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.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Ashley, can't wait for term to start.
Warm hugs,