"Just this morning, wasn't it?" She didn't answer. The nod of the downturned head was close to imperceptible. "I asked you a question. When did you last receive a punishment?"
"Today, miss," she said, her voice low, sulky, resentful.
"Don't take that tone with me, Wood."
Miss Birch lifted Wood's pleated, grey skirt and tugged the girl's navy knickers out and down. Her buttocks were a cheerful pink and blotched by the darker markings of the hairbrush spanking she had been given just after breakfast.
"Did it hurt?"
"But not enough, clearly. You're punished for bad behaviour and then just four hours later I come across you running in the corridors. What should I deduce from that?"
Wood wasn't sure what 'deduce' meant. "I don't know miss."
"I do know, 'miss'. That you're a girl who's developed resistance to this particular form of medicine," Miss Birch said, letting the skirt fall back into place. She took a step across the room to a cupboard, opened its door and took out a cane, before turning back to face the girl."Stronger medicine is called for, don't you think?" Miss Birch said. Wood's answer was to whisper a "yes" that Miss Birch didn't quite hear, but that she wasn't that worried one way or another.