New Ideas for the Chalet School, Section 1.

Author:  abbeybufo [ Tue Jan 22, 2008 9:53 pm ]
Post subject:  New Ideas for the Chalet School, Section 1.

This is the result of a - shall we say 'eccentric' - idea I had, the substance of which which will be made clearer in a later post...

Len & Con looked at their sleeping triplet reflectively – their eyes met over the red curls and they grinned at each other. Then, in smooth synchronicity, the each took an end of the sofa, and tipped the sleeper onto the floor of the Freudesheim salon. Instead of awakened wrath, however, the sleeping triplet turned over on the rug and seemed to sink into an even deeper slumber.

“I’m getting a bit concerned,” said Len. “I think we should speak to Mamma – or even better Papa, if he has time, about it.”

“Yes,” replied Con. “I wonder if it’s something like glandular fever?”

Len looked really worried at that thought. “But that takes ages to get over – and keeps recurring. After our time in Canada I thought all the health worries were over!”

“Well, it’s something that seems to strike even healthy people in their teens these days – they lose all their energy – in fact, have no go at all. That’s what it looks like to me.”

“You could be right.”

And Len & Con took another look at their snoring sibling, and went in search of Joey.

Author:  Pat [ Tue Jan 22, 2008 10:16 pm ]
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This is a great start. Please may we have some more?

Author:  roversgirl [ Tue Jan 22, 2008 10:18 pm ]
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brilliant start! can't wait for more... :)

Author:  Alison H [ Tue Jan 22, 2008 10:18 pm ]
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Looking forward to seeing where this is going.

Author:  Elbee [ Tue Jan 22, 2008 10:26 pm ]
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Looks interesting, looking forward to more :D !

Author:  PaulineS [ Tue Jan 22, 2008 10:31 pm ]
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Interesting. Looking forward to the next post.

Author:  Lesley [ Tue Jan 22, 2008 10:45 pm ]
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Ooooh, like the look of this!

Thanks Ruth. :lol:

Author:  abbeybufo [ Tue Jan 22, 2008 11:01 pm ]
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Thanks for the encouragement - a little flashback before we get to what I originally thought would be the second post

Madge was wishing she had never agreed to this journey. She didn’t much care for trains, and certainly didn’t enjoy travelling alone. But to Taverton she must go, to see her old lawyer, and as Jem was tied up with San business, she could have neither the car nor his company. Jo was away in some holiday cottage in the north with her four little ones, together with her old schoolfriends and their children, so the journey must be solitary as well.

Wartime trains were never entirely reliable, and in the August afternoon heat of the return leg, her compartment was almost unbearably stuffy. After the third change, and the fifth unscheduled stop in the middle of nowhere, Madge found herself breathing a sigh of relief; she was nearly home again.

The man opposite her put down his newspaper, “You sound as if you will be as pleased as I to reach the end of your journey?” He had a pleasant Scottish accent, spectacles and a rather wild shock of white receding hair.

“Yes,” replied Madge, “though I’m nearly there now.”

“You’re lucky!” was the rejoinder. “I have to get back to Ffestiniog – and I don’t think I’ll make it tonight.”

Author:  roversgirl [ Tue Jan 22, 2008 11:05 pm ]
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twice in one night! thank you :) am interested to see where this goes...

Author:  Lottie [ Tue Jan 22, 2008 11:06 pm ]
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This looks intriguing. I waiting, eagerly, to see how the two episode link together.

Thanks, abbeybufo! :D

Author:  Lesley [ Tue Jan 22, 2008 11:42 pm ]
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Thanks Ruth.

Author:  Alison H [ Wed Jan 23, 2008 12:27 am ]
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Intrigued now!

Author:  ibarhis [ Wed Jan 23, 2008 11:58 am ]
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Very intrigued!

Author:  MaryR [ Wed Jan 23, 2008 6:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New Drabble - still to be named

abbeybufo wrote:

“You’re lucky!” was the rejoinder. “I have to get back to Ffestiniogg – and I don’t think I’ll make it tonight.”[/i]

I had to giggle at seeing someone other than me struggling in the wilds of Wales!! :wink:

Tantalising girl, aren't you Ruth! :twisted: Looking forward to watching you marry those two pieces together! :lol:

Author:  Elder in Ontario [ Wed Jan 23, 2008 7:49 pm ]
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Another one wondering how these two pieces will link together - but definitely intrigued!

Author:  Carys [ Wed Jan 23, 2008 9:21 pm ]
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This is intriguing! Looking forward to seeing how the two are linked.

Author:  Fiona Mc [ Wed Jan 23, 2008 9:23 pm ]
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Carys wrote:
This is intriguing! Looking forward to seeing how the two are linked.

So am I

Author:  linda [ Wed Jan 23, 2008 9:43 pm ]
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Fiona Mc wrote:
Carys wrote:
This is intriguing! Looking forward to seeing how the two are linked.

So am I

Me too!! Fascinating :lol: :lol:

Author:  abbeybufo [ Wed Jan 23, 2008 10:05 pm ]
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Thanks for your comments. Have a little more flashback :lol:

By the time the train drew into Armiford – after yet another delay – the two were firm friends. Both had founded schools abroad in the 1920s, he in Germany, she in Austria; both had taken their schools to England – though his move had preceded hers by some fifteen years. Both schools had changed site within Britain – his had moved from Dorset to East Anglia, and was now evacuated to Wales, hers had come from Guernsey to Howells, just outside Armiford. Here the surface similarities ended, as the Dominie’s school was co-educational and run to a large extent by the pupils in regular meetings. But the more Madge listened to the enthusiastic Scot, the more interested she became.

After all, the Chalet School had always reckoned to place pupils in forms by ability rather than age, the prefects were given a large amount of say in the day-to-day running of the school; all in all there were more points in common than of difference – and the most obvious of those was that of co-education as opposed to girls only. But Alexander Neill spoke eloquently of the life skills and beneficial psychological effects of boys and girls going through their school lives together – after all, their lives after school would in most cases bring them into each other's company. Madge began to wonder if she could put some of his ideas into practice at the Chalet School; for, if he was right, this was how she could solve Joey’s problem.

As the train slowed, Neill lifted down Madge’s overnight case as she gathered up her other bags and her jacket. His eyes widened as she stood up from her seat, and he realised that she was roundly pregnant. Too much of a gentleman to comment, he opened the carriage door to help her down onto the platform – only to hear a station announcement “All change! All change. This train terminates here.” In the light of this, he turned of necessity to his own belongings, and by the time he had everything together, Madge was already in the arms of the distinguished-looking man who had come to meet her, and who was ensuring that she had taken no harm from the journey.

Neill was on his way to find the stationmaster, or a porter – someone who might tell him when the next train to Wrexham would be, when Madge called him back and introduced him to her husband, Sir James Russell. Brooking no denial, the Russells insisted that Neill return with them to stay overnight at their home, as there would be not the slightest possibility of his reaching Ffestiniog that night.

Author:  PaulineS [ Wed Jan 23, 2008 10:19 pm ]
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Good to see more.
The meeting with Neill is interesting. I take it he is the founder of an actual school, with a reputation for an unusual approach.

Author:  Vick [ Wed Jan 23, 2008 10:26 pm ]
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I'm intrigued as to how this will pan out. Thanks abbeybufo.

Author:  Elder in Ontario [ Wed Jan 23, 2008 10:45 pm ]
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Presumably Mr. Neill is, however loosely, based on AS Neill who founded a school in London (the name is completely escaping me and I don't know how to switch between windows in the CBB format, but someone mentioned a documentary on that school on TV tonight?)

It will be interesting to see the reactions from Joey, and from the Chalet School staff if Madge does propose the school go co-educational.

Thanks Abbeybufo - I'll be looking forward to more of this!

Author:  Alison H [ Wed Jan 23, 2008 10:51 pm ]
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It was Summerhill School (incidentally, the "drama-doc" turned out to be a modern-day children's drama and wasn't really worth watching!).

Enjoying this and looking forward to more!

Author:  abbeybufo [ Wed Jan 23, 2008 10:58 pm ]
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It is indeed A. S. Neill & Summerhill School - and the locations are accurate according to the Wikipedia article about it.
The next post won't be until tomorrow - and will return to the situation depicted in the first post. :lol:

Author:  Fiona Mc [ Wed Jan 23, 2008 11:26 pm ]
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This is good. Thanks

Author:  Fi [ Thu Jan 24, 2008 2:46 am ]
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A. Neill founded the Summerhill School in Suffolk which is still running today. It is still a co-educational independant boarding school. It is considered to be very progressive as the pupils pick and choose which lessons they attend. There are no official school rules but "laws" for the whole community to follow are decided on democratically by both teachers and pupils at a meeting.

For more info - check out their website.

Thanks Abbeybufo

Author:  Cath V-P [ Thu Jan 24, 2008 3:21 am ]
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And he wrote a series of books about his early experiences as a teacher in a Scottish school, beginning with "A Dominie's Log." in 1916

This is fascinating Ruth.

Author:  Fatima [ Thu Jan 24, 2008 4:39 pm ]
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This looks very interesting! Thanks Ruth.

Author:  leahbelle [ Thu Jan 24, 2008 6:06 pm ]
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This is looking good! Thanks. :lol:

Author:  abbeybufo [ Thu Jan 24, 2008 7:10 pm ]
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Cath V-P wrote:
And he wrote a series of books about his early experiences as a teacher in a Scottish school, beginning with "A Dominie's Log." in 1916.

That's why I called him the Dominie at first, Cath :lol:
Some more in the 'modern' period, which will explain a few things - then, if people want, I will show some of the effects of these circumstances throughout the consequently changed history of the CS...

Len & Con had gone in search of Joey…They found her in her study, trying to proofread the latest of the adventure stories for which she had become so well-known over the last 15 or so years. Her first successes had been girls’ stories, but when the triplets had arrived, and three singleton boys after them, then the two sets of twins with Cecil in between, Jo had decided that she ought to write books for her sons to read. Nowadays she published under the name of J. M. Bettany, a nice androgynous name that didn’t let on that the author was a woman, and moreover the mother of eleven. Len was quite sure that his mother had gone on having so many children because she had never quite given up hope of having a daughter one day.

“Mamma,” he began. “Con and I are worried about Mart.”

“Lennox John Maynard!” Joey was wrestling with galley proofs which, as always, kept wanting to cascade over the side of the desk, rather than staying neatly on the top of it. “Whatever are you and Con hatching now?”

“Really Mamma,” Constantine stood shoulder to shoulder with his elder triplet. “We are worried. Mart has done nothing but sleep this holiday. We wondered if Papa could have a look at him – we’re afraid he might have glandular fever.”

“You don’t think it’s just a few late nights this hol and the after-effects of a busy term?” suggested their mother. “Martin has really made an effort in his studies this term, too, you know, to catch up with you two.”

“It might just be that,” conceded Len. “It’s just that he seems to have completely lost all his energy.”

“And just now he didn’t wake up even when we tipped him off the sofa,” added Con. “We were expecting a fight, but he just snuggled down onto the floor and kept snoring.”

“Hm. Well that does sound a bit unlikely for him,” Joey rejoined. “I’ll certainly have a word with Papa when he gets in.”

And she bent once more to her proofs, shaking her head at the thought of her youngest triplet’s lack of ‘go’.

Author:  PaulineS [ Thu Jan 24, 2008 8:20 pm ]
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So clues as to why Madge thought AS Neill's ideas could be useful at the Chalet School.
Like the idea of all Jo's children being boys

:lol: :lol: :lol:

edited as I missed a word out .

Author:  MaryR [ Thu Jan 24, 2008 8:38 pm ]
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You knitted everything together very neatly there, Ruth. :lol:

Love *Jo's Boys* :twisted:

Thank you.

Author:  Elder in Ontario [ Thu Jan 24, 2008 8:53 pm ]
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No wonder Madge was contemplating 'changes for the Chalet School' since she already knew Jo's triplets were boys, not girls!

Very intriguing prospects opening up here, Abbeybufo. Thank you.

Author:  roversgirl [ Thu Jan 24, 2008 9:18 pm ]
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now it begins to make sense... thanks :)

Author:  abbeybufo [ Thu Jan 24, 2008 9:32 pm ]
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MaryR wrote:
Love *Jo's Boys* :twisted:

Yes, Mary - I nearly called it that...but then it could have spoilt the suspense for people starting at the beginning :lol:

Author:  Fiona Mc [ Thu Jan 24, 2008 10:03 pm ]
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All boys! Poor Joey. I've an aunt who had 9 daughters before getting a son.

Author:  Lesley [ Thu Jan 24, 2008 10:22 pm ]
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Good grief - Jo has eleven boys????

Love the idea - and the names - very clever. Like that Madge has met up with Neill - have read the school website in the past - very different and seems to get the best from its students.

Thanks Ruth

Author:  Alison H [ Thu Jan 24, 2008 10:46 pm ]
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This is different!

Author:  Mona [ Thu Jan 24, 2008 10:59 pm ]
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Intruiging idea. Thanks!

Author:  linda [ Thu Jan 24, 2008 11:35 pm ]
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Fabulous :lol: :roll: :lol: :roll: :lol:

Eleven boys - Poor Joey - love the names though

Jo's Boys - yes definitely

Author:  Elbee [ Thu Jan 24, 2008 11:43 pm ]
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Very unexpected twist! Looking forward to more. I hadn't heard about this school before.

Thanks, Abbeybufo.

Author:  abbeybufo [ Thu Jan 24, 2008 11:59 pm ]
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Thanks for the kind comments - out for most of the next couple or three days, so don't look for any more before some time Sunday night ... might have done a bit more research by then - know where some of this is heading, but not always how it's going to get there :twisted:

Author:  Lesley [ Fri Jan 25, 2008 12:01 am ]
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abbeybufo wrote:
Thanks for the kind comments - out for most of the next couple or three days, so don't look for any more before some time Sunday night ... might have done a bit more research by then - know where some of this is heading, but not always how it's going to get there :twisted:

That sounds soooo familiar! :lol:

Author:  Vick [ Fri Jan 25, 2008 12:56 pm ]
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Very interesting that Jo has 11 boys. Thanks abbeybufo. :D

Author:  Liz K [ Fri Jan 25, 2008 2:30 pm ]
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:shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:

That was a turn-up for the books, Jo's children being boys!

Author:  Tara [ Sat Jan 26, 2008 12:54 am ]
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:shock: :shock: Well, I certainly wasn't expecting that! Clever of you. I'll be interested to see where it goes.

Author:  abbeybufo [ Sat Jan 26, 2008 11:00 am ]
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Small window of opportunity this morning, so posting another flashback - with acknowledgments to CS Exile and thanks to Caroline for so promptly giving me access to the original wording... :wink:

Joey Creates A Sensation

Dr Chester came down the stairs at Les Rosiers, grinning broadly. Joey had certainly done her best to provide the School and all concerned with a sensation this time, and he judged that she would have succeeded. He drew on his driving gloves, went to his car, and got in to drive to Bonne Maison to inform the young lady’s sister of her latest exploit, in accordance with a promise young Mrs Maynard had got from him.

‘Do go yourself Peter,’ she had implored. ‘Don’t just ring up or send a message. I’m dying to hear what Madge says and how she looks. You go; and tell me the whole story next time you come.’


Madge Russell was up today, and sitting in. her room, Baby Josette slumbering placidly in her crib in the far corner. She was playing with some knitting, but she was rather bored by it, as well as anxious over her sister, whom she had not been able to see since her own illness. At sight of the doctor, therefore, she tossed her work down, and gave a welcoming cry.

‘Peter Chester! Is Anne with you? This surely isn’t a professional visit? I’m practically all right now. … Do you know how Joey is today?’

‘Simply splendid. You know, Madge, you’re worrying yourself most unnecessarily about her. There’s nothing wrong with Jo.’

‘I’ve been mother to her so long,’ said Madge. ‘And for so long her health was such an anxiety to me.’

‘Well, there’s nothing to be anxious about now. She’s as strong as a moorland pony.’

‘Jem tells me the same thing. I’m glad to hear you agree. But I do worry over her.’

‘No need to think of it.’

‘I can’t help worrying,’ said Madge defensively.

‘Well, don’t. The time for worry is over!’

‘What?’ gasped Madge, suddenly galvanised into an erect position. ‘Do you mean—it’s happened?’

‘Over,’ his eyes wandered to the pretty old cuckoo clock on the wall, ‘just three and a half hours ago.’

‘Impossible!’ Madge fell back in her chair, deprived of breath.

‘Not at all.’

‘Why wasn’t I told?’

‘Joey wouldn’t have you worried. There wasn’t any need. She’s quite cheery, and fell asleep before I came along like a baby herself. She’ll be up and about in three weeks’ time. I can promise you that.’

Madge recovered herself. She sat up again. ‘It’s really all over? And well over, too. Oh, thank God!’

‘She’s extremely thrilled with life,’ said the doctor pensively.

‘And—which is it?’

He possessed himself of her wrist again. ‘Let’s be sure your heart’s in good working order first. I must break this to you carefully. It’s—prepare yourself for a shock!—sons—three of ‘em!’

‘Three sons! Triplets!’ Madge was robbed of speech again. ‘Peter! You aren’t trying to pull my leg, are you?’

‘Of course not! It really is three sons. Jo calls them Jock, Jim, and Joe; but whether those will remain their names or not, I can’t tell you.’

‘Let’s hope not! Where’s Jem? Does he know? And Jack, with his regiment in France—have you wired him?’

‘Wired him ages ago. As for your husband, so far as I know, he’s at the San. No; he doesn’t know yet. I’m leaving you to tell him.’

‘Doesn’t know what yet?’ demanded Jem Russell’s voice at the door. ‘What are you yarning about now, Peter?’

‘Oh, Jem! Joey’s got triplets—boys! Isn’t it just like her?’

Jem came into the room and sat down on the foot of the bed. ‘Oh no, you don’t, my dear!’ he said jeeringly. ‘I’m not going to fall for a tale of that kind, so don’t you think it.’

‘It’s true! Ask Peter! He’s just come from there.’

Jem turned to the other man incredulously. ‘Is it really true?’

‘Oh, quite. Jo made me promise to come and tell Madge, and I’ve to report, when next I see her, on the reaction. I should think even she will be satisfied. And,’ he went on, getting up, and buttoning up his top-coat which he had opened on coming into the warm room, ‘I am going to inform Anne, Janie, and Elizabeth now. I’ll leave the School and the kids to you two.’

‘And Dick,’ said Madge excitedly. ‘Jem, you must cable Dick and Mollie at once. Oh, won’t they be thrilled?

‘Write your cable, and I’ll send it off. I’m passing the post-office,’ said the doctor.

Author:  Lesley [ Sat Jan 26, 2008 11:24 am ]
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Thanks Ruth

Author:  Alison H [ Sat Jan 26, 2008 11:29 am ]
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:lol: :lol:

Author:  Mona [ Sat Jan 26, 2008 1:13 pm ]
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A fascinating slant on things, thanks!

Author:  Fiona Mc [ Sat Jan 26, 2008 2:11 pm ]
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It certainly changes the way you read that

Author:  abbeybufo [ Sat Jan 26, 2008 9:44 pm ]
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Meanwhile, half a world away...

“I suppose you’ll be off on another Inspection tour soon?” thus Mollie Bettany to her husband Dick as they sat at their chotahazri, or early breakfast.

“I suppose so – I ought to get up to the plantations on the top Ghats now the weather is improving. Trouble is, I don’t want to go away until I hear news of Jo.”

“Well her news isn’t due for another week or so,” Mollie waited for the table attendant to clear the egg plates. “Couldn’t you make a shorter trip this week, and come home for a few days before you go off to the higher forests?”

Dick took another mouthful of tea and stood to go. “I’ll spend the morning at the office today anyway and be home for tiffin,” he said, bestowing a kiss on her cheek and leaving her to go to his work before the heat of the Indian day started to sap everyone’s energy.

By 2 p.m. when they met again, Mollie had done her ‘go-down’ and spent some time with three-and-a-half-year-old ‘second twins’, Maurice and Maeve before sending them off with their ayah for a nap and settling herself quietly on the shady verandah with her peg-tumbler.

“I’ve had the strangest cablegram!” he greeted her in some excitement.
“What? Let me see!”

Dick handed her the long orange envelope. She drew out the flimsy paper…

“ ‘Triplets at Les Rosiers. All hes.’ …does this mean…?”

“I think so – I think it means that my baby sister is the proud mamma of three boys! What shall we do to celebrate?”

Author:  PaulineS [ Sat Jan 26, 2008 10:33 pm ]
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Lovely to have Dick and Mollie's response, something EBD did not give. Thanks

Author:  Alison H [ Sat Jan 26, 2008 11:00 pm ]
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Nice to see Dick and Mollie's reaction.

Author:  Chair [ Sat Jan 26, 2008 11:12 pm ]
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Thanks, Ruth. It is great to see this drabble!

Author:  Carolyn P [ Sat Jan 26, 2008 11:47 pm ]
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What an interesting idea! Look forward to seeing how it pans out and what the future holds for the CS! :lol:

I've got the A S Neill book 'Summerhill' and have read a little about the school, and some of his ideas on religion and sex would be very different from the Chalet's, and yet some of his other ideas fit in well.

Author:  Tara [ Sun Jan 27, 2008 12:07 am ]
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It takes quite a stretch to get ones head around the difference! Enormous implications for the CS.

I'm actually rather enjoying the kids' drama about Summerhill on at the moment (guiltily, 'cos it's a total travesty). It is, however, what one wants to happen!

Author:  Lesley [ Sun Jan 27, 2008 10:02 am ]
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Love it - wonder how that telegram got past the censors though! :wink:

Thanks Ruth.

Author:  roversgirl [ Sun Jan 27, 2008 10:10 am ]
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thanks very much :) and it was lovely to see Dick and Mollie :)

Author:  abbeybufo [ Sun Jan 27, 2008 10:26 am ]
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Lesley wrote:
- wonder how that telegram got past the censors though! :wink:

There's a bit later in Exile - unless it's in in Goes to it (I've read both so recently and too lazy to check :oops: ) - that says it was lucky to get through :lol:

Author:  MaryR [ Sun Jan 27, 2008 5:10 pm ]
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Have thoroughly enjoyed these last two posts and their *twists* on canon, Ruth. :lol:

Thank you.

Author:  Fatima [ Sun Jan 27, 2008 5:18 pm ]
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Well that is a change of circumstances!

Thanks Ruth.

Author:  abbeybufo [ Sun Jan 27, 2008 10:53 pm ]
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Thanks for the continued encouragement. Have a little more, 'morphed' from Exile :lol:

Two days later, when Madge was sitting by the fire holding the three babies on her knee, Jo, who was now propped up with pillows, and looking remarkably well, said casually, ‘By the way, the babes are to be baptised the day after tomorrow.’

‘Joey! Who are the god-parents, then?’

‘Bill and Charlie and Nally. Sorry I can’t have you, my dear, but as they’ll be brought up Catholics, it can’t be done.’

‘I knew that, and didn’t expect it. How are you going to get Grace Nalder across, though?’

‘I can’t. Rob’s going to deputise for her. And Gottfried Mensch, Eugen von Wertheimer, and Vater Bar will be godfathers.’

Madge rose, and laid the babies in the cradle. ‘Jo,’ she said, coming to kneel down by the bedside, ‘tell me truly, what
are their names to be?’

Mischief glimmered in Jo’s black eyes. Then she relented. ‘Right-ho! I’ll tell you. One is to be Lennox John, after our mother’s family and Jack; Two is to be Constantine James, after Con Stewart and Jem; Three is to be Martin Joseph, because they were due on St Martin’s day – and after me. Will that do?’

Madge drew a deep breath of relief. ‘I’ve been wondering all sorts of things. You are so mad sometimes, Joey. But what are you going to call little Constantine? Not the whole thing, surely?’

‘No, my dear. He’ll be Con. And Lennox is to be Len, and Martin will be Marty. I did try to think up three names all beginning with the same letter, but I couldn’t get anything I wanted. I’d have liked to call one “Michael,” but I couldn’t think of a single other decent name beginning with M, so I gave it up. When I have a girl, she shall be called Margaret for you.’

* * *

'Peter says I can be up to lie on the couch on the baptismal day. I’ll soon be on my feet again. I never had the smallest use for lying in bed— except when the rising-bell at school went. I’ll admit it was a bit of a strain at times to get up then.’

‘Well, don’t try to overdo. That’s all I ask.’

‘Give me credit for a little common sense! There’s One—I mean Len—crying. Give him to me, Madge.’

Madge laughed as she got up to bring the baby. ‘Joey, you’re incorrigible!’ she said.

Author:  Lesley [ Sun Jan 27, 2008 11:04 pm ]
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Weird, very weird, it's the same but different. Don't know about a boy with the name Con though - he'd better be a good fighter! :lol:

Thanks Ruth.

Author:  abbeybufo [ Sun Jan 27, 2008 11:31 pm ]
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And another little ‘present-day’ scene ‘morphed’ from Adrienne

“No need, mein Schatz,” Anna told Len, waving her hand towards a big milk churn. “Here, I have more of orange. Over there is more of lemonade and the fruit liquor is here. I know how youth is thirsty, so I prepare.”

“Anna, you’re a pet, a poppet, a sweetiepie!” Len cried. “Come on, Mart! We’ll have the rabble on the yell if we don’t hurry. I’ll say thankyou properly when it’s all over, Anna. Meantime,” he rose with brimming pitcher in each hand, “we must moisten nature’s clay with all haste. Droughty is how I’d describe that lot in the salon! Come on, Mart!” He led the way with an infectious laugh, Martin following with a broad grin at Anna as he left the kitchen.

Anna watched them with an equally broad beam. She loved every member of the Maynard family, from the busy Doctor and his equally busy wife, down to big Bruno and Pompey, the budgerigar, who lived in a huge cage in the playroom to keep him safe from Nox, the black cat, who ruled in the kitchen. He was Anna’s own possession but when the fit seized him, he took possession of any chair or sofa that he chose and the gate at the head of the top flight of stairs was always kept securely latched as much on Pompey’s account as the babies’. But of them all, Len was secretly Anna’s special darling and had been from baby days. Not that this meant that the eldest Master Maynard got much in the way of privileges as a result. Anna was a stern moralist and because Len was her favourite, she had always been stricter with him than with any of the other boys.

Author:  Elder in Ontario [ Sun Jan 27, 2008 11:48 pm ]
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This is an absolute riot - I love the twists and turns, and I bet that even typing up the 'morphs' from Exile is proving a challenge in itself if you are to remember to change all the names and pronouns every time!!!

Thanks, Abbeybufo - I'm looking forward to seeing how this develops.

Author:  Tara [ Mon Jan 28, 2008 12:02 am ]
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Oh weird, decidedly weird! It feels so strange! Love the budgie and the cat, too.

Author:  Lesley [ Mon Jan 28, 2008 7:50 am ]
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Thanks Ruth - so Len is still Anna's favourite, of course! :lol:

Author:  keren [ Mon Jan 28, 2008 8:55 am ]
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Lesley wrote:
Weird, very weird, it's the same but different. Don't know about a boy with the name Con though - he'd better be a good fighter! :lol:

Thanks Ruth.

Con can be a boys name

I first read a chalet school book, I think it was Jane at the age of 7

I was so confused
I was sure that Len, Con, Jack, Ted (and possibly others), were boys' names

Author:  roversgirl [ Mon Jan 28, 2008 9:18 am ]
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thank you very much :) this is brilliant!

Author:  Fiona Mc [ Mon Jan 28, 2008 11:49 am ]
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This is fabulous, thank you

Author:  abbeybufo [ Mon Jan 28, 2008 5:45 pm ]
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Bunnies were biting last night - probably because SLOC was away - most of it is still in illegible pencil scrawl, but have transcribed the following, which I offer for your delectation :lol:

It was when Michael was born that Madge finally decided to take action. She had been concerned about Joey when Stephen appeared, but there was so much else going on shortly after that – the accident to Hilda and Nell, the terrible time with Sybil and Josette. Then at the time of Charles’s arrival – Joey’s fifth son – but what with one thing and another, she had done no more than reassure Jo … she remembered the conversation all too well . . .

‘Jo you mustn’t upset yourself so much – you always have such beautiful baby boys.’

‘Oh, Madge I’m s-sorry; I didn’t mean to be a waterspout. It’s not that I don’t love him – love all of them for that matter; they’re my sons, mine and Jack’s. It’s just that, that – ’ it all came in a rush now ‘that I so wanted to have a girl to follow in my footsteps at the School. I was the first pupil at the Chalet School, after all, and I’ve been so proud of that, and now, now I can’t seem to provide a daughter to carry on the tradition. All these years I’ve tried to keep in touch, to help the girls – and the staff of course – if they’ve had any little problems. They’ve always known I was next door, or nearby, and that they could come to me at any time. Now, well, perhaps I should think about looking at the school my boys will go to. I don’t want them to feel their Mamma doesn’t give as much interest and help to their school. And then there is the question of money. I have shares in the Chalet School, so kindergarten for the boys is free. But we shall have to find prep school fees soon – and then I suppose think about sending them to Winchester – or somewhere. Those places aren’t cheap, Madge; I shall have to work harder at my writing if it has to supplement Jack’s screw, rather than bringing in a little pin-money to allow me an occasional new lime-green frock.’ She ended with a rueful grin.

‘I have been wondering,’ returned Madge. ‘Whether we could increase the age at which we accepted boys – as day pupils at least – until 9 or 10, or maybe even 13, the end of the prep-school age-range anyway. I wouldn’t want to disturb David – and I think Dick is happy with Winchester for Rix and its prep. school for Jackie, too; I’d prefer not to haul them out now, when they’re settled there; it wouldnt be fair. But it would mean that your eldest three could stay on here – and be near you – at least until they’re a bit older. Did I ever tell you,’ she smiled quietly to herself, ‘about the amazing man I met on the Armiford train when you were up in Garnley with Simone and Frieda?’

‘You seem to make a habit of meeting amazing men on trains,’ chuckled Joey. ‘You met Jem on one, if I remember correctly!’

‘That’s as maybe,’ was the retort, ‘but this fellow was really something else. He was a headmaster and at the time his school was evacuated to North Wales – near Ffestiniog. But he’d started it in Germany – a few years before we started up in Austria – then moved it to Austria, then to Dorset, to a house called Summerhill. When it outgrew that, he moved again, to Suffolk, taking the name with him, as it was so well-known by then – as indeed we have; we’re not housed in a Chalet any longer.’ She paused for breath.

‘Where’s all this leading?’ Jo was puzzled.

‘Summerhill,’ announced her sister triumphantly, ‘is different. We have always tried to be different, too, and many of our beliefs and modi operandi are very similar to theirs. But the important thing at the moment is that Summerhill is co-educational. I’m thinking of eventually turning the whole Chalet School co-ed.’

Author:  roversgirl [ Mon Jan 28, 2008 5:59 pm ]
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WOW :shock: well, sort of. was wondering if she would do that. thank you :)

Author:  PaulineS [ Mon Jan 28, 2008 6:11 pm ]
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It will be good to see the changes Madge wants to make and those she does not. I can not see her accepting the freedom of choice that Summerhill gave and gives their students.

Author:  leahbelle [ Mon Jan 28, 2008 6:12 pm ]
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This is great! Thanks!

Author:  Lesley [ Mon Jan 28, 2008 8:19 pm ]
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Poor Joey being so upset - it's sad when parent wish their children were the opposite sex.

Thanks Ruth.

