The Reverend Mould began the second session of the afternoon in a quite informal, almost conversational, mode. "I think I am going to re-plan my lecture for the rest of the afternoon." He looked at Ruth intently. She sensed that she was being measured up for some role, as yet unrevealed, and shivered. What was this weird man dreaming up for her now?Drat! I was so hoping to see that lovely riding crop in use. Oh well, on with the story.
She had watched Stephen's caning with growing anticipation, not to say trepidation. As soon as the afternoon session had got underway she had known that either she or Stephen would be caned. It was the logical progression, the obvious next step after hearing the crack of the tawse tenderising Amanda's exposed bottom. Once it became clear that the next victim was to be Stephen, she tried to guess what other, worse, punishment could be meted out when it came to her turn. She could only imagine that the Reverend intended to use a riding crop on her, and the anticipation of that only served to heighten her senses as Stephen was made to bend over the chair.
"I had intended that we should continue the theme begun with Mr. Langton's caning by demonstrating the power of a light riding crop."
Ruth felt her stomach tighten. Her guess had been spot on!
"Indeed, I have just the thing here."
The Reverend reached back and opened a drawer in his table. He produced a leather-braided riding crop with a flourish, as if he were a magician producing a rabbit.
"As you see, the general construction gives this implement qualities which are not unlike a cane. It is very supple, and the abrasive effects of the knots in the cane are more than made up for by the texture of the braiding which surrounds the core of the crop. Also the leather flap or 'popper' at the end makes a most delightful sound when it strikes a well-presented bottom."
Ruth experienced an electric sensation flicker through her body, radiating out from her loins. This was not just any 'bottom' they were talking about, it was her bottom, and it seemed that her intimate lower regions were becoming more hypersensitive by the second.
"However," continued the Reverend, staring at Ruth, "I think that we will keep the crop for, perhaps, another day. I have been thinking about running an advanced course for some time. Perhaps you ladies might like to attend?"
Despite their glee at Ruth's public humiliation, neither Amanda nor Vicky seemed in any hurry to take up that particular offer.
"No? Oh well, even if you currently lack the enthusiasm, I'm sure I can persuade your employers to change your minds later."
He smiled that cold, fish-eyed smile which made Ruth cringe every time she saw it.Will Stephen be gentle? Will he be aroused? Will he visit Ruth in her room later? Will they both get their essays done in time? Find the answers to these and other questions next week.
"Very well, perhaps we should digress for a few moments on this matter of presentation. We have already discussed in some detail the importance of position with regard to ensuring that a punishment can be inflicted efficiently. We should also consider the psychological effects which we mentioned last night. The way in which the receiver of the chastisement is positioned also has a considerable bearing on this aspect."
He looked around to ensure that he held his audience's full attention. He certainly had Ruth's full attention. Nervously trembling, she was wondering just where this monologue was leading.
"As an example of what I mean, just look at this piece of apparatus."
The Reverend stepped from behind his table and gestured for the little group to join him. He was looking at the elaborate bench that they had all noticed previously, which stood at the back of the macabre displays which occupied the bulk of the hall.
"Does anyone know what it is?"
Ruth considered the apparatus carefully. Made of heavy wooden beams, it consisted of two long benches, their tops slightly below knee height and about five feet long. The benches were set parallel to one another and about two feet apart. From the inner edge of each bench, an A-shaped timber frame rose about eighteen inches above the bench top. A single cross beam, heavily padded, linked the apexes of the two A-frames. Further cross-members at floor level joined the benches at each end.
Given the setting in which they found themselves, it was fairly obvious how this was designed to work. The victim would kneel on the twin bench-tops and bend over the central padded cross-piece. In such a position, the buttocks and the backs of the victim's thighs would be presented in a very vulnerable position. However the apparatus was obviously quite old; the wood had a sort of antique patina which Ruth associated with junk shops. The Reverend was clearly looking for something more than just an assessment of the intended use of the object. None of the students had the confidence to break the silence.
"No one cares to hazard a guess? I am disappointed, but I suppose I had better enlighten you. It is a birching bench, as used in all the finest English Public Schools of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I do not know for certain, but we might even suppose that this very bench was used at Eton, our premier establishment. It is certainly old enough, a genuine antique. Try to imagine the feelings of a young miscreant, hauled up before all his peers, and mounted on a piece of apparatus such as this. He would know, of course, that he was to receive a most savage punishment, far worse than we would ever contemplate today. He would be secured; both ankles and wrists would have to be strapped to the bench and it is possible that additional restraint would be required over the victim's waist, for a birching takes a much longer time to administer than most other forms of corporal punishment. You could not expect even the most hardened young villain to remain in place without restraint. But do you see my point? Not only is the punishment physically severe, but the manner of its giving, the ritual and the presentation, the humiliation of being restrained in such a submissive position, all contribute to the effectiveness of the deterrent."
Ruth put up her hand.
"Yes, Miss Jamieson?"
"You called it a birching bench, but could it - I mean, was it - used for other forms of punishment as well?"
"Why, certainly. I think you can see that it would hold the victim in a suitable position for the chastisement of the nether regions with just about any punishment implement," - Ruth's stomach muscles tightened suddenly - " however, it is not really practical to use such elaborate apparatus in these enlightened modern times, although it is perfectly possible to improvise."
He paused and stared hard at Ruth who began to redden visibly.
"And Miss Jamieson will now volunteer to assist me in a little demonstration. Shall we return to the classroom area?"
Ruth felt her legs turn to jelly. As if by pre-arranged signal, Amanda and Vicky fell into place, one on each side of her, and gently guided her back to the open area at the end of the hall.
"Not thinking of going anywhere, were you?" Amanda whispered gleefully in her ear. "Think of it as good experience. Just imagine what an essay you'll be able to write afterwards."
"Mr. Langton, would you be good enough to take two chairs and place them back to back, in front of my table? Thank you."
As ever, Reverend Mould spoke in cool, measured tones, the very absence of passion making Ruth feel all the more threatened. As Stephen did as he was asked, the steward, Kim, appeared, apparently unbidden, carrying a large pillow which he carefully placed across the backs of the two chairs, where the backs touched. It was clearly something he had done before and, as he stood back, he looked at Ruth. She was certain she detected a look of excitement in his eyes.
"Kneel on the chair, Miss Jamieson."
The Reverend pointed to the nearest seat and Ruth felt herself being propelled forward by her two escorts.
"Now if you two ladies would take your seats, I will ask Mr. Langton to complete our preparations. Take Miss Jamieson' s hands, if you will, Mr. Langton."
Ruth found herself looking into Stephen's eyes as he followed the Reverend's instructions. She hoped she would find some sympathy in them, but knew inwardly that all she would find was eager anticipation. Resignedly, she allowed herself to be drawn forward, right over the chairs until her hips were fully supported by the pillow. Raising her head sufficiently to look at Stephen became too uncomfortable, so she allowed herself to slump into a slightly less uncomfortable position as Stephen, following instructions, picked up a soft silken cord from the table and bound her wrists, one to each arm of the chair.
"Very good. Now take your seat with the rest of the class if you please, Mr. Langton." The Reverend was directly behind Ruth and out of her line of vision. She twisted her head to look at the rest of the class. Amanda and Vicky leered back at her, both relishing her plight. She felt the beginnings of tears pricking her eyes and prayed that she would be strong enough to withstand what was coming next, without making a complete fool of herself.
The Reverend cleared his throat, then began to speak.
"The common birch tree, Betula pubescens, to give it its correct botanical name, is of course native to this country, although a lot less common now than it once was . For this reason, it was the traditional instrument of punishment long before the cane came into common use, the rattan cane being, of course, an import. Although, as we shall shortly see, the birch is a very effective instrument indeed."
Ruth began to shiver at the implication of his statement.
"It's disadvantage, in situations where modesty is an issue, is it's lack of weight. Which means that it is essential to use it only on the bare flesh."
As he spoke, Ruth felt his hands at her waist. A small sound of protest, a half- formed word that came out as a strangled squeak, came to her lips, but she knew that resistance was hopeless.
"You said something, Miss Jamieson?" the Reverend enquired solicitously as Ruth's shorts slid down her legs. Her face felt boiling hot and she knew that it must be the same colour as the tiny triangle of silk which was all that stood between her and total nakedness from the waist down.
"N-No Sir." She surprised herself. It was the first time she had called him 'Sir' but it seemed so appropriate given the position she was in. Suddenly she stiffened as his hand returned to her waist. Oh dear God...No!! She half turned and managed a strangled 'nnnnggggg' as the Reverend cruelly paused in his dragging down of her tiny G-string.
"Ah, you are reacting, understandably, to the total loss of your modesty, Miss Jamieson. Well I'm afraid this demonstration requires the whole area of your bottom to be completely bare. Now just lift your legs, one at a time, please. I want to remove your clothing entirely."
