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.

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