August 25th - 30th, 1896

August 25, 1896 - Shards From A Broken Dream

  • Elizabeth arrives on the train at Providence in the third class car
  • She witnesses an unexpected interaction between Jonathon and Sarah which leaves her jealous

August 26, 1896 - First Impressions

  • Penelope arrives at Carrington Manor with Wilbur in his automobile and mistakes Sarah for a servant
  • Elizabeth and Wilbur begin to flirt and he takes her for a ride in town

August 27, 1896 - New Girl Attitude

  • Edith becomes concerned at Mrs. Carrington meddling with first year student, Sarah Waters
  • Edith's interaction with Sarah does not go as she planned and leaves her feeling challenged

August 28, 1896 - The Deception Of Appearance

  • Margaret has a confrontational meeting with Mrs. Carrington on her first day back
  • She discovers Sarah being bullied in the bathroom and attempts to befriend her

August 29, 1896 - Goldilocks And The Pauper

  • Charles and his wife attend what he expects to be a boring dinner at Primrose Hall
  • A blonde beauty captures his undivided attention while the rest of the faculty discusses a dark haired girl dressed in rags

August 30, 1896 - Cuckoo

  • Sarah examines the events of her first week at Primrose
  • She is left feeling out of place and wondering if there is anyplace she truly belongs


August 30, 1896
Sarah Waters

The week began on a stressful note. I was late from work in arriving at the train station. The plan was for me to enter the train out of sight from the platform and emerge as though I had just arrived. It seemed simple enough. I was not even fully convinced it was necessary but the young man who had kept me safe for the previous week was insistent that such an appearance was necessary and in fairness to him, I am not certain he was right.

Nothing goes as smoothly as planned though and it was of course another young man who had to nearly destroy the plan entirely. He stepped out into the aisle from nowhere and nearly sent me to the floor as we collided. He did in fact send one of my cases to the floor and the contents scattered. It was only anger that kept me from giving up on the spot.

The man had the audacity to react as if the entire spectacle was of my doing. I am sure I stretched the limits of behavior becoming a young lady of Primrose College but I was not about to allow the young man to ruin my day more than he all ready had. I calmly called him on his rudeness and perhaps succeeded if briefly in changing his attitude. In the end he did at least act in a gentlemanly manner and carried my cases, once they were recollected. Only later did I realize I never learned his name despite giving him mine, perhaps we will meet again under more fortunate circumstances.

Mrs. Carrington greeted me with the rudeness I am now becoming accustomed to at Primrose. My dreams of this place never included feeling ostracized. Still there are positives and I am doing my best to focus on those things.

The surroundings are picturesque. The scent of the ocean carries itself in the air and fills me with a sense of excitement and life. Fields of lavender stretch out in some areas as far as the eye can see. Birds sing from the treetops and the hills glimmer in the sunlight. It is not the Rocky Mountains, but it is America and it is beautiful just the same.

Carrington Manor, the dormitory, is colossal in size and design. The front steps alone can be a dizzying ascent and the entry hall is like a chamber of echoes. The oak floors are polished to a mirror like shine and not a single board creeks under the weight of a step. The staircase to the upper levels and the rooms winds around the outer walls of the front and left side. At the end of the entry hall there are two more hallways leading off into a study hall with dozens of desks and a small library of reference books.

Down the opposite hall there is a door to one side leading to Mrs. Carrington’s den before the hallway opens up into the dining room. There are three extended tables and by my initial count they can easily seat nearly 100 guests. From the dining room another hall extends toward the kitchen, Mr. Carrington’s private study and the Carrington’s family rooms. A back exit through at the end of the hall and another through the kitchen lead to the property’s driveway and the stables are just a short walk beyond. Seeing them, I missed Jasper.

My first stop inside Carrington Manor was Mrs. Carrington’s den. I would have rather settled into my room and met my roommates, but she was quite insistent. Her den felt cold and empty despite its tea room d├ęcor. I entered ahead of Mrs. Carrington and selected a chair to the side of her desk to sit in. She emitted a grumpy sigh as I did.

“I received a letter from your brother just this morning. He was uncertain if you would be arriving here.” She said, taking her place behind the desk.

I remained quiet and waited patiently for her to come to a point.

“You have nothing to say?” She asked.

“I was not aware there was a question to be answered.” I replied.

“I would think it is obvious you have some explaining to do.”

“I do not see why I should explain anything about my relationship with my brother or any other family member to you.”

“You are under my care and responsibility while here. If there are problems in your home life it is my concern.”

“Matters pertaining to my life within this house are your business, outside of that boundary it is my business and none of yours.”

“You will learn to have better manners in your time here, Miss Waters. Now, I expect an explanation as to why your brother would be concerned about your whereabouts.”

“My manners may not be impeccable but I am not the one who is prying into the private matters of someone I do not know. You may expect whatever you wish but in regards to matters between my brother and I you will be disappointed.”

“I am aware of your father’s recent passing and the kind of stress that undoubtedly has placed in your family life, but I cannot help you if you do not talk to me.”

“I do not recall asking for your help.”

“You did not, but your brother has.”

“Then perhaps you should correspond with him. I have no need for your false sympathy or your insensitive probing into matters which do not concern you.”

“You are clearly in need of some sound discipline and if you maintain this defiant attitude you will soon be receiving it.”

“If you think to discipline me for rejecting your rude and obtrusive inquiries into my private affairs, you will not find me a compliant and I doubt you have the same resolve I do. If I break the rules of this house or the college I will willing accept the consequence otherwise I expect to left alone and I am not helpless.”

I stood and decided the conversation was over.

“Where are you going? Sit back down this instant!”

She stood behind her desk and leaned forward over it toward me. I met her gaze and stepped closer to her, unflinching.

“Unless you have something to discuss about Primrose College or the Dormitory, we are quite done. I have no intention of discussing my dead father or its impact on my family with you or anyone else here.”

“It would do you some good to talk about these matters, help you let go of that anger. Sit down and accept the friendship offered to you.”

“Talk is a waste of time, only action has meaning and you do not offer friendship, I wonder if you even know how.”

“You are out of line.”

“No more than you are. We are done.”

I walked out of the den without waiting for her to reply.

I found my room with relative ease, although I was stopped on the way by another young woman who felt it was her job to ‘help’ me as well. Fortunately, the conversation remained short and the woman in question backed down before it escalated into a confrontation.

My roommates had all ready settled in and I was therefore stuck with a top bunk and the bottom drawer of the dresser. In truth it made no difference to me but the fact I had no choice was irritating. The three girls did not take kindly to me from the start. They are from money, as it seems everyone at Primrose is, everyone except me that is.

They decided to take issue with my clothes and my hair. They escalated quickly to declaring I was filthy and even accused me of thievery. Before I knew it they had dragged me from the room and dumped me in a tub of water, clothes and all. I cannot say a bath was unwelcome but the attitudes and method were.

Come Friday, an evening of socializing was scheduled. I attended only after being informed it was mandatory. As I sat in the midst of gossiping rich girls I realized just how out of place I am. I had expected to find a place where I would fit in, but even though I never quite fit in my hometown I realize now that I was a lot closer to it there than I will ever be here. I am the cuckoo in the nest.

Goldilocks And The Pauper

August 29, 1896
Charles Birchwood

I was captivated by her from the first moment we stepped into Primrose Hall’s banquet room. Golden, curly locks of long, bouncing hair, perfectly framed her smiling face. Her skin was a delicate milky white, the sort royalty would have killed for in centuries past. In a sea of beauty, she was all that was worth the look.

