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Sunday, 10 September 2017

Room 2C

From New Blushes 2.03
‘Room 2C? What’s so marvellous about Room 2C?’
‘Not marvellous, Christina. Oh I wouldn’t say it was marvellous. Would you, Jane?’
Jane made a face, widening the brown eyes beneath her fringe. ‘No, I wouldn’t say marvellous at all. Other words come to mind. For Room 2C and also for what it contains. Not that I have had personal experience. Annette. She’s paid a visit I believe. Ask Annette.’
Blonde, blue-eyed Christina pursed her lips; half convinced that it was all an elaborate leg-pull. She had only arrived here yesterday — halfway through the term. Oakleigh Ladies’ Finishing College, which was in fact a rather grand old country mansion set in largish, pleasant grounds. The subject of Room 2C had somehow come up at lunch today. There had been nervous laughter from one or two others at the table, followed by an awkward silence. So Christina had asked. Now Annette, a little way away, had heard what was said. She went red and snapped, ‘Shut up, you lot.’
Susan didn’t want to let the subject drop. ‘Of course Christina is a very pretty girl. Wouldn’t you say so, Jane?’
Jane widened her eyes again and smiled. ‘Yes she is, isn’t she. Would you say she was Mr Walgrave’s type?
There was more laughter. Christina felt her face flushing. Private jokes were horrible. Was it still something to do with this Room 2C? The talk drifted off to other matters. Boys. Men. This, not surprisingly, was a subject at least as fascinating as that mysterious room.
Mr Walgrave of course was the Senior Tutor, responsible for general discipline etc. Christina had at least learnt that. Also if you wanted a pass out you had to see Mr Walgrave. He seemed like the sort of person to keep on the right side of.
After lunch there was half an hour free. Most of the girls were going to sit outside but Christina, feeling distinctly curious, thought she might have a quick look at this singular room. It would be up on the second floor. There was no prohibition against going up there as far as she knew. Their own bedrooms were on the first floor. The second floor windows were smaller, as so presumably were the rooms. No doubt the servants’ quarters in the old days. Christina went cautiously up the narrower stairs, not too sure now if this was such a good idea after all. She intended to ask Annette what they had been on about and maybe it would have been better to leave it at that. But now she had begun...
She went along the corridor at the top of the stairs. 2A ... 2B... Here. A nervous look up and down the corridor. She tried the door. It was locked. She breathed a sigh almost of relief, glad in a way not to be able to see what was in there. Though it couldn’t be anything really, it was just their joke. She turned away... and there suddenly was Mr Walgrave.
Medium height and balding, a bulky figure, suddenly there. He must have come silently along the corridor, or up the stairs. Keyed up as she was it was a real shock.
‘Hello, young lady. Got lost, have we?’
His voice with a hard edge. Christina shook her head. Her heart was going like a train. ‘No... I…’ Mr Walgrave had come up close.
‘Curiosity then, Christina. Is that it? Idle curiosity?’
She shook her head again, conscious of scarlet cheeks. Mr Walgrave put his face very close. ‘Curiosity killed the cat, Christina. Have you heard that?’
Shaking her head again, like an idiot. This was awful.
‘Have you heard something about that room perhaps, Miss Kingston? Idle gossip from the other girls?’
‘No…’ she gasped. Oh Christ.
Mr Walgrave backed off slightly, his eyes still boring into her. ‘All right. If our new girl is so curious why don’t we satisfy that curiosity. Mmmm?’
He moved to the door, a key in his hand. She wanted to blurt out: No. I don’t want to see. Really. It’s all a mistake. But she just stood there. Trembling like a leaf.
The door was opened. Mr Walgrave taking her arm. She stumbled forward on silly legs that didn’t want to function. It was just an ordinary little room. A small bedroom: a single bed to one side, a wooden dresser. A chair...
‘Here we are then, Christina. This is what you were so desperate to see.’ His hand gave her bottom a quick slap but she only half registered it in her tensed-up state. Then Mr Walgrave gave the chair a push.
It rocked. It was a rocking chair...
‘This is what you wanted to see, no doubt? This is what all that hot, excited chatter was about. Yes?’
The chair rocked to and fro, slowly coming to a halt. Christina watched it, half mesmerised.
‘So, Miss. Would you like a demonstration? A free trial, as one might say?’
She had no idea what he was talking about. But it had to be something to do with what the others had been on about. Something unpleasant? Yes, she felt suddenly sure it was something unpleasant.
‘No... really... I... was only sort of exploring. Trying to get my bearings.’ She forced a smile. ‘I’m sorry if I shouldn’t be up here. I really didn’t know.’
A wide grin from Mr Walgrave. A Cheshire cat grin. A cat savouring a juicy morsel perhaps? ‘All right, my dear. But I really think we will have to have a meeting up here. And quite soon. You really do look like a girl who would benefit.’
Christina didn’t know what to say. Her heart was still thudding away like a mad thing.
‘Are you sure you wouldn’t like a taste now? Free and gratis?’
Christina violently shook her head. Though she had no idea what she was shaking it about.
At first Annette wouldn’t tell her. A point-blank refusal to say anything at all about it. ‘I don’t want to even think about it,’ she said. But Christina persisted. After all Mr Walgrave had more or less threatened her with whatever it was. ‘Please tell me,’ she begged. ‘Come on, it’s the chair, isn’t it? Something about the chair.’
It was the chair, Christina could tell from Annette’s reaction. It was also clearly something pretty awful and she would really rather not know — except for what Mr Walgrave had said. If only she hadn’t gone up there. But that wouldn’t necessarily have saved her. Girls didn’t only get it for nosing around and trying to peek in there. Annette it turned out had got it for something else. ‘A made-up excuse; he just wanted to do it,’ Annette said almost tearfully later.
Because Annette did eventually tell. After continued badgering from Christina. Christina couldn’t believe it. She simply could not believe it. ‘It’s true all right,’ Annette said. ‘You’ll see — if he said what you say he said. He means to do it.’
‘He couldn’t. He can’t.’
Annette said yes he could. ‘You’ll see if you check; it’s in the small print of the form for coming here. Corporal punishment if deemed necessary. Your parents have to sign it.’
Christina couldn’t believe it. She was 19. They were all 19 or 20. And anyway it was so impossible. Her mind refusing to accept what Annette said. Because now she had been persuaded to speak Annette had produced the details.
‘You wear only a tee-shirt. Nothing else. And you kneel on the rocking chair. Bending over the back. Right over. And he makes you stick your bottom right out.’
The thought of it made her want to faint. It couldn’t be true. But it was. Mr Walgrave had her up there at the end of the week. Saturday evening. Matron with a little smirk on her face telling Christina.
‘Mr Walgrave wants to see you in Room 2C. He’ll tell you what for. But I can tell you how he wants you.’
It was how Annette had said. Take everything off and put on a tee-shirt. Nothing else. Matron brought in a hot drink. That little smirk again. ‘Here. This might fortify you. Don’t worry. I’m sure it doesn’t really hurt, having your bottom spanked.’
It was just how Annette had said. Christina did what she was told because there didn’t seem any choice. Who could you complain to, Mr Walgrave was the Senior Tutor, and if that form had been signed... she took off her clothes and put on the tee-shirt that Matron had left. It was impossible to believe this was happening but it was. She tried to drink the drink and felt sick. Mr Walgrave came in, in casual clothes, a sports shirt.
‘OK. Are we ready then? Kneel up on the chair please, young lady.’
It was like a sickening dream. A nightmare. Kneeling up on the rocking chair with her head right down over the back. Mr Walgrave’s hand on her bare bottom.
‘Part your knees, Christina. And get your bottom stuck out more. Come on.’
The chair was rocking. I’m going to be sick, she told herself...

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