Clarice Edmonds Plays Truant

Extenuating circumstances mean a special punishment.

By Jane Fairweather

“Oh, not again!” Miss Carson snapped. “Why does Clarice Edmonds need all these advanced music lessons? It is not as if there are that many job openings for female cellists in the year of our lord, Nineteen Hundred and Twenty-Five.”

“Headmistress,” Jo Bell replied. “It is obvious to me every time I hear her play that Clarice has very real talent, and her father seems very willing to put her through the Royal College of Music when we have finished with her here. I think we should be doing everything we can to support her.”

“On the contrary, it is a total waste of money!” Miss Carson snarled. “Clarice Edmonds is a pretty young flibbertigibbet, who will rapidly end up flat on her back with some penniless husband, producing rather too many babies. I have seen it all before. And is Thursday evening through to Sunday evening really necessary? It seems a very long time for a few music lessons. I thought these lamentable visits to her teacher usually went from Friday evening till Saturday evening and she stayed with her Aunt in town on Friday so as to be fresh for the lesson on Saturday.”

“Yes Headmistress, it is longer than normal, but her teacher, as I understand it, is arranging for her to play with an orchestra, a string orchestra for ladies, who are giving a concert early on Sunday afternoon. They are rehearsing all day Saturday, so Clarice’s lesson is going to be on Friday instead of Saturday as normal. It is all here in her Father’s letter, if you want to see it.”

From long experience, she thought it most unlikely Miss Carson would bother to read the letter, but for a moment Jo Bell trembled as Miss Carson seemed to hesitate longer than normal before saying as she always did: “Well, you are Miss Edmonds’ house mistress, and provided you are satisfied then so am I, and there is no need to show me the letter.”

Then Miss Carson added rather sententiously: “I cannot say that I approve of the girl spending so much time on Music with so little likely benefit, but if her Father insists I cannot really say no. It is not as if it is a question of Sport, after all. I suppose there is a slight chance she might make a living out of playing the cello. If it were Tennis or Hockey, I would say no. Excellent as recreations in school, of course, but a total waste of time if they take our girls away from their academic work. As you know, I always refuse permission for pupils who have the chance to play for the County. I suppose this is about music and not sport, Miss Bell? I am aware Clarice is not at all bad at tennis. Doesn’t she hold the Smythe cup at the moment? Not that I take a lot of interest in such things.”

“Yes, Miss Carson, it has nothing to do with tennis, I can assure you of that.”

“Well give her permission then, I suppose we shall have to live with it. Incidentally those two nasty bullies from your house that you very rightly drew my attention to are going to have their bare bottoms very soundly slippered this evening at six o’clock.”

Jo flinched. She really did not like corporal punishment on principle, but on the other hand Sue Maitland and Judy Mainwaring (the two M’s as they were universally known) had really asked for it on this occasion. She had lectured them twice about their horrible teasing of Sally Smith with no result, and a visit to the headmistress had finally seemed to be the only solution. She started to wonder why today at six o’clock had been fixed as the time for the two girls’ punishment, when she had sent them to the Head on Monday morning, but then Miss Carson suddenly added: “I always carry out corporal punishment at six on Wednesday, in case you are wondering, Miss Bell. It means that they usually have a day or two to think about their crimes before the punishment expiates their sin. You’re probably not aware of it; I think it is the first time you have had to send someone to me, isn’t it? Or is it the second? Or possibly the third? Anyway, it is a long time since I heard from you on such a matter, which suggests you are very well in control of your house.”

“Thank you, Miss Carson, it is the third.” Jo replied awkwardly, imagining Susan Maitland’s small bottom getting redder and redder under the impact of the Headmistress’s tennis shoe that was strangely called ‘the slipper’. Susan would not be that brave, she suspected, and there would be a lot of tears, whereas her partner in crime had a larger bottom and was altogether tougher and in all likelihood would suffer less.

“I think that is everything we have to discuss, isn’t it Miss Bell?” Miss Carson was booming.

“Yes, of course Miss Carson. Thank you for giving Clarice permission, I am sure she will be very grateful.”

“Much good may it do!” Miss Carson retorted. “You can go Miss Bell.”

*          *          *

“So she really bought it and I can go! Thank you so much, Miss Bell! You really are wonderful.”

