Bill Todd -- BOLLINGER: A Novel of the Prairie
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 Chapter 5

A Schoolgirl

Miss Barbara Bowen, aged seventeen, was a unique person at St. Monica's School, a new girl and a senior. From Wilmette, Illinois, an especially desirable part of Chicago's opulent North Shore, she had previously excelled at a highly competitive public high school. The school was, in fact, so good that young people who might normally have gone to private schools did so only if it looked as if they wouldn't be able to make the grade at New Trier High School.

Barbara and her mother naturally expected that she would complete her senior year at New Trier, and then go on to the college of her choice. The problem was Barbara's father. A self-made businessman of great wealth and little formal education, Bob Bowen was suspicious of the education that Barbara was receiving.

Originally a Catholic, Mr. Bowen had, some six months previously, re-discovered his roots in a big way. His children, he said, must have Catholic educations. Barbara's younger brother was put immediately into a parochial school. She managed to talk her father into letting her finish the year at New Trier on condition that she go to a Catholic boarding school her senior year. This last had touched her father's imagination. He wanted her, not only to be Catholic, but to acquire the social airs and graces which were submerged in math and physics at New Trier. Barbara's mother pointed out,

"At a school like that, the nuns' idea of a science lab would probably consist in an egg beater and a mixing bowl."

Her husband said that such things didn't matter.

Barbara was not as disturbed at these developments as someone else in her position might have been. Her test scores would get her into any college she wanted, and, compared to New Trier, St. Monica's amounted to an academic vacation. It amused her that the school's literature said that it concentrated on religion and the social graces, and didn't mention education at all.

On first arriving in the outskirts of Bollinger and being confronted with a perfectly level horizon in all directions, Barbara was somewhat taken aback. She would have liked a few irregularities in the landscape, and she also found it discouraging that the farmers had long since cut down whatever trees there might once have been. Still, the school itself was situated on a winding creek which cut a valley of some five or ten feet. There were rows of pretty willows planted alongside it, and Barbara concluded that it would do her no great harm to spend a year in the middle of a great open space.

Having passed through the town of Bollinger, she quickly decided that there wasn't much point in leaving the school grounds. Had Ken Seitz had the opportunity of meeting Barbara, he would have found, but for her tact, that her attitudes confirmed all his worst suspicions about the school.

Barbara didn't take the religious teaching at St. Monica's in the way her father had intended, or in any serious way at all. But it took her only ten minutes now and then to memorize everything that was required. The other courses mostly attempted to teach, in some cases badly, what Barbara already knew. However, a student who looked alert, and could follow two things at once, could put a more interesting book in the same school covers as the textbooks. Boredom was thus forestalled.

The one teacher who didn't fit the school pattern was the Latin teacher, Mrs. Hanrahan. Barbara took to her immediately, and undertook to master the language and literature. For the rest, she had brought with her a large collection of books which she had wanted to read when she got a little time. Many of the books were works of fiction, and some were prohibited to Catholics. Still, Barbara thought that no one would question such an upright citizen as she.

The other part of the school, the one that Barbara didn't automatically regard with amused contempt, was that which taught the social graces. Since all the students came from fairly civilized homes in the first place, she had wondered whether they taught such things as the approved method of dealing with watermelon seeds or the proper form for responding to an invitation from Her Majesty the Queen.

Unfortunately, this part of the school got off to a start hardly better than the other. They actually taught, as the old legend about such schools held, that one shouldn't wear patent leather shoes because of the probability that boys would use them as a mirror to see under one's skirt. It seemed to Barbara that nuns, supposedly so far removed from sex, had surprisingly active imaginations in that area.

After they got past the patent leather shoes, things improved. Aside from instruction in etiquette, there was a constant round of tea parties with small mixed groups of teachers and students. Some were in the afternoon, with students in their uniforms, but others were on Saturday nights, when they dressed up in their own clothes. The object was to take groups of girls, who might normally separate into cliques and giggle, and get them to behave in more civilized ways. For one thing, they were supposed to converse at these gatherings, not just with their particular friends, but with all sorts of different people. The idea seemed to be to teach one how to talk with virtually anyone. Barbara had never tried anything like that, and found it interesting. Once, after Latin class, she remarked to Mrs. Hanrahan,

"It borders on learning to be insincere. You pretend to like people you don't like, and to be interested in things you find boring."

