Teaching staff are not infallible, as this story shows.

By Joanna Jones

Sarah Baldwin heard a knock at the door and her secretary peeked round the door. On getting a signal from her, she slipped in, closing the door behind. Sarah could tell it was not good news; after all there was a perfectly good intercom between them.

“Sorry to disturb you, Miss Baldwin, but Mrs Wilkinson is outside. She says she is here to collect, well, to collect her daughter’s underwear.”

The headmistress raised her eyebrows. “I presume then this would be Grace Wilkinson’s mother. I hope I still have them.”

She looked briefly around her room, including in her waste basket, but that had already been emptied. ‘Drat,’ she thought to herself. She’d never expected Grace to even tell her mother about yesterday’s events, far less have her mother appear at her door.

“I take it that by the fact that you’ve come in there is a bit more, Miss Richards?” She asked.

“Yes, she is outwardly being polite, but she is really bottling her anger up. I am sure she is absolutely furious, headmistress. I thought it best to warn you.”

Sarah Baldwin looked at her secretary with a grimace and said: “Another parent who no doubt thinks the cane is for any girl except her own angelic daughter, then. I wish I had not thrown those knickers out, though, given what you say. Thanks for warning me, Clare. I suppose you’d better show her in.”

Clare Richards nodded and gave the headmistress a small smile, then turned back to the door. “Mrs Wilkinson, the headmistress will see you now.”

Sarah heard a polite: “Thank you very much,” from Grace’s mother as the woman entered her office.

The Head’s first reaction was, wow, her secretary was right; while Mrs Wilkinson was being perfectly proper, she could see she was struggling to keep her anger in check. Immediately she knew this was not going to be a pleasant meeting.

She stood to welcome her and said: “Mrs Wilkinson, please sit down.”

The parent was clearly reluctant to do so, but eventually decided to acquiesce to the Head’s invitation, and sat on the chair on the other side of her desk.

Sarah Baldwin took a deep breath and first dealt with the bad news. “I am very sorry but the non-regulation undergarments I confiscated from your daughter yesterday seem to have been misplaced, I have a horrible feeling the cleaners last night must have assumed they were for disposal.”

Mary Wilkinson’s countenance darkened into a glower. “I am sorry to hear that. However, before we discuss that loss, can we discuss first why you caned my daughter yesterday?”

Miss Baldwin took a breath. “It is very simple really. Mrs Taylor, who was standing in for our games mistress, reported she caught the girls in her class fooling around in the gym as she arrived, and decided the most appropriate action was to give the lot of them a dose of the slipper. However, when she got to your daughter, Grace, she found she was wearing a second pair of undergarments under her regulation knickers that are, as you know, indoor games uniform. She was told to remove them and come back.”

“Grace said she could not, as they were sewn together. Mrs Taylor went to the PE office and got one of the spare pairs they have and gave them to her and ordered her to go back and change into them, then report back to the gym, when she would give her additional with the slipper for her non-standard kit. However, your daughter was very reluctant to change and tried to argue with the teacher. At that point Mrs Taylor wrote me a note along those lines and sent her to me.

Mrs Wilkinson continued to glower silently at her as the Head paused.

Clearly the parent wanted the whole story so Sarah continued. “Well, Grace was, as most girls coming to see me, rather nervous. I gave her an opportunity to explain why the standard school uniform was not good enough for her. However, she told me some cock and bull story. In my view the only reason for wearing two knickers stitched together can be to try to reduce any punishment she might get. I told her that, told her to change into the pair she was carrying, that Mrs Taylor had given her. She was very upset and kept telling the same pack of lies. However, eventually she did as she was told and I confiscated the double sewn together pair. She got three strokes of the cane on the school regulation knickers we provided for the uniform violation, and three more for the dreadful fuss and lies she told me. I have to say that while, in my experience, I know some girls can be upset when they realise their behaviour has earned them a caning, I am afraid to tell you that Grace really was most difficult about it.”

Finally Mrs Wilkinson, still clearly smouldering, spoke. “What was the cock and bull story, these lies that she told you?”

Miss Baldwin replied with a smile, “The most ridiculous thing. Would you believe she told me she was allergic to the nylon they are made of! I have never heard of anything quite so far-fetched in all my life.”

Mrs Wilkinson learnt forward in her seat and put her hands on the desk. “Mrs Baldwin, my daughter Grace does have an allergy to nylon.”

Of all the replies Miss Baldwin had expected, that was not one she had ever considered. She sat back in shock and looked stupidly at the woman across her for a moment before saying: “Don’t be ridiculous, such allergies simply do not exist.”

Mrs Wilkinson pulled her handbag onto her lap and angrily pulled out a couple of sheets of paper. “Don’t they now?” She asked rather abruptly. “I am sure Grace wishes they did not exist too. Here, these are copies of the doctor’s notes from last year.”

With that she leant over the table and thrust the sheets under Miss Baldwin’s nose.

For the first time in many years, and first ever time as headteacher, Sarah Baldwin’s professional composure faltered. A sickness welled up inside her as she glanced though it, seeing terms such as “contact dermatitis”, “should avoid nylon clothing”, “particularly close fitting garments such as underwear, tights” and so on.

For a brief moment, she looked disbelievingly at the document and considered challenging its veracity. However, she recognised the doctor’s signature from previous medical notes. Eventually she looked up and rather croaked out: “But the school did not know; how were we to know?”

Mrs Wilkinson had a distinctly frosty glare as she responded. “The school did know. It knew because I came up after the diagnosis with this medical note. I discussed it confidentially with Miss Frank, her form tutor last year. Grace was very embarrassed about it as the complaint is particularly sensitive around her…. well, you know, between her legs. We agreed that Grace could wear cotton knickers in the regulation green, but for sports and gym she did not want anyone to know, as she was concerned other girls might notice or even tease her. Miss Frank discussed it with the games-mistress, Miss Ramsey, and she was given permission to wear a cotton-lined pair, which I sewed up for her. I believe Grace slips them on in the toilets before games so that the other girls don’t notice, and similarly takes them off as soon as she can after. Even with that she still usually had to use her cream around the elastic as soon as she gets home.”

Miss Baldwin looked again at the Doctor’s letter. “But I did not know.” She objected. “Nobody told me.”

“Miss Frank said she would put the doctor’s letter in her file. Apparently that is the normal procedure for medical notes. Perhaps you should have a look?” Replied Mrs Wilkinson frostily. It was clear her anger was only just under the surface.

In part to get some time to think, and in part hoping the file was empty, Sarah Baldwin agreed and briefly exited the room.

Clare Richards noted the pasty face of the Head as she asked for Grace’s file. She had wondered about the Head’s strategy yesterday, as she had heard the pleas of the Wilkinson girl through the door. While there had been quite a few desperate female attempts to avoid the cane in the past, there had been something about her desperate pleas that suggested to her that the Head should maybe have paused.

It looked like her intuition had unfortunately been more accurate than her boss.

Thanking the secretary, she returned to her office opening the file as she did so. Her stomach lurched down to her toes as inside was not only the original doctor’s note, but a detailed note from Miss Frank explaining what had been agreed.

And now she had gone and caned the girl severely as a result. She felt awful as, while strict, she had never to her knowledge been party to such an unfortunate injustice before. She decided that there was no point to try to brazen this one out.

“Mrs Wilkinson, it seems that there was a copy of the medical note in the file, though I have to say I was unaware of it. I also am sorry to say that I was entirely unaware that such allergies were possible. To be honest, I also think I have seen your daughter in tights before now too, though.”

Mrs Wilkinson finally had the Head where she wanted and allowed the fury that she had struggled since last night to contain to rise.

“Grace cannot wear tights anymore.” She said coldly. “As a result she almost always wears uniform white cotton knee socks, but when it is cold or special, and she feels others might comment too much on her choice, then she has a couple of pairs of silk stockings that she can use, which she talked again to Miss Frank about. It was actually the tights that she was allowed to start wearing two years ago that increased her sensitivity to the material; in her very junior years the problem did not seem to be sufficiently bad that we needed medical help. Then it was just a bit of minor discomfort on occasion, especially when it was hot, but now it is quite hard for her though.”

Her eyes flashed as she paused, leant over the desk at the now seated again headmistress. “Can I now give you my daughter’s version of yesterday’s events?”

Sarah Baldwin nodded weakly, knowing there was no point to try to avoid this. Normally she could disillusion parents as to their daughter’s behaviour and their embellished stories of how awful and unfair their punishment had been, giving an account of the actuality that mollified most, even if they were not especially happy about it. Being a Girls’ Grammar most parents were keen not to cause too much trouble or withdraw their daughter. After all, the alternative was the education of the secondary modern a mile or so away, and by all accounts they were far more cane-happy than she was, even towards the girls. However, she knew this time the daughter’s account might be rather more close to the bone, as far as she was concerned.

