Woody Woodpecker #070
3 hours ago
"Jane, why are you standing back there?" asked Lucy, perplexed by the distance that Jane was putting between herself and Gillian's rump.
"I'm going to take a bloody good run-up at her," answered Jane casually.
"Oh no you're not! There will be no run-ups; you must stand still, square behind the...er...spankee for want of a better legal word. My God, your aunt was right, you both have a pathological hatred of each other," Lucy intervened, apprehensive that the two women would try to do each other real harm. Jane rather sullenly marched up to the armchair and, without warning, slammed the paddle hard across Gillian's unprepared nates. The loud crack which resulted echoed round the empty room surprising both the contestants and the spectators.
"Owwwwwwww you bitch! That wasn't fair, I wasn't ready," yelled Gillian, twisting round to lodge an anguished protest with Lucy.
"Well, cry-baby, do you submit?" enquired Jane, more in wishful hope rather than any serious belief that her younger sister would give in that easily.
"No, I bloody well do not. Now get on with it and give me the other five whacks," came Gillian's defiant reply. Jane, for the first time that afternoon, did not look the picture of total confidence, a glimmer of doubt having entered her head which registered in her facial expression. The resounding smack she had given Gillian had not had the devastating effect she'd expected. Her sister had been right when she said that, for the first time in their lives, they were competing on an equal footing. Jane lifted the paddle high over her head and brought it down as hard as she could, repeating the process in rapid succession four more times to finish off the first batch of spanks. Although Gillian cursed and yelped at the painful assault on her bottom there didn't seem to be any immediate crack in her armour and she appeared determined to stay the distance. Slowly rising from her position, she turned with a huge smile on her face.
"Now it's my turn to deal out the punishment! I've been waiting all my life for this!" Gillian declared, her eyes ablaze and nostrils flaring at the delicious thought of her imminent vengeance. Jane slumped over the back of the armchair and hitched, with some difficulty, her tight dress up and over her hindquarters.
"Look!" Gillian beseeched Lucy and Annette, "Sheer stockings and fancy suspenders...for a funeral? Really, Jane, were you hoping to shag the vicar? You always were such a tart!" Gillian took great delight in baiting her older sister.
"Oh shut up! I didn't have any black hose and anyway it didn't occur to me that later in the day I'd be bent over flashing my underwear around!" came Jane's muffled explanation from the other side of the chair. Gillian roughly grabbed Jane's lace panties and snapped the elastic, causing them to fall uselessly down the side of Jane's left thigh.
"You'll bloody well pay for those, Gillian, they were expensive," said Jane, furious at her sister's act of wanton vandalism on her undies.
"Sure, no problem. I'll buy you ten pairs as a going-away present; after all, money will be no object when I get my inheritance!" exclaimed Gillian. She then drew back the paddle and powered it down onto her sister's twin globes of milky-white flesh. Again the room reverberated to the sound of leather slapping loudly against womanly bottom-cheeks. At the end of the second session the psychological advantage had swung back to Jane, who decided to take her dress right off so that she would have unrestricted freedom of movement when she administered the next six smacks.
Annette could hardly believe her eyes at the scene which was materialising before her. Two grown women, both with their reddened buttocks completely exposed, were trying to beat the living daylights out of each other in a frenzy of undiluted greed and revenge. Gillian survived her second session but her eyes were now clearly watering from the increased stinging and now the moans she was emitting were deeper and more heart-felt. This time, at the end of it, she sprang to her feet, but her first action was to frantically rub her bottom and try to lessen the pain rather than to grab the paddle and immediately set about her sister's posterior. Jane once again positioned herself over the chair, her suspender straps at full stretch and pressing into the still pale skin at the sides of her flanks. She was only too aware that if her resolve buckled at this point during the next six stingers, she would lose everything. Gillian started the second lambasting of her sister's buttocks but this time she allowed a longer duration between each swipe. This tactic was for her own benefit and designed to give herself a longer recovery period before it was her turn to bend over the chair again.
Annette noticed that Jane had, outwardly at least, dealt reasonably well with the pain during her second session of being on the receiving end. Definitely better than Gillian had coped. It was the younger sister's turn to drape herself over the chair for a third time, and she was taking a long time over it.
"Come on, you chicken, you are deliberately playing for time," sneered Jane sensing that her younger sister was weakening.
"Do you want to call it a day, Gillian?" asked Lucy, concerned that the girl might be suffering too much.
"No, no! I'll never give up, there is too much at stake," she snapped back and dramatically plunged herself over the chair again, Jane landed three quick blows - her sister twisted, bounced and screamed at the ferocity of the lightning blast, there was a short break and then the second three rained down at speed all on the same stinging buttock. Gillian gave a frightening, almost bestial, wail and almost fell sideways off the chair. She groaned, staggering for a few feet to the right hand side of the room, clutching her blazing behind with one hand and , with the other, she supported her racked body, leaning against the wall with tears literally streaming down her face.
"Gillian, you poor baby, why don't you give up?" Jane implored with mock concern for her sister. "You know you can't win. Aunt Amy knew I have always been the stronger. I could go on taking these whackings all day. She must have wanted me to inherit or she would have invented some sort of intellectual challenge. You were the clever one at school so why don't you use those brains and quit now - save your bottom from further punishment," Jane continued to pressure Gillian verbally as the weeping woman shook her head in tearful defiance.
The young solicitor's assistant was fascinated to observe how these two young women could keep coming back for punishment. Gillian's posterior was now a deep plum colour and Annette couldn't help but think that Jane's advice, although clearly intended to undermine her sister, was probably correct. Six more smacks bounced off Jane's taut, cherry-red, backside with hardly any visible detrimental effect on her, it was as though she was becoming immune to the sting of the paddle. The two women changed places yet again and the body language was now very significant. Gillian, her face pale, lowered her head to avoid eye-contact while Jane stared at her, a self-satisfied, nauseating grin on her face.
Jane took careful aim and then administered the nineteenth blow to Gillian's tortured bottom, resulting in the now familiar howl, accompanied by the rippling of Gillian's gluteous flesh and a St. Vitus dance-like trembling as her body and mind fought to resist the sanctuary of submission. The twentieth blow of the paddle smacked down hard on Gillian's bottom and a thunderclap resounded around the hollow room. Gillian let out a high-pitched shriek, burst into floods of hysterical tears and rolled off the chair onto the floor, holding up her right hand to signal that her resistance was over, she simply could not take any more.
"Do you submit?" Jane bawled and the tear-stained Gillian nodded her head in affirmation. "Come on, say it! I want to hear you say it!"
"Oh God, I submit," Gillian managed to whisper the required words loud enough for the other three women to hear.
"I am the winner!" proclaimed Jane, holding the paddle aloft in triumph.
"Not yet," Lucy interrupted Jane's premature celebrations," you still have to take three more strokes to overtake Gillian's final total of twenty."
"Oh yeah, I know. But I've got this in the bag. Do you seriously think I'm going to capitulate now when I can almost smell all that lovely money?" Jane announced as she lowered herself across the chair for the last time. Goading her sister, she continued, "Come on, Gillian, do your worst. It's too late for you anyway. I don't mind having to stand up to count all that lovely money."
Annette had never met either sister before, but for some reason she found Gillian the less odious of the two and was secretly hoping she'd win. But it was pretty clear that Jane was not going to give in now and when Gillian slammed the paddle down for the twentieth and equalising spank, it must have hurt like hell, but Jane remained staunchly bent over awaiting the next. She knew she had won, laughed and raised a clenched fist in celebration. At that moment Gillian knew her hopes of inheriting the house had disappeared. In a spite-fuelled act of detestation of her elder sister, she held her sister down with one hand, then suddenly unleashed a flurry of violent blows, raining them down on her victorious sister's bottom and thighs. She must have landed ten extra, uncalled for, thudding slaps of leather across an already searing expanse of reddened flesh, before Lucy could step in and stop her.
"You bloody bitch! You always were a bad loser," Jane took a last opportunity to metaphorically rub salt into her younger sister's wounds, "and 'loser' is the right word to describe you. You have always lost to me - as children I beat you at every game we played, as teenagers I could take your boyfriends whenever I wanted and now I get Aunt Amy's house...all to myself."
Gillian had no intention of staying for a slanging match when the truth of her sister's jibes was there for all to see. She had already, and very painfully, replaced her knickers and trousers and was stomping out of the room and out of her sister's life forever.
"That's right, loser, go on, get out of my house!" Jane screamed after her, whilst hopping from one leg to the other, vigorously kneading some of the pain out of her inflamed buttocks.
"Strictly speaking, the house does not belong to you until the papers have been signed," Lucy solemnly informed the jubilant but still-smarting Jane.
"Right, let's do it now. I've waited years for this moment, I can't wait a second longer," replied Jane.
"Before you sign, I must go through the details and make sure you fully understand what you are taking possession of," Lucy cautioned the over-excited winner.
"Oh no, I can't hang around listening to all that legal crap. I just want to sign the damn papers and go off and get drunk on champagne."
"Very well, but you must sign this lawful disclaimer absolving my company from any future accountability arising from any unforseen disputes regarding ownership of this property," Lucy droned on in monotonous legal parlance, but Jane was not listening, all she could think of was celebrating her good fortune. Lucy concluded her monologue, "Annette will be my witness that you refused counselling over the deeds of the house."
"Yes, yes, yes...whatever...just give me the pen," Jane impatiently ordered Lucy. She then quickly scribbled her signature next to the crosses that Lucy had already marked for her. After which, Lucy and Annette officially witnessed the fact that by adding their names.
"Well, that's it, Miss Etheridge, the house legally belongs to you now. What are your immediate plans?" asked Annette.
"Right now I'm off to buy a case of Champers and a couple of bags of frozen peas," answered Jane, laughing as she flounced out of the house.
"Frozen peas?" enquired both Lucy and Annette, simultaneously perplexed by this curious intent.
"To sit on! I've got a two hour car journey and my arse feels as if its just been stung by a swarm of bees. I need something to cool it down. Lock up for me, I'll be in touch," Jane waved and then wheel-spun out of the drive in her urgent quest for the soothing effect of frozen vegetables.
"I feel sorry for Gillian, going through all that pain and embarrassment and not getting a penny," muttered Annette, ruefully, as she watched Jane's car speed out of sight.
"I wouldn't feel too sorry for Gillian. Today she was very much the winner," Lucy answered , rather enigmatically.
"What do you mean? All she got out of it was a very sore bottom whilst Jane acquired this house which I know is a bit dilapidated but must still be worth two hundred grand."
"Yes, you're right about the value of the house," Lucy paused and smiled, " but when John Etheridge acquired it almost a century ago for the princely sum of two hundred pounds, he did so on a lease basis. The original lease has never been amended and in seven months' time, the house becomes the property of Mr Justin Hartley, the grandson of Jacob Hartley, the original owner. The Hartleys have farmed the area since the mid-eighteenth century and John Etheridge was their estate manager. The house was sold to him in recognition of his good work in maintaining and increasing the Hartleys assets. Justin Hartley was a life-long friend of Amy and he promised her many years ago that she could live in this house for as long as she wanted. So she never had to bother about renegotiating the lease."
"That was generous of him," Annette noted.
"Yes, but it was also out of self-interest, because for the last fifty years, Justin and Amy have been having an affair. As teenagers they wanted to get engaged but Justin's parents would not give their approval because Amy's family were low down the social pecking order. Shortly after this, Justin, who at the time was a young subaltern in the Army, was posted with his regiment to the far east for a couple of years. Time and distance quelled their youthful ardour and eventually Justin married a girl his parents approved of. A few years later, when he left the Army to take over the running of the Hartley family business he crossed paths with Amy again, and she agreed to become his mistress."
