The whole of class 5B stood up as Mr Driver, the headmaster, entered the classroom. He was obviously furious as he told them to sit down and then launched into an angry speech. He had not been at all amused by the discovery of frogs jumping about in his study that morning and he made it clear that he was not going to be satisfied until the culprit was discovered and punished. He was visiting all of the classrooms in turn and he made it clear that if no-one owned up the whole school would be detained that evening and the most searching inquiry instituted – which would be sure to result in the guilty party’s detection.
One boy in particular, Terry Eaves, was worried by the head’s announcement. As soon as the bell went for morning break he went over to his girlfriend, Jancy Smith, for urgent consultations. Terry had planted the frogs in Mr Driver’s study at the instigation of Jancy and her friends but now he was very apprehensive about the likely consequences.
The cane was not used frequently at Hillview Road School and Terry had never felt its effects, but he had seen boys in his class after a caning and he knew that he definitely didn’t want to find out for himself what it felt like. He was a physical coward and the idea of getting the cane from Mr Driver scared him stiff. But if he owned up he didn’t really expect that anything else would happen.
Terry tried to persuade Jancy that she should own up instead of him. He said that he would get the cane whereas she would only get lines or detention. He told her that he would make it up to her and would write out any lines for her himself. Of course Jancy was not very keen on the idea. She didn’t want to get into Mr Driver’s bad books and even if Terry could do her lines for her he certainly couldn’t do a detention for her. But it had been partly her idea, and with a mixture of pleading and blandishments her boyfriend managed to get her to agree.
At dinner time, after eating her school dinner – she had been on first sitting – Jancy walked slowly up to Mr Driver’s door wondering all the time if she should go through with it or just let Terry take his own medicine. She knocked on the door.
Timidly Jancy told Mr Driver that it had been she who had brought the frogs into his study. She said that she had done it as a joke. The headmaster’s tongue-lashing nearly reduced the sixteen year old to tears. He made it quite clear that he did not find it funny at all. “And I don’t think you will be feeling much like laughing in a few minutes time, my girl!”
He rose from his chair and walked slowly towards a cupboard in the corner of the room. Jancy was stupefied when she saw that he had opened it and withdrawn a cane! Her mouth gaped open in shock and she gazed at it in horror.
Mr Driver walked back to stand beside the astounded schoolgirl. “Right, Jancy, hold your left hand out. We’ll see if six strokes from this cane will make it clear to you that there is nothing funny or clever about your idea of practical jokes!”
Jancy found her voice. “Oh, no, sir! You can’t! Girls don’t get the cane!”
“Oh yes they do, miss! I don’t like using the cane on girls, or boys either come to that, and I don’t cane girls unless I consider it justified by exceptional circumstances. That hasn’t happened for a long time, although I did have to cane two young ladies about two years ago. But now I am sure that I would not be justified if I didn’t cane you! Hold your hand out right away!”
Jancy had never reckoned with this. Too shocked to disobey, she automatically extended her left hand. Mr Driver tapped the cane across the girl’s palm a couple of times and then raised it high in the air. He whipped it down with tremendous force and it hissed rapidly through the air, to be arrested in its rapid descent by the delicate flesh of Jancy’s left hand.
It had all come as such a surprise to Jancy that she had not known what to expect. But whatever she had expected this was worse. That one stroke of the cane had resulted in a line of intolerable pain blazing across her small hand. It felt as though the tender flesh had been slashed open. Jancy yelled at the top of her voice. She jumped a foot into the air and came down clutching her injured hand onto her stomach. Gasping in pain she ran into a corner of the study and squirmed there, trembling. She had been on the point of tears for some time and now they finally broke through, quietly but in a torrent.
“Come on girl! Don’t be such a little cry-baby. You had your fun this morning and you’ve got to pay for it now! I know it hurts. It’s supposed to! It’s no worse for you than for anyone else at this school.”
Jancy was staring in horror at the dark swelling weal on the pale flesh of her left palm and trying to gently nurse it with the fingers of her other hand. She knew that she couldn’t take another five strokes like that. Surely Terry could not expect her to. She would tell Mr Driver the truth and then he would let her off. It was all Terry’s fault, not hers. He was the one who deserved the cane!
Through her tears Jancy tried to explain the truth to the headmaster. “It wasn’t me, sir, honestly. Oww . . . it was Terry Eaves. He asked me to pretend it was me. He said I’d only get lines . . . ooh it hurts . . . Honestly it wasn’t me, really!”
It was a while before the headmaster understood what the girl was saying. It wasn’t easy to understand her through her tears and gasps of pain. But the fact that she’d mentioned an actual name convinced him that she was probably telling the truth. He told her to go outside and stand facing the wall in the corridor. When she was outside he phoned through to Mrs Hughes, his secretary, and asked her to have Terry Eaves of 5B sent to him straight away.
Jancy was still nursing her painful hand outside and trying to come to terms with the frightful throbbing. It didn’t sting as much as it had done at first, but she still couldn’t imagine having to take another five like that. She would never be able to hold her hand in place! Passing her hand in front of her face she blew on it. She knew Terry would hate her for giving her away, but what else could she have done? Pupils were walking along the main corridor of the school and some turned and noticed her standing outside the head’s office. Jancy hoped that they would not recognise her and would not know that she’d been caned. She managed to stop crying at last and wiped her face.
It was five minutes before Terry appeared. He saw Jancy standing outside the door.
“What’s up, Jancy?” he whispered. “How does he know about me?” Jancy did not answer him but silently showed him her caned palm. Biting his lip Terry knocked on the door and went in.
Jancy tried to imagine from the sounds what was happening inside the room. At first there was the dull murmur of voices followed by a long period of complete silence. Then, suddenly, a loud whoosh, a fierce crackk and a yell from Terry. And that was only the first!
There followed a succession of whooshs and crackks intermingled with cries of pain, sounding increasingly desperate. Jancy could imagine only too well now what that vicious cane would feel like across her friend’s backside, but she was not feeling too sorry for him. Her hand still hurt and she was wondering if the mark would still show when she got home that afternoon. It would be too shameful to have to tell her mother and younger brother that she’d had the cane.
There had already been several strokes before Jancy decided to start counting. She got to six, but the punishment still continued. How many was Terry going to get? Finally the sound of the caning stopped, but Jancy could still hear occasional loud sobs.
There was another pause, and then suddenly the door opened and Mr Driver beckoned her inside. As she entered the study Jancy saw her boyfriend standing facing the wall with his hands on his head and his trousers around his ankles. Several awful cane marks were visible on either side of his underpants and below them on the tops of his legs. His body shook from side to side as he stood there. It made an already severe punishment worse to be seen like that by Jancy.
“Sit down, Jancy!” said the headmaster, the cane still in his hands.
Jancy was surprised at this request, but obeyed readily enough. There was now a wooden chair in the middle of the room, over which she guessed Terry had had to bend, and she sat down on it.
“Well, Jancy,” the headmaster continued, “I have administered twelve very hard strokes of this cane across the seat of your friend’s underpants. I think it will be a long time before Eaves feels tempted to play practical jokes again!
“Eaves has had twelve strokes, Jancy. Six for the ‘practical joke’ and another six of the best for the attempt to deceive me! Now, I believe that you were not directly involved with the frogs’ incident, but you are just as much to blame as he is for the deception and I intend to punish you for it! Six strokes, Jancy! But as you have already received one stroke of the cane today I am prepared to let you off with just another five!”
Jancy stared at him horror-stricken, unable to speak. This couldn’t be happening!
“Now I saw the way you reacted to the first stroke, Jancy, and I don’t think I can trust you to keep your hands out for your whole punishment. But you are by no means the first girl I have had occasion to cane and I have a method which has always proved satisfactory in the past. Sit still, now!”
Jancy had begun to cry quietly again, but was too shocked to disobey. In a daze she felt the headmaster fold her skirt back leaving her upper legs effectively bare. Then he told her to hold her left hand a few inches above her bared legs.
“Now, Jancy,” he said, “I am going to give you another five strokes. If you move your hand the cane will hit your legs and I can assure you it will sting like mad! Furthermore if you do move your hand that stroke will not be counted.”
Jancy gulped and closed her eyes tight. Her hand was still stinging sharply, but reluctantly she held it out until it hovered over her bare legs.
Without another word the powerful man brought the long cane down with all his strength from a great height onto the girl’s slender fingers:
Swissh!! . . . Craackk!
“Ow! Ow! Ow! Please no more!” wailed Jancy as another crimson line appeared across her hand. But she kept it there for the next one – she realized that if her hand escaped then her legs would be hurt just as badly, and there would be an extra stroke in addition!
Swissh!! . . . Craackk!
“Waaaah! No! It hurts too much! Please stop – please!” yelled the pain-stricken sixteen year old. And she jerked her hand away thrusting it into her opposite armpit for protection. Mr Driver regarded the hapless girl impassively. After a few moments he said, in a level voice, “Other hand now, please.”
Jancy was relieved that her left hand was not to be caned any more, but the idea of her so far undamaged right hand being reduced in its turn to a condition of pure pain was awful.
“Come on, girl!” urged the headmaster.
Her face screwed up with pain the crying girl extended her right palm.
This time, though, Jancy’s nerve failed her and she pulled her hand away at the last moment. “AAARGHH!! AAAAGH!! OWWW!!!” she screamed as the thin whippy rod curled itself across her naked legs. This was soon followed by a deep crimson weal showing the cane’s stinging progress.
“I warned you,” said the stern headmaster, “I shan’t count that one, which means you’ve got three more to come on that hand!”
Mr Driver was as good as his word and each stroke was greeted with agonized screams, pitiful pleading and a drumming of the floor with her feet in a vain attempt to relieve the intolerable fire. At the end the girl was left nursing both hands and crying her eyes out.
The headmaster returned the cane to its cupboard, went back to his desk and sat down. “Stand up, Jancy!” he ordered.
Whimpering with misery and pain the weeping girl obeyed. As she did so her green skirt fell down to cover the smarting welt on the front of her thighs. Mr Driver told Terry to pull his trousers back up and stand next to Jancy.
After a few well-chosen words the headmaster took his punishment book out of a drawer of his desk and made the necessary entries therein. Then he told the two tearful and wriggling teenagers that they could go. He told them that he would be preparing notes to send to the parents of both of them and that they should come back after school to collect these from Mrs Hughes.
Afternoon school had long started when they left the study. Neither sixteen year old spoke to the other as they made their way down the headmaster’s corridor. Then, as they reached the corner, both turned to the other and said, simultaneously, “I’m sorry!”
Terry laughed through his pain and put his arms around Jancy, hugging her tightly to him.
“Oh, God, Jancy,” he said, “I really am sorry. That bastard really hurt you. You’re the bravest girl in the world!”
Just then Miss James, the Art teacher, came along. “What are you doing out of class?” she asked.
Terry and Jancy were both too embarrassed at first, but finally he said, “We had to see Mr Driver. We’ve both had the cane!”
Miss James was surprised. “What, you too, Jancy?”
The girl did not say anything, but dumbly showed the teacher her swollen, cane-marked palms.
“Gosh! He’s made a good job of that! I’ll bet you felt those! Well, I’m quite sure you deserved it! Now both of you get back to your classes unless you want another dose.
They scuttled away. Neither wanted to make further acquaintance with that viciously stinging cane!