Summary: Messages to Mademoiselle. Sad in parts. Open to be added to if anyone has an idea of a letter from a character and wishes to do so.
Categories: Ste Therese's House Characters: Hilda Annersley, Madge (Bettany) Russell, Simone (Lecoutier) de Bersac, Therese Le Pattre
School Period: Armishire, Guernsey, St Briavel's
School Name: Chalet School
Genre: Family, Friendship
Chapters: 3 Completed: No
Word count: 4063 Read: 7397
Published: 05 Sep 2012 Updated: 17 Feb 2013
I'm not sure if this has already been done, but the plot bunny just wouldn't leave !
1. Chapter 1 Madge. Guernsey 1940 by Beecharmer
2. Chapter 2 Cornelia by Beecharmer
3. Chapter 3 Simone by Beecharmer
Chapter 1 Madge. Guernsey 1940 by Beecharmer
I can't believe it's been nearly six months since you left. I keep wanting to note things down to tell you, or to see what you think about a decision, before realising that I can't do so anymore. Or at least - there's no physical address I can send it to, much as I feel you are still there. Somewhere, even if I can't see you anymore, read your reply or hear your voice.
You left us far too early, my dearest friend. We were supposed to grow old as we built up our school, our security, safe haven. Although it seems such a foolish thought now, I should have realised that our age difference made that unlikely, even before I met Jem and my life took a different route. I realise nowjust how much I left on your shoulders when I married, yet as ever you didn't complain, you simply did what needed to be done.
I still find it so hard not to think that you're just in another room, or at the school perhaps. I pick up the phone to ring you, to check in daily, as we used to do. I know it's silly, after all we stopped doing that when you first fell ill, but at least we saw each other fairly often. Then with the chaos of the past few years, I just didn't have time to properly register that you really have gone. There is still a sense of unreality about it, as if perhaps you are just on holiday.
Things are still all in confusion here, we will have to move the school again. Joey is raging about it, having to leave her little home. I wish I could feel that it was safe to stay, but all of the signs suggest that France will fall, and this proud island will not remain a free place for long. Joey may wail, but she made herself a possible target when she opposed the system, none of us will feel her safe until she is well on the way to the mainland with the Triplets. I wish you could have seen her with the triplets, they are such cheerful, smiley little souls, and Joey manages them so well.
You would be proud of her, Therese. She's taken to motherhood in a way that I'd never have expected. Typically heedless of herself, and flippant about the 'brats' of course, but she is a wonderful mother. She manages her three so well, you would never think that she was that young girl we used to watch for chills, or overwork. It seems so strange sometimes to think of her as the same Joey who was never going to marry, let alone have children. She has another book published too, you know. I don't remember whether you ever knew about Gypsy Jocelyn, but it seems sure to be a great success.
The school is doing well despite all of the moves, though we are a much smaller affair now. We have a great team there, I truely consider most of them friends and family, not staff. Hilda was so reluctant to take the helm when you were sure that you wouldn't be coming back to be headmistress, yet she is another who has taken to her role as if born to be there. I know that I can leave most decisions to her, which is a relief as my nursery is so full now.
That's another sadness, my youngest will never know you. Even David and Sybil will have only slight memories, although Peggy and Rix will perhaps have more. They won't know your laugh, or be taught by you. They won't be able to turn to you for help in the way I slightly expected them to be able to, before your illness became so bad. As I always assumed I would be able to have you there for advice, so I hoped it for them, for them to know and love their 'Aunt Therese'
I've so much to talk to you about, so many things I would want to ask your advice, or hear your calm opinion. No one letter could express the amount I miss you, my friend. I know in my head that this is the right thing given the circumstances. After all, you're no longer in pain, have gone to a better place. Yet a selfish part of my heart wishes you were still here, still my sounding board and confidante, my dear friend.
Yet I wouldn't want you to be here to see what is happening to your dear France, or know the losses that I am sure we'll suffer before the madness of this war is over. I know that you'd worry about your family, and be sad that Simone and Renee's futures cannot go on exactly as planned. They are also growing up so well, strong and reliable young women, just as you wanted them to be, and all because of you, your strength and support. I always felt that you were more like mother to Simone at least. I wonder sometimes whether she feels or felt the same.
So I will stop being selfish, wishing that you could still be with us here,that you had a future along with us, rather than your own direction. I know that you were in pain, and that you were ready to go.