Author:  Elder in Ontario [ Mon Jan 28, 2008 8:31 pm ]
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The 'real'Jo was very lucky that her children were such an even mix of girls and boys - this 'all male' version grows more fascinating by the episode.

I agree with Pauline that I don't see Madge, or even the rest of the Chalet School directors and teachers, embracing wholeheartedly the 'free spirit' atmosphere of what I recall about Summerhill - going co-educational would be all right, I think but the rest? Questionable.

Talking of similar schools and wandering right off topic for a minute, does anyone know whether Wennington School, near Wetherby, which was run along very similar lines to Summerhill, is still in existence? I seem to think it closed down.

Thanks Abbeybufo, I'm really enjoying this.

Edited because I couldn't spell 'directors'!!!!

Author:  MaryR [ Mon Jan 28, 2008 8:39 pm ]
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Pompey? A budgerigar? Splutters! :lol:

Loving all this, Ruth. As Elder so rightly said, it's a riot!

Author:  abbeybufo [ Mon Jan 28, 2008 9:04 pm ]
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MaryR wrote:
Pompey? A budgerigar? Splutters! :lol:

Don't give me the credit for that, Mary :oops: - it's all in Adrienne :lol: - at least it's there in the transcript, I haven't got the actual book - but I can't imagine anyone doing them would have sabotaged the typescript :shock:

At the mo the rest, as far as I've got, is still in pencilled scrawl, so you'll have to wait a bit for the next instalment :wink:

Author:  abbeybufo [ Tue Jan 29, 2008 8:54 pm ]
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A little more from the time of Charles’s birth to keep you going – morphed from Rosalie

There came a loud, peremptory ringing on the telephone, and Rosalie Dene, who had followed Gillian into the room, exclaimed, “Oh, drat it!” and went to answer.

“Who on earth can that be, so early in the morning?” demanded Mary Burnett.

“It’s not so fearfully early – nearly half past eight,” Hilary retorted with a glance at her watch . . . the door opened again, to admit Miss Wilson.

“What was it, Bill?” Gillian asked. “Jo’s all right, isn’t she?”

“Quite all right now, though they’ve had a tough time of it for once. She has another son, born at seven o’clock this morning. Jack Maynard told me to tell you folk that Jo said she was glad he’d escaped being a May kitten,” she added with a sudden grin.

“How like Jo! You’re sure she’s all right?” Hilary added anxiously.

“Jack says she’s very weak, but it’s only a question of time now.”

“And the baby? – What’s he to be called, by the way?”

“He’s all right, too. Not such a fine child as Stephen was, but quite healthy. His name is to be Charles Richard – no jokes about Green this time!” the Head added with a sudden dancing light in her eyes.

The others laughed at this memory. Jo Maynard’s previous son, born the morning after his mother had dyed herself green by upsetting a bowlful of dye over her own head, had, for the first ten days or so of his existence, been named Stephen Green, so that everyone had thought this was really to be his name, since Jo had bound her household to secrecy about her mishap, and the story had leaked out only gradually.

“Richard is after her brother and father, of course,” said Mary. “Where does the ‘Charles’ come in?”

“Jo says it’s her favourite boy’s name.”


After breakfast, of which the prefects were in sole charge, and bed-making, they had Prayers, at which Miss Annersley announced the news.

“Why does everyone make such a fuss about Mrs Maynard?” Rosalie Way asked Bride Bettany when they finally streamed away to amuse themselves till half past ten, after which they were to hear an announcement of plans for the rest of the day. “I know she’s Josephine Bettany and writes all those lovely stories. But why do you all make such a row about her?”

Before Bride could answer, Elfie Woodward rushed in. “Mrs Maynard’s a part of the school, of course!” she said crisply. “It doesn’t matter how much married she is, or how many babies she has – this new one makes five with the Trips – ”

“Yes, but what are the Trips?” Rosalie asked bewilderedly.

They stopped short and stared at her.

“Mean to say no one’s told you yet and we’ve been at school all these weeks?” demanded Primrose Day.

Bride hushed them all. “You shut up! I’m telling this – it’s my aunt and my cousins, anyhow. Mrs. Maynard is my Auntie Jo, Rosalie, and her first babies were three boys – triplets – Len, Con, and Marty they’re called. Then Stephen came last year, and now there’s Charles. We were awfully bucked when the Triplets came! They’re the only ones in the family. Auntie Jo hasn’t shown up very much this term so far but as soon as she can I expect she’ll come and then you’ll see her.”

This was as much as anyone could tell Rosalie, even Tom saying, “I think Mrs Maynard’s a gentleman – more of a gentleman than most!” which was terrific praise from Tom Gay, but not very helpful to anyone who had never met the lady!

Author:  PaulineS [ Tue Jan 29, 2008 10:15 pm ]
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Thanks for this

Author:  Lesley [ Tue Jan 29, 2008 10:51 pm ]
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Thanks Ruth - so have the Trips gone to the Chalet School?

Author:  abbeybufo [ Tue Jan 29, 2008 11:01 pm ]
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Lesley wrote:
- so have the Trips gone to the Chalet School?

They're only five-and-a-half at this point, Lesley :lol:

Author:  Lesley [ Tue Jan 29, 2008 11:07 pm ]
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abbeybufo wrote:
Lesley wrote:
- so have the Trips gone to the Chalet School?

They're only five-and-a-half at this point, Lesley :lol:

And? I started School when I was four. Admittedly not Boarding School but still. :lol:

Author:  abbeybufo [ Tue Jan 29, 2008 11:16 pm ]
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Lesley wrote:
abbeybufo wrote:
Lesley wrote:
- so have the Trips gone to the Chalet School?

They're only five-and-a-half at this point, Lesley :lol:

And? I started School when I was four. Admittedly not Boarding School but still. :lol:

So did I - but to be serious, I'm assuming they are at the kindergarten which even in canon took small boys up till about 6.
The next post - I think it will be the next one :twisted: - will say a bit more about this.

ETA actually I think they are only four-and-a-half when Charles is born :? :oops:

Author:  Fiona Mc [ Tue Jan 29, 2008 11:51 pm ]
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I am curious. I can see how you change every name bar Felicity. Felix already exists. So will she be Fred? This is great BTW. I'm now intrigued enough to read the Summerhill school series. Can anyone tell me the actual names of the books?

Author:  roversgirl [ Tue Jan 29, 2008 11:55 pm ]
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Thank you very much - i too am looking fwd to felicity as a male name... :) there are books about summerhill?

Author:  MaryR [ Wed Jan 30, 2008 3:47 pm ]
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Thanks, Ruth! :lol:

Author:  abbeybufo [ Wed Jan 30, 2008 9:43 pm ]
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Still in the 'past' - we are now at the time of Michael's birth - just before Three Go

Madge smiled to herself as she remembered the way she had been able to help Joey at the time of Charles’ arrival without needing to give her actual money – which would have put that lady up in arms on the instant.

Now that Michael had appeared on the scene, the question was even more pressing, for that made six boys in Joey’s family, and with the triplets approaching eight years of age – the age that most boys were sent to a proper prep school – it was time to make a much more definite move towards full co-education than she had hitherto attempted. So far there had been a gradual nudging-up of the top age that the Chalet School accepted day-boys as pupils, which, to her secret relief, had not raised anyone’s suspicions, and the Trips had been enjoying their early schooling in a series of 'mixed infants' classes.

Now she would need both Hilda and Nell on side, and she began to finalise plans that would convince them of the desirability of this change. She had kept in touch with Alexander Neill during the past five years. His school had returned to its proper home in Suffolk – to a house showing considerable damage from its wartime requisition by the Army. He had written to her of the work that had been needed to restore the building to its former glory – and the amount of physical work he had himself done – cleaning, repairs, decorating – to this end. This would be a splendid reason for her to suggest she and her two headmistresses came to visit; to admire the handiwork he had done – and in the process, it would show Hilda and Nell how a co-educational boarding school worked, without them realising, yet, that she was planning to take the Chalet School along this path.

Lady Russell may have been a ‘sweet woman’ to all outward appearances, but most folk tend to forget that a peach has a very hard stone in its centre. Madge was as much a realist as her twin Dick was a romantic and her sister Jo a dreamer. The people she kept up with, other than her own extended family – for whom she was prepared to move mountains – were those she thought might prove useful to her. These acquaintances she tended with the diligence of a vegetable gardener, and with the equal expectation of a good crop at the end of her labours.

So a letter was dispatched to Dominie Neill, and within a very few days his reply was received, including a warm invitation to herself and anyone else she might care to bring, to see over his school. It is possible that she appreciated that Neill, too, could see some benefit for his school from her continued interest in it, but regardless of that possibility, the first part of her plan could now go ahead.

Author:  Elder in Ontario [ Wed Jan 30, 2008 10:06 pm ]
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I love this picture of the tough nut at the core of 'that very sweet woman, Lady Russell' - it really does suit Madge ever-present practical streak to a 'T', doesn't it. I'm sure that she'll need all her wiles to convince Hilda and Nell of the advisability of making the Chalet School co-educational, and will do it with the gentle pressure of water dripping on a stone. It will be interesting to see what the three of them make of the situation and attitudes they find at Summerhill.

Thanks Ruth

Author:  PaulineS [ Wed Jan 30, 2008 10:30 pm ]
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Thanks I hope Hilda spots what Madge is trying to do quickly when they go on the visit.

Author:  Lesley [ Wed Jan 30, 2008 11:19 pm ]
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abbeybufo wrote:
it would show Hilda and Nell how a co-educational boarding school worked, without them realising, yet, that she was planning to take the Chalet School along this path.

And you really think either of them wouldn't realise anyway?

Thanks Ruth, nice to see Madge return to her Tyrol self.

Author:  roversgirl [ Wed Jan 30, 2008 11:28 pm ]
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thank you :) i wonder how much convincing it's going to take...

Author:  Alison H [ Thu Jan 31, 2008 12:46 am ]
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Nice to see the real Madge re-emerging!

Author:  Fiona Mc [ Thu Jan 31, 2008 7:01 am ]
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Thanks. I'm glad to see Madge plotting and scheming from behind the scenes :lol:

Author:  abbeybufo [ Thu Jan 31, 2008 5:28 pm ]
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Thank you for all the encouragement and kind remarks

Hilda Annersley put down the telephone and gazed unseeingly through the French windows of the library which had been her office and sitting-room since the Chalet School had made its home in Plas Howell. Her blue-grey eyes that had never yet needed glasses were at the moment entirely unfocussed while she considered the phone call she had just received.

She gave a sudden exclamation which might have been of impatience or satisfaction, and her eyes snapped into focus as the weak spring sunshine intensified on a clump of golden daffodils. She turned to the telephone again and rang through to Rosalie Dene, an Old Girl of the School who had been her secretary and factotum for a number of years.

“Yes Hilda?” Rosalie answered the call with a smile.

“Rosalie, am I correct in thinking that Nell Wilson has a free period immediately after morning break today, or is my memory failing?”

“When did your memory ever fail?” came the amused response. “Let me just check – yes, Vb Geography before break . . . Free period – no! Double Free period. Her ‘specials’ are providing the entertainment this weekend, so she has allowed them the extra preparation and rehearsal time today. She’s free for the whole second half of the morning.”

“Excellent. Will you send a message inviting her to have coffee with me here at break – and warn her that I may encroach on her free periods as well, please dear?”

And Miss Annersley replaced the handset rather more gently than she had on the previous occasion that morning, and turned again to the view from her windows – which now showed her a group of IVb on their way to a gardening lesson with Miss Everett – though still, it must be said, with a small frown, which had been there since her first telephone conversation of the day, furrowing her normally smooth white brow.

Author:  roversgirl [ Thu Jan 31, 2008 5:34 pm ]
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uh oh, I think she's not so keen on the idea... thanks for the update :)

Author:  Alison H [ Thu Jan 31, 2008 5:50 pm ]
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Hmm ... yes, it's all very well Madge wanting to make radical changes, but she's not the one who'll have to cope with them on a 24/7 basis as Hilda will.

Author:  MaryR [ Thu Jan 31, 2008 6:04 pm ]
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Wonder if Nell will agree with her worries. She obviously sees squalls ahead if she needs to use up all Nell's free time! :twisted: Though I'm left wondering if there was another phone call before Madge's....and what it portends to give her a frown.

Thanks, Ruth

Author:  abbeybufo [ Thu Jan 31, 2008 6:13 pm ]
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And just what makes you all think the first phone call is from Madge? :twisted: :lol:

Author:  Lesley [ Thu Jan 31, 2008 9:47 pm ]
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'White brow' - we're not talking hair here, are we?

Well Hilda should be consulting Nell, anyway - they are Co-Heads at this time.

Thanks Ruth.

Author:  Carys [ Thu Jan 31, 2008 10:11 pm ]
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Habe just caught up on loads of this and am loving it!

I'm intrigued to find out what the male Felicity is called.

Author:  Caroline OSullivan [ Fri Feb 01, 2008 10:42 am ]
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Thanks Ruth :D
Am really intrigued by the whole scenario.
Summerhill sounds as if it's like the MEA's School on North Barrule - maybe she based it on that??

Author:  leahbelle [ Fri Feb 01, 2008 3:30 pm ]
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Thanks, Ruth. This is an intruiging drabble!

Author:  Vick [ Sat Feb 02, 2008 1:39 am ]
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Am intrigued. Thanks abbeybufo

Author:  abbeybufo [ Sat Feb 02, 2008 10:19 am ]
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Carys wrote:
I'm intrigued to find out what the male Felicity is called.

You will know when the time comes :twisted: :twisted:
I intend to 'announce' all the births at the appropriate point in the saga... :lol:
In the mean time . . .

It was a bright chilly day in late March, and Nell Wilson arrived rather windswept for her coffee engagement, as her geography with Vb had been in one of the outhouses adapted for the purpose when the Chalet School had first come to Plas Howell. She strode into the library with a cheerful grin which was immediately suppressed when she saw the unmistakeable signs of an incipient – if not by now full-blown – migraine on the face of her co-head and friend.

Hilda greeted her with a wan smile. ‘I had a phone call this morning.’

‘Oh?’ replied her colleague. ‘Whatever was it to give you such a headache?’

‘That’s not the reason,’ rejoined Hilda grimly. ‘or at least not of itself. It was good news, really.’

‘Joey? Is she all right?’

‘Joey indeed, and she’s fine. Jack rang first thing to give me the news . . .’


‘Another boy. You see what this will mean?’

‘Jo with six boys! I’d laugh if it didn’t affect us so closely.’

‘You do see then? I thought you would get there.’

‘You think they’ll make their move now?’

‘Well, don’t you? There was a hint when the fifth Master Maynard arrived, and you must have noticed that Madge keeps increasing the age at which we accept day-boys. At first it was just the kindergarten, but then it was six and seven-year-olds. Always just keeping ahead of the triplets’ age so it doesn’t look like favouritism – do they think we’re blind, or stupid?’

‘So what do we do? I take it your coffee invitation wasn’t for purely social reasons!’

‘Would that it were . . . I did hope we could manage some time to ourselves. I haven’t had much of your company this term, and you’re off on this educational tour of America for the Easter holidays, so we shan’t have any opportunity to get together then. I think it’s important for us to have our own plans and ideas. I don’t want to be rushed into accepting the first thing Madge puts before us – or for her to have time to present us with a fait acompli – ah! Here’s coffee.’ And Miss Annersley paused to allow the maid to bring in a tray with fresh coffee and Karen’s version of welsh cakes. ‘Thank you Megan; and thank Karen from both of us for the cakes. Now, Nell,’ and she turned with the ghost of a smile, ‘We can get down to business.’

‘Are you fit for this, Hilda? I can see you have at least the beginnings of a migraine,’ rejoined Nell Wilson.

‘It will get worse before it gets better – and it won’t be helped by worry. So let’s decide where we stand – and if indeed we are both in agreement! Then if I have a nap this afternoon I should be well again by Abendessen.’

‘So what is your idea? And what do you think Madge will do, exactly?’

‘Well to my mind she is bound to want to turn us into a co-educational school. And I’m not against that in principle. But I am very concerned at how it might be done; there are right and wrong ways of approaching this, and if Madge continues to go piecemeal at it, rather than having a definite plan, we shall have the worst of all possible worlds, rather than the best. I don’t think Madge has thought it through, other than wanting to let Joey’s boys have a Chalet School education. I want to look at other schools, particularly boarding co-ed schools, and to have seen the best practice, so that when we do it, we do it properly.’ and Miss Annersley sat back with a quizzical look at her friend.

Nell opened and shut her mouth several times. ‘I hadn’t realised you were so far advanced in your thinking,’ she managed finally. ‘I’m left gasping. You are the last person I would have thought would be prepared to turn the Chalet School co-ed!’

‘But why not, my dear? We have always tried to be “advanced” as you put it in our teaching methods, and in our pastoral care for the girls. We would need to show the parents that having boys here as well as girls was a positive move, rather than a pragmatic one, but that is more for Madge to do anyway – she owns the school – she is the one that has to deal with publicity and keeping pupil numbers up. I am more concerned for the welfare of both the girls we have now, and of the boys who will join them. Where do you stand?’

Miss Wilson had been thinking hard. ‘I see what you mean, Hilda, and, for what it’s worth, I’m with you every step of the way. I’ve always felt it was unnatural for girls with brothers to be separated from them at such a young age in their schooling. And even more unnatural for girls without brothers to grow up without knowing boys at all. If they arrive at university thinking boys are an exotic and wonderful discovery, they will get themselves into bad trouble. And if they are shy and don’t know how to talk to them, they will be left lonely for longer than they need. So, what are your immediate plans?’

‘I’ve been in touch with a couple of friends from my training days. You know I had spent a year at a teacher training college after Oxford, in order to be better prepared for my chosen career?’

Nell nodded. ‘I wish I’d done something similar, but it wasn’t easy for us; I had to get earning straight away, so I was plunged in at the deep end. Indeed I don’t think I would have been in such a senior post in any other school – we have a lot to thank Madge for, you know.’

‘Oh yes, I’m not ungrateful for my start here, either. But Madge has enthusiasms. She started the school and worked hard at it; then when she met Jem, she lost interest in it a bit – well you can understand that, she was getting married, having the beginning of her family . . . then came the need for Annexe at the San; that took up some of her mental energies for a while. Later came the Anschlüss, the excitement of the escape from Austria; so all that and the revival of the school in Guernsey rekindled her interest again. More recently there was the move here, and our accident which meant she needed to become more personally involved. Now with all these boys in the family, she is enthusiastic again, and will want to carry us with her. I’m not against her, don’t mistake me. But I will not be carried along willy-nilly on another of her flights of fancy. One of the friends I made at training college, Susan Elder, teaches at Bedales; another, Mary New, is at Summerhill. I’ve written to both of them and asked if we may go to look round before the end of this term. I want to know exactly what is involved – and be able to meet Madge on equal terms.’

‘Equal! Hilda Annersley, you are always at least one step ahead of everyone else.’

And Nell poured them both another coffee, and they settled down to make their plans.

Author:  PaulineS [ Sat Feb 02, 2008 12:46 pm ]
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Wonder what Madge will say when she finds Hilda and Nell have beaten her to arranging a visit to Summerhill. I had not realised Bedales had been co-ed since the 1898.

Interesting they are seeing through Madges stratergy

Author:  Carys [ Sat Feb 02, 2008 12:50 pm ]
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Very interesting to see Hilda and Nell's thoughts on the matter.

Author:  roversgirl [ Sat Feb 02, 2008 12:53 pm ]
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Thanks, nice to see them both on top of it all and ahead of Madge :)

Author:  Lesley [ Sat Feb 02, 2008 1:43 pm ]
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Ah now that's better! :lol: Hilda's migraine though - can understand Nell being protective - imagine that's a holdover from her serious head injury?

Thanks Ruth.

Author:  Róisín [ Sat Feb 02, 2008 2:17 pm ]
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Just read all of this and it's very interesting. I do think your portrait of Madge is even truer than EBD's own. I don't know anything about Summerhill, this is the first time I've heard of it, but I'm looking forward to seeing their methods. Also wondering if Hilda will tell Madge that she and Nell are heading over to Summerhill, and if Madge will be shocked to discover that they've organised their own trip as well as her organising one for them! :lol:

Author:  Alison H [ Sat Feb 02, 2008 3:30 pm ]
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Very interesting take on Madge - and I love the way Hilda and Nell have seen straight through her reasons for considering making the school co-ed.

Wonder if we are about to see a load of male teachers arriving at the school as well :wink: .

Author:  Elder in Ontario [ Sat Feb 02, 2008 4:16 pm ]
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Of course we should have realised that Hilda and Nell would be capable of reading the signs with each successive male child born to Joey and the ever-advancing age to which boys could remain in the school! I think Madge may be in for a big surprise when she finally raises the co-ed issue with them. And trust Hilda to have 'friends at court', too, and be able to make use of those contacts......

Like Pauline, I hadn't realised Bedales was co-ed from such an early date. Am raking my brain to remember when the various co-ed establishments run by the Society of Friends - Ackworth, Wigton, Sibford, and so on were founded and whether they were co-ed from the start - I think they were.

Thanks, Abbeybufo - I'm continuing to enjoy this.

Author:  macyrose [ Sat Feb 02, 2008 7:16 pm ]
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Just wondering - is Susan Elder really Elder in Ontario and Mary New - MaryR from New Dreams?

Author:  abbeybufo [ Sat Feb 02, 2008 8:01 pm ]
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macyrose wrote:
Just wondering - is Susan Elder really Elder in Ontario and Mary New - MaryR from New Dreams?

:lol: :twisted: :lol: :twisted: :lol:

Author:  MaryR [ Sat Feb 02, 2008 8:53 pm ]
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abbeybufo wrote:
macyrose wrote:
Just wondering - is Susan Elder really Elder in Ontario and Mary New - MaryR from New Dreams?

:lol: :twisted: :lol: :twisted: :lol:

Getting our own back for *Ruth Allenby*, are we, then? :mrgreen:

But you told me you liked poetry and drama!! :witch:

Author:  abbeybufo [ Sat Feb 02, 2008 9:36 pm ]
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MaryR wrote:
abbeybufo wrote:
macyrose wrote:
Just wondering - is Susan Elder really Elder in Ontario and Mary New - MaryR from New Dreams?

:lol: :twisted: :lol: :twisted: :lol:

Getting our own back for *Ruth Allenby*, are we, then? :mrgreen:

But you told me you liked poetry and drama!! :witch:

Oh I do, I do...and if I ever get as far as the actual visit to Summerhill you will see just what a good friend of Hilda's 'Mary New' turns out to be :lol: :twisted: :lol:

Author:  MaryR [ Sat Feb 02, 2008 9:45 pm ]
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abbeybufo wrote:
MaryR wrote:
abbeybufo wrote:
macyrose wrote:
Just wondering - is Susan Elder really Elder in Ontario and Mary New - MaryR from New Dreams?

:lol: :twisted: :lol: :twisted: :lol:

Getting our own back for *Ruth Allenby*, are we, then? :mrgreen:

But you told me you liked poetry and drama!! :witch:

Oh I do, I do...and if I ever get as far as the actual visit to Summerhill you will see just what a good friend of Hilda's 'Mary New' turns out to be :lol: :twisted: :lol:

Hmm! Is that a threat :help: or a promise? :lol: :lol:

Author:  abbeybufo [ Sat Feb 02, 2008 9:54 pm ]
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MaryR wrote:
Hmm! Is that a threat :help: or a promise? :lol: :lol:

:twisted: :lol: :twisted: :lol: :twisted: :lol: :twisted: :lol: :twisted:

Author:  Elbee [ Sat Feb 02, 2008 10:12 pm ]
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I just wanted to say how much I'm enjoying this and I'm not at all surprised that Hilda and Nell had sussed out Madge, but it seems a bit insignificant after the last few posts between you two :roll: :lol:

Author:  macyrose [ Sat Feb 02, 2008 10:16 pm ]
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I knew it was Elder and MaryR! :D
What story is Ruth Allenby in, by the way - New Dreams?

Author:  MaryR [ Sat Feb 02, 2008 10:19 pm ]
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macyrose wrote:
I knew it was Elder and MaryR! :D
What story is Ruth Allenby in, by the way - New Dreams?

Yep! In the post before the last one!! :wink:

Author:  Cath V-P [ Sat Feb 02, 2008 10:37 pm ]
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Fascinating to see just what a clear grip Hilda has on the situation and just how she can appreciate both its potential strengths and weaknesses - andf Nell grasped the implications very clearly. They are both very open-minded about the issue as well.

Nice selection of names there! :lol:

Author:  Elder in Ontario [ Sat Feb 02, 2008 11:52 pm ]
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Oops!!!! :lol: :lol: :oops: :oops:

Am now waiting to see just what designs you have on me, Abbeybufo!!!

Author:  Fiona Mc [ Sun Feb 03, 2008 6:47 am ]
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Author:  abbeybufo [ Sun Feb 03, 2008 2:17 pm ]
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Elder in Ontario wrote:
Am now waiting to see just what designs you have on me, Abbeybufo!!!

Just thought you might like to show Hilda and Nell round Bedales, Elder :lol:

Author:  Elder in Ontario [ Sun Feb 03, 2008 7:01 pm ]
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Thanks, I would love to do so, but given what I know about Bedales, apart from its name, and the fact that I *think* is in Surrey, I will definitely need a 'crib sheet'!! I look forward to being educated......!!!! :lol: :lol: :oops:

Author:  PaulineS [ Sun Feb 03, 2008 7:23 pm ]
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Dlder there is a good website on Bedales at

It is were I found details of the co-ed dates.

Author:  Vick [ Sun Feb 03, 2008 10:54 pm ]
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Continue to be intrigued as to how this will pan out.

Thanks abbeybufo :D

Author:  abbeybufo [ Sun Feb 03, 2008 11:04 pm ]
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Vick wrote:
Continue to be intrigued as to how this will pan out.

I wish I knew, Vick, I wish I knew . . . :twisted: :lol: :twisted:

Author:  Róisín [ Mon Feb 04, 2008 12:25 am ]
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More please? :D

Author:  Rosalin [ Mon Feb 04, 2008 7:48 pm ]
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Just read this from the begining. It's very clever.

Thanks Ruth.

Author:  abbeybufo [ Mon Feb 04, 2008 8:56 pm ]
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No more of this itself, at the moment, but a little bit that I've just written from the same universe - called '4th November 1999' - has been posted here. It is so far into the future from this particular thread, that I thought it was better separated out.

ETA there will be more of this - it's just that I haven't written the next bit yet :lol:

Author:  Cath V-P [ Tue Feb 05, 2008 2:15 am ]
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there will be more of this - it's just that I haven't written the next bit yet

I know exactly what you mean!! :lol:

Author:  Miss Di [ Tue Feb 05, 2008 4:15 am ]
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And I look forward to reading it when you do write it abbeybufo!
A great twist.

Author:  abbeybufo [ Fri Feb 08, 2008 5:42 pm ]
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Well, we're on the way to Bedales, at least, but the journey seemed to want to turn out to be an interesting one, so I hope you'll forgive the literary diversions. I haven't got them halfway to their destination yet, but as I'll be away myself this weekend, thought you might like at least to start the journey with Hilda and Nell.

The trip to Bedales was more easily accomplished than that to Summerhill for two reasons. Susan had written immediately to Hilda to suggest a date for her to make her visit; in addition, Bedales was closer to Armiford than Summerhills, and relatively easily reached by train. Susan had agreed to meet them at Petersfield station, advised that rather than cross London, they either go from Newport to Bristol, and then via Reading and Guildford, or stay on the train at Bristol, which would take them via Salisbury and Fratton, and would give a longer middle section of the journey to relax in, and only a short trip up from Fratton, which is on the outskirts of Portsmouth. Either route would take four or five hours, so she also arranged for Hilda and Nell to stay at the school overnight, suggesting they come on a Thursday afternoon, and return after lunch on the Friday, giving them a late afternoon and evening, and then a full morning, to see all round the school and view its operations.

“Though I would expect no less of Susan”, remarked Hilda as she settled into her seat at Newport. The train was crowded but the two co-heads had managed to secure seats together. They had managed a quick lunch in the station buffet at Newport and had the whole afternoon before them to travel through Gloucestershire, Somerset, Wiltshire and Hampshire. “She was always both efficient and hospitable. She said she thought we would find the place ‘interesting’. I am certainly looking forward to seeing how they organise things. They have been co-ed since 1898, you know.”

“Hmm. You said.” Nell was watching the countryside rush past. “We should be going under the Severn Tunnel in one minute or less – yes, here we go!” and they were plunged into darkness, although after a few seconds the flickering carriage lights came on and they were able to make each other’s faces out again, though the books they had brought to read would have to wait until they had returned to daylight.

“I don’t know Gloucestershire very well,” remarked Hilda.

“No, nor do I. Bristol as a port and its history I can give a lesson on – but apart from Gloucester Cathedral which we don’t get within sight of, and its links to Beatrix Potter – and the River Severn itself, which again naturally I could lecture on, it isn’t an area I’ve spent any amount of time in. I’ll be able to tell you more about Wiltshire and Hampshire, though, if you’re interested?”

The Tailor of Gloucester, of course. ‘No more twist!’” Hilda grinned. “I loved that book as a child. Still do, though I haven’t seen a copy for a while. All the old traditional rhymes. And Potter’s mice! Even though I know that house mice are incontinent creatures, and I would send for Eugen – or Minette! – to deal with any signs in my quarters, I cannot help loving the eighteenth-century dresses and jackets she drew. They make the mice look entirely civilised. Did you know that the Victoria and Albert Museum have the exact jacket and waistcoat that the ‘Tailor’ was supposed to be making?”

“I’m not as literate as you, Hilda,” responded Nell. “Even in my childhood reading I hadn’t the breadth that you have. But the little Potter books were always a favourite. And I had the advantage of revisiting them when I read them to Cherry.” and she lapsed into silence at the thought of her now dead younger sister.

Hilda responded with a sympathetic smile. Nell didn’t often talk about her sister; her death, and that of her parents, was still a painful memory. The two turned to their books and did not speak again until the train had passed through Bristol and was drawing into Bath Spa station. Here, the beauty of the Bath stone terraces visible on the opposite hill in the afternoon sunshine drew a muted exclamation from Hilda, and a satisfied sigh from Nell, who had seen them before, and restrained herself from waxing lyrical about the golden stone and the underlying geology of the hot springs, in order to allow Hilda to reminisce about Northanger Abbey and its setting in the Assembly Rooms of Bath, and her expressions of regret that they would not be passing through Winchester, where Jane Austen is buried. “But we will,” noted Hilda, “be quite close to Chawton while we are at Bedales – it is only a few miles from Petersfield. I wonder if there will be time before we catch our train back to have a quick look at the house she lived in for so long?”

“We can make time if you would like it,” replied Nell. “As we aren’t on duty this weekend – since you managed to manipulate the timetables so expertly to allow both of us to be away for these two days – we could stay in the area an extra night. There’s bound to be somewhere in Petersfield itself if the school can’t keep us until Saturday.”

“That’s a good thought. We’ll speak to Susan as soon as we arrive. I’m sure she’ll know where we can go, if we have to move out after tonight, and someone may even be able to loan us a car to go to Winchester; it’s only about 20 miles from Petersfield. Of course,” she continued musingly, “the whole area is full of literary associations. Steep is just outside Petersfield.”

“Steep? Sounds like a hill!”

“Well the village is set on a hillside. It’s where Edward Thomas lived.”

“Should I know Edward Thomas?”

