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The waiting was the worst bit. The Headmaster's secretary had told Debbie after lunch that she was to report to the HM's study at ten o'clock that evening, when she was ready for bed. She was to wear only her pyjamas.
The hours had dragged past. Debbie knew what was coming - and she dreaded it. There was only one punishment for being caught out of bounds: twelve of the best on the bare. She'd seen the results on other girls' bottoms, when they had returned to the dorm, choking back their tears, and then lowering their pyjama trousers (as was the tradition), so that all could see. A dozen strokes of the cane always looked so much worse than a mere six, and six was all Debbie had ever had in the past.
When she reported to the secretary's office at exactly five minutes before nine, that stony-faced lady had handed her a cane.
"Please give this to the Headmaster." She gave Debbie a sidelong look. "He broke the last one on Julia's backside. Perhaps that was why she was blubbing so much when she left just now." A light on the desk changed from red to green. "Ah, I see the Headmaster is ready for you. In you go, and for heaven's sake, try and take it with some dignity."
Debbie closed the door and stood in front of his desk. The Headmaster scarcely looked up. He simply read the report from the Games Mistress, which laid out coldly and clearly how she'd caught Debbie red-handed in the Blue Moon, the general store just across the road from the school.
"You know the penalty?" The HM looked up sharply. Debbie nodded.
"Very well, give me the cane and lower your...just a minute - did the secretary give you this cane to bring in?"
"Oh for goodness' sake, that's a Junior cane. I asked her to send me a Dragon. Wait here, I'll go and fetch it myself."
Debbie stood forlornly on the carpet. She could feel the warmth of the gas fire on the seat of her pyjamas, but she knew that her bottom would get a lot hotter than that in the next few minutes. It was the first time she had ever actually held a cane. The wretched thing felt whippy enough, why wouldn't it do? Oh Lord, a Dragon! Their reputation was horrendous and Debbie doubted that the girls who'd experienced it were exaggerating.
Oh Crikey, here he comes.