘Well who did.’ replied Marie. Later.’ commanded Miss Wilson. Eugen burst out laughing at this this. for making such silly nuisances of yourselves and wasting everybody’s time. ‘Every bit as bad. . who had gone to clear the Speisesaal after Kaffee und Kuchen had discovered the panel open and. ‘Middles! They never change!’ ‘You mean to say that you were as bad at that age. ‘Apologise to Eugen and Marie.’ came the reply. I fear that you only succeeded in scaring yourself. assuming that her young master had accirdently left it open after the demonstration. the walls are far too thick for any knocking to be heard. As the motor coaches moved away down the driveway. A maid. little realising that she had shut the four girls in.‘You did not close it?’ Miss Stewart had been silent up to this point. herzliebchen?’ he asked innocently.

I made them apologise to Marie and Eugen. for had she been with us. Eugen must have been edified to see how Chalet School girls behave when they are out of school. Miss Annersley listed to the tale with a half-amused look on her face. Jo Bettany visits the . when a torrential storm forced one of the coaches to abandon its journey for the night on a mountain road.’ ‘How true! As you say. Have you used the telephone recently?’ Miss Annersley confessed that she had not. But I felt that they had punished themselves sufficiently. of course! And the Seniors voiced their opinions also. And don’t forget.’ commented the Head wrylu. ‘To tell you the truth. We tried to ring the School several times tow arn you that we would be late. Hilda. and the thrilling episode duly entered the annals of the School under the heading of ‘exciting adventures’. she discovered that the telephone wire leading to the School had been broken when an overhangin branch had fallen onto it. fearing that they had encountered a problem similar to that experienced at the conclusion of the previous half-term holiday in Salzburg. ‘He was merely acting the part of the gracious host. though not much. Standing at the main door to greet the party was the Head.’ Miss Wilson laughed. ‘I take it you dealt with the little sinners?’ ‘Oh. the motor coaches reached Briesau rather later in the evening than expected.’ ‘Don’t worry about him. it could have been worse. on that occasion the girls survived the night none the worse for their escapade. without a doubt she would have been involved in their plot and we would now be looking at a bout of sleep-walking. I’m quite sure he had no idea that they were capable of such devilment. We can’t blame him for the wickedness of out girls. ‘Not at all! We hada good run all the way back to School. clearly relieved to see them arrive safe and sound. After all. Miss Wilson succinctly described the reason for the hold-up.’ ‘Devilment it was! They wanted to knock on the walls in order to make everyone think the castle was haunted. He was very good-natured about it all.’ she exclaimed when Miss Wilson had finished. There was no light there at all. ‘We were delayed at Wertheimershof thanks to a prank that backfired. I’m not altogether sorry that they scared tnemselves half to death in the process. after overseeing the girls’ dispersal to their Houses. Was the weather bad in the Inn Valley?’ enquired Miss Annersley of Miss Wilson. I expect Marie has told him lots of tales of her own schooldays. Hilda. Happily. Nell! Whatever next!’ She shook her head in disbelief. Nell. but we couldn’t get through. She had become converned when they had not turned up at the stated time. ‘What happened. ‘I shall never cease to be amazed by the antics of our Middles. leaving the occupants marooned inside. No wonder they were howling when Eugen retrieved them.’ ‘It’s a great pity that Eugen showed them the secret passge in the first place. ‘I an very glad that Alixe von Elsen went home for halfterm.Chapter XII Gillian Solves a Problem Thanks to the activities of the four mischievous Middles. Nell? I expected you over two hours ago. it must have been pretty frightening for those children to find themselves shut up within the walls. I ask you. Later.’ responded Miss Wilson.

‘Very pleasant thanks! Except for some Middles making fools of themselves at Wertheimershof. Perhaps we shall enjoy a slightly quieter time this half as a result. ‘I thought they seemed a but subdued when they came through the door. ‘However. knowing the Chalet school.’ . She could not be in better hands. This was the first time. Dr Jem is looking after her well. Mummy will get better. ‘But you have coped very well. But at the moment that day seems as far away as ever. ‘Of course she will get better.’ ‘We have had no choice. responded Hilary warmly. Gillian saw the earnestness in Hilary’s face and realised that she was trying to bolster her spirits. Gill. yes! It’s nothing serious.’ Hilary was taken aback at the candour of the statement. in a valiant attempt to hearten the Head Girl. ‘Mummy was rather tired so we were unable to stay with her for more than half-an-hour at a time. Isn’t that awful?’ ‘It’s been very hard on both of you.’ grimaced Miss Annersley. I expect I feel a bit downhearted because we had a very quiet helf-term not having Joey and Robin for company. we should not have chosen this profession. ‘You’re a brick. She has been ill for nearly two years now. as far as Hilary could remember. I very much doubt that this sate of affairs will last for long!’ ‘If we had wanted to lead quiet lives. I’m looking forward so much to the day when she walks out of the San for good. certainly he knows now what girls can be like. Hilary. but her eyes bertrayed much apprenhension as she sought to assure Hilary.’ Gillian nodded. ******************** ‘Hello.’ laughed Miss Annersley. She is starting it at the end of the week. But I’ll tell you about that later. ‘Sometimes I can’t help wondering if she will ever be better again. as the two ladies made their way to the Staff room. ‘And we shall continue to do so until Mummy makes a ful recovery. She is all right.’ agreed Miss Wilson. ‘And you are right. He has got a new treatment that he thinks will help her.’ acknowledged Hilary.’ said Gillian hurriedly. Gillian had arrived back earlier in the afternoon with the rest of the Sonnalpe group and had been waiting impatiently to hear all the news of the Kufstein party. it’s been such a long haul for her.’ she said fervently. that she had aired any doubts.’ She looked at Hilary with a troubled expression.’ ‘I’m sorry to hear that.’ ‘One would like to hope so.’ replied Gillian. at least in public. with an anxious eye to her friend. Joyce says she has forgotten what it was like to see her fit and well.castle from time to time. ‘It is a dreadful disease. Gill! Don’t even begin to think otherwise. ‘It was quiet. Hilary! How was half-term?’ called Gillian Linton. spying the Second Prefect in the corridor after Abendessen. Gillian had always maintained a positive attitude towards her mother’s illness. Hilary!’ she murmured gratefully. ‘She has always had off-days all through her illness. ‘She has access to the best of doctors and all the latest treatments as you have just said. ‘I do hope it does the trick for your mother.’ ‘That sounds promising’. Had did you get on? And how is Mrs Linton?’ returned Hilary. isn’t she?’ quiered Hilary. ‘Oh. She is bound to have given him a jolly good idea of schoolgirl behaviour!’ ‘Well. Die Rosen seemed very empty without them.’ replied Gillian reasonably.

‘But she does have her place within the Russell family and we all miss her sunshiny little character. seeing it as a challenge. Evening activities such as Hobbies Clud. Gillian urged Hilary to tell her about the expedition to Kufstein and Hilary was only too pleased to oblige. It had started as a result of comments made by Ida Reaveley. The House Prefects in particular became very excited at the prospect of winning Madame’s cup for such a worthy cause and each immediately called a meeting of her House to work out a strategy for increasing the production of goods. one day. quite!’ nodded the present Head Girl. She had plenty of common sense for her age. the other Prefects took her statement seriously and. The Prefects’ enthusiasm was infectious and soon much of the girls’ free time was taken up with all manner of creative handiwork. She had half-jokingly boasted to the other House Prefects that Ste Thérèse’s was going to make more items for the Sale than the rest of the Houses put together. ******************** In general. You never know!’ Suddenly realising that it was getting late. quite the opposite!’ said Gillian. Perhaps she will grow stronger and Dr Jem will allow her to return to Briesau. The new House arrangements no longer seemed so strange to the girls and they settled in quickly.’ ‘Oh. helped foster a common spirit as the older girls were encouraged to help the younger ones and each House worked busily to produce as many items as possible for the Sale of Work. From that day onwards it became a contest. smiling at the thought. we do not know what the future will hold for her. if not Head Girl. now held in the individual Houses. grabbing the chance to steer the conversation away from Mrs Linton. quite a few now openly admitted to enjoying the new set-up.‘I can’t believe that Robin is a very noisy person. She announced that Mrs Russell would be presenting a special cup to the House that created the largest number and variety of items per girl for presentation to the Sale of Work. She discussed it with Miss Annersley. This year. Word of the unofficial competition had reached Madame at half-term and it had given her an idea. ‘Of course Robin is not a loud child.’ ‘I see what you mean and I agree with you. Joey . Moreover. which was held in the Spring Term of each year. even at thirteen. Still. The Sale of Work was very close to the hearts of the girls for all the proceeds went towards the funding of a bed in the free ward at the Sanatorium and each year they strove to make and sell more crafts in an effort to better the total of the previous year. And she is not so little nowaday! Robin is growing in a charming girl I had a long chat with her when she came down from the Sonnalpe to say goodbye before half-term. thirteen isn’t she? It’s a pity that she will have to stay up at the Annexe for the remainder of her schooldays. Naturally.’ laughed Hilary. for I can see her shaping up into a fine Prefect. Where old friends had been separated resentment still lingered.yes! She is guaranteed to liven up everybody’s day. there was a further incentive in the shape of intense inter-House rivalry: each House was determined to outdo the others. but even among those girls it was lesesing to a great extent as new friendships were being forged in place of old. the second half of term started off relatively peacefully. who duly reported to the School following the girls’ return from the half-term holiday. Just as she was finishing the bell rang for evening prayers. ‘There is an exceptional gravity about Robin. they returned to their respective Houses full of dogged resolve to prove Ida wrong. The competition between the Houses became so great that girls .

Giovanna had great pride in her House and she was not going to allow the English girl to dictate terms to her.’ ‘That is not so. but they accepted the outcome of this too with dignity. and if you still cannot decide which House is going to take responsibility for which section. Dark mutterings about espionage were expressed when it was discovered that two Houses had embarled on the same project. the two Head Prefects concerned. neither are we going to drop the idea. We are planning to sell each page singly. ‘For a start. Considering that it would be a good time to emphasis the importance of cooperation. It is tre that Gillian did have to toss a coin to deicde the matter of the sections. Although she liked Nancy. thought it wise to discuss the problem before it got out of hand. we had better try and work out a compromise.’ cried Giovanna with exasperation. and reluctantly the Prefects came to the conclusion that it had been a case of nothing more sinister than great minds thinking alike.’ she began. she acted decisively. she described the arguments over the recipes. When Giovanna and Nancy had finished giving their points of view. it is plainly futile to be wasting precious time arguing about it. As a member of St Clare’s she was already fully aware of the argument. Thus a potentional battle of the recipes was averted.’ replied Giovanna hotly. I can tell you honestly that no one has been spying on you. Nancy. by any chance? I’m sure you could think of something else to do instead. ‘St Scholastika’s are pretty annoyed.’ ‘Well. It is evident that neither of you is going to back down to alllow the other to compile the recipe sheets. ‘I’d better warn you straight away that they feel that your House has pinched their idea. and wah’t more.’ said Nancy.’ The Head Girl spole with authority and neither Nancy nor Giovanna dared to raise objections. our idea.’ ‘We are going to do exactly the same thing. causing the two protagonists to turn bright red with embarrassment. As an example of how not to proceed. With both Houses in a high state of indignation over the matter and neither inclined to back down. therefore I am going to suggest that you divide the recipes into two sections. then I shall toss a coin and you shall call for it. Gio.’ sighed Nancy. which turned out to be a volume of recipe sheets.were forbidden to make mention of their work outside the confines of their own House as each one endeavoured to come up with fresh and innovative ideas. Giovanna and Nancy had learnt a valuable lesson and after that they were very careful to ensure that any rumours of . one savoury and one sweet. ‘This is so unfair!’ Into the middle of their argument entered Gillian Linton. Investigations were conducted within St Clare’s and St Scholastika’s but no loose-tongued culprits could be found.’ she said hopefully. Sensing a less than friendly atmosphere between the two girls. but she listened to both sides without comment.’ snapped back Nancy. all this suspicion is souring relations between our two Houses. ‘Our recipes are going to be handwritten on separate pieces of paper and illustrated by our best artists. ‘I don’t suppose you would like to withdraw St Clare’s version.’ protested Giovanna. Gillian called a meeting of the Prefects the following day and exhorted them to seek immediate solutions to any future conflicts that might arise. disappoined that Giovanna was not going to give in gracefully. ‘We thought of a volume of recipes quite independently. ‘That is out of the question. Nancy Wilmot and Giovanna Donati. My girls feel just as angry. ‘Well. However. she asked if anything was wrong. ‘I really think we should get this affair sorted now once and for all.

‘But I am certain that I have the correct recipe here. for the Seniors were generous with their time and assistance and no one. most of the other contributions for the Sale were thankfully not subject to contention. while Evadne Lannis. Although she had unwittingly started the trouble subsequently Frau Mieders proved to be of great assistance to the whole project for she insisted on vetting all the recipes before they were let loose on the public at large. There were many talented girls within the School capable of producing beautifully crafted work and fortunately they were more or less evenly spread between the Houses. Corney had insisted that it was correct and in the end volunteered to settle the issue by checking with Frau Mieders.crunchy cookie?’ Corney pleaded. Frau Mieders had wondered aloud if the recipe was a little complicated and suggested that the girls should content themselves with writing simpler recipes such as St Clare’s were doing. wood-carving. much used. being the smallest. Frau Mieders? Don’t you think people will enjoy eating a. If you make your biscuits without it they will be hard and unpalatable. the Domestic Science Mistress. Even those girls who were not particularly gifted managed to create passable goods. St Agnes’ House. which greatly pleased its Prefect.’ wailed Cornelia in despair. smirked. ‘There is no raising agent. they are nearly as old as the Pilgrim Fathers!’ ‘Nevertheless the recipe is incomplete. was left to struggle alone. who required help. Emphatically. who had accompanied her. . as she knew it would be impossible to compete on equal terms with the other Houses. family recpie for cookies handed in by Cornelia Flower. had been assured that it would be judged on its own efforts when the time came to present Madame’s cup.copying ideas were firmly quashed and as a result no more scurrilous accusations were hurled between Houses. cupboards throughout the School buildings began to fill up with embroidered items. which appeared to be missing an important ingredient. leather work. That the recpie crisis had arisen in the first place was due to an entirely innocent remark by Frau Mieders. The recipe pages apart.. scanned Cornelia’s scrap of paper with interest before exclaiming with dismay. Kindly Frau Mieders then tried to console Corniela by telling her about Irma von Rothenfels’ overcomplicated recipe. the girls had raced back to their House to report the terrible news. the Sixth Formers at St Clare’s had been arguing over an old. lacework. ‘But. water-colour sketches. Before long.’ chortled Evadne before Frau Mieders was able to reply. Irene Silksworth. ‘Not if they have to pay a visit to the dentist afterwards. you cannot use this!’ Poor Cornelia looked crestfallen. A deputation sent from St Scholastika’s had sought the Mistress’s advice on a recipe submitted by Irma von Rothenfels for Kaiserschmarren.’ ‘Are you sure they need raising agent. The more difficult or unusual recpies she actually prepared herself and the Staff in particular appreciated her efforts as they were prevailed upon to express their opinions of the dishes. who had already seen and approved some of St Clare’s recipes. In shocked disbelief. pottery. shredded pancake with almonds and raisins. scrap-books and countless other pieces of handiwork. Cornelia.’ explained Frau Mieders patiently. ‘These cookies have been made for generations. Why. In the meantime.. but she succeeded only in letting two cats out of two bags in one day. Frau Mieders.

Eventually Prince Balbani had been forced to take action to curb the unruly behaviour of his children and he determined that the twins should be separated and subjected to scholarly discipline.’ enthused the Head Girl. Without a word. the twins were not found until it was too late for them to see their mother alive. ‘Who taught you to sew like this?’ Tears came into Maria’s eyes as she replied. Embarrassingly.There was one small girl in St Clare’s who had not settled down well to school life. ‘May I see your work?’ she asked gently. far from being a scrappy affair. ‘Maria. when the session ended. conducting a private vendetta against the School. On top of all that she was still getting over her mother’s death. That had been particularly painful for Maria to bear for she had to live with the knowledge that. stabbing away abstractedly at a piece of cloth with her needle. but having done so now. during the first week of the second half of term.’ she exclaimed. for she imagined that Maria would have settled into the School and made some friends by this time. To her astonishment. at first Gillian had not seen the small girl. she handed the embroidery over. and her twin brother Mario. On the very day of her death. ‘Mamma taught me. Maria did not appear to be at all happy. It was especially hard for Maria for she was devoted to Mario and had never before been separated from him. although so far she had concentrated her efforts on assisting the older Middles. begging Gillian to return next time. their mother died with her final wish unfulfilled. during which Maria had not once attempted to elicit any help. Gillian. As a consequence. Too busy dealing with Juniots demanding her assistance. I had no idea you were so talented. ‘It is nothing. although she had kept out of trouble during the first half of the term and so had not attracted the attention of the Prefects. Gillian was surprised. After a few evenings. To their delight she agreed and in fact continued to call in regularly to see how they were getting on for the rest of the term. ‘This is really lovely. her name was well known throughout the School for she was Maria Balbani.’ she muttered. Maria and Mario had taken it into their silly heads to kidnap baby Sybil Russell and carry her as far away from the Tiernsee as possible. had volunteered to give extra help to the Juniors and Middles. had made thorough nuisances of themselves during the previous Summer Term. After a brief . It had come to Gillian Linton’s notice that dark-haired Maria was not making much progress with her piece of embroidery. She knew all about Princess Balbini and realised that the child was suffering badly still. Nevertheless.’ Gillian was silent as she studied Maria’s sad little face. The younger girls were pleased to get the full attention of their Head Girl and. due to an act of naughtiness. However. Mario was sent off to school in England and Maria found herself at the Chalet School. Maria raised her big black eyes to meet the Head Girl’s.’ Maria was unimpressed by the compliment. Maria reproached herself bitterly for her wicked behaviour that day and it still preyed on her mind from time to time. on the cloth was embroidered a beautiful bird. in common with the other Prefects in St Clare’s House. Maria. To the elder girl’s mind. despite much searching of the surrounding area. she began to keep a close eye on her. It was during one of her early visits to their common room that Gillian observed Maria Balbani seated by herself. Giovanna asked the Head Girl if she could spend an evening with the Junions. Gillian decided to take action and she walked over to speak to her. ‘But that’s where you are wrong! You have real gift for sewing. her new school happened to be the very one in which she had caused such havoc just a few months earlier. Thus in the autumn. nor did any of her fellow Juniors bother very much with her. left to their own devices by a grieving father who spent most of his time with their mother as she lay dying in the Santorium. a young Italian girl of noble birth. Gillain looked at it intently.

’ she added with feeling. ‘I am sorry about your Mamma. I remember Mamma and it hurts me.. I do not want you to be unhappy. started to appeal as she recalled Gillian’s very different opinions of the San. for I can vouch for the devotion of the nursing Staff.pause. Calmly and sympathetically she invited Maria to explain her comment. so repugnant at first. You have bad memories of it. you might like to present a sampler of her work and your own to the San in rememberance of your mother and your own appreciation of the care she received there. Apart from anything else. ‘She used to embroider animals and birds and scenes for me. nonetheless.. But the Sale of Work is very important.’ Maria’s eyes flashed with anger.’ ‘Would you be prepared to part with a sample or two?’ enquired Gillian. Maria!’ she said. ‘Why. After a few days’ consideration. Gillian.’ ‘Do you think so?’ asked Maria uncertainly. ‘Instead of selling your work. Think it over and let me know what you decide. The girls here never talk about anything else. ‘I do not want anything to do with that place!’ If Gillian was shocked by her reaction she did not show it. Gillian smiled at the child.’ said the little girl shyly. ‘I told you I hate the Sanatorium. she spoke once more. ‘Trust me. she would not be alive now. finally she came to a decision: she would do the sampler.’ she murmured. Maria was astounded at the suggestion.’ Maria looked at the Head Girl in surprise. ‘Well done.’ replied Maria. ‘It makes no differenec. ‘Do you have any of your mother’s needlework?’ she asked unexpectedly. Would you prefer not to contribute to the Sale of Work?’ Maria shrugged her shoulders. Maria. ‘I can see that it must be very difficult for you.’ Gillian pondered the problem for a minute or so. for she did not know that Mrs Linton was ill. Her initial reaction was one of anger. ‘No you don’t. but she could see that Gillian was being serious. The idea.’ ‘Thank you. it would be a lasting tribute to your mother and people would be able to admire her work and yours as well. but it is a place of hope as well. for through out efforts we are able to give a gravely ill person a chance of recovery. Everybody here is doing work for it.’ .’ she spluttered. I do not want to be reminded of it all the time.’ ‘Mmm. ‘I am looking forward to adding my sewing next to Mamma’s beautiful work.’ ‘You poor kid!’ responded Gillian compassionately. your father believed that she should have that chance. ‘You will not regret it. But every time I look at a needle. I know you will feel different about it all if you can bring yourself to understand that. ‘Always the talk is about the Sale of Work.’ Maria thought about Gillian’s proposal very deeply. Gillian was delighted to hear the news. naturally. and if she had not been able to come out to the Sonnalpe from England two years ago. ‘Thanks! But Maria. ‘It must give you some comfort to know that your embroidery will be sold in aid of the Sanatorium. Gillian. They want me to sew and sew and sew. so I should be reminded of it anyway. Your mother was teken to the San for that reason. My mother is up there at this moment. She died in that horrible place. and although tragically she did not respond to the treatment. yes! She did so muc.

‘May I not warm them up for a minute or two?’ ‘There is no time.’ ‘No we couldn’t. great porcelain stoves had been lit several days beforehand to ward off the impending bitter chill and naturally the girls tended to huddle around them whenever they got the chance. footpaths became bured under colourful carpets and local children delighted in running knee-deep through them. however. However. A dainty little girl of fairy-like appearance. during which the leaves of the deciduous trees around Briesau turned from summer green to glorious autumn tints of gold. and ten days after the half-term holiday a cool air descended on the lakeside as the wind changed direction. Indeed. ‘Nowhere else would be as cold as this. Contrary to her assertion.’ ‘Oh. As the leaves started to fall.’ same a muffled answer from the cubicle opposite. Accustomed to their regular daily walks.’ retorted Violet.’ she protested. the pupils of the Chalet School were dismayed to wake up one morning to torrential rain. for she was feeling rather cold herself. This balmy interlude was not expected to last. Four years later the Annexe opened at the Sonnalpe for delicate children. ruthlessly ordered her reluctant charges out of their beds. ‘I think I’ll stay here nice and cosy under my plumeau. Jeanne. The rain continued for five days more or less continuously and the girls spent much time peering out through dripping windowpanes in the hope of glimpsing a break in the thick clouds that shrouded the mountains from view.’ groaned Amy. if you are still cold after Frühstück. Amy Steven. Amy. In the lower rooms. the Prefect on duty. You know that you must not run any risks. had been moved there with the expectation that her . and Amy. ‘The temperatuve is positively sweltering compared to mid-winter. had come to the Chalet School way back in its very first term. I suggest that you go and see Matron Rider.’ Now fifteen years old. Your hands will soon heat up. ‘You would not believe that we lived in the Alps. pulling the bedclothes over her head. but was diverted to her table by Jeanne le Cadoulec. as you jolly well know. the dormitory wa not particularly warm and consequently the girls were even quicker than usual with their morning bath in their haste to get dressed and down to the heated Speisesaal.’ ‘It isn’t that cold.’ responded Jeanne apologetically. and russet and crimson. until six-yearold Robin Humphries arrived on the scene the following Autumn Term. she had been the youngest in the School. at the tender age of eight. ‘Please go to your seat. don’t remind me about winter. the younger sister of Margia. ‘We could be anywhere in the world. Amy. ‘But my hands are absolutely freezing. made an attempt to head for the stove.’ grumbled Violet Allison one morning as she flung back the curtains in her dormitory to confront the same old blanket of greyness. The rising bell will go at any moment. arriving downstairs with the rest of her dormitory. Amy Stevens. the Prefect of Mountain Ash dormitory.Chapter XIII A Wild Night The Tiernsee had been enjoying unusually mild weather for some weeks.’ Seconds later a bell rang somewhere below the dormitory in confirmation of this stateme and Violet. I think. who had suffered frequent debilitating colds. at which time she had thankfully relinquished the soubriquet of school baby.’ ‘No you won’t! It’s almost time to get up.

