Anne sat, very grateful for the concealment of the desk, though it could not conceal from her the slickness of her thighs from her private part's strange excitement. Miss Halton stood, and walked around to the front of her desk. Anne noticed for the first time just how severe was the contrast between the schoolmistress' ordinary grey gown and her pupils' odd state of undress.
"Now," Miss Halton said, "who can tell me what Cassandra should have done, when Apollo came into her window?"
Ursula put up her hand immediately, as did Sarah. Two other girls, both from Dormitory A, also raised theirs, though with more hesitation.
"Miss Holmes?" said Miss Halton.
One of the Dormitory A girls, a willowy young woman with very fair hair, stood up at her seat and said, "She should have cried out for her governess, miss."
"A very fine answer, Miss Holmes," Miss Halton said, nodding. "Miss Crawley, what is your opinion on the matter?"
Miss Holmes sat, and Sarah rose. "Miss," she said, "should we consider the gods to be a kind of noblemen?"
Miss Halton seemed to want to suppress a smile. "I am not sure we can say for certain, Miss Crawley, but I find your line of thought very interesting. If we were to say that Apollo could be considered a nobleman, what should Cassandra have done?"
"Miss, may I ask another question?"
"Certainly, Miss Crawley."
"Was Cassandra a good girl?"
Now Miss Halton could not conceal her smile.
But Ursula spoke before Miss Halton could respond. "Miss, what does that have to do with the matter? Mrs. Fayerweather would say that if Cassandra was indeed a virgin, as the story tells us, she would be bound by her honor to resist, even if he were a nobleman. Georgina is correct." She nodded firmly in Miss Holmes' direction, then turned back to Miss Halton. "Isn't she, miss?"
Did Anne hear a note of threat in Ursula's interruption, as if she were threatening to report Miss Halton to Mrs. Fayerweather?
* * *
Oh, how Sarah despised Ursula Gregory! She looked daggers at the tall, blonde girl, and Ursula, far above sticking her tongue out at Sarah, merely narrowed her eyes in return. Standing, trying to give the answer that she thought would please dear Miss Halton so much, Sarah felt as if she had been surrounded by an enemy who had suddenly sprung upon her.
But "Ursula Gregory," Miss Halton said, "you know I do not tolerate disrespect in this classroom. You shall not interrupt a classmate again, if I have anything to say about it. Come up here this instant to be caned."
Sarah's eyes went wide in startled joy. Could Miss Halton really have said it?
"B-but, miss —"
"But me no buts, Miss Gregory. You heard what I said. Over my desk, with your impudent bottom to the class, so that I can demonstrate just where interruption will lead the next girl, too, who dares to engage in it."