50 Word Thursday #57 – The Old Devil of Thorneycroft

P1000083

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the words: “One of the hardest things for boys to learn is that a teacher is human. One of the hardest things for a teacher to learn is not to try and tell them.”
― Alan Bennett , The History Boys

 

Thorneycroft had been famous once, challenging other schools, like Rugby and Winchester for the honour of sending the most alumni to Oxford University. Unfortunately, times had changed and the school closed, leaving behind a wealth of objects to commemorate a century of learning. Now it was a museum, a monument to the past, open to the public for a negligible fee. One of the visitors shuffled along the forgotten corridors and breathed in the aromatic aroma of wood, polish and chalk dust. Heaving a nostalgic sigh, the man walked back into the main hall, filled with statues, his walking cane echoing around the hall and clicked against the marble tiles. Then he stopped and looked up at the statue of a man enrobed in black with a flat-topped mortarboard hat upon its head. The sculptor had excellently captured the bushy beard and even the foreboding glint in those eyes. He remembered that face all too well. He’d been a strict disciplinarian, a bit of a devil, but in an age where caning boys had been the norm, he’d never resorted to physical punishments. He’d been feared but nevertheless was the mainstay of the school. Recalling his last meeting with the man now immortalised aptly in stone, he’d asked him why he’d been so hard.

One of the hardest things for boys to learn is that a teacher is human. One of the hardest things for a teacher to learn is not to try and tell them,” he’d replied smiling.  

[250 Words]

This short story was written for the 50 Word Thursday challenge, click on the link below to see the post, it’s not too late to take part in this challenge, which finished on Wednesday.

https://talesfromthemindofkristian.wordpress.com/2020/01/30/50-word-thursday-57/

 

I have also included the following word prompts:

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2020/02/03/your-daily-word-prompt-mainstay-february-3-2020/

FOWC with Fandango — Century

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2020/02/03/rdp-monday-aromatic/

https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2020/02/03/devil/

 

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.”

Continue reading The Toad and the Tigress – A short story

50 Word Thursday #8 – Resolution and Vocation

Debbie Whittam has set a challenge to write a poem or story in 50 words, or multiples of 50 up to a maximum of 250 words, inspired by a picture and include some particular lines. Here is the picture.

 

05-07-18

From Terry Brooks The Elfstones of Shannara

This story uses the Character of Miss Huntley, who I created in an early story, see here:

https://talesfromthemindofkristian.wordpress.com/2018/04/08/the-toad-and-the-tigress-a-short-story/

Here we see Miss Huntley as a young girl, receiving an experience that set her off on her future course…..

Here is my story:

Resolution and Vocation

Mr Gladding sat at the front of the class looking through his spectacles at the girls all writing away at their own desks. The scratching of the pens was a sound so familiar to him, as was the smell of those old oak desks and the chalk hanging in the air. He was an educator of the traditional Victorian mould.

Elizabeth Huntley put down her quill and sat quietly. Mr Gladding, or Cladding as the girls called him due to the substantial amount of insulation that he carried around his middle, was staring at her again.

Mr Gladding straightened the papers he had been marking.

Then he pushed himself back from the reading table at which he had been seated and rubbed his eyes wearily.

“Pens down girls. I wish to ask you something. What did I ask you to prepare for me to mark?”

Several hands went up.

“Yes, Miss Finchley?” Mr Gladding smiled, though his smiles were just a show of his teeth, like that of a wolf.

“You asked us to write an essay on the War of the Roses Sir.”

“Quite right. Why then, Miss Huntley, have you written me a Sonnet?”

Elizabeth Huntley froze. She had been overcome by the story of the princes in the tower and had written a Sonnet about their plight.

“For not following my orders, come here.” Cladding commanded, raising his metal ruler.

Elizabeth Huntley resolved one day she’ll become a teacher and she would never punish a child’s creativity.

 

Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 05/July/2018

https://debbiewhittam.wordpress.com/2018/07/05/50-word-thursday-8/comment-page-1/#comment-5078

 

The Three Things Challenge – 12th June – A Cold Classroom

This is a Three Things Challenge as set by the haunted wordsmith, see link below:

https://thehauntedwordsmith.wordpress.com/2018/06/12/three-things-challenge-12-june-2018/

Here are the three words for 12 June 2018: snowflake, heater, fingernail

 

When I was at school they still had blackboards, also called chalkboards. They were slowly phasing them out, replacing them with whiteboards and pens that never seemed to work properly. One of the best pranks was to replace all the whiteboard pens with permanent markers and watch at the teachers realised their mistake.

I used to much prefer the old blackboards and chalk. The downside was the chalk dust that seemed to fill the air after the teacher had wiped off the previous days lessons. There was one teacher who had an excellent aim and would throw the board rubber at anyone in the class who was talking instead of listening. In those days, Parents tended to support the school rather than run up there and have a go at the teachers for reprimanding their children. I remember my Mum asking me why I had a white chalk mark on my school blazer. 

“Mr. Peters threw the board rubber at me.” 

Instead of getting annoyed and running up the school, my Mum calmly and wisely asked.

“So what did you do then for Mr Peters to throw the board rubber at you?”

“I was talking too much” (Anyone who knows me, will know that I haven’t changed a bit).

My Mum then gave me an extra punishment of having to peel the potatoes for dinner.

I remember another particular disadvantage of blackboards, one successfully exploited by a supply teacher called Mrs Morris. She was not very popular amongst us. She was an older lady who wore very smart suits and had long red nails. This was before stick-on talons were all the rage. 

On one occasion, it was November and we were sitting in class, freezing because the heaters weren’t due to be switch on for a few more days. Normally November is a gloomy month, lots of drizzly rain and fogs, but not freezing cold. Not if you’re used to it. This day was so cold it started snowing. Usually we don’t get snow until January. 

We were all staring out the window as a snowflake floated past. We talked about how amazing it was to get snow. Whether they’d be enough snow by home time to have a snowball fight. We had completely forgotten about the fact that we were supposed to be listening to Mrs Morris.

Suddenly the most dreadful sound in the world rang out across the classroom. It was a high-pitched scratchy-scream of a sound. Mrs Morris was scraping her red fingernails down the blackboard setting all our teeth on edge. 

We never forgot to pay attention to her again. 

 

Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 12/June/2018

This story was mainly fictitious and the names of the teachers were made up. Any resemblance to any real person alive or dead, is purely coincidental. 

Picture from pexels – WordPress Free Library.

 

 

 

The Ashcroft Hall Chronicles – Part three

This is part three of a story that I started a couple of days ago. The first part was called The Toad and The Tigress.

https://talesfromthemindofkristian.wordpress.com/2018/04/08/the-toad-and-the-tigress-a-short-story/

Part 2 is here

https://talesfromthemindofkristian.wordpress.com/2018/04/09/ashcroft-hall-chronicles-the-story-continues/

Chess with a Snake.

It was nearly two weeks before Miss Huntley could arrange a meeting with Cathy Pargeter’s Father. Apparently parliamentary affairs had kept him too busy to meet before this. In a way that was a good indication. If Mr Bernard Pargeter was too busy to discuss why his daughter had been suspended from school, this could indicate that his daughter was rather lower in his priorities than she should be. This could well be the root of the problem. Cathy was exceptionally bright, there was no doubt of that. She had so many good qualities, she could inspire loyalty in others, she had determination and could plan ahead but also take advantage of a new situation. Unfortunately, she was also extremely devious and lacking in any moral compass. In short, she had every skill necessary to become a successful politician. Miss Huntley hoped for something better for her. She was determined, if possible, to make something worthwhile out of Cathy Pargeter.

Miss Huntley knew she was about to embark on a very important meeting and she was prepared to play the game of politics for all it was worth.

Ethel entered the room.

“Headmistress, the Right Honourable Member of Parliament, Mr Bernard Pargeter is here.”

“Thank you, Ethel; show him in please. You know what to do?”

“Yes, Shall I bring in tea?”

“No let’s let him thirst for a bit. I will call you if necessary.”

Ethel left the room and in moments a large man bounced into the room. He was in his early fifties and had a carefully cultivated air of respectability about him. He was dressed in a very smart three-piece suit, Navy blue, with matching waistcoat and gold cufflinks. He extended a hand and Miss Huntley shook it and invited him to sit down.

Miss Huntley fixed Mr Pargeter with her interrogating stare. The effect of her blue eyes was always enlightening. Mr Pargeter stared back, his eyes were similar to those of his daughter, well genetics will tell.

“Look Miss Huntley, let’s get down to brass tacks. I’m a busy man and I haven’t got time to waste. You’ve suspended my Daughter from school. What did she do? Forget to do her homework?”

