A New Start

Maddy chewed over the two options for much of the next couple of days.

She had enjoyed the tour of the school conducted by Miss Andrews. With a swimming pool, a large, light and airy library, pretty class rooms and -- best of all, as far as Maddy was concerned -- three new and well equipped science labs, it looked a very nice place to go to school. It certainly looked more attractive than the High School in Hereford, which was situated in a depressing, grey concrete building with none of the facilities.

But there were downsides to going to the Chalet School, too. At the High School she would at least know a couple of people there, while everyone would be new to her here. Then there was the languages issue, which was enough to make her nervous all on its own. Auntie Cecil had been teaching her German on their assorted daytrips and she said that Maddy was picking it up easily but Maddy herself was unconvinced.

There was also the fact that she would have to board at least part of the year because of the weather, but that was both unattractive and appealing at the same time. From Miss Andrews' descriptions of what the girls did, from hobbies to Guides, to dancing, to special entertainment evenings, it did sound like a lot of fun, and the dormitories looked very pleasant. They'd been shown around Lilac Dormitory, and Maddy had been fascinated by it, with its eight individual cubicles separated off by pretty lilac-print curtains. Each cubicle had a bed and something that was part chest of draws, part dressing table. Miss Andrews had described it as a bureau and had demonstrated the little piece which flipped up to reveal a mirror and a little space to keep brush, comb, hair bands and clips.

All in all, it was a dilemma, but as Maddy thought about it, she realised that she knew what the right thing to do was. None of the people she knew who would be going to the High School were particular friends of hers. And the prospect of having to live in a town was just awful to someone who'd grown up in the rolling hills and open spaces of Armifordshire. And she was enjoying living with Grandma Jo and Grandpa Jack. And it wasn't as if Auntie Nun lived on Howells village. She travelled lots -- so what was the difference between going to Howells and going to the Görnetz Platz?

~*~

Two Months Later

Reg watched as Maddy entered the Speisesaal of Freudesheim, uncomfortable at all the attention. She looked very well in the Gentian blue skirt, white blouse, and smart Gentian blue v-necked sweater. Her new blazer was hanging on a peg in the Freudesheim cloakroom, ready. The only other item of uniform missing from the picture was her tie, an article which she was holding, somewhat helplessly and creased in one hand.

"I can't tie it," she said plaintively.

After a brief glance at Joey, Reg stood up and walked over to Maddy. "Here," he said, "I'll show you." And gently, he guided her hands in the art of tying a tie. Once it was knotted securely, he pinned in place the small green shield that indicated she was a member of St Hilda's house and helped her to settle the tie neatly beneath the collar of her blouse. "Now tuck it into your sweater," he advised, "or else it'll be in your work all morning."

Maddy grinned at that and did as she was bidden.

"Are you looking forward to this?" Jack asked as Maddy slid into her seat at the breakfast table.

Maddy nodded. "It'll be an adventure."

"That," said Joey, "it certainly will be."

There wasn't too much time to tarry over breakfast after that, for Maddy needed to be safely over to the school by half past eight in time for registration and assembly. For now, she was to be a day girl, though Reg knew that by half term she would have to at the very least be a weekly boarder. As Miss Wilmot said, "We may have a nice September and a decent October, but you can guarantee that November will be wet!"

A few, short moments later and Maddy was stood, clad in her blazer with a smart new satchel grasped in her hands, ready to go. For a moment, Reg was hesitant. Seeing her in the familiar colours with her hair pulled back in one pony tail he was struck all over again at how much she looked like her mother.

"Daddy?" she said softly.

Reg mustered a smile. "I was just thinking that your mother would be very, very proud to see you today." He bent down and wrapped his daughter in a hug. "It's a new start, Maddy," he murmured. "It's a new start for both of us."

"It's going to be OK," Maddy answered. She kissed him on the cheek. "And I think it's going to be fun!"