Life Is Not Fair

January 26, 1897
Edith Bowen

Belinda Ferguson is no stranger to my room in the after dinner hours. Like Mrs. Carrington, I have adopted the familiar tradition of providing reinforcing discipline for those young ladies who have required it during the school day. The girls in my charge are now well aware of my expectations and present themselves in an orderly line facing the wall outside my room. Miss Ferguson, being a frequent visitor, is often the first to arrive.

Naturally, I was not surprised to see her this evening. And keeping with her usual antics, Miss Ferguson blames her misfortune on the grumpiness of teachers. Perhaps if I had listened closer I might have realized then something was amiss. However, her story was so typical I brushed it aside as an empty excuse.

I raised and lowered my ruler a fitting dozen times while she lay bare bottomed over my knees. Her cries fell on deaf ears as did her complaints of unfairness. You would think I would know better than to ignore such complaints. I suppose it is to be expected my perspective has been permanently altered to reflect that of the disciplinarian rather than the disciplined. It was therefore only when I escorted Miss Ferguson out, I realized something was wrong. Later I would feel guilty about her tear stained cheeks and the way she held her bottom when she ran to her room. In the moment, I was too shocked by the sheer number of girls awaiting my attention. During the worst of weeks I have attended to a dozen girls or less. More then twenty girls stood waiting for me on this one night.

Were it only troublemakers I might have shrugged it off as a bad day, but most of them were quite the opposite. Gazing over them, I decided it was time to solicit information.

It took only a few moments for me to realize their stories were almost all identical. Each girl had committed only the most minor infractions or in many cases none at all. Irregardless, they had each been subsequently punished.

I was torn between letting the girls off for the seemingly injustice and protecting my reputation as a stern figure of authority. I instructed the girls to wait as they were and make my way downstairs to seek Mrs. Carrington’s advice.

"Have the teachers lost their minds?" I asked.

"Whatever are you talking about?" Mrs. Carrington replied.

"More then twenty of my girls have been disciplined today. Besides that being a record for a week not to mention a day, the stories they tell sound as if breathing has become a crime."

Sometime while I was speaking, Mr. Carrington entered the room.

"You should know better than to be so gullible. " Mr. Carrington said.

"Were I to listen to a single girl then gullible I would be, but when so many tell so similar a tale it would be foolish not to listen." I said.

"You are not fit for the position you hold if you will take the word of your girls over that of their teachers." Mr. Carrington said.

"If I had wanted your advice I would have sought you out. I came for Mrs. Carrington, not you."

"I have had about enough of your insolence." Mr. Carrington said.

"It is not insolence to deal in facts rather than fantasy."

I do not know what words I expected in response, but I did not expect silence. I faced him smugly thinking I had won. I should have known by the glint in his eye that I had not. The resounding slap of his open palm against my cheek set me straight.

Surprised, I stood gaping at Mr. Carrington. I think it was in that moment control shifted from me to him. My former meekness came rushing back and the confident person I have become was temporarily lost. I stood paralyzed in the familiar role of one who had pushed too far only to find there remain consequences.

What happened next was only a blur. Despite my every effort to protest I was soon head down over the back of the chair. My skirts were lifted up and left dangling around my head. If Mrs. Carrington had any objections she kept them to herself and instead, held me down.

"You-" Mr. Carrington said.

His infamous strap came crashing down on my up-turned posterior.


A second blow made my predicament crystal clear. I was getting a spanking.


The strap continued to impart its biting sting, emphasizing Mr. Carrington' s every word.


As the strap bit down once again, I squirmed and kicked trying to break free.


I cried out as much in frustration as for the burning pain in my bottom. Mr. Carrington relentlessly swung his strap once more for good measure.


Tears stung at my eyes as the strap made its point yet again.


Involuntarily, my legs kicked as the strap connected with my thighs instead of my bottom.


The futility of my situation became clear when the strap struck my thighs again despite my wild struggles to break free. I lay limp, resigned to my fate.


The strap fell not once, not twice, but four more times. When I was younger I would have cried and screamed and begged, for mercy. Now I simply closed my eyes and did my best to accept what was and will be.

At long last, Mrs. Carrington released her hold and I was able to stand. More like a naughty little girl than a grown women, I sheepishly stared at the floor. what further words were spoken I do not recall, but my responses were understandably more respectful.

The sting in my bottom was foremost on my mind as I climbed the stairs to my room. only when I reached the top of the stairs did I remember the line of girls in the hall. Right then I decided they would each share in my discomfort. It was not fair, but life is not fair, so why should I be?

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