Woody Woodpecker #070
3 hours ago
All of us at Cane-Iac want to remind you to take special care of your implements / toys in the heat and humidity. Keep your Rattan Canes out of direct sunlight and if possible, laying flat. Be sure to wipe off your wooden paddles and acrylic canes & paddles after use to remove any moisture. Special care should be given to leather straps and floggers, dry off any wetness and let them hang to dry but not in direct sunlight. Just remember warm temperatures and humidity are not your tool's friend.
The joyous pealing of the distant church bells could be clearly heard from the nursery as the cousins were dressed in their Sunday best. Yet the sound failed to cheer Amelia. For one thing, the corsets had arrived from Mademoiselle Isobel's on the previous day, and Betsy was lacing her into the stays with a relish matched only by the nursery-maid's considerable strength.That's all for today, I'm afraid. You will have to wait until next week for the birchings. But waiting makes the experience all the more exhilirating.
"Ooof...ahh...please, Betsy, it's like a vice already...Oooh." Amelia hung onto the bedstead for dear life, as the maid hauled at the laces with all her might.
Clara, already laced into her own white waspie, stood watching, looking startled and breathing carefully, to one side. All she wore was the corset and and the usual silk stockings, this time supported by the new suspender drops with which the stays had come equipped. Thus, the white lace trim of the corset, the suspender straps and the silk stocking-tops provided the most delightful frame for the blonde girl's bottom.
Unfortunately, Amelia had no leisure to enjoy this prospect. Betsy placed a plump knee in the small of her back, to get even more purchase, and both girls grunted as the laces were forced tighter, and then tighter still.
When, a little later, they joined the rest of the Hope Hall household in the courtyard, Amelia felt no happier about the day. The collected maids all gloried in their full uniforms for once, hoisting long skirts out of the mire under Mrs Pritchard's disdainful gaze. They did not even have to undergo the humiliation of wearing collars. In contrast, once again, Amelia and Clara had been given the absurd smocks to wear.
All of which would have been sufficient to explain her distracted expression during the hymns, and the way she stared stonily at the back of Mrs Justice Ormorund in the pew in front of her during the service. But there was worse.
The Reverend Dawes had chosen a favourite line from Proverbs as the inspiration for his sermon.
"There is a rod in pickle for the arrogant, and stripes prepared for the backs of fools," he snarled, with barely disguised relish. It was not an especially cheerful text and, glancing furtively around the church, Amelia noticed that a few female cheeks had paled, and she observed several slender hands tremble on their hymnals as the rector of Hatherby expounded on the theme. "A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool's back!" the rector exhorted from the pulpit, cracking his hand against the oaken structure as he did so, producing retorts that echoed around the church and provoked visible flinching among certain of the more comely members of the congregation.
"Arrogance, disobedience, wilfulness, all are forms of foolishness, and all may be mitigated by the application of a firm corrective rod!" he boomed as Amelia hung her head, horribly aware that half the church was now following the preacher's lead and staring at her.
"There is a rod in pickle for the arrogant," the Reverend repeated in stentorian tones, once the commotion had ceased, "and I think we may safely predict that it will not be steeping there for much longer!"
A knowing chuckle rippled around the church. Amelia stared miserably at her silk-sheathed knees and tried not to think about what he meant.
* * *
The walk back from the church was no more cheering. Amelia and Clara, together with all the Hope Hall maids, walked back solemn-faced and subdued. Lord and Lady Alex, Jamie and Mrs Pritchard, on the other hand, were positively animated and jolly. They swapped witticisms and pleasantries, and affected puzzlement when Amelia did not join in the general jollity.
She was dreading the famous Sunday Service. All Amelia's recent experience had not inured her to public humiliation, and she knew that many of the Whippery seats were bound to be filled that afternoon. Also, she was truly frightened of the birch. She had only had it once before, and that had been a light switching at school. Light or not, she remembered the experience with terror. The thought of a more severe birching made her feel faint.
"What - what is the birch like, Amelia?" Clara asked with frightened eyes, as they waited in the nursery parlour to be summoned.
The cousins had been left with the nursery-maid after a cheerless luncheon of bread and water shared with a subdued and ashen-faced Betsy. Jamie had left the girls to their crust repast and gone down to the dining room for cold pheasant and claret.
"What's it like?" Betsy looked as if she was about to cry. "Two words for a proper birching, girl. Just two words: red hell." She put a knuckle in her mouth and started chewing it.
"What are you worried about anyway?" Amelia demanded of her cousin, crossly. "You did not even get one black mark in the book!"
"Jamie - Master Jamie, said he would mark me down so that I got a dozen anyway." Clara's voice had died almost to a whisper. "On general pr-pr-principle. He said that I ought to know..."
"A lot that little swine knows about principles," Amelia hissed. Both Betsy and Clara stiffened as she spoke and she suddenly felt afraid. What if these sycophantic creatures reported what she had said? Could she trust them to keep quiet? No, of course not. Betsy disliked her and loved nothing more than to see her betters thrashed. And Clara? She seemed to think Jamie was some sort of demi-god!
