Dianna

A girl joins a new school and finds it an extreme learning experience

By Angela Fox

Prologue

It is funny how sometimes, in the early morning, you wake up remembering a very wonderful dream and wish it could go on.  A dream so vivid and colourful that every detail is clear, though as you blink your eyes and become aware of your surroundings and come to understand that you have only been dreaming, those very details start to fade.  And as it fades there is a tinge of sadness that the wonderful things you were experiencing are disappearing and you feel an emptiness in their passing.

As I awoke I had that feeling, yet this morning, as I glanced at the alarm clock and saw that it was a quarter to six, I realised I was still immensely happy.  My dream was nothing more than an actual memory; a memory of the first day I met Dianna, the woman who even now I was cuddled into, her golden hair splayed out across the pillow.  She was still asleep, which reminded me of the end of that fateful day in 1966.

Chapter 1 – A New School

I was seventeen, an A level student who found herself at a brand-new school in that late October. My aunt Sylvia, who was my guardian, had had to move because of her career and she had no alternative but to take me with her. Actually, Sylvia wasn’t really an aunt. She had just been a close friend to my mother and, when my mother had died when I was only four, she had taken me in and had now looked after me for going on thirteen years. I loved her dearly, but when she was promoted to high court judge, a judge in a new city, it was obvious to both of us that her only alternative was to leave Manchester, and move us both to Plymouth. And because her new promotion to High Court Judge meant she would have little time to be available for me, I would be placed in a boarding school relatively near by.

To be honest, I didn’t mind the idea of a boarding school as such. I had an ambition of becoming a scientist, and the school I had been at in Wythenshawe, while giving me enough support to do well at O’level, didn’t really have a good track record when it came to the A’ levels. It was thus a little fortunate that Aunt Sylvia had gotten her promotion and was re-located to Plymouth which happened to be relatively close to the private school she herself had attended. She told me it was one of the best schools in England, though she said it might have changed from her day when it was a little strict.

St Anne’s boarding school for girls supposedly had one of the best academic success rates in the country, though, as I was to learn first-hand, Aunt Sylvia was wrong about any changes in strictness. Its methods weren’t a little strict as she had suggested, instead they were incredibly strict, particularly when it came to discipline. The mandated uniform and the book of regulations that arrived in the post a few days before I started should have warned me.

The uniform, which Sylvia confirmed hadn’t changed in any way since she had attended, was, from my own point of view, ridiculously unfashionable. In Wythenshawe I had worn a simple grey skirt and collared blouse. We were supposed to wear ties but often didn’t, or if we did we wore them with the collar open and the tie knot generally just above our breasts. I certainly never heard of anyone being punished for not wearing a tie correctly.

St Anne’s was a different kettle of fish all together. The uniform consisted of a long-sleeved, white collared shirt that had to be starched and ironed. All buttons were to be done up, including the collar, and the school tie, a red and navy-blue striped thing, had to be tied neatly and snugly at the neck, hiding the collar button. On my first day, I was awarded fifty lines by a prefect for showing a little white between the knot and the top of my collar. It was also possible to receive a similar punishment for allowing any of your tie to be showing below the collar at the back!

Over the shirt, instead of wearing skirt or trousers, we had to wear a sleeveless dress called a gymslip. It was like a bibbed dress with two broad straps over the shoulders producing a square neck line that allowed the top three inches of our ties to show. There were three large thick box pleats front and back that hung down from just about the nipple line and as it hung over our breasts, it looked rather like a navy-blue serge wool sack. It was inordinately heavy and awfully warm in summer, though nice and warm for those long winters. We had to wear long white knee-high socks and the hem of the gymslip had to hang below the tops of our socks.

The only shape to the outfit was that there was a two-button cloth belt around our waist which pulled the gymslip in, and over this went a woollen ribbon or girdle in one of the house colours. Mine was red. The pleats of the gymslip were heavily ironed into the garment and had to be knife edged. This meant every morning, before we put them on, we had to iron the damned things into place. Woe betided you if the pleats were not neat and straight when presenting yourself for morning assembly where prefects were instructed to pull girls out of line if their appearance was anything less than impeccable.

We of course had a navy school blazer, though it was made more childish by being ringed with red ribbon sewn around the edges, and over the pockets and around the sleeves. The uniform included a navy and red striped woollen scarf, a hooded, belted, double-breasted navy-blue gaberdine rain coat and a navy coloured pudding bowl shaped felt hat with a red ribbon around it. All in all, the uniform looked like something out of a St Trinian’s movie except the hem line was far too low. Remember this was in an era of Carnaby Street, miniskirts and Twiggy. Fashionable it was not!

I remember that morning getting into my uniform, including the raincoat, feeling very hot under the stiff and stifling starched collar waiting for the cab to arrive to take me to school with my darling aunt telling me how wonderful I looked. Although I loved her dearly, I wanted to kill her, and though I wanted a good school, the uniform was making me re-think the whole idea. It was raining hard, (wasn’t it always?) and there I was in my gaberdine Mac just wanting to run away. My trunk, stuffed with more items of this horrible uniform, a few mandatory books for the subjects I was taking and a tennis racquet, stood in the hallway and I was hoping I wouldn’t have to lug it into the cab and the school. Fortunately, the cabbie was, just, able to lift it into the boot of his car and, once at the school, porters whisked my trunk away to my room at school.

The school was set in a huge stone mansion house that had once belonged to the Earl of Devon. It was the sort of place that was full of nooks and crannies, with classrooms and common rooms for the different forms seemingly scattered in random order. There were also several large outbuildings, four of which were dormitories for us boarders. A grand entrance, which I later learned was only for staff and sixth formers, of which I was one, led into a magnificent hallway with a grand staircase leading up to a large balcony off of which corridors spread God knew where.

Apparently, Aunt Sylvia was God because, without hesitation, she crashed through the staff entrance leading me in tow, and I followed her up the grand staircase to the second floor where she stopped in front of a large wood panelled door which said, ‘Mrs. Margaret Benson; School Secretary and Miss Veronica Mayfield, Assistant Secretary’. After a perfunctory knock on the door she barged right in and rather shocked an older lady across a desk stacked high with files and telephones and a large typewriter.

She smiled at the woman behind the desk and said, “Ahh, hello. I am Sylvia Wolstenholme and this is my ward Laura Preston. I believe we are a few minutes late for our appointment with Miss Haversham. The weather adversely affected our journey. Would you please offer her my apologies and announce that we have arrived?”

The secretary said, “Oh yes. Miss Haversham is indeed expecting you. Let me just announce you.”  She picked up her telephone and was just about to press a button when the mahogany panelled door to her right opened and a tallish woman in a smart, blue, pin-striped business suit and white scarf tie blouse, appeared. She had a thin face with long black shiny hair tied back in a pony tail.

She was smiling and said, “Don’t worry Margaret, I heard.” Then she turned to my Aunt and said, “Ahh, hello Sylvia, or should I call you The Honourable Ms Justice Wolstenholme?”

My Aunt grinned. “Rachel, if you say that every time you speak to me we shall never get anywhere. We have known each other since we were at this school together so let’s not change tradition. Sylvia will do.”

Very Well,” smiled Miss Haversham, “And is that your niece?” she asked, holding out her hand which I shook, vaguely surprised at her grip.

“I like to think of her as my niece but we aren’t actually related by blood. But this is Laura and I thought I would accompany her today. It will be a bit of a sharp change for her, but she is very gifted and I think she will be a credit to the school. However, I am also grateful you were able to find room for her.”

“Well, let us go inside my study and have a little chat. I can also give Laura a run down on what she can expect from us.”

She waved us inside, closing the door behind us. Her study, or office, was quite large, wood panelled with a bay window on the wall opposite the door we entered. It held a small settee with matching white leather armchairs on either side and a coffee table in between. To the right was her large mahogany desk with a leather winged-back executive style chair, behind which was another large bay window overlooking the school playing fields beyond. I couldn’t honestly see much because it was misty outside and the rain was still teeming down. My attention instead was rather taken by a wicker Alibaba jar in the corner from which protruded several canes of the punishment variety with their crook handles. Corporal punishment was unknown at my school in Wythenshawe, though I had read in the school rule book for St Anne’s that teachers and even prefects had the right to use corporal punishment to maintain discipline, and those canes were a stark reminder of what I was letting myself in for. Suddenly, the thick starched collar and the silk tie around my neck felt awfully constricting. I just wanted to study for my A ‘levels, not enter a girl’s borstal facility.

We sat down in the alcove, with me on the settee and the two older women taking up the armchairs. There was no coffee.

Miss Haversham, to my left said, “Well Laura, I have read good things about you in the report I obtained from your other school. They are rather sad to lose you. You are apparently gifted in the sciences and mathematics. You are also quite a tall girl. I wonder, are you also athletic? We could use a player of your stature on the senior hockey team.”

I was actually pretty tall at six feet one inches and was taller than Miss Haversham, who I guessed was about five feet ten, and my Aunt Sylvia who was a diminutive five feet seven.

I said, “I am sorry. I have never played hockey; they didn’t play it at my school, though I played soccer and cricket.”

Miss Haversham seemed to sniff, though I honestly couldn’t tell it if was a sniff of disappointment that I didn’t play hockey, or was a sniff of disgust that I would play such a lowly game as soccer. Not that I cared; truly I wasn’t interested in soccer either.

“Well, never mind. Dianna Morton, who will be your roommate, is one of our best senior players and is destined to be captain of the hockey team next year. Perhaps she can get you interested and up to speed. I am sure you could be an asset to the team.” Then, seemingly losing interest in me, she looked across at my Aunt and said, “So, Sylvia, a not unexpected promotion for you and how wonderful that you will be based in Plymouth. It will be nice to have you so close by and I am sure you will be dropping in regularly to see Laura. Is there any chance I could get you to give a few talks to our seniors about the law and the careers that are now opening up to women?”

The two women chatted for a while and I sat on the settee, still in my rain coat, and I became quite hot and exceedingly bored.

Fortunately, my Aunt noticed me and suddenly said, “Laura, why don’t you take off your coat? I know you aren’t exactly comfortable in your uniform but you must be dreadfully hot in that Gabardine Mac?”

“Oh yes, please excuse me, Laura, feel free to take it off or, well, why don’t I have one of the girls take you over to your room? The first class of the afternoon will be winding up soon anyway which I happen to know is Dianna’s last class of the day. Tomorrow is half term, so she will have till Monday to show you around and help get you settled in. She can show you where your classes will be held, where the library, gymnasium, refectory hall and chapel are, as well of course to the dorm room you will share in the Drake Building.

She got up from her armchair, went over to her desk, picked up her phone and pressed a button.

Clearly her secretary picked up the other end, and she said, “Margaret, have the runner go and fetch Dianna Morton and bring her to your office. She can show Miss Preston around. She will be in Miss Farmer’s English class but it will be finishing in five minutes. By the time the runner gets there the current class should be over and I believe she will then be free for the rest of the day.”

The secretary said something and Miss Haversham added, “Fine,” and hung up. She then turned to me and said, “You can unbutton your Mac but I would keep it on. Dianna will likely take you to your dorm first and it is in another building across from the school and it is pretty blustery outside. You can wait for her in the outer office because I am sure you are bored by two old school friends’ reminiscences.”

So much for the ‘run down on what she can expect from us’ speech, I thought. But there also went a chance to ask one of the things that I truly dreaded asking about.

I stood up, as did Aunt Sylvia who gave me a big hug saying, “Well Laura, you are a big girl now and have done me proud. And you will make me prouder yet. I know you are a little nervous; this is a big step, but you are brave and self-confident and I think that once you get to know this school, you will love it as much as I did. But if you have any problems or concerns you can always ring me. I will stop by on Sunday and we can go for a meal in the village.”

She suddenly turned to Miss Haversham to include her in the conversation, saying, “I assume that will be all right? She can get a day pass so I can take her there?”

“Of course, Sylvia, assuming of course she behaves herself,” and she laughed at her own little joke.

Somehow, it didn’t sound like much of a joke to me. But I smiled at Aunt Sylvia, bending down and kissing her on a cheek and I said, “I’ll be fine and am already looking forward to us getting together on Sunday.”

Miss Haversham held the door open for me. As I walked out, she said to her secretary, “Margaret, can you have Veronica rustle up a couple of coffees for Justice Wolstenholme and myself?”

I stood in front of the secretary’s desk and watched the younger woman as she prepared a tray of coffees, milk and sugar, wishing I felt as ‘fine’ as I had told my Aunt.

Chapter 2 – Dianna Morton

As Veronica, the assistant secretary, got the coffee ready, Mrs Benson pressed a button on some sort of intercom and said, “Can the duty prefect bring Dianna Morton to the secretary’s office? She should be about to finish up in Miss Farmer’s classroom. Wait until the class finishes and then ask her to come here.”

A voice on the other end of the intercom said, “On my way.”

She then turned to me and said, “Miss Morton shouldn’t be long, Miss Preston. The bell for the end of first afternoon class is about to ring. If you like, you can sit on one of those chairs. You must be quite hot in that coat.”

“Thank you,” I said, and took a chair against the wall, next to the headmistress’s door, wondering if I could hear what my Aunt and the Headmistress were talking about.

I actually couldn’t hear anything and so my eyes wandered around and I caught sight of the young assistant secretary, Veronica, looking at me out of the corner of her eye. I didn’t of course know her back then but she made me feel a bit uncomfortable. Here was I dressed like an eight-year-old, complete with my hair in braids, and there she was in a nice green dress with a mid-thigh hem and knee-high, light-grey, suede leather boots, looking like she had just arrived from Carnaby street. Her brown hair streamed straight and shiny down her back, looking like some model, though I doubted she was much older than myself. She honestly didn’t do anything to make me feel small, but it was just knowing she could see me and compare our positions that made me uncomfortable. After all, she wasn’t under the strict discipline of the school; she merely worked there.

