A school exchange programme sees girls from Malory Towers paying a visit to the Chalet School.
Name confusions, personality clashes and the usual hair-raising adventures ensue.
St Scholastika's House Characters:
Hilda Annersley, Mary-Lou Trelawney, Verity-Ann Carey, Vi Lucy
09 Feb 2018 Updated:
16 Mar 2018
1. Chapter 1 - The Letter by AilidhNoor
2. Chapter 2 - Va hear the news by AilidhNoor
3. Chapter 3 - Darrell Arrives by AilidhNoor
4. Chapter 4 - First Morning by AilidhNoor
5. Chapter 5 - A Series of Letters by AilidhNoor
Chapter 1 - The Letter by AilidhNoor
Errors in ages, names, and violent disruptions of personality are entirely my own fault.
Anyone who can supply a surname for Malory Towers Mary-Lou, do let me know, I don't have all the books to hand to check.
‘A school exchange? In Switzerland?’ Felicity Rivers stared at her older sister over her tea cup, eyes wide with surprise. ‘And they want you?’
‘Less of your cheek!’ Darrell retorted automatically, but secretly she shared her sister’s astonishment. She looked again at the letter her mother had handed her. Yes, there it was in black and white; ‘Specially selected…. small party of girls… a month with a school in the Swiss Alps… opportunity to develop language skills…a new way of life…’ And at the end, the firm, swooping signature of her headmistress, Miss Grayling. There was definitely no mistake. They really did want her!
‘Miss Grayling discussed it with us at the end of last term,’ Mrs Rivers explained, seeing her daughter’s bewilderment. ‘She had been in touch with the Chalet School to begin planning the trip, and she had a shortlist of girls she thought might be suitable. I was very proud to hear that your name was right at the top.’
‘But what about my exams?’ Darrell asked, still rather bewildered. ‘And who will cover Games while I’m away? And I’d need new clothes – isn’t it really cold and snowy in Switzerland. And…’
‘All taken care of,’ Mrs Rivers told her, laughing. ‘Your work won’t suffer, and in any case, you should be well prepared by now. I’m sure your deputy is more than capable of managing hockey until you return, and I’ve already bought your winter clothes.
‘It’s a wonderful opportunity,’ Mr Rivers added, folding his paper and setting it next to his plate. ‘I should have liked to take you all to the Alps one day, but the hospital keep me so busy that it’s as much as I can do to snatch an odd weekend away with you all. I’m glad you’ll be going, Darrell, and I am sure you’ll make us and Malory Towers very proud.’
They had four weeks at school before travelling to Switzerland, and Darrell was eager to know who else was coming on the trip. She had already heard from Sally, and knew that her best friend would not be accompanying her. Sally’s little sister Daphne had been very unwell over Christmas, and the family were planning a three month trip to the south of France where they hoped the warmer climate would help Daphne’s recovery.
Darrell was not the only one wondering. On arrival at school it seemed to be the main topic of conversation for the entire Fifth year.
‘Oh, I was never in the running,’ Irene declared, dumping the contents of her night-case onto her bed in preparation for her usual hunt for her health certificate. ‘Can you imagine anyone letting me loose in Europe? I’d get on the wrong train and like as not end up in Vienna. Blow, where is that wretched cert?’
‘Pinned to the inside of your coat, you donkey,’ Belinda intervened as Irene swung round. She unpinned the paper from the lining of Irene’s mackintosh and handed it to her friend. ‘Go on, take it to Matron before you put it down somewhere daft.’
She gave Irene a little push towards the door, and turned back to her own case. ‘I’m going,’ she announced, apparently as an afterthought. ‘Miss Linnie thought it would do my sketching a world of good, and said that they have an amazing art teacher at the Chalet School.’
Alicia Johns, quick as ever, had already unpacked and was stretched comfortably on her bed watching her classmates arrive. ‘Oh, I’m in as well,’ she said. ‘You don’t see me missing out on the fun, and we’re bound to have some larks while we’re there.’
‘What about Betty?’ Darrell asked. Alicia and her best friend were almost inseparable, but Darrell could not imagine any teacher agreeing to them both going. In their early years they had been two of the naughtiest girls in the school, and even now neither girl was adverse to playing tricks.
