Crystal's StorySite


Mike's Day of Reckoning

by Jennifer


Ten year old Mike Chapman was a proud and arrogant 10 year old. Without a father to keep him under control he was used to getting his own way, and enjoyed pushing the younger children at school around, so he wasn't exactly popular. He had absolute contempt for any girl even if she was older than him, and for a long time they'd had to put up with his derisive behaviour towards them. The teachers knew all about his antisocial behaviour, but he was clever enough to avoid being a little beast whenever they were around. He was the despair of his mild mannered mother too. The mothers of neighbouring smaller children were always complaining to her about his bullying ways, and she'd tried everything she could think of to cure him, but no threat or punishment seemed to work, and she'd almost given up. Even the other boys of his own age didn't have much time for him.

But pride comes before a fall, and one day, fate intervened in a way that would prove to be a well deserved salutary lesson for him.

It all happened while he was at primary school back in the more formal educational days of the 1950's, when the dividing line between boys and girls was much more strictly defined than they are now. They even had separate entrances into the school.

One summer's day during afternoon recess at his primary school, he was as usual swaggering around the playground when little Emily Harris came running around a corner and collided with him. She crashed to the ground and grazed her knee quite badly, but instead of sympathising as she burst into tears he just shouted at her 'Why don't you look where you're going you stupid little idiot!'

And that was the straw that broke the camel's back. Emily's 11 year old sister Susan was just behind her, and as she helped Emily to her feet and dried the tears from her face, she vowed to get her revenge. It was time for this swaggering bully to be taken down a peg or two, and as she took Emily up to the surgery to have her knee attended to, she was already seething with malevolence towards Mike.

That afternoon after school she held a council of war with her friends Jenny, Christine, Angela and Trudy, the oldest. As they sat in her room discussing what to do about Mike, Jenny said 'I suppose what we're looking for is something to puncture his arrogance. Something to make him look really silly in front of the whole school. If he's humiliated enough he'll never live it down, and he won't dare try throwing his weight around again once he's been made a fool of.'

'Yes I agree' said Susan, 'But what can we do to him? We want it to be something so that he'll have no idea who it was that set him up, but I also want it to be something that he'll absolutely detest and will be really humiliating for him.' The girls sat in silence while they tried to think of something.

Suddenly Angela said thoughtfully 'You know, I remember last year when my brother got landed with playing the part of a girl in his school play. He put up with it, but he absolutely hated it. If there's one thing that boys can't stand, it's to be dressed as a girl.'

'That's true' grinned Susan, 'What a lovely idea. Just imagine rough tough Mike Chapman dressed as one of the sweet little girls that he's always giving such a hard time. Now that I would like to see' she chuckled. 'But how can we fix it without getting caught, he's hardly going to volunteer is he? There must be a way though.'

More deep thought ensued, until the germ of an idea came to Susan. She began to smile broadly as she said 'I think I've got it. It'll take some co-operation from one or two of the boys, but that shouldn't be a problem, he's pretty unpopular with some of them as well. Oh yes, this is going to be a beauty. Now this is what we do.' And as she enlarged on her plan, a titter of giggles went round the room as the plan crystallised. The trap only had to be set and sprung.

The following Wednesday morning, the senior classes were taken by bus to a swimming pool about ten miles away. They were accompanied by Mr. Markham in charge of the boys, and Miss Jones supervised the girls. As soon as they arrived, the boys and girls went into the individual changing cubicles around the pool to put on their swimming costumes, and left their clothes hanging up. They were allowed ten minutes to undress, forty minutes to swim, and fifteen minutes to dry themselves before returning to school.

As usual, Mike made a thorough nuisance of himself by ducking his fellow students and being generally obnoxious. He particularly upset the learners by jumping in next to them with as big a splash as possible, and for the hundredth time Miss Jones told him to stop doing it, but to her exasperation he just ignored her as usual. She was fast losing her patience with his rude and arrogant behaviour, so the children weren't the only ones in the school who were fed up with him.

After their time in the water had come to an end, a whistle was blown, and the children were ordered out of the pool to dry off and change back into their school uniforms. The time of retribution had come.

Mike returned to his cubicle, looked inside for a moment, and puzzled, took down a girl's blue and white gingham check school frock from the hook where he had left his clothes. Suddenly looking desperately around the cubicle, he frowned and said angrily 'What the....? Hey, what's going on, where are my clothes?' The boys nearby heard him, and in a few moments a small group of them were crowding round the open door of his cubicle. They soon began to laugh, and no wonder, as they saw him standing there holding a girl's dress. Mr. Markham wondered what the fuss was about and made his way through to see what was going on. 'What is it Michael?' he said, 'What's the problem?'

'It's my clothes Sir' said Mike, holding up the dress forlornly, 'They've gone! Someone's swapped them over for one of the girl's school uniforms. I can't wear this' he said, holding up the dress with understandable distaste.

'Are you sure this is your cubicle?' said Mr. Markham helpfully, 'This isn't one of the girl's cubicles is it?'

'No Sir, number twenty, it was easy to remember.'

'Just a minute.' He turned and called out 'Miss Jones, have any of the girls found a boy's school uniform in their cubicle?' There was a moment's pause before she came over to him and said 'No, everything here's in order. Why? What's happened?'

'Well' said Mr. Markham, 'It seems that someone with a sense of humour has replaced Michael Chapman's uniform with a girl's one. Are you sure they all have their correct uniforms?'

'Yes, definitely. Oh dear, it looks as if Master Chapman has a bit of a problem, doesn't he?' She couldn't resist a slight smile as she quickly guessed what had happened and what would inevitably have to follow, especially with a little insistence on her part. In the wake of his frequent disgraceful behaviour she couldn't think of anything she'd enjoy more.

'Well' she said with pretended seriousness, hanging the dress back on its hook, 'If this is all he's got to wear, then he'll have to wear it back to school, won't he?' Mr. Markham couldn't think of any alternative and said 'Well yes, I suppose so. Perhaps you'd better help him to put it on.' Mike had been listening with increasing horror. Suddenly his arrogant bravado was gone in the face of the two teachers as he realised that they really intended to make him wear the girl's school uniform back to school.

In a last ditch effort he said 'Oh please Miss Jones, you can't make me wear it. I'll be a laughing stock!'

'I'm sorry Michael' she said, trying to keep a straight face as she entered the changing cubicle with him, 'There's no alternative. Now let's get you dressed, we've already wasted enough time, and the others are waiting.' She turned to Mr. Markham and said 'All right John, I'll take care of this. You assemble the children outside, and I'll bring him out in a few minutes.' She closed the cubicle door while he left Mike to his fate.

'Now then young man' she said firmly, taking down a pair of navy blue knickers off the hook, 'In you get.' She held them out in front of his feet, and with a groan of despair, Mike stepped into them, and she pulled them up his legs to his waist. Next came a white vest. She quickly put it on over his head and tucked it into his knickers around his waist. Then she took down the dress and held it for him to put on. It was a typical girl's primary school summer dress made of blue and white check gingham, with a row of white buttons up the front to the neck. It had short sleeves with white cuffs and a white pointed collar, and there was a breast pocket with a white strip along the opening. The belt was fitted with a white plastic buckle, and was threaded through two keepers attached to the dress at the sides of the waist. On the end of the belt was a buttonhole to stop the belt slipping open.

She held the dress up and put it over Mike's head while he reluctantly put his arms into the sleeves. Then she pulled it down over him before fastening the buttons up to his neck and securing the belt in place. On his feet went a pair of white ankle socks which she turned down neatly, and on top of those, a pair of brown T bar mary jane strap shoes with buckles at the side of the foot. She made sure that the strap buckles were tightly fastened so that they could not come off. Mike blushed deeply as he began to feel like a little girl being dressed by her mother.

Standing back to inspect him, she smiled and said teasingly 'Oh yes that's lovely. You're beginning to look every inch like one of the girls aren't you?' She was enjoying every moment of deflating the boy's ego. She took down a royal blue blazer and held it out for him to put on, and he put his arms into the sleeves. Then she pulled it up onto his shoulders and pulled down the sleeves neatly so that they just covered his wrists. 'Now' she said 'One last thing, your school hat. You know that all the girls have to wear it.' She took down a cream coloured straw school hat with a royal blue hat band, put it carefully on his head, and pulled the hat's elastic band down under his chin. 'There we are' she said, straightening the hat, 'All ready. Now let's go and join the others.'

They walked out of the cubicle and round to the stairs that led up to the entrance hall. As they climbed them, Mike began to drag his feet in miserable anticipation of rejoining the others outside. But Miss Jones was used to dealing with reluctant boys with a firm hand, and as they reached the entrance she took hold of his arm and propelled him through the front door and out into the open.

By now of course, the word had gone around regarding Mike's plight, and the other children stood outside in a group, eagerly awaiting his appearance. And they weren't disappointed. As Miss Jones dragged him unwillingly into view, a roar of laughter went up from the boys, and squeals of delight from the girls.

'Well who's the little new girl?' called out one of the girls, followed by a chorus of teasing. 'Isn't she cute?' giggled another.

'I wonder where Michael went?'

'Don't know. This must be his kid sister Michaela! That must be her name if she's a girl.'

'Well it's nice to see that her school uniform fits her so well. Doesn't she look sweet?'

Mr. Markham let them have their fun for a moment, and felt a quiet satisfaction in seeing the little bully humiliated. Trying hard not to laugh himself he said 'All right everyone, calm down. Now form up in pairs and we'll get back to the bus stop.'

'And Michael' added Miss Jones, 'You'd better walk in front with the girls, you'll be less conspicuous, unless you want everybody in the street to notice you.' Blushing a deep crimson, Michael walked in among the girls, seeing the wisdom of her suggestion. Dressed as he was, it was true that members of the public wouldn't give him a second glance. They would simply assume that among all the others, he really was a girl. But his school friends certainly knew better, and many of them relished this opportunity to get their own back. Susan and her friends deliberately took up positions next to him, and a never ending stream of teasing banter assailed his ears. And there was nothing he could do about it.

The crocodile of children walked up to the bus stop, and the children waited in a queue for the bus to arrive. One or two people at the bus stop looked at Mike and grinned broadly as the other children were only too happy to point him out and tell them that this was his punishment for being a bully. The bus finally arrived, and Mike had to sit surrounded by the girls, who seemed to have an inexhaustible arsenal of comments to make regarding his humiliating appearance. It was sheer purgatory so far, but Susan and the other girls had plenty more in store for him before they'd finished with him. The bus finally arrived near the school, and they all got off and walked back through the main gate in time for lunch.

As soon as they were inside and heading off to the dining hall, Mike went up to Miss Jones and said 'Please Miss, can I go home and change now?' But she had already decided not to waste this heaven sent opportunity of punishing him while at the same time not being seen as punishing him without an official reason. She thought of all the smaller children he'd bullied in the past, and felt she owed them the sweetness of revenge. And she could see how this exquisite humiliation would make it impossible for him to ever throw his weight around again. His credibility had sunk to zero already.

But putting on her official, serious expression she said 'No I'm afraid not Michael. If I let you go home you won't be back until mid afternoon, and I'm not going to have you missing out on your lessons. No, you'll just have to stay like that until you get home after school. Now come along and have your lunch.' Mike was crestfallen as he anticipated what the afternoon was going to be like, but he had no choice, and walked over to the dining hall with Miss Jones. By the time he arrived nearly all the seats were taken, and he had to sit conspicuously at the end of one of the tables.

As soon as the younger children saw him they fell about with laughter, especially the little girls whom he'd bullied so much in the past, all dressed identically to himself. This was their moment of revenge and they were loving every minute of it. Even the staff members at the end of the table couldn't help grinning as he entered the dining hall. Mr. Markham had already told them what to expect, and they all shared some pleasure in seeing Mike's plight. It was certainly turning into a day of reckoning.

As he sat down at the table, Miss Jones said 'Michael, take off your hat please, you know we don't allow hats to be worn indoors.' Blushing crimson at having everyone's attention drawn to him, he removed the hat and hung it over the back of his seat by the chin elastic as he'd often seen the girls do. Lunch was sheer misery, and he didn't feel hungry as the teasing continued. He almost began to look forward to the afternoon lessons, as at least that meant they would have to stop talking. But for the next half an hour he just had to put up with it.

At last lunch was over, and the children rose from the table and went out into the playground until the afternoon lessons. Michael did likewise, and carried the humiliating school hat in his hands. He was unable to avoid being surrounded by his teasing classmates, and couldn't help wondering what the afternoon had in store. By now he was completely subdued, and his swaggering walk was gone. It seemed that this harsh lesson was beginning to have some effect.

The bell went, and the children made their way to classes. As Mike and his colleagues entered the room, Miss Wilkins looked at him and smiled. 'Well Michael' she said, 'Seeing as you're dressed as a girl, you'd better sit down the front on the left with the other girls. Over here. Get your books out of your own desk first.' Mike went over to his usual desk, took out the books he needed, and then walked back to where he found himself sitting next to Fiona McPherson, who looked at him, giggled with laughter, and said 'Here you are Michaela, you sit next to me. Put you hat in your desk, there's a good girl.' He did so, and tried to ignore the amused stares of the others boring into his back.

The history lesson got under way, and as Mike had guessed, at least he had some respite from the incessant teasing of the other children. The lesson finished, and was followed by Maths. With that lesson over, they sat waiting for Mr. Perry to come in for the last lesson of the afternoon to start, Susan leaned across from her desk and said 'Hey Michaela, looking forward to going home?' Mike didn't answer, and she said 'Well we are, believe me.' That sounded ominous, but Mike didn't have time to think any more about it as Mr. Perry came in and started the geography lesson. Geography was one of Mike's better subjects, but on this occasion he just couldn't concentrate, and started to eye the wall clock anxiously. He had a feeling that going home was going to be some kind of special treat that the others had in store for him. And unfortunately, he was right.

Mike kept glancing at the clock almost willing it to stop, but the hands moved inexorably round, and he jumped when the school bell rang at 3.30. As usual they had to wait for the teacher to leave the room first, and Mike almost felt as if he was being abandoned to the wolves. Which he was in a way. It was time to go home, but not quietly, as he'd hoped. He'd planned on staying behind until all the others had gone, and then walking home by the quickest and quietest route so as to avoid being seen. But fate had something much more interesting in store.

As soon as Mr. Perry had left the classroom, Mike was immediately surrounded by several of the girls. Fiona folded her arms with a triumphant grin on her face and said 'Now then Michaela, we don't want a little girl like you walking through the streets all on your own, so we've decided to take you home. Aren't we nice?' Mike said nothing, wondering what was coming next. He soon found out. Two much larger girls known for their sporting prowess took him firmly by the arms, and marched him out into the corridor and downstairs to the playground. Then they walked him with the others round to the back of the school and into the empty sports pavilion, where they shut the door behind them.

'Here we are' said Trudy Walters, the biggest girl in the school 'We won't be disturbed in here. Sit him down in that chair and hold him still while I take care of his hair.' His hair? Mike wondered just what they had in mind, but in an instant he was grabbed by six of the girls and pushed down unceremoniously into a solid wooden chair. Taking a firm grip on him they soon had him securely immobilised. 'Don't worry' smiled Trudy, 'We're not going to hurt you. We just want to keep you still while we make you look a bit more like one of the little girls you've bullied so many times.'

She grinned as she reached into her school blazer pocket and pulled out two white hair ribbons and hair slides, together with some elastic bands and a comb. Oh no he thought, not hair ribbons, they wouldn't. Oh yes they would. 'All right, hold his head still' said Trudy as she put the items down on a small table and sorted them out.

One girl stood behind the chair and hooked her arm around his neck to hold his head still while Trudy began. First of all she combed his quite long hair with a centre parting. Then, pulling one side of his hair into a bunch, she took one of the elastic bands and would it tightly around the base close to the head. Then she did likewise to the other side so that Mike now had two evenly positioned bunches of hair sticking out, one on each side of his head. Next, she picked up one of the lengths of hair ribbon and wound it tightly around the base of one of the hair bunches before tying it in a neat non-slip bow. A few moments later the other ribbon had been firmly tied around the other bunch in another neat bow.

Trudy adjusted the two bows until they were evenly positioned, stepped back and looked at me. 'There we are' she said, 'Now he's really beginning to look like a little girl. Good thing his hair was so long, I think those hair ribbons will stay put.'

'They sure will' chuckled Sue, tightening them slightly.

'But just for that extra cute touch' grinned Trudy, 'We'll need these.' She took one of the white plastic hair slides shaped in the form of a small bow, slid the metal clip under Mike's hair just below one of the ribbons, and clicked it shut firmly. Then she followed suit with the other one to finish off. Taking the comb, she combed the front of his hair in a neat fringe. 'There we are' she said, 'Finished. Doesn't he look sweet? Even more little girlish than the school hat isn't it?' A chorus of giggling assent went up as the girls enjoyed the prospect of taking Mike out into the street.

'Now just one other thing' said Trudy, putting her comb back in her pocket, 'I don't want him pulling those ribbons out of his hair as soon as he gets the chance, so I think we should do something about his hands first. I've got just the thing to keep him under control, and where we're going I think we might need to. Stand him up and hold his hands behind his back will you?' The girls quickly hauled Mike to his feet and pulled his hands together behind his back. He tried to struggle for a moment, but with so many girls holding him he was helpless to resist.

'Now then' grinned Trudy, reaching into her blazer pocket, 'Guess what I've got?' She chuckled as she drew out a shiny pair of steel handcuffs. 'I borrowed these from my brother' she said, 'He got them from a joke shop, but they're real. Good thing I've got the key isn't it? Hold him still will you?' She stepped behind him and slipped the handcuffs over Mike's wrists before closing them securely with a series of clicks as she tightened them. There was no way he was going to get them off.

'All right girls, let him go for a moment' said Trudy, and the girls released Michael. For a moment he spun round and round, helplessly tugging at the handcuffs and trying desperately to reach up and pull out the humiliating hair ribbons. But it was hopeless of course, and in few moments he calmed down, knowing when he was beaten. For the time being he had no choice but to go along with their fun and games.

Trudy stood in front of Mike and said 'Give up? You might as well. There's no way you're going to get out of those handcuffs until I take them off, so that means those sweet little hair ribbons will stay put for the time being. Isn't that nice? Now' she continued, 'I think it's time to tell you what happens next. You probably thought that you'd be able to creep home without being noticed. Well we can't have that, can we? No, we've got a much better idea. We're going to take you for a nice long walk into town so that everybody can see how pretty you look. And by the way, a couple of the boys have gone round to your place to tell your Mum you've having tea with them, so she won't expect you back until later. I'd love to be a fly on the wall when you have to explain to your her how you came to be dressed as a cute little schoolgirl!'

'So now' she continued, 'We might as well get going. Keep a good hold of him and let's be off.' Two of the biggest girls took hold of the helplessly struggling Mike and dragged him towards the door and outside as his torment began.

They soon left the school grounds unseen and headed towards the town centre, and the closer they got, the more people there were. Most people didn't realise that the beribboned schoolgirl was really a boy, but those that did grinned broadly, especially when the girls explained the reason. Bullies are never popular, and seeing one punished in such a delightful manner had many members of the public voicing their approval.