However, when she looked up, knocked at the headmistress’s door with her silver tray of coffee cups and she saw me looking at her, she gave me a nice smile. Perhaps she wasn’t so bad after all.

Suddenly a bell rang and then, within a couple of minutes, there was a knock on the outer door of the office and it opened inwards, blocking my view of whoever had opened it, but a voice in a nice London accent said, “Hello Mrs Benson. Jane Myers, the duty prefect, said you wanted me. Is she here?”

Mrs. Benson looked at the owner of the voice and then nodded in my direction. The door swung wider and I saw the voice’s owner. She was tall and blonde, though perhaps a couple of inches shorter than me. Her hair was in the same braids as my own and she wore the identical clothes, except she had no Mac.

She peered at me around the door and I saw a rather beautiful face studded with piercing green eyes. Her face broke into a nice smile as I stood up and I watched in amusement as her eyes followed me up. She was obviously not used to girls taller than herself and they opened wider as I went up to her and held out my hand. We both started to speak at once.

As I was saying, “Hello, I am Laura Preston, are you Dianna Morton?” She said, “Oh, you must be Laura Preston. Hi, I am Dianna. Dianna Morton. My friends call me Di. My, you are a tall drink of water! A blue-eyed blonde too!”

I grinned. “So, I have been told. The knee shortening operation was a failure.”

She looked puzzled, just for a second, then she laughed. “Oh, I can see you and I are going to get on.” She then turned to Mrs. Benson and said, “So, any instructions from the boss or are we free to skedaddle?”

“I think the Headmistress may want a word with Miss Preston later today or possibly sometime over the weekend. But for now, you are both free.” Then she looked at me and said, “Miss Preston, your first class is with Mrs Hyde on Monday morning, right after assembly. I am sure Miss Morton will show you where your classrooms will be. However, feel free to come to this office anytime and either me or Veronica will try our best to help. In the meantime, the both of you need to remember there are classes going on till four o’clock, so do be quiet in the hallways. Dianne, I trust you will show Miss Preston the ropes and that neither of you get into any trouble. Now be gone the pair of you so I can get some work done.” Then she looked at me and said, “and Laura, welcome to St Anne’s. I am sure once you get used to us you will love it here.”

I wasn’t so sure, but followed Dianna out of the secretary’s office and, without saying a word, she led me down the stairs that Aunt Sylvia and I had climbed twenty minutes earlier and out through the large ornate hallway and entry door. The wind was blowing the rain, and I pulled my mac closed and lifted the hood over my hat. I saw Dianna button her blazer and she placed the hat she had been carrying on her head using both the chin strap and her left hand to hold it in place.

She said, “I left my bloody Mac in the dorm this morning. I hope you can run. The Drake dorm building is off behind that wing of the school. We could cut through the school but there are still lessons going on and it is simpler to just dash around. Otherwise some officious bloody prefect will find an excuse to give us lines or a detention. Let’s make a dash for it. Ok?”

I nodded and she set off running. She was hampered a little with having to hold her hat on her head but the fact that my Mac was unbuttoned and flapping in the breeze hampered me as well, but by thrusting my hands in my pockets and pulling it down I was able to keep my hood pushing down firmly on the hat and so was able to manage. However, these were full speed dashes and I think it was only my longer legs that allowed me to keep up with her. We ran around the side of the building wing off to our right and then had to cut across a large open area until we came to a four-story building. We ran up some steps and Dianne pushed open the door and let us into a rather bare foyer.

“We can talk in here, though it is advisable to keep your voice down low. Through that door and to the left is a corridor on either side of which are the junior dorms. There are also a couple of private rooms for the dorm mothers. The second and third floors are similar with the senior common room on the third floor. Seniors are counted as fifth and sixth formers. All the dorm rooms basically sleep six to a room, although I think there are a couple on this first floor that sleep eight.

All the sixth formers are on the fourth floor where there is a private kitchen just for us. We also have a television. We sleep two to a room and you are sharing with me. There are two single rooms at the far end for the Head Girl and her Deputy. For what it is worth, you should know that it is my goal to get one of those rooms next year and it would be cool if you get the other.” She grinned. “Not that I’m competitive, mind, but I am!”

I grinned in return and then asked, “Is there a lift?”

“Surely you are not out of wind? That dash was only three hundred yards! There is a sort of service lift that the porters use to bring up trunks and suitcases which we are not allowed to use. We have to use this main stair case and there are stairs which double as fire exits at each end. Those stair cases at the ends of the building have special doors which you can always leave by, but they are locked after six o’clock in the evening which is a hassle. One other thing, it is apparently a treasonous crime to even think of running up or down the stairs, and I was once caned with three other girls for playing rugby on them,” she laughed. Then added, “So it’s alright to talk here but do it quietly. If a prefect or a Dorm Mother catches you disturbing the peace, as they call it, it is usually four good strokes of the slipper or, even worse, a Saturday morning detention. Oh, and welcome to St Anne’s Penal Colony!”

She grinned and then we started walking up the stairs. On the fourth floor we pushed through a fire door and into a corridor lined with doors. She pointed to the first one and said, “There is the communal bathroom for our floor. It includes two baths, a space for six girls to shower at a time and a row of bogs.”

We continued down the corridor stopping at another mahogany door. She turned the handle and pushed it open.

“Welcome to your new cell, sorry, I mean home. The bed on the right is yours. I already took the one on the left. It looks like your trunk has arrived.”

The room was about twelve feet wide by about fifteen feet deep. The two beds were on either side and there were three windows in the far wall opposite the door, beneath which were desks and chairs. The beds were pulled back a little from the chairs. There was a shelf over each bed and at the end nearest me there were small wardrobes.

The desk opposite her bed was almost free except for a notebook and a pen. The other desk, which I assumed would be mine, was stacked with books and papers piled so high they looked like they were about to topple onto my bed.

“Sorry about the stack of papers on your desk. Actually, until this morning they were on your bed, which I have been using as study space. I promise I’ll have everything cleaned off by Sunday afternoon. I hope you don’t mind?”

I turned and looked at her and she was studying me to see what my reaction would be. I pulled my hood, down which had miraculously stayed up, took my hat off and threw it in a Frisbee-like fashion where it plonked onto the exercise book on her desk. I then tore my gaberdine off, carelessly tossing it on her bed, and then jumped onto my own bed, laying down, and looked back at her with the same look she gave me. It was my turn to grin at her.

She grinned back at me and said, “Looks like we have to get a few things straight around here. I am the senior, I am also a prefect, so I can spank you if you get out of line.”

“Hmm, you are a prefect?” I asked a little surprised.

“Yes,” she said proudly, taking her blazer off and flashing a shield-shaped ruby coloured enamelled badge, pinned to the left strap of her gymslip that was emblazoned ‘Prefect’ diagonally in gold lettering. “You see, you have to obey me.”

“What drivel,” I said. “I’m no lawyer, though my Aunt is. She used to be Head Girl here. She gave me some indication of how strict it all was and that the rules haven’t really changed in forever. She read the rule book that came with all the papers she had to sign to get me in here. Anyway, I’ll bet there are rules that say you can’t boss me around when we share a room. However, if you like, I’ll bring it up with Miss Haversham when she sees me later this evening?”

She laughed. “Well so much for that ploy then. You said your Aunt signed the committal papers to this asylum? Do you live with her and not your parents? Not that it is any of my business.”

I smiled. “It’s OK, since we are shacked up together as it were. I suppose we shall get to know each other’s pasts and dirty laundry. But she isn’t actually my Aunt. We are not related. She was my Mother’s friend and she helped my Mom when my Dad disappeared. But Mom died when I was four in a traffic accident and so Aunt Sylvia has raised me since then.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, but you also said she is a lawyer? A solicitor? I would like to be a barrister if I can get to university and study law.”

“Oh, you should talk to her. She would probably love that. Her one disappointment seems to be that I have little interest in the law and am far more interested in the sciences. I think she would love a protégé, someone to mentor. Perhaps I disappoint her. I could introduce you. She is a barrister, a QC actually, though she has just been promoted to the high court in Plymouth. It’s why we moved down here and I get to come to a boarding school. Lucky me, huh?”

She laughed too. “Well your luck depends, I suppose. After all this is sale.” At least I thought she said ‘sale’, which didn’t make any sense to me. When she saw me cock an eyebrow she said, “That’s SAALE,” and then she spelled the letters out “S-A-A-L-E. It stands for Saint Anne’s Academy for Lesbian Education!” she grinned. “A least that’s what I call it. I mean there are virtually no men here, so what is a girl to do?”

I grinned in return. “Well from my experience boys are over rated.”

“You have had experience?”

“Yeah, I suppose you could call it that. My last school was a mixed grammar school and, possibly because I was blonde and not overweight, I was considered by many of the boys, who thought they were God’s gift to woman kind, to be some sort of trophy. If they went out with me they scored a point. If I allowed them to kiss me then I think that was ten points. If they could get me in a car on a night out, they were looking at the big time, and if they could get into my knickers then it was the World Cup.”

“Did any of them ever win the cup?” laughed Dianna.

“Not one. None were my type. Two got the ten points but when it became obvious they were playing for only the cup and didn’t give a toss about how I felt, it was bye-bye. To be honest, it was actually quite appealing to get away from them and come to an all-girls boarding school. And just maybe the L-E part of S-A-A-L-E will turn out to be more interesting.”

She looked at me strangely and I merely smiled back.

Almost as though she wasn’t really ready to talk about that, she changed the subject and said, “Well I would be grateful if you would introduce me to your Aunt. It would be incredible to talk to a QC, and a high court judge at that.”

I smiled. “Well, I will be having lunch with her Sunday so perhaps you’d like to tag along. I think she might enjoy your interest”

She carefully picked my Mac up off her bed and walked it over to my wardrobe, where she hung it up on a hanger. I got up off the bed, walked over to her desk and picked up my hat, took off my own blazer and joined her by the wardrobe.

I said, “I suppose I should unpack my trunk and get it out of here so we don’t fall over it.”

“Want any help? I’ve unpacked a lot of trunks while I’ve been at school.”

“Well if I drag these, well, what passes for clothes out, if you’d like to hang them in the wardrobe I suppose it might save some time and then perhaps we can do something more interesting?”

“Of course,” she replied. “However, don’t get your hopes up. It is still chucking it down with rain, classes are in session for most of the school and you have been sent to what amounts to a prison for young women. I don’t know where your last school was, but I’ll bet it was paradise compared to this asylum!”

I undid the bindings on my trunk and started passing her my spare gymslips, shirts, underwear and games equipment. I put the few books I had brought with me on the bed, put a few personal times away in the drawers of my desk, and then stared at what was left in the bottom, wondering whether to leave them in the bottom or take them out, knowing I would have to explain them to my roommate.

‘What the heck,’ I thought. I rather liked her and since she was going to be my roommate it was likely she would find out about my little hobby anyway, which would cause awkward questions if handled poorly on the spur of the moment. Better to try to control it now and obtain a promise of secrecy while we were still friendly and hope that the friendship would grow.

I took the objects out and placed them on the floor in a little pile. She was actually seated at her desk having finished rather elegantly packing my clothes into the small wardrobe but she turned back as I closed up my now empty trunk. Her eye immediately fell on my little pile. She looked a little puzzled.

“Do you skip rope?” she asked raising an eyebrow. “You sure have enough of them!”

I scooped up the pile. There were in fact ten lengths of soft white rope, varying from small coils of about five feet to two of twenty feet. The coils were each looped about the same length and neatly tied around their middles to prevent them accidentally spilling undone.

I looked at her seriously. “Can you keep a secret?”

“Christ, Laura, we haven’t known each other five minutes and you are willing to trust me, little old me, with a secret? I’m flattered, of course, but I should point out you haven’t even met my friends who might be able to pry a secret out in half a jiffy!”

I giggled. “Oh? You have friends? I can’t imagine for a moment that prefects who spank other girls have many friends!”

She looked a little quizzical and said, “Hmm, you have a point, of course. However, I suppose one might expect that the prefects have friends who are also prefects, though actually, I can’t honestly say that many are my friends. Too power crazed, if you ask me, and believe me, in this fine establishment there are prefects who have handed out punishments to other prefects. How is that for camaraderie?”

“Really?” I asked, surprised.

“Believe me,” she looked a little sad. “It happens. I should know.”

“Because you have given them?” I asked innocently.

“Careful girl! You may be my roomie but I still might spank you! But no, silly. Sadly, I have been on the receiving end of, err, punishments, from a couple of the bitches in the year above us. However, don’t worry, I’ll point out the ones we need to avoid.

“So, what are the ropes for? And yes, if I make a promise to keep your secrets you can take it to the bank. I promise your secret will be safe, though I would be very disappointed if you ever spilled any of mine.”

As I put the ropes into the lower drawer of my desk, I had my back towards her and carefully said, “They are used for my hobby.”

“Your hobby is tying people up? Cool! Can I help you? I know some people here at St Anne’s I would love to tie up.”

She was joking, of course, but I straightened up, went to sit on my bed and then I looked at her.

I said, “My hobby is tying myself up. Often go to sleep at night having tied myself to the bed. I find it relaxing and fun. Don’t ask me why. I just do. I love it. Make fun of me if you must, though I would ask that you keep my secret.”

“Seriously?” she asked, seeming incredulous.

I looked straight at her and with as much sincerity as I could muster I said, “Seriously!”

She looked at me, then she said, “You are pulling my leg, aren’t you? Nobody ties themselves up. If I spilled your so-called secret, everyone would laugh at me. You are just testing me, teasing me.”

I didn’t say anything but continued to look at her. For some reason I found her incredibly attractive. She was beautiful by any standards. She clearly had a wonderful figure, even if it was hidden by her shirt and gymslip. She was perfectly proportioned and her blonde hair contrasted so incredibly well with those piercing deep green eyes. I knew I was quite good looking too, though while her hair might be called ‘strawberry blonde’, mine was much lighter. Some would call me ‘platinum blonde’, I suppose, and it was obvious with my blue eyes I had a lot of Scandinavian in me.

