On the morrow
Jesse stood in front of a bench in the grounds of St Mary's and reflected on how cruel girls could be to each other.
She'd skipped chapel on the very reasonable grounds that the sermon was to be given by a famously boring priest. She was sure that she wouldn't be missed amongst a couple of hundred other girls, but she'd reckoned without the hawk-eyes of her House Mistress. The House Mistress, unable to spot Jesse in chapel, had slipped out quickly at the end of the service, dashed up to Jesse's dormitory, and caught her in flagrante delecto reading a girls' magazine. A few minutes later Jesse had been informed that the Headmistress would see her after lunch the next day. Jesse knew exactly what this meant.
Deliberatley missing chapel at St Mary's was about as close as any of the girls got to heresy. The Headmistress - the inappropiately named Sister Mercy - expiated such crimes with a vigorous application of rattan to bare backside. Indeed, popular rumour had it that God had decreed that Sister Mercy's route to heaven lay through a thousand well-striped bottoms.
Jesse had never felt the cane. Like all the other girls, she had regularly had to bend over and raise her skirts while one or other of the nuns thrashed her with those hideous, heavy leather belts they all wore. Scarcely a day went by without one girl or another suffering under the holy lash. But the cane was reserved for mortal offences, and failing to show for chapel was just such.
Instead of sympathy, every one of her friends who passed Jesse that day had muttered "Swish, thwack! Ooooh, ooow!" and then dramatically clutched her buttocks before dissolving into fits of cynical laughter.
Jesse could not see the funny side. Within less than twenty-four hours she would be sitting extremely uncomfortably, if she could sit at all. She would really have appreciated just a little bit of sympathy and understanding.
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