If Caroline noticed my instant infatuation, she pretended to ignore it very well. We gracefully crossed the floor and made our way toward the tables and consequentially the dangerous beauty caught by my wandering eye. Her voice carried above the murmur in the room and it was that of a siren, captivating and entrancing all who happened by. When she laughed it was music and when she smiled the room gleamed a little brighter.

I had resigned myself to a boring evening, the first of many traditional Primrose events which I would be unable to find suitable excuses to avoid. I had not expected to find anything or anyone worth the time, but I was of course never more mistaken.

Caroline quickly made her way to socialize with the other women soon to be starting classes. I walked meanderingly closer to the girl, listening carefully to conversation I would normally have ignored. When at last I felt I had gathered enough trivial information, I set course to introduce myself.

Mrs. Carrington took the opportunity to ring the dinner bell and interrupted my intentions. Perhaps it was for the best, but the Carrington’s continue to be a blight upon my experiences at Primrose and if by coincidence they ever happen to do well for me it will be merely that; a coincidence.

Caroline rejoined me and we made our way to the seats reserved for us. Probably to Caroline’s chagrin we were seated with the other faculty members and their wives, rather than the students she would soon be attending with. I shared her remorse at the situation for I would far rather have surrounded myself with beautiful young ladies than grumpy old men.

Goldilocks, as I have decided to call her, was seated plainly in my natural stares view. It was fortunate, saving me from inventing an excuses for my constant curious glance. Caroline’s own gaze was captivated by one of the girls as well, but for different reason. It seemed indeed the one girl I had not noticed at all was the center of attention for nearly everyone else at the table.

She was nothing remarkable. Dark, tangled long hair, a worn dress and a tired expression of the type I myself might have worn had it not been for Goldilocks. Perhaps as the others suggested, the girl could have at least borrowed a decent gown for the evening, but I could not see where that would truly improve matters. She would have no more fit in with the crowd, save for appearance. Clearly that was their desire, but I think even then the girl would have stood out.

“Have you spoken with her? Her words are as rugged as her dress!” Mrs. Bard said.

“Oh and that awful accent! She belongs in a tavern not a school.” Mrs. Carrington said.

“She would scare off the customers even there.” Caroline chimed in.

The men for the most part merely nodded at the ladies comments. I found this disturbing and did not mind saying so.

“I do not believe this is an appropriate time or place to discuss the students and their fitness to be here.” I said.

“You don’t agree with the ladies, Mr. Birchwood?” The Dean asked.

“I will confine my opinion to her performance and ability within my classroom.” I replied.

It seemed that put an end to the gossip at the table and I was glad for it. I can see how one might be tempted to pronounce judgment by appearance and first impression, but in my experience that is often a mistake. Indeed, she may appear a fish out of water to the ladies but as I watched her interact with the other girls I was more inclined to call her a shark in the school.

The evening was rather uneventful if not quite as painful as I expected. I shall look forward to the days and weeks ahead as I get to know Goldilocks and the Pauper.

The Deception of Appearance

August 28, 1896
Margaret Spooner

My head was spinning by the time we arrived in Providence. Edgar was serious about getting married. He was so serious he wanted the event planned for the holidays between semester. How I am supposed to plan a wedding and attend classes I do not know. Edgar seems to think my mother could do an exemplary job for us. Apparently he fails to recall my mother and I fail to agree about anything more complicated than the time and date. There is simply no way I can allow my mother to plan our wedding and expect I will have any enjoyment from the day.

My thoughts were of such complicated things as we exited the train and I joined the girls heading to Carrington Manor on the platform. Edgar was of course not allowed to accompany me, so in a flagrant violation of rules he chose to kiss me on the platform just before I headed over to the line. Mrs. Carrington did not fail to notice, although I was somewhat beyond caring that she did.

It seemed as though there were a lot more girls than last year. None of the faces really looked familiar to me, but then I have such a hard time remembering any of them. As it was, if not in the group I would certainly have lost my way walking to Carrington Manor. Not many things attract my attention on such mundane walks but there was something new along the way. Every few feet a pole had been erected and at it’s top there were wires strung from it to the next one and it seemed the wires were either coming from or going to each and every building. The purpose eluded me.

“Miss Spooner, I can see the summer did nothing to improve your behavior. Wait outside my den, I will see you when I done with Miss Waters.” Mrs. Carrington said as ascended the steps of the dormitory.

“Yes, ma’am.” I replied.

It was more out of force of habit than any actual agreement with her words. The wait was rather long. I could have unpacked and settled into my room in the time she took with Miss Waters, whomever that is. At least the quiet time alone did allow me to gather my thoughts better and thus I was more prepared when the door to the den opened and a grungy girl exited, followed by a tearful Mrs. Carrington.

In past experience, it was always the girls leaving her den that were crying not, Mrs. Carrington herself. For an instant I had the image of the exiting girl holding Mrs. Carrington over her lap and spanking her for having the audacity to expect perfect behavior on a travel day. It was a nice fantasy while it lasted.

Once inside the den with the door closed, I expected to be quickly ordered over the desk or something of the sort. Mrs. Carrington took a seat though which then changed my thoughts to actually lying over her lap. So, I was naturally surprised when she invited me to sit down first.

“Margaret, I am fully aware you are a woman old enough to be married and I do not begrudge you the ability to court a good man, but must you blatantly violate the rules of this house, in the presence of all those new girls?” She began.

“It was not my intention, ma’am and I did not think it a violation of the rules since I had not yet entered your custody.” I replied.

“That you had not yet spoken to me makes only the slightest difference. I would think if the gentleman valued your honor at all he would not be so flagrant with his affection in any case. I would highly recommend you cease your involvement with this boy before he ruins your chances with any respectable man.”

“Edgar is respectable and I would thank you for not insulting my future husband in my presence!” I bristled at her attack.

“Your f-future husband?” She stuttered.

“Yes, Edgar proposed to me and I have accepted. He was merely kissing me goodbye on the platform as any respectable husband would do.” My anger was far from dissipating.

“I see. I am mistaken twice in one day. I am sorry Margaret. May I offer you my congratulations?”

“You may.”

She nodded.

“You may go, I am sorry to have wasted your time.” She said.

Her voice was strained like she might cry and her eyes were all ready wet. I stood before my heart softened and I found myself apologizing to her.

Upstairs, there was a bit of commotion coming from the bath room. I stopped to peer inside as curiosity got the better of me. The girl I had seen leaving Mrs. Carrington’s den was there and she was surrounded by three other girls I had never seen before. It appeared they were attacking the poor girl. They had filled the tub with warm water and were struggling to push her into it as well.

It took all three of them but they did eventually get her in, tattered clothing and all. The girls was sputtering and the others were laughing. They threw a bar of soap at her and a cloth.

“Scrub yourself clean and then maybe we will let you back in the room.” One of them said.

They stared at me as they walked out but said nothing to me directly. When they were gone I stepped inside.

“Are you all right?” I asked.

“Just leave me alone.” She replied.

“I’m sorry.” I said and turned to leave.

“No, I’m sorry. It’s just you’re the first person that has been civil to me all day. I shouldn’t have --” She started to cry.

I turned around again. I do not know why but I felt an immediate connection with this girl. She was clearly not from money and while there was an appearance of vulnerability to her, I also felt a strong sense of resolve and determination. Her tears were more likely those of frustration and anger than of self pity.

“Come on now, let’s get you out of these clothes. Might as well take advantage and enjoy a nice warm bath.”

She gave a half hearted smile and then helped me undress her. Beneath the old clothing and dirt, there was a very pretty young girl. With the right clothing and attitude she would put the rest of the girls to shame.

