A house mistress is called to help discipline four girls

By Jane Fairweather

“Miss Carter, Miss Maddocks would be grateful to see you immediately.” A baffled Eileen Carter found herself being told by the school secretary, just as she began what she hoped would be a good session with 4A on the ‘Ancient Mariner’, for they seemed to take to poetry rather better than several other classes Eileen had taught.

“Surely it will wait till break, Miss Smith? I am just at the beginning of an important lesson.”

“She did say immediately, Miss Carter, and she did add that I am to stay and supervise your class till break or your return. And Miss Maddocks also said that I should add that she is aware it is a double period, so there is a fair chance you will be back in time to do some of your lesson.”

“Well, I suppose I’d better go. Girls, you’d better read the poem and make your own notes in your rough books. I shall look forward to your comments when I return. If, for any reason, I don’t return, then you will finish your notes and comments for prep and write them up in your best books, which I want handed in tomorrow.”

The girls had not looked that disappointed, she thought, as she wandered down the corridor. And probably, with luck, the chance to get prep out of the way would stop their being a nuisance to Miss Smith. 4A were widely regarded as a handful, though she had always got on with them and had no trouble.

But what on earth did Miss Maddocks want, that was apparently so urgent?

If she had been a girl still, it would have been the sort of summons to the head’s study that usually ended with a sharp swish of the cane on each hand. She had twice had that unpleasant experience when she was a girl, which was not that many years distant.

Once for rudeness and defiance to Miss Milne, which at the time she had thought extremely unfair, though looking back she felt she rather deserved it.

Once for being persistently late to Miss Chapel’s lessons, which she still thought was unfair, because she was never more than thirty seconds or a minute late and only that old dragon Miss Chapel worried about it. And it had not done the slightest good. She was still thirty seconds or a minute late for most things; indeed she hated being exactly on time.

But the apparently amiable and always elegant Miss Maddocks was not such a tartar as her old headmistress, Miss Broderick; and anyway she was not aware of having done the slightest thing that called for a reproof from the headmistress. It might even be good news. And yet something in her was very glad that she had put her winter knickers on that morning. At that, though, she laughed at herself, for very few school girls got the cane on their knickers now, though curiously Miss Maddocks was supposed to favour that mode of punishment on the rare occasions that the cane was used here; and anyway she was not a school girl, was she? Then a smile went over her face at the thought of Miss Maddocks in her pretty frocks caning anyone, which had a touch almost of the bizarre to it.

Anyhow, she knocked on Miss Maddocks’ door and was immediately admitted. The very ladylike Miss Maddocks always wore elegant, attractive frocks, rather than the blue or grey skirt suits that Eileen always found so wearisome among the other headmistresses she was acquainted with. Today’s was rather autumnal in keeping with the season and had a pattern of yellow leaves and red berries on a brown background. Miss Maddock’s well-permed hair had retained its fierce red, though she would soon have to start dyeing it, Eileen thought. And, as always, there was the whiff of a very interesting perfume. But what on earth did the woman want?

Miss Maddocks gestured her to sit down on a small sofa and then sat opposite in a small armchair, which Eileen in her odd mood found herself wondering if she was shortly going to be bending over, though she smiled at herself as soon as she thought it.

“Miss Carter, it was your house that did the visit to Wildcroft this year, wasn’t it?”

“Yes, last Saturday, Miss Maddocks.”

“I think Miss Allen and her lot did it the year before. Anyhow, how did it go?”

“The girls chattered nicely to the old dears on the whole. And we sang a few songs, which they seemed to like. ‘The Mermaid’ and ‘Molly Malone’ and the ‘Vicar of Bray’ and one or two others. Then they gave us quite a nice tea and we came home.”

“Did any of the girls behave at all differently to the rest?”

“Oh, that little gang from the Lower Sixth; Fiona, Anthea, Rachel and Helen did not want to join in the singing. I am afraid they vanished into the ladies at that point and I let it go. Why? Is there a problem?” Eileen asked very uneasily, thinking this could come back on her, whatever it was. Those four were not the easiest group of girls she had had to cope with. What had they been up to this time?