She was watching me and trying to decide if I was kidding her. Suddenly she said, “You are serious, aren’t you? I admit I am not that great at telling when others are lying but you are either the best con artist that ever was or you are telling the truth.” After another pause she said, “You are telling the truth, aren’t you?”

“Yes,” I said simply. “Some years ago, when I was about nine, my friend and I at the junior school were at a loss as to what to do on a rainy afternoon. I was staying overnight at her house and she suggested a game of tie-up. I didn’t know what she meant but she explained that I should tie her up with old socks, scarves, belts and even string, whatever we could find, and then she would try to escape, which she soon did. Then it was my turn.

“We played all afternoon and into the evening and we had a good time. Then, over the next three years or so we continued this game and I suppose we got a little addicted to it, both of us really enjoyed being tied up, though we also got pretty good at escaping too. Then, sadly, she and her parents emigrated to Australia and my tie-up partner disappeared.”

Dianna was watching me and when I paused she said, “So after a while you missed it so much you really began tying yourself up?”

I nodded.

“But I don’t understand. What’s the point? I mean obviously if you do it yourself you have to be able to get free. You can get free any time, so it’s not really like you can’t escape is it?”

“Yes, however there are tricks available that prevent me from getting free for a certain period of time. Basically, I can set it up so I can experience being in bondage until a certain time period expires until I can escape. It’s actually better knowing I can’t escape until the time period passes. If I know I can’t escape, I can just relax until that time elapses.”

“How can you manage that?” she asked.

I fished in the school satchel I had unpacked and showed her a couple of small combination locks. “A simple way is that I tie myself leaving one wrist free. I tie a rope around my free wrist with a loop spare. I can then lock the loop to some object, or another loop in another rope, and close it.”

“Huh? That’s silly. Assuming you have freedom of movement you can spin the dial and release yourself any time. I mean, you must know the combination?”

I laughed. “Not if it’s dark. I have to wait until it gets light to see the dial.”

“Oh wow, I never thought of that. Clever, I suppose, if you don’t want to get free.”

“I can also use a timer switch on a table lamp in my room at home and set the timer for, say, an hour. After the hour the lamp turns on and I get free.”

“And if the electricity goes out I suppose it gets light in the morning anyway so you can escape?”

I nodded. “Something like that. But there are other methods too.”

“Go on, I am getting quite an education here,” she smiled.

“Well, I can put a couple of strings or a key in an ice cube. I can tie a string to some object above me and the other string is tied to a knife or pair of scissors. When the ice melts the string becomes loose and swings the scissors to my hand so I can cut myself free. Or, of course, the key is freed and I can unlock a padlock that fastens me to something so I can then move and get a knife or otherwise cut myself free.”

“Oh, how ingenious,” she said. Then she looked suddenly serious. “But isn’t it dangerous? If something goes wrong you might be stuck and could even perhaps die.”

“Yes,” I said. “It is dangerous, and worrying whether the release mechanism will work tends to spoil the bondage experience. It was far better with Cindy, the girl who went to Australia. We had a pact that we would always release each other after a certain time if we couldn’t escape. We each had a safe word, too, that if we uttered the other one would set us free. And mostly, when I tie myself up at night, I basically leave a slip knot where I can just pull it when I need to get free. I just try to blot it out that I can do this so I don’t spoil the experience.”

“Wow, you are really are serious about this aren’t you? What is a safe word?”

“It’s a word, or sign if we were gagged, that if we uttered or made the sign would instantly alert the other to release the ties. My word was Cindy. Hers, not surprisingly, was Laura.”

“You know, if it helps,” said Dianna, pausing mid-sentence.

When she didn’t say anything else I prompted, “What helps?”

“Well, I was going to say that, assuming you are serious, I wouldn’t mind, well, I suppose if it’s what you want I wouldn’t mind tying you up.”

“So, you could tell all your prefect friends and show them the spectacle of me tied in my ropes?”

I saw her wince as though I had punched her. “Forget it,” she said and turned back to her desk.

Feeling suddenly very guilty, I stood up and stood behind her, touching her gently on her left arm.

“I am terribly sorry, Dianna. That was totally uncalled for. I already accepted your promise that you would keep my secret and then I behaved like an ass. My only excuse is that I am a little hot under this damned collar,” as I loosened my tie a bit and saw she did the same. “And I have just spilled my guts to you about one of my passions and, as you pointed out, I hardly know you. I over reacted terribly. I can only say I am sorry.”

She reached gently around with her right arm, put her hand softly on mine and swivelled towards me looking at me.

“I forgive you,” she said simply as she smiled. “It can’t have been easy telling me about this. I also have to admit I find it weird, but also a little exciting. I think I might even enjoy tying you up, but not in a mean way. Trust me, I rather like you and want you as a friend. I promise no one will ever learn of your strange little hobby from me, and whenever you feel in the need to be tied up, I’ll do my best to help. You might have to teach me the ropes, as it were, though.” And she laughed at her own joke.

“Ha, Ha,” I said. “Actually, there is more to it than you know. If you just threw some rope on me without any thought, I could probably escape pretty quickly, and despite what you might think, the fun isn’t in escaping. I will always do my best to escape but the best bit is knowing that escape is impossible and it is pointless struggling. Then I can truly relax and wait for freedom to come whenever it does. It would be far better and enjoyable for me if you would tie me up safely and securely and of course that I could trust you to release me if I was in trouble, or in an emergency, or of course when the time is up.”

“Yes, I can see how you would really have to trust whoever ties you up. I suppose I had better make another promise to you now. I promise I will release you whenever you want.”

I laughed. “No, no. That won’t do,” I said.

“It won’t?” she asked, looking puzzled. “But I thought…”

“It is true that you should always immediately release me if I utter a safe word or, say, hold up two fingers as a safe sign if you have gagged me and I can’t talk, but it would be far more fun actually if you refused to release me just because I requested it.”

“But Laura, I don’t understand. How would I know when to release you if I can’t release you when you simply ask to be released?”

I grinned. “Look, my dear friend. We can talk more about this later, but it would be more fun for me, and maybe even for you, that when you tie me up, you release me when you want to. There are some caveats of course. If you bind me and I can’t escape then, ethically, you are responsible for me. Since I can no longer protect myself, you are sort of morally bound to keep me safe and ensure I come to no harm. And, in fact, bondage, when done poorly, can cause not only discomfort but also severe pain, muscle cramps, choking and, in extreme cases, death. So, for a person to have fun in bondage it needs the other person that binds them to be careful, stay with them throughout the confinement and be attuned to suffering and so on.

“In addition, I want to do well in my studies; it is why I came here after all. I want to get good A levels so I can go on to university and become a scientiSt If certain bondage games, for that is what they are, prevent me from any of that, such as going to classes, or studying, or even taking my exams, then it would be horrible. No fun at all.”

“On the other hand, having you safely tie me in a way I can struggle and not escape, where you can keep me at your will keeping me uncertain when you will release me, would be exciting and strangely relaxing at the same time. I would absolutely love it. We could agree that you would keep me tied up for a couple of hours, but then you will prevent me from seeing a clock so I have no idea when the time will be up and when you will release me. It makes it very exciting then. It is possible you might enjoy having me under your control and even able to tease me, though tease me within reason. If you are truly interested I can show you how to bind me safely yet securely and give you pointers on what is good and what is horrible. Also, how long I can be bound in various positions safely without suffering too much discomfort.

“Of course, I am sure our activities will be limited by our school work and whatever other activities we engage in. It is even possible, for all I know, that you might enjoy the experience of being in bondage yourself, in which case I would do my best for you. But it doesn’t matter. If you want to participate merely by tying me up, well then, I would love it. I just hope that you can take it seriously, because it means a lot to me.”

Dianna cocked her head a little and smiled. “Well, I am not so sure about being tied up myself, and I appreciate there are probably aspects of your hobby that I neither know about or that might put you somewhat at risk. However, it rather appeals to me that I would have you under my power, so-to-speak. I think I understand what you might want and I am sure you can teach me as we go and I promise, that if we play these games of yours I shall take my responsibilities seriously, and in any case, I think it would be safer for you to have me tying you up rather than tying yourself and relying on one of your escape mechanisms.

“But hey, all this talk has made me thirsty. What say we take advantage of this Thursday afternoon break and head to the kitchen on this floor and make a cup of tea?”

We headed out of the door and wandered down the corridor to another door we had passed when we had gone through the fire door on this floor. Dianna turned the door knob and we entered a room that was the same size as our room, except there were a couple of round tables, each with four chairs. There was a two-burner gas stove, a sink and some cupboards, as well as an old fridge.

One of the tables was occupied with two other girls, and thus Dianna introduced me to Penny and Astrid, who were both prefects in the upper sixth form. Astrid was a rather overweight girl who may have barely reached five feet in height, while Penny was a thin faced girl with a long nose and brown hair. They were polite, but I rather sensed they weren’t impressed by two lower sixth girls who were blonde and towered over them.

“So, Dianna, this is your new roomie? I hope you are showing her around and getting her up to speed on all the rules we suffer under?”

“I think so,” said Dianna to Astrid. “Miss Haversham gave me strict instructions and I am doing my best.”

“Good idea, Dianna,” said the thin faced girl. “It can be very difficult for somebody who isn’t familiar with all the intricacies of life at St Anne’s to suddenly enter the sixth form. The discipline might come as something of a shock.”

“Oh, don’t worry Penny. Laura here has been well prepared. Her Aunt was a previous Head Girl here and Laura has been well indoctrinated.”

Astrid appeared to sniff and said, “Well let’s hope so for her sake. May I enquire as to which school you went to previously?”

“Of course, you may enquire,” I said sweetly.

I suddenly decided I didn’t really like Astrid, though I wondered why Dianna was acting a little timid.

“Well?” said Astrid sharply, suddenly wondering if I was playing her for the fool.

“You know, I have found that bragging about one’s past schools and past achievements can be counterproductive. It’s better for me to just do my best here and see if I can prove myself, or at least not dishonour myself if I fail.”

Penny suddenly appeared to choke on whatever she was drinking out of her cup. Her fat friend stood up and patted her hard on the back, turning her back towards me so I briefly lost sight of her face.

Then Penny stood up and, as Astrid turned back to me, she said, “Those are very wise words, Laura. I do hope you can live up to them. Come on, Penny,.  We need to go over some of that French dictation. Oh, and Dianna, I am sure it is a slight oversight on your part, but you must set a good example for your roomie. Both of you have your ties somewhat loose and I can see the collar buttons. It wouldn’t do for the junior girls to see two sixth formers so blatantly breaking our school uniform rules. They might develop your bad habits. Why don’t the two of you do fifty lines each and hand them in to Heather at Monday morning’s assembly? I think the line should be, ‘Proper attire includes a neatly knotted tie hiding the collar button at all times’. Perhaps if you do them together this evening you can use the time to go over all the school rules with your friend. After all, you are a prefect and should know better. Good afternoon to you both.”

I watched with astonishment as the two of them left the room, and it wasn’t hard to imagine them gloating. I briefly wondered if Aunt Sylvia had already left and that, if she hadn’t, perhaps she could take me away from this purgatory.

Chapter 3 – Around the School

If looks could kill, Astrid wouldn’t be alive today. As a matter of fact, she doesn’t live too far from us now, and, though she suffers with her legs, probably because of her diabetes, she still works as a solicitor’s clerk in the village. But Dianna was seething and it was obvious she wanted to go and punch Astrid on the nose.

My sentiments were with her but I am a little slower to anger than my partner so, to try to cool her off, I said, “So that’s what you meant when you said, ‘Welcome to St Anne’s Penal Colony?’ I think during the war the POWs that helped the guards were known as Kapos. Are all the prefects like that?”

She turned and looked at me. “No,” she said. “Astrid Lawson is one of the exceptions. She had hoped to be Head Girl herself, or at least Deputy Head Girl. But I think Heather McPherson, the real Head Girl, doesn’t like her either and chose Jane Powell as her deputy.  Heather is very nice actually and is well liked by almost everyone. It’s a toss-up whether Heather is actually smarter than Astrid, but she captained the First Eleven at Hockey, whereas Astrid merely captains the chess club and the debating society and is universally disliked, except for Penny, of course, who couldn’t captain a first year sewing class. What Astrid sees in Penny is beyond me.”

I grinned. “Loyalty, possibly. Penny looks up to her and possibly not many do?”

“You are probably right. And we certainly don’t look up to her. She is the shortest girl in the sixth form. But your answer to her was priceless. Worth the fifty lines actually, though you will have to be careful. You aren’t a prefect and she may go gunning for you.”

We snugged our ties up and then, after a cup of tea, Dianna got her own school gabardine and we went on a tour. First, we quickly poked out heads in the door of the two common rooms in our building. Seniors were allowed in the junior common room but not vice versa. We then put buttoned up our Mac’s, braved the rain, and Dianna took me to the three other dorms of Raleigh, Nelson and Wellington. Each Dorm represented a school house with its own unique colour and the girdle’s or woollen belts we wore round our waist represented which house, or dorm we were in. Drake was red, Raleigh Yellow, Nelson was blue and Wellington green.

During the year girls were awarded points for academic work or sports achievements and the houses also competed against other at whatever sports or other activities could be devised. Points were also subtracted for bad behaviour, so when a girl was punished points were also taken from her house total. The idea was to breed camaraderie, friendly rivalry and teamwork and, overall, I think it was probably successful.

We went to the Gymnasium and Dianna showed me where the changing rooms and showers were and also where the visitors changed and showered when visiting school teams came to play us. She pointed out the various fields, the lake which we could have walked around if the weather had been better and the path to the coast that went through a small wood. There was a wall marking the entrance to the wood which marked the boundary line for the school. All pupils needed passes to go out of bounds and in fact the juniors were not permitted beyond the lake.