New Girl Attitude

August 27, 1896
Edith Bowen

Of all the new girls this year, there is only one who stands out. At first I was inclined to feel sorry for her. It was clear to me, she would be ostracized by her peers and I know only too well how that feels. Her clothing is merely more than tatters, even I was more fortunate than that when I arrived. I wondered at first if she too was an orphan, but soon learned she was from the frontier.

I have often dreamed of heading west and opening the first school house in some remote town. If she is any example of the life though, then my dreams are just that. Cleanliness is clearly something she is unaccustomed to, not to mention her manners are strained at best and missing entirely in many situation. Her speech is slurred and loaded with contractions that I doubt even Penelope Sumter could understand.

I spotted her immediately when she exited the train. I admit when I first saw the poor girl I had no inclination that she might be a Primrose student. I honestly assumed she was there to find work in the city. There is plenty of room for those willing to work for low wages. However, I was taken by surprise. She was followed by none other than Jonathon Goulding and he was carrying her cases. How she managed that feat I do not know other than the obvious, Mr. Goulding is a gentleman.

When she spoke to Mrs. Carrington at the station it was with the confidence of a woman twice her age and the manners of someone half it. Although I cannot say I blame her entirely, Mrs. Carrington’s own attitude toward the girl was less than warm and far short of welcoming.

“Miss Waters, I presume?” Mrs. Carrington asked her.

“Yep, that’s me.” She replied.

I was embarrassed for her.

“You are late.”

“I arrived with the train, Ma’am no earlier or later than it was.” She replied.

“Indeed and yet you were the last to exit.”

“I wasn’t seated with the others and there was an accident with one of my cases.”

“I am sure there are frequently accidents where you are concerned, but clumsiness is not an accident.”

“Begging your pardon, but I don’t see how we know each other well enough for you to be making assumption about my character.”

“I have seen enough girls like you before. Now take your place, we’ll have a further discussion back at the dormitory.”

“As you like, but if the looks of the ladies here are any indication, you’ve never met a girl like me before.” She said.

Mrs. Carrington had opened her mouth to reply but the girl had all ready turned her back and walked away to the end of the line of waiting girls. I was astounded at the behavior, but at the same time I was a bit perturbed at Mrs. Carrington. It was agreed upon that the first years would be my domain and yet here on the very first day she was crossing that line. I am sure it is only the first of many occasions.

Back at the dormitory, Mrs. Carrington and Miss Waters disappeared into the den for a long while. I was somewhat surprised at the duration but not at all shocked that Mrs. Carrington would induct her with a proper spanking after the train station. However when they emerged it was Mrs. Carrington with tears in her eyes and flushed cheeks. The Waters girl was straight backed and her face was full of pride. What I would not give to have been a fly on the wall in that den!

I cornered Miss Waters briefly on the same afternoon.

“You have not made a very good start here.” I said.

“I don’t recall asking for your opinion.” She replied.

“I am Edith, your dormitory aide for the year.” I said, trying to keep matters civil.

“I’ll keep it in mind when I need aid.”

“If you keep with this attitude, the spanking you received earlier will only be the first of many.”

“You are mistaken if that is what you think happened earlier.”

“I am very much aware of what happens to girls in Mrs. Carrington’s den. Do not bother lying to me about it.”

“You’ve got some nerve. Do you accuse everyone of lying on acquaintance?”

“As I said I know what happens…”

“Clearly, you know less than you think. Now if you’ll excuse me I have things to unpack.”

“Very well. We will have ample opportunity to talk in the days to come. You are going to need some settling in, more than most.”

“What I need is to be allowed to go about my business without nosey little snobs like yourself interfering.”

My anger nearly got the better of me, but in the end I decided a little goodwill would be better in the long run.

“My apologies, my intention was to help not to interfere. Go about your business as you please.” I said biting my tongue to keep the anger inside.

She walked away and indeed if she was spanked, she gave no outward sign of it.

As the week has progressed and the girls have settled into the routines of Carrington Manor, Miss Waters has made few if any friends that I can see. She remains aloof and rude and surprisingly proud. I can see, she will be a true test of my abilities. If I can succeed with a girl like her, then I can succeed with anyone.

First Impressions

August 26, 1896
Penelope Sumter

I must say it was the oddest experience sitting next to Wilbur as he drove the automobile up the street to Carrington Manor. There were plenty of stares, jealous and otherwise, but what made the experience odd was how different everything appeared. It had only been a few weeks since I was last here and yet everything seemed so different, perhaps nothing was and it was merely I who have changed.

Parked in front of Carrington Manor, Wilbur helped me out and then began piling my luggage on the sidewalk. It was almost embarrassing, how much more I had been able to bring without the limitation of train travel. There was a dark haired girl who looked to be a new servant of the house, she in particular looked at me with what I assume to be disdain. If I were a mean sort I would have reported her to Mrs. Carrington straight away, but I have always felt it best to wait until an affront is more definable than a simple look.

“Is there something you need?” I asked the staring girl.

“No.” She answered simply.

“Then go about your business and fetch a boy to carry my things inside.”

“I’ll do about my business as I please and you can fetch your own assistance.”

“How rude! You can be sure I will report this to Mrs. Carrington.”

“As you like.” She waved her hand in a dismissing motion and walked away.

I boiled with embarrassment and anger. I would have followed the girl directly but it was then that Lizzie appeared. Probably for the best, because it just does not do to infuriate the staff upon arrival. I learned that lesson in Paris when I was a little girl.

Lizzie was awestruck by the automobile and she made no effort to conceal it. Wilbur appeared awestruck himself but he was not looking at the automobile. I sighed, Wilbur never has had very good taste in women.

“Can you believe the new help they have, Lizzie?” I said after a moment.

“You mean her?” Lizzie said and nodded her head at the retreating girl.

“Yes, completely rude and out of order. She seems to not know her place.”

“She’s a new student.”

“You must be mistaken. Since when do they allow paupers in here?”

“I wish I was mistaken. Stay away from her. She’s trouble, even Mrs. Carrington sees that. She had a talk with her straight away yesterday after we arrived.”

“It seems not to have had any effect on her.”

“From what I saw, Mrs. Carrington was more effected than she was.”

“No doubt the girl is used to whipping.” I said.

“Probably. Her name is Sarah Waters, she is from somewhere out west. I bet she doesn’t even know what a bath is.” Lizzie said.

We both giggled at the thought.

Wilbur cleared his throat in a less than subtle manner to get my attention.

“Aren’t you going to introduce us?” He said.

“Oh yes, Mr. Wilbur Sumter may I introduce, Miss Elizabeth Bassett, a roommate and friend from last year.”

“Pleasure to meet you, Miss Bassett.” Wilbur said.

He stepped to her side and grasped her hand gently bringing it to his lips. Lizzie blushed, as was expected. I shook my head. Clearly, Wilbur is in more need of guidance in selecting a mate than I. It is not that Lizzie is bad people, quite the contrary, she is good people, but she is bad money. That is her family has less of it each year rather than more. Definitely not a good match for my family.

“I see you are taken with the automobile.” Wilbur said.

“I’m sorry if I’m staring. I’ve just never seen one so close.” She replied.

“Or at all.” I muttered under my breath.

Wilbur shot me a warning look and still managed to be charming to Lizzie in the way only a Southern man can do.

“Would you like to go for a ride about town? It would be my pleasure.” Wilbur said.

Lizzie looked like her eyes would pop out of her head from shear excitement.

“I would be honored, Mr. Sumter.” She said more mutely than her expression.

“Call me Will, all my friends do. Are you coming Penny?” Wilbur asked.

“No, I have had enough riding for a good long time.” I replied.

It was not exactly true, I enjoyed nearly every minute of riding in the machine but the thought of watching my brother and Lizzie continue on with their little game was more than enough to make me sick.

