A headmaster helps the local police out with a minor traffic matter

By Joanna Jones

Mr Grey was working on a report for the education authority when his concentration was broken by the ring of the intercom.

“Headmaster, Sergeant Hills is on the phone.” Said Mrs Jacobson.

Mr Grey picked up the phone and said: “Sergeant, how can I help you?”

“Good Morning, Headmaster. I have a bit of an issue which might need your help.” Replied the policeman. “It’s related to Miss Finn.”

The headmaster rolled his eyes and took a deep breath. “More boys making too much noise on the way home?” He asked gloomily.

Miss Finn was not young. In fact she was around 85 years old. She lived alone and was physically hale, looking like she could go on for another, goodness knows how many years. Mentally was a different story. Every year she became more bad tempered and cantankerous. Her house was near the school, and unfortunately close to the bus stop that many pupils got the bus home from. She was forever complaining about the boys, and sometimes girls, making too much noise or fooling around outside her house. The number of assemblies he had harped on about behaviour outside school as a result. Truth was the pupils were pretty well behaved at his grammar school, and unless they were standing in a perfect line in silence the old besom was never going to be happy.

He had recently in desperation gone out one afternoon directly after school and got hold of a couple of boys who were marginally more noisy and boisterous than the rest and caned them.

He had felt a little guilty in doing so as it was barely justified, but it had had the desired effect. The old bat had not complained to the police (always the police, never to him) since then.

However, that was not the problem he was being phoned about.

“No,” replied the sergeant. “I am afraid it is a bit more serious this time. You have a pupil, Wendy Dalton, in the upper sixth, you know her?”

Mr Grey was astonished at the name. “Yes,” he replied. “Exceptionally bright, studious girl, very intense and hard working, she is though rather shy and lacking in confidence. I hoped making her a prefect would help that, but she still is a bit withdrawn. I can’t think of anything she could have done to upset Miss Finn.”

“You remember we had a lot of rain on Saturday morning? Well Miss Finn was out for some shopping later. Unfortunately young Miss Dalton went though a puddle in her parents’ car and rather soaked the old lady.”

“And…?” Asked Mr Grey.

“And, though it seems to me an unfortunate accident, Miss Finn is furious and is insisting we press charges.”

“So she gets a few points on her licence and a fine?” The Headmaster said.

“Perhaps unlucky but hopefully she’ll be more careful.” He was wondering what the problem was.

The sergeant replied. “No, that’s the problem, soaking someone is not a simple driving offence, but carries with it a criminal element. If she is found guilty, she gets a record.”

“What!!” Exclaimed the Head. “I never knew that! Are you sure?”

“Unfortunately, yes.” Was the reply. The Sergeant continued: “I think the law is supposed to be applied for the sort of boy racers who drive at speed though puddles thinking it funny to soak a bus queue or such like. However, Wendy seems to have been caught out by a car that was probably speeding coming the other way, and rather cut the corner on the curve of the road. It seems Wendy was forced to swerve and brake into the kerbside, where Miss Finn was walking next to a rather large puddle covering a blocked drain.

“So Wendy was not really breaking any driving rule,” said the Headmaster.

“Well it would be fairly easy to argue that she should have been going slower too, although I don’t believe she was actually speeding. Strictly speaking I think she should probably have seen the danger coming a little earlier, but then many young inexperienced drivers tend to make that sort of mistake. Having said that I suspect what happened could have been to you or me. A case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Replied the Sergeant.

“And as far as the law is concerned you can’t give her some kind of ordinary driving offence instead?” Confirmed the headmaster.

“You have the problem in a nutshell,” he replied. “The irony is after the accident Wendy did everything right. She stopped, apologised, gave her name and address, and even gave her a lift home. But then Miss Finn called the station, and claimed she had been deliberately soaked.”

“But she didn’t deliberately soak her.” The head said in exasperation.

“Yes I know, but she was soaked. And unfortunately the fact it was accidental in my view will not help Wendy, as that would only affect the punishment, rather than conviction.” Replied Sergeant Hills.

“So where do I come in?” The headmaster asked.

“I know Wendy and her parents. As I understand it from them a criminal record would be disastrous for her chances of getting into University. Is that right?”

Mr Grey confined himself to saying: “Well it could make things rather difficult, especially as she is aiming to get to Oxford, as far as I remember.”

Mr Hills continued: “Well, they are pretty desperate to find a way out. I have tried speaking to Miss Finn but she is adamant that the law must be applied. I was wondering if maybe you might be able to talk to her.”

The Head considered. “I will happily do that for Wendy, but from what you say I can’t see why that will make any difference. You know better than me what she is like.”

“Yes, but there is one chance I think. You could ask her to let the school deal with it.”

“And how would that help?” The Head asked. “I can’t see any punishment I can give her being accepted by the woman.”

“I think she might be persuaded to accept a caning as an alternative. She is a rather traditional old lady. We just need to convince her that some form of retribution she understands has taken place.” Replied the policeman.

“But you know we don’t cane girls!” Said the head sharply.

“Not even to stop a girl being unfairly lumbered with a criminal record? I have checked. Other schools in the county cane them so there is no rule against it.”

“But….”

“And a couple of months ago you dealt with those two drunk sixth form boys rather than the ‘Breach of the Peace’ offence that they should have got. Why should you not at least give Wendy the same choice?” Overrode the sergeant.

There was a long pause before the Head eventually replied. “Okay, leave it with me and I’ll see what I can do.”

As he put the receiver down he looked at his watch. It was quarter to eleven in the morning. Before going to speak to Miss Finn he decided he should speak to both Wendy and her parents.

Parents first. He got the file out and got hold of Mrs Dalton at home. Mr Grey had to listen to the story again, including how unfair it was on Wendy, and her whole life was being ruined by a simple mistake. She was quite emotional, and had some pretty colourful words to describe the attitude of old Miss Finn. While sympathising with her he pointed out that this was not going to help solve the problem.

He then outlined Sergeant Hill’s suggestion, emphasising how uncomfortable he was with it, especially given Wendy’s nature, but that he would go along with it if others wished it.

It took Mrs Dalton sometime to calm down enough to consider objectively. She did not like the idea of the cane at all, though she did agree it was a better option than the criminal record. Eventually she agreed they would support Wendy in whatever choice she made.

Ten minutes and one coffee later he sent his secretary to fetch Wendy.

The girl had guessed what this was about immediately, but had got the wrong end of the stick, thinking she might be suspended or expelled for the incident in addition to whatever the police did. It took Mr Grey half an hour and much of a box of tissues to calm the girl down and listen to her side of the story; a third version of the same events that he’d heard that morning.

Eventually when he judged she was calm enough he told her that the school would do their absolute best for her no matter what. However, he could not guarantee what a University would actually do if she got a conviction. Wendy was struggling not to cry again at that point.

He then tentatively outlined Sergeant Hill’s suggestion. Wendy’s face contorted through various emotions and turned white as she considered the prospect of being caned. Mr Grey deliberately ensured that the poor girl understood if he did cane her, he would need to do it as he would for any other pupil, and that she would, just like the boys, find it very painful.

When she asked if it would be on her bottom, and whether it would be on her knickers, all Mr Grey could say was he was asking in principle, but everything he knew about Miss Finn suggested that she should prepare herself for the worst. He did reassure her that under no circumstances would he agree to cane her, or even agree to have a female teacher cane her, with her knickers down.

Eventually, Wendy made her decision. If Miss Finn would drop the matter then she would take the cane. Her last comment to him was a heartfelt: “This is just so unfair!”

Mr Grey grimaced sympathetically. “I agree Wendy. I know it is no consolation, but my father used to always tell me when I said that, that no one said life was fair. All the school and I can do to help here is to try to make it less unfair.”

Wendy was left to ponder that over lunch.

Meanwhile Mrs Jacobson contacted the old lady to arrange for the Head to visit her.

Thus, around 2 pm Mr Grey walked the short distance round the corner to Miss Finn’s bungalow. After brief pleasantries, where the Head discussed the bus stop issue, including his requests to the council to have it moved closer to the school to minimise disruption, they discussed the splashing incident.

As he feared and expected, Miss Finn was being rather unreasonable about it. While she eventually accepted that it might have been accidental, and reluctantly accepted that Wendy had behaved correctly afterward, she still was insistent that the girl must be punished; the law must take its course. The fact that Wendy was a model pupil cut little ice, and Mr Grey quickly regretted telling her she was a prefect, as he got a long discourse on how such pupils should be above reproach in return.

Seeing no hope of her letting Wendy off, he eventually suggested that one possibility was to allow the school to deal with it.

Miss Finn’s initial reaction that the police would never allow it, and Mr Grey had to reassure her that it was not exceptionally uncommon, and the police were happy as long as the school gave an appropriate punishment, and any interested party was happy with the arrangement.

Miss Finn instantly made it clear that she felt in her case it would have to be a severe punishment. After all she was a frail old woman who could have caught her death of cold.

Looking at the undoubtedly hale woman sitting in front of her Mr Grey bit his lip at her description of being frail. At least she had not dismissed the concept out of hand.

After some discussion, where Mr Grey had to reassure Miss Finn that he would do it ‘properly’, they came to an agreement. It would be ‘six-of-the-best’ with her skirt up. Miss Finn had wanted worse, and harped on about the sorts of punishments she had had as a schoolchild, but had eventually acquiesced to what Mr Grey said was the severest punishment he could reasonably administer.

After suitable (rather hypocritical) thanks for her ‘consideration’ and ‘flexibility’ Mr Grey returned to the school. A few phone calls later and he had the confirmation from Sergeant Hills that Miss Finn had formally agreed to the school dealing with it.

Asking Mrs Jacobson what class Wendy was in, he found she was on a double study period to the end of the day.

However, before speaking to Wendy again, he walked down to the PE Department and found Mrs Taylor. In addition to being games-mistress she also ran the cross-country team, an activity Wendy was very good at. He had decided he needed a female to witness and having someone for the role who he believed Wendy liked and trusted seemed a very wise idea.

Mrs Taylor was out on the Hockey pitch with a couple of classes of girls. Setting them to do some training drills she gave her attention to the Headmaster.

When he mentioned he needed a witness as he was going to cane a girl she was shocked, and immediately asked who it was.

As he replied: “Wendy Dalton,” she stopped keeping her eyes on the girls and turned and faced him incredulously.

Mr Grey watched the incredulity turn to irritation then resignation as he outlined the story as briefly as he could. After a brief discussion about the best way to approach the punishment Mrs Taylor said she could arrange with the other games teacher to be free for a few minutes to speak to Wendy during the final period and discuss things with her. Having the Head see her twice in one day would certainly lead to gossip, and Mrs Taylor was sure Wendy would want to keep the unpleasant episode as quiet as possible.

Mr Grey returned to catch up with at least some of the work he had hoped to get through that day.

About half an hour later, Mrs Taylor managed to extract Wendy from the common room and found a nearby empty class to have a private chat.

As Wendy realised this was not about cross-country, but the incident with Miss Finn, her face became pensive and she bit her lip.

“Wendy, the Head has managed to persuade Miss Finn to allow the school to deal with the matter, but only as long as you are caned I am afraid.” Mrs Taylor started.

Wendy nodded numbly. She had pretty well resigned herself to that fate, anything less would have been a bonus. This morning she would have wanted to cry, but having hid away at lunchtime, as well as the tears shed in the headmaster’s office that morning, she was emotionally drained.

Mr Grey thinks I know you better than most teachers and has asked me to act as the female witness, assuming you are happy with that.

Wendy nodded and said dully: “Yes, that’s fine.” Then, with a little more emotion, she looked at the teacher and said: “Thanks.”

Mrs Taylor then continued: “Do you still wish to go through with this Wendy?”

“I really don’t think I have much choice do I? It seems so unfair, but… well I suppose that’s just my bad luck.” Wendy tried to smile at the end, though it was more of a grimace.

“Mr Grey suggested we do it after school tonight. We could leave it to tomorrow morning, but it would be more private this way, and I assume you’re not telling everyone about it. Also I will give you a lift home after if you want.”

“No, I am not telling anyone, even my best friend.” Wendy agreed. She took a deep breath. “I suppose it is best to get it over with, and thanks for the offer of the lift.” She gave another grimace-like smile.

“Right, why don’t you come to the PE Department at the bell and we will go together to Mr Grey’s office.”

Wendy nodded and with that Mrs Taylor returned to her class while Wendy returned to her studies, spending the last half hour staring blankly at a list of French vocabulary. It was difficult to think of anything other than the fact that very soon she was going to be the only girl in the school to have been caned.

She had heard stories from the boys of course, but it was often difficult to separate bravado from reality. Whatever the case she knew it was very painful. A boy who’d been caned was usually very subdued after, even if not usually in tears.

Finally the bell rang. A couple of friends were expecting her to walk home with them as usual, but Wendy made her apologies and set off slowly for the games department.

Nervously she tapped on Mrs Taylor’s office door as the last few pupils straggled out of the neighbouring changing room.

“Ah, Wendy! Come on in.” Said the teacher, artificially brightly.

She was a little more sombre as soon as the door closed. “Still okay?” She asked sympathetically.

Wendy gave another trademark grimace. “I suppose so, at least at the moment.” She replied.

The teacher produced a pair of navy blue regulation gym knickers. “Do you want to borrow these?” She asked.

Wendy looked rather shocked.

“As I think you know Miss Finn has insisted that you do not get the added protection of your skirt. And I assume you are wearing some thin briefs at present.”

Wendy nodded.

“Mr Grey insisted and Miss Finn eventually agreed that you receive it on at least your pants rather than with them down, which she claims her headmistress did to her back at the turn of the century. However, nobody said what kind or combination of underwear you need wear. So in the interests of modesty you can put these on over the top if you want.”

“Is that really allowed?” Asked Wendy nervously. She had visions of Mr Grey telling her she had broken the rules and making things worse.

“Trust me. Mr Grey is not going to make an issue of it. In fact he is concerned enough about having to ask you to bend over in your knickers. And Miss Finn is not going to be around to complain!”

Wendy nodded rather nervously.

Mrs Taylor looked at the poor girl sympathetically. “Wendy, remember Mr Grey does not want to do this, but he is a man of his word. He has given his word that he will cane you ‘properly’ on your knickers, but he is happy to interpret knickers to include gym knickers. Also I should not tell you this, but Miss Finn did not specify which cane. You will be getting his ordinary one, not the one he typically uses on the rare occasion he canes a sixth form boy.”

Wendy supposed she was supposed to be grateful, and thanked the teacher as she took the extra garment, kicked off her shoes and slipped it on under her skirt. After buckling her shoes back she stood and looked nervously at her.

“You can bring the knickers back tomorrow or whenever.” Mrs Taylor said, then after a pause she continued. “A secret I would ask you keep to yourself; I was caned too at school Wendy. Yes it is very sore, but it’s soon over. Try to be brave and hold on. Don’t worry about crying I was in floods of tears both times, but at least once finished it was over.”

Wendy looked at the teacher questioningly as she led her out of the door.

Mrs Taylor glanced back. “Don’t ask me what I did. On both occasions I suppose I did at least deserve it though.”

The school was deserted as they walked quietly along the corridor to the Headmaster’s office.

Mrs Taylor glanced pensively at Wendy next to her. Of all the girls to fall foul of Miss Finn, she thought, why someone like Wendy, a girl who had probably never been smacked let alone caned? There were quite a few young ladies in the school that in her view might have benefited from a sore bottom, or hands, but…, well, what she thought of the old hag, Miss Finn, was not really printable.

Wendy saw the look. “I feel like the condemned on the way to execution.” She said nervously. “And here’s the door to the chamber,” as they arrived outside the Head’s office.

When Wendy paused, Mrs Taylor took the initiative and knocked.

“Come!” Came the call.

“Ohh!” Gasped Wendy as she saw the cane lying on the headmaster’s desk.

Having seen the reaction Mr Grey asked, with not a little concern: “Wendy, are you still wanting to go through with this?”

“If I want a chance at that place at Oxford I don’t think I have a choice.” Said Wendy. “I…I know what you have to do, and I know you are as reluctant as me. However, I am not the first and won’t be the last schoolgirl in the world to be whacked.”

After a pause she finally said: “I am sorry to have caused you such trouble, sir.”

“Thanks Wendy, you are a brave girl.” Replied the Head. There was little else to say so he continued. “Shall we get it over with?”

Wendy took a deep breath and rather squeaked: “What do you want me to do?”

“Give your blazer to Mrs Taylor, then bend over with your legs slightly apart and grab you ankles, okay?” Replied the head.

Taking a deep breath Wendy did as she was told. The position was not very comfortable as the muscles in the back of her legs stretched. At the same time there was a slight rattle as Mr Grey picked the cane off his desk.

“Mrs Taylor?” Asked the head.

Wendy felt the games mistress approach and gently flip her skirt up, revealing the navy gym knickers.

Despite Mrs Taylor’s reassurances, Wendy was still relieved when no comment was made about the two layers.

In fact the head was rather glad the girl had two pairs of underwear on. In addition to the any (admittedly marginal) protection it afforded, the ruggles made the sight of a young lady’s bottom sticking out at him a little less alluring. On that front he was very glad he’d invited Mrs Taylor as a witness.

Suddenly Wendy felt the touch of the cane on her knickers, closed her eyes and gritted her teeth. She had had all afternoon to think about this possibility and had determined to try not to cry. Whereas the fact that she did not feel she deserved this had upset her earlier, it was now hardening and stiffening her resolve.

As she tightened her grip on her ankles she heard the swish and then the crack as the cane cut into her rump for the first time.

A gasp escaped her as the effect of the impact went through her senses.

Mr Grey was relieved. He had feared tears before starting and her standing on the first blow. Though he had indeed chosen a lighter cane than a sixth form boy would usually experience, he had given the stroke as he would normally.

After around ten seconds, taking careful aim he cracked down the second.

Another small gasp from Wendy.

The third was a little lower and slightly harder, but Mrs Taylor was impressed to see the girl holding still and remaining silent. She remembered both her canings. On the first she had bawled from the beginning, while on the second, which like this had been a six-of-the-best, only the first stroke was in relative silence and the tears had started on the third.

Crack!

The fourth stroke landed high on the target and there was a stifled sound as Wendy tried to control herself. She had never known such pain, but her resolve was just about holding. If the boys’ stories were right though, the worst was still to come.

Mr Grey was lining up low on the target, and then unleashed a full blooded cut.

Mrs Taylor winced to herself as it landed. Wendy may be taking this well and Mr Grey had given his word, but even so that was a hard blow.

Wendy struggled not to scream with some sort of grunt escaping through clenched teeth. That had been agony. One to go she thought desperately. Just hold on…

Crack!

The hardest blow yet, right on the base of her bottom, where the elastic of the blue knickers wrapped round her legs. An altogether desperate grunt then deep breaths – it was over.

Could she stand though? Mr Grey had not told her whether she needed to wait, though the boys said he was known to insist they did so.

After a brief moment she heard the welcome words: “You can get up now, Wendy.”

She stood and immediately gently probed the ridges through her knickers. She had survived, and she had surprised herself by holding it together. Suddenly she was aware of the two teachers watching her and, blushing, she let go of her pained rear and let the skirt fall back into place.

In some ways seeing Mr Grey adding her name to the punishment book was more humiliating and despite her exquisitely sore rear it was that that suddenly led her to feel tears welling up in her eyes. Her name recorded for posterity as a solitary ‘naughty girl’ amongst all the boys.

Biting her lip she gave her sleeve a quick pass on her face as she told herself to get hold of those feelings.

To distract herself she got her blazer back from Mrs Taylor and pulled it on.

The formalities completed, Mr Grey looked across. “Well done, you took that very bravely.” He indicated. “When you are ready, then you can go.”

“Thank you, sir, for sorting things out,” replied Wendy as she picked up her bag that she’d left by the door and made her way out, followed by Mrs Taylor.

As she walked slowly towards the exit Mrs Taylor commented how bravely she took it. “Much better than I ever did,” she said.

Wendy grimaced again. “I tried to tell myself that I should not let Miss Finn win. I think that is the only reason I didn’t scream and cry.”

As they reached the exit Mrs Taylor gently reminded Wendy that she might be better to stop holding her rear, just in case a school friend saw her.

With mumbled thanks she dropped her hands and concentrated on walking as normally to the car as possible. She was unable to get into the car so easily but eventually was sitting not very comfortably in the passenger seat of the Mini.

One quiet journey later Wendy was home. Her mother was waiting for her, gave her a hug, and told her how proud she was of her.

Finally Wendy could let her emotions go. Finally the ordeal was over.

The End