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Tuesday, 11 September 2018

A Quixotic Gesture

A story by Christopher James from Janus 58
Mary Jane Teesdale attended St Anne’s School, an old-fashioned grammar school that had become a private co-educational. Since she lived near to the school she was allowed to go home for dinner during the midday break. At seventeen she was a lively, pretty girl, who promised to develop into a real beauty; a happy girl, who made friends easily. She had inherited her grandmother’s colouring: very black, indeed blue-black hair, as lustrous as wax-polished wood; and dark, flashing eyes. Her grandmother had been French Algerian, and Mary Jane also had her figure, a trifle plump for her age, which promised early maturity.
St Anne’s was a top class school, with a stiff entrance examination and a reputation for strict, traditional discipline. The Headmaster, Ronald Briggs, M.A., knew all his pupils well, and most of their parents. Although recognised as a disciplinarian, he was popular and highly respected in the area, a man dedicated to his profession.
Mrs Teesdale was herself a very handsome woman, with an almost perfect figure. She was a widow, but her husband had left her enough, which, together with a regular part-time job, enabled her to give her only child, whom she loved very dearly, a good education.
She was accustomed to her ebullient daughter’s bouncing through the back door each day with a shout of ‘Hello, Mum, what’s for dinner?’ Therefore she was perturbed one day when the girl came into the kitchen, walking slowly, unusually silent and subdued. She mumbled a constrained ‘Hello, Mum,’ pecked at her food and said she was not hungry.
When, in some concern, her mother asked if something was wrong, she merely shook her head, left most of her dinner and went upstairs, mumbling to Mrs Teesdale’s amazement that she was going to take a shower. That was something unheard-of at midday. After a few moments’ thought the woman went up to her daughter’s bedroom and found her taking clean underwear from her small chest of drawers. Also lying upon the bed was her school skirt. This, too, was significant because, being in the sixth form, the girl was free to wear anything she pleased, which was customarily the tight jeans that were the contemporary ‘second uniform’.
‘Darling,’ Mrs Teesdale said, ‘what is it? What’s the matter?’
‘Why should anything be the matter?’
‘Well, you’re not yourself. Right off your dinner, a change of underwear and a shower. And a skirt. There’s something wrong at school, isn’t there?’
To Mrs Teesdale’s consternation, her dearly loved daughter’s beautiful dark eyes suddenly filled with tears. Seating herself on the bed she pulled Mary Jane down beside her. ‘Now, darling, what is it? What’s worrying you?’
‘Oh, Mum, I’m scared. I don’t want to go to school this afternoon.’
Her mother sighed. ‘I see. You’ve got yourself into trouble. But even if you didn’t go back today you’ll have to go tomorrow, and the trouble won’t go away. What is it all about?
‘Oh, Mummy… I did something terribly stupid. I…’
The worried woman gave her shoulders a squeeze. ‘Go on, dear. Tell Mum.’
‘Well, I… I’m too ashamed. And frightened. I have to be punished.’
‘Oh. How?’
‘Mary Jane! At your age!’
‘Age makes no difference. Not at St Anne’s. I’d still get it if I were 18.’
‘Well, is it so terrible? You’ve been caned before.’
‘Yes, but not like this.’ She added fervently: ‘I wish you’d never signed to agree with corporal punishment.’
‘Your father and I signed because we approved of it. The cane doesn’t do you any harm. There’s no need to be ashamed about it, either. I suppose Miss Harwood is going to do it?’ Miss Harwood was the Deputy Principal, who customarily dealt with girls should it come to corporal punishment, which was seldom anyway especially with senior pupils.
‘No. It — it’s Mr Briggs. I have to report to him at two o’clock.’
Mrs Teesdale raised her carefully trimmed eyebrows. ‘Mr Briggs? Surely he doesn’t cane girls?’
‘It’s quite rare. He only does it for something serious. When a boy or girl has to be caned… well, on the behind. Bare.’
‘What? Nonsense! He wouldn’t!’
‘It’s true.’
‘The Headmaster canes girls on the bare bottom?’
‘Yes, but as I said, it’s rare. Only for something very serious. Oh, gosh, it’ll be horribly mortifying! Oh, Mum, I dread it!’
Her mother was troubled. ‘I don’t think Mr Briggs should do that!’
‘He does it because he thinks that only he should take the responsibility.’
‘Just what is he going to do?’
‘I have to get six strokes. Uncovered.’
What!’ Mrs Teesdale stared at her daughter incredulously. ‘Six? On the bare! Mary Jane, I don’t believe it. Either you’re not telling me the truth —’
‘But I am!
‘I’m sure you’re making a mistake.’ Mary Jane shook her head. A big tear oozed over each eyelid.
‘But why? What on earth have you done to be punished in that manner? Is it to do with… sex?’ Her daughter shook her head. ‘Well, what?’
Mary Jane only blushed and looked down.
The woman stared at her, frowning. ‘If you won’t tell me what this is all about… Anyway, whatever it is, six strokes seems pretty harsh. I shall come to school with you and have a word with Mr Briggs.’
At five-to-two Mrs Teesdale and her daughter were in Mr Briggs’ outer office where his secretary, Miss Lansdown, a blonde good-looking woman in her thirties, glanced at them seriously over her typewriter. Knowing what was to happen, she was surprised to see Mrs Teesdale for most pupils were far too embarrassed to tell their parents when they were caned.
‘I’ll tell Mr Briggs you’re here, Mrs Teesdale.’
‘Please tell him I’d like to have a word with him alone.’
Mrs Teesdale had met Mr Briggs upon several occasions and she both liked and respected him. He was a tall, fair, strongly-built man of about 40, quite handsome, with a pronounced air of authority and learning. He was less surprised than his secretary to see the wayward young lady’s parent, although he had hoped that Mary Jane would have been too ashamed to say anything about it.
‘Good afternoon, Mrs Teesdale,’ he said urbanely. ‘You wanted to see me about this very unfortunate affair?’
‘The poor girl is terrified. Is it true that you are proposing to give her six strokes of the cane? On her seat? Bare?
‘I am sincerely sorry, Mrs Teesdale. But this chastisement has a rather special significance.’
She won’t tell me what the trouble is. But whatever it is I don’t feel that… well, that this is right. Not a girl of her age. I and my late husband thought that if girls had to be caned it was customary for it to be administered by Miss Harwood.’
‘Normally, yes. But there are times — rare, I might say — when I feel that it should be done with the boy or girl uncovered. In such cases I make a point of doing it myself. And please don’t misunderstand me. The sole reason is that I think it only fair that I myself should take the responsibility. And for the sake of my own reputation, where a girl is concerned I make a point of having Miss Harwood present.’
Mrs Teesdale said hesitantly, ‘I suppose… as her Headmaster — with a woman present — it isn’t actually immoral. Even so, it does seem to me to be rather excessive. What on earth has she done to deserve such a beating?’
‘Mary Jane tried to steal a Mars bar from the local sweet shop.’
‘Good God! A thrashing like this for stealing a bar of chocolate? Mr Briggs, this is quite unreasonable. Flagrantly unfair!’
‘I hope you do not think I would be so unjust, Mrs Teesdale. This matter is not simple. There are problems. The shop has practically become the school tuckshop. Mr Brand, the proprietor, is worried because he has been losing a good deal of his stock — there’s little doubt that pupils from this school have been pilfering. And your daughter has been caught twice before. There is also another reason. Mr Brand reported it to me each time. The first time I gave her a severe telling-off, and detention for two evenings running.’
‘I remember that. She told me it was because she hadn’t been working well.’
‘I am afraid that was an untruth. The second time, she was caned.’
‘I didn’t know.’
‘It was inflicted by Miss Harwood — two strokes on the hand and two over her knickers. But I was angry. I warned Mary Jane that if it ever happened again it would mean a thorough caning on the bare bottom from me. Well, it has happened again. And you know as well as I do, Mrs Teesdale, that with young people it is essential to keep one’s word. How could I have any authority if I did not adhere to that principle?’
‘I agree with that. As a principle. But, really, six does seem excessive, on the bare behind.’
‘Mr Brand was extremely annoyed. He talked of prosecution. I am sure none of us would want that. So I promised him that this time I would be very severe.’
‘But suppose you changed your mind, Mr Briggs? It’s too late now for Mr Brand to make it a police case.’
‘I must keep my promise. Both to Mr Brand and your daughter. You may forbid it, of course. But the alternative would be expulsion. I cannot keep a pupil who is a thief, without suitable punishment.’
‘But that would ruin her career. And she worked terribly hard for her O-levels.’
‘I know. I should be sorry to lose her. But the Comprehensive would take her. It is a good school. You could say you are withdrawing her from St Anne’s because you can no longer afford the fees.’
Mrs Teesdale was dismayed. Her daughter’s position at the Comprehensive, after St Anne’s, would be unenviable.
‘Believe me, Mrs Teesdale, this would be the best way. Leave it in my hands. It will be distressing while it lasts but it will be over within two minutes. No fuss, no scandal.’
‘I suppose so. But it is unfair because there’s a… well, a possible reason. You see… oh, dear! Well, I have a confession to make. I once gave way to a sudden impulse and I’ve been ashamed of it ever since. I did the same thing myself. I stole a bottle of expensive perfume and I wasn’t caught. Please, I don’t want you to think I am a habitual shoplifter. That is the only time such a thing ever happened and it has always been on my conscience. It was just a pity that my daughter was with me and saw that I got away with it.’
‘Indeed.’ Mr Briggs stroked his chin. ‘It was certainly an unfortunate example. It is conceivable that it might have something to do with Mary Jane’s actions.’
‘Then don’t you agree that it would be rather unfair to be… well, quite so severe?’
‘Hmm. But there is still my promise to Mr Brand.’
‘But if you could just reduce the punishment? Four strokes, perhaps? Uncovered, since that is what you insist upon. I would not be opposed to that. Surely that would be severe enough?’
‘I can understand your appeal Mrs Teesdale. It is only human to give way to temptation once. But remember, this was your daughter’s third attempt. And I gave her a distinct warning.’
‘Stupid girl! I am not trying to excuse her. If you were not going to do it I would give her a good hiding myself! But the fact remains that she did have my example. A very shameful example. I have blamed myself ever since.’
‘Yes.’ He paused, exhaling deeply. ‘I agree that what you have told me does seem to make it a shade unfair. Your having been unpunished, and your daughter’s imitation of your own criminal behaviour.’
‘Sometimes I almost wish I had been. Anyway, sir, you do see why I have come here to plead on her behalf?’
‘Indeed I do. But she must still pay the penalty for her misbehaviour.’
Suddenly, almost like a blinding flash, Mrs Teesdale had an idea. An impossible, quite outrageous idea — but she would do almost anything to save Mary Jane even a little pain.
‘Mr Briggs, I have a suggestion to make. How would it be… I mean…’ She paused in some confusion. It was terribly embarrassing. But she continued: ‘Suppose I offered to take some of the punishment for her…’
What! My dear lady, you are not serious.’
‘I am, sir. My girl would know about it, and — and I believe it would have a powerful effect on her.’
The man was flabbergasted. His immediate reaction was one of sheer incredulity; did he understand her rightly? She couldn’t be serious! Such an idea was too preposterous for words. Never in his professional career had he heard of such a thing. The mere idea was incredible!
‘Do I understand you correctly, Madam? You — you can’t mean that I should — should cane you?’
‘Is it so impossible? It would affect Mary Jane profoundly, I’m certain. It would also appease my own conscience. You might call it expiation for my own offence.’
He pondered. Was it so impossible? It was her suggestion and the prospect was very attractive. ‘Don’t you think you are getting a little old for this sort of thing?’
‘I am 35. But I don’t see why my age should be an insuperable objection. Grown, mature women were whipped in the past.’
‘In medieval times. I hardly know what to say. Do you want such a punishment?
‘Of course I don’t want it. There is no — er, nothing… well, kinky about this. Frankly the mere thought scares me stiff! But if it would help my daughter… I really do think it would…’ Mrs Teesdale’s cheeks were now bright pink.
‘Normally, I would never dream of such a thing. I am a respectable man, with a reputation to lose. But… I really don’t know…’
‘It’s a very startling suggestion, certainly,’ the single parent said quietly. ‘But I am quite healthy, heart and so on. And my daughter loves me as I do her.’
‘Mrs Teesdale, I’ll be frank. You must understand — well, to do any good to Mary Jane, any punishment I might give you would have to be extremely severe. This would not be in any way a symbolic chastisement.’
‘I… y-yes, sir.’ This grown-up lady almost sounded like one of his pupils. And she was beginning to feel like one, too.
‘So far as your daughter is concerned I cannot simply overlook this, for reasons I have already explained. But I would let her off with four strokes if you would agree to submit to the punishment I had intended for her. Six strokes. There is one other thing. Such chastisement — for you — would have to be… well, in the same manner as she is getting it. You understand me?’ He paused. ‘This is a very delicate matter, but you need have no qualms… I mean, as you yourself said, there is nothing immoral.’
Mrs Teesdale felt herself flushing again, and now the flush seemed to extend over her whole body. Six strokes of the cane on her bare bottom! At 35! Had it been such a ludicrous proposition? A quixotic gesture? She was horribly frightened. But it would be over quickly. And it would save her precious girl two strokes. After all, she supposed, four, bare-bottomed, would not be unreasonable. It had to be admitted that the girl deserved a walloping of some sort! And she was convinced that Mary Jane would be so shocked at her mother receiving an even greater punishment that it would probably bring to an end all her desires to err.
Moreover, there had been that unfortunate lapse of her own past life…
Anyway, the suggestion had been made. It was too late now to change her mind. And it would help Mary Jane. But — six strokes… bare… how could she ever take it?
‘You are sure about this, Mrs Teesdale?’
Now was the moment to change her mind. She nodded, her lips firmly together. She was unhappy and frightened but she was now determined. It would be painful and humiliating — degrading —but she hoped it would help to straighten out her beloved, but very naughty, daughter. But — not in front of Mary Jane.
‘Certainly not. But she must be able to hear everything, otherwise it would be pointless. And it has to be very severe.’
She gulped. ‘Y-yes, sir. I understand.’
‘If it is to do any good it has to be rather harrowing for her. Also, for the sake of her modesty, I think you should not be present while I am dealing with her.’
She tried to smile but her lips seemed wooden. ‘Of course. She would hate me to see her being punished.’ She hesitated. ‘Please, Mr Briggs, forgive me for mentioning this. About myself. This will be the first time since I lost my husband two years ago that any man has seen me undressed. You — you won’t touch me… you know what I mean…’
‘You need have absolutely no fear of that, madam,’ the Headmaster said coldly, and Mrs Teesdale at once regretted that she had mentioned this. She wondered, flushing, if it had sounded almost like a veiled invitation.
‘I’m s-s-sorry, sir,’ she stuttered.
Mr Briggs visibly relaxed. ‘I wish you to regard me as you might a doctor,’ he said. ‘There is no disgrace. I honour you for this. Miss Lansdown can be present, if you wish.’
‘No, Mr Briggs, I know I can trust you. And you may trust me.’
‘As you wish. And now we’ll break the news to Mary Jane. Then we’ll get your little affair over first.’
Miss Lansdown hung a DO NOT DISTURB sign upon the outer office door, which she locked. Mary Jane was very pale and near to tears. She gasped when her Headmaster explained the arrangement. ‘Oh, Mum, no! This is awful! You needn’t. I don’t mind taking six whacks. I’d made up my mind to it, anyway.’
‘You will find four quite enough, young lady.’
‘But, sir — double that, for my Mother!’
‘That is for your benefit, my girl. You must understand what a sacrifice she is making. You may find it as bad as if you were getting it yourself. At least, that is the object.’
Opening his cupboard, he produced something that Mrs Teesdale had never even seen before: a rusty-yellow rattan cane with the end curved into a handle. Mother and daughter watched fearfully as he flexed it, testing its pliancy, that suppleness which causes the excruciating sting. It was nearly three feet in length, and ⅜-inch thick. He rapped it sharply, ominously, against his large palm.
‘Now, Mary Jane, please go and wait with Miss Lansdown.’
‘Yes, sir.’ The girl, under no misapprehension about the cane, was badly frightened both because of her mother and for herself. With a look at her mother that was both pathetic and appealing, she said: ‘Oh, Mummy, I’m so sorry. If I’d thought this would happen I’d never have told you anything.’
‘Darling, it’s perfectly all right. I am quite willing to take it.’ She spoke a little sadly. ‘My own sin has caught up with me. You remember that little episode of the perfume? Retribution has overtaken me at last.’
Mr Briggs closed the door; he felt it undesirable for Miss Lansdown and his pupil to hear the preliminaries. ‘Now, Mrs Teesdale.’ He spoke urbanely, impersonally. ‘You know how I want you.’
‘Y-yes, sir. The — my — my bottom —uncovered.’
‘You must accept the immodesty as part of your punishment.’ He pulled a low table into the middle of the room. ‘I want you to lie bent over across this table. I will turn my back until you are ready and in position.’ He turned to stare out of the window.
With a heavy heart, feeling sick with shame and trepidation and on the point of tears, Mrs Teesdale peeled down her tights and briefs and stepped out of them. She hoisted her skirts, turning them above her waist, then with a scared glance at the man who, with both hands behind his back, was still bending that horrid, menacing cane, she lay across the low table with her naked bottom protruding. And then… strangely… she suddenly felt that she did not mind exposing this so private part of her body before this man. At least, with her back towards him. But she was terrified. She had never been caned or spanked in her life. She knew this was going to be agonising.
It was a nightmarish situation. She, a staid widow of 35, to be lying with her backside bared for a caning! Yet at the same time, she was aware of other, very different sensations. There was a strongly lascivious temptation; despite her admonitory words to Mr Briggs, she believed she would not object if this authoritarian, quite attractive man intended to make love to her instead of beating her. It was too long since she had had a man.
Quietly, she said that she was ready.
Mr Briggs opened the communicating door in order that her daughter should hear everything. There would probably be tears and cries, and the crack of the cane would certainly be clearly heard. She felt goose-pimply and her buttocks twitched. God! she thought. This was really appalling.
The man would not have been human had he not felt some stirring of eroticism as he gazed down at that sinuous waist and the bold, full curves of hips and thighs; those beautiful, plumply-rounded nates, the graceful contours of legs and calves; the cleft was always deliciously mysterious and enticing, no matter how often one saw it. As a teacher he knew that, anthropologically, the gluteal muscles had evolved over countless millions of years in order enable homo to stand and walk upright — but that was only half the story. Those glorious globes were powerfully erotogenous, they were beautiful… sheer poetry…
However, he kept such feelings strictly to himself, to such an extent that any concupiscent desire was not physically apparent. He was professional and dispassionate; this was purely punishment and that was how it had always been upon the few occasions when he had felt it necessary to chastise one of his girls. It had to be so.
The wretched woman flinched as she felt the cold hardness of the cane being positioned across the middle of her waiting cheeks…
THWACK! The cane bent pliantly as it struck. For the barest fraction of time she felt nothing; then, with a terrible suddenness, a stabbing anguish such as she had never imagined. It hurt not only her buttocks but seemed to penetrate to the very middle of her being, catching at her breath so that she could only gasp. She felt she could never, never take another five like that!
THWACK! A squealing cry was wrenched through set teeth. The pain was absolutely intolerable. And the shock of the sensation to her system was beyond assimilation. Tears formed in her eyes. This was worse than anything she had anticipated, but for her daughter’s sake she was determined to take this bravely…
Mr Briggs had placed the first stroke nicely across the middle of the tensed area. The next, seeming even harder, was parallel, just above the pink that was flowing into the first white marks. With an enormous effort of will Mrs Teesdale had tried to force herself to endure the second wicked, slashing stroke in silence, but without avail. Her body was writhing over the low table. This was impossible, unbearable…
THWACK! — ‘Oooh-owww!’ A wailing cry as the sting scorched deeply. God Almighty, she couldn’t take any more! Streaming tears were dripping on to the carpet. By now the pink of the first set of tramlines was deepening into red weals.
A large, rolled handkerchief was thrust into her hand. ‘Put this between your teeth, Mrs Teesdale. Grip the table legs and keep still,’ her relentless punisher ordered, ‘and remember why you are taking this: She clung to the thought that she was saving her beloved daughter from some suffering for which she herself was partly responsible.
Then — THWACK! The fourth stroke. She bit upon the handkerchief as the tormenting agony burned through her. It was intolerable, quite indescribable. She had endeavoured not to scream, but she could not suppress a shrill cry, not much muffled by the handkerchief, followed by the dreadful sound of a grown woman’s bitter weeping; and she kicked up, displaying glimpses of feminine charms.
The Headmaster raised his right hand high above his shoulder, tightened his grip on the cane and then, with expert precision, using the full force of his arm, brought the rattan whistling down to impact with a loud crack across a hitherto unmarked section of both full, womanly buttocks.
Mrs Teesdale let out a piercing screech and the sodden handkerchief fell out of her mouth. Her knuckles were white as she grasped the table legs, but with the pain from the five strokes she had received ferociously tormenting her bottom, she could not keep it still. Tears were forming a visible patch on the carpet. Mr Briggs was feeling genuinely sorry for his victim — but he had to be remorseless.
‘The last,’ he said. ‘Just one more sting and it’s over.’ THWACK! This time she shrieked as the merciless rod curved, slashing exactly into the little crease of flesh where the white cheeks swelled outwards from squirming thighs. Her buttocks undulated vigorously for some ten seconds after the stroke fell.
Groaning and whimpering, she then pressed her hips hard against the table edge, unable, for the moment, to move. That so delightful derriere was inflamed and swollen into thick, ugly ridged weals. Oh my goodness, Mr Briggs thought, staring down with forbidden salacity at the rounded, scorched target moons above the now carelessly parted legs. She was superlative!
Mary Jane was stricken and aghast, her cheeks white. Those cries and that last dreadful scream were almost unendurable. Her mother had wept after the death of her father, but never had the girl heard such raucous, bitter crying. With her own limited experiences she had not realised just what a grim, harsh affair a caning could be. What if that theft of perfume had lain heavily upon Mum’s conscience — the ordeal she had undergone had been for her, Mary Jane’s sake. All because of a bloody bar of chocolate! She was dreading her own punishment. Four strokes on the bare bum! Never again!
Miss Lansdown, sympathetically gripping Mary Jane’s hands, knew that this had undoubtedly served as an efficacious part of the daughter’s punishment. She was acutely curious to see how this unfortunate girl would take her own caning.
‘Stay where you are, Mrs Teesdale,’ Mr Briggs said. ‘Miss Lansdown has some cream that will help to ease the sting.’ He called his secretary in from the outer office and Miss Lansdown closed the door behind her, leaving Mary Jane alone.
So far as Mrs Teesdale was concerned this affair was a sort of atrociously painful fantasy. How could she have dreamed when her daughter had come home, so worried at lunchtime, that she herself would shortly be lying across a table in Mr Briggs’ study while his secretary very gently smeared cold, soothing cream over the ugly, swollen, purpling weals after a severe caning on her bare backside?
‘There, there, dear,’ Miss Lansdown said, ‘the worst of the pain will soon die down, but the weals will be painful for a little while. And you’ll have the marks for weeks, I’m afraid.’
Mrs Teesdale walked stiffly, clutching her scorching hindquarters through her dress, still sobbing quietly. Her eyes were reddened and swollen, her face wet and sticky and smudged black from her eyelids. She smiled wanly at her daughter’s pale, drawn face. Mr Briggs suggested that Miss Lansdown should take her to wash her face, then to the staff room and make a pot of tea; also to request Miss Harwood’s presence in the study. He wanted Mum well away from the office.
Properly dressed, face washed, eyes bathed with a healing witch hazel solution, Mrs Teesdale was feeling a little better. She was drinking tea standing up with Miss Lansdown in the large staff common room; she was still feeling a sharp soreness when she moved but it was easing. She was also feeling a shade bemused. Even though it had been her own suggestion it still seemed impossible. Unbelievable. Yet it had happened.
‘This is absolutely insane, Miss Lansdown,’ she muttered. ‘Do you think I’m crazy?’
‘Definitely not, dear. I think you were marvellous. Most awfully brave. I only hope Mary Jane will appreciate it. It certainly gave her an awful shock.
Mr Briggs said sternly: ‘Your mother has borne that for your sake, Mary Jane. You should be very, very grateful. As for you, my girl, four strokes. You’ll learn not to go pilfering in shops.’
‘Oh, sir, I’ve learned that! Please, sir, must I be caned? Please, oh please, let me off. I’ll never steal again. Never, I swear it!’ The words came in a rush, spontaneously; even as she spoke she realised how cowardly she sounded. But, she thought, she was a coward.
‘I am sure you will not. But what did I warn you after that last such incident?’
‘A — a severe caning if it happened again. On m-my bare bottom, sir.’
‘Because of your mother’s very brave action it is not going to be quite so severe.’ He paused, looking reflectively at the wretched culprit. ‘You did very well with your O-levels, Mary Jane. The school may well be proud of you yet. But I will not have St Anne’s brought into disrepute. I will not tolerate such behaviour. Do you understand me?’
‘Y-yes, sir.’
‘I’m sorry, this is going to be embarrassing for you.’ He motioned to Miss Harwood.
‘Now, Mary Jane,’ that formidable lady ordered, ‘get your knickers down to your knees, turn your skirt right up, and lie across this table.’
Within a minute the girl was lying across the low table with her blouse around her spine, and an alluring sight she presented. The air seemed oddly cool upon her unaccustomed rear. This was the first time she had been caned without any covering. Unlike her mother, although she was terrified of the extra pain she expected from a bare bottom caning, the girl also felt shame at having to present her naked buttocks to her Headmaster.
Mr Briggs and Miss Harwood were quite dispassionate. The former was proceeding in a leisurely fashion. It was a strange thought that a little earlier he had had Mrs Teesdale’s mature, very well-rounded buttocks curved over before him, and now he had her daughter’s pert, teenaged bottom in that same submissive posture. Despite her 17 tender years her form was truly nubile, yet to him she was just one of his pupils. He was convinced of the efficacy of corporal punishment if only because there was nothing to replace it. Detention was not really satisfactory and he regarded suspension as legalised truancy. Since he believed in it he believed in doing it properly.
Mr Briggs raised the cane, and poised it. There was an appalling, heart-stopping pause. Then the limber, yellowish-brown rod swished with the weight of his powerful shoulders behind it, slashing viciously across the underside of Mary Jane’s passively waiting, firm-fleshed rump. The girl’s breath was expelled in a choking gasp and her whole body jerked. She had no illusions of stoicism. She was being hurt and she did not care if the entire school heard her…
The second stroke savaged her senses. She squealed loudly and her hands flew behind her, clawing at the indescribable burning sting bisecting her shapely bottom. Miss Harwood pulled her hands forward and held her arms, pinning her to the table.
Try not to think about it, Mary Jane desperately told herself, it will be over in seconds. But even as the thought went through her mind the cane whipped down, its trajectory terminating in a sharp crack. She yelped shrilly as it bit violently into her soft, tender skin and again the surge of agony jerked her body under Miss Harwood’s strong grip.
Another stroke squarely across the apex of her writhing bottom. She yelled unrestrainedly and then lay weeping with quick, short, indrawn sobs. Tears were dripping on to the same damp patch as her mother’s had dripped. Everything was blotted from her senses, she was aware of nothing except the awful, searing anguish…
‘Come, come, girl, all this fuss,’ chided Miss Harwood gently. ‘Anyone would think you had never had your bottom caned.’
‘Perhaps that cream, Miss Harwood,’ Mr Briggs said.
Mary Jane suddenly felt intensely grateful to her mother; had it not been for her sacrifice there would have been a further two strokes to endure. The Headmaster also was genuinely relieved that it was over. Such screaming from a girl who had no intention of trying to be brave, was gruelling; he was thankful that her mother was not in the outer office. Miss Harwood, with almost maternal gentleness, spread upon the girl’s wealed posterior some of the analgesic cream that Miss Lansdown had used upon the parent. Its coldness helped a little, but those vicious, raised weals still stung acutely, their pain stabbing with a vengeance at every movement.
Decently clad again, Mary Jane was sent to wash her face and bathe her eyes. ‘You will find your mother in the staff room,’ Mr Briggs said, ‘and you may have the remainder of the afternoon off.’
‘Th-thank you, sir.’
The Headmaster hoped sincerely that the shock of such condign punishment would have its effect, not only upon Mary Jane but upon the rest of the school; he could rely upon the recipient to spread the news throughout the school, without mentioning what had happened to her mother. A Head’s caning was a rarity, something very serious, definitely something to be avoided. It was undoubtedly an unparalleled deterrent. Yes, Mr Briggs knew his school.
Pondering about the mother, he hoped that she would not think him excessively cruel; also that she would regard what had happened dispassionately, even while knowing that she could never do that. What had occurred would be burned into the memories of both mother and daughter — and the thrashing of Mrs Teesdale would certainly remain burned into his. She was an attractive woman, with a very fine figure… a very desirable woman under different circumstances.
Four months later Mary Jane’s Headmaster became her stepfather.