“Suit yourself. I will be back in two hours to collect the empty cases.” He said.

“Yes, yes, I know.”

I headed inside to find some help for my things as they sped away back down the street toward Providence. They did both look happy, but I know Lizzie must still have eyes for Jonathon. Wilbur will find out soon enough she was in love with his machine and not him.

Shards From A Broken Dream

August 25, 1896
Elizabeth Bassett

The train into Providence was even more crowded than the one leaving New York. It was so full of young women they had to ask several of the men to relocate into the third class cars to make room in the first and second class cars for the masses of traveling women. More than a few of the men were grumbling about paying for better.

I kept my tongue and tried to remain unnoticed in the car. I thought I was the only woman in third class but I was apparent wrong. I did not see her until after we had arrived, she must have sat in the very back of the car. I kept toward the front. I realize it is silly but at least by being close to the door to a better car made me feel more like I was in the best part of the third class car. Ridiculous right?

And so, when the train lurched its way to a final stop in Union Station, Providence, I rose quickly to get off the train in the hopes none of my peers would notice my exit from the poor section. Gathering my single, insufficient case I noticed Jonathon was sitting just a few benches back. He had not noticed me, but he would undoubtedly see me if I moved into the main aisle. I decided to wait. My thinking was if I exited the train with a gentleman like Jonathon, no one would pause to consider from where we were exiting.

It did not take long for the car to clear out. Most of the men were in a hurry to get someplace and still grumbling about the train’s relocation of their seating. From the sounds of things someone at the station was going to have more than a few complaints and requests for refunds. I considered briefly the idea of joining in and swearing I was a wronged passenger myself. Dishonest but it could put a few dollars in my empty pockets. Of course, I am too much of a lady to do anything so crass.

I stepped into the aisle at long last when the car was nearly empty. Jonathon was just then rising from his seat. Typical of him to remain patient, while so many were rushed. I was expecting to join him, but then I saw her, for the first time in person. She was struggling up the narrow aisle with three cases. I briefly wondered how she was allowed to keep them all with her considering they only allowed me to carry aboard one. Probably she was more stubborn and forceful than I am capable of being.

She looked a right awful sight. Her long brown hair was tangled with strands stuck to her sweaty face. She looked to have been running rather than sitting in a train car. Her dress, if one can call patched rags a dress, looked in dire need of a scrubbing. In my dreams, she had been more refined, more inspirational and yet here she was in the flesh and my first impression revealed nothing of the character, Mrs. Rockefeller had spoke at length about.

I was watching her when disaster struck. Just as she was approaching, Jonathon stepped out into the aisle, looking at me with a querying look upon his face. She collided with him in that very same moment. He had obviously not noticed her, his eyes taken with me instead. I blushed for him. He turned his back to me, his face showing pure annoyance as he looked for the source. I felt a twinge of sympathy for the poor girl, but it did not last.

Her cases had completely left her grasp. One of them had spilled its contents onto the floor with items rolling under benches and generally everywhere. The girl had immediately dropped to her knees, scrambling to collect her scattered belongings. Her own face was harder to read because of her downward look and frazzled hair.

There was an unmistakable quality to her despite it all. She has that natural, shy appearance that so many men adore. There was gentle quality to her and as I say I felt sorry for her for just a moment. She was like a lost puppy, out of her depth, scared and defensive as she sought a familiar sight or a friendly face in the crowd.

“You might consider looking where you are walking.” Jonathon scolded.

“Me? I might well say the same of you.” She replied.

There was something in her voice that was more noble than her appearance. Jonathon stood in silence for a moment. I suspect he was shocked to discover it was a woman and not a careless young man who had collided with him.

“Let me help you.” He said.

He started to kneel down to the floor himself.

“I think you have done more than enough all ready. Please, just leave and get out of the way.”

“My sincere apologies. I did not see you at all.”

“Obviously.” She replied.

She practically ignored him as she continued to gather her scattered items and repack them in the open case. Jonathon, ever the proper gentleman, knelt down to the floor and began collecting them as well. The girl said nothing but the look on her face was not of appreciation.

“I think that is everything.” Jonathon said, handing her a last few items and looking around.

“It appears so, but I’ll not know until I have time to take inventory later.”

Jonathon stood and offered her his hand. She looked at it and instead, pushed herself up off the floor and began to lift her cases again. I could not believe her audacity. She was clearly raised without manners.

“Let me help.” Jonathon said.

“I can manage on my own.” She replied.

“I can see that, but is your need to prove it so great?”

“My needs are not of your concern. Your offer is selfish in nature and refused as such.”

“Do you insult everyone you meet or is it just me you object to?”

“It is no fault mine if the truth is insulting to you.”

The girl arranged her cases in her arms and looked on Jonathon with impatience and annoyance. There was a sparkle in her eyes as though she relished the exchange despite the tone of her voice and the language of her stance.

“What purpose does it serve for you to struggle when I can assist? Furthermore what purpose is served by not allowing me to make proper amends?” Jonathon asked.

“My struggles are none of your concern. Your needs to make amends are none of mine. I am expected on the platform, so if you will excuse me, I have places to go.”

“I think you might well be the most stubborn and prideful girl I have ever met.” Jonathon said.
He snatched a case from her hands and then grabbed another. She was not amused. She slapped him across his face for his troubles.

“What do you think you are doing?” She demanded.

“I am assisting the lady.” He replied and stepped back into his bench area, gesturing for her to walk toward the exit.

She sighed in disgust.

“Well if you are going to act as a porter,” She said and thrust her last case upon him, “you might as well do the job right.”

How she carried off such a superior tone and attitude whilst looking like a pauper, is beyond my abilities to understand. Perhaps there is more to her than meets the eye.

They walked past me and neither said a word to me. Jonathon did not even seem to notice I existed at all. I could have cried for his lack of acknowledgment.

“May I ask you name, Miss?” Jonathon said as they descended the steps to the platform.

“Sarah, Miss Sarah Waters.” She replied.

“A pleasure to meet you, Sarah.” He replied.

I noticed the informality at once. It struck me raw and harder than any physical blow every could. He was taken with her, so much so he forgot to be a proper gentleman even if it was merely the instant of a careless address. It was still more relaxed than he had ever been with me.

August 18th - 23rd, 1896

August 18, 1896 - Helping Hands

  • Sarah arrives in Providence and gains help from an unlikely source.
  • But, can she trust a young man she barely knows?

August 19, 1896 - Not So Lonely

  • Edgar proposes to Margaret on the train to Providence
  • Edgar seems to know more about Carrington Manor than he should

August 20, 1896 - Unwanted Gifts

  • Charles arranges for Caroline to attend Primrose College in the fast approaching new term
  • A telephone is installed in his home under the watchful eye of Mr. Carrington

August 21, 1896 - Waiting Until The Last Minute

  • Elizabeth gets the date confused for her departure for Primrose
  • Her father sends her off with a sore bottom and barely enough time to have packed

August 22, 1896 - Penny For Your Thoughts

  • Penelope confronts Wilbur about his attitude since they left home
  • Wilbur's version of events prior to leaving is significantly different from her fathers

August 23, 1896 - At Summer's End

  • Edith and Charles' professional relationship comes to an end
  • Edith anticipates a complicated relationship with Mrs. Carrington in the coming weeks

At Summer's End

August 23, 1896
Edith Bowen

“I wanted to thank you.” I said.

Charles and I were leaving his classroom together for the last time as teacher and assistant. Then next time I enter his classroom it will be as merely another student in a sea of students.

“For what?” He asked.

It was typical of the man. He knows very well what I mean but he enjoys pretending to be clueless. I suspect he will fool more than one girl to thinking she is safe to misbehave in his class.

