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Oh the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person: having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pour them out. Just as they are - chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping and then with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away.

- Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot)

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[Image of Little Miss Sunshine] [Image of Little Miss Naughty]The Comfort of Small Things
by Mija and MollyB

Fiona sat in the overstuffed chair and leaned in to talk with her dear and long-time friend, Vera Kingsley, headmistress of the St. Clare School.

"Thanks so much for admitting Tessa at such a late date. I'm so glad she's finally settled in. I know she can be such a trial."

"Oh yes, but honestly, after the first few weeks Tessa was really among the least of my problems. Shall I tell you of my troublesome hockey co-captains who reminded me of another two certain naughty girls?"

Fiona wiggled still closer, curled her legs beneath her and smiled a bit.

"Is it the sort of story I like?"

"Exactly the sort you like best, my dear, two very naughty girls. . . ."

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Vera Kingsley leafed through Wendy Flanders' and Jane Swann's files. Better than average academics and impressive athletics, but the two seemed destined for trouble together. She glanced across her desk at the girls sitting nervously across from her. Their faces looked a pale contrast to their black and red blazers. Wendy and Jane had clearly dressed with care for this meeting, kilts crisply pleated, white shirts buttoned demurely to their throats, ties tied neatly, knee-socks pulled up and straight. The headmistress assumed that when the time came she'd discover that both were wearing the white regulation school knickers. Both girls had their hands folded neatly in their laps, though the headmistress noticed Wendy nervously fidgeting with the pleats of her red plaid kilt. The older woman intended to make them both a good deal more nervous before she released them.

"Not the first bit of hot water you two have found yourselves in during your time at St. Clare, hmmm?"

Jane and Wendy could hardly deny it. The evidence was right there, in the thick folders containing each girl's school history, the contents of each nearly identical to the other. In their very first month at school together, the girls had been scolded and finally disciplined by their house prefect, Millicent Lasseter, for sharing a bed and night-time whispered confidences. The file notes indicated that the two had unsuccessfully tried to avoid over-the-knee hand spankings from the older student by claiming Jane had only crept out of bed in fear of a thunderstorm. The prefect had accepted this excuse that first time, but not the second -- especially since, as Millicent had noted in her report of the discipline, on the night of their spanking, it hadn't even been raining.

"Had we but known then . . ."

Wendy and Jane blushed deeply, stared at their laps and said nothing.

Turning the pages slowly, the headmistress noted the two had been slippered publicly by their French mistress for repeated whispering during class at the tender age of seven.

"Hmm, slippered over your teacher's lap in front of the entire class? That must have stung. Though of course your knickers were still up, yes? Do you remember that day, Miss Flanders? Yes? How about you, Miss Swann? There's no note about whether or not corner time was assigned. Was it?"

Both girls looked up with pained expressions at the memory and whispered, "Yes, Headmistress."

Vera concealed a smile as she read the next page. The 'Alice Escapade', as it had become known.

"And, young ladies, shall we even mention your treatment of poor Alice MacKnight? Framing a schoolmate with a crayon in her laundry. Had your art mistress not noticed the red missing from Jane's set, poor Alice would have continued to be blamed."

Both girls swallowed hard, but the expressions on their faces were far from regret. As her later behaviour would reveal, Alice had deserved at least some of the spite directed at her.

"Still, all this came to my attention when you both had been caught 'red-' or shall we say 'black-handed' after painting permanent ink eye-glasses on poor Alice's face."

Wendy pushed her thin wire frames up nervously. The headmistress had always suspected Alice had teased the girl and her words had backfired into this prank. Wendy and Jane might not have been caught except, like schoolgirl Lady Macbeths, they'd been unable to wash the ink from their hands. Still, Alice had worn traces of her 'eye-glasses' for almost a fortnight.

"Do you know you both were the first and only eight-year-olds in my St. Clare memory who were ever slippered bare bottom? Still, you'd both stood by while poor Alice was spanked for the crayon you'd been responsible for."

Her notes indicated their tell-tale inky hands had been rulered as well. A pretty severe punishment indeed. And yet even here and now both girls didn't appear entirely contrite. Vera guessed the early dislike of Alice hadn't entirely vanished with the passing years.

"You would think that after a correction like this, you girls were sorry, yes? And would be far better behaved. But almost every year you girls have merited some sort of sharp punishment. And consistently for mischief you've gotten into together." Vera sighed sadly and turned to the next page in either file.

"I'm sorry, miss," Wendy fumbled awkwardly.

"Funny, I seem to remember hearing that from you, Miss Flanders, many many times. Particularly with regard to the mice. You girls do remember the mice, correct?"

Both girls paled a bit. 'The mice' were nothing if not memorable.

"The extermination charges were in excess of five hundred pounds. As I recall, the exterminator had never seen anything quite like it. An interesting science experiment?"

Jane burst out in an explanation given many times.

"Miss, we were just trying to save two tiny twin sister mice from the biology class. Except, well, one of them wasn't actually a sister -"

"No need to continue, Miss Swann. I have a great many notes on the rodent infestation that resulted from your 'rescue' of the mice. As well as the letters from irate parents wondering why their daughters were attending a school crawling with vermin."

Vera closed her eyes as she remembered first sight of the basement storeroom where the eleven-year-olds had been keeping their growing mouse population in a series of by-then gnawed-through shoe boxes. While the storeroom was the point of origin, the mice had traveled widely and colonized throughout the main school building. Vera had had to apologize to the elderly Spanish mistress who for days had been complaining to her about being awakened by "chirridos en el noche".

"I would have thought that five weekends labouring in the science laboratories would have made an impression on you both. Or, if not, surely the bare-bottom hairbrushing you received over my lap. Do you both recall that hairbrushing? Think on it, we'll return to the subject by and by."

Both girls squirmed on their suddenly-tingling seats, shivering a bit despite their blazers. Sitting had been uncomfortable for days after their punishments. The headmistress hid her smile as she watched.

"Now onto your more recent histories. Nothing it would seem for almost three years, so perhaps my hairbrush did make an impression after all. Caricaturing your algebra master? Not the conduct I would expect from mature fourteen-year-olds. Though perhaps my error has been assuming your maturity all along."

Certainly one couldn't assume maturity on the part of the master who'd reported it like a whining child teased at play, the headmistress thought, though of course she didn't say.

"What was your payment for that work of art, Miss Swann?"

There was a long pause before Jane spoke up.

"Six strokes of the cane each, Headmistress."

"Over your knickers, as I recall. Obviously it should have been on the bare."

What on earth could they say to that? Jane and Wendy glanced at each other before returning their eyes to their ever-interesting kilt pleats.

Here the files were unneeded, so Vera let them close before her. The girls looked smaller to her than she remembered them. Certainly not the powerful, athletic hockey players she'd watched from across the field, wondering at and even a bit jealous of the speed and strength in their graceful young bodies. At the practice where the headmistress had awarded the two the title of co-captain they'd seemed such tall and sturdy young women as Vera had tried not to look too long at the sweat glistening on the expanse of thigh beneath short kilts and above knee-socks.

Now, seated on the other side of her desk, Wendy Flanders and Jane Swann looked like the naughty little girls they so obviously were.

"And that takes us all the way up to last night. . . ."

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The telephone rang out on the headmistress's private line at 11:00 p.m. Vera picked up the receiver with some irritation, wondering who could be calling so late in the evening. Her annoyance changed to good humour when the caller turned out to be the coach of the American East Coast champion girls field hockey team. She was calling to accept the challenge St. Clare School had issued.

Knowing how long Wendy and Jane had waited for this news, the headmistress chose to go at once to tell them, despite it already being an hour past lights out.

However, she paused before knocking on their door. What if Jane and Wendy were already sleeping? Vera decided to simply peek in, leaving the news until morning if the girls were sleeping. Quietly she turned the knob and silently eased the door open a bit.

The lights were out, but there was moon enough to light the room. Scanning the room with her eyes, the headmistress was surprised to see that Wendy's bed was empty, prompting her to think of possible late-night escapades. A look at Jane's, however, revealed both girls on the single narrow cot.

Vera stood silently at the door, watching the two girls kiss, feeling lost in her own erotic dreams. A dimly-lit hand massaged a bare back, both bodies too entwined to distinguish one from the other. In the silence a soft gasp sounded loud to her ears. Was it hers or one of theirs?

The headmistress paused, watching a moment longer, then reached across the wall and switched on the light.

"Return to your bed at once, Miss Swann. I will expect to see you and Miss Flanders in my office at exactly 3:00 tomorrow afternoon."

Turning quickly, Vera Kingsley switched off the light and closed the door behind her.

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"I've not written a report yet of last night, but I trust the occasion is recent enough that you both recall it."

