Produced by Anonymous Project Volunteers
BAB: A SUB-DEB
By Mary Roberts Rinehart
Author Of “K,” “The Circular Staircase,” “Kings, Queens And Pawns,” Etc.
CHAPTER I. THE SUB-DEB: A THEME WRITTEN AND SUBMITTED IN LITERATURE CLASS BY BARBARA PUTNAM ARCHIBALD, 1917.
DEFINITION OF A THEME:
A theme is a piece of writing, either true or made up by the author, and consisting of Introduction, Body and Conclusion. It should contain Unity, Coherence, Emphasis, Perspecuity, Vivacity, and Precision. It may be ornamented with dialogue, description and choice quotations.
SUBJECT OF THEME:
An interesting Incident of My Christmas Holadays.
“A tyrant’s power in rigor is exprest.”—DRYDEN.
I have decided to relate with precision what occurred during my recent Christmas holiday. Although I was away from this school only four days, returning unexpectedly the day after Christmas, a number of Incidents occurred which I believe I should narrate.
It is only just and fair that the Upper House, at least, should know of the injustice of my exile, and that it is all the result of circumstances over which I had no control.
For I make this appeal, and with good reason. Is it any fault of mine that my sister Leila is 20 months older than I am? Naturally, no.
Is it fair also, I ask, that in the best society, a girl is a Sub-Deb the year before she comes out, and although mature in mind, and even maturer in many ways than her older sister, the latter is treated as a young lady, enjoying many privileges, while the former is treated as a mere child, in spite, as I have observed, of only 20 months difference? I wish to place myself on record that it is NOT fair.
I shall go back, for a short time, to the way things were at home when I was small. I was very strictly raised. With the exception of Tommy Gray, who lives next door and only is about my age, I was never permitted to know any of the Other Sex.
Looking back, I am sure that the present way society is organized is really to blame for everything. I am being frank, and that is the way I feel. I was too strictly raised. I always had a governess tagging along. Until I came here to school I had never walked to the corner of the next street unattended. If it wasn’t Mademoiselle, it was mother’s maid, and if it wasn’t either of them, it was mother herself, telling me to hold my toes out and my shoulder blades in. As I have said, I never knew any of the Other Sex, except the miserable little beasts at dancing school. I used to make faces at them when Mademoiselle was putting on my slippers and pulling out my hair bow. They were totally uninteresting, and I used to put pins in my sash, so that they would get scratched.
Their pumps mostly squeaked, and nobody noticed it, although I have known my parents to dismiss a Butler who creaked at the table.
When I was sent away to school, I expected to learn something of life. But I was disappointed. I do not desire to criticize this institution of learning. It is an excellent one, as is shown by the fact that the best families send their daughters here. But to learn life one must know something of both sides of it, male and female. It was, therefore, a matter of deep regret to me to find that, with the exception of the dancing master, who has three children, and the gardener, there were no members of the sterner sex to be seen.
The athletic coach was a girl! As she has left now to be married, I venture to say that she was not what Lord Chesterfield so euphoniously termed “SUAVITER IN MODO, FORTATER IN RE.”
When we go out to walk we are taken to the country, and the three matinees a year we see in the city are mostly Shakespeare, arranged for the young. We are allowed only certain magazines, the Atlantic Monthly and one or two others, and Barbara Armstrong was penalized for having a framed photograph of her brother in running clothes.
At the school dances we are compelled to dance with each other, and the result is that when at home at Holiday parties I always try to lead, which annoys the boys I dance with.
Notwithstanding all this it is an excellent school. We learn a great deal, and our dear principal is a most charming and erudite person. But we see very little of life. And if school is a preparation for life, where are we?
Being here alone since the day after Christmas, I have had time to think everything out. I am naturally a thinking person. And now I am no longer indignant. I realize that I was wrong, and that I am only paying the penalty that I deserve although I consider it most unfair to be given French translation to do. I do not object to going to bed at nine o’clock, although ten is the hour in the Upper House, because I have time then to look back over things, and to reflect, to think.
“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” SHAKESPEARE.
BODY OF THEME:
I now approach the narrative of what happened during the first four days of my Christmas Holiday.
For a period before the fifteenth of December, I was rather worried. All the girls in the school were getting new clothes for Christmas parties, and their Families were sending on invitations in great numbers, to various festivities that were to occur when they went home.
Nothing, however, had come for me, and I was worried. But on the 16th mother’s visiting Secretary sent on four that I was to accept, with tiped acceptances for me to copy and send. She also sent me the good news that I was to have two party dresses, and I was to send on my measurements for them.
One of the parties was a dinner and theater party, to be given by Carter Brooks on New Year’s Day. Carter Brooks is the well-known Yale Center, although now no longer such but selling advertizing, ecetera.