A trick backfires and a fifth former owns up.
The weekend passed most enjoyably for Tony and Vicki who stayed in during Saturday morning and breakfasted late, Vicki spending most of the remaining morning writing her lines perched on a soft pillow, before going for a swim with Tony after all the others had left. The remaining ladies went riding as planned and, except for Tony, the gentlemen took in a round of golf before returning to collect the picnic hampers together with Vicki and Tony. They then drove, in the Bristol, to a prearranged spot on the outskirts of Dartmoor to meet up with the equestriennes.
The lovely scenery and the food matched the conversation as all eight were fully engaged and delighted in each other’s company. The afternoon flew by, and a second hamper with afternoon tea was brought out, before all made their way back to Birchgrove Hall in time to prepare for dinner which was hosted by Lady Mary in her dining room. A convivial evening followed before all went to bed happy.
Sunday morning, after breakfast, Tony and Vicki left; in order that he could drop her off at St Hilda’s, where she had both marking and the remainder of her lines to complete, and for him to complete a briefing for the Commodore due the next day.
Monday lunchtime, and Vicki phoned Tony to let him know of another eventful day at St Hilda’s. The young history teacher had completed her own 1000 lines for the headmistress, neatly written on fifty, numbered, double sided, A4 sheets in a soft cardboard folder. Each ‘line’, which actually needed two lines on the page, read ‘Smoking is a disgusting habit and all those caught smoking must, without exception, be reported to the headmistress’. After supervising breakfast as duty teacher, Victoria was on her way to see the headmistress to hand in her lines when she slipped on spilled milk and the contents of her folder scattered across the floor. Several girls helped Vicki to recover the pages and, embarrassed, she stuffed them back into the folder and continued on her way after asking the duty prefect to arrange for the spilled milk to be cleaned up. Unknown to her, one page had slid further under the table and gone unnoticed by the young teacher.
The errant page was picked up by Heather Smythe, a girl in the lower sixth who had a grudge against Victoria for what she believed were unduly low marks for a rushed piece of homework and a detention the same day for talking in class. Picking up the paper, she was astonished to see that the ‘lines’ had, in St Hilda style, the name ‘Victoria Knight-Brewer’ at the top left of each side and contained numbered lines 780 to 800. Realising that, for some reason, the teacher had been punished, she thought she would have some fun. Reaching into her blazer pocket for her pen, she added ‘has been a naughty girl’ after Victoria’s name in turquoise ink. She then pinned the page to the main noticeboard outside the school hall.
By this time, Victoria had arrived at the headmistress’s study and, upon knocking, was bidden to enter. Mrs Edwina Smithfield was seated behind her desk and, smiling, stood as she entered and was handed the file. Vicki explained the lines were not in order as she had fallen. Handing her back the file, the headmistress asked Vicki to rearrange the pages in order for checking, which she started to do. When she got to sides 78 and 79, Vicki went pale. She could not find it.
“What is the matter, Victoria?”
“Mrs Smithfield, there is a page missing, but I did do them all, honestly.”
“Hand me the rest.”
Vicki did so and the headmistress quickly flicked through the remaining 49 double-sided numbered pages with 980 neat numbered ‘lines’.
“These are very neatly done, Victoria, but what would you do if a girl failed to hand in, on time, all the lines that had been given?”
“Well, Mrs Smithfield, I would firstly ask for an explanation and then either allow her a short extension to submit the remainder, possibly with an additional page of lines for each missing page, or, if I was in any doubt that she was telling the truth, perhaps slipper her. If, however, I thought she had tried to mislead me, I would send her to you for three with the cane.”
“That would all be reasonable, and you have given me an explanation. Unfortunately, we need to resolve the issue of smoking at assembly this morning and I had promised Lady Millington to announce your permanent appointment to the school today. An extension for you to rewrite the missing lines and a penalty is therefore not possible. We can therefore only go ahead as planned if I slipper or cane you. As you were caned only on Friday, I think a single stroke with the slipper should do the trick. Bend over please and touch your toes.”
Vicki did as requested and, whilst the lovely redhead did so, Edwina Smithfield retrieved the slipper from the drawer in her desk. Clasping the black plimsole firmly, she then quickly applied a single hard stroke across the pleated skirt, which Victoria’s position had stretched tightly over her bottom. Vicki remained in position and accepted the undeserved punishment, with only a restrained ‘Ouch!’.
“Thank you, Victoria, honour has been satisfied. Now, please sign your new contract, which is on my desk, and accompany me to assembly.”
With Victoria resisting the urge to rub her stinging bottom, the two ladies then left the office and proceeded to assembly, entering last.
