When his back was turned

Author:  ChubbyMonkey [ Tue Feb 17, 2009 6:47 pm ]
Post subject:  When his back was turned

Inspiration struck while I was out walking today (why do plot bunnies always strike when you're furthest from a computer?) so here's the first part. It does relate to eating disorders, which some people might find upsetting, so I am, of course, trying to handle it in a sensitive manner.

Lady Russell breezed airily into the parlour one morning. It wasn’t exactly late, but she had been getting later every day recently, to the point that even Dr Jem, as spectacularly busy as usual, had noticed. He’d questioned the staff thoroughly, and had managed to get a fairly accurate picture of his wife’s daily routine. He didn’t like it, and wouldn’t have done even if he hadn’t noticed her weight plummeting.

It was rare, now, for them to be able to spend real time together, with his doctoring skills always in demand – if he wasn’t called on to give high-profile speeches constantly – and her status as Lady Russell making her wanted by every charity and women’s institution. He still tried to make one evening a week sacred to them, and them alone, but even then it was difficult to maintain the sort of relationship that they’d had in the beginning.

He wasn’t even certain of what her schedule for the next week would be. He had sat down last night, long after she had gone to bed, trying to work out just where he had lost track of his wife. He had so many memories of Tirol, getting to know her, the first weeks together as they settled into a rhythm, of David and even Sybil as babies. But after that his memories faded and became more distant. There was the incident with Josette, he could never forget that, but about Ailie he could say almost nothing. He certainly knew so little about her now that it would be hard to believe she was his daughter.

He said nothing of the feelings such self analysis had produced to his wife, who sat down gracefully beside him, but instead smiled and informed her,

“I’ve had Marie cancel all of your morning appointments, and anyone who calls is to be told that we’re out. I wish to talk to you. Tea?”

She shook her head, hair rippling delicately in the sunlight streaming through the window. He smiled despite himself. She had always been so beautiful, in her own, elusive way, and even now he could still see the young women he’d rescued from a burning train. He poured her out a cup anyway and thrust it at her, forcing her to take it. He frowned, and became more serious, but he knew that the best way was to approach the issue head on.

“I have been speaking to the staff. They tell me that you have stopped eating breakfast and lunch, and rarely eat dinner unless you have guests. They also told me that you have now fainted twice during the day, but have forbidden them telling me. I want to know why. Are you, perhaps, pregnant again?”

“No,” said Madge definitely. Her cheekbones jutted out more than they used to, and her eyes had a sunken, dull appearance. Jem slipped a hand into hers, so that their wedding rings nestled delicately together.

“Then what? Why aren’t you eating?”

“Oh, I’ve just been on a diet recently,” she said, as airily as she could, putting her cup down and drawing her hand away. Before she could stand up, there was a hand on her shoulder, heavy on her heart.

“Then why didn’t you tell me? You know I could give you advice about what to cut out of your diet and what to have more of. We could book you an appointment to see a specialist in London that I know – I treated his niece last year – he’s usually booked for months in advance but he would make room to see you, I know. Why do you want to go on a diet?”

“I just want to try and look good,” she said softly, still unable to meet his eye. But it wasn't a softness he liked, or recognised. He thought he detected a hint of anger, probably at him for interfering. It was becoming plainer and plainer that something was wrong. “I don’t want to let you down. After all, I’m that nice Lady Russell, who’s always such perfect company for afternoon tea, and who never does anything scandalous. I’d hate to hold you back.”

“But you’re beautiful,” said Jem quietly. Suddenly Madge turned on him, flinging his hand off of her and rushing to the door, blinded by tears of rage.

“Don’t lie,” she spat. She rushed up the stairs, more like a schoolgirl of Sybil’s age than a dignified and respected woman. Jem rubbed his chin thoughtfully, but decided to leave her to have her cry out before he tried again.

Author:  Sarah_K [ Tue Feb 17, 2009 8:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: When his back was turned

Oh poor Madge :( and she doesn't really have anyone to talk to about such things if she doesn't have Jem. And I can't help feeling the direct approach doesn't generally work when things have got to the stage they seem to have done with Madge.

Author:  Lesley [ Tue Feb 17, 2009 8:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: When his back was turned


and (((((Jem))))) - hope he knows how to deal with this.


Author:  PaulineS [ Tue Feb 17, 2009 10:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: When his back was turned

Poor Madge. Hope Jem can help her as he has brought it out into the open.

Author:  Abi [ Tue Feb 17, 2009 10:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: When his back was turned

Oh poor Madge - and poor Jem, too. I hope he can manage to help Madge.

Author:  Alison H [ Tue Feb 17, 2009 10:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: When his back was turned

Poor Madge - Jem obviously wants to help but I'm not sure that he'll know how to handle this.

Author:  ChubbyMonkey [ Tue Feb 17, 2009 10:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: When his back was turned

I'm going to post the next bit, but it's quite short and I'm not sure that I particularly like it, so sorry if this is spectacularly awful.

Half an hour found her in front of the mirror in their bedroom, trying to repair the damage that her stormy tears had done to the light blush which was, in Jem’s opinion, quite unnecessary, but which she insisted on all the same. He brushed her heavy curls with his fingers, then lead her over to the bed. They sat next to each other, and he wrapped his arm around her slender waist, holding her. They had sat together like this when she told him she was pregnant with David, as he talked her through everything, told her what she would need to know. He’d never stopped supporting her, the support had just had to change to accommodate their busy lives.

“I love you,” he murmured, the first to break the silence when he saw that she wasn’t going to. Madge nodded, rested her head against his shoulder. She was no longer dignified Lady Russell, just a lonely, frail woman who had needed him without him realising. He wondered how you could lie next to someone every night and still not know what they were thinking. It took her a few seconds, but she managed to choke a reply.

“I love you too. That’s why I have to do this.”

“No,” said Jem, his boyish face suddenly serious, aged and lined. “That’s why you have to stop.”

“I will,” promised Madge, her voice emotionless. “When I am thinner, and prettier, and when you can be proud of me again, I will stop.”

Jem shook his head sadly. During his time away from Madge he had rung up Jack Maynard and asked him to come over straight away. He didn’t want Joey alerted to the facts of the case, at least not yet, but he knew that he could trust Jack to be discreet and not broadcast his private affairs (though he was still skeptical of Joey’s abilities not to gossip since the Margot Venables incident). His training had kicked in as soon as he began to recognise symptoms. He needed to step back, now, start becoming a far more personal prop for Madge to lean on. Jack would provide her with the medical care she needed without letting personal feelings interfere, Jem was sure.

They were still sat silently together, trying to work out what was wrong, when Marie called him into the hallway to meet his guest. He was aware that he had probably aged ten years over night, and was expecting Jack’s face to crumple into sympathy. He let his brother-in-law smile, placing his trust in this man to restore his family. But as Jack hung up his coat and picked up his bag, Jem remained silent. It was only when Jack asked, that Jem showed him into the study and tried his best to explain.

“I started asking last night. Marie told me that she hasn’t been eating lately, and she fainted. I tried to talk to her but she got really angry, and now she’s just sat upstairs. I can’t get her to talk to me, not properly. I didn’t know what to do, Jack. You need to make the diagnosis, and take the case on from here.”

“I’ll be discreet,” he promised as gently as he knew how. “You go and get a cup of strong coffee, you look like you need one. I’ll talk to her.”

He nodded and made to leave the room, but Jem called him back with one simple sentence.

“Don’t tell Joey.”

Jack nodded and left. Jem buried his head in his hands. It wasn’t his affair anymore. He was nothing more than a husband.

Author:  blue1 [ Wed Feb 18, 2009 12:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: When his back was turned

This is really interesting. I'm loving the fact that Jem realised he needed to step back and be Madge's husband rather then doctor and that he did it.

Thank you.

Author:  Alison H [ Wed Feb 18, 2009 8:49 am ]
Post subject:  Re: When his back was turned

Doctors aren't advised to treat members of their own household and this is why - glad that Jem's called someone else in.

Author:  ChubbyMonkey [ Wed Feb 18, 2009 12:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: When his back was turned

After an extensive consultation with Madge, Jack came back downstairs to make his report. He found Jem on the phone, trying to explain his absence to the San without giving the game away. Jack sat down quietly opposite him and began to write up his notes, as Jem wrestled with his rather persistent secretary. In the end he managed to convince her that it would only be one day, the world wouldn’t end without him, and was able to turn to Jack with a resigned look on his face.

“Must be nice to be so popular,” said the other man, half seriously. He usually left home calls from work up to Joey, unless it really was urgent. She could throw off most people if she was determined. “I haven’t been able to get much out of her, but I did get enough to be able to make my diagnosis. It was just as you thought. She isn’t going to talk to me about it, though, or at least not yet.”

Jem groaned. As much as he had been expecting the news, he had still hoped that it could be avoided, that he was just making it up and seeing things which weren’t there. The outburst this morning, though, had been a sure sign of something badly wrong, and now here he was. He thought about it for a few minutes, beginning to make plans. The children mustn’t know, they mustn’t be told. This must stay between him and Jack. He could rely on Marie not to talk, and to silence anybody else. As long as it stopped now, there wouldn’t necessarily be any damage done.

“Stay for lunch,” he said to Jack suddenly. The latter saw the invitation for what it was; he might succeed where Jem had failed and get Madge to eat something. He nodded, but successfully distracted his superior with talk of a new case that had arrived the week before. He managed to keep the talk strictly on other business, after that, until the lunch bell pealed out. Jem managed to spin his speech out a minute longer, but then he admitted defeat.

Madge was already at the table when they arrived, but when she saw that Jack was staying, she hastily rung for Marie to bring a third place, smiling at the two men as if she were the perfect host. She said nothing, however, and soon enough the talk turned to politics, as Jack and Jem buried themselves in their potatoes. If Marie was nothing else, she was a good cook.

Not that Madge was enjoying the excellent spread in front of her. She played with her peas for a while, and even attempted a mouthful of food when Jem turned to her and discreetly raised one eyebrow. But her meal was largely untouched when it was sent back to the kitchen, and she didn’t even make herself a bowl of the stewed rhubarb and custard that the two men enjoyed for dessert. She merely sat and listened with half an ear to their conversation, her mind on the speech which she had to deliver tomorrow at a public meal – the least favourite of her duties.

Shortly after lunch, Jack asked her to retire with him, and they spent half an hour in the salon. Jem joined them at a call from Jack, and took a seat next to his wife, holding her hand supportively again. It was shaking, and he could tell that she had been crying. Jack smiled, and shuffled away his notes, but before he stood up he addressed Jem.

“Madge has agreed to start trying to eat a little bit more, but only when she really feels hungry. She also wants to talk to you.”

He insisted on seeing himself out, after that, accepting Jem’s profuse thanks with good grace. Once he was gone, Madge snuggled up next to Jem, both of them watching the birds on the tree out of the window. He was determined that this time he would remain silent until Madge spoke.

“I’m sorry,” she said quietly, after a time. Everything else was silent, apart from the sounds of Marie sweeping the hallway. They could have been completely alone in the world. “I am only trying to do what is best for you. I don’t deserve all of this, and I don’t deserve you. I’m just plain Madge Bettany, who wanted to settle down with a few pupils and teach.”

“You’re my wife, and I love you dearly,” countered Jem. He squeezed her gently. “I wouldn’t care if you were so large you had to go sideways through doors, or so thin you fell down drainpipes. I would still love you just as much. But I want you to be healthy, and you’re not, not like this.”

“I know,” she confessed eventually. She had been struggling with herself for months, had been trying her best to be a better wife, because she knew – at first at least – that this was wrong. But somewhere along the way she had lost that belief and had become so bad Jem had noticed. “Write to Dick,” she added, and after that she refused to say anything more.

Author:  leahbelle [ Wed Feb 18, 2009 2:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: When his back was turned

Poor Madge. And poor Jem, too.

Author:  Liz K [ Wed Feb 18, 2009 2:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: When his back was turned

Oh dear, poor Madge and Jem.

