By Rebecca Walker and Charles Langford from Roué 43
You may have noticed that the first episode of Burtonwood Chronicles began in the form of an interview with the Head Girl, Gail Montcrieff. The interviewer was in fact a young female journalist from the local newspaper, the Bottingley Gazette. Ever since twenty-year-old Fiona Watts-Duncan, thanks to her father’s influence, had landed the job as assistant reporter she’d been busily nosing out every scrap of damning evidence about the school that she could.
Fiona, haughtily beautiful and brimming with the poise and self-confidence she’d acquired from the expensive Swiss finishing school that her father, Sir Harold, had sent her to, was a type of female you meet with ever increasing frequency these days: a girl with strong feminist principles.
For years she’d been hearing strange rumours about Burtonwood, and the ‘disgracefully sexist’ things that went on there, but it was only when she actually did a bit of sleuthing and succeeded in pumping some mind-boggling information from that rather mercenary Head Girl (a modest sum of money changed hands) that she became in a position to, as she put it, ‘blow the lid off Burtonwood!’
When I said Fiona was a feminist I didn’t mean one of the baggy-dungareed Greenham Common brigade; I meant one of the more common, insidious type — the type who reads Cosmopolitan and Working Woman, wears bright pink nail varnish and wickedly expensive French perfume, constantly changes the style and colour of her hair in accordance with the dictates of fashion, dresses provocatively in flimsy diaphanous blouses and hip-hugging slit-skirts… in other words the type of girl who aggressively flaunts her sexual assets in order to bowl over, ensnare — even go to bed with — any man who, albeit temporarily, might be of use to her in her relentless climb up her career ladder to success.
Fiona Watts-Duncan was the epitome of this genre. She was bossy, devious and calculating, and consequently detested by everyone at the Bottingley Gazette office. Even the receptionist, Brenda, a rosy-apple-cheeked country girl who had a smile for everyone — even Brenda hated Fiona for the cruel way she made fun of her quaintly rustic burr.
Fiona was universally regarded as ‘beautiful’, but it was a hard, brittle beauty that some men found off-putting — even threatening. She was tall and statuesque, with pale-blue, rather chameleonic eyes; a slightly sharp, disapproving nose; a mouth that was one minute soft and sensual, yet hard and calculating the next. Her hair— at least at the time this story took place — was a dazzling strawberry blonde, softly permed and cosseted into loose-flowing curls.
She possessed an unnerving repertoire of carefully cultivated little mannerisms designed to bewitch and captivate the male sex. She had a habit, for example, of toying playfully with the buttons on her blouse so that a strategically placed one popped open… and the man who was addressing her halted in mid-sentence, completely forgetting what he was going to say next.
Fiona certainly had an uncanny knack of making life difficult for those she worked with. And, to make matters worse, she was a lousy journalist. The articles she wrote were incompetent, uninspired, and showed no talent whatsoever for reporting; they were merely the inconsequential ramblings of a shallow, superficial mind.
The Editor of the Gazette, Sam, a patient grey-haired man in his mid-fifties, came to dread the frequent occasions when Fiona Watts-Duncan flounced into his tiny office: the brisk, assertive clacking of her outrageously expensive high-heel shoes, the smugly complacent look on those aristocratic features of hers as she presented him with her latest literary effort. Sam always winced in pain when he read it.
All the same, he had no option but to print the rubbish she wrote. Why? Because it was her daddy’s wish — and her daddy owned the Bottingley Gazette.
But when Fiona triumphantly handed him her crowning masterpiece, containing all those salacious titbits she’d prised out of Gail Montcrieff about the school, and crudely entitled Burtonwood College: A Perverts’ Paradise! — Sam groaned aloud. He was a gentle, peace-loving man running an unassuming, sedate rural newspaper. Weddings, funerals, and village fetes were its staple diet — not sensationalist, muck-raking exposes. He knew if he published Fiona’s piece on Burtonwood that the school would be closed down — at the very least. At the most there’d be a national scandal culminating in a court case. What was he to do?