I will be leaving this home, this refuge, soon, and returning to England, to Armishire in fact. It seems just barely minutes since we arrived, yet this feels like another home that we are leaving. It's the right decision, but somehow I feel a need to mourn our return to the mainland. We had our plan, you and I, our escape from an England that was so unforgiving of our lack of capital. Yes, I return in a better financial state, but the Tyrol was such a refuge, and with the war the whole past few years, just seem to get further away, as if it were all a dream. I return to England a respectable wife and mother, with a successful business. I ought to feel proud, feel lucky for my blessings, and I do. I just feel sometimes so far from that young idealistic girl you agreed to take a risk with, not that many years ago. Perhaps that's why you're so much on my mind at the moment. You believed in me, trusted that we could make this school work; And we did. It did work, it does work, and I pray that it will continue to do so in it's new home.
I am rambling now, my dear Therese, and I shall finish this letter, go on with the preparations for leaving, return to England. Thank you. Even in your absence you have helped, as always you ground me and help me to be stronger.
With all love,
Chapter 2 Cornelia by Beecharmer
This might be slightly over the top in parts. But thats the way it came out! Thank you all for reviewing and being interested. I hope it continues to work, thank you for reading.
I don't quite know why I'm writing this, it seems quite crazy really... But the news of Simone's marriage just brought everything back, and if I don't put some of these feelings somewhere, well I'll just bust. Out and out explode with everything, laughter and tears at once. And that would be something to beat the band, as Evvie and I used to say!
Simone's getting married tomorrow, you know. Well of course you know, if you are in heaven or wherever. I don't mean hell of course. But I think you Catholics might go to limbo? We didn't know though, at school. About Simone I mean, not about limbo. Didn't know she would be getting married. Or rather didn't realise it would be so soon, so sudden.
We collected together everything we could in the time, and I know Joey and the others have been working flat out to make her a wedding dress and meal. It feels a happy occasion, but ... also so strange, to be here, celebrating this, when you're not.
I never really thought about Simone without thinking about you, I know she is a very nice person, but I sort of felt quite mixed up about her, though I hope no one ever knew that, especially her. I know you loved her, and she you, it was obvious from how you looked after her, and how upset she was when you were ill. I do wonder how she feels, whether the fact that she has her own mother makes any difference how much she misses you. I wish I could ask her in a way, find out whether it is a confusing time, whether it brings your death home to her all of a sudden, all amongst all of her happiness.
Though I guess she might not be thinking of you at all. After all she has a mother of her own anyway, a sister, and all her friends fussing around her. Her mother and father can't get here, there isn't time. They'll be here in time for the return from honeymoon, so I guess that's something for her. She's hiding well, but she occasionally suddenly looks sad, when she thinks people aren't looking.
She's a teacher now, you know, and it isn't the sort of thing I could ever ask her, but I wonder sometimes if she misses you as much as I do. She was your real family, after all, knew you as a person, not a headmistress. Did you ever think of me as anything other than a Chalet School pupil? I guess I'll never know really.
Back again, had to go to a lesson, put this away for a while. You know, I was thinking the other day about my first few terms - I was a little beast, there's no two ways about it. I didn't deserve your patience, the way you tried to make me see the errors of my ways. I was agin the government, and to begin with that was you too. I was determined that I'd make Poppa remove me from the school as soon as term ended. Then all that situation with the caves, and that mad man, and everyone looked out for me, and I don't know ... I guess I mellowed.
I was still sure that rules were meant to be broken, were for other people, not for me. I don't know when that changed really. I think these things just creep up on you I guess. Now here I am, Head Girl no less. People looking to me as an example.
ME ! An example. Yes ma'am, Cornelia Flower, a figure of respect and a good example. I wonder sometimes if you would ever think that possible, with all of my scrapes. When I do think about things at all, I like to think you would be proud of me Mademoiselle. I hope you would be, after all I've done my best, and saints can do no more. It has been a funny old time with the school, and I hope I did the right things, paid attention where I should.
Would you be proud of me? Something in me wonders how I could make anyone proud. Aways been one on my own really, even in the middle of being part of our gang, of the Quintette. Perhaps thats why I did such mad things. Why knows! I don't know how so many of these girls do it, they seem to just know what they should and shouldn't do. It's rarely been that clear to me somehow. You made it clearest, you and Joey were real bricks to me, but everyone had a bit of Joey's attention, she couldn't be there the way you were.
You managed to make me feel that you really did care. Maybe you did that for all the girls, I don't know. I find it hard to see why you would make a special effort for the little horror that I was, that I sometimes feel I still am. But to me, well you did feel as though you mothered me, as much as I'd let anyone back then.
I seem to have bad luck with mother or mother figures, don't stick around long. Perhaps I deserve it. I've not always been an easy person to mother, I'd reckon.
I hope you'd be proud. I wanted to make you proud, but I was still such a kid when you died really, I just didn't realise how little time there was to show you I'd changed. I guess, well I THINK I've changed. I know I feel less angry towards people, more aware I have to behave a bit, and less inclined to be selfish. I know some of the staff and girls thought me to be hard, and perhaps I was, or am.
I feel a devil in me sometimes, that says now Mademoiselle has gone too what's the point, no one who cares really sticks around. I don't feel worth people's praise inside, though you used to make me feel maybe I wasn't quite that bad. I really hope that you would he proud of me now. Everyone seemed to think it was a good thing that I did with that plane, though I couldn't help that poor pilot in the end... I guess the selfish little girl who first joined the school would never have done that; So you did a good job with me, you know.
I hope you know. Do dead people watch what is going on? I don't know. I've never felt really that my 'real' mother was watching from wherever folk go on to, yet I really do feel as though you are there, sympathetic, clucking a bit when I've been stupid about something. Ready to point me in the right direction when I've gone off the rails again.
Sorry, had to stop for a moment. Bit of grit in my eye...
Why am I lying? No one will see this letter anyway! I had to stop as... well it was all too much, thinking of you being gone forever. I think I need to let it out, but I don't know how. Huh !! I need your advice on how to cope without you and your advice ! Now isn't that something, says a lot really.
The accident was almost a good thing, you know. The shock of that allowed me to feel glad for the first time that you were gone, apart from I was glad before about you being out of pain of course. I know you would have been so upset. I think perhaps thats what real love is, don't you think? I would have been worried about you being upset than worried for myself. It was a way for me to cope, I suppose, feeling that way, but it did help.
Even as I write this, it seems sorta crazy somehow, that I can feel so close to you, miss you so much, yet not really feel I know you by your name. Oh I know what it is... What it was, I suppose I should say now... But I would no sooner think of you as Therese, or even Mademoiselle Lepattre as I would of calling you Napoleon, or Queen Elizabeth.
Those names might be you to someone else, but they aren't the way I know, well knew, you. You're Mademoiselle, and it's true, strange though it is, I only think of you by your title, yet you were closer than anyone but Poppa really.
It was a real shock, you know - when they said you'd gone. I still feel a gadwallopping fool for fainting as I did. There just felt as if there had been no warning, although little idiot that I was, I should have known - after all you were an invalid for more than two years before that. But the childish me couldn't process that properly. You might be ill, but you'd always be THERE. Then suddenly you weren't. You'd gone, and would never be THERE again.
I'd been so happy only half an hour before, enjoying being back, being Games Captain, wrapped up in such silly things. I'm ashamed to say that you hadn't even been on my mind, if I were to be honest. You see, you'd been so much better recently.
I wonder if you ever knew - a few of us were planning to go to Paris to see you, to spend Easter with you. I was looking forward to that so much, never occurred to me that it might not happen. Then all of a sudden you were gone, and I couldn't follow, couldn't visit or pick up a telephone to talk to you, clear my head.
I know you would have been in pain if you had lived, and now that I know that, I wouldn't change to have you slog on, be unable to cope with the pain. I know it's best, but... but it was so sudden. i fainted, you know, lost control, like an idiot. I hope that you didn't look down and think badly of me, I wasn't being strong and self sufficient them. I hadn't expected it, and then to hear it announced almost like a games fixture or school play. It was too much.
Back again. Had to stop for a while. couldn't quite get my head around those memories yet.
It won't be long before I leave here, you know. I know it's time to go, I've been here a long time already, I can't stay at school forever. But it feels...it feels more than the idea of leaving school. It's as though I'm having to say goodbye again, if I go. The school has been my home, like a family.
In a strange way, though I don't even know if you realised it, you were so much like I'd imagine a mother to be. Strict and firm, but always sympathetic, you couldn't condone my behaviour, but ... well ... you understood.
I don't love many people, I guess I'm too tough a nut to crack for that, even now. But I loved you Mademoiselle, and I wanted you to know that. Even if it doesn't mean anything to you, it does to me.
