When my father died suddenly I inherited his large house in the English countryside. I also inherited the four young men who lived there as “paying guests.”
I was never close to my father. I was conceived as a “mistake” and in those days couples paid for their mistakes with forced weddings. It didn’t last of course and by the time I was seven years old my mother had taken herself off to the United States, never to be seen again. Father packed me off to boarding school and I spent most of my teen years at a school on the other side of the planet in South Africa. We hardly had contact in my adult years.
I was a little surprised to be included in his will, but maybe blood is thicker than water. I travelled up to the house in the Cotswolds and expected to spend a day or two tidying things up, before putting the house on the market and returning to my own home and family in London.
That was my plan, but in those few days my life was to change completely.
The four young men were all students at the nearby agricultural college. I didn’t know anything about their studies but judging by their ruddy complexions and strong sturdy bodies, much of the work they did was quite literally, “in the field.”
They were politeness personified when I arrived at the house and after offering condolences they left me alone to clear my father’s effects. It was more complicated than I had anticipated. Sudden deaths are by their nature unplanned. A person with a terminal illness or of advanced age can plan for their pending death. They can tidy their affairs and leave things orderly. My father died instantly in a motor accident. He went off in the morning, fully expecting to return home that afternoon. His “affairs” were untouched.
My father was a successful author, but you would never know his name. He wrote under a succession of pen names. His best-known creation was a rather simple police detective. The character had been taken up by a television company and was now in its thirteenth series. My father never wrote a word of the TV scripts, but each year he received an enormous cheque for doing nothing. That sounded like my kind of job.
I sat in the room he called his study and where I presume he wrote the three novels a year that he bashed out. They were the kind of books you bought in airport departure lounges, intending to read on the flight, but never bothered to finish. The drawers to his desk and most of the cupboards in the room were locked. I couldn’t find a key anywhere. I suppose he had it on him when he went for his drive. I would be able to get it eventually.
I was dozing in a chair when suddenly I was aware of a presence in the room. A rather stout old man, about my father’s age, had entered. He coughed politely to wake me from my slumbers. He was dishevelled and looked in need of a wash and shave. I was certain that I recognised him, but couldn’t summon up his name or recall where I had seen him.
He introduced himself as “the maid.” He paused for effect. I think he wanted me to laugh as if he had made a joke. I still couldn’t place him. It was beginning to irritate me. He said his name was Tony and he told me his job was to come to the house each day and cook an evening meal for my father and the four students.
I grunted a response. What had he expected me to say? He mumbled some sympathies about my father’s death and said he had better get on with his work. I could stand the suspense no longer and asked him where I had seen him before. He blushed like a virgin and replied that he had once had a major part in a long-running television crime drama. Oh, I thought, a washed-up actor, reduced to working as a domestic maid.
I went to my father’s bedroom. The bed had been made. I later learned that the lodgers each had domestic chores to perform. They were paying next to nothing in rent. It was one of the unusual features of their relationship with my father. And, I was soon to find out, it was not the only one.
There was nothing unusual about the room. Wardrobes and drawers were full of new, expensive clothes. He seemed to favour heavy tweed suits. Perhaps, he had a role in the community as a country squire. He must also have ridden to hounds; I saw a couple of leather riding crops tucked away on a shelf.
I would need to get Oxfam in to clear away his possessions, but there was no hurry. I had to first speak to the students and give them notice to quit. Once they were on their way, I could close up the house.
I went down to the kitchen at six o’clock, attracted by the smell of cooking beef. Tony was wrapped in a wrap-round pinafore. He looked like a nineteen-fifties’ housewife. But, it wasn’t his appearance that pulled me up. The four students were each dressed in grey shirts and closely knotted ties with green and red diagonal stripes. At first I thought it might be a uniform of their agricultural college. Then I noticed they were all wearing grey short trousers and grey knee socks with red bands at the top. The shorts were proper tailored trousers that reached to an inch or so above the knee. They weren’t the kind of leisure shorts people wore in hot weather, they were trousers that were short.
They were dressed in school uniform. Eighteen and nineteen-year-old men dressed as schoolboys. I supposed there was a perfectly reasonable explanation for this. Were they dressed for a party? Was the Young Farmers’ Club holding a school disco later that evening? Such events had become very poplar, but I thought the point was that the men dressed as schoolgirls in gym slips and the girls dressed as boys.
