The next instalment
By Wendy A
The Xmas holidays were uneventful after I returned home; my parents had organised various dinner and drinks parties and we would spend New Year’s Eve at the golf club. It was very tame compared to the fun of staying with Hugh. I longed to give him a call to see if we could meet again before term started but firstly my parents had organised a full schedule and secondly I was worried that Hugh may feel that I was being overly pushy.
Dr Dover had invited Hugh and I to return early on the day of the return to school. We both arrived at about 11.30, me with my parents and Hugh with Sandra; his parents had been invited up to Scotland. We moved our things into our rooms whilst my parents and Sandra were invited to join the Headmaster for a drink.
Hugh and I made our way to the Headmaster’s study to join the rest of them; I still had strange feelings walking down the corridor to his study, would I ever get over the terror I felt that day in December when I was severely caned in his study. It was strange seeing Sandra again and I could not help but imagining that it was Sandra that would be bending over the chair for a dose of the cane. We were then invited to his dining room where several other teachers had assembled; lunch was of the usual high standard.
After lunch I said goodbye to my parents and my Father whispered: “I trust that you will not make the same mistake again, be measured when you punish anyone.” I was a little disturbed to know that he was aware of what had happened a few weeks previously.
I noticed that Sandra was lingering with Hugh. Once my parents had set off down the drive she came over to me and said: “Right Wendy, time for a guided tour of your domain. I gather the kids are not due to arrive till at least 4pm.” She kissed Hugh on the cheek and we headed for Devon House.
On entering we met Miss Jones; we chatted for a couple of minutes and she asked to see me after dinner that evening. We then went through to my study. She was surprised at how spacious it was. On the other hand she commented on how small the bedroom was. “Not much room for hanky panky in here. So where do you keep your stock of canes?” We went back into my study and I opened a cupboard, she took out one of the canes and flexed it. “Mmmm, now that would really sting, do you need any practice before term starts?” I suggested that with Miss Jones wandering around it would not be sensible even if the thought was attractive.
I took her on a tour of the girls’ area and the she asked: “Where do you punish the kids when they misbehave?” I explained that we used the boys’ changing room and that beatings usually took place towards the end of evening studies. I took her through to the boys’ area and into the changing room. I explained that a bench was moved to the clear area next to the door to the showers and that the culprits had to bend over one end and hold on to the sides of the bench. “Surely if they stand astride the bench then their private parts will be on display when flogged on their bare bottoms?” I explained that the boys were allowed to wear jock straps and the girls paper thongs but that the juniors were not permitted any cover of the intimate areas.
We wandered back to School House and found Hugh in his study. He made us coffee and after a while Sandra stood saying that she had better get going before she got into any trouble that could result in a sore bottom. She kissed us both on the cheek and left. Alone at last with Hugh but we would have to get used to the imaginary barbed wire fence between us; this was going to be very difficult because all I wanted was to hug him.
I found Miss Jones in her study after dinner that first evening. She wanted to discuss two matters, firstly the appointment of a female deputy that could relieve some of the burden of disciplining the girls and secondly the appointment of additional girl prefects. She informed me that Dr Dover had decided that Miss Black would be appointed and would locate to Hereford House at the start of the new school year and once girls moved in there. This brought a smile to my face which Miss Jones spotted.
“Something amusing you Wendy?”
I wondered whether to mention what had been said at the dinner on the first day of the school year; on balance I decided that it was best forgotten as one day Miss Black could be called upon to cane me. I just replied that I was sure that Miss Black would stand no nonsense and would ensure that any wayward behaviour would not be repeated.
On the question of further girl prefects, she informed me that this had been discussed with both the Headmaster and Bill Williams. It had been decided that a decision would be made towards the end of term and once the lower 6th girls had had a little longer to acclimatise.
Life at school was much as usual at the start of term. About three weeks into the term the weather turned very nasty; firstly there was heavy snow, then a long freezing spell followed by a milder but very wet couple of weeks. During this period there were no outside games for everyone to let off steam.
Hugh called a meeting of the senior prefects to discuss how we could relieve the tensions that were building during this spell of bad weather. We needed something like a mixed hockey tournament to reduce the pressure. Three possible ideas resulted, firstly a five-a-side football tournament in the gym and secondly a series of skits similar to the ones at the end of the autumn term. The third idea was to have orienteering where groups of pupils would be set a route to follow through the surrounding countryside.
We requested a meeting with Dr Dover to put our thoughts to him. That evening Hugh and I went to his study. On entering we found several senior members of staff present including Bill Williams and Miss Jones.
For once Hugh let me do the presentation. I explained our fears that tensions were building during the bad weather and that we could expect an explosion at any minute. Something had to be done to relieve the pressures and build up a spirit of co-operation between the different grades of pupils, the girls and boys, and the three separate houses. I briefly described our ideas for the three activities. Dr Dover thanked me and turned to the teachers present for comments. The idea of having skits or short plays seemed to be agreed without any adverse comment.
For the mixed football there were some doubts given the size of the gym and lack of space for more than a handful of spectators. Also the question of contact between players was raised plus whether some of the juniors might be intimidated by playing against older pupils. Dr Dover agreed to give this option further thought with perhaps two separate tournaments, fourth and fifth years together and then 6th formers in a separate competition.
The orienteering brought the most adverse comments, not least the possibility of one or more groups becoming lost in the snow. Dr Dover asked us all to reflect on the pitfalls and try to come up with solutions that would reduce the risks to an acceptable level.
At the end of the meeting he asked Hugh and me to remain; he indicated that we should sit on the sofas by the fire and offered us a glass of sherry. For once he seemed a little nervous and did not come immediately to the point that was so obviously troubling him. Finally he collected his thoughts and started: “Correct me if I am wrong but I feel that there is a bond between you that goes far beyond that of co-operation between the two joint heads of school.”
We turned to face each other, both dumbstruck as we had hoped to conceal our private feelings from those around us. Hugh spoke first: “It is true Headmaster, we have got to know each other very well over the last year and for my part I hope that we will continue to meet long after we leave this school.”
It was all I could do to add: “Those are my feelings as well.”
He again took his time to continue. “You are both young adults and in other circumstances you would be able to express your feelings openly. However within the confines of a school like this, any open expression of love would be inappropriate and could encourage younger ones to mimic any signs such as holding hands or touching or kissing.
“You may think I am an old fuddy duddy from a bygone era, perhaps you are right, but this is part of the aura of being Headmaster. On the other hand I still remember being your age and can fully appreciate the feelings that you have for each other. I met my wife when we were still both at school, not the same school, but they were in close proximity. We also lived close by and met often during the holidays. Our parents knew each other and were friends. The context before the war was somewhat different from the more relaxed atmosphere that prevails today and so the occasions when we could express our feelings were very limited. We both feared our parents or teachers finding out and anything more than a cuddle had to wait till we left school.
“I really do know how difficult it can be to avoid contact; it’s like putting an imaginary barbed wire fence between you. Now I come to the most difficult part. You know the rules as well as I do, you know that your peers and juniors look up to you both and respect you, you know how much I appreciate working with you and you are highly regarded by all the staff. Do not let yourselves down I implore you. Hold back for the few weeks of term, the holidays are not light years away and I guess you will be meeting up then when you will be free to express your feelings in any way you see fit.”
We sat there in silence, looking at each other and then the Headmaster. How did he know so much? We both in our own ways assured him that we had discussed this and were both determined to abide strictly by the rules.
He then offered us a second sherry and we chatted about the proposals that we had discussed earlier. By the time we left it was getting late and I hurried back to Devon House to find only a few prefects still up. Over a mug of hot chocolate I briefly went through the discussions about the proposed activities and then finally went to bed with my mind spinning and my feelings even stronger for Hugh.
Over the next few days the five-a-side football competition took shape, teams were chosen carefully in an attempt to mix ages, abilities and each team had to have two girls and three boys. For the entertainment, it had been decided to have more variety and not just silly skits. The Music Department would give two performances, the gym club would put on a show, there would be a dance routine, but not West Side Story, and a few other group or individual acts such as a magician, one of the fifth formers was a magic fanatic and was always amusing one and all with his tricks. It was decided that the show would be held a couple of days before half term, three weeks hence.
Dr Dover was still working on the orienteering and had brought in the help of an officer from the nearby army base. The idea was that soldiers would participate either as members of teams or as observers to keep track of the pupils and ensure that none got lost. In the event of a mishap they would be on hand to provide whatever assistance was required. Given the logistics, the orienteering would be held after half term and in the meantime there would be sessions on map reading, first aid, etc.
These activities seemed to have brought a more cheerful atmosphere into the School. However, keeping over four hundred teenagers indoors for weeks on end was a recipe for disaster.
That disaster occurred during the mid-morning break the week following our meeting with Dr Dover. I was in the library when I heard a commotion. I quickly went out into the corridor and traced the noise to the floor below where the main fifth form classes were held. Several teachers and other prefects were converging on the classrooms. It was then that I heard the booming voice of Miss Black. “All of you, into your classrooms and sit down.” She was holding a boy and a girl by the arm and a junior school house prefect had another boy in a half nelson. The crowd slowly dispersed into their respective class rooms.
By that time more prefects and teachers had arrived, probably a dozen of each. Miss Black turned to me and said: “Wendy, please allocate two prefects to each classroom to supervise the pupils and ensure there is no talking or discussion until we decide what action to take.” Prefects were duly allocated and I looked into each classroom; two of the four were in a chaotic state with books all over the floor, some desks overturned, classroom equipment discarded everywhere and possibly some more serious damage to the equipment. The other two classrooms were more or less unscathed.
Two prefects were allocated to take the three apprehended pupils to the library. Miss Black again turned to me. “Please try to find Hugh and then we can meet in Dr Dover’s study in ten minutes.” I left to search out Hugh.
I found Hugh in his study and quickly recounted what had happened. We then made our way to Dr Dover’s study. When we reached his door it was open. Miss Black was there with two other teachers that had seen the fracas. Miss Black started; she had been in the corridor only a short distance from the fifth form area and had heard shouting. Pupils from two of the classrooms were rampaging; as she made her way through the throng she found at the centre two boys and a girl on the floor, the two boys were fighting, Butler and Porter, and the girl, Susan, was sitting there crying and nursing a bloody nose. Others were it seems involved in the fighting but had stopped when someone shouted: “Sadie,” the pupil’s nickname for Miss Black.
Apart from the three at the centre she was unsure who was fighting, who was trying to calm everyone down, and who was just watching from the sidelines.
Dr Dover turned to Hugh and I. “So what do you think we should do?”
Hugh indicated that I should speak, possibly because I had witnessed the aftermath.
“First I would like to find out why the three at the centre were fighting and what ignited the situation, for that we will have to interview the three in the library. As it is clear that the chaos was not just caused by the three at the centre of the disturbance but by quite a few others, we need to ascertain the names of those that were involved.
“In order to do that, one way would be to ask all four classes to list the names of their classmates that were definitely not involved and those that had attempted to stop the fight. We can then cross reference the names and I am sure that we will have a pretty good idea of those that behaved in a more correct manner. We can then draw up a list of those that are on the face of it guilty. At that stage we should assemble the four classes and ask for those involved to step forward.
“In line with the honour rules amongst classmates, I am sure that over ninety per cent will admit to being involved. We can then invite any others that may be hesitating to inform a prefect at the following break; peer pressure will have had time to work and we should end up with a list as near to one hundred per cent as possible.”
The others present were surprised when I stopped. Dr Dover was shaking his head. “Wendy, you will go far in this world. In a matter of minutes you have set out a method of proceeding that seems to answer every aspect bar one, that of the punishment. Would you enlighten us on that?”
All eyes were on me. “Depending on the interviews with the three at the centre of the fight, they clearly deserve the cane. As far as the others are concerned, it will be very difficult to ascertain a degree of unruly behaviour, it would seem appropriate for them all to receive six with the slipper.”
Dr Dover asked for comments. There were none, so he suggested that Hugh and I set the wheels in motion as suggested and then to report back to him after lunch.
Hugh and I returned to the fifth form area. Rather than telling each class individually what to do we escorted them to the gym. Hugh then set out what would happen; they would each be given a blank sheet of paper and would make two lists, one for those on the sidelines and one for those that had tried to put an end to the fight and general disorder. We then escorted them back to their classrooms, handed them each a sheet of paper and told them that they had ten minutes to complete the lists.
At the end of the ten minutes we collected the papers and returned to the gym. Hugh invited those that had been involved in the fracas to step forward and move over to the wall bars. There was a shuffling of feet and slowly several began to move towards the wall bars. Some were clearly hesitant, probably desperately wondering whether their names would be included on the lists prepared by their classmates or not as well as the reaction of their peers if they did not own up.
After a few minutes there were about twenty of the almost one hundred pupils next to the wall bars, mostly boys but also a handful of girls. Hugh then informed the remainder that they had till lunch to inform a prefect if they wished to change their minds. They were dismissed and told to return to class. The guilty filed past Hugh and I as we noted their names.
Hugh and I went to his study, he made a coffee and then we went through the lists checking these off against the school secretary’s list of all fifth form pupils. There were several that had not admitted to guilt, yet did not appear on the lists prepared by their classmates. Otherwise the lists were fairly consistent. In a couple of cases the guilty ones appeared on the other lists and we decided to interview them. We also went to the secretary’s office to find out whether any fifth formers were absent; we discovered that two were sick and one was absent following a bereavement in his family. That left us only two who had not admitted to guilt.
We then went to the library and asked them one by one to come to Hugh’s study. Although initially reluctant to blame the others each finally blurted out their version. After about half an hour we had a pretty good idea of the events and I prepared a checklist in order to present the facts to Dr Dover when we met him after lunch.
During lunch our list was completed, the final two had approached prefects to admit their guilt; thank god for peer pressure. After lunch we called the two guilty ones who had appeared on lists as not participating in the fracas. We took each in turn into Hugh’s study and put the question to them. In neither case did they defend themselves, it seems that at some point they may have tried to stop the fight but had then joined in.
Again assembled in Dr Dover’s study he turned to Hugh and I; again Hugh left it to me to present the facts.
“There may be some inaccuracies in our version but we are both convinced that we are as near to the truth as possible. It appears that Susan Neil had been teasing Butler; she had suggested that he was not a real man and a goody goody. She had goaded him to lift her skirt to see her panties. ‘You wouldn’t dare,’ she had said over and over again. Finally in a rage he had grabbed her, lifted her skirt and then gave her hard whack on her bottom.
“At this point Porter intervened and punched Butler who had tried to avoid the blow to his head but had head butted Susan on the nose. Blood immediately flowed from her nose and she sank to the floor. Butler and Porter continued fighting and shouting abuse at each other. Initially some of the other boys had tried to pull the two antagonists apart but in the general melee a brawl ensued in which it was not possible to ascertain who was trying to stop the fight and who was joining in for the fun.
“The class opposite then joined in and a general trashing of the two classrooms ensued. The arrival of Miss Black must have prevented the other two classes from becoming involved. Apart from Butler, Porter and Neil, we have twenty-one who have admitted to being involved, of which six are girls.”
Dr Dover nodded his head. “Thank you Wendy. This morning you suggested the cane for Butler, Porter and Neil and the slipper for the others. Do you still stand by that comment and how severe should the punishments be?”
“Let me start by the twenty-one. It is not possible to assess the degree of involvement so we should treat them all the same; six with the slipper on gym shorts and perhaps collectively in the gym. For the three main culprits there are some mitigating circumstances. Clearly Susan was very stupid to goad Butler in such a provocative way. Butler’s reaction was, it appears, one of anger. Had he done the same to a boy one might take it as a bit of horseplay, on the other hand I think he would have reacted in the same way as if a boy had been goading him. I conclude that anger overtook his senses. Porter should have tried to restrain Butler rather than taking a swipe with his fist at his head. It also appears that he continued to use his fists once they were on the floor. Chivalrous perhaps, but I consider that there was more to his reaction. To conclude they should each get six with the cane.”
Dr Dover turned to the others present. “Any comments?” Again there were none. “Thank you again Wendy for your very precise report. I fully concur with your conclusions and would only add that the cane should be applied to their bare bottoms. I would ask you and Hugh to deal with the three main culprits, for the others may I suggest that you split the twenty-one into three groups and that Miss Black assists you, do you agree Miss Black?” Miss Black nodded as a broad smile appeared on her face.
It was agreed that we would meet Miss Black in the gym at 8.30 that evening and we would invite the other three for 9.15.
All those to be punished were duly informed; the twenty-one to report to the gym at 8.30 in gym shorts with no underwear underneath and the three in similar wear at 9.15.
At about 8.15 I went to Hugh’s study with my paddle in hand. We left for the gym which was empty. We decided that the three lines would form up facing the wall bars and when it was their turn they would bend over and hold onto the lowest bar. Miss Black soon arrived; she came in and closed the door.
“It looks as if most of our clients have already arrived.”
We waited a few more minutes and then I opened the door and told them to come inside. Hugh checked off the names as they filed in. All were present and Hugh instructed them to form three lines of seven facing the wall bars. There was lots of shuffling of feet, on reflection they were trying to work out who would be slippering which line. I guess Miss Black’s queue would be the least popular. Unfortunately for them we did not position ourselves until they were all lined up. The girls had kept together and formed the queue furthest from the door; one boy looked a little embarrassed at being the only male in that queue.
Hugh invited Miss Black to take the first queue, he took the middle one and that left me the girls and solitary boy. The first three were called forward and told to bend over; they were warned that if they moved their position or took their hands off the bar they would receive extra whacks.
I took up my position to the right of the bottom presented; her shorts were stretched tight and made a delightful target. Both Miss Black and I turned to Hugh for a signal to start. He nodded his head and we started whacking the bottoms in front of each of us. We kept a steady rhythm and had all given the first six whacks at about the same time. They were told to stand and go to the far wall. I noticed that the girl’s eyes were watery but she had not made a sound. The next three were summoned and we repeated the process.
It took nearly half an hour to complete our task. Most had taken their punishment without a sound but at least two of the girls were sobbing. None had dared to release their hold of the bar. After a brief lecture from Hugh they were dismissed.
The next three were due to arrive in a matter of minutes as we stood reflecting on the experience of a mass flogging; Miss Black made no move to leave. Hugh broke the silence.
“Do you want me to cane them or shall we share the task? We seem to have established good teamwork; it would be a shame not to continue as a team.”
I looked at Miss Black who said: “Best as a team, one each.”
Hugh made the decision. “Wendy, you take Susan. I’ll take Butler and that leaves Porter for you, Miss Black.”
The three were invited into the gym and stood in a line in front of the three of us. Hugh had asked me to present a brief summary of our conclusions, Susan’s teasing and flirty behaviour, Butler’s anger and over-reaction, and Porter’s initial intervention to restrain Butler but with an over-jealous use of his fists. They were asked if they wished to add anything or for us to consider any mitigating circumstances, all three shook their heads. “Right you will each receive six of the cane on your bare bottoms.” I invited Susan to remain and for Butler and Porter to wait outside.
I beckoned to Susan to follow me over to a low bench, to straddle the end, lower her shorts and bend over. I then reminded her not to move or let go of her grip on the sides of the bench. As she bent the white paper thong came into view and her bare bottom presented an inviting target. I lined up for the first stroke and let it rip. There was a loud craaack, a white line, and a squeal from Susan. She held firm. By the time of the second stroke the first had turned red. As I proceeded her squeals grew louder, she did well to hold on till the last stroke, the hardest and diagonally across the previous five. She jumped up clutching her bottom, tears flowed down her cheeks. Her rubbing continued for well over a minute till she realised that her bottom was still bare, she stooped and pulled up her shorts. I handed her a couple of tissues, she shook our hands and I asked her to tell Butler to come in.
The same procedure was adopted, he duly bent over and Hugh lined up. I was impressed at his accuracy, the first five were equally spaced and then the last crossed the others. He let go a few grunts but held steady. On being told to stand, he immediately pulled up his shorts, turned to face us, head bowed he shook our hands and left.
Next Porter came in, he was taller than Butler and I knew was good at sports. Miss Black took charge, went through the routine, Butler lowered his shorts and bent over. I thought I could see cane lines on his bottom, perhaps a week or so old. Miss Black lined herself up, tapped his bottom with the cane and then let fly. It was certainly harder than either Hugh or I had given and brought an audible intake of breath from Porter. Miss Black was concentrating on her task; she grimaced, which accentuated the lines on her face. She was putting everything into each stroke. By the fifth stroke we heard sobbing and I began to feel sorry for him. After the sixth he was told to stand. He was clearly distressed and fumbled to replace his shorts. He came over and as I shook his hand I gave him a couple of tissues. Miss Black did not seem amused by my gesture.
We then dismissed the three culprits and we wished Miss Black goodnight. Hugh and I returned to his study, had a quick coffee and I left. I was quite exhausted by my exertions and reflected on the emotions I had felt and those of the twenty-four pupils that we had spanked, all would by lying in bed with sore bottoms, particularly the last three, and I wondered whether they would be as aroused as I had been.
A couple of days before half term I was called to Dr Dover’s study. Would I ever get over that sinking feeling as I walked along the corridor? He signalled that I should sit on a sofa and he came over and sat facing me.
“I am sorry to have to tell you that your Great-Aunt Mary has passed away in Melbourne. Your parents have decided to fly to Australia to attend the funeral and your Father will couple this with some business meetings. As a consequence they will not be at home over half term. They have taken the initiative to ask Hugh’s parents whether you could stay with them at half term and they readily agreed. I trust that you have no objection?”
My head was spinning. “No Sir, none.” He went to the door and asked his secretary to ask Hugh to join us. Oh god, a few days with Hugh instead of the stuffy lot at the golf club. Hugh joined us and on learning the reason for the meeting turned towards me with a broad grin on his face.
Half term arrived and we took a taxi to the station. We had not even reached the School gates at the end of the drive before Hugh pulled me towards him and kissed me full on the lips. We had not even noticed our progress to the station and were interrupted by the driver saying that we had arrived.