The other replied,

"That's how you start. Later on, it amounts to finding likeable and interesting aspects of people you hadn't liked or found dull. There's also the art of shifting people who want to talk about clothes on to more interesting topics."

Inevitably, there was a great deal of discussion of clothing. Moreover, the evening parties were followed by post-mortems in which each student's choice of clothing was closely dissected and analyzed. The first criterion was, of course, propiety and modesty. However, since everyone knew better than to wear anything daring, the discussions quickly moved on apace to what was called "suitability to the individual." There was another phrase, "the need to express one's femininity," which turned out to be a bit of code. The nuns didn't want the girls to look sexy, but they also didn't want them to look masculine, or even de-sexed. It seemed somewhat paradoxical to Barbara, but she arrived at a conclusion which she again put to Mrs. Hanrahan.

"I think they want us to be attractive to men, and sexually attractive too, but not in such a way that it will look as if we tried to be."

"Yes. That's the way the world works, and not just the Catholic world either. It's all part of the point of any private girls' school: How to look good enough and act well enough to catch the right kind of husband without admitting what you're doing."

Barbara was surprised at this much candor, even from Mrs. Hanrahan. She replied only,

"I'd rather learn Latin myself."

"You feel that way because you're really quite beautiful. You don't need the other stuff. It's all aimed at girls who have to go to great lengths to be attractive at all. You'd be surprised how much some of these nuns know about make-up and the allied arts. They know how not to cross the fine line between what will make a plain or average woman attractive and what will only make her ridiculous."

At last, Barbara felt that she was learning things she wouldn't have learned at New Trier.

Another interesting aspect of life at St. Monica's was the special role of the seniors. They had many privileges, including private rooms in the dormitories, each with a private bath. They were also allowed to go out on extended passes, and were exempted from study halls and physical training. In return, they were expected to supervise study halls, and, in many cases, to control discipline for the younger girls. In effect, they were supposed to be young ladies with adult status. It went without saying that they were to avoid all forms of undignified or silly girlish behavior.

In recognition of this status, the seniors wore a different form of the school uniform, a green plaid jumper over a white blouse. While the others wore plain cotton blouses, the seniors could wear silk ones with ornamentation or jewelry. The seniors' skirts came below their knees, and, in place of flat heels and white knee socks, they wore stockings and more formal shoes. The result was that the seniors, at least some of them, seemed too elegant to be schoolgirls. As Mrs. Hanrahan said to Barbara,

"You can think of all this as a dry run without boys."

"I've always gone to school with boys."

"How did it go?"

"All right, I guess. I never went very far with any of them, and I suppose I was thought of as a good girl. But the boys I know at home, the interesting ones that I like, tend to be rather timid around girls. I probably would've been bad if there'd been more temptation."

"You're not likely to come across any here."

"I didn't even ask whether we're allowed to have dates."

"The seniors can go to the movies in Orrville if a boy drives down here to take them out. It doesn't happen often, and, when it does, he gets a thorough screening from Sister Rose first."

"The only boys I know are in Chicago, and that's pretty far to come for a date. Anyhow, I haven't encouraged any to come down."

As the first weeks passed, Barbara found herself walking delicately over the school grounds while pretending to be one, and then another, of the ladies in the novels she was reading. Some of these roles required a high degree of snobbery, and Barbara found that she could manage this quite easily. In heels she was well over six feet, and could look down her nose at everyone. Barbara wasn't making friends rapidly, the way she had in high school, but that hardly mattered. After the coming June, she would never again see any of these people except, she hoped, Mrs. Hanrahan.

Barbara's aloofness was noticed quite quickly by Sister Ann after one of the evening parties. Since the seniors weren't criticized in front of others, it was a private session. Barbara replied to this charge,

"I'm sorry sister, I tried to talk with each person in the group."

"You did, dear, but, perhaps you could show a little more warmth. It's probably just that you're new here, and feeling a bit shy."

Barbara, in fact, didn't feel a bit shy. But she did think that it might be time to try a new role.

Role B came from a character in another book. This lady maneuvered her family in high social circles with hardly any money. She did it by arranging for the whole family, either singly or as a unit, to be the guests of other people most of the time. She also used charm to such an extent that the others never noticed or cared that her own entertainments were on a much less lavish scale.

The local application centered around a tea lounge in the senior dormitory, which really amounted almost to a small hotel. There was a maid who served tea, coffee, and little sandwiches for a price. It was open to the faculty as well as the seniors, and to juniors at selected times. The lounge was also one of few places where the girls could spend their money. The revenues went, quite properly, to support missions in Africa.

Barbara began, one evening in her room, by drawing up a chart with the names of the other twenty five seniors up and down the left side, and the weeks, beginning with the present one, across the top. Each week she would enter the amount the other girl had spent on her minus the amount she, Barbara, had spent in return. Her object was to have a net positive balance in all twenty five cases after six weeks.

Role B was much trickier than the previous one, now dubbed Role A. Barbara suddenly became much more effusive and outgoing than before, and she began to dispense compliments liberally. In some cases they were actually sincere. Whether sincere or not, one that generally seemed to be effective was,

"You have a nice speaking voice. I wish I sounded the way you do."

Role B worked on a good many girls right from the outset. They were so pleased to be smiled at by the proud cool beauty, and to have her sit with them, that they were hardly aware of paying. It reminded Barbara of a comment about a famous, but indigent, writer: that he paid in good conversation, the only coin that he possessed.

There were other girls who were not so easy, perhaps because they had been offended by Role A. They had to be solicited gradually, and Barbara paid for quite a few teas in the hope that the tables could later be turned.

The most hostile girl was Jane Davidson, a dumpy unattractive little creature. To break the impasse, Barbara sat down, uninvited, at a table with Jane and another girl. Jane spoke almost not at all, and never directly to Barbara. When it came time, Jane started to refuse to let Barbara pay for her. Barbara had often seen her father overcome that sort of opposition, and managed, rather neatly, to pay and tip the waitress before Jane could intervene. Jane's thanks were certainly mumbled, but they were audible. It was, at least, a start. Jane would certainly want to square the obligation, and Barbara could order coke, which cost more than tea. Then, with the balance in her favor, she could abandon Jane.

During this time, Barbara continued to talk with Mrs. Hanrahan in odd moments. She didn't tell her about roles A and B, but did drop a remark that she was experimenting with her personality. The other replied,

"This is the time to do it. You're not going to learn a great deal in most of the classes here, but you can take this opportunity to learn about yourself."

Many of Mrs. Hanrahan's remarks reflected the fact, fairly obvious to anyone of any perception, that there was dissension among the faculty. On one side was the principal, Sister Rose, and another older nun, Sister Mary Joseph. On the other side were the younger nuns and the only lay teacher, Mrs. Hanrahan. There were a few other nuns who tried to bridge the gap, usually without much success.

Sisters Rose and Mary Joseph were conservative disciplinarians who, whatever they said, were almost automatically suspicious of the purity of human motives. The others tended to be much more liberal. Some of them believed that no girl could be really bad, that people responded better to encouragement than punishment, and other such things. But Sister Rose was the boss. None of the others challenged her directly.

Oddly enough, Role A had split the two older sisters, who seemed otherwise always to agree. It infuriated Sister Mary Joseph, but delighted Sister Rose. The latter clearly thought that Barbara was everything a young lady, both Catholic and gently born, ought to be. Barbara had thus become, by accident, a protege of Sister Rose.

Barbara was in the third week of Role B, with the balance swinging inexorably in her favor, when she had what she afterwards took to be a uniquely Catholic experience. It began, appropriately enough, when she was proctoring an exam for Sister Rose in her religion class. This particular class was for juniors. It was somewhat awkward for Barbara to be in charge of girls hardly younger than herself, but it was part of the somewhat artificial separation between seniors and others.

It wasn't long before Barbara noticed a dark-haired girl in back looking at the paper of the girl to her left. Barbara, uncomfortable, looked the other way. Having read the school rules carefully, she was aware that there were three offenses that entailed expulsion, stealing, lying to a nun, and leaving the school without permission. Barbara suspected that a girl who got pregnant might meet the same fate, but that wasn't mentioned. Heading the list of lesser offences was cheating on a test.

Under the discipline section there were a number of penalties, most involving the loss of one privilege or another for varying lengths of time. The most severe of these lesser punishments was paddling, long a staple of Catholic schools. In Chicago, Barbara knew, it was what distinguished parochial schools from public ones in the minds of boys her little brother's age. At St. Monica's it was applied mostly to the 7th and 8th grade girls, always by seniors. Barbara hadn't been called on to do it, but she knew the procedure. The girl returned to her dormitory, removed her uniform, and stood by her bed waiting for her punishment. According to the others, one had only to tap the girl's bottom a couple of times with the paddle before she would cry and fall on her bed. The punishment could then be considered closed.

