A young lady visits an unhappy friend

By Jane Fairweather

“I don’t mind it being such short notice. I just hope you have a good weekend with Miss Coles. She sounds such a nice woman. Very kind of her to ask you again. And who knows, with her being a deputy headmistress, she might get you back into teaching now the war is on, even though you are married. They are definitely relaxing the rule about women teachers having to be single. Your dad and I could always look after Jack. And that apart, I do think you need somebody adult, who isn’t a man. A man would be just a bit awkward with you being married. And I get the impression Miss Coles might fit the bill,” Mother said rather awkwardly, one jerky phrase at a time.

To Jill’s relief, her mother said nothing about the fact that her four-year-old son, Jack, was going to have to be looked after by his grandmother yet again, which was becoming an imposition she felt guilty about. After all, she was excused war work because she had a young child. She really ought not to be leaving so much of it to her parents, especially as they were giving her a roof over her head for the duration of the war. Mike, her husband, was in the Royal Engineers and somewhere near Burma at the last count. Though she was fond of him, the distance was beginning to worry her. She needed someone.

“And don’t worry about Jack. Your dad will spoil him rotten and enjoy doing it, and I will enjoy watching them,” mother continued benignly. “You go off and enjoy yourself. With a husband on the other side of the world with this wretched war, you don’t get much adult life. At least you have the sense not to go off with any man into the nearest meadow. I knew more than one like that in the last war.”

“Oh mother, as if I would!” Jill protested, blushing.

“Anyway, I am sure you will be glad of some different company,” mother said. “It’s always a comfort if there is more than one of you.”

“It is the chatter I go for. Jane knows an awful lot about politics and history, and the war and all that. She was at Oxford like me. Susan Freeman said we should meet. You know, my old tutor, and we really get on,” Jill said.

“Yes, I am sure it will do you good to have a real old gossip with someone more or less your own age and as well-educated as you. It will be very good for you indeed,” mother concluded.

****

The country buses, as usual in war time, were awkward and late, and it was half past six by the time that Jill lifted the latch on Jane Coles’ garden gate, which was a good hour later than she had promised. She only hoped Jane wasn’t going to be mad with her. She really did not want to start the weekend by having her first real row with her new friend, though no doubt that would come. She always ended up rowing with her friends.

She knocked timidly on the dark green paint of the cottage door and waited nervously. What if Jane did not want to see her after all? Or there was somebody else there, and she was going to have to share Jane? She felt thoroughly jealous.

However, the door opened and Jane was there with her lovely gold hair and blue eyes in a very pretty red dress. Presumably, she had put by the very formal blue or grey skirt suit that she must wear as a deputy headmistress at the local high school, not least, Jill thought with a grin, when she was disciplining girls, which she knew her friend was mainly responsible for.

She had been wondering ever since she they had met if her new friend ever got to use the cane. She could just imagine the formidable Miss Coles bending some unfortunate girl over.  Did gym-slips get raised? It was hard to imagine a cane being very effective through a gym slip, a petticoat and probably very solid school girl knickers. She remembered her brother’s fraught and slightly tearful face after his second caning at home. Undoubtedly with a just a pair of underpants and thin tight flannel trousers, it did hurt a lot. That was the time Alan had got six of the best for an accumulation of offences over several weeks of the holidays, though the last of them had been at least partly her fault. She should not have egged him on to steal that wine. She could still remember counting the strokes through the walls between their bedrooms and wondering why he did not cry out.

However, Jane seemed in a proper mood, asked about her journey, and said they could either have salad now with some cold beef or something more substantial and hot later.

Not, added Jane, that there was a lot of beef. Jill assured her that in these days of rationing any beef was welcome.

“I am afraid I got it on the black market. Honestly, it’s a sign of the times. Before the war I would not have dreamed of it,” Jane added. “A school mistress and an assistant head at that! Really, I should have the cane for it, shouldn’t I?”

They both giggled, but Jill found herself asking what had made her friend so obviously fraught. Everyone from time to time managed a little extra outside the strict rationing. There must be something else worrying Jane.

Still, the awkward moment seemed to pass. Jill’s coat was very properly hung up on the hooks in the hall, and her green hat was placed on the rather empty hat stand, while her travelling case was taken upstairs by her host, despite Jill’s protests that she was quite happy to do it herself.

As Jane went up the stairs carrying her guest’s small blue travelling case, Jill could not help noticing her friend’s lovely red dress was quite tight and rippling, and you could see a certain amount through it. She found herself wondering if Jane had directoire knickers on. That would have appealed to her husband, she thought, who was quite shameless about thinking aloud to her about such things, which she never minded and actually rather enjoyed, though a lot of women would have hated it. However, Mike was not here to enjoy it, but on the borders of Burma, so she might as well enjoy the view. What would it look like with her friend bent over the back of a chair for six or so of the best from some sturdy policeman for breaking Black Market regulations in that lovely dress?

Jane came back downstairs and then, after what Jill at least thought was rather too little preliminary chat, they went straight into the kitchen and made up a simple salad with lettuce, tomatoes and grated carrot from Jane’s garden.

Jane cut up the beef and Jill did as she was told and opened one of three bottles of French wine, which was all that were left from Jane’s last trip to Paris before the war and which they had decided not to touch the weekend before.

Then they sat and ate and drank. However, as she sat and enjoyed her Beaujolais, Jill realized yet again that her friend was out of sorts and, by her normal standards, was barely talking. It did not seem quite tactful to challenge this unwonted silence. Had she offended Jill in some way? But it seemed unlikely.

Probably it was something at school. She had seen her husband in a mood like this after a rough day at the office. She smiled at herself for comparing her female friend with her husband, yet equally she found herself demanding vehemently what it would be like when Mike came home, assuming he did make it through the dark tides of battle, which would probably be years. Would there be anything left of what they had as a couple before all this? At least here was a friend, who might still be here in ten years’ time. At least that was her present, rather irrational, feeling.

“Are you up to making coffee? There is still some, though it won’t last long. The percolator is on the second shelf in the kitchen cabinet with what’s left of the ground coffee. Oh, and put the cork back in the Beaujolais, if you feel like doing it, please. We should get another two glasses out of it tomorrow,” Jane suddenly said.

“Of course,” Jill said at her most polite and trotted off into the kitchen, where she found the percolator and the ground coffee and got it going without too much trouble. Then she went back, got the wine and put the cork back in, after a fashion.

As she worked, she reflected that the final straw that had led to Alan getting six of the best nearly a decade and a half before had been his getting caught helping himself to a glass of wine, and worse from an unopened bottle, which she had more than half egged him on to do. He had been just about to pour her a glass, when mother came in. Jill doubted if she would have escaped the cane if she had been found with a glass of purloined wine in her hand. Not for the first time, she imagined herself most humiliatingly stretched over her own bed, waiting with her knickers feeling horribly tight; and then the sound and pain of the cane and her own yelling. She was quite sure she would have yelled, though Alan always insisted that she would have taken it better than he did, each of the numerous times they had relived that dire afternoon in the school holidays fifteen years ago.

As Jill waited for the coffee and imagined these slightly perverse imaginings, her host came in and went out of the back door to the loo, which Jill knew from her previous two visits was a decidedly primitive privy in a shed. Jane had been going to get a boy to dig it out she remembered, but somehow she doubted if it had been done.

Jane returned, still seemingly covered by huge black storm clouds, and returned to the sitting room with barely a hello.

Jill waited till she was sure the coffee was nearly ready, then warmed the milk, poured the coffee and milk into two mugs, and put them on a tray, complete with teaspoons and sugar. She rather nervously re-entered the sitting room.

