“I could not say,
But feared the cold
Had checked the pace
Of the tower clock
By tying together
Its hands of gold
Before its face.”
–Robert Frost, I Will Sing You One-O
Somewhere, deep in the French countryside, in a territory that only poor farmers and weary peddlers called home, is the old Effrayant School, located in a clock tower at the edge of a forest, overlooking a creek. It was a girl’s school, old fashioned even for the 1800s, specializing in subjects ranging from table manners, to arithmetic, to witchcraft. I was a student there back in the day. The school was run by Mademoiselle Rassis, a 70-something year old woman with a short temper and a taste for stale biscuits. She was notorious among students for hurling said biscuits at girls who angered her, and everyone feared her like the devil. So nobody was sad, exactly, when she was found dead near the tower on Halloween night.
She was said to have thrown herself from the tower at 11:00 at night. Suicide. But legend says that one student had taken one too many biscuits to the face, and had pushed the old woman out of the clock tower herself. Whether this is true or not, at 11:00 every night, the bell on the clock tower tolled, and still does to this day. Nobody knows why.
For a time, the school was run by a kindly old man who had no control over the students, and the school soon closed down.
Sometimes, though, I miss the school. I miss waking at 11:00. I miss the old clock tower. And, oddly enough, I distinctly remember that whenever the bell tolled, I would have a sudden craving for a bit of chastising and some stale biscuits.