We resume our story during the lunch break. It has been a very educational morning, and the students are contemplating the afternoon with some trepidation.
Stephen waited until Vicky had taken the still-sniffling Amanda out of the dining-room, presumably to take her back to her own room for an application of Moon Balm to her undoubtedly needy posterior. Then, helping himself to a small portion of salad from the array which had been set out, he sat down beside Ruth. She was not eating much either, and Stephen was not surprised. It was hard to work up an appetite in the present circumstances.That was an excellent tutorial on caning, don't you think? The attention to detail was exquisite. The Reverend M is quite an expert. But we aren't done yet. Next week, Stephen receives the balance of his 'instruction'.
"How do you feel?" he began, a little diffidently.
"About what?" Ruth's voice carried an edge, perhaps betraying her nervousness.
"Well, I mean, about this morning, this whole course." He hesitated and then decided to take the bull by the horns. "No, damn it, I really mean about this course, about you and me, and this afternoon. Look, Ruth, we don't know each other very well. We met only yesterday. That's part of the trouble really but, hell, I mean, you must have worked it out?"
He looked at her, exasperated that she was making this so difficult for him.
"This man, Mould, he said this morning that we would be working in pairs, and you've seen what happened with Amanda and Vicky. Well that must mean that this afternoon we will be...working together."
"Yes, I suppose you're right. In fact, on this morning's performance, I suppose that we must both expect to give a little and take a little."
"Exactly so, and I don't know about you, but I can't see any way round it. I was sent here for a reason and I value my job enough to put up with this psycho, even if it is pretty embarrassing. I can't just walk out of here, much as I'd like to, can you?"
"No, I suppose not."
"I thought so. So I guess we'll just have to grin and bear it, won't we?"
Ruth looked at him sternly. "Look, we're both adults, and we both know what this is partly about," she said firmly. "I know that you are going to have to smack my bottom, or worse, and I can guess what will be going through your mind while you are doing it. Just don't get any ideas beyond that though. OK?"
Her blunt remarks took Stephen's breath away. "Well, yes, I suppose so. I mean it's nice of you to take it that way, but I didn't mean..." His voice tailed off lamely.
"Oh yes you did, and we both know it, so let's try and be adult about this, shall we? Bizarre as it is, this is supposed to be a learning experience for both of us. We're here for a reason, so just do as the Reverend says, calmly and efficiently, just like he does it himself, and let's get it over as quickly, calmly and responsibly as possible. Agreed?"
"Agreed." As he spoke, Amanda and Vicky returned to the room, both looking rather happier than when they had left it.
"That Moon Balm is really the most amazing stuff," Vicky bubbled. "You should have seen Amanda's bottom. It was fire-engine red all over and it must have hurt like hell, but I rubbed some of that stuff well in and now she can hardly feel a thing. Can you, Mandy, love?"
"You don't have to be quite so explicit." Even the normally morose Amanda wryly acknowledged the amusement that Vicky's enthusiasm had generated at her expense. "Your own bum was a pretty livid colour as well, now you come to mention it."
"True. The Reverend has quite a hard hand, I can tell you! I can tell you something else as well," Vicky whispered in a conspiratorial manner, "it wasn't just his hand that was hard when he put me over his knee. I could feel it, poking right into my tummy!" Vicky grinned impishly, looking in Stephen's direction. "I'd guess you two are going to be in for it this afternoon. Don't worry, it won't kill you. It just feels like it will at the time."
Stephen had enjoyed seeing Vicky put across the Reverend Mould's knee, her plump little bottom had waggled so enticingly he had almost lost control, but right now he could have cheerfully strangled her. The fact of the matter was that he had become so wrapped up in the morning's events that he had almost forgotten why they were there and that he was a key part of it, not just a voyeur. Amanda's strapping had been pretty exciting, although he was not too taken with her spare, lean figure. Nonetheless her bottom had been naked and the punishment had sustained his excitement at fever pitch. The thought of seeing the beautiful Ruth, in similar circumstances, and even being part of the tableau himself, had been almost more than Stephen could stand. Vicky's timely reminder that, in all probability, he would have to expose himself, literally, to humiliating punishment in front of these three women hit him like a wet sponge in the face.
All too soon, it seemed, the Reverend was calling them back into the main hall. As they made their way down the centre aisle, Stephen's gaze was again drawn to the waxwork which formed the first tableau as they entered the room. He was beginning to develop a morbid fascination with the display. The schoolboy bent across the stool was incredibly life-like, his hands reaching low down on the legs of the stool to grasp the crossbar, his bottom raised and vulnerable to the master, whose cane was drawn back and about to strike. The unhappy boy was frozen at the moment when he looked over his shoulder and saw the dreaded implement about to descend on to his tightly-stretched shorts. The wax sculptor, whoever he or she may have been, must have taken this scene from a real event, thought Stephen. How else could they have so perfectly captured the expression of anguished anticipation the boy wore?
Stephen shivered and made haste to join the girls, who were already seated in front of the waiting Reverend Mould. "Late again, Mr. Langton? This really won't do, you know." The voice was chiding and Stephen knew that it would make little difference to the final outcome whatever he might do or say now.
"We now move on to the more serious side of our course; the cane and its use." The Reverend began his lecture, cool as a cucumber. He might have been addressing the local ladies flower arranging group for all the passion he displayed, thought Stephen.
"The cane is the traditional implement of choice, for punishment of both males and females, in the English school system. Canes may be made from a variety of materials, not all of them cane in the true sense of the word. Impromptu implements of punishment can be shaped very easily from switches cut from any hedgerow. Hazel, willow and young ash-plants are all suitable. However, rattan is the most popular and that, certainly, is a real cane. Other species used include malacca and bamboo. Neither of these possess the combination of light weight and extreme flexibility which rattan enjoys. Malacca is too knobbly and bamboo is liable to splinter, so neither is as good as the real thing."
He paused to ensure that his audience was listening.
Stephen was certainly paying attention. Brought up in the fourth quarter of the 20th century, he had not had to face the strict disciplinary code which was now, once again, the norm for young people. He had never felt so much as a slipper across his bottom as a lad, much less the cane. Now he was beginning to wish he had been more strictly dealt with as a boy. At least he would have been hardened to what he was sure would follow this little talk.
If he was aware of Stephen's discomfiture, the Reverend Mould did not show it. "The standard British school cane was, indeed still is, universally manufactured from rattan, and is typically supplied with one end already curled into a handle. Lengths vary from about two feet, which I do not think is effective unless given across the hands for minor offences, to about four feet."
From the rustle of movement as four pairs of hands were surreptitiously massaged, Stephen guessed that he was not the only one who imagined a tingle across the palm from the previous evening's introduction.
"Canes longer than about four feet will be difficult to control and aim properly. Beware of canes that are too long; it is better to use a slightly shorter weapon, and to strike slightly harder. The weight of a cane is the important thing. Rattan is a very light material. Anyone not appreciating that might choose their canes on the slender side, thinking they are being merciful. In fact, the opposite is true; a thin cane is far more likely to cut. Thicker canes spread the impact and are less liable to break the skin, a situation to be avoided if at all possible."
The Reverend paused and took a sip from a glass of water which had been placed on the table before the start of the lecture.
"The cane is, as I have said, a severe instrument, and should be used with respect. It is not necessary to insist that it is applied to the bare skin. A good caning will easily penetrate one layer of clothing. Six or twelve strokes applied with vigour to a tightly presented target will cause enough distress to expiate most offences. The advantages of applying the cane across the bare bottom are that one can observe the progress and effect of the punishment, and check one's aim. Even a light caning will leave visible weals, in addition to the usual blushing of the more generally affected area. If the strokes are administered at a slow pace, say, one stroke every ten seconds , there is time to observe these marks begin to develop, and correct one's aim accordingly. All strokes should be delivered into as narrow a band as possible, and that area should correspond with the plumpest and best padded part of the posterior." The Reverend took a longer pause, then fixed Stephen in his cold, fish-like, stare. "Mr. Langton, I believe that you admitted to having been awarded ten points?"
Stephen's mouth was so dry he could hardly get the words out. "It was eight, actually."
"Oh, I had quite thought it was ten. Never mind, I think it is time you joined in our little demonstration." Stephen slowly rose to his feet, still unsure, right to the last moment, whether he could, or should, go through with this.
"Come along now, Mr. Langton. With the examples of Miss Plum and Miss Price to inspire you, surely you are not afraid?" Stephen most certainly was, but the jibe got to his pride. He advanced on the Reverend, determined to get it over with.
"Would you please go to the cabinet from which Miss Price found the tawse this morning. Bring me the cane you will find there."