“Probably not; he’s a poet who died in the Great War. He didn’t become a poet until nearly the end of his life. He wrote this about Steep – I think when he was on the Western Front:

    'When first I came here I had hope,
    Hope for I knew not what. Fast beat
    My heart at sight of the tall slope
    Of grass and yews, as if my feet

    Only by scaling its steps of chalk
    Would see something no other hill
    Ever disclosed. And now I walk
    Down it the last time. Never will

    My heart beat so again at sight
    Of any hill although so fair
    And loftier. For infinite
    The change, late unperceived, this year,

    The twelfth, suddenly, shows me plain.
    Hope now, – not health, nor cheerfulness,
    Since they can come and go again,
    As often one brief hour witnesses, –

    Just hope has gone for ever. Perhaps
    I may love other hills yet more
    Than this: the future and the maps
    Hide something I was waiting for.

    One thing I know, that love with chance
    And use and time and necessity
    Will grow, and louder the heart’s dance
    At parting than at meeting be.' ”

Hilda’s beautiful voice, pitched low so only Nell and a very few other passengers sitting close by could hear, died away and she sat quietly for a moment. But Nell was intrigued “What more can you tell me about him. That’s powerful stuff!”

“He was great friends with Robert Frost – who told him he was really a poet; he had written descriptive prose for a number of years – and Eleanor Farjeon.”

“Isn’t that the Morning has Broken woman?”

“Yes, though that is not the best of her poems. She knew him for the last four years of his life, and loved him, though I don’t think he fully understood the depth of her feelings for him. Or perhaps he did. She was certainly friends with his wife Helen as well, though Helen doesn’t mention her; she talks about Helen in her book about Edward.”


“To some extent. There was a group of them, Eleanor’s brother Herbert was another member. They were friendly with the Bloomsbury Set, too, in that some people were on the fringes of both groups, but I don’t think they were as much in and out of each other’s beds as the Bloomsburies.”

“You shock me!”

“I meant to. Nell, dear, just because I keep a ‘headmistress’ aura around me at work, you of all people should know that I am a human being underneath. And when I get a chance like this – between ‘official’ parts of my life, able to relax with a true friend – can you blame me for taking it with both hands?”

Nell returned her gaze with her own eyes nearly brimming. “You are my own good and true friend, too,” she said, and Hilda realised she had, as she had hoped, made some recompense for the sadness Nell still felt at the loss of Cherry.


Author:  abbeygirl [ Fri Feb 08, 2008 5:57 pm ]
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Glad to see you managed it! That was well worth the wait Ruth. I like the relationship between the two - and the trip was very educational!

Author:  Lesley [ Fri Feb 08, 2008 6:03 pm ]
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Ahhh lovely - and so in character for them both to wax lyrical about their own subjects.

Thanks Ruth.

Author:  Elder in Ontario [ Fri Feb 08, 2008 6:38 pm ]
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All right, so I had Bedales located in the wrong county - I was *only* guessing!!! :oops: :oops: :lol:

I'm loving this journey, which is taking me vicariously through parts of England which I've visited briefly or travelled through, but never had chance to spend long in (and yes, I *do* know I shouldn't end a sentence with a preposition, Hilda!!!) I am also loving the way they both expound on their own particular subjects en route, and the way Hilda gently sought to turn Nell's memory of her bereavements as she did.

Thanks, Ruth, I shall re-read this again over the weekend, and look forward to their safe arrival at Bedales in due course.

Author:  roversgirl [ Fri Feb 08, 2008 7:09 pm ]
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That was so lovely and educational. thank you :)

Author:  MaryR [ Fri Feb 08, 2008 8:36 pm ]
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Been taking lessons, Ruth? :lol: Loved the poem.

Interesting journey, both mentally and physically, for them.

Thank you.

Author:  abbeybufo [ Fri Feb 08, 2008 9:55 pm ]
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MaryR wrote:
Been taking lessons, Ruth? :lol:

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery :wink: . . . I hope I have my own style [as well as trying to 'chime' with EBD's], but I probably would not have considered including the literary 'distractions' had it not been for my [and everyone else's!] great enjoyment of the wealth of quotations in ND, so in that sense yes - definitely been taking lessons - from a very good teacher! :lol: :twisted: :lol:

Author:  MaryR [ Fri Feb 08, 2008 10:34 pm ]
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Aw, shucks, Ruth. :oops: Thank you.

You definitely have your own style, and it is much nearer EBD's than mine is, I assure you. :lol:

Author:  Cath V-P [ Sat Feb 09, 2008 2:45 am ]
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I so enjoyed that Ruth - I discovered Edward Thomas when I was in Sixth Form, and then read Eleanor Farjeon's account of him. I didn't grasp the subtleties or interlinkings then of course, but I do revisit at intervals,so thank you for this.

I loved the way Hilda and Nell both share their subjects with one another as a way of sharing their friendship, and Hilda's reaching out to Nell when she sees her sadness was so typical.

“Though I would expect no less of Susan”, remarked Hilda .... “She was always both efficient and hospitable.
Just so! :lol:

Author:  Carys [ Sat Feb 09, 2008 10:08 am ]
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Loved the publicity you gave the Beatrix Potter collections at the V&A! :D

Author:  Róisín [ Sat Feb 09, 2008 3:31 pm ]
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A most excellent entry, I'm so glad I'm keeping up with this. Your portrayal of the relationship between Hilda and Nell reminds me of how Lesley did it in HAH (a way I really liked). Plus, now I am going to have to download and watch the Miss Potter movie again :lol: Thank you.

Author:  PaulineS [ Sat Feb 09, 2008 10:58 pm ]
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Thanks Ruth

Author:  Vick [ Sat Feb 09, 2008 11:47 pm ]
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Lovely, thanks abbeybufo :D

Author:  abbeybufo [ Sun Feb 10, 2008 5:18 pm ]
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Sorry this train trip is taking so long, but there's quite a bit to say on it, so I thought you'd better have the next section, as it breaks quite well here.

In a crowded railway carriage, no more could be said, and neither woman was predisposed to public displays of affection, so both retreated to their respective reading matter for a while. The next excitement was a muffled exclamation of pleasure from Nell, as she caught sight of a distant landmark, “They’ve uncovered the horse!”

This remark, as Hilda drily suggested, needed further explanation, which Nell was only to pleased to give. “The ‘Westbury White Horse’ is one of a number of hill figures, mainly but not exclusively horses. Most are cut into chalk hillsides, so are often called ‘white’ whatever, though there is a ‘Red Horse’ at Tysoe in Warwickshire.”

“I am aware of hill figures, Nell,” returned Hilda. “I believe that the ‘Uffington White Horse’ in Berkshire is thought to be one of the oldest, and may even be the depiction of the dragon St George killed rather than a horse. I also know about the military badges that were cut into the hillside at Fovant Down during the Great War. I did not know that we should be passing a white horse on our journey, but it is evident that you did. So, why the exclamation?”

“All the hill figures were covered or dirtied when the last War broke out. Once it became apparent that there would be enemy planes flying over, such landmarks as these, that would be visible from the air had to be disguised. Some had fake bushes or copses planted over them for camouflage, others had turf laid into the chalk grooves. Naturally uncovering them hasn’t exactly been a priority, and the last time I was hereabouts this one was still covered. Now it has been cleaned.” And the two women gazed out of the left-hand carriage window at the horse which showed plainly in the afternoon sunshine, just below the ridge of the chalk spur on which it had been cut.

The horse remained visible, occasionally obscured by houses, trees and a cement factory, for a number of miles, as the railway skirted the line of chalk hills, then it fell out of sight behind them and they approached Warminster. The carriage was emptier now, as several people had left at Trowbridge, the county town, and a number of soldiers returning to Warminster camp now began to pull their kitbags down from the racks and make themselves ready to get off.

One young man, who had been in the seat opposite Hilda and Nell when they had joined the train, turned back as he was about to move towards the door. “Thank you for the poem,” he said, looking at Hilda. “I know Edward Thomas’s ‘Sowing’ but I didn’t know that one. And thank you,” turning to Nell, “for telling about the White Horse. I’ve been seeing it as I’ve come back to camp from each leave since last autumn, but I didn’t know it was older than that. How old is it, think you?”

His voice was gentle, and faintly Welsh, and both women smiled at him. “There are records of a horse at Westbury since at least the 1780s,” stated Nell. “I met a man in Pewsey before the War who was doing a detailed study of them. He was hoping it would be published eventually. Marples, his name was.”

“Thanks. I’ll look out for that. I’m being demobbed in a few months,” he changed the subject abruptly. “I was training for a teacher before the War: English and Geography. I’ve another year to do. Are you two teachers?”

Both women nodded “Our school is near Armiford,” said Hilda. “The Chalet School. It has been girls only up until now, but there is the possibility of its becoming co-educational at some time soon. We may be advertising for more teachers by the time you finish your training.”

The young man went slightly pink. “You’re the headmistress, aren’t you?” he accused. Hilda inclined her head. “Well, if you ever get an application from Edward Thomas, don’t think it’s the poet!” and with that parting shot he swung his kitbag onto his shoulder and made for the door, just as the train drew into Warminster station.

Hill Figures

Author:  Alison H [ Sun Feb 10, 2008 6:14 pm ]
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I don't know Wiltshire at all so am finding the train journey very interesting :D .

Author:  Elder in Ontario [ Sun Feb 10, 2008 6:36 pm ]
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I'm another one enjoying this train trip - I travelled through parts of Wiltshire a couple of times - though not quite so early as the period in which this tale is set.

My personal 'White Horse' is the one at Kilburn in North Yorkshire. I saw it frequently in the 1950s and am always delighted by any chance glimpse of it whenever I'm in the area. I'd forgotten that those landmarks were 'dirtied out' during the war, though now you've mentioned it, I do remember having been told about it.

And I loved the soldier appreciating Hilda's quoting of Edward Thomas' poem - and his parting shot to her, too - a hint for the future?

Thanks, Abbeybufo.

Author:  Rosalin [ Sun Feb 10, 2008 7:27 pm ]
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I thought "will we see him again?" as soon as he said that he is a teacher.

Education and entertainment. Thanks Ruth.

Author:  roversgirl [ Sun Feb 10, 2008 7:44 pm ]
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ditto to everything already said! thanks :)

Author:  Elbee [ Sun Feb 10, 2008 9:54 pm ]
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I'm sure we will be seeing him again!

Thanks, Abbeybufo.

Author:  Lesley [ Sun Feb 10, 2008 10:23 pm ]
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English and Geography eh? Now that will endear him to both of them! :lol:

Thanks Ruth.

Author:  PaulineS [ Mon Feb 11, 2008 5:55 pm ]
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Like Elder my White Horse is the Kilburn one, though I know the White Horse Vale as well as I have contact with the Community of sisters at Wantage.

Author:  MaryR [ Mon Feb 11, 2008 6:16 pm ]
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Thank you, Ruth.

Author:  patmac [ Mon Feb 11, 2008 7:57 pm ]
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I've just read this from the beginning and it's very enjoyable. I love the twist of Jo's children being all boys and how you've slipped them into the canon so well.

The Chalet School going co-ed! Great idea.

Author:  Cath V-P [ Tue Feb 12, 2008 5:22 am ]
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This has turned into a fascinating journey. Thank you Ruth, especially for the information on the various White Horses.

Author:  leahbelle [ Tue Feb 12, 2008 11:19 am ]
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Thank you, Ruth. I've really enjoyed this journey!

Author:  Miss Di [ Wed Feb 13, 2008 3:52 am ]
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Cath V-P wrote:
This has turned into a fascinating journey. Thank you Ruth, especially for the information on the various White Horses.

wot she said :lol:

Author:  abbeybufo [ Wed Feb 13, 2008 10:44 pm ]
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Here is the rest of the train journey - they are not quite at Bedales, yet :twisted:
I have put some links to information on some of the places mentioned in this post, and gone back to the previous two posts & added a couple there as well . . .

There was very little in the way of scenery to look at between Warminster and Salisbury, as the line is enclosed for most of that stretch by the steep chalk hills that mark the edge of Salisbury Plain, so after an exchange of grins at Edward Thomas’s insouciance, Hilda and Nell continued their reading. The last mile or so into Salisbury is more open country, which Nell knew was the approach to the city, so she was able to ensure that Hilda had a good view of the famous spire of Salisbury Cathedral to their right as they approached the station.

“I’m sure you know as much about the cathedral and city as I do, if not more,” she said with mock deference.

“I suspect we each know equal amounts,” returned her friend, “but the substance of what we know probably differs considerably!”

“True. I can do: height of spire (at 404 feet the tallest in the British Isles), the integrity of its architecture; all bar the spire was built within fifty years of the foundation, the oldest working clock movement in Europe, the Wiltshire Avon and its water meadows, the medieval layout of the city as a thirteenth-century ‘planned town’ – ” she paused for breath . . .

“Whilst I can contribute: the ‘original’ for Trollope’s Barchester (although The Warden, the first book in that series, is based on a scandal at the St Cross Almshouses near Winchester), Constable’s painting of the cathedral from the water meadows you mention, the Sarum Rite, the Sarum copy of Magna Carta in the cathedral library, the frieze of Bible stories in the Chapter House, Old Sarum to the north of the city (a ‘rotten borough’ before the Electoral Reform Act of 1832) where the city was originally founded – ”

“ – and which boasted a castle and a Norman cathedral within the earthworks of a Neolithic camp, the foundations of both of which may still be seen today!” finished Nell, and the two laughed together at the jumble of facts they had produced between them.

From Salisbury the train passed through more chalk countryside and into the valley of the River Test (“Salmon and trout fishing, watercress,” murmured Nell) towards Romsey. Here Hilda told the legend of the illuminated hand of Ethelflaeda, the saint and co-dedicatee (with St Mary the Blessed Virgin) of the Abbey, and of the two Saxon roods there, one inside and one now on the outside of the building, although it would originally have been within the cloister walk of the Saxon abbey. “The townspeople were allowed to buy the church for £100,” she said, “because the north aisle of the abbey had been used as the parish church. They still have the deed from Henry VIII on show.”

Southampton, with its ocean liner port now beginning to get busy again after the wartime restrictions on sea travel, occasioned some comment from Nell, who told of the vast city walls which had once been sea walls as well, the medieval Bargate, the Viking raids of 981, and the more recent air raid damage.

Another half-hour saw them gathering their bags and coats as the train approached Fratton, and the Petersfield train was due at the same platform in ten minutes, so they had an easy connection. And so, at around half past four in the afternoon, the two headmistresses stood at the entrance to Petersfield station scanning the cars and people for the person who should be meeting them.

Salisbury & Old Sarum
Constable's painting of Salisbury cathedral
Romsey Abbey

Author:  roversgirl [ Wed Feb 13, 2008 10:48 pm ]
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Thank you :) am eargerly awaiting their first impressions of Bedales.

Author:  Lesley [ Wed Feb 13, 2008 11:49 pm ]
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Thanks Ruth

Author:  Cath V-P [ Thu Feb 14, 2008 12:12 am ]
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I love the way their knowledges complement one another!
Thank you Ruth.

Author:  Miss Di [ Thu Feb 14, 2008 3:17 am ]
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All I know about Salisbury I learned from Edward Rutherford.

Thanks for the frequent updates.

Author:  Rosalin [ Sat Feb 16, 2008 2:54 pm ]
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This is really interesting.

Thanks Ruth.

Author:  MaryR [ Sun Feb 17, 2008 9:06 pm ]
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“I suspect we each know equal amounts,” returned her friend, “but the substance of what we know probably differs considerably!”

The story of what keeps their friendship fresh!! :lol:

Thanks, Ruth.

Author:  Tara [ Mon Feb 18, 2008 12:43 am ]
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I've now been able to read the rest of this, and find that you've added to the original clever idea a 'reading' of Hilda and Nell that I really like. I love the way they're sharing their different enthusiasms and areas of knowledge, and their care for each other shines out even in these brief exchanges.
I wonder what the revamped school will be like ... and will we see Edward Thomas again ...

Thanks, Ruth, looking forward to more.

Author:  abbeybufo [ Mon Feb 18, 2008 9:39 pm ]
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Tara wrote:
I find that you've added . . . a 'reading' of Hilda and Nell that I really like. I love the way they're sharing their different enthusiasms and areas of knowledge, and their care for each other shines out even in these brief exchanges.

Hilda and Nell seem to write themselves, don’t they . . . maybe I’ll take them on some more educational trips in a separate drabble one day, if people would like. We still have their journey to Summerhill to look forward to . . . :wink:

Meanwhile they (and we!) have arrived at Petersfield station and are wondering why there’s no sign of Susan :shock:

Nell looked at Hilda who was still surveying the car park. “So much for efficiency — ” she began, but before the word was completed a small brisk woman with very short, greying hair, detached herself from what had appeared to be a family group a few yards away, “Hilda! How good to see you again!”

Hilda needed a second look, “Susan? What happened to your hair? I didn’t recognise you at all from the back! Last time I saw you, you had dark brown hair nearly to your waist. Not that I expected you to be wearing it loose, of course — you never did, but you made such a full chignon of it that I was looking for you with hair like that . . . ”

“In the meantime, if you’ll stop making personal remarks to your friend and just introduce us — ” Nell broke in on the tirade and Hilda had the grace to go pink.

“I’m sorry Susan – and Nell, too,” she apologised. “Susan, this is my co-head, Helena Wilson. Nell, this is Susan Elder with whom I was at college — it must be nearly twenty years since we last met, Susan?”

Nell and Susan shook hands and Susan turned to the group she had just left. “I brought some of the school to meet you,” she laughed. “Robert Welch, our chemistry master, and a couple of the pupils who weren’t busy today. We have the school minibus parked in the square,” she answered the unspoken query as to how all of them, Hilda and Nell included, would get themselves to the school, “so I thought if Robert and Josh carried your bags, you might enjoy a bit of fresh air after the journey, and you could see a little of the town.”

This idea met with approval and enthusiasm from the two co-heads, so Josh, a slight dark lad of about 14 or 15 with an insouciant grin, and Robert, a tall, grave-faced, grey-haired man, seized their suitcases and the party walked out of the station yard towards the town square. As they turned out of Station Road into Lavant Street, Nell turned to the other pupil, a dark-haired, brown-eyed girl of perhaps 16 or 17, whom Susan had introduced as Lorraine. “How long have you been at Bedales?” she asked. “And if it isn’t too inquisitive of me to ask, have you been to any other school before?”

Lorraine had no objection to the question, and before long was telling of the forces’ boarding school she had attended until she was 15. “I’ve been here nearly two years now,” she concluded, “and it’s so much more like real life!”

“In what way, particularly?”

“All sorts of things. Not just the obvious thing of having boys around — although that does get some people going, and was a bit exciting at first, but we know we work for a purpose. We aren’t forced to do things, we make our own decisions whether to work or not – and if we want to swot, or to do practical things. Our founder, John Haden Badley, called the idea ‘Head, hand and heart’ — he said we had to want to do things. So if people want to go and work on the farm, or in the bakehouse, that’s what they do.”

“And is that what you do?”

“Oh no, I’m taking the academic route – I enjoy things like physics and chemistry, you see. My friends — some of them anyway — think I’m cracked, but I enjoy knowing how things work – down to how the universe works, at the atomic and the galactic level. Don’t you think that’s fascinating?” And Nell, having found a young lady after her own heart, had to agree that she did.

Meanwhile Hilda, having caught up a little with Susan’s news, turned to Josh, who was carrying her suitcase, and asked him a similar set of questions. Here was an entirely different character — he had few academic leanings, but was a keen gardener, spending as much time as he could in the grounds and on the farm. He was a great reader, she discovered, despite this apparent disinterest in ‘school subjects’, and could match her quote for quote with Edward Thomas, who was by way of being one of his heroes. Hilda then realised just how close the school was to the village of Steep itself, as Josh volunteered to take her to see the cottage that the Thomas family had rented on the morrow.

By this time they had traversed Swan Street and The Square, with its statue of William III on horseback, was before them. Robert, who seemed not to be given to light conversation, strode ahead and was unlocking the ‘minibus’, a converted army ambulance with bench seats sideways on in the back. “There’s room for both of you up front,” he stated briefly. “You’ll see what scenery there is that way.”

As Susan and the two youngsters had already stowed themselves and Hilda and Nell’s cases in the back, those two worthies climbed into the front of the ‘van’ and found it was indeed quite roomy, as a bench seat went right across the cab, and gears and handbrake were mounted horizontally from the dashboard.

“Hold very tight, now! Ting Ting!” came the voice of the irrepressible Josh as Robert reversed from their parking space, and set out along Sheep Street towards The Spain. Soon they were on Frenchman’s Road, and within ten minutes were drawing up in front of Bedales School itself.


Author:  MaryR [ Mon Feb 18, 2008 9:46 pm ]
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Hilda and Nell seem to write themselves, don’t they

Oh, yes! :lol: And some of us seem to help them do it endlessly. :lol: :twisted:

Loved the way they each found a fan of their own particular passions. :wink:

Thanks, Ruth.

Author:  Elder in Ontario [ Mon Feb 18, 2008 10:27 pm ]
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I loved the way Susan arranged that Hilda and Nell's introduction to life at Bedales would come even before they arrived at the school - and how each found themselves 'paired' with a pupil with similar interests to their own, too.

I'm looking forward to seeing the visit to the school itself.

Thanks, Abbeybufo.

Author:  Lesley [ Mon Feb 18, 2008 10:59 pm ]
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Hilda and Nell seem to write themselves, don’t they

Would agree to that! :lol:

Lovely Ruth - like the contrasts with the CS.

Author:  PaulineS [ Mon Feb 18, 2008 11:38 pm ]
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Thank you for further insights into Bedales life.

Author:  Travellers Joy [ Mon Feb 18, 2008 11:48 pm ]
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Author:  Cath V-P [ Tue Feb 19, 2008 3:17 am ]
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Sometimes the problem can be stopping them from writing themselves! :D

I enjoyed that Ruth, especially the explanation behind the philosophy, and the interaction between the pupils and Hilda and Nell. Susan is definitely efficient.

Author:  abbeybufo [ Tue Feb 19, 2008 5:50 pm ]
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Cath V-P wrote:
Sometimes the problem can be stopping them from writing themselves! :D

Yes, I have to keep reminding myself what this drabble is meant to be about :shock: :lol:

Author:  Vick [ Tue Feb 19, 2008 11:13 pm ]
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Just caught up on this and continuing to enjoy it.

Thanks abbeybufo :D

Author:  abbeybufo [ Wed Feb 20, 2008 10:41 pm ]
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Thanks for all the kind remarks and encouragement. Another little bit tonight, which will probably the last before I go away for the weekend. [I am taking pencil and paper with me, BTW :lol: ]. Hilda and Nell have just arrived at Bedales.

“I hope you don’t mind sharing a room?” Susan was showing Hilda and Nell into a large sunny room with blue-sprigged curtains and bedcovers. There were basket chairs by a big window, and a door through which she indicated the bathroom. “Most of the time, this is used if parents, or prospective parents, need to stay over. It’s quite private along this corridor.”

Nell’s cry of “How lovely!” was more for the view than the room itself, though Hilda noted the good taste in the furnishings and hangings, and assured Susan that they were quite happy to share.

Josh and Robert deposited the suitcases, and Susan left with the suggestion that they might like to remove the grime of their journey and added that she would send someone to fetch them for supper at about 7 p.m.

“Do we look that dreadful?” grinned Nell. “You certainly have a smut on your cheek from the train. Toss for first go in the bathroom. . . ” and she fished in her bag for a penny.

“Why don’t you just go and deal with your own grubby face first?” responded Hilda, who had long suspected that the coin Nell used for such challenges was a double-headed one. “I’ll be glad just to sit for a while and enjoy the view.” At the look of disappointment on Nell’s face she softened the blow, “Even if I’d won the toss, I am still too tired to do anything else yet but sit quietly, so I’d have given you first go in any case. I’m sure you need a bath far more than I.”

“It’s a wonder anyone took us for civilised beings, then,” retorted Nell, “if I look worse than you do.” with which Parthian shot she grabbed her spongebag and dressing gown, and strode into the bathroom, whence sounds of running water were soon heard.


Later, when both were freshly bathed and clad in suitable evening wear for school supper, the two headmistresses sat looking out at the sunset.

“Susan says this room is available tomorrow night as well.” Hilda remarked after a period of silent contemplation of the curve of the downs, darkening against the orange sky. “Josh will be able to take us to Edward Thomas’s cottage on Saturday morning, and Robert has to go to Winchester tomorrow afternoon to pick up some prospectuses from the printers, so if we want a lift he can leave us for an hour or two to look round the city, and he’ll meet us again to bring us back here for the evening. Of course, if you’d rather not be dragged round the cathedral . . .”

“If you’re going, I’m coming too!” declared Nell. You’ll make it all sound interesting even though I don’t myself much care for Jane Austen . . .”


“Well I don’t purport to be an English teacher — ” but before they could continue this good-hearted banter, there came a knock at the door, and Lorraine put her head round it, to invite them to come down for supper.

Author:  Lesley [ Wed Feb 20, 2008 11:02 pm ]
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Two-headed coin - wonder where that came from! :wink:

Thanks Ruth.

Author:  abbeybufo [ Wed Feb 20, 2008 11:12 pm ]
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Lesley wrote:
Two-headed coin - wonder where that came from! :wink:

Thanks Ruth.

Sorry, yes, should have acknowledged that . . . :oops:
Thanks for the idea, Lesley - it fitted rather well there :lol:

Author:  Elder in Ontario [ Wed Feb 20, 2008 11:13 pm ]
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Clearly neither Hilda nor Nell thought of following Joey Maynard's example when travelling by train with her children and carrying damp flannels and towels in order to remove the worst of the smuts before arrival! I think I'm glad the era of coal-fired trains is largely ended! But I loved the banter between the two of them - it certainly sounds as if they will be able to make the most of their time both in the school and in the area.

Thanks, Abbeybufo - have a great weekend and we'll be waiting patiently for more when you get back! :lol: :lol:

Author:  PaulineS [ Wed Feb 20, 2008 11:34 pm ]
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Thanks Ruth I am enjoying this.

Author:  MaryR [ Thu Feb 21, 2008 9:46 pm ]
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Nell? A heretic? Surely not, and she a good Catholic!! :lol:

Here's hoping they enjoy the evening - and I won't even inquire about the menu, or anything else, Ruth! :lol: Unlike some people I could mention :twisted:

Author:  abbeybufo [ Thu Feb 21, 2008 11:07 pm ]
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Off for the weekend early tomorrow, but thought we needed a little reminder of what's happening back at Howellls.

Assorted telephone conversations:

“Oh, hello, Madge”

“Rosalie? What’s the matter?”

“Nothing. How are you? When can we come and see Joey and her latest addition?”

“She’ll be pleased to have visitors soon, I think. Rosalie, dear, can you put me through to Hilda?”

“Sorry Madge, Hilda’s away for the weekend.”

“Well, Nell, then.”

“ . . . She’s away, too. They’re in Hampshire.”

“Oh. Well, when are they back?”

“I’m not entirely sure. Originally they were saying Friday or Saturday, but now it mayn’t be until Sunday.”

“Just tell Hilda I rang, then, dear, and I’ll try again on Monday — I assume Hilda will be back then?” with a touch of asperity.

“As far as I know. She is timetabled to teach for the second period.”

“I’ll ring early, then. Goodbye”




“Hello Madge! Why are you ringing rather than coming round? What was Hilda’s reaction?”

“Hilda’s away for the weekend.”

“Well, Nell’s, then?”

“Apparently she’s away, too. I’m told they’re in Hampshire.”

“Oh. Well, when are they back?”

“That was my next question to Rosalie. Probably Sunday.”

“We’ll just have to wait until Monday, then.”




“Hello Jem. I’ll be back at work on Monday — Jo’s pretty well now, and I can happily leave her with just Anna. D’you want me to bring Madge up with me for a day or so?”

“It’s Madge I want to talk about. Do you know what she and Joey are up to?”

“Up to?”

“I’m sure there’s something. I wondered if you’d noticed.”

“I’ve been too full of our number six to really notice anything else. And I haven’t been there much when Madge has been round – thought I’d give her a clear field, as it were.”

“Hmm. Well, we’ll talk again when you get back here. See if Madge wants a lift with you. It will save on the petrol ration. But I have a feeling she wants to call in on the school before she comes up here again.”


“Mr Neill? Alex?”

“My dear Lady Russell — Madge! When are you coming to see us?”

“Not as soon as I’d hoped. The people I want to bring are away this weekend, so I can’t make plans with them just yet — and I’m not sure how soon they’ll be able to get away again.”

“That’s a pity. One of my staff tells me that she’s heard from an ex-college chum of hers who is based somewhere near you, and who has expressed a wish to come and visit. I thought perhaps you could get in touch with whoever it is and share transport — save a bit on the old petrol ration?”

“Really? That’s very interesting. I’ll have to find out more. Did your staff member give a name?”

“I can’t remember it if she did. I’ll talk to Mary again and get back to you.”

“Thank you. I’ll look forward to hearing.”

Author:  Elder in Ontario [ Thu Feb 21, 2008 11:15 pm ]
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All very intriguing little snippets - thanks for those, Ruth.

Enjoy your Dancing weekend.

Author:  Lesley [ Thu Feb 21, 2008 11:58 pm ]
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How annoying for Madge - still if she'd thought to let her Staff know her plans then she's not be disappointed! Wonder if they'll discover they went to the same place?

Thanks Ruth.

Author:  Cath V-P [ Fri Feb 22, 2008 7:35 am ]
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Ooh, intriguing! I loved Jem and Jack's 'they're up to something...' exchange.

Author:  JackieP [ Fri Feb 22, 2008 2:05 pm ]
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I like that last conversation, 'cause you know Mary's college friend is Hilda or Nell.... :lol:



Author:  PaulineS [ Fri Feb 22, 2008 2:20 pm ]
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I wonder what Madge's reponse will be when she discovers Hilda wants to see Summerhill off her own bat, and has already visited Bedales. I wonde in Madge knows any thing about Bedales?

Author:  leahbelle [ Fri Feb 22, 2008 5:38 pm ]
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Thanks, Ruth. Have a great weekend.

Author:  Vick [ Sun Feb 24, 2008 10:35 pm ]
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Lovely. Thanks abbeybufo :D

Author:  abbeybufo [ Sun Feb 24, 2008 10:37 pm ]
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Back from Worthing - very stiff (and exhausted :shock: ) but folk dancing is always a joy. I even did some rapper :D But mainly country with a bit of running set, for those who know what that means. I didn't have a lot of time - certainly not as much as I'd thought I might - to add to this, but here's another snippet.

A few letters written while Hilda and Nell are away . . .

Friday p.m.

Just a note to let you know that Madge will be phoning early on Monday. She sounded quite put out yesterday that neither you nor Nell were here. I’m going to visit Joey on Sunday afternoon to see her latest, so I’ll let you have all her news first thing on Monday – but in case Madge rings before I get in, I thought you should know that she’s intending to.


* * *


I’m sending this with Jack. I want your support in some changes I’m considering at the School. Will you talk to Jack please — I think it would be better man-to-man — I’ve already spoken to Joey, and I’m writing to Dick as well. But I think Hilda and Nell may be difficult, and I want the weight of the whole family, as major shareholders, behind me if I need to insist.

You know as well as I do that Jack and Joey aren’t as well off as we are — don’t say that to Jack, of course — but with 6 boys to educate things won’t be easy for them — or at least they won’t be unless I do something I’ve been wondering about ever since Stephen was born — turn the School co-ed.

