Eleven-year-old Gavin Burton was not a happy schoolboy. It was a gloriously sunny afternoon in 1946 and young Gavin was in Detention. All his mates were outside playing while Gavin was stuck inside a classroom, forced to copy out pages from "Every Day Life in Ancient Rome". The nib of his fountain-pen scratched erratically across the writing paper.
Frank Leadbetter looked at his small charge. The burly prefect took a dim view of having to supervise a day boy or 'sprog' doing his detention. He rightly concluded he was as much a prisoner as young Burton.
It was all the new Head's fault. He had decreed that junior boys were no longer to be caned, except for serious offences. Leadbetter had boarded at Dauphan Collegiate since he was seven and had lost count of the number of times his own backside had been tickled by The Stick.
After an age, the senior boy's pocket-watch revealed the hour was up.
"Bring me your exercise book" he said to Burton in his baritone voice.
The boy shyly approached the prefect who he regarded as a god. Leadbetter silently circled the many spelling mistakes the boy had made. He sighed and closed the book with a snap. He handed it back to Burton.
"No more running in the corridor. OK?"
"Yes, Leadbetter", the boy piped in his clear treble.
"Off you go".
"Ex-cuse me, but how am I to get home?"
"What do you mean?"
"The school bus left ages ago". His lower lip quivered.
Leadbetter frowned at the junior boy. "Where do you live?"
"Just this side of Methven".
"But that's thirty miles from the school", the prefect exploded.
Gavin Burton hung his head.
"Come with me".
The big prefect took the boy to the duty master and explained the situation. The Burtons did not have a telephone so the man rang the police station in Methven. The constable promised to inform Gavin's widowed mother. Timetables were checked but to no avail. Rail and bus services to Methven had ended for the day. Petrol rationing was still in force so it was not possible to transport the boy by private car.
"We'll just have to find you a bed here for the night", the master boomed.
Leadbetter explained the situation to the Head who promptly rescinded his order regarding the beating of sprogs.
"If we'd whacked the boy instead of sentencing him to detention this would never have happened", the headmaster sighed.
'At least something good has come of it', the prefect thought.
Meanwhile, young Burton was in the tender care of Matron. She regarded him as a nuisance and made sure he knew it. Still, pyjamas were found and a toothbrush. Leadbetter went looking for the sprog.
"The junior dorms are full", Matron told the prefect. "He will have to sleep with the sixth formers".
Leadbetter groaned inwardly but took Burton to his own dormitory. Gavin looked at the rows of beds.
"Most of the chaps are in the city, at the Agricultural Show", the prefect said. "You can have that one". Gavin left the pyjamas and toothbrush on top of the bedspread.
A school boarding establishment is like a hothouse. News that a day boy was to spend the night at the school, was on everyone's lips.
"Why didn't you tell Leadbetter you were a bus boy?" the senior housemaster asked Gavin who was too overcome to speak.
"Does he talk?" the housemaster asked Leadbetter.
"Well, you'd better take care of him".
Leadbetter took Gavin to the fives court where he discovered the youngster had a real talent for the ancient game. When it was almost time for the evening meal, both boys washed their hands in the ablutions block.
Then they walked down the corridor. Two junior boys waited outside the housemaster's study. The crisp whack of the cane could be heard from within. Then a boy emerged trying to pull up his shorts, and rub his eyes and scorched behind, all at the same time. Gavin shivered.
"Nothing to worry about", Leadbetter said reassuringly, "Just a boy getting his bum stroked".
The prefect escorted Gavin into the Dining Hall. The junior boy sat down beside the prefect. The cook was a homely sort. Realising her unexpected guest had only eaten a cut lunch at midday, when boarders had their main meal, she gave Gavin a plateful of rabbit pie, boiled potatoes and salad.
"For what we are about to receive may the Lord make us truly grateful".
There was silence while the Head Boy said Grace and then all the boys tucked into the food before them.
"He can pack it away", said a prefect called Hayes admiringly as he watched Gavin clear his plate.
After the evening meal, Prep was held in the same classroom where Gavin had earlier served Detention. The boy did his homework and had time to swot up on Geometry which was still a mystery to him.
A bell rang and the boys trooped outside. Leadbetter was waiting for Gavin and took him to the Senior Dorm. There were only six senior boys in residence that evening. Gavin was a bit tongue-tied around them so they adopted the sprog as their unofficial mascot.
"Better have a shower before Lights Out", Leadbetter said, taking his sponge bag and towel off the locker.
