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Story Notes:

This story is submitted with thanks to both Elder in Ontario and MaryR, who have looked at it at least once each over the course of time, giving a glance to things like my grammar and making suggestions about how it might be easier for the reader to understand...  

These suggestions have lead to many changes, and it now bears little comparison to the story it was when it was originally written.  Having said that much, as it has changed so much since either looked at it, any and all mistakes are down to changes I have made since last asking for advice.  Whether it has changed from any chance of being recognised is another question altogether!!! ;)  (also hope that I've not embarrassed either of you too much by saying so!)

It is set around and about 'Shocks' and was first written circa 2006-2007 or so.  At present it stands as a three part story, although that may change as it is posted.

Despite how long ago I started writing it, it has never been posted on the CBB.

 

 

It was the day after the deadline for submissions for the next issue of the Chaletian.  In her study, Magazine Prefect Lesley Pitt was looking through some of the pieces she had received when she came across a story entitled 'A Childish Romance.'   She had been in the prefects’ room with Loveday, Bride, and Nancy, but they were having a gossip about the latest doings of the Maynard clan, and she needed to concentrate, so she had vacated the room in favour of her own small sanctuary.  She needed to get the selections for this term’s magazine sorted soon, so that she could send it off to the printers, otherwise they’d never get it back on time for the girls to purchase before the end of term.

With this thought in mind, she returned to the article she was currently looking at.  She read it through carefully, wondering how on earth she was going to manage to sort this out.  She had enjoyed the tale itself, as far as she had read it, and wanted to include it in the magazine, but she simply couldn’t believe that the author had given it the title it had been submitted with. This meant that the person responsible for submitting it was not the person who had written it, and that they hadn’t done it out of the goodness of their hearts either.  This was a cruel joke.

Lesley wanted to include the story, for it was good enough, better than many of the other submissions, but she couldn’t do so without talking with the author, finding out what the real title was, and seeing if she could deal with the person who had abstracted it in the first place.

It was a slender enough tale, some bits of it were possibly rather unlikely, but for what it was it was very good.  Intently she re-read it, certain that there should be a clue as to the author in the text.

The lone maiden watched the mists swirling round.  She was standing at a cave, and the sea was not all that far away.  There was a faint hint of mystery her surroundings, which added to her nerves, and the fact that dawn had not yet arrived did not help with this.

“She sat down upon a rock lying close by, and huddled into her cloak, trying to retain as much warmth as possible.  She could not help but shiver in the cool clammy atmosphere.  This was always the worst of it, the hour waiting to see what would happen.  Would her father’s boat make it home safely, or would the waves bat him against the rock?  Would today be the day that she had to return home, bearing bad news to her family?

“They were but a poor fishing family, and if it were not for the work which her father and brothers did, the family might not survive.  Her mother had died some years before, and now Clara took watch over her younger siblings, especially the youngest, Shannon, who her father seemed to despise.  Clara knew it was not her fault that Mother had died, but Father could not seem to forgive her… Or himself.

“Soon, she noticed the boat in the water. It was moving towards them, but there was something wrong.  There was that in the movements which did not talk of her Father’s usual steady strokes as they gained entry into the bay.

“Clara ran over the wet rocks, straining to see in the half light.  There was something wrong. What could it be?

“As she got closer to the boat, and it drew near to the land, she realised that the usual bulky form of her father did not seem to be there.  Taking no thought for her clothing she slipped into the water, and waded out to help pull the boat in.  Half walking, half swimming, she grabbed hold of the prow of the small fishing boat, and began swimming back the way she had come – an exercise she had often practiced with her father as she grew up.  Not that her presence did much for the boat, but it inspired confidence in her younger brothers and gave them the courage and energy to pull together well.”

Here, Lesley chuckled to herself, wondering just how someone would guide a boat in by swimming. She was knowledgeable about boats of all kinds, having a passion for them, and being one of the stars of the rowing and canoe teams at the school. She had been very pleased to take charge of the new rowing boat when they had been given them the previous year, and hoped to do well in the various water sports which involved boats in the regatta they expected to hold in the summer term.  She especially fancied the canoe event, where individuals would compete for themselves as individuals, but the house rowing race was also high on her list of events she would enjoy participating in.  Again she sighed, as she realised she had allowed herself to become distracted, and returned to the text.

“She got them to the landing bay, and then turned to her Father, who was lying along the bottom of the boat.  He was cold to the touch, and she shivered again, wondering what was to happen to their family.

“However, it was clear that her first duty now was to the boys, and she turned to them, pulling them close to her, gulping a few times to avoid breaking down.  She finally paused in her frantic search of something she could say to her brothers.  “It’s alright Davy, it had to happen some point – he’s worked himself too hard.  Come up to the cottage and get yourself warmed up – we can’t do anything for him now.”

“The boys – Davy and Jamie – joined her in walking up the hill, and wondered what on earth they would do.  Little did they know that Clara shared in their despair.  She had seen signs that Hugh might think rather more of her than other lassies about the place, and had wondered and hoped.  Now she must put all thought of that kind of thing away – no man in his right mind would take on a wife and four children with her.

“The girls were young yet – Shannon, the youngest, being but four years old, and Collette, named for her great grandmother, was nine, with Clara herself being nineteen. She would have married years before, had it not been for her mother’s death, and the boys also being teenagers, there was a fair few years between them all, and the youngest would be on her hands for some time to come.

“Davy at sixteen was almost a man, however, and would be able to shoulder some of the responsibility.  That was once he managed to get over the shock of having their father keel over in front of him, and having to bring thirteen year old Jamie home again.

“All she felt on that first trip up to the cottage, however, was desolation.  How on earth was she to explain to the girls that their beloved papa wouldn’t come home to them again?  Particularly Shannon, who tried her hardest each evening to win his affection, never realising that it was nothing she could help that had made him this harsh man towards her.  She would cling to Clara more than ever now.

“Suddenly, Hugh was before her.  “What’s up Clara?”  She realised that the boys had disappeared off into the distance ahead of her; she had stopped moving, and was just gazing into the distance.  “It’s Father, he died last night, in the boat”.

“Hugh’s arms came round her.  “You’re soaked child” he scolded her, pulling back as he realised how wet she was.   “You need to go up to the cottage, and put on some dry clothing.  Then you need to pull yourself together, and be there for those kids.”

“She looked at him, passively, so that he almost shook her in his concern about her.  “Come on girl.  You have all of us behind you, but you are the one they rely upon.”

“He was rewarded in this by seeing a spark of the girl he knew coming out.  “Alright, I won’t be silly, Can you…?”  She paused for a moment, and then took a deep breath.  “Would you please see to the boat for me?  I don’t quite know what the best thing to do is.”

“Hugh nodded his head.  “Yes, of course, Clara, love.  You go see to those children, and I shall look after the boat for you.”  He would have loved to go with her to the children, but he knew that those youngsters would be far better without a near-stranger in the house with them.  So, he would go do the next best thing, by fulfilling Clara’s wishes.

“Half way down to the beach he realised what he had said to her.  Hopefully, she would pass over what he had said. She really didn’t need his thoughts and feelings to worry about amongst everything else she had to deal with right now.  It apparently didn’t occur to him that she might actually draw comfort from having someone she could rely on, and turn to.”

It was here the critic paused again, concern and indecision rising up within her; as she had already confirmed to herself, this was more than good enough for the magazine, but how on earth was she to work out who had written it, and what could she do about the length of the article? As a general rule, pieces included in the magazine were rather shorter than this one.

After thinking a little longer, she went to the staff room to look for Miss Derwent, a mistress who was new this term, who despite being fairly young was both friendly and approachable.  As well as having agreed to take on the duties of magazine mistress, and therefore being the natural person for Lesley to take a problem like this to, she taught English. Surely there was a chance that she would recognise the writing and be able to point out the author, despite not having been at the school for much more than half a term.  Lesley also felt easier about asking her, rather than one of the other English mistresses, as they had worked together on more than one occasion to organise ‘prayers’ for the Catholic section of the school already this term, and they had a good working relationship.  For all that she was new to the school; Miss Derwent was a very enthusiastic and involved member of staff.

As it happened, she found her at her desk in the staff room as soon as she entered.  “Hello Lesley, how may I help you?”  Miss Derwent asked as she entered the room.

“I’m afraid I’ve got a bit of detective work, and I was wondering if you would care to give me your insight,” the prefect answered.  Miss Derwent acceded, and asked her to continue.  “I’ve been given this piece for the Chaletian. It’s very good, but it’s anonymous, and I believe from the title, that its actual submission was some Middles lark, and not a pleasant one, either.”

“Let me see.” The mistress said with a sigh, not quite realising what was to come.

As she read, her facial expression changed from one of irritation, into wonder.  One of the girls had written this?  Suddenly, a word formation jumped out at her!  There was only one girl who would use these words in that particular sense!

“I think we have your girl,” she said, turning to the prefect.  She didn’t point out her reasoning, but made an appointment for them both to go and interview young Catriona soon.

 

 




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