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 Post subject: Re: Advent Drabbles 2015 - updated 2 December 2015
PostPosted: 02 Dec 2015, 20:51 
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shesings wrote:

Luckily we know it all worked our well - or did it from her PoV............................................

Oh I think it must have otherwise as a well-bred Austrian of that generation she would have never have asked if the older ones could use Madge's first name. Though I notice she doesn't extend the offer to the use of hers and Herr Mensch's.....

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 Post subject: Re: Advent Drabbles 2015 - updated 2 December 2015
PostPosted: 02 Dec 2015, 21:07 
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Thanks Santa-robin. A complete change.

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 Post subject: Re: Advent Drabbles 2015 - updated 2 December 2015
PostPosted: 03 Dec 2015, 00:27 
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Thank you, Robins.

I especially liked the link between Mrs. Farrar & EBD. :D

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 Post subject: Re: Advent Drabbles 2015 - updated 3rd December 2015
PostPosted: 03 Dec 2015, 08:24 
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It was a crisp, cold, clear night, one that spoke of a hard frost in the morning to come. In a chalet on the Buchau side of the Tiernsee a light twinkled out. Because of the clear skies an observer on the Sonnalpe would be able to see the light in the darkness if they had looked out of the window, but at that moment the occupants of the pretty Chalet near the sanatorium were occupied with the dressing of the Christmas tree and putting out shoes in the hope that on the next day St Nicholas would have filled them with gifts.

The chalet by the lake was a school, run along English lines for English girls. The head mistress of the school was a certain Miss Browne, known, with rather less than more affection, by her girls as The Fawn. The school had moved out to the Tiernsee as an experiment by Miss Browne at the beginning of September, and, it must be said, the move had not been wholly successful. There was another school on the lake, which St Scholastika’s (as Miss Browne had named her transported school) developed a rivalry with, this had resulted in a bad accident for one of the Saints and expulsion for another. It had also nearly resulted in the death of Joey Bettany, sister of Madge Russell, the owner of the Chalet School on the other side of the lake. It was from St Scholastika’s school that the light was twinkling out.

Up at the Sonnalpe, Joey Bettany had just finished reading a story to her little adopted sister, the Robin, before she went to sleep. Joey then returned to her sister Madge and Madge’s husband, the great Dr Russell in the saal. However, on taking one look at her sister, Madge had ordered her up to her bedroom to do something about her hair, which, according to Madge looked as if it were a rats nest! Having reduced her hair back to something more acceptable Joey was just running down the stairs when she happened to look through the small, un-curtained window, which afforded the chalet a clear view of the lake and beyond. The light twinkling from St Scholastika’s caught her eye, and she paused for a moment, a thoughtful look on her face, and then ran down the last few steps and entered the saal.

“I say Madge,” she exclaimed, “I thought St Scholastika’s was empty for Christmas, that everyone had gone home.”

Madge Bettany glanced at her husband before she replied “According to Jem, Miss Browne has decided to stay. He was in Buchau this morning and saw Herr Braun who told him.”

“But why?” asked Joey, “Surely she can’t be staying there alone over Christmas?” Joey had no particular love for Miss Browne, but she was a sympathetic girl and she found the thought of Miss Browne staying alone in her school for Christmas a sad one.

Madge glanced at Jem again, and raised her eyebrows, Jem returned the look with a suspicion of a nod.

“Apparently,” said Jem, “Her family in England have two small children, both of whom have developed Chicken Pox, and so Miss Browne is unable to go and stay with them. Luckily the letter informing her of this reached her before the school left for England and so she decided to remain here rather than travel to England with the school.”

“But why have we only just heard about this?” asked Joey in surprise.

“Don’t be silly!” said Jem, have you forgotten the weather we have been having for the last week? I was only able to get down to Buchau today now the snow has finally stopped.”

“But she can’t stay alone for Christmas!” exclaimed Joey.

“That is just what Jem and I were saying when you came in,” replied her sister.

“Couldn’t she stay at the Kron Prinz Karl?” asked Joey.

