Well I am still working well on my WIP Hilda. I have moved on a few years to 1914 and the beginning of World War One. This work is quite different to anything I have written before. I am really enjoying it, but some of the research is proving problematic from down in Oz. The internet is an amazing boon but it has its limits.
However, I have found some recordings of people speaking Warwickshire English which has helped me remember the speech. I picked Warwickshire deliberately because I remember long conversations with some of my Mum’s cousins who lived in that part of the world (a couple still do). Mum went to Grammar School so she lost her accent and all the local idiom. Her cousins didn’t, so when I met them they still used the local speech of the generation after Hilda’s.
All in all that gives a flying start to this boy from Oz.
This week’s scene follows straight on from last week. Hilda and the other children arrive at the school gates. Little Wilf has a hard start, while Dolly gets a treat.
They came up to the boys’ school gate all too soon for little Wilfred.
At the sight of his tearful eyes Hilda felt her heart breaking, but there was nothing much she could do to help. She was not allowed to enter the boys’ half of the school unless her teacher sent her with a message. She bent down by his ear at the gate, ‘Do you remember what you need to tell the master?’
Wilf nodded, ‘Good, but just to help you remember you tell me where we live.’
He swallowed, ‘Wharf Cottage on Shipston Road.’
‘That’s right Wharf Cottage, Shipston Road, in Tenton. And what is Dad’s name?’
‘Good and your date of birth?’
‘The second of April 1905.’
‘Well done! Now Dolly and I will watch you go in, and remember wait by the gate for us this afternoon.’
He looked very small going up to the door, he paused on the top step. Hilda waved, Wilf’s lip quivered but he stepped inside.
‘He’ll be alright.’ said Maggie.
‘I hope so.’
‘He will,’ confirmed Dolly, ‘goin’ in is the hard part.’
A sense of homecoming came to Hilda walking up the stair and into the girls’ classroom.
‘Good morning girls.’ The cheery greeting came from Miss Wilson, sat at her desk at the front of the room.
‘Good morning Miss Wilson,’ chimed Hilda and Dolly.
‘Good morning Miss,’ added Maggie.
‘I see we have a new girl. Come here girls.’
Hilda retrieved the algebra book from her satchel as she approached the desk, ‘I’s finished your book Miss Wilson.’
‘Did you complete all the problems?’
‘Well done,’ Miss Wilson took the book from Hilda’s outstretched hand, ‘did you find answers to all the problems?’
‘They was hard at first. But soon I understood how they worked.’
Dolly had to add,‘Her got in trouble from our mum for spending too much time on it.’
‘She, Dolly, she was in trouble.’ Miss Wilson smiled, ‘Dolly would you like to put the chalks out on the desks?’
Dolly’s eyes shone, the honor was usually reserved for the oldest girls. ‘Yes please miss!’
As Dolly hurried to the corner desk where the box of new chalk was kept, Miss Wilson turned to the older girls. ‘Hilda, I would like you to be one of my monitors this year.’
A warm glow of pride suffused Hilda’s being, ‘Thank you Miss.’
Miss Wilson’s smiling brown eyes shared her pleasure, ‘I think you will do a good job, the hardest trick for you will be to understand that the other girls will not grasp things as quickly as you. Especially mathematics.’ She turned to Maggie, ‘Welcome to my class, now first things first, I will need to enter you in our roll.’
The roll book was a large green bound book, already on the desk, Miss Wilson was no doubt expecting new children at the start of the new term. Hilda had a momentary pang at the thought of Wilf trying to get through his day next door. ‘Now, what is your name?’
‘Margaret Prosser, Miss, people mostly call me Maggie.’
‘Very well Maggie it is, I imagine you are coming into grade six Maggie?’
‘And are you a diligent student?’
‘Good, I will need to chose a few more monitors from the older girls. Do you think you could start straight away, or would you like to get to know the school for a week or two first?’
Maggie looked around the room, ‘I think I should like to begin now Miss.’
‘Excellent,’ Miss Wilson turned to Hilda, ‘would you please get Dolly a new box of chalk from the storeroom.’As she hurried to her appointed task she heard Miss Wilson continue with enrolling Maggie, ‘Now Maggie, where do you live?’
|The Grand Hall, National Gallery of Victoria|