Story from Janus 20.
A Very Painful Lesson
by R.T. Mason
THE NOTEPAPER bore the School Crest (St Stephens School, Eastminster. Headmaster: R.A. Harrison, M.A.). The note was short and very much to the point:
'This afternoon (Friday, 15th May) at 4.30pm there will be a Formal Headmaster's Caning in my office. As is customary on such occasions you are expected, in the interests of school discipline, to be present. If there is any pressing reason why you cannot, will you please let me know immediately.
The pupil involved is Miss Susan Roberts, Lower Sixth.
Signed: Robert Harrison,
The note in its innocent brown envelope was in the pigeonhole of every male member of staff that Friday morning. (Women teachers of course would not be required to attend a Formal Caning, canings in general being regarded by the Head as strictly a male preserve.) The innocent brown envelopes had been opened one by one and one by one, like little bombshells, producing sounds of shocked amazement, ranging from sharply indrawn breath and low whistles to varied exclamations: 'Good Lord!'; 'Incredible!'; even 'Fucking Hell!' from Mr Dale (Maths). The sounds of shock were mixed, though, with here and there noises of undoubted excitement – as with Mr Fulton (History) who sharply stuck an elbow into the ribs of his crony Mr Stanley (Geography) while exclaiming, 'Something not to be missed, Ron. Susan Roberts! Mindblowing! Think of that bum...!'
What might be deduced from all this was that the announcement on that crested notepaper was something out of the ordinary, and this was certainly correct. A Formal Caning was far and away the most severe punishment meted out at St Stephens and was given only rarely. It was rare indeed for a boy to get it; but for a girl... For a girl to be bent over the Head's desk in front of the assembled male staff – well, you needed a very good memory to remember the last time that had occurred.
And more than all this of course was the name on the note. Susan Roberts. Because really she was one of the last girls you would expect to do anything remotely deserving of a Formal Caning. High spirited at times, yes, but for most masters she was a hard-working, well-motivated girl, as well as being friendly and charming. Not only that but she was also one of the most attractive girls in the school, her youthful pretty features – hazel-green eyes, pert full-lipped mouth – framed by curling trimly-shaped chestnut hair with just a touch of auburn.
And that wasn't all, for below there was, too, a trim shapely figure firmed up by her twin hobbies of gymnastics and athletics. A slender figure except for her backside which, again no doubt as a result of that athletic activity, was well-developed with a full taut flare to the cheeks. Indeed most masters who had seen those shapely hindquarters in buttock-moulding gym or athletics shorts – or indeed in a skin-tight swimsuit – would rate Susan's bum quite as highly as her pretty face. Which is really saying something.
Hence indeed Jack Fulton's excited, 'Think of that bum!' – for he and Ron Evans were in fact in the habit of paying special visits to the gym during Susan's practice sessions for the express purpose of gazing on that delectable part of her. Because when pretty Susan got working, in her energetic way, on the vaulting horse or bars, her firm limbs soon bathed in a light sheen of perspiration, those ultra-tight pale green shorts would inevitably, in spite of embarrassed tuggings, start sliding further and further up off the ripe bottom cheeks and up into the tight crack of her bum. It was a riveting sight for these two ardent admirers of young female athleticism, routinely producing flushed faces and a pleasant tightness in the front of the trousers.
So for Messrs Fulton and Stanley and all the other masters in the Staff Room that morning the note was indeed nothing less than a bombshell. Stanley, eyes shining, looked at his colleague and licked his lips. 'Could she get it... on the bare?'
Jack Fulton squeezed his arm. 'Could be, old son. Could be!'
Both men shared the same mouthwatering picture: Susan Roberts bent over the Head's desk with that choicest of rears completely bare... and the cane descending...
'Just depends what the young beauty's done. Anyone have any idea?'
One master there did, of course. Mr Pritchard, Senior English Master. He coughed, in his dry schoolmasterly way. 'I think you'll find... it could very well be on the bare...'
Those close to him who heard, turned with shocked eager looks. What had she done then?
The eyes glinted behind those gold-rimmed spectacles, Mr Pritchard's prim mouth pursed then said, 'Moral Turpitude, I think the term is...'
* * *
Somewhat earlier that same Friday morning the subject of all this excitement had herself received a brown enveloped letter, personally delivered to the Roberts' home, No. 17 Frobisher Avenue, by the school caretaker Mr Bert Davis at 7 am. Mrs Roberts found it 15 minutes later when she went in search of the milk, and placed it in front of her daughter as she sat at the breakfast table. 'Not a love-letter, Susan?' she laughed, and then, 'Ah, that sounds like the milk at last. He's late this morning.'
Susan, dry-lipped, tore open the letter as her mother went out again. After the events the last two days she had been expecting something. Not a love-letter, however; something unpleasant, though she didn't know quite what. She took out the folded note and after a moment's hesitation opened it... Yes, it was from school... the School Crest... Headmaster: R.A. Harrison, M.A.... She looked away... Please!... then forced herself to look, to focus her eyes on the black typed print. She gasped, refolded it... got up...
'Aren't you having any cornflakes, dear?' asked her mother, coming back in with the milk.
'N... no... I'm not very hungry.'
Susan went out... straight to the loo, locking the door behind her, and sat down on the flat seat top. She bit her lip, then opened the note again. This time she forced herself to read it properly.
'Dear Miss Roberts: I am writing further to our meeting earlier today. On reflection I am afraid I have no option but to treat this matter as one of the utmost seriousness. Accordingly you will present yourself at my office at 4.30pm on Friday when you will receive a Formal Headmaster's Caning. As is customary with such a punishment all male members of Staff will be present.
Please wear games kit: i.e. a sleeveless cotton top and gym shorts, plus knee-socks and plimsolls. You are permitted to wear a brassiere if you wish; however, there must be no knickers under the shorts which must be brief and snug-fitting.
Signed: R.A. Harrison, Headmaster.'
She re-read the words. She felt sick. She also felt an urgent need to scream. The note was already screwed-up and bedraggled in her damp hands when she stood up and adjusted the blue pleated school skirt and her white school blouse in the mirror. She was in a state of extreme nervousness – sheer fright in fact. She felt sick in her stomach.
Susan unlocked the door and went out, then automatically went through the rest of her routine for school – brush her teeth, brush her hair, put on her school tie, and then the blazer... all with her mind quite divorced from what she was doing, her thoughts fixed only on the horrendous contents of the Head's letter. A Formal Caning... It was so horrible and awful that really it was hardly credible. Had she perhaps imagined it? But she had only to open that fear-crumpled note again, now in her blazer pocket. She said goodbye to her mother. Then, still in that zombie-like state, Susan walked slowly to the bus stop.
Bob, her boyfriend, would be waiting there but really he was the last person she wanted to see. Not that, hopefully, he would know. Because a Formal Caning wasn't announced to the school, only of course... all the masters. Presumably they would all know by now and she would have to face them with that knowledge – in Assembly and then in each of her classes through the day until... at 4.30...
At least she had no lesson today with Mr Pritchard, her English master. Mr Pritchard of the gold-rimmed spectacles and the tight prim mouth which would utter bone-dry sardonic jokes when he was in the mood. Mr Pritchard who did not like being thwarted by a pupil. Mr Pritchard who had of course set her up for this.
* * *
It was easy to say that she could have agreed to what he wanted: what ever since she turned 16 he had first obliquely alluded to and then later quite openly stated. That he wanted to cane her. The problem for Mr Pritchard was that he wasn't allowed to – because caning girls at St Stephens was supposed to be reserved for the Head and Deputy Head. Girls were of course caned at times by other masters, everyone knew that, but only when the pupil had agreed to take this punishment rather than lines or a detention or something. If she agreed then everyone was prepared to turn a blind eye. But Susan hadn't agreed, and she had continued to refuse adamantly all Mr Pritchard's repeated suggestions. He wasn't the only master: others had also from time to time proposed she take a caning – Mr Fulton for instance several times – but none of them had been so persistent as Mr Pritchard. Or, as it turned out, been prepared to be so ruthless in pursuit of what he wanted.
Susan had been caned once at St Stephens – that was by the Head last winter, when she'd been involved in some larking about when they'd gone to another school to give a gymnastics display. Naturally for that sort of offence it hadn't been the desperate horror of a Formal Caning – just a routine caning, in private in the Head's study. It hadn't been pleasant of course – but as Mr Harrison said, it wasn't meant to be pleasant.
Canings were naturally not something girls liked to discuss, but from what she understood from other girls what had happened was his normal routine. She had had to stand in front of him as he sat sideways at his desk and then had to raise her skirt to her waist while he reached out and inserted his thumbs in the waistband of her knickers and drew them down to mid-thigh. And then he had made her stand with her skirt up around her waist and her knickers lowered while he delivered a stern lecture on proper behaviour. It had been awful – embarrassing and humiliating – but that was all part of the punishment. And when he'd finished lecturing her, she had had to walk – still with her knickers down and holding her skirt up – over to the upright chair he had placed out in front of his desk... and then lower herself over the chair seat, and stretch her arms down to place her palms on the carpet on the other side, quivering with fear.
