Commander Reynolds’ boarding house

Commander Albert Reynolds, RN (retd.) turned the volume of his wireless down low and sat back in his comfortable chair. The boys had given him a strange proposition but he was not sure he should have turned them down.

He pressed his fingers together, pursed his lips and closed his eyes, allowing the sound of Henry Hall’s dance band to drift into his consciousness.

The three boys, well they were young men really, had departed back to their rooms, leaving the old man to re-evaluate their offer.

It had started a couple of months previously. Jack, James and Arthur had come to live at the Commander’s rooming house. They were from respectable families; otherwise he would never have let them stay.

They were students, just up at the Varsity. Out in the big world on their own for the first time in their lives.

The Commander recalled Mrs Rollington; Jack’s mother. “He’s a fine God-fearing boy, Commander,” she had intoned, rather fiercely, he thought. “He has been brought up in a good Christian family. His morals are impeccable.”

The Commander laughed at that as Henry Hall’s soothing voice introduced the next dance tune. “Impeccable morals, my eye,” he thought.

That had been the problem. Three eighteen-year-old boys let loose on the big city after years cooped up in high class boarding schools. The Commander was an old naval man, he knew what young men could get up to when out on the town. There was smoking, drinking, and, yes, even possibly the occasional woman: Jack, James and Arthur had been making up for lost time.

The Commander was no hypocrite; young men had appetites, he realised that. But there were his other tenants to consider. And there had been complaints; especially from Mr Bunyan at number eight.

Mr Bunyan had called on the Commander four times now. At each visit he was a little more irritated – and, irritating. The Commander knew the type, always finding something to complain about, but maybe this time he had a point.

“It’s just too much Commander Reynolds, Sir,” Bunyan had simpered, the first time he laid down the complaint. It had been about the boys arriving back in the early hours of the morning, clearly the worse for drink.

“It’s the ladies I feel sorry for.” He meant the women tenants. Apart from the three boys and the Commander, Bunyan was the only man lodging at the house, although the Commander was not so sure the word “man” quite described the flamboyant creature that stood before him. Was that a whiff of gardenia in the air?

The Commander was a leader of men and he expected to be obeyed. He had what he described to Bunyan as “a little word” with the boys.

Things improved, but not for long. By the time Bunyan was tapping on the Commander’s door with his fourth complaint, the Commander’s patience was exhausted.

That had been last Friday and it was yesterday he gave the boys formal notice to quit the lodgings. To go, find rooms somewhere else, leave Bunyan and the Commander in peace.

“Oh my, what will my mother say?” It was Jack who spoke first. The three boys were contemplating the devastating news – chucked out of their lodgings for immoral behaviour.

James and Arthur were equally aghast. James most certainly did not want to face his father with this news. Mr Miller expected impeccable behaviour from his sons, especially in public. He was old school, with the emphasis on “school.” He would not hesitate to take his whippy dragon cane down from its hook in the study and apply it with great force across his errant son’s backside; eighteen years old or not.

Arthur had no such fear of his own father. He had never laid a finger on him in his life. There would be no thrashing, but Mr Rhodes would show a deep sense of disappointment that would cut into Arthur much more acutely than any lashes with a cane across his bared buttocks.

“The Commander is right, we have behaved pretty badly,” Arthur had been raised to have a grave sense of guilt. But, neither of the other fellows disagreed. They were guilty as charged. They were not used to freedom that was the reason. They had spent the past ten years imprisoned at one boarding school or another; their lives totally regimented. Rules governed their lives. Do this, do that! Rules that must be followed, and of course, punishments endured if they were not.

“Yes, we have been rather foolish.” It was an understatement from Arthur. Too much wine, women and song had led them to this downfall.

“What if the university finds out? Will we be sent down?” James raised the question. Expulsion for bringing the university into disrepute would be disastrous. It would be the end of James’ chances of a career in the Foreign Office.

The three boys fell silent, each contemplating their own personal disaster.

Jack eventually piped up. “If we had been caught smoking and drinking at Bridgetown, my housemaster would have thrashed us.”

He left the sentence hanging. It was true; the consequence at school for bad behaviour was a very sore backside indeed. But, every boy who ever was ordered to “bend over that chair” to offer up his buttocks to a dominant master, agreed it was worth it. Six-of-the-best meant atonement. The crime had been committed, the punishment was accepted and everybody moved on with their lives.

“It was the same at my school,” James was almost misty-eyed with nostalgia. “Mr Horridge would’ve had us across his desk. Trousers and underpants at our ankles. Even when we were seniors. My hat! We couldn’t sit down for a week after that.”

James and Jack joined in companionable laughter. Arthur’s face drained of colour. How could they find this amusing? Bare-bottomed thrashings. Not sitting down for a week. What brutes these schoolmasters were.

“What about you Arthur?” James peered through his spectacles at his young friend. “What did they do at your school? Did you get it bare?”

Startled, Arthur found himself saying, “Oh, my yes, of course, ouch! Yarroo!”

Why had he lied? Was he ashamed that he had attended a Quaker school, founded by pacifists? Corporal punishment was unheard of. He had never even seen a school cane in his life, let alone felt one across his stretched bottom.

“Hey! I’ve got an idea!” It was James who made the suggestion. It was such an obvious solution. He was sure the Commander would agree. He must have been a public school man himself. Surely, he would understand.

“Let’s offer to take a beating. Apologise, say we’ll never do it again. And we should mean it.”

