“What’s it like, teaching in Japan?”
Head tilts forward with a hint of a grin, eyebrow raised, “You ever read Orwell?”
Wide-eyed now, “As in 1984? Big Brother, Room 101… Thought Police!”
Chuckles, then breaks into a full smile, “That’s society. For understanding what goes on around the ‘business end’ of education, A Clergyman’s Daughter is a good read, especially for people on the teaching side of that ‘profession’.”
“No. Haven’t read it. By the way you talk about it, it reminds me of that gentleman’s joke the jowly one told… something about merely negotiating a price.”
“Well, it can be like that. What I’m thinking about is Dorothy’s story, particularly Chapter 4.”
“Here, let me try. Will only take a few minutes. Anyone who has done the rounds should be able to get every line. Here, let me pour you another one."
IPA image of cleansing beverage 'borrowed' from here.
In a soft, reassuring tone, "It’s on the house. Now, just sit back, relax, and get ready to watch the thoughts scroll.”
* * * * *
How it had all been settled so quickly, and what kind of school it could be that would take on a total stranger, and unqualified at that, in the middle of the term, Dorothy could hardly imagine. (163)
Nobody knew what the feud was about, not even Mrs Creevy or Mr Boulger themselves; it was a feud that they had inherited from earlier proprietors of the two schools. In the mornings after breakfast they would stalk up and down their respective back gardens, beside the very low wall that separated them, pretending not to see one another and grinning with hatred. (164)
You could tell her [Boss Creevy] at a glance for a person who knew exactly what she wanted, and would grasp it as ruthlessly as any machine; not a bully exactly—you could somehow infer from her appearance that she would not take enough interest in you to want to bully you—but a person who would make use of you and then throw you aside with no more compunction than if you had been a worn-out scrubbing-brush. (165)
‘Well, now, to come back to what I was saying, Miss Strong was all right as a teacher, but she didn’t come up to my ideas on what I call the MORAL SIDE…Miss Strong, Miss Brewer— well, she had what I call a weak nature. You don’t get on with girls if you’ve got a weak nature. The end of it all was that one morning one little girl crept up to the desk with a box of matches and set fire to Miss Brewer’s skirt. Of course I wasn’t going to keep her after that. In fact I had her out of the house the same afternoon—and I didn’t give her any refs either, I can tell you!’
‘You mean you expelled the girl who did it?’ said Dorothy, mystified. ‘What? The GIRL? Not likely! You don’t suppose I’d go and turn fees away from my door, do you? I mean I got rid of Miss Brewer, not the GIRL. (166)
On top of the wardrobe, when she was putting her clothes away, she found a cardboard box containing no less than nine empty whisky bottles—relics, presumably, of Miss Strong’s weakness on the MORAL SIDE. (167-8)
She sliced the two eggs into thin strips, and then served them in such a way that Dorothy received about two-thirds of an egg. With some difficulty Dorothy spun out her fraction of egg so as to make half a dozen mouthfuls of it, and then, when she had taken a slice of bread and butter, she could not help glancing hopefully in the direction of the dish of marmalade. But Mrs Creevy was sitting with her lean left arm—not exactly ROUND the marmalade, but in a protective position on its left flank, as though she suspected that Dorothy was going to make an attack upon it. Dorothy’s nerve failed her, and she had no marmalade that morning—nor, indeed, for many mornings to come.(169)
For instance, there was her avarice over money. It was the leading interest of her life. There are two kinds of avaricious person— the bold, grasping type who will ruin you if he can, but who never looks twice at twopence, and the petty miser who has not the enterprise actually to MAKE money, but who will always, as the saying goes, take a farthing from a dunghill with his teeth. Mrs Creevy belonged to the second type. By ceaseless canvassing and impudent bluff she had worked her school up to twenty-one pupils, but she would never get it much further, because she was too mean to spend money on the necessary equipment and to pay proper wages to her assistant.(179)
