Glinda's parents turned out to be surprisingly open-minded. When she chose to shack up with her off-colour entanglement after the completion of her studies at Shiz, they simply spun it as a charming exercise in youthful bohemianism. To help her fully immerse herself in the bohemian experience, they were so generous as to cut off her various allowances. Without such an abrupt lack of cash, it was certain that Glinda would never have had the pleasure of living in a draughty garret near the gas works, or of having to earn a wage.
The rent on the garret was paid for by Elphaba's doctoral stipend combined with Glinda's salary from the teaching position she had taken up Lady Brickbat's School for Girls. It wasn't much of a salary, but Glinda wasn't much of a teacher. The trouble was that she wasn't qualified to do much else. It was either pedagogy or peddle petty incantations in the marketplace, and Glinda couldn't quite bring herself to stoop to common trade. Teaching retained an aura of respectability, and it seemed like the kind of thing she'd be able to get the hang of.
Soon into the first term, she realised her mistake. By the end of the second term, her enjoyment of sorcery had been comprehensively ruined. The girls in her classes were sly and refractory. They passed notes and lolled at their desks and didn't listen, reminding her insufferably of herself. Worse than that, she realised, they thought she was poor. One day, as she reached up to write the formula for basic glimmeration on the board, a girl in the second row put her hand up.
"Yes, Lettuce, what is it now?"
"Miss Upland, there's a hole in your stockings, Miss."
Laughter went twittering around the classroom. Glinda blushed with rage. "That's enough!" she snapped. "Thank you, Lettuce, but you had all much better attend to the board than my attire."
"Tuppence to that," said Araminta Gripp from the back row.
"Araminta, that's the third time you've spoken out of turn today. I won't have it. I'm giving you six demerits for insubordination."
"But I wasn't being insubordinate, Miss," said Araminta. "You see, I wasn't speaking to you. I was addressing myself to Dora." She turned to girl occupying the desk next to her. "Wasn't I, Dora?"
Dora, a quiet, well-tempered girl, shrunk in her seat, but didn't protest. The chalk in Glinda's hand turned black.
"You shouldn't be talking at all! You should be listening – " The division bell rang for the next class, and the girls erupted into movement: pushing their chairs back from their desks, gathering their books in their arms, surging for the door without the slightest pretence of staying to hear the rest of Glinda's sentence. "Go, then!" she shouted over the scramble. "All of you. At once. Remember to leave your jotters at the front. I hope you've all done your homework, and I pray it's not atrocious!"
It always was. Glinda would sit up each night with a guttering candle, going through page after page of execrable spelling until her head ached and the writing blurred. When Elphaba came home from the University despondent, some experiment for her thesis having failed, Glinda was often too tired to cheer her up. And if she wasn't, then Elphaba herself was often too tired to be cheered.
"Elphie, when you take the rent down to Mrs Clinker next week could you ask her to get someone in here to deal with the moths?"
"Hm," said Elphaba, her attention fixed on the research papers propped up on her knees.
"So will you?" said Glinda. They were in bed. Glinda had finished her marking for the night and the jotters were piled on the upturned bucket they used to catch the leak from the rafters whenever it rained. To ward off the draught that seemed to seep in even under the covers, Glinda wore one of Elphaba's old woollen cardigans over her pyjamas. Elphaba wore two layers of flannel.
"What did you ask me?"
"I asked if you would please tell Mrs Clinker when you take the rent down that there's a plague of moths in the wardrobe."
"Yes." Elphaba took up her pencil and underlined something on the pages she was reading. She drew an arrow in the margin pointing to it. Next to the arrow, she wrote: This is an outdated evolutionary paradigm.
Glinda sighed. "You're not listening."
"Yes I am. Take the rent down to Mrs Clinker," said Elphaba. "I don't know why you had to ask that. I always do it."
"I don't like going down there."
"I just don't like it." Mrs Clinker, their landlady, was a loud woman with false teeth that clicked when she spoke. Glinda was scared of her.
"You're so middle-class about money."
"You think that's such a clever thing to say," said Glinda, angry because she didn't want to talk about money. She missed the stuff more than she wanted to admit, and in her lowest moments she was capable of resenting Elphaba for it - which frightened her, in a very different way from the coarseness of Mrs Clinker.
"You weren't listening to the part about the moths," she said, turning the conversation backwards. "They've gnawed right through my last pair of good silk stockings. I was teaching the Lower Sixth this afternoon, and Lettuce Buckle saw fit to draw it to the attention of the whole class. I was mortified."
"And yet you live and breathe."
"You don't understand. Those girls think little enough of me as it is. I'll have to switch to plain worsted, and they'll notice. They notice everything. They've got horrible little sharp eyes."
"You make them sound like a pit of snakes."
"That's exactly what they are. Araminta Gripp – I declare that girl has some sort of actual personal vendetta against me. Thank goodness we don't cover hexing in the curriculum."
Elphaba turned over a page of her papers. "What can you have done to provoke the ire of a seventeen-year-old schoolgirl?"
"It doesn't take much. However, I'm minded to think it's the dancing master. Araminta has a galloping crush on him. I overheard Tansy Plunkett say so the other day, in the refectory."
"Who's Tansy Plunkett?"
"Upper Sixth," said Glinda by way of explanation.
"Pardon my ignorance, but what's any of that got to do with you?"
"The dancing master is in love with me, of course."
Elphaba stopped reading. "Is he?"
"Oh, quite frantically."
"What makes you think so?"
"I know how to tell when a gentleman is merely being polite, and when he's paying court."
"What's this dancing master like?"
"Elphaba, you can't possibly be jealous."
"Stuff," said Elphaba. "Nonsense." She shuffled her papers around. "I need to read the rest of this before tomorrow morning. Stop gossiping at me about people I don't know, and don't care about. Is he handsome, this prancing master at Lady Brickbat's?"
"I'd say he's surpassingly attractive," said Glinda. "But you needn't get your garters in a twist. I have no intention of encouraging his affections. I'm sure if I ran off with him, I'd only end up in a slightly larger garret."
"A worthy trade."
"I like the garret I already have."
"You don't like it all," said Elphaba. "You loathe it here."
The candle burned low by the bedside. The hour was too late for such heavy truths. "Then, I like the knave I already have," said Glinda. To avoid the impression of doubt she shifted closer in the bed and kissed Elphaba on the cheek. Then she kissed Elphaba on the mouth. Elphaba tossed her reading aside.
"Don't you need to finish that?" said Glinda, extricating herself from her cardigan.
"Do you want me to finish it?"
They rolled over, the papers caught and crumpled in the covers, the thrill so familiar and still so wonderfully surprising.
One of them really ought to have blown out the candle, to save the wax. But Glinda only thought of that later, just before she fell asleep with Elphaba's arm around her waist, and by then the candle had already burned down to its bright, extravagant end.