College and workplace discipline

By Mary Desmond

(The next installment to American In London and Returning Home)

I was filled with all kinds of excitement as I sat waiting for the announcement to board a plane for the flight to London from the United States. I would be starting my career with a prominent worldwide accounting firm. I had secured employment after making a good, or should I say, a great impression while completing my internship at their London office. The internship was one of the requirements of my final term of studies before graduation from my University. One of the best parts of the internship was having the opportunity to travel overseas to complete it. Now all of the graduation parties were over. The late nights out with friends and my free time was done. I had said my goodbyes to my parents several minutes ago at the security gate and now it was time to meet the big world on my own with the start of an exciting, and hopefully promising, career.

I was also looking forward to meeting up with friends that I had made during my overseas stay, plus all of the excitement of the busy big city life which was quite different from my quiet suburban upbringing. It all sorta hit me as I sat there in the airport terminal thinking, ‘Wow, this is it!’

While looking out at the planes and airport workers shuffling around on the tarmac, I found it a little hard to fully enjoy the excitement of the moment. I kept shifting in my seat trying to find a comfortable position due to a very sore bottom that I received just yesterday. According to my mother, it will serve as my reminder to be good and watch myself in the future as I start on life’s journey.

Mom and I are much closer than ever before after I finally admitted to a bad moment from my high school days and I received my long overdue punishment with an old belt that we dug out of storage. The punishment was mostly all my doing. I mean I could’ve left things unsaid, but I wanted to clear it up between my Mother and I and finally get it off my chest. While going through some deep soul-searching and reflection during my internship stay, I realized that my past had been eating at me and also constantly stirring up a certain curiosity deep within. I felt I needed help in dealing with this and, ironically, that same curiosity helped push me towards my admission plus a resolution.

Things were brought out into the open during a tearful meeting with the Headmaster of Wellington Academy in London where l had met him while attending a night class there, all during the last few weeks of my stay. We discussed everything that I had admitted to in my letter to him. He made me think of things that I never really thought about between my mother and me. I felt absolutely terrible about it and realized that I needed to set things right with my mother to get back to the relationship that we once shared. I just had to tell her what I did, but I didn’t know how to start that conversation with her. Finally, it all quickly spilled past my lips after I asked her about the old belt that she used to have, which brought her to ask all of the right questions including, “Why the sudden interest?”

The belt was something that she kept around to keep my older brothers in line during their mischief years. I remember them bullying a kid down the street, which didn’t go well at home. I was always well-behaved, but just knowing about the belt back then was more than enough to keep me out of trouble. But, I felt my time had come and wasn’t surprised at what happened. After finding it stored away, she came to the same conclusion and promised to give me a good one for what I had done back then. The worst part of it all was the waiting and seeing it hanging there every day in the kitchen in plain sight, making me wait until my very last day home before putting it to use for the very first time on my bottom.

My conscience is cleared but now, as I shift in my seat once again, I’ll have several hours of sitting on a sore backside on a long flight to reflect on my past behavior and remembering the promise she made to me that I will know what to expect in the future, even as a young woman if I ever need it again.

Regrettably, I made it worse for myself by adding a little visit to Mr Lane’s upholstery restoration shop after receiving my punishment from Mom. I didn’t tell my mother any of this, but I went over for a second time late yesterday afternoon while still wearing my former school’s uniform.

I’m not sure what drove me to go over there. I was a bit mad at him for making that belt for my Mom in the first place. Then there was his taunting and teasing me about my upcoming punishment when Mom sent me to his shop to pick up a bottle of leather conditioner and I told him I had to work on the belt. With seeing the ‘all telling’ look on my face, he could easily figure out why there was a sudden need to restore that old belt to a supple condition.  But he got my curiosity going when he invited me to come back so he could show me some other things that he was making in his back room which had nothing to do with his main business.

On my way over there I thought, what would I do or say? Yell at him for making that belt that made my bottom so sore, or for the taunting that he gave me when I picked up that conditioner? Or was it that I was so curious to see more of the other side of his business that wasn’t at all related to car seat restoration that made me feel that it was necessary for me to go over there? After all, he did spark my interest by inviting me to come back and see for myself.

When I entered, my eyes were drawn to a project that he was working on. I’m not sure what year it was but the old red truck was beautifully restored. The shiny paint job stood right out under the bright lights from the otherwise dark shop. As I walked up to it, Mr Lane appeared from out of nowhere.

I forgot all about going off on him, like I wanted to, after Mr Lane greeted me and started talking about the project before me and opened the driver’s door so that I could peek inside to see what he had done with the seats and door panels. We walked around as he continued to talk about the rest of the vehicle and after a while he changed topics by saying that he had seen me earlier walking down the street and stopping to talk to Mrs Walker, our nearby neighbor. He was silent for a moment and was obviously staring at me as I stood there dressed in my school uniform. I was becoming nervous under his gaze and could see that he was quickly adding things up and putting two and two together. He easily figured out that it must all be part of my punishment and today was the day!

He finally came right out and said, as he tugged at the side of my skirt, “Mind if I see how good you got it?” I stepped away and hesitated before giving in for some reason, and turned sideways, raising my skirt up one hip to offer a peek. My anger was starting to come back. It was like saying, “See what I got because of you?”

He immediately said, “Come on Kate. I’ve known you for a long time; you’re almost family. I can remember you riding your tricycle up and down the sidewalk in your pull-ups, for heaven’s sake! Let’s have a better view than that. I just want to see your mother’s work and how well the belt performed.”

With a little guidance, he had me leaning forward into the tailgate of the pickup truck that was already lowered and instructed me to grab hold of my skirt that he had quickly raised. He sounded a little too excited as he said, “I don’t usually get to see the results from my work!” I jumped a little as I felt his hand rubbing and then his large fingers pulling the waistband of my panties up a little over my sore bottom. I gave out a little whimper but didn’t resist and adjusted my stance a little for his inspection.

“Very good! Very good indeed! I can see that you prepared the belt well, Kate. Good job. The belt easily followed the curves of your bottom. Yes, very good!” He commented as he poked and squeezed like he was at a vegetable stand.

I softly whimpered during his inspection. “Oh, sorry. A little sore? I’m sure!” he said with a little snicker. I only nodded my head as I looked back over my shoulder at him with a bit of an angry scowl forming on my face.

He said, “Thanks for letting me look,” and stood up straight near my side. When our eyes met, I felt a sudden chill like he could see right through me. I released my skirt, letting it fall down. As he put a hand on my shoulder he said, “I think what you’re really here for is to see what else I have from the back room, right?” I looked a little toward him and nodded my head slightly without hardly thinking.

He said, “Let me help you with this,” and helped me take off my blazer and lay it on the truck’s tailgate. He leaned in and said, “Wait here, I’ll be right back!” I said that I should be going or something like that. My head was spinning like mad but my curiosity told me to accept his reassuring words as he said that I would be fine and I had to see what I came over for.

I followed him with my eyes as he disappeared into the back room. He returned shortly afterwards carrying a short leather single tail whip that was about two feet long including the handle. He held it out before me to look at and encouraged me to touch it. I could see that the end was split in two like a snake’s tongue while he flicked the end of it in his fingers. He asked if I was scared. With wide eyes I shook my head, no, but I was seriously having second thoughts about even coming to see him. At this point, I was feeling even more dizzy and couldn’t hardly even remember walking into his shop, but here I was.

He set the whip down across the tailgate and quickly brought over a high stool for me to sit on. He had me sit down facing towards the back of the truck, promising that he wouldn’t do it hard or hit my already sore spots. I didn’t say a word and followed his guidance as he gently pushed against my shoulder to have me lean forward and place my hands and then my elbows on the tailgate enough to where I had my upper weight leaning on them. He then raised the back of my skirt, tucking it into my waist, exposing my panty covered bottom.

He quickly proceeded to lightly lash across my upper cheeks where Mom barely touched with the belt. I adjusted my feet, spreading them to steady myself. I let out little playful moans because what he was doing didn’t really hurt. I cried out with little yelps as he continued with a harder snapping strokes that felt more like stinging bites. Mr Lane turned his target to down the outside of each thigh, walking from side to side and lashing from across and down to the opposite side. These really stung as it was landing on the tender bare flesh of my legs. My little whimpering became “Oohs and Ahh’s,” but I told him that he could continue when asked if “I was okay” and if I wanted him to stop.

He said, “Just a few more, Katie.” After another good sharp one, Mr Lane paused to say, “You remember my son Timmy, don’t you Kate?”

I looked to him and meekly nodded yes.

“You used to babysit him and get him in trouble by tattling on him all of the time.”

I turned my head around to see Timmy had been standing there. I didn’t know how long he had been watching, but there I was getting a playful demonstration whipping from his dad. How embarrassing it was for me now that a boy a few years younger than me was watching my partially exposed red bottom, as least a little of it, getting a little redder and with fresh stripes now running down each thigh. And to think that he just heard me ask Mr Lane to continue! I wanted to die, but I just closed my eyes and took a few more of what I just asked for. I opened my eyes when Mr Lane stopped and I saw Timmy standing at the side of the truck.

After saying to Mr Lane that I had to go, I just got up and grabbed my school blazer and scurried off home. Well that explains my added discomfort on my flight to London.

Filled with nervous energy, I again checked that I had packed all of my important papers, including my passport. I also reviewed my boarding pass for the flight number, gate, and times to make sure I was sitting at the right location. As I looked through my carry-on tote bag, I pulled out the thick envelope that my mother had given me and stared at it while holding it in my lap. She must have reminded me about it a half dozen times with instructions for me to hand it in to Ms Compton at the Wellington Academy where I had previously taken that computer class during my stay in London. Ms Compton is the efficient secretary to Mr James Leary, the Headmaster of the Academy.

I knew that one document in the envelope was the official letter sent home from the office of the Headmaster to my mother that outlined my full confession that I had made in his office. It spelled out the events surrounding my obtaining an illicit spanking magazine during my senior year at St Joseph’s high school during a paper collection drive, and the Headmaster’s subsequent dealing with me. I refer to it as illicit because I knew that I was underage at the time, and shouldn’t be viewing such materials anyway. My mother definitely wouldn’t approve of such and I was certainly brought up to know better.

Both Mom and I were required to sign the letter and return it to Mr Leary’s office as proof that the matter had been discussed at home, which was typical for all regular students. It was that little voice from my conscience that seemed to make the whole matter resurface all of these years later. Plus, I let my curiosity get away from me wondering just how Mr Leary would deal with a girl like me after I learned that the cane was still used at the Academy. On the other hand, I really wanted to once and for all put the whole thing behind me, and I strongly felt that the best way was to seek the wise advice of Mr Leary. I willingly confessed to what I had done and let the chips fall where they may, so to speak, relying on the experience of the esteemed Headmaster. I didn’t account for my curiosity playing such a large part as to how it all played out. After the words of the Headmaster’s lecture sunk in, I realized that I owed a sincere apology to my mother for my actions and deception. Recounting the whole story to my mother led to the present state of my bottom.

What really concerned me more about the envelope that I held in front of me were the other documents my mother stuffed inside. I had watched her filling out forms and doing stuff on the computer. She had me sign under her signature in a few places and placed all the forms along with that letter into the envelope. I flipped the envelope over and saw that it was a tamper resistant envelope with a security seal, so there was no chance of taking a peek inside. My mother had become quite acquainted with Ms Compton through all of this. It was a little more than I was comfortable with. I knew that they had exchanging several emails. She even referred to Ms Compton as Barbara when she spoke of her. I’m sure that it was Ms Compton that provided all of those extra forms to my mother and now I was worried as to what I had signed. I’m sure my mother has my best interest in mind no matter what.

I stuffed the envelope back into my bag as they started to board passengers. I had plenty on my mind for the very long flight; excitement for my career, satisfaction that I had made things right with Mom, and a sore bottom as a reminder to be good and mindful of my actions.

After I arrived in London, I had a few days plus the weekend to get settled into my old apartment and get everything just right before reporting to work on the following Monday. I met with the personnel department first thing and was given my work schedule. I was shocked to learn that my schedule would include being enrolled in classes for the summer session at the Wellington Academy. I said out loud, “Classes?” I was further surprised to find out that on Fridays I would report directly to the Academy for the classes instead of work. This wasn’t going to be a simple night class like I was attending during my internship here. I was told that I would have a Literature class, a History class and a PE class. I had to ask, but it was confirmed I would work four days and then attend school for classes on Fridays. To be honest, I had forgotten that during my interview for this position, the CFO, who was present, had said that I would be taking additional classes at Wellington on my return, but I had the impression that it would be a night class here and there like before as it related to work.

“PE class?” I asked. “As in physical education?”

“That’s correct, Ms Mitchell,” the woman answered. She added that I could find out more by contacting the Academy.

After it was confirmed, I thought to myself, ‘Are they kidding me?’ Then I whispered under my breath, “Whatever,” as I filled out some paperwork for payroll that was pushed across the table. I took the packet that was handed to me as the meeting finished. I sat back and reminded myself that they were paying me and very well at that, so I’ll follow with the program. Then suddenly I realized if I’m going to school, I’d have to wear the Academy’s uniform again, and then I remembered the envelope. I thought to myself, ‘Oh my gawd, how could I have forgotten about the envelope? Mom’s going to kill me! I promised her that I’d drop that off. I should’ve done that last week as soon as I arrived. I had all sorts of time.’

At my first opportunity, I made a call to Ms Compton and made arrangements to stop by her office and bring in the envelope. She told me she would be there late the next day which would allow me just enough time to go there right after work.

*                                   *                                   *

In the office of Mr David Garrett, the of CFO at the London office of a major accounting firm, he met with Ms Mitchell’s immediate supervisor, Mary Murphy.

Mr David Garrett: “I want you to keep Kathryn Mitchell as busy as you can. Go ahead and give her plenty of work and let me know how she’s doing. Notify me immediately if something isn’t 100%. Understood?”

Ms Mary Murphy: “Yes, I will, David. I have no problem with that. I can see watching over her during her probationary period, but I just don’t see what’s up with her going to the Academy on Fridays. I’m usually short on help most Fridays, due to employees taking off during the summer months. I could use the help.”

Mr Garrett: “It’s a little trial experiment we are running with the Academy. Just keep me informed on her performance and I’m sure that you can figure out the work schedule.”

The experiment he was referring to was something that he hoped would play out with his new hire. He had learned a little secret about Ms Mitchell from his good friend, James Leary, the respected Headmaster of Wellington. The two men met over several drinks late one night after an Academy Board meeting, which they are both members of. Mr Garrett always enjoyed stories from his good old buddy who would often recount the details of an unfortunate student that had been called to stand before him. He always was able to recall a good one to tell, especially ever since the Academy started to admit those girls that didn’t fit in at other educational institutions. Parents were happy to send their wayward daughters here instead of them ending up in a reform school or worse. This kept Mr Leary and his cane very busy. This time the Headmaster shared the unusual details of a confession and subsequent request to be caned, all to satisfy the guilty conscience of this particular young lady who he claimed sought his help. Mr Leary, with a Psychology background, explained how he dealt with the twenty-two-year-old.

After David learned that this girl wasn’t even a student, he knew that he was in for quite a story. He immediately ordered another round of their favorite scotch at the tavern and they moved away from the bar to a table off in the corner. Leary sat down and continued. Since the misdeed occurred a number of years ago, he was going to turn the clock back for her, back to the time when she was still in school. He told her if he was going help her deal with her conscience that she must be willing to follow and agree to all of his conditions. The young lady must submit a written confession with any and all pertinent details, agree to abide by the Student Handbook, and consent to appear before him in the full Wellington uniform, just as any other student would, so that he could discuss the matter with her.

He continued telling all of the details of that Saturday morning meeting where she would be called out on each and every point that was in her confession letter.

David said, “Well, come on, man, what did she do? Set the school on fire? Rob a bank?”

After learning that this was all over taking possession and hiding an old spanking magazine, David was beside himself with excitement. James Leary finished his whole story with all of the details, some a little more embellished from the truth, as some stories go. When Mr Leary finally finished he revealed that the girl in fact was currently completing an internship at Garrett’s accounting firm. David nearly spilled his drink at hearing this! They raised their glasses and clinked them together before ordering one more.

Mr Garrett was certainly impressed with Ms Mitchell’s qualifications, certainly enough for an employment offer, but after hearing his friend spill her little secret, he was more than willing to endorse hiring her. He used his connection with both the Board and the accounting firm to set his plan in place. He hoped that his friend, James Leary, would have another interesting story to tell in the future.

*                                   *                                   *

I was shown around and got settled in at my workstation on my first day at work. The next day, there was plenty to do at work, but I had to leave on time to get over to see Ms Compton as it was the only day she was able to stay late enough to meet with me. Walking up the sidewalk to the entrance of this old institution brought back memories of my last time here and my meeting with the Headmaster. I was walking along just fine, but suddenly a cold shiver ran through me and I felt a little weak in the knees. The sound of my heels echoed down the empty halls as I walked down the tiled floors of this old majestic building. I wondered if I’d see Mr Leary today. I took a look around as I approached the door to the outer office of the Headmaster. As I opened the door to Ms Compton’s office, an image flashed in my head of my last time entering here while being escorted by Mr Bixby.

Ms Compton had a bright smile as we exchanged greetings. She asked how I was doing and then asked how my mother was, saying that, “She seems very nice.”

I held out the thick white envelope made from tyvek material which should have been in her hands days ago. She took it and set it down. She saw me stare at the door to Mr Leary’s office and guessed what was on my mind, letting me know that he was away on holiday.

She said, “First, there’s one thing that I need to take care of that we didn’t do the last time you were here. As I remember, you were in a bit of a mess, but it was my fault for forgetting procedures and not following through as things were all a little bit unusual.” As she was talking, she opened a dark leather-bound journal and flipped through the pages before turning it around and sliding it across her desk toward me, then handing me a pen.

She said, “Sign right here,” as she pointed under the line where my name had been written. I read the entry with wide eyes reading:

Kathryn Mitchell: Four strokes with the Senior Cane for admittedly breaking the Student Code of Conduct, plus Two additional for the discovery of inappropriate digital materials on an electronic device. J Leary. 

I looked at the entry date and remembered it well, with the events of that day flashing through my head. With a trembling hand, I signed my name right below the entry. Ms Compton took the pen and book back to add her initials, then closed it, setting it on the corner of her desk. I could now clearly see and read the gold imprint on the cover: ‘PUNISHMENT RECORD’.

My eyes remained fixed upon the book with a knot forming in my stomach and thinking to myself that this ledger would eventually sit in the Academy’s archives forever with my name in it.

The sound of a sharp letter opener pulled my attention away from the ledger and now to the contents being pulled from the envelope. Ms Compton laid the papers out before her and began reviewing what I had delivered. The papers were flat on her desk and I could see some of what she was reading. First, she quickly reviewed the letter that both Mom and I had signed. She opened a folder that had been sitting on her desk. I could clearly see that the folder had my name on it. I recognized some of the papers already in the folder as the ones from my previous visit with Ms Compton. I never thought that they would keep my written letter on file. She added the signed Disciplinary Letter to my file. Next, she flipped through the rest of the papers I brought and I had to ask what they all were as she was reviewing them.

Ms Compton said, “Well, as you know, your employer has enrolled you in classes here, even paying for all tuition and fees, but your mother asked to know more. Actually, she sent an email asking what she needed to do to become more involved in this process and be fully advised as a parent. So, I had your mother go through and fill out a set of enrollment forms plus all of the other required forms. I’m sure you know that with the way the laws are today with sharing information like medical and all, well anyways, now I have everything needed here.”

I said, “Yes, I guess I can understand that. My Mom is very efficient and well organized. She had me sign a few times. We kind of did it pretty fast without me looking at it.”

Ms Compton said as she flipped through the papers, “Yes, I see it here, and here, yes, and over here as well. Enrollment form, Student Code of Conduct, the Notifications form, Release for School Records, and Medical Records and then your Punishment Letter from last term that I just added to your file.” She looked up at me and said, “I’m sure you must’ve read that one over. Well, everything’s all set.”

I said, “What’s with all of these forms? Like the notification one?”

Ms Compton replied, “The Notification Form? It kind of goes along with the Student Code of Conduct form. It’s the full parental version, much like what I had you provide last term before you met with Mr Leary stating that you have read and will follow all of the rules of the Academy, except with this form a parent or guardian signs as well in acknowledgment of the rules. The form asks to list all contact information here. Emails, phone numbers, and emergency contacts too.”

Ms Compton added, “That way, all student’s grades are shared, along with any teacher correspondence. If any Conduct infractions occur, they are reported along with the appropriate decisions awarded by the Headmaster. You won’t have to request a letter to be sent home like what happened with this one here that I just added to your file. If you remember, Mr Leary wanted to send it but you were against that at the time, but later requested one sent. Now, letters will be sent automatically and, as you know, are required to be returned with signatures,” she said as she pulled out and held up my letter momentarily. “Newsletters are also sent out by email.”

I wanted to protest the intrusion of my adult rights, but Ms Compton spoke over me when I began.

She added, “In my correspondence with your mother, she stressed that she was concerned for you being so far away from home. I told her that we would take good care of you while you’re here and keep her connected.  Anyways, she has agreed to everything here,” as she motioned with her hand over the papers in front of her. “From what she wrote in one of her emails, she wanted you to have the same privileges as the rest of the students here at Wellington regardless of your age and, from what I understand from your mother, you’d want that too, correct?”

I still wanted to say something, but bit my lower lip and held on to my words. I realized that it was senseless to argue the point as I looked down at everything on her desk. It was all properly signed and submitted now. I lowered my head slightly and paused with my hands folded in front of me and fully accepted my status as a student at Wellington, even if it was just part-time, by saying, “Yes Ma’am.”

After I thought about it for a moment, why should I expect to be treated any differently if I’m to be going here? It wouldn’t be fair to the rest of the students, and I kind of wanted to not stand out from the others. My mother had everything in order and signed off on everything, even sharing my records. Mom might be miles away, but I guess she was doing the best she can to look out for me. She has it set up so I will be under the watchful eyes and care of the school staff plus she will be kept well informed, at least as far as school is concerned. I’ve got to accept that this is the way it is and do my best here. Besides, I reminded myself that my employer is requiring my attendance here and paying me very well. I imagine that this is only for this one term.

Ms Compton asked if I still had my uniform, which I simply nodded yes to. She said, “Looks like you are enrolled in a Literature class, a History class and a PE class. Classes start next week. Students this week will be coming in to get their schedules, books, course planners and the like. You will need to pick up your gym kit as well. Oh, and you need to get your photo for your student identification card, so plan on coming in wearing your uniform on Friday morning. Any questions?”

I answered, “No Ma’am,” and with that she closed my file and bid me “Good day.”

I left and realized I needed to quickly change my attitude and just go with the program as I walked down the hallway toward the main entrance. I was feeling a little depressed as things weren’t going as I had expected, but I told myself that I need to learn to deal with it. Ms Compton caught up with me outside and was less business-like and I accepted her offer for a ride. Away from school, I think we could be good friends. She saw that I was a little down and reassured me that things will be fine. She said that she was excited for me with my new job and all. We had a very good conversation on the ride to my place and I told her that I hope to see her again on Friday. I was pretty beat and didn’t do much when I got home. I ended up going to bed early.

Work kept me busy. Day after day there seemed to be a little more to do. I’d have my desk almost cleared off at day’s end and there would be a pile waiting for me in the morning. With Friday scheduled as a school day for me, I dreaded the thought of what I might find on Monday morning.

I called home to check in with Mom on Wednesday after work. We chatted for quite a while and then I apologized about the envelope, with the excuse of being so busy when the subject of Wellington Academy came up. I told her I was so sorry for not taking care of it right away as I was supposed to. She said that Barbara had already sent an email to let her know when she received it. I asked her if she had known all about me going back to school. She told me that she just found out about the whole arrangement with Barbara’s email, which included my schedule. I complained to her about it but we both agreed that my employer was paying for it and obviously required my attendance.

After a short bit of silence, I said, “Well, again I’m sorry for not dropping off that envelope Mom, but while we’re talking, I have another thing to tell you. Well, umm, well, after finally getting my punishment from you, Mom,  later that day I-I walked across the street to Mr Lane’s shop and…”

She stopped me there by saying, “I’m glad you brought that up. I happened to run into Mr Lane over the weekend. He told me about you going over there and he had quite a story to tell after I questioned him about it.” She said, “You can be sure that we will be discussing it further in the future.”

I was silent for a moment before saying, “Yes Ma’am.” I couldn’t change the subject soon enough. I ended the call with a sincere, “I’m really sorry, Mom. I love you, talk to you soon.”

I stayed at work late on Thursday night to get caught up as best as possible. I felt I had earned a night out after a tough first week and went out to catch up with friends that asked me to join them at a favorite pub. Some of them were from work. I became a bit concerned when one of the guys from work took me aside and warned me to watch myself. He said that some things didn’t seem right, but he wasn’t sure. He mentioned the amount of work thrown my way that seemed unusual for a new hire, but didn’t say much more, which left me wondering. I told him that I was struggling a little but shrugged it off by saying that I could handle it. We went back to hanging out with the rest of the group and had a good time the rest of the night.

I overdid it a little that night and woke up with a mild hangover. The first thing I saw through half-opened eyes after looking at the clock was my uniform that I set out for myself, which reminded me of the plan for the day. I was really glad I had made sure it was freshly ironed and ready last night before going out. I rolled over on my side and dreaded the thought of having to attend school once again and how my mother was in full agreement with the arrangement. I thought about all of the paperwork that was submitted on my behalf from her. I felt like I got duped into agreeing to it all with my signing as well just because I wanted to be here for this career opportunity. Maybe I should have taken the job close to home, like she wanted me to. She wouldn’t have done this to me. I wouldn’t have to be going back to school.

It would be a tough start this morning with my headache and the plain fact that I didn’t want to go, but I had plenty of time. A shower helped to clear my head and I did everything else needed to get cleaned up and ready in the bathroom before having something to eat. It had been a busy first week back in London, as I looked back over all that happened. Today would be different. Not as hectic as the busy corporate world, but a world with a completely different level of responsibilities and at a different pace. Still, there will be rules to follow, class assignments, deadlines and schedules to keep, but I had to agree that many things are decided for you. What to wear was one of them, and now it was time to get dressed into my uniform as I checked the clock.

I walked into my bedroom and paused when I saw my outfit for the day set out before me. A crisp white button-down blouse, gray pleated skirt, maroon blazer, all hanging up and waiting for me. My thoughts went back to the last time I had to wear it to the Academy. From walking down the street and standing at the bus stop, then walking into school. I remembered how it seemed like everyone was staring at me. This morning felt like going back in time, including being the student I once was. Hopefully today would be different than the last few times I wore a uniform. I was hoping for it to be more like being back at St Joseph’s High, and not like being pulled over my Aunt Clara’s lap or bending over the back of a chair for the cane in Mr Leary’s office.

I started by pulling out a pair of plain white cotton panties to wear as I had done so many times years ago when getting dressed for school. I followed a routine that was all so familiar to me. I looked into the full-length mirror at myself after putting on each piece of my outfit for the day. It seemed to help turn back the clock again and get my head in the right place for the day. By the time I finished getting dressed, I was determined to make the most of this situation and treat it as an opportunity and learn from the classes that I was taking.

I looked in the mirror to check myself one last time before heading out for the bus stop. I saw a young Kate Mitchell looking back. I was all dressed in the complete Wellington uniform; a white blouse with a striped tie in school colors that I straightened, a gray pleated skirt and my maroon blazer with the Academy’s crest on the left chest pocket.

I walked along in my low heel black leather shoes full of confidence on my way to the bus stop. Not as a recent university graduate with a bright career in front of her but much more as I did when attending St Joseph’s High School as a senior in the top of her class. I was feeling comfortable in a uniform again, even though I was the only student around, and I noticed that there were so many more people this Friday than my last time riding the bus heading for Wellington on a quiet early Saturday morning.

Once at the Academy, I picked up my Student packet and then English Lit class materials as I met with the instructor, Mr Steven Wright, who seemed nice but spoke like he was a bit full of himself. Next, I met with Ms Richards who will be the instructor for Modern British History and I was handed a folder for that course. She seemed very nice and well educated. I thought that this is a great course to learn about the people and how present-day UK came to be the great nation that it is. Next, I went over to the athletic offices and met my class instructor, Ms Ann Clayton. She had the athletic build that you would expect to see. She looked to be in her mid-thirties, and apparently played here at Wellington in her earlier years, as I would learn later on. She lost me when she started talking about net ball and rounders, but she went on and said we’ll be doing conditioning and fitness training with a lot of distance running this term.

She helped me pick up my required gym attire, which consisted of a white polo shirt with an embroidered Academy’s crest and a maroon skirt. She acted surprised that I didn’t have my gym kit already and asked if I was a transfer student, to which I simply answered, “Sort of.” Then I was assigned a locker in the changing room.

Next, I had to go back to the main hall to get my picture taken for my student ID. Ms Barbara Compton was at the table, along with other staff members. I spoke to her off to the side and asked her if she had any plans for the weekend, and we agreed to meet for lunch tomorrow. I also found out that Mr Leary would be back on Monday. There was something comforting about hearing her say that as it put things in order for me.

I went to the library next for the first time to check out some of the books that would be part of my classes. I also navigated around other parts of the campus that I had never seen, including a rose garden off of the library that looked like a nice quiet area to sit and read that I think I’ll be using between classes. I even passed by the room where I previously went for my night class for a computer program.

On the bus ride back to my apartment, I glanced through the materials that I had picked up and stuffed into my backpack. As I sat there, I pulled out my new student ID card and held it in my lap. As I looked down past my blazer and school tie, there was my picture looking back up at me wearing a bright smile in my full uniform. I looked it all over. ‘Wellington Academy’ in bold letters stood out across the top and there was the school’s crest along with my name, signature, the school year and on the back, a bar code. As I placed it into my wallet I said to myself, ‘Well, I guess it’s official now, I’m a student again.’ I thought with the classes that I was taking I would be learning more about the country that I’m working in and I’m sure to make new friends here along the way. Again, I reminded myself to make the best of this experience.

Early Saturday afternoon, I met Barbara, as she preferred for me to call her when away from school. We met at a small trendy cafe that she had suggested. We had a nice, sincere conversation as we sipped wine and ate our sandwiches. She asked several questions about me, my family and life in the US. I answered all her questions and asked the same of her. I found it very interesting how much we had in common. I went on and told her all about how bad I felt for keeping things from my mother and how we had drifted apart. I said that I really hadn’t thought about how much my actions affected others in my life.

I said, “It was such a simple thing to do to take that magazine back then but I could’ve made my Mom look bad to others especially in her women’s clubs if my poor choices were discovered. The rumors would have been devastating for her.”

I told Barbara that we were very close once again with a fresh start.

Barbara said, “Did you really ask your mother to punish you?”

I said, “That’s not how I recall it happening! I had only asked her whatever happened to that old belt that she used to have around while she was going through some old storage boxes.” I told Barbara that I wasn’t quite sure what happened next, but I did say that shortly afterwards I had told my Mom everything about the magazine, meeting with Mr Leary and how sorry I was. I said, “I do remember her suddenly pulling that belt out of a box and holding it out. Before I knew what happened, I was rubbing leather conditioner into it!”

I went on and confirmed much of what she learned from my mother’s emails to her, or maybe what she surmised by reading between the lines. I filled her in on most of the details and answered her questions. I even went on to tell her about my suggesting that I go over my Aunt’s lap for giving her a bit of lip from being in a bitter mood. From her reaction, I could tell that my mother hadn’t mentioned that to her. I told Barbara that, after everything that happened, Mom and I have an understanding going forward. I was always the apple in her eye type of girl. I wanted to be that girl again and I insisted that she hold me to a higher standard from now on.

I said, “My Mom agreed with that and I know what to expect from her.”

We went for a long stroll through a nearby park and continued to talk. Eventually, we hugged and agreed to meet again after having such a wonderful day before going our separate ways.

As expected, I found a good amount of work waiting for me on Monday morning. I did what I could to get through it all. I even worked through a break and cut my lunch short. I was dead tired by the end of the day, but I made it. They had me working on fiscal year end reports for some of the smaller corporations that the accounting firm represented ever since I came back. Some of it was just putting the final reports together. It was tedious work, but very important to get it right. I found work waiting and piling up on Tuesday morning as I continued to work along. The rest of the week seemed to fly by. I stayed very busy, much more so than during my internship days. I was happy to be busy and not having to just look that way or goofing off on the company’s time.

Friday was my first day of classes. It was almost like years ago with the excitement of the first days of returning back to school for another year. I put everything I needed for class in my shoulder bag, set out my uniform, all ironed and ready. I even had a small gym bag for my PE kit.

I woke to the sound of my alarm and got right up to get ready for school. Mom wasn’t there calling me to breakfast, but everything else seemed much the same as when I went to high school. I continued along going through the familiar routine without hesitation or giving it a second thought. Before long, I was out the door and on my way to school with a bright smile on my face.

I was the only student around and kept to myself on the bus ride to school, just like I have in the past. I sat and wondered what the others might be thinking of me. It used to be that the only ones seen going to school in the summer time were those who had to make up for goofing off and failing their classes. Very few girls went to take an advanced class to better themselves or try to graduate early or earn college credits when I went to school. I wondered what kind of students I would have in my classes.

The day started off with everyone in assembly, where a few announcements were made by Mr Leary. Although he is a very handsome man, he is an opposing figure to all, especially to me as I know how he can wield a cane. His stature seemed even taller as he stood upon the stage addressing the students. We were dismissed, leaving plenty of time to find my way to my first class. Mr Wright’s Literature class started out exciting but before the two-hour class was barely halfway, it was hard to stay focused. The rest of the girls looked to be in the same dazed state as I was by the end. I was aware that classes were made longer in order to cover all of the material because the summer term was so much shorter. In the future, I’ll make sure to load up on caffeine before his class.

I used the time after class to go to the library to get started on the assignment given before my next class. We are required to write essays on the materials covered in Mr Wright’s class discussing the different styles of writers and relationships between characters in the classical works of various authors. This class will certainly keep me busy.

I think that I’m going to enjoy my Modern British History class. It will be a different perspective for me learning about England and the UK through the twentieth century. There were political, social and economic struggles, plus two world wars that had a major impact on the formation of what this country has become. This class would be very interesting to me.

Ms Clayton, my PE instructor, had the class doing warm-up exercises before sending us out running a cross-country course. The day started out cool but was now very warm with the hot sun beating down. I quickly learned just how out of shape I was and fell behind most of the others in class. After a short water break, she had us doing timed sprints out on the track. There were a few girls that were on the school’s sports team which made the rest look rather bad. It seemed that Ms Clayton was using this class to condition her regular players. I was determined to get myself back in shape, after all I did play varsity sports myself. Now, all I could think about was flopping on my bed when I got home.

I spent the weekend doing homework, running a few errands and I started jogging to get in shape. The following week at work was much the same. There was always plenty of work to keep me busy but I was getting the hang of it. I felt like I was beginning to fit in at the office. Friday came along quickly and it was time to go to classes once again. It was a break from work but also meant a pile of schoolwork for me to do on the weekend again. I was getting into the swing of the whole schedule, but I was beat. I always made sure that I was well prepared for my classes.

Mr Wright’s class was just simply boring. His presentation and monotone voice seemed to go on and on until he took the opportunity to call on a student to belittle them in front of the class. I felt sorry for those that hadn’t done their reading assignments. My History class, on the other hand, was fast paced and I enjoyed learning the subject. I was getting back in shape by running a couple times during the week so I was able to keep up with the better athletic girls in PE class, which felt rewarding. I always made sure to call home and speak to Mom a couple times during the week. As busy as I was, I still missed home.

*                                          *                                             *

Meanwhile, back at work on Friday morning while I was at school:

David Garrett, CFO: “Ms Murphy, can you please come to my office for a minute?”

Mary Murphy, Office Manager: “Yes, Sir. Right away.”

Mr Garrett: “Mary, how is our new employee, Ms Mitchell, doing? Are you staying on top of her work as we have discussed?”

Ms Murphy: “Yes. She’s been kept very busy and she’s doing well with it. I’ve kept a watchful eye on her, knowing that she is a special project of yours. I would have informed you as soon as I saw something amiss. In fact, I wish I had more employees like her. As of now, she has got us caught up on all of the required fiscal reports that I gave her without any errors.”

Mr Garrett: “No errors, you say? I thought for sure she would have missed something. She’s catching on well! And no problems? Has anybody in the office noticed how much work you’re having her do, or said anything?”

Ms Murphy: “No, I don’t think so. At least I haven’t heard anything.”

Mr Garrett: “Mary, we’re going to change things up a bit. I want you to have her start reviewing some investment portfolios. I have a sizable project here that I want you to assign to her on Monday and we will monitor how she does with it.”

Ms Murphy: After taking the file from Mr Garrett, “This is the Winthrop portfolio?”

Mr Garrett: “Yes, it is. I want her to review it, with a report on returns and on investments, do projections and make suggestions. You know, put together a full report for presentation.”

