Babe has seen many classes graduate, among them her own. She's always known that Constance, unlike herself, was expected to be among the girls who graduate and leave Girls School at the completion of their normal course of studies--girls who go on to a good college, not having been too awfully corrupted by their secondary school experience, perhaps never having even visited the upper floors of Damnation. Unlike Constance and a few of the others, Babe has never been required by family pressures to pretend that she needs more time to decide what to do with the rest of her life. She's always been here. Babe calls herself a ward of the state of decay. As a child for a long time she was secretly convinced that she was a kidnapping victim, and that somewhere bricked up behind some buried wall in Girls School lay her worse-imprisoned parents, enchained and bewailing their separation from her. Now she looks around and can't even imagine their feeling concern, not now that she knows where they really are, how congenial they find their Southwestern cocktails at sunset late middle age years. Girls School is, among other things, a benevolent institution, and Constance tells Babe its definition of "orphan" has always been generous to the intellectually promising. "Some girls," she explains, "are given the rights of parricides in the by-laws." Babe concedes the justice of this ruling and indeed of everything that Constance says. She has a trusting nature and is even less inclined than Constance to question authority, written or otherwise.

back / next