Margot gazed out her bedroom window, feeling absolutely miserable.
“Margot,” called her Mother, “its time to go.”
Margot stalked downstairs past her triplet sisters and out the door; refusing to say good-bye to either of them instead she remembered their conversation from the day before.
Len and Con gazed at Margot unhappily. “Margot it’s not our fault,” said Con nearly in tears.
Margot gazed back stonily, “you could have stayed at Carnbach with me. You don’t know what it’s like always being on your own,” she said flatly.
“You know Auntie Hilda said no,” reminded Len.
“Even if she hadn’t said no, neither of you would stay with me,” said Margot close to tears.
Len and Con looked at each other, while Margot’s bottom lip trembled. Margot’s heart hardened and she glowered at them both.
‘Traitors,’ she thought rebelliously. “Emmie at least agreed to stay,” she stormed. “Margot, I’m sorry, but I don’t want to live so far away,” said Con at last.
“You think I do,” choked Margot. “Neither of you got sent to the other side of the world for a whole year and now get sent off again. I know Mamma and Papa don’t love me and are just trying to get rid of me. Well I don’t care,” said Margot. “I don’t care if you or they want to be around me, but I’m not going to be a triplet any more with you. It doesn’t mean anything.”
“You’re not the only one sent off. Steve is going too, and you have to go to school somewhere,” put in Len.
“Well I don’t think that fair either, so there Len,” and Margot stalked off refusing to say anything more.
“Cheer up Margot,” said Joey to her recalcitrant daughter. “It’ll soon be Christmas and you and Steve will both be back. Just think you’ll be able to go ski-ing again.” Margot refused to look or speak to her Mother.
“Margot,” said Joey sternly, though her heart was breaking for her daughter, “you knew the deal. You had to do well in order to be put up into the next form but you did so badly in your exams, there was no way Miss Annersley could promote you.”
“But she made them too hard,” burst out Margot. “I led the form the whole term and I was good too. I didn’t even join in the midnight feast Primrose organised and still she wouldn’t promote me. She deliberately made my exams harder than everyone else in the form. She’s just mean and nasty and she doesn’t like me. I bet she did on purpose so I couldn’t stay in Switzerland with Len and Con. She likes them but she doesn’t like me.”
“Margot,” said Joey striving to keep her patience, “we’ve been through this. Miss Annersley does like you. You failed your exams. It’s no one’s fault but your own that you didn’t do well. She even checked your answers because you kept going on and on about it all and your answers was so disgraceful, she had no choice. She said you didn’t answer any of the questions properly at all.”
Margot scowled, ‘what was the point Mamma didn’t believe her. No one did. Her exams were too hard. Harder than anyone else’s were.’
Joey sighed. She could only hope that after a term at Carnbach Margot would have settled down and accepted the situation. She had tried with Hilda and Hilda had double checked all Margot’s exams and Hilda had said her papers were so badly answered, as if Margot hadn’t read the questions properly at all.
“I’m sorry Joey,” said Hilda, “but it wouldn’t be fair to any other pupil if I promote Margot after those exam results regardless of how well she did in the weekly form lists. I don’t know what she was thinking and it’s not like she was sick during them and I could excuse them that way.”
Hilda had also refused Emerence’s request that she be allowed to stay at Carnbach with her best friend and Margot’s request that at least her triplet sister’s stay with her. Joey was relieved Len and Con were to stay at the Swiss branch. It wasn’t fair on them to have to stay at Carnbach simply because Margot wasn’t going to the Swiss branch.
She waved good-bye to Steve, Margot and Jack, before sighing again and walking inside. Jack was driving Margot and Steve to meet Marie Von Weitherm’s in Basle. Joey longed to go, but didn’t want to leave Anna to care for the rest of her children on her own. Marie would take her two along with her own two Wolfram and Josefa and Wanda’s older three Keferl, Maria Ileana and Emmie to England. Wolfram was at his Father’s old school with his cousin Keferl. Keferl was in his final year at school. Maria Ileana was in Upper Fifth, Josefa in Upper Fourth and Emmie would be in Upper Third with Margot. Wanda didn’t want to send Emmie on her own to England and Maria Ileana agreed to stay at Carnbach with her younger sister. Josefa on the other hand wanted to stay at the same branch as her cousins and her best friend Gretchen Mensch.
“Josefa,” called her Mother, “Have you everything packed yet?”
Josefa looked up from her suitcase. Her cousins Maria Ileana and Emmie grinned at her from their positions on her bed.
“Nearly finished,” shouted Josefa. “Can you toss over my socks Ria please? Thanks,” as Maria Ileana tossed the said socks over. Josefa tossed in the last couple of oddments and slammed the lid shut.
“There, that’s done, thank goodness,” she said sitting down with a sigh.
Maria Ileana gave a chuckle. “You were always a slap dash creature. Why on earth do you leave everything to the last minute the way that you do, I will never know.” “Genius,” said Josefa smiling sweetly, “I’m so brilliant in everything else that I can’t help, but be terrible at being organised. You should know that Ria.”
Maria Ileana laughed at her. Josefa was one of the most, easy going, nicest girls Maria Ileana knew and it was rare to see her ruffled by anything.
“So how do you think it’ll be at Carnbach?” asked Josefa, “Who’s staying in your form?”
Maria Ileana groaned. “Did you have to bring that up?” she asked.
While Emmie raised her eyes, “she’s been talking of nothing else all holidays,” said Emmie, with a heartfelt sigh.
Maria Ileana made a face at her sister before saying, “All the ghastly girls are staying: Jennifer Penrose, Rosemary Wotton, the Wylie twins, Margaret Hart and Sylvia Curling.” She heaved a deep sigh. “At least Ruth Lamont is staying and she’s not too bad, but the rest,” and Maria Ileana threw up her arms in despair.
“Surely they’re not the only ones!” exclaimed Josefa in horror.
“Well most have moved with the school proper,” said Maria Ileana with a sigh, “Sybil, Blossom, Betsy, and all that gang.”
“Oh well at least there’s a good chance you might make form prefect,” said Josefa comfortingly.
“Like I wouldn’t any other way,” retorted Maria Ileana, throwing a cushion at her cousin, “thanks a lot Jo.”
“I didn’t mean it like that!” exclaimed Josefa.
“I know,” said Maria Ileana calming down a little, “but Jo you don’t know how hard it’ll be this term. I just hope we get some better new girls, at least Gretchen staying with you.”
Josefa nodded, “I know. There’s a few staying in our form and Emmie won’t have any that are leaving.”
Ten year old Emmie had for the most part been sitting quietly listening to her elders talk. She smiled but didn’t say anything.
“That reminds me Em,” said Josefa, “Margot Maynard will be in your form. She didn’t get her remove and so she has to go to Carnbach and from what Mamma said she’s not terribly happy with it.”
“Who’s Margot?” asked Maria Ileana curiously, “that name sounds awfully familiar.” “She’s the daughter of one of Mamma’s closest friend at school,” explained Josefa, “her aunt started the school.”
“Oh I think I know who you’re talking about,” said Maria Ileana cautiously. “Isn’t she a triplet?”
Josefa nodded. “Dr Maynard is starting the San near the school in Switzerland and so long as Len, Con and Margot were in the fourth forms they were allowed to go to the Swiss school. The other two got their removes whereas Margot did so badly in her exams that she’s in Upper Third for another year.”
“Oh poor Margot,” said kind hearted Maria Ileana. “That would be awful for her.”
“I know,” nodded Josefa. “Margot according to Aunt Joey is the most brilliant of all the triplets, but she hates working steadily and so doesn’t and so of course is in a lower form to the other two,” ran down Josefa.
“How old is she?” asked Emmie interestedly.
“She’s eleven in November,” answered Josefa.
“But she’s in the right form for her age,” commented Maria Ileana incredulously.
