The Stir

November 9, 1896
Edith Bowen

The halls of Carrington Manor were alive with quiet gossip. The girls clustered together in corners and shadows with copies of our publication in every hand. Conspiratorial whispers were the order of the day as every girl feared I or Mrs. Carrington or perhaps even Mr. Carrington might discover the pages in their possession. I smiled at the girls as though oblivious to the goings on but privately I was beaming with pride.

I descended the stairs to the main hall with the intention of a late morning walk. Mrs. Carrington was waiting for me at the base. Her expression was not one of amusement, one might even have called it horror. My smile began to fade. In her hand was a folded copy of the publication. She waved it wildly in the air toward me as if she needed to gain my attention.

“Have you seen this?” Mrs. Carrington asked.

I pondered the waving object of her contempt for a moment. Should I admit that I had or would it be better to lie?

“Is it the Paper from Brown?” I asked.

Was my tone innocent enough?

“No, it certainly is not.” She replied.

“What is it then?” I asked.

“An abomination!” Mr. Carrington said.

He strolled into the hall to join us at the stairs from the dinning hall. His hands carried at least a dozen copies and by all appearances he was clearly trying to confiscate ever one in existence. I tried not to smile.

“You find this amusing, Miss Bowen? Read it and I think you will quickly change your mind.” Mrs. Carrington said.

I took the copy from her hand, careful not to appear to anxious. I began reading it, although it is admittedly hard to read an article that one has all ready read several time before. I went through the motions just in case either of them might suspect I was somehow involved. Given my previous actions and involvements it would be foolhardy to think I was not at the top of their list in suspects.

“Some of the girls have created a publication for women.” I said.

“This is not a publication it is an abomination. I cannot imagine what girl would be capable of writing such filth and lies but if I find them within these walls they will be expelled.” Mr. Carrington said.

Were I not being mindful of how I was being perceived I might well have rolled my eyes and yawned. Mr. Carrington was overreacting to the point of hysterics which was ironic considering such reactions are supposed to be reserved to the domain of women. Mrs. Carrington was not under my same constraints and did roll her eyes although I believe Mr. Carrington missed it.

“You do realize this was clearly run on a printing press and there is not one within the confines of Primrose or this house?” Mrs. Carrington asked.

“Of course. What is your point?” Mr. Carrington replied.

“My point is that they boys of Brown have long been publishing an underground paper and this is most likely their work as well.” Mrs. Carrington said.

I wanted to kick myself. Why had I not thought of that myself? It was the easily accessible, plausible grounds for denial we had wanted. The simple childhood politics every girl learns before she is five, blame it on the boys.

“You are quite right, ma’am. How silly of me to think a girl could have been behind any of this.” I said.

Mr. Carrington shook his head, unconvinced.

“No self-respecting boy would dare right this dribble.” He said.

“Unless they wanted to stir up trouble.” I said.

“I’m sure it is just something of a prank. No doubt we should not worry unless it happens again.” Mrs. Carrington said.

“I completely agree.” I said.

Mr. Carrington looked at us with suspicion in his eyes. I smiled. He relented.

“All right. Collect the rest of these and burn them and we’ll forget it ever happened unless it happens again.” He said.

He looked me in the eye as he spoke and while I continued to smile as though nothing was amiss, I had the distinct impression he no longer suspected but simply knew I was involved. Maybe it was my imagination but his final words on the subject sounded like a warning to my ears.

No comments: