The headmaster knows some of his prefects have been smoking, but not which ones to punish. His head girl assists him.

By Joanna Jones

Sixth in a series of stories where painful experiences, coupled with potentially worse sanctions in the future, lead to girls getting the impetus to give up tobacco.

*     *     *

Danielle Roche knocked on the headmaster’s door. It was not the nervous tap that most of her colleagues would have used, but the firm knock of a student who’d visited the office many times before, in her capacity as Head Girl. The fact that she did not know the reason for the call was a little unusual, though not the first time.

Opening the door as soon as she was invited to, she strode over to the desk. The first inkling that something might be wrong was when she was not immediately invited to bring over a chair and sit down.

Mr Warwick let her stand for a few moments before starting.

“I have just had Ms Watt in,” he declared. “While everyone was at assembly this morning a couple of the support staff went to clean the Prefects’ Common Room. Apparently the smell of smoke was awful.”

Danny, as she was nicknamed, cursed inwardly. While she did not smoke herself, there were quite a few who did. They were supposed to keep it outside so those prefects who did not could turn a blind eye with a clear conscience, but most, if not all, had worked out the prefects’ room, effectively off-limits to teachers, was safer and nobody was going to snitch on a colleague. They were supposed to keep the window open, or at the very least open it at the end.

Danny schooled her face to be impassive and decided not to take the headmaster’s bait by responding to his declaration.

Thus after a pregnant pause Mr Warwick continued. “Apparently they have had a suspicion before but this time it was unmistakable. The question is, who is disobeying school rules so flagrantly, and amongst those who are supposed to be setting an example?”

Danny’s mouth went dry as she wondered whether the Head seriously expected her to dump her friends in it.

“I don’t believe you don’t know about this, or who the culprits are, Danielle.” He stated.

She bit her lip nervously, unable to think of a good answer.

The Head continued after another pause. “Very well, I want you to bring the smokers or if, heavens forbid, there are many of them, then some suitable representatives to my office at eight this evening. I will deal with this then.”

Finally Danny replied: “Yes sir, I will do as you say,” and, assuming herself to be dismissed, turned to walk back to the door.

However, the Headmaster called her again. “And Danielle, it would be best if you all wear just your sports shorts under your skirts, understood?”

“Yes, sir,” she replied, before her face registered with shock the implications of what he had just said.

“Do you mean to punish me as well?” She exclaimed. “I promise you I have never smoked in my life.”

The Head stared firmly at her for some seconds before responding. “I believe you, Danielle, but you did, by accepting the appointment, agree to enforce the school rules fairly. You and your non-smoking colleagues have, by your own admission here, not done that as regards these prefect smokers. As leader, you must take responsibility.”

He said it so flatly that Danielle knew there was no point to argue, unless she wanted to resign, which certainly was not an option. “I understand, sir, can I ask, well, how…?”

“Six of the best for each of you,” replied the Head, anticipating the question and looking at the horrified face now in front of him. After a brief pause he looked down at the report on his desk, leaving Danielle to make her way out of his office, still in a shocked daze.

She had not been caned since second form; two strokes across her pyjamas from the housemistress for being caught with two other girls fooling in a corridor after lights out. It had been painful, but the few girls in her year who had seen Mr Warwick indicated his punishments were incomparably worse, something she also knew from witnessing him in action for herself.

It was still morning but Danielle was on a free period so, rather than returning to the common room, she returned to her study bedroom to calm down.

Gradually her shock was replaced with a mixture of anger and trepidation. The trepidation was easy to understand. The anger was more complicated; a mixture of annoyance with herself for not being more firm and that with her colleagues who smoked, putting her in this position.

As she calmed down further, she started to consider who should be joining her that evening. There were eight she had seen smoking in the room at one time or another, though two of those had only done it once or twice. Briefly she wondered about dragging the lot of them with her and then dismissed it. If she had read the Head right, he was after making an example. She was being made an example of, and two or three smokers were apparently needed too.

But, who to choose? None of the girls concerned were likely to be delighted at the prospect, after all. The solution came to her in a flash. They could jolly well decide themselves, and if they could not they could indeed all come with her this evening!

Making a list, she returned to the common room and posted it on the wall. It indicated she wanted to meet the eight girls in the privacy of the empty classroom they could use for meetings during intervals at afternoon break.

There was immediate discussion about what it was about in the prefect room, and most of the girls very quickly came to the conclusion that smoking must be the issue. However, Danielle refused point blank to say why she wanted the meeting with them.

While the other eight might have had some mild concern, Danielle, knowing what was in store that evening, had great difficulty concentrating on her lessons, and she was much shorter with the younger pupils during her lunchtime duty. Despite having a reputation for rarely sending a girl to detention, or housemistress, she sent four to the former and one girl for answering her back to her housemistress. She saw the girl at the end of the break cradling her clearly caned hand with red eyes and felt mildly guilty.

At quarter to three the bell went and she made her way to the empty room, where two of the girls were already waiting. Both immediately wanted to know what it was about, but Danielle said she would wait for the others.

Within a couple of minutes the eight girls were sitting around on desks for Danielle to tell than what was going on.

“Mr Warwick, asked for a meeting with me this morning,” she started. “Apparently the cleaners noticed the cigarette smell as they tidied the Prefects’ Common Room during assembly and reported it to the headmaster.”

Iris interrupted: “Someone must have forgotten to open the window,” she said accusingly to the assembled group.

Danielle noticed that Yvonne seemed to blush slightly and wondered if she was the guilty party. She was not the most frequent of the smokers but…

“Anyway, the Head wants a stop to it, so there is to be no more smoking. I will be telling the other girls that if anyone is seen smoking in there that they have an obligation to report it to the Head. If they tell me I will report the smoker for them. Is that clear?”

There were some serious looks, but no-one disagreed. Eventually Tracy said: “Is that it then, no more smoking in the common room?”

“I would suggest no more smoking anywhere, Trace. Mr Warwick has made it clear that prefects are responsible to report all instances to him, no matter who the smoker is, and also that prefects are supposed to be example-setters.”

The serious looks on the girls darkened further. Tracy looked very irritated, perhaps unsurprisingly as she probably smoked more than anyone else. Rather grumpily she said: “Hmmph! I don’t know why you did not just tell us that in the Prefects’ Room! Can we all go now?”

Danny’s irritation boiled as Tracy started to stand and turn for the door. “No you can’t go.” She stated angrily. “There is something else. Mr Warwick has asked me to escort the smokers or, if there are a lot of them, some suitable ‘representatives’ to his office this evening at eight o’clock. Sports shorts only under skirts.”

The eight of them knew as well as Danny did what the euphemism ‘sports shorts under skirts’ meant.

“What!” Exclaimed Abigail. “He’s going to cane us!?”

Danielle fixed her eyes on the girl. “Why so shocked, Abby? You know what the normal punishment for smoking is, after all.”

Danielle looked around the room at the eight very shocked faces. “Anyway, as I said, the Head indicated he just needed a few offenders. Rather than picking, I felt it would be better if you decide among yourselves who should accompany me this evening.”

Julie, the most timid girl, desperately suggested: “Danny, can’t you tell him that you don’t know who was smoking, but you will ensure it will stop. Then nobody needs to be caned.”

“Except probably Danny.” said Abigail grimly. “I am sure the Head would see right through that and would make her pay for it instead.”

“But then that is only one girl getting whacked,” said Tracy rather mischievously. “Rather than a few of us. I think it’s a great idea! How about it Danny? You should take one for the team; after all you are Head Girl.”

Danielle found her temper getting the best of her as she whipped round to glare at Tracy Samson. Trace always seemed to deliberately get under her skin, in part she suspected due to her disappointment that she had not got the Head Girl job herself.

Glaring daggers at Tracy she replied furiously. “I don’t smoke Tracy, and I don’t see why I should be whacked for your bad habit. However, as it happens, the Head has decided that I am already down to have to ‘take one for the team’ as you so eloquently put it, for not reporting you and your fellow smokers before, nor encouraging the other prefects to do so.” She took a breath before continuing her diatribe. “Now, since you seem so keen to see me getting my bottom whacked you can come with me and witness it for yourself, and I can see you get the same!”

Tracy’s jaw dropped open under the tirade but, before she could respond, Danny cast her eyes round the other girls, noting with satisfaction real fear in their faces as she did so. “As for the rest of you, I want two of you outside my study room at five to eight to join Tracy and me for the trip to Mr Warwick. If you can’t decide then I will see the lot of you there!”

With that, Danielle brusquely left the room slamming the door behind her.

Tracy was first to speak to the stunned silence that followed. “Shit!” She exclaimed and then rather emotionally went on: “Don’t tell me that I deserved that!”

None of the others dared comment in the brief pause before Tracy stood, saying: “I am going to my room, I need time to myself.” She made to leave but, as an afterthought, as she got to the door she continued: “Good luck choosing!” Before finally leaving the remaining seven to their decision.

None of the remaining girls wanted to speak; afraid that to do so might increase their chances of being manoeuvred into one of the two vacant slots in the punishment party.

Eventually Iris turned and looked straight at Yvonne. “Were you the one who smoked this morning?”

“Yes,” said Yvonne desperately. “But I needed to leave early. I did ask one of the other girls to open the window when I left as they were complaining it was too cold.”

“If you needed to leave early you shouldn’t have smoked at all, Yvonne. We all agreed it was enough they don’t split on us, didn’t we?” Replied Abigail remorselessly.

All six remaining girls fixed their eyes on her. She was clearly desperately trying to think of a way to get out of it. Finally though, she visibly slumped as she capitulated and exclaimed: “Alright, since it’s clear you all think this is at least partly my fault, I’ll go then!”

The remaining six looked a bit guilty at each other as Yvonne ran from the room with tears of frustration clearly beginning to form in her eyes.

Once again silence lapsed. Iris looked at her watch. “Only five minutes to the bell.” She stated. “Why don’t we draw lots or something?”

Lizzie spoke for the first time. “That does not seem fair on Julie and me! We hardly ever smoke, and surely those chosen should be the regulars.”

Abigail was not keen to let them off the hook. “But the choice is ours to make and you have smoked in there.” She said inflexibly.

Iris said: “Okay, how about we change the odds depending on how much we have smoked.”

Nobody immediately disagreed with the concept so she emptied her pencil case, pulled a slip of paper out and ripped it into six bits, writing the number 1, 2, 3, etc, up to 6 on each. Scrunching each number up, she pushed the bits of paper back into the case.

“I suggest that we each take a handicap to add to the number we draw, and the highest number has to go. Abby and Dot, you smoke almost every day so you get a four. I smoke about every other day or so, so I will take a three, Pat you smoke less so you get a two. Julie and Lizzie get a one as they hardly ever smoke. If people are equal score after the first round then they draw again and there is no handicap, highest goes! All agree?”

None of the five others looked happy, but it was a sufficiently good compromise that none of them actually objected. Instead, as Iris looked at them, they each shrugged or nodded, acquiescing to their fate lying with the gods of luck.

They each picked a piece of paper out of the case, but none looked at it until all six had chosen.

Lizzie smiled as she was first to open and saw a four. She knew she was safe: as at least one of the two with a four handicap must score an extra two.

Julie was next and looked horror stricken at the six, giving her a total of seven. Her fate was still in the hands of the gods!

Dot picked the one. She was clearly relieved to be safe, given that she was certainly one of the most frequent smokers in the school, let alone amongst just the prefects.

Pat was next and gazed sickly at a five. She was tied with Julie in the lead.

Iris picked out the two, leaving Abby to grimace wryly at the three, meaning she too was on seven.

As Iris scrunched the six pieces again, Julie desperately wanted to argue against this draw. She had smoked only twice in her life, after all, both times in the common room though. However, she knew that she had accepted it and would have to trust she did not pull the highest number twice in a row. Abby and Pat were both nervous, but more philosophical. Abby knew she was lucky that Danielle had not selected her outright, and Pat thought Iris had been generous in giving her only a two rather than the same as her. Both were relieved they had not yet “won”.

Iris offered the pencil case to Pat first. Biting her lip, she closed her eyes as she slipped her hand in to pull out a scrunched piece of paper. Rather than waiting, she opened it immediately to reveal a two. She was unable to hide her relief as Iris held the case in front of Abby.

Abby plunged in immediately, yanked the first piece that came to hand out and shrugged as the number four appeared.

Julie felt sick as the case was held in front of her. She was no mathematician, but she knew two numbers left were less than Abby’s and two were more. From being quite remote, her caning chances were now literally 50-50.

It took an age for her to pick, fingering each piece a multitude of times. Finally she nervously took one out and opened it. To her horror and disbelief the number ‘6’ faced her for the second time in a row.

She was numb as the others commiserated with her briefly before the bell went, bringing the interval to an end.

All four now condemned girls found the rest of the day, and the games session after lessons, an unpleasant blur. There were supportive pats and comments, especially to Julie, but that made little difference. They were all too wrapped up in their thoughts about the evening ahead. At the prefects’ table at dinner each sat very quietly, barely picking at the food in front of them.

The only thing of note was a brief conversation between Danielle and Tracy, just before prep. Danielle apologised for losing her temper. However, Tracy replied she had been unfair to her and, given the number she smoked, she would have had a good chance of being chosen anyway. Both girls felt Yvonne joining them was fair enough, but thought the final one should have been Abby or Dot. Certainly it seemed very tough on poor Julie, who was one of the very few not to have been caned by her housemistress, let alone the Head. However, there was nothing to be done about it now.

None of them did much in prep and then it was quarter to eight. Danielle went to her room, stripped off her knickers and slid on her sports shorts. Apart from the fact that they were a bit more fully cut, and were white, there was little difference between them and the regulation knickers (maroon) they usually wore under their uniform.

Danielle waited for the others, nervously reflecting how different this was to usual. The Head rarely caned girls, but there was a set procedure for those unfortunate enough to incur the sanction. After prep finished at quarter to eight, the victim had just time to change into her shorts and then needed to report to her as Head Girl. She had to inspect the by now usually quivering and occasionally already tearful miscreant to ensure the one layer of clothing rule was being adhered to, and then escort her to her doom, where she would have the unpleasant task of witnessing the caning.

It was now January and so far she’d done the job four times, with eight girls being whacked. Most of them had been ‘six of the best’, although the first former had been let off with four and a persistent troublemaker in fifth form had been awarded eight. Of the eight girls, only two had managed to rise without being in floods of tears. Thankfully all had managed to take their punishment without bring held. The prospect of actually holding a girl down if asked by Mr Warwick filled her with dread.

Not as much dread as actually being caned herself, of course. Her greatest fear was embarrassing herself as Head Girl, and in front of her colleagues. In addition to the stories from her friends over the years, she had seen enough in the past term or so to be under little illusion as to whether it really hurt or not, after all.

The three others arrived just before five to eight, and Danielle invited them in. None of them looked any happier than she felt. She noticed Julie was struggling already and holding Yvonne’s hand for moral support.

“Right,” she said. “You know I need to do the check, but since I am being done too, one of you can see to me first.”

With that she turned and lifted her skirt. When none of them moved, Danielle said: “Trace, will you do the honours and vouch to the Head that I have nothing underneath?”

Reluctantly Tracy stepped forward, pulled the fabric back and peeked inside. “Fine,” she said dully.

Dropping her skirt, Danielle told the three girls to face away and lift theirs to reveal their white shorts. Three perfunctory checks later, they were done.

Danielle took a deep breath. “All ready?” The other three did little more than nod dejectedly as Danny opened the door of her room.

Once again, Yvonne and Julie held hands as if to help strengthen their resolve as they walked along the corridors. Soon enough though they were outside the study and Danielle was knocking on the Head’s door

“Come!” Came the gruff call.

For two girls there was the shock of seeing the office with a single chair in the clear space before the desk. Angled at ninety degrees, it was clearly not for sitting in to have a pleasant chat with Mr Warwick. Then on the desk lay a cane. Both Tracy and Danielle recognised the layout, though only Danielle noted that the cane was, as she expected, the senior one. That said, it needed little imagination for the other two to know what was going to happen.

“So these are our smokers.” said Mr Warwick rather darkly. “Soon to become ex-smokers, I hope.”

The three girls stared at the floor.

Danielle spoke. “Err, there were a few more than three. As you requested, these are the ‘representatives’.”

“Very well, I hope that when you recount how unpleasant this is, the others also decide that it is time to avoid this vile habit! Please let them all know that in future prefects caught smoking anywhere, including out of uniform on exceat, will very quickly become ex-prefects, in addition of course to getting the same dose of this that you are all about to experience.”

He had picked up his cane as he spoke, and now flexed it lightly as he looked at the upper sixth form girls in front of him.

“You all are appropriately attired?” He asked.

“Yes, I have checked, and Tracy inspected me.” Replied Danielle blushing.

“Well, Miss Roche, I think we should start with you, since you have seen enough to know what to do.”

Danielle swallowed hard as she nodded and moved forward to the chair. Hitching her skirt up, she bent over it, gripping the front legs very close to floor level.

The three smokers gazed sickly at the sight of Danny’s white shorts fully stretched in front of them, before being waved back towards the wall, giving the Headmaster full scope to swing the three foot rod in his hand.

“Ready, Danielle?” Mr Warwick asked surprisingly sympathetically. Truth was, he genuinely did not like caning his pupils but he accepted that it had a place as an ‘ultimate sanction’. This was the first time though he’d decided to cane his Head Girl, but it was also the first time a Head Girl had let him down by not reporting a serious matter. Smoking in the school grounds was bad enough. Inside the school with the increased attendant risks, was a step too far.

Danny meanwhile was staring nervously at chair seat only a few inches from her nose. Taking a breath she replied as firmly as she could. “Yes Sir!” As she did so she wished her voice sounded less squeaky.

“Very well, hold still!” Danielle gripped harder. While Mr Warwick did not immediately add penalty strokes, he certainly would not let you off, and she had seen him give an extra on one occasion when really pushed by the girl who had come closest to the Head requesting she, as Head Girl, restrain her.

There was the single brief tap, and then the whistle as the cane scythed through the air, ending in a Crack!

‘Yeeouch!’ Thought Danielle, though she managed to emit only a gasp as the effect blossomed over her senses. She had determined to take this stoically, befitting her role in the school. One stroke showed her that it was going to be no easy task.

She knew Mr Warwick’s style and sure enough after a mental count of twelve there was a second humm leading to the second painful crack on her elasticated shorts.

This time, with more idea of what to expect she took it in silence. Something she also managed for the third and fourth strokes.

Mr Warwick put a bit more effort into the fifth and landed it low on the target.

Danny had to bite her lip as a desperate “Nnngh!” escaped her.

One to go, the hardest one, of course. She gripped the square chair legs so tightly it was mildly painful on her palms as her throbbing rear awaited its final instalment of pain. Then, with a louder humm, it came.

It took all her resolve not to cry out, but she had managed it, taken it without either screaming or crying.

However, that did not mean she was not gasping with the pain as she slowly stood to face the Head.

“Right, Danielle, you took that well. I assume you are able to perform your normal duties?”

“Yes, thank you Headmaster.” She replied through rather gritted teeth.

At that, she followed the headmaster’s eyes as he looked at the three girls standing close together, as if for mutual support, by the wall. While Tracy and Yvonne looked fearful, Julie looked utterly terrified.

Mr Warwick wisely decided it was best get her punishment over with. “Miss Paxton.” He called.

With a squeak Julie stepped forward, and copied Danielle’s movements of a few minutes before.

With a final order to “Hold tight!” the cane tapped the stretched fabric, was slowly raised back, and then whipped down on the target.

“O-o-oh!” wailed Julie as she felt the first cut, and found her eyes becoming wet. She was struggling already but tried to tell herself if Danny could take it so could she.

And take it she did, though only just. While she screamed and sobbed, she did manage not to stand, though it was a close run thing. As soon as the final sixth stroke was over she jumped up and gripped her poor bottom. Her mind could think of nothing but what had just happened. She knew it was supposed to be sore, but what she felt went way beyond that. Finally, with a little help from Danny, she stumbled, tear stained, with her skirt back down, to the wall, leaving the chair free for, as it happened, Tracy Redmond.

Tracy was the only one of the four to have experienced this ignominy before. She was certainly not looking forward to this second visit. However, she walked out firmly when called and placed her body in position with a minimum of fuss. Last time, four years ago, she’d bawled her way through the experience. This time she was determined to do better. Methodically the cane cracked down six times on her white clad posterior, eliciting progressively louder and more desperate grunts and gasps. However, only on the last, low and very hard, did she give a small wail as the pain finally got to her. Like Danielle she felt the relief of having survived, overriding a little of the agony that encapsulated her bottom.

Finally it was Yvonne’s turn. Having watched her three colleagues experience their whackings, she was now struggling to control her panic. Each time the force of the cane as it hit its target was shocking, and the shock had not lessened for her with time. Now it was her turn to find out what that shocking force actually felt like.

Slowly she approached the chair and lifted her skirt, before forcing her body down to grip the front legs.

The Head did not leave her waiting but cracked the rod sharply across the middle of her bottom.

Yvonne screamed in shock as the cane’s pain went through her for the first time. Only just did she manage to catch herself from standing up.

With a better idea what to expect, and a consciously tighter grip on the chair, she took the next two blows a bit better. However the fourth cut led to another scream and the tears started to flow from her eyes. She managed to hold the chair as the final two blows led to further wails of pain.

Finally it was over, the four girls were dismissed and all four headed to Danny’s dorm room at the mention of cold cream. After they had managed to gently massage some of the cream into each others’ bottoms, “admiring” Mr Warwick’s handiwork in the process, they all choose to return to their rooms rather than face an interrogation in the common room. All three who had smoked professed to have had their last cigarette, certainly on school grounds or in the local town they could visit on Saturday afternoons.

Indeed, to the Head’s satisfaction, the punishment had the desired effect. Never again did the common room have a suspiciously smoky atmosphere, and all of the prefects managed to give up. Whether it was the fear of the cane or the prospect of losing their hard won prefect status that was the greater deterrent, well who knows?

The End

© Joanna Jones 2013