And Mother Makes Four

The Head Girl and her two best friends get into trouble, with a little help from Mother

 by Harry James 

The telephone in the hall rang. Dorothy Wilston strode out from the front drawing room and picked up the handset. It was Monday and just after six o’clock in the evening on a cold 4th November in 1996.

“Pickerton 4751,” intoned Dorothy.

Of course, ‘Pickerton’ had been replaced by the all number system many years past, but Dorothy liked the old ways. And life in the Lake District still retained many of the old world graces, even if another side of Dorothy had always embraced all that was new, interesting and exciting.

“Hello mummy,” said the voice at the other end of the line.

Dorothy’s daughter, Marjorie, was away at school about 150 miles south at Finchester Ladies  High School, Dorothy’s Alma Mata, where she was Head Girl.

“Hello Darling, how nice to hear your voice, and unusually unexpected. How are things? Is there any particular reason you are calling?” (Marjorie normally called her mother every Tuesday evening).

“Yes, well actually there is, mummy. Trudy, Gabby and I have just left a rather unpleasant meeting with the Headmistress, Mrs Gilroy.  As you probably know, Gabby was the last of us to turn 18; her birthday was Friday last week. I’d saved that bottle of brandy you gave me for us to toast our 18th birthdays and we got together in my study and drank to our combined health on Saturday night. Unfortunately we were a little too loud and were caught by the duty mistress with the bottle still open, hence the interview with Mrs Gilroy.”

Dorothy digested this news and gulped.

It was true that Dorothy had given the brandy to Marjorie for this very purpose; she well remembered it. She told Marjorie that she had celebrated her own 18th at school with a couple of friends in 1971, the year after the age of majority changed from 21 to 18. She told Marjorie that she had not been caught and Marjorie wasn’t likely to be either, she encouraged her to continue the tradition. She had said that if in the event Marjorie was caught she would have to take the consequences, which wouldn’t be so bad and she would live, and anyway the risk would be part of the excitement.

“So darling, what did she say? I expect she made you squirm and feel irresponsible. Was that about it?”

“Well, she certainly made us squirm, but that wasn’t about it. She told us that the example we had set, particularly with me being Head Girl, Trudy being Deputy, and Gabby being a prefect, merited at least forfeiture of our positions and possibly suspension. However, she offered us the option of voluntarily accepting the cane, 4 strokes each for Trudy and Gabby and 6 strokes for me because I actually supplied the brandy and it was consumed in my study. The punishment will be announced to the whole school on Friday morning, as with all serious offences, but the school will be clearly told with the announcement that we have accepted our punishment, we will remain in our positions and that the matter was now closed; if she heard of any disrespect being directed toward us she will deal with the culprits. All three of us have accepted our fate Mother.”

“Oh, darling, I’m so sorry. But never mind, it won’t be so bad. You’ll laugh, looking back on it!”

Of course, Dorothy knew of the policy the school had implemented in 1970 and knew the policy was still in place; she had received a letter to that effect when Marjorie entered the 6th Form. In brief, the school were worried that 18year old 6th formers would know they were now legally adults and would think they could do as they liked without consequences. The school did not want to see a rise in suspensions and expulsions, but needed to maintain discipline. The Headmistress and the Governors had decided on the policy of offering the cane to 18 year olds to be voluntarily accepted as adults in order to avoid suspension or expulsion. Of course, at the time of implementation of the policy corporal punishment could still be imposed below the age of 18. After the abolition of corporal punishment in 1986 the school had continued with this policy for 18 year olds. They had to end CP for under 18s due to the fact that they accepted a small number of scholarship pupils on state funding.

“I certainly don’t feel like laughing now,” replied Marjorie. “I know that we all knew what we were doing and also knew we were taking a risk, but you, mummy dearest, rather led us on and you are going to get away with it with no consequences at all. As I think you know, we can nominate somebody to be our chaperone to witness the punishment. I want to nominate you, mummy. It’s only fair that you see what you have helped get me into, plus you will have the inconvenience of coming here. Don’t even think of refusing. You need to be here at 5 o’clock on Friday, so I’ll see you then.”

“Oh! Well, yes of course I will do that for you darling if you’re sure, but I won’t have to witness Trudy and Gabby’s punishment will I? I don’t think I could look them in the face.”

“I don’t think it’s their faces they will be worried about. Personally, I think you should witness their punishments, but actually, no, they have decided to be each others’ chaperone.”

“All right darling, I promise I shall be there.  Chin up.”

“Hmmmm, I’ll see you Friday. I shan’t say I’m looking forward to it. I shan’t be calling tomorrow. Night night, mummy.”

Dorothy put the telephone down, thinking hard and fast. She was 43 years old now. She had left school in 1971, 25 years ago. She had never received corporal punishment at school, but she was confident that she would have been capable of withstanding it. She was pretty tough; she had been Captain of the senior lacrosse team and she had gone out of her way to stay fit all her adult life. Dorothy was now an elegant, smart, attractive, medium build, strong woman. She lived alone with a live-in housekeeper most of the year. Her husband, Ron Wilston, was an oil company executive who spent most of the year in Nigeria. It was an arrangement which Dorothy rather liked. It led to Ron’s homecomings being very intense and passionate.

Dorothy came to a decision. She knew that her old Headmistress had retired to a cottage in a village close to the school. Within 15 minutes on the internet, she had traced Miss Floyd. Hoping that the information was up to date she picked up the telephone and dialled the number, it did not ring for long.

“Hello, this is Margaret Floyd. Who is calling?”