"But I had a bath on Saturday night", replied Gavin and the big boys all roared with laughter.
They escorted him to the ablutions block. He was a bit shy about getting undressed but nobody took any notice of him. Soon he was standing under the jets of water, a pygmy surounded by giants.
'Will mine ever get to be that big?', he wondered.
The boys dried themselves and then wrapped a towel around their middle. Teeth were brushed. Leadbetter let Gavin use his tube of Dazzle toothpaste. They walked back to the dorm and changed into pyjamas. Leadbetter showed Gavin the potty beneath his bed and then the youngster got under the covers. He was asleep the minute his head hit the pillow.
The next morning the duty master banged a gong to get the boys out of bed. Leadbetter guided Gavin until it was time to take his seat in Assembly.
Morning lessons followed the usual routine and then it was time for lunch. Leadbetter who was on duty in the main hall heard the sound of running footsteps. He reached out a hand and grabbed a small boy, Gavin Burton!
"Come with me", the senior boy said. Gavin trudged beside him to the prefects' common room.
"Bill can you take over supervising the hall while I attend to this youngster?" the prefect asked a burly sixth former.
"Sure!" The youth jumped up and looked at Gavin. "Kind of small, isn't he?"
"He's a bus boy".
Gavin tugged Leadbetter's jacket.
"I gotta pee".
They walked to the toilet block. Inside, the prefect watch Gavin standing at a urinal. His legs were parted and Leadbetter observed the boy's thin, steady stream. Then he buttoned himself up again and rejoined the prefect.
The pair walked to the study where prefects carried out beatings. Another prefect was busy escorting a fourth former into the study. The door closed behind them. Many thuds! were heard accompanied by strident yells.
"It's OK to yell", the prefect told Gavin.
"Will it hurt real bad?"
The study door opened and the now tearful fourth former left the room, vigorously rubbing his bottom. He was followed by the prefect. Leadbetter escorted Gavin inside.
The boy looked around the pleasant, sun-lit room which his peers called 'the murder house'. Leadbetter selected a cane.
"Burton, I'm sorry this has to be done. I know from last night that you are a plucky little chap. I shan't go any easier on you because of that. The opposite in fact".
He sbsently swished the cane through the air and Gavin flinched.
"Unbutton your braces".
Gavin's fingers were all thumbs but, eventually, his shorts fell to the floor.
"Bend over the arm of that sofa".
When the boy was in position, the prefect gently peeled down the boy's underpants. Then he scooped up the shirt-tails. Gavin's flawless little bottom was displayed to perfection.
The prefect did his usual short run-up and then threw all his weight into the stroke.
A thin white line appeared in Gavin's virgin flesh. It quickly filled out into a fat weal. The boy yelled. Leadbetter waited until the clenched buttocks relaxed before unleashing the next hard stroke.
Gavin heard a boy yelling and then dimly realised it was his own voice. He was completely focused on the savage punishment being inflicted by the prefect. Gavin's bottom had exploded with unbelievable hurt.
Leadbetter watched the boy's quivering mounds and listened to him yell. The prefect was troubled by an erection. In his annual talk to new prefects, the headmaster had described such erections as 'the manly response' to the caning ritual. The prefect still felt badly about getting a pleasurable response from legally hurting a young boy. He thought about how nice young Gavin had been the night before and sighed.
The boy thought his bottom was about to explode. It felt like two swollen balloons with raging fires within.
Leadbetter had deliberately aimed the cane to land on the boy's incredibly tender 'underbum', where the buttocks join the thighs.
'He'll feel that one for a few days', the prefect thought grimly. He waited for a minute before administering the sixth and final stroke.
The cane carved a brutal new path through the forest of weals. Poor Gavin howled with the pain of it.
The prefect put the cane down. He inspected the weals on the youngster's rump and congratulated himself on caning hard but without drawing blood.
"Get up when you're ready".
After a moment to collect himself, the boy got to his feet. He had trouble with his clothing so the big prefect helped him.
'His nuts haven't dropped yet', Leadbetter observed.
When the boy was buttoned up he looked at his chastiser.
"Promise me you won't run in the hall again".
"Good! I'd hate to have to do that again", the prefect lied. Gavin shuddered at the thought of it.
They walked out into the bright sunshine. The prefect noticed how the boy's usually hunched shoulders were now straight.
'Hope that means he's got over his fear of The Stick', Leadbetter thought.
A bell rang and both boys went their separate ways to the first classes of the afternoon.