"How romantic!" sighed Annette and then, after collecting her thoughts, she concluded, "so the upshot of today's ludicrous contest is - Jane has won a house she cannot sell."
"Well, I doubt whether she will find anyone who is going to pay a fortune for a lease which has barely six months left to run. Plus, there is another sting in the tail for Jane," Lucy giggling at her own pun. "Under a clause in the lease the house must have had the roof and window frames replaced at least once in the ninety-nine year period, and, of course, they are still the original slates and fittings, so Jane could have to fork out a tidy sum for her short lived tenure."
"Good! I'm glad she won't profit from her aunt's death. And I'm also glad she won't be able to sit down comfortably for a week or so," professed Annette, giggling at the thought of Jane driving home sitting on two packs of frozen peas. Then, after a few moments contemplation, she added, with a trace of concern in her voice, "On the other hand, she is going to be awfully miffed that you didn't tell her about the conditions of the lease. She'll probably roar over to the office and take that paddle to our rear ends!"
"Don't worry, before the...er...contest, I was acting precisely on Amy Etheridge's instructions, but I did urge them both not to go through with it. And remember that Jane refused my offer of advice before she signed all the papers - one of which testifies to this fact in writing," Lucy reassured her young assistant
"So you don't think she will blame us then?"
"No, I don't think she will want to make too much of a fuss in case Gillian found out. The humiliation would be just too much to bear. And I very much doubt whether Jane would want to be known as the woman who was so greedy she was quite prepared to have her bare bottom thrashed in order to get her hands on her aunt's non-existent legacy. She would become an utter laughing-stock."
"What an astute lady Amy was when I visited her to arrange for today's execution of the will. She predicted precisely how it would turn out."
"The old lady knew that Jane would take more swats than Gillian?" gasped Annette.
"Yes. She reasoned that Jane would be motivated by pure greed, whereas Gillian would be sustained by a mixture of fragmented emotions including hatred, jealousy and revenge. She deduced that Jane's single minded fixation would win the day or rather, as Amy hoped, land her in a dreadful financial mess."
"Phew...quite a plan. I'm surprised that an old lady could have concocted such a neat act of retribution," said Annette.
"Well, she did have some help from Julian Hartley," explained Lucy. "He arranged for the video and organised the funeral so that only he and the two sisters were present. He has invited us both to join him and a few friends at the Bull Hotel for a meal to give Amy a proper and fitting send-off."
"Oh how nice! I only hope they have my favourite on the menu," exclaimed Annette with a grin.
"And what would that be?" enquired Lucy as she unlocked the car door.
"Why, rump steak, of course! Very well done!"
The coffin glided almost silently through the closing velvet maroon curtains and Amy Etheridge's mortal remains made their last earthbound journey towards the incinerator. Inside the small Chapel of Rest at the crematorium sat just three mourners; a smartly dressed elderly gentleman who sat alone at the back and two women who had made a point of sitting geometrically as far apart as they could; on the left and right front pews.This story is rather long, so I'll save part two for next week. Sorry to leave you hanging!
Befittingly for these sombre occasions, the two ladies were dressed from head to toe in black; however their behaviour did not follow the conventions commonly observed at funerals. There were no tears being shed for the dear departed and when both had arrived at the chapel there were no exchanges of condolences or comforting embraces, not even a brief nod of acknowledgment, which was all very strange as the two women were sisters.
As soon as the curtains had closed both women shuffled along the constricting pews to the central aisle in an obvious race to be first out of the chapel. Outside, the waiting pall-bearers and crematorium staff looked on in astonishment as the sisters ran awkwardly in their high heel shoes over to their respective cars. A few seconds later the two vehicles sped off from out of the memorial car park with contemptuous disregard for the sign which requested drivers to observe a respectful speed.
Mile after mile they raced, the lead changing several times, but never were more than a few hundred yards apart. Zooming recklessly around a labyrinth of narrow rural lanes as though they were competing in a stage of the British Rally Championship. Finally, both cars came to a screeching halt in the front drive of an isolated country house. The doors of the two cars flew open and the women jostled and pushed each other in their frantic attempts to be first to enter the house.
"I did it!! I'm first!" announced a breathless Jane Etheridge to a rather startled looking woman who was sitting at the head of an old oak table, "I win the lot, don't I?"
"She cheated! She pushed me over, the bloody cow!" Gillian Etheridge, Jane's younger sister howled indignantly, as she lurched in an ungainly fashion into the room.
"Oh shut your face, you whining bitch, don't you know all's fair in love, war and inheriting money!" Jane triumphantly crowed at her ruffled sibling.
"Ladies, PLEASE! I don't know why you would assume that whoever arrived here first would be entitled to all your aunt's worldly goods," said the woman at the table, trying to restore some semblance of calm and sobriety to the proceedings.
"And just who might YOU be?" asked Jane, suddenly suspicious that the mysterious interloper in the fashionable but businesslike attire, might be another claimant of her aunt's will.
"I'm Lucy Hooper, a local solicitor. Your aunt appointed my firm to make sure that her dying wishes were carried out to the letter."
"The letter!" Jane remembered just why she and Gillian had raced each other to the house. "I received a letter from my aunt that she had written on her death bed, explaining that she couldn't make up her mind to whom she would bequeath the house. The letter said Gillian and I would have to compete in some simple test on the day of the funeral, the winner taking everything. So we guessed it would be the first of us to arrive for the reading of the will. So do I get the lot?"
"No, I'm afraid not. That isn't the sort of test your aunt had in mind. But I think it's best that she explains," answered Miss Hooper, amused by the looks of bewilderment on the faces of Gillian and Jane. "Your aunt made a video-will." Miss Hooper then took a video-cassette from her executive briefcase, crossed over to the far corner of the room and inserted it into the VCR. The television screen went a lime-green colour for a few seconds and then some wording appeared.
"This is the last will and testament of Amy Elizabeth Etheridge" the block typeface proclaimed. Some more irritating buzzing sounds accompanied the flickering of the title page and suddenly there she was - Aunt Amy! Sitting in her favourite armchair and exuding a relaxed confident air in the manner of a presenter who about to introduce yet another cooking or gardening programme.
"Ewwwww, isn't this creepy! To think we've just been to her funeral," commented Gillian, wringing her hands in a gesture of distaste at the sight of her now-dead aunt.
"Sshhh! She is going to tell us who gets the house," snapped Jane who was staring, wide-eyed, at the television and desperately hoping she was to be the lucky one.
"Well, girls, today must be the first time that you have seen or spoken to each other for almost a decade," Aunt Amy began her much awaited audio-visual recital, seemingly talking to them from beyond the grave. "Let me see, what was the last occasion on which you spoke to - or should I say 'screamed at' - one another? Was it the time when Gillian found Jane in bed with her own fiance - or maybe it was the time Gillian went on a spending spree with Jane's credit cards?
"My memory fails me now but there were so many times when you were at each others throats over some act of jealousy or spite. Even as small girls you were always fighting over something trivial, and of course your indulgent parents never corrected you, as they should have, for your dreadful behaviour. It is little wonder that you have both turned into such thoroughly despicable adults. But, as they say, "blood is thicker than water" and as all my other relatives are dead, it's Hobson's choice , I'm afraid to say. In my letters to you both I informed you that I shall leave the house to just one niece - the winner of my little head-to-head contest. After all you did both visit me, spasmodically, over the last ten years.
"Unfortunately these visits always seemed to coincide with the disappearance of some of my jewellery or small china ornaments - which I suppose you didn't think I would miss. Not to mention the sizeable loans that I made to you both, which of course, were never repaid. The truth is,I despise you both, in equal measures, therefore, to amuse myself in these, my last few days, I have devised a fiendish little contest which I trust you will both participate in. The winner will inherit the building only, all the furnishings and knick-knacks , or at least those you haven't already pilfered, are being collected by a charity and this TV set and video are rented.
"The house was purchased by my great-grandfather - your great-great grandfather - nearly one hundred years ago. I have lived here all my life so my main concern is that I leave it to the right girl, the one who wants it most. The one who can prove that she is mentally and physically the stronger."
Aunt Amy paused and, savouring the moment, she smiled to herself; reaching over she picked up something from the table beside her.
"The aim of my contest is quite simple. The winner will be adjudged as the woman who can take the most swats on her rear end with this."
Amy held up and offered to the camera lens the object she had just picked up.
"It's a leather paddle or, as it's sometimes known, a 'spanking bat'. I have chosen this implement as opposed to a traditional swishy cane because, experts tell me, due to surface air resistance it is impossible to apply it too vigorously and, knowing how much you both hate each other, I don't want to be held posthumously responsible for inciting grievous bodily harm. However, the punitive effect of the paddle is a cumulative one which relies on a reasonable number of whacks to be given before it becomes too excruciating to endure any longer.
"Now listen carefully. The rules are these:
1. The paddle will be applied in rotation - six smacks given, then six smacks received. This will continue until one of you girls decides she has had enough, and at this point she must shout 'I submit'. Then, if necessary, it will be incumbent on the other sister to surpass that final total to be victorious.
2. The paddle will be applied to the bare bottom so there are no arguments about thickness of knickers and the like.
3. There cannot be a draw, should this happen or if you both decide you do not wish to take part in such a contest, Miss Hooper has alternative instructions regarding the disposal of the property.
"There is, of course, one obvious way in which you can both benefit without having to go through with my rather sadistic game. You could - for the first time in your lives - agree to trust one another. One of you could take a token whack and be proclaimed the winner, then she could promise to share equally any future profit accruing from the house with the losing sister. If Miss Hooper would kindly pause the video, you might like to discuss this option."
Lucy Hooper pressed the correct button on the remote control and Amy's image was frozen eerily onto the screen. "Well," she said, "your aunt has given you an ideal way to reconcile your differences and, at the same time, become like real sisters again. All it needs is a little trust on both sides and we can avoid going any further with this vicious charade which your Aunt has thought up, presumably as some kind of malevolent joke." Lucy implored the two sisters, who were suspiciously contemplating each other. A long period of tense silence ensued as both women awaited a conciliatory gesture from the other. Finally Gillian's patience snapped.
"You must be joking! I wouldn't trust Jane with a second-class stamp, the cheating cow!" she blurted, clearly deaf to Lucy Hooper's appeal for sanity and logic.
"And that goes for me too!" Jane responded, with equal venom to her sister's insult, "Anyway this house must be worth at least two hundred grand, so why should I share it with her when I can win this contest with ease. I can remember when we were girls, I only had to pull her hair for a few seconds and she was bawling the place down. Gillian has got a very low pain threshold. I reckon it will only take a maximum of three smacks on her bare arse with that paddle and she'll be begging for me to stop."
"You realise that you have to take one more blow than your sister to win, don't you?" interjected Lucy, making sure that the rules of the contest had been fully understood.
"Yes, of course I do! But I think I could stand four of the best from the Heavyweight Champion of the World if I was getting 50 grand a whack," retorted Jane, brimming with self-confidence.
"Pah! Being two years old than me as children, you were always bigger and stronger, therefore you could make me cry, but now we are both adults in our early thirties we will be on equal terms at last and, believe me, I am looking forward to making you suffer for all those years of pain you caused me," Gillian aggressively warned her sister.
"Well I think you must both be mad but it is clear that you wish to proceed with this foolishness," Lucy commented disdainfully, as she released the pause button and Aunt Amy came back to life, albeit only on the TV screen. There were a few seconds of the old lady staring vacantly into the camera and then she smiled and concluded her performance.
"I knew you wouldn't be able to agree," she cackled, "so Miss Hooper, please take the girls into the front parlour and oversee what I fervently hope is going to be a long, painful and drawn-out battle. At long last you will both be getting the spankings you should have had twenty years ago!"
With this last, final statement, Aunt Amy's image faded and disappeared, leaving the screen a mass of black and white meandering horizontal lines. Lucy switched the set off, opened the living-room door and invite the two women to join her in the next room. "Well, ladies, shall we retire to the front room where everything is set-up and waiting for you both?"
The three women trouped down the hallway and then into the large front room. On entering the two sisters were surprised to find that all the furnishings had already been removed by the charity referred to. Everything was gone except for Aunt Amy's favourite armchair which had been placed in the middle of the room. In the chair sat a serious-looking young lady holding in her hands the aforementioned paddle. "Oh, you're not going ahead with this ridiculous mediaeval trial-by-ordeal, are you?" she asked.
"This is Annette, she will be the second witness which is legally required," Lucy introduced her office assistant to Gillian and Jane. "Yes, Annette, I'm afraid that the two ladies could not come to an agreement, so, against my advice, they are going to do battle with each other to decide the inheritance."
"Gosh! This bat thingy looks like it will cause an awfully nasty sting, especially on a bare bottom," said Annette, then, unable to contain a smile from forming at the thought of the sights she would be required to witness, quickly looked away from the two sisters.
"Right, we must toss a coin to decide who goes first," Lucy interjected as she balanced a fifty-pence piece on her crooked forefinger, ready to spin. "Miss Etheridge...er...I mean, Jane, would you please call."
"Heads!" called Jane as she watched the silver coin rotate through the air and land, making a clinking sound on the bare wooden floorboards.
"Heads it is, I'll...er...I'll..." Jane wandered down to the window end of the room, pondering her tactics like an England cricket captain examining the state of the wicket before deciding whether to bat first or put the opposition in. "I'll spank Gillian first," Jane eventually decided, "so get those pants down and bend over the back of that chair."
The moment of truth had arrived for both women. Gillian fumbled with her belt and then unhooked the clasp of her black trousers allowing them to slide down her legs. She then pushed her panties down in the same direction and carefully leant over the padded top of the armchair. Jane took up a position at the far wall, some twelve feet away from her intended target.
THE LAST CANING AT ST.HILDA'SPoor Adele! Did you think that she had told on her classmates, before you read the ending?
It happened less than three years ago, but it seems much longer than that. I've left school now and hope to graduate next year but that painful and amazing time still haunts me.
I never did decide whether those two girls were hell-raising mischief-makers or just plain bad. Looking back, I think there was no real harm in them, although they made me suffer. But I suppose they felt justified in what they did to me, and I try to understand. There are no welts any more on my bottom, but sometimes, in a nightmare, I feel again the phantom fires eating into each cheek, and I squeeze them until the heat oozes away and I wake and stare into the darkness, remembering.
They were Jasmine Fenwick and Ruby Blanche Cridland. Jasmine, or 'Jazzy', was one of those annoyingly pretty girls who put you in mind of a cat, sort of lean and graceful with flowing dark hair and sapphire eyes. Her friend, Ruby Blanche, was American, from Iowa I think, which I believe is in the Midwest somewhere - I never was much good at geography. Ruby Blanche was at our school - St.Hilda's independent in the leafy glades of Buckinghamshire - because her father was a globe-trotting U.S. businessman who wanted his daughter to have an English education. She was tall and blonde with a glossy look and a figure any page 3 girl would be proud of. See? I can still be generous.
Look, the best way I can deal with this is to detach myself from the events and have someone else tell it, because I always choke up when I think about it..so here goes....
It never seemed fair to the pupils of St Hilda's at the time that if anyone committed a serious enough offence they could still get caned. Corporal punishment continued to remain in force there, even though English state schools had banned it as long ago as 1986 following a European Commission ruling. At St. Hilda's the freedom to continue this traditional form of punishment was exercised fairly infrequently, but exercised it was. Because it was an all-girls school, the Headmaster, Dr. Unwin, rarely wielded the rod, but Miss Curzon, the Deputy Head, did the honours in the privacy of her study. She was left-handed, which gave rise to the double-edged nickname 'Sinister Susan'. Tales were told by rueful seniors who had been on the receiving end of that hefty left arm, that punishment was given on the open palm, searingly hard, and no one who had received it was eager for a second dose.
Jasmine and her friend Ruby Blanche always claimed that it wasn't the pain itself that bothered them, but the sheer humiliation involved in reporting to the Deputy Head with a caning chit, then submitting to being struck with a stick by this stout, grey-haired woman with the grim features and curt voice.
"That old cow's never going to hit me," Jazzy always boasted, and Ruby Blanche would grin, slap her voluptuous haunches and say, "Nor that goat Unwin neither - though as a man he could be worse."
Indeed, Doctor Unwin cut a powerful figure, fiftyish, as tall as Mr. Clinton, the American President and strong with it, being a former British Olympic shot-putter. But let us not digress.
It was a fine spring day in April 1998 when the news broke. During lunch-break Jasmine was strolling in the school grounds when Ruby Blanche came running over. It wasn't like the American girl to run - she was more of a swayer of the hips and bum with her chest stuck out in case any boys or lovelorn lesbians were looking - but today she not only ran, but positively bounded, up to her friend.
"Jazzy, our moment has come," she said excitedly, "as from May this year, caning's being banned in Indie schools."
"You're kidding!" said Jasmine. But her mouth was open and her eyes gleamed with kindling excitement.
"Nope. It's true as Mao Tse Tung's a Chinaman!"
"Just heard it from the Head Girl. Amendment to the Education Bill. It's been passed by Parliament." Ruby Blanche put on her 'posh Brit' voice that never quite sounded right. "Liberal Democrat spokesman Don Foster called caning 'a barbaric, disgusting and degrading practice', dontcherknow!"
"So it is," squealed Jasmine happily, "unless the guy who's doing it is six foot two, slim and gorgeous with a cock like a copper's truncheon."
"Such vulgarity, my girl," carolled her American friend, "merits six stingers with the three-foot cane."
"Not after the end of this month, if what you say is true!" exalted Jasmine. "No more canings at St. Hilda's. You know what this means, don't you?"
"Course I do! We can do all the things we didn't do in case we got a whacking. Now they won't be able to touch us."
"Just think of all the windows we could've broken if they'd banned it sooner," said Jasmine wistfully. "The lessons we could've skipped, the boys we could have met in town..."
"The times we could've overslept, not done our prep, missed Games, ignored detention..."
"And it's nearly May now," said Jasmine, sapphire eyes glowing in her feline face.
"Sure. Just gives us enough time to plan something real bad, bad enough for the cane leastways - and watch old sourface eat out that lump of dough she calls a heart 'cos she can't whack us," exulted Ruby Blanche.
And so it was that on the very last day oh April in 1998, which was a Thursday, the girls emerging from their dormitories and slouching up the leafy drive towards the venerable, ivy-clad school building were amazed to see a large bed-sheet strung above the entrance with the words, in sky-blue paint, 'CANING SUCKS! AND SO DOES OLD FART UNWIN AND HIS SIDEKICK 'GENGHIS KHAN' CURZON!'
At least ninety per cent of the pupils saw this before its presence was drawn to the attention of an apoplectic Miss Curzon, who had it ripped down at the speed of light. A huge fuss was made at morning assembly, with Doctor Unwin saying that if the culprits owned up to him or Miss Curzon by the end of the day they'd be dealt with leniently. He was even quite sanguine about it, pointing out with a hint of a smile that there was a grammatical solecism in the text of the message, so whoever did it was clearly not a student of English Grammar. Ruby Blanche didn't even know what 'solecism' meant, so the giggles which met his remark confused her.
But that wasn't all. Jazzy Fenwick happened to be pretty brill at Chemistry, so to knock up a makeshift bomb in the lab after hours wasn't too much of a problem. What she and her fellow conspirator didn't know was that although the rest of the schoolhouse was deserted at that time, a girl called Adele Dixon was working out in the gymnasium when they broke in.
Adele was supple and petite. A man would say she was curvy in all the right places, mild of manner with lustrous green eyes, and a mop of attractive russet hair. A useful gymnast, she had been working on her floor exercises when a noise upstairs alarmed her. Creeping along to the Chemistry Lab, she saw her two form-mates furtively at work, and heard the American girl say, "This is gonna be one helluva bang!" Relieved it wasn't some intruder from outside, Adele crept away without announcing her presence.
So, that morning on the last day of April, Miss Curzon was intoning prayers as the assembled school stood with heads bowed when an enormous bang went up at the back of the stage. Had the curtains not been drawn shut, people might have been badly hurt when the device went off, spraying out chunks of wood and brick. The place erupted in screams as smoke billowed into the main hall. The fire brigade was called out and all was made safe. But for at least half an hour there was chaos, with a few girls treated for shock. Amid the small area of devastation a piece of charred board was found with the words 'NO MORE CANING - WHAT A SHAME!' The writing was the same as on the bed-sheet, in blue paint.
May came, and everything went quiet. The new ruling wasn't even mentioned, but no more canings took place - it was all detentions or tellings-off and gatings. Jazzy and Ruby Blanche had half hoped their misdeeds would be discovered so they could thumb their noses openly at authority. However, short of making a confession there seemed no way they would be found out.
But in the last week of May, with repairs to the hall completed, Doctor Unwin made an announcement at morning assembly.
"Unless the girl or girls who did the cowardly and irresponsible deed of planting that explosive device in the hall last month," he said, "and who hung that contemptible message over the school entrance, have the guts and the decency to own up by Friday the twenty ninth, the entire school will be gated for four weeks, with participation in all extra-mural activities denied."
That was pretty disastrous. To be confined to the school premises for an entire month was bad enough, but the trip to Paris and other fun outings would have to be abandoned and national holidays ignored. Plus there would be loads more prep.
When it got to the Thursday and no one had owned up, things looked bad. Adele Dixon was due to perform in the Schools Championships at gymnastics in the middle of June - her only chance to get into the combined schools team that would travel the world. So she went to Jasmine Fenwick after supper on the Wednesday and told her she knew she and Ruby Blanche had done it, and begged them to do the decent thing and own up.
"What, and get expelled?" Jazzy sneered. "No way!"
A similar plea to the American girl met with a blank refusal. By now both miscreants were scared of the outcome, because their jape had, literally, misfired so badly. So Adele and many others were approaching despair as the Friday deadline passed. And then, on Saturday the thirtieth of May there was a flurry of activity. Miss Curzon opened the lockers of Jasmine and Ruby Blanche with a master key. The remains of a tin of blue paint was found in the American girl's locker, while Jazzy's contained paint-stained clothing, a detonator and explosive chemicals. The evidence was overwhelming. After a severe interrogation by Doctor Unwin and Miss Curzon, both girls admitted their guilt.
What happened then is etched in the memory of all the girls in the school. On the Sunday, the last day of May, an 'Extraordinary Assembly' was called by the Headmaster in the main hall at 3 pm. The place was packed, with all the pupils, ranged in form order, seated on chairs as if attending a concert. There was a lot of tension as they stared up at the closed curtains which blanked out the stage, whispering and muttering.
"Silence!" boomed Doctor Unwin as he strode out in front of the assembled throng, complete with black gown and mortar board. But what sent a shocked thrill through the assembled gathering was the crook-handled cane, a good forty inches long, held under his arm.
The hush was unearthly as the curtains drew back to show an empty stage on which stood, about twelve inches apart, two tall stools from the Chemistry Lab. A scarlet cushion had been placed on top of each. Girls held their breath, unable to believe what they seemed about to witness.
"School," began Doctor Unwin gravely, "for disciplinary purposes I and my Staff have withheld information about the Government ruling concerning the ending of corporal punishment in this and other independent schools throughout Britain. Rumours have been rife, chief among them being that as from the end of April it became a criminal offence to beat a pupil".
A flurry of murmurs was silenced by a glare.
"In certain cases it's been true that the cane has not been the answer," he resumed. "But some offences are so grave that even expulsion is an insufficient option - and in such cases this..." here he brought the cane from under his arm and whipped it through the air "has thus far been the only truly effective response."
The audience gasped, freezing stiller.
"You all know," Doctor Unwin went on, "about the small explosive device that was planted in the hall, as well as other reprehensible mischief I do not propose to dwell on. Well, the two culprits have been found, and it is my intention to deal with them this afternoon with the utmost severity allowed by the law of the land." He paused, and called into the wings. "Miss Curzon?"
The stout woman with the iron-grey hair stepped into view from the side of the stage. Under her left arm she too held a long quivery cane. Her left hand gripped the arm of Ruby Blanche Cridland, while her right held Jasmine Fenwick. Both girls wore the blue and grey uniforms of St. Hilda's, beautifully pressed, white blouses freshly starched, striped ties neatly knotted, socks turned correctly down just below the knee. They looked smart enough to receive prizes on Speech Day, except their faces gave them away.
Jasmine's cat-like prettiness was marred by swollen eyes and a pink nose. She had clearly been crying and looked cowed and frightened. When she saw the cushioned stools she shrank back with a little cry, but Miss Curzon tightened her grip. Ruby Blanche looked sullen, brazening the assembled school with a bright blue glare. She was trying not to show her own fear but was shaking.
Miss Curzon led both girls to the stools, Jasmine's legs buckling. She looked pale, with a sheen of sweat on her face, and for a moment it looked as if she might collapse. Then the woman positioned the American girl in front of one stool and Jasmine in front of the other, with their backs turned to the audience.
Doctor Unwin took up a position beside Jasmine Fenwick, about three feet to her left, and faced the assembled school, the cane gripped in his right hand. Miss Curzon stood to the right of Ruby Blanche, her cane in her left fist. 'Sinister Susan' looked ready for action.
But was this some sort of scary charade? Hadn't caning been banned for an entire month? The school was about to find out.
"I have sought and gained the approval of the Schools Inspectorate for what is about to occur', intoned Doctor Unwin. "Neither myself, nor the Deputy Head, can be held responsible for the accuracy, or otherwise, of rumours. The fact is that until midnight tonight, on this last day of May 1998, caning in Independent Schools is still legal."
A murmur spread through the hall, so that the Head had to raise his voice. "The two cowardly, insolent vandals you see before you got their dates wrong. And now they are about to reap the reward of their miscalculation."
The audience could see the shoulders of Jasmine Fenwick shaking, and her head sagged forward in an agony of shame. The blonde young American stood more proudly, as if defying her mentors to do their worst.
"This will be the last caning ever to take place at St. Hilda's," the Headmaster resumed, "and I intend to make it a caning to remember for these two culprits. Apart from the well deserved punishment of a pair of wicked young ladies, I ask you all to take cognisance of the fact that you are also witnessing an historic event." He turned to address both girls, his tone quiet and deadly.
"What you have done is far too serious for a routine caning on the hands. You will both raise your gymslips and bend over the stools."
A gasp went up from the hall, silenced by the hisses from gowned teachers stood around the walls of the hall.
"You will each receive an initial six strokes across the seat of your school knickers," the Headmaster intoned, "then your knickers will be taken down for six strokes on the bare bottom."
There came an inarticulate pleading from Jasmine Fenwick, which died off to a low tearful moan. The audience was too awed to do anything but gape as, with Miss Curzon's deft assistance, Jasmine and Ruby Blanche had their skirts raised to their waists and pinned up. Their navy-blue regulation knickers came into view, moulding each cheek of their bottoms and exposing the chubby undercurves as they bent forward across the stools.
Beneath the rounded twin targets now so brazenly displayed, the victims' thighs and the backs of their legs were bare to just below the knee where the socks began. It was obvious that, for the usually elegant Jasmine, the abject humiliation of her position was almost intolerable. The mouths of the audience hung open, saliva dripped, tummies tingled and clenched, hearts beat quicker, thrills of dread and excitement incandesced young bodies unaccustomed to such sights.
Doctor Unwin steadied his stance to the left of Jasmine's trembling form, raised the cane with his right arm and brought it swiftly down. The shaft whooshed through the air and landed with a resounding thwack across the centre of Jasmine's bottom. She shrieked and went into spasm over the stool-top, trampling her feet and making desperate squealing noises. A second later, as if choreographed, Miss Curzon, to the right of Ruby Blanche, lifted her cane and swept it down. The American girl's bottom was larger and more voluptuous than her friend's, and when the cane struck it sank into the plush softness, imparting a biting sting.
Ruby Blanche groaned hard and shivered, shaking her hips, but otherwise gave no sign of how much that stroke had hurt. At once the Headmaster's arm rose and swung the implement down again on Jasmine's smaller, tighter bottom. Her answering screech made the audience wince. Miss Curzon's cane immediately climbed ceilingwards, paused and swung down.
"Ooooooo!" groaned the American girl. Her face reddened and tears of pain dripped down her nose. The next four strokes from each tormentor swept down with appalling pain and accuracy, first from the left on to Jasmine's shapely little bottom; then from the right on to Ruby Blanche's deeper, plusher cushions in a slow thwack-thwack rhythm as regular as a metronome.
When six firm cane-strokes had been delivered to each culprit's knickered bottom there was a pause and then the Head's stern directive. "Girls, stand up!" Ruby Blanche put her hands on the stool-top and managed to push herself painfully upright, but Miss Curzon had to help Jasmine to her feet. Then both girls were directed to change places - it was clear that a fair distribution of Doctor Unwin's stronger caning arm had been thought out.
Responding to a nod from the Headmaster, Miss Curzon took the top of Jasmine's school knickers and peeled them down to her knees, exposing her naked buttocks to the entire school. The American girl's knickers soon followed the same downward path. The entire assembly held its collective breath as it gaped at the two bare bottoms so publicly exhibited, the soft flesh of each now seen to be streaked with six crimson cane-tracks.
Jasmine sobbed, making desperate and desolate pleas of "no...no...nooooooooo" and tried to cover her bottom with her hands, but Miss Curzon slapped them impatiently away and the girl's humiliation was complete.
"Bend across the stools again, tightly. Get right over and grip the strut on the far side," came the Headmaster's voice. He was gazing at the larger, plumper bottom of Ruby Blanche, now brazenly bare, which was his lot to deal with. Miss Curzon leaned forward and seemed to brush a fleck of cotton from Jazzy's smaller buttocks on which she was now to concentrate her attentions. The flesh shivered briefly, and to some of the girls in the audience it looked suspiciously like a grope.
The slender shaft in Doctor Unwin's hand climbed, paused, then flashed with a hiss through the air and struck hard across the American girl's naked buttocks. Ruby Blanche screeched. As if in answer, Miss Curzon's cane rose and fell. With a sharp thwack it cut into Jasmine's pert behind with such force that the stool rocked forward and Jasmine gave a despairing wail.
Thwack. In counterpoint to that cry, the Headmaster's cane sped to its mark, and even as Ruby Blanche warbled and kicked her legs, Jasmine gave a sobbing wail when Miss Curzon slashed her cane hard across the naked cheeks. Two more strokes followed from each punisher, firm and accurate, hurtling through the air with a hiss and a thwack to connect at full speed with its target. Perhaps, in all St. Hilda's venerable history, there had never been so thorough and severe a public caning as this one.
There were two more strokes to come. Savouring the moment, the Headmaster paused for several seconds. Not a sound could be heard in the hall except for the sobbing and whimpering from Jasmine Fenwick, and the laboured tearful gasps of Ruby Blanche. The waiting was an additional torment to them both.
Then the Head lifted his cane once more and whipped in to collide with Ruby Blanche's burning buttocks and spring away, imprinting another scarlet track. Miss Curzon followed suit, sweeping up her cane and thrashing it down on Jazzy's bare, roasting behind. This time the girl really screamed, convulsed now with crying.
"The final stroke of the final caning at St. Hilda's will now be delivered," Doctor Unwin intoned, his broad chest rising and falling. The excited whispers and rustles in the hall were stilled by teachers.
Up rose the Headmaster's arm while Miss Curzon tensed, ready to raise hers.
Thwack! Firmly and precisely, the Headmaster's cane soared through the air and sank into Ruby Blanche's buttocks for a last ferocious time, lower and harder than any stroke yet delivered. Her stool rocked forward with the force of it. The American girl gave a howl of anguish and finally broke down, sobbing hysterically, slumped lewdly over the stool as she jerked and writhed in an abandonment of pain, heedlessly exposing her secret places to everyone.
Moments later, Miss Curzon delivered her final stroke. The cane seemed to float through the air with an accelerating whoosh to slam into Jasmine's luridly streaked bottom at full strength. The sound, as it connected, was not very loud, but the pain it imparted was like a streak of flame. The girl let out a kind of mournful sigh, as if she could not be hurt any more, then she too slumped over her stool like a rag doll, legs apart, unconsciously displaying her private parts as her tummy squirmed and jerked against the cushion.
It was over. The very last caning in St. Hilda's centuries old history. As both profoundly punished girls continued to lie across the stools, crying piteously, Miss Curzon eased their knickers up and helped then to their feet. Then she led them, limping and sobbing, from the stage.
The hall was quickly cleared. It was Sunday so there were no lessons, but for hours afterwards a strange tension, a quality of breathlessness, hung over the school like a pall. Tomorrow it would be June, and such a sight as pupils and staff had just witnessed would never again be legally possible.
But that wasn't quite the end of it. Three evenings later, Adele Dixon was doing an intensive work-out in the gym on the low beam in readiness for the Schools Championships. She wore brief white shorts and a sleeveless T shirt on her supple young body and her flame-red hair was held back with a green bandana. No one else was about when two senior girls walked in, wearing blouses and jeans. They were Jasmine Fenwick and Ruby Blanche Cridland. They still walked rather stiffly but the American girl carried a cane.
"Tell on us, would you?" she snarled. "We're gonna make sure you put on a real fine display at those gymnastics of yours. Grab the bitch, Jazzy."
Jasmine didn't say a word but just grabbed Adele and held her tightly while Ruby helped her friend to force Adele across the beam on which she'd been exercising. It was at a height so that her hands and feet just touched the floor on either side. At the topmost apex of her struggling body, her bottom in its flimsy shorts was tight and high.
"Hit the bitch like we were hit, Jaz, c'mon!" yelled Ruby Blanche, dropping the cane to hold the struggling gymnast, who yelled in protest as Jasmine tugged off one of her trainers and proceeded to slam savagely at Adele's upturned bottom.
"Bare her ass, for Chrissake! Make her show it all, like we did! Use the cane!"
Jasmine tugged at the gymnast's shorts, ripping the seams so they tore away to expose her naked, wriggling buttocks. Adele's pleas fell on deaf ears as Jasmine snatched up the cane, measured her distance and let fly. The strokes were hard and pretty accurate, although a few did hit the back of Adele's thighs. Again and again the cane slashed across the gymnast's wriggling bottom, making lurid streaks. In the intensity of those minutes during which Adele was beaten, all track was lost as to how many strokes were delivered. It could have been as many as forty.
"And that's what happens to tattle-tales, legal or not!" snapped Ruby Blanche when Jasmine finally stopped, exhausted. Then they walked from the gym and left the weeping Adele still draped over the beam.
And how do I know all this? Because my name is Adele Dixon. No, it wasn't me who told on them. Someone else must have spotted those paint-stained clothes and gone to the Head. I got into the gymnastics team and went on the world tour but for weeks afterwards when I performed in my leotard those cane-streaks showed on the backs of my thighs and the bare parts of my bottom a gymnast can't help displaying.
As I said, that amazing time still haunts me. It always will.