"Yes, miss," the girls agreed, shame lowering their eyes and voices.

"First, since I was unable to tell you last night, St. Clare's hockey team will be flying to New England in the spring. The Americans have accepted our challenge. That was my reason for coming to visit you in your room."

Wendy and Jane looked at each other with excitement, undimmed even by their disgrace.

"Oh, Headmistress, that's so wonderful -" Jane began.

"Whether either of you will be on the team by then is, of course, the question at hand. Isn't it?"

The two could give only dismayed looks as silent seconds ticked by.

After allowing the silence to extend uncomfortably, Vera continued.

"On the extremely rare occasions roommates have been caught abusing the privacy afforded older students at St. Clare, the punishments have generally been identical."

Vera gestured toward the large ledger which was the school's ancient punishment book.

"The girls in question were separated; that is, no longer allowed to share a room -"

The two gasped at this, both because they had been together since beginning at St. Clare and because they knew the other girls in their house would have to be told the reason for their separation. There would be little sympathy as it would probably mean the breaking up of two other long-standing pairs of roommates.

Vera continued, "- stripped of all offices. In your cases that would mean not only losing your positions as co-captains but also your places on the hockey team -"

Wendy and Jane looked at each other in horror. Neither girl could imagine not playing hockey for St. Clare.

"- and six strokes of the senior cane, delivered on the bare bottom."

The cane strokes, normally something which would make both girls cringe, sounded minor compared to the other penalties. They bit their lips and looked at each other, two minds with a single thought.

"It seems a terrible shame to punish your team-mates for your naughty behaviour."

"Please, Headmistress, please don't!" Jane burst out. Wendy, her own mouth already half open, nodded her vigorous agreement.

Vera leaned forward and looked over her glasses at the girls.

"I wish it were otherwise, but I see very few options. Obviously expulsion is an even worse choice. Though one not entirely unjustified given your records."

Jane paled and trembled a bit, but continued.

"Couldn't you just cane us more, Headmistress?"

Wendy started a bit at Jane's suggestion, but nodded gamely.

The headmistress smiled inwardly. Not so difficult to imagine where this discussion might lead. She feigned surprise.

"You want a harder caning? Six strokes on the bare is really already quite a severe punishment. I'm not sure I could safely exceed it by much. Maybe twelve. But twelve strokes would hardly be enough given your transgression, now would it?"

Wendy and Jane looked toward the cabinet where the canes were kept. The senior cane was thin and of a dense sort of rattan. Vera could tell the two thought twelve strokes with it wasn't penalty to be sneered at.

Reaching into the top drawer of her desk, the Headmistress removed her heavy oval wooden hairbrush before she stood and walked around her desk, finally sitting on its front edge, directly above the two girls.

"What you really both deserve is a sound spanking. Such naughty girls. Inconsiderate of those who trusted you to be responsible. Your house, your team mates, your school. Didn't your first encounter with Millicent teach you to keep your naughty bottoms in their own beds?"

The words hung in the air for a long time, seeming to echo off the walls. There was a long pause before Jane and Wendy both agreed.

"Yes, miss. We're very sorry."

"We'll take the twelve strokes please, miss."

Vera tapped the hairbrush on her palm.

"No. You will not be caned. Instead I'll ruler those errant hands for visiting where they shouldn't and then give you sound bare- bottom spankings across my lap, like I did when you were eleven, for being such naughty irresponsible girls. But longer and harder now of course since you're both older."

Jane glanced at the heavy ruler on the headmistress's desk, clasping and unclasping her hands, imagining the red lines soon to be drawn across her palms. Wendy, however, was transfixed by the hairbrush. Both girls seemed to be remembering younger days not so very long past.

"Afterward, I will keep a close watch on you both, but no-one but the three of us will know anything about this incident. You'll be allowed to keep your room together."

Vera wasn't surprised the girls agreed. They had no other option really.

"All right then. Go remove and hang your blazers on the hooks by the door and then come stand behind your chairs. I doubt either of you will want to sit again for quite a while."

As Wendy and Jane hurried to do her bidding, Vera picked up the ruler and tapped it against her own palm. As headmistress she had rarely watched two students go as eagerly to punishment as these two, and somehow that earnest eagerness made her feel quite tender toward them. And made her resolve to make their punishments all the more memorable.