And then those four bottom-juddering slashes with Mr Harrison's whippy rattan cane. It had stung dreadfully and in addition there had been the awful humiliation of having to expose herself like that. But quite obviously it was nothing compared to what a Formal Headmaster's Caning would be... with all those other masters looking on...
That caning, of course, being from the Headmaster, was official and she'd had no choice in the matter: there was no question of refusing. And another fact was that a caning from the Head or Deputy Head was pretty rare – unless you were up to some devilment all the time – whereas Susan had a pretty good idea that with Mr Pritchard, once you'd let him do it he'd be wanting to do it all the time and it would be difficult to say no then.
So she had steadfastly continued to refuse and perhaps it should have been evident to her that his patience had been running out. His last proposal had been made on Tuesday last week. He had kept her back after the lesson, then started going on about her homework not being up to scratch – though she knew it hadn't been that bad. Those eyes behind the gold-rimmed glasses had stared at her in that unblinking way that always made her feel she was standing nude in front of him. And then, in that prim voice, he had said it again:
'You know what I think is needed, Miss. A touch of the cane on your backside. It would be over and done with in five minutes and I would then be much more favourably disposed towards you. Whereas now... I'm afraid I regard you as a very annoying young lady.'
She had blushed, but stubbornly said, 'No... Please Sir... I'd rather not...'
Mr Pritchard, red-faced in turn, from suppressed anger, had given her a detention and 200 lines. As she turned to go he added, 'Miss Roberts! I should warn you I am not a man who likes to be crossed. You may well come to regret this stubbornness. Do you understand me?'
She had stammered, 'Y... yes... Yes Sir.' – while of course not understanding at all.
* * *
Because who could imagine that a master could be so heartless and cynical, that he could stoop so low, as to do what Mr Pritchard had done? It had been just a few days later – the Wednesday of this week and the window-cleaners had been in the school. Susan had had Mr Pritchard for English just before morning break and at the end of the class he called her to his desk and asked if she would run a small errand. He wanted some books collected from the room behind the gym where for some reason he had left them. Would she be so kind? He had actually smiled and Susan, eager to make up at last for all those No's she usually had to give to what he wanted, smiled brightly, said, 'Of course, Sir!' and went briskly off.
The room in question was not somewhere you were allowed to go during break so it was going to be deserted; and it was except that one of the window-cleaners was there, cleaning the window on the inside. He was a youngish man, in his twenties, and when Susan arrived for the books he immediately started chatting her up. He wasn't doing it in an unpleasant way and she didn't rush off right away with the books but chatted a bit to him, because anyway it was break time.
But then his behaviour changed, coming on a lot more strongly. He put his arm round her waist and as she tried to disengage it he laughingly said he knew all 17-year-old girls (she had said she was 17) were ticklish. He started tickling her and running his hands over her. She tried to push him away but he was very persistent, and seemed to become suddenly very aroused. He was far stronger than her and he got his hands on her breasts and then as she struggled she felt the sudden shock of a hand up her skirt sleeting up her thighs to their apex. She was struggling wildly in reaction to this ardent mauling when suddenly Mr Pritchard was in the room.
The window-cleaner abruptly stopped – and disappeared. Susan, shocked and upset, was left alone with Mr Pritchard who instantly started upbraiding her in hard tight tones for unseemly and disgraceful conduct.
This second shock on top of what had already happened – it was almost too much to take in. And then Mr Pritchard was saying, 'A caning is what you need, Miss!'
Recovering a little, Susan expostulated that she had simply been struggling to get away from the man but Mr Pritchard, in that tight precise voice, said it hadn't been at all like that. He had clearly seen her co-operating in what was taking place, egging the man on. And the only suitable treatment for such immoral conduct on school property was a sound caning.
Sue started crying at the desperate unfairness of what was obviously happening. Mr Pritchard couldn't possibly believe what he was saying, he had to be making it up – simply as an excuse to cane her. Through her tears she obstinately shook her head.
'No... I'm not going to let you...'
His eyes had glinted angrily. 'You'll be sorry, my girl!' he actually shouted. She wept, still severely shaken from the window-cleaner's assault. He took hold of her arms, rattling her. 'Do you understand me, Miss? This time you'll be sorry!' But she continued to shake her head, trembling all over.
And then the next day – Thursday – there had been that summons to the Head's study. She went in... Mr Pritchard seated with the Head, and both of them with very stern expressions. With a nasty feeling in her stomach Susan stood in front of the Head's desk.
'Sir... you... sent for me.'
In icy tones he said, 'Indeed I did, Miss Roberts. I was wondering if you had any explanation for your disgraceful conduct of yesterday morning?'
Hotly she asked, 'What? Sir... I don't understand...'
'Carrying on like a common guttersnipe, Miss Roberts, that's what I mean!' the Head snapped. 'Not only that but on school premises and during the school day.'
Susan stammered that it was all a mistake but the Head blared: 'No mistake, young lady! I have the word of a senior member of my staff who witnessed your shocking misbehaviour. I also have here,' he held up a sheet of paper, 'a signed statement by the person involved, one Kevin Billings, who came on the premises for the purpose of cleaning windows and who states that in Room G7 during morning break he was invited by you to... engage in sexual relations.'
Susan started crying, horrified, mortified and terrified of the consequences of having been set-up by Mr Pritchard. But her sobbing cut no ice with the Headmaster. He said to her coldly, 'You may go now. Meanwhile I shall consider what is to be done about this quite unbelievable behaviour. You will be informed as soon as I have reached a decision.'
And she had been. That brown envelope delivered before the milk the next day – Friday morning.
* * *
She only just caught the bus – either an unconscious reluctance to get there or simply the fact that her mind had been somewhere else entirely. Bob was there as usual... She sat with him and he started chatting... as usual... She felt sick again. Then he asked if she wanted to play tennis after school and automatically she said 'Yes' – then remembered... She stammered that she had to do something for the Head. She hated lying to anyone – especially Bob. But it wasn't really a lie, because Bob didn't pursue the matter and force her to say something definite.
Then the ordeal of Assembly... All the masters on the stage... all looking at her, or so it seemed. She forced herself to stand still, look straight ahead – through the various announcements... then the hymn, opening her mouth but not actually singing...
Her first lesson was French, with Mr Rawlings. He was one of her favourite teachers, a nice friendly man and she thought he especially liked her. But today he seemed to want to pretend she wasn't there. He must have been told that awful story... and she felt herself sweating at the thought. Then next it was Miss Gilbey, Art. Miss Gilbey wouldn't be there of course, only the men teachers would be there in the Head's study... to watch her get caned. But Miss Gilbey probably knew nonetheless...
Last lesson that morning was History – Mr Fulton. Susan didn't like Mr Fulton although he was quite friendly to her. Too friendly, in fact, with a sort of leering attitude. She also didn't really like the fact that he frequently came into the gym with his friend Mr Stanley to watch her practice. There was no real reason why he shouldn't watch of course and perhaps she should be flattered. But she had the feeling that it wasn't the gymnastics they were interested in, so much as looking at her body in the revealing gym outfit, the exercises being just a sexy bonus.
Unlike Mr Rawlings, Mr Fulton seemed to be looking at her almost all the whole time during the lesson and she found this as disconcerting as Mr Rawlings seeming to ignore her. At the end of the lesson he came swiftly over to her desk before she could get out. He started chatting about the lesson subject until the others had left... and then squeezed her arm and said confidentially, 'I understand you've got into a spot of hot water, Susan. Just remember if you've got any problems you can always come and talk to me about them.' She felt herself flushing. Mr Fulton was almost the last person she was likely to confide in. She said, 'OK' and started to move away... but not quickly enough as Mr Fulton's hand left her arm and, darting down, gave her bottom a quick feel. She had half expected that because he had done it once or twice before. She went hotly out... as he called after her, 'Just remember, Susan, any time...'
But Mr Fulton and his unpleasant ways were soon forgotten – at least temporarily – as the time moved inexorably on, and 4.30 loomed closer and closer. It was like one of those Greek Tragedies, an awful fate that could not be avoided – coming steadily nearer and nearer...
At lunch she could hardly eat a thing.
'Slimming, Susan?' laughed her friend Joanna.
Susan raised a wan smile. 'No, it's just... I'm not hungry.'
She excused herself as soon as she possibly could and went out. Usually when she felt tense she would do some gym practice but today she couldn't face even that. She wandered aimlessly... and then suddenly in the corridor outside the Music Room... she almost walked into Mr Pritchard.
He appeared as startled as she was but quickly recovered. His mocking voice: 'Ah, Miss Roberts. Preparing yourself for the ordeal, I expect.'
