Two meetings were taking place on the Gornetz Platz. One in the Headmistress study at the Chalet School, and the other in Jack Maynard's study at Freudesheim. Both these meetings were to have unforseen and far reaching consequences for all on the Platz.
"But what can we do?" Nancy Wilmot asked her colleagues despairingly.
The Deputy Head, Kathie Ferrars, drummed her fingers on the desk, "You say you can't find the records anywhere?"
"Nowhere. Yet I know they exist. I've seen them!"
"When?" asked Sharlie Andrews.
"Before I became Head," replied Nancy, "When we thought she was turning 60 and were planning on throwing that party for her. The records said she was only 58, so obviously we put it off, but that was 15 years ago."
Kathie let out a low whistle, "But that would make her 73! Surely old enough to retire her?"
"If only I could find proof of her age!" wailed Nancy, not sounding at all like a Headmistress.
"She looks good for 73," mused Sharlie.
"Of course she does!" replied Nancy, "Since Jem and Jack shut the San and re-opened it as a plastic surgery clinic, she has been getting regular treatment. We will never convince anyone that she is pushing 80!"
"Speaking of Jack, have you managed to solve that little problem yet?" asked Kathie delicately.
"No," said Nancy, the wail returning to her voice. "He keeps coming back for my 'final answer'. I don't know how many times I have told him 'no' but he keeps insisting on giving me time to think it over."
"Who'd of thought it," said Sharlie, "Joey dying last year and Jack falling head over heels for you and proposing every week."
"To get back to the main problem," said Kathie, trying, and failing, to suppress a grin, "Have you tried asking Nell Wilson for help?"
"I saw her yesterday," said Nancy gloomily.
"She threw an empty gin bottle at me at the mere mention of her name and then attempted to run me over with her wheelchair."
Suddenly all the women froze.
"Listen!" hissed Sharlie.
They heard the gate to Freudesheim open and close. There was a brief moment of silence, then sharp tap of shoes and the rustle of starch was heard in the corridor.
"Shit," said Nancy Wilmot, Headmistress of the Chalet School as the door began to open.
The stern figure of Matron was silhouetted briefly in the door way, her angels wings headdress casting a sinister shadow onto the wall above Nancy's head. She reached out a hand and switched on the light. "What are you all doing here in the dark?" she demanded.
"Just discussing school business," said Nancy, trying to sound like the Headmistress of the Chalet School and not a naughty Middle caught out in some nefarious deed.
Matron raised her eyebrows, "You do realise it is 22.15 don't you? You should all be in bed, especially you Sharlie, you have been looking peaky lately."
"That is because you have confiscated my cigarettes," muttered Sharlie rebelliously.
"Off to bed, all of you," was Matron's only reply.
The three women stood up and made their way to the door, Kathie silently thanking God that she had put the whiskey in the safe. They didn't want Matron confiscating that too.
"Dr Jem was at Freudesheim," said Matron as they entered the corridor, "He gave me this for you Nancy." And she handed over a piece of paper. "I will speak to Karen and she will make sure you stick to this one."
Nancy stared down at the diet sheet Matron had handed her. "Matron," she said firmly, "I do not need to diet. I am the perfect weight for my height and happy the way I am."
"Nonsense," said Matron crisply. "Dr Jack does not wish to marry a plump woman. Joey was beautifully slim if you remember."
"Joey was anorexic for the last twenty years!" muttered Sharlie.
"Nonsense!" said Matron again as she ushered them to the stairs and watched them begin to ascend.
"73?" Kathie asked softly as soon as she was sure they were out of earshot.
"14 stone is not fat! And I am not marrying Jack Maynard!"
"Can't we just sack her?" asked Sharlie.
"I've tried," said Nancy gloomily, "but she won't have it. And anyway, even if we sack her, what about Jack and Jem?"
"We could make this school even greater if it wasn't for those three," sighed Kathie as she opened her bedroom door.
"The Old Guard," said Sharlie.
"I think the time has come for the Changing of the Guard," said Nancy. "We will begin tomorrow."