Reminiscences from an earlier age

This story also appears in an ebook by this author entitled ‘An English Spanking Anthology’ .
 
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by Jane Fairweather

It was one of those odd evenings that happen sometimes. It was the height of the Munich Crisis in 1938 and war with Germany was daily if not hourly expected, though in fact there was another year before World War Two. However, everyone was expecting war and everyone expected it to be utterly dreadful.

Miss Mills was as tough a headmistress as they come, but she had been in France as a nurse in 1914-18 and knew how close we had come to defeat then. She was convinced that this time the English and French would lose. And having treated many victims of gas in 1914-18 she was quite sure that the new war would start with a terrible gas attack on the civilian population from the air. It seemed time she thought to hold a wake for her whole life and she gathered a little party in her rooms.

There was Pat Holmes, a young and very capable Maths mistress, who in a quiet way Miss Mills adored, though the young woman was more puzzled than attracted by her superior. There was Alice, who if the truth be known was Miss Mills’ illegitimate daughter from said time nursing in France in 1914-18, but the truth was never mentioned and officially the girl was adopted. Alice and Pat were very close friends. Miss Mills, who was very cynical in such matters, would have liked to have known just how close her daughter and her favourite Maths Mistress were and hoped they were discovering interesting things together. And there was “the Brigadier”: Henry Alphonse Jones, Father of the said Alice and off and on Miss Mills’ lover for most of her life, though this last fact was usually not mentioned. He had in fact been retired for five years and was half hoping a War would bring him new employment, but he did not like to say so.

They drank a good deal of brandy and talked about the coming War and the last one and Miss Mills aired her very real fears. The Brigadier said very gently that he expected us to win, but it would be a long and terrible war and he hoped it would not happen. He doubted if either side would be silly enough to use poisoned gas on civilians. It was just too easy to retaliate. Alice and Pat rather wished they were talking about something else. Perhaps the Brigadier realized this for he seemed to steer the conversation away from War to the time that he and Miss Mills had first met. At first she seemed to take little notice, but then he began to tease her that she and all her friends at Cambridge had been of a certain sexual disposition.

“All completely gone on whipping. You would not believe it with girls!” He said in his fruity voice.

Pat thought to herself that he must be exaggerating, but it started Miss Mills off telling a very strange story.

*****

“It was in my third year at Cambridge. Most of my fellow students were to say the least rather staid. You know bon bons, and chocolates, and cream teas. That was about the limit of their sensual extravagance. A few of us drank, but even that we did not take to any great excess.

“Anyway a few of us formed a small club for the propagation of improper behaviour. We even called it “The Hell Fire Club” after those Eighteenth Century Rakes, but I doubt if we were quite in their class. Our improper behaviour was frankly Sapphic. Not that we were most of us, purely Sapphic, but men were somewhat difficult of access, and indeed if they wanted a woman like that they went to a whore, which we of course were not supposed to know about, but did.

“Anyway, a number of the girls (including incidentally Miss Holmes and our mutual friend Miss Frobisher) wished to investigate the same sort of interest that the Brigadier has just been hinting at.

“Personally I was against it. I had a number of very painful whippings at school and at home, and it was not something I regarded with any pleasure. For that matter I was, I think, the only one who had had any experience of whipping somebody else.

“My normally very sensible headmistress, rather foolishly in my view, allowed the Prefects to whip junior girls, and I had done that two or three times. I had rather enjoyed it; there is something quite pleasurable about disciplining someone who has caused you considerable annoyance, not least the look on their face when they realize it is really going to happen, and they start to plead. Nevertheless I cannot honestly say I ever found anything very arousing about it. Unlike Henry here, who can never get it off his mind.

“Anyway all the girls who had never been whipped, which was most of us, seemed quite extraordinarily keen on it. To this day, I could not tell you why, but it was amusing to watch. They all shuddered deliciously at the thought of it, but none of them was prepared to do the whipping: much too unladylike.

“They did ask me, but I made my feelings quite clear and I thought that was that.

“And then Mary Porter. You remember her Henry?”

“Oh yes: big bum.” Said the Brigadier.

“Well Mary Porter suggested that Sarah might be a suitable candidate for our club. We’ll call her Sarah, for she is quite respectable in academic circles now, and has a fellowship at our old college. Indeed she taught my current Classics Mistress, rather well I may add. So I won’t mention her real name, just in case you should ever meet her Miss Holmes.

“But anyway Sarah was a little odd by our rather genteel standards. She spoke with more than a touch of Yorkshire you see. We were terrible snobs. Greek is full of dialect like that, much of the best Greek verse is in the equivalent of Yorkshire or Lancashire or Somerset, and most of us were Classicists, or thought we were, and we should have known better, but we did not.

“Anyway, Sarah had been brought up jointly by her Mother, who was a real broad Yorkshire woman, and the man, or rather clergyman, her Mother kept house for. I’ve always suspected the clergyman was her Father, but I don’t know. Anyway he brought her up pretty well as his daughter, and taught her a surprising number of accomplishments, including a lot (and I mean a lot) of Latin and Greek. He used to whip her regularly of course as well. People did in those days. He probably enjoyed it.

“Anyway, she was sixteen or so and he got her a job running the local village school (which was probably more or less in his gift). And it was Sarah’s turn to do the whipping, which I am sure from various stories that she used to tell, she thoroughly enjoyed. Whether the children did is another question, but anyhow.

“And then the clergyman who had brought her up died and left Sarah and her Mother his estate, half each. Now Sarah could have stayed in that village, and sat back for the rest of her life, doing what she liked in some comfort.

“But Sarah, despite the fact that she was no longer whipped for not doing it, had kept on very steadily with her Latin, and more especially her Greek, while she was a school Mistress. She once showed me a notebook she had made during those years, with Theocritus’ idylls written out in the most beautiful calligraphy, and very elaborate notes she had put together. A born scholar if ever there was one. So, she did the unbelievably daring, and applied for a place at my college. She walked the academic bit, and she could pay for it, so she got in, though not I suspect without some thought as to whether she was “that” sort of person.

“Anyhow, she was a little lonely I think. I used to talk to her, because I genuinely liked her, and always found her immensely refreshing, but not many other people gave her much attention I suspect.

“Anyway she knew Mary slightly, and it was obvious to anyone with half an eye that Sarah had a pash on Mary, and Mary thought she was rather common. I felt rather sorry for her; situations like that are always difficult. Mary saw it rather differently. She thought (indeed I think said) that since Sarah was so keen on telling little stories about her childhood and her days as a school ma’am, that always seemed to end in a vigorous whipping, she was the ideal person to undertake the rather menial duty of tanning our asses, which none of us were quite prepared to do. Personally, I thought it was not very pleasant of Mary, but it was up to Sarah.

“So, Mary approached Sara to join our little society, and being more than a little enamoured of Mary and perhaps thinking this was social acceptance, she was very keen to be a member. It was made clear to her of course that there would be some sort of initiation to prove that she was willing to do the risqué things we were supposed to be about.

“This was not usually that demanding. I had to dress as a boy, and get through a whole dinner at a boy’s college without being spotted. But I had Henry’s help. You’ve always been such a help Henry!”

“That was great fun.” Observed the Brigadier.

“I think Henry squared it with his friends. I cannot have been that convincing a male.”

“No, not one of them spotted you. You’re a born secret agent, though you did sound just a little effeminate, and as to your politics, well … you kept getting the Liberals and Conservatives the wrong way round. I think they thought you were drunk.”

“I was a little; it was the only way I could get through it. Anyway, to continue. It was decided her initiation was to be to cane whichever of us it took her fancy to. The general feeling was, it was a game, and nobody would be very sore at the end of it.

“As usual there was a certain want of courage, and nobody was very keen on buying the cane. I did not really want much to do with it, but I thought it would be good for Sarah if she joined our little society, so I went off to a shop and bought one. There was no difficulty about that; they probably thought I was an elementary school teacher. Because of the absurdity of the whole thing, and thinking it would add to the gravitas of the occasion, I bought the biggest they had.

“‘I wouldn’t like to have it from her!’ Said the young man who sold it me, as I was going out of the door. I must have looked rather formidable!”

“You always do, dear!”

“Be which as it may. The only difficult thing was to get it into the college without being spotted. It might have been a trifle difficult to explain walking through the college with a supple cane of around four feet! I put it under my coat, and prayed. It probably stuck out of the bottom, but it was in the days of gaslight, and I got away with it, though I always remember having to chat with my tutor in the corridor. That was so nerve wracking! I was really worried she would see it and I would be sent down. It didn’t happen that often in women’s colleges, but it did happen.

“So I stuck it under my bed, and hoped devoutly my scout would not find it. It was an odd night, that. Rather like sleeping with a snake. I had never actually had the cane. All my whippings had been with the birch rods. I kept wondering what it was actually like, and would Sarah choose me as her victim.

“So, next afternoon, which must have been a Saturday (we always met on Saturday afternoon) I dived into my room after lunch, grabbed the cane, and went as quickly as I could into Mary’s room, which was the biggest on the corridor, and where we always met, and put it down on the table, which was rather heavily laden with teacups and cakes and the usual paraphernalia.

“The girls who were already there behaved as I already had. They touched it as if it was some rather dangerous but beautiful animal.

“Finally Mary arrived with Sarah, blindfolded, which was part of the initiation, and she steered her into the room, and we locked the door. Then our chairman read her the rules, which were that she must never disclose the names of our members, or anything that happened, and that she must do the first thing she was asked when we took her blindfold off. If she wanted to, she could leave now and no one would blame her but, if she swore the oath, the blindfold would come off and she would be a member of our sisterhood. She said she would swear the oath. So she swore this rather mumbo-jumbo-ish oath someone had concocted.”

“I’m sure that was you, dear.” Observed the Brigadier.

“Me? Of course it was not. Stupid piece of mumbo jumbo it was. Then Mary undid her blindfold, and she blinked of course and looked round. I could see her eye light on the cane. She looked quite frightened. I think she thought she was going to be the victim, and I think she knew quite a lot about such things.

“Then our chairman very lightly explained that none of us had ever had the cane, and her initiation was to be to cane whichever one of us she chose. Then she went up to the table, and she picked up the cane with enormous respect, and I had this odd feeling the cane had the same respect for her, and she swished it a little, which was quite alarming; and there was a rather nervous rustle of skirts round the room. I think some of the girls were beginning to rather regret having got into this. For myself I was more intrigued than frightened. I knew I could take quite a lot of pain and not weep. I just wondered if it would hurt more than the birch. I knew several quite brave boys who were genuinely frightened of the cane. But somehow I felt she was not going to pick me, though she made rather a show of it, and looked round the room at each of us in turn, which is very frightening. Anyway we didn’t much like it either, even though it was a game. Do you remember that time I caned some girls from your house, Miss Holmes? I played the same game with them if you remember. Nobody likes to be first on such an occasion.

“Then she looked round again, and this time her eyes really did land on me. I think she remembered I had told her I had been whipped, and thought I could probably get through it without yelling my head off. But, at the crucial moment, just when she was looking me straight in the eye, and I was bracing myself to walk those few feet to where she was standing with the cane, which seemed miles to me at that moment, Mary, who was just by me, made a very odd noise in her throat. I don’t know if she did it deliberately, or she was just frightened, or it was an accident, but Sarah just wagged her finger and said: “Come here, Miss Porter. You have behaved disgracefully, and I am going to whip you for it.”

“Mary went white as the very pristine white blouse she was wearing, but she went.

“’Take off your tie,’ Sarah said.

“Mary fiddled somewhat, but it was one of those clip on ties we used to wear, and it came off fairly easily.

“’Take off your blouse.’

“Mary’s colour changed from white to beetroot, but she complied. She had a very pretty petticoat on, but her shoulders were bare. They were a beautiful soft cream white. We used to put rather a stress on good shoulders in those days. I fancy you girls like to be brown today. Then without any warning she bent over. I think she thought she was going to be punished on her shoulders, in the manner that was quite common at boy’s schools in those days, and must have been quite extraordinarily painful. Perhaps her brother had told her about it.

“Anyway she bent, and there was something about that. I think Sarah thought about it quite seriously. She even raised the cane a little. But my guess is, that she thought, even if she faked it, she was going to do quite a lot of damage. She pretended instead to be very angry.

“’Did I tell you to bend over? You will strip to your drawers.’

“Mary by this time was extremely worked up, and she stood up, weeping and apologising, and ringing her hands.

“Sarah swished the cane a little, and simply said: ‘Now.’

“Mary very reluctantly divested herself of her garments. After the fashion of that time she had rather a lot of underclothes, which I must say showed rather good taste, so it took some while. It would take rather less time with you girls. You usually only have a slip and a brassiere as far as I can make out.

“I am afraid we all enjoyed that, and some very sardonic glances went round the room. Finally she was down to her shoes and stockings, her stays, which were very tight laced, her shift and her drawers.

“She looked pathetically at Sarah, as if to say: ‘surely that’s enough’ but Sarah just swished her cane a little and said: ‘Just your drawers, Miss Porter.’

“’Please, someone will have to unlace me.’ Said Mary desperately.

“I think she was hoping this was going to be the signal for everyone to say enough was enough, but I am afraid I walked straight over and unlaced her; it was too good to miss. You could smell her fear. I enjoyed that. It took a little while, because she was so tight laced.

“Eventually that rather dubious garment was off. Iit doubled as a bodice, though I don’t know if you girls know what a bodice was. You all wear brassieres don’t you. Much more practical. Then she bent down and undid her shoes. That was quite interesting with just her drawers on. I remember noticing they were some sort of cambric, and not that thick. And they were quite tight. Then she removed her garters and stockings, looking acutely embarrassed. There was not the present craze for all-revealing bathing costumes, so she must have felt incredibly exposed.

“Then she looked quite desperately round the room.

“’Please could I leave my shift on?’

“She really was pathetic. Her face looked like a fish’s.

“’No,’ we all said.

“’Off with it Mary,’ somebody said.

“So she took a deep breath and she pulled her shift out of her drawers, and then over her head. And there she was naked except for her drawers. She had quite large boobs you know, and they flopped, and she crossed her arms to hide them, and looked incredibly vulnerable. Sarah put a very firm hand on her neck, and pushed on it, and you could see Mary’s most private parts very clearly as that rather large behind rose towards the ceiling. It was so humiliating for her. We all had a good look, for that in itself was quite unspeakable for our generation.

“Then Sarah walked rather sardonically round her victim, and Mary’s hands shot over her bum, and she started to plead: ‘Please don’t cane me Sarah. If I have offended you I really am sorry. Please don’t cane me. Please.’

“I am sure Sarah had caned quite a few tough Yorkshire children for real, and she knew exactly how to deal with that. She tapped her shoulders once with the cane, and she said: ‘If you don’t put your hands down, and touch your toes, I am going to thrash your bare back.’

“There was a gasp from Mary, followed by loud sobbing, and she reached right down to her toes.

“Sarah was quite good at that point. She stopped and looked at us, and asked: ‘Do you really want me to do it? Surely that’s enough.’

“’No!’ Said Mary through her tears, very urgently.

“But I am afraid we all looked at one another, and Penelope said: ‘You were the one who said it did not hurt very much, Mary.’

“I don’t know whether to be guilty about the next bit or not. Mary, as I say, was pleading quite disgustingly, and all the others were obviously keen for it to happen for something like real (it’s amazing how people behave when they find themselves in a situation like that) but no one was prepared to say the word. I had this odd idea, that this strange animal, the cane, must be fed.

“I looked at Sarah, and I could see she was trying terribly hard to be a properly brought up young lady (she was behaving much better than anyone else in fact) but there was such an anger lurking in her. I knew she really wanted to hurt Mary for all the rejection and pain she had had, and somehow I wanted her to have the pleasure of that.

“So I said: ‘So go on. Cane her. It’s what you are here to do.’

“’Yes,’ said all the rest.

“So Sarah very slowly and deliberately sent that beautiful cane swishing into that large behind. And she howled, and she yelled, and that bottom went through the most extraordinary convulsions, and she kept swaying as if she was about to fall on her face, but she did not actually do so. She had a very sound dozen.”

“And what happened afterwards?” Said Pat.

“Well less than you might think; in some ways, more. She collapsed flat on her face straight afterwards. Sarah went and pulled her drawers down, and we had a good look. I remember running my finger along one of the welts, and feeling how swollen it was. The other girls did that too, and it got rather silly.

“Then I realized Sarah was looking at me, and I realized she thought enough was enough, and so did I, so we shooed the other girls off, and got a flannel and some water, and bathed her a bit (she was pathetically grateful for that), and got her back into her clothes (I think we left her stays off), and absurd though it may seem, we had tea and cakes in a most decorous fashion. Mary of course had to have a cushion, or did she stand up, I can’t remember.

“Mary and Sarah, curious to say, formed a very close liaison, that lasted a long time, didn’t it Henry?”

“Oh yes my dear, though the noises that came out of their bedroom were nothing if not interesting.”

“And you weren’t punished at all?”

“I am sure the whole college knew something very odd had happened. The amount of noise she made was quite incredible. If we had not been so engrossed I think we would have realized that and stopped, fun though it was, but nobody actually said anything. Indeed Mary herself in retrospect found she had rather enjoyed it, and anyway two of that society were of rather good family, so nothing was done.”

“But you know damn well there was a come-back, Maddie.” Cut in the Brigadier quite angrily. “Don’t lie to the girls. You told me at the time with tears rolling down your cheeks.”

“I must have been most foolish Henry. I should not have told you that. It was unbelievably humiliating.”

“What happened?” Said Pat and Alice in virtually the same breath.

“I have never told anyone this. Please do not repeat it outside this room. Henry, I am not at all sure I should be telling this.”

“Do you no harm at all to get it off your chest, old girl. It’s a lot of years ago now.”

“Do you promise never to tell this to anyone?”

She looked in turn at Alice and Pat, who each in turn said: “Yes.”

Pat for one was baffled. What could be so upsetting after so many years? It must be half a century … She felt incredibly young. She must be the same age as Miss Mills was then. Perhaps that was why she enjoyed this odd favour from Miss Mills. She had never really understood why she was so in favour. She wondered if her headmistress realized the sort of things that she and Alice were up to.

“We got really very naughty after that session with Sarah and Mary. We did not risk flagellation again; it was just too noisy. That, at least, we had the sense to realize. But it seemed to open up something in us. We discovered, how shall I say, that half a dozen naked female bodies on a couple of lambskin rugs, in front of an open fire, can have rather a good time. Don’t look so shocked, Miss Holmes. I’m sure the young do this in every generation, or some of them do. Maybe you will do it yourself one day.

“Anyway the end of it was odd, and for me very painful. I’d just gone back to my room after breakfast. It was probably a Monday, and I seem to remember it was spring in the garden outside.”

“I’m sure it was, Maddie,” said the Brigadier.

“My scout arrived. I knew as soon as I saw her something was very wrong.

“’I am sorry Miss, I think you are in trouble.’ She said.

“There was only one thing I could be in trouble about, and my heart sank. If I was sent down, it was not just the end of my rather interesting life at College; it meant that any hopes of a life independent of a husband and/ or my parents were at an end. I could have married Henry I suppose.”

“I always wanted you to.”

“Yes, but my parents would never have accepted you, and anyway can you imagine me as an army wife? I knew it was what you were going to do. There was never much doubt, was there? Anyway we’ve always been close, haven’t we Henry?”

“Yes. Do you remember that house party in eighteen?”

“Of course, dear. Well, the Scout produced a note from her apron pocket. Funny how you remember little things like that. It was from the Head of my College. I was to see her at once.

“So, ten minutes later, there I am standing outside a mock medieval black door with iron studs with my heart going like a hammer. I’ve often thought of my standing there when I’ve interviewed young ladies for one misdemeanour or another. I hope it’s made me a little nicer than I might be otherwise.

“In the end I plucked up my courage and knocked, and was admitted. It was an odd interview. She started very mildly I remember, by congratulating me on the very high standard of my work.

“’If you were a man,’ she observed. ‘We would be talking about a First.’

“We both knew of course that the young ladies of Cambridge were allowed to take the exams, but not have the inconvenience of a degree, which might put ideas into their heads. Sadly it is still the same. I hope that changes in my lifetime. I’d like to see that.

“Then she said: ‘The fact that you are so good at your work does not make any more pleasant what I am about to say. I know (I am not going to bother to tell you how I know, but none of your friends have betrayed a confidence, I will tell you that) that some very unseemly things have been going on in Mary Porter’s rooms on Saturday afternoons. I let it go on last term in the hope it would pass, but it seems to show no sign of it and I have to take action. I am quite worried the college may be brought into serious disrepute. I don’t know the names of all the girls, and I don’t want to know, but I gather that you are almost certainly the ring leader. Are you prepared to accept that?

“I could have argued, but somehow I knew it was best not to and just said that, yes, I accepted that.

“‘Will you give me your word that these activities will cease?’

“I said: ‘Yes.’ I knew the others would not want to go on with it anyway, if they knew we were found out.

“’You may well think it is a little hard, but I feel somebody should be punished for this, and since you have confessed to being the ring leader, I feel that somebody should be you. Am I right in thinking you were a pupil of Miss Chapman?’

“I agreed this was so, though I could not for the life of me think why she was asking.

“’She uses the rod quite a lot, doesn’t she?’

“I agreed this was so.

“’Did she whip you?’

“I admitted she had. Surely she could not be thinking of corporal punishment? At thirteen it had seemed perfectly natural. At twenty, within not many days of my twenty-first birthday, it was horrific.

“’Would you accept a whipping?

“I stuttered a little.

“’I am offering it, because I want to keep you in the College. The alternative is to be sent down for good.’

“She emphasised: ‘For good.’

“Will any one else know?”

“’Not unless you tell them. I want to keep this whole thing very quiet.’

“I accepted it, but I was so humiliated.

“I was expecting the birch rods, which were normally administered bare; and the thought of that to a well brought up young lady of nearly twenty one! I wondered if she would let me keep my drawers on, if I asked her nicely. So I pointed out that I had quite thin cotton drawers on, and perhaps she would respect my modesty, and let them stay on. I think she was amused by that.

“’Oh I’ve already thought of that.’ She said: ‘I’m going to cane you; much more efficient, even with your drawers on. Now shall we get on with it?’

“I gulped slightly. Everyone who had had the cane told me it was horrifically painful, and I’d seen what had happened to Mary.

“’Please not the cane,’ I said: ‘Please not the cane. Please anything else but not the cane.’

“She very sensibly ignored me, and got her cane out, which was not that long, but extraordinarily swishy. I wondered where I was going to kneel. At my school when we were birched we knelt on a chaise longue, and held onto the knobs at the end. If we were silly enough to make a fuss (as I did the first time) our hands were unceremoniously tied to the knobs. Then your skirts were pulled out of the way, and your drawers were lowered. Miss Chapman used to pause at this point, and do something at her desk, while you had time to consider the situation. That was horrible. And then you were whipped, which was painful, but I for one could just about take. Anyway there was no obvious place to kneel. I concluded I was probably going to kneel on the floor, and perhaps put my hands on a chair. I don’t know why I remember thinking this in such detail, but I do.

“Anyway I said: ‘Do you want me to kneel on the floor, and put my hands on the armchair?’

“’No,’ she said. ‘You are going to bend over, and touch your toes.’

“This was so like what happened to Mary, I really thought she must have been standing outside the door when we were up to our stupid tricks. I think though now she was simply doing what was becoming fairly normal for boys, but she scared me witless saying that. How much more did she know?

“I bent. It seemed an awfully long way down to my toes. I had the usual long skirts on, and when she unceremoniously dragged them over my head, it was like being in a sack. It was very dark, and very frightening. I will never forget the sting of that first stroke, and there were at least a dozen more to come. I did not yell that much; my pride would not let me. But I wept as I have never wept in my life.

“Anyway it taught me two things I remember as a headmistress. One, that the cane is very effective. And secondly, that more than six is cruel.”

“And it did nothing at all for you?” Said the Brigadier, looking at her oddly.

“Nothing at all, dear. It was just horrible.”

“And what was it like afterwards?” Blurted out Pat, genuinely quite shocked at the thought of more than a dozen strokes, with only thin cotton drawers on. The canings on the hands she had seen were nothing like this.

“I am not sure you should ask that!” Said the Brigadier. “Do you really want to tell these young people the rest, Maddie?”

It was clear the Brigadier was very slightly uneasy, though Pat could not imagine why.

“Oh why not? We’ve told them the rest. What does it matter now? You must understand how repressed we were. Much of it has gone now, and hopefully in time the rest of it will follow. I do my little bit for that, of course, by turning the odd blind eye. If one of my mistresses were to improve her social education by sleeping with half the men in the neighbourhood, and going in ditches and woods with the other half, it really would not be my concern, but you know most of my fellow headmistresses would have had the mistress’s head on a platter for just one of those little goings on. Myself, I prefer to remember myself at various points in my life…”

“Maddie dear, you are going on rather. Tell the story if you must.”

“I’m sorry, dear. It’s this excellent brandy. And this horrible war that is coming. Oh why must we have another war?

“Where was I? Oh yes, I went out of that room in a state of pain and humiliation I want never to encounter again, with the tears rolling down my cheeks. I wanted two things: To get out of the College before somebody realized what had happened to me, and to see Henry. However in those days you could only visit a man in his college if you had another girl with you. I think if I’d met Sarah I’d have asked her to go with me, but the thought of any one else was too painful somehow. I knew I had to walk till this dreadful punishment had worn off, and walking by yourself was something you were allowed to do, so I walked as best as I could, out of Cambridge.

“I had an idea, you see, though it was a long shot. I knew that Henry was fond of early morning fishing and I knew his favourite spot. I had been there with him in a party of four or five. There was just a chance he had decided to miss a lecture and carry on. He did occasionally, but really I knew the chances of meeting him were slight. Still I thought that I would be somewhere where his presence would be very strong.”

“You never told me that.” Said the Brigadier, genuinely touched. “Is that really true?”

“No, it’s not brandy dear, I do mean it. Anyhow I staggered five or six miles, in the worst pain I have ever known, and weeping profusely. I managed to avoid people, more or less, which was a relief. I knew my way round. I’d done quite a lot of walking round there. Anyway I got there and, thank god, Henry was there. I just threw my arms my arms round him, and cried. I think he thought I was mad to start with, but he was patient, and eventually I told him the story, and telling him seemed to calm me down.”

“I was angry as I’ve ever been. I was for horsewhipping the woman, but she wouldn’t have it, said it would get us sent down to no purpose, or perhaps I would even end up before the Magistrates, or worse.” Said the Brigadier pensively.

Pat wondered why the two old people felt this story to be so shocking. Apart from the fact that they had met alone, what was wrong? It all seemed rather sweet.

“And then,” said the Brigadier. “She said: ‘would you like to go for a walk with me in that wood?’ I could not think what she was talking about. It was not even much of a wood, more of a large copse, but not very well kept, and a lot of bushes. Anyway, I thought why not, I’d humour the girl. She’d had a rough time. It wasn’t quite proper, but no great harm, and no one to see, and all that.

“Anyway, there was a small dry clearing right in the middle and she just stood there, without saying a word, and took all her darn clothes off. Most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. And then she lay back on a heap of leaves, and she just looked at me, and it did not seem the sort of invitation you turn down. I remember it was very cold to start with, but we warmed up. I am not sure I was very good, but you do not think of that the first couple of times.”

“We were not very expert, but I still think it was the best rogering I ever had.” Observed Miss Mills.

“You knew a darn sight more than I did. Must have been those Saturday afternoons.”

“Maybe dear. I must say if I had had your baby then, I would not have minded too much.”

“Oh it would have been dreadful, Maddie. Known several young couples who got caught like that. We were lucky we didn’t. No, we are much better as we’ve been.”

And yet Pat wondered if there had been a baby. She was already fairly sure that Alice was Miss Mill’s child. Perhaps there had been another one that had died. Be that as it may, Miss Mills went very quiet after this and the two girls looked at one another, excused themselves and left Miss Mills with her retired Brigadier.

Pat went out of the room wondering if whipping was something she should explore with Alice? Was that what Miss Mills had meant by telling them this odd story? She was not sure. She was rarely quite sure what her headmistress meant. And yet why tell the story otherwise? And had there really been only one whipping. She found that hard to believe. Surely Miss Mills must have toned it down for her young female audience? It was all very confusing.

The End

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