Two girls disobey their headmistress
By Jane Fairweather
“Do you think we really dare to ask her, Jack? She might think it is very improper, going up a mountain in the night with boys.” The petite and rather shy Rosalind Carter hesitantly asked her more outgoing and boyish best friend, Jacqueline Smith, known as ‘Jack’, as they strolled up to the door of the Headmistress on the morning after the annual Christmas party at Deepdale House School, which was always shared with the neighbouring St Steven’s boys school.
“The Cat is usually quite reasonable; she lets us have the boys to the party every year and she has never banned a game of Sardines at the party because it can mean physical contact with the opposite sex like they did at my sister’s school. I don’t see why we should not go with the boys, it is harmless enough. And anyway, it is only a hill and not a high mountain at all.” Jack said firmly, wary of her friend’s backtracking on this wizard scheme.
“We could ask for a mistress to go with us. Miss Jennings would enjoy it and not get in the way too much.” Rosalind suggested.
“The boys would never agree. The whole point is that this is an expedition without adults to watch over us.” Jack said very firmly. “But we will ask her; she can only say no.”
They came to the door that said ‘MISS HELENA THOMSON, HEADMISTRESS’ on it and Jack knocked.
Miss Thomson, who was always known as ‘The Cat’ for reasons to do with the seductive tone of her voice, answered the door and beckoned them in with a smile. She was a small but rather wiry woman, as behoved someone who had been a very good county hockey player till only a few years previously. Rosalind wondered, with a slight shiver, not for the first time, what it would be like to have the cane from the Cat, which did very, very occasionally happen. Not that she had even been naughty enough even to have a lecture, though the friend beside her had been well and truly bawled out on several occasions. The Cat must be really good at that because Jack had emerged tearful and repentant on both occasions. However, she knew of nobody who had actually experienced the dreaded cane. The younger girls were supposed to have it on their hands, and the older ones on the seat of their school knickers, which must be extremely embarrassing, though Rosalind sometimes found herself rather perversely wishing that she had experienced it.
She realized Jack had got as far as asking if they could climb up the hill behind the two schools in company with the two senior boys from St Steven’s who had asked them to come along and make a bonfire on the top around midnight to celebrate Christmas and the end of term.
“Oh dear!” the Headmistress was saying. “This really does come of being too liberal. I let the boys come to the party, and even indulge in playing Sardines, which I know you girls use shamelessly to get to know the feel of a boy’s body, whereupon I am asked to let you go on a wholly unchaperoned date and in conditions where you might well be seriously injured.”
“But Miss Thomson, it is not a date!” Rosalind found her saying quite fiercely. “We just want a bit of adventure. Girls always seem to have to be protected and boys don’t; it is just not fair!”
“Unfair or not, and quite probably it is a little unfair, if I let you go it will be looked on with deep disfavour by numerous of the parents if it comes out. They just do not want their girls going on random dates with boys, let alone in the wild outdoors.
“Anyway, I strongly suspect these boys are acting very unofficially and do not, in fact, have permission to go on this expedition out of the school themselves. Have you any evidence to the contrary? If you have, I might just ring Mr Maclean at St Steven’s and see if he would agree to sending a master along to chaperone you all. However, I must warn you that you could well be putting your friends’ backsides in considerable peril. Mr Maclean is a great believer in corporal punishment and uses it right up to the top of the school, often for much smaller things than I would even think of using it for. Well? Have you any such evidence?”
Rosalind, for once in her life, very nearly lied outright and hoped the headmistress would simply not check, but on the other hand she did not like taking the risk of getting Dick and Michael into real hot water. But by the time she had more or less made up her mind to lie, Jack had said that, as far as she knew, the boys were acting unofficially and she would rather not get them into trouble.
“Rather as I thought!” The Cat said sardonically, with a feline curl of the lips.
“I am sorry we bothered you, Miss.” Jack was saying.
“On the contrary, it is good that you were honest enough to come and discuss the situation. I can see very well why you wanted to go. In your situation I would have wanted the same, but it is quite impossible. I do hope you understand.”
And with that the conversation ended and the two girls left the study feeling thoroughly deflated. However, Rosalind found herself possessed by a growing spirit of rebellion. She thought this was odd herself, for she was normally a very obedient girl and she did not necessarily disagree with the headmistress about girls being subject to different rules than boys. However, the more she thought about it the angrier she got.
Several periods of advanced Latin and French later (the school prided itself on its language teaching) she turned to Jack just as they were going to get themselves lunch in the little cottage they shared with two other girls and said, “I feel hopping mad. There is no reason at all that she could not have let us go. I think we should go anyway. We know the place to meet, and the time, and all we have got to do is meet them.”
“I don’t know.” Jack said. “I had not really thought of disobeying her outright. You just don’t defy the Cat, but it is a bit silly. I suppose now she has told us so firmly not to go, knowing her she will just assume we have not gone, which means in turn that we will almost certainly get away with it.”
“Well, let’s do it then.” Rosalind said rather fiercely.
“You do realize that if we get caught if we are lucky we will get the cane, probably quite hard?” Jack said.
“And if we don’t get the cane, she will probably give us our marching orders, which I would not mind. I am getting fed up with school.” Rosalind snapped determinedly.
“Rosalind, you are normally the good one who does not want to do anything naughty!” Jack replied, sounding as if she was not altogether easy about the situation.
“I am not being naughty, I am just sticking up for what is right. Why should we not walk up a hill with two boys? It is just silly. Anyway, I am not afraid of the cane. I don’t suppose it hurts that much, and she won’t ask us to leave. The Cat is much too nice.” Rosalind replied argumentatively, reflecting the Cat occasionally hugged her for no apparent reason when they were by themselves, and she rather liked it. And because she was such a favourite she probably would not get the cane anyway.
“Well, if you are not afraid of the cane, then you should be. I had four on my knickers from my Dad for beating up my younger brother when I was twelve. God, that hurt! ‘If you are going to act like a boy, young lady, then you will be treated as one’, was what he said. Can you believe it? I will never forget it, especially that first stroke. It really took my breath away and I yelled. Brother, did I yell!”
“I never knew that,” Rosalind replied, at once faintly shocked at her normally brave friend acting almost like a coward and intrigued at the thought of Jack’s plump bottom pointing up into the air and wondering if she would ever get a chance to watch her friend being punished.
However, it was not altogether surprising that Jack was nervous about risking the cane again, if her first experience of it had been so bad. Rosalind wondered how much her own small bottom would feel it, but with luck it would not happen.
“Anyway,” Jack was saying. “I am not saying I won’t come. I think you will need some support if you go with those lively boys, but are you absolutely sure that you want to go? We really could be for it.”
“I am going; it is a question of principle!” Rosalind stated haughtily. “Are you coming or not?”
“I am not letting you go by yourself. Yes, I am coming.” Jack replied, just a touch wearily.
“We thought you probably would not come, but we waited just as we said.” Dick said, just a touch awkwardly.
In the dark, with his raincoat on, you could not see either his blond hair or his very interesting bottom, Rosalind thought, realizing one reason that she had so wanted to come on this mad adventure was that she had thought Dick was incredibly gorgeous at the party, though sadly they had not ended up next to one another in the Sardine.
“Did you get out without any trouble?” Michael was asking.
“Oh, now we are Seniors they have us in a little old cottage with just two other girls, not even a member of staff. We lock the front door at night and leave the key in. We locked it and brought the key.” Jack replied.
“What if there is a fire? What if the other girls can’t get out?” Michael said worriedly.
“The back door also always has the key in the lock.” Jack assured him. The loo is out the back anyway.”
“Loo? It is a privy.” Rosalind said laughing.
“Anyway, we had better get moving. I don’t like the look of the weather and it won’t help to get soaked.” Dick cut in.
They walked together up the wood that covered perhaps two thirds of the hill, chattering briskly. Rosalind, who had no brothers, was intrigued by the fragments of male school life that filtered through the conversation. The boys seemed to live in a much more hierarchical world than her own, and she found the fact that older boys seemed to beat younger ones regularly disturbing, for it went against her sense of fair play.
“We are not prefects, of course.” Dick said rather proudly. “They don’t think we are quite the right sort of thing, you know. Not got the right sort of view of the world.”
“No, definitely not ‘King or Country’ right or wrong!’ said Michael. “No, we won’t fight if there is another war. Not like Dad’s generation. Easiest way to stop it is if we won’t fight.”
