The professor leaned forward in his chair and eyed the young student standing before him disdainfully. “So Rashford, you did not attend my seminar. Can you tell me why?”
Rashford blustered. “Well, err.” He was speechless because there really was nothing he could say. Nothing that would save him from his present predicament. He had missed the professor’s seminar because he couldn’t be bothered to go.
“Pah!” the professor exhaled. “And you haven’t submitted your essay. Are the two non-events in any way connected?”
“Oh no Sir,” Rashford garbled. “Not at all, Sir.”
“So”, the professor wrung his hands together, “you have written the essay?”
“Oh yes, Sir,” Rashford’s palms were beginning to sweat.
“Good, then you can hand it over.” The professor reached out his hand.
The colour left Rashford’s face. “Well Sir when I say … I mean,” he trailed off in confusion.
The professor’s own face darkened. “Don’t compound your offence by lying young man,” he snarled. “You have not completed the essay have you?”
Rashford bit down on his lower lip and whispered, “No, Sir. Sorry Sir.” He stared at the red-patterned rug beneath his feet hoping the floor would open and swallow him.
“Look at me boy!” The professor scowled. And when the eighteen-year-old reluctantly raised his head, the professor continued. “You were at St Tom’s were you not?”
“Yes, Sir,” Rashford answered, puzzled that the old man would know such a thing about him.
“A very fine school. I have had many former pupils as my students here at the university.”
There was silence. Rashford shuffled uncomfortably unsure if he was expected to speak. At last the professor continued. “You should be ashamed to besmirch the good name of your school.”
“Sorry, Sir,” Rashford whispered, feeling he should say something.
“What would your housemaster at St Tom’s do if you failed to attend class or write an essay?”
Rashford clutched his hands behind his back, “I don’t know, Sir.”
“Oh come, come, Rashford,” the professor snarled, “You really don’t know?”
“It would be Six would it not? Six for missing classes.” The professor’s stare burned into Rashford. Now, his pale face blushed profusely.
“Well, boy? It would be six-of-the best wouldn’t it?”
Rashford’s heart raced, a shiver ran down his spine. He didn’t like the way this was going. “Yes, Sir,” he answered woefully.
“Trousers up or down?” the professor snapped.
Rashford gasped. “Up Sir, trousers up, Sir,” he gabbled. A moustache of sweat formed across his upper lip.
“Well Rashford, you have moved up a division now,” the professor’s eyes shone. “I always beat my students with their trousers down.”
“B…” the student began a protest, thought better of it, and closed his mouth.
“Yes six-of-the-best trousers down for a first offence. But rest assured Rashford repeat offenders are thrashed on the bare.” The professor was delighted to see the young student’s jaw drop. “So Rashford,” he couldn’t disguise his pleasure, “That’s six for not attending my seminar; six for not handing in your essay and a further six for lying about it.” He peered intently at the young man before him, “That’s eighteen strokes in all. Shall we get on with it.”
Rashford’s heart beat faster. The cane? He had thought he’d left all that behind at St Tom’s. It was bad enough that he was to be beaten here at the university, but eighteen strokes. On the underpants. His hands shook uncontrollably.
“Hang your jacket there,” the professor nodded to a hook on the back of the door. It was a large study dominated by a walnut desk with three solid drawers. Towards the back of the room was a Chesterfield couch and two small leather armchairs. A glass-fronted bookcase ran along one wall. A second wall housed an open, as yet unlit, fireplace. A chest of drawers nestled beneath an ornate mullioned window.
With some difficulty Rashford unbuttoned his checked jacket. His fingers refused to obey the commands of his brain. The professor watched disdainfully. When the student had at last completed his task, he commanded, “Come here, stand in front of my desk.” Then, the professor rose from his chair and paced across the room. He halted by the window, bent down and opened the top drawer in the chest. It was empty except for two curve-handled rattan canes. He picked one out and leaving the drawer open he turned to face Rashford.
He flexed the cane between his two hands in the time-honoured fashion. “Just like the ones your housemaster used at St Tom’s I shouldn’t wonder Rashford.” Then he swished it through the air. The student’s eyes followed its movement, “Yes, Sir,” he croaked.
The professor sucked in a lung-full of air, “Lower your trousers Rashford and bend over my desk.” The professor stood his ground and flexed the cane. It was a little over three feet in length and as thick as a pencil. The professor watched intently as Rashford, visibly distressed, unbuckled his trousers. The professor admired the student’s fashionable “Oxford bags.” They were made of thick sturdy material; how could boy expect to be allowed to retain them for a caning? Soon they slithered down Rashford’s thighs and over his knees to rest in a puddle at his feet.
The housemaster at St Tom’s had preferred to beat his pupils’ backsides while a boy lay flat down across his desk. Without seeking further clarification from the professor, Rashford leaned forward and rested his stomach on the cold, hard desktop. He folded his arms in front of himself and buried his face in them. He was a little tall for the height of the desk so Rashford bent his legs so that his stretched bottom rested at an angle over the edge of the desk.
In this position he could not see the professor nod sagely. He admired Rashford’s fortitude. There was one thing in life the professor liked more than eating a thick steak with mashed potatoes and gravy and that was caning the backsides of his younger students. He had perfected a ritual over the years and set about putting it in place. First, he took hold of the tail of Rashford’s shirt and very carefully folded it back, once and then twice so that it no longer covered the boy’s backside. He noticed Rashford’s vest was damp with sweat even though the room was quite cold. The student breathed deeply when the professor took hold of the waistband of his underpants and tugged. He felt the cotton dig deep into the crack between his buttocks. The professor paused to admire his handiwork so far. Each cheek was lifted and separated. He had created a terrific target.
Satisfied that his victim was perfectly prepared, the professor picked up the whippy rattan once more. He stood a cane’s length to Rashford’s left side and tapped it across the fleshiest part of the student’s buttocks. Rashford’s cheeks clenched. He was a thin, almost skinny, boy with no spare fat. His buttocks were now as solid as steel. The professor allowed himself a smile. Chubby or lean, it was all the same to him, although he had often wondered whether a podgy backside felt the sting of the cane more than a sinewy bottom. Were there more nerve ends under attack? One day, he promised himself, he would devise a scientific experiment to find out.
He “sawed” the cane backward and forward. Now, he had his spot, the professor was ready to go. He lifted the cane high and with a tremendous forward swing brought it down at force across Rashford’s bottom. The student shut his teeth and closed his eyes. He heard the thwack of rattan on cotton a second before the pain kicked in. It began as a searing line of fire across the very centre of both cheeks, then like ripples in a pond after a stone had landed, it moved out over his entire bottom. It hurt. A lot. He thought maybe the professor caned a little harder than his housemaster at St Tom’s. Perhaps, the lack of trousers had something to do with that. Even so, Rashford believed himself to be a trooper; he could take it.
He screwed up his face in appreciation of the intensity of the stoke. He took a deep gulp of air and settled down for the second cut. It was some time in coming. The professor and his ritual again. He placed his left hand in his trouser pocket and sauntered around the study, stopping momentarily to look out the window at the ancient quadrangle below. Then he returned to his position beside Rashford once more. This routine meant there was a delay of at least twenty to thirty seconds between strokes; the professor enjoyed giving time for the pain of one stroke to be fully felt and for the anticipation of the next to build.
He was very satisfied with the gasp of pain from the prostrate student when the second slash struck just below the first. Rashford’s feet marched up and down on the spot like a guard on sentry duty. He couldn’t help it, this was a natural reflex action against the assault on his bottom.
The professor went off on his tour of the study once more. He noticed Rashford’s once pale face was now scarlet, as he knew also was the boy’s backside, even though only two strokes had so far been delivered. He tap, tap, tapped the cane across the very centre of the student’s buttocks, in an area where he had at least some fleshy padding. Rashford dug his face deep into his forearms. Whoosh! The third cut lashed the middle of the cheeks squarely and at such force the cane bit deep into the meat before remerging a second later and bouncing off the tightly stretched cotton of the underpants.
Two more strokes were laid on with the same dreadful force. By the sixth Rashford was unaware of anything except the screaming agony in his bottom. He yelped as the cane made contact but stayed in position, as slowly but methodically the professor lashed the senior cane across the tender buttocks, low down in a tight band just where Rashford would have to sit down. All six strokes were a very tight band across the very base of his bottom.
Eighteen strokes is a tremendous ordeal for anyone to suffer, even one as experienced a receiver as Rashford. The professor delighted in beating students but he was not a monster. He had promised three sets of six and he was determined to make good on the undertaking.
Suddenly, in the distance Rashford heard the professor telling him to stand up and place his hands on his head. Almost unbelieving, he staggered into an upright position, he wanted to clasp his throbbing buttocks, but with tears in his eyes, and hopping about from foot to foot, he obeyed the instructions, placed his hands on his head and waddled like a penguin to stand facing the bookcase. His backside throbbed like crazy. This was the worst caning of his life.
The professor paced his study. He knew Rashford was confused. The tariff was eighteen strokes and only six had been delivered. He revelled in the student’s confusion. At last he spoke, “Turn around Rashford.” The eighteen-year-old swivelled, hands still firmly on his head. He could not stomach to look at his tormentor.
The professor perched his backside on the edge of his desk and glared at the specimen of a student in front of him. “That was six strokes for absenting yourself from my seminar,” he growled. “You will return at the same time tomorrow for a further six for not submitting your essay. The final six will be delivered the day after, do you understood.” It was a statement rather than a question but Rashford gasped sorrowfully, “Yes, Sir.”
The professor watched intently as the student bent down to retrieve his trousers. He took down his jacket from the hook and climbed into it before still in considerable pain he shuffled through the door. The professor stood at his window; he hoped he would soon see Rashford moving through the quadrangle clutching his burning buttocks.
Picture credit: Endart
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More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website
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