You’ll remember we met Alex Neill when I’d shared a railway carriage with him on the way back from Taverton shortly before Ailie was born? Well his school is back in its proper home in Suffolk, and he’s invited me to go and look it over — and I want to take Hilda and Nell with me so they can see a settled school with boarding co-ed in action.

We need to make sure the School can educate Joey’s sons as well as our daughters. Don’t worry, I’m not proposing to disturb David — he’s settled at Winchester — and I doubt that Dick will want to move Rix or Jackie either, at this stage — though it would enable him to keep Maurice and Maeve together when they all finally come back. We’ve already extended the mixed kindergarten section, it is really a natural progression. But I don’t know what Hilda will think. Nell may be more amenable.

Now I don’t want Jack or Jo to see this as charity — it would put their backs up straight away. So you’ll need to put it carefully to Jack – emphasise the ‘natural progression’ aspect.

All for now as I must seal this to give to Jack, who will be here to collect it any minute.

My love


* * *

Friday 29 March

Dear Hilda

I’m looking forward to you and your friend visiting. I spoke to Alex Neill about it, and whenever you can manage to get away will suit us. We do not have a definite timetable for lessons here. Alex left me a note yesterday, and apparently he has a friend from somewhere near you who is interested in coming here as well. He was asking for your name so he could put you in touch with each other to share transport. I haven’t seen him again yet, but no doubt our paths will cross over the weekend.

Have you been to see Susan yet? I must write to her. I wonder how different Bedales is from us – some of our principles are the same, but I’ll be interested to know how the differences — in practice — strike an outside eye. And your eye, my dear Hilda, was always more unprejudiced and objective than most.

I’m really looking forward to seeing you and meeting your friend and co-head.

With all good wishes, as always,


* * *

My Dearest Dick

How are you and Mollie? — and how are you finding Australia? I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like on the other side of the world — although I remember India quite well, of course. I’m sure I will never get that far again – now we’re settled here in Armishire – although if there were ever the chance of getting back to the dear Tirol, I suppose we should take the San and School back there again. This place has a good deal to commend it, and we’re well settled now, although the San is further from the School than we were used to in Austria. I have to manage with Jem coming here for a few days at a time — not always at weekends — whenever he can get time off, and occasionally go up to the San myself to stay with him for a day or two — when we have enough petrol points. Still, we’re into a fairly steady routine now with it all.

One of the reasons I’m writing is to reassure you that Maurice and Maeve need not be separated when you bring the family back to England. You know Peggy and Bride have done well and enjoyed their time at the Chalet School, and Maeve would naturally have gone there too. But new times, new ways, and the future seems to me to be co-ed. So we’re expanding the school to take boys — Joey’s Triplets are by way of being leading lights in the extended kindergarten, and we are already taking boys up to 10. So there’s no reason for you to spend money elsewhere on Maurice’s education when we can provide it for you as a shareholder for nothing. I don’t propose that you disturb Rix, and I know Jackie is set for Dartmouth, so they’re both on their way to suitable future careers in any case. So don’t worry at all on that score.

Jo’s latest addition is a dark-haired imp — very like Constantine to look at, though Jo says in character he’s closer to Martin. How she can judge character in a ten-day-old baby I really don’t know, but the Trips have kept the characters she assigned them practically at birth, and so have the other two boys — perhaps she plucks it from the ether!

Love to you all as always –don’t wait too long to come home!


Author:  Lesley [ Sun Feb 24, 2008 11:29 pm ]
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Love all the planning - and t'will be nice to see Madge with her guns effectively spiked!

Thanks Ruth :lol:

Author:  Cath V-P [ Mon Feb 25, 2008 2:12 am ]
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I like the careful (and needless) preparation in which Madge is engaging. But she doesn't know her staff that well does she? As Mary wrote (and has written elsewhere perhaps? :wink: :D)
your eye, my dear Hilda, was always more unprejudiced and objective than most

Author:  Elder in Ontario [ Mon Feb 25, 2008 2:23 am ]
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I love all Madge's efforts to get her family (ie the major shareholders) on side before tackling Hilda and Nell about this - I'm looking forward to seeing her reaction when she discovers they are already several jumps ahead of her!!!

Thanks, Ruth.

Author:  Mona [ Mon Feb 25, 2008 9:18 am ]
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Thanks Ruth!

Author:  PaulineS [ Mon Feb 25, 2008 1:21 pm ]
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Madge is in for several suprises Thanks

Author:  leahbelle [ Mon Feb 25, 2008 6:14 pm ]
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Thanks, Ruth.

Author:  MaryR [ Mon Feb 25, 2008 8:43 pm ]
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What a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive - and Madge is definitely doing that. :twisted: But - the mind boggles - all Jo's boys, all those lost fees! Oh my! :shock:

Thanks, Ruth!

Author:  BethC [ Mon Feb 25, 2008 9:54 pm ]
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Thank you, Ruth - am enjoying this!

Author:  Vick [ Thu Feb 28, 2008 3:56 pm ]
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Lovely, thanks abbeybufo :D

Author:  abbeybufo [ Thu Feb 28, 2008 6:18 pm ]
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I hadn't originally intended to give a full tour of either Bedales or Summerhill - don't know enough :oops: :wink: - so I hope you'll forgive this means of recapping what H&N have seen without my depicting it step by step as it happened.

As the train chugged towards Newport, where they would change for Armiford, on Saturday afternoon, Hilda and Nell were discussing the weekend they had just experienced.

On the Friday morning they had gained a clear and unvarnished view of the way that Bedales operated, and they could see that there were pitfalls to the free and easy atmosphere that had impressed them so much when first they had met Lorraine and Josh, the pupils who had been the keenest to show them round. Naturally Susan had asked for volunteers — in a school where many lessons were voluntary, they would have expected no less, and Lorraine’s enthusiasm for the science labs and geography room had impressed Nell, while Josh’s real pride in the school farm and grounds, where he spent most of his time, and his genuine love of Edward Thomas’s writings, which had spilt over into an interest in the houses within the village of Steep that the poet and his family had lived in, had given both Hilda and Nell an interesting morning today. They had visited the Red House, the Bee House, Shoulder of Mutton Hill, the Mill, Berryfield and Yew Tree Cottage. Josh had also proved his memory skills by quoting from Thomas's poems and letters along the way. They also discovered from him that the Thomas children had attended the school, and that it had been one of Edward and Helen’s reasons for moving there.

Winchester, yesterday afternoon, had been a joy to visit. The great grey cathedral with its squat tower —curtailed so because the original taller edifice had fallen in 1202 and no-one had dared build higher in the succeeding years — originally a Benedictine monastery, with the longest Gothic nave in Europe, and containing the tombs of bishops, including St. Swithun, whose day is reputed to bring forty days of rain if it is wet thereon, and William of Wykeham, who had founded the famous school which David Russell and Rix Bettany currently attended; the great organ — restored just before the War — which included pipework from the organ built for the Great Exhibition, of nearly a hundred years ago now; the memorial to William Walker, the diver who had gone down under the foundations time and again to replace the underpinning of the building from 1906 to 1911 and saving it from certain collapse; the tomb slab of Jane Austen; the beautiful Deanery and Close — each of these aspects had been of interest jointly and severally to the two friends. They had been particularly pleased to see Robert open up in his enthusiasm over the work that Walker had done in shifting so much concrete, over six years of working in the complete dark and wet. Apparently William Walker had been one of the many victims of the so-called ‘Spanish flu’ which had swept the country in late 1918 and into 1919, the chill aftermath of the Great War.

They had wondered at Robert’s original dourness, and had been uncertain if he were shy or unhappy. Their conclusion — reached while their homeward train was passing that other great cathedral, Salisbury — was that he was probably both, but that he had thawed with them, and his unhappiness seemed more to do with his situation at Bedales than anything that they could identify from the little he had let slip of his personal life. He seemed always to have been something of a loner, and his love of his subject was something he was finding difficult to impart to sufficient of his current pupils.

“I didn’t want to unsettle him further by mentioning it yesterday,” remarked Hilda as the unmistakeable spire came into view. “but if we expand enough to need to take on more science teachers, do you think Robert is someone you would wish to work with?”

“Yes, I liked him. He doesn’t waste words, but he really made me feel for that poor diver, working in the cold, damp dark — and then succumbing to the flu only a few years later. I think he’s a good teacher, but frustrated in the set-up he’s in. It isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, the way they work at Bedales.”

“No. I am pleased to have seen it, and I still want to see Summerhill, and the differences — if any there be — between the two. But I like some aspects, and their way of dealing with the boys and girls in separate buildings for sleeping, but together the rest of the time, was certainly sensible – as well as the block for the upper sixth, with them on separate floors. I could see us moving forward in a similar way.”

“And the children who did want to work were producing a good standard — although I’m not at all sure that we want to change so wholeheartedly to the principle of only working when one wants to; it isn’t the way we’ve been used to! But I’m not against change in and of itself, I think we must pick the best from everywhere and incorporate it into what we already have — and we, at least, think that the way the Chalet School operates is good, most of the time!”

And the two settled back with their books for the next stage of the journey.

“I wonder how soon we’ll be able to get away again, to go to Summerhill?” mused Nell as they bade farewell to the Westbury horse glowing pink in the sunset light. “It would be a good idea to compare them while Bedales is fresh in our minds.”

“I quite agree. It will depend on whether Jeanne has anything planned for next weekend. If not, I’m sure we can manage to swap next week with the week after in the way of commitments. You know Mary said there wouldn’t be any problem, whenever we went. I can phone her on Monday if Jeanne is willing to take duty again next weekend.”

“When are you going to say anything to Madge?”

“Whenever Madge talks directly to me. At the moment all her moves have been — not quite underhand, but not entirely straight and above board either. I don’t suppose she realises it, and I suspect she is nervous of broaching the subject, but I think she will want all her beans in a row before she says anything. So I want to ensure that all our beans are in an even straighter row!”

“Beans in a row! For someone who is so hard on the girls for slang, you do come up with some strange terminology at times, Hilda! Where did you hear that particular gem?”

“One must relax on occasion,” Hilda’s face wore a smug expression. “and I wouldn’t for a minute dream of divulging my sources.” At which she turned again to her reading, leaving Nell bereft of words, for once.

Winchester Cathedral

Author:  MaryR [ Thu Feb 28, 2008 7:59 pm ]
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Good for you, Hilda! :lol: And you've got Madge bang to rights as well!

But Nell is wise in saying that they keep the best of the CS and only incorporate stuff they think good from the other two.

Thanks, Ruth.

Author:  Elder in Ontario [ Thu Feb 28, 2008 8:12 pm ]
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The 'recapping' was a good way to handle this, Ruth. Like MaryR, I liked Nell's view that they could keep the best of what they see at Bedales and Summerhill and incorporate it with the best of the present Chalet School.

Will be interested to learn about their visit to Summerhill in due course - also what happens when Madge finally comes to them with her proposal!!

Thank you.

Author:  Lesley [ Thu Feb 28, 2008 8:56 pm ]
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Like their ideas - and agree with their view of Madge - she's not being totally straight, is she? I appreciate it's her school but Hilda and Nell have been there a long time and deserve a little more consideration.

Thanks Ruth

Author:  PaulineS [ Thu Feb 28, 2008 10:56 pm ]
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Thank you.

“Beans in a row! For someone who is so hard on the girls for slang, you do come up with some strange terminology at times, Hilda! Where did you hear that particular gem?”
“One must relax on occasion,” Hilda’s face wore a smug expression. “and I wouldn’t for a minute dream of divulging my sources.” At which she turned again to her reading, leaving Nell bereft of words, for once.

I love Hilda's Geetting her beans in a row," it took me back to childhood.

I think Summerhill will be sooner than they think due to Madge's scheming.

Author:  Alison H [ Thu Feb 28, 2008 11:20 pm ]
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Looking forward to seeing the conversation between the 2 of them and Madge.

Author:  Elbee [ Thu Feb 28, 2008 11:38 pm ]
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I'm looking forward to that conversation too!

Thanks, Abbeybufo.

Author:  abbeybufo [ Sat Mar 01, 2008 12:08 pm ]
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“Would you like to read Mary’s letter?”

It was Sunday afternoon, and Hilda and Nell were relaxing in the spring sunshine by the window of the library at Plas Howell. Nell took the letter with a suspicious glance at Hilda’s face.

“If this were just arrangements for our visit you wouldn’t be bothering to show it to me,” she stated with certainty. “So what is in here to make you require my detective skills to come into play?”

“It doesn’t need particularly high skills in detection,” returned Hilda mildly. “I just thought you should see exactly what Mary has said.”

Nell skimmed through the text, “ ‘. . . looking forward to you and your friend visiting . . . whenever you can manage to get away will suit us. We do not have a definite timetable for lessons here.’ Hmmph! That’s something I wouldn’t want to adopt! — Oh! ‘Alex left me a note yesterday, and apparently he has a friend from somewhere near you’ — is that who I think it is?”

Hilda nodded, “I can’t imagine who else in this area it is likely to be.”

“Is there any more I need to read?”

“Just the last paragraph.”

“ ‘I’m really looking forward to seeing you and meeting your friend and co-head.’ Well that’s ‘uncommon civil’ of her.”

“Mary is always friendly and welcoming.”

“She remembers you well, too, I see.”

“What makes you say so?”

“This — ‘your eye, my dear Hilda, was always more unprejudiced and objective than most.’ She must have known you quite well, if you gave her the benefit of your unprejudiced eye, rather than just being polite about things.”

“I hope I’m always polite —”

“You know what I mean. Once you like people, you bother to be rude to them, or to tease them, or to give them the benefit of your hidden wit. You don’t bother to do that with people you don’t know very well, or don’t much care for; you just stay quiet and restrained. Only a few of us know your secret, my girl, and I think Mary must be one of them.”

Hilda smirked. “I can’t think what you mean. But here’s something else you should see,” and she passed Rosalie’s note to Nell.

“Sounds as if Alex Neill has already told Madge about our proposed visit.”

“Or she’s put two and two together as we have. So what is our next move? Do we take the bull by the horns, or do we let her make the first move.”

Nell began to chuckle, and the two collapsed into giggles at the thought of Madge as a bull.

When they had recovered their composure, Hilda said, “I’ve asked Jeanne to join us for tea. I think it’s time we told her what we think the future will be for the School; after all she is Senior Mistress, so we need to involve her next — and then we can see whether Madge has said anything to her about her plans.”

“D’you think she has?”

“I think she’s probably kept anything she has said to family. But Madge was very close to Therèse Lepâttre; she may feel a similar affinity for Jeanne, so that even though technically we, as the heads, should be consulted first, she might feel she could talk to Jeanne more easily.”

“Well, we’ll know soon enough. What time did you suggest for Jeanne to come?”

“In about half an hour, why?”

“I’ve only got two or three chapters of The Hollow left — if there’s half an hour, I can just do it — ”

“The butler did it.”

Nell looked up in indignation, then relaxed as she saw the glint in her friend's eye. “If I thought you were telling me the truth — ” she threatened Hilda with a cushion from the window seat.

“I always tell the truth.” Hilda was smiling broadly. “I didn’t say just what the butler did, now, did I?”

Nell grunted and took her book from her bag. Hilda picked up her knitting. Silence reigned.

Author:  Mona [ Sat Mar 01, 2008 12:53 pm ]
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A lovely interlude - thank you!

Author:  Lesley [ Sat Mar 01, 2008 2:18 pm ]
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The butler did do something in 'The Hollow' - Hilda is quite correct! :lol: Wonder if Madge does have more affinity with Jeanne - because she is French, perhaps? :?

Thanks Ruth - lovely conversation.

Author:  Alison H [ Sat Mar 01, 2008 3:37 pm ]
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Thanks Ruth :D .

Author:  Elder in Ontario [ Sat Mar 01, 2008 5:50 pm ]
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Thanks, Ruth - it will be interesting to see if Madge has, in fact talked to Jeanne, though I think she's only talked to her family so far.

Author:  PaulineS [ Sat Mar 01, 2008 10:07 pm ]
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I wonder if Jeanne has had similar thought s to Hilda and Nell

Author:  Fiona Mc [ Sat Mar 01, 2008 11:10 pm ]
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I know I'm going against the tide but I do agree with Madge wanting to check out the place first and see how she feels or put out feelers first. It is after all her school. I don't think she has to consult Hilda every time she gets a glimmer of an idea without working through whether or not the idea is even workable before discussing it

Author:  abbeybufo [ Sun Mar 02, 2008 5:23 pm ]
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By the time Jeanne de Lachenais arrived, Poirot had disentangled the case, despite the attempts of everyone — including the butler! — to put him off the scent, and Nell was watching the sunset. Hilda looked up from her knitting, “Jeanne! Would you mind if I just finish my row and then I can give you my full attention? Nell will you ring for tea, please. This bit is tricky and I need to count.”

Nell sprang to the bell, while Jeanne, indicating that she did not mind at all if Hilda continued to knit, sat at the other end of the window seat from Nell’s former position. Her eye lit on the book Nell had left there. “Have you read this?” she enquired.

“I’ve just finished it,” replied that lady, returning to join the little Frenchwoman. “Would you like to read it next? Hilda’s already read it.”

“No I have not — oh, now I’ve lost count!”

Nell grinned at the success of her small revenge. “I thought you must have done from the way you tried to tell me the end,” she returned. “But if you want it, I’m sure Jeanne will give it to you when she’s finished it.”

“Of course I will!” replied Jeanne warmly. She quite understood the dynamics of these friends’ relationship, and was happy to join in with the teasing in either direction. Now, though, with a small reproving smile at Nell, who would have continued the game, she changed the subject and turned from Hilda, who was engaged in counting her stitches again.

“Did you have a pleasant time in Hampshire?” she enquired. “Am I right in thinking that you stayed at a school with an old college friend of Hilda’s?”

“We did,” replied Nell, and launched into an eager description of all they had seen and done on the way to and from Hampshire, not forgetting the half-days in Winchester and in Steep village itself.

Hilda placed a different coloured piece of wool as a stitch marker and, laying down her knitting, began to take part in the conversation. After the tray had been brought and the three ladies supplied with tea and welsh cakes, she cut short Nell’s description of the drive from Petersfield to Winchester, over Old Winchester Hill, with, “We weren’t just on a sightseeing trip, Jeanne.”

“No.” the intelligent black eyes sparkled back at her. “Tell me, then, about the school you visited. Was it for that you made your journey?”

“Yes. It is a coeducational boarding school.” Jeanne was nodding composedly. “There’s another we want to look at in Suffolk. We think Madge is looking to turn the School co-ed and we wanted to have seen some examples of the fully-grown ‘beast’ in practice before committing to any fledgling moves here.” She paused.

“But surely Madge would consult you before she made such a big change? You are shareholders, as well as co-heads. Indeed I have some shares myself as part of my contract on becoming Senior Mistress. Are you not jumping the gun, Hilda?”

Hilda sighed, and Nell looked uncomfortable.

“We may be, Jeanne,” said Hilda at last. “But look at the way the age for accepting day-boys has crept up without any formal arrangement. First it was just the little ones, which was no change from the Tirol days, when Rix and David started their schooling with us. But it has continued to rise and now we are taking boys up to ten — always that two or three years ahead of the age of the Maynard Triplets.”

“And you think that’s why?”

“I do — we do. Now Maynard boy number six has arrived, it looks to me as if Madge is marshalling her forces . . . ”

“She has said nothing to me — wait, though! That would make sense of something she said to me the other day. I didn’t make the connection at the time. I wonder? She may have meant it as a hint — or a warning.”

“What did she say?” Nell almost interrupted in her eagerness.

“It wasn’t much. When we were discussing the need to replace Madeline when she marries —” Hilda nodded. The young Madeline Sherratt, who had come to them as junior languages mistress last September, was known to be leaving in the summer and moving to France, her new husband’s home, and her own mother’s birthplace. “— Madge just said perhaps there would be a wider pool to choose from. And then she stopped, and turned a little pink, and changed the subject. Perhaps she realised she shouldn’t have talked about it to me before she spoke to you two?”

“That’s very likely,” Hilda looked relieved. “You know, I wonder if we are all tiptoeing around each other? It seems as if each of us is considering moves in the same direction, but because we haven’t been talking to each other, it has built up a tension between us. Madge is probably worried about what I will say and think about the idea, so is making sure she has all her arguments ready, and all her family primed to run the changes through whether I am in agreement or not — and I’ve been so concerned not to be presented with a fait accompli that I’ve been doing my own research so that I will have a good idea of what I’m agreeing to take on.”

“You would be in favour, then?”

“Oh, yes!” Nell answered. “Hilda and I are both in favour. We saw a lot that we liked at Bedales — as well as some things we didn’t! Summerhill is likely to have things we don’t like as well, but there are some very good aspects about coeducation,” and she repeated the remarks she had made to Hilda when the subject had first arisen.

“None of the aspects we didn’t care for impinges on the basic principle of coeducational boarding,” added Hilda. “The ways to allow boys and girls to be together when they can be, and not when they should not be, would be easily arranged. Parents would expect no less of us. So Jeanne, Nell and I are keen to make the change, and although we want to see Summerhill before Nell goes away to America at Easter, we’ve seen enough already to know how we could implement coeducation without changing the basic ethos of the Chalet School. What, as Senior Mistress and as a friend, are your thoughts?”

Jeanne was frowning slightly. “I had not thought as far ahead as this, or as thoroughly as you have, Hilda. But yes, the Maynard Triplets are now of an age to join the Junior School proper in September. It will be strange — ” then her face cleared, “but boys and girls are taught together in the lycées. It is only in convent schools that they are kept apart. So — ”

The discussion had just reached this point when the library door burst open and a breathless, windswept figure half-stumbled in . . .

Author:  Mona [ Sun Mar 02, 2008 5:43 pm ]
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Who on earth can it be?


Author:  Elder in Ontario [ Sun Mar 02, 2008 5:53 pm ]
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Nice one, Abbeybufo - are you taking lessons in cliffs from Lesley?!!!!

I really enjoyed that conversation between these three, though - and on reflection, I tend to agree with Hilda's thought that Madge is tiptoeing round the issue with them as they are with her. Tt will be interesting to see what happens when Madge eventually *does* bring up the idea with them - though it's clear that she will have no problem in gaining their agreement.

Please come back soon and remove us from that cliff!

Author:  Alison H [ Sun Mar 02, 2008 6:11 pm ]
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Yes, please come back soon and sort out the cliff!

Good to see Jeanne playing a big role here - she's one of the many mistresses in the books who're there for years but never get to do much.

Author:  Lesley [ Sun Mar 02, 2008 9:01 pm ]
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Elder in Ontario wrote:
Nice one, Abbeybufo - are you taking lessons in cliffs from Lesley?!!!!!

Don't know what you mean! :wink:

Thanks Ruth.

Author:  abbeybufo [ Sun Mar 02, 2008 9:29 pm ]
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Lesley wrote:
Elder in Ontario wrote:
Nice one, Abbeybufo - are you taking lessons in cliffs from Lesley?!!!!!

Don't know what you mean! :wink:

Exactly Lesley - it was just a natural place to stop :roll:

Author:  Sugar [ Mon Mar 03, 2008 8:49 am ]
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Oh for heavens sake - I have just read this from the very beginning and gone sailing over the edge of the flippin' cliff!!

abbey this is wonderful - hope there is some more soon.

Author:  dackel [ Mon Mar 03, 2008 12:42 pm ]
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My first thought was: "It must be Joey!", mainly because she's walked into staff meetings etc so often before! :lol:

Thanks, Abbeybufo, I'm really enjoying this!

Author:  MaryR [ Mon Mar 03, 2008 1:37 pm ]
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Thank you, Ruth.

Psst, I think you could say, along with Nell, "Only a few of us know your secret, my girl, and I think Mary must be one of them.” :roll:

Author:  abbeybufo [ Mon Mar 03, 2008 9:17 pm ]
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Little bit more - not sure if I'll be able to post again until I'm back from France next week :twisted: :twisted:

“My dear!” Hilda exclaimed, as the three rushed to ensure that their surprise visitor did not fall, and to bring her to sit in a comfortable chair. “Whatever is the matter?”

“I’ve come straight from Joey.”

“Is Joey all right?” Nell was worried, and Hilda and Jeanne looked concerned.

“She’s fine. Sorry to worry you. No, it’s something else — something I thought you should know immediately.”

Author:  Lesley [ Mon Mar 03, 2008 10:00 pm ]
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Norty Ruth! :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Author:  PaulineS [ Mon Mar 03, 2008 10:14 pm ]
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Ruth now what help is that you have only increased the height of the cliff!!!!
:evil: :evil: :evil:

Author:  Liane [ Mon Mar 03, 2008 10:23 pm ]
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That was mean :(

*settles down on clifftop to wait*

Author:  Vick [ Mon Mar 03, 2008 11:23 pm ]
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*Joins Liane on cliff edge & throws rope over for Sugar*

Thanks abbeybufo (I think!) :D

Author:  JackieP [ Tue Mar 04, 2008 2:28 pm ]
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Hmmm - thank you (I think...)

I've brought the abseling gear if anyone wants to check if Sugar's okay...?


Author:  leahbelle [ Tue Mar 04, 2008 4:04 pm ]
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Argh! *joins others on cliff top!*

Author:  abbeybufo [ Tue Mar 04, 2008 9:44 pm ]
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Oh all right then; I’ll take pity on you all. :lol: :lol: — and you should have known who this was: I did tell you who was going to see Joey on Sunday afternoon :twisted:
But this really will be the last chance I have to post before the weekend

“What — ?” began Nell, but subsided at a gesture from Hilda.

“Just get your breath back, dear, and have a mouthful of tea; it isn’t too stewed, I hope. Then you shall tell us all about it.”

After a few deep breaths and half a cup of lukewarm tea, Rosalie was feeling better. “Sorry to burst in like that,” she said. “I wanted to let you know as soon as I could, Hilda. I didn’t realise you had Nell and Jeanne here as well.”

“Shall we go?” said the Frenchwoman immediately, as Nell also rose to her feet.

“No! No. I don’t mind telling you all at the same time – it wasn’t that. Only that I thought Hilda would be on her own . . .”

“Now, what was so important that you rushed here so fast that you nearly brought on an asthma attack?” Hilda’s voice was firm but gentle. “I shall send you straight to Matey!”

Rosalie smiled wanly. “I deserved that. But I didn’t run – I cycled; and although I pedalled hard, it was the wind that did most of the damage.” She tried to fasten back the unruly strands that were escaping from their pins. “Joey was showing me Michael,” she went on, while the three mistresses exchanged glances over her head. “And she began to talk about the School, and how she was so sorry not to have a daughter to come here and follow in her footsteps. And then she said — she said — ”

“She said Madge was arranging for her boys to come here anyway — was that it?” Hilda was smiling grimly, and her eyes were steely grey.

“How did you know?”

“I guessed. It’s what we’ve all three been discussing tonight. What did Jo say exactly? Was there anything definite, or just that Madge had told her everything would be all right?”

“Mainly that. She was saying that Madge had told her that the day-boy age was keeping nicely ahead of the Trips, but that she was making arrangements for more far-reaching changes. And then she looked horrified, and said she shouldn’t have said anything yet to anyone, as Madge was going to talk to you tomorrow. So I thought I should warn you as soon as possible.”

“And does Joey know you were coming to tell me?”

“I didn’t promise not to. I didn’t say much more anyway — it all came out just before I was about to leave. I think she was thinking more of her own indiscretion than worrying what I’d do with it. D’you think she’ll tell Madge she’s told me?”

“Madge was probably expecting something like this anyway,” remarked Nell. “Jo never could keep a secret. Now, I wonder whether she’ll come here tonight, or tomorrow — or will she just phone, do you think?”

“She was going to phone in the morning anyway — yes, Jeanne, I was about to tell you that. I imagine she’ll still do that, but will probably want to arrange to come as well. So, two questions; first, are we all in agreement that co-ed is the way to go — ” Rosalie gasped at this, but was ignored for the moment. “— and second, how are we to receive Madge? Do we all three arrange to be here to talk to her together, or do you think I should see her alone? I am happy to deal with it whichever way you would both prefer — Don’t look so alarmed Rosalie. I’ll tell you all we’ve been discussing in a minute. Had you not realised this was the way we should need to move forward in the future?” for Rosalie was shaking her head in horrified disbelief.

Author:  Elder in Ontario [ Tue Mar 04, 2008 10:26 pm ]
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Oho, is Rosalie destined to be a spokesperson for those who don't welcome the change which is being proposed? The plot definitely thickens!! And trust Jo not to be able to keep quiet about that, even though she can have had no idea that Hilda and Nell were already thinking in that direction, too.

Thanks Ruth - have a great holiday. BTW my daughter and family took the Eurostar from the Ebbsfleet station in December - they found it very satisfactory - and since they live in Essex, much easier to reach than trailing in to the new terminal at St. Pancras.

Author:  Lesley [ Tue Mar 04, 2008 10:27 pm ]
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Wonder why the horrified disbelief? Is Rosalie unhappy about the possibility of co-ed? Love the aside from Nell that Jo could never keep a secret! :lol:

Thanks Ruth - though you should really have strung it out for longer, you know! :wink:

Author:  Elbee [ Tue Mar 04, 2008 10:30 pm ]
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Thank you for taking pity on us! Looking forward to the conversation with Madge! Enjoy your trip to France.

Author:  Alison H [ Tue Mar 04, 2008 11:39 pm ]
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Trust Joey to put her foot in it!

Hope you have a good holiday.

Author:  PaulineS [ Wed Mar 05, 2008 12:04 pm ]
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Thanks Ruth have a good break.

Author:  leahbelle [ Wed Mar 05, 2008 4:02 pm ]
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Thank you, Ruth. Have a lovely holiday.

Author:  roversgirl [ Thu Mar 06, 2008 10:31 pm ]
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have been away and just caught up, thank you! :)

Author:  di [ Sun Mar 16, 2008 1:52 pm ]
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Have just read this from the beginning and am really enjoying the reverse in Joey's family although I do hope she gets at leat one girl. Madge seems very insecure; canvassing votes from the family shareholders, but I suppose that goes on in the real world also. I'm so glad that writers on these boards follow the relationship between Hilda and Nell; I wonder if it ever entered EBD's mind that their relationship could be more than just 'good friends'! :lol:

Looking forward to the next installment and hope your holiday was enjoyable.

Author:  abbeybufo [ Mon Mar 17, 2008 6:39 pm ]
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It’s still Sunday 31st March 1946, in the evening.

“Ah, Jack — is that a letter from Madge? — just have a seat a minute: I’m sure you’ll excuse me while I have a quick read-through; get yourself a drink of something — whisky?”

“Thanks.” Jack went to the cabinet and poured himself a malt, added a dash of water, then sat down. His eye fell on the latest issue of The British Medical Journal, which he picked up to glance through. He knew his own copy would be waiting in his office, but while Jem was busy with Madge’s letter he could at least skim the contents list — ah, a report on the Paris conference to set up a World Health Organisation as part of the new United Nations; he might have tried to go to that if Michael hadn’t been imminent . . . soon he was lost in the article.

Jem reached the end of Madge’s epistle and flung it down with an exasperated sigh. He had enough to do running the Sanatorium, without getting involved in the School — which after all should be running itself by now. Why his wife and her sister couldn’t just leave it alone he really didn’t understand. It had been fine in the early days, and of course if Madge hadn’t set up the school at the Tiernsee, they might never have met. But now – with ten children between them to look after, for goodness sake, despite the help they both had with their faithful Austrian staff, shouldn’t that be enough to do; especially with Jo’s writing. Shareholders they might be — he was one himself after all — but this obsession with the minutiae of the school’s day-to-day running was quite beyond him. He looked across at Jack Maynard’s tired, lined, face, and sighed again, more quietly. His colleague’s face in repose, as he lost himself in the BMJ article, showed the worry and strain he was under at the moment. If Madge did manage to carry through the changes she was talking about it would at least take one — no, six! — burdens from Maynard’s shoulders. He moved across the room to refill his own glass, then went and sat opposite Jack.