It so happened that Sam was well acquainted with Mr Royce, Headmaster of Burtonwood College. In fact Reginald Royce, no slouch himself when it came to putting pen to paper, had contributed a short series of excellent articles to the Bottingley Gazette, entitled A Headmaster Remembers, in which he’d painted a convincingly glowing portrait of the school — elegiac evocations of the sinking sun casting its roseate hues upon the old mellow ivy-clad walls etc. Of course Mr Royce studiously omitted to mention the roseate bottoms of his female pupils — neither did he touch on willowy canes cruelly kissing those aforementioned schoolgirl posteriors… Nevertheless Sam, reading between the lines like any astute journalist, had deduced a lot about what really went on at Burtonwood. After a dozen or so whiskies and soda at the Red Lion, where the two men met once a week to discuss and finalise his latest article, Mr Royce was apt to let slip revealing remarks like: ‘Between you and me, Sam, the real reason why my girls are as good as gold is that they jolly well know they’ll get the cane on their bottoms the minute they step out of line!’
But Sam, very much a man of the world, knew that such things went on regardless and that, when all was said and done, worse things happened at sea. Besides, there were much graver issues at the moment to worry about.
Recently the Bottingley Gazette had been experiencing problems serious enough to place its future under threat. A rival ‘free’ weekly newspaper had entered the lists, masterminded by an unscrupulous local entrepreneur, Michael Barnwell — with the result that the good old dependable Gazette (established 1847) was losing money both in circulation and advertising revenue to the tune of many hundreds of pounds per week. The Gazette’s proprietor, Sir Harold Watts-Duncan, had called six emergency board meetings in as many weeks. The mood at these meetings was one of gloom, alarm, and panic.
Even worse, this upstart ‘rag’, known as the Bottingley Weekly News had lately been splashing its front pages with inside information about the ailing Gazette: its dwindling circulation figures, unpaid printers’ bills, and the state of despondency among its directors. Someone in the know had been ‘leaking’ the Gazette’s preciously guarded secrets to its rival. Who?
‘I’ll wring his neck when I get my hands on him — this ‘mole’, this viper in our midst!’ thundered Sir Harold, his grey walrus moustache bristling with ire. But poor old Sam could only shake his head in bewilderment and despair. His staff — apart from Fiona, and she was above suspicion since she was Sir Harold’s daughter — had all worked on the Gazette for donkeys’ years, and were loyal to a man. What on earth would induce any of them to sell valuable information to a rival newspaper? It would be like cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face!
Then one lunchtime Sam arrived back at the office earlier than usual, to be greeted by the sight of Fiona Watts-Duncan’s tight grey-skirted, upper-class behind bending over in the act of searching through his bottom drawer file marked Highly Confidential. Hearing his footstep, Fiona hurriedly slammed the drawer shut, straightened up, and actually blushed (something Sam had never seen her do before); then she mumbled something about ‘Doing an errand for Daddy’, before making a hasty retreat.
Sam, his suspicions aroused, immediately telephoned Sir Harold. No, his employer informed him, he had not entrusted his daughter with any errand. Sam tactfully smoothed things over, saying the whole thing was probably a misunderstanding on Fiona’s part. He was reluctant, on such flimsy evidence, to accuse his boss’s daughter of such a serious charge as journalistic espionage. Besides, what on earth could be her motive? So he bided his time, keeping a watchful eye on the girl.
Thanks to the brand new, highly sophisticated internal telephone system Sir Harold had generously paid for to have installed at the Gazette offices, Sam was able to ‘bug’ Fiona’s outgoing phone calls. He was even able to tape record them and play them back at his leisure. He hated doing it, but he felt that his responsibilities and loyalties to the severely threatened Gazette overrode any such moral qualms.
Mostly Fiona’s telephone calls were, like herself, depressingly mundane and boringly trivial: appointments with her hairdresser, appointments for ball-gown fittings, appointments to have her poodle clipped and shampooed… ‘What an excessively spoilt, pampered little madam she is!’ thought Sam irritably. She spent hours on the phone flirting with an unending procession of ‘eligible young men’ — those chinless wonders to be found everywhere at fetes, garden parties and hunt-balls… the sort of men that Sam, who’d worked his way up from humble origins, had always despised.
‘If she spent less time on herself and more time on the Gazette, she might do a bit better!’ Sam reflected bitterly. ‘If I was her dad I’d tan that backside of hers — good and hard!’ But the redoubtable Sir Harold doted on his daughter: to him she was always ‘Daddy’s little girl’ who could do no wrong.
Then one Monday afternoon Sam played back a telephone call between Fiona and a man she’d rung up. As he listened to the conversation Sam grew more and more angry: ‘… I know I shouldn’t ring you from work, Mike darling,’ Fiona purred sweetly, ‘but I’ve unearthed some more juicy snippets about you-know-what! I’m working on them right now, and I’ll let you have them tomorrow evening, in time for Thursday’s News?’
‘Clever girl!’ came the deep masculine reply from the other end of the line. ‘Tell you what, I’ll book a table at Giovanni’s for us, Tuesday at eight. Thanks to you we’ll have the Gazette well and truly stitched up in no time!’
‘Oh, Mike, that’s terrific!’ Fiona enthused in her smooth, honeyed accents. ‘I can’t wait for this crummy old rag to go under— it’ll serve Daddy bloody well right for the pittance he pays me to work here. And then…’
‘Then my darling Fiona,’ Mike Barnwell cut in suavely, ‘I shall keep my part of the bargain and offer you the post of Assistant Editor of the Weekly News — and no one will be any the wiser!’
When Sam was able to get a grip on himself and control his anger, he made a careful copy of the phone call, locked the cassette safely away in his drawer, then sat thinking a while at his desk.
Afterwards he himself made two phone calls: one to Sir Harold and the other to Mr Royce, politely requesting their presence in his office at 6.30 that evening — long after all the staff had gone home. A plan was beginning to ferment in his brain…
The meeting of the three men lasted an hour. During the course of it, Sir Harold became quite apoplectic with rage when he learned of his beloved daughter’s treachery and greed. His initial scepticism regarding Fiona’s guilt crumbled when he heard the evidence of the tape and he thumped his fist angrily upon the desk, roaring terrible oaths and imprecations.
Mr Royce, greatly alarmed when Sam told him about Fiona’s piece of ‘investigative journalism’ on Burtonwood College, calmed down considerably when both Sam and Sir Harold assured him that there was now no chance of it ever seeing the light of day, and he later began to chuckle and beam cherubically as he and Sir Harold listened in rapt silence to the well-laid plan that Sam was gradually unfolding.
Afterwards they adjourned to the Red Lion where, during the consumption of much alcoholic beverage, the three men pledged their loyalty.
‘All for one, and one for all!’ cried Sir Harold, raising his glass jubilantly aloft. He became even more animated six brandies later, and declared that he hadn’t enjoyed himself so much since the glorious times he’d spent with old Monty, chasing Rommel all over the Sahara desert.
Mr Royce, too, arrived back at Burtonwood in tremendously high spirits. Despite it being nearly midnight, he insisted on rousing an entire dormitory of fifth year girls and, ordering them to kneel bare-bottomed on their beds, he proceeded to cane the lot of them.
‘But what have we done, sir?’ they tearfully chorused in unison, as he concluded the exhilarating exercise by landing six whistling strokes upon Claudia Wetherby’s wildly gyrating posterior.
‘Nothing whatsoever, girls,’ he declared cheerfully, striding springily from the low-vaulted dorm. ‘But I have to keep my hand in, you know!’
Sir Harold, exercising superhuman powers of self-control, behaved perfectly normally to his daughter when he returned home that night, and at breakfast time next morning. That was an agreed part of the plan.
Upon her arrival at work, Sam greeted Fiona affably, as though nothing were amiss, and asked her to step into his office.
‘Great article this, Fiona!’ he enthused warmly, waving her Burtonwood College report in the air. ‘I’m putting it on the front page, this Thursday’s edition — headline news! Shouldn’t be at all surprised if one of the national dailies snaps it up, too! You’ll be famous then, my girl!’
‘Oh Sam, really? How super!’ Fiona cried ecstatically, flinging her arms round the little grey-haired man.
Disengaging himself from her jubilant embrace, Sam continued, ‘But before we can print it we need a bit more in the way of tangible proof to support your allegations — for instance if you can smuggle out a photocopied extract from the school punishment book… or better still, take a photo of the headmaster’s cane-cupboard… It’ll mean you interviewing Royce personally, without him suspecting what your real motives are for doing it… It’ll need guts and determination — do you think you can do it, Fiona?’
Fiona nodded eagerly, the adrenalin already beginning to pump through her tall, elegant body, and it took no further prompting on Sam’s part to make her jump into her Lotus Elan Plus Two, a camera and her blockbusting article secreted in her snazzy red leather briefcase, and roar off in the direction of Burtonwood College. Also in her briefcase, safely enclosed in a sealed envelope, was the latest batch of leaked information about the Gazette, which she was due to deliver to Mike Barnwell over dinner that evening. Sam stood in the doorway, rubbing his hands together gleefully as the bright red sports car careered out of sight.
The rest is history — or shall we say one of the more memorable slices in the unrecorded annals of Burtonwood folklore…
It was only when Mr Royce started brandishing his cane admonishingly at her, that Fiona Watts-Duncan began to get the funny feeling that she’d been ‘set up’.
‘I only want to inspect one of your canes — I don’t want a practical demonstration, thank you, Mr Royce!’ Fiona snapped pettishly. But it had no effect on him whatsoever. The stupid old fool went on waving the cane in her face and smiling a horrid gloating sort of smile, as though he knew something which she did not. Fiona fumed in exasperation and tried to suppress her growing misgivings.
In order to see Mr Royce in his study, Fiona had invented a story to the effect that she was a parent who was considering sending her little girl, when old enough, to the school. Naturally, therefore, she wanted to know all about school life, curriculums, disciplinary methods etc.
Mr Royce hadn’t seemed in the least bit surprised by her unheralded arrival (it was customary to make an appointment to discuss such matters with the Headmaster) but, then, Fiona wasn’t to know that Sam had telephoned Royce immediately she’d set off, to warn him that the girl was on her way…
‘L-Look,’ she stammered, beginning to grow rattled by Royce’s strangely menacing behaviour, ‘I told you before, my name is Mrs Merridew and I’ve come to inspect your school with a view to sending my daughter here.’
‘Poppycock!’ Royce retorted, scrutinising her tall, smartly-dressed figure (she was wearing a superbly tailored black straight skirt, delicate little white blouse, and black sling-back stilettos.) ‘Your real name is Fiona Watts-Duncan, you’ve behaved in a thoroughly disgraceful manner, and you’ve come here for me to inspect that wilful, impudent backside of yours — with a view to giving it the sound tanning it so richly merits!’
Fiona turned white with rage, her lower lip trembled with indignation. ‘So you admit to being a woman-beater, do you?’ she spat out the words venomously. ‘Well, here’s what I think about disgusting pigs like you…’ and with a rapid lunge forward she delivered a ringing slap to his face that made his cheek burn and his false teeth rattle.
Now it was Royce’s turn to be angry. No mere woman had ever dared to strike that scholarly cheek before. Even though the blow was causing him to see stars, Royce knew he had to act — and act fast. She must not be allowed to get away with it.
He grabbed her by the wrists and, ignoring her loud protests, dragged her across his study towards an upright wooden chair. She cursed and spat at him like a wild she-cat, tried to claw him with her long pink-varnished fingernails, arched her back, dug her sharp stiletto-heels into his carpet — but she was no match for his superior strength.
Next moment she found herself slung, face downwards, across his ample lap, her flailing arms pinned behind her back, while he vented his anger with loud stinging slaps to the tight seat of her skirt.
‘Let me up this instant!’ she screamed in mortified indignation. ‘Let me up — OW! — this is an outrage — OW! — I’ll have the law on you — OUCH! — I’ll tell Daddy — OOH, OUCH — it hurts!!’
‘Go ahead and tell Sir Harold,’ Mr Royce calmly replied without ceasing to interrupt the cannonade of resounding spanks he was administering to Fiona’s sexily wiggling rear-end, ‘I think you’ll find that he heartily approves of the measures I’m taking with you.’
‘You’re mad — OUCH!! — my father will have you locked up for this — OOOOOH!!! — Just you see, you bloody pervert!’ she cried, flailing her legs desperately in an attempt to wriggle free of him.
