Summary: The Maynards go to stay at Pretty Maids. But this house has not had children in it for some time, and the Mob are bored. Meanwhile, Jack's brothers are unwilling to accept one of their sister's former pupils into their family, not least one who cannot behave like a dignified married woman, and Joey finds that her whirlwind ways will not get her far at all. Will Jack stand by her?
Categories: St Scholastika's House Characters: Cecil Maynard, Charles Maynard, Con Maynard, Felicity Maynard, Felix Maynard, Geoff Maynard, Jack Maynard, Jo (Bettany) Maynard, Len Maynard, Margot Maynard, Mike Maynard, OC, Phil Maynard, Reg Entwistle, Roger Richardson, Ruey Richardson, Stephen Maynard
School Period: Future
School Name: Chalet School
Genre: Drama, Family
Series: Maynard Madness
Chapters: 3 Completed: No
Word count: 3086 Read: 4720
Published: 01 Jan 2014 Updated: 08 Jan 2014
1. Arrival by Someone
2. A Patchwork Quilt by Someone
3. A Good Match? by Someone
"You're NOT funny, Chas!"
The entire Mob, with, of course, the exception of Chas, voiced this complaint in clear, bell-like tones. The ferry was boring them all senseless.
Jack turned to his wife as his second son let out yet another farting noise, holding his hands to his mouth and blowing hard.
"Oh, I can't wait to introduce this rabble to my brothers."
Jo squeezed his hand. "I know." Then, she sat up with a jolt. "I'll tell you who you should really be worried about."
"Your rowdy, undignified wife!"
Jack kissed her. "You're not THAT bad, darling. Just a little...playful sometimes."
"You weren't going to say that. What were you going to say?"
"Childish." he admitted.
Jack put his arms round her, then drew her close and kissed her properly.
"Eeeeeww!" went everyone under the age of ten. The older ones joined in.
"Shush, now, everyone's staring." said Jo in the gentle tone she always adopted when speaking to the small fry, breaking away from Jack but remaining in his embrace.
They dried up obediently, but Margot did point out that they were probably staring at the parents.
Jo ignored her and went back to kissing Jack, completely at ease in the knowledge that their children were used to their random embraces.
It seemed to have taken years to get everything packed, all the cases, the forgotten articles, mostly stuffed toys which their various sons and daughters simply could not sleep without.
Then, there had been the exhausting journeys over Austria, through Switzerland, then France, to Cherbourg where they had boarded a ferry and here they were. Their train from Basle to Cherbourg had been a sleeper, but they still had not had enough rest, especially as the Mob had spent the night calling to one another across their bunks.
"Oh, look, you lot!" said Joey now as the first light crept over the horizon, bringing with it a fiery sun and beautiful amber-coloured rays stretching out over the sky, banishing the navy blue.
"If Josette were here, she would want to take a photo." said Eu admiringly.
"Can't take photos of sunrises, they don't come out." said Felicity from her comfortable perch on the back of a bench.
Jo just flashed the two a grin over her shoulder, then went back to gazing out of the window with her chin on her husband's shoulder.
Just then, a loudspeaker crackled into life and startled the Fifth Triplets, who had been playing Snap directly under it.
"We are now approaching Dover. Please prepare to disembark. Thank you for sailing with us. Goodbye."
Jo and Jack started gathering cases, aided and abetted by their older children.
"Come on now, my dears, time to go." said Jo, as she handed round the cases. She and Jack had ordained at the beginning of the journey that they were all to be responsible for their own cases and outdoor garments, even the really little ones. This gave them a sense of responsibility and encouraged them to be independent.
They got off the ferry and caught a bus to the train station. They had a couple of hour's ride before reaching the New Forest, and their destination.
As Con giggled as they boarded the train, most people seemed to think that they were running some sort of youth club or something. Jo looked a little uncomfortable at this, as she did at any reference to their abnormally large family. Seeing this, Jack drew their attention to other things by answering all their questions. However, when asked what their uncles and aunt would be like, he shook his head.
