The Chalet School at Tanswick, on the Welsh coast near Swansea, had been founded
in 1931. By a former grammar school headmistress, in homage to Madge Bettany's school.
She'd discovered it while on holiday at the Tiernsee, and had found out more about how it operated.
The other school had since moved to Plas Howell and then nearer, to the
island of St Briavels. There were regular sports matches and some other
contacts such as music concerts between the schools. Between them, they had
recently resolved a complex mix-up involving two girls both called Katharine
The Tanswick school had basically adopted compulsory trilingualism, good
teaching standards, all the other fundamental philosophies of the original Tyrol school though
with several differences. The
uniform was different, the same brown coats but the brown gymslips and flame ties
were reversed. For many years it had the same strict discipline, but in 1946 the head,
Mrs Beatrice Wells, was involved in a bad car accident. She eventually recovered
her mobility, but decided to become a private music tutor and move to be near
relatives elsewhere. Then a new headmistress, Miss Lucilla Eacott, an academic
and artist, had decided
to make the school far more liberal with alternative ideas about good education.
Lessons became optional and far more general freedom was given to learn what
they wanted. Almost all rules were abolished. Prefects retained their badges,
but their formal powers were heavily reduced, the role became largely administrative and ceremonial.
The Tanswick staff and pupils were divided on these changes,
which had sometimes caused chaos. The eleven-thirteen year olds (there was no kindergarten) and especially middles
obviously loved it. Most seniors hated it. The St Briavels pupils and staff were
generally disdainful. The school had reduced pupil numbers because of these changes,
but it had survived mainly because of high academic and sporting standards.
One day, Tessa Willoughby, a sister of Blossom at the other school, was waiting
outside her form room for a French lesson, as usual feeling somewhat left out of
the lively discussion that had exploded ever since the no talking in corridors rule
was abolished, when a nasty dark-haired middle called Hannah Evans breezed past
with her blonde friend Emma Bettany (not related to the others), red hair
'Haha Tessa, you loser'
they said, as Hannah pricked her with a compass. Tessa was considered something
of a genius at the school in most subjects, and was rather shy/socially anxious.
Nonetheless, she had been considered a competent prefect. Because of the above,
she'd had problems with middles before, though Hannah was the worst.
Unfortunately directly giving lines or whatever was now banned, so she normally just
brushed it off. Now though, Tessa suddenly decided enough was enough.
"How dare you behave like that to a prefect, apologise immediately! You too,
Surprised, the others turned to look, Emma was shocked by the severity of her
"I'm sorry..." she stammered.
"Ok, shoo then"
Emma quickly left, Hannah however, remained cocky.
"I'm not apologising to you!"
That was too much. Forgetting her non-compulsory lesson, she furiously pushed
Hannah into the nearest washroom and gave her a thorough bogwash, head down the
loo in a cubicle, which was then flushed.
"How did you like that then?"
"Are you mad?" said Hannah in a quiet voice.
"Well it was unhygienic I admit, you're not leaving here until you've had a cold
"I'll report you to the headmistress"
Hannah was almost in tears now, Tessa ignored that.
"Let's clean you up now, get undressed!"
Hannah felt she had to obey. Tessa ran the cold tap until the cast-iron bath was
full to just below the overflow. Then she picked up Hannah, and put her in. It
was November now, so the piped water was getting especially cold. Hannah