“God, it has been a hard week! It has been such a long wait since Saturday!” Emily Winters said. “Is the Meyers really back on Thursday evening? With her mother so ill, she might well not be. But anyway, Thursday is tomorrow, isn’t it? So the balloon will go up on Friday. It will be such a relief to get it out of the way, whatever it is she decides.”

“I am pretty sure that if she listens to Greenie it will be marching orders. Smoking in a cafe in town in school uniform will be regarded as completely beyond the pale, and Greenie caught us red-handed. We are going to get the sack, beyond a shadow of doubt. I just wish that I didn’t have to wait nearly a week to know for sure,” Susan Atkinson, generally known as Suzy, said rather wearily with the air of one who knows that the walk to the scaffold is nigh.

“Oh Suzy, you always exaggerate! There are not that many girls in the Lower Sixth this year. Why sack three of the cleverer ones over a few cigarettes, though I suppose she just might. An example to the rest of the school and all that. But with luck it will be a lecture till the tears start rolling, though even that will not be at all nice. And the cane, thank god, is not at all likely now we are in the Sixth Form,” Alison Beale proclaimed.

“Yes, even a lecture will be pretty bad, coming from the Meyers,” Emily said in a voice of despair. “Anyway, she will be in a terrible mood because her mother’s so ill. It won’t help at all.”

“Well, you should know about her lectures, Em. You were always getting them in the Fourth Form, not to mention all that washing-up in the Staff Room and the odd swishing,” Suzy said broodily.

“You will be alright, Suzy. You have always been the good girl,” Emily replied almost maliciously. “Just promise to be good and not do it again and you will be fine, Suzy. But me, I am not going to be let off with a lecture and a bit of washing-up. I will be sent straight home; and when I get home it will be straight over daddy’s knee for a jolly good spanking. Even if the Meyers just tells me off, she will put it in my report. That is almost worse than the spanking. It is so humiliating. And even if she doesn’t sack me, I reckon I will get the cane again, even in the Sixth. I wonder if I will keep my knickers on this time? I did last time, just about.”

“Well, you should know, Em!” Suzy said dryly. “If you act sensibly you don’t have to get punished. I have never been told off, let alone spanked, though there is always a first time, I suppose.”

“And yet they were your cigarettes, Suzy,” Alison said thoughtfully.

“No they were not, they were Em’s!” Suzy snapped indignantly.

“Yes, of course they were, and I will have to take the heat. Of course I will,” Em said hurriedly.

“Yet, suppose for a minute those cigarettes were Suzy’s,” Alison mused. “She has always been the apple of the Meyers’ eye and she has never been in trouble, not even once. If she says it was all her idea and how sorry she is and what a dreadful mistake it was, who knows, the Meyers might be merciful and let us off with just a short talking to, not even a long lecture. And only Emily has been done for smoking before, though we have all done it, so Suzy might well get away with saying she was the one who bought the cigarettes and led everyone on to smoke them.”

“The Meyers is nobody’s fool and it could get Suzy into an awful lot of trouble if it goes wrong. Really, I don’t think you should do it, Suzy. You really could get the sack. And Alison, you ought to know better than to suggest it; it is just not fair to Suzy! She might well get quite a caning, even if she does not get sacked,” Emily exclaimed.

“But I think I want to do it,” Suzy said decisively. “Alison is perfectly right. If I confess all and sound terribly contrite, there is a fair chance that the Meyers will put it down to Midsummer madness, even though it is not Midsummer, and let us all off scot-free, or just give us a small punishment or a lecture.

“But Em, if you try to take the heat the furies will descend out of heaven and you will almost certainly get expelled. The headmistress does not love Aeschylus for nothing. I know you have never done anything really bad, but you have a long record. You have been done for owning cigarettes before, and the Meyers has never liked you that much, and you are the only one in our year to have had the cane more than once. The last time was quite hard and I dread to think what would happen this time, even if you stay in the school. Please let me do it Em.”

There was a distinct pause and then Em said, “That is really noble of you, Suzy, but feel free to back out at any time before we get interviewed. But I am very grateful, Suzy.”

“Right, that’s settled,” Alison cut in before anyone could change their mind. “But we had better get our story straight, girls, we really had. We don’t want it to end with us not being sacked, but the Meyers getting the cane out for all of us. She could just do that, even though we are Seniors, and that would not be nice either. No, we need a good innocent story, girls. It has got to sound right.”

“But the cane wasn’t too bad, it really wasn’t,” said Em. “If she did it again it wouldn’t be the end of the world.”

“Oh, tell it to the Marines,” Suzy snapped, sounding quite cross. “You were quite upset, I remember that. And you had three horrible angry marks on your bottom. No, it was not nice at all. Alison’s scheme is much more sensible.”

“Oh, I suppose so,” Em replied dubiously. “But I do have my doubts.”


Miss Julia Meyers, head mistress and proprietor of the Castle Hall School for Girls, was in a sad mood as she got out of her taxi quite late on that Thursday evening. Her mother’s body was painfully and obviously failing from the serious lung condition that had remorselessly worsened over the previous eighteen months, and yet her brain was as active as ever.

Julia had rather hoped, though she kept telling herself that the very thought was unkind, that her mother would pass away peacefully while she was there, but she could not leave her school for that long, and the doctor had assured her that there was some while to go and said very gently she ought to go and come back in a few days, or possibly a week. He or the nursing home would phone her immediately if the situation worsened suddenly.

And yet she felt extremely guilty and for no obvious reason started thinking of the time that she had watched her best friend, Anne Blake, presenting the seat of her navy blue knickers for four very sharp swishes of the cane. Anne had got extremely worked up and cried her eyes out, and her bum had wriggled in the oddest fashion. Then it had been her own turn, and she had been scared stiff after watching Anne’s punishment. And even more scared as she bent over and felt her knickers tighten. But then, total farce! Julia had been the headmistress’s pet and she had been let off with three very mild swishes that had stung, but not done much more than that, though she had yelled rather ridiculously more or less for the principle of the thing.

Why, she wondered, did the memory of Anne’s swishing and the memory of those horrible welts when they had compared their marks still do something for her? And why did she still feel extremely guilty that she had not had the same severe punishment? She had not seen Anne for over twenty years. It was ridiculous. And why in heaven’s name did she feel she ought to have the cane for wanting mother to die and get it over with? For her mother to be spared her present agony and pass peacefully on from this world was not an unreasonable wish.

As Julia walked the few yards from the taxi to the small cottage that was her own domain in the school, she found her mother’s words echoing round her brain. ‘You ought to have someone besides me, Julia. You are always so alone.’ This she knew was true enough, but somehow headmistresses cannot be that close to anyone and she shrugged her shoulders with all the stoicism she had accumulated in her forty-eight years. Yet someone to kiss would be a great improvement. Mother was right, and not for the first time, but there was very little to be done about it.

She fumbled with the key and opened the front door. Then another fumble to find the light switch. She noticed various envelopes on the mat. Something from the tax office, which she ignored, and a letter in her brother’s handwriting, wanting no doubt yet again to begin the tidying up of her mother’s flat before she died, which she was not going to allow, and she had the keys, so he could stuff that. Both these she put on the hall table, unopened.

However, the third envelope had no stamps and was addressed in Margaret Green’s very distinctive italic writing. No doubt her Deputy Headmistress had something she thought her Headmistress needed to know before she came into school on Friday morning. Julia decided that 10 o’clock at night is not the best time to learn about a crisis, but on the other hand forewarned is forearmed, so she reluctantly took her coat off, put the kettle on while she did various other things, made a cup of tea, to which she added a dollop of whisky, and sat down in her front room.

She felt more able to cope with the world after the tea and whiskey, and she steeled herself to open the envelope, telling herself it was probably something very minor that Margaret thought she ought to know about. Margaret was a good deputy, but she was also rather apt to flap about relatively minor things.

However, when she read the letter her heart sank. Margaret had been in town on Saturday afternoon and had gone in to the Pirouette cafe by the harbour and to her horror had found Emily Winters, Alison Beale and Susan Atkinson smoking. And it was not just one cigarette, Margaret had added rather maliciously, for the ashtray was full. And Emily Winters especially had been more than a touch insolent and come close to saying what the girls did out of school, even in uniform, was nobody else’s concern. But none of the girls had been exactly contrite, even Susan Atkinson, who apparently had implied that it was the Deputy Headmistress who was being difficult.

Clearly, this was a serious matter and Margaret had accordingly left it for Julia to deal with on Friday morning, but in the circumstances she strongly recommended that all three girls should be expelled, not least because they had been extremely defiant and rude. But if the Headmistress did not accept the need for that then all three deserved to be caned. Emily Winters in particular had been very vehement and more or less said there was no reason she could not smoke when she was out of school, and Susan Atkinson had been maliciously insolent, whatever that meant.

Julia Meyers let fly a most unladylike series of expletives. Why in God’s name had a woman of Margaret Green’s intelligence not just ignored what the girls were doing and simply pirouetted out of the Pirouette Cafe without saying anything. These were three of her brightest girls, and they were all eighteen now. Of course they were going to experiment with smoking. And she was particularly fond of Suzy Atkinson, who was both pretty and sensible, which was an unusual combination. Emily Winters had frequently been very naughty lower down the school, and she remembered with just a touch of guilt the real pleasure of caning that naughty little minx on the three occasions she had been forced to the point of carrying out the threat, but now she was flowering into something rather interesting. Alison Beale was somehow less interesting than the other two, might make a decent Elementary school teacher, but was quite bright none the less.

And it did not help that she knew Margaret, who had more than a touch of the catty about her, was jealous of Suzie Atkinson because Suzie was the apple of her headmistress’s eyes. Undoubtedly Margaret would take a quite unholy pleasure in the thought of Suzie departing for the station with her tail between her legs, or reaching for her toes with her skirts up on her back. Quite possibly the thought of the Headmistress’s pet in dire trouble was a lot of what was really behind all this. Something told her that Margaret would have loved the pleasure of marching Suzie to her study and caning her for insolence, but fortunately the cane was the preserve of the Headmistress.

And yet it was very hard on Suzy and her two friends that they had been forced to wait a week to be punished.

And what to do with the culprits was very hard to know. Perhaps it would have been better if Margaret had caned the guilty trio immediately.

But anyway, Julia reflected wryly it was up to her to sort it out, even though she was not at all sure she wanted to. Since older girls were involved, there would have to be tedious discussions with parents before she could cane them, if she did go down that road. The governors, unfortunately, had landed her with that rule.

And what would she do if two fathers said yes to the cane and the third refused? It would be very hard on the third girl to expel her. And there again did the girls really deserve to be expelled, especially the very naughty Emily Winters with her awful record of misbehaviour?

Margaret had undoubtedly been angry when she wrote the letter, but it did sound as if the three girls’ behaviour had been pretty awful. At some schools they would have been gated for the rest of the year, of course, but she never liked that because it went on so long and in her view girls did their school work better if they were allowed out in to town.

However, Julia thought it would all have to be dealt with. She ground her teeth quite literally, but she was also almost asleep and, rather surprisingly, she did the sensible thing, poured herself another small whiskey and put herself to bed, where she slept surprisingly well in the circumstances.


“Oh, and I wish to see Susan Atkinson, Emily Winters and Alison Beale in my study immediately after Assembly,” Miss Meyers’ solid yet not inelegant figure stated from the stage at the front of the school hall.

This was the last of the notices for the day and Suzy, up in the balcony at the top of the hall with the other older girls who were not prefects, shivered slightly. Half of her felt deeply ashamed for having let down her headmistress, who had always been extremely kind to her, but the other half felt more than a touch rebelliously that she was too old not to be allowed to smoke.

“I really thought after all this time she might have just let it go,” Alison Beale whispered.

‘No, not the Meyers, that is not her style, but I suppose she might take the time we have had to wait into account when she decides what our punishment is going to be. She is usually horribly fair,” Emily stated on the basis of bitter experience.

“But not with Greenie pushing her!” Alison added a touch abrasively.

Assembly was dismissed and the girls in the balcony began to sidle out.

The three girls instinctively paused at the top of the stairs that led down to the school office and the Headmistress’s study, and let the rest of the Upper School flow round them to their various classrooms.

“I still think we should admit it was me who bought the wretched things and say how sorry we are. She will almost certainly cane me and quite possibly you two as well, but it is better than denying it all and us all getting sacked,” Emily said, continuing the argument of the previous evening. “Really, a swishing is not that bad.”

“Don’t be silly Em!” Alison retorted. “We settled all this. Suzy takes the heat for buying the cigarettes and leading us on, and we say we are terribly sorry and should not have let Suzy lead us on. She won’t sack Suzy or cane her, because she is her favourite. And if she lets Suzy off, then she cannot punish us that hard, can she? Come on, its fool proof. Let’s get it over with.”

Alison is right, it is much the safest way, Em,” Suzy said quietly, but firmly. “If we say it was you, she might just sack you after all the run-ins you have had with her.”

“Oh, I suppose so,” said Emily dubiously, and led the way down the stairs.

Suzy, walking behind her friend, felt an odd sense of relief that at least this horrible waiting was coming to an end. It had been all but a week, hadn’t it, and she had not had a lot of sleep between wondering what her parents would say if she was expelled and worrying about how much the cane would hurt if she was not expelled. It had not helped that it was the first time in her whole school career that she had been in trouble. But at least soon it would be over.


Julia Meyer found herself looking almost pityingly at the three culprits who were standing in front of her desk, hands behind their backs. They were all wearing the white blouse, red striped tie and fawn pleated skirts that Sixth Formers normally wore. Emily was pretty well normal height, Suzy taller with long, pretty legs and Alison was petite. Emily had her black hair in pigtails, Alison had her curly auburn locks up in a bun and Susan had her red hair over shoulders. Red hair was supposed to indicate a tendency to tantrums, wasn’t it? And yet she had never known Susan throw a tantrum. This was really a very decent well-behaved creature, unlike Emily who had a dreadful record, though she was fond of Emily. And Alison, well she had barely thought about Alison. Her mind then drifted inconveniently and painfully to her mother struggling with her breath in a nursing home bed and she had some trouble not bursting in to tears.

“Now girls,” Julia said eventually, trying to sound brisker than she felt. “The version I have from Miss Green is this. She went into the Pirouette cafe and found all three of you puffing away on cigarettes, with evidence in the ash tray that you had already smoked a number of them. Is that correct?”

“Yes, Miss Meyers, I am afraid that is right,” Suzy said. “And I am afraid it was all my fault. My Uncle had sent me a ten shilling postal order and it seemed too good to miss, so we used it to buy the cigarettes. Alison and I have never smoked and we wanted to try it out. It really was all my idea, Miss.”

“And Emily, of course, has been caned for smoking on a previous occasion after a number of warnings,” Julia found herself saying, more than a touch astringently.

She noticed that all three girls shivered slightly at that and looked scared. Clearly none of them liked the idea of being caned.

“Well, the smoking is bad enough,” Julia said very firmly. “But I am in a way more worried about the fact that Emily seems to have been extremely insolent to Miss Green and said that you had a perfect right to smoke out of school. Is that what was actually said, Emily?”

“I am sorry to butt in, Miss,” Suzy exclaimed. “But Miss Green must have remembered it slightly wrong. It was me who said that, I know it was.”

This intrigued Julia. There was something just a bit odd about the way that Suzy said it. However, perhaps the oddness was because it was the first time Suzy had been in trouble in her school career and she was feeling self-conscious about it.

“Well, it is good of you to set the record straight, Susan,” the Headmistress responded. “But why on earth did you say it? You are responsible enough and sensible enough to know the havoc that would ensue in this school if the rules on smoking were to break down.”

“I don’t know, Miss. I just said it,” Suzy said. “I know you are right, of course.”

Butter would not melt in the girl’s very pretty and kissable mouth, Julia thought, but it was difficult, not to say inconvenient, to say Suzy was lying. Once she started on that track of accusing the girl of lying, she would have to think about expelling her cleverest and indeed nicest pupil, for whom she had high hopes. But there was a fair chance Emily was the real culprit and Suzy was rather foolhardily covering for her best friend.

“Emily, did you definitely not say this to Miss Green, or something like it?” Julia said, thinking that if anyone had to be expelled she would much prefer it to be Emily.

“I think I backed Suzy up a little bit, Miss Meyers,” Emily said, and again Julia had this odd feeling that she was not being told the whole truth, and just possibly it was better that way.

“I said something very similar to Emily, Miss. I did not think I could just leave Suzy to take all the heat,” Alison cut in, again sounding far too innocent in her Headmistress’s opinion.

“I did not ask for your version, Miss Beale!” Julia said with some exasperation.

She found it trying that the three girls were backing one another up so convincingly, but it was not impossible that Margaret Green had simply not remembered the course of the conversation accurately.

But on the other hand, she could remember seeing three of her own pals smoke for the first time and they had definitely found it an ordeal. Anne Blake had gone quite green. Poor Anne! Miss Rogers had walked in and they had all had the cane, and poor Anne had received quite a lashing, simply because her headmistress did not like her. She wondered how Liz Smith, who had been fourth in the queue, had felt. It had been quite frightening enough going second and watching Anne’s punishment.

But anyway, the chances were that Suzy and Alison were lying about it being their first experiment with smoking, for they had each had more than one cigarette, hadn’t they?

“You must be lying to some extent, girls, because there seems to have been a lot of ash in the ashtray. And if it had been your first attempt at smoking a cigarette then you would not have felt like more than one, let me assure you,” Julia said, trying not to laugh.

There was a silence and three faces seemed to turn down toward the floor.

“Well, it was almost my first time, and I think it was almost Alison’s first one as well,” Suzy said, recovering quite quickly in the circumstances, for which her headmistress gave her some credit.

However, it was time to make a decision about what to do with these girls.

“I am going to have to think this through, girls. Would you please go and stand outside my door till I call you,” Julia stated rather ceremonially, sighing a little as she said it.

“Are we going to be caned, please Miss?” Alison said with a distinct tremor in her voice.

“You will have to wait and find out, won’t you, Alison Beale?” Julia said. “I really have not made up my mind yet. And I do not want to hear too much chattering outside my door, girls. Now get off with you.”


At first the instruction to remain silent had been obeyed, but after nearly twenty minutes of quiet angst, the girls suddenly started to chatter in whispers.

“What is keeping her? It is one wait after another,” Suzy said. “This is really getting to me. If she is going to cane us, I wish she would just get on with it.”

“She is probably ringing our fathers. I know there is a Governors’ rule that she has to do that with older girls, though goodness knows why,” Emily suggested. “She told me that when I got the cane in the Fifth Form, that if I got the cane in the Sixth Form she would have to ring my dad. I think she knows I get spanked at home if I get punished at school, and I think she was almost apologising in advance.”

“Well at least you know what it is like, Em. Is it three times you’ve had it?” Alison whispered.

“Yes, one on each hand twice in the Fourth Form and four on my knickers in the Fifth Form. That was for smoking, so I bet I get more than four now.”

“I am sure it was three,” said Suzy. “I saw the marks straight after.”

“No, two marks were more or less on top of one another. That was the bit that swelled. Anyway, it is not that bad. It hurts at the time, but you get over it pretty soon.”

“Which was the worst, hands or bum?” Alison asked.

“Oh, probably bum. Certainly it bruised worst, but I was so scared the first time and it really stings your hands.”

The door opened and the three girls turned towards it with some dread.

“Susan,” Miss Meyers said. “I would be grateful if you would come and talk to your father a minute. He is on the phone and wants to talk to you.”

The door closed.

“Poor Suzy! She could get expelled if he won’t let her be caned,” Emily whispered.

“I am not sure if that is good or bad,” Alison replied.


Suzy felt slightly shaky as she picked up the receiver. She glanced out of the corner of her eye at Miss Meyers, who had had moved to the other side of the room and was kindly making a pretence of staring out of the window. Miss Meyers had an odd prettiness from that angle, she decided. Not like when you were young and beautiful, but very attractive.

“Yes, Dad,” Suzy said, for want of anything else to say.

“Susan, I have never known you be really rude or difficult in your entire life, and this sounds most unlike you. Were you really the ring leader in this idiotic episode? You are not covering for Emily, are you? I know you two girls are fond of one another.”

“No Dad, it really was me, I am afraid,” Suzy replied, feeling something of the glory of a martyr.

“Well, you don’t have to accept the caning that appears to be the only thing on offer. It seems quite harsh to me, though some sort of punishment is clearly very well deserved. You can just come home and we will find another school, and as far as I am concerned the matter will be forgotten as one of those things, though you won’t have any pocket money or treats for the next six months. With your record, I am sure we can find another school that will take you without any trouble.”

Suzy paused and wondered. She noticed Miss Meyers fine black eyes were looking slightly backwards over her shoulder.

“I think I would much rather be caned, if you don’t mind, Dad,” Suzy said rather awkwardly. “If I am sacked there is a chance that Em and Ally will be as well. And besides, once it is over it will be over, won’t it? Besides, I like it here, really.”

There was a distinct pause and then her father said, “Well, in the last resort it is your decision, Susan. I don’t agree with you. I don’t think you know what you are letting yourself in for.”

“Em’s had it in the past and lived,” Suzy said rather defensively.

“Yes, but your best friend is an altogether tougher creature than you are. Anyway, is that your final word, Susan?”

“Afraid so, Dad.”

“Oh well, on your own head be it. You had better hand me back to your headmistress and get some blotting paper down your knickers rapidly.”

“Will do, Dad. At least two sheets!”

“That’s my girl! Best of luck!”

Suzy gave the phone back to Miss Meyers and there was the briefest of conversations as it was agreed Suzy’s punishment was going to be the cane. Suzy, listening, felt a very odd mixture of sudden intense fear and a strange exhilaration that she did not know quite how to account for.

“What were you giggling about with your father?” Miss Meyers asked suddenly.

“Oh, he said I should get some blotting paper down my knickers, and I said at least two sheets,” Suzie stated rather brightly.

“I hope you are not going to do anything as silly as that. I would spot it immediately and it would add considerably to an already severe punishment. Now go and stand outside my door and wait to be caned. Since you are the ring leader, you will be punished last. I will call the other two in as I need them.”

Julia Meyers watched her long-legged favourite’s red hair disappear through the door before rather reluctantly getting out her largest cane, which was slightly over three feet long, very flexible and well oiled.


“Have you had it?” Alison whispered, rather unnecessarily.

“No, my dad just wanted to be sure that I did not prefer to go home instead. Now I’ve got to wait. I am the ring leader, so I am last for the chop it seems,” Suzy stated almost nonchalantly.

“Suzy, you are bathing a bit too much in the glory!’ Emily stated with a toss of her pigtails. “I don’t suppose you heard if she has talked to my Dad, have you?”

“She said you are both going to be caned, so I suppose she must have done.”

“Oh God, the spanking will be worse than the Meyers’ caning, I know it will,” Emily said with a shudder.

However, before anything else could be said the door opened and Alison was summoned.

“What happens?” Suzy whispered, realizing she had not the faintest idea and she was feeling more than slightly sick.

“Oh, she has a bit of a go at you, though nothing like what happens if you are not being whacked, which is the good thing,” Emily replied with a certain forced nonchalance. “Then she bends you over, she really likes you to literally touch your toes. Then she tucks the back of your skirt and your slip into the top of your knickers. Then she makes you wait a little while to get you scared. It didn’t really work with me. And then she canes you. She takes her time and I for one thought the worst bit was waiting for the next stroke. Somehow that seems forever, though it cannot be that long. And yes it hurts a lot.”

“Did you cry?”

“Yes, but only after the second stroke. And I didn’t yell, though I really wanted to open my mouth and scream.”

“Thanks!” Suzie said. “At least I will know what to expect!”

She imagined Alison’s small plump body doubled over and the cane poised to strike that surprisingly large and soft bum. Alison was all bum, she thought with a faint giggle.

Even as she thought it, there was a noise from the study and Alison screamed.

“I thought Ally would yell,” said Emily.

There followed two more heart-felt howls, which Suzy felt almost as much as if she had been the victim. Was Ally going to get the traditional six, she wondered? Poor Ally! But mercifully the yells ceased after three strokes, and three or four minutes later Alison staggered out looking in a state of total shock and crying her eyes out. Suzy began to wonder if she should have followed her father’s advice. Ally staggered off down the corridor without saying anything.

“Wish me luck!” said Emily with a certain sangfroid, which Suzy rather admired as they waited for the door to open.

“Oh, you will be all right,” said Suzy. “You’re used to it. It is me who is going to yell my head off. Oh God, what have I let myself in for? I am the ring leader, aren’t I? But it was my choice, I suppose.”

“You will be alright,” said Emily. “And whatever else happens I owe you, I really do, Suzy and I won’t forget it.”

The door opened and Emily went in, tossing her head rather haughtily. Suzy stood there and shook with fright. She had asked for this and now she was really going to get it. God! What an idiot she was.

The pause before Emily’s caning started was very brief. Then there was that noise twice. The third, fourth and fifth times, Emily really gave voice, which Suzy found incredibly frightening. She wanted to run away, but knew somehow she must stay there.

After the noises ceased, there was a pause of several minutes that seemed to go on forever.

The door opened. Emily came out sobbing uncontrollably and feeling her bottom.

“I did not think it could be any worse than last time, but it was, and I am on fire. Best of luck. She will know it’s your first time. I don’t suppose she will be too hard on you,” Emily somehow managed to say through her tears, though Suzy could barely make out what she was saying.

Then Emily was lumbering away down the corridor as if she was drunk.