They came closer and closer to the town centre, and the girls had the pleasure of making Mike walk up and down the main street several times as conspicuously as possible. Finally they decided to rest, and took Mike into a coffee bar. They ordered milk shakes all round, and sat Mike down between the two biggest girls. As the waitress put the shakes down on the table Trudy looked at Mike and said 'Well bully boy, had enough? Learnt your lesson?' Mike looked at her, his lower lip trembling and said 'Yes' quietly. His spirit was broken, and all the aggressive arrogance seemed to have been knocked out of him. But Trudy wasn't completely satisfied yet.

'Well I hope so for your sake' said Trudy, 'Because if we ever catch you pushing the little ones around again, we'll give you a lesson that will make today seem mild in comparison. Got that?'

'Yes Trudy' mumbled Mike with obvious contrition.

'Very well then' said Trudy, taking the key of the handcuffs out of her pocket. 'Now I'm going to take off those cuffs, but on one condition.'

'What's that?'

'That you don't touch those hair ribbons. They're staying there until you get home, and we're going to make sure they do. One try at taking them off and the handcuffs go on again. Understood?'

'Understood' quietly.

'Very well. Now hold still while I get them off.' She leaned behind him, and with a click she unlocked the handcuffs, stood up, and slipped them into her pocket. 'All right Michaela' she smiled, 'Now you sit down there like a good little girl and drink your milk shake.' Rubbing his wrists for a moment, Mike didn't hesitate and gratefully began to suck at his straw.

The girls started to ease off with their teasing, partly because they were running out of jibes, but also because they had a feeling that Mike really was truly sorry for his obnoxious behaviour in the past. It remained to be seen if they had succeeded in curing him, but it did seem that a severe dose of humiliation had done the trick.

As they all finished their milk shakes, Trudy reached into her pocket and gave Mike the things they'd removed from his clothes pockets such as his keys and money, and he put them in his blazer pockets. Then, paying at the desk, they made their way out into the street to accompany Mike home. They were determined to see that his punishment was completed all the way up to his front door, and so it was. The girls giggled as they saw how many people were still highly amused at Mike's appearance, and this final little humiliating journey lasted another half an hour until they all reached his front gate.

'All right then Mike' said Trudy, 'That's it. We hope you've learnt your lesson. You behave yourself from now on and we'll say no more about it. But I warn you, I meant what I said about something worse happening if you put a foot wrong. Now you can go. You'll find your clothes in your desk at school in the morning, and you can bring back that girl's school uniform with you. I don't imagine you'll want to see that again, will you? All right, we'll see you at school in the morning. Go on, in you go.'

Mike gratefully said goodbye and walked up to the front door. As he opened it his heart was pounding as he wondered how he was going to explain his appearance to his mother. 'Is that you Michael?' came a voice from the kitchen. 'Yes Mum' he replied, and taking a deep breath, he walked down the hallway and into the kitchen. His mother was peeling some vegetables at the sink, and as he came into the room she turned round to look at him. She froze for a moment and then a look of amazement crossed her face. 'What the…' she exclaimed, 'Michael, what on earth are you doing dressed like that?' Her look of amazement quickly turned into a grin before she began to chuckle. 'What happened? And where on earth are your clothes?'

'The others tricked me into it. Somebody switched my clothes for this stupid girl's school uniform while we were at the baths. We couldn't find mine, so I've had to wear these all day. Oh Mum it's been terrible. The other kids teased me something wicked, and the girls even took me into town after school dressed like this. It was awful! Everybody was laughing at me.' His mother sat him down at the kitchen table and said 'But why did they do it? They must have had a reason. Can you think of anything?'

Hard though it was, he wisely decided to make a clean breast of it. 'Well, the other day I was pretty rotten to Susan Harris' younger sister Emily. She ran into me and hit the ground. She hurt her knee and started crying, but I just shouted at her for running into me. Anyway, the other kids didn't like it, so they set me up.'

'Oh Michael' she said wearily, 'Not again. How many times have I told you to stop being such a bully? You've got an awful reputation, and it's not as if this is the first time by any means. I've lost count of the number of times people have complained to me about this sort of thing. So you had to spend the day dressed as a girl. How did you feel? Humiliated?'

