Controlling or Controlled?

September 30, 1896
Elizabeth Bassett

It was dark out when I returned to the laundry house. I was walking in the shadows across the street when I saw her exit. He must have been in the shadows as well because I never saw him until he stepped out into the streetlight in front of her. I did not recognize him at first but his voice was unmistakable, Jonathon.

“You should not be here.” He said to her.

“I’ll be where I like and its no business of yours.” Sarah replied.

She would have walked right past him but her grabbed her arm.

“I am not your enemy but it is dangerous in these parts. I will walk you back.” He said.

She shoved his hand off her.

“I’m not afraid of empty streets and dark corners. I am not in need of your misplaced chivalry.” She said.

“Are you always this stubborn and rude or is it me that brings it out in you?” He asked.

“Take your pick, I don’t care what you think. Now, if you are quite through with your brutish display, I am running late.”

He looked exasperated.

“At least go along the back if you will not allow me to escort you. There are me coming this way, dangerous men.”

“How do I know you are not one of them?”

“I never said I wasn’t.”

His coat fluttered open for a moment whether it was deliberate or not I could not see.

“It takes more than that to frighten me.”

“Then you are a fool, Sarah.”

“I’ve been accused of worse. Who are you?”

“Maybe a friend, if you’ll let me.”

“That’s not an answer. My father told me any man afraid to give his name is either without honor or afraid of losing it.”

“Wise man.”

“Yes, he was.”

“You should go now, they’ll be here soon.”

“Since you won’t tell me who you are, you can at least tell me who they are.”

“No, I can’t. You need to leave now.”

“What if I decide to stay?”

“I can’t protect you.”

“I didn’t ask for your protection.”

“Doesn’t alter the circumstances or the fact you’ll need it.”

“You think much of yourself no name.”

“I’m only thinking of you.”

“Lucky for you, I am late for dinner and not particularly interested in your clandestine meetings.”

“Lucky for us both I think.”

“Goodnight stranger.”

“Be careful and stick to the back road.”

Sarah nodded at him and then turned her back to him and walked away into the darkness. I waited, quietly in the shadows afraid if I moved I would call attention to myself. I hoped he would move on soon but he stood still and puffed on a cigarette. I began to consider approaching him and asking what was going on but then I heard horses.

There were a half dozen of them. The man on the lead came into the light and I recognized him. He had came to Carrington Manor only a few weeks ago.

“Evening, Mr. Goulding.” He said.

“Your late, Billy.” Jonathon replied.

Jonathon climbed up on his own horse that I hadn’t seen before. He flicked his cigarette onto the ground.

“Was it her?” Billy asked.

“Yes, it was her.” Jonathon replied.

They rode off out of my sight and hearing. I stood still and silent trying to understand what was going on but the more I tried to understand the less it made sense. Jonathon could not be mixed up with those thugs, could he?

What We Cannot Control

September 29, 1896
Sarah Waters

If all things happen for the best, then why do bad things happen at all? I do not really expect to find an answer but I think the question has merit. This year seems wrought with bad things and if it is indeed all for the best, the best is yet to come.

I would have preferred to remain aloof with my roommates. It was somehow easier to feel isolated and alone than to struggle to uphold the appearance of civility. I have no illusions about friendship or commonality with them although I suspect they think I do. I am not the fool though I play the part well enough when it is required.

Miss Bowen has taken too much interest in my activities of late, especially since she discovered my investigation into the death of Gloria Hill. To be honest, her interest in the matter surprised me. I assumed she was either involved or inclined to look the other way, but our conversation did not fit within that narrow view. She may well be twice the fool I sometimes pretend to be.

For the moment it seems it is of no further importance. My theories regarding Gloria’s death remain just that. Whatever evidence might exist to bring truth into the light is either well hidden or no longer in existence. I shared what I did find with my roommates and with Miss Bowen, mostly with the hope that it might help illuminate additional information, but I am left with only darker shadows obscuring the direction of light. Or so I believed.

After classes, I slipped off campus into Providence. Wish as I might that it was for a frolicking trip down Main Street, it was instead to the poorer side of town. You can tell the value of the block by the smell of rotting manure in the street. The sidewalks are dustier and the businesses are marked with carved wooden signs, creaking in the breeze, instead of etched and painted glass. No respectable lady would be found in the area and that made it the perfect place to find work.

It was made clear in the rules of Carrington Manor that no young lady in their care was allowed to seek employment of any kind. If I said I was the kind of lady to care about rules, the laughter would be deafening. That said, it has been obvious to me since my arrival, I am not well liked by those who are charged with my care. In the interest of self-preservation I have done my best to walk on the right side of the rules. I freely admit I have broken several but I do not do so lightly and so far only in situations where I was well in control and capable of deflecting any possible repercussions. Working is different.

The only control I can maintain over breaking this rule is to avoid being caught. It is, despite the risks, a necessity. I have a little money left from my first week in Providence, but it will not get me through the holiday breaks nor will prove sufficient should I need any replacement supplies. Working whenever possible now, means having money for later when I will undoubtedly need it. Considering the alternative of begging, the risk seems well worth it. Of course risk can be minimized and seeking out work in the shadow of the city goes a long way toward insuring avoidance of anyone who could compromise my illicit activity. But minimizing is not the same as eliminating.

Chen’s Laundry House sits on the deep corner of the block, near the harbor. The street parallel to the harbor runs to a dead end with a stable on the harbor side. Even at noon the street seems dark and in late afternoon it almost feels like night. I managed to get Mr. Chen to hire me for day labor on a day by day basis. Usually doing washing or ironing, but also mending or just menial chores. The pay is horrible and it will take me weeks to earn enough to buy a new dress, but I have few choices and Mr. Chen knows it.

I was more than a little surprised to walk through the door this afternoon and find myself face to face with a fellow Primrose girl. I almost did not recognize her at first. Her clothes were more common than usual and her short blonde hair was covered with a boys cap. She actually looked more like a boy than a young lady. Still the face was familiar enough and the shock of recognition was as clear on hers as it must have been on mine.

From our previous encounters, which are few, I would have assumed she was a lady of privilege. I must remind myself, appearances are often deceptive. On the spot, I could not recall her name, perhaps I did not know it, but she knew mine. Should that fact concern me?

“Miss Waters, what are you doing here?” She asked.

I looked at the ground and bit my lip for a moment considering what response would be best. Mr. Chen saved me from it.

“Laura, you late, late. Much work in the back. Quick, quick.” He said to me pointing to the back of the shop.

I nodded my head at him.

“Yes, sir. Sorry, sir.” I said.

I pushed by the young lady. Her look of recognition was replaced by one of confusion and I hoped she would remain that way. As I walked by her I noticed she had cart full of packages next to her. The obvious connection was that she, like me, worked for Mr. Chen and she was off to deliver the cleaned garments to their owners. Maybe it was foolish of me to think I was the only poor girl at Primrose College.

She left as I went into the back. The adrenaline from our meeting left me shaking and worried as I began scrubbing shirts. I broke two fingernails and scratched the side of my hand before I decided I needed to focus on the immediate tasks at hand rather than worry about the future. Still, one thought remained in my head; will she tell?

The Days Of Gloria, Part 7

September 23, 1896
Margaret Spooner

The Paper

When Dreams Die

We are all saddened by the recent death of Gloria Hill. It is always tragic when one so young with so much potential is taken from us, but we must recall, God has a plan for us all. In the aftermath of loss the plan can seem incoherent and even cruel but with time and perspective, we learn all things happen for good reason.

There have been changes at Primrose College. There has been an insinuation that the girls of Primrose are academically equal to the men of Brown. This remains a blatant fallacy, but the insinuation is ever present in the form of our peers attending classes beside these girls. However, the insinuation is only superficial as any probing quickly reveals.

The young men are held to higher standards with even a minor infraction of the school rules resulting in permanent and uncontestable expulsion. The Primrose girls face mild to moderate spankings for similar misbehavior and yet we are to believe this is equality? It is hardly so, but the pain goes deeper.

Primrose Girls are now burdened with the shame of not only their fellow girls but the men of Brown as well. Who among us wishes to be present for the necessary chastisement of a girl? If she were to be your betrothed would you not rage at the thought of your peers seeing that which should remain for the privacy of your eyes? Is that not the right of every man? So it seems the charms of our girls are no longer sacred.

This of course is no more true than calling night, day. Gloria Hill is the proof if you need it. This unfortunate girl was stripped of her sacredness and bared for those to see whom should never have seen. It was horror and shame beyond that which any girl can or should be expected to endure. Gloria Hill was a good girl, a loving daughter, an eager student. She behaved, as girls often do, without thought and slaved to her emotions. It was Mr. Bard’s responsibility to correct her and so he did.

It was not that he wanted to take anything away from her. His intentions were for her betterment. As appropriate and necessary, he disciplined her. The shame brought to Gloria Hill from this was not commiserate with the lesson to be taught though. The male audience was a result of politics and policies placed on Mr. Bard from the school board. Gloria Hill was a victim of politics gone amok. When our directors are more concerned with making political statements than they are about the welfare of the students in their care, tragedy is unavoidable.

Gloria Hill paid the price. Gloria Hill could not live with the shame of failing to do her homework. She behaved as all girls do from time to time but she paid a much higher price in shame. The shame drove her to commit the ultimate sin, but it God’s plan at work. His message could not be clearer. Girls are not men and to treat them as such will destroy them and us.

Let politics interfere no more with common sense. It is time to end the great social experiment at Primrose College and bring sanity back to the campuses of Brown and Primrose. We are not equal, we shall never be equal. Gloria Hill has given her life to teach us this lesson. Let us learn and let us honor her memory for teaching us truth that hurts.

I read it twice and still did not believe it.

Only words on a page but when we are gone, all that remains of us can be those mere words. What does it say of us that remain when we are careless with our words in respect to the departed? Do we not care or is political posturing more important than decency? I would ask these questions of Edgar, but I dare not for fear of the inevitable repercussions.

The Days Of Gloria, Part 6

September 22, 1896
Penelope Sumter

Wilbur stopped by on Sunday. He usually comes by at least once a week but I suspect his dedication is more related to Lizzie, than me. This time though, he wanted nothing to do with her.

“Penny, how about an afternoon drive?” He asked.

“I’ve got too much school work.” I complained.

“I’ll go.” Lizzie volunteered.

“Some other time, Lizzie. I need to discuss something private with my little sister.” He said.
“Oh.” Lizzie said.
“Can’t it wait?” I asked.
“No.” He said.
Lizzie pouted. I groaned as I pushed myself up from the comfortable reading position of laying on my bed. Wilbur looked far to serious for a Sunday. He offered me his arm and I dutifully took it. We left without a further word to anyone, although there were plenty of stares.
Wilbur drove to his apartment without a word. I kept expecting him to tell me what was so important but I did not want to encourage him too much so I kept quiet. I think it was what he preferred.
Inside his apartment we settled down at a small table off the kitchen. Wilbur had a stack of papers bound together in front of him. Slowly he began unwinding the twine and avoiding my questioning eyes.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“How much do you know about your roommate?” He asked.
“You mean Lizzie?”
“Enough I think. She’s the daughter of some big New York exporter but the business has gone south and they are running out of money. She’s more interested in school than men except for one man and she’s all for equality of sexes. I know that’s a problem for father but she’s my roommate, I can’t ignore her.”
“Did you know her family couldn’t afford to send her back to Primrose this year?”
“No, but that really isn’t surprising.”
“How do you think she got the money to come?”
“I would think she either borrowed it or found a benefactor.”
“She met with the Rockefeller’s. They have paid her tuition and boarding in advance for the next three years.”
“Impressive. Why are you telling me?”
“The Rockefeller’s never do anything without a reason. Lizzie is in their debt. That comes with a price and in this case it could be a dangerous one.”
“What do you mean?”
“I haven’t put all the pieces together yet, but it makes sense the Rockefeller’s would oppose the commingling of the sexes at Primrose.”
“Why would they even care?”
“They are funding a competing establishment in the south that is not yet ready for that step. They will of course want to be first.”
“What does all this have to do with Lizzie or me for that matter?”
“Did you notice Lizzie’s reaction when I drove you up the shore to that tree?”
“Not really. By the way that was a little morbid don’t you think?”
“I’m sorry to have distressed you but I had to know and Lizzie near panicked when she realized where we were.”
“If I had known about Gloria, I would have too.”
“Exactly the point, neither of you knew or at least you shouldn’t have. Lizzie did though, she had been there before and she knew.”
“Wait! There is no way Lizzie would have done anything to Gloria. That’s impossible, it’s not in her character.”
“That may be true, but she still knew and that means Gloria was murdered. It also means Lizzie knows by whom.”
I seriously wanted to slap him for suggesting such a thing. The only problem was he was making too much sense and I have heard the younger girls talking about it being a murder as well. For a change the rumors might actually be true.
“Why are you telling me?”
“Because you need to be careful around her. Lizzie can’t be trusted.”
“She won’t do anything to me.”
“She probably didn’t do anything to Gloria but that doesn’t make her any less dead.”

The Days Of Gloria, Part 5

September 20, 1896
Edith Bowen

Sarah Waters entered my room with me right behind her. I slammed the door closed as I entered and stood nose to nose with her. She did not blink but neither did I. Anger has a way of giving strength and courage when nothing else will do.

“Why are you poking your nose into Miss Hill’s affairs?” I demanded.

“Why do you care if I do?” She replied.

“I am the one asking questions, Miss Waters. You can either start talking or I will start paddling.” I said.

“Don’t threaten me. I don’t take kindly to it.” She said.

“I’m not making threats.” I said.

I shoved her back by her shoulders and pulled open the drawer of my desk. I reached in and removed the paddle, Mr. Carrington had given me. I waved it at a stunned Sarah and then slammed it down on the desktop with enough force that it made a loud pop. Sarah jumped and no doubt anyone in the hall would assume she was being paddled.

Sarah straightened back up and closed the distance between us again. Her expression hardened and doubt flickered through my mind. I might win a physical battle with her, even that was not certain, but she was stubborn enough I would likely never find out what I needed to know. Perhaps a different tack would have been better.

“You are a student here, Miss Waters. Such position does not give your free reign of the house nor permission to search rooms or invade the privacy of the other girls at this institution. You have a choice and you are going to have to make it right now. Either you explain yourself and your actions or you pack your bags and leave here.” I said.

“What are you afraid I might find?” Sarah asked.

“Pack your bags.” I said.

I turned my back on her and walk to my door. I pulled it open and turned to usher her out. I thought I saw the briefest flicker of fear across her face. Perhaps it was wishful thinking or maybe Sarah Waters is a real woman underneath the veneer.

“You don’t have the authority to expel me from Primrose College.” Sarah said haughtily.
I smiled.

“You are correct, but I do have the authority to expel you from Carrington Manor.” I replied.

She regarded me coolly for a moment before replying. If the prospect of being thrown to the street frightened her she made an excellent performance in hiding it.

“I’ll take my boarding money then and be happy to go.” Sarah said and held out her hand as though she expected me to slap the money in her palm.

“That money is forfeit on account of your behavior and if any refund were to be arranged it would be with those who paid it and not you.” I said.

“I’m certain they will have their own questions about Miss Hill’s supposed suicide.” Sarah said.
I slammed my door closed again. Frustration with this rude, obstinate girl building to the point I wanted wrap my fingers around her neck.

“Why? Talk to me, Miss Waters, if there is something you know about Miss Hill’s death you have no right to keep it to your self. Do you think you are the only one who cares about the truth?” I said, stepping closer to her with every syllable.

“I don’t trust you.” Sarah said.

“That makes us even. Tell me what you know.” I said.

“I know Mr. Parker is a business man who makes his money off the suffering of others. I know his companion Mr. Howe likes to kidnap, torture, and rape the wives and daughters of men who dare to stand opposed to Mr. Parker. I know Mr. Parker orders the death of men with less thought than he puts into ordering a pair shoes. I know you know him and I know he is not to be trusted. Not ever.” Sarah said.

I gasped involuntarily as realization hit me. Things were beginning to make sense although the picture remained murky in spots there was no doubt in my mind Sarah had been hurt by those men. Probably hurt in such unimaginable and unforgivable ways as to make living harder than dying and yet here she stood in my room, full of fire. She hated me, not because of me but because I dared to know the man responsible for her pain.

“I didn’t know.” I said.

“No one knows them like I do.” She replied.

“You think they had something to do with Gloria?” I asked, my brain suddenly making the connection and wondering what had taken me so long to put it together.

“Trouble always follows Mr. Parker. He doesn’t pull triggers, just the strings that make other men pull them.” Sarah said.

“Can you prove anything?”

“Only that Gloria lied about not doing her homework.”

“What is the significance?”

“I was in the classroom when she was spanked. I saw her face. She wasn’t traumatized, she was excited. If she killed herself it had nothing to do with what happened in Mr. Bard’s classroom. She wanted that experience and she sought it out.”

“Why would she do that?”

“If you can’t fathom her reasons, I can’t explain them to you other than to say not every woman is ashamed of her sexuality.” Sarah said.

I blushed at the mere word and the thoughts it evoked. Sarah nodded.

“The sheriff needs to know.” I said.

“The sheriff is most likely on Mr. Parker’s payroll. He should not be informed of anything until there is more substantial evidence.”

“You are going to keep looking whether I approve or not.”

She nodded again.

“I want to help.” I said.

The Days Of Gloria, Part 4

September 18, 1896
Anna Cushing

"I knew her. Not well, but my parents are associated with hers." I said.

Victoria gave my arm a supportive squeeze from beside me. Emma gave a smile from across the room and Sarah was reading in bed again, ignoring all of us like she has done ever since I gave her the lamp. At least she has not told a soul it came from me.

"I cannot understand why a lady of privilege like Gloria would do such a horrible thing. It makes no sense." I continued.

I shook my head and stared down at the floor between my feet. A single tear dropped from the corner of my eye and ran down my cheek. My roommates, Emma and Victoria, were in full sympathy mode. Sarah was oblivious as always but controlling her was just as simple if not as direct.

"If I had been through the humiliation she went through in Mr. Bard's class I think I would have wanted to die as well. He was just awful to her. How can they continue to allow him to teach after what he did?" Emma volunteered.

Emma is a tall girl. She comes from wealth but her fashion sense is dated and her shoulder length brown hair has a habit of hanging in front of her face like it was as she spoke. She fancies herself as an activist, but I think she only says it because she believes it is a popular sentiment among ladies our age.

"I would have ran from the classroom if it had been me." Victoria offered.

Victoria is very tall and very thin. Her feet actually hang off the edge of the bed when she sleeps. She is the least friendly of our group but she has started to warm to me especially since news of Gloria Hill spread. She has very long, straight, black hair which she often brushes for hours in the evening much to my annoyance. Her deep blue eyes are penetrating and cold. She often stares unblinking and sometimes she can be looking right at you but it is like you are not even there.