The voice sounded firm, clear and slightly frighteningly familiar. Miss Floyd was now 67 years old, having retired at age 60 in 1989. She, rather like Dorothy herself, had always been very sporting and was still an active tennis player at her local club. She had the same slender, rather sinewy build that Dorothy remembered and was now visualising. Miss Floyd could be described as formidable; she carried with her a rather stern outward appearance, she had always required ‘her girls’ to be respectful, but clear and direct, in their dealings with her. She would always maintain very direct eye contact, such that even on a telephone call it was easily possible to have her gaze in your mind. It is fair to say that Margaret Floyd’s outward demeanour masked a deep inner warmth and commitment to what she saw as her duty of care to her charges. This part of her character was occasionally revealed to the more senior girls who found themselves discussing personal concerns with her.

Dorothy quickly introduced herself.

“Ah, yes, Dorothy Swire, you were Deputy Head Girl, as I recall. To what do I owe this call?”

“Well, Miss Floyd, I am Mrs Dorothy Wilston now and my daughter, Marjorie, is Head Girl at Finchester.”

Dorothy quickly carried on and told Miss Floyd the whole story, including her own role and history of why she had given Marjorie the brandy. She then stopped speaking and waited.

“Hmmm. Our past actions do tend to come back and haunt us, don’t they? And you seem to have got yourself into a particularly tricky position. I must say I am disappointed to hear of your behaviour, but I don’t really see how I can be of any assistance to you.”

“Well Miss, as you can imagine I am feeling wretched and guilty, also fearful of the damage I may have done to my relationship with my dear daughter. I need her to see me making amends by taking responsibility. At the time of my own undiscovered offence at the School I had turned 18. If I had been caught as Marjorie has, I dare say I would have been offered the same choice, that is to accept the cane from you. I am still of the same status, that is turned 18, legally adult and able to voluntarily accept correction not mandated by my legal status. The only difference is that I am no longer a pupil.”

There was silence for a few moments, though it seemed longer. Dorothy waited.

“If I am following your train of logic correctly, you are suggesting that now, all these years later, you should accept correction in the form of cane strokes for your offence, and that you should accept it from me. Am I correct?”

“Yes, Miss Floyd, you are quite correct.”

“Are you suggesting that you should come to me for this?”

“Not quite, Miss Floyd.”

Dorothy explained that Marjorie had asked her to be chaperone for her daughter’s punishment on Friday and she thought that the best outcome would be for her own punishment to take place at the same time, with Marjorie as witness.

“I believe you know the current Headmistress, Mrs Gilroy, Miss? If you were to speak to her, do you think she would accept this arrangement?”

“I think she might. Her attitude to actions and consequences are similar to mine. Look, Mrs Wilston, did you say? I think I will continue to address you as ‘Swire’ in the circumstances. I may be willing to go along with this for the same reason, but you must speak to Harriet Gilroy first and own up to your shortcomings. This cannot be sprung on her. Ask her to call me. She or I will then get back to you. You and Mrs Gilroy obviously have each others’ telephone numbers, and you now have mine, I do not have yours, what is it?”

They then bade each other goodbye in a rather formal way.

The next morning, Tuesday, Dorothy picked up the telephone and called the school, asking to speak to Mrs Gilroy, who was not immediately available.

“Hello Mrs Wilston, this is Ann Conroy. I am Mrs Gilroy’s personal secretary. May I get Mrs Gilroy to call back? And could you tell me briefly why you are calling? I would expect Mrs Gilroy to call you back within the next hour.”

Dorothy just said it was in connection with her daughter’s misdemeanour at the weekend and hung up to await the return call, which came in not much more than 20 minutes.

“Hello Mrs Wilston, I gather you want to speak to me about Marjorie’s high jinks at the weekend. I hope you accept that unfortunately it is essential for her to be punished severely for this offence. She is, after all, Head Girl and is meant to set an example, but I have no wish to suspend or expel her or take any action that could affect her future.”

“Yes, Mrs Gilroy, I accept and agree to all of that, but please allow me to explain my own role in  this, and my dilemma.”

When Dorothy had finished explaining, Mrs Gilroy spoke again.

“I shan’t hesitate to say that you have certainly been irresponsible, but Marjorie must take responsibility for her own decisions and actions. Your role in this does not change that.”

“Let me be clear, Mrs Gilroy. Of course Marjorie must accept the consequences, and she does. However, just as my explanation does not let her off the hook it also puts me on the hook, so to speak, but without consequences, and that is a bad example for my daughter to have.”

“I cannot help but to agree with what you say, Mrs Wilston, but I don’t see what solution I can offer you. You are no longer a pupil here.”

“I have spoken with my old Headmistress, Miss Floyd, who I think you know.”

“Yes Mrs Wilston, Margaret Floyd and I are in fact friends. She became my mentor in my first teaching position after Cambridge.”

“I wonder if I could ask you to call Miss Floyd and speak with her about this matter. She and I have discussed a possible solution, but it would require you and Miss Floyd to be in complete agreement.”

“Very well, Mrs Wilston, I shall do as you ask. I will always listen to what Miss Floyd has to say on any matter, but I carry the Head’s responsibilities now and it rests with me to make any decisions. I will call you when I have something to say. Will you be at home all day today?”

“Yes, Mrs Gilroy, I have no plans to be out today at all.”

“I expect that I will speak to you later then.”

Harriet Gilroy hung up. She was now very intrigued indeed. She thought back over her conversation with Dorothy Wilston. Mrs Wilston was undoubtedly suggesting that she needed to accept some consequence for her actions, but what? Surely not! No, that would be ridiculous, wouldn’t it?

As it happened she did not have a heavy schedule that day. She picked up the telephone again straight away and dialled Margaret Floyd’s number.

“Hello this is Margaret Floyd, who is calling?”

Harriet was well used to Margaret’s manner of answering the ‘phone. She was pleased to get hold her straight away.

“Good morning Margaret, it’s Harriet here at Finchester. I think you might not be surprised by my call, though I am mightily intrigued by what you have to tell me.”

“Yes, Harriet, I was indeed expecting you to call, though perhaps not quite so quickly. Just to avoid any doubt, I am correct in assuming that the matter at hand is Dorothy Wilston, or Swire as I knew her, and her recent and past transgressions?”

“You are indeed correct, Margaret. Mrs Wilston has confessed all to me together with her anguish over the situation. She tells me that you have a solution in mind to resolve the problem”.

“Well, to be truthful, the solution is more hers than mine, but she called me out of the blue and we have discussed the situation and arrived at a solution. I have not committed to her to do as she wants, but have implied that I will if you are in agreement.”

“Alright, you’d better explain, Margaret.”

Margaret confirmed with Harriet that what Dorothy had told them was consistent; she was not playing some strange game between them. She then went on to say the proposition was for Dorothy to receive the cane from Margaret at the school, on the same occasion on Friday that Dorothy was acting as chaperone and witness for her daughter’s punishment.

Harriet Gilroy was naturally amazed, even given the thought that she had already had and dismissed, but discussing the situation thoroughly with her friend she quite quickly came to see the logic of the idea and the benefit which both Dorothy and Marjorie Wilston would gain. They remained on the telephone for about 30 minutes and developed a thorough plan that covered all the various factors as they saw them.

“Very well, Margaret, I will see you on Friday at 4.45. You know my secretary, Ann. She will collect you from reception.”

Harriet decided to let Dorothy Wilston sweat a little and waited until after lunch before calling her.

“Hello, Mrs Wilston, it is Harriet Gilroy here and I have spoken to Margaret Floyd as you suggested. I imagine you want to know what we have discussed and agreed.”

“Thank you for following this up so quickly, Mrs Gilroy. Yes, I certainly would like to know what you have decided.”

“Well, Miss Floyd and I are in agreement that we could certainly, morally, justify your punishment for your transgressions. You have let down both yourself and your daughter, but you know that, so I shall proceed to what Miss Floyd and I have agreed.

“As I say, we are agreed that you should be punished, but we are not in a position to mandate punishment; you have broken no law. It is essential that you acknowledge in writing your transgressions and your voluntary acceptance of the punishment that we award. We have a standard form for that which any pupil over the age of 18 has to sign if accepting the option of corporal punishment; to be clear, that means the cane. We also have a form your witness has to sign to say that the punishment has been given fairly and without duress. I believe you wish your daughter, Marjorie, to be your witness, which will be quite acceptable.

“Please come to the school on Friday, just before 5 o’clock. My secretary will collect you from reception. I will first deal with your daughter and her friends, and then matters will pass on to you. Your punishment for your transgression whilst in the 6th form here will be administered by Miss Floyd.

“Mrs Wilston, both Miss Floyd and I give you full credit for coming forward, but this does not absolve you. Your punishment will be severe. If you are not prepared to accept this, please let Mrs Floyd know in order to save her the journey, and do not come to the School on Friday. You will then have to make your own explanations to Marjorie with regard to your failure to be here and support her as her chaperone and witness. Are we clear?”

“Yes, Mrs Gilroy, completely clear. I shall be there on Friday and will accept without complaint whatever punishment you and Miss Floyd consider to be right and appropriate.”

“Very well, I shall see you on Friday, Mrs Wilston.”

By now it was mid afternoon on Tuesday, leaving only Wednesday and Thursday to go before it would be the day, and Dorothy would spend most of Friday travelling. She started to feel nervous, frightened and excited to varying degrees at any particular moment.  When Wednesday arrived, she found herself wishing that time would pass more quickly. She busied herself looking through her wardrobe and deciding what to wear on Friday, changing her mind many times.

Meanwhile at the school, the girls were feeling similar emotions, though Marjorie was probably the only one to be feeling any measurable level of excitement, which continued to come and go as the time passed. All three were somewhat distracted and had to fight hard to concentrate and avoid attracting unwelcome attention from their teachers. At that stage, only the three girls, the Headmistress and Miss Cartwright, the Geography Teacher who had been on night duty and had been the one to catch them, knew of their wrongdoing, and Miss Cartwright did not know the outcome.

It was the long standing practice at the school to announce both high individual achievements and any serious wrongdoings and punishments at Friday morning school assembly.

Wednesday and Thursday had seemed to drag, but then all too soon it was Friday morning. The school trooped into assembly. As usual, the three girls and a couple of other prefects stood by the door and maintained order as the pupils were ushered into the hall. Once the whole school was in, the senior 6th form girls sat at the back and the teaching staff entered ceremonially in their academic gowns to the sound of the entire school rising to stand.

The assembly lasted around 30 minutes, beginning with hymns and a prayer and then proceeding with matters at hand. Announcements of sporting successes and one or two losses from the previous weekend were announced to cheers and groans, finally transgressions and punishments were announced.

Three 4th formers were given school Saturday morning detentions for repeated uniform violations and a 5th former was gated for the next three weekends for rudeness to the Head Groundsman. Then finally Mrs Gilroy came to Marjorie, Trudy and Gabriella.

“I am afraid that today I have to inform you of a serious breach of school rules by three of our most senior 6th form girls. Dorothy Wilston (there was an audible gasp from the assembled school), Trudy Osmonde and Gabriella Stokes, please stand.”

The girls stood and felt all eyes on them.

“These 6th form girls decided that it would be acceptable to consume alcohol on the school premises, in fact in Miss Wilston’s study, to celebrate their 18th birthdays. This is totally unacceptable and the ladies themselves now realise they have set an appallingly bad example to you all. Accordingly, as 18 year old adult pupils of this school they have voluntarily decided to accept the cane as punishment. They will receive their punishment after school today. Ladies, you will report to my study at 5 o’clock wearing your gym uniform. Do not be late.

“Once the punishment is delivered that is the end of the matter. A mistake will have been made and the consequences accepted. The Ladies will continue in their current position and will have my full confidence.

“If any member of the school gives these ladies any cheek, backchat or other harassment over this matter, they will have me to answer to.”

The assembly ended and the girls filed out. Some avoided eye contact with the three culprits, others offered a smile. A few smirked. The teachers were generally supportive and gave encouraging comments as they passed. “Never mind, it’ll soon be over,” “nothing worse than I got in my time, you’ll survive,” and so forth.

Once the crowd had gone, Marjorie simply said to Trudy and Gabby: “Get changed and come to my study at ten minutes to five. We’ll go down to the Headmistress together. No cheating! Don’t try to wear two pairs of knickers; you’ll get caught and make matters worse.”

Sixth form girls hated the gym uniform. It was very unflattering and made them feel like thirteen year olds. The uniform consisted simply of a white short sleeved cotton top with a pair of dark blue gym knickers, long black socks and black gym shoes, the only underwear being a white sports bra.

At their interview with Mrs Gilroy when the punishment was awarded, they were told that the cane strokes would be delivered on the bottom over one layer of clothing. Gym uniform was an obvious practical solution to avoid fumbling with layers of clothing.

Mrs Gilroy had not in fact been unkind to them, just very firm in expressing her disappointment. She was almost the opposite of Margaret Floyd; she was bigger and heavier, though still very fit and strong, and carried an almost permanent smile. She was immediately likeable and approachable, but this outward demeanour hid a steel inner core.  Harriet Gilroy would take no nonsense and could very rapidly take charge of almost any situation. Mr Gilroy was actually Major Gilroy, still an active soldier. The Gilroys’ idea of a perfect holiday would be to hill walk in the Himalayas, sleeping in a tent.

That morning, whilst assembly was in progress, Dorothy Wilston finished her toilette and dressed in her final choice of outfit; a cream round neck shirt with a suit consisting of a long pencil skirt cut to emphasise the hips and a jacket with padded shoulders pulled tightly in at the waist with a narrow belt and a very short pronounced flair ending just on the top of the hip. She had thought hard about underwear. It was cold and she did not want to be bare legged, but she was vaguely aware of the normal ‘one layer of clothing’ rule and did not want to wear tights without knickers. She settled on stockings and a suspender belt that did not cover her bottom, just a rear fastening no wider than a belt at the waist. Over these, she pulled on a fairly thick pair of silk french knickers. She reasoned that she would either have to remove her skirt and retain the knickers, or could reach up and remove the knickers; either way her entire bottom area would be protected by one layer.

She put on her coat, went out and climbed into her Mercedes and set off. She hoped to have enough time to take an unhurried lunch on the way down to Finchester.

For Margaret Floyd, dressing was easy. She was still the same size as she was when she retired and would wear one of her old Headmistress suits, dark and functional. She did not even have to think about getting changed until well after lunch; the school was only 15 minutes drive away.

At almost exactly 4.45pm, Margaret arrived at the school reception. The receptionist recognized her.

“Hello, Miss Floyd, how lovely to see you. Are you well? Is Mrs Gilroy expecting you?”

“Yes, she is, but I think her intention is for Ann Conroy to come and get me. Would you call her, please.”

“Indeed, Miss Floyd, I’m sure Ann will be out immediately.”

Ann was called and came straight to reception. She escorted Margaret on the route she knew extremely well to her old study, now of course Harriet Gilroy’s study. She walked into the study and was warmly greeted by her successor.

“Well Margaret, what a strange fall of the coin. Are you still quite sure about all this?”

“Yes, Harriet, I’ve given it much thought and I think we will be doing some good for each of the culprits, particularly for young Miss Wilston who I gather is quite gifted. It will be good for her to learn the lesson of actions and consequences, and not to develop any possible grudge against her mother for getting her into trouble and then simply shrugging it off.”

“I agree, Margaret. That’s why I am going along with this, but Dorothy Wilston is going to get quite a shock when we spring our decision on her isn’t she?”

“Yes, but she deserves it and knows that. She is tough enough to take it and, once the immediate effects have worn off, will feel all the better for it.”

“OK, well, we’d better get on with it. We won’t need you until the girls have been dealt with. They and Mrs Wilston will be here imminently. I thought you could make yourself comfortable in my sitting room through the door there, as you well know. Ann can get you a cup of tea.”

At 4.55, Dorothy arrived and was shown through.

“Good evening, Mrs Wilston. I am sorry that we are meeting at this time in these circumstances. You are well aware that we have the matter concerning you to deal with, but that will come later. First I have to deal with the miscreant girls who will be here any minute. I am going to ask you to take a seat in my secretary’s office. She is staying a little late this evening to assist me. I will be dealing with Misses Osmonde and Stokes first. I shall send Marjorie out to wait with you. I am sure she will want to greet you, but other than that short greeting she will be under instructions to remain standing and silent. Until Marjorie has been punished, I shall be treating you solely as a parent and as Marjorie’s chosen chaperone and witness. Is there anything you wish to ask or say?”

“No, Mrs  Gilroy, that is perfectly clear.”

Ann was called and took Dorothy through to her office. She had been previously instructed not to offer tea.

“Is Miss Floyd here yet?” Dorothy enquired.

“Yes, Mrs Wilston, she has arrived.”

Dorothy wondered if Ann knew what was going to happen this evening, but chose not to ask.

Meanwhile, the girls had met in Marjorie’s study. They looked at each other and grimaced.  Their appearance was an uncomfortable sight; the reason for their appearance was an uncomfortable thought. The girls were of quite similar build and height. Trudy was the tallest at 5′ 8”, Gabriella was the shortest at 5′ 5” with Marjorie taking the middle height slot. Marjorie was so much like her mother that they could be mistaken as sisters when both were dressed for an outing with full make-up. Both were natural strawberry blondes with grey-blue eyes, both had the same hairstyle, shoulder length and flicked out at the ends, both were naturally elegant. Trudy had a model girl figure that made the others secretly envious. Not only was she the tallest, she was also the slimmest; not quite a boyish figure, but very willowy, she moved with an easy grace. Gabriella had the fullest figure with nice curves and a cute smile, coquettish when she chose. Both Trudy and Gabriella were dark haired; Trudy wore her hair in a bob, Gabriella had very full flowing locks down to the centre of her back.

Marjorie spoke. “OK, let’s go and get this over with. Keep calm, girls, and keep your dignity.”

Harriet Gilroy operated what might be called a semi-open door policy. She did not require visitors to her study from within the school to report to Ann. There was a red light outside the door, which meant either that she was engaged or was not there. If there was no light, the procedure for staff and girls alike was to knock and wait.

At precisely 5 o’clock, Marjorie took a breath and knocked on the door.

“Come!” Called Mrs Gilroy.

Marjorie held open the door for the others and then entered last. They naturally lined up in front of the Head’s desk and stood with their hands behind their backs without needing to be asked.

Mrs Gilroy’s study contained a large leather swivel chair behind the desk, and four low backed, well padded armless chairs for visitors. At this moment, three of the chairs were around the coffee table and one was in front of her desk, facing outward with the back up against the front of the desk. The back of the chair was no more than an inch higher than the desk top. On the desk was a crook handled cane, and at one end of the desk there were three sets of documents and a pen.

“Well ladies, we all know why you are here. I do not propose to delay matters. The documents here are for you sign to say that you accept the punishment as merited and will undergo the punishment as stated on the document entirely voluntarily of your own free will. The second document in each set is for your witness to sign and states that they have witnessed the punishment being delivered in full, fairly and without duress.

“Once those documents are both signed, that is the end of the matter entirely. It will not be mentioned in this school again.

“Is that clear?

“Very well, Miss Osmonde and Miss Stokes, I believe that you intend to be each others’ witnesses. If that is correct, please now sign the document with your name on it agreeing to your punishment and return to your places in front of the desk.”

The two girls obeyed the instruction, looking fearfully at each other as they did so.

“Miss Wilston, you will now withdraw to my secretary’s office and await my call. You will find your mother already in the office. You will, of course, wish to greet her and have permission so to do, but aside from that brief greeting you should remain standing and silent and facing the wall. Do you understand?”

“Yes Miss.”

It was customary to address the Headmistress as ‘Mrs Gilroy’ or ‘Miss’; she did not like ‘ma’am’.

“Then go.”

Marjorie found her mother sitting in the office. Ann was still sitting at her desk and making herself busy, only glancing up when Marjorie entered.

“The Headmistress’s instructions are for you to greet your mother and then stand and remain silent, Miss Wilston.” It was said as much for Dorothy’s benefit as to remind Marjorie of what was expected. Mother and daughter embraced.

“Hello darling,” said Dorothy.

“Hello mummy. I’m glad you are here, now that it has come to it. I’m sorry if I was mean to you on the telephone.”

“Please don’t worry about it. I must sit down now, I think.”

Marjorie remained standing as instructed and turned to face the wall.

In the study Mrs Gilroy addressed Trudy and Gabby. “Miss Osmonde, as the more senior girl in your position as Deputy Head Girl I shall punish you second, please step to the side of the desk from where you can witness proceedings. Miss Stokes, please step to the chair and kneel on it with your knees slightly apart to brace yourself.”

Gabby did as instructed, remaining kneeling in an upright position. Mrs Gilroy stepped behind her and pulled her gym vest out from the back of her knickers. She then pulled the waist of the knickers out enough to look down and check that it was a single layer.

“Thank you for not cheating. Now lean across the desk and grasp the far side. If you try to rise or otherwise to avoid a cane stroke, you will receive extra. I hope I am clear.”

Mrs Gilroy picked up the cane and took position on the opposite side to where Trudy was standing. She lined up the cane on the centre of Gabby’s bottom without touching her, drew it back to shoulder height, and bought it lashing down.

Gabby felt the impact. A moment later, she felt the intense sting. She gasped and slightly arched her back. As soon as she relaxed, the next stroke landed, just below the first. Another gasp. Gabby was very aware of Trudy standing there, she did not want to let the side down, or to frighten Trudy by over-reacting. The third stroke landed above the first, near the top of her bottom cheeks. The final stroke was placed below the second stroke, only a fraction above her thighs, and elicited a loud gasp. The entire procedure took well under a minute.

“You may rise, Miss Stokes, and take Miss Osmonde’s place. Miss Osmonde, please sign the witness document and then take your place on the chair.”

