Hilda’s mobile rang again and she answered it irritability when she saw it was Nell. Her expression grew darker and darker when Nell explained that her car had broken down and that she would not be able to get there until the following day. She snapped her phone shut with such force that a crack appeared across the screen. She felt a vein in the side of her neck begin to throb and the familiar feeling of a headache appeared. She felt as though everyone and everything was conspiring against her.
Time had started to fly by once they had reached Switzerland and Hilda had found herself busier than ever. For the first time she had begun to realise how much work Nell had actually done at the main school. Before the move Hilda had been too busy to realise this but once life had settled down she had not appreciated reading all about Nell’s life in the gossip pages over the internet and in the tabloids. While still involved behind the scenes, Nell had very little participation in the main school and this had given her considerably more free time and she was enjoying life immensely. Hilda resolved to end this once and for all and had begun to plan for Nell to once more become more part of the main school.
Despite the triplets being too young for the new school in Switzerland, Hilda had allowed the young woman to argue for their inclusion in the new setting and had finally allowed herself to be persuaded that they should come. Hilda had wanted the girls under her nose to control them and to make sure that the oldest triplet was still kept in the dark. Now that the young woman was getting older and could not participate in as many adventures, Hilda had wanted to ensure a successor for her and had already planned her marriage.
The youngest triplet had been involved in a near drowning during the second term. Hilda had approached her about falling into a lake over the half term trip. The young girl had promptly agreed. For this accident Hilda was taking no chances and there had been a diver, at the ready to set to help if there were problems. Certain girls had been briefed to distract the oldest triplet in this case, but everything had gone off perfectly. The young woman had come down to see her daughter and had provided some touching scenes. She had also managed to help the new girl who had been involved in the rescue.
The finishing touch had been to arrange for the marriage of one of the audience’s favourite mistresses. That young woman had asked if she could be released from her contract as she wanted to get married and start a family. Hilda had taken some time to think this over and once she realised the young history mistresses fiancé was also an actor had said that they could change the conditions of her contract. She would let her reduce her hours if both her and her fiancé would get married on the show as well. The young history mistress had seen her lawyer who had informed her that there was no way she could break her contract without suffering huge penalties. She had then accepted Hilda’s offer. Hilda, feeling generous at the time, had agreed to let the young couple pursue film projects when they were not needed although she wanted script approval. Hilda had also agreed to let the couple have a percentage of the profits from the merchandising that she would release for their marriage.
The school had continued all through the years with a tradition of a sale for beds in the sanatorium. Most of the goods that the students produced were pure rubbish and in the early days were often just discarded but the advent of eBay had meant that often things were snapped up for ridiculous prices. Realising this Hilda and Nell had set up their own site where people could bid for goods before the sale and then these were posted out once various actors had bought them on the day. Some of the girls actually managed to produce beautiful work and were asked to sign certificates of authenticity to go with their work. Hilda and Nell had received the profits from the sales while the girls were at school but many had gone on to find quick success afterwards.
Hilda had decided that the young woman needed another child but felt it was too early to introduce another baby so she had arranged for the school to give the woman a puppy as her old dog had died before the move to Switzerland. Despite the young woman’s efforts to train him this dog had been trained from an early age to be the naughtiest dog that it could be and, when she was not around, this training was continued by the doctor and the maid. Anyone who was going to come in contact with the animal had had to sign waivers saying that the production company was not liable for any costs that arose from being injured by the dog.
Hilda had also introduced an unofficial goddaughter for the young woman from a barely remembered friend from the school across the lake in Tirol. This goddaughter had even shared the same name as the young woman. The young woman had eagerly taken the child in and had been able to provide support in some extremely touching scenes when the child’s parents were kidnapped and then severely injured. The young actress who had been cast was personable and well liked by most members of the cast. Only the young neighbour had antipathy for her as she had felt her spotlight slipping away from her with the introduction. Especially after a big rescue scene in which the unofficial goddaughter was the heroine rather than the young neighbour.
The young neighbour had not been happy, as she had felt her part in the rescue had been minimized and she had demanded some big scenes from Hilda. This occurred in the following term. The young neighbour started the term with the death of her grandmother and then there was also her mother who was not well again. She was given a difficult new girl to look after, was made dormitory as well as form prefect and provided an amusing escaped during some Christmas festivities. But the biggest scenes came near the end of that term. A stunt had been very carefully planned. It had been practised over and over again before it had finally been filmed and on the day it was worked spectacularly. The young neighbour had been thrown against a tree and had looked dead. The young woman had been called upon, as the neighbour’s mother had been too sick to come. The young woman had sat by the bedside of the young neighbour with tragic eyes as she had waited for news. She had declared that if the young neighbour's mother could not be there for her then she would. She had also been particularly upset that it had been one of her children who had helped to cause the accident. In fact there had been many calls to the production office by viewers who had been anxious about the youngest triplets health as a result of her tears. Hilda had just congratulated her on a job well done.
The only part of the whole plan that the young neighbour had objected to was the fact that she had had to shave her head to look he part of an invalid. Her parent had argued against it, her gent had argued against it but thorough it all Hilda had held firm. The young neighbour’s head had been shaved and Hilda seeing an opportunity to look magnanimous and get her name in the papers had signed the young woman up for the World’s Greatest Shave after hearing about it from an Australian friend. She had set up a sponsorship page on the show’s website after the accident and declared that she would donate all money to leukaemia research. The amount of money that had been generated by this had been astronomical and there had been talk of Hilda receiving an OBE. Hilda had ensured that Nell was sent all clipping of this as well as providing links to any website that had this rumour.
The young neighbour had recovered from her injury with remarkable speed. She found to her pleasure that the publicity she had received from her illness had made her even more marketable than before and she was inundated with requests to be the spokesperson for hair product companies. In the end she was became spokesperson for a perming company and her hair ever after was curly.
Nell had realised that Hilda was starting to run the show too well without her and worried that she would find herself even more on the outer, or disposed of entirely, had cut back on her social life and had agreed to Hilda’s idea that the finishing school should move closer to the school proper. She had arranged for the young woman to have another child and no one was more surprised than Hilda when the young woman came to the staffroom to announce her news. Nell had also been busy scouting the country in search of talent and managed to arrange for another young piano genius to join the school. She had quietly arranged a different contract from the usual ensuring that any profits from the young artist while she was at school went to her and her only. Nell had also turned the annual pantomime for the finishing school into a writing competition, which each participant had to pay to enter. The winner had received the pleasure of seeing their pantomime on TV in a special episode and had been flown to Switzerland to be part of the audience. Due to the thousands of entries each year Nell had made a tidy sum.
Hilda had quickly realised that Nell was back in the picture, especially when any hope of honours disappeared for her when some influential columnists reminded the public in their columns about Hilda’s trial and strange acquittal. Hilda had been furious but had resolved to pay Nell back when she was least expecting it.
A new friend had been introduced for the young woman. Again it had been someone from the school at the other side of the lake but the two had quickly become fast friends. The young woman had even sent her youngest son off to be with her friend’s tutor for her boys during term time. The young boy, who knew about his family, had been extremely disappointed when he was not allowed to go to school with his brothers. Both his father and brothers had filled his head with stories about the outside world and much of his resulting behaviour had been his method of rebellion. The young woman had insisted that he was too young to be sent away so the doctor had come to see Hilda and this compromise had been reached.
The young woman had given birth to another girl. Before the birth of the baby a worldwide name the baby competition had commenced. As people could only enter the competition after purchasing merchandise sales had skyrocketed. The name that had eventually been chosen by Hilda and Nell had been a throwback to one of the favourite early characters. When the doctor had suggested the name to his wife she had agreed quickly as she missed her little sister. Nell had also asked the young piano genius to write a short song to commemorate the arrival of the baby. The viewers had loved this idea and for a number of years it became popular for the rich to commission famous artists to write songs for the arrival of their children.
There had been short protests with the introduction of two new girls to the school, whose backgrounds were not that of the usual girl, as certain portions of the public had not liked the, what they called, stereotypical images that were presented. But, on the whole school life had continued on as normal. There had been a new mistress, who was initially a sparring partner for the young neighbour and who took the public fancy for a while. Her introduction had been a ploy on Hilda’s part to try and entice some more male viewers to the show. Before her introduction a series of photos had been leaked to the tabloids and men tuned in to watch the young mistress in droves. Advance publicity of a stunt involving her and the young neighbour had been extreme and there had been a campaign asking for the young mistress not to be killed off as there had been many rumors that this was going to happen.
The young woman had been happiest she had been for a long time. Her children were all healthy, her husband was close by and she had such good friends in the area, including all the mistresses at the school. Her only gripe had been that her boys had to be sent off to school, as there was no school for them in the area. It was the young woman herself who had provided the next idea for the school. She had a morning tea to which she had invited a select group of staff and announced that it was going to be twenty-one years since the beginning of the school and that they should do something to celebrate.
Hilda had been taken by surprise. She knew the school had been running for a long time and if you added that time to the time before the school began she had worked on this show for over half her life. It had caused Hilda to examine her life briefly. Her marriages had been very brief, as the men she had married couldn’t compete with the show. They had quickly realised that this had meant more to her than anything else. She had few close friends although there were many people who had tried to get close to her. She had no children of her own but she wasn’t really sure if she regretted that or not as she felt like the young woman was hers anyway. But in the end she had come the conclusion that she liked the wealth and power that she had and wouldn’t trade it for anything else.
Nell and Hilda had put their heads together after that morning tea and by the end of a long meeting they had been rubbing their hands with glee. This storyline had provided so many opportunities for them. They would release DVD’s with the best of episodes. They could also release sets with favourite characters and this would also be the perfect time to ask many of the characters back for a reunion special. Nell was also sent off to Austria to see if they could film some special episodes there.