“I know,” agreed Josefa. “I would hate to be with older girls. It’s not as much fun, but Mamma said she’s feeling pretty miserable being away from her sisters. You’ll keep an eye on her Em, won’t you?” Josefa asked her cousin anxiously.
“Mamma asked me to but she’s a Junior Middle and I’m a Senior Middle,” finished Josefa.
“I will,” promised Emmie. “What’s she like?”
“A lot of fun” started Josefa thoughtfully, “so long as she get’s her own way. I haven’t seen her since she was about six or seven and she’s spent the last two years in Canada, so she’s bound to have changed since then.”
She paused when there was a knock at the door. “Come in,” she called.
“All done?” asked Marie poking her head around the door.
“Good,” said Marie, “and with a few hours to spare. It must be a record,” she teased. Josefa made a face at her Mother, while Marie laughed.
“Would you take it downstairs please? Papa is packing the car. We’re heading off as soon as Ilonka wakes and that sounds like her now?”
“Can I get her Tante Marie?” asked Emmie eagerly.
“Of course you can my pet,” said Marie fondly.
Maria Ileana and Emmie’s younger sister Hildegarde had died recently, at the age Ilonka was now and Emmie loved doing things for her cousin Ilonka.
“How are you, Maria Ileana?” asked her aunt quietly when the others had left.
Maria Ileana stood up and walked over to her aunt.
“I’m dreading it a little,” she admitted. “Most of the form is mainly the old Tanswick girls or people like Jennifer Penrose and her crowd.”
Marie hugged her oldest niece. “I’m sure you will be fine,” she said reassuringly. “Maybe some of them will grow up a little now or there might be some very nice new girls.”
“I hope so,” said Maria Ileana with a heartfelt sigh, “but I know Mamma would prefer us to be together especially with...” and Maria Ileana’s voice trailed off.
Marie nodded understandingly. She understood more than most. Joletta and Hildegard, her two sisters born either side of Emmie had died young; Joletta as a baby and Hildegard as a toddler; Wanda had wanted to keep her daughters together and close to their cousins. Only the older half of the school was moving to Switzerland, which meant Emmie was too young to go; Maria Ileana knew how her Mother felt and realised she would be staying at Carnbach.
“Come on,” said Marie, “we need to get moving.”
Maria Ileana headed downstairs and outside with her Aunt. Eugen looked from the car with a grin.
“I think your brave taking on this lot,” he said teasingly.
“Don’t forget there’ll be Steve and Margot Maynard and Tessa de Bersac as well,” said Marie, “I’m sure I’ll be gray before this trip is out.”
“Well that’ll blend in with your golden mop easily enough,” teased Eugen.
Marie shook her head at her husband. “Eugen, we need to get going,” was all she said, “everyone in?”
“All packed bag and baggage,” replied Eugen easily enough.
They made it to Basle in good time and got everything settled in their carriage before Jack arrived with Marot and Steve. In fact Eugen and Marie were starting to get a little worried and were debating what they should do as the train was a Paris express through the night and they were meeting Andre in Paris with nine year old Tessa and couldn’t afford to miss this one.
“Sorry I’m so late,” gasped Jack when he arrived, “but I blew a tyre and was delayed in getting it changed.”
“At least you’re here now,” said Marie, her face relaxing. “But the train is about to leave so come along Margot, Steve, we’ve saved you some seats.”
“Good bye Margot, Steve old chap. Have a good term,” and Jack kissed both his kids good-bye. “Keep an eye on Steve, Margot please and have a good term.”
Margot mumbled a reply, wishing she was at home. All she wanted to do was cry, but the carriage was full of strange people and she wasn’t going to cry in front of them. “Margot,” said Josefa, “I’ve saved you a seat. It’s good to see you. I haven’t seen you for what is it four years or so. You remember Wolfram?”
“Yes,” said Margot unwillingly, “this is Steve.”
Steve sat next to Margot trying to hide behind his sister from all the eyes staring at him.
Josefa smiled affably, “these are my cousins Maria Ileana, Emmie and Kurt.
Marie sitting next to Steve hid a smile and decided to leave the children to it. Kurt the oldest of his family guessed a little of what Steve feeling was winked at him.
“Why don’t you join us men he said rather than sit with all those girls.”
“Of all the insults,” retorted Josefa, “well Steve, don’t let them boss you around too much.
“It’s only the girls that need to be bossed,” said Wolfram with a wink, “not other men.”
Steve was so charmed at being called one of the men that he forgot his shyness and joined the two older boys as they discussed the ins and outs of his school, both being old pupils there.
The four girls sat staring at each other not sure what to say. Margot just looked miserable and so the three girls decided to leave her alone until she felt a little more like talking.
“I wonder who will be Head Girl,” said Maria Ileana idly.
“Who is there?” asked Josefa with interest.
“Well there’s Gisel Mensch, Hilda Smith, Jane Thomas, Lorna Wills and Jean Downes in VIa for starters, and I think Gisel said Alison Grant, Janet Overton, Pamela and Eileen should all be in VIb. Who else is there? Said Maria Ileana thinking hard, “Valerie Arnott is going to Switzerland and I think she said Audrey Simpson and Rosalind Yolland have both left. Rosalind is starting Art School and Audrey is going to study to be a secretary.”
“Maybe Gisel will be,” said Emmie excitedly.
Maria Ileana shook her head, “I think she’s hoping to be Games Prefect. She’s the only one out of all them that is good at all Games. Oh well we’ll find out soon enough.”
The three girls chatted about school affairs trying to draw Margot into their conversations but Margot never said much and Maria Ileana felt sorry for her.
‘It must be awful being separated from the rest of your family like this,’ she thought. “You’ll be in Emmie’s form, Margot,” she out aloud, “and Jacquetta Mensch’s”
“Oh,” said Margot rousing herself with difficulty.
Emmie gazed at Margot with friendly interest. She was a silent girl on the whole and tended to see and hear things her elders had no idea she was aware of. She liked what she saw of Margot and like her warm hearted older sister she felt sorry for her.
“I wonder if we’ll get any rowing in this term,” she said suddenly.
“We may in the first few weeks,” said Maria Ileana consideringly. “It would be one up on the Swiss branch. They don’t get any of that and at least we get to ski in our holidays as well,” she went on impressively.
“And we have Guides and Brownies,” put in Josefa, “Vi Lucy was awfully browned off that they weren’t going to have guides this term.”
Margot started to cheer up a little at all this information and was starting to feel that perhaps the school at Carnbach wouldn’t be so bad.
“What about half term?” she asked, feeling miserable at the thought of missing out on the expeditions.
“Most go home,” explained Maria Ileana, “and the ones left usually go on expeditions. Summer term, no one really goes home. They all go on expeditions because they’re usually the best ones. The others aren’t so good because the weather is pretty awful.”
“You could come and stay with us at Tante Gisela’s,” invited Josefa. “She has all of us stay. If you want to that is.”
Margot nodded, close to tears. The girls open hearted acceptance and inclusion of her touched her.
“Thanks, was all she said gruffly.
Marie who had been keeping an eye on all the chatter interrupted now.
“I think its getting late and it’s time for us all to get ready for bed,” she said firmly.
Marie an experienced traveller soon had them all settled.
“We’ll be meeting with Tante Simone and Onkle Andre when we get to Paris,” she said to Margot. “Tessa will be joining us there and travelling to England with us.” Wolfram groaned quietly to himself. He had clashed with Tessa almost every time they met.
‘She was so soppy,’ he thought to himself. Josefa flashed him a sympathetic smile, knowing how he felt about her. Josefa was far more easy-going and had seen Tessa more regularly than her brother, and was more tolerant of her. Wolfram on the other hand had little time for her.
The group soon dropped off to sleep soothed by the rocking of the train as it sped to France.