Alicia looked mournful. ‘No, apparently it’s just girls from North and South Towers on this visit. East and West are visiting a school up in Scotland in the Summer Term. Rotten for them, but apparently it’s quite a good place in its way. Co-ed, and the scenery is just magical.’
More girls came in; pretty Daphne, shy Mary-Lou, Bill and Clarissa with straw from the stables still clinging to their breeches, stern Moira, a slightly chastened looking Catherine, and finally Gwendolyn Lacey.
Darrell noted with some disgust that Gwen appeared even more disagreeable than she had last term. Her long gold hair was tossing wildly – always a danger sign – and she was scowling so fiercely that Belinda was already groping for a pencil. Gwen brushed past them all, dropped her bags on the floor and swung round to glare at them.
‘Have you heard about this trip?’ she demanded, as usual getting straight to the point about what was currently annoying her. ‘A whole month in Switzerland, and apparently I wasn’t even considered for it, even though I always wanted to go there. And I’ve passed my School Cert at last. I had a rotten tutor all holidays and had no fun until it was done, and all for nothing, because Daddy and Miss James said it would be bad for me to miss too much school work.’
‘Dear me, I can’t imagine what gave them that impression,’ Alicia drawled. ‘What a shame for us, a month without your company. How will we manage?’
‘Alicia,’ Darrell said warningly. Gwen’s cheeks were beginning to flush pink, a sure sign she was about to turn on the waterworks, and Darrell felt that she could really not endure a full blown row on the first day of term. ‘What about the rest of you?’ she asked, hoping to change the subject. ‘Alicia, Belinda and I will be going, who else?’
‘I am,’ said Mary-Lou rather timidly. 5 years at the school had done a lot to improve her shyness, but she still tended to be nervous about speaking up in a large group.
Darrell smiled. That was one person she could be jolly glad about. She slipped an arm around the smaller girl and squeezed her waist. ‘Sally isn’t coming on this trip, so I shall rely on you to keep me straight,’ she said kindly, and was rewarded by a broad beam from Mary-Lou
‘Rachel Farley, Lorna Pentravers and Fiona McPhee are going from South Tower,’ Moira said. ‘I asked Jimmy who was going directly I heard. Of course, I wasn’t eligible as I still had work to make up from last year, but that’s not so bad. I shall like having a free hand here.’
Darrell could well believe this. Moira had made herself thoroughly disagreeable the previous term, her domineering attitude almost ruining the school play. She had learnt her lesson, but Darrell guessed she was still pleased at the idea of running the class with some of the more strong-minded members missing.
‘Louella is the other girl from South,’ Daphne said. ‘She lives near me and I met her in the holidays and she told me.’
‘I’m surprised you aren’t going yourself,’ Gwen groused sourly. ‘A chance to hobnob with high society seems right up your street.’
Daphne flushed at this reference to previous sins, but put her chin up. ‘Mother and Father couldn’t afford it, and I hope I’m decent enough not to pester them about it when they’ve said no.’
‘An attitude you would do well to adopt yourself, Gwen,’ Moira said sharply.
Alicia swung herself off her bed and stood up, brushing down her tunic. ‘Well, I’m off to hunt up the South Tower girls and see what they know. Darrell, Belinda, Mary-Lou, coming?’
Chapter 2 - Va hear the news by AilidhNoor
Having a nightmare with formatting, so please excuse any egregious spacing errors until I can fix them at leisure!
Va were spending the afternoon in their common room, whiling the time away with books, magazines and puzzles, and trying their best not to repine on the fact that heavy snow had spoiled their chances of a walk. As befitted members of a senior form of the Chalet School, they were not making an undue amount of noise, but this did not stop them looking up guiltily when their common room door opened to reveal Miss Annersley.
‘Well, don’t you look like you’ve been caught in the act?’ she teased, her grey eyes twinkling with good humour. ‘Don’t worry girls, I’m not here to scold you. I’ve come to bring you some news.’
Characteristically, Mary-Lou Trelawney was the first to recover.
‘Have a seat, Miss Annersley,’ she urged, unceremoniously turfing Vi Lucy off the wicker chair they had been sharing. ‘There’s a box of humbugs going round too, if this greedy bunch haven’t eaten the lot.'
‘Thank you my dear, but I fear my digestion is not up to sweets at this time of day,’ Miss Annersley responded with a chuckle. She sat down in the indicated chair and smiled round at the eager faces.
