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.