I wonder what Dick can say or do that will help. :(

Author:  Emma A [ Wed Feb 18, 2009 3:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: When his back was turned

This is very thoughtful and sensitive, Ariel - I really feel for everyone in this. I'm glad that Jem isn't a bullying authority figure here, because that would make Madge worse. I do hope Dick can help.


Author:  ChubbyMonkey [ Wed Feb 18, 2009 4:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: When his back was turned

I just want to repeat that I am trying to handle this issue in a sensitive manner. I don't mean to cause offence or upset to anyone, but I haven't tried to write about this before and I'm not always the most tactful of people. Please don't think that I am writing anything to be deliberately insulting, and my most sincere apologies if I have offended or upset anyone.


Dear Jem,

Thankyou for your letter to let me know of the problems that Madge is having at the moment. Sadly, this is the busiest time of the forestry season, so I couldn’t possibly hope to get time off, at least not without attracting suspicion. I shall come as soon as I possibly can. In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Madge has suffered in this way before. Shortly after our parent’s died, when she was trying to be a mother to Joey as well as cope with their loss, she had similar problems. I never thought to mention it to you before, I don’t even talk about it with her, for there seemed to be no use going over past events when she seemed to be so healthy and happy.

At the time, she was treated by a Dr Atkins. I have no idea if he is still practicing, or if he is where he is stationed or where you could find him. You probably have far more of an idea how to go about that sort of thing than I ever would. If you could get hold of him, though, he was a marvellous man, and I’m sure Madge would benefit enormously from seeing him again.

Please write and let me know of any developments as quickly as possible. I’m also writing a letter to Madge in the hope that I can be of some use. I know that I don’t need to tell you to look after her, Jem, she really is a special woman. Look after Joey, too, for me. I promise to be there as soon as I can.

Yours ever,


Jem lay the screed down on his desk, and glanced out of his window. It was three weeks now since he’d first discovered the problem. He’d done as Madge wished and written to Dick the same afternoon, then spent every day on tenterhooks since, waiting for the letter. Madge had also had one from her twin over breakfast, and he had left her to read her own while he went to the study.

At least Dick had managed to provide one possible solution. It was a blow to hear that he couldn’t come here in person, because he knew and understood Madge better than anyone Jem had ever met, but Jem should be able to track down this Dr Atkins. Even if he was no longer practicing, Jem could get Madge’s records, and they might provide some clue of what to do. She genuinely had been trying to eat more, but she still couldn’t manage even half a meal.

Jem collected his letters and went to find her. Maybe whatever Dick had said would inspire her to join him for lunch.

Author:  Alison H [ Wed Feb 18, 2009 4:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: When his back was turned

You're not being insensitive at all. Difficult things happen, whether in the "real" world or the CS world.

Author:  ChubbyMonkey [ Wed Feb 18, 2009 4:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: When his back was turned

Thankyou for the reassurance! I'm just really scared that I am upsetting/offending people, and I feel really bad about it.

Author:  Emma A [ Wed Feb 18, 2009 4:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: When his back was turned

Getting Madge to eat even half-meals is a good step - hope Dr Atkins can help, and that Jem can find him.

Thanks, Ariel.

Author:  Fiona Mc [ Thu Feb 19, 2009 9:06 am ]
Post subject:  Re: When his back was turned

I think you're writing about this really well. Every experience with everyone is different with things like this. Am really glad you're writing this drabble

Author:  PaulineS [ Thu Feb 19, 2009 1:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: When his back was turned

Thanks, your writting is sensative and caring.
Dick's letter gives an explaination which will help Jem and Jack to understand that the problems are deep rooted and hopefully enable them to help Madge.

Author:  ChubbyMonkey [ Thu Feb 19, 2009 5:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: When his back was turned

Dr. Atkins was a small, squat man, with a balding patch but twinkling brown eyes. His knock was jovial, and even though he was here for the most unpleasant of reasons, he smiled and shook Jem’s hand firmly. Jem was pleased. He met some doctors who were never anything but doom and gloom, sure that death hung around every corner. He hated those members of his profession; what a patient needed was a brisk, efficient, professional air tinged with felicity and understanding.

He looked Jem over once, dropped his bag, and began to shrug off his coat, which Jem found himself taking without realising he was doing it. He only hoped Dr. Atkins could have such a magic effect on Madge. He had made more of a conscious effort to be with her at every meal, and had even succeeded in making most lunches – not without arising some suspicion, though he managed to keep it to a minimum thanks to Jack Maynard, who was being a rock through all of this – so that he could support her and encourage her to eat a little. She had started to put on a little weight, and wasn’t quite the goblin like creature which had sat down next to him two months ago.

The Sir James,” beamed Dr. Atkins, the whole of his round face lit up. “How awfully spiffing to meet you at last! Heard so much about you, old chap. Only sorry that I have to be here under such circumstances. Where is milady? Does she know that I’m coming?”

His manner, Jem reflected, could almost have been annoying and over-bearing if he hadn’t been so sincere the whole time. All the same, he was struggling to fit the image of staid, correct Madge with the person in front of him. He hadn’t been able to contact the man himself, but he had had Dr. Jack, through the San., call up his office and ask him to come down. When he heard it was for Madge Bettany, now Lady Russell, he agreed to come as soon as possible, although he had been stuck in various conferences until now. He was supposed to be a leading researcher in the area, but Jem wouldn’t have cared if he was the newest practitioner in the land. If this man could help to heal his beautiful wife, he would do whatever was required of him.

“She doesn’t know that you planned to come at all,” said Jem, as he lead his guest through the corridor and towards the parlour. “I suspect that she suspects I might try and get in touch with you, though. She told me to write to Mr Bettany, and it was he who passed your name on to me. She’s in here.”

He guided the guest through proudly, for whatever else Madge might be, she was excellent as an interior designer. The room was comfortable and airy, pastels and slightly bolder colours mingled almost unnoticeably. She was reclining on a small wicker chair under the window, but half rose at the sound of the door opening. Then she saw who it was, and her whole face changed. She came forwards as fast as she could while still remaining stately and dignified, and shook his hand warmly, even bending down enough for him to kiss her cheek. Jem withdrew quietly.

Meanwhile, Dr. Atkins was drawing Madge to the window and looking her over with a critical eye, that left her blushing. But when they sat back down, he was still smiling, and accepted the offer of a cup of tea. She rang for Marie, but even once her faithful servant had gone she didn’t speak. Dr. Atkins, used to her, remained equally untalkative, until tea had been poured. Then he opened with,

“It’s spiffing to see you again after so many years. I had hoped I wouldn’t be called back in a professional capacity, but you do look so much better than before. The first time I saw you, you were simply frightful I recall. How are you this time? I heard that you have children – tell me about them!”

Madge helpfully obliged to update him on her life since he had left. She fetched a picture of David, Sybil and Josette, which had been taken two years previously, and then one of Ailie when she was just a few months old. He was dutifully impressed by all, and suddenly Madge found herself telling him about the time during the accident, when they had all feared that they would lose Josette. He listened calmly, but took the opening, and asked,

“You didn’t feel as if not eating, then, would be a good response? No? So why now, do you think? It sounds as if you have had plenty of time to get over the shock, and if you didn’t need this as a coping mechanism then, why now? What do you think is the problem?”

Madge, still rubbing her thumb against the frame of the picture where three of her children beamed out at her, shook her head silently. Already, just remembering all that this man had done for her, she could feel herself sliding back to that time so far away, which she had sworn was forgotten. She wanted to tell him, to confide in him, because he had managed to help her so much last time. She took a deep breath and dabbed at the tear on her cheek, with an apologetic smile. His understanding silence gave her the courage to try and explain,

“I just feel so trapped. I’ve stopped being the person I was. Everyone forgets that I’ve done things too – the Chalet School, which I am so proud of, is simply mentioned briefly, only occasionally not by people attached to it. I’m always ‘the wife of Sir James Russell, who’s doing such good work’. I’m an accessory, a thing, and so I have to be a perfect thing. I’m just for show, but I can’t be that unless I look good.”

