About halfway through the third term of that first year a new boy arrived at the school. Duante was from the south of the country near Lisbon and had been sent here, to Saint Bart's, because his father was going to be working abroad. Mateo, Pascoal, and Duante became good friends. Not immediately, in fact at first they resented Duante's arrival on the scene, because he was squeezed into their dorm. Six sharing suddenly became seven, with the obvious intrusion into the amount of space of their shared room. Plus Duante being new had to be shown how everything was done and that was an extra burden on the rest of them. Dormitories needed to be kept neat and tidy, there were inspections and standards to be maintained. There were also those ever present threats of discipline should the room not be found as it was deemed it should be.
It was one event, however, that brought the three boys closely together in a comradeship which would last through their school years and beyond. Neither Mateo nor his best friend Pascoal knew why the new boy had fallen foul of Father Filipe. They discussed what might have happened between themselves, but neither boy felt they wanted to ask Duante, they didn't know him that well. Mateo imagined that perhaps something had gone on with Father Filipe like it had between him and Father Thomas. There was no way he could know though and he simply decided to ignore it.
What neither boy could ignore were the repeated punishments the new boy endured at the hands of Father Filipe for the most minor misdemeanours. He had been called out in front of the class twice for nothing more than a supposed shoddy piece of work, or on the second occasion for talking in class, when he had just asked a question. It seemed Father Filipe had it in for the boy and took some sort of pleasure in smacking the boy's legs.
The worst though was still to come and the foretaste was the third classroom incident. This time Duante was guilty of talking in class and Father Filipe obviously decided to go one step further. Nobody had witnessed before what was about to befall poor Duante. In front of the whole class, when the boy thought he was going to get his legs smacked once again, Father Filipe ordered him to stand up straight and put his arms by his side. Normally, as I've recounted before, boys were made to bend over the desk. This time Father Filipe stepped in front of Duante as all eyes watched what was unfolding, but no one could actually see.
The new boy, mostly everyone still called him that, was left standing on the platform next to the teacher's desk as Father Filipe fetched the wooden chair from behind the desk and placed it centre stage. Then the father sat down. "Come here," he commanded, and Duante stepped to stand next to Father Filipe. With the whole class wondering what was about to take place, Father Filipe leant forward and in one swift move, taking hold of the top of the boy's shorts with both hands, he tugged them down to the ankles. Duante was left there with only his underpants on. There was an almost palpable gasp from the class. Father Filipe paid that no heed, but turned his attention to the boy and swiftly removed the last item of clothing. He took hold of Duante's arm and with a firm grip pulled him down and across his lap.
Duante could do nothing, he was now lying practically bare arse across the father's knees. Without further ado Father Filipe lifted the boy's shirt up and positioned Duante's arm behind his back, making sure of his firm grip. He then gave the boy a very sound spanking. He stopped briefly, warning Duante to keep still, because the boy was wriggling around. Then he continued and it seemed to Mateo that his smacks were even harder.
At the end when he let the boy stand up, he started his lecture. "Let that be a lesson for you." Duante was standing facing Father Filipe and had his back to the class, but even with all heads looking, Father Filipe's handiwork was hidden by Duante's shirt tail. "No boy in my class is beyond getting a sound spanking when he needs putting in his place. Now get dressed and be warned if there is no improvement from you, next time it will be more than just a spanking."
Everybody in the classroom tried to catch sight of Duante's bottom as he bent down to pull up his pants and shorts, and most did. Mateo and Pascoal each saw rosy pink cheeks that had been well and truly smacked. Mateo felt sorry for the boy, he always did, whoever was up there being disciplined. He knew from experience what it felt like.
That evening in the dorm, before lights out, Pascoal asked Duante what was going on with Father Filipe. "Nothings going on," he replied a little too forcefully. "He's just got it in for me." Pascoal let it drop, but talking quietly between themselves Mateo told his best friend he was sure there was more to it. He too though let things drop because he had his own secrets.
It was probably inevitable that things would not end there. Mateo had a good idea about what may really be going on. Given what had happened with Father Thomas, and all those rumours other kids talked about, he imagined that maybe Duante had not gone along with things. A dangerous choice, he thought, and that idea was only confirmed by the successive punishments. Of course, he could be wrong, what did he know?
What happened next occurred when Mateo was told by Mr Cardoso to take a file to the big house for Father Thomas. This was in the evening directly after supper. Going up the curving wooden staircase Mateo hurried along to Father Thomas's rooms and once there knocked and waited. Standing outside the door he was immediately aware of what was going on inside, he heard the all too familiar sound, the crack of the leather strap, and a muffled cry.
