by Jolyon Lewes
This story continues to describe my time at an all-boys boarding school in Southern England. It follows on from Roger and takes place entirely at the school during the autumn of 1959. It concerns a beautiful creature called Dermot, who set my heart on fire. He gets caned and I try to offer succour. That's all.
In September 1959, now thirteen and a half, I entered the Third Form and was entitled to long trousers but I was obliged, for reasons of economy, to wear the short-trousered grey suits my parents had bought only five months earlier, when I'd first joined the school. I was one of a handful of boys in my class still in short trousers. I had a strong aversion to revealing my upper legs but these short trousers were quite long and offered a degree of modesty. Unfortunately for me, they were fashioned from coarse flannel and were unlined, itched like mad and felt extremely uncomfortable.
Since the age of about nine, I'd felt very conspicuous in shorts and this feeling strengthened with time, only disappearing in my mid-twenties. So, in my crucial formative years, I hated having to bare my upper legs to public scrutiny. There's a distinctive mole on the front of my right thigh – it's still there, I'm looking at it now – which I used to regard as a sort of upper limit for shorts to reach when I was sitting. It's about two thirds of the way from my knee to the top of my leg. The itchy grey school shorts only broke that limit if I deliberately pulled up the legs when I sat down. I'd do this if I thought nobody would notice, the aim being to reduce the area of flesh savaged by the the woollen material. I often did this in hot weather, especially when sitting at my desk in the classroom. I'd study the mole, dreading the day when I'd have to wear shorts that weren't long enough to conceal it. As I grew taller and sports shorts grew shorter, that inevitable day arrived and I wasn't even fifteen - but that's another story.
Throughout my schooldays, I hated having to participate in the compulsory sports that featured in every timetable. There were two reasons for this. Firstly, I was no good at games, having all the co-ordination of a clockwork orange, with no skill at all in throwing, catching or, indeed, doing anything with balls. It's no better today. This shortcoming meant I was always the last boy to be picked for a team, standing alone when both teams had been assembled, waiting for the sneering, humiliating call from one of the team captains: "Oh, all right, we'll have to have Lewes ."
Eyes downcast, I'd drift over to that team, to a muttered chorus of derogatory comments from the boys whose team I was to join.
Secondly, there was the embarrassment of having to wear shorts that only just reached my mole – and that was when I was standing. They only reached it because I would push them down over my hips as far as I dared in an effort to make them reach further down my legs. Furthermore, we were forbidden to wear underpants under our shorts, which made me – and many other boys – feel highly vulnerable. I could never understand why some larger, more physically developed boys, wearing their little shorts much higher than me, seemed happily reconciled to this humiliating regulation. Perhaps they were keen to display their growing maturity.
So, in summary, I loathed having to wear sports shorts and having to play team sports. On the rugby field I'd keep as far from the action as possible; consequently, I'd rarely get muddy and this meant I could, if lucky, avoid the horror of communal showers afterwards. Naturally, the prospect of being naked in close proximity to other boys was even more terrifying than having to wear shorts in front of them. I was, of course, entirely happy for other boys – especially the nice-looking ones - to wear the very shortest of shorts. To be blunt, it gave me erections.
Let's go back to September 1959. A twelve-year-old called Dermot had been placed next to me at mealtimes in the boarding house. You were seated according to a plan devised by the head of your table and that was where you sat. No argument. For once, I felt I'd been dealt some good luck. It was very good to sit beside Dermot. He was a gentle, quietly spoken boy with blue eyes and a peaches-and-cream complexion and I grew very fond of him. He lacked the brash self-assurance that so many of the other boys displayed but was not withdrawn and enjoyed chatting, although rarely raising his voice above a murmur. He and I soon began to address each other by our Christian names, taking care not to be overheard, as that practice was strongly disapproved of, even by the boys themselves.
