'Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned', the saying goes, but Jennifer and Mabel might have felt that a furious Headmaster is about as bad as it gets.
They'd both been caught out of bounds and - worse - they had climbed over the wall into the neighbouring boys' school. There's no telling what mischief they might have got up to if the ever-vigilant Matron had not spotted them and marched them straight into the HM's study.
It was clear that no excuses would suffice. The HM took down his most fearsome cane: the long, swishy Dragon. Both girls shuddered in anticipation.
Jennifer was told to go first. She knew the drill: bend over the stool and hang on to the lowest rung like grim death, because moving out of position during her punishment would involve extra strokes. But before she could bend over, the Headmaster told her curtly that this time she would get 12.
Twelve?! She looked over her shoulder at him - surely she had misheard?
"I said '12', but if you don't get down immediately, it'll be more!" he said gruffly, flexing the cane into a semi-circle.
Jennifer groaned and grabbed the wooden bar, sensing the air cool against her bottom as he raised her skirt.
She felt him lay the rattan across both her cheeks. She took one final glance at Mabel, standing there, petrified, awaiting her turn.
The HM raised the cane high above his shoulder. Jennifer lowered her head, squeezed her eyes shut and prepared for the first, searing stroke.
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Images originally from The Penitents