“I want a word with you, old man,” he said gently.

Jack looked up from the journal, “I’m sorry,” he said hastily. “I’ll be back at work first thing tomorrow — be fine after a good night’s sleep.” He yawned hugely. “It hasn’t exactly been a rest cure these few days at home —”

“It’s not just that,” returned his boss. “although you are looking a bit done up. D’you want me to put you up something?”

“No — the whisky will do the job quite well.” Jack looked a little more relaxed and sat back in his chair.

“Then we’ll just talk about Madge’s letter. She wants to make changes at the school and she thinks there may be a reaction against her ‘moving with the times’ — as she puts it — and wants all the shareholders on side.”

“I leave the school to Jo — and Madge of course,” was the quick reply. “I try not to get involved, unless Matey calls me in on a medical matter, naturally —”

“Well this is quite radical — although Madge sees it as a ‘natural progression’ and a 'move with the spirit of the post-war times’” — he was quite pleased at himself for that phrase — “she’s looking to take the school co-ed, and she thinks some of the staff may be unwilling to take that step.”


“Madge —”

“Whatever’s the matter, Jo? Why are you phoning so late? You should be asleep by now!”

“I can’t sleep. I think I’ve done something awful. I want you to forgive me.”

“Well I won’t forgive you before I know what you’ve done,” said her sister matter-of-factly. “Though I can’t think of anything offhand that I wouldn’t be able to forgive, from you.”

“Well, it may not be much. But I’ve upset Rosalie — and she may tell Hilda.”

“I would have thought you were too fond of Rosalie to quarrel with her?”

“It wasn’t a quarrel. It was the look on her face when I said something —”

Madge’s heart sank; what had Jo said? A few questions and it was all out, and Madge sighed with relief — it could have been much worse; nothing definite had been leaked, and if Hilda and Nell were the others wanting to visit Summerhill, as Alex Neill had hinted — though he had not come back to her with an actual name yet — then perhaps all her worries had been groundless, and things would go as she wished. She liked things to go her own way. Now, just how was she going to broach the subject when she rang Hilda in the morning?


“Hilda, can I have a word?”

“You can, and indeed you may,” Hilda grinned at the wiry figure of Matron Lloyd who was at the library door. “Sorry, we’re all off-duty at the moment. I shouldn’t tease! Come in and join us.”

Matey brushed off both rebuke and apology and came straight to the point. “I’ve just been with Rosalie. I’m not happy about her — what’s been going on to upset her so?”

“You were the next person we were going to talk to, Gwyn. Nell and Jeanne and I have been discussing the future, but Rosalie heard something from Jo that has upset her, and when she realised that I was thinking along the same lines, she became really distressed, which is why I sent her to bed and sent for you to look at her.” She spoke carefully, not sure, even now, whether Matey’s close relationship with Joey meant she would have been given any clues from that source as to what Madge had been planning, and her eyes met Nell’s, defying her to repeat her previously voiced opinion of Jo’s inability to keep secrets. There was no point in antagonising Matey by speaking ill of her ewe-lamb, and it would be important to the proposed changes to have Matey’s practical input all along. She wondered again whether Gwyneth had any idea of what was coming, but put the thought aside in the face of the more immediate problem; Rosalie’s obvious distress, near panic, indeed, at the idea of the Chalet School becoming coeducational. Had Matey been able to discover any reason for it, or had she just soothed the young woman, and come to Hilda for explanations when she had got her off to sleep?


Rosalie woke with a start. She was back there — again! She thought she had grown out of these nightmares; it was — how many years, now? Over ten since it happened. And she had thought the War, and all the terrible time of their escape from the Nazis had overridden it. But this, today, had brought it all back. What could she do? What should she do? She tossed and turned, then flung the bedclothes back. If she couldn’t sleep, she was sensible enough to know she needed help, she flung on dressing-gown, fumbled her feet into slippers, and set off to find the only person she could be sure of understanding, the only one who might be able to help.

Author:  roversgirl [ Mon Mar 17, 2008 6:44 pm ]
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Intriguing... Thank you :)

Author:  Lesley [ Mon Mar 17, 2008 9:51 pm ]
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Ten years? Just about the time when Rosalie was about to return to the School as Jem's secretary? Ah, now I see the reason for Ruth's queries in another thread.

Thanks Ruth! :lol:

Author:  Alison H [ Mon Mar 17, 2008 10:18 pm ]
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Jem and Jack just don't get it, do they?

Author:  PaulineS [ Mon Mar 17, 2008 10:43 pm ]
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I agree with Roversgirl it is intriguing!

Thank you
:) :) :)

Author:  di [ Tue Mar 18, 2008 7:44 am ]
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Great episode, what on earth has upset Rosalie, I wonder? Typical response from Jem and Jack, although I always thought Jem was more than supportive about the school.
Thank you, Ruth.

Author:  Cath V-P [ Tue Mar 18, 2008 8:45 am ]
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Oh how fascinating! The division between Jem and Madge is quite remarkable, and there are indications that Jack and Jo are headed the same way. I wonder why Rosalie is so upset.....and what will Gwynneth's reaction be to all this?

Thank you Ruth. :D

Author:  Mona [ Tue Mar 18, 2008 1:13 pm ]
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What's upset Rosalie so badly?


Author:  abbeygirl [ Tue Mar 18, 2008 2:53 pm ]
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so what happened to Rosalie in that missing year? and who is the one person who can help?

Thanks Ruth - this is great!

Author:  La Petite Em [ Wed Mar 19, 2008 6:30 pm ]
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I just read all this in one go- it's great! And yet another cliff!!
*sets up camp and waits for the rest.*

Author:  Elder in Ontario [ Thu Mar 20, 2008 2:55 am ]
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Oh joy - lovely to read, but not much chance to comment - forgive me, Ruth, it's lack of time, not interest!! Wonder what Gwyneth's reaction will be, also what has distressed Rosalie about the idea of this change - and more importantly, who is the one person who will understand her feelings.

Will look for more next time I've chance to get on here.

Author:  MaryR [ Thu Mar 20, 2008 1:42 pm ]
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She liked things to go her own way.

Hmm! An interesting view of Madge! :lol: Hope she realises Nell and Hilda like the same, withing reason - and would have been prepared to accommodate her without all the subterfuge!!

Thanks, Ruth

Author:  abbeybufo [ Fri Mar 21, 2008 4:32 pm ]
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Short update today :lol:

“So you see,” concluded Rosalie. “I don’t know if I can cope any more here — I think the only thing to do will be to hand in my notice.” She looked apologetically across her ‘medicinal’ brandy at her confidante as she sat at the foot of that lady’s bed, wrapped in a spare eiderdown, for the spring nights were still chilly.

“Well, I knew something had happened to you during that year in London, I said as much to Kitty. But I don’t see how what you’ve told me affects your job here. I can’t see that sort of situation arising again, especially not in rural Armishire.”

“I can’t tell you that without letting Hilda down,” returned Rosalie. “I don’t know how much of what she and Nell were talking about is definite, or how far on Madge’s plans are, so I can’t say anything about that side of things at all — it’s for Hilda or Madge, as your employers, to tell you that aspect, when they judge it right, I mustn’t pre-empt them, even to you. I can only ask your help for my own worries.”

“As to that, are you sure you haven’t magnified everything out of proportion? Things do seem worse in the wee small hours. Why don’t you tuck down here for the rest of the night, and we’ll talk again in the morning. Even though it’ll be Monday, we don’t have to get going too early, do we? I’ll think things through as well, as I go to sleep. I can manage on the divan.”

Rosalie was yawning already, and not averse to the suggestion, so once more she was settled ‘for the night’ — and yet again causing serious concern to the person ‘settling’ her.

Early next morning Hilda was awakened by a sharp rat-tat-tat at her door, followed by the entrance of Matey, already fully dressed.
“I don’t want to worry you any more than you already are, Hilda,” she said without preamble, “but I’ve just looked in on Rosalie and she isn’t in her room —”

Author:  roversgirl [ Fri Mar 21, 2008 5:08 pm ]
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Thanks - hope we find out what happened to Rosalie soon :)

Author:  Lesley [ Fri Mar 21, 2008 5:50 pm ]
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I think I know who Rosalie is speaking to - hope she can help.

Thanks Ruth.

Author:  PaulineS [ Fri Mar 21, 2008 6:09 pm ]
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I suspect I know who Rosalie is talking to as well. Poor Matey finding an empty room!!

Author:  Alison H [ Fri Mar 21, 2008 6:19 pm ]
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:lol: at the medicinal brandy. Also intrigued as to what happened to Rosalie.

Author:  crystaltips [ Fri Mar 21, 2008 11:28 pm ]
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Oooh, just read this from the beginning.
What a very interesting concept. :o
Thank you Abbeybufo.

Am concerned for Rosalie

Author:  di [ Sat Mar 22, 2008 9:06 am ]
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Looking forward to more- What happened in London and just who is she 'bunking' in with? I haven't a clue.
Thank you, Ruth. :)

Author:  MaryR [ Sat Mar 22, 2008 2:29 pm ]
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You're stretching out the tension, and teasing us, Ruth!! :lol: And you have the nerve to complain about other people!! :poke:

Thank you - not! :lol:

Author:  abbeybufo [ Sat Mar 22, 2008 4:01 pm ]
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MaryR wrote:
You're stretching out the tension, and teasing us, Ruth!! :lol: And you have the nerve to complain about other people!! :poke:

Thank you - not! :lol:

Complain? Moi? surely not ... :twisted:

Author:  Sugar [ Sat Mar 22, 2008 6:41 pm ]
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Ohhh this is getting interesting. Poor Rosalie, I really feel for her, shes obviously had a bad experience somewhere with a man and that makes her wary of any of them. Poor thing

Author:  abbeybufo [ Sun Mar 23, 2008 9:17 pm ]
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Another little bit

Meanwhile Rosalie and her cousin were once again in deep discussion.

“It’s fine when they’re small,” Rosalie was explaining. “I’m OK with Jo’s little ones, and with the family — your brothers as well as my own stepbrothers. But if — oh, it’s no good Mary, I’ll have to tell you and swear you to secrecy. Does your experience of teaching history to middles make you a good enough actress to deceive Hilda, d’you think?”

“If you mean does the ability to keep a straight face under almost any circumstances, I should hope so! It’s one of the first things Hilda teaches us when we come back from training college. But I’d be sorry to use it against her!”

“It isn’t exactly against her. If things are moving the way I think, she’ll have to tell all the staff fairly soon. I just need you not to look as if you know all about it already when she tells you.”

Mary Burnett nodded slowly. “I see. Well, yes, then, I think I can promise that — oh, hang it all, Rosalie, if I can’t help my cousin by keeping her secrets, I’d be a pretty poor friend, let alone relation! Just tell me as much as I’ll need to understand; I won’t ask questions, and you don’t need to go into any more detail than you want,” she finished.

“I don’t know any detail,” returned Rosalie. It’s the basic idea that's what is so — so — shocking! Well, it was a shock to me. You see,” she continued as Mary looked at her closely, “it isn’t just that Jo has six boys now. I was prepared for that, and if I see them as they grow, I hope they’ll be like family, and I shan’t be scared. But Jo said that Madge was arranging for them all — all — to come to the Chalet School, which bothered me, as I knew they wouldn’t be the only ones. So I rushed back to warn Hilda, and then Hilda said that she and Nell had been laying plans for the School to become co-ed. The trip they’ve just been on was to a co-ed school in Hampshire. I thought they were just staying with a teaching friend of Hilda’s for the weekend. I hadn’t realised they were on a fact-finding mission. I don’t think I could deal with a whole lot of strange teenage boys, not after, after —” and she began to sob again.


Hilda dressed quickly.

“Has Rosalie left the building? Does anyone else know she’s missing?” had been her first questions, as she hastily splashed her face with cold water. On learning that the Matron had come straight to her — in case Rosalie might be with the headmistress — she sent Gwyneth off to check the external doors, while she herself scrambled into the garments she had placed ready last night, as always, and went as swiftly as was concomitant with her position as Head of the Chalet School, to Rosalie’s room where she had arranged to meet Matey.

Author:  PaulineS [ Sun Mar 23, 2008 9:25 pm ]
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Rosalie needs to share her burden with Hilda or she is going to find it difficult to work with her in the coming weeks.

Author:  Sugar [ Sun Mar 23, 2008 9:43 pm ]
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Oh poor Rosalie!

Thanks Abbey

Author:  Lesley [ Sun Mar 23, 2008 10:02 pm ]
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Rosalie needs to talk to Hilda - hope Mary can help.

Thanks Ruth.

PS. Love that Hilda teaches all the new Mistresses to keep a straight face! :wink:

Author:  Alison H [ Sun Mar 23, 2008 10:21 pm ]
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Oh dear, Rosalie's obviously had a very upsetting time of it :( .

Author:  Fiona Mc [ Mon Mar 24, 2008 12:12 am ]
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I think I'm imagining all sorts of horrible things that happened to Rosalie and am hoping I'm wrong.

BTW It's been lovely to catch up on the last few posts

Author:  di [ Mon Mar 24, 2008 11:30 am ]
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Oh dear, poor Rosalie :( I do hope that what has happened to her isn't what I'm thinking happened to her [if that makes sense] I'm sure Mary will offer her some sensible advice, including confiding in Hilda, who seems unshockable. :help:
Looking forward to the next part -great writing, Ruth. :D

Author:  crystaltips [ Wed Mar 26, 2008 12:04 am ]
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Poor Rosalie, hope it's not what I think & hope that Mary can help her.
Looking forward to the next instalment - thanks Ruth

Author:  MaryR [ Wed Mar 26, 2008 12:28 pm ]
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and went as swiftly as was concomitant with her position as Head of the Chalet School

Brilliant line! :lol: And just how swiftly was that?? :twisted:

Poor Rosalie. :cry:

Thanks, Ruth.

Author:  abbeybufo [ Sat Mar 29, 2008 11:16 pm ]
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I found that I couldn’t write Rosalie’s story here. Her telling of it to Mary will be too hesitant and broken, and Mary’s encouraging murmurs and shocked reactions would be a distraction. So I have started to tell it as a separate story here which can stand alone as something that could have happened to Rosalie both in this universe and in canon. It will take a little while to tell the whole tale, so rather than delay this one for any longer, I’m carrying it on and will try to update both drabbles (fairly) regularly until you have the full back story for Rosalie. But that is why it has taken me so long to get back to this point — where Hilda was hastening to meet Matey at Rosalie’s room . . .

She found Matron Lloyd waiting at Rosalie’s door. “The building is still locked up. No sign of anyone going out — and Rosalie’s dressing-gown and slippers aren’t here; they were on the chair at end of her bed last night, when I helped her undress.”

“So has she just gone wandering — I wonder —”

“Mary!” both women exclaimed at once, and turned towards Miss Burnett’s room.

They arrived just as Mary had managed to get the whole sorry story from the now quiet but exhausted Rosalie, and Mary was saying earnestly, “You must talk to Hilda, Rosalie. You need to get counselling —” she broke off at a knock on her door, “Who is it?”

“Hilda — and Matron. Is Rosalie with you?”

Mary looked at Rosalie, who nodded and closed her eyes.

“Yes, she’s here. Come in both of you.”


Later that morning, though still before 9.30, came the phone call from Madge that Hilda had been expecting. After a few feints and hesitations, they both came to realise that they were thinking along similar lines, and swiftly moved on to more practical discussions of the proposed visit to Summerhill.

Author:  roversgirl [ Sat Mar 29, 2008 11:22 pm ]
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Thanks for the update, good idea to separate and interested to see what follows next. Thank you :)

Author:  Alison H [ Sat Mar 29, 2008 11:44 pm ]
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Off to read about Rosalie now ...

Author:  di [ Sun Mar 30, 2008 10:00 am ]
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Thanks for the update and I agree it's a good idea to separate Rosalie's story. I'm also off to read it now.

Author:  Lesley [ Sun Mar 30, 2008 10:13 am ]
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Awww, I'd have like to read of those 'feints and hesitations'. :cry:

Thanks Ruth.

Author:  Rosalin [ Sun Mar 30, 2008 7:15 pm ]
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Just caught up on a chunk of this and so skipped over all the cliffs (so far) :D Off now to read about Rosalie.

Thanks Ruth.

Author:  Cath V-P [ Mon Mar 31, 2008 11:49 am ]
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Oh poor Rosalie, to have to cope with something she never envisaged. And I loved the reference to 'feints and hesitations'!

Author:  abbeybufo [ Mon Mar 31, 2008 9:29 pm ]
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Lesley wrote:
Awww, I'd have like to read of those 'feints and hesitations'. :cry:

Your wish is my command, Lesley :lol:

Just after break on Monday morning Nell put her head round the Library door. “Are you free at the moment Hilda? It’s a lovely morning and I thought a short walk might be in order.”

“What a splendid idea! I need to talk to you anyway, and the spring sunshine is calling me very insistently —”

“I thought it might be.” Nell grinned at her friend. “We’ll walk down the drive and a little way towards the village, shall we?” And Hilda unsuspectingly agreed.

In a short time both had jackets and gloves, for although the sun was shining there was still a nip in the air, and stout shoes for the mud under the avenue of trees which lined the drive to the big house where the school had its current home.

“School ends on Thursday, and you’ll be off to America on the following Wednesday,” remarked Hilda as they set out at a brisk pace, for both were keen walkers and hated dawdling.

“Yes. I’d hoped we might have been able to fit in a trip to Summerhill before then,” returned her friend.

“Madge rang me at quarter past nine this morning,” continued Hilda, and Nell nodded, knowing this was not the change of subject it appeared. “She was very hesitant at first.” Hilda began to chuckle at the memory of that phone call . . .


“Hello Madge. I was told you would ring.”

“Is that why you answered yourself? I was expecting Rosalie.”

“She’s a bit under the weather today. Matron’s kept her in bed.”

“Oh? Nothing serious I hope?”

“I don’t know. I hope not, too.”

“Has it anything to do with Jo?”

“What makes you ask that?”

“Jo rang me late last night and said she thought she may have upset Rosalie. I wondered if there was a connection?”

“It is possible. Rosalie nearly gave herself an asthma attack rushing back to ‘warn’ me about something Jo had said. And when I gently suggested to her that Jo’s hints might be an accurate prediction of the future course for the School, she had a full-blown panic attack. It took Nell, Jeanne and me quite some time to calm her down, and I sent her to bed. Matey looked in on her later and she was quite concerned. And then this morning she wasn’t in her room.”

“Have you found her? Oh yes — you said Matey had kept her in bed.”

“Yes, she’d gone to Mary Burnett — her cousin you may remember — in the middle of the night, and Mary had got the story out of her. I haven’t heard it all myself yet; I trust Mary to have helped as much as anyone can, and Rosalie was like a limp rag by the time we found her this morning with Mary, and went to bed quietly enough. I think telling the whole tale to Mary has been a release, but I don’t know what else may be needed. I wonder if Jem could find time to speak to her. I gather she told him something of it when she decided that the job of his Secretary was impossible for her, and he and you arranged for her to transfer to the School?"

“I’d forgotten that. She told him at the time that she found all the young men around the San were — ‘upsetting’, I think was the word Jem said she’d used — Hilda! You said you’d suggested a future course for the School? Are you, are we —”

“If you mean do I think the School should become coeducational, Madge, then the answer is yes, but only if we do it in a proper manner and with everyone in agreement with the way things go forward. Nell and I went to see Bedales in Hampshire at the end of last week —”

“So that’s why you both went —”

“And we were hoping to get to Summerhills before Easter. But I’m not sure it will be possible; Nell has this conference in America.”

“I know the headmaster of Summerhills. He’s invited me to go and look over it. Can we go together? Oh Hilda, you don’t know how happy and relieved I am that I don’t have to fight you over this!”

“You may have to fight me over some parts of it, Madge. I won’t be pushed into doing anything I don’t believe would be for the best of the pupils in my care. But we certainly don’t need to fight over the principle. I think we are both on the same side.”

. . .“I really believe she thought I would reject all her suggestions out of hand. I think I took the wind out of her sails somewhat when I told her where we had been and what our thoughts were about it.”

Nell joined in with her laughter. “So are we all on the same side now?” she enquired.

“We were never on different sides. We just thought we might be.”

“Hmm. So when do we go to Summerhills?”

“What about tomorrow? A flying visit, Madge says, but I’ve looked at the timetable and I think we could both get away, even if Rosalie is still laid up.”

“Yes, I’m worried about her. Do we know what set it all off?”

“She’s told Mary Burnett about a distressing incident ten or twelve years ago. I haven’t heard the full tale from herself yet, but the little I have gleaned from Mary explains her behaviour yesterday evening. I had no idea she was carrying such a secret. I’m sure she’ll be the better for having shared it, but she may need counselling before she is entirely healed of the hurt.”

Nell looked serious for a moment and then changed the subject.

“I had an idea in the night,” she announced.


“Most American schools are co-ed aren’t they?”

’Aren’t’ they?”

“You know what I mean — are they not, then, you pedantic grammarian!”

“I believe that is so,” came the composed reply.

“Then I can do some research into how they do things on that score while I’m over there as well as the main tour to see how they arrange their Science courses.”

“So you can.”

“I believe you had thought that out before I had,” said Nell disgustedly. Then she brightened. “I bet there’s one thing I’m ahead of you on, though!”


“What day is it?”


“Yes. What else?”

“Are you playing games, Nell?”

“Would I?”

“You would. In the meantime you might like to borrow my hankie.”

“I have a perfectly serviceable hankie of my own, thank you. Why should I need another?”

“Well, you have a nasty smear of mud on your cheek, and I don’t want to be seen in public with what might pass for a ragamuffin.”

Nell gave a dismayed squawk, spat on her hankie and scrubbed at her right cheek for some minutes.

“The other one. . .”

But Hilda couldn’t quite keep the amusement out of her voice and Nell, looking up and seeing the gleam in her friend’s eye, realised she had been forestalled. Instead of catching Hilda as she had planned, she had been scrubbing a perfectly clean cheek, and no doubt her left was equally pristine.

“April Fool, Nell,” said Hilda Annersley, before Nell had stopped gaping.

Author:  roversgirl [ Mon Mar 31, 2008 9:41 pm ]
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Thanks for that - I hope Rosalie is ok and I'm glad Madge and Hilda and Nell can go forward together and plan this now.

Oh dear, april fool's... am worried about what my own pupils will do tomorrow! :(

Author:  Lesley [ Mon Mar 31, 2008 9:55 pm ]
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Oh well done Hilda - bet Nell gets you back though!

Thanks Ruth.

Author:  di [ Mon Mar 31, 2008 10:01 pm ]
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Am I glad we're still on holiday! Great update, thanks,

Author:  Alison H [ Mon Mar 31, 2008 10:15 pm ]
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:lol: at the April Fool but very worried about what is causing Rosalie's nervousness at the idea of being around men.

Author:  Fiona Mc [ Mon Mar 31, 2008 11:35 pm ]
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:lol: :lol: Love Hilda's April Fool's. Its April Fool's day here now. Hope everyone has a good one with it

Author:  Anjali [ Tue Apr 01, 2008 12:45 am ]
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Love this drabble! Thanks for updating so regularly :P

Author:  Cath V-P [ Tue Apr 01, 2008 12:47 am ]
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I loved that conversation between Hilda and Madge, and its neat little advances and retreats! Interesting comment about being on the same 'side' - it shows how easily these things can become adversarial.

And :lol: at the 'pedantic grammarian' and the April fool!

Author:  Rosalin [ Tue Apr 01, 2008 3:24 pm ]
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Sounds like Nell might have something up her sleeve as well.

Thanks Ruth.

Author:  MaryR [ Tue Apr 01, 2008 7:26 pm ]
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Was that Hilda paying Nell back well in advance for the camels, I wonder. :hiding:

Sorry for missing so much, Ruth, but was left feeling sorry for Rosalie, smiling at Hilda and Madge still dancing round each other, despite their apparent agreement, and then hooted out loud at Hilda and Nell. :twisted:

Thank you.

Author:  PaulineS [ Tue Apr 01, 2008 8:32 pm ]
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Thanks Ruth

Author:  abbeybufo [ Mon Apr 07, 2008 10:23 pm ]
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Just a little bit tonight :D

Later that morning the two heads joined the staff for a quick drink before they were all due to go into Mittagessen, at which point Hilda was unaccountably served a sweetened coffee.

It was adequate for an ad hoc revenge, reflected Nell from the opposite side of the room as she witnessed the resultant grimace and stifled squeak — and well worth the sacrifice of part of her sugar ration.


The following day was something of a rush. They were picked up at 6 o’clock in the morning by Madge, in Jem's car with Andreas, the Russells’ chauffeur — amongst his other many and various talents — in the driving seat, and so began the six-hour journey to Suffolk. It was a tedious cross-country route, though parts of it were familiar to one or more of them. Stratford-upon-Avon of course they all knew, and Hilda wondered aloud what the two new young male leads who would be playing in Cymbeline and The Tempest later that month, would make of their parts. Neither Nell nor, more surprisingly, Madge, who was usually well aware of current theatrical developments, had heard of either Donald Sinden or Paul Schofield, nor yet of Joy Parker, the young lady who would take the female leads.

Their route lay almost exactly due east, and they were soon within sight of the radio station at Daventry. They passed through Northampton, then headed for Cambridge, where they stopped for a quick coffee. Midday saw them leaving Saxmundham and nearly at their destination; shortly afterwards they drew up outside a large Edwardian building, where Alex Neill and Mary New, who had been looking out for them, were waiting on the front steps.

Author:  Anjali [ Tue Apr 08, 2008 1:17 am ]
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Yay! It's finally time for Summerhill! :trumpet:
Thanks for this, it's fantastic...

Author:  roversgirl [ Tue Apr 08, 2008 6:03 am ]
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Thank you. :)

Author:  Lesley [ Tue Apr 08, 2008 6:12 am ]
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Thanks Ruth - can just see Nell smiling sweetly at Hilda as Hilda attempts to drink the coffee. :lol:

Author:  di [ Tue Apr 08, 2008 6:57 am ]
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Nice one, Nell! I wonder what they''ll make of Summerhill. Didn't Princess Anne send one of her children to a 'forward thinking school', similar to Summerhill?
Thanks for the update.

Author:  MaryR [ Tue Apr 08, 2008 2:46 pm ]
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I actually get to meet my heroine??? :shock: Squee!!!!!

Better calm down before she gives me that icy glare! :roll:

Thanks, Ruth - especially for the revenge. :D

Author:  Sugar [ Tue Apr 08, 2008 3:44 pm ]
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Loved the revenge. Wonder what they will make of Summerhill?

Author:  PaulineS [ Tue Apr 08, 2008 6:31 pm ]
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Thanks for the up date. Hope they enjoy Summerhill.
Princess Anne went to Bedales herself.

Author:  Vick [ Tue Apr 08, 2008 10:46 pm ]
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Just caught up! Loved the April Fools :lol:

Thanks abbeybufo :D

Author:  Fiona Mc [ Wed Apr 09, 2008 12:39 am ]
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Thanks Ruth

Author:  abbeybufo [ Sat Apr 12, 2008 10:57 pm ]
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You may all be amused to learn that on Thursday morning this week someone did the same thing to me that Nell did to Hilda in my last post - i.e. give me a cup of sweet coffee - quite by mistake; she'd got my mug mixed up with a colleague's . . . Hilda exacting her revenge on me, do you think? :lol: :shock: :lol:

Anyway we have finally managed to get to Summerhill and have a look round . . .

Alex Neill was very proud of all the repairs, restoration and decorating he had done to the house, which had been requisitioned by the Army during the War, and returned to the School in a very poor state. There was still much to do; even now two of the boarding houses were little more than sheds, and despite now being equipped with running water and bathrooms, were and would be for many years, affectionately referred to as shacks. Indeed ‘Shack’ was already the semi-official term for those who, at the Chalet School, would have been termed the ‘Middles’. Younger children were ‘House’, as they lived in the main building, and the older group were ‘Cottage’, since two cottages on the estate housed the boys and girls of over fifteen years of age. Much of this information was imparted over a hearty lunch in the canteen, although they would see a great deal for themeselves during the afternoon. Children were coming and going the whole time, the visitors were impressed with the businesslike air of most of them, and the fact that many came to speak to Neill or Mary, quite unselfconsciously — and not at all impolitely — and were introduced to the guests as a natural consequence of their having come to speak. Even quite small children had not the slightest awe of their headmaster, and he obviously saw himself as a father-figure for them all.

The party had split after lunch, with Alex Neill taking Madge and Nell, leaving Hilda with her old friend. As Neill himself taught Algebra, Geometry and Metalworking, Nell was more interested these subjects, and naturally Madge preferred to see what he would have to show of the buildings and grounds, whereas Hilda and Mary were both more attuned to history, literature and languages. It had been agreed that on such a short visit they could not all three expect to see everything, nor indeed explore the whole twelve acres of grounds, so this ensured they would have seen most things between them, and they would compare notes during the drive home.

Towards the end of the afternoon Hilda and Mary found themselves near a summerhouse in the school grounds. It had become apparent to Hilda that Mary was not happy, and she had determined to find out why, and to see whether she might be in a position to do anything about it. So she suggested that they sit for a little while and look out at the sports fields.

“Mary, forgive me for interfering,” began Hilda, “but you look troubled. Is there anything I might help with?”

Mary looked at her old friend, tears welling in her eyes, “I don’t think anyone else would have noticed,” she replied, “and I don’t know that anyone can do anything.”

“Try me.” Hilda’s voice was gentle and her blue eyes soft.

At this kindness Mary nearly broke down completely, but her training and long experience as a teacher enabled her to retain a measure of control, as Hilda perceived, which only served to heighten the considerable respect she already had for her friend.

“I just feel rather lost,” came the response. “I love the children here, but I don’t really feel I am getting anywhere with more than a few of them. It seemed such a challenge to come here and help to put Alex’s ideas into practice. He’s a good man,” she continued, almost defensively, “but he expects the children to be better than some of them are — and that causes problems for some of the others—”

Hilda nodded, knowing how a few overbearing pupils could disrupt a class — even though they were not necessarily evilly intentioned — were there not a strong school ethos to ensure all the teaching staff treated everyone fairly and forestalled any signs of bullying.

“— and I don’t like East Anglia,” Mary was continuing. “I’m used to hills and woods. This flat land doesn’t feel like home at all; the skies are too big. Although I’m from the Midlands, all my family is now in Cheshire and Wales. I miss them; I can’t get to see them as often as I would wish, especially at the moment because of petrol rationing. Even in the holidays it is a long day’s journey from here to see them.”

Once again Hilda was nodding thoughtfully.

“Mary, I can’t promise anything,” she began. “It isn’t entirely my decision — Madge and Nell have to be part of any staffing appointments made. But if the Chalet School does go co-educational, as seems very possible, and if we take on more staff as a consequence of that, would you be interested in applying for a post there? In Armishire we are much closer to your family home — and we will certainly not become as lax in discipline as even Bedales, let alone here, seem to us to be. That isn’t a necessary part of going co-ed, I’m quite certain.”

By this time Mary really had broken down, though from the smile she gave through her tears, Hilda was sure of her answer.

Author:  crystaltips [ Sat Apr 12, 2008 11:24 pm ]
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Am I the first to post? How exciting.
Have caught up with the last several posts & Rosalie's story. This is getting very interesting. I always wondered how the CS would manage as a mixed school & now you're going to tell me. :D

Thanks, Abbeybufo.

Author:  Lesley [ Sun Apr 13, 2008 7:25 am ]
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Glad Hilda has mentioned that the discipline side is one thing that is not going to change - and that she can help her friend.

Thanks Ruth.

Author:  Alison H [ Sun Apr 13, 2008 8:37 am ]
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Author:  di [ Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:15 am ]
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Mary would be a useful asset to the C.S. if they do go Co-ed as there are bound to be teething problems and she may be able to forstall disaster.

Thanks Ruth.

Author:  PaulineS [ Sun Apr 13, 2008 3:58 pm ]
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Mary wouls certainly be an asset, with her experience of teaching co-ed and of diifering styles.

Author:  MaryR [ Sun Apr 13, 2008 4:54 pm ]
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Oh, sigh! A job with my heroine!! :roll: Bless you, Ruth!

Seriously, Hilda has seen the problems for herself and she and Nell are clever and wily enough to get round them. Hope Mary can help her friend.

Thanks, Ruth.

Author:  Elder in Ontario [ Sun Apr 13, 2008 5:37 pm ]
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Just caught up with a load of this - I, too, am glad to see that Hilda is not going to agree to a co-ed Chalet School without maintaining the original school's standards of discipline. And what a golden opportunity for Mary, too, if it comes off - quite apart from being a wonderful addition to the teaching staff, she could certainly help with any problems from the point of view of those who might be expecting a relaxation in discipline!

Thanks, Abbeybufo

Author:  Mona [ Sun Apr 13, 2008 7:37 pm ]
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Mary would indeed be an asset.


Author:  leahbelle [ Mon Apr 14, 2008 5:19 pm ]
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Mary would be a great asset.

Thank you, Ruth.

Author:  Alex [ Mon Apr 14, 2008 5:25 pm ]
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abbeybufo wrote:
“— and I don’t like East Anglia,” Mary was continuing. “I’m used to hills and woods. This flat land doesn’t feel like home at all; the skies are too big.

I can believe that, when I'm not in East Anglia I find the sky is too small!

Thanks, abbeybufo.

Author:  Tara [ Tue Apr 15, 2008 12:02 am ]
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Just caught up with loads of this and have really enjoyed it.
Interesting that there are problems with the relaxed attitude of the school - it's clearly not working for everyone, despite the advantages. No, I can't see either Nell or Hilda changing their views on discipline and hard work, even if they end up teaching orangutans! Sure, on the other hand, that they'll identify and use the best bits of the different philosophies.
Ready to die with envy of Mary!!!!
Thank you, Ruth.

Author:  abbeygirl [ Fri Apr 18, 2008 1:14 pm ]
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the skies are too big.

Seems to me we've had this conversation before Ruth! I know last time we went to Cleeve I was feeling claustrophobic with all those hills and couldn't wait to get home to a place where the huge skies blaze orange or red or purple and I can look from my bedroom window and see for miles... Am enjoying this story though - keep up the good work!

Author:  abbeybufo [ Sat Apr 19, 2008 4:23 pm ]
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Sorry about the gap - RL getting busy, though not, thankfully, in a problematic way.

Yes Fi, remembered that conversation, though I have noted before the division of the world into pro- and anti- big skies people :lol:

There will be 2 or 3 more posts in this part, which will take us up to the announcement of the decision to the School at large. Then I propose to start Part 2 of 'Jo's Boys' to take us through some of the adjustment period, including the 'missing' term between Three Go and Island

“So,” said Madge, almost before they were out of sight of the Summerhill buildings, “what do you think?”

Hilda and Nell looked at each other and then back at Madge.

“There are many things we like and others, possibly more, that we don’t—” began Hilda.

“— including some aspects that Bedales dealt with better,” added Nell.

“I wish I had been with you for that!” Madge was still inclined to be a little sore that she had not taken part in that visit. Hilda and Nell on the other hand, whilst acknowledging that it would have been good for Madge herself to see the place, could not help being glad that they had had that magical weekend to themselves.

“You could always go next term,” replied Nell. “I’m sure Hilda would ask Susan arrange it for you.”

“But the basic principle of coeducation,” continued Hilda as if there had been no interruption, though she had waited for them to finish speaking before beginning again herself, “is one with which I think we are all in agreement. We have seen various ways in which it can be put in to practice, none of which need contradict any of the traditions we have in place at the Chalet School, save only the official acceptance of boys as well as girls in the School proper. I think we can adopt the aspects we like, and adapt, or even ignore, those we don’t. The Chalet School ethos will not change, we are adding to it. It remains to decide exactly how we are to plan it.”

“We already have a sprinkling of boys within the Kindergarten and Junior School who would be ready to go into the School proper next September,” Nell carried on. “We want to keep them, and perhaps some of their friends when they reach the age they would otherwise be planning to go to a boys’ school, and beyond Common Entrance.”

Madge had been listening carefully, a small smile beginning to curl at her lips, “I am so very relieved that you are both in agreement! I was so worried about your reactions. I can’t believe I didn’t dare talk to you about it before! I was wondering what to do when Jo had Stephen — and when Charles came along it was even more pressing, but I’d met Alex Neill by then, so I knew co-ed boarding was a possibility. Now Mike is here —”

“And the triplets are doing well in the First Form,” Nell finished for her. “I vote we continue with a staged introduction, but do it openly.”

“One for me,” murmured Madge.

“Certainly an announcement that we will accept boys to the age of thirteen from next year seems sensible.” Hilda was taking the role of Chairman here, she knew, which was properly Madge’s as the School Founder and a major shareholder, but she wanted to summarise the discussion and lay down some parameters. Seemingly at present Madge was happy that she do so. “We need to have some run-in time — and we’ll need to employ more staff if, as we expect, numbers will rise with the extra boys.”

“But will we lose any of the girls?” Nell wanted to know.

“A few perhaps,” Hilda had thought about this, “some parents will withdraw their daughters because they want a purely single-sex environment.”

“A letter to parents, then, at the beginning of next term — or even just before term starts if we can manage it Hilda?” decided Madge. “Then anyone who wants to take their daughters away can give near enough the full term’s notice — we can include that we will accept that — if they don’t like the idea, or enter their sons if they do!”

“And announce to the girls in September — and any boys we have by then — that in two years time the age limit will rise to fifteen, and to eighteen two years after that; we may get some sixth form entrants,” Hilda agreed. “That will reassure them all that a Chalet School education with all that means, will be available throughout a full school career to any boy who is accepted by us from now onward.”

The rest of the journey was spent discussing smaller details and arrangements, but the principles were now firmly established in the minds of all three grandees of the Chalet School, and it seemed that all the strains and difficulties that had soured the relationship between Lady Russell and her headmistresses for several years were now overcome by the force of their mutual enthusiasm.

As the car skirted Armiford in the dark of the late evening on the road to Howells, Hilda sighed. The other two turned to her in some concern; had she thought of a problem they had not already discussed?

“I was just thinking about Rosalie,” she explained, and sighed again.

Author:  MaryR [ Sat Apr 19, 2008 4:30 pm ]
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Glad Hilda took control of it all there, and made known her views. And, as always, she's the one who thinks of someone in trouble, namely Rosalie - let's hope she can find some means of helping her.

Thanks, Ruth.

Author:  Alison H [ Sat Apr 19, 2008 5:07 pm ]
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Thanks Ruth :D .

Author:  Lesley [ Sat Apr 19, 2008 5:17 pm ]
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all the strains and difficulties that had soured the relationship between Lady Russell and her headmistresses for several years disappeared almost as if they had never occurred.

That's pretty impressive!

Thanks Ruth.

Author:  abbeybufo [ Sat Apr 19, 2008 7:20 pm ]
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Lesley wrote:
all the strains and difficulties that had soured the relationship between Lady Russell and her headmistresses for several years disappeared almost as if they had never occurred.

That's pretty impressive!

Did you miss the qualifier Lesley?

*whistles innocently* :twisted:

Author:  Lesley [ Sat Apr 19, 2008 7:35 pm ]
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Not at all, I was just impressed that several years of strain and difficulty could disappear because of one conversation. :lol:

Author:  Elbee [ Sat Apr 19, 2008 8:43 pm ]
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I'm glad they are all in agreement about the introduction of boys to the CS (and that it will now be done openly!)

Thanks Abbeybufo.

Author:  abbeybufo [ Sat Apr 19, 2008 9:08 pm ]
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Lesley wrote:
Not at all, I was just impressed that several years of strain and difficulty could disappear because of one conversation. :lol:

Hmmm - perhaps I should reword slightly - perhaps 'disappear' isn't the best word . . .

*goes off to think further*

Later: latest post amended - it won't be as easy as it looks.

Thanks, Lesley, for pointing out the ambiguity - or perhaps lack thereof :twisted: :D

Author:  Elder in Ontario [ Sat Apr 19, 2008 11:37 pm ]
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I'm glad to see that they really are 'singing from the same song sheet' - and I'm sure Madge was very much relieved to find Hilda & Nell so ready to accept this change. It might not be 'roses all the way' in the end, but the general will is certainly there. And yes, typical of Hilda to be the one to wonder about Rosalie.

Thanks, Abbeybufo.

Author:  Tara [ Sat Apr 19, 2008 11:55 pm ]
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Glad Hilda kept her hands firmly on the reins there - and that Madge was happy for her to do so. Perhaps the fact that they're starting with young boys will help Rosalie a bit?? But what enormous changes ahead. Wonder how Matey will react ...

Thanks, Ruth, very thought-provoking.

Author:  Cath V-P [ Sun Apr 20, 2008 1:39 am ]
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Ohh, fascinating! Good to see that they are in basic accord over the direction in which to take the school. But if they have had difficulties for several years - which suggests that there were a number of diverging points of view - then I imagine that there are still potential problems ahead.

I know what you people mean about the sky - when we come to England now, it feels as if we can just about reach up and touch it! Which is nice for a change, but I don't think I'd like it permanently. :D

Author:  di [ Sun Apr 20, 2008 10:26 am ]
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I trust Hilda will be able to support Rosalie in her fears; after all there are bound to be more male teachers, I imagine especially when boys up to 18 will be at the school.

Author:  Rosalin [ Sun Apr 20, 2008 3:05 pm ]
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Glad they are all basically in agreement and I hope the details won't cause them too many problems.

Thanks Ruth.

Author:  crystaltips [ Mon Apr 21, 2008 6:23 pm ]
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Thanks Ruth.

I hope that Hilda & the others will be able to help Rosalie make the transition.

Author:  abbeybufo [ Fri May 02, 2008 4:13 pm ]
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Short update at the moment I’m afraid; finding this section a bit sticky :( .

Late though it was, Hilda & Nell took a brief look into the office after Madge dropped them at Plas Howell. They had intended to have a nightcap and to compare their impressions of the day. A note in Rosalie’s neat handwriting was squarely placed in the middle of Hilda’s desk. With a quizzical look at Nell, Hilda opened it.

    Dear Hilda
    I am sorry if this will upset you, but I have gone home. Most things are up-to-date and I think if I come back a week early for next term I can catch up with anything that I may have missed doing now. I know I need to talk to you seriously, and I will do that when I come back, I promise, but at the moment I just need to get away from everything and everybody for a time. Father and Jenny (my stepmother) will give me a quiet restful time — and they don’t know anything about this, so I shan’t be worried by anything while I’m there, and I promise faithfully I won’t brood — well with two little brothers aged 3 and one I can’t see I’ll have time to!

    Thank you for understanding,


Hilda passed this missive to Nell, who read through it and then gave it back to her friend with a wry smile.

“I can’t be sorry that this means you won’t have to undertake a difficult counselling session tomorrow, after the long day we’ve just had,” she remarked. “Although you being who and what you are, I suspect you would have preferred to get it sorted out sooner?”

“How well you know me,” came the weary response. “This will be hanging over both of us until Rosalie comes back — and I shan’t have your support when she does; you’ll be in America by then. I will have another chat with Mary Burnett — though there will be a limit to what she feels able to say to me. Let’s talk of happier things. What did you really think about today?”

“Implying that I wasn’t entirely honest before Madge?”

“Not quite that, but you might have held back?”

“A little I suppose. I was glad you were so firm about our ethos and discipline — not that I expected any different, from you — so I didn’t rant on about some of the things, both at Bedales and Summerhill, that I wouldn’t like to see. For a start, lessons should not be optional!”

“No indeed. I think we are safe enough from that sort of nonsense. Madge is interested at the moment, but she doesn’t want to have the day-to-day running of this place. As long as we are fulfilling her wishes insofar as taking boys, we shall have a clear field in deciding exactly how things are run once they are here. The first stages are agreed and we shall start sending letters out — bother! I sha’n’t have Rosalie here to type them out! Oh well, I can draft them and Madge — and you! — can approve the draft and if they don’t go out until the first week in term, that will have to do.”

“And that’s enough about work for today,” Nell responded, “Come and have a drink.”

And the two friends began preparing to relax before going to bed.

Author:  Alison H [ Fri May 02, 2008 4:15 pm ]
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The two of them work so well together.

Author:  MaryR [ Fri May 02, 2008 4:24 pm ]
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Thnk you, Ruth. I'm not surprised Hilda is sounding so weary.

Author:  Lesley [ Fri May 02, 2008 5:33 pm ]
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Glad to see more of this - Ruth just keep plugging away when you get to sticky bits - they will pass. :lol:

Thank you.

Author:  Emma A [ Fri May 02, 2008 5:51 pm ]
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Good, an update - thanks so much. Interesting development - I wonder if Rosalie will be able to sort out her emotions and try to detach her horrible experience from the reality of dealing with boys at school. The place wouldn't be the same without her!

Do keep going - it's so interesting.

Author:  Elder in Ontario [ Fri May 02, 2008 7:11 pm ]
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I can see why Hilda would have preferred to have her talk with Rosalie before the end of term, but that has been taken out of her hands by Rosalie's leaving.

I suspect that a few weeks of quiet time ( insofar as life with two such young stepbrothers could be called quiet!) right away from the school may help alleviate Rosalie's own reaction. And I also suspect that her stepmother may well 'cotton on' to the fact that all is not well, coax a confession out of her, and do her own bit towards helping the situation.

Thanks, Abbeybufo - good to see this update.

Author:  PaulineS [ Fri May 02, 2008 9:19 pm ]
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Thanks for the update. I hope Rosalie parents can help her.

Author:  Rosalin [ Fri May 02, 2008 11:03 pm ]
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I hope Rosalie doesn't find it too difficult to come back after this.

Thanks Ruth.

Author:  di [ Sat May 03, 2008 6:56 am ]
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Ditto, Rosalin. Thanks, Ruth.

Author:  abbeybufo [ Sat May 03, 2008 12:13 pm ]
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I hope I haven't taken too many liberties with Gill's or Jacynth's circumstances in this post - if anything is too glaring, please let me know and I will try to incorporate any necessary changes. :D

The weeks of the Easter holiday passed quickly for Hilda. First came the departure of Nell Wilson to America, armed with the addresses of various old girls, and fired with her usual enthusiasm not only to see the places set out on her official itinerary as a member of the Independent Schools Board fact-finding mission, but to look at as many publicly funded schools as she could fit in. Nell felt it incumbent on her to discover all the possible pitfalls that might lie ahead for the step the school was now committed to taking, in order that she and Hilda should be forewarned and thus forearmed.

An unexpected helping hand for the Headmistress came in the shape of Gillian Culver, the recently appointed Head Girl. Her home at present was with her married sister, but that lady was about to move to Kenya, and even had she been finally settled, it would in any event be too far for Gill to travel there for the short Easter break. There had been some talk of her spending the holidays with her great friends. Gay Lambert and Jacynth Hardy, but their home was with Gay’s brother and his wife, and a recent posting meant that family, too was in the process of moving, and whilst they required their own girls at home to help, a visitor, however well-known and well-meaning, was an impossibility.

“So there’s no help for it, old thing,” Gay had been apologetic when Gill told her of the news of her sister’s emigration, “Ruth will be run off her feet with the move and the children to cope with. Jacynth and I will do what we can, of course, but we can’t manage with anyone else — we’ll be sharing rooms if not beds anyway this time.”

“I don’t at all mind staying here,” responded her friend. “The country hereabouts is lovely in the spring, and I can ask the Abbess if there’s anything she wants me to do for her — it can’t be easy running a place like this, and Miss Dene going home early for the holidays may have left her with all sorts of things that need doing. I can type quite accurately, if not very fast yet, and I want to learn shorthand too.”

“Ah yes, your business studies ambition!” laughed Jacynth, who until now had been a silent witness to this conversation. “I’m sorry you can’t come with us, but Gay’s right — and I feel bad myself about plonking myself with them this hols —”

“— which you can jolly well stop feeling, you moke!” returned Gay with vigour. “You’re not ‘plonking’ yourself, as you so elegantly put it, anywhere you aren’t wanted. Your home is with us now, surely you realise that by now.”

Jacynth nodded, still inclined to be a little shy about her position within Gay’s family, who had taken her in three years earlier when her aunt had died, at first through their wish to help any friend of Gay’s. Later they had come to appreciate her undoubted qualities, which she still rather kept under a bushel, and she had taken her place as one of them, repaying Tommy and Ruth so far as she could, by practical and unobtrusive help with their small children.

“Anyway,” continued Gill, “I don’t know why Miss Dene had to rush off — I hope no-one in her family is ill; I heard her say she was going to spend Easter with them — but there must be useful things I can do for Miss Annersley, and it will be good practice.”

    * * * *

So it was that the Tuesday after Easter found Gillian, very composed and with her long chestnut hair newly put up for the occasion, sitting with Hilda Annersley in the library that was her domain. They had spent a quiet Good Friday and Low Saturday, and on Sunday afternoon had taken part, along with the elder Maynard boys, the Russells and the few girls from the lower forms who were staying at the School for the holidays, in a riotous Egg Hunt that Jo Maynard had devised in the gardens of Plas Gwyn.

“Are you really sure about this, Gillian?” Hilda was concerned at the loss of her pupil’s holiday time.

“Quite certain, Miss Annersley!” the Head Girl was emphatic in her reply. “I know I shall need to work for my living, so I may as well begin preparing for it now. I’ve always been fascinated by Miss Dene’s typewriter, and Godfrey gave me an old one to practise on years ago.”

Miss Annersley nodded, she knew Sir Godfrey and his young family were, if not penurious, certainly unable to provide more than a few extra comforts for his younger sister. The eldest of his family, he had succeeded to the baronetcy. Culver Hold, where he and his siblings, Gill included, had lived as children, was a rambling mansion, impossible to heat sensibly, always in need of repairs; in short, a money-sink. He had his own family to provide for now, and his younger brothers and sisters must perforce make their own way. Secretarial work was a respectable occupation, and Hilda could see that it would be a development acceptable to Gillian’s family. A plan began to form in the back of her mind, but at present she said nothing of this to Gill herself.

“Then, my dear,” she continued, “I must take you into our confidence. There are changes coming for the school, and at the moment I have told all the staff, but not a word must get out to the girls until we make the formal announcement. I need to write to all the parents, so your help will be invaluable. Have I your promise not to tell anyone, not even in a letter to Gay and Jacynth, about what we will be doing this holiday?”

“Of course, Miss Annersley.” Gillian was intrigued. “Whatever is going to happen?”

Author:  crystaltips [ Sat May 03, 2008 2:06 pm ]
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Love the friendship between Gay, Jacynth & Gill. It's a shame Gill couldn't go home with them but she'll have the kudos of being first to get to know about the changes (of the girls, I mean) & it's always good to be first -just like me now on this latest posting! :lol:

Thanks Abbeybufo

Author:  Elder in Ontario [ Sat May 03, 2008 2:17 pm ]
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That friendship was certainly an enduring one, and it's nice to see this interaction between the three girls. Gill will be able to hone some of her skills, as well as helping Hilda (to say nothing of being the first girl to know what the new plans for the school are). And it's a great tie in to her later career as secretary to Bill at Welsen/St. Mildred's.

Thanks, Abbeybufo.

Author:  Lesley [ Sat May 03, 2008 2:23 pm ]
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Love the link to later events - thanks Ruth. :lol:

Author:  Alison H [ Sat May 03, 2008 4:26 pm ]
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Thanks Ruth :D .

Author:  PaulineS [ Sat May 03, 2008 6:16 pm ]
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Thanks Ruth and the facts acout Gay and Jac are in line with what I remember about them from the books.

Author:  abbeybufo [ Sat May 03, 2008 8:47 pm ]
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Another little bit :D

At the end of the morning, Gill Culver was sitting at Rosalie Dene’s desk, carefully typing copies of the letter Miss Annersley had given her. She had been apprised of the startling fact that the Chalet School was to become mixed, and that the first official intake of Junior boys would start at the School in the following September. She had known, of course, that the kindergarten already included small boys, but they usually left to go to prep school at about eight years of age, whence most would move at thirteen to public school; the path her brothers had followed.

Hilda had been careful to gloss over the tensions there had been between the Heads and the School’s founder, Lady Russell, thankful that these seemed to have eased at the moment. She was glad to be able to give Gill an entertaining account, albeit somewhat edited, of the visit all three, herself, Nell and Madge, had made to Summerhill, and of the weekend she and Nell had spent at Bedales. Without mentioning any names, she implied that new staff, including men, were likely to be appointed to the teaching body, and that it was possible that some from the two schools they had gone to might apply. She explained that the age at which boys would be accepted was to rise, so that those who joined the school in September might, should they so wish, stay at the Chalet School until University Entrance. Lastly, she emphasised that the ethos of the School would not be changing, and that although the two schools she and the others had visited had a name for freedom of expression, and lack of discipline, these were not the elements that they had gone to see; they were looking purely at the practicalities of mixed-sex boarding.

“So you see,” she had concluded, “some girls may leave us, if their parents are unhappy with our new arrangements; we respect those views. I know that you, coming from a family with several brothers, do not see the male sex as anything strange or, I daresay, exciting, but many girls who have no brothers, and who have only attended girls’ schools, may find it difficult to adjust to the real world outside the school, Miss Wilson and I — and Lady Russell, of course,” she added hastily, “— think that is unnecessary, that a well-organised co-educational school can give girls a top education together with a social framework that means they will not be floundering when they leave us.” Hilda paused for a moment, not wishing to go into the details of how girls could ‘flounder’ when they discovered a society of those strange creatures, boys. She was uncertain just how much Gill might be aware of such matters, and now was not the time to ask.

Gill had nodded thoughtfully, but said nothing. Miss Annersley’s next words, though, made her sit up very straight.

“This will mean that by the end of your time as Head Girl, the School will have started on a perilous journey — exciting, to be sure, but dangerous nonetheless. As Head Girl you will be a focus for the girls and boys under your leadership, the standard-bearer into the new era for the School. Will you be our standard-bearer, Gill?”

With shining eyes, the Head Girl had nodded again, emphatically this time. “Yes,” she had said. “I will!”

Now, several hours later as she set another carefully aligned set of School-headed paper, carbon paper and flimsy into the typewriter and moved her ruler down to the next parental address, Gill was wondering what the changes would bring, and how easy it would be to deal with boys who, as she knew from her brothers, could be rumbustious and unruly. Still, if there were to be men on the staff, they would be used to dealing with such situations.

“After all,” she thought with a chuckle, “I can’t imagine anyone, male or female, getting the better of the Abbess or Bill!”

And with that comforting thought, she started typing out the next letter, until interrupted by the gong for Mittagessen.

Author:  Lesley [ Sat May 03, 2008 9:00 pm ]
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abbeybufo wrote:
“After all,” she thought with a chuckle, “I can’t imagine anyone, male or female, getting the better of the Abbess or Bill!”

Love that comment! :lol:

Thanks Ruth.

Author:  Sal [ Sat May 03, 2008 9:37 pm ]
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:D This is really great, Gill's final comment cracked me up! Thanks Ruth

Author:  PaulineS [ Sat May 03, 2008 9:59 pm ]
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thanks for both updates.

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Author:  Alison H [ Sat May 03, 2008 10:14 pm ]
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Quite looking forward to meeting the male teachers - the ones the CS had in the books all seemed to be temperamental, weird or both!

Author:  abbeybufo [ Sat May 03, 2008 10:21 pm ]
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Alison H wrote:
Quite looking forward to meeting the male teachers - the ones the CS had in the books all seemed to be temperamental, weird or both!

You'll have to wait for Part 2 for them, Alison - though of course you have already 'met' some potential ones, albeit briefly :lol:

Author:  Tara [ Sat May 03, 2008 11:08 pm ]
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I feel so sorry for Rosalie, but her dashing off would certainly have made things very difficult for Hilda had it not been for Gill's help. She's a lovely, sensible, mature girl and it's really interesting to see her at this stage.

Well, no, I can't imagine any young limb of Satan getting very far with either the Abbess or Bill. Eating them without salt is the phrase that comes to mind ...

Thanks, Ruth, this is great.

Author:  Rosalin [ Sat May 03, 2008 11:23 pm ]
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I imagine Gill will be dying to discuss it all with someone before the end of the holidays.

Thanks Ruth.

Author:  Elder in Ontario [ Sat May 03, 2008 11:27 pm ]
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Gill's final comment had me laughing there, too - and I agree with Tara that anyone who tries to get the better of either Hilda or Bill will indeed find themselves 'eaten withut salt.'

Thanks, Abbeybufo - I am really enjoying this.

Author:  abbeygirl [ Sun May 04, 2008 9:41 am ]
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A plan began to form in the back of her mind, but at present she said nothing of this to Gill herself.

Very clever Ruth!

Have enjoyed both updates muchly thank you - and glad to see you unblocked!!

Author:  di [ Sun May 04, 2008 10:42 am ]
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2 posts to catch up on - great! I don't really remember much about Gill Culver as a pupil although I do recall her being 'Bill's' secretary at Welsen/'Millies' Good for Hilda for realising Gill's talents could be used for the good of the school at a later date. I wonder how many parents will not send their girls back when the school goes co-ed. I hope not many!
Thanks, Ruth.

Author:  Fiona Mc [ Sun May 04, 2008 1:22 pm ]
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Thanks for the updates Abby

Author:  MaryR [ Sun May 04, 2008 2:38 pm ]
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Gill's willingness to offer help has enabled Hilda to prepare her for the important role she will play as Head Girl. I did like her healthy respect for the Heads' tongues. (No slippery chairs here!! :rofl: )

Thanks, Ruth. :D

Author:  Cath V-P [ Mon May 05, 2008 4:08 am ]
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How nice to see Gillian involved like this, and her support will undoubtedly be of great value to Hilda and Nell as this idea really gets off the ground.

Thank you Ruth.

Author:  crystaltips [ Mon May 05, 2008 10:12 pm ]
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Thanks Ruth, this is so fascinating.

Loved the final comment - but would also like to see someone of the male persuasion trying - and failing of course! Hope the drabble continues & shows a fully fledged co-ed school.

Author:  Anjali [ Tue May 06, 2008 1:46 am ]
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I'm really enjoying this alternative universe, Ruth - it's so real!
I love the way you've fleshed out the characters, and the relationship between Madge and the Heads - which EBD never showed us...Thanks.

Author:  Emma A [ Tue May 06, 2008 7:50 pm ]
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I'm agreeing with everyone's comments! This is fascinating, and so well-drawn. Thanks very much.

Author:  abbeybufo [ Fri May 09, 2008 10:29 pm ]
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Thanks for all the kind comments - have some more . . . :D

Meanwhile Rosalie was not having such a good Easter holiday. She had persuaded Matron that she was well enough to get up on the Tuesday, after being kept in bed all day on Monday following her disturbed night. Matey had not wanted her to go home without seeing Hilda, but Rosalie had argued that she would lose a whole day if she waited until Hilda and Nell returned from their visit to Summerhill, so Gwyneth had consulted Jeanne de Lachenais and Mary Burnett. After some discussion, they all agreed that home was the best place for her, and she had written her note to Hilda and departed.

She still felt rather guilty about going early for the holiday, and at pleading extra work and general tiredness to explain her pallor to her father and stepmother, who had been anxious about her since their receipt of the wire she sent ahead, announcing her imminent arrival. They could see from her demeanour and lassitude that she needed the break, and after the long train journey on Tuesday, had kept her in bed on the Wednesday to help her recover. Despite this she was unprepared for the shock she received at breakfast on Maundy Thursday morning.

Her father was going through his post and, as was his custom, reading out selected passages to his wife. There were more letters than usual, as many of his clergy friends had written with Easter greetings.

“Here’s a message for you, Rosalie,” he remarked genially, looking up from one particularly fat missive. “Stephen Ellis says to tell you that Penny thought you’d like to know Ronnie’s home.” His voice changed to a mildly teasing tone. “Who’s Ronnie—?”

But his question was overtaken by an angry cry from Rosalie, who pushed her chair back from the breakfast table, causing it to fall with a clatter.

“How dare he be back! How dare Mrs Ellis think I’d be interested. I was betrayed by Ronald Morris, and if he thinks I’d ever want to see him again —”

Shaking with rage she started to run from the room. Her father, despite being a large man, but with the advantage of his manoeuvring skills as an ex-rugger-player, moved more swiftly than she, caught her, and enfolded her in a bear-hug.

“Now then old lady, take it easy. There’s something here we don’t understand, and that we haven’t heard about,” he said gently. “I won’t pry into anything you don’t want me to know, but don’t you think telling someone would help? I will listen — non-judgmentally — if you want to get it out of your system, or,” after a quick glance and an answering nod from his wife, “Jenny would be equally willing to hear you out.”

This kindness was too much for Rosalie’s composure, already overstrained, and she burst into a storm of tears. It was obvious that they would get no sense from her immediately, so Jenny Dene led her back to her room, and left her lying on the bed with a cold flannel over her face, promising she would come back in half an hour to see what she might do to comfort her stepdaughter.

When she returned to the breakfast room, Canon Dene was finishing his letter from Stephen Ellis. “Stephen says Rosalie and Ronald were very friendly when she lived in Wood Green while she did her secretarial training; made weekly trips to the cinema, and walked out on Saturday afternoons,” he informed his wife. “I didn’t enquire too much what was going on that autumn, I gathered when I fetched her home that Christmas that she and Ronald had been waylaid by some youths on the way home from their youth club, and she was certainly still bruised and shaken for the first few days. Then she went off to the Sonnalpe, to be Jem Russell’s secretary — Sir James, he is now. It was while Mary was beginning to be so ill—” and he lapsed into silence, thinking of the difficult time that had been, a time of suffering that he and his first wife had tried to protect Rosalie from having to bear. That it might have been wiser and kinder to let her share some of those last months with her mother, he had not considered at the time, but was now beginning to realise.

Jenny put a hand on his shoulder in sympathy, and he covered it with his own. She had not known Mary Dene, for whom Rosalie’s cousin Mary Burnett was named, and she sometimes wondered, as many second wives are apt to do, if she could ever live up to the memory-person that not only her husband, but his parishioners, held in their minds. A wife for nearly five years, now, and the mother of two boisterous sons, one three-and a half, the other just one year old, she had, as yet, managed little time to be active in the parish, though her reputation, had she but known it, was high; most people admiring the way she had taken over running the house and garden, and producing sons, for their well-loved rector.

After a minute he looked up at her and smiled wanly. “I love you, too, you know—”

“I know it. And I love you — and I care for Rosalie, as far as she will let me. Something or someone has hurt her very badly, one assumes it is to do with this Ronald. Do we both go to her in half an hour, or would you prefer I went on my own?”

Author:  Pat [ Fri May 09, 2008 10:42 pm ]
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I hope they can help her come to terms with this. It's going to be a dreadful shock to them if Rosalie manages to tell them what happened.

Author:  Elder in Ontario [ Fri May 09, 2008 10:51 pm ]
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I still have a sneaking suspicion that Rosalie's stepmother may well be the one to help her come to terms with what happened between herself and Ronnie in Wood Green - if she can persuade her stepdaughter to tell her about it.

I certainly don't think Rosalie's father and stepmother will be censorious. If necessary, Canon Dene may well, by virtue of his position be able to find a 'neutral' professional (ie neither family nor school connected) who can really help her. I do hope so, for Rosalie's own future peace of mind.

Thanks, Abbeybufo - I will look forward to the next part of this.

Author:  Alison H [ Fri May 09, 2008 10:57 pm ]
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Rosalie's father and stepmother sound lovely: I hope they can help her.

Author:  Lesley [ Fri May 09, 2008 10:58 pm ]
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I think both Rosalie's father and her stepmother will help here. Pleased that her father has at least considered that he was wrong to send Rosalie away when her mother was dying.

Thanks Ruth.

Author:  Tara [ Fri May 09, 2008 11:20 pm ]
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Jenny Dene sounds lovely, and her diffidence in relation to the 'memory-person' her predecessor has become is very realistic. Rosalie's father is very loving, too. I do hope they can help her, before she has to give up a job she loves.

Author:  Sugar [ Fri May 09, 2008 11:29 pm ]
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Thanks for the update. Let's hope Rosalies Dad and stepmum can help her.

Author:  Rosalin [ Sat May 10, 2008 12:43 am ]
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Poor Rosalie, what a nasty shock just when she was trying to escape for a bit. I hope her father and step-mother will be able to help her, they both sound nice.

Thanks Ruth.

Author:  di [ Sat May 10, 2008 8:36 am ]
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Thanks, Ruth. Poor Rosalie, just when she thought she could get some peace that horrible Ronnie rears his ugly head. I do hope her father and stepmother will be able to help her deal with what happened.

Author:  PaulineS [ Sat May 10, 2008 11:43 am ]
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Thanks you, I hope that Roslie's breakdown and the understanding of her father and step-mother will help her healing after so long.

Author:  crystaltips [ Sat May 10, 2008 10:02 pm ]
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Rosalie's father & stepmother sound lovely. I hope that Rosalie can be pursuaded to confide in them - I'm sure that they will be able to help Rosalie come to terms with what happened. I hope that they can help her to move on too.

Author:  Anjali [ Sun May 11, 2008 10:02 am ]
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Wow, what awful timing from Ronnie, turning up just when Rosalie's trying to get over her past....but great update.

Author:  MaryR [ Sun May 11, 2008 2:47 pm ]
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Better she break down here, where she is known and loved. And then can return to school to face what must be faced, if the plans go ahead...

Thanks, Ruth

Author:  abbeybufo [ Sun May 11, 2008 9:14 pm ]
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Another bit

Three hours later Jenny Dene slipped into her husband’s study. She had looked in on Rosalie when the half-hour was up, but found her to be sleeping, and realising the exhaustion that she must be suffering, had left her to have her sleep out. Now, she had heard Rosalie stir, and was alerting Malcolm Dene. Her daily cleaning lady, a motherly soul, was watching the boys in the garden — a task which that good lady preferred in many ways to cleaning, which fact Jenny was happy to take advantage of when she needed to, and certainly today. She knew Mrs Loveridge would keep a close eye on the lads and she would only be called if there were an emergency.

“I’m just going up to see how Rosalie is now. You’re sure you don’t want to come too?”

“Only if you need me. I’ll come if you call, but I can’t help thinking that Rosalie will be able to cope better with one person at a time at the moment, and she may find it easier to talk to another woman.”

“Fair enough. I’ll tell you what I can, when I know what it’s all about.”

And with that tactful promise, Jenny went back upstairs.

“Rosalie, are you awake enough to talk? Can you tell me about it?”

Rosalie was feeling a little more composed, and welcomed her stepmother with a small smile.

“I know I need to talk to someone,” she agreed with a sigh, “although I’ve been through it all once with Cousin Mary, but I keep going round in circles about what to do next. And I should talk to Hilda — Miss Annersley, the senior Headmistress, you know — before term starts again. I’m afraid I ran away from her on Tuesday.”

“We wondered why you’d come home early,” responded Jenny. “It all sounds rather muddled. And what was so dreadful about Stephen Ellis’s message to set you off this morning?”

Rosalie reddened. “That was silly. But it made me so angry. I had pushed the whole episode to the back of my mind, and then, within a week, two things happen to haul it, and the nightmares it caused, right to the front again.”

“It isn’t always wise to push things to the back of your mind,” commented Jenny quietly. “They have a nasty way of resurfacing. Is it too painful to talk about, or should we lance the boil?”

Rosalie gave a rueful laugh, “Lancing the boil is exactly what needs doing,” she agreed, “but it doesn’t seem fair on you to have to clear up the mess!”

“I married your father for better or worse,” Jenny reminded her, “and to misquote the Book of Ruth, ‘his people are my people’ — and that includes you! I wouldn’t begin to think of taking your mother’s place in your feelings, but it does seem to me you need a good friend now, and I would very much like to be that friend.”

“Oh Jenny!” Rosalie’s eyes filled with tears. “I don’t know you as well as I’d like to — I’ve lived away so much, and I will admit that I was shocked and upset when Dad married again — there, I’ve said it! Are you angry with me?”

“Of course not. It’s a natural reaction.” Jenny had noticed with pleasure the informal ‘Dad’ that Rosalie had used, a contrast to the ‘Father’ she had been in the habit of saying in recent years, both to Jenny and, to his sorrow, to Malcolm Dene himself. “More to the point, can you feel able to trust me with your story? Or would you rather I call Malcolm?”

“I’ll tell you — but I should tell him, too. I don’t know if I can bear to see his reaction, though —”

“Would it do if you told me now, and I will tell him, faithfully, the whole story this afternoon?”

“Yes. Oh yes, that would be so much better! You are too good to me, Jenny, when I resented you for so long,” and the tears began to stream down Rosalie’s cheeks again.

“Are you sure you’re up to it now?” Jenny enquired gently, putting aside the small hurt that Rosalie’s remark had caused, though quite understanding the reason for it, and glad that it had been in the past tense.

“We agreed the boil needed lancing.” Rosalie was using her handkerchief briskly. “It will be painful, but if I thought it might mean I wouldn’t have the nightmares again — perhaps that I wouldn’t need to hand in my notice—”

“Whatever can it be to make that necessary?” thought Jenny, but said nothing at present.

“— it was when I went to London for my Secretarial course in 1934 . . .”

Those of you who have missed it may read the whole story here. I shan't repeat it in these posts, though I may quote from it or allude to it in my next post or two.

Author:  roversgirl [ Sun May 11, 2008 9:16 pm ]
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What a sad update - glad she feels able to tell people though - Thanks :)

Author:  Alison H [ Sun May 11, 2008 9:20 pm ]
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Glad she's decided to talk about it.

Author:  di [ Sun May 11, 2008 9:31 pm ]
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Hope Rosalie is able to exorcise the ghosts of Ronnie and the Moseley lot and that Jenny is able to help her to make sense of all her experiences. Love Jenny's misquote 'his people are my people', just the right thing to say to help Rosalie feel she can confide in her.
Thank you, Ruth.

Author:  PaulineS [ Sun May 11, 2008 9:35 pm ]
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Love Jenny's response to Rosalie's upset state and her willingnes to listen and then tell Rosalie's father.

I hope between them they can find a solution.

Author:  Elder in Ontario [ Sun May 11, 2008 10:01 pm ]
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Jenny's response was just so 'right' (sorry about the grammar, but it's the best way to express what I mean). Hopefully once she has heard the whole story from Rosalie, she will be able to help her come to terms with it all. And I'm sure that once Rosalie *does* tell her the whole story, she herself will feel very relieved that it's all out in the open.

I think the 'boil' is about to be well and truly lanced, though the healing may take rather longer.

Thanks, Abbeybufo.

Author:  Lesley [ Sun May 11, 2008 10:46 pm ]
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Jenny is a lovely person - so pleased Rosalie has her there.

Thanks Ruth. (Book of Ruth eh..... :wink: )

Author:  Sugar [ Sun May 11, 2008 10:53 pm ]
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Really glad Rosalie has Jenny (I nearly wrote Ruth!) to help her unravel and regroup and find a way of solving the underlying cause of her unhappiness. We all need someone like that.

Author:  Fiona Mc [ Mon May 12, 2008 1:28 am ]
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Very glad Jenny is being so understanding about everything

Author:  Cath V-P [ Mon May 12, 2008 2:36 am ]
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Jenny's reactions are so right, even down to her noticing Rosalie's softening towards her father and the 'small hurt' caused by the open acknowledgement of past resentment. Hopefully, she will be able to help Rosalie see that she can move past this.

Thank you Ruth.

Author:  MaryR [ Mon May 12, 2008 9:32 am ]
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Lancing the boil is good, Rosalie, and you will feel so much more hopeful after it, and maybe able to face the changes for the school. How lucky you were in your step-mother.

Thanks, Ruth.

Author:  Rosalin [ Mon May 12, 2008 1:47 pm ]
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Glad Jenny is going to help Rosalie 'lance the boil'. If this incident has helped Rosalie overcome her resentment of her father and step-mother then it does at least have a positive side.

Thanks Ruth.

Author:  crystaltips [ Mon May 12, 2008 2:02 pm ]
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So glad that Rosalie feels she can confide in Jenny - and that their relationship is improving so well. I'm sure that Jenny & Malcolm are going to be very supportive of Rosalie.
Thanks, Ruth

Author:  Tara [ Mon May 12, 2008 11:33 pm ]
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Lovely to see their relationship growing before one's eyes. If lancing the boil also includes getting rid of the hurt caused by her father's remarriage, and remaking her relationship with both him and Jenny, it might be worth all the trauma.
Thank you, Ruth.

Author:  abbeybufo [ Mon May 19, 2008 9:29 pm ]
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I hope this is right . . . Jenny is finding it qute hard to cope with the revelations, and to know what to do for the best. [and I'm having problems with the broadband connection here - grrr! :evil: ]

. . . that had been last Thursday; now it was Monday afternoon, and Jenny was ensconced with her knitting, in the sunny bay window of the rectory sitting-room, watching as Rosalie laughed and played in the garden with her two small stepbrothers, and wondering if she had done enough to help.

    * * * *
She had been more disturbed than she cared to admit by the story Rosalie had told, and had asked a few pertinent questions at the end. She had not interrupted the telling, though at times things Rosalie said had cried out for comment. But she had restrained herself nobly. Her first question had taken Rosalie by surprise.

“What did you feel about Ronald himself?”

“Feel? What do you mean? I could never trust him again!”

“I meant before the evening you were attacked. You spent quite a lot of time with him. Obviously Mrs Ellis thought you enjoyed his company; you went to the cinema nearly every week, and you walked in the park with him on fine Saturday afternoons, and to the club.”

“That’s how we got talking — the cinema, I mean — after church the first Sunday. Everything else followed from that. At the club I didn’t really see much of him; he was with the older men. I used to talk to the girls and boys of my own age. They were all fascinated by my tales of school in Austria, and quite a few were learning German; I used to help them with their homework—”

“Helping future fifth columnists,” thought Jenny, but kept her counsel. Aloud she asked, “How old were you then?”

“Just eighteen. I’d not long left school.”

“And Ronald. What were your feelings for him?” Jenny asked again.

“I don’t understand. He was just there.”

“You went to romantic films; did he ever get romantic?”

“He didn’t kiss me or anything soppy like that!” Rosalie was indignant, and Jenny remembered again how young she had been at the time of the incident, and how sheltered, by both the school and her parents then, and by the school since, for it was evident that she was completely unaware, even now, of the question Jenny was really asking.

“I’m sorry. I don’t mean to pry,” she said now, “It was too personal a question, perhaps, but I was worried you had felt — affection shall we say? — for Ronald, which might have made the shock of his betrayal even greater than it was.”

“It’s all right. I see what you mean now. Mrs Ellis used to tease me about him, you know — even Jill called him my boyfriend,” she paused and for the first time wondered what had happened to Jill in the intervening years. “We were kept young at school,” she continued, confirming Jenny’s previous thought, “and we really never had much to do with boys. We were given good history and political ‘current affairs’ teaching — and biology,” she added with a grin, “— but somehow we didn’t apply it to real life; it was all school subjects. We didn’t really think about getting married and having families as anything that would happen to us, even though it had manifestly happened to our parents. Ronald used to talk about the future, as if we’d be together for a long time, but I didn’t really take much notice. He was pleasant company most of the time, but I don’t think at that age I was capable of any romantic feelings . . . I’m not sure that I am now,” she said with an air of wonder, “I have always avoided men — or at least being with men my own age — to such an extent since that Saturday,” she shuddered, “so I suppose I’ve never properly grown up?”

Jenny sent up a prayer for guidance that she might say the right thing, and wished that her husband had been there to give his spiritual input.

After a moment’s silence she said, “Who is to say what grown up is? It isn’t all to do with marrying and having babies, or even with relationships with the opposite sex. Being grown up is thinking about other people as well as yourself; considering how your actions will affect other people — those around you and those further afield — and about finding your place in life and fulfilling that place to the best of your ability, whether that place is wife and mother, or school secretary,” she finished with a gentle smile.

Rosalie had thought about this. “Then it’s up to me? Growing up is an inside thing?” she was coming near to realising the truth.

“Everyone finds her own way,” Jenny replied. “Sometimes friends can help. But unless you are ready inside your mind, it doesn’t happen.”

“I see,” and Rosalie lapsed into silence.

Jenny knew she had said enough, and kissed her gently on the forehead. “I’ll leave you in peace now. Stay in bed for the rest of the day, and we’ll see about you getting up for a short time tomorrow.”

    * * * *

On Thursday afternoon Jenny had, as she had promised, told Malcolm the whole tale. The vehemence of his reaction had surprised her, and she was the more distressed by it when she realised that most of his anger was directed at himself. He had, he felt, abandoned Rosalie to the wicked city; had neglected her; had been too engrossed in Mary’s illness to remember he had a daughter as well as a wife. He was still, Jenny realised now, as she checked her stitches, and looked out again at Rosalie, now playing ‘catch’ in the garden with the boys, finding it difficult to forgive himself. Her husband and stepdaughter would have a hard row to hoe, she thought to herself, before they would either of them overcome the effects of that autumn, nearly twelve years ago.

Author:  roversgirl [ Mon May 19, 2008 9:44 pm ]
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Thanks for the update - Hope she, and all ehr family, can get past it. Thanks :)

Author:  Sal [ Mon May 19, 2008 9:46 pm ]
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((((Rosalie and her family))))

Jenny was really supportive there. Thanks Ruth

Author:  Elder in Ontario [ Mon May 19, 2008 9:47 pm ]
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Her husband and stepdaughter would have a hard row to hoe, she thought to herself, before they would either of them overcome the effects of that autumn, nearly twelve years ago.

Too true, but at least Rosalie trusted Jenny sufficiently to tell her the whole story - and Jenny showed herself well able to help her stepdaughter start to think about why she feels as she does, however much she might have doubted whether she did so or not. And telling her husband was also a huge step in helping Rosalie.

No doubt there will still be some heartache and soul searching before Rosalie fully comes to terms with it all, but I think this is the definitive break through.

Thanks, Abbeybufo - can understand why this is tricky to write. Hope the broadband problems go away soon.

Author:  Alison H [ Mon May 19, 2008 9:52 pm ]
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Hope that they can all come to terms with this.

Author:  Lesley [ Mon May 19, 2008 10:26 pm ]
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Well done Jenny - a difficult thing to do but I think you really helped Rosalie.

Thanks Ruth

Author:  Anjali [ Tue May 20, 2008 2:42 am ]
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Thanks for the update - Jenny is being really insightful - I love all your characters!

Author:  di [ Tue May 20, 2008 6:48 am ]
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That was a lovely post. Jenny handled Rosalie in such a perceptive, yet tender manner to enable her to begin to recover properly from her dreadful experience. I hope Malcolm can also come to terms with his preoccupation with his sick wife to the detriment of his daughter.
Thanks, Ruth.

Author:  Mona [ Tue May 20, 2008 7:09 am ]
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Thank you. Jenny was just lovely there. I hope her guidance helps Rosalie.

Author:  PaulineS [ Tue May 20, 2008 12:29 pm ]
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Thank you for the update. The relationship between Rosalie and Jenny is good.

Author:  Emma A [ Tue May 20, 2008 1:22 pm ]
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That was a lovely update - and I think Jenny said exactly the right things to Rosalie. Hope they can all come to terms with it.

Author:  crystaltips [ Tue May 20, 2008 3:22 pm ]
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Lovely post Ruth, so glad that it's finally out in the open. Jenny has done so well & hopefully Rosalie & her father can begin to deal with this & move on.

Author:  abbeybufo [ Mon May 26, 2008 7:55 pm ]
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Another short piece :D

On Tuesday afternoon the telephone in the Chalet School office at Plas Howell rang, and a moment later Hilda Annersley’s extension buzzed.


“Miss Annersley,” came the voice of Gill Culver, “I have a Mrs Dene on the phone.”

Mrs Dene?”

“Yes, that’s what she said.”

“Very well, then Gillian, thank you; put her through.”

    * * *
“Mrs Dene?”

“Miss Annersley, forgive me for troubling you during the holiday! You won’t know me; I’m Canon Dene’s wife — Rosalie’s stepmother —”

“Ah — is Rosalie well? I have been concerned about her.”

“Not too bad, all things considered. She told me on Thursday what had made her run away from you, and I hope I have been able to help her a little if only by letting her talk herself out —”

“I’m sure you have helped a great deal —”

“— but she couldn’t tell me what had set things off. There was a message in a letter to her father that brought things to a head here, but she said that there would be problems with her staying in her job with you, but she didn’t know how widely known that was, and she couldn’t discuss it with me without your permission. I understand you are aware of the terrible experience she had with the blackshirt youth —”

“Indeed. At least I have been told, at Rosalie’s request, the bare facts by her cousin Mary Burnett, who is — as you will be aware — on the teaching staff here.”

“Yes, she said she’d told Mary the basics, and that Mary had passed that information on to you — and, Miss Annersley, please understand that I am ringing you with Rosalie’s full permission. I wouldn’t like you to think I was trying to talk about her behind her back.”

“I am pleased to hear it; and glad to know that she has found a confidante in you. Can you tell me any more about the time in London? I’m afraid Mary was herself too upset on Rosalie’s behalf for me to feel able to question her too closely on the events.”

    * * *

When Hilda understood the details of the story, and had been told that Ronald seemed to have reappeared on the scene, she looked grave, but Jenny Dene was asking again what the problem was that might affect Rosalie’s continued employment at the Chalet School.

“I sincerely hope she will not feel it necessary to leave,” responded Hilda. “I should be extremely sorry to lose her, but as things stand I can see she might think there will be difficulties. You see, we have recently been discussing turning the school into a co-educational establishment —”

“Poor Rosalie — I can see how that will have upset her.”

“So can I, now. I had no idea of course when the idea was first broached. But the situation here would not be the same as she faced twelve years ago. For a start, she herself is older and more confident in herself — even if she thinks she isn’t. Then, the boys are not all going to appear at once, in a group — or gang! She will know them from when they are quite young. She knows Joey’s six already — Mrs Maynard, that is, who, as Josephine Bettany, was at school with Rosalie and lives quite close to the school. Even if a few boys join at the age of fifteen, the ethos of the school will be already set; there will be no gangs — and no anti-Semitism, racism or any other kind of bullying permitted!”

“I’m pleased to hear you say that, and I will try to tell Rosalie so — indeed I have already said to her that I was sure you would not wish her to resign. But I think she may need more than I am able to do in order to convince her that she will be able to cope. I wonder — would it be an imposition to ask you to come here? Perhaps for lunch — or longer if you can spare the time; we have several spare rooms, it being an old rectory! — so that you and Rosalie can talk this out. I feel it would be better settled before she comes back into the school building, which she may at the moment feel is your territory, but dealt with when she is on ‘home ground’ — don’t you think so?”

“That would be very kind of you. Yes, I should like to visit you — Thursday? I can set some work to be done here, and arrive with you late morning; then, if you are really sure, I will stay for that night and return here on Friday.”

Author:  Lesley [ Mon May 26, 2008 8:20 pm ]
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Glee a further episode of this - Jenny and Hilda between them will, I feel sure, be able to help Rosalie.

Thanks Ruth. :lol:

Author:  Elder in Ontario [ Mon May 26, 2008 8:29 pm ]
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Jennie really is doing everything she possibly can to help Rosalie here - and the idea of bringing Hilda to talk to her at home, rather than on school territory, is an inspired one. It will be very interesting to see the outcome, but I have every confidence that between them, Jennie and Hilda will make Rosalie understand the differences between her unfortunate experience in London and what she will be likely to encounter if the school *does* become co-educational. I sincerely hope that they will be able to show her that she can continue in her job - although I realise that her own happiness and sense of security must come first, she has such a long history with the school that she would be a sore loss.

Thanks, Abbeybufo.

Author:  MaryR [ Mon May 26, 2008 8:42 pm ]
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Jennie and Hilda together will surely be a dream team that even Rosalie can't refuse. :lol:

Thanks, Ruth.

Author:  PaulineS [ Mon May 26, 2008 8:51 pm ]
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Thanks for the update. I hope Hilda and Jenny can help Rosalie

Author:  Alison H [ Mon May 26, 2008 9:54 pm ]
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Thanks for the update :D .

Author:  di [ Tue May 27, 2008 8:24 am ]
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'Good idea, Jennie, Hilda may be able to reassure Rosalie with your help.' At least she is in her own home and may escape for a while if the going gets too difficult for her.
Thank you Ruth.

Author:  Cath V-P [ Wed May 28, 2008 2:40 am ]
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Jenny's response is so very supportive of Rosalie - hopefully she and Hilda will be able to reassure her and she will be able to realise that she can move forward now.

Author:  roversgirl [ Wed May 28, 2008 4:52 am ]
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Thanks for this - Glad Jenny is being so helpful. :)

Author:  Elbee [ Wed May 28, 2008 4:20 pm ]
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I'm sure Hilda and Jenny between them will be able to reassure Rosalie.

Thanks Abbeybufo.

Author:  crystaltips [ Wed May 28, 2008 6:58 pm ]
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Sounds like Hilda & Jenny are going to make a formidable team.

Thanks Ruth

Author:  abbeybufo [ Thu May 29, 2008 9:44 pm ]
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Hilda's on her way to see Rosalie. Meanwhile . . .

Thursday 11 April 1946

Dear Gay and Jac

I’ve been typing letters to parents all week, but Miss Annersley has gone away for a couple of days, so she told me to take this afternoon and tomorrow off, as we are well up-to-date with the job in hand. (And don’t expect me to tell you all about it — one of the first rules of being a secretary is to be discreet about what one is doing; apparently the ‘secret’ bit of the word ‘secretary’ really does mean that!) When Ruth gets the letter for the two of you she’ll probably tell you all about it anyway, but that’s for her, not me, to say.

It’s been odd being the only senior left here. Miss Edwards has stayed for the holidays too, and I’ve hardly seen the few middles and juniors who haven’t gone home. They’ve all been moved into one room together — I’ve been left in my own room, thankfully, though they wouldn’t have wanted the Head Girl in with them, I’m sure! — and from their busy air of secrets and self-importance when I’ve seen them around, and at meals, I’m pretty certain they have a ‘midnight’ arranged; probably for tonight. As they’ve been allowed to go ‘shopping’ in the village, and Teddy and Matey have been keeping a close eye on them I’m sure it is semi-official, so if they’re happy of course I shouldn’t dream of interfering. I shall have to sleep very soundly tonight, whatever I hear going on; I’d hate to spoil anyone’s fun — including Matey’s if she has to ‘dose’ anyone in the morning!

It’s been rather like gracious living here during these hols with so few people here. Meals are taken ‘in state’ all of us round one large table. Of course a lot of the domestic staff must have been on holiday as well. I hadn’t see Karen at all since the end of term until yesterday; and I haven’t seen Megan today, so I reckon they’ll have had half the hol each. And it was new maids this morning, so they must have divided the time between all of them, so each gets some of the break.

I was glad of your note with the new address which arrived yesterday. I didn’t want to send this to the old one, even though you said someone would be going back and forth. I know you’ll all have been frantically busy, but I did hope one or other of you might have found a minute to tell me a bit more about the new place — and how the move went! What’s the new house like? Is it new or old? In a street or a village? Can you see the sea from where you are? Does Ruth like it — and what about the children? I have so many questions, so please, one of you, try and put pen to paper so I can have some news of you before next week when I’ll see you anyway, but we’ll be in the thick of the beginning of a new term. I want to be able to picture you all in your new surroundings!

We’ve had quite good weather here until today — the Abbess will have had a wet journey wherever she’s gone — but it’s picking up this afternoon, so I’ll have a stroll down to the village myself later, and put this in the post.

I’ve had hints from the Abbess yesterday, and Mlle de Lachenais this morning, that there is something planned for the weekend, to include those two, Matey — and me! So I’m looking forward to whatever that might be.

All for now. Please write and tell me all you’ve been doing.



Author:  roversgirl [ Thu May 29, 2008 9:51 pm ]
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What a nice letter - Thanks :)

Author:  PaulineS [ Thu May 29, 2008 9:57 pm ]
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Thank you for the update. Glad Gillian is having an interesting time even if the only senior there.
Hope the middles and junior have a good midnight feast.

Author:  Alison H [ Thu May 29, 2008 9:59 pm ]
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I'm very glad that they actually let the domestic staff have a holiday!

Author:  abbeybufo [ Thu May 29, 2008 10:10 pm ]
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Alison H wrote:
I'm very glad that they actually let the domestic staff have a holiday!

I might not have thought about that if I hadn't read your Karen/Gretchen Series, Alison :D

Author:  Elder in Ontario [ Thu May 29, 2008 10:14 pm ]
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Thanks for that, Abbeybufo - I'm glad that Gill feels she's been enjoying herself, in spite of working hard. And I loved her comments on the domestic staff's holidays, too - the school authorities always did treat them well, as I remember.

Author:  Lesley [ Thu May 29, 2008 10:35 pm ]
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I liked that - especially the 'semi official' midnight - and Gill not wanting to spoil their fun.

Thanks Ruth

Author:  di [ Fri May 30, 2008 8:29 am ]
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I'd totally forgotten that Gill was still at school coping with Rosalie's work while she's not there. What a lovely touch - a semi official midnight feast; the girls will think they've got away with it and the staff may well have forstalled more serious naughtiness.
Thank for the update, Ruth.

Author:  Fiona Mc [ Fri May 30, 2008 12:42 pm ]
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di wrote:
I'd totally forgotten that Gill was still at school coping with Rosalie's work while she's not there. What a lovely touch - a semi official midnight feast; the girls will think they've got away with it and the staff may well have forstalled more serious naughtiness.
Thank for the update, Ruth.

Love the idea of a midnight feast too and that Gill will have to sleep very soundly that night.

Thanks for the updates

Author:  crystaltips [ Fri May 30, 2008 5:21 pm ]
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Glad Gill is coping so well - &
being the Head Girl. Hope that she will get some fun too.
Thanks Ruth

Author:  abbeybufo [ Sat Jun 07, 2008 9:48 pm ]
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Just a little bit tonight.
[Now Fi has finished her story I can go on with this :lol: ]

Hilda’s thoughts were busy as she sat in the train on the way to the little town where Canon Dene had his living. Events from three-and-a-half years ago were replaying in her mind, and she wondered if Rosalie had told her stepmother everything connected with her time in London, and its repercussions. But at the time of the Erisay affair, Rosalie had been so penitent, and had at that point made no mention of the extent of the terror to which she had been subjected — had Rosalie blanked that from her mind? On balance Hilda thought that she probably had; that the realisation of the coming change to coeducation had brought it all to the surface.

Hilda shook her head. Until she spoke to Rosalie herself it was no good speculating. Of course, Rosalie had later been instrumental in the capture of a whole cell of Nazi agents, so had redeemed herself as far as those at the School who were ‘in the know’ were concerned. But Hilda was determined to sort everything out once and for all. And if this Ronald Morris had resurfaced, then she might need to let someone else know, someone who could find out exactly where his war had been spent; and what he had done. . .

Her thoughts had reached this stage as the train drew into the station, and she saw Malcolm Dene waiting on the platform to meet her.

Author:  di [ Sat Jun 07, 2008 9:54 pm ]
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Well! So you were in on Fi's story - I only began to wonder during her last post. Looking forward to - and hoping that Ronald will get his just desserts.
Thanks, Ruth.

Author:  Elder in Ontario [ Sat Jun 07, 2008 9:55 pm ]
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Oh good - another little bit of this - and it really does complement the end of Abbeygirl's Paul Temple story, too! I'm glad Hilda is determined to get to the bottom of everything which is bothering Rosalie, once and for all.

Author:  abbeybufo [ Sat Jun 07, 2008 10:01 pm ]
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di wrote:
Well! So you were in on Fi's story - I only began to wonder during her last post. Looking forward to - and hoping that Ronald will get his just desserts.
Thanks, Ruth.

I wasn't in on all of it! But I gave permission for certain things to be used . . . then realised I had to wait to see exactly how they'd been used before I could continue :lol: :twisted:

Author:  PaulineS [ Sat Jun 07, 2008 10:11 pm ]
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Thank you for the update and for links between the two stories.
:D :D :D :roll: :roll: :roll: :D :D :D

Author:  abbeybufo [ Sun Jun 08, 2008 10:18 pm ]
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Some more - hope this works . . .

After lunch on Thursday, Hilda and Rosalie were comfortably seated in the smaller of the two sitting rooms that the Rectory possessed. It had been raining during the morning, but the April skies were clearing now, and Jenny had taken the two boys for a walk, while Malcolm drove off to the far end of his patch, to visit an elderly parishioner, leaving the two to their much-needed discussion.

    * * * * * *
Jenny had warmly welcomed Hilda when Malcolm and she arrived from the station, showing her to a pretty west-facing room, with flower-sprigged curtains.

“The boys have been given an early lunch and are having their nap, so we four adults can have a peaceful lunch!” She was still a little shy with Hilda, but ploughed on determinedly. “I’m sure there’s something else that Rosalie hasn’t yet got out of her system. I’m going to leave you a clear field this afternoon by taking the boys for a walk, and Malcolm will be out too. In the meantime, if you come down in ten minutes, lunch will be ready,” and she left Hilda to remove the grime of the journey and make herself comfortable.

The lunch had not only been peaceful, but a very substantial meal. Malcolm had been determined to keep the conversation going and present a cheerful face, but Hilda had seen that he found the whole situation a strain, and that his face in repose was careworn. She had understood from Jenny that Rosalie’s father had taken her disclosures hard, though loyalty to her husband and stepdaughter had prevented her from commenting further to a comparative stranger with whom she was not yet at ease.

Jenny had seen Hilda’s understanding eyes rest on both Malcolm and Rosalie when they were not aware of her glances, and began to feel a slight lifting of her burden, realising that here was someone with a greater life experience than herself, who might find the right words to say to both of them before the visit was out. At present, Malcolm felt he had failed his daughter, both as a father and as a priest, and — like Jacob — was wrestling with angels. Jenny knew this ‘long night’ of struggle was not yet at an end, and was at a loss to know how to comfort him. She knew he needed to forgive himself, but how he might come to that point she had been perplexed. Now here was Hilda, and Jenny knew that if anyone could help, this calm self-contained woman would be she.

    * * * * * *

“I am so sorry Hilda, to make you come all this way,” began Rosalie, who was still inclined to be a little shaky, but determined to apologise fully, “and I’m sorry for running away from you as I did —”

“Not at all, my dear. It has given me a pleasant journey to a part of the country I don’t know well, so I was very happy to accede to your stepmother’s suggestion that we talk things over here. Most importantly,” she continued deliberately, “I want to help you sort everything out so that we can get your life back on an even keel. I had no idea that you were still suffering the effects of your sojourn in London — and to be frank, I thought we had heard all about it when all that Erisay business blew up. You never said a word about nightmares, or fear of young men, then.”

“Things do seem a bit stormy,” agreed Rosalie. “My ship of life certainly needs a stabiliser or two. But, Hilda, I’m still so unsure of myself; I didn’t realise until you and Nell talked about turning the School coeducational, just how much I had buried. I had terrible nightmares that night — I was back there, with all their eyes surrounding me, staring, hating me —”

“But what exactly were they saying?” Hilda asked quietly. “From what I remember, none of the things they called you were that dreadful. I, for one, would be proud to be known as someone who helped, and was a friend to, Jewish people. Are you not putting too much blame on their words, and not accepting that your reaction to them was — as it would necessarily be at the age you then were — immature?”

Rosalie gave a gasp of shock, and turned her head away. After a moment she raised her face to meet Hilda’s eyes. “You are right of course,” she said. “I was being that eighteen-year-old again, instead of the nearly thirty-year-old that I now am. But what are we to do, Hilda? I still wonder whether it would be better if I just resigned from the School, and found a job nearer here. I just don’t believe I could cope —”

“If you don’t believe you can, of course you will not be able to,” responded Hilda gravely. “But what exactly are you afraid would happen? There can never be the same situation within the School as you met twelve years ago at that club. Then a gang of youths terrorised a young girl just out of school. You are no longer that girl; you have just said as much. To the girls at the school — even the sixth form — I suspect you are thought of as ‘quite old’; they think we all are! The boys who come to us will arrive in a school that has its own traditions — and, don’t forget, I am determined that the school ethos will not change, and Madge Russell, Nell and Jeanne are all in agreement with me on that point. The boys will not come in ‘gangs’ nor will they be allowed to form them. At present we are simply allowing those boys who have been in kindergarten to stay on into the Junior School, and hoping that a few more may join them. In a few years time, we shall increase the age that we accept boys to thirteen, then to fifteen, and finally to eighteen. At each stage the boys who have been with us — Jo’s triplets, for instance — will set the tone, and any boys who join the school later will, as new girls do, fit into the tradition that has been there all along.”

“If I really thought I could manage it —” Rosalie’s voice had a new note of hope in it. “I love my work — and I love working for you! But I couldn’t stop thinking —”

“No,” returned Hilda. “You were not thinking at all; you were panicking. What you need to do is think through exactly what happened; realise that it cannot happen again — and that the names you were called are, in the circumstances, names to be proud of. Then don’t you think you can begin to turn the negative experience of that eighteen-year-old girl into a positive force to help the nearly thirty-year-old woman she has become?”

Hilda had unerringly gone to the nub of the problem. But was the adult Rosalie grown-up enough to overcome her past weaknesses to become the strong woman she was capable of being?

Author:  Lesley [ Sun Jun 08, 2008 10:34 pm ]
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Yes, of course she is - with help from Hilda and from her family.

Thanks Ruth.

Author:  Elder in Ontario [ Sun Jun 08, 2008 10:44 pm ]
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Yes of course she is indeed - especially having been given Hilda's view of what happened to her as a young teenager, and even more so knowing that Hilda, to say nothing of all the staff, plus her stepmother, will do all they can to help her understand the differences in the suggested situation at the school.

Thanks, Abbeybufo.

Author:  Sugar [ Sun Jun 08, 2008 10:54 pm ]
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Poor Rosalie. Sometimes once you have buried things it just feel safe to leave them buried even if that means you are half the woman you want to be cos its easier than facing the memories and letting your self be unravelled. I hope Rosalie can overcome her memories with Hildas help.

Thanks abbey

Author:  di [ Mon Jun 09, 2008 6:55 am ]
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Good for Hilda, matter of fact as usual. She's certainly given Rosalie food for thought. I'm sure with the help of Hilda, Jenny and her father Rosalie will be able to put the events of the past, into perspective and reassure the child within her. Then she'll be able to manage her feelings about the young men who eventually will be in the school. She'll also be that much older!
Thanks, Ruth, looking forward to following Rosalie on her journey!

Author:  PaulineS [ Mon Jun 09, 2008 11:10 am ]
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Good for Hilda. Hope she can help Matthew as well.

Author:  abbeygirl [ Mon Jun 09, 2008 1:12 pm ]
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I like it Ruth! - and thanks for the use of some of your characters... Hope Rosalie can now begin to recover from the damage inflicted upon her in recent months..... and that she'll emerge even stronger - with Hilda's help of course.

Author:  abbeybufo [ Mon Jun 09, 2008 9:24 pm ]
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I hope you don't feel that Hilda is solving things too easily. I'm still not entirely sure about this bit, but I want to move the story on - and to get to the end of this first part before I reach 25 pages :roll:

It was during the early part of Thursday evening that Hilda managed to talk to Malcolm. Jenny and Rosalie were washing up the tea things, Mrs Loveridge, as always, having gone home at 4.30 when she had finished the washing-up from lunch and prepared the kitchen for tea and supper.

Malcolm had taken Hilda to the orchard to see the daffodils, a ploy which both of them — and certainly Jenny, if not Rosalie — recognised was a means of enabling him to have a private talk to Hilda without making it too obvious or overly formal.

They strolled across the lawn, at first making polite conversation about the improving weather, but once out of earshot of the house Malcolm turned to Hilda with an air of desperation.

“What can I do for Rosalie? What should I have done in ’34? Will she be able to carry on working for you? Can I do anything —” the questions tumbled out with little logic and Hilda interrupted firmly.

“I am going to tell you a story, Canon Dene,” she began, and went on to relate both the involvement of Rosalie in the Erisay affair, including her wish to protect him and Jenny at that time, and her later rôle in bringing several wanted Nazi agents to justice.

After his shocked comments, she continued, “Your daughter is a fine woman, Canon. She has triumphed twice over these traitors, and now has to conquer her own memories. But Rosalie will come through; and she will be the stronger for it. You must not try to take on more responsibility than is right. You could not have predicted what would happen to Rosalie when you and her mother sent her to London all those years ago; no-one has that foreknowledge. She survived that. That someone would use her presence at the ‘youth club’ to try to bring harm to her, and to you and your present wife, was again something no-one could have known. That test, too, she has come through with flying colours. Trust God, and trust Rosalie, that these things have formed her into a finer character than she would otherwise have been. Of course you would not deliberately have sent her into such a situation — we none of us would, but look at the good that has come out of it; even this latest upset has brought her closer to her stepmother than she had felt able to come before. Her defences were down, and the kindness and goodness of your wife have won her over. You now have to talk to her — I suspect she would welcome your apology, though it need not be too full of sackcloth and ashes! — She needs to know that your love for her has not diminished; that she is still your beloved daughter despite your preoccupation with her mother’s health 12 years ago, and in addition to your love for your new wife and small sons. If you take this chance, it will heal your wound as well as hers. Now, I have said enough; you have listened to me very patiently, and I have no right to preach to you —”

“You are a wise woman, Miss Annersley,” returned the Canon. “You have put your finger on the very pulse of the problem. I felt that I had failed Rosalie, but I couldn’t see how to tell her so without upsetting her further. Now I can thank her for what she tried to do to protect us as well as making my apologies for sending her into the lions’ den — as I truly feel I did! Does Rosalie know you were going to tell me this tale?”

“I asked her permission this afternoon, when we had finished talking through everything else,” replied Hilda. “She would prefer that you didn’t tell your wife, as she does not want her upset by the threats made to her in ’42, but for that reason only. If you want to tell her at some time in the future, or if she insists on knowing exactly how Rosalie has come to terms with things now, then it isn’t to be a secret. Secrets are never a good thing in families.”

“I feel bad, too, that we didn’t let Rosalie in on the truth about her mother,” came the rejoinder. “We were so concerned to shelter her from it that she didn’t really have the chance to say goodbye to her. Mary was so anxious that Rosalie shouldn’t know anything was wrong, and I’m afraid I thought no further than letting her have her own way in the matter.”

“Tell Rosalie that when you talk to her. She will appreciate that it wasn’t so much you keeping her away from her mother, as her mother’s wish to shield her. That will help her better to come to terms with everything that happened that year.”

They began to walk back towards the house, but Hilda had one further question for Canon Dene . . .

Author:  Elder in Ontario [ Mon Jun 09, 2008 10:06 pm ]
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That is an excellent explanation, and Hilda has dealt with her task of helping Rosalie's father, too, come to terms with what his daughter had experienced in her usual compassionate and sensitive, as well as sensible, way. I'm more and more convinced that all of this will enable Rosalie to properly come to terms with those memories of what she went through, and to understand that her parents' rationale for not keeping her at home during her mother's illness and death was a protective one, even though she herself might have preferred to be there.

BUt I'm not sure I like the 'clifflet' of Hilda's remaining question - please don't keep us waiting too long for that bit!!!

Thanks Abbeybufo

Author:  Alison H [ Mon Jun 09, 2008 10:14 pm ]
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I'd like to know what the one remaining question is too!

Author:  Lesley [ Mon Jun 09, 2008 10:26 pm ]
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Hilda did well there - and helped a very worried man achieve some peace.

Thanks Ruth.

Author:  Sugar [ Tue Jun 10, 2008 12:13 am ]
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grabs hold of Lesley ... nearly went sailing off the cliff there!

Thanks Abbey - intrigued as to the final question.

Author:  Fiona Mc [ Tue Jun 10, 2008 6:10 am ]
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Thanks Abbey. I was a bit confused as i haven't had a chance to catch up with the Paul Temple story for the last few days but now it's clearer.

Am glad the air is being cleared between everyone

Author:  di [ Tue Jun 10, 2008 6:43 am ]
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I wonder what Hilda's question is? Hopefully Canon Dene will feel reassured that there is something he can do to help Rosalie and realises that he shouldn't have sent her away when her mother was dying.
Thank you, Ruth.

Author:  Mona [ Tue Jun 10, 2008 7:47 am ]
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Thanks Ruth. That was nicely handled by Hilda. But what is her one more question?

Author:  PaulineS [ Tue Jun 10, 2008 11:21 am ]
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Thanks Ruth.

Author:  leahbelle [ Tue Jun 10, 2008 5:22 pm ]
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Thanks, Ruth.

Author:  crystaltips [ Wed Jun 11, 2008 4:19 pm ]
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So nice to catch up with this.

*joins the rest wondering what is the question*

Author:  abbeybufo [ Sun Jun 15, 2008 4:52 pm ]
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Sorry everyone - this isn't an update :(

I am going to be away from early tomorrow until next weekend.

I had hoped to post properly today, but I've been struggling to get ready for the trip while fighting a migraine :cry: :cry:

SLOC is at a military bookfair at Duxford and left at 5.30 this morning, so doen't even know I'm feeling like sh*t.

In the end I've had to have most of the middle of the day [11 am until 4.30 pm] in bed, thankfully able to sleep for much of that time, but will now have to spend the evening getting everything ready so won't be able to type up the next bit - which exists only in pencil scribble :roll:

See you all next weekend :D

ETA very apt tagline just at the moment [well, p'raps not the milk :D ]

Author:  Alison H [ Sun Jun 15, 2008 4:56 pm ]
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Hope you feel better soon, and have a good break.

Author:  Fiona Mc [ Wed Jun 18, 2008 3:41 pm ]
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Hope you feel better soon and have a great break away

Author:  abbeybufo [ Sun Jun 29, 2008 9:04 pm ]
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Sorry this isn't an update either. RL is going to be a bit of a nuisance for pretty much all of July, so I don't think I'm going to be able to get any more typed & uploaded yet . . . I'd hoped to get this part finished before now so I could start Part 2 in September, but I fear it will have to wait until at least August :(

Author:  LizzieC [ Sun Jun 29, 2008 10:27 pm ]
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Thanks for keeping us updated :) I'll keep my fingers crossed that real life calms down sooner rather than later :D

Author:  Cath V-P [ Mon Jun 30, 2008 10:13 am ]
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I've just read the last two updates, which I thoroughly enjoyed and can't quite work out how I came to miss them, other than the pressures of RL. Hilda's advice and reassurance was exactly what Rosalie and the Canon needed, and it read beautifully. And I do hope your RL is not too hectic!

Author:  MaryR [ Mon Jun 30, 2008 3:09 pm ]
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Hmm, you posted the last two posts while I was away, Ruth, and for some reason I don't seem to have caught up with them. My apologies, because they show Hilda at her best. No matter how she might have felt about Rosalie at the time, she won't want to lose her and has seen just how she has suffered. Loved her coment to Rosalie that the latter hadn't been thinking at all, just panicking....

Author:  abbeybufo [ Tue Jul 01, 2008 8:07 pm ]
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I do have this little bit typed up already, so it seemed unfair to make you wait for it . . . :wink:

Before Hilda left the rectory on Friday, Malcolm Dene made a telephone call that provided the answer to Hilda’s question, and after an uneventful train journey to Armiford, Hilda purchased four return tickets for the morrow.

Once safely back in her office at the school, she made a brief telephone call to a number she had hoped never to need to use again . . .

Author:  Lesley [ Tue Jul 01, 2008 8:24 pm ]
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Norty Ruth! :lol:

Author:  Elder in Ontario [ Tue Jul 01, 2008 8:40 pm ]
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Make us wait for what, Ruth?? We're on even more of a cliff than we were before :lol: :? :evil:

Please make enough of a gap in your hectic RL to put us out of our collective misery here before long :roll: :)

Author:  Alison H [ Tue Jul 01, 2008 10:41 pm ]
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Aww, you can't leave it there!

Author:  Cath V-P [ Wed Jul 02, 2008 3:21 am ]
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Ruth, you are wicked! :D

Author:  di [ Wed Jul 02, 2008 6:35 am ]
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How could you! :cry: Who's the mystery phone call to - is it Paul Temple or am I way off beam? :lol:
Thank you , Ruth, I think :wink:

Author:  crystaltips [ Thu Jul 03, 2008 12:44 pm ]
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Nooooooooooo.....there I was thinking it was The Question & promptly sailed straight over the cliff!

*bounces a couple of times then settles comfortably to wait for Ruth to post a bit more*

Author:  MaryR [ Thu Jul 03, 2008 6:59 pm ]
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Four return tickets to where? :shock: Phone call to whom? :shock:

Oh, Ruth..... :lol:

Author:  abbeybufo [ Sun Jul 13, 2008 10:16 pm ]
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Little bit more. Some of the pressure is now off, so I hope I may be able to get this typed up and updated more often from now on . . .

On Saturday morning after breakfast, a select group of four left Plas Howell by car, and arrived at Armiford station in good time for the 9.30 train.

Of the four, Gill Culver was the most excited, as her pink cheeks revealed, though she was attempting to remain composed and ‘worthy’, as she considered it, of partaking in this outing, with such august company. Hilda Annersley was now wishing she had not committed herself to another day of travelling, after her return from Devon only yesterday, but having promised not only Gill, but Jeanne de Lachenais and Gwyneth Lloyd that they would have an outing on Saturday, felt honour bound to make their day as pleasant and interesting as she was able. She knew Matey had visited their destination before, but was well aware that that lady did not set out to be an historian, and in any event was probably as unaware as Mlle de Lachenais of the fascination of English medieval towns. She had asked the other two staff not to tell Gill where they were headed, as she was enjoying the prospect of giving her head girl a pleasant surprise.

After a half hour’s journey they alighted at a small station and emerged into the town.

“Coffee first, I think,” said Hilda briskly as they turned left from the station, and she led them uphill towards the Bull Ring, then southwards from Tower Street and downhill again towards the town wall and ancient gateway at the bottom. Then she turned them round and indicated a fine timber-framed building up the hill on the opposite side of the street, which announced itself by means of a hanging sign over the pavement as ‘The Angel’.

They were perhaps fifty yards from the inn when a large saloon car drew up quietly beside them.

Author:  Elder in Ontario [ Sun Jul 13, 2008 10:27 pm ]
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Thanks for the little update Abbeybufo - glad to hear that RL is becoming somewhat less hectic! But, being somewhat geographically challenged, you have now left me racking my brains to think which mediaeval towns are within a 30-minute train ride from Hereford!!!! Please don't leave me in suspense for too long - I think this will be a wonderful outing!

Author:  Lesley [ Sun Jul 13, 2008 10:27 pm ]
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Oh so this is going to be a drive-by shooting then? :wink:

Thanks Ruth - nice of Hilda to consider her Staff and Head Girl.

Author:  Alison H [ Sun Jul 13, 2008 10:49 pm ]
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Ludlow? I was thinking Worcester but it sounds more like somewhere smaller. More interested in who's in the saloon car, though!

Thanks for the update - hoping for more soon :D .

Author:  Sugar [ Sun Jul 13, 2008 11:58 pm ]
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Tisn't Worcester, unless Abbey is playing with the geography. The Bull Ring isn't anywhere near the Station... Angel Place is though.

Thanks Abbey - looking forward to more!

Author:  Tara [ Sun Jul 13, 2008 11:58 pm ]
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I actually live in the area, and I don't know either :oops: . Enjoying this hugely, Ruth, though I haven't been able to post much. Hilda was really splendid with Rosalie and her father, very impressive. And I'm sure the trip will be fascinating - but have you noticed you haven't answered any of the questions? :wink:

Author:  PaulineS [ Mon Jul 14, 2008 5:52 pm ]
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I am wondering if it is one of my favourity towns for a day out.
That is Strafford on Avon

Hidden to not spoil the supprise.

Author:  abbeybufo [ Mon Jul 14, 2008 9:05 pm ]
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One correct identification so far! The next post will tell all - about the town, anyway :lol:

“Sir Graham!” Hilda was half-annoyed that he had encroached on her day out, half-pleased to have this chance to talk to him at an early opportunity. She quickly told Gwyneth, the only other one of the party who knew Sir Graham Forbes and would understand the situation, to take Jeanne and Gill on ahead to the Angel Inn, and turned to the distinguished-looking gentleman who had alighted from the rear seat and told his uniformed chauffeur to drive on to the inn as well.

“I thought it would be as well to have a short word with you now,” he said as they fell into step, “and one of us will be with you later this evening, when you return to Plas Howell. But this was a good chance to speak without anyone in Howells knowing you had made contact with us.”

“Surely there are no spies in Howells now? The War has been over for a year!”

“The Blackshirts are still active; there may still be sympathisers in the village. As a first place of contact, here seemed to make the most sense. I won’t join you for coffee, thank you, just tell me the bare outlines now, and I can start things off, so we can be sure of the element of surprise if necessary. You can give us the full story tonight.”

And he and Hilda walked slowly toward the inn, for all the world like old friends chatting. At the kerb opposite the door of the Angel his car was waiting and he sprang into the back seat.

“That was extremely helpful, Miss Annersley,” was his parting remark. “I will let you have a progress report tonight.”

The car drove off, and Hilda joined the rest of her party in the Angel's small sitting room, where morning coffee had just been brought to them.

Author:  PaulineS [ Mon Jul 14, 2008 9:09 pm ]
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thanks for such a quick update.

Author:  Alison H [ Mon Jul 14, 2008 9:19 pm ]
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Very mysterious!

Author:  MaryR [ Mon Jul 14, 2008 9:38 pm ]
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I missed the last post, Ruth, and now I find myself on a cliff! :shock:

Thank you. :lol:

Author:  Lesley [ Mon Jul 14, 2008 10:06 pm ]
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Thanks Ruth.

Author:  Tara [ Mon Jul 14, 2008 11:08 pm ]
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Ok, you answered the questions, but ... curiouser and curiouser :D .

Thanks, Ruth.

Author:  di [ Tue Jul 15, 2008 6:28 am ]
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Mmmm! I wonder?!!
Thanks for the update, Ruth.

Author:  abbeybufo [ Fri Jul 18, 2008 9:30 pm ]
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Little bit more . . .

Gill was still waxing lyrical about the panelling in this small lounge, and the beauty of the timber-framed building that they had entered, which they had all three admired from the outside.

“But how old is it, Hilda?” enquired Jeanne. She, too had been entranced by the range of buildings, with their jettied upper storeys, of which the Angel formed part.

Hilda had craftily led the group via Tower Street and past the Buttercross at the top of Broad Street so that the Bull Ring itself had been hidden from them; that was for later. She had crossed Broad Street and bade them walk down towards the town wall with its gatehouse at the bottom, before turning around and directing them back uphill towards the Inn. It was then that Sir Graham had appeared. Pushing all thoughts of Rosalie’s problems to the back of her mind, Hilda gave her attention to her companions.

“The houses in Ludlow are largely sixteenth- and seventeenth-century buildings,” she replied. “Many have had brick or stone facades added to disguise the timber frame, in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries when people with enough money wanted to be fashionable. The town itself goes back to medieval times, as you will see later, and as the presence of a town wall implies. But I think I can promise that you will find the place we are to have lunch even more intriguing and beautiful — yes really,” she continued laughingly, as Jeanne and Gill began to protest, and Gwyneth started to chuckle. “I won’t say any more now, but if at lunchtime you don’t agree, I shall be extremely surprised.” And with an amused exchange of glances with Gwyneth, she returned to her drink.

Coffee over, the party crossed Broad Street, walking up the hill and turning left into the High Street. As was usual on a Saturday, the market was in full swing in Castle Square. There were food stalls selling spring vegetables, eggs, cheeses, meats, bread and other farm produce; there were bric-a-brac stalls with everything from old furniture to old-fashioned china and jewellery. Mainly for Gill’s sake, Hilda encouraged the others to browse these for a little.

While she was waiting, she idly turned over some brooches in a box at the end of one of the stalls. As if stung, she suddenly gave a most uncharacteristic little cry, which made Matey turn to her in some amazement; the other two were out of earshot.

“It’s all right, Gwyneth.” After the initial shock she was calmer now. “Just come and see what I have found here.”

Ludlow information

Author:  Elder in Ontario [ Fri Jul 18, 2008 9:57 pm ]
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OK, so it was Ludlow - I did wonder, but since I've never been there....

Thanks, Abbeybufo - this continues to be intriguing.

Author:  Lesley [ Fri Jul 18, 2008 10:29 pm ]
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Coo, something to make Hilda cry out? Must be impressive! :lol:

Thanks Ruth.

Author:  Alison H [ Fri Jul 18, 2008 10:45 pm ]
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Oh, so it was Ludlow :D . Intrigued as to what Hilda's found, though!

Author:  Chelsea [ Sat Jul 19, 2008 4:52 am ]
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Joins the "so it was Ludlow" chorus...even though I haven't the foggiest notion where Ludlow is and wasn't even hazarding guesses as to where the group had gone. But joining choruses is fun!

Thanks for the two new bits - even though you've still left us on a cliff.

Author:  ibarhis [ Sat Jul 19, 2008 6:22 am ]
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I have been to Ludlow, it is still very lovely!

Author:  Mona [ Sat Jul 19, 2008 9:08 am ]
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Whatever has Hilda found?

Thanks for the updates!

Author:  Jenefer [ Sat Jul 19, 2008 5:10 pm ]
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Ludlow is lovely
Thanks for the update and am looking forward for more

Author:  keren [ Sat Jul 19, 2008 7:45 pm ]
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Must have found a first Edition chalet school book

Author:  Tara [ Sun Jul 20, 2008 12:28 am ]
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You are getting far too good at cliffs, Ruth! I'm embarrassed at not spotting Ludlow immediately, seeing as how I live less than an hour away but, enchanting as it is ... what has Hilda found???????

Author:  abbeygirl [ Sun Jul 20, 2008 11:31 am ]
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Good cliff! Thanks Ruth...

Author:  Fiona Mc [ Sun Jul 20, 2008 2:58 pm ]
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Thanks Ruth. Am glad I missed a couple of the cliffs but not all :cry: :D

Author:  abbeybufo [ Sun Jul 20, 2008 4:38 pm ]
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Thank you for the kind comments. Some answers here . . . :lol:

“It’s lovely, Hilda, but whatever made you exclaim so?” Gwyneth was puzzled, as Hilda’s legendary calm and self-control would not normally have allowed her to break her silence thus.

In Hilda’s had lay a cameo brooch, exquisite in detail, about an inch high and three-quarters of an inch wide. The face depicted on it was a classical profile, hair piled high, with one loose ringlet; the creamy white of the head standing clearly proud of the even rosy-coral of the background layer. The oval was contained in a silver-gilt mount which had accreted some dirt from lying around on the stall, but which would polish with a soft cloth to reveal curlicues of foliage within the metal.

“Do you remember, Gwyneth, the photograph Nell keeps by her bed? Not the one of her sister, but the faded sepia of her parents?”

“I have seen it. Is that the one she thinks may be their engagement picture?”

“Yes, and in it her mother is wearing a brooch very like this. That brooch was lost in a house move, when the family were in rented accommodation during one of Cherry’s spells in hospital. Now I don’t think —” she held her hand up to forestall Matey’s next remark, seeing a rising excitement in that good lady’s eyes, “— for one minute that this is the same brooch. Indeed I should be hesitant in buying it if I believed it were. But I shall buy it, if the price is not too high — and if I haven’t just raised it by being so foolish as to yell,” she added grimly.

Fortunately the stallholder had been chatting to his mate at the pie stall, and returned with his mug of tea as she finished speaking.

“Six shillings!” he said abruptly.

Hilda looked startled, and began fishing in her purse.

“Worth all of that,” said the man hurriedly. “I know the catch is broken, but it’s a pretty face — tell you what, you can have it for five.”

Hilda mutely handed over two half-crowns and she and Gwyneth moved away.

At a safe distance she allowed herself a small laugh, with which Matey joined.

“I couldn’t believe it!” she chuckled. “I was expecting it to cost at least a guinea. I suppose he hadn’t looked past the broken catch and the dirt to realise exactly what he had there. It was in with a rather motley selection of Victoriana, and I know these aren’t fashionable at the moment. I had been wondering what to give Nell for her birthday. Now that is solved — I know I don’t need to ask you to keep the secret until then. Let’s go and see if the others have discovered any bargains.”

And the two friends made their way across Castle Square to meet Jeanne and Gill.

    * * * * * *

Ronald pushed back his plate and rose from the kitchen table. With barely a thank you for his long-suffering mother he took his hat and coat from the hook and set out for the club. It had all been so simple, he reflected, not for the first time. To show up back in Wood Green at the same time as those returning from the Far East had been easily accomplished with the contacts he had formed; indeed to disappear from the Dunkirk beaches and be spirited off to Berlin had been a simple task for those who had been managing him. Even the club was still running, though it was more circumspect nowadays; his main regret was that he had missed the fun at Cable Street. He had spent an easy war, mainly helping Bill Joyce, had even been in the same room as The Führer himself on one occasion. But when Joyce had gone to Hamburg, Ronald had been given another task, and so had not been in Germany at all at the end.

So deep in his thoughts was he that he did not notice the large car that had been parked under the trees a little way up the road start its engine and purr quietly to come to rest just behind him, just as two policemen walked round the corner towards him. As he realised that the officers facing him were not going to stand aside to let him pass, a voice from behind made him whirl round to face the three men who had emerged from the car.

“Ronald John Morris, I arrest you in the name of the law, as a traitor and an enemy of the crown . . .”

Author:  Elder in Ontario [ Sun Jul 20, 2008 5:30 pm ]
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Even if Victoriana was not in fashion at the time, Hilda definitely got a bargain with that brooch. And I'm quite sure Nell will treasure that particular birthday gift!

And am equally delighted to see that Ronald Morris is about to get his comeuppance, though not for the hurt he inflicted on Rosalie!

Thanks, Abbeybufo.

Author:  Lesley [ Sun Jul 20, 2008 6:14 pm ]
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Hmmm, he's very lucky not to be caught in wartime as he would have been shot. Now - whatever his sentence he'll have deserved it.

Lovely that Hilda managed to get the brooch for nell.

Thanks Ruth.

Author:  Alison H [ Sun Jul 20, 2008 6:55 pm ]
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Glad to see that Ronald's about to get his come-uppance (hopefully).

Author:  MaryR [ Sun Jul 20, 2008 7:36 pm ]
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Had to laugh at Hilda thinking she'd raised the price of the brooch by her sudden yell! :lol: But Nell will love it.

As to Ronald.... fate has caught up with him at last!

Thanks, Ruth.

Author:  Sugar [ Sun Jul 20, 2008 8:18 pm ]
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Lovely Abbey

Glad Ronald might finally be getting what's due!

Author:  Tara [ Mon Jul 21, 2008 12:05 am ]
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Aaaaw! Lovely that Hilda found such a poignant and evocative gift for Nell (not to mention such a bargain!). Certainly worth a yell.

Glad the ghastly Ronald is getting what he deserves.

Author:  abbeybufo [ Thu Jul 24, 2008 9:38 pm ]
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It had been a worthwhile trip, Hilda thought to herself with an inner smile as the train took them southwards back to Armiford. Lunch at the Feathers had been a highlight for Gill and Jeanne, who were fascinated by the decorative timber-framing and agreed that Hilda had been correct to say it was even more spectacular than the Angel. Another key moment had been standing by the grave of A. E. Housman, whose Shropshire Lad had caught so poignantly the views from the castle, from the bridge over the River Teme, and from the tower of St Laurence church itself, all of which they had seen that afternoon.

    Oh come you home of Sunday
    When Ludlow streets are still
    And Ludlow bells are calling
    To farm and lane and mill

The Housman words that came into her mind were not quite appropriate, as it was Saturday, but they had heard the bells: a wedding party was just emerging when they passed the church on the way to lunch. And the streets had been anything but still, in the bustle of the market. Here Hilda’s heart leapt, as she thought again of the serendipity that had brought her hand, idly rummaging through the shoe-box of oddments, to that wonderful cameo brooch, and she sent up a prayer of thanks.

Only Matey, sitting opposite, noticed the smile light up Hilda’s tired eyes, and she leaned forward to say, with a firmness that belied her concern for her friend, “I’ll drive us back to Plas Howell. I don’t want you an invalid on my hands after two days of such dissipation.”

Hilda’s remonstrance died on her lips as she saw the smile in Gwyneth’s eyes, and she admitted that she would indeed be glad not to have to think about anything else today. As she thought this, she remembered with an inward sigh Sir Graham’s promise that he would let her have a report that evening. She was not entirely surprised therefore, to see, as their own car nosed up the drive of Plas Howell, that the limousine which had carried that august gentleman earlier in the day was already standing outside the front door.

I think, as we have reached 25 pages, that this is a reasonable place to stop. I am starting Section 2 of Part 1 in a new thread here :D

Author:  Lesley [ Thu Jul 24, 2008 10:32 pm ]
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And I've just read the new thread before realising there was one here too! Pleased Matey is looking after Hilda.

Thanks Ruth.

Author:  abbeybufo [ Fri Jul 25, 2008 11:01 am ]
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Mods could you please lock this now - and archive when you want to :wink: - as the story is continued in Section 2 and further comments can be posted there.

Thanks :D

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