Evening Visitors

Two girls from a neighbouring school make a night time visit to Queen Anne’s and discover a discipline regime very different to their own.

By Tara Patterson

The two St Marys pupils climbed over the five bar fence into the grounds of Queen Anne school, Ambleside. Below them, beyond the hockey pitches, the school, its lights twinkling in the water and, to the left, the ugly brick boxes of the two twin boarding-houses was a dark October night. A strong breeze blew large threatening clouds quickly across the sky.

“It’s over there,” said Zoe Kennedy, pointing her small torch in the direction of a small stone boathouse on the edge of the lake far below them at the bottom of the playing field in the shadow of one of the boarding houses.

Zoe was a sixth former with shoulder length blonde hair, blue eyed, medium build and athletic. She loved the outdoor school life in the Lake District and was close friends with quite a few of the Queen Anne girls through sailing and canoeing on Lake Windermere. Both schools had a keen rivalry but they shared facilities, often sailing together.

Her friend, Tina Simpson, paused and bent down for a moment. She pulled up her black tights and straightened her knee length light and dark blue tartan kilt. Their uniform was quite distinctive. In addition to the kilt made to the schools own pattern, the girls wore black lace up shoes, a white blouse, a navy blue blazer and vee necked jumper along with a tie in the same distinctive tartan as the kilt.

“Not really dressed for cross country hiking, are we? Thought we had had it back then when old Nosey drove past us on our school lane.”

“Good thing that big bush was there. My heart was in my mouth when we hid,” laughed Zoe. “Now come on. we are late. Those Sphinx girls have promised us a real feast tonight. I saw Holly earlier at sailing. She said her granny has sent her a cake and the others have spent a fortune on drinks and munchies in Booths this week. They owe us big time, especially as we thrashed them at hockey yesterday.”

It was a rather cramped gathering in the small stone boat house. Between the stacked canoes and sailing equipment, Tina and Zoe sat around a small camping Gaz lamp with two of Queen Anne’s fifth form, Poppy Miller and Abigale Walton. They all gossiped, laughed and ate cake. Sixth form girl Holly Elliot seemed more interested in talking to three local boys who had sneaked in through the side door. Two of the lads kept swigging from a large bottle of strong cider, while the other seemed to be edging ever closer to Holly. Suddenly a bright light shone through the front door of the boat house a voice shouted out.

“Stand up now, all of you!”

The boys bolted through the door they had come through. As they left the largest of the group, who had been kissing Holly when the light came on, grabbed the cider bottle and hurled it into the lake. The girls looked up. Through the glare they just made out the unmistakable shapes of two older females, both were dressed in black combat type trousers and dark woollen jumpers, one was wearing a woollen hat while the other older and more well-built lady had on a distinctive dark coloured beret worn in the military style.

“M-matron, we can explain,” stammered Holly as she stood up, shielding her eyes from the bright spotlight held by the very angry Matron.

*         *          *

The two St Marys girls stood outside the headmistress’s study deep within Queen Anne’s; on the door, a new brass plaque:

Miss A C Meanwood, Headmistress.

The corridor was dark and poorly lit. They had both been made to stand with their hands on their heads looking at the wall. It was panelled in a dark wood and covered with framed group photographs from the school’s past. It felt like an age since the three Queen Anne girls had been summoned inside.

“This place is like a museum,” Tina whispered.

As they waited, strange unfamiliar sounds came from inside the study. A swish, then a loud crack, followed by what sounded like a girl screaming. After several of these sounds, low voices were followed by more swishes, cracks and screams. The girls strained, trying to hear what was being said. The waiting was intolerable; soon they knew their own headmistress would arrive. The sounds repeated again. Then the heavy varnished door creaked open and the three Queen Anne girls very slowly crept out. All had tears running down their cheeks, Holly and Abigale both clutched their bottoms and sobbed as they moved. Tina and Zoe looked at them, trying to judge what had happened. Abigale and Poppy left without saying a work. Holly paused, she winced in pain and rubbed her bottom.

“You ok?” Whispered Zoe as she turned her head towards Holly. “What happened in there? Looks like your Headmistress gave you three a real hard time.”

“My first caning,” sobbed the sixth former. “I thought getting the strap last year was bad enough but that was torture. I got more strokes than the others because I was the oldest and the old cow made me wait till last. I had to watch her cane Poppy and Abigale. That was the worst bit. I’m blooming sure she enjoys doing it, too.”

“I didn’t think that was allowed anymore? It won’t happen to us,” said Zoe. She couldn’t help gloating a little over Holly’s misfortune. “Bet we only get gated, a month if we are unlucky, hopefully less.”

“Gated?” Asked Holly.

“Yeah gated, you know, grounded. Confined to the school grounds for a month,” whispered Zoe. “Bit of a skive really. It’s not that bad. You still get to watch telly and there is always the internet if you are bored. It’s just a pain you can’t go out, so no sailing for a few weeks.”

With that, Under Matron Patterson swept around the corner followed by another older, athletic looking, lady dressed in jeans, a white linen blouse and Birkenstock tee post sandals. The undermatron had changed from her black combat trousers and woolly jumper back into her normal maroon nurses uniform.

“Come on, Elliot, you know the rules,” she snapped. “Haven’t you girls got up to enough mischief tonight already? Surely you know it is forbidden to talk to girls standing like that waiting to see the headmistress. You were all told you must await your interview with Miss Meanwood facing that wall in silence. I have a good mind to send you right back in again to Miss Meanwood so she can deal with your disobedience. But I’m feeling generous, so be off with you before I change my mind. Now report to matron this instant like I know you have been told to.”

Holly gave a weak smile to her two friends and mouthed good luck before she made her way down the darkened corridor. The undermatron turned to her guest.

“Your girls Headmistress. It’s Miss Meanwood’s suggestion that they continue to wait out here for the time being so you both can discuss tonight’s unfortunate events and how you wish to proceed. The visitor looked at her two girls.

“What a mess, ladies. May I remind you both that we are visitors here and visitors should comply with their hosts’ wishes? You will be summoned in in good time. At least you are both wearing uniform.”

*         *          *

Miss Meanwood sat bolt upright behind her desk, dressed as ever in her tailored black suit and spotless white blouse. Miss Roberts, her counterpart from St Marys, rather more casually dressed, sat to the right. The two girls stood nervously in front of them. Tina smoothed down her kilt, trying to get rid of a muddy mark.

Miss Roberts began. “Just because I am dressed casually does not mean that this meeting will be conducted in an informal manner. You girls are in very serious trouble. I want the truth, and I have little time to waste on your disobedience and your stories. I’m sure you can Imagine I didn’t expect to be visiting another school at this time of night. In fact, I had just retired to bed when Miss Parker, my head of lower school, telephoned me to say she thought she had seen two girls in uniform lurking about in the woods next to the drive. Our caretaker and our groundsman then spent a considerable amount of time in the woods looking for the individuals involved. When they returned to say they had found nothing I had no other option but to conduct a full roll call. I was in the process of rousing the whole of the school when Miss Meanwood here contacted St Marys to say that her Matrons had apprehended two of my girls trespassing on her school grounds, fraternising with male persons unknown, with the suspicion of the consumption of alcohol.”

“Its lucky for all of you girls involved that we can’t prove for certain you were drinking. We know the boys were,” added Miss Meanwood. “We would be following a very different path if we could prove it. The other facts still remain and you are both in very serious trouble. You have caused your headmistress much stress and worry, not to mention the disruption to your school, the staff members who wasted their time looking for you and all of your fellow students to have their sleep interrupted for a roll call at this time on a Saturday night. As you saw earlier, I have dealt with my own girls most severely. So then, Ladies, let’s hear it. We have yet to discover who the organisers of tonight’s soiree were. Your chums were most reluctant to tell me, perhaps you can enlighten us?”

Tina swallowed. She was younger than Zoe. She didn’t know how to handle situations like this. She wasn’t often in trouble, let alone standing in disgrace in front of two angry Headmistresses.

“I-it wasn’t our idea, Miss,” she began. “W-we were just invited, that’s all. It’s a tradition, the losers of the interschool hockey have to treat the winners.”

Miss Meanwood interrupted her sharply.

“In this establishment, you address me as Ma’am or Miss Meanwood, and that, I’m afraid, is a rather pathetic excuse, young lady. There are sixteen members of a hockey team; that is thirty-two players in total. So why is it that we only caught five of you? Those boys who bolted, are they hockey players too? And two of my girls we caught don’t even play in the interschool matches. It isn’t a very well supported tradition, is it?”

“Perhaps we ought to move on to your punishment,” said Miss Roberts, looking up. “It seems you are going to be rather tight-lipped about who was the organiser as, too, were Miss Meanwood’s girls. So I think it would be right for us to assume that you are all equally responsible. The fact also still remains you were caught well out of bounds after our school curfew and you thought it appropriate to trespass on private property. It also seems, from what I overheard you saying when I arrived, that you hold our school punishment regime in some contempt. Trust me, girls, this time when you are gated it won’t be the easy time I heard you bragging about. It is going to be very unpleasant indeed.

“Firstly, on your return to St Marys, you will surrender to me your phones and all other electronic devices. Your access to television and the internet will be only for essential educationally use and how you use your free time will be decided by myself or your housemistresses, perhaps ether doing domestic chores or in the isolation room copying passages from the encyclopaedia. And as for the duration of your sentence, you will remain gated, not for a week, not even for a month, but until the end of term at Christmas!”

Both girls gasped. That sounded harsh, but the headmistress wasn’t finished yet. She stood up.

“As you may have noticed, they have a much more traditional approach to school punishment here at Queen Anne’s. Miss Meanwood feels that seeing how ineffective you think our methods are, and what little a deterrent they seem, then perhaps you ought to experience school discipline Queen Anne style. After all, you were found trespassing on their property. I’m inclined to agree with her, a caning would certainly leave an impression on you.”

Tina gasped again and began to beg.

“No, Ma’am, no, please, no, that’s barbaric. I couldn’t stand it, gate me please, suspend me, write to my parents but don’t…”

Miss Meanwood interrupted.

“We haven’t finished, young lady. Miss Roberts was about to explain that you have a choice of how you are to be punished. Your decision to be caned has to be made totally voluntarily and with your own free consent. The choice is down to you but I can assure you that whichever punishment you choose it will be carried out thoroughly with no opportunity to change your mind. I take it from your unnecessary outburst you wish to remain gated until Christmas?”

“Y-yes, Ma’am,” sniffed Tina.

“Very well,” said Miss Meanwood. “hands back on your head and wait in the corner. And you?”

The Headmistress looked at Zoe. She had a small sinister smile on her face. Zoe thought how intimidating Miss Meanwood looked. No wonder she commanded so much respect and fear from the Queen Anne pupils.

“Kennedy, isn’t it? Which punishment would you prefer? Being gated for the next nine weeks or a few quick sharp strokes of my cane? I know which option I would choose if I were in your situation, seeing as I know how much you enjoy your activities on the lake.”

Zoe thought for a moment. she bit her lip. What a choice; weeks of boredom with no sailing for a long time, or a very painful alternative. her mind darted between the two choices. Finally, her love of the lake won the day. She spoke but it almost didn’t seem like her answering the question.

“I’ll take the cane, please Miss Meanwood.”

“Very well,” said the headmistress of Queen Anne’s as she too stood up. She picked up a straight handled cane from the edge of her large desk. She looked critically at Zoe. “This is my senior cane, as you are a sixth former. I shall give you six strokes. But before I begin, you are going to tidy up your appearance. I hate seeing my pupils in a scruffy state and as you are going to be punished like one of my girls you ought to be dressed smartly, like I expect.

Zoe straightened up and tried to stand tall as Miss Meanwood pointed out the deficiencies in her uniform.

“From the top, please straighten your tie and fasten up that top button. Your jumper and skirt are grubby. when were they last washed? Pull your socks up, one up one down is not smart at all and as for your shoes, they haven’t seen polish in a long time, and tie your laces.”

Zoe quickly tried to smarten herself up. she fumbled with the top button of her blouse and wrenched her tie straight. She brushed the worst of the boathouse dust and cake crumbs off her jumper and kilt before she reached down and pulled up her knee length navy blue socks. Finally, she knelt and tied the loose laces of her left shoe.

“Better!” snapped Miss Meanwood. “May I suggest, Miss Roberts, that this young lady undergoes a period of regular uniform inspection to keep her up to the high standard of appearance I normally see from your girls?”

“Certainly, Headmistress,” replied Miss Roberts. “I’m afraid I often have to take Zoe to task about her standards. I’m hoping that you caning her will be just the shock she needs. Now shall we begin?”

Zoe felt a knot tightening in her stomach. This was it. A feeling of bravado came over her; it couldn’t be that bad, could it?

“Remove your blazer and kilt,” commanded Miss Roberts. “Then bend over this chair.”

Zoe did as she was told. She neatly folded her kilt and blazer before placing them on to an empty chair at the side of the room. She felt rather embarrassed standing like she was. Below her waist were just her white cotton knickers and a pair of navy blue knee socks. She pulled down on the bottom of her blouse, trying to protect her modesty.

“Bend over, Kennedy,” came the next command, Miss Roberts gesturing towards a chair in the middle of the study. Zoe bent over the back of the chair. Her trim pert bottom felt very vulnerable. She gripped the seat tightly.

“Keep a firm grip,” suggested Miss Meanwood. “It does help. It will steady you as I proceed with your punishment. Now, you are to remain in position. Do not move or straighten up until you are told. If you do, then I will award penalty strokes.”

The headmistress tapped her cane on Zoe’s tightly stretched knickers while Tina and Miss Roberts watched her every move. Zoe tensed up waiting for the first stroke. She felt infuriated and just wished Miss Meanwood would get on with the caning.

“On the bare, I think,” snapped Miss Meanwood. “I’m still not happy about your uniform, so this will be the penalty for your poor appearance.”

The Headmistress pulled Zoe’s knickers down her legs, picked up her cane, found her aim again, then:

SWISH CRACK.

Miss Meanwood stepped into a long hard swing. Zoe heard the cane cutting across her bottom, then she felt it, the intense searing sting. Zoe breathed deeply and grunted. She gripped the chair tightly and tried her best not to cry out.

“One,” Miss Roberts counted in the background.

SWISH CRACK

The second stroke was delivered higher than before. Again, Zoe tried to be silent. Her grip on the chair grew ever tighter.

After four strokes, Miss Meanwood paused.

“Would you like a moment for a breather, a chance to compose yourself, Kennedy? You are taking this rather well. I hate to say it, but you are being much stronger than my own girls were tonight.”

Zoe continued to grip the chair. She tried to remain focused. She just shook her head and closed her eyes.

SWISH CRACK

“Five,” counted Miss Roberts. “One more to go.”

SWISH CRACK

“Six. Punishment complete,” said Miss Roberts.

Zoe remained in position, still gripping the chair tightly. She felt a wave of elation and relief wash over her. It was over.

“You may get up and get dressed now, Kennedy.”

Zoe straightened up very gingerly. As she moved her hands down to pull up her knickers, she couldn’t resist feeling her bottom and giving it a gentle rub. She felt several hard lines beginning to form on her normally smooth toned behind; her whole bottom felt very sore. Miss Meanwood sat down and put her cane on the desk. Miss Roberts handed Zoë her kilt.

“Those cane weals will go in a week or two,” she said kindly. “It’s all over, just the paperwork to do now, then we are done. When you are dressed, please put your hands back on your head. Miss Meanwood likes it that way.”

Zoe fastened up her kilt, slipped on her blazer and stood before the two Headmistresses, hands on her head. Despite the intense throbbing of her bottom, she felt a private feeling of pride and achievement. She had experienced something that none of the other St Mary’s girls had done in recent memory. Miss Meanwood was filling out an entry in a large dark blue leather bound ledger. She turned the book to Zoe and offered her a fountain pen.

“This is our punishment record, Kennedy. I have filled out all the details of your punishment. You just have to sign in this column. You will notice I have entered St Mary’s in place of our usual house name.”

Zoe took the pen and signed the record below that of her friends. As she read the entry, Miss Meanwood continued to speak.

“It would be best if you were to remain here tonight. Matron likes to keep an eye on pupils that have just been caned,” the head gestured to behind Zoe to where Undermatron Patterson had been standing. Zoe hadn’t even noticed her in the room until now. “Please could you take Kennedy to Matron, find her a nightie and some overnight things from the laundry. Matron will know which room will be best to put her in. Once Matron has examined her, please see that she remains in her dormitory until the morning. And please ensure that she is a little more smartly dressed tomorrow when Miss Roberts comes to collect her.”

“Yes, Ma’am,” said the Undermatron. “This way please, Kennedy.”

Zoe gingerly followed the undermatron out of the study. Despite her best efforts at being strong, the tears were starting to flow. Miss Roberts turned to Tina.

“Right then, home and bed for us too. I will see you at eight-thirty sharp in my study.”

As they left, Miss Roberts turned back to and spoke to Miss Meanwood.

“Thank you for dealing with this situation so thoroughly. I’m sorry again that two of my girls have caused you this inconvenience. I’m sure it will not be happening again once word goes around how you deal with trespassers. Oh, and I almost forgot to say Alex, congratulations on your promotion to Headmistress. I can see this school is in safe hands with you at the helm.”

The End

© Tara Patterson 2017