Harry Manley was proud, delighted but a little unsure of himself when he was posted as student teacher at Gael's O'Glee Academy, an all-girl boarding school for the elite in Suffolk, England. Just like his uncle Joe, affectionately known as 'Little Joe', Harry suffered from British pluck and English deference. On the one hand, he tried his best to appear in control at all times ( stiff upper lip and all that ) but he was also excruciatingly obsequious and submissive to others, especially if he felt subordinate to them in class, rank or authority.
So, on his first day as P.E. instructor for the girls' field hockey team, Harry was torn between these two tendencies. He was in charge, no doubt about that. But each and every girl on the team were the daughters of some the richest families in the land and came from the upper crust of society, whereas he was impecunious in the extreme and his bred lineage could best be described as the crumbs on the floor.
Harry was, however, justly proud of one thing which he felt placed him far above the level of his young female charges; he was a man; and not just a man, but a manly man. He knew he was aptly named at birth when, as a pre-teen he had started shaving and other body hair grew on his pale English skin. Now, in his early twenties, Harry Manley had an impressive crop of hair on his legs, arms and chest, to say nothing of his armpits and groin ( being English, it would be impolite to make any such mention.) Harry Manley was proud to be hairy and manly.
On the field of play that first day, he wore ¾ length shorts displaying his hirsute calves, and a white cotton T-shirt, known in America as a wife-beater, so his manly chest was front and center as were his hairy armpits. He'd show them who's hairy and manly!
Indeed, he did get quite a few flirtatious glances from some of the older girls, the 15 and 16 year olds on the team. And the snickering he heard from the 14 year-old girls he put down to their immaturity or perhaps they were just in awe of him and giggled at their own school-girlish embarrassment. " After all," Harry mused to himself, " they were young girls and even English girls are subject to raging hormones. They obviously couldn't help themselves in the presence of a manly man such as me."
The pride, as they say, goeth before the fall.
Later that afternoon Harry was called into the Head Mistress's office for an orientation chat. Ava Megaworth was an imposing figure seated behind her Queen Anne, polished oak desk. Harry stood before her and was trying hard to hide the fact that he was trembling in fear that his earlier attire on the field had been reported and was deemed too inappropriate, perhaps even sexually provocative.
His outfit and, more importantly, his pompous and arrogant attitude to the girls had indeed been reported. Harry had talked down to these 'spoiled rich kids' as if their status and wealth didn't matter. But Ms Megaworth had no intention of broaching the subject of his impudence to this first year student teacher. Instead she planned to teach him a lesson in manners.
"Mr. Manley, please do be seated," she smiled as she waved to a short wooden chair to the side of her desk. " I understand you made quite an impression on the girls on the field today. You showed them who is boss around here and put them in their place. Good for you! After all, they are just little girls, aren't they?" Her tone was all sweetness, conviviality and collegial good will. Her hidden intent was quite different.
"Well, I like to think the standards of the Academy must be reflected in the disciplinary as well as mentoring role of the faculty." Harry was proud of his command of 'the troops' as he thought his young female charges.
"Yes, indeed," replied the Head Mistress, " and we must never forget the role of tradition in keeping that standard up. But, as this is your first term here, you would not be aware of the Gael Girls' Glory Game" Megaworth kept a pleasant smile on her face, but a wicked one lurked in her mind.
Harry just nodded his head up and down, meaning yes, he was unaware.
"Oh, you do know of the tradition?" said a bemused Head Mistress.
"Uh, no," answered Harry who was now shaking his head back and forth. " I meant yes, I didn't know."
"Well, your ignorance is apparent and not your fault as long as you make proper amends right away."
"But, excuse me," sputtered Harry, now confused and feeling out of his depth, " I still don't know what the tradition is and so..." his voice trailed off as he was unable to admit his helplessness before such a domineering and intimidating figure as Ms Megaworth.
"Of course, you don't," sighed a seemingly exasperated but patient Head Mistress. " I haven't told you yet. But I will now. The Gael Girls' Glory comes to all captains of the various sports teams when their knickers are hoisted high on the flag pole in the school's athletic field on the first day of the term. Traditionally, the coach requests the captain to remove her knickers in front of all the girls on the team to show solidarity with her team mates. When the coach is male, he is supposed to have his eyes closed or back turned for propriety's sake. But the coach must receive the dropped knickers from the captain and, in the dead of night, hoist them up the flag pole for viewing the next day during opening term ceremonies and for the rest of the term.
"Oh, dear," explained Harry who had great respect for traditions, no matter how silly. " I guess I made a right mess of things. But I didn't know. You said I could make proper amends. Just how do I do that?"
"Well," replied Megaworth with a tight smile, " You will have to sneak into Captain Mary Baud's room tonight and steal a pair of her knickers and then make your way to the sports field and hoist them up to the top of the flag pole. Just don't let the girls in the dorm catch you. You can do that, can't you? You won't let the school down, will you?"
Her tone of voice and furrowed brow left no doubt in Harry's mind: he would do what he must. She explained to him how it had to be done tonight so the knickers could proudly fly on the morrow. Harry was nervous but stirred on by Ms Megaworth's words of encouragement, he steeled himself for the task ahead.
.... There is more of this story ...