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Len had been the first to branch off from her planned future, breaking her engagement with Reg in her final year of university to follow a career teaching in the state school system.  She was now happily ensconced in the North of England, teaching modern languages at a big primary school.  She still hadn't married, but had been seeing a teacher from the nearby secondary school.  Joey had been nearly hysterical when the relationship with Reg ended, and with it her dreams of having Len and her husband settled in a wing of Freudesheim, with Len raising lots of babies and volunteering at the school.

Con had been next, with her career in journalism.  Her initial forays into writing hadn't gone particularly well, but she had found her true gift in television. She was now the co-host of a talk show, and was gaining a reputation for her pointed and insightful interviews of the famous and powerful.  Her gifts of perception served her well when it came to figuring out just what questions a politician or leader did not want asked.  Joey was still dubious about whether this was an acceptably ladylike career (writing historical novels would have been so much more appropriate) and it was probably good thing that Freudesheim still did not yet have a television.  It was probably even better that Joey hadn't gotten wind of Con's succession of handsome, charming boyfriends.

Margot had finished her medical training but had finally, and with much soul searching, decided not to enter a religious order, due to serious reservations about some of the Vatican's policies.  The rest of her plans had held, however, and she was off in Brazil at the moment, running an immunisation clinic and training local medics, adding Portugese to her list of languages.  She was becoming heavily involved in international activism, campaigning for improved health and education in third world countries, and had found a career that absorbed all her interests and energy.  However, both Joey and Jack had been deeply disappointed that she had turned away from her plan of taking religious vows, and were still convinced that knitting undershirts for poor families was a much more appropriate form of charity than marching in demonstrations and risking arrest. 

Felicity had pursued ballet with single minded obsession until the age of thirteen, when a sudden growth spurt shot her up to nearly six feet in a little over two years. She remained slender and strikingly beautiful, and with her vividw colouring and graceful carriage was much in demand as fashion model in Milan, having started after leaving school at the age of seventeen. University had not been an option - Flixy was definitely the academic dunce of the family, even though she was quick witted and had a keen sense of real world practicality which served her well in her career.  Her parents were still at the bemused stage and hadn't quite decided what they thought about their fourth daughter's choice of career.

********


"I'm a what?!"


"A prefect.  Surely you're familiar with the concept," Miss Ferrars looked at Cecilia with an expression of amusement.


"But, why me?  I'm only fifteen!"


"True, but you are in Upper Sixth and this is your last year of school.  You have also repeatedly demonstrated that the academic work provided by the school is not sufficient to occupy your attention, so I do not see a problem balancing work and school. We aren't asking you to be Head Girl, but you are fully capable of acting as a prefect," The Headmistress looked at the younger girl expectantly.
Cecilia paused, twisting her hands in front of her. "This isn't..." she paused.


"Isn't what?"


"Isn't my about my family?" she got out in a rush, and stood there, looking much younger than her fifteen years.


"Your family?"


"Yes. Everyone else in my family has been a prefect, and I don't want to be made one just to follow Maynard tradition.  I've never been form prefect or dormy prefect or anything like that before, and, well, I'm not exactly much of a leader."


Miss Ferrars sat back with a thoughtful look.  She was new to the post of Headmistress, having succeeded Miss Annersley on her retirement the year before, and was still feeling her way into her new responsibilities.  "No, your sisters weren't considered when we made this decision.  Your length of time at the school was, however, and your familiarity with school traditions.  It will give a challenge, and a change to stretch your abilities."


"Okay, I suppose."


********

"Is that everyone?  Then let's get started."

The prefects of the Chalet school seated themselves around the wide table.  The Head Girl, Carlotta von Ahlen, looked around at her fellow grandees.  "Margie, what's on the agenda for today?"


Marjorie Graves, the second prefect, looked at her notes. "Evening activities for the term, plus the results of the tryouts for school teams."


Lisa Morrison, the Games Prefect, looked up, shaking curly brown hair back from her freckled face.  "What are we going to do about the evening entertainment?  I don't think country dancing and tableaux are going to cut it among the older girls this year: there was enough complaining about it last year."


"Can anyone think of anything else?" asked Chris Willoughby, the magazine prefect.  "We've done paper games, we've done tableaux, we've done obstacle courses and sheets and pillowcase parties and treasure hunts and costume contests and book games and pretty much everything you can do with crepe paper and pins."  This was delivered at the rapid fire pace typical of the short, dark haired girl.


Bethany Atherton, the second Games Prefect, broke in.  "We could always ask our parents and older sisters if they have any good ideas from when they were here."


"No," Cecilia spoke up for the first time that meeting.  "We need something new."  The others looked over at the youngest of the prefects.


"What do you mean?" asked Carlotta.


"We need something new.  Something that hasn't been done by our mothers and sisters and aunts and cousins.  We've been doing the same things over and over since the school was founded forty years ago, and we can't seem to move past it." She paused for a moment, thinking intently. "Things need to be shaken up or the school is going to be playing charades and having sheets and pillowcases parties into the next century and it'll be our children sitting here complaining about it."


Hilary Simpson, the Hobbies prefect, snorted in a decidedly unladylike fashion.  "Can we ditch the raffia mats and embroidery lessons while we're at it?  I can see learning mending and basic sewing, but who embroiders these days?  Mum was complaining about all the junk she ends up with after the school sale.  There are only so many badly made placemats and embroidered tea cloths that any one person needs." 

The music prefect, Vreneli Zinkel, added her two cents. "I'd love some new options for music. I like classical music and folk music, but there's a lot of other music out there.  Some rock records for the evening dancing would be fantastic, or some more modern music for choir, or an option to learn guitar along with violin and cello."


"Or a chance to go to the movies!"


"How about a dance with rock music and actual boys to dance with.  It's so hard to cram all your fun into the holidays."


"Or books that were written in this half of the century."


"But what can we do about it?  This is the way they've always done things, and they don't generally ask the prefects when it comes to school policy."


Cecilia sat up with an intent expression on her face, and the others paused to wait to hear what she had to say. "We need to think about this. If we go to the staff and whinge on about all the things we can't do, they're just going to ignore us, or brush us off and tell us that there's no need to try to be fast.  Or worse yet, tell us that if paper games and country dancing were good enough for them, they should be good enough for us."


"So what can we do? " asked Chris.


"We have to come up with a plan: work out our ideas, and come up with constructive changes, and reasons why we want them, and not just because everyone else is doing it.  And we need support, from the other sixths if possible, and maybe the fifths, too.  If we're all involved, it will be harder to ignore us."


The other prefects looked at her thoughtfully, the ideas turning over in their heads, and they settled down to plan.


********


Lisa, Cecilia, Bethany and Christine were sitting in the prefects common room, plotting their attack.
"But what can we possibly come up with for a reason to have social events with boys' schools. You know the school is absolute death on anything to do with sex or dating or even the bare idea that we might actually want boys for something other than a brother or cousin, and I can't see explaining to Ferry or Smitty that we think they're kind of cute," said Chris.


The others laughed, and Cecilia chimed in with "Practice."


"Practice? You can't be serious," said Lisa.


"Not that kind of practice, I mean practice dealing with boys as actual people. Most of us are going to go to university or training college, or get jobs, and we're going to meet boys there, and have to talk to them and socialise with them and date them.  Sitting up here on the Platz, we don't really do that, and it's easy to get overwhelmed when we suddenly have to learn at age eighteen or nineteen.  You can end up doing what my cousins did, and marry the first eligible man you meet after you leave school."


"Or doing what my sister did," said Lisa soberly.  "I certainly don't want a baby when I'm eighteen and I really don't want to have to quit university because of an accident. But Jean was swept off her feet by the first boy she ever really knew, and had no idea what she was getting into."

 




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