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Margery Alton was waiting impatiently for the train to arrive.  She hadn’t seen Lorna for ages. 

‘I’m glad Lorna is getting in earlier than the rest,’ she thought.  ‘At least it’ll give us a chance to catch up before I have to do the polite when the others arrive.’ 

The train tooted a warning whistle as it came thundering into the station.  People piled out of carriages everywhere and Margery almost dancing with impatience, looked for her best friend from school. 

“Margery,” said a small slight girl running up. 

“Lorna!” exclaimed Margery and the two hugged each other.  “Still as small as ever,” she said looking at her friend. 

“I know,” said Lorna with a groan, “don’t remind me.” 

“Come on,” said Margery eagerly, “lets collect your things and put them in the car, then we can have a good old natter until the others arrive.” 

“How long have we got?” asked Lorna. 

“Nearly an hour,” replied Margery looking at her watch.  “Come on, I’m simply longing for all the news.” 

The pair moved off chatting nineteen to the dozen, while Lorna hunted out her ticket for the ticket collector, and they hailed a porter to help them with her trunk. 

“Well that’s done,” said Margery with a sigh of relief.  “Come one there’s a nice little coffee shop over here.” 

She dragged her friend off and soon had coffee and pastries set in front of them. 

 

“Oh this is luscious,” sighed Lorna in relief.  “I am so tired of travelling.” 

“Mmhm it can be a bit of a trip,” said Margery, “especially coming across like you did and missing your train.” 

“I know, but one of them was late and my connection had just left and so I was hanging around waiting for a bit,” explained Lorna.

“So how is everyone, come on Lorna, I want news,” said Margery a trifle impatiently.  “Well Aunt Kath is so much better.  She had a nasty case of pneumonia, but Dr Russell said she’s much better.  Kit taken her off to the seaside so she can get rid of the last of it and truly get well again,” said Lorna. 

“I am glad,” said Margery with heartfelt relief.  “It was decent of you to care for her at home when you finished your training.”

Kathleen Arnold, Lorna Carey’s Aunt had come down with a nasty bout of pleurisy-pneumonia two years previously and Lorna Carey, just finishing her teachers training had returned with her cousin Kit to help nurse her Aunt.  After Auntie Kath had started making some headway, she insisted Lorna get a job teaching at her old school Wynyards.  Miss Grace the Headmistress had welcomed her with open arms as Mademoiselle the language mistress needed to return to France as her Mother was seriously ill.  She had finally died in the June and once all the odds and ends were tied up, Mademoiselle was able to return to school.  Lorna was wondering what she was going to do for a job when she heard from her closest friend, Margery Alton, saying the Chalet School was dividing into two and the Carnbach branch needed a Language Mistress.

 

“So how is everyone,” repeated Margery.

“Good,” said Lorna smiling.  “Kit has had another book published, an historical novel.  I think it’s her best one yet.  She’s thrilled with it.  Rosemary is working in her settlement work and loves it.  She’s working in an orphanage now and loves it.” 

“Good on her,” said Margery with approval.  “She would be good at that; and what about Marigold?”

Marigold Corbett had clashed with almost everyone at Wynyards.  Notoriously lazy and hot tempered, she had had a tumultuous first term at Wynyards before finally having an accident while riding her bicycle.  Nearly twelve months of not being able to walk, had finally tamed the motherless girl, who had been allowed to run wild for the first thirteen years of her life.  Lorna had loathed her step sister with a passion, though she was fond enough of Marigold’s elder sister Rosemary. 

Lorna grinned, “She’s doing her nurses training at St Ormond’s children’s Hospital, and woe and betide any child who dares cross the line with her.”

“What!” exclaimed Margery, “I wouldn’t have thought she would have had the patience for it?” 

“She is much better than she was,” said Lorna unperturbed, “and everything she went through with her accident did give her an appreciation for it.  And as she says no child would get around her because she’s been there, done that already.”

Margery started to laugh, “I can see that she said feelingly.”

“Well she’s enjoying it and she was a huge help with Auntie Kath when she was so ill,” Lorna’s voice quivered at the memory.  “She said she owes Auntie Kath everything after caring for her, and putting up with her when she was injured.  Kit and I couldn’t believe it but believe you me it helped.”

 

Lorna gave a sudden grin and changed the subject, “everyone sends their love.  Miss Grace said I was to be sure and, remember, her to you and so does Miss McLeod.”

“I can’t imagine what it would be like working with all the old mistresses,” said Margery.  “A lot of mistresses at the Chalet School are old girls but they’ve never said how they find it, just that they’re glad to be back.  I just imagine working and being matey with someone like Miss Nash for instance.” 

“Oh she wasn’t too bad, not a bit like what she was like with us in form.  Oh, she never was my nearest or dearest,” Lorna put in hurriedly, “but she wasn’t too bad.  Anyway isn’t it time we collected the others?”

Margery vented a squawk.  “Oh gosh,” she said looking at her watch in horror, “the train we’re supposed to meet arrived five minutes ago.  You settle the bill and meet me at the station.” 

