Summary: Some episodes from Mike Maynard's point of view
Categories: Ste Therese's House Characters: Mike Maynard
School Period: Switzerland
School Name: Chalet School
Chapters: 2 Completed: No
Word count: 3952 Read: 5278
Published: 10 Dec 2013 Updated: 15 Apr 2014
1. The Sale, exams and a whistle by Beecharmer
2. Chapter 2 by Beecharmer
The Sale, exams and a whistle by Beecharmer
Five Francs ! A whole FIVE ! Two lovely crisp franc notes, and the rest in centimes.
If Mike was honest, he liked the centimes better, even if each of them were worth less. They made such a lovely 'clunky' sound in his pocket when he moved.
He had been wandering around the school gardens for a while, but the stalls weren't open yet, nor were the competitions, and he was bored. The grown ups and 'those girls' were all busy and didn't really have much time for a small boy they saw all the time. He knew his sisters or cousins would try to set him to doing something useful, and he was nearly bored enough to go and find one. Maybe Bride. Bride always had time for him, she liked boats too. Most girls weren't much use, Mike felt. Either silly or bossy. But Bride would settle down on the floor with him, help him set his boats up and be either a ship under attack while Mike was a pirate, or be a bad pirate being chased by Mike's Royal Navy.
That girl Tom had come to visit too this time. Mike thought she was wonderful, and looked hopefully round to see if he could see her. She had carved him a few ships from sticks for him over the years, and even showed him how she did it. Mamma wouldn't let him use a knife that sharp yet, but Mike was looking forward to when he was big enough to do more than the little scraping of twigs he could do so far. That girl was alright, and Bride was good, for a cousin. She still bossed him sometimes, but not as much as the others did.
He located Tom at last, near her dolls house. He scorned such girly things, but if he was honest it was rather nifty - for a girls toy. He wandered over for a bit, but the big girl was too busy talking to do more than flash him a smile and suggest maybe Sir Francis Drake had had a house like this. That made it a BIT more interesting, but Mike didn't really believe Francis Drake had had something so boring as a house when he could have lived on a ship all the time.
The little things in the house were very clever, but he knew from last year's Sale that he wouldn't be allowed to take things out, or look at closely as he'd really like. So Mike wandered off a bit, and started towards the school building. He wasn't usually allowed in there on his own, the silly girls were always at lessons or in exams. Mike wasn't quite sure what an exam was, but the bigger ones made a big fuss about being in one, so he thought it must be quite uncomfortable. Maybe it was a big box with nails in it, like in that story Mr Maclaren had suggested to him the other day.
Remembering Mr Maclaren, Mike looked around hopefully, perhaps he was here. He was a strict tutor during school hours, but out of them he was great fun to be with. The Embrey boys might not be about much today, so Mike could perhaps play with Mr Maclaren without having to stick to games that didn't involve ships or boats. Paul Embrey had just started getting a bit bossy about that, and Mike didn't see why. There were so many good games that could be played with seafaring or boats in general.
Mike saw the familiar figure, and started towards him, then his face fell and he turned away. Mr Maclaren was with Maria Marini. He wouldn't be any fun today. They really were annoying, grown ups, either being bossy or 'falling in love'. It seemed just as uncomfortable and mystifying a phrase as being 'in exams'. It certainly changed otherwise sensible adults, that much Mike knew. Maria had looked after him before Mr Maclaren and been quite fun, though she was still bossy, like all girls were. Now she was no fun and neither was Mr Maclaren. Love was stupid, Mike thought.
He saw that Bride was busy being a nearly grown up, so wouldn't be any fun either, and turned back disconsolately to the school again. His second favourite girl cousin, Ailee, was all dressed up, so she wouldn't be able to play either. Ailee was a little tomboy normally, and the two quite enjoyed sailing make believe boats through the garden or being adventurers, but she was with all her schoolfriends at the moment, getting their stall ready, and he was sure she wouldn't be willing to play right now.
He mooched along, trying to see if anyone would let him join in, but there were people rushing about all around him, and all this chitter chatter was making his head ache. He found a little space off to one side of the entrance hall and sat on the floor next to a little table. A few of the girls and mistresses noticed him and kept a weather eye out for any Mike Mischief, but he knew better than to be naughty today, however bored he was. He knew that Sale Days were important ones, so he had to be on his best behaviour. He sighed. Best behaviour really was BORING though. Especially as he couldn't even buy anything yet, or play any of the competitions.
