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Diana White had no sooner pulled on her gloves than she heard her twin charges shriek on the front stoop.
Their screams, which sounded like a cross between a whoop for joy and a scream of one fearing for her life, did not rattle the young governess.
She had been the twins’ tutoress going on three months now and knew that it took something as small as a bee or cricket to cause a commotion with the twelve-year-olds.
“Now, now, girls,” Diana admonished, polishing her spectacles with her handkerchief and stepping into the April sunshine. “Ladies do not raise their voices in public. And they certainly do not screa-aaaaugh!”
Diana squealed as a mangled something was dangled in front of her face. Even without her glasses she could see that it was an animal of some sort and as it was burned to the point of being blackened, it was very, very dead.
“Henrietta Godwin, you put that creature down this instant!” she scolded. She pushed her glasses up onto her nose and found the girl now chasing her sister with a dead bird.
Thank goodness I’m not the fainting type, she thought.
Henrietta, born of the same stout demeanor, remarked matter-of-factly, “Oh Diana, I’m not hurting her. Or the bird for that matter. I cannot help but tease Rose. She is such a goose sometimes!”
Rosalind, on the other hand, was the swooning type and stood cowering behind the old horse chestnut tree in the yard. “Please put it down!” she wailed.
Diana found herself smiling despite the impropriety of the situation. She couldn’t help but picture the scene with a much younger version of herself and her older foster sisters, Wilhelmina and Isabella. She would most definitely have been the one dangling the beast.
“Diana, please make her stop!” Rosalind begged, freeing Diana from her daydreams of the past. Diana stuck her hand out and waited for Henrietta to hand her the bird.
“Now, Henrietta, change your gloves. The bird is filthy. And Rosalind, splash your cheeks with some cool water. Your color is high and it looks rather indecent,” she ordered, once the beast had been transferred to her possession. When she was sure the girls were safely in the house, she let out the giggles she had been suppressing for the past few minutes. She could have seen herself doing the same as the wily Hattie had.
“Now, how can I turn this into a lesson?” she asked no one in particular. If it was one thing Diana was good at, it was finding ways to make her students’ learning fun. She wasn’t sure the headmistress of The Broadworth School of Girls, the forenamed Mrs. Broadworth herself, would agree, especially after The Great Baking is Chemistry Disaster of 1830 in the school kitchens last year, but her opinion could not be taken too seriously. The woman still insisted that her girls learn needlepoint and did not allow “those dreadful novels” to be used as teaching material. Her employers, the Godwins, seemed pleased with her work any way, since they hired her and all. And, besides, the fire wasn’t even that big.