‘Girls, I have some news for you, which I hope you will find exciting. The Chalet School has been chosen to be part of a new exchange scheme, where pupils from different boarding schools spend a month studying at another school. They learn about the differences between teaching styles and individual school ethea, and it is hoped they bring back some new ideas for their own school. Next month, a group of students from Malory Towers on the south coast of England will be joining us. They are of a similar age to yourselves, and will be learning and studying beside you. I hope you will make them feel welcome and included as part of the school during their visit, and that through you they will learn a great deal about what it means to be a Chalet School girl.’ She paused for breath, and then threw up her hands in horror as a babel of questions immediately broke out.
‘Girls, girls, have mercy on my poor ears! I haven’t much time, but I’ll try and answer some of your questions. One at a time, please. Hilda, you begin.’
Hilda Jukes blushed red at being thus singled out. ‘Please Miss Annersley, I just wanted to know how many were coming.’
‘There will be eight in total, and next year we will be choosing eight girls for a return trip. Yes, Lesley?’
‘Where will they be sleeping?’ Lesley asked.
‘We will be opening the additional dormitory above Cornflower, and four girls from Cornflower and four from Carnation will be sleeping in there, so that our visitors are sharing with our own girls.’
Cue looks of horror from various members of the two dormitories, which Miss Annersley wisely ignored. ‘Mary-Lou, you had a question?’
‘Yes, what’s an ethea?’ Mary-Lou asked, while her friends shot her withering looks. Fancy wasting a question on a point of vocabulary!
‘Ethea is from the Greek, and is the plural of ethos,’ Miss Annersley told her. ‘If you intend to continue with Classics, I expect you will encounter the phrase in your university studies.’
‘Thank you,’ Mary-Lou said demurely, clearly making a mental note of the word for future use.
‘Rosemary, you wished to ask something?’
‘Yes Miss Annersley,’ stammered Rosemary Lamb, one of the more feather-headed members of the class. ‘Is it boys and girls, or both?’
A close observer would have seen Miss Annersley’s lips twitch, but years of practice allowed her to swallow her laughter, and answer this question with her usual sedateness. ‘All our visitors will be girls, dear. Well, I must run, since I think Matron is waiting for me.’
She left the room with rather more haste than usual, and had any of the girls though to follow her, they would have been treated to the sight of their dignified headmistress half collapsed against the opposite wall, helpless with giggles.
Fortunately for Miss Annersley’s reputation Va were too busy howling down their unfortunate class mate.
‘Oh Rosemary, how could you? You nit wit!’
‘As if we’d be sharing dormitories with boys!’
‘Honestly Baa Lamb, do use your loaf!’
Rosemary subsided under this onslaught with scarlet cheeks. ‘I was just wondering!’ she protested feebly.
‘Well, next time wonder in silence,’ Mary-Lou told her trenchantly. ‘A nice view Miss Annersley will have of us all, thinking we have boys on the brain!’
‘I really didn’t mean it like that!’ poor Rosemary said, going even redder at this.
‘I don’t think Miss Annersley took it that way,’ Lesley interjected peaceably. ‘You leave her alone Mary-Lou, and focus on the important bit. Eight new girls! I wonder what they’ll be like?’
Chapter 3 - Darrell Arrives by AilidhNoor
Darrell stepped off the train onto the platform and stared around her in admiration. The whole journey had been a joy to her, from her first taste of sea travel on the ferry to a night on the train as it passed through France. She had woken at dawn to find herself in Switzerland, where they had changed to the Interlaken train. Then had come the pretty run across country and up the side of the Thunersee, before finally arriving at Interlaken.
For her first taste of the alps, this was going to take some beating, Darrell decided. Everything was covered in crisp white snow, with only black ribbons of road showing here and there as cars went past. Each low-roofed house wore a cap of snow, and the air was cold and fresh to breathe.
Alicia and Mary-Lou dropped down beside Darrell, shaking out their legs and looking around.
‘Just look at those chalets!’ Mary-Lou exclaimed. ‘they look like something out of a fairytale!’
‘I’d say we’ve landed on our feet here,’ Alicia agreed. ‘And gosh, am I glad I packed those extra jumpers! Sam did say I’d need them, but I never know how much to trust my brothers. He also said we’d be walking to school on skis.’
‘Skis? Mais non, Alicia, how could one do such a thing? Regard those so tall mountains!’
The girls turned in time to help the speaker down. Mamzelle Dupont was a short, plump French woman, whose amiable face was only slightly creased with the worry of escorting eight girls across the continent. She jumped nimbly enough down to the platform with Darrell’s assistance, and gave an exaggerated shiver. ‘Tiens, il fait froid!’
Louella, Rachel and Fiona followed Mamzelle out, pulling their berets lower over their ears and exclaiming at the cold. Mamzelle nodded approvingly at them. ‘…quatre, cinq, six. Ah non, where is that so bad Belinda? Always I must find her!’
‘Gwendolyn is with her as well,’ Rachel said. ‘I think Belinda bumped into her and knocked her bag over, and Gwen’s book got stuck behind her seat.’
‘They’ll be going back to Basle at this rate,’ Alicia said cheerfully. ‘No loss!’
Darrell elbowed Alicia sharply, and she subsided. For once, Gwen had been on her absolute best behaviour during the journey. How she had managed to convince Miss Grayling to let her go, the others did not know, only that two days before they were due to leave Lorna Pentravers had slipped on the steps of the quad and broken her ankle, and on the morning of departure, a glowing Gwendolyn had joined them on the steps to await their taxi.
Huffing irritably, Mamzelle Dupont clambered back into the carriage in search of her missing pupils, and Darrell hastily flagged down a guard. ‘Entschuldigung, um, our teacher…’ she trailed off, her rudimentary German deserting her.
‘Yes, I observed,’ the guard replied in impeccable English. ‘Do not worry, I shall go to assist her. The train will not yet depart.’
‘Hello there! Are you our new pupils?’ A voice hailed them, and they turned to see two women coming towards them.
‘Yes, you must be the girls from Malory Towers,’ one of them said, smiling. ‘I’m Miss Ferrars, and this is Mdlle de Lachennais. I understand Mdlle Dupont is accompanying you?’
‘Yes, Mamzelle has just gone to help two of the girls,’ Alicia said. Her quick eyes were sizing the two mistresses up already. Miss Ferrars barely looked older than they were, and would be a pushover, she decided. Mdlle de Lachennais was more difficult to judge. Alicia’s experience of French teachers was limited to plump and ineffectual Mamzelle Dupont or sour Mamzelle Rougier. This mistress was not much taller than Mary-Lou, but her tanned face and sharp brown eyes suggested that she would be no easy target.
Mamzelle Dupont reappeared with a chastened looking Belinda and Gwendolyn and practically fell on her countrywoman, letting loose a flood of French that was incomprehensible to Darrell and her classmates. Miss Ferrars appeared to follow it perfectly however, nodding and interjecting comments in the same language whenever the two Frenchwomen paused for breath.
‘My, if all the mistresses speak French like that we’re in a muck of bother,’ Fiona said glumly. ‘Having Mamzelle nag me about my accent is one thing. But if there’s a whole school of them I might chust as well gae hame!’
Darrell laughed. She had developed an appreciation for the blunt Scottish girl’s humour during the journey over. ‘I’m sure you won’t be the only Scot in the school, Fiona. And at least you can roll your ‘r’s!’
‘Rrrrrr,’ Alicia added obligingly. Miss Ferrars, who was walking just ahead, looked back at them.
‘if you have breath to talk, you have breath to walk faster,’ she advised sweetly. ‘If you miss this train you have an hour’s wait, so do buck up!’
The train up to the Platz was a tiny affair of two carriages, and there were a number of tourists waiting to board as well, so the girls ended up split up.
Rather to her disappointment, Darrell found herself sat with Gwen on the last two seats, while Miss Ferrars stood opposite them and gripped firmly to the handrail.
‘I expect you’ll be pleased to arrive, after two days of travelling,’ she said cheerfully. ‘How was your journey?’
‘I didn’t sleep a wink on the sleeper train,’ Gwendolyn said plaintively, leaning her head back against the seat and half-closing her eyes. ‘I’ve never felt so tired. I’m sure it can’t be good for me.’
Darrell repressed a snort. She had woken several times in the night, and on each occasion Gwen had been snoring blissfully. What a little humbug she was!
‘That does sound bad,’ Miss Ferrars agreed. ‘Shall I ask Matron to send you to bed as soon as we arrive?’
Gwen sat up straight at that, all pretence of tiredness gone. ‘Oh no Miss Ferrars, I’m sure I will manage, thank you!’
‘Very well, but I shall keep an eye on you, and if you do appear too tired, it will be early bed for you.’ Miss Ferrars voice was sincere, but her eyes twinkled in a way that reminded Darrell of their first teacher Miss Potts, who could sniff out a malingerer a mile off. ‘The mountain air can tire people out,’ Miss Ferrars added.
Darrell thought she had never felt less tired. The air was like a plunge of cold water, and it made her feel as if she could jump and shout, and run for miles. As the train climbed up the slope she could see great snow crowned mountains, and felt the urge to be out exploring this new world. ‘Will we get to climb any of them?’ she asked.
Miss Ferrars laughed. ‘I’m afraid not. Winter climbing is very technical work, and we don’t want to send you back home with broken limbs! But you’ll have plenty of skiing and tobogganing, and just walking in the Alps is an adventure in itself.’
The train pulled into the tiny station that served the Gornetz Platz, and they piled out and into the two cars that the mistresses had left there. Within a few minutes they were pulling up outside a tall building, with rows of windows looking out over the valley. Darrell felt a little shiver of anticipation as she looked at it. This was where the real adventure began!
Chapter 4 - First Morning by AilidhNoor
Mary-Lou Trelawney checked her watch in the grey light from the window. 15 minutes yet before the rising bell, so no point in putting the light on to read. She settled back on her pillow, resting her head on her crossed arms, and contemplated the day ahead.
The Malory Towers girls had arrived just before Abendessen, so there had been no time for introductions. Mary-Lou had made a point of trying to talk to Gwendolyn, who had been seated next to her during the meal, but the other girl had been quite subdued, and seemed more inclined to watch the dark haired girl Alicia, who had sat opposite.
Shy, Mary-Lou reflected now, and possibly with some home problems. A dose of Chalet School sympathy and bucking up would do her no end of good. Alicia now, she needed no such treatment. She had chatted happily with everyone on the table, and had them all in fits of laughter describing their journey on the ferry and how poor Gwen had spent the entire voyage with her face buried in a handkerchief, begging anyone to turn the boat round and take her home.
Alicia had been allocated to Leafy, so after dinner Barbara Chester had taken her and three of the other girls up to their new home, while Mary-Lou had been left in charge of Gwendolyn, Darrell, Belinda and, amazingly enough, another Mary-Lou! The surnames were different, of course, there being no connection between Trelawny and Graves but the coincidence still made Mary-Lou chuckle.
‘How rummy,’ she said to herself now. ‘Mary Louise isn’t a common set of names at the best of times, and I’ve never heard of anyone else having a short like mine. I wonder how we’ll tell the difference!’ She chuckled again, mentally comparing her own tall frame with the tiny figure of the Malory Towers. No, there was no risk of a mix-up with that little mouse. Mary-Lou Graves appeared to be another very shy girl. Mary-Lou would enjoy coaxing her out of her shell, much as she had done with her sister by marriage, Verity.
Just then the rising bell shrilled out, and Mary-Lou leapt out of bed. ‘Good morning folks!’ she called, to a chorus of groans. ‘Show a leg there, show a leg!’
She poked her head through her cubicle curtain. Four pyjamaed legs greeted her, and after a couple of seconds, the tousled heads of Darrell and Belinda also appeared.
‘Golly, I couldn’t think what you meant then!’ Belinda exclaimed, staring at the row of legs.
‘Shows you’re out of bed,’ Mary-Lou explained succinctly. ‘You’re first on the bath list this morning Belinda. Vi, can you run Belinda down and show her the right bather to use? Meanwhile, who am I missing?’
‘Gwendolyn,’ Darrell said, pushing her curls out of her face. ‘She’s a heavy sleeper. We usually go and get a wet sponge if she hasn’t shifted after five minutes.’
‘Don’t you try that here,’ Mary-Lou advised her. ‘Matey will eat you without salt if you get someone wet and give them a chill! You get on with your dressing and go to the bathers with Lesley when she calls you. I’ll see to Gwen.’
So saying, she strode into the neighbouring cubicle where Gwen was still lying with eyes resolutely closed, although they had opened earlier in horror at the suggestion of a wet sponge.
