“Not far to the school now, girls!”
She repeated it rather playfully in French, fully aware none of the other girls would know if she was saying any more than she already had in English. However because of her mother and several months a year in France, she spoke the language perfectly. Lorraine Alexander, generally known as Lorry, was as usual taking the lead. Her four companions took the hint (though a little puzzled by the French) and put on the red schoolgirl berets they had stuffed in their blazer pockets. Peta and Liz, who had rather daringly removed their red striped school ties, hastened to put them back on. Lorry, Sheila, and Wendy, who had merely slackened their obnoxious neck gear, tightened them up again.
They had enjoyed a pleasant summer afternoon’s walk on their half day. They had wandered through spreading beech trees and green meadows up to the high chalk ridge that ran for miles above the school before descending into a valley and wood, and making a small picnic fire on which they toasted some sausages that Lorry had begged off the school cook. Altogether it had been rather a pleasant afternoon. She could still taste the wood smoke and the sausages. And she could also taste the mouth of that very nice boy from St. Donald’s. She thought she had heard one of the other boys call him Jerry, but she was not quite sure.
Somehow the surreptitiousness of the occasion had made everyone keep their names to themselves. Peta’s brother had arranged it with Peta, who was Lorry’s best friend and was quite as daring as she was. The boys had turned up on time (unusual for boys, thought Lorry) and enjoyed the sausages; and then there had been a rather pleasant and shameless couple of hours with each boy taking a girl off into the wood somewhere. Had any of them done more than kissing, she wondered? She would have liked to have removed at least some clothes with Jerry, but he had been quite shocked when she suggested it. Still, he had a lovely mouth and his blond hair was gorgeous to stroke, even if he was just a little bit shy. By hook or by crook she was going to see Jerry again, if that was what he was called.
“Better suck some mints, girls! We would not want them asking questions about our breath,” Lorry announced, producing a paper bag from her pocket, something she usually did when they had been smoking, though today it was wood smoke and sausages.
Everyone took the proffered peppermints with a certain air of ritual. Lorry wondered to herself if she was being ridiculous. A walk in the country was innocent enough and Miss Todd, their headmistress, believed in giving her girls (especially her senior girls) as much independence as they could cope with and positively encouraged long walks into the surrounding countryside. However, Lorry was not sure that Miss Todd’s tolerance would extend to lighting fires in a wood in the middle of a hot dry summer. Indeed she was not that sure they ought to have lit that fire, though they had been very thorough about stamping out the ashes. Indeed Jerry had been almost too vigorous and accidentally kicked some embers outside the circle of stones. Anyway, if the smell of the wood smoke and sausages was less obvious because of the mints, then hopefully there was less chance of awkward questions.
And then of course there were the boys. If that came out, all hell would break loose. She had an odd inner vision of Jerry’s rather small buttocks in their grey flannels presenting themselves in the general direction of the ceiling waiting for a big cane to descend. She wondered why she thought of that with something approaching pleasure. She did not exactly remember the time she herself had endured Miss Todd’s cane with any great pleasure. A stroke of the cane on each hand hurt. She had got it for flicking a pea and catching the teacher in charge of their dinner table in the face. She really had not meant that wretched pea to go anywhere in particular. She even quite liked Tommo, the mistress she had accidentally offended enough to send her to the headmistress for the cane. And she had tried to explain that to the head. However, Miss Todd had been at her most formal and icy. It was a question of the respect in which all teachers should be held by their pupils; and out had come the cane. It was not a very pleasant memory. Still, with luck history would not repeat itself, though it was hard to forget the agony of that first stroke. It really had hurt.
Sunday morning assembly was always much more elaborate than on weekdays with at least three hymns, numerous prayers, and a too-long sermon by a retired vicar who Miss Todd unfortunately thought rather too much of. Lorry distracted herself as usual by gazing at the lovely old stained glass in the school chapel windows. The light seemed especially beautiful this Sunday morning and for some reason it made her think of Jerry’s face, if he really was called Jerry, which Peta annoyingly did not know.
One of the few virtues of Sunday assembly was that there were usually no notices, so when Miss Todd stood up after the final hymn, Lorry assumed it was to dismiss the assembly.
However, Miss Todd looked majestically from side to side across the chapel from the small stage at the front and announced: “I wish to see the following gals immediately after this assembly in my office: Lorraine Alexander, Peta Smith, Elizabeth Jones-Thomas, Wendy Fulford, and Sheila Ellis. The rest of you are dismissed.”
“It must be about Wednesday half day and the boys!” said Peta with real panic in her voice. “We are going to be lucky not to be expelled.”
“She could be making us all prefects,” said Sheila.
“You girls, stop chattering,” came the irritable voice of Miss James.
“If we all stick together and admit to nothing, they won’t be able to do much,” said Lorry in a loud whisper.
“Lorraine Alexander, two hundred lines even if you are a sixth former: ‘I must not talk in assembly even after it is dismissed.’ I want them on my desk by tomorrow morning.”
“Yes, Miss James.”
There was no point in arguing with the old cow. Lorraine shrugged her shoulders. Two hundred lines was the least of her worries.
“You can now exit!” commanded Miss James.
After the school’s rather strange ritual, each line of girls was dismissed by marching out of the hall. Lorraine lifted her arms and began this ridiculous procedure. She normally found it very hard not to giggle, but today she felt too worried to even smile. If it was about the boys, why had it taken from Wednesday to bring it up?
As soon as they were out of the chapel, they were allowed to stop marching. Normally this was the beginning of a rather pleasant day, when you had a lot of freedom to do what you wanted, but now she felt incredibly worried. What had she got them into?
They moved as a group wondering aloud to themselves what was going on and stood outside the headmistress’s office, which was by itself down a small side corridor.
Miss Todd appeared. She was an imposing figure in her brown tweeds, quite tall for a woman, but scarcely narrow across. She opened the door and led them into her office.
“Shut the door, would you please, Sheila Ellis.”
Sheila, who was nearest the door, obliged. Miss Todd sat herself down at her desk, smoothing her skirts down under her as she did it. She opened a hard-backed exercise book that was on her desk. Lorraine tried hard to think what this could be. Miss Todd quietly lifted her head and gazed at them through her very round glasses.
Then she remarked, “I see from the exit book that you all went for a walk up on the down on Wednesday afternoon. I hope it was pleasant?”
They all vaguely murmured assent.
“It was very sunny as I remember. It must have been a lovely walk. Unfortunately there was a fire in a wood very close to where you must have gone, which got into a barn and destroyed it; and it seems to be believed that this very destructive blaze was started deliberately. I am not sure the evidence for the fire being started deliberately is very good and I do doubt if any of you gals would have done it deliberately, though you are undoubtedly capable of being stupid enough to start it accidentally.
“However, the farmer who lost his barn happened to see a group of gals in a uniform that looked very like ours (though he was not absolutely certain), moving away from that area no more than twenty minutes before the fire got going. He informed the police about it and I have had several visits from them.
“Now I gather from cook that someone, she is curiously uncertain who, borrowed some sausages from her on Wednesday afternoon. Moreover, according to the exit book, nobody else went for a walk up on the down on Wednesday. In fact I have to say you would be all ‘banged to rights,’ to use the ridiculous jargon of modern cheap detective novels, if I were to tell the police all that I know.
“However, I have quite shamelessly lied on your behalf. I have said I do not know of any girls from my school who were up on the down last Wednesday afternoon and that the exit book contains no such entry. If I had not done that, I am pretty certain that you gals would have been in front of the magistrates with all the pain and embarrassment that would have caused to your parents, let alone the consequences for the rest of your lives, you stupid creatures! I cannot imagine how you could have done anything so incredibly silly and so potentially damaging to yourselves and your school.
“However, because I have lied on your behalf and I believe you almost certainly did not do this deliberately, it most certainly does not mean that I feel you should escape punishment for your idiotic mistake, which has caused a great deal of expensive destruction. I only hope the farmer is properly insured. Because of that I have no doubt that your punishment should be unusually severe, which no doubt today you will feel is very hard and possibly unfair, but one day you may be very grateful for. Have you anything to say for yourselves?”
“Thank you, miss. I am sorry, miss. We really did not mean to do it, miss. It was my idea, miss. I ought to be the one to be punished,” Lorry muttered, feeling incredibly guilty.
There was a brief pause while Miss Todd seemed to consider this statement and Lorry felt increasingly guilty. It had all been her idea, even if Peta had got the boys to come. She shuddered as she wondered if she could take two or three on each hand, which she guessed was coming.
“Well, at least, Lorraine Alexander, you have the courage to admit your guilt, which raises you in my estimation. I trust the rest of you agree with Miss Alexander?”
There was an embarrassed murmur of assent. Everybody was looking at their toes rather than the headmistress. Lorry found herself wondering if the fire had in fact started with Jerry, if he was called Jerry, accidentally kicking those embers out of the circle of stones that she had so carefully created; but she dared not mention the boys. That would mean certain expulsion, she was quite sure.
“What do you think would happen to a boy in this situation, Lorraine Alexander?”
Lorraine gulped; she could see only too well where this was heading.
“Well, Miss Alexander?”
“I suppose he would have the cane, miss.”
“Yes, I agree, though the cane is something of course we do not use that often here, and usually I am not that severe when I do use it.”
Lorry noted the “usually… not that severe” with distinct unease. If her previous caning had not been severe, what had it been? She shuddered in spite of herself. She realized the other girls were in tears, though possibly not Peta. Good old Peta, she was brave.
“I think a caning of the severity I am about to administer should be on the buttocks. The hands are too vulnerable on an occasion like this. However, if any of you wishes to have her punishment on her hands, she may do so. Do you any of you so wish?”
There was a most uncomfortable silence, broken only the sound of various girls sobbing. Lorry realized Wendy and Sheila were not just sobbing, they were crying their eyes out.
“I gather from your silence you all wish to have a jolly good caning on your knickers. Right, we had better get on with it.”
Miss Todd paused to tear a page out of the exit book, rip it to pieces, and put it in her wastepaper basket. Then she reached down, unlocked a cupboard door in the bottom right of her desk, and took out a horribly supple yellow cane of slightly under three feet. Lorry realised that it must be a foot longer than the one she had met during her previous encounter with the springiness of rattan.
Miss Todd rose to her feet and moved away from her chair, cane in hand. She walked round the back of the line of girls in front of her desk. She took Sheila who was standing at the far right by the arm and marched her into the corner of the room.
“Right, Miss Ellis, you are going to have three strokes of the cane. Bend over and touch your toes.”
Lorry watched Sheila bend right down to her toes with the tears rolling down her cheeks. Miss Todd pulled her gym slip up onto her back. Lorry reflected you could see Sheila’s small round buttocks very clearly through her brown school knickers and there was not that much of an area to cane. Miss Todd stood well back and sent the cane swishing into the middle of the bottom. There was a tremendous squeal from Sheila. Miss Todd paused and then took aim again. There was a swish and another squeal, followed by, “Please, not so hard, miss!” Then another carefully delivered stroke and shriek, and Sheila was clutching her buttocks and saying she had never known anything could hurt quite so much. Miss Todd was telling her victim to stand facing the wall with her hands on her head. Sheila was obeying, still weeping uncontrollably.
Then it was Liz Jones-Thomas, who was the newest of Lorry’s little gang. Lorry was quite scared Liz might say something about the boys in the panic of the moment or in an attempt to escape her punishment, but she was actually rather stoical, bending over and presenting her plump soft bottom to three strokes that bit deep with no more than a suppressed “ow” after each stroke. However, the wild jerkings of Liz’s buttocks suggested it had hurt more than the amount of noise would imply. Lorry wondered if Liz had had the cane before. Certainly she seemed to take it very well.
Lorry realized Wendy was next and then it was her turn and she shuddered more than slightly.
Wendy was making more fuss than either of the previous two girls. “Please, not the cane, Miss Todd, please, not the cane. I just can’t take it. Can’t I just be spanked instead? Please, not the cane!”
Lorry found herself disdaining Wendy’s cowardice. She was just taking fright at the idea of the cane; that was all it was. But then she suddenly remembered Wendy saying that her stepfather had really caned her bottom when she had stolen something from her sister, though she had not actually described it. She imagined Wendy, who was quite pretty with her auburn hair and nicely proportioned body, reduced to her vest and knickers and stockings and clutching the sides of a wooden chair while a large man laced her backside with a very swishy cane. Her own father had used the description of what it would be like to frighten her into submission on several occasions, and her vivid imagination had no difficulty in translating this into Wendy being caned by her dad.
Anyway, Wendy was still wailing piteously for mercy. Miss Todd warned her that she would be expelled if she did not bend over. She bent, but when Miss Todd pulled up her gym slip, she covered her rust red knickers with her hands and would not move them, despite being told to several times. Miss Todd at this point was being almost reasonable and trying to help her victim through the punishment. Lorry for some reason remembered all the fuss that Lady Jane Grey had made on the scaffold before she had her head struck off; she had had to be helped through it, hadn’t she. But that was about an axe that was going to kill you, not a cane that would sting and leave a few bruises! Lorry restrained herself from saying her friend was a wimp out loud, but she very definitely thought it.
Miss Todd was warning Wendy to cooperate or have her punishment increased. Wendy at the thought of that finally bent over properly. It struck Lorry that Wendy had a very attractively shaped bottom, which undoubtedly was of the sort that got boys going and she felt decidedly jealous that her own bottom was nothing like such a turn-on. She was so busy thinking this that she did not realize for a second that poor Wendy had put up her hands once more and Miss Todd had lost all patience and was threatening a bare bottom caning for making such a fuss. Lorry felt that it was wrong to have to have your bare bottom caned in front of all your friends. In fact it was almost obscene. And yet Lorry found herself looking and imagining. You should be able to see Wendy’s auburn pubic hair between her legs, not to mention her more private parts. However, the threat had worked and Wendy was still pleading desperately, but at least she was clutching her ankles. The cane swished hard across the top of her thighs. Wendy howled and swayed and there was more desperate pleading.
The cane swished three times more as Wendy got extremely worked up, but somehow managed to stay in position. Poor Wendy! She herself would probably get at least four, Lorry realized; she was the ringleader and quite possibly her knickers were coming down as well. That possibility had not struck her before and she felt genuine horror at the thought. She saw Wendy turn to face the wall, still howling her head off. She must not do that. Now it was her turn. Lorry resolutely began to move towards where the other girls had been caned. Something in her imagined straw and a wooden block and several headless corpses piled at the side and blood on the block, for she was not without a certain imagination. No, she was not going to make a fuss; she was going to put the blindfold on and put her head on the block without being made to do it. Who would the other victims have been, she wondered? Then she smiled at herself.
“No, thank you, Lorraine for being cooperative, but I want to deal with you last. Peta Smith, I think that leaves you.”
Lorry felt totally confused and just a little frightened. She stepped back rather hurriedly to where she had been standing. She watched Peta’s tall, loose-limbed body resolutely stride forward into the corner and bend over without being told to. She gave a haughty glance back at Lorry. Miss Todd raised yet another gym slip. Lorry wondered if Miss Todd found this unbelievably upsetting, or boring, or rather enjoyable, but her face was quite expressionless. Lorry noticed that the tiny bottom at the top of Peta’s long legs was the smallest yet. Boys on the whole had bigger bottoms. She thought again of Jerry’s. Then she realized to her horror that Miss Todd was briskly saying that Peta in her opinion had been second only to Lorry in her naughtiness during her time in the school and she was going to get five of the best. She was seriously saying this was going to be worse than what had happened to the other girls! Lorry felt dreadful. This was her best friend and she had brought this terrible punishment on her! Lorry shut her eyes, but she could not shut her ears and Peta’s screams were heart-breaking. She opened her eyes to realize Peta had joined the line of girls along the wall with their hands on their heads. From the howls she was fairly sure her best friend’s knickers had been lowered, but she had not wanted to look, so she did not really know. She wondered if she would get to see Peta’s welts later; somehow she wanted to see them.
“Right, Miss Alexander, if you would care to come over here and bend over.”
She had reasonably long arms, which made it easy to touch her toes, though her large breasts got in the way. She felt her gym slip being lifted. At least she had clean knickers on, she reflected.
“Right, young lady, I am sure you are the chief culprit on this occasion as you have been on a number of other occasions in the past and I am going to give you the hiding of your life. You are going to have six of the very best with your knickers down; and the slightest movement from your present position will result in extra strokes.”
Then the acute embarrassment of her knickers being unbuttoned and lowered. She found herself hating Miss Todd for being able to look at her most private parts much more than for caning her, which she felt she deserved. And there was the further embarrassment that for some reason she was suddenly incredibly moist between her thighs. Just before the caning started, it suddenly came into her head that though she hated Miss Todd for seeing her like this and even more for making her wait a little while for her punishment, nevertheless she would have loved Jerry to be looking at her from the rear like this, which was an odd thought.
Then the most ferocious caning swished down upon the cold flesh of Lorry’s bare behind. It was so bad that the cane broke and had to be replaced twice. In retrospect she always wondered how she took it. Her friends agreed she did not cry out at all, which she found hard to believe. Possibly the sheer amount of pain anaesthetised her, but she was always rather proud she took those six strokes without a moment’s fuss. Quite possibly the fact that she kept imagining it was Jerry who was thrashing her helped more than a little.
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