View Full Version : Future’s Present-- Update 21st Jan-- Chapter Sixteen: Ribbon of Friendship

20th Jul 2011, 3:14 AM
Author's Note:
Firstly, thank you very much for your interest in my story! You can follow it here, on wordpress (http://futurespresent.wordpress.com/about/) or on blogger (http://kathleenssimstories.blogspot.com.au/). If you ever want to know where I'm up to in writing/picture taking you can check out the status of my story here (http://futurespresent.wordpress.com/status/).
There are two ways to read this story. You can read all the chapters and get the story from Bobbie's point of view. Or, in addition to reading all the chapters, you can read the added extras inbetween the chapters. These are diary entries, reports and letters that give an insight to the world and events outside Bobbie's point of view. They all relate to the plot and will be helpful to those of you who are trying to guess what is going on. These added extras are just that-- added extras to the main story. You don't have to read them as all will be revealed eventually. If you do read them keep in mind they are a) short and b) unillustrated.

About the sci-fi classification of this story.
No, it isn’t in the wrong category. Yes, on the surface it looks like any in-public-domain school story… or does it? What was that in the background of that picture? Why did that happen? That was a little… odd…?

Just wait.

The science fiction elements drive the plot and all will be revealed (much) later on. In the meantime you’ll see little glimpses of it here and there so keep your eyes open!.


"I grew up in an orphanage." The words were said quickly, like she was ripping off a bandage and wanted the pain to be over in as little time as possible.

I opened my mouth to respond but she cut me off "now take your shock, your pity, your horror, your disgrace and whatever else you are feeling and go get over it somewhere else for I don’t want to see none of that. I've had enough of that to fill a lifetime."
I looked at the elegant lady and took her in, from her polished, pointy shoes to the well curled locks of hair. No one ended up in orphanages but destitute; what family, however poor would not take in a child who had lost their parents? Even a struggling farming family would trade another mouth to feed for the extra hands to help around the farm. Here was a woman admitting that she had no family to speak of, or that she had family and circumstances meant they could not acknowledge her as their own. But here she sat before me, a lady of elegance, a lady of society… a… lady! People like her come from family, and those families are rich and powerful. Here sat a contradiction.
She remained impervious to all my questions, as you can imagine I had many.


"I made my promise. Perhaps I have already said too much. Good day."


I took this as my cue to leave but as I was in the hall I heard a door close upstairs. I saw what could only be the lady’s daughter descending the stairs and naturally I paused.

She reached the bottom of the stairs and for a moment she just looked at me.
"Good evening." I said. "I've just been visiting your mother—"

"I know. Look, I don't know anything about it." She said, "But if you want to know then perhaps you should speak to her best friend."
"Who is that?" I asked.
"Bobbie… Bobbie Hilton."
"A boy?"
"No, she's a girl. They knew each other as children. Bobbie must have been a pet name, like my mother, she was known a Frankie instead of Francesca."
"Where can I find her? Do you have an address."
"Does your mother not write to this good friend of hers?"

"No, she is not allowed, don't ask why… I don't know."
"Right." As Alice would say this was getting curiouser and curiouser. "Do you know anything else about this Bobbie?"
"No…" she thought for a moment. "Wait! She was from the highlands, I think. Does that help?"
"It narrows it down a bit. Thank you."
It was many years later that I tracked down Bobbie Hilton. Roberta, for that was her name, was an elegant lady but not surrounded by the riches her friend was. I was saddened to hear from her that Frankie had passed away a few years prior.

"We had a good friendship, dear Frankie and I." Bobbie said. "All things come to an end eventually, I just wished I could have seen her one last time."

"Why couldn't you?" I asked. Bobbie looked at me for a full minute without speaking, like she was searching me for something… trust?

"With Frankie gone now and I myself not far from seeing the pearly gates…If I do not tell now the story may well die with me. But you must be willing to listen to the full story and promise on your life that you will not speak of it to another soul again. I wish you to record it in full detail to be released by your children, or grandchildren, in one hundred years time. Not a day sooner. Do you agree?"
"But why?"

"That will be explained in the telling of the story, lets just say it is very important and if you tell too soon you may destroy two thirds of the universe.... All I need now is your agreement. Those are the conditions of my telling."

"I agree." What else could I do? And so Bobbie started

20th Jul 2011, 7:25 PM
Here's some constructive criticism for you:

The Negatives: The story so far lacks exciting events, but its normal sometimes chapters can be slow and just preparatory for others. Also, graphics could be better

The Positives: Great writing and use of language. Your wrighting really feels like its a 1900s something novel, except with pics, which is a lot easier on the eyes :P Also, the mystery factor is great to keep the reader going

I don't exactly know what direction you are taking the story, but here are some suggestions from my point of view, you don't have to do any of them, but I'm just sharing my thoughts:

_The storyline for me has a dramatic ambiance, so I have a feeling there needs to be an Evil uncle character who was always jealous of the girl's father for wining the heart of her mother; so on the ship he kills the father and wants the mother to be with him, but she refuses to so he kills her too (this could be a very dramatic and intense chapter). And that's how Bobbie ends up in an orphanage and meets the other character in the story (her uncle claims the inheritance and travels far away for fear of someday getting caught for the murder).

_ I feel the kid needs a guilty addiction that always comforts her, like an addiction to chocolate, or an attachment to a caring teacher, or a teddy bear she hugs. She would always go back to it whenever she is facing troubles in her life

_ You may have some of these in mind already, but you should mention some possible things that happen related to that time period, maybe even invent something like the 3rd Sim Islands War or something :P

Good luck in your writing, so far so gd :gjob:

20th Jul 2011, 10:12 PM
Thank you so much for your constructive criticsm! You are right about the graphics, it's something I'm trying to actually work on without blowing out my old lap top. My stories are often slow to start, even when I stick a murder in just before the start (yes, really! tehehe!) so it is something I still need to work on with pretty much everything I write... Again this is something I've been trying to work on so you don't get chapters of crap before you start to see where the plot is actually going.

As for the suggestions I do have the majority plotted out so I won't address the first one because that would be a spoiler ;) but the next two are food for thought!

Thank you again! I hope you enjoy reading!

21st Jul 2011, 2:30 AM
I actually like this story so far. I know there aren't many exciting events but it actually hooks me and makes me want to read more. One thing about the pictures: getting in one a sim's view would be great. Do you use the tab key in game? It is MUCH easier to take pictures that way and get great shots too. Also, in terms of pictures, I notice that you have the same picture or extremely similar one multiple times. Try different angles or, at least until things get going, maybe less pictures. For example, a few pictures into chapter 1, the pictures are exactly the same, except 1 is zoomed in. Play with it a bit more to increase the versatility. With that being said, I love your writing style and do agree that it seems to fit the period quite well which is not easy to do.

In regards to your question: I think one chapter a week is nice. That is what I am doing as well. It gives me time to work ahead, plus, if something comes up in RL, I have enough time and saved work to not worry too much about it. I suppose wait and see what other people think too but I am for it.

26th Jul 2011, 3:11 AM
I actually like this story so far. I know there aren't many exciting events but it actually hooks me and makes me want to read more. One thing about the pictures: getting in one a sim's view would be great. Do you use the tab key in game? It is MUCH easier to take pictures that way and get great shots too. Also, in terms of pictures, I notice that you have the same picture or extremely similar one multiple times. Try different angles or, at least until things get going, maybe less pictures. For example, a few pictures into chapter 1, the pictures are exactly the same, except 1 is zoomed in. Play with it a bit more to increase the versatility. With that being said, I love your writing style and do agree that it seems to fit the period quite well which is not easy to do.

In regards to your question: I think one chapter a week is nice. That is what I am doing as well. It gives me time to work ahead, plus, if something comes up in RL, I have enough time and saved work to not worry too much about it. I suppose wait and see what other people think too but I am for it.

Thanks for the comments!
I have been playing around with tab kep camera mode and pose boxes today (taking pictures for chapter three) and with the advice I've got I can see they are looking better already! Future chapters do have a lot more things (rather than talking in the same room all the time) going on so I think that will make photos easier.

11th Aug 2011, 12:07 AM
I think you are one of the better writers on this board =).

Keep up the good work!

15th Aug 2011, 10:49 AM
I think you are one of the better writers on this board =).

Keep up the good work!

Thank you! This is a fun project for me as the nature of the style gives me the oppertunity to zoom through the plot, stick to the plan and not get caught up on editing and rewriting and making things perfect. I have a serious writing project comming up that is rather... tragic... so this will be my refreshing break when that gets too depressing (not saying that Future's Present is a particular HAPPY story or anything, but lets just say that the planning process for this one did not involve me reading books on the holocaust and torture and making lists of the most horrible things I can imagine...).
It's also fun learning to take sims photos and combine them with the stories.

9th Oct 2011, 4:16 AM
Just wondering how the story is coming along. I've been looking forward to an update!

6th Nov 2012, 12:54 PM
Chapter One: A surprise Summons

I was eight years old and thoroughly spoiled.
I had two nursery maids, a nanny and a governess all to myself. I had a room for just my toys and more dresses than I could hope to grow out of. Most of all I had a loving mother and father. Father was an important naval captain and not often at home but mother was always home. Not that I had her undivided attention, she was a lady of society and many of my memories are of her writing letters, or holding meetings or off at parties.
Sometimes she would hold one of the grand parties in our ballroom.
I would be dressed up for the occasion and allowed downstairs to meet the guests and Mother would get the chance to show me off to all her friends before I was sent up to bed.
I used to try to catch snatches through the banisters on the stairs and when I was finally ordered to bed I used to lie awake listing to the sounds of music and merriment below.
My story starts in late autumn when Father was home on a few weeks leave.
After having spent a pleasant day in the nursery playing princess and having my own way with everything, Elen came with a message that Father wished to see me in the office.
“What for?” I asked.
“I don’t know Miss Bobbie but he said now. Nanny is waiting outside to escort you.”
“Am I in trouble?”
“I don’t know, are you?” Elen winked and I giggled.
“Well, I better find out!”
“That’s the spirit, a bit of Highland courage!”
I quickly changed into my day clothes then I went, as dutifully as any daughter could but wondering at the reason for the summons all the same.
Nanny escorted me to Father’s office where I found him sitting behind his desk and my mother in a small chair beside it.
“You sent for me Papa?” I said
“Yes my daughter, take a seat.” Father indicated to the only remaining seat and I sat down on the edge. ‘My daughter’ meant serious, what could this be about?
“Nanny,” Mother held out a letter and I glimpsed the address on the front, Mr and Mrs Cooper. My parents talked about the Coopers a great deal but I’d never met them. “Would you please ensure this makes the next post?”
“Certainly Madam.” Nanny took the letter and… did her eyebrow just shoot up a fraction? I looked closely as she left but her face had returned to its usual composure.
“Bobbie?” My father indicated to the seat again and I tentatively sat down.
“Next spring,” Father continued, and I turned my attention back to him “my duties take me around the coast of Palai.”
At this I look up in interest. Palai was THE country for… for anything. Fashion, culture, food, they had the lot. Fraitessa was the capital city and I had heard wonderful stories about it.
“It has been a long time since your mother had some time away and I will be taking her with me. We shall be away six months.” At this my mood dropped. Six months without Mother! “Your mother and I have been talking, and you are a big girl now and we thought it time to expand your education, there is little more Miss Brown can teach you.
“You’re taking me with you?” I blurted out, I couldn’t hold it in much longer! Was he or wasn’t he? Father chuckled.
“Well, yes and no. You will be coming as far as Fraitessa and you shall be boarding at your mother’s old school.”
“School? A real school? Me? In Fraitessa?” This was better than being on a ship for six months, only it still meant being apart from mother, but still. How many girls got to go to school in Fraitessa? I knew Mother’s old school was the crème de la crème as far as schools in Fraitessa went.
“Yes my dear, a real school!”
“Carolina went off to a school in Fraitessa, not as good as my old dear school and remember how much of a lady she had become when she returned? And my old school WAS a dear, you will love it, I am sure!”
“Oh, I am sure I will mother! Will you or you and father be able to visit me at all?”
“No dear.” My father answered. “I’m sorry to say we will not be able to. I have a few days leave to settle you in but then we won’t see you until it is time to set of home. But never fear, Mother and I shall have a special surprise for you for the journey home.”
“Oh, what is it?” I asked eagerly.
“Now, if I told you that, would it still be a surprise?”
“No Papa.”
“There we go then, something to look forward to!”
Father dismissed me from his office and I left with my mind in a whirlwind! I didn’t know where to concentrate my thoughts first. On leaving home? On six months without my wonderful mother? On how wonderful school In Fraitessa would be? I decided the situation had far more positives than negatives so it was with a happy heart and an excited voice that I ran into the nursery to give Elen the news.
“You weren’t long!” Elen said as the nursery door closed behind me. “Where’s Nanny? Didn’t she come back with you?”
“Oh, no, she had to dash to post a letter to the Coopers, but—”
“What another one?”
“I— but— what do you mean? But never mind, I’ve got such great news! I’m going off to school!”
“You don’t say?”
“Yes, I am. Only for six months, never fear, I shall be back by Christmas and what a Jolly one it shall all be!” I spilled out all the details and spent the rest of the afternoon talking excitedly about my future with Elen.

6th Nov 2012, 12:57 PM
Chapter Two: The Waiting

The next day a flurry of activity started. There had been things to buy: books, pen nibs, satchels. I had a million questions to about my new school and schools in general because everything I knew came from books. Mother took the time to answer a few of my questions.
A few weeks into the preparations a delivery of bolts of white, black and navy fabric arrived. These were the colours of my new school and not long after that a letter arrived containing the school patterns so Nanny got to work. I’d be at school for the spring and summer terms and I always tried not to shiver as the lightweight dresses were fitted. That’s an old Highlander tradition, that if you’re not shivering then you’re not really cold, and once you start then your body knows it’s cold so it won’t stop. Mother used it on her wedding day and Papa swears lives at sea had been saved by not shivering so I had no doubt it was true. I still believe it to this day.
One day I was standing— not shivering— as I had my hem marked. I looked into the mirror as Nanny knelt down. Would it be as good as what the other girls would be wearing? Would their fabric be finer or their stitches neater? The door to the sewing room was open a crack and I heard voices in the corridor.
“No, I haven’t received a reply, and I sent the letter off weeks ago. Yes, we’re still going! We need to get to the bottom of it all”
I brightened, it was Mother’s voice.
“Mother, come in and see my dress!” I called out to her. Sure enough, Mother came in with one of her society friends.
“Oh Bobbie, just perfect! Give us a twirl!” Mother said.
“Let me lift you down Miss Roberta.” Nanny said. “I don’t want you stuck by a pin.”
I let Nanny lift me down then I did a twirl while mother and her friend— a Mrs Morgan— made all the appropriate sounds.
“I can’t believe my little baby is so grown up!” Mother said. I smiled. At last the dress had her seal of approval!
Closer to the date of leaving there were the guests to be received and gifts to be accepted. Most of the gifts were small and practical such as a new needle case or pincushion but a good many were purely decorative and for me to “do up my room” at school in a manner to my own fancy. For Christmas Mother gave me a beautiful bedspread to take away with me and Father, who was in the middle of the Tangarian ocean, send me a box of paints and a beautiful carved pen handle. Mother had a farewell party for me where I said my final goodbyes to the ladies of society. It was a funny feeling, walking down the stairs to the ballroom, knowing that it would be another six months before I would do this again.
Winter passed and it was spring before I knew it. I had been ticking of the months, then the weeks and finally the days before our departure. Mother had a farewell party for me where I said my final goodbyes to the ladies of society. It was a funny feeling, walking down the stairs to the ballroom, knowing that it would be another six months before I would do this again.
Finally I crossed off the last box and it was the night before we left.
I crept into bed and lay beneath the covers in the darkness, my mind spinning. Over the months there had been new dresses and books and a million questions and all of a sudden I felt nervous for the first time.
Suddenly I heard the door squeak and a light step in my room. I cautiously looked over my shoulder and who should it be but Elen?
“I thought I might come tuck you in.” she said.
I grinned, Elen used to tuck me in every night when I was little, but I was too old for such things now. I would miss Elen so much, she wouldn’t be able to come see me off at my new school because it would be unfitting for a girl like her to make her own way back. Elen was the younger of my two nursery maids and had been hired when she was but twelve years old when I was a baby. The two of us were firm friends.
“I wonder what the other girls will think of me there.” I said as she sat on the side of my bed. “What if they think I’m just some girl from the colonies and not worth their notice?”
“Nonsense!” Elen said soothingly. “They will think you are just wonderful, just like we all do. Who on God’s earth couldn’t love our little Bobbie?”
“Thank you Elen!” I gave her a big hug.
“Oh, sweet-pea!” Elen bent down and kissed me.
“Now you better get to sleep, you have an early start and a big day ahead of you tomorrow!”
“Goodnight poppet.”

6th Nov 2012, 12:58 PM
Chapter Three: A New Begining
I awoke that morning in the sleepy hours before sunrise. This was really happening, I was really going on a ship and sailing to Fraitessa and attending school for six months. This was happening. It still seem unreal. Our carriage ride to the coast was three hours. Mother slept on and off. Me? I was far too excited. The port was like a whirl, people going about their business, people not knowing what their business was and people sticking their noses into how other people were doing their business lead to a lot of shouting, but I noticed that when they saw us they at least shouted only using words I was supposed to know. Father made the time to see Mother and I settled into our cabin and then he was off, attending to whatever it was he attended to while mother and I straightened out what was to be our home for the next fortnight. Yes, my great sea voyage was only to be two weeks, but I was still excited.
At 8am we set sail. I stood and watched the Highlands slip away.
“Goodbye.” I said. “I’ll see you again in half a year!”
The voyage was calm but mother still found a way to feel seasick and so I enjoyed having the run of the ship. Within the first week I’d been everywhere from the crows nest (that only took me half a day of wheedling one of the lookout boys) to the galley. I mixed with the sort of people I’d never really talked to before in my life— if you don’t count servants— and they pandered on my every whim. The most eventful happening during the voyage was my ninth birthday. Father held a proper party for me with mother and the officers and I stayed up celebrating after mother had retired. I was on my way back to our cabin when I heard:
“Psssst! Bobbie!” I turned my head and saw Jim, the ship’s boy, beckoning me over to the starboard side of the ship.
“What is it?” I asked.
“Come with me, I’ve got a surprise!” I followed him. Despite the vast differences between us, Jim and I were of an age and had instantly got along very well.
“Where are we going?” I asked as he led me into a dark room.
Suddenly the lanterns were unshielded and I was facing my second birthday cake of the day!
“We couldn’t let those fancy officers be the only ones to throw you a party!
“Happy birthday to our favorite captain’s daughter!” Stanley, the one who’d taken me up to the crow’s nest, yelled. We had a fine time.
The cake wasn’t anything as grand as the cake I’d just enjoyed in the officer’s dining room but I enjoyed it all the more knowing the men had given up some of their rations for it. It was a real treat.
Two weeks after we left we arrived in Fraitessa and the first thing that greeted me was a busy, noisy port. I made my way with my mother and father past the sailors and the fish mongers and into the city itself.

Here it was no less busy, though much more refined. Ladies in beautiful clothes walked the paths, splendid carriages pulled by even more splendid horses rattled along the streets. The smells of warm bread wafted out of a bakery and my nose could smell the sweet scent that accompanies a street sweet vendor. The colours. The sounds. The smells. All were an assault on my senses. Before I could begin to take them in we standing in front of a beautiful house.
I paused at the gate. I had a strange impulse to run, like I was walking into a prison. I shook my self. I took a deep breath and with some good old Highland courage I took my first steps onto the grounds of my new school.
Up the path and past the garden. Could it be called a garden? There were no flowers yet— rather strange for spring when in the highlands flowers were bursting free wherever they could. I almost made it up the stairs when I paused on the very top step. I looked back the way we had come, even though I knew there was no hope of return now. Not for another six months
“Alright darling?” Mother asked.
“Yeah… I was thinking… it’s just I look like I’ve just stepped of a ship.”
“Well you HAVE just stepped of a ship.” Father said in the way only a clueless male could say.
“Oh sush!” Mother said to him.
“Do you think I ought to have changed?” I asked her.
“Sweetheart, I’m still in my suit, how do I look?”
“You look beautiful!” I told her.
“Well, there you go then, you look beautiful too. Don’t you fret, the girls here wouldn’t worry about that anyway. They might even think it is exciting to have their new classmate come from so far away!”
I smiled. Mother was the most wonderful woman in the whole world. Just then my ears heard a clattering of footsteps then the front door opened.
“Goodness, you’re here, it is you, isn’t it?” The speaker was a Highlands girl who looked to be a housemaid.
“The Hiltons, here with young Roberta.” Father said with a slight smile.
“Yes, that’s who I thought you were Sir! Lady D’Winter is with Mrs Roberts, that’s the cook, right now, but if you follow me she shan’t be too long.” The girl ushered us inside and began making her way down the hallway. “Leave your bags by the door please, our lad Tomas will fetch them up.
“What’s your name?” I asked her, taking a skip to keep up. “And are you the parlourmaid?” I asked, not quite sure of her position now that she was to be showing us into a room.
“Gladys Miss.” Said she, “and well, sort-of. In the mornings I’m housemaid and do for you girls upstairs too, in the afternoons I’m Parlourmaid, well, that’s what’s on paper, mostly I just do what’s needed. We had a Parlourmaid but she found another position, and Lady D’Winter didn’t think it warranted having another one so we are getting another housemaid instead and I’ll do a bit of both.”
“Are there any other Highland girls here?” I asked, pleased that Gladys was the chatty sort. I liked the chatty sort. “Amongst the students, I mean.”
“No Miss, ah, but don’t fret, we are quite multi-cultural here! We have one girl all the way from Fredonia!”
“Through here please.” Gladys ushered us into a rich parlour and indicated that we should take a seat. “Her Ladyship won’t be too much longer.” She said then was off.
Gladys was true to her word because it wasn’t long before an elegant figure swept into the room. I leapt to my feet and took in a tall lady in partial mourning.
“Ah, Captain and Mrs Hilton!” She said. “And this must be young Miss Hilton. How do you do?” She asked me.
“How do you do Lady D’Winter.” I replied, bobbing a small curtsey.
“Please sit down.” She said. We all did so. “Would you care for some refreshments?” she asked.
“That would be lovely, thank you.” Mother said. Lady D’Winter rang a bell.
“So I understand that you are one of our Alumni, Mrs Hilton.”
“Yes, I attended in the days of Lady Saffron, and if I do say so myself my years here were amongst the happiest of my life.”
“How kind of you! I am sure that at the end of her time here Miss Hilton will be able to look back and say the same.”
I wasn’t sure if an answer from me was expected here, but fortunately I was saved by the door opening a little too swiftly and a harried young girl entering the room.
“If you please, Madam, Gladys couldn’t come, one of the young misses—”
“I only sent for some tea, Dorcus.”
“Oh, yes your Ladyship.”
Here the girl paused. “Um, excuse me madam, if you please your ladyship…”
“Does tea mean just the drink tea, or morning tea proper or…”
“Just a pot of tea if you please, and something simple and sweet to go with it would be lovely”
“I— um—”
“Just pass that on to Mrs Roberts, she can give you what’s required.”
“Oh, yes, of course, thank you Madam, I mean your ladyship, I mean… thank you!”
With that the girl rushed out of the room and I suppressed a giggle.
“You must forgive young Dorcus.” Lady D’Winter said apologetically to my parents. “She is new and I fear the task of answering a call for tea may be above her for a little while yet. Still she is from a farming family and I find those girls prove honest and hard workers. I do like to take the chance to give these girls a good start in life, if I have to put up with a few blunders it is well worth it if I can advance their skills, I always say. Don’t you agree?”
“Oh, absolutely!” Mother said. “A kind and understanding employer is so important.”
She and mother exchanged chit-chat for a little bit while I sat there feeling a little uncomfortable and overlooked. Tea was soon brought in by Gladys and I was pleased for I would have hated to see Dorcus drop the tea tray or something dreadful.
“The shortbread was made just yesterday.” She said to me as she placed the tray on the table. “Mrs Roberts thought it might be nice for you to have a little taste of home.”
“Oh, do say thank you to her from me!”
“I will.” Gladys said with a smile.
“Thank you Gladys.” Lady D’Winter said
“Yes your ladyship.” Gladys gave a curtsy then left quietly.
Lady D’Winter waited until we had begun on our tea before speaking again.
“I trust that you had no problems with the instructions I sent to you?” She asked.
“No.” My mother answered. “It was all clear, darling Bobbie has everything required.”
I thought of the suitcase of Navy, black and white clothing that sat out in the hallway. A certain amount of liberty was allowed to be taken with the uniform, but we all had to use the same dress patterns and we had to stay within the limited colour pallet of the school colours. I hoped that at the end of six months I wasn’t sick of navy but I feared I might be!
“Excellent. As discussed in our correspondence, the fees cover the full year--”
“A year! I thought I was only here for six months!” I looked from Mother to Father then back to Lady D’Winter. Lady D’Winter must have just gotten it wrong, my parents wouldn’t pull a switch on me now… would they? Or could it be that was the “surprise” father had for me on my return, another six months here? I tried desperately to quell the churning in my stomach.

6th Nov 2012, 1:01 PM
Chapter Four: Welcome to Fraitessa

“Yes dear, that is what I am about to discuss, with your parents.” Lady D’Winter looked at me with a disapproving glint in her eyes.
I understood her point instantly; she was talking to my parents, not me and I was to be seen but not heard. But this was me they were talking about! Was I here for six months or was I here for twelve? I looked at my parents but they hadn’t seemed to have noticed, or at least neither of them piped up to say that at home they include me in discussions for which I was present and encouraged me to ask questions. Especially when they were about me! Nor did my parents give me a sympathetic look, it was like they didn’t even notice that my future for a whole year was being discussed around me! I sat back and let them talk it out
“If at the end of her six months here your daughter wishes to stay on, which I’m sure she might, I am more than happy to accommodate this and can keep a place open for her until your return at the end of the summer term. I hope that your young girl might one day be a proud alumni as you are Mrs Hilton. In your letter you mentioned that your daughter would be unable to join you for the summer break, is this still the case?”
“Yes, it is.” Father answered.
“She is more than welcome to stay here, but all the other girls will be going home. Should she be fortunate enough to receive an invitation to one of the girl’s homes for the holidays I am happy to judge the suitability of the girl and be given charge of giving or withholding the permission…”
“Thank you Lady D’Winter, but I give my permission for my daughter to spend the holidays with whatever girl she wishes, provided she has been invited. I am sure all girls at your school are respectable.”
“Oh, of course, thank you Mr Hilton.”
Well, one point to Father! At least I could spend the holidays how I wished… provided I made a friend here… My thoughts trailed off as Lady D’Winter continued.
“The behaviour we expect is what you would expect of any young lady and I am sure no girl would bring the school’s reputation into dispute. Miss Hilton,” I realised she was actually addressing me now and paid attention, “there are detailed rules to ensure you understand what is expected of you, you will find them on your bed upstairs and there is always a copy pinned to the inside of the bedroom doors.” She rung her bell again and Gladys appeared. “Would you send for Miss Luxum.” She said.
“Yes your ladyship.” Gladys bobbed a curtsey and rushed off.
“I’ve sent for one of the young ladies to escort you to your room and help you settle in. Miss Luxum is our star pupil and from a very respectable family, I am sure she would be more than pleased to answer any questions you have, Miss Hilton. Now Captain and Mrs Hilton, I will ask that you give your farewells to your daughter. My time as headmistress has taught me that parents lingering and extended farewells make it harder on the girls.”
“I quite agree.” Father said. “Come here poppet!”
I exchanged my farewells with my parents, I tried to pretend that I hadn’t noticed that Mother’s cheeks were a little damp as the last thing I wanted to do was to cry!
All to soon I was waving to them as they left and then I was alone in the room with my new Headmistress. Not for long, though, because just at this minute a girl entered the palour. She was wearing a beautiful lace dress and I knew her dressmaker as soon as I saw it. Even a wee lass from the colonies such as myself could recognise the most expensive seamstress in the on the continent the moment I saw her work.
“Ah, Mariah, now how are you settling in?” Lady D’Winter ased.
“Very well thank you, Headmistress. I was just finishing putting my drawers in order”
“I am glad to hear that dear. This is our new student, Roberta Hilton. Would you be so kind as to show her to her room and help her settle in? This will be her first term at school and I am sure it will all be very overwhelming for her.”
“Of course, I would be delighted, come along Miss Hilton!”
Before I knew it I found myself following this beautiful girl into the hallway and up the staircase. The prim and proper perfect girl changed out of Lady D’Winter’s presence and she appeared to relax a bit and chattered away.
“We’ve been sorting out our rooms.” She said. “We have to share, isn’t it shocking?”
“Um.. I—” I’d never had to share a room before in my life, having no brothers or sisters, but I thought he point of going to school was to spend time with other young people. Besides, if I had a roommate then at least I’d get to know one person pretty quickly.

“At the school I wanted to go to each young lady had her own room and two maids, lady’s maids mind, they weren’t there to clean or anything, that was the business of the housemaids. If a young lady wished she could bring two from home, unless she was foreign in which case she could only bring one. Of course, Mummy insisted on sending me here, she said a few years with more common folk would help build character. I suppose she’s right and the education here is actually very good. I’ll be going to a top notch finishing school of course, Mummy wouldn’t have anything else and I am so glad.”
I listened to her in silence. Great, a snob, just like I feared I would find. Despite what Elen and Mother told me the tight knot that had been sitting in my stomach all day must have suspected all the girls would be like this. “We can put you in With Josephine,” she continued “I think the two of you will get along very well.”
“Oh, thank you!” I said, glad that Mariah was helping me find a friend here, even though she had made it plain she though my company was beneath her without actually outright saying so. “Is she a nice girl?” I asked as we stopped outside a door
“Oh, well, actually I rather thought she would be a bit of a self esteem boost for you.”
“Whatever do you mean?” I asked.
“Why, I do declare,” Mariah looked me up then down in a way that made me feel very self-conscious. Was it my suit?
“She’s even fatter than you are!”
And with that Mariah turned on her heel and made her way down the corridor and went into a room a few doors down. Just as the door was closing I heard a chorus of giggles erupt before they were shut off by it closing.

6th Nov 2012, 1:07 PM
Chapter Five: Highland Courage
I stood outside the door and the impulse to turn around and run and not stop until I had reached Father’s ship flashed through my body. I pushed it back to a corner of my mind; that would not make my parents happy after all the hard work to get me here. Six months, that’s all I needed to stick it out for, six months. I could do that, right? It might even be, as Mariah had put it, “character building.”
I took a deep breath. Courage, Bobbie, where’s that highland spirit? I said to myself. Once I was ready, I reached out my hand and opened the door and took a step into the room.
Inside there was a figure sitting on the bed sorting through a pile of clothing. She leapt to her feet when I entered and I was faced with a happy faced girl with watery blue eyes and blond hair. We stood there looking at each other for a moment.
“Hallo.” She finally broke the silence. “Are you my new room mate?”
“Um, yes. Mariah said we might… uh… get along, she brought me up…”
“Oh, well that explains the long face then. Are you nice? I so hope you are.”
“Um, well, I like to think so!” I said a little more cheerfully.
“Oh, I am glad! I thought you must be for Mariah to put you in with me, but I thought I better ask just in case! I’m Josephine Cox, but please call me Jo. I know your name; it’s Roberta Hilton. I saw it on your luggage labels, here, see? Tomas brought your trunk up earlier.”
“Yes it is, but you may call me Bobbie.” I answered.
Jo squealed with delight.
“Well I never! Jo and Bobbie, I say we could have such larks together! Are you the sort of girl to have larks?”
“I don’t quite know… I never have had any before. I’ve never been to school before you see and… well, I have read a lot of school stories and they always seem such fun!”
“Never been to school… well I better help you unpack and show you where everything goes. These draws over here are yours and you have half the closet. Well, you can have a bit more than half if you need it because I don’t quite fill my portion up…”
“That will be your bed. We only have the one desk, but we are meant to do our studies in the study hall, this is for personal use. Trust me, you don’t want to be caught writing a letter in study hall! Especially if it happens to be to your brother and it contains some rather amusing descriptions of Miss Jane’s recent assaults on poor unsuspecting students… Some of the girls draw up a roster, would you rather do that or do you think we might become good friends enough to share and take turns without one?” Jo finally paused for breath and I was in marvel at the pace she had rattled along at.
“I—well, I don’t know. I’ve never had to share anything before.”
“Never had to share? Don’t you have brothers or sisters?”
“Well I never… Who on earth did you play with as a little girl then?”
“There was Elen, she’s my nursery maid, but I never had other children to play with. Our home is quite remote so there aren’t neighbours…”
“Not even the usual pack of village children or anything? You poor mite!”
“Well, I’ve never minded! I had dolls and books… I do love reading an make-believe, don’t you?”
“Well… I suppose you’ve never known any different! I’m not much for reading but I don’t mind a good yarn! You don’t know what you’ve missed out on, that’s what it is! Some of my best memories have been of times with my brothers and sisters! Why one time—but enough of that! Lets just try sharing to start with and if that doesn’t work we can look at drawing up— oh, but I’m sure it shall. Girls are more sensible than boys about these things. I should know, I have five brothers—”
“Yes, five! Try sharing anything with them, I dare you! Now, lets have a look at your case.”
Jo showed me where everything went and how Miss Jane liked the draws to be kept; apparently she was very particular and checked once a week. Miss Jane, I learned, was the second in command and as well as being a teacher was in charge of discipline. New words and information was fired to me at such a pace I wondered how I’d ever remember it all.
“Here are the rules.” Jo pointed to the paper pined on the back of the door. “But there are a hundred unwritten ones besides… or it feels like it anyway. Last term—“ Jo was interrupted by a knock on the door. “Come in!” She called. The door opened and a girl walked in.
“Henri!” Jo greeted her. “Bobbie, you must meet Henri, Henriette you know, but I’m sure she won’t mind you calling her Henri, Henri, this is Bobbie, she’s going to be a great friend of ours!”
“Pleased to meet you Bobbie!” Henri said. Her voice was soft and pleasant, not the booming jolly voice of Jo but the twinkle in her eye and the turn of her nose on her freckled face made me feel that she was full of fun and mischief.
“Pleased to meet you too! I said “Is your room nearby?”
“Just next door.” She said.
“The three bedrooms in this corridor are for our class only.” Jo explained to me. “There are six of us all up. Us younger girls all get the second floor and they try to group each year level to a particular corridor or area. The older girls get the third floor, lucky things! Miss Jane sleeps downstairs so they don’t have to be as quiet or as careful as we do!”
“I dare say they’ve earned it though!” Henri said
“True, I suppose. And we’re in a better spot this year, last year we were right on top of the dragon’s lair! Remember Henri?”
“How could I forget that! Your birthday and everything! That’s the reason we’re not allowed to share any more Josephine Cox!” The two laughed at the memory
“The dragon’s lair?” I asked, feeling a little left out.
“Miss Jane’s room.” Jo answered. “Because she’s such a dragon! Her roar burns!”
Henri giggled.
“Jo, you better not get caught saying things like that! Why it would be just your luck if—”
Henri was cut off by a sharp knock at the door. The door opened and in walked an old woman—no, not so old, but her face was pinched and her eyes narrow.
“Children! What are you doing standing about!? This time is meant for creating order. Miss Joans, what are you doing in here? Are these your quarters?”
“Um… no Miss Jane. I… I was just visiting, I mean welcoming our new student!” Henri stammered out.
“Don’t talk back to your elders and betters young lady! Back to your own work.”
Henri scampered away and Miss Jane lectured us for a little longer before leaving herself.
“I’m sorry Miss Jane” Jo was saying, “But I just thought—”
“Oh, you just thought, did you? News to me! You know the rules Miss Cox”
“Yes Miss Jane.”
“Now back to work and don’t let me see you breaking the rules again!”
“I see why you call her the dragon!” I said when we were alone again.
“Oh, that’s just a taste. Come on, we best get back to work or there’ll be real trouble for us!”
Jo and I set about finishing up our room, there seemed to be so much to do! We cleaned everything from top to bottom and gave all the furniture a milk wash tinted lime. But the decoration did not end here! Oh no, not for school girls! Our wall paper was dreadful but there was nothing much we could do about that. We did re-stain the wood to match that of the mismatched panel in the corner and paint the plaster moldings.
Jo showed me how to make my bed the “Miss Jane way”, she was quite particular in the matter of tucking, folding and corners, and I adorned it with the new duvet I had brought from home.
There was a furniture hire scheme and with some of my pocket money I acquired a darling little chair and Jo sweet talked “what a dear you are Tomas!” into hanging up a few shelves for us. Jo told me some of the girls went so far as to paint the floors or put down new carpet. It seemed we could do most things—within reason.
Lunch was taken in our rooms and was a very simple “something brought up on a tray” as Gladys explained it as she brought it in. Finally we had everything neatly away and were almost finishing the final decorations as darkness started to creep into the view out of our window.
“Jo, do say, have I got this painting straight?” I asked her
“A little to the left… no, the other left… I say!” “Say what?” I replied.

“What IS that? In the painting I mean, I mean, what is it meant to be?”
“Oh, I really couldn’t say! It was a gift from my parent’s friends Mr and Mrs Cooper to celebrate the birthday of their little girl Francesca. I’ve had it since I was a very little girl, Papa gave it to me. He said one day I would understand what it was but until then his lips were sealed!” “Oh, well I do love a mystery but that’s a funny one to have! Now, let’s finish up here then we need to dress for dinner! Bobbie…?”
“Sorry, I was just reminded about my parents all of a sudden.” I was almost overcome by a wave of homesickness and… and… do you call it parent sickness? Fortunately Jo was prepared for that.
“Yes well, best not think about them otherwise you will be homesick something awful!” She said to me. “Now come get ready!”

6th Nov 2012, 1:39 PM
Chapter Six: A Class Divided
“No no, that awful one with all the poofs, that’s it!” Jo said as I pulled one of my new dresses out of the wardrobe.
“It’s not that bad!” I said.
“Mine is, all white and poofey and ruffley and bowey and everything.” Jo pulled a mass of white fabric out of her side of the wardrobe. “On the positive side, we hardly ever wear these.”
“Really? Why not?” I asked as we dressed.
“These are evening dinner dresses.”
“Yes, I know, don’t we usually get dressed for dinner?”
“Most days us younger girls have dinner at midday then tea in the evenings.”
“Oh! What about the older girls?”
“Friday and Saturday they have dinner in the evenings, often there’s special guests, but during the week they have tea and supper in the evenings. And their evening dinner gowns are much nicer than ours. Still, if I have to wear an ugly dress I know I’m getting above the usual standard of meal, right?” Jo giggled and I joined her.
“I just don’t like the collar things” I said.
“At least your dress isn’t white. We had over half a bolt of this white at home and I’m sure it all went into this monstrosity.”
Soon we were dressed and we headed out into the hallway, where we happened to met up with Henri and her roommate Marjorie.
“Marjorie, this is Bobbie, the new girl I as telling you about. Bobbie, this is my roommate Majorie. She’s from even further away than you are!”
“From Freedonia.” Marjorie said.
“That’s a bit more special than the Highlands!” I said. “How long does it take to get here from Freedonia?”
“Almost three months…”
“Come on!” Henri said. “We better get going!”
“You three go ahead.” Marjorie said “I’ve—I’ve forgotten something!” She then dashed off.
“More like she wants to walk down with Mariah and Valerie!” Jo said rolling her eyes.
“Is she a nice girl?” I asked.
“She’s one of the enemy!” Jo said dramatically.
“Oh, Jo!” Henri said. “She’s not that bad! She can be really pleasant once you get her on her own!”
“Isn’t this a bit early for dinner?” I asked to change the topic.
“Oh, yes, but there is a rotation.” Jo said.
“There are three dining halls.” Henri continued. “Two small ones and one large. We younger girls dine apart from the older girls, especially at the beginning of a school year, so that we don’t disgrace our class with bad table manners! And that you don’t want to do!” Henri gave an exaggerated shudder. “The first two years dine at six and the next two at seven using the smaller dining halls then the older years dine at eight in the larger one. At Christmas the whole school has dinner and a ball all together, it is more than fun! We can wear whatever we like and there are all sorts of guests… you’ll love it!” “I won’t be here for that!” I said. “I am only to stay half a year.”
“Really?” Jo said as she pushed open the doors of the dining room. “Whatever for? Lady D’Winter doesn’t usually take girls for half years or terms only.”
“I am only here while my parents are touring on my father’s ship for six months.” I said. “I do have a full year’s place for me here but I’ve never been away from home before and six months is an awful long time! I expect I will be happy to go back home with my parents at the end of it. Lady D’Winter said I might stay the full year if I change my mind though.
“Oh, do!” Jo said. “Winter term is just wonderful!”
“I’ll see!” I said.
Soon we were all seated for dinner. I met Valerie who was very beautiful and very good friends with Mariah. We were seated Jo, Henri and I down one side of the table and Mariah, Valerie and Majorie down the other. Miss Jane sat at the head.
“Now Miss Hilton,” Miss Jane said to me after the thanksgiving prayer “I understand this is your first year here and indeed your first visit to Fraitessa. However, I still expect your manners to be the same high standard that we ask of all girls.”
“First, I expect you to know and use decent table maners, look to Mariah opposite you if you’re unsure and I am always here to help if you get very stuck.”
“Second, dinner conversation as a group is allowed but I won’t have chattering and gossiping amongst small groups to the exclusion of the others.”
“Roberta daarrling.” Mariah said leaning forward to give the impression of speaking just to me but using a voice which easily carried to both ends of the table.
“That spoon there is for the soup and then afterwards you work from the outside in. And do try not to put your elbows on the table as Josephine is doing, it IS considered such bad manners…”
“Thank you Miss Luxum.” I said, fuming. “I do know that much.”
“Why I am glad!” she said with fake looking smile. “We Fraitessians do try to spread culture to all the corners of the globe but one never knows how well the locals take it up!”
“Apparently not.” Said I.
“And my elbows aren’t on the table!” Jo said. “That’s my forearm!”
“So, how is everyone settling in!” Henri said, quickly changing the conversation away from dangerous territory as Mariah gave Jo’s arms a disgusted look.
“Oh, you other girls should see how we’ve done us our room!” Valerie said. “It is all pink and prettiness. My mirror from home arrived safe and sound, I went without it all last year and the ones here never show me the same as my one back home! I am so glad it survived the journey!”
“What difference can there be?” Jo asked. “Once you get past the frame, isn’t one mirror the same as the other?”
“Oh dear, please don’t despair! I am sure that once you are older you have every chance of slimming down a bit!”
And so the evening continued. It was with some relief that I made my way up to bed that night as even I had realised that our class was divided in two; us and them. This wasn’t at all like in the school stories I had read. In those all girls were nice and friendly with maybe one or two that weren’t, and by the end of the term those girls either left or were made into nice people by the majority of the girls. One thing I could be sure of was that we weren’t living in some old school story!

6th Nov 2012, 10:53 PM
I like your story and hope you keep writing it.

7th Nov 2012, 4:51 AM
I like your story and hope you keep writing it.
Thank you very much! It's good to be working on it again :) I've got another chapter that I want to get posted up here today which will put this thread up to date with my journal and then I have another chapter going up on thursday. :D

7th Nov 2012, 6:43 AM
Chapter Seven: Highland Temper

I don’t know how much sleep I got that first night, my thoughts kept wandering towards home and Mother.
It seemed like I had only just managed to close my eyes when a shaft of light forced them to open again.
I lay blinking, waiting for my eyes to adjust to the morning light. Morning. At least I’d got some sleep. Hearing footsteps I sat up and saw Gladys clearing out the remains of last night’s fire from our fireplace.
http://i1212.photobucket.com/albums/cc459/K_A_Edwards/Sims/Chapter%20Seven/Chap07-04.jpg“Good morning Gladys!” I said.
“Good morning Miss!” She replied. “Did we sleep well then?”
“Not too bad…” I didn’t want to admit being homesick and I cast around for a new topic. “Did you get that new housemaid yet or do you have to do all the rooms on your own?”
“Not yet miss, and I have young Dorcus Dunn to help me. Today she is helping by staying in the kitchen and not even going near a young miss’s curtains or clothes or fire!” Gladys winked at me and I giggled. I could imagine Dorcus would make a terrible housemaid! “But Tomas was a good lad this morning and fetched the firewood inside for me extra early, an’ the water too. An’ a bit of extra work never harmed nobody, that’s what me old ma used to say.”
“I hope that’s true, I might have to study awful hard! I’ve never been to school before!”
“Now there, enough of that frettin’. Plenty a lass who starts here hasn’t set a foot inside a school before and they do just fine. Now, I’ve set both your things out nice an’ neat so you don’t need to be searching for matching stockings before you’re a properly woken.”
“I’ve set your mail on your nightstand—” at this I sat up. “No, nothing for you but remember the sea post takes a good two weeks from home so don’t you be a frettin’. Make sure you wake that room-mate of yours is up if she sleeps past the waking bell as she does every other day and don’t let her dally over her letters as they look like they’re from those brothers of hers in which case don’t let her take them down to breakfast and get caught reading them at the table again and be sure to read those rules again and don’t be late to breakfast or you’ll as likely go without and get a scolding too!” Gladys bustled up her things and hurried off to continue her morning chores.
Despite Gladys’ assurances I was disappointed when I checked the mail just to make sure. There wasn’t anything for me. I crossed my fingers and hoped for tomorrow

The first day of classes went by in a whirl. In some lessons I was behind but I was ahead in others, but within half an hour I regretted not listening to everything Miss Brown had ever said about my Fraitessian Script handwriting. I vowed that as soon as she wrote me her new address I’d send off a letter to tell her she was right all along after all. It was admitting a defeat, but would show her just how much of a grown up young lady I’d become since my ninth birthday.

Mariah was clearly, as lady D’Winter had described her, the star pupil.
Jo was just as clearly the dunce and as luck would have it Jo ended up with the harder questions more often than not. When reciting our multiplication table in Mathematics she would always be called upon to give the answer for seven eights or nine twelfths rather than two eights or nine tenths.
When her turn came in geography it fell to her to point out some tiny country on the edge of civilization.

To make matters worse Mariah would always leap to give the correct answer whenever Jo, Henri or I gave an incorrect one. If one of her friends gave an incorrect answer, however, she would usually only give the correct answer after a bit of prodding from the teacher and gave it with an uncertain air. No teacher would scold an incorrect answer when even the best student was unsure of the correct one, but if a girl’s classmates leapt to correct her then they thought surely the incorrect answer must be the result of a lack of study and dedication.
All the teachers had the same solution for this which was to assign extra prep.

I found the school regime wasn’t that different to that of home only instead of servants telling me when to get up and when to study I had bells, and I found I sank into the routine more quickly than I’d expected too. I’d been at school a week and a half when a Wednesday afternoon found us all temporarily unattended near the end of Lady D’Winter’s art class. We were careful to keep chatter to a minimum as we didn’t want to be heard slacking off!
“Your painting is looking really good!” I said to Jo.
“I hope so! If I get any extra prep this week then I won’t have time to finish what I already have, let alone enough time to spend extra hours on this! But I can’t get this bowl right!”
“Like this!” Henri said leaning over. “Just curve the line like that, then put more shadows there and no one will notice it.”
“Oh, talking in class!” Mariah skipped over then sat herself on the table next to Jo’s station. “What are we talking about?”
“Nothing!” Jo snapped.
“You mind your manners or I’ll report you Miss Cox. Oh, Miss Joanes, doing another student’s work for her? Whatever would our dear Headmistress say to that? Does it count as cheating?”
“Mariah Luxom, you know very well I’m just helping Jo! See, look. Back at my own work, nothing to see here!”
“Well, you would have thought she would have asked MY advice! After all I’m the best artist in our class!” Mariah jumped down from the table. “let me see!” She said. “Here… Oh, woops!” Mariah’s brush dragged over Jo’s painting, leaving a big red diagonal streak like a gash across the canvas.
“Oh darling, I am so sorry!” she said in mock apology to Jo’s horrified squeal.
“The nerve of you Mariah, you did that on purpose!” I yelled.
“Roberta Hilton, how can you accuse me of such an act! I was trying to help, it was purely an accident! I’m sorry Josephine’s painting is ruined but I’m sure Lady D’Winter will allow her to start again!”
Jo burst into tears.
Before I could stop myself I let my highland temper boil over and gave her a good slap.
“And next time she’ll box your ears!” Jo yelled into Mariah’s stunned face.
“Roberta! Josephine! Just WHAT may I ask is going on here?” Who should have walked in just in time to witness my loss of control but Miss Jane. “Can our headmistress not leave you girls alone for five minutes!”
“I’m sorry Miss Jane!” Jo sobbed. “It was Mariah, she r—ruined my painting and I had w—worked so hard on it—”
“Nonsense Josephine! Do you expect me to believe poor Mariah played any part in this! You and Roberta will both stay after lessons to clean the art studio from top to bottom, neither of you will be allowed to join us in our nature walk on Saturday and you will both receive five black marks against your names.” Jo’s face fell. With a painting to re-do and now cleaning even I could not see how she was to get all her work finished.
“I also expect an apology to Mariah. Now, did any other girl have anything to do with this Mariah?” Mariah looked at Henri and I could just see her opening her mouth to accuse her of goodness knows what, and with the way things were going once accused she wouldn’t be able to convince Miss Jane of the truth either. But Henri was too quick for that.
“Excuse me, Miss Jane? I feel honour bound to own up for the small part I played in this--”
“Oh darling, you were hardly as bad as those other too! I could forgive you in a heartbeat!” Mariah changed tactics.
“Thank you for your honesty Miss Joanes but don’t for one moment think it will excuse you from punishment. You will join Josephine and Roberta this afternoon.” With that Miss Jane turned on her heel and stalked out of the room.

“Why Bobbie!” Jo said, wiping her eyes, after a moment of stunned silence. “I had no idea you had such a temper on you. I wish I could bottle that!”
“It’s the Highlander blood in me.” I said. “It gets the better of me… when provoked!” I gave Mariah what I hoped was a threatening look. “And on top of that, trying to dob in Henri. I’M the one that slapped you, though you well deserved it!”
“I— I didn’t tell! She turned herself in!”
“Only to keep you quiet! Who knew what story you were going to make up about me! I was going to tell her that after what you did to Jo’s painting that— that I jolly well cheered Bobbie on. In my head, at least.” Henri turned to Bobbie and said “At lease with me helping it won’t take so long!”
“You don’t know what I was going to say.”
“It’s not fair.” Jo sounded on the verge of tears again. “After what you did to my painting and now we have to stay back.”
“After what I did to your painting? I had a little, regrettable accident, and you two attacked me! What do you call that? Ladylike?” I don’t suppose I can expect any better from—”
“Accident! We all know it wasn’t!” Jo yelled back.
“Was too!”
“Was not, and it’s your fault Henri’s in trouble too!”

Tensions were starting to stretch again and I could just smell more trouble boiling over when, to my surprise, Marjorie came forward.
“Now, calm down all of you, Lady D’Winter will be back soon and there’ll be trouble for all of us if she finds you still arguing.” We all shut up.

