Tuesday, May 29, 2018

From the Top Shelf - The Last Chords

This is another of those wonderful GeorgieC school stories and I am so pleased to be able to share it with you here.
The last chords of the hymn faded away, and the pupils sat down noisily.

The Headmaster strode to the front of the stage and gazed out at the 984 pairs of eyes looking back at him. The clock at the back of the Hall ticked on to 9 o'clock precisely.

"Before I dismiss Assembly this morning, I have an unfortunate task to complete." His eyes swept the school gathered before him. "Yesterday afternoon someone entered my office and made a photocopy of the final year English Language examination paper."

There was a muffled gasp from the assembled throng. Millwood High School was renowned as being a school of high integrity and moral tradition, reinforced by a strong disciplinary regime. The idea that someone from the school could demean themselves to such an extent, or more importantly, run the risk of facing the consequences of such an action was almost incomprehensible. A low murmuring developed, and some of the younger pupils visibly shook at the thought.

"Silence!" The murmuring subsided immediately.

"I will give the culprit, whoever he or she may be, the opportunity to own up now, and come along to my office after Assembly to accept the penalty for their actions." He stood silently and waited. The clock ticked on, two minutes past nine. Three minutes past nine. The atmosphere was electric. No-one moved for fear of being implicated by the slightest twitch, but eyes all around the Hall swivelled from left to right to see if anyone else moved. No-one did.

He spoke again, his tone authoritative but calm. "Right then - I have no alternative but to ask Sarah Harvey from Form 6A to come up here onto the stage".

There was an immediate chorus of noise from the Hall. Sarah Harvey? She was the school's star pupil. Much was expected of her. She was guaranteed a good University place next year, maybe even an Oxbridge place - surely she couldn't be involved?

From the back of the Hall where the Sixth Form sat Sarah rose and slowly started to make her way to the front of the Hall. Her legs were shaking, her face was crimson, but above all her mind was in turmoil. How on earth could he know it had been her?

It had been an act of kindness, a typical thoughtful act. Her boyfriend Matt Lewis wasn't academic like her, although he worked hard. He struggled and muddled his way through, and although she had tried to coach him he couldn't grasp everything - or frankly even enough to cover all the possible topics that might crop up. So she had formulated an idea - one that would help Matt get the success in exams that his hard work deserved. To be sure of success she would coach him in the topics that would crop up. She would sneak into the Headmaster's office and take a copy of the papers which she had seen on his desk in an envelope earlier in the day when she had been discussing her University applications.

The thing was that no-one would suspect her at all - she wouldn't need to see the papers in advance to get a high mark. It would, of course, be obvious that the papers had been tampered with, and although Matt would normally be a prime suspect, he was playing a school football match, watched by the Headmaster. The perfect alibi.

Just to make sure though, Sarah resolved to tell no-one, no-one at all, about her plan. That way, no-one could give her away. Even Matt wouldn't know, and hopefully would just think it coincidence that the very topics she had coached him were the ones that came up on the exam. It was foolproof.

And yet, here she now was reaching the stairs at the foot of the stage, slowly climbing the stairs, all ten of them, now standing beside the Headmaster on the stage, the whole school watching, silent now, but aghast at the drama being played out in front of them.

The Headmaster looked sternly at her. "Do you have anything to say for yourself?" He didn't even give her the chance to deny the charge. That he knew for certain was crystal clear.

She shook her head, the tears welling up in her blue eyes. She was in fact only slightly smaller than the Headmaster, but now crestfallen and forlorn she appeared much smaller. The blonde ponytail swayed from side to side. Her hands fidgeted away at the edges of her blue skirt, her knees were visibly shaking. She had no answers, only one question. A question she could not really ask, but which she inwardly begged for an answer "How does he know it was me?"

"I should of course expel you immediately for such a gross breach of trust". More tears welled up in her eyes, and started to course their way down her cheeks. She bit her lip, trying to stifle a loud sob.

"However, in view of the fact that you have such prospects ahead of you, prospects that would be ruined by such an action, I am prepared to offer an alternative punishment - a caning."

Sarah looked even more forlorn at this prospect, but slowly nodded. Only once before in her entire school life had she been caned, and vowed avidly that it would never happen again. She had been in the Third Form, and she, two other girls and four of the boys had been caught out of bounds at the village sweet shop. She remembered vividly the queue in the corridor outside the Headmaster's office. She remembered the sounds travelling through the closed door of the canings being administered within. The shuffle forward as one unfortunate left the Study, face red and moist, to be replaced by the pupil at the front of the queue. She remembered vividly it being her turn - the lecture, raising her skirt up to her waist in front of the Headmaster, bending over the chair. She remembered the four stinging whacks across her white knickers, and then it was over. She vowed never to be caned again - and yet here she was, a Sixth Former now, agreeing in front of the whole school to a caning. She desperately tried to remember what knicks she had put on that morning, hoping that they would offer some protection for the coming ordeal.

"As you did not avail yourself of the opportunity offered before, however, of being honest straight away and owning up to your misdeed, I shall administer the punishment as an example to all. I will administer the punishment here and now in front of the school - I will administer a full public caning."

For the first time Sarah spoke. "No! Please not that, sir!! Pl-e-e-e-ease!!!"

Another gasp arose from the school, and this time many of the boys were beginning to sit up and take notice. A full public caning! Of a girl!!

In living memory of the school there had only been four full public canings, and all of those were to boys. The thought of what that entailed was now causing great interest and commotion. Opinions were already being expressed. "No, not for girls, she won't have to….I know they did, but it's different for boys….No, not in front of the boys, she'll keep them on…..He's not allowed to…."

The Headmaster glared at the Assembly. "Quiet!"

Suddenly, before Sarah knew what was happening Mr Dobson was bringing a chair from the back of the stage. He placed it behind Sarah as she looked over the sea of faces, each one wide-eyed and open-mouthed. Mrs Lees seemed to glide from the back of the stage, and handed the Senior cane to the Headmaster.

"Turn round, Sarah, face the back of the stage, and raise your skirt up to your waist".

Sarah couldn't believe this was happening to her, but hoping desperately that by complying she may avoid the worst possibility - avoid what she herself had witnessed during the boys' public canings. It was not to be.

"Pull your pants down and bend over the chair".

The boys in the audience sat up straight, straining for a better view. Sarah knew she was defeated, and, hoping that at least Matt would appreciate the view, she slowly slid her white knickers down to her knees and reached far over the back of the chair. Her bare bottom faced out towards the school.

Six times the cane rose, six times it fell with a loud crack, and six times Sarah squealed, each time louder than the last. And at last it was over. She stood up, and delicately pulled her pants back up over her aching and, as all in the school could see, very red bottom.

She stood and listened as the Headmaster gave a lecture to her and to all around - a lecture about honesty, integrity, trust, and most of all retribution. She painstakingly made her way back to her seat at the back of the Hall, watched all the way by the entire population of the school, both pupils and teachers.

But as she made her way back, one thought kept pounding through her head. "How did he know it was me?"

The Headmaster made his way back to his office, picked up the controller, and pressed the Play button for the Video recorder.

There on the TV screen, filmed by the secret security camera, Sarah was clearly to be seen, entering his office, opening the envelope, photocopying the papers, leaving the room.

He smiled briefly and nodded. Justice had been done.
Cheaters never prosper.
From Hermione's Heart


Roz said...

Great little story Hermione, thank you. Poor Sarah, good intentions, but...


Hermione said...

Roz - Yes, she meant well, but should have known better.


Glenmore said...

Thanks Hermon, love those stories about school caning. They bring back fond memories.
I recall being in one of those line ups like the one in the story with other boys and girls waiting to be caned for skipping class.
Only difference was we all got to watch and the girls were caned on their hands while we got it on our backsides.Despite being guilty of the same offence the girls only received two strokes while we got 6.Seemed a bit unfair to me but still a great memory for some reason.

ronnie said...

Hermione, nice story. Thank you and as you same - cheaters never prosper.


Hermione said...

The Glenmore - I would hate it on my hands. At our school naughty boys got the strap on their hands. Girls stayed in after school or wrote lines.

Ronnie - A good life lesson.


Georgiec said...

Thanks for the kind comments, everyone. Glad you liked it.