It’s hard to believe that this has remained neglected and unshared ever since its publication in 1953. I sent a very brief online reference to intrepid researcher Michael Gray who went on a mission to the British Library in London. To be honest I wasn’t expecting much, but the report came back that the novel was “awash with talk of spankings” including, remarkably, an entire chapter titled “Marjorie Gets Spanked”!
Many thanks to Michael for photocopying the relevant chapter. Teenage boy spanks teenage girl for going AWOL from a camping trip and spending the night in a nice warm bed while the rest were roughing it. As if that wasn’t bad enough, she has booked a night out at the cinema with an unsuitable boy too.
It’s wholly innocent and frightfully English – after the dramatic event they all sit down for tea! However, there’s one reluctant camper who prefers to take her tea standing up…
“Now for Marjorie!” Guy said, striding across the hall to the door Judith had locked against him. I saw by the expression on his face that although he’d been very gentle and patient with Judith, he wasn’t going to stand any nonsense from Marjorie.
Marjorie was sitting on the edge of the window-seat in her usual nonchalant fashion. As the window was half-open, we knew that she’d seen Toby and Esme in the garden below, and realised that there was no escape that way.
“Coming, Marjorie?” Guy said briefly, stopping just inside the door.
She shook her head.
“Can’t. I’ve got a date for to-night.”
“That date is off.” Guy answered. “I told you you weren’t to go to that picture, and I meant it.”
“By the way,” Marjorie said coolly, changing the subject, “how did you know I was here? I suppose Judith sneaked?”
“No, she didn’t. She stood by you very loyally. though I consider quite wrongly. I don’t know if you realise it, Marjorie, but we’ve worried to death about you. We’ve been scouring the countryside looking for you most of last night and all today.”
“I meant you to!” Marjorie broke passionately. “I wanted you to be worried!” I hope you were all sick with fright! I believe you were too. I heard you go crashing up the road early this morning. I waved to you out of my nice warm bed!” Suddenly she began to giggle. “Don’t say you believed all that rot about the tarn. Gosh! I believe you did!
“No, I didn’t!” Guy exclaimed, flushing with anger. “I went up to the peel house to see if you were hiding there. I’d looked in nearly every other place. Now will you come?”
“I’ve already told you I’m going out with Ralph.”
“I’m in charge of you, Marjorie,” Guy said sternly. “If you don’t come with me at once, I shall take you.”
It was Marjorie’s turn to grow red.
“How dare you! You’re not in charge of me. I shall go where I like, and do what I like!”
“You will not!” Guy told her. “I am in charge of you. Your father asked me in his wire to look after you.”
“Yes, he did. I’ve got it here in my pocket.”
“My father never wrote that wire, you idiot!” flashed Marjorie. Then she turned redder than ever, realising, I suppose, that she’d said something she hadn’t meant to say.
As for us– we stood and stared at her, speechless with astonishment. At length Guy said:
“That’s extremely interesting, Marjorie. We’ll hear all about it when we’re back at the camp.”
“No, you won’t!” screamed Marjorie, and, flinging the window wide, she leapt out of it — jumping right into a perfectly enormous bed of nettles growing underneath.
“Toby!” yelled Guy. “Stop her!”
Esme and Toby had evidently got tired of waiting and were sitting on the edge of the moat. Toby jumped up as though he’d been shot, and flung himself headlong after Marjorie, tackling her in his best Rugby manner. She came crashing to the ground with Toby on top of her.
“Let go, you little—-!” She didn’t finish what she was saying. Guy had arrived on the scene. He picked her up and strode off with her towards the place where the ponies were tethered.I withdrew from the window, where I’d been in imminent danger of falling headlong into the nettles myself, and went back into the hall. I turned the key in the cloak-room door and opened it.
“You can come out, Judith,” I said.
She passed me without a word, her head high. I caught her arm.
“Guy hated shutting you in there, Judith,” I said.
“Honestly, he did. But you see, Marjorie—-”
She shook off my hand and walked away across the hall. I looked after her; in two minds as to whether I ought to follow her. Then I decided against it, because I was quite sure she wouldn’t listen to me if I did.
We rode soberly home to the camp. It was bitterly cold, although the sun was shining brightly, and we were very glad when the battlemented roofs and queer, twisted chmneys of Hordon came into view through the trees. Of course, there was no fire, so Guy collected twigs and paper and started to light one, whilst Toby got the primus going. Esme and I put on extra cardigans and got out the things for tea in double-quick time. Marjorie said nothing at all, but sat with her back turned towards us and sulked. When Esme asked her if she wouldn’t like a cardigan or a blazer out of the tent, she didn’t even deign to answer. Meanwhile, Guy had got the fire going, for which fact we were very grateful. It looked cheerful, anyway, even if there wasn’t much warmth in it. Presently he sat back on his heels and announced with deceptive quietness:
“And now, Marjorie, you’re going to get that spanking I’ve so often threatened you with!”
Esme and I gazed at him in awestruck silence. As for Marjorie, she sprang to her feet and whirled round to face him, turning red and white by turns.
“How dare you!” she yelled, her hair flying and her dark eyes positively flashing.
“You made fools of us all,” Guy said sternly. “You made Esme cry. I vowed, then and there, that I’d give you a hiding, and I’m going to. So you may as well face up to it”
“Face down to it, you mean! Toby said with a grin.
“Go on, Guy! Put her across your knee and let her have it! She deserves it! Why should she always get off scot-free?”
“You forget I’m a girl!” yelled Marjorie, her eyes wide with fright.
“That’s your fault,” Guy said calmly. “When you don’t behave like a girl, how can you expect us to remember the fact? We’ve treated you like a girl too long, if you ask me! Any way, you’ve told us often enough that you wished you were a boy, that you wouldn’t mind being licked.”
“I didn’t mean it!” Marjorie said desperately. “Honestly I didn’t!”
“Well I can’t help that. You shouldn’t say what you don’t mean. Anyway, you’re going to be treated like a boy now, whether you like it or not.”
“You daren’t do it!” she exclaimed, very unwisely, as she’d have been the first to realise if she hadn’t been so het up.”You daren’t! I shall tell my father!”
“There are a good few things you’ll have to be telling your father, I’m thinking,” Guy said dryly, giving the fire a poke and standing up.” But that can wait until afterwards.”
Marjorie changed her tactics. She put on her meekest and most pleading expression.
“Please, Guy she begged, her eyes full of tears, “please let me off. I’m sorry—-honestly I am. I’ll apologise.”
“You will,” agreed Guy pleasantly “after the spanking.”
“She is sorry. I’m sure she is,” Esme broke in, seizing his arm. “Please let her off, Guy. Please, I want you to. If it’s because of me—-”
“It isn’t only because of you,” Guy said, quietly disengaging his arm.” There are lots of reasons–things you’ll hear about later. Anyway, remember the fright she gave us all–the way we trekked round for hours on end looking for her–the police. No. Sorry, kid, but Marjorie’s got to be taught a lesson. You’d better scoot into the tent and stay there–if you don’t want to witness the horrid spectacle!”
Esme gave one scared glance at his resolute face and scooted like a rabbit into a rabbit-hole. She couldn’t bare to see even Marjorie beaten.
“Please, Guy,” Marjorie said again, unable to realise that, for the first time, her pleading was to be in vain. He shook his head.
“No. It isn’t as if you’d never done it before. You’re always doing it. Well, this time you’ve gone just a bit too far, and you aren’t going to get away with it.” He bent down took off one of his rubber-soled sand-shoes, and stood gently flicking it against his knee. “The game’s up Marjorie! You may as well give in and get it over without a fuss.”
But it wasn’t Marjorie’s way to give in without a struggle. The fact that the odds were all against her, and defeat certain in the long run, made no difference. Her meek demeanour dropped from her like a cloak. She faced Guy, her hands clenched into fists, her eyes blazing.
“You shan’t!” she yelled at him, stamping her foot. “You shan’t! You shan’t! I’ll kill you! I’ll die first!” Then she whirled round, took to her heels and dashed for the shelter of the castle–incidentally, knocking Toby and me flat in her headlong flight. Guy followed, hot-foot, and hauled her back. He sat down upon one of our sawn-up logs, put her across his knee and proceeded to whack her with the sand-shoe, whilst I tried not to laugh, and Toby went on making the tea as if nothing unusual were happening. You couldn’t have said that Marjorie took her punishment like a man. She struggled, fought, kicked, and screamed like a regular wild-cat. Sometimes I have an idea that she bit as well! Really, you’d have thought she was being killed, at least!”
“Let me go, you beast!” she yelled. “Stop it, Guy! Ouch! You’re hurting me…”
Presently Guy released her.
“You’ve had that coming to you for a long time, Marjorie,” he declared, giving her a last whack with the shoe as she sprang to her feet.” “I hope you benefit from it! As for hurting you–of course I hurt. I meant to. You didn’t think I was doing it for fun, did you? You made Esme cry. I promised I’d make you cry, too. Here’s a hankie.” He pulled one out of his pocket and tossed it over to her.” Well, now that it’s over we’ll cry quits about the running away, shall we? He held out his hand.
Marjorie dashed the tears away from her eyes.
“I’m not crying!” she shouted at him, flinging the hankie back in his face. “I’m not! I’m not! How dare you say I am! And I shan’t shake hands with you, or cry quits. And I shan’t forgive you. either. I shall never forgive you! Never! Or you, either, Toby Martin. I shall never speak to either of you again!”
“That’s the worst of girls!” declared Toby in disgust.”They can’t let bygones be bygones. They must harbour all their little grievances.”
“Little grievances!” yelled Marjorie.
“Good Lord” he exclaimed. “What a blessed fuss to make over a licking!” You’d never make a boy, Marjorie.”
“Oh, shut up!” she said furiously, turning her back.
“Let’s have tea,” Guy said, calmly putting on his shoe again.” Toby’s had it made for ages, and I’m famished. We didn’t have much lunch. You can come out, Esme,” he added. “The coast’s clear! Sit down, Marjorie!”
“Perhaps she feels more comfortable standing up!” Toby put in wickedly.
Marjorie turned upon him in a fury.
“Take that, you little beast! and that!” Before he realised what was happening, she had soundly boxed his ears. Of course, we all laughed, which didn’t please Toby much. He advanced upon Marjorie in so threatening a manner that there would have been a free fight on the spot if Guy hadn’t stepped between them.
“Stow it, Toby, old man!” he said definitely. “You asked for that, you know!” Although his voice was lazy, there was something in it that made it quite clear to all of us that he didn’t intend to allow Marjorie to be baited. “Sit down, Marjorie, when I tell you!”
Marjorie looked back at him angrily, but there was a good deal of wholesome respect in her glance besides the anger, and after a few moments she obeyed.
“Funny,” Toby said thoughtfully when we’d finished our tea and settled down.” You gave her sixteen whacks, Guy,–one for each year of her life. Fact! Counted ’em.”
Marjorie grew scarlet, and looked as though she were going to cry again. Guy turned upon Toby.
“Look here, old chap–if you don’t shut up you’ll be for it yourself in another brace of shakes!” he threatened.
“O.K.,” grinned Toby. “If the worst comes to the worst, please remember that I’m only twelve!”