“Good, now Jo, Mariah said it was an accident and she’s said sorry. It’s a shame but… I’m not sure you could have rescued that bowl anyway--”
“Yes she could have!” I cut in.
“It doesn’t matter now. And Roberta, we don’t slap people here, or box their ears. Miss Jane’s punished you two for that and Mariah did try to explain that Henri didn’t have anything to do with it.”
“No she didn’t!” Jo spoke up. “She just made it like she was downplaying Henri’s part.”
“How do you know? Miss Jane didn’t listen long enough for anyone to hear what I was going to say!”
“Since when does ‘not nearly as bad’ mean the same thing as ‘had nothing to do with it?’” I asked.
“It’s all right.” Henri said. “I don’t mind helping you all clean up. I’ll tell Lady D’Winter that it was a misunderstanding and she can believe me or not—”
“You can tell her? I think Mariah can tell her.” Jo said. “After all, she claims she tried to tell Miss Jane.”
“What do you think, Marjorie?” Jo ignored Mariah’s stammers and looked straight to Marjorie.

Footsteps in the hallway silenced our conversation and we all stopped our argument just in time for Lady D’Winter to enter. She surveyed the class with a serious look in her eye.
“Lady…” I started but she cut me off with a look
“I am very disappointed in you all.” She said. “I expected that I could leave young ladies of your age alone for a few minutes. Apparently I misjudged the moral fiber of some of you. I understand that appropriate consequences have been handed out and I will say no more on the events that shall never again be repeated in this school. Understood?”
We all nodded our heads. It was clear that Lady D-Winter would allow no discussion on the matter of who was to blame.
“Then class dismissed.”

8th Nov 2012, 1:52 AM
Chapter Eight: How not to slap a young lady

After classes finished, when the rest of the school was heading off to enjoy their free time before prep started, Jo, Henri and I headed toward the art room.


“I truly don’t mind.” Henri was saying. “I can afford a little bit of time to help you two, and at least I didn’t get any black marks!”
“And you still get to go on the nature walk.” Jo said.
“It won’t be as fun without you two.”
“Oh, but you must enjoy it for us!” Jo said.


“And bring us back lots of specimens!” I said. “I’ve got years of collecting to catch up on.”


“I wish you’d brought your botany book with you.” Jo said. “I’d loved to have seen some of your specimens from back home.”


“I had two trunks as it was!” I said laughing.”


We entered the art room and took a moment to look around.
“It’s huge.” I said.
“We just need a system.” Jo looked around.


“I wouldn’t know where to begin. Do we use cloths and soap or something?” I asked


“Haven’t you ever cleaned anything before?” Jo sounded astonished.
“Well… does my face count?”
“Oh Bobbie!” Henri started laughing and Jo soon joined in.
“Well, have either of you ever cleaned anything before!” I didn’t see what they were laughing at.


“I cleaned my mirror once.” Henri offered. “There was an incident with mustard. Don’t ask.”
“Oh that’s pathetic!” Jo said.
“Well what have you cleaned?” Henri challenged her.


“Heaps of stuff! I have five brothers. Not one or two or three but FIVE!”
“What about four?” I teased her.
“No, not four, FIVE. Seriously, you grow up with five brothers and you’re going to end up cleaning something to stay out of trouble. Believe me, after five brothers mustard meets mirror is nothing! They’ve left us a basket of cleaning stuff over here.”
We turned to look at the basket when we heard the door open behind us. We swung around in unison and…


“Marjorie?” we all said.
Um…. Hello.”
“Have you got a message for us?” Jo asked with a frown.
“Um… no I—”
“Then what is it?”


“Are you alone? Is Mariah coming back to finish her work on my painting?”
“Oh give her a chance to speak Jo!” Henri said.
“Thanks.” Marjorie smiled at Henri. “I— well, I just came to, um, to see if you wanted any help.”
“With what?” Jo still had the frown on her face.


Marjorie swept her hand around the art room. “This.”


“Because I told you.” Henri hissed. “She’s actually pretty nice once you get to know her—”
“You want to help us with our punishment?” Jo ignored Henri.
“Look, only if you swear not to tell anyone else, all right? I just feel bad over what happened. And, technically, Roberta was the only one that slapped anybody.”
“Oh, thanks.” I said. “And, um, thanks for the offer…” I looked at Jo.
“Yes, thank you.” Jo said without the frown, if not quite with her usual warmth.
“And you promise not to tell?”
We all agreed.


We all gathered around the basket and Jo explained to us what all the different things were for. There were scrubbing brushes and sponges and jars of powder and cakes of hard, yellow soap.


Jo soon got us to work cleaning. I can’t say it was difficult, but it was time consuming.


We mopped.


We scrubbed.


We washed.
We worked mostly in silence and soon were almost finished.


“Jo, do say.” Marjorie said tentatively as we worked. “What did you think I was here for?”


“Well, to be honest… well, I thought Mariah might have sent you to check we didn’t hurt her painting while we were in here.”
“Oh Jo… I’m sure that hasn’t even crossed Mariah’s mind!”
“Why, because what she did was a compete accident and she can’t see wrong in anybody?”
“No, I just mean that if she had thought you’d do that then she’d jolly well let you to get you into even more trouble. Goodness! Don’t tell her I said that! I just meant she wouldn’t want a confrontation, that’s all.”
“Sure that’s all.” Jo said sarcastically.
“You weren’t thinking of doing anything to her painting, were you?”


“Of course not!” Jo sounded shocked. “For a start that would be a horrible thing to do, and none of us are horrible I’ll have you know.”
“Except when our tempers get the better of us!” I joke.
“I must say, I’ve never seen anybody get slapped before.” Marjorie let out a small giggle. “I mean, if was very wrong and everything.”
“Would you really box her ears like Jo said?” Henri asked.
“You ask me now and I’ll say no.” I said. “But who knows what a temper could do.” I giggle.
“At least you wouldn’t spoil a perfectly good painting.” Jo said. We all looked at her painting. “I totally could have fixed that bowl.”
“I disagree.” Marjorie said.
“I know.” Jo said.
“She could have!” Henri offered.
“With about ten layers of paint. Sorry to say that in the time we have left tent layers of paint would just make a muddy mess. The better tactic would be to distract the eye from it all together.”
“What do you mean?” Henri asked.
“Doesn’t matter now.” Jo said. “It’s ruined.”
“I’m not so sure.” Marjorie took a few steps back and squinted her eyes and I took a glance around at the other paintings. Mariah’s, of course, was the best, with Henri’s coming in at a rather distant second. Marjorie’s painting was good, but while she had a better perspective and overall balance to her work than most of the others, she lacked in technique, her brush strokes were short and lacked confidence, and I noticed she already had the case of muddied colours here and there.
“I think it’s beyond saving.” I say.


“I agree.” Henri said.
“There’s a plant in Freedonia. Red fronds—”
“Tababen?” Jo asked, picking up. “Have you actually seen it? I’ve only seen drawings in books. The one with the white flower.”
“That’s the one. I’d hoped you’d know it. Can I try something? I mean, if it doesn’t work then the painting is ruined anyway, right?”
“I guess…”
“Only, if anyone asks, you saw the plant in your botany book and it sparked an idea. Please? I had nothing to do with this.”
“If you can get me out of having to start over then my lips are sealed.”


Marjorie began confidently mixing up colours then before I knew it the red streak on Jo’s painting began to transform. Behind Jo’s small, off center, bowl a vase with red fronds spilling out began to emerge. Because she was painting most of it on the background the paint was dry and she could quickly build up strong colours. That wasn’t the only thing I noticed. Her brush strokes were longer and almost clumsily placed. I soon realised that if I didn’t know I couldn’t tell her work apart from Jo’s.


Henri and I soon got to work finishing the cleaning.


Jo stayed to watch her painting transform.


Henri and I finished cleaning just as Marjorie was putting down the paintbrush. There’d only been so much she could do with the initial red streak. It had become a frond spilling out in front of everything else. It was so close to the viewer it was slightly blurred around the edges which excused the distortion it had made when Mariah had pushed her brush through the layers of wet paint Jo had applied during the lesson.
“There.” Marjorie said. “Don’t touch it again until our next class and it should be fine for the next layer.”


“I— I— I don’t believe it.” Jo beamed at Marjorie then threw her arms around her and planted a kiss on her cheek. “Thank you so much! Oh, do say you’ll be friends with us! You are nice and lovely and everything that Henri said, you don’t need to be friends with Mariah and Valerie. Oh, say we’re friends!”
“Mariah and Valerie are my friends.” Marjorie said. “And please don’t fling your arms so, you’ll choke me!”
“But you’re nicer than they are.” Jo coaxed. “And you already share a room with Henri.”
“And we’ll outnumber them.” I said “How much trouble can two cause against four?”
“Henri, tell her she doesn’t need those two?”


“We’ve been friends for years.” Marjorie said. “I can’t let silly school girl spats get in the way of our friendship. I’m sure you all understand.”


“I don’t.” I said. “Mariah’s nasty. Why would you want to be friends with her?”


“She’s not that— my godness, is that the time? We shall have to simply fly to get to prep!”
Hurriedly we began packing up and were soon making our way out the door. Before we parted I had to ask Marjorie a question.


“If you can paint so well, then…” I tried to find a nice way to put it.


“I’ll never be top of class, I’m not that bright. Coming first in just art doesn’t mean much and… well…”


“Yes. She wouldn’t be happy.”


“That’s unfair!”


“No, I don’t mind. Being first is important to her. It’s not to me. What right do I have to upset her?” With this we turned our separate ways so no one would ever know Marjorie had spent her recess being a nice, pleasant normal schoolgirl. But it wasn’t her I was thinking of now, it was Mariah. And already a plan was forming in my mind. We don’t slap people here Marjorie had said. But there was more than one way to slap an errant schoolgirl. Maybe those years of reading school stories would come in use after all.

10th Nov 2012, 11:10 AM
Author’s Note:

This is the first of the in-between chapter extras that I've decided to do. They are optional, you don't have to read them.
Without these the entire story is told from Bobbie's point of view.
With them you get insights from other characters.

The Extras will take the form of letters or diary entries and sometimes will be written by a character with whom Bobbie is currently interacting with (as in you'll get a different POV of an event you've seen narrated by Bobbie) but sometimes they will be from a character far away or even one you don't know yet and will give you a clue what else is going on. They will all be relevant to the plot but many will not have pictures to go along with them.

If yo’ve been paying attention then this should be an exciting extra! lol.

Lady D’Winter,

In response to your letter seeking a girl suited to the position of housemaid I wish to offer two suitable candidates for your consideration.

The first girl was christened Mary Brooke which I find a most suitable name for below stairs. She is two and twenty and has been in service since her tenth birthday. Her most recent position was head housemaid for Mrs Beauch of Fraitessa for three years and as you will see from the attached reference Mrs Beauch found her an exemplary servant. You will also note from the attached references she has also served as parlor maid on several occasions and has an unstained record. I Highly recommend her for a sophisticated establishment such as yours.

The second girl I wish to put for your consideration was christened with the unfortunate name of Clemonce De Brenyan but answers very well to Clair which I’m sure you wll agree is a far more suitable name for below stairs. She is eighteen years old and entered into service at the age of fourteen when her family fell into misfortune. She is a hardworking girl and I am sure she would be easily trained to meet your requirements. You will see from the attached reference from Mrs Dun that she found her to be most suitable in her position as junior housekeeper.

If you wish to arrange an interview with either or both of these girls I am more than happy to arrange this. As usual I have included the particulars in regards to payments on the attached sheet.

On a final note, I’m sure over the years the two of us have become good friends and you will overlook me being so bold, but I wish to bring another girl to your attention. Her name is Frankie and we estimate her age to be about eight years. She comes with no documentation and I cannot provide you with her christened name or birth date. She was born into service and has been in the service of Mrs Cooper of Braklesie for as long as she can remember. She is a hardworking girl well suited to the scullery of scrubbing floors. She has been sent to me because Mrs Cooper no longer has a use for her and as usual I’m expected to find what to do with her. If you could find a place off the books for a girl such as this I would be more than grateful and I’m sure you would find that my fee most accommodating in this instance.

Many Regards,

Miss March.

15th Nov 2012, 7:07 AM
“We can’t beat her.” Jo said.


It was Thursday morning recess and it was the first chance I’d had to sit down with Henri and Jo together to discuss my plan. I’d gathered them into a quiet corner of the garden as soon as Geography had finished and I was now trying to explain it.


“None of us is good enough.” Henri agreed. “Don’t get me wrong, if one of us could become dux of the class then that would be wonderful—”
“Not to mention the best way of slapping Mariah I’ve ever heard.” Jo put in.
“Yes, but she’s first in every lesson of every class, how can you take that away from her? I’m all for pranks and larks but if you’re talking about anything immoral… well, I’m not sneaking tests out of teachers draws.”
“No, nothing like that! I’ve got more moral fiber than that!” We all giggled thinking of Lady D-Winter’s comments the day before. “But think about it, we don’t need to make one of us dux. All we need to do is ensure that in each class someone else comes first.”
“Well it won’t be me coming first!” Jo said. “I don’t mind so much, but it would be nice to put Mariah in her place a bit!”
“And why not? What are you best at, Jo?”
“Nature studies.”
“Jolly good from what I’ve seen. You can answer anything I want to know. If you were more confidant and volunteered answers on our nature walks I’m sure you’d get them right.”


“But we’re not marked on that, we’re marked on our book work.” Jo said. “Whereupon I spell every other word wrong and draw my silvercrest ferns to look like heartleaf and even though I try to make the caption clear I get told to take more care over my work.”
“Henri can help you with the drawings, and if you write everything out before hand I can correct your spelling for you.”


“Is that— would you— is that allowed?” Jo looked from me to Henri and back again.
“I don’t think it’s against any school rule.” Henri said slowly. “We can’t have another girl do our work for us but we’re encouraged to work together.”
“And it will still be your own work.” I said. “So that’s Jo for nature studies. Whose next?”


“I can do art— maybe.” Henri offered. “I can ask, anyway.”
“Marjorie, you mean?” Jo asked.
“She might help me after hours. She won’t go for first herself, but between you two and me I rather think she’d like to see her beaten.”
“Why not try to encourage her to just do her best?” I asked. “I’m sure she’d beat Mariah and WE’LL still be friends with her.”
“Bobbie, Marjorie can’t just choose not to be friends with Mariah.” Henri said.
“Why not?”
“To start with their mothers are very close. The met when Mariah’s mother did a year as a missionary in Freedonia and have kept in touch ever since.”
“My mother did that.” Jo said. “Back then after finishing school nice young girls did a year bringing good to the far reaches of the world. She was to spend a year in Ghana.”


“Your mother spent a year in Ghana?” Henri sounded surprised by the distraction.
“No. She met a nice young man over there doing the exact same thing. Turns out they had grown up a few streets away from one another but had never met. She’d been there two months and next thing you know they get married and come back home— yes, in that order. It caused quite a scandal with rumors and gossip until my eldest brother was born ten months after the wedding.”
“So their mothers are close…” I prompted Henri.
“Sorry. Yes. Marjorie lives with Mariah in the school holidays and Mariah’s parents oversee her affairs while she’s here. Then, if that wasn’t enough, Mariah’s father owns the company Marjorie’s father works for.”
“I had no idea.” Jo said.
“She told me everything last night.”


“Poor Marjorie.” I said. “That is much worse than having to be polite once a week to society ladies who pinch your cheeks.”
“Well I wouldn’t be fiends with anyone I didn’t want to… oh don’t look at me like that Henri! Yes, she’s in a fix, but will she help you with your art?”
“I think so. Bobbie, you’re next. I think you’re almost a match with Mariah at spelling.”
“I am when we spell out loud. Only the written tests I get marked down because you make some of your letters differently to the way we do in the Highlands and it looks like I’ve spelled words wrong when I haven’t.”
“I can help you with that.” Jo said with a big grin on her face. “I’ve still got all my old handwriting books, I’ve been meaning to go through them but I never find the time. They’ll teach you how to form your letters our way.”
“That would be very helpful! Than you Jo.”
“And if both of you help me manage my time I can beat Mariah at sewing, hands down!”
“Really?” Henri asked.


“Yes, I’ve very good you know.” I smiled to see Jo so confidant of her abilities. “I can make mends so neat you can’t see them and I can usually tell if a pattern will fit or not by looking at it. I do have five brothers, you know. Things need to be mended before mother finds out. Only all my other lessons take so much of my time my sewing always gets left to the end and rushed through.”
“And then you get a black mark for having your light on after lights out so you can sew.” Henri smiles at the memory.


We spent the rest of our recess discussing our strengths and weaknesses and assembled quite a list. All too soon we were interrupted by the bell to return to class and we all leapt to our feet.
“Here’s to operation beat Mariah!” I cheered.


“Lets make a pact.” Jo said.
“A pact?” I asked.
“Yes, everyone put your hands out like this.” Jo put her hand our and we all followed suit.
“Now, I swear to do everything in my power—”
“So long as it’s not immoral or against the school rules—” Henri put in.
“Yes, so long as it’s not immoral, to beat Mariah and put her down and thus saving our darling Bobbie from boxing her ears!” Henri and I giggled. “This is serious!” Bobbie scolded.
“I swear.” Henri said, stifling her laughter.
“Me too. Uh— I mean, I swear.”


