Lend Me Your Bottom...

April 22, 1896
Elizabeth Bassett
“Have you seen this?” Edith asked.

She held out a recent copy of The Paper. I nodded.

“Did you know Mr. Keeper has now banned all women from the library?”

Again I nodded.

“Does it not matter to you?” She asked.

“What would you have me do, Edith?”

“I would have you stand up for what you believe, not sit in seclusion and pretend none of it matters.”

“I have spent most of this last year trying to convince my roommates it is acceptable to want to be here to learn. All evidence to date indicates I have failed. Lucy and Jenny will not be returning next year and as for Penelope, I suspect she feels the same as them except she is missing a ring.”

Edith’s face contorted into a perfect replica of school teacher’s strictness. Were she any older I would have cringed in response. Instead I sighed.

“Do you think they are the only ones at Primrose? If they were then the college would not deserve existence. There are as many girls here who are pouring their hearts into books as into courting young men. They only need someone to stand up for them and they will come forward.”

“Maybe I am one of those who is waiting?”

Edith laughed at me.

“You are not a conformist, Elizabeth Bassett.” She said.

“But you are. So, why do you care?”

“When I first came here, I didn’t. It was an escape for me, nothing more. All that changed the longer I was here. I didn’t come here to learn but I did anyway and once I started learning I found it was impossible to stop. This place has made me into someone I am proud to be. Everyone who comes here deserves that opportunity and there are plenty just like us waiting for their chance. This college represents the future and we can’t let it die without a fight.”

Edith spoke with a passion I had never seen in her before. It awakened my own anger which I had been burying deep inside.

“You have a plan?”

“No, but we will.”

“Are there others who can help?”

“There will be in time. It is best that it is just us two to begin.”

“The Carrington’s will not approve.”

“They don’t need to know.”

“They will find out sooner or later.”

“Then let it be later than sooner. Once a thing is done it is much harder to be undone.”

“We will need a private place, there are too many ears in this house. I don’t suppose you could get us into the school house again?”

“No, Mrs. Carrington was certain to inform Mrs. Berry of my activities there with Penelope. There is an empty room in the basement of Primrose Hall. It is small and only has a single window to the street for light but it will be private.”

“Are you sure it is unused?”

“Completely. There is only one small problem.”

Edith paused. Our eyes met for a moment before she looked away.

“Go on.” I prompted.

“It is locked.”

I nodded.

“Who has the key?”

“Mr. Green. It was supposed to be a storage room for his instruments but he refused to use it on account of the sunlight. He felt it would damage the wooden instruments.”

“Do you know where he keeps it?”

“In his desk drawer, the one just under the center of the desk.”

“You have a plan to get it?”

“Yes, but you won’t like it.”

“Tell me.”

“If you can get him to bend you over his desk…” Edith trailed off.

My eyes widened and I gave my best ‘you’ve got to be joking’ look to her.

Edith shook her head and shrugged at me.

“There must be someplace else we can do this.”

“If you know of a place, I’m all ears.”

We sat in silence.

Mrs. Carrington entered the room without warning. Edith and I jumped in surprise like two girls caught with their fingers in the cookie jar. Mrs. Carrington cocked her head at us.

“What are you two conspiring about in here?” She asked.

“Nothing.” We replied in unison.

Mrs. Carrington regarded our guilty faces for a moment.

“If nothing becomes something, remember I keep a birch rod downstairs.”

We nodded. She shook her head at us.

“Elizabeth, there is a messenger with a wire from your father downstairs.” Mrs. Carrington said after a moment of quizzical looks.

I quickly headed downstairs and met the messenger at the door where he waited impatiently.

“Elizabeth Bassett?” He asked in a whiny voice.

“Yes.” I replied.


He thrust a small slip of paper at me and let it go before my fingers could close on it. I looked down on it even as the boy rushed away.


I walked back upstairs in a daze. Edith approached me as I headed toward my room.

“Will you do it?” She whispered.

I handed her the message from my father. She read it and read it again just as I had. Our eyes locked again. There was nothing left to say.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Another fine instalment, Miss Ashley.
Mr R Fane