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|1st Dec 2012, 8:21 AM||--Letter from Lady D'Winter to Lady Luxum #26|
I with to express my gratitude for the kind donation you made in support of my humble establishment. It is only with the support of fine ladies such as yourself that I can continue giving the quality of education that the class of young ladies who attend my school expect.
I also wish to invite you and Mr Luxum to grace our midsummer soiree with you presence. It is organized by the older pupils and I am sure that as a lady of society yourself you understand the need for girls to learn important skills and become competent hostesses. We shall also be holding a charity auction and half the proceeds from this will go to a local charity run by the most respectable Miss Marsh which helps young girls of the serving class in between positions to obtain a new one— provided that they are decent, moral girls. The other half will go to aid our building repair fund.
Thank you again, most kindly,
|3rd Dec 2012, 10:50 AM||--Letter From Lady Luxum to Lady D’Winter #27|
I am more than happy, as always, to help the school that is educating my darling Mariah. I hope she is performing as well in all her classes as she states in her letters to me. Thank you for the invitation to the soiree, I agree with the need to teach the young ladies how to host such an evening as not all of them get the chance to learn at home as my Mariah has. I understand it is traditionally an evening for the older girls only, but may I enquire as to if any of the younger girls will be assisting?Provided of course, that they are respectable and well suited to society. I miss my darling daughter very much while she is at school and I would be certain to attend if I knew I was to see her and I’m sure the other guests would appreciate such a fine young lady as her being in attendance.
|7th Dec 2012, 7:02 AM||Chapter Twelve: Model Students #28|
Thank you all for reading this far! You can see a sneak peek of some pics from Chapter 15: Abandoned here if you to take a look. I thought they were pretty
Also don't forget for those of you on blogger you can follow the updates there or you can follow the chapters on my wordpress blog.
We didn’t have an adventure that day. Or the next. Or even the day after that. We were woken by Gladys every morning, scrambled about our morning tasks and made it to breakfast on time. Monday brought the return of classes and Henri, Jo and myself threw ourselves at our studies which provided us with a more than reasonable distraction.
In art Lady D’Winter praised Jo’s efforts and pronounced her work “much improved.” Henri must have got some last minute help from Marjorie because she was rewarded with more praise than usual also, but it was still Mariah who took out top.
While other girls took advantage of the fair weather during free time, we spent our time with our books. I correcting Jo’s spelling, Henri helping her with her drawing, Jo helping Henri when her thread tangled when she was at her embroidery and both of them helping me with my handwriting.
“Brilliant!” Henri said. It was Friday and we were taking advantaged of an abandoned corner in one of the schoolrooms and I was practicing my handwriting.
“Miss Brown always said I could do better at it if only I applied myself.” I said.
“Miss Hilton! Mis Cox! Miss Joans, you too? What are you doing inside on a fine day like this?” Miss Jane came storming down the corridor. “Are you defacing school property?”
“Oh no Miss Jane.” Jo said as Henri backed away “we were just helping Bobbie with her handwriting, see?” Miss Jane looked at the blackboard with my attempts on it.
“I see… and why would you do such a thing?”
“That’s non—” I stomped on Jo’s foot.
“Because I asked them to help me. Because of what you said the other day, Miss Jane.”
“What I said?”
“Yes, about reforming ourselves, Henri’s helping us and we’re going to try to be model students. You were our inspiration.”
“Hmph. I see. Well mind that you do!” And with that she turned on her heel and marched off.
“Why Bobbie! I am impressed!” Jo said. “How did you do it?”
“Well, we weren’t doing anything wrong…” Henri said.
“Sometimes you just have to learn how to talk to grown ups.” I said. “And sometimes telling them it’s none of their business isn’t the best plan.”
“Yes, well, lets forget that, shall we?” Jo pleaded and we all laughed.
“Goodness!” Henri said. “There’s the bell, return to class, you model students better not be late!”
Miss Hudson came in twice a week to take sewing where we covered everything from fancy needlework to plain sewing and pattern altering. We’d just finished our tapestries and so were to start on a new project.
“I hope it’s more embroidery.” Mariah said as we all gathered in the classroom. “Though I expect to do a lot of that in finishing school, but one can never have enough decorations for when one gets married and has a house to fill.”
“If you’re talking about filling a house.” Jo said. “Baby’s clothes would be more useful. Every mother, even you, Mariah, needs to know how to sew those.
“Oh, they’re simple to sew, I’m sure.” Mariah said. “But the embroidery on MY baby’s clothes shall be the most exquisite. Why—”
But we never found out why what, because we heard footsteps in the hallway and all rushed to stand behind out desks.
Miss Hudson entered the room and to my surprise she was followed by Lady D’Winter.
“Good afternoon young ladies!” Miss Hudson said brightly.
“Good afternoon Miss Hudson.” We chanted back. “Good afternoon Lady D’Winter.”
“Please be seated.” Lady D’Winter commanded. We all sat down.
“Now, I have an exciting new project for you all to start.” Miss Hudson told us “It is very advanced, but I’m sure you are all ready. But first your headmistress has some news for you.”
At this we all sat up.
“Now girls.” Lady D’Winter started. “For those of you are not yet accustomed to the traditions of our fine establishment, you will be interested to learn that to celebrate Midsummer the older girls host a soiree. They invite appropriate people of high breeding and it is not something the younger classes are considered fit to attend.” Lady D’Winter looked at us all with steely eyes, and I could swear she looked at Jo, Henri and I for a little longer.
“No Lady D’Winter” a few of us murmured, because it seemed some response was expected.
“This year, they have decided they will invite girls of the age nine and older, not to attend the soiree as guests you understand, but to perform a piece and assist in the handing out of refreshments.” Lady held her hand up to silence the excited ripple that spread through our class.
“Now we have a reputation to uphold and we won’t allow just any girl to represent our school. All girls attending must have shown not only that they can conduct themselves as young ladies, but that they can do so without detriment to their academic success. For this reason any girl wishing to attend must ensure that she acquires no black marks between now and the last evening of this term. Furthermore, I expect this girl to have attained first in at least one of her classes this term. The names of these girls shall be added to the program that must be at the printers by the third day of the summer term so don’t expect to slack off now and make up for it later— it will be too late. That will be all.”
With that Lady D’Winter swept out of the room.
“Oh girls!” Mariah said. “How exciting! Shall I sing or recite or play? What do you all think?”
“That’s enough Mariah.” Miss Hudson said. “I know you’re excited, but we must to work now. I’m sure your next project will thrill you all and you have until the end of the term to finish it.”
“Ohhh, what is it?” Jo asked.
“Something that will be of use to any girl who hopes to attend the soiree.” Miss Hudson said. “We will be making evening gowns.”
We all squealed and clapped. Well, all except Mariah.
“It’s all right, you can do embroidery on yours!” Jo said and I giggled at Mariah’s scowl.
“I already have an evening gown to wear to the soiree.” She said. “Many to choose from. Why would I want make one?”
“Well I’m sure you won’t be bringing any with you next term.” Miss Hudson said. “There are no evening gowns on the packing list young lady! But part of the project is to make something you’d be willing to wear in public, so if you attend you will be wearing whatever you make in my class. Now, onto work. I have a book of fashion plates and some patterns here. Lets all take a look at them and decide what styles you would like to tackle.”
Did I mention Miss Hudson was my favourite teacher?
With Mariah subdued for the moment we all got stuck into designing our new dresses.
|9th Dec 2012, 7:09 AM||--A Letter From Edmund Cooper #29|
Messrs Albert and Hadley Cooper
It has been a lonely house of late. You know I can not wait to be old enough to go off to school like you two rather than having a tutor here at home. I hope you are both applying yourselves to your studies as much as I am here at home except I hope you are having more of a jolly time at it all. My new tutor, Mr Timmons, is very quick to the cane so I must be very mindful of my behaviour. But a lonely house doesn’t mean a quiet one! Not at all. You said to keep watch and report in so consider this my report.
The arguments, both the hushed ones and the shouted ones finally petered out. They kept their arguments behind closed doors and only shouted at night so I never got the chance to eavesdrop but I did hear one thing which was something about how we couldn’t just get rid of them. A few days later and our scullery maid has been dismissed. I know because Cook was complaining about the lack of help when I was stealing cookies from the kitchen. I’m not sure who else they dismissed but it seems a funny thing to argue about. Father is away on business now and guess what? We have a new scullery maid and she isn’t half as good as the old one. She’s older and when I try to sneak cookies she’ll say “Mr Edmund, it’s only two hours until your supper. Can’t you wait until then?” where as Frankie used to not only turn a blind eye but also save me the cut off ends from cooks baking to feed to the birds. The new one doesn’t do that.
I meant to write such a smashing (do you like that? It is my new word.) letter but I have to go to my lessons soon and it would not do to be late.
With many regards,
Your devoted and dutiful brother,
Didn’t I write a grown-up letter? If you two get up to anything please tell me all about it!
|12th Dec 2012, 5:13 AM||--A Letter From Hadley Cooper #30|
Bert sends his thanks for your letter and will write to you when he has time, he is working hard for his exams. In the meantime he said for you to mind Mr Timmons as it will do you well when you do come to school next year.
Interesting that Mother and Father’s disagreement passed. I thought that perhaps it was about money again. You will not remember but when you were born Father’s business was in some trouble. I was too young at the time to understand the details but obviously things picked up again. Now I’m not so sure. If the business was in trouble then they would they dismiss our cheapest servant then re-hire an older (and more expensive)one? I think not. I do not think that they would argue over such a thing as dismissing even a long standing servant such as Frankie. My thoughts are that there was some bad behaviour amongst he servants that resulted in their dismissal and the argument was over another matter.
Bert thought your letter was very grown-up though I didn’t read him the second part of your post script! Bert is in study mode so h hasn’t gotten up to any mischief however I may have some to report to you. Our school gates have our school crest on them. It went missing. One of the fellows in my form received a letter from his friend at another school to say theirs had gone missing also and a few other school were reporting the same thing. He (and I by association) have been invited to a meeting over the incidents, so I’ll let you know what transpires.
Now I must be off. A few of the fellows are planning on making toffee this afternoon. If it comes off then I’ll send you’ll a piece!
|17th Dec 2012, 7:36 AM||Chapter Thirteen: A Friend Shared #31|
Sorry I was so late in posting this. Due to Christmas and working in retail I've been working 6 day weeks and crazy hours and have been pretty knackered. It was up ontime on my blog (and always should be) but it takes a little more work to get it up on here. I hope you enjoy anyway, despite the delay!
“But I thought we were walking together! Aren’t we friends too?” It was Saturday morning and Jo and I were rushing to get ready for the nature walk. Or rather, I was rushing and Jo was trying to read her letter she hadn’t had time to read before breakfast— though she’d still tried until I bucked her up. The morning’s post had brought the usual for me. Nothing.
“Of course we’re friends! I’m just walking with Henri today, she prom—” a knock at the door cut her off and a freckled nose poked through.
“Aren’t you two ready yet?”
“I am.” I said, pinning my collar. “Jo, you don’t have time to read that now! You’ll make us late!”
“Oh, there’s a trick to that!” Henri skipped in the room and plucked the letter out of Jo’s hands. “You rush and get ready first then read her letter to her while she’s dallying and buttoning up the wrong button to the wrong hole.”
“I have no—n oh, that’s what’s wrong!” Jo quickly put her buttons to right and Henri looked at her letter.
“Oh— it’s just from your mother. The way you had your nose stuck in it I thought it was something juicy from on of your brothers.” Henri sounded disappointed. Why the hurry to read it?”
“If I had a letter from MY mother I’d want to read it right away too!” I was still put out with Jo, but maybe if I sided with her she’d change her mind and walk with me on the nature walk.
“Well of course you would.” Henri said.
“If you all must know.” Jo scrambled her belongings into a satchel, “I wrote Mother to ask permission for Bobbie to stay the holidays with me as seeing as she can’t go home. I was trying to get to her reply—”
“She says yes.” Henri said flatly.
“Hooray!” Jo cheered and I grinned. At least she was still my friend after all. “Now I’m ready, put that letter down and come on!”
Henri put the letter down quietly and joined us as we sped out the door and down the stairs as fast as we could without actually running in the hallway and earning ourselves a scolding or worse— a black mark.
“You will come, won’t you?” Jo asked me.
“I—” of course I’d love to, but Jo cut me off.
“My brothers will all be home and we’ll have such larks. Why we have this little stream at the bottom of the garden and— Henri, what’s the matter? Why are you so glum?”
“Oh, it’s nothing.” Henri shrugged.”
“Of course it is! Now don’t keep it in!”
“It’s just, Oh, Jo! Bobbie! I also wrote my mother asking for Bobbie to stay the holidays and in the last post yesterday she sent her reply saying she’d love to have her, only I didn’t get the chance to ask her yet. But Jo asked you first, of course and I’m sure you shall have a jolly time with her and her brothers and sisters.”
“Do you have brothers and sisters?” I asked Henri.
“Yes.” She said. “But they’re all grown up now.”
“Why don’t I ask my mother if you can come too?” Jo said. “I’m sure she’d say yes.”
“But mine wouldn’t. I’m at school all term, she’ll want to see me, I know.”
“Well, how about we both go stay with you? That will be jolly, no boys! What do you say?”
“That would be lovely but I doubt very much Mother would say yes. Her and Father are getting ready to go abroad and I only got permission for Bobbie because she has no family near and I convinced Mother she was a quiet girl and wouldn’t be any trouble.”
“Well, I asked first, but you got permission first.” Jo said. “I think we’ll have to leave it up to Bobbie to choose.”
“I—” how could I choose? I really wanted to spend the holidays with Jo, I’d get to experience a live I’d never had before and it sounded like so much fun. But my short time at school had taught me how wonderful it was to have companions your own age. Would it be selfish to enjoy myself with Jo and leave Henri on her own?
“Only don’t decide now.” Henri said. “Think it over. Has Jo mentioned you’re walking with Marjorie today?”
“Yes I did!” Jo said.
“No.” I said. “You just said you were walking with Henri.”
“Yes, because Marjorie asked Henri too so she could walk with you.”
“Oh. I just thought you didn’t want to walk with me.” I admitted with a smile. I felt like a weight had been lifted off my chest.
“Oh Jo!” Henri sighed.
“You silly goose,” Jo said. “Of course I want to walk with you, but we walk in pairs and I can’t walk with you both.”
“I never thought of that.” I said. And I truly hadn’t. At home if I wanted to walk with a particular servant then any one was at my beck and call. “So friends are like desks. You have to take turns.” I mused.
Jo laughed. “Truly, this week Marjorie did ask to walk with you, sorry I never got to tell you that part, but it is nice to walk with Henri as I don’t get to spend enough time with her as you.”
“I see.” I said.
Soon we were all assembled outside and Miss Jane instructed us to form two lines. Mariah and Valerie headed up the front and Marjorie and I the rear.
“I don’t want any trouble out of you two or you’ll both have to walk in single file.” Miss Jane glared at Jo and Henri. After she turned away Marjorie giggled.
“Jo led Henri into a few scrapes last term.” She said to me.
“So I’ve heard.” I said.
We started on our walk, which was more of a march than a walk, but was pleasant all the same. Every now and then Miss Jane would stop at a point of interest and ask questions. Henri made sure to nudge Jo to encourage her to answer and I was pleased to see that every answer she offered was correct.
“Jo and Henri said that you wanted to walk with me.” I said to Marjorie as we marched along.
“Yes.” She said. “I thought it would be nice as seeing as we are both so far from home.”
“You more so than I.” I said.
“It’s not the distance so much.” She said. “It’s that it takes three months to get a letter here and another three months back. Even mailships have to go the long way around to avoid the occupied territory. There are so many things that I think I’d love to ask Mother’s advise on but there’s no point because a reply is six months away.”
“So you don’t get any letters from home then.” I said.
“Well, yes. On the ways I sent letters to Mother at every port we stopped at and she writes to me regularly only she stops three months before the end of the the year because they’d never get to me anyway. I get letters, there’s just no conversation back and forth. She wrote to me the day I left of course, so I had a letter here waiting for me when I arrived to cheer me up after nine months without word. It beat me by a day.” Marjorie smiled. “But it’s still not the same.”
“Well, that’s more than I’ve had.” I tried not to let the bitterness show in my voice. “I’ve only had one letter. That was from my nursery maid to tell me she was visiting her mother and her new address didn’t make it to me.” I sighed.
“Really? Your parents never sent one ahead for you?”
“Well, they brought me here so I guess they never thought it necessary.” I said.
“Well, I’m sure your mother will send you a bundle from the first port they stop at.” Marjorie said confidently. “Mothers are like that the first time they send their daughters away, I know. My first term here Mother sent one every day and they didn’t always arrive in the right order so it got a bit confusing, but it was nice all the same.”
“I hope so.” I said. “You— you don’t… you don’t think they’ve forgotten about me… do you?” I bit my lip, it wasn’t until I voiced it that I realsied that had been worrying at me for days.
“Not a scrap of me could think that. Trust me, they’ll be thinking about you every day. You just see. Be paitent and you’ll get the most wonderful letter ever for the wait, I promise.”
I smiled. “Thank you Marjorie.”
As we continued with our nature walk I had an added spring in my march. Just you see, she’d said, and I would. I’d wait and, knowing my mother, when my letter came it would be the bestest letter in all the world. It would be so great it would make even Jo and Henri jealous. I just had to wait a little longer.
|17th Dec 2012, 7:45 AM||-- A letter and a photo from Edmund #32|
I think I am quite grown up now. I am no longer a little boy, at any rate, many boys my age are going to school and being addressed as “young gentlemen”. I have a question and I would ask that you both respect me enough to answer truthfully. I hope I have done the right thing in addressing my question to my elder brothers and not asking mother, I though it could upset her.
I was exploring in the attic today and stuck between an old chest of draws and the wall I discovered the enclosed photograph. Mother and Father are there, don’t they look young! With them are two adults I don’t recall ever seeing before. I am there, aged about two. You two are there also, Hadley, needing a haircut as usual. So who is the baby in Mothers arms? Do I have a little brother or sister that died? I’ve gone through the family photographs this afternoon and I can not find another photo of him or her and he doesn’t look like he belongs to the other couple in the photo. I have looked in the family bible but there is no record of a fourth child. On the back of the photo is written “All our family together with our dearest friends.” Which isn’t very helpful.
Please reply soon.
|27th Dec 2012, 12:29 AM||Chapter Fourteen: Fever #33|
I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas! You may notice that my story here is running about a week behind my blog. That's because it takes a fair bit more work uploading it here than there. I know I get a lot of views on this thread but I'm not shure how many (if any!) are actually following me story here. If you are let me know and I'll work on getting everything back to sync!
Time passes fast when you’re at boarding school yet at the same time it seems an eternity. I felt as though it had been forever since I’d spoken to Papa or been held by Mother but the scant time I’d spent at school couldn’t possibly have filled that void. A letter might have helped fill it. I looked for one in every post and every time there wasn’t one I just told myself it would be even better when it did come. At any rate, it was soon the last day of term and a designated holiday. Today was also the day I would have to decide who I’d be spending the next two weeks with. There hadn’t been a letter in the first post but I told myself I had either Henri or Jo’s house to look forward to so it would be better if it arrived after the holidays so I had something to cheer me up on a boring school day.
We were just leaving breakfast when Miss Jane called out:
“Miss Cox, report to Lady D’Winter’s office immediately.
“Don’t answer back young lady.” Miss Jane’s word was final.
“Good luck.” I whispered as I squeezed her hand and Henri gave her a comforting smile. Henri and I headed upstairs slowly to wait for her.
“Do you know what she’s done?” Henri asked me.
“Not a clue.” I said. “You don’t think Mariah could have pinned anything on her, do you?”
“Oh! I do hope not!”
“I wouldn’t put it past her… Oh it’s not far! All these weeks of being model students!”
“You don’t know what’s happened yet!” Henri said. “Wait and see before you judge. Come on, lets wait in your room and if it’s bad news she can at least tell us in private.”
“All right.” Henri was right, as usual.
That’s one thing I’ve learned about Henri, she’s patient, she listens, she thinks the best of people and she almost always is right.
We didn’t have long to wait before a sombre faced Jo made her way into our room.
“What’s happened?” I asked.
“Mother wrote.” Jo said. “My little sister has the fever.”
“Oh no, will she be all right?” I asked.
“Yes, It’s not deadly but it is contagious so our house is under quarantine and I can’t go home for the holidays. I’ll have to stay at school.”
“Oh Jo, that’s too bad!” I said.
Yes, well, I guess that decides who you’ll be spending the holidays with.” She said.
“Henri.” I said. “Do you think, under the circumstances, your mother would let us both come? Jo can promise to be good and quiet—”
“Oh I will!” Jo said. “I will! I will! I know you’ve heard that before but this time I mean it and I know you’ve heard THAT before but—” but Henri was already shaking her head.
“After I found out we’d both invited Bobbie I wrote to Mother again and explained the situation. She wouldn’t budge. And even if I wrote again now I wouldn’t get an answer in time for tomorrow and it would be awfully disappointing for Jo to pack everything only to find that she couldn’t come. I’m sorry Jo.”
“Don’t, it’s not your fault. Well, I guess you better write to your mother to let her know Bobbie will be going home with you.”
“No, don’t.” I said. Both Jo and Henri looked at me. “I— I really would love to go home with you Henri, but I feel awful leaving Jo here on her own. At least you’ll have your mother at home, do you think you could spare me so I could stay here with Jo?”
“Oh Bobbie!” Jo threw her arms around me. “That’s the most selfless thing I’ve ever heard you say, but please, you deserve to enjoy the holidays too.”
“I’m not sure I can if I’m feeling sorry for you!” I said. “I know Henri will be lonely at home without me, but I think it will be worse for you here all alone. And I can’t go with you both!”
“What do you think Henri?” Jo asked.
“I think the two of you will have a right old time here together.” Henri said with a smile. “I’ll get to see Mother and the holidays will be over before we know it, they always are. I’ll tell you what Bobbie, when your parents come for you at the end of next term I’ll invite the three of you around for tea, and Jo too, Mother and Father will be abroad then so we don’t need to mind about disturbing anyone, and I can show you everything then, what do you say?”
“That’s wonderful!” I smile at them both.
“Well, I think we all need something cheerful.” Jo said. “I passed Gladys on the way up and she gave me a letter that had just arrived from my brother.”
“Which one?” Henri asked.
“Michael, his always make a good read so lets see if this one lives up to the usual standard.” Jo opened the letter and Henri and I settled down to listen. It did make a good read and Jo and Henri made sure to fill me in on the gaps in my knowledge as needed.
“And now I come to the affair of the missing crests.” Jo read. “I mentioned to you a few letters ago that our school crest had gone missing from out front gates. Like a nation’s flag, to mark the crest is to mark the school so you can imagine how every boy here was offended by the disappearance of our crest, but yet I’ve hardly wrote of it. Why is this? Well, we were all sworn to silence about the incident and soon you will see why.
We weren’t the only school whose crest was disappeared. No. Four other schools have had their very souls stolen by some low down crittans. We threw down all inter-school rivalries and formed an investigative committee to discover these villains and get them back. Naturally, Jimmy—”
“That’s one of Jo’s brothers.” Henri explained. “The next one up from Michael.”
“Jimmy and I were on the committee.” Jo continued. “The investigations didn’t last long. When you have six boys schools within walking distance of each other and five of them have crests missing… well… it’s not hard to figure out. We held a council of war. Proper council and everything. We learned that the villainous school had just had a brand new cricket pitch laid. Cost a mint. We thought it needed prettying up. Perhaps a tree planted in the middle of it?”
“Oh they didn’t!” Henri exclaimed.
“What’s a cricket pitch?” I asked.
“Bobbie!” it came from Jo and Henri in unison.
“You don’t know what cricket is?” Jo sounded astonished.
“It’s a gentleman’s game.” Henri said, “That makes some gentlemen not act like it at all, but it’s played by all the proper boy’s schools and there’s many grown men that play it too.”
“And the pitch?”
“Where they throw th ball.” Henri explains. “It’s a long stretch of straight, flat grass all level and everything. One person throws the ball and the other hits it with the bat at the other end.”
“Henri, that CAN’T be your explanation of cricket!” Jo shook her head. “It’s a very complicated game—”
“Which is why we won’t try to teach her now.” Henri hastily said. “Or you’ll never get to the end of your letter.”
“Oh, well, another time. Now where were we? Oh yes. It was decided. We’d sneak out one night and, under the cover of darkness, we’d plant a tree in the middle of their cricket pitch. We’d send boys from all the schools to keep us all honest and so no boy would squeal on a boy from another school.
A few nights later my alarm went off from under my pillow. It was the big night! Jimmy and I met with a few of the other fellows from our school and we slunk off, meeting up with boys from the other schools as we did so. The moon was big that night and a good thing too, because it kept us on our guard. If a policeman had stumbled across a group of boys with a tree and shovels slung over their shoulders, well, I don’t think even Jimmy could have talked us out of that one!
Finally we reached the school fence of the school of the crest-stealer's. We had been keeping to the shadows up to now and decided before we all jumped the fence that a few of us should go over to check the coast was clear. Jimmy and I went along with Toulin, a boy from one of the other schools. The three of us jumped over the fence and while the coast looked clear we thought we should take the opportunity to perform a quick reconnaissance before giving the other lads the whistle. It was a good thing we did, because there, infront of our very eyes as we crept towards the cricket pitch we saw movements filtering from shadow to shadow in the school grounds. Next thing you know we’ve been tackled to the ground! We were expected and the boys had been waiting for us armed with shovels, rakes and hoes pilfered from their gardener’s shed and they’d been marching and standing guard in defense of their precious cricket pitch. Fortunatly they didn’t realise we had seventeen more of us outside the fence, but even so a group of twenty good lads, however fine and brave, is no match for an entire school. Toulin gave a hoot like an owl as we were dragged off and that was the signal for our men to run and not attempt rescue. See, I told you that we’d had a proper council of war.
But where did that leave us? I’ll tell you where, locked in an attic room. We were in a fix, that’s for sure! We’d been marched up there and escape was hopeless for it would rouse the teachers and that would take us right out of the frying pan and into the fire. Now, I’m not the sort of boy to panic and neither is Jimmy, but once we were all locked in there… well, we had an uncertain future that held nothing but trouble for us. Toulin, however, reacted differently. He worked his way around the small room, tapping at the walls and pressing his ear up against the boards. Soon he found what he was looking for and pulled out his penknife. Jimmy and I soon joined him and together we pried the board loose allowing us to crawl into the ceiling space. There was a dim light and we headed towards it. We found the light source was a dormer window. Did you know many of the dormer windows in the roofs around here aren’t actually windows? They’re added on the outside so the house looks even but it doesn’t mean the entire roof space is filled with rooms. Well, it’s true. If ever you find yourself locked in an attic room just remember that. Out the window, down the most obliging drainpipe I’ve ever encountered and the three of us (or Jimmy and I, at least) were safe in our beds before the waking bell.
Jimmy and I, having obtained legendary status managed to get to the bottom of matters before our next council of war which was held on the following Saturday. One of the lads from— and it shames me to say this— our school had written to his sister about the thefts and our planned revenge. His sister was sweet on one of the boys actually involved in taking the crests and so she warned him. The rest you can guess. This put our school into shame, we were the lowest of the low, excluding the school that had stolen the crests, of course. Even Jimmy and I were tainted by the same brush. We initiated an instant ban on all communications referring to the incident which is why you’re only hearing about all this now. If you think we were looked down on, you can imagine what we thought about the boy who’d leaked the plans! It didn’t take us long to get him to write another letter to his sister, telling her we were all cowards and had given up on planing a tree. She of course reported all of this to her sweetheart who in tun told the boys we’d given up. That was the night we struck and this time our mission was accomplished”
Jo continued with the rest of the letter and just as she reached the end the door opened and Miss Jane entered.
“What are you girls doing inside on a fine day like this?” She scolded. “Outside the lot of you!”
“Yes Miss Jane!” We chanted as we leapt to our feet.
|6th Jan 2013, 1:03 PM||Chapter Fifteen: Abandoned #34|
“I’m so glad we’re allowed to wear our evening gowns!” Jo said. We were running around our room in out petticoats getting ready for the end of term dinner to which we’d been given permission to wear our newly finished gowns. No, that didn’t get anyone out of wearing it to the soiree— Mariah asked!
“No poofy white skirt!” I agreed as Jo stuck a few more pins into my hair. There was a knock on the door.
“Excuse me misses,” Dorcus poked her head in. “But there’s a letter arrived by the evening post for Miss Roberta.”
“Finally!” I squealed. While the month since I sent my letter of had sped past in some ways, it had still seemed like an age waiting for a reply to my letter. Here it was at last!
“Only—” I danced over and snatched the letter out of her hand before Dorcus could finish.
“Oh.” My face fell.
“Nothing to worry about Miss, just a mix up I’m sure. But Gladys said to bring it right up.” Dorcus said before bobbing an awkward curtsy and leaving.
“What is it?” Jo asked, coming over.
“Returned. Undeliverable.” I said.
“Well, lets have a look.” Jo took my letter to home, with my letters to Elen and Miss brown inside and looked at the front. I felt ready to cry.
“It’s addressed right!” I said. “That’s my address right there!”
“Are you sure you didn’t write it wrong?” Jo asked.
I looked at my address, as clear as day and burst into tears.
“Oh, oh!” Jo said, fussing around. “I’m sorry, don’t cry!”
“H-has everyone a-abandoned m-me.” I sobbed through my tears. I’d never felt so alone before in my life.
“I’ll, I’ll—” Jo turned and ran to our wardrobe, threw the doors open and dove in.
“Henri!” She called in a panicked. “Henri! I need your help! She’s crying and I don’t know how to fix it.”
Before I knew it Henri was beside me. Henri, during a time when we were meant to be in our rooms and if we were caught in the corridors it would mean an instant black mark.
“You s-shouldn’t have b-broken the rules just for m-me. If you’d been seen in the corridor…” But I threw my arms around her all the same.
“What’s the matter, Jo?” She asked.
I couldn’t answer so Jo answered for me.
“Oh Bobbie, don’t cry, can’t you see what happened? Look at the handwriting on this letter.”
“It’s my address.” I said
“In what was your best Fraitessian script. I’ll tell you what, I’ll bet you anything some young Highlander postman couldn’t read proper writing so sent it right back to sender rather than try figure it out.”
“Yes. Now here’s a new envelope, you write your address but write it twice, once in Fraitessian script and once in your Highlander hand. We’ll give it straight to Gladys when we go down for dinner, it won’t make the last post today but she will ensure it makes the very first one in the morning.” Henri passed me a new envelope and put a pen in my hand.
“You’ll have a reply in four weeks, I guarantee.” Jo said, appearing to feel more comfortable now I’d stopped crying. “and if you don’t then it will be because you’ve had one sooner than that asking why you haven’t written yet. Just you wait.
“Thank you both, whatever would I do without you?” I gave them each a hug then sat down to rewrite my envelope.
It was the work of minutes. Just as I was finishing off I heard Gladys’ voice.
I leapt up and took a peek out the door and saw her heading for the servant’s stairway. Miss Jane was nowhere in sight and I knew the servant’s stairways and corridors were generally safe from Miss Jane and other mistresses. “There’s Gladys now!” I said. “I won’t be a moment, the coast is clear, I’ll see if she can get it in tonight’s post after all!”
“Don’t be long!” Jo said. “We have a dinner to dress for.”
“With any luck it will be announced that the three of us will be attending the soiree together!” Henri said
“We’ve certainly deserved it!” Jo said. “And not a black mark between us. I’ve been a saint. We’ll have to have a Jolly time these holidays to make up for it.”
“We’ll have the run of the school!” I said. “I’ve plans already!” I called as I dashed out the door.
I ran on tiptoes across the landing and down the stairs. I found Gladys just before she reached the bottom.
“Ohh, what are you doing out of your room Miss?” She scolded me with a twinkle in her eye.
“I’m sorry, but is there any chance this could make the last post? It bounced back and I—” Gladys took one look at me, from the letter in my hand to my tear reddened eyes and smiled.
“Of course it can, Miss. I’ll make sure of it meself. Now you get yourself back up to that room before Miss Jane catches you or there’ll be a scoldin’ for you for sure!”
“Thank you!” I made my way back up the stairs with a light heart.
I checked the landing carefully before making my way back to my room. I opened the door softly and made sure not to bang it closed. That was when I was greeted with the figure of Jo sitting on her bed rubbing at damp eyes. Had she been crying?
“Jo! What ever is the matter?” I dashed to her side.
“Oh, I’m a horrible wicked girl Bobbie. I daren’t tell you what I’ve done, you’ll think so badly of me.”
“Come, it can’t be too bad!” I said.
“I’ve gone and gotten Henri and I black marks just hours before the end of term.”
“You what?” I was astonished. “When?”
“Just then.” She said. “Oh, but I wish you could have seen it!” She was cheering up already and a wicked grin was spreading across her face. “It was like this. Henri didn’t come through the corridor when she came over before, she slipped through the gap in our wardrobe without a thought, the little minx. I didn’t know she had it in her to think up such a thing, I’m sure I never would. But when you left she returned the same way and I realised that you didn’t know how she came. I thought you needed a bit more cheering up so I had the bright idea of slipping through myself and giving you a fright when you returned!”
“Oh Jo…” I said.
“That’s not the worst of it. Did I ever tell you I am a greedy child? Did I, dear Bobbie? Well I am. My head made it through and then my shoulders but when I came to squeezing my stomach through I stuck.
Henri tried to pull me through but to no avail! Then she tried to push me back but I was stuck fast!”
“Jo!” I was laughing now. “Did Marjorie help?”
“Alas, that was my downfall. Marjorie had been seeing Lady D’Winter and Miss Jane decided to escort her back to her room to ensure she took no detours. You know how she doesn’t trust us girls, though I can’t see why. Well, Miss Jane, as you know, has ears sharper than a bat when it comes to hearing out trouble and she must have heard Henri and I in our struggles because she came right into Henri and Marjorie’s room and saw the state I was in!”
“Oh no indeed. Miss Jane asked me to come out that instant, not realizing that I was betwixt the two rooms and not merely playing in Henri’s wardrobe so I was forced to explain to her my exact predicament.
Miss Jane tried to push me back but, alas, I had come too far. In the end it took the three of them to pull me through! I tried to argue Henri’s case but it was no good. Miss Jane had seen her attempting to come to my rescue and so both of us were cursed with the dreaded black mark.”
“And what of me?” I asked. “Did Miss Jane notice I was missing?”
“I couldn’t have all my friends earn a black mark.” Jo said. “But I was at a loss of what I could say to convince her you were an innocent party. Henri, as quick as anything said you’d disapproved with my behavior and had gone straight to report it and that she was ashamed she hadn’t done so herself.”
“Oh Jo, but I haven’t reported anything!”
“I know, I’ve thought of that. You arrived at Miss Jane’s office whilst she was up here with us and finding her not there you returned to your room by the servant’s stairs. You’re in the clear, it seems.”
“Oh but Jo, neither Henri nor you will be able to attend the soiree!”
“And don’t I know it. I tell you, I’m a wicked child. All we can do is but hope you’ve attained a first in something. We can’t have Mariah attend alone, we just can’t!”
|19th Jan 2013, 8:17 AM||#35|
I can't believe there aren't any comments on this! It is a fantastic and very well written story. I never remember to let an author know that I throughly enjoy their story, but I want to let you know that I hope you continue it. It is interesting, the writing, plot, and pictures are fantastic. I check constantly for an update, this is my new favorite story (since I just discovered it a month ago) You are great!
|21st Jan 2013, 11:28 PM||#36|
Thank you so much for your kind comments! I did have some comments here the first time I wrote it but I had to unexpectedly stop and start over again a long time later. I have a wordpress blog for my story now so I guess most people leave their comments over there. My blog is ahead of my story here as it takes longer to put a post up here, but never fear! I'll be continuing with the story!
I'm having great fun writing this, I'm glad you're enjoying reading it! I've been working really hard on my pictures and have gotten some great tips and I think they are getting better I'll be posting chapter 19 on my blog this thursday and I'll try to get my thred here a bit more up to date also.
|21st Jan 2013, 11:33 PM||Chapter Sixteen: Ribbon of Friendship #37|
“Well, I’m glad that’s over.” I said as we returned to our rooms. The last dinner of the term had meant to be something to look forward to instead…
“You mustn’t let Mariah upset you so.” Henri said.
The first thing that had happened upon entering the dining room was Mariah had asked me loudly if I’d received a letter from my mother yet. I was forced to admit I hadn’t and had to blink back tears while Mariah pretended to be sympathetic.
“Oh, you poor thing! I’m sure she’ll send something as soon as she can. After all, she’s your mother, she has to love you!”
“I wouldn’t if she didn’t.” I said to Henri
“Well, you know Mariah.” Jo said. “If she knows something she’ll use it against you!”
“Yes, and how does she know?” I shot a glance at Henri.
“Marjorie’s really sorry Bobbie, she’s told you that.”
“I know.” I sighed. Mariah had seen Marjorie and I talking the day we went on the nature walk together and had asked
Marjorie what on earth we found to talk about. Marjorie had told her it was nothing much, just about how long letters from home took as I hadn’t had one yet. Nothing had come of it until an awkward silence at the table one day that had been broken by Mariah asking if I’d had a letter from my mother yet. I’d looked down at my plate and stammered out that I hadn’t. This had not only earned me a lecture from Miss Jane about looking at people when they spoke to me and enunciating my words correctly but it clued Mariah up on the fact that I still hadn’t had a letter and it was a sore spot for me. “It was an accident, I understand that, I really do.” If Marjorie had wanted to use Mariah to hurt me, she could have divulged a lot more about our conversation. Even so, I’d had difficulty trusting Marjorie since.
To say the dinner had started out on a bad footing for me was an understatement and Mariah had followed up what she said to my by declaring Jo’s dress was “simply divine” and it even made her look “a little slimmer, wasn’t that wonderful?” She was right, Jo’s dress was by far the best. The sewing was flawless and she inserted her sleeves right the first time. And it was a flattering fit though it didn’t deserve Mariah’s backhanded compliment. Henri’s was a close second, loosing out only because of the puckering in the corners of the yoke and the botched job she’d done of the sleeves.Majorie had done a lovely job of her sewing but had chosen to replicate a traditional garment from Freedonia. We’d all been fascinated by the pantaloons that tied round the ankles “to stop snakes crawling up” she’d explained but it didn’t quite fit the brief of an evening dress suitable for the school soiree. Valerie had worked hard on her dress— too hard. She’d spend so long getting her ruffles perfect that she ran our of time to do her sleeves and had to make do with a bolero over the dress. We were all of the opinion that she an out of time on purpose to give Mariah a better chance.
Mariah. She’d chosen the most expensive fabric she could and thee was nothing too wrong with the pattern, but I could see her pucked seams and wonky sewing from across the table. No, Mariah was defiantly NOT good at plain sewing.
When the class places were announced no one was surprised when Jo came first in sewing. She also was awarded first in nature studies. Henri came first in art and just managed to snatch a first in geography from Mariah. Miss Jane said they had been almost equal but Henri’s maps were neater that Mariah’s. Thanks to all my hard work on my Fraitessian script I managed firsts in spelling, composition and comprehension. Mariah’s face went from bad to worse each time her name wasn’t called and while she came first in the remaining classes the Dux would be undecided this term .
It wasn’t quite the victory we’d hoped for as it was ruined by Miss Jane announcing that due to bad behaviour neither Henri nor Jo would be attending the soiree. Cue Mariah gloating.
“I better get back to my room before Miss Jane catches me in the hall.” Henri said.
“So should we.” Jo replied. “Especially Bobbie! I wouldn’t put it past Miss Jane to take back her permission to attend the soiree.”
“Right.” We hugged Henri then returned to our room.
I crossed our floor and sat down on the windowsill and gazed out. Somewhere out there Mother and Father were having a jolly time on Father’s ship. Did they miss me as much as I missed them?
“We’ve still got half an hour before bedtime.” Jo said. “Would you like to play a game?”
“Not really.” I said.
“Oh don’t sit and dwell.” She crossed over and put her hand on my shoulder. “That will only make you homesick which is never pleasant. Why don’t you read some of your book? What’s this one about?”
I sighed. “It’s about two girls who meet at school and become best friends and play that they are sisters. They both have lockets and they swap them. They call them friendship lockets and as long as each has the other’s it means they’re best friends.”
“Ohh, what happens then?” Jo asked..
“Well, I don’t want to spoil it…” I said
“Oh come on! You know I’ll never get around to reading it anyway!”
“Well, all right.” I told Jo the story of how the girls were separated and live their own lives. I begin to cheer up with the telling of the story. “Each gets engaged and their fiance’s turn out to be brothers but they are all grown up and don’t recognise their future sister-in-law as their childhood friend. So they have a double wedding and when they’re getting ready they see each other’s lockets for the first time because they’ve worn them under their dresses, close to their hearts all this time, and they’re re-united at last and become sisters for real.”
“Oh, that’s so romantic.” Jo said. “I’d love to have a friendship locket!”
“Why don’t we?” I ask.
“I don’t have a locket… but I know!” Jo leapt to her feet and rattled through her draw.
“Look, we can swap ribbons! Here’s one of mine. Now lets find one of yours.”
“That’s a fantastic idea.” I said to Jo, running over to my top draw. “You do think such clever things. We can keep them even after I’ve left school and gone back home and we’ll always remember each other. Here, this is mine.”
“No, don’t swap yet.” Jo said. There has to be a ceremony.”
“Yes. Something special. Here, lets hold the ends of both ribbons in our hands so we’re connected.”
“Yes. Now repeat after me. I swear to be friends to the end of time.”
“I swear to be friends to the end of time.”
“And to be united against the common foe. That’s Mariah and Miss Jane.”
“And to be united against the common foe. That’s Ma—”
“No! You don’t need to copy the last bit. I was just explaining. Um, what else? Oh, to always share sweets.”
“To always share sweets, remember you’re the only one who ever gets them!” I said.
“Well, I should share them! I’m too greedy for my own good. Can you think of anything else?”
“To always keep promises?” I suggested. Together Jo and I came up with a good list of things until finally our imaginations were exhausted.
“To this I do swear” Jo said seriously.
“To this I do swear.”
I took Jo’s ribbon and she took mine.
“Now, how should we wear them?” Jo asked.
“Well,” I glanced at the clock. “Goodness, it’s almost time for lights out! Lets get into bed and in the morning we’ll play hairdressers and come up with some new hairstyles.”
We scrambled into our nightgowns and were just tucking ourselves in when the bell for lights out sounded.
“Goodnight Bobbie.” Jo whispered
I drifted off to sleep quickly and rather than dreaming about absent letters and parents far across the see I dreamed about having a friend for the rest of time.
We awoke in the morning and the school was full of a hustle and a bustle as girls readied themselves to be picked up by their parents. With no last minute cases to pack, Jo and I spent some time to ourselves infront of the mirror.
“I’m not very good at hair.” I said, brushing Jo’s out.
“Oh mine is too short to do most things with.” She said “Mostly I just like it out of the way.”
“Well, out of the way it is.” I said, brushing her hair back and tying it there with the ribbon. But Jo loved it so much she insisted on doing mine the same way.
We dressed quickly and Jo insisted we checked our reflection in our mirror before we made our way out into the hall.
“Oh where is my other boot?” A younger girl exclaimed as she ran past.
“Try on your own floor!” Jo called after her. A door opened and Henri came out of her room.
“Hello!” She said “I was hoping you two would be up before I left. Oh! You’ve both got your hair out!”
“Hello Henri, yes we have, new style for the hols even if we won’t be leaving school for them! Of course we’d be up to say goodbye to you! Is your mother coming?”
No, just Father, but do come out and meet him after breakfast!”
“Ah, the first breakfast. Another reason I’d be up!”
“First breakfast?” I asked.
“On the last day of term we all have breakfast according to when we’re leaving.” Henri explained. “Rather than with just our class. “First breakfast is for those leaving first thing in the morning, like me—”
“And has the best food.” Jo cut in with a grin.
“And second is for those whose parents can’t get here until midmorning.”
“And is never as good as it always has the leftovers from first breakfast.”
“I see.” I said laughing. “Trust you to have worked that out, Jo!” We all went in for breakfast, which was better than usual as it was designed to build up girls for their journey home.
After breakfast we waited in the crush of the front hall amongst girls and parents and luggage.
All around us girls were hugging their mothers or telling their fathers all about their exciting adventures. Tomas was busy moving their cases into their awaiting carriages. I tried to push down the twinge of envy I felt.
It wasn’t long before Henri greeted her father and introduced me to him. He already knew Jo.
“And this is my roommate” Henri pulled Marjorie across.
“Hello Mr Joans.” She greeted him politely.
It wasn’t long before Henri and the other girls and their mothers and fathers were gone, leaving Jo and I standing alone in the hall.
“What should we do now?” Jo said.
“Well, we swore to keep promises.” I said, my mind ticking away.
“Well, I’d like to pay a visit to Frankie.”
|21st Jan 2013, 11:35 PM||--A Diary entry fom Henri #38|
Doesn’t it always feel so funny coming home after being at school? It’s very quiet. I don’t mind the quiet but I do wish I had a friend to enjoy it with. Not that I blame Bobbie for staying with Jo, it was the right thing to do as I have Mummy and Jo would have had no one. I hope Jo’s had a letter by the time I get back to school. I know she speaks so highly of her mother and father but sometimes I feel right mad with her mother for not sending her anything yet. Marjorie says if her mother knew she had to spend that long a time away from the post office then she’d pre-write letters ad arrange for them to be sent every now and then.
Talking of Marjorie, she is going to spend the day with me! She comes just after breakfast the day after tomorrow and she’ll leave after dinner. Mariah has an invitation somewhere else and Marjorie wasn’t invited, so I had mother write to Mariah’s mother asking Marjorie. Mariah’s mother decided Marjorie better go “to be polite” as seeing as she rooms with me at school so Marjorie can come without Mariah thinking she actually wants to. Aren’t we cleaver? I am looking forward to it so much. As I keep telling Jo and Bobbie, she is actually really nice. I just wish we could be better friends out of our dorm room.
Mother said I did a beautiful job of my dress. I’m sad I won’t be able to wear it at the soiree, I was looking forward to going. I know it’s not Jo’s fault, and I did break the rules earlier that night so I suppose I deserved it in a way, but I always seem to get in trouble when Jo’s involved in something. She attracts it somehow.
Now I must be off. I am to help mother and Asia to go through her wardrobe and decide what she’ll take away with her and what mending or adjustments need to be made. It sounds dull, but Mother is so busy the best way to spend some time with her right now is to help her in her preparations.
|16th Feb 2013, 3:23 AM||#39|
I'm still reading and loving your story!
|14th Jun 2015, 12:38 AM||#40|
Join Date: May 2012
A little constructive criticism maybe. I am enjoying the story, it is starting to carry me along with it. Although, I must confess that, concentrating more on the text than the pictures, I missed the 'sci-fi guy' till you pointed it out.
But the text needs a little tidying up. In one place, (chapter two I think) you've repeated a part of a passage. Also, in the chapter where the girls are planning their campaign, you forget who's narrating at one point and say 'Bobbie scolded'. Again in the excerpt from Henri's diary she says something about writing to her parents, but they are still away on a ship. I thought that was Bobbies parents, unless Henri's are too. And one or two modernisms creeping in here and there:. you are aiming for a sort of Victorian feel, and the language should match that. 'I totally could have fixed that bowl' is a little jarring.
But these are just minor quibbles and easily fixed.