“Speak up boy!”

The voice thundered and reverberated in my bowed head.
Whoosh! The long drawn out swishing sound of the cane as she tested it filled my fear crazed mind with if possible, even more terror.

That warm wet feeling on my leg and the growing evidence of the spreading puddle at my feet told its own familiar tale.

Familiar when I faced “Sister”. Something to do with a weak bladder, I once overheard my mother explain to a neighbour.

Silently and continuously my prayers rose to “Our Lady” to save me from this terror. Once more “Sister” grabbed my arm impatiently and forcibly shook me.

“Speak, boy speak!”

Speak, I could not. Terror gagged my tongue. Words, I could had not. Mortal terror and mortal shame were my only companions.

Silently “Our Lady” intervened. Yet even as I slid down into that enveloping darkness, that voice pursued me.

“Speak boy, speak!”

When I awoke I found I was lying on the black leather settee in the teachers common room. My short patched trousers hung over the back of a wooden railed chair facing a small bright fire. My trousers were still steaming, and suddenly I realised that I was covered by a rough grey hairy blanket.

My shame burned at the thought of someone undressing me.

Thirteen years of age and probably a woman had removed them. Slowly and fearfully I rose, and furtively dressed myself.

I took a quick peep out of the door and saw that the way out was clear. I escaped.

I escaped yet even as I ran, my heart was bursting with gratitude as I remembered to thank “Our Lady”.

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