Julian thought Uncle Dick was a queer fellow. He was the most extraordinary looking man, very tall and very dark and with a rather fierce frown on his wide forehead. Julian couldn’t help shivering the very first time he saw him and it wasn’t even a cold day.
“Hello Uncle,” he said in his usual cheerful sing-song voice. But Uncle Dick just shrugged his shoulders and hurried through the house into the back garden.
“Oh don’t fret about him,” Aunt Fanny smiled, her round red face beaming. “He’s off to his shed.” She bustled off into the kitchen. Julian stood in the dark room. It was old and rather mysterious somehow, the furniture was ancient, he might have been standing in an antique shop.
Just then Uncle Dick returned into the house, his frown was even more deep set. “Where’s Timothy,” he growled.
“Oh the naughty boy, I told him to wait in the garden for you,” Aunt Fanny smiled and wringed her hands. “Now he’s gone off somewhere.”
“He needs a good spanking,” said Uncle Dick. Julian blushed to the roots of his hair. Surely Uncle Dick was joking. “Send him to me the moment he returns,” Uncle Dick’s brow furrowed some more and his dark eyes glowered as he rushed out the door striding towards his shed. Aunt Fanny stood around like she wasn’t sure what she should do and then wandered absent-mindedly into the kitchen. Julian could smell the wonderful aroma of baking bread.
Minutes passed and Julian waited unsure what he was supposed to do. His heavy suitcase rested against his bare leg. He was very excited to be staying with Uncle Dick and Aunt Fanny and his two cousins for the summer. Oh, he thought, wouldn’t it be marvellous! In the country, away from the hot and smoky city.
It had been a very long time before the train reached the little station that served Curran, but at last it was there steaming slowly and stopping at the tiny platform. He jumped out eagerly to see if anyone had come to meet him. No – the station was deserted. Suddenly, he felt so lonely. Where was Camp Cottage, the home of his aunt and uncle? He didn’t even have a proper address. Just Camp Cottage, Curran, Westmoreland. How did the postman know where to deliver his letters? Oh, Julian supposed, this was the country, perhaps everyone knew everyone else. Someone would surely know the way.
But who could he ask? The station seemed abandoned. Luckily, it was a bright sunny day. If it had been the middle of winter with fog swirling and rain teeming, poor Julian would have felt very lonely. It would be like he was in the middle of a ghost story instead of in a delightful summery tale. He sat down on his huge suitcase to have a good think. He was really hungry and more than a little thirsty. If he didn’t get to Camp Cottage soon, he might die of starvation.
Julian felt miserable. Was this holiday such a good idea after all? When his father told him he and mother were taking a trip through Europe, Julian thought it was a queer thing to do. Most of the big cities had been bombed to smithereens, what was there to see? But mother and father were very religious and thought they could spread the word of God among the peasant people.
“Sorry, Ju,” Father had said, “But you can’t come with us. It might be too dangerous.” Julian had been delighted. He didn’t want to spend summer among the ruins of Europe. And anyway, he would have the house to himself. Wouldn’t that be fun! But Father had a different idea: Uncle Dick and his family.
“Blast!” Julian ejaculated when he heard the news. He wanted to tell Father, “Look I’m eighteen years old, practically an adult, I can look after myself.” But, he knew not to argue with his parents. They loved him and wanted the best for him. Besides, he hadn’t seen his cousins Timothy and George for simply ages. It really would be fun!
But just now, abandoned on the hot, dusty platform it didn’t seem like so much fun after all. Just then a wizened old man appeared at the end of the platform. My, Julian thought, he looks like he’s about to keel over and die. But, the teenager’s spirits bucked up. He was certain to know where Camp Cottage was.
Before Julian could ask directions, the old man spoke. “C’mon, young ’un, pick up your bag. Get moving.” My, Julian thought, what a rude old working-class man! He needs to learn some manners. The old man turned and slowly shuffled back in the direction he had come. Over his shoulder he wheezed, “Follow me.”
I suppose the queer old fellow is going to take me to Camp Cottage, Julian mused. He gripped the suitcase and pulled it along after him. Oh it was so heavy! What had mother packed? It felt like there was a dead body inside. The old fellow led him towards a small pony and trap. “Put yer bag in the back,” he growled. Julian paused for breath and stared at the small pony. It was almost as ancient as the old man. It would be a contest to see which of them expired first. Julian heaved his case onto the trap. As he was doing this a pungent odour wafted across his turned-up nose. “Oooh, poo!” he wanted to say out loud, but he was a polite boy and he kept his thought buttoned up. What a pong! Then he giggled, where was the smell coming from? Did the old man smell as awful as the pony?
Julian settled himself in the trap and off they went. It was a slow drive along narrow roads. The old man dozed in the heat. The pony seemed to know its way, it really didn’t need a driver! Julian watched the hedges slowly pass by. How beautiful! Oh he was pleased to be in the country! What fun this holiday would be! He hoped his cousins would be good sorts. Timothy was exactly his own age and George, two years older. They would have lots in common, wouldn’t they? What adventures they would have!
At last the pony and trap edged up to Camp Cottage. It was a very old house indeed. Julian’s father said it was at least three hundred years old. It wasn’t really a cottage, but quite a big house, built of old white stone. Roses climbed over the front of it and the garden was full of bushes.
Aunt Fanny had been waiting for them to arrive. She came stumbling out the old wooden door as soon as she saw the pony and trap draw up outside. “Welcome, welcome!” her red face beamed and she led Julian into the house.
Minutes went by and just as Julian thought he had been abandoned forever, a small rotund lady dressed in a wrap-around pinafore popped her head through the open doorway. “Hello, young Julian, I’m Joanne, the cook, come with me, I bet you’re hungry aren’t you?”
“Oh rather!” Julian smiled. “I could eat that pony outside!” He was a little disappointed when Joanne frowned and wrinkled her nose in disgust. “We’ll have none of that talk here Thank You Very Much.” Julian knew his face must be glowing with embarrassment and his ears felt hot as he followed the cook as she waddled to the kitchen.
Oh what a wonderful smell! A table groaned under the weight of a plate of freshly-baked buns and a great big iced cake. There was not much left after Julian had satisfied his hunger. Then he washed it all down with lashings of ginger beer.
He was working on the last crumbs when his cousin Timothy walked in. He did look flustered. “Hello,” he mumbled, looking with despair at the empty plates where the buns and cake had been. “None left for me then?” Timothy spoke softly. Julian blushed. What a greedy boy he was. He hadn’t thought to leave some buns and cake for his cousin.
“A condemned man is entitled to a last meal, isn’t he?” Timothy said mysteriously. Julian was about to ask him what he meant by that when Aunt Fanny bustled into the kitchen. “Timothy, you naughty boy! Your father is looking for you. You must report to him in the shed.”
Julian saw his cousin’s face go pale. “What now?” he blustered. “I thought I would show Julian his room and help him to get settled.”
Julian saw Aunt Fanny’s bright red face drop. “You know better than to keep your father waiting when he’s in one of his moods.”
Timothy sucked on his bottom lip, he plunged his hands into the pockets of his corduroy short trousers, and forced a determined look onto his face. Without a word, he turned on his heels and left the room.
Julian was puzzled. What was going on? He wanted to ask his Aunt Fanny but somehow he knew that would not be a good idea. He would ask Timothy later. When they were alone. Then he would discover the mystery!
Timothy walked slowly along the passageway of the house, heading for the back door and the garden. His hands made fists inside his pockets. His heart was beating just a little too fast. Suddenly, his throat was dry. How he wished he had swigged a bottle of ginger beer before he had left the kitchen.
His father’s shed was really a summer house. It was where he did his work. He hated to be in the house with his wife and children bustling around! It was even worse when they had visitors. How would he survive a whole summer with both his sons and a nephew cluttering up the place? Timothy walked slowly down the stone path. The gardener had recently mown the lawn and the scent of freshly-cut grass was everywhere. It tickled the back of his throat.
Timothy had made this journey many times before. It only took seconds to get to the shed from the house, but he tried to make the walk last as long as possible. Timothy knew what was waiting for him at the end of it! He wasn’t going to hurry.
