The principal, Mrs Clutch, came to address the class personally. In one hand she carried a long brown janitor’s jacket. With a sombre voice, she spoke of one rotten apple spoiling the whole barrel and then asked Ruth and Jane to come to the front of the class. Principal Clutch outlined the special permission for extra rowing training the girls had been given and her disappointment that the trust she had in them had been betrayed.
“Miss Goldsmith however, has confessed to being the instigator and assures me Miss Thomas was a reluctant participant.”
Mrs Clutch, with mounting indignation, described how Ruth had been disloyal to her school and classmates as the class sat in silent anticipation waiting to hear the sentence.
“You will be the school janitor for the next three weeks,” Principal Clutch announced in a loud voice handing the brown janitor’s jacket to Ruth.
Several girls in the class gasped at the severity of the sentence. No one had ever heard of a girl being given more than a week in the brown jacket before.
“You will wear the jacket at all times and spend two hours a day collecting rubbish from around the school.” With an inclusive glance in Jane’s direction the Principal continued, “Also, you are both banned from participating in the Invitation Girls Rowing Regatta next weekend.”
“That’s not fair,” Jane said a little louder than she had intended and immediately regretted it.
“Fairness again Miss Thomas?”
“Yes Principal, sorry.” Jane replied quietly.
“This is your first year at Lusher’s College young lady so your lack of manners is perhaps not surprising. But, clearly the time has come to teach you some.”
The girls in the class watched expectantly, some slightly fearful of the outcome. Annabelle and the other members of the brat pack at the back of the room could barely contain their delight at the way things were going. Revenge at last for the humiliation of the equestrian centre opening.
“You will join your friend as a school janitor Miss Thomas, come to my office at lunchtime to collect your jacket. As for the rowing regatta,” the Principal continued, “I imagine you both were expecting to win. Well that isn’t going to happen. At the regatta you will both be janitors, not rowing stars.”
The brat packers did high-fives as the Principal left the room and Jane and Ruth returned to their seats.
At the end of lunch, Jane and Ruth in their brown jackets checked the different areas of the school grounds where the groups of day-girls ate their lunches. The boarders, who were mostly from ‘the land’ had lunch in the school dining room along with the teaching staff. The two rowers talked as they picked up rubbish. Ruth was determined they should still compete in the State Championships and suggested they join a gym with an erg rowing machine.
“That’d be embarrassing,” Jane snapped in reply.
“What are you talking about? All athletes use gyms,” Ruth argued. “Anyway, how else are we going to stay fit?”
Jane was not impressed. “What’s the point?” She said more to herself than her companion as she put an empty drink can in the rubbish sack. “It doesn’t matter how fit we get, if we can’t practice in a boat, we haven’t go a hope.”
“We’ll have a couple of weeks,” Ruth said encouragingly.
“Big deal,” was the despondent reply from Jane as she walked across to another pile of lunch time litter.
In the next episode, “Bad Oyster”, Elliott Price accepts an invitation to lunch with Sir Murray St Clair and gets more than he expected.