"It is all just horrible. And you are right, Emma, that shameful excuse for a history teacher should have been dismissed immediately. I think I will call my dad and tell him to have him fired." I said.

"Mr. Bard did nothing wrong." Sarah said, startling the rest of us.

"You are not actually going to defend the bastard?" Victoria asked.

"No, I don't need to. Gloria Hill didn't kill herself." Sarah replied.

"What are you talking about?" I asked.

"Look." Sarah said and then shoved a history text book in front of me.

"I am looking. It is our history book." I said.

"It is Gloria's history book." Sarah said.

"How did you get it?" I asked.

"It was in her room, under her bed."

"What were you doing looking under her bed?" Emma asked.

"That is unimportant." Sarah said.

"So it is her history book, so what?" I said.

"Look at the first four chapters." Sarah said.

I thumbed through them quickly not seeing anything of interest.

"Okay? What am I looking for?"

"The pages are filled with notes, underlines and circles." Sarah said.

"So, I do the same with mine."

"Gloria told Mr. Bard she hadn't read them."

"So she lied or she read them before she decided to..."

"She lied." Sarah said.

"Assuming you are correct, how do you get from there to she did not kill herself?" I asked.

"It is unlikely she would have read the chapters and taken such detailed notes if she intended to kill herself within a few hours. The fact that she lied to Mr. Bard discredits the assumption she killed herself because of the humiliation." Sarah said.

"It does no such thing." Victoria said.

"Gloria Hill deliberately created a situation where Mr. Bard had no choice but to discipline her in front of the class. I believe she wanted him to." Sarah said.

"That's ridiculous. No one in their right mind would do that." I said.

"The evidence is clear she had done the reading and even the homework. Look." Sarah pushed several folded pieces of paper in front me.

I unfolded the sheets and realized each one was a completed homework assignment she had failed to hand in. The most interesting part though was the dates on them. According to the dates written by Gloria's own hand, the assignments had been completed on the days they were assigned.

"Why would she do that?" I asked.

"I think she was curious." Sarah said.

"Curious about how painful and humiliating a spanking would be at school? I dare say if such was the case she found more than she expected or could bare." Emma said.

"I cannot know her thoughts or what she hoped to experience but I am quite certain from this evidence she deliberately created the circumstances of her punishment. I cannot believe she would kill herself after the event simply because it was worse or more than she expected." Sarah said.

"This does not prove she did not kill herself it only casts doubt." I said.

"If we were the authorities looking into her death I would agree with you, but we are not. This evidence was not even searched for by those who should have had an interest in finding the truth." Sarah said.

"You consider the evidence more conclusive simply because you found it?" I asked.

"In a sense, that is correct. What disturbs me is that no one else even looked. She could have had a diary or left a note somewhere in that room, but nobody looked. The investigation or lack of investigation raises my suspicions." Sarah said.

"If she did not kill herself, then who did?" Victoria asked.

It was the question on the tip of my tongue but the last thing I really wanted to ask. That was because I knew the answer all too well.

"Someone else." Sarah said.

"Your talking about murder." I said.

Knock. Knock. The door flew open to reveal Miss Bowen looking rather upset.

"Miss Waters, a word with you in private please." She said in the doorway.

"Just a moment." Sarah said.

"No, now." Miss Bowen commanded.

Sarah stared at her for a moment and then apparently decided the fight was not worth it. She stood and followed Miss Bowen out and down the hall.

The Days Of Gloria, Part 3

September 17, 1896
Charles Birchwood

Ring. Ring. Ring.

I groaned in bed. Caroline sheepishly opened on eye, saw I was a awake and promptly closed it. I considered making her rise and see who was at the door just for spite.

Ring. Ring. Ring.

I groaned again and pushed the covers off me. I grabbed my discarded robe from the foot of the bed and slipped into before descending the stairs to the front door. I opened the door prepared to bark grumpily at whoever dared to disturb me at such an ungodly hour of the morning.

The sun was not yet up and the cold morning air was filled with a thick fog. I looked around but the doorstep was vacant and the fog prevented me from seeing beyond a few feet away. I decided it must have been pranksters from Brown. The returning boys would no doubt be daring the new ones to all sorts of mischief in these first months of the year. I will have to address the issue with Dean….

Ring. Ring. Ring.

I spun around realizing the noise was coming not from the front door but my living room. I walked back inside, closing the door behind me and moved into living room feeling unnerved as I could not fathom what was making the awful noise. Then I saw the telephone on the wall and remembered. I walked to it feeling the fool.

I lifted the earpiece and listened. It was silent. I wondered if there was something more I needed to do when I finally heard the whisper of a voice.

“Hello?” It said.

I stepped closer to the box on the wall.

“Who is this?” I shouted.

There was silence for a moment again.

“This is Dean Steadward. I am sorry to disturb you so early in the morning, Mr. Birchwood.” The tiny voice said.

I regarded it skeptically for a moment wondering if this was a prank as well. The voice on the other end seemed far to small to belong to the imposing Dean.

“Is something wrong?” I asked.

“Have you heard about Miss Hill?”

The name sounded vaguely familiar as belonging to a student in my freshmen morning class. The face eluded my memory though.

“She is a student, I believe.”

“Yes. She was…. I will explain when I see you. I am calling an emergency board meeting this morning at 6AM. I would like to speak with you before then. Can you meet me at Primrose Hall in an hour?”

“Yes, of course.” I said.

“Excellent. We can continue this at that time then. Goodbye.”

There was a soft click in the earpiece and then silence. I regarded it for a moment before setting the earpiece back in its hold. I hurried back up the stairs to get myself dressed for the day. Caroline was waiting at the top of the stairs. She looked pales and her eyes were red as though she had been crying.

“Is something wrong, Charles?” She asked.

“It would seem so.” I replied.

“What?” She asked.

“I do not know.” I said.

An hour later I met Dean Steadward on the steps to Primrose Hall.

“I would say good morning but it obviously is not.” I said.

The dean merely nodded.

“You said you would explain.” I prompted.

“Inside. We should not be overheard.” He said.

I followed him up the steps wondering just what kind of a political mess I was about the be embroiled in. It would have to be politics as nothing else ever requires that amount of secrecy.
Inside we sat side by side on wooden chairs in the main hall. The dean looked tired, like he had not slept at all this night. By the tension in his shoulders I gathered whatever the situation with Miss Hill was, it was complicated and quite possibly dangerous.

“Yesterday afternoon, Miss Gloria Hill was found dead. She apparently hung herself from a tree just outside of school grounds.” The dean said.

The situation began to make more sense. I nodded for him to continue.

“We have had a suicide before in Primrose’s first year. It nearly shut the college down before it truly opened. This one however looks to be even more dangerous to the college’s future.” He said.

“How so?” I asked, annoyed that he kept making me prod for the information.

“This event appears tied to the application of discipline to the young lady on the previous day. She was strapped in front of her class which included a few young men.”

“I do not see what the one has to do with the other.” I said.

“As you well know there is a strong opposition to our placement of young men within our classes. That opposition will seize upon this situation to prove that we never should have gone down this path. They will link her turn to suicide to her emotional distress at being disciplined in front of young men her own age.”

“I can fathom the attempt but I cannot make the connection myself. Is there any proof of a connection between the two events?” I asked.

“We have the statements of several students who claim she emotionally distraught after the incident. She was crying for hours and unable to eat.”

“Did she leave a note?”

“Not that we have found.”

“It would seem to me then there is no evidence whatsoever to indicate what motivation she had. For all we know she might have tired of Mrs. Carrington’s cooking.” I said.

“This hardly a time for bad jokes, Mr. Birchwood.”

“My apologies, but my point remains, there is only conjecture to support your thesis.”

“That may be so but it is a powerful conjecture supported by numerous observations.”

“Is it your desire to shut this trial down?” I asked.

“I am looking out for what is best for Primrose College. People need to blame something for failure here and this trial situation is convenient.”

“If we wish to place blame why not focus on something we know need fixing?”

“What are you suggesting?”

“Carrington Manor.”

“I do not follow your logic.”

“There is clearly a problem with procedure or security or both if a girl is able to slip out undetected in the middle of the night. In fact it should alarm us further when one considers if a young lady can find a way out it should not pose any difficulty at all for more dangerous elements to find their way in.” I said.

The dean scratched his head in though for a moment and then nodded at me.

“Would you argue this position to the board, Mr. Birchwood?”

“If it is necessary.”

“It is.”

It was nearly an hour later before all the board members and staff were gathered. Coffee arrived at last, courtesy of Miss Bowen. While not a technical member of the staff she was clearly called up as well. Her presence spoke volumes to me of what Dean Steadward’s opinion of her is.

Edith looked tired as we all did. Her hair was perfect as usual but her eyes were bloodshot from crying and by the way she held herself I imagined she was blaming herself for the tragedy. I would have provided comfort but the setting made such things impossible and no doubt she would find it hypocritical when I make my argument that the fault lies with the dormitory. She would agree but it is unfortunate because I believe she will attempt to shoulder the entire burden when hers should only be a sliver if any at all. The Carrington’s are the careless ones, the inattentive ones.

The meeting began on schedule with the dean reiterating the facts as known for the official record. Testimony of the events then swayed to Mr. Bard, followed by Miss Bowen and then Mrs. Carrington. The story they painted was essentially the story told to me by the dean. They claimed assumptions based on observations as fact. It was as if there was a concerted effort to end the attendance of young men at Primrose. I can certainly understand why one would oppose their presence, but to me it seemed a waste to end the school’s history making venture on such shallow cause.

Finally it was my turn to speak. I stood and faced the room.

My heart goes out to those who loved and cared for Miss Gloria Hill. It is always a tragedy to lose a young life. In the aftermath of such horror it is only natural to re-examine ourselves and ask what could we have done better, what could we have done different, what could have we done to save this girl’s life. The questions are hard and the answers are often harder.

Through hindsight we will always gain better perspective than we will ever have in foresight. It will behoove though to remember that even hindsight can be tainted by our prejudices and emotions. We want something or someone to blame but blame is not productive and will not protect the girls who remain in our care. There is plenty of it to go around but our purpose here should not be to lay blame but to correct what flaws we can so that we may better protect our students in the future.

The facts of this case are limited but they do point us toward a flaw which we should endeavor to correct. We cannot know what drove Miss Hill to take her own life. We will never know her embarrassment at having been disciplined in a classroom occupied by both young ladies and young men. We can only guess at how fragile Miss Hill’s emotional state must have been. If we could factually answer these question we might well know if removing young men from Primrose classes would be of any benefit, but we cannot.

The young men who attended Mr. Bard’s history class were not rule breakers. They caused no trouble within the classroom. Miss Hill caused the trouble and unless we want to argue that Mr. Bard was assigning too much work she is the only one to blame for the situation that befell her when Mr. Bard punished her. I think we can rule out Mr. Bard’s assignments as no other student in any of his classes was failing to complete the work.

In light of this fact it seems unfair to me to punish the young men who did nothing wrong by expelling them. Such a course of action would not be permissible in normal circumstances in any case but indeed our circumstances here are not normal. So, let us turn from that which we do not know and look at that which we do know.

Miss Hill went to bed with her roommates and was gone when the morning bell rang. Sometime during the night she left. How did this happen? How could this happen? Is there no security at Carrington Manor? These are real question and while I have not the answers to them at this very moment, we can find answers to these questions.

When we find those answers we will then know what to do. We may not have been able to protect Miss Hill from herself but we should have been able to keep her in her bed at night or at the very least in the dormitory. Had we done that job, Miss Hill would not have had the opportunity to do what she did.

This is a problem that we can fix. This is problem we must fix. If it is possible for a young lady to slip out of bed and leave Carrington Manor in the middle of the night, undetected, then it is equally possible for more dangerous persons to slip inside.

We have work to do here, but it is not throwing our young men out on the street. We have an obligation to Miss Gloria Hill and to the all the young ladies here at Primrose to provide a safe and secure environment they can call their home away from home.

I concluded my speech and sat down. There were nods of support and agreement around the room. That is except from the Carrington’s, who gazed at me with unadulterated hatred in their eyes and Miss Bowen, Edith, who sat crying in her seat. She stared at the floor, blaming herself for failures that were not hers alone if they were even hers at all. I wished to cross the room and hold her in my arms. I would hush her and comfort her and reassure her she was not to blame. That was not my role though. Today, I am the bastard.

The Days Of Gloria, Part 2

September 16, 1896
Elizabeth Bassett

There was a bit of commotion at breakfast. I hardly paid attention as I was reviewing my physics chapter in anticipation of a test. Dr. Phallic had not actually said there would be one today but I awoke with the unshakeable feeling I needed to be prepared. Such feelings are better heeded than ignored in my experience.

Besides, the fuss revolved around one of the first years turning up missing after the night. It happened last year too. From what I was told then it was something of an annual tradition since Carrington Manor first starting housing the Primrose girls. Every year there was at least one girl who would after a few classes decide college was not for her and she would leave, usually in the middle of the night without a word to anyone. It is an odd tradition, but it seems to be a lasting one.

The girl’s disappearance would be the talk of the day if not the week or the month. Not much happens worth of such excitement and speculation at Primrose and so these mild events tend to have a life of their own until the parents send word, usually within a couple of weeks, that their daughter has arrived home safe. This time would be no different, I was certain.

I warned Penny to study her physics but she shrugged me off and engaged in the usual gossip with the younger girls. She was far more engaged in the speculation about what happened to Gloria Hill, the apparent missing student. While I admittedly do not know most of the first years, her name was familiar to me. I cannot place where I know it from but I am certain I have heard it before. Perhaps her parents know mine or something of that sort. I thought I might call mother later in the day and ask her if she knows the name.

The morning passed quickly and soon Penny and I were sitting in Dr. Phallic’s physic class taking the test I had expected. Penny gave me a sour look as the tests were laid out on our desks. I did warn her but I think that is not the reason for the look. More likely, she wants to know how I knew about the test in the first place. She would never believe me if I told her though.

Wilbur surprised us after class. He was waiting in his automobile at the bottom of the steps to Primrose Hall. He was sitting up on the back of the seat and had the top rolled down. He honked the horn and waved to us as we exited. I could not resist the smile that spread across my face and the giddy urge to wave back despite the relatively short distance between us. Penny nudged me in the side as if to tell me to drop the enthusiasm. I have the feeling she does not approve of Wilbur and I becoming acquainted any more than we all ready are.

I cannot adequately explain it, but whenever he is around I find myself a little more light hearted, a little more happy. He simply has that effect on me without trying. His hair was tangled and wind blown as usual, his goggles were lying on the dashboard covered in dust. I was happy to see him but I instantly knew he was not happy at all. His usual buoyant attitude was depressed and his customary smile was missing. Penny noticed it too.

“What’s wrong?” She asked him.

“Get in. You too Lizzie.” He said.

Penny and I shared a look of concern and then climbed inside. Wilbur sat down on the seat and put his goggles back on. He started the engine and drove us out of the college into Providence without another word.

He turned down a series of streets which seemed to be taking us closer to the ocean. Finally he turned off the road and took us along a cliff with a fantastic view of the ocean beyond. Then I saw the lavender flowers and in the distance a tree. I shuddered as I recalled the nightmare again. Wilbur stopped the car a short ways from the tree. There were a few men around but none of them were paying attention to us.

“You know this place?” Wilbur asked, looking at me.

“Yes.” I said, my voice hoarse.

“What’s the significance?” He asked.

“I don’t know.” I said.

“Explain.” He demanded.

“Bad things seem to happen here.” I said.

Wilbur nodded. He started the engine the again and turned the automobile around.

“What’s going on?” Penny asked.

“You’ll find out soon enough.” He replied.

“Why did you bring us out here?” She asked.

Wilbur remained silent and seemed to be ignoring Penny.

“Wilbur!” She shouted.

We were nearing the paved road and he stopped the automobile.

“Do you know Gloria Hill?” He asked.

I shrugged.

“She’s the first year who ran away last night.” Penny said.

“She didn’t run away.” Wilbur said.

“What do you know?” I asked.

Wilbur sighed and looked at us both.

“She killed herself.” He said.

“What?” Penny said.

I was silent.

“She went to that tree and hung herself.” Wilbur said.

“Why did you take us out there?” Penny asked sounding horrified.

“I had to know.” He said.

“Know what?” She demanded.

“If you were involved.” He said.

“You are not making any sense, Wilbur.” Penelope said.

“I don’t have time to explain right now. I’m taking you two back to Carrington Manor.” He said.

Wilbur was watching me closely and I realized he did not trust me. My reaction to the place was suspicious to him for some reason. Which in turn made him suspicious to me. What does he know and why is he keeping secrets?

He dropped us at the front steps of Carrington Manor. Even from the curb we could hear the chorus of tears from inside. Obviously word of Gloria Hill’s fate had made it around. We entered the front door and were instantly surrounded by the ill news.

“Why would she do it?” Mrs. Carrington asked to no one.

“Why did I not see it?” Edith said.

“Why do I not believe it?” I thought to myself.

The Days Of Gloria, Part 1

September 15, 1896
Sarah Waters

Mr. Bard welcomed us to class today with a ten question quiz about the Egyptian Pyramids. It was rather basic, having read chapter four in the text over the weekend, the questions were directly from the end of the review page at the end of the chapter. Personally, I felt the chapter in general spent far too much time making assumptions about the ancient culture based on modern Christian beliefs, rather than focusing on known facts and quantifiable assumptions based on more diverse theologies.

Mr. Bard walked through the room collecting our previous assignments while we completed the quiz. Behind me he stopped and spoke in a loud enough voice for everyone to hear. I think it was his intention to disrupt the class but I must say it seemed rude to me.

“Miss Hill, how many questions were at the end of chapter four?” Mr. Bard asked.

“I am uncertain, sir.” A timid voice replied.

I turned around in my chair for a moment to glimpse who he was tormenting. The young lady was familiar to me as another boarder at the Carrington’s. She shares a room two doors down from my own. I know her name is Gloria Hill and I know she despises the Carrington’s and Miss Bowen nearly as much I do although our reasons are worlds apart.

I have never spoken with her, she seems the shy and quiet type. Her casual attire was more formal and elegant than anything I have dreamed of wearing. Her long brown hair is always curled around her shoulders in defiance of modern fashion. Suffice to say I have noticed her but I doubt she has ever looked far enough beneath herself to realize I exist.

“Would it be fair to say it was more than three?” Mr. Bard asked.

“As I am uncertain to the exact quantity it would be impossible for me to say, sir.” She replied.
Her voice was meek but her words conveyed a bravery beyond her tone. The contradiction intrigued me.

“Let me assure you there were a total of fifteen questions to be answered. You have a mere three answers on this page and unless I am mistaken they are from chapter three and not chapter four.” Mr. Bard said.

The room fell silent. Mr. Bard was likely waiting for a response but I gathered as he asked no question, Miss Hill was unlikely to say anything. She proved me right.

