Ruth followed Amanda and Victoria out of the main hall and made for the stairs. Stephen was behind them, but turned away at the top of the stairs, heading for the room on the far side of the gallery. Vicky put a comforting arm around Amanda's waist as the trio made their way to the three adjacent rooms they had been allocated. "Don't worry, pet," she comforted the taller girl, "It'll feel better after a good night's sleep"Oh goody! A demonstration is imminent, but I'm afraid we and Vicky must wait a week for it.
"The Reverend certainly knows how to swish a mean cane!" Ruth observed.
"Wait until the morning," Vicky replied with a grimace. "I don't think we know that half of it yet, but I hope this Moon Balm stuff he mentioned does the business."
Ruth guessed that the other two girls were as nervous as she was. Their forced jocularity totally failed to reassure Amanda, who started to sob, wringing her hands as she did so. Ruth stared at her scornfully. What a wimp! After all it was the same for all of us, she thought. Her hands were throbbing furiously. She was hard put to know which had hurt most, the cane or the tawse. Not that she cared much. It was enough that both hands felt as if they were swollen to boxing-glove proportions.
Thankfully, she reached the door of her room. She was not in the mood for further conversation and quickly said goodnight, leaving Vicky to deal with the still-snivelling Amanda. Entering her room, she saw that the stewards had obeyed the Reverend's instruction. A small glass jar had been placed on the bedside table. She lifted the lid and saw that it contained a greenish-yellow waxy looking substance. Sniffing it cautiously, she decided that the smell, at least, was not unpleasant, perhaps hinting of lavender. Oh well, she thought, it can't make the pain any worse - let's give it a try. She dipped a finger into the balm, scooped out a generous blob, and massaged it into her throbbing palms. The effect was amazing. Within a few seconds, the fierce stinging had begun to subside and she was able to think rationally again about what had transpired that evening, without being distracted by the discomfort in her hands.
The experience of seeing the others go up to the Reverend, one by one, knowing it would be her turn in a matter of moments, had set her pulses racing. Her instincts had told her to get up, leave the room, and never come back. At first, only the sure knowledge that if she did not see this through she would lose her job and, with it, her career, had kept her rooted to her seat. Then, as first Vicky and then Amanda had taken their punishments, apparently willingly, Ruth had become curious, even excited. When Stephen stood up to take Amanda's place, face to face with the Reverend Mould, the knowledge that it was her turn next made her feel weak at the knees.
After all, this wasn't the familiar warmth of her own home, nor was Tony's passionate embrace promising her, in the same breath, both a spanking and a loving. This was a stranger handing down a sentence that she be punished, and that punishment was to be given in front of other strangers.
The thought stayed with her as she got ready for bed, churning it over and over in her mind. She clambered into bed and tried to settle down but her brain would not switch off. Carefully, she set her alarm clock for 7a.m. The Moon Balm had taken away all the pain in her hands , but her fingers were clumsy and she fumbled the setting for a few seconds before getting it right.
She could still feel the six individual strokes, three each from the cane and the tawse, as a sort of afterglow across her palms. The sensation was not unpleasant, but her mind kept racing back, over and over, recalling the scene vividly. I haven't felt like that since I was a little girl, she thought. Ashamed, perhaps. A little frightened, certainly. Knowing that she was to be punished, but not yet knowing how much the punishment would hurt. Then that first slashing cane stroke had answered the question. It had been sharp, almost a knife-cut. The pain had begun on the surface, but sank deeply into her over a period of some seconds. Just as it reached a peak, the second stroke had sent a further wave of sensation chasing the first.
Ruth rolled over onto her stomach, her eyes closed, as she pictured herself with her hand held out, waiting for the third stroke. Reverend Mould had spoken of anticipation adding to the efficacy of the punishment, and he knew what he was talking about, she thought. All that had happened this evening was that they had had their hands slapped. Tomorrow was going to be worse, a whole lot worse. It was obvious that the insistence on wearing athletics kit was simply a ruse to minimise the protection of any clothing when the punishment was addressed to a more traditional target.
Ruth ground her pubis down onto the mattress as she thought about the tawse and how it had stung as it slapped across her hand. A heavier, more bruising sensation, altogether more widespread than the cane. Without realising what she was doing, her hands had slipped to the waistband of the plain, almost boyish, pyjamas she was wearing and slipped them down. An image of herself, bent across the table at the front of the room, her bottom raised, formed in her mind. Amanda, Vicky and Stephen were looking on - looking at her. Reverend Mould, implacably ignoring her pleas, applied the stiff leather of the Lochgelly tawse to the tightly stretched and oh-so-flimsy gym shorts. She could feel the sting across her bottom, hear the sharp report as the fingers of hard leather impacted on her lightly covered, flimsily protected, rear. Breathing heavily, Ruth rolled onto her back and tossed the bedclothes aside. Her right hand sought and found the sweet spot between her legs.
Writhing in the grip of the fierce climax which her imagination had brought on, Ruth did not hear the door of the room next to hers open, nor soft footsteps as Vicky tiptoed past her door. The door of Amanda's room, to Ruth's right, opened quietly but closed with an audible click. Ruth, in her frenzy, was oblivious to the sound. It was only several minutes later, as she gradually brought her pounding heart under control, that she became aware of soft voices, muffled, but still audible, through the thin partition wall.
For a moment, Ruth was puzzled. Then realisation dawned on her. Amanda and Vicky had evidently wasted no time in discovering that they shared a mutual desire! She smiled to herself. I thought Stephen was a fast worker, but he had nothing on these two! The thought that others had found their own form of stimulation in the bizarre situation in which they found themselves was strangely comforting. Perhaps she might be kinder to Stephen tomorrow! Still smiling, her sexual tensions relieved, Ruth attempted to straighten the crumpled sheets and settled down. Sleep did not come easily and, when it did, it was broken by a series of vivid dreams...
...She had no idea how she had got there, but she found herself in the lecture room. She was completely naked and suspended from a hook in the high vaulted ceiling. Her arms were high above her head and pulled taut so that she was only just able to get her feet to the ground. She was aware of an agonising pain in her back, all the way from her shoulders to her knees. The Reverend Mould was standing in front of her, giving instructions to someone behind her. With a whistle and a crack of thongs on flesh, her back exploded into fresh fires. Ruth's body twisted slowly, as she swung helplessly, knocked off her feet by the force of the blow...
The door of the next bedroom clicked, the sound unnaturally loud in the still of the night. Ruth was awake instantly. Momentarily, she was disoriented, still half in her dream world as her back quivered from the impact of the lash. Blearily, she scrabbled for the battery alarm clock she had placed alongside the bed before retiring. It was 3.45 a.m. The door of Vicky's bedroom closed quietly but audibly and the bed creaked as its occupant climbed in. Ruth, reassured, smiled to herself and settled back. Evidently, her two colleagues had enjoyed a pleasant and, she assumed, satisfying, night. She was pretty sure their morning would not be so enjoyable.
With that thought and all its connotations still on her mind, Ruth was asleep again in minutes. Her subconscious, still very active, quickly returned her to the main hall. She found that she was still suspended from the ceiling. She shuddered again as the lash curled round her ribcage, the tips of the thongs snatching at her breasts. Her feet scrabbled for grip, her toes barely touching the floor, and she twisted helplessly. As she rotated, she saw that her tormentor was Stephen, who was laughing hysterically at her plight. Her body spun back round and the Reverend Mould had been transformed into Tony...
Ruth awoke with a start. The sun was streaming in through the window and she knew it must be quite late. Checking her clock, she found that it was almost eight o' clock! Oh shit! I set it for 7 p.m. not a.m.! She scrambled out of bed, quickly washed and started to dress. She had just wriggled into bra and panties when she remembered: Oh God! We have to wear that stupid athletics kit!
Frantically, she scrabbled in her suitcase and pulled out the shorts and vest which she had not worn since her college days. The frilly panties she had on would not do at all; they would show under the material of her thin shorts. Off they came, to be replaced with a rather lurid, red G-string which had been a rash purchase of her student days. She squirmed uncomfortably at the unaccustomed feel of the thin cord lodged in the crack of her bottom. The bra would be OK. It was a fairly plain, white number, quite supportive, and it wouldn't show under her vest. Not too much, anyway. She pulled on the shorts. Hell, they were tighter than she'd remembered. She didn't think she'd put on much weight in the last few years but obviously she would have to watch things a bit more carefully.
Her outfit completed by a pair of white plimsolls, Ruth took a last look round the room and made for the dining room. As she descended the stairs, her final dream came back to her. The strange thing about it was that, although she had felt her back turning raw under the lash of the multi-thonged whip that Stephen had been using, she knew that she had wanted the punishment to continue. She had wanted to feel the cruel thongs wrap around her, the tips caressing her ribcage and curling up under her breasts. As the flogging continued, she had relished the sting of the leather thongs lacing across her lower back and buttocks. The final stroke, she could remember, had been placed right across the centre of her bottom, causing her body to arc forward in Tony's direction. She knew that, had she not woken at that point, she had relished the certainty that he would have grabbed her body and taken her, there and then, with Stephen looking on.
Good grief, she thought, as she pushed the dining room door open, what is happening to my imagination? Blushing at where her dreams might have taken her next, she entered the room to find that the others were already there. Amanda and Vicky were seated at the table. Amanda was picking morosely at a bowl of muesli, but the remnants of a large plate of scrambled eggs were still in evidence in front of Vicky, who was now tucking into toast and marmalade. Stephen and the Reverend Mould were standing at a side table laden with coffee cups, fruit juices, and cereals. They appeared to be chatting in friendly fashion and the whole scene looked incredibly normal, just like the breakfast bar of any hotel in the country. Ruth's first thought was that she had imagined everything and that she was emerging from a particularly vivid nightmare. Then the cold douche of reality struck. It was not a dream; it was all too vividly true. This was no regular hotel, for where, in any normal scenario, would the guests all be wearing athletics kit?