Jack’s face lit up. “Yes, that’s it. He’ll understand. We could offer to go bare, if that’s what it took.”

The two boys were so taken by their proposed solution they failed to notice Arthur’s coughing fit.

So it was that the three boys stood in Commander Reynolds sitting room, hands behind their backs, feet slightly apart, eyes downcast inspecting a rather worn green-patterned carpet.

It had been James’ idea, so he was the boys’ representative.

“So you see Commander,” it was a confident address. The boys might have spent a little too much time on the town recently, but they were intelligent articulate teenagers. In time they would all make their mark on the world, but now, on this day, they had to dig themselves out of a rather big hole.

“If we behaved like this at our schools we should have been soundly beaten by our housemasters.”

Jack found himself inadvertently nodding his agreement, but still he stared at the carpet, unable to look the Commander in the eye. Cold sweat poured down Arthur’s back, he was certain he would be sick at any moment.

The Commander looked at the three boys in astonishment. Beat them, as if they were schoolboys and he was their housemaster. Who had ever heard of such an idea?

“So, we respectfully ask that you punish us with a beating and then allow us to stay on as tenants.” James finished his little speech. He had decided not to include the offer to take it trousers and underwear down.

The Commander silently counted to ten. His mother had taught him this when he was a very small boy. If you think you are going to lose your temper count to ten before you speak.

Eight, nine, ten. “No, that is not a good idea. You will all vacate your rooms as previously ordered.”

James opened his mouth, but the Commander cut him off. He would not hear argument. “That is all. You are dismissed!”

Two crestfallen (and one very relieved) teenagers trudged up the stairs to their rooms.

Now, in a darkened room, sitting in his chair, was the Commander having second thoughts? Corporal punishment, was it such a bad idea?

Heavy rain lashed against the window, almost drowning out the dance music. Suddenly, in his mind it was at least thirty years ago, he was a sub-lieutenant, young men in thin white trousers were being bound hand and foot, and forced to bend their bodies over a triangle. Handkerchiefs were stuffed into their mouths. A chief petty officer armed with a cane lashed twelve strokes into their taut buttocks.

It happened all the time; there was nothing unusual about it. It was perfectly legal and still happened today.

There were lighter, more informal punishments. The Commander silently chuckled. There had been this boy; what was his name? He was no older than the three tenants upstairs. He was an incorrigible rogue, but not an evil sort. It soon became a ritual. Anderson was he called? Anderson would be caught smoking or absent from his post, the Commander (he was not a Commander then) would be informed. Guilt would be established. Then Anderson was given a choice: be put a charge or go across the knee.

He was a tiny fellow, this Anderson. He looked like a small child. Perhaps that was why the Commander felt he should punish him like a naughty boy. A heavy wooden clothes brush was kept in a drawer. Anderson would be ordered to fetch it while the Commander settled himself into his favourite chair. Then, without further instruction, Anderson would hand the Commander the brush before unbuckling his own belt and lowering his trousers.

Then with an air of resignation on his face he would lower himself across the Commander’s knees. He remembered it as if it had happened that morning. The underpants were a rather grubby grey-white colour. He would pull the drawers up tight so the outline of Anderson’s buttocks were clearly visible and then at a slow, rhythmic pace he would crash twenty-four hard whacks into the boy’s stringy buttocks.

It hurt the boy, probably a great deal, but he never showed his pain. It must have been a matter of pride, to be able to take a whacking stoically. The spanking over, Anderson would jump to his feet replace his trousers and stand to attention, thumbs in line with the seams of his trousers.

“Thank you Sir, I deserved that.” He always said the same thing after every spanking. Had the Commander made him say that or had he thought to do it himself?

A thunderclap woke the Commander from his dream. Heavens, he had not thought about Anderson in more than thirty years. Poor boy, he died in action before he reached his twentieth birthday.

The Commander had been on the receiving end himself. Many times; beyond the age of eighteen. He had attended a naval training ship. There had been this one time, he was with a party of about thirty boys who misbehaved themselves ashore; they had to be rounded up by the ship’s authorities. They used a birch in those days. It was not as heavy as the judicial birch that was still in use today. One by one the boys were forced to lower their trousers and go across the block. The Commander wriggled in his chair as if the scars of the birching were still troubling him.

He moved from his chair and switched on a light. Perhaps the boys had a point. They could atone for their crimes. He did not want them to get into further trouble at the university.

He had listened to the news earlier on the wireless. Mr Chamberlain had returned from Munich with a peace agreement. The Commander did not believe it for a moment. War in Europe was coming and these boys would soon be fighting for their country. The Commander himself would probably be recalled.

Damn it, let’s do it. The Commander was a man of decision. Yes, a caning. Twelve each: on the bare. It must be an exemplary thrashing, but once delivered and received that would be an end to it.

That was how the following evening the three young men stood once more before the Commander, staring down at the carpet.

The Commander had made much preparation. First, he had to purchase a cane. They are readily available in most oil shops, as any naughty boy could attest. The embarrassment of being sent by father to purchase a cane was intense. The shopkeepers never believed a boy’s tale that the cane was needed because they were “playing schools.”

The Commander wanted a special cane, a Malacca for preference. The thick dense rod was as whippy as a school’s rattan cane but it packed more of a punch and with ridges every four inches or so along its length it would leave deep bruises on the boys’ buttocks. They had asked for a caning and would certainly be given a caning to remember.

There was a specialist shop he knew in Earls Court that supplied just the thing.

