As the son of the Headmaster, Michael is the only one left at school after all the other boys have gone home. As he prepares for University, his father has one last surprise in store. Michael is told he will be punished again for a prank during term - for which he and the others have already been caned. His father refused to give Michael any special treatment during his time at school, but he has always had higher expectations of his own boy. Now term is over, the Head proposes to punish Michael as a man who should know better. As such, it won't be the cane again, but the instrument of judicial correction which Thomas himself endured as a boy: the birch.