Boarding School Blues: Chapter 35
By Louise Peloquin
Chapter 35: Consequences of playing hooky
Blanche had no idea how much time had passed when her numbed body slid out of the confessor’s armchair to the floor with a thud. The singing had ceased. “The novices are outa here. Phew! That was a close call.” A moment later, a smooth young hand took hold of the curtain and an equally smooth young face peered into the confessional.
“What on earth are doing here?” Marieanne said under her breath. Without waiting for an answer, she pulled Blanche upright and escorted her outside while the other novices discreetly stole out.
“My goodness Blanche! First of all, only the priest is allowed in that part of the confessional. Second, today is not confession day. Third, you are supposed to be in class. Fourth, I don’t even know what else to say! You’re usually not a trouble-maker. Finding you here is really surprising” Blanche could see Marieanne was trying her best to adopt a stern countenance.
The illegal confessional tenant exposed the situation as factually as possible. “I just couldn’t go to class Marieanne. The headmistress and all of you keep saying that the person who always helps in times of trouble is God so I just thought this was the best place to go after the terrible news about my father. I didn’t want to do anything wrong.” She omitted the part about the chapel being the closest available hiding place.
Sister Gerald appeared at the far end of the hall. “Mademoiselle Blanche Rejean, there you are. We have been searching for you all afternoon. The headmistress authorized me to tend to you myself. She is in her quarters praying for your father. Thank you for locating this wayward child Marieanne. Now run along. I shall take over.”
Marieanne’s response made Blanche realize some people really do have the vocation to follow Jesus’s message of mercy. “If I may Sister, Blanche knew communication with her family was not possible at this time of emergency and therefore, she chose to communicate with our heavenly Father who always provides hope. Yes of course, permission to go to chapel during class hours should have been requested. However she panicked and needed Divine Comfort immediately. I’m certain she had no malicious intent. I’m also certain she is sorry, aren’t you Blanche?”
Sister Gerald sized Marieanne up as if for the first time. “Well, well my young novice. What a soft-hearted soul you are. I have a good mind to reprimand you too. However, you have gained the affection of our boarders, a most precious asset for our administrative staff. Therefore, I shall let it pass. But let me tell you one thing, my young sister, if you wish to become a useful member of our community, you must learn to harden yourself. Otherwise, duplicitous individuals will repeatedly mislead you.” Turning to Blanche she added “Novice Marieanne affirms that you are sorry. Is that the case Mademoiselle Rejean?”
Blanche needed to stare at her feet to keep her composure. “Yes Sister,”
Sister snapped at Marieanne. “You may join your fellow novices now. Thank you for finding this child. As for you Mademoiselle, I trust you regret this afternoon’s unacceptable behavior. You have gone missing for approximately three hours. Pray tell me what classes you missed.”
Blanche didn’t look up to respond. “Algebra, Latin and English. But we weren’t supposed to start any new chapters today so I’m sure I can catch up.”
“Oh? So you are smart enough to catch up in a flash are you? Well you have quite a high opinion of yourself. I understand that you are a possible candidate for the honor roll this term. Today’s behaviour may very well jeopardize your status. We shall see. The priority now is apologizing to your three teachers and requesting extra work ‘to catch up’ as you say. For the rest of the week you will spend all recreation periods in the library where you can make yourself useful to our Librarian Sister Claudette. She has received new books which must be registered and shelved. Can I trust you to carry out my first instruction immediately? Your teachers are in their respective classrooms and they will be relieved to see you. That will be all Mademoiselle.”
Before obeying her instructions, Blanche blurted “Is there any news about my father? Is he OK?”
“He is stable my child. God is good.” Sister Gerald said with a softer-than-usual tone.
Blanche proceeded to request her algebra, Latin and English teachers’ pardon. It was readily granted along with notes on the day’s lesson and a message of encouragement. “You’ll catch up. Have hope and try not to worry.” Was that the standard line for students who dared play hooky Blanche wondered?
Read Chapter 3: Readying
Read Chapter 4: Au revoir!
Read Chapter 5: Arrival
Read Chapter 6: Settling In
Read Chapter 7: Beginning to Belong
Read Chapter 8: Quick Showers
Read Chapter 9: Inside & Outside Study Hall
Read Chapter 10: Math Manoeuvres
Read Chapter 11: Cinephiles
Read Chapter 12: Camera, Action, Lights
Read Chapter 13: Reconnecting
Read Chapter 14: Back to the Fold
Read Chapter 15: In the Night
Read Chapter 16: Parlez-vous?
Read Chapter 17: On the Agenda
Read Chapter 18: Dress up, sit up, chin up
Read Chapter 19: Post Conference Assessment
Read Chapter 20: Orderliness
Read Chapter 21: Inspection
Read Chapter 22: The Inner Sanctum
Read Chapter 23: Going Home
Read Chapter 24: Merci Mon Oncle
Read Chapter 25: The Food Fairy
Read Chapter 26: Bon appetit!
Read Chapter 27: Friends
Read Chapter 28: A Grocery Stop
Read Chapter 29: Tempus Fugit
Read Chapter 30: The Chapel
Read Chapter 31: A Nice Kind of Weird
Read Chapter 32: Mnemonic Device
Read Chapter 33: Cuisses de grenouille
Read Chapter 34: Run along now