Part four of the series and the last to be transferred from the old site.

By Joanna Jones

Apart from a very ‘romantic’ day with Derek and a brief long weekend away to South Devon with my parents, there was little to comment on during the Easter Holiday. Then it was back to school again, more or less now in my mind a second home. One of the first things that happened was Mr McKendrick had a meeting with his senior prefects. He also invited Katie.

He had clearly been exercised by a number of issues revolving around what had happened to Mary. In short he was clearly deeply unhappy that she had been teased and that a prefect (or prefects) who could never realistically be identified had shown such loose tongues. There was some discussion between us all about how this could be resolved. Finally it was agreed that all future punishments were to happen in the smaller ante-room, with only Derek, Tom and Ian present for a boy, and Katie and myself in the case of a girl. The same rule could be adapted if it was a prefect who had misreported.

The second item was that he was that evening going to announce the appointment of the new prefects from the lower sixth. The tradition was apparently that two thirds of the prefects were from the upper sixth and one third the lower. As the exams were now approaching the upper sixth would get reduced duties with new appointments in the lower sixth being made now rather than in September when they (for me ‘we’ of course) entered the upper. He also would be appointing the next head boy and the (boy) senior prefects elect.

The system was that teachers made the suggestions and he led the senior staff in making the decisions. The new prefects would include two further girls and also, for the first time, two boys who had directly entered the sixth form. Apparently he had consulted Derek before Easter and this was a suggestion of his, as in previous years they would not have had an opportunity, but it seemed unfair if girls were able to be promoted, but not boys.

I smiled inwardly as Derek had espoused something I had commented on as being rather unfair; a smile that grew when the Head acknowledged that Derek said the idea had been originally mine.

The key issue for us was to help the new prefects settle in, and for Derek, Tom and Ian to help the new Head Boy-elect and Senior Prefects-elect understand their roles. Derek, though not yet having the names, had half a revised duty roster already in place and needed to get it fully together over the week ahead. With the A-level examinations starting in the second half of May there was only about four or five weeks to go. He did not tell us who was being offered the positions though, to ensure no rumours got out beforehand, even through implicit looks.

Thus that first Monday evening back, unless on duty, all the prefects were in the common room, and the only topic initially was who would be joining them, and which of those prefects in the lower sixth would be Head Boy next year. The evening was an exciting one as one-by-one the boys came in from their individual meetings with the Head with smiles and their new badges. It was nearly ten o’clock when the last two, Grace O’Flynn and Liz Hastings (my former dorm mate) arrived in the room, the two new girls on the team.

Liz, who was last, had a note for Derek to read. To whoops from the rest of us three boys were wanted by the Headmaster. When they returned (to more congratulatory whoops) we found Brian was to be Head Boy next year, while the other two, James and Benjamin (though normally he was Ben to all of us), were to be the senior prefects.

While I am sure there were some disappointed lower sixth formers elsewhere, and perhaps from one or two of the lower sixth prefects who might have thought they had a chance at Head Boy or Senior Prefect, it certainly was a bit of a party atmosphere in our common room as the new members were introduced. Derek gave a brief introduction and told them they would not officially have any duties till next week, he then tried to get a feel for good pairings for those duties where that was expected.

The following evening, the six boy senior prefects (including those “elect”) and myself spent most of our time in the ante-room thrashing out a new roster. This was complicated by having to compare the A-level examination timetable with some of the duties to ensure that those sitting one subject or another in the upper sixth did not get duties in the three days before any exam. All lower sixth exams were after half term, and the deal was that lower sixth students should make informal swaps, making a note in the duty roster notebook, just in case of a problem. Missing your duty was a quick way to get a sore backside from the Head Boy, of course, or a visit to the Headmaster to explain yourself, but it was almost unheard of.

The first court with the new system only had a couple of boys, given we had only been back a couple of days, and was over very quickly. However, Derek took advantage of the time and herded the new prefects into the ante-room with us senior prefects and we gave them an induction session. It was a bit more formal than Katie and I got, describing the different duties, the reporting procedure, and of course the penalty system for mis-reporting and the more informal procedure if one failed in one’s responsibility in some way. Most of the boys knew the deal and did not look worried. However, one of the two direct entry boys and both Grace and Liz looked a little more concerned. As I looked at their reactions I recalled my own feelings back in November when I realised that there were significant additional risks in taking the role.

The second court after Easter gave me my first full experience of the new system. It was an experience that turned out to be rather ‘fuller’ than I would have liked.

It was the lights out issue again, though thankfully no boys were involved this time. On the first Thursday back it had been Gail Fisher’s birthday and her dorm-mates, Betty Johnson, Fran Jenkins and Olive Smith-Harper had had a ‘small’ celebration with her.

It was about 1.30 a.m. when Katie and I were roused by a knock on the door. It was one of the staff for the house I was in, an assistant in the support staff. She said there was a bit of noise coming from a room somewhere in the corridor above hers and she was having difficulty sleeping. She felt happier coming to us than going to see the housemaster.

It was nominally my house so, telling Katie to go back to sleep, I padded down the corridor and found the room with the light glinting underneath the door. I could hear loud giggles from inside.

Tapping on the door, I entered without waiting and looked around. The four colleagues were sitting on the floor with some paper cups and what looked like a bottle of coke. They looked a bit giggly and flushed. Despite strongly suspecting that the coke might not be all that it seemed I made the snap decision not to investigate.

“Sorry girls, but it’s way, way too late. You’ll need to explain yourselves next Wednesday at the court.”

The happy faces that had fallen slightly once they saw my face fell further as they took in that news.

“But it’s Gail’s birthday.” Olive replied rather desperately.

Having witnessed her caning by the Head at Christmas, I was not surprised she already looked near tears. Fran, who I suspect was thinking of her father’s reaction more than anything I could do, was turning to a rather pasty, sick look very quickly. While I was sympathetic to their plight, it was a pity they had not both considered the predicament they would put me in beforehand.

Looking at Olive I replied: “Gail’s birthday ended the best part of two hours ago. I was woken by a complaint so I have no option but to do something. If you prefer we can all speak to our housemaster and you can explain why you are all sitting around drinking this coke at this time on a school night.”

I had picked up the coke bottle as I said this. Despite being tempted I did not smell it. I hoped they were sober enough to work out that I was being lenient here, as I suspect Mr Carmichael, our housemaster would certainly try to investigate the bottle content more rigorously. Further, he was likely to be less lenient than the court even if the bottle contents were unadulterated.

After many worried looks, it was Betty who spoke. “Have it your way!” She retorted rather grumpily.

I opened the window and poured the coke onto the grass below before turning the light off on my way out. It was still strange to be telling off girls the same age as me, I reflected as I returned to bed.

The following morning it was Betty who caught up with me. She started by thanking me for not going straight to Mr Carmichael. However, her main point was to say that the party was all her idea and could I not let the others off. She was particularly concerned for Fran, as (as I already knew) her father had promised her ‘something to really remember’ if she got a third caning that year.

I pointed out that as I was reporting them I could not determine either their guilt or punishment, but that she would need to make her case in the court. I also said that they had all partaken voluntarily in the party and, even if persuaded, that meant they had to accept the consequences.

Not very reassuring as I knew every lights out issue had led to the cane, except for a couple involving much younger boys, both times ‘first timers’ and the time after lights out had been pretty marginal.

Wednesday came round quickly enough, and the second court with the new rules. For the first time the new lads joined the ‘bench’, though for the first few meetings they were to only observe. The biggest difference was that the screen had gone, as canings were now of course to be carried out in the ante-room at the back (including mine if Derek, Tom and Ian determined I was in the wrong in making a report on the girls. I felt that was highly unlikely and had not bothered changing into my sports shorts just in case this time.

There was the usual smattering of boys from different years before the four girls entered nervously. There were no extra supporters unless you count that they were very obviously supporting each other as they clustered together in front of the senior boys. As I was reporting, I was not involved in judging the case, of course.

None of them queried my account. I again did not say by whom I’d been woken, other than it was a member of the school staff.

Betty was first to speak, she made an impassioned case for her to take full responsibility for the party.

The others said nothing. Derek asked each of the others if they had ultimately willingly gone alone with Betty. None of them could, or indeed tried to, deny it.

As Derek made to retire to consider, Ian suddenly asked Betty: “There was something else in the coke wasn’t there?”

Betty’s blush answered the question eloquently and Tom and Ian looked meaningfully at each other. I looked at Derek, who immediately dropped his eyes to the desk.

Ian persisted. “Are you going to answer the question?”

Betty eventually replied: “I’d rather not.”

Ian turned to me and a chill went down my spine as I realised his next question would be effectively putting me on trial. “Amelia, did you check the coke?”

“No. I did not see the necessity.” I replied.

I squirmed as he asked: “And you did not ask them either?”

“No.” I confirmed.

“And what happened to it then?”

I am sure I was now flushing as I felt the pressure as I reluctantly answered: “I poured it out the window to emphasise that the revelry should now stop.”

It was at this point Derek jumped in. “So I suppose as far as this case is concerned we now have no evidence one way or the other.” He gave me a look that was far from those I normally received from my boyfriend as he retired with Tom, Ian and the three others.

I felt very small. As we waited I heard whispers around the room; I was sure they were about me. I wandered over to Katie as the wait went on.

“I think I’m in trouble,” I whispered to her very quietly.

She put her hand in mine and gave it a squeeze. There was an irony in that the four girls standing a little way from me did entirely independently the same thing as suddenly the six boys appeared from the ante-room. It was a gesture of camaraderie that the boys could never make with each other.

Was it my imagination, or did Derek seem consciously not to look at me? My worry increased.

Looking at the four girls clustered in front of them he started by telling them that he suspected they were extremely lucky that consumption of some form of alcohol was not on the list! If that had been the case then they would have referred the matter to Mr McKendrick. To Betty, the instigator, he awarded six – let off two from the maximum for being a first timer. Fran and Olive had both been in trouble with lights out (in a friends’ dorm) before Christmas, he therefore awarded five each. Finally to Gail he awarded three.

I dully noticed Fran and Olive were both in tears as they left.

As the court broke up I felt sick as Derek asked for a chat in the ante-room.

My fears were not helped by overhearing Tom whispering to Katie that perhaps she should hang around for a while, as I walked to the door.

Derek was alone and pacing the room. He was clearly upset.

“I think you knew there was something in that coke, but didn’t want to know.” He said, bluntly, before continuing. “That’s what Ian and Tom think too!”

Rather than looking him in the face I found myself gazing at the floor. I couldn’t answer.

Eventually he took my silence as an affirmative. “So now what are we supposed to do?” He asked. “Alcohol is a no comprise issue, you know that!” The frustration at having to talk to me like that, his girlfriend, was perceptibly oozing out of him.

Looking at him briefly I miserably whispered: “I don’t know, I am sorry.”

Derek resumed his pacing then stopped. “Normally this is the sort of thing Mr McKendrick would want to know about, but,” he paused, thinking before taking a deep breath. “I need to talk to Tom and Ian. Can you stand over there?”

Feeling sick, I did as I was asked and stood on the further side of the room and stared out the window at the darkening late April sky as Derek went to the door and called them in. They chatted very quietly and I could not make out what they said.

“Amelia.” It was Tom who called me across.

I walked nervously towards them. “Derek has asked Ian and I to decide what to do, as he feels he is too close to make an objective judgment.”

I nodded seriously and waited.

“We all are supposed to know that alcohol is normally something we can’t turn a blind eye to, and that goes even more for us as senior prefects, who set an example in our judgment for the rest. So…”

Please don’t drag me to the Head, I prayed silently.

“Given this is the first time your judgment has been called seriously into question as a prefect, we think you should either take eight of the cane, or go to Mr McKendrick.” He paused before saying: “Sorry.”

I knew I could not go to the Head and admit I’d let him down. I could say, of course, he did not make much of an issue about the alcohol back at the infamous incident after the Christmas Dance, but of course I knew the rules and there had been a much more serious matter at hand then.

I looked at them. Tom and Ian stared sympathetically back. Derek stared resolutely at the floor.

“I suppose I was tired, and I certainly made a foolish mistake.” I replied (a feeble excuse really). “I’ll take the cane.”

Derek looked up at me and mouthed: “Sorry,” as he left with the other two, leaving me alone with my thoughts, which revolved mainly around the prospect of my second ‘eighter’. If Grace and Liz had any hopes that girls got special treatment then this should disillusion them, I thought bleakly.

As expected, a minute later I saw a shocked Katie come in. She looked at me rather sympathetically. “Tom says you’ve agreed to take a full eight?”

I nodded grabbed a chair and turned it. It seemed easier to slip my skirt off and I unclipped the clasp at the back, then, unzipping it, pushed it over my hips and let the garment fall to pool around my ankles. Bending over I felt the stretch in my legs and no doubt the fabric of my creamy white knickers was doing the same over the target. I wished I’d considered this possibility and put on my maroon sports pants.

Katie lined up behind me.

A tap.

A whoosh.

Then a crack.

I gritted my teeth. It was not as bad as the Head’s but certainly bad enough. Katie had certainly improved her technique since the two strokes she’d given me in training almost half a year ago.

Grimly I bore it as Katie gave me seven further blistering stokes. She landed the last two hard, not quite on top of each other, at the base of my buttocks, an area unprotected by even the meagre thickness of my underwear, getting a brief squeal out of me on the last one.

Gasping, I stood up and gave my knickers a brief rub, probing the very sore corrugations on my rear through the thin fabric. Abstractly, I knew Katie had done a good job, rather too good for my comfort anytime soon!

Crouching, as I found my skirt was sore but I soon had it back up and in place. As I had done to her before, Katie apologised to me, and I of course responded that it was my fault and I deserved it. When she opened the door Derek came in and Katie left us.

Derek said sympathetically: “I’m sorry, but I had no choice.”

I grimaced. “You did, but the other was much worse. Thanks, and to Tom and Ian too.”

After giving him a long hug, then a brief kiss, I walked into the main room and, with as much dignity and nonchalance as I could muster, bade my colleagues good night. Grace and Liz looked very slack jawed as they watched me shuffle casually (if such a thing is possible) out. Back in my room Katie had the job of applying some cream to her handiwork. We had now both done each other, and it was an interesting discussion as we talked about our feelings in having to administer such pain to one’s dorm mate and closest friend.

The following day it was clear that, as far as I was concerned, the other prefects regarded the incident as over. Out of only curiosity Derek asked me privately why I’d turned a blind eye. To be honest I could not be sure, but I had indeed just been woken and considered the girls my friends. Finally I remembered Fran’s bottom after Christmas as a result of her father’s caning, with her comment that he’d promised her worse if it happened again. Not that it made any difference to that either way; she was going to get her third school whacking and it would be recorded. Gratefully I remembered my thrashing from Katie was unofficial and hence unrecorded, so I would not need to explain that to my parents.

While things were over for me, there were four girls who had a day of trepidation waiting for their trip back that evening. I sought the girls out as three had yet to experience the procedure, and Fran of course needed to know about the changes. That I had been whacked, given the care I was sitting down with, was not difficult to tell and they put two and two together and thanked me. All I said was I would never be doing it again! They all pretty much knew what to do, so I soon left them to their thoughts. Olive was clearly having difficulty keeping calm and I hoped the others would manage to stiffen her resolve.

With a still mildly throbbing backside, certainly I felt it with sudden movements, and four to cane, for the first time I decided to ask Katie to share the duty. Derek had no objection so I decided to deal with Betty as the most serious case and Olive, given her reaction to being thrashed before Christmas. Katie would therefore deal with Gail and Fran.

Twelve boys and four girls filed in at eight o’clock that evening. It had been a busy court. They were lined up facing the wall with their hands on their heads and told not to move until they were called, unless they wanted extra. It was going to be a long wait for the girls, and especially Betty who, being the sixth former in the group sentenced to most strokes, would be last.

I watched as the first boy was called and gave his apology. He then was escorted to the ante-room where six dull slaps of the slipper could just be heard. Grimacing, he had the task of shaking our hands before making good his escape.

The door did a reasonable job of blocking the sound. Thus, while the slap of the slipper was just audible, the sound of the cane did not carry through nor the senior prefects’ instructions as the boys received their whackings. However, there were occasional loud yells that punctuated the quiet of the room. I was certainly glad not to be in the queue waiting, as the imagination of what is causing the screams can be more febrile than reality, especially knowing you shortly will be getting a similar experience.

Olive seemed to be of the same view, and was clearly getting progressively more agitated. I could see Graham, the prefect tasked to watch over those waiting, frowning as she wriggled her hands on her head and clearly was trying to glance out of the side of her eye. Eventually he spoke quietly to her and told her to stand still. Thankfully he did not give her one of the dark pink pieces of card he had. Getting them meant one extra stroke for each received.

Olive did manage to still a bit and the rest of the boys’ punishments passed uneventfully.

During the caning of the boy miscreants I realised that Brian, James and Ben must have all had their training from the Head, as the six of them mixed up who the three were going next door for each case. I made a mental note that it was always three that went through, and wondered if I should suggest that either Grace or Liz should act as a second witness for a girl’s caning in the future. It was not something for tonight though!

Finished, Derek, Brian and Tom, one of whom must have caned the last fourth former (caught running in the corridor between classes so fast he knocked another boy over), sat down. Katie and I were now in control.

I called Gail.

Nervously she turned around and gave her apology, then followed Katie into the ante-room with me bringing up the rear.

During this, Olive had been fidgeting again, clearly turning slightly to glimpse Gail. She seemed unable to control herself, I thought, with a dread about what was coming. My fears for her increased as Graham’s patience finally ran out. As I closed the door of the ante-room my last sight was her receiving a pink slip of paper to hold in her hair. As I considered the prospect ahead with her, the particular sickness that had been with me when I caned Mary for the first time was back.

However, there was the need to concentrate on the matter at hand, so to speak. Gail was looking rather petrified now that her time had come.

She looked at me non-plussed when Katie picked up one of the canes and told her to take her skirt up, or off, then bend over the chair.

“When there are quite a few in trouble, it is normal to share the duty. Katie will be giving you your punishment.” I said as matter of factually as I could.

Gail looked at Katie with a new found fear as her hands went to her skirt. After a moment’s apparent indecision at the clasp she curtsied slightly as she dropped her hands further, grabbed the hem and pulled it up, bending over the chair as she did so.

Her maroon knickers were part covered by her blouse tails and Katie made to go to lift them out of the way.

Quickly I lunged forward, caught her hand and shook my head. She looked embarrassed as she remembered the Head’s instruction to always request the person to adjust their own attire in such cases.

“Lift your blouse tails out if the way.” Katie ordered.

As she did so, Katie also requested she get her hands lower on the front legs of the chair, and straighten her legs.

Gail, clearly reluctantly, complied, stretching her pants tight over her rather full bottom as Katie lined up her first stroke.

I watched Katie slowly raise the weapon, grit her teeth, then administer a hard stroke to the middle of the maroon garment.

After a brief pause, Gail gave a quiet yelp as the pain registered.

It was interesting to watch Katie in action, as previously I had been on the receiving end, hence in no position to examine her technique. On the two other occasions, when she had whacked Paul and Frank over their trousers, my mind had been elsewhere.

She was intently concentrating on what she was doing as she paused before raising the rod once more and thrashing it down a bit lower. Her hair and skirt both swished around as her body twisted into the stroke.

Gail managed to control her reactions to a mild gasp.

The final cut landed lower still and was harder. Gail gave a small wail as she stood, hands immediately going to her rear. While dry-eyed she clearly was still coming to terms with the stinging pain.

After a pause she got her skirt sorted and shook our hands before opening the door to go slowly round the boys, and of course Grace and Liz, who clearly found the formality of the procedure more than a little embarrassing when it was one of their sixth form female colleagues.

As she did so, my eyes were on Olive who was already in tears, and now had certainly more than one pink card in her hands, which were clasping her hair.

Briefly I wondered whether to call Fran first, but decided that was likely only to make things worse rather than better.

After Gail left, I called her name: “Olive.”

Ever so slowly and reluctantly she turned round dropping her hands to clasp them in front of her skirt. I could see that she was fidgeting with three bits of paper, meaning she was up to eight strokes.

Olive started her apology, but then lost her way, burst into loud sobs and ran for the door!

She didn’t make it, as one of the boys blocked her exit.

I caught up with her and said simply to the boy: “Enough, I will deal with this.”

I think he was surprised at my authority and gave way. I escorted her out, and Katie and Derek made to follow. I suggested both she and Derek go back and let the other two girls at least take their hands off their head, given there was going to be a delay. They somewhat reluctantly did as I suggested.

“Where are we going?” Sobbed Olive. “Please, not Mr McKendrick.”

“I was thinking of Mrs Fleming.” I replied. Mrs Fleming was our biology teacher come hockey coach, kind but fair by reputation and if anyone could sort this mess out it was her.

Praying she was in, we walked to her flat which was on the school campus.

I was glad it was her and not her husband, who was also a teacher at the school, that opened the door. She was clearly surprised to see us and listened briefly with a serious face as I gave a brief account. She suggested she have a chat with Olive, and that I come back in half an hour.

More slowly, I walked back in the nearly dark evening light to the main building.

As I re-entered the prefects’ common room, I saw that Fran and Betty still were facing the wall but their hands were clasped in front of them. Both briefly glanced at me, but no one made an issue of it.

I think the prefects wanted to know what I’d done, but I had no intention of telling them all. Walking to the ante-room I called the senior three boys (not the lower sixth senior prefects elect) and Katie, and in the privacy of the smaller space, told them what I had arranged.

I doubt the boys were happy at my action, which should have been to take her straight to Mr McKendrick, but I pre-empted that, making it clear this time the consequences of my actions I would only discuss, and if necessary accept, from him.

With little else to say, we exited back to the main room.

“Fran, it is your turn,” I called. “Betty, put your hands back on your head.”

I watched as Betty obediently complied, again reflecting on the irony that she was my peer, and indeed a couple of months older than me.

Fran meanwhile had turned round. Pale faced she gave a clear apology before following Katie into the room. I closed the door behind us.

Like Gail before her she double-took as she realised it was to be Katie who did the ‘honours’. However, she resignedly lifted her skirt and blouse out of the way and got into position, head well down.

Katie gave her five very firm whacks, progressing down her maroon clad rear, that were perceptibly harder than those Gail had received.

Fran took them more or less silently, and stood slowly at the end, giving her bottom a mild rub over her now adjusted skirt before shaking our hands. Her last comment was a wry: “I am so not looking forward to half term!” Before she went to the door to shake the others’ hands and leave.

That left Betty. She took a deep breath as she was called and gave a firm apology, before walking across to the ante-room where Katie and I had chosen this time to wait by the door.

Betty chose to drop her skirt, revealing a pair of thin white knickers. As Katie and I looked at each other in mild surprise, she commented a little nervously: “This was really my fault. It was my choice, to show my penance to the others.”

Not really understanding her logic, I told her to bend over the chair.

Setting her teeth, she did so gripping low down to leave her knickers tightly stretched across her bottom.

Thwack.

Normally I tried not to be too hard on the first one, given the shock it is to receive the sting for the first time, but since she felt responsible I played along with her view and put most of my full effort into it.

A brief exclamation, almost of surprised realisation of the sting in the cane, escaped her lips.

However, she remained essentially silent for the next four blows whipped down hard by me over her stretched buttocks.

After a pause I thrashed the final stoke right at the base of her buttocks on what was bare flesh, given the cut of her underwear, using all of my full effort.

A brief scream as she stood. She danced on the spot a bit and rubbed her hands on the afflicted part of her anatomy for quite a while before gaining control of herself and pulling the skirt up. She was dry eyed as she shook our hands giving what seemed like a small, almost enigmatic, smile, of relief it was over, or something else? She then exited, shaking the remaining prefects’ hands on the way out of course.

As exams were very much looming, many of the older boys went immediately to do some revision or prep in the ante-room as soon as it was vacated. Katie and I chose to get a coffee along with Grace and Liz; there was quarter of an hour yet before I needed to return to Mrs Fleming.

However, before Katie and I could ask the two new girls for their reactions to the evening’s events Derek joined me, and commented that I was breaking all the rules in not taking Olive to Mr McKendrick. I pointed out she needed someone to calm her down before she took any punishment and a male head teacher, who had given her a severe eight strokes on more or less a bare backside a few months previously, was unlikely to be the correct choice.

Derek eventually shrugged and said: “There were no other issues then?”

Before I could say no, Katie said: “Well Amelia had to warn me not to lift Gail’s blouse tails out of the way and I expect she plans to discuss it with me later. Otherwise, no.”

In all the excitement I had forgotten about that.

Derek looked a bit surprised at this admission, but looked at me and said: “And what are you proposing?”

“It was pretty minor and Katie does not get the experience that the rest of us get, so my inclination is a warning to be careful in future.” I replied firmly.

Derek considered before asking: “Katie, what about you?”

“You’re the Head Boy.” She replied.

Derek nodded and looked curiously at her before saying: “As Amelia says, it’s minor enough. I leave it to you two to discuss.”

With that he gave me a kiss as Katie looked pointedly away. Grace and Liz looked a little embarrassed too. We had now been going out for long enough that I didn’t really care about my friends’ reactions though!

Excusing myself and Katie from Grace and Liz I drew her to one side and whispered to her: “I thought you were almost asking him to get me to whack you?”

“I should have known better though, shouldn’t I?” She replied. “Also Tom told me Derek’s predecessor as Head Boy gave Derek four once, after he became Head Boy elect, for yanking a boy’s shirt tails out the way right at the end of term last July. I don’t know if Gail saw me, but if she did and it got out then both of us might be asked about it.”

“You think she wants to talk about it?”

“No,” replied Katie. “But Fran and Betty may well compare notes with her and there are very few secrets in this school!” Then she said with an odd grimace “Also, perhaps it’s better to use me to let Grace and Liz know you can’t let them off if they make a mistake.”

“And if the roles were reversed, what would you propose to do?” I asked, hoping she would just agree to a warning.

I noted with some satisfaction that she paused for quite a while, as I was not comfortable with this whole conversation.

Eventually she whispered: “Two strokes?”

I could not believe she was actually asking to be whacked. However.

“Very well, I’ll arrange for a cane to be in our room either tonight or tomorrow night. If you still feel the same way then, then we’ll do it after lights out. However, if you do feel what you did deserves a whacking then I think I am going to give you four like Derek got. Also, if do you choose to take it, I will leave it to you to let Grace and Liz know confidentially what happened, though since they heard me get eight yesterday, I doubt they will have any illusions about what it means not to do your duty!”

With that we returned to briefly listen to Grace and Liz’s reactions to the punishments. Neither having experienced the cane, they did not really know what to make of the pained looks on many of the boy’s faces, and indeed had found shaking the girls’ hands very strange, given that they were the same age. Katie’s comment was: “You’ll get used to it!”

Looking at my watch I saw it was time to return to Mrs Fleming’s flat.

However, as I got to the main door to go out and across to the building where her flat was, I met Mr McKendrick, who seemed to be waiting for me.

“Ah! Amelia, can I see you in my office?”

“Err, I have an appointment with Mrs Fleming.” I replied.

My heart missed a beat when he said: “I know, she contacted me.”

His office was very close and soon he was sitting at his desk. Being unsure of the situation, given Derek’s concern, I stood.

He gestured me to sit down and started by saying: “It seems you had a bit of drama at the court. I was surprised you did not bring the girl to me.”

I was a little flustered at the question, for question it was, and rather passionately laid into my argument that Olive was clearly very distressed and needed to be calmed down before deciding what to do. I also pointed out she had left, but I could not spend a lot of time on the matter, as it would not be fair on the two girls who had still been waiting for their punishments. In my desire to justify my actions I blurted out at the end that I could make mistakes as a prefect, and indeed currently was suffering the consequences of a misjudgment, but felt strongly I had done the right thing on this occasion.

Looking at it now, I think Mr McKendrick was quite taken aback by the vigour of my argument.

However, his first question was a shocked: “You let Derek cane you?”

Totally distracted, I realised he had visions of a boy caning his girlfriend’s knickers and replied, rather abruptly: “Of course not! Tom and Ian suggested the consequence and Katie did it. Derek is absolutely honourable.”

“Apologies, Amelia. I think you need to take a deep breath! I won’t ask more about your indiscretion.”

I took one and that calmed me a little. “Sorry, Sir. I suppose I got a little carried away.”

“Indeed,” he said. “There are very few teachers, let alone pupils, who would speak so directly to me, as you tend to do.”

“Sorry, sir.” I interrupted, but he held up his hand; while not exactly smiling he did not look angry.

“No you are fine. Actually I appreciate your candour, and you always keep it polite. I sometimes wish more would be as honest in their views with me.”

I blushed at the presumed compliment.

“When Mrs Fleming phoned I admit to being a little annoyed that you had disturbed her. However, based on our discussion, it is clear that she thinks, and I have to agree now, you made a wise decision. Olive was in no state to face me by all accounts.”

It seems to me better that a female member of staff deals with this, and Mrs Fleming is the obvious candidate. However, she has not caned before nor does she have one. I believe Olive has now resigned herself to her punishment, so the proposal is you show Mrs Fleming how it’s done. Can you do that?”

My mouth went rather dry. I nervously said: “I think so, headmaster. What exactly do you want me to do?”

“Assuming Olive holds herself together, then the suggestion is she gets the eight strokes that she is due. Normally I add extra and use a heavier cane if a pupil does not take a court punishment. In this case I think the best will be to give it on the bare which will convey to Miss Smith-Harper the disappointment in failing to take her punishment. It also allows Mrs Fleming to see what she is doing, and with no males present that should not pose any issue. I am also proposing you use a housemaster’s cane, while for Mrs Fleming the normal prefect’s cane would be appropriate as it is safer for a first time. I suggest you give her four then let Mrs Fleming do the remaining four. You need to be careful, Amelia, as the housemaster’s cane is both heavier and longer.

I nodded as I considered this turn of events. To my knowledge no prefect had ever used the heavier cane I was being asked to apply to Olive’s naked backside. “And if she does not hold herself together?” I asked nervously.

“Then she can opt for a suspension. I expect Mrs Fleming will have explained that to Olive by now, or be held down again, with some penalty of course.”

A few minutes later I found myself walking to Mrs Fleming’s house with both a prefect’s and a housemaster’s cane in my hands.

I was glad that I was neither seen, nor that the implements were intended for my consumption.

Mrs Fleming met me at the door and indicated I should leave the canes in the hallway. I hung them on one of the coat hooks next to the door and was mildly surprised that Mrs Fleming moved her long coat over the top before inviting me into her living room.

Olive looked significantly calmer, though very red-eyed, sitting on the sofa, where Mrs Fleming sat next to her, leaving me to the armchair placed at an angle next to Mrs Fleming’s end of the sofa.

What took the next while was a long chat in which Olive apologetically more or less explained her fears and actions to me. Bottom line was she knew she had made a fool of herself and a caning was better than the humiliation of her father, a former pupil, picking her up to take her home for two weeks. That was to say nothing of the return to a room with dorm mates who had been caned for their part in the same adventure. She had resolved to try to be brave.

Mrs Fleming had clearly outlined the punishment already and, after a visit to the bathroom at Mrs Fleming’s suggestion, I now knew why the canes had been covered. Olive returned and slipped off her blazer and skirt, then bent over a chair Mrs Fleming had fetched from the kitchen.

While Olive had been out I had gone through the procedure as best and as briefly as I could, and we’d rearranged things in the rather tight room to give enough space to swing. Fortunately both of us were right handed. Mrs Fleming looked rather nervous at the prospect.

Olive must have taken her knickers off in the bathroom as it was her bared bottom that was now thrust in the air. While breathing deeply she was at least in control of herself.

Popping out I brought in the two canes and passed the shorter rod to the teacher, who flexed it absently as I took a stance to Olive’s side.

“The first four are to be from me, Olive. I need you to hold tight. Are you ready?”

A whispered: “Yes,” and I placed the cane gently as high as I dared on her buttocks. I was not going to use full force on the first strike, and the top of the buttocks being the most vulnerable I had good excuse for that, especially given the longer, still as yet a little unwieldy, cane I was holding.

Slowly I raised it and with a swish it thwacked down about just over two thirds of the way up the buttocks.

After all the tribulations of the last hour or so I was surprised she took it with little more than a gasp, and very relieved she remained gripping the chair legs, as a the line reddened in front of my eyes. Glancing at Mrs Fleming I saw a reluctant fascination as she witnessed the effect of the stroke on Olive’s skin.

The second was a bit harder and landed an inch lower. Another gasp. She was taking this much better than I had feared.

I decided my last two needed to be full force and whacked the cane down right in the middle of her bottom. The cane’s whistle through the air was lower in tone as it arced down landing with a louder thwip. I was getting the hang of this more severe implement!

Olive gave a small wail and wiggled her hips as the line formed.

The final stroke, slightly lower again was equally hard, and elicited another cry from the victim.

I stood out of the way and Mrs Fleming nervously took my place. Olive took the opportunity to rather desperately wriggle her legs to assuage the pain and her feet parted slightly as a result. Modesty is not an issue after the first stroke or two, as I well knew.

Mrs Fleming took her stance to the left and, using signing (out of sight of Olive’s head, which was probably looking at the floral print on the kitchen chair cushion in any case) I indicated she needed to move round, (so the cane would strike both buttocks simultaneously, and ideally the nearer buttock slightly first) and a little further away (to eliminate wrap around risk). Aiming in the middle of the unblemished lower region of Olive’s hindquarters, she raised the cane slowly then, clenching her jaw, I watched her whip the rod firmly across the bottom.

Olive gave a squeal as testament to the effort that Mrs Fleming had made. It was certainly a lot better than my first attempt, back in November.

Steadying herself, she waited briefly before repeating the exercise slightly lower. Another squeal from Olive, and she was beginning to breathe more raggedly. The cumulative pain was clearly getting to her, but at least she was staying put!

Two stokes to go. The seventh created a line in the gap between the lowest of mine and Mrs Fleming’s first effort. Olive gave a scream of: “No-o-oh,” but held on, as our biology teacher delivered her hardest blow yet.

For the last stroke she took aim very low and I indicated quickly that a little higher would be better as the teacher glanced at me one final time.

A high pitched whistle and resounding thwip as the final stroke landed with Mrs Fleming’s full effort behind it, and bang on target right at the base of the buttocks.

A very loud yell from Olive as she stood bolt upright and clutched her behind, wriggling and rubbing it to assuage the pain. Tears were silently running down her cheeks.

After a minute or so she got her skirt and pulled it on, stuttering another apology and thanks for our patience, especially to Mrs Fleming for relieving her of the need to pay another visit to our Headmaster’s office.

Leaving the canes in her flat, I helped Olive back to her dorm. Although in pain she clearly was relieved to have seen it through. I detoured off to the prefects’ common room, in part to fill in the record, having been the only witness to the punishment being completed. It was also an opportunity for a smooch with Derek on the sofa before going to bed.

I was also on lights out duty, giving me the opportunity to pick up a cane and take it back to the room without anyone’s knowledge by arranging to be last out of the common room.

Katie looked at me and the cane rather pensively as I came in. “I think we all have to take responsibility so, yes, I feel the same way.” She said.

I had really had enough of the cane for one night, but I whacked it down, not especially hard given the situation, four times on her pyjama clad rear, which she took more or less silently. I told her the remainder of her punishment was to return the cane the following morning.

As I lay in bed I thought maybe she was right. If Gail did mention it, it would just lead to more questions about my reluctance to award a punishment, and the eight stripes adorning my hindquarters that were still painful reminder on that front. Whatever the case, both of us now found sleeping on our back rather too uncomfortable!

Katie was up very early to get the cane back before the boys were moving about, bringing the rather eventful week’s corporal punishment to an end.

The event that happened the following week was perhaps that which is seared on my mind more than any other from my time boarding.

It was the Tuesday and the new prefects were now picking up their duties. Grace was on a stair duty when a boy rushed down carelessly knocking another boy off his feet, who fell down a couple of stairs and landed on the mid-landing. He picked himself up and the older boy apologized. Grace by this point had climbed the stairs to the landing and told the older boy off, but then let him go after checking the younger lad was okay. Unfortunately for her, Ben, one of the two new senior prefects, had witnessed the event and, as Grace should have known from induction, running on the stairs, let along knocking someone else over, was one of those no discretion issues for court referral, given the danger.

The first I knew of all this was when Liz knocked on my door that evening, about an hour after lights out, looking rather desperate. The look on her face was sufficient to wipe any bleariness out of my and, I presume, Katie’s eyes.

“Amelia, I, er, we need your help. Something horrible has happened.” She said urgently.

With that she started down the corridor, turning to see that we were following and said: “It’s Grace, she’s, she’s, well, it’s awful.”

I wondered what possibly could have happened as Liz opened the door to the new, two bedded dorm they now shared.

Grace was lying loosely curled on one side shaking, and desperately hugging her soft toy, a brown bear. Many of us had such old teddies with us, though most sat in our cupboards or on our desk, as I found out did hers normally. She was red eyed, but now way beyond that, and seemed to be shivering, though it was certainly not cold.

“What happened, Grace?” I asked as gently as I could.

Grace just burst into tears again.

“Can I show them?” Liz asked, and after a pause we received a reluctant nod in reply.

Katie and I audibly gasped as Liz lifted the sheet covering her, revealing she had not put her pyjama bottoms on. Small wonder; her bottom was a mess of red lines, some parallel, some at angles, and in the places where strokes had crossed the bruised marks were particularly nasty. I could not count how many cane strokes that represented.

I stared appalled as Grace continued to sob.

“What, who?” I blurted out to Liz.

“It was Brian, but I can’t get any more out of her than that.” She replied desperately. “What do we do? He’s allowed to cane us, but surely not like that?”

I knew Derek had made it clear that he was delegating responsibility for ensuring the new prefects did their duties properly to Brian, so for the new boy prefects this was correct. However, with an abruptness and anger I replied: “No one is allowed to cane like that, even Mr McKendrick, and no boy should be caning a girl in any case.”

After some cajoling I still could not get Grace to talk or speak as she cuddled her bear desperately, shivered, and sobbed intermittently. The other two girls looked at me and I knew they were looking for me to decide what to do next. Briefly I thought about the Head, or her, or my housemaster, but as before I settled on Mrs Fleming. Telling Liz to stay and look after Grace I set off to the main door which, though locked, could be opened from the inside. I tasked Katie to man the door as I set off in the midnight dark to her flat.

It was Mr Fleming who opened the door blearily and then looked in shock at the apparition I presented in front of him. He did, though, immediately call his wife down and the two of us returned to Grace.

Her face went through shock, horror, then fury at who’d done it, and finally sympathy for the victim. She seemed unsure what to do as she stared at the marks. My next suggestion was we should get the marks looked at, so she sent Katie to find the Matron and then tried in turn to comfort Grace, who still seemed unable to comprehend what had happened to her.

Grace still had said very little, apart from irrationally apologising for the trouble she was causing, as the Matron, showing similar reactions to the rest of us, decided she would be better in the Infirmary area, which was fortunately empty. The slow walk down the corridor seemed to calm Grace a little, and eventually, lying on her left side, as the right side had quite a few strokes that had clearly wrapped painfully round onto her hips, on one of the beds she managed to get her story out.

I listened appalled as she sobbed it out to us.

Apparently Ben had told Brian about the incident on the stairs and, after lights out, Brian had managed to keep Grace back in the Prefect’s common room after everyone else had left. He had interviewed her in the ante-room and told her off and then said he was going to cane her to remind her to be more careful in future.

Grace had refused, saying he did not have the right to cane a girl. However, Brian had been implacable and refused to listen as Grace demanded the right to see first me, then Derek and when that failed, the Head.

Apparently tempers had deteriorated and eventually Brian had angrily told her to stop wasting time and get her skirt up. When she had firmly (well, she admitted, actually pretty rudely) refused again, Brian (a strong six footer and member of the front row in the rugby first XV) had grabbed her and manhandled her over a desk. Holding her down with one hand he’d grabbed the cane, already on the desk, and whacked her over her skirt. When she kept struggling and now started cursing at him, he apparently then put his hand under the back of her skirt, found the top of her knickers and yanked them to her ankles, claiming it was to reduce her ability to get away. He then started caning her again.

Given the struggles and the fact he was having to hold her down with one hand, the blows had not been as hard as might be otherwise, but they had gone all over the place and criss-crossing repeatedly had led to the mess we could see now. Thankfully the skirt probably absorbed the worst of some of the blows, or goodness knows what state her backside would have been.

Finally he’d got her to beg for mercy and then he’d ordered her to stay still, lifted her skirt, revealing her bared backside, and told her she was now getting the six she deserved. If she remained in place then it would be over. Though apparently sobbing screaming and begging for mercy, she dared not move as he gave her a further six vicious cuts over the already well thrashed backside.

Finally he’d let her up and told her to get dressed, warning her if she ever told anyone about this he’d give her worse. After about ten minutes she’d shuffled, sobbing, back to her dorm where Liz had comforted her and helped her half change.

Grace’s final comment to us was: “I, I don’t wish to stay a prefect any more.”

It is difficult to describe what I felt. Physically sick was at least half of it, but there was a blind fury in me. Brian, who’d always seemed an okay lad to me before, deserved to be, well I don’t know what he deserved, but I wanted it to be very, very unpleasant.

I could see similar thoughts passing through every one of the four other listeners.

Mrs Fleming looked at me again.

“Mr McKendrick?” I said.

“Please no!” Grace begged. “I don’t want more trouble!”

However, Mrs Fleming nodded to me and then said very gently: “Grace, you are the victim here. I promise you, you are not going to be in any trouble. However, Brian must not be able to do that to you or anyone else again. You understand that?”

In response Grace just buried her head into her teddy she was still clutching and wept.

It was agreed that Liz, Katie and Matron would look after Grace.

Mrs Fleming and I went into the Matron’s office and it was Mrs Fleming who phoned the Headmaster’s residence. Ten minutes later the two of us met the Head, dressed in his trousers and an open necked shirt. I noticed in his hurry he’d obviously not found his socks, given the bare ankles I glimpsed above his shoes.

Mrs Fleming gave most of the explanation, although I intimated what had happened before I’d called her. Mr McKendrick looked as grave as I have ever seen him. We then walked up the stairs and into the infirmary.

When Grace saw him she started sobbing again. It took some time for him to calm her down. He told her he’d heard the story and emphasized to her that she was a victim and should not worry about things.

When she asked to resign as a prefect, he refused to accept it, but told me to ensure with Derek that she was relieved from actually doing any duties for the moment. Finally he asked Grace if she would permit him to see the damage. Very reluctantly she said yes. Liz rather glared at the Head as she lifted the sheet enough that he could see her bottom. However, the flash of anger that the Head showed was clearly reserved for whoever had done the damage to Grace’s bottom.

Thanking Grace, he suggested to Matron that Katie and Liz spend the night with Grace in the infirmary. Matron suggested she make the three of them a cup of hot chocolate, to which they all agreed. Meanwhile he asked Mrs Fleming and I to follow him out.

Asking us to go together to fetch Mr Gillespie, who was both Brian and Grace’s housemaster, he went to fetch Derek. Quarter of an hour later, now nearly one in the morning, the five of us were sitting, very subdued, in the Head’s office. It was agreed that the Head and Housemaster would interview Brian first. Unless there was some major flaw in Grace’s story there seemed little alternative but expulsion. Assuming that to be the case, Derek would help the Housemaster escort Brian to his room to clear it, while the Head phoned his parents, as well as Grace’s parents to explain the situation. Mrs Fleming and I were to wait in the Bursar’s empty office in case the story was challenged, as there was a phone there.

It was a long wait, and there was little for Mrs Fleming and I to say as we waited. I went to the kitchens and brought back a couple of mugs of hot chocolate for us too, to pass the time with.

It was three in the morning when the Head phoned to say that matters were resolved without our testimony or assistance being needed. Brian had not been able to deny what he’d done, although he had tried to justify his actions, and then to apologise. However, it was a justification that fell on very deaf ears. As for the apology, well that was all well and good, but it could not change what had happened or the consequences for his schooling. For us, the result was that we could now go back to bed. He, and Mr Gillespie, were going to wait with Brian for his parents who were on their way. Grace’s parents had been shocked and were coming down the following morning.

Before going to bed Mrs Fleming and I peeped in the infirmary but all was thankfully quiet. With Katie being in the infirmary, I had our room to myself, not that it made much difference. I collapsed into bed exhausted.

I never saw Brian again, and to be honest never wished to. I thought I knew him, and I hoped it was one aberration in his life, but I can never forget the way Grace behaved that night, and although she put most of it behind her, I think it was a shadow that to some degree darkened the rest of her school career.

The Head invited the four of us back to his office for lunch the following day. He looked pretty tired, as did everyone else. He thanked us for our help, and told us that he’d had a very uncomfortable time with Grace’s parents. Like most parents of the era, they were not against physical punishment per se, but they did expect it to be controlled and appropriate. However, their main aim was to support their daughter, who was able to go with them on a walk round the grounds, while they discussed what had happened.

That evening the Head called Derek and me to his office again. He intimated that more and more he felt the time when prefects should be able to punish other pupils should be coming to an end. However, he was aware that the governors were more traditional in their view (unsurprising given that most of them were former pupils, and also had an average age somewhat higher than our parents). For the moment all he was going to do was insist that the informal canings used by the Head Boy, were to be stopped. A prefect failing in his or her duty could be taken to the court instead. Under no circumstance was a caning to be carried out without other witnesses. This meant that my thought that an extra girl prefect should witness a caning was now essentially policy. He then said Grace was to be given time to recover, and under absolutely no circumstances was she to be slippered let alone caned without his knowledge and approval, and he would be informing all staff of this.

Finally he looked at me and said: “You proved yourself again last night. Mrs Fleming said you were more in control than she was. I am going to make you officially Head Girl. You will have shared responsibilities with the Head Boy on an equal basis, and also the right to overrule him on any issue affecting girl’s discipline, as he will over you of course for the boys. I don’t have a badge yet, but here is the spare head boy badge and until it comes, and your head’s tie. I am afraid the expectation is that you purchase your own new blazer I am afraid, as it is difficult to do the sewing around the lapels properly.”

Not really knowing what to say I nodded and clipped the badge on, returning the senior prefect badge to him. The tie, I put in my pocket and made a mental note to ask my parents to order me the blazer from the school outfitters. I doubted they’d grudge the cost too much given what it meant.

Thankfully over the next couple of weeks things calmed down a bit, though I had to put up with quite a bit of mild ribbing about my badge until the proper head girl one arrived. James became Head Boy elect, and Paul joined Ben as senior prefect. The Head decided to appoint a replacement boy for Brian, as well as another girl. The girl chosen was Sarah Fitzherbert, who was quite outgoing, though she’d had had a run in with the court before Christmas.

During those couple of weeks, Grace gradually calmed down and after two weeks took up her duties again. It had taken quite an effort from me, Mrs Fleming and Mr McKendrick to reassure her sufficiently not to resign. Once she had made the decision I did broach the subject very gently about witnessing other canings as the third member, as I did not want either to pressure her into it or make it feel that she was being obviously left out. It was agreed that I would ask the others for the moment, but she felt she would probably be okay come September, when we moved to the upper sixth. I agreed to ask her again then.

While Grace may have calmed down, that certainly was not the situation for many of the sixth formers. A-level Exams were now very close, and the tension between the more relaxed lower sixth formers, and those in the upper sixth, who wanted every moment’s peace and quiet to study led to more than one or two rows in the common rooms.

After a word from Derek, it was agreed that we girls who were the only ones after promotion to still use the sixth form common room regularly (as we all still wanted to remain friends and socialize with the other fifteen who had not been promoted), would informally keep an eye out for trouble, as we could do so without raising too many eyebrows.

Grace of course had absolutely no desire to be involved in the court activities unless absolutely necessary (to report someone, which had not yet happened, and was unlikely given she was only doing duties in pairs) and was already spending those times in the sixth form common room. The rest of us divided up our free times in a secret internal rota. Only Derek and the five of us actually knew about it. Things were almost as tense in the prefects’ common room also, although at least there was the ante-room which was now strictly no talking.

Liz and Katie were in the common room when the first real trouble broke out, fortunately not involving any girls. They managed to dive in before things got really nasty and, being girls, had, according to them, been an advantage as the boys clearly were reluctant to involve them in their fracas. Three days later an upper sixth boy got four for going too far, while the two lower sixth boys got six.

There was no doubt who Derek, who chose to deal with all three himself, felt sympathy for. While the older boy showed mild discomfort, the two younger lads were clearly wincing as they did the tour to shake our hands.

The incident did however have the desired effect of reminding the lower sixth formers to be more considerate. After all we would be like that this time next year!

The courts over the next weeks continued to be boys only, and there was little else to note, though I reported a couple of boys for fighting and they both found a cane significantly more painful than each other’s fists.

Derek was working hard for the A-levels of course, and indeed as we all had exams after half term I was also buckling down to some serious revision too. However, we managed, rain or shine, to go for a walk every Sunday afternoon and we also spent time together in the common room of course. The Saturday before his first exam, which was on the following Thursday, we got a pass out for a proper date in the local town. Derek had decided he needed a break before facing his books yet again for the final push. We had a meal and went to the cinema, sitting in the back row. As with my first date with him I remember nothing of the film.

With a week to go till the end of half-term I reflected it had been a busy one. There were now only five remaining girls whose bottoms were as yet unchastised. Although Grace’s had certainly been unfair she probably would have been given some form of whacking for failing to report the boy on the stairs in any case.

And then there were only four.

It was Melanie Chappell who succumbed. She had a boyfriend in the upper sixth, like me of course, and was finding the workload rather hard. Like her boyfriend, she was studying A-level history. Apparently she was struggling with an essay and, having borrowed her boyfriend’s previous year’s submission, copied some chunks from it. To be fair it was not a complete copy. Well over half was her own work, but the remainder was enough and, unfortunately for the two of them, the history teacher had a good memory.

Most of this was outlined to me by Mr Gillespie who explained why he had called me before Melanie arrived for her appointment. The boy concerned was reporting to his housemaster and by all accounts, though less culpable, was in for a painful time too.

I saw her face change as she came in. Seeing me in the room, she knew meant that she had no hope of a pain-free escape from the interview. She looked upset at that point, but was in tears by the end of a long lecture from our housemaster on honesty and integrity, and how lucky she was that it was not the Head that was interviewing her. If she’d copied the whole thing the chances were that she would be facing a caning from the Head and a suspension. Pupils had even been expelled in the past for this sort of thing, and that would be the likely outcome of a repeat.

This time she was to get eight strokes across her knickers. She looked in shock as the number was intimated. Perhaps she was hoping for four, maybe expecting six, but as the consequences of copying were something that was drilled in to every pupil’s mind regularly I don’t think objectively she should have expected anything less.

Interview over, she passed me her blazer. It took her somewhat longer to get her fingers to unclip her skirt at the waist, lower the zip and slide it down her legs. Passing it to me, I watched her eyes focus on the crook handled stick in Mr Gillespie’s hand. She had clearly anticipated the possibility; her maroon knickers were peeping out just between the front tails of her blouse as she stood sniffing with her hands clasped in front of her. The blouse was quite long and she was ordered to tie the tails round her waist, bringing her pants into full display.

Finally the order came and she slowly bent over his desk and took a tight grip of the other side. The knickers stretched tight. Melanie closed her eyes tightly as the cane tapped her bottom.

Thwack!

Melanie’s head jerked back and she gave a small wail as she joined the ‘caned club’. However, she managed to hold on.

Taking his time, Mr Gillespie whacked methodically downwards. Melanie managed to take the second and third quietly, but the wriggles, yelps and grunts become more pronounced as the fairly ferocious strokes were administered.

On the sixth she game a loud scream and nearly stood, one hand briefly leaving the table, before she caught herself.

The seventh led to a second scream and, as the final blow landed at the crease of buttock and thigh, the cry of pain was clearly heartfelt.

It took a few minutes before she was able to stop clutching her bottom and face our housemaster, the tears running down her face clearly having wet her light brown hair, for a second lecture on how lucky she was to have got off so lightly. Anyone seeing her distress might have been inclined to disagree, but I suppose a suspension would have been worse.

Once dismissed, I helped her back to the dorm where June, one of her dorm-mates, took over.

However, for us girls the biggest surprise of that half term was certainly when the Head called the entire sixth form together the following evening.

There had been one of the regular governor’s meetings a couple of weeks previously, which included a special review of the school’s policies in the light of accepting girl pupils.

At the meeting the whole issue of the court had been discussed. As the Head had expected, many of the governors felt it was useful, especially those who were former pupils. However, given the headmaster’s concerns, there was to be a more detailed and full review during the next year or so.

However, a number of modifications were to be made as a result of the meeting. The one with the most impact was that from tomorrow, when he would announce it to the school, the girls would have their own, separate house and house mistress, Mrs Fleming. The choice of her as house mistress was hardly surprising as there were only three woman teachers and she was far and away the one who had made most effort to engage with us, as well as being an exceptional teacher too, who had begun to act as a sort of surrogate housemistress over the past year in any case. I was not the only girl who had used her for help when faced with a difficult problem. The fact that she and her husband already lived on site was a further bonus.

He had also decided that he would no longer cane girls but delegate to Mrs Fleming if any girl fell sufficiently foul of the rules. In effect, in future a girl would never have to raise her skirt let alone have her knickers adjusted, as had happened to me last term for punishment by a male member of staff or prefect, though over the skirt slipperings were of course still permitted. The unsaid counter was that, as Olive had experienced, there was no impediment to her ordering a girl to drop her pants and bare her bottom for a punishment should she think it appropriate, or the Headmaster request it.

The biggest change would be that the dorms were to be rearranged over the summer and all the girls would be accommodated in one separate building, giving in essence a real girls’ house.

There was certainly much to discuss about over the next few days and think about, in between revision, during half term!

The End

© Joanna Jones 2010