“No, I’m afraid it is rather more serious than that. Very serious. I don’t suspend girls for anything trivial, I can assure you. We are dealing with blackmail, extortion and bullying. Oh, and planning an attack on a teacher.”

“I suppose you are going to expel her then. Just like the last school she went to. This is very embarrassing to me, my reputation. If this gets out, it could lose me votes, and the elections only next year. Right, I will take her away if that’s what you want.”

“No, not so fast. Can you tell me a bit about her home life? What about her Mother?”

“Her Mother died seven years ago. She’d been an invalid for a couple of years, rather made a career out of it. We used to wait on her hand and foot. Cathy, in particular used to like to sit with her and read her the newspapers. It was a bit of a surprise when she suddenly went downhill and died.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. What did she die of?”

“Some kind of gastric trouble. Anyway, I threw myself into my work at the time. I had only just been elected for the first time then so I was very busy.”

“But you remarried. I remember you and your wife coming to parents evening last year.”

“Yes, I married my secretary a couple of years ago. She had been so kind after Virginia died and so helpful in getting me re-elected. We’d grown very close.”

Miss Huntley remembered the current Mrs Pargeter. She was in her thirties and had worn very heavy make-up, a Mink stole and rather cheap perfume. The image fitted the circumstances.

“So how do your current wife and Cathy get on?”

“Well, not very well at all. They keep far away from each other as possible. Cathy keeps to herself.”

“You don’t spend much time with her then?”

“No, it’s awkward with her and Laura not getting on. My wife is jealous.”

“Thank you for telling me this. It paints a picture for me.”

Miss Huntley was, quite frankly, relieved that Cathy’s home life was difficult; it accounted well for her behaviour. Had her home life been stable and loving then that would have indicated a more psychologically disturbed reason and one that Miss Huntley hated dealing with. That Cathy may have been born a Psychopath. The fact this did not now appear to be the case was a huge relief. It did not, however, make the problem less difficult to deal with. A great deal of the problem was sitting in front of her.

“I will be frank with you Mr Pargeter. Your daughter is exceptionally gifted. She is intelligent and persuasive. I don’t want to give up on her. I think if we worked together we can turn her back to the right path.”

“Well, what do you have in mind?”

“I am going to feed her to the lions. Or more accurately, a Tiger. One of my staff is a very forceful lady and called behind her back by the girls, the Tigress. I am going to place your daughter into her care. Further more I want her to be dropped off an hour after school starts and picked up an hour after school ends, so she cannot mix with the other girls. Only for a while, until I am convinced she is cured and fit to mingle. I would suggest that you yourself drop her off in the mornings as much as you can and you spend as much time with her as possible. She needs you in her life and that may well be the most beneficial thing we can do.”

“Well I am very busy, I may be up for a plum role if I get elected with an increased majority. And there’s Laura, she might divorce me, think what that would do to my career?”

“I can assure you that whatever fuss she creates Mrs Pargeter will not divorce you. She knows which side her breads buttered better than that! Your daughter is at stake here. Would you rather I just expelled her?”

“It may be the easiest course. Laura can be quite nasty when she wants to be.”

“Don’t you care for your daughter at all? Don’t you care what your voters will think if they find out you could have prevented her being expelled but you decided to do nothing instead?”

“I care for her, of course I do, but this is all nonsense. How will people hear about it anyway?”

Miss Huntley leaned over the intercom and spoke to her secretary.

“Have you got all that Ethel? Lock the tape away for safe keeping, will you?”

Mr Pargeter sat back in his chair and gave Miss Huntley a new appraised look. It was impressed, it said ‘Bravo’ and ‘Checkmate’ as clearly as any words could.

“I will do what you ask Miss Huntley. I do think it’s time I got reacquainted with Cathy. She takes after me in many ways, perhaps that is what I feared, facing myself. Is there anything else I can do to help?”

“Well, we are always looking for donations to our scholarship fund, I would be most grateful if you could make a contribution. I will be sure to mention it widely if you did.”

“I see, Miss Huntley, that you would have made an excellent politician, an excellent Prime Minister even.”

“Oh no. I have something far more important to do. Thank you for coming to see me.”

They shook hands and the Member of Parliament left the room.

Miss Huntley smiled to herself and looked out of the window at the girls playing in the school field. Her faced glowed, it was practically luminescent. Nothing was more important to her than this.

                             The End.

Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 10/April/2018

 

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

 

via Daily Prompt: Luminescent

Ashcroft Hall Chronicles – The Story Continues

Yesterday I wrote a story that I called the Toad and the Tigress. It was a short story about a schoolgirl who was caught doing something naughty. I created the characters of two teachers, one who was very demanding and forceful and the other that was much more rounded and clever. I was kept awake all night by this second character and I decided to write some more about her. Her name is Miss Huntley and she is the headmistress of a rather old-fashioned girls school called Ashcroft Hall. 

Please read my story – The Toad and the Tigress, this story continues where that one left off. https://wp.me/p9J3l0-8f 

After Miss Huntley had retrieved the poor terrified toad and taken it back to its tank in the science lab, she helped Mrs Jameson down from her desk, where she had taken refuge. 

“Never mind Beatrice, we all have our little phobias. Have some tea, with a tot of brandy in it, that should buck you up again.”

“Thank you Headmistress. I hate those slimy things, where did it come from?”

“That was the prank that you thwarted. Cathy Pargeter blackmailed poor Kelly-Anne into placing that toad in Mrs Beacham’s desk. Unfortunately it fell out of her pocket when you were talking to her. I have got to the bottom of it, and now it’s time for some punishment. I’ll depend on you to help me mete it out.”

“So that’s what it was all about. Yes Headmistress you can count on me to come down very hard. “

“I never doubted it Beatrice.”

Returning to her room, Miss Huntley set the next part of her plan into action and summoned Miss Cartwright and Mrs Beacham in to see her.

“Thank you for coming so promptly, I hope it wasn’t too much of a disturbance for your classes.”

Miss Cartwright was tall and willowy with long straight chestnut hair that she left free and untied. She always seemed to be wearing brown. Today, it was a long brown skirt with a white blouse and brown cardigan. She was an excellent teacher though. 

“No trouble at all, I’ve got them reading the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, that’ll keep them going for a while.” Said Miss Cartwright in her usual soft voice.

Mrs Beacham was a round, pink-faced, blond-haired lady encased in a yellow flowery frock. She had the outward appearance of being all pink and fluffy, but she had a solid core. She was more of a disciplinarian that Miss Cartwright, but just as good a teacher.

“I’ve got my lot onto algebra. Should keep them quiet for a time. What was it you wanted Headmistress?” 

“I have uncovered a little prank that I think has rather a nasty undercurrent. Jessica, you teach Cathy Pargeter, Joan Langley and Alicia Spink don’t you? And Felicity you teach Kelly-Anne Thomas. Tell me your opinion of them please.”

Felicity Cartwright spoke first. “Kelly-Anne is a timid girl, easily lead and highly strung, I can’t imagine her doing something really bad.”

Jessica Beacham continued “Well Joan Langley is like that too. She latches onto more outgoing girls for their protection, she’d be a prime target for bullies. She isn’t as bright as the other two you mentioned. Now Alicia Spink is very forward and outspoken. She has the loudest mouth, often a sign of being less of a thinker. She might be in the thick of trouble but unlikely to be the brains behind it. On the other hand, Cathy Pargeter is one of those brainy people who can plan something, then get others to carry it out.”

“Well you’ve hit the nail on the head with that Jessica. Tell me, why did you put those three in detention?”

“I caught them cheating in a test. They had been passing their answers around to each other, but none of them knew the capital of Turkey, They’d all put down Constantinople, which of course isn’t what we now call that city anyway.”

“Well I am going to make an example of all of them. Joan Langley is going to go into the year below. Her birthday is in August and she is behind anyway. She will see it as a punishment, as intended, but it may be a blessing for her in the long run. I am going to transfer Alicia Spink into your class Felicity, I hope that’s all right with you. Have you got a bright girl that we can give to Jessica? Otherwise she will be down three.”

“Yes Gloria Baker is one of my brightest, she’s already read all of Byron’s poems.”

“She’s one of our scholarship girls isn’t she?”

“Yes her parents work in the biscuit factory, but she is awfully bright.”

“Excellent, think you can give her some stretch Jessica?”

“Definitely, we are starting Keats next term, that will stretch her alright.”

“Very good Ladies. I will be removing Cathy Pargeter altogether. I am going to speak to her father and then, depending on that meeting, either ask her to leave altogether, or give Beatrice Jameson a free hand with her. You can go back to your classes now. Jessica please send those three in to me will you?”

As they turned to leave Miss Huntley asked another question.

“Tell me Jessica, do you like toads?”

