From : Thun, Switzerland

May 1, 1912

Dearest Alexander,

I am settling well into the routine here. I wonder how my mother came across this place – it is certainly not among the better known schools in the region and quite small compared to the others, I have learned. It is not at all what I had expected. Which, considering my mother, I shouldn't be that surprised.

My first week seemed to consist mainly of the instructors testing my current range of knowledge and then setting my lessons from there. German and Italian are in my study course now with minor studies in English and French to keep those language skills up. Alas, they have no Russian instructor, so I am on my own there.

The more physical courses will go by the season. Skiing is confined to winter and swimming to summer, naturally. Hunting skills are also taught, including both guns and archery. I hadn't really thought of those as social skills, but considering the number of parties held during hunting season, I suppose they are. Those that don't care to learn how to actually hit a target are being instructed on how to at least avoid inflicting wounds on the other members of the hunting party. A handy thing to know if one ever intends to be invited a second time, I would suppose.

The other courses are mainly in mathematics and science, though there are also classes in various stages of cooking and sewing. Those latter courses seem as much lessons on making sure you aren't being robbed blind by paying for foods you aren't eating or for a quality of seamstress work that isn't being provided. I suppose there is value in learning the difference between a well-sewn seam and a poorly done one.

There is actually more in the way of actual studies and less in the way of etiquette studies than I had imagined, another of the pleasant surprises. The etiquette part seems to be more small rules and reminders as we go through our day instead of classes dedicated to it. For one thing, everyone is limited to three pieces of jewelry during our instruction periods. Not what I would have considered a large deprivation but it seems to be daunting to some to hold themselves to that count - one of the young ladies was trying to get the rule altered (at least for herself) to no more than three pieces of each type of jewelry - allowing three rings, three bracelets, etc. Until I met her, I had always thought the phrase 'dripping with jewels' to be a fancy. However, she does somehow manage that feat when she has free rein to wear as much as she pleases. The instructors do make note of discrepancies even if they don't appear to be looking at the young lady in question. Attention to detail seems to be a staffing requirement here.

Even the short amount of time I have been here has made me more appreciative of the way my mother reared me and introduced me to the world. A few of the girls here have been raised as if they were some exotic housecat – pampered, petted and ignorant as a newborn child in even the most basic ways of the world. Some of them are doing without a personal maid for the first time in their lives. How any person of reasonable mental ability can attain the age of ten without the ability to be able to dress them self boggles my mind.

I do not think they would have fared well if they had been called upon to camp underneath a wagon. I do not know that they would even fare well if they had to sleep on a couch instead of a bed. And, heaven help me, if I ever succumb to the fits of giggles that some of them are prone to do, I believe I will throw myself from a balcony before my mental state is further compromised.

Fortunately, there are some sensible types around, but we are outnumbered by a goodly margin. I would have to guess there are at least two gigglers for each sensible seeming girl. I suppose I should just count it a blessing that the instructors do not allow giggling in the classroom. I would end up throttling or visiting some other form of violence on at least one of the gigglers otherwise.

I trust you arrived back in England safely and hope that there have not been any repercussions against you for all of the assistance you provided me in a time of need. For which I do not begin to know how to adequately thank you.

Yours with fond regards,

Millicent