Two girls and a school secretary learn honesty is the best policy.

By Jane Fairweather

A game of Pirates was in full swing in the Lower Sixth PE lesson and, judging by the exuberant noises, most of the girls were thoroughly enjoying it, prancing round wildly up and down beams and ropes and wall bars and across benches, some trying to catch and some trying to get away. All the girls were in the prescribed white tops, but somehow most of them had ignored the rules about what to wear on their bottoms, and the mixture of rather inelegant blue shorts, stylish gym knickers, which was what they were supposed to be wearing, and what were undoubtedly school knickers, was not very aesthetic. Alison Holt in particular was wearing a rather faded rust red pair of old school knickers that were extremely tight on her and showed far too much. Alison always aggravated her PE mistress; she was so full of herself and she had a plump bottom that always seemed to beg for someone to send a springy length of bamboo swishing into it.

“Not a very lady-like young lady!” Mary Coles thought to herself, and sourly reflected that would have been enough, when she had started as PE and Games Teacher here, to have a tremulous Alison and probably her partner in crime, Sandra Robinson, back after school for at least four strokes of the cane. She imagined the pleasure of bending the girl over and lifting her gym slip. But that was over thirty years ago. The last headmistress but one had taken away the right of every mistress to use the cane and reserved it to herself. And the new headmistress, Miss Dyson, who curiously she had taught all of thirty years ago, had come quite close to not using the cane at all.

Angela Dyson seemed to think that for most purposes a telling-off worked better than corporal punishment. Mary Coles always took the view that caning was a real punishment that could not be laughed off and was a deterrent to bad behaviour by others. Angela thought making a girl understand where she had gone wrong was generally a better way to go. Mary thought that the school was a lot slacker because of this relaxation of discipline. Angela did not agree, though she had baulked at doing away with the cane altogether and a couple of girls a term seemed to be presenting the seat of their knickers for what Mary suspected was a not very severe punishment compared with what used to happen.

Mary never dared say it, but she always wondered if the fact that Angela as a school girl had been thoroughly naughty and aggravating had anything to do with the headmistress’s present attitude. Angela had been famous for getting the cane far more than most girls, including several times from Mary. She remembered the future headmistress’s plump bottom wriggling under the impact of the cane after a particularly annoying piece of insolence; that bottom was rather larger now, she thought with a smile. Anyway, she suspected that Angela’s partial aversion to corporal punishment was at least partly due to the fact that a sound caning had never deterred her from her next piece of rebelliousness. Angela had been very rebellious, she thought to herself with a grin.

Then it suddenly struck her. In god’s name where were Alison Holt and Sandra Robinson? The two were scarcely the most enthusiastic girls for anything to do with exercise, but they had definitely been here, half joining in, not so many minutes ago. She was probably just not looking in the right place, though Sandra’s red hair and long legs tended to make her stick out in the crowd, even if her friend’s shorter body was more easily missed. She glanced round, cursing her reverie about caning the dreadful twosome. Still she could not see Alison and Sandra. She blew her whistle. No doubt when everyone stopped she would see the two inseparable friends.

Everyone stopped, but still she could not see Alison and Sandra. Nothing for it, she would have to ask.

“Where have Alison and Sandra vanished to?” She demanded, producing a ripple of laughter, which she wearily thought she half deserved for her incompetence, though it still annoyed her.

“Well where are they?” She demanded. “Have they sneaked off to the toilet?”

If they had gone to the loo and they were smoking, they were going in front of the Head, Sixth Formers or not!

There was silence at first; no one wanted to be the one to answer this very awkward question.

Then Susan Miller, who was widely expected to be the next head girl, said rather diffidently and embarrassedly, “I think they are gabbing in the mat-hole, Miss.”

The ‘mat hole’ was the open cupboard in the wall of the gym where equipment was stored.

She glanced at her watch.

“It is virtually the end of the lesson. You’d better clear away the equipment and change, girls. I have got other things to deal with.”

The girls gave one another significant glances, but got on with packing up the equipment without too much fuss. They were a little wary of their Games mistress in this mood, even if she could not cane them; and even if they were Sixth Formers.

Mary Coles strode to the mat-hole and realized that Sandra and Alison were stood in the darkness in the far corner and were so busy chattering that they had not even realized what was going on.

“Come out of there, you two girls, this instant!” she blared, loudly and ferociously.