The sight of the boys reminded me of my own schooldays. I had boarded in South Africa during the dying days of Apartheid. My school was in the middle of nowhere in the hottest part of the country’s interior. Boys wore English-style school uniforms, but were permitted to wear short trousers up until the day they left school, aged eighteen or nineteen. It was perfectly sensible. The temperatures could be intense, who would want to wear long trousers?
I must have stared a little too long at the agricultural students because Tony piped up, “They are wearing them in remembrance of your father.” As if that was any explanation at all.
I decided not to stay the night at the house. I could have slept in my father’s bed, but felt uneasy. I know he hadn’t actually died in that bed, but in some way that I didn’t really understand, I thought his spirit was still there.
Next day after collecting the missing keys from the police station, I returned to the house. It was deserted. I supposed the boys were at college and Tony the maid was not due until late in the afternoon.
There were many keys. Each drawer and each cupboard had its own unique lock. The drawers contained business correspondence and private documents. His passport said he was born in 1951. That puzzled me. I was born in 1968. Had he been that young when I was conceived?
I had to try three different keys before I could get a tall cupboard attached to rows of bookshelves to open. The door was stiff and I had to pull it vigorously before it would yield. As I did this I could hear a faint rattling inside the cupboard, as if something had been disturbed from its mooring.
I think my mouth quite literally gaped open when I saw the cupboard’s contents. It was empty except for three crook-handled rattan canes. My heart pounded. Suddenly I was transported in my mind back to 1986. Me and eleven other school prefects, lined up outside the headmaster’s study. He was a new headmaster; he did not like what he called “slack attitudes” in behaviour. He felt the prefects were not setting an example. So each boy was called in to the study. I could remember it as if it were only yesterday. Me, aged eighteen, standing in front of the headmaster. It was as always a sweltering hot day, but the old rogue was dressed in a heavy tweed suit. Across his back and shoulders was draped an academic gown. On his head he wore a mortar-board cap. He looked every inch like a headmaster from an English elite public school from sixty years previously.
I had not been the first of the prefects to enter the study that day. I thought I knew perfectly well what was going to happen. Trubshaw Major had been first in. All we boys standing in the passageway heard the swish and the crack of the cane. We heard the Trubshaw’s yelps and a little later we saw the tearful boy hobble from the study. It had been “six canes” as we called it. Six-of-the-best, to an English schoolboy.
I saw the headmaster flex his cane between his hand and point it to a low backed leather armchair. “Oh well, this is it, over the top,” I thought to myself, imagining I was a soldier in the trenches about to go into battle. “It couldn’t be that bad …”
But it was. “Take down your trousers and place yourself over the chair,” the headmaster barked. A slight smile played around his lips, as my father might have written in one of his cheap novels. The old bastard of a headmaster was enjoying himself a little too much.
In the chill of my father’s study, I still remembered how with trembling hands I snapped open my elasticated snake belt and fumbled with the two buttons on the waistband of my short trousers. I released the zipper and the short trousers slipped down my thighs, over my knees and fell in a puddle over my sandals. I was extremely conscious of my cock and balls encased in the soft cotton of my white underpants.
I had a sizeable “manhood.” I had plenty of opportunity to compare it with my fellows. We were an enclosed all-male community and by the age of eighteen extremely sex-starved. As far as I knew there was no sodomy at the school, but we all masturbated like troopers. We would have contests to see who could come the quickest and the highest. The boys would have competitions between the various nationalities at the school. Dear reader, I wanked for England.
The headmaster was now amusing himself by swishing the cane through the air. I eyed the cane apprehensively. It was a little more than three feet in length, dark yellow in colour and springy as hell. It was as thick as a pencil and I could see ridges every three or four inches along its length. It was an awesome weapon. It could take my arse off.
And it did. I stretched myself across the low-backed chair. The smooth soles of my sandals slipped on the carpet and I was forced to readjust myself. Soon, I was positioned head down, back arched, feet firmly apart. My stomach hovered a few inches above the chair back and my bottom was perfectly positioned to receive the slashes of the headmaster’s cane.
I felt his rough hand push the tail of my shirt away from his target area. Then he rubbed his palm across both of my buttocks. He probably told himself that he was smoothing the creases out of my cotton underpants so that they fitted like a second skin and thereby increased the pain of the cane. He might have believed that, but to me it felt like he was touching me up.
It went quiet for a second, then there was an almighty swooshing sound followed by a crack when the cane bit deep into my backside. I could feel a deep line of pain across the very centre of my cheeks and a welt immediately formed. He had hit me with such power I think he was trying to enter the cane into my body through my buttocks and exit it through my groin.
He slashed six cuts into my bottom. Never before had I felt such pain. I gripped the seat of the leather chair so tightly my knuckles turned white. I howled and I howled. Tears flooded down my face. Vomit rose in my throat and I had to choke it back down. My entire body shook, wracked with agony.
The cane marks lasted several weeks. Thompson, a keen amateur photographer, kept a pictorial record of the colour changes day after day. I wonder what ever happened to those pictures. They would be an Internet sensation if they were uploaded now.
I closed the door and unlocked the others in the room. I was not surprised to see a schoolmaster’s academic gown and cap in one. An image was beginning to form in my mind. I had seen four students dressed in short trousers and school uniform; one master’s gown and three whippy rattan school canes. I was not a one of my father’s fictional detectives, but even I could see a pattern emerging here.
I had to return to my family and job in London for a few days. I worked as a liberal studies lecturer in a community college. I hated it. It was full of students too stupid or lazy to get A-levels and go to university. They were just treading water until they ran out of options and had to join the unemployment line. Now my father was dead, I stood to inherit a lot of money. Perhaps, I could ditch the lousy job once and for all.
Father had left a will, I got the house and my two daughters got a trust fund. There was a legacy for a school / academy that I’d never heard of in Herefordshire, plus small amounts for people I supposed were friends. It wasn’t clear who would get the future royalties on the television show and his books. I hoped it would be me.
I returned to the house unannounced on the following Sunday afternoon. My wife had pestered me all week for details of the garden. The house was in an acre or so of land and somebody put a great deal of work into its upkeep. What I knew about plants and shrubs could be written on the head of a pin, so I was unable to answer her questions. To keep the peace, I agreed to take some photographs for her. I could feel a late summer storm arriving, so I decided to take the snapshots before entering the house and announcing my arrival to the four lodgers.
I can report that there were a lot of pinkish shrubs and some dark blue and purple flowers. There was also a sizeable piece of manicured lawn. It was while standing on the grass that I realised I had a perfect view into my father’s study. Inside I could see Tony the maid and one of the agricultural students. To preserve discretion, I shall call him “Tom.” Tom was dressed in a rather splendid green school blazer with red edging around the pockets and cuff. He was wearing his short trousers and knee socks. Tony appeared to be very cross with the boy. From my distance I could not hear what they were saying, but Tony did look rather vexed. Tom for his part shuffled uneasily from one foot to the other, clearly embarrassed by the encounter.
The conversation, which had been rather one-sided, appeared to be over and Tony walked to the cupboard, dug deep into his trouser pocket, and extracted a key. Meanwhile, Tom stared intently at the carpet beneath his feet.
Tony extracted one of my father’s rattan canes, peered at it closely as if seeing it for the first time and replaced it in the cupboard. He took out a second cane, which seemed to satisfy his needs, since he closed the cupboard then turned to Tom and gave the rattan rod an almighty swish.
I could feel a slight tightening in the front of my underpants. I had been unable to get that memory of my trip to the headmaster’s study out of my mind. I confess that the previous day while in the shower I polished one off while visualising my eighteen-year-old self, my short-trousers at the ankles, my tighty-whitey underpants snug against my raised pert bum, submissively welcoming the lash of the headmaster’s cane.
In my father’s study, Tony tapped the cane against the leather-topped desk. Tom evidentially had been in this position before. Without further instruction, he took a step forward, reached his arms ahead of him to grip the far end of the desk and slowly lowered his body across it, so that his chest was flat against the leather and his stomach rested on its shiny wooden edge.
I had the perfect view of his terrific buttocks. Tom was close to six feet tall. He was stocky without being fat. His thighs were bulky; I wondered if he played much rugby. His short trousers which normally fell to an inch above his knees had risen up, displaying a large area of naked flesh.
I half expected Tony to open the other cupboard and dress himself up in the headmaster’s academic gown. But, he was content in the rather staid dark grey “Sunday suit” he was wearing.