The Commander was now armed with a suitable weapon, but he had another problem. He was not the boys’ parent or guardian and he had no legal jurisdiction over them. In short, he had no right to punish them.

He was not a legal expert, but he drew up a short contract. The boys were not yet twenty-one and so were not adults. Even so, he would make them sign to say they consented to a thrashing. Next, he needed a witness in case something went wrong. Nearly all of his tenants were women and it would not be right to ask them to see the boys bare their buttocks. Bunyan would have to be the witness. He agreed a little too eagerly when asked.

There were no speeches or ceremony. They all knew why they were there. The Commander went over to the far end of the room, swung round the large horsehair armchair that was to serve as the punishment chair and pushed it into the centre of the room. Having done that, he turned back towards a cabinet and opened the top drawer from which he took the cane.

“Right, Miller,” he swished the cane at James, “Trousers and underwear down.”

James knew he was blushing as he removed his jacket then unzipped his trousers and pulled them down. He stood behind the chair and peeled his underwear from his buttocks before letting them drop on top of his trousers.

“I assume that you know the procedure,” the Commander was still swishing the cane menacingly. “Over the chair, with your legs well apart.”

James did of course know exactly what was required. As he got over the chair, he pushed his arms out along the full length of its armrests, so that his buttocks were raised over the apex of the chair and his legs were stretched apart.

The Commander turned his shirt back and Bunyan sat upright on a sofa, ensuring a clearer view.

Unceremoniously, the Commander tapped the waiting buttocks then raised his arm to shoulder height, before with a flick of the wrist he brought the cane down hard across the exposed backside. James clenched his teeth but a groan still escaped as he absorbed the first of twelve stokes. The Commander was soon into his stride, ensuring he spread the strokes across the teenager’s bottom. Starting in the middle, he worked his way down till number six landed hard across the top of James’ thighs.

cane man seated watching (1)

No amount of teeth clenching could stop the loud howl that escaped from the boy’s throat. The Commander paused to admire the six thick red, almost parallel, lines across James’ once creamy white buttocks. He landed number seven higher up, before changing his stance and lashing number eight diagonally crossing the previous seven welts. James roared and his bottom gyrated. The Commander was breathing almost as heavily as the boy he was punishing as he whacked the rest of the strokes diagonally across the buttocks, from the left and from the right.

James gagged as howls and sobs were wrenched from his body and he clutched onto the horsehair sofa as if his very life depended on it.

Then it was Jack’s turn. He had been panting vigorously since the start of James’ beating and his short, sharp breaths now grew more urgent as he lay across the chair.

His bottom was well-rounded with firm and toughened muscles, but it had no protective layer of flesh. There would be no give and compression of the cheeks as the cane struck home, its impact would be imparted directly into the muscle of the suffering boy. Movement would remain agonising long after the beating had been completed and all strokes administered. The lack of absorbent meat on his buttocks meant that the knots of the Malacca cane were likely to tear the skin and cause bleeding, perhaps even with a single stroke.

With incredible speed, accuracy and force, the Commander lurched forward and delivered three rapid strokes which ricocheted off the boy’s backside, making him writhe and jerk and gasp loudly before slumping back over the chair, panting and twitching, in total subjection.

The Commander wielded the cane with stunning skill. The stinging lines of pain which sliced their way across Jack’s backside exceeded any previous canings he had received at school. He bounced up and down on the back of the chair and strained every muscle in his legs to hold them straight and apart.

The twelfth and final stroke was imminent. Jack’s clenched fists, wet with the saliva from his mouth into which they had been thrust to hold back his cries, and stinging with the imprint of his teeth, groped desperately to cling on to the chair.

The cane rose and fell. The collision was formidable. The cane cracked with unrestrained vengeance across the bare flesh of Jack’s buttocks. The sound reverberated around the room and a shudder rippled through the teenager’s body as the full impact of the stroke bit into him.

Arthur stood gazing at the sight of Jack’s striped, bruised, red and purple blotched buttocks clenching and unclenching, trembling like jelly. His own legs buckled and for a moment he feared he would fall onto the floor in a fainted heap.

“Over!” the Commander swished the cane impatiently. Arthur wanted to push past the Commander and his fearful cane, and dash from the room. He would not stop running until he had reached his mother’s arms at his home one hundred and fifty miles way.

That is what he wanted to do. But it was not what he did. His two great friends Jack and James had endured their thrashings. They had been brutal, but the two boys had behaved honourably. They had misbehaved and had accepted their due punishment. No matter how terrible the ordeal might be, Arthur resolved to take the caning. He deserved it. He would not let himself down in front of his friends.

In a trance he stepped forward towards the chair. He clenched his eyes tightly shut and fumbled at his trousers. He could not quite get his fingers to work and it took an age before he felt the heavy cloth of his trousers slide down his thighs before travelling past his knees to rest at his shins. His underpants followed reluctantly.

The Commander’s impatience grew. “Hurry up boy, I haven’t got all day.”

Arthur felt the colour draining from his face. His legs became weak and an immovable lump came into his throat. His eyes displayed the sheer horror and despair which was consuming him. A sudden realisation that this boy was terrified brought a sneer to Bunyan’s lips.

With eyes still tightly closed, Arthur stretched himself forward and offered up his bared buttocks to his tormentor.

The boy’s apprehension was obvious, even without studying the quivering vibration of his naked and expectant bottom, the Commander knew that he was terrified of the pain of the beating to come. He was horrified that he might fail the test.

No matter, events must take their course. The Commander, surprised that his palms had suddenly begun to sweat tucked his cane under his arms so he could wipe his hands against his trousers. Bun too was sweating, but anxious to get on with the show.

The Commander slipped the cane from his arm into his hand and prepared to administer the third thrashing of the evening.

The first cut bounced into Arthur’s mounds and sank deep into the flesh, before it re-emerged leaving behind a thick red mark across the centre of both cheeks. Arthur let out a piercing scream and jumped from the chair, both hands grabbing his ferociously boiling buttocks. He stamped up and down on the carpet in a fruitless attempt to ease the agony.

James’ eyes widened at the spectacle. He had seen many boys caned in his lifetime, but none had behaved like this. What was wrong with the boy?

The Commander thought he knew. This boy had never before been on the receiving end of a caning. How could such a thing happen? Was he not eighteen years old and the product of an English public school? The public schools – which were in fact expensive independent private schools – were renowned across the British Empire for their discipline. The school cane had been one of the country’s finest exports for a hundred years or more. How could this boy be a virgin to its lash at his age?

“Back over!” it was a ferocious command. “Do not dare behave in such a disgraceful way. Take your beating like a man!”

Totally humiliated and with tears streaming down his cheeks, Arthur prepared once more to receive the kiss of the cane.

The Commander was a military man through to his inner core. This shaking, wailing boy bent over the chair, bared buttocks pointing upwards at him, might be experiencing this for the first time, but he must not be lenient.  He was as guilty as his two fellows and he must be punished in exactly the same way. It would not be fair on them. Besides, if he laid the cane on lightly, Jack and James would know and they would despise Arthur for it. No, the right thing to do would be to tear the boy’s buttocks to shreds.

And, that is precisely what the Commander did.

The Commander saw the tension taking over Arthur’s entire body and sensed the teenager holding his breath to bursting point, as the older man realigned the cane to deliver a diagonal stroke to cut across the previous one.

His arm swept down. The cane struck the springy globes with a swish and leapt away. Arthur’s body convulsed on the chair, his fingers scrabbled and wrenched, he gave a pitiful whine and then settled again, ready for the next stroke.

The next lashes fell a fraction below each other getting lower and lower with number six landing right on the crease, by now Arthur was bawling and tears had fallen from his eyes and the chair cushion was wet with teardrops. His hands were tightly gripping the chair as another stroke landed at a right angle crossing all the previous stripes. Arthur howled once more and his backside wobbled and shook as he came to terms with this latest onslaught.

When number twelve landed the Commander whipped it with a will right on top of stroke number seven on the crease, Arthur’s head shot up and he screamed in agony.

“That will do.” It was a calm, courteous statement. The punishment was over.

Arthur let go of the seat cushion; his knuckles now bleached white. Nothing registered clearly or coherently as quickly he got up, but his hands immediately went round to feel his scalded buttocks and he could not get dressed immediately until the pain reached its peak.

The pain was so intense that in spite of his eighteen years he could hardly see for the tears which were flooding his eyes: he had taken as severe a caning as could have been delivered.

Five minutes later, the Commander was once more alone in his room. The three boys were upstairs admiring their corrugated backsides and congratulating one another on their fortitude. Mr Bunyan was lying on his bed, his trousers at his ankles. In the distance a thunderclap heralded yet another rain storm.

Picture credit: Unknown

This story was first uploaded in February 2016.

 

Other stories you might like

How other people live

My landlord’s slipper

The Meter Reader

More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website

Also writing school stories as Scholastic here

Charles Hamilton the Second

charleshamiltonthesecond@gmail.com

 

The banker and the three wretches

new 5

z used suit walking stick office by L Fellows (36)

Charlie’s jaw dropped slack with astonishment as the whirlwind flew through the door. He watched the colossus stride through the banking hall, his walking cane held at his shoulder like an infantryman’s rifle. All around, cashiers and customers alike, stopped work to stare as the man – all six feet six inches of him – hurtled towards the elevators. His immaculate checked suit appeared to glow in the electric light. The clop-clop-clop his handmade leather shoes made as he marched onwards echoed around the silent hall.

Charlie gaped across at Miss Allison, who momentarily had deserted her typewriter. “Who is that?” he whispered watching the back of the figure as it departed through the concertina barrier into the lift.

“That,” Miss Allision trilled with admiration, “That is not the bank manager. That is not even the bank director,” her voice rose to a crescendo. “That is Mr Manwaring-Robertson the owner of our bank,” she swooned back to her seat and set a fresh sheet of paper in her typewriter.

“He seems to be on a mighty important mission,” Charlie nodded at the space where Mr Manwaring-Robertson had so recently been. “Someone upstairs is in for a mighty shock.” He resumed his sentry duty at the door to the bank, shaking his head vaguely.

Upstairs three young men sat together at a marble-topped table. Their cups of coffee stood untasted before them. Reddy flicked nervously at the ash of his cigarette and looked across the table at the other two, first Morris with his scowling brow and hair horrid with grease and then Oldroyd, with his face wrinkled with confusion.

“He knows about it all right then,” Morris wheezed bitterly.

“Certain of it,” said Reddy.

“It means the sack,” said Oldroyd. “It does that.”

“Tell me something I don’t know,” said Morris, his voice cracking. “He’s most likely already here in the building. We’ll get called up to his office any minute now.” Morris cleared his throat, phlegm filled his mouth and it made him feel sick. He swallowed hard and took a final pull at the cigarette before slamming the end into his saucer.

“We’ll be looking for a new job, I know what it’s like. I’ve been out before,” said Oldroyd.