“For everything. For being good to me when I needed it.”

“I have done nothing for you I would not have done for anyone else. You are welcome nevertheless.”

“You are a good man Mr. Birchwood and that is not a compliment I give lightly.”

“As well you should not. You will make a fine teacher when you are ready.”

“Thank you. I am ready enough now but I still have this last year of studies to pass.”

“It will go faster than you expect. Time has a way of passing quickly when we least expect it.”

“Goodnight, Sir.”

“Goodnight, Edith.”

There was something in his eyes as we left, I think it was sadness but I could be mistaken. Perhaps our time together had meant less to him than it did to me. I know change is inevitable and as one time ends a new one begins.

At Carrington Manor I am spending the last weekend before students arrive preparing my private room. It was agreed with Mr. Carrington that given my new responsibilities, it would be necessary and appropriate for me to have a private room. I picked the first one from the stairs on the second floor. Its location would make it convenient for a number of reasons.

Mr. Carrington had all but one of the beds removed for me and a larger desk was placed against one wall. I decided I would only require a chair for myself and any visitors would not be expected to sit nor would they likely wish to.

At night the room seemed empty without the other beds and while I have spent the summer sleeping in relative peace, I do believe the loneliness will be an adjustment come Monday when the house is full again.

I have taken the time to create a rotating schedule for the house chores expected of the first year girls. It was always a complaint of mine to have to do the same chore week after week. Now with the rotation each girl will have the opportunity to do things they do not mind as well as the things they do not wish to be bothered with. It is fair this way.

Mr. Carrington was supportive of the plan and Mrs. Carrington grudgingly admitted it was a good idea. I have the feeling this year will be something of a contest between us. If it remains as simply a competition for taking care of the girls in our care, it will be harmless enough but I do worry it could become more personal.

Mrs. Carrington had once taken a liking to me and in so doing she had made my life more comfortable at Primrose. Now that she has changed her opinion of me, it is clear she could reverse all of that and make me miserable. So far she has refrained but I can tell she does not like me upstaging her with new ideas. Fortunately for me, she has kept her feelings mostly to herself, although I suspect the real reason is her husbands watchful eye. Come the start of the semester he will not be around quite as often and she will have more freedom to act.

Hopefully, we will both be too busy with our responsibilities to cause trouble between ourselves.

Penny For Your Thoughts

August 22, 1896
Penelope Sumter

“Out with it all ready.” I said.

Wilbur looked over at me, taking his eyes off the road ahead for the first time in over an hour.

“Out with what?”

“Something has been eating you since we left home.”

“Whatever makes you say that?”

“The way you’ve been acting.”

“How have I been acting?”

“Like something has you upset.”

“I don’t get upset.”

“Hah! You are talking to me you know.”

“Are you calling me a liar?”

“No, just less than forthcoming with the truth. Look, I know father sent you away with me and it is probably to have us both out of the way.”

“What do you thin he would want us out of the way for and what gives you the idea we could pose an obstacle for anything he wants to do anyway?”

“All those meetings at the house and that man who brought James back. There are things going on and it is not father’s usual business routine. I am not a complete idiot. Obviously you are little more in on what is going on than I am but I have the feeling what you do know, you don’t approve.”

“You have been reading too many Sherlock Holmes stories.”

“Maybe, but I do know father prefers to keep me wondering in the dark than lie to me about things he knows I will disagree with.”

“That is because you don’t know how to disagree civilly.”

“Just because I wish to argue out my points of view?”

“No, because you inevitably turn the argument in directions far more personal when you begin to lose.”

“I do no such thing.”


“Don’t mimic me.”

Wilbur laughed.

“Finally, a smile from my dear brother.” I said.

“All right, you win. Father and I have some serious differences of opinion in regards to the future of the South and of the Country as a whole.”

“It comes as no surprise to me. So, what has you angry?”

“Nothing. Father didn’t send me away, I chose to leave. I arranged for my own employment in Providence without father’s help. What angers me is he insists on keeping the appearance of being in control even when he is not.”

“Oh. I didn’t know.”

“Of course not, because he told you before I could.”

“You know he loves you?”

“Like he loves you? He sends you away here, hoping to marry you off to someone with political connections and money he can use. That is not love, Penelope.”

“He only wants a good life for us.”

“He only wants for himself and he uses everyone and everything around him. You don’t know him like I do.”

“He is our father.”

“Yes, but fortunately it does not mean we have to be like him.”

“What is it he is doing?”

“I do not know for certain, but I know he is meddling in a great many affairs including the workings of your school.”

“You suspect more than you are saying.”

“I will keep them to myself until if and when I have evidence to prove myself correct.”

“Whatever you tell me will remain between us, Wil. You can trust me.”

“I know, but some things are better left unsaid.”

Waiting Until The Last Minute

August 21, 1896
Elizabeth Bassett

“All Aboard!”

I heard the cry and I was still to far away to see the train.

“Wait for me!” I shouted.

I ran toward the platform as quickly as three cases and my dress would allow. That is to say I walked at a brisk pace, just shy of falling flat on my face.

“Straggler, eh? You’ve got about a minute to get settled aboard.”

“Thank you. My cases?”

“You can take one with you but the rest will have to wait for the next train. The baggage care is full and locked.”

“I need my things when I arrive!”

“You should have been more prompt then Miss. They’ll be about a day behind you.”

“That is completely unacceptable. I demand to speak to someone in charge.”

“You are speaking to someone in charge and I am telling you if you don’t get on the train right now, you will be a day behind with your luggage as well.”

I hissed in frustration but realized quickly I had no choice. I held fast to my largest case and left the other two with the rude man. Mrs. Carrington would not be happy but what else could I do?
It was not what I would call a good day so far and the incident on the train platform was not even the cause. I had been sleeping, when father entered my room and promptly awakened me. He wanted to have a chat before sending me off to Primrose. Disoriented as I was at being awakened I quickly understood this would be a rather one sided chat.

What confused me was he kept saying today as though I was leaving today. I was quite certain he had told me my ticket was for tomorrow.

“But I don’t leave until tomorrow.” I had said.

“Your train leaves in two hours.” He replied.


He proceeded to whack my bottom with my hairbrush several times punctuating his words.

“Your train leaves in two hours.”

I realized, given my position over my father’s knee it was not a wise moment to mention that he had misled me on my day of departure. In a rare moment of self control I actually managed to keep it to myself.

“I haven’t packed a thing yet. I’m going to be late. Please let me up.” I said.

“You haven’t even packed? What have you been doing this week?”

He swung my hairbrush with new fervor. I began to cry.

“I’ve been debating sending you off with a spanking all week and now I am convinced I made the right choice.” He continued.

“But I haven’t done anything wrong.” I said.

“Nothing wrong? You haven’t even packed for school and your train is leaving in two hours. Then there is the matter of all the things you will likely do when you were out of my sight.”

“Mrs. Carrington punishes me at school whenever I mess up. I’d be packing right now if you weren’t spanking me.”

“I’m sure that Mrs. Carrington has taken a liking to you from what I say last year when I visited. She undoubtedly lets you get away with far too much. And in this house we do not put things off to the last minute.”

“But you put off this spanking to the last minute.” I protested unwisely.

Father decided at that point I needed a does of his belt. No need for illicit details, lets just say a doubled over leather belt is not something I wish to encounter again. Not that my chances are good.

When finally he finished with me, I had less than a half hour to pack if I was to make it to the station on time. Needless to say my packing was rushed and I really hope I have not forgotten anything. I nearly missed the train as it was and had no time for even a bite of breakfast. Mother scolded me all the way out the door for that.