Just over a year ago. Amy was very fond of the Head of the Annexe. In addition. but as she always appeared to get away with no ill-effects. which she had spent at Die Rosen with another Annexe friend. Although glad to be back with her adored elder sister Margia. as a popular Head Girl of the Chalet School. Now. to the relief of Matron. and although she had not submitted another since. whose fragile health also required her to attend the Annexe. To Amy’s happiness. she was enjoying life and had become chummy with Yvette Mercier in particular. Once or twice she wondered if she was catching something nasty. Juliet Carrick. despite her good intentions. foreign correspondany of a large London daily newspaper. little by little she began to relax her own self-imposed rules. she had carried on composing poetry for her own pleasure. With great satisfaction. . but Amy found it harder than most to keep warm. with very mixed feelings. for she did not want to report herself to Matron. Dr Russell had congratulated Amy. as she st down behind the pretty French girl.general health would soon improve in the clear mountain air and she would once more be fit enough to return to the main School. Yvette!’ she whispered. reacquainted with the old School ways once more. at first she had missed Robin’s company and intimacy of the much smaller Annexe which rather suited her disposition. had shown the younger girls much kindness. but hastily dismissed the thought for she had developed none of the usual symptoms associated with a cold and assumed that she was merely taking longer to acclimatise to the wintry conditions. ‘Bonjour. occasionally she did run the odd risk. However. Amy had managed to keep herself free from colds. though their friendship was suffering the strain of separation as Yvette had been placed in St Clare’s this term. but she was quietly encouraged in her efforts by her father. before the bginning of the Autumn Term. Amy had announced the fact to Dr Russell during the half-term holiday. the hot milky coffee served at Frühstück warmed her hands nicely as she clutched the large cup tightly. Lorenz Maïco. As there was no possibility of a walk during the present inclement wather. Amy possessed a certain amount of pride and she did not like to admit that she might not be feeling well. Apart from anything else. she headed for her classroom. During the first three terms back at Briesau. bouyantly happy about her state of health. who recognised that the highly musical Margia was not the only talented daughter in his family. Amy held the distinction of having written a verse for the first edition of The Chaletian. a year later. Amy. The damp chill of the last few days had caught everyone at the School by surprise owing to the mildness of the eather thay had been enjoying hitherto. She had been happy with the new arrangement. while she was away in St Scholastika’s. It was no coincidence that she was the daughter of a distinguished journalist. She was greatly releived. Charles Stevens. lessons started half-an-hour ealier than usual and. but had warned her that she should always be on her guard against infection. Dr Russell had pronounced Amy strong enough for the rigous of life at Briesau once more and so. at fourteen Amy felt too grown-up to make a fuss and accepted the decision without demur. who had kept a vigilant watch on the schoolgirl for the smallest sign of a snuffle. had readily agreed for she did not wish to retun to the bad old days of sore throats and streaming colds. who. Whether or not she would make a career out of writing was a question Amy herself could not answer. after tidying up her cubicle. for Amy had a feeling for words that was remarkable in a girl of her age. she had said goodbye to the Annexe. for she was not as gregarious as Margia. Still. for it meant that she could still be with her great friend Robin.

Yvette Mervier. however. Arriving at the scene.’ Amy looked at Yvette. Amy. ‘It was a complete accident. ‘Mon Dieu!’ muttered Mademoiselle. Fortunately. she was not hurt. before extricating poor Yvette from the bottom of the heap. No. the form-room was back to normal once more and peacefulness restored. If Amy and Yvette thought that they were going to get away without an explanation. I kicked my . the authoritires had been determined that she not over-exert herself by advancing up the School too rapidly for her own good. Mademoiselle had no intention of holding an inquest until after the mess had been cleared up and both girls had undergone a change of clothing. During her illnesses. Alas. who had happened to be lying on top of most of the artefacts. Amy’s uniform was a sight to behold for ink had splashed over her gymslip. so I took off my shoe to rub it. at that moment. to her delight. Mademoiselle Lachenais sprang a comprehension test on the girls. had emptied its contents over her before breaking into pieces and she was soaked to the skin. Nonetheless. Her eyes fell on the far corner of the room where Amy and Yvette normally were seated. spilt ink. an enormous crashing sound followed by a shreik had everyone jumping up from her seat. got on with marking their prep and did not bother to glance around the toom to see if everything was as it should be. she came upon a tangle of upturned chairs. a picture and a smashed vase of autumn twigs and late blooms. pulling various girls out of her way as she advanced. As she read through the passge. and soon proved to be above average in most subjects.’ she said nervously ‘No! It was my fault. Amy realised that it was not going to be as difficult as she first feared and she set about answering the questions with confidence. Her year at the Annexe had made up for any gaps in her education. smiled at Amy in her friendly manner as she opened her book in preparation for the first lesson of the day. By the time the two shamefaced girls reappeared. ‘Et maintenant. that she was once more with her former schoolmates. two dazed girls. the vase. mon enfant ?’ Amy shook her head. Mademoiselle. expecting no juvenile interruptions from the girls. mindful of her previous delicate state of health. Mademoiselle. broom and bucket to be fetched and the process of cleaning and sweeping up the debris began. but at the present time appeared to have vanished. But worse. and. much to the disgust of the non-French girls in the Form. Halfway through the lesson. ‘I have a chiblain on my toe. which was French with Mademoiselle Lachenais. a generously proportioned receptacle. Mademoiselle. and it was itching. books. Then she ordered a mop. ‘Amy! Êtes-vous blessée. Amy had missed a lot of lessons and as a result had fallen behind with her schoolwork and had been obiliged to remain in the same Form for a second year while most of her contemporaries had been promoted.’ she said sternly. she would have struggled to give a coherent explanation. If Mademoiselle had. when she returned to the Chalet School she found. mes petites. only in a state of shock. decided to ask her what had happened. Uttering many exclamations.’ interjected Yvette. Mademoiselle bent down and picked up first Amy. however. Mademoiselle beckoned them over to her desk at once. She dashed over to that part of the room. Without further ado she directed them to go back to their Houses to remove their wet uniforms. ‘Tell me what you were doing to cause such a disturbance. the younger sister of Suzanne. they were sadly mistaken. looking wildly around to locate the site of the commotion.

Thus. Mademoiselle scolded Yvette for trying to scratch her chiblain. but her parents ignored her pleas. The following lesson. which should ave been left to its own devices. Amy and Yvette ceased to be heroines of the hour and they crept out of the form-room at break determined to keep a low profile for the remainder of the day. ‘My pen had run out and I was refilling it. ‘Unfortunately I overbalanced too and my chair slipped from under me and somehow I managed to end up underneath the contents of the vase. Amy had been less than keen. We really are very sorry for causing such a mess. But she was a fair-minded soul and moreover she was experienced in the ways of schoolgirls. Nevertheless. seeing that Yvette was beginning to flounder. once regarded with dread. she dug out a copy and read the play with a growing sense of enlightenment. It was plain that Amy and Yvette had not been acting up deliberately and that it was just a mishap. and in fact had implored to be taken to a George Bernard Shaw play instead. Not that they got away without censure.. It was not as bad as she feared. It is on record that no pupil ever misbehaved in the presence of the Head Mistress and indded it would have been foolhardy in the extreme to have attempted to play a trick under her nose for she possessed a sixth sense where mischief-marking was concerned. Despite her love of English. for she had taken a dislike to The Tempest at the age of eleven and it had been an uphill struggle for her to approach his other plays with an sense of appreciation. In consequence of that fortuitous trip to the theatre the Five B set play. and so to the Shakespeare play she went. her enthusiasm had been detected by Miss Annersely. thankfully. was uneventful. I put out my hand to try and save myself and by mistake grabbed the piture hanging on the wall beside me and pulled it off the wall. even if she was quite diffident about it in public. although it would have been extraordinary for anything untoward to happen in Miss Annersley’s English class.’ Mademoiselle was sorry too.’ ‘And I saw what was happening and tried to save the vase. After that bombshell. Five B got on with their reading of A Midsummer Night’s Dream without disruption. It hit the beautiful vase and. in addition to the exercise Mademoiselle had originally planned for them. Amy was a voracious reader and often got through the lists so rapidly so that Miss Ammersely was sometimes at a loss to suggest new titles. But all in all they got off lightly. indeed the fine actors gave the Bard’s words meaning beyond anything she had experienced before. During the previous summer holiday her parents had taken her to the theatre to see a production of As You Like It. A Midsummer Night’s Dream. proved to be anything but a nightmare for Amy.’ added Amy helpfully. And Amy was told to concentrate on her work in future instead of looking around for trouble. I don’t know how!’ ‘And the spilt ink?’ wondered Mademoiselle. and Amy began to value his work for the first time in her life. and she encouraged the girl to read widely. . Mademoiselle.. The rest of the Form found the calamity and time-wasting most amusing until they discovered that they were going to haVe to finish the comprehension test during prep.shoe out of reach and in trying to get it back I tilted my chair sideways and I lost my balance. Arrived back home. ‘I knocked over the inkwell with my arm as I reached out to catch the picture. Shakespeare had been something of a problem for Amy. often giving her lists of books over and above those she recommended for the whole Form.’ explained Amy. Amy enjoyed English literature with a passion similar to Margia’s love for the piano.

. then the southeast. its pale silvery light illuminating the gently rippling water. At half-past two in the morning the girls were awakened by a terrfying roar. ‘In German. a Scottish girl and great friend of Violet answered.’ replied Miss Denny reprovingly. Vi?’ asked an alarmed Kitty Burnett. My brothers are mad on astronomy and they are always hauling me outside on winter nights at home to view the stars. you idiot!’ laughed Violet. In their confusion. ‘Oh. The gale force wind was gaining strength by the minute and was becoming so loud that they could no longer hear each other across the dormitory. for German was not her favourite subject and she only managed to get by on German days with a good deal of improvisation.. ‘What did you say?’ yelled Violet. for slowly but surely the light northerly wind veered round to the east. thank goodness. In St Scholastika’s. ‘Where?’ ‘In the sky. abruptly sitting bolt upright in her bed. ‘Ist das Gewitter.’ continued Violet.!’ cried Amy. Violet?’ squeked Kitty in panicky tones.In the afternoon. gathering momentum as it did so. suddenly wishing that she had lept her mouth shut. ‘It’s a constellation called Ursa Major: The Great Bear. taking one more loook around before pulling the curtains across the window. The moon slipped behind a bank of cloud and the lake vanished into darkness. highly relived to hear that there was not some hugepawed furry fellow prowling around inquisitively in the School grounds. The rain had stopped and a gibbous moon shone out over the Tiernsee. ‘The sky is clear and I can see The Big Bear! Oh. a rumble of thunder could be discerned in the distance. The thunder did not develop into a full-scale storm. Kitty. and there’s Cassiopeia too!’ ‘Did you say you saw a bear.’ burst out yellow-haired Dorothy Bentham. ******************** By bedtime for the Seniors. ‘It’s a thunderstorm. However. during the German lesson. confounding the hopes of some of the girls who would have been more than happy to have a distraction from their studies.’ she added by way of explanation. please. they had been unable to distinguish the sound. ‘No more thunder at this rate. I see!’ responded Kitty. the thunder had at last disappeared. squinting through the glass to get a better view.’ she announced. ‘It’s the wind.’ At that moment another massive squall hit the building and the walls shook with the force of the assault.’ With that she went over to the main light switch and snapped it off. ‘It’s a beautiful night now. unable to keep the exciting intelligence to herself. great rumbles rang out around the mountains every so often throughout the afternoon and early evening to remind everybody that it had not yet gone away. . ‘We should have a quiet night. ‘What is that noise. I’ve heard it often at home when a storm whips up out of the sea. ‘Goodnight! Sleep well!’ The night had other ideas. ‘I never thought that you could get such wild storms in Central Europe. Miss Denny paused in the middle of a discourse on reflexive verbs to listen.’ stumbled Dorothy.’ remarked Amy. Grete MacDonald. Dorothy. Miss Denny. ‘What on earth. Violet Allison looked out of the window of her dormitory to admire the scene.

‘Are you all right. She hoped fervently that the builders had used strong enough materials. ‘Well. she went over to the light switch to turn it on. Amy fought with the door. Miss Soames. In the corner cubilce. was found to be in a staet and Violet was obilged to stay and comfort her. Shards of broken glass littered the floor. she picked her way through the debris to the other girls. interuppting her thoughts. Amy ventured to slide her hand under her pillow and fished out her torch. nothing happened. Vi!’ she shouted. ‘The electric light isn’t working. Only one. so she pulled out a drawer and grabbed a woollen jumper. Without a thought for her own safety. ‘But the window has been blown in and there is glass all over the dormitory floor. To her disappointment. ‘Amy!’ cried Stacie Benson. ‘Yes. she was practically propelled through it and shot out into the corridor to discover it full of girls from neighbouring dormitories.’ Amy looked up and saw Miss Soames advancing towards her with a hurricane lantern. a Sub-Prefect. all shivering and looking thoroughly miserabl. a little girl of nervous disposition. though. be sure to keep yourself warm. Amy?’ enquired the House Mistress anxiously. struck the side of the building. but her words were lost in the wind. Amy shone her torch around the dormitory in an effort to see if anyone had been hurt by flying glass. she pushed her feet into her slippers and stretched over to her chair for her gown. Marie Varick. Violet was having a difficult time trying to pacify a now hysterical Mare. Marie Varick is very upset. It seemed that everything in the dormitory was being tossed about as the girls cowered in their beds. Suddenly a torch beam lit up her cubicle. more powerful that any before. completely drowning out the screams of the poor frightened girls. ‘There you are! I was just telling Miss Soames that I hadn’t seen anyone from your dormitory. Amy could not help wondering if they would be able to withstand the terrible battering they were receiving. covering their faces from the cruel might of the wind. thanks. St Scholastika’s was a new chalet. The tempest blew and the walls of the building juddered with each violent gust. along with many personal possessions.’ directed the Dormitory Prefect. A terrible sound of shattering glass could be heard above the defening roar.’ bellowed Violet. Instantly a great rush of wind blew though the dormitory. Deciding that she must go and seek help. She found it and switched it on. The damage wrought by the gale brought forth a loud gasp from her lips and she stared at the gaping window frame. Quickly hauling it over her head. for just as she was striving to reassure a fretful Marie that the storm would soon blow itself out. thank you. Violet mouthed a reply.’ she shouted to Violet. Amy felt it was her duty to lend a hand.’ shouted Amy at the top of her voice. ‘Well. obviously it is. ‘I said I didn’t think that it was possible to have such terrible winds so far inland. Finally forcing it open. To her annoyance it had disappeared. Finding that they were terrified but otherwise unscathed. a ferocious gust of wind. As it was obvious that Violet had her hands full and would be unable to take control for a while. Amy?’ asked Violet. It was the greatest stroke of fortune that she was out of her cubicle and therefore away from the window. This was the first time that it had experienced a storm. and everything was soaking wet. through tattered floral curtains.’ replied Amy. having been constructed only in the summer. as she left to check the well-being of the occupants of the five other cubicles. ‘Yes. . catching the curtains f the cubicles and thrusting them aloft. ‘Are you all right.‘I said. After a couple of minutes.

the door opened and in came Matron Lloyd. Two minutes later. Amy. The girls accepted the hot drinks gratefully. Stay here and I will go and fetch them out. I came out to find you. ‘Girls!’ she raised her voice in order to be heard above the incessant din. ‘We are going to go over to Hall. Half-carrying the distraught Marie. ‘If you hadn’t gone to fetch Miss Soamers. carrying a large jorum of hot milk in each hand. were busily laying out enough blankets and pillows for everyone. but Marie was clinging to me and refusing to move from the cubicle. and through the communicating passage away from St Scholastika’s. ‘Thanks. The others are unhurt. stumbling occasionally over pieces of furniture in the darkness.’ ‘The storm has blown down the lines. Not knowing what to do. they arrived in Hall. Amy!’ said Violet gratefully. so we wouldn’t have had long to wait even if I hadn’t gone out. having raided the Guides’ camping equipment stores. listening to the storm ragain above the skylights in the roof. Rapidly. . the girls stood about.’ With that succinct injunction. she found Matron Rider and handed the little girl over to her tender care.’ At that moment. I’m afraid. bearing lanterns or torches. and within a short time. that members of Staff. Please follow me.’ ‘Oh. the Head Mistress. in spite of the discomfort of the firm wooden floor. Eventually. ‘Miss Soames was on her way to rescue us anyway. having been alerted to the pandemonium in St Scholastika’s by Miss Elliot. Miss Annersley. and found. appeared on the scene.’ She plunged though the door and soon returned with six dishevelled girls in her wake. Miss Annersley allocated the makeshift ‘beds’ and ordered the girls to lie down and wrap themselves in the blankets.’ said Amy modestly. she led to way down the stairs. worn out by the excitement of the night’s events. It was slightly quiter in the corridor and Amy was pleased to be able to engage in conversation with Violet without having to bellow. collecting girls from other dormitories on the way. and the electric light isn’t working. I didn’t do anything much. Oh. all sixty fell fast asleep. she might not have known we were in trouble. A maid followed with two more and yet another carried a trayful of mugs. to their astonishment. I don’t think I could have stood the wind and cold and damp much longer.and Violet is with her.

We transferred them to Hall in the middle of the worst of it and they are still sleeping. many years before we have another of such intensity. mein Fraulein. Thankfully none of the girls was injured. practised in the art of dealing with her cook. ‘Oh. he strode over to join her to survey for himself the distressing scene. Karen was busy rattling the saucepans with her customary zeal as she baged each one down on the great hotplate in readiness for use. She could hardly bring herself to contemplate the appalling consequences of Herr Braun’s statement. Miss Annersley looked away and closed her eyes. Miss Annersley. ‘The young ladies. the storm subsided to a light breexe with the approach of dawn.’ said Herr Braun at length. ‘It is a blessing that it happened during the night. On the ground floor every single window in the front of the building had been smashed and on the first floor three windows were missing. It will be many. Please do not upset yourself. ‘If the hurricane had struck while Die Mädchen were in the Speisesaal or their common rooms. are they safe? Has any child been hurt?’ ‘No! No. Anxious though she was to inspect the damage. I think. that of Mountain Ash. Miss Annersley let herself out by the back door of Ste Thérèse’s and walked gingerly around the building. as he politely doffed his hat to her. ‘Der Liebe Gott!’ he exclaimed. Miss Annersely arose as soon as it was light enough to see and donned her clothes with speed. Herr Braun! Grüss Gott!’ she replied distractedly. So stunned was she that she did not hear the sound of footsteps behind her. Herr Braun. dodging uprooted shrubs. Kindly Herr Braun glanced at the Head and noted the look of anguish. After sorting out that minor difficulty. I fear that there would have been many wounded by breaking glass. ‘Believe me.’ Together they stared at the sorry spectacle that was St Scholastika’s. she had an urgent instruction to impart first and she hurried off in the direction of the kitchen in search of Karen the Cook to tell her to delay Frühstück. ‘Grüss Gott. Fraulein Annersley. However. Observing with consternation the shocked expression on her face. However. cajoled her diplomatically until Karen grudgingly agreed that the girls’ needs must come before domestic arrangements. standing a few yards away. other dormitory windos had been blown wide open to the elements.’ . Soon St Scholastika’s House came into full view and she stared at it in horrified amazement.Chapter XIV The Aftermath Having raged all night. I have never experienced a storm like it in all my years and I have seen many gales on the Tiernsee. The roof had also suffered some damage and a hole was apparent near one gable. for she wanted the girls to sleep on for as long as possible in order to make up for their very disturbed night. the proprieter of the Kron Prinz Karl hotel. He hastened to reassure her. small branches and sections of broken arbur strewn in her path as she made er way through the garden. and she was not altogether pleased to hear that her routine was going to be upset for the day. Winds such as we had last night do not occur once in fifty years. mein Fraulein!’ The Head swung around to see Herr Braun. although mercifully only one belong to a dormitory.

to keep up your strength. see that you do! If you refuse to rest then you must have some nourishment. Last night’s storm was but a freak of nature. at least. The other Houses were sheltered somewhat and I do know that the windows are all intact. St Scholastika’s is the only House squarely facing southeast and it took the full force of the storm.’ ‘There is no need to worry. he walked through the gate and headed back to the Kron Prinz Karl. Please allow me to arrange for the windows to be replaced. She had issued an urgent order that any girl with a window in her cubicle must be moved immediately to a safe area. Stopping at the gate. But nothing! I shall take leave of you now. the picture of neatness and efficiency in her starched uniform. mein Fraulein. no more windows had been broken.’ she added hurriedly. Smiling for the first time that morning. for the storm had disturbed everybody’s sleep and some of the younger girls had been badly affected by it. ‘Her Braun. Herr Braun. Fraulein.’ she replied with severity. everyone had been awakened and she found the House Mistresses and the Prefects working overtime in an effort to calm and reassure the younger girls in their care. I have enough to do without nursing Mistresses who neglect to take proper care of themselves. but the School remained silent and still. Naturally. but I am grateful that the damage I not worse.’ Good Herr Braun brushed aside all praise. Miss Annersley was much relieved. but as Miss Annersley predicted. The men who repair the Hotel are very good at their jobs and I can arrange for them to come here this very morning to cut new panes of glass and fit them in the window frames. ‘Hello Matey! No. But it is of vital importance that the weather is kept out for the snows will be with us soon enough. Hilda! You look exhausted. Have you had anything to eat yet?’ she demanded. ‘Well.Miss Annersley looked at the portly old hotelier with appreciation.’ He waved his hand towards the north of the lake.’ Miss Annersley thanked him profusely for his generous proposal. But I’m just going to ring for something now. Grüss Gott!’ And raising his hat once more to the Head Mistress. Rest was the greatest remedy and she was happy for them to sleep on all morning if necessary. which usually meant the girl transferring to a bed in the San. Herr Braun offered his assistance. Miss Annersley watched him for a few minutes before returning to Ste Thérèse’s. you are most kind. and satisfied only when she had seen the girls in question to their new quarters. They walked around all the Houses. with Herr Braun pointing out minor sites of damage here and there. it would save much time and trouble. After a short time the study door opened and in walked Matron Lloyd. she had returned to her own room to listen for each new blast of wind and to wait out the rest of the night in a high state of nervousness. . noting the glint in Matron’s eye.’ Miss Annersley had made sure of the fact. Shall we examine the other buildings?’ ‘A good idea! However. Winter will not be long now. ‘It is nothing. she had made a tour of each of the Houses in turn. I have discovered that the Kron Prinz Karl has lost part of its roof. Then you may begin the task of clearing up the rooms. I am greatly relieved to hear you say that. If I thought that we were likely to have another one of the same magnitude I would not be able to rest in my bed at night. I haven’t had a chance. It was now after eight o’clock. I came over here to see how you had fared for I feared that the School was exposed to the worst of the storm. ‘Those clouds yonder are laden with snow. I am at your services. If you would send your men over. ‘Indeed. ‘Fraulein Annersley. But I did not expect to see such destruction. The School is indebted to you once again. ‘Good morning. After seeing the St Scholastika’s girls safely to their new beds in Hall.

’ ‘Well. He has taken a huge weight of my shoulder.’ said Miss Stewart. I am more concerned about the dormitories. as you have just said.’ We managed to close thw windows of three of the dormitories. Con. although some of the latches will need to be fixed properly. It was very chaotic by all accounts. the Middles can help there. I suggest that you get the Seniors to help out. Matron left the three Mistresses to discuss matters. the girls will be up and about.. Matron! That is a good notion.’ Matron eyed the Head keenly.’ interjected Miss Wilson. so we do not need to disturb them for some time. especially the St Scholastika’s girls. All we have to do it clear up the affected rooms.’ reported Miss Wilson. that is what happened.’ she said briskly. Matey. Relieved that the Head was looking more like herself once more.’ nodded Matron approvingly. By the time they get to the others. playing cards and jigsaw pieces lying all over the place.’ said Miss Annersley.’ commented Miss Stewart.’ ‘Poor Mountain Ash looks devastated. ‘The Speisesaal is full of glass fragments. Those girls were standing around for a long time in that chill wind and not one of them was wearing warm clothes.’ ‘I am glad to hear it! Herr Braun is a true gentleman. ‘The fact that Middles are never a tidy bunch at the best of times hasn’t helped. ‘The jugsaw pieces can all be put in a box to be sorted out sometime and the same with the other bits and pieces. It could have been so much worse. he has! The men will start on St Scholastika’s as it is the most badly damaged of all the Houses.. the electricity failed on top of everything else and they were in a state of confusion. Matey. they will be repaired today.’ ‘The Middles’ common room is a complete and utter mess. He has always helped us out in crises. as you ought to know!’ Miss Annersley laughed. ‘We may be thankful that all we have to show for such a wicked night are some broken windows and the odd bit of damage to the roofs. I don’t mind admitting. Miss Wilson and Miss Stewart appeared. ‘Well. ‘Quite right.’ said Miss Annersley quietly. ‘They did not have time to dress. Four of them ave been exposed to the elements and .’ ‘Good! The longer they sleep the better. ‘Yes.’ At that moment. ‘It looks as though a typhoon has been through it. Many hands make light work. Besides. It must have been a terrfying experience for them.‘Don’t worry about me. ‘The floor got very wet and the tables and chairs need to be dried off. Miss Wilson and Miss Stewart had been through St Scholastika’s to examine the extent of the damage and they described what they had seen to Miss Annersley. it wasn’t. ‘Don’t forget. There are loos sheets of paper. ‘Obviousl the bedclothes will have to be changed and the rooms will need to be dried out thoroughly before we can consider allowing the girls to reoccupy them. Don’t dwell on what might have been Hilda. ‘Those girls were extremely lucky to get out without a scratch. It’ll take us an age to put everything right again. I hope that we do not end up with a crop of colds. for I hardly think too many girls will surface before then. Don’t worry about unimportant things. in effect. though. They can’t have had more than a few hours’ sleep before that dreadful wind blew up. And. I shall make an announcement after Frühstück…or rather Mittagessen. Who was in there?’ . I have just spoken with Herr Braun and he is going to arrange for the repair work to be completed today. Con. She was going to be very busy today and could not afford to waste her precious time chatting idly.

’ replied Miss Annersley promptly. The members of Mountain Ash dormitory spent the night in the San in unaccustomed comfort. with the School virtually back to normal. who usually could be relied on to make utter nuisances of themselves at the most . and by the time darkness fell. she continued to feel unwell and was prevented from returning to lessons. Marie Varick continued to suffer badly from shock and was nervy and inclined to weepiness for some days after the event.’ mused Miss Stewart. he recommended that Amy be transferred back up to the Annexe where she could be monitored closely. Amy Stevens. surprisingly. especially the little one. Thus Amy said a regretful goodbye to her Form and headed up the mountain road to the Sonnalpe to a warm and sympathetic welcome by Juilet Carrick and all her former Annexe pals. for Miss Annersley wanted the School to get back to normal as soon as possible. Con.’ continued Miss Annersley. all the broken windows in St Scholastika’s had been replaced and the roof repaired. on the whole. and after a thorough examination. Mary Shand. Marie. Marie Varick. Amy was upse to have to leave the School yet again and even more sorry to have to say au revoir to her good friend Yvette. we shall haave to find alternative acommodation for the seven of them in the meantime. The other victim was Amy Stevens. for a fire had been lit to provide extra warmth. But to return to business. the vast majority endured the unpleasant experience with no illeffects but there were two casualities. She kept head and went to summon help. good for her. thanks to Herr Braun. The others are. Miss Annersley decreed bedtime for the whole School aat twnety o’clock. ‘And. the Middles. Most were stiff and sore. To her distress. I must discuss arrangements with Matron Rider. Greta MacDonald. did she? Well.’ One by one throughout the morning. ******************** On the third day after the storm. Many of the girls missed out altogether on Frühstück but Karen had risen magnificently to the occasion and produced a piping hot Mittagessen of satisfying handsome proportions after which the collective mood cheered up considerably. She was taken out of School for a week and allowed to recover in the security of the San. any others whose dormitories are uninhabitable at present. having spent so many hours. ‘Hmm! Violet and Greta and Berta are all down-to-earth individuals and are unlikely to be greatly upset. rather timorous creatures. Two days after the incident. indeed! Now that she is no longer in Margia’s shadow she is blossoming into a quite personality. It had been a colossal endeavour and. including. The worst of the chaos inside had been tidied up and the Matrons of all the Houses had collaborated in getting the dormitory floors back to some semblance of normality and. lying on the unforgiving wooden floor and all felt tired and consequently somewhat irritable. the girls camping in Hall awoke to their strange surroundings. Lilli van Huysen and Berta Hamel. Lessons commenced in the afternoon for all the girls except the Sixth Formers. All in all. who were drafted into the clearing up operation. ‘You are wrong about Amy. since everybody was worn out. Eventually Dr Russell was called. thanks to everybody having played their part admirably. ‘Oh.‘Violet Allison.’ said the Head. but as Dr Jem reminded her. Robin would be returning from India in March with lots of interesting tales to tell and she would be one of the first to hear them all. habitability. of course.’ ‘Yes. she awoke with a slight fever and a rough feeling in her throat. Soon it developed into a heavy head cold and she was obliged to stay in the San for two weeks. in most cases. unable to shake it off properly.

joining in the conversation. only a small number. ‘She hasn’t told me. unable to have their normal walk. and among the girls present. Miss Annersley made a special announcement after prayers. ‘But I wouldn’t mind a speaking pary. nodding recognition of the fact. Gillian?’ asked Irene Silksworth.’ said Evadne. ‘Any idea what the Head wants us for.’ maintained Gillian. I quite fancy character acting.’ Noticing the blank expression on Irene’s face. she was tone deaf and didn’t appreciate music one little bit. requestig the School to assemble in Hall after Mittagessen. unless some of the younger develop into something special. had fallen the night before and the girls.inopportune of times. the Head Girl laughed and proceeded to elucidate. therefore.’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Of course. you know.’ she explained.’ nodded Evadne. the girls waited for Miss Annersley to appear.’ ‘I’m not sure if my voice is up to anything. And if you are a good singer you will be sure to get a solo part to sing. so confidently forecast by Herr Braun. ‘I’m sorry Irene.’ said Irene doubtfully. Irene! However. the School assembled in Hall. Eventually. The first snow of the winter. had any memories of her time as Head Mistress. when she had left School. The School applauded loudly and at great legnth and Mrs Russell smiled back happily as she scanned the rows of merry faces. She has always sung. So we had no chance of singing anything more daring than the National Anthem!’ ‘In that case you will enjoy the play. I shouldn’t be surprised if it had something to do with the play.’ said Irene. clear voice that effortlessly reached to the back of the room.’ she announced with a broad smile. They are quite famous hereabouts. so you needn’t worry if you are good enough. not least amongst the Sixth Formers. ‘Girls. In excited anticipation.’ ‘Oh. ‘Everyone is given a role. you will be chosen. who had insisted on making the trip down from the Sonnalpe. and would always be known as ‘Madame’. Madame has kindly come here today to speak to you. I think she imagined it to be a frightful waste of lesson time.’ ‘Plato chooses the soloists. despite the snowy conditions. I keep forgetting that you Saints have only been with us for one term. If you are. now restored to its customary appearance from its temporary status of dormitory. we put on a Christmas play. ‘She has a glorious voice and Plato would be mad not to use it. ‘She still was very much part of the School then. because Jo Bettany isn’t here. She had given up the day-to-day running of her dear School over four years ago. even last year.’ prophesied Gillian. yet she continued to command the deep affection of all the girls. . The Head’s statement. Madame!’ Mrs Russell nodded her thanks and began to address the School in her sweet. caused a great deal of speculation and mounting excitement. so I shall not waste any more time. ‘We haven’t got anyone else in the same league. had to be content with staying inside.’ At fourteen o’clock. just before the end of term. ‘Every year. I couldn’t agree more. I remember wishing that the Fawn would allow us to do something similar. Apart from that. ‘I do know about that. but she never would. ‘I expect that some of you may have guessed the reason for her visit.’ ‘I think she will be called upon for many a long year. I believe. who had been with the School in the early days. Miss Annersley decided to call a halt to the ovation and the School settled down. she arrived on the dias accompanied by Mrs Russell. whether you want to sing or not! And this year he will be even more desperate for good singers. To their surpirse and delight. but she was teaching that term.

to take on the delightful legends that abound thereabouts as the subject of our play. Despite falling on hard times. ‘I said that I have two reasons to be here today. which. I was fortunate enough to speak with their Uncle. however. ‘It is the story of a kind-hearted Woodcarver who lived in a vally in South Tyrol. I have just remembered a third. I am sure most of you will remember that the Bishop opened our Sale of Work nearly two years ago. ‘We must get on girls. the Bishop felt. Now the other reason why I am here today is to do with the annual Christmas play. but the Woodcarver was horrified at the request.’ She paused and the girls waited keen. It sounded as though this play would be more challenging than any before and they were keen to hear it. Then a strange event occurred: a young golden-haried boy appeared in his workshop one evening and started to play with the carved animals belonging to the Nativity scene. if I am to return to the Sonnalpe whilst it is still daylight. when the churches no longer had room for any more of his statues. within a few short days. Girls. ‘Of course. However he relented to the extent of offering to make another lamb for the boy. Seeing their eager faces. could be adapted into a play. Bishop Mensch. the parents of Bernhilda and Frieda. Joey and Robin sent their love to the School and they especially asked me to tell you that they are missing you all very much.’ The girls were fascinated.‘I have two reasons for coming to the School today. Whilst I was reflecting on a new play for this coming Christmas and wondering what we should do. which. for those of you who are new to the School. Mrs Russell proceeded to give them a brief description. Miss Annersley has assured me that everything is back to normal now and indeed I have been taken on a tour of all the newly-repaired areas. Last year we gave an extra performance for the poor people of Vater Stefan’s parish and I think you will all agree that your efforts were rewarded richly by the gratitude shown on the faces of the folk who packed the hall. he refused to apply his talents to the creation of wooden toys for children until he received a sign from God. He expressed a desire to take a wooden lamb away with him. for he believed that it was God’s wish that he should make sacred figures only. She and Robin have arrived safely in India and are enjoying their holiday with my brother and his wife. My task was made easy for. Being an aficionado of folklore. As a consequence he and his wife almost starved for lack of food. He had heard of our special Christmas play presentation for the poor people last year and was most intruiged when I told him of my desire to write a play based on a local legend. I recalled the profound thankfulness of Vater stefan and his good people and it gave me an idea. this time Mrs Russell cut it short. is performed at the end of term for parents and the local population. a letter arrived at the Sonnalpe.’ The girls cheered at this juncture. and he has shown a great interest in our School ever since. You are to be congratulted on the way you have all pulled together the get the School again so speedily. reasoning that as it was a . he generously offered to help me in my quest and sure enough.’ Another cheer arose in the room. with whom we are privileged to share this splendid land. containing the synopsis of a traditional Tyrolese story. it is a delightful tale and I am confident that you will all enjoy enacting it. during a visit to Herr and Frau Mensch. You will all be interested to hear that I have had a communication from Joey. forced Madame to stop for a couple of minutes. I thought that it would be a fitting mark of respect to the local Tyrolese people. First of all.y for her next pronouncement. I was anxious to confirm for myself that you are none the worse for the frightening storm you all suffered three nights ago. a simple peasant who made his living carving religious figures for the local churches. but before I get to the second. last August.

The Woodcarver had the third lamb with him and he offered to take it to her. . It was certainly different from anything they had done before and they could not wait to start rehearsals. To the merchant’s surprise and delight. although many would be required only to sing in the choir. And so the Woodcarver at last had a regular income and no longer had to suffer hardship. said the Priest. even though it meant turning down the merchant’s money. who. As soon as he made a replacement lamb. ‘One day he received a visit from a rich merchant from the South. He was forced to give away the lamb he had carved for the little golden-haired boy.’ The girls were enchanted by the story and applauded enthusiastically when Mrs Russell finally finished. for it pleased God to hear their laughter.gift he would not be offending God. and some would play in the orchestra. Gypsy children had called on her the day before and she had been smitten by a little lamb made by the Woodcarver. The peasant carved the lamb for the boy. ‘It’s a good one.money that would have fed him and his wife through the long winter and by now they had used up their last grains of flour.’ replied Betty mysteriously. the Woodcarver offered to sell him his toys. but before the boy returned to collect it many more children came to visit his workshop. Further on along the road. Miss Annersley escorted her out of Hall. for which the merchant rewarded him with a purse full of money.’ ‘What have you got planned?’ demanded Alixe excitedly. On the way home from the little girl’s house.’ Come on. and before long he was kept busy carving toys as presents. but the Juniors could expect to be well represented as there were plenty of youngsters required for the play. for a visiting gypsy baby had demanded to have the sweet little animal. and then. I can guarantee that. as it was beginning to get dark. When she returned. Every girl in the School would be involved in some way. Betty don’t be a tease. leaving the Prefects to hand out copies of the play to the School. upon seeing his animal carvings. he was the Son of God. ‘The Prees are going to be taken up with rehearsals for the play. expressed a wish to buy them all.’ ‘Who says we are going to be caught?’ grinned Betty wickedly. a blizzard raged and he came upon the rich merchant who had visited his workshop earlier. ‘Wait and see. unable to move after an accident.’ said Elizabeth crossly. because it will have to be worth getting another punishment like the last time. but without which he was prepared to starve. above all else. The Woodcarver refused to sell. the Head ran through the list of main characters and announced the cast. At last the Woodcarver had received the sign he craved. The merchant went away empty-handed and disappointed. ‘Anyway I hope it is. the strange golden-haired boy appeared in the snow in front of the Woodcarver and revealed his true self. ******************** As Betty Wynne-Davies later remarked to Elizabeth Arnett and Alixe von Elsen. The little girl desperately wanted one of her own. He counselled the peasent to continue to carve toys for children. I have a feeling that it might be a good time to have a little fun while they are not bothering so much about us and I know exactly what we can do. The main roles would be undertaken by the best actresses in the School. the Woodcarver bumped into his village priest who told him of a sick little girl in the next valley. Gillian Linton rose to thank Madame on behalg of the School. The merchant had lost his way and the Woodcarver lead him back to the village and safety. The next day. another child claimed it for himself. So the Woodcarver set to work on a third lamb for the boy in the hope that he would return to collect it before yet another child asked for it.

They have got it into their heads that because they are no longer under the eye of ‘Bill’. had not Irene Silksworth. coming from the Head Girl’s sister. The trouble is that Suzanne and I are the only Prefects in St Agnes’. the difference was palpable. They would have taken full advantage of this state of affairs. had dared to hope.’ All had willingly agreed to help out. Irene soon proved to be a very effective House Prefect. they unnerved her and she was unsure how to handle them. I’m asking you people to be on your guard for any signs of bad behaviour and disobedience and report anything you notice for me to sort out. Before very long she had gained a reputation among the younger girls as a robust disciplinarian and even the more wayward among them had to accept that they were not going to be able to break the rules at St Agnes’ House with impunity after all. Before the first week of term was over she called a private meeting of the Upper Fifth and Sixth Formers in St Agnes’ House. taken charge of the situation. She had observed Miss Norman’s faltering efforts to control the girls during the first few days of term and also the reactions of the Middles. she had made no direct comment. was to her mind strange indeed. Irene speedily came to the conclusion that she must act to prevent the House from sliding into anarchy. Miss Norman appeared. newly liberated from the strict regime of St Clare’s. Whereas ‘Bill’ was plain-speaking and authoritative. She had worried greatly about having responsibility for the older pupils in the House. with one notable exception. ‘We are going to have a riot on our hands. only getting involved herself when it was absolutely necessary. they can do pretty much as they like and get away with it. However. Irene had been puzzled by her unenthusiastic response. thanks to the seniors keeping their eyes open. much to their deep regret. Miss Norman was aware of the contribution Irene Silksworth made to St Agnes’ and she recognised in her House Prefect leadership qualities that she believed herself to lack. which. and the contrast between the two Mistresses could not have been greater. as it dawned on them that their new House Mistress was not cast in the same mould as ‘Bill’. Instead she concentrated almost . It appears to me that Miss Norman does not have the authority to deal with them and if we stand back they will get the upper hand and discipline will go to the wall. and. I don’t propose to allow St Agnes’ to gain a reputation for ill-discipline and general wickedness. nor had she the time to discover the reason for Joyce’s attitude. and to the girls. the girls in St Agnes’ House had started to settle down reasonably well and life had been quieter than its House Mistress. if not exactly weak. ‘if we do not do something soon to curb the Middles’ behaviour. not to say relieved. for she had more than enough to do and eventually she forgot about it. to let Irene take command as often as possible and she relied on the Sixth Former to deal with most of the disciplinary matters which arose. Unfortunately for Miss Norman. the Middles now under her care had come hotfoot from St Clare’s House. as she freely acknowledged. for. at any rate diffident. possessed of a determined nature. Miss Norman. and we urgently need your help. she knew that she had it in her to do it. the domain of Miss Wilson.’ she had informed them candidly.Chapter XV An Unfortunate Encounter After the first few chaotic weeks of term. somehow managing to be everywhere at once and always arriving on the scene in time to prevent trouble arising. Joyce Linton had been less than keen and had consented with considerable reluctance. the House Prefect. They got on quite well together but Miss Norman was happy.

Polly Heriot. Although this state of affairs worked well. and had to be content with staying where she was for the duration. Besides. away from her own House and so out of touch with the goings-on there. Matron. However. Matron took due note of this.’ she said blandly. ‘Are you worried that we will not look after you well enough here?’ Matron had demanded. Irene mulled over the situation now and again and even thought of mentioning it to Miss Norman but in the end always decided against it. was out of the building but . Between the two of them they carried Irene to the San. the deputy House Mistress. for she believed that getting to know them as individuals should be part of any House Mistress’s job. though tumultuous. despite the fact that her close friends were in the other Houses. I’m afraid that that is out of the question. she always requested a Senior from St Agnes’.’ replied Irene. At first it was simply a release of high spirits such as pillow fights in the dormitories. for as she had feared. informed Irene that when they heard their House Prefect was staying in Ste Thérèse’s for the duration. privately Irene had reservations about the wisdom of Miss Norman’s unwillingness to get involved with the older girls more directly. The Middles started the game quietly enough. and if Miss Norman preferred to do things that way that was her prerogative. so you will just have to make up your mind to stay where you are and let St Agnes’ get on without you. of course not. she was stuck in Ste Thérèse’s. Irene knew better than to raise the matter again. ‘Oh. The reports of the Sixth Formers worried Irene. On top of that. when her foot slipped from under her as she was executing a turn. came to see what was going on and caught them leaping around the room by means of the furniture.exclusively on the welfare of the younger girls. Irene was partnering Polly Heriot in a country-dance over in Ste Thérèse’s one Saturday evening a couple of weeks after the great storm. I just thought I should be there to keep an eye on things. When she begged Matron Lloyd to be allowed to hobble back to St Agnes’ she was nearly eaten alive. With a cry of pain the Prefect sank to the floor and clutched at her ankle.’ returned Matron. ‘No. You have sprained your ankle very badly and it is extremely swollen. but gradually the noise level rose to such a pitch that Miss Edwards. But the informal arrangement came to an abrupt halt in a way nobody could have foreseen. Irene instantly regretted that she had not held her tongue. Irene feared that they would waste no time in plotting all sorts of tricks and told Polly that she must be extra vigilant. Miss Norman. but she spent a good deal of her time speculating about how things were going back at the House. to quote herself. the Middles were taking every advantage of her absence to indulge in mischief. ‘Then why are you so keen to return to your House?’ persisted ‘Matey’. However. ‘Really? Well. of course. a sudden crop of colds prevented her from doing so immediately and she had to leave it there for the time being. for there was little that got past her and she resolved to make some enquiries of her own. The House was running quite smoothly after all. Miss Nalder was by her side in a shot and examined the poor ankle briefly before summoning Matron. Irene had a distinct feeling that any intervention on her part would be regarded as impertinence and she did not wish to rock the boat. the Middles could hardly believe their good fortune and went round with broad grins on their faces for the rest of that day. the first bearer of bad news. Diagnosis was made and Irene found herself laid-up with a badly sprained ankle and under strict orders to rest it for a fortnight. it was a fairly innocuous. at least for the next week or so. game of Pirates in the Middles’ common room that led to the greatest trouble. and when Matron asked her whom she would like to visit her. in a meeting with Miss Annersley at the time.

be left to their own devices. rather than an act of blatant defiance on their part. alas. She is so good at dealing with the Middles. such as Faith Barbour and Thyra Eriksen. knowing her inability to command the respect of the older girls. The other Middles in the House were a mixture. for Miss Norman decided to check the common room on her way to bed. Her self-confidence. She gave them a mild ticking off. she thought miserably. All night long she tossed and turned in her bed. then she would have learned a valuable lesson. for some reason. and on finding it in the same dishevelled state became hurt and angry. and although Emmie was improving greatly as she grew older. Alixe was wrong in her assumption. they felt no compulsion to put the room back in order forthwith. stood up. The room had been tidied after a fashion. had been severely dented. Once again the old doubts came crowding in to torment her and she questioned her suitability to be Head of the House. surprised to see her standing in the doorway. It was a terrible mistake and she should admit as much to Miss Annersley. If she had realised that the reason the girls had not bothered to tidy the room was due to the fact that she had never before set foot there nor shown any interest in their welfare. Thus they went off to bed that evening leaving the room just as messy as before. and she arose the next morning washed out and feeling quite under the weather. Lacking the presence of the Mistress standing over them. Apart from the obvious danger of hurting themselves. They know perfectly well that it is against the rules to play Pirates in their common room. She should never have accepted the position. in all probability.’ Miss Norman sighed. and as the hours ticked by. even though Irene had dealt with the Middles and Seniors exclusively. Poor Miss Norman could not see this. after all. Miss Wilson would have made them tidy it completely before departing. she could yet be persuaded to join in any fun and games Alixe suggested. I think you ought to speak severely to those monkeys. bade them to put the room back in order and then withdrew speedily. some shy and retiring. And there was another cause for worry: Miss Annersley had believed her to be capable of running St Agnes’ and she had let her Head down. previously she had been reasonably happy with the way the House had been running. they managed to break a leg off a chair and the room looked an absolute mess. I told them to put everything back in order immediately. insisting that there was no hurry and that they could do it the next day. Alixe von Elsen and Emmie Linders. ‘But I suppose I had better have a word with them. however. Thyra and Faith started to straighten a couple of chairs until Alixe told them to stop. partners in crime of old. ‘I do wish Irene Silksworth was here. namely that she did not have control over the whole of St . others willing to be led by the nose by Alixe and co. ‘Ivy. Half-heartedly.’ Catching Miss Edwards’ eye she added. never her strongest attribute. Miss Norman entered the common room resolutely enough and the girls. Enid Sothern was almost in the same league as Alixe when it came to wickedness.Miss Edwards later reported the incident to her. The girls looked at each other doubtfully. this had been the first time she had set foot in it since the beginning of term and if they kept the noise down they would. She reasoned that Miss Norman would not visit the common room again for a while. It was Miss Norman’s misfortune that St Agnes’ House had been blessed with several of the naughtiest girls in the School. but not to Miss Norman’s satisfaction.’ And she made her way reluctantly to the Middles’ common room. had not been separated. Now Irene was out of commission and at last Miss Norman had to face up to the truth. and did not give it another thought. so the problem grew and grew out of all proportion.

unreliable and thoughtless. was surprisingly appealing. No longer did she view the world through the eyes of a spoilt child. for she . Joyce was rather afraid that if she were to discover anything untoward it would put her in a difficult position. Joyce had made a point of keeping out of Miss Norman’s way as much as possible so far. indeed. However. in the back of her mind. but principally Joyce. which was a great pity.’ Joyce sounded calm but a feeling of apprehension gripped her. the Mistress blanched. of all girls. and merely exhorted them to be tidier in future. Once more she was reminded of that terrible day. Joyce Linton. Although she would have been ashamed to admit it. had been their ringleader in many a prank in previous times. For one moment Miss Norman’s inclination was to walk past the girl but. wondering how she would get through the day without the opportunity to unburden herself. But Joyce was very aware that she would have to prove her worth to the authorities before they would consider it. ‘Yes. inexplicably. however remote the possibility. to her dismay. ‘What are you doing here?’ she snapped. she bumped into. for she instinctively felt that she would not get a particularly sympathetic hearing. she still nursed a feeling of resentment towards the girl and. who was in charge pro tem. Mademoiselle Lepâttre. The Sixth Former could see that Miss Norman was shaking with rage. ‘I …er…was just checking to see if the Middles were behaving themselves. On the way back from Upper Second.’ she stammered. had tried to comfort and counsel her. So off she went to her first class with a heavy heart. She knew most of the Middles well and. On seeing her old adversary. and she. but neither did she want to let Suzanne down. Promotion to the Sixth Form had brought about a rapid change in Joyce. She was pondering these things as she entered the Middles’ common room. but with Irene hors de combat. Miss Norman. nearly two years before. and the prospect of a Prefectship one day. She had been only too pleased to take the easy option and allow Irene to take charge of the Middles while she looked after the Juniors’ needs. and had been shown up to be a woefully weak and inadequate member of Staff. although she and everyone else had not yet come to appreciate its effects. regarded her as the cause of all her troubles. Joyce looked embarrassed. she decided to see Miss Annersley that morning and confess her shortcomings.Agnes’ House. for she did not like the thought of having to report her pals. Suffering from an overabundance of guilt. Miss Norman discovered that the Head had gone down to Spärtz after Frühstück and she didn’t feel like talking to Nell Wilson. after a tense lesson in which she had uncharacteristically snapped at the youngsters for even the most minor offence. despite her manifestly lukewarm attitude towards responsibility at the beginning of the Autumn Term. but in her heart. the uncertainty lurked that she possessed the essential authority required of a senior Mistress. when she had been publicly humiliated by Joyce and several other Middles. Now she was hastening towards maturity. from that fateful afternoon onwards. The sight of the disordered state of the room made her gasp and she directed the girls to do something about it straight away. she was seized by a sudden urge to confront her. Suzanne Mercier had asked all the Seniors to help out with the Middles and she had decided that she should do her part. wise in her generation. ‘You! You were checking to see if they are behaving themselves?’ spluttered Miss Norman contemptuously. by contrast. Just as she was leaving the Middles’ common room Joyce encountered Miss Norman. Joyce was the last person Miss Norman wanted to meet in her current distressed condition. She neglected to ask why they had left it in such a bad way. Her elder sister Gillian had always been the more conscientious and dependable of the two.

