Kathy, Len and Tamara were rather sorry when the time came for them to talk to Rachel. Tamara especially felt that she had had excuse for her actions, and while she knew that the girl would have to be told about it, she regretted that this was the case. Len and Kathy being rather more experienced and having faced other pupils in this position were less moved.
“No” Kathy said firmly when Tamara mentioned something about it to her, “I know that she did have some excuse, but there was plenty of other things she could have done about it. I know all about the stress factor Tamara, don’t get me wrong on that, but she could have hurt herself badly, and she is a liability on expeditions if she is just going to wander off like that. She is lucky that we cannot send her back to the school, because if we could I would be strongly tempted to do that.
“She has to learn, What if she were to wander off the glacier express while it was at one of the stations? That is going to be very crowded as well you know.”
By the time Rachel arrived, Tamara had got herself under control, and though she couldn’t help but feel sorry for the poor kiddy, she was able to uphold her part in the interview with dignity.
Kathy started it. “Well then Rachel, tell us your reasoning for creating that disturbance earlier on today.”
Upset as Rachel was, she was able to explain herself well. “I’m sorry now of course, I didn’t think about how worried you would be, nor how silly it was of me to go.” She stopped, and the severity on the mistresses’ faces relaxed a little. “Go on” Kathy commented, rather more gently.
“It was the noise level” Rachel burst out. “It was too loud for me and I just couldn’t cope with it. I had to get out of it.” She was talking rather wildly, and the emphasis on the word ‘had’ was exceptionally strong. Here Len created a diversion.
Then Kathy joined in again. “Of course, you do know that I cannot take you on any more expeditions.” Rachel looked up at that. “What?” She asked, stunned. “Well how can I? Not only do you make a nuisance of yourself, but you talk about it as if it is the most natural thing in the world and make it clear that in another, similar situation you would do the same.”
Kathy spoke gently although the words were harsh, not that this made much difference to Rachel who had been on the verge of tears from the start of this interview. Despite all her efforts to stop them they began to fall.
Feeling that it was the best way to avoid drawing attention to them, as she had grown up in the school that you didn’t cry, she just let them fall without doing anything about it. “I’ll just pretend they are not there” she thought to herself. When she spoke however it was with a vehemence which spoke of a turmoil she hadn’t even realized existed within her at that moment.
“OH none of you understand!” This was where Tamara came in. “Oh don’t we now? Can you tell me Rachel, what was I doing while we were in the hut?” Rachel looked at her, and when she spoke again it was rather more quietly. “You were reading Tamara” The question had taken quite a lot of the wind out of her sails.
“Yes, I was reading” the mistress returned just as quietly, ignoring the shocked sounds coming from Kathy and Len at Rachel’s use of her Christian name. “Now, why would I be reading while the other mistresses were dealing with the other girls? I’m sure there was plenty to do!” Rachel looked thoughtful at this. “You mean that you were bothered by the noise levels as well?”
Tamara looked straight at her and spoke gently this time. “Rachel, I was so bothered by it that I couldn’t even loose myself in my job. Normally I can do so, but on this occasion I just couldn’t. I turned to a book as being the only way for me to cope with it.” She laughed after this admission, involving as it did the opening up of things she hadn’t said to anyone before, and continued, “Indeed, I must have been badly affected, because I didn’t even think that you might have a problem with it. And it was something I knew to watch for.”
The other mistresses were looking at her sharply after this frank revelation. They had received another insight into Tamara which they knew they would not have got but for them all being present at this disciplinary meeting, and Len decided yet again that she needed to have it out with Tamara the next time she got the chance.
That being the case, they talked to Rachel a bit further, and told her that her punishment would be to always have a mistress with her, indoors or not, apart from bedtime, and that when they got back to school Miss Darleigh would be taking time out of her free time to go over some coping strategies.
Tamara had already decided to get Rachel to copy them out as an aid to her memory, as some of them would be repeats of one’s she had given to her in other scenarios. When she had gone the other two mistresses turned to look at Tamara.
“Now Tamara” Kathy said with a warning note in her voice, “Tell us why you kept the reason for your reading at times like that to yourself? Your needs are just as important as those of the pupils in that kind of scenario!”
Tamara gulped, and seeing no way out, for Len looked ready to hold her down by force if she tried to escape from the room, she thought desperately for some words which would distract them.
As she knew there was nothing else she could do about it, Tamara faced her questioners. Inwardly she was telling herself off for letting so much out, but she knew that there had been no other option. Len decided to try and take some of the strain out of the atmosphere to see if that would make things easier for Tamara.
“Tamara, you know that we are not telling you off, though it might seem like it. We are concerned that you don’t seem to have trusted us. We care about you, and we feel that there is something we could have done which we didn’t because we didn’t know about it.”
Tamara looked at them. It wasn’t that she didn’t trust them; it was just that there were things she just got on with. It hadn’t occurred to her that she should tell them about this difficulty. She laughed, her mind going back to her time at the Uni. They had come across this problem there.
June had found out about one or two things which horrified her in the way others reacted to Tamara, and it wasn’t even Tamara herself who had told her about them. Tamara looked at it as part of life and hadn’t thought about mentioning it.
Len was immediately on to her. “What’s the story now then Tamara?” she asked her, feeling sure that it was something she had been reminded about that had caused this.
“I’m sorry Len” she responded. “I was just thinking about how many times I have ended up in this kind of situation with June.” Kathy looked at her. “You have been told about this in the past Tamara?”
With a sigh Tamara gave her the outline of her thoughts, before going on to say, “The thing is that I count less than pleasant things as part of a day’s work. Anything directed at me personally hurts, but it just wouldn’t occur to me to tell anyone about it.
“I think about the situation of course, more so if a person has been partly responsible for it, but if they have, my thoughts will be along the lines to help me cope with the situation, giving vindication to the person in general, though not in particular. And that is hardly going to lead to my purposefully telling someone!
“It sometimes comes out in conversation, though not normally in the way it did today. So please don’t tell me you think I don’t trust you, of course I trust you. When things get bad enough that they are not counted as part of the day’s work then I will come and tell you – though generally I find that it is only the knowledge of what you will say if I have not sought the support I’ve needed that brings me to it!
“The problem with today in particular is that this is a coping strategy I developed years ago to deal with noisy situations I couldn’t escape. I always do that first – implement any coping strategies I have, and then look at other ways of alleviating things if that hasn’t helped any. I’d not think to say anything on that level to anyone about it – it’s never been part of my makeup. ” She grinned at them... “I’m just too independent to go asking people to make things easier for me.”
She laughed again, but this time there was rather more of stress or strain in the laughter, and Kathy thanked her and left the room. There was no point in making the girl feel that it was being strung out, and though she would have liked to have done something to make sure that Tamara did not feel that her presence meant judgement. That would come in time, she decided, at the moment she was too stressed for anything to be done about it. That being the case she left the young mistress in Len’s capable hands.
Author's Chapter Notes:
Thank you once again all... Seems the time for a telling off has arrived... Oooops!!!