Building Bridges

June 27, 1896
Edith Bowen

I mailed a letter to Mr. Parker today. It was odd meeting him like I did but I barely remember my parents and if he knew my mother, even if it was many years ago, it is certainly worth my time to learn more. Caroline cautioned me that he could be running a scam of some kind, but I find it unlikely. There are not many who know of my status as an orphan and those who do can be trusted not to have said a word.

My relationship, if that is the proper term, with Charles has become more distant since my outing with his wife. Caroline and I have taken to spending some time together in the evenings after dinner. She is fascinated by the college and never tires of hearing stories from the early days of Primrose. Even Charles can be caught listening in at times but in general he has kept his distance at Carrington Manor.

The Birchwood’s should have their own place readied sometime in the coming week. It will probably do us all some good to have a little distance and give us a chance to reestablish a more traditional friendship. It is a good thing, Caroline is not much for jealousy, I do believe every girl in Primrose will be fawning over Charles come fall.

Charles has still made ample use of me as his assistance but he has refrained from administering any discipline. Well, at least as far as I am concerned. I have given him ample opportunities, teasing him with indirect answers and taking extraordinarily long amounts of time to do simple tasks. He grunts and groans but otherwise seems not to have noticed. I would take offense, except I think it actually has nothing to do with me at all.

The evening with Caroline was clearly enjoyed by all but, Charles seems obsessed with Ms. Maple of late. I find it amusing. Ms. Maple pretends she does not like or want his attention and yet she continuously manages to cross his path and irritate him. For all her complaining she submits to the discipline easily enough and I think I see a familiar pattern. I wonder if there might be an occasion in which all three of us are admonished simultaneously by Charles?

A girl can dream can she not?

The day did yield an unexpected event in the form of Mr. Carrington. He approached me shortly after dinner and I suspect I was the only one present who did not know his intentions. Caroline gave me a wink before disappearing with Charles.

“Edith, might I have a private word?” He asked without his usual air of authority.

“Of course, now?”

“Yes, if it is convenient.”


We retired to Mrs. Carrington den from their and sat comfortably in the chairs.

“We have had our difference over the last few months. I realize our disagreements have disrupted our personal relationship, but I want you to know I still have the utmost regard for you.” He said once we were settled.

“And I for you and your wife. I would welcome a return to how things used to be but I believe it is impossible to go backward.”

“Yes, it is but we can go forward and we can forge new bridges. I would very much like to see a day when we are friends again.”

“I was never your enemy.”

“No, but we are not strangers passing in the hall either.”

“Of course not.”

“I have been reviewing the admittance for the fall and it appears we can expect our largest group of girls yet.”

“That is good news. Surely that will help with the financial strains on the college.”

“Yes, but it will be a burden on the politics no doubt.”

“You are still concerned?”

“Yes. The politics are dangerous and they have away of resurfacing when you least expect it.”

“I see. I for one think the matter should be laid to rest, especially after the fall term begins. Once things have started and no disasters have occurred then everyone should realize it was never the monumental change they feared.”

“If politics were that simple, I would run for President.”

I smiled at that and he chuckled a little.

“I know it is not that simple but I do believe once the initial shock passes, everything will be fine because there will be the next big change on the horizon to worry over.”

“You may be right, I hope you are, but I expect trouble from the beginning of the new term.”

“Is there any particular reason or you just prefer to expect the worst?”

“I have my reasons but unfortunately I cannot share them.”

“I will not pursue it further then.”

“Thank you.”

I nodded.

“My purpose today was to ask for your assistance in the new term.”

“When the fall term begins I will be returning to my status as just another student.”

“You do not have to. You have been with Primrose almost from the start and you are entering your final year.”

“I am uncertain what my longevity at the school has to do with it and even if I were so inclined, how would I keep up with my studies with all the extra responsibilities?”

“I am certain allowances can be made.”

“I am not certain I would approve of allowances being made.”

“Yes, perhaps not but what I am proposing should have very little impact on your studies.”

“Perhaps you should explain in more detail before I respond?”

“That would be wise.”

“I will listen then.”

“The number of girls living here in the fall will be more than double what was here last year. My wife is certain it will be impossible for her to maintain watch over all of them and we know at least one of them will likely be trouble. My thought is that you might well benefit from sharing in the responsibility of governing the girls. It would certainly be a bonus of experience toward your own teaching position after your graduation.”

“I see. It is tempting, but how would this work?”

“In what way?”

“I expect Mrs. Carrington would still be involved?”

“Yes, of course. You would be assisting her.”

“So the ultimate responsibility would still rest with her and I would be expected to carry out her instructions?”

“I had envisioned a specific structure so as to avoid confusion. For example I think it might be best if you were to be responsible for the new arrivals only. This way it would not create hardships with the other girls who have known you as just another of them and by the quantity of new girls arriving it would be a substantial help to my wife.”

“I see. I am tempted. May I have some time to think it over?”

“Yes, certainly. I will need to know soon though. If you do not intend to assist I will have to arrange another solution.”

“I only need a day or two. I simply want to think it over in relation with my goals and the expectation I have for myself in the coming year. I am concerned this added responsibility might take away from my education.”

“It is only natural, but I believe you are capable of managing both without difficulty. Please take your time to think it over though, once you commit it will not be easy to decide you no longer wish to be involved.”

“I understand. Thank you for thinking of me.”

1 comment:

Paul said...

Ashley. nice post, the idea of Charles spanking all three.
The first spanking party?
Warm hugs,