Mrs Gilroy performed exactly the same procedure on Trudy, although Trudy determinedly concentrated and remained completely silent throughout with just a visible tightening of the body immediately after each of the first three strokes, and a visible jerk as the fourth and final stroke landed.

“You may rise, Miss Osmonde. Miss Stokes, please sign the witness document. Thank you for receiving this punishment with dignity, ladies, as I would expect of young ladies of this school. You may now return to your duties.”

Trudy and Gabby left and went to their studies. They soon had cold towels on their bottoms.

Harriet pressed her intercom button. “Ann, please bring in Mrs and Miss Wilston. I am ready for them now.”

Dorothy and Marjorie, of course, heard this and Dorothy stood. She gently squeezed Marjorie’s arm and then placed her hand in the middle of Marjorie’s back and guided her forward, following Ann towards the study door.  Ann held open the door and stood aside.

“Come in ladies, I am ready for you.”

The same sight faced Dorothy and Marjorie as had confronted Trudy and Gabby. Both of them took in the cane prominently on view, though there were in fact two minor differences. Firstly, there was only one set of documents on the desk; secondly, one of the remaining chairs had been bought forward and was place approximately where the previous two witnesses had stood.

“Please sit down, Mrs Wilston,” said Harriet, gesturing towards the chair.

“Miss Wilston, you know why we are here. Let’s not delay any further. Please sign the document which has your name written on it; you may of course read it. You are agreeing to the voluntary nature of your punishment and that it is justified by your actions.”

Marjorie glanced at the document and signed.

Mrs Gilroy then took Marjorie through the same procedure as she had the other girls, including checking that only one pair of knickers was being worn, which Dorothy mentally noted, feeling pleased with her own clothing choices.

Once Marjorie was in position she turned her head towards her mother and found that she could meet her eyes. She held her mother’s gaze and waited. The first stroke landed and her eyes widened; she gritted her teeth, tensed and relaxed, still holding her mother’s eyes. Five more strokes landed and still she held the look. She was close to tears after the sixth, but managed not to cry and to keep her eyes open.

Dorothy could not at that moment, as the punishment ended, accurately describe how she felt. Proud of her daughter, yes; frightened for herself, definitely yes; ashamed of causing her daughter to suffer the punishment, yes; strangely excited, again, yes. It was a cocktail of emotions.

Marjorie was asked to stand and Dorothy was requested to sign the witness document, which she duly did.

This time, instead of dismissing Marjorie, Mrs Gilroy instructed her to go and stand facing the wall.

She then addressed herself to Dorothy. “And now, Mrs Wilston, we have your related matter to deal with, don’t we?”

Dorothy returned Mrs Gilroy’s look. She mustered a steady voice and simply stated: “Yes, we do.”

“Very well.” Mrs Gilroy pressed her intercom again. “Ann, would you please bring in here the first set of Mrs Wilston’s documents.”

Dorothy registered the phrase ‘the first set’, but it went over her head. Marjorie remained with her back to them, wondering what on earth was happening.

The papers were bought in and placed on the desk.

“I shall now fetch Miss Floyd,” said Mrs Gilroy.

Harriet opened the door to her sitting room and called Margaret in. “We are ready for you now, Miss Floyd, and Mrs Wilston has signed her agreement to the proceedings. I believe I should now hand over to you. Would you prefer me to withdraw at this point, Mrs Wilston?”

Dorothy replied: “No, Mrs Gilroy, thank you, but I would prefer you to stay.”

Margaret Floyd spoke. “For the remainder of our time here together this evening, I shall address you as Swire, or Miss Swire; that was what you were at the time of your admitted offence at this school under my Headship. You have voluntarily agreed to accept the punishment that Mrs Gilroy and I think appropriate for your shortcomings, which are serious.”

Marjorie gasped and just said: “What?” without turning round.

“Just remain there and remain silent for a little longer, Miss Wilston. All will become clear,” said Mrs Gilroy.

Miss Floyd continued: “Your offence whilst here in the sixth form was serious and you didn’t have the excuse of being led on, as your poor daughter here was by you. You receive some credit for now, after all these years, admitting your offence.

“Perhaps because you received no correction at the time, you appear until now to have learned nothing from your misbehaviour and have led your daughter into trouble, which is an even more serious matter. In point of fact, it is a related, but separate, second offence.

“Again, it is to your credit that you have come forward at your own initiative. You have voluntarily offered and agreed to accept punishment, partially in order to set a better example to your daughter. However these facts in no way excuse your behaviour and your punishment needs to be severe and exemplary to serve its purpose. We will not administer a token punishment.

“Mrs Gilroy and I are agreed that you should be punished twice for the two offences. The first offence, taken on its own, is similar to your daughter’s and merits the same punishment; six strokes of the cane on your bottom over one layer of clothing, which I will now administer.

“The second punishment will be more severe because the offence of providing your daughter with alcohol to bring into the school is a more serious offence. It directly led to the consequences which your daughter and two of her friends have suffered this evening.  I am quite convinced that without your actions your daughter’s misdemeanour would not have occurred.

“For this second offence we also award a punishment of six strokes of the cane to be administered on your uncovered bottom. This second punishment will be administered by Mrs Gilroy on the day you collect Marjorie at the end of this term.

“If you agree voluntarily to both of these punishments, please sign the document bearing your name now on Mrs Gilroy’s desk. There will be another set of documents for the second punishment, but on our part we will not agree to either unless you agree to both.  Do you require a moment to think? Do you wish to change your mind about this?”

