The Power Of Ink

February 5, 1897
Edith Bowen

The pen is mightier than the sword.

In 1839 Edward Bulwer-Lytton wrote those words, but he was not the first nor the last to express such sentiment. It is even rumored Thomas Jefferson himself expressed the very same concept in a 1792 letter to Thomas Paine. Words alone can make a brave man cower in fear, turn a traitor to a hero, or give honor to a common band of thieves. Such is the power of ink to mold our views and rarely will we question their veracity or their purpose, be it to nourish our minds or corrupt our souls.

The trouble began with a simple newspaper clipping. The facts reported within were true enough, but lies are not always told with untruths. The omission of pertinent facts or details can maliciously alter perceptions. Therefore, by what measure do we discern truth from deception?

There is no easy answer.

The growing feud between Miss Ferguson and Miss Cushing is evidence enough. The blindly faithful and the perpetually skeptical have always been a grievous pairing. In hindsight, I should have done more to separate the girls, but I had optimistically hoped they could resolve matters amongst themselves.

Fighting was not what I had in mind.

"What were you thinking?" I asked.

I paced the width of the rug in Mrs. Carrington's den. The two sorrowful looking girls stood downtrodden before me. I kept my hands clasped behind my back for fear if I did not, I would strike one or both of them. Their shameful display, at the base of the college steps no less, will be a blight on all of Primrose for weeks and months if not years.

"She started it." Miss Ferguson said.

I stopped pacing and stepped close to the girls. My hot breath fanned wisps of their disheveled air. Neither dared to look me in the eye.

"Shut up!" I shouted.

Miss Cushing's lips began to move as if she was going to mention she had not spoke, but she must have thought better of it. A single tear ran down Miss Ferguson's cheek. I did not care.

I turned my back on them and walked to Mrs. Carrington's desk. I stared down at the crumpled and torn newspaper clipping. The words told a story about a girl accused of murder and set free not by acquittal of guilt but by national politics playing out in a small town. I turned back to face the girls holding the paper up in my hand.

"Where did you get this?" I asked.

The girls remained silent.

"It is irrelevant anyway. Why either of you are concerned about the words written here is beyond my comprehension. How you could believe the scribbling of someone you don't know about someone you barely know are worthy of disgracing yourselves, the college, this house, and all the girls herein, astounds me." I said.

"We are living with a killer and you expect us not to care?" Miss Cushing said.

"I do not recall giving you permission to speak. In any case, you should know better than to blindly accept as truth anything that is written." I replied.

"It is a newspaper clipping based on facts. You can choose to ignore them but ignorance protects no one." Miss Cushing said.

"It's all lies. You are only doing this because you are jealous." Miss Ferguson said.

"Jealous? I could never be jealous of a peasant like her." Miss Cushing said.

"You are the peasant!" Miss Ferguson said.

They were about to come to blows again and a small part of me was tempted to let them. Violence will not settle their differences and I would be as guilty as they, were I to allow my personal feelings to dictate my actions.

"Enough!" I said.

They both glared at me but smartly closed their mouths.

"As you well know, Mr. Carrington will deal with you both for fighting. I cannot alter this nor do I have any desire to do so. Never before have two girls behaved so despicably while at this school. I sincerely hope you each learn a severe lesson today so that we will never again need to speak of this. As for Miss Waters, If I ever learn of the two of you discussing her again you will think Mr. Carrington a light hand compared to what I will do. Are we clear?" I said.

They meekly nodded and then there was a knock on the door. Mr. Carrington entered the room carrying his heavy strap. I left him to it, gently closing the door behind. As I ascended the stairs, I could hear the girls each screaming in turn as they no doubt felt the sting of his leather. I have always pitied those poor girls trapped inside that den, but not today, not these girls, not this time. I wished them all the pain for all the girls, becauseMr. Stark was right; we must teach them to make good decisions because if we do not, everything Primrose College stands for will fall.

1 comment:

Ronny said...

Back reading Primrose again... and two strict severe spankings in one day.
I hope you're ok, please get back to me.

Ron