“Grace said that she was sitting in the gym waiting, as were a few of the girls, though many were, according to my daughter, doing some warm-up exercises. Mrs Taylor suddenly came in and objected to the girls having decided to start without her and decided to slipper all of them no matter if they’d been sitting or not.”

Miss Baldwin silently cursed to herself that she’d asked Mrs Taylor to stand in. She was a slipper-happy woman at the best of times, and also notoriously easily irritated. Losing her free period to take an indoor games class probably had done nothing for her mood. However, the girls in that class were also all in the upper sixth, hardly some of the first-through-third formers where most slipperings happened. She could have expected a bit more restraint and consideration of the girls’ maturity from the woman.

Mrs Wilkinson was continuing. “I have to say I find it surprising that a teacher should feel it necessary to slipper an entire class at their age and for such an ‘offence’ especially when Miss Ramsey has generally encouraged them to start warming up before she arrives if they want. However, that said, I suppose one has to accept that is to some degree her prerogative, even if rather misguided. I would not be one to complain about the odd slippering, even if it was somewhat unfair. It is what followed that I find deeply upsetting.”

She continued, “It appears that your colleague noticed the cotton liner of my daughter’s knickers made them thicker and immediately pulled back the back to examine them. She then announced to the entire class that she had two pairs of shorts on and what did she think she was playing at. She demanded she change immediately. Can you imagine the embarrassment? Grace felt that her secret was out. And in such a humiliating and public way! However, despite that she tried to explain that she had a problem and that the garments were sewn. Mrs Taylor refused to listen, or even to allow Grace to talk in private! Indeed, instead she fetched an old nylon pair and demanded she go back and change in to them. When Grace desperately tried again to explain she then rather irately told her to go to you, having first stomped out to the office to write some letter which I presume you got.”

“Does this sound plausible to you so far, Miss Baldwin?” The angry parent asked.

Miss Baldwin took a breath, then replied slowly: “While I cannot really comment on the lead-up to the incident you have described without hearing from Mrs Taylor herself, I certainly received a note from her regarding your daughter’s reluctance to change.”

“So then we come to the events in your office. Grace said she arrived nearly in tears in her gym kit, with the pants Mrs Taylor demanded she take in her hand. Apparently you read the note and asked her to explain.”

The story paused as the now outwardly furious Miss Wilkinson took a breath.

“She tried, I believe, to explain but you did not believe her! Despite her being a senior pupil with, as far as I know, an excellent disciplinary record you insisted she must be lying! No, instead of making any effort to check the veracity of her claim you accused her of wearing the knickers as the normal ones weren’t good enough, and even queried if it was to ensure she would be better protected in case she was punished, as if she was some sort of coward!”

Mrs Wilkinson was really beginning to let rip now. She took another breath as the Head was unable to prevent the verbal onslaught continuing.

“So instead of my daughter being reassured about her embarrassing secret becoming public in such a way, instead you ordered her to strip off the knickers in front of you and put the nylon pair on. Again Grace tried to explain to you, asked, no begged, you to check with Miss Frank, to check for a medical note in her file, but you, you told her to stop making up fictions and wasting time. You forced her, forced her, eventually to change, then to bend over. You gave her six severe cane strokes, severely bruising and sensitising her skin while she was wearing a garment that she is allergic to! Do you know how dangerous that is? Dr Vernon was appalled, both at the severity of the caning you gave her, and that you actually did it over nylon, where the cuts can push fibres into wealed skin.”

Mrs Wilkinson was now breathing deeply, desperately trying not to lose complete control of her anger. In contrast Miss Baldwin looked stunned.

“You took her to see her doctor?” The Head asked with a hint of worry.

“Of course, to see what was the best way to deal with the damage you caused, given it was impossible for my husband and I to say whether the pain and swelling was merely from the caning, or the effects of the nylon covering you made her wear during it! Based on his report it is clear he thinks your actions are totally unjustifiable.”

She capitulated. “I am sorry, Mrs Wilkinson, I was entirely unaware of your daughter’s skin complaint, or I am afraid to say that such complaints even existed.”

“Sorry? So you say. However, ‘sorry’ does not even begin to cover the distress you have caused Grace. My husband is adamant about calling the Chair of Governors, the papers, and even the police to have you charged with assault. Personally I find it difficult to argue against him despite not wanting Grace to suffer the all the effects of such publicity.”

Miss Baldwin had had a threat of criminal action once before. On that occasion she had faced down the threat, pointing out that the girl in question’s behaviour would no doubt be tried in the newspapers as well, and she was within her rights to apply the punishment for fighting or, given she was older, ‘bullying’. Once the parents had calmed down they had at first reluctantly accepted that, and a couple of months later even apologised to her for over-reacting. However, in this case the boot was very much on the other foot.

“As I have said I cannot apologise enough, Mrs Wilkinson. However, given the publicity, that would not be good for either of us, surely there must be another way?”

“I suggest you resign, Miss Baldwin, before the Governors ask for it.” She said flatly.

“I beg your pardon,” replied Sarah Baldwin incredulously.

“My husband and I think that the Governors should be supportive of our position, and equally appalled that you caned an innocent girl over a garment she is allergic to. I don’t think any of us know how her body would have reacted if you had actually cut the skin with that cane of yours.”

“That is something I have never done and know how to avoid,” she replied. “But, can’t I ask you to reconsider; you are talking about my career here.”

“And yesterday you were talking about Grace’s career, were you not? Was it not only after you threatened expulsion that she finally agreed to change her pants in front of you and bend over?”

Miss Baldwin guiltily remembered the conversation as an image of the tearful girl removing underwear to expose herself naked from the waist down before reluctantly putting on the nylon pair swam into her memory.

Miss Baldwin tried again to persuade the mother to calm down. “Look I am really sorry, I know I gave your daughter a rather painful caning but…”

Mrs Wilkinson’s angry voice interrupted. “Rather painful! Rather painful? I saw the stripes on her bottom, the doctor saw the stripes; that caning was not just ‘rather painful’. It was agony. Have you ever been caned, Miss Baldwin?”

The Head shook her head. The school she had gone to so many years ago used the slipper frequently, but the cane had been much rarer, and not something she had experienced. In fact it was similar to her school here. Only a small fraction of the girls in the school had attended her office at some point during their years, though there were a smallish minority who seemed to be ‘regulars’, so to speak.

Mrs Wilkinson noted the small shake of the head and carried on her angry tirade. “Well perhaps before administering it with such little consideration, and in such a cavalier manner, maybe you should try it for yourself sometime. I assure you from my own experience, a caning of the severity you gave Grace is nothing less than excruciating, absolute agony. I…”

“Perhaps you’re right; perhaps I should.” Interrupted the Head in a quiet, firm voice.

Mrs Wilkinson stopped, looking confused. It was her turn to say: “I beg your pardon.”

The Head took a breath and repeated. “I said that perhaps you are right, perhaps I should take a caning. If it would be a way to placate you and your husband’s understandable anger, and put this matter away without the need to involve other parties such as the police, Governors and the press, then I would be prepared to undergo that. Perhaps, as you say, it would do no harm for me to experience the effects of such a punishment, given that I am duty bound to apply it on occasion.”

The Head was shocked with herself at how calmly she had spoken. There was almost a detachment, she felt. It was a very strange feeling. Anything was better than being forced to resign, after all, but also there was a guilty part inside telling her she needed to be punished, and another even more deeply hidden part that wondered what it would actually feel like to be given a caning. It was a part of her she had till then kept tightly locked up. Now she had opened that box a tiny crack.

Mrs Wilkinson looked astonished, stunned even. “You can’t be serious, can you? You can hardly be caned; you are an adult, and who could do it in any case?”

“I think there are many adults who have been caned, though perhaps more often by spouses or boy and girlfriends. Technically speaking I have caned quite a few sixth form ‘adults’ in my time including, I now am ashamed to say, your daughter, though maybe the caning of an eighteen year old at school is a little different. As for who could do it, the most obvious person, I think, would be you.”

Mrs Wilkinson tried to school her astonished face to cover her blush. She was not telling the Head, but she was one of those people who occasionally got a caning at her spouse’s hands. She did not like the caning itself, which her husband only used for a ‘punishment’, but it was she who had suggested it after they had got married. If pushed to be honest, she would also admit to occasionally pushing the boat out to get one. The sex was always great after. Her husband also dealt with Grace on rare, rare occasions, though that, he insisted, was always her decision as mother. He was always so reluctant to deal with his daughter. It was she who had to decide the punishment and he always insisted she witness it as he doled it out. Which led to the second issue the Head had raised.

“I have never caned before, and really don’t know where to start. Grace has received it from my husband though.” She replied.

Sarah Baldwin paused, wondering a bit on the wisdom of all this, then decided she had no real choice and shrugged. “If it is your husband, so be it. Would you accept that my receiving a caning would be an appropriate solution, instead of the negative publicity for everyone, if we end up with your proposed alternative?”

Mrs Wilkinson felt wrong-footed by the Head’s unexpected offer. She was much less keen than her spouse on all the publicity that her daughter would get if the Head stuck it out and the press and courts got involved. Even if the matter just went to the Governors then there was still a good chance that the story would appear in the papers. The press just loved such juicy stories.

After a pause finally she said: “I think I need to speak to my husband.”

The Head, wanting this sorted now, indicated the phone on her desk. “You can phone him here if you wish; you need to dial a nine to get an outside line. I will give you some privacy; I will bring you back a coffee.”

With that she left the room, told her secretary she had left Mrs Wilkinson to make a call, and was going to fetch a couple of coffees. Clare was amazed as this was highly unusual. She wondered what was going on, wished she could be a fly on the wall in that office.

A few minutes later Brian Wilkinson picked up the phone at his desk. That morning he was trying to concentrate on some work, despite still seething about the events that had occurred when he had got home the previous evening; his distressed daughter, who kept switching from ‘being brave’ to bursting into sobs, and his wife who was almost irrationally angry. He had been utterly furious too, but someone had had to stay in control. He had driven them immediately to see the doctor, get Grace checked up, and waited outside as mother escorted daughter in. While Dr Vernon was known to be sympathetic, Grace’s fragile state had not been helped by him having to check her over, including both the dreadful marks on her bottom, and of course, ‘down there’. Why the allergy seem to be most sensitive between her legs he was not sure, but it very unfortunate for his poor daughter.

There was no other real conversation that night. After much discussion it was agreed his wife, Mary, would go to the school to confirm what had happened, then demand the Head pay for her utter lack of judgment and the criminal assault on their daughter. Grace had begged them not to, especially when the police and papers were mentioned, but the two of them were adamant that justice must be served.

He heard Mary’s voice on the line, and listened as she outlined how apologetic the Head was, and then her proposal. He too was astonished, and paused for quite a while. “And your view, Mary, is?” He asked, as much to give him more time to think than anything else.

“Well, as you know Grace does not want trouble and publicity, and I think it would not be good either. I know we are in the right, but I don’t want the press picking over this story for all the lurid details. As long as she does not hold it over her, I think this is a good way out. However, it is you who needs to actually do the caning.”

Brian thought for a few minutes. He really felt she would be getting off lightly. However, his wife was probably right about the publicity and if it all went wrong then the two women of his family would probably be rather intolerable. He had experienced their justified combined wrath on one or two occasions and it always took forever to calm them down. He would never understand that about women.

Eventually he replied: “Very well, I suggest she presents herself to our house tomorrow night. Ensure you get an agreement about apologies and the future, and don’t let her off with less than twelve strokes. She can wear a pair of regulation nylon knickers, which should remind her of what she has done.”

“Twelve is an awful lot, dear, and she has never been whacked before. I doubt she will be able to take it.” Replied his wife, who usually got six at her husband’s hands, and never more than eight, which was always well nigh intolerable. Her husband always, of course, made her bare her bottom, but she doubted a thin layer of nylon would compensate for four strokes!

“You can offer her a warm up over your knee if you want, but what she did to Grace was pretty intolerable too, and she is an adult in a position of responsibility!”

A warm up? Brian sometimes gave her one. They were usually when he knew she’d been angling for a caning, rather than when she’d just done something to anger him. There was something humiliating about being put over his knee first that made her think it might be a good starter for that Head.

“Okay dear, I’ll let you know what she decides.” She replied, and with that she hung up.

Mary went to the door and popped her head round.

The secretary looked up. “She is fetching us a couple of cups of coffee, Mrs Wilkinson, I expect she’ll be back in a minute.”

Mary nodded and said thanks, then retreated back into the Head’s office, leaving the door open.

Sarah Baldwin, in the meantime, had been deep in thought as she had waited for the kettle to boil. She relived her conversation with Grace many times, and most certainly regretted not having checked. Grace was a sixth-former, and had not been in trouble before, so she perhaps should have given her story some credence. However, it had seemed so far-fetched; an allergy to nylon of all things! She still now had difficulty believing it existed. However, one could not undo the past.

Shortly later she returned with the two cups and Mary took her coffee with perfunctory thanks.

“My husband is quite reluctant to agree, I am afraid.”

Sarah’s stomach slightly lurched. She was not going to resign easily, but she could see how things could go. Nevertheless she waited quietly for Mary Wilkinson to continue.

“However, he did agree to consider it, subject to a few issues.”

Mary paused, but the Head remained silent, waiting for her to finish.

“First, he feels that you are a mature adult and that the caning needs to reflect that. The suggestion is twelve strokes, and that you receive them across some school nylon knickers for modesty’s sake.”

Sarah Baldwin let out a gasp. Twelve was more than she had ever given. The worst she could remember was eight, and that was to a girl with a record and who was on a last chance to stay at the school. As she wondered what to say, she reflected that at least they were letting her keep her modesty intact.

Mary Wilkinson noted the gasp. “Yes, twelve is a lot, but as my husband says, you are a mature adult. However, I can make it easier for you if you wish. If you request it, I will give your bottom a warm up spanking before, which should help you cope with the caning after. That will be in private over my knee, knickers down, before my husband deals with you.”

Miss Baldwin blinked. That she would be able to request a bare bottom spanking beforehand seemed ridiculous, but she remained silent and allowed Mrs Wilkinson to continue.

“I assure you, Miss Baldwin, the effect will be to take the edge off the pain of the cane, but going over my knee with your knickers down is of course humiliating. It is your choice, and not one you should make without thinking on it. Should we all agree to proceed to a caning, my husband proposes you attend our house at 7.30 tomorrow evening and you can let us know your choice then.”

Sarah had opened her mouth to say something but closed it as clearly Mrs Wilkinson had still not finished.

“There are some other conditions. First, that no matter what, my daughter must not ever be singled out as a result by you or any other teacher. Second, you will ensure that in future staff are all quietly aware of the condition and need to be more discrete in handling such cases. Third, you will apologise to my daughter at assembly. Fourth, you will deal with any girl who teases my daughter about what happened appropriately. Finally I expect you to purchase new cotton and nylon knickers and make a replacement garment for the one you seem to have ‘lost’. Grace’s next games lesson is Friday, but I would suggest you exempt her and have a pair prepared for Monday in time for her lesson on Tuesday.”

Sarah grimaced at the prospect of sewing which was not a forte of hers, nor something she enjoyed. However, she could not see anything too unreasonable. After a few moments she made her decision

“Very well I accept the conditions and the caning tomorrow night. Once again I am very sorry that this has happened.”

Mrs Wilkinson looked at the head rather coolly. “I am very sorry too, but not as sorry as Grace was last night, nor as sorry as you will be tomorrow, I think. On that last point I would suggest you take a taxi tomorrow evening and I will drive you home after. I doubt you will be able to drive comfortably yourself afterwards.”

Sarah nodded sickly as the consequences of what she was volunteering for were mentioned. However, then on impulse she said: “There is one other thing, I am going to speak after to the Governors on this, no not to do with Grace, nor what we have agreed, but on the question of being so specific on the regulation underwear. I will be suggesting that as long as the colour is correct then cotton or nylon should both be allowed normally and for games. With a bit of luck I can get the new policy sorted to start after the February half term.”

Mrs Wilkinson nodded and replied: “Thank you. I think that is an excellent idea.”

She then stood and said: “Well, till tomorrow then.”

“Tomorrow.” Acknowledged the Head sombrely and then opened the door to let a rather calmer Mrs Wilkinson leave.

Sarah Baldwin was less calm. She cursed herself for being so careless, but also Mrs Taylor for both being so unbending, and not having made any effort to listen to the girl, leaving her to support her as teacher. She wondered what had really happened in that gym.

A quick look at the class lists and she asked her secretary, Clare, to get the Head Girl.

A little nervous, the young woman soon appeared. Having been slippered herself, Tricia Jones was clearly not best pleased with Mrs Taylor either, and strongly objected to the term ‘fooling about’. Some of them had been warming up, either stretching or jogging round the gym. No-one was on the apparatus. With the Head clearly allowing her to express her view openly she left Miss Baldwin a very clear impression of her views on both Mrs Taylor’s actions and her attitude as a teacher.

The Head was rather impressed at what she had learnt. Perhaps, she thought, she should speak to the senior girls more often. However, this was not the time; more cautiously the Head asked about Grace. Tricia was clearly puzzled by the whole thing, but said there was clearly something Grace was embarrassed about, but the teacher was in too bad a mood to listen. Wondering what to say, the Head finally thanked her Head Girl, and said that if she heard of any teasing of Grace as a result of the incident, no matter how minor, she wanted to know about it. Tricia was sharp enough to understand what that meant, though she wondered what the reasons were, even if she could not of course ask.

At lunch, the Head met with Mrs Taylor. It was at least somewhat therapeutic to let off steam at the woman, especially after she admitted the sixth-formers had not so much been fooling as having started without her. Personally the Head would have loved to give the bad-tempered woman a taste of what she could expect the following evening, but had to make do with the the worst dressing down she could ever recall giving a colleague. It was not often she could recall reducing a fellow teacher so effectively to tears, she thought vindictively, as she dismissed her to consider both her attitude and vocation.

The rest of the day was fortunately busy enough to keep her mind off what she had agreed that morning. However, her mind inevitably returned to it as the school quietened down after the girls had left. Later that evening, she slipped into the now deserted PE area and found a pair of nylon knickers that fitted her. She gave them a wash at home, leaving them on the radiator to dry overnight.

She slept fitfully, wondering what the following daywould be like. The sleep of the condemned, she supposed, as she lay awake wondering how she would react when it was her posterior that was to intercept the rattan scything through the air.

Such thoughts distracted her throughout the following day. Indeed, one girl was sent to her for misbehaviour and she suddenly found she could not bring herself to cane her. Instead, after extracting a rather sobbed apology she gave her a slippering, justifying her unusual leniency to herself by saying it was her first time, despite it being for persistent cheek.

Then it was four o’clock. She left early and found a shop to purchase the two pairs of regulation underwear she would have to sew together at the weekend, before going home and changing. Changing into a trouser suit she rarely wore, rather than wear stockings or have to fumble around with tights. Under were, of course, the nylon knickers. They made her feel much younger as they reminded her of her own experience with regulation underwear. Hers had been cotton; nylon was some new-fangled material that came along long after she finished school before the war.

She was not hungry, but forced herself to eat some toast with a piece of cheese, and then it was suddenly quarter past seven. The taxi she had booked was outside the door.

A short ride later, and just before half past, she was very nervously knocking on the Wilkinson’s door. She felt as one of her girls in trouble must do as she waited for the answer, hoping that by some miracle it might be that everyone was out.

It was of, course, a forlorn hope as Mary Wilkinson opened the door and invited her in to the living room.

Inside, she met Brian Wilkinson for the first time, unless she had shook hands some years before at some event. He looked rather severe as she tried to apologise again.

His response was a gruff: “I know you are sorry, Miss Baldwin. Mary keeps telling me. However, I will accept it after, if you do not mind.”

Sarah accepted that and looked around, wondering where the third member of the family was.

Mary noted her look and said: “Grace chose to go to a friend’s house this evening. She does not really want anything to do with this, and has absented herself as a result. You are still prepared to go through with this?”

Sarah took a breath and nodded. “I accept what we agreed yesterday, assuming you and your husband do also?”

Mary glanced at her husband and then replied: “Yes we still do. Did you decide about the warm-up?”

Sarah flushed. Things were moving uncomfortably fast, rather too quickly to the reason why she was here; to her appointment with a cane.

“Yes,” she spoke slowly. “I do not offer the girls such an option, so I think it would not be fair for me to request one in this circumstance.”

Though she knew it would be probably more painful on thinking on it, Sarah had been unable to bring herself to be upended bare-bottomed over a pupil’s parent’s knee. Getting this caning was humiliating enough.

Mary shrugged and said: “Well, I guess it is all over to you now, Brian.”

With that she sat down in an armchair in the corner of the room, leaving the Headmistress and her husband facing each other.

After a pause Brian crouched down and pulled out a straight three-foot cane from under the sideboard.

Sarah Baldwin could not prevent a wince of anticipation escaping her lips as she looked at the stick she was no doubt shortly to be beaten with.

“I suggest you drop your slacks, Miss Baldwin, then bend over and grab the edges of the coffee table.”

