Chapter 2

477 Words
Chapter 2 Week 3, Instructor Calendar, February 1896 “It will be fine. Everyone will understand,” Concordia soothed, as a distraught freshman balked at going through the chapel doors. The girl sniffed. “Why do those sophomores have to be so cruel, Miss Wells?” Another freshman – also gloveless – tossed her head and glared in the direction of the smirking sophomores. “Well, I for one do not give a jot about it.” Once inside the vestibule, however, the young lady’s bravado failed her. She thrust her hands into her coat pockets and leaned closer to Concordia. “We should be able to find the gloves soon, don’t you think?” she whispered. Already straining with the effort of propping open the plank-style doors for the lagging girls, Concordia grunted and prodded them through. Just get through chapel. Then the worst of the drama will be over. Memorial Chapel, now almost half a century old, was one of the original buildings from the 1850s, when the college was first founded as a ladies’ seminary. Its Gothic-revival features gave the structure a sense of boundless height, from the pointed-arch windows and doors, to the vaulted ceilings and steep gables. The chapel proper was made of wood, with ornate scrollwork moldings throughout the interior. The asymmetrically adjoining bell tower was constructed of local limestone, and topped with a crenellated parapet that made it look like a miniature castle. It had taken a few weeks of passing the building before Concordia could approach it without stopping to stare. She followed the students as they filed in. As was the custom, the formal procession started with the senior faculty, then the students by their class: seniors, juniors, and so on. The younger faculty, Concordia among them, came in behind the freshmen, in order to shepherd any stragglers. That meant Lady Principal Hamilton would be near the front, and not likely to notice the gloveless freshmen, at least for a little while. She noticed a lot of the freshman girls from other cottages had their hands thrust in pockets. The residents of Willow Cottage hadn’t been the only victims, apparently. Strangely, the usual orderly line into the chapel seemed to disintegrate. From her position in the back, Concordia heard gasps and the chatter of excited voices, as the girls in front crowded along the steps leading up to the altar. Concordia pushed past the students, to where the other teachers stood, staring. Perched atop the table sat a group of crudely sewn dolls, their likenesses rough but recognizable: of the school’s President, Dean, and Lady Principal, along with Miss Bellini, Miss Jenkins—and Concordia observed an unflattering but unmistakable rendition of herself, complete with red yarn hair and drawn-on eyeglasses. The figures were lined up neatly, save for one. The back of Concordia’s neck prickled at the sight of the doll-figure of Lady Principal Hamilton, flung on its back, a knife through its heart. Gloves littered the floor at the altar’s base. The sophomores had, at last, outdone their predecessors.
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