March 31, 1896 - Elizabeth Basset's Diary

Saturday afternoon the train arrived. The dormitory has been so peaceful for the last week with most of the girls away. Within an hour of the train arriving, the dormitory was a madhouse. Everyone seemed to have their little piece of good news from home. Everyone except those of us who stayed behind.

I tried to stay and listen whilst giving supportive smiles. I was wholly unable to share in the enthusiasm and after a half hour, I had to leave. I walked toward the city with no better place to go in mind. Before I realized what I was doing, I was inside the tavern Penelope and I had snuck off to so that I might learn to play billiards.

“I remember you.” A friendly male voice said.


I turned around to face the speaker and saw it was the tall, slender man who had been so instrumental in my billiard lessons.

“Hello again.” I smiled.

“Back for more billiards or were you looking for something different today?”

“I believe it’s my turn to break.” I answered.

He smiled. We walked over to one of the tables and he began setting up the balls while I chose a cue stick from the rack on the wall. A waitress came over to him.

“Want a thing to drink, darling?” He asked me.

“A tall glass of beer is sounding tempting.” I winked at him.

“Make that two tall glasses.” He said to the waitress and she scurried off.

He finished arranging the balls to his satisfaction and gestured for me to break. I positioned myself at the end of the table and started to take aim although I am fairly confident luck plays a larger role in a successful break than aim.

“It occurs to me I don’t know your name. Mine’s Stanley.”

I looked up at him from where I was leaning over the table. I considered for a moment whether to tell him my name or not. He appeared to read my mind.

Hey, it’s fine with me if you want to remain anonymous. I’ll just call ya Darlin'.”

His easy going manner set me at ease. I laughed a little and smiled again.

“You can call me E.B.”

"E.B. Hmmm. I like it."

Stanley kept the beers coming while we played. By the time we started our third game, I was drunk. Stanley was still going strong and he kept my glass full. By the time we started our fifth I could barely stand and Stanley was helping me take my shots. I may have technically been there but Stanley was really playing with himself by then.

He kept the beer coming and I did not have the good sense to stop on my own. I cannot remember if there was a sixth game or not.

The next thing I remember was a fight. I have an awful feeling it was over me. Stanley and Jonathon were squared off. I knew the situation was far from funny but I laughed anyway. The two boys wrestling, swinging fists and shouting confused words whilst red faced tickled me to no end.

Somehow Stanley ended up face down on the billiard table. I remember wondering if he was as sleepy as I was. I decided I would crawl up on the table and nap with him. I have no idea why I wanted to do that but I did. Fortunately, Jonathon stopped me. He picked me up, threw me over his shoulder, and walked us out of there.

The world went black.

I awoke Sunday morning in my bed. The ringing of the morning bell was a whisper compared to the ringing in my head. I sat up too quickly and the room did a complete turn in both directions at the same time. I barely got hold of the bowl under my bed before I retched.

My roommates decided to say nothing to me. I suppose there was really little to say. I was mostly curious how I ended up in my bed but I had a sinking feeling I really did not want to know yet.

Breakfast was the last thing I wanted but I arrived on time and neatly dressed for church. Whatever had happened the night before must have been secret from most of the girls because none of them were treating me any different than normal. Even Mrs. Carrington was smiling and carrying on like nothing had happened. If I had not been feeling sick I might have passed the whole thing off as a vivid dream.

After church though my memory of events was affirmed when Jonathon approached me.

“Are you all right?” He asked, offering his arm.

I took his arm and began walking with him.

“Yes. I think I owe you my thanks.”

“You do.”

The abrupt response caught my attention and I would have let go of his arm but he had a firm grip on mine and it would have been of little use.

“Thank you.” I said as sweetly as I could manage.

“Do you have any idea how dangerous that was?”

“Yes.”

I turned my head to look him in the eye. He stopped walking.

“Then perhaps you would care to explain yourself?”

"No, I would not.”

He stared back at me. I think he wanted to strike me. He thought better of it though and released his hold on my arm.

“You were lucky this time, Elizabeth. I would be most unhappy if harm were to befall you.”

“Do you think I am an idiot?”

“Of course not. Why would you even ask such a thing?”

“How can you stand there and act as though you care about me?”

“I do care about you. I care about you more than I should.”

“I saw you with Penelope.”

“What?”

“Do you deny it?”

“I may have been with her but it is not what you think.”

“Save your lies for someone who might believe them.”

I turned and walked quickly away. I could feel tears coming and I could not bear for him to know he had made me cry.

Thinking back on it today, I feel I was to harsh with Jonathon. I was angry because I felt betrayed by him when I saw him with Penelope. In truth I have no cause for anger. He is not courting me and has every right to court whomever he wishes.

He did rescue me from an awful situation and somehow managed to sneak me into Carrington Manor without drawing undue attention. Perhaps I should seek him out and apologize. If only I knew what to say.

March 28, 1896 - Edith Bowen's Diary

I have begun reading a new novel this week. Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, by the Sieur Louis de Conte, written by Mark Twain. I have only read one previous novel by Twain, The Prince and the Pauper. I must confess some disappointment as the humor and satire so wittily written into the latter is wholly absent in the former. The book itself maintains some interest for me although I find it difficult to imagine such a woman could have existed 300 years ago.

The crisp pages of fiction are a relief for me. This week has passed slowly and left me devoid of the opportunity I seek. Were I keen to address matters with Elizabeth, my chore would surely be done. However, Penelope is a sly fox. She slips neatly away from every attempt I have made for a moment of privacy with her. She must be aware or suspecting of my motivation by now. Foolish, Penelope is, but dumb, she is not.

Bored with my new novel, I set it aside and chose to go for a late afternoon stroll. I heard the sounds of maternal discipline as I passed by Mrs. Carrington’s den on my way out. From the sounds of it, I would guess Elizabeth was the recipient. The sound stayed with me as I walked.
My thoughts drifted back to my first year at Primrose College. It was not so long ago in time but I feel as though I am different person now from who I was then. My then narrow view of the world has since been expanded and my reckless attitude has been replaced by one of caution and good sense.

In those days I was not so different from Elizabeth. I spent many hours in Mrs. Carrington’s den. I became familiar with every bit of her maternal discipline. It was through that discipline, those intimate moments of nurturing, all my secrets fell away. My hatred of myself and my life turned to admiration and love. Indeed I learned many lessons in that small room and today I recalled one I had nearly forgotten.

Was it two years past already? I think it was. I had failed to make my bed and keep my belongings stored neatly away. Mrs. Carrington had warned me countless times before. She had finally lost patience or perhaps she had realized I would never learn the lesson the easy way. I was stubborn.

Even when called out I was defiant. It was after dinner and she had invited me to her den. It was not the sort of invitation to be refused, yet I refused it. Rather than go willingly I turned my back and started up the stairs. I was trembling inside but outwardly I maintained an air of nonchalance.

“Miss Edith Bowen.” She had called from the foot of the stairs.

I continued walking as though I had not heard her quiet call.

“Keep walking little girl and I will send Mr. Carrington up after you.”

I stopped in my tracks. I remembered seeing Mr. Carrington deal with a girl once before. He had used a strip of leather to welt her from her back to her knees. Even now I can remember her pleas for mercy and forgiveness.

I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, set my jaw and turned around on the stairs. Slowly and deliberately I walked down the steps to Mrs. Carrington. I remained silent and kept my eyes locked on hers with every step. She gazed straight back at me, her eyes unblinking.

“You and I are going to have a discussion. It can be right here or it can be in my den. The choice is yours but you will make the choice this instant.” Her voice was steady and stern as she spoke.
I said nothing but walked toward her den. I kept my head up and ignored the gaping stares of my peers.

Mrs. Carrington entered the room behind me and closed the door. I had an image of every girl in the dormitory leaning their ear up against it, straining to hear what was soon to transpire. The thought nearly brought on a fit of laughter.

“We have had this discussion before, Miss Bowen.” Her voice cut through the air behind me.
I turned to face her. Our eyes met and locked. She was unflinching in her stare. I met it and refused to blink. I must have thought I could win the battle at the time.

“What is your excuse this time?” She asked.

The air felt heavy and tense. I was trembling inside but I would be damned before I let her know.

“You’ll have to be more specific. I dunno what you’re talking ‘bout.”

“Perhaps we should start with your language. We do not use colloquialism in this house. If I have to remind you again you will be eating soap for a week. Do I make myself clear, Little Miss?”

I gritted my teeth holding back and unwise retort of the extremely colloquial variety.

“Yes, Mother Carrington.” I replied after a long silence.

She nodded her head but kept her eyes locked into my own. I think it was right in that moment I knew I was not going to win.

“Now I am still waiting for an explanation as to why you are shirking your responsibilities.”

“I am not.”

“Your bed is unmade, your belongings are strewn throughout the room and the house, you failed to set the dinner table, I could go on and on. You might want to reconsider your response.”

I had no call to be angry, everything she had said was true, but I was angry none the less.

“I didn’t,” I took a deep breath before starting again. “I did not have the time today. I am sorry.” My tone was to the contrary.

Mrs. Carrington was far from oblivious. She breathed aggravation.

“You did not have the time?” She mimicked my tone.

“No, ma’am.” At last I could no longer hold her gaze and my eyes turned to the floor.

She knew she was breaking through then. She could have stopped and sent me to do my undone chores. Instead she sensed an opportunity to push on and bring about the understanding was thus far been lacking.

She walked around behind me, saying nothing. The room was silent except for the sounds of our breathing. Her hands were warm when she laid them on my shoulders. It was only a touch but in it was a compassion and a caring I had never before felt. For a single moment all I wanted was to turn and hug her to me and beg her forgiveness. Then her hands began the work of unfastening my dress.

I refused to cry. I felt betrayed but not by Mrs. Carrington. I felt betrayed by myself. I stood perfectly still while her hands worked away at stripping my dress off. I gave no assistance and no resistance. I said nothing.

When she finished her work, she moved to her desk. I could hear her rummaging through a drawer. I tried not to think about what she was looking for but I knew. I closed my eyes and waited. It was not for nearly long enough.

Her hand wrapped around my upper right arm. I was surprised by her gently grip. Her hand was warm and her hold was secure but not rough. She guided me toward a chair.

Mrs. Carrington sat down on it and waited silently. I bit on my lower lip and stood my ground. I knew what she expected but I could not bring myself to do it. She sighed after a moment and then pulled me over her lap.

She rested the ruler on my back. It felt cold through my dressing gown. I fought an urge to shiver.

“I have dealt with the most spoiled and posh girls imaginable and yet not one of them has been as stubborn and prideful as you.”

I know her purpose was not to make me prouder but for just that moment I was.

“I do not care where you are from, what you are accustomed to, in this house you will follow my rules and you will learn this one way or another.”

I stayed quiet although the retort on the tip of my tongue burned unspoken in my thoughts, “They aren’t your rules, they’re your husbands’” Why did I think that difference mattered?

“From this day forward you will make time for your chores or I will make the time for you. Am I understood?”

Could it get worse if I said no? I cannot adequately describe my temptation to find out. I waited a moment too long to respond. I felt the ruler leave my back and an instant later come crashing down on my upturned buttocks. I bit my tongue in an effort to suppress a cry.

“No, I do not understand.” I spouted angrily through pursed lips.

The ruler repeated its assault. I balled my hands into fists and squeezed my eyes shut. I pictured myself walking on the shore, ocean waves crashing loudly in rhythm with the ruler. As a child I learned to hide from the unpleasantness of the present by imagining a better place and making it real.

Mrs. Carrington and her ruler could not reach me on the shore. There would be no tears, no cries of pain, only silence as I basked in warm sunlight. My toes curled in the warm sand. I was alone and it was summer. I was happy.

The barrage of spanks finally ceased. I was disappointed as the sound had been keeping the illusion alive. When it stopped so did the waves and once again I was laying over her lap instead of on the sand. There was stinging pain but it was bearable. I wondered if she were done.

Mrs. Carrington gripped the hem of my dressing gown and pulled it up my body until my bloomers were exposed. She quietly untied them and pulled the material aside, exposing my naked flesh to her. I tried to pretend not to care, but my face burned hot.

“I can see we have a long way to go.” She said.

The waves began to crash down again. This time just as I was settling into the rhythm of my illusion she stopped. I closed my eyelids tight and tried to imagine the scene anyway, but it was hopeless.

“Now would you like to tell me why you are not doing your chores?”

“Since you ask, no.”

The ruler rained down again in a flurry. Only this time, it struck the backs of my legs instead of my bottom. I bit my cheek and struggled to remain silent.

“Why are you not doing your chores?” She asked again, this time punctuating each word with a hard slap of the ruler on the tender flesh of my legs just below the crease of my buttocks.

Tears threatened to spill from my eyes.

“I never had the opportunity!” I shouted.

“We make our own opportunities, Edith. A woman cannot wait for them to come to her.” She replied.

The ruler berated my bottom again driving home the message. I began to cry. It was not the pain of her assault but the truth of her words. I knew the truth of them all too well. I hated the unfairness of them and had hated it all my life.

“I didn’t want to do them! I hate doing them! I hate you! I hate this place!” I shouted, venom in my voice, through sobs.

Mrs. Carrington did not respond. She only continued to spank. My anger at her robbed me of my sanctuary. I kicked and squirmed but she held me tight to her. I cried out in pain and anger. The ruler fell time and again.

I do not know how long it took but eventually I collapsed. Every muscle in my body surrendered. I lay limp on her lap and simply cried. My tears stained her rug. She continued spanking me but the pace slowed again.

“Not so stubborn now are we?” She asked.

“No, ma’am.” I replied through sniffles.

“Are you going to do your chores from now on?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Are you going to give me the respect I deserve in this house?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Are you ever going to use colloquial language in my presence again?”

“No, ma’am.”

“Are you going to wait for opportunities?”

“No, ma’am.”

“What are you going to do?”

“I will make my own opportunities, ma’am.”

“I think we have made some progress tonight.”

“Yes, ma’am. I am sorry for my behavior. I will do better. I promise.”

“I know.”

With that she finally stopped. She rested the ruler on my back again and I laid peacefully in place. Only when she tugged gently at my shoulders did I move. I stood shakily in front of her and she smiled at me. I fell to my knees in front of her and lay my head in her lap, wrapping my arms around her waist. I could no longer deny my need for physical comfort. Her gentle hands stroked my hair and for the first time in my life, I felt loved.

I had learned much that night. I thought I would never forget any of it and yet here I have been all week waiting for an opportunity again. I am a Primrose girl, we do not wait for opportunities, we create them. It is past time I create one to deal with Penelope.

March 27, 1896 - Penelope Sumter's Diary

For once I suffered through a normal Thursday. I have become so accustomed to my renamed days of the week I had nearly forgotten what a normal week was like. I was slightly sad not to be able to return home for Easter, but the Carrington’s made it as painless as possible. The twenty dollars father sent in the post helped as well.

I went on a shopping spree this week. There was little better to do as most of the boys from Brown are as absent as the girls from Primrose. I did however cross paths again with Jonathon. I believe he has come under the impression, Elizabeth and I are best friends. While I share a room with her and have no dislike of her at all, we are not especially close. Our shared outing to the billiard room not withstanding, we have socialized very little in our months together.


I suppose it is the frequent rides to and from school we take in company of each other which has led to the false assumption. The coincidence is easily explained as our year of class is identical and our parents enrolled us in nearly an identical curriculum. Undoubtedly, a result of fatherly pride in demonstrating we are intelligent as well as attractive and available. Elizabeth would be even more so if she would use a mirror in the mornings.

I do believe we may have even more in common than the surface reveals. I have little doubt Elizabeth is hiding her thirst for knowledge from her family as I hide my own from everyone. She is brave to openly display her intellectual interest at school. I worry constantly my father will discover I enjoy being at college for more than the opportunity to marry well. I do sense she is hiding something from the rest of us at Primrose as well though.

I saw her open a letter from home on Friday. Her reaction led me to look for the letter later. By her facial expression and the tears welled in her eyes, I was certain she had received most horrible news. When alone in our room I quickly searched for it and came up with only ashes. Whatever, the letter contained is known only to Elizabeth for I am certain what she shared as contents at dinner was as false as my Remington.

But, I was talking about Jonathon and Elizabeth before I segued into Elizabeth and I. Jonathon is one of those proper gentlemen. He feels he must court from a distance and avoid making his feeling to well known. A silly custom if you ask me but he did not. He walked with me for several blocks in Providence yesterday. If there was anything I knew about Elizabeth I failed to tell him it was not for a lack of thoroughness on his part. More likely it was a result of faulty attention on my part. How could he possibly expect me to focus on Elizabeth whilst shopping?

