The following day dawned long before Ruth was ready for it. She had worked late into the night, determined not to have to undergo any further punishment. At least, that was how she initially justified the motivation to herself. The longer she worked on her essay, the more she began to realise that she had, indeed, learned something by participating in this bizarre course. The revelation came as something of a shock to her.Hooray for Ruth! But the story is far from over. Next week we will see what Ruth does with her prize.
Of course she had known for some time that a part of her enjoyed the feeling of submission to a stronger personality. Her games with Tony were largely based around that premise and she felt no qualms about admitting as much to herself. She had hugely enjoyed the anticipation, then the reality, then the aftermath, of being put over Tony's knee and soundly spanked. She had accepted that as a part of her make-up and had carefully contrived the situation which brought matters out into the open between them.
Now, however, she realised that she was on the threshold of a different world, and the thought frightened her a little. She had gone along with a totally artificial situation, which anyone with a grain of common sense would have walked away from, right at the start. But - hang on - what does that tell me about the rest of the participants on the course, she thought, and about Lilian Greeves too for that matter? She had little doubt now that her boss must have been a keen participant, or else she would not have so enthusiastically sent Ruth to Damocles Priory so soon after her own experience there. This awareness that she was not alone helped Ruth to come to terms with her feelings a little but the realisation that she had found an intense, almost overpowering, sexual pleasure in being humiliated and hurt in front of an audience of strangers, troubled her a great deal. As a result, it was not until the early hours of the morning that Ruth finally put her head to the pillow, to endure her second night in succession of restless sleep punctuated by vivid dreams.
Breakfast was a serious affair. The four students all came to the dining room wearing the obligatory athletics kit and carrying folders of manuscripts, their respective essays, which were dutifully handed to the Reverend Mould as he sat at the head of the table. Ruth was relieved to see that her effort was one of the fattest bundles, although Stephen had also contributed a substantial folder. Quantity does not mean quality, was a maxim she had frequently drummed into her own students, but at least, in this case, she hoped that Mould would interpret it as effort.
On the stroke of nine, the Reverend looked up from the papers and surveyed the four pairs of apprehensive eyes.
"Shall we repair to the lecture room? I find the atmosphere there so much more creative."
Obediently the quartet followed their instructor into the larger room, the various exhibits provoking their usual morbid fascination. Approaching the lecture area, Ruth observed that a space in front of the table had been cleared and a simple wooden trestle placed in the centre, with the remaining chairs arranged around it in a semi-circle. On the main table lay a dark leather tawse, an ornate device with three fingers, its edges delineated into a wavy gold line.
The class settled into place, and the Reverend made something of a performance of shuffling the essay papers and placing them on the table.
"I have read your submissions with interest," he began, beaming at the group in front of him. "I have to say that I am very gratified that Mr. Langton has taken on board so much of what I said. A really excellent paper."
Oh, oh, here it comes, thought Ruth, so its going to be one of us girls who comes out of this little talk with a sore bum...yet again.
"Miss Plum, I rather felt you could have done better."
Vicky visibly shrank in her seat, hardly daring to accept the proffered essay, then just as visibly relaxed when the Reverend turned to Amanda.
"You, Miss Price, I am absolutely certain could have done much better than this. I really feel you have not grasped the concepts of corporal punishment very well at all, have you?"
"I tried my best," was all Amanda could mumble in her own defence, taking the document from the Reverend. Ruth noticed that Amanda's folder was perceptibly thinner than the wedge of paper each of the others had received. She felt the butterflies circulating with that familiar feeling. It was her turn now and she put out a hand to take her essay back.
"Now - Miss Jamieson." She felt all eyes upon her and she began to shiver. "You certainly submitted a large volume of work. At first I was not at all sure that this was a good thing, and I could sense a degree of indecision about some of your thoughts. After a lot of deliberation I have decided that it is you who deserves to get this tawse."
He picked up the implement from the table and Ruth's heart plummeted to her boots. The effects of the Moon Balm, so generously rubbed in all over her sorely birched bottom and legs had been little short of miraculous. There was just the merest tingle when she sat down, to remind her that only yesterday she had been virtually skinned raw.
However the prospect of a long taxi ride, sitting on the after effects of another punishment with that wicked-looking strap did not appeal in the slightest. Everyone was looking at her, waiting for her to react. There was nothing else to do but take what was coming to her and hope that there was still some Moon Balm to be obtained afterwards. She started up from her chair.
"Just a moment, Miss Jamieson. Before I give you this tawse to keep as a little souvenir of our time together, I did say that I would also award a booby prize for the least satisfactory piece of work."
Ruth sagged back in her chair, not quite understanding the implication of what had been said.
"Miss Price, I want you out here please!"
"Oh noooo!" Amanda let out a plaintive wail.
"Come now, Miss Price, you know you have earned this punishment for dilatory work. Six strokes of the tawse on your bare bottom will perhaps teach you to concentrate on what you are being taught."
Ruth watched as Amanda, the tears already coursing down her face, allowed herself to be gently assisted by Vicky, and took up her position bent over the trestle, which had obviously been prepared for exactly this purpose. Ruth felt considerable sympathy for the girl, even though she had not been able to form much of an attachment to her during the last few days. She noticed that Amanda was at least brave enough to take a firm hold of the lower bar of the trestle, not needing the restraining belts which had been screwed to the legs, fore and aft, to bind the ankles and wrists of the unlucky victim.
The Reverend Mould lost no time in taking down Amanda's shorts and panties, revealing the stripes which had been so vividly evident the day before, but now faded into a dusky-pink shadow. That Moon Balm is certainly potent stuff, thought Ruth. It crossed her mind that perhaps it was the active agents in the balm, whatever they might be, that had been making her feel so very sexy over the last few days.
The Reverend lifted the tawse high over his shoulder and, to everyone's surprise, brought it down on the table top with a crash that shook the room. Amanda's head lifted sharply, her hair flying in all directions as she let out a plaintive yelp of surprise,
"Six of the very best, I said, and six it shall be!" the Reverend bellowed.
He moved behind Amanda, taking up his position, and Ruth, for all her sympathy, craned her neck for a better view of the girl's bottom. Unexpectedly, with a totally uncharacteristic wink of humour to the class and a gestured finger to the lips requesting silence, the Reverend quietly rested the tawse on the table out of Amanda's view and fumbled in his pocket.
To Ruth's astonishment, he produced a soft leather bookmark of the sort sold in souvenir shops the world over. Fully six inches long and an inch wide, it was cut to represent a miniature tawse, and embossed with the word 'Damocles' in gold lettering. Taking careful aim, he flicked it across Amanda's bare bottom, delivering all the destructive force of a goose feather.
Amanda screamed, an ear-splitting, high pitched screech, and grabbed at her bottom as if she had been cut in half. "OWWWwwwwwww!" she cried, the wail tailing off into embarrassed silence as it dawned on her that she was the victim of a cruel practical joke.
"Now that, if I may say so," laughed the Reverend as the rest of his class chuckled, "is the most practical demonstration I could have wished for of my central point; that, to be effective, a punishment need not be severely physical, so long as you manage the psychological side correctly. You may get up now, Miss Price. I think we can forego the other five strokes."
As Amanda straightened up, crimson with embarrassment, the class, led by Stephen, broke into a spontaneous applause. Amanda, after a moment's hesitation, joined in, turning to the Reverend as she did so.
He held up his hand for silence. "And so, it only remains for me to present each and every one of you with these little souvenirs of your stay here." He produced more identical bookmarks from his pocket and handed one to each of the students.
"And, finally, to you, Miss Jamieson, the prize for the best essay - use it wisely." He picked up the real tawse from the table and offered it to the astonished Ruth. Blushing, she accepted the gold-edged implement and wondered which was more likely - that she would feel it or use it once life returned to normal after this experience - if it ever did!
The story so far: