On arrival at the Chalet School the women were introduce to the Heads, Miss Hilda Annersley and Miss Helena Wilson. They were both very attractive, despite encroaching middle age.
"I wonder why they haven’t married doctors," said Miss King, slightly too audibly.
Miss Annersley and Miss Wilson looked at each other, then at Rosalie, who made yet another note in her little book.
"Can we sit down?" asked Miss Buck indicating the chairs.
"You certainly can," replied Miss Annersley, "Whether you may is another matter."
"Pardon?" said Elizabeth in surprise, "Can we or not?"
"May we sit down," smiled Miss Seymour.
"Of course," replied Miss Wilson, also smiling.
"Now," said Miss Annersley, "I'm sure you are waiting for us to explain how working at the Chalet School will get you a doctor. Oh! Where are my manners? Before I begin, who would like a chocolate éclair?"
Eagerly the seven women reached for a chocolate éclair, watched carefully by Miss Annersley and Miss Wilson the women prepared to bite. Four jets of cream shot across the study. Miss Buck, Miss Smith, Miss King and Miss Ryman watched in horror as one of their jets of cream managed to hit Minette III, who let out a yowl of shock, and leapt upon Miss Adams, who let out her own yowl of shock and spat half eaten éclair all over the floor.
Miss Annersley and Miss Wilson raised their eyebrows in disbelief, as did Miss Nelson and Miss Seymour, both who had managed to dispatch their éclair with elegance and grace.
“Now,” said Miss Annersley, “I’m sure you are all wondering how teaching here will enable you to meet the doctor of your dreams.”
“Too right.” muttered Miss King, again too audibly.
Miss Annersley took no notice of this interruption, although Miss Wilson caught Rosalie’s eye, and yet another note was made in her ever present notebook.
“The school is run in conjunction with the Sanatorium. Many of our students have relatives there, hence their attendance at the Chalet School. Obviously there are very close links, and some intermingling. As a result we have a high staff turn over, as many of them marry the doctors they meet.”
Miss Wilson took over, “We realised that we were losing far too much money due to this high staff turn over, so we decided to put it to our advantage. Along with educating the girls, we now offer a discreet service for the staff. In return for three years work at a low wage, and some carefully selected initiation tests, we will arrange for you to meet and marry a doctor.”
“Three years at low wages?” snapped Miss Adams, “What do you think we are? Desperate?”
“Obviously,” replied Miss Annersley, “Or you wouldn’t be here. If our terms are not acceptable, you have a return ticket to England, I suggest you use it.”
Another note was made in Rosalie’s book.
Once again Miss Wilson took up the narrative, “You have already faced some tests, tonight you will face the first of the important events, the wedding of a beloved member of staff. I am sure you have studied the wedding list and you will have noticed our high doctor/ staff success rate. Now, Rosalie will show you to your rooms and you can wash and change in preparation.”
“Will there be hot water?” asked Miss Buck.
“If you wish, it can be arranged,” said Hilda.
“May I have cold?” asked Miss Nelson, “I find cold baths very reviving, especially after long journeys.”
“And I prefer chill off,” said Miss Seymour.
“That will be fine,” replied Miss Wilson.
In the quiet as the women filed out the only sound that could be heard was the scratch of Rosalie’s pen.
Forewarned that the wedding was to be a test the remaining women took their preparations very seriously. Miss Seymour and Miss Nelson both had pretty summer frocks to wear, as did Miss King and Miss Ryman. Miss Adams and Miss Buck on the other hand were wearing the most garish looking outfits, and both had liberally plastered the faces with make up. A sharp eyed person would have noticed that Miss King was also wearing makeup, but hers, at least, was more subtle. The eyebrows of the Headmistresses raised almost to their hair lines. Rosalie made another note.
As the evening progress Miss Ryman gave into her nerves and drank several glasses of champagne, and followed this up with a couple of gins and tonic. Her eyes lit on Dr. Jack Maynard, as the most attractive man in the room. Unaware he was married to the talkative woman with the bad hair Miss Ryman decided to make a pitch.
“Hello,” she slurred.
“Hello,” replied Jack politely.
“You’re a doctor!” she exclaimed.
“Yes,” replied Jack, “I am.”
“Thought sho. I could tell by your manly expresshion. Whatsh your bedshide manner like?” Miss Ryman swayed alarmingly as she attempted to nudge Jack in the ribs.
Looking desperately round for help Jack saw Rosalie making the inevitable note.
“OY!” slurred Miss Ryman, taking another slug of gin, “I’m talking to you.”
“I’m married,” said Jack hurriedly, whilst thinking “Damn Nell and Hilda, why can’t they vet the candidates properly.”
“Oh. Who too? She can’t be that great, letting a man like you out on his own.”
“I’m not alone, she’s over there,” said Jack pointing at Joey.
“Her?” snorted Miss Ryman, “You’re married to her? Blimey. Good looking bloke like you married to her? When did she last visit a hairdresser?”
“Don’t insult my wife,” said Jack coldly, at the same time thinking, “Actually a new haircut might suit her.”
However Miss Ryman didn’t hear him.
“OY!” she yelled at Joey, “Bun head!”
Joey looked round, surely that woman wasn’t talking to her? And was she drunk? As Joey stared Miss Ryman turned a delicate shade of green, and lurched from the room. Rosalie whipped out her notebook and followed.