A sixth former feels herself innocent but faces school and home punishment

By Robert Roberts

John Groves, a chemistry teacher for the Florence Naismith School for Girls, shook his head with disappointment. He really liked Eleanor Osborn. She was a very capable student, with a friendly, cheeky personality and a good-looking girl, not that her looks should influence him in any way. This was the third consecutive piece of work that fell below the standard of which Eleanor was capable. On two occasions, he had quietly taken Eleanor to one side and tried to ascertain the problem.

“Everything is under control, Sir,” she confidently answered with her usual cheerful smile.

‘I am not satisfied with the quality of Eleanor’s work,’ thought the chemistry teacher to himself. ‘My conversations with her have not worked. I really don’t want to do this, but I am going to issue her with a detention and see if that will get her focused.’

In red ink, he wrote ‘see me’ at the end of her essay. He gave her a mark of 60% which, to most people, would seem satisfactory, but John Groves knew she should have scored at least 90%, which would have translated to A* in her forthcoming exams.

John Groves moved around the work benches handing out the homework that he had assessed and marked for the eighteen girls in his chemistry class. Making various comments to his students where appropriate, he came to Eleanor.

“Eleanor. Please see me at the end of the lesson.”

She responded affirmatively and flirtatiously, and smiled to herself.

“He’s so cute. Always looking to have a chat with me.”

The four o’clock bell sounded, the class was dismissed and Eleanor approached Mr Groves, her favourite teacher with whom she was always happy to engage. But she would end up not being so happy today.

“Eleanor, I have marked and returned your last homework and you will see from my comments that I am not pleased.”

Eleanor tried to interrupt with an explanation for her below-standard work but Mr Groves, having now shed his usual friendly demeanour, told her to be quiet.

“I’ve tried talking to you, but it hasn’t worked and so I’m going to try you with a detention. Let’s see if that gets you back on track.”

Eleanor was clearly and obviously stunned. She did not see this coming. Speechless for a few seconds, she stared disbelievingly at the detention chit just handed to her.

John Groves observed her astonishment and thought to himself, ‘I have at last made an impact.’

He took no pleasure in upsetting the girl but was determined that she was not going to fail her chemistry exam on his watch, and the detention was the first step to get her refocused.

Tears welled up in Eleanor’s eyes, much to her embarrassment.

“I can’t believe you are doing this to me,” she half whispered, half cried.

“Go home, reflect on your poor performances and let’s see if we can get you back to 90%,” suggested John, mindful of Eleanor becoming rather more upset than he expected.

Eleanor trudged to the bus stop. Her friends could see she was upset and tried to console her, but couldn’t quite understand. OK, she’d got a detention, but that was never worth crying over. They didn’t understand that to Eleanor this was not just a detention. This was a put-down by the teacher on whom she had a girlie crush and mistakenly thought he liked her.

****

Jayne MacDuff, Eleanor’s Housemistress, looked at the detention slip handed to her by Eleanor. She looked surprised.

“You know I take a very dim view of sixth formers, especially prefects, getting detentions. You are supposed to be a shining example to the younger girls.”

“I think Mr Groves made a mistake,” stuttered Eleanor.

“Enough!” commanded Mrs MacDuff, holding up her hand to silence Eleanor. “Mr Groves was right and you need to accept that.” She could see Eleanor was close to tears and she softened her attitude. “What is done is done. Take your detention on Wednesday evening and make sure you improve your performance.”

Tearful, and feeling she was unjustly treated and nobody was listening to her, Eleanor made her way to her early morning Mathematics lesson. On Tuesday afternoon she had another chemistry lesson and sulked all the way through it, refusing to acknowledge John Groves. He let her have her sulk and thought once she had got her Wednesday detention out of the way she would be back to her usual self.

****

On Wednesday evening, Eleanor got ready for her first ever detention. She looked around, hoping there might be another sixth former, but no such luck. The teacher in charge was Miss Gates who Eleanor did not know. Nine girls queued for roll call and were ordered to their seats one by one. They were instructed to open their workbooks and write out the school motto one hundred times. After a few minutes, Miss Gates stood up and called the name of one of the girls.

“Brenda Evans. Step forward please and bend over my desk.”

Brenda, without any fuss, positioned herself in accordance with Miss Gate’s instructions and took two vigorous paddle swats across her trousered bottom. Two distracting loud explosions reverberated around the classroom as the paddle struck first Brenda’s left buttock and then the right buttock.

“Thank you, Brenda. Return to your seat. Alice Bolton, two swats for you.”

Alice, looking rather more flustered than Brenda, nevertheless took her swats quietly and returned to her seat.

Eleanor looked up from her workbook and watched the spankings. She should have kept her head down, and unfortunately Miss Gates noticed her observing the spankings.

“Eleanor Osborn. I can’t remember giving you permission to look up from your workbook. If you are so fascinated with watching the girls getting spanked then maybe I could give you a first-hand experience. Step up, please.”

“I was distracted. It took me by surprise. I’m sorry.”

“Nevertheless, Miss Osborn, it’s two swats for you. Now, please!”

“No, I won’t,” responded Eleanor defiantly. “It’s not fair. I’ve done nothing wrong.”

“Get up here immediately!” ordered the annoyed teacher.

Eleanor approached Miss Gates and foolishly reminded her she was a sixth form prefect and should not be humiliated in front of the younger girls.

“How dare you disobey me! Return to your seat.”

Eleanor wrongly thought she had won the argument and sat down to continue with her lines. She noticed Miss Gates scribbling on a form which ominously was the same bright orange colour as the detention slip she had received from Mr Groves. Two minutes elapsed and Miss Gates stood up.

“Miss Osborn, as you reminded me, you are the senior girl here. I am going out for a few minutes so I am leaving you in charge to keep order. Any misbehaving, let me know on my return.”

Miss Gates made her way to the headmistress’s office, completed orange punishment slip in hand. Arriving at the secretary’s office, she asked Miriam, the school secretary, if Mrs Kelly was available. Miriam used the intercom to contact the headmistress.

“Are you available to see Miss Gates, Headmistress?”

“Yes. Ask her to come in.”

Miss Gates heard the answer and didn’t wait for Miriam to tell her to go through to the headmistress. There was a brief exchange of polite pleasantries before Miss Gates launched into her berating of Eleanor Osborn.

“She disobeyed me, openly defying me in front of the other girls. She is uncontrollable and so I have had to issue a punishment slip recommending four strokes of the cane.”

Mrs Kelly was hugely impressed with the way that Eleanor had conducted herself throughout her school career. She liked her a lot. Not only excellent academic abilities, but a lovely person. Very popular with staff and fellow students, especially the younger students. As a prefect, she took it upon herself to give support to the youngsters wherever she could and this was noticed and appreciated by staff. And so Mrs Kelly was surprised and disappointed to be confronted by Evelyn Gates requesting her to cane her favourite pupil.

“Are you sure about this, Evelyn? Eleanor is ordinarily so well-behaved, and I can’t remember the last time I caned a sixth former.”

Miss Gates remained adamant. “The school handbook clearly states disrespecting and arguing with teachers is a caning offence. I gave Eleanor a chance to accept a spanking for misbehaving in detention but she refused and tried to show me up in front of the other girls.”

The Headmistress found this hard to believe but what else could she do?

“OK, Evelyn. Send Eleanor to see me now and let’s deal with this.”

Mrs Kelly was dismayed and agitated. She certainly did not want to use the cane on Eleanor but realised if it had been any other girl in the school the caning would be automatic for such alleged behaviour. Her hope was Eleanor would accept the caning without creating a scene.

On her return to the classroom, trying but not succeeding to conceal her triumph, Miss Gates ordered Eleanor to report to the headmistress.

“This can only mean one thing, and you have brought it upon yourself,” smirked the young and inexperienced teacher. “Off you go.”

Eleanor was not worried. She trusted her headmistress, had a good, strong relationship with her and was devoted to her.

‘At last,’ she thought to herself. ‘Mrs Kelly will realise all this is a nonsense and she will sort it out.’

She walked confidently along the corridor towards the headmistress’s office. In a few minutes she would be walking back in the other direction, traumatised, with a sore bottom and feeling totally humiliated. Her naivety was breath-taking. Did she really think the headmistress would overturn a teacher’s complaint of disrespect?

“Sit down and listen, Eleanor,” said Mrs Kelly, as kindly and sympathetically as she could, but nevertheless with an unmistakable firmness. “You have disrespected your teacher and for that there is only one outcome.”

Trying to be professional and hiding her own distaste for the forthcoming punishment procedure she was about to apply to Eleanor, Mrs Kelly spelled out the absolute requirement for schoolgirls, including sixth formers, to be respectful to adults.

“But if I could just explain,” interjected a not-so-confident Eleanor.

“No explanation required. You are going to get the cane.”

If Eleanor had been bowled over when awarded a detention by Mr Groves, she was now dumbfounded and speechless. In a state of shock, she unsteadily raised herself from the sofa on the Headmistress’s command and a tear dribbled down her cheek. Her school life had been one of exemplary behaviour, excellent academic accomplishments and sporting prowess, culminating in her becoming a senior prefect. Suddenly her proud achievements seemed to amount to nothing. She was now going to be caned, putting her in the same category as the bullies, the truants, the fighters and the smokers.

Mrs Kelly observed her distress with some disquiet.

“Ellie, listen to me. You will feel sore for a couple of hours. It will soon pass. I know this is an unwelcome new experience for you, but you can handle it. I’m not going to cane you hard, but I do have to deal with you the same as any other girl who has disrespected a teacher.”

“You don’t understand, Miss. I don’t care about the pain. No, that’s not true. It scares me. But the thing is, I feel that everything I’ve achieved at school has been blown away. Now I’m branded just like all those badly behaved girls that get caned. I’ve joined their ranks and it’s not fair.”

“Nonsense! You’ll walk out of here with a sore bottom and absolutely nothing else will have changed. Unless you let it.”

The Headmistress could see that Eleanor needed handling with sensitivity. She was not the raucous, badly behaved girl who usually presented for a caning.

“Lean over and rest your elbows on the desktop,” said Mrs Kelly, attempting a sympathetic smile. She guided the trembling girl over the desk but, upon adjusting her skirt to facilitate the caning, Eleanor’s skimpy, non-regulation knickers were revealed.

“Oh dear, Eleanor. A uniform violation. That will get you one extra stroke.”

Eleanor groaned. “I thought it couldn’t get any worse,” she muttered under her breath.

“Deep breaths. Hold on and this will be over in seconds.”

Mrs Kelly might have said she would not be caning hard but that didn’t stop her from delivering five penetrating strokes, the first of which caused Eleanor to release a plaintive cry followed by audible gasps with each delivery. The headmistress was not enjoying this, but it was her duty. Such was the rapidity of the beating it seemed to be over no sooner than it had started.

“There you are. All over.” She helped a sniffling Eleanor to her feet. “I knew you could handle it without fretting.”

Eleanor was not so sure as she gently caressed her bottom that seemed to be swelling by the second, and watched Mrs Kelly returning the cane to her cupboard. This was a shock to her system and she couldn’t recall anything quite as painful as this. Certainly, it hurt more than the occasional swats she had received from her mother. She stood, quietly sobbing, waiting for an instruction.

“I’m required to enter the details of your caning in the punishment register but it won’t be going on your school report. So it will be soon forgotten. Make your way back to your detention class and make sure you offer an apology to Miss Gates.”

“I feel so miserable,” ventured Eleanor.

Mrs Kelly walked over to the door and opened it, motioning Eleanor to leave.

“You’ve learned a hard lesson today. I do feel for you, but now it’s over and you should move on.”

****

John Groves, chemistry teacher for the Florence Nightingale School for Girls, shouted out, “Class dismissed,” as the sound of the ear-piercing bell to denote end of lessons rang out. For some unknown reason, the bells in the science block were so shrill compared with the main school.

The sixth form girls gathered their belongings and made for the exit, chatting to each other and saying a polite thank you and good night to their popular chemistry teacher. But not Eleanor Osborne. She slowly made her way to the exit, pointedly looking straight ahead and ignoring her teacher.

“Eleanor,” called John Groves from his desk. In the science laboratories, the teachers’ desks were elevated on a platform looking down on the students’ work benches.

Eleanor stopped, but continued to look forward and did not acknowledge her teacher. Up until recently, she really liked John Groves, but now she was angry with him and blamed him for her recent troubles.

“What does he want now?” she quietly murmured to herself.

“Eleanor. Are you sulking?”

“No.”

“Should that be no Sir?”

Eleanor audibly sighed. Still looking ahead, she said, “No, Sir,” with much sarcastic emphasis on the word ‘sir’.

The chemistry teacher smiled. He had plenty of experience dealing with headstrong girls. He enjoyed taking them on.

“Come and sit at this desk next to me, please.”

Still looking straight ahead, Eleanor responded,

“Must I, Sir? I want to catch my bus.”

Secretly, even though she was annoyed with him, she was thrilled at the prospect of being invited to sit next to him and have a one-to-one chat.

“It will only take a couple of minutes,” commented John.

Another exaggerated sigh was emitted before she made her way round to the step that gave her access to the raised platform and seat positioned next to the teacher. Her shoulder bag slid to the floor as she took her seat, crossing her legs and trying to show as much of her slim, shapely legs as possible without making it obvious. She wondered if he might have caught a glimpse of her stocking tops, but if he did she couldn’t tell. In this all-girls school, John Groves had long learned to look at a girl’s eyes, not at her legs.

“OK, Eleanor. I haven’t seen you smiling today. Where is that good-natured, ebullient, smiling young lady? We’re off the record. Speak your mind.”

He gathered she was unhappy because he had awarded her a detention.

Eleanor needed no second invitation and launched into an all-out verbal attack.

“You gave me a detention and it was totally unjustified. You said I was underperforming, but my marks were higher than girls who were not given a detention. And this was my first ever detention, and you broke my perfect disciplinary record.”

John Groves went to answer but Eleanor continued in full flow.

“And then, when I went to detention on Wednesday night, there was a misunderstanding and I might have accidentally back-chatted the teacher on detention duty. She told me I had got to have two swats of the slipper and I refused. It would be humiliating in front of third and fourth years. So she wrote out a note and sent me to the headmistress.”

“That’s too bad,” sympathised the teacher, but Eleanor was not listening.

“I thought I had a good relationship with Mrs Kelly and might be able to reason with her, but when she read Miss Gate’s note she said she would have to give me four strokes of the cane over my knickers. And then when I bent over her desk and she lifted my skirt, she said she would have to give me an extra stroke because I wasn’t wearing regulation knickers. Who in the sixth form wears regulation knickers? It’s never been a problem before.”

John Groves didn’t quite know how to answer that question, but he didn’t have to because Eleanor had more to say.

“And when she sent me back to finish my detention, Miss Gates said I had missed so much I would have to come back next week and start again, and she wrote me out another detention slip. She’s deliberately trying to humiliate me and will do everything she can to get me another caning. And all this is your fault. And my mum told me I will get the strap at the weekend because of my bad behaviour at school.”

Mr Groves found Eleanor’s outburst amusing.

“Stop laughing! It’s not funny. And I know Miss Gates is your girlfriend, but she’s not very nice.”

Eleanor abruptly stopped her diatribe. She realised she had gone too far mentioning Mr Grove’s girlfriend. Everybody in the school knew. It was not a secret but just how rude was it to mention in this context? She was mortified. She was hyped up and tears were rolling down her cheeks. John Groves had put his hand to his face to try and hide his amusement.

“I’m sorry, Eleanor. It is ungracious of me to find your mishaps amusing. Remember our talk is off the record, so relax.”

He tried to explain his reason for awarding her a detention.

“I gave you a detention because over the last few weeks you have not performed to your capabilities, and I thought a detention might get you refocused. Yes, your marks are higher than other girls in the class but I am judging you against your capability, not theirs. But I did not want your detention to extend to humiliation and a visit to Mrs Kelly for a caning, and now apparently the strap from your mother.”

“I wasn’t slacking,” sobbed Eleanor. “I’ve been trying to pace myself. I know I’m where I want to be with chemistry, but I’m needing to put more work into physics and mathematics.”

“You think you have been unfairly treated?” responded John Groves, still trying to hide his merriment. “Life is not fair. Sometimes you get a raw deal, but what is important is how you deal with that situation. Hold your head high and believe in yourself. How you deal with bad experiences defines your character. Learn and move on.”

He waited a minute to allow Eleanor to regain her composure.

“I’ll speak to my not-very-nice girlfriend and see what we can do about your detention.”

Trying desperately to put things right, Eleanor blustered, “I didn’t mean Miss Gates is not very nice. I meant it was not very nice for me to get slapped and sent for a caning.”

She relaxed when she saw Mr Groves was smiling and quite jovial.

“As for your mother giving you the strap, I’ll write her a note suggesting you have been properly punished.”

“Actually, Sir, I’m getting the strap because I tried to deceive her. I didn’t tell her that I had got into trouble at school and then she saw the welts across my bum when I was taking a shower.”

“So there’s nothing I can do about that?”

Eleanor shook her head. But the way Mr Groves was talking to her was an example of just why she liked him.

“Are we still friends, Eleanor, or have you fallen out with me?” asked Mr Groves, although he was quite confident he had won her around.

Hoping that not giving him a direct answer would keep him guessing, if he was at all bothered, she stood up, bent down to gather her shoulder bag, and stepped off the platform.

“Goodnight, Sir.”

“Goodnight, Eleanor,” he smiled.

****

Friday night came and Eleanor arrived home from school.

“Hello, darling. Good day at school?” inquired her mother.

“So-so,” replied Eleanor.

“Anything to tell me?”

“No, mummy.”

“Are you sure? Not holding back on anything else I should know?”

“Look mum, I’ve made one mistake in six years. Give me a break.”

“OK, love. Fair enough. I’ve always given you plenty of leeway while you have been growing up and I have trusted you, and your side of the bargain was you would hide nothing from me and on this occasion you did. When will it be convenient for you to receive your punishment? We agreed this weekend.”

“Oh, come on, mum! Do you really want to do this?”

“You’re going to get six strokes of the strap because you tried to deceive me. I’m trying to make this as easy as possible. You tell me when.”

Eleanor petulantly threw her shoulder bag on to the sofa. But then she remembered Mr Groves’ pep talk.

“Hold your head high. Self-esteem. Self-confidence.”

Eleanor turned to her mother and smiled. In a conciliatory tone, she said, “Shall we do it now and get it out of the way?”

“Are you sure you want it now, before tea?”

“Want it? I don’t want it at any time, but now rather than later. I’ve got revision to do this weekend so best get it out of way as soon as possible.”

“Go upstairs to your room and I’ll be with you in a couple of minutes. Your father keeps the strap he uses on the boys in the garage.”

The house rules were that Eleanor’s father would look after punishing her two younger brothers and her mother would deal with her. Whatever punishment the school awarded it was reinforced at home. Such was Eleanor’s excellent disciplinary record at school her mother was rarely called into action. Perhaps the occasional domestic disobedience that might lead to a mild spanking.

Eleanor collected her shoulder bag and went upstairs. She stripped off her school uniform, suspender belt and stockings. She ruefully smiled as she observed she was wearing her regulation school knickers. No more defying her headmistress after that unwarranted lash of the cane because of her non-regulation skimpy knickers.

Mrs Osborne collected the strap and joined Eleanor in her bedroom.

“Come over here and kneel on this chair. And can you slip those huge knickers off please,” smiled Mrs Osborn. She was not going to let school regulation knickers offer any protection.

Eleanor mounted the chair with her knees on the seat. Without being told, she reached down and grabbed the chair legs, presenting her bottom for the strap. Her mum gently touched one of the welts still visible from the caning her daughter had received two days before.

“I can’t promise to avoid these welts, Ellie. Here we go then.”

Trying to avoid the welts from the school caning, the first swat landed just at the top of Eleanor’s bottom, too close to her lower back for comfort. Mrs Osborn was not an experienced dispenser of corporal punishment. She slightly adjusted her position for the second strike and this landed with a thwack, dead centre. Eleanor took both strikes with a gasp. They were certainly not as painful as Mrs Kelly’s cane. Third strike was a different matter. Mrs Osborne was now gaining confidence. It landed just below dead centre, in fact there was a slight overlap with the previous strike. Eleanor yelped.

“That hurt,” shouted Eleanor.

“Sorry, dear, but this is a punishment.”

As the fourth stoke landed haphazardly and connecting fair and square across one of Mrs Kelly’s strikes, Eleanor’s eyes watered and she cried out.

“Mum! That’s too much.”

Both of them took a breather.

Eleanor fantasised, ‘If I’ve got to have this, I wish Mr Groves was doing it to me. I wonder if he would like to.’

“Ready?” asked her mum.

Actually, the fifth stroke was a bit of a miss-hit and was more of a tickle.

“Missed. That one doesn’t count,” laughed her mum.

Eleanor complained, “Come on, mum. It hurt!” she lied.

“OK, love. We’ll make this next one the last.”

The sixth and final stroke hit the target with a resounding crash that had Eleanor howling. She gingerly disengaged from the chair holding her bottom and would have lost her balance if her mum was not there to steady her. She lay face down on her bed groaning and sobbing. Her mum collected and tidied her school uniform that was strewn across the floor, Eleanor having not put it away in her wardrobe before commencement of the punishment.

Mrs Osborn looked a little bit apprehensively at the damage she had inflicted on her daughter’s bottom and wondered if that last strike was too much.

“I didn’t enjoy that one little bit, Ellie. Don’t ever give me cause to do that again. Get yourself together. Tea will be ready in twenty minutes.”

Once again, Eleanor drifted into fantasy land. If only Mr Groves was here to gently rub cool, soothing cream into her spanked and bruised bottom.

****

Wednesday night detention night. Eleanor made her way to the detention room wondering what was in store for her this week. She joined the queue behind two younger girls. They gave their names to Mrs Patterson who was on detention duty this week. Mrs Patterson, who knew Eleanor, looked at her list of seven girls.

“I don’t see your name on my list, Eleanor. Your presence is not required here.”

Eleanor left with a smile on her face. Yes, a smile because she did not have to serve the detention, but a smile mostly because her lovely Mr Groves had gone to the trouble to get the detention scratched. How could she thank him? She must find a way.

The End

© Robert Roberts 2021