So Amelia held her tongue and tried not to listen as Betsy expounded on the terrors of the birch.
"Next to the tawse, I think the birch is the worst. A heavy cane, see, after a dozen or so hard strokes, it dulls the nerves a little. The birch, though, that is a surface-scourer. It doesn't bruise, you see. There is no weight to it and the nerves never get stunned or numbed. But, oh Lord, how it scours your skin! There does not seem to be a peak of pain after the first dozen , or the second. It just -" her voice had become very quiet, no more than a hoarse little whisper, "- it just gets worse and worse and worse."
The glum trio was interrupted at that point by the arrival of Mrs Pritchard. The housekeeper regarded the three of them with smug satisfaction.
"Right, Amelia and Clara, come with me. Betsy, time to put on your flogging smock. Then you can join us in the Rod Room. Quick as you can. Come along, you two, there is a little job for you to do."
Soon, Amelia and Clara found themselves following Mrs Pritchard down the long corridor, now familiar to them. Amelia felt the churning knot in her stomach grow tighter with every step. Her legs seemed to have grown inordinately heavy. It was almost as if there was a force, some malevolent radiation, pushing her back. She was compelled to walk forward to her fate, but a growing sense of dread made it ever more difficult to progress along that doleful passage. Mrs Pritchard seemed to have no such problems, however. She fairly skipped along.
"Not like the old days, but with you two and the new kitchen-maid it will be a decent Sunday Service for a change. The last few weeks, there has barely been a brace of bottoms to be blistered." The woman's lips curled contemptuously; she clearly felt that the very idea of such thin pickings was an insult to the traditions of the house. "Some may call me old-fashioned, but I say there should always be a line of girls ready, all nice and shivery, for the rod!"
Amelia had assumed that they would march right up to the Whippery, but Mrs Pritchard paused halfway down the frieze-lined corridor. Selecting a key from her collection, she unlocked a dark oaken door and threw it open.
Amelia felt her knees weaken. So this was where Betsy had brought the birches they had cut on their retirn to Hope Hall. There was the pile of twigs, their leaves curled and shrivelled now, stacked up to one side. It was not that so much that made her heart hammer in her breast, however.
The Rod Room was big, no mean ante-chamber but a long hall lit by a row of windows set in the far wall. First Amelia's attention was drawn to the canes. There were dozens of them, arranged on racks hanging from the walls. No, she realised as she noticed the half barrels stuffed with rods and the coils of uncut rattan hanging from hooks, more like hundreds. The room smelt odd, of linseed mixed with green wood and something that might have been the tang of vinegar. Something told Amelia that, from that moment on, this pungent mixture would always represent the true smell of fear.
"Now, girls, this should have been done already, so you had better get busy. Take those branches - " Mrs Pritchard indicated the pile of recently cut birch " - and start stripping off the leaves. If you have not done sufficient on my return, you may rest assured that you will have another black mark entered in the big book." The housekeeper favoured them with a cold smile. "Yes, there is still time, just!" She indicated some small three-legged stools. "Sit down there and get on with your task." She looked around the grim chamber with evident satisfaction, then took a deep breath, as if drinking in the gloomy atmosphere, and turned on her heel.
Amelia did not want any more marks in the black book. She had been sent to inscribe the black cross by her name on the previous day. The journey, alone down the long corridor, had seemed even worse than Mrs Pritchard's irksome company. Somehow, she had done as she had been told, pausing at the entries, looking at the marks inscribed by the various maids. It had been some small crumb of comfort to see that other girls, and Betsy in particular, had black crosses stalking their names. Some comfort but, alas, not enough.
The Honourable Amelia Colinbrooke was thoroughly frightened now. The whole day might have been designed to force her to dwell on her impending fate. How much would it hurt? She tried to remember the birching at school as she stripped the leaves away. Then she tried not to remember; to think about something else, a task nigh on impossible in this place.
"What an awful lot of canes," Clara said in a small voice. "What do you think are in all those barrels, Amelia?"
"How should I know?" Amelia snapped. "Nothing good in this damn place, I'll warrant." She had wondered about the rows of big barrels herself. If it was wine or beer, the vinegary smell did not bode well for the palatibility of the contents. She shrugged and picked up another leafy bough to strip.
The cousins had not finished their work when Amelia heard a commotion at the door, for they had cut a good load of birch branches on that sunny afternoon. She looked down anxiously at the prepared twigs which lay denuded at her feet, and wondered if it would be adjudged enough. Fortunately, Mrs Pritchard seemed satisfied, more concerned with issuing fresh orders than inspecting the cousins' work. For the maids had arrived with her and Mrs Pritchard lost no time in issuing them their instructions.
"Kitty, Lucy, Betsy, you will show these new girls how to prepare their rods before braiding your own. Emma, as you have not yet been to the groves, you will take some of the young ladies switches. I am sure they will not begrudge you a few twigs! Make haste, girls, for I shall be back in half an hour to take you through."
