Arthur wasn’t fit enough to scale the high wall; he knew that, and the beer he had drunk that night wasn’t making it any easier.
But, he had no choice. He was late back to College and had missed “gating”: the formal locking-up of the university for the night.
He wasn’t the only student in the history of Brakestone who had climbed the wall to escape a penalty, but it was Arthur’s first time. Never in the three years he had been up at the university did he need to.
Puffing profusely he reached the top of the wall, waited a few seconds and then fell the other side, landing in prickles.
“Blast!” he exclaimed, rather too loudly, considering his illegal entry was intended as a clandestine manoeuvre. He had scratched his arm rather badly and it hurt like crazy. But, it wasn’t the only pain he would feel that night before he was able, in agony, to crawl into bed.
Arthur’s amateurish attempt to break in to the College had alerted Laine, the night porter. Laine always expected undergraduates to try to break the curfew and he saw it as his solemn duty to catch them. For hours after lock-up at 11pm, Laine would prowl the perimeter of the college grounds. The wall was not very long and there were only two strategic points over which a young man could climb. Like the Canadian Mounties, Laine always got his man.
Tonight was no exception. Before Arthur could disentangle himself from the brambles, Laine shone a torch in his face. The night porter did not recognise the young man; he was not one of his regulars. He looked forward to making his acquaintance in the porter’s lodge.
Laine offered Arthur his hand. “Come on matey, get on your feet.”
Arthur immediately saw by Laine’s uniform that he was a college servant. He was outraged. “Matey! How dare you! You call me Sir!”
Laine smiled inwardly, “Alright if that’s the way you want it.”
Aloud he said, “Would Sir like to accompany me to the porter’s lodge?”
Arthur caught the sarcasm in his voice. “No I would not, I’m going to bed.” Little did Arthur realise it, but he was digging himself a hole and it was getting deeper and deeper each time he spoke.
“I’m afraid you must come with me, Sir. If I am very much mistaken you are an undergraduate of this college and you have made a forced entry into the grounds because you missed curfew. In such cases, there is a procedure that we must follow. Please, come with me.”
“Piss off, I’m going to bed.”
Laine was not shocked. He had met many arrogant students in the twenty or so years he had been night porter and he knew by the time he finished with them they soon changed their tune. He would knock the arrogance out of this one too, he thought. Indeed, he relished the prospect.
Arthur shook himself free of Laine and made to leave. He was astonished when the night porter smacked him across the face, grabbed him by the hair and frogmarched him to the lodge.
The lodge was really two rooms, outside was a reception area where visitors would report and students would receive their personal mail. Behind, was quite a large room used by the porters as an office-cum-sitting room.
“Sit down there, Sir, and please be quiet,” Laine had not lost his sarcastic tone.
Arthur was not finished yet. “You cannot hold me here against my will. It is false imprisonment.” He always had been pompous, even as a small boy. The servants at his father’s country estate despised him for it. They would have very much enjoyed seeing how the college night porter dealt with the self-important prick.
“Sir, it is my duty to take details of your name and your room number. In the morning I shall report you to the College Master and you will be disciplined with a fine and gating. I shall also report that you used an obscene word towards me and you will almost certainly be suspended from the college.”
Arthur’s temper subsided a little. The ghastly man was right. Why had he sworn at the fellow? He was in big trouble now. He couldn’t possibly be sent down for the rest of the term. It would disgrace his family and father would certainly flog him with his stout Malacca cane, twenty-two years old or not. And, it would be severe, bare-bottomed certainly, and no less than a dozen hard stokes; more possibly.
“I’m most terribly sorry, I really should not have sworn at you,” Arthur hoped he could use what he believed to be his upper-class charm on the fellow. After all, these working chaps were decent people, weren’t they?
“No you shouldn’t, Sir,” was Laine’s very curt reply.
This wasn’t going to work, Arthur realised, and he wished he had money in his pocket to offer the man a bribe.
The two men lapsed into silence, while Laine went to fetch an official College pad, so he could take details. He flamboyantly brandished the pad and his ballpoint pen, making sure Arthur knew precisely how much trouble he was in. “Now Sir can I have the details?”
Desperately, Arthur made one more try. “Now come on Sir is this really necessary?” he resented that he had been forced into calling a servant “Sir”, but he absolutely, definitely, did not want his behaviour this evening to reach his father’s ears.
“How do you mean, Sir?” Laine did have an alternative option, but he was going to make sure the arrogant tow-rag begged for it.
“I don’t know, perhaps, you would be kind enough to give me a second chance?”
“Let you off, Sir? Why should I do that, Sir?”
“Well, see,” Arthur did not have a ready response but managed to splutter, “Eh, it is my first offence.”
That was true, Laine said he could concede that, but Arthur could not be allowed to get away scot-free and what about the obscenity?
Arthur felt he had lost: the man was unreasonable, but that’s the working class for you, they envy their social betters and at the first chance that comes along they turn on them.
He was resigning himself to his fate. Then Laine threw him the lifeline.
“At your school Sir, what happened to boys who missed lock-up?”
Arthur was confused, “My school?”
“Yes Sir, at school.”
Laine could remember very clearly indeed. It had only happened to him once, but he would remember the consequences for the rest of his life. He and his three sixth-form schoolchums were sent to the housemaster. They were required to take down trousers and underpants and each in turn was instructed to bend across the housemaster’s large desk. He took their backsides off with six stingers with an ashplant cane. He laid it on extra hard: they were sixth-formers, eighteen years old for Heaven’s sake, they should be setting the younger boys an example. Arthur had never experienced so much agony before. He didn’t think it was even possible for one human being to inflict so much pain on another.