That reminded him, and he grinned in delight, running his fingers through the coins and rustling the notes. He knew just what he wanted to buy with them. Len had told him that there were some little carved boats in the sale, and a lovely pirate's hat made in their hobbies club.
He got the coins out of his pocket and grinned at the collection. He lined them up, putting them carefully just touching each other by the very edges, made a line, then a circle type shape. If anyone had looked at it they would have called it a flower, but Mike was fierce in his head, it was a pattern, nothing so girly as a flower.
He stuck his tongue out to one side in concentration next as he set them all up on their edges. He thought about lining them up like that on their edges, then tipping them over like a domino rally, but just then Aunty Nell came into the hall, and he could see she was watching. Aunty Nell wasn't bad too, as Aunts go, but she was usually a bit too 'On the spot'.
He sighed, tipping some of the balanced coins over in the gust of small boy frustration. The others wobbled, and that reminded him of another fun game with coins. He held a centime with fingers on either hand and tried to spin it. He managed a few slow circles, but they fell over very quickly. Mike frowned and tried again and again, concentrating hard to try to make them whirl the way Stephen could.
Then one of them nearly fell down the gap between the table and the wall, and Mike decided this was too risky a pursuit. He didn't want to risk losing a single centime, there were too many lovely things to spend them on. His very very own centimes, the first ones Mamma had said he could spend on exactly what he liked, so long as he didn't buy and eat just sweets.
He looked around the room and tried to decide what to do next. He tried a casual wander near the stairs, to see if he could explore the school a bit, but Aunty Matey caught his eye just as he started that way, and he knew it was no good. He decided it wasn't going to work today, he wasn't going to find out what an 'exam' looked like, so he may as well wander outside again.
That was when he saw it. A whistle. A shiny beautiful whistle. There wasn't anyone with it. In fact there weren't many people about at all at the moment. He picked it up and looked at it, and spun it on it's cord for a bit.
Mike liked whistles, even more since Bride had told him all about how people used whistles to order people about on ships, or to warn them. He couldn't really whistle yet, not as well as Len could, or Mamma. He could make a bit of a noise, but nothing really satisfying and ... and whistle-like. He put it to his mouth, and gave a tiny puff. A very quiet noise came out, but it was a noise, and Mike grinned. Afterwards he realised there wasn't much chance of the grown ups not noticing the noise and being cross, but his little soul was just itching to hear the whistle properly. Before he had time to even think about the consequences, he had blown his cheeks up and whoosed the air out, all in a rush.
He almost dropped it with the shock then totally forgot himself, and started blowing a few more times.
"Mike!!" The voice made him jump. Aunty Nell sounded really angry. He bit down on the whistle and hurt his teeth, then turned to her, guilt written all across his face. He spat it out, gave it a rub on his jumper and handed it over.
"You are a very naughty boy!" Nell Wilson scolded, looking her grimmest. She'd jumped herself at the unexpected noise and bitten her tongue, which didn't help her feeling more forgiving to the little boy.
Mike looked worried, then as Mamma arrived he looked faintly scared. Not that Mamma was scary, but there were suddenly lots and lots of people around, and he realised retribution must be on it's way.
"Mike again!" he heard Mamma say, and he squirmed. He didn't mean to be so naughty, especially this time when he had promised to be good. "Was it you who blew that whistle Mike?"
He nodded, and then his face fell even further, as she demanded his money back as punishment. This was terrible! His first ever money to spend as he liked. His pirate's hat, his go on the lucky dip, his toy boats and his goes on the competitions. All gone ! He wasn't going to disobey Mamma, though, especially when she looked like that. He tried to salvage at least something, saying imploringly "Please, Mamma, oh, please-" but she cut him off and held out her hand.
"I told you to give them to me" was all she said, and she took the money, putting it in her bag. "And now you can tell us why you blew the whistle."
He winked back the tears, an swallowed valiantly. He really had tried so hard to be good, and now his whole day had been spoiled. "I - I saw it - and I thought - it would be fun to b-blow it" he gulped out, then stopped there, on the very verge of tears.
"Very well" he heard Mamma say, and he could tell she meant it. "You've had your fun, and now you can pay for it. Five francs it'll cost you, but I supposed you thought it worth it."
Joey was sharper than she meant to be really, she herself knew that Mike's naughtiness more often than not was due to boredom or loneliness, as he wasn't quite old enough to be that close to Stephen and Charles, and as yet the twins were not really much fun for him. But she had been so enjoying just spending a few uninterrupted hours with Madge, and she felt guilty that she had left Mike to his own devices, forgetting that Mr Maclaren would be enjoying his time off with Maria. She'd been so happy, just relaxing and being the younger sister for once, rather than Mamma or Wife. So that, combined with embarrassment that yet another of her children had caused a sensation just when she relaxed her guard briefly, made her issue her terrible punishment.
