Authors Note: I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas! I, by some stoke of luck have managed to score boxing day off work this year so am enjoying a typical relaxing day at home playing with all my new toys (by which I mean the seasons expansion pack). Have a great boxing day and, as promised, here is the next chapter a day early! Enjoy!
“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.”
“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!”
“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 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!”
Authors Note (again): I mentioned in a pervious post that the wardrobe was partly based on a set of draws at one of my old schools (which used to be a boarding school). It was built between the wall dividing too rooms and the draws were joined. When you pulled a draw open it dissapeared from the other side. We played lots of pranks with them! We called them the “Katy did” draws because there were similar draws in a book called “What Katy Did at School” by Susan Coolidge (except the draws were built sepperate so it took them longer to discover the fact there was no wall between). I partly based the wardrobe on these draws. The scene with Jo getting stuck is
stolen heavily inspired by a scene in the book where one of the characters gets stuck druing study hour trying to get between the rooms.