Wendy was back first, her hands clasped in front of her, hidden behind the chair. Jane was slower only because her eyes were downcast. She held her arms at her sides, unsuccessfully trying to control her trembling. Vera stood there, watching them, tapping the ruler against her left hand.

"I am deeply disappointed in you both, as you should be in yourselves." Another pause as the girls tried not to slouch or meet their headmistress's eye. "Jane Swann, Wendy Flanders, hold out your hands, elbows over the backs of your chairs please."

The two girls held their arms straight out, grateful for the chair edge to help support them. The headmistress started with Jane, taking the tips of her right fingers in her left hand and then smacking the ruler down hard across her palm - once, twice, a dozen times before moving on to her left hand. Though Jane trembled, she made no noise other than the smallest gasps.

When the second dozen was finished, Jane moved to put her hands to her side.

"Miss Swann? I expect you to leave your arms as they are while Miss Flanders' palms are made to match them. She is as responsible for your punishment as you are for hers."

Wendy was already near tears from watching the punishment of Jane's palms. The headmistress rulered her palms faster, though perhaps not quite as hard. Still, a sob burst forth as she started on the girl's left palm.

Without breaking off the steady ruler smacks, the headmistress scolded Wendy. "What a naughty girl to need to have her palms rulered like an eight-year-old at this age. And don't think those tears will get you off the sound spanking that's coming next, miss."

From the corner of her eye, the headmistress could see Jane blinking back tears and felt some grim satisfaction. Getting the two to feel responsible for the other's punishment would be a good thing for them both.

Finally, when she placed the ruler on her desk, Vera noted that she had two repentant schoolgirls before her.

"You may put your hands to your sides now, but may not rub them together or against your kilts."

The two girls put their arms down gratefully, their palms stinging.

"Now onto the spankings you both so richly deserve. Since I can't spank you both at the same time I thought of sending one then the other of you out of my office to wait. But then I realized that you should know what your actions caused, not just to yourself, but to the person you claim to be your best friend. Because you've let each other down, haven't you? Miss Flanders? Miss Swann?"

"Yes, miss. I'm sorry."

Wendy spoke first and Jane followed.

"You should apologize to each other, not just to me."

There was a longish pause which extended until Jane and Wendy realized the headmistress was actually waiting for them to give each other apologies. They finally offered them awkwardly. Jane's voice trembled and broke a bit over her fumbled words.

"Miss Swann, you go over and stand in that corner right over there."

Jane slowly trudged across the room to stand in the corner nearest to where they had hung their blazers.

"You just push your nose right in there, young lady. That's right. And if you dare move before I call you over, you will find yourself back here tomorrow afternoon. Is that clear?"

"Yes, miss."

The wall felt cool against Jane's forehead and she leaned into the corner, grateful for its support and comfort. When she was settled, the headmistress turned her attention to Wendy, who stood as though frozen into place behind her chair. After a moment of staring fixedly at the girl, the headmistress picked up the hairbrush and came around her desk.

"Miss Flanders? Please move your chair over there next to the window. Good. And now you come here and stand beside me."

As the girl crossed the room with the chair, complying, Vera seated herself in the room's second armless wooden chair and set the hairbrush on the floor on her right side.

In a few moments Wendy stood beside her headmistress, fingered her kilt pleats nervously and studied her shoes. In a gesture that was almost gentle, Vera took the girl's hand and led her across her lap. Wendy made a muffled noise, almost like a sigh, as her stomach pressed into her headmistress's left knee.

The girl held firmly across her lap, Vera carefully lifted up the hem of her kilt and laid it neatly high on Wendy's back, well out of the way.

"I am sure we can find a better place for these knickers. Girls as naughty as you two need to be spanked bare-bottom." More blood rushed to Wendy's face as the headmistress's fingers found the strong elastic at the waist. The girl moaned a bit as her white school knickers were lowered almost to her knees. The headmistress noted to herself that the field hockey co-captain's white bottom made a pleasingly-sharp contrast to the girl's tanned and freckled thighs. She smiled to herself as she thought of how 'tanned' the girl's white skin would soon be.

Vera said nothing else, but picked up her hairbrush and tapped it twice against the girl's bottom before bringing it down with a loud crack across the centre. She felt Wendy's body stiffen and jerk, but the girl made no audible complaint. A bright red oval stood out brilliantly against Wendy's pale skin.

The spanking had a slow but steady tempo, with Wendy gasping as the brush punished her plump round bottom and thighs. Her feet kicked up involuntarily.