The two girls staggered out, looking distinctly nervous.

“My room! Now!”

They followed her into the small room between the gym and the changing room that was Mary Coles’ private domain. In the old days under Miss Herrick she had often taken girls into it and bent them over the end of the small desk for some misdemeanour or other. It had been very quick and very effective and had saved an awful lot of argument, she reflected.

“What on earth do you two think you have just been doing? I am nice to the Lower Sixth and let you play Pirates, and this is how you reward me. And neither of you are wearing standard uniform for PE,” she said, glaring at Alison’s nondescript rust red knickers and Sandra’s very baggy blue shorts.

“Please Miss, we did not mean any harm!” Alison protested. “We neither of us like PE very much and we wanted to discuss our very tricky history essay for Mrs Jones.”

“It is not up to you to like or dislike PE. It is intended to keep your bodies up to scratch for your own long term benefit. I think you had both better go and explain yourselves to the Headmistress.”

“Can we change first, Miss?” Sandra asked.

“No, Miss Robinson, you will go just as you are.”

“Miss that is so unfair! You are just out to embarrass us!” Alison exclaimed, obviously mindful of her very inelegant knickers.

“Yes, I do mean to embarrass you. It might even teach you, and others, to wear correct school uniform. Now get off with you.”

The two girls slunk out of the door looking very sorry for themselves. Mary Coles thought sardonically that Alison reminded her oddly of Angela Dyson at the same age; even her bottom was a very similar shape. Still a caning was too much to be hoped for, richly deserved though it was, or would have been thirty years before.

*          *          *

Mary Coles had just started on her afternoon cup of tea in the staff room and was wondering whether to quietly open a window because of all the cigarette smoke, or would someone object to letting the cold air in?

At that moment Jane Mankin, the younger of the school’s two secretaries and a very pretty twenty-three year old blond, entered the crowded room and looked round, obviously searching for someone.

Mary noted how bright the girl’s face was under her lovely blond hair. She wondered if there was time for a chat and if she could catch her attention. She liked chatting to Jane, who was always briskly aware of what was going on in the world, but also had been to Art College as well as secretarial college and now spent a good deal of her time doing water colours. Since one of Mary’s secrets, which she would not have admitted to her pupils, was that she loved Art of all sorts, though she had no skill at painting, Jane and she had more than once had very interesting discussions. She really liked someone who knew who both Picasso and Laura Knight were, and admired both. They had even got as far as Jane showing off her own paintings over a cup of tea in her tiny bedsit.

And Mary had more than once asked herself if something like a ‘pash’ was developing between them. However, though she was as attracted as she had ever been in her life, a lifetime’s experience was making her take things slowly and not rush. And to be honest, her hopes of anything beyond occasional friendship were not that high. After all, she herself was coming up to sixty and retirement, and the girl was twenty-three and young and beautiful and could have her choice of anyone, male or female. It was a little much to even think of hooking Jane as any more than a probably very transient friend. Still, one never knew!

Suddenly Jane’s eyes settled on Mary and she walked briskly over to her.

“If you don’t mind, Miss Coles, the headmistress would like to see you.”

Naturally, Jane was not going to call her Mary with all the other teachers round, but there was a distinct nervousness in the girl’s voice and Mary immediately asked herself if there was more the matter than having to fetch a senior and occasionally cantankerous member of staff for the headmistress, but what might be the matter she had no idea.

“Do you mean now, Miss Mankin?” Mary said aloud, feeling slightly annoyed at being separated from her much needed cup of tea, and even more because she would have liked five minutes chat with this lovely vivacious girl.

“Fraid so, Miss Coles; the head said it was urgent.”

To be fair to Angela Dyson, she was not in the habit of saying things were urgent when they were not. Mary reluctantly put down her cup of tea and followed Jane Mankin, noting with interest the very subtle scent that the girl had on.

“Do you know what it is about?”

“Not the faintest, Miss Coles, well unless it is about those two Sixth Formers you sent to her; but she dealt with that.”

“Did they get the cane?”

“Not as far as I know. She does not cane many girls. Actually neither of them looked that upset when they came out. I think they just got a pep talk.”

Mary Coles sighed rather wearily to herself.

“Do you know if the cane really hurts, Miss Coles? I always wonder when they come out if it really hurts or they are putting it on just a bit.”

“Oh it hurts, Miss Mankin! I had it twice myself when I was a girl and I just did not know what had hit me, especially the first time, when I had not even done what I was supposed to have done. And when I first came here and all the mistresses were allowed to do it, I caned enough girls to know that they almost invariably get very upset; but it is very, very effective.”

‘Unless, that is, you are dealing with someone as thick-skinned as the present headmistress,’  Mary added to herself with a grin, wondering just why Jane had asked this very odd question; but the pretty blond lapsed into silence and neither of them said anymore.

*          *          *

They got to the school office. Mary briefly said hello to Susan Grey, the older of the two secretaries, with whom she also had occasional cups of tea. Jane Mankin, meanwhile, was knocking on the Head’s door and saying Miss Coles was here; and Miss Dyson was saying very formally that she was ready to see Miss Coles. Mary noted Jane’s rather tight white skirt as she stood in the doorway to the study announcing her, and decided it showed off the girl’s neat round buttocks to advantage, even with a slip on. It was a tighter, shorter skirt than she had ever dared to wear and the thought made her just a little sad; she would soon be sixty and a non-person. You could probably get a cane to go fairly efficiently through that skirt, she decided perversely, if it was stretched tight enough. Perhaps that was what the sweet girl had been fantasising about in the corridor? It seemed to her that the less people experienced corporal punishment, the more they wondered what it was like, which was a strange phenomenon.

A moment later, she was sat in a chair at the side of the Headmistress’s desk trying not to stare at Angela Dyson, who was sitting there looking oddly distracted. She knew Angela well enough to know that there was an odd chill in the air and wondered what was the matter?

“Mary, I have called you in as a friend, for a little friendly advice, because I am just a little worried about you sending those two Sixth Formers to me. I do think we do need to get one or two things straight.” Miss Dyson suddenly said.

‘What on earth?’ Mary thought, but did not say it.

“Mary, I am sorry, but I don’t like girls being sent to me just for wearing the wrong PE kit. That does not amount to a serious breach of school rules. If you feel strongly about it, deal with it yourself, please, with a gentle admonition. And bear in mind some of our girls, at least, come from poor families. Alison Holt’s mother is a widow and it is very good that she is keeping Alison in the Sixth; it must be a great temptation to take Alison away from here and make her get a job. Furthermore, I do not like girls, especially senior girls, being humiliated by being forced to walk round school in their old school knickers. Do we understand one another?”

“Perfectly.” Said Mary, gritting her teeth. “I won’t do it again, Angela, but I imagine that you dealt with them much more severely over the other matter.”

“What other matter?” Angela Dyson exclaimed. “They only told me that you were angry with them for not wearing gym knickers, little monkeys! What else was there?”

Mary told her briefly, and added that the gym knickers had been more or less an afterthought.

“You mean to tell me that they absented themselves from your lesson without permission and then behaved as if they had done nothing wrong?”

“That is about the size of it; they made no attempt to apologise at all. Far from it! Alison Holt was extremely self-righteous. She more or less said they had a perfect right to absent themselves from class without permission.”

“That is extreme rudeness to a senior member of staff, plus effectively lying to the Headmistress, and to think I have spent most of this afternoon worrying what to say to you about when it is acceptable not to wear gym knickers! I think they well and truly deserve the cane.”

The Headmistress swept to her feet and went out into the office.

“Miss Mankin, go and find Angela Holt and Sandra Robinson from Lower VI-A and bring them here as soon as you can, or even faster. If they are not in class, try the Library.”

Mary could hear Angela Dyson saying this at the top of her voice and a startled Jane saying, “Yes, Miss Dyson. Of course, Miss Dyson.”

“And don’t think I have forgotten about seeing you after work, Miss Mankin, either.”

“No, of course not, Miss Dyson. Of course I won’t forget!”

Mary noticed the definite panic in Jane’s voice and wondered what was going on there. Despite having known her headmistress for more than a quarter of a century, first as a rather too lively school girl and then as a headmistress, Mary Coles could never remember seeing her so obviously angry. Angela, the school girl, had been frequently naughty and rebellious, but she had been oddly amiable as well; and although she had a certain undisputable firmness as a headmistress, she was usually extremely patient and unhurried without a hint of temper. As far as Mary Coles was concerned, this was an altogether new Angela Dyson and she found it intriguing.

She realized that Angela had opened the large cupboard in the corner of the room and taken out two highly flexible canes with crook handles. One was notably longer and thicker than the other. She noticed that both had been oiled in the recent past.

“You oil your canes, I see.” She observed as the headmistress purposefully swished each of her instruments of punishment in turn.

“A habit I picked up from you. It keeps them supple and less likely to break. You told me that once when I was about to have a well-deserved thrashing for something, I cannot now remember what. I must have asked you, I suppose.”

“Not many girls would have had the nerve to ask.” Mary said with some amusement.

“If you have it a lot, then you get used to it after a while. It still stings and you burn horribly, but at least you know more or less what it is going to be like.”

“I cannot say I ever got to that point. I got it twice, once for theft which I was not actually guilty of, and once for being out of bounds and smoking, and both times I was shaken to my foundations. Miss Donald did not cane that often, but when she did you knew about it.”

“On your knickers or your hands?”

“On my knickers. Miss Donald never liked hand caning because she thought it was dangerous.”

“Which was Miss Rogers’ view too. And boy could she cane!” Said Angela. “But I remember when it was a free-for-all, and any of the mistresses here could use the stick; it was getting it from you we all really dreaded.”

“I don’t think that I was that good!”

They were interrupted by a knock on the door, followed by its being opened. The two girls were there and looking very startled.

“You wanted to see us, Miss Dyson?” Alison Holt was saying, while glancing at her PE teacher with distinct unease.

“Come here and stand in front of my desk.” The headmistress was saying.

Sandra, Mary noticed, glanced at the desk, spotted the two canes and started looking at her toes. And tears were forming in Sandra’s eyes as she made her way across the room to where her headmistress was sat waiting behind her desk, looking extremely grim.

The two girls were now in front of the Head’s old oak desk and Mary, who was sat more or less at the side of it, wondered if she really could smell their fear, or was it an illusion. She imagined the horrible butterflies and inner turmoil they must be going through. She could remember that from her own two canings all those years ago.

“I really have nothing to say to you two girls,” Miss Dyson was announcing ferociously. “You were rude and defiant to a very senior and respected member of staff, and effectively you lied to me.”

“Please Miss, we did not lie,” Sandra pleaded through her tears.

“Not telling the full facts of your naughtiness to me is lying, as far as I am concerned. You are both going to have four strokes of the cane on the seat of your knickers, and the punishment will be carried out immediately after you have apologised to Miss Coles. Now apologise, both of you.”

Mary felt almost sorry for the two miscreants as they each in turn said how sorry they were to her. Sandra managed it through gallons of tears, Alison sounded almost calm.

Sandra stood there and pleaded when told to walk to the armchair and bend over it, and Mary felt almost sorry for her. Still, there was a certain gratification in watching the tall and leggy Sandra crying her eyes out as the headmistress took her by the arm and marched her unceremoniously to the armchair in the corner, before pushing her over the back of it so her feet were off the ground. Then up went her pleated skirt and white slip, displaying a very stylish pair of pink panties under very modern nylon tights, which had not been in fashion for long. It was perhaps lucky that she had not gone in for the modern panty-girdle, which would have been a nuisance, Mary reflected. Then the cane began its swishing.

“Ow!” Sandra wailed after the first stroke, which seemed to neatly bisect the small bottom at the top of the ridiculously long legs.

Said legs started to kick. The headmistress seemed to wait a second, possibly to let the kicking subside, which it did. The second stroke was a lot lower on the bottom.

“Yeow!” Sandra shrieked.

Much more a scream than a wail, Mary thought dryly. In her day it would have been bad form to have screeched quite so soon. She remembered that on the famous day that Miss Donald had given her six of the best for being out of bounds, on top of a good deal else, she had managed to stay silent till the fourth stroke, though admittedly she had made more than a little noise during the rest of the punishment, and she still felt slightly embarrassed remembering that.

“Please, not anymore strokes! God, it hurts so much.”

Sandra was sobbing and had thrust her hands up over her bottom.

The headmistress told her to put them down or have extra. At that dread threat, the hands descended into the chair and the cane swished into the lower part of the girl’s tiny buttocks. This time, she started to shriek and did not stop. The hands had shot up again and the legs were kicking wildly. Miss Dyson did not repeat her threat of more strokes, but brought the cane down very hard indeed below the hands into the soft flesh at the top of the thighs, where there was only the thin tights for protection. Sandra’s shrieks grew even louder, if that was possible, and she lay over the back of the chair wailing and wildly kicking for several minutes. Mary wondered if the girl was putting it on a bit, or not. Certainly, when Miss Dyson ordered her victim to stand and go into the corner facing the wall with her hands on her head, Sandra moved reasonably promptly, though it was noticeable that she was walking very awkwardly and still crying.

Mary glanced at Alison Holt, who was still standing with her face to the desk. Presumably the girl had not wanted to watch her friend’s punishment. The only signs that she was afraid were her unnatural paleness and the fact she was clenching her hands.

The headmistress walked almost sedately back over to the desk, put the cane that she had used back in its cupboard and picked up the other one from her desk.

“If you would come over here with me, Miss Holt.” Miss Dyson said very formally.

Alison walked quietly across the room. Mary noted the odd contrasts between the two friends’ bodies. Sandra was at least a foot taller. No! More than a foot, at least eighteen inches, but Alison was altogether more solid; there was a lot more to her buttocks, which were distinctly on the plump side. Sandra was a redhead, Alison’s hair was a deep ivory black.

She suddenly focused on Sandra’s pink panties under her tights. Miss Dyson had tucked the skirt and slip up into the girl’s waistband and she liked something about the way the buttocks curved in, though she also thought that for decency’s sake the skirt and slip ought to be pulled down again.

She heard Alison being told to bend over the back of the chair.

“But I am not tall enough, Miss. Sorry, I am not being awkward.”

Alison had paused by the chair and was clearly wondering what to do. It was obvious that she was too short to bend over the back of it, not unless Miss Dyson pushed her over it as she had Sandra, which she did not seem to want to do.

Angela Dyson was standing rather irresolutely with the cane in her hand. She, too, seemed to be thrown by the girl being obviously too short to bend over the back of the chair.

“What do I have to do, Miss?” Alison finally asked awkwardly.

The headmistress seemed to have to think for a second, as if something totally different was on her mind, then she ordered, “Bend over the side of the chair and take a firm grip with your hands on the cushion and keep them there. I really will give you six and not four if you make the slightest fuss. You are an intelligent girl, Alison Holt, and ought to know a great deal better than your dizzy friend, and yet this all seems to have been your idea. Now shall we get on with it?”

A few seconds later and Alison had pulled her own skirts up and her rust brown knickers were pointing out in to the room. They were the same ones, Mary realized, that the girl had used for PE. The girl really was poor! She ought to have made some allowances. She noticed the black suspenders that ran down the side of the victim’s legs, under her knickers, to her nylon stockings. The suspender belt, to put it kindly, was rather nondescript, and looked as if it might have originally belonged to someone else; her mother, or an aunt maybe? Perhaps a cousin?

The headmistress was now practicing her stroke with loud swishes, which was no doubt at least partly because Alison was bent over in a different position to the previous victim, but also more than likely to put the fear of god into Alison, who so far had seemed almost calm. It was the longer, thicker cane that Miss Dyson was practicing with, Mary realized with a shudder. This would sting slightly less but leave much bigger weals. Poor Alison! She was really for it and she was going to have trouble sitting down. And being so brave was not going to help. She was fairly sure that Angela would take not making much fuss as a sign of defiance. Perhaps she should say something, but no doubt she would be ignored. She watched the clear outline of the girl’s buttocks through her awful knickers, which were very tight. She suddenly found herself feeling slightly sick and just a touch guilty. Perhaps she should not have made such a fuss about it all.

The headmistress took a few paces back and then walked up and sent the cane sizzling into Alison’s lower buttocks, visibly biting deep. There was a definite grunt from the victim and a certain pushing forward and back. Mary suspected the girl was sobbing, but if so it was very quiet sobbing, in marked contrast to Sandra. The second stroke was much the same except Alison lifted both her legs up and down several times. The third swish produced a definite word from the victim. Whether it was “sugar” or “bugger” was unclear to Mary and she devoutly hoped it was unclear to the irate headmistress. There was a distinct pause before the fourth stroke and the headmistress walked up at least ten paces before she swished the cane as hard as she could into the crease between buttocks and thighs. This time there was a definite shriek. Miss Dyson almost sauntered back to her desk, looking quite pleased with herself, and put the cane back on her desk. Mary wondered why the cane was not being put away.

“That really hurt! I did not know anything could hurt that much.” Alison kept saying over and over again with slight variations, sounding very hysterical.

Her rust coloured knickers stayed slumped over the side of the brown armchair as the girl clutched them frenetically with her hands. Mary remembered her own first caning. That had also been four hard strokes and she had experienced some difficulty standing up afterwards. That had been for theft, she remembered, theft she had not actually committed, but it had been fair enough because she had done quite a few things she had not been punished for and should have been. It had just so happened that it was on the day that she was not guilty that Miss Donald had finally lost all patience with her.

“Come on girl, get into the corner and put your hands on your head for a few minutes and then we can all go home.” Angela was saying.

Mary suspected the headmistress’s anger was now largely gone and she was feeling slightly sad about it all.

“I am sorry, Miss, I just cannot stand up.” A voice was saying from somewhere in the depths of the armchair.

“That happened to me the first time I had the cane.” Mary said hurriedly before the headmistress could get annoyed.

Rather oddly, there was a chuckle from Angela Dyson. “It may amuse you to know, Alison, that it also happened on the first occasion that I had the cane from Miss Coles, many years ago. I think it took over ten minutes before I got my legs back, possibly longer. Do you remember that, Mary?”

“Yes, you rather frightened me; I never caned you quite so hard again.” Mary said, feeling still slightly guilty at having really lost her temper on that first occasion with Angela, all those years ago.

“What! Miss Coles used to cane you, Miss?” Alison asked more than slightly incredulously.

“Yes, and on more than one occasion. Believe me, Miss Coles could cane!”

“Did you have it a lot, Miss?” Sandra suddenly piped up from the corner.

“Miss Dyson undoubtedly held something like the school record.” Said Mary impishly.

“Oh really, Mary,” said Miss Dyson, visibly blushing. “Yes, I had the cane rather a lot; but there were a lot more things you could get swished for then, and a lot more mistresses who had the power to do it to you. However, I doubt if I ever held any record.”

Alison suddenly staggered to her feet and went and stood by her friend with her hands on her head. Perhaps the moment of levity had helped the girl, Mary thought.

Miss Dyson suddenly started looking at some sheets of paper on her desk, which seemed to have a lot of figures on them. Oddly, she seemed to have forgotten about putting the second cane away. Mary wondered if she should remind her, then thought perhaps it was time to make an excuse and go as she was rather fed up with the continuing sound of Sandra sobbing and she found the sight of the girl’s panties embarrassing, especially as Alison had had the sense to pull her skirts down on the way to standing against the wall. However, then the bell went for the end of school and Miss Dyson was suddenly eager to do other things and dismissed the two girls with little more said.

“Mary, I do wish you had not let that particular cat out of the bag.” Angela Dyson observed wryly when the two red-eyed girls had departed, both touching their throbbing bottoms through their skirts.

“It will do no harm. It will be a legend for years to come that will be, on the whole, to your advantage, Angela. Girls like legends like that. Do you want to walk to the bus with me?”

“I always like getting the bus home with you, Mary, but tonight I have to discuss something with Miss Mankin.”

“Nothing serious, I hope? I do hope you are not firing her. I think she is a very sweet and promising girl, and a great asset to the school.” Mary said uneasily.

“Unfortunately, her petty cash is badly down for the third time, and it is a question of pounds, not shillings. I gave her the benefit of the doubt the previous two times, but unfortunately I am pretty sure it is petty theft, and I am going to have to deal with it.” The Headmistress said wearily.

“Well, rather you than me. Shall I send her in on my way out?”

“Yes, please.”

“I think you have forgotten to put the cane away, Angela. Hope you don’t mind me mentioning it, but I imagine you don’t want to scare the poor girl. She will be worried enough about losing her job.”

“Oh, I will deal with it, Mary. Just send the silly chump in, would you?”

*          *          *

Mary walked uncertainly out of the head’s study, wishing she did not know what she now knew. She gave Jane the message. It worried her that the girl immediately started trembling and went pale.

“Good luck with whatever it is.” Mary said awkwardly, wishing she did not know about the petty theft and hoping her words to Angela had saved Jane’s job, or at least stopped the police being called in.

“I think I am going to need it.” Jane replied, conjuring a very forced laugh before walking towards the headmistress’s door, visibly biting her lip.

Mary very nearly lingered to hear the outcome, but thought nobody would thank her for it, and strode out reluctantly into the grey evening where she realized it was raining far too hard for there to be any thought of walking home as she had half intended;, and the bus was nearly due.

Then, when she was nearly at the bus stop, Mary realized she had left her handbag in the head’s study, and it had her money and keys in it, and she hurtled back, thinking if at all possible she wanted to catch this bus and not the next one. Her hair was already soaked and the rain was getting down her collar and, whether she walked or waited half an hour for the next bus, she would get soaked. She rushed up to the Head’s study, still hoping to catch the first bus, then paused for a second, wondering if she should knock and be very formal about this. But Angela and Jane would want her to know as little about whatever was happening as possible, and she was fairly sure that in the circumstances Angela would not mind her whisking in and grabbing her bag.

She opened the door as quietly as she could, only to glimpse the pretty blond secretary with her fingers on the ground and her white skirt taut as a drum skin. Angela Dyson was in the far corner of the room practicing with what looked like the very effective cane that she had just used on Alison’s very similar bottom. No wonder Jane Mankin had been asking if the cane really hurt. Presumably the headmistress and her secretary had agreed the punishment some while before, and the thought of having to carry it out had been upsetting Angela and frightening Jane all that afternoon.

It seemed best to pretend she was not seeing this quite possibly illegal punishment; and besides it was obviously between the two women and she had no right to interfere, so Mary slipped away, closing the door as quietly as she could, and not even trying to get her bag. As she walked down the path with her heart pounding, she could not help hearing someone female screeching repeatedly in the distance, and she remembered the window had been slightly open in the study. The whole school must have heard the canings this afternoon.

*          *          *

She got home to her flat absolutely soaked and borrowed the porter’s master key to let herself in before spending an agitated evening haunted by the image of that very beautiful twenty-three year old reaching for her toes while the cane waited to descend on her tight white skirt and bite deep into that pretty bottom. She thought she had counted at least eight strokes in the distance as she walked down the path, but she had no idea if that was right. Was it really as bad as that? Or had there been even more strokes that she did not hear because Jane had buttoned her lip?

Then she suddenly realized the extent of her feelings for Jane Mankin. She must get to know this lovely girl properly, even though she was so much younger. And as to the theft, well, she herself had been wrongly accused of theft all those years ago, hadn’t she, and been soundly punished for it.

Next morning, when she woke up, she told herself she was being totally absurd. The girl could not possibly have been caned and, anyway, it was a waste of time to even think of pushing their relationship beyond a casual friendship.

However, when she got to work and went in pursuit of her handbag, she could not help noticing how subdued the pretty blond secretary was, compared with her usual bright self, and the girl looked very definitely as if she had been crying all night and was visibly shifting about a lot in her chair.

Mary asked tentatively how things had gone the previous evening; she did hope, whatever it was, that Jane had not been fired. For a moment, she was terrified that Jane would hate her asking, but the sweet girl seemed to like being asked and replied it was kind of Miss Coles to ask, and she had been in trouble, but she had not been fired.

“I will have to pull up my socks, or at any rate my stockings. I have been a bit slack.” Jane concluded with something approaching a grin.

Mary then took her life in her hands and asked Jane if she would like to come to the theatre. The touring production of ‘My Fair Lady’ was on and she had two tickets and the person she was going with had flu and had dropped out and perhaps it would cheer Jane up. Jane’s face brightened as she said how nice it was of Miss Coles to think of it, and she would love to come.

Mary had in fact yet to buy the tickets and spent the rest of the day worrying what she would do if the box office had sold out. However tickets were available and they went, and it was a great success. And after six month’s wooing, which included a new sexual awakening for Mary Coles, they came to share the same flat, and if truth be known the same bed.

And all through those months, and indeed for the rest of her life, Mary Coles was haunted by that image of her pretty twenty-three year old lover with her fingers on the ground and her white skirt tight as a drum skin being soundly caned by her irate employer, which she had not seen, but heard in the distance.

And then Mary would invariably wonder to herself if Angela Dyson had thought of administering that caning as a painful necessity to avoid having to call the police in, or had thoroughly enjoyed getting her cane to penetrate as deep as it could through that tight skirt into that luscious bottom. And then she would chuckle because she knew very well what her own answer would have been; and then she would feel very slightly jealous of Angela.

The End

© Jane Fairweather 2018

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