An American in England (a scene, in America!)
Posted on 9 September, 2013
Stacey, a new girl, recently arrived at the school from America (aka Judy)
Lottie, the hockey captain (aka Emma Jane)
Mr Jenkins, their housemaster (aka yours truly)
The housemaster’s office, a public school, England (aka our suite, Shadow Lane)
A knock at the door. Mr Jenkins opens it. Stacey waits outside, using a nail file. Jenkins beckons her in, closes the door.
Jenkins: Ah, Stacey, come in. I was expecting you. Come and stand in front of my desk.
He takes a seat behind his desk, pointing her to stand opposite him. The sun in her eyes, she puts down the nail file and peers at him.
Jenkins: So, how have you enjoyed your first few weeks with us?
Stacey: I haven’t really, sir. I mean, it’s not much fun here.
Jenkins: Oh, there’s plenty of fun to be had. But girls have to find their own fun. Societies, the school play, the orchestra… What have you joined?
Stacey (rolling her eyes): Nothing, sir: they don’t really appeal.
Jenkins: Well you really do need to make an effort. Now, why weren’t you here at morning break?
Stacey: I don’t understand, sir?
Jenkins: You are supposed to report to me every second Friday so we can discuss your conduct and performance.
Stacey: I didn’t know that, sir.
Jenkins: You should have been told. Had you been here, I imagine you know what we would have discussed?
Stacey: I don’t think there was anything wrong with accepting an ice cream from the nice man, sir.
Jenkins: But you shouldn’t have been out of school during school hours without permission.
Stacey: I didn’t know that, sir.
Jenkins: …never mind talking to strangers. And then there’s the fact you have been told several times to stop wearing make-up – yet you’re still doing so now. If I had more time, I would send you to scrub it off…
Stacey: Sorry, sir. (Not sounding in the least sorry)
Jenkins: See, I’ve received a whole catalogue of complaints about you. Walking on the south lawn. Missing chapel on Tuesday. The untidiness of your room. Oh, and how many books are you allowed to take from the library at any time?
Stacey: Erm, six, sir?
Jenkins: Four. You must have been told that.
Stacey: No, sir.
Jenkins: It seems there’s a lot you weren’t told. Surely Lottie went through these things with you?
Stacey: Not really, sir. I mean, I’ve hardly heard from her.
Jenkins: When did you last see her?
Stacey: Two weeks ago?
Jenkins: Two weeks?? You’ve only been here three. I think I need a word with Lottie too: could you go and fetch her.
Exit Stacey, stage right. A minute passes. Enter Stacey and Lottie, stage right. Jenkins beckons them to stand in front of the desk.
Lengthy dialogue ensues between Jenkins and Lottie, who mounts a defiant defence of her actions:
Lottie, her voice and temper rising throughout: …. I told her the rules… I gave her the rulebook… Why did you write 790 rules? I can’t be expected to go through them all… She can find me if she wants to… It’s not my fault she doesn’t want to play hockey… What do you want me to stop doing to help her – should I stop being hockey captain?
Jenkins: It’s not up to me to manage your time, Lottie. You were told very clearly about your responsibilities to help Stacey as a new girl; you need to work out when to do so.
Lottie: But I have so much on. It’s not reasonable.
Jenkins, finally, firmly: I will not be spoken to like this, Lottie. Quite irrespective of the way you have failed to perform your duties with Stacey, I am not going to tolerate such discourtesy. Now, go and stand over there.
Lottie moves to the side. Jenkins beckons Stacey back across to the desk. He walks around the desk, and picks up a leather tawse.
Jenkins: It seems, young lady, that you need to learn a lesson about how to behave here, before you get into serious trouble. I am therefore going to give you six strokes of the tawse. Bend over the desk and lift your skirt.
Looking surprised, Stacey does as instructed. Jenkins reaches forward and pulls down her knickers.
Jenkins: I am going to give you six strokes. Please count them as I proceed.
Stacey: Yes, sir…. One, sir… Two, sir… etc.!
Jenkins instructs Stacey to stand and adjust her dress, and then to swap places with Lottie. He gives her the same instructions…
Lottie: Yes, sir…. One, sir… Two, sir… etc.!
Once Lottie’s strapping is complete, Jenkins bids the two girls to stand in front of the desk once more. He warns them about their future conduct, instructs Lottie to spend more time with Stacey, and sends them on their way…
…to a puddle of hugs after the scene!