Ruth felt her G-String rolled right down and reluctantly co-operated as both garments were pulled right off her outstretched legs. Her humiliation was complete as the Reverend bound her ankles and knees to the arms of the second chair, parting her legs so that she exposed her most private parts. Oh God, why doesn't he just get it over with? She wanted to scream. She wanted to run from this room and hide and never see these awful people again. She wanted to feel the lash across her bare buttocks. She wanted - Oh God, what was happening to her mind, what was she thinking?
"The Victorians, with their hypocritical prudery and a command of world trade which made it easy to import such things, introduced the cane as an implement of punishment which did not require the removal of clothing."
The Reverend's voice was still behind her but sounded as if he was a few paces further away from her. Ruth had actually listened to the technical details of the Reverend's previous lecture with some interest, relating, as it did, to her own experiences in caning Nicky Shaw. Now that the subject under discussion was herself, she could not break herself of the habit, nor quite make the mental connection that when the Reverend referred to the 'miscreant' or 'culprit' or any of the other euphemisms for 'victim', he meant her.
"It is a little ironic, therefore, that many Victorians continued to apply the cane to bare flesh, thereby causing greater suffering than if they had continued to use the birch, an implement we have since come to hold in some awe."
Ruth was taken completely by surprise as a hundred individual bee-stings lanced into her bottom. So softly had the Reverend approached behind her, she had no idea he was so close. The soft swish of the birch as it descended was quite unlike the harsh, even awe-inspiring, woosh of the cane, and there was no corresponding crack of wood on taut flesh - only this feeling that she had sat on a bed of nettles. The chairs creaked on the polished floor as she jerked her head upward and squealed, more in shock than pain.
"Come, come, Miss Jamieson, we have hardly started yet, it's far too early for you to be squealing already."
The sarcasm in his voice made Ruth feel even more humiliated. True enough, the blow had not hurt her that much, she realised it was more shock as she gathered her wits about her. There seemed to have been very little force applied and there was no great shock of impact as she had felt when Tony's heavy hand had pounded her bottom a week or two earlier. The sensation she now felt was quite different, confined to the surface of her skin rather than deeply penetrating, and a much sharper sting.
The Reverend Mould stepped into her view. He was holding a bunch of birch twigs similar to that which she had seen in the display cabinet, tightly bound at one end and splayed out into a fan of about three inches across at the other end. The difference between this bundle, no more than eighteen inches long, and the bundle on display, was that this one was still green and had been kept in water. The Reverend shook it in front of her as she watched, and a fine spray of water fell to the floor. Ruth could also feel a dampness on her bottom, increasing her discomfort. The initial sting seemed to be subsiding a little and she could now isolate and analyse the damage. The ends of the birch must have made contact with the centre of her right cheek, which was where most of the sting was centred; her left buttock was barely touched at all.
"How do you feel, Miss Jamieson? That wasn't so bad, now was it?" She knew that he was taunting her, that much worse was to come, but he seemed to be expecting some sort of an answer.
"You took me by surprise, that's all. It stings a bit, but it's not the way I expected."
"I am glad to hear it, this exactly confirms my point."
He continued to walk round her. Although she was more prepared, the second stroke, arriving as silently as the first, still took her by surprise. Again the chairs creaked as she jerked slightly, although she contained her reaction as much as she could and just drew her breath in sharply.
"It is not necessary to use great physical force when administering corporal punishment," the Reverend continued as if what was happening here was an everyday occurrence, "and though it may be difficult for you to appreciate this in your current position, Miss Jamieson, your friends will be able to confirm to you that I am using no great effort in applying the birch to your posterior."
The second stroke had hit her left cheek and balanced the effect of the first. Ruth's bottom was just beginning to relax when the Reverend punctuated his sentence with stroke three, lower and more central. She began to realise that lack of force did not equate to lack of effect. His mention of her 'friends' naturally made Ruth twist round towards the small audience.
All three of them seemed to be studying her with absolute concentration and she could guess all to clearly what must be going through their minds. She recalled only too well her own excitement as she had watched each in turn humiliated, taunted and tormented earlier that day. Vicky's eyes flickered a fraction before the next stroke caressed Ruth's lower bottom, partially overlapping a previous one. Ruth could not hold back a yelp this time as the sharp ends of the birch found their way deep into the cleavage of her buttocks, exploring places that she would much rather were left untouched. For the first time she appreciated the significance of 'completely bare'.
"You see, the great advantage of using such a lightweight implement as this," the Reverend's voice continued, apparently undisturbed by Ruth's audible reaction. "is that one can extend the punishment over a much longer period of time. When using a cane, one is constrained to about a dozen strokes, maximum."
Ruth yelped again as the twigs found a fresh mark.
"After that, the buttocks are usually so bruised as to be numbed, and further punishment becomes mere brutality. With the birch one can draw blood. But worry not, Miss Jamieson, that is not our objective - not today. One can safely apply the birch more frequently and over a much wider area. Miss Jamieson has now received six strokes."
Ruth's cry was more urgent now, blotting out the sound of 'six' as that stroke arrived.
"But as you can see, she is barely even distressed."
As the Reverend paused, Ruth hung her head, willing herself to relax. Barely distressed? She was very humiliatingly bare but if he didn't think she was at all distressed, then what torments would she have to endure to satisfy him? She could feel that he had now covered her whole bottom from the mid-portion of her cheeks down to the top of her thighs. Each blow had given her a sensation like myriad pinpricks all applied at once, and now the entire area had ceased to distinguish individual pain spots; it was just an area of acute sensitivity.
"As I said, with a cane it is traditional to measure punishments in groups of six, stopping at twelve," Reverend Mould blandly continued. "In the case of a good birching, the unit of measure is the dozen, with two dozen strokes being commonplace and three dozen by no means unheard of. For the sake of hygiene, however, one should change the implement fairly frequently, say after every six strokes. I thought I would let Miss Jamieson off lightly today, simply to make my point, and let her off with two dozen so I got Kim and Luc to make me up five switches, just in case one broke early. I think that's fair, don't you, Miss Jamieson?"
Ruth gritted her teeth. Two dozen? She would not beg. The worst was already over, she told herself. After all she had been stripped bare, her legs spread open and she had been tied down in the most undignified manner imaginable. There was nothing more he could do to shame her or make life worse.
She was wrong! She knew it as soon as the Reverend took a new switch and began to work on her thighs. He seemed, for once, to have run out of speeches but his strength and aim were unimpaired. Applying one stroke every fifteen to twenty seconds, he began striking just where he had left off, at the top of her thighs, and worked methodically down, covering the backs and inner surfaces of both legs with a series of silent, but devastatingly effective, cuts. Ruth began to wriggle violently and to cry out after every stroke. Not only was the flesh of her inner thighs much softer and less well protected than her bottom, but the birch twigs penetrated deeply between her legs, causing agonising darts of pain as the very tips of the buds flicked her labia.
Six strokes, carefully placed so that the affected zone just overlapped its predecessor, three to each leg, were just enough to take the pain to midway between Ruth's knees and her bottom.
It was also enough to break her resolve. She could not keep silent, she could not keep still, and she could not resist the messages her body sent to her. There was no doubt that each brush from those sharp twigs hurt, but the sensation was not a constant one, nor did it build to a peak in the way that every extra slap of Tony's spanking had added to the one that went before. This was a series of peaks and troughs and, if each peak was enough to make her squeal then so, equally, did each trough give her time to reflect.
Time for her mind to fully absorb what was being done to her; time to realise that she could hardly be more exposed. Her legs were spread wide so that anyone standing behind could see her anus, and the dark hair between her legs at the entrance to her pussy. Any observer must also have watched every twitch and jerk, seen her bottom squirming, her pussy lips moistening. The thought of what she must look like both shamed and excited her; pain and pleasure mingling until they were indistinguishable. Then the beating stopped. All that was left was the warmth spreading through her bottom and lower belly as she ground herself deeper into the supporting pillow.
"Mr. Langton, your turn to show us what you have learned, I believe." Ruth barely heard the words, but the noise of Stephen's chair scraping back and the movement as he stood up caught her attention.
"NO!" She struggled in her bonds as the protest was indignant, almost tearful. "No please, no more, not from him!" Her struggles were useless; both her arms and legs were far too tightly secured and her reaction simply made it appear that she had lost her courage, that she could not accept with good grace that which she had dished out happily, not so long before.
The reality was that she was frightened of the signals her body was sending out. She could not be sure she would not shame and debase herself completely. She knew she was already wet, and she continued to lubricate, her clitoris hardening against the pillow. The shame of Stephen discovering that was more than she could bear. She was desperate to avoid him knowing that she was approaching a sexual climax, desperate to prevent him realising how much she wanted that big cock, so clearly in evidence an hour ago, to plunge into the very depths of her, right here and now. The two conflicting emotions, desire and shame, were tearing her apart as Stephen took a fresh bunch of birch twigs from the bucket behind the big table.
The story so far: