When I was sixteen my family moved and I had to join a new school. It was a mixed school, unlike my old one which had been just girls, and I went into the fifth form. At my new school I soon found out that the cane was used - although rarely - on us girls, and in fact about half the girls in my class had had the cane at one time or another - usually two strokes; one on each hand. Boys were caned more frequently - they were punished by the headmaster, usually six strokes with a minimum of four.
Halfway through my first term I and three other girls were reported by the coach driver for 'rowdiness' coming back from a school trip. The four of us were told to wait outside the senior mistress's office at half past three. During afternoon break I asked the others what they thought would happen. Would we get the cane? And did it hurt as much as I'd heard?
Jill said that she was sure that we would get the cane as two girls from another class had been caned for a similar thing the previous term. Jill had herself been caned several times - the last time only the week before - and it was obvious that she was not looking forward to a repeat experience. She told us that Miss Sheldon had warned her that if she was sent to her again that term she would get not just an ordinary two stroke caning, but two strokes on each hand.
Anna, a tall girl with long mousy hair, grimaced. "Gosh, Jill," she said, "two strokes hurt quite enough for me last time! I can't imagine what four would be like!" I had not known until then that Anna had also had the cane before.
The other girl, Cathy, had managed to get through her time at school up till then without ever getting the cane, and she must have been as nervous as I was. She asked Jill and Anna if they had any tips as to how to hold the hands so as to reduce the pain.
Jill shook her head, saying that the only thing she could suggest was to try to stand underneath the light so as to reduce the swing of Miss Sheldon's arm, but that the senior mistress would probably not let them get away with it. She showed us her palms and I could see the marks left by the cane over a week before.
At half past three the four of us were lined up outside Miss Sheldon's office. Jill knocked on the door and we were called in. Miss Sheldon lined us up along a wall and went into a long lecture about how we had let the school down. She took a cane out of a cupboard and stood facing us. She reminded Jill that it was only a week since she had last been dealt with and that the point clearly hadn't been made, adding that this time it would be.
She beckoned to Jill to come forward and stand in the centre of the room and then told her to hold her hand out. Jill extended her left arm. The position, however, was not to Miss Sheldon's liking. She tapped Jill's hand with the cane a few times until the hand was in exactly the right place. Jill stood erect with a straight back and her hand perfectly still, but her lips were twitching slightly.
She didn't budge as the cane was raised above the woman's shoulders. Then it whistled down with frightening speed and force, to be intercepted in its arcing descent by the tender palm of Jill's hand. I watched Jill's face at the moment of impact and saw how she blinked her eyes, jerked back her head and contorted her lips as the pain hit her. I could see that the first stroke had hurt even though she lowered her hand slowly,and apparently unconcernedly, to her side.
Miss Sheldon ordered her to present her other hand, and Jill's right hand received the same treatment. This time a sharp intake of breath showed that the pain was getting through to her. She stood still with both hands pressed tight to the sides of her skirt, but then she could no longer resist her instincts and thrust her right hand in front of her face and blew on it furiously.
Jill took her next two strokes, which were delivered with equal force, quite well considering, her hands twitching as they waited for their next painful whacks. I had been so fascinated by the awfulness of her caning that it was with a shock that I realised that it was over and that I might be next. But it was Anna at whom Miss Sheldon pointed her cane next and who moved forward to take up the place vacated by Jill, who had now rejoined Cathy and myself against the wall.
Anna's whole body shook as she held out her left hand for the first stroke and I could see that she was already on the point of tears. She was taller than Jill but somehow seemed much more vulnerable. Miss Sheldon's cane rose and swished down. As she received the blow Anna's face crumpled and she gasped with pain. Her hand jerked away and her body doubled forward. She was allowed a few moments and was then told to hold out her other hand, but it was quite a while before she reluctantly did so.
Then it was all over and Anna burst into tears and did a wild dance of pain, waving her hands about.
Cathy was next. Miss Sheldon flexed the cane between her hands as she spoke. "This is the first time you've been sent to me for the cane, Catherine. I hope you will make sure it is the last. As neither you nor Sandra have been here before I will use the junior cane."
Then she walked back to the cupboard and exchanged the cane for another one, somewhat shorter and thinner. Cathy took her two strokes better than Anna had, but I could see that they had really hurt.
It was my turn. Miss Sheldon spoke. "I don't like caning new girls, or any girls, come to that," she said, "but you must realise I have no choice in the matter. As you have only been here for a short time I will only give you one stroke. Hold out your left hand!"
The time had come at last. I held out my hand as steadily as I could and tried to tense myself. I had intended to keep my eyes shut but instead I gazed as if hypnotised at the cane. At the last moment I dragged my eyes away and as it flashed down I was looking straight into Miss Sheldon's eyes.
