Finally, the fateful day arrived. Not for a rabbit, however.
Sometimes, you get the impression that some classes in school are simply designed to take up time that children would otherwise use toward plotting global domination or getting hooked on drugs. Sadly, it seems that as more years pass from the time when it was decided that mathematics and science would be "important" subjects and that such things as "ethics", "current events", and "economics" would not be taught at all, the ratio of "filler" time to actual learning time has skewed harder and harder toward simply keeping a pupil busy as opposed to informed.
I don't know when the schools I went to instituted the idea of "home room", which I suppose was the place you were supposed to run to if there was a nuclear blast or some such thing. For most, it just ended up being an excuse for fooling around for an hour, which is exactly what I chose to do with the time. As part of high school, in addition to home room, I also had a "study hall" hour, which was where I quietly began working on the ideas that would become this story. I liked doing this so much that I gave up my home room hour to devote two periods to my "great novel". I also found that there was a third hour to be had in the name of "Texas History", which gave a coach some needed instructional time to keep his much more important job of winning football matches. I learned a lot in school, especially how to create free time in order to pursue far more worthy endeavors than "education".
For Mullicynda, the "filler" class was something called "History of the Alaed". Most intelligent girls knew it was a filler class, even in comparison to "Introductory Gossip" and "Balancing a Book on Your Head 201", because it was always from this particular history class that final year girls were called out to take the "fertility test". This will happen to Mulls in a few minutes.
Long ago, any devotion that Mulls would have put toward learning the history of her society in school had lost its allure, although she found the subject of the past very, very exciting. Though there was no textbook for the "Alaed" class per se, she had found one of her own, which happened to contradict everything she was being so dutifully taught by the Convocation version of a football coach. Her real teacher was one of those books that she had taken from the rare books collection of the old library where we have tramped about earlier. Also, it was very definitely one of those books that, if anyone had found its hiding place under the floorboards beneath her bed and reported it to an authority, she would have disappeared immediately and forever. It was one of those books because it spoke at length about a forgotten time before there was a Convocation and a school, when people conducted themselves very differently and in ways more of their own choosing, and when there was a being called "God" that blessed good people and who had sent the Mariner among them to explain what "good" actually meant. As far as the "History of the Alaed" was concerned, the world was created by the Convocation and it was the duty of the world and everything in it to serve its creator. However, the record that Mulls possessed made it quite clear that a harlot named Sabra had fashioned the Convocation and there was absolutely nothing "good" about either her or her creation. So even though the "History of the Alaed" class was nothing more than filler time for girls who wait for the most final exam, it is also, in the mind of one informed girl, a pack of lies.
So, it was with a glad though apprehensive heart that Mullicynda was one of three girls that were being called out of class, to the peculiar silence that every schoolgirl understands intuitively, to face the "fertility test". Four sets of shoes worked their way down the fateful hall, one the sensible flats of a Matron connected to a clipboard, two sets of black pumps that were standard issue for schoolgirls, and one pair of stilettos for a posturing but rather short yet hopeful pre-Lady that always wanted to be a few inches taller. Unfortunately, it is a cruel statistical likelihood that, by tomorrow, all will be wearing sensible flats because the "fertility test" really has nothing to do with testing a schoolgirl's ability to have children, but has everything to do with taking such ability away from those who the Matriarchal Council had not picked to be Ladies. At the end of this hall is the nexus of the Convocation's blackest secret and most wicked act: the sterilization of all high-born women except a seemingly random yet "blessed" few who would graduate to become Ladies.
Of course, Mulls has no way of knowing this, as the book she treasures most ends its record only a few years after the creation of the Convocation and wasn't really written to reveal its secrets. What Mullicynda does have are those peculiar feelings that cause the hair on the back of her neck to stand up and she has become quite trusting of those feelings over time. Long experience has taught her to follow premonitions that come into her heart that provide direction in times when she has vital choices to make. Right now, as these four women leave the hall and enter a small room, Mulls is feeling the first hints of a coming premonition.
The Matron is good-natured enough, instructing the girls to make various measurements on each other, things like bust size and hip size, the length of the torso, how many fingers each has (I am kidding about that one), and various other things. She records everything dutifully on the paper attached to the clipboard. At moments, the Matron stays dormant in concentration as she makes calculations and then a new burst of measuring begins again. It is a dizzying list of things being collected and Mullicynda, for the life of her, can't figure out exactly what determination this could all be leading to.
It was about a third of the way though the whole measuring process that Mulls took an interest in the marks on the clipboard, sneaking peeks as things progressed. The paper was arranged in a grid, with each girl's name on the left and rows and rows of check-boxes and blanks to the right, some partly filled in. What interested her the most was the fact that there was a letter to the left of each name, in a decidedly different hand, that must have been put there before they were even summoned to the final exam. The other girls had a "D" before their names, but Mulls had an "L". There was no thought required in ferreting out what the letter meant - that afternoon, it would be Lady Mullicynda and other girls would be referred to as dames.
Now, other realizations take a bit more time to come to, and it took Mulls a few minutes of giggly measuring on her neighbor to figure out that this measuring had about as much to do with the final exam as the "History of the Alaed" course had to do with the truth. It looked as if it was just so much filler, a complicated procedure to soften the blow of a fate that had been determined before any of them had entered the room. This whole thing was just a show!
Once all the measuring was completed, each girl took a turn going into a curtained-off corner of the room with the testing Matron. The other two girls went behind the curtain first and shortly returned to the main part of the room, looking no worse for wear. When Mulls went behind the curtain with the Matron, the feeling of premonition dropped over her as the curtain fell closed. The door to the room opened from the other side of the curtain and someone called out the Matron's name, so she excused herself.
Besides the sound of the Matron and the one who called to her exiting the room and shutting the door, Mulls was left to herself in the curtained enclosure. She could hear the other two girls whispering to themselves, but she couldn't make out the words. Probably by accident, what was also left within the curtained area was the Matron's clipboard and its record of the results of the testing. Mulls looked at it, looked around to see again that she was alone, and the short hairs practically jumped off the back of her neck. Almost instinctively, she snatched the pen off the clipboard and deftly turned the "L" before her name into a "D". It wasn't a few seconds after she put the pen back in it place that the door opened again and the curtain was pulled away.
"Have you already taken the elixir?" It was another Matron entirely, obviously pulled in at the last moment to complete the test. The first two girls were giving up small burps already and quickly nodded. Then the severe-looking Matron turned her eye toward Mulls.
Mullicynda was a very well-mannered young woman, as I have said before. She knew how to conduct herself in any circumstance and was never uncouth. That was why it was so incredible to everyone, including herself, when, without saying a word or making any gesture, she let out a rather loud belch.
"Well, I would have to say that you have taken your elixir as well!" The new Dame snatched up the clipboard beside Mulls. "Very well, girls. Follow me."
And that, dear friends, is how Mullicynda managed to become the first girl to change her circumstances, become a dame, manage it without consciously doing so and, more importantly, without also becoming sterilized by the fertility elixir. And you will not find any of this taught in some "History of the Alaed" class.