A new week, a new discussion thread.
This week is The Chalet Girls In Camp,
first published in 1932, and set during the summer holidays following The Chalet School and Jo.
Thirty girls and three staff - Miss Wilson, Miss Stewart and Miss Nalder - head off to the Baumersee for a fortnight on a Guide camp. This is one of the shortest books in the series - according to the handy word count list at the back of one of my GGBs, only Mystery
are shorter - and to be quite honest I struggled to find any notable events to list for the first five or six chapters! Things only really picked up when they actually get to the camp:
Elisaveta comes out to the Sonnalpe for a holiday as she has been feeling run down, and the King comes out to visit after she has been there for a couple of weeks. He is pleased at the change in her and says she can go to the camp, and also notes that Jo is looking pulled down with the heat.
Jo and Grizel have several minor squabbles, one of which the staff notice and discuss among themselves, wondering whether to pull Grizel up or not for calling Jo 'child'.
After setting up the tents and having a swim in the lake, a singsong is held round the campfire, and the intrigued locals come sneaking through the woods to listen.
That night the camp is awoken by Rufus barking, having smelt a dog from one of the farms who has sneaked into the commissariat tent.
While gathering sticks for the campfire, Cornelia causes a sensation by dragging a massive, sap-ridden young tree that had fallen in the forest back to camp, leaving a trail of destruction behind her.
Jo falls down a hole hidden by leaves and branches in the forest, and fails to recognise Miss Wilson's voice when she asks if she is all right and addresses some uncomplimentary remarks to her. She is mortified when she is finally pulled up with a rope and realises who she was speaking to, but Miss Wilson takes it in good spirit.
The next morning Jo, Juliet and Grizel row out onto the lake to catch fish for breakfast, and receive a bad fright when they end up hooking what they believe is the corpse of a young woman. The local farmer, Herr Semmering, and his men row back out to see, and discover that the corpse is in fact a lay figure that was discarded by an artist who had been staying in the area.
Miss Wilson and Miss Nalder walk to the nearest village for the post and various oddments, and meet up with Jem and Jack Maynard there. When they get back to the camp, they find it lying abandoned, and only just make it back to the car in time before they are ambushed by a cloud of hornets. It transpires that Elisaveta, Evadne, Maria and Hilda Bhaer had spotted their nest and, not knowing what it was, had thrown sticks at it to get it down.
Madge, Wanda and Gisela come out that afternoon to join them, and as they are all leaving Jack reveals to Jo that Miss Maynard, now married, is moving to New Zealand almost at once with her husband. The girls are deeply indignant that she didn't come to say goodbye to them first.
Juliet and Grizel decide to prank Jo by encouraging her and her friends to search the pit she fell into for anything interesting, and they hide a joke parcel in it for her to find. However, Simone also finds a package bound in leather containing letters and relics from a soldier in the army of Andreas Hofer, who had been left to die in the pine woods and hid his treasures in the pit. They are returned to a great-great-great nephew of the soldier who is tracked down by Miss Wilson.
After Elisaveta, Cyrilla and Paula fall into a pond and have nothing left to change into, the Quintette, who are left in charge of the camp for the afternoon, decide (after feeding them a hideous 'medicine' of syrup of figs, Gregory powder, liquorice powder and senna pods) to launder some clothes for them, as well as some other things which they have been running short on. The result is streaky Guide overalls and whites that have been starched so much they have gone completely stiff. The eight of them are roundly scolded, but are pleased to discover from a declaration of Miss Stewart's that her first and middle names are Constance Elizabeth.
As a result of the Quintette's laundering, it is decided that Domestic Science lessons will be instituted at the school in order to train the girls in homemaking.
So, thoughts on this book? Do you enjoy the descriptions of the Baumersee district and the Guide camp? Thoughts on the various dramatic incidents that happen? Did you like the story of the soldier whose belongings were found in Jo's pit?