Miss Annersley finished what she had to say to Margot.
“Margot I think you need to spend some time alone. I will ask Matron to prepare a room for you in the San. I can’t trust you with the other girls.”
Margot stood speechless, tears streaming down her checks. She couldn’t believe how far she had fallen. How could she have treated Ted the way she had. Margot left wordlessly with Matron.
‘What am I going to do?’ thought Miss Annersley despairingly. ‘We can’t keep Margot here after what she has done. How am I going to tell Joey and Jack?’
She sighed and sat thinking for a moment. Joey was ill and Jack had made it very clear to everyone Joey wasn’t to be worried. If anything was going to worry Joey, then this certainly was. She sighed again and breathed a quick prayer for help and put the call in to the San.
“Jack is busy at the moment,” said his secretary, “and has requested not to be disturbed.”
“Please,” said Hilda, “please tell him Hilda Annersley from the Chalet School would like to talk to him as soon as possible. It’s imperative I speak to him soon.”
“I’ll let him know Miss Annersley.”
Jack rang back within the hour. “Hilda,” he said, “I got your message.”
“I need to speak to you Jack in person please. It’s to do with Margot.”
“Can it wait?” asked Jack his voice flat.
“No I’m sorry Jack but it’s urgent,” replied Hilda. “I’m sorry to do this to you.”
Jack sighed. “I’ll be there first thing in the morning Hilda,” he said.
“Thank you Jack,” said Hilda softly, “I’ll see you after breakfast.”
Hilda hardly slept that night. By six o’clock she gave up sleeping and so got herself ready for the day. She sat thinking, staring into space. She sighed. It was useless sitting here like this she decided. She made a snap decision and asked Mademoiselle de Lachenais to join her for breakfast.
“So Jeanne, that’s the whole story and I don’t know whether I should expel Margot or not,” Hilda concluded.
Jeanne gazed at Hilda sympathetically, “I don’t think I have ever seen you indecisive before on how to administer justice,” she observed.
“I feel like I’m too close to the situation,” said Hilda with a sigh. “Joey is one of my closest friends. Whatever I decide will affect her. On top of that she isn’t well and I don’t know what to do.”
Jeanne sat back and looked thoughtfully at Hilda. Everything Hilda had said was true. Jeanne was fond of Joey. It wasn’t hard to be, she was very charming however, Jeanne and Joey had never been particularly close. She sat back in her chair and observed her friend. Hilda was an extraordinary Headmistress. She seemed to know instinctively when to administer justice and when to show mercy and the girls seemed to adore, admire and respect her.
“Hilda,” she said softly, “how about we think about it logically. Thekla was expelled for attempting to blackmail Joyce. She had already shown herself to be greedy; bad tempered and caused endless trouble for many other girls. And most importantly she showed no remorse for what she had done. Mademoiselle LePattre would have given her another chance had she been sorry for what she had done. Her expulsion, however, did cause her to change for the better.”
Hilda gave Jeanne a quick look. She could see where she was going with this.
“Joyce was nearly expelled the very same term,” continued Jeanne, “she was even warned that if her behaviour did not improve then she would be.”
“I had almost forgotten that,” mused Hilda. “She managed to turn herself around though.”
“She did,” agreed Jeanne looking at Hilda evenly, “but I know Therese LePattre never forgave herself that it became common knowledge and her Mother almost died because she believed Joyce had been expelled.”
Hilda started and stared at Jeanne. She had forgotten how close Jeanne was with their old Head. Aside from Madge Russell, Jeanne had been her closest friend and if she discussed how she felt about it would have been with Jeanne or Madge.
“I never thought of how Therese would have felt about that,” she said almost inaudibly.
She sat lost in her thoughts of events that had occurred fifteen years ago.
“Betty Wynne Davies was a given; especially after what she had done,” said Hilda thinking aloud.
Jeanne nodded. “Do you ever wonder if it would have been better for her to have been expelled earlier?” She asked.
“I did think about it,” admitted Hilda, “but I never felt comfortable with it. She didn’t have a home to go to.”
“But when you did you found her Mother’s friend,” pointed out Jeanne smoothly. Hilda looked thoughtful. “Perhaps we should have done what we did earlier,” said Hilda. “It probably would have saved a lot of heartache.” She sighed.
“Diana wasn’t expelled when she blackmailed Marion into helping her destroy Bride Bettany’s study. But she was from Tanswick and you felt her old school was more to blame,” remembered Jeanne.
“I know and she did try to make good,” said Hilda. “In the little time she had left with us. I wonder how she turned out.”
“We will never know,” said Jeanne softly.
“Hilda,” she inquired suddenly. “Why didn’t you expel Emerence Hope after her toboggan accident?”
Hilda started. The question was so unexpected.
“But she was genuinely sorry for what she done!” exclaimed Hilda, “and she had never been taught to accept no for an answer.”
“So despite disobeying a strict rule,” said Jeanne calmly, “nearly killing Mary Lou, or at the very least potentially causing her brain damage or spinal damage so she may never walk again, you decide to keep her on.”
“I guess because it was an accident,” said Hilda trying to gather her thoughts.
“An accident, which would never have happened, had Emerence obeyed the rules. Surely the safety of the other girls should be more important?” asked Jeanne delicately.
Hilda sat stunned. “Maybe she should have been,” she said inaudibly. “However, expulsion always seems so final. And we are the only place that gives her the discipline she needs and she has tried to reform. She’s really pulled herself up.” Jeanne smile at Hilda. “Hilda,” she said softly, “I agreed with all the decision you have made. If we can help the girls to become better people then isn’t that for the good.”
“I’m almost afraid to ask what you think I should do about Margot,” said Hilda almost humorously.
“She’s really tried to reform after falling in Lac Lucerne;” said Jeanne thinking aloud, “the accident was caused by playing tag with Emerence when she was on an expedition. It wasn’t what I would call nasty behaviour. Silly yes, nasty no. She is doing better with her school work and she really tried to stop Emerence from going on her toboggan higher than she should have. She tends to be naughty at times but no worse than most girls and up until this term, I would not have thought Margot would have behaved the way she did towards Ted. I have never seen or heard her saying anything nasty towards any other girl. She has a temper, but before this term the only time I’ve seen her lose it for a long time was when she was starting scarlet fever.” Hilda smile relieved. “So you don’t think she should be expelled then?” she asked. Jeanne shook her head, “not when you forgave everyone else for the same sins,” she said softly. “And she has shown that when she does something wrong she does pull up afterwards.”
“Thanks Jeanne. That’s really helped,” said Hilda softly.
“How will you punish her?” questioned Jeanne curiously.
“She will need to be separated from the other girls at the very least,” said Hilda with a sigh, “and she should lose her privileges for the next few weeks. I’m seeing Jack later and I am not looking forward to the interview.”
“I am sure it will go well,” said Jeanne reassuringly, “Jack knows you will do your best by his daughters.”
Rosalie Dene found Hilda hard at her correspondence when she arrived in her office. Rosalie, these all need to be sent off thanks and can you make sure I’m not disturbed when Jack arrives please.
“Certainly,” Rosalie said. “Would you like coffee?
“No thank you,” said Hilda softly. Jack arrived soon after that.
“Jack!” exclaimed, Hilda shaken out of her thoughts when Jack entered. “What’s wrong?”
Jack’s face looked ashen. He looked like he hadn’t slept for days. Jack looked at Hilda as though he wasn’t really seeing her.
“Joey is worse,” he said tonelessly. “She has developed pre-eclampsia. Her blood pressure has risen to the point that Frank Peters has her at the San. Hilda they don’t know if Joey is going to make it, or even if she does, that the babies will.”
“Oh Jack,” said Hilda with anguish. “How’s Joey with it all.”
“She’s devastated Hilda. She keeps insisting that we do what’s best for the babies not her. She refuses to have them delivered until its safe for them, regardless of what it might mean for her. Hilda I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to lose Joey. Anna is caring for Felix and Felicity and Cecil and thank God the others are all at school and Mike is with Winifred Embury. What was it you wanted to see me about?” He asked vacantly. Hilda made a split second decision and hoped it would be the right one.
“Jack I’m sorry to call you in,” said Hilda sincerely, “Margot was given this clock from Emmerence and I thought it was too expensive a gift not to ask you if she could accept it.”
Jack was robbed of his breath when he saw it. “What possessed Emmerence to give this?” he asked.
“She leaving at the end of the term,” explained Hilda.
Jack stared at Hilda intently. “Hilda,” he said at last, “that’s not the reason you bought me in like this or called me at the San last night. What else has Margot done?” Hilda returned stare for stare. “Emmerence gave this clock, is it alright for Margot to keep it,” repeated Hilda steadily.
“I would like to see Margot,” said Jack giving Hilda a hard stare. “I need to talk to her about why she accepted this clock.”
Hilda was in a quandary, she knew if Margot saw her father everything would come out, but what Jack was asking for was reasonable and she couldn’t think of any reason to say no.
Hilda breathed a prayer for help and slowly told the sorry tale: of Margot’s jealousy of her sister having friends aside from her, her blackmail of Ted and the argument the triplets had at Zermatt and the final showdown. Jack face grew blacker and blacker. Jack was furious to say the least.
“How are you planning to punish her?” he asked at last. He looked Hilda in the eye and Hilda could see Jack’s thoughts as clearly as though they were written on his face. Jack expected Margot to be expelled.
“I’m not going to expel her Jack,” said Hilda looking at Jack steadily. “Margot has shown us in the past that when she has done something wrong such as her fall in Lake Lucerne, she’s pulls up afterwards. Because of this we have decided to give her another chance. She is truly sorry for this.”
Jack took a deep breath, “Thanks Hilda,” he said in a strained voice. “May I see her please? I need to discuss this with her.”
Hilda nodded. She never forgot the conversation between Margot and her Father. She had never realized until then just how strong Jack’s temper was. Finally it started to abate and he said coldly, “Margot I am so disgusted in your behaviour, I don’t want anything to do with you. This clock is to go back to Emmerence now. You knew we would never allow you to accept such a present, and I cannot believe you would go behind our backs like this and if anything you don’t deserve a gift such as this.”
“Jack,” said Hilda interrupting, “I think Margot should keep this as reminder of how badly she has behaved. I doubt the clock will give her much joy.”
Jack allowed himself to be persuaded and left soon after, not even looking at his daughter.
“Margot,” said Hilda sternly, “You will spend the next two weeks in the San. I don’t want you associating with anyone else. You will do your lessons alone. After that you will return to the others but we cannot trust you. How can we when you treat the other girls as you have done?”
“Yes Miss Annersley,” gulped Margot, heartbroken over all her Father had said to her. She adored her father and his disgust in her went deep.
Hilda did her utmost to ensure that no else discovered what Margot had done with the exception of Mademoiselle de Lachenais, Kathie Ferrars, and Mary Lou. All of them along with Miss Annersley were aware of all that had gone on with Margot that term. Hilda Annersley was so successful in keeping it quiet, that very few people believed Margot had been punished for what she had done to Ted and although Joey guessed something was up, she never found out what it was.