Alice-Miranda in the Alps

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Authors: Jacqueline Harvey
    Nina remembered how her grandfather had tears in his eyes as he watched the tableau come to life. Nina and her mother danced a jig arm in arm and her father stood shaking his head, wondering at his father-in-law’s skill and his wife’s eye for such fine detail.
    That was long ago, when all had been right in Nina’s world. Tourists would come to see Lars Dettwiller’s Mechanical Musical Cabinet Museum filled with violinas, orchestrions, symphonions, organs for grinding, musical chairs and all other manner of automats. The museum was a renowned Alpine attraction, no doubt helped by its location across the cobblestoned street from the most beautiful hotel in all of Zermatt, the Grand Hotel Von Zwicky. The Baron and Baroness visited often and recommended the museum far and wide. There was always something new arriving from a far-flung corner of the globe, often in pieces, tarnished, broken and neglected, until her grandfather set to work restoring it.
    But then almost a year ago, just after her tenth birthday, Nina had arrived home from school to find her grandfather sitting opposite her father at the kitchen table; the old man’s eyes wet and his faceashen, her father looking like a ghost. Nina would never forget the moment she discovered her mother had died. They called it an aneurysm, but she called it the end of the world.
    Her grandfather closed the museum the very next day and had not stepped foot in it since. They had lost him to despair. But surely, Nina thought, the music box had been a sign that Opa wanted to live again – she just had to help him find the way.
    Her father was wrong. Opa shouldn’t go to a home where old people ate their suppers at four in the afternoon and sat around all day, suspended in a no-man’s-land between life and death. She knew about those places. Her father’s mother had been in one. Nina didn’t remember much about the woman but she could recall the building and its antiseptic smell, as if she had gone there a thousand times, instead of just the two visits her parents had taken her on. She wasn’t going to let her grandfather suffer the same fate.
    Nina looked at the dusty orchestrion. ‘Are you ready?’ she asked the figurines.
    The girl walked to the side of the machine and pulled the lever. Slowly, as always, the performers took up their instruments and the tune began. Shestared through the glass at the motley band of players and crossed her fingers. If he heard them, she thought, maybe it would be enough to bring him back to them.

Millie and Alice-Miranda were riding the chairlift to the top of the run. After lunch Hugh and Hamish had decided to take the children up onto the mountain while Cecelia and Pippa did a bit of shopping. Mrs Shillingsworth had opted to go for a leisurely walk in the village to see if she could spot the famous Heidi hut and leaning tower, both well-known landmarks.
    â€˜I think my turns were getting better on the last run,’ Millie said.
    â€˜You were fast,’ Alice-Miranda said as she clacked her skis together, sending a little shower of snow onto the slope below.
    Millie wrinkled her nose as a stiff breeze blew an overpowering fragrance towards them. She pointed at the stylishly dressed woman with a mane of bouncy brunette curls in the chair in front. ‘Do you think her perfume’s strong enough?’
    Alice-Miranda sniffed the air. ‘It is a bit much, isn’t it?’
    â€˜It smells like cloves mixed with something else I can’t stand,’ Millie said, trying to think what it was.
    â€˜Ginger,’ Alice-Miranda suggested.
    â€˜Urgh, that’s it,’ Millie agreed. ‘It’s gross.’
    The woman had spent the entire ride whining loudly as she tousled her hair and fiddled with her headband while the man beside her talked nonstop on his phone. He was gesticulating wildly and at one point almost dropped his stocks.
    The woman’s strongly

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