"Can't say. Haven't seen them in decades. However, in his letter, Jim warned me that you might want to keep a sharp eye out for your Aunt Lydia, she doesn't like children much."
"Why not?" asked Prim from her father's lap.
"Because...you had a cousin. He...he wasn't nearly as well-behaved as you lot. He...well...one day, he had an accident."
"Why would that make her hate children?" piped up Prissy, another of the Fifth Triplets. "We've all had lots of accidents, but Mamma doesn't hate us."
Jack sighed. All the older children put their heads in their hands - they had understood and they could tell that their father did not want to put it any more explicitly.
Jack silently cursed himself for loose wording. Of course - to the small fry, 'having an accident' meant going to the toilet on the floor.
"I didn't mean that sort of accident. One day, years ago-" he concentrated hard "oh, Lordy, Joey was just out of school," Jo blushed. "he was eleven, but he went to look for lost tennis balls in the grass, apparently, he'd been promised sixpence for every one he found-"
"We'd have done that for free." interrupted Len disapprovingly.
"Anyway, he spotted the garage door, he was bored, he'd broken his bike, he spotted the garage door, he wasn't meant to go in there, you see, but he went in regardless, and he found the car, a very big and heavy one, and he got in and pretended to drive it. Then, he found his bike and tried to fix it, but all his pulling of levers and pushing of buttons had loosened the brakes, and the car rolled forwards and trapped him between the workbench and the front of the car. He was crushed to death, and ever since, Lydia has always felt that no child has the right to live when Rolf is dead."
There was a stunned silence in the compartment when he had finished. Even Jo, who had known the story for years, felt her eyes stinging. Her arms tightened around the basket on her knee, in which lay her one-month-old adopted daughter, Letty.
"I don't want you to mention this to Lydia." Jack broke the silence. "I also don't want that story to marr our visit. Just be nice to her."
He smiled around at the stupefied faces. He trusted them, they did not need to go through the whole 'best behaviour' saga.
They finally got off the train, and took one more bus to the correct district. In the morning sunshine, they walked towards the house which Jack pointed out as being It.
The Mob were ecstatic. They were companionable people and loved the thought of meeting three new uncles and an aunt. Jack was happy to be back. Jo was feeling awkward. It was going to be pretty much that being introduced as Jack's wife and the mother of his children, rather than as a pupil of Miss Maynard's.
As they approached, they caught sight of a figure leaning against the doorway. The Mob recognised him from photos. Jo recognised him from previous visits. And I don't need to explain why Jack recognised him. The man had sandy-coloured hair and blue eyes that were familiar to all the Maynards: Jack too had inherited them. There was enough resemblance between the two men to pronounce them as brothers. It was the youngest brother, Joe.
Jack gave his wife's hand an encouraging squeeze as Joe straightened up.
"Jack, old man! Good to see you again! And this is your family?"
This was it!
A Patchwork Quilt by Someone
Joe led them inside. He turned to Joey.
"So you're Jo as well, eh? Could be confusing."
Jack stepped in. "We have thought of that. My wife is also Joey, so that is how I shall address her while we're here." He shot Joey a grin, which she returned.
Jack introduced each of the Mob to his brothers and sister-in-law - neither Jim nor Joe were married - and Jim whistled.
"That's a lot of kids."
"Anyway." said Joe "You've got your old room, Jack, but it's been...er...made suitable for two. And, kids, I will show you your rooms!"
His statement was greeted with the enthusiasm usual for them, and their uncle herded them all up the stairs.
"He doesn't know what he's let himself in for!" Jack said to Joey with a smile. His wife laughed.
Jack took Jo's hand and led her up the stairs, eventually stopping at a small white door, at which he took a deep breath and pushed open.
"I thought that it would have changed beyond all recognition." he said.
Indeed, it had. The small black iron bedstead had gone, to be replaced by a huge wooden double bed, painted white, with a patchwork quilt and two very puffy white pillows. There was a matching dressing-table and wardrobe but Jack was relieved to see that his chest of drawers had been left where it was.
Jo felt intrusive and shrank back into the corridor.
"I'm sorry. I'd forgotten that this would have been where you grew up."
"Don't be." said her husband softly. "It's made for both of us, and I'd love to share it with you. Go on, darling, make yourself at home." He pulled her into the room, shutting the door behind them.
"I was always very possessive about my room. No-one was allowed in without my permission, and if they were allowed in, they were to touch nothing. I had everything very precisely set out...no...hang on...and on that note..."
He let go of Jo's hand and sprang over to the chest of drawers, looking at the floorboards. The corner of it had to be perpendicular with two certain floorboards. It was not. Jo laughed at the sight of her husband obsessively pushing the chest of drawers about a centimetre so that it was in precisely the correct position.
"As you can see," he smiled, rejoining her "I am very particular about the positionings of things. I like everything to be just so."
"Not much changed, then!" giggled Jo. Jack took a playful swipe at her head but deliberately missed. Jo laughed again and flung herself onto the bed. Jack followed.
Jo patted the bedclothes. "Oooh, a patchwork quilt! I haven't had one since I was in Taverton!"
"I could get Anna to make us one, if you like." said Jack.
"I'd like that."
Jack curled up next to her on the bed, after following her example and taking his shoes off. He dropped a kiss on her hair.
Joey flung her arms round him and kissed him passionately. There the two stayed until Joe stuck his head round the door.
"Oh..er...sorry. Didn't realise you'd be...anyway."
Jo and Jack shot apart. Joey hurriedly scrambled off the bed, her cheeks burning.
"Don't worry, Joe." said Jack drily. "It does happen to us a lot. It wasn't your fault, just unfortunate timing. Anyhow, you had come in to say?"
"Dinner's ready. Wow, your children have a lot of energy! There are so many of them, they're almost like a mob!"
Jack smiled. "Yes, that's what Joey and I call them collectively - the Mob. They certainly do take a bit of getting used to, don't they?"
"They certainly do. Shall I go on ahead to give you some time to...er...finish off a little."
Jo blushed. He left them alone and her eyes flicked towards the door, then back to Jack. He slid an arm round her waist and drew her close, kissing her again.
"It could have been worse, my love. You know what we get like sometimes."
Jo blushed yet again. He put his hands on her waist, looking her seriously in the eye.
"Now then, my darling, would you do me the honour of accompanying me to dinner?"
The afternoon was spent unpacking by Jo and Jack, but frequent help from siblings lightened the Mob's load considerably, and they were soon done.
Joe Maynard was very fond of children and when the Mob came downstairs to say that they had finished unpacking but their parents were still fully occupied, he suggested a game of hide-and-seek which srarted off around the house and garden, but when torrential rain began to pour down, they confined the game to the house.
Joe soon learnt that Jack had trusted the entire family with the story of Rolf's death, when he asked eight-year-old Gladys why she was so terrified of the garage door. He was happy that his brother was not like his father, whom he barely remembered, but who had had a reputation for telling his children as little as he could get away with.
Jack surfaced a while later to find his youngest brother showing Marie-Claire, now a dignified young lady of nine, how to spell out a difficult word in a story-book. The word 'enamoured' always required an older sibling, or parent, to help.
He sat down next to his children, and his brother grinned at him. "Clever lot, this." Jack just smiled, a little unsure how to respond.
"Where's Mamma?" asked Len.
"Letty woke up and wanted feeding. She'll be down in a minute."
After the Mob had run off to clean themselves up in time for supper, Joe turned to his eldest brother.
"Why do you have so many adopted children? You have plenty of your own."
"They all come with their own stories." said Jack guardedly.
One thing that had taken Jo so long was to get changed, and she wore a soft yellow evening dress when she came downstairs. It suited her well, and made her look more dignified. Lydia, who was still wearing the same blouse and skirt, scowled, but this went unnoticed.
Supper was an enjoyable meal for everyone except Lydia. Suppertimes before Rolf's death were characterized by his long lectures about his day's doings, when he was home from school. The discussion now was about the game of hide-and-seek, the journey, and the Mob's home life, flavoured by morsels of information about St. George's School for Young Men, which Stevie and Chas had left, and Mike, Felix and Geoff all attended, their younger brother Will having a place at St. Nicholas', and the Chalet School, including St. Nicholas'.