I did at one juncture, comment on his antique ideas of courtship.

“You are aware Elizabeth is reserved are you not?”

“I am.”

“Then surely you are aware your aloofness will be interpreted as disinterest?”

“I have refrained from commenting on your frivolous frolicking, I would appreciate a similar courtesy from you in regards to my courting of your friend.”

I laughed. Jonathon can be so prickly. He frowned.

“Forget I mentioned it.” I said at last and handed him another pair of shoes to hold for me.

Two pairs of shoes and four dresses later Jonathon left me at the steps of Carrington Manor. I feel sorry for him. He is clearly more lost than a puppy in matters of love. If I have the opportunity I must let Elizabeth know just how turned Jonathon’s head is toward her. Perhaps such news will brighten her spirits.

Speaking of spirits, Edith has been acting strange since Good Friday. I have caught her staring at me several time. She seems jittery and nervous. If she were me, I would say she was expecting to be caught for some indiscretion at any moment. Thankfully, she is not me.

Edith is a strange one on a normal day. She socializes with the Carrington’s as though they were family. For as much as I know about her personally they might be. She gives off an air of superiority most days. I find it annoying as I am quite certain her social standing is somewhere around my family maid’s. Most days I ignore her as such.

Her sudden interest in me brings a feeling of dread. I cannot say exactly why but I do not believe her intentions are favorable. I wonder if she has discovered my late night studying or perhaps she has read from my journal? Edith may seem sweet and innocent to most but I see her for the shark she is. Given the opportunity to climb the social ladder, I have no doubt there is little to which she will not resort.

I have noticed her attempts to sequester me alone in the house. Thus far, I have avoided her gracefully. I am quite certain her attempts are a clear sign she wishes to blackmail me in some manner. To openly discuss whatever it is she has learned would clearly negate her advantage. I have decided already that whatever it is she wishes, she will not receive. I would rather face Mrs. Carrington or my father or both than let her win at treachery.

March 26, 1896 - Elizabeth Bassett


Who needs holidays? When I was younger they were often joyful events, filled with treats and special guests. Now they are just as often lonely days filled with unwanted reminders of how cruel fate can be. The letter I received from father on Friday was such a reminder.

Were it not for the envelope it arrived in I would not dignify it with the title of letter. It was a note, merely an afterthought., which it seems is all I have become to my father and family. I do not mind spending the holiday away from home. What I do mind is waiting to be told such a thing on the day I could expect to leave. Surely the decision was reached weeks ago?

At least I did not find myself alone in the Carrington household, Penelope remained as well. Her presence however, was easier explained than my own. Her home is far enough away a trip home and back in a week’s time would be difficult if not impossible. I pretended my father was away on business and as such a journey home would have been fruitless. I am getting too good at lying.

Friday evening was most enjoyable. Jonathon Goulding proved an excellent escort. I would have gladly secreted away with him but he is far too proper for that kind of behavior. I realize I should be as well. There is something about him which I cannot define but it leaves me feeling very safe in his presence. I noticed him gaze at Penelope more than once during the evening and although he denied it, I believe he fancies her rather than me. Such is the story of my romantic life.

I had held some small hope to hear from him again after the party but as yet there has been nothing. As father would undoubtedly say, Jonathon seems another in a long line of bad investments. I saw him in church on Sunday and he did not so much as look my direction. I will save my tears for a more worthy cause.

The fifty cents my father sent is the first allowance I have received in months. I know father would have me ignorant of the family finances but I am no fool. I can and do read the newspaper. I have little difficulty understanding how the trade tariffs and shortage of dollars negatively effects my father’s import business. I wonder how he would react to a n acknowledgement of the situation from me?

Mrs. Carrington was kind enough to allow a small amount of freedom for those of us who have stayed for the week. The respite from daily chores was more than welcome. I have nothing against doing my chores but they do interfere with my ability to do much for improving my finances.

However, with my free time for the week I have begun working in the city. Using the bicycle provided by the Carrington’s, I am making laundry deliveries for a dollar and ten cents per day. By the end of the week I will have earned more than ten times what my father has sent. If I can keep my work a secret from Mrs. Carrington that is.

There were two close calls this very day. The first was in the morning. I had only just started to make deliveries and not a block away from my first destination I nearly was seen by Penelope. She was up to her usual tricks, flirting with two young men at once. I nearly crashed into a young man myself when I saw her. Fortunately I was able to hide unseen in an alleyway while she walked past. As they did pass I noticed one of the young men with her was none other than Jonathon Goulding.

I am not surprised really. It was only a matter of time before he noticed how much more attractive Penelope is. I could be angry with her but I value our friendship more than I fancy a relation with a boy such as Goulding. I did notice a slight swell of anger in myself but I doused it quickly.

Once I was certain they were gone from sight, I continued on with my deliveries. After hiding as long as I did, I had to ride twice as quickly to make up time. Many of the recipients were kindly letting me know my tardiness was a disruption for them. I do not think any will report it to Mr. Caldwell, the owner of the laundry shop.

Shortly after midday came the closer encounter. I was fortunate to have only a single package with me for delivery when I crossed paths with Mr. Carrington and Edith Bowen.

“Lovely afternoon, Miss Bassett.” He greeted me cordially.

“Yes, indeed sir.”

“Miss Bowen and I were just discussing some intriguing possibilities for next term.”

“Very intriguing.” Edith said.

“If you are not in a hurry perhaps you would care to share your opinions with me?”

I looked fleetingly at my remaining delivery. Fortunately it was tied in brown paper and gave no obvious outward sign of the interior contents.

“Were you headed someplace important?” Mr. Carrington queried my slow response.

“No, I was headed to the post to send a package home.” I ventured as a most convincing lie.

“The post is this way.” He pointed in the opposite direction I had been heading. “We will walk with you.”

I sighed quietly and dismounted the bicycle. No doubt I would be late with my delivery. I only prayed I would not find myself trapped into mailing my mother a stranger’s shirts.

“Very good.” I said.

“Miss Bowen and I have been discussing the possibility of some young men attending a few classes at Primrose.”

“What young man would consent to do so?” I asked.

“I am quite certain many of the young men at Brown would have no objection.”

“I was under the impression all of the Primrose classes relevant to the educational pursuits of young men are already present at Brown?”

“Financial considerations have created a situation in which the teaching staff must be reduced. It has been suggested to combine certain core classes, such as Grammar, Composition, and Arithmetic which could be maintained at Primrose with Brown and Primrose students attending the classes.”

“At the same time?” I tried to keep the incredulousness out of my voice.

“Yes, does that disturb you?”

“No, sir. It surprises me that anyone would have though of it.”

“Not just anyone has thought of it. It was a brilliant suggestion.”

For some reason Edith blushed as Mr. Carrington spoke.

“Do you think any of the young women at Primrose would have objection to males attending class with them?”

“No, sir. Quite the contrary.”

“Thank you for your time, Miss Bassett. I am afraid I have a meeting I must attend now. I will see you both at supper.” Mr. Carrington said looking at his watch.

“A pleasure sir. Good afternoon.” I said.

I wondered what excuse I would need to give to Edith. She however was as eager to exit my presence as I was to exit hers. She started down the street following Mr. Carrington and only paused in after thought to say, “Good afternoon, Elizabeth.”

I was two blocks from where I was supposed to be and several minutes late. I might have otherwise been slightly offended at Edith’s off hand dismissal. I re-mounted the bicycle and quickly made my way back in the proper direction for my delivery.

Needless to say, I was quite late for my final delivery. I may well have to explain my tardiness to Mr. Caldwell in the morning. I hope he will not reconsider our arrangement as a result.

March 25, 1896 - Sarah Waters' Diary

I returned to school today at father’s insistence. I am only a few weeks away from attaining my diploma and while it is still unclear if I shall further my education at Primrose College my father is clear in his wishes for me to finish my schooling thus far. I think Mr. Stone was surprised to see me in class again. He did not give pause but the look on his face when I walked through the door was surely one of surprise.


At the end of the school day he asked to have a word with me. I was far from surprised at the request.

“Sarah.” He began once we were alone.

“I am glad to see your parents saw fit to return you to school.”

“My father was quite insistent.”

“I know I may have overstepped my bounds in applying to college for you, and I apologize for my boldness.”

“You should have spoke with me before my parents.”

“I can see that now. Please forgive me. It was only your best interest I was seeking.”

“What is done is done.”

“Thank you. If there is any chance they might let you go…”

“It will not be through your meddling.”

“Very well. Please give my best to your mother and father. I will not delay you further.”

“Good day, Mr. Stone.” I nodded my head and left.

I was perhaps harsher with my teacher than strictly necessary or called for. I had dreaded in some way attending class again after the incident with my parents. His demeanor had been inappropriate and I have yet to forget his condescension toward my parents. For some actions there are no excuses.

Indeed, for my own actions, upon leaving Mr. Stone, I have no excuse. I rode Jasper to school because I was expected at the laundry when I was done. I tied off my culottes outside the school and proceeded to mount Jasper (Success on the fourth attempt!!!). But, instead of riding into town as expected I prodded Jasper to a gallop and headed into nowhere. What was I thinking?

Truthfully, I was thinking quite a lot but not one bit of my thoughts turned toward my responsibilities and where I was supposed to be. Instead I rejoiced in the ride. Father hates it when I run Jasper. There is an indescribable freedom as the wind rushes through my hair and my heart races with Jasper. He loves the run as much as I. I can see it in his eyes and feel it in his stride.

The ride, the freedom of the ride, that is what I needed today. Shame on me for putting my needs ahead of my responsibilities. I cannot help who I am though. The burden of what I want and cannot have is weighing me down. I barely sleep at night. I am unfocussed all the time. All I ever think about is going away to school.

I love my parents. I truly do. I have though, come to feel my place is elsewhere and not here. I feel as though a storm sits on the horizon, just out of sight and sound. The world is changing and somewhere, there is not just a place but a need for me. I have to find that place and yet I think there is no one, except perhaps Sam, who can understand.

As Jasper and I reached the foot hills, I noticed the sun dipping its head in the sky. There was hardly a cloud to be seen. The mountains were snowcapped and even nearby there were pockets of late melting snow. Birds chirped there spring tunes of love all around me. The snap of a nearby twig startled me from my thoughts. Jasper snorted a warning.

Looking toward the sound I saw it. The wolf snarled. Even in its aggressive state it was beautiful. The white and gray hair are a luxury export item from our town. Cruel to hunt an animal purely to skin it and sell its fur but the world can be a cruel place for anyone. The wolf seemed to be gauging whether Jasper and I were a threat or food. I did my best to keep Jasper calm.

Snap.

Another twig to my right and behind me this time. I glanced and saw white and gray. My heart began to pound in my chest. I looked back toward the first wolf just in time to see it mid-air. An instant later I was thrown to the ground as Jasper raised up and kicked the wolf to the ground. The wolf growled. Jasper snorted and moved protectively toward me.

I slowly pushed myself up from the ground. I winced as I stood, my ankle shooting pain. Not quite broken I thought. Assessing the situation, I determined there were only two of them. They were circling us, sizing us up and I was sizing them up. I swallowed my panic and forced my brain to think.

Jasper was eyeing the wolves wearily. Despite his warnings and stance I could feel his fear. The air seemed to pulse in tune with throbbing blood in my ears. The wolves were careful hunters. They knew we were far from easy prey. They were waiting for the right moment to attack again.

I knew mounting Jasper and riding out was not an option. Even if we could out run them, I have never mounted Jasper or any horse on the first try. I silently cursed myself for being so stupid as to ride out alone with not a soul aware of my destination. I kicked dirt toward one of the wolves in my frustration. It only served to make it angrier.

It began to lunge toward me. Jasper tensed and angled himself for a kick. The wolf stopped and snarled frustration. It was then I began to work out a solution for our predicament. There were stones on the ground at my feet. Many of them large enough to hurt if they were thrown. I carefully scouted for a larger one that was still light enough for me to throw. I kept my eyes on the wolves and only used my hands to search.

I picked one after a tense minute of searching. I hefted it in my right hand. The extra weight and moving increased the discomfort coming from my injured ankle. I winced. The wolves seemed to be taunting me. Taking pleasure in their secure knowledge I was hurt. They had time on their side and they danced accordingly. I aimed and threw.

The wolf gracefully jumped to the side and the stone tumbled to the ground with a gently thud. The wolf made a strange throaty noise. I swear it was snickering at me. I knelt again and found a second stone. This one was lighter. With enough speed it would still likely have the desired effect and maybe this time I could throw it fast enough that the wolf wouldn’t be able to avoid it. I hefted it carefully, this time gritting my teeth through the pain in my ankle and refusing to flinch. I threw.

The wolf yelped like a kicked dog. It shook its head and stepped back. There was no laughter this time. The wolf gave an angry howl and I heard a rustling behind me. It was then I realized my mistake. I had forgotten about the second wolf.

I spun around to see it launching itself into the air at me. Jasper moved to intercept it. I did not stop to watch. I grabbed frantically for another stone on the ground. My fingers clawed one up as I spun back toward the first wolf. I felt a fingernail bend and snap as I pulled the stone from the dirt. There was no time to think. The first wolf was in flight and only seconds from crashing into me. I brought the stone up and rather than throwing it I smashed it with all my strength into the wolf’s mouth. At the same time I heard a thud and an ear piercing yelp.

The first wolf hit the ground with blood running from its mouth. It carefully backed away from me. I wanted to look behind me to see how Jasper had managed but I knew I could not take my eyes off the one in front of me or it would attack again. I heard whimpering behind me and Jasper’s snorting.

Jasper turned toward the wolf I was watching retreat. He took a purposeful stride toward it. The wolf turned and ran into the woods. I look behind me and saw we were once again alone. Jasper came to me and nuzzled his head against my cheek. I wrapped my arms around his neck and hugged him for a moment. We were safe.

I decided it was not wise to remain there. I hurt my ankle further as I attempted to mount Jasper again. On my eighth attempt, with tears in my eyes, I finally made it. My left hand was bleeding from my index finger where I had torn the nail off grabbing the rock which had likely saved my life. I carefully wrapped it in the folds of my sleeve, already hearing my mother’s scolding for staining my clothes.

Jasper trotted slower than usual as we left. I think he was still jittery. My ankle throbbed with every step he took. The sun had set and it was too dark for my eyes to see any longer. Jasper guided us toward home. We had to pass the school house again and as we neared it I could see light coming from it. Mr. Stone was undoubtedly still working.

I nudged Jasper toward the school and after a moment’s hesitation he changed directions and we came to a stop in front of the white building. I considered my options and decided a dismount and walking inside was not going to happen.

“Mr. Stone.” I called out.

The door to the school opened and Mr. Stone strolled out with a confused look on his face.

“What are you doing here?”

“I need your help.”

Mr. Stone lifted his lantern higher and gave me a closer look.

“My God Sarah, what happened to you?”

“If you could help me inside, I’ll tell you.”

I could see the concern on his face even in the shadows of the night.

His strong arms guided me carefully off of Jasper and down to the ground. I nearly fell all the way to it when he let go of me for an instant. Whether her realized my injury or was merely reacting to my unsteadiness I am unsure, but he lifted me wholly in his arms then and carried me inside. He carefully placed me down on his desk before returning outside to tie off Jasper.
When he returned he began looking me over more thoroughly. His gaze and hands quickly found my injured ankle. It had swollen to twice its normal size.

“You may start explaining yourself anytime, Sarah.”

“Yes, sir.”

“When I left here, I went riding into the foothills. Jasper and I ran into a pair of timber wolves.”

“What were you thinking to head into the foothills alone?” Mr. Stone interrupted me.

“I needed time to think.”

“Fanciful excuse, Sarah. It sounds to me as though thinking was exactly what you were not doing.”

“Be that as it may, I was lost in thought and paid no mind to where I was going until I was already there.”

“Jasper threw you and fought off a couple of wolves to protect you?”

I nodded my head confirming his questioning statement.

“God must be looking out for you. I have seen elk taken down by timber wolves in less than a minute.”

“Not God, Jasper.”

“You should not say things like that.”

“You are hardly any more religious than I.”

He smiled.

“You speak the truth but I am wizened enough to know better than to speak it openly.”

“I would not have said it to anyone else.

“What help is it I can give you ? I think you need a doctor more than a school teacher.”

“I made a mistake.”

“Clearly.”

“My mother was expecting me at the laundry this afternoon. I was supposed to be working with her there.”

“Go on.”

“If I tell my parents what I did today and why I was not there…” My voice trailed off.

“I see.”

“If you could give me an excuse, one that would explain my state and my tardiness…” I waited again hoping he would fill in the blanks.

“I am not in the business of lying to parents.” Mr. Stone declared.

“Please. If I tell them the truth they will never let me go to Primrose.” I played on his sympathies and hoped he did not realize I was exaggerating the truth.

Mr. Stone sighed. He looked at me for a moment and then closed his eyes. The silence between us felt heavy, weighted down with the untold lies I bargained for. I was about to rescind my request and ask he take me home.

“All right. I will help you, but you are not getting off without punishment.” He looked unflinchingly into my eyes.

I looked down on myself. I had expected as much but allowed myself to fleetingly hope for better.

“We will tell your parents I kept you after school to complete lessons you missed while out. You hurt yourself while attempting to mount Jasper in your hurry to get home.” He continued.

“I will take you home tonight and tell this to your father. Are we clear?”

“Yes, sir.”

“In a week’s time you will spend a day after school with me and I will paddle you as appropriate for your reckless behavior today. Is that also clear and agreed to?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good. Let’s get you home.”

March 24, 1896 - Edith Bowen's Diary

I must be possessed! I can find no other explanation for my actions.

It began on Friday. I was walking home with the Carrington’s nine year old son, Andrew. We were almost home and he suddenly stopped and began to whisper to me.


“Edith.” He said in a serious tone I am not accustomed to hearing from him.


“What is it?” I asked. Was I concerned already? I do not recall.
“I saw something on Wednesday night.”

I was tempted to say I had seen a few things on Wednesday night as well as every other night of my life. Something stopped me and made me pay closer attention.

“Go on.” I prompted the nervous boy.

“You have to promise first.”

“Promise what?”

“Promise you will not tell my mother or father.” His eyes were more pleading than his tone.

I paused for a moment considering what reasons he might have for secrecy. No doubt he would find trouble for what he was about to tell me. This simple fact titillated my imagination. Fortunately, I was not yet fully possessed and retained a small amount of forethought.

“I will. But, you must first promise me that no one will be unduly harmed for my silence.” I worded my response carefully so as to give me a way out should I find I must inform Mrs. Carrington. It is strange that I thought to do so considering a nine year old boy would scarcely understand the complexity of my reasoning any better for the effort.

Andy bit his upper lip, in a nervous habit he shares with his father. On the one occasion I mentioned it to the youngster he beamed with pride for near on a week. Mr. Carrington was slightly less intoxicated at the discovery and denies ever having done such a thing. Only Andy was brave enough to argue the fact.

“I promise.” He said, finally releasing his lip.

“Very good. I promise not tell them, then.”

“I was in the hallway outside the girls’ rooms.” He began.

“What were you doing there?” I asked.

“Umm.” He blushed scarlet.

“Never mind.” I said hoping to spare us both. “Go on.”

He cleared his throat and waited a moment until his face had mostly returned to its normal coloring.

“Two of the girls came out into the hall. It was already past bedtime.”

“Yes.” I said in a way I hoped let him know I was aware if it was past bedtime for the girls it was certainly past bedtime for him.
He cleared his throat again.

“Andy, two girls slipping into the hall after bedtime is hardly cause for tattling.”

“No, I know. There is more.” He said quickly.

“Then get on with it. Your mother will worry if we do not arrive soon.”

“They climbed out the side window.” He blurted out.

My eyes widened.

“I see.”

Andy nodded his head up and down vigorously.

“Do you know which girls?”

“Yes.”

“Are you going to tell me?”

“You won’t tell mother will you?”

“No, I promised.”

“Elizabeth and Penelope.”

He was biting his upper lip again, watching me. I realized then he expected I would do something. I understood all too well why he was reluctant to go to his mother with his secret. My thoughts dwelled on the unfairness of them getting away with such a blatant disregard for the house rules. Andy clearly expected I do something, but initially all I could think of was telling Mrs. Carrington and that would result in breaking my promise to Andy or forcing me to lie to Mrs. Carrington. Neither prospect appealed to me.

“What will you do?” He asked when the silence had gone too long.

“I need to consider it carefully.” I replied.

“You cannot let them get away with it.” He stated.

“There may not be a choice without telling your mother.”

“You can’t!” He was shaking. Was it fear or anger? I am not sure I wish to know.

“I will not.” I gave him a small smile. “I promise, I will find another way.”

Andy smiled brightly.

“I knew I could trust you Edith.” He threw his arms around me in a hug.

Come supper on Friday evening, most of the girls were train bound for their homes. Only a few of us remained. Those with no place to or too far to travel for the Easter holiday would normally remain at the Carrington’s where the holiday was always celebrated with a warm inclusion for all. The first year I attended Primrose I had been the only girl to stay. Now there were a dozen. Two of whom surprised me, Elizabeth and Penelope.

I thought to have a word with them after supper. My intention was to probe delicately and see if they had noticed young Andy during there escapade. Unfortunately just as I was about to ask for a moment of their time, the bell rang. Mrs. Carrington had approved the girls to attend a party with two of the young men from Brown. I pretended I cared not but I retired in jealousy to my room.

It was there in solitude the idea came to me. Was it a result of jealous anger? I think not. Slowly, my solution for dealing with the girls began to unfold. I would prey upon their own desires to avoid Mrs. Carrington knowing of their late night outings.

While I lay on my bunk, I considered what they might have been doing. Had they gone to meet the same young men they were now out with tonight? No, that would be foolhardy and while Penelope maybe a fool, Elizabeth is far from one. For Elizabeth to have snuck out, the cause must have had significance or importance.

After lengthy consideration, I determined Penelope must have been the instigator. Perhaps she was beginning to corrupt Elizabeth? Finally, a thought which made sense. Elizabeth is a scholar of the best kind. She craves to learn and I respect her immensely for it. Were it not for her family background, she would be as teased as I.
However, Penelope is far from the studious kind. She has always been obvious about her true purpose at Primrose. I find it particularly distasteful the way she flaunts and flirts with the young men. Her results in classes are better than most, I shudder to think what she would be capable of if only she applied herself. Her priorities are not set accordingly though. Clearly, she is beginning to corrupt the proper priorities of Elizabeth.

Having concluded the escapade was entirely of Penelope’s planning and influence I decided it would be best to carry out my plan on Penelope alone. I can use her friendship with Elizabeth as additional persuasion to avoid the matter being brought to Mrs. Carrington.

My decision made, I slept soundly that night. Ironic, the planning would leave me sleeping peacefully but the implementation leaves me restless and burdened with guilt. Ever more ironic, I have taken on the role of correcting another’s sins and yet keep my own hidden and uncorrected.


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March 21, 1896 Andrew Carrington Journal



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It rained last night. I stayed up with my little sister, Abigail. The thunder scares her still. I think that is normal. She is only four. She can be a pain, but I like her well enough. Mother says that is good ‘cause we are keeping her. I wonder if that means we could get rid of Joshua? He is six and he is always nosing through my things. Abigail respects me.

I like the mornings after it rains. The sky is so blue and clear and the air has a fresh smell of pine. Oh, and the puddles are great also. I knew it was going to be a good day from right at breakfast. Mother said it was good Friday. I asked how she knew and all the big girls giggled. But not Edith, she is not like the other girls. Edith is nice.

After breakfast, Edith walked me to school. She does that sometimes. I think she likes me. When I jump in the puddles and make a splash, she laughs and smiles. Other girls scream and run away when I do that. I like to walk with her. We was both wet when we got to school. Mrs. Berry was going to yell but Edith made her not.

We went on a field trip. Edith came with us. I walked close to her with my friends. She likes my friends too. We walked all the way to the train station. There was a large crowd. Mrs. Berry said we was going to see a politician speak. He was supposed to be a famous man, but I had never seen him before.

I got bored while he was talking. It was hard to see cause they was so many people. I wanted to play with my friends but Edith would not let us. She was cross with us and said we was being rude. I think she really liked the man on the stage. I made my friends behave.
When the man was finished speaking we walked back to school and then got to go home early. Mrs. Berry said that was on account of it being a good Friday. I wonder why every Friday is not a good Friday?
On the way home, Edith skipped. I ran and jumped in the puddles. When we was getting close to home I remembered I had something to tell Edith. The other night I had seen two of the college girls sneaking out a window. I did not tell mother cause she would want to know what I was doing there. I knew Edith would know what to do.


March 20, 1896 - Edith Bowen's Diary


I have yet to master the art of conversation. Three years at Primrose and still I am tongue tied to speak with the young men from Brown. My behavior this very afternoon exemplifies my point.

I was looking at the bulletin board outside the front gate of campus. A recent addition in color had captured my attention. The paper was advertising an appearance and oration scheduled for tomorrow at Union Station. William J Bryan, a lawyer and famed orator, was running for the Democratic nomination for President. He is quite young, only 36, to be running for the high office and many of the papers have been making a spectacle of the matter. I must say my curiosity was piqued and seeing that I was free on Friday, I was mulling over attending.

It was while I was staring at it blankly, undoubtedly smiling too much, that a young man started talking to me from behind.

“Are you going” He asked.

“Umm…” I stuttered looking for my voice. By the direction of my gaze it must have been hiding near the young man’s feet.

“Pardon me?” He queried.

I managed to look up at his face. His eyes were piercing and I found myself nervously looking anywhere but in his eyes.

“Yes, I think I am going.” I finally managed to blurt out at twice my normal volume. My hand covered my mouth almost instantly. I could not bare to look at the young man.

“Oh well um. Good afternoon, miss.” His footsteps retreated quickly.
A few other students had paused to stare at my obscenely loud declaration of uncertainty. I blushed and began to walk back toward Carrington Manor.

Despite my years at Primrose College I have never really been comfortable with the other girls. I have always stood out from them. Being an orphan, I never expected the opportunity to attend a college and in not for the Women’s Suffrage Scholarship I would not have been able. The other girls usually keep their distance but my difficulty with the young men has been a source of ridicule. They often tease and laugh at my expense when such embarrassing moments occur. Today was no different.

Mrs. Carrington’s warm smile is all that kept me from tears. She has become a surrogate mother for me. Never before in my life has anyone care as much or as deeply about my well-being. I was undisciplined and rude when I first arrived here, but she took the time to correct my faults and show me a better side of myself.

We drank tea in her drawing room. I still cannot enter the room without memories of my early days rushing to the surface and bring blush to my face. In those times I would have been resting over Mrs. Carrington’s lap or stretched over her desk rather than comfortably seated in the chair as I was today.

We talked lengthily about William J Bryan’s forthcoming visit and speech to Providence. We both were familiar with the substance of his campaign. The shortage of currency and the now long running depression are familiar topics for us. At times within the college gates our community seems shielded from the outside world. Still there are effects from the depression to be seen all around. The shortage of food on the dinner table is the one the girls notice most. Unlike myself, the majority of girls at Primrose come from well off families where wealth has shielded them from the pain of poverty felt by so many others.

Our conversation was joined by Mr. Carrington who had only just returned from a meeting of the school board. It seemed the topic of the day had been finances. He was obviously tense from the verbal bickering that must have occurred.

“Times are bad indeed. The board is entertaining the closure of Primrose College once again.” He said, sipping carefully from his steaming cup.

“They can’t be serious.” Mrs. Carrington replied.

“Indeed they are and please, will you speak properly.”

“Yes, of course. Forgive me.”

“Will they help the current students transfer elsewhere to complete their studies?” I asked struggling not to bite at my lower lip.
“I suspect no consideration has been given as to the future of any existing students. The matter at hand is the cost of teaching the students.”

“They could remove certain classes and consolidate the teaching staff.” I said thoughtfully.

“Yes, but what classes? Who would decide which teachers must go and which must stay?”

“I have mentioned before, there is duplication…” I began and was interrupted by Mrs. Carrington.

“That is not a subject to be reopened, Edith.”

“What is this subject?”

I looked into my tea cup and sat silently.

“Speak up one of you.” Mr. Carrington demanded.

I cleared my throat and looked at Mrs. Carrington. She appeared less than happy but nodded at me to continue.

“I believe it would be possible to consolidate classes.” I began again feeling nervous.

“How?”

“There are several classes which are taught at both Brown and Primrose. I see no reason why those specific classes could not be taught in both schools by the same teacher.” I held my breath waiting for disaster.

It never came.

“Intriguing.” Mr. Carrington said after a long pause.

“Edith would you excuse us? I need to speak with my wife about interruptions while others are speaking.”

“Yes, sir. Good afternoon.” I replied and placed my cup back down on the serving tray.

I made my way to the door.

“Edith?” Mrs. Carrington said.

“Yes?”

“Mrs. Berry intends to take Andrew’s class to Mr. Bryan’s speech tomorrow. I am certain she would appreciate your assistance supervising the children if you can attend with them.”

“Yes, ma’am. I will make the arrangements.” I said and left the room, carefully closing the door behind me.

Written by Ashley J and Melanie

March 19, 1896 - Penelope Sumter


Another Troubleday gone. Thankfully, this week it failed to live up to the name in quite the same way as last week. I was the proper student in school, the diligent young lady at the dormitory and the irresistible debutante with Elizabeth. It was a fabulous day.


After classes I was riding back to Carrington Manor with Elizabeth as usual, when we crossed paths with Jonathon Goulding. Elizabeth began blushing as soon as he was recognizable. I have only met the young man once or twice but I was very much aware Elizabeth had a crush on him.


“Hi, Jonathon.” She tweeted.


“Good afternoon, ladies.” He replied cordially.


“Pleasant afternoon.” I said.


“What are you doing out this way?” Elizabeth asked in an unusual bold moment for her.


“If I may be so bold, I was looking for you.” He said with a smile and then as he glanced at me he continued, “Both of you.”


I smiled at his nervousness.


“Whatever for?” Elizabeth pressed on all the while trying to hide her glowing cheeks.


“A few friends are gathering on Friday night for billiards in celebration of finishing midterms. Would you ladies honor us with your presence?”


“We would love to. When will you be by for us?”


“Is eight acceptable?”


“We shall be waiting.” Elizabeth said fluttering her eyelashes.


Jonathon continued on his way smiling brightly like the infamous Cheshire cat, canary feather hanging indiscriminately from his lips. I am quite certain Elizabeth is the unsuspecting canary. She tries hard to appear devoted to her studies and education, but I have noticed her fleeting and long glances at the other girls whilst they socialize with the young men. Jonathon more than most has caught her eye. She is timid and shy though and for reasons I can only guess. Her family background is as impeccable or more so than most of the Primrose girls.


Elizabeth was positively bouncing when we arrived in our room. She bubbled over herself telling anyone who would listen about her brief encounter with Mr. Goulding. Were I not present at the event I might have thought the young man had proposed marriage. I let her have her moment and added reinforcement whenever a girl showed signs of disbelief.


I hope Jonathon is expecting half of the Primrose girls at billiards. They are all certainly prepared to go and Friday is only two evenings hence. Once the girls had all settled down and we were once again left in peace with only ourselves for company, Elizabeth mentioned she had never before indulged in a game of billiards.


We exited through the window at the north end of the hall when we left. It was past ten and definitely past time for us to be in bed. The hardest part was getting through the college gates. Guards were posted to protect the school they say, but I am quite certain their purpose lies more in the realm of ensuring students stay in rather than keeping anyone out.


I did my best to fake familiarity while I planned our escape spur of the moment. I had almost forgotten that Elizabeth thought I did this sort of thing regularly. Fortunately, my mind was working as fast as our feet were walking.


Instead of exiting the normal way I led us through the field down toward the river. Once there we followed the river until we crossed under the bridge. We then climbed up to the main road and more shocking to me than Elizabeth we were within sight of the tavern. I breathed a sigh of relief and got a strange look from Elizabeth.


“I am always stressed until I make it this far.” I said hoping she would believe the lie.


Inside the tavern we did our best to remain inconspicuous. We did a shameful job of it. Less than five minutes after our entrance, we were accosted by two handsome young men.


“Look what we have here.” The tall one said.


“A couple of strays from the girl’s school unless I am mistaken.” The scraggily haired one said.


Elizabeth and I blanched.


The young men laughed.


We spent the rest of the evening learning to play billiards until the tavern owner kicked us out with threats to report us to the college. Perhaps the city was rubbing off on us because as providence would have it, we never exchanged our names and are therefore safe from ever being found out.


We came back the same way we left. Climbing up to the second story hall window was more difficult than I had imagined. I am quite certain Elizabeth is now certain my rendezvous’ with Remington are not exactly as I have told them to be. I will worry about that another time. It is only two hours until morning bell rings and tomorrow is looking like Hurtsday again. Only this time it will hurt because I am dead tired.

March 18, 1896 - Sarah Waters Letter

( Click letter to view larger image)

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March 17, 1896 - Elizabeth Bassett

St. Patrick's Day

I have never much understood the tradition of celebrating an Irish holiday in America. This is not a complaint, merely an idle observation. I am prone to idle observations and have long had the good sense to keep them mostly to myself. For example, I have become quite convinced that men understand economics even less than women. This is of course why they will never discuss it or politics with us. The calamity which would certainly ensue after I voiced such a provocative (and correct) opinion would best be avoided (for my safety and comfort).

I wore mint green today, the fashionable color of St. Patrick’s day. Oddly enough the customary Irish color of the day was blue until circa 1750 AD. The green associated with the holiday now most likely came from a propensity for Irish nationalists to wear a clover on their lapel as a representation of their nationalism, something they expressed expeditiously on the 17th day of March each year. The “wearing o’ the green” the Irish would call it and undoubtedly an Englishman (perhaps color blind or did he truly believe the people were unaware their clothing was blue? Must research this!) must have taken the phrase literally. I think anyone who has met an Englishman would agree this is a more than plausible explanation.

I was tempted to wear blue today instead of the green, but unfortunately I think I might well be the only person in Primrose College (if not Brown University and all of Rhode Island) who is aware of the color change. Let me not forget to also mention the high likelihood of severe bruising from being repeatedly pinched by the childish tradition. Furthermore, my incorrect (by common opinion) color choice would have greatly upset Mr. Green, the only member of the staff who is Irish by ancestry. Undoubtedly, he would argue his namesake for the prominence of green (the Irish are well known for their exaggerative tales, a.k.a. blarney) in Irish history. Mr. Green’s temper (or rather his inability to control said temper) is well known amongst the ladies of Primrose College.

Mr. Green, sadly (or not), is leaving Primrose College at the end of term. Penelope, my roommate, has suggested we plan a going away party for him. Strangely (or not), she has scheduled the event the day after his departure.

In his honor, Brown University and Primrose College are actively recognizing St. Patrick’s Day for the first time. I was fortunate enough to be chosen to participate in the celebration by marching in the school band. I am quite certain my father would not have approved of my baton twirling through the streets of Providence. I however, quite enjoyed the spectacle.

I surmise the celebration and parade were done in a last minute effort to appease Mr. Green (rumors say he has been lobbying for such an event for a decade) and entice him to stay on staff. His temper not withstanding, he is an excellent professor of the musical arts. Prior to coming under his tutelage I had always considered myself musically inept. If I were to continue under his instruction for three more years I feel I might have been able to perform in public without causing the involuntary wincing for which I have become accustomed. I shall pray (for the sake of my future audiences) a suitable and experienced replacement be found.

March 14, 1896 - Sarah Waters' Diary

The men worked through the night. It was grim work and you could see it in their faces and in the slump of their shoulders. The more hours that passed the less likely it was that any of the twelve men would survive. I had napped for an hour but despite exhaustion my mind refused my body any more than that. Awake and helpless I sat around the fire with the other women. We took turns delivering water to the working men. There was an unusual silence in the air.

I had gathered most of the pertinent facts from bits of hushed conversations I eavesdropped on while walking around the camp. Mr. Clark had been correct in his facts. Twelve men were trapped and half of them were from my father’s crew. Among them was his best friend, a man I had come to call Uncle Mike despite there being no actual relation between us. Mike Williams had known my father since they were both boys. They had married within months of each other and moved to the Colorado territory together.

When I first saw my father last night I was overwhelmed with relief. I was so grateful to God for sparing my father I forgot the pain of others for a short time. When I look upon the wives of the twelve trapped men I feel horribly guilty. I see the tears on their cheeks and even now I am thankful I am not one of them. I am wretched.

The sun rose at its normal time. I was inexplicably surprised by it. The darkness of night seemed more appropriate to the occasion. With Mrs. Rainer and mother, I began preparing breakfast at my slop-house. I was not feeling hungry but I also had not been moving rock by hand for twenty hours. The work was welcome in that it helped give my hands and feet purpose. If only my mind could have been occupied as well.

Just as we were about ready to begin serving up watered down, greasy eggs and hot rolls, the call came. The air instantly changed from depression to one of cautious hope, excitement and barely restrained fear.

“We’re through!” A man’s voice had boomed from the opening of the mine.

Everyone gathered. Men and women alike entered the circle to learn the details of the news and what was next. My father had taken charge even though his boss and the mine owner were present. My father seemed oblivious to their presence and they seemed content to stand in the shadows. I had the presence of mind to wonder why and the good sense to keep quiet about it.


“We have a hole into the shaft.” My father began.

“It’s not large and it’s not secure. We are going to have to move fast before the rock shifts again. I won’t risk anyone I don’t have to so I’m going in alone. We don’t see anyone nearby but it’s likely they would have pulled back for safety. Jack and Larry will try to get some braces in place after I go in, to give me more time to search. I’ll keep a safety line tied to my belt and if the rock starts to shift, Bill will give me two sharp tugs and I’ll double time it back. There ain’t no more time to talk about it so somebody get the doc standing by and let’s go get our boys.”

There were nods of agreement all around. I wanted to protest. I wanted to tell my father to let somebody else do it, but that was selfish. He would not have listened anyway and would have been ashamed of me for speaking contrary to him and out of turn. I bit my lip, held back tears, and silently prayed as my father grabbed a rope and turned back to the mine entrance.

It was near on an hour before my father carried the first man from the shaft. There were cheers as he was carried out on a stretcher. You could hear him coughing and seem his arms move to shield his eyes from the sunlight. Never before had something so natural seemed so important.


Dr. Billings had a few of the men set up a tent. Inside he examined the rescued man. It was in reality not so long a time but it seemed it before the doctor emerged and pronounced his injuries as minor. Our breakfast was tossed to the side and we used the pots to heat water for bathing those whom we hoped would be rescued.

It was only minutes after the doctors examination was complete that the next man was carried out. The process began again. And again there were cheers all around. The mood had become jubilant. Faith had been restored. I could feel the relief I had felt yester evening was now pulsing through us all. My shame subsided and I smiled without guilt or fear. Everything was going to be alright.

The sun was directly overhead as the eleventh man was finally carried out. He was moaning on the stretcher and he wasn’t moving much at all. Dr. Billings soon announced this one had a broken rib. He would recover but he needed rest. Food and water would not hurt him either. I warmed some of the discarded breakfast for him. His wife took it from me when it was hot and a cup of water. She had tears in her eyes and I have no doubt she was eager to return to her husband’s side, but she paused with me for a moment.

“God bless you, Sarah. God bless you and your father.” She said, emotion cracking her voice.

“Thank you.” I said quietly.

Her words embarrassed me. I felt unworthy of the sentiment. My father deserved it and so I did my best to be gracious. I made a silent promise to myself to someday be worthy of the words and to let my father know just how proud of him I am. It is the moments like these when we realize just how precarious life is and that tomorrow is not always on the horizon to say the words we should have said today.

I was beginning to notice that too much time had passed since the last man had come out. There was a strange silence falling around the camp and I began to feel fear creeping back. I walked aimlessly for something to do. I found myself standing only a few feet from the entrance to the mine as my father walked out into the sun.

In his arms lay a man in filthy overalls with black mud covering his skin. He was limp. My gaze turned to my father’s face and I wish I had never seen. His muscles were taut and twitching. His skin was covered in dark filth, but it was his eyes that I will never forget. I have never seen my father cry before but there was no mistaking the tears spilling out nor the redness in his eyes. The usual spark of strength and determination was missing and replaced by hollowness and pain.

The limp man’s head rolled toward me. Maybe it was the angle of his head or maybe it was the way the eyes stared unblinkingly at nothing, but I knew instantly, Uncle Mike was dead.

The rest of the afternoon was a numb blur. My guilt and shame returned ten fold. If I could have ran away from myself I would have. There was no place to hide except in the numbness of sorrow. Mrs. Williams cries echoed in my ears even in that. My father’s tortured eyes, burned into my memory, now haunted my thoughts. They knew my shame and they were unrelenting in an all encompassing disappointment that threatened to swallow me body and soul.

Supper time at home was quiet. We had nothing left but bread from my raid the previous evening. Mother nibbled hers in uncertainty. Father dipped his in beer and drank it down in gulps. I was not hungry. I excused myself to my room and pretended to sleep.

When later I heard them talking I strained to listen. I craved some words of comfort and somehow thought I might hear them uttered from my mother to my father.

“It was not your fault, Daniel.” My mother said.

“I know.”

“Then mourn him, but do not carry this burden.”

“I know what I must do, Clem. We have to strike. It is the only way.”

“If you say so.”

“I do.”

There was a silence then. I can imagine a look passing between them. One that only long married couples with such a deep understanding can share.

“I am going to see Sarah’s school teacher tomorrow.” My father’s voice suddenly returned.

“Whatever for?”

“She deserves a better life than this. I have to get her out of here before she ends up married to a man like me.”

“She could do worse than to marry a man like that.”

“In this town she couldn’t do better. At that college he spoke of, well maybe she can make a good life for herself.”

“Daniel, think about this, please. You are talking about sending our only daughter away. She will have no one to care for her out there. She would be alone. Does she deserve that?”

“Clem…”

“She is my daughter too. I do not want her hurt any more than you and I want a good life for her as well, but I want her in my life. You cannot send her away like this just because you are scared.”

The next sound echoed in the house and I had felt my father’s palm enough times to know he must have slapped her hard.

“You do not ever take that tone with me. Do you understand me?” He said harshly.

“Slapping me does not change the facts of the matter.”

“Obviously we need to have a different discussion. One about respect.”

“Daniel!”

There was only silence for a moment and then I heard the unmistakable sound of my father’s belt on flesh. Mother remained quiet through it all but she must have strained to do so. I thought the belting would never end, but finally silence returned.

“We will discuss Sarah in the morning and your tone had better be much improved.” My father said to my mother.

The house became quiet after that and I soon found myself dreaming. Not of trapped men and crying wives but of classrooms filled with books.

March 13, 1896 - Sarah Waters' Diary

Mother and I started working for Mr. Faulkner again today. It has been almost six months since we last labored in his laundry house. I do not mind the work, it is not demanding of the mind only the body. My hands will be dry and raw from the soap and cold water in only a few days.

Still such work can be rewarding. I spend much of the time thinking about anything but what I am doing. Today my mind kept daydreaming about attending Primrose College. As much as I wish to forget about it as a silly dream I find I cannot let it go. Were I led by my heart instead of my head I would already be train bound for Rhode Island.

Such were my thoughts late morning while I was scrubbing shirts. Mrs. Rainer came through the open doorway and were it not for the barely suppressed sniffles I would have paid little mind to her. She was obviously upset. She stopped only a few steps inside the laundry and began looking around almost frantically. I was about to stop what I was doing and go to her when I noticed her gaze lock upon my mother.

She moved with purpose toward her and leaned down to whisper in mother’s ear. Mother’s face went white and I had a sinking feeling the pit of my stomach that something had gone horribly, disastrously wrong. Our eyes locked across the room. I started to drop the shirt in my hand and move toward her but she shook her head no. It took all my self discipline to stand my ground and continue washing shirts as mother and Mrs. Rainer left together.

It was not until hours later that I learned what was whispered. I left the laundry at six. I was tired. My hands were cold and sore from scrubbing. My legs and feet were almost too weary to carry me the quarter mile to home. I had almost forgotten about Mrs. Rainer and mother and it was only mother’s absence on my journey home that brought it back to the forefront of my thoughts. I could not imagine what it was that would have Mrs. Rainer so upset and would frighten my mother so.

I was within sight of home when Mr. Clark, our neighbor called out to me.

“Sarah! What news do you have?” He called from the short distance between us.

“Good evening, sir.” I replied courteously.

He walked toward me and I changed my direction so to meet him halfway. The look on his face was an odd mixture of sympathy and concern, the reason for which eluded me.

“Did your father make it out?” He asked softly when we were face to face.

“Make it out? I don’t understand. Make it out of where?”

“My God dear. Has no one told you? There was a collapse at the mine this morning.”

I stared blankly at him. The whisper in mother’s ear now rang like thunder in mine.

The world began to spin. My head felt it would soon explode. The noise of the world became a distant echo. Far away I heard my name being called. My breath caught in my throat and just when I thought my heart should explode, tears burst from my eyes and I fell to the ground.

Mr. Clark must have carried me inside. I cannot recall it but when I next was lucid, he was there sitting next to me, a cup of water in his steady hand. He offered it to me without a word, only the same sympathetic smile from before. I tried to sit up and the room turned.

“Not so fast, young lady. You took quite a spill there.” His voice calmed me some and his gentle hand on my arm steadied me and the room.

I took the cup from his hand and drank deeply. The water cleared my head. The initial shock faded away. I started to process the information and realize there were questions to be asked.

“You said there was a collapse at the mine?” I asked carefully.

“Yes.”

“How much do you know?”

“Not a lot. The entry to one of the older shafts collapsed around ten this morning. Scuttle is there were twelve men trapped. Jesse Adams, Cliff Owens and Mike Williams are the only names I have heard for certain. It is the shaft your father was working and all of those men are on his crew.”

“I need to go.” I said with conviction.

I could see Mr. Clark was far from agreeing with me but as he looked me in the eye he must have realized arguing was senseless. Instead he took a different approach.

“What will you do?” He asked.

“Whatever I can.” I whispered. A moment later I knew what I had to do. “I will make a meal for the miners. They will not be going home but they still will need breaks and a meal will help keep their strength up.”

Mr. Clark looked surprised but he nodded in agreement.

“I am at your service. If you need anything you must only ask.”


“Thank you. I would be most appreciative if you would take me to the mine when I am ready?”

“Consider it done. I will have the wagon and horses ready within the hour.” He smiled as he stood up.

I made my way carefully to the kitchen, still feeling a little woozy. I grabbed the large cast iron pot we normally use for heating bath water and placed it over the wood fire. I filled it three quarters full of water and then I raided the cupboard for vegetables. It was not much, four carrots, two potatoes, and an onion. I would have loved to have added some meat or something of more sustenance but this would have to do.

It was nearly an hour later and almost eight in the evening when Mr. Clark helped me place the pot in his wagon and we set off for the mine. I was doing my best to remain calm and oddly my mind wandered to an old story Mr. Stone had once told me when I was small. It was about an old man who traveled from town to town delivering good will in hard times. It came in the shape of a meal he called stone soup.
My pot was not carrying the old man’s magic stone but I had to believe it would still bring good will.

When we arrived, Mr. Clark and I turned his wagon into a make-shift slop house. The tired miners soon made their way to us and a few of the wives settled in to help serve up my watery soup. Someone turned up with some bread and began rationing it out with each bowl as well. Not much was said, a few words or gratitude from the hungry and tired but no one was talking about the reason we were there.

My thoughts lingered strongly on my father. I desperately wanted to ask about him. I knew it was selfish and immature but I could not shake the thoughts from my head. Was he trapped inside or was he working frantically to free his friends? Where was my mother? Was it a bad sign that she was not nearby? I stared blankly at the men passing through the line as I ladled their soup. The mood seemed darker than the night sky and hope was a flickering candlelight starved for air.

And then I saw him.

He was covered in black from head to boots. His faced was streaked clean in spots where sweat had ran from his forehead. As he came closer I could see his eyes were tired and his shoulders were slumped, but there was something in his stance, the way he moved, that revealed the steely determination I have long admired in my father.

There was something about my father in that moment which will stay forever in my memory. It was like I was really seeing him for the first time in my life. He was not just my father, nor just a man. He was a leader, a tired hero whose resolve would never be known by more than a few but the world is a better place because of him just the same.

He walked toward me. I think he might have been confused to see me, but he said nothing. I handed him his bowl. He looked me in the eye for just a moment and in his eyes I could feel his strength. It passed from him to me and with it came determination anew to do what I could to matter.

That was nearly three hours ago. I will rest soon for a few hours. The day's events have worn me down as they have us all. The men are working in shifts through the night to clear the blocked passage in the mine. They will not stop until they succeed. I know this without any doubt because I know my father will not let it be any other way.