Jacynta headed off with her form towards St Cecilie, which was a tiny village about six miles away from the Platz. They took sandwiches with them and were not expected back at school until seventeen o’clock. They had three mistresses accompanying them. Miss Ferrars and Miss Wilmot she both knew but she was not sure about Miss Moore although she had heard from the others that she could be very sarcastic when she wanted. As it was a Sunday they were allowed to speak any language they wanted.
Until they were off they Platz itself they had to walk in pair and keep their voices down but after that they were allowed to break off into groups. Jacynta started to walk off by herself to so she could try and explore a bit but was quickly called back by the others. Walking with Len, Jo Scott Rosamund Lilley and Ricki Fry she listened to their chatter about hockey and spent time with Ricki admiring the Lake Thun and the mountains around them. Then both Ricki and Len went off after Odette who had gone off by herself and looked close to falling off a precipice and who then had to endure a telling off from them mistresses for going to close. Odette joined their group as well after this and then they continued up the mountain towards St Cecilie.
The incident with Odette jogged something in Jacynta’s brain and she was quiet for a few minutes. The others too busy with trying to get Odette to cheer up failed to notice and were surprised when she suddenly gasped and stopped in the middle of the small plank bridge they were crossing.
“Are you OK Jack? You haven’t hurt yourself or anything have you?” asked Len pulling her the rest of the way across the bridge.
Jacynta was in a quandary. She had just remembered that this was the ramble when they got caught in the horrific storm and had to cross the flooded stream. She knew that everyone got back to school safely but she wondered if she could prevent the event happening at all. “No I’m not hurt. I just think we should head back to school now,” she said.
“Are you too tired to go on? We’ll stop and have a rest soon,” Rosamund said kindly.
Miss Ferrars came up to the group at this point and asked Len and Con to run ahead and get milk for them all. Then she noticed that Jacynta looked worried.
“What’s up Jack? It’s too nice a day to look so serious.”
Jacynta decided that she had to try. “It’s a nice day now but I think there’s going to be a big storm.”
Betty Landon who was nearby said “A storm! With that sun and sky! You’re crackers.”
Miss Ferrars turned her face skyward. “What makes you think there’s going to be a storm Jack?”
“Because there was one in the books,” said Jaycnta without thinking. As usual though no one picked up on this.
“Well I’m not sure why you seem so sure,” said Miss Ferrars. “But I’ll keep my eyes open. Sometimes there can be a storm after a day like this but there are no signs at the moment. Now girls why don’t you all run ahead together now and get the milk for us.”
Jacynta considered running off in the opposite direction but figured that she would just end up in a lot of trouble so went with the others to collect the milk. Secretly she was a little excited. She had always wished she could experience a Chalet style adventure and had even talked them over with her mum on occasion. Her mum had laughed at her and told her that she probably wouldn’t find it much fun if she actually had to go through one but had said that she had also longed to have one too. Now it looked like it was going to happen.
They collected the milk and made their way to a meadow where everyone else was sitting on fallen logs or doubled-up raincoats on the ground. Everyone pulled out their food and coffee and they sat down to a merry picnic. Jacynta couldn’t help herself and kept looking up at they sky but the others just laughed at her.
But suddenly Miss Ferrars jumped up. “Jack was right. There’s a storm on the way. Get packed up quickly girls so we can get on our way. It’s a long way home.”
At her words everyone looked up and although the sun was still shining there was queer shine too it and there was a strange stillness in the air. Rubbish and left over food s were pushed back into their knapsacks and they pulled on their raincoats and berets. Then in lines they made a run for it. But before long some of the girls started to lag behind. She saw the mistresses giving each other worried glances and then as they turned a corner the all the girls gasped in horror. Thunder could be heard and in the open space in front of them they could see a huge mass of clouds heading towards them. There was no way they were going to make it.
The mistresses conferred quickly and told the girls to keep going as Miss Moore said there was a barn up ahead. Some of the girls looked terrified. Lighting began to flash.