“Nothing to say for yourself, Miss Hill?” Mr. Bard asked.

“Is there something in particular you wish me to say?” She asked.

“Perhaps you could explain why you did not complete your assignment?”

“I could but would it alter your opinion of the matter?”

“Assuming your answer goes beyond the tired permutations of canine digestion it is possible.” Mr. Bard replied.

I snorted while trying to suppress a giggle. I am of the opinion it sounded worse than a simple giggle would have but at least it managed to avoid getting me dragged into the middle of Gloria’s problems. I wonder why I was the only one who seemed to find his comment amusing.

“I found the text boring and it made me rather sleepy so I napped during the time I should have been reading and answering the chapter questions.” She said.

Bold answers and I while Mr. Bard might take them as truth for some reason they did not ring true to my ears. I realize I do not know here and therefore cannot lay any claim toward knowledge of her likes and dislikes but my observations of her seem reflective of an individual with a keen mind. The contradictions continue to build.

Mr. Bard walked to the front of the room. He stopped at his desk and lifted his grade book, perusing it for a moment. He closed it quickly and slapped it back down on his desktop creating a loud slap that made most everyone in the room jump in their seats.

“Miss Hill finds history boring and unworthy of her time. Does anyone else feel this way?” Mr. Bard said.

The class remained silent. Everyone seemed to be looking around with plenty of stares falling on Gloria. Mr. Bard’s stance told me matters were not going well for her and I think most of my classmates came to the same conclusion.

“It seems you are alone in your boredom, Miss Hill. Were this not a mandatory class I would invite you to leave. However, we do not have that prerogative. Therefore I must find a way to alleviate your boredom. Do you have any suggestions on how I might achieve that goal?” Mr. Bard said.

“No, sir.” She replied.

“I see. It seems you have been bored for some time. You have not completed a single assignment I have give to date.”

“I believe that is correct sir.” She said.

“Have you read chapter four?”

“No, sir.”

“Have you read chapter three?”

“Do you mean all of it sir?” She asked.

There were stifled giggles at her response. Mr. Bard pretended not to care. Gloria appeared contrite, her brown eyes down turned, her shoulders slumped slight, but there was evidence of smugness at the slight upturn of her lips. Was it my imagination or was she nearly smiling?
Mr. Bard sighed and shook his head.

“I had hoped not to have to do this, but you are leaving me very little choice, Miss Hill. Your behavior and apparent lack of shame is a disgrace to Primrose and your family. Stand up!”

Gloria contorted her face to mimic nervousness or was it genuine? She stood without trembling but her lower lip quivered. She looked at the floor but her back was straight and proud. I wonder what thoughts were rushing through her head.

“You will strip off, leave your things at your desk and come to the front of the room. Understood?” Mr. Bard ordered.

Gloria nodded her head slightly and her hands began the difficult task of unfastening buttons. Her hands were steady, mine would have shaken to the bone. Her face was white, I would have blushed to my toes. Something was not right here and it was not that a beautiful young lady was about to be naked and disciplined in a classroom occupied by both male and female students, although that is disturbing in itself.

It took her three minutes by my count to strip and begin her shameful walk to the front. She covered herself as best she could with arms and hands contorted to cover as much vulgar flesh as possible. She walked with confidence and surety.

Mr. Bard regarded her for a moment as she stood before him and before all of us. She did not tremble or shiver. She kept her head tilted down but her shoulders were square and her back remained straight. Her legs were shoulder’s width apart, reminding me of a soldier’s stance.

“Hands at your sides.” Mr. Bard ordered.

He reached inside his suit jacket and removed a small leather strap. I have seen several around and believe they are the implement of choice at Primrose. The supple leather makes for an excellent implement with flexible use. Its sting is no doubt fierce but the noise is muted other than the cries of the victims.

“Turn around and face the class.” Mr. Bard ordered.

Gloria obeyed and as her eyes came in contact with the boys in the front row, her cheeks colored for the first time in her ordeal. She was brave not to cry from that moment. I think I would have. She no longer looked at the floor. She stared at the boys, her eyes meeting each of theirs in turn or so it seemed from where I sat.

“Bend over. Hands on your knees.” Mr. Bard ordered.

Gloria complied. Her face grew a touch redder as she must have realized the view the boys had. Her breasts swung free and seemed to grow as they hung downward. Her nipple hardened before our eyes and with her hands at her knees there was no hiding her lack of pubic hair. I blushed for her, with her.

Mr. Bard swung the small strap with very little arm motion. I suspect the flick is worse than the slap with such an implement, but it is not a theory I am in a hurry to test. Gloria’s reaction were sufficient to assure me it was painful.

She gasped as each flick connected. They grew more intense with each successive strike until tears began to stream down her face. Once the tears came the gasps became sniffles and sobs. Mr. Bard was not in a mood to be gentle. He kept a steady rhythm of a one-two beat until he delivered a total of fifteen. Gloria was crying freely by the last.

The boys in front of me seemed to hardly breath while Gloria was bent over. The girls blushed as I did. No one said a word or made a sound. We were torn between horror and fascination. Part of me, I admit, wanted to know what it was like to be her, to be the center of everyone’s attention. Most of me was just glad it was not.

“You may stand up.” Mr. Bard said.

Gloria was flustered. Her hands started to reach to comfort her backside and then seemed to realize that was not allowed. Her legs were shaking and she seemed to be having to difficulty keeping herself standing still. I have had enough spankings to know the desire of that moment and also the shame.

“You may sit on the stool in the corner for the remainder of class and I expect you will have completed all your previous assignments as well as the current one by Wednesday’s class. Understood.”

Gloria nodded and started to walk to the corner.

“I expect an audible answer, Miss Hill.”

“Yes, sir.” She said.

Her voice was surprisingly strong.

“Good because if you do not, this lesson can be repeated.”

Gloria glanced toward the class, toward the boys I believe, her lips were upturned in what I can only describe as a rueful smile. The moment was brief and it was only a glimpse I saw but I am quite certain of what I saw.

Gifts And Horses

September 13, 1896
Anna Cushing

I went for a morning ride after breakfast. Back home, it was just a part of my daily routine but here it is something I only find time for on the weekends. I insisted on taking Prometheus with me and father eventually bowed to my wishes. He always does, even if he does not think so, but that is to be expected. Everything is simple when everyone knows their place.

The morning boded well for a cool autumn day, despite summer still being the official season for another week. Personally, I am ready for the end of summer. I detest the warm days which make it uncomfortable indoors and unbearable outdoors. The smell of sweat on men is pleasant enough but on a lady it is a disgusting affront. Were I able, I would hibernate through the warmest days of the year.

Upon returning from our ride, I found Sarah in the Manor’s stables. She was grooming a horse and at first I thought it might have been her weekend chore, in which case I was concerned for Prometheus. She did not look at me though, as I entered. She was so enraptured with the creature she seemed not to notice me at all. It was through this observation of behavior I deduced the grooming was not a burden or chore, but an act of love. The horse must be hers.

The revelation was surprising. The thought I might have anything in common with the peasant was almost revolting. I even pondered the possibility she was not as poor as she seems for a moment. The moment passed quickly though as I comforted myself, secure in the knowledge that no one would don the rags she wears day in and day out if they had choice to wear better. No, Sarah is an enigma of sorts but she is what seems, that is part of what makes her so unusual.
I walked over to the stall cautiously, so as not to startle the beast. I rested on the wooden gate and waited for her to notice me. Insultingly, she either did not notice me or she did not care. I smiled anyway.

“He’s gorgeous.” I said.

She did not jump or turn toward me, but instead she kept brushing him.

“Thank you.” She said.

“I was unaware you had a horse here.” I said, trying to initiate a conversation.

“Neither was I.” She said so quietly, I almost did not hear.

“He’s not yours?” I asked, wondering if I had erred in my assumption.

“No, he is. I didn’t know he was here or that he was even coming.” She said.

She sounded sad.

“I am certain your family only wanted to surprise you with a little bit of home.” I said.

She looked over at me at last. Her expression was more distrust than anything.

“Why are you talking to me?” She asked.

Obviously she has never been taught the conventions of socialization. Only a peasant would ask such a direct and rude question, but my goal was not to insult her or further aggravate our relationship.

“I realize we have not started out well, but we are roommates. We should try to be friends.” I said.

“And you think feigning interest in my horse is a good way to start?”

“I am not feigning interest. Poseidon, over there is mine. We have something in common, I thought it would be as good a place as any to begin from.”

She looked out to where I indicated Poseidon and for the briefest moment there was a softening of her expression.

“Maybe I was a little quick to judge. We could ride together tomorrow if you like?” She said.

“That would be pleasant. After breakfast?”

“I will be ready.”

I nodded at her and started to walk back to the Manor. A curiosity stopped me for a moment though and I turned back to her.

“What is his name?” I asked.

“Jasper.” She said.

Back in our room I was fortunate to find it empty. I took out the package I had bought in town on morning ride and laid it carefully on Sarah’s bed. I scribbled a quick note and sealed it in an envelope, placing it atop the small box. It was a minor thing, nothing extravagant but I was certain Sarah needed it, but I did not want our roommates to know I had purchased it. Sarah should be grateful and if she is, she will keep it between us.

A Natural Hierarchy

September 12, 1896
Charles Birchwood

“I need some advice.” Edith said.

It was late in the afternoon and my last class had just left. She had stood tentatively in the hallway, no doubt thinking I would not notice her during the last minutes of my lesson. I ignored her but her presence had an unsettling effect on me, my thoughts wandering primarily to Caroline. Could it be the honorable Miss Bowen had something she should not have to her?

“In regards to what?” I asked.

“Whom.” She replied.

I raised an eyebrow at her. She looked at the floor like a nervous schoolgirl. That is of course all she is now, a schoolgirl. I had the distinct impression I was being played for a fool and while I do not mind games in theory I do not like being the fool under any circumstances.

“Are you going to explain yourself or shall I start with a reminder lesson about directness in conversations?”

She shifted in place and I do believe she was honestly considering her answer. There is something very attractive about that.

“Her name is Sarah Waters. She is a first year student here and therefore under my charge at Carrington Manor. Are you familiar with her?”

“Yes, she has a class with me. She is not particularly gifted but her effort is sufficient to impress me.”

“Have you noticed an attitude about her?”

“No, I cannot say that I have.”

“At the Manor she is somewhat rebellious.”

“Are you asking me how to deal with rebelliousness?”

“Not exactly.”

“Then please get to your point, if you have one.”

“I do. She is not typical. I know things about her that perhaps jade my opinions. She is intelligent, hardworking, but stubborn. Her recent family life has been traumatic, loss of her father in the late spring. Most of the time she follows the rules to perfection but then there are times where she throws them out the window like they do not apply to her and her logic at those times is difficult to counter. Mrs. Carrington even allowed her to walk out of her den on one occasion with out any disciplinary action.”

“Am I to assume you have discussed Miss Waters with Mrs. Carrington and not came to a satisfactory conclusion?”

“Our discussion regarding Miss Waters was rather short and not at all helpful.”

Edith was holding something back but as the hour was growing late I did not feel up to the task of dragging out particulates which were likely of no or little bearing to her difficulty.

“If I am to understand correctly, you have sympathies with the girl for her unfortunate recent history and are therefore allowing yourself to forego punishing her despite your clear knowledge that discipline is needed?”

“That is a rather simplified way of putting it. There is more though. She will not accept discipline if she feels she has not done wrong.”

“It is not for her to decide if she need discipline or not.”

“I realize that, but she has even stood up to Mr. Carrington. I have never seen a girl do that successfully before.”

“Mr. Carrington backed down from punishing this girl?”



“I think because he is afraid of her. Truthfully, I think we all are.”

I laughed. It was perhaps not as funny to Edith but even she smiled the longer I laughed. The idea of a small girl like Sarah Waters, making a grown man afraid was ludicrous and to think she had succeeded not only with Mr. Carrington but apparently with every other person residing in the dormitory was hysterical to me.

“Can you help me?” Edith asked.

“No. Miss Waters is not under your authority or the Carrington’s for that matter. You are all under hers and until you reverse that, there is nothing anyone can do.”

“How do I reverse it?”

“She has to be afraid of you and you cannot be afraid of her. It is that simple and that hard.”

Edith nodded but her attention was inward. No doubt she was considering her options and searching to find the strength necessary within herself. Knowing Edith as I do, she will find she is stronger than she believes but as for Miss Waters, she will not scare easily and she seems to know just how deep her own strength runs.

As Edith started to leave a thought occurred to me.

“Edith, there is another approach you might want to try instead.” I said.

She turned back to face me, her head tilted to one side in curiosity.


“You could simply try talking to her and explaining your dilemma to her.”

“What good would that do?”

“She’s a smart girl, she might just be willing to help you if she understands why.”

“I’ll think about it. Thank you, Charles.”

“Goodnight, Edith.”

Glimpses Of A Web

September 11, 1896
Sarah Waters

There will come a day when nothing will surprise me anymore. I can see it on the horizon and feel it in my bones. The willingness to believe anything is possible and anything can happen at anytime in anyplace is slowly replacing my childhood notions of fate. I will never be rescued by a knight in polished silver unless I become that knight myself. Call it disillusionment, call it cynical, call it anything you like, but know it is truth.

We said a silent prayer at the table before consuming our dinner meal. I sat with my roommates although we do not speak. They say here at Primrose we girls will learn our place and for now I know my place is with them whether I like them or not. If I am honest, I am more jealous than disliking of them. They come from places and lives which remain merely dreams to me. I wonder if I had lived in one of their shoes, would I have ever had any desire to come here? Which then begs the question, what drove them here?

I noticed as soon as I sat down at the table, Miss Bowen was absent. She is normally, infuriatingly prompt and proper. The lack of her presence was acute to me and I believe it was to my peers as well. Mrs. Carrington seemed a bit out of sorts without her.

“Miss Bowen will not be joining us this evening.” Mrs. Carrington announced in answer to our stares at the empty chair.

Curiosity may have gotten the better of me where it not for the front bell. I was about to ask why when it rang. The sound interrupted my thought and instantly guided my assumptions, she was having dinner out with someone. I could not know if for certain but I was right and the evidence suggested as much.

Mr. Carrington rose quietly and exited the dining hall to tend to the visitors. The quiet gossip of my peers began anew with his departure. The main topic of the night seemed to be a man named Remington Drake who was apparently guilty of stealing the virtue of young ladies and then discarding them with disdain. In my personal experience a lady’s virtue is normally only be taken when she is complicit in the act. The fact seemed to elude those around me.

I was running slightly behind on my studies for the day so after a few spoonfuls of chicken soup I asked to be excused. Mrs. Carrington seemed annoyed at first but quickly relented and waived me off. I carefully snuck a dozen crackers into the folds of my skirt and made my way out, intending to head straight to my room. Daylight would be gone soon and as my candles have seemingly disappeared, likely on the train when that young man sent my things scattering under benches, I find it difficult to study after dark.

In the hallway though I stopped dead in tracks. I heard the voice before I saw him but I knew it was him instantly. He had two men with him I did not recognize and then there was Mr. Carrington talking in whispers with him.

“Miss Sarah Waters, I didn’t think I’d be seeing you here tonight.” William Howe said.

“Why is that Mr. Howe? Do you feign ignorance about knowing I am here or were you just planning on hiding from me?”

“Watch your manners, Miss Waters.” Mr. Carrington said.

I glared at him but thought better of answering back right at the moment. It would not do to initiate a confrontation.

“Tell me Mr. C, have had the pleasure of tanning the hide of this little lady?” Mr. Howe asked.

“That is not your business or your concern Mr. Howe.” I answered for him.

“Little touchy on the subject are we? I’ll take it as a yes then.” Mr. Howe said and grinned his wicked grin.

“What business do you have here Mr. Howe?” I asked.

“Mr. Howe’s business is not your concern, Miss Waters. I suggest you retire to your room before your mouth lands you in more trouble than you can handle.”

“I wasn’t speaking to you Mr. Carrington.” I said.

“Watch yourself, Miss Waters.” Mr. Carrington said.

My eyes were locked on William. He seemed to be debating whether to tell me the truth of stay silent. Whichever he chose I was going to find out anyway.

“Just passing through. My boss is here to visit an old family friend.” He said.

It did not take me long to put the pieces together. Mr. Parker was here for Miss Bowen. It seemed unfathomable that Miss Bowen, for all her faults, could be friends with the likes of Mr. Parker. Then again my own placement at Primrose, scholarship and all, was rather unfathomable. For the first time I began to wonder if my presence here was to keep me out of the way and under guard. Had I fallen into a carefully devised trap?

Mr. Parker and Miss Bowen descended the stairs. She looked beautiful and elegant beside him with her hair tied up high and wearing a blue gown in the latest evening fashion.

“Sarah?” Mr. Parker queried.

The other men faded away and even Miss Bowen was but as blur in my vision. I stepped toward him with a soldier’s precision.

“You don’t get to call me Sarah, not ever.” I said. My voice was cold and quiet even to my own ears.

“I’ve done everything I know how to help you and your family. I cannot change the past and I cannot bring your father back. Tell me what to do or say and I will if it will help.” Mr. Parker said.

“Go to Hell.” I said.

Edith looked stunned as she tried to understand the dynamic unfolding.

“Miss Waters!” Mr. Carrington said, more like a warning than a name.

Mr. Carrington’s hand fell on my shoulder and gripped hard as if to yank me back. I turned my head to the side to ensure he heard me.

“Get your hand off me.” I ordered in the same voice.

The hand did not leave.

“You will not speak to guests in my home that way.” Mr. Carrington said.

“If you welcome murderers and bandits into your home, it is the risk you run. Get your hand off me now.” I said.

Still the hand did not leave. The grip tightened and began to apply backward pressure. I stepped back into it and ground my heal into the toe of his boot. Mr. Carrington gasped in pain. His hand released my shoulder. I shoved him back into the wall and turned my back on him again to face Mr. Parker. Miss Bowen ran toward him but her eyes were locked on me. I think she was scared.
William laughed.

“Get out.” I said to Mr. Parker, standing only inches away from him.

“I understand you are upset, Sarah, but this has to end.” Mr. Parker said.

“Call me Sarah again and it will be the last thing you ever say.” I said.

Behind me I heard the sound of a gun being drawn from its holster. I laughed, it was frightening even to my own ears.

“Put those away, you idiots. The lady wants us to leave so we leave.” Mr. Parker said.

He walked past me and headed out the front door with Mr. Howe and his men just ahead of him. At the door he turned to Miss Bowen.

“We will have to schedule for another time I think.” He said.

She nodded.

“Goodnight.” He said and left.

When the door clicked closed I turned and started up the stairs.

“Where do you think you are going?” Miss Bowen called out.

“To my room to study.” I said.

“We need to talk.” Miss Bowen said.

Mr. Carrington glared at me and for a second I thought he was going to make another grab for me but instead he shook his head and walked away, leaving Miss Bowen and I alone.

“What was that about?” She asked.

“If you don’t all ready know, you don’t want to.” I said and walked away.

I heard her follow me up the stairs but when I went into my room she did not follow. As I opened my books my mind considered the possibilities of Miss Bowen. After tonight I am more certain than ever; people are rarely what they seem.

We Stand Alone

September 10, 1896
Elizabeth Bassett

I think I must have stood in the hallway for ten minutes before I finally made up my mind. The first year girls were all staring at me as though they thought I had done something wrong. I suppose it was only a natural assumption I must have looked suspiciously like an anxious girl working up the courage to face her comeuppance. Fortunately, such was not my fate for I do not think I could face Edith in that manner ever again. I knocked.

“Come in.” Edith said from behind the closed door.

I turned the knob and entered, closing the door behind me to ensure privacy. Some things are best kept secret.

“Are you busy?” I asked.

Edith was writing at her desk and had yet to look at me. She seemed different than last year, not precisely older but definitely more mature. I could see why the first years were a little afraid of her.

“Not terribly so. The usual assignments to complete. What can I do for you?”

“We haven’t spoke since I arrived and I wanted to see if you were all right.”

“I am. I trust you had a pleasant summer?”

“Yes, well mostly. Like any trip home there are ups and downs.”

“Of course. Was there something in particular you wanted to discuss?”

I shifted nervously. I had considered for days how best to broach the subject and now as I stood on the precipice all planning left me and I found myself fumbling for words.

“Uh, um, Well, last year we, uh, did, well you know. Are you planning anything further?”

Edith put her pen down and smiled at me. I felt more secure instantly but then I caught her eyes. They were haunted and I shivered despite the warmth of the afternoon.

“We made a big difference last year. Things will never be quite the same at Primrose because of us but there are limits to the amount of change people can cope with. I think we have stretched the limit with what we did and it will be some time before anyone around here is ready to even consider something more.”

“I don’t understand. We have not even made a dent in equalizing Primrose and Brown. How can we have reached any limit?”

“We must be patient, Elizabeth. Women may indeed be ready for equality but men are not and it is only through their good graces we shall ever find the equality that we seek.”

“We forced them to accept what we wanted last year, we can do it again this year only with something that matters more.”

“Now is not the time. It was dangerous enough last year and even you were hurt by it, though you have never spoke of it. Ms. Maple is dead because of what we did. I do not want anyone else hurt because of my dreams. I do not believe you would want that either for yours.”

“There are casualties in any war. We honor the wounded and dead by persevering.”

“We are not at war.”

“You are wrong. Not all wars are fought on battlefields with guns blazing.”

“There will be a time when it is right for us to push the limits again, but that time is not now. Have patience and you will see I am right.”

I nodded. There was no point in continuing to argue. Edith had changed more than she was likely aware. I had hoped we could couple our ideas again and make a difference that mattered. It was clear that would not happen now.

I promised Mrs. Rockefeller I would make a difference at Primrose for the girls who are here and the ones who are not. It is a promise I intend to keep, with or without help from my friends.

Real Men Don't Blush

September 9, 1896
Penelope Sumter

“Oh Remington!” I said and waved at him as I hurried up the street to Primrose Hall.

He was standing before the front steps with Catherine Defoe. She was clearly flirting with him and while I have never been a friend of hers I would not wish the likes of Remington Drake on any of the Primrose Girls.

Remington straightened his back and turned toward me. He seemed uncertain in the distance and I privately relished the thought that I had left him off balance even if it was only for a short moment.

“Miss Sumter, it is pleasant to see you again.” He said.

Catherine looked between Remington and myself, no doubt wondering just what our relationship was.

“Why Remington there’s no need to be so formal. Any man who’s seen me as you have has no right to call me anything but Penny. How was your summer vacation?” I replied as I came to stand next to him.

Remington blushed slightly as Catherine stared at him with surprise in her eyes. He cleared his throat.

“I really must be going.” He said.

“Don’t be silly, Remington. I won‘t take up too much of your time with Miss Defoe.”

“It‘s not what you think Penny.” He said.

“Wait a minute. Are you two involved?” Catherine asked looking more than a little concerned.

“Oh certainly not. At least not anymore.“ I said.

“But you were?“ She asked.

“Only briefly and it was never serious right Remy?“ I said.

“Yes, quite correct.“ He replied.

“Just because my father rejected you doesn’t mean we can’t still be friends does it?” I asked.

“Why would your father reject him?” Catherine asked.

“Oh it was nothing really, just a misunderstanding as to Mr. Drake’s intentions. Isn’t that right Remy?”

Remington cleared his throat again and looked about as uncomfortable as I have ever seen a man. His neck was bulging out of his collar and turning redder by the minute. I enjoyed every second but it was nothing compared to the humiliation he had served upon me.

“I really must be going now.” Remington said and started to walk away.

“Don’t be a stranger.” I said with a wink.

Catherine seemed speechless as she watched him walk away. I grabbed her arm after a moment and we began walking up the steps into Primrose Hall.

“We don’t know each other well but seeing as we at least have Primrose in common I feel it only fair I warn you about him.” I said.

“Warn me? What is it?” She asked.

“Remington Drake is a bastard.”

“I think I can judge that for myself.” She replied.

“It is your choice I won’t interfere again. Maybe he won’t do the same things to you he did to me. I cannot know his heart if he has one but I will never trust him again and I don’t think you should either.”

“What did he do?” She asked.

“I cannot speak of such things, just know if my father ever happens to cross his path he’ll likely shoot him dead where he stands.”

Catherine’s mouth opened and closed but no words emerged. I could practically see her imagination going to town on the horrendous and unspeakable things a man could do to a woman. She eventually closed her mouth and looked at me with a half smile.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know. Thank you for warning me.” She said.

“We can keep it just between us, but I’ll warn any Primrose Girl he comes near.” I said.

She nodded in complete agreement.

That was simple enough. Phase one of my plan for revenge was in motion and I had yet to even break a sweat. Within a few days there will not be a woman in Rhode Island that will speak with him and then it will be time to move on to the next phase of my revenge.

Measuring Up

September 8, 1896
Edith Bowen

I was enjoying the solitude of my private desk for the purpose of studying when there was a quiet knock on my door. I was not certain it was a knock at first. I stopped what I was doing and looked toward the door, wondering if I should get up and look in the hallway. Then it came again.

“Come in.” I said.

The door squeaked open to reveal Caroline Birchwood. She stood still in the doorway looking more than a little uncomfortable. Memories of Charles and I while she was away flashed into my vision. Was she here to confront me? Somewhere I found the courage to confront the possibility and accept whatever wrath might fall upon me.

“Come in, Caroline.” I said again.

She stepped into the room, but stayed a distance from me. She was trembling slightly and I briefly imagined her hands wrapped around my neck while she screamed at me. It is no more than I deserve. She did nothing of the sort though. After a moment she lifted a trembling hand toward me and held out an envelope. Needless to say it was not what I expected.

I took the envelope and looked at her with curiosity.

“What is this?” I asked.

“It is from Mr. Bard. He said I should bring it to you.” Caroline said.

She looked at the floor while she spoke and bit at her lower lip at the conclusion of her response. Realization dawned upon me. Caroline was not here to confront me, she was here in front of me for discipline. No wonder she was uncomfortable, I felt a twinge of it myself.

“What happened?” I asked without opening the sealed envelope.

I decided I wanted to hear it from her first and then see if the contents matched. It would be appropriate for any student, a test of their honesty and ability to accept and repent for their behavior.

“I’m sure it is all in his letter.” She said.

“Of course, but I asked you to tell me.”

She sighed, clearly uncomfortable with answering to me like a child, but that was indeed our respective positions.

“I disagreed with Mr. Bard’s lecture and interrupted him multiple times with corrections from the textbook.” She said.

“I see. Anything more?”

“I probably could have been more respectful in my choice of words and tone of voice.” She said.
She never looked up from the floor, but I could tell her face was flushed with embarrassment. I nodded.

“I see.”

I carefully opened the envelope. The note inside corroborated her confession and mentioned as well that she had been given a total of three warnings to cease her rude behavior. Clearly she had persisted beyond them and Mr. Bard had felt incapable of sufficiently dealing with her in the classroom. Therefore it had fallen upon me to correct the problem despite the unusual circumstances of Caroline’s housing arrangement on campus which normally leaves her outside of my authority.

“Mr. Birchwood will not be happy about this.” I said.

“I know he will surely deal with me quite severely. Perhaps you could leave it all to him?”

She glanced up at me with a glimmer of hope and mischief in her eyes. I gave her a wry smile in response. Part of me wished to do as she asked but the rest of me understood I had a larger responsibility to the school and no matter my personal feelings, it was my duty to discipline the woman before me and to do so in a strong enough manner that she would not soon contemplate a repeat performance of her childish behavior. The hope faded from her eyes and she looked at the floor again.

“I do not want to do this Caroline, but you have seen to it I have no choice. Remove your dress and lay it on the bed.” I said.

Caroline did not move for a long moment. I began to wonder if I would have to repeat myself more forcefully but then she nodded her head in acceptance. I was relieved but I did my best not to let her know it. She moved to close the door to my room.

“Leave it.” I said.

I knew it was cruel but there is no nice way to discipline. Besides, I know firsthand that a little embarrassment goes a long ways toward teaching a memorable lesson. She looked at me in disbelief for a moment and I thought she might argue but she did not. She stepped a little closer to my bed and slowly undid the buttons of her dress. She paused from time to time in hopes I might not have meant it but in the end she and I both found that I had meant it and I was not changing my mind.

Standing before me in her slip and underclothes she shivered as though naked. I can appreciate the feeling from having been her place many times, on many occasions not to different than one she faced. The largest difference being I had never been before a younger woman with not only the authority to discipline me but the moral obligation to do so. It was in that way uncomfortable for us both.

Adding to my difficulty was the squeaky voice in the back of my head, screaming about how this woman had as much right if not more to punish me for my betrayal of her. Guilt is a dangerous thing, especially when there exists no clear way to release yourself from it. Should I be gently with her in hopes she may someday return the favor? No, that is not the way of things and it serves nothing but guilt itself, compounding the problem. Justice must be served in its full dosage or the guilt will not be cleansed. I chose the cleansing for us both whether I had the right to do so or not remains unclear but it was the only choice I could truly make.

I stood up from desk chair and pulled and turned it around from the desk so that the seat faced the center of my room. Caroline watched me with the morbid interest of the condemned. My heart sympathized with her until I hardened it to do what I must.

“Bend over and place your hands on the seat of the chair.” I instructed.

My voice was surprisingly calm and stern. Caroline did not look at me but complied without a word. Her feet seemed unable to remain still and shifted forward and back, side to side, like those of a nervous and naughty girl half her age.

“Stand still.” I ordered.

She obeyed. I could see her lip trembling from the side where I stood. I moved to my desk doing my best to ignore the display. I opened the top drawer and removed a wooden ruler of 12 inches. It was small but thick. It would measure up to the task at hand well enough. I swung it in the air into my open palm. Caroline jumped at the crack of impact.

“I think an even dozen will do. Don’t you?” I said.

Caroline nodded her head. I considered making her speak for a moment before deciding it was not necessary. In point of fact, Caroline had said more than enough all ready, which was why she was bent over in my room about to be spanked.

I swung the ruler with measured strength. It impacted the center of her bottom with a flat thud. I had swung too hard and the effect was lacking. Less rigid strokes with more speed and less strength would produce the stinging sensation I was aiming for. I knew this and yet still my first stroke was not what it was intended to be. Oh well, practice will make perfect.

I swung again and was rewarded by a louder snapping sound and a gasp from Caroline. My first stroke had lowered her guard some and the second caught her unprepared. There was perhaps an advantage to not getting every stroke just right.

I settled into a rhythm. Swinging and then waiting several seconds for the sting to build upon itself. Caroline was excellent at letting me know when it was time for the next stroke. Her bottom would tense and wiggle as the discomfort grew and then as it began to settle in she would relax again, and then I would swing. I wonder if she was as aware of the pattern from her position or if it was something she was in the wrong position to appreciate. I have never notice such a thing while being spanked myself but it could be that my method is unique. Doubtful though, how could someone in my position fail to recognize the signs?

Caroline nearly jumped up on the last stroke. I aimed it low, at the crease between buttocks and thighs. In my personal experience that is always the most painful and also the longest reminder. The last should always be the worst and the most memorable. It is in this way that the lesson being taught is best learned. It is not pleasant to receive but it is effective.

I left her bent over my chair and moved back to the desk. I put the ruler away and then wrote a short note to Mr. Bard. He would no doubt want confirmation that she had been dealt with. I was conflicted about sending her to sit on a stool in the main hall or simply sending her home. In the end I favored sending her home. It was both kinder and crueler when one considers Charles Birchwood.

Dirty Windows

September 6, 1896
Edith Bowen

What does it mean when we know something is wrong and we do it anyway? I do not expect I will find an answer anytime soon, but it does plague my thoughts. It is not exactly guilt I feel though, I would do it again without a second thought.

Among my many responsibilities is the delivery of mail to the freshmen girls. Thus far there has been little of it but this afternoon there were two pieces both of which aroused my curiosity, but for different reasons. One was addressed to me, the other to Miss Waters.

I carried the letters to my room and sat them on my desk. I stared at them. The letter to Miss Waters rested on top and it beckoned me in a way I cannot explain. The girl is a mystery, she is stubborn and angry and she is clearly blessed with a bounty of smarts. She is so closed off it is impossible to get to know her and the letter seemed to be a window that just might offer a glimpse into who she really is.

I carefully opened it with the forethought to avoid tearing the envelope.

Dear Sarah,

It was a relief to receive word from Mrs. Carrington of your arrival and well being. I had hoped you would go there and at least follow your dreams. Mother was worried sick. I know you doubt her love for you and in fact you must doubt mine as well, but we want nothing but happiness for you. I hope you can believe that.

I am painfully aware our father would never have handled matters as I have since his passing. You would have made different choices as well and I cannot say that you would have been wrong, but I can say that I have made the decisions I have in the pursuit of the best interest of our family. You may disagree with me but surely you understand my intentions.

After you left, I decided to decline Mr. Parker’s offer of financial assistance. There was truth in your words that night. I was not prepared to hear it then but in the early morning hours it echoed with clarity in my ears. If you had only given me the night then perhaps there would be less miles between us now. We cannot change the past, however, and there is little to be gained from dwelling upon it. I only hope you will find it in your heart to forgive and to come home when you are ready.

In the meantime, I have learned the Carrington’s have a stable and their rates are comparable to the local rates for Jasper’s keep. I have arranged for Jasper to be cared for there where he will be available to you as well. It is where he belongs, with you. He should arrive on the 11th of September.

Please send word when he has arrived and also let us know if you would like to come home for the holidays. I will arrange everything and it would be good to have you here with us. We are family no matter our differences and you will always have a home here whenever you need it.

With love,

I carefully folded the letter back into its envelope. It revealed less than I hoped for but more than I wanted to know. I had felt sorry for her when she arrived, now I am not certain what I feel. For years I have missed my family and home, knowing that I can never have any of it back. Sarah Waters has chosen to turn her back on everything I desire. She decided for herself where I never had a choice. It is unfair.

The second letter was from Mr. Parker to me. I wonder if by some matter of chance the Mr. Parker referred to in Miss Waters’ letter is the same. It would be a nearly unfathomable coincidence and yet I think it is likely. There is a connection between Miss Waters and myself. I felt it the first time I laid eyes on her.

Mr. Parker’s letter was sparse on content. He intends to be in Providence next week and wishes to have dinner with me. It would be rude to refuse I think but I wonder what motivations exist beneath the surface. Somehow I doubt he would be surprised to see Sarah Waters but I think she might be to see him. Perhaps I shall arrange it, just to see what happens.

I caught Sarah in the hallway a little while later and gave her letter to her. She took it from me without a word, looked at the return address and then tore the envelope in half and then half again. She threw the shreds into a trash can and continued walking as though it was nothing at all. I could feel sorry for her, but I do not.


September 5, 1896
Anna Cushing

“You don’t seriously want to go away to that drab school do you?” Mom asked.

“It’s not drab. Brown University is one of the best traditional colleges in the country if not the world.”

“But you won’t be going to Brown, dear.”

“Primrose is part of it, whether anyone admits it or not.”

“I still don’t understand what you think you will gain there.”

“I know you don’t. You can’t.”

“Don’t go acting all superior, young lady. You aren’t too big to go over my knee and don’t you forget it.”

“I’m not being superior, mom. It’s just you can’t understand what this means to me because it will never have that meaning to you. Maybe someday I’ll know how to explain it better but I don’t think it matters.”

“Your grandmother was like that too. Always so much better than the rest of us. We could never do right by her and we could never understand things as she did. She was so misunderstood that no one even visits her grave. Is that what you want for yourself?”

“No, mom. I want to matter. I want to be something more than a wife and a mother.”

“So, now I don’t matter? Have I been such a huge disappointment to you?”

“No. Please, mom can we just agree that we don’t agree?”

“If this is what you really want, Anna. I don’t pretend to understand it, but if it makes you happy then I can accept it.”

“Thank you.”

She shook her head at me. There was a soft smile on her face but her cheeks were damp with tears. She was afraid of losing me, but I do not know why. We have never been close like mother and daughter should be. There have always been subtle disagreements, disapprovals in everything I have done from the day I was born to the first day I attended school to the day I left for Primrose College.

Maybe it is guilt that causes me to dream of that conversation almost nightly. Maybe it is because for the first time in my life I believed my mom actually cared about me. It is done with now though, so why does it matter to me?

Primrose College is everything I expected and nothing like what I expected. Contradictory as that may sound it remains true. I had known I would share a room with other girls. I had known there would be rules and discipline and schedules. These things I expected and accepted without remorse. I had however, expected the room to be at least as large as my bedroom at home. The fact that I am sharing a room with three other girls which is scarcely larger than my closet is an annoyance.

Then there is the matter of chores. At home we have servants to do the menial work and with the amount of money my dad sent the Carrington’s I would expect them to hire a few servants as well. Instead they opt for indentured servitude of the girls in their care. I had perfect nails when I arrived and now only one is not shattered to the quick. It is intolerable.

Even more so, when one of my roommates is nothing more than a servant herself. It is humiliating to be seen in her company. She wears rags and smells of dirt and sweat. If her hair has ever met a comb it is probably still lost in the tangled mess of it. And if all that was not enough, she knows not her place. In time that will change though, I will see to it.

Of course such things take careful planning and time. Mom always said you can catch more flies with honey and in this case she is doubly right. Helping the girl out will gain her trust and make living with her more tolerable in the meantime. By the time I am finished she will thank me for allowing her to do my chores and anything else I want.