Tuesday, February 3, 2015

From the Top Shelf - The Tradition

I am very excited to announce that Rollin Hand from Disciplinary Tales has written a new novelette, The Ladies of Heatherton Hall, and he has very kindly agreed to allow me to share some of it with you. Today I'm please to bring you the prologue from that book. It sets the scene for the tradition of discipline which is scrupulously adhered to throughout each chapter of the tale.

The Earl of Carlisle entered the police station and immediately all heads turned and conversation ceased. It was unusual that the earl would present himself at the police station in person, but it was not unprecedented.

“Well, where is she?” he asked. “Jenny Mears, one of my staff—where is she?”

“Beggin’ your pardon, lordship, but they’ve already taken her to the birching chamber,” said the duty sergeant, breaking the silence. They all knew she was in service at Heatherton Hall. “There’s a few of them due for a flogging this morning and she’s one of them.”

The butler had informed the earl that morning that Jenny Mears, his wife’s personal maid, had been accused of shoplifting. The shop owner had appeared before the magistrate to lodge a complaint and Jenny had been arrested. At an all too brief hearing Jenny had pled guilty to pilfering a locket. The magistrate had sentenced her to twelve strokes with the island birch rod. Once this information had been conveyed to the earl, at the urging of his wife, he had called for his carriage and had hurried to the village.

“You must do something,” said the countess. “Jenny is such a sweet girl and I love her like a daughter.” Indeed, the earl understood. With all due haste he sped to the police station. He hoped he was not too late.

“Take me to her,” said the earl.

The duty sergeant nodded to a constable who escorted the earl down a corridor and across a courtyard to little used wing of the jail. The birching room was a large converted storeroom. What sunlight there was streamed though tall windows, illuminating a peculiar piece of apparatus that stood at its center. The flogging frame was a sturdy structure made from heavy timbers that sported an upright section joined to an angled section. The prisoner lay across the top of the upright section and her upper torso was secured to the angled portion, forcing her to bend forward and present her buttocks for the whipping. And it was already in use. A lissome female miscreant was bent over, her bared bottom on display. Her skirts had been pinned up, her long drawers lowered. A beefy wardress was in the process of selecting a birch rod from a bucket in a corner. The earl’s eyes flitted about the room. The female was not Jenny, for Jenny stood against a far wall with two other young women, flanked by guards. Her eyes were wide with fright and her breasts were heaving. Several witnesses were in attendance, probably victims who had made the complaints and were thus entitled to see justice meted out.

The earl regarded her with narrowed eyes, a look of disapproval on his face. Then he saw that activity in the room had ceased, as if awaiting a signal from him.

“Please proceed,” he said. It will do her good to witness what is about to happen, he decided.

The wardress selected a rod. Comprised of a dozen whippy switches it was nearly three feet long and bound at one end with twine. She swished it about, testing its flexibility. The whining sound made the secured prisoner flinch and she turned her head, staring at the instrument, her eyes wide with fear. The wardress took her position to the side of the prisoner and extended her arm, gauging the distance, aligning the rod for a first stroke.

The chamber went deathly quiet. The wardress drew her arm back. The rod hung suspended in mid air for a second and then descended in a blur of motion. A sharp thwick announced the rod’s impact on the girl’s fulsome buttocks. Her bottom cheeks quivered and she uttered a shrill scream. A second stroke caused her to scream louder. A fine tracery of red lines appeared on the white flesh. The girl stamped her feet and tried to wriggle.

“Please, oh please!” she begged. But another stroke fell on her twitching behind causing her to cry out again in anguish.

The flogging proceeded. The earl watched Jenny’s reaction. She quailed in fear, wincing sympathetically as the young woman in the whipping frame absorbed stroke after stroke. The young girl’s buttocks clenched and relaxed as if trying to shake off the excruciating sting, but the wardress always seemed to catch those jiggling orbs in a relaxed state, making them ripple as the rod landed. From time to time Jenny’s eyes darted about, eventually coming to rest on the earl’s face and then begging, imploring the earl for mercy. For she knew she was next.

When the prescribed twelve strokes had been meted out, they unfastened the sobbing girl and returned her to a place against the wall to wait with the others.

A constable read from a paper in his hand. “Jenny Mears, bring her forward.” A pair of strong arms clutched her from either side and started to propel her toward the frame.

“Stop,” said the earl raising his hand. “I invoke the tradition of Oakton Island. I will attend to the chastisement of the girl myself. I wish her released to my custody.”

The Tradition, as it was called, had held sway on Oakton Island as far back as anyone could remember. The Wardress nodded to the guards. “Release her,” she said.

“Jenny, come with me,” said the earl, offering his hand. He escorted her out of the police station.

“Thank you, oh, thank you, sir,” said the frightened girl when they were safely away in the carriage.

The earl looked her in the eye. “Don’t thank me yet, Jenny. There is still the matter of your punishment which I am duty bound to carry out. When we arrive at the Hall you are to go into the garden and cut six supple switches twenty inches long. Strip them of shoots and buds and inform the butler when you have done so. You may then go and wait for me in the library. You have been spared a public flogging, but mark my words, you will be punished severely and afterwards you will go into the village and apologize to the shop owner.”

As Jenny nodded in assent, she could only imagine that she would have difficulty sitting for several days. Spared a public whipping for a private one. She supposed it was preferable, but it wasn’t for her to say. On Oakton island tradition ruled above all else, and everyone did their duty.

In the weeks to come I will be sharing more from the book, but if you'd like to read ahead, go to Rollin's blog and click on the link in the sidebar to order it now.
From Hermione's Heart


Roz said...

Rollin writes fantastic stories, and this was no exception:) Really enjoyed this. Thank you Rollin and Hermoine for sharing :)


Cat said...

Haven't had the pleasure of reading much of Rollin's work...am definitely going to have to rectify that! Thanks for the preview Hermione.

Hugs and Blessings...

ronnie said...

I love Rollin's stories. Thank you both Looking forward to more.


Hermione said...

Roz - Rollin is a very talented writer. I'm glad you enjoyed this excerpt.

Cat - I've published a few here.

Ronnie - I think you'll enjoy the next excerpt too.


Katie said...

I enjoyed this story Hermione and Rollin! :) I wonder what happens next...? OUCH! I will look forward to reading more. Thank you! Many hugs,

<3 Katie