“Run,” yelled the mistresses as they tried to help the girls who were falling behind. But some girls were beginning to stumble Miss Ferrars and Miss Moore went ahead with the girls still able to run while Miss Wilmot stayed behind to help the ones who couldn’t run any more. Jacynta was just about at the end of her tether. She had a huge stitch in her side and felt like just dropping to the ground. The thunder grew louder and louder and bolt of lightning hit the ground between them and the barn. This gave Jacynta the energy she needed and she finally found her way into the barn safely. No sooner had they closed the door than the rain started.
There was no light in the barn and some of the more nervous girls screamed at of the particularly loud thunderclaps. Eventually the thunder began to pass but Miss Moore discovered that the rain was still coming down in torrents when she opened the door a couple of inches. Jacynta felt much better by the time they had had a quick singsong and some coffee and felt pleased by her little adventure. It hadn't been as bad as she thought and had certainly been very exciting.
Len discovered that the sky seemed to be coming clearer and then as the rain was easing and no one wished to spend the night in the barn they all headed out again with their raincoats fully buttoned up. They had not gone far however when they came to the small plank bridge they had crossed earlier. The stream below had burst its banks and become a raging torrent in the centre.
Miss Wilmot quickly pulled off her shoes and stockings and made her way into the centre of the bridge holding firmly onto the handrail. She declared they could make it across and in pairs, one larger girl and one smaller girl they began to make their way across. Joan Baker like Miss Wilmot made multiple journeys. Jacynta began to make her way across and the force of the water surprised her. She had never felt anything like it before. She struggle against the force of the water and then felt her Miss Wilmot stumble and her grip on the mistress’ arm slipped and with a short scream she disappeared under the water.
Jacynta struggled against the current and her head broke the water briefly but then disappeared under again. Her clothes became snagged on something and she struggle to free herself. Suddenly she felt something tear and she was swept away downstream. There was a lot of debris in the water and Jacynta winced in pain as they cut into her. She managed to get to the surface again and took deep breaths. Blindly she flung her arms out and felt her arm hit something solid. She grasped it and held on tightly. Opening her eyes she found she had grasped a low hanging branch on a tree that was now in the middle of the stream. She coughed and then screamed as loudly as she could.
The coldness of the water began to creep into her bones and she felt herself tiring. Her clothes seemed to weigh a tonne. After what seemed to be forever she saw Miss Moore, Len and Jo Scott. She screamed again. Miss Moore spotted her and they raced towards her. They came into the water and lifted her onto the bank. She lay there not able to move. “Len run back and tell the others we have her. Then head on to the school and tell them to ring the San. I’ll stay her with Jack. I don’t want to move her just in case she has injured something and she looks like she is in no state to go anywhere by herself.” said the mistress.
Jacynta couldn’t move and lay there with her eyes closed. She could feel the rain falling on her face.
“Jack, Jacynta can you her me,” she heard Miss Moore’s voice. But it seemed to be coming from a long way away. “Come on Jacynta open your eyes.”
With an effort Jacynta managed to open her eyes and found herself looking up in to the mistress’ worried face.
“Can you talk? Don’t try and move. Are you hurting anywhere?”
Jacynta tried to say something but her voice wouldn’t come. She shut her eyes again. She was so tired.
“Stay with me Jack. Come on, don't go to sleep.”
She opened her eye again. The mistress was on the ground next to her opening a first aid kit and put some bandages on her legs. She pulled off her own coat and was laid it over Jacynta. “You’re going to be alright Jack. Len and Jo have gone to get help. Someone will be looking for us. They know where we went today and will have sent someone for us.”
“Ok,” she managed to croak. “Do you think this will end up in the books?”
Miss Moore held her hand until they finally heard people moving towards them. It was still raining heavily and Jacynta could see that the mistress had started to shiver.
“We’re over here,” she heard Miss Moore call.
Jacynta saw two men come towards her carrying a stretcher. One of the men put a blanket around Miss Moore while the other knelt down beside her and ran his hands over her.