Jane at least thanked her for the coffee and, after a couple of sips, said it tasted good. However, Jill waited in vain for her friend to say a word more.

Finally, she lost all patience and said very firmly, “For god’s sake, Jane, whatever is the matter? You have barely said a word.”

“Oh my dear, I am so sorry,” Jane said with the air of one coming out of a bad dream. “But I have had a horrible day at school.”

“Better tell me about it then,” Jill said briskly, reflecting this was exactly what she would have said to Mike after he had a bad day at the office.

Jane seemed to go almost into a reverie before she replied. Presumably, Miss Jane Coles was imagining herself sitting in her office dressed in her awful work suit, which was probably a quite hideous grey and nothing like the lovely, shapely and quite tight red dress she had on now, Jill concluded.

“It was just before the morning break, and I was sitting there in my office thinking it was not long to our weekend together, when there was a knock on my door,” Jane began. “It was the all too young and very fierce Miss Bright with her blazing red hair, who is the form mistress of 3A, and she was clearly extremely angry. I must say I have never much liked Miss Bright, she is always so self-righteous!

“She announced, if you please, that as the headmistress is still off with flu, she thought she should see me because I was obviously the one to deal with it, whatever it was. If she had been a girl, I would have pulled her up for insolence.”

Something in Jill made her wonder if her friend would have enjoyed caning Miss Bright for said insolence. That would have been interesting. Miss Bright would probably have squeaked quite a lot. Or maybe her skirt would have been too thick for it to have much effect. Could you ask a grown woman to take her skirt off to be caned?

‘Squeaked’, that was the word Alan always used about boys at his school who cried out during a caning, which really was a bit unfair, for it must hurt a lot. Disappointingly, there had been no yells to be heard through the thin walls of their adjoining bedrooms on the two occasions their father had caned her brother, just the swish and whack of a three-foot cane, which had been really rather frightening, especially after the stolen wine when she had more than half wondered if she was going to be next. The first time, when she was twelve and Alan was thirteen, she should have had it for that joint piece of mischief, that putting of oil on Mr Johnson’s kitchen window for no better reason than they did not like Mr Johnson. Instead, she had been confined to her bedroom till breakfast the next day, which she still resented.

“I realized in reality, of course, that the stupid cow undoubtedly meant someone deserved to be caned, which, for good or ill, is something I normally have to deal with, as Miss Carter never feels up to doing it herself,” Jane continued with a voice full of annoyance.

“The Miss Brights of this world never realize how unpleasant a job it is to actually have to carry out a caning,” Jane continued in the same moody voice. “I never like facing the victim’s face as I bring the cane down on the hand, which always makes me feel guilty, even if it is extremely effective and very few girls come back for a second or third dose. I always wonder why I cannot cane bottoms. However, Miss Carter does not allow it. And I must say Miss Bright has a rather plump soft bottom that would undoubtedly feel the impact of a well applied cane, especially today when she had rather a thin summer dress on.”

Jill smiled to herself at having guessed correctly what her friend would have liked to do to the irritating Miss Bright.

“Anyway,” Jane went on. “I asked her what was the problem and she came out with this rigmarole. Apparently, during the ten minute period after assembly, Evelyn Sharpe was in floods of tears and the well-meaning Miss Bright investigated. It took me some while to get out of her what she had actually found out; she kept going off at tangents.

“But anyway, Miss Bright announced in the end, amid much tossing of her pretty red hair, that on the way to school Evelyn had been scragged. I think that is the uncouth expression that Miss Bright used. Evelyn had been scragged by her elder sister, Mary, and Diana Evans, Mary’s best friend. Some chocolate had been taken and Evelyn had been tickled and her pigtails pulled.

“I could not help feeling that I had been a pretty awful younger sister myself, who was always telling stories and trying to get Margaret, my sister, into trouble. I even got her spanked on a couple of occasions.

“Of course, it was not impossible that there was more to Evelyn’s problem. It was certainly bad enough to demand investigation and probably would end in the cane for the culprits, which I must say did upset me. I have always been fond of Mary, and dear little Evelyn strikes me as a much more dubious character than her sister. And I cannot say that I liked the prospect of having to cane two girls from right at the top of the school. They really are too old when they get to that age.

Moreover, even from Evelyn’s point of view, I could not help thinking she was asking to be sent to Coventry by her classmates. The girls really do not like someone who grasses.”

“When you say, ‘sent to Coventry’, you mean Evelyn would not be spoken to by her classmates if she reported officially what they had done to her?” Jill asked.

“Correct. But maybe I was thinking that if Evelyn had not grassed, I would have been spared having to cane a girl who I genuinely like a lot. Who knows?”

Jill smiled rather wryly to herself as she wondered just how close Mary Sharpe was to her deputy headmistress, and felt more than a little jealous.

“At all events,” Jane continued after a brief pause for breath. “Justice followed its inevitable course. Evelyn was summoned in her neat pigtails and her grey gymslip, was fairly tongue-tied, but essentially repeated what she had told her form teacher, though she did suddenly say that she did not want her big sister to get into real trouble.

“A little late for that, Evelyn,” I said, thinking yet again to myself that the girl was quite likely to experience some trouble with her fellows for breaking the unwritten rules about telling tales. Quite probably she would be ‘sent to Coventry’ for a while. If that happened, I thought Evelyn would rather deserve it. But then, perhaps, Miss Bright had made the girl say rather more than she wanted to.

“Anyway, Evelyn departed looking worried, and I sent the school secretary in pursuit of the two culprits, who in due course arrived.

“Mary and Diana are two normally well-behaved girls, and they were distinctly embarrassed at being caught out. It was faintly amusing to watch their faces as they wriggled under the inquisition. Mary Sharpe’s brunette hair had received a very adult perm and she generally had the air of a girl who is getting rather old to be at school, but this did not stop the odd tear flowing from her pretty black eyes down her soft white cheeks. Diana Evans still had pigtails and looked very much what she is, a very solid hockey player, with a definite place in the first eleven. She has never been that good at school work, but has always been very well regarded for her sporting achievements. Neither of them, in fact, were exactly the sort of girl you expect to get into serious trouble, which made it all the more trying.”

“What does your school’s uniform look like for older girls?” Jill cut in, wondering if the girls were in gym slips or skirts and blouses.

“Oh, they wear grey gymslips with a white blouse and blue striped tie and blazer right up to the sixth form, but why do you want to know that?” Jane replied, sounding irritated at having her flow interrupted.

“I am just trying to picture the scene,” Jill responded. “We changed to skirts and blouses when we got to the sixth form.”

“Well, it does not happen like that at Darkling High School!” Jane responded irritably. “Now, where was I? Oh yes, after some initial prevarication neither girl made much fuss about admitting their crime. They said Evelyn had been thoroughly annoying and had provoked them over several days. When they saw their excuses were not going to be accepted, they went on to say they were sorry at rather too much length.

“Justice then took its inevitable course. Both girls were sentenced to be caned. Not as bad as being hanged, of course, but the pair of them looked decidedly shaken, which was probably made worse by the fact that neither had been caned at school before. Mary could not restrain her tears. Diana looked frightened. I sent Mary to stand outside the door as I thought she was probably the ring leader on this occasion.

“And so Diana found herself standing before her deputy headmistress with her hands outstretched, receiving two sharp swishes with a two-foot-six-inch cane on each palm. Her face contorted a lot, but she took her punishment with a minimum of fuss and no tears. She departed through the door, clutching her hands together and not quite walking in a straight line. I cannot say I enjoyed it much, but then I never do. And then I had to deal with Mary, who I have always been very fond of.”

Jill felt even more jealous when she heard this.

