Kathie Ferrars’ fingers twitched nervously at the curtain whilst she waited for the orchestra to finish the overture. Somebody, she wasn’t quite sure who, hit a wrong note and Kathie felt a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach, crossing her fingers and hoping that it wasn’t an omen. “Only the dress rehearsal,” Nancy Wilmot mouthed from beside her where she was holding on to the other curtain. Kathie managed a weak smile but remained unconvinced. The wrong note had been an omen and everything that could have gone wrong during the rehearsal did go wrong. Kathie had watched with an increasing horror as people who had been word perfect only the day before forgot their lines and their cues, the wrong scenery was brought out at the wrong moments and all manner of props were dropped as the rehearsal descended into farce.
“I tried explaining to her that our dress rehearsals are always chaos,” said Nancy with a sigh to her select coterie later that evening as she cast a glance over to where Kathie sat glumly in the corner making furious notes on her script. “She ought to know; she did co-produce last year after all.”
“She didn’t say a word at Abendessen,” remarked Rosalind Moore. “It’s most unlike her even when something’s worrying her.”
“There must be something we can do to cheer her up tonight since she won’t listen to our reassurances that everything will be fine tomorrow,” put in Sharlie Andrews.
“Yes, but what?” mused Nancy.
Ruth Derwent, who had been curled up in one of the armchairs, stretched out her cramped limbs with a slow smile spreading over her face. “I do believe I have a germ of an idea.”
Kathie had opted for an early night and so the others were able to exact their plan without drawing too much attention to themselves. Sniggering wildly and bundled up in their outdoor things, they made their way along the corridor of the staff quarters to Kathie’s room.
“Who’s starting?” asked Nancy in a low voice.
“Ruth,” came from Rosalind at the back of the group. “She’s got the nicest voice.”
Ruth blushed wildly at the praise but nodded in agreement.
Kathie had struggled to get to sleep as her worries had completely overtaken her. She had tossed and turned until she had fallen out of bed, entangled in her sheets and plumeau, with a resounding thump. In despair she had switched the light back on and was attempting to make some sense of her book when she caught the unmistakable sound of someone sniggering outside her room. She frowned but let it pass her by.
Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Kathie and looked wildly around her room deciding that she must have finally gone mad.
Nur das traute, hochheilige Paar,
Curious, she climbed out from underneath her covers and padded over to the door.
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh'!
Cautiously she pushed open the door to be greeted by her friends, bundled up in their outdoor clothes and singing for all they were worth. She opened her mouth to speak but was silenced as they began on the second verse of the carol she loved so much.
“What are you…” she began as the last notes of the carol died away.
“Trying to cheer you up, you ungrateful wretch!” giggled Nancy. “What do you think?”
Kathie’s face broke into its first real smile that day. “I… I love it!” she exclaimed. “You really shouldn’t have.”
“We thought about serenading you from under your window,” grinned Ruth. “But it’s a bit too cold to be outdoors in this weather. Besides, we didn’t think Matey would appreciate it if we all came down with colds tomorrow. And neither would you since we wouldn’t be able to help with the play.”
Kathie felt the tears pricking at the back of her eyes. “Thank you,” she replied in a voice barely a whisper.
“It’ll be alright on the night,” said Nancy consolingly. “One last quick chorus and we’d better all go to bed,” she paused. “Kathie Ferrars! Where are your slippers and dressing gown?”
Kathie suddenly looked sheepish. “They’re… I… Oh, I didn’t think!”
“Never mind, I daresay it won’t kill you for another five minutes,” remarked Nancy dryly.
They all fell silent as Ruth began the next carol, joined by the others.
Adeste, fideles, laeti triumphantes;
The carol over, they all slipped silently back down the corridor to return their outdoor things before Matron noticed that they were missing and Kathie back into her own room with Nancy’s words “it’ll be alright on the night” ringing in her ears. She fell into bed smiling to herself. It didn’t matter how the play went the following day, what mattered was that she had found friends who cared that much about her.
And it was alright on the night after all.