A new teacher tries to fit in

By Jane Fairweather

“Miss Green is here to see you, Miss Johnson,” the rather elderly school secretary stated very formally round the door of the headmistress’s study.

“Yes, I did ask to see her, didn’t I? Send her in,” Miss Johnson replied just a touch awkwardly, for she had little enthusiasm for the coming discussion with Flavia Green, and it did not help at all that she had known Flavia since she was a small child.

Miss Green duly came through the door. Miss Johnson, not for the first time, noticed the girl’s prominent boobs and bum made her appear larger than she really was. Perhaps it was to compensate that Flavia wore her dark blue dress and underskirts very loosely, which was not unattractive in its way.

“Do sit down, Miss Green,” Miss Johnson said graciously, gesturing to one of a pair of armchairs that lived in the bay of the large window. She wondered if she should not be saying ‘Flavia’ and not ‘Miss Green’, for it was awkward when she had known the girl for so long.

Miss Green sat, smoothing her skirts with her hands as she did so, which in some way irritated Miss Johnson, though it was a perfectly normal female procedure.

“Miss Green, I have known you most of your life, because I have known your parents so well, and perhaps that makes me more tolerant than I would otherwise be. However, there are several things that I just cannot let pass.

“I took you on to teach Latin because you have a good degree from Leeds, and I knew you and your family. Indeed, it seemed a marriage made in heaven, and I looked forward to a good few years from you, unless of course some nice young man got you to the altar, as happens rather too often to my better staff.

“However, it has not turned out like that at all. As you know, I made a point of marking the Latin exams from the end of last term myself because I thought in all likelihood I might have a few tips for you. This has left me with a very unfortunate impression that the fifth form in particular have probably learnt next to nothing under your tuition, and the rest is not wonderful. Even your lower sixth form group, who are by and large genuinely interested in what they are doing, are at a far lower standard than their predecessors. In particular, their knowledge of their set book, which they need to know almost by heart, is very poor. Luckily, I have taught the third and fourth years myself, thinking they might be a little difficult with a new young teacher. And your first years, I suppose, are passable, but only just.

“I realise you are still learning your craft as a teacher, Miss Green, but, in particular, why are you doing so badly with the fifth form?”

Miss Johnson realised Flavia had started to snivel during this lecture, and was about to snap at her errant teacher in no uncertain terms to pull herself out of it, but the girl produced a handkerchief and blew her nose, so she left her to it for a second.

“The fifth form are just horrible to me, Miss Johnson. I set them work and the books come back with just a couple of scribbled sentences, if that. And they talk in class as if I was not there. That horrible girl Jacqueline Smith discovered I am called Flavia, and they have translated that into ‘Flay Her’, which is not nice. I suppose I ought to have made more of a fuss about it, but I am so new here,” Flavia Green said, relapsing back into tears.

Miss Johnson reflected that at a male establishment this nonsense would have been dealt with by vigorous use of the cane. Indeed, she felt tempted to deal severely with a couple of the principal culprits, who she could guess at only too well, not least Jacqueline Smith, who was a perpetual pain, but then quite probably the whole fifth form Latin set was guilty and caning a dozen girls was not something she really wanted to do. Apart from anything else, the Governors were quite likely to disapprove. Perhaps it was simply a question of getting some sort of rapport going between Miss Green and her charges? Yes, that might solve it. At any rate it would put off awkward decisions about having to sack her honorary niece, though she doubted if the postponement was going to last that long.

“Do you fancy a holiday?” Miss Johnson asked abruptly.

“A holiday, Miss Johnson?” Flavia Green responded, sounding bewildered.

“Yes, a holiday, Miss Green. I am just thinking that it is usual in this school for most of the fifth form to go to Banks Farm near Malham for a week and do some walking and botanising, which would be a very good opportunity for you to get to know your charges better. You will have the two form prefects for 5A and 5B with you, not to mention the formidable Miss Davies, who always puts the fear of god into the girls, and Miss Dancer, who is one of these people who everyone likes and so has no trouble. You could learn quite a lot from both those ladies. Anyway, it begins next Friday for a week. You may go, or not go, as you please. If you go, I will cover your classes myself.”

“I don’t mind walking, but I won’t have to sleep in a tent, will I? Not at this time of year?” Flavia Green said, irritating her headmistress by so doing. The girl really was a touch wet!

