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Letters Between Two Captains

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First weekend back at school. Summer seems to be receding fast, real life on hold - it seems like it can't be only a week ago we were all sailing back from Wild Cat Island. It seems like everything is being swallowed by the pointlessness of school, but for you, you are off to be a cadet. You'll have to tell me about all your adventures (although I don't know how different it will be from school to begin). Here they are making a fuss about trying to get us all planning for what we are to do after school and organising us into classes for those who are taking School Cert. Surprisingly, I've ended up in most of those, so will probably come out of this year qualified, for what good that might do.

Anyway, Captain Flint is already talking about Easter - he has almost promised to take us all out in a proper ship, but he says it depends on who will lend him one, as Goblin really isn't big enough for nine (or ten if Bridgie is allowed to come). He has various friends he is talking to, so it might be the Baltic or Scotland, or possibly further afield, depending where the ship is based. He thinks he can wrangle us a week or maybe two, of sailing, but that depends on your mother as well as the Captains.

***

Sorry for the long gap between letters - we are under leter checks here as one of the other girls decided to be sending letters to someone who was courting her without her parents's permission (her choice of language) and while she was posting them at the post office, she didn't think the Mistresses would notice the return address on letters she received - really planning is apparently not something to do. But the upshot is we are only allowed to send letters once a week, and only three at a time, all of which have to have their recipients checked.

You've probably heard some of this from Susan as Peggy was writing to her - and it covers all of us, and everyone is steaming mad about it. It is such a load of rubbish as if one wanted to get around it, it would be very easy, provided you have a brain.

Anyway, Peggy and I are trying to share letters as much as possible, but I had to write to the GA as she sent me a pleasant (!!) letter about my Grandfather. Well, and other relatives. It seemed very odd, but maybe after the summer, she feels I'm old enough to tell stories to and from what Dot said in the summer maybe she is lonely and trying her best for us and Mother really. It is very strange to see her like that, but I guess that it makes sense, I mean most of the time Dot sees people very clearly. Anyway, I wrote as good a reply as I could (and got Peggy to check it). If the GA expected me to not share the letter with her, she should have said.

Good to hear about your settling in at the Naval college, I suppose it was too much to expect none of your classmates to be idiots, even there!

Good for Bridget! Focusing on her swimming makes a lot of sense, as I can see why it would be something for your mother to require for further adventures - even if she shouldn't be an Egyptian again. The Baltic is looking less likely for Easter, but we shall see!

***

Christmas card, sketch of Arctic explorers

Happy Christmas! It sounds like we won't see you all properly this holiday at all, but I suppose that is to be expected. Mother is making us spend the holidays visiting our Blackett aunts and uncles - but she promises that this means we will be free at Easter, when the weather will be better for sailing.

Hope the weather allows you all some fun, even if you can't explore properly.

***

You've heard from CF with all the plans for sailing in the Sea Bear by now. Isn't it great!

No real interesting news here, term grinds on with the weather being dreary. So not even hockey as a distraction - walks in the rain are much less fun when they aren't exploring and you have to be sensible and try not to get muddy.

Jibbooms and bobstays! A goat in the Commandant's office! I have to wonder how they got it there. I do think it is rather idiotic, but still funny in its way. It has the advantage over most of the pranks people try of being original, but I see your point about it being unsuitable behaviour for cadets. But saying things like that to them is going to make them think you are a stick-in-the-mud. Just because they are too silly to actually do anything interesting and need to resort to practical jokes and the like doesn't mean that you want to make enemies of them (especially if you don't want slugs in your shoes).

***

Summer term

I got a letter from Mother about how the GA is being told to go to Switzerland for her health and wants Mother to go with her. It seems really unfair on Mother, but I can see why the GA would prefer not to travel alone. I've written to her to offer to go with her. That is, I've written to the GA offering to go - after all it will be once I've finished school cert and there is no real reason for me to come back here next year.

Unlike Peggy as she is still taking about Nursing College with Susan, although between the two of them I don't know whose idea it really is - but mother has been talking to the doctor here and arranged for Peggy to spend some time in the summer with a midwife friend of his, so she can get practice at all the blood and gore, and see if that turns her from the idea. Apparently too many nursing trainees turn up never having delt with anything with much blood, gore, and so on and then number that run away or faint it shocking.

***

That is certainly a good point of your father's - I'll learn as much German as I can while I'm there. I'm sorry I'll miss seeing you all at the Lake this summer, but I can understand Aunt Maria preferring to travel before the main summer rush.

At least it gets me out of all the end of term fusses here. The few people who know I'm leaving are sworn to secrecy. Peggy sort of does and doesn't understand why I'm doing this, I suppose she can borrow some of your crew for Amazon. I expect good dispatches to know all your adventures!

I promise sketches and reports of any adventures of mine in return!

Postcard, watercolour sketch of the Paris skyline

Greetings to the captains and crews of the ships Swallow, Amazon, and Scarab. Card sketch of the Paris skyline from the hotel. More to follow when there is time, but only a few minutes to post this now it has dried enough before we need to leave for the train.

Nancy

***

It is odd to see Aunt Maria so out of context, she seemed very grateful for me organising the journey, although I had to remember not to order her to jump to like i would Peggy. The journey was hard on her - I suppose it is the first time she has actually looked old in that way, but even with the breaks Harrogate to London, London to Paris, Paris to Basel, and then up into the mountains. She said one night in each and not to linger, but I wonder if I should have argued with that, but at least now she is settling in here.

 

Switzerland is spectacular, although not my choice of place to go if I were setting the itinerary. We are at a quiet hotel full of other foreigners, mostly based here for a while. Thus Aunt Maria has already started to settle in and make friends. She sees my drawing as a respectable hobby for a young lady, and so doesn't mind me disappearing off for most of a day at a time. I think running around in slacks to climb and sketch is so much more respectable to her, when compared with a lot of the activities of the other young people at these resorts - a tomboy is far more to her taste than a fashionable young woman would be.

She seemed slightly sniffy about the dresses Aunt Helen had picked out for me, to start with, as they aren't white or very pale, but I think seeing fashion, she is very much preferring those criticisms to worrying about the length or necklines! According to the more fashionably minded, I look very old fashioned and rather dull, but I'd rather be dull than fashionable - especially as these dresses should last years and you can never say that about fashion.

I'm wondering given her talk whether Aunt Maria wanted to travel when she was younger - possibly she would have if she hadn't been needed to look after Mother and Uncle Jim.

***

Great news of the furthest South expedition, and Dot's cooking! I can see that challenging Susan to follow with more adventures. Good for her to step up to being second mate, with Peggy being so much in charge of Amazon and Bridget!

You'll have seen the pictures I send to Peggy for you all - I have a lot of time for drawing now, although I am making friends, both among the expats and locals. I am working on Aunt Maria to allow me to go on some proper mountaineering trips, but she was uncertain about allowing it as it might involve sleeping in Alpinehutts with strange men, so I have introduced her to some of the women who are doing "manless" climbing, as that solved that objection, but I'm not pushing too much for now - next year will be soon enough.

 

***

Aunt Maria has suggested that I come back to Beckfoot for Christmas, as she knows Mother would want me there. Are you coming up to the Lake in the holidays? If not would you like to meet up in London (not the best place I know, but I have to change trains there). It seems like so long since we last saw each other.