Boredom that’s what my life is. Sheer boredom. This thought circles my head like a dog chasing its tail, as I gaze out the window of my French lesson. In the distance, I can see the white horse crests that dance and gallop on the tips of the waves, the wind egging and pushing them on.
I shiver, and return to the abandoned book of my French translation of god knows what. I do not understand French and it-and its teacher- do not understand my dislike of it. Instead continuing to dance in my face and thrust random verbs up my nose in the hope that someday I will understand thedifference between manger and mange.
This aggravating professor now pipes up. “Mademoiselle Wilde, would you like to explain why your concentration has lapsed?”
Lapsed it has, especially whilst you were talking, you old, interfering-“Miss Wilde?”
My train of thought is interrupted by a further question. It wouldn’t do to bait her, would it?
I feign interest in my fingers which are smudged with ink and a couple of scratches.
It’s an order now, that I must answer or pay the consequences. Ho hum.
“Miss Wilde! You will have a detention this evening, five thirty sharp. You know where to go I trust?”
“Because she’s been there so many times!” titters Jemima Harrisson, one of the many girls I have had the misfortune to meet at this blasted boarding school.
I raise my head. “For not answering back?” I ask, watching Madame Beaufort mount up to explosive mode.
“And sheer cheek too!”
I raise an eyebrow. Before she can give out another detention, the bell clangs, followed by the slamming of desks and the thudding of books. I throw everything down and dash for the door. Deportment begins in an hour so that hour is mine to enjoy, if enjoyment is possible for me at Grey’s Finishing School for Girls.
I struggle through the sea of pale blue uniforms and neatly arranged buns in various shades of brown and blonde. My deep chestnut, slightly reddish hair is already escaping from its prison. Pressing through the scrum, I turn off at a side corner and pass through the empty parlour. At the end there is a servant’s back door, which leads down a narrow flight of steps and into the grounds.
The girl’s stream out onto the well tended lawns and clump into their own social circles. All involve gossip. I follow a small winding trail that circles around the back of the school, down the hill toward the sea. I speed up and it turns off slightly to the left. There it joins a wider road which leads to the stables. I sidle round a haystack and approach my favourite groom.
“Hello, Jack.” He turns and his face breaks into a smile of wondrous excitement and slight anxiety.
“Gracie!” I smile and dash forward. We collide and he lifts me up in a whirl, never ceasing to amaze me with his trick. I let out a small whoop and am instantly put down again with a reproachful look.
“Sorry! It’s not my fault that my stuffy French teacher leaves me gasping for air!”
“It’s not that Grace! It’s that you shouldn’t be here. What if one of the girls followed you?” His voice, rich with laughter and laced with fun is marred by the ever present drip of worry. I sigh.
“Why would they follow me? And what’s life without a little risk if they did?” I plead with his now wavering warm brown eyes.