On the train I found my assigned third class car was packed. It was standing room only but while that may bother me at some point, for the moment it is quite the relief.

A kindly old man offered me his seat which I politely declined.

“I prefer to stand for now, but thank you.” I said.

He nodded at me with a twinkle in his eye. I think he understood exactly why.

Unwanted Gifts

August 20, 1896
Charles Birchwood

“It is called a telephone.” Carrington said.

“I am well aware of what it is. What is it doing in my living room?” I replied.

The man has a knack for annoyance unlike any creature I have ever known save for my wife. If I did not know better I would swear they were brother and sister. Fortunately such is not the case and in any regard they have little regard for each other.

“They are being installed in all the faculty homes on campus. The Dean considers this a gift and a privilege.” He replied.

“Does he think the same of the plagues of Egypt?” I muttered.

“I will ask him.”

“Remind me again, why are you in my home?”

“I am here to supervise the installation.”

“Because you are an expert on telephones.”

“Because I am a trusted member of the faculty.”

“If you always do as your told, I can see why.”

“A gentleman is loyal to his causes.”

“A servant does as he is told without question or thought.”

“In another time and place we could have been friends, even now we could be.”

“Perhaps but I live in this time and place and I choose my friends with greater care. If you seek to gain my trust, you will fail. If you seek to gain my forgiveness you should as for it.”

“I seek nothing from you and as I recall it is you who owes me and my wife an apology. Or is it common courtesy in your experience to assault a man in his home?”

“It may not be courteous to the man but it was courteous to others.”

“You still have no idea what happened.”

“I have plenty of ideas I am only lacking in facts. If I had them I would have turned them over to our good sheriff.”

“I am not what you believe.”

“I have no reason to believe you and every reason to suspect you. In the future you will remember that while this house belongs to the college it is my residence as long as I am here. If you have business in my home I expect to be notified and present whenever your duties require you to be here.”

“Of course. It was my wish to avoid unnecessary contact.”

“Yes, that is the way of the coward, but not the way of the gentleman.”

“You have no right--”

“I have every right, this is my home and you are far from welcome as is that thing. I presume you have no further business so I would ask that you leave now.”

“Very well.”

Carrington left. He was boiling with anger but he had not the backbone to voice it. In fact he seems to have no backbone at all. I wonder how he manages to keep the girls in line? Perhaps it is Mrs. Carrington who has all the strength.

“Isn’t it wonderful?” Caroline said a few hours later.

“Of what are you referring?” I asked.

I was trying to enjoy a glass of whiskey in the living room after dinner.

“The telephone of course.” She said.

“What is wonderful about it?”

“Don’t you know what they are used for?”

“Yes, and I find nothing wonderful about being able to talk to people whose presence I have all ready left.”

“We could have spoke when I was staying at my father’s if you had it before. That would have been nice.”

“If I had wanted to speak with you I would not have sent you away.”

“You were not all ways like that.”

“There is an art to writing letters, part of which is the ability to plan out a conversation with care. This is something that infernal device will no doubt do away with.”

“It is not so bad to be spontaneous.”

“In the right time and place, you are correct, but our youth is lacking enough in forethought and such devices at their convenience will only make them more so.”

“If you say so, Charles.”

“I do and as for that thing, you will not use it without my permission and the children shall not use it ever. Understood?”

“Of course, Charles.”

“Now leave me in peace, my dear. I have only a few more days to do so before the campus is packed with students.”

She smiled at me and then rose up and walked away. As she did so, she swayed her hips just slightly more than was necessary for walking. Clearly she wanted my attention and she had it. I imagined her full bottom, bared and over my knee. My hand alternated from caressing to smacking. The soft flesh turned pink, then red under my attentions and her gentle cries were a mix between discomfort and pleasure.

I took another sip and thought of following her upstairs.

Not So Lonely

August 19, 1896
Margaret Spooner

He found me on the platform as promised. I never saw him coming, although I might have and simply not recognized him. He was dressed in a fashionable gray traveling suit. It was a departure from his normally more relaxed attire. He always wore suits, just rarely were they fashionable and ever rarer still did they appear to fit him. Not that his clothing was too big or too small, he is just not the type to keep his suit neat. He has a tendency to have his tie crooked and his shirt only half tucked, not to mention his jacket unbuttoned and appearing nearly crooked with one end dipping lower than the other.

Not today though. Today he looked like a gentleman and by the look in his eye, he knew it.

“Edgar, you look rather dashing.” I said.

“You are beautiful as always.” He replied.

“Thank you.” I blushed.

I knew it was not true but it was nice to hear him say it regardless.

“Shall we?” He gestured toward the waiting train.

“Lead the way.” I replied, taking his arm.

I was happy to be returning to school, but also sad to be leaving home once again. Being torn between the two emotions, I sat in silent thought as the train lurched slowly out of the station. Edgar seemed preoccupied with his own thoughts as well.

Half the day passed and neither of us had said much beyond our initial greetings. I stared out the window at the passing scenery. I had expected this trip to be something more than the typical ride back to school. I had hoped for warm conversation from the man sitting across from me, the man I was coming to love.

I watched a lone woman trudge along the side of the tracks with a heavy basket in each hand. I wondered if she was lonely or if the hard work was a companion of its own. It occurred to me then that loneliness is a choice. The only thing keeping me lonely was myself and so I spoke.

“You promised you had stories to share.” I said at last.

The sound of my voice startled him. He smiled at me after a moment though.

“Indeed I do. You know your father and I have been keeping in contact since my visit.” He said.

“I have suspected as much.”

“My father is part of a delegation being sent to Spain. As he will be gone for a long time my mother will accompany him.”

“That sounds exciting, but what about you?”

“It is less exciting than you would think. I believe his visit will be wasted but there are those who believe in diplomacy before war. As for myself I will be taking up a place in Providence. There is no point in my traveling home with no one there.”

“Are we near war with Spain?” I asked.

If we were, I had heard nothing of it.

“Have you heard of Cuba?” He asked.

“A small island off the coast of Florida, if I am not mistaken.”

“Yes, the very one. The Spanish have a presence on the island which is not appreciated by the natural inhabitants. They are asking for American assistance. There is much cruelty by Spain on the island but that is not the real question to be answered.”

“Is not appropriate that we stand against cruelty and oppression wherever it strikes?” I asked.

“We have our own problems at home, it seems presumptuous of us to involve ourselves in the suffering of others when we fail to ease our own.”

“Perhaps in helping others, we will help ourselves.” I said.

“I love your optimism, but I do not share it.”

I smiled and took his hand in my own.

“Something more is bothering you.” I said.

“As I began, your father and I have been in contact. We are in agreement that Carrington Manor might not be the best or safest place for you.”

“I don’t understand. What is happening at Carrington Manor?”

“More than you know. There are undercurrents of political unrest. It is likely the unrest will manifest itself with the students in residence being unwilling pawns in a much larger game.”

“I still fail to understand your fears. The Carrington’s have always been careful to remain a support to the school not an opposition to it.”

“Yes, but they are not the threat.”

“Who is?”

“I cannot say.”

“Or will not. I see no option though, I have no place else to stay and it would not be safe for me to reside in Providence alone."

“I agree. Your father and I have a solution but it would require an agreement on your part.”

“And that is?”

“You could come to stay with me.”

“I would not mind but it seems unlikely my father would approve of such an arrangement.”

“That is where the agreement comes in.”

Suddenly Edgar moved from his seat and dropped to one knee before me. He turned my hand upward from his own and reached inside his jacket to produce a small box.

“Will you marry me, Margaret?” He asked.

His eyes burned into me. Tears stung at my eyes. Silence dropped between us, my heart leapt into my throat and left me without voice. I stared wide eyed at him, wondering if I was dreaming and would soon be awakened by the shrill of the train whistle.

What should I say? What could I say?

Helping Hands

August 18, 1896
Sarah Waters

It was 10 AM when the train pulled in to Providence’s Union Station. I was amazingly asleep at the time. The porter woke me when I was all that remained to exit the train.

“I believe this is your stop.” He said.

“How did you know?” I asked.

I was trying to stifle a yawn and blink away the last remnants of sleep without appearing rude. It was a difficult task.

“This is everyone’s stop who was still on the train. Providence is the end of the line.” He explained.

“That actually makes sense.” I said.

He laughed.

“Thank you for waking me.” I said.

“I would have let you sleep longer, we aren’t going anywhere soon but the way your head was slumped you were bound to wake with a stiff neck if you haven’t anyway.”

I rubbed the back of my neck, feeling what he meant.

“I guess I should be off then.” I said.

“You don’t seem to enthused to have arrived.”

“I am excited to be here. I am about a week early though and I am not sure where to go until then.” I said.

“Oh, you are here for the college?”

“Yes, the dormitory does not open until next Monday.”

“How come you are here now then? If you don’t mind me asking that is.”

“It is a long story, but the end is I have no place else to be.”

“I see. Well I have a small apartment here in the city. I am actually here for the next couple of days before heading out again. I have a spare bedroom if you need a place to stay.”

“I don’t mean to impose. I am sure I can arrange something.”

“Whatever suits you. I wouldn’t offer if I didn’t mean it though. You look like you could use a friend.”

“Is it that obvious?” I smiled.

“Yeah, it is. I’ve seen plenty of the girls come and go to this college, you aren’t the typical fare.”


“Forgive me for saying but even a poor working boy like me can tell you don’t come from money.”

“So, most of the girls that come here do?”

“More like all of them.”


“Yeah. How did you end up here?”

“Woman’s Suffrage Scholarship.” I said.

“You mean somebody is paying for you to suffer?” He asked.

The look on the young man’s face was a priceless combination of confusion and disbelief. I choked on my laughter as it had been far to long since I had anything to drink.

“What’s so funny?”

“I never heard anyone put it quite like that before, but I guess it does have a slight ring of truth to it.”

“I tell you, this world is becoming stranger everyday.”

“That is truth.” I said. “I accept your gracious offer as I truly have no place to go. Do you know of any work available in the city? I could use some money.” I said.

“There are a few things around but most won’t be much interested in you.”

“Why is that?”

“College girls aren’t allowed to work while school is in session.” He said.

“I’m hoping to have that rule bent for me.”

“Good luck with that. In the meantime you might check out the laundry house, they hire for a day or two at time depending on how busy they are.”

“That sounds good for a start.” I said.

“I have to sweep out the cars, but if you wait for me inside the station I’ll be done in about an hour and then we’ll get you settled in.” He said.

“I could help.” I offered.

He looked at me for a moment of indecision.

“I am quite capable with a broom.” I said.

“I just bet you are. Here.” He replied and handed me the broom in his hand.

As I swept my way through the train, I realized I should be cautious with the young man. He has given no indication of being anything but helpful, still it is better to be guarded than caught off guard.

August 11th - 16th, 1896

August 11, 1896 - On An East Bound Train

  • Sarah ponders her uncertain future as she speeds toward it on a train

August 12, 1896 - The Dog Ate My Mailman

  • Margaret receives a curious letter from Edgar

August 13, 1896 - Road Less Traveled

  • Penelope and Wilbur have car troubles and more on the way to Primrose

August 14, 1896 - One Last Ride

  • Elizabeth suffers a bit of melancholy on the last day of her newspaper delivery job

August 15, 1896 - Acts Of Love

  • Charles manages to convince Dean Steadward to admit his wife into Primrose
  • Has Caroline discovered his affair with Edith?

August 16, 1896 - Dividing Lines

  • Edith and the Carrington's come to an agreement on how to best separate supervising duties in the dormitory

August 4th - 8th, 1896

August 4, 1896 - Packing For Tomorrow

  • Penelope and her brother Wilbur prepare to take their automobile all the way to Primrose College with a few sight seeing stops along the way

August 5, 1896 - A Sheet Too Many

  • Edith makes too many mistakes helping Charles prepare music sheets

August 6, 1896 - Chasms

  • Sarah and her brother do not see eye to eye in regards to dealing with Mr. Parker, the mine owner whom their father had worked for
  • Sarah decides it is time for her to strike out on her own and heads to Primrose College despite being a week too early

August 7, 1896 - Just Like Magic

  • Elizabeth's brother, David, takes her to see a moving picture, Rip Van Winkle.

August 8, 1896 - My Purr-fect Wife

  • Charles learns his wife wants to attend to Primrose College herself
  • No doubt Edith had something to do with it, but Charles is not sure he likes the idea

Dividing Lines

August 16, 1896
Edith Bowen

“If you have time this evening, there are matters we should discuss.” Mrs. Carrington said.

We were in the kitchen, preparing dinner.

“Certainly. I had only planned on reading a little before retiring, but it is nothing of consequence.”

That was the extent of our talking in the kitchen beyond the occasional necessities for assistance. It was clear to me that our former relationship was gone forever and building a new one will be a long and arduous road.

At the conclusion of the meal, we cleared the table and scrubbed the dishes clean. The silence was deafening as they say. I do not understand why whatever matters we had to discuss could not be discussed while we toiled mindlessly in the kitchen, but it is simply another of our difference coming to light.

When at last we settled in her den, we were joined by Mr. Carrington. I had not expected him but clearly Mrs. Carrington had.

“As you know we have only a week before the students arrive.” Mr. Carrington began.

“Yes.” I replied.

“I thought it would be a good idea if we decided just how we will divide the duties during the first weeks. After, I expect there will be some divergence, but initially it will be important for us to concentrate our efforts and avoid duplication.” Mrs. Carrington said.

“This makes sense to me, although I am hesitant to agree that there should be divergence over time. Surely, it makes more sense to have defined roles?” I said.

“There can come situations which we do not have the foresight to define.” Mr. Carrington said.
“Of this I am certain. I still believe defined roles will minimize the difficulties experienced when the unexpected does occur.”

“Perhaps you should explain yourself?” Mrs. Carrington said.

“If we define our roles along matters of which we have certainty and are certain to not change, we will have defined roles with ability and flexibility to deal with whatever comes our way.” I said.

“What do you have in mind?” Mr. Carrington asked.

“I was thinking it would be best to divide our responsibilities not by the duties to the girls in general but in regards to their standing at Primrose College. For example, one of us could be charged with the new girls and the other with the returning girls. If that split is insufficient it could one with first and second years and the one with third and beyond.” I said.

“Logical.” Mr. Carrington said.

“That will not work at all. The problem is not too many girls, it is too many duties to handle with each girl.” Mrs. Carrington replied.

“Would not those duties seem more manageable with a smaller group of girls? Have you not handled all these duties in the past and only in the last year felt overwhelmed?” Mr. Carrington asked.

“Well yes, but the duties have grown as have the number of girls in attendance.” Mrs. Carrington replied.

“Edith’s thoughts make sense on this matter. With less girls to deal with the duties become more manageable and indeed such splitting does make it simpler to attach responsibilities to each of you without fear of duplication or confusion.” Mr. Carrington said.

Mrs. Carrington looked annoyed but she only nodded her head in surrender.

“So then all that is left is to determine where to draw the line and decide who will be responsible for each group.” Mr. Carrington said.

“According the records, we have as many new girls coming in as we have in all other years combined.” Mrs. Carrington said.

“Then it would make sense that one of us is to see to the new girls and the other to the rest.” I said.

“Yes.” Mr. Carrington said.

“What role would you prefer?” Mrs. Carrington asked.

“Either is acceptable but given the choice I think I would prefer to work with the new students. They are less likely to object to my role and cause us both problems.” I said.

“Then it is settled.” Mr. Carrington said.

“I will need a comprehensive explanation of the expectations you have for me.” I said.

“I will give you a copy of what the Dean provides for us.” Mrs. Carrington said.

‘Thank you. I do not wish to inadvertently cross over any lines.” I said.

“It is best not to cross them at all.” Mr. Carrington said.

“In regards to our role here, I agree.” I said.

It was clear though, he was not talking about the dormitory and in fact, neither was I.

Acts Of Love

August 15, 1896
Charles Birchwood

I sipped slowly from my glass of single malt, allowing the sweet taste to infiltrate every corner of my mouth. A cigar would have been a nice companion but I did not wish to impose myself further.

“It is an unprecedented request, Charles.” The Dean said.

He leaned back in his chair and stroked his moustache in a thoughtless motion which is often mistaken as thoughtful by so many. I was coming to see it as a nervous tick of the Dean’s and one that seems to indicate a fear of making a decision. I fail to comprehend how a man of so little confidence has risen to his rank within such a reputed educational facility. Politics would no doubt explain much.

“If you prefer, I can have her apply through more traditional channels for next year. I only thought it would be somewhat more convenient for all this way, but if I am wrong…” I said.

“No, no. It is simply a surprise. I have never before had a member of the teaching staff wish to send their wife through the establishment. The only difficulty I see is music is a required course for our young ladies and it would seem a bit of a conflict for you to be instructing your wife.”

I blinked in surprise.

“Surely, you jest. I instruct my wife on a daily basis.” I replied.

“Of course, I meant it would be nearly impossible for you to treat your wife and your other students in equitable manner.”

“Indeed, I have little intention of bedding most of my students, however I do not think within the classroom there is any cause for concern.”

“Naturally. Do you not fill it would cause strife in your home were you to grade your wife negatively?”

“If my wife deserves a negative grade it will indeed cause strife in our home as well as in the classroom. I expect it to be much the same for my other students only their home will not be my home.”

“Quite true. I suppose if you feel equal to the task, I have no objection. I will of course be sensitive to student views of favoritism toward your wife.”

“I would expect nothing less. My wife will find my classroom no different than any other.”

“Then see to it she completes the appropriate registration forms and enrolls in appropriate first year classes.”

He handed me a set of papers from his desk.

“Thank you.” I said.

Realizing our meeting had come to an end much quicker than I expected, I downed the remainder of my single malt in a single gulp. It burned in my throat as I stood and exited the room.

Caroline’s reaction was worth noting.

“You do love me!” She shouted.

“When have I ever given your reason to doubt?” I asked.

She looked at me as though she thought I was joking. Perhaps I have failed to convey my fondness to her on a daily basis, but what man can be bothered to express trivial emotions so often and for so little reason?

“Thank you, Charles.”

“No need for that. Just be sure this is what you want before we finalize it. Once the papers are signed, there is no backing out for you.”

“I know. This means more to me than you will ever understand.”

“My understanding is not as limited as you believe.”

“Nor is mine, Charles. I may be slow to catch on but I always do in time.”

Her face had turned serious for a moment and her eyes glanced at a shirt laying on the chair in the corner of the room. I looked at it for a moment before realizing was the same one Edith had torn buttons from. It was mended.

One Last Ride

August 14, 1896
Elizabeth Bassett

The sun rose at the usual time and I was all ready awake. It was my last day delivering newspapers and you may be surprised to know, the thought leaves me saddened. The few weeks I have been at the job are insignificant in so many ways, but I have truly enjoyed the work. The only downside has been the constant care to ensure nobody suspects I am not a boy. The last day is upon me, so I believe it is safe to say in that regard I have succeeded.

I dressed in my uniform carefully, taking care to give no doubt to my gender on this last day. I paused looking in the mirror at my boyishly short hair and realized I hardly needed to worry about the hat. Most of the boys only wore their hats in the newspaper office. I was teased more than once for wearing mine all the time, but I did notice the Boss liked that about me. Father says it is a sign of professionalism.

It is odd to think my father sees me as a professional of sorts. He is not what you would typically think of in regards to a man supporting women’s equality. Of course he does not see it as equality, he simply thinks I am an exceptional woman. Mother might disagree on the terminology, but in essence, on this they agree. I am not suited to the role of my mother and that leaves few choices for me in the world. The Rockefeller’s have given me hope thought and perhaps I can make my own place.

As soon as I walked outside I knew it would be a hot day. The sky was crisp blue and not even lofty wisps of clouds dared to clutter it. Steam rose up from the street as I sat out on my bicycle for my last ride of the summer. I could not help but take in every sight and sound of the city. I will miss it too soon enough. The corner bakery was just opening as I dropped their paper on the sidewalk. Mr. Cooper smiled and waved to me.

Only too soon did I find my route finished and I was standing on the front steps of the newspaper office. Time to collect my final pay and say my goodbyes and thanks. I left feeling that I would be genuinely missed and I was beaming with pride the whole way home as a result of the Boss slipping me an extra five dollar bill to help with school expenses. I promised to come back next summer if he would have me.

It is funny how things change and how quickly they do. Only a few weeks ago I was concerned, nearly convince, I would not be going back to Primrose College. Now, I not only know I am going back this year, I know I am going back next year and the year after. I can think about the future with certainty, I can make plans and not be worried that I will not be able to keep my promises.

I arrived home shortly before noon and quickly changed into more feminine apparel. Sylvia laughed at me. She fails to see why I bother with my hair as it is and although I will not readily admit it to her, I can see her point well enough. She has been kind enough to help as well, by making me some hats to wear at school so it will not be noticeable. Mother had suggested buying me a couple but father had insisted that if I needed a hat bad enough I could purchase it myself with my summer money. What he is really saying is he thinks I have a lesson to learn in all of this and if I get teased a little it will do me more good than harm.

I appreciate the effort Sylvia went to and I will make use of the hats, they are considerably better than I could have made and probably nicer than anything I could have afforded to purchase. However, had she not done me the favor, I would not have wasted money on a single hat. It is not that I agree with my father’s point of view, I just do not fear the criticism of my peers. If they dare have any comment about my hair I am certain I can think of a few responses to make them feel as shamed as they would be attempting to make me.

The approval of others is nice, but it does not rule my days. If it did I would never have wanted to go back to Primrose College at all. My father still has his concerns about my attendance but he keeps them mostly to himself. I can sympathize with his thoughts.

“Mind yourself while you are at school this year.” Father said over dinner.

“Of course.” I replied.

“Not of course young lady, pay attention. You got yourself involved with the wrong sorts of people last year. You ended up smack in the middle of school politics and that is not going to happen again, because if it does, I will haul you away from that school and you won’t ever be going back. Am I clear?”

“Yes, sir. I have not intention of involving myself further in the inner workings of the school. I have more important goals in my education and not the time or patience to deal with politics.”

“See that you remember that.”

“I will.”

“You better.”

“I will.”

He glared at me and for a moment I glared back. I realized I was pushing my luck but it was far from the first time we had the conversation. We agree, albeit for entirely different reason, but the important part is we are in agreement. Father sometimes does not see it that way. With my mother he could easily get her to go along with whatever his thinking or logic is on an issue. Not so with me. I develop my own logic and once I have, I am not easily swayed from my opinion.

Mother says it is because I am stubborn, I like to think it is because I am right.