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I arrived back to the Platz to hear Rosalie airing her grievances against a group of girls who were staying nearby due to relatives at the San and who had seemingly sworn a feud against the school. It all seemed remarkably silly, even when Nancy, Kathie and I ran across them on our way back from Biddy’s one evening. We were outraged to begin with but in retrospect we realised it was a bit silly. The School was on the receiving end of several pranks that they seemed to think were amusing and nothing seemed to get through to them to give it a rest. Things seemed to have calmed down a little by half term with a couple of the girls coming to their senses over the whole sorry affair. Peggy, Vida and I headed to Neuchatel for a quiet half term away from the trials and tribulations of the Platz to do some general walking and generally get some well earned rest. Even so, I was frustrated that everybody continued to insist on wrapping me in cotton wool; but I was forced to admit that I was feeling much easier with life than I had been for a long time.

 

The second half of term brought the news of the arrival of Rebecca and Philip’s new baby, Claire Eileen in mid June. I was sorry to be missing out on her first few weeks in the world as I’d been there when both Sarah and Jack were newborn. I contented myself with going to visit Hilary Graves’ new son, Philip, who was known as Winkie, to fill the gap I felt by missing out on seeing Claire. Elizabeth and Aunt Jane both wrote glowing letters of the new arrival and Colin sent on some pictures Rebecca had asked him to take for me, but even so I couldn’t help but feel a little left out of the new arrival. Harriet had begged some leave so she could go back to see Claire and in the same letter hinted heavily that there was somebody significant forming a part of her life although she didn’t explicitly say so. That was when I suddenly woke up to the realisation that Harriet was no longer the young child I so often pictured her as. I knew that she had grown up and was a young woman with her own mind but at the same time I still thought of her as that little blonde girl in the blue dress asking a million questions about life. Time passed by so quickly it was impossible to snatch hold of a moment and try and keep it.

 

Term ended with a resolution to the feud between the girls and us after their youngest had gone missing and caused general alarm and chaos across the Platz in searching for her. The school’s sale of work was a great success as usual and after one final scare with young Win Everett the holidays were upon us and we were facing the prospect of another school year come September. We went our separate ways at the end of term, Peggy to her sister Mary, Nancy and Kathie to a few snatched days over the border in Italy and I to Liverpool to Aunt Jane’s knowing that everything had changed there once more. I never got used to those final farewells at the end of term even though I knew that come September everything would be the same once more.

 

Arriving back at Aunt Jane’s for the summer only served to remind me how much things were changing now. With Elizabeth married and living with James, Caroline and David had moved in with Aunt Jane, although at seventeen David had declared that he didn’t have too many intentions of staying much longer. For the duration of the holidays I was sharing my old room with Caroline rather than Elizabeth, which took some getting used to, and Aunt Jane had her old room back whilst David moved on to the settee in the front room on the rare evenings he stayed. Rebecca’s house was now the proper family home she had so often craved with only her, Philip, Sarah Jack and new baby Claire they made every inch the contented family. Claire was a lovely baby with huge, curious blue eyes that stared, fascinated with everything. Sarah was thrilled that Rebecca allowed her to hold Claire from time to time and I knew that the two of them would grow up close. Jack, on the other hand, wasn’t quite as enthralled and had calmly informed Rebecca that he would rather have a dog with that logic that almost three year olds possess. Harriet paid a fleeting visit to verify that I was still in one piece and had made a full recovery. She expounded a little on the mystery man in her life, one Dr Martin Fitzpatrick, a junior doctor on the paediatric ward where Harriet worked. They had been working together for a couple of years now and everyone had always thought that he had interests in her direction. It had taken him saving her from almost being run over one day for him to act on it and the two of them had been shyly courting since Easter. It was good to see her happy with someone, even though she herself admitted that she had no idea where the road of life would lead them.

 

I saw July out in Liverpool before moving south to spend the first two weeks of August on Guernsey with Beth, Noel and Rosie, Beth having insisted that I go for a holiday after the events of Easter term. It had meant turning down the chance to do some more field work with Professor Stewart but he had been quite insistent that I took a holiday and he would see me at Christmas instead, leading me to wonder just how much contact he was having with school. It had been two long years since I’d last seen Beth and Rosie had grown up beyond all recognition in that time. This time I was able to see so much more of Guernsey than I had been able to on my two previous visits but we were content to spend long days doing nothing but sitting in the sun and watching the world go by. At three Rosie was very much her own person, viewing the world with a wide-eyed, yet calmly accepting, intrigue. She had any number of friends amongst the other young fry on the island, not to mention the summer visitors. I hardly saw anything of Noel during my stay as he was away working in London. Beth admitted to me that they had been talking a lot more about a move. I knew she wasn’t keen to leave Guernsey, especially as it was such a wonderful place to bring up Rosie not to mention it having been where both she and Noel had grown up. At the end of the fortnight I was sorry to leave but promised Beth that I wouldn’t leave it a further two years before I made a return visit.

 

From Guernsey I went to spend a fortnight at Tish’s where we were joined by Lucy, Nicole and Samantha. We had decided to make it an annual event since Tish’s parents headed to the continent every August. Samantha was somewhat put out that I hadn’t brought ‘Uncle Colin’ along but after I explained that he had to work she seemed a little more placated. Nicole admitted that she had been seeing a young man she worked with for a few weeks but if he didn’t like Samantha they had no future. Lucy seemed quieter than usual but shrugged it off saying that she was just tired after spending long days researching for her thesis and a seminar paper she would be giving in November. We knew better than to push her to open up more but it didn’t stop us privately sharing our worries. Still, the break seemed to have done her some good and she was a little more like her usual self by the end of the holiday.

 

I took Samantha back to Liverpool with me for the last couple of weeks, partly so she could see her ‘Uncle Colin’, partly because I was only to aware that so long as I was teaching at the Chalet School my time with her was limited. She and Sarah renewed the friendship that they had begun the previous summer and Samantha revelled in being allowed to help with baby Claire. She was less inclined to be weepy now, although she still had her moments, which was only natural. I was feeling more content about things with Colin now, although I still hadn’t confessed to having overheard he and Nicole at Easter. After everything I’d gone through with Matthew I’d never imagined that I would be able to give so much of myself to one person but Colin had changed all that. I still had my moments of doubt but they were becoming increasingly infrequent as I learned to realise that I had made the right choice.

 

The new year got off to an interesting start as we found ourselves taking in the girls of nearby St Hilda’s, which had just moved up to the area and had burned down just as term was due to start. We were joined in the staff room by the two uninjured members of St Hilda’s staff, one Edith Kent and one Miriam Ashley, the Head, Miss Holroyd, having been seriously injured in the fire. The whole incident had provoked a bout of reminiscing from some of the older members of staff who remembered the first time that the school had come to the rescue with St Scholastika’s at the Tiern See, with interjections from Peggy who had heard the whole yarn from her elder sister Mary.

 

We were none too chuffed to be lumped over to the Chalet School, Nancy told Kathie, Peggy and I one night a week or so into term from her vantage point as a former St Scholastika’s girl. We’d just got everything settled and set up properly over at St Scholastika’s and then Miss Browne decided to call it a day. Of course, said Nancy with a frown. We’d got over our petty squabbles when we’d first gone out to the Tiern See after that dreadful skating accident where Jo nearly died so by the time we were joined up we were all quite pally.

Do you foresee squalls then, I asked, shifting a little to make myself more comfortable on the cramped bed.

If it’s anything like the time we joined up with the Tanswick Chalet School when we were at Plas Howell, began Peggy. What a school that was!

If that dratted cat’s got anything to do with it then yes, I certainly foresee squalls, exclaimed Kathie almost indignantly. Anything more ridiculous I have yet to see! Not that those little ninnies in Lower IV see it as ridiculous, of course, she added ruefully.

I chuckled. Calm down old thing, it’s only a cat.

Kathie rolled her eyes. If that cat is going to provoke idiocy of that degree then I’ll quite happily wring its neck!

Nancy chortled and slipped an arm around Kathie. No you wouldn’t you old softie! Anyway, what do you make of Misses Ashley and Kent?

I like Miss Kent, said Peggy. But I wonder what made you associate idiocy with Miss Ashley, she asked with a half smile, her eyes twinkling mischievously.

Oh you, I said with a friendly punch to Peggy’s arm. I’m sure she’s alright really underneath that tough exterior. She’s only doing what she thinks to be best for St Hilda’s after all. I admit that she’s not making much of an effort with us but in all fairness to her it can’t be easy trying to break into an established staff room.

True, mused Nancy. I mean she gave everything up to go out to Geneva with that Miss Holroyd and help her start from scratch when she could just as easily have stayed in England and progressed her own career. And then to watch all their Oberland dreams go up in smoke just like that.

But from what Miss Kent’s told me, protested Peggy. She’s always had ideas above her station and needs taking down a peg or two.

There’s no right way to go about that though, I pointed out. I say we can only be friendly to her and try to bring her down from that high horse of hers a little.

Still doesn’t solve the problem of that dratted cat though, groaned Kathie. Or the dratted Middles! I’m sure we should put them in a box or something until they become respectable Seniors.

Someone’s really rattled your cage to day, haven’t they, asked Nancy jokingly.

Kathie heaved a sigh and cuddled in closer to Nancy. Long day, she muttered. Not helped by soppy middles and a troublesome cat.

Peggy practically exploded with laughter. I’d love the Middles to hear you calling them soppy! Anyway Kathie, you do look all done in, wherever did you go rambling this afternoon? C’mon Sharlie, we’ll turn in and leave those two to their fond goodnights.

 

And with that Peggy leapt up and hauled me to my feet, returning the faces pulled by Nancy and Kathie as she did so.

 

Things at school were quiet for the next week or so until the news was broken that Herr Laubach, the former art master, had died. We’d all been fond of him but he had been ill for so long that in some ways it came as a blessing. We were idly musing on the subject in the staff room when Peggy burst in, she had been at the San visiting Naomi Elton who was making remarkable progress after her accident two years previously. I had known Peggy long enough to realise that she was in a flaming temper as she was followed in by Miriam Ashley.

 

I need to talk to you three, hissed Peggy, grabbing my arm and pulling me up, signalling to Nancy and Kathie to follow.

 

Shrugging, we followed her into the staff room where we worked, which was empty.

 

What’s all this in aid of, Nancy asked as Peggy slammed the door.

I suppose you’ve all heard about poor old Herr Laubach, she asked and we nodded.

How did you… began Kathie.

I saw Rosalie on my way back from the San. You’ll never guess what that Miss Ashley said. Peggy looked as though she were fit to burst. “So he’s really gone? Then there ought to be a chance for St Hilda’s with that place and we could be on our own again!” The three of us stared, open mouthed.

What did you say to that, inquired Nancy.

Nothing, groaned Peggy. I was about to give her a right piece of my mind but Rosalie didn’t give me the chance to, that’s the problem with older cousins! She sent me back here ahead, I don’t know what she said to… that… that thing! I can’t believe anyone would be so insensitive! I’m still boiling!

I’ll bet, responded Kathie. I wonder you didn’t give her a good shove over the edge of the Platz!

I raised an eyebrow. It’s as well she’s got you Nance.

Nancy chuckled. She can be a bit extreme on occasion, but I think on this one it’s merited. Although I wouldn’t have gone for that solution personally… I do think it was frightfully insensitive of her and she needs to realise that she can’t get away with going and saying things like that.

Peggy groaned suddenly. I think it might have been my fault in the first instance.

How so, I asked.

I pointed out St Nicholas to her on the way over to the San. Peggy smacked her hand against her forehead. She must have got it into her head to think about relocating St Hilda’s there, oh the ass!

I put a reassuring arm around her shoulders. You weren’t to know though Peg.

I know, she groaned. But that doesn’t make things any better – I still feel like an idiot!

I don’t suppose Miss Ashley’s feeling any cleverer than you if she’s got an ounce of common sense, said Nancy pointedly. And we’ll just have to carry on being civil to her – I said civil! If we were to be rude it would make us no better than her. Anyway, the sooner we can put an end to this idiotic feud the better, don’t you think?

Absolutely, I said, nodding in agreement.

 

By the end of term the feud between the two schools had cleared up, although not without event. It had, naturally, involved the Middles who, in a fit of boredom, had decided to try and help Gaudenz varnishing the doors only to coat them in golden syrup. This was followed by Jack Lambert and Gillie Carstin’s rescue of Minette, the cat, from the roof in the middle of the night resulting in them being helped down by Nancy who herself was none to pleased to be losing out on her sleep. In the staff room Miriam Ashley soon realised the error of her remarks over Herr Laubach’s death and with some help had settled down a lot better by the end of term. The Christmas play ended term on a high note as the feud was laid to rest once and for all and the two schools broke up the firmest of friends.




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