‘Mr Walker… I expect you’d like to be in charge of entertainment again this year.’ The Head of Marston Comprehensive smiled egregiously. He was a man well into his fifties, with a double chin. This annual Christmas shindig was something that simply had to be gone through. It bored him excruciatingly and the details were best left to younger, keener members of the staff.
The assistant master addressed tried not to look too pleased. He, on the contrary, much enjoyed amateur dramatics even if they were only on a school level. ‘Well, thank you, Head… I’ll do my best,’ he said.
The Head cleared his throat. ‘There’s just one point I’d like to make, Mr Walker,’ he said, ‘and I make it because of what I’ve heard from parents. It is the general opinion — and mine, I must say — that we have been trying to go too ‘way out’ in recent years. Last year it was The Caucasian Chalk Circle, if I remember right.’
‘That’s correct, Head. Rather well done, I thought.’ This year, Maurice Walker was already considering doing an adaptation of one of Chekhov’s plays. What about The Cherry Orchard?
‘Maybe — a matter of opinion. The point is, Mr Walker, most parents, and children, I think, want something more traditional at this time of year. I propose we put on a performance of Cinderella.’
There was a stunned silence in the Staff Room. Maurice Walker’s jaw dropped. ‘C-Cinderella?’ he almost croaked.
‘That’s right, Mr Walker.’ The Head closed the file before him with a snap, indicating the matter was settled. ‘You know the story I suppose?’ Two fleshy chins wobbled as he chuckled. Then he turned and strode from the room.
Maurice Walker buried his head in his hands. ‘Cinderella,’ he groaned. ‘You’d do well as the pumpkin, you old bastard.’
A young student teacher seated alongside him, put her hand on his shoulder. ‘Oh come on, Maurice,’ she said, ‘it’s only a bit of fun, after all. Tell you what, I’ll help with the costumes.’
‘Thanks, Elsa,’ he said unenthusiastically. So much for trying to add a touch of intellectualism to a fast-declining state education system!
Six weeks later, Maurice Walker, pseudo-cultured Arts Master at Marston Comprehensive, had changed his mind. Cinderella had turned out to be fun after all. Not on account of the Ugly Sisters, nor of Cinderella herself, but because Penny Milton was playing Principal Boy. Yes… bright-eyed, brown-haired Penny of the Sixth… just 17 years old and never been… well, Maurice did not allow his mind to dwell further on that.
Maurice had always thought the girl pretty enough. In a sexy kind of way, too. But it was not until she first appeared in the costume Elsa Turner had designed and made for her that the girl really took his interest by storm.
As was traditional (it was what the Head wanted, wasn’t it?) Cinderella wore a chaste, long skirt. Charming, however, was the shortest, flared skirt imaginable and a tight-fitting jerkin. Add to that a pair of high-heeled, calf-length boots and one can see why Maurice Walker was so captivated. Penny Milton had slim, long limbs and, seated as he was in the pit during rehearsals, Maurice could see right up them. Right up to the tight-fitting pair of green briefs she wore. Everything she wore was green. Jaunty cap, jerkin, skirt, boots… and briefs. If Elsa had considered the idea of tights, she certainly hadn’t pursued it. Penny’s legs were bare from the tops of her boots right up… and up.
In even a drab school uniform, Penny Milton looked rather sexy, now she looked a positive sex-bomb. Did Elsa know what she was doing? Perhaps, at only just 17, she still thought of Penny as a child, so didn’t imagine the display was titillating to such an extent. Would parents approve? Maurice had a shrewd conjecture that most of the dads would. Unless it’s only me, he thought rather guiltily. A dirty old man before my time.
In any event, he went to work on the production with enthusiasm. He even contrived to introduce a dancing scene in which all the chorus wore black leotards. Another plus for the dads, he said to himself. He was beginning to see why the traditional was usually preferred to the avant garde.
Perhaps, thought Maurice with a sudden surge of excitement, the girl might appreciate a little private tuition. Some help with her lines. After all, her elocution was not all that good. He would certainly have to give that his sincere consideration.
‘He’s looking up my legs all the time, the dirty old sod!’
Cinderella (alias Linda Lee) giggled. ‘He’s not all that old,’ she said.
‘Must be 35 if he’s a day. Almost old enough to be my dad anyway,’ stated the Principal Boy.
‘Lots of girls marry men yonks older than themselves these days. Fancy him then, do you?’
Penny’s cheeks went a bit pink. ‘What you talking about marriage for?’
‘I ain’t. Just think you fancy him a bit though.’
‘I am not,’ corrected Penny primly. She paused and ran a delicate white hand through her brown hair. ‘So what if I do?’
‘Don’t mind him looking up your legs at your knickers then?’
Penny went pinker. ‘I didn’t say that, did I?’ She was half angry, half flattered. Just beginning to realise the power that young sex could wield.
‘He looks quite macho.’ It was a word that Penny had just learnt. She didn’t quite understand what it implied but, at that moment, thought it was what she was looking for in the opposite sex. The pimply youths who had made passes at her to date certainly weren’t macho, for sure!
‘Why don’t you ask him to give you a little private coaching?’ snickered Cinderella.
‘Maybe I will!’ flashed back the Principal Boy. Then, pinker than ever, she stomped her way out of the changing room in which they had been loitering.
‘Er… excuse me, sir. May I have a word?’
‘Certainly, Penny.’ Maurice felt smugly satisfied at the girl’s approach but, at the same time, could not deny the added pump of adrenalin.
‘It… it’s that… I’m a little bit worried about my part, sir. About my delivery. I’m not sure I’m doing it right…’
‘You’re doing fine, Penny,’ assured Maurice with genuine enthusiasm — then suddenly realised that the gods must be on his side. The adrenalin flowed faster. ‘Can you be more specific, Penny?’
The girl’s head lowered. How sweet she looked in that stupid school outfit of white blouse and blue pinafore. Vulnerable was a better word, he decided. Very different, though, when she strutted the stage in those high-heeled boots and the miniest of mini-skirts! ‘I thought, maybe, if you could… could… well, spare the time… you could give me some private coaching, sir. You’re so experienced. Being an Art Master and all that, I mean.’
Maurice found his heart suddenly pounding. This was exactly what he had wanted, yet had not had the nerve to propose. He took a firm grip on himself, striving to control his surging emotions. Did this youngster realise the implications of what she had just said? Somehow, he thought she did — which only increased the pounding of his heart. ‘I…I’ll have to think about it, Penny. It’s wrong to pick favourites in a school this size.’
Two bright brown eyes looked at him with sorrowful innocence. ‘Is it, sir?’ The young voice was soft in invitation.
Maurice Walker thrust his hands deep into his trouser pockets. A man had to make decisions, he told himself. ‘Alright then, Penny,’ he said in a teacher-like tone, ‘perhaps I can help. We do want to make a success of this show, after all. Come to the changing rooms after school hours tomorrow… and we’ll see what can be done.’
‘The… ch-changing rooms?’
‘Yes, Penny,’ he nodded. ‘I think it best if you wore your costume. It will create the right atmosphere, I think.’
Again those light brown eyes were upon him, but now a shade more mellow. Was there not possibly a look of wickedness in them? And of triumph, too? Maurice thrust any such thoughts aside. After all the girl was 17 years old. And only just, at that.
‘Alright then, sir,’ A little shuffle of the feet. ‘It’s just a pity you haven’t got your own room. Like the Head.’
‘We’ll manage Penny,’ assured Maurice. At the same time, he was beginning to wonder exactly how they would.
‘Do you mean the girls’ changing rooms or the boys’ sir?’ asked the girl.
There was only a brief pause. ‘The girls’’ replied Maurice. Then there was the trace of an impish smile and she was gone.
He stood there, sweating a little; his palms, under his armpits. Now what have I done, he asked himself? Suborning one of my own pupils! A wry smile came to his lips. Maybe she is suborning me. Anyway, what the hell! You only live once…
He sat on the hard bench, feeling rather foolish. She wouldn’t come now, he said to himself; must have been leading him on. Another glance at his watch. He’d been there quarter of an hour. Even as he stood to leave in frustration he heard the junter-junter of a swing door in use. Then, in moments, she was standing before him.
‘Sorry I’m a bit late, sir. Mum made me have my tea before I left.’
‘That… that’s alright, Penny.’ His relief was such that he would have forgiven her anything. The desire to crush her in his arms was incredible. He must be mad. ‘Just carry on…’
‘You want me to change into my costume?’
‘I think it best, Penny.’
‘My locker’s round here, sir.’ Disbelieving still, sweating again, Maurice followed the young figure through a passageway of benches and lockers. Here and there were scattered items of schoolgirl attire. So intimate. He strove unsuccessfully to avert his eyes. They came to a corner. ‘It’s here, sir.’
Maurice sat down on one of the narrow benches. What should he say, what should he do? Wasn’t he risking his career? To hell with that; there was always Life Insurance. ‘Do you… I mean… it doesn’t matter if I stay, does it? After all… I’m kind of your… your coach now.’ How lame I sound, he thought.
There was very little light but, again, as she smiled, he felt there was a touch of triumph there. ‘It doesn’t matter,’ she said. ‘After all, I’m only a schoolgirl and you’re a grown man.’
Maurice felt pins and needles at his nerve-ends as the girl took out a key and opened her metal locker.
Slowly, but certainly not professionally, she took off all her clothes. First the blue pinafore, then the white blouse. Then the bra and then the navy-blue knickers. White socks and shoes followed. She seemed unconcerned, but that could not be true, he realised. She simply had self-control, plus confidence. He wished he had had half as much at her age. Even at that moment! Naked she stood there, brown of bush, small but firm of breasts, but not provocatively. Rather, one would say, simply. She did not look at him but he sensed her awareness. Not a word was passed.
Then out from the locker came her costume.
First she put on the green, calf-length boots. Was that deliberate? For she certainly displayed herself uninhibitedly as she bent and twisted. Maurice experienced the inevitable stirrings and did nothing (as if he could!) to check them. The tight green briefs were pulled up as high as high. My God, how sexy she looked like that! Just high-heeled boots and tiny knickers. Even the bra was green. Finally the green jerkin and short green skirt covered her more modestly. She smiled at him sweetly, seemingly quite unperturbed. ‘Nice, isn’t it?’ she said.
‘Yes…’ His voice was a shade thick. She was obviously referring to the costume; he was thinking other things.
‘There’s a small room which leads off here,’ she said. ‘Generally for storage. We use it for impromptu rehearsals.’ She turned and left, not asking him to follow. Just expecting it. Maurice did so most happily. A hard-backed chair was set before a make-shift dais. He seated himself and the girl went up. Once again he had that titillating upward view of her long legs and those tight cutting briefs. She was clearly outlined. Maurice swallowed hard; he knew he was too far gone to turn back now. Moreover he was aware that the youngster was positively and deliberately seducing him.
Well, they started young these days…
For some twenty minutes or so they went through a charade, he with a script in his hand, she delivering some of her lines and even singing one of her three numbers. His head in a whirl, Maurice made comments and suggestions from time to time. Did they make any sense? Did that matter anymore?
Several times he went up on to the dais to alter a particular posture or gesture. He would touch a bare arm, put a hand over a slim waist, feel the warmth and softness of her, catch the young female scent of her. In that brief span he became besotted with the girl. She knew. Her eyes gleamed with mischievous wickedness.
‘Let’s take a break,’ he suggested finally. He seated himself as she came down from the dais. Then, politely, he stood up. ‘You must be more tired than I am,’ he said.
‘Oh no, that’s alright, you have the seat.’
Maurice sat down again then, to his surprise and delight the girl came across and sat gently on one of his thighs, a hand going on to his shoulder. ‘I’ll perch here,’ she smiled. ‘Not much weight, am I?’
‘Light as a feather,’ he almost gasped, supremely conscious of that soft warm bottom on his leg… and of the intimate nearness of her. Incredible to realise that, only a few months ago, she had been a mere 16, yet already she was acting like an experienced girl in her twenties.
‘Do you think I’m improving, sir?’ she enquired innocently.
‘There… there’s very little room for it,’ replied Maurice. He looked down at those slim bare thighs, a little splayed, right before him. They were quite irresistible. He laid his hand gently on the one nearest to him.
‘Nice of you to say so, sir,’ she half sighed. The hand which had been on his shoulder moved and he found a bare arm about his neck. Maurice moved his hand an inch or two higher, expecting some kind of resistance at any moment. But none came. ‘I think you’re going to make a most marvellous coach,’ she said and a young soft-warm mouth was pressed to his. It opened wide.
Maurice’s hand slid right up to the top of her thighs; he felt the back of it brushing against those thin green briefs.
‘And you are a most promising pupil.’
‘An enchanting scene,’ said a voice sarcastically. ‘But not strictly Cinderella, I think!’ It was the voice of the Head.
Both guilty parties, who a moment before had been approaching the Gates of Paradise, leapt off the chair simultaneously, nerve-ends jangling, hair seeming to bristle. To his chagrin, Maurice saw Elsa Turner alongside and instantly had the suspicion that the young teacher had somehow contrived this embarrassing, and possibly catastrophic, situation.
‘Disgusting!’ she said, lips twisting scornfully. Maurice wondered if she were, perhaps, jealous. Alongside him he could hear Penny breathing fast. There was nothing to be said; one could but face the music.
‘You will both come to my study once the girl has put on her proper attire,’ commanded the Head, double chins quivering violently with indignation. ‘You, too, Miss Turner. I intend to deal with this matter without delay. He turned and stalked off in his usual peremptory fashion. Elsa Turner went next. In silence, Penny and the Arts Master followed a few minutes later. Idly, Maurice wondered what the girl must be thinking. In a way, it was tougher on her than on him… even if he were already drafting an ‘Employment Wanted’ advertisement in his mind.
They trooped through the study to the Head’s private detention room. The Head seated himself. ‘You, Mr Walker, will collect anything you have at the school and then leave… and not return. This kind of disgraceful behaviour cannot be tolerated. I shall bring no charges…’
‘…but I shall give you no reference,’ concluded the Head.
‘May I go now, then?’ enquired Maurice mildly.
‘No,’ answered the Head. ‘You will stay and watch what your machinations have brought upon this young girl.’ He stood up and went to a cupboard in one corner. ‘Fortunately,’ he was saying, ‘this is something I rarely have to do.’
The cupboard opened and, to Maurice’s surprise, out came a slim, hook-handled cane. He had not realised the Head was empowered to use corporal punishment. Perhaps he wasn’t. If so, who was behaving disgracefully now? The word machinations was still in his mind and he could not help thinking, a little bitterly, that the Head should have watched this kid going through her seduction routine. Even he wouldn’t have been able to resist! ‘Miss Turner, stand by,’ said the Head. Possibly he thinks another woman being present excuses things, Maurice told himself. ‘Penny, you will bend across the desk. I am going to give you six strokes of the cane…’
‘Oh no…oo! You can’t… you mustn’t!’
‘Perhaps you would prefer your mother to know about these goings-on?’
A high, girlish squeal. ‘Oooohh… noo… oooo!’ That idea was obviously too, too appalling!
‘Very well then, do as I say. At once!’
Penny began to sob as she moved towards the desk and Maurice saw her give him a resentful glance. That made him rather angry. It implied it was all his fault… and what sympathy he had had began to ebb. He watched, fascinated, as the girl bent over the front of the desk. Her blue pinafore rose up and exposed her navy knickers. In a way, the girl deserved this, he comforted himself. After all, she had led him on. Elsa Turner stepped forward and maliciously yanked Penny’s skirt up as high as it would go. There was a vindictive look in her eyes as she next yanked the briefs down. Penny squealed again — in shocked dismay.
‘Is… is that really necessary, Miss Turner?’ bumbled the Head, now not knowing quite where to look.
‘It’s best, Head,’ replied Elsa firmly. She looked almost triumphantly across at Maurice as if to say: ‘You would have preferred to see that bottom bare for another reason.’ It confirmed Maurice’s suspicion that the girl was motivated by jealousy.
The cane measured the tight-curving round bottom… was raised… and whistled down. It was rather a half-hearted stroke but it made Penny yelp loudly all the same as she twisted and turned along the edge of the desk. Maurice could not help being appreciative of that little display. You, he said to himself, are a right bastard.
Moreover, he could not deny he thoroughly enjoyed watching the rest of Penny’s caning… which, from the sights and sounds it evoked, produced a very great deal of anguish in that young lady.
A few days later, Maurice Walker was in his digs, looking through the Situations Vacant column when a letter arrived, addressed in a girlish hand. His heart gave a little thump. Recriminations, perhaps? Or something else? The note inside was laid out in poetry form. As he read, Maurice’s smile broadened.
‘Prince Charming never went to the Ball — or got wed — but got a nasty sore bottom instead. It’s the kind of sensation which deserves compensation! What say I arrive with my slipper of glass and let dear Maurice attend to my arse? RSVP.’
It need hardly be added that the ex-Arts Master put pen to paper immediately!