All the boys had six seeping welts on their bottoms when they hobbled out of the study. He remembered he could hardly walk to the dormitory where the four of them bathed one another’s scorched buttocks in cold water. There was a lot of bravado at the time, there always was with boys who had been thrashed, but Arthur was broken by the beating. It took a week for the welts to clear and several more days for the bruising to go. The pain and the humiliation were intense: he vowed he would never break the rules again. And, until tonight, he had managed to keep his promise.
Tonight had been a misadventure. He was at the Goat’s Head pub, which was not one of his usual haunts. He’d never been there before: it had a “reputation” and a gentleman would not want to be tainted by its bad character. There had been this boy, a pretty young thing with piercing blue eyes and hair in ringlets. Arthur felt such happiness when they held each other’s hands, which increased ten-fold when in the alleyway they hugged. That bliss was shattered when the boy demanded ten shillings for a hand job or a pound for oral.
Arthur fled and didn’t stop until he reached the Coach and Horses, where he drank too much gin before returning to College, a long time after curfew.
Arthur told Laine about the housemaster’s canings, but did not confess that he had once been the victim of a brutal beating and the terror he felt of it being repeated.
“So would you like me to beat you Sir?”
Arthur genuinely had missed the point and said so.
Laine explained, “Are you asking that I beat you Sir for your breaking of the rules and using obscene language?”
Arthur was beginning to cotton on. “The cane?”
“No Sir, not the cane. I use something else,” so saying he opened a drawer in the desk and pulled out a large heavy brush. Arthur didn’t recognise what it was, but could see the bristles were made of steel wire. It would rip his buttocks to shreds.
Laine saw Arthur’s face. “Don’t worry Sir, I use the wooden side.”
Arthur looked blank.
“You must say it, Sir. You must ask me to beat you.”
Arthur was swelling up with rage, but it would soon be surpassed with humiliation.
“Sir you must say it. And, say it nicely.”
Arthur thought he was going to cry, even before the first whack had contacted with his bum.
This was killing him, “Please would you beat me?”
“Why should I do that?”
Arthur was totally defeated, “Because I broke curfew.” There was a pause before Arthur found the courage to continue, “And, because I swore at you.”
“Yes, of course I shall. You deserve a very sound spanking and I shall ensure that you get it.”
With no further conversation, Laine moved a chair into the centre of the room. He sat down with his legs firmly planted on the floor and parted eighteen inches or so.
“I always ask the gentlemen to take down their trousers and underwear. There is no need to take them off completely, they can stay down at your ankles.”
Always ask? Arthur was baffled: he had done this before? Indeed, he had. Hardly a Friday or Saturday night concluded without one or more College undergraduates going over Laine’s lap for a bare-bottomed tanning.
Arthur thought about fleeing. He wouldn’t be able to stand a spanking from the servant: the pain and the humiliation would be too much. But, it wouldn’t be anything compared to a flogging from his father.
He tried to negotiate, “How many smacks will you give me?”
Smacks: Laine liked that. He did not give love-taps, the boy’s backside would be blistered and raw and running with sores before he finished.
“I haven’t got all night. Trousers, underwear down. Now!”
Arthur felt he was in a trance or it was an out-of-body experience. It must have been somebody else who unbuckled his belt, undid the buttons of his trousers, pushed them to the floor and then sent his underpants in the same direction. Then, taking a deep breath, he lowered himself slowly across the old man’s lap.
Of all the sensations he was to feel that night, one that stuck in Arthur’s mind was the smell of paraffin. He was almost overcome by its aroma; he supposed it must have been in Laine’s clothes somewhere.
The agony was intense. Some people say that a bare-bottom spanking laid on with force by a strong man with much experience, using a heavy brush or paddle, will leave the boy convinced he has sat on a hot coal fire.
Arthur was inclined to agree. Laine laid the brush on with brio, the first thirty slashes landed in the space of twenty-five seconds. That was enough to have Arthur howling! Laine pinned the undergraduate down at the legs and midriff so that he couldn’t move from his tormentor’s lap, nor could he wave his hands to intercept the blows. Laine truly was an expert spanker and Arthur was totally under his control.
Laine enjoyed whipping Arthur. He had only met the young man fifteen minutes earlier, but had already developed a hatred for him. The arrogant little so-and-so deserved all he was getting – and more.
Arthur yelled so forcefully, Laine feared if he might be heard in the rooms thirty yards away where the students and some masters were sleeping. He would take that risk: on and on and on he spanked his heavy wooden brush into buttocks that had already turned from scarlet to cherry. Blood was beginning to seep from wounds where fresh slashes of the brush landed on top of others.
Arthur was screaming his remorse, begging Laine for mercy. Not yet, Sir, Laine thought, not yet.
Laine was drenched in sweat; he had never beaten a boy so enthusiastically before. On and on he went until Arthur’s body went limp and the boy was silent.
Laine knew he hadn’t killed the boy, he could feel shallow breathing in the prostrate body. Contemptuously, he pushed Arthur from his lap so that he fell on the floor with a bump. Laine walked to a sink, filled a cup with water and threw the contents in the boy’s face. It revived him enough so that he could dress and on hands and knees drag himself to his room.
Arthur never missed curfew again, but he did revisit the Goat’s Head, this time making sure he had a full wallet.
Other stories you might like.
More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website
Charles Hamilton the Second