Jem and Madge looked at each other again, “The problem is Joey,” answered Jem, “And I am telling you this in confidence, Miss Browne does not have much money. She spent most of it moving her school out here, and it hasn’t as yet made her profit. The Kron Prinz Karl is not cheap, and so Miss Browne has elected to stay at the school.”

Joey looked at her sister and her brother-in-law, “It just doesn’t seem right,” she said, “being alone at Christmas.” She took a deep breath, “Couldn’t we invite her here?”

Madge’s face broke into a beaming smile, “Bless you Joey Baba, that is just what Jem and I were thinking.”

“If Ted and I set off now,” said Jem, “We can make it to Buchau and invite her, then, if she is agreeable, we can walk over in the morning, pick her up, and walk back in time for dinner. What do you think?”

“I think it is a splendid idea,” said his wife, reaching over and planting an affectionate kiss on his cheek.

Over at St Scholastika’s Miss Browne pulled her cardigan a little more tightly around her. She stepped towards the window, away from the warmth of the fire, for she had not furnished her school with the large stoves found in most Austrian chalets and as a result the room was very unevenly heated. She looked around 50 years of age, but was in fact several years younger, but a hard life and discontent had aged her. She looked out onto the lake, and sighed deeply. She was beginning to think she had made a mistake, not only in remaining in the school for Christmas, but also in bringing her school out to Austria. She sighed again, and shivered, and shut the curtains. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day and she would be alone for she had given the staff the holidays off, it was not a day she was looking forwards to. She shivered again, and settled back down into her chair. She picked up her book, and put it down again. She poured herself a cup of tea, but on taking a sip discovered the pot had gone cold. She was just reaching for her book once more when she heard the crunch of footsteps on the path outside, followed by a loud knock at the door. Pulling her cardigan even tighter around herself, she went to answer it.

When the conversation with the visitors was over and they had left, Miss Browne hurried to her bed room and began to pack a few clothes, her face looked less lined and more cheerful and she was humming under her breath. She pulled out the bag of presents she had intended to give to her family in England, there must be something in there she could give to the Russells and young Joey and Robin as thanks for the Christmas invite.

When she went to bed that night, Miss Browne was pleased to discover that she was looking forwards to Christmas day after all.


(I have taken a few liberties with the geography of the place I'm afraid)

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 Post subject: Re: Advent Drabbles 2015 - updated 3rd December 2015
PostPosted: 03 Dec 2015, 09:32 
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That was lovely - thank you, Robin. I always feel a bit sorry for Miss Browne.

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 Post subject: Re: Advent Drabbles 2015 - updated 3rd December 2015
PostPosted: 03 Dec 2015, 10:19 
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Quote:
(I have taken a few liberties with the geography of the place I'm afraid)


As did EBD :)
Thank you Robin, nice contrast between the happy home scene and the lonely woman - the teapot being cold was a lovely touch.


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 Post subject: Re: Advent Drabbles 2015 - updated 3rd December 2015
PostPosted: 03 Dec 2015, 10:25 
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Thank you Robin, that was a lovely Christmas story. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Advent Drabbles 2015 - updated 3rd December 2015
PostPosted: 03 Dec 2015, 10:34 
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Thank you Robin - true spirit of Christmas.


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 Post subject: Re: Advent Drabbles 2015 - updated 3rd December 2015
PostPosted: 03 Dec 2015, 11:08 
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It's so good to see things from such different viewpoints - poor Miss Browne. At least she will be warm and comfortable for a few days. At least - I hope they will keep her for more than just Christmas Day.....

Thank you Robin.

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 Post subject: Re: Advent Drabbles 2015 - updated 3rd December 2015
PostPosted: 03 Dec 2015, 13:27 
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A telling contrast between the warmth in the chalet on the Sonnalpe and the loneliness and cold of St. Scholastika's. Interesting that although Madge and Jem were already thinking of inviting Miss Browne to join them, they waited for the suggestion to come from Joey, knowing how "clannish" she could be at times. I'm glad her naturally generous side won.

Thank you Robin.


