Author's Note: The following won’t make a great deal of sense unless you’ve read the 'Drawing Master' story I posted here earlier.

c1997 Airweaver

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 Ladies
Easthampton, Mass.


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.

  1. Since there are certain differences in the programme, members of the Mercia Guild can ignore items 6 through 9 of the general rules of the school, as well as item 17. These pertain, for the most part, to activities in which Guild members do not indulge for the protection of their Valuable Asset. Members are expected to adhere fully to all other requirements of the syllabus.



  3. As with the other ladies of the seminary, new students have each be assigned both a chaperon and a Big Sister to assist you in settling in. The aim of the Mercia Guild is to develop beautiful hair. Beautiful hair is long, abundant, and lustrous. As hair grows and fills out, some scholars may find they require extra assistance in handling it. Big Sisters are there precisely for this purpose.



  5. All combs, brushes, and other toilet articles brought onto campus are to be surrendered to the House Mother. In their place will be substituted items of proven merit.



  7. Likewise, all hair furnishings are to be surrendered. These will be replaced with appropriate fastenings and the like, objects that treat the hair gently. The importance of using proper equipment can not be overemphasized.



  9. Mercia girls under the age of 14 are forbidden from wearing their hair up at any time. It is to be kept neatly braided, except during those periods set aside to allow it to breathe. These periods are twice weekly for one hour and occur in the drying room. Loose hair should never be allowed to touch the floor, but fall on the carpets provided.



  11. The normal number of braids worn by Wainwright girls is the customary pair, although thicker hair may require an increase in the number. You will be advised on this matter if it pertains to you.



  13. Ladies under the age of 14 are encouraged to assist in the braiding of their own hair the better to learn the proper techniques, but they are forbidden to unbraid it at any time without proper supervision.



  15. Ladies between the ages of 14 and 16 are to wear their hair up during the prescribed periods only. These periods are intended solely for instructional purposes and will assist students in preparing for adult life. At all other times, they are to wear their hair down in well-groomed braids. Hair that is not plaited properly, will need to be done again.



  17. Occasionally, a fortunate Mercia girl under the age of 16 may find that the length of her plaits has come to exceed her height. In such cases, her hair is to be worn braided and then neatly looped in Alsatian fashion. Such girls achieve special distinction.



  19. Ladies over the age of 16 wear their hair up as a matter of course. Most become Big Sisters, and are generally expected to assist the younger students with braiding, brushing, and general grooming.



  21. Meals of the Mercia Guild are taken separately from the rest of the school in order to insure a proper diet, which is designed specifically to stimulate hair growth. Meal times are one hour earlier than for the rest of the school and taken in the main dining salon.



  23. All hair is to be brushed regularly 100 strokes twice a day, once in the morning and again in the evening before bedtime. This activity is required of all members of the Mercia Guild. Brushes will be inspected for signs of shedding.



  25. A period is set aside twice each month for hair trimming. These trimmings are conducted solely by Dr. Wurm, who is an expert at such procedures. This is a proven method to increase hair growth. No cutting of the hair is permitted at any other time or by any other individual. There will be no exceptions to this rule.



  27. Hair is to be washed twice weekly and only under the strict supervision of the staff. Tuesdays and Fridays is allotted to the lower forms, Wednesdays and Saturdays for all others. Only the lotions prescribed by the Seminary are to be used. These preparations have been especially designed to stimulate the scalp and render sheen and luster to the hair. Their proper use will assure satisfactory progress.



  29. Most students will notice a satisfying improvement in the condition of their hair within a surprisingly short period of time. Please note that the longer the hair grows, the longer it takes to dry. Consider this time well spent. Patience is one of the greatest virtues of gentility. Hair is to be brushed only after it has been completely dried.



  31. Our intention is to encourage your hair to become as long and abundant as possible. Some of you may discover that your hair reaches a point where it becomes unmanageable due to unfamiliar bulk. This is not unusual, particularly among those of the Mercia Guild who have been with the programme two years or more. The proper handling of profuse hair is an acquired art, and members of the staff and classmates are always ready to be of assistance.



  33. Members of the Mercia Guild will be graded on the progress they make in developing their optimum potential. Hair will be graded according to growth, fullness, and luster. There are two sets of criteria, one for straight hair, a second for curly hair. Your hair will have been scientifically analyzed by Dr. Wurm, so you will know exactly to which group you belong. Only ladies with genuine potential have been enrolled in the Mercia Guild, so you all have the ability to achieve unconditional success.



  35. You have been elected to the Mercia Guild because your hair shows exceptional promise. As with the rest of the seminary, however, the principal aim of the Guild remains the development of gentile manners and lady-like deportment. Your hair, regardless of its beauty or length, does not give you the right to flaunt it in front of other members of the community. Remember, the others may be more highly accomplished than you in music or needlework. Occasionally, a lady may join the Guild whose hair might strike you as unusually short or lackluster. These generally are girls who have been the victims of bad advise in the past, but, nevertheless, candidates still considered worthy of participating in our programme. Some of our most successful graduates actually have been girls of this kind.
Those who wish conformation of the fact are advised to seek out the photograph of Molly Irving that graces our front hall. Her hair was only 14 inches long when she first arrived. It grow over seven feet during the years she attended Wainwright and became a thing of exceptional beauty.



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.



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.

Respectfully submitted,
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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