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Margot Maynard sat curled up on the window seat, staring miserably out at the dizzying dance of snowflakes falling. 


It was the end of Margot’s first term at Edinburgh University and it has to be confessed that the term had not been a success for her.  She had got in with the wrong crowd and quickly fallen into some bad habits, becoming increasingly lazy over her work until her tutor had given her a severe warning, telling her that she was perilously close to being thrown off her course, if not the University. 


It had shocked Margot into taking a good long look at herself and she had realised that underneath it all, she was not happy at Edinburgh.  She was missing her triplet sisters, Len and Con badly and, after the protective surroundings of the Chalet School, it had come as something of a shock to be out in the real world.  She had thought about writing to her sisters to ask for their help but fear of what her parents would say if they got to hear of it, as they surely would if she confided in her sisters, stopped her. 


In any case, her previous requests to meet up with them had gone unheeded.  In fact, beyond the letters they had written to each other during the first two or three weeks, none of her letters had been answered.  Ruey Richardson, one of the adoptees, was no good either, she lived very much on the surface of things and in any case, she too was enjoying herself far too much to help Margot, who had felt increasingly lonely and isolated. 


She had gradually pulled herself together and thrown herself into her work, avoiding the set she had previously spent so much time with, but her marks were nothing more than average and she had become increasingly unhappy.  The feeling she had always had of ‘two’s company, three’s a crowd’, regarding her tripletship and of being a failure and disappointment to her parents, had only strengthened. 


She survived to the end of term and still had her place on the course but her family were shocked by her appearance when she rejoined them at the start of the holidays.  She had lost far too much weight and was looking pale and thin, with dark circles under her eyes, which were no longer a brilliant blue, but dull and lifeless.  She had avoided all attempts at talking and avoided being with the family as much as possible but only felt more unhappy as she heard Len and Con chatter happily about Oxford.  As she reflected on the past, she felt a hand on her shoulder and turned to see her mother looking down at her.


“Won’t you tell me what’s wrong?” Joey asked, very gently.


The youngest triplet shook her head.  “The others need you,” Margot mumbled.  “Go to them, forget about me.  They deserve you more than I do.”


“Margot, my darling girl, it’s you I want to talk to.  Not Len, not Con, not Stephen or any of them.”  Joey stroked Margot’s red gold hair.  “You’ve avoided me since the day you came home, you look pale, you’re not sleeping well, you’re not eating well and you’re on the verge of tears half the time.  What’s gone wrong with Edinburgh?”


“Please just leave me alone,” Margot said unevenly.  “I’ve been such a failure and disappointment to you and Papa all my life.  Let the others have you, they won’t disappoint you like me, the black sheep of the family!” she ended on a harsh laugh and her mother gave her a sharp look.


“Mary Margaret Maynard, you are not a disappointment to either of us!  We are so very proud of all you’ve achieved and even in your worst moments, we’ve never stopped loving you!” said Joey severely.


Margot burst into tears.  “Help me, Mamma!”  she sobbed, holding out her arms to her mother as though she were nine and not nineteen.  Joey sat down beside her, wrapping her arms round her and cuddling her as if she were only nine.  “I’m so lonely,” Margot sobbed.  “I thought I’d made friends with people but all they wanted to do was drink and go out dancing all night and so I did too and then I could never do my work properly because I was tired and I kept missing lectures and then my tutor said I might not be able to stay on the course because my work wasn’t good enough.  I didn’t want that to happen and so I stopped going out and kept working and my work got better and I still have a place but I have no friends and I don’t like it very much.”  Margot buried her head in her mother’s shoulder and wept.


Eventually the sobs ceased and when Margot was lying quietly against her mother's shoulder, Joey ruminated on what she had heard, stuck for how best to help her daughter. She had no idea of Margot's feelings about her position in the family but she felt that was the least of their worries.  Her first instinct was 'typical Margot' when she heard what her daughter had to say but she quickly suppressed that thought, after all, that was exactly what was at the bottom of it all.


"The fact of that matter is that we've all been too ready to believe the worst of Margot.  Her devil was nothing more than a source of amusement to us and then when it was time for her to pull up, we all rather left her to struggle through her problems by herself," she thought guiltily.  "And now, when she really needs our help, she can't ask us for it!"


Margot sat up just then and she turned to smile at her.


"I'm sorry," Margot murmured.  "I shouldn't have said that.  I'll go and wash my face and let you get back to the others.   I'm sure they need you and I'll struggle through somehow, I always have!"  She gave a shaky laugh and pulled free of her mother's grasp, standing up.


"No you don't!"  Joey pulled her down again.  "Margot, please don't think your needs aren't as important as the others.  I know you've caused problems for us in the past but that's all over with now and we're all very proud of the way you've pulled yourself together and taken responsibility for yourself.  To be honest, I'm really not very sure how to help you at the moment.  It's not a situation I've ever been in but I do want to help you and I will, as far as in me lies.  At the moment though, I think you need to be tucked up in bed and left to have a good sleep.  When you wake up, we'll see if we can't find a way through this together.  


Margot duly went to bed, tucked in by a motherly hand and with a motherly kiss but she didn't sleep for all that.  She was relieved that she no longer had to keep it bottled up but she couldn't help but feel that all she had done was prove to her parents that even at nineteen, she couldn't be trusted to behave herself and act responsibly and that all she had done was to live up to everybody's low expectations of her.


"Bad Margot!" she laughed harshly to herself.  "That's what everybody expects me to be, of course and I've just proved them right!  But it wasn't planned!  I didn't know that the people I'd chosen for my friends were just there to drink and party and make the most of having no parents there!  And when I really realised what I was doing, I pulled up!  At least I still have my place!  It wouldn't be so bad if the rest of this family weren't so perfect!  Mike can be even worse than me in some ways, but nine times out of ten, they just say "He's a boy" but I'm the black sheep of the family.  And yet, I'm no worse than half a dozen others at Uni - better, even!  The fact of the matter is that this place is so secluded and the only people who go to the Chalet are 'nice girls' from 'nice families' so anything anyone does that is even slightly rebellious is a big deal even though it would only be minor thing in a state school in England,” she thought resentfully.




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