|The stone next to the bench was weathered but clearly well cared for; the grass was neat around it and reasonably fresh flowers were placed in a vase on the grave.|
Sir James "Jem" Russell - Died 3rd September 1981 Aged 81 years
Gone but never forgotten.
Below in similar letters, but much more recent, from the relatively sharp edges on the grooves cut into the stone.
Also his wife, Lady Margaret "Madge" Russell - Died 20th July 2005 Aged 98
Our dear Madame, founder of the Chalet School, beloved Mother, Sister and Grandmother.
To one side, another stone seemed to be a similar age and type, but this time the engraving marks of both names looked much more similar. Lucy looked at the dates, and realised that this pair must have died in an accident, for it seemed very unlikely that both husband and wife would go on the same day. She caught her breath as she looked harder and realised that there was another name nearly hidden by the long grass around the headstone.
Richard Thomas Bettany
July 4 th 1907 - December 24th 1967
Mary Patricia (Mollie) Bettany
February 1st 1912 - December 24th 1967
Theresa Daphne Bettany
10th October 1950 - December 24th 1967
So probably a daughter, and definitely an accident. Lucy wondered what had happened. A car crash perhaps? Christmas Eve, always a dangerous night for drink drivers, her father had said. He should know, for one of his duties before he became a detective had been to stop people and try to determine their sobriety. She remembered him coming back depressed and tired around the christmas period, angry that such avoidable accidents were happening. He refused to even risk the slightest amount in his system if he had been driving, even though a man of his build could in theory drink a small amount and still be technically legal.
It hurt too much to think of Dad, especially when she had to visit him soon, all connected up to tube and monitors. It wasn't fair, none of it was fair, and neither was that little family, all gone in one night. She wondered whether there had been other Bettanys. She hadn't seen any more so far in this graveyard, although a small shelter nearby nearby had the name on a plaque.
Margaret "Peggy" Winterton and Giles Winterton of Jamaica and Canada. Beloved mother and father, sister and brother and ever patient grandparents. This shelter erected in their memory the by the Bettany family trust.
There wasn't a date, but the shelter couldn't have been more than 10 years old, so she hoped that this pair at least had lived to a reasonable age. She guessed that the bodies themselves were buried elsewhere, perhaps in Jamaica, for she couldn't find the names amongst the headstones here.
She sat for a moment in the shelter, looking out over the little garden in the middle of the graveyard. This wasn't like so many places she had seen back in England, with rows of uniformly spaced and uniformly bland stones, plaques or little boxes. It felt more like the old more meandering churchyards, long since filled. The age of it couldn't be that long ago however, as the chapels nearby were dated in the 1950s, and she had found no grave earlier than 1961 so far.
She wandered on, and came back to the centre of the graveyard. She was drawn to a little collection of three trees in the centre, and carefully read the slightly tarnished plaque attached to a post beside them.
These trees were planted in memory of all of the girls from the Chalet School Family gone to higher service and buried elsewhere. Planted 1964.
Lucy looked at the trees, and noticed tiny ribbons attached to various small branches, and secreted in little crooks in the branches, tiny waterproofed packets and little cards with messages on them. Some were very old, and even cut into the bark of the tree, showing it had grown around them, others were new enough to have been put there very recently. Lucy realised all at once that although this reminded her of old semi forgotten churchyards, it was in fact an active, current place of remembrance. She looked around her, almost as if she expected mourners to appear as if by magic, and question her right to be there, if she didn't have a relative in the ground here.
'You probably will, soon' came a horrible, unbidden thought. She gritted her teeth and refused to listen to her mind. Dad was going to get well, he was. That was why he was here, after all, why they had all come to this place, despite the disruption to everyone's lives. They had had the option to stay at home, and neither she nor her brothers had even hesitated, determined not to risk losing a minute with him. It was the school holidays at the moment, but she knew that the new term was coming up fast. She was sure that they would all have to go to school somewhere. The boys would probably go to a college in the valley, since they had both wanted to do the European exams rather than A Levels anyway, but she wasn't sure what would happen to her. The school on the Platz was a private one, so she knew that wasn't possible. Nor did she want to be surrounded by posh privileged girls with unlimited budgets. It had been bad enough at home, with competition for the latest gadget or fashion item.
She was very afraid that the answer would be her being sent back to England, to live with her Great Aunt in Taverton. Not that Lucy minded that in theory, for her elderly relative had always had an attitude far younger than her years, and her second cousins were always fun to be around. But she didn't want to miss a second with Dad, and she knew it would be too complicated to make many weekend visits. School seemed such an unimportant thing, with what was happening with her father right now.
The next grave was kept beautifully clean, despite it's age, and had fresh flowers all around. Lucy frowned, and wondered whether this was a famous person, for there were several little boxes with holes for flowers placed, and looking at some of the dedications on the boxes, there were a lot of organisations and groups. Some seemed to be related to that school nearby, so perhaps it was a favourite teacher or headmistress perhaps?
Author's Chapter Notes:
A little more, thanks for reading.