And underneath the trees in the garden we made our pledge.
“Now we better fly off to class!” Henri said. “Getting a black mark for being late is not a good start!”
So off we ran

17th Nov 2012, 9:02 AM
My dearest most darling daughter Bobbie.
I cannot tell you how much your Papa and I miss you! I think of you a million times every single day and then more some. I hope you’ve settled into school and made some wonderful friends. If there is any girl there that doesn’t love you yet then there is a girl with no sense whatsoever!
Now my dear, this is a short note but you see it is wrapped around a bundle of letters. I’ve written to you everyday even when I had nothing to say. And you poor thing, we haven’t at port once until today so I haven’t been able to send them. Except for my last letter. Do you wonder how I did it? Well, sneaky me left it at the post office and asked the kind lady there to put it in with the post in two days time. I thought a few days into lessons would be a wonderful time to receive a letter from home, just enough time to get over the excitement and bewilderment of a new place but not quite enough time to get too desperately homesick. Were you surprised? Don’t say your old Mother doesn’t have a few tricks up her sleeves!
We’ve stopped unexpectedly at a port today but won’t be here for long so I’ll send these off to be posted to you with just this short note. Try to savor these letters because, my sweets, I don’t know when we will stop next. Perhaps if you opened one a day you could pretend each day’s post had brought you some new words from your loving Mama?
Keep safe, my darling daughter.
I love you.

23rd Nov 2012, 2:24 AM
Dear Diary,
Jo came to me today in a private moment to ask my advice. She had with her a letter. Bobbie’s letter. It was the letter she sent home ever so long ago but was returned undelivered. So she sent it again but then the mainlboats went on strike so we thought the reply must have been held up. I arrived today, the letter. It wasn’t a reply. It was Bobbie’s letter returned only this time “No longer at this address. Return to sender.” Was scrawled across the front. We can’t think what it means. Gladys had the sense not to leave it with the rest of that morning’s mail but to give it to Jo at a quiet moment so she could in turn give it to Bobbie in a quiet moment. Jo suggested that maybe Bobbie’s Papa has sold his house because he’s bought a better one nearer to civilization but I’m not sure even she believes that. For a start she hasn’t given Bobbie the letter yet. We’ve decided another day can’t hurt. It’s the soiree tonight and we want Bobbie to enjoy it as best she can.
What we’ll do come tomorrow, I don’t know. I would write and ask Mother but she is still on the ship with Father. Jo would write and ash her parents but they can’t send a letter back because they are still under quarantine. There must be a grown-up somewhere we can turn to but for the life of me I can’t think who. Suddenly I feel very alone in the world. I think Bobbie must be very brave.

Now, I must be off as Jo and I are spending the whole afternoon spoiling Bobbie as best we can.


23rd Nov 2012, 2:40 AM
Yes! Here she is! Frankie! Now, who is she? And what's up with the creepy sci-fi guy? A few of my readers have spotten him looking in at windows, what's up with that? Why does Bobbie have an ugly picture of a car... or something? When will Bobbie hear from her parents, surley she's due for a letter at lase, after all, we've seen in the added extras her mum has written some... right? I tried really hard with the pictures of this chapter, I hope you can tell!

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The sounds of the curtains opening woke me up. Saturday. My heart did a little skip before it sank again. No nature walk for me today. But at least I had Jo to keep me company. Saturday also meant no classes and I’d been looking forward to it all week. I sat up in bed and looked to Gladys clearing out the grate from last night’s fire. Only it wasn’t Gladys.


“Hello.” I sad.
“Oh!” The figure jumped and span around, startled. “I didn’t mean to wake you. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t mind that, I don’t! I think I’m meant to pretend to be asleep until you leave the room anyway, like Jo does—”


“I’m not pretending! It’s too early!” Jo protested sleepily.
“Are you the new housemaid? Gladys said that one had been asked for.”
“I’m not sure. I’m new, but not a housemaid as such.”


“Miss.” Jo said sleepily without opening her eyes. “You’re supposed to call her Miss when you speak to her.”
“Oh, uh—” the girl looked from Jo to me then back again. “I’m sorry— Miss.”
“Better.” Jo sat up and rubbed her eyes. “Lady D’Winter’s always taking on girls new to service, you need to learn fast or there’ll be trouble for you. Oh, you’re young! Too young to be a housemaid.”
“I know, but— I mean, I know Miss, but— I’m sorry, is that right?”
“Yes.” Jo said.
“Thank you Miss.” Jo corrected.


“Thank you Miss.” The girl repeated. “I was told I was to do anything that needed doing. Gladys has the toothache something terrible this morning so I’m to do her work while she lies in the kitchen with a compress on her face to ease the pain.”
“What’s your name?” I ask, not wanting to hear the details of Gladys’ toothache.
“Frankie.” She answered.


“Frankie, Miss.” Jo flopped back down on her pillows. “It’s too early!”
“Well, I better go, I’ve got stacks more rooms to do—”
“Please excuse me Miss, but I have the other young misses to see to.” Jo said without lifting her head from her pillow.
“Um, yes, that, Miss, um, thank you Miss!” the girl hurried from the room.
“You shouldn’t pick on her so!” I scolded as soon as she was gone. “She’s just learning.”
“Pick on her? I was helping her. She’ll get in trouble if she doesn’t learn fast. Think what would happen if she had to speak to Mariah? Or worse, Miss Jane or Lady D’Winter herself.”
“Well, they should be understanding. Lady D’Winter told me herself that she trains up young girls to give them a good start in life and that we have to excuse—”


“Ha! Don’t tell me you believed that?”
“Yes… doesn’t she?”
“She buys cheap labour where she can is a more accurate way to put it.”
“Oh Jo…”
“It is the truth, and I swear to it! Oh, no expense spared where it shows to persons of greater importance and influence than us, but mark my words, she got Frankie because she was cheap. And she left the mail all the way over on our desk, be a peach and fetch it, would you Bobbie darling!”
“Fetch it yourself lazy! It will be for you anyway!” The bitterness in my words came from the fact that in the almost two weeks since I’d been here I was yet to receive a letter. True, it took two weeks for a letter to get to Fraitessa from the highlands but it had been four since I’d left home.


“Actually, there is one for you!” Jo said as she looked at the letters.


“Really?” I scooted to the end of my bed. “Pass it here, who’s it from? Is it from Miss Brown? I’m expecting one from her with her new address, she has a new position—”


“A Miss Gr— not sure. Must have been raining somewhere, the ink has run.” She passed it over.
“It has been through the wars.” I said as I tore it open. “Oh, it’s from Elen!”
“Well, that’s nice!”
I prepared to enjoy a good read, but Elen’s letter was disappointingly short.
“She’s writing from her mother’s house.” I told Jo. “Her mother has been poorly so she’s gone home to care for her a bit… oh bother!”


“She hasn’t written her mother’s address except on the envelope and that’s so badly run that I can’t read it.”
“Oh well, I’m sure she’ll write again.” Jo said. “Or you can send your reply home and they’ll know where to forward it too. But listen to what my brother says—”
“Oh goodness, I better not!” I said. “That’s the next bell and we’re not even begun dressing yet, we’ll be late!”


We left our letters and helped each other to turn our mattresses, as rules dictated must be done every Saturday, and I prayed that Miss Jane wouldn’t choose this morning to inspect our beds because the corners on my sheets had looked better.


We scrambled into our clothes and rushed out when we heard the breakfast bell, Jo still buttoning her belt and me fastening my collar.


After checking the coast was clear we dashed out and ran across the landing, breaking one of the many school rules about proper behavior in hallways.


I skidded to a halt at the top of the stairs when I heard footsteps below but it was only Gladys.


We took the risk of running down the stairs and across the entrance hall knowing Miss Jane might appear any moment to catch us doing something so unladylike as running!


Soon we were pushing open the doors to our breakfast room and were relieved to see that while we were the last of our class, we’d at least arrived before Miss Jane.


“Phew!” Jo said. “I can’t believe we beat the dragon, could you imagine Miss Jane if she knew we were late?”


“No need to imagine Miss Cox.” We spun around to see that no other than Miss Jane standing right behind us.
“And your tardy has not gone unnoticed, nor yours Miss Hilton.”
“No miss Jane.” I said.
“Sorry Miss Jane.” Jo said.


“The two of you are to return to your room at once and to remain there for the rest of the day, in which time you shall both meditate upon your behavior. If by tomorrow I do not see two reformed schoolgirls then you will both find yourselves in Lady D’Winters office answering serious questions about your future in this fine establishment. Go.”


“But—” Jo started.


And without another word we both turned and left our class to their breakfast and returned to our room.


“I can’t believe her!” Jo broke out after she slammed our door behind us. “Bobbie, I’m so sorry! Me and my big mouth has us both in trouble.”


“Well, I got you out of the nature walk with my Highland temper so we’ll call it even then.”
“But a whole day trapped in our room! What are we to do?”
“Well, you can start by telling me what your brother wrote. Which one is this from?”
“Is that the one that nursed the foal?”
“No, the one that spent the night in the tree. Listen.”
Jo related the latest gossip from her brothers’ school, which sounded far more interesting than ours, and that cheered us both up.


“I wish we could have adventures like that.” I said. “It sounds much more fun than getting in trouble for slapping someone.”
“Or for being late to breakfast.” Jo said.
“I think it was rather the dragon comment that got her so riled.” I said with a giggle. “But still, I’d rather be facing the music after having a midnight feast or—”


“Ohhhh! Don’t talk about midnight feasts! Now I’ve just remembered how hungry I am! Why did I finish my sweets yesterday? Oh, I’m such a greedy girl.” Jo threw herself on her bed.


“Say, Bobbie, next time I try to finish my sweets do tell me ‘no, Jo, save them for when you need them’ because I’m sure to at some point!”


“I shall die of hunger, I’m sure of it!”


Just then we heard a tap on the door. We looked at each other, were we allowed to have visitors? The door opened a crack and a dark face peered through.
“Can I come in— um, I mean Miss—”


“Is that food?” Jo leaped off her bed. “Oh, come in, do!”
“Oh, keep it down!” Frankie entered and quickly shut the door behind her. “Mrs Roberts sent me up with it, but Miss Jane isn’t to know.
“Put it here on the windowsill.” Jo said. “That way we can brush any tell-tale crumbs outside. Oh thank you thank you, isn’t Mrs Roberts a brick?”
“She said you’d be pleased.” Frankie said as she put our breakfast down. Jo jumped onto my bed and sat down.
“We’ll have plenty of time to remake them later.” Jo said to me.


“Do say thank you to her for us, will you?” I asked Frankie. “And thank you for bringing it. Frankie…?”
The girl didn’t answer me. She was frozen, looking to the corner.
“Where did you get that?” She asked.
“What?” I asked.


“That.” She pointed.


“That’s Bobbie’s.” Jo said. “Some painting from someone-or-other and you need to learn to mind your manners or Miss Jane will lock you in your room without breakfast if you’re not careful!”
“Bobbie?” Frankie asked.


“That’s me.” I sad as Jo investigated the contents of the tray.
“And Miss Roberta to you.” Jo remembered to remind the girl.
“But how did you get it?”
“Why? What’s it to you?” Jo asked.


“My old employers had that exact same painting.” Frankie said.
“Couldn’t have.” I said. “That’s a gift from friends of the family, I’ve had it as long as I can remember and you don’t look any older than I am!”
“He did so! Mr Cooper had that—”
“Mr Cooper?” You were employed by the Coopers?”
“Yes, you know them?”


“Rather! Well, they’re family friends. I mean, I’ve never met them because of their daughter, they can’t travel, but my parents know them.”
“Their daughter?”
“Yes, she’s poorly. That’s why they live out at Braklesie, because of the fair weather, for her health. It was the Braklesie Coopers you were with, wasn’t it?”


“Yes, but they don’t have a daughter. Only sons.”


“No, they have a daughter, you must know her. Her name’s Francesca. She’s almost my age.”


“No, I— what did you say her name was?”


“Francesca.” I said frowning. The Coopers weren’t a big family and they only kept open one house, it must have been the same ones.


“But that’s m—”
“Frankie?” Dorcus’ voice rang out from the hallway. “Where are you girl? You’re needed in the kitchen.”


“I— I better go!” and before I could say another word Frankie turned on her heel and ran from our room.

25th Nov 2012, 9:18 AM
Authors Note: This is another of the added extras, a view outside Bobbie's point of view and a little something extra to my readers. I've got a poll on my blog where you can let me know what you think about the added extras by clicking here (http://futurespresent.wordpress.com/2012/11/25/what-do-you-think-about-the-added-extras/), or you can leave a comment here if you like.

Primary subject location unknown. Last known location is the Cooper estate at Braklesie but there have been no confirmed sightings. Possible location of secondary subject still unconfirmed but reconnaissance of the suspected local is a high priority. Attempts at questioning the locals have failed. Requesting extra training on dress, customs and manners to aid in the assimilation of local culture. Stepping back to a observational role until the necessary training is received.

29th Nov 2012, 12:21 PM

“Come on Bobbie, eat something!”


“Food! How can you think of food at a time like this?”
“A time like what?”


“Didn’t you listen to a thing that just happened then?”
“Ummm… something about your painting?”
“Yes, but look at it Jo, there can’t be two like it.”
“Maybe your friends had two made and sent the other to the Coopers that Frankie worked for.” Jo suggested.
“It’s a really small family, Jo. I don’t think there’s another household of them in Braklesie.”
“Well, they had two made and kept one for themselves.”


“Then why doesn’t Frankie know their daughter?”
“Oh, who knows. Ask her next time you see her. No do eat some breakfast!”


I joined Jo and, to my surprise, found I had quite an appetite.
“Well.” Said Jo, after brushing the crumbs out the window. “We might as well make use of our time, I’m going to re-write my botany book.”


“But I want to use the desk.” I said. “I can write to home, just like you said, and they can forward the letters on.” I desperately wanted to speak to Mother and not just because I missed her. I wanted to ask her about the Coopers. I tore my mind back to the Highlands. The letter to the Coopers Mother handed to Nanny. Nanny’s reaction… surprise? Disapproval? Elen’s comment about the letter, another one, she had said, and not in a good way. Had Mother been sending too many letters to the Coopers for some reason? My mind took me back to the day Mother gave my new dresses the seal of approval. There’d been talk of a letter then—”


“Oh curl up in your chair and write!” Jo said. “I need the neatest handwriting for my schoolwork, this was your idea, remember.”


“No, I want neat handwriting too, so my old governess can see how much it’s improved.”


“Oh Bobbie, we’re not having a disagreement are we?”
“I— I hope not.”
“Good, because we mustn’t, you know! Friends like us have to stick together. Besides, if we do there’s nowhere to escape away from each other today.”
“I’m sorry.” I said. “I’m only anxious that it makes this evening’s post.”


“And I’m sorry, I should have thought, you haven’t had a letter from home until today, of course you want to answer it as soon as you can.”
“Do you think I’ll be allowed out to post it?”
“Probably not.”
“Then you take the desk, no sense me rushing to get it written if I can’t post it.”


“No, you take the desk! Really, I don’t want it! I was just being stubborn, it’s one of my faults. Actually I was really hoping that as soon as I mentioned schoolwork you’d come up with some game instead because I simply can’t! It will be a while longer, though, before boredom drives me to my schoolwork!”


“All right!” I said giggling. “But I can’t have you being bored if I’m writing letters. “I bought some games with me, they’re in the box in the back of the wardrobe, feel free to go through them.”
“Oh goody! May I? Thank you. I love other people’s things. They think they’re old and boring and to you they’re new and interesting.”
“There’s nothing special.” I said. “And do ignore how babyish some of it is, I was only eight when I packed.”


“And now you’re nine and all grown up!” Jo teased.
I made a face at her then sat down at our desk to write.


The arrangement worked quite well and I was pleased. I wrote about it in my letter to Miss Brown so she could see that I’d learned how to share already.
I also wrote a letter to Elen, and had almost finished it when Jo called out from behind me.


“Look! I’m a fairy princess!”
“I only brought that because I thought we might need a costume for a play or something!”
“I love dressups! I hardly ever got to play at home!”


“Me too.” I admitted. “Well, about the loving dressups, not about the never playing part.
“I do declare you’re such a goose, Bobbie Hilton! What’s wrong with loving dressups? Doesn’t every girl?”
“Well, mother told me to leave them at home… but I snuck them in!”


“Thatta girl!”
“There’s a wand in there!” I giggled.
Jo pulled it out.
“It’s heavy!” she said.”
“Go on, give it a wave!”





Jo did and to my surprise she let out a gasp of shock and dropped it.


“Careful! I’ve had that as long as I can remember and I don’t want it broken!”
“But, what was that?
“What was what?”


“There were sparkles Bobbie!”
“Well, of course! It’s a wand!”
“But how does it do it?”


“Magic.” I explained.
“There’s no such thing as magic!”
“There is too! How else do you explain the evidence before your eyes?”


“But… where on earth did you get it?” Jo asked, sounding astonished.
“From the fairies at the bottom of my garden.” I managed to keep a straight face until I saw the look on Jo’s whereupon I burst out laughing. “You’re the goose now!” I said. “It was a present from… well, from the Coopers, actually.


“But you don’t really believe in magic, do you?” Jo asked.


“How else do you explain things you can’t explain?” I asked before turning back to continue my letter.


“Henri would know.” Jo said, interrupting my thoughts again. “I’ll ask her! We both can! Deal?”


“It’s magic!” I replied, dipping my pen into the inkwell an resisting the urge to roll my eyes.
“No, there must be a way it works… like a clock. Clocks aren’t magic.”
“I— oh bother!” I reached for the blotting paper— my distraction had caused a blot right when I’d almost finished a blot-free letter. But I wasn’t re-writing now. Besides, Elen wouldn’t mind! “How about we make a deal?” I said. “I’ll help you investigate magic if you help me investigate Frankie and my painting.”


“That’s a deal!” Jo said and I left her waving my wand while I finished off my letter.

My letters finished, I folded them up into envelope folds, wrote their names on the front and sealed the backs. I then placed both the letters into one factory-envelope and wrote my home address on the front in my best Fratessian script.
“Now what?” Jo asked.


“Well, now I think you better work on your botany book.”
Jo groaned.
“Just think of Mariah’s face when we put her down!” I encouraged her. “Lets just clean this up first.” It didn’t take long to pack everything back into the box and I helped Jo store it at the back of our wardrobe. We pushed it into the corner with a thump.


We exchanged glances. Did our wardrobe just thump back at us?
Jo hit the back of the wardrobe with her fist.
Bang. Bang.
“Well I never!” Jo said.
“Believe in magic now?” I asked. I was even more astounded when I heard a giggle, but it wasn’t Jo’s laugh!
“Silly!” She said, “that’s Henri’s room!”
“Sure is!” Henri’s voice sounded muffled. “My wardrobe backs onto yours, seems there’s no wall between, just the backing of the wardrobe!”
“Which is made up of boards, a couple of which look a little loose.” Jo said with a squeal. “Hand me that letter opener, Bobbie!”
I did and it was the work of minutes for her to pry the middle bottom board out of the back of our wardrobe.


“Hello!” Henri’s face appeared in the gap. “What timing, I was just putting my coat back when I heard you!”


“Just back from the nature walk?” I asked
“Yes, but you two didn’t miss out on much!” Henri wasn’t entirely convincing. “How are you two doing? Driving each other nuts yet?”
“Not quite!” Jo said.
“N— actually yes.” Jo said. “I must be at least lunchtime by now?”
“You and your stomach!” I shook my head. “We managed to get breakfast!” I explained to Henri.
“Well, we had a picnic lunch and I took a little more than I could eat so decided to save it for later.”


Henri pushed a mostly full bottle of fresh milk, an apple, a pear and some slices of bread slathered in butter through the gap.
“I say!” Jo exclaimed. “I never would have though of you stealing a bit of grub for two starving prisoners!”


“I didn’t steal it! It was left over and we were all encouraged to take seconds!”
“Don’t worry Henri!” I said laughing. “I believe you. I know, could you please do me a favour? I have a letter that I’d like to make the next post—”
“Certainly, pass it through.”
“Now that’s an idea!” Jo said. “We can talk to each other without leaving our rooms or without speaking. This could be useful in silence hours.”
“Oh Jo! You’ll be in trouble before you’re out of it!” Henri said
“It’s Miss Jane proof!” Jo protested. “And I’ll place the board back every time!”
“I’ve heard that before!” Henri said. “Look, I have to go if I’m to make that post!”
“Thank you!” I said as Jo replaced the board.
“Well, what now?” Jo asked me after we’d eaten.
“Re-make our beds, I guess.” I said. “Miss Jane could still do an inspection.” But my mind wasn’t on beds or Miss Jane. It was on Frankie and magic ad paintings and Francesca Cooper and all the coopers and on the secret in our wardrobe.
School was about to get a lot more interesting, I was sure of it.


“Lets have an adventure.” I said.

1st Dec 2012, 9:21 AM
Lady Luxum,
I with to express my gratitude for the kind donation you made in support of my humble establishment. It is only with the support of fine ladies such as yourself that I can continue giving the quality of education that the class of young ladies who attend my school expect.
I also wish to invite you and Mr Luxum to grace our midsummer soiree with you presence. It is organized by the older pupils and I am sure that as a lady of society yourself you understand the need for girls to learn important skills and become competent hostesses. We shall also be holding a charity auction and half the proceeds from this will go to a local charity run by the most respectable Miss Marsh which helps young girls of the serving class in between positions to obtain a new one— provided that they are decent, moral girls. The other half will go to aid our building repair fund.

Thank you again, most kindly,
Many regards,
Lady D’Winter

3rd Dec 2012, 11:50 AM
Lady D’Winter

I am more than happy, as always, to help the school that is educating my darling Mariah. I hope she is performing as well in all her classes as she states in her letters to me. Thank you for the invitation to the soiree, I agree with the need to teach the young ladies how to host such an evening as not all of them get the chance to learn at home as my Mariah has. I understand it is traditionally an evening for the older girls only, but may I enquire as to if any of the younger girls will be assisting?Provided of course, that they are respectable and well suited to society. I miss my darling daughter very much while she is at school and I would be certain to attend if I knew I was to see her and I’m sure the other guests would appreciate such a fine young lady as her being in attendance.

Many regards,

Lady Luxum.

7th Dec 2012, 8:02 AM
Thank you all for reading this far! You can see a sneak peek of some pics from Chapter 15: Abandoned here (http://futurespresent.wordpress.com/2012/12/04/couldnt-resist/) if you to take a look. I thought they were pretty :)
Also don't forget for those of you on blogger you can follow the updates there (http://kathleenssimstories.blogspot.com.au/) or you can follow the chapters on my wordpress blog (http://futurespresent.wordpress.com/).

We didn’t have an adventure that day. Or the next. Or even the day after that. We were woken by Gladys every morning, scrambled about our morning tasks and made it to breakfast on time. Monday brought the return of classes and Henri, Jo and myself threw ourselves at our studies which provided us with a more than reasonable distraction.


In art Lady D’Winter praised Jo’s efforts and pronounced her work “much improved.” Henri must have got some last minute help from Marjorie because she was rewarded with more praise than usual also, but it was still Mariah who took out top.


While other girls took advantage of the fair weather during free time, we spent our time with our books. I correcting Jo’s spelling, Henri helping her with her drawing, Jo helping Henri when her thread tangled when she was at her embroidery and both of them helping me with my handwriting.


“Brilliant!” Henri said. It was Friday and we were taking advantaged of an abandoned corner in one of the schoolrooms and I was practicing my handwriting.
“Miss Brown always said I could do better at it if only I applied myself.” I said.


“Miss Hilton! Mis Cox! Miss Joans, you too? What are you doing inside on a fine day like this?” Miss Jane came storming down the corridor. “Are you defacing school property?”


“Oh no Miss Jane.” Jo said as Henri backed away “we were just helping Bobbie with her handwriting, see?” Miss Jane looked at the blackboard with my attempts on it.
“I see… and why would you do such a thing?”
“That’s non—” I stomped on Jo’s foot.


“Because I asked them to help me. Because of what you said the other day, Miss Jane.”
“What I said?”


“Yes, about reforming ourselves, Henri’s helping us and we’re going to try to be model students. You were our inspiration.”


“Hmph. I see. Well mind that you do!” And with that she turned on her heel and marched off.
“Why Bobbie! I am impressed!” Jo said. “How did you do it?”


“Well, we weren’t doing anything wrong…” Henri said.


“Sometimes you just have to learn how to talk to grown ups.” I said. “And sometimes telling them it’s none of their business isn’t the best plan.”


“Yes, well, lets forget that, shall we?” Jo pleaded and we all laughed.


“Goodness!” Henri said. “There’s the bell, return to class, you model students better not be late!”

Miss Hudson came in twice a week to take sewing where we covered everything from fancy needlework to plain sewing and pattern altering. We’d just finished our tapestries and so were to start on a new project.


“I hope it’s more embroidery.” Mariah said as we all gathered in the classroom. “Though I expect to do a lot of that in finishing school, but one can never have enough decorations for when one gets married and has a house to fill.”


“If you’re talking about filling a house.” Jo said. “Baby’s clothes would be more useful. Every mother, even you, Mariah, needs to know how to sew those.


“Oh, they’re simple to sew, I’m sure.” Mariah said. “But the embroidery on MY baby’s clothes shall be the most exquisite. Why—”


But we never found out why what, because we heard footsteps in the hallway and all rushed to stand behind out desks.


Miss Hudson entered the room and to my surprise she was followed by Lady D’Winter.


“Good afternoon young ladies!” Miss Hudson said brightly.
“Good afternoon Miss Hudson.” We chanted back. “Good afternoon Lady D’Winter.”
“Please be seated.” Lady D’Winter commanded. We all sat down.


“Now, I have an exciting new project for you all to start.” Miss Hudson told us “It is very advanced, but I’m sure you are all ready. But first your headmistress has some news for you.”
At this we all sat up.


“Now girls.” Lady D’Winter started. “For those of you are not yet accustomed to the traditions of our fine establishment, you will be interested to learn that to celebrate Midsummer the older girls host a soiree. They invite appropriate people of high breeding and it is not something the younger classes are considered fit to attend.” Lady D’Winter looked at us all with steely eyes, and I could swear she looked at Jo, Henri and I for a little longer.
“No Lady D’Winter” a few of us murmured, because it seemed some response was expected.


“This year, they have decided they will invite girls of the age nine and older, not to attend the soiree as guests you understand, but to perform a piece and assist in the handing out of refreshments.” Lady held her hand up to silence the excited ripple that spread through our class.


“Now we have a reputation to uphold and we won’t allow just any girl to represent our school. All girls attending must have shown not only that they can conduct themselves as young ladies, but that they can do so without detriment to their academic success. For this reason any girl wishing to attend must ensure that she acquires no black marks between now and the last evening of this term. Furthermore, I expect this girl to have attained first in at least one of her classes this term. The names of these girls shall be added to the program that must be at the printers by the third day of the summer term so don’t expect to slack off now and make up for it later— it will be too late. That will be all.”


With that Lady D’Winter swept out of the room.


“Oh girls!” Mariah said. “How exciting! Shall I sing or recite or play? What do you all think?”


“That’s enough Mariah.” Miss Hudson said. “I know you’re excited, but we must to work now. I’m sure your next project will thrill you all and you have until the end of the term to finish it.”
“Ohhh, what is it?” Jo asked.


“Something that will be of use to any girl who hopes to attend the soiree.” Miss Hudson said. “We will be making evening gowns.”


We all squealed and clapped. Well, all except Mariah.
“It’s all right, you can do embroidery on yours!” Jo said and I giggled at Mariah’s scowl.
“I already have an evening gown to wear to the soiree.” She said. “Many to choose from. Why would I want make one?”


“Well I’m sure you won’t be bringing any with you next term.” Miss Hudson said. “There are no evening gowns on the packing list young lady! But part of the project is to make something you’d be willing to wear in public, so if you attend you will be wearing whatever you make in my class. Now, onto work. I have a book of fashion plates and some patterns here. Lets all take a look at them and decide what styles you would like to tackle.”
Did I mention Miss Hudson was my favourite teacher?
With Mariah subdued for the moment we all got stuck into designing our new dresses.





9th Dec 2012, 8:09 AM
Messrs Albert and Hadley Cooper

Dear Sirs,
It has been a lonely house of late. You know I can not wait to be old enough to go off to school like you two rather than having a tutor here at home. I hope you are both applying yourselves to your studies as much as I am here at home except I hope you are having more of a jolly time at it all. My new tutor, Mr Timmons, is very quick to the cane so I must be very mindful of my behaviour. But a lonely house doesn’t mean a quiet one! Not at all. You said to keep watch and report in so consider this my report.
The arguments, both the hushed ones and the shouted ones finally petered out. They kept their arguments behind closed doors and only shouted at night so I never got the chance to eavesdrop but I did hear one thing which was something about how we couldn’t just get rid of them. A few days later and our scullery maid has been dismissed. I know because Cook was complaining about the lack of help when I was stealing cookies from the kitchen. I’m not sure who else they dismissed but it seems a funny thing to argue about. Father is away on business now and guess what? We have a new scullery maid and she isn’t half as good as the old one. She’s older and when I try to sneak cookies she’ll say “Mr Edmund, it’s only two hours until your supper. Can’t you wait until then?” where as Frankie used to not only turn a blind eye but also save me the cut off ends from cooks baking to feed to the birds. The new one doesn’t do that.

I meant to write such a smashing (do you like that? It is my new word.) letter but I have to go to my lessons soon and it would not do to be late.
With many regards,
Your devoted and dutiful brother,
Edmund Cooper.

Didn’t I write a grown-up letter? If you two get up to anything please tell me all about it!

12th Dec 2012, 6:13 AM
Dear Eddie,
Bert sends his thanks for your letter and will write to you when he has time, he is working hard for his exams. In the meantime he said for you to mind Mr Timmons as it will do you well when you do come to school next year.
Interesting that Mother and Father’s disagreement passed. I thought that perhaps it was about money again. You will not remember but when you were born Father’s business was in some trouble. I was too young at the time to understand the details but obviously things picked up again. Now I’m not so sure. If the business was in trouble then they would they dismiss our cheapest servant then re-hire an older (and more expensive)one? I think not. I do not think that they would argue over such a thing as dismissing even a long standing servant such as Frankie. My thoughts are that there was some bad behaviour amongst he servants that resulted in their dismissal and the argument was over another matter.
Bert thought your letter was very grown-up though I didn’t read him the second part of your post script! Bert is in study mode so h hasn’t gotten up to any mischief however I may have some to report to you. Our school gates have our school crest on them. It went missing. One of the fellows in my form received a letter from his friend at another school to say theirs had gone missing also and a few other school were reporting the same thing. He (and I by association) have been invited to a meeting over the incidents, so I’ll let you know what transpires.
Now I must be off. A few of the fellows are planning on making toffee this afternoon. If it comes off then I’ll send you’ll a piece!
Your brother,

17th Dec 2012, 8:36 AM
Author's Note:
Sorry I was so late in posting this. Due to Christmas and working in retail I've been working 6 day weeks and crazy hours and have been pretty knackered. It was up ontime on my blog (and always should be) but it takes a little more work to get it up on here. I hope you enjoy anyway, despite the delay!

“But I thought we were walking together! Aren’t we friends too?” It was Saturday morning and Jo and I were rushing to get ready for the nature walk. Or rather, I was rushing and Jo was trying to read her letter she hadn’t had time to read before breakfast— though she’d still tried until I bucked her up. The morning’s post had brought the usual for me. Nothing.


“Of course we’re friends! I’m just walking with Henri today, she prom—” a knock at the door cut her off and a freckled nose poked through.


“Aren’t you two ready yet?”


“I am.” I said, pinning my collar. “Jo, you don’t have time to read that now! You’ll make us late!”


“Oh, there’s a trick to that!” Henri skipped in the room and plucked the letter out of Jo’s hands. “You rush and get ready first then read her letter to her while she’s dallying and buttoning up the wrong button to the wrong hole.”


“I have no—n oh, that’s what’s wrong!” Jo quickly put her buttons to right and Henri looked at her letter.
“Oh— it’s just from your mother. The way you had your nose stuck in it I thought it was something juicy from on of your brothers.” Henri sounded disappointed. Why the hurry to read it?”


“If I had a letter from MY mother I’d want to read it right away too!” I was still put out with Jo, but maybe if I sided with her she’d change her mind and walk with me on the nature walk.
“Well of course you would.” Henri said.
“If you all must know.” Jo scrambled her belongings into a satchel, “I wrote Mother to ask permission for Bobbie to stay the holidays with me as seeing as she can’t go home. I was trying to get to her reply—”
“She says yes.” Henri said flatly.


“Hooray!” Jo cheered and I grinned. At least she was still my friend after all. “Now I’m ready, put that letter down and come on!”


Henri put the letter down quietly and joined us as we sped out the door and down the stairs as fast as we could without actually running in the hallway and earning ourselves a scolding or worse— a black mark.


“You will come, won’t you?” Jo asked me.
“I—” of course I’d love to, but Jo cut me off.


“My brothers will all be home and we’ll have such larks. Why we have this little stream at the bottom of the garden and— Henri, what’s the matter? Why are you so glum?”


“Oh, it’s nothing.” Henri shrugged.”
“Of course it is! Now don’t keep it in!”


“It’s just, Oh, Jo! Bobbie! I also wrote my mother asking for Bobbie to stay the holidays and in the last post yesterday she sent her reply saying she’d love to have her, only I didn’t get the chance to ask her yet. But Jo asked you first, of course and I’m sure you shall have a jolly time with her and her brothers and sisters.”


“Do you have brothers and sisters?” I asked Henri.
“Yes.” She said. “But they’re all grown up now.”
“Why don’t I ask my mother if you can come too?” Jo said. “I’m sure she’d say yes.”


“But mine wouldn’t. I’m at school all term, she’ll want to see me, I know.”
“Well, how about we both go stay with you? That will be jolly, no boys! What do you say?”


“That would be lovely but I doubt very much Mother would say yes. Her and Father are getting ready to go abroad and I only got permission for Bobbie because she has no family near and I convinced Mother she was a quiet girl and wouldn’t be any trouble.”
“Well, I asked first, but you got permission first.” Jo said. “I think we’ll have to leave it up to Bobbie to choose.”
“I—” how could I choose? I really wanted to spend the holidays with Jo, I’d get to experience a live I’d never had before and it sounded like so much fun. But my short time at school had taught me how wonderful it was to have companions your own age. Would it be selfish to enjoy myself with Jo and leave Henri on her own?