Amelia looked up from her withe in time to see the housekeeper's black receding back as she swept out of the room. She turned her attention to the new arrivals and her eyes widened in surprise. In place of their usual uniforms, the maids were wearing short white smocks, similar to her own.
"What are those garments?" she asked, without disguising her astonishment.
"What a question, coming from such a fashionable young lady!" Kitty, the blonde maid, retorted sharply.
"She only asked." The brunette girl, Lucy, seemed less hostile. "These," she fingered the hem of her little gown, the hint of a blush on her pretty cheek, "these are our flogging frocks. Have you never seen them before?"
Amelia shook her head and Lucy smiled wanly in reply.
"Emma," she instructed, "come over here."
The small girl blushed much more obviously, but did as she was bid. Amelia stared. The smock was clearly fine cotton, rather than silk, and it was a little longer than the cousins' garments, falling to about halfway down the girl's slender thighs. She also wore black silk stockings, gartered just above the knee, and a band of bare flesh was thus left visible, despite the longer hemline. If the other maids were used to this degree of exposure, Emma clearly was not, and she hung her head and fingered the hem of the garment distractedly.
"They are very practical, you see," Lucy favoured Amelia with a bleak little smile. "Turn around, Emma."
The kitchen-maid did as she was told and Amelia watched intently. The flogging frock opened at the back and was secured by three pink ribbons, one at the neckline, one in the middle, and one along the hem. Each of these had been secured with pretty bows. Lucy pulled the bottom ribbon and undid the bow, then did the same to the middle tie.
"Bend over, girl," she ordered. Emma glanced around anxiously, but obeyed, and Amelia understood how clever the little frocks were. Secured at the back now only by the top ribbon, the garment fell away to either side as the girl bent over.
Emma wore no drawers. The welts had gone from her chubby little bottom, and it was proffered invitingly by her posture. Despite her situation, Amelia could not help but smile at so inviting a sight. As the flogging smock had fallen away, it had revealed a tight little waspie of black satin and lace. Lucy patted the straining laces of the stays ruefully.
"And this is a flogging corset. Short, you see." She indicated the expanse of bare flesh which the girl's clothes and posture had exposed, from the small of her back to just above the knee. "So as to allow the greatest target area." She gave Emma's bottom a sharp slap, and the girl squeaked in response. "All right, we had better get you done up, and get on with the task in hand."
Preparing a birch rod, Amelia had thought, was a simple matter. One lashes the bases of several limbs together with cord to form a handle, and then, if necessary, secures the twigs in the middle of the rod to prevent too much splaying. At least, that was how Amelia had been taught at finishing school.
"No-no - that won't do. You must make a neater job than that, or you will get another dozen, if not two!"
Lucy sighed in exasperation. Kitty had deigned to instruct Clara and Betsy had taken little Emma in hand, but it was Amelia who was posing the biggest headaches.
"For heaven's sake, what does it matter?" she snapped. "It won't hurt a jot more or less if the handle is braided prettily or not!"
Lucy untied the pale blue ribbon from the handle of the rod.
"The procedure is traditional," she said patiently, as if explaining to an obstinate child. "It is the Hope Hall way."
"Oh, let her do it her own way!" put in Kitty sourly. "I'd like to see the stuck-up little madam catch an extra couple of dozen for poor rod preparation. Then she'll be singing a different song, all right!! Teach her some respect for tradition. It really is not that difficult, Amelia. Your cousin seems to have picked it up easily enough."
Amelia shot the pair a furious glance, thinking how much she detested blondes, before trying to braid the ribbon in the prescribed manner once again.
"We had better get our own rods out," Betsy mumbled. The nursery-maid had been very quiet since entering the room - very quiet and distinctly pale. Amelia watched as Betsy, Kitty and Lucy walked over to the rows of barrels. Removing the tops of the casks, the maids each removed half a dozen dripping birch rods, laying them in long white enamel trays. These they brought back to the little ring of stools. Using cloths to dry the ends, they set busily to work, braiding ribbons about the handles.
Amelia watched, aghast. There was something worse about these damp, dark withies, that had been steeping silently for who knew how long, in their barrels of vinegar and brine. Something appallingly incongruous about the pretty ribbons in their bright colours against the dark forbidding red of the birch twigs. The maids' fingers worked nimbly, braiding and plaiting with such skill that could have come only from much doleful practice in that oppressive chamber. The very thought of it made Amelia shiver. She bit her lip and tried to braid her own handle once again.
Time seemed to slow to a crawl as Amelia watched the Reverend Dawes turn towards the lingerie department and his eyes locked on hers.Reverend D is so naughty!
"I say, Jamie! Good day to you, sir. A corset fitting, is it? Very good. That's the impertinent child, Amelia, is it not?"
"That's right, Reverend! We will fit her with bloomers next."
The laughter of the male voices was joined by Mademoiselle Isobel's high peal. Chewing wormwood would not have been more bitter to Amelia.
"Reverend Dawes, the drawers you ordered are ready," the corsetier said as Amelia took the tape in trembling fingers and held it to the buckle of the belt. "Monique, run and model a pair for the Reverend."
"Me, madame? But -"
"No buts, Monique. Yvette and Eloise are busy. Run along, girl, as quick as you can."
Amelia heard the woman sigh as she felt the tape tugged tight.
"I spoil my girls, messieurs, and you see the result? I expect you wish to test the garment thoroughly, Reverend? It might help to dissuade Monique from giving herself such airs!"
* * *
The party had traipsed back to the lingerie section of the shop, where Mademoiselle Isobel took coffee with the gentlemen. Monique seemed to have been gone an age and Amelia wondered what could have taken her so long. The shop-girl's reluctance to model the Reverend's order had been obvious, and Amelia wondered if the girl might have stolen out of the emporium and run away.
Such speculation was curtailed by the arrival of the young lady in question. Monique still wore her dark brown hair in an elegant coif but, instead of a fashionable, full-length dress, she now wore only a lace-trimmed sleeveless white, cotton shift, the hem of which just covered her knees. The girl's anxiety was palpable, her reluctance to approach the company plain. Yet there was something odd about her gait apart from this.
"Ah, there you are, Monique. Yvette! Trot along and fetch a number 3 cane for the Reverend - oh yes, and a bucket of water and a sponge. Run along, tout de suite! Now, Monique, but you are not modelling chemises today, ma petite. Come along now! Off with it. I am sure the Reverend is eager to see what we have done with his designs."
If the girl had seemed unwilling to approach, she pulled the shift off, over her head, with even more obvious reluctance. Her expression was solemn, even dignified, and only the barest hint of a blush showed around her cheekbones, but Amelia saw her fingers tremble as she folded the garment to place it neatly on the wooden platform.
Despite herself, Amelia stared in astonishment. Monique wore a white coutil corset equipped with lace-trimmed cups to support her full breasts. However, it was the shop assistant's lower body that compelled Amelia's attention. The cotton drawers appeared to grip the girl in an even fiercer constraint.
"Ah, yes, I thought I had better order some flogging drawers for the attendees on my course. For the sake of propriety, you know. After all, it is not considered decent for single gentlemen to beat nubile young females on their bare bottoms!" The Reverend chuckled to himself, although Amelia could not see what was so amusing, nor what relationship her own treatment had to the propriety of which he claimed to be concerned. Still, she reasoned that she was in enough difficulty already, so she kept her observations to herself.
"You see, they are fashioned in two pieces, a front half and a rear, with leather strips serving to reinforce the seams at either side."
Amelia could see. The drawers had legs about half the length of the girl's thigh, leaving just an inch or two of bare flesh between the end of the drawers and the tops of Monique's black stockings. From the bottom of the leg to the waistband, thick leather strips ran, equipped with metal eyelets, much like one might find on the lacing of a corset. Laces connected the front and back panels on both of Monique's flanks, and it was clear that these had been used to adjust the drawers until they were astonishingly tight.
"Face front, girl!" the Reverend ordered gruffly, taking the three foot length of yellow cane from Yvette, who arrived hurriedly back.
The force of the lacing had pulled the thin cotton of the front panel so tightly over Monique's quim that a fold of the material had disappeared between her legs, and the girl's dark pubic curls could plainly be seen, flattened by the thin fabric. Amelia blinked twice at the sight, not surprised to note that Monique's pretty brown eyes were watering and her bottom lip was quivering as she stood stiffly to attention. The Reverend leaned forward and prodded the girl's quim gently with the tip of his rod, provoking a terrified little squeak.
"You see, Jamie, with these, the girl's state of mind may be monitored, yet no nakedness is entailed, so even the most prurient-minded could scarcely claim any impropriety." He continued prodding for a few moments and Monique moaned again.
"Hold your tongue, girl!" Mademoiselle Isobel said sharply. "I expect the Reverend will give you something to groan about, presently!"
"All right, turn and bend over. Place your hands on the platform there," the Reverend Dawes ordered in a slightly strangled tone. Monique obeyed, and Amelia caught her breath at the sight the girl displayed. She had a full bottom, and she might as well have been naked for the extent to which the flogging drawers disguised the charm of her behind. She bent, corset creaking in protest, shapely legs straight, and as she bent the drawers appeared to tighten even more, though that seemed scarcely possible.
"What is that material, cotton?" Jamie put in, his voice slightly hoarse as well.
"The finest cambric. Usually we use it for ladies pocket handkerchiefs, " Mademoiselle Isobel said.
"That's why we need the leather strips," the Reverend Dawes explained enthusiastically. "The front and back panels are so fine, and the stress on them so great, I expect quite a few to rip through wear and tear and..."
He unleashed a yellow blur and the white-sheathed bottom quivered with the impact. The thwacking sound as the cane bit home made Amelia's own belly tense in sympathy. Monique's legs bowed slightly for a second and then straightened up again, but an "Ohhhhhh!" bore witness to the ferocity of the stroke.
"The idea is," the Reverend continued, conversationally, as he lined up the next lash," that the lacing strips can be re-used. When the panels split or rip, they can be replaced. A tedious job, perhaps..."
