Tuesday, October 7, 2014

From the Top Shelf - Guns and Beaters

This is a delightful story of English rural customs, written by John Undermeyer in the form of a diary, and published in Janus magazine nearly two decades ago. Even the title makes me shiver!

Sunday August 5th

To Inglewood for the summer, where grouse shooting will soon begin. Uncle Silas is here from London, where he's left his mistress and his good humour! Spinster Edith, his sister, still frightens me. Cousin Rachel is still cramming for exams. The servants are harassed which makes them sullen. Only my cousin Penelope greets me with unabashed happiness. Since many guests will come for the shoot she asks if I mind sharing a bedroom. Au contraire - I am delighted.

Monday August 6th

Have settled in and met everyone. Now, dear diary, a secret! Undressing for bed, I paused to admire Penelope whose body is as lovely as her sweet nature. Imagine my surprise, then, when I saw her bottom. Across her pale curves are raspberry-red weals, most laid alongside each other, but some criss-crossing, a few with raised edges which must hurt when rubbed by her chemise. A shiver ran through me, for both cheeks are afflicted, either by a cane or - if anybody is cruel enough to wield such a thing - maybe even a horse crop.

So surprised was I, and so quickly did Penny drop her nightdress over herself, that for the moment I did not trust my eyes. I took care to continue our talk as if nothing was amiss but spent an uneasy night, the sight of her marks returning often as I lay, eyes closed but mind wide awake. I must pluck up courage to ask how they came about.

Tuesday August 7th

A busy day and late dinner. Afterwards, charades, then early to bed. Penelope and I are close, so I came easily to the subject which troubled me. I put my arm around her and whispered,

"Penny, my dear, may I ask you a question?"

"Of course, you silly thing. We share everything, don't we?"

"Dearest, I do not mean to pry. But I could not help but notice your marks...you have been whipped sorely. Who did such a thing?"

There was silence. Penny's head dropped and I thought for a moment there would be tears, but she only sighed and said, "I'm sorry...I thought to keep them secret, but they are such bitter stripes."

"Do not apologise. I'm sure you did not deserve them."

"Oh but I did. Not so many perhaps, and not so hard, but I was to blame."

"Do you want to tell?" I asked.

Penny turned, took my hands, and we sat on the bed. She did not seem to mind sitting on the hard mattress, though it cannot have been painless. She began her story.

"As you know, Rachel is to take exams. She hates cramming, especially in the holidays, and her tutor, Dr. McIver, complained about her work. He said Rachel was lazy and not progressing as she should. Well you know Aunt Edith - she is adamant Rachel must gain entrance to St. Bride's College, and took it upon herself to tell McIver to take 'necessary steps'."

Penny's emphasis on the phrase told me the tutor was being told to be strict, and knowing Edith, that surely meant the cane.

"It was about eleven in the morning", Penny continued. "I was passing McIver's study when I heard angry voices. I paused, and could hear the Doctor berate Rachel for her slovenliness. He lectured her for a while, with me listening hard at the door I confess, then told her to bend over the desk. A funny thrill ran through my tummy. I should have walked away but, fool that I am, I stayed. McIver began to cane, Rachel was yelling, and suddenly Aunt Edith was there gripping me by the ear and pulling me away from the door. She was furious!.

" 'Wretched, snooping girl! How dare you eavesdrop! If you're so interested in discipline, you shall taste some!' Then she burst into the study and told McIver that when he had finished with Rachel he had another naughty girl to cane!"

It appears that Rachel was dismissed, and Penny told to strip. She was pushed towards a desk where Edith grabbed her hands and pulled her arms almost out of their sockets. When Penny lay flat, her breasts pressed into the desk-top, my aunt shoved a firm hand into the small of her back, to tilt her buttocks upwards. Finally Edith said; "There, McIver - ready. A second culprit to chasten!"

"Whatever your ladyship decrees," replied the unctuous teacher.

"Ask Doctor McIver to cane you, Penelope. And don't forget to explain to him why!"

"Forgive me, Dr. McIver. I listened at the door while Rachel was being punished. It was a contemptible thing to do, and I deserve to be admonished."

"Admonished? Thrashed, my girl!" interrupted Edith, angrily. "You deserve to be thrashed!"

"Yes," said Penny humbly. And then to McIver; "Please do as my aunt says."

McIver, apparently delighted at having a second young woman to whip, and keen to ingratiate himself, set to with a will, the spinster Edith urging him not to take pity but to make Penny as sorry as she could be. She wept bitterly but still the cane cut her flesh until, with every new stripe, she screamed and danced in pain. McIver did not stop until Edith said he could, and by then Penny had counted ten strokes laid on hard.

When she was done, I asked her to show me her stripes. She lay sideways on the eiderdown and I moved her chemise to see more closely the tutor's handiwork, hoping the passing of time had brought some healing, but there was very little. Across the perfect white field of her buttocks, ten rows of raised and raspberry coloured furrows stood proud.

Wednesday August 8th

Lunch today was an unhappy affair. We were all at table; Silas, Edith, Rachel, Penny and myself, and at first the talk was innocuous. Uncle is pleased that Barnaby Flint, the head keeper, has raised so many grouse. The dogs are fit. The beaters have been hired. There was a brief silence while we ate, then for no apparent reason, Edith raised her voice and cut into the conversation like a knife:

"I am sure there is nothing more conducive to good behaviour in a young woman, than a well-flogged bottom. It repairs her attitude to her lessons, and ensures respect and consideration in her dealings with her guardians."

We froze, exchanged glances and hung our heads too, too unsettled to respond and not wishing to give Aunt Edith an excuse to punish us.

At that point Rachel burst into tears and ran weeping from the room.

I had thought, until that moment, that I was the only one to notice how, when Rachel arrived to eat with us, she had drawn up her chair slowly, and settled on the seat as though reluctant to sit at all. But Edith too had noticed Rachel's distress and concluded, like myself, that McIver had given her another 'dusting down'. Edith showed not the least surprise or regret at Rachel's distress but simply observed, with a wry smile to Uncle Silas;

"You did well to recruit Dr. McIver. He has such a clear understanding of the need for discipline and an uncommon skill with the cane. I am sure, with his continued earnest attentions, Rachel will pass her examinations."

My aunt then turned to Penny and indicated at me.

"Perhaps you two will care to ride this afternoon?"

It was a cruel suggestion, for she knew Penny could not bear to sit astride a saddle while her own seat remained wealed and painful. I had to say something to help Penny out of this situation, so said with an apologetic smile, "Dearest Aunt, riding is such a lovely idea...but I'm afraid that in my current delicate woman's condition..."

I let the words fade away, casting a shy glance at my Uncle Silas.

Edith took my meaning and said nothing but I saw the deep anger flash in her eyes. I have been reflecting on this conversation and I am sure the picture of a thrashed girl's bottom adds relish to Edith's meals. I hope she has no such ideas about me!

Friday August 10th

Undressing tonight Penny enquired how the welts looked on her pretty rear-cheeks. They are much improved to the point where they would not be noticed by one who did not know what had taken place. I took a mirror and held it so she could see, quick to assure her that her skin grows smooth again.

Saturday August 11th

To the butterfly pool with costumes and towels. The sun, hot even for August, made us hurry to undress and we did not bother with costumes but plunged in to the cool water naked. Later, we lay bare in the flower-dotted grass and rested.

Returning, we met Barnaby Flint who doffed his cap and, with an unpleasant leer, murmured how glad he was to see us 'enjoying' the Estate. He means trouble and we both trembled in a terrible funk - had he seen us at the pool?

After dinner our worst fears were confirmed. Flint had betrayed us and Edith confronted us with our nude bathing. She told us grimly that nothing would happen today for McIver was off the estate, but he will be back late tonight and tomorrow we must report to his study at eleven o' clock. Edith glared at us both and said, "Penelope, if you think your last punishment was bad, it is nothing compared to what you will get in the morning!"

Sunday August 12th

McIver made it an ordeal neither of us will ever forget.
I was amazed that our distress could not be heard but our cries were hidden by the roar and crash of guns as the shooting party peppered the grouse.

But McIver was a gun. His eye fastened on our bottoms as he took aim, whipping the stick down pulled the trigger and the cane-cut caused the explosion - there is no other word for it - which engulfed my bottom in fire. He caned as freely and as careless of the effect as the guns who shot the grouse, quite unconcerned by my howls, twists to escape and tears which splashed onto the desk-top.

When he had given me six strokes, he stopped and signalled Penny - who until that time he had made to stand at the far side of the desk, grasping my wrists and pulling me tight - to release me and let me stand. I could scarcely do so but he caught me by the arm, walked me to where Penny stood then took her to my place, bending her ready to be thrashed.

Now I had to hold her arms and the fuselage of shots started over again, this time on Penny's bottom which still showed signs of his last punishment and therefore made the strokes she received even more painful than mine. I cannot describe her contortions, they were almost as frantic as he flogged, but he cut so quickly that it seemed like no time at all before six more dreadful lines were seared across my cousin's so tender buttocks.

If relief can come at such a time then I felt such a pang, believing once he had given us each six strokes that would be the matter done. Imagine my horror then, when he ordered Penny to get up and moved her back into my position, taking me to his side of the desk. I prayed it was over and there would be no more caning - but, incredibly, I was wrong. For he pushed my face to the desk-top, made my bottom-skin stretch into the bent position and told Penny to hold my wrists again.

I begged him to spare me and looked with my tear-streaked face straight into his eyes, pleading for him to relent. But he whipped in hard, the explosion came and I was lost to all hope, howling as he sought out those parts of my bottom which had not yet been marked, then filled the whiteness with strawberry lines.

