Elinor M. Brent-Dyer highlights the differences between 19th and twentieth century boarding schools for girls in A Thrilling Term at Janeways (Thomas Nelson & Sons, London, 1927).
It was a Janeways' tradition that on the Friday night
of exam. week in the Christmas term the mistresses should give an entertainment
for the girls . . . Across the outside [of the programme] was written in
bold lettering, Two Centuries; or Then and Now . . . the
lights went down . . . and the curtains were drawn back to disclose a parlour
of a hundred years ago with the Domestic Economy mistress and the Head's
secretary arrayed as two elderly ladies with neat caps perched over their
little side curls, and mittens on their hands. A little rustle of excitement
passed over the audience as one of the ladies began to express her hopes
and fears for the coming "session". Then a bell clanged, and
a dainty maid with mob-cap and neat print gown appeared, followed by a
figure at the sight of whom everyone rocked with laughter. Miss Mallet,
the Science mistress, wore a white gown which ended above her ankles and
had short full sleeves. A scarlet sash was tied under her arms, and a wonderful
poke bonnet adorned her head, beneath which bonnet long brown ringlets
streamed. Her stockings were white, and she wore dancing sandals, and between
the hem of her dress and her slippers appeared frilly pantalettes slotted
with scarlet ribbon. Never had anyone seen Miss Mallet - or any other mistress
- in such guise before, and they all screamed till a temporary silence
permitted Deborah, the maid, to announce, "Miss Thomasina, please,
Miss Thomasina was welcomed with a pecking kiss and waved to a chair before Deborah appeared to announce, "Miss Adelaide, ma'am. And please, ma'am, she's a-reading of a book as usual."
Miss Sarah had come back "in such a tantrum, ma'am," and the Misses Belinda and Amelia were "a-giggling somethink awful".
. . . the scene finished with the arrival of a gentleman - Miss Stewart - who had come to bring his small daughter, Sempronia.
"The Morning Walk", which came next, drew gusts of laughter from every one, as the headmistress fussily saw that every young lady was becomingly attired, and adjured them all to look at the ground, and not attempt to raise their eyes if they saw a "male person" coming towards them. At the last moment it was discovered that Miss Adelaide was missing, and Deborah hustled her in, exclaiming that she had found her "a-reading as usual". Miss Adelaide was duly reprimanded, and called "an abominable child".
. . . "The Evening Party", a very prim affair, brought the first part of the programme to an end, and the curtain fell for the interval amid loud cheers.
. . . A greater contrast between the prim young ladies of the first half of the performance and the romping tomboys of the second could scarcely be imagined. (pp339-347)
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