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Margot froze, as an all too familiar voice rang out.

"It always makes me hungry, going for a walk in these hills. Not that it should, the hikes we do here are nothing compared to the treks we used to do at school"

Her companion groaned "Not your Swiss stories again ! If I've heard you tell me to bend my knees as I walk once I have heard it a hundred times !"

He waved to the waitress at the back of the cafe and settled himself down at a table near the counter.

"Let me get through at least one visit without a mention of you lifting up to your eyes to the hills, and I consider myself a lucky man. Now chose your food wisely my girl. We have a way to go before we reach the my cousin's farm"

The woman he addressed was obviously well used to his cheek, and merely aimed a swat at the top of his head as she sat down, mercifully with her back to the rest of the room.

Margot had gone completely white.

"Of ALL the people !" she whispered in despair. "Is there any way we can leave without being seen?"

----------------

Reg and Margot sat frozen in their chairs.

"It was too soon, we should never have risked it" she agonised. "I'm not even supposed to know where you've gone, let alone be alone with you, carrying a suitcase. What are we going to do?"

"I don't know. I'm so sorry, I've never seen anyone I knew here. Of all the days for a Chalet girl to appear, especially one with such close ties to your family. Perhaps if I make some sort of distraction, you could sneak out of the cafe without them noticing..."

All too late, the decision was taken out of their hands. Shifting in her chair, the woman caught sight of the red gold head over in the corner.

"Margot ! I didn't know you would be in this part of the country! And who is your friend?"

She exclaimed, then her mouth fell open in surprise. " Reg? Is that you? How, I mean, when..." she came to a stop and simply stared from one to the other.

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" Well, Mary-Lou" said the man she had arrived with, clearly seeing that for once the indomitable Mary Lou was speechless. "I think our secret is out ... and we are not the only ones. Hello Margot, haven't seen you for ages"

Margot stared at him, then comprehension dawned.

"Tony !" she said. "I'm so sorry, I was so shocked to see Mary-Lou that I didn't even realise it was you..."

She let the sentence drift to a stop, realising too late that she had unintentionally admitted that they had been trying to hide their meeting.

"Not a problem" Tony replied with his cheeky grin "with a sister like Clem and a girlfriend like Mary - Lou, I'm used to being ignored !"

Mary Lou turned back to him with a look of panic. He quickly continued

" Now don't look at me like that M-L. I would wager that these two are not about to go passing back gossip about us, so there isn't much point pretending this is a meeting of old family friends now, is it. Not least because these two look guiltier than middles caught playing Red Indians in full war paint! "

-----------------------------------

As the other three continued to remain rooted to the spot, he took charge, with a breezy

"Right then, Entwhistle, the grub at the local pub is more my line than this, how about we retire there and leave these lovely ladies to have a bit of a chat?"

Reg glanced at Margot, who briefly nodded, then allowed himself to be steered out of the cafe by the forceful young man several years his junior.

Mary-Lou and Margot were left staring at each other.

"Well..."

"So how long?..."

They both began at once, then stopped, saw the funny side and started to laugh. Margot, as befitted the one with the bigger secret to hide, recovered first.

"You won't tell, will you Mary -Lou? It honestly isn't as bad as it looks. I'm booked into the local hotel, and ..." but her courage deserted her as Mary-Lou looked doubtful.

---------------------------------------------

"It really does depend Margot, I see you as one of my younger sisters, I can't let you do something that would cause you or Aunt Joey any hurt."

Margot gave a twisted smile again at the words.

"You don't mention Len, I would have thought that she would be the one to worry about "

Mary-Lou considered.

"No, not if this is why Reg suddenly changed his mind. I think Len had a narrow escape. It never felt real to me somehow. Almost as if she felt she ought to love him. They both seemed almost business-like about the whole thing."

"He didnt mean to hurt her Mary-Lou!" Margot leapt in at this point.

"He did, well does, care for Len, and he thought that I was going to be a nun, so he thought it was the closest he could get"

She stopped, as if realising how selfish that could sound.

Mary-Lou nodded. "He was being unfair though Margot, which I think you realise."

Margot nodded. Mary Lou looked at her, then continued in a friendlier tone.

"This does explain a few things however" she grinned at the younger girl. "I don't think anyone except you was really surprised when you announced you were going to be a doctor rather than a nun as well. You have far too active a devil my girl!"

Margot smiled at the reference to her childhood excuse.

The girls settled in to talk more, and some hard truths were spoken. But somehow, although she couldn't pinpoint quite why, Margot felt a weight had lifted. Just hearing that maybe, just maybe she had done Len a favour gave her a sense of hope. Perhaps things were going to be alright. What had seemed such a disaster when Mary Lou appeared now seemed the best thing to have happened.

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Some letters

Dearest Reg,

I am safely back at university, and taking your advice to bury myself in my studies.

It feels as though the weekend went so quickly, we barely got to talk at all. I obviously couldn't give you all the 'hanes' while we were spending so much time with Tony and Mary Lou, so I will bore you with them now.

It turns out that Mary Lou and Tony have been together for a while now. But they had both been unsure how everyone would take it. After all, they have almost grown up together, they didnt know if people would think them too close for it to be appropriate to be close in that way - to be together. There is something backwards about that sentence, but you know what I mean !

But, just like us, they realised they were both interested in being closer, and decided that it was worth finding out if there was something more. They had been trying to keep it very quiet however, so you can see that she was almost as distressed to meet us there as we were to meet her!

I told you after that long discussion in the tea shop that she won't give us away. Well it isn't quite as simple as that, I just wasn't sure how to explain it at the time. Oh I don't mean that she will go rushing off to tell everyone, before you begin to worry.

What she said was that she would keep our secret as long as she felt it wouldn't hurt anyone, mainly Mamma.

Apparently Dad has been like a bear with a sore paw about the whole thing. The sad fact is that at the moment he wouldn't be able to be civil to you. You know from your last meeting with him last year that he feels you disobeyed his orders with respect to Len, and ended up hurting her, and from everything Mary Lou said to me, I don't think that anything has changed yet.

But before you fall into one of your despairs, there is good news too. Mary Lou thinks that Mamma would probably support us in the long run.

Would you believe it, apparently Mary Lou overheard a discussion in the Rose garden where Mamma was saying she had never felt you and Len were right for each other, and even more amazing, she said that of all the girls she actually thought I would have been a better choice.

I hope you won't take offence, but she thinks you need a strong woman to keep you challenged enough! Not that Len isn't strong of course. But now I think about it, Len would agree with you too much, she has spent so much time watching out for all of us, that I always feels that she wants to keep the peace at all costs. Nobody could acuse me of being meek and mild !

Obviously no-one was seriously considering us as an item, after all at that time I was still planning on entering holy orders.

But how funny that Mamma said that even before we realised ourselves. She seems to know me better than I knew myself, which amazes me sometimes. After all I was away from her for a long time, then at school once I came back from Canada. I know you will laugh at me for going back to calling her Mamma, but somehow, since hearing about that comment, she feels much more like Mamma than Mum to me now.

Anyway, back to Mary Lou. She said that she was worried that if we were found out now, it would cause a split in the family. Mamma would always want me to be happy and able to come home, but he is still so angry with you, he could well refuse to have you anywhere near.

All things we know, sadly, but I just hope he will eventually calm down, and with time we can be honest about how we feel. Since I am away from the Platz now most of the year anyway, we can manage to be patient I hope.

I will stop here, as I have a huge essay on liver function to write (I know, so romantic! )

I will write more when I can, all love as always.

Your Margot.

--------------------

Hello there Tony-boy,

I told you most of my conversation with Margot at the time, but after falling in that bog and having to find a place to change, I realise I stopped in mid chatter.

Apparently it was the accident that Reg was in last year that brought it all to the boil. Len was the one that everybody focused on, but it suddenly brought home to Margot how much he meant to her. I think the plan to be a missionary was a way of escaping the situation, which is why it never quite sat well with any of us.

She said that Reg believed that he loved Len enough, that he thought he cared enough to marry her if he couldnt have his first choice! I know, I know, I do wonder about the things people do sometimes!

Margot loves her sister, so she wouldn't have ever got in the way. But apparently he had been directing his feelings for Margot towards Len, thinking there was no chance of Margot. He had heard rumours of M aiming towards her supposed vocation a long time before the rest of us knew.

Now where was I ? Oh yes - He thought that there would never be any chance of getting her which is why he was such an ass as to go for Len.

Its a bit like one if those dreadful penny weeklies to be honest. I would have been most tempted to have banged their heads together if I had known about all this at the time.

So he set his sights on Len but he realised his mistake almost as soon as she said yes. As he recovered, he realised that his feelings really were more brotherly than those of someone in love. But he couldnt see a way out of it all.

I'm not sure of the exact details, but it sounds as though he was contemplating making a run for it, then writing to tell Len. I'm sure reading that information will make you just as disgusted as I was to hear it. Although hearing Uncle Jack
talk about him now, I can perhaps understand why he felt he needed to be out of his reach.

However before he had fully decided, the two of them met out walking, and took shelter in an empty herdsmans hut to avoid a storm. Well, while they were there the whole story came out.

(I do wonder if it was the same one we used to sneak off to and get "accidently stuck in a shower"! But I could hardly ask that without incriminating myself, so I held fire, you will be glad to know !)

I have to say Reg does seem a bit of a selfish so and so from all of this, but he is clearly besotted with Margot, so it could well be the best thing for both of them. Two slightly self centred people together, it could be the making of them both. Either that or we shall see fireworks ahead !

I know you will tell me not to get involved, but you know me, I can't sit idly by. I'm not sure how I can help yet, but hopefully inspiration will strike.

Anyway, see you soon as I can get away from this latest dig, hope you have managed to get the smell of bog out of your trousers by now ! If not, I don't want to see you till you do, that was a truely awful stench !

Yours, as ever

M-L



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