So she sat still, with pink humiliated face, amid the circle of parents, and presently her anger turned to misery, and she realized that she was going to begin crying if she did not struggle to prevent it. But she realized, too, that if she began crying it would be the last straw and the parents would demand her dismissal. To stop herself, she dug her nails so hard into the palms that afterwards she found that she had drawn a few drops of blood. (192)
‘You’re not to think as I can’t do without you, mind,’ proceeded Mrs Creevy. ‘I can pick up teachers at two a penny any day of the week, M.A.s and B.A.s and all. Only the M.A.s and B.A.s mostly take to drink, or else they—well, no matter what—and I will say for you you don’t seem to be given to the drink or anything of that kind. I dare say you and me can get on all right if you’ll drop these new-fangled ideas of yours and understand what’s meant by practical school-teaching. So just you listen to me.’(193)
And though some of them are better than others, and a certain number, probably, are better than the council schools with which they compete, there is the same fundamental evil in all of them; that is, that they have ultimately no purpose except to make money. Often, except that there is nothing illegal about them, they are started in exactly the same spirit as one would start a brothel or a bucket shop.(197)
Only the tiny minority of ‘recognized’ schools—less than one in ten—are officially tested to decide whether they keep up a reasonable educational standard. As for the others, they are free to teach or not teach exactly as they choose. No one controls or inspects them except the children’s parents—the blind leading the blind.(198)
For over a fortnight Dorothy was quite penniless, for Mrs Creevy had told her that she couldn’t pay her her term’s wages ‘till some of the fees came in’.(202)
The last week came, and the dirty farce of ‘exams’, was carried through. The system, as explained by Mrs Creevy, was quite simple. You coached the children in, for example, a series of sums until you were quite certain that they could get them right, and then set them the same sums as an arithmetic paper before they had time to forget the answers; and so with each subject in turn. The children’s papers were, of course, sent home for their parents’ inspection. And Dorothy wrote the reports under Mrs Creevy’s dictation, and she had to write ‘excellent’ so many times that—as sometimes happens when you write a word over and over again—she forgot how to spell it and began writing in ‘excelent’, ‘exsellent’, ‘ecsellent’, ‘eccelent’.(206)
Thereafter she had marmalade for breakfast every morning. And in other ways Mrs Creevy’s manner became—not indeed, genial, for it could never be that, but less brutally offensive. There were even times when she produced a grimace that was intended for a smile; her face, it seemed to Dorothy, CREASED with the effort. About this time her conversation became peppered with references to ‘next term’. It was always ‘Next term we’ll do this’, and ‘Next term I shall want you to do that’, until Dorothy began to feel that she had won Mrs Creevy’s confidence and was being treated more like a colleague than a slave.(213)
‘And after that,’ added Mrs Creevy, ‘I’ve got a little something as I want to say to you.’ Dorothy’s heart stirred. Did that ‘little something’ mean the longed-for rise in wages? It was just conceivable. Mrs Creevy produced a worn, bulgy leather purse from a locked drawer in the dresser, opened it and licked her thumb.
‘Twelve weeks and five days,’ she said. ‘Twelve weeks is near enough. No need to be particular to a day. That makes six pounds.’ She counted out five dingy pound notes and two ten-shilling notes; then, examining one of the notes and apparently finding it too clean, she put it back into her purse and fished out another that had been torn in half. She went to the dresser, got a piece of transparent sticky paper and carefully stuck the two halves together. Then she handed it, together with the other six, to Dorothy.
‘There you are, Miss Millborough,’ she said. ‘And now, will you just leave the house AT once, please? I shan’t be wanting you any longer.’(214)
* * * * *
"Anyway, it's all familiar to me. Now, if you'll excuse me, it's time to start cleaning up... evening is coming."
"No, you can take your time... just got some other things that need to get worked out."
Material referenced from PDF of A Clergyman's Daughter electronically 'got' from BOOKYARDS.com in Canada 'n says it's considered public domain in Canada. So it's gotta' be legal 'cept if you're livin' in the US. Which I ain't.