Miss Baldwin looked nervously at the man in front of her, and realised why the table had been placed oddly to one side. Clearly it was to give him plenty room to swing. Before going to her trousers though, she shrugged off her suit jacket and, when no one objected, placed it on an arm of the sofa.

Then, face reddening, she turned to the coffee table, undid the top button and, with a wiggle, her trousers fell to her ankles.

She imagined Brian appraising her figure as she bent over, keeping her legs straight and together. While she was in her early fifties, she had kept herself in shape pretty well, choosing to swim at least twice a week and being an avid walker. Thus while her waist was not as narrow as when she was younger, she was proud of her well-toned legs for her age.

Brian was rather taken up with what he was to do to pay too much attention to that, though there was some abstract appreciation of those legs and of course what they led up to. He glanced at his wife.

Mary was sitting looking at him impassively and he put his mind back to the task at hand.

“Twelve strokes, Miss Baldwin. I suggest you hold tight.”

Sarah gripped the edge of the table more firmly as she felt the cane touch her bottom for the first time.

Brian did not give her long, but drew back the cane and let fly right into the middle of the target.

Sarah heard the crack and then gave a grasp of realisation as the consequence shot through her. The pain was certainly much sharper than she expected.

Taking his time, Brian Wilkinson doled out four more strokes. They were met with grunts and gasps from the middle-aged woman in front of him. She was taking this better than he expected.

Sarah was digging deep to keep herself together, reminding herself of her station in life. She was determined not to blubber like some of the girls she had to deal with.

Brian on the other hand wanted to ensure the Head felt exactly the emotions of a girl who had been brought to tears by her punishment, exactly the emotions her daughter had undergone at her hands. He dug a bit deeper.

After three further hard cuts of the cane, Sarah Baldwin had begun to give a low shriek on each blow. The pain was unbelievable; vaguely she recalled the incident when her ankle had been broken at hockey. Perhaps her memory had forgotten, but this seemed far worse.

As she had since the beginning, she mentally told herself to keep focused, only four to go.

Thwack!

“Aaaaagh!”

That one was clearly low and the worst yet. Only three to go.

Mr Wilkinson was now aiming lower still, indeed just below the knicker elastic. He intended this to be the one that would finally break the woman.

He cracked it down as hard as he could.

Sarah Baldwin gurgled in shock then screamed. The heavy coffee table lifted from the floor as she jerked against the blow before crashing back down, the pile of magazines on the lower tray of the table toppling and part falling onto the floor. She felt her eyes dampening.

She must see it through, only two left.

Brian watched as the bottom in front of him waved and wriggled from side to side. The last cut was now reddening vividly below those nylon green knickers. Sarah’s legs had been together when he’d started, but now there was no care for modesty. Like his wife, he knew all she would now be caring about was seeing this through.

Having covered the bottom as best he could with ten stripes, one he could see and nine he now imagined throbbing under her knickers, he lined the cane up diagonally and vigorously thrashed it down.

He was rewarded with an ear splitting scream and to his grim satisfaction a stifled sob.

Sarah could not prevent a tear or two falling now as she waited for the last one, the pain had just been too much. She now understood better why the young ladies in her charge so feared a visit to her office.

Crack!

A second diagonal stroke crashed across her buttocks. This time she stood as she screamed and put her hands to her buttocks. Further tears oozed out of her eyes, a mix of the dreadful pain and perhaps relief that it was over, that she had endured.

Vaguely she was aware that Mary Wilkinson was pushing some tissues into her hands, then helping her pull her slacks up, relieving her of the need to bend down painfully to her ankles.

Shortly later she was in their bathroom trying to recover and after five or ten minutes she found herself, just like any other girl, gently peeling down her slacks and knickers to examine the damage. The solid band of raised ridges was shocking to look at, painful to touch. A few more tears inexplicably escaped.

Finally she felt in enough control to go back to the living room. This time Brian was more conciliatory and accepted her apology, complementing her on how bravely she’d endured the caning.

Standing in the kitchen, she had a cup of tea with Mary where they talked about, well nothing much really, before finally she was taken home, borrowing a pillow to sit on in the car to help.

Sarah was relieved that night, relieved that she had managed to sort a messy situation without losing her job, oddly relieved too that her curiosity about what a caning felt like had been most thoroughly satisfied. It was, however, something she would not be choosing to repeat.

The End

© Joanna Jones 2013