A birthday celebration goes awry, with serious consequences.
10th May 1987, and Mary, the Dowager Lady Millington of Birch Grove JP, was preparing to go in for breakfast when, at 8.00 am, the phone rang in her apartment at Birchgrove Hall.
The call was from Edwina Smithfield, the new Headmistress of St Hilda’s, who apologised for phoning the Chairman of her Board of Governors so early on a Sunday morning; however, she urgently needed advice and would Lady Millington please join her for lunch together with Miss Dingle, the former Headmistress? It was a disciplinary matter of some sensitivity and could have an impact on the school’s reputation. Mary agreed to drive over immediately after church morning service and, when she joined the rest of her son’s guests for breakfast, announced the change of plans.
Later, whilst pre-lunch drinks were being hosted at Birchgrove Hall, a worried Mrs Smithfield was explaining her predicament to Mary and to Agatha Dingle. Against her predecessor’s advice, Edwina had decided to liven up the school’s performance of Mikado, which was to take place on the following Friday, by having the male parts played by boys from a nearby Grammar school.
Unfortunately, Sir Peter’s birthday was not the only celebration the previous day; it was also the 18th birthday of Annette Denning, the girl who was to play ‘Yum-Yum’.
Following the rehearsal of Mikado at St Hilda’s the previous evening, ‘Netty’ had been given permission, together with her friend Nicole ‘Nikki’ Wellesley, to go out to dinner to celebrate with two boys who were also cast members, providing they were back by 22.30. Mrs Smithfield had made this unusual concession both because she had absolute confidence in the two young ladies, and because she had received a call from Netty’s father two day’s previously asking if such a request could be favourably considered.
Unfortunately, it was after midnight, with both girls in a slightly drunken state and smelling of cannabis, when the car in which they were travelling, collided with the school gate at speed. The police had been called and the boy who had been driving had been breathalysed; just over the limit at the time, he was fractionally under by the time the test was repeated at the station, but was to be charged with driving without due care and attention. His friend was more drunk and was also arrested, for obstruction, when he protested his friend’s arrest. The two girls, badly shaken but not seriously hurt, had been put to bed in the sick bay, where Matron had volunteered to monitor them through the night, assisted by the duty prefect.
Edwina had phoned the Headmaster of the Grammar school to let him know what had happened; she was advised that, as the cane had been abolished by his governors the previous year, he intended suspending the two boys for four weeks for bringing the school into disrepute. Needless to say, they would not be taking part in the Mikado.
Unfortunately, Jake, the driver and Netty’s boyfriend, was due to play ‘Nanki-Poo’, the male lead. Although there was an understudy for this role, because Nikki was Netty’s understudy as ‘Yum-Yum’, It looked like the show might have to be cancelled.
Neither Mary nor Agatha thought that the girls, both prefects, neither of whom had ever been in serious trouble before, and both of whom had excellent prospects of a place at a good university, should be suspended from school in the month before their A levels, but exemplary alternative punishment was required.
It was obvious that neither could remain as prefects and it would be difficult for them to be allowed to continue to perform in Mikado if the boys were not. That said, if they did not, who would play Yum-Yum?
Agatha then said she had an idea which just might work. As far as the exemplary punishment was concerned, she proposed that potentially each girl, in addition to being stripped of her prefecture, be given the maximum eight strokes of the cane over her panties as an alternative to suspension. Then, in order to save the Mikado, and the efforts that all the cast had put in over months, she reminded Edwina that Victoria Knight-Brewer, her young History Teacher, had played the role the last time it had been performed at St Hilda’s six years earlier and had been assisting with this year’s production. It would mean rewriting and reprinting the programme and a lot of work from the new principals, but should be worth a try.
Mary, who knew Vicki and her fiancé were amongst those invited for the weekend at Birchgrove Hall, picked up the phone on Edwina’s desk. Sir Peter took the call as they were going in for lunch, and called Victoria over. Although initially doubtful because it needed a huge additional commitment, she agreed to try and help.
Delighted that a way out had been found, Edwina had meanwhile summoned Annette and Nicole to hear their fates, having already phoned both sets of horrified parents and obtained their agreement for what was to happen.
The two girls, now feeling very sorry for themselves, made their way to the Headmistress’s office in the main building, accompanied by Matron. Belinda Stern, normally a charming motherly and supportive lady, having had little sleep, was not being particularly sympathetic and wore an expression more suited to her surname. Matron was unable to give the girls any indication as to what faced them, but told them they would be lucky if they were not to become the first girls expelled from St Hilda’s in the ten years she had been there.