“Know what it’s like! Do you think I don’t know too,” sneered Morris. “What kind of testimonial is M.R. going to give us. Sacked for taking bribes for loans. We’ll be starving on the streets in weeks.” He glowered around at the other two, accusingly.  Why had they been so stupid? So greedy. Morris had a wife and two children, they’d all be thrown out onto the streets once he could no longer pay the rent.

“What damned fools we’ve been,” Oldroyd’s voice broke. He was close to tears. Reddy nodded, his head fell into his hands. There was a deathly hush as all three silently contemplated their fate. The workhouse beckoned.

They were so occupied with their own grief they failed to hear Miss Stewart approach. She stood, silently appraising the three wretched bank employees. Her lips pursed as if she had sucked on a particularly bitter lemon. She clicked her tongue, then announced her presence. Oldroyd was the first to react, his body froze in fear.  This was Manwaring-Robertson’s secretary, come to summon them forward to meet their fate. A life of penury. Oh, he silently reproached himself, why had he been so stupid.

“You are to come with me,” Miss Stewart pronounced. She had the air of the prison wardress about her. Now in her late middle-age, Miss Stewart had to find her little pleasures wherever she could. She would make the most of her present opportunity.

The three culprits sat rigid as statues. They had every wish to delay the inevitable ignominy. The sack. The bullet. Fired. Or, the infinitely more polite, ‘let go.’ It mattered little what word was used, the result would be the same. Themselves and their families starving on the streets.

“Now!” Miss Stewart barked. She hoped her tone and attitude appeared stern, she had no wish to display the inner delight she felt at that moment. She derived immense pleasure from other people’s misfortune.

Slowly, reluctantly and with some distress each man hauled himself to his feet. They slouched forwards as if already they had balls and chains around their ankles. Debtors’ prison was but a short journey away.

“Come this way,” Miss Stewart intoned. She led the way down a dark passageway. Each of the men had worked at the bank for several years but none had seen this part of the building before. It was forbidden territory to them, the lowly worker-ants of the bank. Miss Stewart rumbled ahead, leading them slowly towards their downfall.

They reached a huge oak door, the brass nameplate shone brightly, despite the gloom in the passageway. This was indeed the office of a mightily important man. A mightily rich man. Miss Stewart abandoned them while she knocked on the door before entering.

Morris looked at Reddy and Reddy looked at Oldroyd, but none could catch the eye. None dared to speak. The sound of fearful breathing broke the silence. It seemed to the men an eternity, but it was but thirty seconds later that the secretary reappeared.

“You’re to go in,” her voice betrayed a certain disappointment. She clicked her tongue and scurried back down the passageway, leaving the door to the office ajar. The three men stood petrified. Each waiting for another to take a lead and enter the lion’s den.

“Well!” a boom sounded within the office, “What are you waiting for!”

The ferocity of the voice woke Morris, Reddy and Oldroyd and like a scene form the Keystone Cops they bundled into one another in their eagerness to be first through the door.

It was an opulent office, as might be expected of a man who owned a bank. Mr Manwaring-Robertson sat behind a huge mahogany desk, the size of a municipal swimming pool. He glared. His snow-white moustache emphasised the deep suntanned face. It bristled as he spoke, “Stand there,” he pointed to a spot in front of his desk. “There, there,” he repeated irritably, as if his three workers might be too stupid to understand his instruction. They shuffled forward; their humiliation far from hidden. Morris felt his knees buckle, he was close to fainting to the floor. Oldroyd and Reddy steadied themselves by firmly grasping their hands behind their backs. They looked to all the world like naughty schoolboys summoned before the headmaster.

Mr Manwaring-Robertson steepled his fingers and leaned forward, resting his elbows on the desk. “Well, what have you got to say for yourselves?” He was a man of few words. Action was his watchword. Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

Morris fell to his knees, it was not a plan. He had not written a script. He acted out of sheer terror. “Please, sir, please sir. Don’t fire us. I have a wife. Children. They will starve. Please. I am sorry. Sorry,” he wailed, “In the name of God Almighty have mercy on us all.”

Mr Manwaring-Robertson sat unmoved. His fierce hazel eyes shone, but otherwise they betrayed none of his thoughts.

Oldroyd stood aghast. How could Morris humiliate himself so? Begging for mercy. He had no more time for further thoughts. Reddy was falling to his knees, clasping his hands together as if in prayer. “Please master in the name of all that is holy. I repent.  I repent. Never again, shall I dishonour you. Please as a good Christian gentleman have mercy.” Tears flowed down his cheeks.

Mr Manwaring-Robertson shuffled his buttocks in his large padded chair. He looked from Morris to Reddy, from one to the other and then from the other to the one. His face remained impassive, seemingly unmoved by the spectacle. His cold eyes turned towards Oldroyd, the only employee still standing. His gaze pierced Oldroyd. The proud young man, with bitterness festering in his heart, slowly bent one knee, as if he were discussing inside his own head whether he should humiliate himself so. What good would it do. This flint-hearted bank owner cared nothing for Oldroyd and his young colleagues. It would give the old man immense satisfaction to see them beg for mercy, beg for their wives, their children. Beg to be saved from the workhouse.

Oldroyd surprised himself. He was down on two knees reciting his sorrow. His promises to become a good, honest, slaving worker. If only the good, kind, charitable Mr Manwaring-Robertson would bestow mercy upon his unfortunate children.

