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Author's Chapter Notes:

The beginning of Half Term weekend

This story begins high up on a mountain platz in Switzerland, where nestled the famous Chalet School.  It was the Friday morning of half term and Vb were excited.  They were all looking forward to their weekend excursion that was due to begin in only one hour’s time.  Currently assembled in their Common Room the talk was of nothing but the impending trip.




Len Maynard suddenly came flying into the room and rushed  straight up to where her triplet sisters, Con and Margot, and her friend Rikki, were standing.




“Guess what?” she gasped breathlessly.




“What’s up?” replied Margot, using the forbidden slang expression with some relish.




“There’s a shortage of Staff to go with us on the expeditions this half term,” Len said.




The others looked at her in dismay.




“Does that mean we won’t be able to go?” said Rikki, consternation in her voice.




“No, we’re going all right,” said Len.




“Thank goodness!” Margot responded with relief.




Len continued, “It’s just that, as well as Ferry, we’ll have Matey accompanying us!”




Margot’s face dropped comically.  A chorus of “Oh no!”, “You’re joking?!” “Not Matey?” filled the air.




“Not that I don’t like her, but she’s always so on-the-spot,” added Con, voicing everyone’s opinion.  “We won’t be able to get away with anything while she’s there.”




“And what, exactly, were you planning on getting away with?” a clear, slightly amused voice enquired.




Con jumped guiltily and was echoed by Margot.




“Nothing Mary-Lou!”  Len spoke for them all, “It’s just, well, it’ll be difficult to relax with Matey there.  She’s not one to let her hair down.  Do you remember last year, when she had to accompany Lower 4a?  Lucy told me they all had dormy inspections every morning!”




“And some of them weren’t allowed to go souvenir shopping until they’d remade their beds about six times,” interjected Rikki.




“Yes, I’ve heard about that,” conceded Mary-Lou, “However you’ll have to make up your minds to make the most of it.  It’s either go with Matey or not go at all.  Miss Ferrars can’t be solely responsible for all of your crowd.”




They could only agree.




It turned out that there were not enough people in the three fifth forms (who were all visiting the same place, Rot Haus, a famous historic house in their part of Switzerland) to fill three coaches, but slightly too many for two coaches.  So two Mistresses and four girls were to travel together by car.  To be exact, Matey, Miss Ferrars, the triplets and Rikki were to travel together in a large, ancient old school banger.




Miss Ferrars opted to drive while Matey volunteered read the map.  They were unable to follow the coaches as they had both left half an hour previously, while Matey had been busy checking through the car’s first aid kit.  The four girls helped load the luggage into the boot and packed themselves into the large back seat.  Luckily there was just enough room for the four of them without squashing.




Nearly three hours later, as they made their way along a winding country road, Matey finally revealed she wasn’t actually much good at map reading and she hadn’t really had a clue which road they were on for about the last hour.  Miss Ferrars simply sighed and suggested they carry on down this road until they came to a sign pointing to the next big town.  They could then look it up on the map and figure out a new route together.  Matey agreed meekly and the girls looked at each other silently.




About two minutes later there was a loud bang, the car swerved and jolted and a cloud of thick grey smoke filled the air.





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