Sprawled across the desk in the Headmaster's Study, Pauline's direct view of the proceedings in which she and her bottom are playing the central role is somewhat limited. The red leather seat of the chair behind the desk occupies much of the foreground - the imprint of the Headmaster's backside is visible in the slack seat covering - and beyond the chair there is the edge of a carpet of complicated weave, where it stops short of the skirting board to leave a strip of polished planking some two feet wide. Rising up through the floorboard a little to the right of the chair and close to the wall there is a gas-pipe with a brass elbow leading the narrow tube away to an old-fashioned fire, set in the wall. To the left there is a tall bookcase with glass-panelled doors, with one door left half open. If Pauline turns her head to the left and lifts herself up a little she can catch an occasional glimpse of the Headmaster's silhouetted shape in the glass, and she hopes that if she's lucky she might be able to see the cane as he draws it back to give her another stroke. Thus far, Pauline has managed to anticipate none of the nine strokes her upturned bottom has been given, and her nerve is beginning to go. The suspense of waiting for that cane to swish across her bum is making her legs tremble, and her buttocks tweak and twitch at the slightest hint that it's on its way again.
Though she still holds herself a little away from the desk and tries to see what's about to happen to her unfortunate bottom, her eyes are filled with tears and all she can see is a blurred movement in the glass. She squeezes her cheeks together and gasps a breath, but the cane doesn't descend. Her tensed body quivers as she waits for it - two, three, four seconds drag past - she subsides across the desk-top, her crimson-wealed bum-cheeks soften and round out as her knees bend and her legs relax, her pent-up breath escapes her lips as a plaintive sigh, and the cane whips wickedly across the crown of both unsuspecting buttocks.
Pauline's anguished squeal is heard by a gaggle of girls outside in the corridor as they pass by on their way to the refectory for lunch; half a dozen nervous bottoms twitch in sympathy with Pauline's squirming bum and across the quadrangle the caretaker looks up from one of his man-holes towards the study's partly-open window and smiles an appreciative smile. The wretched Pauline reaches behind her and squeezes at her bottom with both hands and gets a rap across her knuckles for her cheek. The Headmaster surreptitiously eases the rigidity in his trousers to a more comfortable position and flicks the tip of his cane across the backs of the girl's thighs.
Pauline's knickers slither an inch nearer to her knees as she snaps her legs straight, and she lies across the desk trembling and gasping and blowing ruefully on the backs of her hands when there is a puff of breath to spare. The cane tap-taps along the chubby under-curve of her buttocks and she stiffens instantly. Her toes dig into the carpet and her bum begins its twitching again. Her back hollows and she clings on to her self-control by telling herself there are only two more to come - only two more strokes - only two.
The sudden jangling of the telephone, a few inches from her right ear, shocks her almost as much as the arrival of the cane across her bottom would have done. She bursts into a fit of sobbing that becomes a series of strangled whines as the backs of her legs get several hard slaps and she is told to keep quiet while the Headmaster answers the phone.
Pauline is too preoccupied with the sting in her bottom and the smart across her thighs to take notice of what is being said, except that it's someone called Basil. Pauline bites her lip to stop her frightened sobs sneaking out, and presses her thighs together and rubs her knees against each other in a little circular motion to distract her attention from the heat in her bottom. Through her confused brain runs the thought that she could have avoided all this; next time her guardian sends her to the potting shed and wants to take her knickers down, she won't be silly enough to threaten to tell 'auntie'; she'll just do as she's told. She'll be a 'good little girl', just so long as he promises not to send her back to this awful place anymore. She hears the receiver being replaced on the telephone and her bum shivers in anticipation of the two more strokes to come.
The last couple of cane-strokes are administered with as much vigour as the others all were, leaving Pauline slumped over the desk awash with tears and gasping for breath between her sobs. Her legs sag from under her and she slides slowly to the floor, hands clutching at her crimson bottom. The Headmaster puts the cane back in the cupboard and assumes his seat behind the desk.
Pauline, who has done all this before, gets to her feet and stumbles over to the corner of the room nearest the window. Her knickers slip down to her ankles on the way but she knows better than to attempt to retrieve them. She hides her face behind her hands and cries as quietly as she can, gulping deep breaths in an effort to regain her composure.
The Headmaster leans back in his chair and contemplates the entirely satisfactory state – from his point of view, of course – of the girl's bottom; cane weals curve round the lower parts of each chubby bum-cheek, none of them having gone much astray despite the wriggly-ness of those young buttocks at various stages of the caning he has just given them. A rather attractive pink flush extends down the backs of her thighs where he slapped them when the phone rang; gratuitous exploitation of the girl, of course, but isn't that partly what girls like Chapman are for, he muses.
While the Headmaster slips into a chauvinistic reverie whilst contemplating the girl's punished bum, Pauline stops crying and, greatly daring, risks a peep over her shoulder in mute supplication. She'd like to be told to pull her knickers up and get back to her class; standing around half-naked in the Head's study is asking for trouble. The Headmaster raises an eyebrow at her forwardness but lets the slip pass uncommented. He tells her to tidy herself up and run along. Pauline retrieves her pants from her ankles and finds her skirt, then comes to stand in front of the desk.
'Feel like giggling now, Chapman?'
'No more than you feel like sitting down, I dare say. Hmm?'
'No – well buzz off then, and send in Markham.'
'Yes sir. Th-thank you sir.'
'My pleasure Chapman.'
Pauline makes her exit, and a space of ten seconds intervenes before a timid tap on the door heralds the arrival of the next on the list.
'Excuse me sir – Amanda Markham.'
'Come in, Markham.'
In due course Markham's knickers part company with her bottom and she, like Chapman before her, learns to sing a new verse to the same old school song.