Sarah nodded, determined not to shed a tear despite the unbridled anger directed at her. She realised, there and then, that she hated the Reverend Mother, and she hated her methods, and that, no matter what, she resolved that she would not be cowed by her. She might obey, while the Reverend Mother had all the power, but that did not mean she was defeated. Three days naked in a convent was humiliating, but she could just about survive it.
That evening Sarah discovered a downside of her punishment: in her unclothed state, nobody would sit near her at the dinner table, or talk to her as they walked to prayer. Being ostracised was worse than being naked. At prayer she crouched, ashamed of herself, at the back of the room, begging for forgiveness because she knew that she had done wrong. Yet still, as she had after Sister Theresa’s punishment, she begged for forgiveness for the Reverend Mother, because she felt the Reverend Mother needed it even more than she did.
Sarah prayed some more within the solitude of her own room and, slipping off her stockings, she went to bed, her mind dwelling on how such a small lapse had gotten her into such deep trouble.
Read the rest of the story in The Rules of the Convent