In particularly serious cases, presumably including cheating, the punishment was delayed until after dinner. It was then more severe, and was carried out in the common room of the dormitory in front of the others. Barbara liked her little games, but had no desire to inflict that sort of punishment.

The next time Barbara stole a glance, the same girl was looking in the same direction. Barbara, becoming alarmed, looked fixedly at her in the hope of scaring her. The girl looked right back at her, and then at her neighbor's paper.

Consulting the seating chart, Barbara saw that the girl's name was Joanna Porter. Looking back at her, Barbara noticed that she was rather pretty, with full lips, a little pug nose, and glossy dark hair. She looked a bit older than most and, indeed, might have been older than Barbara herself. She looked cute in the way that a college girl might, and was hardly the picture of a rebel.

At that moment, with Barbara's gaze fully on her, Joanna looked directly at the other girl's paper and whispered something. Barbara couldn't imagine what the girl thought she was doing. She herself sat paralyzed at the desk. The whispering continued, and the whole back of the classroom was glancing in Joanna Porter's direction. Action could be delayed no longer.

Barbara rose and walked, she hoped magisterially, down the aisle with her heels sounding sharply on the bare boards. When she arrived, she said,

"I'm sorry, but I'll have to take your paper."

With that, Barbara picked it up. The girl sat still, looking up at her. Barbara spoke, attempting a sympathetic tone.

"I think you'd better go back to your dormitory now."

As the girl left, Barbara returned to the desk, noticing that her hand was shaking. The tension in the room was so great that no one could have ignored it, but Barbara didn't feel that it was hostile to her. After all, there was nothing else that she could have done. The other girls, who would be in the same position the next year, would certainly understand.

When the period finally ended, Barbara collected the papers and headed for Sister Rose's office. On the way, she checked Joanna Porter's partly completed paper against that of the girl who had been sitting next to her. Two answers were copied, word for word.

When Barbara arrived, she almost blurted out what had happened. Sister Rose had her sit down immediately, and went to get coffee for her. Barbara spilled a little on her skirt, but Sister Rose mopped it up with a napkin. She then asked,

"Now, dear, do you think that the other girl, Sandra Black, was involved at all?"

"No, sister, I'm sure she wasn't. She didn't answer back or anything. I'm sure she feels awful about it."

"I'm sure she does. That was really quite a cruel thing Joanna did to Sandra, wasn't it?"

"I suppose it was. I had too much else to think about at the time. To be frank, sister, I ignored it when I first saw it. Then I looked right at Joanna, hoping she'd stop."

Sister Rose patted Barbara's hand as she spoke,

"Yes, it must have been unpleasant for you, too."

There was a moment of silence before Sister Rose asked,

"Tell me, Barbara, why do you think she did it?"

"She probably didn't think I had any business proctoring the exam."


"She may have a point, really. I might not be older than she is."

"That really doesn't matter. She was directly challenging the system we have here, and I'm not prepared to let it go."

Sister Rose paused for a moment, and then continued,

"I know that, at this moment, you're questioning it yourself. You wonder why you have to have this responsibility dumped on you. It has occurred to you that it's my class, and you may wonder why I can't proctor the exams myself."

The older woman smiled conspiratorially, and Barbara found herself returning it weakly. The other then went on,

"The reason is this. People have to grow up and carry responsibility some time. This is nothing compared to what you'll face later in life. I'm certainly sorry that this happened, but it's a test of character for you. I'm sure that you'll manage it well."

"You mean that I'll have to paddle her in front of her dormitory?"

"I know how that sounds. When we put in this punishment, we had little girls in mind. They stray, we give them a couple of whacks on the behind, and it makes just enough impression to keep them on the straight and narrow for a few weeks. I never supposed that a junior would cheat. But the rule is clear enough, and the case is clear enough. It's her fault, not ours."

Barbara was flustered anew.

"She's already challenged me. She may not just stand there and let me paddle her."

"Of course, I'll talk with Joanna first. If this is just her way of saying that she wants to leave the school, I'll call her parents and send her home. But I wouldn't count on that, my dear. I think she'll stay."

Barbara got up slowly to go, and Sister Rose moved beside her, not even coming to Barbara's shoulder. She spoke again in her conspiratorial tone.

"You know, Barbara, nuns like myself are often pictured as sadists. We really aren't. Don't feel that you're being cruel. Joanna is asking for punishment. If we don't give it to her, she'll do something worse."

There was then one final word.

"And then, dear, this is a bit of a lesson for you, too. If you had caught it sooner, it might not have come to this."

On leaving, Barbara felt as if she had been closeted with the Grand Inquisitor, one who, like Dostoevsky's, turned out to be surprisingly human. Barbara didn't know whether Sister Rose was right, but at least there was a rationale.

After lunch, having no afternoon classes, she played tennis. Neither her partner nor anyone else mentioned the incident. Perhaps they hadn't yet heard. There was then time for a leisurely bath. Finally, Barbara dressed for dinner, putting on one of her best blouses. She had heard of wearing clean linen for the executioner. She would now institute the practice of putting on clean linen for the victim.

At one of the two high tables, Barbara chatted casually but rather vacantly. It was no time for Roles A and B. She also couldn't avoid noticing Joanna Porter, who was seated a couple of tables away. She looked only a little subdued, smiling occasionally at her neighbor. It occurred to Barbara that she might herself be blowing a mere schoolgirl incident way out of proportion.

When Sister Rose made the evening announcements after dinner, it wasn't in the voice she had used in her office. At the end, there came the one Barbara was expecting, delivered in a particularly ominous way.

"There has been an instance of cheating in the junior class. I never dreamed that such a thing could happen. The girl at fault will be corrected tonight, and we must all pray that she will take her punishment in the correct spirit."

After the meal, Sister Rose beckoned to Barbara.

"Neither I nor the housemother will be present. This is a girls' matter. I have here the switch. You won't really hurt her, but you must be firm. At least a half dozen good strokes."

Barbara felt quite strange as she walked slowly across the grounds with the leather switch in her hand, so much so that she stumbled and almost broke her heel on some stone steps. Clavell Hall was brightly lit as she approached it. A residence for some fifty girls, ranging from seventh graders to juniors, it was the oldest building on the campus, the original mansion of the wealthy people who had left the land and money for the school.

Mounting the front steps carefully, she was hardly reassured by the thought that there would be no adult inside the building, unless she counted herself. An added irony was the fact that the senior girl, the prefect, was Joanna herself.

When Barbara walked in, trying to conceal the switch in the folds of her skirt, it seemed that all the fifty girls must be present in the large lounge, what had been the living room of the mansion. They all stood back toward the edges of the room, and no one spoke. Barbara, standing in the middle, couldn't pick out Joanna. She then asked, in a voice that sounded odd in her own ears,

"Is Joanna Porter here, please?"

No one spoke. It occurred to Barbara that she might be hiding, and that the others wouldn't say where she was. Finally, one of the other juniors spoke in a voice that Barbara recognized as hostile.

"She's upstairs."

It was possible that she was waiting upstairs to be whipped beside her bed, but Barbara was now determined to follow the letter of the law. She spoke again, this time with more assurance.

"Would someone please ask her to come down?"

When no one moved, Barbara nodded at a younger girl near the staircase. The girl went quickly upstairs, but long minutes passed in silence. Barbara stood still, wondering how long she could afford to wait. It was quite uncomfortable, both physically and psychologically, to have to stand there in the middle of that angry circle, but there was little alternative. It would be a mistake to go upstairs and try to find Joanna. Barbara would have to search every girl's closet, and that would certainly multiply the hostility which already pressed so closely around her. Still, as more minutes passed, Barbara began to feel an odd sort of elation. It was, as Sister Rose had said, a test of character. She was outnumbered fifty to one, but she began to feel that she could wear down the opposition with quiet dignity and perseverence.

Finally, Joanna came slowly downstairs, her hands knotted in her skirt. Obviously tense, it was hard to tell whether she was frightened or angry. She said nothing, but came up and stopped some ten feet from Barbara. The latter said,

"I'm sorry about this, but we'd better get it over with."

The other didn't move, and Barbara pointed to an easy chair in the middle of the room, saying,

"If you could stand holding on to the back of that chair, please."

Joanna walked slowly in the indicated direction while the others, who had practically lined the walls, moved closer. Sullen whispers could now be heard, and there were a few soft calls of encouragement to Joanna. When she reached the position indicated, she looked vaguely at the chair, as if she didn't understand its purpose. She then reached out to touch it and drew back, as if the chair were hot.

Barbara wasn't sure whether Joanna was supposed to take off her uniform to be whipped. The little girls were paddled in their underclothes, but this was a somewhat different ceremony involving, not a paddle, but a switch. It wouldn't have to be applied to bare skin to be painful, but, then, Barbara knew, humiliation was probably more important than pain in the present circumstances.

Barbara, tossing her hair decisively, marched up to the side of Joanna. Before she could give any instructions, the other reached her arms back, unzipped herself, and slid the broad shoulder straps down. Still like a sleepwalker, she put both hands to her temples. The uniform dropped suddenly, leaving Joanna in her blouse and slip. She didn't step out of the uniform, but slowly moved her hands down to her thighs and straightened her posture. She turned her head to Barbara and said,

"You bitch. I'll do the same for you some day."

Barbara was entirely taken aback. For one thing, Joanna, even now, had a rather sweet face. One didn't expect such sentiments or such a tone. Before Barbara could say anything, she continued,

"I've been here four years longer than you. I'm prefect of this house. Have you any idea what it means to be whipped in front of them?"

As Joanna gestured to the others, Barbara started to reply,

"Well, I know .. "

Then she caught herself and finished,

"You're only prolonging it. Please bend over the chair."

Joanna instead turned and shouted to the others,

"What're you good for? You could throw this slut out, but you're just gonna stand there and watch me get it, aren't you?"

When there was no answer, Joanna screamed hysterically,

"I hope you enjoy it."

With that she yanked her slip up and bent over the chair.

Barbara stood for a few seconds. She didn't anger quickly or easily, but the whole thing was entirely Joanna's fault. Moreover, Barbara didn't like being called a bitch and a slut. Joanna was, contrary to appearances, a very nasty girl. Barbara aimed for her protruding buttocks, showing pink through her white nylon underpants. When she landed her stroke, Joanna screamed, but held on. Her whole body was shaking, her rear end waiting for another blow, but also cringing. Barbara, alarmed to find herself causing such pain, struck again, but not nearly as hard. Joanna screamed again, and started crying and cursing. Barbara hesitated as the other girl remained bent before her, obviously expecting to be hit again. In Barbara's mind there flashed an image of the way this scene would look to anyone observing it. Probably like something out of the Third Reich.

Almost before she knew it, Barbara found herself walking briskly to the front door. As she half turned to go out, she caught sight of the others moving toward Joanna. The latter was crying softly, both hands on her rear. Barbara was tempted to go back to try to placate her, but gave it up as a bad job. As she went quickly down the front steps, she decided that there was something wrong with Sister Rose's reasoning.

The next day, neither Sister Rose nor anyone else asked what had happened. However, Barbara continued to be bothered by the incident, and, wanting to discuss it, she sought out Mrs. Hanrahan. The other, who lived in Orrville and came in only for her classes, hadn't heard of it. When told the story, she replied,

"There are times when I have doubts about teaching here. However, my husband's located in Orrville, and they don't teach Latin in the schools there. One thing, though. It might be a good thing for you to call your parents and tell them about this. They could see to it that nothing like this happens to you again."

According to Mrs. Hanrahan, the incident of the previous evening was merely another episode in something larger. It seemed that there was always enmity between the senior and junior classes because of the power the one had over the other. There was even bad blood between the sophomore and junior classes because the one knew that the other would have that control the next year. As Mrs. Hanrahan described it, the school sounded like a penal colony, never far from rebellion against the nuns and seniors. Moreover, Clavell Hall, the largest dormitory, was generally the center of this rebellion.

"My guess is that, while you were walking over, Joanna was trying to get the others not to let you in. They didn't quite dare, and so she hid upstairs. If you'd gone looking for her yourself, you wouldn't have found her."

"I didn't realize it was quite like that. The others can't really rebel can they? Wouldn't Sister Rose do something terrible to them?"

"She can't really do a great deal. If she did, it would get to the parents. If even a fourth of them took their girls out, it'd be the end of the school."

"Well, it looks as if Latin isn't the only thing I'm learning. How to survive in a dog-eat-dog world, for example."

Mrs. Hanrahan pushed her black hair back and replied,

"That is how Sister Rose perceives the real world. When anyone objects that there's too much conflict here, she replies that the girls have to learn how to deal with it."

"It wasn't like this at my high school, but the world my father competes in may be as bad or worse. Maybe that's why he wanted me to come here."

Bill Todd -- BOLLINGER: A Novel of the Prairie
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