As they approached, they saw the missing page of lines had been pinned to the notice board. Vicki went to unpin it, but the headmistress had other ideas. Vicki blushed at the thought the whole school probably now knew of her punishment, although hopefully not that she had been caned. The assembled body stood as the headmistress and the young teacher entered side by side.
The routine prayers and hymn singing over, and those excused attendance at the religious part of assembly having joined, routine administration matters were announced by the deputy headmistress. The headmistress then rose to address the assembled girls and staff.
“Firstly, I have an important announcement. I am pleased to tell you all that, following two very successful terms here, the board of governors has confirmed Miss Knight-Brewer’s permanent appointment in the history department and as deputy housemistress of ‘Tudor’ house.”
There was applause in the hall, although some sniggering as Heather turned to her neighbour and whispered, “Wait till the headmistress finds she hasn’t handed in all her lines.”
The Headmistress was looking for such an opening and noticed the exchange.
“Miss Smythe, you are a very rude young lady. I will not tolerate talking in assembly whilst I am making an announcement. Report to the head girl afterwards.”
Mrs Smithfield continued. “Secondly, I have been made aware of a number of recent cases where students have been caught smoking or in possession of cigarettes. In these cases, contrary to my instructions, the students were not brought directly to me by the teacher or prefect involved. I remind everyone that I alone, or exceptionally the deputy headmistress in my absence, will deal with incidents involving smoking. You are also reminded that any girl caught smoking will be caned, and any girl found with smoking materials will be slippered. There will be no exceptions. You have been warned. Last Thursday a girl in the fifth form was caught smoking by a prefect but was let off with a warning. The young lady concerned knows who she is and I expect her to report to me after assembly. I will not tolerate smoking in this school. That is all.”
The assembly stood, and the Headmistress and Victoria left, followed by the other teachers. Edwina Smithfield unpinned the lines from the board on her way back to her study.
Meanwhile, there were two worried young ladies heading in different directions. Sarika Khan was making her way slowly and apprehensively towards the headmistress’s study. A very pretty girl with long dark hair, Sarika was the daughter of an Indian diplomat and had been at St Hilda’s for two years. Clever, charming, quiet and shy, she was well liked by pupils and teachers alike, and at seventeen was a year older than most of her fellow fifth formers. She was the girl that Bryony had caught trying her first ever cigarette and had decided to own up. She was ashamed of herself and, irrespective of how Mrs Smithfield now dealt with the matter, was not looking forward to her father’s reaction when she next saw him over half term.
The other girl was, of course, Heather Smythe, who was making her way towards the Prefect Room when she was intercepted by Chloe. Like the headmistress, Chloe had seen the tall sixth former, with the distinctive chestnut curls, turn to her neighbour as soon as the announcement to the school about Vicki was made. Chloe had noticed the page of lines pinned to the board but, on the off-chance that the Headmistress had ordered it pinned there, decided not to remove it until she had checked. The Head Girl had noticed in particular the addition in turquoise ink and remembered that Heather had recently written lines for her in the same unusual colour.
“Heather, I was wondering whether the matter which was so important during the headmistress’s announcement had anything to do with the paper that I saw you pin to the notice board on your way in, with its ‘witty’ comment in turquoise ink.”
Chloe had not, in fact, seen Heather post the notice, but was banking that she was unaware of this.
“Actually, it was frightfully funny that Miss Victoria Knight-Brewer was made to write lines like a first former, and I thought the rest of the school would think so too. I wanted to embarrass her as she has been picking on me all week. I suppose now I am going to be writing lines for you in detention, but it will be worth it.”
“No, Heather, you will not be writing lines for me because we are going straight to Mrs Smithfield and will see whether she shares your ideas on humour.”
“Chloe, you can’t be serious! Please! It was only a joke!”
The three young ladies arrived at the headmistress’s office at the same time and spoke to the secretary, in the ante-room, who phoned the Headmistress. Mrs Smithfield decided to see the Head Girl and Heather first and to ask Sarika to wait.
“Hello Chloe, what can I do for you?”
“I think you might like to know how a certain document came to be altered and posted on the noticeboard before assembly this morning. Heather, here, should be able to help. I see you have the document on your desk and you will note the changes to the top line in turquoise ink.”
“Heather, please remove the pens from your blazer pocket and place them on Mrs Smithfield’s desk.”
Heather did so, and Chloe picked up the fountain pen and, on a blank piece of paper, proved that it contained turquoise ink.
“Now, Heather, please tell Mrs Smithfield exactly what happened this morning and why.”
“Mrs Smithfield, I was eating breakfast when Miss Knight-Brewer slipped and her papers were scattered. She collected most of them, helped by other girls, but one page finished up under my chair. She was already on her way to you when I found it and picked it up. I was going to give it to her but looked at it first and realised that you must have given her lines to do. I found this very funny and, as she had been picking on me all week with undeserved low marks and detentions, I wanted to embarrass her and to share the joke with all the others. So, I added the ‘naughty girl’ comment and pinned it up so that everyone could see it on the way to assembly.
“When you made the announcement at assembly, I remarked that she would not even have handed in her lines properly, and that is what you saw.”
“Miss Smythe, do you think any of those actions were remotely acceptable?”
“Maybe not, but neither was her picking on me.”
The headmistress picked up her phone and called the secretary’s office. “Is Miss Kahn still waiting to see me? Good, please find out where Miss Knight-Brewer is at the moment and send Miss Kahn to her with a message to come and see me, please, and to bring with her Miss Smythe’s history workbook.”
Putting down the phone, the headmistress turned back to the pretty teenager. “I would not wish to see any girl in this school unfairly treated. As you know, Heather, until I was appointed Deputy Head three years ago, I was head of the history department. I feel I will be more than capable of deciding whether your work for Miss Knight-Brewer has been fairly marked, don’t you agree?”
“Yes, Mrs Smithfield.”
“Now, about your detentions; what were they for and when did you serve them?”
“Miss Knight-Brewer said I was talking in class, and then that I was discourteous when she told me to use navy blue or black ink for my work for her. I only told her that the rules said blue or black ink, and turquoise is blue. So, I carried on using turquoise on the next piece of work and for the lines she gave me in detention, which was with the duty prefect, in this case Chloe last Wednesday.”
“I see, and were you in fact talking in class?”
“Well yes, but then so were some of the others, and they weren’t punished. She was just picking on me!”
There was a knock at the door and, when bidden to do so, Vicki entered.
“You wanted to see me, headmistress? Here is Heather’s workbook that you asked for.”
The Headmistress opened the book and turned to the most recent two pieces of work, both written in turquoise ink. The first, a piece about the reformation under the Tudors, was neatly written and comprehensive; there were a few corrections and comments in red ink in Vicki’s neat handwriting which ended with, ‘B+ Well Done!’ The later piece on the ‘corn laws’ showed all the signs of being completed hurriedly, the writing of the second half was untidy and there were several crossings out. On this occasion there were more comprehensive and constructive notes from the teacher and a final, ‘C- not your usual high standard – see me.’
“So, Heather, what grades do you think these two pieces of work really deserved?”
“I think an A and a B+ would have been fair, Mrs Smithfield, and the comment on the last one was horrid and unfair.”
“Shall I tell you what I think, Heather?”
“Yes, please Mrs Smithfield, but I suppose you will have to back her anyway!”
“I will not tolerate bullying or unfairness and will call it out any time I see it! Now the first piece was really very good and I might have awarded it an A- rather than a B+, but the comments and the praise were justified and constructive, so Miss Knight-Brewer’s assessment was reasonable and fair. I would also have pointed out that turquoise would not be acceptable in your final exam and asked you to revert to a more conventional ink colour.
“The second piece of work was untidy, rushed and incomplete, as is again reflected in Miss Knight-Brewer’s comments. In this case, I would have given you a D and required you to rewrite it. I consider that Miss Knight-Brewer has been both fair and constructive and, as you admitted that you were talking in class, you also deserved the detention you were given.
“You, on the other hand, have behaved like a petulant and spoiled child, and not the intelligent and capable young adult that you normally are. Your cheap stunt, designed to further embarrass a young and talented teacher who only wants the best for her pupils, was unworthy and not in the least amusing.”
“I am very sorry, Mrs Smithfield.”
“That is all well and good, but it is Miss Knight-Brewer who deserves your apology.”
“I’m sorry, Victoria, really I am. I was upset and embarrassed that I got low marks and then detention, and wanted to see you embarrassed also, but I was wrong.”
“Heather,” replied the young teacher, “You are really good at history and I want you to aim for the straight ‘A’s that you are capable of when you make the effort. What you did today hurt and embarrassed me in front of the whole school on what should have been a big day for me, but we can put this behind us and I want to help you succeed.”
The apprehensive girl looked at her teacher with surprise. “You really mean that, don’t you, even after what I just did to you?”
“Of course I do!” replied the young teacher. “You remind me of myself at your age.”
The Headmistress looked at Heather. “Do you accept that you deserve to be punished?”
“Yes, Mrs Smithfield. I realise now that what I did to Miss Knight-Brewer was horrid.”
“Very well, you will refill your pen with navy-blue ink and write five hundred times, ‘When I behave like a spoiled and petulant child I will be punished accordingly’. Hand the lines to Miss Knight-Brewer in front of the class during your history lesson tomorrow. You are also to complete an additional 40 lines, ‘I have been a very naughty girl and have been slippered for it’, for completion before tomorrow morning, which you will pin to the school notice board. Do you understand?”
“Yes, Mrs Smithfield.”
“Finally, Heather, you will now bend over and touch your toes. You will be getting eight with the slipper with Miss Knight-Brewer as a witness.”
The very pretty teenager did as instructed; her beautiful features were obscured under her cascade of stunning chestnut curls as her skirt tightened over her curvaceous bottom. The headmistress, for the second time that morning, retrieved the slipper from her drawer and took up position. A quickfire volley of spanks visited the upthrust buttocks, over her skirt, with the eight strokes being administered in less than a minute. Heather held position but could not resist increasingly loud vocal responses as the initial uncomfortable sting in her bottom morphed into genuine pain. When invited to stand, a very red-faced and somewhat tearful young lady could not resist rubbing her bottom under her skirt before recovering sufficiently to sign the punishment book.
“Ok, Heather, you may go; straight back to your next class, please. By the way what is it?”
“Gym, Mrs Smithfield.”
“Good. Well, run along.”
As Heather left, accompanied by Chloe, the head teacher asked Vicki to wait. She then remembered that Sarika Khan was still waiting and asked the secretary to send her in. Sarika was worried, having heard Heather’s slippering, but was determined to own up to the headmistress.
“Yes, Sarika, what can I do for you?”
“It was I, Mrs Smithfield. I was the girl to whom you referred in assembly; the one that was caught smoking and was let off.”
“I see. I am surprised and disappointed. How long have you been smoking?”
“It was my first ever cigarette. I wanted to know what they were like, but did not want anyone to know. So, I went to the area by the woods. It was my first cigarette ever, it tasted horrid and I just could not stop coughing. Bryony heard me coughing and that was how she caught me. But, as I still could not stop coughing, she felt sorry for me and just confiscated the cigarettes and lighter and warned me not to do it again. I promise I will never smoke again; it was really horrid!”
“Sarika, you have been at St Hilda’s for two years and have never been in trouble before. This is a really important exam year for you and this is not the time for a suspension. What would your father say if I decided instead to cancel your half-term leave and set you extra work instead?”
“Please don’t, Mrs Smithfield! Papa would want to know why and would punish me himself when he next saw me.”
“Well, in that case, what punishment do you think you deserve, Sarika?”
“You said in assembly that any girl caught smoking would get the cane, so I suppose it is only fair that I get the same punishment.”
“Ok, Sarika, I will cane you over your trousers. Bend over the back of that chair and put your hands on the seat. Do not rise until I tell you to do so. Miss Knight-Brewer will be the witness.”
Sarika was a truly beautiful young lady with shining dark hair in waves and a natural beauty which owed nothing to makeup. As she bent with her feet together, the fabric of her blue trousers stretched taut over the fleshy mounds of her bottom. The Headmistress went to the cabinet and extracted the medium cane, swishing the yard-long rattan through the air. Sarika flinched, closed her eyes and took a deep breath. The headmistress waited until the lovely teenager relaxed slightly and then applied a firm stroke across the very centre of Sarika’s bottom.
“Ouch!” Sarika gulped in air and then steadied her breathing. A single tear trickled slowly down the café-au-lait beauty of her features. She remained in position, waiting.
“Ok Sarika, you may now rise, I admire your honesty in owning up and I have caned you for smoking as I promised in assembly. Now, I expect you to promise me never to smoke again.”
“Thank you, Mrs Smithfield. I promise.”
“Now, sign the punishment book, the remainder of your punishment is to write 200 times, ‘Smoking is a disgusting, unladylike habit and girls who smoke deserve the cane’. Hand the lines in to Chloe tomorrow. You are also to phone your father and tell him what has happened. Ask him to come and see me when he picks you up for half-term. I will try and dissuade him from adding to your punishment. Now, back to class.”
Sarika left, rubbing her bottom as she did so, hugely relieved, but more than a little concerned of what her beloved Papa’s reaction would be when she next saw him.
Alone with Vicki, the Headmistress continued. “Well, your first morning as a permanent member of staff has been an eventful one, and one no doubt you will remember for a long time. I would like to congratulate you on how you have behaved throughout, especially your handling of Heather’s apology whilst no doubt still having a sore bottom on her account. Would you care to dine with me tonight, or is Tony coming over?”
“I would be delighted, Mrs Smithfield. I am on my own tonight as Tony is Officer of the Day and cannot get away.”
“I am so pleased and, Victoria, when we are alone, please call me Edwina.”
© Capstan 2021