"Mamma" shrieked someone.
Jo almost jumped out of bed in fright.
"What? Cecil?" she asked blearily.
"Mamma" a tousled head appeared by her side, "Mamma it has stopped snowing."
"Marie-Claire?" asked Jo, rubbing her eyes.
"Mamma, you have slept in, Pappa left ages ago." said someone sensibly.
Jo sat up, and looked her red haired daughter in the eye.
"What time is it?"
"It's nearly ten o'clock" muttered Cecil exasperatedly.
"Okay, Im just getting up." said Jo, "Now give me some peace girls. I'll be down in a few minutes."
"But Mamma.." said Cecil desperately.
Felicty gave her a quick kick.
"Give her five minutes to wake up, goose." she said.
Fifteen minutes later, and much more alive, Jo appeared in the Saal.
"Well Mamma?" asked Cecil, almost quivering in excitement.
"Please Mamma!" begged Marie-Claire, looking almost as exuberant as her sister.
Jo sat down. "I have no idea what you are talking about dears." she said at last.
"The snow has stopped falling" said Phil calmly, "and I rather think if you don't let Cecil out soon she may collapse with the excitement of it all."
"Pippa!" exclaimed Cecil, glaring at her sister.
"Please, pretty please Mamma! May we have a snowfight?" implored Marie-claire.
"Does everyone want to?" asked Jo, after going to the window to check that the snow had actually stopped.
"Yes, yes." said Cecil, doing her utmost to stop herself from jumping up and down.
"I think even I had managed to work out that you wanted to Cece." said Jo dryly, "What about the boys?"
Cecil went red, and let someone else reply.
"We are going to issue a challenge to them, " said Felicity, "Boys versus girls, they will never be able to resist!"
"Okay" said Joey, " Now all of you go get ready then, and dress warm! Tell the boys to do the same. Cecil wait a moment please."
The other girls all left to go get ready, and Cecil looked curiously at her Mother.
"What is it Mamma?" she asked quickly.
"Now, I'm not trying to spoil you fun pet, but this is going to be quite hard for Daphne, and she'll probably find it scary at first. Although I think it will do her all the good in the world!"
"Thats okay Mamma, I asked Felicity to tell the boys to be more gentle with her." replied Cecil, surprising Jo with her thoughtfulness.
It was also the first time Cecil had not moaned about the extra responsibility during her holiday. It would seem that her Cecil was starting to grow up.
However aloud all Jo said was, "Thank you Cecey, now you'd better hurry up, or you'll miss out on all the fun!"
Upstairs Phil and Felicity were knocking on the attic door.
"What is it?" asked Roddy rudely as he opened the door.
"Can we come in?" asked Felicity.
Silently Roddy pointed to the sign on the door.
" 'No girls allowed' " read Felicity, "Oh how very mature." she said sarcastically, rolling her eyes.
"What do you want? Or are you just here to annoy us?" asked Geoff, who had joined Roddy at the door.
"I think they are scared personally." said Pippa in an aside to Felicity, that was meant to be heard by everyone.
"Oh yeah definitely." agreed Felicity.
"Scared of what?" asked Roddy suspiciously.
"Our challenge." said Pippa sweetly, "But if you are scared of being beaten by girls thats okay. We'll just go now."
Pippa and Felicity both turned and started to walk down the stairs.
"Wait." they heard Roddy call.
"Yes?" said Felicity turning around.
"We never said no."
"It's okay, we don't want to humiliate you."
"Whos being humiliated?" asked Seth, his curly head also appearing at the door.
"Your friend here, he's scared of being beaten by girls." said Felicity with a grin.
"Well I sympathise with him. You are a terrifying bunch."
"We're not terrifying!" exclaimed Felicity outraged.
At this moment Cecil appeared at the bottom of the stairs dressed up in a good imitation of an Eskimo.
"What on earth is taking you all so long?" she asked annoyed, "Mamma says we can only go out until Mittagessen and thats in an hour and a half. Are the boys scared or something?"
With this the four boys came charging down the stairs, almost taking Felicity with them. Seth stopped to make sure she was alright, just as Felix reached the bottom of the stairs, and beating his chest with his fists shouted, "And now we fight to the Death, Arghhhh!"
Cecil just stared at him, and went, "Okay then" before turning to the others and saying, "Get your lazy selves down to the kitchen in five minutes. Me and Claire and Daphne are all ready."
Down in the Kitchen Jo surveyed them all critically.
"Cecil lend Daphne your spare woollen cardigan will you? Geoff, those are last years gloves, go put your warmer ones on. Someone lend Seth a jumper will they? And a scarf preferably. Did no one warn you what coming to Switzerland would be like? Honestly Roddy, you would think you would have gained some sense at twenty!"
Eventually she proclaimed them ready to go outside, having made sure they were all wearing snow goggles.
"Have fun chickadees" she called as she waved at them, "Anyone feeling too cold can come back inside. Felicity keep an eye on my Claire-bear alright?"
"Mamma I'll be fine" moaned Marie-Claire, "Im not a baby!"
"Okay" said Pippa when they were outside, "Boys you can choose what side of the garden you want since we have one more person."
"Don't be silly," scoffed Roddy, "You are the girls, you are at the disadvantage. You choose what side you want."
The girls huddled together.
"Okay" whispered Pippa urgently, "If we don't wipe those smirks off of their faces I might have to cry. We are in this to win."
Felicity rolled her eyes. "They will probably win you know." she said.
"Don't even speak like that!" ordered Pippa.
Cecil and Felicity exchanged glances.
"Pip here has a bit of a competitive side, in case you hadn't noticed." said Cecil to Daphne.
"Cece! This is serious!"
"No it's not." said Cecil. "It's our first snowfight this year, and I'm going to enjoy it! Now let's show Daphne how to pack snowballs."
"Okay, okay" said Pippa finally, "But at least admit that you would rather we won than they did."
"Well duh, but lets at least have a laugh while we wipe them off the floor- or should I say snow?" she finished thoughtfully.