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© Rob McGibbon, 2013

9th February

get up usual time, usually feel possitively wretched Mondays, but to-day, I feel quite bright for a change, nothing special happens, have a long talk to Mlle Giomar in the chicken-run, she is very nice indeed + speaks english beautifully, I am in her dormitory. am not sorry when the days gone although have felt brighter than usual, in the evening do fancy work + talk after dinner, usual thing, never alters + is getting a bit boring now, to-morrow I get a letter from Mums, hurrah.

10th February

wake up with a rotten cold, cough + head-ache, go to music lesson but feel to bad to play, so go + lie down in the infirmery, have some hot tea, feeling a bit better, go for a walk with girls think I saw Mrs Keille [?] am not sure, in afternoon feel rotten again, but have heaps of letters + they cheer me up, lovely ones from home, answer them + ask if I can go to bed early as head aches so, find out that I can so do so, have hot grog + all kinds of poultices then settle for night, though dont feel like sleeping at all!!!

11th February

had a fairly good night, feel a bit better this morning, don’t get up till 8 o’clock, talk to Mlle whilst I am dressing she is nice, she always cheers me up, last night she gave me a tangerine to eat in bed. practise + study till déjeuner, go upstairs to watch gyms instead of going out in the chicken-run! never seen such funny gyms in my life! no wonder the girls are short + stumpy! had a ripping letter from Norah [?] with heaps of home news! ah! it makes me long to be there!! never mind, to-morrows Thursday. go to painting in afternoon but head aches so, so stop at 3 o’clock at and sit in Salle d’etude reading + talking to american girl, same sort of evening do fancy work, am not to get up till 8 again in the morning, have a good night, bar waking up once or twice, always feel more cheery when am going out the next day!! + its the carnival in a weeks time nearly, so must buck up a bit!!!!!

12th February

A precious Thursday is circled because it meant a day out with Lily. But Olive’s diary falls silent…

13th February

Olive’s condition worsens and she is moved from her “petit dortoire” to the school’s infirmary.

Oblivious to his daughter’s illness, Thomas Higgins continues to oversee extensive renovation works at The Hydro Hotel, which has been closed since early January.

15th February

News reaches Thomas Higgins and Peggs that Olive has been struck down with influenza. Peggs sends a telegram saying she will travel at once to Paris, but Olive replies: “Do not worry – nothing serious.”

As usual on Sunday mornings, the girls at the school attend mass in the chapel wearing their black veils.

“On fête days we go to mass twice or once a day wearing long white veils (on other days we wear black veils) + all looking most bridal-like, I only go to mass, Sundays + fête -days.”


16th February

A telegram to Thomas and Peggs brings reassuring news that Olive’s condition is improving.

17th February

Further news from Paris reveals that Olive’s condition has worsened overnight, so Peggs leaves on the earliest boat for France.

Much later, most likely after Peggs arrives at the school, an emergency telegram is dispatched to Thomas Higgins, who is urgently located in Margate town. The telegram states Olive is now gravely ill.

Thomas is able to arrange for his friend Sir Maurice Abbot-Anderson to accompany him immediately to Paris. Sir Maurice is the leading physician to Princess Louise, the Princess Royal, and her family. She is the eldest daughter of King Edward VII.

When Thomas and Sir Maurice arrive at the school they discover that the two doctors treating Olive – one French and an English doctor resident in Paris – have all but given up hope. She now has double pneumonia. Sir Maurice begins to treat her…

18th February

This day had been circled by Olive.

With hardly a break from the bedside, Sir Maurice continues to treat Olive, with Peggs and Thomas in constant attendance…