In case you had forgotten. She had at first hoped that Miss Norman would be pleased with her conduct. or at least not dissatisfied. She mumbled an expression of regret and shot off out of sight immediately. having realised that Joyce was not capable of providing an explanation at that moment. That’s all.’ she said kindly. Miss Norman. We Seniors are trying to rally round to keep the House from falling apart in Irene’s absence.’ To her horror.had witnessed it once before. Miss Norman. I just thought that. she could not even condemn Joyce . ‘Ivy. All at once remorse set in. In fact. far from calming the situation. In a state of panic now. Off you go.’ Joyce did not need a second bidding. with Irene Silksworth unwell. It’s very neat-looking now. Joyce! You forget yourself!’ Joyce suddenly became aware of a stern voice behind her and shut her mouth. ‘Who gave you permission to take on the role of a Prefect. ‘You have been extremely rude to Miss Norman. Searching for a way to improve matters. but struggling with herself. I’m waiting for an answer.’ Miss Norman nodded silently. ‘I am not doing Irene’s job. Matron scrutinised Miss Norman for a minute. But she did not expect this inquisition. ‘What is all this about?’ demanded Matron.’ As with Joyce. much to Joyce’s consternation. she still felt nervous. ‘Well. you look all in. she managed to keep her voice more or less under control. Now. ‘You must take the remainder of the day off and go to your room to rest. On that occasion.’ These cruel remarks made Joyce’s blood boil and before she could stop herself she had blurted out several unpleasant truths. may I ask?’ Joyce did not know what to say in reply. you are the last person I should consider for the job. ‘I expect your head is aching badly. I am the House Mistress here and I do not remember asking you to undertake Irene’s duties in her absence.’ Joyce’s temper had all but evaporated with Matron’s intervention and her face flushed crimson as she strove wildly to think of something to say in defence of her ill-mannered outburst. in her shame. eyes downcast. I should help out a bit. Joyce. But it made no difference. ‘How dare you!’ she cried.’ ‘You take a lot upon yourself. her mind went blank and she stared mutely back at Matron. although it shook slightly and sounded unusually harsh. however. expecting Matron to insist upon an immediate explanation for the dispute. poor Miss Norman was only too thankful to get away from the scene of the trouble and rushed to her room to shut the door on the world. If you were in proper control we would not have to bother! But you shut yourself away …’ ‘Be silent. then go to my room in Ste Thérèse’s and wait for me until I come to you. her remarks. How bitterly she regretted her behaviour towards Joyce. She swung around and found herself looking down on the small figure of Matron Lloyd.’ continued Matron after a short pause. noting her deathly white face and the black rings under her eyes. ‘Apologise to her this instant. Joyce. She had committed a grave error in yielding to her temper and allowing herself to blame the girl for her own failings. ‘Nobody. Joyce had been the architect of it whereas she was wholly innocent of blame this time. ‘I saw that their common room was in a mess and made them clear it up. I shall bring you something to ease your head. merely served to make things worse. Miss Norman nearly lost her composure. she tried to explain her actions.

Ivy.’ she added judicially. I vaguely remember. Matey. No! It was entirely my fault. It had meant much more than she could have imagined. She must not be allowed to get away with that. hopes and regrets and in the course of the monologue Matron pieced together a clear picture of the root cause of all her troubles. when pressed by Matron. I can see that I should have resolved the problem with Joyce weeks ago. she sank down into a chair and put her head in her hands. ‘If you can settle your differences with Joyce. but something in that honest face and tone of voice encouraged her to talk frankly. She never noticed Matron slip into the room with a cup of coffee in her hand. ‘You felt belittled because Joyce succeeded where you had failed in getting the Middles to tidy up and because of this you overreacted.’ she commented when at last Miss Norman ran out of words. ‘Because that is nonsense. but I should not be at all surprised if she were more than willing to meet you half-way. she would have to investigate Miss Norman’s role also. helping her to unravel the complexities of the situation. for she felt intuitively that the fault did not lie solely with the Sixth Former. ‘that Hilda Annersley counselled you to do that selfsame thing at the beginning of term. ‘It seems to me that you will only put this silly episode behind you once and for all if you make peace with Joyce.’ said Matron persuasively. so compounding your problems. After listening to Joyce’s version of the story she had administered a stinging rebuke. I should not have rounded on her as I did.’ ‘Why not? I was just as much at fault. that she had not done anything to provoke the Mistress at the outset and had been shocked by the intensity of Miss Norman’s anger towards her. if you feel so badly about it. Joyce had cooled down completely by then and had readily owned up to having lost her head.’ she continued in a gentler voice. she had managed to keep out of serious trouble and had started to apply herself steadily to her studies. Matron was not exactly the first person to whom she would have chosen to unburden herself.’ said Matron bluntly.for her own deplorable retaliatory outburst. You do not know how Joyce will respond. Her reward had been promotion to Lower Sixth. standing beside her with the proffered cup. to be sure. She simply happened to be passing by.’ confessed Miss Norman quietly. It was totally inexcusable!’ ‘Well. Ivy. but she had been quite adamant. ‘You are correct. Ivy! It is never too late to make amends. Miss Norman looked up with a startled expression. Joyce Linton left Matron’s room in Ste Thérèse’s and descended the staircase in a daze. which was not quickly forgotten. while you drink this. But if you do not then you will not have a minute’s peace of mind. Isn’t it a pity that you chose not to heed her wise advice?’ ‘I couldn’t face Joyce. She let Joyce go without any further censure. For half-an-hour she poured forth her anxieties and doubts. pure and simple. then I foresee your professed difficulties with older girls easing. ‘Suppose you tell me what this is all about. Despondently. For the past year or so. which had come as a pleasant surprise to her. Thus Matron garnered useful clues. But it’s too late now. ‘That did not give Joyce Linton the right to be so rude to you.’ ‘Are you going to use that as an excuse to do nothing to rectify the matter?’ enquired Matron. for with promotion came both privilege and a . That’s the truth of the matter. you had better apologise to Joyce straight away.’ Matron had come to Miss Norman’s room straight from her interview with Joyce Linton.

dressing up as a savage and painting my face and …’ ‘All right! You needn’t remind me. ‘Oh! Joyce! Why did you have to say what you did? I don’t wonder Miss Norman’s mad at you! Couldn’t you keep hold of your tongue for once in your life?’ ‘I know I should have. I’ve caused her enough strife already. Miss Annersley would jolly well want to know the reasons for your request and then you would have a lot of explaining to do. as you know only too well.’ ‘You could try talking to her.’ sighed Joyce.’ said Gillian thoughtfully.’ guessed Gillian shrewdly.’ ‘I doubt that very much. I’ve been trying to decide what would be the best thing to do and all I can think of is to go to Miss Annersley and asking her to transfer me to another House. but not tough enough with older ones. And anyway.’ ‘Well. It might have been anybody.’ ‘That’s why it’s been so awkward for me this term. I don’t want her to get into hot water because of me. ‘Though I’m glad to hear that you realise now how nasty you were to her.measure of responsibility. what can I do?’ wailed Joyce.’ groaned Joyce.’ replied Gillian. Miss Norman. ‘Have you got a few minutes to spare. ‘No one else has baited her as much as I have. And they wouldn’t have if they hadn’t played about with the Houses. More than anything else she enjoyed her new status within the School and now she felt a real sense of embarrassment that she had discredited herself by her childish behaviour. and of course seeing you just sparked off that bad memory. Probably some of the Middles had cheeked her and she had not been able to deal with them very effectively. Since that awful time I haven’t had anything at all to do with her. ‘that she was in a state to begin with and that you just happened to trigger her off. ‘Of course!’ replied her sister. Oh.’ ‘I don’t suppose that Miss Norman was exactly thrilled to have older girls in St Agnes’ either. I only wish I had done that at the beginning of term. ‘but the fact is I didn’t and I need your advice. Then I’d be out of Miss Norman’s way once and for all. Oh. I mean. I’m completely stuck. That would account for her irritability when you met her. If you blab the whole story to the Head she will be obliged to question Miss Norman and things could get very difficult for her. ‘What’s up?’ Joyce quickly related the tale to Gillian. Gill. Joyce! What are you doing here at this time of day?’ Joyce looked round to see Gillian catching up with her. Gillian listened with growing unease but without interruption to the conclusion. ‘Joyce. why did I have to bump into her?’ ‘It sounds to me.’ interjected Gillian quickly. you can’t simply go to the Head and demand to be moved elsewhere.’ Joyce listened with a deepening sense of desperation. I really was a horrid little pig. and I had assumed that our paths wouldn’t cross again. You know the rules as well as anybody else. It must be pretty ghastly for her to have to face you all day after day. You will get off with a reprimand. She made up her mind swiftly. What do you think?’ ‘I can just see Miss Annersley agreeing!’ said Gillian emphatically. but she might find herself in serious trouble. ‘She’s great with the kids. Gill?’ she asked earnestly. I do wish that they had left things as they were. ‘Hello. There’s another person to consider also: there is a distinct chance that Miss Norman does not want the Head to know about your quarrel. ‘If I can’t go to the Head. ‘Are you serious?’ . not to say daunting. in the privacy of the Prefects’ room. Joyce. ‘Gill. Don’t forget that I tormented her lesson after lesson that first term.

And you can only do that by talking to her calmly and sensibly. fervently hoped so because Joyce and Miss Norman alike would benefit from a fresh start and it was more than time they put their enmity behind them. But I doubt if she will listen to me.’ she said finally. Unlike Joyce. and together we will explain the position.’ ‘You try it and if things are no better afterwards. Joyce. you must keep your temper. ‘I’ll give it a shot. You can do it. and perhaps she does. You’ve changed considerably since then and you have got to show her that it’s for the better. but do remember. Joyce? You haven’t got a thing to lose and you might finally be able to put all this nonsense behind you. I know it!’ ‘It’s asking an awful lot.’ said Joyce slowly. she was reasonably optimistic that a talk would have the desired effect. Joyce pondered the proposition for a minute or two.’ ‘We’ll just have to see. . But for goodness’ sake don’t go and lose your rag. and that’s a promise. then I will go with you to the Head.‘Perfectly! Why not. Gill. even if she does react badly. though I don’t know what I am going to say.’ urged Gillian persuasively. you were only a kid when all that happened. You may think that she bears a grudge. Whatever she says. ‘I don’t know if it will work. I’ll have to think it over very carefully. and indeed.’ said Gillian. ‘All right. Gillian.

To calm her nerves. but Joyce was unable to do anything about it then as she had to attend her usual lessons during the day. That way. Joyce commanded her to take a look. her heart was beginning to pound and she was feeling very apprehensive about confronting Miss Norman. Curious to discover why Joyce was hopping about animatedly. she hoped she might appear genuine and credible. By this time. spying her. and nearly poking Suzanne’s eye out in the process. having prepared herself as much as she could. she took a little walk down the corridor and round a corner to a seldom-used outer door and peeped out through its window into the dark. Early on Monday morning. The trouble was that each time her words sounded artificial and unconvincing. but she had to quell her impatience for. However. Joyce guessed that she might be with the Juniors. and the sooner the better. At that moment. so off she went in search of her adversary. Instantly she was reminded of the last day of the Summer Term when Hall was set on fire. For a moment she did not see anything of great interest. It did not take long to grasp how difficult a task it was going to be. It was a frustrating time for Joyce. and more than once she very nearly gave it up in despair. apart from Gillian and Matron. she reckoned it would be permissible to wait in the corridor outside the Junior common room. called out her name urgently. Suzanne? Are those flames over there in St Clare’s?’ . Now that the opportunity to act was almost upon her. A long-standing invitation from Juliet Carrick to stay at the Annexe beckoned and she packed her overnight case and departed promptly after Kaffee und Kuchen. she had promised Gillian that she would at least try to talk to Miss Norman. and Joyce. To her amazement. having been persuaded by Matron to take the whole of the weekend off. and she did not know Miss Norman’s whereabouts. so she made her way there. feeling much rested and more like herself. she began to get nervous about the prospect and almost decided to drop the whole idea. But Joyce was not without courage and moreover. however. Now all that was required was to contrive a rendezvous with Miss Norman. after Frühstück. But Gillian had appeared so confident that this direct approach would be successful that she felt compelled to continue with it. ‘What do you see. she was back in St Agnes’. Miss Norman arrived back at School. Diffidently she knocked on the door of the Staff room. Suzanne Mercier happened to walk past the end of the corridor and Joyce. but she thought it prudent not to barge into their domain. for through the window of a room over in St Clare’s a strange yellowish glow could be discerned. later in the day Joyce took herself off to the library. wanted to get it over and done with. for Miss Norman was away from School. so she struggled to try out another speech in her head. nobody knew about the argument and she was very keen to keep it under wraps. and settled behind a bookcase to give long and hard thought to what she should say to Miss Norman. Pointing a finger excitedly. she found herself being seized by the arm and pushed over to the window with more haste than decorum. But she was doomed to disappointment. By early evening. then something strange caught her attention and she pressed her nose up against the ice-covered glass to get a closer look.Chapter XVI Fireworks! Heartened by Gillian’s guidance and encouragement. it being the one place where she would not be disturbed. Suzanne immediately changed course and headed down the corridor. In the end she managed to work out the important points she wanted to make and decided against formulating sentences until the occasion presented itself. but only Miss Phipps was within.

With an exclamation.’ ‘What do you mean you don’t see anything?’ In her anxiety. ‘I think you are correct. she speedily unlocked the door. Once in the corridor. Those involved in the exploit had been handpicked by Betty Wynne Davies and Elizabeth Arnett. An emergency Prefects’ meeting meant that they had been left alone to relax and amuse themselves in their common rooms after Abendessen without any of the routine checks usually carried out by their House Prefects. Suzanne spoke agitatedly over her shoulder as she struggled with the topmost bolt. Biddy O’Ryan had signed up enthusiastically. ‘Suzanne! Stop what you are doing this minute! You know very well that this door is not to be opened by you girls at any time. Joyce.Suzanne stared through the door in horror at the flickering radiance. she reached into a pocket and produced a key ring with several keys dangling from it. however a select few slipped away to gather illicitly at a prearranged location. which was situated well away from the Staff room. but just before reaching the entrance. Miss Norman. stabbing at the glass with a frantic finger. pursued closely by Suzanne. Please help me to open the door. and after a tussle succeeded in sliding back the awkward bolt with a resounding crack. This is the quickest way to the House. Most of the girls read or chatted or played games. together with Alixe von Elsen and fellow harum-scarum . Joyce fled to the Staff room as. and suddenly appeared green and blue and white. through a window in the building opposite. Surely you can see that it has been snowing heavily?’ Miss Norman was confounded by Suzanne Mercier’s frenzied behaviour. I cannot manage this last bolt. Suzanne? I don’t see anything. Selecting one. They crossed the space between the two buildings and aimed for a door beside the blazing room. ‘There it is!’ she cried. Without a thought for the snowy conditions she sped towards St Clare’s. a peculiar reddish orange light was playing around a room. ‘Where? What are you talking about. It looks as if that room is on fire. occasionally used for extra coaching. ‘There is a fire over in St Clare’s. ‘And…’ her voice rising to a high-pitched shriek. Miss Norman arrived on the scene to discover Suzanne in the act of wrestling with the bolted door with feverish zeal. she quickly found the room and flung open the door with Suzanne hot on her heels. for it required various girls to leave the confines of their Houses in order to assemble in a small spare room in St Clare’s.’ Miss Norman peered through the glass incredulously. ******************** The early evening had started well for the Middles. from the opposite direction. Suzanne quite forgot she was addressing a Mistress and hustled her out of the way to get a better view. Miss Norman noticed something odd. This action contravened more than one rule. ‘I see smoke coming out now too.’ Miss Norman bent forward and wiped the iced-up glass with her fist. who evidently regarded the absence of an order to remain behind tantamount to an invitation to come too. Sure enough. for it was going to be a high-risk venture and they did not want faint-hearted girls who might lose their nerve and so spoil the fun. The orange tinge reflecting in the glass was changing hue. instructed Suzanne to move away. before Suzanne pulled herself together and ordered Joyce to go and find a member of Staff. it swiftly dawned on Miss Norman that the source of the flickering light could be a different type of fire. and her actions seemed very much out of character. for she had considered her to be a level-headed young person. As she tried the handle of the outer door and found it to be unlocked.’ They gazed out of the door at the sight as if transfixed for several seconds more.

Elizabeth. ‘I don’t think much of those. which she tossed to Betty. ‘No I didn’t.’ said Betty. when they had heard that the Prefects would be out of the way on Monday evening. Elizabeth made her way over from St Scholastika’s.’ she replied. we will have these small ones. By this time a smoky fog had descended on the room and . ‘May we get on with it then?’ pleaded Emmie Linders.’ ‘I like that. gleefully they had made ready. returning ten minutes later with a box of cook’s matches.’ ‘I said they were small.’ retorted Elizabeth crossly.’ she demanded. ‘I hope the others are better. we’ll put the box back again when we have finished. catching the box adroitly. Elizabeth. rummaging in the parcel. as it’s your fault that we don’t have any!’ Elizabeth was on the brink of refusing. And ’tisn’t stealin’. who was beginning to wish she had not got involved. ‘I’ll light this bigger one next. Thus. Luise and Mary Shaw crept away from Ste Thérèse’s with little difficulty. The effect was quite spectacular and elicited a cheer from the girls. ‘You didn’t let anybody see you?’ asked Betty. and then we can go for the bigger ones. but their careful planning was about to become unstuck. treated her audience to an encore. Biddy. leaving the warmth of St Agnes’ to trudge through the snow to get in via a side door which Betty had left unlocked. affronted by the accusation. can we not borrow a few matches from the kitchen? There’s bound to be boxes of the things lying around the place.’ ‘What a brain you are. Mary Shaw had completed the recruitment list. who did not care very much for Betty but had agreed to be drawn in when pressed by her friend Alixe.Luise von Starken.’ She laid out half a dozen indoor fireworks on a desk and proceeded to light them one at a time. Betty was to have the easiest task of the seven for. ‘I don’t have them.’ said Betty approvingly. Once formed and sworn to secrecy. for an hour or even longer. After all. and watched delightedly as it emitted multi-coloured sparks several feet into the air. by lighting two similar-sized fireworks together. Betty produced a brown paper parcel with a flourish. Less eager had been Emmie Linders. Betty. Betty then proceeded to hand out some sparklers and yet more matches were used to light them. without matches they would not have any fun and Betty had promised a good display. ‘Give me a minute or two. ‘Off you go and fetch them. It’s really meant to be lit out of doors. being a member of St Clare’s. Both friends had quick tempers and they might have come to blows had not Biddy intervened. before they could carry out their carefully planned activity.’ snapped Betty. You can’t even be trusted to remember one little thing. ‘No fear!’ she grinned. but I expect it will be safe enough in here. without demur. ‘Sure. while Biddy. So. It had been agreed that as soon as circumstance permitted they should go ahead forthwith. all she had to do was to absent herself surreptitiously from the common room. then decided against it. ‘First of all. she disappeared. and head downstairs for the small classroom. Emmie and Alixe had a tricky time. pleased with the response this time. The girls looked at the results with varying degrees of enthusiasm.’ drawled Mary Shaw. Once safely ensconced in the small room they congratulated themselves complacently on getting there without being caught.’ And she struck a match and held it to the firework. Elizabeth. the group had been required to wait for a propitious occasion. for they took a shortcut. This time the girls were impressed. I thought you said that you would bring them.’ rejoined Betty tetchily. They waved them around happily until the sparklers burned out. Elizabeth looked blankly at Betty. ‘You are the limit. ‘Hand over the matches.

and Betty accidentally dropped the lighted match she had been applying to a sparkler. for they had only just lined themselves in front of the three Mistresses when. ‘Just a few more. none other than the Head Mistress herself appeared at the door. Betty. but she calculated that that course of action would merely put off the inevitable interview with the Head and that it would be far better to get it over and done with immediately.’ She bent down and lit the remaining small fireworks. causing everybody to shiver. She .’ she commanded. ‘I think we should go to Miss Wilson’s study to discuss this … incident. Besides she had a fair idea of her pals’ reactions if they discovered that she had been pretending. In an instant. The cold night air immediately cooled the room. Nevertheless. nor the handle turning. trying not to sound anxious. had pursued her out of a sense of bewildered curiosity. The seven young mischief-makers looked even more wretched. having chanced to walk out of the Staff room in time to see Miss Phipps shoot through the front door of her House like a scalded cat. Then she seized a fire bucket and doused the flames with sand. extinguished before their allotted span. It was obvious that they would be in for a serious punishment. So up she got and. It took some time for everybody to calm down. and indeed. went over to a window and opened it. the entrance of Miss Norman and Suzanne Mercier went unnoticed. but other than a bruised elbow acquired when she was propelled across the room. Into this scene of mayhem arrived Miss Phipps together with Miss Stewart. her face was as white as a sheet. upon arrival. one hand slightly scorched by the blazing bag. The sparklers. firmly under the impression that her colleague had taken complete leave of her senses. girls?’ bellowed Miss Norman through the smoky haze. ‘What is the meaning of this. There are also a dozen or so sparklers left. and as a result. ‘I’ll line them up on the Mistress’s desk over there and we can have a really good finale. A rainbow of colours sprayed around the desk.’ Miss Stewart went over to the window and opened it to its widest extent in an attempt to get rid of the foggy. causing an explosion of sparks and flames as the contents and bag all ignited. Shocked by the unexpected intrusion. Into the bag containing the remaining sparklers it fell. Miss Norman grabbed the terrified girl and fairly flung her across the room out of harm’s way. So intent on the display were the girls that they did not hear footsteps outside the door. Their optimism was not to last for long though. ‘Betty. half-buried under a pile of sand. and that being so. the deputy House Mistress of St Clare’s. To the girls’ immense relief. was anxious to know if Betty was hurt anywhere. phosphorus-laden atmosphere. she said she felt shaky. ‘You will feel better in a minute. it had crossed her mind fleetingly to feign illness.’ said Miss Stewart with decision. ‘Have you nearly finished the packet yet?’ she enquired. to their consternation. helped by Miss Norman. led the melancholy little gang to Miss Wilson’s room. they all jumped violently. they discovered. peering into the parcel. Miss Norman feared that she was about to faint. worried that it might not be gone by morning. Miss Norman. ‘Sit down.Emmie. she was found to be none the worse for wear.’ replied Betty. for the accidental minor inferno had upset them considerably and left a number of them whimpering with shock for several minutes. who. are you feeling better?’ Betty nodded sullenly. were a forlorn sight. that Miss Wilson was absent and they began to relax a little in anticipation of receiving a lighter punishment than would have been the case if ‘Bill’ were involved.

Miss Norman! Please go ahead. interrupting her Head Mistress. her keen eyes scrutinizing their countenances. Thankful though she was that there had been no real fire. please don’t expel me. Am I correct.’ said Miss Annersley. Miss Norman cut her short. ‘These children have been very stupid. if ye throw me out. Betty and Elizabeth. Haltingly. even the impudent duo. Valiantly. ‘Miss Norman deserves our heartfelt thanks for saving Betty from serious injury and for her quick thinking in dealing with the fire. Emmie then started to beg for forgiveness. ‘May I say something?’ ‘Of course. Miss Annersley rushed over to St Clare’s with impressive velocity. Miss Annersley. and although what they did was thoughtless in the extreme. But I am certain they did not intend to damage the classroom in any way. girls. that is all it was: sheer thoughtlessness. But I do believe that they have learned their lesson and will never play with matches and fireworks again. for the sake of the School. for it is obvious to me that not one of you considered for one moment the risks of lighting fireworks in a predominantly wooden building before carrying it out. who. ‘It’s all very well weeping now that it is over. let alone cause physical injury. But for her brave actions. am I not. girls?’ . Elizabeth tried to mitigate their sins by maintaining that the fireworks were only very small and mostly for indoor use anyway. considered it no less than her duty to notify her Head Mistress of her terrible discovery. ‘Oi haven’t anyplace else to go. so she continued on to Miss Wilson’s study in the hope of finding an answer to the mystery.too had been alerted by Joyce Linton. Although a distinctly acrid odour met her at the front door of the building. ‘Bearing in mind the potentially catastrophic outcome of your actions. Then it was a mercy that nobody was inside Hall when it started to blaze. The others were not far behind.’ wailed Biddy. Miss Annersley’s relief soon turned to dismay as the story unfolded and she heard how the Middles’ firework display ended in near catastrophe. having raised the alarm in St Agnes’. One glance around the room told the Head that she had got to the source of the trouble and she lost no time in demanding an explanation.’ The Middles shuddered at the suggestion and Emmie and Biddy burst into tears. neither flames nor smoke could be detected. but Miss Annersley was determined that the gravity of their deeds should be hammered home and dismissed her claim as irrelevant. the seven sinners bowed their heads. so they must expect punishment. whereas St Clare’s is full of pupils at present and if you little girls had set the building alight we might have had a terrible tragedy on our hands. I am correct in believing. having nothing to say for themselves for once in their lives. ‘Miss Annersley. I can speak for the girls in my House. Appalled at the prospect of a second fire in the School within six months. and I know they would not seek to endanger any fellow pupil. we could be facing an even greater disaster than the fire that damaged Hall in the summer. I must consider whether you should be allowed to continue …’ ‘Oh. but to everybody’s surprise.’ she began. that no pupil of the Chalet School would deliberately place her fellow pupils in jeopardy for the sake of a few thrills?’ Miss Annersley paused and looked from face to face. to see the fire for herself and to organise immediate evacuation of the building. the frightened girls recounted the sorry tale. I want you to think about the serious consequences of your silly prank. They have had their fun and have been found out. otherwise I trust that you would not have proceeded with it. Too mortified to speak.’ And she began to howl inconsolably.

Her threat of expulsion had been a deliberate attempt to bring home to the girls the very seriousness of their actions. Also. ‘Very well. Miss Annersley sat back in her chair and surveyed them all. you are a heroine in the girls’ eyes. but I did not save that child’s life. she did not show it. Miss Norman could scarcely believe the difference in her fortunes. A look of discomfiture suddenly shadowed Miss Norman’s face. ‘Funnily enough. if I were you!’ laughed the Head. and for that you may be justifiably praised to the rooftops! By the way. yes. girls came up to her to enquire after her health. as I have told you before. In your spare time you will clean and polish all the wooden surfaces in the classroom and in addition.’ Needless to say.’ ‘I’m very glad to hear that. Vivid descriptions went the rounds. she proceeded to administer justice. for I want you to think very seriously about the very real danger in which you placed your School. you will each write an essay on the hazards associated with fire. I never doubted your ability to run the House.The seven nodded their heads earnestly. to her bewilderment.’ said the Head warmly. It would be fraudulent of me to pretend otherwise. Ivy.’ If Miss Annersley was surprised by her junior’s candid confession. With a little gentle prodding from the Head. as. Ivy. of the Mistress saving the life of Betty Wynne-Davies and putting out the conflagration with her bare hands. Things must have been very bad for her to consider throwing in the towel. until she was elevated to the role of full scale heroine. Miss Annersley raised her eyebrows and frowned. for the umpteenth time in three days. the older girls’ attitudes towards her changing dramatically. She admitted as much to Miss Annersley during a private chat in the Head’s study later in the week. now they regarded her with awe and admiration and the atmosphere in St Agnes’ became far more pleasant as a result. She knew well Miss Norman’s misgivings and past difficulties with older girls. you will go to bed at the same time as the Juniors until further notice. From a position of having no great opinion of their House Mistress. they had been greatly impressed by reports that Miss Norman had stoutly defended the Middles and had ‘begged’ the Head for clemency. Knowing of your trust in me made my sense of failure all the harder to bear. . nevertheless. ‘I think you did pretty well. I think I should tell you that I was on the verge of coming to you a week ago to ask you to relieve me of my post. do I take it that you are finding things easier now over at the House?’ Miss Annersley asked casually. I’d just sit back and enjoy it. ‘Hilda. Ivy! Besides. Miss Norman revealed the problems she had been having with the Middles and in passing mentioned her run-in with Joyce Linton.’ she said. it did not take long for word of the Middles’ latest effort to get out. Satisfied that it had succeeded. you have forfeited your freedom. More than anything. and as the story spread through the School. So stop worrying. For the next two weeks you will be under supervision at all times. ‘By your behaviour tonight. I am not so wary of the Middles and Seniors since they have become more affable and I’m beginning to get to know them now. I’ve even started to enjoy my duties and I never thought I would be able to say that with any sincerity. you did avert a potentially very nasty fire. ‘Well. so Miss Norman’s part in the affair became more and more exaggerated. The fact that Miss Norman was nursing a bandaged hand gave credence to the wilder stories that were circulating and she found.’ protested Miss Norman. but had believed that she would learn to handle her new responsibilities and thus gain the confidence required to deal with girls of all ages. ‘That’s all very well to say.

I don’t deny that I dislike Joyce.’ This statement gave Miss Norman pause for thought. Miss Norman started. ‘Joyce did not lose her temper in the first place. bursting to tell them about the Middles’ latest prank. And Miss Norman had been just as loath to face Joyce again. I did. it looked as though the opportunity to put things right between them was vanishing fast. Suzanne described the firework incident in great detail and singled out Joyce for praise. since the excitement of Monday evening. which. blithely unaware of the simultaneous firework show in St Clare’s. but I cannot stand back and allow her future to be blighted as a result of my own antipathy towards her. Ivy.’ ‘You are very hard on yourself. no further action need be taken. I’m afraid. She informed Suzanne and went off to your Staff room and then came to tell me all about it. But if she has been discourteous to you then I am afraid that I must think again. After all. ‘I thought it was Suzanne who found the fire.’ ‘I see. Hilda. truly I do. A vindictive person would have leapt at the opportunity as a way to get even with her adversary. On that Monday evening. if I. and I must confess to accepting full responsibility for the whole unfortunate episode. ‘It’s over now and there is no point raking it all up again. remarking on the timely coincidence . being human. ‘No. it took an effort to admit all this to the Head. Nevertheless. if she were to make any official criticism now it would wreck the girl’s prospects of a Prefectship. Joyce was the first to notice it. in very dramatic terms. she cannot yet be trusted to behave civilly. alert everyone to the fire and showed a good deal of common sense. ‘I am sorry to hear this. her absence at the start of the meeting had not aroused their curiosity. Ominously. And I am glad to hear that you believe that Joyce would make a good Prefect.’ replied the Head thoughtfully. in the heat of the moment.’ said Miss Annersley. Besides. but from what you have just said. but spitefulness was not in Miss Norman’s nature. were unforgivable. a Mistress.’ ‘No. for which I was wholly to blame. Joyce has shown so much improvement over the past three terms that I have been seriously considering her as a future Prefect. Joyce had decided to keep a low profile for a while and put off her grand plan to apologise for past misdeeds. am unable to control my temper. despite your personal aversion to her. and it was not surprising that she retaliated.’ ‘Very well. Ivy and I’m sorry to hear that you have not yet patched things up with Joyce. the Prefects had got on with their meeting. though. after all. I said things. what right have I to expect it of a sixteen-year-old girl? I think she has the makings of a good Prefect. Both of us said regrettable things. Have you not spoken to her since?’ Miss Norman had not for. She had accepted the unpleasant fact that their argument had been sparked off by her own ill temper. I thought that she was developing into a responsible young woman. she knew now that it was ridiculous to continue to blame Joyce for her inadequacies in dealing with older girls in general. I hope she was not rude to you?’ Miss Norman blushed. Clearly. It would be a terrible shame and loss to the School if she were to be passed over because of this one incident.‘It seems as though everything conspired against you last week. despite Matron’s entreaty. consequently they had been stunned when a breathless Suzanne eventually arrived at the Prefects’ room. at last I am facing up to the truth. I might add. Having previously warned Gillian that she would be delayed by a late music lesson. when I thought it over later. She did.

In a hesitant voice. the first on her own. and stopped her as she was about to enter the House Staff room. treated Miss Norman with nothing other than respect and the Mistress was scrupulously fair in her dealings with Joyce. who had been worrying about Joyce off and on all day. Miss Norman agreed. At last. They didn’t know about this one tonight. When Miss Norman left the Speisesaal.’ Gillian was anxious to catch up with Joyce. she was able to fulfil her promise. thereafter. moreover. Sadly. and Joyce resolved to speak to Miss Norman before the day was out. Gillian’s words rankled for the rest of the day. was to profess to a complete lack of fondness for Joyce. Joyce asked the House Mistress if she could spare a few minutes for a talk. henceforth. Miss Norman accepted Joyce’s apology and in turn expressed regret for her own hasty remarks. for the remainder of Joyce’s School career.’ she had told Nancy. Gillian. nevertheless. Joyce. When she expressed those doubts. had wondered about the purpose of her sister’s proximity to that particular corridor and had hoped that she had managed to speak to Miss Norman first. for she wanted Joyce to start the Spring Term. the atmosphere between pupil and Mistress was cool and formal. ‘It will be enough to let the Staff know when we are going to meet. Joyce slipped out after her.that she had happened to be passing through the side passage at that precise time. with a clean slate. Joyce’s bad behaviour during her first term at the School had coloured the Mistress’s feelings towards her for good. but. but Gillian had vetoed the idea. and a short. Miss Norman was to refer to her former pupil as her ‘pet aversion’ and. The matter ended there. but as usual it was difficult to find time to do so. nominate a Prefect from each House to remain on duty during meetings. she managed to engineer a brief meeting and was very disappointed to find out that Joyce had not yet spoken privately with Miss Norman. Eventually. simply because it was arranged at short notice. private conversation ensued. on the Friday following the firework affair. Joyce took offence and flounced off in high dudgeon. None of the Prefects had heard as much as a whisper about the fireworks plot and had been furious that the Middles had taken full advantage of their meeting to carry out their mischief. Gillian was particularly keen to see the problem resolved before the end of the term. . many years later. Gillian feared that she had lost her nerve and suspected that she would never get round to it. for she was busy with her duties for much of the week. In future I shall personally ensure that at least one member of Staff in each House is given advance warning of our meetings. though. Nancy Wilmot had proposed that they should. to show her sister that she was not funking it. after Abendessen. ‘I don’t think any Middle will try that game again for a while. Despite Joyce’s protestations that she had not had an opportunity to see Miss Norman alone.

’ ‘Yes. By contrast. quite the opposite. I shall be happy when these last few weeks of term are over. She and Gillian were friends of long-standing. Indeed.’ . actually. if you please! Poor Giovanna was speechless with indignation. don’t get me wrong.’ nodded Stacie with a grin. Joyce had made little effort to befriend the bed-ridden girl. but it’s also a tremendous responsibility. indeed are. Stacie! I didn’t hear you enter the room. and as a result. but I can think of several: Jo for example . wouldn’t you agree?’ ‘You could say that. I was just reflecting on the term so far.and Juliet. and as she never failed to write regularly. thank you. she takes great pride in St Clare’s. It’s just a great shame that you are not staying on for the Spring and Summer Terms as well. the same can be said for all the House Prefects. ‘Yes. as residents of Die Rosen they had spent numerous holidays in each other’s company during Stacie’s lengthy convalescence from her accident. last year she had been pronounced fit enough to return to the Chalet School once more. Stacie. ‘Oh. It was not surprising. At least I think so. Gill. Everything all right?’ enquired Stacie. It’s not often you are caught daydreaming. ‘Besides. ‘There is certainly a competitive spirit between the Houses now. not to mention Gisela and Louise …’ ‘Hi! Stop! There’s no need to go through the lot!’ cried Stacie with a laugh. However. that Stacie had missed her companionship during term-time. they did not have much in common. it’s a terrific honour to be Head Girl. Gillian had gone out of her way to provide entertaining diversions for Stacie to alleviate the tedium of having to lie flat on her back day after day. allowing them the opportunity to work closely together. In fact. You will be remembered as one of the best. Stacie had looked forward to receiving her missive each Tuesday. each according to her own methods. Stacie. hence her solicitous enquiry. but that is not to say that any one of them was more competent than you. To tell you the truth. pulling up another chair and sitting down carefully. I still maintain that you have been. I’m willing to wager that not one of your august predecessors could have done a better job. she had noted Gillian’s pensive expression with some concern.Chapter XVII News from India ‘Penny for them. a very successful Head Girl. of course they would have handled the situation. Gill. and then to her delight. As for the others.my own House. of course. They take their roles as guardians of their Houses’ reputations very seriously. ‘But you have done jolly well in the circumstances.’ ‘That’s very kind of you to say so. On entering the Prefects’ room. it’s you. Then I shall no longer have to worry about those wretched Middles! I still can’t get over the cheek of Betty and co. It’s been somewhat eventful. Gillian!’ The Head Girl. therefore. thinking they could get away with lighting fireworks in St Clare’s .’ ‘I know! You were far away. This term she had been further thrilled to find herself promoted to Sub-Prefect under the leadership of her old ally. ‘I’m not complaining! Oh.’ Gillian nodded. stirred from her reverie and looked up to see Stacie Benson standing beside her. seated in a comfortable chair in a corner of the Prefects’ room. Although Stacie was closer in age to Joyce. Gillian had kept in touch by letter.’ Gillian smiled. Of that I have no doubt whatsoever. Life steadily improved for Stacie after she was permitted to attend the Annexe. and had regarded it as the highlight of her week.

more or less. the Head had received a visit from good Herr Braun. It had been her avowed desire to uphold the standard set by those Head Girls who had gone before. the Middles always contrived to keep her on her toes. so as to keep the final fortnight largely free for rehearsals and choir practice for the Christmas play. Soon she would be going up to the Sonnalpe for good. Gillian had not considered her innermost feelings regarding the end of her School career. at which point the room erupted with joy. Calling for silence. principal beneficiaries of her generous nature. Of course. and health. and it was considered to be of fundamental importance that they should receive as healthy an upbringing as possible in order to prevent illness later in life. Hours earlier. Thus. was placed above academic achievement. having observed an improvement in the weather on the Thursday morning of exam week. in the privacy of her little bedroom. brought home to her the reality of leaving. Proclaiming the good news to the School after Mittagessen. It was no exaggeration to say that she had grown into the job of Head Girl with remarkable speed and was almost enjoying it now that the School had settled. as her sister Joyce and Mrs Linton. and Miss Annersley was determined that the girls should be allowed outside at the very first opportunity. now only a few short weeks away. Many of the girls attending the School had relatives at the Sanatorium on the Sonnalpe. . and on no account were they to stray from the limits imposed by the Mistresses and Prefects on duty. there had been few chances for outdoor exercise since the last weekend of November. and in her own mind it had nothing to do with self-sacrifice. Indeed. and accordingly. and Gillian regretted that it had not cleared the air. but its rapid approach. into the new ways. the Sanatorium’s strong links with the School dictated such a regimen. Selfless to a fault. where the ice was thin. she ordered a suspension of all the afternoon’s tests. Gillian cast her mind back on the term once more. Due to heavy snowfalls and frosty nights. All her life Gillian had put the needs of others before her own wishes. Much later on. then Joyce would have to behave in an exemplary fashion in order to preserve the peace with her House Mistress. Miss Annersley was ever conscious of the need to balance work and rest. and although it would seem strange not to be returning to School for the Spring Term. In the Chalet School the interests of the pupils were paramount. Miss Annersley told her delighted audience that they would be spending the afternoon ice-skating. as much as she had hoped. had little free time to relax either. she was in no doubt that she had made the right choice. notwithstanding her protestations to the contrary. she was more than willing to set aside her own future in order to be with her mother. she could not help worrying about Joyce. Her sister’s report of her meeting with Miss Norman had not been very encouraging.The bell sounded just then and they were obliged to end their conversation. Nevertheless. she could not help feeling a pang of sadness at having to say farewell to her school life. as the day drew ever nearer. but all things considered. and with characteristic humanity and proficiency she had achieved that aspiration. Hitherto. and the Mistresses. Gillian could be justifiably content with her term. and in private she acknowledged that she would miss her friends and School very much. Also. Therefore. busy marking papers and writing up reports. The atmosphere in the School was markedly tense at this time as the girls underwent tests in all their subjects. regardless of the exam timetable. Miss Annersley reminded the excited girls that they must keep away from the landing stage. who had come over to report that the lake was now completely frozen over and had been declared safe for skaters. could affirm. If that were the case. especially. it was of some concern to Gillian that she would not be on hand next term to keep an eye on Joyce’s conduct The examinations were held during the first week of December.

‘Hi. and more than one helpful suggestion to tie the ends together and be quick about it. much to the disgust of Hilary. poor Maureen! I didn’t know. Do you remember how Maureen Donovan went through the ice and nearly drowned during our first term at St Scholastika’s?’ ‘Yes. ‘Shall we race to the middle and back?’ ‘Good scheme! Let’s get the others to join us. Down they went. and in the end Miss Wilson was brought in to adjudicate. ‘Aren’t you enjoying yourselves?’ ‘Of course we are!’ laughed Ida. and Jo Bettany nearly died of pneumonia after rescuing her. only to become horribly entwined. as she glided along.’ ‘Oh. ‘Ow! Oh. thank goodness. Not that it is without danger.’ panted Ida Reaveley. admiring the snow-laden mountain peaks all around her.’ called Gillian. it seemed an eternity before they were allowed to leave the confines of School.’ laughed Hilary. she declared Ilonka Barkockz to be the winner. Finally. and the girls of St Clare’s breathed a collective sigh of relief. ‘We will all have unbearably stiff leg and ankle muscles by then.’ ‘I had forgotten about that side of it. and they were many.’ owned Ida. merrily looking forward to their first skating practice of the season.’ ‘Jo’s perfectly healthy now. Evvy!’ she added hurriedly. so did the patience of her fellow pupils. before swinging around and flying back at top speed. It was a very close finish. who had witnessed the near-miss from the shore where she was instructing two young first-timers on the finer points of balance. and off they trudged through the snow in high spirits. they received the order to march down to the lakeside.’ ‘I’m not sure if you will think it so heavenly tomorrow. ‘It’s one of my favourite sports. sorry.’ ‘And it was so unnecessary. who was convinced she had won by the tip of her .’ cried Cornelia to the world in general. Miss Stewart came to her aid with a spare lace. Unfortunately. Luckily. you two! You both look as though you’ve been to a funeral!’ cried Evadne. It makes you think. announced that the lace had snapped on her boot. the two over-eager Juniors took it into their heads to strike out on the ice. pure and simple. ‘This is bliss. Don’t you love the thrill of skimming across the ice?’ ‘Glorious!’ agreed Hilary.’ Within minutes ten Seniors were heading out joyfully towards the centre of the frozen lake. The rheumatic fever left her with a dicky heart and she is more or less an invalid. but I have heard that Maureen has never fully recovered. clutching wildly at each other and the Head Girl was obliged to spend precious minutes sorting out the jumble of limbs and skates thrashing about on the ice. younger sister of Simone. doesn’t it?’ said Hilary soberly. Ida. She is lumbered with rotten health simply because she disobeyed the rules. who had thrown on their outdoor clothes and had dug out their skates at high speed in their eagerness to get onto the ice as rapidly as possible. with four girls vying for victory. I can put up with that any day. ‘Look where you’re going. cutting a neat figure-of-eight in the ice. and she was greeted with a barrage of groans and grumbles. swooping across to join her.For those girls. Corney! You’re going to do somebody an injury otherwise. ‘Even so. When Renée Lecoutier. ‘And to think we should be doing our History test right now. ‘This is bully! How I love skating on the lake. Without hesitation. at the moment her attention was turned towards Corney and Evvy. as a speeding Evadne swerved frantically to avoid her.

The staterooms are very splendid. Miss Wilson blew her whistle to end the fun. the parents of my sister-in-law Mollie. having been back and forth to India umpteen times over the years. but the truth is Robin and I have hardly had a minute to call our own since we reached dry land. The tests resumed. they returned to School red-cheeked and glowing in the late afternoon twilight. We were a bit alarmed when Mr and Mrs Avery. The exercise had given them good appetites for Abendessen and everyone slept soundly that night. There was a good library on board and I got through a fair number of books. However. When. Here we are well into the cool season. and still looks as good as new. despite having been built seven years ago. but as Robin remarked. I must say I felt highly embarrassed to hear my name booming out all over the place and people staring at me. failed to meet us outside the Purser’s office as we had agreed. but the halfday break had released the tension and the atmosphere felt much more relaxed as a result. they are old hands at long sea voyages. including quoits at which we became very skilled.I find it difficult to think of the ship as ‘she’ when it is called Viceroy! . though at the beginning we lost rather too many over the side for comfort. ‘Dear School. The following day they awoke refreshed. which means that the temperature is in the high 70°s or low 80°s most days and there is very little in the way of rain. at last. a well-timed and exciting piece of news arrived to divert thoughts away from impending exam results. it saved the bother of introductions later! Mr and Mrs Avery were absolute dears and looked after us superbly on the voyage. Mrs Avery enjoyed looking through the stacks of snaps I had brought for Dick . My apologies for not getting round to writing individual letters.nineteen and a half thousand tons. The Viceroy of India. which sounds awfully massive to me. ‘By the time you receive this. The nearest I had come to a sea voyage previously had been the crosschannel ferry. ‘The Viceroy of India is a very grand ship . It’s incredible to think that this weather is winter at its worst! ‘But to go back to the beginning: Herr Marani. who was travelling to the South of France on his own account. Although the envelope was addressed to Miss Annersley it was meant for the whole School and it was with happiness that the Head convoked a special assembly in Hall straight after Mittagessen. I expect you will be nearing the end of term and dear old Briesau will be covered in snow. at Marseilles. although I must have come back from India on a passenger ship when I was an infant. the Purser put out a message on the tannoy system and they came on the trot within a few minutes. The train journey was uneventful.’ (wrote Jo) ‘Greetings from your special correspondent in the Sub-Continent! I’m delighted to report that we arrived here in Coorg safe and sound. and we boarded the Peninsular & Orient passenger ship. The girls and Staff alike enthusiastically filed in to hear Miss Annersley read the lengthy missive. in the form of a muchanticipated letter from Jo Bettany.nose. Of course. The girls’ happy laughter floated towards Briesau on the freezing December air and the pale. For much of the voyage we relaxed on the promenade deck or played deck games. and I began to wonder if they had been stranded on the quayside by accident when the ship steamed away from Gibraltar. its last port of call. and I hope you will all forgive me if I address this first letter to everyone. but that doesn’t count as I don’t remember it. kindly agreed to escort us and we met him at Innsbruck station. low afternoon sun cast lengthy shadows on the ice as they skated. A few days after the end of the exams. if rather stiff in the leg.

