Monday, September 10, 2012

From the Top Shelf - A Crowning Mercy

Today's fiction selection was sent to me by one of my readers. I'll let him set the scene for you.

"It's from A Crowning Mercy by Bernard Cornwell and Susannah Kells. A young woman called Dorcas Slythe lives in 1643 in Dorset. She has been bathing, skinny dipping in the local river where the local Lordling has come upon her. He saw nothing and nicknamed her Campion after the flowers she had been picking, but her brother reported the incident to her strict Puritan widowed father and the housekeeper Goodwife Baggerlie."

The leather belt cracked onto her back.

Matthew Slythe's shadow was monstrous on her bedroom wall. He had brought candles to her room, unbuckled his belt and his big, heavy face was burdened with God's anger.

"Whore!" Again his arm descended, again the leather slammed down.

Goodwife Baggerlie, whose hands were in her hair, was pulling Campion across the bed so that Matthew Slythe could whip her back.

"Harlot!" He was a huge man, bigger than any man who worked for him, and he felt a thick fury within him. His daughter naked in a stream! Naked! And then talking to a young man. "Who was he?"

"I don't know!" Her voice came in sobs.

"Who was he?"

"I don't know!"

"Liar!" He brought the belt down again, she screamed with the pain and then his anger took over. He thrashed her, shouting that she was a sinner. Her was in a blind fury. The leather tip of the belt lashed on the wall and ceiling and still her [stubbornness] drove his arm so that her screams stopped and all he could hear were her helpless sobs as she lay curled at the pillow end of the bed. Her wrist was bloody where the belt had caught it. Goodwife Baggerlie, her hands still tangled in Campion's hair, looked at her master. "More, sir?"

Matthew Slythe, his short dark hair dishevelled, his big, red face distorted with anger, gasped great lungfuls of air. "Whore! Harlot! You have no shame!"

Campion wept. The pain was dreadful. Her back was bruised, bleeding in places and the leather belt had strapped her on back, belly and arms as she had scrambled away from his fury. She said nothing; she could hardly hear her father.

Her lack of response angered him. The belt whistled again: she called out and the lash cut into her hip. The black dress hardly dulled any of the force.

Matthew Slythe's breath was hoarse in his throat. He was fifty four now, yet still an immensely strong man for his age. "Naked! Woman brought sin into this world, and a woman's shame is her nakedness. This is a Christian house!" He bellowed the last words as he brought the belt down again. "A Christian house!"


Matthew Slythe was shaking now, his fury subsiding. He put the belt about his waist and buckled it. He had cut his hand on the buckle but he did not notice. He looked at Goodwife. "Bring her down when she's tidy."

"Yes, sir."
This was not the first beating she had been given; she had lost count of the times that her father had harnessed God's wrath to his right arm. She sobbed, the pain blurring everything, and Goodwife Baggerlie slapped her face."'Get up!"

Well, that was a bit harsh. I hope the story ends well.

From Hermione's Heart


ricky said...

Oh, the cad!

Anonymous said...

Wow. That was a harsh punishment. Ouch.


Hermione said...

Ricky - He was a big meany, wasn't he?

Joey - I agree, quite severe.


Terri said...

Heaven spare us from tattletale brothers who are too damn nosey for anyone's own good!!

And I don't see any 'Mercy' in that section, but perhaps it came later.

ronnie said...

What a severe punishment. Poor girl.


Hermione said...

Terri - I expect it must have. I haven't read the book, only this excerpt.

Ronnie - I suspect the Lordling will comfort her later on.


Aimless Rambling said...

Too harsh for me.