“Anyway,” Jane continued. “Enter Mary, who had managed to stop crying, but was looking very worried. I wanted to get it out of the way as quickly as possible, both for her sake and mine, so I did not bother with even the brief lecture I had given Diana.

“I had my mouth open to tell her to hold her hands out, but she suddenly said, ‘Please, Miss Coles, you know it is my Art exam tomorrow, and I so want to get into Art College. Please could I not have it on my hands? I will never be able to draw or paint; I have such soft hands.’

“And of course it was largely due to my urging that Mary was aiming for Art College. She draws unusually well, and she does water colours on her own account, without anyone telling her to do it. They are very good.

“However, I had to reply, because that is how it is. ‘You know perfectly well we only cane hands at this school, Miss Sharpe. Hold them out and let us get it over with.’

“Anyway, she stood there trembling and not holding her hands out, so I said, ‘I am genuinely sorry about your exam, Mary, but you have brought it on yourself. Now hold your hands out!’

“Mary replied very hesitantly, ‘Please Miss Coles. When Evelyn and I get punished at home it is always on our knickers. Couldn’t you do the same? Please? Just this once.’

“I was very divided. I thought about it and with the important exam coming up there was a very strong case for it. But how to do it? The likelihood of penetrating the quite heavy cloth of Mary’s gym slip, not to mention her school knickers, to the degree required, seemed low. And anyway it looked as if she had a petticoat on. If I did cane the girl’s behind it would have to be on her knickers, but equally Mary is very grown up and very attractive, and it did not seem nice to be gazing at her underwear. On the other hand, it would get the poor girl off the hook about her Art College exam, and apparently she was used to it at home.”

Jill seriously wondered if the horrible Mary, who at that moment her jealousy was making her really loathe, had been making it up in some way. Perhaps the exam was not for a couple of days. However, she did not say anything.

“Then I asked if she had really had the cane on her knickers before, Jane went on just a touch sardonically. I was seriously wondering if it was perhaps something that had just been threatened and not actually carried out. I still remember the time I was nearly spanked for stealing a couple of chocolates, and it still feels oddly as if I had been.

“Then Mary said, ‘Yes, I got three for smoking, Miss, from my mother. Mum doesn’t like smoking. And Evelyn has had the hairbrush for lying and trying to get me in trouble.’ Miss Sharpe replied as coolly as you please.

“’Oh, has she?’ I replied, and then decided I was not going to get into that.

“So I got right on with it and told her to take her blazer and gymslip off, and then bend over and take a firm grip on her ankles. The girl obeyed without any fuss and I pulled the rather nondescript green petticoat above her waist.”

Jill could not help imagining what she presumed to be the culprit’s bottle green knickers stretched extremely tight, and then could not resist asking, “What sort of a bottom was it? Girls vary so much.”

“Oh, don’t get too excited, you fiend! It was the solid plump sort with fairly equal buttocks, not that different from a boy, I should think, not that I have ever caned a boy,” Jane said, suddenly giggling, to Jill’s relief.

“However, for good or ill, even with that bottom, a good deal was visible that a girl would not normally want to be seen, but I did my best not to look,” Jane said, suddenly going very defensive, making Jill feel even more jealous.

“Anyway,” Jane continued, sounding as if she was reaching the climax of her story. “I landed the first stroke right in the middle of those plump buttocks and she really squealed, jumped up and clutched her behind. I had to tell her very firmly that if she did that one more time her sentence would go up from four to six strokes. After that she clung desperately to her ankles.

“I took my time and worked slowly and deliberately down her bum, twenty or thirty seconds between each stroke, till the last one hit where the buttocks meet the thighs, and she really roared after that one. It must have jolly well hurt. However, give the girl some credit. I had administered four hard, well-timed lashes, and she squealed and wept and wriggled, but she more or less kept her plump young bottom in position and did her best to co-operate in her punishment.