“No,” Miss Johnson replied very frostily. “The normal procedure is for the girls and the prefects to sleep in the bell tents, and the mistresses get the cottage, not that it is overwhelmingly warm, so I should take your warmest pyjamas and perhaps wear knickers and a vest as well. But it is a lively occasion and if you can break through to your pupils as a person it may well help the situation a lot.”

“I will do my best,” Flavia Green replied dubiously.

As the young mistress went out of the door, Miss Johnson wondered how much longer this very irritating creature was going to be a member of her staff. Would it help, she mused ironically, if she could tan that unusual behind as a punishment for slack work? The girl really could do with toughening up. However, such action was clearly impractical and she giggled to herself at the thought of her old friends, Edward and Stella, hearing the news of their beloved twenty-two year old daughter having presented the seat of her no doubt fashionable knickers to a vigorously applied cane. She doubted if Flavia had even had her wrist slapped, which was a pity. The girl had missed out badly on discipline, it seemed to her, like so many young girls today.

****

It was Wednesday afternoon and Jacqueline Smith had just staggered out of the door, holding her bottom with some feeling. She had been very soundly caned, and she was muttering under her breath it was all terribly unfair.

She had been caught smoking by Miss Lewis, but proclaimed she had a perfect right to smoke. If Jacqueline had made less of a fuss, the girl would have just got the normal one stroke on each hand for smoking and the matter would have been over and done. However, as it was, a number of Jacqueline’s other sins had come into the reckoning and been discussed at length, not least her blatant refusal to do any Latin for Miss Green, which Miss Johnson had already established by looking at the fifth form Latin set’s exercise books. Most of the girls had done something, but Miss Jacqueline Smith stood out for the simple reason that she had not done a single thing in the previous term. Jacqueline had been extremely defiant over that as well, and it had ended with one small female bottom being held over the side of an armchair by Miss Lewis for four resounding strokes of the cane from an extremely irate headmistress, which was two more than she normally gave.

Miss Johnson rarely gave punishments on that scale and felt quite sad about it afterwards. It did worry her that the girl seemed to feel it was very unfair. She had actually refused to bend over for the cane on her knickers and had to be forcibly put into position by Miss Lewis. Not for the first time, Miss Johnson thought Jacqueline reminded her of herself at the same age when she had had several very well deserved encounters with the flat side of a hairbrush across her father’s knee. At the time she had also felt it was very unfair. Now, she hoped Jacqueline would come to feel the same, but there was no doubting the haughty Miss Smith had left the room feeling very hard done by, and it worried Miss Johnson.

****

“You really have done far better than I expected, Miss Green,” Miss Davies said with her usual bluntness. “When the headmistress said you were going to come along, I must say I thought it was mad and you would never keep up on the walks, but in fact you have done as well as anybody. And I thought you would moan constantly about the cold and the discomfort and might even have to go back early, which I have known before, but to your great credit you haven’t.”

“Thank you, Miss Davies. I have done a lot of walking with my parents in the Lake District. People always think my odd shape means I am unfit, but I’m not,” Flavia replied rather fiercely, and then added, “Anyway, I could not let myself down in front of the girls, could I?”

“I think that you have done yourself a lot of good with the girls,” Miss Davies replied in her educated Welsh accent. “They tend to like conventionally attractive women, you know, which I am afraid you aren’t, though the more I know you the more I see things that you don’t notice at first sight. I think a man will take you very seriously one of these days, Miss Green. Anyway, I am sure that you have gone up a lot in the girls’ eyes during this very demanding few days.”

Flavia thanked her and glowed a little, feeling happy for the first time since she had come to this school as she gazed into the fire in the small sitting room of the two up, two down cottage and sipped her cocoa. She felt relief, not for the first time, that she was not out in the tents in the freezing cold.

“It is Thursday. They always do it on Thursday. Hadn’t we better warn her, Miss Davies? It can be quite a shock if you don’t know what is happening,” the demure Miss Dancer suddenly said, breaking the silence.

“You had better tell her. It happened to you. They never dared do it to me,” Miss Davies said with a glint in her eye.

Flavia turned uneasily to Miss Dancer and asked, “What are you talking about, Miss Dancer?”

“There is a very odd school custom, going back at least twenty years,” Miss Dancer replied awkwardly. “If there is a new mistress on one of these expeditions, they put masks on themselves, then they come into your bedroom, gag you and blindfold you, and walk you out into the wood at the back of the cottage. Then they leave you to make your own way back. For good or ill, it is supposed to be a great joke. You may get a couple of sharp pats on your bottom from the prefects just before they leave you, especially if you make a fuss, but it’s nothing that painful. Sometimes they do that, sometimes they don’t. The thing is, just go along with it and don’t make a fuss. It is all a bit silly I know, but much easier if you know it is going to happen.”

“Is that why I got the downstairs bedroom? I thought it was because you were being kind and putting me nearest the privy and the heat from the fire because I am so new to it,” Flavia said dryly.

Miss Davies smiled. “It is a very silly custom, Miss Green, but the girls think it is their right, and even if we wanted to lock the front door there is no key and the bolt is broken. People don’t worry too much about locking up round here. You should comfort yourself with the thought that in an odd way it is usually a sign of acceptance. I would be more worried for you if it did not happen, than if it did.”

“Then I’d better grin and bear it,” Flavia said with a laugh. “It will be something to tell my grandchildren, no doubt. Anyway, I have had more than one spanking in my time and a couple of pats won’t make much difference. I think I am going to go to bed. There is no light to read here and it will be warmer in bed, hopefully.”

“That girl has got a lot more bottle than I thought. I always imagined she was the sort of creature that never got spanked,” Miss Davies observed to Miss Dancer as they paused on the landing outside their bedrooms.

****

Flavia had fully intended to stay awake till the girls arrived, but she was so tired from the day’s walking that she went into a deep sleep anyway. Something must have woken her, possibly the front door opening, but she was still somewhere between sleeping and waking when two large girls glided in.

Before she quite knew what had happened, one of them had thrust a gag in in her mouth, none too kindly, and it was nearly choking her. The other was tying a blindfold on. It was hard to see anyway, as there was only a quarter moon, but the blindfold frightened Flavia more than she had expected. Now they were hauling her out of bed, and it was an effort not to resist. Her feet touched the cold floor, but she was not allowed footwear. As Miss Dancer had told her would happen, they walked her along briskly, one girl to each arm. She guessed they must be the two prefects, Jane Marks and Susan Everett, but neither girl said a word, and with her blindfold on it was impossible to be sure.

They walked a reasonable distance over very damp, wet grass and the odd stone or stick till suddenly there were quite a lot of twigs underfoot, which hurt her feet to walk on. Then she could hear a lot of girls chattering and giggling together. Again it was impossible to make out individual voices.

Suddenly they all went silent, and Flavia assumed they had all gone back to the tents. According to Miss Dancer, she would now be let go by her two captors, after a suitable interval to stop her identifying anyone. Then she would have to struggle with her gag and blindfold and limp back to the cottage. It was all very silly, she thought, but if it made her more part of the school perhaps it would do no harm.

However, nothing of the sort happened. Instead, she felt hard hands on her shoulders that forced her onto her knees on the twiggy floor of the wood. Presumably, this was a preliminary to the couple of sharp pats that Miss Dancer had mentioned, if you made a fuss. But she had not made a fuss, had she? Presumably, it was going to happen anyway. Still, she had quite thick knickers under her night dress, so it was not going to hurt that much. She was, after all, a reasonable authority on it, having had some pretty hard spankings as a child.

However, then she felt her hands being taken a very firm hold of and her whole body being pulled forward. If it had not been for the gag, she would have protested vigorously at this point. Then, to her astonishment, she felt her night dress being pulled up and then her knickers were being slid down to her knees. She waited for something to happen, feeling colder and colder. She just wished they would get on and slap her a couple of times and let her get back to the cottage.

Then a voice that was quite clearly concealed in a scarf or something said, “This is your comeuppance, Miss Flavia Green.”

Oh god! What was going on? Comeuppance for what? They surely weren’t going to cane her? And she could not even speak in her own defence with this gag in her mouth.

Then something very hard hit her bottom and really hurt. She knew at once it was the hard back of a wooden hairbrush and not the cane, though that was not the greatest comfort ever. She been spanked with a hairbrush on several occasions when she was fourteen and knew just how painful it could be. But perhaps the girl who was whacking her was as relatively inefficient as her mother, whose punishments were never remotely in the same class as her father’s. At least you could hope. And probably it would not be that many whacks.

However, after a couple of whacks it became all too clear that whoever was punishing her, if you could call it a punishment, was very efficient. They seemed to choose a patch of her bottom, hit it five times very hard and then switch to another spot. She rather lost track between trying desperately not to choke on the gag and the tears that started to roll down her cheeks, but she thought that the brush had thumped into her backside twenty or thirty times before it stopped and they let her go.

It was cold and it was damp and it was beginning to rain. The sensible thing would have been to get straight up and get back to the cottage as quickly as possible. However, she felt giddy and bewildered, and it it was a good five minutes before she felt able to struggle to her feet and remove the mask and the blindfold. Then she realized she was tripping over her knickers, so she pulled them up hastily.

She staggered back the perhaps half mile to the cottage, losing her way in the woods once, but finding it again and getting wetter and wetter in the rain. The only comfort was that her errant pupils must also have got pretty wet. Or had they had the sense to put their raincoats on?

To Flavia’s surprise, Miss Davies and Miss Dancer were sat in their dressing gowns waiting for her in the sitting room, and they had even relit the fire.

“Poor lamb, you are shivering like a leaf. I hope it wasn’t that bad? It seems to have gone on longer than normal, so we decided to get up and see if you needed help,” said Miss Davies. “I always worry one of these occasions might get out of hand.”

“Let us get her in to some warm clothes and get some rum into her,” Miss Dancer exclaimed with sharp practicality.

The two women had already got Flavia’s day clothes and warmed them by the fire, and Flavia gratefully let them hand her a mug of cocoa, laced with more than a little rum. When it had been drunk, they started to get her out of her wet night dress and knickers and into her day clothes. However, it was not long before Miss Davies was exclaiming with horror at the state of the victim’s bottom and sending Miss Dancer to look for some ointment in the First Aid Box.

“This is not a joke by any stretch of the imagination,” said Miss Davies furiously as she rubbed in the ointment. “Something needs to be done about this.”

“Someone claimed it was my comeuppance, but I don’t know why,” Flavia replied very shakily.

“Comeuppance? Stuff and nonsense!” said Miss Davies. “Have you no idea who was responsible?”

“They only spoke once and they had their voice concealed in a scarf or something. I honestly have no idea who it was,” Flavia replied.

“Most likely one of the prefects,” Miss Dancer remarked thoughtfully. “But which one? If only we could pin it down, Miss Johnson could expel them.”

“Jacqueline Smith got caned last week for smoking and being quite unbelievably insolent. And her misbehaviour in Miss Green’s Latin was mentioned. I was there, so I know. Just as well I was really,” said Miss Davies. “The minx had to be held over the armchair for her punishment. In Miss Davies’ place, I might have expelled her. It was all very over the top. She was screaming she ought to be allowed to smoke and that that we had no right to cane her for it. In many ways, she got off rather lightly. I only hope she was not being allowed to take her revenge. There is no connection between her and those two prefects, is there? I don’t know of one.”

“I don’t either,” Miss Dancer replied. “But they might be related, I suppose, or have a crush on one another. Anyway, the headmistress will want evidence and we don’t have any.”

“She is not going to cane pretty well the entire fifth form, which might be the logical solution,” said Miss Davies. “Who knows, if she threatened to do it, someone might well own up. However, it is not the sort of thing that Miss Johnson does. But now I think we had better get Miss Green some bacon and egg. Just the thing to set you up after a rough night.”

‘Whatever else might be the case,’ Flavia thought, as she eased herself very painfully into an old armchair. ‘At least the other teachers seemed to be suddenly accepting her.’

****

The following Tuesday morning was Flavia’s second day back in school teaching, and she was feeling happier with herself, though still slightly tender. Her classes on Monday had been that bit easier, partly because she suddenly felt that bit more sure of herself, partly because she seemed to be treated with just that little bit more respect. She wondered if news of her abilities at walking and her bravery during the strange episode in the wood had got round, but she really did not know. However, now she was summoned to the headmistress’s study and she only hoped she was not about to be summarily sacked, which did not seem at all impossible judging by the previous occasion.

She noticed that Susan Everett, who had been one of the two prefects at Bank Cottage, was waiting to see the headmistress and looking as if she had been crying quite a lot. Rather to her surprise, Flavia found she was to go in first.

Yet again, she was ushered in by the school secretary and seated in one of the arm chairs by the window. Again, there was a brief pause and her honorary aunt, alias the headmistress, was addressing her.

“Miss Davies, who is not easily impressed, says you did far better than she expected and coped very well with some horseplay by the girls that got out of hand. Very well done, Miss Green. I hope it will do your standing in the school a lot of good.

“However, I thought you would like to know that somebody put a note under my door informing me in some detail that it was Miss Susan Everett, of all people, who gave you that beating instead of the usual couple of pats, and they thought it was jolly unfair.

“At first, I thought it was probably malicious. I even wondered if it was Jacqueline Smith trying to put a smoke screen over something she had done herself, which did not seem at all improbable. However, Miss Everett admitted her guilt as soon as she was questioned. It appears she has something of a crush on Jacqueline and got totally the wrong end of the stick about her being caned last week. She thought it was all about her beloved not working in your Latin class and you complaining. I would never have dreamed it of Susan. She is normally such a nice, good girl. Strange what love can do to you.

“I was as near expelling a sixth former as I have ever been, but now I have talked to her father and cooled down just a little, I have decided that she is going to have a good hiding that she will remember for the rest of her days. She got a very demeaning view of your backside, of course, so if you want to watch her going through something very similar, feel free to stay.”

Flavia felt quite shocked by her feeling that there would be something very gratifying about watching Susan’s comeuppance, but she nevertheless excused herself, feeling it was not at all nice.

Miss Johnson merely said to tell Susan to come straight in on her way out, which Flavia did. She could not help noticing her oppressor’s small bottom, which you could see quite clearly through her skirt as Susan got up and walked through the door of the headmistress’s study, weeping.

“I should linger a minute,” said the school secretary rather cruelly. “I suspect the sound effects are going to be interesting. She is not very brave, that Everett girl, and she really put you through it, I hear.”

Flavia stopped to wonder if Susan had been caught because she did not have the courage to risk lying, or perhaps she was genuinely ashamed and felt she had to own up. She paused a second thinking this, and then there was a tremendous shriek from the study.

“The headmistress is very sensibly wasting no time getting it done and not giving the stupid bitch time to make a fuss,” said the school secretary with a grin. “I should stay and hear the rest, my girl.”

Flavia stood there in spite of herself and found she quite enjoyed waiting for the next shriek as justice was done to her enemy at intervals of twenty or thirty seconds, and she imagined Susan Everett’s small bottom in total agony waiting for the next whack. Quite possibly, Susan was bent over the side of the arm chair Flavia had just been sitting in, and she was probably wearing the white cotton knickers that were more or less standard for the older girls. Was the bottom pushing up and down like hers had done when she had the hairbrush from her father when she was fourteen? Flavia had managed to stifle the yells, which had probably helped that night in the wood, but she knew that desire to open your mouth and yell very well indeed.

The shrieks reached four, and Flavia was expecting it to stop, for as everyone knew, four strokes was normally the worst punishment that Miss Johnson gave. However, there were three more and by the end of it the shrieks were extremely loud. She felt almost sorry for Susan.

“That is the biggest whacking I have ever heard the headmistress give. It is usually no more than four, if that,” said the school secretary, stating the obvious.

“I wonder if she is alright,” Flavia said, suddenly feeling slightly concerned and lingering in case Susan was not alright.

However, Susan suddenly ran out of the study in obvious agony and headed for the loo across the corridor. Flavia decided her enemy obviously wanted to be left to herself. Besides, it was only five minutes to her next meeting with the fifth form Latin set, and suddenly she did not want to be late for it. Indeed, she walked down the corridor with the light of battle in her eyes.

****

Nearly an hour later, and morning tea in the staff room was coming to an end. Every mistress who did not have a free period got up to go to their classes with a clatter of chairs and a noise of skirts, putting an end to the rather unsavoury chatter about Miss Everett getting the cane, even though she was in the upper sixth. Flavia sat still for a moment. She did not have to teach again till after lunch, and it suddenly came in to her head that she ought to talk to Susan Everett.

It was unlikely they could become friends, but perhaps she could do something to stop there being a feud between them. No, she did not want Susan as an enemy if it could possibly be avoided. Susan might be in disgrace, but undoubtedly she had her allies among the younger girls. That had been all too obvious at Banks Farm.

But where was Susan? It was not impossible that she was still crying her eyes out in the loo. She might have taken herself out into the school grounds. However, Flavia could remember running from the front room after her father had really lost it and given her by far her worst hiding with the hairbrush and going first to the bathroom, where she had splashed cold water on the affected area, before putting some ointment on, and then to her bedroom, where she had lain face down on the bed crying her eyes out for a considerable while. It was probably better than evens that Susan was in her study doing precisely that.

But where was Susan Everett’s study? Despite having lived there for two terms, Flavia’s knowledge of the school was vague and she wandered about for a while before managing to get herself directed to the old house in the grounds, where the sixth formers lived. To her relief, she realised the studies each had the name of the occupants on the door. Eventually, she found Susan Everett and Nancy Jakemann’s names on a door on the second floor.

She paused and nearly did not knock and went off again, but eventually she picked up the courage. No answer, but something told her Susan probably would not want to answer anyway, so Flavia went in, very uncertain of what she would find.

Susan was lying face down on the bed, though she seemed to have stopped crying, just about. Flavia found it hard not to notice the two small round buttocks, which were just about visible through the grey pleated skirt. It was a very small bottom for such a severe punishment, she thought. She had never seen the results of a caning and she wondered what the marks would look like. It had a certain lurid fascination.

Susan turned her head and said, “Oh, it’s you, Miss Green. I expect the headmistress has sent you so I can apologise, did she? I’d better get up, I suppose.”

Susan got up very awkwardly and stood holding the metal bed end.

“I hope you won’t mind if I don’t sit,” Susan said.

“You don’t look that steady standing. You looked more comfortable the way you were,” Flavia said, feeling embarrassed.

Susan lay face down on the bed again, but this time with her head towards the door and Flavia.

“That really is kind of you, Miss Green,” she said. “Much more than I deserve. I really was horrible to you. I really am so ashamed. I got carried away because of something I was told, you see, and the headmistress, who always tells it as it is, says I got it totally wrong. And even if I hadn’t got it wrong, I shouldn’t have done it. The tradition is pats with your hand and no more than six, and I knew that full well. I really did deserve that whacking and I feel so guilty. I had a three and a four when I was in the fourth form, and each time the caning seemed to wipe away my guilt, but this time I still feel terribly guilty. I wish there was something I could do about it. Anyway, Miss Green, I really am so sorry.”

Flavia felt a distinct tendency to laugh, but restrained herself. Instead, she accepted the apology as graciously as she could manage and asked if there was anything she could do to help.

There was a pause and then Susan said, “You will probably think I am being very silly, Miss, but what I really want is for you to punish me. I know the headmistress has already made a very good job of it, but what I did to you was so personal. It does not have to be that hard, Miss, just so I feel you have got your own back, as it were.”

Flavia very nearly refused to add her own punishment, but then decided the girl’s odd morality had a certain logic. Besides, there was something in herself that really wanted to do it.

“Have you got a hairbrush?” Flavia asked briskly, thinking she was laying herself open to god knows what, but she was really going to enjoy this.

“Yes, in my bedside drawer, Miss. Shall I get it, Miss?”

“No, stay where you are. I will get it.”

Flavia fiddled in the very full drawer and extracted a wooden hair brush with a fairly long handle.

“Right, off the bed. Now take down your knickers and pull your skirt and petticoat up. Bend over the bed,” Flavia found herself saying.

The victim did exactly as she was told. Flavia noticed how neatly the seven cane strokes had been spread across the two small buttocks and the top of the thighs. The welts still looked angry and red and swollen. There were four on the bottom and three on the thighs.

“Quite impressive, Miss Everett,” Flavia said, hoping she was sounding sufficiently scornful. “Now you are going to have seven hard whacks with the hair brush to match your seven strokes of the cane. Are you ready?”

“Just about, Miss.”

Flavia raised the hairbrush. She did the first two quite hard, but the girl started really crying a lot and Flavia did not think the distress was faked, so she did little more than sharp pats for the remaining five.

She let Susan cry for a little while, finding it hard not to stare at the red hot bottom with its angry welts.

“You haven’t put anything on after your caning, have you, you silly girl?” Flavia suddenly exclaimed, wondering why she had not noticed before.

“I felt I shouldn’t, Miss,” came the rather odd reply.

Flavia fiddled in the bedside drawer, found some ointment and rubbed it in. Then she persuaded Susan to get back on the bed and go back to lying face down. Then she sat down on the edge of the bed, put an arm round the girl and waited for her to calm down.

It was not a comfortable twenty minutes as Flavia wondered if she had been tricked into something that could lose her job.

“I am feeling a bit better. If you want to go, it’s alright, Miss Green,” Susan suddenly announced, to Flavia’s considerable relief.

Flavia got up, murmuring, “I hope I did not hurt you too much.”

“Miss, you did it exactly right and I really deserved it. Miss, would you go for a walk with me at the weekend?”

Flavia replied in the affirmative and departed, realising this was the first time since she had come to this school anyone had asked to go for a walk with her.

‘Odi atque amo. I hate and I love,’ she wryly remembered from Catullus.

But was this love, or not? If so, it was the first time in her life that it had happened to her.

The End

© Jane Fairweather 2022

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