Saturday means trouble for four girls

by Jane Fairweather

 “Money can’t buy me love,” Jodie Summers was half chanting in a vague imitation of the popular song, and the other three girls in the little gang were vaguely joining in from time to time as they strode up the high street of the little seaside town.

 As she did so, Jodie was amused by the glares they were getting from some of the older and more respectable members of the public. The older women particularly looked extremely disapproving. Some of these were not even wearing dresses but no doubt very fashionable skirt-suits, and some at least were still wearing hats and gloves. Fashionable, that is, if you were born before BC, Jodie joked to herself.

 “We are quite good, I think,” Annie Arkwright was cutting in. “We ought to form a group.”

 “Undoubtedly!” Jenny Reynolds added. “But we would need a couple of boys who can play guitar.”

 “There are always the Joseph boys. A couple of them must be able to do it,” Jodie said, meaning the local boys’ boarding school, which was called the ‘Lord Joseph’.

 “If we ever get to see them! They are reined in tighter than we are,” Sue Bright was saying, swinging along in her blue check mini-skirt, which was several inches above the knees of her long legs.

 “Perhaps we could do it ourselves,” Jodie suggested.

There was no real response to this and they started singing again, getting yet more annoyed glances.

And then twenty yards down the street they walked straight into Old Michael, which is to say Miss Michaelson, head of Mathematics, in her grey skirt-suit with her grey hair in a severe bun. If it had been Miss Evans, the headmistress, something would certainly have been said, but Miss Evans had a sense of humour and a certain sympathy with the young. However, Old Michael had no sense of humour and something close to a hatred of schoolgirls that had steadily grown through thirty years as a teacher who could not control her classes.

“How dare you girls make such a racket. You are a disgrace to the school!” Miss Michaelson was fulminating.

 “It is our Saturday afternoon off, Miss,” Jodie replied, trying to sound reasonable, but failing.

 “Yes, Miss Summers, but you are expected to behave in a sensible and ladylike fashion. And as to your clothes! You look and sound like hippies.”

“But Miss, the sixth form is allowed to wear its own clothes on Saturday afternoon,” Annie Arkwright said.

 They all knew it had been a very hard won privilege to be allowed to wear mini-skirts on Saturday afternoon outings. Miss Evans had yielded to a petition from the whole sixth form, presented by the head girl. Notoriously, Old Michael had been one of several older members of staff who had been deeply opposed to it.

 “Yes, and the privilege was to wear these too short and indecent skirts that are in fashion, not these ridiculously tight American jeans, which I see you have got on, Miss Arkright. Have you no shame, young lady? Do you not realize you are showing practically everything to the world?”

 “I think they look alright, Miss, or I would not wear them,” Annie Arkwright said fiercely.

 “And as for you, Miss Reynolds, I suppose you think you are in training to become one of these new-fangled traffic wardens, do you? I hope you realize you are showing even more than Miss Arkwright’s jeans. These flared trousers are horrific, far worse than Oxford Bags used to be, and they were bad enough.”

 “But Miss, there was nothing about us not wearing trousers or jeans. The privilege was we could wear our own clothes in our own time,” Jodie protested, before Jenny could defend herself.

 “As usual with you girls, it was give an inch and you take a yard. Well, I shall be reporting both this whole conversation and your caterwauling to the headmistress, so there may well be severe consequences!” Old Michael snarled.

 “Damn you, you old cow! Damn you!” The words came out of Jodie’s mouth before she could stop them.

 She knew as soon as she had said it that she was in dire trouble, and the sensible thing would be to apologise at once and pray it was not going to be reported to the headmistress on top of the other things. However, she felt too proud to do it. Why should they put up with this nonsense?

 “I shall be suggesting to Miss Evans that you deserve to be expelled, Miss Summers, for such horrific rudeness to a senior member of staff,” Old Michael said with horrible formality. “And as for the rest of you, I imagine the headmistress will take as dim a view of this dreadful behaviour as I do.”

 There was an awful silence as Old Michael turned on her heel and stormed off.

 Then, rather to the girls’ surprise, two older women with feather in their rather unusual hats, who might have been in their seventies and must have heard the conversation, sidled up to them.

 “You poor girls!” the taller one said. “What awful manners that woman has. I hope you don’t get caned too severely.”

 “They hardly ever cane us,” Jenny said rather wryly. “In some ways it would be easier. We will probably be sent home, at least till the end of term. Our headmistress hates rudeness.”

 “Quite right too, and you were a bit rude,” said the old woman briskly. “But in our day we got the cane, didn’t we Felicia?”

 “Yes, for something like this we’d have got six on our knickers, and believe me it used to sting. You’d cry out and wriggle, but at least it was out of the way.”

 “Oh, it is always on our hands when our headmistress does it, and that is once in a blue moon,” Jodie said wryly. “It is usually some junior who has got too big for her boots. We won’t get it. We are too old.”

 “Quite barbaric, caning hands,” observed the first of the two women. “But which school do you go to, girls?”

 “Oh, the Praed,” Jenny said. “You know, up the hill outside the town. It’s a boarding school.”

 “I thought you might be from the Praed. It has a certain reputation for quality,” the first woman remarked.

 “And scholarships too, I think,” the second woman added.

 “Anyway girls,” said the first woman. “Best of luck. I do hope it turns out alright.”

 “So do we,” Jodie said with a sigh. “But thank you for being so nice about it; it really is kind of you both.”

 The girls detached themselves politely and decided to have one last ice cream before they headed back up to the school and goodness knows what.

“At least,” said Annie something like an hour later as they very reluctantly made their way back to the school. “Whatever else happens, it won’t be the cane in these jeans. I bet it would really sting.”

 “I bet my trousers would be even worse.” Jenny Reynolds said thoughtfully. “They are not that thick.”

 “You know, it might not be too bad to be sent home till the end of term. There is only a couple of weeks to go,” Sue Bright said, who had been rather silent up till that point.

 “You are not in line for a scholarship,” Jenny said rather irritably. “Poor Jodie is almost certainly for the chop, and she is the one everyone expected to do really well. It really is a total, utter catastrophe, girls. Let’s face it.”

 ****

 They were all feeling nervous and worried, but the sight of Gillian Hope, the head girl, standing by the school gate, looking immaculate in green school blazer with various badges, gold blouse and red school tie, her lovely gold hair over her shoulders, sent a shiver through all four girls.

 “She must be waiting for us. God, we really are for it!” said Jenny. “I was hoping Old Michael might just have let it go.”

 They walked very deliberately towards Gillian Hope and their doom, hoping in spite of all evidence to the contrary that nothing was really going to happen after all, and it was really a bad dream.

 “You four!” Gillian was saying very briskly. “Are wanted immediately in the headmistress’s study. I don’t know what you’ve done, but Miss Evans is in a frenzy like I have never seen her. And you are to go as you are. No changing back into school uniform.”

 “She is going to throw us straight out. That must be why she does not want us in uniform, and it is all my fault,” Jodie exclaimed twenty or thirty yards further on.

 “No, it isn’t your fault. It is Old Michael going way over the top,” Sue Bright answered, almost snapping at her, and the other two murmured their agreement.

 They found themselves in the corridor outside the headmistress’s study, which was bright with the evening sun coming through the windows.

 “Oh well, better get it over with. My dad is going to kill me. I will never get to university now. I won’t have a reference,” Jodie said hysterically, eyeing the headmistress’s door. “Anyway, are we ready for the walk to the scaffold, girls?”

 None of the girls answered, so she knocked on the door and, after a brief pause, Miss Evans opened the door. She was a vivacious, almost petite, woman, who was wearing a very attractive embroidered blouse under her stylish blue jacket. As usual, her black hair was immaculately permed. As headmistresses go, Miss Evans really was rather stylish, Jodie thought.

 There was the usual, “Come and stand in front of my desk, girls,” which Jodie and Annie, at least, were used to from lower down the school.

 Then there was a pause while the headmistress sat down again in her chair and simply gazed at the four culprits.

 “For once,” Miss Evans finally observed. “I really have to agree with Miss Michaelson. Those jeans and trousers are not really decent, and both the mini-skirts are quite simply too short, even with tights on. You girls really have been taking advantage of what I meant to be a generous concession, which I am now going to revoke. In future, girls in the sixth form will only go into town in school uniform, thanks to you four.

 “However, there is also the question of your very rowdy behaviour in town. Have you no sense of decorum? Singing pop songs at the top of your voices in the town centre! What on earth do you think people will think of this school? This is really a question of much more than a polite rap over the knuckles. An example has to be made. We simply cannot have behaviour like this.”

 Jodie, for one, felt deeply ashamed, but the tirade swept on. She could hear that Sue Bright on one side of her, and Jenny on the other, were both sobbing. She wasn’t, but she very nearly was, and she suspected Annie was the same.

 “And now,” Miss Evans voice said, very definitely changing key. “There is the question of the very real rudeness to a senior member of staff, which all of you were apparently guilty of, though it was Miss Summers who actually swore. And none of you thought to apologise, which makes it a great deal worse, in my view. Having weighed the issues very carefully, I have decided that you are all equally guilty and the school will be much better off without the four of you.”

 “But Miss Evans, it was only Jodie who swore,” Sue Bright protested.

 “But you all had the same abhorrent attitude and…” At that moment the phone went on her desk.

 She picked it up with real annoyance, then said, “Really, Mr Owen, this is not a good moment, it really isn’t. Couldn’t we talk later? Well, I suppose if it’s that important. Girls, go and wait outside the door, would you please.”

 The four of them scuttled out and looked at one another.

 “We’re sacked, all of us, that is clear,” Sue Bright said, looking decidedly shaken.

 Clearly, thought Jodie, the others had not expected to be thrown out. She did not know whether to feel a certain relief that they were all for the chop.

 Nevertheless, she said, “It really is my fault. I really am sorry, everybody.”

 “Oh, we will live,” said Annie, and the other two were murmuring agreement, which was a great relief to Jodie.

 “Who is Mr Owen?” asked Sue. “There aren’t many people the headmistress would stop in mid-sentence for.”

 “Chairman of the Governors, isn’t he? I seem to remember him from Speech Day,” Annie came out with.

 “’Oh well, it will be some weighty school matter, probably money. The headmistress is always worried about money,” Jodie found herself saying.

 “Well, it won’t be a reprieve anyway,” said Jenny gloomily.

 Whatever the conversation was about, it went on for some while. Jodie started to wonder if another school would let her take her Oxford entrance application, or could she take it without a school to back her? The other three were wondering what sort of job they could get. Sue, at least, was wondering if she could get high enough secretarial qualifications to be a personal assistant.

 The door opened, and Miss Evans beckoned them back in and sat down behind her desk again.

 “That was the Chairman of the Governors,” Miss Evans stated.

 ‘Tell us news, not history,,’ Jodie thought, wishing they could get to the end of this very trying process.

 “It appears Mr Owen has two elderly aunts who witnessed the incident and were so disturbed that they rang him. Surprisingly they thought the four of you were as much sinned against as sinning, which raises some very awkward questions which Miss Michaelson will have to answer in the near future. However, they said nothing to alter the fact that you four behaved abominably, especially you, Jodie, so effectively your sentences stand.”

 ‘Great!’ thought Jodie, though it was really nice of the two old women to try and help.

 “However, the two ladies did also raise a question I am prepared to give some consideration to. If the four of you are also prepared to consider it, which you may well not be. I gather you had some conversation about possible corporal punishment, which they were still using at the Praed when these old ladies attended it over half a century ago, and you girls did not seem to reject the idea. If that is true and you are prepared to accept it, we could resolve the matter like that. However it is entirely your choice.”

 There was a slightly stunned pause.

 Then Annie asked, “Would you do it, Miss?”

 “No!” came the brisk answer. “It would have to be Miss Thomas. She is the tennis coach for the County and I am sure that she has a good strong arm. I think I lack the necessary strength, unfortunately.”

 “Would it be on our hands, Miss?” Jenny asked.

 “I think with a punishment as severe as this is going to have to be, it should be on your behinds, especially as you are all rather well dressed for it.”

 Jody shivered a little and tried and failed to summon up the strength to ask how many strokes she would get. She realized she would likely get more than the others.

 However, Sue was asking the question rather querulously.

 “I think five for Jody Summers and three for the rest of you. The two of you with mini-skirts on would have it on your tights, if that makes any difference to your decision,” The headmistress said in a thoughtful voice.

 Jodie’s immediate reaction was, ‘Thank god it isn’t six of the best, though five sounds bad enough. But tights won’t give much protection. If I let her do it I wonder if I will feel like sitting down for a while.’

 “Now girls, you have had long enough to think. Are we going to do this, or not?” Miss Evans was saying, sounding to Jodie at least as if she was on the verge of changing her mind.

 One by one, each of the girls was asked if this was what they wanted to do, and each agreed in a decidedly halting voice. Jody was the last to be asked and she nearly said no after all, until it struck her that Miss Evans might well go back to expelling them all, if one of them said no. Was she right about that, or not? But anyway a mixture of pride and comradeship made her say yes if in a voice that was anything but firm.

 Miss Evans was suddenly struck by the fact that she did not know where Miss Thomas was, and went striding off to find her. The girls were left in a state of nerves chattering to one another and trying to pretend they were really not that scared.

 “At least it is better than having to explain to my father,” Jodie found herself saying, and the others said similar things.

 Then Miss Thomas, who was a wiry strong forty-year-old woman wearing her usual grey track suit entered with the headmistress.

 There was a brief unnerving discussion between Miss Evans and Miss Thomas as they discussed which one they should use out of the basket of canes that apparently dated from a Miss Mead’s time, over half a century before, and was normally hidden away in a tall cupboard.

 Jody could see there was a surprising variety of canes of various thickness and length. Which one, she wondered, had administered six strokes to the two old women they had met this afternoon? Still, she decided five must be better than six, mustn’t it?

 “That is the little thing I occasionally use on junior girls’ hands,” Miss Evans was saying. “It stings and they yelp, but it does not leave much of a mark. We’d better use something rather larger on this occasion.”

 Jodie watched in fascinated horror, trying very hard not to let her teeth chatter as a quite thick-looking cane of over three foot was selected to administer justice to the seat of Annie Arkwright’s jeans, which Miss Thomas remarked looked rather solid. Then a rather thinner cane of similar length was chosen to deal with Jenny’s very tight flared brown trousers, which were somewhat thinner than the jeans. Then a horribly flexible looking yellow thing that was about as thin as the last one, but slightly shorter, was selected to deal with the two girls with tights on, which Jodie realized with a horrible start meant her.

 “I think we had better give them a chair to bend over. My brother always says that it helps his boys,” Miss Thomas said.

 A wooden chair was duly produced from the corner of the room and placed in the large open space in front of the headmistress’s desk. The girls exchanged wry glances. Jodie noticed that Sue and Jenny both had tears in their eyes, though they were not actually sobbing. She wondered nervously if her own eyes were dry.

 “Jodie, do you want to be first and get your five out of the way?” Miss Evans was asking, surprisingly kindly.

 Jodie hesitated. Was it cowardly to refuse to go first? But she really did not want to be the first to find out how painful it was.

 “No Miss, if you don’t mind, I’d rather see what it is like first.”

 “Suit yourself,” Miss Evans replied, and then added, “Well, somebody has got to go first. It may as well be you, Miss Arkright.”

 Jenny walked forward with the tears rolling down her cheeks.

 “Bend over and hold the sides of the chair,” Miss Thomas said.

 Annie took a firm hold on the sides of the chair, making her bottom rather higher than her head.

Jodie noticed just how tight her friend’s jeans were, and decided this going to hurt a very great deal. She shivered.

 Miss Thomas picked up the largest of the three canes in her right hand. Jodie noticed the expanse of Annie’s buttocks from the top down towards her thighs. The cane tapped those slender buttocks about halfway down. Then it was being drawn back before being sent swishing into that poor bottom with a tremendous whack. Annie shrieked and her bottom went down and then back up, and she was really blubbering. Jodie wondered if Miss Thomas was trying almost too hard because the jeans were thick.

 There was a distinct pause and the whole thing happened again.

 Annie howled and then went, “Ah,ah, ah! Please miss, it really hurts.”

 Jodie noticed the way Annie was lifting her legs up and down and her whole body was contorting. Only the fact she was clasping the chair was stopping her friend falling over, Jody decided. But was it as bad as that? She had a feeling Annie was putting it on just a bit.

 “Stop blubbering, girl! Only one more to come, but if you go on making such a fuss there will be an extra stroke,” Miss Thomas was saying very unsympathetically.

 Annie got the message and calmed down, more or less. Miss Thomas really thumped that little backside with her third stroke, which produced more howling. Annie staggered to her feet and held her behind, doing a sort of dance for several minutes. Miss Thomas let her prance about for a while, then told her to stand against the wall with her hands on her head.

 Jodie had somehow expected to be next, but just as she had keyed herself up to take what was coming, Miss Thomas was summoning Sue. Sue walked over to the chair with her long legs and long back, and was grasping the sides of the chair as hard as she could. Jodie realized Sue’s bum was right up in the air, and she was going to have to show her tights and pants, which was going to be very embarrassing for Sue. Sure enough, there was a brief pause while the loose blue check mini-skirt was pulled up, and the white nylon slip followed it. The pink nylon pants that covered Sue’s two small round buttocks under the tights were very visible. In spite of herself, Jodie grinned.

 And yet Jodie did not take in Sue’s caning quite as well as she had the previous one. For one thing, Sue made much less fuss than Annie, taking the first two strokes in something approaching silence. She stayed more or less still, though she swayed just a little. Even after the third stroke she only whimpered; and though she held her bottom briefly afterwards, she did not jump about.

 ‘Who was next?’ Jodie wondered. Probably herself, she decided. She was getting the same cane as Sue, wasn’t she? She only hoped that she could take it as well as Sue had.

 But it was Jenny in her flared trousers who was being ushered into position. It was the biggest of the bums by quite a bit, Jodie realized. She had never quite realized how big it was. And it was almost alarming how much you could see. Those trousers were skin tight. Anyway, Miss Thomas administered three hard strokes that you could were really biting. It must have really hurt, but Jenny took the first in silence, whimpered after the second one and only cried out a little after the third. Jodie rather cruelly wondered if Jenny could have taken six of the best, but suppressed the thought, thinking it was unkind.

 “Come on Jodie Summers, you must know it is your turn,” Miss Thomas was saying irritably.

 Jodie staggered over to the chair, feeling it must be at least twenty miles, though it was no more than four or five yards, if that. She could feel her heart was racing suddenly and there were the most tremendous butterflies in her stomach. Why was she suddenly so frightened? She had seemed almost calm up to this point.

 “Pull your skirt and slip above your waist, girl. Your skirt is too tight for me to pull up after you have bent over,” Miss Thomas was saying, almost as if it was Jodie’s fault.

 Jodie very shakily complied, thinking she wished she could have kept the two garments on. It did not seem a lot to ask, did it? She grasped the sides of the chair without being told to and prayed to be able to take this without making too much fuss.

 There was a horrible pause and then the cane tapped the seat of her tights a couple of times. And then she was being thrashed very slowly and very hard. It might have been an illusion, but she always thought hers was by far the worst of the punishments, even allowing for the fact she had five strokes and the others had three. And yet something seemed to numb her backside after the absolutely agonising first two strokes, and she managed to get through it with surprisingly little noise, though with a great many tears. And then she was standing against the wall by the others with her hands on her head. She was not quite sure what happened between leaving the chair and reaching the wall. Possibly she jumped about, certainly she held her bottom. She was never really quite sure.

 “And now, girls, you can go. I hope I never have to see any of you in trouble again,” Miss Evans was saying, and Jodie was adjusting her skirt and slip and staggering towards the door with an incredibly aching bottom and wondering if she was quite on this planet.

 “Oh, and there is an invitation to tea, girls. I almost forgot,” Miss Evans added. “Those nice old ladies have invited you to tea next Saturday afternoon. I will refuse for you if you want. I expect they are a bit old for you to be interested.”

 “Oh no, Miss. They were lovely,” Sue, who seemed to have survived better than the rest of them, was saying rather brightly.

 Jodie found herself joining in the chorus of agreement. With luck, she decided, the old ladies would be able to tell them how their punishments compared, and for some reason or other she was quite eager to know.

 The End

 © Jane Fairweather 2022

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