Caught in the Act

The headmistress’s daughter is caught by the Head Girl and hatch a plan together. The next in the Ambleside series

By Tara Patterson

Elaine Meanwood parked her battered green Citroen Saxo in its reserved space next to the large imposing gates of Queen Anne school, Ambleside. She glanced at the dashboard clock as she switched off the headlights; it read 01:45.

Elaine didn’t know whether to feel elated or guilty about how her evening had gone. One thing was for sure, it had been a few years since she had sneaked back home with her knickers stuffed in her handbag and her clothes looking rather crumpled.

“Better than doing the walk of shame in the morning and explaining all this to Mother,” she thought as she sent her boyfriend a cheeky text message to mark her safe arrival home.

He was a Mechanical Engineer on the local steam railway and a little older than her, not Elaine’s usual type but he, David, seemed so much different to the guys she had dated in the past. The evening had gone so well. They had enjoyed a meal at David’s favourite restaurant before a sunset walk along the lakeside in Bowness.

Then they booking in at the hotel down a little backstreet and while Elaine wasn’t usually the sort to go that far on a first date, in a funny way it was her idea.

As David said: “You only live once. Life is for living.”

The time had passed oh so quickly before they both sensibly decided that they must go back to their own homes as they both had early starts in the morning.

‘It’s a school night for me,’ thought Elaine as she one again looked at the time. ‘In less than four hours it’s on with the uniform and a day of A level lessons. Great! Hope I don’t nod off.’

Although Elaine was twenty-five and the school librarian most of the week, she was also studying for her A level English and History as a mature student. During the days she was in lessons she wore school uniform and was treated the same as the other pupils at the school.

Elaine decided to sneak back into the building through the well-used route of the rear fire escape and bathroom window. Since her mother’s promotion to headmistress six months earlier, they had moved from the isolated Lodge Cottage that stood alone in the grounds and into the very large and comfortable Headteacher’s apartment in the main building. Elaine knew her mother was a light sleeper so she thought that going into the building through the school and dormitory corridors down to the internal link door would be quieter than using the very heavy and creaky private front door.

At the top of the fire exit was a large platform. Elaine eased open the bathroom window, it was never locked. The paint on the window frame was worn smooth from the night time entry and exits of generations of schoolgirls.

It was difficult for Elaine to climb. She slipped off her black strappy sandals to climb in her stockinged feet. She almost caught her dark blue dress on the window catch. Just as she eased herself through the tight window, her left leg dangling below, she froze as a hand grabbed her ankle.

She slid back down onto the balcony and came face to face with Joanna Spalding, the head girl.

Joanna glared at Elaine. The head girl was dressed in a tweed type brown trouser suit and a pair of brown cross-strap heeled shoes. Her blonde hair was tied tightly back in a French twist, although her makeup looked a little worn.

“Out a little late, aren’t we? Who are you? Which house are you in?” Snapped Jo. “You are in so much trouble. Just wait till Miss Meanwood hears about this in the morning.”

“And you too, Spalding,” replied Elaine. “Don’t you recognise me in the dark? I am Miss Meanwood, well, not quite the one you had in mind. Now would you mind telling me why you are out at this time and out of uniform too?”

The head girl though for a moment, slightly shocked by the identity of her captive.

“Err, well, sorry Ma’am, I thought you were one of the sixth form sneaking back in after a night out. Err, lots of them do it. I, it was, well, it’s getting a problem again. So I was trying to catch a few; thought slippering the ringleaders might nip it in the bud for a while.”

“Rubbish!” Snapped Elaine, her voice almost a whisper. “You are right on a few counts. I think that you and I are the ones sneaking back from a night out. Any others would have been back hours ago. One simply does not dress like you are if you are hiding out to catch delinquent sixth form girls.”

Elaine noticed a smirk on the head girl’s face, not too dissimilar to how she was feeling herself right now.

She continued: “There is more to this than meets the eye. We ought to continue this conversation in private. Go to the library, we can talk there.”

*          *          *

“Well this is a tricky situation. How do we resolve it?” Began Elaine as she sat down face to face with Joanna Spalding in the back room of the library. “Technically I ought to report you to the Headmistress or Matron for being out at this time, but then that would expose the fact that both you and I have been up to probably the same thing tonight. I could personally do without all the fallout from Mother for being out this late. That smirk and that rosy happy look on your face tells me exactly what you have been doing, and if the other Miss Meanwood finds out she will thrash you so hard it will put you off boyfriends for a long time. I know we are both over eighteen but you know my mother’s opinions about sex and boyfriends getting in the way of our studies. It’s why I still sneak around like I’m one of the girls if I’ve been out late.”

Elaine glanced at the clock.

“And that isn’t so far from the truth, seeing as it is now Tuesday and it’s one of my pupil days. Awkwardly, that means today you, as head girl, outrank me now as I’m only a mere prefect on a Tuesday. So you could theoretically report me to the Headmistress like you said you would when we were outside.”

“But that would drop me right in it,” mused Jo. “I think it best if we were to sort this out between ourselves and certainly keep the Headmistress from finding out. I could always slipper you like I would have done if you really were one of the girls. I’m allowed to do that, you know, even to prefects.”