Dermot's school uniform was of Terylene, which was gradually replacing the thick and itchy flannel that we older boys still wore, being smoother, lighter and much better tailored. These Terylene suits came with very short trousers. Dermot's shorts, which were lined, were very much briefer than mine. When he sat beside me on the bench in the dining hall, I'd work out where my mole would be if it were on his right thigh and conclude that his shorts had broken the mole limit by a considerable margin. In other words, his beautiful, smooth thighs were almost entirely bare. This, I found, added considerable appeal to mealtimes.
Dermot and I would chat about the ghastliness of the food. His favourite adjective was 'repulsive' while mine was 'revolting' and we'd see how many times we could use those words in a single meal. He didn't seem to mind if my hand occasionally brushed his bare thigh - a brief moment of excitement for me as I made contact with that silky skin - but I was very careful to ration myself as I didn't want to seem in any way forward. I knew this boy was capturing my heart and a glimpse of his sweet face as we all rushed down to the washroom after the morning bell had sounded made every day worth living for.
The first time I saw Dermot in PE kit was an arresting experience. His shorts were tight and really very short indeed, their brevity accentuated by his long, slender legs. He stood in the sunshine, fair hair aglow, and a gentle smile on his dear little face. He was clad in white singlet, tiny white shorts and white plimsolls. There was a lot of bare leg and a very pert little bottom. He looked like an angel.
He didn't know I'd seen him and suddenly he scampered off to join some other second-formers for a lap round the running track. My whole body tingling, I gazed in admiration. Here, perhaps, was somebody whose friendship and respect I could nurture. For this to stand a chance of working, I felt I mustn't let him see me being ridiculed by my classmates on the sports field, an all too regular occurrence, thanks to my total ineptitude at games. Luckily, Dermot and I rarely shared the same bit of sports field. If he ever watched displays of my incompetence, he never said so.
Dermot was one of the gentlest people I've known and he was not the sort of boy deliberately to break a school rule. All junior boys appeared on a roster which involved unlocking the boarding house back door in the morning, and the door to the boot-room, a shed in the garden where all outdoor shoes were kept. You surrendered your shoes every evening and retrieved them in the morning; this was another rule to be obeyed and we presumed it was intended to make a nocturnal escape more difficult. (One boy, however, managed ten miles one night, in his slippers, before being recaptured and returned to the boarding house for a caning.) On the iciest mornings, your shoes were rigid with cold and when you put them on they froze your toes.
Dermot failed in his duty one morning, forgetting to unlock the doors before an early-rising prefect tried to make his way to the boot-room. The housemaster was informed and poor Dermot was invited to present himself for punishment that evening, in pyjamas. Poor Dermot indeed: the previous term I'd been thrashed by the housemaster for a tiny burst of talking after lights-out. The memory of the four cane-strokes still lives with me. Dermot had never before been physically punished. His parents had brought him up to be a well-behaved boy simply by setting an example. They'd never found it necessary to strike him in any way. Now, the hapless little boy was facing his first caning.
Whereas I'd received my beating minutes after my 'crime' had taken place, Dermot had all day to anticipate the punishment. Sitting beside me at breakfast, he was fighting back tears of apprehension and could eat very little. All day I worried about him, knowing he'd be in anguish. When we met that evening, for high tea, he was a bag of nerves, terrified of the pain that awaited him at eight thirty. He told me he'd been sick twice during the day.
As usual, we sat together for the disgusting meal but instead of our familiar chatting, there was a very uncomfortable silence and Dermot couldn't eat anything. Neither could I. I felt I was going to be sick. He was cold and clammy. I may have let my hand rest on his leg as I encouraged him to be brave, and he did not object. I said we'd meet as soon as it was over, knowing that, in fact, he'd have to go straight to his bunk after his beating and that I wasn't allowed in his dormitory.
"How can we meet, Jolyon, when we're in separate dorms?" he said, sadly.
"I'll find a way." I said.
