Dr Fortescue is the new headmaster at St Septimus Independent Grammar School. It is his first day, but the previous night he had been confronted by a sixth-former in his school uniform drinking in a hotel bar. Now read on.
Peter Rodriquez was bemused. A junior boy had delivered the message: he was to report to the headmaster’s study immediately after the end of last class. Then, the young whipper-snapper grinning from ear to ear proceeded to slash his arm through the air in parody of a cane swishing down upon a boy’s bottom.
The boy might be on to something, Peter thought. Why else was a chap summoned to the head’s study except for a bowing? But, Peter had not done anything wrong, and beside this was the head’s first day at the school; why would the Beak want to see him?
It had taken Dr Fortescue no time at all to identify the boy in the bar. The school records included photographs of every boy. It was a very nice picture; Peter Rodriquez had a very warm smile. But it would be a different part of the boy’s body that would be warm by the time the headmaster had finished with him.
St Septimus Independent Grammar School dated from sometime in the seventeen-hundreds. It was a traditional school: traditional teaching methods, traditional sports, traditional school uniform and traditional discipline. It was a boys-only independent fee-paying grammar school with delusions that it was an elite public school.
Dr Fortescue was very pleased with his new study; it afforded him the status that he felt he deserved. It was set in the clock tower with narrow stone steps leading to it. He especially loved his huge desk, topped with green leather. Behind it was a window that overlooked the school grounds with its ivy-covered walls and mullioned windows.
The walls of the study were panelled in oak. A large open, as yet unlit, fire dominated one wall and two others had shelves and cabinets, including a tall thin cupboard with a smoked-glass front. A Chesterfield couch and two padded armchairs made up most of the furniture, but there were also two straight-backed chairs leaning against one wall.
As he sat at his magnificent desk, he pondered the past. Which of the many choices of furniture had been his predecessor’s favourite? Did he prefer to have a boy over the desk; or the armchair, or the vast Chesterfield? It would, of course, depend somewhat on the size of the boy.
Rodriquez was a tallish boy, Dr Fortescue recalled, he could easily drape himself over any piece of furniture in the room.
The tall thin cabinet contained an array of punishment instruments. The good doctor only used the cane himself; it was the only instrument that a headmaster should use. A thrashing by the Beak had to be awesome, something to be feared by the boys. That was why he would not be using the leather taws or white rubber-soled gym shoe that he had discovered in the cabinet.
The array of canes was impressive, but not complete. There were seven assorted rods, some with the traditional crook-handle; most were made of rattan and two were dragon canes. The dragons would be ideal for beating older boys; but there was something special missing. Dr Fortescue had intended thrashing Rodriquez with a Malacca cane. The Malacca was no bigger or thicker than any of the other canes in the cabinet; but it was denser. Typically, a Malacca would have notches every three inches or so along its lengths. These notches would cut into the flesh and leave severe bruises and welts; even when applied to a boy’s bottom covered with trousers and underpants. When applied “trousers down,” even on the underpants, it would rip at the meat of the buttocks. A boy would carry the marks of such a thrashing for at least a couple of weeks and sitting down would be a painful business for many days following the beating.
Dr Fortescue was disappointed that no Malacca was available, but he was not despondent. He had several such canes and soon they would arrive with his personal belongings at the headmaster’s house he had inherited with his new position.
The school day over, Rodriquez slowly made the trip to the headmaster’s study. He still had no idea why he had been summoned. He knocked gently on the heavy oak door of the study and waited for the call to enter.
Rodriquez looked as resplendent this afternoon as he had in the bar. In addition to his blue-and-white blazer and clinging grey trousers, he wore on his head the official school cap, which emphasised the boy’s dark brown eyes and olive skin.
Unbidden, he shuffled into a positon in front of the headmaster’s desk, clasped his hands behind his back and stared down at the slightly worn rug beneath his feet. He noticed, for the first time, that his shoes were scuffed and needed polishing.
The boy stood in silence. Dr Fortescue looked at him stone-faced; his white moustache bristled and his knitted white brows frowned. “Do you not remember me?”
Rodriquez raised his eyes from the floor to look at the headmaster. What he saw was an elderly man dressed in a rather old-fashioned academic gown, seated behind his huge desk. Even sat down he seemed a commanding figure. When the headmaster later stood from his chair Rodriquez would see a tall, grim man. And, he was strong as an ox, as could be testified every time he swiped down a cane across a boy’s backside.
Mr Fortescue realised for the first time that the wretched teenager before him genuinely did not recognise him.
“Let me jog your memory. The bar of the George Hotel, last evening.” The boy’s shocked reaction delighted the headmaster. Now, he would make him suffer.
Dr Fortescue recapped their previous encounter: the smoking, the drinking and the rudeness.
“So, Rodriquez what do you have to say for yourself?” the headmaster inquired smugly. He had the boy just where he wanted him. He would dismiss all pleas for clemency. The boy would receive an exemplary thrashing.
“All the boys do it, Sir,” Rodriquez spoke confidently, “Well a lot of them that is. We are eighteen, one or two of the chaps are nineteen.”
This is not what Dr Fortescue wanted to hear.
“You tell me Rodriquez that many of the sixth-form boys hang around bars drinking and smoking. And they do this while wearing the uniform of St Septimus?” the shriek in his voice betrayed his incredulity. He could not believe that guttersnipes from the town’s secondary modern school would behave this way. It was behaviour totally unacceptable for grammar school boys.
“Well, yes, Sir,” until this moment it had not occurred to the boy that his behaviour was abnormal. Sixth-formers had been visiting pubs for years. And as for smoking; there was a special area close to the maintenance huts where senior boys went. He assumed all the masters knew this and they simply ignored it.
Rodriquez did not say this to the headmaster; he was not the brightest boy at the school, but he could see that things were going to change with the new Beak.
Dr Fortescue summed up the situation swiftly. He had thought that Rodriquez’s smoking and drinking had been the isolated behaviour of one boy. Now, he realised there was an epidemic; boys all over town were besmirching the good name of St Septimus. He had to put a stop to it and swiftly.
He had intended thrashing Rodriquez that afternoon in the privacy of the headmaster’s study, but now his plan must change. The boy must be made an example of. His fellow drinkers and smokers must learn the consequences of their own behaviour.
That was why the following lunchtime the entire sixth-form was called to the prefect’s room.
The doctor, like so many schoolmasters, was a bit of a ham actor and he laid into the boys. “Such behaviour is despicable. It is intolerable,” he stretched out each syllable for what he imagined was dramatic effect. In fact, the boys thought he sounded absurd, but they dared not snigger. Dr Fortescue had complete control over them and they knew the lunchtime would not end happily.
“Smoking is banned. Pubs are out of bounds. At all times. Whether you are in school uniform or not.”
An audible sigh came from the back of the room.
“Who did that? Who was it!” the headmaster barked. Toby Justice, a frequent smoker and drinker, ducked his head low, hoping that the good doctor had not spotted the culprit.
“Pah!” Dr Fortescue was in no mood for dissent. “That is my final word on the matter. No smoking and no drinking. If any boy is caught in these activities I shall consider it to be a breach of the headmaster’s direct instruction, and I shall not hesitate in thrashing that boy with the utmost severity!”
“But, Sir, Dr Fortescue, Sir,” a tall fair haired boy rose to his feet. “You can’t do that. Sixth-formers can’t be caned.”
The headmaster’s jaw dropped. “What did you say? Who are you boy!” he roared.
The fair-haired boy blushed scarlet. He hadn’t expected this.
“Please Sir,” he whimpered, his confidence evaporated. “I’m Turner, the School Captain.”
Dr Fortescue took a deep breath and let rip. “The School Captain,” he bellowed. “Not any more. How dare you contradict your headmaster!”
“Silence. Do you want to join Rodriquez? You are stripped of your privileges. I shall choose a new School Captain. Someone more suited to the position.”
Slowly, deeply humiliated, Turner returned to his seat.
One or two sixth-formers visibly blanched. Who was this man? Could he do such a thing? But, they already knew the answer. St Septimus was an “independent” school and the headmaster had the authority, invested in him by the governors, to do just that. And more.
Then, he turned his attention to Rodriquez. All the assembled boys knew he had been caught red-handed by the headmaster. It was not fair, they all thought it, Rodriquez had not been warned of the new rules. Why should he be beaten?