"Your bottom is colouring quite nicely, Wendy. But I think your offence merits 'St. Clare Crimson'."

With that pronouncement, the smacks became faster, though no less crisp. A sob escaped Wendy. And then another, until soon Wendy was crying over her headmistress's lap every bit as loudly as she had when she was eleven. The headmistress seemed unmoved by the sobbing girl and delivered another dozen whacks, the hardest of all, before setting the hairbrush down again beside her chair.

Vera rubbed gently at the base of Wendy's spine as the girl sobbed over her knee for a long minute or two. Then, hearing Wendy quieting, she helped her stand, tucking her kilt high into its own waist band. Wendy stood before her, knickers twisted at her knees, face buried in her hands.

"Now into the other corner with you, miss. And no rubbing or you will feel my cane after all."

The eagerness with which Wendy bolted toward the corner assured the headmistress that the girl wanted no more attention this afternoon. She watched Wendy until her nose was firmly pressing into the corner, hands on her head. The girl's bare bottom glowed bright from the attention of the hairbrush.

Then Vera turned her gaze over to Jane. Getting up from the chair, she walked over to the corner where the girl stood and laid her hand on her arm. Jane looked up at her headmistress, tears streaming down her face. It was clear she had suffered along with Wendy.

"And now it's time for you and I to have our little talk, Miss Swann."

Jane nodded, allowing herself to be led almost eagerly over to the chair. Clearly she wanted the spanking that would make her equal to Wendy, punish her as well so she needn't feel so guilty about the other girl's punishment.

Before pulling Jane over her lap, the headmistress reached beneath the girl's kilt and lowered her knickers to her knees. The strong elastic clung to her, keeping the white fabric bunched across her thighs. Jane blushed and couldn't meet her headmistress's eye.

"Such a naughty girl," Vera remarked as if to herself. "Obviously you're quite overdue for a hard spanking."

Saying nothing more, the woman guided the girl across her lap, arranging Jane so her bottom was high and quite bare. Then, without even a warning tap, Vera pulled back her arm and began walloping Jane's backside. Though there was time between them, each hairbrush smack echoed sharply across the room. Jane, already in tears, began to sob.

Vera listened to the girl's crying as it grew in volume with the tempo of her hairbrush whacks. As Jane began kicking, the brush found her thighs, painting them red. The headmistress wrapped her arm tight around Jane and used the hairbrush hard and fast up and down her bottom and thighs for at several very long minutes as sobs choked Jane and her kicks finally began to still. As the hairbrush cracked down harder still the girl cried out.

"Please! I'm sorry! I'm so sorry! I'll be good!"

Vera raised the brush higher and brought it down again.

"Yes you will, miss. Or from now on you'll learn your lessons standing!"

Two dozen more smacks with the brush on the tender place where Jane's bottom and thighs met and it was over and Jane and Wendy again stood before her, knickers again in place over painfully sore bottoms. Their hands itched to rub, but each held hers close to her sides, not daring to even think of such relief from her burning and stinging bottom.

"Now, I expect you both to conduct yourselves in a manner that brings honour to you, your house and St. Clare. Is that clear? Because next time you shan't get off so lightly."

"Yes, miss," whispered Wendy in a tone that indicated she wouldn't use 'lightly' to describe the punishment they had received.

"We'll be good, Headmistress, really."

"Yes, so you told me, Jane. For your sakes and mine I hope you remember that promise."

With that the girls were dismissed, sent back to their house and their still-shared private room.

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"Oh my," sighed Fiona as she closed her eyes and leaned back in her chair, tea long since cold and forgotten. "Delightfully naughty girls indeed. And you were right; that's just the sort of story I like best."

"I know, my dear," said Vera, pouring her old classmate a fresh cup and passing her a plate of biscuits. "Honestly, the thought of being able to tell you about it was the only thing that made my distasteful job of punishing the two bearable, I do assure you."

Fiona blushed a bit. "Indeed, I'm sure. But you know, they likely slept together again that very night. I can't believe you let them keep the same room. Such naughty girls!"

Vera smiled, her hand resting gently on her friend's thigh. Her eyes were warm and soft, lost in shared memories. Her smile broadened as Fiona, eyes still closed, covered Vera's hand with her own.

"Wendy and Jane? Well, I thought they might. And perhaps I've become soft in my old age. But after such a hard spanking it would seem a shame to deny such dear friends the comfort of small things."

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