The speeches were over. Three men knelt before him, heads bowed in supplication. Mr Manwaring-Robertson sat in smug, satisfied silence, pierced only by the heavy ticking of a clock. He watched impassively as the minute hand dragged itself across the clockface from five to ten. Two of the men before him were dissolved in tears. The third was ghostly white as if he might expire unto death at any second.

At last Mr Manwaring-Robertson spoke, “Thank you gentlemen,” he said smugly. “I have heard your speeches. I have witnessed you tell me that you are contrite. I have heard your pleas for clemency.” He paused, as a pompous judge might before donning his black cap and pronouncing a sentence of death. “I have to say that all three of you have behaved in the most wretched manner. To steal from your employer is despicable,” he shook his head as if he were carrying all the troubles of the world on his shoulders. “Despicable.”

He paused and delved into a pocket of his waistcoat. He found a handkerchief and slowly and deliberately mopped perspiration from his brow. “Look at me,” he growled and three heads immediately twitched in his direction. “I am indeed a Christian gentleman and I do believe in mercy and redemption.” He paused while he mopped the back of his neck. “It might surprise you to hear me say that, but it is true.” He slowly folded the handkerchief and replaced it in his pocket. “Indeed, indeed. But, my God is a vengeful God. I believe in retribution.”

He waited as the import of his words hung in the air and while the significance of their meaning sank into the heads of the three men kneeling supplicated before him. He cleared his throat, “I have made arrangements,” he intoned. “You are to be whipped.” He paused, he always did at this point in such speeches. It gave him the chance to savour the horrified reaction of his victims.

“Were you to appear before the magistrates bench on charges of stealing, you would be sentenced to the birch and prison with hard labour,” he peered at Morris who appeared to be murmuring to himself, and then continued, “I do not propose hard labour. You will pay to me the money you took from clients.” He paused lest anyone should think of him as a profiteer, “I shall ensure that it is passed on to a good cause.”

He shook his head sorrowfully, “Stand up you three. I have arranged for Mr Burgess to deal with you. He is waiting in an adjoining room. You are dismissed. Go. Miss Stewart is waiting for you in the passageway.”

So it was that three worthless men were escorted along the passageway, each quiet, alone with his own thoughts. Reprieved. Saved from penury and the workhouse. Oh, Mr Manwaring-Robertson was a fine Christian gentlemen. If their thoughts were of joy and relief, they were surely dashed when Miss Stewart halted them outside a dark, sombre door. It connected a room at the furthest end of the passageway, in a wing of the building as far away from the street and the bank’s main business area as it could possibly be.

Miss Stewart paused, perhaps enjoying the drama of the moment. Certainly her heart beat fast. Like her employer she considered herself to be of good Christian stock. She prayed each night and attended church twice on Sunday. What a merciful soul she was. She rapped her knuckles on the door. No sound of footsteps within the room could be heard but suddenly the heavy mahogany door inched open.

“Go in. All of you,” Miss Stewart’s voice broke. She hacked a cough to clear her throat and added ominously, Mr Burgess is expecting you. She stepped back and looked contemptuously as each man halted, trying to encourage an other to be first across the threshold.

“Come in,” a voice from within rasped. “Do not keep me waiting. I am not a man renowned for his patience. It will be the worst for you to keep me waiting.”

Morris took the initiative. He led the way inside. It was a large simple room. The only light came from a small casement window at the far end. The floorboards were bare. They creaked whenever a person moved.

Miss Stewart hesitated in the doorway. “You may leave us now, Miss Stewart,” the voice still rasped. The secretary did not hide her disappointment. Excluded once again. Unable to witness God’s wrath.  She puckered her lips. She backed out of the room, slowly closing the door behind her. She stood alone in the passageway. She peered down the gloomy passageway. No other person was there, nor was one likely to appear at this hour of the day. She leaned forward and pressed her ear against the door.

Morris, Oldroyd and Reddy knew none of this. If they had they would have cared little. Their eyes were now a little more accustomed to the gloom. The room had no furniture save for one piece. It could not truthfully be described as furniture. It had no function associated with comfort. It was not a chair where one could sit. It was not a table where one could eat a meal. It was not a cupboard that one could store the little luxuries of life.

Morris stared bleakly at the one piece. He had never seen such a thing before. He was a man of little imagination but even he could detect its purpose. His heart fell to his boots.

Reddy had seen such a thing before. At the courthouse in the small town where he had been born. There was nothing unusual about this thing. There were replicas of it across the land. Many were still used, possibly even daily. But, Reddy had never expected to see such a thing in a room hidden along a dark passageway on the upper floor of the town’s most successful commercial bank.

To the ignorant it looked like a large step. One might have such a thing in a library to help the reader choose a book from a top shelf. On closer inspection, it was a little too cumbersome, two large, too heavy for such a task.

No, in all reality this thing, this wooden lump could serve only one purpose. It could only have one use. If there was any doubt in any mind that was dispelled by the only other objects in the room. Reddy could not tear his eyes away from them. There were five. Lined one beside another by the far wall. What colour that he had drained from his face, no bedsheet from the most luxurious of homes could have been whiter. Five enormous enamel pails. Each chocked full of what looked like the branches from a bush, or small tree.

Burgess stood quietly. He was a small, undistinguished man. He would walk the streets day or night unnoticed. He had no baring to speak off. He was neither particularly tall, nor particularly small. He had no distinguishing facial marks. His beard was conventional, cut neat and tidy. His clothes were those of a businessman. When he walked through the banking hall to his room people would think him to be just another clerk.

