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cont. Invisible Chains
"Frumie! I don't like it here! I want to go
home!" Frumie paused in the act of making
Judy's bed and stared at her sister.
"But Judy," she said, surprise in her voice, "you were
the one who wanted to come here! I thought you were
happy. You seem to be making friends."
"I know, I know," Judy interrupted impatiently, "and
it's not bad most of the time. But it's having to sleep
here, all by myself...."
True, she had been excited to come and, as soon as
she had set eyes on the house, she had fallen in love with
it. The school was housed in Kettering Manor, as it had
originally been called, an imposing Victorian-style
building, set in extensive grounds. The entrance hall was
wide and held a beautiful oak staircase that appealed to
Judy's artistic sense. The doors and corridors of the
building were wide, which was lucky for Judy, as it made
propelling the wheelchair easier.
The atmosphere at the school was cheerful and the
girls, in their friendly way, did their best to make Judy
feel at home. But it was at night-time that loneliness
overcame her. That was when she missed her parents
and her brothers and sister most. She also missed her
room with all her things. At home, in their small house
in Liverpool, she had shared a room with Frumie and
four-year-old Miri and it had felt so homey and cozy
Now here she was, absolutely alone in a room someone
else had decorated, on the top floor of a large mansion
with only the matron in the next room for company
Mrs. Langfeld's original intention had been for Judy
to sleep in one of the dormitories, but the matron, Miss
Zemmel, had insisted that it would be better to put Judy
into the room next to hers, where she could keep an eye
"I don't like Miss Zemmel!" Judy went on plaintively
"I thought you said she was nice," Frumie reminded
her. "You said she was a lot like Dr. Schlussel."
"Well, she does remind me of Dr. Schlussel," Judy
agreed, "mainly because of her German accent. And I
suppose she's quite kind, really But she's so strict^
"It's for your own good," Frumie told her, trying to
"But it's not fair! Why do I have to be under her
watchful eye the whole time? The other girls don't! It's
not my fault that I can't walk! Oh, Frumie! Why can't
you sleep here, with me? Ask Mrs. Langfeld. I'm sure
she'll let you."
Frumie's heart sank. This was the last thing she
wanted. Had that been the arrangement from the start
she would not have minded. She had been determined
to remain aloof and not become involved with the
other girls. But now, only a few weeks after they had
come, she found herself warming up to the school's
warm atmosphere and responding to the friendliness of
the girls. She particularly liked her roommates in the
dormitory. She was beginning to feel comfortable and
at ease with them even though she still missed her par-
ents and her noisy but lovable brothers and sister.
Frumie had not even realized that she felt this way
until this moment, when she found she was reluctant to
comply with Judy's request. But, unwilling as she was,
she knew that it was a request she could not refuse.
After all, as Judy put it, it was not her fault that she was
unable to walk....
Mrs. Langfeld eyed the girl in front of her with a
penetrating glance. "Is that really what you want?" she
asked searchingly. "Yes," Frumie replied, avoiding the
headmistress's eyes. "That's why I'm here, isn't it? To
keep an eye on Judy."
"I admit that's why I wanted you to come. Your being
here certainly helps, but there's no reason for you to be a
martyr. You're a person in your own right, you know."
"But Judy isn't happy sleeping in that room! She
wants me there!" Frumie protested, her voice rising.
"Maybe she does. But Frumie, I'm asking you and
please answer me honestly is it what you want?"
Frumie colored. "What I want doesn't count," she
replied, still averting her gaze. "It's not me who's crippled."
"That has nothing to do with it," the headmistress
told her. 'Judy might want you there, but she doesn't
need you. Miss Zemmel can look after her."
"You don't understand!" Frumie cried, looking up at
last with an expression in her eyes that Mrs. Langfeld
could not fathom out.
"No, I don't," the headmistress admitted. "Perhaps
you will explain to me why you feel obliged to pander to
Judy's every whim."
"Because..." Frumie faltered. Then she blurted out,
her eyes ablaze, "...because it was all my fault!"
"You mean Judy's accident?" Mrs. Langfeld asked.
Frumie nodded dumbly looking down. Tears formed
in her eyes.
"Frumie," Mrs. Langfeld spoke gently, "would you
like to tell me what happened?"
Frumie shook her head vehemently "I can't!" she
declared. "Please don't ask me to!"
"You don't have to," Mrs. Langfeld assured her. "I
just thought it would do you good to get it off your
chest" If you do ever feel you want to talk about it you
can always come and speak to me. But please take my
advice and don't let yourself become your sister's slave.
You're not doing her any good. Understand?"
Frumie nodded again, but there was a doubtful
expression on her face.
"So I am going to say 'no' to your request," the head-
mistress went on. "I certainly don't think it's a good idea
for you to move out of your dormitory!"
The finality of her tone prevented any further
protest from Frumie.
"Yes, Mrs. Langfeld," she said meekly, standing up.
Taking her leave, she hurried out of the office.
Mrs. Langfeld was thoughtful as she watched Frumie
go. The girl had looked worried but Mrs. Langfeld had a
feeling that mingled with Frumie's expression of concern
there had also been a hint of relief.
So the reason for Frumie's martyrdom was a feeling
of guilt. She blamed herself for Judy's accident. Mrs.
Langfeld had never been told the facts of the accident,
but she had a feeling that Frumie was not quite as blame-
worthy as she let herself think. The headmistress herself
felt a sudden pang of guilt. Had she been aware of the
situation she would not have insisted that Frumie accom-
pany her sister to the school. It would have been better
for both of them to have been separated. Oh well, it was
too late for that now. She could not send either of them
back home. But she was determined to do all she could
to loosen the chain that bound Frumie to her sister.
Judy was feeling rather disgruntled. She couldn't
even say why. It wasn't that she was unhappy here at the
school, especially now, since Mrs. Langfeld had per-
suaded Miss Zemmel to let her sleep in a dormitory
with the other girls. She liked the place and the girls
were quite sweet and friendly. They treated her like a
normal human being and included her in most of their
activities. It was times like today when it was hard.
An outing was arranged for every Rosh Chodesh and
today, Rosh Chodesh Shevat, was no exception. Although
the snow had been washed away by a spell of rain, it was
still bitterly cold and icy Therefore, instead of going on
an outdoor trip it was decided that the girls would visit a
nearby museum. Judy, unfortunately couldn't go since
the museum was housed in a building with a lot of steps
and her wheelchair would have presented a problem.
"Oh Frumie, you're going to stay here with me, aren't
you?" Judy wheedled. "I can't stay here alone!"
Of course Frumie agreed to stay with her. How
could she go off and enjoy herself when Judy had to stay
behind...all because of her disability
One or two of the girls offered to stay instead, but
Frumie declined their offers, insisting that it was her
place to stay with Judy and no one else's.
Mrs. Langfeld tried to persuade Frumie to go, but
she gave up when she realized that Frumie was adamant,
and that she would probably feel too guilty to enjoy her-
self anyway Mrs. Langfeld shrugged and walked away
with a disapproving air, making Judy feel guilty
And now the girls had all left, rushing out of the
school building to scramble onto the buses waiting out-
side. Most of them turned round with a last minute
sympathetic wave toward the two sisters. But Judy had
an uncomfortable feeling that most of the sympathy was
directed toward Frumie and not toward her. Why? It
just wasn't fair! She was the one stuck in a wheelchair
not Frumie! She leaned back in her chair and closed her
eyes, wallowing in a surge of self-pity.
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