Ms Murphy: “Very well, I’ll see that she gets it.”

Mr Garrett: “I also think that it’s time for you find a mistake, if you know what I mean.”

Ms Murphy: “I think I know what you mean, David. I’ll handle it. I’ll watch over her and take care of it.”

*                                          *                                             *

TROUBLE AT WORK

The weekend was filled with running shopping errands, cleaning and doing the laundry. I did find time to go out Saturday night. I needed to have some fun and reconnect with friends again. I finished up my school assignments on Sunday after going for another early morning run as I continued to try to get back in shape. I called home and spoke with Mom for a long time Sunday night. I told her that I missed her and filled her in on everything with work and my classes at school. I vented a little about Mr Wright’s class and told her that I was enjoying everything else, including the opportunity to work out and keep off the pounds.

Monday morning came along too fast and I dreaded the thought of another pile of work waiting for me on my desk. I was quite surprised to find a clean desk just as I had left it. I was hardly seated when Ms Murphy approached carrying a file folder and she quickly gave instructions on what was to be done with it.

I got right to work doing my research on this rather large investment portfolio. It didn’t take long to recognize that this must belong to a wealthy philanthropist as I dug into the files and found large sums were earmarked for funding grants. Most of the investments in this portfolio were in very secure long-term slow growth government bonds and similar securities. Even the other investments that showed higher returns weren’t very risky. I compiled charts and graphs showing how the funds had performed during the past year and the anticipated returns going forward with some assumptions. I had included in my summary that a fraction of the very secure portion should be diverted to riskier investments with potential for higher gains that would easily provide more funds to support one of the short funded endowments that had been heading the wrong way for some time. I added that these investments would need to be monitored closely to avoid potential loss. It took two long days to put the whole proposed updated prospectus together and I passed it on to Ms Murphy right at the end of Tuesday for her review. I expected to have a sit-down meeting with her to go over it together. I thought that if she had questions or if something wasn’t right she would bring it to my attention before it went any further.

On Wednesday, I started working on another portfolio review, but this was a much smaller account.

*                                   *                                   *

Ms Murphy walked into the office of the CFO and said, “Mr Garrett, here you are. I think this might be what you were expecting, well sort of, I think. I didn’t do anything with it at first other than a quick review.”

Actually, Mary Murphy did make some changes to have it appear as Mr Garrett had expected might happen. Even though she respected Kathryn’s abilities, Mary thought she was doing what Mr Garrett wanted.

“I stayed late last night and reviewed her project. Then I went to her work-station and found that her computer hadn’t shut down properly. I found that it was because a program she was using was still running in the background and that prevented a full shut down. There is some sort of technical glitch with it and I’m going to have a Tech look into it. Anyways, I was easily able to open up the program without passwords and I proceeded to make some small changes as if she had done them, just like in her proposal. As you can see, now it looks as if Ms Mitchell made a bit of a mistake handling the Winthrop account by transferring funds while she was running a projection analysis. It could be viewed as a simple mistake on her part, if you want it left alone.”

She continued by saying, “Other than that, this is as it was handed to me without any other changes. If you want me to transfer the funds back, we have until closing today to do it without penalties. The other day you sounded like you wanted me to find a mistake from her. That’s why I made the change. As I said, I can cancel the transaction if I misunderstood you, but you sounded so adamant about finding something.”

Mr Garrett tipped his head to the side and raised an eyebrow at hearing the news. In a way, he was disappointed with his talented young hire. She should have made sure that she logged out of her computer and had it shut down to protect Winthrop’s assets, and possibly others as well. He sat at his desk thinking in silence.

Mary sat watching and waiting for an answer, and repeated that she could change the account right back. There was a long pause from Mr Garrett before a sinister smile formed on his face as he saw an opportunity to play out his little game, as he recounted listening to the story that his good friend had told him about Ms Mitchell and the cane in Mr Leary’s study. He actually expected Leary to catch her crossing the line at school at some point and end up being called in to Leary’s office. This might work out better than he hoped if he could convince her to pay the Headmaster another visit after confronting her with this bit of a mistake. He finally cleared his throat and, with an authoritative voice, he said, “No, no, leave this with me for now. You can switch things back after I meet with her. Please summon Ms Mitchell to my office, Mary. Oh, and make sure the technician looks into that problem.”

*                                   *                                   *

At mid-morning I was called to the office of the CFO. I immediately had a feeling this couldn’t be good, and It wasn’t. I was told to have a seat as I walked into his office. He gave me a stern look and then a lecture after first saying that several of my mistakes had been brought to his attention. He said that he had seen so much promise in me and would hate to be forced to let me go.

I was naturally devastated and a bit defensive. I said, “Several? What was it that I did?”

Mr Garrett said that I had took the liberty to move funds around without getting approval from the client. I denied knowing that I had done any such thing and wished someone would have let me know sooner about any mistakes.

I asked, “Are you talking about the account that I was working on yesterday? I only suggested in my summary that some changes could be made.”

He handed me papers that showed otherwise including the transaction.

I thought, ‘Oh no. This can’t happen. How would this look? I wouldn’t get another job, definitely not like this one.’

I started to cower as he went on about all of the perks that were given me, all the while my mind was spiraling down a deep hole. I was still a little defensive by complaining about the transition and the amount of work thrown at me. I think I had used the word unfair somewhere in my pleading. He wasn’t going to hear none of it and suggested that I get myself together quick or else. He suggested that I should seek a mentor to talk to, but get it together.

He said, “We’re not here to babysit, Ms Mitchell.” He paused for a moment and seemed to calm down a little before saying, “I suggest that you seek the counseling that’s available to you from the Academy. There are several there, but Mr Leary would be a good place to start. Shall I call him to set up a meeting for you?”

All I could say was, “No, no Sir. P-please, I-I’ll call the Academy.”

He said, “Well, give it some thoughtful consideration and quickly. Let me know your decision as I would very much like to keep you on. If you meet with Mr Leary, I will smooth things over with the client.”

I stood as tears started to fill my eyes and turned for the door.

Mr Garrett asked, “Are you sure? I can make the call for you?”

I answered with, “No Sir, I’ll call.”

I walked back to my desk embarrassed and ashamed of myself. My mind was racing trying to figure this out. How could I be making so many mistakes? He has to be exaggerating. I didn’t know any of the counselors there and the only teacher I had before was Mr Bixby, my computer class instructor. I didn’t think of this as a computer problem to discuss. Perhaps Mr Garrett was right. The obvious choice to me was Mr Leary. He helped me before with my problems. I felt like I could at least talk to him. He would know what to do.

I finally got up the nerve and called the Academy from my desk. I wiped away a tear and asked to be switched over to the Headmaster’s office. I spoke with Ms Compton briefly before she rang Mr Leary. After getting past cordial hellos, I suppose he could tell something wasn’t right from hearing my shaky voice and the fact that it was rather unusual that I would call. He asked how I was doing.

I simply said, “Not the best, Sir. I need to stop by and talk to you.”

When he suggested tea at a shop near the Academy later in the week, I told him that it was very important that I see him sooner and could he possibly meet with me later today after I got out of work? After my pleading, he finally gave in, saying that he would rearrange his schedule to accommodate me. I fought occasional tears the rest of the day but worked feverishly away even working through my lunchtime. I made sure to double check everything all day this time. I asked my office manager if she would let me out a little early so that I could make my appointment. She acted a little different towards me and she could easily see that I was upset as she granted my request without a problem. I left a simple message with Mr Garrett’s assistant saying to tell him that I was going to my meeting. I couldn’t face anyone else as I left the office to catch a taxi.

I thought it best that I follow the rules of the Academy as I was to meet with the Headmaster. It meant that I’d have to go to my apartment and quickly change into my uniform before my appointment. After the ride home, I hastily put on my full uniform, double checking that I had it all right. I wasn’t used to wearing a tie back at St Joseph’s and almost forgot it today. I was able to flag down another taxi for a ride to the Academy, leaving little time to spare. I sat staring off in the distance wishing that the driver would go faster and not get caught up in the busy late day traffic. I didn’t have a plan on what to say to Mr Leary, but I knew I better figure it out quick. I used the ride to hash this whole thing out in my head, again and again. Nothing made any sense. I was trying my best at work.

Then I remembered a story I read of a girl who wanted to improve her testing scores at her university. She believed that a quick short shock would do the job to improve her focus on her studies. She made arrangements to meet her former headmaster and asked him to cane her exactly the way he had punished her several times before while she attended his school. I was determined to use that as my back-up plan unless Mr Leary had some other brilliant idea. My head was spinning so bad, maybe there was something simple that I just couldn’t think of without a clear head.

As I walked, half running, up the sidewalk to the front entrance of the Academy, my stomach was in a knot. Not eating lunch today didn’t help but this feeling was more than that. I checked the time and I was running a late. The halls were quiet as expected due to the time of day, plus there wasn’t much activity during the summer term anyway. My mouth was dry from all of my hurrying around and my tongue felt like I wouldn’t be able to talk. I stopped to check my reflection briefly in a glass doorway to fix my hair and wipe away a bead of sweat. I adjusted my tie and collar and smoothed out my blazer. Whew! After taking a deep breath, I walked the few steps further before opening the outer door to the headmaster’s office.

Thankfully, Ms Compton had already left for the day. I took short little steps as I crept up to the door of Mr Leary’s study. I took another deep breath before knocking. After hearing the command to enter, I walked in and up to his desk. He sounded a little disturbed but welcomed me, noting that I was late, saying that he wondered if I was going to show. Then he pointed to the chair that faced his desk.

After I was seated he asked, “So, tell me what’s going on, Kathryn. Things aren’t going well?”

I paused for a moment, searching for the words to start. When I finally started, I unleashed my whole story in a fury of how work was a lot harder than before and how work seemed unfairly piled up on me. I told him that there had been mistakes found. “Very bad mistakes.” I told him that I was called in and given an ultimatum from the CFO this morning.

I said, “I have to either get it together immediately or start packing.” I cried out, “I don’t even have the money set aside to get home, Mr Leary!” I was on the verge of crying but took a deep breath and held it together, at least for the moment. I continued by saying, “I’m in trouble! I can’t go home and face my family as a failure. Not like this!”

Mr Leary said in a calm voice, “Maybe you just need to be more focused. Are you getting enough sleep? Are you on your phone instead of working?”

To everything that he suggested, I said that it wasn’t the problem. I was always busy at work and I don’t stay out if I’m going to work the next day.

Mr Leary paused and then said, “You simply must try harder, then. I know that you are quite capable.”

“I have, I have tried,” I cried.

He tried to offer encouragement, but nothing he said helped. As he sat there thinking, I was working up the courage to suggest my plan. Now, as I sat there, I saw it as my only plan. The silence was almost deafening before I spoke up and told him about the story that I read. I told him the whole story as I remembered it, where the girl went to her former headmaster seeking help to do better on her upcoming university tests.

I stuttered before saying, “I believe what she asked him for was a ‘quick short shock’, as she put it. Y-you know, a caning, Sir.”

He immediately replied, “Is this from more of your randy literary readings? I thought that we had discussed that before.”

I snapped back and said, “No Sir! Well, maybe, but please, Sir, I believe that this is what’s needed. I’m desperate! I can’t give up and fail. I just can’t.” I realized that I had just raised my voice to him, then I hung my head and apologized. Tears were starting to well up in my eyes as I sat there thinking of my situation.

Mr Leary said, “Use of the cane is not taken lightly in this office, Ms Mitchell. The cane is only used as a last resort and only after every consideration has been given. It’s only used on those who have earned a punishment, not in the way you are requesting.”

I leaned forward slightly in my chair, pleading my case, saying with my hands folded on the edge of his desk, “Please reconsider, Sir. I can’t afford to make any more mistakes. I need to keep this job. You are my mentor, Sir and a sharp shock from you will surely push me to succeed.”

After a bit of a pause, Mr Leary’s reply was, “What do you consider a sharp shock, Kathryn? I recall you receiving six strokes last time you were here.”

I said, “Yes, it was six, but I-I think twelve is what’s best, Sir.”

“Twelve?” Mr Leary replied. “That will certainly leave you with a sharp reminder to do your best! This is such a very usual request.”

My reply was, “This is a serious matter, Sir!”

Mr Leary’s phone beeped as it sat upon his desk. He looked at it and appeared to be replying to a text message, then set the phone back down.

Mr Leary sat back in his chair thinking, then suddenly stood and paced the floor. After considerable silence and several laps back and forth, he stopped and leaned over with both hands on his desk saying, “If I agree to do this, and I’m only saying if, you must agree to keep this between us.”

I looked up at him and said very quickly, “I totally agree, Sir. My lips are sealed and I’ll write a note and sign it saying that I asked for this.”

I immediately reached across his desk and took his pen as I grabbed a sheet of note paper with my other hand. I quickly scrawled out a note for him with my signature.

I said as I was writing, “I-I remember you telling me before that you are good friends with Mr Garrett and will probably tell him anyway, but I don’t care.”

I pushed the signed note across to him as I looked up at him. “It will only show him how committed I am to my job.”

Mr Leary put the note in a desk drawer then stood up straight and continued with, “We shall see just how committed you are. One more thing, Ms Mitchell, once we start, you must hold your position and take all twelve. There is no changing your mind, no going back on your word. Agreed?”

“Y-yes Sir,” I replied as I started to wonder if I had made the right decision.

The phone beeped again and Mr Leary said, “You’re right about Mr Garrett,” as he pointed to his phone. “He wants to know the outcome of this meeting.”

He walked around his desk and said, “Prepare yourself then, Ms Mitchell. I don’t have all night.” He tapped me on my shoulder signaling me to get going as he walked past me to go lock the outer door to Ms Compton’s office. I heard him say, “Wouldn’t want the janitor interrupting.”

I stood up slowly, stumbling a little as I walked around my chair. I removed my blazer and placed it over the back of a chair by his conference table then placed my hands upon my head waiting for him as he shut and locked his door as well. I watched Mr Leary walk past me and straight over to the built-in cabinet where I knew he kept his canes. I continued to watch him as I walked over to take a position standing at the back of the chair I had been sitting in.

All I could think about was how I may have already screwed up the great opportunity I had at work and how much I needed this to snap me back in focus before my career slipped away. Right now, my focus was on what Mr Leary was doing.

I slowly bent forward over the back of the chair, placing both palms flat on the seat. I looked up and over toward Mr Leary at hearing the cabinet door squeak open. I watched until he reached in and pulled out a cane. He immediately swished it, cutting through the air a few times and sending chills through me.

I said to myself, ‘That’s got to be the senior cane!’

I continued to prepare myself by reaching back and lifting my skirt up and out of the way the best I could. Next, I lowered myself further and grabbed as far down as I could on the chair while Mr Leary approached.

He walked around me and tapped at the inside of my calves with the cane saying, “Further apart!”

I wiggled my feet apart until he was satisfied. Mr Leary pulled my skirt up further and folded my shirt tail up over my skirt. Next, I felt him pull my panties up tight by the waistband. I’m sure much of my lower bottom was exposed now.

“Are you ready, Ms Mitchell?”

I responded with, “Y-yes Sir.” I closed my eyes when I felt the cane tapping as the Headmaster lined up his first stroke in the center of my bottom. Suddenly, without any further warning, whoosh-crack!

I cried out and jumped right up as the bolt of pain shot through me. I stomped my foot and reached right for my bottom, half turning around.

“Ms Mitchell!” Mr Leary yelled out. “I can’t do this if you’re going to act up like this. Get back over. Now!”

“I’m sorry Sir. I forgot jus’ how, oowww! I’ll be good,” I said.

He said, “Shall we start all over? Or will you keep your position this time?”

“N-no, Sir. I’ll stay. That was one, Sir. One!” I said as I quickly bent over the back of the chair again and pulled my skirt back up. I wiggled over further, trying to offer a perfect target for him and a tighter grip on the chair. “I’m r-ready, Sir,” I said and I immediately felt the cane resting against my bottom.

He said, “Hold still, Mitchell,” and fired his second stroke slightly higher than the first.

I grit my teeth and let out a low cry, “Augh! Ahh! Two, ooo!”

He pulled my skirt up further and moved my blouse out of the way as well. The next two strokes were slightly higher, waiting about ten or fifteen seconds between each one. I tried to compose myself, but my crying out became louder.

Mr Leary walked around behind me, presumably checking his work. I tried to look around and was told, “Eyes forward, Mitchell. Up on your toes! That’s better,” he added.

The cane was tapping at my bottom once more, but much lower this time. The next four strokes were all placed below the first one and I continued to cry out. My feet left the floor a few times as I wiggled and threw my head around, but I remained in position as I promised. The tears were flowing freely and landing on the chair below me.

Mr Leary disappeared behind me once again. He said, “Almost there, Kathryn,” as he tugged up on my panties again, pulling them tight into my cleft. He said, “After each of these next strokes, I want you to say, ‘I will do my best at work’. Got it?”

“Yes, Sir. (sniff) I will do my best at work.”

He said, “Stop mumbling, and say it like you mean it.”

“Yes, Sir,” I said.

I felt the cane tapping very low this time on my bottom and I tightened my grip with white knuckles just before hearing the cane slicing through the air and cutting deep into my bottom. I cried out and then recited my line loud and clear.

I started panting and blowing air through my clenched teeth as Mr Leary lined up his next stroke and then, as before, quickly brought the cane down hard. That stroke landed in the crease at the very bottom of my backside. I cried and moaned before repeating my line.

I blinked my eyes, trying to clear the tears away. The cane tapped very low again before being pulled away and returning, leaving its mark next to the last one. It landed mostly across the tops of my thighs. I lost my grip and raised up slightly, but caught myself and stayed over the back of the chair. I was seeing stars and could hardly cry out. Air seemed to escape my lungs without making a sound. I was only able to let out moans and little squeaky sounds as I mouthed my line. I finally was able to pull in air and said again, “I will do my best at work.”

Mr Leary put his hand on my back, guiding me fully back down. I wiped the sweat from my hands one at a time and gripped the chair again. I got up on my toes and raised my bottom up as best as I could, preparing for the next stroke. He lined up the cane and delivered a good one right in the middle of my seat. I cried out, then said my line right away.

I started to get up and Mr Leary said, “Stay right there! I’m not done with you yet!”

I snapped my head to the side to look his way. Could I have miscounted?

He continued with, “Are you really going to push on at work? Or do you need more?”

As he tapped with the cane once again, he added, “Right up on your toes! I can go on here. I’ve canceled one meeting, I can make a call and cancel my next one. We can easily keep going here.”

I obeyed and offered my bottom once again. He continued to tap his cane, much harder now, enough to hurt, and said, “What do you think?”

I said, “N-no, Sir. I-I mean, yes Sir! I will do my very best at work. But I’ve had enough. P-please, no more!”

“Alright then, go fix yourself in the ladies room down the hall and I’ll call a taxi for you.”

I made it quick for the door before he changed his mind, with my hands reaching under my skirt for my bottom along the way. I fumbled with the lock on the door in my haste to leave. After checking Mr Leary’s work in a mirror, I fixed my tear-stained face that was still screwed up from the pain in my backside. I straightened my ponytail then headed back to the Headmaster’s office where he met me by the door with my blazer in hand and his briefcase in the other. He ushered me out, locking doors behind us along the way, saying that he was headed to another meeting. When we were outside, I saw the taxi arriving at the curb. I leaned into Mr Leary to give him a quick hug and thanked him.

He said, “We should have tea sometime and you can tell me more about work.”

I said that I would like that very much and said, “Thank you again, Sir!”

As I stepped away, he called over, “Oh Kathryn. So, in that story you were telling me about, how did that girl do on her university tests?”

I turned around, taking a step back, and said, “Oh, she did very well, Sir, except on one test, as I recall the story went. She passed well enough, but she didn’t quite make the mark as hoped and as agreed. She would have to answer for that.”

Mr Leary answered back, “Well, I will be looking forward to tea and an update from you. Hope that you have good news for me. Take care.”

The taxi ride home was a little uncomfortable, both from trying to sit and a very talkative cabbie. He asked so many questions and kept looking at me in his mirror, trying to get me to chat back.

When home, I did my best to take care of myself. Some soothing cream, some nourishment, and a glass of wine before settling into bed. I felt no self-pity. I was determined to use this sharp shock to push me forward. I thought, tomorrow I will have the constant reminder in my seat to do my best. I was starting to put a few things together. It just didn’t add up to where I was doing all that badly. There was that warning from a co-worker, the seemingly endless load of work that nobody else had, then a sudden shift to reviewing investments. Like they were waiting for me to screw up.

The next afternoon, Mr Garrett met up with me and asked if things were taken care of.

I knew he already knew the answer by now, and I simply answered with, “Yes, Sir.”

I kept walking away before he could say anything else. I imagined him asking me into his office to see proof. For the rest of the work week, I was efficient as possible. I double-checked all of my work and kept everything backed-up on my own thumb drive. The amount of work pushed my way was much more reasonable and I didn’t feel pressured to finish it.

BAD DAY AT SCHOOL 

Friday came along too quick, so I had to get up early to iron my uniform as it was a bit wrinkled from my meeting the other night. My bottom still had a dull pain. I know Mr Leary could’ve laid the strokes on harder, but I could still feel it enough as a reminder. Most of the marks were fading, but others not so much. I was hoping the pain would help get me through Mr Wright’s long Literature class.

I sat further back in the auditorium for Assembly, trying to blend in with other classmates. As Mr Leary delivered today’s announcements, he scanned the room until our eyes met. I felt myself blush and looked down.

Mr Leary announced that a fund-raising event for the Academy would be held today in the main hall. “Mrs Winthrop, one of our Trustees, is graciously requesting all students to stop by for punch and cookies. I remind you all that you are representing the Academy and you should be on your very best behavior in front of the Academy’s supporters.”

Mr Wright’s class was rather boring again, and he made sure there was plenty of work handed out.

After my History class, I went to the event in the main hall. The room was full of well-dressed ladies chatting away. There was all sorts of art on display and available through a silent auction. I made my way to a table that had punch, cookies and finger sandwiches. There was also a table off to the side that was full of small, half-size bottles of wine. They appeared to be gifts to the ladies in attendance. I made my appearance, as did many other students, but I wanted to get started on my reading for English Literature, so I slipped out to go to the library.

It was a beautiful day and I decided to make my way outside to the garden off of the library to do some reading before my PE class. There were flowering shrubs and small trees with a stone walkway weaving among them almost like a maze. There were also several beautiful rose bushes throughout. I found a nice bench near where the paths crossed and I eased myself down on the hard wooden seat. I quickly got into my reading and let my mind get into one of the characters to which I would be writing an essay for my assignment. I was in another world as I read along.

Suddenly, a couple of girls came running around the corner. I only saw their feet out of the corner of my eye as they ran away from me. I didn’t hardly see them because my attention went right to a bottle that they must have tossed into the bushes as they passed down from another path. It must have bounced off a branch or something and rattled back onto the stone walk. I watched as it rolled near my feet. I was startled and stood right up from the bench. I thought it was going to break from hitting the hard rough surface.

Just at that same moment, and before the bottle came to rest, a group of ladies came from around the other corner. We all stood in silence for a moment, looking at the bottle as it came to rest, before one of the ladies went off on me. I would soon find out that she was none other than the prominent Mrs Harriet Winthrop, the sponsor of today’s event, and I was suddenly being accused of giving the Academy a black eye and embarrassing her in front of her guests by taking one of her gifts from the wine table.

I tried to point to the two girls down the path, but when we all looked, there was no one there to support my case. I made matters worse with my sharp tone of voice and, before I knew it, she had me by the arm and was hauling me down to the Headmaster’s office as I stumbled along by her side.

She pulled me by the collar of my blazer as she pushed her way past the protesting Ms Compton and right into Mr Leary’s office without knocking, interrupting a meeting between him and another staff member with her ranting fit. He immediately ended his meeting by apologetically dismissing the staff member to hear out Mrs Winthrop’s complaints.

Mr Leary was also surprised to see me before him, and snapped an order for me to stand straight with my arms folded behind my back. I tried to explain what had happened and was interrupted by a livid Mrs Winthrop giving her version of my infractions. Stealing, possession of alcohol on school property, under-age drinking and she went on and on, ending with, “And I have never seen such insolence. Oh, the mouth on her! Such disrespect, such disregard for the rules of this institution! I was having a marvelous time showing off the roses that I had my gardener plant last spring and then to be so humiliated in front of my guests! Oh! She deserves nothing less than six of your very best, Mr Leary!”

When Mr Leary finally had the chance to speak, he said, “Now let’s slow down. Let me understand this, what’s this all about?”

Mrs Winthrop unleashed another volley of her side of the events, with me slipping in a few remarks, before being stopped by Mr Leary.

“Please wait a minute, I want to hear from her. I just can’t believe that Ms Mitchell here is responsible.”

I tried to explain what happened, but I couldn’t give a description of the two girls that I said were running away. “I really didn’t see enough of them,” I explained. “I was focused on my reading when my attention went straight to that bottle bouncing across the stone walk at my feet, and then a bunch of old ladies appeared from the other way yelling at me. All I was doing was just reading my assignment and had nothing to do with it. Until these…”

Mrs Winthrop said, “Well! Such language! Mr Leary, it sounds like a lame story to me, and more disrespect.”

I was fortunate that she interrupted me as I was really upset and about to let out a tirade full of swearing.

Mr Leary was still trying to sort this out, and he looked at me, trying to find a way around this, knowing the condition of my bottom. He finally responded with, “I need to look into this and investigate further before making any quick decisions here.”

It was obvious that Mrs Winthrop wasn’t leaving without a pound of flesh. She said, “Mr Leary, either you put the cane to this girl’s backside or I’ll have someone else sitting in your chair before the end of the day!”

The Headmaster responded with, “Mrs Winthrop, you may be the Academy’s biggest contributor, but you still don’t sign my paychecks. Please let me handle this. Besides, we’re supposed to be phasing out the cane.”

She replied, “Your last warning. I can have Charles fill in for you with one call.”

Mr Leary answered, “Now leave your husband out of this.”

With pleading eyes, I was hoping that Mr Leary would somehow get me out of this. I felt like I had to say something. While Mr Leary was contemplating how he was going to handle the situation, I used the moment of silence to say in a soft tone, “Please Mr Leary, honestly, I didn’t do it. This is just crazy, but, but I don’t want you losing your job.”

After a considerable pause, Mr Leary took a noticeable deep breath and said, “Very well, Mrs Winthrop, this is what I propose, and if it’s not suitable for you, then replace me if you must. You need to understand that I must be absolutely fair in running this office.”

He took another deep breath as he tried to calm himself down before announcing his decision. He continued with, “I’m going to continue to look into this matter. Maybe someone else saw something, I don’t know, but I promise you that I will get to the bottom of this. In the meantime, Ms Mitchell here has earned herself three strokes for her obvious insolence and disrespect that was demonstrated before me in this office.

And, additionally, she will serve Saturday detention for her attitude directed towards you, Mrs Winthrop. It’s to be served to your liking at your estate.

“Further, if she is found to be guilty of stealing and possession of your wine bottle as you have described, she will return to this office for the full six as you originally requested. Agreed?”

I turned to watch Mrs Winthrop nod her head in agreement with a smile forming on her face as she already seemed to be thinking about Saturday. Oh, I wanted so bad to tell her what I thought of her. I was glad that she didn’t see the look I was giving her. That surely wouldn’t help my cause.

Mr Leary said, “I’m sorry, Ms Mitchell, but you’ve picked the wrong person to disrespect. Ms Compton, the Punishment Book, please!”

Ms Compton had been standing behind me from the start, and stepped forward carrying the ledger, saying, “I have it right here, Sir. I slipped out to get it when I saw where this was headed. I also brought you Ms Mitchell’s file.”

I had that awful sinking feeling when I saw the ledger, realizing it meant that a letter was going to be sent home. Punished at school would mean punishment waiting at home, as per my new agreement with Mom. I felt that I had let my mother down today with my out-of-control attitude. I just got myself refocused at work and now I’m acting like a teenager with raging hormones at school. Barbara gently padded my shoulder as she walked back by.

Mr Leary stood and looked at me saying, “Ms Mitchell, if you please,” and then turned to head for the wall cabinet. I shook my head in disbelief.

I knew what he meant and proceeded with it. My blazer went over the back of a chair next to Ms Compton, who stood by the conference table as a witness. I then walked back to pull the chair from the front of his desk out toward the center of the room. I stood there behind it with my hands back upon my head, waiting for Mr Leary to return.

Mrs Winthrop stood nearby, saying, “It appears that you frequent this office, girl.”

I wanted so bad to say something to her, but wisely thought better of it, and stood straight as a statue with eyes forward. It was a little late in getting control of myself but best not to dig myself a deeper hole now. Besides, I was more concerned what was about to happen to my bottom.

I looked over to Mr Leary as he made his selection and sliced the air with it once before heading my way. I closed my eyes after hearing the cane’s swish, remembering the pain from just the other night. I opened my eyes to get back to the present and knew it was time to bend over as the headmaster approached.

I eased myself down over the chair into position and reached back to grab my skirt, lifting it up as best as I could. I got up on my toes and pushed myself up and over the chair back.

Mrs Winthrop stepped forward behind me and said, “Look at that bottom! Time to freshen up those marks Mr Leary!”

I just shook my head furthering my disbelief of the situation as I looked straight down.

Mr Leary pulled my skirt right up over my back along with the bottom of my blouse. He then tugged at my panties, pulling them tight.

I felt the few taps of the cane, knowing that with Leary’s accuracy I would receive the first stroke to the center of my buttocks, an area that was thoroughly thrashed just three days before. I held on tight as Mr Leary put on a show for Mrs Winthrop, bringing the cane from up high and slicing through the air to connect with my bottom with a mighty whoosh-crack!

I let out a cry and settled down quickly, telling myself just two more, hold together, only two more, Kate. I wasn’t blaming Mr Leary in any of this and tried to think of the punishment coming from the cane for my poor choice of words. I was sort of glad he didn’t hear what I said in the garden. I knew I slipped in a few nasty comments towards those ladies.

The cane was once more lining up for its next stroke. Lower, this time, than my panties were covering. I already had several marks down there from last time. Sure enough, whoosh-crack! I let out a yelp and Mrs Winthrop said, “Good one, Leary!”

Mr Leary said, “Please, Harriet! No comments!”

I shook my head with not believing my show of bad behavior, and now the fire in my bottom. I readied myself for the next stroke. A few taps of the cane to my lower bottom again, then another good whoosh-crack! I cried out again. Mr Leary successfully rekindled the fire in my bottom from the other night. When Mr Leary walked away to go around to his desk, I could see Mrs Winthrop’s feet as she seized the opportunity to step forward to take a closer look. Besides the soreness, I was pretty embarrassed at that point.

Mr Leary set the cane down on his desk then sat down, taking up a pen and opening the journal to make an entry. Ms Compton stepped forward and helped me to my feet, then helped me with my blazer. I straightened my uniform and didn’t give Mrs Winthrop the satisfaction of seeing me grab my sore bottom. I blotted away tears with a Kleenex from Barbara as she guided me forward with a hand at my back. As we both approached Mr Leary’s desk, he spun the ledger around for my signature and Ms Compton’s initials.

Kathryn Mitchell: Three strokes plus Saturday Detention for insolence and attitude unbecoming of a Wellington Academy student. J Leary.

I could only think of how Mom was going to take this as I signed where told. Ms Compton took the pen next and added her mark.

I stood straight, arms folded behind my back, as I heard the details for Saturday’s detention. Mrs Winthrop agreed to have her driver pick me up from my place and bring me to the Winthrop estate to work for the day. Mrs Winthrop said I would be cleaning and I was told to wear my uniform.

I was dismissed and Ms Compton provided a late pass for me because PE class had already started. I asked if I could just leave for the day but I was told that wasn’t acceptable.

The class was already out on the track by the time I joined them. Ms Clayton wasn’t at all amused with me when I handed her my pass from the Headmaster’s office. I started running with everyone else without the benefit of a warm-up which made it hard, especially with the condition of my backside. I struggled the whole way, but fought through it. She made me stay after class after everyone else left. After telling her why I was late, she put me through a series of killer exercises with my already sore muscles. She let me go after I worked out for the exact amount of time that I was late for class. She left me with a warning that next time would be worse, pass or no pass!

I changed in the locker room, gathered my things and slowly made my way to the bus stop, feeling miserable. I had such a great attitude earlier today before being falsely accused by that old crow. It seemed like everything was going against me lately.

It wasn’t until I was riding on the bus that I got my head on right. Most of this was my fault. If I had not acted so foolish and remained calm, Mr Leary would have held his ground and investigated the accusations against me. Instead, I acted like a little brat and got the cane, plus now I have to serve Saturday detention for my poor choices. I got punished for a good reason today and I’m going to use my sore bottom to straighten myself up. I’m going to go to my apartment, get my uniform ready for tomorrow morning and complete my detention time as best as I can. I’m going to put this all behind me and show Mrs Winthrop that I’m a better person than what I showed her today.

A SATURDAY DETENTION 

I wanted to be well rested for my cleaning duty tomorrow, but I spent most of the night tossing and turning as I was frustrated with the events of the day. I made sure to get myself up early so I was ready and waiting to be picked up. A black limousine finally pulled up as I stood waiting in the cool morning air outside my apartment building. The driver got out and held the door for me, and then we pulled away. It was very strange to be treated like royalty while going to detention. It just didn’t seem right. I started to wonder, as I looked out the window. I hadn’t made the connection until now. Winthrop, Winthrop? I think she said her husband was Charles. Charles Winthrop? Could it be the same Charles Winthrop that I had completed a recent review of his investments? He’s a multi-millionaire!

Before I knew it, I was inside the largest estate I had ever seen, like something from the movies. A huge stone structure with a similar architectural design as the Academy’s main building. The same cut stone, anyways. I realized that this had to be the estate of the Charles Winthrop whose investments I had messed up earlier this week.

I was met by the head housekeeper who was very pleasant. I was directed to the library and was told to start dusting everything. I looked over at the wall of shelves stuffed full of books and the stately high ceilings. I took off my blazer and was handed a feather duster and an apron. I was pretty much left alone to work away until Mrs Harriet Winthrop stepped into the room along with Leslie, a young girl who seemed to be one of the house staff. Mrs Winthrop still had that stern look on her face from yesterday. Despite my fear of her, I stopped working and made a point to walk right over and apologize for my behavior, adding that there was no excuse.

Mrs Winthrop said sharply as she looked down her nose, “There’s never an excuse for the behavior that you displayed, girl.”

I said, “Honestly, Ma’am, I had nothing to do with that wine bottle. Please believe me. I let my frustrations with the situation turn to anger and I said some things that I didn’t mean at all.”

I tried to turn things around and went on thanking her for this opportunity, adding, “And I will do anything to make it up to you,” hoping to change her opinion of me.

She replied, “Oh, you will have ample opportunity, girl. Leslie will make sure you keep busy in the meantime.”

Leslie appeared to be about the same age as me although I’m sure she thought that I was much younger.

I was left to go back to work until Leslie came back to check on me. She helped me finish up the room, then took me on to another room. I figured I would continue cleaning, but I was brought into a study to find Mrs Winthrop sitting at her desk. She told me to remove my apron and have a seat in the chair before her. Mrs Winthrop seemed to be more like a host now and had Leslie bring in tea. Very soon we were actually chatting as I sipped my tea.

She got around to ask questions like how school was going, what was I studying, if I enjoyed attending the Academy, and the like. I was feeling pretty comfortable answering her generic questions and I opened up to her as I sat sipping tea. I couldn’t believe that she was the same lady that belittled me in Mr Leary’s study. I got to a point where I thought it might be a good time to ask a question of her. I asked if there was any way that, as a Trustee of the school, she could possibly forgive this little misunderstanding in order to keep a letter from being sent home to my mother.

I said, “I mean, Ma’am, I really didn’t mean for it to go this far and, it all sorta snowballed. I’d do anything to make it up to you for this one favor.”

Her immediate response was, “Now, Ms Mitchell, that wouldn’t be fair at all, would it? Stop and think for a moment. It’s not fair to be treated differently from the other students. Not fair to your mother who wants to know how you are doing. And surely not fair to yourself who needs guidance to become the best young lady that you can be.”

I lowered my eyes into my cup of tea and replied, “Yes Ma’am, I see what you mean. I just didn’t want to upset my mother.”

Then she asked what I thought of Mr Leary, which made me wonder where she was going with this.

I said that, “I enjoy going to the Academy and I respect Mr Leary very much.”

She said that she had a long conversation with him and his secretary after I had left his office yesterday.

‘Oh no,’ I thought. ‘Barbara knows so much about me and she also tells Mom everything. What did she tell Mrs Winthrop? What did Mr Leary say of me?’

She said, “You know, my first impression of you wasn’t very good, not good at all in fact. What else would I think, between your attitude in the garden, then seeing more of it in Mr Leary’s office? I had to ask your Headmaster if you were one of his worst students.”

She continued with, “You’ll be happy to hear that he said you weren’t and described you as one of his most interesting students. He told me how he respected you for your honesty. I listened to the both of them talk about you and I also learned a lot more as they opened up your file for me. I heard an interesting story of a girl’s confession and her asking for the cane in Mr Leary’s office.”

I could feel myself blush as she was telling me all of this. I’m sure they told her everything and by now she knew I had a degree from a prominent university and was not really a full-time student at the Academy.

Mrs Winthrop said, “I have always appreciated a student who will come forward to admit her wrongdoing and then accept the consequences. That’s a trait not at all to be embarrassed over. Lift your head so I can see your eyes.”

After looking each other in the eyes, I told her, “I didn’t take that bottle, Ma’am. Please believe me.”

She replied, “I believe you, Ms Mitchell.”

She looked at me and paused for a moment then said, “You know, I’m very glad to hear that you enjoy being a student at the Academy. You know that Mr Winthrop and I are on the Board of Trustees, but I imagine you didn’t know that I used to teach at the Academy some time ago. That’s where I met Charles, before we were married. He was the Headmaster for a number of years there before retiring to take over his father’s business and continue his charitable organization. I also held the title of Deputy Headmistress, taking charge of the lower level girls before I retired. In fact, I still have the straps that I used.”

She reached over to open a side desk drawer and quickly laid out three leather straps in front of me.

With wide eyes, I listened to her say, “I used this small one instead of a ruler. It’s a little longer than the ruler, but I could still easily carry it in my pocket for quick correction on the hands of the young ones. Most times it was all that was needed to get their attention and get them back in line.

“I would use this longer one for those who were sent to my office for such things as repeated infractions. I kept it hung up as a deterrent, and it seemed to work as I didn’t have to use it very often, not like my short one here.

“And this wider one is my Matron’s strap for when I would be called on to cover for Charles with the older grades, but that wasn’t very often.”

Her descriptions were keeping me on edge and I remained focused on her every word.

She added, “Mr Winthrop still has his selection of canes that he used and, being a former Headmaster, he has a fondness for collecting items from all over and putting them on display. He’s off to a meeting this morning but he is very much looking forward to meeting you and should be back soon.”

Leslie entered and announced, “Your guests have arrived, Ma’am.”

Mrs Winthrop said, “I’ve invited the ladies for lunch today that witnessed the scene that you made yesterday. Don’t you think you owe them an apology?”

I nodded my head and lowered my eyes once again and set my cup down. I would have to wait to appear before Mrs Winthrop’s friends as Leslie got my attention and directed me on to another room to continue my cleaning. She brought me into Mr Winthrop’s study, which was another large room with wood paneling, built-in bookcases and overstuffed leather furniture around a fireplace. I was thinking that every room must have a fireplace in this grand building. My eyes were drawn right to the large mahogany desk at the far end, and the horizontal display of three canes on the wall beyond. I started dusting and I tried to prepare myself to face those ladies, but I couldn’t stop looking back over at those canes. Pictures flashed through my head from that old spanking magazine. I imagined pictures like that being taken in this very room.

As I worked my way around the room, I came across a collection of leather straps displayed on the wall, nestled between the bookcases. The real surprise in the room was what I thought from a distance to be just another piece of wooden furniture. It seemed to blend in with the rest of the room. It turned out to be something completely different. As I worked across the room, I was able to take a better look at it. I finally had to stop and walk right over to it. On closer inspection, it obviously had a special use. There were leather buckling straps mounted at the corners, and a wide belt that was long enough to lay across the top. I walked around it until the straps appeared to make sense to me, at least in my imagination. I stood at one side and imagined laying across the slightly curved top and being securely held down by that wide leather strap with my wrists secured at the far end. I leaned into it and thought of lowering myself across the top when Leslie startled me as she entered the room and called out my name.

It was time to take me to meet with Mrs Winthrop’s guests. I removed the apron and laid it right there across the wooden fixture before me, along with the feather duster. I pulled on my blazer as we exited the room.

The ladies were sitting and talking away out on the veranda along with Mrs Winthrop. I thought they sounded like a bunch of hens. I took short steps as I approached until I found myself standing right before them with Mrs Winthrop nearby. Suddenly, they took notice. All of the chatting and laughter stopped and it became eerily quiet with all eyes upon me. Without any prompting, I began with my somewhat rehearsed apology. I thought I had it all down perfectly what I wanted to say but it somehow didn’t sound right. I struggled from then on trying to find the right words to make the best apology I could. I eventually ended with I blamed no one else but myself.

None of them seemed to be satisfied with my apology, but I wasn’t expecting any applause either. I don’t think that anything would make them happy. One lady shouted out, “Her mouth needs a good soaping until it’s good and washed out!” Others offered what they would do if their daughters had made such a scene. I inched back away slightly as everyone seemed to try and outdo the other. I bet they wouldn’t really do as they suggested to their own daughters, but they sure wouldn’t mind if it happened to me. I think they wouldn’t be happy until they saw me brought down to the town square for a good thrashing! Their threatening comments ceased when Mrs Winthrop pulled out her old leather ruler slapper that she showed to me earlier and motioned for me to stand at her side.

She said to me, “When you act like a child, you get punished like one.”

She grabbed my arm and I was quickly spun around facing away from the group and she commenced slapping the bare calves of my legs. This really stung, but what was worse was getting punished like a child in front of these ladies. She would alternate from one side to the other. Then she started to go up one leg and down the other, repeating that cycle several times. After she finished, I had to stand nearby facing away with my arms folded behind me and listening as they went back to their gabbing and sharing the latest gossip and seemed to forget all about me.

After many shameful minutes, Leslie came along and led me to the kitchen where I was given a quick lunch before being sent off to resume cleaning.

When I approached Mr Winthrop’s study again, I immediately noticed that the door was open and the lights were on. I looked in and saw a well-dressed distinguished man sitting at the desk. I rapped my knuckles on the open door to get his attention. He glanced over and said with a very authoritative voice, “Close the door behind you, Miss.”

There was no doubt who was speaking. After shutting the door, I was told to have a seat in the lone chair that had been placed in front of his desk.

As I slowly crept closer across the floor, Mr Charles Winthrop said, “Ms Mitchell?”

I answered, “Yes?”

“Come along now and sit here, girl.” He then said, “You’re Kathryn Mitchell who works for Mr Garrett?”

I answered nervously, “Y-yes Sir,” as I sat down.

He snapped, “Speak up, girl!”

“Y-yes Sir. Yes, I work for him.” I felt so intimidated in his presence.

“Did you have a little problem the other day? Making a mess with my investments?”

Meekly I started to answer, “Well, I-I, well, there was…”

He interrupted, saying, “Girl, we’re going to have a big problem here if you don’t speak up and answer my questions directly!”

I cleared my throat and answered with, “Cough, ahem, I’m sorry, Sir. Yes, there was a problem. I-I blame myself but you see, I can explain and I-I’m trying to look into just how…”

He stopped me again. “Never mind your little investigation. I know just what happened. We will discuss that later. Let’s get on about you. I understand that you are a student at the Academy?”

Afraid not to answer his questions fast enough, I said, “Yes, Sir.”

“Working and school? That’s a busy schedule,” he said. “Do you enjoy going to the Academy?”

“Yes, Sir. I like being a student at the Academy.” Knowing now that he is a Trustee and a former Headmaster, I wouldn’t dare say no to him, even though I wasn’t really thrilled with it and didn’t know why I was required to go there.

Mr Winthrop said, “Your name has come up a few times lately so I made a point to learn what I could about you.” He was looking at a sheet of paper with hand-written notes on it and kept talking. “Top of your class, scholarships, awards, sports and plenty of activities, community involvement. You have many recommendations, even your Headmaster at the Academy has complimented you. Quite an enviable record girl, with the exception of yesterday, of course, which you’ll have an opportunity to answer for with my wife later.”

I wasn’t at all thrilled that he had been learning all about me, especially after my mistake with his account. I was horrified when he revealed his next discovery about me.

He continued, “Your file in the Headmaster’s office also contained another interesting issue involving a particular magazine that required a meeting initiated by you, as I understand it. I found reading your written confession letter quite intriguing. I ask you why you had to possess such a particular item? And speak up, girl! You had best not push it with me! I must tell you that I’m a bit on edge today. Tell me why you had to have it.”

I could feel myself blush to hear that he, too, had found out about the spanking magazine that I confessed to having while standing before Mr Leary. I sat squirming near the edge of my wooden chair while I thought back to the day that I first saw it and took it. He was really pressing me for answers. I tried to recapture exactly what I was thinking that day and why I felt like I just had to have it. I think I remember using those same words in my letter. I was so nervous but eventually started telling him everything that went on that day and what I was thinking.

I answered his every question. I described how shocked I was when I first saw those girls getting punished like that. It was something that I had never seen before or could ever imagine, and certainly had never experienced. I answered him when asked about the pictures. I told him just what I saw, the girls bent forward, sometimes bottoms were bared. Punishments were delivered by hand, leather strap and a cane.

When asked, I tried to think back and describe the mix of feelings that I had after seeing it for the first time; a little numbness, a little dizzy, my heart pounding, all wrapped into one. I said, “I just didn’t know what it was, Sir, but I had to go back and find it. I just had to take that magazine that day and I wanted to read the stories behind the pictures.”

He replied, “A bit too much curiosity, I’d say.” He paused before saying, “I see you have been in here cleaning earlier. You surely had time to look around and notice some of my collection. I found it interesting where you had placed your apron.”

He paused again, then leaned forward to ask, “Do you still have those same feelings of curiosity now?”

I felt a bit of tightness in my chest and took a breath before saying, “Yes, I suppose so. I’m embarrassed to admit to it.”

He asked, “Now tell me, honestly now, did you look at those magazine pictures and think of yourself?”

“Do you mean, Sir, if-if I ever thought, well I think what you’re asking, what if it were me in their shoes? Well, I-I sorta, sometimes, yes, I did, Sir. I would read the stories and think what if I had been na-naughty and were to be punished; punished like they were. You see, I-I had never ever, you know, been punished like that.”

Mr Winthrop said, “I can imagine that it’s embarrassing for you to admit that, isn’t it?”

I nodded my head.

He added, “That’s perfectly normal for a girl your age. Well, Ms Mitchell, as you sit there today you can consider yourself in their shoes.”

I looked up at him at hearing his words, and then I looked over his shoulder past him where his canes were on display over on the wood-paneled wall, and I thought of how I messed up working on his portfolio. I thought that he was going to cane me for sure.

He continued with, “Today, Mrs Winthrop is going to show you what happens to girls who use a sharp tongue around her.”

I said, “Yes Sir, I know. She already has, well, a little anyway,” and lowered my eyes again.

Then I told him about my apology and all about getting the strap on the back of my legs from Mrs Winthrop while standing in front of her guests earlier. I reached down and rubbed the back of my calves as I told him.

Maybe it was all of the talk about the pages from that old magazine that made the next words easily slip from my mouth.

I said, “It was very humiliating to be punished like that. I mean that I didn’t expect to be punished like I were a young child. I felt so foolish to be put on display and all. I’d much rather that I was strapped on my bottom like an older student would get. To be truthful, I sorta expected that after she showed me her old straps.”

After my words left my mouth, I was startled and spun around in my chair at hearing Mrs Winthrop say, “Well, Ms Mitchell, I had come in to tell you that your time is up for today. You have served your half day of detention here and you’re free to go. But, now I’m hearing as if you’d rather have something else. Let’s see if we can figure this out. Alright, Ms Mitchell?”

I was stunned. I didn’t know that Mrs Winthrop had silently entered the room and had been listening. I’m sure she heard more than enough of our conversation, including everything I had just clearly said. I was so stunned that only gibberish came from my mouth as I tried to back-pedal from my words. I stopped trying to speak to think it over and get my words right. I thought of all of those terrible things her guests said of me on the veranda. They were right. At least from what they saw of my disrespectful fit. I deserved some of what they were suggesting. What would really put things right with Mrs Winthrop after I made those regrettable comments yesterday.

I finally got my words together into a sentence and had the courage to say, “I remember Mr Leary had ordered that I am to serve detention here to your liking, Ma’am. I should stay as long as you wish. Please believe that I am very truly sorry for what I said to you yesterday. I know my actions deserve further attention and if it is to your liking Ma’am, I’ll take whatever you think I truly deserve.”

Mrs Winthrop said, “Very well, Ms Mitchell. I accept your heartfelt apology, and I’ll accept your offer. Charles, if you please. Ms Mitchell has said that she would rather have a strap taken to her bottom.”

Mr Winthrop stood and, as he removed his jacket, he said, “On your feet, Ms Mitchell, and remove your blazer.”

I quickly obeyed as I watched Mr Winthrop walk across the room to where he had several leather straps in a wall mounted display case. Mrs Winthrop moved in closer and took my blazer from me. I folded my arms behind my back, waiting for direction, and watched Mr Winthrop walk back with his selection.

Upon his return, Mr Winthrop held a very flexible leather strap that he called a tawse. I was given a brief history lesson of it and learned that it was from an old Scottish all-boys reform school where it was used very liberally on the hands and and even the backsides of those who were defiant and unruly. He added, “Those students found guilty of absconding would be punished on their behind before a general assembly to deter others from following the same path. Think of the stories it could tell if only it could talk!” With a smile he added, “I always believed that even the most headstrong could be reformed.” He seemed quite proud of his acquisition.

Mr Winthrop held out his right arm and I was instructed to step forward and unbutton his cuff and neatly fold up his shirt sleeve. It was bad enough that my own words helped put me in this spot that led me to get further punishment, but now I was made to take an active role in it by making it easier for Mr Winthrop to deliver my very own strapping. This was turning into a whole process and I quivered in anticipation.

This reminded me of when my mother recently had me prepare that old belt with leather conditioner while I sat at the kitchen table in front of her and her sister watching me the whole time. I was made to rub in the oil to return it to a supple condition so that it could do its job.

He kept speaking of the history behind the strap and giving dates and names of past Headmasters who used it, stopping only to correct how I was folding his sleeve. He said that he was even given the old punishment book that went along with this strap, and called it interesting reading.

Everything seemed to move as in a dream when I finished my task. I stood still for a moment admiring my work until Mr Winthrop turned me around and pushed me forward and up to the front of his desk. Mrs Winthrop had moved the chair that I was sitting in out of the way and was now standing on the opposite side of the desk. She was reaching out and gesturing to hold my hands. I looked her in the eyes while lowering myself onto the desk.

As she started to take hold of my hands, I said, “Wait! N-no, no wait, please!”

I shook my hands free from her and stood up, causing Mrs Winthrop to give me a wide-eyed look.

I said, “Wait! I-I should take the same as those boys got in front of everyone at assembly.”

I immediately reached back and pulled my skirt right up to present my panty covered bottom to Mr Winthrop as I looked back towards him. I briefly wondered what it was that made me do what I just did. Was it due to hearing the old stories and tales about that tawse that got to me? Or did I take up the challenge that I could take what those boys did. I settled on the fact that my skirt didn’t offer much more protection anyways.

I went back down on the desk with guidance from Mr Winthrop’s firm grip to the back of my neck. I let out a “Oomph!” when I went down hard!

Mrs Winthrop took hold of my hands and I squeezed back even harder, letting out little whimpers in anticipation of what was to come.

Mr Winthrop adjusted my skirt further and pulled my shirt tail right up out of the way.

“Some well-placed stripes on this bottom already, Margret!”

Mrs Winthrop replied with, “Yes, I think that she has had a busy week.”

I could imagine Mr Winthrop appreciating the view as I wiggled a little while settling in. Shortly afterwards, I was feeling the strap touching my bottom for the first time as he lined up his target.

Before taking his first swipe, he said, “This undoubtedly will be the first female bottom ever touched by this strap. It’s somewhat unfortunate for you, Ms Mitchell, as I feel somewhat entrusted to make this historic moment very memorable.”

Mrs Winthrop added, “Make it just like those boys guilty of absconding received, Charles! Nothing less! She’ll watch that tongue of hers in the future!”

I only whimpered all the more at hearing these words. At that moment, I got up on my toes and arched my back a little to present the best target I could, and continued to softly whimper.

Mr Winthrop commenced applying the strap, blow after blow. I cried right out at the first few until all of the air had expelled from my lungs. Then only sounds of squeals, grunts and moans left my mouth once I finally caught my breath again. My full bottom was covered by the strap whipping down hard. It was fast and intense and over very quickly. By the time he was done, my bottom felt ablaze as the pain was settling in and the tears were leaking down my face into a pool on the desk.

When it was over, I was let up and Mrs Winthrop handed me a tissue, and said, “Now stop that sniffling and get yourself into position; arms folded at your back and keep that skirt up, girl!”

Mrs Winthrop sat at the desk with my Saturday Detention Slip and was writing on it. After she finished, she took me by the arm and I was led out to the hallway, just beyond the door. I was told to stand facing the wall, with arms still folded at my back and my red bottom peeking out from my panties. She held the Detention Form against the wall at face level and I was instructed to lean forward and hold it there with my nose until she came back. She adjusted my skirt, tucking it in at the waist, then walked away. The hall was quiet except for house staff passing through at the far end occasionally.

Time passes slowly for a girl with a very sore bottom on display. I was struggling to hold my position. You wouldn’t think that holding a simple piece of paper could be so tiring. One thing for sure was that I never want to mouth-off like I did again. I need to control my actions and not let a situation take control my emotions.

Mrs Winthrop came along after a while, releasing me from my humiliating pose. I was told to put myself back in order. She said, “I’ll have the driver get the car ready to take you home, but Mr Winthrop needs to have a word with you before you go.”

I said, “I’m so so sorry, Ma’am.”

She answered, “I know you are, dear,” as she patted my shoulder and pointed into Mr Winthrop’s study.

OFFER AND COUNTER OFFER

I went to face Mr Winthrop, who was seated at his desk. As I was still walking over to him, he said, “Please be seated. I have something to settle with you, Miss.”

I had a sinking feeling once again. After looking at the hard wooden chair and feeling my very sore bottom, I asked to stay standing. I stood before him with my arms folded behind me and listened carefully to what he had to say.

He continued, “I’ve had a long chat with Mr Garrett. I’m sure you suspected that they were loading you up with work. You did very well with it all until those changes were made to my investments. He was testing you to see if you would fail. He told me that he gave you a good tongue-lashing for it and ran you through the ringer.”

I spoke up, saying, “I didn’t mean to make those changes, Sir. I only indicated that changes could be made.”

He said, “Watch your tone with me, girl! Now is not the time to interrupt me. Didn’t you learn anything today?”

“Yes, Sir! Sorry, Sir,” I said.

He said, “I know exactly what happened. It wasn’t entirely your fault. The fact is, you had left my account vulnerable by leaving your computer on and some program running. It was open to anyone, and there is only one person to blame for that.”

I lowered my head and again said, “Sorry Sir.”

“Sorry indeed, girl!” As he raised his voice.

Mrs Winthrop had walked back into the room and said, “Charles, the car will be waiting.”

Mrs Winthrop’s presence seem to calm him down for the moment. After a pause, he continued, “Some good has come of it. I’m assured that procedures will be put in place to prevent any of this in the future. Also, I’ve learned just how brilliant and capable you are. The changes that you suggested look very promising.”

His anger quickly returned. He started in again with, “But the fact of the matter is that you had left that open door and changes were made without my knowledge. I can’t imagine what some devilish criminal could have done.”

As he continued with his rant, I became more uncomfortable with the way he was getting more and more upset, and I worried where this might be going. At one moment he was satisfied with the outcome and the next it seemed like he wanted to contact the authorities. That surely wouldn’t be good for me! He took a deep breath and apologized, admitting that he was getting himself worked up over this, including Garrett’s little games.

I thought of how careless I was with the security of his assets and I had to admit to myself that my part in this easily deserved his further attention. My attitude toward Mrs Winthrop in the library garden was nothing compared to this! It was enough to make me think of myself as if I were in the shoes of any girl in the photos of that old magazine.

It was easy to see how upset he was. I was mad at myself for my careless mistakes and shook my head slightly in disbelief at what I had done. I looked again over his shoulder at the display of canes and thought again of the photo stories from the old magazine that he made me talk about earlier. As scared as I was of getting caned by him, it was better than if the authorities were called. To be honest, I had no idea how the laws here worked. I thought it better that it was settled right here in his study so I spoke right up or at least I tried to.

After taking a deep breath, I cleared my throat and gathered up enough bravery to say, “For my part in all of this, I deserve a good caning for what I have done, Sir!”

His reply was, “Are you sure about that, Ms Mitchell? Your bottom is already quite sore.”

I said, “I feel as if I must, Sir. I-I see how angry you are. I know it doesn’t make up for what I have done, but I was so careless! Please, don’t notify the authorities! I deserve the correction of your cane, Sir!”

He said, “You think so, do you?”

I continued to stand up straight and said, “Yes Sir, I-I do.”

Mrs Winthrop, who had been watching all of this from the far side of the room, said, “Shall I tell Ian to park the car again?”

Mr Winthrop said, “Hold off on that, Harriet. Ms Mitchell, now listen to me.”

He went on, saying that there had been an awful chain of events that I got caught up in, but he was impressed enough with me to offer a position on the board of his charitable Winthrop Foundation. I was told to sit as he continued. He was excited with the ideas in my proposal and said that he wanted me to be a part of his group that oversaw his investments. There was also other work to do including applications to be reviewed and awarding grants. He spent some time going into a little detail about my role in all of his plan. I continued listening intently as I gingerly sat on the hard wooden chair. I was told that I would continue to work for my current employer. I would be well compensated with shares of stock in his corporation for my work for the Foundation. This was all sounding very exciting to me and got my mind off of his canes.

He continued with, “There’s just one more thing that I might need from you.”

I just knew that there had to be a catch.

He said, “I need you to continue attending Wellington as a student. At least from time to time. I have felt for a long time that there is a great need to see what’s going on from the student’s point of view. There is a student council but I need someone that can be trusted from the inside. You need to blend in as you are with the students. I can imagine you easily fitting in that role, even perhaps, and I don’t mean to embarrass you about your size, but even with the lower levels if needed.”

I had to agree with him as I have seen myself in the mirror.

I didn’t quite know what to say at his offer, and I paused trying to consider everything.

Mr Winthrop picked up on my apprehension and quickly said, “Don’t say anything right now. Take a week or so to think it over, including your foolish request if you must. Come back here, let’s say next Friday, directly after your classes. I can have the lawyers draw up papers by then. We can discuss the details and formalize everything. You’re still attending class on Fridays?”

I nodded my head and agreed with him, saying that I’d think it over and come back right after my classes next Friday. He had gone through it all rather quickly and there was a lot to think about. I felt rather excited with his offer as I stood and walked out with Mrs Winthrop. She walked along with me, eventually arm in arm, down the outside steps to the waiting car. We stood and talked for a while as we approached the limousine. I faced her and apologized again for everything I had said toward her in anger and for any embarrassment that I caused her in front of the other ladies.

She brushed the whole thing aside and said that she was happy that I had spent the day with her. She said that she enjoyed talking with me and joked about using her strap, saying that she enjoyed using it again. She reminded me to hand in my Saturday Detention slip so that I didn’t get in trouble.

I said that she was sounding more like my mom and before long I was suggesting that she should make contact with her. I said that she is more into the social circle thing than I am. I smiled and said, “I think the two of you would get along well. I’m sure you would have a lot to talk about.”

Ian stood by all the while holding the limousine door open. She actually gave me a hug before I got into the waiting car, saying to me, “I think I will give her a call if you don’t mind, dear.”

I opened the window before we drove off and jokingly said, “Mrs Winthrop, you should use your strap more often.”

By the time I got home and looked into the mirror after removing my uniform, my bottom was a very rosy pink color and much redder across my sit spot. The only other marks were from Mr Leary’s cane that cut into my bottom’s underside. I spent the rest of the day lying on my stomach working on my homework assignments, stopping from time to time to stare off and think about being in Mr Winthrop’s study and, more importantly, his offer.

After my run on Sunday morning, I called Barbara and asked her to meet me later at a favorite cafe. I filled her in on my latest news. I told her just about everything that happened during my detention as she kept grilling me for more details.

She asked about the cane marks that I had even before I was awarded the three strokes from Mr Leary on Friday. When I told her she exclaimed, “You asked for a caning? Then you asked again for further punishment during your Detention? What’s up, girl?”

I let her know the reason I asked for the cane was to help me get re-focused at work as I was having a terrible problem and feared losing my job. Then I told her the strap yesterday evolved from an unfortunate comment that I made. It was taken out of context and I got myself backed into a corner where I had to take it. I admit that I can be stubborn and I wasn’t going to back down at that point.

She said, “You remind me of a student a few years ago that seemed to always get herself into trouble. Each time, she seemed to outdo the last. We thought it was just so that she’d get the cane.”

I said, “Trust me, I’m not looking to get anything that I don’t deserve.”

She said, “Well, from what I saw on Friday, you were asking for what you got with your bad attitude.”

I had to agree with her on that.

At that point, I wasn’t going to mention anything about asking Mr Winthrop for the cane. I asked her what she really thought of Winthrop’s offer. She said, “It sounds like a great opportunity. That is, if you wouldn’t mind playing the student role from time to time.”

I said, “The big question for me was how much would I be required to attend school and maybe have to blend in with the younger ones?”

She joked, “I bet you would look the part with less make-up and your hair in pigtails,” as she reached out to quickly fashion my hair.

I gave her a look and said that I had the week to think it over.

Later that night, I called home as I would every Sunday night. I thought it best if I gave Mom the heads up of how I got in a little bit of trouble at school on Friday and she should expect a letter coming her way from the Headmaster’s office. She wasn’t pleased, to say the least, but had calmed down after I explained the whole situation to her. I tried to explain it all by saying that there was a bunch of commotion and then there was Mrs Winthrop in my face accusing me with the evidence sitting at my feet. I told Mom that I just lost it with her and reacted poorly.

She said, “I hope you learned something from it.” She added that she would sign off on the letter and warned that we would be discussing this further at my next visit home. She went on with a long lecture of how I should control my actions much better, especially my mouth.

I must have said, “Yes Ma’am,” a half dozen times as she lectured.

I wanted to get into telling her the better news to change the subject as soon as I could. I didn’t bring up about how Mr Garrett’s scheme got me into hot water with Mr Winthrop, thinking that I had a plan to make it right with him and it would all go away. I went on and told her all about Mr Winthrop’s offer to work for his non-profit foundation, at least as much as I understood of his offer.

After I told her that I was thinking about it, she quickly said, “What’s to think about, Katie?”

I let her know about the catch of being a student and she pointed out that she thought it was good for me to be under a watchful eye while away from home. As an example, she quickly reminded me of my incident on Friday at school. I just let that comment go and was careful not to try to explain how it was a one-off thing that just got out of hand for fear I might be sounding like I was giving her some back talk. I thought it’s best to be quiet and listen to Mom lecturing me again.

Things were uneventful at work all week, but I spent most of it thinking of nothing but Mr Winthrop’s offer. The benefit and opportunity for me clearly outweighed having to be the occasional student whenever he requested. Even my mother agreed with that and I had to admit that the structure of attending school had always been good for me over the years. It usually brought out the best in me. The bigger question weighing heavy on my mind was will I get up the nerve to ask him again for the cane or should I forget about it? Would he bring it up or will my curiosity get the best of me? Everything about his study got my curiosity going. I couldn’t stop thinking about his canes on the wall. My bottom had healed nicely from last week’s punishment. Each time I checked in the mirror, I would think of Mr Winthrop’s study and the pictures from that old magazine. The conversation that I had with him stirred things up again for me.

DECISION TIME

I went through my normal routine of getting ready for school on Friday morning. Before heading out the door, I made sure to grab my Saturday Detention slip off of the refrigerator. I had left it out in plain view just so I wouldn’t forget to hand it in today. Every time I walked by it I thought of how disappointed I was in my attitude towards Mrs Winthrop. As I took it away, I thought, ‘Glad that no one stopped by my apartment this week and saw it!’

When I arrived at the Academy, I went straight to the Headmaster’s office to see Barbara to drop off my signed Detention slip as proof that it had been completed. As I approached the office, Mr Bixby came up to me and said that he was hoping to catch up with me today. He followed me through the office door and said that he needed to do a follow-up on my electronics and asked for my laptop and cell phone. I told him that I had to go to Assembly and classes right after. He just stared back with his hand out. He left after I gave him what he wanted. I turned my attention to Ms Compton and gave her my Detention slip from last Saturday.

As she opened my file to add the paper to it, she said, “Is he going to find anything that shouldn’t be there?”

I answered with a snotty reply, “No, I’ve learned from the last time. I’m trying to follow the rules, Barbara.”

She snapped back with, “It’s Ms Compton while we are here, Ms Mitchell. You better have a seat and wait right here.”

I replied, “Sorry, Ms Compton.”

I knew he wouldn’t find anything inappropriate on either device as I have been careful using them so as not to break the Academy’s Internet use policy, but I began wondering and worrying if there was something the longer I waited. I checked the time as I didn’t need a detention for being late or missing Assembly this morning. ‘Please not today,’ I thought. ‘I need to go see Mr Winthrop right after school.’

I ended up making it to Assembly just in time after getting my phone and laptop back from Mr Bixby with a clean review.

After another one of Mr Wright’s rather boring Literature classes, I was met at the door by a student messenger with a note from the Headmaster’s office. It informed me that I was to meet with Mr Leary right away. I hadn’t done anything wrong, at least not lately, I told myself, but I had that unavoidable sinking feeling just the same. My face immediately turned all shades of red in front of the girl as I read the note and it got worse as I proceeded down the hall. I snapped at the girl when it appeared that she was following along to make sure I went straight to my appointment. She meekly told me that she was just heading back to the main office. I apologized and we separated shortly after.

When I entered, Ms Compton said that Mr Leary was on the phone and I should go right in as he was expecting me.

As I walked up toward his desk, he motioned for me to have a seat while he finished his phone conversation. I looked around the room while taking a seat and noticed that the cupboard where he kept his canes was wide open. My eyes went right to his desk where I saw a cane sitting off to the side. Just as I was seated, he ended his phone call and he got right to the point of why I was summoned.

“Ms Mitchell, I’m still being pressured to close the case of the pilfered wine bottle. I’ve checked security cameras and have interviewed several people. No one has offered up any help. Nobody saw those two girls running from the garden as you have claimed. I need more to go on. You do understand that I need something? Color of their hair, something! Think back and tell me everything you can. Or do you have something to admit to, and we can stop all of this?”

I gave him a bit of a look at that comment, but went on and described everything from memory, which I knew offered nothing new. I said, “I’ve told you all of this before.” I sat silent for a moment, looking over to his cane sitting off to the side of his desk before finally saying, “Because you don’t have anyone else, does that mean that I’m to be caned today?”

He answered saying that he really didn’t believe that I did it and hoped that I wasn’t trying to protect someone. He added that he needed to tell Mrs Winthrop something soon. It had been a week. I told him she didn’t believe that I did it either.

“So, I needn’t worry, right Mr Leary?”

He didn’t answer that and only repeated his need to resolve this soon while he shuffled things across his desk, including nudging the cane which got my attention. I wasn’t sure if that was intentional or not.

He said, “You can go on your way. We’ll talk later, Ms Mitchell.”

I left not feeling any better than when I walked in.

Throughout the day, I tried to replay in my head the whole scene in the Library Garden, but nothing stood out that would be of any help to Mr Leary, or to me for that matter. Besides that, I spent most of my time between classes thinking of nothing but going to meet with Mr Winthrop after school today. It filled my head even as I tried to work on my assignments. I remembered my mother’s advice to just take the offer. Admittedly, it was a great offer that he laid out for me, but I still couldn’t shake my feelings of guilt for what I had done while working on his investments. My thoughts always seem to circle back around to that. How would it be for me to go to work for the man that I had done as I did?

After PE class, the time had come to make my decision. After showering, I stood in front of a locker room mirror brushing my hair and silently talking to myself. I put on my brave face and was determined to go forward and accept Mr Winthrop’s offer, but demand that we settle things today one way or the other for leaving his account so vulnerable in hopes that would in some way put things right between us. In a way I was hoping that he would agree with me as my crazy curiosity was getting the best of me today.

I grabbed a taxi and went straight from school, still in my uniform, to the Winthrop estate for my meeting. I nervously rode in the back seat, looking out the window, contemplating how this meeting might go. This was a big opportunity for me but just the thought of meeting with the former Headmaster today made me very anxious. I wondered if he would remember what I had asked of him last time in his study and if he took me seriously? I’m sure that he was still very upset over the whole handling of his investments. I still felt absolutely terrible about my part in all of that. I don’t think that he really forgave me. I don’t ever remember him saying so. I wondered if he would ever forget it or would it always be a problem between us. I knew that I should be punished to set things right. I just needed to find the same determination again that I had while looking into that mirror back at school. The more I thought about it, if it were to happen today, this might set the tone for our relationship going forward.

I arrived soon afterwards at the Winthrop estate with my nerves completely on edge. There was a tightness in my chest and butterflies in my gut. I stepped out of the taxi in the warm afternoon sun and took a few steps toward the front door, looking at the impressive mansion before me. I was a bit apprehensive and had thoughts of having the driver just take me home and do this another day. I turned in time to see the taxi speed off. It was too late now.

Leslie answered the door this time and said that Mr Winthrop was ready for me and had been waiting. She walked me down the hall to his door and then left me as I entered.

I was greeted right away by Mr Winthrop and introduced to his two well-dressed lawyers that were also in the room. I suddenly felt that I wasn’t properly dressed for this meeting and apologized for my appearance, explaining that I had come right from school. He told me that I was perfectly fine and he had expected me to come straight from school anyway.

After we all sat down, he said that, after thinking it over, his offer is not contingent in anyway on further enrollment at the Academy. Any enrollment could be discussed at a later time. He went on about how I would be an asset to his team, as he put it, and again asked me to accept his offer and then paperwork was presented for me to sign by his lawyers. He explained that the papers were just to make my appointment official and to allow for my compensation and future adjustments along the way. The younger and very handsome of the two lawyers constantly hovered over me, showing me where to sign and to act as a witness to my signatures.

I picked up a pen and signed the papers telling him, “As you can see, I really don’t have an issue with being a student at the Academy if you need me, Sir,” and I went on to thank him for this opportunity.

He said, “I’m glad you enjoy going to school. It’s a great institution.”

There were two different sets of papers and the lawyer swiped them away as soon as I signed them. There was also an addendum attached that I had to initial. I didn’t really read through the papers before signing and to be honest the lawyers were flipping right to the signature pages anyway. It was sort of a rushed affair.

I fiddled with the pen before finally sitting down and my eyes looked over at the canes on display. A sudden chill ran through me and caused me to shudder as it reminded me of what I must ask if Mr Winthrop didn’t bring it up, but how could I in front of his lawyers? There was something about his study that stirred up my curiosity until it was about to boil over inside. I had a quick vision of the lawyers staying on as official witnesses!

Mr Winthrop’s voice brought me back into the moment with him saying, “There will be a meeting here next Thursday. Further information will be sent to you in an email on that. That’s about all I have for now. Do you have any questions for me?”

I said, “Well, I-I guess I’d, well, I want to say thank you again for this opportunity, Mr Winthrop.” I could feel my face starting to blush as I looked over to the lawyers. They sat silently waiting for what else I might have to say.

He said, “I think you are a great addition and will bring new life into my foundation. There has been too much of the same old thinking with the group. They’ve become a bit stale. I think a fresh face with fresh ideas is just what we need. I’m sorry, I may have interrupted you. Was there something else on your mind? You seem like there was.”

I said, “I, no, I can’t think of any questions right now.”

At that point, the lawyers were satisfied that any negotiations were complete and they gathered up the papers into their briefcase, then said that they would be on their way.

My eyes followed them as they headed for the door.

Mr Winthrop said, “Ms Mitchell? Are you sure there wasn’t something else?”

Finally, as they were walking through the door, I cleared my throat and said, “Umm, yes, there is one more thing, Sir. Your (deep breath) your cane, I mean, if you remember the last time I was here I had suggested the cane, Sir, for what I have done.”

“Yes, I remember very well, Ms Mitchell. And I believe I told you to take your time to clearly think about what you were saying.” Mr Winthrop paused and then said, “I certainly hope you have. So, I ask you now, Ms Mitchell, have you wisely reconsidered that request?”

I felt sure of myself even though my shaky voice didn’t sound that way. I said, “Yes, I-I have, Sir. I’ve thought it over. I understand now that it was all a bit of a game that was played on me, and on you as well, but what I had done wasn’t right. I know that I am better than that. I hope to get the chance to prove it to you, Sir. But, as you pointed out, I had left the door open, so to speak for criminal activity. Fortunately, that didn’t happen or I’d be in bigger trouble now, but…”

Mr Winthrop interrupted with, “That’s correct, we are fortunate, aren’t we?”

I answered, “Yes, Sir. I’m sure I could have been charged somehow for my part if it did.”

“Speak up, girl,” he commanded. “You’re talking into the table!”

“Sorry, Sir. I mean, I don’t want anything bad to remain between us and I’d like to clear the slate, if you know what I’m trying to say. I have given this serious consideration, and I-I feel exactly like you asked me before. I now feel as if I am in the shoes of one of those girls in that old magazine, Sir, and for what I’ve done (another deep breath) you certainly have every right, and as I appear before you today, it’s time to show me w-what happens to na-naughty girls.”

“You’re quite right, girl,” Mr Winthrop said. “I trust your bottom has healed sufficiently?”

I nodded my head.

He stood up and said, “So, on your feet, Ms. Mitchell. Step out here, right here in the middle of the floor. Stand straight, eyes forward, arms at your side.”

Mr Winthrop started in on a long tongue-lashing lecture, discussing and rehashing my failure for allowing this to happen. He said, “We have discussed all of this before, but I want you to clearly understand how serious this is,” as he paced the floor and circled around me all the while. He even leaned in toward my ear to make a point from time to time. He praised me for my abilities, but pointed out that I should’ve been more vigilant. After a while, I became a trembling wreck and started wringing my hands in front of me without thinking. I was immediately corrected to straighten up. “Can’t you follow a simple command, girl,” he yelled. “Hands at your side!” He moved to stand right in front of me.

“Y-yes, Sir. Sorry, Sir,” I said as felt my shoulders shiver and got myself back into position.

He looked at me for a moment before saying, “Are you sure that you want to proceed? You know that we don’t need to.”

After hearing my response and how steadfast I was, he pointed to a nearby chair and said, “Take that jacket off girl and put it over there.”

When I returned to where I was standing, I was ordered to fold my arms tightly behind my back.

Mr Winthrop started lecturing again, but stopped when there was a knock on his door. I had my back to the door but I could easily recognize Leslie’s voice. She stepped in, apologizing at first for the interruption, but wanted to remind Mr Winthrop of his next meeting. He acknowledged that there might be an overlap by saying, “Let’s meet in the library for that one. We are going to need some extra time here to finish this up. Just let me know when they have arrived.”

I was feeling embarrassed and glad that Leslie couldn’t see my face. I closed my eyes, thinking that it was obvious that I was in a bit of trouble as I didn’t move and stood like a statue with my arms still folded behind me.

Leslie politely said, “Yes, Sir,” and softly closed the door as she left, hardly making a sound.

Mr Winthrop walked out in front of me again and started in with a whole dissertation on the effectiveness of proper correction. He went on explaining the different elements he looked for to achieve success in dealing with a wayward girl. He complimented me in that I was well on my way down the correct path today, pointing out that I respectfully stood before him ready to face my consequences after repeatedly admitting to my mistake.

He said, “I can see that you’re burdened with your guilt. I hope this will help you with that. I want you to know that all is forgiven and you shouldn’t trouble yourself with this anymore. Enough said. I can see that you won’t change your mind.” He raised an arm to point. “Go fetch that middle cane, girl!”

I started to move, taking a slow step at first, trying to get my feet to cooperate. I approached with eyes focused on his well displayed collection. I reached up and retrieved the cane, then returned to where Mr Winthrop was standing. He had already removed his jacket. I respectfully handed it to him with both hands.

“The time has come, Ms Mitchell. First, remove your shoes.”

I quickly did as told, placing them under the chair where my blazer was. I turned around and stood up straight in front of him, arms behind my back, just as I was before. Mr Winthrop stepped to the side and gestured toward his antique wooden caning bench. I hadn’t noticed, but it must have been set out and made ready before I even entered the room to sign those papers. I was so curious about it last time when I was here cleaning the room. I remembered looking at all those straps and touching its wooden surface. I stepped forward and accepted his invitation as he pointed the way with his cane.

I could feel the adrenaline pumping as my foolish curiosity pushed me forward. I was expecting to hear a long story or a tale from its history along the way. Instead, I was quickly guided with a hand gripping my arm above the elbow. I walked up to it, stepped on the extended wooden legs and gave myself a boost from there to lay across its high top. My feet dangled as I tried to touch the floor with my toes. After the wide leather belt was laid across my lower back and buckled, he methodically moved around from corner to corner, first securing my wrists. Then he disappeared from view to secure each leg just above my knee to this table. I thought that being secured could be for my benefit as I didn’t think I could possibly maintain my position for what I had coming.

I strained against the straps and quickly realized that it was a waste of energy.

Little whimpering sounds escaped my lips as I started to think of why I was here. Thinking back at how I was in such a careless rush that day and left that program running on my computer. All in a big hurry to look good and hand in that report before the end of the day and head home.

‘So foolish,’ and ‘never again,’ were some of the things I said to myself over and over as I lay there and shook my head. ‘Such a foolish mistake.’

Mr Winthrop pulled my skirt right up and over my back, then said, “Shall we begin?”

I cleared my throat and, with a squeaky tone, I said, “Yes Sir!”

He measured his aim by placing the cane firmly across the center of my bottom. I kept my eyes forward and began panting, trying to prepare myself as best I could as he started tapping at his target. I knew it was coming when I felt him take the cane away. I could hear the whistle of the cane before that first stroke landed dead center, cutting straight across my bottom. It didn’t register at first and then I made a fist and jerked against my restraints as the familiar burning pain sank in. I sucked in air, but didn’t cry out. Only a moan managed to escape my clenched lips.

I grit my teeth and whimpered after the next two strokes, bobbing my head and continually pulling against my restraints. Little squeaking sounds at first, then the uncontrollable flood of tears started as I finally cried out and continued after each stroke thereafter. “Owww! Oooo!”

After a week of nothing but anguish over this pending punishment, I broke down and released all of my pent-up emotions. I knew deep down inside that I needed to get this behind me to move forward.

I pulled against the straps. I made fists and curled my toes, anything to shake the pain. Eventually, I just hung my head and cried as my punishment continued with two more delivered well below the first one. I was going to get whatever Mr Winthrop felt I deserved, and I was determined not to sound so foolish by pleading with him.

But I finally gave in and cried out, “Please! No more! I’m sorry, Sir. I’m sorry! I’m so, so sorry!” I was finally able to release my feelings of guilt. It was like a weight being lifted from me right then.

Mr Winthrop paused and said, “That’s right, girl, let it all out,” as he listened to me cry and stepped forward to rub between my shoulders and add comforting words. He said we were almost there and soon stepped back behind me and sent two more quickly to my already sore bottom. I thought it was over when there wasn’t any more. At least that’s what I had thought.

I was left there as he went to answer the knock at the door which I hadn’t heard myself. I hung like a wet dish rag draped over his caning bench, still sobbing softly to myself. I was aware there was someone else there and talking going on but I was unable to comprehend what was said over my sniffles.

I heard the door close and a moment later Mr Winthrop said, “Let’s get the point home with you counting these last three, girl,” as he pulled my panties up tight.

I whimpered and answered in a soft tone, “Yes Sir,” and shortly after felt the cane tapping on my sore bottom once again.

Mr Winthrop stopped and said, “Let’s make these last three memorable.”

I asked myself, ‘How could I ever forget!’ I was already making promises to myself to never ever, ever, ever make such foolish mistakes again.

He tapped the cane again, but much, much lower, lining up the first of the three across the top of my thighs, just below my bottom. I could only whimper with more squeaky moans and my teary eyes were wide open, knowing that these were going to be the worst yet.

As he continued to tap the cane, he said, “This will give the girls in your PE class something to chat about!”

Whoosh-crack!

I howled and cried before I had to be prompted, “Count girl!”

I finally counted out “One, Sir. One!”

He took his time as he lined up the next stroke, and then much later the last one, each slightly lower than the last and waiting in between to let the moment sink in. My final count was hardly audible amongst my crying.

When he was done, he proudly exclaimed, “I’m sure you will find those to be memorable and the talk of your classmates!”

He went around and one by one released the straps that had me secured. I slowly let myself off, hanging onto the bench as I tried to get my feet under me and gain my balance. I reached back for my upper thighs and bottom, gently running my fingers across my welted skin.

Mr Winthrop said, “Ms Mitchell, get yourself together and I’ll have Ian take you home when you’re ready.”

I said, “Th-thank you, Sir. I-I promise to do better.”

“I’m quite sure you will,” was his reply as he turned and walked away.

Mr Winthrop left me in my sorry state, presumably to go arrange for my transportation. I did my best to compose myself and walk over to step into my shoes. Before I left the room, I went over to his desk where he had set the cane down. I ran my right hand along it’s smooth surface while my left hand reached up under my skirt, linking the two together. I scanned the room, taking in everything as I made my way for the door. Something in the back of my head told me that I would be in here again, but hopefully not anytime soon.

I met Leslie out in the hall after a visit to the bathroom to fix my tear-stained face. She asked if I was alright and admitted that she was the one that entered the study and saw me earlier. She walked with me out the front door and told me that she too has gotten the cane. I wasn’t in a chatting mood then and we ended up sharing phone numbers before I left.

When I looked in the mirror later at home, I had to agree those three angry welts across my upper thighs could very well last until my next PE class, and will clearly be visible below my short gym skirt. I had to admit that Mr Winthrop was very talented with wielding the cane. My bottom was evenly painted red without any serious damage to my flesh, except for those last three that were applied for that “lasting impression.” I applied a soothing layer of cream then spent the night working on my schoolwork while lying on my stomach. I woke up some hours later with my laptop and papers strewn about on my bed along with several used tissues.

A trip to the bathroom proved that I hadn’t just dreamt about the events of the day. It was sore just to walk and sitting gave me a clear reminder to be watchful at work in the future. I was still very upset with Mr Garrett.

I spent the rest of the rainy weekend in my apartment and didn’t feel like going on my run as usual on Sunday morning. I cleaned, did laundry, and finished all of my homework while nursing my sore bottom. I called home and let Mom know that I did accept Mr Winthrop’s offer, but left out anything else that happened in his study. She was thrilled with the news.

As the week went on, I was feeling much better, although sitting for long periods was difficult. Mr Winthrop’s caning seemed different from anything that I received before. The soreness I felt went much deeper than Mr Leary’s caning.

I attended my first meeting as a member of the Winthrop’s charitable foundation on Thursday evening. I was in very good spirits with a clear conscience. We met in the library of his Estate. This time I dressed the part in formal business attire, wearing a dark blue knee-length dress and heels. I was proudly introduced to all by Mr Winthrop right at the start. I mostly sat and listened to the conversations as the meeting progressed. It was very interesting as I took it all in and I was excited to get going with my part.

There was a gathering after the meeting for drinks and plenty of socializing as the meeting moved to another room that was a perfect setting for entertaining. There was a grand piano off to the side, a large fireplace and comfortable seating all around the room. I could only imagine the fancy affairs that were hosted in this room. I was the youngest by far and I made a good effort to get to know the others that I would be working with. I was starting to fit in and felt a little like celebrating my new appointment and took a big sip from a glass of wine that was poured for me.

I thought to myself, ‘So, this is what the expensive stuff tastes like.’ It was way better than anything that I have ever tasted before when hanging out with my girlfriends.

Later in the evening as I was socializing with some of the other members, Mr Winthrop approached and took me aside saying, “I just wanted to say that I’m used to seeing you in your uniform but I must say that you are a beautiful young woman.”

I meekly thanked him for the compliment.

He asked, “How are you doing, Kathryn, after our little meeting? I hoped that it wasn’t too, well, er, should I say, more than you expected. You seem to be sitting well tonight.”

I could feel my face blush and quickly looked to the floor to find my voice to answer him. After a quick look around to see if others were nearby, I said, “Much better, Sir. Not as sore when sitting, you know. I do want to thank you again for clearing the slate between us. I-I feel so much better and I do promise to do a good job for you, Sir. I really do.”

He answered, “Oh, I know you will, Kathryn. I have all of the confidence in the world in you. How is everything else going for you?”

“Things are going well. It’s been very busy,” I told him.

He smiled and said, “That’s good. I hope that you have been behaving yourself as well. I wouldn’t want to hear of any bad reports from school, tee-hee!” After his little chuckle, he continued, “How are those last few marks? Do we need to freshen them up?”

I took in a quick startled breath and my bottom clenched involuntarily just thinking about being over his caning bench and receiving those wicked strokes. I suddenly didn’t feel like celebrating and set my drink down.

I looked up to him and answered honestly, “They’ve faded a quite a bit, but still visible, Sir. Shall I go wait for you in your study?”

He replied, “No, no, no! Just teasing, you’re fine. Besides, I have guests to chat with. Relax! Enjoy your drink.”

I could feel myself blushing as I couldn’t believe that those words left my lips. Did I really just say that to him?

I said, “I really should be leaving. I need my sleep. School tomorrow, you know.” I wished Mr Winthrop a good night and thanked him again for this opportunity.

He replied, “Oh, I think that everyone is very happy that you joined us. Please stay.”

I said again that I really should be going.

He answered with, “Then have a good night, Ms Mitchell.”

I made my way towards the door to call for a taxi before he changed his mind. I knew that he was only joking with me, but my mind, on the other hand, was whirling in my head. One last look around the room was enough to give me a vision of everyone following us into Winthrop’s study to watch his new Board member earn her stripes. I shook that vision from my head and headed for the front entrance.

Before I walked out, Leslie gestured toward me to call her.

Late that night, I gave Leslie a call. I hadn’t called her before, mostly because I was embarrassed that she not only knew, but she also saw me while I was punished at the Winthrop Estate. The conversation was a bit strained at first but I was interested in learning more about her. We talked for a very short time before I just couldn’t avoid the subject that was on my mind. I hardly got the question out and she was forthcoming that she gets punished for failures or minor misdeeds in her work for the Winthrop’s. The way she said it made me think that she had requested the strict guidance. She said it was a long story, but they pretty much took her in after she finished attending the Academy where she didn’t do very well. With poor grades, going on to a university was out of the question for her. Her parents were tired of dealing with her and all of her problems. She had been transferring from school to school and finally ending up at the Academy. They totally loss control of her at home. So, shortly after graduating, she found herself to be out on her own without skills to get a proper position of employment and nowhere to go. The Winthrops took her in, almost adopting the poor girl. She said that Harriet, especially, had worked with her to turn things around.

She said, “At least I have a roof over my head and money in my pocket.”

I felt a little uncomfortable asking too many questions after hearing her story. I was glad that I had a loving family. We left things as they were with a promise to talk again in the near future.

As I was getting ready to go to school Friday morning, I checked out my backside after my shower and confirmed that I indeed still had those telltale bruises on the back of my upper thighs that looked like rungs on a ladder. I could only think of what Mr Winthrop said about my classmates noticing that I had been caned. I thought back to when I was taking that computer class where I had overheard a group of girls in the hall buzzing away about some girl getting caned that day. That was actually how I found out that the cane was still in use at this school. I thought that now I was about to be the subject of their gossip. I went on with my usual routine and soon I was off to school. I stared out the window on the bus ride and I could see that it was going to be a nice day. My thoughts went to guessing what Ms Clayton will have us doing today in PE class and hoping that somehow I would be able to hide my bruises from the class. I cursed those damn short gym skirts.

On my way to my Literature class after Assembly, Mr Leary caught up with me in the hall. He informed me that he was still getting pressured by Mrs Winthrop to have closure to the incident that happened in the garden.

I was a little short with him and simply said, “I have told you everything I can. It all happened so quick that I can’t describe those two girls. I’m sorry, I have to be at class.”

He replied by telling me that we would talk later, which was embarrassing because it was loud enough for others standing nearby to hear. As I walked to class, I had that haunting feeling that I would still become the scapegoat in this incident.

Mr Wright was trying to outdo himself in the extremely boring department. The authors of the classical works that he was teaching about would roll over in their graves if they knew how bad his classes were. I looked around and wondered just how many girls were here to make up for failing his course last term because of him. Such torture, I thought. I was startled when he called upon me while I stared off, still worried about my PE class. If I didn’t know the materials so well I’d be at a loss for the right answers and probably find myself in detention for being inattentive in his class. He just shook his head when I answered his question and then went on adding interesting insight to the enjoyment of the rest of the class.

He pulled me aside after class and I thought I was in for it. He accused me of wanting to take over his class. I saw a familiar form laying on the corner of his desk and artfully chose my words so as to not make this situation turn into a detention and another letter home. I ended up carefully suggesting a few things that he could do to liven things up to get more class participation. I used some ideas that were commonly used by my university professors. He listened and seemed receptive to my comments, saying that he would give them a try. I walked away thinking that there might be some good with me mixing in with the students here at the Academy after all.

When it finally came time to go to PE class, I tried my best to hang back to avoid showing off the remnants of my caning. I made sure that I was the last to change and leave the lockers. I took a quick peek in the mirror before joining the class and I could see those bruises when I bent forward. I convinced myself that’s only because I knew enough to look for them. I was worried that the pleating of the skirt might flip up and show the marks that weren’t covered by the panty underneath. I pulled my garment down lower as best as I could and then went out to join the class.

I lined up in the back row for our stretching and warm-up routine before we hit the cross-country course, where I ran at the back of the group, something that I have never done, even when I was so out of shape. It seemed that my plan to avoid being the topic of today’s circle of gossip was going to work. When we completed the course, Ms Clayton let the class out early as she announced that she had a meeting to attend to.

My classes were done for the day so I took my time heading into the lockers and rested on the benches for a while. After several, minutes I headed inside where I just hung out in front of my locker, listening and waiting for everyone else to leave for their next class before my shower. It felt nice to take a long hot shower, but all I could think of was Mr Leary confronting me earlier in the day with the water cascading over me.

As I dropped my towel that I was wrapped up in after my shower and about to step into my panties, a voice from behind startled me.

“You got the rod! I thought I saw bruises earlier!” I quickly turned to see Abigail Crowley standing there staring at me.

Without thinking, my hands went right to my bottom as I spun away from her. I said, “No, no I-I slipped and fell down some stairs.”

She saw right through that lie and asked how many I got from Mr Leary. I kept denying everything. I wasn’t really lying when I said that they weren’t from Mr Leary’s cane. She said that she saw me coming from the Headmaster’s office the other day, to which I explained that I only stopped to see Ms Compton about something.

Then she said, “It must really hurt. I’ve never seen you running so far behind as you were today.”

I didn’t say anything to that.

Then she blurted out, “I know you got in trouble in the library garden for something you didn’t do. I know that you didn’t take that bottle.”

I quickly realized that there was only one way she would know so much about my troubles. Even if she saw me being escorted into the Headmaster’s study by Mrs Harriet Winthrop, she wouldn’t know why unless she was involved as one of the girls running away in the garden. She certainly knew more and I was going to try to find out for myself.

As I continued to quickly pull on clothes I asked her, “Where’s your friend that you hang out with? That Becky girl?”

She said that she was not really her friend and called her a bully. She added that Becky had to meet with a teacher because she was so far behind in class. She added that she was in big trouble as she already failed the course last term. I just kept getting dressed as we talked.

“So, tell me what do you know about the bottle?”

She replied, “I’m sorry that you got in trouble. I didn’t want that to happen, but I was told to keep my mouth shut. Besides, I really don’t want to get in trouble. I’m sure it would mean getting the rod.”

I told her that not telling the truth would be worse. I said, “Believe me, it will eat at your conscious down the road.” I could’ve easily told her my own story but I didn’t.

Abigail admitted that she was very afraid of Mr Leary and the cane. I had guessed correctly that Becky was behind it all and had bullied her into taking part in stealing the bottle of wine. I took her hands and told her that it was best to come forward and tell the whole story to Mr Leary. I said that he was very fair.

She remained silent for a moment and then asked to see my bottom again.

I begged her to promise not to say anything to anybody as I didn’t want rumors going around. I could just imagine all of the questions, and it might lead back as to why I was caned and by who. I couldn’t just say that I was caned at home.

I was hoping there weren’t any others hanging out in the lockers, so I insisted that she had a quick look. I turned and lifted my school skirt to offer a view of my full upper right thigh and panty-covered cheek. Those lower strokes that wrapped around the side of my thighs were still bruised. I pulled my panties aside so that she would see there wasn’t anything else to see. I thought to myself that it’s good that she didn’t see me earlier in the week.

I avoided answering her questions about my punishment and kept telling her to go talk to Mr Leary. I repeated that he would be fair with her if she didn’t put off confessing her involvement any longer. I said, “Waiting will only make it worse.”

After I finished getting my shoes on, we walked out of the lockers together. We sat together for a while and I learned that Becky Decker was involved with many more things that she shouldn’t be. I kept thinking of how I could be a help as a student here. I felt part counselor and part undercover investigator. I didn’t want to be labeled as a snitch telling things to Mr Leary, so I encouraged her to come forward on her own. I decided I wasn’t going to say anything for now and give her the opportunity to do so on her own. I was really hoping she would for my own sake as I was afraid that Leary might give up looking for those responsible and just pin it on me for circumstantial evidence.

I learned from her that after they tossed the bottle, they split up and sat in plain sight, still in the garden. I thought that it’s no wonder nobody saw two girls running together.

TROUBLE AFTER A NIGHT OUT 

When I got back to my apartment, I started cleaning and doing laundry, but eventually decided that I needed a break after looking at a pile of homework. After a few stressful weeks, I was ready to let loose and go out for a few drinks with friends. After all, I never did take the opportunity to really celebrate my appointment to Winthrop’s foundation. I had already turned down my friends a few times recently, but I felt that tonight I deserved a night out on the town.

I met up with friends at a favorite hangout. It was obvious they had been there a while before I arrived and were already having a good time. It wasn’t long before I myself found the drinks going down easy. I was in a perfect mood to celebrate. Some guys had joined us and kept the drinks coming our way, which made things worse. When they bought shots of liquor for us girls, I drew the line and refused to drink mine.

My friend, Cassie, on the other hand, slammed hers down and eventually took mine that was sitting there and tipped that one right back as well. All in all, we were having a pretty good time. I thought it was time to get out of there when I watched some guy that Cassie had just met sit down next to her with his hand resting on her bare leg without her stopping him. We left early before things went bad and we shared a taxi ride home.

I woke late Saturday morning to the sound of my phone rattling away on the nightstand. A little dazed, confused and with a bit of a headache, I thought it was my alarm at first. I finally fumbled with my phone, trying to answer it. As I was getting my bearings and before I could find my words, a voice said, “Ms Mitchell? Are you there?”

“Um, yes, yes this is she,” I said. “Who’s this?”

“This is Mrs Winthrop. Are you alright?”

“Oh, hello. Ahem, um, yes, I’m fine. Mrs Winthrop, wha-what can I do for you?”

She answered with, “I have been calling you all morning, are you alright?”

“I’m fine,” I said. “I’ve been running the vacuum and the phone was in the other room.”

In a panicked state, I checked the time as we were talking and it was nearly 11.00 am.

“Well, I need to meet with you right away. I’m sending Ian with the car to pick you up.”

I said, “W-Well, I-I’m a bit of a mess right now. I’ve been cleaning and all. Can we meet some other time?”

“I’ll give you twenty minutes. Get yourself tidied up and be ready, I’m sending Ian now,” she said sternly, and hung up.

I looked at the phone for a bit, then set it down. I ran to the bathroom to splash cold water on my face as I tried to wake up. I looked in the mirror, popped some aspirin and asked myself, ‘Did she just call?’ I looked at the time again, telling myself to get going. It would be a mad dash getting cleaned up, in and out of the shower and getting dressed.

With my hair still wet and my heart pounding, I stood for a moment in my bedroom wondering what I should wear. As I looked through my closet, I had a flashback of my last meeting with her when I was required to wear my uniform for a Saturday detention.

Without a clue what this last-minute meeting was for, I decided to go casual and wear a light summer dress. As I was drying my hair, I looked out the window and saw Ian standing by the car waiting for me. I decided that I’d leave my damp hair down to let it dry. I hoped he hadn’t been waiting long as I strapped on a pair of sandals and headed out the door.

I was still a little out of it for the short ride, still wondering what this was about as I brushed my hair along the way. Before I knew it, I was hurrying up the steps and into the Winthrop estate, half out of breath. The head housekeeper greeted me at the door and took me to Mrs Winthrop who was waiting in her study. I found her sitting reading a book in one of the chairs positioned around a fireplace that was off to one side of her room. As I approached, she set her book down and complemented me, saying that I looked very pretty. She added that she was used to seeing me in my uniform, which made me wonder if I should be wearing it now. I was told to take a seat in a leather chair adjacent to her and she poured tea for the both of us.

After discussing the warm weather spell and a few other pleasant exchanges, she got right to the point of why she had summoned me to see her. She told me that she had received a distressing call earlier this morning from a close friend of hers. She said that her friend, Helena, told her that after attending a theater play last night, she spotted one of ‘my’ students from the Academy leaving a nearby pub where the young crowd hangs out. She said that the girl appeared to be a bit tipsy.

I asked, “Why are you telling me this?”

She said, “I’m glad you asked.” Then she went on, “I thought it was little odd how she would know that it was a Wellington student when she said that the girl was smart enough not to be found in uniform. I figured that she must know the girl so I questioned her hoping for a name. Do you know what she told me?”

Remaining silent, I only shook my head ‘no’ and looked into my cup.

“Well, after saying that she didn’t have the name, she said that she clearly saw her face in the bright streetlights last night and recognized her.” She paused, taking a sip from her cup. She continued with, “When I asked if she could identify the girl if she saw her again, I was shocked when she said that I knew the girl well as it was the same girl that I had serve her Saturday detention right here for her, umm, let me see if I can recall her exact words that she used; ‘her absolutely disrespectful attitude towards me at the Academy’s library garden’, which she also had witnessed.”

I bit my lower lip and remained silent for a moment, not knowing what to say. When I did start to respond, she stopped me from making the foolish mistake of denying anything, including denying that I was drunk, by going into a long lecture about student drinking and being caught out in public, and so on.

After her little lecture, I tried to make the point that I am old enough to go out and that I shouldn’t be held to the Academy’s rules around the clock. She immediately jumped in and said that I should realize there are people that only know me as a student and I should be careful of my actions at all times while enrolled, so as to not give a black eye to the Academy.

After another pause, she added, “Or face the consequences, Ms Mitchell!” She let her words sink in while she continued giving me a stern look.

I said, “Yes, Ma’am. I understand what you are saying.”

The mood in the room had become quite chilly and I started to fear those consequences she referred to after my night out on the town. I set my cup down and said, “So what happens now? Are you going to report me to Mr Leary or something?”

She sat back and said, “I don’t plan to. I do want to bring up something else. You probably already know that I have been in contact with your mother.”

I said, “Yes, I call her quite often. We talk every weekend and sometimes during the week. She told me that you two had been talking.”

She continued by telling me how they’ve become friends across the miles, talking about each other’s lives, fund raising activities and getting to know one another. “She sounds to be a wonderful lady and a very loving mother.”

I was waiting for it and I wasn’t disappointed when she said that they had been talking about me quite a bit. She went on and said that my mother was hoping to travel sometime next year, but wished that she could see me sooner. Mrs Winthrop paused while taking another sip of tea and then said that she had been thinking. Since there is a long holiday weekend coming up, why not grant your mother her wish and send her daughter home to visit her. She immediately produced tickets for round trip air fare and added that she had made all of the arrangements, including getting extra time off from work for me.

I was very surprised and told her that she shouldn’t have done that, but thanked her for her generosity. After she insisted that I accept the tickets, I told her how excited I was about the trip and the opportunity to see my family. I admitted that I was getting a little home sick.

After a few more minutes of talking about the details, she said, “I thought the timing was perfect as your mother mentioned to me that she has a few things to discuss with you upon your return. I’m so pleased I could help out with this.”

I got the point of what she was referring to. From the way she was talking, I was sure my mother didn’t hold back any secrets about me. Thoughts quickly flashed through my mind about my struggles with the series of events that led to my troubles since returning to London to start my career.

I said to her, “I have to admit that things haven’t been off to the smooth start that I had wished for here.”

I continued to think of the foolish things that I allowed to get the best of me, like falling for Mr Garrett’s little game that led me to seek out a caning from Mr Leary to save my job. Also, how I blew up with my disrespectful attitude toward Mrs Winthrop after being accused of something that I didn’t do. That was inexcusable on my part. Then I remembered about the letter that was sent home from the Headmaster’s office for that incident. I’m pretty sure Mom was still upset over that. I remembered my pleading in vain with Mrs Winthrop to intercede on my behalf to stop that letter from being sent.

With a sullen voice, I agreed with Mrs Winthrop saying, “Yes, you’re right. I’m sure there will be some discussions with Mom when I get home.” I mentioned the Headmaster’s letter as being one point for discussion.

I said, “I imagine my mother told you about the agreement I have with her and the reasons behind it.”

Mrs Winthrop nodded her head and reached for her cup of tea again. I went on and spoke about the long talk that I had with my mother. I filled her in on all of the details of never needing to be punished growing up like my brothers did, until I told my mother all about that stupid magazine.

I told her, “I still remember sitting in her arms with a sore backside as we talked. I agreed with my mother and told her that she is still in charge of my upbringing and to hold me to the values that I was brought up on.”

Mrs Winthrop said that she had talked with my Mom, but appreciated hearing it from me.

My thoughts turned back to why I was called here this morning and wondered what Mrs Winthrop was ultimately planning to do about it.

I asked her again, “So what about last night? I mean, you must have something in mind like reporting me to Mr Leary?”

“Mr Leary? Oh yes, that reminds me.” She went on and told me that she got a call from him last night saying that a girl has come forward and admitted to taking that bottle of wine. She said, “From my understanding, I guess you deserve credit for talking to the girl.”

That news was a bit of relief to me. I said, “I’m glad to hear that. After my last conversation with Mr Leary, I was afraid that if he didn’t resolve that issue soon, I would end up getting the blame.” I pressed again for an answer. “So, about last night?”

Mrs Winthrop answered, “As for last night, please be careful in the future and let’s consider our little talk as a warning.”

I sat there thinking. I know I should feel lucky that the only thing that happened after last night was a talking-to, but I wasn’t completely proud of myself either, with the exception of getting my girlfriend home safely. I expected something more as I sat there, especially after the urgent call for this meeting.

I said, “So what will you tell your friend that called you? I’m sure she probably doesn’t think much of me. She’ll might ask what happened.”

Mrs Winthrop said, “Oh, I’m sure my dear friend, Helena Barlow, certainly will call and ask. She’s very good at keeping her nose in things, even if it is no concern of hers. I’ll probably just say that things were taken care of.”

I sat there feeling disappointed in myself as I had intended on a long night out partying. The only good thing was that I was smart enough to see how bad off my girlfriend was and got her out of there and avoided getting myself into the same condition. I was tipsy enough as it was, and can only imagine what shape I would have been in if I stayed out as I planned.

I asked Mrs Winthrop if she thought her friend was going to be satisfied with what she was planning on telling her. She indicated that she would be pressed further by Helena to learn the details of what happened. She added, “Like I said, she likes to keep her nose in it, and will want to know that her complaint was taken seriously.”

That little voice in my head spoke out loud this time and said, “We had better take care of things then. No sense in lying to her about taking care of things.” I stood right up and asked, “Are they still in your desk drawer, Ma’am?”

Mrs Winthrop looked up at me with a bit of a puzzled look and finally realized what I was referring to. She said, “Ah, umm, yes. Yes, they are, in fact. You can find them in the lower right-hand drawer, Miss Mitchell.” Her demeanor suddenly changed after that. “Bring me the long thin one and get back over here, girl!”

“Yes, Ma’am!”

I walked quickly to her desk and opened the drawer, revealing her three straps. It was like opening a freezer door on a hot summer day. I could feel a chill wash over me as I stared at them all for a moment. The thick leather strap that she wanted was a little more than an inch wide and about twenty inches long. She had used the shorter one that was slightly longer than the length of a ruler on the backs of my calves during my Saturday detention. I remembered how it stung so!

I pushed those two straps aside and ran my fingers across the smooth wide surface of her Matron’s strap. My bottom clenched as I imagined her using that heavy strap on me.

I heard, “Stop dawdling!” from Mrs Winthrop and I quickly grabbed the one she wanted and lifted it up, saying, “This one, Ma’am?”

She said, “Yes! Get Over Here! You know underage drinking is not allowed.”

I was going to protest about being underage and said, “But Ma’am, I’m…”

Mrs Winthrop interrupted, “Do you have something to say, Ms Mitchell?”

I froze at hearing the tone of her voice and came to my senses to say, “Um, no, Ma’am.”

She commanded, “Now, the strap! BRING IT!”

“Y-yes, Ma’am!” A knot was forming in my gut.

I left the drawer open and quickly made it over to her where she had been seated, and handed it to her stretching it out between both hands. She took it and set it down on a side table to her left, then turned and looked toward me, eyeing me up and down.

“Hands at your side,” she ordered. She looked at my dress and said, “That looks very pretty on you. Rather short, don’t you think? The hem is short of your fingertips!”

She was right. With my arms at my side, I could easily touch the bare skin of my thighs. The skater style dress was in fashion, but it surely wouldn’t pass the high standards of the Academy. If I showed up for class with my uniform skirt this short, I would be issued a detention and sent straight to the Headmaster’s office.

Mrs Winthrop said, “Grab the hem of that outfit and pull it right up, Miss. Come on.”

I pulled my dress up as told to reveal a pair of light rose-colored panties with white lace trim. I also wore a matching bra that I thought went well with my dress.

Mrs Winthrop said, “Rather skimpy material! Barely covers your privates.” She told me to turn around and said, “Your cheeks are hanging out too.”

She reached out and pulled me back by my hips. “I see you still have evidence of your meeting with Charles. Oh yes, he told me all about it.”

I could feel her poking at the last of my fading bruises.

She said, “I’ll have you pinker than those pretty panties! Over to your chair,” she commanded as she stood and guided me into position. “Both hands on the armrest. Step back a little,” she ordered. “Feet wider. That’s right! Take note of your position and stay there unless you want extras.”

“Y-yes, Ma’am!,” I answered as I felt her adjust my dress up and out of her way so that she could get to work with her strap.

I could see her feet from my position and I knew that she had returned with her strap in hand and was taking up a stance to begin. Without any word, she applied a couple quick slaps to the middle of my bottom which made me jerk about and take in a quick panicked gulp of air. I moaned softly as I felt her place a hand on my lower back to push me back down and into position. She started applying the strap with a slower pace, mostly hitting across the middle. After four stinging blows, still without a word, she stopped and walked up to my left side and gently brushed back the hair off of my face. It was hanging down as I hadn’t done much with it in my haste to get ready and run out the door to meet Ian and the waiting limousine. I didn’t mind my hair hiding my shameful face and the tiny tears starting to leak from my eyes.

Mrs Winthrop laid her strap across my lower back then leaned in and said, “I think that Lady Helena would very much appreciate your cooperation and willingness with this. I’m rather sorry now that I didn’t think to have her over for this meeting.” Mrs Winthrop walked behind me to examine her work and poked my sore bottom a little. “I realize you wouldn’t know her by hearing her name, but I’m pretty sure if you think back to your detention when you stood in front of my guests out on the veranda, you would remember her if I told you that she’s the one that yelled out about you needing a good mouth soaping.”

I blinked my watery eyes as I easily remembered that lady very well. Those exact words made her stand out from the others. Mrs Winthrop just stood by my side letting the thoughts build in my head.

Mrs Winthrop stepped in closer and fashioned my hair back into a ponytail then grabbed hold of the handful of hair firmly pulling back on it. She then picked up her leather strap again and gave me about three more quick swats right into my lower bottom where it will be felt while sitting.

She said, “That will do for now. Go ahead and put yourself together,” as she gave me a quick, almost playful swat to my bottom.

As I stood and smoothed out my dress, Mrs Winthrop said, “You can count on meeting Lady Helena after your return from your visit home. I think she would enjoy meeting with you. Please sit. Let’s have another cup of tea and talk about your trip, shall we?”

I blotted my eyes with a napkin and we had a nice talk about several topics including my Mom and home, my work and the things happening at the Academy. All the while the strap that just warmed my backside sat nearby on the side table. Mrs Winthrop went on and talked about different projects planned for the institution. I was excited to tell her about Mr Wright’s class and how I talked to him about making changes in the way he teaches. Mrs Winthrop said that I shouldn’t get my hopes up and expect a seasoned instructor to change his ways. At the end of our talk, I gave her a hug and thanked her again for everything before leaving. My thoughts quickly turned to my trip home and I forgot all about what just happened to my backside.

I was so excited about the trip home even if it was only for a few days. I called my Mom the first chance I could to talk about the trip. Mrs Winthrop had already informed her about everything except for the final flight itinerary. Both of us were excited and looking forward to seeing each other again as we had become close once again after my years away for my University studies. She let me know that Dad would be away on another long business trip, so it was going to be just the two of us. She was already making plans for a shopping trip and a spa treatment for us. She also told me about a new restaurant that had just opened.

At the end of our phone conversation she said, “Make sure that you pack your Academy uniform so that we don’t have to borrow your cousin’s again.” I immediately knew that we would definitely be discussing a certain letter that was sent home and, to be honest, I knew that I deserved whatever was waiting for me. The short week ahead flew right by and before I knew it, I was happily boarding a plane for my trip back home.

The End

©  Mary Desmond 2020