HOUSE RULES – part two
Penitent or arrogant wondered Miss Svenson as she surveyed the tall blonde figure of Miranda Spears standing before her study desk. Well, maybe not quite the usual arrogance, she noted; but certainly not penitent.
‘I am going to give you one chance to answer this question, Miranda,’ began Miss Svenson, ‘so think about your reply carefully.’
The girl dropped her eyes to the floor.
‘Where did you go this afternoon?’
The school girl looked a little perplexed by this question, then replied ‘I went with the hare and hounds.’
‘Yes,’ rejoined Miss Svenson, ‘but where did you go? Did you stay on the course? LOOK AT ME IN THE EYE!’
There was a slight pause, then the girl looked up. ‘No,’ she responded.
‘No, Miss Svenson!’ retorted the headmistress.
‘No, Miss Svenson.’
‘I’m still waiting for an answer to my question,’ continued Miss Svenson, ‘Where did you go this afternoon?’
The girl shuffled slightly before her, then fixed her eyes on the head.
‘I went into the village, to Camston, then came back to school the long way, rejoining the race just before the finish line.’ She looked down abruptly.
‘I see,’ said Miss Svenson. ‘Can you think of one good reason why I should not expel you on the spot?’
The girl kept her eyes on the ground, ‘No, Miss,’ then, looking up determinedly, ‘except if I can explain it was some kind of protest.’ She started to tremble slightly. ‘Ever since you sent me to Dr Rudd for punishment I have not felt part of the school. It wasn’t so much the actual strapping, but the fact it was given by him, in his study, not yours.’
Miss Svenson flushed slightly; ‘Well, I am not going to justify my reasons for that punishment, but I can assure you that neither you, nor any other girl, will be punished by Dr Rudd again.’
The girl looked up briefly, then returned her eyes to the floor.
‘But you still haven’t answered why I shouldn’t expel you,’ continued Miss Svenson.
Silence from the girl.
‘It is because you haven’t lied’ asserted Miss Svenson.
The girl seemed to draw a sigh of relief.
‘Of course, this doesn’t exempt you from punishment for your disgraceful behaviour on the fox and hounds. Cheating in the race is, I believe, essentially a House matter, and I will leave it up to Tara Watts, head of house, to deal with you on that. However, going out-of-bounds also requires punishment: six strokes on the bare with the senior cane.’
No response from the girl.
‘It will be a severe punishment, Miranda, but I hope you agree a fair one. And, I can assure you, it will be administered by me. Now go and fetch the cane!’