The cane landed across the centre of my palm, just below the line of the base of my fingers. It felt as though my fingers had been cut off. My hand became the centre of the universe for me and when I could take notice of my surroundings again Miss Sheldon had put the cane down and was once more addressing us. I don't suppose that any of us was in a position to fully concentrate on her words but I recall her saying to Jill, "Remember it's the headmaster for you next time!" Then she gave each of us a sealed note for our parents and told us to go.
Jill led the way to the washrooms and advised us to run the cold tap and put our hands under the water. It did take away the worst of the sting. As we stood there bathing our hands Jill told me that the cane Miss Sheldon had used on her and Anna was nicknamed 'Biter', while Cathy and I had felt 'Stinger'.
I asked Jill what Miss Sheldon had meant by her warning about the headmaster. She explained that girls were only rarely sent to see him, but that when they were they got at least six whacks on their bottoms from the same cane that he used on the boys. "I'm going to keep out of trouble," she said, "I happen to like being able to sit down!"
Cathy said that she was not looking forward to showing the note to her mum. We all agreed and I suggested 'losing' them. But Jill told me there were tear-off portions to the notes which had to be signed by our parents and returned.
When I got home and mum read the note and examined my hand I was sent to my room to wait for dad. When he got home I had to bend over the side of my bed in my pyjamas and dad laid into me with his slipper until I was yelling and begging for mercy.
Next day I found out that Cathy, too, had been spanked at home - in her case with a hairbrush.
Jill did try to improve her behaviour, but she couldn't help mucking about. She was sent back to Miss Sheldon on a few more occasions but she never did anything serious enough to justify being sent to the headmaster. As for me, I accompanied Jill on one of her visits and found out just how much two strokes from 'Biter' hurt.
One of the four of us, though, was fated to feel the headmaster's cane.
Anna and I stayed on to the sixth form but the other two left. We both became, in common with many of our friends, committed Socialists. One fateful day the school received a visit from our local MP, a Conservative. Anna and I decided that we would play a practical joke on him. We bought some red paint and daubed it on his car, a Daimler.
The headmaster was furious when he was told about it and an immediate investigation was started. Red paint was found on Anna's clothes. She couldn't come up with an innocent explanation and was sent to the headmaster. I was terrified that my part in the business would come out, although I knew Anna wouldn't give me away unless she had to.
Anna reappeared after her visit in the middle of an English lesson. Her hands were tightly clenched into fists at her sides. She limped to her desk and stood in her place without even trying to sit down. The teacher asked her if she would prefer to stand for the remainder of the lesson and she nodded. I could see she had been crying and was still very close to tears. No-one laughed or made remarks because it was so obvious just how much Anna was hurting.
After that lesson lots of us tried to found out what had happened, but she would not say anything to anyone. She didn't stay for the rest of the lessons that morning, but went home and took the rest of the day off. After school I went round to her house to see how she was.
At first Mrs Hardy would not let me in but I asked her to tell her daughter that it was me and then I heard Anna's voice calling me up to her room. Anna was lying face down on her bed wearing a nightie. I thanked her for not giving me away and asked her if it was wearing off. She got up off the bed slowly and said "Oh, Sandra! It hurt so much!"
She told me the outline of what had happened.
The headmaster had been very angry. He had called in his secretary as a witness and taken out a cane from a cupboard. Anna said it was longer and thicker than Miss Sheldon's 'Biter' and a darker brown in colour. He ordered Anna to take a chair and place it in the centre of the room. He took his jacket off and swished the cane twice through the air. Then she was told to bend over the back of the chair and she felt the headmaster raise her skirt and slip out of the way so as to reveal her rather scanty panties - which, according to Anna, afforded her no protection whatsoever.
Then the caning started. Understandably Anna did not give me a detailed description, but she said it was incomparably worse than anything Miss Sheldon had ever given us.
When it was over Miss Cherrett, the secretary, had to help her up as she could hardly stand. Miss Cherrett had helped her out of the office and let her stand in her own room for a while to try to recover until the headmaster came out and angrily told her get off to her lessons.
I asked Anna if I could see the marks. At first she was unwilling, but I reminded her that I was quite likely to be collecting marks on my own bottom soon if anyone found out about my involvement. She agreed and lay down on her bed again and let me raise her nightie. Her bottom was covered by ugly purplish-bluish marks with raised weals running through them. These swollen ridges were about a quarter of an inch high, and where they crossed I could see awful bruises emerging.
Anna did not come to school next day and could still hardly sit down when she did return on the next day. It was over a week before she could sit down properly, and even then she told me that it still hurt.
I was really worried for the first few days that I would be found out and be caned like Anna. But as time passed I realised that I had escaped. I was obviously relieved but at the same time felt guilty that Anna had suffered so much while I, just as guilty, had escaped.