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 Post subject: Re: Advent Drabbles 2015 - updated 3rd December 2015
PostPosted: 03 Dec 2015, 15:26 
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Thank you to all the Robins. These stories are putting me in the mood for Christmas. I can remember what it's like to have extra guests thrust upon you at short notice, so these last two stories brought back a great deal of memories - not all happy.


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 Post subject: Re: Advent Drabbles 2015 - updated 3rd December 2015
PostPosted: 03 Dec 2015, 19:10 
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Sweet. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Advent Drabbles 2015 - updated 3rd December 2015
PostPosted: 03 Dec 2015, 19:44 
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That was a lovely take on Christmas, thank you Robin.

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 Post subject: Re: Advent Drabbles 2015 - updated 3rd December 2015
PostPosted: 03 Dec 2015, 19:45 
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Aw, so glad they rescued poor Miss Browne from her lonely Christmas! She was a brave woman, as brave as Madge, selling up in England to try her luck in Austria and I was always rather pleased that she ended up with an inheritance and the prospect of a comfortable retirement!


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 Post subject: Re: Advent Drabbles 2015 - updated 3rd December 2015
PostPosted: 04 Dec 2015, 08:35 
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Thank you all three Robins so far! I've enjoyed all three stories immensely! :)


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 Post subject: Re: Advent Drabbles 2015 - updated 3rd December 2015
PostPosted: 04 Dec 2015, 09:34 
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4th December: St Barbara’s Day

The kitchen in the pretty Sonnalpe chalet called Die Rosen smelt gloriously of warm gingerbread. Marie Monier had already placed one batch of Lebkuchen in the oven and was busy cutting out a further batch when a footfall in the doorway made her glance up momentarily from her work. It was only her younger sister, Rosa, however, and she turned her attention back to her biscuit dough.

“Master David’s asleep then?” was all she said.

“Yes, at last,” Rosa said. “Aren’t teeth awful? I mean, whilst they’re sound, it’s good to have nice things to eat which you can bite into, but they cause so much trouble when they first come through and so much trouble when they go bad.”

A sudden crash raised Marie’s head again. "Rosa! What are you doing? What are you looking for?”

The younger girl was kneeling on the floor with her head half-inside one of the kitchen cupboards, rummaging amidst the pots and pans.

“I’m looking for a vase. I’m sure I’ve seen one, Marie. A tall, thin one, made from blue glass, I think.”

“I know the one you mean. I don’t think it’s in here, though. Herr Doktor Russell took it a few weeks ago for his study to hold those long tapers for the fire. What do you want with it?”

“Oh… nothing. Just… nothing.”

***

Later in the day Marie returned to the kitchen after having spent some time with her young mistress discussing plans for Christmas meals. The light was starting to fade and there was a threat of a heavy snow shower brewing so she was glad when she and Frau Russell had been interrupted by the early arrival home of Herr Doktor Russell . He had checked that his patients at the Sanatorium were settled and had wisely handed their care over to his colleagues in order to spend some time at home reading medical journals which had arrived in the post from England over the weekend and then to enjoy the company of his pretty young wife and baby son. Marie had just lifted the kettle onto the stove when Herr Doktor Russell appeared in the kitchen doorway, much as Rosa had earlier, but with a frown on his face.

“Marie, there’s a pile of tapers which has appeared on my desk in the study. Weren’t they in a jug or something by the fireplace?”

“Ach Du meine Güte! That girl! I am sorry, Herr Doktor, but I think Rosa may have taken the vase they were in. She mentioned it to me earlier but I don’t know what she wanted it for nor where she has…” Marie’s voice trailed off as she suddenly caught sight of something on the floor, tucked in beside the stove, half-obscured from view. “I will speak with her.”

***

Marie found her sister sitting in the nursery, embroidering daisies onto a piece of ribbon destined to adorn a Christmas Day frock for little Peggy Bettany, who was playing with a doll whilst her brother Rix sat on the floor nearby trying to stack bricks but hindered by his smaller cousin, David Russell, who kept snatching them.

“Rosa, what is this?”

Marie was brandishing a handful of long twigs with scant attention to the drips of water which were falling from them onto the nursery lino. Rosa’s face fell. She gave a slight shrug of her shoulders but said nothing.

“Du bist ein dummes Mädchen, a foolish girl,” Marie scolded. “Barbarazweige, at your age!”

“I’m sixteen!” Rosa protested.

“You’re not sixteen until February!”

“Well, I’ll be sixteen long before the next year is out and that is old enough to be married.”

“And who would be marrying you, eh? I have not noticed a queue of suitors waiting to serenade you below the balcony.”

Rosa burst into tears. “It’s not fair,” she gasped, between sobs. “You’re pretty and everyone knew you were a good cook and housekeeper even before Andreas arrived on the scene. And Lieserl is so gorgeous to look at that she, indeed, has a queue of suitors. And me? I’m just dumpy Rosa, destined to look after other people’s children.”

“Oh, Röslein,” Marie said, relenting with a sigh, and sitting down next to her. “Yes, you are looking after other people’s children now but that’s because you are good at it and are well-trusted despite your lack of years.”

“Indeed,” said a voice from the doorway and the sisters looked up to see their young mistress standing there with the gentle smile on her face which they both knew and loved. “What is this talk of leaving us, Rosa? What has brought all of this on?”

Marie lifted up the twigs. “This, gnädige Frau. Do you know our tradition? Die Barbarazweige?”

Madge Russell shook her head.

“It is for Saint Barbara, whose day we celebrate today. We are told that the saint was imprisoned and then killed by her father because she professed to be a Christian. Whilst she was in prison she found a branch of the cherry tree in her cell and when she sprinkled water from her drinking cup onto it, it burst into flower. So now, some foolish young girls bring cherry tree twigs into the house on Saint Barbara’s day and put them in water by the stove. If they flower by Christmas Eve, then it is supposed to mean that the girl will be married before the next year is out.”

“Oh, Rosa, if a husband were to carry you off, how would we cope without you?” Madge asked. “And we will need you here more than ever next year. Marie will have her own little one, your niece or nephew, in just a couple of months and… well, David is to have a brother or sister around Eastertide. Then there’s my brother’s wife, Frau Bettany, who is expecting another baby any day now and who will, I am sure, want in due course to entrust that child to your care here in the healthy air of our lovely Alps rather than try to bring him or her up in the heat of India.”

“And it’s nicer to be embroidering pretty things for a child than darning a husband’s socks, believe me,” Marie said drily. “The little ones love you, Rosa, and I love having my sister working alongside me. Be content to be with us for a little longer. You are still a young girl and there will be time enough to grow older and wiser before the right man comes along, if that is God’s will for you. Be happy and content with us in the meantime. And, besides, the Herr Doktor needs his taper holder back!”

Note: For more on this tradition in German-speaking countries, see https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/activities/view.cfm?id=963
And, alas, Rosa was destined to remain unmarried.

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 Post subject: Re: Advent Drabbles 2015 - updated 3rd December 2015
PostPosted: 04 Dec 2015, 09:37 
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Aww, that was lovely :D .

I sometimes wonder if having to look after all those zillions of kids might have put both Rosa and Anna off the idea of marriage, though!

Thank you, Robin :D .

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 Post subject: Re: Advent Drabbles 2015 - updated 3rd December 2015
PostPosted: 04 Dec 2015, 09:46 
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Thank you Robin (pretty sure I've guessed the author of this one); that was lovely. 'Specially nice to see the interaction between the two sisters.


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 Post subject: Re: Advent Drabbles 2015 - updated 3rd December 2015
PostPosted: 04 Dec 2015, 10:36 
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Oh how nice to be reminded of this tradition Robin - my German friend does this with plum blossom. I wonder if it will work with pear or apple, all I have in the garden here :D

Thank you....

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 Post subject: Re: Advent Drabbles 2015 - updated 3rd December 2015
PostPosted: 04 Dec 2015, 12:26 
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Thank you for that, it was lovely. I've never heard of that tradition. I love to be educated through the chalet school!


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