The third instalment

By Joanna Jones

It was a bit of a wrench to return to school after the Christmas holidays. In the three weeks we got off I got used to sleeping in my parents’ company (I was an only child) and generally doing what I wanted.

Before term started I had also had two dates with Derek. The first was a lovely day in London, which included me getting a surprisingly pretty, dainty bracelet. He was very patient as we went round looking at clothes, although the fact that the skirt hemlines seemed to be ever rising in the sixties probably maintained some of his interest! He also got a couple of casual shirts, so it was not all one way.

We had a lovely, though rather early, dinner before I got the last train home.

The second of the two dates was his choice; Lunch in a country pub and a rather romantic walk on a crisp winter’s day. I got the train again, this time part way and he then drove the rest. Another fantastic day!

That of course was the main plus in returning, although I accepted that Derek was going to be progressively busier as the key A-level exams started to approach.

Once back I was soon into the routine of life. The teachers I had were all by and large great and I enjoyed my courses. There were one or two who had a more disciplinary streak, but by and large the few punishments (teachers could slipper) of a sixth former were usually well deserved and those few were almost always to boys. A couple more girls did get a slippering for forgetting their prep, but it was quite rare. Prefect duties were generally mundane and our hockey team continued to improve.

At the beginning of term I noticed, with some relief that that the marks from the head’s caning had disappeared from my friends’ bottoms. However, Fran had six bright red marks. There are no secrets in a boarding school; apparently the Head had phoned her parents after the dorm incident to discuss her first term report, and in particular her behaviour. The consequence had been her father acquiring a cane and giving her six whacks right at the end of the holiday to remind her to behave this term, given the amount he was paying for her education. Poor Fran, she was in my view no worse behaved than the rest of us, although a little more impetuous perhaps. However, she had managed twice to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and paid a high price.

Much of the latter part of January was a haze of exams for all sixth formers, and indeed all forms had tests of some sort. As a result the court was very quiet, and one week there was no case at all, which seemed to be some sort of record. As we studied and revised, the weather was cold with plenty of snow and grey skies.

The weekend after the exams, the snow let up and the sun came out. On Saturday afternoon Derek and I decided to go for a walk around the grounds.

As we left, a fairly large group of sixth formers were out on the front and the beginnings of some sort of unofficial inter-house snowball fight was clearly about to start.

The grounds were large and we must have been away for well over an hour (I confess it included a couple of ‘snog stops’) before returning to the school. The sun was beginning to set and we were not surprised that the rest of the sixth formers had disappeared to the warmth of the common rooms. A few younger boys were playing on a snow slide down one of the slopes, but that was about it.

It was Grace who found me about five minutes after I got to my room to take my coat, scarf and gloves off. The headmaster required my presence.

Before setting off I asked why. I was shocked that apparently the snowball fight had got a bit boisterous leading to a kitchen window being hit. One of the cooking staff had come out and angrily told them to desist. She had been ignored and instead a snowball had hit her full in the face. There apparently had been some amusement as she had furiously returned to the school.

It had been the Head, Mr McKendrick, himself who had five minutes later called them all in. Nobody admitted to the snowball the cook had received, much to his clear irritation. He had given them all a long lecture saying he understood that there was the need to let of steam after the exams, but admonishing them that they had clearly gone too far. He reiterated how annoyed he was both that no one had the courage to admit snowballing a staff member, and that nobody was telling him either. He had then taken the four prefects who had been part of the frivolity to his office. Grace knew nothing more other than him asking her to find me as he left.

“Just me, not Derek, Ian or Tom as well?” I asked.

“Yes, Just you,” was the reply.

I felt a cold chill up my spine. “And Katie was one of the four prefects?” I asked as I closed my room door and started down the corridor.

Grace looked surprised as she’d not mentioned that. “Yes, but how did you know?”

“Lucky guess!” I called back as I headed down the corridor.

I could think of only one reason why the Head wanted me. I felt sick as I made my way across the school and knocked on the Headmaster’s door.

I was surprised he was on his own, looking at a couple of documents on a fairly clear desk. His copy of the Daily Telegraph was the only other item on it.

“You wanted to see me Headmaster?” I asked.

“Yes, I have been waiting for you for quite a while.” He said, looking mildly irritated.

“Given the weather I went for a walk around the grounds with Derek. Grace found me as soon as I got back.” I replied nervously.

He looked calmer and started. “Okay, well while you were perambulating round the grounds I am afraid some of your sixth form colleagues let their end of exam enjoyment go a bit far.”

He then told me the same story as I had briefly heard in my room as I talked to Grace.

He was clearly annoyed that one of the support staff had been hit, and more so that no one had owned up. He then intimated that four of the group, of more than twenty, having the snowball battle were prefects; three boys and Katie. He was clearly of the view that prefects have a responsibility not to let things get out of hand and he had decided to emphasise that. Further, none of the prefects would tell him who threw the rogue snowball and he did not believe they did not know. The three boys had already had three strokes of the cane on their pants. Katie of course was the fourth. He’d told her to wait in the prefect common room until I came for her.

I very much got the impression that the fact that he could not punish the snowballer was the real underlying issue as he needed some form of justice to be seen to be done on behalf of the aggrieved party. I suppose he wanted to make it clear that he supported all his staff no matter what their role.

All that had apparently been half an hour ago. I pitied Katie waiting for me to come and escort her to a whacking that was going to be much more painful than the couple I’d given her so many months ago during our training.

As I walked to the common room I reflected on the near miss I’d had. I had been sorely tempted to have a laugh with the others, and indeed had suggested to Derek we could do so. However, finally the quiet walk won and it looked like it had saved us from the experience Katie was due for.

Katie was nursing a coffee nervously as I entered. A couple of boys were clearly trying to keep her spirits up as she pondered her fate. As soon as she saw me she jumped up nervously, spilling some of her coffee on the floor, and one of the lads. She was still wearing her thick trousers. As it was the weekend, it was casual dress.

Apologising profusely, she started to go for a cloth but the boy told her not to worry and let it be; he’d sort it out himself.

Looking at me she asked: “Now?”

I nodded and said: “Sorry Katie.”

“Not your fault.” She muttered as we left the common room.

The rest of the walk was conducted in silence as we made our way to, on this occasion, the dreaded office.

In my absence the Head had got his cane out. I noticed that it was not as fearsome as the one he’d used on the girls before Christmas, looking more like the one I remember my housemaster using on Laura.

The Head looked at her standing very nervously in front of him. “I am sorry this is necessary, Katie,” he said. Then looking meaningfully at the bare desk he continued. “I think you know what to do.”

He seemed almost sympathetic as he instructed Katie to get ready, I thought.

Slowly Katie faced the desk away from us, unfastened the top button of her trousers and unzipped them. With a wriggle to ease them over her hips she pushed them down below her knees.

She took a couple of deep breaths before finally bending over the desk and gripping the far side. Her plain white knickers covered most of the target. Though the office was warm enough, Katie seem to have goose-pimples on her thighs as she waited in position for her whacking.

I stood well out if the way as the Head lined up the first of his three strokes. She was gripping tightly. Not for the first time I hoped I would never get myself in that position.

The cane finally came back slowly, then in a moment of sudden violence it swished and cracked down on the middle of Katie’s rump.

She gasped.

The Head briefly paused before lining up a second stroke, slightly lower than the first.

Another swish and crack.

Katie took it more or less silently.

The final cut was lined up low and again it cracked down viciously, landing partly on the bare skin either side of the knickers.

“Nnnnngh,” groaned Katie.

“You may stand and leave when ready, Katie.”

Slowly she stood and wriggled her trousers up over her bottom. While not crying, she clearly was flushed and in pain.

“Thank you sir,” she uttered as we left his office. I was surprised that she kept her hands firmly at her sides. Mine would I thought have been gripping my bum!

Katie and I went straight to our room. It was only after we got there that she deigned to put her hands to her bottom, dropping her trousers to her ankles and sliding her hands into her knickers.

“Oh,” she exclaimed. “That was agony.”

After a few minutes she lay on her bed and I applied some cream to the three red marks that disfigured the lower half of her bottom.

As I did so, she told me her version of what had happened. It was clear that she viewed John Thompson as the reason she was lying face down. He was the ‘coward’ (in her eyes) who’d not admitted to pitching the snowball perfectly into the cook’s face. However, as none of the boys would ‘grass’ on him she also felt unable to do so too.

After dinner we both went to the prefect’s common room. The three boys who had been whacked were also there and their views of John’s behaviour were similar to those of Katie. However, the consensus was there seemed to be little worth doing, other than to forget and move on.

That clearly was not Katie’s view that evening. She still felt bitter and humiliated and was not as philosophical on the matter. To this day I think in general it is a much bigger thing in the mind of a girl to be caned than a boy; perhaps as it is generally a much rarer event, or perhaps a generally higher awareness of our bodies given the effect of hormones and monthly cycles that men do not need to worry about.

Whatever the case, Katie rather made it clear that John should be made to suffer some consequence. While sympathising, the boys suggested she let it be.

I hoped she would calm down. However, in Katie’s case the anger at having suffered a caning, in her view unnecessarily, festered. It came to a head on Tuesday when she confronted him. They had an argument, which John eventually terminated by just walking away. Katie demanded he come back and when he didn’t and gave her a two fingered gesture as he kept walking she said he was referred to the court. In front of the sixth form in their common room, once said, it could not be unsaid.

Katie I think knew that night that she’d gone too far, but she was too still angry to care or listen to my warnings. Even the following morning she was adamant she was in the right.

It was the final case at the court that Wednesday. As I had witnessed it and provided evidence I made an excuse not to have to go through to decide John’s fate. I was pretty sure I knew what the outcome was going to be and, perhaps cowardly, did not want to be part of the decision.

John was unsurprisingly found guilty of being rude to a prefect, but equally unsurprisingly Derek and his two colleagues thought it too trivial a matter to come to the court and Katie should not have reported it.

The result? Katie was to be caned. The norm in such cases was six and they saw no reason to not award that to Katie.

I felt that familiar pain in my stomach as I realised I was going to have to whack my room-mate and best friend.

Katie look slack jawed and asked what the appeal rules were. Meanwhile John, realising the consequences, said, given his responsibility with the snowball, he would be prepared to take the caning instead of Katie.

Derek glared at both him and Katie. He was blunt. To John, he said the snowball was a matter for him and the headmaster. If he was too much of a coward to face up to his responsibility, that was his, not the court’s, problem. It certainly was not for his court to give him an easy way out.

John had flushed and bit his lip as the word ‘coward’ had been uttered.

Derek then turned to Katie. The charge she’d brought was frivolous and she was not going to use the court to settle a score; none of the other three had done so. Even though he had some sympathy for her, every case should, had to be, treated on its own merits. She could appeal to Mr McKendrick if she wanted, but in his view she would probably regret it.

Katie bit her lip and stood glaring back at Derek for a long time. Finally she tossed her head, went to the small room behind, came out with one of the two canes stored there and tossed it to me.

I helped her adjust the screen as Derek arranged the prefects toward the back of the room. John had made to leave, but Derek ordered him to stay.

As soon as the screen was ready Katie flipped up her skirt and, quietly telling me not to bother finding a chair, grabbed her ankles. In her anger she had clearly not considered the possibility (I had thought probability) that she might lose, as she was just wearing a pale yellow pair of knickers, rather than the maroon sports shorts I would have gone for in her position.

 I whispered: “Sorry Katie.”

I got a resigned reply whispered back. “Just get on with it, do what you have to do.”

Standing behind her I could see much of the lowest bruised stripe the Head had given her on Saturday.

I took a deep breath, lined the cane up and cracked it down on the target.

Katie took it silently.

I aimed another fairly high and swished the stick. A second thwack echoed round the silent room. Katie remained silent and stock still.

The third and fourth were net with the same steely resilience. I was working down the target. The fifth I placed just above the headmaster’s lowest line.

Katie gave a small gasp.

That left the final stroke. Rather than place it on top of the bruised line of the Head I angled the cane and whacked it diagonally across the target. Katie made the tiniest of pained noises as she controlled herself before slowly standing, letting her skirt fall back.

Nervously I whispered: “Sorry Katie,” again as she stood rubbing her bottom through the skirt.

She gave me a hug and replied quietly: “Don’t worry, it was my fault,” before giving a more audible: “Thank you.”

The final act was to apologise to John for bringing him to the court unfairly, which she did very formally. Certainly there was no warmth in her action. He nervously shook her hand before being dismissed.

Katie was very subdued that evening as I guiltily put some cold cream on the wounds I had inflicted only a short time before. I was very relieved she did not hold it against me. All she would say was to repeat that she now recognised how silly she’d been, and that she needed to control herself better. However, she intended to ignore John completely from now on.

While before John had probably hoped he could have brazened his lack of admission out, the story of Katie’s second caning in less than a week made his position pretty untenable as he was rather ignored by the entire sixth form. The fact that the Head Boy had called him a coward to his face also became common knowledge. Though the court was supposed to be confidential, somehow the more juicy bits always leaked out.

On Saturday John had had enough and he went to the Head’s office and admitted the snowball. He was still in clear pain the following day having got six whacks apparently to his bare bottom. However, it did bring the matter to a close, as he apologised to Katie and the other three for his inability to admit what he’d done straight away, which was accepted.

The cold weather had another effect. The school uniform for us girls was the knee length skirt and long socks. A number of the girls wanted the option of trousers, or some form of thick tights or stockings. Once again I found myself representing my cohort at a meeting with the Head. This time he did not give me an answer straight away, but a few days later. Basically we had to put up with it this year, but he would arrange for alternatives for next, which would be dark stockings or woollen tights and we could have a free choice, plain and black colour only, of what style we wished to wear. However, the governing board had not been sufficiently liberated to agree to trousers.

The rest of the half term passed quietly enough as far as I was concerned. One of the girls, Ruth, in what was technically Katie’s house (although sharing, uniquely we still formally had separate affiliations) was rather too rude to a teacher. According to her, it was supposed to have been a joke and Mr Carmichael had his first experience of caning a girl, with Katie acting as witness.

Since her own experiences, Katie clearly became more reticent in discussing the effects of corporal punishment on individuals, and would say nothing about it in front of the boys. However, in our own room she told me Ruth had apparently dropped her skirt and taken the allotted four stokes on her maroon sports pants pretty stoically. There was the odd tear on her face as she left and that was about it.

Derek and I had managed a couple of dates during term, and a couple more at half-term. These included another visit to the cinema and a very nice meal. My mother, seeing how things were progressing, had one of those embarrassing ‘birds and the bees’ discussions. I reassured her that we had no opportunity to undertake anything like that at school. Apart from anything else I was sure that the consequences of being caught were not worth thinking about.

However, despite me thinking my mother worried too much, she perhaps had a more prescient mind than I gave her credit for at the time.

Derek, as Head Boy, had a room on his own, with a separate study. It was also located outside the normal house areas and there was no proscription on him using his study to talk to pupils of either sex.

As the first half-term had neared an end, we had on a number of occasions sat in there and chatted with a tea or coffee or hot chocolate. We were both acutely aware of the rules and the unspoken agreement was that we did not do any snogging or petting there. I was rather firm on this as I was aware of myself enough to know that it was a road if started on that could end up in due course in his bedroom for a quick cuddle somewhere more comfortable and then, well, the less said the better. The reality was we did more in the prefects’ room, and there were by now a couple of other couples who would similarly occupy a corner of the sixth form common room, than anything we ever did in his study.

The trouble was that while we may have had some self-set boundaries, no one else knew that and somehow the Head became aware.

Thus one evening in March, around half way through the Easter term, there was a knock on the door and the Head, with Mrs Fleming (I supposed as a witness just in case we really had got up to some hanky panky) came straight in.

We were sitting in separate chairs and stood up immediately.

The Head’s look was a mixture of anger and relief.

Mrs Fleming escorted me to an empty classroom where I endured a very uncomfortable discussion on what did I think I was doing. After being warned to tell the truth, I endured a long interrogation on my relationship with Derek. I assume Derek was getting the same from the Mr McKendrick.

Much of the latter part from her was a lecture on propriety and the need to ensure that others also could see that that was being maintained. On a number of occasions the subject of maintaining my reputation came up. Although young for a teacher, even girls of my age knew that a good reputation for a girl meant firmly keeping her knickers on, whilst for a boy it seemed to be the ability to persuade a girl to get them off that mattered. Something that is a little different nowadays I think. The lecture came to an end when the Headmaster came in. I was told to wait in the classroom alone as Mrs Fleming went with him to his office I presume to compare notes.

I was a nervous wreck as I paced around the empty room, worried about being suspended or expelled or, failing that, being caned. I remembered the six girls who’d taken three boys to a dorm room after the Christmas Dance. That punishment had been horrific. I suspected that was the best I could hope for though. I just hoped he would let us keep our senior prefectoral roles no matter what else he did.

In some ways it was a relief to see Katie come into the classroom as it meant I was probably not going to be expelled or suspended. However, it did conversely give me a feeling of dread as I walked towards the Head’s office with her. I knew the chances of getting a very painful whacking were now very high indeed.

As was the case when I escorted Katie, one does not talk much on the condemned walk. Katie told me that Mrs Fleming had told her to pick me up and to go together to the Head’s office and that was all. I told her very briefly that the Head had found me chatting in Derek’s study and had objected.

Finally we arrived at the door. For the first time, I dreaded knocking and was very nervous as I tapped gently. The inevitable reply to ‘Come’ followed and I was in.

As I looked at his desk I knew my fate was sealed. The desk was clear, apart from the heavy cane I’d seen before Christmas.

However, first of course came the lecture. It was difficult to concentrate, but he was irritatingly reasonable as he explained that while we had not behaved improperly we certainly had both put ourselves in a dangerous position and taken advantage of the privileges we had as senior pupils. The key point he wanted me to agree to was, given what had happened before Christmas, I should have known better.

I suppose in retrospect he was right.

He then told me my punishment. He’d given Derek the full twelve, as he was both Head Boy and was ultimately responsible for who was invited into his room. He was tempted to give me the same, but had decided that I was slightly less culpable and given I’d not been caned, properly at least, before I would receive eight, exactly in the same way as the six girls before Christmas.

I felt sick. I was finally going to get really whacked. I desperately wanted to beg for mercy, and suspect I would have done were it not for the facts that I was supposed to be a senior prefect who had helped others receive this horror and indeed had of course inflicted a few, lesser, agonies of my own.

That being said, any small part of me that felt sex equality should mean I request the full dozen was out-voted by all the parts that knew I was going to have enough trouble taking what I’d already been awarded.

Slowly I bent over and grabbed the far side of the desk. I gritted my teeth as Katie lifted my skirt out the way and then felt humiliated as she tugged and eased the fabric of my plain white knickers between my buttocks and stood back. To be fair, I could see Mr McKendrick look away until it was clear Katie had finished with me.

I could feel my heart thumping with nerves as the cane touched lightly on the bare flesh. Then

Whoosh, Crack!

I felt the air leave me as the shock of pain infiltrated every fibre of my body. I thought I knew how much worse this cane was going to be than that I’d experienced from Katie, but really I’d had no idea. The burning pain just built and built.

I’d promised myself I was going to take my punishment ‘like a man’; no crying and definitely no standing. Based on that first single stroke it was going to be a tough ask to keep.

A second Whoosh and Crack!

Being better prepared I managed to stay silent. I held on tightly as the pain increased. I remembered Alice and her breathing exercises and wondered if I could do it. Truth was though, without practice I doubted it would work.

A third Crack returned my thoughts to the inflictions on my rear. I had to dig deep to keep quiet.

The fourth, I think, landed low and was utterly agonising. Despite my best efforts an “Nnnnngh” sound escaped me.

I still had half to go. Alice said exhale slowly I remembered, and if nothing else it was something to try and concentrate on.

Mr McKendick took his time allowing I reckon at least twenty seconds between cuts.

As I tried to exhale slowly the air was unceremoniously knocked out of me as the fifth cracked somewhere in the middle of my poor bum.

The sixth was again low and hard and another grunt escaped me. I knew I was struggling.

On the seventh the pain was getting too much and I yelped as the pain increased again. I have no idea why I was not screaming in agony. Only my pride was holding me together, I think.

The last pause was longer and I silently begged him to get on with it. I desperately wanted to get off this desk.

Finally it came cracking down at full force right at the very base of my bottom. Despite being the last and wanting take it quietly, I gave loud yell as my senses were overwhelmed by the pain for the last time.

Vaguely I remembered the need to hold on until allowed to stand. For the first time I felt a tear in my eye as I felt the embarrassment of Katie gently pulling my underwear back over my poor intolerably painful bottom.

Finally she pulled my skirt back and I was allowed to stand.

Cursing silently at my lack of control I wiped the sleeve of my blouse to get rid of a few of the tears I’d not held in and stood with my hands determinedly by my side.

With a final admonishment that he was sorry it had been necessary to punish senior pupils such as Derek and myself, and in future to behave with propriety, I was dismissed.

Apologising once again, I thanked him (don’t ask me why) and departed his office.

Every step back to my room was agony, and even with Katie’s help it took forever for us to get into that sanctuary.

Only then did I let go and cry. I was upset with myself for being so silly as to not consider what others must have thought at me visiting Derek in his room, and humiliated at what had happened. Then there was the utterly overwhelming throbbing that was coming from my rear.

Slowly I stripped my skirt off and eased my knickers down. In the mirror, I could see a mess of lines that I knew would be the subject of much pain in the next few days as well as discussion in the hockey changing rooms. The marks I could see were going to bruise and be an embarrassing reminder for quite a while to come.

Katie gently put some cream on as I lay on my tummy, a position I had essentially no option but to remain in all night!

The next few days were not as bad as I’d feared. After all I was now in the majority! Of the twenty of us, only eight had now not experienced the agony of the rattan impacting our rears, in less than two terms. Of the new boys there were only two out of the fifteen who had so far escaped. I wondered if any of the twenty of us girls would be sitting our A-levels having got through the two years unscathed.

I saw Derek the next day and he clearly was struggling, looking significantly worse than me. The Head had given him twelve blistering strokes, far, far worse than anything he’d ever experienced before and he was still moving very carefully when walking, let alone trying to sit down. Both of us were wriggling uncomfortably as we sat on the prefects’ table at dinner the following evening. I suspect both of us would have liked to compare war wounds, but neither of us knew any safe area to do so, especially now that his study was officially out of bounds to girls. Any meeting he wanted with a girl was to be held in the semi privacy of the small room at the back of the prefects’ common room.

The marks had more or less disappeared by the last week of term, and there were no girls getting into trouble either, until the last weekend before the Easter break when Mary got herself reported to the court, along with a boy called Joe.

Other than rumour I did not hear the full story until the court. Unluckily for the two of them (perhaps luckily as a teacher would undoubtedly have sent them to their housemasters), the incident had been observed by a prefect called Graham, who had reported it.

From what he’d seen, Joe had made some light hearted remark at her and tapped her bottom. Mary had turned furiously and launched a full blooded slap across his face. As Joe recovered, Graham had intervened before any further action took place.

Joe defended himself, while Mary had brought Carol along. A summary was that the tap on the bottom had actually been more of a pinch. Joe had thought it was a joke, but Mary indicated this had been going on for quite a while without Joe getting the hint. Joe reluctantly agreed that Mary had told him to stop in previous weeks, but thought she was just fooling and didn’t really mind.

The discussion between Derek, Tom, Ian and I was quite long, and involved how much each was to blame. Eventually after a debate, which included me saying that a boy should understand that No means NO, it was agreed that both were equally culpable as Mary should have reported the incident rather than retaliating so vigorously. One cannot assault another pupil and expect to get off lightly, no matter what the provocation.

The result was six of the cane each. I was surprised Mary looked so calm about it, almost satisfied, rather than the last time she’d stood in that position.

I was not looking forward to the next evening, given the tribulations of her last caning. However, things took a further turn when Derek and I were summoned to Mr McMendrick’s office late the following morning.

There was a certain amount of trepidation as we did not know the reason. We had kept our canoodling within the required propriety and mainly to the privacy of our favoured walks in the grounds. However, one never knows if our definition of ‘propriety’ matches that of others, and ultimately it was the Head’s definition that mattered.

However, that was not the reason he’d asked to see us. A rumour, overheard by one of the House staff, had come to his attention. Was it true that Mary O’Leary had deliberately set herself up to be caned as a result of being bullied? We both looked blankly at each other. Derek looked at me as I spent much more time in the sixth form common room. Katie and I still spent two evenings a week socialising with the other girls, and some of the boys, as well as doing our prep in there, as well as two evenings in the prefects’ room. However, I had heard no inkling of this story.

The Head then asked us to come back an hour later, after he’d spoken to both Joe and Mary. He requested us not to mention it to anyone for the time being.

An hour later we returned. To our surprise the rumour was true. Apparently Mary’s experiences last November were further juicy tidbits that had escaped the confidentiality of the court. Mary’s tribulations were known, and her extra protection attempt had led to the nickname, “Two Knickers”, which one or two boys apparently now delighted in calling her. Joe was the worst and eventually she had had enough.

Under pressure from the Head she had eventually admitted that she had set herself up in the hope that if she took it properly (her word) then maybe the teasing would stop.

I was astonished that this had been going on for so long and that Mary had been got at so much.

Of course we had no idea which boy had gossiped. All we could say to Mr McKendrick was that it could not have been Katie, Derek or I. We were the only three who knew that Mary had actually had three, rather than two, layers of underwear on that fateful evening.

Our Head was not happy. He felt this was bringing the court system into disrepute. He indicated he was going to consider ways that this could be avoided.

However, for the moment, he had admonished both Joe and Mary individually; deliberately getting oneself caned was unacceptable in his book, and teasing some one till they felt it necessary to do so was equally bad. On reflection he had decided not to adjust their punishments, other than to say to us that we should make sure they really feel it.

As I reflected as we left his office, I suppose that meant we were being encouraged not to go easy on the two of them.

That evening I watched Mary bring up the rear as she joined about a dozen boys in trooping through the common room to wait in the back.

Her face had a very grim determined look as she marched though, glancing at the slipper and two canes on the desk.

She endured the long wait as the various younger miscreants were dealt with. As I waited I hoped that she would get what she wanted from this trial that she had apparently elected to undergo. I prayed that she would stay down for her six.

As usual, my nerves started to flutter as Joe took his punishment. Derek did it himself and clearly made the effort to comply with our Head’s instruction. He took his time and judging by the sound the strokes were very firm. Joe gasped and grunted as the caning proceeded, and looked pretty sorry for himself as he shook our hands at the end.

Finally it was Mary. She came in looking grimly determined, rather than the panic stricken aurora she had given back in November. Having made her apology in a clear voice she walked purposefully behind the screen and, lifting her skirt, lunged over the chair.

There was no need to check her underwear this time. She had chosen a conservatively cut white pair in fairly thin cotton, rather than the usual sports shorts.

I had not had to give any instruction, but said: “Six strokes,” as a reminder.

I saw her hands grip more tightly as she said: “Yes, Amelia.”

It was time to start.

Taking careful aim I whacked it down right across the centre of the target.

She gave a tiny gasp as the effect was felt.

Crack.

The second landed just above. I might have been a little cautious on the first, but the second was as hard as I ever gave, bearing in mind the Headmaster’s instruction.

Another tiny gasp as Mary held on.

The third stroke was just below centre and again, much to my relief she stayed resolutely still and near silent.

I lined the fourth up towards the top of her bottom and whipped another harsh cut down on the target. The gasp was a little more desperate but she held on again.

The fifth I placed towards the lowest part of her rear, just above the line of her knicker leg elastic.

A small grunt escaped her as the impact was felt. She still had her legs firmly locked although her breathing was a bit ragged.

Taking my time, I enjoyed the relief that she was not going to get extra on this occasion. Finally I lined the cane upon the very lowest part of her bottom, and brought the cane down as hard as I could.

This time she gave a loud gasp with the hint of an “O-o-oh!” Instead of jumping up she remained in position for a brief pause before slowly rising and ensuring her skirt was smoothed down. It was all a far cry from the song and dance the last time she had been behind this screen.

She went round slowly shaking hands with almost a relieved expression before exiting.

However, as some of the prefects made to leave, Derek forestalled them. He reminded them that the court and its punishments were not to be the subject of gossip. He pointed out that while Mary and Joe may have deserved their punishments, the root cause was a loose mouth or mouths in the room. He warned them that the Head would be coming down like a ton of bricks in any future cases.

I interrupted him and said that those who had gossiped owed it to themselves to make an exception and ensure that the fact that Mary had taken her punishment as bravely as was possible became as common knowledge as the results of her first visit. I looked slowly around the room with what I hoped was a pretty steely glare, and saw more than one lad look down with guilty face. I suspect her whacking had been rumoured by not just one but quite a few of them!

The following day, Friday, was the start of the Easter break. I had only one date planned over the holiday with Derek as he was going to be in full study mode for the exams which were getting close.

When I got home I found out that our term reports included notification of any canings received and mum and dad insisted on the full story behind my whacking. Happily they were reasonably easy about it, though my mother could not resist a dig along the lines of: “Well I did warn you!”

The End

© Joanna Jones 2010