The lithe athletic figure of Clarice Edmonds threw herself from one armchair in her housemistress’s study to the other and passionately embraced Jo, who it must be admitted was not that averse to the feel of Clarice’s pretty young body through her thin night gown and did not immediately brush her off. However, she was sensible enough to know that there are limits to relationships between mistresses and girls.

“Come on, drink your cocoa!” she said, firmly pushing a reluctant Clarice away.

Clarice obediently subsided back into her own armchair, looking very slightly hurt.

“As far as I am concerned, it is a great honour and it is absurd we have to lie to the Head about it,” said Jo very deliberately. “It is not every day that one of our girls gets to play in a game of national importance. Not that I lied completely. You are having a cello lesson and you are not playing tennis, which is what I told her.  However, if it should ever come up, do please remember that you are playing in a string 0rchestra on Sunday afternoon and rehearsing all day Saturday. Do you think you can remember that? It is important that you do remember all that; my job might depend on it. Not to mention your place in this school.”

“Yes of course Miss Bell. If it comes out, I won’t get the slipper, will I?”

“If it comes out,” said Jo dryly, “I imagine that both our feet are going to be lucky to touch the ground. No, it is very unlikely that you will get the slipper, or me for that matter; we will just be chucked out.”

“I think Susan Maitland is still crying. At least she was about eight o’clock.” Clarice said very uneasily. The slippering of the two M’s had clearly made an impression.

“And Judy?” Jo asked matter of factly.

“Her eyes were pretty red when she came back and she was very upset.”

“It is not a nice punishment, but they deserved it.” Jo said, very slightly defensively.

“I wish she did not take our knickers down,” Clarice said. “That must be so embarrassing.”

Jo, to her own embarrassment, found herself imagining having to slipper Clarice. She thought of the shapely curve of the girl’s buttocks when they were exposed to the light, and the cream white of the soft skin turning redder and redder. However, there were more important things to think about.

“Your music teacher’s wife is going to be there to chaperone you, isn’t she?” She asked. “I am not altogether happy about your not being able to stay with your aunt, especially when there are three nights involved.”

“Of course, Miss. My Dad has arranged it. You’ve seen his letter. I think there is my cello teacher’s daughter there as well, and I will probably be sharing with her. And anyway it is much nearer to the cricket than if I was staying at my Aunt’s. And I have got to be there for my lesson on Sunday anyway.”

“Well, let us hope that it all goes off without any trouble! But for now you had better drink up your cocoa like a good girl and get off to bed. With this important match coming up, you are going to need your sleep.” Jo concluded the chat.

*          *          *

At three o’clock that Saturday afternoon, Miss Clarice Edmonds was feeling rather less than happy with life. She was, it was true, the ‘baby’ of the South women’s cricket team in their match against the Midlands, and perhaps she could not expect everything at once, but the rather large and pompous Miss Edith May, the Captain of the South, who was over thirty years old, seemed to treat her as if she did not exist. Even when she had scored a very valuable twenty-three not out in the South’s second innings, she had received barely a word of praise. And she had only been asked to bowl three overs of off-spin in the first innings on a damp wicket, which she had felt ideally suited to her style of bowling. She had taken a wicket and promptly been taken off. And now the Midlands, in their second innings, were within thirty runs of victory and had seven wickets left.

“Miss Edmonds, perhaps you’d like to have a go. I don’t think we are going to beat them. It’s your first match for us isn’t it; you may as well get some practice and bowl till it’s all over.” Miss May was saying with total condescension and defeatism.

Still at least she was being given the ball!

“I want people in close catching positions,” she said very firmly. “I should be able to turn the ball with this damp in the wicket.”

“I doubt if you will be able to do much, dear,” said Miss May. “It is just not our day! Everything has gone all ends up all through the match. And you are just a beginner. Still at least we might get tea sooner if I give you your close catchers.”

With her second ball she got between the bat and pad of the Midland’s captain and bowled her comprehensively. Three balls after that, the ball spat horribly from a length and caught the edge, and First Slip held on to a difficult catch.

And so it went on. Clarice took six of the last seven wickets for eleven runs and to their amazement the South had won by nine runs.

She was rather unceremoniously carried off the field to the real applause of the small group of spectators.

In the dressing room it got decidedly rowdy.

“How old are you Clarice?” Someone said; she never discovered who it was.

“Eighteen, nearly nineteen,” she said.

“Bet she has not had any proper birthday pats!” the same voice said.

She did not hear ‘pats’ properly and thought, “Oh God, not birthday bumps!” which had been an annual ritual at school that she really loathed.

“It is not even my birthday!” She protested.

“Come on Edith, you do it, before she gets too big for her boots. She’d better have it for both years if she is nearly nineteen. That’s thirty-seven, isn’t it?”

“No!” she protested, starting to move towards the door.

However the team collectively hauled her over the captain’s capacious knee. To her intense embarrassment, she felt her white pleated skirt being lifted and her knickers lowered. A hard hand descended thirty-seven times to the sound of the numbers being slowly chanted, and it stung a lot. She managed not to cry.

“They always do it during your first match.” Ellie Pearce, who was quite close in age to her, explained gently over tea. “It’s the tradition; I didn’t like it much either, but in an odd way it means you are accepted. Don’t worry, it does not mean that they don’t appreciate your bowling.”

“I suppose so,” said Clarice dubiously, wriggling somewhat and reflecting it was her first spanking. It had undoubtedly hurt. She wondered why Edith had been so mean; she could just have patted her, but it had been a real punishment as near as made no difference.

*          *          *

It was about eleven-thirty on Monday morning and Clarice was just thinking that if she did not hear anything soon she would have got away with her little escapade. Anyway, the only person who really knew where she had been was Miss Bell, with whom she had something close to a pash. Jo Bell would simply not tell on her. Perhaps it was an unlucky thought, for at that moment Miss Taylor, the pretty young school secretary who was wearing a quite beautiful red summer dress that set off her auburn hair very well, strode cheerfully in to Upper Sixth French and announced, “Clarice Edmunds is needed by the headmistress if Miss Johnson does not mind.”

Clarice followed her out into the corridor in a state of total panic, longing to run away somewhere, anywhere, but not daring to do it.

“I’ve got to get Miss Bell as well. I expect you can make your own way to the Head’s study. Just wait outside, would you? I know Miss Carson wants to see you both together. I expect it is something about Calverly House.” Miss Taylor said with annoying cheeriness and then strode off in search of Jo Bell.

So Clarice found herself walking down the corridor towards the Headmistress’s study, barely able to think and with her heart pounding as if it was going to burst. Then, as she approached Miss Carson’s door, it struck her that quite probably this was nothing to do with her having truanted to play cricket. After all, how could Miss Carson know? With any luck she was worrying about nothing. After that, Clarice calmed down and thought how silly she was being.

Then Jo arrived with Miss Taylor, and the secretary was ushering them into the head’s study without giving them time to exchange any words.

“Each of you, fetch yourselves a chair.” Miss Carson was saying.

Jo and Clarice rather uncomfortably fetched the two wooden chairs from the side of the room and put them in front of the headmistress’s desk. Jo was uneasy that Clarice had not been asked to fetch both chairs. Could this mean she was in trouble as well as Clarice? Or were they neither of them in trouble and Miss Carson was just treating Clarice like an adult? It struck Clarice that she knew the two M’s had been slippered bent over the back of a chair like these, which was an uncomfortable thought, but it seemed unlikely to say the least that a mistress was going to get slippered.

“Now for goodness sake sit on them.” Miss Carson snapped.

They sat. Clarice, who was still slightly sore, wriggled a little. Miss Carson reached for the copy of the London Times that was sitting on her desk and rather deliberately opened it.

Then she started to read, “The victory of The Midlands seemed pretty well assured when the match was turned on its head by a remarkable spell of off-spin bowling  by Clarice Edmonds, playing in her first match for The South, who took six wickets for eleven runs in five overs and three balls. Miss Edmonds is still a pupil at the St Hilda School for Girls, Tonbridge, Kent.

“Well, Miss Edmonds, this is the first time that a pupil at this school has been mentioned in the London Times, and I suppose I must congratulate you.  It will be very good publicity for us. And partly because of that, and partly because in its way it seems a remarkable achievement, much as I dislike that awful, boring  game Cricket, I am not going to expel you. I am only sorry that your father thought it necessary to write such awful lies to Miss Bell. At least I presume that was what happened, Miss Bell. Oh, don’t answer that, I would not wish to incriminate you; it would only mean losing a very good housemistress.

“So, what are we going to do? Well, officially nothing. Miss Edmonds, you played in this match with the full knowledge and consent of the school and you will be congratulated in Assembly tomorrow, provided, that is, you accept a jolly good  unofficial spanking from Miss Bell this evening, which will be administered on your bare behind, but will not appear in the punishment book. Failure to accept that punishment, or just going through the motions of a punishment, will either way mean Miss Bell losing her job, which I am sure you would not want. And in case you are wondering, I have already given your father a piece of my mind on the phone; and he has agreed that this is perhaps the simplest solution to this very odd situation. And, Miss Bell, I strongly suggest you use a hair brush; it is much more effective than a woman’s hand, as I learnt when I was a child. Good day to you both. I shall be looking with interest for the signs of large quantities of tears in Miss Edmund’s pretty face.”

Clarice and Jo staggered out into the corridor and by silent mutual consent made their way to Jo’s study, shut the door and sat down in the facing armchairs.

“This is mad!” Said Jo. “But unfortunately I think she means it and I will have to give you a real spanking, even though neither of us have the slightest desire for it to happen. How are you with spankings? Have you ever had one?”

“Till the other day I would have said I had never had a spanking, but they gave me quite a hard one as a sort of welcome to the team. Actually I did not cry, but I think the captain of the South, Miss May, really does not like me and she made a pretty thorough job of it.”

“What an odd woman!” Said Jo bursting into giggles, despite the seriousness of the situation, or perhaps because of it.

“It was not that funny!”

“Sorry, I should not have laughed, but it sounds so absurd. Look Clarice, how close to crying were you? It is clear our delightful headmistress expects me to get you to the point where you have very obviously been crying your eyes out. Not that I want to do it, but I think it is the only way out for both of us.”

“Not that close and they counted thirty-seven spanks.”

“And she was not just treating it as a game and patting you? You are sure about that?” Jo enquired in something close to desperation. If Clarice was right, it was going to take a lot of spanking to get her favourite girl to cry her eyes out and she really did not want to do it.

“It hurt!” Said Clarice with some feeling. “And I am still a bit tender now.”

“Anyway, why in god’s name thirty-seven spanks?” Jo asked, half wishing she had been there to witness this strange scene.

“It was supposed to be for my birthday, but I said I was eighteen and nearly nineteen and somebody added them together, which was mean.”

“Very mean!” Said Jo, who was again having trouble not giggling.

“Anyway, I suppose you had better keep it going till I just cannot take it anymore, though it will be an awful lot of spanks. Perhaps using the hairbrush like she suggested might help.”

“It would almost certainly be quicker.” Jo agreed. “I got it occasionally from my Mother. She used to push me over the back of the sofa and whack me on the seat of my drawers half a dozen or so times. Actually, after the first couple of times it was not very effective. The pain was not that severe and I did not cry that much, if at all, and I am afraid I liked the feeling you got afterwards. Still, I suppose if we do it bare and I keep it going till you are well and truly crying we can carry out the Head’s stupid edict, not that I want to.”

“Would the cane be any quicker? I don’t like the idea of it going on forever and I don’t like the idea of getting it bare.” Clarice was sounding as desperate as Jo felt.

“Well certainly I kept my knickers on when it happened to me, but a real caning is pretty grim!” Jo said dubiously. “I only ever had one and I have never forgotten it. My brothers and I were involved in some silly petty theft from one of our neighbours. We just did it because it was a daring thing to do. I think we even had plans to put the things back. Anyway, my Father found out and very soundly punished us. My brothers got eight and I got six, and brother did I yell! It stung so much and I burned for ages afterwards. I really did sleep on my stomach for several nights and I still feel slightly shaky at the memory. I think it is why I am so reluctant to send girls for the slipper.”

“But did you cry?”

“Yes, buckets!” Said Jo wincing at the memory.

“Sounds a lot quicker than a spanking that goes on forever. Dear Miss Bell will you do it for me? It would be a lot simpler and quicker for both of us.”

“I suppose I can slip into town and get a cane. I am free for most of the afternoon.” Said Jo very dubiously. “Actually, I had better get two; my father broke one of his, didn’t he? But are you sure about this, Clarice? It is not a nice punishment.”

“I will come for cocoa at nine o’clock, like I often do, in my nighty and dressing gown. I suppose I will have to take my dressing gown off, won’t I?”

“I suppose so,” said Jo, wishing she felt more enthusiasm for this, to say the least, unorthodox solution.

“I think I will leave my knickers off as well; they might give me too much protection and I might not cry.”

“Up to you!” Said Jo, shuddering slightly and hoping that Clarice had as high a threshold of pain as she seemed to think that she had.

*          *          *

“I am sorry to cut you off in mid flow, but if you don’t mind, girls, I think you had better go now; I’ve got some things I really have to deal with.” Jo said rather awkwardly to the two chattery Third Formers, who were there to discuss some matters to do with the Calverly House junior quiz team and were showing signs of lingering. She did not want anyone in the room after a quarter to nine, in case Clarice arrived early.

“Of course, Miss Bell. Can we finish talking about it another time? It’s jolly hard choosing the team.”

“Yes of course, Jane. We will sort it out, don’t worry; but I really have got things to do now.”

Jane Smith and Elizabeth Halliday duly departed.

Somehow neither of them closed the study door and Jo was faintly amused to hear Elizabeth saying, “I bet someone is in for a real lecture. I bet it is a Senior. I wonder who it is.”

Jo shut the door, feeling slightly relieved that Clarice was not there for them to see and draw their conclusions about who was in trouble.

She very reluctantly opened the cupboard in which she had hidden the two canes in the brown paper that she had insisted on the shop wrapping them in, and took them out of the wrapping. Both were beautifully straight. In their way, they were rather good pieces of craftsmanship, though simply touching them made her shudder a little. She gave some consideration to how to do this dire thing. Her father had bent her over the side of an armchair, hadn’t he? She remembered clutching the cushion of the chair for dear life. Having just watched her normally tough brothers get extremely worked up, she had been in no doubt that this was going to be pretty grim. She remembered the horrible waves of pain and the sound of her own voice yelling. Well, Clarice had asked for it, and now she was going to get it. Jo wondered how many strokes it would take to get the tears really flowing. She was certainly not going to continue the punishment beyond that and she was hopeful it would be as few as three or four.

She put a cushion on the side of the armchair and worked out the position she needed to stand in to send the cane swishing into the target area with maximum force. This was harder than it appeared and it took her a good five minutes and a fair number of attempts before she was satisfied. She deliberately dropped a copy of Palgrave’s Golden Treasury on the floor to remind her where she needed to put her left foot and leaned the two canes against the bookcase.

Then she sat uncomfortably in her own armchair and thought about the very awkward further conversation with Miss Carson, which had taken place about seven o’clock.

The Headmistress had put her head round the study door without bothering to knock and asked, “How did Miss Edmunds take her come-uppance?”

“It has not happened yet, Miss Carson. We agreed nine o’clock.”

“Rather late in the day, isn’t it/ Really, Miss Bell, I would have thought you could have got it over with sooner. Anyway, I shall be putting my head into her room about ten and if there are not sufficient signs of a punishment having taken place she will be given a train ticket home in the morning, there will be no moment of triumph in Assembly and you will be on a month’s notice. Do I make myself clear?”

“Perfectly clear, Miss Carson!” Jo had replied, realizing that any lingering hopes of cheating over the punishment had just vanished.

Since then, her stomach had been churning almost as much as if she was the prospective victim. However, there seemed nothing to do except carry out this punishment with reasonable efficiency, whether she wanted to or not.

She glanced at the clock, which said just after five to nine, and just as she was wondering if Clarice was going to be on time, there was a knock at the door. Presumably Clarice was early and wanted to get it over with.

For a moment Jo pretended that she was out and did not get up to open the door. Then she steeled herself to do it, half hoping it was someone else, perhaps even Miss Carson to say Clarice was let off her punishment after all.

However, it was Clarice in her ankle length white night dress with a brown woollen dressing gown over it that went down to her knees. As always, her black ivory hair, which she wore down to her shoulders, looked lovely. Jo deliberately turned the key in the lock, not wanting anyone to walk in during the next few minutes.

Clarice glanced round the room and said rather wryly, “So that is what a real cane looks like; I have always wondered.”

“Do you want to get it over now, or would you like cocoa first?” Jo asked, realizing she was sounding ridiculous, and knowing she was just making another excuse to put the thing off and give Miss Carson the chance to appear and say the punishment was off.

“Oh Lord, NO! PLEASE, let’s get it over with, the sooner the better. I am dreading this. If you keep me waiting I might make a fool of myself. What do I have to do, Miss.”

‘Oh well, no getting out of it now!’ Jo thought to herself.

“Take off your dressing gown and then bend over the side of the armchair that you normally sit in.”

Clarice complied. Jo thought for a ridiculous moment that she had not specified which side of the armchair Clarice was to bend over, and all her preparations could be for nothing. However, Clarice bent over exactly as Joe had anticipated she would do, except she had put her hands on the other arm of the chair and not the seat. Jo noticed you could see the girl’s very pretty bottom very clearly through her cotton nightie. The buttocks were quite full at the top, but curved apart at the lower end. It seemed to Jo that the nightie was rather loose, so she walked up to tuck it between the girl’s legs.

“Please, not my bare bottom! I hate the idea of my bare bottom. It was one reason I said I would take the cane. Please Miss!” Clarice wailed with a singular lack of dignity as soon as her house mistress touched her night dress.

“Calm down, I am just tucking your nightie between your legs so it does not get in the way. Look, it will soon be over.” Jo said, reflecting she was feeling anything but calm herself.

Clarice submitted, much to her housemistress’s relief. Jo went over to the bookcase, picked up the cane that had seemed the swishier in her experiments and walked over to where she had put the Golden Treasury. She put her left foot against the book and raised the cane, aimed it at the middle of the girl’s buttocks and sent it swishing with a full swing of her arm. There was a suppressed yell and she noticed the bottom had moved down toward the chair and then back up. She waited hopefully for the sound of tears, but there was none. She swished it again, if anything even harder, aiming lower this time.

“Streuth, that hurt!” Said the anguished voice of Clarice, again thrusting up and down and beginning to move her feet about, but there was still no sound of tears.

Jo waited for the feet to stop shifting, tucked the night dress up again and administered the third stroke. She meant it to land just below the second, but Clarice moved position slightly and the cane caught the crease between bottom and thighs, producing a strange animal noise and considerable wriggling.

Jo waited hopefully for the noise of sobbing, but there was none. How many more strokes of this ridiculous punishment was it going to take to make the girl weep?

“Harder please, harder!” Clarice was blathering, presumably thinking the same very awkward thought.

“I can’t do it any harder. Can’t you just make yourself cry, please!” Jo exclaimed in sheer exasperation.

“Give me one more stroke like this, then if I don’t start crying you’d better take my nightdress up, even if I did not want you to.”

Jo tucked up the nightie yet again before putting a major effort into the fourth stroke, which scythed into the lower bottom and produced something close to a scream, but still no real tears.

“Take it up!” Clarice said desperately.

“Are you sure?” Jo asked very uneasily.

“Yes, I am quite sure; it is just not hurting quite enough; it almost is. We are going to be here all night unless you do.”

Jo rather doubted this, but nevertheless it seemed desirable to get the punishment over, so she pulled the night dress up as high on the girl’s long back as she could manage. Then she methodically positioned herself, left foot against the Golden Treasury and looked at her target. She noticed that the angry welts were swelling rapidly, but also that Clarice’s bottom was as pretty as she had always imagined it might be.

“Right, are you ready for this? This is really going to hurt.”

“Ready as I will ever be, Miss!”

Jo felt a certain odd fascination that was difficult to explain as she very systematically lined up the cane to cross the first four welts. Then she brought it down and the girl jumped in the air and shrieked. There was the sound, at long last, of very slight sobbing, but it was very slight.

“I will have to go on, the Head said ‘real tears’,” Jo said desperately.

“Sorry, Miss, I will try and cry a bit more.”

Jo swished the cane into the soft white flesh at the top of the girl’s thighs. There was a screech of agony and the girl had jumped up and was clutching her marks, but she was not, by any stretch of the imagination, in uncontrollable tears.

Jo gently but firmly bent her over again, pulled up the night dress, which had slipped down, and administered two searing strokes in rapid succession. This, for some reason, worked and there was the sound of uncontrollable blubbering. Jo glanced at the rather odd pattern the cane had made on these very pretty buttocks, then thought it was only decent to pull the night dress down, and did so.

Clarice stayed slumped over the chair for some while. Jo, for want of anything else to do, made them both cocoa in her small kitchen, wondering as she did it if either of them would drink it. When she came back, Clarice had finally stood up and was staggering round the room still clutching her bottom with the tears rolling down her cheeks.

“God I am on fire!” Said Clarice. “Please, I don’t want cocoa. Please Miss, have you anything to cool me down?”

Jo thought frantically. Face cream, yes that might do it. She rushed into her minute bedroom and found some.

“Just lie across my lap and I will rub it in for you.” She said firmly.

Clarice pulled her own night dress up before complying, and Jo rubbed in almost the whole jar. She could definitely feel the heat rising from the welts.

“That is so much better. Thank you so much, Miss. I might even be able to drink some cocoa now, Miss, though I am throbbing like anything.”

Clarice seemed to be getting over her ordeal with ridiculous speed, Jo decided cynically. But not quite, perhaps, because when she drank her cocoa Clarice stayed standing up.

“You’d better go to your room now, Clarice. Apart from anything, Miss Carson will look in on you, if she does as she said.” Jo explained rather awkwardly.

“Oh Lord! She is not really going to look in, is she?”

“Fraid so!”

“Thank you so much for helping me, Miss.” Clarice said, picking up her dressing gown.

“I should think so too.” Jo said dryly.

*          *          *

No more than twenty minutes later, Jo was getting ready for bed and there was a knock on her door. It was Miss Carson, wanting a cup of tea. Jo thought it was rather late for cups of tea, but she provided it and the two women sat down in the two arm chairs and exchanged school gossip of one sort or another.

Then Miss Carson suddenly said, “That was quite a caning you gave the Edmunds girl. Whatever possessed you? I told you to spank her with a hairbrush.”

“She insisted that I caned her because you said you wanted proof of real tears and she said that she would not cry enough if she just had the hairbrush and anyway it would take too long.”

“Yes, that was more or less what she said to me, but I find it very hard to believe. Most girls crack after half a dozen with a hairbrush or the slipper. I know I always did. And the cane is so severe, not that I have ever had it myself. I only hope Miss Edmunds is not one of these odd creatures who enjoy pain. But I do hope that you aren’t too upset by having to carry out such a severe punishment. It must have been awful for you, Miss Bell. Such a stupid girl to insist you did it!”

“It wasn’t nice, but I will live.” Said Jo, restraining herself from explaining that she was upset, but also oddly aroused; it had been a very strange experience.

“Well at least she accepts the punishment and seems to think that she thoroughly deserved it, and I don’t think we are going to have any complaints from her parents or anything like that, though with another girl it might be very different. I would be grateful if you would not repeat the experiment, Miss Bell. It might not go so well next time. Anyway, thank you for dealing with a difficult situation well. Oh, I loathe cricket, but I suppose we shall have to get used to having a distinguished cricketer in the school. Ah well, good night Miss Bell.”

Jo crawled into bed and found herself replaying the whole bizarre day. She kept remembering the strange pattern of marks on that pretty bottom, which she really had seen and imagining the spanking after the cricket match, which she had not seen. She found herself feeling oddly envious of Miss Evans. If the chance ever came to pat Clarice’s pretty behind she would enjoy doing it, she decided; but sadly it seemed an unlikely hope.

Through her half sleep she heard a knock on her door. She staggered out of bed and found it was Clarice.

“I can’t sleep Miss. I know it sounds silly, but could I please cuddle up with you? I think it would make it easier to sleep.”

Jo hesitated, feeling it was not quite proper, then decided that in the odd circumstances perhaps it would do no harm.

“If you really must, then you can,” she said. “But it is not that large a bed and when you have calmed down a bit you had better go back to yours.”

She found herself cuddling the girl and feeling the constant throbbing almost as if it was coming from both their bodies.

In later years, neither of them could remember who started the kissing, but certainly it was Jo who said, “Clarice, I should not be in love with you, but I am,” and certainly it was Clarice’s fingers that started playing Jo’s body like a cello. And certainly it was the strange beginning of a most passionate affair.

The End

© Jane Fairweather 2018

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