A Girl Caned

As Margaret Smith made her way along the corridor leading to her office, she immediately noticed Jennifer Haskins, a dark-haired sixteen-year-old girl from the fifth form, waiting outside. The deputy headmistress quickly glanced at her watch. It was twenty-five past three, and the girl was early.

‘Presumably didn’t want to be late,’ the senior mistress told herself as she smiled inwardly.

“Jennifer,” Margaret Smith said as she reached the girl and unlocked the door to her office. “Come in.”

A brief wave of Miss Smith’s hand signified the girl should stand in front of the large desk while the deputy headmistress sat behind it.

“So, what have you been up to, Jennifer?” The question was somewhat unnecessary, because they both knew the girl had been sent to Miss Smith by the games and gym mistress, Mrs Howarth, for blatant rudeness.

When Jennifer didn’t answer, Miss Smith continued.

“Mrs Howarth tells me you disobeyed her instructions. Is that correct, Jennifer?” “Well, sort of, miss.”

“Care to tell me what happened, from your perspective, Jennifer?”

“Well, Mrs Howarth told me to stand behind the vaulting horse and catch the girls as they jumped over it, so they didn’t fall over.”

“Yes, standard practice, so I believe.”

“Yes, but the girls who successfully jumped over and landed safely on their feet didn’t like me grabbing them when there was no need. So they told me not to touch them. Then, Mrs Howarth saw what I was doing and told me off. I made sure the other girls were safe, really I did.”

“But that meant disobeying Mrs Howarth, didn’t it?”

“Yes, miss. I just felt I couldn’t win. If I did one thing, then the girls moaned at me. If I did the other, then Mrs Howarth complained. When I tried to explain, Mrs Howarth shouted at me, so I shouted back.”

For several moments, the senior mistress and the sixteen-year-old looked at each other.

Margaret Smith, thirty-nine-years-old, dressed in a navy-blue skirt-suit, was not unsympathetic towards the sixteen-year-old girl, but knew she had to support her fellow staff member.

“I do see your predicament, Jennifer, but you should have obeyed your teacher, even if that meant upsetting your fellow classmates.”

“Yes, miss. I see that now. Sorry, miss.”

“I’d suggest writing a note of apology to Mrs Howarth, Jennifer.”

“Yes, miss.”

“Which leaves us with what to do with you. You were disobedient to a member of staff, Jennifer, and you used language that was rude and discourteous.”

“Yes, miss. Sorry, miss.”

Jennifer looked down at the floor to avoid eye contact, aware the senior mistress was looking straight at her. In the next few moments, Jennifer was going to learn her punishment, and she feared the worst.

“Jennifer, I really have little choice.”

Jennifer suddenly felt hot and sweaty. She knew, just knew, she was about to hear the very thing she so hoped to avoid. With tears forming in her eyes, she looked up at the deputy headmistress.

“Jennifer, I’m afraid I have to cane you.”

While sympathy was etched all across the senior mistress’s face, nonetheless she had delivered the very sentence Jennifer so dreaded, and seemed resolute it was going to be carried out. Jennifer was certain nothing she could say now would sway Miss Smith towards any alternative, and so she said nothing and simply nodded her head slowly.

Miss Smith immediately took that as a sign of acceptance and so almost jumped to her feet. She turned away and crossed over to a tall cupboard with twin opening doors. Within moments she had extracted a slender cane made of yellowish rattan, measuring no more than twenty-four inches in length and having the thickness of her little finger.

As she returned to where the sixteen-year-old stood watching, Miss Smith asked simply, “Are you right or left handed, Jennifer?”

“Right handed, miss,” Jennifer rasped almost inaudibly, her throat suddenly dry.

The deputy headmistress understood fully how the girl must be feeling at this moment and didn’t want to cause her more distress than was absolutely necessary. She searched carefully for the right words.

“I’m sorry, Jennifer, but this needs to be done. Hold your left hand out, palm uppermost, please.”

Jennifer said nothing in response. She also knew the decision had been made, the decision that was virtually inevitable. They both now had to perform their respective roles until the punishment had been administered. She slowly raised her left arm and offered up her left palm.

“Try to stretch your thumb down so I can apply the cane accurately across your palm, please Jennifer.”

From Miss Smith’s position, Jennifer knew the cane would strike her hand from side to side, so it was in her own best interests that she force her thumb as low as possible and keep it out of the way.

“That’s good, Jennifer. Now, can you just lower your hand to about waist height, please?”

The girl had been holding her arm out more in line with her shoulder, so she had to lower her hand by some fourteen inches to comply. The adjustment made, she became aware of Miss Smith looking her directly in the eye.


“Yes, miss,” came the almost inaudible response.

Immediately, the deputy headmistress raised the cane and whipped it back down across the girl’s palm with a sharp thwack that resonated around the room.

“Aaahhh!!” Jennifer cried out, and clasped her left palm in her right hand to try and mitigate the severe pain she clearly felt.

Miss Smith calmly stood by and allowed the girl time to recover from the blow.

After two or three minutes had passed with Jennifer continuing to nurse her injured hand, the senior mistress quietly said, “Okay, Jennifer, hold your hand out again, please.”

With tears now trickling down her cheeks, Jennifer slowly offered her palm for the next strike.

Miss Smith quickly raised the cane up high and brought it sharply down onto the girl’s small palm.


For a second time, Jennifer immediately buried her sore palm in her right hand and rubbed for all she was worth. She was allowed several more minutes while she tried to soothe away the hurt.

“Just one more to go, Jennifer,” Miss Smith suggested quietly, hinting that the girl should now volunteer her palm for the final stroke.

“C-can I h-have another few m-moments, miss?” Jennifer stuttered through floods of tears.

“Of course. It’s really quite painful, isn’t it?”

“Y-yes, m-miss.”

“It might be better to take the final stroke and get it over with, Jennifer,” Miss Smith suggested gently.

“Yes, miss.”

Jennifer reluctantly held her arm out and offered her palm for the final strike. She found it difficult to hold her hand still, and closed her eyes so she wouldn’t have to watch.

Even though the girl’s hand was wavering, Miss Smith raised the cane, waited for the hand to be almost still, and quickly lashed the cane down across the tender and already bruised hand.

“Aaaaaaaaahhh!!!” Jennifer screamed even louder than before, as she attempted to comfort her sore and aching palm for a third time.

“All done,” Margaret Smith said, more to herself, as she turned and went back to the cupboard to restore the cane to its usual resting place. “Here’s some tissues,” she added as she took a box from the top drawer of her desk.

“T-thank you, m-miss.”

Miss Smith helped with cleaning away some of the tears from Jennifer’s eyes and face, and even held the girl in her arms to calm her down.

“Come on now, you’ve only had three whacks. It’s not the end of the world, is it? How is your hand now?”

“Sore,” Jennifer replied, and held her left palm out for inspection.

They could both see three clear red lines stretching right across the otherwise pale flesh-coloured palm, each line little more than a quarter inch from its neighbour.

“Now, you were quite wrong to behave towards Mrs Howarth as you did, Jennifer. But you’ve taken your punishment and the matter is over, although I’d still suggest a small note of apology to Mrs Howarth would be a good idea.”

“Yes, miss.”

“Learn from this, Jennifer. I don’t want to have to punish you again. Okay?”

“Yes, miss.”

“Off you go then.”

The End

© Kenny Walters 2024