I couldn't concentrate on my prep, so anxious was I about my dear young friend. I hoped I could see him once more, at supper, before he had to get undressed and report to the housemaster. We did manage a quick assignation at 7.30 pm, while we queued for the mug of cocoa and indigestible currant bun, but all I could do was hold his trembling hands in the dark of the corridor and say:
"I'll see you later, Dermot. It won't be as bad as you think."
I went to my dorm and got into my pyjamas, my mouth dry and my heart beating fast. Dermot's dorm was accessed through mine, so the poor little fellow had to walk past me and downstairs for his appointment with the cane, not daring to look in my direction. I would try to share his agony for the next few minutes, as I imagined what he was going through.
That housemaster knew how to wield a cane and I knew Dermot would soon be in appalling pain. Could I hear the strokes? I made an excuse about forgetting to clean my teeth and went downstairs to the washroom. Instead of going in, I hovered on the landing outside the housemaster's study. Ready to leap into the washroom if the study door opened, I listened closely. What else could I do? My heart was pumping frantically as I lurked guiltily on the landing.
The first stroke was loud and clear, as was the cry that must have come from Dermot. I wished I could command some power and rush in, demanding the punishment cease at once. But I was only a thirteen year old boy, with no influence at all. I stood with my fists clenched, sweat dribbling down the small of my back, and felt utterly impotent.
The second stroke came about thirty seconds later. It sounded louder than the first and its force made the door shake in its frame. Dermot called out, an urgent and desperate cry of pain. I tried to imagine his firm little bottom as it was systematically ravaged by the beast with the cane but instead, it was his lovely face I pictured, twisted in pain and with hot tears running down his soft cheeks. I was too angry for tears. Still I stood outside. I was trembling with emotion, a mix of revulsion and pity. Would there be more strokes?
My question was answered by a crack of the cane, an even bigger shake of the door and a cry so piercing that I had to restrain myself from bursting in and rushing over to Dermot. He can't take any more, I thought; three will be enough, I'd better get upstairs quickly. The door will open in a second and I must not be spotted scuttling upstairs. As I began to move, I heard – no - felt the fourth stroke. The big sash window on the staircase rattled and the door again shook noisily. This time, poor Dermot shrieked long and hard and, as I sped upstairs, I heard his clear, treble voice pleading:
"Please, Sir! No more! Please Sir!"
I re-entered my dorm, convulsed with frustration and anger, out of breath and trying not to let the tears come. It was vital that I looked unconcerned – the beating of junior boys was a fact of life, it happened frequently, big boys like me did not pay attention, let alone show sympathy for the victim. I pretended to fiddle with my bedclothes but I listened hard. I didn't think I heard another, fifth stroke but when one of my dorm-mates dropped something heavy on the floor I jumped nearly out of my skin, expecting to hear another agonised scream from below.
Then there was a loud report, which echoed round the boarding house. It couldn't be a fifth stroke, surely? Or was it a door banging closed? Was that another pathetic cry from Dermot or was it water shrieking in the pipes? I had no idea what could have been happening downstairs but it was a long time before Dermot reappeared.
Alert to the slightest footfall, I heard the sound of light feet coming upstairs, accompanied by the snuffling of a weeping boy. Dermot came into my dorm and shuffled pathetically across the floor to his own dorm, his dressing gown flapping forlornly. All my other dorm-mates were there, so I couldn't even acknowledge Dermot as he stumbled painfully along.
My heart went out to the dear little chap but the code that forbade third-formers talking to second-formers in the dormitories meant I could say nothing.
"Little brat," said one of my dorm-mates.
There was nothing I could say, the code prohibited me from expressing any sympathy. I was silently pouring out warmth and and affection for Dermot as he entered his dorm. After lights-out, I waited for everything to quieten down before putting my plan into operation.
Long after lights-out it wasn't unknown for one individual, who used to stay awake, to get out of his bunk and creep ever so quietly to the bunk of another boy. These nocturnal assignations usually involved the same individuals, I noticed, being myself a light sleeper. This time, one protagonist was me. I stole on my knees across the bare wooden floor ready to freeze if I heard a noise. It didn't take long to move from my dorm to Dermot's, the moonlight through the windows giving sufficient illumination for my purpose. Hoping I hadn't woken anyone, I reached Dermot, who was lying on his bottom bunk. He was not asleep.