“She jumped up after the fourth whack and clutched her behind for a minute, putting her hands inside her knickers, but then she pulled her petticoat down and put her gymslip and blazer on probably quicker than she really wanted to. I think she was genuinely embarrassed, despite having asked to be punished like that.

“At any rate, as she left the room she came out with, ‘God, that was so embarrassing and I never knew anything could hurt so much. It hurt so much more than when Mum did it. But thank you so much for getting me out of that hole, Miss Coles.’

“And then she staggered out of the door with the tears still streaming out of her pretty black eyes and still holding her bottom.”

“But it sounds as if it really upset you?” Jill said.

Was it really this very well-deserved caning of a very silly minx that had so upset her friend? If so, Jane was a lot softer than she seemed at first sight, which was rather sweet.

“If I had not been so mad with Mary for getting herself into such a silly hole at her age, I think I would have been upset,” Jane responded very thoughtfully after a pause. “But as it was, I am afraid I took a certain pleasure in making every one of those four strokes really bite into that soft stupid behind. The girl had well and truly asked for it, and she got it.

“Anyhow, I don’t suppose I will ever get to cane a girl on her bottom again, let alone such a pretty senior. And that, my dear, was the end of one of the stranger mornings of my life,” Jane concluded.

“It sounds as if you coped rather well and did not mind carrying out the caning, so why are you so upset?” Jill asked, feeling baffled.

“Oh, you would not believe it!” Jane exclaimed. “After lunch, Miss Carter rang to see how the day had gone and she was not at all pleased. She said that we only cane hands at Darkling High School and it must not happen again, ever, whereas I actually preferred it. I honestly think if she could have bent me over and caned me she would have done it; she was absolutely livid. But it is not just that. Did you ever have the cane at school?”

“We did not have a cane at my school. We had every silly punishment imaginable, but no cane. They claimed to think it was brutal. I would have much preferred it,” Jill said with genuine feeling. “I was quite often in trouble and I was always wasting time on detentions and lines and being lectured. A couple of quick whacks with the cane would have been simpler and quicker. Though I must say the two times I nearly got it at home I was quite terrified.”

“Whatever happened?” Jane asked, suddenly looking amused.

“My parents did have a cane, and there were two occasions that I could easily have got it. My brother, who was equally guilty with me, got it both times. However, I was a girl and I got lectured and shut in my room. I did not like being lectured. I think I was in an inch of getting the cane the second time. I almost feel guilty I missed out, not bending over my bed for four or five of the best that second time. My poor brother got six, despite it being my idea and I heard every bit of it through the wall of my bedroom. I always feel guilty about that. I was the one who thought it up. I should have had at least six,” Jill said almost tearfully.

Jane paused, perhaps wondering whether to say anything by way of comfort, but then said, “I didn’t have it either. It was just about possible at my boarding school. I several times saw girls being sent out of class to visit the headmistress and coming back with red eyes. I am not sure I was not just a tad envious. However, I enjoyed being a good girl and winning all the prizes and being generally popular. It is so silly, I always feel guilty about administering a punishment I have never had. Not that there is much to be done about it.

“However, it was not the end of my awful day. I lingered on for twenty minutes after the end of school to catch up on a bit of administrative work and my phone went. Who do you think?”

“Your headmistress apologising after cooling down, I would hope,” Jill said.

“Yes, it would have been nice, wouldn’t it?” Jane replied. “But no, it was Mary and Evelyn’s mother sounding very pleased with herself. It appears she has discovered that it was originally Evelyn who stole the chocolate from Mary, would you believe, and Mary and Diana just stole it back.

“I felt awful and started to apologise, and she said, ‘Oh no, you did absolutely the right thing, Miss Coles. We cannot have girls beating one another up, now can we?’ And then she went on to say that home and school should support one another, which in grim reality means that my poor Mary has had another four strokes, and that little fiend Evelyn has had six and not with the hairbrush on this occasion, I gather. Poor Mary! She will be lucky to sit down for her Art exam. Not that I feel in the slightest bit sorry for Evelyn. It sounds to me as if she deserved what she got.”

“At least according to Mary, her mother does not cane that hard,” Jill pointed out gently.

“True. I only hope you are right,” Jane responded wearily. “But really this is getting silly. For goodness sake let us finish the rest of the Beaujolais and cuddle up on the sofa together and talk about anything other than school.”

“And preferably not the war either,” Jill added dryly.

“And preferably not the war either,” Jane echoed her.

****

It was past midnight by the time that they got into their night dresses on the second and last night in the cottage’s only bedroom with its twin beds. Jill caught just a glimpse of her friend’s lovely bottom as she slipped off her very stylish directoire knickers from underneath her pink nylon slip with lace at the bottom of it, but she did not like to say anything, though she found the moment very erotic. Probably it was just her, she decided, and Jane did not have any of these awkward feelings which had been building up in her during the last twenty-four hours. It might well be weeks or months before they met again, if they did, so she stayed silent.

However, just after Jane put out the light, she reached over and touched Jill’s hand and said, “Night dear! I do like having you about. Maybe next week as well?”

Jill muttered she felt the same, but then asked herself uncomfortably where was this leading, though she did not have the courage to pose the same question to Jane, who anyway fell asleep almost immediately. Then Jill lay half-awake for more than an hour, trying to go to sleep while Jane softly snored and in the distance an owl hooted. As she lay there, something in her brain kept imagining a thoroughly annoying fantasy. Jane was being caned first thing on Monday morning by her irate headmistress as an alternative to being dismissed for caning Mary. It was a thoroughly silly fantasy, but it kept drifting back.

‘Remove you skirt, pull up your petticoat and bend over!’ She imagined Miss Carter, or whatever the headmistress was called, saying with real pleasure. And then a good view of that lovely bottom with its long narrow buttocks through those stylish knickers, which Jane had probably got in Paris with the wine. Probably Jane would have to stand up again and remove her very stylish suspender belt to stop it getting in the way, and then bend over again. After which there would be a very sound caning with a lot of tears and distress.

It would have a certain something to it, Jill decided, not that she would wish it to happen in reality, and it would be extremely unfair. But where was this relationship going? It was not that different, she realized, to the slow build-up to the consummation of her relationship with Mike. She had used to fantasise about being caned by Mike all through their courtship. After which she fell asleep.

****

“And how did it go?” Jill’s mother said on the Sunday evening. “I see you must have left it to the very last bus, even though it was after Jack’s bedtime, so it cannot have been that bad.”

“No, it was excellent. So much so, I had to hitch a lift, which I know you won’t like, but I was enjoying myself so much I missed the only Sunday evening bus. But it started badly. Jane had to cane a couple of very naughty girls on Friday and it really upset her, but I managed to cheer her up. After that, it was loads of walks and endless chatter, you know. It is very pretty there and there is a lot more to see. I will probably go again,” Jill answered awkwardly. “How was my imp of a son?”

“Oh, good as gold. He never minds being with us,” mother replied. “But he will be glad to see you. I should put your head in, he is quite probably still awake.”

“Of course I will!” Jane said, realizing with real guilt that she had barely thought about her son or her husband for two whole days.

Then she noticed the blue airmail letter on the hall table, which could only be from her husband, and she felt even more guilty. Was she on the verge of adultery, even if it was with another woman? Well, next weekend should show. It had not quite happened this weekend, though it easily could have done.

“If you are seeing Miss Coles next weekend, it would be useful to have more notice this time,” her mother said suddenly. “Not that I mind; it seems to do you a lot of good.”

“Oh probably,” Jill replied, remembering the brief but sensuous kiss as they had parted. “In fact, almost certainly. Jane has asked me.”

“Well, let me know for sure by Wednesday, if you can please,” mother was saying.

It all sounded so well-mannered and mild, and really quite innocent.

The End

© Jane Fairweather 2022

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