“But what if there is another Xerxes come to conquer the whole world?” Rosalind asked thoughtfully, thinking of the Herodotus she had just been doing in Greek. “You’d fight then, surely? The great age of Athens would never have happened without them beating the Persians at Marathon and Salamis. And I bet there were plenty of Athenians who thought Themistocles building all those galleys that shattered the Persians at Salamis was a dreadful waste of money when he first proposed it.”
“Oh, the surest way to get a war is to start building unnecessary armaments. Look at us and the Germans with our fleets before the Great War. All those battle ships just made the war more likely to happen.” Said Dick firmly.
It was an interesting argument. Rosalind, as a Senior Naval officer’s daughter who listened to adults, could say quite a lot on the value of the battle fleet in the Great War. It had kept the Germans unable to undertake operations outside Europe, and to some extent blockaded them into submission. Jack, for the principle of the thing, though she knew very little about what was being talked about, supported her friend. The boys were equally determined in their pacifism, and although neither side was inclined to yield it kept them talking all through the wood.
It had been dark and shadowy up to this point, though there was just sufficient light to see where they were walking. When they came out of the wood, it was obvious there was scree in front of them and Rosalind, having done a good deal of hill walking with her father, was dubious if they should proceed when they could only half see where they were going and she more or less persuaded the others to call it a day. However, the moon came out from behind the clouds and displayed a winding narrow sheep track through the scree. After some hesitation and discussion, they decided they were after all going to climb the last bit of the hill, since it seemed a great pity not to do it.
Rosalind, for one, felt her heart thump with a rather pleasurable excitement as talking ceased and they picked their way carefully along the path until they got to the ridge at the top of the hill, that was the summit in so far as there was a summit.
“Well, that’s it.” Said Dick. “I don’t think there is much point in going any further. We would just get out onto the open moor. What about a quick fire?”
“Have we got anything to burn?” Said Jack practically.
“I picked up some sticks along the way, and I know Dick has got some kindling and matches and newspaper.” Michael said proudly.
“I suppose that you are good boy scouts.” Rosalind observed sardonically.
The boys managed a small rather spluttery fire in the hollow of a rock, and they briefly warmed themselves at it before it burnt out. Everyone seemed past talking and Rosalind realized it must be at least two in the morning, and she was very nearly asleep.
“Better head back.” Said Michael.
Everyone was feeling cold, even with the fire, so there was no hesitation and they headed back. They went cautiously down the sheep path through the scree, but after that they moved quickly and got though the wood much more quickly than they had gone up it.
The four of them paused by the gate out of the shadowy trees.
“You did get permission to come with us, didn’t you?” Said Michael suddenly. “You said that you were going to.”
“No, she turned us down, but we came anyway, and it was wizard!” Rosalind said laughing.
“Well, don’t get caught for the lord’s sake.” Dick exclaimed, looking really worried. “I don’t suppose they have the cane at your school, being girls and all that, but be careful.”
“Oh, it happens!” Rosalind stated, almost boastfully. “Doesn’t it, Jack?”
“Oh yes, they do have the cane at our school. It’s not exclusive to boys, you know.” Jack supported her friend.
“Well, be jolly careful, that’s all I can say.” Dick said. “Anyway, we’d better all go.”
Some instinct in Rosalind that she had not encountered before made her sidle up to Dick and kiss him once on the mouth very deliberately. She decided, as she tasted a boy’s mouth for the first time, that she liked it.
“That was really nice.” Dick said awkwardly. “Can I see you again?”
“Yes, of course you can. I will write with my home address and phone number. It’s not long to the holidays.”
The girls wandered off together.
“That was really a bit forward, kissing Dick like that, when you barely know him.” Jack said severely.
“Well, it tasted good and I do really like him.” Rosalind firmly replied.
“I wouldn’t have minded kissing, Michael.” Said Jack regretfully. “But it is really not quite proper, you know. Not when we are schoolgirls.”
“Fiddlesticks!” Said Rosalind, laughing.
They glided stealthily through the grounds of the school. Rosalind felt a certain pleasurable tension at the prospect they might be spotted and punished, which she felt would be perfectly fair, but equally she did not particularly want to happen.
They got to the hedge of the little garden in front of the cottage and paused at the gate.
“We ought to have left it ajar.” Jack muttered. “The catch always makes a noise.”
The catch did make a noise and the gate squeaked, and Rosalind’s already high heart beat went even higher. However, there was no sign the other girls in the cottage had heard them. They glided up to the front door as surreptitiously as possible and Jack inserted the key and unlocked it. The key mercifully was almost silent in the lock. Jack replaced the key on the inside and relocked it.
“We are home and dry.” Jack whispered.
“It does look like it,” Rosalind whispered back.
She felt in an odd mood; relief she was not going to get the cane; almost disappointment that she was not going to be one of the few girls in the history of the school to have that experience. But then it might have been a lecture, quite probably would have been, and that would have been boring.
They sidled into the study bedroom that they shared, and struggled into their pyjamas without putting the light on.
“There is a piece of paper on my pillow!” Jack said in an alarmingly loud voice, just as Rosalind was about to slide thankfully into bed.
“Better read it then.” Rosalind said as calmly as she could, though her heart was thumping again.
“I will have to put the light on.”
“Well do it, it is probably only a note from Alice or Rosy or the house keeper. Isn’t it the week to put our sheets out?”
The light went on and nearly blinded Rosalind for a second.
Then she heard Jack reading in a very shaky voice.
Dear Miss Carter and Miss Smith,
If Duffers will be drowned, I am afraid. Please report to my office at eight-thirty sharp tomorrow morning when I will deal with this unfortunate incident. It would be mutually beneficial if you would leave your slips off.
“What the hell does that mean?” Said Jack, sounding bewildered and tearful.
“It’s Swallows and Amazons, isn’t it?” Said Rosalind.
“I don’t know, I have never read it.”
“The father sends a telegram saying they can go on a camping holiday in the middle of a lake, and basically if they aren’t duffers they won’t drown and if they are duffers they will drown. Anyway, we are rumbled. I wonder how she found out? Alice or Rosy would not have gone out of their way to tell the Cat; and anyway we did our best to keep them in the dark.”
“Well anyway, somehow she found out. And I don’t like this bit about leaving our slips off. I am sure that means either the cane with gymslips and knickers on, which will be quite bad enough, or just possibly with only knickers on, like when my Dad did it. God that hurt!”
“It is a pity we cannot walk in wearing Oxford bags; that would be decent and fair.” Rosalind said thoughtfully.
“Well we can’t. And I don’t know how you can be so calm about it. In fact, I don’t know how you could be so stupid as to get us into this whole mess.”
“I am sorry, Jack, for getting you in to this, but I did it knowing there was an even chance I would get caught, and I would have thought you would have realized the odds of getting caught were high. And if you get caught with something like this, you have to expect a real punishment. At least she is not talking about our having to leave the school, which would really upset my Dad. I don’t think he will bat an eyelid about me being punished for something that I felt was a matter of principle.”
“I bet mine will give me six of the best on my knickers when I get home, and that really won’t be fair. And as to its being a matter of principle, I think you only did it to find out what it is like to kiss a boy.” Jack said angrily.
“I will try and take all the heat I can,” Rosalind replied. “But now I really need to go to sleep, if I am going to cope with what’s coming.”
She barely felt her eyes close, though Jack was cursing her from the other bed.
Rosalind woke suddenly, glanced at the alarm and realized it was five to eight. They had slept through the alarm that was set to allow time for Prep and then breakfast, which was officially from 7.30 till 8.00, and she could smell the other girls’ bacon and egg; they had undoubtedly missed having some food inside them before their ordeal, but the thought of food was making her feel sick, she realized. She glanced over to the other bed, where Jack was still out like a light.
She walked over to the marble wash stand and started to wash from the cold water in the large jug, reflecting she had collected a certain amount of mud on her feet and legs in the course of the previous night’s expedition. Normally she would not have exposed her naked body to Jack’s view or anyone else’s, but being in a hurry she just took her pyjamas off and washed herself all over with a sponge.
“You’ve got a marvellous bum, you know!” She suddenly heard Jack say, to her acute embarrassment.
“Have I?” She said nonchalantly, hurriedly wrapping the towel round her waist.
“I bet that’s why that boy is interested, but you will suffer for it when you get the cane with such a small bum. You won’t have an inch left to sit down on.” Jack said, half maliciously.
Rosalind shuddered more than slightly as she realized that her punishment was less than half an hour away, but all she said was, “Well, my dear, you’ve got a larger area not to sit down on.”
“True.” Said Jack. “But I still think you have got a better bum than me. I think it is the first time I have really seen it.”
“I will try and make sure it does not happen again.” Rosalind said, blushing scarlet.
“I really don’t mind; it is rather lovely.” Jack replied.
Rosalind, by this point, had hurriedly got her knickers on, and then her bra on, and was reaching automatically for her green petticoat when she realized with real shock that she was not supposed to be wearing it. It brought home all too well what was about to happen.
She hurriedly put on her white blouse and red striped tie and then got her gymslip over her head after a struggle with the buttons at the back. The gymslip’s box pleats should give her backside a little bit of protection, she decided, assuming she kept it on. However, she could not help reflecting that if she ended up being punished in her green knickers, they were horribly tight and thin.
She looked round and realized that Jack had not bothered with washing and was sat on the bed in her blouse and blue serge knickers, putting on her black stockings before putting her gym slip on. She reflected that her friend’s knickers would probably give more protection than her own. She would quite like to have borrowed a pair.
However, she still had her stockings and garters to do and she determinedly sat on the bed and got the always fiddly slow job done, wondering shakily if the garters would be as inefficient as usual and let the stockings slip, leaving a worrying patch of bare skin at the top of her thighs for the cane to bruise. She really ought to go over to a suspender belt. Mum had asked if she wanted one for Christmas, hadn’t she?
“Right, my dear, I think we are both ready and I think we’ve got ten minutes to get to the headmistress before she gets mad because we are late.” Jack said briskly. “We’d better scram.”
Rosalind needed no second warning, and they belted out of the cottage and headed at full pace across the school to the headmistress’s study.
“Oh god, we are three minutes early.” Rosalind said, glancing up at the clock on the wall outside the Cat’s office. “I really did not want to wait.”
“I don’t want to wait either!” Jack said rather desperately, and without warning knocked on the door, sending Rosalind’s heart beat through the roof.
The Headmistress, however, waited all three minutes before opening the door, and the two girls stood there in silent agony. Rosalind realized, with real surprise, that there were tears on her friend’s cheeks and she wondered how close she herself was to being sick, as she felt a great wave of nausea sweep over her as the door opened.
“Ah, Miss Carter and Miss Smith.” The Cat said with the purr that was responsible for her nickname. “I have, of course, been expecting you. Come in.”
They shuffled in uneasily and stood in front of the desk. Rosalind glanced round the room and realized there was a wooden chair to the right of them, which had two canes laid out on its seat. One looked rather bigger than the other. She wondered which of them was going to get which one.
“I suppose I should congratulate you on a bold scheme boldly carried out.” The Cat said, smiling slightly. “In many ways, you were very unlucky. If you had not been foolish enough to tell me what you had in mind, and if I had not happened to be awake with the curtains drawn staring at the stars (I am somewhat of a nightbird myself you know), I would probably not have noticed the distant flicker of flame at the top of the hill from the top of my house, and certainly not taken any notice of it. As it was, I thought I was probably seeing things, but I thought I could not let an act of total disobedience pass, if it was that, so I came over to the cottage.
“Fortunately, I had remembered to bring the key. If the cottage had been locked from the inside, then presumably all would have been well. However, if I could unlock the front door with my key, you were presumably out and had taken the key. Or indeed if the key was near the front door, you would still be inside, unless of course someone else had let you out. Anyway, to be absolutely sure, I crept up to your room and found, sure enough, you had gone AWOL, as they say in the Services.
“I am sure your Naval father would tell you what that means, Rosalind. And it is not unknown for persons who go AWOL in time of war to be shot at dawn. Anyway, the matter is not quite serious enough for that, but I am angry enough with you two to administer one of only half a dozen canings I have had to carry out in the over-ten years I have been headmistress here. Have either of you anything to say or shall we just proceed to punishment, which in my view might be simplest? I would rather you two did not dig yourselves in any further than you already have, so shall we proceed?”
“It was my idea, Miss Thomson, and Jack, Jacqueline that is, did not really want to go along with it, but came because she is my friend.” Rosalind blurted out, feeling resolutely determined to give her friend whatever help she could.
“That is very noble of you, Rosalind, but having known both of you all the way up the school, I find it very unlikely you would be the author of such a risky, naughty scheme. You have never done anything naughty in your life, let alone taken a real risk. Still, I will give Miss Smith her punishment, while I think what to do with you. Miss Smith, take your gym slip off, would you please, and then walk over to that chair in front of the fireplace.”
Rosalind was not sure what to do. She should probably look away and not watch, but something told her it would be much less frightening when it was her turn if she did watch and saw exactly what happened. And then Jack had looked at her bum when it was bare and said it looked lovely, so perhaps Jack would not mind having her own bottom stared at, not that it would be bare of course.
Rosalind realized her heart had more or less stopped hammering and she was feeling oddly detached as she concentrated on the bizarre scene that was unfolding before her. Jack was fiddling with the red girdle round her waist that showed she was captain of hockey, though Rosalind could not help wondering if her sporty friend was about to lose that honour.
Jack then had trouble undoing the gymslip buttons at the back of her neck. Rosalind watched this struggle with real sympathy. Jack’s hands must be shaking and she needed help. Those buttons were never easy at the best of times. Perhaps she should offer to help. However, the Cat realised the problem and undid those tricky buttons and then took the gymslip off her victim and put it to one side, rather surprisingly on the floor.
‘Rather like the executioner helping Mary Queen of Scots out of her gown.’ Rosalind found herself thinking hysterically.
Then Jack was out of her gymslip and standing rather irresolutely in front of the chair with her knickers and stockings all too visible below her blouse. Rosalind looked quizzically and decided that if she was a boy, which she wasn’t, her friend’s curvaceous bottom would definitely be worth looking at.
“I think I had better take those.” The Headmistress said as she removed the two canes from the seat of the chair.
Then she stood there, one cane in each hand, testing each one in turn. This lasted no doubt just a few seconds, but to Rosalind and perhaps even more to Jack it seemed like forever. Then one cane was being placed on the desk and the other was firmly in the headmistress’s left hand.
“Put your hands on the seat of the chair and keep them there, Miss Smith.” The stern voice said. “You are going to have five strokes. Are you ready?”
Jack said: “Yes, Miss Thomson, I am ready,” surprisingly clearly in the circumstances, Rosalind thought, though she could also hear the sound of quiet sobbing as her friend gripped the sides of the seat of the chair as hard as she could.
Miss Thomson was left-handed and so positioned herself to the right of her victim, which left Rosalind with an all too clear view of her friend’s knickers. She noticed with something approaching disgust that the gusset of the knickers was very visible and hoped that her own gusset was not going to be equally visible, before deciding that perhaps it did not matter that much. What mattered surely was the sheer indignity and the pain.
A cat-like look went over Miss Thomson’s face as she drew the cane right back and sent it swishing with her left hand with an easy flowing motion. The cane bit visibly into that plump, beefy bottom just above the gusset of the knickers and the victim shrieked. Rosalind felt the pain almost as if she had been the victim, and shuddered. The second stroke seared into the top of thighs and poor Jack howled and twisted. Miss Thomson waited until the writhing had subsided and then administered two strokes in rapid succession slightly higher up on the bottom. Then the headmistress paused while Jack stopped sobbing, which she had been doing since she entered the room, and started into floods of tears. Rosalind wondered if Jack was being let off the last stroke, but Miss Thomson was showing no signs of stopping; perhaps she was just teasing her victim.
“Please, I am so sorry. Please stop, Miss Thomson. I am so sorry, I really am. Please no more. Please could I be let off the last stroke?” Poor Jack cried out through her gallons of tears as Rosalind wondered if she was going to be able to take her punishment even as well as Jack was.
“No, young lady, you are not going to be let off the last stroke. In fact, it is going to be the hardest of all. Brace yourself!”
The cane drew back even further than before and sliced unmercifully right into the middle of Jack’s tightly stretched knickers.
There was an even louder shriek, and then the victim had leapt up from the chair and was clutching her bottom while doing a strange dance, which Rosalind found both horrifying and strangely arousing.
The Cat let this go on for several minutes before asking Rosalind to help her friend back on with her gym slip. This, the two girls managed to do between them, though Jack was in a state close to collapse.
“Now you can go to your room and stay there as long as you need to recover, Miss Smith.” The headmistress said briskly. “And I hope that you will reflect on your evil behaviour in attempting to persuade your friend to take the blame in the knowledge she would get off more lightly than you because of her impeccable record in this school.”
Rosalind felt awful. Her attempt to help Jack had gone so totally wrong. And was she herself now going to get it in the neck for lying? But there did not seem to be any point in saying any more.
“You will probably be relieved to know that I won’t be saying anything to Mr Maclean about this episode.” The Cat was saying in almost a purr, Rosalind could not help thinking. “Boys will be boys and I don’t feel like ratting on them; but you girls should have known a lot, lot better. And as to you, young lady, in view of your record and in spite of what I wrote in that note I was thinking of letting you off with a sharp stroke on each hand, or possibly two, but in view of your attempting to lie for your friend you will have the same punishment as her, five strokes on your bottom. Take off your gym slip.”
Rosalind was quite determined she was not going to make so much fuss as Jack had. And, after all, she had just seen what was probably the worst that could happen. Like Jack, she struggled with her gym slip buttons, but managed it without help.
“Now take hold of the chair like your friend did.”
She did as she was told, feeling herself blush at the sheer embarrassment of showing everything through her horribly tight knickers as she clutched the chair as hard as she possibly could.
‘Hmm. Not much of a bottom!’ The headmistress was saying to herself. ‘I’d better use the lighter cane.’
There was an unnerving pause while the lighter cane was swished experimentally. Rosalind found herself wondering if this implement had originally been meant for her hands, or was there yet another cane for that?
“Right, are you ready?”
“Yes, Miss Thomson.”
She gritted her teeth and clutched the chair if anything even harder. The cane strokes stung agonisingly and the tears flowed down her cheeks in large quantities, but she felt a certain pride that she did not cry out once and when the punishment was over she did not dance, despite a strong desire to do so, though she did hold and squeeze her bottom with some feeling.
“Right get your gymslip on and then go, Rosalind. I am sorry I had to be so severe with you, but you left me very little choice. For goodness sake, don’t let anything like this happen again.” The Cat was purring, sounding almost as agonised as her victim.
“I thought it was perfectly fair, Miss.” Rosalind said, embarrassed that her headmistress seemed so upset and finding herself quite ridiculously wanting to comfort her.
A large and lingering mutual hug followed, which Rosalind herself at least partly initiated. Not that it seemed wrong, but why did the Cat want to do it after punishing her so severely, and why did she enter into the embrace herself so willingly? But the Cat had a nice warm body and she did not mind being in a hug with it; it was quite comforting after that horrible stinging beating.
Whether the headmistress ever intended to say anything more after that strange embrace, Rosalind Carter never found out, but eventually she disentangled herself and put her gym slip back on and made her way back to the cottage, where she found Jack lying face down on her bed in absolute agony.
The weals, to say the least, were spectacular, whereas her own were only slight, despite the intense stinging she had endured. She consoled Jack as best she could and rubbed some cream in, which Rosalind found herself enjoying more than she felt she should have done.
Then she gave her friend a tremendous and long-lasting hug, which she enjoyed almost as much as the strange embrace with the Cat. This was strange, for Rosalind knew perfectly well that she ought to be hating the Cat and that odd hug ought to be of no significance, but she was actually preferring what had happened so oddly in the Headmistress’s study to hugging her very best friend.
But when it was over, and while Rosalind was shooing Jack back into her clothes and saying they must get themselves some bread and cheese in the cottage kitchen, she started think that what really mattered was that odd kiss with Dick. She would write that letter giving her home address and phone number. Her father, she decided, would like Dick. Despite being a warrior himself, Dad did not greatly love war and he liked people with opinions of their own and he would not mind Dick’s pacifism. Whether her Mother would tolerate it she doubted, though, but Mum could lump it. This might just be the man for her, though something told her that there might be other more female fish in the sea as well.
© Jane Fairweather 2020
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