He hesitated outside the door and slowly counted up to five in his head (one hippopotamus … two hippopotamus …). Finally, he took a deep breath and rapped his knuckles on the heavy wooden door. His father looked up from his writing at the knocking. He glanced at his watch. “About time too,” he fumed quietly. More loudly, he called, “Get in here. Now!”
He sat back and watched as slowly, the handle turned and the door inched open. “Come on in! Hurry up! I haven’t got all day!” he called irritably. Timothy stood hands deep in pockets, his head bowed. He could see the floor beneath his sandals was dusty. He waited patiently. He knew his father had a ritual at times like these. There was nothing Timothy could do. He had to let events take their course.
It started with the lecture. The summer holidays had started and that inevitably meant his school report had arrived. Timothy was a border at Albion School. His father liked it that way. It meant he did not have to see his son for weeks on end. But, the fees cost a small fortune and father wanted value for his money! Timothy was a disappointment. He was a bright boy but a little lazy and oh so full of mischief. If he spent as much time on his studies as he did playing pranks he would right now be coasting his way to the university. Instead, his father waved the school report above his head, rather like Mr Chamberlain on his way back from Munich.
“Maths, failed! History, failed! English language for pity’s sake, failed! Need I say more?” It wasn’t a question. His father could go on and on and on. Timothy stared down at the floor. “And take your hands out of your pockets!” Father roared. The eighteen-year-old removed them with tremendous haste. His palms were soaked with sweat. Without thinking, he rubbed them dry on the legs of his short trousers. The shed felt airless. Sweat soaked his scalp. His heart raced.
“This will not do. I have spent a fortune on school fees for nothing! What will become of you? You can’t get to university with this!” He waved the school report once more. “I doubt the Army will take you. Yee Gods, that just leaves the Clergy!” He hauled himself from his chair. Timothy’s eyes followed him as he stumbled across the shed to a far wall. He didn’t really need to watch for he already knew what was there. His father paused and turned to Timothy. “I have engaged a private tutor for the summer. You will retake your examinations in October and,” he paused for dramatic effect, “you will pass them.”
With that, he reached up to the wall and took down a block of wood that was hanging from a hook. It wasn’t just any block of wood. Timothy’s father had made it specially. It was about eight inches long and four wide. It was probably a quarter of an inch thick. What made it unusual was the handle that was attached to it and turned it from just a block of wood to a very effective punishment tool. It was what the American’s called a “paddle”. Timothy had laughed the first time he heard the term. A paddle! Why that was the long pole with a flipper at each end that you used to propel a canoe down the river!
But Father’s little paddle was no laughing matter. It had nothing to do with canoes. His father gripped the handle and brandished it at Timothy. Oh my, the colour drained from the teenager’s face. Timothy knew his father’s intention. There was to be no escape! The punishment must fit the crime! Five failed exams!
“You know what to do! Assume the position!” his father growled. Yes, Timothy knew what to do only too well. He had been here many times before! Without a word, he took hold of the buckle of his belt and with fumbling hands, he loosened it. Then he un-popped the fly buttons on his brown corduroy short trousers. They quickly slipped down his thighs and snagged at his knees. Timothy parted his feet a little and the shorts slithered down until they made a puddle on top of his sandals.
He sucked in a deep breath of air. Oh, my the room was so hot, it felt like he was boiling. He leaned forward and gripped his shins. He had a close up view of his heavy grey socks and bare knees. He had been playing in the sun a lot and they were as brown as a berry! He closed his eyes and felt his father take hold of the blue short-sleeved summer shirt and pull it away from his bottom and right up his back until it reached his shoulder blades. Then father gripped the waistband of his underwear and tugged hard so that there were no creases in his woollen drawers. The wooden blade of the paddle felt heavy as his father tap, tap, tapped it across the centre of his buttocks so that it touched both cheeks. Suddenly, Father lifted the paddle away and with a resounding thwack! he brought it crashing down!
Oh! How that hurt! Timothy scrunched up his eyes in pain. It burned so much! His body shook but valiantly Timothy clutched his shins and waited for the second wallop. Bang! It hit him a little lower than the first and the impact of the blow knocked him forward. The soles of his sandals slipped on the dusty floor and almost sent him toppling over. He stopped himself just in time and straightened up so that once more his bottom was pointing up in the air ready to take the next whack in the spanking that he so richly deserved!
