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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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A lovely instalment, full of intrigue. The plot is definitely thickening. A nice audio version too, but I venture to sugget that Master Carrington's voice would surely not have broken at 9?

Mr R Fane