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Meanwhile, while everyone was settling in at Carnbach and girls were travelling to the school two old friends were finally catching up after many years of not having seen each other…

Anne sat back in her armchair looking at the fire.  She was glad she had lit it.  She loved sitting curled up in front of an open fire.  She smiled at Margia. 

“Well the girls seemed to like you,” she said.  “They’re so nervous about starting a new school tomorrow.” 

“They’re gorgeous girls,” said Margia heartily.  “Amy’s girls Margaret and Cecilia are still too little really to do much with.  Margaret’s only one and Cecilia is just a baby, but Amy is happy enough.” 

Anne gave her friend a quick look.  “You don’t regret it?” she asked curiously.  Margia shook her head.  “Not really, no,” she said reflectively, “I love my piano and could never give to my husband and family what I give to that and well I just never found anyone I really wanted to spend the rest of my life with.” 

Anne’s face shadowed briefly.  “I’m sure you’re sick of that question,” she said softly.  “I know I certainly am.  I’ve lost count how many time people asked me when am I getting married again especially with the two girls.  I think one old dear said my girls deserved a father, and I should get married to anyone who would take on another man’s babies.”

“People can be so tactless,” agreed Margia giving Anne a quick look

Anne noticed the look, “don’t worry,” she said, “I’m happy with my life and Rob is irreplaceable.  His parents have been fantastic and they and my parents are happy I’m taking on this job; Mother always liked Madame.  It’s lovely to see her after all these years.”

Margia laughed.  “I think the hardest thing I’ve found is calling them all by their first names.  I ran into Charlie and Bonny Leslie in Australia and nearly collapsed when Charlie said I should call her Con and if I didn’t then she would call me Miss Stevens.  It seemed almost sacrilegious to call her Con.”

Anne shouted with laughter at this.  “Well we’ll have to get used to that with Ivy Norman and Dollie Edwards,” she said humourously. 

“At least it not Bill or the Abbess,” said Margia with a mock shudder.  “I never had as much to do with Ivy or Dollie, as I did with Bill, Charlie or the Abbess.”

“We’ll survive,” said Anne laughing a little, “and I have to thank you.  I now have the perfect person to blame when my girls are naughty.”

“What?” asked Margia confused.

“Didn’t you see the looks on their faces when you were talking about all the jokes you played when you were younger,” said Anne mischievously, “I know Laura was mentally planning how many of them she would repeat.” 

Margia grinned.  “Can I be there when Teddy pulls her up on it?  I’d love to see her face when Laura says: ‘but Miss Stevens used to do it’.  She may need someone to pick up the pieces.”

“Well, you’ve made school a lot more entertaining for them,” said Anne ruefully.  “I was always boringly good and the only thing I did was nearly burn down the school by forgetting to turn off the iron.  I still have nightmares about that.”

“Idiot,” said Margia giving her a quick look.  “I can’t believe you still worry about that.  It was an accident.” 

“I know, I don’t usually; it’s just all this reminiscing,” said Anne with a sigh, “but it wasn’t the SSM or the hairbrushes in a bed or chalk on piano keys and it’s just not as interesting to my girls as that,” finished Anne with a smile.

Margia laughed again.  “We were horrors.  I just hope there’s no one as bad as us at the school.”

“They’re probably worse,” teased Anne, “and Teddy will send them all to you to discipline to make up for all the gray hairs you’ve given her over the years.”

And the two went into fits of laughter at the thought.


“How are they all?” asked Anne, changing the topic when the pair of them had finally calmed down, “Lonny and Elsie and the rest.  I’ve only really kept in touch with Louise Redfield and Marie Von Eschenau.”

“Good,” said Margia smiling.  “Elsie taught at Red Gables as a Games Mistress for a few years.  She now married with two little girls and a baby boy.  She’s supremely happy and busy.  Ilonka is a professor at London University, lectures in Economics.  I don’t think she’ll ever go back to Hungary, not now while the Communists are running the country.  She’s happy enough.  She’s married another professor and they have a little girl.  She’s a serious bookish little thing and Lonny adores her.  Evvy fiancé was killed during the war.  She hasn’t really met anyone but tends to travel with her parents.  And Corney got married about a year ago.  She asked Madame to be her bridesmaid.” 

“I’m sorry for Evvy,” said Anne softly, “at least I’ve got the girls.  How’s she coping with it all?”

Margia stared into the fire, “She’s holding up, it’s lonely for her at times and she finds it hard cos like you said people think you should rush out and find someone else.  I think it’s also hard because almost all her friends are married with children and she’s still alone.  She doesn’t talk about it much.”  Margia looked up.  “She came along with me while I was touring Scandinavia.  It was so much fun catching up on old times and sightseeing together.  Anyway, how’s Louise?”

“Louise is married with a couple of children herself,” explained Anne, “we try to keep in touch and it tends to be mainly letters at Christmas.  It’s hard being on opposite sides of the world and I doubt we’ll ever get the chance to see each other again.”

“It gets like that sometimes,” agreed Margia.  You’ll never guess who Evvy and I bumped into while we were in Scandinavia.”

“Who?” asked Anne curiously.

“Thora Helgersen!” exclaimed Margia.

Anne’s eye’s lit up.  “How is she?” she asked. 

Margia’s eyes twinkled.  “Good.  Her two daughters Thyra and Signa go to school here, and it sounds like Signa is her sister Astrid all over and she’ll be in Sophie’s form.  Upper IIa isn’t it.” 

Anne started laughing and then groaned.  “She’ll lead Sophie up the garden path then, with no help from you,” and Margia, and Anne started laughing again.

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