The first in a series of stories about a rather unorthodox educational establishment. From Blushes 22.
It is a hot afternoon, late in July; on a wooden bench beside a village green, two elderly women in short-sleeved summer dresses while away the time by speculating on the likelihood of the bus being late, as usual. These two figures aside, there is little sign of life elsewhere in this Sussex village, save for a bakery van parked outside the single shop opposite the bus stop. It might almost be a Sunday; in fact it is Monday, and the two gossiping women are on a shopping trip to busy, bustling Brighton.
At last the bus swings into view round a bend in the lane. The women gather up their shopping bags and get to their feet; the bus stops with a weary hiss and sits shuddering at the stop whilst the women clamber aboard. A ‘ding’ of the bell, and the bus grumbles away down the winding road.
Half a mile out of the village, the bus passes the gated entrance to a driveway; it growls past the closed gates, leaving a thin haze of exhaust smoke to drift lazily in the still air. Beside a brick pillar, a sign-board hides amongst the leaves of a rhododendron bush, part obscured and indistinctly lettered: Green Gables — Private Educational Establishment for Girls.
A hundred yards up the curving drive, Green Gables, a substantial house, sits out of sight of the lane, surrounded by neat lawns and colourful flower beds. The clatter of a motor mower disturbs the quiet; a white-haired man, in overalls despite the warmth of the day, follows ploddingly behind his puttering machine, cutting carefully along the edge of a path which runs beside the house then swings away around a small stand of coniferous trees. The gardener guides his mower carefully, concentrating on his work, and passes a head-high screen of holly beyond the trees without so much as a sideways glance. The sound of the mower fades away, still following the path.
From behind the thick holly hedge comes the sound of a splash, then a man’s voice:
‘Better, better. Now let’s try again!’
Beside an oblong swimming pool lies a pale blue towel and a pair of white sandals. The pool’s surround is dry, except at a point half-way along one side; there, a considerable puddle spreads across the cement paving, with wet footprints breaking away from the wetted area. A blonde head bobs up from the water and a girl hauls herself partway out of the pool, gasps a few breaths, then clambers up onto the side. From the middle of the pool a bald-headed man wades armpit-deep towards the girl, who gets to her feet and hurriedly yanks a pair of white cotton knickers back into place around her hips. Knickers apart, she is quite naked; small round breasts point erect little nipples in a vaguely upward direction, and sunlight sparkles on her firm young body and on her pretty, pouty-lipped face.
‘Come on, says the man, let’s do it again.’
The girl brushes droplets from her cheeks and her fingers clutch at the elastic of the water-logged knickers, tugging them navel-high at the front and, in the doing, pulling them tight into the cleft of her plump buttocks behind. She pinches her nose, and with puffed-out cheeks and squeezed-shut eyes she steps off the pool’s edge into the shimmering water.
A flat, stingy-sounding splash and a spreading cauldron of bubbles, and then she is spluttering on the surface, head held high, away from the water, dog-paddling desperately towards the security of the side.
The man is there to help her; ‘Well done!’ he says, as she clings, gasping, to the poolside. ‘Well done indeed! Come on now — one more time, eh?’ The girl spreads her arms exhaustedly along the edge of the pool and hoists herself half out of the water; her wet knickers lag behind as, for a moment, she flounders on her tummy, legs kicking and feet splashing and her bare bum-cheeks glistening in the sunshine.
‘No slacking now!’ chuckles the man, though his laugh is rather deliberate; he slaps the naked buttocks lightly, pretending playfulness, and then contrives to catch a finger in the gusset of the girl’s knickers as she struggles clear of the water. The sopping knickers snag momentarily at ankle level but then each foot in turn slips free. The girl squeals in sudden panic as she feels her last vestige of clothing slide over her feet and into the water; she stoops sharply from the side to recover her pants, but with a little surreptitious help from the man they sink beneath the surface. ‘Don’t worry about them, there’s no-one to see you. Come on, one more time!’
The girl stands up, looking bewildered and near to tears. She hides her pubic hair behind her hands but the man in the pool has other ideas.
‘This time let’s see if you can do it without holding your nose, eh? Think you can?’
The girl shakes her head, but the man is insistent.
‘Come on — no holding your nose. Hands above your head so there’s no cheating!’
With a resentful pout and with the utmost reluctance, one hesitant hand and then the other is raised above her head; the man in the pool looks nowhere but at the wet-glistening swell of her pubic mound as he says, ‘Right — go!’ and the girl has to shut her eyes and jump again into the pool.
At the front of the big house, sunshine pours through tall windows into a small, office-equipped room. Drawing-pinned to a wood-panelled wall is a calendar, headed, Markson & Co., Educational Suppliers, which displays the information that this is the month of August. A slide-along transparent marker picks out the date 2nd, a Tuesday; the Monday preceding this Tuesday is annotated with the red-pencilled words, Term Starts.
At his desk in this sun-dappled room, a man of mature years leafs through a small stack of papers — correspondence requiring answer. He extracts a two-page letter to which there is clipped a photograph of a pretty blonde-haired girl. The man smiles, perhaps wistfully, but then he shakes his head slowly and an expression of vague regret passes across his countenance.
It is a pity; most certainly it is a pity, but discretion has dictated the reply he has already made over the telephone, and which he must now confirm, out of politeness, by letter, though without missing the opportunity to encourage a fresh application at a later date.
He glances at the information on the form attached, then once more at the photograph of the girl; again the wistful smile, but next year it will have to be — he looks at the date of birth one last time — no, not even then; it will have to be the year after that. He takes up his pen and makes a note on the letter, which he then puts to one side. A second item of correspondence is receiving his attention when the telephone on his desk jangles irritably.
‘Yes?’ There is a call for him; will he take it? ‘Alright — put him through.’ The caller is a Mr Wisden, not a parent but a guardian, and not unknown to the man at the desk.
‘Hello, Mr Wisden — what can I do for you?’ A few nods, then; ‘Oh, she’s fine. Settling in well — Eh? Er — well, if you’ll just give me a moment —’ Inside a folder is a chart; a pudgy finger checks down the columns.
‘Not quite familiar with the timetable yet — ah, here it is — I see she’s with Mr Abbot, one of our P.E. staff. I seem to recall that she’s a non-swimmer, isn’t she? Yes, well I dare say Mr Abbot will be going through the basics with her, down at the pool. Hmm? Oh yes, a fine teacher, first class sportsman —’ the folder is closed and slid away.
The sound of a motor mower approaching outside the window interrupts the conversation after a few more sentences.
‘Could you hold on a minute?’ The window is opened and the words, ‘Can’t you do that somewhere else!’ are called out, but the gardener doesn’t hear. In his own good time he finishes filling his pipe then lets in the clutch and plods away behind his mower, puffing tobacco smoke into the still summer air.
Back at the telephone; ‘Sorry about that — yes, as I say, young Rachel is probably down at the pool — we do like every one of our girls to learn to swim just as soon as possible, you know —’ A short, one-sided silence is then broken by, ‘Ah — no, not so far, Harry. Yes, I’ll let you know. Of course — I’ll see to it that you’re kept informed should she provide me with the excuse. Yes — yes, I know your views.’ A second silence, while an interruption is dealt with at the other end and the man at the desk, his mind now centred by his caller’s enquiry upon the thought of young female bottoms squirming frantically at the instigation of cane or castigatory palm, remembers the name of Harry’s other ward. The receiver crackles back to life.
‘No, that’s alright. By the way, how’s Linda doing at university? Has she? Silly girl. Well, she’s not too old for us to have her back here for a week or two. Hmm? Oh — well that’s a shame. That’s education for you, eh?’ Linda has ‘grown up ideas’ now, apparently, and is unlikely to be taking her knickers down in his study on any future occasion. Well, never mind — ‘I’ll keep you up to date then Harry. Yes — bye’. The telephone is pushed to the back of the desk and the Principal glances uninterestedly at the remaining pile of correspondence. He puts the top on his pen and decides to go and pester his secretary for a cup of coffee.
He steps out of his office; a moment later he is back, casting about as if in search of something forgotten. He finds it at last, beside the telephone, a folder containing a sheaf of invoices. The topmost invoice is made out to a Mr Abbot, and includes such items as: ‘Accommodation: one single room in the annexe.’ ‘Full board, dietary requirements as requested’ and ‘Teaching facilities’, all for a period of one week, starting this very day, which is the first day of the summer holiday term. The total amount of the invoice is in excess of a thousand pounds, with ‘teaching facilities’ making up a major part of that sum.
By the time the gardener has finished edging the lawns at the front of the house, then crossed the path and trimmed the opposite edge all the way back to the holly hedge, Mr Wisden’s younger ward has indeed begun to learn some of the ‘basics’ from her enthusiastic ‘instructor’.
From a chest-deep position in the pool some three feet from the side, Mr Abbot is in the perfect place to supervise his pupil’s first hesitant attempts at learning breast-stroke. Whilst she lies on her tummy across the pool’s edge, with her feet in the water and her round little tits pressed against the warm cement flagstones, her teacher stands at her feet and ensures that she understands the need to give a good, strong, double-legged kick, before drawing her feet up and then spreading her legs wide, wide, wide ready for another good, powerful kick.
‘Come along Rachel wide apart now — wide apart!’ Rachel’s wet thighs part reluctantly, with timid little shudders as she makes herself do it, but only just.
‘Get them really wide apart now, Rachel — you can do better than that, I’m sure you can —’ Rachel can, despite wanting very much not to have to, and with much blushing of cheeks and with the hint of a humiliated tear, she does indeed manage to spread her thighs wide enough to earn a word of encouragement from Mr Abbot.
‘Good girl, Rachel — good girl! Now hold them there — that’s it — keep them nice and wide apart —’ Her soft-lipped secret is slightly open, coral pink inside, while she ‘holds it there’, trembly-legged, and Mr Abbot gazes with a lascivious expression at the puffy-lipped little treasure snuggling at the apex of her spread-eagled thighs.
‘Good girl, Rachel,’ he says under his breath, and keeps her like that for twenty seconds or more while her blonde head sinks slowly onto her hands and her legs shiver suddenly as a muted sob breaks from her pretty lips. A second sob, then a miserable sniffle, then it’s, ‘Now then, a really strong kick —’ The splash leaves droplets sparkling on Mr Abbot’s bald head; ‘Legs up again — that’s it — and now wide apart Rachel — really wide girl —’ With a humiliated whimper Rachel makes her legs stretch apart again. ‘Hold it there — hold it —’
Rachel’s abandoned knickers have at last resurfaced and they float lazily towards, and finally into, the outlet pipe on the other side of the pool, with a discreet little slurp. The girl struggles bravely on, spread-eagled across the pool’s edge, and the sound of the mower retreats once more into the warm summer distance.
Up at the house, the Principal’s youthful secretary has provided coffee and biscuits, has blushfully ignored a rather intimately-phrased hint from her employer, to do with the inadvisability of regarding smacked bottoms as being a thing of the past just because she works here now, instead of being one of the girls, and she has typed names on a number of business-like brown envelopes and put the invoices into them.
For a minute or two she sits at her new desk in the familiar-from-other-times secretary’s office, staring at the name on one of the envelopes; Mr Farell.
She dislikes Mr Farell intensely; she remembers with the hot flush of humiliated anger, the two summers she spent here before she went to university. And to think that all along she’d been stupid enough to imagine that Mr Farell really was an academic down from Oxford, giving up his summer recess to help out his old college friend the Principal! Again she blushes at the recollection of how he would single her out for ‘special tuition’ — and she naive enough to believe it — when all the time he was really a solicitor, and a dirty-minded one at that!
She looks at the timetable pasted to her desk; ‘Fingers’ Farell is ‘teaching’ at this very minute. The girl’s eyes flash and her cheeks pinken still more; on a sudden impulse she takes the invoice from her out tray and departs the office with a toss of her hair.
She walks purposefully along a corridor toward a room at the end of the west wing; she knows, although this is only her first week here, that she is not supposed to interrupt lessons, but she relishes the embarrassment she hopes to cause him when she barges into his room, since she absolutely knows he’ll be up to something! Her sharp-sounding heels stab echoes from the polished boards as she rounds the angle of the corridor; the brass door handle rattles as she strides in on the unsuspecting Mr Farell.
‘Can I help you, my dear?’ Mr Farell glances up from behind the large desk at the front of the room. The room’s only other occupant, startled by the new arrival’s precipitate entrance, sits in the central row of desks in the body of the classroom and darts uncertain glances from her teacher to the pink-cheeked girl and back again, her eyes wide with nervous apprehension of she knows-not-what. Mr Farell, it would seem, is up to nothing, particularly, at that precise moment, at least nothing that reveals itself at first glance.
Her hair tossing and her breasts bobbing to the strut of her determined step, the young secretary deposits the envelope containing Mr Farell’s invoice on his desk with a muted ‘plop’ when she had meant it to be a loud slap, then with a venomous, hot-cheeked glare masking her disappointment, she turns on her heel and marches out, her round bottom in its tight skirt wagging an insulting farewell before she slams the door behind her.
The girl’s swift, agitated footsteps click along the corridor and skip some steps, fading away without slackening their pace; the classroom is left in brittle silence.
Mr Farell’s eyebrows slide up his forehead, perhaps in shocked surprise or possibly in amazement that the frosted glass has not parted company with the door frame. His eyes above his spectacles swivel to the girl at the desk; she gulps audibly and lowers her eyes, pen in hand. Mr Farell glares at the top of the girl’s head, then he gathers about him the academic gown which he affects and rises from his chair.
His soft shoes squeak across the floor and out of the door, leaving his solitary pupil with the instruction to ‘Get on with your work — I shall be back shortly.’ ‘Yes sir,’ says the girl, her voice a whisper, and her pen scratches across her exercise book.
Out in the grounds, the motor mower’s busy whirr has ceased. Instead, the depressing clank of a hammer on something solid sounds flatly from beyond a clump of bushes, as the gardener tries to bully the stalled machine back to life. A series of wheezy putterings ensue, then stop, a silence weighty with finality. The gardener appears from behind the bushes, pushing the recalcitrant mower, and he trudges up the path beside the pool, the heavy roller grating on the asphalt. He stops and tinkers with the carburettor for a moment, wondering if he might find the trouble there.
An exasperated ‘Sod it!’ terminates this attempt to determine the cause of the problem, and the trundling of the roller continues up the pathway. Behind the hedge, Rachel’s lesson is proceeding still.
From the place halfway along the pool where Mr Abbot had been teaching the girl the rudiments of breast-stroke, the lesson has been transferred to the shallow end, where the water comes only to mid-thigh rather than chest-high as it did before. The sign on the white painted gate which leads to the pool says ‘closed’, just in case, but Mr Abbot knows that no-one will be coming down to the pool until the end of lessons at four-thirty.
Rachel is still across the side of the pool, on her tummy, but now a folded towel has been placed under her hips, which makes her hollow her back and elevate her bottom a little. Her legs are no longer stretched wide; they droop down into the water and are parted only enough to accommodate the width of Mr Abbot’s sturdy thighs. A swirl of water eddies around Mr Abbot’s legs, and there is an occasional ‘plop’ and ‘splash’ when Rachel’s feet break the surface as she kicks helplessly at a particularly firm thrust. She holds her head up, with a bewildered, disbelieving expression on her pretty face, and protesting little bleats escape her lips from time to time.
Mr Abbot would appear to be taking little notice of Rachel’s half-hearted complaints; he has made her fold her arms together behind her back and he has both hands under her hips. His fat belly overhangs Rachel’s firm young buttocks and occasionally the two come together with a soft ‘plutt!’ to counterpoint the girl’s gasps and the gurgle of water. His efforts slow gradually and become luxuriously long drawn out; Rachel squirms mutinously, her eyes wide, but she is not allowed to escape...
In the sun-dappled office with the calendar on the wall, wide-eyed and crimson-cheeked, the Principal’s nineteen-year-old secretary is in much the same position, in several ways, as the sixteen-year-old down at the pool. Like Rachel, she is bottom up and bare-bummed, squirmy-hipped and bewildered by the course of events. Her knickers are tangled together with her tights at knee-level, and one shoe has come unstrapped from the vigour of her struggles across the front of her employer’s desk. That gentleman stands behind her and to one side, a whippy little cane in his hand and a self-indulgent smile on his face as he taps the girl’s shivery buttocks and waits for her bottom to elevate itself properly as she has been taught to do when she is being caned. Mr Farell stands on the opposite side of the desk and watches the tears roll down the girl’s cheeks; he too has a smile on his face, which might, in his case, be called triumphant. For a moment the girl’s eyes meet his. Her lips part and she whispers a sobbing ‘P-please —’, but Mr Farell’s mobile eyebrows raise themselves and, as if in response to this cue, the cane swooshes down again across the plump and trembly buttocks...In the lane beyond the wrought-iron gates, the bus from Brighton growls round a bend and descends toward the village. Two elderly women are still chatting; they gather up their shopping bags and give the long curving drive not so much as a glance as the bus passes by.