Mr Livesey looked at the boy standing in front of him. Who was this boy?
He knew, of course, that Edgar was his son; but who was he?
They were at the Livesey family home and Edgar had just arrived back from school: expelled for stealing from the other pupils.
Mr Livesey had instructed the housemaid that Edgar must report to him at his study the moment he reached home and he was standing on the carpet in front of his desk, unable to look his father in the eye.
“Stop fidgeting; stand up straight!” Mr Livesey was exasperated. He realised he really did not know his son at all. Edgar had been sent to boarding school when he was eight and here he was now aged eighteen; no seventeen; yes, eighteen, expelled from school for stealing. In those intervening years he had hardly spoken to the boy.
This was no “Winslow Boy” story, a miscarriage of justice; Edgar had been caught red-handed, in the act of stealing, and had later confessed to a string of petty thefts.
Why did he do it? Sometimes they say behaviour like this was a “cry for help,” Mr Livesey thought. Well, Edgar would be crying for help by the time he had finished with him, that was for certain.
“I will not tell you again, stand still; hands by your side. Stand up straight,” he was losing patience with his son. Reluctantly, it seemed to Mr Livesey, Edgar made an attempt to please his father.
Edgar was dressed in his school uniform; this surprised Mr Livesey who had supposed the school would have stripped him of it. Rather like they did in armies when a solider was disgraced (for cowardice for example) and they tore off his epaulettes and broke his sword over the knee. At least, he thought, the school would have ripped the pocket badge from his blazer.
In fact, he realised, Edgar looked very smart in his uniform. Tupperley Manor was an exclusive school and it showed in their dress. Boys wore dark blue blazers, with wide lighter blue stripes and darker blue stripes within those. Mr Livesey would not know this, but his wife who paid the bills did, that the cloth was specially designed for the school. Nobody but a Tupperley schoolboy would ever wear a blazer like it.
Edgar had made an effort to look smart for his appearance before his father. His light grey trousers were immaculately creased. A pale blue shirt and tightly knotted tie, in the same design as the jacket, completed Edgar’s ensemble.
Mr Livesey looked his son up and down; he was a good looking young man, he concluded, very handsome indeed. Yes, he looked like a fine young man, but appearances could be deceptive: in fact, he was a boy of ruined character. What would his future now hold? It would be impossible to get him into a decent university. He might have to settle for secretarial college.
What kind of man would Edgar become? Would he be a bounder and a cad, ingratiating himself into women’s lives to take their rich pickings? Or worse; would be become a “gentleman’s” young companion?
Life might indeed become very difficult for Edgar. But these were not immediate considerations. For the moment Mr Livesey knew he had a duty to perform. His son had disgraced the whole family and not just himself. It was intolerable and for that he would be thrashed by his father.
Mr Livesey had spent little time with his son in the eighteen years the boy had been on earth and had never punished him before. Such duties were undertaken by others in his household. Mr Livesey had never beaten the boy before, but he knew now Edgar was eighteen, it would be the father’s duty – and he truly considered it to be his duty – to inflict corporal punishment. And, it would have to be something much more severe than an over-the-knee spanking with a hairbrush.
Although Mr Livesey had never beaten Edgar, he had previously on more than one occasion taken a cane to the backside of his elder brother, Phillip.
Philip had never committed a crime as serious as stealing, but he had shown his parents a great deal of disrespect during his visits home during the school holidays. The boy seemed to forget that he was a child and had an obligation to obey his parents’ rules. In Mr Livesey’s book, a boy became a man when he reached the age of twenty-one and until then he remained a junior.
In his final year at school Philip had been made a prefect and the power it bestowed on him at Tupperley went to his head. Mr Livesey was not prepared to allow his eldest son to strut around the house as if he owned the place and when he overheard him reprimanding the servants in their daily duties, he could stand it no more.
So, eighteen years old or not, Mr Thomson took Philip to his study, verbally tore him off a strip, ordered him over the back of a chair and then ripped into his backside with a heavy cane. Philip might be a bit too big for his boots, but he took his beating without question and his father admired him for that.
He laid on six stingers across the seat of his trousers; the boy took his punishment stoically; screwing up his face as each cut bit home, but successfully suppressing his desire to yell out. When instructed to stand up, Philip’s face was pale and his eyes moist. The thrashing had hurt his son: Mr Livesey knew this from his own experience of the many beatings he received from his father and at school.
Now, it was Mr Livesey’s duty to beat his younger son Edgar. He knew the boy was expecting such a punishment, so the preliminaries could be kept to a minimum.
He lectured the boy about the disgrace he had brought on his mother, his father, his brother and his younger sister. Edgar stayed quiet; there was not much he could say, everything his father told him was true. Edgar, like his father, could not understand why he had stolen from his friends, but there was no doubting the fact that he was a thief and deserved to be punished.
The lecture over, Edgar watched Mr Livesey open a drawer in his desk, and out of the boy’s eyesight, fish around inside. He could hear the sounds of something rattling inside the drawer as his father extracted a long whippy rattan cane. Edgar was very well acquainted with such rods and quickly sized it up. It wasn’t as vicious as some that had slashed open his bottom at school, but it was nonetheless a highly effective cane and, in the right hands, would inflict upon him considerable agony.
Mr Livesey flexed the rattan between his hands. He rarely touched his canes so felt he needed to get its measure. He scythed it through thin air to feel its weight. It was the same cane he had used to beat Philip and he knew it could pack a considerable punch. His eldest son had felt its full force and had been left with an agonised throbbing backside. And, that, Mr Livesey thought, was with the benefit of trousers. Edgar would have no such protection; his caning must be on the bare.
“Take down your trousers and underpants and bend across my desk.” It was a cool command and Mr Livesey expected Edgar to obey instantly. So, it annoyed him greatly when his son made no attempt to move.
“At once!” said so sharply that Edgar visibly shook, but he remained rooted to the spot.
Anger was rising in his father. He strode across the study grabbed the boy by the shoulder and pushed him towards the desk.
He stood a foot behind his son and commanded once more, “Trousers and pants down,” fully intending to rip the clothes off the boy if he refused.
His father watched on as, with trembling hands, Edgar released the catch of his grey trousers and let them fall to the floor. Mr Livesey was not ready for what he saw.
The buttock area of the boy’s white cotton underpants was covered in blood.
“What is this?” Mr Livesey asked, even though he already knew the answer. Edgar blushed to his roots, too embarrassed to answer.
Without a word Mr Livesey reached forward and gripped the waist of the boy’s underpants intending to pull them down, but dried blood had glued them to Edgar’s buttocks. Edgar yelped, jumping into the air as his father struggled to bare his bottom. Eventually, with some force the pants gave way, showing Edgar’s buttocks were like a scarred battlefield criss-crossed with welts, some as thick as a man’s fingers and covered in the dry blood that had seeped from the wounds. His bottom looked very sore and swollen.
It was obvious that the boy had been severely flogged. It was impossible to tell from the mashed up flesh how many lashes had been inflicted, but Mr Livesey believed that probably a dozen strokes had pounded into the cheeks.
Edgar was pleased his father did not interrogate him. He did not want to reveal that he had been caned on his bare bottom in front of the whole school and that he had howled the roof of the chapel off. Even now several hours after the ordeal his backside throbbed with the pain; he was in so much agony he still found it difficult to stand up straight never mind sit down. He had stood in the train the whole way home, even though there were many vacant seats. He was so humiliated he was certain all the other passengers knew why it was impossible for him to sit.
“Get dressed, Edgar.” If the boy thought his father had relented in his intention to inflict a further beating he was mistaken. “We will have to wait for the wounds to heal before I beat you. Go upstairs and wash yourself and ask Mrs Featherstone for some antiseptic cream, but do not tell her why you need it.”
The next morning, although he was still sore most of the sting and burning had gone, the stripes went from red to black and then yellow over the next few days but it was almost two weeks before the marks went completely and Edgar found himself once more standing on the carpet in his father’s study.
There was no ceremony. Over the past two weeks Edgar had hardly seen his father, he could not be sure but he thought he had been deliberately avoiding him. There was no love or affection between the two; Mr Livesey was as distant from his son Edgar as any of the schoolmasters at his former school.
His father took the cane from his desk drawer and once again ordered his son to bare his buttocks and bend over. This time obediently Edgar dropped his trousers and underpants and stretched himself meekly across the desk. He kept his head down and raised his naked bottom high in a most humiliating and submissive position to allow his father to whip them to shreds.
Mr Livesey stood behind him flexed the cane then spoke coldly, “I shall deliver twelve strokes. They will be hard and very painful, but I expect you to remain over the desk. If you stand or reach behind you I shall give that stroke again and add an extra penalty one.”
Then suddenly the cane whipped down biting his bottom with a vengeance and leaving a distinctive red line.
Edgar puffed and then squealed as the sting kicked in. A second stroke followed rapidly, then a third, then a fourth. He chewed his lip and held on with stoic willpower. He almost lost his resolve to stay down after the fifth stroke burned into his fleshy cheeks. By number eight, the boy could not control himself and he yelled blue murder as each following blow whipped home.
Then SWISH! The final slice was terrific and pitiless.
“Stand up and go” It was over. There was no more to be said.
Edgar somehow raised himself off the desk, his hands gripping tight onto his blazing buttocks. Hardly waiting to get his pants and trousers back on properly, he wiped away a tear and walked rather stiffly to the door and left. He remained outside the study door for a couple of minutes with hands clamped onto his throbbing cheeks as he gently massaged the sting in.
Then he heard Mrs Featherstone’s footsteps and not wanting her to see him in this state, walked slowly to his bedroom trying to stop his underwear rubbing too much against the weals that were rising.
There he laid face down on the bed shorts and pants peeled down to allow the cool air to circulate around his burning bum cheeks and sobbed into his pillow.
Other stories you might like.
More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website
Charles Hamilton the Second