I was sitting in my oak-panelled study waiting for Tomkins of the Sixth to report to me. He didn’t know it yet, but I was going to give him twelve on the bare. He needed to learn a lesson and I was the one to teach it.
I luxuriated in my armchair reading the evening newspaper, enjoying my pipe. I was in no hurry. I had made him wait all day and only now, just before lights out, I sent word for him to see me immediately.
There was a light tap on the study door. Tomkins was here. I paused before answering. “Come!”
Tomkins knew he was due a beating. The door handle turned slowly and very reluctantly he pushed the door open and stepped cautiously into my study.
“Come in boy! Don’t dawdle! Close the door!” I snapped.
He closed the door as instructed and stood only a couple of paces inside the room, not sure what to do next.
“You wanted to see me sir.”
I peered at him over the top of my reading glasses. Tomkins, an eighteen-year-old senior boy, a prefect no less, was dressed in green-and-white-striped pyjamas. He was hopping from one bare foot to another in confusion.
“I’m not yet ready for you! Face the wall and wait for me.”
He looked around the study unsure where he was meant to go. It was a large room; one side was dominated by an as-yet unlit open fireplace. Mahogany bookshelves behind glass doors ran the length of the room alongside it.
The other main wall had closed cupboards, for teaching materials and so-forth. One cupboard that was taller and narrower than the others contained implements of an especial educational nature.
“There boy,” I pointed with my pipe to the corner nearest the door.
He turned around to face away from me.
“Closer boy! I want to see your nose touch the wall.” He shuffled into position.
“Hands on head!” He did as he was told.
I returned to my newspaper. Let him sweat a bit, I thought.
After a few minutes I had finished the newspaper and contemplated the task in hand. Tomkins was a repeat offender and had been caught smoking again. As his housemaster, I’d already beaten him once this term for smoking and he had been warned about his future conduct.
Smoking was bad enough, I thought as I puffed on my pipe, but to do it again after a previous punishment and thereby to disregard my instruction was rank disobedience and I would have none of it. His beating had to be exemplary.
“Turn around Tomkins,” I ordered. He did so, still clasping his hands to the top of his head.
“Come forward and stand in front of me.” He did. He must have been two or three inches taller than me, and I noticed for the first time that he was really incredibly thin.
Maybe it was because he was in his pyjamas. Last time I thrashed him he had been in full school uniform, including a pullover and blazer. That clothing must have bulked him out a bit.
“Take your hands off your head and stand up straight.”
He did so. Tomkins wasn’t a particularly pretty boy, I noticed. His thin face was pock marked and his teeth were pretty bad and if he carried on smoking the way he did they’d soon be yellow.
But, it wasn’t his front side that I was interested in this day.
I lectured him a little. It wasn’t really necessary: he knew why he was here. And, then I pronounced sentence.
“So, you deserve a sound thrashing and that is what you will receive. I’m giving you twelve cuts on the bare.”
I’m not sure he was expecting that. It was twice the number of strokes I had ever given him previously and canings on the bare at this school were rare indeed.
The colour drained from his already pasty-coloured face, but he remained standing, silent, waiting for my further instructions, and ready to comply with them.
I’d thought hard about whether it should be on the bare, after all his pyjama bottoms wouldn’t be much protection for the twelve stingers I intended to administer. But, he was a prefect and a serial offender and I was convinced he was cocking a snook at the school rules and my authority in particular, so I wanted to make him suffer.
I was also aware of a newspaper report I read a year or two previously. A school housemaster was in court charged with ‘indecent assault’ after he beat a boy on his bare bottom. How it got to court I don’t know. The magistrate dismissed the case and said if this was to be considered indecent assault half the housemasters in English public schools would be in court. Sensible fellow.
Not everybody believes in caning naughty schoolboys, of course. I have a housemaster colleague at the school here who never canes. He says the embarrassment of the punishment is as effective as the pain it might cause. Therefore, he takes his boys across his knee for a spanking.
I looked at Tomkins. Think about it, telling an eighteen-year-old boy to bend over your knee and then smacking him on his bottom. Can you imagine such a thing?
I went to the tall, narrow cupboard and took out the cane I had already decided to use. It wasn’t a big thick stick. People with no experience of these matters always assume the bigger and thicker the cane is, the more it will hurt. Not so.
The cane I chose was dark yellow in colour, quiet thin, but made of very dense rattan. It would leave its marks on Tomkins’ behind for many days to come.
I took it from the cupboard and swished it through the air, to show the boy what it could do. He looked apprehensive, as well he might.
“Stand by the desk,” I pointed with the cane. He moved in the right direction, but stopped short by two or three feet.
“Right up to the desk, boy.”
He moved forward a little more.
“Get those pyjamas down boy.” After some hesitation, Tomkins looked down at his waist, pulled at the cord holding his bottoms up and allowed them to fall to his ankles.
I stood within his eye line, swished my cane through the air two or three more times. Then I tapped it against the desk.
Without question, he leaned forward, resting his stomach on the desk top with his arms stretched to his front and overhanging the end of the desk. His pyjama jacket was covering his bottom. I pushed it further up his back.
“Underpants Tomkins. You don’t wear underpants with pyjamas. Stand up.”
I suppose he wanted the extra layer of protection the Y-fronts would give him. He might have got away with it if he was to be whacked on his pyjama bottoms.
“Get them down.” Sorrowfully, Tomkins took hold of the waistband of his underwear and pulled them down to his ankles, where they rested on top of his pyjamas.
“Bend over boy.”
Tomkins repeated the manoeuvre. I pushed his pyjama jacket up, this time revealing a pair of surprisingly smooth and hairless buttocks.
“You are about to learn a very painful lesson young man.” I stood to his side a full cane length from him and after bending my knees a little I tapped the tip of the cane against the edge of his left cheek.
The tapping allowed me to take aim and then drawing my arm back several feet I crashed the cane across both buttocks. He whelped and a thick red line immediately appeared where the cane had bitten into flesh.
I repeated the procedure. He gasped and jerked his head.
“Feeling that aren’t you boy?”
“Yes, sir,” he replied, even though I had intended it as a rhetorical question.
Two thick welts were rising, running across both his buttocks.
I managed to land the third and fourth cuts on top of the previous two. Tomkins was jerking his body from side to side. This was a reflex action against the pain, but mostly he was managing to keep quiet.
I liked the boys I thrashed to be stoic. I despised the boys who couldn’t take their canings and yelled and bawled their eyes out. I had enough experience beating schoolboys (and of being on the receiving end myself) to know that my canings hurt like hell. The boys might try to make it look that they were unconcerned by the pain, but I knew otherwise.
I lashed down strokes five and six. Tomkins’ head rose from the desk and he brought his arms back so he could bury his face in them.
I swiped a couple of strokes high and a couple low and was rewarded with a four almost inaudible “Arrrggghhhhs” from Tomkins.
The boy seemed to bite into his own arm after I delivered the next cut.
I whipped the final stroke diagonally across both of Tomkins’ buttocks, making sure the cane hit as many of the previously delivered cuts as possible. This time he desperately tried to muffle a loud yell, but he couldn’t quite keep it in.
I looked over at his face. It was almost as red as his backside. I could see his eyes were watering and he was trying not to cry.
I tapped the cane across his bottom. He braced himself, expecting another slash. But, there were to be no more. I had promised him twelve strokes and I had delivered twelve. I was a man of my word.
I tapped the cane on his left buttock one more time.
“Don’t let me catch you smoking again.”
He was still lying across the desk. I walked behind him to admire my handiwork. His smooth, hairless, previously white, bottom was a mass of red welts. Some were turning blue and would change to purple before too long. Blood was forming at some of the intersections where my final diagonal cut had crossed the others.
“Stand up Tomkins. Get dressed.”
He shot up at such a speed he startled me. In one swift movement he bent down to grab his underpants, but it was with great difficulty that he pulled them up to his waist. He winced in agony as he pulled the Y-fronts over his buttocks and they connected with his wounds.
He bent down to his ankles again to retrieve his pyjama bottoms, flinching as he stretched the flesh of his buttocks against his pants.
He stood up and I was able to look him in the face. I could see he wanted to bawl his eyes out, but pride I suppose stopped him from doing this.
I gave him time to tie the cord of his pyjamas waistband.
“Back to your dormitory. No more trouble.”
He was through the door in a heartbeat.
Other school stories you might like.
More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website
Charles Hamilton the Second