The three waited outside the door until the clock above showed exactly 3.00 pm, when Matron knocked.
Inside, the 5’9” tall figure of Edwina Smithfield was seated behind her desk, her glossy mid-brown hair, without a hint of grey, collected into a neat bun and her attractive features set in a severe expression. She had removed her glasses, placing them to her right, next to a black leather-bound book and her fountain pen, on the otherwise clear desk. The two arm chairs on either side of the desk were occupied by Mary and Agatha in their roles both as governors and witnesses. There were two plain high backed chairs side by side some 3 yards in front of the desk.
“Come-in,” the clear cultured voice of the headmistress just carried through the door, but was reinforced as a small light to the right of the door changed from amber to green at the press of a button. Matron entered first, followed by the two girls, and all three stood before the headmistress on an elegant rug, Matron in the centre.
“Matron,” commenced the headmistress, “How are our two young ladies today, after their car crash?”
“No lasting effects, possibly a little whiplash; Miss Denning has some bruising from her seatbelt and a stiff neck, and Miss Wellesley has a bruise on her left temple where her head struck the door. I have managed to get them both properly hydrated and, apart from minor headaches, neither should be too much the worse from the substances they consumed last night.”
“So, both should be in a suitable state to discuss what happened last night?”
“Thank you, Matron, would you mind coming back to collect the pair in half an hour please? Once we have decided what needs to be done.”
Matron left, and Mrs Smithfield continued. “Ladies, I have here Miss Dingle, whom you know, but who is now here in her role as a school governor, and Lady Millington who is Chairman of the board of Governors of St Hilda’s Academy. Their presence here, on a Sunday afternoon, should leave you in no doubt how seriously the school views what happened to you. Before we can decide what needs to be done, we need to hear from you both what happened, in your own words, so please be seated.”
The two girls looked at each other, apprehensive but relieved, and sat upright in the two chairs as indicated, with their knees crossed. Nikki, a very pretty blonde of medium height, was dressed in a pleated grey mid-length skirt and a bright red roll neck pullover onto which she had pinned her red and gold prefect’s badge, her shoulder length hair worn loose did not completely hide the angry purple bruise on her left temple. To her right, the petite, elegant, almost elfin, figure of Netty with her very dark hair worn in a 1920s bob-style was wearing tailored black trousers and a peach-coloured blouse over which she had a white cardigan, again sporting her prefect’s badge.
“Annette, it was your eighteenth birthday yesterday and, respecting that you were now an adult and in view of your exemplary record and a request from your father; I granted you permission to have dinner in town with Nicola and two friends, after rehearsals had completed, on condition that you were both back by 10.30. Please tell me everything that happened from the time that you left the school, until you were pulled from the car. Needless to say, I expect you to be completely honest and to omit nothing.”
Netty took a deep breath. “Well, Mrs Smithfield, Jake had his car with him and, after rehearsal at just before five-thirty, the four of us left the school and drove into town. We went into the park and did a little window shopping before arriving at the restaurant for seven. Our table was booked for half past so we had pre-dinner drinks while waiting, once we had all proved we were over eighteen, and then had a lovely meal accompanied by wine and we finished at about half past nine. Jake and Norman offered to pay but we insisted on splitting the bill four ways.
“When we left the restaurant, it was a lovely moonlit night. Jake suggested that we drive to the top of the hill and look out over the countryside and just talk for a bit. When we got there, he gave me a lovely necklace with a tiny four-leaf clover and kissed me, he said we needed more practice for the kissing song, which was funny.
“Norman went for a walk with Nikki and they must have got lost, so we waited for them. When they got back, Norman appeared a bit strange and was smoking a cigarette which smelled funny. Jake was cross that we were now late and we all got into the car. I was with Jake in the front and Norman and Nikki in the back.”
“On our way back, Norman passed his cigarette to Nikki for her to try and said it would make her feel wonderful. She tried it and then passed it to me. I didn’t want it and Jake, who was driving much too fast, reached across and grabbed it from me and threw it out of the window, but then came the gate and we didn’t make the turn. The next thing, you were there, and the police was there, and my chest hurt, and my neck hurt.”
“Thank you, Annette, we will have some questions for you later, but now Nicola please, tell me if there is anything you would like to add.”
“It was pretty much as Netty told you. We each had a gin and tonic before dinner and then wine with the meal, and we were feeling happy, and were having fun. After the meal we had a little bit of time and agreed that they could drive us somewhere quiet. Then Norman said we should give them some privacy and we went into the woods, but it was dark and, when we started back, we got lost. Then he got out the funny smelling cigarette and we smoked for a bit and came back, but Jake was very cross as we were now very late, and he tried to throw the cigarette away, and we crashed and I hit my head and don’t remember what happened next.”