After the meal, the entire family went into the drawing-room and sat quietly, chatting, reading, sewing, and in Len's case, drawing, all the adults drinking tea. Jo hated tea, but she politely had three cups, not wanting to draw attention to herself. Jack raised an eyebrow, but said nothing.
A while later, the dodectuplets and some of the older small fry started getting fractitious. Jo took them upstairs to bed, and, tired out by the journey, Reg proposed that they all go. This was met with acclaim and within a minute, the entire Mob had vacated the room.
Jo came downstairs while Jack finished saying goodnight to all his children. She put her hand on the doorknob, but a voice from inside - Jim's voice - said her name and made her freeze.
"So, what do you think of Joey, then?"
"She's all right." responded Joe "But I don't really like her."
"Too much of a schoolgirl. I just can't see why Jack fell for her."
"I believe her to be vain." said Lydia.
"Why?" chorused Jim, Joe and Bob.
"She changed for supper, and after the journey. She also seems to be wearing make-up."
Jo was puzzled at this. Her lips were naturally red, and the white pallor of her skin required no cream. She had no need of make-up, and, even if she had, she would have scorned to wear it.
"It could just be her upbringing." said Joe. "The changing, I mean."
"Snooty upbringing." Lydia replied.
"She seems down-to-earth enough." said Joe.
"Hmm." Bob put his oar in. "I'm with Joe. I can't understand what Jack sees in her. Yet, he seems very...well, he seems quite...it looks to me as though he feels the need to look after her a lot. He does seem to make quite a big show of her. She doesn't object."
Jo, who's catchphrase, according to Reg, was 'Don't FUSS, Jack!", wasn't sure whether to laugh or get angry.
"Training." sniffed Lydia.
"What do you mean?" asked her husband.
"I mean, she expects him to do that and he knows it."
"So," Jim summarised "all in all, quite an advantageous match for Jo - we forgot to mention, Jack's very rich-"
"That'll be how she can afford all those wonderful dresses that she has to change every two minutes." sneered Lydia.
"So, what you're saying is, she's frittering away all our parents' life savings?" said her husband. Lydia nodded.
"Anyone know if she works?" asked Joe.
"Don't think she does." said Bob. "Meaning she's financially dependent on Jack."
"Let me finish." said Jim irritably. "Anyway, an advantageous match for Joey, actually quite a dangerous one for Jack."
"There's a large age gap." said Lydia, who had been reading too many romance novels of the scandal type. "She's probably using that as a lure. She might even have a few men her own age on the go."
"There was something a while ago about a Dr. Hunter." said Joe.
Joey's cheeks were burning, her eyes stung with tears. How could she have fallen so low in the eyes of her husband's family? She stood rooted to the spot as they concluded their discussion.
"So, to conclude." said Bob. "We really ought to warn Jack off her."
There were murmurs of agreement. Jo turned and ran, straight into her husband's arms.
"Oh, Joey, do watch where you're going!" he smiled as he dusted her down. She had hidden her tears well, and Jack had no idea that there was anything the matter. She said nothing to enlighten him, either.
"I'm going up to bed. The journey tired me out as well."
Jack noted the purple smudges under her soft black eyes.
"Then I'll go too." He stuck his head round the drawing-room door. Everyone gave a start. "Joey and I are just off to bed. Goodnight."
There was a guilty murmur. Jack took no notice of this, and began to climb the stairs.
Jack fell asleep quickly, but Jo stayed awake for a long time, thinking about what had been said. Then, with a jolt of horror, she remembered that these were the people Jack had grown up with, the people he had lived with longer than her, even as their marriage reached its twenty-fifth year. He might stick up for her. Or he might side with them, and cast her aside as a false lover, a woman who felt nothing for him, who merely used him to her advantage. The thing she most feared was losing her shelter within Jack's love.
This was a nightmare come true.
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