|"I wish you could come to school with us," Con said. "Then you'd get to know Josette. She really is rather a pet!"
"Not so pretty as Sybs, though," Margot put in. "Sybs? She's the eldest girl in the Russell family-Sybil of course. Mother says she's the pick of us all for looks. Not that Josette isn't pretty, too."
"Or Ailie-she's the youngest girl," Margot put in., 'She's a young demon for mischief. Auntie Madge was so disappointed. She'd wanted one girl who would be gentle and sweet. Neither Sybs nor Josette could ever be described that way and she did so hope Ailie would be it. But she isn't."
the way, we’re staying with Con Stewart when we reach Sydney. You have
the address. Write often, please, and let me know how my bad Ailie is
progressing. I did so hope for one
daughter who would be a gentle, domesticated little girl but I'm doomed
to disapointment. Sybs is domesticated, but she’s never been very
forthcoming. Josette is not domesticated,
and seems to be all set for a scholastic career of some kind. And Ailie
is a nice mixture of young demon and tomboy. Oh, well! Such is life!”
The letter had branched off after that, but Joey had chuckled over this part. All the same, she made up her mind to have a serious talk with her bad niece and see if some improvement could not be made before Madge came back from Australia.
Ailie, do something for me, will you? This is Adrienne Desmoines who is
coming to the school this term. She's scarcely ever been at school
before, so you people look after her for me and show her how we do
things at the Chalet School. Oh, and while I think of it, I seem to
remember that not one of you could ever be truthfully described as a
little angel, so don't try to involve her in any of your wicked ways."
"Oh, Auntie Rob!" Ailie protested, looking as soulful as in her lay.
"No use, my child. I know you much too well to be taken in by seraphic looks. What a disappointment you have been to your mother! When you came along she was hopeful that for once she'd got a sweet, gentle little daughter since no one could ever describe Sybil or Josette like that - "
"Well, I'm sorry, but I'm me. 'Sweet and gentle doesn't describe me any more than it does Sybs or Josette and it's not my fault," Ailie protested, her grey-green eyes alight with mischief.
it leaves fourteen not Old Chalet Girls, and it's quite likely that
some of them act as well as any of ours, though I agree Sybs is a
practical cert. for the 'Princess'. She's the St. Mildred Beauty
Queen," Verity returned.
"I wish she could hear you!" Sybil's sister said feelingly. "She would tell you where you got off!"
"I should just think so!" Vi exclaimed. "You're right there, Josette! To hear her talk, sometimes, you'd think it was a positive crime to be pretty."
"Yes; I've noticed that," Hilary, now restored to her normal self, agreed. "I've always meant to ask what was at the bottom of it. Do you know, Jo?"
Josette shook her head. "Haven't the foggiest. I only know the quickest way to make her absolutely raging is to comment on her looks. She's always been like that, so far as I can remember."
"You're her sister; you ought to know," Hilary agreed. "A kink in her character, I expect. Oh, well, that's better than if she was all upstage about her beauty-for she is really lovely, you know. You and young Ailie aren't a patch on her, Josette, and you're neither of you exactly plain."
Before Josette could think of a sufficiently biting reply, the bell rang and they had to hurry off to classes again, so the subject was dropped more or less permanently.
|Joey had chuckled over this part. All the same, she made up her mind to have a serious talk with her bad niece and see if some improvement could not be made before Madge came back from Australia.|
|I always thought the 'disappointment to her mother' comments were very tongue in cheek and meant to be funny.|
Mmm, me too, like it was a family joke type thing.
|Obviously jokes can and do misfire in RL, but I'm often surprised at how frequently CBBers take literally things that strike me as banter, very much a part of the genre.|
Obviously many CBBers interpret things EBD wrote differently (or we wouldn't have much to discuss here ) and, speaking only for myself, I just don't see calling someone a disappointment as being a joke or finding it funny. Also, though Jo laughed at Madge's letter, if it was just a joke why would she go so far as planning "to have a serious talk with her bad niece and see if some improvement could not be made before Madge came back from Australia." Yes, Ailie herself laughed off Robin's comments but then it's hard for me to imagine EBD writing Ailie's response to Robin's remarks as Ailie stamping her foot in anger and shouting "Stop picking on me! Josette and Sybil aren't sweet and gentle either but no one ever says that they're a disappointment to mummy! Why can't everyone just leave me alone!"
What's also interesting is that Jo comments in Wrong, after seeing Madge in Canada, that Madge is a different woman and Jo was so glad since she was afraid that Madge was "in danger of becoming 'that very sweet woman, Lady Russell'." Funny how it's not okay for Madge to be sweet (and gentle) but it's hoped (at least as I read it) that at least one of her daughters will turn out that way. It's never really explained why Madge wants a sweet and gentle daughter anyway. Maybe she needed a break after raising Jo!
What's also interesting is that Jo comments in Wrong, after seeing Madge in Canada, that Madge is a different woman and Jo was so glad since she was afraid that Madge was "in danger of becoming 'that very sweet woman, Lady Russell'." Funny how it's not okay for Madge to be sweet (and gentle) but it's hoped (at least as I read it) that at least one of her daughters will turn out that way. It's never really explained why Madge wants a sweet and gentle daughter anyway.
some of the comments may have been meant as a joke, I always felt sorry
for Madge's daughters. For several years after the accident with
Josette, Sybil was reminded of it (I always thought it was a bit much
that Joey tells Sybil that if Josette had died it would have been her
Similarly, both Sybil and Josette were denied their opportunities to further study - a real shame as Sybil had worked hard for her chance to study, and Josette had a real intellectual talent. And how could you not describe Sybil as gentle and sweet? As she gets older she shows a real tact and understanding (I am thinking of her making sure that neither Jo Scott nor Josette gossip about the behaviour of the prefects). There are comments made about the other Seniors listening to her opinions carefully and being interested in her points of view. After the incident with Josette she loses the selfish streak that she had developed.
As for Ailie, I would have liked to see more of her. She comes across as a healthy, mischievious girl!
|Most families have in-jokes about a boy or a girl being born and wanting the opposite sex, or about one being the black sheep. Never meant to be taken seriously, or as a slur on the child, but simply affectionate teasing.|
'Tis true, but it does grate, even when it is meant in jest or as affectionate teasing. I was always the 'quiet, studious one,' my sister more of a 'wild child'. Therefore my 'wilder' moments (e.g. staying out until three o'clock in the morning with my friends before we all went to different universities) are still up for discussion in the family now, whereas no one bats an eyelid when she falls in past midnight.
Ailie may have felt frustrated by the comment but never let it show. Like I'm not allowed to react to comments about me being out of character...
|I wonder if Madge wanted one of her daughters to be like Peggy Bettany. Peggy was basically Madge's daughter for 13 years, and she was sweet and gentle from a very young age, helping around the house, looking after the little ones, never getting into trouble etc. Plus, she wanted nothing more after finishing school than to return home to help out and keep her mother company. None of Madge's daughters fit that description - even Sybil had definite career plans. That would fit with the insistence that they go to Australia - Madge wanted a daughter who would be a companion and helper to her.|
|Madge Russell laughed ruefully. 'I did so hope to have one quiet, gentle little girl, but Ailie shows every sign of being the worst of the lot. I must say I think I've had my share of imps, what with you as a kiddy, and now my own'|
I definitely agree.
One problem is, we can't hear the voice tones. To overcome this, the author can throw in adverbs and such ('she said lightly," "quipped X," ), try to make it obviously hammed up as with Jo's comments about quads, or try and show it by the characters' responses. Most often, EBD uses the third technique. If Madge were really disappointed, we'd know. There are certainly enough examples of how the girls respond to that comment when it's meant the other way!
Obviously jokes can and do misfire in RL, but I'm often surprised at how frequently CBBers take literally things that strike me as banter, very much a part of the genre.
|I've always felt sorry for Ailie as well, she was always described as a "feather-headed irresponsible" or something to that effect, and was always compared with Sybil and Josette.|
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