“Thank you, Nicola.” She paused. “Miss Dingle, do you have any questions for our two young ladies?”
Agatha looked at the two girls. “Ladies, we have a responsibility to look after you whilst you are with us, and we trusted you to enjoy your celebration safely. As sensible young ladies, where do you think things went wrong, and did anything happen of which you are now ashamed? Annette?”
“Miss Dingle, I am so sorry. I think I was justified in having a little to drink to celebrate being eighteen, but after the second glass of wine I probably should have stopped. I should have got a taxi back and not got into the car with Jake, because he had been drinking, but he was so nice to me. He said he was fine to drive and it was so beautiful in the moonlight. Kissing was fun, but I should have stopped him sooner, and I really shouldn’t have given him my panties as a souvenir when he asked for them, although nothing happened. Really! Jake really wanted to get us back in time and he was cross when the others didn’t come back for ages. I really wasn’t going to try the funny smelling cigarette and I am sorry that I have ruined everything for everyone, when all I wanted to do was have a grown-up birthday.”
“Miss Dingle, it is all my fault. I wanted to be alone with Norman and we kissed and cuddled, and his hands wandered a bit, but nothing more, and we lost track of time. Then we got dressed and he got out a funny cigarette and smoked it and blew the smoke in my face and it felt funny. Then he lit the second one as we got back, and in the car he dared me to smoke it, which I did. It felt sort of good, so I passed it to Netty, but she didn’t want it. Then Jake got really cross, grabbed the cigarette and threw it away and then we crashed. I am so sorry that I ruined Netty’s birthday and caused all this trouble.”
“Thank you, ladies. To summarise, Annette, you had too much to drink, got into a car with someone who you knew had been drinking, comported yourself in a disgraceful manner to the extent of giving your boyfriend your panties and returning without them. As a result, you were not just late back but were injured in a car crash that should never have happened. Is that a fair summary?”
“Yes, Miss Dingle. I am so sorry and am so ashamed.”
“Nicola, you also drank too much and, far from looking after your friend, allowed Annette to get drunk and get into a car with someone who was unfit to drive. You then behaved in a wanton and disgraceful manner, including partaking of illegal drugs. As a result of which you were all late back and involved in a car crash, in which you were both hurt and which could have been far worse. Is that fair?”
“Yes, Miss Dingle. I am really sorry and ashamed, and I ruined things for Netty and she is in trouble because of me. Please, Mrs Smithfield, what is going to happen to us?”
“That is something that Lady Millington and I need to decide. Lady Millington, would you like to say anything at this stage?”
Mary stood, and both girls also got to their feet. “Ladies, I have discussed your academic records and reviewed all your reports from your teachers from the beginning of your time at St Hilda’s. There is no doubt that you are both charming young ladies who, until last night, had been a real credit to the school and had fully earned the prefects badges that you wear. Last night, you both badly let yourselves down in a way that has brought shame upon yourselves, your families, your teachers and this school.
“Despite your previous records, your conduct last night requires that you be severely punished. The Headmaster at the boys’ school has told Mrs Smithfield that Jake and Norman are going to be suspended from now until their exams, and that he considered expulsion. Neither will be permitted to perform in Mikado on Friday. Fairness dictates, therefore, that neither of you be permitted to perform either.”
“But, please, My Lady,” started Netty.
Mary held up her hand and Netty paused in mid-sentence.
“Both boys will also be prosecuted by the police and will appear in the Magistrate’s court tomorrow. The police have decided not to call you as witnesses.
“Mrs Smithfield, Miss Dingle, and I have agreed that, because of your conduct, you no longer deserve to remain prefects. Please remove your badges and place them on Mrs Smithfield’s desk.”
The two girls sadly unclipped their treasured badges, placed them on the desk and returned to stand on the carpet.
“We also decided that we did not wish to blight your promising futures as a result of a single night’s drink-fuelled stupidity, and should therefore try and find a way to avoid both expulsion or a lengthy suspension. We have discussed the matter with your parents and decided to offer you an alternative not available to Jake’s Headmaster. You are both to be severely caned over your knickers instead of being suspended or expelled.
“You are both adults and therefore need to make your own decision. If you accept, the caning will be carried out immediately and you will, in addition, be confined to the school grounds until after your exams.
“I now need your decisions ladies; Miss Denning?”
“Thank you, Lady Millington, for not suspending me. I will take the cane, please.”
“I will also take the cane, please, Lady Millington.”
“Very well. Miss Denning, having considered your conduct you will receive six strokes of the cane; one stroke for being late, two strokes for having had too much to drink and three strokes for your disgraceful conduct in giving that boy your panties as a souvenir.
“Miss Wellesley, you will receive the maximum eight strokes of the cane that I can award, the additional strokes being for partaking of an illegal substance.”
“Mrs Smithfield, please make the required entries in the punishment book under the heading of ‘disgraceful conduct bringing the school into disrepute’ and then administer the punishment, please.”
Having made the required entries, the headmistress stood and retrieved the senior cane from the cupboard before turning to face the frightened young ladies.
“Ladies, please approach the desk together. Miss Wellesley, you will raise your skirt and you, Miss Denning, you will lower your trousers, then both bend over the desk and grasp the far side and remain in position until you are told you may stand. Miss Wellesley you will receive the first two strokes. Following strokes will then be applied alternately, finishing with your final stroke. Bend over, please.”
The two girls did as requested, standing with their thighs pressed against the desk, their breasts flattened against the leather surface, and their hands grasping the far side as tightly as they could. The three ladies examined the sight before them, and Agatha stepped in to ensure that Nikki’s pullover and Netty’s blouse and cardigan were clear of the target area, revealing the blonde girl’s rounded buttocks displayed in white tightly-filled cotton panties of a generous cut, and Netty’s smaller bottom only partially covered by tiny pink, lace-trimmed, knickers.
Edwina flexed the cane, touched it gently towards the top of Nikki’s attractive bottom, and then raised it shoulder high before bringing it swishing down to indent the soft white roundness. Thwack! Her pretty face contorted with pain.
Nikki gasped but otherwise made no sound. A pause of some fifteen seconds and the second stroke landed about an inch lower. Swish-Thwack! “Oh!” was the only audible response, although the blonde’s hair swirled and her dainty right foot briefly left the carpet.
The Headmistress then took a step forward and lined up the cane on the top of Netty’s smaller bottom, before bringing it down with equal force and extracting a loud, “Ouch!” from the petite brunette. The strokes landed alternately, evenly spaced in time and in space over the two lovely bottoms; thwack, “Oof!” thwack, “Owww!” thwack, “Ouch!” thwack, “ahhhhhh!” thwack, “Yikes!” thwack, “Yewoouch!” thwack, “Ow, gosh!” thwack, “Nooooo!” thwack, “Aie!” with the final two strokes impacting on the fold of each, now tearful, girl’s bottom where buttock meets thigh.
The two young ladies, now sobbing, were left bent over for a full two minutes, with their well-caned bottoms on display as their breathing settled.
“You may stand, ladies. Your punishment is now over. Annette, please pull up your trousers.”
Having done so, the lovely brunette turned to her headmistress. “Mrs Smithfield, may I ask a question please?”
“Yes, my dear.”
“I know I deserved my punishment, and I am grateful for not being suspended or expelled, but is there not some way that Mikado can go ahead? I feel really dreadful that my silliness may have ruined everything after everyone has worked so hard for so long. Also, the whole school was looking forward to Miss Dingle playing ‘Katisha’ as a fitting farewell.”
“Annette, you have just proved to me what a wonderful young lady you really are, thinking of others even when you are clearly suffering. Rest assured the show will go on. You know Miss Knight Brewer? Well, six years ago, she played ‘Yum-Yum’ whilst she was a prefect here. She has agreed to play the role again, opposite Jake’s understudy. It will mean a lot of work for them both; but they have agreed so that all the others’ efforts are not wasted.”
“Oh! Mrs Smithfield, I am so pleased!” added Nikki. “It would have been such a shame had it not gone ahead, and, Lady Millington,” she added, turning to Mary.
“Thank you for caring about our futures enough to punish us rather than suspend us. I really do mean it and, although the cane was a truly horrific experience, I am genuinely very grateful.”
“Just make sure you justify our faith in you both and learn from this; we will all be following your future careers with interest.”
At the same time as two very sorry young ladies were making their way across the quadrangle, Victoria was, following an enjoyable lunch, being dropped back at St Hilda’s by Tony, her fiancé, before he returned to duty at HMS Drake. As they kissed goodbye, the lovely redhead was now looking forward to the challenges ahead. Costume fittings Monday, a full rehearsal on Tuesday and a dress rehearsal on Thursday. She was reassured that Agatha, returning to play ‘Katisha’ for the last time, would be coming over for a couple of hours each evening to assist her, bringing a video of the Saturday rehearsal to help with the choreography.
© Capstan 2021