Mike had desperately wanted to avoid crying in front of all these girls, but he couldn't hold back, and dug his fists in his eyes at this loss of his lovely plan for spending his money, his very own money.
Thankfully, help was at hand. Margia Stevens, who was there to open the sale put in a plea with Mamma, and she relented. She gave him back his centimes.
"I'll give you the loose change back" she said. "IF you manage to be a good boy for the rest of the day, you shall have the rest later, but that's as far as I'll go. Here you are!"
He gulped and quickly shoved the coins into his pocket. He would be as good as he could, for he knew Mamma was really cross. She kept him close for the next hour, and relented with his remaining two francs just before the afternoon selling began. He scooted straight off to where the coveted pirate hat had been earlier. Thankfully he found that thoughtful Len had made sure it wouldn't be sold, promising the francs herself if Mike wasn't in funds by then. He grinned from ear to ear. Len wasn't bad really, for a sister, though she was bossy too. He guessed that girls just WERE bossy, they couldn't help it, poor things.
In addition, Bride bought him a small sailboat, and his heroine Tom had promised to try to show him how to whistle by himself. Aunty Nell had stopped being angry with him quite quickly once her bitten tongue had healed. Mamma hadn't stayed cross too. She really was a very fair Mamma, he acknowledged to himself late that night, tucked up with his precious hat on his bedside table. Even if she wouldn't let him wear his hat to bed. He sighed happily, thinking of the day. Ailee had come and found him too, and let him help on their stall, so he had felt most grown up, holding the money bag for them. He had been kept far too busy by all his siblings, aunts and cousins after that to be bored or naughty.
So all in all, Mike thought drowsily, giirls aren't so bad, after all... sometimes.
Originally for the April 2014 Day Girls Topic of "Tricks" but got far too long so put it here instead. :-)
Originally was going to be for the Day Girls topic of Tricks, but got far too long, so it will work just as well here
Mike stuck his tongue out slightly between his teeth and frowned in concentration.
Down it goes...
Up it comes...
And ... Noooooooo!
The toy quivered, twisted, and fell, tangling the string slightly as it went. Mike bit his lip, picked it up in his other hand and laboriuously wrapped the string back around, ready for another try.
Down, up, down, up, down, up...
He smiled slightly, at least it was moving this time. His brother watched, wincing slightly as the yoyo nearly hit the ground more than once. It wasn't Mike's fault, he was just so little that any decent sized yoyo had to be lifted up slightly at the end of the roll, or it would catch and spin out of control. Charles really wanted to say to him that he'd be better to stick to his smaller toy yoyo, and just get used to that, but that really was too small and light to do many tricks, and the dream of Mike's life right now was to master every yoyo trick that his elders could do.
Steven, distracted by all the sudden changes he was going through, had lost his customary good temper, and after a few tries just told 'the kid' to leave tricks till he was older, and refused to help any more. He had ignored the flashing eyes of a hurt little brother's pride, and gone off to mooch around the outside of the San, trying to pretend that he was just walking for exercise. Charles suspected that it had more to do with the nurses sometimes sunbathing in the staff garden, and knew there wasn't much point in going with him. Those extra three years between them hadn't seemed to matter that much till recently, but now Stephen, with his half grown clumsiness, squeaky voice and uncharacteristic grumpiness, wasn't anything like as much fun as before.
So Charles had stayed behind, preferring to read a book in the hammock, or doze slightly. He'd normally have ignored the sounds, after all in their family there was ALWAYS someone around. But finally the Whizz-clunk, Whizz, Whizz, Clunk, interspersed with sounds of Mike's ever increasing frustration, had caught his attention enough to make him go in search of his brother. It wasn't much of a step for gentle amendable Charles to find himself appointed as tutor, and swiftly find that doing something was nearly always easier than trying to explain to someone HOW to do something.
He watched as Mike got into a rhythm and started to grin at his obvious delight in his success. So many tricks needed a good momentum and string tightness, but the basics of a really good yoyo technique were far too boring for Mike to want to stick to getting that right before moving on. He kept trying to do advanced tricks, desperate to be able to do anything that Steve, Len and Chas could do, but not old enough yet to understand the years of playing around and getting used to how the tricks worked that his siblings had gone through. Not to mention the simplest obstacle, that he just was too short to get a good run going. Winding the sting a little round his finger and getting him a shallow box to stand on to get those extra inches had helped a lot, and Charles was thankful not to keep having that horrible Click, Click. Clatter as Mike had chipped the ground then crashed into it on the end of most of the yoyo runs.
