THE MERCIA RULES
The day before Edmund Walker departed from Mrs. Wainwright’s Seminary for Young Ladies, he obtained copies of three documents, which you might find of interest. The first two were intended for distribution to certain members of the school’s student body on opening day. How he came by Dr. Wurm’s report, which follows, I cannot say. The text of those documents appears below.
Mrs. Wainwright’s Seminary for Young
HOUSE RULES OF THE MERCIA GUILD
On behalf of Mrs. Wainwright and the entire staff of the Seminary, it is our greatest pleasure to welcome you into our little family. We intend for your school life to be a pleasant and rewarding experience. Those of you receiving this supplemental sheet of instruction will be aware that you have been selected to participate in one of our most select programmes as members of our Mercia Guild. Mercia Guild members are noted for their abundant hair, and it is our intention to help you develop it to its full potential.
To this end, Mercia Ladies have special responsibilities, which are not to be taken lightly. They will be ever mindful that a woman’s hair is, indeed, her crowning glory. They will also take heed of the words of St. Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians: "If a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her" (11:15). A Mercia Lady must remember at all times to treat her hair with the respect that is its due and to care for it tirelessly, so it may become as long and lustrous as is possible.
Because the requirements of the Mercia Guild differ somewhat from those of the other ladies in the Seminary, we request that you to pay close attention to the special rules set forth below.
A SPECIAL NOTE TO BIG SISTERS
You have been selected to be a Big Sister as the result of having been enrolled in the Mercia Guild for at least three years, and because you have shown a proven ability to handle your own hair. As you are no doubt aware, the kind of hair we aspire to here at Wainwright generally requires more than a single individual for proper maintenance. To this end, you are expected to share grooming chores with your roommate(s), as well as to assist the first formers allotted to your care.
First formers, those ladies under the age of 12, frequently require special attention. These young ladies typically have hair about knee length, which previously has been tended by their mothers or governesses, and will have had little experience handling it themselves. They will require help. Many of them have been sent to Wainwright specifically to encourage additional growth, and it is our duty to protect these young heads and help their hair grow as long and profusely as possible. Try to wrap the hair neatly, but not so tightly as to cause injury to the follicles. Under no circumstances should first formers be allowed to assist in the unbraiding of their own hair (see Rule 6). After it is unwrapped, help will often be necessary for the subsequent brushing. Be mindful of the 100 stroke requirement (Rule 11). All hair must be properly rebraided at bedtime. No member of the Mercia Guild is allowed to bed with loose or ungroomed hair. This is for reasons of hygiene and general safety.
REPORT OF DR. A. WURM, FOR THE SCHOOL TERM BEGINNING 18--
I have examined the heads of all the young ladies enrolled at the Wainwright Seminary for the current term, and have determined that sixteen (16) are eligible to be members of the Mercia Guild under the guidelines established for making such judgments. These include nine continuing scholars and six new pupils.
Of the continuing scholars, I continue to be most impressed by the progress made by Sarah F., Emma M., and the young Isabelle. Sarah’s hair continues to make Wainwright proud. It is currently 5 feet 10 inches long. It grew four inches since it was last measured and now exceeds her height by precisely this amount. Emma’s hair has shown exceptional growth since last term and now measures 5 feet 1 inch in length. It is of exceptional luster. Isabelle is still too young to wear her hair up. Her hair has grown at a remarkable rate (seven inches since I measured it last spring), and I recommend that she be required to loop her braids up in the prescribed manner, since they have now reached floor level. If she continues as a Mercia scholar for the entire program, I predict she could establish a new Wainwright record. According to my notes, that was established by Anne _____, who graduated from here five years ago, with hair measuring 8 feet, 3 inches, the most prodigious mane it has ever been my privilege to examine. Paula, on the other hand, is not living up to expectations. I suspect she is not sufficiently motivated. I recommend either a series of private treatments, or that she be assigned to another class. The others are progressing satisfactorily.
Among the young ladies entering Wainwright for the first time, I hold out the greatest promise for Miss Louise M. At the moment, her hair extends only to her waist, the result of a most untimely hair trimming administered the previous year, but her hair shows signs of unusual vigor. It is very strong and healthy, of the type Bv, and should grow at an impressive rate, now it is receiving adequate attention. This observation is enforced by my interview with her mother, who told me something of her daughter’s history which seems to indicate very rapid hair growth. I have recommended Rachel B. to your Mercia Guild on the strength of her exceptional hair coloring. This should deepen and intensify with adequate grooming (brushing). Perhaps she could be encouraged to add a few additional strokes to the required 100. Her hair is currently rather on the thin side, and I have prescribed a diet with additional protein. The thickness of young Dela’s hair may cause her problems as it continues to grow. This is type C1 hair, which is not braided with ease because of its coarseness. It does look magnificent when it is released, however, as it practically covers her frame. Extra attention should be given to her learning proper braiding techniques, and her support person (I believe you call them Big Sisters) should be prepared to take adequate time to teach them to her. Elizabeth should benefit from the Mercia program greatly. Her hair has been abused at some point in her life, but shows great promise. I will be anxious to see her in another year. The final two should cause you no problems. Just girls with nice, smooth flaxen hair, and already quite long, too. Both in the four foot range, a most promising point from which to commence our mission.
Adolph Wurm, M.D.
To Whom it May Concern:
I have lately been in receipt of several communications requesting that I provide further information concerning my work as special consultant to the Wainwright Seminary in western Massachusetts. I have even been asked to produce a series of reminiscences relating to my experiences there. While I am flattered by the interest so expressed and appreciate that many seem interested in my ministrations, discretion forbids me from going into specifics on the subject. The privacy and interests of the young ladies placed under my care must be protected at all times. This is as much a matter of doctor-patient privilege as it is one of discretion.
It is true that I was able to discover much useful information regarding the production and maintenance of abundant hair during my years of study at the University of Vienna. I have been able to put this information to practical use, often with most satisfying results. As a consequence, Wainwright hair has become well-known on both sides of the Atlantic for its special properties and has given much satisfaction to those who posses it. In the twelve years I have been associated with Mrs. Wainwright, I have had the privilege of seeing numerous girls achieve their full potential. Hair that has been mistreated or prematurely cut often has the opportunity to blossom given the proper opportunity. On the other hand, some parents are only too anxious for their daughters to produce long, abundant hair and have little chance at success. I have received numerous requests to place such girls in the Mercia Guild, and can only tell such applicants that I am unable to assist them. Only a practiced eye and years of experience can distinguish those with genuine potential.
Other than what I have stated above, I do not desire to go into further specifics and ask your forbearance.
Adolph Wurm, M.D.
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