Careful to remain lying beside his bed, ready to whisk underneath it if somebody awoke, I raised myself on my left elbow and gently felt my right hand over towards Dermot's prone form. I could see he was facing towards me and as I touched his shoulder he whispered so quietly:
"Thank you, Jolyon."
It seemed superfluous to ask him how he was, so I just whispered "Dermot."
He wriggled slightly and a hand came towards me from the bedclothes. It brushed over my face and moved on, gently closing around my neck. I felt an electric current surge through me and shuddered slightly. My hand softly worked its way towards his face and I stroked his left cheek almost imperceptibly with the back of my fingers.
Making just the lightest contact, we held our positions for about a minute. All the time, I was alert for any sign that we'd been spotted by another boy but all seemed quiet. Dermot was quivering very slightly in his bed but his body felt hot, so he can't have been shivering with the cold. It was either the shock from his violent thrashing that made him shiver like that or it could just be – please let it be – the reaction to my touch. I moved my hand slowly down to his left shoulder, then, inch by slow inch, down his arm, coming to rest at his elbow.
"Five." He sighed. So that frightening bang must have been the fifth stroke after all. I felt revulsion charge through my body. How could a supposedly intelligent teacher do that to such a sweet angel?
I tightened my hold on Dermot's elbow. He whispered: "Want to feel it?"
I made no verbal reply but squeezed his elbow and moved my right hand off his arm, under the sheet and towards his hip. He had his pyjamas on but as I gently explored the curve of his bottom, I could feel the heat emanating from the punished area. I let my hand rest on his hip. Dermot wriggled again and with his free hand, eased his pyjama trousers over his bottom and moved the waistband down until it was lying on the tops of his thighs. He located my hand with his and slowly pulled it over until it was right over the weals on his bottom.
I could feel the newly formed ridges and was again filled with disgust that anyone should wish to inflict pain on this pristine little bottom, whose soft skin had never before been subjected to punishment. I just allowed my hand to rest there, applying no pressure but moving my little finger slowly to and fro over the silky skin in what I hoped was a tender, loving gesture. Little by little, I moved my hand up to his waist, where I could apply a little more weight without hurting him. By now, my face was about a foot from Dermot's and he moved his hand slowly towards my right ear, and then slowly tickled my ear lobe.
All seemed quiet in the dormitory and we remained in our chaste but companionable configuration for many minutes. Dermot had stopped shivering and had moved his attention from my ear to my face, tracing my nose and mouth with his forefinger. We'd never been in such intimate contact before and he probably felt as nervous as I was. These were magic moments – and as clear today as if they'd only just happened – but my left arm was beginning to ache, as it had been bearing a lot of weight.
As if he knew, Dermot moved his head closer and whispered:
"Thank you so much, Jolyon."
That seemed to be my signal to go back to my own bed and I was content to do just that now, as the longer we kept up this activity, the greater was the danger of discovery. Dermot knew that I was risking at best, the ridicule of our dorm-mates, at worst, a severe thrashing from our mutual friend the housemaster. He squeezed me and I squeezed him, then I silently (I hope) slid to the floor and crept my way back to my dormitory and my bed. If anyone else had noticed, he wasn't saying.
When I was back in my bed, I realised I must have been with Dermot over an hour. I was very cold, I had cramp...... and I was deliriously happy. I had, of course, felt stirrings down below for an hour or more but only now, in the safety of my bunk, did the erection finally materialise. I was still insufficiently mature to expect any kind of climax; I would have to wait almost two years for that little pleasure. I don't think I even knew what a climax in that sense would entail. I simply savoured the situation and lay awake until dawn, going over every second of our covert little assignation again and again. I knew I loved Dermot and I was damned certain he loved me too. Such tenderness I had never known before. I was such a lucky boy!
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