A girl prefers dance to hockey and pays the price.
By Jane Fairweather
It was Games Afternoon, and it was December, and it was freezing, so Lucy Smith had taken herself off to the Library again. Here for several weeks she had discovered nobody seemed inclined to ask why she was doing her homework when she should have been cavorting about on the hockey pitch in thin white games blouse and skimpy navy blue gym knickers. Lucy felt it was fair enough anyway, for if she got her homework done then she could do some extra ballet in the evening. And ballet was much more interesting than the mayhem of games afternoon hockey. She always avoided the hockey ball in case it damaged her ankles for dancing anyway. Why did hockey have to be compulsory? She never understood that. If they could have done dancing instead she would not have minded at all.
So she had been sat there for no more than five minutes, tucked unobtrusively into the corner by a radiator, beginning to work her way through her algebra. Miss Meredith, the School Librarian, had grinned at her and said (as she had done for a couple of weeks now) she expected that Lucy had a note to excuse her from Games, but had not asked to see it. Lucy, who did not like to lie, had just grinned back. Miss Meredith seemed to understand the situation perfectly and Lucy wondered if perhaps she had done something similar when she was a girl. She felt as long as Miss Meredith was on her side she was very unlikely to be caught, and anyway she doubted if Miss Tasker, the Games Mistress, was in the slightest bit interested in whether she was present or not. Miss Tasker’s faith in her athletic abilities was, she knew from various screamed reprimands in the course of her PE lessons, rather less than zero. Miss Tasker neither knew nor cared that Lucy Smith was doing well with her ballet grades and she undoubtedly thought that Lucy was soft.
Lucy realized that an adult had come into the Library. She did not like to look up, so stayed leaning over her books, praying she would go unnoticed. She realized Miss Tasker was talking to Miss Meredith.
“Yes, she has been here for several weeks on Wednesday afternoons,” Miss Meredith was saying. “I rather assumed she had permission. Hasn’t she?”
“No, she does not! I’ve checked.” Said Miss Tasker ferociously in her deep voice. “Really Miss Meredith, you ought to check more carefully. This isn’t the first time I’ve found one of my pupils skulking here.”
“Really Miss Tasker, it is a little cold for Hockey and the girl has been working. I’ve been watching her. If she hadn’t I might have said something. Don’t be too hard on her.”
“Too hard on her! Too hard on her, Miss Meredith! If I let this go half the other girls will follow suit sooner or later and then where would we be? No! She is going to play hockey, and then she is going to be punished. If she plays hockey somewhat better than she normally does she may just get off with lines.”
“I should just give her lines,” said Miss Meredith. “She is normally such a sensible well behaved girl. Give her the benefit of the doubt!”
“We will see. Lucy Smith, I am sure you heard all that. Come with me.”
Lucy rose reluctantly to her feet. The threat of a slippering was all too clear. Her Mother had spanked her on a couple of occasions at home, though not for several years and not that hard, but this was going to be a lot worse. She knew that girls who had the slipper from Miss Tasker usually cried for quite a long time after, and while she had never seen a slippering she had heard them, for they were always carried out while the victim’s classmates were showering and changing. Most girls yelled. She wondered if she was tough enough not to cry out. Anyway she was quite sure that she could not play hockey well enough to satisfy Miss Tasker, so in give or take an hour’s time she was going to be clutching the bottom rung of the wall ladders in the gym with her gym knickers tight across her bottom and her classmates listening for her yells in the changing room.
They arrived at the gym. A horrible thought struck Lucy.
“Please, Miss Tasker, I think I have forgotten my gym kit.”
She genuinely had not meant to. She had meant to pack it as a precaution in case her retreat to the Library was discovered.
“That sounds quite deliberate to me!” growled Miss Tasker. “Very well, we will find you some kit, and after games you will have a double dose of the slipper for forgetting your kit and for deliberately avoiding games.”
That meant six whacks with the slipper! Lucy shivered. Miss Tasker strode into her room and produced a white games blouse that was encrusted in mud and a pair of navy blue gym knickers, which Lucy saw at a glance were going to be very tight on her. She was rather self conscious about her bottom, which she felt was not fat (because of her dancing) but was on the larger side.
“Go into the changing room and put those on. You have one minute and I am going to time you. If you take a second longer I will send you to the headmistress for the cane. You have behaved disgracefully and I do not think a caning would be in any way too much for what you have done! They say Miss Russell is rather efficient in such matters. Perhaps I should send you anyway!”
Miss Tasker’s threat of the cane ought to have terrified Lucy. She knew it was a very severe punishment, but what she said next was spoken in pure anger and without regard to the consequences.
“I don’t see why I should do hockey when I could be doing dancing. You’ve no right to make me do hockey on a day like today. I am not going to change! Send me to Miss Russell if you want. I can take it!”
“Is that your last word?” Said Miss Tasker very ominously.
Lucy very nearly backed down, but her pride was involved, so she said very emphatically: “Yes, I mean it!”
“Very well!” Said Miss Tasker: “I will take you to the Headmistress myself. I would not wish her to hear less than the full story. I would not be at all surprised if she expels you, let alone gives you the cane.”
They set off towards the Headmistress’s office. Lucy was so furious with Miss Tasker that she quite ignored the freezing walk to the other side of the school, which she had to do because Miss Tasker seemed to take a pleasure in not going through the building. She could feel her petticoats brushing against her legs and she felt oddly excited that she was standing up to Miss Tasker, who nobody stood up to. She wondered if Miss Russell would be brave enough to stand up to Miss Tasker. If not, Lucy realized, she was probably out on her ear. She wondered if her Mother would mind. She tried to forget about the cane. They were finally outside the Headmistress’ office. Miss Tasker put her head round the school office door and asked if the Headmistress was free.
The School Secretary, a middle aged woman in a grey jacket and skirt, which Lucy thought less than elegant, said: “I am afraid she’s got Alison Roberts with her, Miss Tasker. She’s being done for smoking for the third time, and you know what that means. However, it doesn’t usually take very long. Just wait outside her door, I should. I doubt if she will be long.”
Lucy felt a surge of sympathy. You got four with the cane on your knickers for getting caught smoking for the third time, everybody in the school knew that (you got one on each hand for the second offence and a lecture the first time). All this never seemed to stop anyone smoking, so it always seemed a bit pointless to Lucy, who had chosen never to smoke because she wanted to be a dancer. Alison was very pretty and lived only a few houses from her. Lucy had concluded quite a long time before that she would like to know Alison. She thought her golden hair and her blue eyes were wonderful and she admired the smallness of her bottom even more, but she had never dared approach her. She was always shy like that.
Lucy was just thinking how brave Alison was because she could hear no yells, when there was a tremendous shriek of: “Please, don’t cane me! Please!” followed by a series of yells, that even by the standards of girls being slippered in the gym were decidedly on the loud side. Lucy was in a mood not to be frightened and found herself being excited by the thought of Alison’s school knickers stretched across her trim backside. You did not normally get a chance to see girls’ bottoms, unless they were doing games, and she had never seen Alison in gym kit.
The door opened. Alison staggered out, clutching her bottom and in floods of tears. Lucy thought this was going to be herself in a minute, but was also struck by how beautiful Alison was, even in this horrid situation.
“Is it urgent, Miss Tasker? I was hoping to get myself a cup of tea. I hate caning girls. I always feel as shaken after it as they must do.”
The Headmistress was sounding less than encouraging, but Miss Tasker persisted. It was an urgent matter of a serious breach of discipline and must be dealt with immediately. Miss Russell very reluctantly beckoned them in.
“Well Miss Tasker, just what is all this about? I hope this is not another matter that is going to require the cane. Two canings in one afternoon would be just a little bit much!”
The broad hint made no impact on Miss Tasker, who launched into a summary of Lucy’s misdeeds: The calculated and wilful disobedience of vanishing to the Library for several weeks running, the deliberate forgetting of the games kit and the insolence of refusing to participate in hockey, even when given fresh kit. It was clearly a matter requiring the severest discipline!
As it unfolded Lucy thought she had not a chance. She was either going to be severely caned, or expelled. There was no way out of it. She should have taken the slippering. She waited for Miss Russell to explode into adult wrath in the way her Mother occasionally did.
Miss Russell however, when Miss Tasker had finished, paused very deliberately, seemed to think for a minute and then asked: “Lucy Smith, just why are you so against hockey? A lot of girls love it. I played it myself till a few years ago. I don’t mind cold days. You warm up quite quickly. Come on, tell me the truth. I want to hear it.”
Lucy heard Miss Tasker snort at this point. This made her think Miss Tasker was not quite sure of victory and encouraged her just a little.
“I hate hockey, I hate getting all muddy and cold and I always worry about my ankles if the ball hits them.” Lucy said, surprising herself by her own fierceness.
“Why are you worried about your ankles?”
“Because I am a dancer.”
“Are you any good at being a dancer?”
“I am doing well with my grades.”
“I like girls who do enterprising things outside school and I am impressed that you have the courage to tell me the truth in a difficult situation. Most girls would not! Still I can see how trying this must be for Miss Tasker and how concerned she must be in case all the other girls copy you. And moreover school rules are meant to be kept for everyone’s benefit. If they are not kept, anarchy would result. I am quite happy for you to apologise and if you do I will wipe your slate clean and we will forget about this whole ridiculous business. However, if you do not apologise there will be serious consequences.”
Lucy gulped. What were serious consequences? Six of the best, expulsion, what? Perhaps she should apologise; but then once again she heard Miss Tasker snort, and in an odd way it decided Lucy.
“I know you are being kind to me Miss Russell, but I don’t want to apologise. I would rather be punished.”
“Well, that is your choice, though I think you are being decidedly silly. Miss Tasker perhaps you would be kind enough to go back to your hockey players. I will deal with her, you may be sure of that. However, I think perhaps we should have some words later about a dancing class for girls who don’t like hockey. I could just about afford a teacher if you or Miss Jeukes don’t want to do it. Eleven o’clock tomorrow shall we say? I know I am free then.”
Lucy could have hugged Miss Russell!
“Headmistress, I really think this is not at all the right way to deal with this! And…”
“Miss Tasker, I have said that I wish to see you at eleven o’clock tomorrow and discuss it then. Now would you leave me, please? I have a caning to carry out, which is not a pleasant duty.”
“Of course Headmistress!”
Miss Tasker vanished through the door, looking slightly happier at the thought that Lucy was about to be soundly punished. The door shut. Lucy and Miss Russell faced one another in silence over the desk for several moments. Lucy realized Miss Russell at first found it very hard not to laugh, but then went rather serious.
“Lucy Smith, I can’t let you get away with this, as I am sure you realize. You are guilty of deceitfulness and defiance and I am going to cane you for it. It is a punishment I very rarely use, but I think it might be effective in the present very odd instance. I don’t want anybody to be able to say that you got away with your rebellion.”
Lucy felt oddly calm. At least she was not going to have to apologise! And nobody in future could say she was soft. Miss Russell reached into her desk and produced a well oiled brown cane with a crook handle, which she proceeded to swish about in the air. Lucy realized this was supposed to frighten her, but she found it rather intriguing.
“Hold out your right hand.”
Lucy complied and shut her eyes. She felt incredibly over excited and a picture of Alison flashed before her. The cane descended. There was a moment of agonising pain. She gave a heartfelt shriek.
“Hold out your left hand.”
The process was repeated and if anything hurt even more. Again these odd images of Alison.
There did not seem much else to do, so she bent.
“Right down to your toes.”
She felt Miss Russell lift up the hem of her gym slip and lay it on her back and then pull up her petticoats. She was just expecting the impact of the cane on her bottom and there were two vicious strokes into the back of her thighs, just above her knees and her tears turned to a flood. She collapsed on the floor clutching her thighs.
“Now get off home. There is little point in going back to your class. I shall be writing to your Mother. However, as I said, I shall also be giving serious consideration to a dance class in games period. It might be a worthwhile innovation and I thank you for the idea.”
Lucy staggered to her feet, muttered her thanks as well as she could through her tears, picked up her school satchel and departed, wondering whether Mother would think it was worth a spanking or not.
She walked into the loo. Cold water might stop just stop the pain, or maybe the cold cream she always used on her lips in winter. Alison was standing there, looking very ridiculous, trying to splash cold water from the basin onto her buttocks, with her knickers down at the back but decently up at the front. Mercifully no one else was there.
“Cream would be better than that!” said Lucy. She put her satchel down, wiped off the water with some tissue, got out the cream and began to smear it over Alison’s very swollen bottom. Alison was literally shaking, she noticed.
“Did you get the cane too?” asked Alison, when she had calmed down a little.
“Yes, but not as badly as you.”
“Well let put me some cream on you then.”
“If there is any left!”
It was the beginning of a long friendship.
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