A Threat to the Chalet School by Zazz
Summary:

Thekla von Stift, expelled from the School, takes matters into her own hands. But it is not her who is a threat to the Chalet School.


Categories: St Agnes' House Characters: None
School Period: Tyrol
School Name: Chalet School
Genre: School Story
Challenges:
Series: None
Chapters: 11 Completed: No Word count: 11755 Read: 27026 Published: 01 Jan 2012 Updated: 16 Apr 2012

1. Chapter 1 - The Result of a Letter by Zazz

2. Chapter 2 - The Inspector meets the Girls by Zazz

3. Chapter 3 - School begins - with another Grand Entrance by Zazz

4. Chapter 4 - Unease for All by Zazz

5. Chapter 5 - Picnic... by Zazz

6. Chapter 6 - The Bellow of a Bull by Zazz

7. Chapter 7 - Malice and More by Zazz

8. Chapter 8 - Letters and Confessions by Zazz

9. Chapter 9 - A Story by Zazz

10. Chapter 10 - Joey's Plan by Zazz

11. Chapter 11 - A PAIR OF STAR-CROSS'D LOVERS TAKE...a walk... by Zazz

Chapter 1 - The Result of a Letter by Zazz

A Threat to the Chalet School

 

Thekla stood staring gloomily over the grey streets of London, her pen in her hand, but her hand refusing to write. Every time she would write that letter, somehow it would never sound right. She glared at all the crumpled sheets of paper in the cold grate, and then glanced over what was written so far, finally signing it with a flourish. The letter was to one Mr. Kensington, of Crane Street, London.

 

My dear Sir,

            Knowing that you, Sir, are head of the English Schools in Europe establishment, I write to inform you of the certain lack of rules and propriety in the Chalet School, based on the shores of the lake Tiernsee, near enough to the village of Buchau.

 

            For a start, the language that the teachers of the said school encourage to use is quite appalling, for they use slang of all kinds and quite vulgar words at that. You know as well as I do, dear Sir, how this language will be transferred to the foreigners, who do not deserve to be inflicted so. The dress code is quite ungainly, for there are shawls in winter that they are obliged to cross over themselves that I imagine brings quite a disgrace to the English Schools Board.

 

            Another of the many flaws at the Chalet School is the general mixture of classes. I, myself, know for a fact that the Princess (now Crown Princess) of Belsornia used to go for two terms to that school, until she left after being hassled by the mere daughters of shopkeepers for financing help for their families.

 

            I hope, Sir, that you will find it necessary to investigate duly to find exactly how much this school could affect your company’s name and disgrace you alongside that.

 

            My great thanks,

                        Thekla von Stift.

 

Although more than half of this was barely based on the truth, at least one of the facts was quite true, where Thekla had stated that the crown Princess Elisaveta of Belsornia had spent two terms at the Chalet School.

She had indeed, and two very happy terms they had been, until she had been called home to the duties of the realm.

 

Thekla had not even met this Princess, but was certain that her feelings would have been exactly the same as Thekla’s own. Totally against he school herself, she had no doubt that no one else would like it either. In this thought she was far from the truth, had she but known it.

---

In the stunning mountains and scenery of the North Tyrol, a growing girl stood gazing out of her dark eyes at the Tiernsee, a magnificent lake of Austria. She was whistling cheerfully, not an unknown feat for Joey Bettany, with one leg entwined around the fence-post that remained her usual seat.

 

“Joey, do stop that awful racket and come help me with this letter from Juliet. She seems so confused I can barely make head or tail of this – or her scrawl!”

 

Grizel Cochrane, a close family friend of the Bettanys (and Russells, now that Madge Bettany had married Dr. Jem Russell of the Sanatorium) rolled her eyes for the fifteenth time at Joey’s never-ending screech of a whistle.

 

“What does Juliet say?” queried Jo. Juliet Carrick was a ward of the Russells, currently in Oxford University with very little time to write.

“I wish I knew! Here, you have a go. After all, you’re the one with her heart set on being a writer and all that nonsense.” She shoved the sheaf of papers into Joey’s hand and continued, “this is the first time she has the decency to write more than a paragraph, but it is quite incomprehensible…” she ran down, seeing that Jo had finished listening hours ago and was contentedly reading the familiar cursive writing.

 

Finally, Joey looked up.

 

“I say,” she began indignantly, “it seems that someone has written to the head of the NESB,” then, at Grizel’s blank face, “the National English Schools Board, to say that our school was being run along the wrong rules or whatever unbearable nonsense this must who was the person who wrote that how dare they!” she stamped her foot on the ground.

 

“Joey!” Madge Russell, née Bettany, stood behind her, a quizzical expression on her face. “My dear girl, you are positively frothing at the mouth! Whatever has Juliet to say that makes you so angry! And I never heard such a collection of unfinished and incomprehensible language – who would have thought that Hilda Annersley ever taught you English. And you’re Head Girl!”

 

Jo looked at her, appalled. “But Madge! Look at what she says!” she handed over the letter and sat back, waiting for Madge’s reaction. It didn’t come.

 

“Well?” Joey demanded, half-shouting in her impatience.

 

“Calm, my dear, keep calm.” Madge said it calmly enough herself.

 

“Oh, Madge! Stop being a bully and get on with it!”

 

“Very well. Now, what Juliet says here does not come as a surprise to me because I have already had a letter from the NESB to say that before the start of next term there will be an inspector coming to survey the school. It seems that someone has written to them, complaining about our…what was it…lack of standards and serious neglecting of the use of proper language.”

 

“But – who could have done that?” Joey wondered aloud. “It could not have been any of the Old Girls, for we know they love the school dearly!”

 

Grizel added, “What about Elaine Gilling? She was nasty enough about us – remember that letter she planned to write to the King of Belsornia!”

 

“Grizel,” Madge chided gently, “I suggest you should consider the result of that. We all now know that Elaine has become more reasonable since then.”

 

“Yes, Madame.” Grizel looked at her feet, lowering her curly dark head.

 

Joey rushed to the rescue, “What about Vera Smithers?”

 

“Yes, I believe she would be quite capable of that, but surely she has learnt her lesson…after the last incident. However, discovering who wrote that letter will not solve anything, and I believe our inspector is coming within two days, so we are quite safe.” Madge looked slightly worried still.

Grizel nodded. “Besides, what is there to worry about?  Our school is the best in the world – and the world should know it!”

---

Carl Goodwin sat in the jolting train carriage, his hat jumping in his hand and his unseeing eyes glaring out of the window. What school would chose to be out here in the middle of nowhere that is impossible to get to? Mr. Goodwin was determined not to like the Chalet School. After all, the only thing he hated more than his job was children. Annoying brats. But in his case, he had never really been a child himself. He had been forced to leave school at the age of fourteen to help in his father’s not-so-flourishing firm. That was all forgotten now, though.

 

His face was blackened by the soot of the train, his previously clean white shirt was streaked with grey, and the back of his jacket was rumpled from sitting. He would not make a good impression to the Madame Russell, the owner of the school. But then again, what did he care? It was her who was making the deciding impression.

 

He clicked his tongue impatiently; checking his watch to find it was exactly the same as when he last looked. Was it broken? No. He had looked only thirty seconds earlier, he realised, as the long hand ticked again. He was late.

 

This meant that he could not wash and change at the hotel before going. However, Carl Goodwin did not care about impressions, as we know.

---

Joey Bettany struggled into her second best frock, her hair a general haystack on the top of her head. Madge, entering the doorway at full speed, stopped and stared at Joey, horror filling her lovely eyes.

 

“Josephine Mary Bettany, just look at your hair! Who would have thought that you had pins holding that up in two coils twenty minutes ago!”

 

“Margaret Daphne Bet – er – Russell, calm down, my dear, it will be all very well in just a moment…” her voice trailed off as she went hairbrush hunting.

 

“Now, remember, Joey. You are allowed to call me Madge, but only speak when you are spoken to – and please refrain from being rude.”

 

Jo returned, her hair looking considerably better and her eyes wide and innocent. “Would I ever, Madge?”

 

The owner of the Chalet School sighed slightly. “Oh, Joey-Baba, I’m just so scared that he will report us for – oh, I don’t know. Something bad.”

 

Joey shrugged. “But Madge,” she said bluntly, “there is nothing bad.”

---


Carl Goodwin was still sitting in the train carriage, grumbling under his breath, when it pulled into the station. From now, it was a ride in a taxi up to the Roslein Alpe, where the Russell family lived.

 

Finally, he was standing at the door, late and scruffy-looking, with his cases in one hand and the letter from Mr. Kensington for Mrs. Russell in the other. He knocked sharply, three times.

 

Almost immediately (and promptly reminding him of his lateness) the door swung inwards, and a slight woman with light brown hair was smiling warily at him.

 

“Good day, Sir. How can I help you?” It was obvious, of course, that Rosalie Dene, currently secretary of Dr. Russell, (but soon to be at the school) knew exactly who he was and why he came, so he growled, “I believe you are expecting me. I am an inspector of the National English Schools Board.”

 

“Ah, yes. Of course. Come through to the parlour, please.”

 

They entered the parlor, and Rosalie, after introducing him, bobbed a curtsey - a habit which had not been easily extinguished after all the years at school - and withdrew. Mr. Goodwin stared in surprise. “You make your secretary curtsey?" he exclaimed to the room at large.

 

---

End Notes:

More coming soon...

Chapter 2 - The Inspector meets the Girls by Zazz

 

The room remained silent, staring at him with five pairs of eyes.

 

A slight young woman, small in stature and with a lovely face and curling dark hair came forward and shook his hand warmly. “Good evening, sir. I am Mrs. Russell, the owner of the Chalet School. This,” she swept her hand around the room, “is my family and some very close family friends who are staying with us.”

 

For the first time Mr. Goodwin looked at the other occupants of the room, and his stomach gave a little lurch, remembering his first words. By the window sat a young girl in a wheelchair, slender, with ash-blonde hair and a deep cut fringe. Next to her, sat a very young girl who looked somewhat frail, who had been reading a book to the invalid, until he entered.

 

There were two older girls sitting on the sofa drinking coffee, one with pretty, dark curls and the other with very straight hair (that looked as if it was tugged into its pins, but, being a man, he did not notice) and laughing black eyes. Carl began to feel quite uncomfortable, until one of the girls spoke up, saying, “Rosalie Dene is our secretary. She has been at the Chalet School for many years and here it is a general display of respect to curtsey to a headmistress.”

 

Madge, who had been lost for words at the stranger’s scared look, shot a look of warning at Joey and continued, “This is my sister Josephine, who is head-girl at the Chalet, and with her is Grizel Cochrane, also recently a head-girl, but now spending a holiday with us. By the window is Stacie Benson, who is staying with us for a while, and that is Robin Humphries,” at Mr. Goodwin’s surprised look she added, “Robin’s real name is Cecelia Marya, but who could call her anything but that?” she laughed, and Carl gave an exceedingly restrained chuckle.

 

The tension in the air was thickening when the door on the other side of the Saal opened and Dr. Jem Russell appeared. With a quick, curious glance around the room, his eye fell on their guest.

 

“Carl Goodwin!” he exclaimed. “You, here?”

 

“James Russell! I never thought – how are you here?”

 

“I live here, with my wife Madge and I work up at the Sanatorium. And you are a school inspector!”

 

“I am indeed…it’s good to see you, James.”

 

Jo decided it was high time to interfere. “So…you two know each other?”

 

“Yes,” replied Jem, “We were at school together. A very long time ago. Come, Goodwin, I shall take you to your hotel and you can catch up with the school later.” And, with a sigh a relief from Jo and a cough that sounded a lot like a laugh from Madge, Dr. Jem escorted the inspector out. They heard Jem say, “You wait here, and Marie will fetch your hat and coat.”

 

---

 

Joey looked around at them all, her mouth open to speak. But before she could say a word, Madge clamped a hand over her mouth. Shocked, Jo turned round, her eyes wide and questioning. Madge let go, and put a finger to her lips. Jo face maintained the expression of a stranded codfish. This was not the Madge she knew! Then, silently and quickly, Madge went to the closed door and wrenched it open – in a most unladylike fashion, it is to be feared. What they all saw was surprising to all but Grizel.

 

That man, Carl Goodwin, was stooped, with his ear to the door.

 

He straightened up sharply, narrowly missing the door-frame with his head, and backed away, saying rather loudly, “I am quite sorry madam, next time I lean on a door I will make sure that no-one decides immediately to open…” he wilted under Madge’s cold gaze.

“Good bye, Mr. Goodwin. I hope you like der Goldener Apfel Hotel.”

 

---

 

Joey looked at her elder sister (Madge was in fact twelve years older than Jo) with round eyes. They waited in silence for Madge to speak.

 

She waited a while and then laughed. “Fire at will.”

 

“Madame,” asked Grizel, “How could he!”

 

“What an outrage!” exclaimed Joey.

 

“He is a very naughty man,” added Robin, too primly to be serious.

 

The room erupted with laughter and the tension eased off.

 

But the Chalet girls were not to forget so soon that this man seemed determined to ruin them. He was a threat to the Chalet school.

 

---

 

Goodwin lay on his bed, thinking of all that had happened that day. He was not ashamed of listening at the door – he was only ashamed of having been caught at it. But the image of Mrs. Russells’ furious face was stilled in his mind, and her words, not unkind, but polite hatred etched in every tone. They were not soon to be forgotten.

 

---

 

 

 

Madge Bettany was sitting on the sofa in the Saal when her husband came in. David was gurgling happily in his cot and the girls were reading or sewing (Jo definitely reading) in hammocks on the lawn.

 

Madge looked up as the door opened. “Hello, dear. I’ve been meaning to ask you – what do you think of that old pal of yours, Carl Goodwin?”

 

“He is very changed from how I knew him at school,” Jem acknowledged.

 

Madge looked at him in despair, commanding, “Enlarge, Jem Russell, or else!”

 

“Fine. His mother had died in childbirth, and his father used to keep him away from school quite often because he needed help with his firm. I can’t remember exactly what it was – some manufacturing company – but Goodwin despised it. He was more the type who wanted to study. But when he was around sixteen, his father took him out of school to be a partner in the firm. Old Mr. Goodwin believed that his son actually wanted to work there, but when he died and left all his possessions to his son, Goodwin left the firm in good hands and got a job as a businessman.”

 

“So that’s why he detests our school so much,” Madge realised aloud.

 

“Hates the school? I shouldn’t think so!” He sounded surprised.

 

“Oh, but he does. It is quite obvious – for he seems determined to ruin us.”

 

“What are you talking of, dear? Why do you say that?” Jem glanced out of the window at the girls.

 

“We caught him listening at the door for us to say something about his manner…” and Madge told him of the whole short introduction. Jem gaped at her.

 

“I suppose we shall have to make allowances,” she continued. “He may think that because he does not merit a real education, no one else should.”

 

“But that is ridiculous!” exclaimed a voice from the door. They both turned sharply, to see a well-known figure standing by the door.

 

With a cry of “Juliet!” Madge flung herself on her.

 

 

With a cry of “Juliet!” Madge flung herself on her.

 

---

 

Joey and Grizel both dropped their books simultaneously, Jo letting out a deep sigh and Grizel yawning.

 

Joey and Grizel both dropped their books simultaneously, Jo letting out a deep sigh and Grizel yawning.

 

“Don’t eat me,” Jo remarked.

 

“I’m just so tiyayay…” Grizel’s voice trailed off into another deep yawn. She suddenly closed her mouth with a snap. “Tired.”

 

Joey raised her brows. “I gathered.”

 

“Come walk with me, Joey. I’ll be off soon and then we’ll hardly ever see each other.”

 

A shadow flitted across Joey’s face, and she acknowledged, “I will miss you, Griselda my dear.”

 

“Yes, yes, but that’s not exactly what I wanted to talk to you about…”

 

Always jumping to extraordinary conclusions, Joey shouted, “You’ve found a man!”

 

Joey! How could you! I have certainly not!”

 

“Sorry. It just seemed like the obvious answer. So what is it?” she demanded.

 

“It’s about that inspector – Mr. Goodwin.” Grizel’s pretty face creased into a frown.

 

“Horrible pig.”

 

“Josephine!”

 

“Oops, sorry Madge, but he is!”

 

Madge scolded, “Joey, whether or not he is a pig gives you no reason to rude about him.”

 

Joey felt a little rebellious. “Yes, Madge,” she agreed sweetly, “We all know he is a pig, but we shall not say anything about it.”

 

Her sister refused to rise. “We shall certainly not. What I’m worried about is you.” And she stalked off.

 

Jo looked after her, transfixed to the spot. “I say! What’s got into her?”

 

“She is worried about the school’s reputation. We all are.”

 

“I suppose. But really, there is nothing we can do about it!” Jo sighed. If this was all part of growing up, she should have stopped at fourteen.

 

“There is, though, Joey. We can all do our best to make the school presentable for the inspector.” Grizel sighed. Although she had left the school the year before, she would remain on campus for a while, helping her friend Rosalie as a secretary for Mlle LePattre.

 

“How do you suggest we do that?” Jo began to walk faster, irritated at this new Grizel. It was not the girl she had known before…before Grizel became head girl. Honestly, she thought, if this was what being head girl turned you into; she’d better keep a sharp lookout.

 

“We have to warn the girls.”

 

Joey stopped short. “Warn them? How? That beastly man will be here from the word go – and he is beastly, whether you like it or not – or Madge,” she added as Grizel opened her mouth.

 

She snapped it shut, keeping silence until her still easily sparked temper was tamed. Then she continued. “That’s why I’m asking you.”

 

“You what?”

 

“Oh, Joey, Madame would have strangled you – or herself – if she had heard that.”

 

“Never mind that, but what were you saying beforehand?” Jo demanded.

 

“Only that I need help with figuring out something. But of course, it is of no importance to you, of course.”

 

Joey faced her, serious for once, “I’m not a baby anymore, Grizel.” In an aside she added, “More’s the pity.” To Grizel again she said, “I will listen, but don’t do that to me again, please.”

 

Grizel was, naturally, quite shocked at this, but merely replied, “Sorry, Jo. I won’t do it again,” before she commenced.

 

“We need to find a way of warning the girls. And I need you to help me figure out how.”

 

Joey resisted the urge to say, “Is that all?” and instead thought hard (grimacing terribly, as was her custom.)

 

“I can’t think of…hang on!”

 

“What is it Jo!” Grizel urged.

 

“How about during prayers.”

 

“But wouldn’t he be there?”

 

“I don’t think so…” she suddenly looked up, “He couldn’t very well sit at the back and take notes during prayers, could he. And he won’t know that we do notices then as well.

 

“It’s frightfully underhand, Joey.” Grizel was not exactly one to talk, here, but she continued, “I suppose it’s an idea, all the same. We shall ask Madame.”

 

And with that, they had to be satisfied.


---

 

End Notes:

Next chapter soon...

Chapter 3 - School begins - with another Grand Entrance by Zazz

 

The ferry from Buchau chuffed up to the landing, while girls in a uniform of brown and flame stood waving from the deck to three more. Joey, the Robin and Grizel were standing at the landing, chatting and laughing between the intervals of waving to their friends.

 

The visitors around them smiled, as faint cries of, “Oh! There’s Marie!” and “Margia – Margia Stevens!” floated to where they were sunning themselves.

 

Suddenly, there was a loud splash.

 

“I say!” exclaimed Jo, “It looks as if someone has fallen in! Who could it be?”

 

The water was spraying too hard for them to see properly, but Grizel gasped as a dripping figure was hauled onto the deck, where she positively wilted at Miss Maynard’s glare. There was, of course, no harm meant, but in their eagerness the girls must have pressed forward enough to push her off. It was only when the ferry was closer that the girls on the shore recognised the shock of yellow hair and prominent features (especially her chin).

 

“Cornelia Flower! Well, who else!” Grizel laughed. “She looks very uncomfortable. Shall we run back to house and get a towel, Jo?”

 

But her words had to be satisfied with no reply, for Joey was off at the first word. Finally the Chaletians disembarked and greeted Grizel and the Robin.

 

“Mais où est ma Jo?” asked a small girl with dark hair.

 

“Joey will be with us in a minute, Simone.”

 

“That’s funny, I thought I saw her from the landing.” This was Marie von Eschenau, a lovely girl from the area.

 

“Yes, and she will be back soon,” replied Grizel curtly, wondering why exactly Joey Bettany had to always be the soul and centre of all attention.

 

When Frieda Mensch approached her with the same question, Grizel had to pretend to ignore her, knowing that her temper would never hold if she spoke. Once a carelessly spoken girl, Grizel had learned - the term that she had left the School -  to keep her more nasty thoughts to herself. She remembered her Grandmother’s last letter before she had died. We all have nasty thoughts, Grizel, it had read, but sooner or later they have to be curbed. If all of us spoke them, the world would be a very unpleasant place. Besides, Grizel knew how much she owed Joey, and her family, and nothing would let her forget it.

 

Jo herself returned quickly, and with many thanks from Cornelia and an approving glance from Miss Maynard, joined her own gang with a happy sigh of contentment. She was shocked when Frieda and Marie asked her what Grizel’s problem was, replying that she knew of nothing.

 

“And Grizel was fine earlier!” They returned to the Chalet, Joey ignorant of the slight resentment she had caused.

 

­­­---

 

The girls, filing into the hall for Prayers, were surprised to see Mrs. Russell at the dais next to Mlle, knowing full well that there would be a special occasion or something of the sort.

“Welcome back, girls. I am very glad to see you all. And you are looking quite as healthy as always, if not slightly…wet?” There was an outbreak of giggling – mainly from the middles, and Cornelia Flower turned scarlet. “However, back to our School affairs.

 

“We are glad this year to be able to introduce Mr. Goodwin, who is, I believe, not presently with us,” at the squirming of backs and turning of heads, “but should be soon. Mr. Goodwin is an inspector from the National English Schools Board, so I hope that you will all behave well, and impress him. I have no doubt that you will. After all, his report will be going back to England with him, and I need not stress the necessity of a good result.”

 

She paused for a moment, to make a better impression, and then continued with other school affairs.

 

Halfway through the notices, the door to the dais opened and a tall, good-looking man entered, his eyes on Madame.

 

“You seem to have made a slight mistake. I was told by you yourself that this would be Prayers. Not an introduction speech to the school. I would be very disappointed if I were to learn that you were lying.” Once again, Carl Goodwin found himself in a sticky situation. Around three hundred girls were staring at him, let alone the Mistresses (and two Masters) and the headmistress.

 

Mrs. Russell came forward, acting as if he had not said anything. “This,” she signalled with her hand, “is Mr. Goodwin, an inspector. I hope you will treat him as well as every guest we have ever had.” And she smoothly moved on with the notices, “as if no beastly man had interrupted our Madame” to quote Margia Stevens on the subject.

 

So it was that Carl Goodwin made himself the most hated person in the School. Even he regretted the introduction slightly after he noticed that whenever he walked past a group of girls muttering shiftily, which was now quite often, they would break up in silence, gazing anywhere but at him.

 

Even the Prefects, it seemed, were against him from the start. Passing the Prefects Room, he heard a voice proclaim, (knowing full well with a shameful feeling that the “he” in the sentence was he himself) :

 

“He’s quite a one for entrances!”

---

Chapter 4 - Unease for All by Zazz

 

Lessons began as usual, on the second day of term. Warned by the last experience, Goodwin sat quietly at the back, taking notes on his pad. The girls did their best to ignore him, knowing full well that this was someone they did not want to cross. But it was the Prefects who were the most irritated.

 

On the day of the first Prefects Meeting, Marie von Eschenau arrived late from Le Petit Chalet and entered the room at full speed. “Sorry I’m late, everyone – I just got leave after taking the babes for their walk,” she panted. Suddenly, she spotted someone in the corner who was definitely not a prefect. Quelling the sudden urge to ask what that person was doing in their Prefects Room, she seated herself with all the exhausted dignity she could.

 

“I believe there is a – what shall we call it – not punishment. That is for babies. A task set. For those who arrive late?” Goodwin knew not to interrupt a teacher’s lesson, so all his wrath was taken out here.

 

Frieda Mensch scribbled furiously on the minutes page, and the Head Girl stood up and stared at him. “I beg your pardon?”

 

Knowing well enough that she had understood, he said, rather loudly, “A task. Set for those who come late.”

 

Jo Bettany placed her index fingers evenly on the desk before her, reminding herself not to slam both hands down as hard as she could (hoping perhaps this would send the interfering spider scuttling away).

 

“Mr. Goodwin. As we all have different duties around the school at different times, it could hardly be expected that we can all arrive at the same time. Also, in the Chalet School we uphold certain…traditions. These will not be changed at the drop of a hat.”

 

Quite naturally, this left their guest seething with anger. But the Prefects continued with their meeting, ignoring him quite as well as the staff did, although Carla von Flugen remained quieter than usual.

---

The girls were barely civil to him. When they met him in the corridor, some merely ignored him as if he were a painting of an ugly view. Others inclined their heads slightly, as if to say, "I know who you are and what your purpose is here. As a representative of the school, I will be polite, but not friendly."

 

One day, he had the courage to ask the science Mistress, a Miss Wilson (known to the school as 'Bill') why the girls did not curtsey to him when they exited a room that he was in. The woman laughed in his face and said, "But you are not the Headmistress or the Owner, Mr. Goodwin, however important you may be."

 

Mr. Goodwin had already determined to report that the Chalet School was in desperate need of attention and may even have to be closed down. This was decided after he was introduced at Prayers. When he found out that it was Prayers and he had not been lied to, his shame was even greater – and his anger and resolve doubled. He was still smarting from Miss Wilson's words, but it was worse to hear the girls, including the Prefects speak of him behind his back.

 

But in the end, it was Josephine Bettany’s words that decided him. The humiliation of being spoken to by a mere schoolgirl like that – the idea was unbearable. The School would fall, the owner with it, and that would be the end of the Chalet School.

---

 

Chapter 5 - Picnic... by Zazz

 

Twelve girls skipped past the room that Mr. Goodwin had been offered as a study, each carrying a large hat in one hand and a basket in the other. Carl wondered what on earth was going on, until he heard excited squeals of “picnic!”.

 

At that moment there was a knock on his window, and a tall, fair-headed girl was standing just outside, beckoning to him to open the window. Despite his first hesitation, he looked at her face and then decided to do so.

 

“Hello,” she smiled beautifully at him, “We are all going on a picnic. Would you like to come, Mr. Goodwin?”

 

He frowned, “Who are we all, and who are you?”

 

“Sorry, I seem to have forgotten my manners,” she was still smiling while she spoke, somehow, “My name is Juliet Carrick, and I am an Old Girl of the School – I am now on leave from Oxford University.” Juliet struggled not to giggle wildly at the way his eyes bulged, and continued, “All the previous seniors that can be are here today, so it is a holiday for the girls and we are going on a picnic.”

 

Seeing no way out, and also not wanting to refuse this pretty girl anything, he said resignedly, “Very well, Miss – er…”

 

“Carrick.”

 

“I will come.”

 

---

 

"He is quite formal," Juliet told Joey and Grizel.

 

They gaped at her. "Formal?"

 

"Yes, you know, polite and... well... kind, I suppose."

 

 

“Juliet. If Mr. Goodwin is formal, then my only Aunt Sophonisba is dead!”

 

Goodwin, passing at that moment, heard everything, and his anger began to become worse than ever. He bit his lip that time, but if that Jo Bettany said one more word against him, that school would be ruined, Juliet or no Juliet. He still walked next to her on the way to the Zillerthal, though.

 

Joey’s clever eyes noticed this, and figured that it was only a matter of time before Mr. Goodwin was let down. But, there was no point in him discovering it just yet, for the School needed a good report. Jo knew that to say anything to Juliet would mean the plan was at an end, so she was contented to sit by and watch.