Rob devotes all her spare time to the babies and is a great help around the house. who are returning to England for a long leave.and Mollie. but luckily he survived it all unharmed and went on to places well known to us through the Bible. while Maurice’s hair is very dark and will probably turn black. was on the longsome side and we were more than happy to chug into the railway station at last. The train journey. Reaching the Levant was exciting and at Port Said we enjoyed the spectacle of local merchants in little boats or on the quayside trading with the passengers up on deck. The sea trip had been very restful and we were raring to press on to Coorg and leave the hot and humid temperature of Bombay behind us. such as Babylon and Jerusalem and Damascus. to the Port of Calais. Bride and Jackie were much admired. but he only laughed. So the photos of Peggy. It felt as though we were sailing through the desert. they were prevented from travelling to the Sonnalpe due to an outbreak of Mumps amongst the Irish contingent. and Coorg in particular? . The monumental Gate of India is a very impressive view from the ship. if she’s reading this) . Miss Annersley. Mr Avery dealt with Customs. as always! . for much of the time.well. We spent a night in a hotel before starting the final leg of our journey. ‘What can I tell you about my first impressions of India. They say he is like his Auntie Jo. to be exact (don’t want to upset Miss Wilson. Once Mr Avery had travelled from India to England overland . The babes are very healthy specimens and have a lusty pair of lungs apiece which they use to good effect. for he was shot at by bandits on the Northwest Frontier and only just escaped being taken prisoner.I have learned more during this trip than I ever imagined possible and I haven’t even been trying! ‘Our voyage ended when we arrived in port at Bombay. So exciting was his journey that I suggested that he should write a book about it. and he entertained us with many wonderful tales of his adventures along the route. I think Mollie will really miss her when we leave India. Rix. Dick said he and Mollie felt like the sideshow in comparison. poor little mite! Though Dick says that Father had black hair too. I could use the stories in a book sometime. The Averys spent all of their furlough in Ireland.about six years ago. and we all fairly dashed from the car into the bungalow to get our first view of them. for there was flat sand either side of us as far as the eye could see. It looks as though Maeve is going to take after her cousin Sybil in colouring as she has coppery hair. Although they had planned a flying trip to Austria to see their other grandchildren. so perhaps he will end up resembling him. Rob and I loved looking at the camels! The next port of call was Aden and we went ashore briefly to remind our feet what the good earth feels like after days at sea. He has arranged for a colleague and his wife. ‘The one hundred and seven mile trip through the Suez Canal made a very pleasant change from sea views. though it must have been nail-biting enough at the time. This brings me to an admission -You were right. Mr and Mrs Avery were just as eager to see Dick and Mollie’s new twins as Rob and I were. The goods were actually hauled up in buckets to the passengers! We couldn’t resist the chance to try our luck at bartering with the traders and ended up buying lots of trinkets. to the southern end of the Western Ghats. We marvelled at the engineering feat that made it possible. I hope so. standing on the railway line between Bombay and Coorg. Dick will be taking us to Poona for the last week of our stay before we embark on the return voyage. I was surprised that we reached our destination at all for the number of animals. principally goats and cows. to accompany us on the voyage as far as Marseilles. I could be tempted! There was one I particularly liked. so Rob and I were able to stand back and absorb the new sounds and sights of this exciting and bustling land. and said that if I wanted to. staying with their daughter Bridget and her family. almost the length of the West coast. That reminds me.

which Dick tells me are mostly over five thousand feet high. we came upon orange groves. that I don’t get much practice driving in straight lines here. which I can well believe.Coorg got its name from a corruption of the Kanarese word Koagu meaning steepness. I thought we had left the mountains behind us in Austria so it was a considerable shock to see so many thickly forested hills. in the west of the district. Dacia says that if I can handle Indian traffic then I should have no trouble on Austrian roads and I believe her. so I am determined to return to Austria a competent driver. Dick and I set out on a little expedition of our own to visit the home that once belonged to our parents. but as I always skipped the boring bits. I’m getting awfully good at swerving around cows and goats in the middle of public roads and ox-carts too. for now at last I will be able to picture them when I am far away from here. certainly. but Dacia is teaching me to drive . When we arrived he wheedled permission to go inside. by any means. This was where I was born and it is also where Father and Mother both died. but a sense of profound regret. We also visited the memorial and had a few quiet moments alone with our thoughts. for I believe that one cannot truly grieve for people one has never known. Come to think of it. Dacia Parsons. ‘Rob and I have met a lot of people since we have been in India. I find it hard to express my feelings about it not exactly sadness. She is a regular magnet for adventures and has involved us in one or two already. I think. whom we met on the second day after our arrival. Coorg district is much more rugged than I ever imagined. but Robin keeps pointing out.one day soon I shall drive up to the bungalow and surprise him. evergreen timber forestations abound. Dacia tends to the cavalier approach. He also claims that I should have known about the terrain since he described the place in detail in several of his early letters. which I had very much hoped would happen. cane sugar and millet just some of the crops cultivated. ‘Five days ago. rising to the Kanataka Plateau. But I can just hear Jem on the subject if I were to embed the rear of his precious Hispano-Suiza in Die Rosen’s front door. I couldn’t say! Here. There is so much to see in this great land and the pity of it is we cannot possibly do it justice in one visit. once I have mastered the art of reversing. It is a fertile area. and only stops when she’s made contact with something. and yet we have seen only a fraction of the country. there are not very many straight alpine roads. so it was rather a poignant occasion for me. Oh. where we are. and hilly too. thanks to the Upper Cauvery River and its tributaries. and Dick too. his comments would most probably be audible as far away as the SubContinent. There again. coffee. We have been invited either to luncheon or dinner parties nearly every day and have been entertained like royalty. and invariably the car breaks down and we have to send for her father’s chauffeur to rescue us. I haven’t told Dick yet. Dacia is about my age and very jolly.For a start. and one more thing before the geog lesson ends . a vastness that has to be seen to be appreciated. We have seen some rice fields nestling in valleys and yesterday. after all. Most of the partying has been courtesy of the daughter of the District Commissioner. when we headed south. She says that’s what rear bumpers are for. for those who are interested. tea. the steepness. with rice. but timber is not the only crop. I’m glad that I have seen these places. but I haven’t got time to go into them in detail! Suffice it to say that she has her own motor car and the three of us head off in a different direction every morning or afternoon to visit temples and shrines and other aspects of Indian life. I mean! Mr Avery told me that it is sometimes called the Wales of India because of the rugged landscape. so that shouldn’t bother me! . a bit nervously to my mind.

S. she met them in the corridor and ushered them in with a quizzical expression on her face. Mrs Linton had that bad spell during the summer. Many difficulties had been faced and overcome. Hilda. of course. and together we have concluded that the lesions are rapidly spreading in both lungs and cannot be treated. After which. for it was just after Frühstück.’ she said. Opening the door of her study. Or have they all turned into plaster saints this term? How about Miss Annersley setting a letter to India as prep? Bet that idea would be popular! ‘Love from Jo ‘P. she has deteriorated alarmingly. Jem and Madge Russell getting out of the car. Miss Annersley began to relax. Unsurprisingly.’ Her voice trembled at that point and she bit her lip. so does her resistance to infection. frankly. and she dared to hope for a tranquil end to the term. and Jem too. but I often wonder how you are faring at Briesau and hope to hear from one of you at the very least before the year’s end. and as her condition worsens. we expected her to make some headway. well. ‘Madge. she went over to the window and saw.’ . her spirits are low. when the girls were last up. ‘Hilda! We have bad news about Mrs Linton. I have exchanged letters with the Sonnalpe people.‘If you think I am having far too good a time to think of you all back at the Tiernsee. We sought the opinions of outside specialists. Miss Annersley swung round to face Jem Russell. Not good at all. ‘It’s not good. Curious to know who was paying the School such an early and unannounced visit. three doctors who attended a conference at the Sonnalpe a few weeks ago. that is not the case. then early into the new one. With less than ten days of the term remaining. Couldn’t bear to hear it spoken everywhere and have no earthly notion of what was being said!'’ Jo’s suggestion inspired a good number of girls to put pen to paper and she was gratified to receive them all. Anyone willing to write and tell me the latest? Unless I miss my guess. But since half term. For a short time we were encouraged to see an improvement in her appetite and she showed signs of increased vitality. unable to finish the sentence. ‘But this is quite a surprise! What brings you here at this hour of the day?’ Madge Russell’s pretty features looked strained. Jem fears …. As the Head was contemplating all of this in her study. to her great astonishment. the Middles will have been up to all sorts of tricks. ‘Jem?’ Jem cleared his throat and began to explain. in fact. Her appetite has all but disappeared and as a result she is losing weight. it’s good to see you. if you remember. I am learning Hindustani as fast as I can. The cough has returned and she suffers from irregular bouts of feverishness. and she replied with a gravity the Head had rarely heard before. a car pulled up outside unexpectedly. if not before the end of the year as she hoped.

‘How long. but she could see no way of softening the blow. But as Jem has just told you. this case is special.’ ‘I see.’ Miss Annersley nodded in agreement.’ said Jem guardedly.’ Miss Annersley had a dozen questions whirling around in her head.’ ‘Of course! Don’t worry. It continues to spread. Jem?’ ‘You must understand that with the pulmonary tuberculosis at such an advanced stage.’ ‘Does Mrs Linton know she is dying?’ ‘Yes. But. I have to admit. she cannot be expected to live much longer. I shall telephone first to check before making arrangements to go up to the San.’ Jem looked up. ‘She wants you to go to see her. I know you do not like to leave your patients for long. ‘One more thing. but she confined herself to one for the present. An almost overwhelming wave of compassion came over her as she thought of the anguish facing Gillian and Joyce. Hilda.’ Jem replied shortly. Jem. We have a . ‘We have tried everything. Of course I shall go. to be perfectly honest.Chapter XVIII Mrs Linton Hilda Annersley looked despairingly at the doctor. It will be distressing enough for them as it is. ‘Yes.’ It was achingly clear to the Head now why both Madge and Jem had felt it imperative to make the journey down from the Sonnalpe. Hilda. ‘Oh. and take them back with you?’ Madge replied sombrely. ‘If there is anything else on her mind she did not mention it. but the Head could not have imagined that her health would decline so dramatically. ‘You have come here to break the news to Gillian and Joyce.’ said Madge. Madge was right. Mrs Linton’s wish was paramount. Miss Annersley took a deep breath while she considered the situation.’ ‘Me?’ Miss Annersley responded with surprise. ‘It all depends upon Mrs Linton. but we cannot arrest the disease at all. Gillian and Joyce have lived with us at Die Rosen for the better part of two years. and besides. It is only a matter of time now. ‘I should leave it for a day or so. well. I think it would be better if they were to return to School for the last few days of term. Jem rose from his seat and walked over to the window with shoulders bowed. it may be too late by then. My first duty is to my patients.’ added Madge. One short visit a day is all she can manage. Hilda. Jem! Is there nothing you can do?’ He shook his head sadly. Certainly. the familiar routine may be of some solace to them. ‘We debated whether or not to wait until the end of term. especially when …’ Her voice trailed off and she remembered the last time she saw Mrs Linton. Jem. her voice steady once more. I suppose. Hilda. But I must consider the family too and. I think she would like to hear you talk about the girls. if that is what she wants. last night Mrs Linton asked to see her girls. We cannot deny her what could be her final chance to talk to them. before turning to face the two women. she looked frail then. ‘Are you going to keep Gillian and Joyce for the remainder of the term?’ ‘We’ll see how it goes.’ Miss Annersley assured him. which was my preference. but if they come back here. ‘You are right. too. If she would like them to be near her then of course we shall allow them to remain. ‘It was good of you to make the journey here.

but now. ‘And both together.’ ‘You will tell them the whole truth. As the car neared the Sanatorium. hunched miserably beside the door over on the far side of the back seat. to find Dr and Mrs Russell standing in front of the Head’s desk.’ replied Madge. reaching for the bell. Hilda. she wished that she could turn and go back to School. and she knew immediately that they had brought bad news. so irresistibly enchanting in happier times. but at present they both sensed a need to keep themselves in check for their mother’s sake. Gillian experienced a stab of uneasiness. bordering on fear. ready to proffer a comforting hand whenever sorrow threatened to overcome either girl. dear. For a moment or two she felt quite panic-stricken. Joyce! This is a coincidence!’ Gillian had exclaimed.’ . Gillian nodded. almost at the end of the journey. and appeared no more than a blur of brilliant whiteness flashing by the motorcar as it climbed the long coach road up to the Sonnalpe. had been kept in the dark about her own mother’s serious illness and. not trusting herself to speak. ‘Feeling a little nervous. ‘Try not to worry. all at once Gillian had been overcome with a sense of foreboding. Gillian stirred herself to glance over at Joyce. At that moment a chill dread had gripped Gillian’s heart. two very stunned girls had been shepherded into Dr Russell’s car for the journey to their beloved mother’s bedside. even as she tapped on the door. ‘What are you doing here?’ On hearing that Miss Annersley had sent for Joyce too. but the doctor and Mrs Russell between them had gone on to make clear the virtual hopelessness of Mrs Linton’s condition. Madge Russell was seated between them. Without waiting for a response from within. both Gillian and Joyce managed to keep their emotions under control. when a child. they had been taken aback to bump into each other in the corridor.’ Gillian stared with unseeing eyes out of the side window of the car. it had seemed that they could not get there fast enough in her haste to reach her mother.’ ‘Then shall I arrange for them to come here?’ asked Miss Annersley. ‘Goodness. here. ‘Don’t worry. she was proven to be correct. Having been summoned to the Head’s study independently. I shall not hide the truth from them. Gillian?’ she asked softly. had found it terribly hard to cope with her death. won’t you?’ The Head was most anxious that Gillian and Joyce should be told immediately that their mother was dying. she is still your mother and she will recognise you and you will recognise her. Jem sighed. Nor shall I build up their hopes falsely. It would not have been fair to leave her to break the news alone. The snowy mountainous landscape. held no appeal today. Madge Russell. ‘Or would you prefer to see them separately in their Houses?’ ‘Oh. the gravity of their mother’s condition. for she herself. When she had got into the car at Briesau. as a result. in her wisdom. as gently as possible. Besides. understood the Head Girl’s apprehension and patted her shoulder. Joyce had reminded him that Mrs Linton had suffered relapses on more than one occasion before but had always managed to pull through.particular obligation to those girls and that is why I decided to accompany Madge here today. Sadly. At first unable to grasp the significance of his words. Dr Russell had explained to them. We shall take them up to the Sonnalpe straight away. I think. she had entered the study with Joyce following more deferentially. In a few brief sentences. There would be time enough to give vent to their deepest feelings. I promise you. Shortly afterwards. the unexpectedness of the news had left them confused and shocked. Just remember that although she is very ill. Occasionally. But in the main. That would be cruel in the extreme. please.

Madge led the way to the bedside and. The evening before she had implored the Russells to break the news to her daughters. and at length. Gillian bravely kept up the chat with an account of the great storm. I hope you know how honoured you are to get a visit from us on a weekday. The Chalet School had done great things for both her girls. low-pitched voice. announced their arrival in her sweet. ‘Hello. You can help her by doing most of the talking yourselves. Would you like to rest now?’ . and immediately they could see how difficult it was for her to talk. Dr Jem left them to make their way at a measured pace and rushed in through the door for a swift consultation with the duty nurse. and yet had she not succumbed to illness in the first place they should never have had the opportunity to go to the School. she reflected. ‘Joyce and I have come to see you. Punctuated by laboured breaths. ‘Hello. She desperately wants to see you.‘I … have been wondering about that. and even though it will be very hard for you. thought her mother fondly. Dr Jem stood behind her. Gillian realised that it was up to her to carry out Dr Jem’s injunction to be cheerful. Joyce managed to join in and add a few anecdotes herself. ‘I’ve been going on too long. Gillian was afraid that her legs were not going to carry her up the steps and she was thankful for Madge’s supportive arm. ready to return if things got too much for either party. and anything else that came into her head. that she should selflessly attempt to jolly her along even in the midst of her own grief. gaunt and still against the pillows. Together. ‘But I do want you both to remember that your mother will not be able to talk for very long. Winifred! I have two surprise visitors for you!’ Mrs Linton turned her head slowly and raised her eyes towards the little group. Gill. She was more than thankful that they had benefited from her own misfortune. eventually she succeeded in telling them how pleased she was to see them.’ Dr Jem assured her from the front of the car. It was typical of Gillian.’ faltered Gillian. for they could see only too well for themselves the ravaging effects the disease had wrought on their mother. ‘I would hate it if the last memory I had was of a stranger.’ ‘It won’t be like that.’ Mrs Linton glanced anxiously at Madge Russell. beckoning to them. instantly reviving her and dispelling the light-headedness that was threatening to overwhelm her. listening to their stories and watching them. Jem and Madge Russell slipped away from the bedside at this point. At the sight of Gillian and Joyce she managed a little smile. ‘I’m sorry. Mummy darling!’ she said brightly. I would like you to try to be cheerful. Opening the door. For a while. At the closed door of Mrs Linton’s room. but remained within easy reach. It was not easy for the two girls to keep going. for it made her suffering all the easier to bear. The chill draught had a bracing effect on Gillian. and a rush of cold alpine air met them. Mrs Linton lay quietly.’ The car pulled up before the great front door of the San and the occupants got out. but stopped abruptly when she noticed Mrs Linton showing signs of restlessness. but her face almost immediately took on a haunted appearance once more. ‘My darling girls. Madge kissed both girls tenderly on the cheek and let go of their hands with an encouraging squeeze. who nodded her head slightly. In a bed by the window lay Mrs Linton. and incapable of talk just then. With Joyce blinking back the tears at her side. Mummy. she indicated to them to enter. Gillian chatted away about the goings-on at School. forcing herself to replace the look of distress on her face with a smile.’ she said apologetically.’ she uttered faintly. they stepped inside. and she resolved to do her best no matter how heartbreaking it might be.

but soon gave up the charade and paced up and down distractedly. Mrs Linton looked at them lovingly. Joyce. not knowing what to say. Gillian tried to sit patiently. you are very severe on yourself.’ said Gillian. I was neither truthful nor decent when I was younger. ‘It’s all right.Mrs Linton smiled up at her beloved daughter. ‘But it wasn’t your fault! It was me! I am so deeply ashamed of myself now. Gillian pulled her into her arms and tried to soothe and quieten her. and then summoned her waning strength to reply. unlike Gill. who speedily removed Gillian and Joyce to an anteroom. but I do want to say some important things to you. Dr Jem and a nurse promptly came on the scene to assist. ‘I am a little tired. Gillian and Joyce had already shot back to their mother’s bedside. If you knew how proud I am of the two of you…’ she stopped for breath and was overtaken by a prolonged coughing fit. ‘Now darlings. and that was my error. But there is nothing for me to forgive. the door opened and Dr Jem walked in.’ ‘Yes. though she could not be sure if it was a trick of the dim December light. Instantly. and I honestly believe that over the past year in particular you have put that childish behaviour decisively behind you. Mrs Linton waited until her younger daughter calmed down. you would not be pleading for forgiveness at this minute. At last. I will admit that I indulged you when you were a child rather more than was good for you. But I am sure he will allow you if he thinks your mother is not too tired. ‘Oh Mummy.’ They waited for half an hour in silence. I freely confess.’ ‘Is that it?’ asked Joyce mournfully. her eyes brimming with unshed tears. She looked even more drained of colour than before to Gillian’s mind. And as for not loving you! I am your mother and have loved you and Gillian unreservedly from the . Gill. Suddenly she could bear it no longer. trying to hide the trepidation in her voice.’ she cried pathetically. girls. for he found himself addressing his wife alone. trying to reassure the terrified pair. Joyce leaning against Madge Russell’s shoulder. With a tiny smile of tender understanding. ‘Dr Jem forbids me to chat for long. But I have some things to say to you and Joyce before you go. ‘You and Joyce both know how things stand. Mummy. ‘I was saying before how proud I am of you both.’ Joyce winced on hearing that last sentence and blushed violently. I am quite prepared for whatever God has ordained for me. ‘May we not go back in again?’ ‘We must await Dr Jem’s permission. she had to say it. accompanied by Mrs Russell. I think?’ They nodded miserably. ‘If you girls would like to go back to…’ The remainder of his sentence was left unspoken. she burst into loud sobs. Mrs Linton apologised for the interruption and insisted that she was able to continue to talk to them. But growing-up is a long process of learning from one’s mistakes. ‘Darling. If that were not so. ‘Dr Jem will look after her. for her voice was very weak and they were determined not to miss a word.’ said Mrs Russell.’ They pressed forward. try not to be too sad. ‘I tried to bring you up to be truthful and decent and to distinguish right from wrong.’ There was a long pause as Mrs Linton ceased talking to recover her breath. You have developed into fine young women and I am in no doubt that you will do very well for yourselves in the future after you leave School. How could you have loved me when I was so horrid? Can you ever forgive me?’ Unable to hold back the tears any longer.

minute you took your first breaths in this world. I hope that one day you may come to know this love for yourselves.’ By now Gillian, too, was fighting back tears, despite her resolution to be strong. Joyce managed a tiny smile of gratitude, but Mrs Linton had not finished speaking. ‘Now I beg you to look towards the future with courage, girls. I wish with all my heart that I could be with you as you reach adulthood and prepare to go out into the world. I dream of all the fun and excitement and secrets we might have shared, but it is not to be. More than anything in this life I want my hopes for you to be realised, so I ask you to try to discover your heart’s desire and then reach out and seize it with both hands. And whatever your chosen role in life, I pray with all my heart that you will both know much happiness and good health.’ Dr Jem stepped into the room to observe his patient at close quarters. It was evident that Mrs Linton was tiring rapidly, and her breathing becoming shallower and more difficult by the minute. He moved over to the bed, but Mrs Linton waved him to one side with a faint movement of her hand. ‘Just one more minute, doctor,’ she gasped, her voice no louder than a whisper now, before mustering her final reserves of energy. ‘Darlings, I must say goodbye to you for now. You do not know how happy I am to have seen you today, but it is time for you to go back to School for the last few days of term …’ ‘No!’ cried Joyce frantically. ‘Mummy, I’m not leaving your side,’ declared Gillian. ‘Yes you are,’ replied their mother softly. ‘I am determined that you will see the term out, Gill. You are Head Girl, after all, and it would be quite wrong of me to allow you to miss the final days. My mind is made up.’ In vain, the girls beseeched their mother to let them stay with her. She would not yield, however, for above all she did not want them to spend their days in the San waiting for the inevitable ending, although she stopped short of saying so. All the talking was taking a heavy toll on Mrs Linton and she was barely able to speak now for shortness of breath. When the first signs of feverishness began to emerge also, Dr Jem called a halt to the debate with firmness. ‘You heard your mother, you two, and you must respect her wishes. She is very tired and needs to rest.’ His stern voice brought Gillian and Joyce to their senses, and they took their leave with aching hearts and long yearning backward looks towards their adored mother. They prayed that they might see her again, but the uncertainty made their departure agonizing. Madge Russell took the Lintons back to Die Rosen for Mittagessen, despite their protests that they could not eat a thing. However, they both managed some soup and rolls, thanks to Madge’s powers of persuasion, and felt a little better for the nourishment. Gillian still longed to stay on at the Sonnalpe and even urged Madge to let her do so, but she got nowhere. The Russells were in complete agreement with Mrs Linton. So it was that, in the late afternoon, Dr Maynard drove the two distraught girls back to School, where Miss Annersley and Matron Lloyd were anxiously awaiting their return. Matron hastily assessed the girls’ condition and recommended bed for them both. A short time before the Lintons’ return to Briesau, Miss Annersley had called the members of the two Sixths together to break the tragic news that Mrs Linton was gravely ill and not expected to recover. The Head had felt that it would be better for the girls to know in advance, in order to save Gillian and Joyce the strain of having to relay the news themselves. The Sixth Formers were very upset to hear about Mrs

Linton; some of the girls had met her once or twice and she had shown much interest in their activities. They knew how hard it would be for Gillian and Joyce and had promised Miss Annersley that they would do everything they could to help. ‘The trouble is, I don’t know what we can do,’ said Evadne sadly, after Miss Annersley had left the room to await the imminent arrival of the Sonnalpe car. ‘Poor Gill and Joyce! What a dreadful shock it must be for them,’ commented Nancy. ‘Out of the blue like that.’ ‘I don’t know if it was entirely unexpected,’ mused Hilary. ‘Oh, I don’t mean that they knew that Mrs Linton was so badly ill. But Gillian did say when they came back after half term that her mother seemed very listless. I think she has been worrying about her ever since.’ ‘It’s just plain awful for them,’ said Cornelia sympathetically. A motherless child herself, she felt deeply for the Lintons. ‘I wish we could do something to help them. At least we can tell them how sorry we are,’ she added dolefully. ‘Say, what is going to happen to Gillian?’ asked Evadne suddenly. ‘She is leaving in a few days, but now that her mother isn’t going to…well, er …you know …, what will she do with herself? Her only reason for leaving at Christmas was to look after Mrs Linton.’ ‘Perhaps she will stay on until the end of the Summer Term?’ suggested Maria Marani, sister of the first Head Girl of the School, Gisela Marani. ‘If she does, then who will be Head Girl?’ wondered Ilonka Barkockz. They all looked at Hilary Burn. ‘Good point, Lonny!’ she said noncommittally. The following morning, Miss Annersley drove up to the Sonnalpe after consultations with the San. As she sat beside the bed, the Head was shocked by Mrs Linton’s pallor and emaciated little figure, and privately doubted that she should be there at all. Later on, Miss Annersley discovered that Mrs Linton had insisted that the visit should go ahead, against the doctors’ wishes. For it turned out that Mrs Linton had a favour to ask the Head Mistress and she did not care to put it off any longer. But first she wanted to hear how Gillian and Joyce were coping back at School. Mrs Annersley was able to report that they had slept well and had eaten a reasonable Frühstück. Diplomatically, she refrained to mention that Matron had slipped them a draught to help them sleep. She then went on to describe, glowingly, Gillian’s term as Head Girl, making Mrs Linton feel very proud of her elder daughter. But it was what she had to say about Joyce that caused Mrs Linton even more pleasure, for it was unexpected. ‘Winifred, I have something else to tell you which will give you much happiness, I have no doubt. Joyce is to be made a Sub-Prefect next term.’ Mrs Linton could hardly believe the Head’s news. ‘She is? How wonderful!’ ‘Joyce deserves it. She has proved herself to be a dependable and helpful Dormitory Prefect and, this term especially, has shown much character and levelheadedness in difficult situations. I have no qualms about promoting her to a position of seniority. You may be very proud of her.’ Tears appeared in Mrs Linton’s poor sunken eyes as she absorbed the good news. ‘She asked me to forgive her for all her bad deeds, yesterday,’ she said, with a catch in her voice. Miss Annersley smiled. ‘There’s any amount of good in Joyce. It just took longer to surface, that’s all. Developing a conscience is clear evidence of the fact.’ Mrs Linton nodded. ‘It cheers me to hear you say that, for I believe it too.’ She fell silent and her eyes closed. Thinking that she had stayed long enough, Miss

Annersley made to move, but Mrs Linton was not asleep, she was gathering her diminishing strength for a final appeal to the Head. ‘Hilda, please do not go just yet. I have a great favour to ask of you,’ she said. ‘And I am anxious to know if you will approve of my plan. It is so very important to me.’

‘Does Mrs Linton herself expect Gillian to carry on as Head Girl?’ ‘She didn’t mention it and nor did I. knowing that she has only a short time to live.’ acknowledged the Head ruefully.’ ‘What will happen to her at the end of the Summer Term?’ enquired Miss Stewart.’ declared Miss Annersley. and that will necessitate visits to England. ‘Though I rather think that Gillian will refuse to leave the Sonnalpe if her mother is still alive at the beginning of next term. Mrs Linton desperately wants Gillian to be with Joyce and her friends at School. In itself. ‘You can have no objections. the request appeared straightforward. they will be free to return to England or do whatever they choose. I doubt very much that she will make a fuss if she is asked to stand aside for Hilary. I understand that Madge Russell has indicated that she would be happy for her to help with the Die Rosen nursery folk.’ remarked Miss Wilson.’ said Matron sensibly. of course not.’ Miss Annersley’s first action on returning to the School from the Sanatorium had been to call a meeting of the senior Mistresses in order to discuss Mrs Linton’s proposal. In fact. Then.’ ‘So now you are wondering what to do about Hilary Burn. the trouble rests with the Headgirlship. Hilda? Time is running out. tragically. ‘Ma chère Hilda. I should imagine.’ ‘You could say that!’ commented Miss Wilson dryly. ‘However. and Gillian was going to housekeep and look after her mother. surely?’ she added quizzically. for the first few difficult months at any rate. There will be Mrs Linton’s estate to sort out as well. I tried to persuade her last summer to consider it very seriously. ‘So. ‘I understand your dilemma. I believe that they had a plan to buy a chalet up there for Mrs Linton to live in.’ . at least during the spells when she was feeling better.’ ‘Yes. when Joyce leaves School. of course. what do you propose to do. Now. Jeanne!’ replied the Head hurriedly. However. Miss Annersley had pledged to honour her dying wish.’ said Mademoiselle Lachenais. ‘No. for I could not have given her an answer then and there. Had she been staying on for the three terms. that will not happen and.Chapter XIX The Last Days Of Term ‘I am happy in principle to agree to Mrs Linton’s request. we shall deal with that if it arises. ‘We discussed that too.’ mused Miss Soames. ‘She is one of the most good-natured pupils we have ever had. there are some difficulties to be overcome first. But she was determined to go up to the Sonnalpe for good after Christmas. Hilary is waiting in the wings. If we do decide to keep her on though. Deeply touched by her dignity and courage.’ ‘Knowing Gillian. No. I am certain that I speak for all. I am sure she won’t. and I am starting to regret my precipitate action in informing her so early in the term. In fact. so she will be kept busy one way or another. ‘You were not to know that Mrs Linton’s health would decline so critically. when I say that we should be delighted to have Gillian with us for two terms more. I shall send immediate word to the San. without question she would have been Head Girl for the duration. having been promised the post at the beginning of term. for Mrs Linton simply wanted Gillian to remain at the School for the remainder of the year rather than leave at Christmas as had been planned. Her mother wishes Gillian to stay on at the Sonnalpe until Joyce has finished her schooling so as to be close by.

She said she felt bad enough insisting upon their return to School for the last days of term and she did not want to upset Gillian even more.’ argued Nell Wilson. and I would not like to set a precedent. since there had been no more snowfalls during the morning. ‘Perhaps they could be joint Head Girls?’ Miss Annersley considered the idea for a minute. Miss Norman had been looking out for Joyce. has lived at Die Rosen as a member of the family for so long. in view of her closeness to Gillian who. That being so. ‘It has never been done before. if you come to that. immediately offered the girl her sympathy. Do not forget that she is leaving at the end of the Summer Term.’ put in Miss Nalder. After Mittagessen. that they should be spared the grief of seeing their mother grow weaker day by day. Miss Annersley informed the girls that they were to have an hour’s exercise in the fresh air before starting the afternoon’s rehearsals for the play. and they had been overwhelmed with grief. it is not quite the same thing. Hilda?’ enquired Miss Norman. rightly. So Gillian and Joyce went to Mittagessen. and set about organising the sides. above all else. Con. ‘My contention is this: would it be fair to Hilary to deny her the Headgirlship? I think not. Con. for the tragic news of the previous day had sunk in well and truly after they had awakened. Gillian has had her term as Head Girl and.’ said Matron approvingly. saying that she would consult them again once she had given the matter further thought. ‘It would be invidious to ask her to make the choice.’ she said finally.’ ‘Does Gillian know that her mother wishes her to stay on?’ enquired Miss Stewart. she thanked them all for their comments and dismissed them. ‘Not as yet. Laughing at their imploring faces. well wrapped up to keep out the icy winter wind.’ ‘Have you spoken to Madame. but now more or less resigned to their mother’s fate. as Hilda said. that is all very well. Grace. she readily agreed. ‘Yes. Miss Wilson. She was not to know that help would soon be forthcoming from one of the two girls involved in the dilemma. Thirty minutes later. and wearing their nailed boots. ‘If we continue with Gillian. I cannot see that she will have any expectation of remaining Head Girl. In St Agnes’. As none of the Mistresses had anything more to say. looking very sad and wan. Left alone in her study. However. I called briefly at Die Rosen yesterday. We have no call for two Head Girls and it would be perceived. ‘With all respect. she brooded over the sad ending to the term and the impossible task facing her. Ivy.’ ‘She is Games Prefect already. Mrs Linton told me that she did not like to mention it to her until she had spoken to me.’ A silence fell and Miss Annersley looked at the grave faces around her. to be an accommodation to suit the circumstances. However. keen-eyed ‘Bill’ also observed that the Sixth Formers seemed subdued and less than .’ ‘She is very fair-minded. ‘I think not. she declined at the outset to stay on for the rest of the year. But she is determined.’ ‘Yes.‘So is Hilary.’ countered Nell.’ said Miss Stewart. the girls were ready to go outside. Nell. Matron Lloyd had kept Gillian and Joyce out of morning School. we shall be depriving Hilary of her chance to be Head Girl. who was in charge. Miss Annersley shook her head. found herself surrounded by an excited mob all begging to be allowed to have a snow fight. Madame said she would accept our decision but she will not seek to influence us. and on seeing her enter the Speisesaal. but it gets us no nearer to a decision. after all. by the end of the morning they had recovered their composure sufficiently for Matron to suggest a return to the familiar routine of School activities.

and came to a decision. so I assume that I will leave as agreed.enthusiastic about the prospect of a rough and tumble fight. ‘I know though! I’ve had an idea. for they were in no mood for jollity today. I can’t imagine what you must be feeling inside. for she has been ill for a long time and any improvement in her health this past year has always turned out to be temporary. After quick consultations. They had been greatly affected by the news of Mrs Linton and even more so by the dignified and brave return of Gillian and Joyce to their midst.’ ‘I suppose it would.’ continued Hilary eagerly. Trying to disguise her nervousness. We are good friends and I couldn’t do that to you. Noticing that Gillian was standing distractedly. full of contradictory thoughts.’ she began in a voice filled with sympathy. Hilary. Hilary! I didn’t realise you were there. of course. I see. but the effort was nearly too much for both girls. Joyce and I are still very shocked by the suddenness of it all. With relief and gratitude. ‘Would you rather be by yourself?’ asked Hilary gently. ‘Look. I shall miss her dreadfully and don’t want her to leave us.’ she said jerkily. and walked silently for a few minutes as they left the grounds by way of the wicket gate. a little away from the rest of the Sixth. Hilary at first hesitated. Hilary spoke quietly. you would be denied your chance.’ ‘Well. she decided to dive straight in at the deep end. ‘Why yes.’ She tried to smile at her friend. She manoeuvred around the group of girls until she arrived beside Gillian. old thing?’ Gillian looked around with a start. ‘Oh! Sorry. Dr Jem says that Mummy cannot recover. ‘No! I’d like you to walk with me. Gill. ‘Though I suppose we should not have been so surprised really. then she saw that Joyce had paired up with Cornelia. wondering if the Head Girl would rather be alone at present. Gillian bit her lip and blinked away a tear. . Slowing down the pace a little to allow the rest of the group to get well ahead.’ agreed Hilary. ‘Would you like me to partner you. I think you are coping very well. ‘Thank you. I… don’t know. Gill. and Hilary had something on her mind.’ ‘But what will you do. ‘You are to be Head Girl next term.’ ‘I can’t really describe how I feel. and started off down the narrow lake path towards Seespitz.’ interrupted Gillian vehemently. Is that still your plan?’ Gillian looked puzzled. they elected to walk to Seespitz. fighting to compose herself to add.’ admitted Gillian. and she hastened to offer them an altogether quieter activity. that you were expecting to leave School in a few days. It’s been so quick. ‘My head is in a whirl most of the time. uncertain now that she should proceed with her plan. This would be a good opportunity for a talk. ‘And it is courageous of you to say so. and began to choose their partners. Hilary judged that they could talk now without fear of being overheard. At length. If I were to continue in the post.’ She paused for a minute. but she has suffered so very much.’ and she turned her head away dejectedly to look at the frozen lake. ‘It’s this: you should stay on at School for the next two terms as Head Girl.’ ‘No I can’t. searching for a diplomatic way to broach the subject she wished to discuss. I know.’ They joined the end of the line. it would be wrong and selfish to want her to go on like this for ever. the girls accepted the mistress’s proposal of a walk. Gill?’ ‘Do? Oh. and that would be terribly unfair. Hilary. Hilary. of course! Mummy said nothing about it yesterday. Besides. ‘Gill… I’m so dreadfully sorry to hear about your mother.

‘Well. I have been considering what to do with the problem of the Headgirlship in the light of these changed circumstances.’ Hilary burst out. dear. However.’ she observed.’ ‘Then how would you feel if your father were to refuse your request? Would you not leave School disappointed not to have held the highest post?’ ‘Disappointed. if you still want me to be it. brandishing the epistle for Miss Annersley to see. I am not worried about being Head Girl even if I were to stay on. After Abendessen. Hilary. ‘I was thrilled to be offered the position of Head Girl of the Chalet School.’ she said with a smile. Miss Annersley. You say that you do not wish to become Head Girl next term if Gillian does not leave at Christmas as planned?’ Hilary shook her head vigorously. in my opinion. ‘It must be very urgent if it will not wait until the end of term.’ replied Hilary candidly. but it seems that I have not been the only one! Neither of you wish to deprive the other of the position. He may not be in favour of your staying on for a further three terms.’ began Hilary formally. midway between the eastern and western shores of the Tiernsee.Mummy would have to agree to my continuing at School. ‘I see! May I hear your reason for such a request?’ ‘It’s because I don’t want to be Head Girl next term if there is a chance that Gillian might stay on. ‘It is very urgent.’ Tactfully. ‘But the snag is that she doesn’t want to prevent me from taking over. is it not. Miss Annersley sat back in her chair and smiled at Hilary. Hilary. and I can take over next September. But I know it would not be right to accept it if Gillian were to continue. she would have had a whole year in the normal run of things. ‘What is it?’ ‘Miss Annersley.’ Miss Annersley nearly gasped. somewhat incoherently. but of course. Miss Annersley put down her pen and regarded the letter with curiosity. Hilary went to see Miss Annersley. It must go in the next post. by the time they reached the snow-covered water meadows at Seespitz. please do not tell her. That is the case. very nobly. Miss Annersley?’ ‘Yes. She can continue as Head Girl for the next two terms. ‘Truthfully. but she is far too ill now to be asked about it. After all. In any case. Nonetheless. I am writing to seek his consent to stay on for an extra year. so I am certainly not going to mention it to her.’ she ended doubtfully. Having been up at the Sonnalpe during the morning. but she set them aside when she saw the Second Prefect. Hilary had already finalised a plan and was determined to carry it out. Miss Annersley. I should be more than happy to stand aside for you. as Gillian does not know this yet. Hilary refrained from saying anything more on the subject just then and turned the conversation to other matters. . I am very tempted to accept your solution. I have to admit. Hilary saw where the conversation was leading and decided that she might as well give her explanation now and get it over and done with. but it really does rest with your father. one of you must take it on. yes. you have been busy! As a matter of fact. So I thought about it and came up with the perfect answer. as she paused to admire the majestic mountain peaks. Mrs Linton has asked me to keep Gillian at School until the end of the Summer Term. old thing. the Head was busy trying to catch up with end of term reports. I do not. ‘Come in. in which case I shall have to make a decision myself. That is. I should like your permission to send this letter to my father. suddenly conscious that she had not considered the possibility that the Head might have other ideas about who should be Head Girl next September.’ acknowledged the Head. impressed with Hilary’s honourable stand.

for their concentration wavered. I will take your letter and see that it is posted. with just two days to go before the performance. went down with sore throats at the start of the final week of rehearsals. that you will be unlikely to get a reply before the end of term?’ ‘Oh!’ That was the one thing Hilary had not considered. Eccentric and self-absorbed though Plato undoubtedly was. You realise. The first week of rehearsals had gone quite smoothly. For example. Yvette Mercier. I trust. he had told them that the play would be a complete disaster unless they applied themselves wholeheartedly to the task. ‘Very well then. preoccupied with Mrs Linton’s rapid deterioration. Feeling encouraged by the all-round improvement in performance. With four singers at present out of action. The timely rebuke had brought the girls to their senses.‘So. Plato had finally lost his temper. notwithstanding a minor hiatus in the orchestra pit when the first violin’s music fluttered to the floor as she was about to lead into the first carol. Having endured two days of disruption. dear. Joanna Linders and Klara Melnarti. as scenes involving the three either had to be left out or run through with their lines merely read by a Mistress. the loss of the trio appeared to have had an unsettling effect on the rest of the cast. although the members of the Sixth Form. for they hated the thought of disappointing Madame. better known as ‘Plato’ to his pupils. In common with all the Staff. resulting in missed cues and forgotten lines. found it hard to give the play their fullest attention. she confessed to a sore throat. almost all of the girls’ waking hours were devoted to preparations for the Christmas play. but in his anxiety to find replacements. He was greatly tempted to ask Joyce Linton to step in and replace Cornelia. and they had managed to get through the next rehearsal more or less word perfect. Plato had entertained hopes that the play could. his confidence had been shattered when three of the soloists. in the hope that he might use her talents in the coming year. Furthermore. he was becoming more fretful by the minute as he embarked on a frantic search for replacements. decided that he would make enquiries anyway as to whether Joyce might be prepared to sing.’ The Head deliberated for a few seconds. Now. so he sought out Miss Annersley for advice. opened her mouth to sing her first solo and instead croaked like a frog. Mr Denny. the Singing Master received another severe blow when. and Plato had been driven to a high state of anxiety wondering if they would recover in time. after all. The singing master threw up his hands and predicted nothing less than a wholesale epidemic of tonsillitis. Berating the girls for their carelessness. Alas.’ ‘Not when I explain everything to them. had declared himself to be delighted with their progress and looked forward optimistically to a successful performance on the day. By the middle of the last week of term. he realised that he should not approach Joyce directly. and with offering much sympathetic support to Gillian and Joyce. Rehearsals thereafter had become difficult and disjointed.’ was the confident reply. Hilary. Cornelia Flower. ‘Hmm. you can forget about me. The Head listened to his impassioned plea with a sympathetic . Under interrogation. to his absolute horror. your parents may take a very dim view of your rejection of the position. for all the girls in the School had taken to their roles with great enthusiasm and had worked like Trojans. ‘It’s not quite as easy as that. The Singing Master. for she was developing a promising soprano voice and he had been monitoring her progress. be rescued with a little judicial editing. another principal singer. he had been distressed to hear the sad news of her mother.’ said Hilary lightly. learning their speaking parts and the verses of the carols with little trouble.

she decided to search for Joyce herself.’ Joyce quickly wiped her eyes with a very crushed handkerchief and gulped. in a quiet voice. dear. Instead. it became clear to Joyce that Miss Annersley understood exactly the extent of her own misery. why not write a letter to your mother. she had lost her mother. Mr Denny affected such a dramatic display of despair that Miss Annersley felt obliged to agree to ask Joyce just to placate him. Will you help me. the Head Mistress decided to look inside. the Head began to talk of her own grief when. hitherto. It is a dreadful shock at first. she had not even considered members of Staff capable of having emotions! As she listened. Miss Annersley?’ ‘I’ll certainly stay with you while you write it. Joyce. Joyce. on observing the Head Mistress. But I might not do it very well. Sure enough. the Head saw that the girl had been crying her heart out. Hearing footsteps. please!’ ‘Very well. pulling up a chair for herself. ‘Stay where you are! I have been looking for you. ‘It was terrible to see Mummy looking so ill. and strangely honoured that the Head Mistress should reveal private details about her own life. hurriedly rose to her feet. however. Not wishing to trouble anyone. when Miss Annersley had finished speaking. I could try. A profound feeling of pity for the girl came over her and she hastened to the desk. ‘I know. ‘And that is why she wanted you to return to School to save you from further distress. I think you should sponge your face. as she had obviously suffered greatly herself. ‘Would you like to start it now?’ ‘Yes. ‘Would that not have been too upsetting for you all? But.’ said Miss Annersley quietly.ear but cautioned him against pressurising Joyce into taking on the solo role. a light was on and she discovered Joyce seated at a desk in a corner of the room. Ready to tear his hair out by now. rising from her chair.’ agreed the Head.’ sobbed Joyce. with a book unopened in front of her.’ She hauled Joyce to her feet and steered her gently to the nearest Splashery. if it is worrying you. at the age of thirteen. For an hour or so Miss Annersley sat with Joyce in the library while the letter was being crafted. for her eyes were red and swollen. Then the Head went off to fetch a pen and a stack of writing paper from the Staff room. ‘It’s all right. dear. That evening. the Head began to worry that she might have taken herself off to some far-flung part of the School. Immediately.’ The idea appealed to Joyce. but made no response. it is sometimes easier to put down on paper the things you find difficult to say. Joyce looked up in bewilderment and. wisely judging that numerous pieces of paper would be crumpled up before Joyce found the precise words to express her feelings. though she had no intention of forcing the issue. When .’ ‘Do you think she would have wanted you to do that?’ asked Miss Annersley. then.’ said Miss Annersley.’ ‘But she might die while we are here. who had never before heard a Mistress discuss such personal feelings. I can arrange for someone to take it up to the Sonnalpe for you. you will feel better for it. but the sentiments should be your own. Passing the library. ‘Well.’ replied the Head. Miss Annersley read the silence as an inability to speak and so did not press the grief-stricken girl to engage in conversation. Miss Annersley went over to St Agnes’ House to speak to Joyce. ‘But before you begin. She felt comforted. Surprised that the girl was not in the Senior common room. I didn’t even say goodbye properly … I couldn’t find the right words. Come along. It was a revelation to Joyce.

‘I shall tell Mr Denny that you will consider one solo. ‘I do hope so. Mr Denny wonders if you could take over Cornelia Flower’s solos. full of love and happy reminiscences. I’ll have a go.’ she added sadly. ‘But I nearly forgot the original reason for coming to look for you. . Do you not think she would be thrilled to hear that you have been chosen to sing Cornelia’s solos . and without any trace of self-pity. at any rate. generously overlooking the use of slang for once.’ ‘Fair enough.’ ‘I don’t know. I hope so. ‘Oh. I would love to.’ conceded Miss Annersley. you have been very good to me. ‘thank you very much for your help and kindness.Joyce finally decided that she had written enough. ‘Oh. so off to bed with you!’ Miss Annersley kept her promise to Joyce and the letter was duly taken up by car to the Sonnalpe early the following day. I don’t see why you shouldn’t.’ said Joyce slowly. ‘I know that your mother will be so pleased to receive this. or to be exact.’ murmured Joyce. The Head felt a lump rise in her throat as she read it. ‘I bet he is in a stew at the moment. Mrs Linton was overcome to read it. for sadly.’ Joyce was surprised and not a little flattered by the proposition. ‘Now.’ ‘I’m very glad to have been of assistance.’ agreed Miss Annersley.’ she prophesied. have it read out to her. but I am certainly not going to try to persuade you. Miss Annersley was rather surprised by her enthusiastic response. she was too weak to hold up the letter before her eyes.’ she continued shyly. if you are so keen.’ replied the Head Mistress with a smile. It was a beautifully composed letter.and she’s one of the best in the School?’ ‘I suppose so.’ she said irreverently. ‘Well. I think we have finished here. Doesn’t it seem …wrong. Miss Annersley. and there is the bell. And. ‘All right. she asked Miss Annersley to read it. That should please him!’ Joyce smiled for the first time since hearing the tragic news. ‘You could say that. And as she forecast. but I may not be able to do all of them. forgetting that she was addressing the Head Mistress. But I don’t suppose I should. Miss Annersley. somehow?’ ‘Not in the least! Your mother sent you back to School expressly in order to allow you to continue with everyday activities. I told him that I would ask. they are my favourite carols. I feel much better for having written those things.