I guess I'm saying my goodbye in this letter. i never got to say a proper goodbye, this wedding of Simone's is bringing that home to me, however much I thought I had it buried. I hope you're watching, I hope you know how we all feel, felt, no - feel - about you. I'll not be showing this to anyone, they'd think I was soft in the head, writing to a dead person. But I'll know. I'll know I've said my piece.
Goodbye Mademoiselle, and God Bless. I'll make you proud, you'll see. It has helped so much to write this. I feel now that you are there beside me somehow. I'll keep trying to make you proud, I promise, if you'll just stick with me.
With Love, Dear Mademoiselle
Chapter 3 Simone by Beecharmer
I needed to get this finished, and the obvious person to end with is Simone, although I cannot quite get the style right, it will have to do ! Apologies if my french or phrasing is incorrect. I hope it isn't too bad.
If anyone else has a character that they think would suit this idea, and want to write a letter to Therese, please feel free to add as a new chapter. I will make the story open if I can so that is possible.
Ma tres chere Cousine Elise,
I am to be married later today, and although I am happy, so happy, my sadness that you are not with me does not leave. My parents cannot make the ceremony this day either, it has all happened so quickly, but somehow that feels fitting. If you cannot be there, you who in so many ways behaved as a mother to me, I feel that it would be all the stranger if they were present. It almost makes it easier to bear, since you could perhaps be with them, delayed, sending your wishes from a distance. Instead of gone, in the next world and never to roll your eyes and adjust my dress again.
Joey has been so kind, and I will have far more of a celebration than I ever expected. We have made me a dress, and I have borrowed or been given, oh so many things to make this a special day. I am so grateful, and know I am loved. I have been treated so well, aided and pampered, and even the girls have collected for me I believe. Such kindness, and it does look likely to be a lovely day. A day I never really expected to have anything other than the formality, due to our circumstances. I am so very lucky.
I know it is foolish thing to wish, but a small part of me almost dreams that when I get there, you will be at the door, a proud look upon your face. I would be able to introduce you to my new husband after our vows, have your blessing upon us. I would be able to look forward to maybe one day showing you a child, our child if we should be so blessed. You would enjoy being almost a grandmere, being able to sew beautiful garments for them, teach them to be neat, reliable, loyal. Brave.
I remember so many times that I felt I could never manage, could never find myself as brave as those around me. I had such silly passions for things, for people, such jealousy. You would never let me wallow in my foolishness, yet if there were anything real and important, I knew always that you would be there. With advice, or simply a loving embrace, a reassurance that I was not alone. For I did feel so alone, so unsure in this school of oh so confident English and Austrian girls, so many of them just knew what to do. They knew what each other meant so easily, when they were joking, which slights were real. I felt too passionately for my cher Joey, did not know how strongly a friendship should be felt. You guided me, helped me to cope, not to make too great a fool of myself. I know you yourself found them a strange group on occasions, yet you knew that I had to grow stronger, had to play by their rules.
I am still to teach for now, you know. Although I will live out of the school, will have rooms in the village. I will be glad to have a space of our own, somewhere to make the beginnings of our little family. I will find it strange however, for I will live away from the school for the first time except for my time at university. The Chalet School has been my home, my family, and my life. Thanks to you, to the fact that you worked to cover my school fees, board and supplies. I am forever grateful, for I know that you would so often have been unable to buy things for yourself, not earning a salary, working simply for Renee and I to have a future. Every day that I stand in front of a class, I think of you and am so proud that I did make it through to the Sorbonne, have made my own way in the world, not wasted the education and chances in life that you gave.
I am grateful, ma chere cousine, so very grateful. It might be disloyal to mama, but I cannot help the feeling that you have also been a true mother to me, that perhaps it is fitting that if you could not be here, neither should she or Papa. I lived with them so seldom once the school began, yet you were there, always there. You would look at me sadly if you heard this, I know, and tell me to forget such thoughts, for you would not wish to take the love from my parents. They could not help our family circumstances, that I know, nor the fact that you were just so much stronger, more able to cope with the world.
I am rambling now, and I ought to try to sleep. I feel better for having admitted my sadness, my feeling of loss. I am at peace with the fact that you know I would wish you beside me. I feel now that I was foolish to even feel sadness that you are not here. For you are with me, around me every day, and I am blessed to have you there, still protecting me.
With all my love,
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