To Train A Wild Rose

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Chapter 11 - Lessons

Git Features was back again in the morning, bright and early and… like… totally cheerful. I could have comfortably strangled him and Ro came dangerously close to telling him what she thought about him waking her up at that sort of time.

But I sort of guessed he wouldn’t have particularly enjoyed that.

And I sort of guessed that he would have made sure that I didn’t particularly enjoy what came next all that much either.

But he had brought me a mug of the ‘café au lait’ stuff and a bowl of müesli with fresh fruit and yogurt, both of which were totally delicious. He stuffed them into me and I guess that helped a little bit with my… like… delightful, early morning mood thing.

But then he told me that he had also brought in a sheet of maths questions for me and, of course, my early morning grump basically came right back! “I don’t expect you to be able to answer them all,” he told me. “I just want you to show me what you can do.”

And worse, even, than having an early morning maths test was the whole cheerful thing he had going on.

I did as much as I thought I could get away with by way of letting him know what I thought about the whole idea but, when he saw that, he just sort of ruffled my hair and told me, “You don’t have to pretend you like it. All you have to do is get on with it.”

He was right, I guess. I mean… I totally hated the idea but I guess I didn’t hate it quite enough to have a big row about it… particularly when I knew I was going to end up losing anyway.

So I dropped into his kow-tow thing and, as soon as he was out of the way, I took off the blindfold and just chucked it off to one side. Then I sort of slumped across to the table, collapsed into the chair and had a look at the stupid thing.

He was right about me not being able to answer all the questions. I mean, it started with ‘3 + 4’ but, by the middle of the second side, there were… like… heaps of these funny symbols that I didn’t even recognise.

I sort of wanted to ignore the thing but I knew that git-features could do the grumpy thing a whole lot better than me so I gave a bit of a sigh and got on with it. So I worked my way through as many of the stupid things as I could manage and then I sort of put my feet up on the bed and tried to snooze for a bit.

He really shouldn’t drag me out of bed so early!

When the lights flashed, I gave a bit of a sigh and sat up… and then I sort of noticed my answers and realised that they were… like… a total mess… I mean… it probably wasn’t quite one of his proper punishment things but I might just have got myself a slapped wrist…

And, if I was honest with myself, I probably deserved it.

And then I couldn’t find his stupid blindfold thing. “Hang on!” I shouted as I desperately hunted around for it. At last I found the stupid thing - somehow it had managed to crawl under the bed - so I hurried to pull it on. “Ready now!” I shouted as I dropped into his kow-tow thing.

For some reason, the room sounded all echoey as he walked across to the table. I heard him pick up the paper but he didn’t tell me I could kneel up and, without him saying any words, I sort of knew that I was in trouble.

He was quiet for… like… basically forever - I guessed he was sort of inspecting my effort - and at last the whole tension bit grew too much for me. “I’m sorry, Master,” I said, my forehead still pressed to the floor. “It’s a bit messy.”

“You’re not wrong there,” he observed, unusually sharply. “You may rise.”

I knelt nervously in front of him as he paced around the room… and I could tell that he was still looking at my work. But suddenly he sort of exploded. “How in the name of goodness can eight and twelve give an odd number?”

“I’m sorry, Master,” I said, dropping my forehead to the floor into the kow-tow thing. For some reason, it just seemed like the obvious thing to do when I knew I was in trouble.

“It’s OK, Babygirl,” he said, coming over to help me to kneel up. “I’m not really angry… well maybe I am angry but certainly not with you… possibly with whoever taught you mathematics… but more probably with whoever taught them!”

He absent mindedly removed a nervously straying finger from my mouth and gave me a sort of single finger tap on the back of it, by way of telling me off, before sitting down.

“Right, he said, taking my two hands in his. You’ve got two boxes. I’m going to put eight socks in this one,” he shook one of my hands, “how many pairs?”

“Four.”

“And twelve socks…”

“Six pairs?” I suggested, sort of cautiously.

“Are you asking me or telling me?”

“Six pairs!” I said a bit more confidently. I guess I knew, really.

“Good girl! …in this one. First thing… all the socks are in pairs at the start so when you put them all in one box, they’ll still be in pairs, won’t they?”

I thought about it then nodded. I guess it was kind of obvious, really.

“And so… odd or even number of socks?”

“Even number… I’m sorry, Master. I always use a calculator.”

“I rather suspected that might be the case. Anyway, eight socks…” he shook the one hand, “twelve socks,” he shook the other. “Now, you’re going to move two of the socks from the twelve box to the eight. How many in the eight box now?”

“Ten… and ten! Twenty socks altogether!”

“Good girl! Come here!”

He sort of swept me onto his lap and kind of squidged me. “Now, thirteen socks and seventeen socks… how many are you going to move?”

“Three… so ten… and twenty… thirty!”

Another of his squidge type things! “Now a hard one. Twenty four socks and seventeen socks. How many are you going to move?”

I thought about it. “That’s not going to work.”

“Try moving three.”

“So twenty one and… twenty. Forty one socks. We’ve found an odd one!”

He chuckled and ruffled my hair. “We had an odd one in the seventeen sock box at the start, didn’t we?”

I thought about this then nodded. It sort of made sense.

“Now a hard one. Ninety eight socks and seventeen socks. How many to make the Ninety eight sock box happy?”

“Two… so… one hundred and fifteen.”

He squidged me again and gave me a big, sloppy kiss on the cheek and of course I gave a bit of a squeak. Somehow, I didn’t remember maths lessons being this much fun when I was in school!

“OK, Babygirl, I want you to repeat this sheet but this time you are only to look at questions one to sixty.”

“Yes, Master.”

“And, whilst you’re working, you are going to sit in a manner that demonstrates to me that you are concentrating properly. And…”

He left one of his pointed silence things.

“And when you have finished, you are going to sit in a manner that demonstrates to me that you are a human being rather than an orangutan.” He did this sort of blowing a raspberry thing into my neck which I guess should of been totally yucky but it sort of tickled and made me giggle. “I’ll be keeping an eye on you!”

“Yes, Master!” I repeated.

“Oh, and just so we’re clear what I’m expecting: You are more than capable of answering all those questions so, any errors and you will have to repeat the whole sheet; and if your answers look anything like this,” I heard him waving them around in the air, “I’m not even going to bother looking at it.”

I could hear him scrunching up the sheet and lobbing it towards the bin. “Missed!” he muttered.

“I’ll tidy it up for you,” I volunteered. But then I guess that my Ro bit sort of noticed what I had just said and I… like… totally froze. What was I thinking? I was supposed to hate this guy.

But my master must have noticed - I guess that’s a problem with being all snuggled up on his lap like that. “Tell me what’s the matter, Babygirl,” he told me.

I hesitated.

“Come on, Babygirl,” he said all sort of gently. “I just told you to tell me what you’re thinking. You must know by now that you will not be in trouble for truthfully doing so.”

“OK, you’ve just told me that my work isn’t good enough.” Once I’d started, the words just sort of came pouring out of me, “and you’ve thrown it away… and told me to do it again… and you’ve got me locked up in your bathroom… and you’ve said I look like an orangutan… and I don’t hate you.” I did a bit of a silence thing then added, “Oh and I’m glad you missed the bin because it means there’s at least one thing you can’t do perfectly!”

And there was a fair wedge of snark in that last bit.

He laughed at that, then sort of squidged me really tight.

“OK, I know that last one was a bit petty,” I admitted with bad grace.

“I certainly did not say that you looked like an orangutan… merely that you were sitting like one - all slumped up there with far too much in the way of shoulders and elbows and things!”

We both giggled at that.

“And, just to be clear,” he said. I could hear the smile in his voice, “there are many, many things that I cannot do perfectly. That will, however, never stop me from trying. And the reason you don’t hate me… it’s because you know I care about you.”

He hugged me again and we were both quiet for a long time. I still sort of wanted to hate him but, unfortunately, I knew he was right.

“I’ve got things to do,” he said at last, giving me a kiss on the cheek, “and so have you.” He did this funny squeezy type thing to my thigh… like… just above my knee and I gave a squeak. It sort of tickled but it felt a little bit kind of… like… personal too, a bit… well… sort of intimate… the kind of thing a daddy might do, I guess…

Not that I’d know anything about that, of course.

But I was still giggling as he lowered me down onto my knees to do his kow-tow thing.

And, when I took off my blindfold, I found that he had left this totally ginormous cookie on the table… I mean… it was pretty much overlapping the plate it was sitting on. I knew I wasn’t allowed to touch it, of course, but there was nothing to stop me from having a very careful look… and a very careful smell! It had all sorts of nuts and raisins and stuff in it… and I sort of knew that it was going to be for us to share if I got the questions all right.

So, with that cookie there to encourage me, I sat down ‘in a manner that demonstrates you are concentrating properly’ and set to work on his sheet.

And, when I was done, I checked my answers very, very carefully indeed. I was starting to see the way Mr M’s mind worked and any silly mistakes would definitely mean no cookie.

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