 

The bread and jam was lovely, as were the strawberries and lemonade, and then the younger girls were allowed to play, with strict instructions to keep to the well known boundaries. “For we all know what happened the first time!” added Madge to Miss Wilson.

 

Goodwin was sitting nearby on his jacket, his coat being laid out for Juliet to sit on. “Why? What happened last time?”

 

Joey, as everyone knew (by now), maintained the rights to tell this story. “Elisaveta was met by her future kidnappers.” Everyone stared at her, wondering if her tongue had fallen off in mid-sentence. Why was she not continuing the story? She usually couldn’t stop telling it.

 

“Elisaveta?” asked Goodwin, for once interested in what Jo had to say. “Which one is she?”

 

“Oh, she left,” replied Joey non-committally, “I’m too tired to tell it – Ju will tell you…” she waved her hand in the direction of Juliet, who was shocked beyond belief. However, she began to tell the tale of the Princess at the Chalet School (omitting Matron Webb, of course). She did not notice the meaningful look that Madge shot at Joey, or the smile of satisfaction that played about the latter’s lips.

 

When the story was finished, Goodwin nodded his head wisely. “Yes, I know about her. She left because of the mixing between classes and a shopkeeper’s daughter asked her father for help with finances.” It was only then that he realised he had said too much.

 

Jo Bettany, previously half-dozing against a tree, sat up with a jump. Three Mistresses turned and stared at him. Juliet Carrick stood up and walked off into the trees, and Grizel Cochrane, perched in the lower branches of a tree, fell out, almost braining Joey.

 

Despite her brain, it was Joey who spoke first. She snapped, “Elisaveta left because she had to return to the Belsornian court when she became an heiress. She conversed with the daughters of shopkeepers happily and counted many among her friends. Her Grandfather, the King of Belsornia, congratulated my sister on the running of the School, and if you have any more to say on the subject, please say it to yourself because nobody else would like to hear it.”

 

Joey!” this was Madge, but it was too late, for the flashing black eyes had left the inspector’s face and Jo was following the path Juliet took into the trees.

 

Back at the clearing, cold quiet reigned until Grizel felt like screaming.

 

Suddenly, five subsequent screams ripped open the silence. For one second each of them was frozen in horror. And then all set off at a sprint in the direction of the wails.

 

 

---

 

Chapter 6 - The Bellow of a Bull by Zazz

 

Joey, nearest to the screaming, crashed through the forest, her heart pounding and her head spinning. The thudding of her feet on the ground filled her ears, while the yells began to become louder.

 

She came to where the path met a gate, usually closed but today for some reason open. She could see across the field a group of girls, huddled against the fence, and it was from them that the cry was issuing.

 

Joey raced across the field, and, upon reaching the girls demanded to know what on earth was the matter, for they, and all around them, seemed calm enough.

 

“I-i-i-t’s the bull, Joey – it’s chasing her!” sobbed Ilonka.

 

There was no time to demand who ‘she’ was, because at that moment there was a bellow of an angry bull, and, looking up, Jo saw something that would remain in her nightmares for months to come.

 

Evadne Lannis was being chased across the neighbouring field by a large, red and white bull, which was quickly gaining on her heels. She turned sharply and saw the fence, by which the other girls were cowering. She sprinted towards them, but just before she reached the fence her foot caught in a tussock and she fell forwards, her face smashing into the barbed wire.

 

Joey, swallowing her fear in one large gulp, rushed forward and balanced precariously on the second rung of wire, and gently but incredibly speedily lifted Evvy’s face from the vicious barbs. Her hair was stuck in the wire, though, and between them they wrenched it free, Evadne suppressing a howl of pain as it ripped out of her skull.

 

When she turned to face Jo, it was all the latter could do to keep her head, for her face was streaked with blood from the brutally deep cuts. But, they were on the other side of the fence, and the bull was a little distance back, eyeing them ferociously.

 

Jo took command. “Everybody, help Evvy get back to the trees – and take her to my sister. Make a queen’s chair…” her voice trailed back as she saw out of the corner of her eye the bull, which had retreated to the opposite end of the field, begin to charge.

 

For one second they all stood rooted to the spot, and then Cornelia and Ilonka grabbed Evvy’s arms just above the elbow and began to drag her to the gate at a run. This shook Jo out of her terror, and, screaming “RUN!” she herded them at top speed across the field.

 

She did not need to turn around to know that the bull had broken through the fence – a loud crash and another furious bellow told her that. The seconds dragged on, her head was spinning worse than ever and she was sure that she could not go on…the gate was in front of her…the girls had panicked and closed it and she could not climb…

 

Three girls reached over the gate and hauled their Head Girl over to their side, just before she fainted.

 

---

 

Jo Bettany woke some hours later inside the School San, staring at a plain white ceiling. Rolling over (not without some pain) she saw a little girl asleep in a large armchair beside the bed. The Robin’s eyelash fluttered in her sleep as her chest rose and fell. Joey looked at this picturesque image before, after a shifty look around, slipped out of bed and into her slippers, which someone had thoughtfully laid by the bed. Then, she shrugged into her dressing gown (which was adorning the back of the Robin’s armchair) and padded silently out of the room, heading for the kitchens. Poor Joey did not remember returning to the School or saying goodnight to Madge, nor did she know that the night had passed and it was in fact 11 o’clock the next day, and all the girls were at lessons.

 

---

 

Margia Stevens, sitting in a History lesson with Miss Stewart saw the gowned figure sneaking guiltily down the corridor and began to giggle silently but irrepressibly. Miss Stewart glanced up from the work she was marking and saw a crimson Margia sinking slowly down in the chair, shaking and shaking.

 

“Margia! What on earth is the matter?” Miss Stewart was under the impression that Margia was having a fit of something or other.

 

At this point Margia looked up and saw the Mistress’s face, letting out a hearty guffaw and waving her hand in the direction of the unaware Joey. Miss Stewart knew that she must not giggle, whatever (whatever!) she was feeling, but when Joey heard the unearthly chortle she turned around with a face so guilty that it resembled that of a cat caught in the dairy.

 

The whole room broke into shrieks of laughter, Miss Stewart giggling hard enough to crack her jaw, with Margia reverting to the usual type – but this time on the floor.

 

It was all very well for them, but Joey was put back to bed before she reached the kitchens, with ten times the usual amount of Matey-scolding.

 

---

 

The cuts on Evadne's face would sting for a while yet, but, except for her and Joey, they all recovered speedily and were rejoiced (not!) to return to lessons soon enough.

 

Indeed, the most affected person seemed to be Margia, for every once in a while she would begin to laugh as she saw the image of Jo inside her head. And every time she had to explain to those around her just why she was laughing so hard.

 

---

Chapter 7 - Malice and More by Zazz

 

After the affair of the bull, the middles decided to lie low for a while, and therefore the Prefects were given fewer worries because of it. Evvy was welcomed back by her own clan with subdued joy, for although the scars would remain until the end of term, she was returned to her usual high spirits and slangy self.

 

The next outburst was among none other than the staff; something very novel for them. For Rosalie Dene to lose her temper, it was something quite out of the ordinary, said some. But others, when they heard that it was because of no less a person the Grizel Cochrane, declared that they could hardly blame her.

 

They were sorting through the entries for the Chaletian when Rosalie remarked, “I do wish Jo was still our editor. It is not very fair on Stacie, I know, but after all, Joey was our first.”

 

Grizel ground her teeth, willing for the chatter to stop but Rosalie, quite ignorant of the pain she was causing, continued. “She always was one for extraordinary gifts, you know. There is her writing, for a start. And then languages. And her voice! No one has anything to rival that. Her only drawbacks are mathematics and art.”

 

Grizel heaved a sigh of relief, thankful that Rosalie had finished. Unfortunately, she had not. “Lots of the new girls over the years have been jealous of our Jo. For example, Stacie – when she was plain Eustacia Benson. She left that note for Joey herself to find. And Joyce Linton – fancy Jo saving her mother’s life after that! And in the beginning, there was our one and only Simone. I heard about that from you, mainly. And before her there was…I’m quite sure there was someone – ” Rosalie looked up and saw Grizel’s expression, “Oh – oh my – it was…you.”

 

Rosalie had been a friend of Grizel’s at her previous school, and before Grizel had any idea of her joining the Chalet School, she would complain about a girl called Joey who grabbed every last bit of attention. And then the talk had changed to how she had saved Grizel from the Barenbad Alp, and Grizel knew that she would always owe Joey something.

 

Grizel stood up haughtily and glared at Rosalie. “I was a child, Rosalie. I believe my thoughts have somewhat changed since then.”

 

“But you feel sometimes that you do owe Joey too much. After all, I have seen the way you look at her…” Afterwards, nobody knew what had possessed Rosalie to continue – it was quite unlike her.

 

“How dare you – ” began Grizel, but she was cut short. Rosalie was becoming quite irritated now, and, having never possessed much of a temper, once it got going it was not likely to stop soon, and was twice as bitter into the bargain.

 

“You have always been opposed to her,” she began cruelly. “You have been happy for yourself when she made mistakes. When Juliet first came you were the first to pal up with her because if Joey did you would always be in the background. And then you kept getting into worse scrapes than ever, and you would watch her look on with horrified eyes as you and Juliet cheeked teachers. You were never one to follow your own lead, Grizel…you…and your petty little hatreds…” Rosalie’s eyes, covered in the ‘red mist’ became unclouded, and she saw just what she was doing to Grizel. Rosalie herself had advanced five feet and was standing over Grizel, who was huddled in the corner with her hands over her ears groaning, “No…no! Please stop! Please!”

 

Rosalie gasped and put out a hand to pull Grizel to her feet, stammering, “I-I’m sorry Grizel – I don’t know what came over me – will you forgive – ”

 

Grizel unthinkingly grabbed the proffered hand and swung Rosalie against the wall, pulling herself up in the same movement. She ignored the grunt and thud as the girl hit the wall, and turned bitterly away, knowing that she would never forget the insults. Facing the window, she turned her thoughts to her real feelings against Jo, but was immediately interrupted.

 

For Carl Goodwin was standing just outside the window, his eyes goggling: evidently having seen the whole affair.

---

Chapter 8 - Letters and Confessions by Zazz

 

(From Mr. Goodwin, the Chalet School to Mr. Kensington, Crane Street, London)

 

Dear Sir,

 

            I have need to inform you that although the days of my full inspection are not complete, I must return home, or at least get away from this school.

 

            My reasons? Here they are. My first impression on entering the school was the lack of politeness and welcome. The teachers ignored me; some laughed at my questions even! But it was the girls that were the most startling of all. Although they said nothing, they shot me the looks of deepest loathing and whispered behind my back to each other. Even the Prefects, who hold such responsibility at the Chalet School, made a nasty comment about me behind my back, which I heard as I walked past their door. The head girl, one Josephine Bettany, is the owner’s sister and thinks that therefore she can rule the earth. She herself cheeked me on one occasion when I was inspecting their prefect meeting.

 

            However, there is a slight hitch where the Princess of Belsornia is concerned. I believe what we have heard from Miss Thekla von Stift is, in fact, a lie, so I think it would be best if you followed through and perhaps get in touch with the Belsornian court.

 

            My last point is definitely the deciding point. I was walking by the window of the secretary’s study, when I heard a loud commotion coming from the inside and paused to look. What I saw was too of the minor teachers, Miss Dene and Miss Cochrane, having a stand-up fight – yes! Really!

 

            Therefore, my dear Sir, you must look directly into the closure of the Chalet School.

 

Kind regards,

                        Carl Goodwin.

 

 

(From Josephine Bettany, the Chalet school, to her brother Dick Bettany, India)

 

Dearest Dick,

 

            How is India? And Molly and everyone else? Of course I have to start off with that, but now to the important stuff.

 

            I am sure Madge has told you that we have a new inspector, Carl Goodwin. Well, to put it…nicely…he is an absolute nightmare! He told me myself that I should punish Marie for being late for the Prefect’s Meeting, when everyone knows she was helping the babes down at le Petit Chalet. I explained to him, and he took it as downright cheek!

 

            I haven't much more time to write because I’m going for another Guide Badge, but please do give me some brotherly advice! I am quite certain that he will close us down out of pure spite!

 

            All my love to everyone,

                                                                        Joey

 

(From Thekla von Stift, location unknown, to her father Mr. von Stift, Hotel Martine, London)

 

Father,

 

            I know that you are furious with me for leaving you like that, but I needed time and space to think.

 

            I have thought now, and have decided that all the theories that you yourself brought me up with were absolutely idiotic. I will choose my friends in my own manner and nothing you say will stop me.

 

            Although I know I have made a fool of myself at the Chalet School, I now see where I went wrong. Or where you went wrong. It was my upbringing. You yourself would never understand the friendship between people of different classes and that is your own fault. You brought me up to see the world, yes. But it was a world warped and twisted through your own eyes. From now, I believe I can find my own way. I have a job, young though I may seem to you, as a secretary at a new firm, and have no need of depending on you any further.

 

            I shall write to he head of the Chalet School and inform her that I am sorry for all I have done wrong, and ask for her forgiveness.

 

            You yourself, Father, have nothing to forgive, for although I have acted on my own wishes, they are the right ones.

 

            Kind regards,

                                    Thekla von Stift

P.S. I have changed my name, and there will be no point in looking for me. Thekla.

 

Thekla regarded her ink-stained hands calmly and walked over to the window of her new office. Crane Street was as busy as ever, but her eyes were glazed, unseeing. She knew that she would have to confess who she was to Mr. Kensington, to explain that the school was a good one; it was her who had been in the wrong. And she knew that however long she delayed it, she would have to write that letter to Mademoiselle.

 

---

 

Mr. Kensington stared at her. “So you are Thekla von Stift. Well, that solves a few problems. But I am afraid we will have to follow through with this school, because I have had a letter from Goodwin to declare that it must be closed down. I will tell him to wait and keep his eyes and ears open. I suppose I will be calling you Miss von Stift, now, and not Miss Carrey?”

 

“That would be correct, Sir.” Thekla felt slightly small beside this jolly, exuberant man.

 

“Very well. But if I were you, I wouldn’t expect this school to last long. It seems as if it really does have a problem – teachers fighting, and all that.”

 

“Teachers fighting?” Thekla gasped, “Never!”

 

“Oh, yes. A Miss Cochrane and Miss…” he checked the letter in his hand, “Dene.”

 

“No! It cannot be!”

 

“Unfortunately, it must be. Goodwin would not lie to me – exaggerate, certainly, but never lie. No, I doubt that this Chalet School will last much more than a month.”

 

Chapter 9 - A Story by Zazz

 

Mademoiselle sat under the canopy of leaves where she had set up her deckchair. Her eyes, previously slowly closing as she leafed through all the letters to read, popped open as she saw one from London, with the address similar to that of her first from the schools board. She frowned, worried, and opened it gingerly, fearful of the final decision for the school. What she saw was quite different. It was a letter from Thekla von Stift, that almost forgotten wreck that once darkened the doorway of the Chalet School. The letter was one of thanks, apologies and explanations, finishing with the line, "I know how wrong I was, and how I must still seem to you, but I felt that I had to let you know exactly just how much you have done for me, and how I repaid you in the most selfish and thoughtless way. I am now arguing my case against Carl Goodwin's, and, like you taught all the girls, praying for the Chalet School."

 

Jo Bettany was sitting on a rug under the glaring sun, her position marked by the familiar red parasol, which the girls knew to leave for their head-girl. She was reading a book, her eyes drooping wearily, but not enough to stop her enjoying it.

 

Grizel Cochrane was seated on the grass a little way away, writing a letter to Deira, one of her greatest friends. Every now and then, she would glance over to where Rosalie was sitting, her face hidden by the brim of a large sunhat. It was difficult to remember that they were not talking, and though she tried very hard, she could not bring herself to forgive the words against her.

 

Rosalie Dene herself was also holding a book, but her eyes were merely skimming the pages, her thoughts returning those of Grizel. She knew it had not been right to say it, but she was certain that for the past years Grizel had been hiding from the truth, and should now face her fears.

 

Frieda Mensch looking over at the two, jumped up, knowing what she was about to do and exactly how precariously dangerous it was. First, she approached Grizel, her heart filled with fear, but her hands steady. “Grizel.”

 

Grizel looked up from the letter, after realising that once again she had started doodling on the paper, and sighing at the thought of rewriting the letter. Frieda looked down at the sketch with some horror, for Grizel had drawn a hangman and was evidently tightening the noose. “What is it, Frieda? If you want help with work, go find someone else, because honestly my brain does not function at this time of the day.”

 

Frieda shook her flaxen head. “No…I wanted to tell you a story.”

 

“A story?” Grizel looked incredulous, “Oh please, I really haven’t the time.”

 

“But it is a very lovely one,” Frieda objected, “I think you would like it.”

 

Grizel looked searchingly into her serious blue eyes, and then nodded resignedly in consent.

 

Once there was a young girl, an orphan, who lived in a lovely orphanage with many friends. Throughout the year she was happy and grateful, loving her friends and enjoying life.

 At the age of four she had been found on the streets, her only companion a worn out teddy bear with buttons for eyes. The trauma of her parent’s death was still a tragic hollow in her eyes, and she had no-where to go: no home.

Another little girl, a six year old, was out walking with her nurse when she saw the orphan. She immediately went to her and tried to make friends, but the nurse dragged her away and forbid her to go near the street children. That night, the younger girl had slept in a darkened doorway of a spooky house, and for the next week did not move. Every day, the other girl would walk by with her nurse, wondering why the stranger was still there. One day, she told her mother of the street child and her mother went to see for herself. After investigating slightly, she realised what had happened to the girl, and she immediately had an inspiration. During the next three weeks, the widowed mother of the six year old founded an orphanage at her home, her first entry being the little girl off the streets. There were soon many children, ranging in their ages up to thirteen and fourteen. The orphan grew up healthily, but she always knew that she would be in dept to the elder girl. The other did not hold it against her, and as a rule they were good friends, but every day they knew that their friendship was being slowly severed.

Finally, they parted ways, the older going to a far away college and the younger to work as a serving maid in one of the nearby estates. Still, the younger knew that she was living on charity, and would have to do something to make everything even. The day came when she had earned enough money to leave the estate, and she travelled to the other side of England, to the shore where she would spend some years of her life. One day, she was painting the sea on a windy day, when far out to sea she could see a splashing figure. She wasted no time in squinting, merely pulling of her outer garments and diving in.

She saved a life that day, and when she took the person back to her hut, she realised it was none other than the girl who had taken compassion on her that first time, many years ago. She smiled at her, saying, “So now I have repaid the dept.” But the other merely looked confused. “You saved my life,” she orphan continued, “And now I have saved yours. I already feel less as if I were an object of charity.”

The older woman looked at her, long and hard. “You thought that I was waiting for you to repay me!” she realised aloud, before continuing, “But it was never like that. I was not responsible for saving you, I thought that we were only friends.”

“Friends we have been,” nodded the orphan, “But always I knew that if it was not for you, my life would be nothing. I have always owed that to you.”

Her hand was taken in a firm grasp. “If you thought that, I am thankful that you saved my life. But I am sorry if I ever gave you reason to think so.”

The orphan realised that the whole act of charity was in her own mind, and that it was a fantasy made up by only her. She found that those many years of helplessness were her own fault, and that friends were friends, no matter how they met.

Eventually the two returned to the orphanage, and took over when the mother retired. They taught every girl with equality, and often told their orphans a fairytale of how two girls had saved each other’s lives.

 

Grizel lifted her lowered eyes to Frieda’s, suddenly understanding everything for the first time. She whispered, “Where did you learn that story, Frieda?”

 

The younger girl merely smiled, replying, “I made it up just now.” Grizel stared at her, realising how remarkable her young friend was. Then she took both her hands, saying a fervent ‘Thank you!’ before half running over to where Rosalie was lying.

 

And the beauty of the whole thing, Frieda thought to herself, is that Joey will never know.

 

Chapter 10 - Joey's Plan by Zazz

 

Carl Goodwin was feeling exceptionally grumpy on Monday. Mr. Kensington had written to say that he must stay at the Chalet, and he was feeling quite overcome by all these scheming women. Sometimes he would see even the staff break off quickly as he entered a room, eyeing him suspiciously and beginning to talk rather hurriedly about the weather. The two members of staff involved in the brawl were closer friends than ever – Carl wondered sometimes if it had just been his imagination and decided not to mention it to Mr. Kensington again, just in case.

 

Nowadays, every class inspected was rushed, but meticulous. He did not know it, but the Mistresses had all decided that he was to be given no chance to ask any questions.

 

---

 

Back in London, Thekla von Stift was in a determined discussion with Mr. Kensington. She was still using her best powers of persuasion to convince him to take Mr. Goodwin from the Chalet School and send an unbiased inspector. Her boss, however, had very different ideas.

 

“No, no. We shall make him stay even longer, and if this School can really work the miracles with people that you have to me about, we shall save it. I am afraid that this School relies only on its so-called brilliant manoeuvres.”

 

---

 

Mademoiselle and Madge were having a meeting in the Head’s Study, when there was a very indistinguishable tab on the door and it was thrust open by the inspector himself.

 

“Good afternoon, Mr. Goodwin. Would you like some short-bread?” asked Madge.

 

He stared at her as if short-bread and business would react violently with each other, and she shrugged elegantly and put the tin away.

 

He went straight to the point. “I have come to inform you of your inspection results.”

 

Mademoiselle frowned slightly. “So soon?”

 

“Yes,” Goodwin smiled nastily, “So soon.”

 

“Very well. Come, let us hear them.”

 

“No, I am afraid that there is nothing to be said about the results. I am also afraid that I have to inform you that the Chalet School is closing down.”

 

Madge and Mademoiselle resisted the urge to hit him, and even managed to control their faces in expressions of serenity. Mrs. Russell was the most shocked. All those years of hard work, and all for nothing.

 

---

 

Outside the Head’s Study, Simone was waiting to speak to her cousin when she heard those words. She had not meant to, but she had heard them all the same. She scampered off to find Joey. Jo would know what to do.

 

---

 

Inside the room, Mr. Goodwin was not finished. In fact, he had to pause for a while, because he was quite shocked at the calm manner in which the ladies received the news.

 

“However,” he continued, “My boss has written to inform me that I will stay on, and that some business back in England has made him change his mind. I will stay for the summer, and if there is no distinguishable improvement before then, the School will certainly close down. For now, it is quite safe.”

 

Mademoiselle rose stiffly. “Thank you, sir, for not shocking us with the bad news. We shall be quite happy to have you stay for the summer as our guest, and you will be as welcome as you always were.”

 

Feeling that the good lady was mocking him, Goodwin left the room, and decided to walk on the lake path to clear his head.

 

As soon as he stepped out of the door, he knew that something had gone wrong, for although all the girls were supposed to be resting or sleeping at this time, this wall of silence was somehow waiting; waiting for something to happen. He tried to shrug it off, and walked towards his room, the study which had been donated to him quite recently.

 

---

 

Meanwhile, after speaking to Simone, Joey was in an urgent discussion with Juliet Carrick. Finally, Juliet gave in and twisted her engagement ring off her fourth finger. She looked drawn and pale with worry, but plastered on a smile and headed downstairs.

 

---

 

Goodwin was walking down towards the door of his study when he saw Juliet leaning against his door, smiling at him. He started, shocked, and then smiled back.

 

“I came to ask about the inspection results. I know that whether you go soon or not depends on that.” Juliet somehow managed to look sad at the prospect.

 

Goodwin shook his head, “No, the school needs more reviewing. It is very complicated.” He shook his head slightly. There was no chance of him telling her exactly what the plan was. “So I will stay for the remainder of the summer. By the by, Miss Carrick, I am going for a walk around the lake this evening, would you care to accompany me?”

 

“It would be lovely. Yes, we shall invite Jo, Marie, and Frieda, and…”

 

“No, no. We shall not involve the girls – I believe that they are quite against me at the moment.” Goodwin had seized his chance and now he would not let it go. Juliet sighed, and then nodded.

 

“Very well. I will come alone.” She managed one more smile before saying goodbye and walking to her room.

 

---

 

That evening, Joey Bettany stood at the window and watched two figured strolling by the lake. Her plan was working, but who knew if it would last?

 

Chapter 11 - A PAIR OF STAR-CROSS'D LOVERS TAKE...a walk... by Zazz

 

The sun was sinking over the beautiful lake, casting brilliant colours of red and orange over the still water. Juliet and Carl walked on in silence, for Juliet was drinking in the beauty of the scene, trying to forget the presence of the man beside her, and Carl was wondering desperately how to start a conversation that did not mention the School.

“Are you staying here for long, Miss Carrick?”

“Juliet,” she corrected him, and then added, “Yes, I am. I teach at the annex on the Alp, but at the present they have a holiday because the weather has become too dangerous.”

“Dangerous?” Carl glanced up at the sky, wondering what on earth could be dangerous during such lovely weather.

“Yes,” she nodded, “Mudslides. They are quite common at this time of year. Especially after the heavy rain that there has been.”

“Heavy rain?” repeated Carl, feeling like an idiot as he did so.

“Yes,” she suddenly laughed merrily, “You see, it rains far more often up there than here, for they are at a different altitude. Generally they do get nicer weather though,” she added ruefully.

He found himself joining her laugh. “So have you been at the School for a long time?” he asked, and then realised that he did not want to talk about the School.

“Yes, since I was thirteen or fourteen. My parents left me there, and then they died in a car accident.” There was a trace of sadness in her voice. “Mrs. Russell has raised me as her ward, and I could honestly say that without the School I would be struggling in some dingy backstreet in a bakery or something of the sort.”

Mr. Goodwin was too shocked to reply. She had been raised by the School? And if he closed the School, she would be alone and unaided? His mind was in a whirl. Finally he asked, “Couldn’t you marry?”

He mistook her blush for modesty as she answered, “Apparently not.”

Carl frowned. “What do you mean by that?”

She turned her face to the rising moon so that he could not see the lie written plainly on her miserable features. “I have not been asked.”

“Someone will, have no fear.”

It was meant to be a reassurance , but she stopped in her tracks and turned around to face him.

“I am not afraid,” she said quietly. “Perhaps you do not know it, but a woman’s hardships do not necessarily end when she is married. And besides, I may want to do something with my life. All girls are not trained to go to school, learn to cook, and then get married.”

“I agree,” It was true, although he had not known it before. “I suppose nobody wants to sit around and have other people do everything for them.”

“Quite right,” she agreed, and they fell into step once more, while the silence overcame them.

 

---

 

Donal was on the train from Innsbruck to Buchau when he thought of the last letter that Juliet had written. It had ended:

I miss you a lot, Donal, and I can’t wait until you are back among us. But please remember that if I will have to make a sacrifice for the School, I will put it above everything else. You yourself know how much I owe the Chalet School, and that I would do anything for the pupils and the teachers.

He folded the letter and disembarked as the train stopped, and began to walk towards the ferry. It was a beautiful night, for the moon was high in the sky and the stars were twinkling in the black velvet blanket that smothered the earth. What did she mean?

The ferry chugged along gently, and soon they were making their way over to the little landing on the opposite side of the lake. From here he could see the blazing lights of the school, and felt glad that he would soon see Juliet.

The shadows flickered in the silvery light. The rocks on the shore looked dark and menacing, while the water lapped gently at their edge. A couple were walking slowly down the lake path, and the woman’s fair hair was glistening with tints of silver that reflected the ripples on the surface of the calm lake.

The ferry pulled in at the landing and Donal disembarked and began to make his way to the School.

He was welcomed at the door by a slightly flustered Jo, who barely spoke before looking quickly around the area and bundling him inside.

“Where is Juliet?” he smiled warmly.

The look on her face told him all there was to know. His mind juddered back to the picturesque pair of lovers by the lake and his eyes suddenly darkened as realisation struck him.

 

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