'Lousy. They've made a complete fool of me, and I found it hard not to cry. Can you imagine me crying? I'm never going to live this down, and my street cred's gone for good. Even worse, the girls have just said that if I push anyone around again they'll do something even worse. Mum, I'm scared.'

For the first time his mother sensed that at last someone had come up with an answer to her son's uncontrollable behaviour, and it hadn't been her or the teachers at his school. It had been the children themselves who had got together and dealt with him, and it seemed that they had succeeded.

'Well I don't think you need to be. It seems that all you have to do is stop bullying the smaller children and you'll be all right won't you? That seems to be what they're saying. Now let's go upstairs and get you changed, and tomorrow I'll come up to the school and talk to the headmistress. Then we'll see what we can do to find out who did this to you. All right?'

Satisfied that something was going to be done, Mike went up to his bedroom where his mother started to remove the hair ribbons and comb out his hair. 'I must say Michael' she smiled, 'You certainly do make a good looking girl. Now let's get this dress off.' Soon he had discarded the girl's school uniform, and quickly dressed himself in a shirt and jeans. Looking at himself in the mirror he breathed a sigh of relief, while his mother folded up the girl's uniform and put it in a carrier bag. 'I'll take this up to the school with me and return it tomorrow' she said, 'And by the way, do you know where your other clothes are, the ones you went to school in this morning?'

'They just told me I'll find them in my desk tomorrow.'

'Good. Then you can bring them home with you. Good thing you've got a change of uniform isn't it? I'd hate to have to send you back to school in the morning wearing a dress again.'

'Oh Mum!'

'All right, I'm only kidding. Let's go and get tea ready.'

They went downstairs again, and she prepared their evening meal. She asked him a few more questions during the evening to get a clearer idea of what had happened, and by the time Michael went to bed she was satisfied that no real harm had been done. Quite the contrary in fact. If he'd been successfully cured of his antisocial behaviour it was well worth it, she felt.

Next morning she drove Mike to school, and dropped him off to go in and join the other children. She waited for morning assembly to finish and the first morning lessons to begin. Then she went to the office, and explaining what had happened, made an appointment to see the headmaster, Mr. Markham, and Miss Jones after school that afternoon. Leaving the girl's school uniform with the school secretary, she went home.

True to their word, the girls in Mike's class hardly mentioned the previous day's events, and he knew that he was now on probation. All he had to do was control himself from then on. The day passed fairly normally, apart from the odd teasing comment, and when school finished that afternoon, Mike found his mother waiting outside in the car. 'How did it go today?' she asked.

'Oh all right I suppose. Nobody really said anything, and I certainly didn't want to talk about it. At least I've got my clothes back.' He put his other school uniform on the back seat.

'Good. Now you wait here in the car for me. I'm just going in to have a word with some of the teachers, and then we'll go into town and I'll take you out to tea. All right?'

'O.K. Mum.' She left him sitting in the car and went in to see the teachers who were waiting for her in the headmaster's study.

The meeting was surprisingly agreeable, probably because they all felt that Mike had received a well-deserved lesson in humility in a way that they themselves could not condone officially. No real harm had been done, and there was a strong possibility that his impossible behaviour had been curbed. It was therefore mutually agreed that the identification of the culprits responsible for exchanging Mike's clothes wouldn't be rigorously pursued. A request for them to own up would be made as a gesture, but nothing was expected to come of it. The whole affair would be conveniently ignored, and with any luck, Mike had turned over a new leaf.

After the meeting, and satisfied with the outcome, Mike's mother told him that enquiries would be made, but not to expect too much to come of it. It was up to him to show that he really had changed, and then all would be well. The threat of a horrendous sequel to his day of humiliation if he lapsed was incentive enough to keep him in line, and gradually he lost the urge to be his unpleasant former self anyway. As his behaviour improved he found that having friends wasn't such a bad thing after all, and by the time he left to go up to secondary school the following year, he thanked Trudy and her friends for teaching him such a salutary lesson. He was a changed boy indeed, thanks to them. Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind, don't you?






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