The Toad and the Tigress – A short story

As you may know, I am currently taking a break, but wanted to share some of my earliest posts with you, that you may have missed. 

This story was first published on the 8th of April and is one of The Britchy One’s favourites, and she has very good taste 😉

I hope you like reading this story, or reading it again if you read it the first time. 

All the best 🙂 

 

 

“Kelly-Anne Thomas come here this instant!” Boomed Mrs Jameson, the deputy headmistress. Mrs Jameson was the terror of the school, she always wore her formal black gown over the clothes she was wearing, usually a twin-set and pearls, and usually strode up and down the corridors trying to thwart any rule infraction she could catch. 

Kelly-Anne jumped a mile. She hadn’t heard the tell-tale thud of Mrs Jameson’s’ determined steps coming along the corridor. She sheepishly obeyed the order and walked over to where Mrs Jameson was imperiously pointing. 

“What were you doing sneaking into that classroom? You have no business being here at break-time. Why aren’t you outside getting some fresh air into your lungs?”

“I’m sorry Mam, I had left something in my bag and I had gone back to get it.”

“Don’t lie to me girl. That isn’t your classroom. Your classroom is the next one along. So out with it, I will give you one more chance to tell me the truth.”

Kelly-Anne burst into tears. Despite the steady stream, she managed to say “I’m sorry Mam, I didn’t want to do it, really I didn’t, they made me.”

Without a drop of sympathy, Mrs Jameson grabbed Kelly-Anne’s arm and began pulling her along.

“Right, you are coming with me to my office and we’ll get to the bottom of this right now. I knew something has been going on in the lower fifth. You’re going to tell me all about it. Stop your snivelling girl.”

As they entered Mrs Jameson’s lair, with the worn Persian rug on the floor and the worn chintz-covered chairs, the musty smell of old books filled the air. Mrs Jameson let go of Kelly-Anne’s arm and sat down in her upright leather upholstered throne behind her dark oak desk. 

“Blow your nose girl. I can’t stand this childish behaviour. You’re almost a woman but you are behaving like one of the juniors. Tell me everything.” Mrs Jameson slapped her hand down hard on her desk making a very loud bang that made the poor girl jump again. Rather than stop, it seemed she started bawling even louder.

A side door opened and in walked Miss Huntley, the Headmistress. She was a small woman with a very academic air about her. She had her hair neatly arranged on her head in an old-fashioned but tidy manner and had small spectacles on her aquiline nose.

Her crystal blue eyes scanned the room with rigorous attention.

“Thank you Beatrice” Said Miss Huntley to Mrs Jameson.

“I think I will have a word with Miss Thomas. If you would come through into my office dear?”

It was strange, Miss Huntley hardly ever patrolled the corridors and never raised her voice. People often thought that Mrs Jameson was the headmistress because she was domineering and had a forceful way about her manner and her bearing. Until people then met Miss Huntley. What Mrs Jameson achieved by brute force, Miss Huntley had only to suggest and everything fell into place, like a true master painter with a light touch. She had a force of personality behind her mild-mannered appearance. No one, not even Mrs Jameson, ever dared go against her. 

“I found Miss Thomas acting very suspiciously in the corridor outside classroom 12. I was just questioning her about it, Headmistress.”

“Yes I see that Beatrice, I would like to speak to Miss Thomas myself.”

Miss Huntley then turned and went back into her adjoining office.

Kelly-Anne, who had stopped her crying, pretty much as soon as Miss Huntley had entered the room, followed her meekly then closed the door.

Mrs Jameson felt quite despondent like a favourite toy had been snatched out of her grasp. Then she went to prowl the corridors once more looking for another potential victim. She was like a Tigress on the hunt. If she’d had a tail, it would have lashed whip-like with frustrated angst.

In Miss Huntley’s light and airy room, the Headmistress sat patiently waiting for Kelly-Anne to sit, invited, into the chair opposite.

“Would you like a cup of tea, dear? I often find that tea helps when you have had a shock, or when you have got to deal with something difficult. We’ll both have one shall we?”

Kelly-Anne nodded and wiped her moist eyes with her handkerchief. 

Pressing a button on her desk, Miss Huntley spoke into her intercom. 

“Can you bring me two cups of tea please Ethel? No, no biscuits, but bring the sugar if you don’t mind.”

Miss Huntley just sat quietly and patiently looking into Kelly-Anne’s brown eyes. The silence became deafening. Suddenly Kelly-Anne couldn’t contain herself any longer.

“I’m sorry Miss Huntley, it wasn’t my fault, it was Alicia who made me do it and Cathy and Joan.”

“Do you mean Alicia Spink, Cathy Pargeter and Joan Langley? What did they make you do? How did they make you?”

“Yes, Mam. They wanted me to put a toad in Mrs Beacham’s desk because she had kept them in detention last week and they wanted revenge. They knew as I wasn’t in her class, they wouldn’t suspect me. I didn’t want to do it, but they stole my homework and wouldn’t give it back. I didn’t want to get into trouble with Miss Cartwright for not handing in my homework. They said I would be in real trouble if I told.”

Miss Huntley’s secretary, Ethel, came in with the tea then left promptly.

“Now don’t you feel better for getting that off your chest dear? Would you like any sugar in your tea? I think you should, it will calm your nerves.”

Kelly-Anne did feel better, that was something else about Miss Huntley, whereas Mrs Jameson terrified you, Miss Huntley always made you feel better. 

Both of them took a sip of their tea. Miss Huntley spoke again.

“What happened to this toad then? Do you still have it?”

“Yes Mam, it’s in my pocket.” But when she looked, she realised it was gone.

“Oh, I’ve lost it.”

“Oh Never mind, I am sure it will turn up somewhere. Now I will have to speak to Mrs Beacham and Miss Cartwright. It isn’t the prank itself I am bothered so much about, it is the revenge idea and the underhanded way she bullied you into doing her dirty work for her.”

“There were three of them though Mam.”

“Yes but it’s Cathy Pargeter who is the ringleader. She has the brains but unfortunately the vindictive nature. She has the personality to influence others and get them to shield her. I have known she was a problem from the start. It doesn’t help that she is our Member of Parliament’s daughter, but be that as it may, she must be made an example off.”

Miss Huntley was also a top-class psychologist, a skill that had meant she had dealt successfully with lots of situations like these in the past. That is how she, despite being less outwardly forceful than some of her contemporaries, had risen to the peak of her profession as the Headmistress of one of the best schools in the country. 

“Well off you go back to class, there goes the bell.”

“Thank you, Mam.” Kelly-Anne swiftly departed.

Not long afterwards a loud scream came from Beatrice Jameson’s room next door.

“Ah, It looks like Beatrice has found the missing Toad; she is rather terrified of them too. Such a shame.” Said Miss Huntley to herself and chuckling rather mischievously.

The End…For now.

This story was created as a one-off, but it wouldn’t let me sleep; the characters themselves seem to demand I write more of their story. So This is now just one of The Ashcroft Hall Chronicles.

copyright: Kristian Fogarty 08/April/2018

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/thwart/

via Daily Prompt: Thwart

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talesfromthemindofkristian

People are far too complicated to be able to describe in a few words so I am not even going to try.

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