They all thought it, but not one boy dared voice a protest. Instinctively they knew Dr Fortescue was quite capable of flogging each and every one of them; and assuredly he would do that if just one of them squeaked up.
Dr Fortescue picked up a dragon cane he had placed strategically on a long wooden table. It was the most awesome of the collection he had inherited. He was disappointed that one of his prized Malacca canes was not in his hand, but he would deliver a sound thrashing nonetheless.
He swished the cane in Rodriquez’s direction. “Rodriquez; lower your trousers and bend over the table.”
There was an audible gasp. Nobody had expected this. Blood drained from Rodriquez’s olive-coloured face and his beautiful dark brown eyes began to water. He had expected a caning, and a severe one at that, but he had been caned before; he knew it would hurt like buggery, but it would not kill him. He did not mind too much being beaten in front of his sixth-form pals. They all agreed he did not deserve his thrashing; they were on his side. He would be a hero at the end of it all, and the good doctor would be universally despised.
But, trousers down. Rodriquez hated being seen naked. Changing for the gym classes that were compulsory at the school, even for sixth-formers, was for him a terrible ordeal. He feared the fellows would think his prick was tiny.
“Come on Rodriquez, we haven’t got all day. Afternoon school will start soon,” Dr Fortescue’s words dripped with sarcasm.
Every pair of eyes in the room stared intently as the eighteen-year-old schoolboy fumbled with the belt of his trousers. They fitted Rodriquez perfectly and he did not really need a belt. Soon it was loosened and with trembling hands the boy started on the buttons on his fly. One, two, three, four, slowly each button was unfastened. Then with the weight of the wide leather belt and the force of gravity the mid-grey trousers slipped down the boy’s thighs, past his knees and came to rest at his shins.
“Stand the other side of the table and bend forward.” Dr Fortescue had two choices; he could force Rodriquez to go across the table so that his audience would see the boy’s face and witness every grimace, yelp and moan the poor boy made. Or, he could have Rodriquez face the opposite direction with his bottom pointed at his fellow sixth-formers so that they might get a full view of the whippy cane crashing into the boy’s stretched cotton underpants. They would also see Rodriquez’s feet stomping up and down and his body writhing in agony as slash after slash bit deep into his pert bottom.
So, with his bum on full view, Rodriquez lowered himself over the table.
“Lie flat on the table, keep your feet apart.”
Rodriquez did as instructed, thankful that he was not positioned to see his audience. He could now close his eyes, grit his teeth and pretend that he and the headmaster were alone in the Beak’s study.
Dr Fortescue took hold of Rodriquez’s crisp white shirt and pushed it up the boy’s back. Then, he tugged at the waistband of the already tight white cotton Y-front underpants until all wrinkles were removed from the cloth. He hesitated a moment to admire the contrast of Rodriquez’s smooth olive skin against the gleaming white of his clothes.
Rodriquez felt the tap, tap, taping of the cane against his stretched bottom. The headmaster was taking his aim. The miserable boy screwed his eyes tight and with his arms outstretched ahead of him he gripped the far edge of the table.
He heard the swoosh and the crack of the cane a second to two before he felt the searing pain. The headmaster had laid a stroke with the utmost force right across the centre of both cheeks. At first the boy felt nothing, but then it was as if the man had pressed a white hot wire into his flesh.
All the wind was pushed out of Rodriquez’s body. He wanted to yell and scream but all he would do was wheeze. Tears already rushed from his beautiful dark brown eyes. His feet marched up and down on the spot like some demented soldier on sentry duty,
A pause. It seemed like an eternity to Rodriquez, but it was only twenty seconds. Dr Fortescue knew this because he was counting the time in his head. Then swipe! crash! The headmaster put all his beef into stroke number two. It landed about a quarter of an inch below the first. None of his audience was awarding marks, but later they would all agree that the good doctor was an expert with the cane. None of them would want to be on the receiving end of a Fortescue flogging.
Rodriquez’s body jerked and he lifted himself off the table top; his hands sprung to his backside and he bent over double, as simultaneously he wailed and rubbed away at his scorched flesh.
“Get back down Rodriquez. Now!”
The miserable boy might not have heard the command, so great was his agony and his desire to try to rub it from his buttocks. In any case, he did not obey the good doctor’s command.
“You boy. And you!” Dr Fortescue pointed at random to two sixth-formers close by. “Each of you take one of his arms and hold him down across the table.”
Rodriquez put up no resistance and in seconds he was restrained across the table. The headmaster was pleased that his command had been obeyed. He was no fool; he knew he was vastly outnumbered by the boys in the room; if they chose to they could have prevented this spectacle from taking place.
Dr Fortescue was delighted that he had them under his total control.
“Now, Rodriquez,” he gripped the top of the boy’s underpants, “As an extra punishment for standing up, let us remove these.” So saying, he pulled the crisp white pants down so they lay bunched just below the crease where the cheeks meet the thighs.
Two dark red cuts were clearly visible, even to the boys at the back of the room. The whipping had been vicious. Poor Rodriquez was already cut to shreds and he was only two strokes into the punishment. And, the next four would be delivered across the unprotected naked buttocks.
With Rodriquez’s buttocks now bared, Dr Fortescue was able to pick his next spot with accuracy. He whipped in the dragon cane just below cut number two. Rodriquez had tremendous strength and it took the combined weight of both boys to restrain his movements. An ugly thick weal immediately appeared on the once olive-smooth cheek. Rodriquez screamed with the agony and saliva poured from his throat to join the tears and the snot had was already being evacuated from his body.
Swipe! Number four was high, right at the top of the globes, which until now had been untouched by the fierce rod. Rodriquez’s body jerked and then went still. In alarm, one of the boys let go of his hold.
“Take hold. He is all right,” Dr Fortescue barked.
Terrified, the boy resumed his grip and the headmaster brought down cut number five. It sliced across the crease of the boy’s bottom and he let out an almighty moan and kicked his legs. His breathing was shallow, but he was conscious.
Number six. Dr Fortescue believed a headmaster’s caning must be awesome. He had his own method to ensure this was so. He moved his position slightly and tapped the cane across the buttocks. Just these small movements sent shock waves through Rodriquez’s body. But that was as nothing to what came next.
The headmaster raised the cane to above shoulder height and with all the force he could muster (which was considerable) he brought the rod flogging down at a diagonal, so that the lash crossed over the five deep throbbing cuts that already decorated Rodriquez’s bottom.
The agony was intense. Despite his weakened state, the sixth-former let out the most blood-curdling yell. It could be heard throughout the building and into the quadrangle below. Then Rodriquez lay, still held securely, face-down across the table and sobbed and sobbed his guts up. Vomit rose from the pit of his stomach and he just managed to gulp it back to stop it flooding from his throat.
The room was silent. Only the pitiful sobs of Rodriquez broke it. Not one boy in the room knew what to say. Their new headmaster had demonstrated his total control over them.
In time, Dr Fortescue nodded to the two sixth-formers on security guard. It was their cue to release the wretched Rodriquez. Slowly, he raised himself from the table to a standing position. His legs were weak and he stumbled, but grasped the table’s edge to stop his fall. His was regaining some of his breath, but had to stand, hands on knees, while his body started the long process of recovery.
This bending position allowed each boy in the room a perfect view of the ripped buttocks. There were six thick red cuts and blood was beginning to seep from wounds created where the diagonal lash intersected with the others. No one in that room could be in any doubt; the same punishment would be meted out to any boy who dared to disobey the new headmaster.
One boy had taken it upon himself to help Rodriquez to dress. Dr Fortescue had a sneaking suspicion that this was the boy who had joined Rodriquez at the bar last evening. He could not be certain, but he would investigate later.
Tenderly, the boy pulled up his friend’s underpants and trousers. It was obvious that the touch of the cloth against the wounds caused Rodriquez some distress. But that could not be avoided; the alternative was for the miserable boy to leave the room naked from the waist down.
Dr Fortescue himself took deep breaths. The effort of the severe bare-bottomed caning had taken its toll on him a little. He would need to retire to his study for a reviving gin and tonic.
Peter Rodriquez, his arm around the shoulder of his friend, was escorted, limping from the room.
The headmaster waited another twenty seconds before declaring, “That is over. Please vacate the room immediately.”
And, in total silence, the sixth-form boys did just that.
Episode three of The Tyrant Headmaster is here
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