He tapped his swishy cane across the centre of Tom’s bottom. I saw it all. I saw how Tony found his aim, then raised the cane away from the tightly-fitting grey short trousers. Then I saw him whip the cane down with a kind of forearm smash. A nanosecond before the rod connected with the grey polyester / wool material Tony produced the merest flick of the wrist to send the cane whipping into the teenager’s meaty backside.
Tom gasped. He might have yelped a little, I could not tell. The window of the study was closed and I was later to discover the room had been expertly sound-proofed. The cane rose and fell again. Tom wriggled his body and kicked his legs. He had most certainly felt that stroke.
Tony delivered an exemplary six-of-the-best. I could not compare it to the caning my headmaster administered to me, since I had only witnessed Tony in action, I had yet to feel the full force of his strength.
Tom rose from the desk when instructed. He looked crestfallen. He had not enjoyed the experience one little bit, but he remained stoical throughout. I could not see any evidence of tears. Tony lectured him some more and then dismissed him from the study. Almost immediately his companion “Dick” entered. He too was dressed in a smart green and red blazer.
He’s misbehaviour must have been more shameful than his partner. Tony was tearing the student off a strip. The nineteen-year-old had no response. Whatever was his crime, he was guilty as charged. He offered nothing in mitigation.
The cane swished through empty air, but this time Tony instructed Dick to remove his blazer and lay it on the desk. Tony pointed his cane at a rather expensive looking light brown armchair. Its leather glistened in the afternoon sunlight. Dick approached the back of the chair. He was perhaps a little shorter than Tom, but I could see he would fit rather well across the chair’s back, with his hands resting on the soft seat cushion.
But Dick was not quite ready to assume the position. I gasped and my cock stood to full attention when Dick unfastened his short trousers and allowed them to fall to his feet. Because the teenager was dressed in old-fashioned school uniform, I had expected that he would be wearing traditional white Y-front cotton underpants. Nothing could be further than the truth; he sported a rather garish pair of red-patterned Calvin Klein briefs, which did little to cover his large penis. Dick by name …. I suppose.
He dived over the back of the chair. His briefs were useless as protection. At least half of each buttock cheek was bare. Had the stupid boy not been expecting to be beaten that afternoon? If he had any sense he would have worn his loosest Boxer shorts.
Again, I had a superb view as Tony went about his work. He was some kind of expert. He laid a stroke at full force across the centre line of the buttocks and then each successive cut fell below that line. The last two strokes bit into bare flesh. It was slow, accurate and hard. He must have inflicted maximum pain. Dick’s back and shoulders heaved and his legs stamped up and down.
When his ordeal was over, he hopped from foot to foot like a Red Indian in a terrible B-movie Western. I noticed that like Tom, he had successfully held back tears. If it had been me I should be crying rivers.
Painfully, he reached down for his short trousers and with obvious discomfort pulled them over his scorching buttocks. He was summarily dismissed from the study. I waited, still watching. I knew there were four paying guests in the house. I fully expected that “Harry” would be the next boy through the door.
But nobody came. Instead, Tony walked to the cupboard intending to replace the cane. I do not know what attracted his attention, but he suddenly looked out of the study window. He saw a startled me looking back at him. I do not know why I looked and felt so guilty. I was like a small boy found trespassing in the garden. A village urchin intent on stealing apples from a tree.
Tony saw the camera in my hand and jumped to the wrong conclusion. He rushed from the study and seconds later confronted me on the lawn. He waved his cane in my face menacingly. He accused me of taking photographs of the canings in the study. He calmed down a little when I showed him the back of the camera and scrolled though the images I had taken. They were all entirely innocent. There were no trousers-down beatings, merely flowers and shrubs.
Suddenly, there was a rumble of thunder and heavy rain fell. He ushered me inside the house. We sat in the kitchen waiting for the kettle to boil. He still had the cane and rested it on a work surface. I could not keep my eyes off it. I was out of sorts. My cock had softened, but I knew that before I left for home I should have to use the bathroom – and not to go to the toilet.
We sat sipping coffee. It was some instant muck and tasted bitter. I put the mug down, pretending I was waiting for it to cool. I wanted – no I needed to know. What was it that I had just witnessed in the study? An elderly man had severely caned two young students. Why? What had they done to deserve it? Why had they let him do it?
The way Tony explained it made it all seem perfectly natural. Why wouldn’t they submit to a caning? They knew the rules of the house.
I had surmised correctly earlier; this had not been the first time either of them had been dealt with by Tony. Every Sunday after church they would have what Tony described as “The Reckoning.” This was an occasion for each of the lodgers to atone for their bad behaviour during the week. There might be quite a list: curfews missed, household chores unattended, bad language spoken. Each boy was expected to reveal the grades they received in college essays and projects. Woe betides the student whose grade had slipped.
I was transfixed. What a wonderful idea. I tried to conceal my feelings but Tony had a gift as a mind reader.
“So tell me, what must you atone for?” He spoke softly. I lost some control. I told him about my work, how I hated it so much, I did as little lesson preparation as possible. I never took trouble with my students. I constantly rowed with my wife and scolded the children for trivial reasons. I had a stand-up row with the guy in the newsagents because he had sold the last copy of the Daily Mail before I arrived.
As I spewed out my litany of misdeeds, I saw in my mind’s eye Tom and Dick in the study, each accepting a thrashing. I knew I wanted to be horizontal across that leather-topped desk. Showing my arse to Tony. I wanted it. No, more than that; I needed it.
Tony said very little. I looked closely into his eyes, trying to figure out his thoughts. He must have concluded, “Like father, like son,” because he turned his head slightly and nodded towards the cane near the draining board.
My affirmation was unspoken. He stood up from his chair and reached for the cane, grasping it close to its crook handle. I cannot fully remember my feeling at that moment. It might have been dread. It might have been excitement. Possibly, it was confusion. I think I wanted him to beat me, I wanted to submit to his authority, but I am not sure I wanted to experience intense pain.
I was soon to find out.
Tony held the cane in his right hand and wobbled it in my face. My head remained steady but my eyes moved up and down as they followed the rod’s progress. Then he gently flexed the rattan rod between both hands. He tucked the cane under his armpit and I watched as he removed the coffee mugs from a small wooden kitchen table and put them in the sink. Then he took hold of a small chair that was tucked under the table and moved it into the centre of the room.
He slipped the cane into his hand and said, “Bend over the table.” It was a quiet and calm command and it set my heart racing. I could feel the blood rush to my face. My fingertips tingled, a sure sign of blood pressure problems.
Ridiculously, I hesitated. I had spotted a small spot of liquid coffee on the table. I thought it might stain my shirt if I leaned across it.
“Pah!” Tony snorted and smeared a tea towel across the table’s surface.
“Over!” It was a sterner command this time. I took a deep breath and slowly lowered myself. It was a small table and my nose rested on the far edge leaving me staring down at the worn grey-patterned floor tiles. My legs were spread apart by about twelve inches and my groin was pressing into the near side.
The absurdity of this situation was lost on me. I was a forty-something married man spread across a kitchen table waiting for my father’s male maid to beat my backside with a whippy school cane. I felt Tony tap the cane across the right cheek of my stretched chinos. He must have been taking his aim. I shut my eyes tightly and gripped the far edge of the table. Memories of the headmaster’s flogging were fresh in my mind.
Tony smacked the cane across both my buttocks. It tingled a little, but I could not say it hurt. He thwiped a second stroke a little lower. Again, I felt it connect with my bum, but I was not in pain. Oh no! I didn’t say anything, but I realised the awful truth. He was not treating me like the lodgers. Tom and Dick had suffered butt-blistering canings. I craved for the same. My disappointment was passionate.
He put six strokes across my backside, but never in anyone’s wildest imaginations could they be described as “six-of-the-best.” He instructed me to rise. I hauled myself off the table. I wanted to complain, to tell him I had been short-changed. I wanted him to go again. To give me another caning. Only this time to do it properly.
I had no time to protest. Tony got the first word in. “Now, you understand the rules of the house. There will be no excuses for your future behaviour.”
I drew in breath. I looked at the cane in Tony’s hand; the one that had failed to satisfy my desires. I began to understand how the man’s mind worked.
“We hold The Reckoning every Sunday afternoon,” he looked down at the cane in his hand as he spoke. “I shall expect to see you next week.”
He walked from the room and as I watched him go, I saw through the kitchen window Tom and Dick standing. Each sported the widest grins I had ever seen.
I drove back to London with one thought on my mind. Where could I buy authentic school short trousers that would fit me?
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More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website
Charles Hamilton the Second