Elaine thought for a moment. An idea was beginning to form.

“That’s not really fair. It’s a bit one sided. But perhaps then I, as librarian, will strap you. Yes, I can do that even to the Head Girl, if it demands. But we had better not put any of this in the book. This way we both get to keep face and we have dealt with the other accordingly. May I suggest we don’t go mad, though, and let us stick to the standard punishment for being caught out of a dorm out of uniform; six swats?”

“Deal!” Said Jo as she stood up and began to slide down the side zipper on her trousers. “If it keeps it between us and stops the old Miss Meanwood from finding out about our boyfriends then I’m all for it. I’ll go first if you don’t mind. I hate being second. I suppose you are going to be like your Mum and insist on trousers down?”

“Standard for a punishment in trousers,” smiled Elaine. “You know the old bat as well as me. You have got an advantage over me, though. I’m wearing my long girdle. There is no way I can slip it down so you will get to slipper me over it. Trust me, that hurts so much more than on the bare.”

*          *          *

The morning really dragged on. Somehow Elaine had managed to stay awake during her English lesson and now she was battling to stay awake through a very long history lesson about the causes of the Russian revolution. Her bottom felt very sore and tender. Perhaps the discomfort and sitting on a hard wooden chair in a thin summer uniform was what was stopping her from getting comfortable enough to nod off.

‘Joanna certainly knows how to wield a slipper,’ she thought as she glanced across at the head girl sitting several rows in front of her. Jo was also fidgeting in her seat and looked in some discomfort too.

A knock at the classroom door saw a scruffy looking fifth form boy enter the room carrying a note. As Julian Finnegan stumbled across to the teacher some of the class giggled to themselves. Finnegan was the school joker, always in trouble for something. Mr Humphries looked at the note and, after telling the boy to tidy himself up, addressed the class.

“Meanwood and Spalding, you are both to report to the Headmistress’s study at once.”

The two girls quickly got up and hurriedly packed their belongings into their satchels. It wasn’t long before two very contrite young ladies stood before the headmistress, hands clasped tightly in front of them.

Miss Meanwood looked as formidable as ever. Even though it was the summer and the pupils were in summer uniform she still wore her usual tailored black suit and crisp white blouse. After a pause, which felt like an age, she looked up.

“Enjoy ourselves last night, did we? Both of you were out very late. It’s a wonder you are both still awake, especially considering nether of you had much sleep last night. What you were up to?”

Elaine gasped. How had her Mother found out? They had been so careful not to get caught and neither of them would go back on their deal. Someone had seen them and dropped them in it.

“So, Elaine,” began the headmistress. “Your car, it spent a long time parked in the car park next to the Ferryboat Hotel at Bowness last night. It arrived before eight pm and it left at one-fifteen this morning, in direct contravention of the district council ban on overnight parking. It’s a good job one of our former pupils works in the car parks office that issues fines from the CCTV footage. She noticed the Sphinx sticker on the rear window and, thinking it might be a member of staff, she unofficially contacted me to check before she processed the fine. You are lucky, you have avoided another fixed penalty notice for your inattention to civic parking regulations.”

Elaine mumbled. Without realising it, she began chewing on the end of her plait. She often did that when she was nervous.

“Sorry, Ma’am, I sort of forgot about the parking ban. Didn’t expect to be out that la…”

“Excuses! Excuses!” Interrupted Miss Meanwood. “I will ask you both for a explanation once I have laid out my case, although I’m more concerned with how you both handled the situation once you returned to school. Now we come to you, Spalding. Recognise this?”

The headmistress bent down and picked up a small cream leather handbag with a brown leather strap. She reached inside and pulled out a small purse with Joanna’s bus pass slid in the side wallet and an open packet of durex condoms.

“Shit!” Muttered Joanna. “I must have left it at the bottom of the fire escape when I caught Meanwood, and I suppose you have guessed why the condoms are there. At least I was being careful.”

Miss Meanwood frowned. Her face turned red with anger. She never shouted, she didn’t need to. Both girls were so intimidated by the power of her words, and her look said it all.

“So, my two most senior girls spent the evening acting like a couple of common tarts. Ladies, disappointment doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about you both. And then on your arrival back you both had the cheek to hatch a plan to keep your activities secret when you both knew it was your duty to report what you had found. Two wrongs will not make a right and it is for that reason I will punish you both.

“B-but we have both already been punished,” stammered Elaine. “I strapped Spalding and she slippered me. It blooming hurt too.”

“But you didn’t enter the punishments in the record book, did you?” Snapped the headmistress.

“What we have here, ladies, is a classic case of fraud and deception to save your own skins. I could remove you both from your pupil positions of trust and, Elaine, if I were to deal with you as staff this is a very serious matter indeed. You have broken one of the main guidelines in our school discipline policy. I would have to report you to the trustees. You would no doubt receive a final written warning or even worse. It’s a good job all this has happened on a Tuesday.”

Both girls gasped and looked at each other.

“So, Elaine Meanwood, sixth form Prefect. I shall cane you for being out of your bed well after lights out. Spalding, as head girl, you should have reported Elaine to me when you caught her. You will be caned for not correctly reporting to me the fact that you had cause to punish a member of the sixth form and that you attempted to hide your own nocturnal activities. I think six strokes each of the senior cane should suffice.”

Elaine’s heart sank. This was the second time she had been caned since she signed up as a mature student. She knew her mother’s ways with the cane; how she caned the girls hard with no mercy, even for her own daughter.

The Headmistress continued with her lecture.

“And as for your actions away from school, I do hope that you were both sensible enough to take the correct precautions. One Queen Anne baby born in the dormitory bathrooms is quite enough for any schools reputation.”

“B-but that was years ago,” protested Joanna. “As if we don’t get reminded about it enough when Matron gives us ‘that’ talk. Its why…”

“Silence!” Shouted Miss Meanwood as she showed a rare sign of her anger. “Consider yourselves both confined to the school grounds for the next month. That should cool off any passions for a while. You have both got important exams approaching and fast, and do not need any distractions from your studies. If your gentlemen friends are serious about you then I’m quite sure that they will understand and wait.”

Miss Meanwood got up. She walked across her study and opened a glass fronted cabinet. she took out a senior cane with a straight handle. She paused for a moment and removed her jacket and hung it on a stand next to the door.

“Blazers and hats off, girls,” she commanded.

The two girls complied. Elaine looked at Joanna.

“You first,” she whispered. “I know you hate waiting.”

Elaine, already predicting her Mother’s instructions, put her hands on her head and turned to face the wall.

“Okay then, Spalding, assume the position,” came the command. Elaine stared hard into the wall imagining Joanna lifting her gingham summer dress, lowering her white cotton knickers and bending over the Head Mistress’s desk.

SWISH-CRACK.

Joanna gasped.

“O-one, thankyou, Miss Meanwood.”

SWISH-CRACK.

“Owww. Two, thank you, Miss Meanwood.”

Elaine could sense Joanna was trying to be strong. She closed her eyes and tried to desperately think of something else. Joanna was right; this waiting made it so much worse.

SWISH-CRACK.

“Three, thank you, Miss Meanwood.”

The Headmistress put down her cane and paced around the room for a moment. The clicking of her heels on the floor just added to the tension, before she picked up the cane again and softly spoke.

“And three hard strokes to finish. There will be no need to count.”

SWISH-CRACK, SWISH-CRACK, SWISH-CRACK.

The sounds filled the room. Joanna cried out with each stroke.

“Ok, change over. Keep your hands on your head, Spalding, I don’t want to see you rubbing your bottom.”

The two girls changed over. Elaine lifted her dress, slid her knickers down her legs and gripped her mother’s desk firmly. Miss Meanwood looked for a moment at Elaine’s bottom. It was just starting to turn a crimson colour and was well bruised from her earlier slippering. She tapped the cane gently on its target.

“Oh, just get on with it,” muttered Elaine.

Miss Meanwood heard her.

“I ought to give you extra for that comment, Elaine. When will you learn?”

SWISH-CRACK, SWISH-CRACK, SWISH-CRACK.

Three very hard strokes crashed down. Elaine forgot any ideas she had about being strong and began to sob. She cried just like the first year girls did. Just like she did the first time she was caned.

SWISH-CRACK, SWISH-CRACK, SWISH-CRACK.

The final three strokes finished Elaine. She sobbed and cried. Her tender bottom felt on fire. Miss Meanwood put down her cane and gently helped her daughter to her feet.

“It had to be done, Elaine,” she whispered. “You are both dismissed. You both need to take a moment to compose yourselves. Elaine, take Joanna next door. You can both sit in our private sitting room until your next lesson.”

The headmistress sat down at her desk and began writing in a large blue covered leather book.

As the two girls left the study, Miss Meanwood looked up from the punishment book.

“As you know, it’s our annual staff and prefects formal dinner with St Marys on Saturday evening. You are both already invited. Will you be bringing a guest along?”

“I thought we were grounded, Ma’am?” Asked the Head Girl.

“I’ll let you off for the one night, but don’t stay out too late,” said Miss Meanwood with a twinkle in her eye. “And if you are back before me, Elaine, please don’t wait up.”

Elaine closed the study door and looked at Joanna.

“I’m an idiot! I’ve just realised. So that’s how she found us out. The penny has just dropped. Mum’s car wasn’t back when I got in. It’s normally hard to get in my space if hers is there, but it wasn’t. I drove straight in. I didn’t realise the importance of it at the time. She must have followed us back in and sneaked up the fire escape too, thinking I was in bed and not wanting to wake me when she came in. That’s how she found your handbag. All that rubbish about CCTV in car parks in Bowness, I doubt very much if we have an old pupil in the control room. I’ve been fined by the council before so why would they let me off this time? She probably spotted my car parked up. The old devil. She is no better than us!”

“What are you saying, Elaine?” whispered Joanna as she lifted her gingham dress and rubbed her bottom.

Elaine smiled. “It looks like my Mum has got a boyfriend too!”

The End

© Tara Patterson 2017