I protested in every way I could. My shrieks he ignored, my pain was nothing, my pleading when I could control myself enough to plead was dismissed out of hand.

When he had given me a second six, he paused so I could absorb his work, leaving me for a few moments, my hands locked in Penny's, who stood terrified knowing that six more were due to her. The guns outside barked and I had a grotesque vision of grouse climbing to escape, blasted through the air, spinning to earth. I felt like one of those devastated creatures as I bucked and reared, legs almost giving way, body ready to slip to the floor.

I had scant time to reflect. McIver made us change places again, and I caught Penny's desperate look as I grasped her wrists and pulled to keep her stretched. She struggled against me so much I feared McIver might give her a third set of six. He had no cause to restrain his hand for our shame had been broadcast all over the estate. We were drenched in ignominy and were not so shameless as to deny we had agreed, and deserved, to be caned.

Twelve each was the end of it, after which we were sent to opposite corners of the room. McIver sat, began to write, and went on for fifteen minutes until the door opened. I dared not look but I knew who it must be - only Aunt Edith would enter without so much as a knock.

At once McIver rose from his desk and moved to greet her.

"Good morning, my Lady. As you can see..." he waved a hand towards we two girls who were crying piteously, "...the miscreants have been dealt with."

"Stop that damned noise, both of you!" stormed our Aunt, "or you'll be given something to howl about!" Then addressing the doctor directly, she demanded;

"The cane. Where do you keep it?"

Instantly the damned man had it in his hand and passed it to her. She walked across to Penny, tapping it menacingly in her palm, and pushed my cousin until she was again bent over, the easier to study her bottom. She examined the fresh weals and I can well imagine that grim smile which flickered either side of her mouth. I heard Penny squeal - she told me later that Edith had prodded one of her stripes - and she bubbled a stream of apologies in case the woman ordered more punishment. Then the harsh spinster turned and bent me. Sobs were breaking from me and, since I was not so marked as my cousin I really feared I might taste the stick again.

Edith browsed for a moment then pulled us both to the centre of the room to stand back to back either side of her . She lifted our fallen skirts, first comparing Penny's marks, then mine, noting how the cane had fallen, how much of our bottoms had been covered in stripes, how many stroke marks were on our thighs, wondering if there were any more places left to redden. I trusted there were not for she had only to nod then pass the cane across and McIver would begin afresh. For an age we waited until she finally spoke.

"They are well marked, McIver. But is it enough? Have we beaten the naughtiness out of them? Or is more pain needed to ensure they reform?"

"Please Ma'am," I whimpered, "I will reform...I am truly sorry," Edith merely snorted.

"Oh Aunt Edith, please take pity..." Penny's desperate plea was strangled by tears and she prayed her trembling bottom-cheeks would speak for her. Edith tapped the cane steadily.

"I am not impressed," she snapped. "I know my own father would have insisted on a second round. McIver, what do you think?"

He answered in an ingratiating voice, "I am never one for leniency, your Ladyship. And caning is the best way to enforce moral standards. I believe they have learned their lesson." We were ordered to our room.

I have written this standing up, and even that was hard; it took me much of the day to stop crying. I have never suffered such severe punishment, the cane lashing into my naked flesh time after time. But once I had begun to recover, I felt a warm pleasure that nearly overcame the pain in my tormented bottom. Would it happen again?

From Hermione's Heart


Blondie said...

That is probably how I would have been too. Curious, experienced, and then a little moist when thinking about it

Autumn said...

Edith sounds like a mean old b*tch. I think McIver should bend her over the desk next!

Roz said...

Aunt Edith does sound like an evil witch. I'm with Autumn! Great story Hermoine, thanks for sharing :)


Hermione said...

Blondie - I would have reacted exactly the same way too.

Autumn - She certainly deserved a taste of her own medicine.

Roz - I'm glad you enjoyed it.


ronnie said...

Delightful story Hermione.

I was a little surprise that McIver didn't agree with Aunt Edith as I'm sure he would have been more than happy to apply the cane gain.

Thanks for sharing.


Enzo said...

Wow - Quite the story!
I was happily surprised by the unique narrative style.
Enjoyed this very much. Could easily picture it all.
Thanks Hermione.

Cat said...

Dang...just reading about the canings makes my tushie hurt! I do believe that tattletale Barnaby Flint and nasty Aunt Edith are the ones who deserve the canings. Thanks for sharing Hermione.

Hugs and Blessings...

Hermione said...

Ronnie - I think she would have liked it too.

Enzo - I enjoyed the diary style too.

Cat - The canings seemed quite brutal in the telling. I agree, Edith needs one badly.


Michael M said...

Great story thanks for finding it. Janus managed to get right to the heart of the tale in very few words.
Those were the days, magazine in one hand, etc etc.

Hermione said...

Michael - I catch your drift :)