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Friday, 27 January 2017

Burning Injustice (a.k.a. Pippa Marshall)

Photo-story from Janus 23 in which we meet the sadistic Mr Jardine for the first time.
He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man
Mr Jardine, deputy headmaster, carpets Pippa Marshall of Form VIc for an unusual offence. She was apprehended by a prefect in the dorm last night, having a talcum powder fight with two other girls. The prefect confiscated the baby powder and attempted to report the irregularity to Pippa’s housemistress, Miss Clarke, this morning; however a notice on Miss Clarke’s study door declared her absence for one day and referred all matters temporarily to Mr Jardine.
One might assume a disciplinary procedure to be an anonymous piece of business that could be dealt with equally by one master or another mistress — but this is quite simply untrue. Pippa Marshall enjoys a certain understanding with Miss Clarke, who after all is only seven or eight years older than herself. They like each other, and such a piece of silliness on Pippa’s part would earn her just a pair of faintly raised eyebrows and some good-natured chiding from Miss Clarke, followed in all probability by an invitation to stay for afternoon tea and biscuits. The telling-off wouldn’t even make Pippa’s cheeks smart; nor would it affect Miss Clarke’s intention to make Pippa Marshall up to a full prefect at half term, and House Captain next Michaelmas. Pippa is far and away the most pleasant, sensible and responsible girl of her year in Bolivar House, over which Miss Clarke presides with uncommon humanitarianism.
It is extremely unfortunate for Pippa that her trifling transgression should have been reported on the one day Miss Clarke has absented herself, and that thus she should fall into the clutches of the strictest and most old-fashioned master in the school — the dreaded Mr Jardine, whose position as No.2 in the entire hierarchy imbues him with an ambitious and even vicious determination to outdo No.1 in everything, whilst of course behaving in the most obsequious manner possible to the Headmistress. You probably know the type…
Now it so happens that Mr Jardine has noticed, indeed more than noticed, Pippa Marshall on numerous occasions, for amongst other onerous duties he doubles up as form master of VIc… and his contacts with that class have left him in no doubt whatever that Pippa Marshall is its prettiest and most caneable member. His big problem has been — and let’s face it, he’s thought about it — that barring a miracle there is no way he could hope to punish her himself, for matters of class discipline would have to be reported to her housemistress, the far too lenient Miss Clarke who he personally would choose to fire. But suddenly a miracle has indeed occurred…
We will spare you Mr Jardine’s diatribe against the ‘paramount evils’ of senior girls setting bad examples to juniors, ‘betraying positions of trust’ and ‘acting in a manner more suited to IIIc than VIc’ etc., all of which would no doubt make you feel sick. It certainly has this effect on Pippa. He is being unreasonable, she knows that, and she’s scared by the light of disciplinary ardour that’s making his eyes glow like smouldering coals. She feels physical shock as his low, bantering tone suddenly explodes with a wild decibel surge — ‘And last Tuesday, Pippa Marshall, I saw you drop a piece of litter in the quadrangle. That, alone, merits three strokes!
If the situation from Pippa’s point of view had not been so serious she would have laughed at his ridiculous ‘pause for effect’.
He’s inventing this of course. For some reason which she fails to understand he is victimising her. Butterflies in her stomach give way to chill fingers up her spine and it is a full five seconds before she can answer.
 ‘Litter sir?’ she questions defensively, ‘but I can’t ever remember dropping litter!’
‘I saw you with my own eyes girl,’ he thunders. ‘Are you calling me a liar?’
Her response is quiet, almost timorous, as if she is trying not to upset him even further.
‘But it’s something I would never do sir.’
Knowing Pippa Marshall would convince you that this is true. The girl simply does not lie. She is everything that Miss Clarke is looking for in a future House Captain. Academically brilliant with a natural honesty and dignity, Pippa could rightfully be described as ‘the golden girl of the Lower Sixth’.
By now the smouldering coals of Mr Jardine’s eyes are practically blazing. He is almost raging with righteous indignation.
‘I do not propose to argue with you Marshall. It is your word against mine and I am always right!
Pippa remains silent. She is never called ‘Marshall’, in fact it is school policy for all pupils to be addressed by their forenames. She merely hangs her head to avoid his tyrannical anger.
‘My decision is three strokes and three strokes it shall be!’ he spits at her triumphantly.
The words hit her like bullets. Nobody, but nobody, had been caned for five years or even more. It was a form of punishment which had fallen into disuse with the advent of ‘progressive discipline’. It had been replaced with ‘school welfare duties’ or ‘counselling’ and this at very worst would have meant that Pippa spent most of Saturday marking out the school hockey pitch. The cane is unthinkable.
‘But you can’t cane me sir!’ She is petrified — her innate sense of righteousness causing the involuntary retort. Heart beating, she holds her breath waiting for a further explosion.
He chooses to ignore her, because he is very much in control of the situation which Pippa is unfamiliar with. Suddenly, he is brandishing the large jar of talcum powder in front of her.
‘And this… this talcum powder fight in the dormitory,’ he says, returning to the very reason that brought Pippa before him, ‘is unforgivable. I have already interviewed Fields and Chamberlain and I am left in little doubt that you were the instigator of this pathetic incident.’
It is so unfair. Mandy Chamberlain started the whole silly thing and all Pippa had done was defend herself. He must know that, if he has interviewed Mandy and Pru Fields. Both girls are her best friends and she knows they wouldn’t lie.
Her defence is pointless. Mr Jardine is determined to ignore anything she has to say. He makes great dramatic play of choosing one of the two canes which hang ominously on his sparse notice board. Pippa bites her lip. She is confused and frightened.
 ‘But you can’t cane me sir — it’s not allowed!’
‘Oh but I can cane you Marshall,’ he sneers. ‘School Regulations state quite clearly in sub-section thirteen, that the Head or Deputy Head shall solely determine the necessity for corporal punishment!’
He is obviously right and Pippa’s heart sinks. He would have meticulously checked every word to ensure he was on safe ground. The fact that that particular regulation is no more relevant than a taxi-driver keeping a bale of straw in his cab makes little difference. The regulation exists and Mr Jardine would take full advantage.
As if in slow motion he places a stool in front of the desk and removes his jacket. Pippa bites her lip apprehensively, her eyes riveted to the awesome cane. Waiting.
‘Over the stool!’ he barks, ‘legs straight.’
Slowly and reluctantly Pippa obeys. Even as she bends over it she can’t believe it’s happening, but there is no way out. The stool is hard and unyielding and as she lowers herself Mr Jardine jerks her legs impatiently into position. The air is almost driven from her tummy as all her weight is suddenly pressed down onto the hard wooden seat. She grabs hold of the legs of the stool for support, gasping for air.
For a moment there is nothing but silence ominous and forbidding, and then Pippa is sharply aware of Mr Jardine’s breathing. It is now heavy and more rapid and even seems to accelerate as he lifts the hem of her tunic. It is the only sound in the silent room. Suddenly and before she has time to react, her knickers are pulled quickly down to her knees.
 ‘NO!’ she cries. The embarrassment of him seeing her naked bottom is too humiliating for her natural sense of modesty and she twists up from the hard stool.
‘You can’t sir… you can’t!’ she protests.
‘Get back on that stool this instant!’ he bellows, brandishing the awful cane in front of her eyes.
‘Unless you comply immediately, the Headmistress will be informed of your insolence and insubordination as well as your disruptive influence on your fellow pupils!’
The burning injustice turns her cold with fright. His exaggeration and domineering incisiveness makes the whole thing sound ten times worse than it is. She has no choice at all but to obey.
Once again he straightens her legs and lifts the tunic to expose her bared bottom. Pippa’s heart is pounding and she flinches as he taps the cane lightly across her nakedness. A tiny tear trickles down her flushed cheek. She is rigid with embarrassment and shame.
The first stroke hits her with cutting force, biting viciously into the under-swell of her soft buttocks. The shock waves shoot through her system like bolts of electricity. She gasps silently and agonised. Her body jerks with involuntary response and she grasps at the stool crossbar for support. For a moment the pain is horrendously intense but there is blessed throbbing respite as Mr Jardine steps back to survey her abused bottom.
The waiting is terrible — not knowing when the next stroke will fall; hearing the movement behind her and the laboured rasping breath. Pippa squeezes her eyes tighter as if to still the burning pain. She is breathless and ashamed.
The second stroke is even worse. It strikes home with the full force of Mr Jardine’s powerful arm. Pippa cries out as the cane feels as if it’s cutting into her like a knife. Tears well up in her eyes, but bravely she fights them back, biting her lip in a desperate attempt to transfer the hurt.
This time there is no respite. Almost immediately the third stroke whips into her exposed bottom with even greater force. Her body jumps like a hooked fish and unable to contain the spreading pain, Pippa leaps to her feet, protesting urgently.
‘Stop… stop sir!’ she pleads. ‘It’s just not fair!’
Mr Jardine is unmoved. For the first time his voice is even and calm, almost as if the use of the cane has soothed his tormented nerves.
‘If you are to make anything of your life Marshall,’ he says flatly, ‘you must learn to take your punishment with dignity. Pride and bearing are the riches of human existence to be treasured and coveted. Take your punishment like an adult and accept the inevitable, girl! Now place that stool in front of the desk and we will complete the final three strokes.’
Numbly, and still in a void of confusion and incomprehension, Pippa obeys. She lowers herself over the stool aware only of the sharp needles of pain burning into her tender bottom. Again she waits.
The fourth stroke is at least as hard but by now it doesn’t seem so bad and Pippa takes it well. Her face creases in agony, the pain is only for an instant and, doing her best as always, she even manages to think of the dignity and pride he talked about so pompously. She wants to show him that she is grown-up and responsible. Suddenly it becomes important to her, more important than even the injustice of the caning.
The fifth and sixth strokes fall in quick succession — the only warning is the sharp whistle of the cane slicing the still air. Pippa jumps again and again, the twin lances of pain stinging her sharply and suddenly. Her bottom writhes to escape something which has already gone. Yet the pain still blazes in livid after traces.
Fruitlessly she fends off the nonexistent attack and with great relief she realises that the punishment has finished. For a while she is unable to get to her feet; she needs to collect her thoughts and regain her breath. She lies panting across the stool and the top of the desk, mentally exhausted and physically smarting to hell and gone.
The touch on her bottom is as gentle as it is unexpected, and almost soothing. For a brief instant Pippa is reminded of her father who is the most sensitive person she knows. Perhaps Mr Jardine is human after all… she remains still beneath his hand, not sure whether to stay where she is or struggle to her feet. Finally he lifts her by the arm and she finds herself face to face with his benign calmness. Gently he lifts her chin and looks into her tear-stained face. Her bottom is ablaze with non-stop pain. Her mellifluous snivelling serves to turn him on.
 ‘Now then Pippa, that wasn’t so bad was it?’ His voice is soft and much warmer now, as if the caning is the force that blew out the thunderstorm of his frustration. Addressing her by her first name for the first time is quite an act of tenderness. For the rest of the day he can be guaranteed to be pleasant and convivial.
Pippa, however, will continue to burn… burn with resentment.

We will meet Mr Jardine again in The Return of Mr Jardine in Janus 39.

1 comment:

  1. I like the knickers pulled clear and kept at her knees: frames her target well - he could have added more strokes down the thighs