Sticks And Stones

January 20, 1897
Edith Bowen

They had all known. It was written on their faces when we, the Primrose Girls, climbed the steps of Primrose Hall and entered the classrooms on the first day of classes in the new year. I do not believe they were directly involved, at least not all of them. Regardless, I took pride in the shock in their eyes. No one expected mere girls, like us, to make the journey alone.

The unspoken words filled the air in the classrooms. I think it was mostly praise but I am certain there was some grumbling as well from those who would have rather seen the end of Primrose with the hopes of Brown being expanded. They no doubt fail to understand, as a teacher of women they are as marked as those of us who attend as students.

There has been talk of Primrose closing since the first day I arrived within the gates, but until these recent days I had never understood the power behind such talk. I once thought of it as words used to discourage those who were not certain they wished to be here. Now, I realize they are words meant to discourage us all, but it is not the words which hurt.

Mr. Carrington’s failure to keep his word and the action of leaving us waiting without any knowledge of why, now that is hurtful. The surprise on Mrs. Carrington face was barely greater than her obvious jubilation at seeing us. In contrast, Mr. Carrington looked fit to be tied. His abrupt greeting was further evidence.

“What are you doing here?” He asked.

I nearly laughed in his face.

“School begins tomorrow.” Miss Bassett answered for all.

I would have left matters at that. The burning anger in my chest would have dissipated in time and I had no true need for confrontation, but there was that sigh. It was more of a huff and a puff, but unlike for the big bad wolf, we were not straw houses to be blown down. The way he rolled his eyes at Miss Bassett’s answer and the danger he left her in particular in was more than I could allow to pass.

“Yes, we are here. No thanks to you as you know. Do you have an excuse for us?” I demanded.

His eyes narrows as he turned to me.

“What excuse do you have for recklessly leading these young ladies into danger? It is no less than fortunate you arrived without disaster.” He said.

“I did what I had to do because you did not do what you promised to do. It is not I who endangered them, it is you.” I replied.

“There was a storm and with the fresh snow pack it was not safe to travel. It is a miracle you made it through.”

“Do not think to tell me lies. I will not believe them when I know the truth first hand. We weathered the storm in a barn because you sent no word of your plans or lack thereof. We crossed the miles of icy terrain on horseback and it was neither treacherous nor dangerous. The only treachery was yours and the only danger was men.” I said.

“In my house you will keep a more respectful tongue, girl!”

“If threats are all you know, understand this; if you ever so recklessly endanger even one of these girls again, I will be your worst nightmare.” I said.

“You already are.”

“Then just think how much worse it could get.” I said.

I turned my back on him, not because I had nothing more to say but because I did not want to waste my breath and also, I wanted him to know I am not afraid of him. It is not always the truth, but the look in his eyes told me he is afraid of something and I know better than to think it is me. Whatever it is, it makes me realize he is but a puppet on the stage and I will never fear a puppet.

“Come on girls, let’s get settled back into our rooms. Tomorrow is a big day.” I said.

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