“Ouch! Gosh! Yarroo!” That hurt! Timothy couldn’t help himself crying out. Father was spanking him with some vim. He swiped him so hard it was as if he was trying to beat dust out of an old carpet. Timothy’s bottom was on fire. It felt like he had accidentally sat in a bath full of scolding water. Whack! Wallop! There were no bounds in Father’s determination to punish his naughty son. No part of the teenager’s buttocks was left unbruised! The naughty lad would find it painful to sit on a hard surface for the rest of the day. But, it was a just punishment. One day Timothy would thank his father for days such as these!
Father spanked him fifteen times with the paddle, that was three whacks for each examination failed. Timothy’s bottom was well and truly toasted! When at last he was allowed to stand, the poor boy’s hands shot to his throbbing posterior. Oh how he tried to rub away the pain! It hurt like billy-oh!
At last his father sent him on his way with a flea in his ear. Bother, Timothy thought, not only was he spanked, he also had to put up with a personal tutor for the whole summer. Well, he said to himself, we’ll see about that! There was no way he was going to have his summer spoiled. Not now he had his cousin Julian to play with!
Timothy took a short walk through the village and into the woods. He couldn’t go back to his cousin quite yet. The agony in his bottom soon eased until it became only a constant throb. After a while that turned to a warm glow. It still hurt, especially the sit-upon part where the cheeks meet the thigh, but he was ready to return home. He was pleased that he hadn’t cried; he didn’t want Julian to know he had been spanked and red eyes would be give away his secret!
When Timothy returned to Camp Cottage he was surprised to see his cousin Julian still in the living room with his suitcase. Uncle Dick was beavering away in his shed and Aunt Fanny had disappeared upstairs, never to return.
“Come on Ju,” Timothy beamed. His bottom was still a little sore but he was ready for his recent spanking with the paddle to become just a distant memory. “I’ll show you where you’re sleeping. I do hope you like it!”
Julian was delighted! The room was huge and there was a magnificent bed with a wrought iron bedstead.
“This is my room,” Timothy beamed. “Isn’t it a fantastic bed! It’s easily big enough for two of us!” he giggled. “A lot of the rooms here are locked up. If you don’t want to share, I’m sure we can find a camp bed somewhere or you can sleep on a settee or something!”
Julian was delighted. “No! It’s a marvellous bed,” he pressed both his hands in to the solid mattress, “and it’s really springy!”
“That’s settled then!” Timothy threw himself onto the bed and bounced up and down just like he was on a trampoline. “Of course, George is away for a few days, so you could have his room for a while, I suppose,” Timothy said, but then he frowned, “But, I don’t know that he wants anyone to go in his room while he’s away.”
Julian remembered George as quite a queer fellow. He bet he had lots of secrets. George was a tall, lanky man, now aged twenty. Julian remembered Timothy once telling him that at Albion School the boys called him “Georgina” because he acted like a girl and had the habit of holding one hand on his hip as he walked. They might have called him Georgina, but only behind his back. George was one of the select band of senior prefects at Albion who were supplied with bendy canes with curved handles to impose discipline and he wasn’t shy about using his.
“Where is George,” Julian inquired. “Oh, he’s with a new curate in the village. Fellow named Crick,” Timothy rolled his eyes, “They’re as thick as thieves,” he smirked. “They’re running some boys’ camp on the other side of the village. Juvenile delinquents, would you believe!”
Julian beamed, it sounded like the sort of batty project his parents would be involved with.
“They’re borstal boys, or some such,” Timothy couldn’t hide the mocking tone in his voice. “What a bunch of oiks hey!” He rolled on the bed and hoped his cousin hadn’t noticed his wince as a particularly tender part of his bottom connected with the hard mattress. “Half the village are up in arms. They think they’ll be murdered in their beds. Or they’ll be robbed of the family silver! Ha! Ha! Ha!
“But, don’t worry about George,” he giggled, “there’s plenty of time to meet him. We’ve got an adventure of our own to go on.”
“Oh,” Julian beamed, “What fun!” How he was going to enjoy his summer at Camp Cottage!
To be continued ….
Picture credit: E.H. Davie
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More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website
Charles Hamilton the Second