“I had a phone call from the owner of the home this morning, a Mrs Marcus, I believe. Four different residents have reported items missing from their rooms. One of them is quite a valuable silver cross. Someone else has lost two Agatha Christie novels, which are not valuable, but the woman is very fond of. The third has lost a ten shilling note from her purse. And the last one has two packets of cigarettes missing.”

“They are not just being forgetful, I suppose? All the women there are rather elderly.” Eileen asked tentatively, hoping she was not sounding tactless.

“Exactly what Mrs Marcus thought, when the woman who had lost the Agatha Christie’s complained, but then over several days the other three came forward. Anyway, they searched the house from top to bottom, including the assistants’ rooms, which caused a major row. One of them even gave in their notice. How dare you think I am a thief, etc. And then the old lady who is an avid Agatha Christie fan said: ‘I am sure all those girls weren’t there when we were being entertained,’ so Mrs Marcus rang me. She was very blunt, she said either I return the missing items and deal very firmly with the culprits or she will bring Police down on our heads. So, there you are.”

“I suppose we had better search their rooms, though unless we find definite proof we really cannot do much about it.” Eileen said very firmly, thinking there was an even chance that her girls were not responsible.

“And if we do find the missing items, I will have to be severe.” the headmistress observed wryly in a way that suggested to Eileen these girls might well find themselves in need of winter knickers.

“Come on! We’d better get it over with. We’d better do it together, so we can back up one another, if one of the parents protests or, which god forbid, we have to give evidence to the Governors, or even in court.”

Eileen found herself following her headmistress towards the Sixth Form studies at a brisk pace.

What followed could only be described as one of the most upsetting half hours of Eileen’s life.

As soon as they walked into Fiona and Anthea’s study, they saw two Agatha Christie novels sitting at the side of Anthea’s bed. Eileen hoped so much it would prove to be an innocent co-incidence, but then she saw Miss Maddocks open one of the books and heard her read: “Miss Anne Fisher, Room 17, Wildcroft.”

“I think Anthea James’ backside is going to be very sore by the end of today, and if she has taken anything else she is going to be out of the school.” The headmistress stated quite ferociously.

They then undertook a thorough search of the room, looking under and in the beds and going through all the drawers, but nothing else was found.

“Fiona Hamilton must have known what was going on, so she can join the queue for the cane anyway.” Miss Maddocks stated with real anger.

Eileen heard this with some unease, for she was well aware Fiona always followed in the wake of Anthea, who was her best friend; and knowing Fiona she had quite probably been acutely embarrassed by the stealing, but had not felt able to betray Anthea. Still, it did not seem quite the time to say this to Miss Maddocks, who was in an understandable fury. Perhaps she would speak up for Fiona later, if there was a suitable moment; Fiona was genuinely quite a good girl.

She followed the furious headmistress down the corridor and into Rachel and Helen’s study. This at first appeared to be empty of stolen objects despite a very thorough search.

“Any ideas?” asked Miss Maddocks.

“No, not really,” Eileen replied, but then added, “But when I was at school I more than once hid things in a pillow case. You could hide a ten pound note there.”

Pillow cases were examined with some care, but nothing was in them.

“That drawer on the chest of drawers on the left has not gone back properly from our pulling it out,” Miss Maddocks said suddenly, and pulled it all the way out before thrusting her hand inside.

Eileen realized, rather wearily, that the headmistress’s hand had extricated a very pretty silver cross on a chain, the sort of thing in fact that a girl would really like.

“It must be Helen Alexander’s chest of drawers, judging by the name tags on the clothes. A pity. She is a promising girl, if a naughty one; but there is no choice except to expel her; it is a serious theft.” The headmistress said, still sounding angry, but also upset.

Inevitably, they then turned their attention to the other chest of drawers. Now they knew what they were looking for, it did not take long to work out that the bottom drawer was sticking out by perhaps a quarter of an inch. They pulled it out and found two very squashed packets of cigarettes.

“I doubt if they are even worth smoking, they are so squashed by the drawer.” Miss Maddocks observed, sounding weary.

Despite the seriousness of the situation, Eileen could not help smiling because she was remembering that Miss Maddocks was reputed to be a cigarette smoker in the privacy of the Headmistress’s house, though that might of course be a complete libel.

“What about the ten shilling note?” Eileen asked, almost to herself. “We had better take all the drawers out in both of the studies.”

This they did with considerable and wearisome thoroughness, but no ten shilling note was found.

“Oh, I expect the old woman really lost it and the girls did not take it. Anyway, it is clearly not here and the girls, so far as I know, cannot have had a chance to spend it.” The headmistress said very grumpily.

There was an odd pause as if Miss Maddocks was wondering just what to do. Eileen concluded she was glad she was not having to make the decisions about what to do with the four thieves, or three possibly, if you assumed Fiona was innocent. But was Fiona innocent? It was odd that ten pound note was missing.

“Look, Miss Carter, I want your help with this. Miss Forester may well be supposed to be my deputy, but she is nearing retirement and, frankly, she is not much use, certainly in a situation as dire as this. And the four of them are in your house, after all. I want you to round them up and talk to them. I have noticed before that you have a way with girls; they don’t seem to put up barriers to you in the way they do with a lot of mistresses. Find out, if you can, why they took it in to their heads to indulge in this idiocy. Don’t lie to them, all of them will get the cane and Helen will almost certainly be expelled, but if there is any mitigation to be had I want to hear it. Oh, and don’t worry, your lessons will be covered for as long as is necessary.”

Eileen walked off with a heavy heart. There were going to be several canings and she did not really want to watch them; and there was the horrible thought that she might be asked to carry them out, but probably Miss Maddocks would administer the punishments.

*          *          *

Half an hour later of tearing round the school, and Eileen had rounded up the four culprits from the Library and two class rooms, and they were sitting in a semi circle in front of her on the large sofa in her study. She could tell they were nervous, but also slightly puzzled. She wondered how to begin.

“You said it was something important, Miss. What is it?” Rachel Monkton suddenly said, saving Eileen the problem of how to start.

“I am not going to argue about this, girls. The Headmistress and I have just found various items that have been missing from Wildcroft, since our visit on Saturday, in your rooms. The evidence suggests Helen took a very valuable silver cross, Rachel some cigarettes and Anthea two novels; and Fiona no doubt tagged along as she has been known to do before. Please don’t tell me that ‘somebody else must have done it and planted the items’, or some other old chestnut. I simply want from you a reasonably honest account of why you did this. You will certainly be punished, and the punishment will almost certainly be the cane, whatever you tell me, but whether Helen in particular is expelled will depend on whether you tell me reasonably honestly how this happened. You could all end up packing your bags if you fail to tell me the whole truth. If you do tell me reasonably honestly what happened, I may well have a word with the head on your behalf.”

Having said this, Eileen waited very patiently and there was absolute silence for several minutes. She was on the verge of saying something, in spite of her decision to wait for the girls to speak, when to her relief Anthea very nervously opened her mouth.

“We didn’t really plan it, Miss Carter. We got really bored and then, when the singing started, we thought that was just the end and we went off into the loos and somehow we started saying we’d like to get back at those old biddies for wasting our half day off.”

“And Fiona definitely said we should not do it, Miss,” added Helen Alexander, shuffling on her large bottom. “I would not like her to get in trouble because of us, Miss.”

“Is that true?” Eileen asked and Helen, Rachel and Anthea all said it was.

Eileen felt a certain relief that Fiona seemed to be off the hook, though she wondered both if it was completely true and also if Miss Maddocks would buy the story. There was that missing ten shilling note, but perhaps the old lady really had lost it.

“So, why did the three of you decide to steal?” She asked very bluntly.

There was a distinct pause with a certain amount of glancing between the girls, and then Anthea said: ‘You’d better tell her, Helen, it was your idea,” and all the girls other than Helen nodded and looked hard at their friend.

Helen blushed to the roots of her auburn hair, then very haltingly said, “It was really silly, Miss. We weren’t really stealing, Miss, well not like that. The four of us have been ‘The Pirates’ ever since we came here in the Second Form. That is supposed to be secret, but it was why we did it. We thought it was time we had a bit of booty, or I did.”

“It wasn’t really stealing, it was more a game, Miss.” Anthea added with pleading eyes.

“Well, I could almost believe it with Rachel and Anthea. Two Agatha Christie novels and some cheap cigarettes. Really, girls, was it worth it?”

“Almost,” Anthea said blushing. “Agatha Christie is jolly good, Miss.”

“Well, I hope you will continue to think so when Miss Maddocks has finished with you.” Eileen snapped. “But Helen, you must know that you took something reasonably valuable. Have you anything to say?”

“I just thought it was very pretty, Miss, and real booty, like the real pirates took. And I have been wondering if I should not give it back, but I don’t know how to.”

“Well, I am afraid you are all going to be hanged at the yard-arm.” Eileen said sardonically. “Or at any rate you are going to be well caned. This will probably include Fiona, judging by what Miss Maddocks has been saying, though it is probably a little unfair.”

“It isn’t that unfair,” Fiona suddenly said. “I was the lookout. Even if I thought you were all mad, I did not want you to get caught.”

“Fiona, why are you cooking your own goose? We were trying to get you off.” Helen exclaimed in mild despair.

“Be which as it may,” Eileen said. “I have to report back to the head, but I will do my best to put your case in the best light I can, though you have been so stupid that I am not sure I can do much. You will stay here and wait for me. Don’t bother with going to lessons. I will be as quick as I can.”

“It does mean the cane, whatever else happens, doesn’t it Miss?” Anthea asked with a distinct shiver. “There is no chance of being gated, or something?”

“I am afraid so, I thought I had already made that clear.” Eileen said, and walked off before the conversation turned to pleading.

*          *          *

“Just what are you telling me, Miss Carter? The stupid girls were playing at being pirates? It is unbelievable! Sixth Formers playing at being pirates, and stealing is part of the game!” Miss Maddocks glowered in disbelief. “I am half inclined to say that caning is much too good for them. I have a good mind to throw the lot of them out.”

“I am afraid it is what they said, Miss Maddocks, and I do believe them. At least they were honest enough to admit to it. And I think, from their point of view, it really was a very silly game, which they do now realise was very stupid and silly.”

“You really believe them? They are not having you on?”

“I honestly think it is the truth.”

“Well, I cannot let Helen off. She has been very stupid and silly and is extremely lucky not to find herself in front of a court. I am going to do as I have on the only previous occasion I had to expel somebody. I am going to give her six of the best on the seat of her knickers as punishment for the actual crime, which I think she richly deserves, and then I am going to expel her because I do not think she is a proper person to be present in our Sixth Form. Out of kindness to her parents, who I am sure will not wish to know the dreadful truth, that is all they will be told, unless she is silly enough to tell them about the theft herself.”

“I suppose I had better go and get Helen then,” Eileen said, feeling quite close to tears herself. “But what about the other girls, Miss Maddocks?”

“We will talk about that when Miss Alexander has been dealt with, but at present I am very close to expelling the lot of them, with the possible exception of Fiona Jones. Just go and get Helen Alexander, would you? And please don’t argue with me; I am not going to change my mind.”

“Yes, Miss Maddocks, I will go and fetch her.” Eileen said, wishing desperately that the headmistress would change her mind, but knowing it was unlikely; and probably the best she could do was to try and prevent her other three girls from being expelled.

She walked deliberately slowly to her study, calling in at the loo on the way, in the hope that it would give the headmistress a few minutes to calm down. However, it was also in an attempt to calm herself, for she realised that she was desperately upset for her girls, even though she thought they had been absolute idiots.

She pushed open the door of her study, resisting the absurd desire to knock on her own door. There was a very female rustle of skirts as all the girls jumped up as she came through the door.

“What has the head decided to do with us, Miss?” Anthea was asking.

“You will find out in due course, Anthea. I don’t think the head has made up her mind quite, at least about you three. Helen, you are coming with me.”

“What, now Miss?”

“Yes now, Helen.”

Helen went white as a sheet, but walked towards the door.

“Oh god! Helen IS getting the sack.” Eileen could hear Rachel’s anguished voice as she shut the door.

They walked in silence for a few yards, then Helen asked, “I hope you won’t mind me asking, Miss, but am I definitely getting the sack?”

“As far as I know, yes, you are being expelled, Helen, unless the head has changed her mind since I saw her.”

“Oh fuck! And it means the cane as well. At least it did when Liz Roberts got thrown out for bullying when I was in the first year. Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! My parents will kill me. What have I done!  Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!”

“I know the situation must be trying beyond belief, but please try not to swear, Helen.” Eileen said with a wintery smile, thinking that in Helen’s place she would probably have used quite a lot more colourful swear words.

“I am sorry, Miss.” Helen said with surprising contrition.

“And don’t think being expelled is the end of the world. One of my friends was thrown out for being persistently insolent, and she ended up married to a wealthy man and taking some part in his business affairs.” Eileen threw into the conversation, thinking anything to take the girl’s mind off what was probably going to be a very severe caning.

“Yes, I must look on the bright side, I suppose.” Helen said dubiously. “Do you know if the cane really hurts, Miss? I have never had it before.”

“I had it twice and, yes, it stings horribly, but on the other hand you will be alive if rather sore at the end of it. Its not quite as bad as being hung from the yard arm, which I fancy was what usually happened to pirates, wasn’t it Helen?”

“Yes, it must be horrible if your neck does not break and you feel the rope tighten on your throat.”

Eileen thought Helen had undoubtedly thought rather a lot about this gruesome topic, perhaps rather too much.

“It is strange I am getting punished by the head; I was her pet lower down the school.” Helen suddenly said.

Eileen said nothing, but felt this rather improper comment cast an unfortunate light on the proceedings. She hoped that Helen’s very severe treatment was not partly at least love turned to hate. And yet it was obvious that Helen thoroughly deserved what was coming.

Finally they were outside the headmistress’s door. Mercifully, no one else was waiting to see Miss Maddocks. Eileen, for one, had been dreading a half hour wait while Helen got more and more hysterical.

“I think you had better knock, Miss. I am not sure I can do it.” Helen said.

Eileen knocked and the door opened after a brief pause. Miss Maddocks was standing there with a very flexible cane of at least three feet in length in her hand.

She took Helen’s arm and walked her straight over to the armchair that Eileen had kept imagining herself being bent over earlier in the day. A slight push and a slight struggle with Helen’s green pleated skirt and white slip and Helen’s feet were off the ground and her large bottom in its tight green school knickers with the suspenders poking out on each side was neatly balanced on the arm of the chair. Helen clearly was not going to be given a chance to argue about her forthcoming chastisement, Eileen thought wryly.

“Right, young lady, I am going to give you six of the best for a serious theft for which you could have ended up in court. After that, you will be sent straight home. You are being expelled partly for the theft and partly for your rather immoral behaviour in general, which has worried me over several years and which we will be well rid of.”

This was news to Eileen, who thought that, though Helen was very lively, she was not that impossible, or was the head implying that there was something between Helen and Rachel, which she had half suspected herself, but had never seen any absolute proof of. Not that she ever pried into such things. In her view, such things were between the parties involved, provided they were discrete.

“Yeow!”

She realized the cane had fallen from a considerable height and bitten deep into Helen’s plump flesh.

“Please, not so hard, Miss! Please!”

Whack! Went the cane, scorching across the line between bottom and thighs, which Helen’s knickers just about covered.

“Aah! Aah! Aah. That hurt! Please Miss!”

The third stroke swished remorselessly half way between the first two and produced an indescribable noise from the victim. Eileen’s eyes strayed from the round bottom to the headmistress’s skirts which were lifting up as she raised the cane for the fourth stroke, showing a flash of pink underskirt. Eileen felt quite shocked by this unseemly sight.

From Eileen’s perspective, the last three strokes seemed to merge into each other with the howls of the victim and the rather alarming over-excitement surrounding this very strange event, which was totally unlike her own canings. Miss Broderick had been very matter-of-fact about punishing her and had probably genuinely not liked doing it. Miss Maddocks seemed very over-excited by what she was doing. However, Eileen decided firmly, it was not her concern. What was her concern was what was going to happen to the other three girls, who must still be sitting very nervously waiting in her study.

She realized that the cane had been put away and Helen was very shakily standing up with tears rolling down her cheeks while frantically clutching her bottom. Then the girl’s modesty got the better of her pain and she pulled her skirts down. Somewhere in the distance, Miss Maddocks was calling a taxi to the station and then fiddling in a drawer. Helen was being given some money and the second half of her return ticket home, and being told to go and find her coat and hat and then wait at the school gate; and there was something about her trunks being sent on as soon as practical. Helen staggered out of the door, looking very alone.

“That must have been an odd experience for you, Miss Carter.” The head said almost apologetically. “But I knew the girl well enough to realise she would never have bent over of her own free will. A haughty wilful creature altogether! We are well rid of her. But now I have to decide what to do with the other three.”

She paused and Eileen very wearily resigned herself to the prospect of two, quite probably three, girls’ be-knickered bottoms writhing across the side of that armchair and then being given money for a taxi and the second part of their return ticket for the train home.

“The trouble is, I don’t want to expel them and, if I take notice of what the other three have been up to, that is what I will have to do.” Miss Maddocks stated rather awkwardly. “Would you do me a favour, Miss Carter? Borrow whichever cane you fancy from the basket in my cupboard and go back and give those miscreants a stern lecture followed by three or four strokes of the cane. We have had one very severe example to the rest of the school, and we don’t need more than one, but equally these naughty girls need a lesson. For the moment, I am going to powder my nose. There is no need to wait for me.”

The headmistress vanished into her private toilet. Eileen hesitated for a second. Did she really want to cane these girls? Normally caning was very much the headmistress’s job and a mere house mistress had no right to do it. But she most certainly did not want them to go through the dreadful process she had just witnessed. She reluctantly opened the Headmistress’s cupboard and carefully selected a fairly thin but very whippy cane of perhaps two and a half feet length and walked out into the corridor, trying to keep the cane on the wall side and hoping no one would notice. Several people passed her, but no one seemed to notice. Possibly it was the dim light, or possibly they were just not expecting to see her carrying a cane.

Back at her study, she resisted an absurd desire to knock on her own door and opened it. There was an odd rustle of skirts as the three girls, for some reason best known to themselves, immediately stood up from the sofa. She noticed the shocked look on Anthea and then Rachel’s face as they took in the fact that there was a very swishy cane in their house mistress’s hand. Fiona, for some reason, did not look that worried, or did she think she was going to escape punishment?

“Please, what happened to Helen, Miss?” Rachel asked very nervously, looking very worried.

“I am afraid she got expelled, Rachel.” Eileen said. “You won’t see her again.”

“I expect we will manage to meet up.” Rachel said almost defiantly and with a very sullen face.

Her house mistress concluded that Rachel thought her best friend’s expulsion was extremely unfair. Was that worth an extra stroke, she asked herself. Well, she would see how the girl behaved when she got round to punishing her.

“What is happening about us, Miss?” Anthea asked with a decidedly uneasy glance at the cane from under her shoulder-length black hair.

“The headmistress is still furious with all three of you, and I am sure this will be a black mark against you all for the rest of your time in this school.” Eileen said very sternly. “However, she does not want to expel you, which she would have to do if she took formal notice of this, so she has asked me to cane you, after which the matter will be forgotten, at least in theory. Fiona, you will stay in the room. Anthea and Rachel, you will go and stand outside my study door. I will call you when I need you.”

Anthea and Rachel had the sense not to argue and shuffled very uneasily out of the door.

Eileen paused rather irresolutely; standing there with a cane in her hand made her feel faintly ridiculous. However, she decided in a way she was doing the girls a favour. Then it struck her that Fiona’s bottom was tiny and the girl would probably not be able to sit down if it had the four hard strokes of the cane on it that Eileen felt inclined to give her. And Fiona, in theory at least, was less guilty than her friends.

“What do I have to do, Miss?” Fiona asked, almost as if hurrying her up.

“Hold out your right hand and support it with your left.”

Eileen, as she said it, realised that she was saying exactly what Miss Broderick had once said to her, and wondered if Miss Broderick had felt as upset about caning her as she now felt.

“Right, two strokes on each hand, young lady. Are you ready?”

“Yes, Miss Carter.”

She brought the cane down hard. Fiona’s outstretched palms visibly moved downwards and she pulled the most dreadful face, but she did not burst into tears, or make any noise. Eileen bought the cane down very hard again with the same result.

“Now put your right hand under your left and support it.”

The girl did it, though it was clear from her face that she was suffering. Again two hard strokes were given and again an incredibly contorted face but no tears. Eileen concluded Fiona was a tougher creature than she had previously imagined.

“Can I go, Miss?” Fiona was saying through gritted teeth while clenching her two hands together as hard as she could.

“Yes.”

“Thank you for stopping me getting expelled, Miss.”

“Well, let us hope I do not live to regret it.”

“You won’t, Miss.”

Fiona opened the door and went through it, shutting it behind her.

Eileen took a breath and thought Fiona was by far the least culpable of the four girls and normally well behaved, though there was the interesting possibility that she was the one who had got away with taking the ten shilling note. Four strokes on the hands was probably a reasonably well-measured punishment. At least she hoped it was.

The house mistress turned her mind to Anthea and Rachel. Both had definitely stolen something that was of value to its owner and deserved a little humiliation as well as pain, which a well applied cane on the seat of the knickers should provide. She rather felt that Anthea’s theft of the two Agatha Christie novels was the worst of the two girls’ misdeeds, for the old lady in all probability really treasured her books. Still, Eileen knew from watching Anthea playing games that the girl’s bottom, while larger than Fiona’s was not that large. Perhaps she would spare her the traditional six and give her five.

As to Rachel, she had not liked the way she had reacted to her best friend’s dismissal from the school and she would wait to see how she behaved while she was being disciplined. She might well end up with the traditional six, if she did not show at least some contrition.

At this point, Eileen half smiled at her own cold bloodedness. When she woke up that morning, she would not have dreamt she was capable of administering these very severe and painful punishments, and yet here she was doing it almost with aplomb!

She paused a further second and pondered before concluding that a Sixth Form girl bent over the end of the sofa would make a tempting target and there would be plenty of room to swing the cane.

She opened the door and called Anthea in.

“I do hope you have at least been enjoying the novels.” Eileen observed.

“I didn’t actually get very far with them, Miss. Just the first couple of chapters of ‘Five Little Pigs’. But it is jolly good, Miss.”

“Doesn’t it occur to you that the old lady you took it from might also have thought it was jolly good?” Eileen said waspishly.

“I am very sorry, Miss, I really am.” The girl stated, shuffling her feet and looking down.

“Well young lady, you are going to be even sorrier in a minute. Pull your skirts up to your waist and bend over the end of the sofa for five strokes of the cane.”

Anthea complied, whimpering a little as she did it, and Eileen glimpsed a pretty pink underskirt for the second time that day above a very plain white slip. She noticed the girl was clutching hard at the material of the grey settee and was quietly sobbing. Her blue school knickers were very tight across her bottom, outlining two solid, round orbs of flesh very clearly. It would have looked less indecent if the bottom had been bare, Eileen decided.

She positioned herself carefully and sent the cane swishing into that tight little bottom with an easy swing of her arm, producing the most tremendous screech. It must be said that Anthea was only brave to the extent that she kept herself in position. She howled after every stroke and the quantity of tears would have floated the Titanic, Eileen thought to herself.

For some reason, administering the five strokes seemed to take a very long time, though it could not possibly have been more than a couple of minutes; but at last it was over and Eileen took a breath. The victim was still wailing, but she let the silly girl go on for a couple of minutes, before observing that if Anthea wanted to go on making such a fuss for the rest of the day, she had better go on doing it in her study. The auburn-haired girl adjusted her underwear and staggered out of the room.

Eileen paused rather wearily. One more caning to go, she thought, and in many ways the most deserved, in her opinion. Though Rachel Monkton had only taken some cheap cigarettes, smoking was totally forbidden and, moreover, she must have known about the serious theft of the silver cross and done nothing to prevent it.

She opened the door to call Rachel in and found herself being distracted by Fiona and Anthea arguing just a few yards down the corridor about whether being caned on the hands or the bottom hurt more.

“I doubt if I will want to sit down for the rest of the day.”

“Well, try getting your hands caned! They feel as if they are falling off!”

Perhaps it was a sign the girls were recovering, Eileen thought; at least she hoped it was. She almost told them to hurry up and go back to their class, but then thought that was a bit mean when they were probably waiting for Rachel.

“Have I got to come in now, Miss?” Rachel was saying awkwardly, obviously wondering why her house mistress was standing there dithering.

“Yes, of course.” Eileen snapped.

A ferocious lecture followed. Smoking was absolutely forbidden. Stealing cigarettes made it even worse. Stealing from old people made it horrific. Rachel said that she was sorry at each appropriate moment, but Eileen was not at all convinced that the girl was really contrite.

“Right, young lady, you are going to have six strokes of the cane on the seat of your school knickers. And don’t make the slightest protest, or it may well turn into seven. I am fed up with your insolence. One whisper out of you and you may well follow your best friend to the station.”

Eileen was about to follow this up by ordering the victim over the end of the settee, when the girl very hesitantly said, “Please Miss, I really am not being rude, but I have only got thin panties on and it will really hurt me. Please could I have some of the strokes somewhere else?”

Eileen was about to explode and start talking about two extra strokes, when it suddenly struck her that the girl had a point. Anthea had suffered quite a lot, and she had a reasonably solid pair of knickers on.

“Alright, I will give you two on each hand and three on your bottom. Is that fairer?”

“Thank you, Miss.” Rachel said, flinching visibly, but obviously thinking it was the best deal on offer.

“Hold out your right hand and support it with your left.”

A couple of very painful moments later, and Rachel was clenching her two small hands together and quietly sobbing, though to be fair to the girl she had not even said ‘ow’ while she was being caned.

Eileen paused and let her victim recover just a little.

“Right, time to bend over the end of the settee, Rachel. Pull your skirts above your waist before you do it.”

“Do I really have to, Miss? The first bit hurt so much.”

“Yes, you do have to do it, Rachel. That was the bargain we made. Failure to finish your punishment will mean a visit to the headmistress, who will probably expel you and certainly cane you without any regard to what knickers you have on, especially as even in the Sixth Form you are expected to wear the correct underwear.”

“I have not got much option, have I, Miss?”

“No, I am afraid that you have no alternative to pulling up your skirts and bending over.”

Rachel’s face seemed to stiffen itself as if she was literally clenching her teeth. Then she shuffled over to the settee and pulled up her skirts.

Eileen, for the third time that day, caught a glimpse of pink underwear. This time it was from first of all a rather splendid petticoat, and then a very skimpy pair of thin panties that gave virtually no protection.

She flinched herself at the sight of that. However, she administered three sharp strokes, which she deliberately held back on just a little. This did not stop the victim getting extremely worked up and uttering a loud screech after each stroke and jumping to her feet and doing a sort of dance, clutching her bottom when it was over. Eileen was thinking that Rachel was making a fuss, till she noticed the large swollen welts poking out from under the panties.

The girl gradually calmed down, though the sobbing continued.

“You can go now.” Said Eileen firmly, thinking this had gone on quite long enough.

The sobbing seemed to subside and Rachel seemed to pull herself together.

“Thank you for sorting it out so we did not have to go to the head and be expelled. You are a brilliant house mistress, Miss.” Eileen heard, to her considerable surprise.

After the girl had gone, Eileen pondered a while. Was there any point in giving Miss Maddocks her cane back? There might well be other occasions where severe punishment was required, but a visit to the headmistress was highly undesirable. In the end, she put in on top of her wardrobe and made herself a cup of tea.

The End

© Jane Fairweather 2019

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