|Great northern why were they not at school
Author: constantlearner PM
This is my attempt to explain how the Swallows, Amazons and callums came to be in the Hebriedes in June, via lettersRated: Fiction K - English - Friendship - Words: 1,996 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 1 - Published: 08-19-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8445581
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All the characters belong to the late Arthur Ransome. I'm just playing with them.
"Great Northern?" supposedly took place in June ( because of the deer). I read in a biography that Mr. Ransome commented in a letter "Why they were not at school, heaven only knows!" or words to similar effect. This is my attempt to answer that question in letters.
Great Northern - Why were they not at school?
17th March 1934
It looks as though we won't be seeing each other this summer, which I am feeling cut up about, although I suppose I should be delighted to be beginning sea-training properly at last. I do get almost a month's leave between finishing school certificate in the middle of June and the second week of July, but I expect you will just be finishing school as I go back. The others are very likely to come and stay at Holly Howe for a fortnight at least, so you'll see them, I'm sure. I'll be doing nothing but swotting this Easter and I'm sure it will be the same for you.
You've probably heard through Susan writing to Peggy, but Sue says their headmistress has been taken badly ill, during a Divinity lesson. It looked like a stroke, she says. They got her to bed and summoned the doctor quickly, and she's still alive, but very ill. No-one knows quite what is going to happen. I've a pretty good idea most of the first aid was done by Susan. She's still keen on nursing and any hospital with any sense will jump at the chance to have her. She is talking of getting a job on a big cruise-ship so that she can see the world once she has qualified. If you get your PT training and she goes to a London hospital, you might be able to see each other sometimes.
Please give my best wishes to your mother and uncle when you see them and tell them how very much I wish that I will be seeing them this year. Best wishes to Peggy, too, of course. That goes without saying.
Hope you are surviving the run up to school cert.
With very best wishes
20th March 1934
Your bad news is, at the moment, my only good news. We will be able to see each other just after school certificate; that is if you want to come North without the others and if your parents agree. Peggy and I have left school for ever. I am going to take my school cert. exams and will go back for the first part of June to do so, since I am already entered. I imagine that we finish exams on the same day.
Just in case you are wondering, we haven't been expelled. In fact, the headmistress interviewed us both and said she would always be glad to give us a good reference and only wished she could keep us on. Mother can't afford to pay the fees anymore and that's that. It's especially hard for Pegs, but she doesn't complain. Do you remember that summer we first met? I was mad enough to say we would leave school and camp on Wild Cat Island when we grew up. Now I've got more or less what I wished for and don't I regret it! I think it was meeting you Swallows that made me want to get out into the world. I want to do something worthwhile, something that matters. PT was a compromise, but at least I could have ended up teaching in different schools. I might even have got a chance to teach rowing, if not sailing. I would still have got back to the Lake for each summer. I have no chance now of taking my Highers, let alone anything else.
If you come in June, we will have a chance to sail until I find a job, which I don't think will be immediately. I suppose my best chance is a job as a chambermaid in a hotel, or as a waitress, but that will only be for the summer. Mother is dead-set against us going away from home to live. I think she thought we would just go and live at home. Sometimes you can tell she was brought up by the Great-Aunt, poor thing. Uncle Jim helped me show her that we really did have to work. The Great-Aunt will have fits about it, no doubt.
I did suggest we could sell Amazon so Peggy could stay at school for another year. Amazon wouldn't fetch nearly enough. She'll be here for us to sail, and maybe Peggy and I can sail to work each morning.
Well done, Susan. Tell her I am quite happy for her to Captain the Amazon this summer while we three are all at work. Peggy and I can always row across to Rio if we have to! I like her cruise ship idea. I wonder if there are any openings for stewardesses. Unfortunately, I don't think they'll think sailing a small dinghy is any practice for sailing a large steamer. They probably want engineers more than anything else.
Do you mind if I send you the occasional Maths problem and what I think the solution is? It is the trigonometry I really struggle with. I manage to convince myself that my solution is right, even when it isn't. It needs a fresh mind to see it.
Good luck with the swotting. See you in June, I hope,
I was sorry to hear your news. Yes, Nancy may have told John, but he hasn't told me. He wouldn't unless Nancy gave him permission to. My mother is writing to your's about June. Our school is closing. Without the headmistress, no-one else wanted to carry it on. If we were going to be still at Shotley, we would go to another boarding school, but Father is going to be stationed in Portsmouth in July. Titty and I are going to the High School there, and will be day girls. However, they won't have a place for us until September, so we hope to see you in June. After Easter, I am looking after Bridget and the house while mother and Titty are going to Portsmouth for a week to look for a house we can rent.
1st June 1934
Dear Mrs Blackett,
I hope you will forgive me for writing to ask you an immense favour. My husband has broken his leg in Egypt. The medical man on the dig has asked me to go out at once to take care of him. He is in no immediate danger, but it would be unwise to move him for some time. Could I ask you to look after Dorothea while I am away, and also be Dick's guardian while I am out of the country? His term does not finish until the second week in July, and I may be back before then. Dorothea has some work from school and she will get settled down to work without any prompting. I am enclosing all the necessary paperwork in the hope you will say yes. If you feel you can be kind enough to help us in this crisis, please wire "yes" and I will put Dot on the 9.30 from Euston on the morning of the 3rd and then go straight to Dover myself.
YES BOTH VERY WELCOME HOPE PROFESSOR LITTLE PAIN BLACKETT
I've bought an ex-Norwegian pilot cutter, called the Sea- Bear from that chap in Bergen you put me in touch with. She has bunks for ten. I really can't thank you enough. She sails like a dream. I brought her home to Mallaig last week with Stokes (you remember Stokes?) and his eldest two lads, who were on their Whitsun Hols. Millie came too, I need hardly add. We left the bairns with their Granny this time.
I won't get any more leave from the office until the middle of July when I hope to tour the West Coast of Ireland, this time with Millie and the bairns and my brother-in-law and his new wife.
You would be very welcome to borrow Sea Bear for a week or two. I know you would look after her. Perhaps your nieces would like to cruise the West Coast of Scotland? You could bring some of their sailing friends if you think it appropriate.
Do write and let me know; you've done me many good turns and I would like to make some repayment.
3rd June 1934
Dear Captain and Mrs. Walker,
I've just been offered the use of a 10- bunk cutter for a fortnight at the end of June. She is presently berthed at Mallaig . The offer seems too good to refuse, but of course she needs a crew. My nieces tell me that Susan and Titty can't start their new school until September and that John has some leave in the second part of June. Would you be kind enough to lend us your daughters for a fortnight? If they came here on the 15th we could all travel up to Mallaig together on the 19th. Nancy's exams don't finish until the 20th so she will be coming straight from school to meet us at Mallaig by train. Could John manage to do the same? Dorothea Callum is staying at Beckfoot and she will be coming with us, which I am sure will delight Titty.
It seems rather hard on Roger and Dick to be stuck at school and I wish I could take them too. Roger would be in his element helping with the engine, which I suspect will not really interest the others, although I know they will be as helpful as possible.
7th June 1934
Dear Mrs. Blackett,
I am very sorry indeed to trouble you more than mother anticipated, but they are sending us all home from school tomorrow. The problem is the drains. (I think the problem is that the water from the drains is seeping into the water supply). The school will reopen in September. I should be arriving at the station about 4.10pm.
Extract from a letter to Dick and Dorothea from their mother.
My dears, of course it will be alright for you to go with the others to Scotland. In fact I have to confess that I felt very guilty indeed for imposing on Mrs. Blackett at such short notice, although I know you would be as considerate as possible. I am sure you will both enjoy the sailing and the scenery and Dick will probably see lots of new birds. …..
Extract from a letter to James Turner from Captain and Mrs. Walker.
… are such good friends, so please do call us Mary and Ted. Of course, we will send the girls and John along on the dates you suggest. Dorothea has, of course, been writing to Titty. It is very hard indeed on Roger to be the only one not going, and we would prefer him not to feel more left out than is necessary, especially at the moment. We are not entirely happy with the attitude he seems to be bringing home from school with him. This is, of course, between our three selves. If you do not feel it is too much of an imposition, it would do him a great deal of good to go with you, and if you agree, we would like to send him along with the girls. ….