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The New Block

There was an air of excitement in the new form room. Inter V had come back from their half term excursion late the night before. They had been told the new block at the Chalet School would be finished over the break, but there had not been any time the previous evening for them to explore.

In addition to the new Inter V form room, and an extra common room for some of the Sixth form, there had been a couple of other new rooms for the girls to explore that morning before the breakfast gong sounded.

One room in particular, situated right next to the Sixth’s common room, had attracted their attention. The girls just could not figure out what on earth it was for.

“It’s a real mystery,” said Len thoughtfully.

“We knew about our form room of course, and the Sixth form room looks miraculous. I do think Mary-Lou and co are lucky to have that for their free periods,” said her triplet, Margot.

“It’s a shame they didn’t add a common room for our form too,” mused the third triplet, Con, dreamily. “It would have been good to have another place to slip off to, to write stories.”

“I can’t think what the room could be for!” exclaimed Ricki, “do you think it could be something to do with the sixth’s studies? Some of them do courses in typing and so on. Could it be a sort of practice room?”

“No, it can’t be,” big Joan Baker butted in. “It doesn’t have a typewriter in. I know someone from home who’s learning secretarial skills and she’s not described anything like what’s in that room.”

They stared at each other, perplexed.

Then one of the quieter girls of the form, Rosamund Lily, spoke.

“Do you know, I actually think I have seen something like it before,” she said slowly.

“Really?” “Where?” Chorused several girls at once. “Was it at your old school?” added Len, perceptively.

“Yes, I think it might have been,” agreed Ros. “But I can’t quite remember what it was used for.”

“I’ll describe it to Mama when we see her at the weekend,” said Len, “She’s bound to know.”

Just then a tall girl popped her head of curly hair around the door.

“Hello everyone! Have a good trip?” she asked brightly.

“Yes thanks Mary-Lou”, replied Len politely. “We’ve just been exploring the new block and we’re totally stumped…er..i mean rather puzzled about one of the new rooms.”

“Are you? Which one?” enquired Mary-Lou, slightly bemused. She had not yet had a chance to look around herself.

Len looked at her triplets for help in explaining.

Margot assisted: “Well, Mary-Lou, we’ve got our form room here, of course, and you’ve got a smashing…er…I mean ..er…nice common room…”

“And there’s a small office, obviously meant for a mistress,” added Ricki.

“But we can’t make out what the fourth room is for,” continued Margot, “the small-ish room next to your new common room.”

Mary-Lou glanced at her watch. They had a good fifteen minutes till Fruhstuck. “Show me, and we’ll see if I can do any better!” she said cheerfully, wondering what on earth could be in the fourth room.

Len and Ros led the way and soon they and Mary-Lou were standing just inside the doorway of the mystery room with the rest of the form crowded round outside.

Mary-Lou ran her experienced and observant eyes round the room, taking stock of its contents. She saw it was very clean and rather bare. It was tiled with white tiles, some of which had pretty pink floral decorations. A small window sat high up one wall on the right hand side. The opposite wall was adorned with a mirror, much like those to be found in the Splasheries. Under the mirror was a sparkling clean white sink, complete with soap. A pink hand towel hung neatly next to the basin. And against the far wall was a… Well, Mary-Lou didn’t quite know what it was! She looked again, searched her memory and came up with a blank.

“I think it is a makeup room,” suggested Yseult.

Joan Baker was the only one to quietly agree with her, amid the clamour of protest from the other girls.

“It makes sense,” Yseult protested. “There is a mirror to see how you are applying it and somewhere to wash one’s hands – and indeed to wash it off later. Perhaps it’s for the seniors? Some girls are allowed to wear makeup here.”

“Only some powder, properly applied, and pink lipstick on state occasions,” Mary-Lou, in full prefect mode, quoted the rules, “and I can’t somehow see the staff providing a room just for the purpose!” she stared witheringly at Yseult, who blushed slightly.

“But what is it for, Mary-Lou?” persisted Con.

Mary-Lou removed her attention from Yseult back to the object at the end of the room.

The object was quite large and free standing. It was white and seemed to be made of the same stuff as the basin.

“I wonder if it could be a type of sink?” Mary-Lou wondered aloud.

They all stared at it.

“That would make sense,” said Ricki, “But there’s already a sink in here.”

“Could it be for washing our feet?” suggested Con.

“Why’s it got a lid though?” queried Joan.

Just then deft footsteps sounded in the corridor. The throng of girls parted to allow Miss Ferrars to walk up to where Mary-Lou , Len and Ros stood.

“So you’re exploring the new quarters!” she said, smiling cheerfully, “I wondered why all my form had deserted the new formroom!”

“We’re not sure what this room is for, though, Miss Ferrars,” said Len. “Ros thinks she’s seen something like it before, at her old school, but she can’t quite remember.”

“What it’s for?” queried Miss Ferrars.

“Yes,” said Ricki, from behind her, “what is that item over there? Even Mary-Lou doesn’t know what that is!”

Miss Ferrars quickly suppressed her mild feeling of glee at knowing something Mary-Lou didn’t and proceeded to explain to the girls.

“It’s called a ‘lavatory’,” said Miss Ferrars.

“A…what?” said Len.

“Lavatory,” repeated Miss Ferrars, adding “they are actually quite common. Many British schools have them. I expect Ros’s old school did have one or two”.

“But what are they for Miss Ferrars,” asked Mary-Lou, puzzled.

Miss Ferrars went a bit red. “Well,… it’s hard… to.. explain…” she stammered. Now she wished Mary-Lou did know what it was, and could explain for her!

“Will we be able to use it Miss Ferrars, or is it just for the Sixth form - it’s next to their common room,” said Ros, innocently.

“Well I should think you would be able to use it, given the amount of coffee available!” said Miss Ferrars.

“What’s coffee got to do with it?” said Margot.

Just then Miss Andrews appeared and enquired what they were all doing. “It’s nearly time for breakfast,” she added, hungrily.

“The girls were just asking what the new lavatory is for,” said Miss Ferrars, with a significant look at her esteemed colleague.

“Oh I see,” said Miss Andrews. Luckily she had been on lots of excursions where she had had to explain these things before, so was more confident than her colleague.

“Well girls,” Miss Andrews began, “usually when one drinks a lot of coffee, and indeed milk or lemonade, one needs to avail oneself of the use of a lavatory at regular intervals. For some reason, while one is on the Gornetz Platz, one doesn’t feel this need. As well as working on a cure for tuberculosis, the wonderful doctors at the San are also looking in to this phenomenon.”

“Do you mean Mama won’t know what it is?” queried Len, utterly astounded.

“Yes,” replied Miss Andrews, “It appears that people who’ve lived here for any length of time not only don’t need to use lavatories, but they actually start to lose any memory of their existence. That’s why Ros is already starting to forget,” she added, looking at Ros.

“So why do we have one here?” asked Ricki.

Miss Ferrars supplied the answer. “It was discovered that the lavatory phenomenon is restricted to a specific, but wide area on the Platz. This addition to the building is actually the only part of the School outside that area. Therefore the authorities are expecting that those of us that use the new block might need to make use of this facility.”

“But what does one do with a lavatory exactly?” queried Mary-Lou in her clarion tones.

Miss Ferrars and Miss Andrews exchanged nervous glances.

Then, from deep in the school building, a gong sounded.

“Time for Fruhstuck!” the mistresses chorused happily.

THE END



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