A raucous celebration leads to punishment
By Robert Roberts
Lizzie Anderson and Carol Lloyd collected their cappuccinos from the good-looking barista, with whom they had been flirting, and made their way to a vacant table. Carol sat down and noted her friend, Lizzie, was struggling to sit comfortably, with a pained expression on her face.
“You OK?” asked Carol, expecting Lizzie to say she had pulled a muscle, or something similar.
The response she received rather surprised, if not, shocked her.
“I’ve received a six stroke caning from Harriet Lewis,” explained Lizzie with a forced smile, shifting uneasily on her sore bottom.
“What?” asked Carol. “You’re joking. You mean Harriet Lewis, the Headmistress? Why?”
“You’ve been on holiday for the last few days and so you don’t know what’s being going on, do you?” answered Lizzie. “I’ll bring you up to date.”
Lizzie and Carol were members of the Budworth Netball Club sponsored by a generous local millionaire businessman, Tim Charles, whose daughter Chloe was a key member of the team. The team trained and played their home league matches at the Budworth Co-educational Independent School. A very well equipped gymnasium, funded by Tim Charles, was the ideal venue for the team who were high flyers in the local league. And after each match and training session there was a superb sports and social club adjacent to the gym for the team members to avail themselves.
Lizzie related to Carol events that had occurred after she had left early. It was the last league match of the season and Budworth won the game, giving them the title. The team retired to the social club and, being a Friday evening, it was already quite busy. They invited their defeated opponents to join them. There was much celebrating with singing and dancing and alcohol flowing. Unfortunately, there was some riotous and drunken behaviour, resulting in considerable damage to fixtures and fittings. The steward tried to get the situation under control, but he was first verbally, and then physically, abused by some of the players and he ended up with most of his clothes being ripped off. Maisie, the school secretary, ended up with a suspected broken nose caused by an accidental flailing arm, and that meant a visit to hospital.
“You left early because you were going away next day and you missed the turmoil. There was a major inquest on Monday morning, involving the Headmistress, the steward and Tim Charles. Harriet Lewis was white-hot furious and banned us all from the school premises, including the gymnasium and social club. It seems Tim Charles managed to get her to relent but, to cut a long story short, she would only allow us back if, would you believe, we each accepted six strokes of the cane as punishment for our unruly behaviour. Eleven of us, including Tim Charles’s daughter, Chloe, and the two sixth formers, Betty and Mary, and poor Maisie and, most embarrassingly, coach Tina. Harriet Lewis held her responsible and she had to accept twelve strokes. Tina has just celebrated her fiftieth birthday. Can you imagine? The two sixth formers were threatened with suspension if they refused the canings.”
“Unbelievable!” gasped the astonished Carol. “This surely can’t be true.”
“It’s true,” confirmed Lizzie, wincing as the pain of her recently caned bottom took hold.
“What did Gerry say about you getting whacked?” asked Carol.
“Oh! He thought it was hilarious. He couldn’t wait to get home from work to explore my bruises.”
“Where does this leave me?” pondered Carol. “I wasn’t there. When I left, things were hotting up, but I wasn’t involved in any trouble.”
“Your name is on the list,” were the words that Carol did not want to hear. “We’ve all been seen to except you.”
“I’m a 36-year-old divorced mother of two teenage sons. I shouldn’t be subject to a spanking. It’s ridiculous.”
Lizzie smiled. “We all felt the same, but it was made clear that unless we took the caning we would be permanently banned from the premises, and that meant we wouldn’t be able to play for our team again. And we’ve got the area cup final coming up next week.”
“It’s not as though I play regularly. I only started three matches this season,” lamented Carol, now feeling quite uncomfortable.
“You are an important squad player. You come off the bench and make a difference. You’re not thinking of quitting to avoid a caning are you?” questioned Lizzie.
“No. I don’t want to give up, but I really don’t fancy the whack. I got it enough at school to remember it’s not nice. And what do I tell my two boys?” Carol sipped her cappuccino and stared through the window, restlessly unhappy.
“Look. Ring her up. Make an appointment. Go and see her. It’s all over in a couple of minutes. She’s not unfriendly. Very matter of fact. Get it done and then forget it,” suggested her friend. “We need you for the cup final week on Tuesday.”
“Hello Maisie. It’s Carol here.” Carol had decided to go ahead with the caning and telephoned to make an appointment.
“Hello Carol. I guess you’re ringing to make an appointment,” answered Maisie, the school secretary and Budworth wing attack. “When would you like to come? I guess ‘like’ isn’t the correct word.”
“No point in putting it off. I’ll come as soon as possible and get it out of the way.”
“You could come this afternoon. She’s free.”
“That soon?” Carol thought for a moment. “OK. 2 o’clock?”
“See you then.”
Carol arrived in good time, parking her car in the visitors’ car park. She reluctantly and nervously made her way to the School Secretary’s office. Her heart was pounding, and not because of the flight of stairs she needed to climb to reach the office.
She thought to herself, ‘How bad can this be? I am a grown woman.’ Mature, sensible and more than once she had told herself she had gone through the pain of childbirth twice, so she should be able to handle a caning. Entering the office, ten minutes early she was welcomed with the friendly smile of her friend, Maisie, who came from behind her desk and hugged her.
“She’s not back from lunch yet. Would you like a coffee?” asked Maisie.
Carol nodded and asked Maisie, “How did everyone take it?”
“The two girls were first up on Tuesday morning. I thought she was really harsh with them. She singled them out for a blistering telling-off but didn’t scold the rest of us off at all. Just got on with caning us almost without comment. And I don’t think the girls caused any trouble at the social club. Wrong place at the wrong time. But both of them took it well. Some sniffling and sobbing.”
“She called me in just before lunch. Asked me if it would be convenient to do it now and I agreed. I was asked to bend over her desk and she delivered six rapid sharp lashes. I gasped and ouched, and ooohed and aaahed, but I coped. I didn’t know what hurt the most. My black eyes or my bruised bottom. She thanked me for my cooperation and said she anticipated our working relationship would not be affected.”
“I felt really sorry for Tina. She came in on Tuesday afternoon and was told she was going to get twelve strokes because as coach she was being held responsible for the behaviour of her players. She was really suffering by the end and was quietly crying. I gave her my best efforts to comfort her, but I think her biggest problem was the humiliation of it all.”
“Early Wednesday morning, Chloe breezed in, very cool. I guess she wanted to make a good impression with her father because Mrs Lewis will confer with Mr Charles after the canings have been completed, with you being the last one. I wondered if she would escape the caning because of who her father is, but obviously not.
Harriet Lewis entered the office, returning from lunch.
“Hello Mrs Lloyd. Thank you for coming in. Would you like to step into my office?”
Carol had only spoken to the Headmistress briefly on a couple of occasions. She nervously watched her remove her coat and hang it on a coat hanger. The time for her caning, which twenty-four hours ago seemed incredulous, was drawing very near. She took deep breaths and tried to convince herself she was going to handle this situation with dignity.
The Headmistress commented. “I have been told by Maisie and a couple of your friends that you had left the club before the trouble started. However, this is a team punishment and you are part of the team. A caning to punish wrongdoing and also to act as a warning to prevent a future reoccurrence. If you wish to avail yourself of the facilities this school offers, you have to accept the punishment.
Carol had no wish to get into an argument. The rights and wrongs were irrelevant if she wanted to remain a member of the team. She watched the Headmistress select a cane from the cupboard and was invited to step forward and bend over the desk.
The cane zipped through the air and landed with a loud thwack across the centre of her bottom, causing her to gasp. She could immediately feel tears welling up but, despite the vicious stinging, she did not cry out. She thought of Maisie in the adjacent office hearing the sound of the cane striking bottom, and if she cried out Maisie would certainly hear. Remaining silent for the first four strokes as they descended agonisingly upon her backside, she was unable to stifle a yelp when the fifth stroke connected. The sixth and final stroke was delivered with extra zest, but she steadfastly refused to make a sound.
“Thank you, Mrs Lloyd. Please stand and you may leave when you are ready.”
Why she thanked Mrs Lewis on her way out she could not comprehend but, after thanking her, she returned to Maisie’s office. Maisie was waiting for her with a suitably sympathetic expression on her face.
“You OK?” she asked.
“I think so,” replied Carol, her attempted smile turning into a grimace. “Tell me. What is a lady supposed to do when she has just been whacked across her bottom six times?”
“Your coffee has gone cold. Would you like another?”
“Good idea. I need this soreness to wear off a bit before I try to drive my car. I suppose I should have come by taxi,” she said, ruefully rubbing her tortured bottom.
“Netball practice tomorrow night. Are you coming? asked Maisie.
“Sure thing. I’ve just earned the right. We can compare our markings.”
© Robert Roberts 2020