Charles had done his best, quietly explaining that you had to get the basics sorted before you could get the other tricks to work, but had had to let Mike find out for himself, through various bruises from poorly timed yoyo flinging. Now, still smarting after a particularly painful hit just above his eye brow, Mike was finally listening.
"Ok Mike, try now..."
Out at an angle...
Mike's eyes gleamed. It had worked ! Finally ! He concentrated on a few more goes, then tried to stop the yoyo half way, sure that now he would suddenly be able to do it, despite all of Charles' words to the contrary. The yoyo twitched, for a tantalising moment looked like it would stop, then twisted and fell, losing the tension in the string and nearly tangling.
"Drat it!" Mike couldn't help saying, then looked up guiltily at his elder brother, sure that he'd be told off for the word. Charles was too absorbed in how to teach him to bother with slang, and took the yoyo for a moment, trying to work out by doing the tricks, how he did them, in order to tell his brother. In his absorption, he stuck the tip of his tongue out of his mouth in exactly the same way as his brother had earlier. Not that Mike noticed, he was far too focussed on the whirring, whirling objects and it's stops and starts to look at Chas's face.
He fought the urge to ask for the yoyo back, understanding that this wasn't a typical older brother trait of being annoying and taking a longer go than they should. Chas was trying to help him, and Mike was starting to realise that this whole thing was far more complicated than he had ever realised. He had moments of being tempted to give up, go and run around or climb somewhere to relieve his frustration, but he wasn't going to let this beat him. His brothers and Len must have started out finding it just as difficult as him, and now they could do at least 30 tricks, looking as though it was totally effortless. Even Con and Margot could do a few, though Con wasn't really that interested and Margot didn't have the patience for it. Mike liked the idea of being able to do something that Margot couldn't, she could be so patronising and older sisterish sometimes. So he fought his urge to change to a different, more instantly gratifying hobby, and watched his brother with intense concentration.
Joey looked out of the window, smiled and motioned Jack to come and watch. They grinned at the absorbed pair of boys, and settled down to watch the tutorial, impressed with how calmly and quietly Chas was getting his brother to listen.
"If only he could do that with other lessons!" Joey said with a shake of her head. "Mike is Margot all over again, just cannot see the point of anything involving sitting still."
"Oh, I don't know." Jack replied, watching his third boy try again and again to master the techniques. "He's growing up a bit, look how long he has stayed still to do this - must be a record !"
She nodded, and then went back to her mending, but Jack watched for a little longer. He never tired of seeing how his children seemed to constantly change in their friendships with each other as the years went on. He was taken back many years to Joey showing the triplets how to do their very first tricks, and then Len mastering one after the other, quiet patience winning out over Margot's more natural physical ability to control the string. Having found a book on the subject, she went far beyond anything Jack or Joey could do, and he was again reminded of finding her doing just what Chas was here, explaining and demonstrating over and over again to Steve what to do. He was tempted to go out and join them, try to show Mike his own pet tricks and techniques, but he held back. Chas had been a bit left out recently, with Steve growing up that little bit faster. Mike was always a lonely soul, being part way between the twins and his elder brothers, so this would be good for them both.
Unaware of the scrutiny, the brothers continued on their quest, practice, demonstrate, practice, demonstrate. Every whirr, whizz, stop and successful trick brought smiles to their faces and bricks in the building up of their friendship.
They had to stop when food was ready, but it had been a productive afternoon, and Mike felt a lot better. He looked thoughtfully at Chas, and decided perhaps he wasn't such a boring brother compared to big exciting Stephen after all. Catching his eye at the table, he passed an extra nice bit of food over to him, despite the fact that he really really wanted it for himself. Chas grinned, and thanked him, taking the offering even though he was nearly full. Mike was so rarely this calm and friendly to him, he knew he needed to make the most of it.
But that was brothers and sisters. Pull your hair one minute, help you out the next. Len had taught Stephen, Stephen had taught him and now he was teaching Mike. One day maybe Mike would teach Felix and Felicity, and onwards the cycle would go. That was the way it worked in a large family, and Chas was quietly proud of doing his bit, passing on the lessons down the line. It had been a good afternoon.
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