Story from Blushes 1
From the window of his office, if he cared to look out of it, Arnold would be able to watch the sedate progress of the Thames as it flowed seawards under the arches of Westminster Bridge. The sun is out, glittering on the water, and a pleasure boat slips down on the tide and swings in a wide arc towards Westminster Pier, butting into the current as it completes the turn and edges in to the landing stage. But Arnold does not care to watch the river this afternoon; he prefers instead to rest his eyes on the full breasts of Miss Bloom, his secretary, as she and her inexpert shorthand try to keep up with Arnold’s dictation. Her pen scratches at her pad, dashes horizontally across it as she crosses something out, and she looks up in time to catch her boss’s eyes on her breasts.
‘Sorry, Mr Dawson — what was that last bit again?’
Arnold sighs theatrically. ‘What I probably said, Miss Bloom, is that you need your bottom smacked, which might encourage you to improve your note-taking.’
Miss Bloom looks suitably chastened, but she knows it’s just a game Mr Dawson plays to amuse himself and to embarrass her. ‘Yes, sir. But what was the bit before that?’
‘Ah — I dare say it was to the effect that you should have your knickers taken down, before having your bottom smacked.’
Miss Bloom’s cheeks pinken dutifully. She knows better than to encourage him in his silliness. She averts her eyes and waits for decorum to re-establish itself, which it does after a moment or two.
‘Um — “The expected percentage increase in the projected budget expenditure levels will have to be borne by the D of E — semi-colon — this department’s involvement will be with the educational aspects only — full stop.” Usual salutations, Miss Bloom.’
‘Yes, sir,’ Miss Bloom, trim and petite, folds her note pad. ‘Will that be all, sir?’
‘Yes, thank you. Let me have it before lunch, will you?’
‘Oh — and Miss Bloom —’ The girl turns back towards the desk, having been on her way out. ‘Ring your boyfriend and tell him you’ll be late meeting him this evening. Five past five, after work, I shall want to find you across your desk, knickers around your knees — you know the form by now, I suppose. Good hiding, that’s what you need, my girl.’
‘Yes sir.’ Miss Bloom turns for the door again, eyes appealing to heaven. He’s getting worse — lucky for them both that she’s got a sense of humour. It never occurs to Miss Bloom that Arnold actually means what he says about spanking her — she just puts it down to eccentricity and an overactive imagination. She shuts the door firmly behind her and puts the old fool’s idiosyncrasies out of her head.
Arnold leans back in his leather armchair and smiles thoughtfully at Miss Bloom’s indulgence of him. He knows that she thinks him a fool, of course, but it’s fun — and in the past the same style of idle banter has provided unexpected rewards. That line about ‘Over your desk at five past five, knickers around your knees’ did once result in a rather distraught seventeen-year-old from Records turning up at the door of his office at half past five one Friday evening to ask whether she’d made a mistake, and was it her desk she was supposed to be across with her knickers down — only if it was, it was going to be a bit embarrassing, what with the people from the security desk downstairs wandering around in the office where she worked, wanting to lock up — or was it his desk she was supposed to be across, in which case she was sorry for being so silly and was she too late now or should she just pull her knickers down? It had never happened since, of course, but Arnold hadn’t quite given up hope that it might, one day.
The girl from Records had been promoted rapidly to Assistant Secretary and had worked late most evenings, but had proven to be far less imaginative than Arnold had given her credit for. Smacked bottoms she had taken in her stride, seeming to think either that Arnold was actually entitled to spank her or that her work was so bad that she deserved to be punished — the latter seemed the most likely in retrospect, as she turned out to be the daughter of a minister of some strange sectarian religion and was imbued with a highly developed sense of guilt which seemed to manifest itself, whenever she did something wrong, in the form of a need to take her pants down and expiate her sins across Arnold’s knees. It had all gone alarmingly wrong, however, when Arnold had sought to trespass upon her naivety further by suggesting that rather than bottom up across the end of his desk, perhaps she should be given her ‘punishment’, on this occasion, up the other way. It had taken her about ten seconds to realise what Arnold meant to do to her, and it had taken Arnold’s salary for three months to persuade her and her parents and several clergymen who materialised from nowhere when the balloon went up, to keep quiet about it. Ah well — water under the bridge.
At this point Arnold suddenly remembers the letter he has had in his pocket ever since this morning, after he scooped it off the doormat a few seconds before his wife got to it. He read it briefly on the train, but it deserved to be savoured in private. He leans forward and presses a button on his intercom.
‘Miss Bloom — I should like to be undisturbed for fifteen minutes, please.’
‘Yes sir,’ comes her distorted voice. Arnold takes the letter from his pocket and puts it on his desk. The envelope is fat and promising. He slips two fingers inside and slides out a folded sheet of paper, which he puts to one side He does the same with a second sheet, this one a photostat copy, and then he tips the envelope and two black and white photographs drop onto his blotter. These he studies intently.
The pictures are both of the same girl. One is a straightforward shot of her face, taken from directly in front. She smiles demurely into the camera. Her hair is short and light in colour, her eyes are wide and innocent. This, presumably, is a photograph taken for the purposes of identification or record-keeping. One would have to describe the girl as pretty. Arnold turns the photograph over. On the back is the annotation ‘Jennifer Quigley, 16 years.’
The reverse of the second photograph is blank, but from the hairstyle and the shape of the face in profile it is clearly the same girl, engaged in what looks to be a netball game. She is dressed in a white sports vest, dark shorts, ankle socks and plimsolls. She seems to be jumping for a ball, although it is not included in the picture; her hair is tossed, her head turned to the right, one hand reaches above her, her shoulders are turned in the direction she is looking but her hips are more or less square-on to the camera. The photo has been taken in strong sunlight, which strikes across the girl’s body from left to right and models the shape of her legs and buttocks distinctly. One would not say she is plump, yet there is a look of plumpness about her hips in particular. Rather than plumpness, perhaps, one might say that it is the beginnings of that innocent maturing a girl evidences in her mid-teens as she slips imperceptibly out of simple girlhood into that far more interesting state that obtains for a few years before she becomes too grown-up for the freshness to stay with her.
Her shorts are typical of those the girls wear for sports at the school designed apparently more for the delectation of the onlooker than to preserve the girls’ modesty. They are cut to angle up from under the buttocks to the outside of the thigh, where a slit of two inches or so gives freedom of movement to strong young legs. In the case of the girl in the photograph, her shorts are pulled closely round her bottom-cheeks by the snugness of the seam that runs up between them, while being a little loose-fitting at the side so that there is a suggestion of bare buttocks peeping fractionally below the line of the shorts.
Arnold studies the shape and fullness and firm, round impudence of the girl’s bottom until he feels that he can almost heft the weight and cup the resilience of those saucy young cheeks in the palm of a hand, warm and alive to the touch.
At length he slips the photographs back into the envelope and unfolds the photostat sheet. It is a copy of an enrolment form that has been filled in on the girl’s behalf. The word ‘uncle’ appears in the box headed, ‘relationship of sponsor to applicant’. Most of the details on the form hold little significance for Arnold; the girl’s home is in Surrey, it would seem. Under ‘Membership of organisations’ is the entry, ‘Girl Guides’; that, presumably, no longer applies. Guides cease to be Guides at sixteen, don’t they? They turn into Rangers, or some such thing. At the bottom of the form is a box printed with the words ‘Parental punishment recommendations’; the whole story is in that oblong space.
There is a note to the sponsor, the person required to fill in the form, to the effect that ‘Corporal punishment, in the form of spankings on the bared buttocks, is the recognised method of discipline at the Institute. Parents/sponsors are required to indicate their approval of this policy by signing in the space provided below. No girl will be enrolled whose sponsor has not completed this section.’
In the space below is the signature of a certain R.E. Quigley. Below this signature is another division of the oblong space, with a second printed note to the sponsor. ‘Experience has indicated that some girls cannot be controlled adequately by spanking alone. It is assumed that sponsors will have an intimate knowledge of the applicant’s personality, and some may consider caning to be more appropriate to their daughter’s/ward’s temperament. Caning is administered by the Headmaster only, on the girl’s bared buttocks. Sponsors are asked to indicate whether they would prefer their daughter/ward to be caned should occasion for such punishment arise.’
There is a space for the sponsor’s preference to be recorded. Mrs. A. Quigley has written: ‘My experience has been that Jennifer is a well-behaved girl who will certainly not require more than the bare minimum of punishment to render her obedient and hard-working. Caning will not be necessary.’ Interestingly, however, this remark has been crossed through and the legend ‘See below’ has been added, together with the signature of Mr R.E. Quigley.
In the last box on the form there is yet another printed note. ‘Sponsors preferring their daughters/wards to be caned should indicate their preference with regard to the maximum number of strokes to be administered on each occasion. The minimum number recommended is four.’ There follows a series of numbers; four, six, eight, ten, twelve: with little boxes beside each for a tick against the appropriate number. There is also a sixth box, and alongside it the note; At the Headmaster’s discretion (up to eighteen strokes).’ Mr Quigley’s tick has been placed in this last box, and his signature has been added for good measure.
Arnold takes out the photographs again and tries to picture that pert and bouncy bottom squirming under eighteen strokes of the cane. He looks at the portrait photograph and tells himself that it would be a pity to cane this wide-eyed and sensitive girl — but intensely exciting nevertheless. He can’t resist another look at her bottom on the other picture, and then he slides the photos and the photostat form back into the envelope. He unfolds the accompanying letter and scans it for references to the girl.
‘— imagine she would be ideal. Her uncle paid us a visit just before the beginning of term, and his motivation is perfectly transparent, despite his discretion. His interest in the girl seems not to extend much beyond what’s inside her knickers, but I should think he is frustrated by the girl’s aunt in his endeavours to find out. Fortunately, it would appear that this lady is actually nothing to do with the girl so far as guardianship is concerned; uncle’s decisions regarding caning and so on cannot therefore be challenged. His reasons would seem to be an amalgam of the usual ones — he wants her to be punished pretty soundly while she’s here, so that at the end of term he can threaten to send her back for another dose at Christmas if she doesn’t get her pants down like a good girl — he hopes she’ll be humiliated by the regime we run here (he pretended to be surprised that girls aren’t ‘stripped stark naked’ for their canings — I dare say I shall be able to accommodate him with regard to that) as a kind of retribution for having resisted him this far — and he ‘hopes he’ll be given the opportunity to witness one of her canings’. Presumably auntie would put the kibosh on any attempts of his own to discipline the girl. Need I say more?’
You need say nothing more at all. Arnold skips through the rest of the letter, making a note that it would be ‘appreciated’ if the grant for the improvement of the swimming pool could be hurried up a little. Arnold decides that he’ll have a word with Blandish — he’s the fellow who deals with grants for independent schools; no point in keeping him waiting any longer than necessary, especially now that he’s got this little sweetheart signed up and delivered by her uncle. He reads the postscript; ‘Have had the girl Jennifer’s pants down a couple of times, and she spanks up very nicely. Shall invent a reason to cane her for when you come down.’
Arnold puts the letter away and presses an intercom button to call Miss Bloom. ‘Miss Bloom — I shall want a reservation at the Station Hotel in Dorchester for tonight.’
‘Yes sir.’ Miss Bloom is feeling a little bitchy after this morning’s teasing at her boss’s hands. ‘Shall I book us a double bed, sir, or would you prefer twins?’
‘A single room, Miss Bloom.’ The intercom clicks off. Miss Bloom blows the machine a raspberry; sometimes that man can be insufferable.
Continued in A Civil Servant Collects from the same magazine.