Periodically a bell would sound signifying the end of a class period, followed within five minutes by another bell signalling the start of the next class. Dianna went over the various rules, such as that no talking in school was permitted between class bells and any junior girl out of a classroom without a hall pass given by a member of staff during a class period was immediately put on report, which meant she had to attend the prefects court where she had to explain herself. Inadequate explanations would result in punishment that could include lines, essays, detention or getting whacked with the slipper.

Senior girls were exempt from hall passes since they had free periods between classes, though they too had to observe the no talking and silence rules when classes were in session. More serious offences could result in the girl being sent to the headmistress for the cane. Teachers could also hand out any punishment they chose, including the above-mentioned sanctions, but also the belt, strap and cane. Some teachers took the easy way out and just sent the offender(s) to Miss Haversham.

It all sounded a bit draconian and, with the knowledge I had already picked up fifty lines and that there were arcane school rules I was sure to fall afoul of, I was left feeling a little depressed.

However, Dianna detected my mood and said, “Cheer up old girl. It’s really not that bad and I promise you will make really good friends here. They aren’t all like Astrid and Penny and there really is a lot of camaraderie.”

Another bell rang again but this time it rang three times.

“And that will cheer you up,” said Dianna. “That’s the bell for the end of classes and now we can go in to the main school and not be afraid to talk. It’s the Thursday of a half term so no more classes till Monday morning. There will be a lot of excited girls around. The day girls are, of course, on their way home and even a few boarders who live close by will go home for the weekend, probably to return Sunday afternoon. Which reminds me, how come you arrived today? Living in Plymouth, I should have thought you would have arrived Sunday evening.”

“Well, Aunt Sylvia has a conference to attend tomorrow and Saturday, so I would have been all alone anyway. But the truth is, I just wanted to get here and learn how bad it was going to be. Besides, I wanted to meet my new roommate and find out if I would like her.”

“And?”

“The Jury is still out,” I said cryptically, and then I laughed.

She said, “I hope you are ready for that spanking tonight!” and she giggled. “But I had better show you the classrooms and where your studies will be. Do you have your timetable with you?”

I gave her the piece of paper showing my list of classes and she guided me back through the main entrance and took me on a slow tour of the school. Initially, there were girls everywhere, gaily chatting and a few running helter-skelter, though I noticed many seemed to slow down as Dianna approached. She grinned at me.

“I am so bad. I love frightening them half to death. I put a big scowl on my face and they instantly get worried I’ll put them in detention or dish them out hundreds of lines. They don’t really know what a pussycat I am, but I remember how it was for me when I was their age.”

“So, you are getting even?”

“I suppose it looks like that. But actually, no. The thing is that running in the corridors, particularly when there are other girls around, is dangerous. Someone is likely to get hurt. The rules actually make sense, even though they are a bit of a pain to live with. It’s like the no talking rule after the bell goes. This place, with its narrow and echoing corridors, amplifies sound as it is and if there was any noise it really would disturb classes. The educational experience, such as it is, would be ruined, so parents wouldn’t get their money’s worth. So yes, I have gotten so old that I too think the rules should be enforced. But I prefer to scare them and let them believe I would really punish them rather than to actually do it. So, you see, I am not so bad after all!” she grinned.

I laughed. “I’ll reserve judgement. I’ll decide how bad you are after the spanking you keep threatening to give me.”

“Good idea,” she laughed. “I might be really, really severe!” And her eyes sparkled as she said it.

We wandered round the school, touring every nook and cranny until yet again a bell rang. This time it was for the evening meal. Dianna led the way until we came to a large hall. We hung out hats and coats on some hangers outside and joined the line of uniformed girls waiting to enter. Dianna took a look at me to check my uniform was perfect and I did the same for her as all the girls did the same to each other. I found it vaguely amusing, but when the doors opened two minutes later I saw two older girls with their prefects badges prominently displayed checking that everyone was properly attired, that their uniforms weren’t dirty and even their shoes were clean. Some of the younger girls even got their hands and fingernails inspected, which I thought was pretty degrading until Dianna whispered, “You would be surprised at how many filthy tykes show up to eat without washing their hands!”

There was a long table for each house, each with a long bench down either side. There was a stage where staff members sat with the Headmistress in the middle. No talking was allowed as we filed in and I followed Dianna as she led the way to Drake table, which was on the left side of the room as we faced the stage. The junior first year girls were positioned closest to the stage with progressively older girls being positioned further away until the upper sixth form were at the far end away from the stage.

I took position next to Dianna and waited next to the bench. No one could be seated until the staff filed in through a door at the back of the stage and took their positions behind their own chairs. They were all wearing black academic gowns that were a sign they had all been to various universities.

Miss Haversham, also in her gown, was the last to arrive, taking position behind the centre chair where she held her hands up and said, “Welcome to the last formal meal of this half term. The kitchen staff have prepared a wonderful meal of chicken pie, potatoes and carrots, and I am sure it will be up to their usual incredibly high standard. Now let us say grace.”

She went through a little evening prayer of thanks and then she gave the instruction so we could all sit. At once there was the noise of girls sitting down and a general hubbub of people talking. However, suddenly there was a tinkle of a knife being tapped against a glass. Everyone glanced towards the stage where Miss Haversham had risen again from her seat. The noise immediately abated.

She said, “I won’t hold you for very long. However, I have one quick announcement. Although it is the start of the little mid-term break, I want to remind all of us who are staying that, though there will be no classes tomorrow, Saturday morning detention will be held for those who are in need…,” she paused for a few giggles to be silenced then she continued, “and of course the prefects will continue to enforce all weekend school rules, including the school uniform that I know you are all so fond of.”

She waited for a few more giggles to settle down and then she said, “And though it is a little unusual we have a new girl starting with us today. Laura Preston, will you please stand?” She looked directly at me and I was amazed she could pick me out, since the room was quite large and I was seated a long way from her.

With some difficulty, I stood up as Dianna slid to the side so I could get my long legs out from under the table and stand once again on the other side of the bench. I turned to face most of the rest of the room, blushing and feeling something of a right ‘Charlie’.

Miss Haversham continued, “Laura comes highly recommended from her previous school which, sadly for her, she had to leave because they couldn’t offer the standard of courses she needs to apply for her career aspirations. She will be in our lower sixth form and will be with us while she studies for her A levels in the sciences. It is a little unusual for a new girl to start mid-term and it is very unusual for her to start in the sixth form. Our rules of behaviour are a little different from many traditional schools and I am sure that many of you would agree that discipline at St Anne’s is a little tighter.”

There was a lot of nodding at heads and murmurs of agreement at this comment, and she waited for the silence to re-establish itself before she continued. “Though many famous women in the professions, the business world, and even some of Britain’s finest politicians who have been pupils at our school, will agree it stood them in good stead. Laura’s Aunt herself was a previous head girl here and has recently been appointed a high court judge.

“So, I hope you will all make Laura feel at home here, set her a good example and offer up guidance when needed. It won’t be easy for her but I am sure with all your help she too will become a credit to this school. As Laura sits down would you all give her a rousing St Anne’s welcome?”

I was actually quite surprised at the loud cheers and applause that rang out, and indeed many of the smiling faces seemed truly sincere. I have to admit it did lift my spirits and, as I sat down, both Dianna and the girl to my right called Cathy gave me a hearty pat on the back.

The food was fairly good, though Aunt Sylvia’s and indeed my own cooking was better, but then we only had to cook for two. The girls around me introduced themselves and I was a little amazed the table manners were far better than those at my old school. Even the knives forks and spoons had their proper order and there was no using the fork as a shovel. The drinks were mostly lemonade though it was possible to get tea afterwards when it was poured from a large jug.

The meal did include a dessert but I have long forgotten what it was.

However, as I finished I turned to Dianna and said, “So, now that we’ve finished do we just get up and walk out?” noticing that no one had in fact gotten up from the table.

She laughed and said, “’Fraid not, old girl. In a moment, the staff will get up and leave and once they have exited the stage we can get up. But there is an order. The upper sixth form girls get to go first, then us, and so-on. However, they won’t get up until all the staff have left the hall.

In fact, almost immediately the staff stood up as one, but Miss Haversham, instead of leaving with the others at the back of the stage, came down the steps at the front and started walking down the aisle between our table and the Raleigh table. I gathered this was unusual because, as she came down the steps, the room hushed somewhat and all eyes were on her. Once more, I was vaguely amused by all this protocol. At least I was until she came right up to me and said, “Miss Preston, we didn’t really get to chat much when you arrived this afternoon so I wonder, would you come over to my study? I won’t keep you too long. However, I am leaving early tomorrow and won’t be back till late Sunday evening and I would like to go over your classes with you and resolve a few details that are outstanding.”

“Of course,” I replied. “Do you want me to come with your right now?” I asked, wondering a little about all the silly protocol.

“Yes. I am sure your friends can spare you for a little while.” She then turned to all the faces that were suddenly staring at us and said, “Good evening, ladies. I do hope you have a pleasant long weekend.”

I climbed back up off my seat on the bench and followed her out of the hall, conscious of over four hundred eyeballs staring at us.

Dianne gave me a smile and mouthed, “Good luck. See you later.”

Chapter 4 – Miss Haversham

Miss Haversham led the way through the halls and corridors of the school which were dimly lit by incandescent ceiling lamps as it was now dusk outside. The school buildings certainly had character but it wouldn’t be difficult to imagine ghosts were lurking in the shadows, if you believed in that sort of thing.

We came to the large entry way by the staff entrance and, once again, I recognised the grand staircase and followed her up. Instead of going through the secretary’s door, which was now closed, she continued down the corridor to the left for ten paces and came to another wood panelled door. She fished a key from a pocket in her dress, unlocked the door, flicked on a light switch and ushered me in.

“Why don’t you take a seat on the settee? You can hang your hat and coat up on the stand. Feel free to take off your blazer and hang that up too. It’s a little stuffy in here since I have had the windows closed against the rain. I’ll just get your file off my desk.”

I hung up my hat and Mac, followed her suggestion and took my blazer off and hung it up as well, then took my appointed seat on the settee. She picked up a manila folder and then sat in the armchair to my right.

She said, “This is a file I started on you which will become your official school record. Every pupil has one and, actually, in the storeroom at the back of the secretary’s office, my own school record as well as that of your Aunt Sylvia, Ms Wolstenholme, are kept there. I have to say I was quite impressed by your record at that Grammar School in Wythenshawe, which is near Manchester, I believe? You excelled in mathematics and the sciences and acquitted yourself very well in all your other O Level subjects. Your Aunt, of course, speaks highly of you as you might expect and, yes, I know she isn’t really your Aunt. She told me of your ideas for the future but I would rather hear about your plans from you directly. I know you would like to go to a university but what I am more interested in is where you see yourself in five years, and perhaps ten years?”

She looked at me expectantly.

“I suppose,” I began slowly, “that I really only have vaguely thought about such ideas. A part of the problem is that, while mathematics and sciences interest me, I have not seen much of the advanced material and it could be that when I do, I will fall in love with something, or conversely, I may hate the subject. I suppose, in answer to your question, in five to six years I would sort of hope to graduate from a good university with an undergraduate degree. Presumably at that stage I might have a better idea of a career choice which might itself demand an advanced degree, or perhaps I could begin a job at a junior level somewhere and hope for on the job training. Ten years from now, well, hopefully I would be getting fairly well settled in whatever career I choose, and happy with life generally including the career.”

“Hmm, I know these are difficult questions but they will help me determine exactly what other things I can provide in your education to better see your path for the future. Suppose, hypothetically, you had to sign up for a career today, have you any idea what you would choose?”

I grinned. “If such were the case I would probably choose the career with the most open-endedness, assuming there is such a word.”

“How so?” She asked.

“Well, medicine might be a good option. In medicine itself, once graduated I could later choose to be a general practitioner or perhaps specialize in one of the many branches of medicine such a surgery, obstetrics, pathology etc. It would allow me to kick the can down the road. I also love Physics and would be excited to study nuclear and particle physics, or even astronomy which would be very exciting, although the chance to specialise later might be narrower than say medicine.

“Part of the problem right now is, I don’t know half of what I really need to know to make an intelligent decision.”

She looked down at her file and then back at me. “These are quite mature answers and I fancy you may be more of a mature thinker than many at St Anne’s, including your peers in the lower sixth. Do I detect an influence from your Aunt?”

“I suppose so. Aunt Sylvia continuously asks me about the future and has always encouraged me to think for myself.”

Miss Haversham nodded as though she knew more than she was letting on.

“Which Universities might you be considering?”

I said, “Well, Oxbridge would be nice, especially Cambridge. Of course, it is too early to say whether I would get the A Levels I need but St Anne’s does have a rather stellar reputation, at least according to my aunt, but…”

At the ‘but’ she lifted her head from the file. “We have been very successful in getting a lot of our girls into either Oxford or Cambridge, however you seem to harbour some doubts?”

“Actually, I have no doubt you have succeeded in getting more than a few girls to good universities and the numbers I have read speak for themselves. They speak plainly that St Anne’s has been eminently successful at getting their students wonderful grades at A Level. I am sure that you will provide me with the material I would need to get my own good scores.

“However, there is a major difference between me and all those other pupils who got such wonderful results.”

“Oh, are you claiming to be special in some way?” said Miss Haversham in not so friendly a fashion.

“Indeed,” I answered a little defiantly, not quite liking her coldness.

“Hmm, I have to tell you I am not a fan of girls who think they are special.”

“I can understand how, as a headmistress of a school, you would think that. However, I am afraid I am special in the negative sense. As you pointed out at the start of the evening meal it is very unusual for an older girl to start at this school and that I would need a lot of help. You were referring to the numerous school rules and the discipline that enforces them. A girl who has been here since she was eight would understand these and by the time she is seventeen, my current age, she will be able to navigate her way through them with relative ease. It would be second nature to her. But, I have no such advantage; I have not been indoctrinated with St Anne’s ways. I think it is a safe assumption that, even though I try my best, I will fall afoul of many of the rules accidentally and thus will be subject to this rather strict discipline regime.

“While I have to say it works very well for the average St Anne’s girls, and I agree the statistics speak for themselves, it is fairly reasonable to assume that for me it will be a great distraction. I shall have precious free time studying my subjects so I can get good grades and I am worried that the little I do have will be taken up with silly tasks that might be suitable for a ten-year-old who doesn’t have the pressure to succeed that I do. Already, I had hardly been here five minutes when I was assigned the task of writing fifty lines just because I had loosened my tie after unpacking and was working up a little bit of a sweat in this strange uniform. I had merely gone with my roommate to get some refreshment and was given the lines by an officious prefect for having my tie such that my collar button showed.

“It is not of severe import at this juncture, I grant you. Dianne and I will do the lines tonight and my classes do not begin until Monday. However, it may well be the harbinger of more silly punishments to come which, since I have not been raised in this St Anne’s environment, I am obviously at severe risk, which could really affect my ability to study my subjects. If you think I am worried and even scared, you would be right.

“I am special all right, but not in a way any other girl would be envious of.”

It was obvious my little speech impressed Miss Haversham and I now actually saw sympathy in her face. She said, “I am sorry your first day was ruined by such a silly experience and, since you have been given lines by a prefect, the normal requirement would be for you to turn them in to Heather McPherson, the Head Girl, first thing at Monday morning at assembly. I can merely tell Heather you have already handed them in to me. You said you and Dianna would do them tonight? Did you mean that she also got lines because her collar button was showing?”

I nodded and she continued, “Actually, I find that a little disturbing. Since Dianna, as I am sure you are aware, is a prefect too, the normal thing for any prefect to have done was to merely point out in a friendly way that your tie was crooked, particularly to a new girl and also as prefect to prefect. It clearly did not merit any punishment in any case. I assume this was a girl from the Upper sixth and thus senior to Dianna. Would you tell me who it was?”

I took a deep breath and said, “No, that is not a good way for me to start. I will not be the headmistress’s spy. And I do not want you doing me a favour of waiving the lines. It’s better I do them, learn from my mistake and move on. I think you would agree in any case that that sort of favouritism could rebound, particularly if anyone found out. I can’t really speak for Dianna. I’ve only known her since this afternoon, but so far, I like her and I sort of think she wouldn’t want the lines cancelling either. But that is her business.”

“Well, you are indeed correct that it is perhaps better that you do not identify the prefect who disciplined you, though I have a good idea of whom it might have been, and I admire the fact that you do not want to take the easy way out by having me negate the punishment, though in all honesty, I would have stopped it had I been there. Uniform regulations are merely to encourage the habit of good dressing and being mindful of small details. It is a good habit and one that will be beneficial to you when you enter the real world. However, unlike more than a few girls think, they are not designed merely to punish you or use up your free time.

“I should also tell you that I am quite impressed with your ability to think and analyse problems, and I am not without sympathy as to your position. I would like to protect you, at least till you find your feet, but you were correct that in doing so I would be seen to be awarding favouritism, and that would be bad in general for morale.

“However, I also feel you may be over re-acting to something you are naturally nervous about but, in reality, once you have been here a month, it will not be the problem you believe it will be. And when you have been here a few months I think you will find that your fears were not only exaggerated but that in fact you will have moved beyond them and that you may well really enjoy this school. There are many fine pupils and teachers and I think you will find it a pleasure to interact with them.

“And, in the short term, remember that most rules are common sense and are designed to make you respectful, attentive to detail and for everyone’s safety and well-being. If you keep this in mind I really don’t think you will have a problem. Now, I know that with us you plan on taking our A level courses in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics and even Biology. That is four major and somewhat hard subjects that will require a significant effort on your part. I do expect you to put this effort in and that you let your teachers know at the earliest sign of a problem where you have difficulty and any suggestions how they can assiSt This goes for me too. I shall be keenly following your progress and I do want you to come to me anytime you have a problem. You will find I am a hands-on person and like to nip potential problems in the bud. Please call by my secretary’s office and let them know you would like to speak to me, or even drop me a note if there is anything you wish to discuss or anything that I can do to help. You may also be assured that when the time is appropriate and you have a clearer idea which universities or colleges you wish to apply for that I will do my best to help smooth the way with interviews and introductions. You have my word on that.”

I smiled and said, “Thank you for that. It is good to know that there are teachers and yourself I can look to for assistance.”

“Good, now is your dorm and room adequate? Do you think you will be able to get on with Dianna?”

“I think so,” I nodded. So far, she has been very friendly, helpful and engaging.”

“Hmm,” said Miss Haversham. “That is an interesting choice of words. First, I should tell you that Dianna is quite a special person. She is well liked, amusing and even funny, but she also has her head screwed on. Though I hope you don’t discuss it, she was an easy choice for prefect and has done very well. However, having said that, you might be wondering why she of all the girls did not have a roommate?”

I shook my head, wondering what to say.

“Well you may as well know, since I believe the whole school knows anyway, her previous roommate was taken away from the school by her parents. In their letter they mentioned that they were unhappy that their daughter had been exposed to a girl like Dianna who clearly had designs on her. Basically, they accused Dianna of being homosexual and, while I have nothing against homosexuality, Dianna has done nothing to disavow the accusation. In fact, I rather suspect she would like to promote the idea further.

“You should also know that I discussed this with your Aunt. I didn’t want Sylvia finding out later and then raising an objection. She assured me that it was not a problem for her and then she said it wouldn’t be a problem for you either. Was she correct in that assertion?”

This was a little blunt, I thought, since nobody had ever discussed any such thing with me, other than Aunt Sylvia and I was rather taken aback. I merely said, “It will not be a problem.”

Miss Haversham leaned back in her chair and closed the file on her lap.

“Very good,” she said. “However, you should also know that while I won’t enquire what goes on in your room, I would warn you that all signs of affection other than natural camaraderie are frowned on. In fact, let me be blunt; intimate relations between pupils and staff are expressly forbidden and anyone breaking that rule will simply be expelled. The school’s reputation would suffer and along with it all the pupils under our care. Now what goes on in your room after lights out is nobody’s business provided it is utterly silent, does not disturb anyone and is not the topic of irresponsible gossip. If it doesn’t follow those common-sense rules then expulsion for any participants will be the order of the day. Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes, Miss Haversham. Perfectly!” I said.

“And there are no misunderstandings?”

“I do not think so. I am happy you have laid out the ground rules and I will do my best to follow them as well as every other school rule. I can’t promise I won’t be occasionally tripped up by a rule which might result in me being punished. However, I can promise I shall never do such a thing with malice.”

“That was well said, Laura. You do speak plainly and clearly and I can see that your school report from Wythenshawe did not exaggerate. Now, do you have any questions or is there anything I can do that will help get you into the mode of being a well-respected member of our community at St Anne’s?”

To be honest, I had foreseen this moment ever since Aunt Sylvia had mentioned I could go to St Anne’s as a boarder and she had described the sort of school it was. I had been nervous for the past week, even scared, and I thought the moment had come when we first arrived and I first met the headmistress with my aunt. However, that moment had passed when Miss Haversham had dismissed me in order to talk privately to her friend, Aunt Sylvia, and I didn’t really expect the chance would come again.

Yet, ever since the evening meal, when Miss Haversham invited me to her study to ‘get acquainted’, I had been dreading the moment would arise again. I was in terrible fear of it yet I knew without a shadow of a doubt I could not ignore it and would in fact have to take the opportunity if it presented itself. I knew I could not enjoy my time at the school unless I bravely did the deed and suffer the consequences. I didn’t want to do it, but then, well, I did.

She saw me pause and knew I was struggling with something.

She said, “Do not be afraid to ask. I can always say no and you will be no worse off, and I may be able to accede to your requeSt However, if you do not ask then you will have lost a chance. I can see in your eyes you would like to ask a favour.”

“Yes,” I said. “It is well within your power to grant me something, though I sort of suspect you will be both shocked, possibly angry and most likely will deny me. I do not want to upset you but let me say that there is something you can do for me that would help me settle in enormously. I believe it would help me gain acceptance amongst my peers and members of the staff. But also, I know that, though it will likely be incredibly difficult for me, so much so that I am a bit terrified of it, I also know that coming through it would greatly boost my self-confidence.”

Miss Haversham looked puzzled yet interested and she wasted no time.

“I am intrigued that there is something you are apparently terrified of, you think would make me angry yet would also help you both be accepted by the entire school and that would also boost your self-confidence. I have no idea what it could be, but if it helps I promise you I will not get angry.”

I sucked in a deep breath and said, “In that case I would like you to cane me.”

Chapter 5 – Pain and…

In case you are wondering, Miss Haversham was indeed shocked and also somewhat speechless. Her eyebrows raised, her hand went to her mouth and she looked at me as though trying to bore a hole through my own eye sockets. It must have taken almost a minute before she could form a reply. However, she was true to her word, she was not angry. I think it was that moment I really began to respect her, a respect that continues to this day.

She said, “Assuming you are serious, I assume you believe that if I cane you now, then your path to acceptance at the school, particularly by your peers, will be faster and smoother? I know from speaking to your Aunt you have never in fact experienced any form of corporal punishment, not even a slap on your bottom, so it is also perhaps likely that an intelligent girl like you realises that, although you will have less than two years here, it is likely that your unblemished record in this area will be broken. I should point out that if you are spanked, slippered or indeed caned, it will not be a real disgrace. I am certain that every girl in this school, including all the prefects and even Heather McPherson, have suffered such punishment during their school lives. The thing is, here we absolutely believe that once punished the offence is forgotten and the girl is forgiven absolutely. There is no need to fear it, except of course the pain itself.

“I would, of course, be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that such punishments are painful. Of course, they are; that is their purpose and the cane is the most painful of all. However, it is not permanent. You would get over it as fast as everyone else who was caned before you.

“It’s not that I do not sympathise with your position. Everyone here, including myself, since I was also a pupil here, has experienced it, and right now you haven’t. For you, it is the massive unknown quantity and I suspect it is weighing on your mind. But, believe me, it is completely unnecessary. My advice is to forget about it and just be the best you can be. If you do cross a line and then get to experience what corporal punishment is like, then in the end you will be richer for the experience. On the other hand, perhaps, you will fly through and escape with your record intact which will also be a credit to you.”

She paused and I wondered if she had anything else left to say. My Aunt told me that the best way to argue a point is to hear all the opposite arguments first and then slowly demolish the points one by one. I actually didn’t believe I was good enough to take on this intelligent woman who obviously had great experience at arguing with her pupils, but something in me wanted to try. True, I really didn’t want to be caned, except a part of me did. I needed it and needed to get the experience over with and resolve my own doubts that I could take it and move on.

She started to stand, assuming she had convinced me, that I wouldn’t argue and that the interview was over, but halfway through her getting out of the chair I said, “So, you weren’t serious when you asked if there was anything you could do that will help get me into the mode of being a well-respected member of our community at St Anne’s?”

That stopped her and she sat back down. “Yes, but I…”

“Didn’t mean it?” I interrupted.

“Do not put words in my mouth, Laura. You are a smart girl, a good thinker with a surprisingly mature way of talking. However, I did not promise to do anything you ask. Caning you now when you have committed no offence is a rather excessive way for you to become accepted by your peers or get past your fears.”

She was right, of course, and it looked like my approach would not work. I could, of course, have done something such as slapping her face to make her cane me. I was taller than her and it wouldn’t have been difficult, but I am not like that and besides she was Aunt Sylvia’s friend.

So, I tried the only ploy I had left. I said, “Look, I really appreciate your position. Possibly you think I am deranged for asking, but over the last three weeks I have thought a lot about this. I know my request sounds idiotic, it even does to my own ears, but the thing is, deep down, I know it would help me adjust to this school. As it stands, I am a total outsider. I am privileged to be inside a sort of club, but really only as an onlooker. I have not been initiated and therefore do not have full membership status. It sets me apart and thus it is a huge distraction.

“Most excellent teams who win, do so because of teamwork. They help each other to attain the team’s goals. They know each other’s thoughts and one reason for this is that they have a shared experience.

“St Anne’s is in a way a similar institution. I have only been here a few hours yet I can see how they are all in the same team, they all wear a uniform that, even though they don’t like it, know that it bonds them together. But it is more than the uniform. They go through adversity together and they become stronger because of it. They help each other and it is obviously why there is such a spirit amongst the women who have been here and they help each other succeed in that real world out there.

“I want to be a part of that. Yes, I want to pass my A levels and go to university, but I have been presented with a rather unique opportunity that I do not want to waste. I wish I had come here when I was eight years old but I didn’t. It was just circumstances. But now I am here and I want to be part of the club. I want to be initiated and get the whole experience. I suppose I could deliberately misbehave so that I would be sent to you, but I might misjudge it and get expelled, which is the last thing I want. Besides, I am not like that. I don’t want to misbehave to get the experience I want; that I need.

“And my request, while it will be painful for me, is incredibly easy for you. It will cost you almost nothing other than a little exercise over a few minutes. For you, it is little to ask, particularly compared with, say, getting me introductions for interviews at Cambridge. Yet for me it is just as important.

“My request is simple, clear cut, will cost you little and yet probably be life changing for me. I am here to gain an education yes, but also to gain experiences I can’t anywhere else. For me, the cane is an incredibly important part of the St Anne’s experience and so I ask, one more time, do me this one favour, cane me as though it were a real punishment and then let me leave your study as a real St Anne’s girl!”

She sighed and leaned back in her chair for a moment, indecision flashing across her face. It was obvious she had been impressed with my little speech but it was equally obvious that she herself did not want to go through with it. I briefly wondered why. Suddenly, she got out of her chair without saying a word, went over to the wicker basket that held her canes, carefully picked out one and carried it back to me where she placed it in my hands.

I’ll be honest, the cane she handed me was scary; three feet long with a crook handle, as thick as my index finger but very bendy. It didn’t just scare me, it literally terrified me though I did my best to keep my face from betraying my terror.

“That is the senior cane. It is what I will use on you should you ever break a rule or commit an offence that requires it.”

I handed it back to her and said, “It looks like a fearsome implement, but never-the-less I would be grateful if you would use it on me now.”

“Look Laura, you are trying my patience. You have never even been spanked and thus you have no idea of how badly this will hurt.”

“Exactly,” I replied. “I don’t have any idea how bad it will be, yet I know you cane girls my age and they survive and probably come out stronger. Wasn’t it a German Philosopher that said, ‘What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger?’”

“Nietzsche! You are surprisingly well educated for your age, but I also have to say you are more than a little infuriating. You realise that if I were to cane you, you would be bent over my desk with your skirt up and knickers down. I would strike you on your bare bottom and thighs and the pain, believe me, is nothing less than excruciating. You would no doubt scream and yell and you would be sure I would have cut you in half and no doubt you would also beg me not to hit you again. Sadly, I have done this far too many times; it is a thoroughly horrible duty I have to perform and to see a pupil, any pupil, in such distress just about breaks my heart. Yet even though they beg, I continue caning them until they have received the required number of strokes. Also, if they move or scream obscenities then it is tradition that I give them more strokes until they have been properly punished. If you think I enjoy it, let me disabuse you of that notion right now.”

I said, “I understand. I know, logically at least, that it will be awful and that I will probably make a fool of myself. But don’t you see, I would rather do it now, experience how bad it is and understand what I have to deal with when the time comes I am brought before you for a real punishment? Also, it won’t be so horrible for you caning me when you are doing it because I asked you to.”

She was still standing looking down at me on the settee and she was holding the cane between her hands and flexing it perhaps unconsciously.

Suddenly she said, “How many strokes do you want?”

A little shocked by the suddenness of it, as well as not having thought about it, I said, “Well, how many do you usually give?”

“Typically, when a girl of your age is sent before me for the cane it is a serious affair. It often merits four to six stokes. Hard strokes at that. I think the most I have ever given might be ten to twelve. But these were exceptional circumstances where the culprit was guilty of fighting, cheating or something very serious indeed. At the end of last summer, I caned two senior girls for having alcohol in their room. They each got eight strokes, once they had sobered up.”

“Then I want the full twelve strokes. Since that is the maximum penalty, that is what I want to receive so that I know I can take it. I won’t talk about it or tell anyone except perhaps Dianna if she can convince me she can keep a secret. However, merely by taking showers with the other girls, I am sure someone will see the marks and the word will get out that I too have been caned.”

“You have this all thought out, haven’t you? How will you explain it, supposing for the moment I was complicit in this scheme? What would be your crime?”

“I would tell them it is none of their business. That way, I won’t have to lie. Nobody will believe the truth anyway; that it was what I wanted.”

“Would you tell Dianna?”

I thought for a moment and then nodded. “Possibly. I would ask that she keep my secret and, if I believed her reply, I might tell her. After all, no one will likely believe her if she did spill the truth. She might not believe me anyway.”

“Yes, though I will tell you I trust Dianna and believe she would keep such a secret. The more I talk to you the more I think you and her will become good friends.”

She paused again, flexing the cane in her hands, and studied me as I tried not to fidget on the settee. It was hard to look back at her and remain silent but my Aunt had often mentioned that when you have said your piece and have no more to say it is better to remain silent rather than start repeating yourself. It seemed Miss Haversham had heard this advice too. However, she broke first.

“Laura, tell me,” she began. “Have you ever gambled, played a betting game or poker or the like?”

“No,” I replied.

“On the whole, I do not recommend gambling. It can be a foolish and dangerous undertaking. However, at the same time there is something to learn from gambling and I do give the seniors a little class in the finer points of it in their last year. There is a basic principal at work in gambling which is that of evaluating risk versus return. To be successful at gambling requires analysing the risk and evaluating the potential return. The game dictates a loser and a winner. Typically, over the long haul, the winner will be the one who can manage the risk versus return better. But this principal doesn’t only hold with gambling. The same principal applies to life in general. And since, as you pointed out, I have a duty to educate you, I propose a little bet. Are you interested?”

“If it means there is a chance you will grant my request to cane me, then yes. After all, otherwise you will say no and I shall lose my chance.”

“Very good. I can see that you are starting to understand the principals that are at work. So, I propose a wager. As I mentioned, I find you infuriating but curiously fascinating at the same time. You are not like any pupil I have ever previously had. You are only seventeen and yet you speak of matters and analyse arguments better than many adults I know, possibly including myself. I suppose it is Sylvia’s influence. And so, I will live up to the mean headmistress personae that a few of the pupils bestow on me. I shall punish you for no real reason.

“But the nature of your punishment will depend on you. And this is where the wager comes in. I propose I shall give you a single stroke of the cane in the exact manner I would punish you were you to appear before me for some offence. If you accept the wager, and it is really your choice, you will pull your knickers down to your knees, bend over the desk and I shall lift the hem of your gymslip over your back and expose your bottom. Then you will feel the lightest touch of this cold rattan on your bottom. You will then, very politely ask me for the first stroke of the cane. At that point you can no longer back out of the bet. I shall then immediately strike you with full force, exactly as I would if I were giving you a formal caning as a punishment. You will then have forty-five seconds to get yourself under control and thank me very nicely for the stroke and then ask for another stroke.

“And this is where your wager comes in. You will bet me that you can remain still and silent while you deal with that incredible pain and then, within the forty-five seconds, and in a controlled voice with no gasping or sobbing, you will thank me and ask for the next stroke. You must not move and not make any other sounds other than thanking me and requesting that next stroke.

“I will bet that you cannot do this. I bet you will make a sound, probably scream, and you may well jump off of my desk and dance around in the agony you will feel. Even more unlikely is the possibility that in a normal voice you will be able to thank me and ask for the next stroke.”

I said, “And if I can remain silent and motionless you will give me the other eleven strokes?”

“Yes. At that point you will have won the bet and I will continue to cane you as you requested and for the full number of strokes. But from this point on it will be a normal, if excessive, punishment that I would give you if you were really here because you had committed some foul deed.

“However, if you do move or make any noises when I give you that first stroke other than thanking me and asking for the second stroke or if the forty-five seconds expires before you ask for that next stroke, then I win the bet.”

“And do I have to remain silent for the whole twelve strokes?”

She actually smiled. “No, I doubt anyone at this school could do that. You may cry and even scream though you may not utter obscenities. Also, I will expect you to remain bent over the desk, not stand up and not try to kick me. If one leg bends at the knees briefly I shall forgive that, however both feet must be on the floor when I strike you. Your hands should remain gripping the far side of my desk. If you move them so as to ward off my strike you will risk extra penalty strokes. And the sting in the tail for a caning at this school is that following each stroke you will thank me for that stroke by number and again, by number request the next stroke within forty-five seconds, otherwise I will give you the stroke and it won’t count in the total.”

For reasons I do not understand to this day, I was suddenly starting to feel thrilled and I felt some dampness below.  “And if I lose the bet?” I asked.

“Then your caning will end immediately and you will suffer a different punishment. You will write a ten-thousand-word essay with the title of ‘Why corporal punishment can be incredibly effective and the perils of volunteering for such’. The essay will be delivered to me on Monday morning and if it isn’t then I shall award you six stokes of the cane and this silly bet will be forgotten.

“You can of course refuse to gamble and walk out of here right now without consequences or stain on your character. You have already impressed me tonight in many ways and by refusing to gamble you will not diminish my respect and admiration at all. In fact, I may respect you all the more for acting in an eminently sensible fashion and hope that I have illustrated the perils of gambling.”

I can’t really explain in any sensible fashion what made me do it but I smiled and said, “Thank you for your understanding and I accept your wager. I shall probably regret it the moment it starts, however I will remember this moment for the rest of my life and I would hate to go through life knowing I backed down. While I am not keen on twelve strokes of the cane, I am less keen on writing such an awful sounding essay and even less keen on living my life knowing I couldn’t face my fear.” I stood up and said, “Should I pull my knickers down to my knees or remove them all together?”

She shook her head in resignation. I think she had been sure I would back down, but then again, she hadn’t had my dreams and nightmares for the past three weeks.

Finally, she said, “I hope you enjoy writing ten-thousand-word essays!”

She carefully placed the cane on the left side of her desk and moved some papers off to the side leaving only her blotter in place.

She then turned and looked at me and said, “Very well, walk up to my desk and then put your hands under your gymslip, insert your thumbs in the elastic of your knickers at your waist and pull them down to your knees. Good; now bend over my desk, you are tall so you should have no difficulty stretching forwards with your hands and hook your fingers under the ledge at the far side. I think you will find it helpful to grip on the underside with all your might when you feel the cane strike.”

She waited until I got in position and I realised my bottom was sticking up in the air because I was so tall. I then felt her raise the hem of my gymslip and she folded the heavy box-pleated material over my back along with the tail of my shirt. Suddenly I realised how exposed my bottom was. I saw her take the cane back up in her hands and suddenly I felt it resting across my bottom.

“Now listen to me carefully,” she began. “You have accepted the wager, one I must say that is a very poor wager for yourself. I hope any bets you make in future will be better thought out. However, just as in the real world, once you have accepted a wager, you are duty bound to accept the consequences of whatever way the bet goes. You must now politely ask me for your first stroke.  Once you have spoken you will feel the stroke almost immediately after. The stroke will be as hard as I can make it while remaining on the target of your bottom. It will be fairly close to where you feel the cane currently resting. To win your bet you must not make a sound, you must not move and then, within forty-five seconds you will say, ‘Thank you for my first stroke, Miss Haversham’. And then politely say, ‘May I please have my second stroke?’

“If you can get through that you will have won your bet and you will have escaped the essay. I shall then deliver your remaining eleven strokes. In other words, I shall have lost my bet though all I will have really lost is my ability to convince you of a sensible course of action.

“You will get those remaining strokes no matter what, even if you dance around, scream, yell or even beg me not to. But it is what you wanted so you will win your bet. You can decide later whether it was worth it. Are you ready?”

“Yes Miss Haversham. Please may I have the first stroke.”

The feel of the rattan touching my bottom disappeared and there was a sighing sound followed by a ‘thwick’ as the cane bit into my skin.

I expected it to be excruciatingly painful, more painful than anything I had ever felt before. But it wasn’t the pain I was really afraid of. My main fear was that I would not be able to control my reaction to it. I was afraid of the unknown and that I would let myself down. Others have described the pain of the first stroke of the cane much better than me. A white line of fire, being cut in two, hot searing agony etc.  These descriptions are not over the top. It was basically a sting that was so bad it was like every pain nerve was firing at once. I was standing straight up with my legs taut and my bottom thrust up and my chest flat on the desk. I wanted to scream but I had my mouth clamped shut and a sea of fire washed over me. The pain at the peak was indescribable and all thoughts were wiped from my brain. However, after five seconds it began to recede slightly and I realised I hadn’t in fact moved except to bend my knees slightly, causing my bottom to drop a little. Also, I hadn’t made a sound and I began to breathe deeply in and out as the incredible sting began to fade. And as it faded I knew there was something I should do, and do quickly before the time ran out and suddenly it was like I was in a nightmare where you have things to do but you do not know what they are and it is very urgent.

I lay there panting, my fingernails crushed into the underside of the front ledge of her desk and I could feel them actually digging into the wood. I looked up and saw where I was and then it came back to me. I was being caned in the headmistress’s study. I had survived the first stroke.

Slowly, trying to keep my voice as calm as possible I said clearly, “Thank you for that first stroke, Miss Haversham. Please may I have the second stroke?”

Almost immediately, there was the vague swishing sound and the ‘thwick’, and a second later my mind went numb again. It was simply unbearable and my mind went blank again as I fought to keep from screaming out. I think my knees bent again, but that was all and then again, after about ten seconds, though I can’t really be sure of the time, the pain began to ebb a little, though this time it didn’t fade as much. I sucked in great quantities of air as though it would help and as I realised my knees had bent I straightened them again thrusting my bottom up ready for her to strike me again.

I tried to keep my voice steady as I said, “Thank you for my second stroke, Miss Haversham. May I please have my third stroke?”

These words sound ridiculous as I type them now but then they didn’t really mean anything. Yes, I asked for the next stroke but the words were really just noises that my mouth made. I didn’t mean them. I didn’t mean anything. I could barely think straight and was merely acting on impulse.

It landed lower at the crease between my buttocks and thighs. My mouth opened to scream but somehow, I fought it back. This time it took longer for the mind-numbing pain to die down to levels where I could begin to think and I came to see it was beating me. Tears were in my eyes and I knew I couldn’t really carry on. My voice broke as I thanked her and I struggled desperately to ask for the fourth stroke. It arrived and sent new pain shuddering through me.  My strength was failing and I moaned. A part of me was sad that I was going to fail. I couldn’t tolerate this simple pain in my bottom and it seemed beyond belief that anyone could. I was still breathing desperately hard but my tears were causing it to become jerky and I realised my breaths were turning into sobs.

I asked for the fifth, sixth and seventh and eventually, probably only just in time, I asked for the eighth. My legs were giving out and now I was sobbing freely. My speech was broken by my cries but then I realised I was asking for the ninth and something seemed to change. It hurt just as bad as the others, but something told me it didn’t hurt any more than any of the others. I was still standing and my fingers were still crushed into the front overhang of her desk. But somehow, though I was sobbing I was not screaming and so I took a deep breath, forced my voice to hold steady, thanked her and ask for the tenth.

My mind still blotted out briefly from the incredible pain but now a new thought struck me. There were only two to go and I knew I could do it. The pain had been building through the first eight strokes yet strange as it may seem, except for the first few seconds after the stroke the pain wasn’t increasing.

Quickly I asked for the eleventh and, as it arrived, I realised I wanted it over, so almost immediately, though fighting back the tears, I thanked her and asked for the twelfth. It came, the pain was excruciating still, but certainly no worse than before. I am sure I yelped but I know I didn’t scream. My knees didn’t sag and I held my position still holding on to the desk for grim death.

“Thank you, Miss Haversham, for my, twelfth stroke!” and as I said it I realised with some incredible euphoria that I had done it. I had beaten my fear. I had survived the harshest punishment that St Anne’s had to offer and though it had been awful, I knew I could have taken even more if I had had to.”

I stayed unbidden in position and watched as she went around the front of the desk and replaced the cane in the wicker basket that held her other weapons. Tears were still pouring from my eyes and splashing on her desk but I had the sobs under control.

She said, “Laura, you are free to stand up. Do you need some help getting off my desk?”

I swivelled around and looked at her and she was looking concerned, though there was a smile on her face. I eased my hands back onto the desk top, pushed and got myself erect. As I did so, I felt the heavy material of my scratchy gymslip fall back into position, brushing against my bruised bottom, and felt a little extra blast of pain. I winced but stood up facing her. As I came erect she came up to me, put her arms around me and hugged me.

“Laura, you are completely and utterly insane but I am not only in awe of your ability to think and talk, I am simply stunned by your self-control and ability to take twelve strokes of the cane like that.

“I have seen a few girls take six without screaming and once I saw a girl take eight, though she was having difficulty holding it in. But never have I seen anyone do half so well as you did. I will freely admit the first time I was caned, I screamed bloody murder on the third one. It is true I was only fifteen but later, when I was your age, I got six of the best from the then headmistress and again I was screaming on the last couple of strokes.

“I honestly can’t believe what I have just witnessed and I am pretty sure nobody on staff here would believe me if I recounted that I gave you twelve of the best I could give and that all I got out of you were a couple of yelps and a few sobs. Your hands didn’t move and your feet stayed on the floor the whole time. It was an amazing performance of fortitude and you should be very proud. I only hope that you got what you wanted. You are fully initiated as a St Anne’s girl and I know you will succeed as well as anyone ever has from this school.”

“Thank you, Miss Haversham. Honestly, my bottom really hurts but I have to ask, do you require anything else from a girl whom you punish like that?”

She blinked for a moment. “Well, usually for a four or six stroke punishment the girl is fairly distraught so, while she gathers herself together, I usually have her stand in that corner, face to the wall with her skirt tucked in her girdle and her knickers at her knees, but there is no need.”

She stopped as, with my knickers still at my knees, I shuffled to the corner where I reached behind, lifted up my skirt and tried to tuck the hem into my belt.

She followed behind and with a heavy sigh she said quite nicely, “Really Laura, you are the most stubborn and infuriating pupil I have ever had!” but the way she said it I could tell she was smiling and she completed the job of tucking my skirt up, exposing my bottom once again to the cool air.

“You will stay there for thirty minutes, which is the normal time I have a girl there after the cane. It serves two purposes. It humiliates her but it also gives her time to get her tears under control. Whether it humiliates someone like you, well, to be honest I doubt it, and you have stopped crying anyway. Your bottom is severely bruised, however, with double purple and black tramlines everywhere. I have no doubt when you shower with the other girls tonight, or perhaps tomorrow morning, you will quickly become the talk of the school. However, since I shall keep you here the full thirty minutes, which means I have to stay an extra thirty minutes when I would rather be watching the television in my flat, you can put your hands up on top of your head and I do not care if they ache and fall off. You wanted the full experience so you are welcome to it.”

The cool air on my bottom felt actually quite good but I knew I was going to be very sore for a few days. I seriously wondered if I could sleep very well. However, though the pain was quite bad, it was already fading towards the delicious soreness I have come to associate with a good caning. In fact, the worst part was keeping my hands on top of my head and not fidgeting with my legs.

I heard Miss Haversham open a file cabinet and then she sat down. Although I couldn’t see her, it seemed like she was reading reports and annotating them since I could hear a pen scratching. My arms grew heavy and, after a while, they began to sag.

“Laura, steeple your fingers together behind you head and hold those arms up. You are young and should be strong enough to hold them properly. It should be as nothing compared to twelve of the cane I just gave you. Don’t make me come over there and encourage you to keep them up with a couple of strokes of the strap!”

I wasn’t sure if she was kidding or not but I managed to do as she said and she didn’t talk to me again until she said, “Very well, Laura. I have done my work and you have stood there for thirty-five minutes. I gave you the extra five minutes because I had to reprimand you for allowing your arms to sag. But I have had enough work for today and I want to go and relax. Pull your knickers up, straighten your gymslip and your tie, by the way. Make yourself look presentable then get your hat, blazer and coat and be gone. I take it you can find your dorm room?”

“Yes, Miss Haversham and thank you.” I raised my knickers, easing the baggy garment over my swollen nates, smoothed my skirt into place and stood in front of her while she checked that the pleats were straight and that my tie hid my collar button and was not crooked. She watched as I put my blazer on, telling me to button it, put my hat on and put my gaberdine Mac on.

“Fasten it up properly Laura. It is still raining hard out there and blowing a gale. Pull your hood up over your hat and use the tapes to tie it under your chin so it doesn’t blow down in the wind or blow your hat off. You do not want one of those overly officious prefects giving you more lines. And are you sure you don’t want me to get the ones you received earlier today waived?”

“No Miss Haversham. I do not want any special treatment,” I said.

“Hah,” she replied. “What do you think you have just had?”

And with that she shooed me out of her study into the corridor and, remembering to walk and not run, I went out through the senor girls’ entrance and then ran through the sheeting rain to my dorm.

Chapter 6 – Pleasure

I was pretty damp when I got back to my dorm room. It was dark outside and the lights were on. When I pushed open the door, Dianna had her back to me and was seated at her desk with papers all around her. I noticed my own desk had been cleaned off and was now empty. She turned around to greet me and, to my surprise, she was wearing glasses with square black frames in the style of Ilya Kuryakin, one of the men from UNCLE. They made her look very studious.

“Wow, the prodigal returns. I was beginning to think our illustrious headmistress had given you the boot and your Aunt had whisked you back home.”

“Almost,” I grinned as I lowered my hood and began to take my Mac off.

“Don’t hang that in your wardrobe. The damp will get into your clothes and make them pong. I’ll show you what I do.”

She got up from her desk, and I followed her out into the hallway. About ten feet from our door was another small wooden door let into the wall, and she took something from her pocket that I assumed was a little key and opened it. It was really a large access panel for maintenance and the space was mostly empty save for several pipes and valves. However, it was also quite warm and on hangers were her gaberdine school Mac and what I assumed was one of her own gymslips. She took the gymslip down off its hanger and used it for my Mac and hung it up next to hers.

“The pipes carry water, including hot water, to the bathroom on this and the other floors from a hot water tank in the attic. This closet is always warm and I find it does an excellent job of drying my clothes. I spilled egg on my gymslip at breakfast and I washed the stain off in the skirt immediately afterwards. As you can see, it’s now clean and dry.”

I smiled at her ingenuity and she showed me the key. It was just a bent paperclip.

“I keep this in a glass on the shelf above my bed so feel free to use it whenever you want. Your Mac will be dry in the morning and then you can hang it in your wardrobe.”

She carried the gymslip back to our room and hung it up in her wardrobe saying, “So tell me, what did Miss Haversham talk to you about for so long? You have been gone ages. The longest I ever spent in her study was half an hour and most of that was facing the wall after she had caned me. She gave me a two-minute lecture in there when I was a prefect and when I was a first year I was in there with three other girls after we had accidentally broken a window with a cricket ball. Yet you who haven’t been here five minutes spent nearly an hour and a half there. Did she read you the riot act? She is so good at that!”

I laughed. “Sort of. Actually, she discussed my Aunt who she was at school with and also my courses and what my future plans were. She gave me all sorts of advice.”

“She lectured you?”

I nodded. I removed my blazer and asked, “Now that I am in my room it is OK to take this stupid tie off?”

Dianna laughed. “Yes, it is, and anything else you want to too. However, out of force of habit most of us just loosen the tie and sometimes open the collar button. One piece of advice is to buy your shirts one collar size too large, then you won’t need to open the fiddly button. The thing is the moment you step out of that door you are in public as it were. Then your button needs to be fastened properly and your tie snugged up. I feel bad about what happened this afternoon and it was my fault for not checking you. I was just so thirsty with talking so much that I just left the room, giving that bitch Astrid the opening she is always itching for. The best thing is to get into the habit of checking each other whenever we leave the room, something I haven’t done for a couple of months since my roommate escaped from this prison.”

“God, this is so unbelievable,” I moaned. “I’ll be doing lines here for the next year and a half! How the heck do you put up with it?”

“Oh, you get used to it. I’ve been here since I was eight years old and it sort of becomes second nature. I know it’s hard for you but I’ll help. I promise.”

“How will you help me?”

“It’s simple, my dear,” she grinned. “Every time I see you about to do something that could get you a punishment I shall merely take you over my lap and give you a good spanking.”

“You are obsessed with spanking,” I said, suddenly imagining what it would be like to go over her lap.

She looked downcast. “Ahh, you’ve stumbled on the secret love of my life!”

Then she grinned again and I was beginning to find her very infectious.

“Did you complete those stupid lines while I was gone?” I asked, taking my seat at my desk and pulling out some paper.

“No, I thought we would do them together. Besides, I have to tell you how to do them the St Anne’s way.”

“The St Anne’s way?” I groaned. “You have to be kidding!”

“Believe me, I wish I weren’t. But if you don’t do them right you will end up having to do them again, and then they will add even more. Wait till you learn about Saturday morning detentions and then you will really shudder. My best advice is to suck it up, do not think about it, do as you are told without thinking about it and imagine how good it will feel the day you leave here and become a free woman. You will think you have died and gone to heaven.”

I liked her optimism but somehow, I wasn’t in the mood to feel it.

“On the other hand,” she added, “we can do our lines tomorrow and go down to the common room. It’s Thursday night and ‘Top of the Pops’ will be on the television.”

I said, “Dianna, if you want to do that I’ll do it, but to be honest I am really not in the mood for socialising tonight. I think I would rather get these lines out of the way.”

My bum was starting to throb and I didn’t think I could stand to meet and talk in a nice way to a load of strange girls, particularly if they were anything like Astrid and Penny.

“Yes, to be honest I think I would rather get them out of the way and somehow it is easier to do them with someone who is suffering too. Let’s do the lines and then we will be free of the damned things for this long free weekend.”

She showed me how we did lines. We had to write our names at the top of each page, the date and who had set the lines. Also, we then had to write the due date. Then each line had to be written on a separate line of the page and there had to be a clean line after each written line. And no line could cross a page boundary. To make things much harder, each line had to be perfect, no spelling errors, no omitted punctuation, all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed and no crossings out were allowed. If you made a mistake, the entire page had to be discarded. Even worse, both sides of the page had to be used so that if you discarded a page you risked losing two pages of lines. This made the process a little nerve wracking since as you neared the end of the second page you had more lines to lose. The paper had to have a ruled margin and the line number had to be printed clearly in the margin.

It was painstaking work though it did take my mind off my bottom. We both laboured away in silence, but somehow it was comforting to have my new friend suffering with me. And some two hours later we both finished and we inspected each other’s work and could find no errors.

“See, that wasn’t so bad, particularly when we do them together,” said Dianna, leaning back in her chair and taking her glasses off. “Though sadly it is near time for lights-out but I think I’ll take a shower. What say you?”

I got up from my chair and wondered what hot water would feel like on my sore bum, and even more what Dianna would say when she saw the stripes painted there in the shower, but I might as well face it now.

“Do we have to straighten our ties to use the shower?” I asked, half facetiously.

“Not quite,” laughed Dianna. “We can strip off here and use our dressing gowns. Believe it or not, pyjamas or nightdresses and dressing gowns are considered correct school uniform and so are a way around the school uniform rules. They can only be worn in the dorm building and the bathrooms, which in any case are excluded from school uniform rules. You can wear a shirt and gymslip without the tie in the bathroom, though don’t step foot outside of it without your tie correctly knotted.”

I shook my head in disgust and wondered how much more silliness I would have to put up with. I was pretty sure the Royal Marines boot camp wouldn’t be half so difficult.

Together we stripped off and the moment came when she saw my backside.  Her reaction was predictable.

Her hand flew to her mouth and she said, “Oh my God. You have been caned. Horribly caned. I have never seen anything near half so bad. Aren’t you in agony? Did that bitch Haversham do that to you? So that was why you were gone so long. What the heck have you done? This is your first day, for God’s sake!”

I slipped on my dressing gown covering myself and holding my nightie and towel in my hands. I laughed. “Wow, what a lot of questions at once. Too many for me to remember. But look, as you pointed out, we don’t have long before lights out. Why don’t we get a shower and then I promise I will answer all your questions when we get back here.”

She was still in shock and had just stood there naked. I saw she had the beginnings of a wonderful figure. Dianna was beautiful and gorgeous and wonderful, all wrapped in one. I realised I was starting to have serious feelings for her. I took her own dressing gown out of her wardrobe and handed it to her and she slowly put it on.

“Lead the way,” I said.

She shook her head as though to clear it and off we went to the showers.

The shower room was really a large bathroom. The whole room was tiled and against one wall were six cubicles for toilets. Two more cubicles held bath tubs and then a separate wall ran next to another wall forming a white tiled passageway where there were six showerheads. It was thus a communal shower and there were three girls already there.

One girl, Roberta, was from the upper sixth form, then Cherry and Lorna were fifth years. Dianna introduced me and, as we disrobed and entered the shower area, my bottom immediately became the topic of awe, consternation and a little conversation.

Everyone of course wanted to know who had caned me, how many strokes I had gotten and Lorna asked what dastardly crime I had committed in my first few hours at the school that deserved such an obviously severe punishment. I told them the answers to the first two questions since in any case, only Miss Haversham could have given me so severe a caning, and they could pretty much count the bruises to determine the number of strokes.

But when the question of why came up I was surprised that it was Dianna that answered, “Hey that’s not a fair question. I am sure it is private for Laura. Whatever the reason, it is between her and Miss Haversham, and the fact that she has been caned means she has paid the price and is totally forgiven.”

“Yes Lorna,” added Roberta. “Just because you like to brag about your sins, and that incident where you were caught smoking behind the gymnasium, and which Miss Dorset gave you six of the best for last term, doesn’t mean that everyone wants to air their dirty laundry.”

Just as she said this, another girl entered and Dianna introduced her as Jane Powell, the Deputy Head Girl. Jane, of course, immediately noticed my bottom and she gave me a smile of sympathy.

I passed her in the shower as I was exiting and towelling off my hair and she whispered, “Impressive Laura. But, as they say, been there, done that,” and she gave me a wink.

Dianna later told me that Jane had indeed once received twelve strokes of the cane where it was thought that she had been cheating, only later being vindicated when the two actual culprits who had stolen some exam questions and answers had owned up and been expelled.

Dianna and I made our way back to our room and, after blow-drying each other’s hair, Dianna said, “Right Preston, nightie up, put the pillow in the middle of your bed and lie face down on the bed with the pillow under your hips. I am going to treat that obscenely painted bottom of yours with some Ponds cold cream mixed with some Arnica gel which will reduce the swelling overnight so you can actually get into your knickers in the morning. It’s my own recipe gained over long years of experience.”

“Look there is no need to…” I began.

But she interrupted me and said, “Silence girl. I am a prefect and you will obey me or I shall spank you AND you will write an essay and a couple of thousand lines.”

“As I said before, you are obsessed with spanking me.”

“Shut up Laura and do as you are told. I have vast experienced of treating spanked bums, I have had lots of practice with my own. Either shut up or I’ll shall use those ropes in your bottom drawer to tie you to your bed and cream your bottom anyway, after I have spanked it, of course,” she giggled.

I sighed. All I really wanted to do was get into bed.

A bell sounded and Dianna said softly, “Bloody bell. That’s lights out in five minutes and we have to keep our voices down now or the night duty prefect will come crashing in here. Now do as you are told.”

I placed my pillow as ordered, climbed on to the bed and she pulled open a pot of Pond’s cold cream and a tube of some gel. She smeared dollops of each on my bum cheeks and, sitting on the edge of my bed, she very gently massaged them into my skin.

She had barely started and another bell rang but she continued her work, whispering, “Wow, Laura, I do not know how to say this but I have never seen anything so vivid as this. Miss Haversham has given you one hell of a thrashing. Several strokes have overlapped. I cannot understand why you are not screaming in agony.”

I turned my head to look back at her, resting it on one arm. In a very quiet voice I said, “Well, the cream stings a little but your hand is incredibly soothing. And, though it is very sore, the pain isn’t altogether terrible, in fact in some ways it’s a bit…”

Dianna giggled. “I know. Erotic huh? It’s the dark side of caning for some. The pain afterwards is supposed to be nice. Is it like that for you?”

I nodded again. “Yes, it’s actually quite, arousing?”

“Lucky you. I have heard other girls occasionally say that, though I thought they were lying, or more likely bragging. I don’t see it myself. For me, the cane hurts terribly and there is nothing nice about it except m…”

“Except what?” I asked.

“Well, I shouldn’t say this but, while I hate being spanked, strapped or caned, I must admit that part of me would love to dish it out!”

“Why doesn’t that surprise me?” I giggled.

She smoothed her hand up and down my bum cheeks and it felt wonderful. I sighed in pleasure.

Softly she said, “Look, I know it really is none of my business and I meant what I said to Lorna Higgins about her having no right to know why you were caned, but I would be being dishonest if I didn’t tell you I am bursting to know. Somehow it just doesn’t seem right or fair that you were caned on your first day of school. I mean you barely know what the rules are so you can hardly be blamed for breaking one. And twelve strokes of the cane are almost unheard of. I promise I will never ask you again if you don’t want to tell me and, in any case, I will add it to the secret list I am already preparing for you. Surely it can’t be anything more outrageous than your love of bondage?”

I laughed. “Dianna, you are so precious. It’s all right. I always intended to tell you why I was caned, in fact I even told Miss Haversham that only you and of course myself and her would ever know. But I do want your word that it won’t ever get out, for you see, if it does, it will be all for naught. If you spill my secret my caning will have been a waste of my effort.”

She stopped massaging my bum and, with a puzzled look on her face, she said, “I repeat, your secret is safe, I swear on my grave that no one will ever drag it out of me, but for the life of me, I don’t understand how, even if it came out, how it could negate a punishment!”

I smiled and said, “It’s quite simple really. I asked Miss Haversham to cane me.”

I have seen Dianna looked surprised on many occasions since then, but that night, her eyes almost popped out. She dropped the pot of cream she was holding with her left hand onto the bed and then, as her eyes came back to focus on me, she started to say something, then she stopped as though a new thought had occurred to her. A whole minute passed and she looked at me while I simply smiled back.

Finally, she began, “I have to say that that is the most preposterous thing I have ever heard and wouldn’t for a moment believe you, except…” She paused and I continued to smile at her.

Finally, I prompted, “Except?”

“Well, except for the fact that the most preposterous thing I had previously ever heard of is that you use rope and other, toys? To tie yourself up? And you explained that so convincingly I believed you. Now you tell me you asked to be caned. And not just one stroke. Twelve strokes that look like they were the meanest Miss Haversham has ever delivered. It doesn’t even begin to make sense. I am supposed to be a logical person, a clear thinker. I have been told I would do well in law. But part of that is listening to people and knowing whether they are lying or telling the truth. You are so believable yet you tell the most incredible stories. Seriously, did you ask to be caned or are you just pulling my leg? You are destroying what little self-confidence I have in trying to determine the truth.”

I said simply, “As Perry Mason would say, I am telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I asked, actually pleaded with Miss Haversham to cane me, and eventually, after a lot of argument, she did.”

Dianna frowned. “Hmm, Perry Mason, which incidentally is one of my favourite television shows, would more likely say irrelevant, immaterial and incompetent, not to mention illogical and in fact bloody insane! For God’s sake girl, what possessed you to ask her to cane you?”

I sighed. Explaining this was getting old and I didn’t really want to go through the entire discussion I had had with Miss Haversham again. I thus tried to be a little more succinct.

“Several reasons actually,” I began. “First, for the last few weeks since I knew I was coming to this school I have been afraid of corporal punishment. We weren’t punished like that at my last school and what happens at St Anne’s sounded so barbaric. Yet, reading about the school, I knew I could probably do well here, achieve my A levels and get into a good university, hopefully Oxford or, better yet, Cambridge. Yet it is almost certain that with all these ridiculous rules I will end up getting at least a spanking, or more likely the cane. It was terrifying and I could think of nothing else. What is the best way to get over a fear that distracts you from enjoying life?”

“Face it,” she said immediately.

I nodded, “Exactly. The second reason is that every girl here has been pretty much at this school since she was eight. During that time, she has been punished, probably many times as she has grown up, and more than likely has been caned. Yet here I am, a new girl who knows nothing but who has not been through the fire. I am, as it were, attending the club, but I am not a club member. Yet being an accepted member of the club has huge advantages. Girls are in the swamp, up to their necks in it as it were, together and thus there is camaraderie. Each knows who they can trust or rely on because they have shared experiences. But until I was punished I could never be accepted. And the benefits of acceptance carry on long after a girl leaves this school. The alumni help each other and this is powerful in that world beyond the school walls. Ask My Aunt Sylvia what it really means on Sunday when you meet her. The quickest way I could be accepted was to be initiated, so to speak. To be hazed in a spectacular way that everyone knows about and respects. That’s why I asked for the maximum punishment Miss Haversham has ever given out, which turned out to be a dozen of the cane.”

Dianna looked at me and it was clear she understood. Finally, she said, “Oh Laura, you are mad! Completely mad, but I love you. What a spectacularly grand thing to do. I am in awe of you. Did you scream your head off?”

“Somewhat,” I lied. “It wasn’t very pleasant though to be honest while my bottom is very sore, the horrible sting has long passed and now it’s not actually unpleasant.”

“Mad and kinky. What an awesome combination! God, you have my admiration to go through with it. And yes, I see your point. If the girls here know why you did it then you would lose points because you haven’t done anything evil to have deserved it. However, I am surprised that you were able to talk Miss Haversham into doing it.”

“It wasn’t easy. Sometime I will tell you about it. But not tonight. I am tired.”

Suddenly there was a very firm loud knock on the door. A young woman opened the door dressed in polka dot pyjamas and she said rather aggressively. “Lights out girls! Didn’t you hear the bell?”

Then, as she came into the room and saw me prostrate on the bed with my nightie up and Dianna stroking me on the bottom, she said, “Oh.  Wow!”

“Sorry Heather,” said Dianna. “I was just putting some cold cream on Laura’s arse. When we showered together I found out she had just been caned by Miss Haversham. The silly girl didn’t let on earlier, so as soon as I got her back here I started putting the cream on. You can see it’s pretty bad. But I have almost finished.

“This is Laura Preston by-the-way. And Laura, this is Heather McPherson, our Head Girl and I guess our night monitor for the night.”

“Hello Laura,” said Heather. “I saw you introduced to the school at the evening meal and I also saw you go off with Miss Haversham. Is that when you copped this? She nodded at my bottom as she held out her hand.

I twisted around on my bed and shook her hand saying, “Hello Heather. Pleased to meet you. I just wish circumstances were a little different.”

She smiled.  “Yes, I suppose so. Can’t have been much fun for you on your first day at St. Anne’s. I suppose it is a bit of a shock, and it looks as though you copped it pretty hard. I’m sorry it happened but I really do hope this is your last time and that things will get better for you. I know these first few weeks will be hard and I shall try my best to look out for you.

“In the meantime, it’s my lousy duty to tell you two that it is past lights out time and, while I agree there are mitigating circumstances, please do try to finish quickly and get some rest. I hope I see you tomorrow and we can have a better chat. Perhaps I can get you to try out for the Hockey team?”

I nodded and said, “Maybe. It might be fun at that.”

She smiled and turned to leave when Dianna said, “Oh just a moment, Heather. Laura and I got caught for some lines earlier today and we have to turn them in to you at Monday morning’s assembly. Could you take them now so we can be done with them?”

“You have finished them?” asked Heather.

Dianna got off my bed, scooped the lines off of our desks and handed them to the Head Girl.

She looked at them, inspecting all the pages, and then she turned to Dianne and said, “And these were because your collar button was showing beneath your ties?”  She seemed astonished.

“I am afraid so, Heather. The two of us had been unpacking Laura’s trunk and putting her clothes in the wardrobe. I think we had both gotten a little warm and so we had gone to the kitchen down the corridor for a little refreshment. I suppose I was a bit lax and Laura had been here at the school for about an hour so it would never have occurred to her.”

“I see that Astrid gave them to you. She didn’t think to just warn you?”

Dianna shook her head.

“Well thank you, Dianna, and Laura too. Consider your punishment complete and do not worry about it anymore. Now, please get into bed, the both of you and get this light turned out. I’d tuck you in and kiss you good night but if I do that for you, the rest of the girls would want it too!” And she laughed.

I decided there and then I liked her.

“Good night, girls, sweet dreams.”

And with that she was gone. Dianna turned out the main light and turned on a little night light by the door. I watched her crawl into bed and she turned on to her side to face me and smiled.

I moved my pillow back to the head of the bed, folded back the blanket and sheet and was about to crawl in when I changed my mind. I carefully crept towards the nightlight that was in the socket by the bottom of the door and unplugged it. Then in the darkness, I crept back towards the bed.

I whispered, “Damned nightlights. They keep you awake and allow too much to be seen!”

I then reached Dianna’s bed and crawled in next to her. I whispered in her ear, “It’s been a very long day but I still have some learning to do.”

I heard Dianna giggle in the dark and she whispered, “S-A-A-L-E?”

“Well, let’s call it the practical part of the L-E.”

I felt her put her arm around me and pull me in closer. I did the same to her and our lips met. It was the first time I ever properly kissed a woman. I have to say it was far better than anything I had experienced up until then. We kissed and hugged and soon we were feeling each other’s breasts and both of us became aroused. What followed can only be described as one of the most pleasurable times of my life. Fortunately, there have been many, many more since. However, eventually we were both satiated and exhausted and as she fell asleep Dianna’s last words of that day were, “Laura, we have the rest of our lives together but we will always remember this day and this moment.”

She was right, and I have dreamed of it many times since.

Epilogue

So that was the story of the first time I met my life partner. We have been together now for over thirty years and have never really been apart for any lengthy periods. She is my best friend and lover and still as much fun as that first day we met. She went on to become Head Girl at St Anne’s and I became her deputy. I was never punished again though in fact I was probably spanked far more than any other girl who had been to St Anne’s or who has been there since. But that was Dianna’s doing. She hadn’t lied about her wish to spank girls and thus it was my bottom that, about every other day, felt her hand. And I loved it. The pain of that first caning from Miss Haversham set something up inside me and I became tolerant to it and addicted to it, and Dianna enjoyed it all the more.

These days, of course, she could give me a hundred strokes and my bottom barely turns red. It’s not really painful and the after soreness is nothing short of erotically arousing. Dianna also learned to satisfy my love of bondage and I always think we were a little lucky at school that our kinky sex was never discovered, though in later years Miss Haversham often intimated she knew what we were doing in the middle of the night, but since we never disturbed anyone she let us get away with it.

True to her word, Miss Haversham got me introductions into Cambridge, and Dianna too. We didn’t go to the same college but we still roomed together. Dianna studied law and is now a high court judge herself. I studied mathematics and cosmology, and am on staff as a senior lecturer in astronomy with my own research.

Life has been good to us indeed, and there are many other stories I could write about our time at St Anne’s. However, I shall close here and maybe, just maybe, I will recount another story of our time together at St Anne’s in the near future.

The End

© Angela Fox 2018

Angela welcomes contact from her readers. Email her at: angelafoxbooks@yahoo.com


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