March 12, 1896 - Penelope Sumter's Diary

I am thinking of renaming the days of the week. Monday should clearly be Moanday, Tuesday is Newsday, Wednesday is clearly Troubleday, Thursday is Hurtsday, Friday is Free-me-day, Saturday is Choresday and Sunday is Churchday. Today is Troubleday and believe me when I say it earned the name. More on that later as I should really start from the beginning.

I slept through the morning bell and was sharply awoken by Lizzie rolling me out of bed onto the floor. Perhaps this is what is meant by ‘waking on the wrong side of the bed’? By the time I was presentable, breakfast was already being cleared away. Mrs. Carrington had no pity or sympathy. Her hairbrush went to work making certain my mood had little cause to change. Especially after my bicycle ride to class.

I will never understand why when a person is already late their elders choose to make them more late. Of course they never claim it their purpose, but what other reason is there for taking time out for a lengthy session over their knee? Could not they wait for a less inconvenient time? I suppose I am asking too much.

I was late for my first class. Mr. Bard ignored my untimely arrival and continued his lecture on the myths of the ancient Greeks. Most of it centered around his conceptions of how the one true Christian God struck down the mighty Greeks for their blasphemous beliefs in false Gods. In my individual studies I have developed a more full pictured view of the Greek society and its downfall seems more a result of their lofty goals of expansionism rather than their religious beliefs.

When he came to the part about how their Gods led to them a corrupt government structure doomed to failure, I had the misfortune of giggling. Only last night I had read an intriguing chapter about how the American government was modeled in large part on that of the Romans and Greeks of ancient times. Not for the first time, I wondered how Mr. Bard was allowed to teach a subject when he steadfastly refuses to accept the conventional wisdom and views of scholars more knowledgeable than he.

“Do you have something amusing to share with the rest of us Miss Sumter?” Mr. Bard asked.

“No, sir.” I responded sitting up straighter in my seat and trying not to wince as I did.

“Perhaps you can contain your girlish giggles until after my class then?”

“Yes, sir. I am sorry, sir.”

“Thank you. Now young ladies, as I was saying…” Mr. Bard returned to his grossly skewed view of ancient Greek civilization without a further glance toward me.

Lizzie had turned in her seat to look at me. She had a strange look on her face as though she had guessed the reason for my disruption. Of all the girls in the class I was certain she would know the same facts I did on the subject. I mouthed “Remington” to her and her features relaxed back into a friendly smile.

Remington is my imaginary suitor. I have convinced my roommates he is real by sending myself letters and gifts when appropriate. I sneak out several nights a week to see him or so they believe. In reality I use the time to study uninterrupted and unburden by the prejudices of my peers. We Primrose Girls, have in most cases only been sent to school here by our families in the hopes we will ensnare a suitable fiancé from the nearby respected college for aristocratic young men. I have nothing against this fine tradition and would be most content to enter into a beneficial engagement, but I have a shameful hunger for knowledge as well. It would be most inconvenient to become engaged too soon.

Lizzie is the only one I fear might suspect anything unusual with regard to Remington. I have to be careful around her or she will know exactly what I have been doing. I like her well enough and I wish I were as brave to show the other girls that I really do care about being here. I am, however, afraid my father might learn of it. If he did, I may as well change my name to Rapunzel and start growing out my hair.

After history I had a short break before my most intriguing class of the day, Chemistry. Primrose College is one of the most liberal schools for young ladies and it demonstrates this fact clearly with some of the more unusual classes available, sciences being chief among these as well as Politics of the Modern Age. Only third and fourth year ladies may take the latter class but the sciences are open to all years.

During the break I sat under Primrose Elm with Lizzie, Lucy and Jenny, my roommates. While I snacked on an apple I managed to borrow from Mr. Bard’s desk on the way out, Lucy told us all about her most recent encounter with Edward Taft, a senior at Brown and eldest son of the prominent New York family. She was bubbling over with joy as she told of his upcoming visit to see her parents over the Easter holiday. The two have been courting each other regularly since last October. I have kindly refrained from mentioning that he had pursued me for two weeks prior to giving up and turning his attentions toward her.

Lucy was quite convinced he planned to ask for her hand in marriage over Easter. Lucy can be given to fits of exaggeration but in this matter I think she is accurately portraying his intentions. It is quite customary for seniors attending Brown to become engaged in their final months. I feigned jealously, but it was not difficult to appear pouting as well, nor to let tears well up in my eyes. Mrs. Carrington’s efforts to correct my sleeping habits were still far from comforted, even in the cool grass on which we sat.

Lizzie and I left together for Chemistry. Lucy and Jenny were both of the mindset that science was a subject for men and so neither were enrolled in classes more challenging than Post Etiquette of the Modern Age or Family Budgeting; A Ladies Responsibility. Lizzie asked me about my rendezvous with Remington the previous night while we walked. I should have been better prepared to respond but I stuttered out a likely scenario of improper fondling and romantic conversation by the moonlight. I think she believed every word.

In order to ensure she gave no further thought to my poorly timed giggles during Mr. Bard’s monologue, I purposefully sabotaged our class experiment for the day. When the test tubes exploded I gave a stage worthy performance of shock and then amusement. Unfortunately, Dr. Phallic was less amused than the rest of my peers and far more observant. He unkindly requested the dishonor of my presence at the conclusion of class in his private office. There is not a girl in the class who hasn’t had the misfortune but inevitably they giggle in amusement when it is not their turn.

I’ve been to Dr. Phallic’s private office on two prior occasions. This visit made the previous seem like pleasant social interludes. He began the indelicate process of unfastening and removing my outer clothing whilst delivering a humiliating lecture. I stood as still and as straight as I could and closed my eyes in a futile effort to suppress tears.

“In fourteen years of teaching young ladies, I have never been forced to deal with such ineptitude.” With a calm, quiet voice, he whispered in my ear from behind. “Your careless actions are not a matter of amusement, Miss Penelope Sumter. My classroom is not the place for childish antics and should you be unable to control these foolish and dangerous impulses then you should remove yourself from my class.”

As he finished his initial comments his hands came to rest on my shoulders. I could feel the cool air of the room on my back and I fought the urge to shiver until his hands slid the material off my shoulders and my dress fell to the ground betraying me. My face flushed hot and my tears burned even hotter.

Dr. Phallic walked around to face me. I struggled to meet his gaze through my tears and shame. I had not thought my prank would go so far as to see me here. Dr. Phallic unknowingly reinforced the lesson I was screaming to myself in my head.

“You are a bright and capable student but at times you fail to think. Your actions today are a clear example. I have no doubt you knew precisely what you were doing. What I do not, cannot understand is why. Did it not occur to you that someone might have been hurt. A shard of glass might have blinded someone or the acid might well have disfigured or scarred a girl for life.” His voice was louder as he spoke. His words were angrier than his initial whispers, but his tone was gentle and kind. I felt small and ridiculous in his gaze. I longed to apologize.

“You need only apply yourself and you would be tops in your class. I can only guess at the motivations for your frivolity. Rest assured I will do my best to give you alternate motivation.”
He paused then and looked me in the eye for a long moment. I believe there was understanding that passed between us because his stern face softened and there was a hint of a supportive smile at the corner of his lips. He walked to the closed door behind me and I heard the unmistakable sound of the oak paddle being lifted from its hook. I shuddered at it like the sound of fingernails on slate.

“Lean over my desk and grip the far edge.” He commanded from behind.

Without looking back, without making a sound, I moved to the desk and did as instructed. It seemed forever before I felt the cold wood rest against my protruding buttocks. I cringed at the imminent swat waiting to be delivered. When it came it was fast. The air whooshed toward me and the connection sounded like a rifle shot all before the biting sting made its way through tingling nerves to my brain.

He waited patiently for the swat to have its effect. I am uncertain how he gauged the appropriate delay but he did so with unnerving accuracy. Not until each previous swat reached the pinnacle of unpleasantness did the next one fall.

By the tenth, a puddle of tears lay pooled on the desk against my burning cheek. My silence broke on the eleventh and I cried out in spite of myself. At the fifteenth and final swat I was begging forgiveness and mercy. Dr. Phallic left me to lay resting on the desk for a short time while he returned the paddle to its proper place on the door.

His strong arms guided me up from the desk. He quietly helped me back into my dress. When all was proper he offered comfort in a hug and a few supportive words.

“I am sorry to have done that Penelope, but we both know you needed it. Please do not make me have to repeat this lesson.”

I nodded unable to speak at first and then replied through stifled sobs, “I am sorry, I was not thinking of the consequences. Thank you for being so kind, sir.”

My words earned me a small smile and a gentle arm leading me to the door. On the front steps Lizzie was waiting for me. She smartly said nothing but offered me a friendly hug. We walked our bicycles back to the Carrington’s in the silence of understanding friends.

I am still amazed at the speed of which bad news travels in our small college town. Mrs. Carrington was already aware of my meeting with Dr. Phallic and she stood ready to reinforce the day’s lesson when we arrived. She took the business far too seriously in my opinion but at times like such my opinion seems of little matter.

For the third time of the day I was due a spanking. In her private study, Mrs. Carrington stripped me nude and blistered my bruised buttocks with a yardstick. After, I was made to sit on a high stool shamefully exposed to the household in the middle of the foyer with the dunce cap placed conspicuously on my head. I was beyond embarrassed when I heard the Carrington’s children laughing in the room behind me. My humiliation was most complete though when Mr. Carrington walked passed me upon arriving home, a smirk on his face.

Happily I skipped the evening meal at Mrs. Carrington’s insistence and returned here to my room to rename the days of the week in honor of today’s events. Tomorrow must be aptly named as I doubt I will be able to sit still during classes. I can only hope my music instructor, Mr. Green, will be less on key than usual and fail to notice any of my non-musical movements.


ace of spades said...

Great entry. Mr Phallic? Interesting name choice.

Melanie said...

Thank you, Ace. The symbolism behind his name should become more obvious in the future. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

Superb writing. I think you speak from experience, perhaps? (At least when it comes to spanking, if not Brown c 1896)
Mr R Fane