At the end of the morning practice.’ Miss Wilson. Matey will be on the warpath!’ ‘Don’t worry. ‘If I know our girls. they will rise to the occasion.’ ‘I’m not as good as Corney. ‘Well done. only poor. It caused uproar. I’m beginning to wish now that we had forced the girls to eat up. No more the self-interested spoilt child. Gillian hurried over to congratulate her. as many of the girls succumbed to first-night nerves.’ remarked Miss Stewart. Those last thirty minutes were nerve-racking for everyone. ‘I don’t know about that. ‘You are a dark horse!’ she murmured. when Plato had congratulated her on her rendition. to Gillian’s utter astonishment. particularly as several girls could not resist peeping out from behind the curtains to see how . ‘They did not eat very much. Joyce Linton was maturing into a considerate young woman. ‘I had a big speech to recite at the beginning of the second act and as I walked downstage to deliver it. Mr Denny invited Joyce to sing Cornelia’s first solo carol. Joyce. They always have in the past and I have no reason to believe that they will not do so this time. She would be so proud of you. They will be as hungry as wolves. and I got into frightful trouble with the Head when she discovered the reason for my dramatic exit was due simply to lack of nourishment for I hadn’t eaten a thing all day. Just like the girls today. effectively ending all further discussion of the subject.Chapter XX Surprises for Gillian In the middle of rehearsals the following morning. come Abendessen. on the day of the performance. a former Mistress of St Scholastika’s. You sounded pretty good to me.’ Miss Stewart looked aghast. I was too nervous to eat beforehand. however.’ returned Miss Stewart sceptically. Joyce.’ put in Miss Anderson. appetites were decidedly subdued. was sanguine. the day before the Christmas play was due to be performed. croaky Cornelia was doomed to sit with the audience in the hall under strict instructions to keep her mouth shut. who had overheard the conversation. ‘I am reminded of the time I played the lead in my School play. who would be an asset to the School in the coming terms. three of the sore-throated soloists recovered their voices. ‘I noticed quantities of untouched food being returned to the kitchen. ‘I expect they will perform all the better on a light meal. At Mittagessen. It would be disastrous if one of the main characters slumped onto the floorboards.’ ‘Proud of us both.’ ‘Do you really think so? I hope you are right. I sincerely hope that doesn’t happen to anyone this afternoon. Gill!’ corrected Joyce with emphasis. To Plato’s immense relief. Joyce had kept quiet about her new part in the play and. As the play was scheduled to start at fifteen o’clock. thanks to their House Matrons’ ministrations. noted with some pleasure Gillian’s expression of pride. You sang beautifully. and all were ready a good half-an-hour before curtain-up. and were able to take part in the dress rehearsal.’ laughed Miss Wilson. ‘Well. as she entered the Staff room with Miss Wilson for a short rest before the commencement of the afternoon’s entertainment.’ replied Joyce modestly. But I’m glad you are taking a leading role in the play. Con.’ she said with firmness. And Gillian suddenly realised how much her younger sister had changed over the past few months. the girls had plenty of time to change into their costumes. I fainted clean away. In the end. I do so wish Mummy could come to hear you.

O come Emmanuel. was most affecting. and as a result her words received rapt attention. sang Away In A Manger unaccompanied. The fondness with which she played with the animals around the Manger and cuddled the lamb.quickly the hall was filling up with guests. to be present at the Christmas play. the choir began to sing the beautifully haunting fifteenth century French processional Come. a very popular old girl of the School. unquestioning faith and generous nature. Nancy looked rather too well fed. Dr Jem couldn’t resist making the observation to his neighbour. their estimations were correct. The atmosphere of expectation was intense and there was a perceptible sigh of relief. as the curtains parted to reveal a workshop filled with religious statues and the Woodcarver industriously whittling away at his bench in the background. the boy left the workshop. the School had built up a great reputation for its musical performances. As the Bishop had originally provided Mrs Russell with the story of The Third Lamb. Frieda. word had gone around that the School was going to perform an adaptation of a local legend and the news had caused even greater interest. his benevolent nature persuaded him that it would be acceptable to God if he offered to make another little lamb. However. then. In fact. In a pure. His Faith being absolute. one of the highlights of the play was the scene in which the young golden-haired boy appeared in the Woodcarver’s workshop and started to play with his carved Nativity scene. and consequently were not taking any part in the main School play. he refused the little golden-haired boy his wish. . The next scene involved the youngest member of the cast. Hall was packed. Gillian Linton. accompanied by a very special guest. Bishop Mensch. They were all shown to reserved seats near the front of Hall by two Seniors acting as ushers. Over the years. This year. With a quarter of an hour to go before the start. to a hushed Hall. beseeched her husband to stop carving saints that nobody wanted to buy and instead concentrate on items such as wooden toys that would earn them some money to stave off imminent starvation. portrayed by Giovanna Donati. young Joanna Linders. stepped forward to introduce the scene in a pleasantly modulated voice. he had been thrilled to receive an invitation to come up to the School to view her adaptation and he settled into his chair with an air of eager anticipation. The gravity of manner of the Head Girl made an instant impression on the audience. returning with predictions that the audience was going to be bigger than ever this year. many of whom did not know the story. both in the audience and behind the scenes. tiny Jackie Bettany. Also in the audience were the members of the Annexe. who had held their own Carol Service earlier in the week for the benefit of the inhabitants of the Sonnalpe. most of whom were unaware of her personal sorrow. as the Woodcarver. that for an undernourished peasant. Giovanna. When his good wife. and latecomers were obliged to stand at the back or around the sides. together with his niece. kneeling at the front of the stage. soon won the hearts of everyone in Hall with his simple. with the Woodcarver’s promise ringing in his ears. after which Plato lifted his baton to signal the beginning of the play. and people travelled from all over the district. when Miss Annersley stood up at fifteen o’clock precisely to make a brief speech of welcome. reacted with undisguised horror at the boy’s blasphemous actions and the audience. even in the most difficult of weather conditions. sweet treble. so. played with spirit by plump Nancy Wilmot. The orchestra played a short introduction. The Woodcarver. Undoubtedly. held their breath to see if the kindly Woodcarver would actually permit the boy to have the lamb despite his conviction that none of the figures should even be touched. as she sang. in the role of narrator. Dr and Mrs Russell arrived with ten minutes to spare. Miss Annersley.

Grief for her mother and sadness at leaving her School combined to make it all too . and started for home. Adeste Fideles. Sleep Holy Babe. casting a shadow of a cross on the snow. but when the Woodcarver tried to take it away from him temporarily. although at one point a momentary lapse of concentration resulted in an abrupt switch from high to low pitch in the middle of a sentence. were very successful. As darkness fell on the stage. until the boy threw his arms wide out. but as she was due to deliver some lines directly afterwards. the Polish Infant Holy. for he would take no money or reward of any kind for his toys. The boy asked for his lamb.’ The Woodcarver was puzzled by the boy’s statement. she fought to retain her composure. however. to the annoyance of Plato. With the Choir singing The Truth from Above. for the girls had been well prepared and acted their parts with great aplomb. Giovanna kept her head. Alixe von Elsen. he refused to give it up and started to cry.who had been brought down from the Sonnalpe by his aunt and uncle to act the part of the gypsy girl’s baby brother. Joanna Linders sang the first verse of Stille Nacht. As the final notes of the Latin carol faded into the air. with the whole cast standing around the Nativity scene. Infant Lowly. he listened as the Boy explained to him that to make toys for the delight of children pleased God more surely than all the carving of religious figures. Standing by the curtains at the side of the stage. the play ended back in the Woodcarver’s workshop. in the guise of poor children demanding toys. and the next scenes involving the Juniors. as the dark haired gypsy. Jackie spied the wooden lamb beside him on the bench and immediately started to play with it. Falling to his knees. Joyce sang a second solo. the Boy had gone. Gillian was almost overcome by the quality and emotion of her sister’s voice. Henry More’s carol. In accordance with the story. of course. the boy stopped him. Ida Reaveley. The Holy Son of God Most High set the scene for the encounter on the road between the golden-haired boy and the Woodcarver. but when the humble peasant started to stammer out his excuses. In The Bleak Mid-Winter. the audience enjoyed watching the natural reaction of the little one and many later commented warmly on his realistic performance! The play continued smoothly after Jackie’s outburst. The Woodcarver declined his hospitality. Nonetheless. Heilige Nacht. Then the poor man understood. and then the whole School and audience joined together in singing O Little Town of Bethlehem. adroitly avoided a disaster. ‘Those lambs you gave to the three children. and with some impromptu acting. the Woodcarver set off to give his third lamb to the crippled young girl in the next village. you gave also to me. offering to make a fourth lamb. who had been delighted to land the part of the Rich Merchant from the South. Maria Balbini accepted the toy with tears of joy and her grateful father offered the hungry peasant food and drink and a warm bed for the night. His howling drowned out the first few lines of the choir’s next carol. carried the little chap into the workshop and placed him down on the bench while she pleaded with the Woodcarver to give her some scraps of food. which she managed to carry off very well.’ muttered Jem to his wife. Joyce Linton sang her first solo. as he was required to do. gave her character a deep voice. who kept glaring off stage. The very last carol was the old favourite. as a roaring Jackie. After several more scenes and carols. the Woodcarver looked up. Gillian could help herself no longer and the tears began to flow down her cheeks. ‘That kid is taking his acting role a bit too seriously. In the wings. was bundled off the stage by a puce-cheeked Alixe. still clutching the lamb in his chubby little fists. When. He was in the Presence. at length. Luckily. much to the hilarity of certain members of the Choir.

‘He has agreed to it!’ she cried delightedly. Hilary! Do not get your hopes up too much. Fortunately. Miss Annersley!’ cried Hilary. ‘I forgot. Hilary Burn also saw that Gillian was in distress and decided it was time to act. it’s me! That’s right. When all the guests. ‘Isn’t that simply stupendous news?’ ‘Yes it is!’ laughed the Head. ‘Gillian! I was just going to look for you. ‘In any case. ‘Whatever it is she wants. the interval was no more than a few minutes. ‘I visited your mother the day after you and Joyce and she told me of her dearest wish.much for the distraught girl. and she lowered her head trying to conceal herself behind large Nancy Wilmot. very much. she turned her attention to the Head Girl once more. ‘Yes I do. and Hilary was soon talking to her father. as she saw that Hilary was standing to one side. She is feeling so miserable and it might cheer her up a bit to know.’ cautioned Miss Annersley.’ ‘That’s excellent. despite Miss Annersley’s warning that she should not expect to hear from him before the end of the term. she dashed away to her bedroom in St Clare’s. observing the colour drain from Gillian’s face as she clutched the arm of the chair tightly. I have come to apologise for running off at the end of the play and leaving everyone else to see to the guests. Together they made their way to the study and the Head placed a call to England. she must . very subdued but composed.’ After inviting both girls to sit down. who was lavish in his praise of the play. that is absolutely ripping of you!… Yes…I shall see you very soon. The door opened and in walked Gillian herself.no. ‘Please may I.’ said Miss Annersley.’ ‘Only if your father agrees. Miss Annersley was unable at first to make out if Hilary’s father’s response was favourable or otherwise.’ ‘You will let me phone him. including the Bishop.’ she began. I have not yet told Gillian that she is staying on. Miss Annersley?’ she pleaded. she fell silent. ‘I would like to be able to tell Gillian before we break up. Now I suppose I should break the news to Gillian. She had been waiting with growing impatience for a letter from her father. Hilary slammed down the telephone and turned to Miss Annersley. but before she had a chance to act there was a knock on the door.’ ‘Oh! What is it?’ asked Gillian earnestly. Miss Annersley had witnessed the Head Girl’s disappearance and resolved to check on her later. not about your mother. or at least only indirectly. I should be grateful if you would make an effort to eliminate slang from your vocabulary before then!’ Hilary had the grace to blush. ‘Now you will have to be patient.’ mused Miss Annersley. had departed. ‘I have got some news for you.’ she said lamely. and she bitterly regretted now that she had not thought to ask him to cable his reply. ‘I quite understand. Goodbye Father!’ With shining eyes. then? How wonderful! Thank you. As soon as she could.’ added Miss Annersley hurriedly. Then.’ she announced to the excited girl. she found Miss Annersley and asked if she could make a telephone call to England. You must not worry about it. Oh! Thank you Father. dear. ‘Father has written to you to make it official. Father. No…Nothing wrong with me…Yes… Another three terms…No…No…But…’ From the one-sided conversation in the study. Gillian . so you will have to wait until she has been informed. ‘Hello! Yes. ‘Miss Annersley. ‘Though if you are going to be Head Girl next September. unable to bear the thought of having to chat to the local guests and parents. ‘Come in!’ she called. Unknown to her.

‘I’m glad you feel that way. Fearful that the strain had become too much for her.’ interjected Miss Annersley. In St Clare’s. then the only solution would be to persuade her father to allow her another year. He’s agreed to let me continue next year. At the same time some colour returned to her cheeks. She told me that she could not accept the Headgirlship if you were to continue. deciding it was time to restore a measure of peace and calm to the proceedings.’ ‘And speaking on behalf of the Staff. and as you had indicated your own unwillingness to deprive her of the post. Did you really do all that for me?’ Hilary nodded modestly. To her relief.’ Gillian was speechless. as Hilary couldn’t wait to reveal her news. ‘It was the only sensible thing to do. you know.have it. noting the dark rings under her eyes. And Miss Annersley says I can take over as Head Girl after you have left School. Your mother told me that it was her express wish to let you remain here at School for the next two terms. ‘I wrote to Father and telephoned him not ten minutes ago to get his answer.’ said Miss Annersley warmly. but being innately dutiful. she thought about summoning Matron. dear. You are far too good a Head Girl to be cast aside. she could not bear to think too far ahead . Gillian roused herself out of her dazed state and began to speak. and soon she looked more like herself.’ she said slowly. I can fit in another year very nicely. ‘it is my turn to tell you something which I rather think will please you. Evadne Lannis was having a light-hearted argument with Cornelia over their travel arrangements. for they were both going to Vienna for the duration of . and the sad expression on her unnaturally pale face. for in her grief. ‘She does not want you to spend your time at her bedside in the San… No. ‘Hilary came to me with the suggestion that. so that she would then be in a position to take over from you as Head Girl next September and serve for three terms. she knew that she could not defy her mother. Gill. we shall be delighted to welcome you back in January.’ ‘There’s no need. ‘Now.’ Miss Annersley regarded the girl carefully.’ cried Hilary. Gillian. with the girls looking forward excitedly to the Christmas holiday that was soon to begin. shaking her head in bewilderment at Hilary’s announcement. ‘Oh. and you will only make her extremely unhappy if you refuse to obey her command. ‘I will stand aside for Hilary. ‘If I stay. I can assure you. she had given it no more than a passing thought herself. My time will come. Gill. unable to keep her news to herself any longer. Gillian!’ as Gillian started to protest.to a future without her darling mother. for both girls were becoming overexcited. Miss Annersley went on gently.’ she added with a smile. Hilary?’ ‘Let me explain.’ ‘What?’ exclaimed Gillian. and I am more than happy to wait until next September.’ Poor Gillian was very distressed. then she would seek her parents’ permission for an extra year of schooling. however. ‘What on earth are you talking about. ‘She is adamant. Hilary! I don’t know what to say. Indeed. She had not known of her mother’s private discussions with Miss Annersley concerning her immediate future. Miss Annersley watched Gillian anxiously. As I’m not yet seventeen.’ Gillian was dumfounded. should your mother wish you to remain at the School for the next two terms. It was almost too much for her to absorb all at once. dear.’ The last Frühstück of the term was a very merry occasion in all the Houses.

’ said Evvy hesitantly. That means a lot to us both. ‘I know it’s going to be a hard time for you and Joyce. for their contribution to the School. ‘Sub-Prefects. Having taken it for granted that she would never be chosen to be a Prefect. ‘as Head Girl. is very seriously ill at the Sanatorium. Pushed on by Maria. Miss Annersley smilingly waved her over to the middle of the dais to receive the acclaim.’ ‘Oh well. after thanking the two Prefects who were leaving. Gillian and Joyce’s mother.’ ‘It sounds as though you will have a wonderful time. and we shall be going to hear the Vienna Boys' Choir and other Christmas concerts. We will have to go by train.’ Gillian looked at the two earnest faces. She had never fully appreciated the extent of her popularity within the School. that’s something. Nodding enthusiastically. I didn’t! Poppa’s busy today. ‘Goodbye old thing! I’m so pleased you are returning next term. but there has been a change of plans and she will now be staying on until the end of the Summer Term.’ and a storm of applause broke out. ‘That will be topnotch.’ The Head paused. Then. ‘I thought you said that your father was coming to School to collect us?’ said Cornelia. ‘Yes. ‘Say. We make a jolly good team. During the final assembly. don’t you think? Those Middles had better look out! We’ll be ready for them!’ . with a complete lack of gratitude. But he can bring us back in January.the holiday to stay in a villa rented by Mr Lannis. the Head made her stay there whilst she announced that Hilary Burn would become Head Girl the following year.’ she called out. Gill. The School broke up for the Christmas holidays after that.’ agreed Gillian. It was Joyce’s turn to be astounded. much to Gillian’s surprise. With the exception of the few who were heading up to the Sonnalpe. The only thing she could remember afterwards was the expression of pride on her sister’s face. not wanting a row to mar the last day. Hilary turned to Gillian. and many shouts of Happy Christmas! and Froliches Weihnachtsfest! rang through the freezing midwinter air. the announcement came as a huge shock. brightening up considerably at the thought of it. ‘I’m sure by now you are all aware that Mrs Linton. Gillian and Joyce would have to endure the worst Christmas of their lives. Originally. but we will be thinking of you. the Head finally revealed the names of the two girls who would be joining the Prefect body in the Spring Term.’ was her simple reply. she practically fell onto the dais as she made her way to stand beside the Prefects. Gillian was to leave at the end of this term. Just before they were instructed to move on. It seemed so unfair. the two Americans suddenly remembered that while they would be enjoying themselves. Poppa’s promised us a sleigh ride through the Wienerwald.’ said Corney. before adding. up at the Sonnalpe. and the fervour of the ovation was very gratifying. Evvy. I suppose.’ reported Evadne. ‘Thank you. ‘I’m really looking forward to the sleigh ride. Miss Annersley made two important announcements to the School in general. Maria Marani and Joyce Linton. Holding the embarrassed girl gently by the arm. the girls were lined up in readiness for the journey to Spärtz. Ida Reaveley and Nancy Wilmot. ‘Have you anything planned for the holiday?’ enquired Gillian hurriedly.’ grumbled Corney. ‘No.

Gillian.’ she murmured. Hilary hastily strove to reassure her. for being such a good sport. Hilary. Soon.’ she said softly. to the mountain alm where her mother’s life was ebbing away. tragically soon.’ Gillian turned to gaze at the School through misty eyes. Noticing the mournful expression on the Head Girl’s face. and she stared wistfully across the colourless. Hilary. you’re right. ‘Yes.’ Her countenance suddenly changed as she reflected sadly upon the reason for her return to School next term. ‘I’ve never really thanked you.’ .Gillian smiled. We’ll always be so very grateful to our dear Chalet School. I’m looking forward to working with you again. frozen lake. ‘It is such a comfort to know that we shall not be alone in the world. she and Joyce would be orphaned. ‘Whatever happens in the future. ‘don’t forget that the School will take care of you and Joyce.

a very well-informed young woman. for the cool season does not last for six months. If The Chalet School in Exile was meant to follow straight after Gillian’s term as Head Girl. I went to Belsornia to be ’Veta’s bridesmaid and was there another three weeks. Well. ‘…“She had been in India for the cold weather just before. you all know what happened the next year. Gillian states that she and Joyce were away in England sorting out their mother’s estate following her recent death. in later books Elinor Brent-Dyer mentioned various events that took place in the interval between New and Exile. and she got engaged to Dr Jack shortly after that. discovered by Helen McClelland. In the last chapter of The New Chalet School we are told that Gillian is to be Head Girl next term. describing a trip to India by Jo Bettany and Robin Humphries. Another piece of evidence for the one-year interval theory can be found in Lavender Laughs in the Chalet School (p 147 Chambers edition) when Enid Sothern. then it is unlikely that Jo and Robin would have arrived back from India by the beginning of the book (February). I have attempted to follow EBD’s intentions on this subject as closely as possible. and then married Jack…” There is no mention of a trip to . in the autumn. Indeed. after leaving school. Jo goes on to say “they stayed three weeks with us. She established that this book. Hitler marched into Austria. for the cool season in order to get away from the unwanted attentions of a young doctor at the Sonnalpe. The Indian holiday was in fact mentioned in later books of the series. In A Problem for the Chalet School. indicating beyond reasonable doubt that there had to be another whole year between the end of Gillian and the beginning of Exile. although I think she included the voyages to and from India in her calculation. and then. I had to look at all the available evidence. I had always imagined that Elinor Brent-Dyer wanted her readers to believe it to be so. In addition. In the first chapter of The New Chalet School the changes that were planned for that following Autumn Term vis-à-vis the new House arrangements are explained. given that they probably left Austria in October to arrive in India in time for the beginning of the cooler weather. However. tells us that Jo got married when she was nearly twenty-one. Finally. as I delved into the books for verification I found that. in Highland Twins at the Chalet School (p138 Chambers edition) the unexpected arrival of Elisaveta elicits a conversation between Gillian Linton and Jo Maynard in which they discuss the time when Elisaveta visited the Russells with her future husband during “that last summer at the Sonnalpe”. was to fit in between The New Chalet School and The Chalet School in Exile. on the contrary. it is clear that she did not go off to India during that winter. They were married just after they escaped to England”…’ This fits in nicely with the proposition that Jo and Robin arrived back from India a year before The Chalet School in Exile starts. we fell foul of the Gestapo and had to run for it. in Summer Term at the Chalet School (p13 Chambers edition) Jo Maynard reminisces about going to India. Two Chalet Girls in India. she mentions staying with her brother for six months.in spite of Robin’s delicate health! As Jo remained at the school for the whole of the Autumn Term after she had officially left (Jo Returns to the Chalet School).Afterword The story of Gillian of the Chalet School takes place in the Autumn Term immediately after The New Chalet School. when it came to placing the story chronologically between The New Chalet School and The Chalet School in Exile. She also states that Robin accompanied her . As mentioned in the Introduction. there is the unpublished work. I was ill after that. It would have been very convenient if the Spring Term at the beginning of The Chalet School in Exile could have been proven to be the very next term after Gillian. At least it was a year later.

At the time when she might have been sailing to India. The new House arrangements could be expected to cause a few problems. July 2001 . I wanted to resolve their animosity with a reconciliation. she was in fact in Belsornia.32 Armada edition). The answer to that dilemma was not to be found within the series. I could be accused of hastening it by several weeks or months. which I felt was too long. Carol Allan. Miss Norman also admits to having ‘never liked teaching elder girls at the best of times’. This is an adaptation of an actual Tyrolese legend and I am very grateful to Ann Mackie-Hunter for bringing it to my attention. but in the Chalet School and the Island (p. For example.India in Jo’s account of events. The question of timing would not have mattered very much except for one thing: the problem of Hilary Burn’s tenure as Head Girl. We know from the series that Mrs Linton dies. Jo Bettany’s impending trip to India and her trouble with the nuisance of a doctor have been discussed already. In the best traditions of the Chalet School. but the timing of her death is rather vague. and I have made use of that statement. I thought it would be interesting to see how Joyce would react if Miss Norman were to become her House Mistress. After Miss Norman’s embarrassing humiliation by Joyce in The Chalet School and the Lintons. In that same scene. Hilary would have had to stay for five terms. so I took the liberty of resolving it in my own way. although it should be pointed out that she is still alive at the end of the book. the Morse Code episode is mentioned in The Highland Twins at the Chalet School p 104 (Chambers edition). Miss Norman makes it clear that she still dislikes Joyce and indeed calls her ‘my pet aversion’. The first half of Gillian of the Chalet School is concerned mainly with developing EBD’s references. Gillian of the Chalet School ends with the Christmas Play. In The New Chalet School I felt that EBD had foreshadowed difficulties ahead for Miss Norman due to her negative reaction upon being informed of the House changes (p21). I have given her one myself. At that point in the series no girl had served as Head Girl for more than four terms. As I could not find a forename for Mrs Linton in the Chalet series.

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