All the above was true. But here, in this room. He was more than the sum of his parts. He was man with authority. No, more than that, he was a man of power. His was total control. He had no reason to demonstrate that, beyond the obvious. He had a duty to perform. He would carry out that duty to his master’s word. The three wretches standing awkwardly before him would acquiesce to him. They might do so with some honour, presenting themselves submissively. They might not. Such had happened in the past. It trouble Burgess not at all. He had assistants that he could summon. They waited but two doors away.

Burgess was a philosopher. He was an expert. His craft had been perfected over many years in the bank’s employ. Oh how he could whisk a birch rod about so that the trembling victim could hear it hissing through the air.

He had once confirmed to Mr Manwaring-Robertson, who showed great interest in the matter, “The real art of birching consists in inflicting the greatest amount of humiliation and suffering, but without in reality doing serious damage.”

 

The bank owner had nodded sagely. That was wise, he had thought. If too much injury was inflicted might not the intervention of a doctor become necessary. That might leave to any number of complications. No, Mr Manwaring-Robertson, concluded, it was best not to proceed in such a way that the Authorities might become involved.

 

Burgess had continued, “We have to consider how so to apply the rod as to effect some radical

moral good in the disposition and mind of the culprit ; how to make them feel the very dregs as it were of humiliation, degradation, and every kind of mortification.” He might have wetted his lips as he spoke, such was his commitment to the task.

 

He shared his past experience with his employer, speaking as with the authority of a learned professor on the subject of birching, “It is a curious fact,” Burgess had said, “that it sends the blood

of a sensitive modest man in impulsive rushes (especially to the face and neck) in the form of scarlet blushes, which pass over those parts in continuous waves, corresponding to each stroke of the rod ; this is a curious psychological fact, which is puzzling even to anatomists.”

Mr Manwaring-Robertson continued to nod his head, as he fought to keep from betraying his lack of understanding.

“You should proceed as you see fit,” he intoned. There the matter rested. The master had given his instruction, it was for the servant to carry it out in the most efficient way possible.

The problem with the birch, Burgess knew, and he could write a book on the matter, was that it had a very short useful life. They had originally been crafted from the twigs of the birch tree, hence its name. But experience had taught that these proved to be too fragile. Hazel twigs were then used before a variety of twiggy shoots from other species were tried. When available, Burgess would constructed his birch rods from springy young maple shoots which would be bound together at one end into handle. The birches he had prepared for the three wretches were of such construction, each consisting of between eighteen and twenty shoots.

Burgess spoke quietly. “Twelve strokes of the birch for each of you, Kindly brace yourselves and keep perfectly still and take your punishment. This is going to be the most painful experience of your lives to date.” He made no attempt to gauge the feelings of the three bank clerks. He would not look them in the eye. Each in their turn preferred to stare down at the bare floorboards beneath their feet. In time, Burgess closed his eyes completely and appeared, to all the world to be silently praying.

Burgess continued, “I have to tell you that whole purpose of the exercise is to teach you through pain to be better men. It has been my experience to note that a well beaten bottom does wonders to improve the to improve a man’s character.

“You will each now, remove your lower garments.”

It must have been the thought of a future life of penury in the workhouse that encouraged the three wretches to comply. They were utterly defeated. Not one uttered a complaint. Morris was instructed to go first. It is remarkably cumbersome for a man to strip his lower half naked. It took several moments to get the shoes unfastened and off his feet. The trousers were hoisted aloft by braces and required the removal of jacket and waistcoat.

At last – and to the man about to be flogged it must have felt like half a lifetime – he was ready.

“Kneel down with your upper body over the top,” Burgess indicated the birching block. It was a simply-designed apparatus. As described earlier it was like two steps. A man faced forward, knelt on the lower step and leaned forward so that his stomach and upper body was across the top step. Morris, determined not to display weakness in front of his partners-in-crime, steadied himself. He was soon in position. Once over, he was able to see the two leather wrist straps bolted onto the reverse side of the block. Their design was clear – to tie a man in position should he not have the fortitude to present himself humbly.

Morris determined that he would not disgrace himself so. He would, as the saying goes, take it like a man.

Burgess watched with what seemed a disinterested eye as Morris made his preparations. The block had been well designed. Morris’s naked haunches were lifted high at a very good angle to receive the lashing from the birch rod. The buttocks so presented were pale and boney. There was very little meat for the birch rods to flail.

Burgess choose his first rod. All birch rods whatever their construction are almost as delicate as flowers in a vase. They fade quickly. Pieces of broken twig would gather around Burgess’s feet. He might need two or possibly three birch rods to deal with each man. He had prepared for that possibility.

Without ceremony or fanfare, he took a rod from the first bucket. He shook it vigorously. It had been soaking in water and vinegar. It was supposed that the vinegar would make the cut of the rods sting the more. Burgess had heard this to be the true case but he could not swear to its voracity. Even so, he saw no reason not to soak them in such a way. The water, he knew for certain, made the twigs supple and helped in no small way to stop them from breaking too soon.

He gripped the handle firmly and as was his wont he swished it with great ferocity through the air. It had his desired effect. Morris’s buttocks quavered in anticipation. Burgess was not afraid to allow a smile to cross his own lips. Humiliation and suffering.

Now it was time to get on with the job in hand. He stood to the left side of Morris. He allowed the birch to rest gently across the centre of both cheeks. It was of such a size that its head spread and covered almost the entire area of the wretched man’s rump.