Oddly, Suzy’s shivering ceased with the realization that the caning was finally really going to happen. What a horrible week it had been. What a wait it had been. She had worried so much about whether she was going to be caned, or expelled, or something totally different.

The dreaded door opened.

“Well, young lady, if there was anyone in this school I would not have expected to end up in this pickle, it is you,” Miss Meyers was saying with real anger. “Luckily for you, I have chosen to ignore my very strong suspicion that you covered for your best friend over this unfortunate episode, because like you I don’t want Emily to be expelled. Also, I am rather fond of you. Now, you will stand in front of my desk and then, when I tell you, but not before, you will reach for your toes, young lady. And then when you are in the correct position you are going to have six of the very best.”

Suzy hesitated. Should she bend over now? Em had said something about being bent over, hadn’t she?

“Bend over!”

Suzy felt a firm hand on her neck.

Clearly this was the moment. She bent over, feeling the hand on her neck pushing her down and down, but it was an awfully long way to her toes. Her legs were just too long.

“I think you are as far as you can go. Just stay where you are and hold your ankles, which will help to stop you making a fuss.”

In fact, she held her lower legs, just above her ankles and her white socks.

Then she felt her skirt and slip being pulled up at the back, and tucked into the top of her knickers, which she felt to be incredibly humiliating. She could feel herself blushing. Her grey knickers felt embarrassingly tight.

“Are you ready girl?”

“Yes, Miss Meyers.”

‘For what we are about to receive may the Lord make us truly thankful,’ Suzy said rather blasphemously to herself.

Swish! Whack! The first stroke hit the top of her thighs rather than her bottom and stung incredibly after a strange interval. She could almost feel the weal rise and there was a lot of moisture in her eyes. She wasn’t going to cry, was she?

Whack! The second stroke had hit the very bottom of her buttocks and it really hurt. She felt the tears roll and she could feel, to her considerable annoyance, that her tight knickers were working up into the gap between her buttocks.

The third and fourth strokes were low on her bottom and she moaned piteously as the cane lashed the bare flesh that the slipping knickers had left exposed. But she was not going to yell, was she? She gritted her teeth.

The fifth caught the same exposed area and, in spite of herself, she pleaded for the cane to hit her somewhere else.

This was ignored and the sixth stroke landed, if anything even harder in the same very painful area. Suzy started to feel very dizzy and totally out of control. She screamed, and went on screaming for some while.

When Suzy stopped feeling quite so dazed, she realized that she had somehow ended up face down on the floor and was clenching her knickers very hard indeed. She looked round the room and realized Miss Meyers was yet again standing by the window looking out. Presumably the headmistress did not want to embarrass her, which was kind. Suzy got to her feet, though she was still crying a lot, and pulled her skirts out of the top of her knickers. She looked round. At which point Miss Meyers also looked round.

“At least we have got that out of the way and we can forget about it,” said Miss Meyers, attempting to sound matter-of-fact and ignore the fact that she had found her pupil’s posterior far more attractive than she really should have done.

“Yes, at least it was quick, Miss, but I made such a fool of myself.”

“Not as much as I did the only time I had the cane!”

“What, you Miss? You had the cane? I would have thought you would have been much too good.”

The thought of her headmistress bent over for the cane distracted Suzy so much that she finally stopped crying.

“You mean I was a goody-goody, which I am afraid I was. I got done for smoking with some friends and we were very nearly expelled. My headmistress had very strong views about cigarettes. She thought they were the works of the devil. It really was the first and last time I have smoked, and indeed the first and last time I had the cane. I only had three and she didn’t do it that hard, but to my shame I yelled a lot more than you did just now. Anyway, I expect you want to go and clean yourself up after your ordeal.”

“Thank you, Miss. I am really grateful, Miss.”

“You will find cold cream helps quite a lot, or so my friends used to tell me. And assuming you are not too annoyed with me, could you fancy a cup of tea in my cottage about 4.30 or 5 tomorrow?”

“Yes, I would love a cup of tea, Miss. No hard feelings, Miss!”

Suzy limped out of the door, but Julia could not help thinking how attractive the girl was, even limping. Bent over, Suzy had looked oddly like Anne all those years ago, she decided. However, now it was time to grit her teeth, ring the Nursing Home and find out how her mother was. Quite possibly, she would not even be here for this civilised cup of tea.

The End

© Jane Fairweather 2016