That did it. No-one had ever dared call him those sorts of names before. Mr Royce began to appreciate just how much of a handful Fiona Watts-Duncan really was. A few dozen or so hand smacks applied to the well-padded seat of her skirt were, it was patently obvious, quite inadequate to break the spirit of this particular young lady. Much, much sterner measures were called for.
For one thing, Mr Royce was simply not used to dealing with a girl who swore, spat in his face, kicked, scratched and struggled like a demon while he attempted to impose discipline on her. His girls at Burtonwood, without exception, took their medicine meekly and obediently — if not stoically.
The time had come for him to play a few trump cards…
Fiona ceased to kick and struggle when he released her wrists. The awful spanking, too, had stopped; so, gathering whatever dignity she could still muster, she quickly scrambled up from across his lap and, retreating a few yards for safety, launched a stream of vituperation at her assailant. It was to hide her blushes as much as anything else, because never before — not even as a little girl — had she been spanked.
To reach the ripe age of twenty, and then to be ignominiously yanked over the knee of some old slob she hardly knew, and spanked — yes, actually spanked, as though she were a naughty little kid… how could she, Fiona Watts-Duncan, ever live it down? She thought of writing a letter of complaint to The Guardian, denouncing the brutal and degrading sexism of such an unwarrantable attack upon her pampered, cosseted rear-end — then thought better of it. The publicity would make her humiliation even harder to bear. For the same reason she decided against going to the police: as a ‘committed feminist’ she’d learnt to loathe and despise ‘the pigs’. They’d probably laugh in her face if she went and told them she’d been spanked. Worse, they might even say she deserved it. No, this squalid little incident had to be kept within the family…
‘Just you wait till my father hears about this — you’ll wish you’d never been born!’ Fiona hissed between gritted teeth.
‘Go on then, my girl — phone him!’ Mr Royce replied with a thinly disguised smirk on his face that told Fiona he’d enjoyed smacking her bottom every bit as much as she’d hated having it smacked.
‘Alright,’ Fiona retorted defiantly, calling his bluff, ‘I will.’
Stiffly, she walked over to the telephone on Royce’s desk. Her bottom itched and stun… she had an irresistible desire to massage away the stinging — but she somehow managed to control the urge… she was determined not to give him the satisfaction of seeing her rub it…
She phoned her father and immediately began to breathlessly gabble out her ignominy and distress: ‘Daddy, Daddy! you’ve got to help me! I’m at this awful Burtonwood girls’ school — and, do you know what…’ — but Fiona ground to an abrupt halt as Sir Harold proceeded to vent his fury upon her from the other end of the line.
‘Well, Fiona,’ Mr Royce sneered gloatingly as, her face ashen pale and her lower lip drooping in dejection, she slowly replaced the receiver, ‘what did your father say — is he coming over to horsewhip me? Or is he going to lynch me?’
Fiona stared miserably at the ground ahead of her feet. She’d suffered a profound shock to her system. All her hopes and ambitions — an edifice built on lies, deceit and treachery — had suddenly collapsed about her ears. It was a long while before she could bring herself to speak.
‘My father said,’ she spoke mechanically, robot-like, as in a dream, ‘h-he said I am to take whatever punishment you choose to inflict on me… and that if I don’t, then he’d disinherit me… he s-said he knows all about m-my spying for Mike Barnwell… he said I deserve to go to p-prison for what I’ve done… but because I’m his own flesh and blood, and because of the scandal, he’s prepared to let you deal with me.’ Fiona felt too wretched even to look at Royce while she spoke. She felt sick with mortification.
Mr Royce, however, was experiencing feelings of immense complacency. Thanks to Sam’s cleverly laid plan, this snooty bitch of a girl was completely under his thumb. He was used to having such control over the 120 girl pupils in his charge, but to exercise the same dominion over an attractive fully-fledged young woman was a most welcome novelty and, by George, he intended to make the most of it!
‘So your father said you should take what’s coming to you, did he?’ Royce boomed magisterially, advancing on the bewildered, unhappy young woman. ‘Well, in that case I shall do my best to accommodate his wishes!’
‘B-But you’ve punished me already — what more do you want?’ Fiona stammered, blushing at the memory of that awful spanking he’d given her.
Mr Royce chuckled merrily. ‘Oh, I assure you, Fiona, I’ve only just begun. There’s a lot more mileage left in that haughty, insolent bottom of yours!’
‘How dare you be so personal?’ Fiona retorted hotly, her innate stroppiness returning in a blaze of defiance.
‘I wouldn’t raise your voice to me if I were you, Fiona!’ He wagged an admonishing finger at her. ‘Just bear in mind what your father said about disinheriting you!’
Fiona slumped down onto the nearest chair and groaned aloud. For the very first time in her life she felt utterly insignificant and powerless — and she didn’t like it one bit.
‘It’s about time you learned some manners, young lady,’ Mr Royce told her sharply, ‘and the best way to teach you some is for you to become, at least temporarily, a pupil here at Burtonwood. A short spell of ‘corrective training’ will drum more sense into that dense head of yours than all the exclusive Swiss finishing schools under the sun.’
‘B-But you can’t make me stay here against my will!’ Fiona wailed in dismay, knowing full well however that she had no say in the matter at all. Her father’s threat to cut her out of his will had put the fear of God into her. Sir Harold, as she well knew, was a man of iron resolution who never baulked at carrying out his word. He was both feared and respected throughout the community.
But the prospect of swallowing her pride and actually becoming a ‘pupil’ — even for a short while — at this detestable establishment filled her with horror and dread. Why, she’d be totally at the mercy, not only of the headmaster, but of the dozen or so other equally sadistic and perverted members of his staff…
But, as always, greed weighed upper-most in her devious, calculating mind. When it came to the crunch she’d go through hell and high water to inherit her share of the Watts-Duncan estates — reputedly worth millions.
Fiona held her head in her hands and gave a sigh of bitter resignation. ‘Okay, if I must, I suppose I must,’ she murmured wearily. ‘So what do I have to do next?’
‘First, there’s the question of school uniform. I’ll ring Matron and ask her to bring over a complete Burtonwood outfit for you to wear. What size are you, Fiona?’
She hated having to disclose such personal details about herself as bust, waist, and hip measurements — but reluctantly she complied.
‘Hum, quite a big girl really, aren’t you!’ Royce joked humourlessly. Fiona squirmed in embarrassment. ‘Never mind, I expect Matron will be able to find a school uniform to fit you — even if it’s bound to be a trifle on the small size.’ The tall, suavely elegant girl screwed up her features into an expression of deep disgust.
After he’d phoned Matron with his instructions, Mr Royce turned to Fiona and lay yet another trump card on the table. ‘Now we come to the matter of that disgracefully libellous article which you wrote about my school,’ he announced angrily.
Fiona bit her lip and coloured up guiltily. Damn it, she thought, she was even beginning to feel like a naughty disobedient schoolgirl.
‘According to your employer, who telephoned me before you arrived,’ Royce went on, ‘you have the manuscript about your person.’ Fiona’s face fell even further — so Sam was in on it too! Had the whole world ganged up on her?
Mr Royce held out his hand. ‘I’d be obliged, young lady, if you’d hand over that manuscript immediately. Oh yes and I nearly forgot — your employer also asked me to confiscate that other manuscript — the one containing highly confidential information about the Gazette. He wouldn’t like it to fall into the wrong hands — say the hands of a certain Mr Barnwell?’
Fiona went white as a sheet and, opening her red leather briefcase, she sheepishly produced both offending documents. She felt like a little girl whose sweets were being confiscated by the teacher.
Mr Royce struck a match and ceremoniously burned the half-dozen or so typed sheets of A4 paper. Fiona watched in impotent rage as the papers blackened and shrivelled up into ashes. Very soon the funeral pyre lay smouldering at the bottom of Mr Royce’s metal waste paper bin. Now all that remained was to prepare the sacrificial victim…
‘Matron will soon be here with your uniform, Fiona. In the meantime I’m going to give you a good taste of this…’ so saying he went to his cane cupboard and returned immediately with a chunkily compact black leather tawse ‘… by the way of punishment for daring to write such maliciously damaging rubbish!’
‘Oh no, you’re not going to punish me with that, surely?’ Fiona wailed, eyeing the tawse in dread and clutching defensively at her tightly skirted rear-end.
‘… And this time,’ Royce added, tight-lipped and grim, ‘I shall punish you without the protection of your skirt — or, for that matter, your underclothes…’
He stood there, casually flicking the thick black tawse, watching the hot crimson blush suffuse Fiona’s cheeks as she fought to control her conflicting emotions: fear, shame, indignation — and downright embarrassment.
It was so agonisingly demeaning, she thought bitterly, being told to take her clothes off in order for him to whack her bare bottom with that appalling implement of punishment in his hand. There was something so cold-bloodedly ritualistic about the whole thing, it made her flesh creep.
‘Well, Fiona, I’m waiting!’ His lips curled into an expression of mocking amusement. He showed no sympathy at all for her predicament — indeed he seemed to going out of his way to heap humiliation after humiliation on her immaculately coiffured head. ‘Hurry up now,’ he added impatiently, ‘I haven’t got all day. Pupils at Burtonwood who refuse to undress for punishment usually find that I end up doing it for them!’
The threat of Royce forcibly stripping her was enough to set Fiona’s fingers frantically scrabbling at the zip of her tight black skirt. Still blushing fiercely, she quickly tugged the hip-hugging garment right down to her ankles.
‘Now your underslip,’ he commanded. With a weary reluctance Fiona obeyed, and pulled down the expensive black satin undergarment… until that, too, lay in a heap around her exclusive Italian high heel shoes. This left her in charcoal-grey stockings, black lacy suspender belt, and a wispy little pair of black nylon knickers that made a very poor job of concealing the womanly plumpness of her almost vulgarly prominent buttocks.
Fiona’s taste for seductive underwear mirrored her whole personality and her attitude towards the opposite sex. Men, she always reasoned, were there to be taken advantage of. She’d discovered from quite an early age that black, vampish underwear was an ideal weapon with which to seduce her male victims and get exactly what she wanted out of them.
Mike Barnwell was a perfect instance of this. He’d asked her out to dinner at Giovanni’s that very evening. She’d planned to charm and sweet-talk him as usual, then afterwards it would be ‘back to his place’ (hence the black underwear!) and hopefully, if she played her cards right, the Assistant Editorship of the Bottingley Weekly News would be well and truly hers.
But now all her cunning little schemes had exploded in her face. Here she was, standing in just her blouse, knickers, and stockings before a strange man she’d quickly learned to hate, fear, and despise. Fiona felt sick with shame and embarrassment.
‘Pick up your skirt and underslip and give them to me,’ Royce ordered, savouring every minute of Fiona’s humiliating comeuppance.
Crimson-faced, she handed him the superbly tailored garments. He threw them carelessly into a far corner of the room, saying, ‘You won’t be wearing those for a while, young lady!’ Fiona winced and tried not to cry.
He seated himself on the same chair as before and beckoned the tall shapely blonde to approach him. Nervously, and with faltering step, she obeyed. When at last she stood between his outspread legs, he inserted the fingers of both hands in the waistband of her filmy little black knickers and slowly drew them down over her swelling hips. A luxuriant growth of dark pubic curls greeted his gaze. Fiona went even redder and tried to squeeze her thighs together in a futile attempt at concealment. But Mr Royce had seen it all.
‘So you’re not even a proper blonde then?’ he exclaimed mockingly. ‘Really, Fiona, I believe that in spite of all your good breeding and expensive education you’re nothing but a common little fraud!’
The words stung her to the quick. No one had ever dared to say such awful things about her. Tears of frustrated rage gathered in her pale-blue eyes. But before she had time to reply he pulled her down across his knee for the second time that morning and, despite her noisy cries of indignation, began to belabour her pink, wobbling bottom with twin-forked tails of the leather tawse.
It snaked viciously down across her plump, well-developed buttocks and even caught her once or twice on the tender flesh of her thighs. It stung atrociously — much, much worse than his hand, Fiona thought in panic to herself, as she threshed and kicked her long grey-stockinged legs in a frantic effort to free herself from the painful tyranny of that dreadful tawse.
Mr Royce was as expert with the tawse as he was with the cane. He took delight in landing the strokes where Fiona least expected them: high up where her bottom began; low down just above her stocking-tops; fair and square across the summits of both buttocks; and even a judiciously aimed stroke that dug wickedly into the delicate cleft between her bottom-cheeks. How Fiona howled when an angry leather tail found its way there!
Soon Fiona’s smooth, well-cosseted bottom was covered with fiery-red streaks and criss-crossed with darker crimson bands — ample testament that Mr Royce’s pocket-sized tawse was capable of inducing true contrition on any young lady’s bottom… whatever the size, shape, or form.
Fiona’s indignant squeals had long since subsided into shuddering groans and sobs, as her severely chastised young rump surged and writhed helplessly beneath the never-ending onslaught of leather thudding against hot, throbbing flesh.
To add insult to injury, towards the end of the punishment there was a knock at the door. ‘Oh please don’t let anyone come in!’ Fiona sobbed miserably. She felt she’d die of shame if anyone entered at that moment and saw her in all her shame and red-bottomed humiliation.
But Mr Royce simply paused in mid-stroke, yelled ‘Come in!’ above the noise of Fiona’s blubberings — and in walked Matron, a gaunt, rather spiteful looking woman with thin lips and narrow glinting eyes, carrying in her arms Fiona’s brand new school uniform: green blazer, short green pleated skirt, tie and blouse, shoes, and of course a white cotton vest — and a pair of thick cotton bottle green knickers that hopefully would stretch sufficiently in order to encompass Fiona’s well-rounded posterior.
As red as that posterior in question now was, it nowhere near matched the mortified blaze on her other cheeks when Fiona twisted her upside-down head around and met Matron’s beady eyes scrutinising her with what could only be described as a look of amused condescension.
Fiona wailed abjectly, ceased her kicking, froze, and clamped her legs together as tightly as they’d go. ‘Oh, God,’ she burst out tearfully, ‘I’ve never been so humiliated in all my life — Ow! — Eeeeeeeyoww!’ she yelled with all her might as Mr Royce applied the tawse to her bottom more enthusiastically than ever.
‘Many thanks, Matron!’ he exclaimed cheerily, while continuing to wield the tawse with devastating effect upon Fiona’s ever-reddening, ever more frantically squirming behind. ‘As you can see,’ he explained to the white-uniformed woman, ‘I’m in the middle of enrolling a new pupil.’
‘WHACK! WHACK! WHACK! WHACK!’ said the tawse as it added its explosively resonant quota to the conversation. Fiona groaned and sobbed wretchedly as she tried in vain to shift her position so that the spitefully inquisitive woman wouldn’t be able to enjoy such a grandstand view of her well-punished bare bottom — but Royce held her in a grip of iron.
‘Is there anything more I can do for you, Headmaster?’ said Matron fawningly after she’d laid down the bundle of school clothes on his desk. She lingered in the room, as though for some reason reluctant to leave. Every second of her presence there was purgatory for Fiona. It became obvious to the girl that this rather unsavoury middle-aged woman was searching for any excuse to be able to witness the remainder of her punishment.
Consequently Fiona’s heart sank when she heard Mr Royce say, in between tawse-strokes, ‘I may well need you after I’ve finished taking these ‘preventative measures’ with our new pupil — I anticipate that she may prove a trifle uncooperative when it comes to putting on her school uniform — therefore your presence may well be invaluable, Matron.’
Matron heaved a sigh of deep contentment and settled down in Royce’s armchair to watch the grand climatic moments of the tawsing of Fiona Watts-Duncan.
This final indignity was too much for Fiona to bear and she showed her feelings by breaking into a squall of big babyish sobs and splutters, while Mr Royce — his arm now stiff and aching — administered the last few sizzling strokes to her frantically cavorting bottom, which in hue now bore a striking resemblance to one of those sunsets painted by Turner — or so Mr Raoul, the art master, would have asserted had he been privileged to view it.
Weeping and blubbering uncontrollably, the once haughty and proud Fiona Watts-Duncan struggled to her feet, unashamedly rubbing her deeply-crimson, conspicuously welted buttocks. Mr Royce ordered her into a corner where she stood grizzling wretchedly with her hands on her head until she’d composed herself sufficiently enough to remove every stitch of what clothing she was still wearing, and then garb herself humiliatingly in a school uniform that was patently several sizes too small for her.And after that, what other painful and embarrassing ordeals would lie in store for her before Fiona at long last expiated her guilt?