Upsetting The Old Order.
Angela, as the eldest and most senior girl, had the largest private bedroom in the senior dormitory.
There were just two beds in it, but she shared it with no one. It had been her choice. She had nothing in common with most of the other girls, who prattled on endlessly, and she valued her privacy. Besides, as the eldest girl, she had permission to stay up for as long as she needed to, to study, read, or to get her many self-imposed projects completed, and it would not have been fair to do that to another girl who wanted only to sleep.
Her room adjoined a common-room with comfortable chairs that the older girls could sit in, in their nightclothes and robes after dark, just before they retired. That was where they drank their hot chocolate or milk, that they had been allowed to bring up from the kitchen in thermos flasks (they were organized when it came to their comforts), and discussed what interested them; mostly sex, with boys or men (sometimes much older men), and rarely much else, other than spats with cruel parents, usually over money, jewelry and marriage. Children did not enter into their thoughts. Forgotten at that moment were their academic struggles, the frustrations of the day, and even its embarrassments.
When the time came for ‘lights out’, announced by a bell which rang in their section of the dormitory, they were supposed to disperse to their respective rooms and retire for the night, but often did not. They put the lights out, of course, in order not to attract attention to their flouting that rule--only one of the many they ignored--and continued to sit there, talking, bathed in the glow from the very low wattage lights left burning throughout the school for safety, as they continued their conversations.
Ideally they would have preferred to have been sitting in front of a blazing fire, or have been lying naked, on a sheepskin rug with an attentive lover, perhaps a mysterious Sheik who had abandoned the rest of his harem just for her, or Mr. Illingsworth, Robert, the ’whacking-thighed, glisteningly naked young man who worked in the school. They imagined that he had just stepped out of the shower, his naked body still steaming, and he was approaching her with unmistakable intent for her, obvious upon his eager body as he bore down on her, and as she slowly rolled onto her back to welcome him into her arms, between her legs, and he boar-ed into her for the rest of that hectic night.
This particular evening, Angela had changed into her nightdress, and joined them. She didn’t feel tired, and she was not a stickler for rules and regulations, which they appreciated about her.
She sat with them, listening to the rain coming down much harder now on the slates above their heads, and hammering into the windows on the eastern side of their dormitory.
She brought her bare feet up onto the seat with her (no worries about who might see her do that indecorous act) and read, as they talked. She heard everything they discussed, accepting that most of what they said, often quite graphic, was a necessary part of all of their growing up, but she was mostly focused upon her book until something that was said caught her attention, and then she listened too, out of curiosity, to learn something. She rarely added her own thoughts unless a question were directed at her.
When the bell sounded for ‘lights out’—it was on an automatic alarm that was adjusted to an hour-later for the weekend, but now was set to sound at 9 pm—she closed her book, marking the place she had got to, just as one of the girls dutifully put out the lights. She put the book on her seat, and wandered over to the window to look out over the grounds as her eyes gradually adjusted to the lower light.
She could see that Miss Bagnold’s lights in the school office were still on, and could even see her on the telephone. Soon, she would retire too, then her bedroom light, immediately above the school office would go on for about fifteen minutes before she too, turned in.
Miss Bagnold was a creature of habit, which all of the girls relied upon.
Once she had retired, some of the older girls would usually either go up onto the roof to continue their discussion, if it were a warm evening (they had discovered how to do that), or would go outside and wander upon the lawns in their bare feet and out of sight of the school office and Miss Bagnold’s room, as they hoped to see Robert’s light on, where he sometimes slept in the school if he had been working late. They wanted to watch him undress. They had never succeeded in doing that. Tonight, neither of those activities could be entertained, so they sat and talked, and then dribbled off to brush their teeth before they retired.