Just then Kally felt someone grab her upper arm. She turned to look at her father.
“You’ll get through all of this, Kal,” he spoke, “it could have been a lot worse.” Looking down at Kally and whispering so that only she could hear, he said, “I love you, Kal.”
Looking over at Mr. Dawson, Mr. Tannor instructed him to procure a pair of cutting shears. Then, turning back to the gathered crowd, he raised his voice and finally announced, “We shall now all head over to the Village Square by the clock tower to witness the first segment of Miss Farnsworth’s punishment.”
Everyone quickly, though orderly, scurried to the stairway and outside to the Village Square just south of the General Store. Villagers who had not been in attendance at the meeting saw the crowd and began to follow as well. Usually, when a crowd headed for the Village Square, it meant that a punishment was forthcoming and they, being curious, wanted to see what that punishment would be.
Somehow Kally’s legs carried her down the stairs, through the General Store, and out into the street. All the while her father stayed by her side and held his head up high. It wasn’t until they reached the clock tower that he once again glanced down at her. Although it was brief, Kally saw a tiny tear in the corner of his eye but then he nodded at her and again whispered. “You can do this, Kal. Remember, your hair will grow back.”
Kally could hear a catch in his throat. For an instant she wanted to reassure him that she would not hold it against him for cutting her hair but then she remembered that he had believed that ridiculous story of her chewing on some stupid leaves. She was adamant that now was not the time to offer him any comfort. Looking over to where her mother and brothers stood, Kally’s mother gave her a weak smile and, like her father had, nodded to her. Kally refused to acknowledge her gesture and, instead, stared at each of her brothers. How much of this did they believe she wondered. Neither of them would look at her, however. In fact, they both appeared to be rather embarrassed, as though this was happening to them. Sighing, Kally turned to look out over the gathering villagers, being very careful not to set her eyes on Quinn, Doc, or Jade, all of whom she knew were there.
Mr. Tannor and Mr. Dawson made their way to the center of the crowd and stood beside Kally and her father. Kally caught a quick glimpse at the large shears Mr. Dawson held low in his hand. Finally, after the last of the villagers had assembled, Mr. Tannor cleared his throat. Speaking loud enough so that all could hear, he announced that the punishment was set to begin.
“We will now commence with the first step of Miss Kalina Farnsworth’s punishment. The first step she needs to take in order to earn her way back into the bosom of our peaceful society and the community of Serenity itself, is to have her hair shorn. Without reciting all of the terms of her punishment in detail, but to provide a brief explanation to those who were not present at the official meeting, the Regency has decided that, due to Miss Farnsworth’s continued secretive use of medicinal leaves that she consumed without the direction of Serenity’s leading doctor, Dr. Arthur Pinswell, and because she did so ignore the pleas of her friends to stop partaking these medicinal leaves which had a disturbing effect upon her mind and, in fact, her body, and, after discussion with Dr. Pinswell, it was determined that in order to help remove this substance from her body that Miss Farnsworth’s hair would need to be cut off. Mr. Joel Farnsworth, Miss Farnsworth’s father, has been directed to perform the cutting and Mr. Blake Dawson of the Regency will supervise, making certain that the hair is cut to the correct specifications.” Taking a much needed breath, Mr. Tannor continued on.
“Let this action that you are about to witness be a reminder to all that it is unlawful in Serenity and in the entire Region of Many Waters to partake of unknown substances, be they medicinal in nature or not, without the consent of a doctor who possesses the knowledge to determine whether a substance is safe. Anyone trying to do so will suffer the same consequences as Miss Farnsworth, that is, if they are females. Any male found doing so shall have his head completely shaven. Please look around you to see if there are any friends or neighbors who are not present today. For all those not present, this message is to be relayed to them.” Mr. Tannor paused as he watched the villagers look amongst themselves to see who might be missing. Satisfied that he had given the crowd enough time to observe any absent neighbors or friends, he continued on.
“Following the hair cutting today, in four days time, all of you are asked to return to the Village Square after the breakfast hour for a public reproval of Miss Farnsworth. The reproval shall last four hours. Now, let us begin.” Turning to Mr. Dawson, Mr. Tannor asked, “Sir, do you have a pair of shears and a ruler?”
“I do.” Mr. Dawson replied as he raised the large shears for all to see and then pulled out a six inch ruler from an inner pocket of his coat.
“Very well then. If you would now hand the shears to Mr. Farnsworth”
Kally’s father took the offered shears, his face having a blank expression as he proceeded to inspect them.
“Mr. Farnsworth, it is time to begin!” Mr. Tannor called out.
Upon hearing Mr. Tannor’s announcement, Mr. Farnsworth snapped back to the matter at hand.
All during Mr. Tannor’s flamboyant speech to the crowd, Kally spent her time trying to prepare herself for the ordeal. Though she was not particularly fond of her hair, it was still quite a humiliating affair for a girl to have her hair cut so short, almost to a boy’s length. It would be months before it would reach a length that was considered respectable. Somehow her father’s earlier words of encouragement seeped into her thoughts and Kally’s confidence was reinforced. She now felt certain that she was ready for what was about to happen and vowed she would not shed a tear.
Mr. Farnsworth, still focused on the shears in his hand, began to feel sick at the act he was about to perform on his daughter but, like Kally, he too was determined to remain strong and not show his emotions to the crowd. With a gentle, loving hand he reached up and took a lock of hair from the back of his daughter’s head. Mr. Dawson pressed the end of the ruler against Kally’s scalp and pointed to the three inch mark. Kally’s father aligned the shears up to the mark shown and made his first cut. The shears, though not typically used for clipping hair, sliced through Kally’s hair with ease, leaving a clean, even cut. Holding the shorn strip of hair in his hand for a moment, he finally let it fall to the ground below him and reached out for a second strand. The routine was followed by another cut, a drop of the hair, and so on. No sound could be heard emanating from the crowd. Silence was only broken by the sound of the metal blades opening, then slicing, opening, and then slicing. Kally barely blinked as she stared out at the crowd while her father removed one strand after another. A few of the girls caressed their own hair as they watched with terrified eyes. Looking down toward her feet, Kally saw the mounting pile of hair and she inwardly shivered. At long last the final remaining strand of hair fell and her father stepped back with his head bowed in remorse.