“How did you get here so quickly Jack?” asked Miss Moore
“When you didn’t turn up at the Chalet Hilda figured you had been caught in the storm and when the rain had let up a bit asked it we could come and pick you up. We met Len and Jo as we were driving up and they told us what happened.”
Jack continued his examination of Jacynta and she winced at various times. “I don’t think she’s broken anything but we will have to take her to the San to be sure. She ‘s got some nasty cuts that will need some stitches will be bruised and sore. I’ll give her something now and then we’ll put her on the stretcher and take her with us. You’re coming too. You’ve been sitting here in wet clothes for a long time.”
Jack Maynard opened the bag he had with him and quickly put something in a syringe. “Ok Jack this will only hurt a little bit,” he said as he gave her a shot in the arm. He then wrapped her up in blanket and with the help of the other man placed her gently on the stretcher. The next thing Jacynta knew she was waking up in a white room and Joey Maynard was sitting beside her.
“How are you feeling?” was the first words Jacynta heard. She tried to sit up but groaned at the stiffness in her body.
“Try to keep still. You haven’t broken anything but you must have bumped into things while you were underwater as you are quite bruised and have a few cuts on your legs,” said Joey.
“How long was I asleep and is everyone else OK?” asked Jacynta.
“You’ve been asleep since we bought you here yesterday evening. Everyone else is safe and sound and it doesn't even look like anyone will get a cold, you included.”
Jacynta didn’t say anything for a minute. “Well at least I can now say I’ve had a Chalet School adventure. But I really wish I could go home.”
“An adventure you’ve certainly had. Just like in the books.”
“What!” Jacynta was shocked. How could Joey Maynard know about the books?
“The series of books written by Elinor M Brent Dyer that you have been reading since you were a little girl and of which Joey is the main character.”
“You know that you are a character?” Jacynta gasped.
“Well strictly speaking I am not really Joey Maynard but rather a representation of her.”
“Well who are you then? And are you responsible for what has happened to me?”
“Tell me Jacynta. Once you read the books did you always wish you could go to the Chalet School?” said the Joey character.
“Well yes,” said Jacynta. “School life sounded so much fun. No one seemed to really fight and unlike my old school there was no real bitchiness. I liked the idea of learning in three languages. And the adventures. No school has that many adventures and alarms. But it sounded like fun. And,” she said blushing. “I wanted to meet you and Miss Annersley and all the other characters.”
“So what do you think now?”
Jacynta thought for a moment. “It was really scary. No one really listened to me unless I talked about the topics in the books. Life was also a lot harder. I didn’t really get how easy I had it at home.”
“You said you wanted to meet the characters,” said the Joey character. “What did you think of them?”
“They were exactly like in the books. You changing my name and having the new girl party. Len was so helpful and responsible. The Abbesses’’ voice, Miss Wilmot and the maths. And Mary-Lou always there but she seemed so bossy.”
“So I did well then. They were all as you thought they would be.”
Jacynta nodded in agreement. “Except the one time when Mary-Lou told me off for swearing. She seemed different then.”
“Well that was really me. Actually everyone was really me and I just thought you needed a reminder of what a good Chalet girl should be. Now are you ready to go home?
Jacynta felt dazed. Home, back to hot baths and showers, her Ipod, TV, movies and comfortable clothes. No more watching her words. She found herself nodding her head. “I’m ready. But I think I will miss it thought and I wish I cold have gone to the school when it was in Tyrol.”
Jacynta found the room around her beginning to swirl.
“You really should be careful what you wish for,” she heard Joey say.
“Wait you haven’t told me who you are,” she said.
The next minute Jacynta found herself being greeted by a young woman holding a card with her name on it. “Hello you must be Jacynta. I’m Kim Hamilton, one of the assistant secretaries at the Chalet School.”
Jacynta looked round her She was in an airport. Had it all been a dream then?
“It’s a pity you couldn’t come at the start of term like everyone else. But you’re here now and apart from a few cuts and scraps you look like you’ve recovered well from your accident. Your fairy godmother must have been looking out for you that day.”
“Hi I’m happy to be here, but please call me Jack.”