“Only don’t decide now.” Henri said. “Think it over. Has Jo mentioned you’re walking with Marjorie today?”
“Ye— no.”


“Yes I did!” Jo said.
“No.” I said. “You just said you were walking with Henri.”
“Yes, because Marjorie asked Henri too so she could walk with you.”


“Oh. I just thought you didn’t want to walk with me.” I admitted with a smile. I felt like a weight had been lifted off my chest.


“Oh Jo!” Henri sighed.
“You silly goose,” Jo said. “Of course I want to walk with you, but we walk in pairs and I can’t walk with you both.”
“I never thought of that.” I said. And I truly hadn’t. At home if I wanted to walk with a particular servant then any one was at my beck and call. “So friends are like desks. You have to take turns.” I mused.


Jo laughed. “Truly, this week Marjorie did ask to walk with you, sorry I never got to tell you that part, but it is nice to walk with Henri as I don’t get to spend enough time with her as you.”


“I see.” I said.


Soon we were all assembled outside and Miss Jane instructed us to form two lines. Mariah and Valerie headed up the front and Marjorie and I the rear.
“I don’t want any trouble out of you two or you’ll both have to walk in single file.” Miss Jane glared at Jo and Henri. After she turned away Marjorie giggled.


“Jo led Henri into a few scrapes last term.” She said to me.
“So I’ve heard.” I said.


We started on our walk, which was more of a march than a walk, but was pleasant all the same. Every now and then Miss Jane would stop at a point of interest and ask questions. Henri made sure to nudge Jo to encourage her to answer and I was pleased to see that every answer she offered was correct.


“Jo and Henri said that you wanted to walk with me.” I said to Marjorie as we marched along.
“Yes.” She said. “I thought it would be nice as seeing as we are both so far from home.”
“You more so than I.” I said.
“It’s not the distance so much.” She said. “It’s that it takes three months to get a letter here and another three months back. Even mailships have to go the long way around to avoid the occupied territory. There are so many things that I think I’d love to ask Mother’s advise on but there’s no point because a reply is six months away.”
“So you don’t get any letters from home then.” I said.
“Well, yes. On the ways I sent letters to Mother at every port we stopped at and she writes to me regularly only she stops three months before the end of the the year because they’d never get to me anyway. I get letters, there’s just no conversation back and forth. She wrote to me the day I left of course, so I had a letter here waiting for me when I arrived to cheer me up after nine months without word. It beat me by a day.” Marjorie smiled. “But it’s still not the same.”


“Well, that’s more than I’ve had.” I tried not to let the bitterness show in my voice. “I’ve only had one letter. That was from my nursery maid to tell me she was visiting her mother and her new address didn’t make it to me.” I sighed.


“Really? Your parents never sent one ahead for you?”
“Well, they brought me here so I guess they never thought it necessary.” I said.


“Well, I’m sure your mother will send you a bundle from the first port they stop at.” Marjorie said confidently. “Mothers are like that the first time they send their daughters away, I know. My first term here Mother sent one every day and they didn’t always arrive in the right order so it got a bit confusing, but it was nice all the same.”


“I hope so.” I said. “You— you don’t… you don’t think they’ve forgotten about me… do you?” I bit my lip, it wasn’t until I voiced it that I realsied that had been worrying at me for days.


“Not a scrap of me could think that. Trust me, they’ll be thinking about you every day. You just see. Be paitent and you’ll get the most wonderful letter ever for the wait, I promise.”
I smiled. “Thank you Marjorie.”
As we continued with our nature walk I had an added spring in my march. Just you see, she’d said, and I would. I’d wait and, knowing my mother, when my letter came it would be the bestest letter in all the world. It would be so great it would make even Jo and Henri jealous. I just had to wait a little longer.

17th Dec 2012, 8:45 AM
Dear Sirs,
I think I am quite grown up now. I am no longer a little boy, at any rate, many boys my age are going to school and being addressed as “young gentlemen”. I have a question and I would ask that you both respect me enough to answer truthfully. I hope I have done the right thing in addressing my question to my elder brothers and not asking mother, I though it could upset her.
I was exploring in the attic today and stuck between an old chest of draws and the wall I discovered the enclosed photograph. Mother and Father are there, don’t they look young! With them are two adults I don’t recall ever seeing before. I am there, aged about two. You two are there also, Hadley, needing a haircut as usual. So who is the baby in Mothers arms? Do I have a little brother or sister that died? I’ve gone through the family photographs this afternoon and I can not find another photo of him or her and he doesn’t look like he belongs to the other couple in the photo. I have looked in the family bible but there is no record of a fourth child. On the back of the photo is written “All our family together with our dearest friends.” Which isn’t very helpful.
Please reply soon.


27th Dec 2012, 1:29 AM
I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas! You may notice that my story here is running about a week behind my blog. That's because it takes a fair bit more work uploading it here than there. I know I get a lot of views on this thread but I'm not shure how many (if any!) are actually following me story here. If you are let me know and I'll work on getting everything back to sync!

Time passes fast when you’re at boarding school yet at the same time it seems an eternity. I felt as though it had been forever since I’d spoken to Papa or been held by Mother but the scant time I’d spent at school couldn’t possibly have filled that void. A letter might have helped fill it. I looked for one in every post and every time there wasn’t one I just told myself it would be even better when it did come. At any rate, it was soon the last day of term and a designated holiday. Today was also the day I would have to decide who I’d be spending the next two weeks with. There hadn’t been a letter in the first post but I told myself I had either Henri or Jo’s house to look forward to so it would be better if it arrived after the holidays so I had something to cheer me up on a boring school day.


We were just leaving breakfast when Miss Jane called out:
“Miss Cox, report to Lady D’Winter’s office immediately.
“But I—”
“Don’t answer back young lady.” Miss Jane’s word was final.


“Good luck.” I whispered as I squeezed her hand and Henri gave her a comforting smile. Henri and I headed upstairs slowly to wait for her.


“Do you know what she’s done?” Henri asked me.


“Not a clue.” I said. “You don’t think Mariah could have pinned anything on her, do you?”


“Oh! I do hope not!”


“I wouldn’t put it past her… Oh it’s not far! All these weeks of being model students!”


“You don’t know what’s happened yet!” Henri said. “Wait and see before you judge. Come on, lets wait in your room and if it’s bad news she can at least tell us in private.”


“All right.” Henri was right, as usual.


That’s one thing I’ve learned about Henri, she’s patient, she listens, she thinks the best of people and she almost always is right.


We didn’t have long to wait before a sombre faced Jo made her way into our room.


“What’s happened?” I asked.


“Mother wrote.” Jo said. “My little sister has the fever.”


“Oh no, will she be all right?” I asked.
“Yes, It’s not deadly but it is contagious so our house is under quarantine and I can’t go home for the holidays. I’ll have to stay at school.”
“Oh Jo, that’s too bad!” I said.
Yes, well, I guess that decides who you’ll be spending the holidays with.” She said.


“Henri.” I said. “Do you think, under the circumstances, your mother would let us both come? Jo can promise to be good and quiet—”
“Oh I will!” Jo said. “I will! I will! I know you’ve heard that before but this time I mean it and I know you’ve heard THAT before but—” but Henri was already shaking her head.


“After I found out we’d both invited Bobbie I wrote to Mother again and explained the situation. She wouldn’t budge. And even if I wrote again now I wouldn’t get an answer in time for tomorrow and it would be awfully disappointing for Jo to pack everything only to find that she couldn’t come. I’m sorry Jo.”
“Don’t, it’s not your fault. Well, I guess you better write to your mother to let her know Bobbie will be going home with you.”


“No, don’t.” I said. Both Jo and Henri looked at me. “I— I really would love to go home with you Henri, but I feel awful leaving Jo here on her own. At least you’ll have your mother at home, do you think you could spare me so I could stay here with Jo?”


“Oh Bobbie!” Jo threw her arms around me. “That’s the most selfless thing I’ve ever heard you say, but please, you deserve to enjoy the holidays too.”
“I’m not sure I can if I’m feeling sorry for you!” I said. “I know Henri will be lonely at home without me, but I think it will be worse for you here all alone. And I can’t go with you both!”
“What do you think Henri?” Jo asked.
“I think the two of you will have a right old time here together.” Henri said with a smile. “I’ll get to see Mother and the holidays will be over before we know it, they always are. I’ll tell you what Bobbie, when your parents come for you at the end of next term I’ll invite the three of you around for tea, and Jo too, Mother and Father will be abroad then so we don’t need to mind about disturbing anyone, and I can show you everything then, what do you say?”
“That’s wonderful!” I smile at them both.


“Well, I think we all need something cheerful.” Jo said. “I passed Gladys on the way up and she gave me a letter that had just arrived from my brother.”
“Which one?” Henri asked.
“Michael, his always make a good read so lets see if this one lives up to the usual standard.” Jo opened the letter and Henri and I settled down to listen. It did make a good read and Jo and Henri made sure to fill me in on the gaps in my knowledge as needed.
“And now I come to the affair of the missing crests.” Jo read. “I mentioned to you a few letters ago that our school crest had gone missing from out front gates. Like a nation’s flag, to mark the crest is to mark the school so you can imagine how every boy here was offended by the disappearance of our crest, but yet I’ve hardly wrote of it. Why is this? Well, we were all sworn to silence about the incident and soon you will see why.
We weren’t the only school whose crest was disappeared. No. Four other schools have had their very souls stolen by some low down crittans. We threw down all inter-school rivalries and formed an investigative committee to discover these villains and get them back. Naturally, Jimmy—”


“That’s one of Jo’s brothers.” Henri explained. “The next one up from Michael.”
“Jimmy and I were on the committee.” Jo continued. “The investigations didn’t last long. When you have six boys schools within walking distance of each other and five of them have crests missing… well… it’s not hard to figure out. We held a council of war. Proper council and everything. We learned that the villainous school had just had a brand new cricket pitch laid. Cost a mint. We thought it needed prettying up. Perhaps a tree planted in the middle of it?”
“Oh they didn’t!” Henri exclaimed.


“What’s a cricket pitch?” I asked.
“Bobbie!” it came from Jo and Henri in unison.
“You don’t know what cricket is?” Jo sounded astonished.


“It’s a gentleman’s game.” Henri said, “That makes some gentlemen not act like it at all, but it’s played by all the proper boy’s schools and there’s many grown men that play it too.”
“And the pitch?”
“Where they throw th ball.” Henri explains. “It’s a long stretch of straight, flat grass all level and everything. One person throws the ball and the other hits it with the bat at the other end.”
“Henri, that CAN’T be your explanation of cricket!” Jo shook her head. “It’s a very complicated game—”
“Which is why we won’t try to teach her now.” Henri hastily said. “Or you’ll never get to the end of your letter.”
“Oh, well, another time. Now where were we? Oh yes. It was decided. We’d sneak out one night and, under the cover of darkness, we’d plant a tree in the middle of their cricket pitch. We’d send boys from all the schools to keep us all honest and so no boy would squeal on a boy from another school.
A few nights later my alarm went off from under my pillow. It was the big night! Jimmy and I met with a few of the other fellows from our school and we slunk off, meeting up with boys from the other schools as we did so. The moon was big that night and a good thing too, because it kept us on our guard. If a policeman had stumbled across a group of boys with a tree and shovels slung over their shoulders, well, I don’t think even Jimmy could have talked us out of that one!
Finally we reached the school fence of the school of the crest-stealer's. We had been keeping to the shadows up to now and decided before we all jumped the fence that a few of us should go over to check the coast was clear. Jimmy and I went along with Toulin, a boy from one of the other schools. The three of us jumped over the fence and while the coast looked clear we thought we should take the opportunity to perform a quick reconnaissance before giving the other lads the whistle. It was a good thing we did, because there, infront of our very eyes as we crept towards the cricket pitch we saw movements filtering from shadow to shadow in the school grounds. Next thing you know we’ve been tackled to the ground! We were expected and the boys had been waiting for us armed with shovels, rakes and hoes pilfered from their gardener’s shed and they’d been marching and standing guard in defense of their precious cricket pitch. Fortunatly they didn’t realise we had seventeen more of us outside the fence, but even so a group of twenty good lads, however fine and brave, is no match for an entire school. Toulin gave a hoot like an owl as we were dragged off and that was the signal for our men to run and not attempt rescue. See, I told you that we’d had a proper council of war.
But where did that leave us? I’ll tell you where, locked in an attic room. We were in a fix, that’s for sure! We’d been marched up there and escape was hopeless for it would rouse the teachers and that would take us right out of the frying pan and into the fire. Now, I’m not the sort of boy to panic and neither is Jimmy, but once we were all locked in there… well, we had an uncertain future that held nothing but trouble for us. Toulin, however, reacted differently. He worked his way around the small room, tapping at the walls and pressing his ear up against the boards. Soon he found what he was looking for and pulled out his penknife. Jimmy and I soon joined him and together we pried the board loose allowing us to crawl into the ceiling space. There was a dim light and we headed towards it. We found the light source was a dormer window. Did you know many of the dormer windows in the roofs around here aren’t actually windows? They’re added on the outside so the house looks even but it doesn’t mean the entire roof space is filled with rooms. Well, it’s true. If ever you find yourself locked in an attic room just remember that. Out the window, down the most obliging drainpipe I’ve ever encountered and the three of us (or Jimmy and I, at least) were safe in our beds before the waking bell.
Jimmy and I, having obtained legendary status managed to get to the bottom of matters before our next council of war which was held on the following Saturday. One of the lads from— and it shames me to say this— our school had written to his sister about the thefts and our planned revenge. His sister was sweet on one of the boys actually involved in taking the crests and so she warned him. The rest you can guess. This put our school into shame, we were the lowest of the low, excluding the school that had stolen the crests, of course. Even Jimmy and I were tainted by the same brush. We initiated an instant ban on all communications referring to the incident which is why you’re only hearing about all this now. If you think we were looked down on, you can imagine what we thought about the boy who’d leaked the plans! It didn’t take us long to get him to write another letter to his sister, telling her we were all cowards and had given up on planing a tree. She of course reported all of this to her sweetheart who in tun told the boys we’d given up. That was the night we struck and this time our mission was accomplished”


Jo continued with the rest of the letter and just as she reached the end the door opened and Miss Jane entered.


“What are you girls doing inside on a fine day like this?” She scolded. “Outside the lot of you!”


“Yes Miss Jane!” We chanted as we leapt to our feet.

6th Jan 2013, 2:03 PM

“I’m so glad we’re allowed to wear our evening gowns!” Jo said. We were running around our room in out petticoats getting ready for the end of term dinner to which we’d been given permission to wear our newly finished gowns. No, that didn’t get anyone out of wearing it to the soiree— Mariah asked!


“No poofy white skirt!” I agreed as Jo stuck a few more pins into my hair. There was a knock on the door.
“Excuse me misses,” Dorcus poked her head in. “But there’s a letter arrived by the evening post for Miss Roberta.”


“Finally!” I squealed. While the month since I sent my letter of had sped past in some ways, it had still seemed like an age waiting for a reply to my letter. Here it was at last!
“Only—” I danced over and snatched the letter out of her hand before Dorcus could finish.


“Oh.” My face fell.


“Nothing to worry about Miss, just a mix up I’m sure. But Gladys said to bring it right up.” Dorcus said before bobbing an awkward curtsy and leaving.
“What is it?” Jo asked, coming over.


“Returned. Undeliverable.” I said.
“Well, lets have a look.” Jo took my letter to home, with my letters to Elen and Miss brown inside and looked at the front. I felt ready to cry.


“It’s addressed right!” I said. “That’s my address right there!”


“Are you sure you didn’t write it wrong?” Jo asked.
I looked at my address, as clear as day and burst into tears.


“Oh, oh!” Jo said, fussing around. “I’m sorry, don’t cry!”


“H-has everyone a-abandoned m-me.” I sobbed through my tears. I’d never felt so alone before in my life.


“I’ll, I’ll—” Jo turned and ran to our wardrobe, threw the doors open and dove in.
“Henri!” She called in a panicked. “Henri! I need your help! She’s crying and I don’t know how to fix it.”


Before I knew it Henri was beside me. Henri, during a time when we were meant to be in our rooms and if we were caught in the corridors it would mean an instant black mark.
“You s-shouldn’t have b-broken the rules just for m-me. If you’d been seen in the corridor…” But I threw my arms around her all the same.


“What’s the matter, Jo?” She asked.
I couldn’t answer so Jo answered for me.


“Oh Bobbie, don’t cry, can’t you see what happened? Look at the handwriting on this letter.”
“It’s my address.” I said
“In what was your best Fraitessian script. I’ll tell you what, I’ll bet you anything some young Highlander postman couldn’t read proper writing so sent it right back to sender rather than try figure it out.”
“You think?”


“Yes. Now here’s a new envelope, you write your address but write it twice, once in Fraitessian script and once in your Highlander hand. We’ll give it straight to Gladys when we go down for dinner, it won’t make the last post today but she will ensure it makes the very first one in the morning.” Henri passed me a new envelope and put a pen in my hand.
“You’ll have a reply in four weeks, I guarantee.” Jo said, appearing to feel more comfortable now I’d stopped crying. “and if you don’t then it will be because you’ve had one sooner than that asking why you haven’t written yet. Just you wait.


“Thank you both, whatever would I do without you?” I gave them each a hug then sat down to rewrite my envelope.


It was the work of minutes. Just as I was finishing off I heard Gladys’ voice.


I leapt up and took a peek out the door and saw her heading for the servant’s stairway. Miss Jane was nowhere in sight and I knew the servant’s stairways and corridors were generally safe from Miss Jane and other mistresses. “There’s Gladys now!” I said. “I won’t be a moment, the coast is clear, I’ll see if she can get it in tonight’s post after all!”


“Don’t be long!” Jo said. “We have a dinner to dress for.”
“With any luck it will be announced that the three of us will be attending the soiree together!” Henri said
“We’ve certainly deserved it!” Jo said. “And not a black mark between us. I’ve been a saint. We’ll have to have a Jolly time these holidays to make up for it.”


“We’ll have the run of the school!” I said. “I’ve plans already!” I called as I dashed out the door.


I ran on tiptoes across the landing and down the stairs. I found Gladys just before she reached the bottom.
“Ohh, what are you doing out of your room Miss?” She scolded me with a twinkle in her eye.


“I’m sorry, but is there any chance this could make the last post? It bounced back and I—” Gladys took one look at me, from the letter in my hand to my tear reddened eyes and smiled.
“Of course it can, Miss. I’ll make sure of it meself. Now you get yourself back up to that room before Miss Jane catches you or there’ll be a scoldin’ for you for sure!”
“Thank you!” I made my way back up the stairs with a light heart.


I checked the landing carefully before making my way back to my room. I opened the door softly and made sure not to bang it closed. That was when I was greeted with the figure of Jo sitting on her bed rubbing at damp eyes. Had she been crying?


“Jo! What ever is the matter?” I dashed to her side.
“Oh, I’m a horrible wicked girl Bobbie. I daren’t tell you what I’ve done, you’ll think so badly of me.”


“Come, it can’t be too bad!” I said.
“I’ve gone and gotten Henri and I black marks just hours before the end of term.”
“You what?” I was astonished. “When?”
“Just then.” She said. “Oh, but I wish you could have seen it!” She was cheering up already and a wicked grin was spreading across her face. “It was like this. Henri didn’t come through the corridor when she came over before, she slipped through the gap in our wardrobe without a thought, the little minx. I didn’t know she had it in her to think up such a thing, I’m sure I never would. But when you left she returned the same way and I realised that you didn’t know how she came. I thought you needed a bit more cheering up so I had the bright idea of slipping through myself and giving you a fright when you returned!”


“Oh Jo…” I said.


“That’s not the worst of it. Did I ever tell you I am a greedy child? Did I, dear Bobbie? Well I am. My head made it through and then my shoulders but when I came to squeezing my stomach through I stuck.


Henri tried to pull me through but to no avail! Then she tried to push me back but I was stuck fast!”
“Jo!” I was laughing now. “Did Marjorie help?”
“Alas, that was my downfall. Marjorie had been seeing Lady D’Winter and Miss Jane decided to escort her back to her room to ensure she took no detours. You know how she doesn’t trust us girls, though I can’t see why. Well, Miss Jane, as you know, has ears sharper than a bat when it comes to hearing out trouble and she must have heard Henri and I in our struggles because she came right into Henri and Marjorie’s room and saw the state I was in!”
“Oh no!”


“Oh no indeed. Miss Jane asked me to come out that instant, not realizing that I was betwixt the two rooms and not merely playing in Henri’s wardrobe so I was forced to explain to her my exact predicament.


Miss Jane tried to push me back but, alas, I had come too far. In the end it took the three of them to pull me through! I tried to argue Henri’s case but it was no good. Miss Jane had seen her attempting to come to my rescue and so both of us were cursed with the dreaded black mark.”
“And what of me?” I asked. “Did Miss Jane notice I was missing?”
“I couldn’t have all my friends earn a black mark.” Jo said. “But I was at a loss of what I could say to convince her you were an innocent party. Henri, as quick as anything said you’d disapproved with my behavior and had gone straight to report it and that she was ashamed she hadn’t done so herself.”
“Oh Jo, but I haven’t reported anything!”
“I know, I’ve thought of that. You arrived at Miss Jane’s office whilst she was up here with us and finding her not there you returned to your room by the servant’s stairs. You’re in the clear, it seems.”
“Oh but Jo, neither Henri nor you will be able to attend the soiree!”


“And don’t I know it. I tell you, I’m a wicked child. All we can do is but hope you’ve attained a first in something. We can’t have Mariah attend alone, we just can’t!”

19th Jan 2013, 9:17 AM
I can't believe there aren't any comments on this! It is a fantastic and very well written story. I never remember to let an author know that I throughly enjoy their story, but I want to let you know that I hope you continue it. It is interesting, the writing, plot, and pictures are fantastic. I check constantly for an update, this is my new favorite story (since I just discovered it a month ago) You are great!

22nd Jan 2013, 12:28 AM
I can't believe there aren't any comments on this! It is a fantastic and very well written story. I never remember to let an author know that I throughly enjoy their story, but I want to let you know that I hope you continue it. It is interesting, the writing, plot, and pictures are fantastic. I check constantly for an update, this is my new favorite story (since I just discovered it a month ago) You are great!

Thank you so much for your kind comments! I did have some comments here the first time I wrote it but I had to unexpectedly stop and start over again a long time later. I have a wordpress blog for my story now so I guess most people leave their comments over there. My blog is ahead of my story here as it takes longer to put a post up here, but never fear! I'll be continuing with the story!

I'm having great fun writing this, I'm glad you're enjoying reading it! I've been working really hard on my pictures and have gotten some great tips and I think they are getting better :D I'll be posting chapter 19 on my blog this thursday and I'll try to get my thred here a bit more up to date also.

22nd Jan 2013, 12:33 AM

“Well, I’m glad that’s over.” I said as we returned to our rooms. The last dinner of the term had meant to be something to look forward to instead…
“You mustn’t let Mariah upset you so.” Henri said.
The first thing that had happened upon entering the dining room was Mariah had asked me loudly if I’d received a letter from my mother yet. I was forced to admit I hadn’t and had to blink back tears while Mariah pretended to be sympathetic.
“Oh, you poor thing! I’m sure she’ll send something as soon as she can. After all, she’s your mother, she has to love you!”
“I wouldn’t if she didn’t.” I said to Henri
“Well, you know Mariah.” Jo said. “If she knows something she’ll use it against you!”
“Yes, and how does she know?” I shot a glance at Henri.
“Marjorie’s really sorry Bobbie, she’s told you that.”
“I know.” I sighed. Mariah had seen Marjorie and I talking the day we went on the nature walk together and had asked
Marjorie what on earth we found to talk about. Marjorie had told her it was nothing much, just about how long letters from home took as I hadn’t had one yet. Nothing had come of it until an awkward silence at the table one day that had been broken by Mariah asking if I’d had a letter from my mother yet. I’d looked down at my plate and stammered out that I hadn’t. This had not only earned me a lecture from Miss Jane about looking at people when they spoke to me and enunciating my words correctly but it clued Mariah up on the fact that I still hadn’t had a letter and it was a sore spot for me. “It was an accident, I understand that, I really do.” If Marjorie had wanted to use Mariah to hurt me, she could have divulged a lot more about our conversation. Even so, I’d had difficulty trusting Marjorie since.


To say the dinner had started out on a bad footing for me was an understatement and Mariah had followed up what she said to my by declaring Jo’s dress was “simply divine” and it even made her look “a little slimmer, wasn’t that wonderful?” She was right, Jo’s dress was by far the best. The sewing was flawless and she inserted her sleeves right the first time. And it was a flattering fit though it didn’t deserve Mariah’s backhanded compliment. Henri’s was a close second, loosing out only because of the puckering in the corners of the yoke and the botched job she’d done of the sleeves.Majorie had done a lovely job of her sewing but had chosen to replicate a traditional garment from Freedonia. We’d all been fascinated by the pantaloons that tied round the ankles “to stop snakes crawling up” she’d explained but it didn’t quite fit the brief of an evening dress suitable for the school soiree. Valerie had worked hard on her dress— too hard. She’d spend so long getting her ruffles perfect that she ran our of time to do her sleeves and had to make do with a bolero over the dress. We were all of the opinion that she an out of time on purpose to give Mariah a better chance.
Mariah. She’d chosen the most expensive fabric she could and thee was nothing too wrong with the pattern, but I could see her pucked seams and wonky sewing from across the table. No, Mariah was defiantly NOT good at plain sewing.
When the class places were announced no one was surprised when Jo came first in sewing. She also was awarded first in nature studies. Henri came first in art and just managed to snatch a first in geography from Mariah. Miss Jane said they had been almost equal but Henri’s maps were neater that Mariah’s. Thanks to all my hard work on my Fraitessian script I managed firsts in spelling, composition and comprehension. Mariah’s face went from bad to worse each time her name wasn’t called and while she came first in the remaining classes the Dux would be undecided this term .
It wasn’t quite the victory we’d hoped for as it was ruined by Miss Jane announcing that due to bad behaviour neither Henri nor Jo would be attending the soiree. Cue Mariah gloating.


“I better get back to my room before Miss Jane catches me in the hall.” Henri said.
“So should we.” Jo replied. “Especially Bobbie! I wouldn’t put it past Miss Jane to take back her permission to attend the soiree.”
“Right.” We hugged Henri then returned to our room.


I crossed our floor and sat down on the windowsill and gazed out. Somewhere out there Mother and Father were having a jolly time on Father’s ship. Did they miss me as much as I missed them?


“We’ve still got half an hour before bedtime.” Jo said. “Would you like to play a game?”
“Not really.” I said.


“Oh don’t sit and dwell.” She crossed over and put her hand on my shoulder. “That will only make you homesick which is never pleasant. Why don’t you read some of your book? What’s this one about?”


I sighed. “It’s about two girls who meet at school and become best friends and play that they are sisters. They both have lockets and they swap them. They call them friendship lockets and as long as each has the other’s it means they’re best friends.”
“Ohh, what happens then?” Jo asked..
“Well, I don’t want to spoil it…” I said
“Oh come on! You know I’ll never get around to reading it anyway!”


“Well, all right.” I told Jo the story of how the girls were separated and live their own lives. I begin to cheer up with the telling of the story. “Each gets engaged and their fiance’s turn out to be brothers but they are all grown up and don’t recognise their future sister-in-law as their childhood friend. So they have a double wedding and when they’re getting ready they see each other’s lockets for the first time because they’ve worn them under their dresses, close to their hearts all this time, and they’re re-united at last and become sisters for real.”
“Oh, that’s so romantic.” Jo said. “I’d love to have a friendship locket!”
“Why don’t we?” I ask.


“I don’t have a locket… but I know!” Jo leapt to her feet and rattled through her draw.


“Look, we can swap ribbons! Here’s one of mine. Now lets find one of yours.”
“That’s a fantastic idea.” I said to Jo, running over to my top draw. “You do think such clever things. We can keep them even after I’ve left school and gone back home and we’ll always remember each other. Here, this is mine.”
“No, don’t swap yet.” Jo said. There has to be a ceremony.”
“A ceremony?”


“Yes. Something special. Here, lets hold the ends of both ribbons in our hands so we’re connected.”
“Like this?”
“Yes. Now repeat after me. I swear to be friends to the end of time.”
“I swear to be friends to the end of time.”
“And to be united against the common foe. That’s Mariah and Miss Jane.”
“And to be united against the common foe. That’s Ma—”
“No! You don’t need to copy the last bit. I was just explaining. Um, what else? Oh, to always share sweets.”
“To always share sweets, remember you’re the only one who ever gets them!” I said.
“Well, I should share them! I’m too greedy for my own good. Can you think of anything else?”
“To always keep promises?” I suggested. Together Jo and I came up with a good list of things until finally our imaginations were exhausted.
“To this I do swear” Jo said seriously.
“To this I do swear.”
I took Jo’s ribbon and she took mine.


“Now, how should we wear them?” Jo asked.
“Well,” I glanced at the clock. “Goodness, it’s almost time for lights out! Lets get into bed and in the morning we’ll play hairdressers and come up with some new hairstyles.”


We scrambled into our nightgowns and were just tucking ourselves in when the bell for lights out sounded.
“Goodnight Bobbie.” Jo whispered


“Goodnight Jo.”
I drifted off to sleep quickly and rather than dreaming about absent letters and parents far across the see I dreamed about having a friend for the rest of time.


We awoke in the morning and the school was full of a hustle and a bustle as girls readied themselves to be picked up by their parents. With no last minute cases to pack, Jo and I spent some time to ourselves infront of the mirror.
“I’m not very good at hair.” I said, brushing Jo’s out.
“Oh mine is too short to do most things with.” She said “Mostly I just like it out of the way.”
“Well, out of the way it is.” I said, brushing her hair back and tying it there with the ribbon. But Jo loved it so much she insisted on doing mine the same way.


We dressed quickly and Jo insisted we checked our reflection in our mirror before we made our way out into the hall.


“Oh where is my other boot?” A younger girl exclaimed as she ran past.
“Try on your own floor!” Jo called after her. A door opened and Henri came out of her room.
“Hello!” She said “I was hoping you two would be up before I left. Oh! You’ve both got your hair out!”


“Hello Henri, yes we have, new style for the hols even if we won’t be leaving school for them! Of course we’d be up to say goodbye to you! Is your mother coming?”
No, just Father, but do come out and meet him after breakfast!”
“Ah, the first breakfast. Another reason I’d be up!”
Henri laughed.


“First breakfast?” I asked.
“On the last day of term we all have breakfast according to when we’re leaving.” Henri explained. “Rather than with just our class. “First breakfast is for those leaving first thing in the morning, like me—”
“And has the best food.” Jo cut in with a grin.
“And second is for those whose parents can’t get here until midmorning.”
“And is never as good as it always has the leftovers from first breakfast.”
“I see.” I said laughing. “Trust you to have worked that out, Jo!” We all went in for breakfast, which was better than usual as it was designed to build up girls for their journey home.


After breakfast we waited in the crush of the front hall amongst girls and parents and luggage.


All around us girls were hugging their mothers or telling their fathers all about their exciting adventures. Tomas was busy moving their cases into their awaiting carriages. I tried to push down the twinge of envy I felt.


It wasn’t long before Henri greeted her father and introduced me to him. He already knew Jo.
“And this is my roommate” Henri pulled Marjorie across.


“Hello Mr Joans.” She greeted him politely.


It wasn’t long before Henri and the other girls and their mothers and fathers were gone, leaving Jo and I standing alone in the hall.
“What should we do now?” Jo said.
“Well, we swore to keep promises.” I said, my mind ticking away.


“Well, I’d like to pay a visit to Frankie.”

22nd Jan 2013, 12:35 AM
Dear Diary,
Doesn’t it always feel so funny coming home after being at school? It’s very quiet. I don’t mind the quiet but I do wish I had a friend to enjoy it with. Not that I blame Bobbie for staying with Jo, it was the right thing to do as I have Mummy and Jo would have had no one. I hope Jo’s had a letter by the time I get back to school. I know she speaks so highly of her mother and father but sometimes I feel right mad with her mother for not sending her anything yet. Marjorie says if her mother knew she had to spend that long a time away from the post office then she’d pre-write letters ad arrange for them to be sent every now and then.
Talking of Marjorie, she is going to spend the day with me! She comes just after breakfast the day after tomorrow and she’ll leave after dinner. Mariah has an invitation somewhere else and Marjorie wasn’t invited, so I had mother write to Mariah’s mother asking Marjorie. Mariah’s mother decided Marjorie better go “to be polite” as seeing as she rooms with me at school so Marjorie can come without Mariah thinking she actually wants to. Aren’t we cleaver? I am looking forward to it so much. As I keep telling Jo and Bobbie, she is actually really nice. I just wish we could be better friends out of our dorm room.
Mother said I did a beautiful job of my dress. I’m sad I won’t be able to wear it at the soiree, I was looking forward to going. I know it’s not Jo’s fault, and I did break the rules earlier that night so I suppose I deserved it in a way, but I always seem to get in trouble when Jo’s involved in something. She attracts it somehow.
Now I must be off. I am to help mother and Asia to go through her wardrobe and decide what she’ll take away with her and what mending or adjustments need to be made. It sounds dull, but Mother is so busy the best way to spend some time with her right now is to help her in her preparations.

16th Feb 2013, 4:23 AM
I'm still reading and loving your story!

14th Jun 2015, 12:38 AM
A little constructive criticism maybe. I am enjoying the story, it is starting to carry me along with it. Although, I must confess that, concentrating more on the text than the pictures, I missed the 'sci-fi guy' till you pointed it out.

But the text needs a little tidying up. In one place, (chapter two I think) you've repeated a part of a passage. Also, in the chapter where the girls are planning their campaign, you forget who's narrating at one point and say 'Bobbie scolded'. Again in the excerpt from Henri's diary she says something about writing to her parents, but they are still away on a ship. I thought that was Bobbies parents, unless Henri's are too. And one or two modernisms creeping in here and there:. you are aiming for a sort of Victorian feel, and the language should match that. 'I totally could have fixed that bowl' is a little jarring.

But these are just minor quibbles and easily fixed.