mistressmaryquitecontrary: (Default)
mistressmaryquitecontrary ([personal profile] mistressmaryquitecontrary) wrote2008-03-07 10:55 pm

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It's among the younger girls, the eight- and nine-year-olds in the lowest level math class, that Mary finds herself most comfortable. She doesn't know anything about girls her own age, but thanks to Ingress, younger ones are not entirely an unknown quantity. She helps them with their problems, sometimes - with some condescension, it must be admitted, acting more out of a desire to show off what she knows than anything else, but all the same, she does help. She's stiff and not terribly friendly, but she talks to them as she talks to everyone, as if they are sensible beings who ought to be expected to be sensible. Some of the younger girls resent this, and consider her just as stupid for being among them as the older girls do. One or two of the others, though, start to rather admire her, in a shy sort of way. To these girls, after a few weeks, she tells stories of India, of the elephants and the Rajahs, and of her friend Dickon who can do Magic, though she doesn't tell this last part where any adults can hear.

(She doesn't tell them about Milliways. She's not stupid.)

As spring starts to approach, and the first crocuses begin popping up, it becomes harder for her to sit through her classes than she had ever thought it would be. The teachers have to call her back inside three or four times at the end of their ordained exercise period, and she goes with ill grace, craning her neck out the window for a last glimpse of growing things.

She thinks often of her garden. She trusts Dickon, with her life and anything, but - but -

One day, she sees a groundskeeper out the window, and boldly breaks outside in order to speak with him. She asks him several questions about the grounds. His replies are short; he looks nervous, and when she demands to know why, he raises his eyes to hers for the first time and tells her that he might lose his position for speaking to the young misses.

Mary flushes dark red and storms back inside. She does not attempt the experiment again.

(She doesn't cry at night from homesickness. She does not. She was never sentimental upon leaving India. There is no reason she should be sentimental now. She has things to learn, and to do, and days to count down until she can go home again, one by one.

When the ache of missing things comes on her in the night - an ache she's not used to; she's never felt it before, not so great, not all at once for everything - she lies very still and recites her lists of vocabulary, over and over again.

It works most of the time.)

The days pass one by one, and spring comes closer.

And then, suddenly, it's here, and she's in the carriage, going home.