Pressed For Information

October 30, 1896
Margaret Spooner

“Margaret!” Sarah called from behind me.

I was walking back toward Carrington Manor on my own after what had been a trying day at school. I had spent the last hour craving the solitary walk where I would finally be able to sort my thoughts out in peace. So many things have been happening lately that my mind is not focused as it should be.

I did not slow my pace for her to catch up. She ran though and it made no difference.

“Margaret, is everything all right?” She asked.

It is touching that she even thinks to ask. Most would take my well being for granted.

“As well as to be expected. I’m sorry I’ve been trying to work some things out.” I said.

I do not know why I was so candid with her. With anyone else, I would have been more guarded, even Edgar, especially Edgar.

“If I can help?” Sarah asked.

I rewarded her with a faint smile although it was somewhat forced.

“I am afraid there is nothing that anyone can help me with.” I said.

“I can’t make your choices for you, but I’d be willing to listen if you wanted to talk.”

“That’s very kind of you but these are things best kept to one’s self.”

“I understand.” She said.

I do not believe she does.

“I need some assistance with a matter but I do not wish to burden you.” She said.

“If I can help, I will.” I replied.

There is always something when a girl speaks to me. It never fails but at least she is polite.

“Edgar is the editor of the Paper.” She said.

It was not a question but it felt like a bad omen. I nodded affirmative.

“I need to locate the printing press without anyone knowing.” She said.

My eyes might well have popped free of their sockets.

“Excuse me.” I coughed.

“The printing press.” She repeated.

“What makes you think he would trust me with its location?”

She scoffed.

“I have no doubt he would not, but you do not seem the blind sort.” She said.

I smiled a real smile. It is nice to know that at least one person sees beyond the studious girl exterior to the curiosity that rules my every hour.

“It is true I have a good idea of its location, but it is a dangerous secret and one that is not be traded easily.” I said.

“I have been consulting with some others and we believe it is time Primrose had its own periodical, however securing a press would be prohibitive. If we could borrow one however…” She trailed off.

“I see and what would this periodical contain?” I asked.

“Articles about issues which matter to women.” She said.

Admittedly, I have toyed with the idea myself but felt without trusted help it would be futile. Can I trust Sarah and her friends?

“I want in.” I said.

She smiled.

“I thought you would say that. You would be the best person to write about health issues.” She said.

“You are not what you seem, are you?”

“I don’t try to be anything but what I am. Maybe you just aren’t seeing with open eyes.”

“Are you behind this?” I asked.

I handed her the scribbled note I had retrieved from Edgar’s trash while he was not looking.

“No, what is it?”

“If you’ll go with me, we will find out together.” I said.

Settling Into Place

October 29, 1896
Elizabeth Bassett

“Margaret.” I said.

The three girls looked at me as though I had lost my mind.

“Margaret is engaged to the editor of the paper.” I clarified.

“How do you know that?” Penelope asked.

“How could you not know it? It’s been the talk of the manor since we arrived for the term.” I replied.

Sarah nodded her support while Edith appeared to be as out of the loop as Penelope. Odd that Sarah and I would be in on gossip they had both missed. I almost felt ashamed.

“If anyone knows or can find out where that press is, it’s Margaret.” I said.

“Will she help us?” Edith asked.

“Yes.” Sarah replied before I could.

I looked at her quizzically. She shrugged.

“She was the first person here who didn’t try to beat me down.” She said.

“Are we sure we want to ignore this?” Edith said holding up the paper again.

“Are you having second thoughts?” I asked.

“If we are right, ignoring it is the best thing to do but if we are wrong, what can we do to protect ourselves short of what they expected us to do?” Edith asked.

“We could take it to the Dean.” Penelope suggested.

“Wouldn’t that start the same process taking it to the sheriff would?” I asked.

“No, but it could easily get beyond our ability to control still.” Edith said.

“What about the Carrington’s?” I asked.

“No, I don’t trust them.” Sarah said.

It was the first time she had said it since we had gathered but we all knew her feelings toward them were not positive. I wanted to ask why but the timing was not right even though I am certain everyone in the room shared my curiosity. I had complete faith in them during my previous term at Primrose but when I consider my current feelings I find that even my own trust in them is not the absolute it once was. Perhaps it is Sarah’s cautiousness rubbing off on me or perhaps I too sense something is not quite right with them. Still, I look forward to exploring it with Sarah in the future.

“What about Mr. Birchwood?” Edith asked.

“What about him?” Penelope asked.

“He can be discreet and he would certainly be interested in putting a stop to something like this?” Edith replied.

“True he did help us before, but how do you know he won’t go straight to the Dean or the sheriff himself with it.” I asked.

“He won’t because I’ll explain our concerns to him.” Edith said.

“Is there some reason your request would matter to him more than doing what he thinks is right?” Sarah asked.

“I was his assistant during the summer. We have a good relationship and there is understanding between us.” Edith said.

“Then it’s settled. Sarah will find the printing press through Margaret and Edith will arrange to secure the person or persons responsible for our love note through Mr. Birchwood.” I said.

“And the two of you can start writing a few articles for our soon to be periodical.” Sarah said looking at Penelope and I.

We groaned simultaneously to Sarah’s twinkling smile. I tried to sound like I was in charge and making the decisions but with one simple sentence and smile she put me back in place and made it clear that she would always be our leader whether we wanted to acknowledge it or not.

Power Of The Press

October 28, 1896
Penelope Sumter

I started pacing the floor in Edith’s room after she finished reading our advanced edition of Brown’s in-house news circulation. I have known of the Paper’s existence since I first came to Primrose, in fact it is something of a running joke that the super secret underground paper ends up in the hands of everyone from staff to students to Primrose Girls. An idea was forming in my head and then suddenly it all clicked together. With a brilliant smile I turned to face the others snapping my fingers in an imitation of my father.

“I’ve got an idea and ya’ll are going to love it.” I said.

They all gave me their undivided attention from their. It was disturbing to be stared at so intently by three women. So disturbing, I nearly forgot was I was about to suggest. Devious thoughts are my repertoire but mostly my plots are against other young ladies I deem to be competition not the men I am hoping to one day swindle into marrying me.

“Were you going to share your idea or was it just an announcement?” Sarah asked.

Apparently, they have not heard of patience in Colorado for the girl has none. Down south we know all things come in their own time and rushing never does nothing but raise a sweat above your brow. That is definitely not becoming on a lady.

“I was merely collecting my thoughts before speaking. It is considered wise in some circles to think before you speak, not that I would expect you to know.” I said.

“That’s enough, Penelope. If you have something to say, say it otherwise I’d say we better get this to the sheriff before it starts circulating everywhere and we’ve got mobs hunting us down with thoughts of burning us at the stake.” Edith said.

“Don’t be ridiculous nobody will take this seriously.” Elizabeth said.

“The written word has a way of legitimizing even the most buffoonish of ideas.” Sarah said.

“That’s is precisely my point.” I said.

All three of them glared at me and shouted, “What point!”

“We should start our own circulation.” I said.

“That’s illegal.” Edith said.

“Only if we get caught.” Sarah replied.

“Where would get printing equipment?” Elizabeth asked.

“It was just a thought.” I said, shrugging.

“What would we write about?” Edith asked.

“Issues that matter to us.” Sarah said.

“The election.” Elizabeth said.

“Marriage.” I offered.

All three groaned at me. You would think not a one of them had even the humblest aspirations to find a man and raise a family of their own. I do not disagree with them in that women should have many of the rights of men, but I still believe it is our duty to one day become mothers and have sons and daughters. There is no greater way to change this world than to raise a new generation without the shackles with which we have been raised.

“Finances, science, birth control.” Edith offered.

I rolled my eyes at the last.

“It is a good idea, but one that needs direction and planning.” Sarah said.

“There is still this threat.” Elizabeth said, holding up the Paper.

“Is it a threat?” Sarah asked.

“What are you thinking?” Edith asked.

“It would be seen as an irresponsible article even by the male authorities at Brown. Should it go into circulation those authorities might find they could no longer safely ignore the existence of the Paper.” Sarah said.

“You think it was a joke of some sort?” Elizabeth asked.

“No, I think it was bait.” Sarah replied.

I nodded as it made sense to me.

“They were hoping we’d go running to the sheriff which would start an all out investigation to find and shut down the secret press. The students would blame us. We’d do more damage to our reputations than they could ever do with an article.” I said.

Sarah nodded at me.

“We need to find the press and I think I know how.” Elizabeth said.

Early Edition

October 27, 1896
Edith Bowen

There was a knock on the door. The three girls looked at me as though the interruption were somehow my fault, but I had no more knowledge of who was knocking than they. I almost said as much but then bit my tongue and simply stood up and crossed the short distance to the door. I opened it more abruptly than I had planned.

I stared out into the hallway. There was no one in sight. At my feet were four crushed roses laying atop a folded newspaper. Curious I picked it up and carried it inside, closing the door as I went.

“What is it?” Elizabeth asked for everyone.

“I’m not certain.” I replied.

I sat the collection down on my desk and carefully brushed the roses and their petals off. It was a copy of the Paper, an advanced edition as the date at the top was October 31. My companions were not patient enough to wait for me to announce what I discovered. Instead they surrounded me at the desk and peered over me.

I began to read aloud;

Our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to our neighbors of Providence. The recent weeks have been a particular hardship and while I do not support the use of violence to solve disputes I can clearly understand the reasons it became unavoidable to some. These are hard days and hard times.

In the new we read about the value of our money and how one man wishes to devalue it further than it already has been by eliminating the gold standard upon which it is based. He sings songs of discord to rally the labor forces against those who pay their wages and provide the labor for them to do. It is senseless and irresponsible but what more can be expected from a Democrat?

It is perhaps fortunate that they have gone too far now. In their desire to re-invent America as a classless society, they now push forward women. They have realized the futility of gaining popularity for absurd economic plans with men and now they wish to push forward women. The innocence of our wives and daughter will be used against us.

There exist four of them in our sister college all ready. I will not name them for should something untoward happen to any of them I would not wish to be responsible. They are a corruption on all those they encounter. They fight, they curse, they labor, and they believe they are equal to men.

In days past they would be known as witches and their close relation called a covenant. Our modern knowledge tells us there is no such thing, that magic is not real and a woman’s power of a man is nothing more than pheromones. Science is our savior, but does explanation invalidate the classification of women who attempt to benefit from the now explainable techniques of witchcraft? This man thinks not. As the great William Shakespeare wrote, “Would not a rose by any other name smell as sweet?”

I finished reading and sat back in my desk chair. We looked at each other and it was clear we were all feeling the same thing, annoyed. Why would someone write this story and why would they deliver it to us days before it is to be circulated?

“How dare he call us witches.” Penelope said.

“I’m sure it was a substitution for the word he really wanted to use.” Sarah replied.

I laughed, knowing what she meant.

“What word is that?” Elizabeth asked.

“You’ll sleep better not knowing.” I said.

Elizabeth frowned at me. Penelope seemed to be off in her own world though. She started pacing the floor and then suddenly turned to face us as she snapped her fingers.

“I’ve got an idea and ya’ll are going to love it.” Penelope said.

Still Hard To Say

October 26, 1896
Sarah Waters

“Most people are the decent sort. They are good in their hearts and in their souls and that’s really where it matters cause we all make mistakes sometimes but if the intentions are good then it is easy to understand and easier to forgive. Now run along Sarah and make up with your friend.” My father said.

It was a long time ago but I still remember the day. It was warm in the sun but summer was coming to an end. Laura and I had spent the morning and the better part of the afternoon playing under the watchful eye of Jasper. Laura took a bite out of an apple and then decided to give the rest to Jasper. Jasper didn’t like it too much as he decided to spit it out on the ground and when I looked at it I realized why, it was rotten.

I started the fight. In my view she started when she tried to give Jasper the rotten apple but when you look back at things you did when you were younger, your perspective can change and sometimes you see a little clearer. I was angry at the time and Laura took a beating from my hands not to mention the fistful of hair I pulled out of her head before Sam and Dad broke it up.

I did not much like it at the time but Dad was right, nobody had bad intentions that day. A single instance of poor judgment does not make a person bad and as far as the poor judgment went, I was just as guilty as Laura. Before the sun went down we were the best of friends again and until today I had never given the incident another thought.

Miss Bowen provided the venue in her room for our meeting. Sitting down in a civil meeting with Edith, Elizabeth and Penelope feels more comfortable than I would have imagined. Dad’s words rang true of these women and once again it was my turn to apologize for assuming the worst. It may be easy to forgive those with good hearts but asking for forgiveness never comes easy.

I looked at the floor because it was less daunting than the faces looking back at me. I wrung my hands together in my lap as though the action would extract my guilt and unburden my conscience. Thinking of my dad I found the courage to lift my head and say the words weighing down upon me.

“I am sorry for how I have acted toward you, toward everyone here. It is not an excuse but the things that have happened to me this year have left me cynical. That is not who I want to be and I should have remembered that it is the truly evil people who are rare and not the truly good ones.” I said.

Edith nodded at me. It was her turn to wrestle within herself and find the courage to speak. This was no more an everyday occurrence for here than it was for me or for the others, but we all agreed the air had to be cleared. Trust must be earned.

“I am sorry. I should have been more open-minded and not assumed the worst because of appearances.” Edith said.

I nodded to her my acceptance and then we turned out attention to Elizabeth. She blushed a little as we looked at her and shifted uncomfortably in her seat.

“I’m sorry I’ve behaved irrationally around you because I allowed myself to be jealous.” Elizabeth said.

It was not only I who was shocked by this revelation. Knowing my own life as I do it is difficult to believe anyone could envy me for anything, but perhaps there is something alluring about my life from the outside looking in.

“Jealous? Of me? Why?” I asked.

Elizabeth showed no signs of a weight being lifted for her apology. In fact she appeared infinitely more uncomfortable as her cheeks blushed a vibrant red and she stared down at the floor avoiding our questioning gazes.

“It’s not important. It was silly and I am over it.” Elizabeth said.

Coming to her rescue, Penelope cleared her throat and drew attention to herself. She spoke quickly and unlike the rest of us, showed no sign of discomfort.

“I am sorry for treating you as a servant. It wouldn’t of happened if you would have taken just a little time with your appearance but I should not have been so judgmental.” Penelope said.

“I think we can agree all is forgiven?” I said.

Three heads nodded in agreement.

“Then I think it’s about time we got down to the real business. After what has happened here recently I don’t think the trouble Mr. Howe was talking about will be gunning just for me. It’s time we figure out what we know.” I said.

A knock on the door stopped us from going any further.

When It Rains

October 25, 1896
Anna Cushing

The first real storm of the season came. You could feel it tingling in the air from the early hour of the morning and it was no surprise when the first bolts of lightning flashed across the sky. Everything turned gray and black. Rain drops fell free, landing in giant drops creating instant puddles in the dirt path to the stable.

I hurried along with a napkin full of carrots for Poseidon. My clothing was drenched by the time I entered the safety of the stable. The horses stirred as the thunder boomed in the distance. I shook from the wet and the cold sending a spray of water from my hair.

I thought I was alone when I started feeding Poseidon his treats. I was wrong. I heard the footstep behind me and nearly jumped out of my skin as I spun around to see who was there. I expected Mr. Carrington or maybe one of the girl, but not a stranger.

She was dressed in black from head to toe. A hood covered her head and she kept her face in its shadow. She seemed both young and old at the same time as though life had aged her more quickly than it should have. I could not see her eyes but I could feel them burning into me. Her voice was soft, like a whisper when she spoke.

“You shouldn’t trust her.” She said.

The accent was familiar but in my startled state I did not place it straight away.

“Who?” I asked.


“What does she matter to you?”

“She’ll betray you, like she has betrayed everyone she has ever known.” She said.

Then it connected. It was Sarah’s accent but she was clearly not Sarah.

“Who are you?”


“What do you want from me?” I asked feeling frustrated.

“This is for you.” She said.

She handed me a folded up newspaper. At the top it said Denver Post, May 31, 1896. I unfolded it to a headline reading, Woman Shoots And Kills Sheriff. I returned my attention to the woman in front of me.

“I don’t understand?” I said.

“Read it and you will. I must go, but we shall meet again, Miss Cushing.” She said.

She turned away and for just a moment the lantern light revealed part of her face. It was horribly scarred and I gasped. Her hand pulled her hood tighter and she hurried out of the stable and into the darkness without a further word. I wished I could have offered her some comfort or sympathy but something tells me she would not have wanted either.

Alone again, I read the story. It was about Sarah and her father. In black and white the facts were told, but they must be missing something because the courts do not let murderers go free. Should I tell Sarah about my encounter or should I wait and see what will happen next? I am torn but maybe the scarred stranger is correct, maybe I should not trust anyone at all.

Correlative Encouragement

October 24, 1896
Margaret Spooner

I trembled just looking at his angry face. The barely controlled rage would soon be unleashed upon me. I looked for a place to run, failing that I wished to hide, but there was no place for me. He grabbed the bare flesh of my arm and squeezed it to the bone. I cried out in pain and fear.

A moment later I was facing the floor laying over his lap. His powerful arms keeping me still despite the adrenaline running through my veins and my futile attempts to struggle free. He raised a doubled over belt high in the air and slapped it down on the exposed flesh of my buttocks. I screamed at the burning pain but to no effect. He repeated the beating over and over until all I felt was broken and bruised. I hung my head low and cried for the shame of it.

When it was over I sobbed apologies I did not mean and pretended regret. All I felt was shame and anger. The physical wounds will heal in time but the scars are deeper than the flesh. How will I face him again without flushing red?

“Get dressed.” Edgar ordered.

I felt small and childish waiting for permission to cover myself and then smaller still as I scrambled to dress at his command. What happened to the nice young man I fell in love with last year?

He stalked from the room opening the door to the hallway outside without any consideration for my modesty. I shuddered expecting a barrage of laughter from beyond the four walls of my torment, but there was only the echo of Edgar’s boots on the floor.

A few moments later the door opened again and Mrs. Carrington entered. She smiled sympathetically at me. I wished to return the smile but her sympathy only drowned me further in shame. Tears fell anew from my eyes and I began the uncontrollable sobs of deep emotional pain. She held me to her and offered comfort in small pats and gently rubbing on my back.

When at last the sobs subsided and I was once again in control I hugged her tightly one last moment and then pulled away. She offered me a tissue for my face which I took without hesitation. I blushed under her gaze even though I knew she understood. Embarrassment does not give way for mere understanding.

Presentable, I walked from the room pretending nothing had happened. I smiled at Edgar at the end of the hall and took his proffered arm. Side by side we walked out the front door and down the steps to his waiting carriage. He guided me into it without a word.

As it started off down the street there was only the sounds of hoofs and wheels on gravel. I wanted to flee his company but the consequences were more than I could manage. I shifted uncomfortable in my seat, more from awkwardness than pain but both were present.

“I’m sorry I had to do that, Maggie.” He said.

His eyes were like those of a lost puppy dog. My angry heart melted despite myself.

“I’m sorry too.” I said.

The words held as little meaning as they did before but they sounded of sincerity.

“You understand I cannot have my future wife cavorting with an underground feminist movement.”

He held the note up he had found in my room. How he knew what it was and who it was from when I did not, baffled me. All things considered, I am more likely to find my way there now than I was before. If Edgar knew the effect he had on me, would he do things differently?

And Then There Were Four

October 23, 1896
Edith Bowen

It was not that I expected William Howe to hang for his crimes, but I did not expect he would walk free only a week later. Much as I am loathe to admit it, Sarah Waters was right about him and by extension she must also be right about Mr. Parker. It is disillusioning to think I once thought he might hold answers about my past and my parents. Clarity reveals his only gift would be lies that served his purpose more than mine. As to what that purpose might be, I do not yet know.

It was at dinner time when Mr. Howe paid his visit to us. Miss Sumter had only just returned from her stint in the city with her brother and the manor was beginning to feel as it always has, safe. I think Sarah saw him first. She stood up and crossed the floor to stand between him and everyone else.

“I would say I am surprised, but I am not. Your bosses corruption knows no bounds.” Sarah said.

“You could just say your happy to see me.” Mr. Howe replied.

“Lies won’t keep you safe from me.”

“You’re not a threat to me. You never have been.”

“I could say the same of you. Now get to the point and leave or you can just leave.”

Mr. Howe chuckled. It was almost like he was taunting her, trying to provoke her in some way.

“You always had a way with words, Miss Waters. I’ll miss that.” Mr. Howe said.

“Be still my heart, could this truly be our last goodbye?” Sarah mocked.

“You’ve gone and made some very powerful men very angry.”

“Mr. Parker is only one man, no matter how large his head has become.”

“True but he’s not really anyone you are worried about either, is he?”

“Who should I be worried about then?”

“Even if I knew their names I wouldn’t be dumb enough to say them. I just came here to warn you.”

Sarah scoffed at him.

“Warn me? I didn’t know you cared.”

“They won’t be coming to break your spirit, they’ll be coming to kill you. If you want to live, you’ll pack your bags tonight and get on the first train out of here.”

“You knew my father Mr. Howe. Do you think he would run?”

“I thought you might say that.” Mr. Howe said.

He drew his gun and pointed it right at Sarah. She did not even flinch. Elizabeth Bassett and Penelope Sumter, of all people, came to stand at Sarah’s back. I walked forward as well hanging just behind them. There was a sense of strength I have never felt before as the four of stood so close together facing this man and his gun. He felt it as well, it was written on his face.

“Sarah, I’m asking you nicely this one time. Come with me. I can protect you, but I can’t do it here.” Mr. Howe said.

“She’s staying here.” Penelope said.

“Take your own advice and head out of town.” Elizabeth said.

“We protect each other here, Mr. Howe. We don’t need you or your kind.” I said.

He looked at each of us in turn. The surprised look on his face said it all.

“I think it’s time you were leaving, Mr. Howe.” Sarah said.

“That it is.” Mr. Howe holstered his gun, “Your father knew these men. You might want to prepare yourself to use what he knew because nothing short of a miracle is going to keep you alive.”

With that cryptic message he turned on heal and marched out of the manor. Sarah turned to face us and for the first time since I have known her, she did not look angry.

“You didn’t have to do that.” Sarah said.

“You’re right, we didn’t.” Penelope said.

“Haven’t you ever had a friend?” Elizabeth asked.

“A Primrose Girl never stands alone.” I said.

Sarah smiled with the glistening of a tear in her eye.

“Thank you.” She whispered.

In-Laws Out

October 22, 1896
Charles Birchwood

It was scarcely 9AM when the knock on the door came. Had I know what was to follow I likely would never have opened the door. Strange as it seems, it is these small decisions which set our course and indeed, control the very world we live in.

“Charles, good to see you son. Stand aside, stand aside.” Mr. Pauper rambled as I opened the door.

Shocked, surprised and annoyed, I stepped aside to allow him entry.

“Dad! What are you doing here?” Caroline asked.

I turned to give her a warning look for her rather rude greeting. It is no matter I was thinking the same, it is imperative that such thoughts not be given voice. Caroline visibly paled, but I am not certain if it was the look I gave her or the one her father gave her.

Orville Pauper squeezed himself through the doorway by holding his breath and sucking his gut in. It was almost not enough and I instantly entertained the horrid thought that he might be unable to leave. He sucked air recovering his former glory and all the while continued to glare at his daughter, my wife.

“We must have a word in private, Charles.” He said once he stopped wheezing.

Caroline’s outburst was indeed rude but his pointed ignoring of it and unannounced visit seemed just as rude if not more so. Still, it is better to politely smile than antagonize a man who could crush your entire body under the weight of a single leg.

“Of course, this way.” I said and led him toward my private study of the living room.

Caroline started to follow until our eyes met. Then she turned and headed up the stairs. She is learning although sometimes slower than others.

In my study Mr. Pauper sat on my desk causing it to creak under the strain. I stepped to the bookshelf where I keep a bottle of whiskey for entertaining purposes.

“Drink?” I asked.

“Not today.” He replied.

I was surprised. It is the first time since I have known Caroline’s father that he has turned down anything meant to be swallowed.

“Pleasantries aside then, allow me to echo my wife. Why are you here?”

“I’ve had some disturbing news and I came to learn the truth from the rumors.”

“And what have you been hearing?”

“Caroline is attending college here?” He asked.


“Why on God’s Earth would you allow it?”

The desk moaned as his weight shifted.

“Not that it is any of your concern but I have never before seen Caroline take an interest in my work. I can see no downside to her expanding her knowledge.”

“Are you blind or just daft?”

“You are a guest in my home Orville.” I said.

“Stop pretending you have a spine, you married my daughter. I know better.”

“I think you can leave now.”

“You think? I believe not. Sending my daughter to college does not speak well of thinking nor do your recent actions, siding with the harlots of Primrose against your country.”

“Your daughter is my wife and she is no longer your concern. What I allow her to do or not do is solely my discretion and I have not sought nor do I desire your council. As to matters of taking sides against my country, I choose to take offense at the suggestion I am not loyal to it. What I will side against is easily manipulated masses eager to do violence against defenseless women.”

“You talk big now. You don’t know what you are up against or the hell you are about to bring down on yourself and your family. If you have any sense in your head, you will resign immediately and get your family as far away from here as possible.”

“That sounds like a threat Orville. Perhaps I should report it as such in light of the recent riots.”

“You’ve been warned. I’m washing my hands of the whole lot of you. You are not a smart man Charles, you are not a brave man. If you don’t listen to me now, I promise you will regret it for the rest of your life.” He said.

The desk emitted a cracking sound as he pushed himself off of it and headed for the front door at a falling boulder’s pace. He began squeezing himself out the front door and I had to fight the urge to laugh.

“Get out of my home and don’t ever come back.” I said.

I slammed the door closed even as he was extracting the last parts of himself from the doorway. I heard him shout and the loud sound of tumbling lard on wood. When he hit the ground at the bottom of the stairs I could feel a low rumble in the floor. I looked down to see my fist was clenched and my knuckles were white. I do not much like being told what to do and even less being insulted in my own home.

Civil Words

October 21, 1896
Elizabeth Bassett

I was nervous. Knowing that I would find her and that I had every advantage did nothing to calm my tingling nerves. There is just something about Sarah Waters that leaves me feeling inadequate. I will never make the difference I want to achieve on my own, but maybe with Sarah I can still be a part of the change for which we are waiting.

It is a hard thing to accept. I am jealous of her and I know it is wrong. More important, the man I have allowed to stand between us is not what he seems. Jonathon Goulding is at best a liar and at worst a thug. In either case, he does not deserve my heart nor hers. But, knowing a thing does not diminish the pain or cause the heart to love any less.

I saw her shadow on the sidewalk. I stepped out into the lamp light before I could change my mind. She stopped in her tracks and regarded me cautiously. She said nothing as she looked me over, no doubt searching for weaknesses.

“I didn’t mean to startle you.” I said.

“Then you should not have leapt from the shadows at night.” She replied.

“I wanted to speak with you.”

“And so we are speaking.”

“You were very brave last week.”

“Bravery is doing what is right even when it is not easy or popular. What I did was what I had to do. That is called surviving.”

“You could just say thank you.”

“For a compliment you do not mean and I do not deserve? No thank you.”

“You are determined to be difficult.”

“Just honest. Say what it is you came here to say and stop wasting our time.”

“Fine. I don’t like you. You are constantly rude and condescending to everyone in sight. You obviously don’t care about your appearance and you look down upon those who do. I guess you think you are better than the rest of us, but you are not. You are just another Primrose girl, just like the rest of us that you seem to despise.”

“Have you been waiting a long time to say that to me? Do you think I care what you think or what anyone thinks? Do you?”

“No, I know you don’t. You think you are special and maybe you are.”

“Maybe you should get to your point, if you have one that is.”

“Look, I can see you aren’t like everyone else. You don’t talk about being equal to men like a dreamer does. You prove it to them and to everyone else in everything you do and everything you say. I’m not like you but sometimes I wish I were.”

“You don’t want to be like me. I don’t want to be like me.”

“It’s like Mr. Bryan says, we all have our cross to bear. You are right though, I don’t know what happened to you to make you who you are and I probably don’t want to know. What I do want is to make a difference for the girls here at Primrose and maybe beyond.”

“Do you know what making a difference is?”

“I’m going to guess our definitions are a bit askew.”

Sarah laughed.

“It’s not the definition that is the problem, it is the aftermath.” She said.

“There is a price for change. I understand that. What I can’t understand is why you think it is not worth it.”

“Then you are an idiot. Not fifty years ago this country nearly tore itself apart over the concept of freedom. The result is a piece of paper declaring all men are equal and free but the writing on the page does not make the words truth nor does it make them reality. Thousands of men died for that page to be written but ask anyone who knew them, who loved them, and they will tell you that no amount of change was worth one drop of blood that was spilled.”

“And what if we asked the slave who has now a free man?”

“He would tell you a piece of paper does not make a man free.”

“So what does?”

“Belief. It starts there at least I think.”

“Well, if you ever change your mind and decide you want to be a part of something bigger than yourself, you know where to find me.”

“All things change in time. Have patience.”

“We’ve been waiting long enough.” I said.

A Secret Visitor

October 20, 1896
Margaret Spooner

Mr. Carrington took me into Providence. I have not gone often and it still feels foreign to me even after more than two years at Primrose College. I looked out the carriage’s window as traveled toward Dr. Adams’ clinic. The city showed obvious signs of the recent riots, from broken windows to still smoldering ashes of fires. I find it difficult to understand how the people could ever have thought wrecking destruction on their own city would gain them sympathy or anything at all.

“Matters have quieted down now. You will be safe as long as you do not wander off.” Mr. Carrington said.

The carriage was slowing to a stop, indicating we were arriving.

“I know.” I said.

The driver opened the door for me and Mr. Carrington pointed toward a door just a few paces in front of me.

“Dr. Adams will be in there. I will be back in one hour. Stay inside with the Doc until then.” He instructed.

I nodded and turned my back on Mr. Carrington and the carriage. Inside the clinic, there was no sign of the destruction in the streets outside. It was as if the clinic was some kind of sanctuary. I immediately felt safe and feeling safe made me worried that I was not safe, but Dr. Adams put my irrational fears to bed.

“Miss Spooner, I presume?” He said.


“Welcome. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”

“Thank you, Doctor Adams.”

I felt awkward standing before him and was not sure what I should say or do. I think my face must have said it all clearer than I could ever have said.

“Relax Miss Spooner you are among friends. I understand you have aspirations of joining the medical profession.”

His tone did not carry the usual condescension I hear when my aspirations are discussed. I smiled at the thought there might be at least one person in the world who did not consider me craze and moreover that the one person was himself a doctor.

“I cannot think of anything I would do with my life.” I said.

“Peter, the boy you helped, owes you his life. I have to admit I was astounded to learn a woman had treated his injuries but you did everything right.”

I blushed despite myself at the backhanded praise.

“He is recovering well then?” I asked.

“As well as can be expected. The arm looks to be healing as it should but I remain concerned about the leg. His fever has cooled but it remains and unless it subsides entirely I will have to keep a careful watch.”

I nodded.

“Have you set broken bones before?”

“No, it was my first time. I have read about it.”

“You did excellent and the immobilization points you chose were perfect. If you ever want to apprentice I would be pleased to have you in my clinic.”

I blushed again.

“Thank you, Doctor.”

He smiled and there was such warmth in his smile that I felt completely at ease. It was like I was home only without the stress of my mother.

“I’m sure Peter would like to see you. He is through there, I will join you in a few minutes?” He said.

I nodded and headed through the doorway Dr. Adams had indicated.

The boy, Paul, was asleep. He looked pale but his face was no longer contorted with pain and anger. Peaceful was the word. I brushed the hair back on his forehead and then took the hand from his uninjured arm in my own.

“Remarkable, is it not?” A crackling woman’s voice said from behind me.

I dropped Peter’s hand and nearly jumped out of my skin. I had not realized anyone else was in the clinic besides the Doctor.

“I am sorry. I did not mean to startle you.” She said.

I turned to face her.

“Quite all right. I did not realize anyone else was here.” I said.

She did not look like a nurse, she was dressed conservatively in a brown dress with white lace. Her hair was covered by a red scarf. She seemed to old to be Peter’s mother but perhaps she was his grandmother.

“You saved his life.” She said, nodding at the sleeping boy.

“Your grandson?” I asked.

She smiled.

“No. I do not know him at all.”

“Oh.” I said surprised.

“I came to see you Margaret.”

“Have we met? Do you know my mother?”

“The last time we met, you were very small and yes, your mother and I were friends a long time ago.”

“I’m sorry I seem to have forgotten your name?” I said.

“I can see your mother’s feistiness in you but it is tempered by your father’s reserve. You will do doubt make an excellent doctor someday.”

She handed me a folded piece of paper. I began to unfold it.

“Leave it for now. Keep it hidden until you are alone.” She said.

“What is it?” I asked, stuffing it inside a pocket.

“An opportunity.” She said.

Peter groaned and I turned my attention to him for a moment.

“Was he awake?” Dr. Adams asked.

I looked back at the doorway to see him standing in it alone. The old woman was gone. I must have looked confused.

“I thought I heard you talking.” He said.

“Oh, I was talking with the older woman.” I said.

He looked confused.

“What older woman?” He asked.

“I did not get her name but she was just here. Surely you saw her?”

He shook his head. I reached into my pocket and my fingers confirmed the paper she had given me was still there. I almost pulled it out to show to him but then remembered she had said to keep it hidden.

Dr. Adams quickly checked through the clinic looking for the woman but she was not to be found. I think he believes I made her up although he did not say so directly. In any regard, he barely took his eyes off of me during the rest of my visit and when Mr. Carrington arrived the two men chatted in hushed whispers and gave sporadic looks in my direction.

Searching For Reflection

October 19, 1896
Penelope Sumter

Wilbur thought it was best if I stayed with him in the city for a few days after the riot last week. Classes were cancelled and after seeing that mob bearing down on Carrington Manor I was not disposed to argue with him. I suggested we invite Lizzie also but Wilbur insisted it would not be proper. That would be his subtle way of indicating he has an interest in her.

I still believe he is wasting his energies on her, but he is still in the mode of denying his interest in her. He insists his only interest in Miss Bassett is her ability to influence me. As if she could!
Wilbur is clearly torn between scolding me and congratulating me on a brilliant plan. His idea of compromise is to do neither and spend half his time scowling at me and the other pretending nothing happened. At least he decided not to inform father, although I suspect father will know well in advance of our upcoming trip home for the holiday season. Not much happens that he does not know about and even less where I am concerned.

Naturally, being in the city and free from school obligations, I went shopping. It was something of a disappointment with more than half the shops closed and the best shops well looted of their finest items. The act itself was enjoyable regardless and were it not for the occasional reminder through broken glass and empty displays, I could have completely forgotten about the recent troubles.

By mid-afternoon I was bored with browsing. It seems there was not an item in town which I desired that had not been either stolen or broken. The trail of open shops had led me close to the harbor and upon exiting the last shop I decided a walk along the boardwalk was in order. It is not the best of places for a lady to wander alone, but I am feeling a good deal braver after my success just last week.

As I walked along, I was amazed by the number of ships I could see in the harbor. Never before had I seen so many ships in one place. Looking around the reason became obvious, there was no one working the docks. No dock workers, no one to unload or load the ships with goods.

I stopped walking and stared out at the ships and the empty docks. The more I took it in the more I understood. It might not seem like much to the workers in Providence but the goods sitting in the harbor and the goods waiting in storage yards near the docks will only exasperate the already strained economics. With that thought came a crazier thought, maybe I was on the wrong side of last week’s dispute. A stand off between the laborers and the business owners will only weaken everyone.

“Excuse me.” An old woman said, interrupting my thoughts.

She looked out of place. Her attire was conservative but classy. She wore a red scarf over her graying hair which was tied up in a way that hid its length. Her eyes seemed kind and the way she looked at me, made me feel like I was being measured.

“Can I help you?” I asked.

“It is kind of you to offer child, but it is not I who is lost.”

“I am not lost.” I reassured her.

“I know who you are child and you are more lost than you know.”

“Who are you?”

“Someone whom your father would prefer you did not know.”

“You know my father?”

“I know of him. Does that concern you?”

“What concerns me is you think you know me and we have never met before.”

“You are Miss Penelope Sumter of South Carolina. Your father is worried that you will embrace that which he fights against.”

“And what is that?”

“Take this,” She pushed a folded piece of paper into my hand. “there is a meeting and that is your invitation.”

“A meeting about what?”

“You have a choice, you can embrace a path to fulfill your potential or you can hide in the shadow of your father. If you will take some advice from an old woman, you cannot hide from yourself.”

“You think you know me better than I know myself?”

She laughed at me. I frowned.

“Do you know why you put that machine in front of the mob?”

“How do you know about that?”

“I know why you did it.”

“Are you going to tell me?”

“No, you will have to figure it out for yourself for it to mean anything.”

“For wanting to help me, you sure don’t answer my questions very well.”

“My help is to get you to realize the questions you should be asking. The answers you will have to find for yourself.”

The woman began walking away.

“You never said who you are.” I called to her.

She smiled at me for a moment.

“A long time ago, I was someone just like you.”

When Confidence Strikes

October 18, 1896
Margaret Spooner

My father once asked me, “Besides God, what do you believe in?”

“Science.” I replied without thinking or understanding.

My father had chuckled at me and shook his head but he pressed the issue no further. The memory of the event had faded into obscurity almost immediately. The mere fact I did not understand his question had never even entered my conscious thoughts. If not for a Mr. William Howe, I would likely have never recalled the question nor understood its point nor have known my true answer.

I was sitting in Mr. Carrington’s study. Beside me was a young boy perhaps fourteen or fifteen years old. He was feverish with a broken arm and a broken leg. Mr. Carrington and our good Sheriff had found him in the nearby hills while looking for Miss Waters. The sheriff was supposed to fetch a doctor and in his absence Mrs. Carrington volunteered me to look after the boy.
Her selection of me came as a surprise. She has never been supportive of me in my educational goals. Then, there is her frequent contact with my mother who has never seen fit to allow me to watch over any of my siblings, even when they are healthy. One can only surmise her reaction to the thought of me caring for a sick or injured child.

No matter, I was pleased to be selected and happy to assist in whatever manner I could.
The boy’s broken limbs needed to be set. I realized the importance immediately upon seeing him. It would be best for a doctor to do the setting but the boys condition suggested it had already been several hours since the breaks occurred and time was becoming more and more relevant with a high fever setting in.

“I think we need to try to set the bones.” I said quietly to the sheriff.

“The boy is in enough pain as it is, you just keep him still until I can get the doctor back here.” He replied.

I nodded my head, unwilling to argue with an authority figure. I asked Mrs. Carrington to keep me supplied with some damp cloths. The sheriff left and I took care of the boy as best I could. He moaned from time to time and spouted unintelligible gibberish at me, but for the most part he remained in state of shock and barely clung to consciousness.

The night hours became early morning and then just morning. The house came alive again with girls getting ready for school and then settling down to breakfast. All the while I sat beside the boy and did my best to keep his fever at bay. He began fading in and out of sleep and I began to worry he might not wake up.

There was lots of commotion in the dining hall and I began to wonder what was going on, when finally the sheriff entered again. I looked beyond him and saw there was no one else with him. My fear for the boy doubled.

“How is he, ma’am?” The sheriff asked.

“Not good, his fever is getting worse, his body is shutting down. How long before the doctor gets here?”

“About that, we have a little problem.”

I took a deep breath and braced myself for what could only be bad news.

“The city is having a little worker problem and the doctor is not going to be able to get here until it is resolved.”

“Do you have any idea how long that will be?”

“It’s hard to say.”

“Are there a lot of injured? Is he treating them?”

“No, no, he just can’t get through to here.”

“I don’t understand. Why would a worker problem prevent him from getting here?”

“Because the workers are outside.”

“Blocking the city streets?”

“No, outside, here, in front of the manor.”

I felt the blood leave my face. I turned my attention back to the boy as he moaned to life once again.

“We can’t wait any longer then. I need to set his bones now, it may already be too late.” I said.

“I’m not sure that is a good idea.”

“Unless you suddenly became a doctor in the last few hours, I really don’t give a damn what you think is a good idea or not. This boy is going to die without treatment. Now you can either help me or get the hell out of my way.”

The sheriff blinked at me for a moment like I had lost my mind.

“Okay, what do you need?” He said, finally.

“Two straight pieces of wood, some short lengths of rope, plenty of damp cloths, and a desk ruler.”

He nodded and left. Five minutes later he was back with everything I requested. I laid the first piece of wood under the boys broken arm and took two pieces of rope to secure the board to the boy’s arm at the wrist and the shoulder. Then slowly I straightened the boys arm causing him to scream in agony. Carefully I pressed my fingers against the protruding bone. It didn’t move at first but as I slowly increased the pressure while keeping his elbow from bending the bone moved with a snap. The boy passed out with the whimper of a scream.

I turned my attention to the leg next. I tied the leg to the second board and tried to push the bone back into place with my fingers, but as I had suspected it wouldn’t budge for me. I took another piece of rope and tied it loosely near the protrusion. I then slipped the ruler into the rope and began turning it slowly so that the rope began to tighten against the protruding bone. It took a good number of twists but finally the bone snapped back into place.

Grabbing a damp cloth, I opened the boys mouth and squeezed drops of water from the cloth into his mouth. I knew he would be unconscious for some time but I also knew he needed hydration to help combat the fever. The sheriff watched but said nothing as I worked. The look on his face said enough, he was worried but I had also surprised him.

Right about then I heard to loud pops and Mrs. Carrington scream. The sheriff bolted from the room with his gun in his hand. Part of me realize the situation outside had probably just taken a turn for the worse but strangely I was more worried about the boy than I was about myself.

Not much later and a man burst into the study and slammed the door behind him and locked it. He spun toward me and the boy and pointed a smoking pistol at us. I was too startled to be afraid.

“Get the boy up, he’s coming with me.” The man ordered.

I laughed.

“Now!” He yelled.

“Yell all you like, he isn’t going anywhere.” I said.

“I’ll be the judge of that.”

“See for yourself.”

He took a closer look and by the look on his face he realized the boy was not going to be of any use to him.

“Fine. I guess you’ll be my guest then.” He said.

I shook my head.

“I’m not going anywhere.” I said.

He pulled the hammer back on his pistol and pointed it at my head.

“You are either walking or dying. Your choice.” He said.

As I contemplated death it was my father’s question that came to me, “Besides God, what do you believe in?”

The pistol was only inches from my face and I was not scared. The fact surprised me. In my hand was a damp cloth I had just been using to squeeze water into the boy’s mouth. I did not think, I reacted. I flung the cloth at the back of the pistol. The man pulled the trigger without even blinking. I had no regrets though.

The hammer slammed down on the wet cloth and the instead of propelling a bullet into my head, the pistol merely clicked. Then there was the loud sound of a gunshot and the study door flung open. The sheriff stepped through the door his own pistol now pointed at the head of the man in front of me.

“Drop the gun, Mr. Howe. You’re under arrest.” The sheriff said.

What do I believe in? I looked to the boy who was just then waking up and looking more alive than dead. I looked at the gun on the floor with a damp cloth stuck in it. I believe in the only thing that any of us can truly believe in, myself.

Dousing A Fire

October 17, 1896
Charles Birchwood

The phone buzzed. The phone continued to buzz. The phone buzzed again.

I would have paced but the wire connecting to the wall was far to short for the steps to give any meaningful release of energy. Instead I practiced deep breathing in an effort to calm my nerves. It did not work, but it was at least distracting.

“I am sorry sir. There does not appear to be anyone available.” The operator said.

I sighed frustration.

“I am sorry sir. I can try again if you want?”

“No, never mind. I should have known better than to think this would have saved time.” I said and hung the receiver back on its cradle.

Worthless piece of junk. It is not the telephone’s fault per se but such reckless devices will never be dependable. I should think I would have known that by now. I suppose it is simply in my nature to hope to be proven wrong all the while knowing I am right.

I headed for the door.

“Where are you going?” Caroline asked.

“Carrington Manor.” I replied.

“Do you think it wise?”

“This conversation is pointless, Caroline. Stay here and I will return when it is safe.” I said.

Caroline frowned.

I closed the door and locked it with my key.

I could hear the shouting from more than a block away. As I approached from down the street I could see they had one of the girls. Beyond tangled brown hair I was unable to recognize the poor girl, but unlike what I would expect, she did not seem frightened at all. I think angry would better describe her.

Her hands were bound together with rope. Her dress was torn and as I mention, her hair was nothing short of a mess. She spat at the man nearest her and she must have had pretty good aim because he immediately started wiping his face and spitting on the ground. When he finished, he swung his open palm at her face with a resulting smack that would have floored most men not to mention women. The girl’s head turned to the side and after a moment she spat blood to the ground. My mind raced to find a way to help her.

She turned her head slowly back to the man who had struck her. I am loathe to describe a woman as dangerous but the look on her face was nothing short of it. The man was oblivious to it or simply so stupid as to not understand. She clucked at him.

“Is that the best you’ve got?” She taunted.

The man responded by raising his arm back to strike her again. I shouted to attract attention away from her but I could not even hear my own voice above the mob chanting, “Hit her.”

She kicked the man in the groin and he went down doubled over in any case. Ordinarily I’ would have been sympathetic to the man but not in this case. The girl did not stop with the kick either. She used her bound hands to whack him in the head and send him all the way to the ground. All in all, pretty impressive for a woman.

She was not dumb either. As soon as her attacked was on the ground she started running. The mob had her nearly surrounded but she managed to break through to the street and was heading toward me. I waved at her to indicate I would help. I think she noticed, but then we were both distracted by a roaring sound.

Before I could even wonder what the noise was a dust cloud erupted on the street. The mob stopped chasing the girl in its tracks. As the dust began to settle I recognized an automobile and hitched to it was a fire hose cart. A young man was starting to pump and a young woman I recognized as Miss Bassett had hold of the hose and was pointing it at the crowd. In the driver’s seat of the automobile was the beautiful Penelope Sumter.

I smiled just for seeing her.

“Now Will!” Penelope shouted.

A stream of water poured from the hose into the crowd dousing them and causing a renewed fit of shouting. I quickly saw that the man needed help at the pump or the water pressure would be insufficient to keep the mob at bay. I jumped up on the cart and started pumping.

Miss Sumter joined Miss Bassett at the hose and they continued to wave it across the mob, knocking several of the men down to the ground. The mob began to settle down after a few moments and was trying to simply escape the water. The girl, I then recognized as Miss Waters, joined us on the cart. The young man produced a knife from his boot and cut the rope binding her hands together.

Miss Waters looked out over the crowd with a slight smile on her bruised face.

“You’ve been deceived!” She shouted. “I know times are tough. I know you feel like the more you try the farther you sink. Factories are closing and those that remain are trimming their workforce. Those of you that have jobs are working twice as long as your used to and getting paid half as much and those of you who have lost your jobs are barely hanging on to survive. You look at your families and you feel like you’ve failed them only you can’t figure what it was you did wrong. You want someone to blame. I understand.

Someone comes along, says he’s going to help you. He says he knows who is to blame and so he points to something new, something not everyone understands. A woman’s college. He says, why do women need college? He says, educated women are a threat. He says college women are taking your jobs and depressing your pay. He seems like a smart man so he’s easy to believe. But, he’s a liar.”

“That man,” She pointed to the one she had knocked to the ground who is standing near the front door of Carrington Manor, “he came to my hometown too. He pretends to be your friend. He manipulates you to believe he is on your side but in reality he works for the men that own your factories. His job is to keep you afraid and keep you working on his employer’s terms and not yours. He’s your enemy, not a bunch of young girls interested in books.”

As I looked over the mob, what truly surprised me is they were listening to this girl. She was even making sense to them now that they were listening because they went from staring angrily at us to staring angrily at the man she singled out.

The mob began closing in on the man. He drew his gun and the crowd stopped but they did not back down. He looked desperate and for a moment I thought he was going to just start shooting people. Instead, he turned to the door of Carrington Manor, shot the lock and latch and kicked the door open.

No Way Out

October 16, 1896
Edith Bowen

The sheriff barged in through the front door and slammed it behind him.

“Get all the girls upstairs and into their rooms.” He ordered while bolting the door closed.

Mrs. Carrington and I hesitated for just a moment, looking at each other. First Penelope’s brother and now the sheriff. What the hell was going on? The sheriff looked at us frozen in place and grunted impatience.

“Now, ladies.” He said.

Mr. Carrington entered the hall just as Mrs. Carrington and entered the dining hall and started ushering the girls back to their rooms. The confusion was immense with nearly every girl asking some variation of, “Why?” I ignored the girls largely and tried to pay attention to the men.

“What seems to be the trouble?” Mr. Carrington asked.

“Seems the damn Democrats have gotten us into a full blown labor revolt.” The sheriff replied.

“I don’t see what that would have to do with us.”

“They’re marching this way for starters and they don’t look none to civil about it either. They’ve got your missing girl and they aim to trade her for the boy we found.”

“The boy is here although I’m not sure he should be moving anywhere. It would be best if the Doc were to look at him first. Either way though, I don’t see any reason to not make the trade peacefully.”

“It won’t happen that way. They got ideas about your girls here taking their jobs and keeping the wages low.”

“Where would they get a crazy idea like that?”

“Apparently your missing girl has been working regular hours at the laundry house. From what I hear, she’s not the only one either.”

“That’s impossible, none of the girls have enough free time to manage a job.”

“Impossible or not, that mob believes it.”

The sheriff pointed out the front widow. I gasped as I followed his finger to the mass of men standing in front of the manor. By the looks of it they had the entire front covered and nobody would be getting out the back without them seeing.

“I thought you said they want to make a trade though?” I asked.

The sheriff glanced at me with obvious annoyance.

“They do and as soon as they have what they want they’ll burn this place to the ground. That boy in here is the only thing going to save all of your lives.” He said.

“Is there a plan?” I asked.

Mr. Carrington took the time to look annoyed at me. I shrugged. What did they expect me to do, just cower in a corner and hope everything would be okay?

“I’m working on that.” The sheriff said.

“In the meantime maybe we should send a couple of girls out the back to the stables. They could ride into town for help.” I suggested.

“Anybody in town that could have helped us is standing out front.” He replied.

“Oh.” I said.

“Now you think you could manage to keep quiet for a few minutes?” He asked.

“Yes, sir.” I said.

The sheriff sat down at one of the tables and started an exhaustive process of counting options on his fingers before shaking his head, negating them. From my own perspective I could not see many options. Either we run and risk getting caught in the open or we sit and wait and risk getting burned out. Then it occurred to me, sometimes you have to fight fire with fire.

“You said they are motivated by ideas that the women here are a threat to their jobs and wages, right?”

“I thought you were going to be quiet.” Mr. Carrington said.

I rolled my eyes at him before thinking better of it.

“Yes, I did. What of it?” The sheriff said.

“So what we need to do is prove we aren’t threat.” I said.

“If you have a suggestion on how to accomplish that, I’m all ears.” The sheriff said.

“I’m not sure I know how to change their minds but I would bet Mr. Parker is behind it. He probably used a surrogate but I would bet Miss Waters knows who.”

“I don’t see how that helps us.”

“Simple politics, sheriff. You don’t defend yourself when attacked, you attack right back.”

A bell started ringing. We all jumped and looked around to identify the source. After ruling out the mob on our doorstep our eyes fell on the telephone. It rang again.

Fight Or Flight

October 15, 1896
Penelope Sumter

We swerved to the right narrowly avoiding the angry mob marching down the center of the main street. Wilbur’s knuckles were white on the steering wheel. The angry shouts of the mob behind us left me with a near uncontrollable urge to stand up and shout, “Let them eat cake.” Fortunately the automobile’s velocity and jostling, kept me holding onto my seat rather than vacating it.

I realize now I should have taken the whole situation much more seriously, but at that moment it all seemed more like a comedy. I briefly imagined it was Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein monster somewhere near Carrington Manor or perhaps inside its walls. The only thing missing was a thunderstorm and howling wind, but by the look of the sky, they could both be well on their way.

“We have to go back. We have to help her.” Lizzie said.

Wilbur ignored her.

“Help who?” I asked.

“Sarah.” She said.

“Who?” I asked again.

“Sarah Waters, they had her at the front of that mob.”

“She’s probably leading them.” I said.

“So the rope around her was so she could pull everyone along with her?” Lizzie said.

“I’m sure she’ll be fine.” I said.

I was not sure at all but it seemed the best thing to say at the time.

“Wilbur!” Lizzie shouted and grabbed his shoulder.

“What?” He demanded.

“We have to go back.” She said.

The car skidded to a halt sending a cloud of dust into the air around us. Wilbur turned around to look at Lizzie. I saw his eyes for just a moment and it was then I became scared. Wilbur does not frighten easily but it was pure fear in his eyes.

“Get out.” Wilbur ordered.

“You wouldn’t dare.” Lizzie said.

“Out.” He said.

“Fine, I’ll be the man since you are too much of a coward.” She said.

Lizzie stood up and began climbing over the door to get out. Wilbur closed his eyes and took a deep breath and then began a fit of coughing on account of the dust. I almost laughed but the dust was bringing tears to my eyes.

“Wait Lizzie.” I said.

“Don’t tell me you are going to help me.” She said.

“That depends on what your idea of help is.”

“We should get the sheriff.” Lizzie said.

“He’s already there.” Wilbur said.


“It’s complicated but there was an incident Sunday and a boy got hurt. The boy is at Carrington Manor and sheriff is with him and that mob is going to get him.” He said.

“They seem to be a little more bloodthirsty than that.” Lizzie said.

“Like I said, it’s complicated. The whole thing boils down to a labor dispute but someone’s been convincing the guys that it’s women like the ones at Primrose that are taking away their jobs and keeping their pay low.”

“That’s ridiculous.” I said.

“People are going to get hurt unless we do something.” Lizzie said.

“I don’t mean to point out the obvious but we aren’t an army here. It might as well be a raging fire and the only thing to do is stay out of its path and wait for it to burn itself out.” Wilbur said.
An idea struck me. I know amazing, but it did.

“Lizzie get back in. Will head for the city. I’ve got a plan.” I ordered.

They both looked at me like I lost my mind. I probably have.

Know When To Run

October 14, 1896
Elizabeth Bassett

From the moment I heard Sarah was missing, I knew trouble was coming. Unfortunately, knowing trouble is on the horizon is not the same as being prepared for its untimely arrival. I cannot really blame it all on Sarah but trouble does seem to find her a little too easily. She reminds of Penelope in that regard.

Wilbur arrived at the front door of Carrington Manor just as we were sitting down to an oatmeal breakfast. He burst into the room looking like he had spent the night in his suit and probably not in a bed. His hair was tussled and hanging slightly in front of his eyes and his left eye looked to be developing a bruise in the shape of a ring.

Penelope stood up immediately but Mr. Carrington inserted himself into the situation.

“You look a sight boy. Let’s step outside for a moment.” Mr. Carrington said.

He crossed the room to Wilbur as he spoke and grabbed him by the arm. Wilbur pulled himself free and turned to Penelope.

“We have to leave.” He said to her.

“What’s going on?” Penelope asked.

“We are leaving. NOW!” He said.

“Calm down boy. Let’s talk in the hall.” Mr. Carrington said.

Penelope looked from her brother to Mr. Carrington trying to decide what to do no doubt. I had a sudden hunch that Wilbur probably knew something we did not and it would be wise to listen to him.

“Come on Penny.” I said.

I stood up and grabbed her arm. It was all the nudging she needed.

“I don’t recall inviting you Miss Bassett.” Wilbur said.

“Sit down girls.” Mrs. Carrington ordered.

“You didn’t but I have a feeling I’ll be safer with you than here. No offense Mrs. Carrington but so far this year we’ve had one student murdered and another is missing. In light of that I’ll decide for myself when to sit and when to walk.” I said.

We stood beside Wilbur and Mr. Carrington. Mr. Carrington looked confrontational but seemed to be unwilling to escalate matters. His disapproving glare was all that stood between us and the door.

“I don’t trust you.” Wilbur said to me.

“Don’t be ridiculous, Will. She’s about the only person here I do trust.” Penelope said.

“Fine, we need to go now. As for you,” He said and turned to Mr. Carrington, “ I suggest you board this place up and get ready for an assault.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Mr. Carrington asked.

The girls in the room began a nervous chatter which I knew would only escalate and eventually become more terrifying than anything they had heard. Wilbur ushered Penny and toward the door.

“The city is disintegrating into a riot. The workers are revolting and they’re blaming everyone in sight for their troubles.” Wilbur said.

The door slammed behind us and we quickly jumped into his automobile. Up the street in the distance we could see them marching toward us. The engine started with a roar and Wilbur threw it in gear and accelerated straight at them. I would have screamed but all I could manage was to hold on and hold my breath.

It was an angry mob and at the front of it was a beaten and bruised Sarah Waters. She was tied with rope and being shoved along by men with metal pipes and other menacing objects waving in the air. The seconds seemed to last forever as my eyes connected with Sarah’s. She mouthed a single unmistakable word. Wilbur swerved the automobile down a street to the right avoiding the mob.

“Run.” She said silently.

Scattered Leaves On A Hill

October 13, 1896
Anna Cushing

“It was right here.” I said.

I was back on the top of the hill only this time it was Mr. Carrington and the sheriff with me instead of Sarah. The view was not as appealing as it had been. There was blood on the ground where we had last been together. Breath caught in my throat as we looked around for her.

I had rode back to Carrington Manor just as Sarah had asked. I told them she needed help, but no one listened. Finally I had found Mr. Carrington by the stables and when I tried to tell him Sarah was in trouble he called me hysterical. I slapped him across the face and on any other day it would have been the mistake of my life. Not this day, this day I had right on my side.

Jasper arrived just as Mr. Carrington was about to respond. His saddle was empty and he had thrown a shoe. One look in his eyes was it all took to know that if there had been anything else he could have done, he would not be before us. Mr. Carrington looked between Jasper and myself and only then asked me to explain. If only I had the presence Sarah has, they would have listened before it was too late.

Instead the evening hours had came and the trail was growing cold. The setting sun had brought a heavy wind with it and the fallen leaves scattered across the ground with every gale. There would not be enough light to search for very long.

“Sarah!” The sheriff called into the wind.

I stayed at the top of the hill as Mr. Carrington and the Sheriff began a descent on the backside of the hill. They spread out from me in a “V” trying to cover as much ground as quickly as they could.

“I should never have left her.” I said to myself and the hill I stood upon.

It may surprise you, I know it surprised me, but I meant those words. It is true that Sarah Waters and I are cut from different cloths, shaped from different molds, but despite it all, I think of her as a friend. I freely admit I did not begin with her as such, in fact my initial intentions were to teach her the proper place of a pauper such as herself, but that was before I realized she was much more than she appeared. In another time and place she might well have been royalty.

“Over here!” The sheriff shouted.

Mr. Carrington changed directions and headed for him. I started down the hill toward him, careful of my footing. As I approached I could see he was cradling a body in his arms. I fought tears back and forced myself to keep moving. Standing just above him, I blinked my blurry eyes clear. It was a boy in his arms, not Sarah.

The boy coughed and then howled in pain. The Sheriff held him still but it was a struggle and as I looked, I could see why. The boys right leg was clearly broken and his left arm looked to be in not much better shape. Mr. Carrington came up beside me.

“We’ll need help to get him down from here.” The Sheriff said.

“I’ll go.” I volunteered.

“No, it’s getting dark. Best if you stay here and try to keep him calm.” Mr. Carrington said.

The Sheriff nodded at him. I thought about arguing but decided this was neither the time nor the place for it. I knelt down beside the sheriff and brushed a strand of stray blonde hair from the boys forehead. He whimpered.

“Shhh… You’ll be okay.” I said.

The sheriff moved away for a private word with Mr. Carrington. The wind was blowing hard enough I could not make out their words. The meaning was clear enough though, no sign of Sarah and not enough light left to search by. The boy would take priority for the night and Sarah would have to fend for herself.

Mr. Carrington made his way off back toward Providence. The sheriff stood behind me and laid a hand on my shoulder. It was not much for comfort but there was strength and it would have do until there was something better.

“We’ll continue the search for Miss Waters at first light.” He said.

I nodded my understanding but kept my attention focused on the boy. He kept trying to move and I had to hold him still. The more I touched him the more he struggled. At last I lost patience and slapped him.

“Hold still!” I shouted at him.

“Stay away from me!” He shouted back.

The sheriff joined me on the ground and helped hold the boy still while he continued struggle. The boy looked at me with pure hatred it was disquieting to see and frightening to feel. The sheriff saw it as well.

“Did you encounter a woman like her today?” He asked the boy.

“She’s the devil.” The boy replied.

And then the sky began to rain.

Wind At My Back

October 12, 1896
Sarah Waters

The sound of hoof beats and the smell of dirt filled the air. I nudged Jasper with my knee, signaling him to run faster up the hill. Anna’s Poseidon kept pace only a heartbeat behind and I was not about to lose to a pampered rich girl. I hung my head low next to Jasper’s neck, my hair whipped my back in the wind. It was freedom.

At the top of the hill I brought Jasper to a stop and we turned to face from whence we had came. Anna brought Poseidon up next to us, she looked winded as though it had been her running up the hill and not her horse. I could have teased her, but the reality of defeat was acknowledged in her eyes, there was no need to gloat. Instead I focused my gaze on the view.

Beneath us we could see the whole school and beyond it, Providence. The grass fields were turning yellow as they do in the autumn but the soft, white clouds and stark blue sky belied a feeling of summer. Is it coincidence that these early days of autumn often serve to remind us of the finest parts of the summer so recently past? Or is it illusion meant to reassure us that every ending offers a new beginning as well?

“It’s beautiful.” Anna said.

“I know.” I replied.

Anna gave me a sharp look. I returned it with a smile and after a moment she smiled too.

“Who is he?” Anna asked.

I blinked surprised at the question and completely unaware of whom she might be referring to.

“I’m sorry?”

“The young man I saw you with last week. He walked you to Primrose Hall not once but twice.” She clarified.

“Oh.” I said.

The realization of whom she was referring became clear but the answer she sought was not in my possession.

“I am afraid I don’t know who he is.” I said.

“If you would rather not say, I suppose it is really none of my business.” Anna replied.

She sounded hurt by my apparent lack of trust.

“No, Anna, I truly do not know his name. He has never seen fit to reveal it to me.”

“How interesting. I wonder what he has to hide.” Anna said.

“I have asked myself the very same question. He portrays himself as a gentleman but he often fails horribly at it.”

Anna laughed, nearly startling both our horses.

“Truer words have never been spoken of the gentleman, they all fail at it.” She said.

I smiled and nodded.

“He professes to have my best interests at heart, yet he knows little more than my name from which to base his judgments.”

“A fool in love. I must confess, I am jealous. He is quite handsome and even from afar it is obvious he only has eyes for you.” She said.

“Somehow I doubt his intentions are as simple as they seem. He is hiding more than his name from me.”

“Men are always so simple. They hide things from us because they either think we will not notice or will not understand. Foolish on their part in either case, but not unusual or surprising in theirs.”

“Perhaps you are right, but I will remain cautious.”

“What happened to you?” Anna asked.

“What do you mean?”

“I’ve never met anyone like you Sarah. You seem torn between being a brute and the woman you are. There must be a reason.”

I probably should have been insulted. Maybe I should have rode away and pretended she had never said a word, but friends are hard to come by and Anna seemed to genuinely care.

“My story is a long one and not very interesting, but the lessons I’ve learned are simple enough. It’s a man’s world and we women will always be ruled by it. The qualities that make a good woman are the same qualities that keep us firmly in the grasps of men. The only way things will ever change is when we have the courage to behave as men and somehow still be women.”

“And that’s you?” She asked.

I looked out over the school below. Something was amiss. Jasper trembled ever so slightly and I knew then, he felt it as well. I looked back at my friend and felt all the happiness of summer drain from my face.

“No, there is not much woman left in me, but maybe it could be you someday.” I replied.

She looked at me curiously. Maybe she saw me as I am for the first time on that hill. Whatever it was, there was no time to explore it.

“Someone’s coming, Head back to the Manor, fast as you can.” I said.

“What are talking about?” She asked.

The sound of hoof on dirt answered for me. Confusion was replaced by worry on her face.

“What about you?” She asked.

“Don’t worry about me, just go.” I said.

Anna nudged Poseidon forward and they began a quick descent back toward the school. Behind me a dust cloud rose over the edge of the hill. There were at least three of them from the noise. Jasper and I could have ran but I think we are both through with running.

A Short Break Before New Stories

We, the writers of the Primrose Girls, apologize for the recent gaps in the posting of new stories. We are currently working on some minor changes in the format of our stories with the intention of making the various plots and story arcs more continuous while providing unique and provocative content.

We will resume with regular postings beginning Sunday, October 12.

In the meantime please take a moment to vote in our poll on the left rating your impression of our site and the stories so far. We welcome your comments and suggestions and if you have questions for Alan, Ashley, or Melanie you may attach them to this post in the comments section and we will respond.

May we also suggest some of our favorite posts:

The Illusion of Control

October 4, 1896
Charles Birchwood

“I’m sorry Mr. Birchwood.” Alice Truman said.

Her voice tremble ever so slightly and there was a sniffle at the end which conveyed more than any words ever could. Her straight brown hair fell around her shoulders and her dark eyes darted around the room looking at anything so long as it was not me. We were alone.

“Miss Truman, your record indicates you have been playing the flute since your sixth birthday. Tell me, how in all those years of study and practice you never learned to take care of your instrument?” I said.

I paced the floor in front of her as I spoke. My steps were measured to keep her nervous and the tap of my heal added punctuation to my soft tone. She would be in tears soon enough but building the anticipation first makes them all the more meaningful. I wanted her terrified of me.

“I’m sorry sir.” She said.

I stopped my pacing and abruptly turned to face her.

“Did I ask if you were sorry? No! Will your pathetic apologies undo the damage of your carelessness? No! Answer me, were you ever taught how to take care of your instrument?” I said.

I channeled as much rage into my voice as I was capable. Miss Truman sniffled again. She was only moments from a flood of tears and the first drops were all ready running along the crevice of her nose. Somewhere she found the courage to look at me despite the fear in her eyes.

“No, sir.” She said.

“You were never taught?” I asked incredulously.

“Correct, sir.”

“Do you expect me to believe that?”

Tears fell freely from her eyes. She wiped her arm across her face and her whole body trembled. The fear in her eyes transformed into hatred. Had I pushed her too far?

“I don’t give a damn what you believe. The truth is the truth whether you acknowledge or not.” She shouted.

I took the moment to study her. She was quite remarkable. Her feminine features were sufficiently attractive but they were not what made her remarkable. It was the fire burning inside her. She reminded me of Caroline, wild and untamed.

“If you did not know then why did you not ask?” I asked.

“Because you are unapproachable. You are arrogant and mean and everyone is afraid of you.” She accused.

I widened my eyes, surprised to hear such directness from a first year college student, not to mention a woman.

“You do not seem to be afraid of me now.” I said.

“Why should I be? You are going to do whatever you are going to do to me and there is nothing I can do about it. Being afraid of you is pointless now.”

“Then you might as well be honest with me.”

“I am being honest. My tutor always took care of my flute for me. I was never left with the task.”

“I apologize for assuming you would know then, but you should have asked me. Destroying equipment out of ignorance is bad enough. Destroying it because you are too afraid to ask a question is akin to malevolence.”

“I thought you would be angry.”

“Should I be happy you have destroyed my instrument?”

“No, sir. I am sorry about that, but if you truly expect to be asked questions when we do not know things, you should be more inviting of those questions.”

“Are you suggesting I am to blame here?” I asked.

She bit her lip before answering, but I knew what she was going to say before she said it.

“Yes, I am.”

I nodded at her. She is going to be a challenge but I revel in challenges.

“Lift your skirt and bend over the back of the chair.” I directed.

Alice stared at me for a long moment before deciding to comply. She was not accepting responsibility for her actions only the inevitability of punishment. She stepped behind the chair in the center of the room and gathered her skirt up around her waist. She leaned over the chair with something between a sigh and a sob. I could feel her frustration in the air between us. I admit it made me smile a little.

I took up position behind. I could have ordered her to remove her skirt and more but this was not the time. Alice is not yet ready to be improved by the submission. She needs the illusion of control still and for now I will allow it.

I raised my hand and began to spank her bloomer covered bottom. She wriggled and cried, but she remained in position and refused to offer further apology or beg for leniency. I admire that almost as much as her directness. As I spanked her I wondered what twisted logic is required for a woman to hate a man who clearly admires and respects her.

Beyond My Control

October 3, 1896
Anna Cushing

It is all Sarah’s fault. Everything. Every little thing.

The day started out wrong and just got worse. My morning bath was cold water only as the furnace broke just before my turn. How is that Sarah’s fault you ask? She was the last one to get a warm bath this morning. She must have done something wrong with the furnace to break it. God knows the backwards girl probably never saw one before coming here.

Suffering through I managed to approximate cleanliness before returning to my room to dress for the day. I had laid my dress out carefully on my bed before heading to the bath and it was still there only as I started to put it on the seems began to rip out. Never have I suffered such humiliation before in my life and I was alone in the room! It can only be the rotted thread of Sarah’s ragged excuses for clothing that have caused the thread in my own things to begin to rot. The girl is a tragedy and she does not even know it.

After settling on a blouse and skirt combo for the day instead, I began to style my hair with the help of my mirror and brush. The mirror slipped from my hand as I was inserting pins to keep my hair up. The handle was greasy and slick, it must be from Sarah’s hair touching it. Her hair is always greasy and unkempt. The mirror shattered of course and that can only mean seven years of bad luck. If it is the last thing I do, I will see to it that Sarah gets those seven years.

Breakfast at least went without further disaster, but my first class revealed I had forgotten to bring my books and my homework with me. If not for all the disasters of Sarah’s making from my morning that would never have happened. It was completely unfair that I found myself bent over a stool, bare bottom waving at the class, while being spanked within an inch of my life. As if that was not humiliation enough the bastard made me wear the dunce cap and sit on the stool for the remainder of the class. It should have been Sarah and I swear it will be as soon as I can devise how.

Teasing from my fellow Primrose Girls was entirely unacceptable and completely unavoidable. A lady should never be subjected to such ridiculous and archaic methods, particularly for such a simple and completely understandable mistake. Naturally, I called home to complain to Daddy. He was unavailable though and Mom was practically gloating about my predicament. I responded as one does when ridiculed, by cursing and slamming the phone down without allowing Mom to reply.

Unfortunately, I turned around and ran straight into Sarah, knocking her down. She was walking and talking with Miss Bowen. Why could she not watch where she was going and stay out of my way? Does she not understand that it for peasants like her to steer clear of the path of ladies like me? Miss Bowen is equally ignorant of such matters, little more than a peasant herself. She demanded an apology from me. FROM ME!

I demanded the apology I was due.

“Excuse me?” Sarah stammered from the floor.

Miss Bowen helped her up but managed to stare disapprovingly at me the entire time. I waved her off before I said anything to create more trouble and walked away to focus on my studies. I should have known better by this point. I should have gone upstairs, crawled into bed and waited for tomorrow to come. Should have, would have, could have, none of it matters when you do none of the above.

The spine of my mathematics text was somehow damaged and as I tumbled through the pages to the appropriate section, the pages fell from the book to the floor. I screamed. I cried. I stormed out of the house for a ride in hopes something might go right for the day but when I got to the stables the door was locked.

Frustrated I went back to the house and took a nap until dinner. At the bell I came downstairs and took my place at the table, next to Sarah. I was still annoyed with her but I gave my best pleasant lady smile to her. She nodded at me as if that meant something. Strange girl.

Dinner was vegetable stew with cornbread. It was tasty enough and appropriate to the days cold weather. I sipped it with pleasure and tried to let the days misdeeds flow away into the warm comfort. Sarah however, kept bumping me with her elbow. I moved as far to my left as I could to avoid her but it made no difference. Obviously no one ever taught her table manners. Naturally, I took on the job. I dumped her bowl in her lap. That ought to teach her right?

Miss Bowen saw me. I thought she was preoccupied with Miss Bassett, but she saw anyway. I was sent up to my room to wait for her. I groaned on my way out but was smart enough to keep myself from saying anything to make matters worse. Sarah was getting all the sympathy and she was the real problem.

Who would have thought going to my room would actually lead to more trouble? Believe it or not it did. I arrived at my room to find the door open and a flickering light illuminating from within. I stepped into the doorway to see a man busily sorting through our schoolbooks and tossing them recklessly around the room which looked as if a tornado had ran through it. I cleared my throat.

The man froze and then looked at me. He was mostly in shadows so I could not get a good view of his features and then he threw a lantern at me. It hit me in the head and shattered. The man ran straight into me, hit me in the stomach and then kicked my feet out from under me, sending me crashing to the hall floor. He then disappeared. I am sure it was not into thin air but I did not see where he went.

Miss Bowen arrived a few moments later when I had managed to sit myself down on my bed. She looked around the room, looked at me and shook her head at me. I started to speak but she cut me off.

“I don’t know what is wrong with you today and frankly, I don’t care. Your behavior toward Miss Waters today is unacceptable and I will not tolerate it. Further I will not tolerate you destroying books or throwing temper tantrums in your room. I am going to let you off this time with a warning as long as you clean this mess up before bedtime, but make no mistake, if this behavior resurfaces again, I will not hesitate to give you a whuppin you’ll likely never forget. Understood?”

“But…” I said.

“Understood?” Miss Bowen interrupted.

“Yes, Miss.” I replied, defeated.

Losing Control

October 2, 1896
Penelope Sumter

“I’m not going.” I declared.

“Yes, you are.” Wilbur said.

“You can’t make me.” I replied.

“Yes, I can.” Wilbur said.

“Am I interrupting?” Lizzie asked as she entered the room, unexpectedly.

Wilbur glared at her without speaking.

“Yes.” I answered.

“I can come back.” She said.

“That would be appreciated, Miss Bassett.” Wilbur said.

Lizzie backed out of the doorway and closed the door. Wilbur and I remained silent for a moment as we listened to her retreating footsteps. When there was nothing left but silence we turned to each other again.

“Why does it matter to you anyway?” I asked.

“It’s your future, that will always matter to me.” Wilbur replied.

“It’s a dance.” I said.

“Yes, and what message does it send to father when you purposefully avoid every social opportunity the school provides?”

I smiled despite myself. I almost laughed but Wilbur would not have responded well to it so I kept inside.

“I think the message would only be degraded by putting it into words.” I said.

“You think you are being cute?” He asked.

He did not wait for me to respond. In the same instant he closed the space between us. He propped his left leg up on my beg and grabbed hold of my arm. I tried to pull away but his grip was like steel. Seconds later I was staring at the floor only inches away from my face while his hard hand slapped against my skirted posterior. Even through the layers of clothing the smacks stung.

As quickly as it happened it was over. I found myself face to face with my brother only now I was blushing with embarrassment. Anger was boiling up inside me. Without thinking, I slapped him across the face.

“I’m not going and you can’t make me.” I asserted.

Wilbur took a step back from me. His right fist was clenched and his arm shook. It was his eyes though that made me regret my actions and words. The expressed a disappointment and hurt I had never thought possible between us. I would have apologized, but it was too late.

“We’ll see about that.” He said.

Wilbur walked out the door and slammed it closed behind him.