The Reverend Mould turned to greet Ruth. "Good morning. I was almost beginning to wonder if you had taken my observations regarding lateness on board."
"No way, how could I forget?" She smiled at Stephen, to let him know that she had not forgotten that he had suffered a whacking for precisely that offence.
"I am pleased to hear it," the Reverend said dryly, "although doubtless there will be other lessons you will learn during the course of the day. You might want to make haste with your breakfast or you may yet find yourself late for the start of my lecture - and I wouldn't recommend that!"
Ruth never did eat a very large breakfast so it was no hardship for her to make do with just a cup of coffee and a round of toast. She passed the time of day with Vicky and Amanda, but neither seemed to be in the mood for small talk, and Ruth did not let on that she was aware they had spent a large part of the night together. Promptly at nine o' clock, Reverend Mould clapped his hands together to gain the attention of the four students.
Obeying his instructions, the hesitant little group made its way into the big hall. Behind them, Madam Karabengse and her brothers started to clear away the breakfast things. As always, they were quite inscrutable, and Ruth wondered just what they really thought of the Reverend Mould and his eccentric scheme. Even more so, what did they think of the students who submitted themselves, apparently willingly, to their master's demands?
The Reverend Mould waited until they were all seated before him in the little classroom at the end of the hall. "I am pleased to see that you have all remembered the instructions regarding dress code." He surveyed his pupils, his eyes cold and expressionless. "I do hope that you do not find my choice of clothing for you too uncomfortable." Remembering the manner in which breach of the dress code had been dealt with the night before, Ruth was not about to raise any objections, and her fellow students were obviously of the same mind.
"I am so pleased. Now, a little matter of administration. During the course of the day, you will be required, from time to time, to work in pairs. In view of the disparity in points which your respective sponsors have seen fit to award you, I suggest that the most compatible pairings will be Miss Plum with Miss Price and Miss Jamieson with Mr. Langton. I assume there are no objections?"
Ruth looked at Stephen suspiciously. I don't like the sound of this, she thought. I know I can't trust the Reverend Mould and I don't think I can trust you either, Stephen Langton. Stephen, as if reading her mind, grinned at her, his face like a Cheshire cat. He obviously saw the arrangement from a totally different perspective and was clearly delighted. Vicky and Amanda also seemed to be happy about things and had moved noticeably closer together.
"Good. That's settled then." The opportunity to argue about arrangements had gone and, in any case, thought Ruth, who else would I rather pair with out of this lot?
The Reverend continued. "To begin with, this morning, we are going to discuss the milder forms of corporal punishment, and the equipment required to dispense such punishment effectively." He rested his hands on the table and paused to look up at his audience. "The simplest and mildest form of corporal punishment is, of course, a hand spanking. It should not be thought, however, that a spanking is to be despised or that it is necessarily ineffective, just because of its simplicity."
Ruth shifted in her seat, recalling, vividly, just how effective the tanning that she had received from Tony had been.
"To be effective, a spanking should always be given with as much force as the spanker can muster. This is not to say that only muscular males can administer effective spankings. It is simply a matter of psychology, which we touched on last night. Because of the necessarily close physical contact between the two participants, the receiver, or spankee, will always be able to sense if the spanker is holding back and, if that is the case, much of the value of the punishment is lost."
He paused and looked around the group. "Miss Price! What is the value of a punishment?" The question was rapped out with such ferocity that all four students shot up straight in their chairs. Amanda, obviously suffering from her late-night tryst, was caught off-guard.
"Not a very original answer, Miss Price. I shall demand more creative contributions than that from you before the morning is out." Ruth pitied the thin girl. There was no doubt in her mind what form Amanda's creative contribution would take.
Amanda must have had the same thought and rallied bravely. "To deter. Yes, that's it - to make sure the offender doesn't do it again."
"That's better, Miss Price. You see, you can do it if you try! Miss Plum?" He turned sharply to Vicky, who was stifling a yawn. She looked exhausted. "You must pay more attention, Miss Plum. Very well, a recap on our discussion of last night. How do you ensure that a punishment is memorable, and therefore effective, without using undue force?"
Vicky was stumped, completely at a loss for words, and it showed. After a moment of heavy silence, the Reverend Mould sighed in resignation and stepped round to the front of the table. In a voice that suggested infinite patience, he said, "By means of the ritual manner of its execution, Miss Plum. As you commented last night, being punished in front of your peers should add considerably to the psychological effect of a good spanking." He picked up a spare chair from the pile stacked to one side of his table. He placed it in the centre of the space in front of the table, thus it was the focal point for the viewing audience, and beckoned Vicky to step forward.
"Miss Plum. Step to the front of the class. Immediately, please!"
The story so far: