A shy sixth former faces the cane for the first time.
By Robert Roberts
Amy Masters walked down the garden path to her front door, opened it and stepped inside the hallway. She was greeted by her mother.
“Hello, Amy. Good day at school? You look glum. What’s wrong?”
“I’ve lost my bus pass Mum.”
The Local Education Authority paid for students living more than three miles from their school, giving them a free bus pass to get to and from school. It was a valuable contribution to the household budget for cash-strapped families.
“That’s careless, love. You’ll have to go the office and get it replaced.”
“I’ve tried Mum but they say I’ve got to wait a week,” mumbled Amy, knowing how her mother would react.
“What! That’s ridiculous. I can’t afford £25 for bus fares. I’ll ring the office and get it sorted.”
“Don’t, Mum. Reduce my pocket money over the next few weeks until it’s paid.”
“No, darling. No need for that. Leave it with me,” said a determined Laura Masters.
Amy shuffled her feet and looked uncomfortable. “I was told if I wanted an immediate replacement I would have to take two strokes of the cane for being negligent.”
Laura looked at her daughter first with anger, which quickly turned to understanding, and then sympathy when she saw her reaction.
“Nobody wants to have the cane, love, but unfortunately for one reason or another it sometimes has to happen. Come here.” Mrs Masters wrapped an arm around her daughter and gave her a kiss.
“How many strokes?” she asked.
“Two, according to Mrs Bayliss, the School Administrator,” lamented the crestfallen girl, realising which way this was going.
“Well, that’s not too bad is it? I’m sure you can handle that,” stated Mum as she released her daughter from a hug. “Be brave, go into the office in the morning and tell them you’ve changed your mind and you want a new pass immediately. I’ll give you your bus fare to get you to school in the morning.”
Amy could see there was no point in arguing. Seven years at secondary school and now she was getting the whack for the first time. Aware of friends having had the cane, she knew it wasn’t pleasant.
The door bell rang and Amy opened the door for her school friend, Susan Oliver.
“You off now, darling?” said Mother. “Good luck. I’m sure you’ll be OK. Look after her, Susan,” and, giving her daughter a kiss, she closed the door behind them.
“I take it your Mum has said she won’t give you the bus fare and you’ve got to take the cane?” asked Susan. “It’s OK. I’ve had it twice. It hurts, but you soon get over it.”
The two friends caught the bus, Susan using her bus pass and Amy paying the fare. They arrived at school and Susan accompanied Amy to the office. She nervously approached the desk and attracted Mrs Bayliss’s attention, who greeted her with a friendly smile.
“I reported my lost bus pass yesterday, Miss. My Mum told me to get it renewed immediately, so here I am,” explained a hesitant young lady.
“Yes, I remember. It’s Amy Masters, isn’t it? Right you are. I’ll get your new pass sorted. Come back at four o’clock and I’ll have it ready for you. You’ll need to pop in to see Miss Evans before you pick it up.”
Amy knew what that meant and nodded fretfully. Mrs Bayliss smiled reassuringly. For her, it was all in a day’s work arranging the schedule for girls to be caned, delivered by Headmistress, Edith Evans, but she did feel for the recipients. She knew Amy would receive two relatively light strokes of the cane for this minor offence. As she had done on many previous occasions for recipients of corporal punishment, she entered Amy’s appointment into the Headmistress’s diary and collected Amy’s school file to present to her. Looking through it, she observed Amy’s disciplinary record was excellent. Not necessarily a high academic achiever, but a hard worker. It seemed she was a quiet, shy girl who kept herself to herself. One of those girls who stayed below the radar and she doubted the Headmistress would even know of her existence until today.
It was a difficult school day for Amy. First lesson of the day was maths and she was not concentrating. Mrs Lawson, the maths teacher shouted at her.
“Amy, pay attention, otherwise you’ll find yourself in detention.”
Amy hated being told off and certainly didn’t want a detention. She immediately apologised, but a few minutes later she was in trouble again.
“I warned you, Amy. You’re looking out of the window daydreaming. I’m giving you a detention. See me at the end of the lesson,” ordered the annoyed teacher, surprised that Amy, of all her students, should disobey her.
There was sniggering from some of Amy’s classmates because Amy never got into trouble but, as they were enjoying the moment, Susan raised her hand.
“Please, Miss. Amy is upset. That’s why she’s not concentrating.”
Mrs Lawson turned to Amy who was already embarrassed because of attention being focused on her. On being quizzed by her teacher, she mumbled and could not put a coherent sentence together. She wished Susan had remained quiet.
Susan interrupted Amy’s flustering. “She’s going to get the cane at four o’clock,” announced Susan, loudly and clearly. “It’s her first time. Surely you can let her off a detention, Miss.”
“Yes. Thank you Susan. That’s enough from you. Class, settle down,” ordered the teacher, who was as surprised as much as her students that Amy was going to be caned.
“Amy. I want your undivided attention for the rest of the lesson. Now let’s get on.”
The lesson continued and, even though it dragged for Amy, she maintained concentration and avoided any further trouble. At the end of the lesson, she approached Mrs Lawson.
Mrs Lawson spoke with firmness. “A first caning in your final few months at school must be upsetting and I can understand you being worried. But you are struggling with some aspects of maths and you simply cannot afford to put in any less than maximum effort if you want a good exam result. I’m going to award you a detention.” Mrs Lawson proceeded to write out the chit. “Perhaps you can take your time in detention to think about your future efforts,” advised the teacher.
Amy, dejectedly, took the chit and thought to herself, ‘A first ever detention and caning in the same day!’
As she turned away, Mrs Lawson asked, “Why are you being caned?”
“I have misplaced my bus pass,” she muttered.
“Your teachers have your best interests at heart, Amy. You need to fully concentrate in the coming weeks up to your exams,” she said trying to show some sympathy which was lost on Amy.
The rest of the day passed without incident. Susan stayed with her throughout the lunch hour and fended off inquiries from classmates intrigued with the reasons for her caning. At four o’clock, the two of them arrived at the Administrator’s office. Mrs Bayliss handed over the new pass and asked Amy to sign for it. She noticed Amy was trembling as she signed for her pass and attempted to reassure her.
“You’ll be OK, sweetheart. Take a seat with your friend and wait until the Headmistress can see you.”
From their seats, the girls watched Mrs Bayliss collect the punishment register from a drawer together with Amy’s file. She took them to the Headmistress’s door, knocked and entered. Amy looked at Susan.
“I can’t stand this. I’m going to run,” gulped Amy, but Susan squeezed her hand, not really believing she would do anything so silly.
“Do you think you’ll be able to hear what’s happening when she does it?” asked Amy.
“Probably, but it doesn’t matter.”
“Will I get it on my knickers?”
“No. I don’t think so. I didn’t.”
“Will she shout at me? I would hate that.”
“She can’t get too angry with you, just for losing a bus pass. I heard she started using the cane because some girls were giving their mates their passes and then claiming they had lost theirs.”
“What are they doing? I wished they would hurry up.”
“Probably going through your disciplinary record. That should work in your favour. You’re so well behaved,” Susan tried to reassure her friend.
A couple of minutes, seeming like an hour, ticked by and the tension increased. Amy stood up and started taking deep breaths to try and relax.
“I need a glass of water.”
Susan approached the desk on behalf of her friend and asked an assistant secretary, “Can I have some water for my friend?”
“Yes, of course,” answered Mary, the new young assistant who had been taking a keen interest in Amy’s fate. For the first time, she had heard a girl being caned by the Headmistress two days before and found the whole episode quite absorbing. She was looking forward to Amy’s caning.
“She looks very nervous. Is she going to be all right?” asked Mary as she gave Susan a beaker of water from the dispenser.
“We’ll see,” said Susan noncommittally while noting Mary’s over-keen interest.
Amy quickly swallowed the water and returned the beaker.
“Thank you,” she said politely.
“Not long now,” proffered Mary. “How many are you getting?”
“Two, I think.”
Mary tried to hide her disappointment. She had been hoping Amy would receive something a little more substantial.
No sooner had Amy returned to her seat when the Headmistress’s door opened and Mrs Bayliss appeared. She motioned to Amy to come to her and Amy got to her feet and nervously made her way to the Administrator, who waited for her in the entrance to the Headmistress’s office. Putting an arm around Amy’s shoulders, she gently guided her into the Headmistress’s office, the first time the sixth former had recourse to be there.
“Amy Masters, Headmistress,” announced Mrs Bayliss.
“Thank you, Mrs Bayliss.” The headmistress sat at her desk with her head down and Mrs Bayliss departed, closing the door behind her.
Amy stood self-consciously, heart thumping. Despite having just drunk a beaker of water, her mouth was dry. She observed a chair placed menacingly in the centre of the room and guessed it was for her to bend over. But no sign of the cane. Shuffling from one foot to another and twiddling her fingers, she sighed involuntarily which attracted the unwelcome attention of Miss Evans. A withering look from the Headmistress did nothing to calm the nerves of the apprehensive girl.
“Stop fidgeting, Masters,” ordered the Headmistress.
Amy was not used to being addressed by her surname and this further unsettled her.
Amy was made to stand for two minutes before Miss Evans walked over to the chair in the middle of the room. She was a short, slim woman in her early fifties, greying hair tied back and smartly dressed in a tight-fitting skirt, white blouse and cardigan. She had a reputation for being dour, unsympathetic, lacking compassion, but fair. She caned hard, but not with pleasure or enthusiasm and, to her, caning, or the threat of the cane was simply an effective way of maintaining discipline in her school.
Having looked through Amy’s file, and noting her near perfect disciplinary record, Miss Evans decided two sharp strokes of the cane across this young lady’s backside would be sufficient punishment for her carelessness, and a reminder to be more careful in the future. She noted Amy’s agitation and decided not to further delay the proceedings.
“You know why you’re here, Masters so let’s get it done. Come over to this chair,” she ordered.
But Amy froze. She could not make herself take the walk to the chair. Miss Evans waited, with one hand on the back of the chair and one hand on her hip. Her experience told her if she was confronted with a frightened girl, patience and encouragement were more productive than anger and threatening worse punishment.
“Come on, girl. I haven’t got all day.”
“I can’t Miss. I’m really scared.”
“I could come over to you and cane your legs where you stand. That would be much more painful, so I suggest you come and bend over this chair. It will be over in a few seconds. Now please!”
Amy moved slowly and reluctantly until arriving at the chair. She noticed she was taller than Miss Evans.
“Grab the seat and lower your head as far as you can. That’s good,” encouraged the Headmistress. Amy was doing her best to oblige. “Lower. I want you to push your head down and bottom up. Excellent. Now hold that position.”
Amy’s, black regulation school uniform trousers had tightly enveloped her nicely shaped, firm bottom and presented the ideal target for Miss Evan’s cane. Leaving Amy in position, she went to the cupboard and selected the junior cane. Although Amy was a senior, the junior whippy cane would be ideal for this minor offence. A sharp sting, but not the longer term bruising associated with the senior cane.
Amy’s long curly brown hair flopped forward over her face. She thought to herself she should have tied it back into a pony tail, but what did it matter? Miss Evans was taking a long time. Although her attendance at church had been spasmodic over the last few months, she offered up a silent prayer.
‘Please, please don’t let this be too painful. I’ll definitely come to church on Sunday,’ she whispered quietly to herself.
She was aware that Miss Evans was now at her side. Gripping the sides of the seat cushion, she took a deep breath and closed her eyes.
“Keep those legs nice and straight. Hold tight.”
There was a whoosh as the cane accelerated through the air until it landed with a loud thwack on Amy’s waiting bottom.
“Ouch!” she gasped. ‘That stings,’ she thought to herself. ‘But perhaps not quite as bad as I feared.’
She wiggled her bottom attempting to dissipate the burning sensation.
“Keep still!” came the order from the Headmistress, and Amy immediately complied.
‘One to come. I can handle this,’ thought Amy.
The cane descended onto her bottom for the second time with the same ferocity as the first. She yelped and took a sharp intake of breath. The stinging sensation was uncomfortable and she desperately wanted to run her fingers over the two lines of pain left by the cane to bring some relief, but forced herself to remain in position awaiting instructions.
“You may stand, Amy,” commanded the Headmistress, now calling Amy by her first name.
A mix of emotions. Anger, because her privacy had been invaded. Someone had chosen to deliberately inflict pain upon her young body. Glad that the ordeal was over and quietly pleased she had come through without too much fuss. She stood in front of her tormentor gently caressing her wounded bottom and wanting to get away so that she could cry or scream or seek the solace of her Mum or perhaps none of these. But she did want the opportunity to inspect the damage. Find a mirror and check out the lines that seemed to be expanding across her bottom by the second.
“You have a good disciplinary record, Amy. No detentions and now just one caning. Let’s see if you can keep it like that,” said the Headmistress pushing the punishment register across her desk for Amy to sign.
“Actually, Miss, I got a detention this morning. I was stressing about my caning and Mrs Lawson could see I wasn’t listening to her.” Thinking honestly was the best policy.
Miss Evans paused before offering Amy a choice. “Your decision. I can give you another two strokes of the cane instead of you serving your detention, or you can take your detention.”
Amy, already feeling the acute stinging resulting from two lashes of the cane, wondered if she could bear another two, which at least would draw a line under her unhappy introduction to school discipline. The Headmistress gave her a few seconds to decide.
“Well? What’s it to be?”
Amy decided to opt for some more of the cane, but then wasn’t too sure if she had made the right decision when Miss Evans invited her to once again bend over the chair.
“You know the routine. Get that bottom up in the air.”
Adjusting her position to satisfy the Headmistress, Amy clenched her teeth and screwed up her pretty face in preparation for receiving another scorching application of the cane to her bottom. The now familiar rush of air as the cane swept through to its target. This one really hurt, probably catching a previous stroke. She howled and jumped up, clutching her chastened derrière. Tears trickling down her flushed cheeks. For the first time in her young life, she was experiencing genuine pain.
Never one to pity girls being subjected to a punishment they richly deserved, the Headmistress acknowledged to herself she may have caught a previous stroke. This is the disadvantage for the girl of not lowering her trousers. The Headmistress couldn’t be sure of where she had placed previous strikes. With trousers down she could see the welts and choose to avoid them. Or not, if a girl had been really naughty.
She gave Amy a few seconds to recover before tapping the chair to indicate it was time for the final stroke. Amy, now feeling she had definitely made the wrong decision, slowly and painfully resumed the necessary position. Sobbing quietly but trying hard to hide her discomfort, she had no time to steady herself before the last stroke was launched. Definitely the least ferocious of the four strokes but nevertheless a serious punishment, causing Amy to wail. But it was over. This time she didn’t wait for the Headmistress’s permission to rise. She eased herself up from the chair and concentrated on alleviating the biting pain.
Miss Evans gave her a couple of minutes to regain her composure. Amy wondered what the staff in the office would make of her noisy performance. Unknown to her, Mary was enthralled and excited after hearing Amy’s cry of pain. Mrs Bayliss had heard it all before and continued with her duties, prepared to offer sympathy to the beleaguered girl if required.
Trying hard to look calm and in control of her emotions, Amy opened the door and walked into the office. Mary would have loved to engage with her but was not given the opportunity.
Mrs Bayliss uttered words of comfort. “You all right, sweetheart? Well done.”
Acknowledging Mrs Bayliss with an attempted smile, Amy made her way out to Susan, who was waiting to comfort her.
“Amy, Susan is on the phone.” Laura Masters called her daughter, who was in her bedroom feeling sorry for herself and nursing her sore bottom.
Amy walked gingerly down the stairs to get to the phone in the hallway. “Hello Sue.”
“Hi Amy. How are you?” asked Susan rather nervously.
“Very sore,” responded Amy. “Mum rubbed some soothing cold cream into my bum and that helped.”
“I’m really sorry, Amy. I don’t know how it happened but I found your bus pass in the bottom of my sports bag.”
“What!” exclaimed Amy, followed by a long silence. And then she unexpectedly laughed.
“I remember. We were in the changing rooms. I was showing my bus pass to Helen. She reckoned she might be entitled to one. Mrs Timpson started shouting to us to hurry up and get changed. Last one out would get a whack with her gym shoe. I threw the pass into my sports bag, or so I thought. I must have thrown it into yours by mistake. They are identical.”
“I can’t help thinking, while you were getting whacked I’d got your pass with me in my sports bag. I don’t know what to say,” lamented Susan.
“Not your fault,” Amy kindly reassured her friend. “I’ve always wondered what it would be like to get caned. Now I know. Why don’t you come over after tea? I can show you Miss Evans’s handiwork. She’s a cow. Showed no sympathy. Just like a robot.”
“Yes, but I like Mrs Bayliss,” said Susan, now pleased her friend was not blaming her for the misplaced pass.
“Yeah. She’s nice. See you later,” said Amy.
© Robert Roberts 2021