con·vent  school

/ˈkänˌvent ˈsko͞ol /

noun

• a boarding school administered by a convent or abbey

• a parochial school, especially one for girls, run by nuns

One thing a convent school was not was a place to learn how to be a nun, and that was the only good thing about it. Unfortunately this was 1190 A.D., and convent schools were de rigueur for the daughters of Percival Winebottom's social set.

"Hippolyta Winebottom! You can't hide from me forever, silly goose," the abbess called out. "Now come here and let me help you into this corset forthwith." The abbess searched all the rooms. "Gadzooks, no one's had such girdle trouble since Hercules tried to get one away from that Amazon sometime back."

Hippolyta... Hippo ─ let's call her Hippy ─ continued hiding from the Abbess in plain sight by pretending she was a statue of St. Agnes. It might have worked, too, if the Abbess hadn't remembered that statues were forbidden in the dorms ever since the previous April when one of the students had hidden a man in her bedchamber by pretending he was a statue of Norbert of Xanten.

"Ah! There you are, you wicked girl. Now stop this foolishness at once and put on this corset. Your parents are paying a fortune for you to learn how to be a proper lady in today's England. That includes comportment, dress and appearance. Just because your family doesn't have titles or styles doesn't mean you have to carry yourself like a ruffian. Don't you want to be a proper young lady?"

"No, I want to be a princess!" Hippy shouted. "I want to find a prince and get married and become a princess. Princesses can do whatever they please!"

"Oh, stuff and nonsense. One would think you were ten years old from the way you behave and not a young miss preparing for her debut, or whatever the equivalent of that is in this time period. Now put this on at once before I call the other girls to come and laugh at you."

"But I don't want to! Why do I have to wear that ghastly thing? No one else has to."

"You're the only one exceeding the weight limit."

"I never saw a weight limit on anything. Weight limit of what?"

"The planet," the abbess said as she thrust the sadistic looking device at the girl. "Until you reduce to within normal human dimensions, young lady, you'll wear this. I had it made by one of the finest corsetiers in France. Cost a small fortune. You know gluttony is a mortal sin, don't you?"

"So is torture!"

"No, it isn't. All five popes engage in it with great frequency."

"There's only one pope now."

"Oh, yes. Well, never mind that. Come, I'll help you put it on."

Hippolyta eyed the medieval torture raiment as if it were Donald Trump's jockstrap, which wouldn't be invented for another 684 years. Wouldn't it be nice if his came with a built-in taser? Alas, those wouldn't be invented for another 784 years. "You had this made for me? Don't they have to be custom-made to the wearer's measurements?"

"Actually, I had it made for me, not for you. But I don't like the color, and the money came from the collection box anyhow, so it's no great loss to─"

"Well, I won't wear it! It's too small."

"Yes, it is rather small for you, but you'll wear it if I have to call the other nuns to hold you down whilst I force you into it. Now stop this nonsense immediately. Do you want me to write to your father?"

"Write all you please; I still won't wear it. I won't be able to breathe in that!"

"You'll get used to not breathing. At the count of three I'm going to call the other girls."

Odds bodkins! That was enough for Hippolyta. She hated the other girls; they did nothing but taunt her and take the last bit of cake. Summoning all the strength the stubborn little walrus had in her chubby fists, she socked the abbess in the scapular and ran as fast as her stubby legs would go. Hours later she arrived at the road that led away from the convent. Huffing and puffing, and on the brink of a heart attack, she turned to discover she'd only run about five meters, and meters wouldn't be invented for another 605 years.

"This... will... never... do!" she huffed, looking around for transportation. The only possibility was an old donkey in a neighboring field. "Well, when in Rome, um, get Roman candles."

She spent the rest of the day walking the two yards to the donkey. Honestly, why did it have to be so far away? Clutching her heart, she arrived at the creature's side and struggled to climb onto its back. How she finally prevailed we'll never know. Later historians would posit that the donkey had been temporarily stunned senseless upon seeing the approach of the waddling dough ball and forgot to run away.

Hippolyta rode the poor animal to a pub on the outskirts of London called the Roaring Lion, where the donkey collapsed on painfully buckled knees.

"Oh, poor thing! What am I to do now? It'll get dark soon." Hippy glanced around at the peasants nearby, then addressed them. "I say, could one of you please direct me to the nearest prince?" The peasants just stared at her strangely.

They must not understand me, she wagered. Lost and all alone in a foreign city! After all, this was nearly three km from the convent, although kilometers wouldn't be invented for another 608 years. How would she ever communicate with these strange paupers? Stupidly she'd left the abbey with nothing but the money she kept in her shoes.

Her shoes! Hippolyta kicked one off and counted the boodle. Oh, why hadn't England gone to paper currency yet? Her feet were killing her from walking on coins all day. Thank goodness, there was more than enough for a handy English to Cockney translation guide, with additional chapters on regional dialects like Cornwall, Yorkshire and Kentish. Maybe her dad was no nobleman, but he was in the rising middle class, and filthy stinking rich. After purchasing the translation book, she entered the pub and looked around for cake and anyone who seemed like they might drive a hack. She could go to Paris! They probably had plenty of cake there.

Ooooh, ruffians! And what looked like a long-haired Highlander sitting in the back corner. Alas, there was no cake in view, and the room was full of wenches more beautiful and thinner than she, although none had a dress quite as pink.

"I bet none of theirs are by haute couture designers, either."

Incidentally, she wore a Christian Dior-Knob white linen chemise.

Surely the ruffians in the room were impressed!

Très chic bliaut gown with flared sleeves and fur trim by Oscar de la Rental.

To test this theory, she sidled up to a tall, Semitic-looking gentleman at the bar. Ooooh, someone even more foreign than she!

Wimple and conical hennin by Tumbling and Tipsy.

"I say there, you must be Bavarian."

Jewelry by Van Beef & Apples.

It suddenly occurred to her that this Bavarian might not understand English.

Available at Maces in Flanders, Paris, Milan and London, and wherever dernier cri is sold.

Opening her handy translation guide, she gazed up at the man─waaaay up─and babbled a suggested useful phrase. "Um, vouchsafe this forthwith! Forsooth, thou art clearly constructed of princely volume. Hast thou... erm... been to Princeton? I art seeking a prince of humongous renown."

Imagine, a Bavarian prince! And only minutes after she'd left the protection of the convent, too. What were the odds? This was the answer to the sixty-four guilder question. All she had to do was marry him and she was set for life. She'd be a princess and could do whatever she wanted. No more homework or housework, no more studying, sewing or dish washing. She'd have servants to do all the work while she relaxed on the couch and waited 738 years for the invention of television.

Yes, Hippolyta was a git.


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