Dorothy looked across to where her daughter was standing and knew she was cornered, and anyway she knew it was both right and fair. She stepped forward and signed, saying: “I shall not change my mind. My punishments are deserved and I shall accept them without complaint.”

Margaret Floyd was now very much in charge and spoke again. “Miss Wilston, prior to this evening your mother requested that you be her chaperone and witness for her punishment. Do you agree to her request?”

“Please darling,” said Dorothy.

“May I turn around now?” said Marjorie.

“You may, do you agree to your mother’s request?”

Marjorie looked at her mother with some amazement and new respect. “Yes, I agree.”

“Very well then, do you wish to stay as you are, or would you prefer to change your clothes?”

“May I put on my own clothes, or must I wear school uniform?”

“If Mrs Gilroy agrees, I think it is appropriate in the circumstances if you wear your own clothes. Mrs Gilroy?”

Harriet nodded.

“I need 10 minutes,” said Marjorie, “may I go now?”

Without saying a word Margaret Gilroy opened the door for her, but then said: “Will you wish to sit for this, or do you prefer to stand?”

Marjorie had actually forgotten her own pain and felt round to her bottom. She winced. “I think in the circumstances I will stand, Miss.”

Margaret smiled and stood aside.

“I suggest, Mrs Wilston, that you take a comfort break whilst I return the witness chair to its usual position. Will you help me lift it, Margaret?”

Dorothy was pleased for the short break and the opportunity to gather herself for what was to come. Events had moved rather fast!  She made use of the Ladies room and returned. She waited outside the Head’s study for a couple of minutes for Marjorie to return, wearing a simple little black dress.

Marjorie spoke. “Are you quite sure about this, mum? It hurts! And you’ve signed up for two doses!”

“Darling, I’ve never been more sure of anything. I assure you I will not enjoy it, but I owe it to you and I deserve it anyway. Will you be my chaperone for the end of term dose too?”

“OK, mummy, and yes, of course I will.”

They stepped back into the study together.

“Right let’s begin. Miss Wilston, please stand to the right of the desk from where you can observe. Miss Swire, as you have been told, you are entitled to one layer of clothing on the target area, what are you wearing?”

Dorothy replied briskly. “I have my skirt, under it a pair of knickers over stockings and a backless suspender belt which does not cover the, er, what was it you said, the target area, Miss.”

“Very well, that seems to leave you with the choice of removing your skirt or your knickers. Which would you prefer?”

“I think I had better remove my skirt; it is tight to bend in anyway, Miss.”

“Then remove it now and place it on a chair.”

Dorothy removed her shoes and then her skirt, folding it carefully and placing it on a chair.

“Please now kneel on the chair and remain upright.”

“Yes, Miss.”

Dorothy obeyed. Each move was new to her; she had no idea what next to expect.

Miss Floyd observed her target, which she noted was in excellent physical shape.

“Those knickers are quite thick, I need to check it is a single layer, or would you prefer Miss Wilston to check?”

“Please go ahead and check yourself, Miss.”

Miss Floyd stepped forward and stretched out the waist of the french knickers at the rear, she looked down and declared herself satisfied.

“Please now bend forward, lay on the desk top and grip the far side. Do not rise before you are told or extra strokes will be given. Do you understand?”

Dorothy bent forward saying, “I do, Miss.”

It was many years since Margaret Floyd had delivered a caning. She was very confident that it was a skill which would not have left her, but nevertheless she had practised at home with a garden cane and a cushion, and had been pleased with her ability to be accurate.

She picked up the cane from the desk and swished it. She noticed that Dorothy flinched. She decided to give her a bit of warning by tapping her bottom with the cane on the target spot for the first stroke. She tapped three times and then without delay or further warning drew back the cane and sent it cracking down onto Dorothy’s bottom. Dorothy breathed in sharply, and out through gritted teeth. She had imagined the sting; it was worse than her imagination, but she was determined not to make Marjorie ashamed of her. She gripped the desk hard.

Margaret delivered four more hard strokes in about a thirty second interval and then paused.

She decided to make the last stroke traditionally hard, something that Harriet had not done with the girls, but where? Across the other strokes or low down on the crease? She decided on the latter and did it quickly. One tap, then up and it came down with a very sharp crack causing Dorothy to yelp out loud and jump up clutching her rear.

“I’m very sorry, Swire, but that stroke does not now count. Please return to your position.”

Marjorie was horrified. “Please, Miss,” she started.

“Be quiet, Miss Wilston. You are here as witness only. Swire can speak for herself if she wants to. Do you have anything to say, Miss Swire?”

“No Miss, nothing, I was told not to stand before receiving permission. Please complete my punishment.”

“Very well.”

Margaret lined up the cane diagonally across the centre of Dorothy’s bottom and brought the cane slashing down, resulting in another yelp, but this time Dorothy did not rise.

Putting the cane back down on the desk, Margaret said: “Your punishment today is now complete. You may rise, Mrs Wilston.”  Dorothy noted that her current married status had been returned to her by her old Headmistress.

“Thank you for correcting my behaviour, Miss. I will try in future to live up to expectations and set a good example for my daughter.”

“I am pleased to have been able to be of assistance, Mrs Wilston, but don’t forget that you must return here at the end of term to report to Mrs Gilroy here.”

Harriet then asked Marjorie to sign the witness document.

“Do you agree that I should sign the document, mummy? was the punishment fair?” She said doubtfully.

“It was all that I deserved for my past misdemeanours. It was totally fair and I shouldn’t have stood. Please sign the document, darling.”

Dorothy turned to the two Headmistresses. “Thank you, Mrs Gilroy. Thank you again, Miss Floyd.”

Marjorie stepped forward and signed and then said: “Please, Mrs Gilroy, may we repair to my study together for a while to recuperate before mummy returns home?”

“Yes, that will be in order. I will see you again at the end of term, Mrs Wilston, but before you go now…”

“Yes, Mrs Gilroy?”

“You may wish to put your skirt back on, Mrs Wilston!”

Dorothy blushed and turned to retrieve her skirt. With a little difficulty, she stepped into it and pulled it back up to her waist and fastened it. She then turned and left in silence with Marjorie.

As Head Girl, Marjorie’s study was the same as a junior mistress at the school. It consisted of a modest main room, with a bed, chest of drawers, wardrobe, a desk with drawers and low comfortable chairs. A door led to a small bathroom, which in fact was a shower room with a shower cubicle, a sink, and a toilet. The bathroom side of the door had a full length mirror, as did the inside door of the wardrobe.

They reached the study door, which Marjorie opened. She stepped straight in, reaching behind to unzip her dress as she did so. Dorothy followed. It was still only 5.45pm.

Marjorie paused by her bed and let her dress fall to the floor. She stooped, picked it up, placed it on the bed and then proceeded towards the bathroom door. As Marjorie moved forward she reached behind, placed her thumbs into the waist of the full-backed panties she had changed into and started to ease them down, pulling them away from her abused bottom cheeks. It took only a couple of steps to reach the door, by which time the panties were halfway down. Marjorie then disappeared behind the bathroom door, which remained slightly open.

Dorothy had watched Marjorie in a sort of daze, very conscious of her own throbbing posterior. She saw three of the already angry looking stripes on her daughter’s bottom. It struck her that she had never in her life previously actually seen cane marks on anybody, and she herself had never before experienced it; she imagined that the same was true for Marjorie.

Behind the bathroom door Marjorie had removed her panties completely. She was standing with her back to the mirror and looking over her shoulder.

“Wow!” She exclaimed. She called out: “If you want to examine your own damage, mummy, there is a mirror on the back of the wardrobe door. My backside is impressive!”

Marjorie then returned to the main room, still wearing just a bra. Dorothy was in the process of removing her skirt again.

Dorothy was proud that she and her daughter enjoyed a relationship which put them completely at ease with each other; she had successfully trod the line between being a mother and a friend, leaning sometimes one way and sometimes the other, depending on the circumstances of the moment. They were able to discuss almost anything, including intimate matters, in a matter of fact manner and often with a little humour, but they were never lascivious in their conversations. Mutual nakedness felt quite natural. Dorothy decided that at this precise moment they were friends foremost, comrades even.

Having stepped out of her skirt, Dorothy carefully removed her knickers, opened the wardrobe door and turned her back to it, simultaneously revealing her assaulted rear to both Marjorie and herself.

Marjorie gasped aloud, “Yours are worse than mine, mummy. Those last two look really bad!”

Dorothy’s bottom was by now red all over, with the actual cane marks literally standing out, each one being two raised red lines with an almost white line in between, repeated not six but seven times. Though young looking, Dorothy was of course over twenty years older than Marjorie, her skin was just a bit less elastic and was showing the damage a little more quickly and to a greater extent.

Dorothy reached back and touched herself, first along one of the lines, which was very sore and made her draw in breath, and then very gently with a finger tip across the lines, which felt a bit like drawing her finger across corrugated cardboard.

Dorothy turned round and embraced her daughter, primarily a mother again for a moment.

“Do you have any cold cream, darling?” asked Dorothy.

“Yes, I do actually, mummy. I don’t use it very much, just to remove my make up at weekends.”

“Well, I suggest we use some now on our wounds. Shall we do each other?”

“Yes, please,” said Marjorie, fetching the cream and telling her mother to lay on the bed.

After gently rubbing the cream into her mother’s bottom, and marvelling once again at what the cane had done, they changed places. Whilst rubbing the cream into Marjorie’s bottom, Dorothy reminded herself that her punishment had been for her original transgression as a sixth former herself; her punishment for her part in causing this damage to her daughter’s bottom was still to come and would be worse. Dorothy mentally steeled herself and told herself that she fully deserved the future punishment. The evidence of that was literally in front of her.

“If you can get into Finchester tomorrow, go into the pharmacist and buy some arnica cream, darling. It will greatly reduce the bruising which otherwise I think will be quite bad. I will be doing the same.”

They got dressed again in silence.

“I hope you will be comfortable enough to drive home, mummy, but I’m going to have to see you out now. I need to wash and do some work. Supper, as you know, is at 8pm for the Upper Sixth and I am not going to hide away. Besides, I have already missed tea!”

“I am pleased you are taking that approach, darling. I am sure you are right. I expect I will have to lower the car seat and sit on one of the cushions we carry in the back of the car. It will be alright if I don’t wriggle too much. Actually, the throbbing I’m now getting is rather nice!”

Marjorie escorted her mother to the school main door. Even as Head Girl, she was still a pupil and was only allowed to use the main door when saying farewell to an authorised visitor, usually a pupil’s mother or father.

They stood on the steps, embraced again and kissed each other on the cheek.

“Goodbye, mummy, until the end of term then. Please drive safely. I love you, and I’m rather proud of you.”

“I’m very proud of you too, darling. Will you call me as usual on Tuesday? I dare say Mrs Gilroy will be letting me know in due course about arrangements at the end of term.”

“Yes, mummy, I will call you. And, yes, I’m sure you are right that you will hear from Mrs Gilroy.”

The End

© Harry James 2017


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