Junior school include sitting at the back of the class-room, where she had always made a bee-line for. Squashed in like jelly-beans facing anything but a grand-day out. Two girls shared an ink-pot, problematical when you think of the blue/black ink, a a nibbed pen and Esther in control, or not, as the case maybe.
Miss B, their school mistress who was as large as life and twice as dangerous held absolute control of her charges. She wore low cut dresses that revealed boosoms as wrinkly as an unironed sheet; that heaved as she moved on her seat; which was very much like a high chair but for adults. She peered over her half-rimmed spectacles as Esther shivered as she stood besides her trying to deliver a story read aloud to her. It was quite helpful for Esther that she was a proficient reader; unfortunately the same could not be said for her maths.
If girls knew what was best for them then they wouldn't dare to speak in her class. One look from her was enough to stop a clock or cause a childs heart to thump harder in their chest.
One of the duties each girl had to carry out, once they had filed in from the playground where in May a Maypole stood, was to hold up their hankies. Some clean and starched others smattered with the most beautiful snot.
Then came the dreaded times-table that girls would spout in unison, hoping their voices would blend in with the rest of the class and so mistakes not noticed. But of course they were by the dreaded Miss B who sat there with her cane on her desk as her eyes, like startled cats, flitted across the classroom whilst the girls did their best not to look anywhere near her gaze.
It was generally known by the girls that in the previous century their school had been a charity school. Girls from poor and generally large familys but no space to sleep their off-spring sent their daughters to prepare for service. Working for the local great , good and not so good who ruled life then. Those girls knew their place in life then; with no-one to fight their corner or give them a quite hug at night when life during the day had been lonely and hard..
Needle-work was seen as a prized skill still at Esthers school; which was unfortunate for Esther as it happened. It had taken her so long to knit a pair of slippers for herself that by the time she had finished them she had out-grown them. This, perhaps, was just as well as she had dropped more stitches than were left on her knitting needles.
so it was that Esther always hated needle-work absolutely; no-one would ever yearn for a knitted cardigan completed by her-unless of course they had nothing else to wear.