“Yes Headmistress I’m rather fond of amphibians in general.”

“So if you opened a draw and one popped out, it wouldn’t faze you?”

“No, not at all. Why?”

“Oh, no reason, off you go.”

About 15 minutes later the unholy trio came into the Headmistresses office. Three chairs had been arranged in front of the desk.

“Please sit down girls, I want to have a word with you.”

The three sat down, Alicia Spink in the middle and flanked by Cathy Pargeter on her right and Joan Langley on her left.

“I just have to speak to my secretary for a minute. Just sit there and think about what you have done and don’t touch anything.”

When Miss Huntley had left the room Alicia Spink immediately spoke up.

“What do you think the old bag knows Cathy? She can’t know about that Toad, can she? We put the frighteners on Kelly-Anne alright, she wouldn’t tell on us surely?”

Cathy replied tersely “Keep your mouth shut Alicia, she can’t know much. If she did tell, it’s her word against ours. Just deny everything. What did you do with the homework book Alicia?”

“It’s still in my locker, shall I dump it somewhere?”

“No, take it home and burn it, that’ll teach the little runt not to mess with us. Now remember keep quiet. Joan, you’re good at turning on the old water works, cry your eyes out if she gets close to the truth.”

In the next room Miss Huntley sat with her secretary listening to the intercom that she had left on. No one ever thought about the intercom. It was one of her most useful tricks. 

Smiling to herself, she turned to speak to her secretary.

“Ethel, take the master key and retrieve that homework book from Alicia Spink’s locker and bring it in to me in, say, about ten minutes, no need to rush.”

Miss Huntley returned to her desk and gave the girls her best stare. Looking at each of them intensely. Neither Joan or Alicia could look her in the eye. It was not always a sign of guilt, but in this case it was. Cathy Pargeter looked back at her undaunted. Her green eyes didn’t blink. That was a worrying indication. It said to Miss Huntley that not only was Cathy Pargeter guilty as hell, she was also completely lacking in guilt or shame. This was a very dangerous young lady. Miss Huntley had dealt with other dangerous young ladies in her time, this was not the first. All will now depend on speaking to the girls father. 

“So what can you tell me about a certain little toad?” Miss Huntley asked calmly.

“Nothing Mam, we don’t know anything about a toad.” Said Alicia, rather unconvincingly, as she appeared to be addressing the floor in front of her.

“Really, nothing at all? What about a homework book? Can you tell me anything about that?” Miss Huntley probed further.

Joan Langley started crying, or at least making the right noises. 

“What are you making those noises for Miss Langley? Is there something you want to tell me?”

“We really don’t know anything about this Miss Huntley and I must protest that you are upsetting poor Joan.” Said Cathy, speaking for the first time.

“I see. That is how we are going to play it? Is it?” Said Miss Huntley, without a break in her façade.

“Miss Huntley, I will speak to my father about this.” Cathy threatened.

The door then opened and in walked Ethel with Kelly-Anne’s homework book and placed it on the desk in front of the Headmistress.

“Thank you Ethel, you may go now.”

“Hey! That was in my locker, you don’t have the right to go into my locker!” Shouted Alicia indignantly.

“Oh but it isn’t your locker Miss Spink, it is the schools locker and I had reason to suspect I would find this in there. You see I know everything; there is absolutely no use in denying it. Miss Spink you will go back to your desk and pack your things you are moving to Miss Cartwright’s class. You will also be staying in at lunchtimes for the remainder of term. Miss Langley, you too will be kept in at lunch, but you will also be repeating the year. Go and report to Miss Henry. I will be writing to your parents to inform them of my decision. You may go now.”

The two girls left the room, in a bit of a rush.

“As for you Miss Pargeter, you mentioned your father, who I am well aware is our Member of Parliament. I will be arranging a meeting with him myself. Until that meeting you will remove yourself from my school. You will remain suspended until I have decided otherwise. Now get out of my sight.”

Miss Huntley did take some pleasure from seeing the colour drain from Cathy Pargeter’s face before she left. She wouldn’t have been human if she didn’t.

“Now comes the most tedious part of the whole thing. I will have to speak to that odious bore, the Right Honourable Member of Parliament, Mr Bernard Pargeter. This job does have its down side.” Sighing to herself, Miss Huntley picked up the telephone to dial and arrange the meeting.

The End. 

 

Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 09/April/2018

 

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

 

via Daily Prompt: Rush