Jo Paso returns with another retro and disciplinary romp. This time, it’s an asylum on sixties Dartmoor that comes under scrutiny and – more importantly – the Matron’s, Governess’s, and Nurses, who set and implement the disciplinary regime experienced by its male inmates.
An asylum whose resident Governess is about to become its Matron.
A Matron with a very real grudge against one of the criminal inmates placed in her care.
There was a name plate on the door, in red letters…
‘Correction room?’ asked Marigold.
‘Yes; surely you don’t believe this lot would get through any given day without transgression, do you?’
Marigold acknowledged the question as being rhetorical, Matron continued.
‘The leather topped vaulting horse was acquired from the local school, when their gymnasium was converted to a new classroom, I wanted it, the school let me have it; I think they thought it would help keep the prisoners in shape; I suppose they were not that far wrong,’ said Matron with a wry smile.
The straps attached to the front and the stirrups to the side were fitted by a saddler friend of mine; I have two horses you know, I like to ride over the moor, you should try it sometime, most beneficial,’ explained Matron.
Marigold acknowledged with a smile.
‘Do you ride?’ asked Matron.
‘No,’ replied Marigold.
‘Mm, coming from London, I suppose not,’ said Matron.
Marigold looked at the awkward piece of equipment; its sturdy torso, the four wooden legs splayed out from the underside, its four rubber feet, presumably designed for grip to prevent sliding; the leather on the back of the horse was worn and faded in colour from the salt of sweaty palms (sweaty palms of the present recipients would no doubt add to that thought Marigold).
The piece of equipment reminded her of cold winter days in her gym kit at her school gymnasium.
‘You’ll notice the front end is dropped, that is intentional, it is designed to elevate the back end, in order to raise the target backside to a comfortable height; for me that is, to apply my cane,’ explained Matron.
‘You may want to adjust the height of the horse yourself as you’re a little taller than me,’ offered Matron.
Marigold took one last look at the horse before leaving the cell.
‘By the way, if you’ve heard any untoward noises echoing through the block from time to time, then this cell is where they will have come from,’ said Matron.
Marigold recalled the scream she heard and understood fully after seeing the correction cell.
Hugo locked the security door and Marigold walked back to Matron’s office her mind heavier from the experience.
Mental burden is a tax from which there is little relief, working at Loxwell, thought Marigold.