While Stephen went to fetch the implement, he heard the Reverend continue to lecture behind him. "Administering a caning is a matter of practice. You should use a minimum of real force. At the beginning of each stroke, the hand leads the tip of the cane. It continues to lead throughout the descent. Only at the last moment does the wrist flick forward , so that the business end of the cane catches up, striking at exactly the right angle to the posterior. Thank you, Mr. Langton." He took the cane which Stephen was holding out to him.
"Canings cannot be given in the positions you would use for a simple spanking, over the knee for example, due to the length of the weapon. They must be inflicted with the recipient bent over and, if necessary, held. For example, touching the toes, or across a chair or a desk. A culprit bending over, clasping his, or her, shins with the knees straight and feet together is presented at precisely the correct angle. Although, personally, I feel that to give a really good caning, it is necessary to provide some support; so that the victim does not tend to move about quite so much as would otherwise be the case. Today we will use a simple chair as a support. Take up your position please, Mr. Langton."
He motioned to the chair on which he had made Amanda kneel. "Just stand with your feet slightly apart and about so far back from the chair." He indicated a spot on the floor with the tip of the cane, about two feet from the chair legs. "Now just bend over and grasp the seat of the chair. Do not let go until I tell you that you may do so." Reluctantly, Stephen did as he was told, his face reddening. He did not really fear the pain, but he felt it was humiliating to be treated like this in front of the girls.
"Note that I am standing slightly to the left of the target. This ensures that the tip of the cane, which travels faster than the rest of the instrument during the latter part of the flight, strikes the far buttock at precisely the same instant and with the same force, as the rest of the cane makes contact with the near buttock. The result should be a perfect stripe across the broadest part of the bottom."
Without any warning, the cane swept round with a whoosh and landed across the seat of Stephen's shorts. The thin material gave him no protection at all, the shock of the blow made him jerk his body, lifting his head involuntarily. The chair legs scraped on the floor and Stephen bit his lip to avoid crying out at the very first stroke.
"This mark will immediately appear in white as you finish the stroke. Then it will fade, to reappear within less than a minute as a thin red weal."
The voice behind him carried on its monologue. The clinical description of what was happening to him only served to concentrate Stephen's mind on the narrow band of pain which was intensifying with every second that passed. He found himself longing for the second stroke; its arrival would at least deflect some of the pain to a fresh spot.
"The result of a sound caning should be a welted bottom, certainly, but not a scarified one. if the bottom is not vividly marked, then the punishment has been too mild and will be too rapidly forgotten. But there should not be so much as the merest pinprick of blood. That would be simple brutality."
Again the cane sliced through the air and Stephen felt as if his world was coming to an end. The stroke had landed almost precisely over the first and he was in agony, but somehow he held his tongue and maintained his position.
"The cane should hum or whistle in the stroke and fall across the target with a sharp snap, like a toy pistol. There should be a pause between strokes, a minimum of ten seconds. When a culprit is bending over in the conventional position, do not make the mistake of aiming your stroke downwards. The chances are that you may hit or graze the base of the spine, or the cane will fall at an awkward, grazing angle, or you may punish the upper half of the buttocks and leave the lower, more sensitive, portion unscathed. Take a horizontal, or even upward aim, draw the cane back slowly within the same arc, then whip the forearm and wrist smartly through from one side to the other, keeping your eyes on the exact spot you are aiming for."
This time, Stephen could not suppress a sharp yell of pain as the Reverend demonstrated his point with devastating precision.
"Do not look up from this spot until you have completed the stroke. If the buttocks have been bared beforehand, observe the mark and compare it to your point of aim. Then adjust the next stroke accordingly. An even greater error is to be over-harsh. The difference between the lightest cut that may reasonably be given and the severest is not large, and if greater severity is required it is safer to increase the number of strokes, or to apply some additional measure, such as baring the bottom, or administering the punishment in public..or, indeed, all three."
"Aaaaahhh!" Stephen could not restrain himself as the fourth stroke felt as if it had penetrated to the bone. So far all four strokes had been planted within an inch of each other and his entire being was now centred on the intense band of fire which seemed to be burning his backside in two.
"I see that we are convincing you of the validity of my lecture, Mr. Langton. I propose to give you just one more, then I shall invite Miss Jamieson to come up and administer the last three, making up your total of eight points. Will that arrangement be all right with you?"
The story so far: