Twin Girls find their school and their parents take a different view to a topical issue of the early 20th century.
1912, and two twin girls, Geraldine, and Sophia, daughters of Mr and Mrs Croxley, had been sent home from their exclusive boarding school. They had been caught sneaking back into the school after attending a suffragette meeting, a movement for which they were strong supporters. Their punishment was suspension from the school for four days after a severe telling-off from the headmistress. Their mother had received a telegram telling her of the decision and that the girls would be on their way home. The girls arrived home and rang the doorbell. Their mother opened the door and said nothing until after the girls had stepped inside.
“Take your coats and hats off and go into the drawing room,” said their mother coldly. They crossed the large hall and entered the drawing room of their parent’s large opulent house in its own grounds, followed by their mother. She was a woman of average height and slim build, with dark hair pulled back and well dressed as befitted her station as the wife of the director of a large overseas trading company. She produced the telegram and held it up in front of the girls.
“So this is how you repay your father and me with this ridiculous escapade. You should be downright ashamed of yourselves. How dare you get involved in such things at your age? I suppose, Geraldine, that you encouraged your sister in this nonsense?”
“No, she didn’t mummy,” said Sophia strongly.
“Hold your tongue girl, speak when you are spoken to,” said her mother angrily.
“She made up her own mind,” said Geraldine.
“Yes, and with plenty of encouragement from you, no doubt. Your headmistress should have given you a sound thrashing before sending you home, now I shall have to do it. You can think yourself lucky that your father is abroad at the moment. You know what a slippering from him is like.”
“Oh please don’t tell Daddy about this.” Pleaded Geraldine.
“On this occasion I will refrain from informing him as he has a lot on his mind and you will be punished by me,” said Mother.
“What are you going to do to us?” Asked Sophia nervously.
“I shall give you the slippering you deserve and you will be confined to the house until you return to school. Go to your rooms and wait for me.”
“But mu…” began Geraldine.
“I said, go to your rooms,” replied Mother in a raised voice.
The two girls left the room and made their way up the stairs.
“I don’t care how much she slippers us, I’m not going to stop fighting for women’s rights,” said Geraldine.
“Neither will I,” agreed Sophia.
They went to their respective bedrooms to await their fate, defiant to the end.
Mrs Croxley went first to Geraldine. “You know what to do,” she said, smacking the heavy carpet slipper on her hand.
Geraldine went to the wicker chair in the corner of the room, turned it round and bent over it, hands on the front of the seat. Mrs Croxley followed and pulled up Geraldine’s gymslip and petticoat and then to Geraldine’s horror, pulled down her white cotton drawers.
“Oh no, mummy, not on my bare bottom, please,” protested Geraldine.
“You can think yourself lucky it’s not your father doing this, then you would have cause for complaint.”
“But Mummy, it’s so embarrassing, I’m eighteen years old, I’m a young woman now.”
“You are a schoolgirl, and you are a child until you reach the age of twenty-one, and don’t you forget it.”
Mrs Croxley delivered the first of a dozen firm whacks to Geraldine’s mature round bottom. The punishment entailed much protesting, wriggling and raising of legs, as Geraldine endured her agony.
“You will now remain in your room until I call you for dinner; you will have no afternoon tea. Let this be the start of a long period of reflection on your past behaviour and your future.”
Mrs Croxley left the room, and Geraldine to return her drawers to their rightful position. She then went next door to Sophia. “I have punished your sister and now you will receive the same. Over the chair.”
Sophia was as determined as her sister to resist her mother’s efforts to stop her following her belief. She obediently bent over the chair and, like Geraldine, protested at having her drawers taken down. Unlike her sister, she wasn’t so resistant to her slippering and was shedding tears by the end. Mrs Croxley then left with the same warning.
As soon as Mrs Croxley had descended the stairs, Geraldine crept from her room and went next door to see her sister. She found her lying on the bed, face down, crying quietly. Geraldine crept over to the bed and sat down.
“Does it hurt?” She asked, looking into Sophia’s face and stroking her hair.
“Yes it does,” replied Sophia in a pathetic voice.
“Did you get a dozen?”
“Never mind, it’ll soon ease off. We must think ourselves lucky that it wasn’t Daddy, otherwise it would have been twenty,” pointed out Geraldine.
“I know,” said Sophia, raising a watery smile for her sister.
The two girls spent the rest of the time at home confined to the house under the watchful eye of their mother, and couldn’t wait to get back to school.
When the term ended, they returned home, looking forward to the holiday. However, their optimism was short lived. As soon as they arrived, their mother was waiting for them.
“Take off your coats and go to the study, your father is waiting for you.”
The girls looked at one another and then went off to the study.
“What do you think he wants?” Asked Sophia.
Geraldine shrugged. “Just wants to welcome us home, I suppose.”
“From the tone of Mummy’s voice, I don’t think so,” replied Sophia nervously.
They arrived at the door and knocked.
The two girls stepped inside. Their father was sitting behind the large mahogany desk, smoking a cigar. The girls nearly choked on the smoke that filled the room. Their father looked up.
“Come here you two.”
The two girls stepped forward.
“Hello Daddy,” said Geraldine.
Father didn’t answer, but picked up two pieces of paper from his desk.
“How do you explain this?” Asked Mr Croxley, handing one each of the papers to Geraldine and Sophia.
As they read it, the colour drained from their faces.
“Well?” Asked their father after they finished reading.
Sophia spoke first. “We didn’t mean to offend you, Daddy.”
“And you?” He asked, looking at Geraldine.
“I’m very sorry, Daddy.”
“Is that all you have to say?”
“We have been punished for it,” said Geraldine.
“Yes, a suspension from school and a slippering from your mother. Hardly the sort of punishment to make you regret your actions and to deter you from doing it again, and to getting involved with this ridiculous suffragette movement.”
“It’s not ridiculous, Daddy,” said a defiant Geraldine. “It’s a great cause, women should be recognized for what they are, equal to men.”
Sophia tugged at Geraldine’s gymslip. “Ssshh.”
“Don’t give me that nonsense; keep your stupid opinions to yourself. At least your sister knows when to hold her tongue,” said her father.
“I don’t care, I shall stand up for what I believe in,” declared Geraldine.
“Silence, I’ll hear no more of this nonsense. You will both be soundly punished for your stupidity,” shouted their father angrily, banging his fist on the table.
Geraldine stood with a defiant look on her face. Sophia was nearly in tears.
Mr Croxley put down his cigar, got up and went to a cupboard behind his desk, opened it and took out a thin whippy cane. Both girls gasped. As soon as Mr Croxley had read the girls’ reports he had sent the daily help, Mrs Holmes, out to buy a suitable cane from the local hardware shop. The girls had never actually seen a cane before but they knew full well what it was. Several girls at school had described in lurid detail how they had been caned at home by strict parents, usually mothers. Now Geraldine and Sophia were about to experience it for themselves.
“Right, I shall thrash the pair of you,” said Mr Croxley.
“No Daddy, please, not that. I’m sorry, sorry, sorry,” cried Sophia.
“Be quiet girl, come here,” said her father, taking her by the arm and leading her to a large leather armchair behind where they were standing.
“Lay across the arm of the chair.”
Sophia did as she was told. She lay with her hands on the other arm and her chin resting on them. As her body sagged between the arms, her bottom became prominent over the arm. Her father threw back her gymslip and then dragged her drawers down to her knees.
“Noooooo,” she screamed.
“Shut up and take your punishment,” said her father angrily.
Meanwhile Geraldine stood motionless, half filled with dread, and half with anger at the treatment being meted out to them.
“Aaaaaggghhh,” screamed Sophia.
Outside the door, Mrs Holmes, the daily help, stood listening, smiling inwardly to herself, hearing for herself how her purchase was performing. Inside, the caning continued.
Suddenly another door opened and Mrs Croxley appeared. “Get on with your work Mrs Holmes.”
“Sorry Mrs Croxley,” replied Mrs Holmes, quickly scurrying away.
Mrs Croxley then took up a similar position outside.
Back inside, the cane rose and fell, deep red lines already appearing on Sophia’s tender bottom. After six strokes, her ordeal came to an end.
“Get up and get out,” ordered her father.
In floods of tears, Sophia eased herself up and ran from the room, straight at her mother and flung her arms round her.
“Go to your room child,” said her mother coldly, pushing Sophia’s arms away.
Poor Sophia ran up the stairs and into her room. Inside the study, Geraldine was preparing to receive her first stroke. All defiance had drained from her after hearing how Sophia had suffered.
“Aaaaggghhh,” she cried after saying to herself that she would take as many in silence as possible. After six, she breathed a sigh of relief that it was all over. However, to her horror she heard the swish of the cane and another searing pain filled her bottom, and another.
“Get up,” ordered her father.
Geraldine eased herself up.
“And if you’re wondering why you got extra, you showed not a sigh of remorse, nor any sort of apology, now get out.”
With tears streaming down her face Geraldine walked stiffly to the door and straight past her mother and then ran up the stairs. Mrs Croxley entered the study.
“Don’t you think you were a little hard on them dear, after all they had already been punished?”
“Clearly not nearly enough,” replied Mr Croxley as he replaced the cane in the cupboard.
© Lisamum 2016