Two voices could be heard clearly at Paddington Station. A tall girl with red-gold curls looked up and waved madly. She had travelled from Edinburgh on the overnight sleeper, and had come to meet her sisters from the Oxford train, before they all went to Victoria to start the long journey home.
‘There you are. Come on. I’ve got a porter here, and a taxi waiting.’
While the porter and the cab driver dealt with the trunks and the other bags, Margot looked properly at her sisters. ‘You don’t look a bit different.’
‘Of course not.’
‘Why ever should we?’ They spoke in unison.
‘Well, I thought you might look grown up now you’re B.A.s.’
The girls were old hands at travelling, and the long journey to Switzerland went smoothly enough. When they weren’t catching up on all the news, they were happy enough to read, and they slept from Paris to Basle. The following morning saw the three emerging into the sunshine at Interlaken Hauptbahnhof.
‘Papa!’ Three voices rang out, forgetting for a moment that they were twenty-one now, and grown up young ladies.
‘Where’s Mamma?’, asked Con, looking past her father.
‘There’s nothing wrong with Teddy, is there?’, said Len referring to their youngest brother, Edward Robert, who had arrived just in time for Christmas in their second year at university, bringing the young Maynard clan up to a round dozen. ‘I thought he’d be old enough to stay with Rosli now, and Mamma would come to meet us too.
It was six months since they had been home, since Margot was walking the wards now she was in the third year of her medical degree, and Len and Con had both spent the Easter vacation at Oxford because they were working hard for their final examinations. But now the elder two had finished university, and Margot had managed to get two weeks leave, and they were eager to tell their mother all about what they had been doing.
‘Teddy’s fine’, said Jack. ‘Your mother’s been very busy recently, and she’s spending the morning resting in bed.’ Margot suddenly looked knowing, while Len and Con immediately asked what she’d been doing to tire herself out.
‘Ask no questions, and you’ll be told no lies’, was the aggravating response from their father.
The drive up to the Gornetz Platz was accomplished as quickly as usual, for Jack was a good driver and the roads were not busy. However he refused to answer any questions, instead making conversation about the scenery and the weather, much to the triplets’ annoyance.
The three girls were about to rush into the house.
‘Steady’, said their father. ‘I don’t want you to wake them, if they’re asleep.’
‘Go quietly and ask your mother – she’ll tell you all about them.’
They calmed down, and mounted the stairs quietly before tapping gently at the door.
‘Is that you, my dears?’, said a golden voice. ‘You may come in, but don’t make too much noise.’ The girls kissed their mother, and looked at her expectantly.
‘Come and meet your newest sisters’, she said. ‘Here are the quads I’ve been promising since you were at school.’ Even Margot looked startled at that. The girls peeped into the big basket, which they had once slept in. Two fair and two dark babies were sound asleep.
‘From left to right – Frieda, Marie, Simone and Elisaveta, and they all have Jacqueline for a first name, after your father. What do you think of that for a homecoming surprise?’ For once, all three triplets were speechless!