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Author's Chapter Notes:

The Germans visit the Chalet School.  Over at Cafe Rene, Robin's education is being advanced, though not in ways her guardians would approve of.


 

The following day

 

‘Listen very carefully, I will say this only once.’

Madge jumped and looked up quickly to see her sister grinning at her.  ‘Joey, stop imitating Michelle!  You gave me a real fright.’

‘She is pretty menacing, isn’t she?’ Joey agreed, helping herself to a piece of cake.  ‘Still, you have to admit that she got the school’s cover story sorted with the locals in no time.’

‘We can only hope the Middles remember to speak French all the time,’ Madge said, turning back to her paperwork.  ‘Now run along Joey and aggravate the triplets.  They should be awake by now and I’m busy.’

Madge went back to rewriting the records of the girls to give them fake French backgrounds.  Although it had been Michelle’s idea that the school should be French, it was Madge herself who had worked out all the details.  She and Michelle made a formidable partnership, Madge thought complacently, starting on the last record.  Jem was about as much use as a wet lettuce.  He had gone completely to pieces and was scarcely even fit to look after his patients.  Madge was thinking of finding him a job doing the garden, though there was a fair chance he’d mess that up in his present state.

‘Listen very carefully, I will say this only once.’

‘Joey, for Pete’s sake stop messing about and go and see to the trips,’ Madge said impatiently.

Comment?’

Madge looked up to see Michelle staring at her.

‘Where has Joey gone?’  Michelle asked. ‘She cannot go on any trips.  It is too dangerous.  And you should be speaking French.’

‘Sorry, Michelle.  I wasn’t paying attention.’

‘Listen very carefully, I will say this only once.’

‘Yes, you’ve told me that already.  What is it?’

‘The Germans are going to make a visit to the school this afternoon.  They want to see the girls and check the register to see you are not harbouring any Jews.’

‘Well we don’t have any Jewish girls.  They usually go to their own schools.  But some of the girls don’t look very French, especially the blonde girls with fair skin.’

Michelle thought for a moment.  ‘Do a folk-dancing lesson.  You could dress the girls as peasants with shawls over their hair.  And if the Germans comment on some of them being fair, tell them they are from the Loire Valley and are throwbacks to the Danish invasion of 1852.’

‘I didn’t know the Danes had invaded France,’ Madge said.

‘They didn’t.  At least not as far as I know.  But the Germans won’t know that either.’

Madge smiled.  Here was a woman after her own heart.  The years of being subservient to Jem faded away in an instant and she visualised a glorious future as the saviour of her school and a valuable contributor to the resistance movement, alongside her new friend.  She wondered if she would be able to get a raincoat like Michelle’s.

 

When the Germans arrived, Madge made a creditable attempt at looking surprised and flustered.  The girls were all in the Hall, making a truly terrible din folk-dancing.  Captain Geering looked in and returned shuddering.

‘They are doing some peasant dance vith shawls round their heads,’ he reported.  ‘Ve do not vant to go in there.  The noise is terrible.’

‘Show me the school register,’  Herr Flick demanded.  ‘I vish to see who is in the school.’

Madge handed over the register and the girls’ records.  Robin had been omitted from the register and sent off to Café René in case she was recognised.  She had been told to say there until the coast was clear.

‘I hope she’ll be all right,’ Joey had said to Madge earlier.  ‘There sound to be some strange goings-on down there.  She asked me what the maids would need a flying helmet and wet celery for when they go into rooms with the Germans.’

‘I hope you didn’t tell her!’  Madge said.

‘I didn’t know!’  Joe protested indignantly.  ‘It’s not the sort of thing Chalet School girls know about.’

Madge smirked.  ‘Good thing I was never a Chalet School girl.  Jem loves the flying helmet and the wet celery.  He may be no use in a crisis but he’s hot stuff in the bedroom….’

 

Over at Café René, Robin was peeping through the keyhole of the broom cupboard where René and Maria were going at it like rabbits.  Robin carefully memorised some of Maria’s phrases for later use.  She could hear Madame Edith’s heavy tread approaching and she rattled at the broom cupboard door urgently.

‘Quick, Madame Edith is coming,’ she hissed through the keyhole.

Robin thought she heard René saying ‘So am I’ but she realised that she must have been mistaken as he was already in the broom cupboard.  They were never going to get out of the cupboard looking respectable in time so she charged along the passageway and cannoned into Madame Edith.

‘Oh, I am so sorry, Madame,’ Robin said, feigning penitence. ‘I saw a mouse and I was running to find Monsieur René.’

‘He would be no use, child,’ Edith said with contempt.  ‘I do all the difficult jobs around here.  Now where is it?’

‘In the café, Madame,’ Robin said, hustling Madame Edith along the corridor and into the front of the building.

Before they could start hunting for the supposed mouse, the café door opened and a local child came in.

‘A letter for Madame Edith from the school,’ he announced.

‘This will be to say you can go back to school, Maria Cecile,’ Madame Edith said, opening the letter.  Robin hoped not.  It was much more fun here and she had learned a lot in a short time.

René reappeared, now tidy but with a satisfied smile on his face.

‘Oh René,’ Madame Edith said, clutching the letter.  ‘Madame Russell says that Herr Flick has insisted on putting two of his officers into the school as teachers.  But what about the painting?  It is in the cupboard of the Matey.  I do not think it is safe enough there.’

‘No problem, Madame Edith,’  Robin put in.  ‘Matey can get two of the naughty girls to hem the painting between two sheets.  It is just a different version of sides-to-middle.’

‘Suppose no girls are naughty today?’  Madame Edith asked.  ‘Could not the Matey do it?’

Robin shrugged. ‘There are always naughty Middles.  It’s in the job description.  And Matey can’t sew.  That’s why she always gets naughty girls to do her sewing.’

‘Michelle will have to get the message to the school,’ Madame Edith told René.  ‘Madame Russell writes that we must keep little Maria Cecile here in case she is recognised.’

A satisfied smile crossed Robin’s face.  She could stay here!  With René who owed her a favour.  And she knew precisely how she was going to exact payment.

Chapter End Notes:

 

 




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