Her heart started pounding. In a trembling voice she said, 'I... I don't know... how you could do such a thing?'
He looked around, then opened the Music Room door and motioned her inside. It was empty, being lunchtime, and he shut the door behind them, then stood close to her. So close that his hot breath hit her face as he hissed: 'I should warn you, Miss, that it would be most unwise to make foolish accusations. You are in enough trouble already. Do you understand me?'
All Susan understood was that it was some kind of threat and she had ignored the last one with disastrous consequences. Eyes downcast, she mumbled, 'Yes Sir.'
Mockingly again, gormandizing the situation, he asked sharply, 'Are you looking forward to it?' and she felt another surge of panic. The thought of that terrible Formal Caning... She glanced up at him, then immediately averted her eyes. There was only one possible way out.
Susan took a deep breath. 'Please... Sir... If... I let you... do what you want... could you ... see the Head and get the caning cancelled. Please Sir...'
The prim voice said, 'I'm afraid that's just not possible. You have got yourself in this situation and there is no way to avoid it now.' Mr Pritchard hesitated, seemed to think for a moment and then went on, 'Actually... it is possible that the Formal Caning will not be the end of it. I know the Headmaster is taking a particularly serious view of what happened, and is thinking of seeing the Governors. It is quite possible that you could be asked to leave the school. However I could... possibly ... put in a word regarding that. So that the matter would be closed with the Headmaster's Caning. Do I make myself clear?'
Once more a miserable mumbled 'Yes Sir.'
Oh what a pretty girl to have in this position! the Senior English Master was thinking, his head spinning.
'Good!' He looked up at the wall clock. 'There are 25 minutes to the start of afternoon classes. I think we have time for a first little session.' He went to the door. 'Come to my room in five minutes. Miss. Be sharp, please.' He went out.
She felt tears starting. She looked blankly round the now empty Music Room. The Greek Tragedy was unfolding... and she had no option but to accept it...
Five minutes later, as if in a dream, she was knocking at his door. 'Come in!' 'Ah Susan: good.' He closed the door behind her. There was a cane ready on his desk.
'Good!' he said again. 'Yes, I think we've got just time to give you a little taste. Nothing too serious because we don't want to mark you up for later, do we? But just a little start. Right: take your kickers down please. Down to your knees.'
Still as in a dream, standing in front of him, her hands up under her skirt, fumbling... and then her knickers were coming down...
'That's good. Now I usually place a girl over the seat of my chair. However, in your case, as you have been so reluctant and uncooperative, I think perhaps we could have you in what one might term... a more submissive position, don't you think? Yes, I think instead we will use the stool.' He indicated a leather-padded stool almost the height of Susan's hips. 'Bend right over it please and grip the bar on the far side with both hands!'
She gulped, and just stood there. 'Please...' she whispered.
'Come on, Miss!' his voice sharp. 'We haven't all day. Get yourself over the stool!'
As in a dream, with her knickers down round her knees, she moved the few paces to the stool... and knelt on it.
'Now down, please!' The prim voice now with an excited edge. 'Head down, grip the bar at the base!'
Yes, an excited edge, for if it felt like a dream to Susan, to George Pritchard it was likewise something he had dreamt of doing for a considerable time. Dreamt obsessively, and at times, almost continuously. He flipped the kneeling girl's skirt up over her back... and there it was: Susan's bottom, her twin firm swelling buttocks, offered up, bare, beautiful, trembling slightly, with just a glimpse of auburn hair at their confluence with the smoothly rounded, sleekly tapering thighs. He was trembling... the moment had arrived... he had accomplished it. His bold, rather frightening move, bribing that window-cleaner... £20... He took up the cane... Control... not too much... She mustn't be marked up for 4.30. Because anyway there would now be plenty of more times to come...
He raised the cane and after a few seconds' gloating enjoyment of his power he brought it down with a stinging whipping CRACK! across the fullest curve of that upthrust rump. Springy buttock-flesh juddered. Susan gasped. A red line now across the pale smooth flesh.
He waited for a moment, letting the sting develop. Then he raised the cane again... The firm smooth globes beckoning... CRACK! 'Ooohh!' – a gasping yelp this time. And a second red stripe paralleling the first. The injured buttocks squirmed, trembled, burned...
Easy, though, he told himself. Not too much. It was only a couple of hours until 4.30 and it would not really do to have her in there with her backside covered with red stripes. He'd just give her a couple more... stingy but not so that the marks would stay on the flesh...
So Susan got four and then the cane lightly patted her smarting rump and Mr Pritchard was saying, 'I think that will do for now. Get up and pull up your knickers!' She complied, tears in her eyes. 'Good!' he said, 'Now we know where we stand, don't we? That was just a gentle little touching up. To get you tuned up for 4.30.'
He put the cane down and then turned to her again. 'Now, Miss, after you've had the Formal Caning... I should like you this evening to come round to my house. Do you know where it is? 36 Albany Terrace. At 8 o'clock. Then we can have a nice little talk. Right: off you go. You will doubtless want to prepare yourself... for 4.30.'
* * *
4.30. It had come in no time at all. Three lessons in which she'd sat like a zombie, mostly feeling sick – at what had happened at lunchtime, at what was to come – and then at the 4 o'clock end of school going tight-lipped to the gym. To change into her white sleeveless cotton top and the pale green elasticised cotton gym shorts which for twelve months now her mother had been telling her to discard and get a new pair ('They're really so tight it's not decent, Susan'). But she hadn't: she was sort of attached to them – partly because they were the ones she'd worn when she won the County Competition in the Fifth Form. They were tight though and that was what she was thinking when at 4.30 sharp, with the shorts on underneath her skirt, she forced herself to knock on the Head's door.
Inside, a sea of faces. Male faces. It looked like, well, 20 or 30 but could only in fact be the ten men members of staff. All standing around in little groups – twos and threes – where they had obviously been chatting, drinking sherry, discussing what was to come. But now with her entrance they suddenly fell silent. She flushed scarlet, all eyes inevitably on her. Behind her the Deputy Head, Mr Miller, quietly closed the door.
The Headmaster, standing at the other side of his desk where he'd been talking to Mr Rawlings, coughed and glanced at his watch.
'Good. Right on time, Miss, I'm pleased to see,' he said. 'Well, I don't think there is need for any preamble. We all know what we're gathered here for and I expect you'd like to get it over with – as indeed I shall. I never enjoy giving any pupil a Formal Caning, and especially a girl pupil. But... it has been decided that in your case it really is the only option. I take it that you have your gym shorts on under the skirt?'
Susan nodded, feeling herself sweating.
'Good. In that case if you'll just remove your blazer and skirt.' He turned to go to a cupboard. Susan started unbuttoning her blazer. It came off. Then, trembling, her hands went to the waistband of her skirt. Fumblingly she pulled down the zip and then, trying not to look at any one of the faces which were all focussed intently on her, she slid the skirt down and stepped out of it. Gym top, shorts, white knee socks, white plimsolls; she stood cringing in the centre of the room.
'Stand up straight, please!' said the Head crisply. Biting her lip, Susan straightened her posture. Firm, lightly brassiered breasts stretched the tight cotton top – not overly large but each one a lovely little handful, thought Jack Fulton gloatingly. And, beneath, curvaceous contours lower, the brief shorts were skin-tight over swelling hams, and in front equally taut over the rounded bulge of her pubis.
Rather unnecessarily the Head queried, 'No knickers under the shorts, Susan?' It was evident to all that the skin-tight shorts contained nothing except the girl's nubile body.
Susan shook her head.
'Excellent, girl,' the Head said. He placed the cane which he had just taken from the cupboard on the desk.
'Now I'll just explain the rules for a Formal Caning. You will be bent over the top of my desk. In view of the seriousness of the offence your shorts will be taken down and you will be caned on your bare bottom. I shall give you four strokes to start with. Then the Deputy Headmaster will give you four, and then two other members of staff will each give you three. If you have difficulty in maintaining the position I shall call for a master to hold your arms.
'Is all that clear?'
Susan had flushed crimson. She had not known exactly what the Formal Caning involved and there had been the possibility – the desperate hope – that with the Head's note stressing the requirement for tight shorts without knickers, the shorts were going to be retained for the caning. But now the dreadful prospect of being bent bare-bottomed over the desk in front of all these men...
Mr Harrison said, 'Right: let's begin then.' He took her by the arm and led her across to the front of his desk.
Addressing the others he said, 'If you'd all get in a position where you have a clear view of the proceedings but at the same time leave me room to use the cane...'
To the accompaniment of a general shuffling for position his hands went to the girl's waist. Thumbs briskly inserted in the waistband of her shorts, one on either hip, and then without further ado the elasticated shorts unceremoniously skinned down... as far as her knees. For some members of staff there was a brief view of full auburn pubic bush before the girl was pushed firmly down over the desk. And there it was for all to see: the focus of the afternoon's activity. Her bared hindquarters: the two full swelling cheeks and their dividing cleft which started on the dimpled flatness of the small of her back and continued through to where the first slight fatness of the tops of her thighs started – where more of those auburn curls were to be seen.
As ten pairs of eyes stared intently Mr Harrison took the girl's arms and stretched them out across the desk top, making her grip the far edge. The stretched posture caused the short white shirt to pull higher, its hem now barely reaching her slim waist. He continued fussing with her position... precisely placing her feet, causing the full bottom cheeks to wobble slightly... and then one hand sliding lightly over the actual backside... Around the room a certain amount of heavy breathing now, some masters' faces now pink, one or two bright red. And some feet being shuffled where trouser fronts had become sharply though quite forgivably tight. Because even those masters, like Mr Rawlings, who found the whole performance distasteful could not help experiencing the tense excitement.
The Head finally seemed content with the girl's posture. 'Good. Now I want you to hold that position.' He took up the cane... swishing it through the air to loosen his arm... then positioned himself to one side of her. The final bland statement: 'I need not tell you, Miss, that none of us here enjoys this.' A statement of course quite blatantly untrue. But it was a signal that he was now ready.
Testingly the cane tapped across her buttocks, causing them to flinch. One... two... three... horizontal movements of the cane patting the full soft undercurves... the region of her bottom he evidently intended working on. And then suddenly it was happening: the cane drawn sharply out in a full horizontal arc... then back in, gathering pace... in the same plane... to CRACK!... across those soft undercurves, juddering them, momentarily sinking into the yielding sensitive flesh... producing an agonized gasp from the girl... a desperate squirming of her bottom... The first one had been delivered. As the cane was drawn away a bright red stripe remained in its wake.
Susan continued to gasp and wriggle. The Head waited... letting her feel the full effect. Then again he got set... swung the cane out again... and back, accelerating, so that once more it was at its maximum velocity when... CRACK!... it met those softly curving cheeks again. A gasping yelp of anguish this time... more violent writhings of bottom and legs... and one hand breaking away from the desk top to grab desperately at the smarting backside... Then returning when Mr Harrison brought the cane sharply back across the errant hand. Two bright red stripes now: parallel and about an inch apart.
Another pause... until the worst of the agonized writhing had abated... then another firm hard CRACK!... to the same ultra-sensitised area. A sharp scream... The girl's lower body once more into a series of frenzied squirmings... with this time both hands breaking away to clasp the red hot rear. A stern admonition – 'Back in position, Miss!' – reinforced by a sharp, extra cut of the cane across the hands... The position was resumed.
'One more from me then, Miss.' It landed... CRACK!... almost on top of the line of one of the previous three. She yelped again... and again the desperate writhing of the bum, as if to try and shake off the fearsome smart which the cane had left.
Mr Harrison put the cane down, thoughtfully inspected his work, then straightened up. 'Fine. Now if you'd like to take over, Miller.'
Mr Miller stepped forward, took the cane, and in turn, frowning slightly, inspected the girl's rear and the effect of Mr Harrison's caning. He took up position where the Head had stood... and proceeded at once to deliver his own required four strokes. Not to the lower region of her bottom which the Head had worked on, but higher up, across the approximate centre of the cheeks, the cane rising and falling now in an arc of roughly 45 degrees to the horizontal. Each one landed fully as hard as the Head's, with a resounding shot-like CRACK!... to finally produce a second tight bunch of four strokes. Susan was now obviously crying, but the punishment was not of course over.
With the Head and Deputy Head having carried out their part of the proceedings it was now necessary for the former to call for two masters representing the general staff to each give her three strokes. George Pritchard, who had viewed the proceedings thus far with an impassive self-satisfied air from behind those glinting glasses, did not volunteer. He had no wish to appear too desperately keen to get personally involved in something which he had initiated. A more magisterial, righteous air was appropriate... because of course he did not need to feel too desperate now: he at last had the girl where he wanted her.
Instead, not surprisingly, it was Messrs Fulton and Stanley who quickly, in turn, stepped forward to take up the cane. By the time it got to Mr Stanley, Susan was finding it very difficult to keep a grip on the table edge. The Head had a quick word with Mr Rawlings. He stepped forward, took hold of her hands and gently but firmly held her while Mr Stanley completed the ritual Formal Caning.
And finally it was over. Mr Rawlings released Susan's hands, but she just lay stretched over the desk, sobbing and churning. He reached out and gently patted the chestnut head. The Head's voice: 'Right you are, gentlemen. I think that concludes the proceedings. I thank you for your attendance.'