“You look fabulous,” promised Dr. Atkins, and Madge knew that she could trust his word. The first few weeks he had been seeing her, he had gone out of his way to let her know just how ghastly she appeared. “You’d look a lot better with a little bit more weight, but this time I think we can call it a scare and no more. Once you start eating normally again, you’ll be fine. Remember these?”

He ferreted about in his bag, and produced the old charts which she had used to pull her eating back on track. After that, the meeting moved on to how she could improve, what steps she needed to take. Already Madge felt better. She knew just how hard the road to recovery was, but she was at the beginning of it now, at last, and just that removed so much stress and worry for her. Half of the problem had been the problem itself. She only hoped that this time, when she recovered – one thing Dr. Atkins had very definitely taught her was to never use ‘if’ should ‘when’ do better – it would be a permanent change.

Author:  Alison H [ Thu Feb 19, 2009 5:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: When his back was turned

That sounds more hopeful.

Author:  Emma A [ Thu Feb 19, 2009 6:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: When his back was turned

Very much so (agreeing with Alison). Poor Madge - and Jem is being lovely in this. Hope she can start eating properly, and find something to do that isn't merely being "Sir James Russell's wife".

Thanks, Ariel.

Author:  Lesley [ Thu Feb 19, 2009 8:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: When his back was turned

Sounds as though this Doctor Atkins is just what Madge needs.


Author:  Abi [ Thu Feb 19, 2009 11:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: When his back was turned

Jem's being amazing here, and it sounds as though Dr Atkins is just the right thing for her.

This is really good, Ariel - thank you!

Author:  Lyanne [ Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:01 am ]
Post subject:  Re: When his back was turned

This is pre the twins, isn't it? So she must make a full recovery... if you're staying with canon...

Author:  Fiona Mc [ Fri Feb 20, 2009 8:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: When his back was turned

Glad Dr Atkins helped. Jem is being such a SLOC here

Author:  ChubbyMonkey [ Sat Feb 21, 2009 12:24 am ]
Post subject:  Re: When his back was turned

It took two hours for Dr. Atkins to emerge from his meeting with Madge, but when he did his smile was still fixed firmly in place. Jem was glad. He had finally found someone who could talk to Madge without becoming despondent and worn down – that was assuming Dr. Atkins wasn’t one of those people who smiled constantly and annoyed every one else. Jem hoped not. He hoped that all had gone well. This man was his last hope.

“Good news,” beamed Dr. Atkins broadly, settling himself comfortably on a seat opposite Jem. He fished out the same charts and before and lay them in front of the doctor, not bothering to explain what should be obvious to a fellow professional. Jem picked them up and studied them. “Lady Russell and I have discussed it, and she’s agreed to try this treatment again. If it doesn’t work this time, get back in touch immediately, and I’ll come back down. In the meantime, I have another suggestion to make.”

Jem raised one eyebrow, but didn’t comment, still engrossed in the charts and only half listening. As this was a permanent state for a doctor to be in, his guest didn’t worry, but merely expanded,

“I think that what Madge needs is a holiday. She seems to have become entrenched in daily life and is finding it rather tedious. Taking her somewhere new – particularly somewhere with that spiffing air your San. is so famous for liking – would be just the ticket, I think.”

“I did have an offer,” Jem pondered. “I was invited to go out to Canada and give some speeches. The only trouble is, if Madge came with me, we’d have to organise the children.”

“It sounds perfect, as long as you could make it relaxing,” encouraged Dr. Atkins. He took his leave shortly after that, but he left Jem pondering matters.

A few quick ‘phone calls later, and he hunted up Madge – in the library – and sat down opposite her, smiling gently. She was reading a book, but when he came in she put it down and looked up from where she was reclining on a chair next to the open fire. Jem smiled to himself.

