Tuesday, December 22, 2015

From the Top Shelf - A Letter of Reminiscences

Today's tale is a letter published in The Governess magazine. A reader, in her late sixties at the time of writing, remembers an incident from her girlhood where she believes herself to have been unjustly punished, yet says corporal punishment changed her life.

At the time, in the early 1950s, I was of that age when I fitted that Victorian term, "a great girl". I was between 17 and 18 and, although womanly in build, not in any voluptuous way. I was childish and gawky in manner, the youngest and the only girl in an Irish middle-class family living in the country. Daddy was in business. Both my brothers and I adored Mummy. We had a live-in cook and a "day-girl", yet we were not rich nor was our home extravagant - an old rambling place at the end of a long drive, once owned by an Anglo-Irish family who had left upon the advent of Irish independence.

My shaping event occurred on a day in summer. I was on holiday from school which I had one more year to attend. As I often liked to do, I went for a bike ride to a nearby pal's house. She, I discovered, was out; and on my return journey I was caught up by another cyclist. A man! I suppose he was in his mid-twenties with a small case and his jacket in a carrier on his bicycle. He wished me good day and we began chatting as we rode. Eventually he suggested we stop for a rest. I thought he was quite handsome and though shy I was flattered. He was, I think, a clerk or such like who, in those pre-car days, often used to bicycle on business journeys. As we sat on the bank and chatted he remarked how hot the sun was and perhaps we might find a shady spot.

Remounting our bikes we went on until we reached the two stone gateposts, so common in Ireland, at the end of our drive. Just inside was what we called the "soldiers hut", an old stone hut, used perhaps by the Black and Tans to guard the Anglo-Irish family during the 'troubles', now used as a hay store for our pony.

Without much, if any, persuasion, the chap and I leaned our bikes against the wall and went inside. In the dim light and on the soft hay it was but a moment before I was in the arms of the young man. He kissed me - my first real kiss indeed - then the long drawn out but really harmless embrace, his hands all over me, my thin blouse undone, my lower clothes just raised and my thighs stroked. Such kisses. Tongues - oh the lust of me too - yet a sort of unspoken line drawn, his realisation of my innocence and his decency. Yet how aroused I was! Him too - I could feel it - I was not that innocent! We clung together for an hour, maybe two, then my new and still unknown friend had to leave me. He cycled off towards the town and I wheeled my bike up to the house. I knew I looked dishevelled, though I had done up my buttons and smoothed my hair.

No sooner had I put my bike in the shed than Mother called me in. Her face was furious. She knew! She somehow knew that I had been what they called 'bold'. And when Mother told Mrs. Carney to come into the drawing-room I knew I was for it! Previously only my brothers had been beaten by Mrs. Carney at my mother's request. Now it was my turn! When the oh so hefty looking cook came into the drawing-room she already knew the reason, saying I should be more careful where I took boys.

In a daze I was ordered over the table, my thin skirt removed, knicks left on. Then Mother said to the cook, "You know what to do. She is becoming a wanton girl and the boys' cane will teach her a lesson!" I was in terror. I had seen my brothers' bottoms after a caning, such weals, and how they yelled! Now I would be the one to feel it!

Mother told Mrs. Carney, "As hard as you can. Make her feel it!" No mention of how many strokes! I thought it would be at most six. At the very first swish I thought I would die. By four I was howling, then two more and I thought it was over. How wrong I was! I took ten strokes. I thought I truly would die and again I was certain it must be over. Dimly I heard Mother's voice, "Give her another ten. Then we'll see how it looks" - and that woman thrashed me, each cut of the cane making me add a fresh note of agony to my bellows.

At last I'd had the second ten, and I felt my knickers pulled right down and a cool hand examining my raw flesh. Then, "Six more on her bare bottom - and make sure she feels them!" I recall begging for mercy, to no avail. Those final six cuts burned into my flesh and I fainted, coming round to find my mother again running her hands gently, and I thought lovingly, over my tender burning bottom. She ordered me to stand up, pull up my knickers and put on my skirt.

"Now, young lady, you may not be so keen on disgracing yourself with men!" she said. Then I was told to get my tea, hardly able to walk let alone sit at table, then I was told to go to bed with the threat "Next time you are caught with a man, I'll have you horse-whipped!"

How unjust it seemed. I surely had done no harm. A few lovely kisses and lying in a man's arms. Later, as I lay in pain in my bed, I had the strangest feeling, as if the caning, agony though it was, had been part of a wonderful experience. It was one that began an inner desire - totally subdued for years - for that delicious combination of pain, love and pleasure with which many of us here are familiar.

Isn't it significant that she and her brothers "adored Mummy"? By the way, The Governess magazine is available in book form on Amazon.

From Hermione's Heart


Aimless Rambling said...

Interesting in that she had the 'cook' use the cane instead of her.

Ella said...

Quite a story, Hermione. I am just sorry that the young man did not appear at her window later and finish what he started.

Christmas wishes to you and your family!

ronnie said...

Quite harsh I think. Surprised the cook did the caning and that she caned the boys. I would have thought the father would have dealt with the boys.

Thanks for sharing Hermione.


Roz said...

Ooh ouch! Sounds harsh to me too. Very interesting the cook dishes out the punishmenw (pardon the pun lol). Thanks for another great story Hermoine :)


Cat said...

OMG 26 with the cane? I also was wondering why cook gave the spankings in the family. Thanks for sharing another interesting story, Hermione.

Hugs and blessings...Cat

Hermione said...

Leigh - I think she enjoys watching.

Ella - Good idea. She could use some consolation from the young man.

Ronnie - Very harsh, I agree. I suspect the father is too busy with business in the city to deal with domestic issues.

Roz - You are excused :)

Cat - Perhaps she gets a bonus for punishments.


Enzo said...

Thanks for another story Hermione.

26 strokes! I think it was rather harsh.

I like Ella’s idea of the young man finishing what he started.
Actually, what would have been really good is if he had followed her up to the house and witnessed her entire caning through the window. She would see him out of the corner of her eye and not only would she be embarrassed, but further excited knowing he was watching her bare bottom being disciplined. Needless to say he would be definitely ready to finish what he started as he climbed into her room later.

Season's Best,

Hermione said...

Enzo - That would have been a perfect ending to the tale.


Jenn said...

The book is "available" on Amazon, but for $152! For a Used copy!