“Go and stand by that chair,” the professor instructed the boy as he strode to a desk.
The student stood his ground, apprehensively watching as the professor pulled open a drawer and began to fish inside. In no time, he pulled out a well-waxed cane and turned to the boy.
“I said stand by the chair boy!” The professor was in a bad mood.
The pale-faced student stuttered, “Can’t we talk about this Sir?”
The boy was one of the new first year students, eighteen years old and a product of some council board school somewhere. The professor couldn’t understand it. The school had never used corporal punishment, and this was a result.
Now, he was expected to deal with students who knew nothing about discipline – they thought they could do as they pleased without consequences.
Well, the student was about to learn a very important lesson: actions do have consequences. Or, in his case inactions: he had skipped the professor’s class without an excuse and now here he was in the study about the get his just desserts.
“I said stand by that chair. Do it now!” The order was barked out and the student reluctantly turned to face the armchair. It was old and a bit shabby. It had obviously seen better days and was worn across the back and on the seat cushion. The student wasn’t to know, but generations before him bending over to receive beatings had contributed to this.
The professor stood behind the boy making a few practice swishes with the cane. The student was a good three feet away from the chair. “Closer boy,” the professor ordered. The student turned to remonstrate one more time. “But, Sir.”
The professor swished the cane one more time. Calmly he said, “You will bend over the chair this instant. If you delay you will get double the number of strokes.”
That was it. The boy may never have been in this position before, but he knew when he was beaten. Or more truthfully, when he was about to be beaten.
He took a deep breath. He knew his number was up and events had to take their course. In one almost athletic movement he bent across the chair – like diving into a pool of ice cold water. He clutched onto the seat cushion as if his life depended on it.
“Legs further apart boy,” the professor ordered, giving the cane one more swish.
For a moment he stood and observed the boy. He was a typical student of the day. No more than five-feet-seven, slim, but not muscular, dressed in Wrangler jeans and a god-awful multi-checked jacket that was all the rage with young men at the time. He stepped forward and raised the back of the jacket, its two vents making it easy to expose a denim-clad backside. He took time to take in the information on the label on the waistband of the jeans: twenty-eight-inch waist and thirty-inch leg.
The professor could see the boy was breathing heavily. Of course, he’d never been across a headmaster’s chair for Six before. This was entirely unchartered territory for him.
Not so for the professor. He was of the old school. And here ‘school’ was the operative word. He knew that his students (well, most of them anyway) had just left independent private schools where they were subjected to discipline and if they stepped out of line, they expected punishment. And they got it from him: in the form of a caning.
University was to be no different for them. The professor had rules and you obeyed them. If you didn’t you would expect to receive a summons to the study. And, as this student was about to find out what happened next would be very painful indeed.
The professor grabbed the boy’s jeans by the waist and pulled them up tight. The denim formed a second skin across the most pert of buttocks and made a perfect target for the thrashing.
Most of the students those days wore denim jeans. It was just a fashion, but if boys thought the denim cloth gave them more protection against the whippy cane, than, say, the trousers they would have worn at school, they were to be sorely mistaken.
There was one type of jeans that did cause problems. These were called Falmers and they had big pockets across the backside. They had folds of cloth and definitely were a hindrance to the punisher.
The professor had found a simple remedy to this. Once a boy had attended for punishment in such jeans, he was ordered to drop them to his ankles. Then it was over the chair for a swishing on the underpants. A rather fetching pair of bright red briefs, the professor reminisced fondly. Once word got around about this nobody tried that trick again.
So, here was the student, over the chair, in his Wranglers ready to take the first stroke.
The professor believed in the efficacy of corporal punishment. It wasn’t used as a ‘last resort,’ for him it was the first. If a student disobeyed the rules, he was over the chair and the cane would be sent bouncing down across his stretched backside.
As was to happen now. The professor took up position to the left of the boy and tapped the cane against his nearest buttock. Finding his spot, the professor bent his own knees slightly drew the cane up to beyond shoulder height and sent it crashing against the boy’s tight backside.
The student gasped, but managed to muffle the yell he desperately wanted to make. His legs shook slightly and his hands grabbed the cushion of the armchair tightly.
The professor observed a clear mark had formed in the denim, extending across both cheeks in a thin line.
The second stroke came crashing down, a quarter of an inch below the first. The professor had an expert aim. After all, he had plenty of experience in this.
The third and fourth cut bit into the boy’s backside in rapid succession. By now he was losing control. The gasps became yelps.
The professor paused before stroke five, knowing that the pain would be searing across the boy’s backside and through his legs. The student’s breathing was uneven. The professor looked over the chair to see tears flowing down the boy’s face.
Swish! Whack! Number five hit home. The boy made a move to rise himself from the back of the chair. But at the last moment he forced himself back. This might be his first beating, but some schoolboy instinct told him to stay in position: he didn’t want extra strokes.
The boy lay waiting for what he hoped was the last stroke. The professor hadn’t announced it was to be six-of-the-best. But surely that was the tariff. Six was more than enough, Sir. This was a first offence after all.
The student could feel welts forming under his pants where five parallel strokes had hit home. No, they had done more than hit home, they had been struck with such force they had gone through the flesh in search of bone.
Number six was the worst of all. The professor paused, took three steps backward, raised the cane in the air and then rushed forward and struck.
The sixth stroke was laid diagonally across the previous five, creating a five-bar gate, cutting each welt and creating searing pain. Surely, later when he inspected the damage, the student would find blood seeping from the wounds.
The boy was gone, tears came in huge gulps, he wanted the pain to end, to curl up in the foetal position and die.
The professor watched him writhing across the back of the chair, satisfied with his own handiwork.
“Stand up boy,” the instruction was gentle, no longer an order. The punishment had been delivered and although the student had taken it, if not well, he had not resisted. He now belonged to the professor.
The eighteen-year-old boy rose from the chair, unsure where to go first. To try to wipe his tears and the snot that was coming from his nose, or to send both hands to clutch his buttocks in an attempt to rub away the agony.
But he didn’t have time. “Turn and stand in front of me,” the professor said. He complied, his eyes firmly fixed on the carpet in front of his feet.
“Look at me when I’m talking to you boy.” He raised his eyes. “Will I need to do this again?” The student hardly had the breath to give the required response.
“Good. Because if I do we shall see how you like it with your trousers and your underpants around your ankles.”
No response, except gulps and sobs from the student.
“You are dismissed.”
The professor watched the student hobble to the door in considerable discomfort. He turned the handle, opened it and was gone.
The professor replaced the cane in the desk drawer, alongside the seven or eight others there.
Other university-based stories you might enjoy.
More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website
Charles Hamilton the Second