* * *
Afterwards? Well, there was 36 Albany Terrace at 8 o'clock that evening of course. Susan, feeling dreadful, nonetheless went because she had no real option – not after what Mr Pritchard had said at lunchtime. The Formal Caning had been just unspeakable – the actual dreadful caning itself and, perhaps even more, having it in front of all the men teachers. The pain in her poor bottom had slowly abated afterwards but the feeling of abject humiliation remained as strong as ever while she had her tea (in fact just sitting there, hardly eating anything) and then afterwards as she sat upstairs alone in her room. But... there was nothing for it but to go round to Mr Pritchard's at 8 o'clock...
The prim voice again, now smug and gloating. 'Well, my girl: now you see what happens to girls who try to go their own way and refuse to cooperate with a master's wishes.' He led her into his study. 'Right. Let's have a look at you. Take your knickers off and bend over the stool.' A tall stool very similar to the one in his school office was in the centre of the room. 'Head down, fingertips on the carpet... Go on, stretch.'
Susan complied, she simply had to. He flipped up her skirt. The marks of the caning were still discernable on the rounded buttocks: the twin tightly bunched groupings from the Head and the Deputy Head, together with the less precise pattern resulting from the other two masters' efforts. George Pritchard gazed, eyes gleaming... Then his hand came down in a sharp slap across the bare bottom.
'Right. Get up!'
She stood miserably before him, wondering fearfully what was next... but for the moment it was nothing. 'I think you've had enough for one day, Miss. We won't overdo it. But I shall require you to report to me here each Friday evening from now on. We will then discuss the previous week's work and behaviour and I shall mete out whatever punishment I think is necessary – over this stool.'
Then, as an afterthought, he added, 'Oh, there is one other thing, before you go.' His eyes were shiny, boring into her. His voice thickened when he spoke again.
'I think a little extra smartness – an element of formality – would be appropriate for these visits. Therefore you may wear your school uniform or a dress as you think fit. But in addition I should like nylons and a suspender belt. And a smart pair of heeled shoes. Yes. Otherwise... I think that's all...'
Yes, that was 8 o'clock at 36 Albany Terrace. But there was one further thing: another note, addressed to Miss Susan Roberts and delivered again by Mr Bert Davis to 17 Frobisher Avenue, this time on the following Monday morning at 7 am. Another innocent-looking brown envelope which, when opened in the privacy of Susan's room, was again seen to have the School Crest... Headmaster: R.A. Harrison, M.A.... etc. The date was yesterday, 17th May. Numbly she read it:
Dear Miss Roberts,
Further to recent events and the Formal Caning of Friday, I have now discussed this matter with the Chairman of Governors who, I must tell you, was shocked and deeply concerned to hear of your behaviour. He was of the opinion that a single Formal Headmaster's Caning was hardly sufficient punishment for such quite unacceptable behaviour, especially in view of the serious effect it could have on the good name of the School.
I must tell you that the possibility of expulsion was seriously considered but I was able to argue against this in the light of your excellent behaviour in the past and also in view of your coming GCE 'A' Level examinations next year. What was decided therefore was that for the remainder of your school career – i.e. the rest of this term and all of next year – a number of senior masters will be given permission to cane you as and when they see fit. These masters are: Mr Rawlings, Mr Dale, Mr Pritchard, Mr Fulton, Mr Stanley and Mr Peacock.
Accordingly, tomorrow (Monday) you will take this note round to each master in this list and ask him to sign it, and then bring the fully signed note to me at the end of school the same day. I may say however that this arrangement (as with the Formal Caning) does not need to be made public. Thus if you co-operate your parents need not be informed and there is also no need for other members of the School to know anything of this.
Signed: R.A. Harrison, Headmaster.
Susan read the note. Re-read it. Looked blankly, numbly, at the wall. Two tears welled in the corners of those hazel-green eyes... and slowly trickled down the pretty cheeks.
It was all so terribly unfair – when she had done nothing at all wrong, not broken any rules. But at the same time it was all part of growing up and the lessons that have to be learned. One lesson of course was that it is usually better to co-operate with those in positions of authority, even when it does seem unpleasant. And the other, wider, lesson? Well, that life can be unfair. That at times in fact it is very unfair indeed and one just has to accept it.
Yes it was for Susan all part of a very painful lesson. A lesson which for the next three terms and more her tender rear was going to be learning pretty thoroughly.