"Enter," the familiar voice called out. Mateo opened the door and stepped inside, not surprised at the scene that greeted him. A boy was bent over the back of one of the old armchairs, his buttocks bright red with the marks of the strap. The boy was jumping around, hoping from foot to foot, sniffling and crying, pretty much bawling like a baby. It only too well reminded Mateo of when it had been him bent over the chair.
"Ah, Master Pereira," Father Thomas smiled at Mateo. "You arrive at an opportune moment." Mateo held up the file he'd been given. "Just put that on my desk. And come back here, to help." Mateo walked around the armchair and over to the small desk, placing the file down. When he came back he looked at the boy who was still crying, if a little less strongly. He saw it was none other than Duante.
"Alright, Master Pereira, get down on the floor behind the chair and hold this boy's legs. Our young lad here keeps jumping around. Make sure you have a firm hold." That last sentence carried a hint of a warning with it. Mateo didn't hesitate, he got down as instructed and took a firm grip on Duante's ankles, holding his feet still on the floor. While doing this he couldn't help noticing that the new boy had already received three strokes of the strap and he remembered back to his own ordeal. No wonder he was bawling his eyes out. It occurred to him that if, and it was fairly likely, the punishment slip came from Father Filipe, then it probably stated, six strokes.
Mateo's contemplating was interrupted by the sound of the strap cutting through the air. He tightened his grip on Duante's ankles as the loud crack of leather against skin filled the room, followed by a scream from the boy bent over the armchair. Mateo glanced up as he felt Duante sliding down and his legs shaking and almost buckling at the knees.
Father Thomas moved next to the boy, grabbing hold of him under the arms and lifting him up, pulling him across the back of chair. Duante now had his legs completely off the floor, dangling in the air, with Mateo holding on. The boy's head was pressing down into the seat of the armchair and his body was balanced like a seesaw over the back. His buttocks were turning a deep shade of red as he shook and bawled. Father Thomas didn't wait, but swung the strap through its arc bringing it down right across the middle of that perfect target. Another loud thwack, followed by another almost whimpering cry.
Mateo held on as he heard Father Thomas raising his arm, he doubted Duante was aware of anything but intense pain. Then the swoosh through the air and the crack across the top of those now crimson cheeks. A muffled cry and as Mateo relaxed his grip a little Duante started kicking out as if wildly trying to shake off the pain coursing through his body.
"Stand up and get dressed," Father Thomas ordered impatiently. Looking at Mateo he nodded towards the boy. "Help him back to the dorm." The father left them alone, disappearing through a door into what Mateo assumed must be a bedroom. He took a hold of Duante wrapping one arm around him and walked with him to pick up his clothes. Getting the boy's underpants first, he managed to have him stand in them and pulled them up. He couldn't help looking at the boy's buttocks which were turning a dark purple in the middle. Next came the short trousers, Mateo was careful as he slide them over the boy's bottom and he left the top button undone. Finally dressed Mateo led him out of the room closing the door behind them.
"You got one hell of a beating," he spoke softly to Duante, but there was no reply other than sniffles and sobs. The boy found it difficult to walk, his bottom hurt so much. When they reached the dorm the other boys were there, messing about and joking, before getting ready for bed. They went silent when Duante and Mateo came in.
"What happened?" Pascoal asked.
Mateo helped Duante to his bed, took his blazer and hung it in the cupboard. "He got one holy strapping from Father Thomas," he said as he was doing all this.
"How many?" One boy asked.
Duante was lying on the bed on his stomach and Mateo untied and removed his shoes, then his socks. "The whole six," Mateo looked back around the room at the surprised faces. After that Mateo managed, with the help of Pascoal, to remove the boys shirt and tie, then pull off his shorts and underpants. Pascoal gulped and looked at Mateo when he saw the colour of the new boy's buttocks. Of course everyone else had to take a look, but Duante didn't seem to care, he just lay there naked sobbing into his pillow. "That's enough," Mateo told the others as he shooed them away. Again with Pascoal's help they got Duante into his pyjamas. They left him alone then, but not before Mateo had squeezed his shoulder and whispered, "I'm really sorry."
"What are you sorry for?" Pascoal asked Mateo as they sat side by side on the lower bunk.
"I had to hold his legs," Mateo spoke quietly.
"You mean..." Pascoal looked at his best friend.
He nodded, "Yeah, while Father Thomas laid into him with the strap."
At that moment Joao, there dorm prefect, opened the door. "Lights out in fifteen," he glanced around the room.
After that day several things changed.