He struck again. Amelia saw no more than a yellow flicker, the cane cut through the air so fast, but she heard the crack across Monique's bottom and saw the buttocks quiver with the impact. This time the shop-girl could not stop a squeal and she stamped three times with her high-heeled shoes before managing to straighten up into the prescribed position once again.
"....But not a skilled one. Mademoiselle can provide the panels, fashioned to the contours of the miscreants, and the girls who split their drawers will be employed sewing in new ones."
He struck again. This time the cane whipped across the girl's thighs and a strange whinnying sound was forced out of her mouth. Monique stamped her feet and wiggled her bottom desperately, and she had to be spoken to sharply by Mademoiselle before she would straighten her legs and assume the proper position again.
"A most ingenious arrangement," Jamie murmured with admiration. "Still, this pair has not split yet."
The Reverend turned and smiled, flexing the cane between big powerful hands. "Quite right," he said. "They seem to be standing up well, so far. Silk would be stronger, but I was hoping to keep to cotton, both for reasons of economy and because I do not want my girls giving themselves airs."
At this he looked straight at Amelia and she hurriedly lowered her eyes. The effect of this was that her gaze fell on her jutting breasts and the nipples that were sticking out, visible against the thin silk, as they seemed to do distressingly frequently. You can keep your silk, she thought mutinously. But she hardly breathed until the Reverend's attention turned back to the trembling Monique.
"However," the Reverend Dawes said with a dramatic flourish, "there is another test yet. You, girl, give me the sponge."
The material constraining Monique's bottom and thighs was so thin, and so taut, that Amelia could already clearly see the welts that the Reverend's cane had raised on the girl's hindquarters, lines of pink glowing through the snow white material. Monique gasped as the man applied the soaking sponge, thoroughly wetting the whole target area. Then she started whimpering strangely.
"Is it shrinking?" Jamie asked in awe.
"A little bit. I don't think these can get much tighter really," Mademoiselle chuckled.
What was not in question was that wetting the cotton made it more transparent. The welts showed through lividly now, and Amelia licked her lips. The now wet gusset revealed every detail of Monique's quim.
The Reverend stepped back and placed the cane across the moist material sheathing the fullest part of Monique's bottom. The shop-girl gave a little wail of fear and Amelia watched the plump cheeks clench in anticipation.
"Relax them, girl. I'll have no clenching - relax them."
Somehow, Monique managed to comply and, without more ado, the Reverend lashed the proffered bottom once again. There was a subtly different sound as the cane impacted on bottom-cheeks constrained in wet cotton, and another shriek from Monique's lips. This time she stood up and clutched her bottom, deaf to Mademoiselle Isobel's shocked admonishments. The girl shook her pretty head, and hopped from foot to foot for a full minute before turning a tearful and shamefaced look toward the man wielding the cane.
"Felt that one, young miss?"
"Ooh, yes sir. It was terribly tight your reverence, sir. Oooooh...ouch!"
"Tighter than the others?"
"Y-yes Sir, quite a bit...ah...stingier on the wet."
"Excellent. Bend down again, girl!"
"Oh, again, sir?" Blinking away tears, Monique looked first at the Reverend and then at Mademoiselle, before turning back with obvious reluctance to the platform and taking up her position once more. The Reverend Dawes strode over to her and patted the damp seat of her drawers, causing the girl to wince and suck her breath in. The large man chuckled as he squeezed her bottom flesh appraisingly.
"No splits. Excellent. These will do very well."
Monique's bottom was moving in response to his probing and, as his fingers moved down the cheeks and slipped between her legs, she let out a groan. Amelia wondered crossly what this fingering could have to do with the Reverend's professed concern for propriety. Corporal correction was one thing, but it seemed to Amelia that this fondling was improperly intimate, and that Monique's moaning and writhing displayed an indecent response to such liberties. Of course, she reasoned as the girl's cries became more desperate, Monique was nothing but a shop-girl and little better could be expected from common sluts of her type. Still it was appalling that Amelia had to stand and watch the low-bred brute caress his trollop to what was obviously a climax, and she vowed to avenge herself on Monique, should the opportunity ever come her way.
At least she didn't have to watch for very long. The girl soon started groaning and gasping in a most undignified manner and finally fell, squealing, to her knees. She was given but the briefest of interludes to recover, then packed off to extricate herself from the whipping drawers and dress. Amelia sighed with relief as she watched the girl scurry away.
"A most satisfactory experiment," the Reverend said genially as he toyed with his cane. "I should like a dozen pairs initially, Mademoiselle, and two dozen extra back panels."
The new kitchen-maid stepped uncertainly into the nursery parlour. She was small and delicately pretty with dark-brown hair pinned back under her cap. The girl's daintiness made Betsy feel huge and positively ungainly by comparison.Poor Jamie, poor Clara, and poor Betsy too. It's going to be a long afternoon for everyone.
"Yes, girl?" Jamie demanded.
"Cook sent me to find his lordship, sir, and ask for -" the girl blinked anxiously "- for a taste of the cane, sir."
"Well then, why are you here?"
