A rather short story from the old website which is very close to a real-life story once told to me.
By Kenny Walters
‘Good Grief,’ thought Melanie. ‘If she doesn’t know who I am after seven years at this school, she never will.’
“Melanie?” Mrs Porter, the rather rotund deputy headmistress searched amongst the seven or eight sixth form girls occupying the large room allocated to the upper sixth as their common room.
“Miss!” Melanie called, nudging Sarah Hobson in the ribs as she started to snigger.
“Ah, Melanie. I’ve been thinking about that little spot of bother you got yourself into. You know, coming back ten minutes late from lunch.”
“When my watch stopped, you mean. Yes, miss.”
“That, as I have already told you, is no excuse. Especially since it was the second time this week.”
“Yes, miss.” Melanie answered with a sigh.
“Well, I’ve decided I don’t have sufficient powers to deal with you so you will need to report to Mr Burgess at four o’clock this afternoon where you will receive three strokes of the cane. Perhaps a little short, sharp shock will improve your time-keeping. Needless to say, it would not be a good idea to be late for that appointment!”
As Mrs Porter turned on her heels and left the room, Melanie looked shocked. “Three? The cane? For being late twice?”
“It’s about par for the course.” Sarah responded, unhelpfully in Melanie’s view.
“What did you expect? A good conduct medal?” Virginia Meakers added.
“Well not the bloody cane!” As her shock and anger subsided, so Melanie’s thoughts turned to the events that would unfold at four o’clock that afternoon. Being caned was going to be a whole new experience for her, and not one she relished at all. “What’s wrong with detention?”
“Mrs Porter doesn’t like putting sixth form girls in detention.” Sarah answered. “She feels they should be above that sort of thing.”
“And therefore I have to be caned?”
“It appears that way.” Sarah put a consoling hand on Melanie’s shoulder. “I’m afraid so.”
For the remainder of the afternoon, which she spent in private study in the library, Melanie worried, wondered and thought about her forthcoming Meeting with Mr Burgess. At ten minutes to four, she was joined by Sarah Hobson.
“Time’s getting on, old girl. What are you going to do?”
Melanie looked up, checked the clock and closed the books that were spread out on the large table in front of her.
“Do? You mean about my engagement with Mr Burgess?”
“Yes, unless there’s anything even more dramatic you haven’t yet told me about.”
“Oh Sarah, I’ve been thinking about it and, while it’s grossly unfair, perhaps it would be best to simply go along, get my three whacks and get it over with. What do you think?”
Sarah nodded thoughtfully. “I see the logic. If you protested then Mr Burgess would have to make enquiries, which would take him at least until tomorrow, and you could still end up getting exactly the same punishment.”
“Precisely. And I can’t deny being late twice this week, like Mrs Porter said.”
“True. So, perhaps best to get it over with and move on?”
“That’s what I’m thinking, yes.”
“Well, good luck anyway. And it’s getting close to four. You’d better get your skates on.”
“Can you look after my bags, please? I must dash.”
“Sure. Off you go.”
As Melanie hastened along the corridor she hurriedly brushed down her black skirt, smoothed her white blouse and straightened her tie. By the time she arrived at the headmaster’s door, it was her breathlessness that made her pause rather than any fault with her appearance.
“Come in.” The voice sounded inviting, to the point Melanie wondered whether Mr Burgess had confused her appointment with some other engagement.
The eighteen year old went in and quietly closed the door behind her, then stood contritely in front of the headmaster’s desk.
“This isn’t like you, Melanie.” The kindly grey haired headmaster spoke sympathetically.
“No, sir.” Melanie looked down at her feet.
“Is there any reason for your lateness, Melanie? Any good reason? Anything we can do to help?”
The temptation was there for Melanie to offer a plausible excuse, like her watch having suddenly stopped working. But that wouldn’t have been the truth.
“No, sir. Just carelessness on my part. Sorry, sir.”
“Mrs Porter feels you need a short sharp lesson. Three strokes of the cane, to be precise.”
“How do you feel about that?”
“I don’t know, sir. Perhaps she’s right. It was my own fault, my own stupidity.”
“Right. Well, in that case I suppose we’d better get it over with, hadn’t we?”
Mr Burgess got up and went across to a small walk-in cupboard that led off from his study. After unlocking the door and switching on a light inside, he soon emerged with a slender rattan cane. Melanie took a deep breath as she watched him approaching her with the implement.
“I’ll give you the choice, Melanie. You can take two on one hand and one on the other, or you can take all three across your backside.”
Melanie hesitated. If Sarah hadn’t been waiting for her with her bags, back in the library, she might have been tempted to accept the cane across her bottom. Explaining the lack of marks on her palms, though, would be just so embarrassing.
“I’ll take it on hands, please sir.”
“As you wish, Melanie. Be so good as to hold one hand out then.”
Melanie offered out her right hand and Mr Burgess positioned himself to one side of her and measured up the first stroke, which seemed to take an age for the girl who was bracing herself to receive the sharp pain across her small palm.
“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaahh!!” Melanie screamed as the cane suddenly slashed down. She shook her hand to try and stem the stinging pain and Mr Burgess patiently waited for her to regain sufficient composure and offer her hand out for the next stroke.
With much greater hesitation than before, Melanie held out her right palm for further punishment. After a couple of seconds pause to ensure the girl would maintain the position, the headmaster brought the cane down sharply onto Melanie’s hand.
“Uuuuuuuuuuunnnhhh!!” The second punishing stroke sent Melanie into a fresh round of hand wringing to try and mollify the pain. She was already seriously doubting the wisdom of choosing to be caned on her hands, no matter what embarrassment she might have experienced with Sarah.
“You have one more stroke to take, Melanie.” Mr Burgess reminded her. “This will need to be on your other hand.”
Melanie seemed almost too engrossed in her latest bout of hand wringing and writhing to hear the headmaster’s instruction, and Mr Burgess was again patient as he allowed the eighteen year old to recompose herself.
Unbeknown to Mr Burgess, Melanie was considering asking whether the final stroke could be applied to the seat of her black skirt while she bent over. It would mean asking, though, and there was no guarantee her request would be accepted. Then there would be the kerfuffle while different arrangements were made for her to assume the appropriate position. Perhaps a chair would have to be dragged out and positioned in the centre of the room, or maybe his desk would have to be cleared of paperwork leaving it clear for her to bend over. No, it would take too long.
Melanie warily extended her left hand, palm uppermost. From the corner of her eye she saw the cane being lined up, then raised slowly and deliberately. A blur rushed past her line of sight and then there was that awful searing pain that whipped across her small palm, and she was immersed in yet another hand wrenching agony.
It was little comfort when Mr Burgess turned away to return the cane to its place in his storeroom. Indeed, Melanie was so preoccupied with her suffering she barely noticed his absence, nor indeed his return until the headmaster placed a comforting arm around her shoulder.
“Painful, isn’t it?” When Melanie offered no response, Mr Burgess continued. “I’m sorry it came to that, Melanie, but Mrs Porter was quite insistent that was what was needed and I have to say she’s a pretty good judge. Personally, I’d have thought a dose of the slipper would have sufficed.”
“Yes, sir.” Melanie felt little comfort from knowing Mrs Porter’s remedy hadn’t met with universal approval, not that a slippering from the hearty deputy headmistress would have been any sort of picnic either. “May I go, sir?”
“Yes, of course.”
Keeping her hands sharply by her side, fingers still massaging against her stinging palms, Melanie reached the library and carefully opened the door a fraction. Cautiously peering around, she saw Sarah Hobson was mercifully on her own, seated at a table and quietly reading a book. Reassured, Melanie opened the door wider and entered, causing her friend to look up.
“You’re back then?”
“How did it go?”
“It was bloody painful, actually!”
“That’s the object of the exercise, so I hear. Shall we get going or do you want to do your homework while we’re here?”
“Let’s get going. My hands are so sore I don’t think I could hold a pen.”
“Your hands? Didn’t Mr Burgess give you the choice of bending over? It’s much better like that.”
“I… I was too embarrassed.”
“Why? I imagine our dear headmaster has whacked plenty of female bottoms in his time.”
“No, I wasn’t embarrassed about him. It was…. Oh, never mind.”
Footnote: Being caned across the palm of the hand is extremely painful. Although girls were caned far less frequently than boys, they did have the disadvantage of more likely being caned on the hand rather than the bottom. It may be one reason why many schools adopted the policy of ‘cane the boys and slipper the girls’.
© Kenny Walters 2010