From Blushes Supplement 7
The long corridor along which she had to walk was thickly carpeted, so that her black, buckled shoes made no sound. But she could hear her own fast breathing and the thumping of her heart. The palms of her hands were damp. I don’t think I can go through with this, she thought, as a kind of panic mounted. This was something that happened to other girls. Not to her.
Jane Martin was on her way to the Head.
She knew what that implied, for other girls who had taken that same long walk had told her about it. One, in rather bragging mood after it was over, had actually shown her. Jane, in her mind’s eye, could still see those vivid twin-tracked marks over the rounds of flesh. Horrifying!
When she had first come to Chartley Hall at 15, and heard whispering about canings, Jane had thought they were given on the hand. She could still recall the shock she had felt when one girl revealed the fact that they were given on the bare bottom.
There is still time to turn back, Jane told herself rather desperately.
She could sneak into the dorm, put a few things in a bag and run away. Then she wouldn’t have to face the Head. Nor that cane. Yes, I can run away, she told herself again, instead of turning right at the end of the corridor and seeing that polished, mahogany-coloured door facing her.
But where could she run away to? She had no money — well, less than a pound anyway — nor had she any means of getting any. She relied on the small allowance her uncle and aunt could ill afford. They were the only people she could run to — and Jane could not bear the thought of that after all the sacrifices they had made to send her to Chartley Hall. They were so proud of her. Thinking of the looks of disbelief and dismay when she told them she had run away — and why — made Jane Martin feel sick. But then, so did that door at the end of the corridor.
She stopped, torn between one awfulness and another, and looked out of one of the tall windows lining the right-hand side of the corridor. It looked out on to part of the playing fields. A game of hockey was in progress and Jane looked at the running figures enviously. At that moment she would have given anything to be one of them, even though she hated hockey as well as most team games.
Oh what can I do? Waves of self-pity washed through her, I could commit suicide, she thought wretchedly, but knowing the next instance she wouldn’t have the courage to do any such thing. In fact, Jane Martin knew she wasn’t very brave at all; certainly not like some of the other girls seemed to be. That was what was making that long trip down the corridor all the more dreadful. She turned from the window, eyes moist, and continued with slow, reluctant steps.
There it was, bright and shiny brown, with a large rounded brass handle. Jane had only stood there once before and that was when her uncle and aunt had brought her for that first interview. Miss Brinkley had seemed stern but kind, concentrating her attentions on the elders rather than on Jane herself — of whom she had asked a few rather pointless questions. Now one remark the Head had made towards the end of that interview rang in Jane’s memory louder than any other.
‘We are sticklers for discipline at Chartley…’
Smiling a little nervously, her uncle and aunt had nodded approvingly.
‘No bad thing,’ one or other of them had said. Had they any idea what they were letting her in for?
Jane’s arm felt weak as she raised it to knock. Now her heart was beating even more loudly. Silence. Should she knock again? Need she? She could say she had been there and knocked and nobody answered. So she had gone away. The futility of that pressed in upon Jane even as she had the idea. It was merely postponing the inevitable. She knocked again, a shade more firmly. A moment or two later she heard a voice, presumably telling her to enter. Jane turned the big brass handle and pushed.
The large, high-ceilinged room was much as she remembered it, with a bespectacled Miss Brinkley behind a wide desk highly polished like the door which led into it. The Head was even wearing the same — a crisp, white blouse and a black skirt. But then, she never seemed to wear anything else, except perhaps a black jacket on colder days. There was, however, one difference. A man in a drab, fawn-coloured suit sat to one side of Miss Brinkley’s desk. Obviously a parent come to visit his daughter, Jane realised. She even felt a slight sense of relief; nothing could happen for the moment.
‘Mrs Johnson sent me to you, Miss,’ she heard herself saying in a voice so feeble she wondered if it would carry across the room.
‘I’ve heard all about it, Jane,’ replied the Head briskly. ‘Come and stand in front of my desk.’
Head swimming a little, Jane moved across the room. It seemed to take a long time. She stopped about a yard from the desk but could not bring herself to look at anything but the faded picture on the wall behind. It depicted a bewhiskered gentleman in Victorian-style clothing. Could that possibly be Miss Brinkley’s father she wondered abstractedly? Her mind did not want to concentrate on reality. She was horribly conscious of two pairs of eyes focussing on her and felt herself colouring. Still, the parent would be gone soon. Jane forced herself to look at Miss Brinkley directly but her eyes flinched away as she saw the hard, bleak gaze behind a pair of spectacles.
‘A rather unpleasant matter this, Mr Dyson,’ she heard the Head saying. ‘Not the sort of thing we expect from Chartley girls.’
‘Is that so?’ said the man. His voice was bland, almost bored. Why oh why is she bringing him into this, Jane complained inwardly? Things were bad enough already without this Mr Dyson knowing. He must be the parent of a new pupil, she thought, suddenly realising she couldn’t remember any girl called Dyson.
‘This girl, Jane Martin,’ continued the Head, ‘has been caught out in a piece of gross deception. Or attempted deception. As you know, Mr Dyson, every girl has a Record Book for each term…’
How could he know that?
‘…and this has to be shown to parents at end of term and signed by them. Amongst other things, it lists detentions received.’ Miss Brinkley paused and looked down at a piece of paper on her desk. ‘It seems that Jane received an unusually high number and, believe it or not, persuaded another girl to exchange detention pages with her. I may say that the girl in question had no detentions.’
‘That is rather unpleasant,’ said Mr Dyson, uncrossing his legs. ‘How was this discovered.’
‘The Sellotape used seemed suspicious to this other girl’s parents and they pressed their daughter on the matter. She confessed.’
Jane’s cheeks were now glowing with shame. It was terrible to stand there and have this piece of deceit exposed to a stranger. She had only done it because she didn’t want to hurt her uncle and aunt. Oh it was all so beastly unfair! Jane heard Mr Dyson’s tongue click disparagingly. ‘How old is she?’ he enquired.
‘Sixteen. Just…’ came the reply.
‘Of caneable age then.’ Jane’s cheeks grew hotter than ever. This was terrible. It was a private matter, not to be discussed before others.
‘Precisely,’ said Miss Brinkley. ‘As a governor of Chartley, you would be aware of our rule about that. Also that, as a governor, you are entitled to be present while I cane this wickedly deceitful girl. As I say, I think it is most disgraceful for any Chartley pupil to behave in this despicable fashion.’
Jane felt as if her ears were on fire. Of course, he wouldn’t stay! It would not be right… no… no… it would be outrageous!
The governor gave a hesitant little cough. ‘Er… well… I suppose so,’ he said. ‘A governor has certain responsibilities.’
Jane heard her own disbelieving intake of breath and it seemed as if her knees would buckle at any moment. There was a buzzing in her head through which Miss Brinkley’s crisp voice came only indistinctly. ‘The alternative is to expel you, Jane. And, if you do not consent and co-operate in my punishment, that is what I shall assuredly do.’
Expulsion! Oh no… it wasn’t possible! Once again the spectre of her poor uncle and aunt arose. They could never bear the disgrace of their ‘little girl’ being expelled. It would break their hearts.
‘Oh please don’t expel me, Miss,’ she heard herself pleading, hands outstretched.
‘Very well, Jane,’ said Miss Brinkley, standing up and opening her desk drawer, ‘you will accept the punishment you deserve.’
The sight of that whippy, hook-handled cane seemed to turn Jane’s, stomach to water. A memory of those weals she had seen returned. ‘O-oh… please… I didn’t mean any h-harm…’ Was that not indeed the truth? But who would believe that she had done this for the sake of others and not her own?
‘I am going to give you six strokes,’ continued Miss Brinkley, quite ignoring the plea. ‘And, as you are probably aware, girls at Chartley are always caned on their bare behind.’
The governor raised his eyebrows slightly. He had expected rather more strokes than that in view of the nature of the case. Still it wasn’t as bad as smoking or drinking or stealing. Also, the girl was rather young, even if she didn’t exactly look it. Mostly puppy-fat, of course.
Miss Brinkley came round to the front of the desk. ‘I shall cane you, Jane, whilst you bend over my desk…’
It was going to happen! It was going to! The impossible… and now made all the worse than one had imagined because he was there! Oh the terrible shame of it!
‘Remove your knickers, Jane, and come and bend over here.’ The cane tapped the chair not the desk. To her horror, out of the corner of her eye, she saw the Governor had a much clearer view of her if bent over the chair. It was unbelievable… how could she do that!
‘Unless,’ Miss Brinkley was saying in an icy voice, ‘you prefer to be expelled. This very day.’
‘No…ooo!’ It was an agonised denial from the heart. It would be too cruel to break their hearts. So she had to do it… somehow she had to. Shaking now, Jane put her hands up under her skirt and felt the elastic of her blue serge knickers. ‘Couldn’t I… please… just this once… because… I mean, couldn’t I keep…’ she stammered.
‘No, you may not,’ said the Head in that icy voice of hers. ‘And don’t try my patience, Jane, it’s on a very short fuse at the moment.’
There was no escape. The horror… the shaming horror… was here and now. With a sobbing groan, Jane pushed her knickers down to her knees, then felt them slide to her ankles. She stepped out of them. Again the cane tapped. ‘Bend, Jane…’
They had made Jane Grey bend, thought Jane Martin’s teetering mind, just before they executed her. She had recently finished doing the young queen’s short reign in History. That Jane had done it… and this wasn’t exactly execution.
Closing her eyes, gritting her teeth, Jane bent. ‘Oh… oh not h-hard… not t-too… hard,’ she begged as the tip of the cane pushed her skirt up high.
Shouldering his responsibilities the governor looked contemplatively at a pair of plump, tight-pressed thighs and a pair of plump, tight-clenched buttocks. However, for all the pressing and clenching, tufts of dark girlish down did little to conceal girlish charms. Yes… she was a big girl but would certainly fine down later into a nicely curvaceous one.
Jane heard the short, sharp whistle of the descending cane… then she felt it. It was far more painful than her imagination had let her believe. And that had been painful enough. In an instant she was up off the chair hands clasping frantically at the red-hot wire which seemed to have been fastened over her flesh. Twisting, turning, she performed a kind of involuntary war-dance up and down in front of Miss Brinkley’s desk… gasping out disbelievingly as she did so. The governor was impressed. Not only by the sights and sounds evoked but by the evidence of how remarkably and effectively punishing a simple piece of willow could be.
‘Noo… no… I can’t stand it…’
‘Bend over again, Jane.’
‘I can’t… oh I can’t…
‘Bend over, Jane. I won’t tell you again.’
Somehow… she never knew how… Jane Martin made herself bend again and even as her bottom was twisting, flinching away in dread, a second red-hot wire was laid about an inch below the first.
‘Yyyeee…oooo…www…’ Once again the governor was treated to a war-dance of pain as Jane cavorted uncontrollably before the desk. The fact that she was displaying herself before a stranger — a middle-aged man — had become of minimal importance. Her whole being was absorbed by the pain… the pain… the pain! And the most intense desire for it to diminish.
‘I can’t b-bear any more… I simply c-can’t.’
‘Jane… haven’t you any spirit… any pride?’
‘I just can’t h-help it… oooh… it hurts so… no more…’
‘Jane, there are still four more to come.’
‘No… no… not f-four… just one… one would be enough.’
‘Four, Jane. Governor, I think, in order that we can proceed, you should hold this girl’s wrists.’
‘Very well, Head, whatever you wish.’
Frankly, the Governor would have preferred to be in his previous position — but duty came first. Miss Brinkley surveyed the twisting bottom before her with some satisfaction. There were girls who could take a cane and girls who couldn’t. Jane Martin was definitely one of the latter. There was no doubt in Miss Brinkley’s mind that the girl would never give cause to be sent to her study again. Thus, once again, proving the benefits a cane could bring when applied at an appropriate time.
Unhurriedly, she completed the caning she had promised, with the governor struggling hard to hold down those jerking arms, and Jane screeching her throat hoarse as the willow bit remorselessly into her soft flesh. Flesh utterly inexperienced at enduring such deep-searing pain.
‘You may now replace your knickers, Jane.’
Blind with tears, on her knees, striving to cope with those incessant-stinging stripes across her bottom, Jane found it difficult to carry out the permit granted. Only slowly, sobbing and sobbing, did she finally manage to get her feet through the holes in that blue serge and pull up…up…up. And, ooohhh, how that hurt too! Her skin seemed to have shrunk. But, at last, they were up and fitting snugly. At least, that was one kind of shame disposed of.
‘Well, Jane, I don’t imagine you’ll ever do anything like that again.’ Miss Brinkley was behind her desk once more and had replaced the cane in a drawer. ‘Am I correct?’
‘Mmmm… mmmfff… no… M-Miss… I n-never will…’
‘Good. I am glad to hear it. You have disgraced the school. On the other hand, you have paid for that. We will say no more about it. Your uncle and aunt will hear nothing of this.’
‘O-ooohh… mmmff… th-thank you, Miss… thank you. I…I’m so… sorry, Miss…truly…’
‘That’s good. I like a girl who is repentant. You may go now, Jane.’
Jane Martin wanted to run to that mahogany door. To get out of that awful room for ever and ever! But she didn’t run. That would have hurt too much. She walked slowly and stiffly, wincing at every step.
‘Sorry we had to go through that charade about your being a governor, Mr Drinkwater, but I think it eased matters.
‘I quite agree,’ beamed the Headmistress of Chartley Hall’s guest. Without doubt, he was the wealthiest of all parents of resident pupils. Outside, in a forecourt, a chauffeur-driven Rolls waited patiently. ‘But she did lead my daughter from the paths of righteousness.’ Mr Drinkwater had not only made millions from the manufacture of ‘surgical goods’, he was a Baptist.
‘Yes, quite so. It was only right that you should witness that girl get the correction she merited.’
The fact that Jane Martin’s guardians were as poor as church-mice and this oily entrepreneur had oodles might have been a factor in this little affair. Miss Brinkley, however, did not let that cross her mind. She smiled.
‘By the way, Mr Drinkwater. If there are other occasions when you feel you ought to witness justice done…’
‘Yes… mmm… yes, Miss Brinkley?’
‘Well, we could actually make you a governor, you know.’
‘Is that so. Mmmm… I think I could take on the responsibility.’
‘It’s just that we’re opening a new fund. For a chapel, you understand?’Mr Drinkwater was already taking out his cheque book.