Mary-Lou perched on the edge of the bed, in defiance of rules, and pulled back a corner of the sheet. ‘Come on Gwen, I know you’re tired but you need to get up.’
‘I’m so sleepy…’ Gwen said, reluctantly opening her eyes.
‘I know, but we all get an order mark if we’re late down to breakfast,’ Mary-Lou explained patiently. ‘A cold bath will wake you up nicely, and you’re next on the list when Vi comes back, so do get up, please?’
Gwen was wise enough not to push her luck, so she struggled out of bed with bad grace, and began rather blearily to turn the covers back over the foot of the bed to air.
‘No, no, no, not like that!’ Mary-Lou intervened. She whipped the sheets and blankets off and dumped them over the chair, then humped the mattress up in the middle to let the air pass under it. She beamed on the bewildered Gwen. ‘There we are! Hop along now, and I’ll see to Darrell.’
Mary-Lou found Darrell in a similar state, and briskly stripped her bed as well, before hurrying off to her bath. Little Mary-Lou Graves was just coming back, and gave her a shy smile, but did not stop to speak. At least one Malory Towers girl understood the need for urgency!
Her bather was still occupied when she got there, and she jiggled from foot to foot for a moment before finally banging on the door. ‘I say, Belinda, do buck up. There’s Darrell to go after me!’
There was an exclamation and a thud from within, and then the door opened.
‘I’m dreadfully sorry,’ Belinda said. ‘I’m afraid I was daydreaming rather. I was just cleaning my teeth when I saw that view out of the window and my fingers just itched to draw it.’
‘Well, never mind that now, you’d better scoot off and get dressed,’ Mary-Lou said firmly, sensing another mooner. Really, Verity was bad enough. She didn’t need another dreamer in her form!
Belinda duly scooted and Mary-Lou went into the bathroom and then stopped in amazement. Belinda had clearly given into the itch, and a perfect sketch of the Schilthorn adorned the window, drawn in the steam from what was clearly not a chill-off bath.
In the cubicle next door, Gwen contemplated the cold tap, which Vi had left running for her, and turned it off. Cold baths might be the norm for Chalet girls, but not for her. She could just imagine what her mother would say if she knew! Gwen ran a couple of inches of tepid water instead – all that the hot tap was able to produce after Belinda’s efforts, and comforted herself that it was still better than a cold sponge.
Later that week, writing to her mother, Gwen would reflect on the horrid rush every morning. Malory Towers had always indulged a certain degree of leniency at breakfast time, and girls with unfastened collars and unbrushed hair would suffer nothing more than one of Miss Pott’s patented looks, provided that they were presentable by the time they went to their form room. Even the saintly Sally had once come down to breakfast with her jumper on back to front!
There was no such leeway here. Mary-Lou Trelawney, whom Gwen had privately dubbed Bossy Mary-Lou, inspected every one of them before they left the dormitory. Little Mary-Lou was sent back to hang up her dressing gown, Belinda to find an uncreased collar, and Darrell, much to her obvious annoyance, to rebrush her hair.
‘Your curls will tangle dreadfully if you don’t give them a thorough going over,’ Mary-Lou Trelawney said. She patted her own short curly hair complacently. ‘I found that out myself when this started growing back. As it was straight as a die and kenwigses before, you could have knocked me down with a feather!’
‘What’s a kenwigses?’ Gwen asked of their own Mary-Lou as they finally went down to breakfast.
‘No idea,’ she whispered back.
‘No talking in the corridors please girls!’ Mary-Lou Trelawney sang out from ahead.
Chapter 5 - A Series of Letters by AilidhNoor
I haven't forgotten about this! Thank you all for the feedback and encouragement.
We've been snowed in recently, and so have the MT girls...
I thought I’d send you your own letter from Switzerland, as Alicia says there’s a craze for foreign postmarks in the First Form. You tinies think of the oddest things to collect! Still, in my day it was famous autographs. Not many of those around Malory Towers!
Of course, June is likely to get a Swiss postmark too, but I’m including something she won’t have! Remember that author you liked, JM Bettany? Well, her daughters go here and she lives next door to the school. We went to visit her for tea one afternoon, and I asked her for an autograph for you. Maybe you can start a craze for autographs now as well. (Promise me you won’t swank about it too much though).
Of course you’re dying to know what she was like. Well, to be honest, she was a bit odd, Fliss. She’s nearly as old as Mother but she acts like a school girl and wants to play all sorts of games. She’s got loads of children too- I suppose that spending all day in the house with a lot of babies will make you a bit like a child yourself. It’s put me off nursery nurse as a career, that’s for sure! But she was very kind to us, and we were very grateful to finally get a cup of tea after all that milky coffee.
We haven’t had much in the way of outings because the weather has been stormy, and besides, apparently it’s not the done thing for girls to go out unaccompanied here. It is a shame as I’m dying to explore those beautiful mountains, but I suppose they have to think about our safety first. No one would want girls having an accident or getting injured!
We should get some skiing this week, which will be great fun and I will be very glad of the exercise.. Almost makes up for the lack of lacrosse! I hope you’re practising hard for games, and don’t forget to do the exercises Daddy gave you for your ankle. I’d like to see you in the team for keeps when I come back and Moira is very fair, so if you play up you should get in.
Give my love to Potty and the rest of the class
I’m finally getting a chance to sit and write to you. Every minute seems to be filled here, and I feel a bit like the White Rabbit, always late for something! Odd really, when you think we’ve barely even left the school since we arrived. It’s been snowing heavily, and we can barely poke our noses out before they shepherd us back in again. What I’d give for a decent game of lacrosse!
Talking of shepherds, did you know I have my very own sheepdog now? That’s the local phrase for girls who get allocated a new girl when she starts and show her the ropes. Mine is called Vi Lucy. She’s quite nice, but a bit… well, pi. The whole form is a bit like that, to be honest, and the girls who aren’t are utterly pi are complete feather heads. There’s a whole group of them in our form – Pi, that is, not featherheads – they call themselves the Gang and they’re led around by one Mary-Lou!
No, not our dear little mouse. She’s settled in well, not least because it’s too cold for beetles, spiders, and all the other things she hates. No, the Chalet School version is at least twice her height, and I don’t think she’s frightened of anything. What she says goes, so perhaps it’s for the best that she is the perfect pupil and wouldn’t dream of even bending the rules, let alone outright breaking them! Not that you and I ever did that… much. You must tell me if you pull off anything spectacular in the way of tricks this term, Betty. I’m not likely to get the chance to do anything here as we are of course on our best behaviour and representing the honour of Malory Towers (to quote Miss Grayling). Even groaning Gwendolyn is behaving herself.
Gosh I’m itching to shake things up a bit. It’s so regimented here! Even our language is subject to strict review, and the prefects will pull you up over the least bit of slang, and fine you into the bargain (a phrase which is also slang! I shall sound like an Austen heroine by the time I come back!)
Some good news now though. It stopped snowing overnight, and the ground is glittering with frost, so we can finally go out! Time to tackle skiing and see if it’s really as nightmarishly difficult as my brother Sam made out.
Love to you and the rest of the form
PS. I left a box of itching powder in my desk – didn’t fancy my chances of getting it through customs. Feel free to make good use of it.
Thanks for your last letter. I’m not surprised your form master was vexed after a stunt like that! Mary Lou said it was below your dignity, but it did sound rather funny. Of course, as a Senior I should back her up, but I do get the giggles every time I think of your little team of mice hitched to a matchbox and parading down the aisle!
I haven’t seen Clem recently; the weather has been dreadful and we’ve been cooped up all week so I haven’t seen any of the Millies. Did she tell you they’ve asked me to be the Fairy Queen in the Panto? That’s not bragging, honestly. I think they only want me because I’m small enough to be carried around. Clem is going to be the Wicked Fairy, and I think she will be the star of the show- she’s very funny. Anyway, we have masses of lines to learn, so don’t expect too many more letters this term. Of course, if this weather keeps up, I won’t have any news to write anyway.
Actually, there is one bit of news. We have another Mary-Lou! She’s from a boarding school in England and there are eight of them here on an exchange trip. She’s nothing like our Mary-Lou; she’s very shy and quiet, and wouldn’t say boo to your white mice. I rather like her.
Ferry has just come in to say that the weather has improved and we are skiing this afternoon, so I must wind this up. I hope your rugger is going well and that you get the place you wanted in the second team.
PS. I appear to have been rechristened just Verity this year. I’m not sure I like losing the –Ann, but it’s a bit late to complain now, since ML has adopted it.
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