Of course I paid for the privilege of this rejection, providing as I did both the self-addressed envelope and the stamp, like a submissive pupil handing the birch rod to the head mistress.
My attention was now called off by Miss Smith desiring me to hold a skein of thread: while she was winding it, she talked to me from time to time, asking whether I had ever been at school before, whether I could mark, stitch, knit, &c.; till she dismissed me, I could not pursue my observations on Miss Scatcherd’s movements. When I returned to my seat, that lady was just delivering an order of which I did not catch the import; but Burns immediately left the class, and going into the small inner room where the books were kept, returned in half a minute, carrying in her hand a bundle of twigs tied together at one end. This ominous tool she presented to Miss Scatcherd with a respectful curtesy; then she quietly, and without being told, unloosed her pinafore, and the teacher instantly and sharply inflicted on her neck a dozen strokes with the bunch of twigs. Not a tear rose to Burns’ eye; and, while I paused from my sewing, because my fingers quivered at this spectacle with a sentiment of unavailing and impotent anger, not a feature of her pensive face altered its ordinary expression.
“Hardened girl!” exclaimed Miss Scatcherd; “nothing can correct you of your slatternly habits: carry the rod away.”
Yes, like that.
April 24, 2012VIA EMAILDear Emily Butler:
Thank you for your material for TUDOR SPRING, which I found to be an engaging read.
Yet, I’m afraid that I don’t feel sufficiently enthused to feel as if I’m the right agent to represent this project on your behalf.
Publishing is a subjective business and another agent might very well feel differently. I wish you all the best with your work.
[name redacted to protect the guilty]
All signs indicate that this agent is superb, and we enjoy being rejected by the finest. Nevertheless, we draw your attention to the second paragraph, which needs a re-write pretty desperately.