“Well, I am unimpressed,” Lucretia said once she, Pippa and Edwina spilled into the antechamber. “Why would a professor want a headmaster position? I think that is indicative that he was sacked.”
“The majority of the boys will never use mathematics in their ordinary lives either, yet we teach it to them. You clearly are an educated woman. Do you believe your brain is so feeble it cannot grasp simple facts?”
“That isn’t saying much in a town this size. My grandparents were dirt poor when they arrived in Ontario. Should I apologize for our success?”
“Perhaps.” Lucretia waved her hand in front of her face. “I’ll happily stay an old maid.”
Lucretia pulled on both ends of her handkerchief until it went taunt. “It’s complicated, yet it isn’t.”
“I can’t stay trapped in this house for six months,” Lucretia said, panic creeping into her voice. “I’ll go mad. The ghosts of the past will chase me down.”
Rose picked up her watering can and moved on to the next plant. “It’s fine to be young for a while, but you are 22. You must be reasonable. Do you really want to be an old maid? What kind of life is that, beholden to your parents and brothers for your food and lodging.”
Amelia laughed again. “You say silly things sometimes. I swear you have too much time to think. Leave the thinking to men. You’ll be much happier.”
Lucretia gripped her chair’s arms so tightly her nails dug into the brocade. “I don’t see how that is an appropriate conversation for the academy or for tonight for that matter. I shall do as I see fit. In fact, I would be curious to hear Mr. Steward’s opinion on women’s suffrage.”
“I don’t know what to think anymore,” Lucretia said, voice quivering, “about friendship and marriage. Between Rebecca and Amelia and Edwina, I’m as confused as I ever was. All I know is marriage is the enemy. It causes pain and heartache. That’s why I don’t want to get married. I don’t want to subject myself to that torture.”
“I wouldn’t dare tell you what to do,” Amelia said, pointing. “I won’t justify your opinion on my fiancé any longer. We are marrying soon and that is that.”
Pippa smiled. “My mother says it is better to smolder slowly than to ignite quickly and burn out.”
Lucretia sat forward slightly. “Free is a bizarre word to use, don’t you think, considering you are your husband’s property.”