The girl hung her head and stared, somewhat dolefully, at the floor. "It took ages to find his lordship, sir. You see, sir -" she peeked up at Jamie, her voice little more than a timid whisper, " - I got lost..."
"For God's sake, girl, I did not ask for your entire life story!" Jamie snapped impatiently. "Get to the point."
The kitchen-maid quailed a little at his outburst. "Well, when I found his lordship, he was, he was - " a blush touched the girl's pale cheeks "- he was busy." She swallowed hard as if remembering something awful. "He said that I should come here and ask you to - to - "
Betsy understood what had happened. It was something of a ritual for the new girls, and she remembered her own introduction to the vastness and complexity of the hall only too well. Stumbling, lost from corridor to unknown stairwell, finally reaching her goal only to be sent off somewhere else in search of punishment, she had been in tears long before the first stroke had been applied. All the same, looking at this pretty little morsel, she was surprised that Lord Alex had sent her on. The master must have been occupied with something really interesting, Betsy mused, to have passed up such a dainty little treat.
"Very well, girl, I am busy too - but I expect I can find the time to thrash you. Betsy, you won't mind if your tawsing is delayed a little longer?"
Betsy blinked back at him in astonishment. "N-no, sir."
"Good. Then everyone is happy?"
There was a groan from Amelia and a slightly panicked gasp from Clara, which suggested that the blonde girl's coin might be starting to slip. Betsy peeked at the little kitchen-maid, who had gone very pale, and then back to her master, who threw the tawse down onto the chaise longue where it landed with a sickening thump.
"I asked if everyone was happy?" Jamie demanded, more forcefully.
There was a ragged, unconvincing, chorus of "Yes, sir."
The young man smiled. "Jolly good," he said with a satisfied air. "Betsy, get that bloody sack off the wench, will you...and you, girl, what is your name?"
"Emma, sir," the girl said softly, "Emma Swift."
Betsy hurried to help the girl take off her functional grey kitchen-maid's uniform. Beneath, her underclothing was all white, except for soft black woollen stockings. Her undergarments were plain but clean, and obviously new. She wore a thin cotton camisole beneath her corset, which acted as a halter for her breasts. The corset made a trim waist even trimmer. The girl blushed furiously, but did not protest as she was undressed. She kept glancing fearfully towards Amelia.
"Ah, I see you find Miss Amelia's condition interesting, eh, girl?" Jamie had obviously noticed her fascination.
"Oh no, sir. I'm sorry, sir. I didn't mean to -"
"Not at all. Don't be sorry. Come over and have a look, if you are interested."
Emma peeked up at Betsy, as if looking for help. The nursery-maid was neither willing nor able to supply it, and did not meet her gaze.
"Come on!" The note of command in Jamie's voice was more obvious now, and Emma walked across to his side.
"It looks a bit hot, does it not?"
Betsy could see most of the bottom in question as Emma stood to one side of Amelia, and Jamie the other. The stripes that the tawse had left were still glowing. Jamie put his hand on Amelia's left buttock and squeezed, drawing a gasp of pain from her.
"It feels warm too. I tell you what, Emma, why don't you kneel down? Steady, Amelia. Drop that coin again and I'll skin you! Right, Emma, shuffle a bit closer; now you can see what you were so fascinated by. Get a good look, girl."
His hand closed on the back of the young maid's neck, forcing her face inches from Amelia's quivering bottom, then lifted the hem of Amelia's smock with his other hand.
"Feel for yourself how hot it is. Put your face against her bottom - cheek to cheek, as they say. Come on, you nosy little chit, do as I say!"
The maid did as she was told with palpable reluctance. Another pained whimper escaped Amelia's lips as Emma laid her cheek against the surface of the girl's well-tawsed bottom. Jamie made her stay there for a minute, pressing her face against the hot bottom-flesh, obviously enjoying the tableau.
In truth, it was a pretty sight - at least Betsy found it so. Amelia stood, her whole body quivering as she strained to hold the coin against the wall, arms bound behind her. The girl's shapely legs were set off by her sheer white stockings and her curvaceous figure was barely veiled by the thin little smock. Emma knelt, the picture of imperilled innocence, in her white corset and drawers. Her flawless little cheek was just touched by a blush, almost as if the fiery glow of Amelia's bottom might be contagious. Even so, the girl's face seemed pale against the rosy surface of Amelia's bottom. Betsy could have stood and watched the scene all day. Longer, so long as it postponed her own date with the tawse.
Jamie appeared to find the picture pleasant too, for he stood and contemplated the scene for several long minutes, before taking a deep breath. "Now, Betsy, if you can persuade young Emma to stop nuzzling Amelia's arse, I would like you to help in bending her over, palms down on the nursing chair. You know the drill!"
Betsy, naturally, knew the drill extremely well. There was a line in the pattern of the carpet some two feet from the low seat of the armless nursing chair. Taking Emma's bare arm firmly, she guided the girl over. The kitchen-maid's skin was warm and silky under her hand and she could feel the girl tremble slightly as she steadied her.
"Toes behind that line, please."
The girl glanced sideways at Betsy's breasts. Betsy pinched Emma's arm crossly in response.
"Come along, place your hands on the seat," she insisted gruffly.
Emma's corset groaned a little in complaint as she bent, but it was neither so long or so tightly laced as Betsy's, and she got down without difficulty. The nursing chair was low, and Emma's cotton-clad bottom was now the highest part of her. Betsy reached out to pull the girl's drawers apart.
"That's enough, Betsy, I'll do that."
Trying not to show her disappointment, for she had no wish to be accused of petulance, Betsy held her tongue and stepped away.
Jamie had selected his favourite cane, a flexible four-foot length of kooboo, and he swished this once, twice and three times through the air as he approached the lovely, bending girl. The sound that the cane made as he swiped it made Betsy's own bare buttocks clench reflexively in response, and she gave a silent prayer of thanks that it was Emma's, and not her own, bottom which was proffered, ready for the kiss of the rod.
Jamie handed the cane to Betsy, who held the awful thing gingerly, as if it were red-hot. Emma gave a frightened little gasp as the young man pulled her drawers open at the back, and exposed a surprisingly plump bottom for so slight a girl. He tutted, failing to get the folds of cotton to fall back to his satisfaction.
"Emma, my dear, you won't mind if we pull these down altogether?"
"Er - yes sir - no sir -um - I - I mean -"
Whatever the maid, in fact, did or did not, mean mattered little for Jamie's fingers had already reached round to untie the drawstrings even as she tried to gasp an answer.
"Good, good," Jamie said, apparently taking her confused mumbling as assent. In a trice, the cotton drawers fluttered down the girl's legs to fall in a drift around her ankles, and her hindquarters were completely exposed.
Emma was too petite for Betsy's idea of the ideal female form; still, the buxom maid had to admit, the girl had a pretty bottom and shapely legs. The kitchen-maid's buttocks were impudently chubby, almost pure white rounds. Her pale thighs were well-fleshed for their size, and her skin looked deliciously creamy, above the black lambswool of her stockings.
Jamie whistled his appreciation. "Small but not too skinny!" he said admiringly. "What a pretty little behind you have, Emma. I shall really enjoy administering this flogging."
He laid the yellow cane across the plump buttocks, producing a reflexive twitch from her muscles, and an anxious gasp from the bending girl.
"Lovely, quite, lovely," the young man said, watching the nether cheeks flinch in anticipation. "That bottom is as plump and sweet as a ripe peach."
Reformatory girls, thought Betsy with a knowing smile - they always came at least partly trained.
"What do you say to a nice, round dozen then, Miss Mischief?" Jamie called as he took up his position.
"Um, I...er...please,sir -"
"Just say 'yes please, sir', you silly little bitch!"
"Yes, please, sir." The kitchen-maid's voice was now no more than a hoarse, thoroughly frightened-sounding whisper.
Betsy looked from the apprehensively twitching bottom to the face of her master, and saw the rapt smile of one entranced as he lifted the cane.
Whoosh - thwack!
The familiar yellow blur shimmered through the air, and the chubby little bottom cheeks wobbled visibly from the impact. Emma hissed and her knees dipped, ever so slightly, before she got back into the prescribed position. Jamie waited, thus the whole nursery waited. The only sound a pained panting from Emma.
The tramline welt bloomed as Betsy watched. It was almost horizontal, bisecting the girl's bottom-cleft just above the middle of her cheeks. The nursery-maid tried to swallow but found, for some reason, that she didn't have enough saliva.
Jamie raised the rod again.
"Ooh, hoo, hoo, hoo..."
Emma's knees dipped deeply and she wiggled her bottom vigorously. This time, getting back into position was clearly a real trial. Jamie waited as the girl regained control of her tongue, and forced her now violently trembling legs to straighten.
The yellow blur came sooner this time, taking Betsy by surprise. It seemed to have caught the young kitchen-maid out too.
Emma howled. She dipped her knees and back, then straightened up again, several times in quick succession. The howling subsided into a gasping and the humping motion into stamping of her dainty feet as the third weal bloomed across her upper thighs.
"Come along, girl," Jamie snapped impatiently, "resume the position. I haven't got all day!"
Still gasping with pain, the kitchen-maid forced herself to straighten her legs and stick her bottom out towards the man wielding the rod. This time there was no mistaking her reluctance. She pressed her hindquarters out hesitantly.
As Jamie raised his cane, the girl's whole body froze. The yellow flicker rippled the air and the girl's buttocks bounced to the sickening sound of impact once again.
Betsy blinked as she watched the girl react to the stroke. Again there was the strange bucking dance but this time, as well as stamping, Emma put her left leg back up and across her right thigh, as if somehow she could shield her hindquarters from the blistering onslaught of the cane this way.
Jamie did not even have to tell her. As the girl regained control from the waves of pain that had carried her away, she forced her body back into the ordained position. Her welted bottom twitched violently in accompaniment to a slew of gasps and sniffles.
Betsy hardly knew how she herself managed to get through the caning; every time the instrument whooshed through the air she gave herself a furtive touch, pulling her hand away before Jamie could turn and catch her. How Emma endured the beating without recourse to restraint was an even greater source of wonder. That the small girl really felt the thrashing was evident from her shrieks. After each stroke she seemed to find it ever harder to present her trembling thighs and flinching bottom for the next.
Yet, somehow, the kitchen-maid managed to stand relatively still for the full twelve. At the end this was only achieved with the dire threat of further strokes should she fail to get back into position, but somehow she managed it.
The twelfth stroke was the worst. Even as she heard the slightly higher pitched sound as the cane cut through the air, Betsy knew that this one was going to be tight. The thwack of hard rod on firm flesh rapped through the nursery only a little more emphatically, but there was no mistaking the ferocity of that final cut.
The sound that first emerged from the girl's lips was not a scream. It was an almost soundless gasp, as if the pain were so intense that she could not get the air out of her lungs. Nor did she move; she seemed to have turned to stone for a full second. After this brief interlude, it was as if a coiled spring had been released. Emma first jumped high into the air before falling to the floor, her legs convulsively thrashing.
The little maid gurgled, shrieked and gasped, clutching and furiously kneading her bottom as she writhed on the floor, so violently that her corsets creaked in protest.
Betsy glanced at Jamie, who was watching with a satisfied smile. He allowed the kitchen-maid to wriggle on the floor for several long minutes, apparently content to watch her squirming in distress, until her cries had subsided to a low sobbing.
"Oooh..it h-h-hurts, s-s-so m-m-much.."
"All right, girl, don't make such a fuss. Get up now and kneel on the chair. Let's have a look at your bottom."
Sniffling and panting heavily, wincing as she moved, the young kitchen-maid slowly got onto her knees on the chair. Her hands moved away from her bottom-cheeks with reluctance. She gripped the back of the chair so hard her knuckles whitened. Her pretty head sagged and her slender back was racked every few seconds by a new spasm of convulsive sobbing.
Betsy stared at the sight the girl presented. Twelve scarlet stripes now barred Emma's bottom and thighs. Just twice the tramlines crossed where the strokes had made an agonising intersection, but overall the welts were remarkably parallel. The painter of the pattern stood and admired his handiwork with a satisfied expression. His left hand worked busily in his trouser pocket as he waved the cane with his right, as if conducting some silent melody.
"There now," he declared at last. "A well-grilled bit of rump, if ever I saw one. I should think Cook will be well satisfied with those when you show her."
This comment only provoked a fresh torrent of sobbing from the kitchen-maid. Jamie bent and planted a tender kiss on the nape of her slender neck.
"There, there, never mind, my dear. I tell you what - ", and he pointed to his bedroom door with the cane " - cut along to that room and wait for me. I have a job or two to finish here -" he looked at Betsy with a smile that froze the buxom maid's blood, "- but when I've finished, I'll come in and give you something much nicer. Something that will make you feel a lot better."
The kitchen-maid turned and looked at Jamie with wide eyes and a solemn expression. Her gaze followed the pointing cane to the door indicated, then back at the cane again. She swallowed hard, as if coming to some momentous decision, then bent to retrieve her drawers.
"Oh no," said Jamie, a triumphant grin on his face, then waved the stick admonishingly. "No, my dear, I don't think you'll be needing those for a while."
The girl took a deep breath, a last appalled look at the still-straining cousins, and trotted off to Jamie's bedroom, wincing with every step.
"Right." Jamie retrieved the tawse from the chaise longue, put down the cane and beamed at Betsy. "Where the devil were we?" He winked as Betsy's stomach turned somersaults. "Oh yes. Now then, Betsy, back to business. Stick that bottom out. Steady."
The dreamy glow that had enveloped Betsy as she watched Emma's thrashing turned back to terror in an instant... There was something about Jamie's demeanour - that, and the ruthless way he had caned the kitchen-maid - that told Betsy with a sickening certainty that he was in a mood to fairly skin her.
He took up his position. The thick leather strap swung idly in his hand. Her bottom quivered expectantly.
"Keep steady now, Betsy. I want to give you a really good crack this time," Jamie was almost conversational.
Betsy closed her eyes tight and held her breath. The seconds that ticked away seemed to slow to minutes as she waited. The struggle to keep in place was so difficult, she was amazed that her knees did not give way beneath her. Another second crawled by...then another...and another...each cranking up the tension evermore unbearably.
Then there was a distinct metallic clink, followed by a sobbing gasp and then a dreadful silence.
"Oh dear, Clara, oh dear. You are a naughty girl!"
Betsy opened her eyes and peeked cautiously. Jamie was shaking his head in a gesture of mock resignation, and looking down sternly at the trembling young blonde girl. The nursery-maid glanced down to see Clara's gold guinea gleaming on the platter between her feet.
Jamie sighed. Turning back to Betsy, he shrugged and winked at her. Then he rubbed his right shoulder as if it were getting stiff.
"Good God," he said. "Looks like you and I will never finish!" Then he turned back menacingly towards Clara. "Betsy, did you ever hear that expression 'no rest for the wicked'?"