A sixth form girl discovers she’s not exempt from punishment.
There was an unsettled atmosphere in the Upper Sixth English class. Mrs Maltby had taken the girls through the finer points of Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ in previous lessons and had now instructed them to write an essay on the bard’s understanding of Scottish history, but there was constant fidgeting and murmuring going on. It was so frustrating for her. This was a class of near-adults behaving like unruly children, yet she had no way of disciplining them. Detentions and impositions were unheard of for sixth formers. Eventually her patience gave way.
“I have had enough of all your disturbances,” she suddenly announced. “The next girl acting out of order will be sent to the Headmistress.”
Silence descended, but Kelly Marsden could not restrain herself for long.
“What do you make of Banquo’s ghost?” She whispered to her neighbour.
Mrs Maltby was upon her instantly. “Kelly, stand up at once!” She ordered. “How dare you start talking after what I just said! Now get yourself out of here and report to Miss Rivers.”
Kelly was in no hurry to obey. She sauntered out of the room and ambled along the corridor towards the Head’s office. What a waste of time this was! All old Muddy Waters could do was issue a reprimand and send her back. The Head was well known for her sharp tongue and brisk manner, which scarcely matched her nickname.
The girl knocked on the School Secretary’s door then was soon ushered through to the lady herself. Miss Rivers made a point of acquainting herself with all the Upper Sixth but scarcely knew this student.
“Kelly Marsden, isn’t it?” She began. “What are you doing here in the middle of a lesson?”
Kelly, aware that she had not been invited to sit down, shifted from one foot to the other.
“I’ve been sent by Mrs Maltby,” she explained. “I just asked a question to the girl sitting next to me, but Mrs Maltby jumped on me and ordered me along here. So here I am.”
There was something about this girl that riled Miss Rivers. Maybe it was her stance or her languid way of speaking, as clearly she did not see herself as being in any real trouble. She needed to change this insolent attitude and Miss Rivers knew how best to do it. But first she needed to check one detail.
“Tell me, Kelly, how old are you?” She asked.
Kelly was puzzled by this question but replied that she had turned eighteen last month.
“So you are old enough to know how to behave in class, then?”
“Well yes,” replied the girl. “I didn’t think that I was causing any great disruption.”
“But Mrs Maltby must disagree with that, otherwise she would never have sent you to see me. She would only post you in my direction because she felt that you were in need of serious correction to your behaviour.”
Kelly was now feeling more agitated, but still defended herself. “I don’t really see what I have done wrong,” she protested. “Just tell me off if you must, and let me get back to class.”
The Head’s mood was changing from irritation to anger, but she retained her cool exterior.
“I can see now why Mrs Maltby found your behaviour so insufferable,” she continued. “You are clearly in need of a short sharp shock. There is only one adequate remedy to use on you, and you are of an appropriate age to receive it. I shall give you, here and now, three strokes of the cane across your backside!”
Kelly could scarcely believe what she had just heard. She thought that corporal punishment had become illegal for school pupils. Rumours floated round the school that Miss Rivers still kept a cane but how could she use it? The Head enlightened her even before she could ask.
“You may be aware, Kelly, that I can no longer exercise corporal punishment on any under-age pupil, which is why I enquired about your birthday. You are old enough to agree voluntarily to a caning.”
Kelly looked at her incredulously as she continued.
“The alternative would be suspension until the end of term, which would draw your behaviour to the attention of your parents and the school governors. For all I know, the governors might then decide to extend your suspension into permanent exclusion.”
“No way can I believe that, Miss Rivers” retorted Kelly. “I’ve told you already that all I did was talk to a neighbour. Just tell me off and let me go!”
The Head’s anger could barely be suppressed. “You insolent girl!” she barked. “You have not even had the grace to apologise for the trouble you caused Mrs Maltby and your fellow pupils. You will immediately take off your jacket and bend over. If you do not, I shall suspend you instantly!”
Kelly stood in complete silence, but Miss Rivers rose and opened a cupboard behind her desk, from which she extracted a long thin brown stick with a curved handle. The headmistress could barely remember when she had last used the school cane, but she now held it with both hands right in front of the girl, flexing it to demonstrate its suppleness. As she thought of its power to make an impression on this young lady, her cool demeanour returned.
“I’m waiting, Kelly,” she remarked. “Are you going to take the suspension? If you walk out of this room with an un-caned bottom, you can say farewell to all your studies for the rest of this term.”
Kelly at last realised her predicament. Just five minutes ago, she was taking part in a normal lesson; now she was faced with unbelievable humiliation. She could not afford to risk her A-levels. Very slowly, as if in a nightmare, she pulled off her jacket and clutched it in both hands.
“Come on, girl,” responded the Head. “I haven’t got all day. Put that jacket on my desk then grip your ankles.”
Kelly was wearing the Sixth Form uniform which was like a business trouser suit. She leaned forward and hesitantly rested her hands on her knees. But Miss Rivers was not satisfied.