“I’ve got a surprise for you. I didn’t mention it before, because I didn’t know if we could do it, but I was invited out to Canada. Dr. Atkins thinks that it would be just the thing for you, and so I’ve been organising things. If you’re up for it, I think that I’ve got it sorted. We could fly out soon, and we’d take Josette and Ailie with us. It would do Josette the world of good, and wouldn’t do Ailie any harm, either. I rang Jack Maynard as well. I’ve agreed that we can take Margot with us, because she really could benefit from the air, and in return they are going to look after Sybs, and keep an eye on David for us – though he’ll be at school mostly, of course. It would give you the perfect break, and help you to recover, as well as giving you some time with the children.”

“What about David and Sybil?” asked Madge, her eyes troubled. She knew that this was what was best for her, but her children had to come first. Jem only smiled.

“Relax. Sybil will be very well taken care of, with Joey and Jack to look after her, and the school as well. As if any of them would let one of your children be hurt! For that matter, David will be coming back to Joey and Jack in the holidays, too, and other than that it will be completely normal. We’ll only be away for a few weeks, months at most. Think about Dick and Mollie, and all the time that they spend away from their children because we had them. I think David and Sybs can manage for a couple of weeks without us, and like I said, it will give you time with the younger children, as well as the chance to travel again. We’re doing this because it’s best for you. I’m brooking no arguments on the subject; we’re going. Aside from anything else, I’ve made all of the arrangements now. I only hope that you can enjoy it and get the most benefit from it that you can.”

Privately, he added that they couldn’t bring Sybil and David. Their two youngest children were too young to guess what was going on, although Madge wouldn’t be silly enough, he hoped, to refuse food in front of them. But certainly David and, perhaps, Sybil would guess something was wrong with their mother and he didn’t want that. He wanted to remind Madge that before anything else, she was a mother, and that was something which nobody could take away from her.

“I’d love to,” said Madge uncertainly, “if you’re sure that it really wouldn’t be too much of a hitch?”

“Anything for you,” returned Jem.

- X -

”Madge, too, is a different woman. You know, I think she had got into a rut. I’m sure she was in danger of becoming ‘That very sweet woman, Lady Russell’. There’s a lot more to her than that, as I always knew. She’s gone back to Tirol days and is crisp and snappy and brisk, not to mention looking twenty years younger!”

I just want to add a small thanks here to Blue, who pre-read the ending for me, and who was really helpful (whatever you say!) Also thankyou to all of you for all of your kind comments, I really do appreciate them.

Author:  Chelsea [ Sat Feb 21, 2009 12:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: When his back was turned

What an interesting spin on the trip to Canada.

Thanks ChubbyMonkey, that was a great read.

Author:  blue1 [ Sat Feb 21, 2009 12:42 am ]
Post subject:  Re: When his back was turned

Thank you.

Glad you went with this. It was a great read the whole way through.

Author:  Lesley [ Sat Feb 21, 2009 7:58 am ]
Post subject:  Re: When his back was turned

Very interesting explanation for the Canada trip - pleased it worked.


Author:  Alison H [ Sat Feb 21, 2009 8:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: When his back was turned

That was a really interesting spin on the trip to Canada and all the talk about how much good it did Madge.

Thanks ChubbyMonkey: I always enjoy your drabbles.

Author:  Abi [ Sun Feb 22, 2009 12:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: When his back was turned

So that was why they went to Canada - oddly convincing, especially with Joey's comments about Madge's improvement. So glad it worked.

Thanks Ariel - this was fantastic.

Author:  Emma A [ Mon Feb 23, 2009 2:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: When his back was turned

Very interesting ending, and plausibly fitting into canon, too. Thanks, Ariel, this has been very thought-provoking (and Jem really nice in it!).

Author:  JellySheep [ Tue Feb 24, 2009 10:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: When his back was turned

I've really enjoyed this, it's been very thought-provoking and sensitively written, and with a hopeful ending. Very plausible how you've woven it together with the motivation for the trip to Canada. I like all your drabbles, they're really good.

Author:  leahbelle [ Wed Feb 25, 2009 2:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: When his back was turned

Thanks for a wonderful drabble. It was really sensitive and so plausible. I'm glad Madge got the chance to get away from it all and get herself healthy again.

Author:  Fiona Mc [ Sat Feb 28, 2009 7:23 am ]
Post subject:  Re: When his back was turned

Thanks, really loved this drabble

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