 

Lorna nodded while Margery shot off.  Margery found the station full of people.  Miss Edwards had told her, all girls would be wearing navy blouses and Monica had brown hair and blue eyes, while Joanna had fair hair with very dark eyebrows and Alison had brown curly hair and green eyes.  She turned around looking for them and saw a fair haired girl in a navy blouse looking back at her. 

“You must be Miss Linders,” she said.  “I’m Margery Alton.  Have you got your entire luggage?” 

“Hullo,” said Joanna shyly, “it’s all here,” and she indicated a trolley with her baggage. 

“I’ve met Alison Gridley and Monica Marilliar on the train.  They’re just collecting all there belongings from the van.  I said I would keep an eye for you.  Here they are,” she said swinging around as two girls joined Joanna. 

“You must be Miss Alton,” said a jolly looking girl walking up with a very nervous, young looking girl.  “I’m Monica Marilliar and this is Alison Goodley.” 

“Please call me Margery,” said Margery hurriedly, “its bad enough being called that at school let alone out of it.” 

“Can do, and I do know it’s a friendly school,” answered Monica promptly. 

“You’re an old girl aren’t you?” asked Margery with interest. 

Monica nodded, “Joanna and I both,” she said.  “In fact Jo is an old girl from Tyrol days.” 

“Really,” said Margery her face lighting with interest. 

Joanna nodded.  She was a quiet girl who didn’t say much. 

“Come on, Lorna Carey has arrived already and she’s at the car.”  

Margery introduced everyone and somehow crammed everything in before setting off.  “I’m sorry it’s a bit of a squash but fortunately it’s a fairly short journey.  So what do you all teach?” She asked with friendly interest. 

“Singing and a little piano,” volunteered Joanna. 

“I’m Games,” said Monica cheerfully, “and Alison is the school’s secretary.  What about you Lorna?” 

“Languages,” was Lorna’s brief reply.  She was starting to feel the effects of the journey and was longing to be doing anything, but travelling. 

Monica gave a sympathetic grin and turned to Margery, “what about yourself?” She asked. 

“Oh I teach the Kinders.  I’m in charge of the whole Department,” she said this with a grin, knowing Lorna knew nothing about it.

“What?” said Lorna sitting bolt.  “You never told me that.” 

Margery grinned again.  “I didn’t want to give you too many shocks in a row like that.  Miss Phipps was in charge but now she’ll be in charge of all the Juniors, now Miss Norman is Senior Mistress, and Miss Edwards is Headmistress.  Lorna and I went to school together in Wynyards,” she added by way of explanation. 

Monica chuckled.  “At least you won’t feel too overwhelmed by everyone.  Teddy said when she offered me the job that most of the new staff were old girls.  Alison isn’t so she’ll be the refreshing change.” 

Alison gave a nervous smile.  Lorna glanced at her.  Alison looked like she should still be in school herself, she looked so young.  She could well understand the friendly protectiveness Monica Marilliar showed her. 

Monica and Margery chatted easily with the other three making the odd remark now and then until she turned the car into the driveway. 

“Here we are,” said Margery as they all tumbled out.

 

“Welcome to Carnbach,” said Miss Edwards with a welcoming smile.  “I hope you will all be happy here.  Lorna, Margery will show you where to go and tell you all about us.  I’m sure the two of you have a lot to catch up on.  I’ll have a chat with you later.  Alison, I’ll show you to your quarters first.  Your rooms are a part of the annexe I share with Ivy Norman, the Senior Mistress.  I’ll take you there as it’s on the way to your rooms Joanna and Monica.” 

 

The four set off and Dollie showed Alison to her room before taking Joanna and Monica upstairs.  Both rooms were next to each other and after pointing out their bathroom and asking if they knew there way back, Dollie left them to change and unpack.  She hurried back to her Annexe to find Alison in the midst of unpacking her trunk. 

 

“Alison,” she said with a smile, “how are you managing?” 

Alison looked up.  “All right,” she said with a nervous look. 

I’ll let you settle in,” said Dollie with a warm smile, “I’ll be in my study, down the Hallway, so if you need anything please let me know.” 

 

Alison nodded and Dollie returned to her study to finish off the last of the paperwork she was hoping to complete before the Staff meeting the next day. 

Her paperwork completed, Dollie leaned back in her chair pondering her new secretary.  Alison Goodley was only 17, and had finished her secretarial course two years earlier.  A very bright student, her parents had not been able to afford to keep her in school, so Alison left at 14 and studied for her secretarial certificate.  She had spent the last two years in an office, but had somehow continued to study languages in her free time.  Her previous employer had spoken highly of her, and said she was very shy, but extremely hardworking.  Dollie gave a sigh, for both she and Madame had been unsure whether Alison was a little too young for the position, especially as she was the same age as most the Sixth form, but her language skills were flawless which had impressed them both, and to continue studying on top of working, had left Dollie feeling breathless. 

 

Work was soon finished and all the mistresses were unpacked and settled by teatime.  Dollie observed everyone with a friendly eye as old friends caught up with each other.  She was pleased to see Monica Marilliar’s protective friendliness towards Alison Goodley.  She had wondered how Alison would fit in being so much younger than everyone else.  She made a mental note to keep a close eye on her over the term.  It wasn’t long however, before everyone decided to say goodnight and called it a day.

 




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