“I’ve told you already that you are to hold your ankles. Spread your feet apart and bend yourself right over.”
Silently, Kelly did as she was told. The fight had gone out of her as she assumed this most ignominious position. The Head pressed her left hand firmly on her back, and Kelly flinched as she felt the cane being lined across her buttocks. Her trousers, now stretched tightly across her rear, would afford her little protection.
“You will keep your knees straight,” Miss Rivers ordered, “and you will not move until I tell you, even though I can assure you that three strokes will be a very painful experience. Any attempt to get up or touch your bottom will result in extra strokes.”
Kelly gritted her teeth when she became aware the cane was no longer resting on her rear. Hair had flopped into her face and she also squeezed her eyes tight shut in order to avoid any sight of the dreaded stick. But she could not help hearing the swish of its descent and the crack as it impacted the centre of her now well presented posterior. Briefly she felt nothing, then a searing pain like a burning poker filled her backside, causing her to gasp. As the anguish intensified, the cane landed again, slightly lower. Her knees buckled under the blow and almost sank to the floor as she groaned out loud. She could never have imagined pain like this.
“Keep your knees straight, girl, or I shall give you extra!” Came the response.
Still moaning, Kelly resumed her position as the Head’s firm hand was pressed hard on her back. She could no longer prevent tears seeping out of her eyes when she felt the cane once more lined across her aching buttocks, lower still this time as it reached more sensitive areas. When it hit her a third time she could simply not keep still. Her knees gave way again and both of her hands reached for her wounded cheeks.
But Miss Rivers was remorseless.
“I warned you, Kelly, about failure to stay bending over and so I shall award you one extra stroke. Get back in place straight away or it will be more!”
Kelly could not restrain a flood of tears, yet dared not do other than she was told. The humiliation of presenting her bottom had been bad enough, but now she was experiencing the degradation of a severe beating, and all for whispering. The whimpering girl gripped her ankles a fourth time. Down came the cane, this time upon the crease between her buttocks and thighs. Kelly felt as if all the lower part of her body was on fire.
“Very well, girl, you may stand up,” came the order.
Kelly realised she must look a mess, but she could do nothing about it. For a few moments, with face flushed and hair dishevelled, she could only press her hands against her exquisitely sore rear and continue gently moaning. But Miss Rivers had had enough.
“You now know what it is like to be caned for misbehaviour. And I can assure that I shall not hesitate to cane you again if necessary, with six strokes or more. Now put your jacket on and get back to your class. You will tell Mrs Maltby and your fellow students exactly what punishment you have received, and I shall check later that you have done so. Off you go!”
Kelly stumbled from the Head’s office, scarcely able to take one hand from her rear to open the door. The Secretary, who must have heard it all, sympathetically opened the door to the corridor for her. Hastily she headed for a toilet, where she tried to cool her burning face with cold water, then ran her fingers through her hair in an effort to make herself look more presentable. She would have liked to inspect the damage to her rear, but was alarmed at missing the end of her English lesson and so incurring a further visit to Miss Rivers. Although she had been gone for less than fifteen minutes, she had lost all sense of time.
Kelly had hoped to return to class inconspicuously, but she was greeted by shocked stares. It was obvious she had suffered some serious punishment, and Mrs Maltby was determined to elicit the details even before she sat down.
“I’m glad to see you have had your meeting with Miss Rivers,” she began. “Perhaps you can tell us what took place?”
There was no getting away with it for Kelly.
“I got caned, Mrs Maltby,” she blurted out. “All for just whispering in class.”
There was a shocked murmur, quickly followed by an expectant silence in the hope that more was to be revealed.
The teacher was not going to disappoint her pupils. “You caused a disruption when I had specifically forbidden it, and you deserved punishment at a level I could not provide. So you had better inform us more about what actually happened. How many strokes were you given, and where did you receive them?”
“It was four, Mrs Maltby,” the embarrassed girl replied, “and I was in Miss Rivers’ office.”
Giggles broke out around the room at this response, but the teacher was not amused.
“Don’t you give me flippant answers, you cheeky girl! You know perfectly well what I meant. Which part of your anatomy took the caning?”
“I had to bend over, and I got them on my… on my bum, and they really hurt!”
“So, Kelly, you may now resume your seat, and I do want to see you sitting properly, however much your rear end may hurt. As for the rest of you gigglers, remember that if you disturb any future lessons you too will find yourselves touching your toes for a taste of Miss Rivers’ cane!”
Aware that all eyes were upon her, Kelly hesitantly took her place. The wooden seat was hard for her sore buttocks, but she found the pain bearable so long as she stayed still. She hoped that none of the others would demand to see the marks which she was sure were spread across her behind.
In time they would wear away, but she would always remember the utter humiliation, at age eighteen, of bending over and presenting her bottom to the Headmistress’s cane.
© David 2015