Published in 1934, this installment takes place just before A22_Rosamund’s Victory. Like its two predecessors, Maidlin to the Rescue has the subtitle that provides the important information that this is part of the Abbey series. The book serves as an installment that shows Maidlin becoming more mature and capable. It also has the important role of introducing two teenaged girls who can be heroines for a couple of stories until the second generation grows old enough to be viable heroines.
There is no folk dancing until the last two pages.
Plot Synopsis (Contains Spoilers)
The story opens with Rachel (sixteen and a half) and Damaris (fifteen and a half) Ellerton out on the Yorkshire fells (hills) somberly discussing their plight—their aunt died suddenly several days earlier and they haven’t heard from their father, who has been in America for about eight years, in some time. They have no money and cannot go back to the school they love. Rachel is concerned that her sister needs more education, but Damaris is keen to get a job. They are presently living at a nearby farm as they can’t live alone at the family farm, Crossrigs.
They discuss selling the farm, but can’t bear to let it go out of the family. They talk about their wealthy cousin, Madalena di Ravarati, who has never written to them or visited them. The more impetuous Rachel thinks that she looks down on them, although Damaris suggests that perhaps she doesn’t know about their existence, as they arrived at the farm after she had left. They recall that their aunt had been recently visited by a Miss Baldry, who was opening a tea shop halfway up the mountain and who had mentioned that she needed help. They determine to run away and work for her rather than have cousin Maidlin take pity on them.
With Rachel in the lead, they write a rather nasty note to their cousin which in effect says that they are poor but don’t want her help in any way—however if she wishes to buy or rent the farm she may and their father will pay her back when he returns. They also write to the lawyer and the woman that they are staying with that they have gone to get a job.
They drag themselves up the mountain, wearing their “fell-running” shorts, and arrive at dawn, finding Miss Baldry’s house to be much smaller and dingier than Rachel’s imagination had painted. She feeds them and agrees to take them in on trial. Damaris laughingly says that the place should be called “Hiker’s Halt,” and Miss Baldry agrees and says that she wants the girls to wear their shorts when waiting on customers. This distresses Rachel very much. With the hard physical work and Miss Baldry’s unpleasant personality, both girls are soon very unhappy and realize that they have made a mistake, but don’t know what to do about it. As they move their things in, a paper containing Madalena’s address fluttered out of Rachel’s Bible and she replaces it under Miss Baldry’s eagle eye.
At the Abbey, Maidlin is very surprised to receive a telegram from a lawyer saying that the girls had run away. What girls? She questions her Aunt Ann Watson, who is sick in bed with bronchitis and a kind of depression, with something on her mind, and Ann finally confesses that, a year after Maidlin left the farm, her younger brother brought his daughters there to live while he went back to America to seek his fortune. She was anxious to keep Maidlin in the better social atmosphere of the Abbey and the Hall, so she said nothing about the changes in the family. Ann also reveals that, before she died, her estranged sister on the farm sent her word that the father was dead and that there was no money. Maidlin is stunned to realize that she has relatives on her mother’s side other than Aunt Ann. She then receives the girls’ rather horrible letter and tells Jen that she must go to help them. But where are they?
In the meantime, Miss Baldry, aware that the girls dislike her and that she has mismanaged them and they might run away, copies Maidlin’s address from the paper in the Bible and writes to her. She is hoping for a reward. Maidlin receives the letter and discusses it with Jen and here we get some strange and conflicting responses. “Oh, the rotter!” they say of Miss Baldry, figuring that she must have obtained the address by going through the girls’ things (just not done, my dear!) and that she is giving them away behind their backs (jolly bad form!). However, in the next breath Jen points out that it will make it easier to find them! And to our modern eyes, Miss Baldry is doing the right thing in informing a relative of the minor children’s whereabouts.
Lady Jen Marchwood, leaving her husband at home to worry over the babies and croup (no one has had it yet, but he worries anyway), escorts Maidlin to Yorkshire, driven by Henderson the chauffeur, even though his wife is expecting a baby (isn’t there an under-chauffeur?). They stop at the Halt several times, not revealing who they are, and find the girls to be delightful. On one visit a group of ten hikers show up and Jen laughingly refers to herself and Maidlin as the Brown and Primrose Queens but does not reveal their real names. The pair pitch in to cut bread and make sandwiches.
The next day, Jen hears that the baby does have croup, and races home on the train. Maidlin goes to the Halt and reveals who she is and that she hadn’t known of the girls’ existence. She has quite a tantrum of angry sobbing about the nastiness of the letter, and it convinces Rachel and Damaris that they have made a mistake. They agree to go with her and Maidlin gives Miss Baldry ten pounds. The cousins are reconciled and Maid suggests that Rachel could train to be her secretary now that Biddy is married to her Frenchman, and that Damaris might learn to keep bees on the farm.
For Folk Dancers
Virtually nothing. The day after the girls all arrive back at Abinger Hall it is the Marchwood twins’ sixth birthday. At the party they dance Brighton Camp, Haste to the Wedding, Galopede (all easy dances suitable for children) and the singing game A-hunting we will go. They conclude with Sellenger’s Round, with the twins in the center, gravely bobbing curtseys to the dancers.