Burgess raised the birch into the air, let it rest there and with a twist of his body he let fly. The birch rods separated into a broad fan as they connected with the pale skin. The crack of birch against naked flesh echoed around the empty room. Reddy thought he might faint.

Morris, despite his resolve to be brave in front of his fellows let out a almighty gasp. He could not help it, his body demanded such a response to the intense pain he now felt.

Burgess intended to humiliate his victims. He waited about thirty seconds for the pain to ease and Morris’s anticipation to increase before delivering the second cut. In this way he systematically and methodically covered the whole of Morris’s buttocks.

Morris gripped the leather wrist straps as if his very life depended on not letting go. His gasps grew to yaps and those yaps to yelps. At stroke six Burgess paused, the rod in his hand reduced to strands. He tossed it to the floor and slowly and dramatically crossed the empty room to the enamel pails. He gripped a substitute rod and with equal drama resumed his position to Morris’s left. The wretch was whimpering, but still valiantly gripping the wrist straps. Burgess quietly admired the man’s tenacity. Many another victim before him had broken down and was then tied firmly down to receive the residue of the whipping.

Morris did not know how he had refrained himself from begging for mercy. His protests were unspoken as stroke followed cut. He sobbed quietly.

Then it was over. Twelve slashes of the birch.

“Stand. When you are able to get dressed. Do not leave the room until I instruct you,” Burgess spoke quietly but with immense authority.

With no great dexterity, Morris found his feet. He stumbled but stopped himself falling in a faint to the floor. His companion Reddy choked back the bile in the back of his throat. He observed his colleague hobble away from the block. The poor man’s backside was a glowing expanse of small welts. Many oozed minute amounts of blood. The skin had broken as each strand of the birch had cut into his naked flesh.

Burgess selected a fresh birch, swiped it through the air and intoned, “Reddy. You should take his place.”

That was the last word Reddy heard as the lights around him dimmed and he fell with a crash to the floor.

At about that moment Mr Manwaring-Robertson retraced his journey through the banking hall. He acknowledged the many genuflections of his staff as he strode on his way. Charlie opened the front door and the bank owner was on his way. Miss Allison swooned behind her typewriter. Customers made their deposits or cashed their cheques. Life continued as usual.

 

Picture credit: Laurence Fellows

Other stories you might like

Coffee shop memory

A ritual played out

My boy Dixon

 

More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website

Also writing school stories as Scholastic here

Charles Hamilton the Second

charleshamiltonthesecond@gmail.com

Birching in school hall

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birch at school Mag (6)

Adapted from stories in The Magnet

 

The hushed school hall was packed with boys. Every fellow of every form was there, from sixth-form seniors down to fags of the second form. The prefects were in their places, canes under their arms: the masters, with grave faces: the hapless culprit, quiet and subdued, but with a hint of defiance in his glinting eyes. The Headmaster’s voice was deep and stern.

Hargreaves, his face very pale, stood. The eyes of the boys followed. There were two grinning faces. They seemed to think there was something amusing in a public flogging.

A public flogging was a rare occasion at St Tom’s. The hard old days were long gone when that ancient hall had often echoed to the swishing of the birch in the hands of grim old head-masters and to the painful howls of the victims. St Tom’s men were “whopped” when they required the same, but “six on the bags” in a study was the usual limit. Only on very rare

Occasions – very rare indeed – was there a public “execution”: with the school assembled in the Hall, masters and boys all present, and the culprit “hoisted” in the old fashioned way – and no doubt it was all the more impressive for that reason.

“Hargreaves” – the Head’s stern voice was audible throughout Big Hall.  “You have a disobeyed my commands, and committed what was apparently an unprovoked assault upon a boy belonging to a Highcliffe School. You have not been able to offer the slightest excuse in extenuation of your conduct. I am about to flog you, and I trust the punishment will be a warning to you in the future!”

Hargreaves did not speak. The Head made a sign to Gosling, who advanced to “hoist” the eighteen-year-old. Hargreaves clenched his fists for a moment, and unclenched them again. Apparently the thought of resistance had passed through his mind, only to be dismissed at once. He submitted quietly. Gosling took him up.

Through the silence of Big Hall the lashes of the birch sounded clearly and distinctly. It was a severe flogging, but no sound came from Hargreaves’s lips. His face was pale, his teeth hard set, his eyes gleaming. If the punishment had been doubly as severe, he was determined that no cry should be wrung from his lips. Hardly a sound was heard in the crowded hall.

It was a severe infliction. There was nothing of the grim old Bushy type about the Headmaster, but he had his duty to do, and he did it. And kind old gentleman as the Head seemed at happier moments, there was no doubt that he could whop! Skinner whispered to Snoop that he wondered where the old boy packed the muscle, and Snoop grinned, and Taylor giggled. But most of the fellows were grave and quiet. Hargreaves had asked for it – and more – Hargreaves was tough all through, hard as hickory, and he would have disdained to allow a single cry to leave his lips. But very few fellows could have gone through that castigation in silence.

The last blow delivered, Hargreaves was lowered from Gosling’s back. He slipped to his feet, and stood a little hesitantly, his face white as chalk, his eyes burning. The Head’s glance was compassionate. He had done his duty, and it had been a painful duty to him. “You may go!” he said quietly.  Hargreaves went without a word.

The Head made a sign, and the assembled school in silence, crowded out of Hall. Tom Spencer slipped his arm through Hargreaves’s and led him away. Some fellows would have spoken to him – but the look on Hargreaves’s face did not encourage them. It was pale, set, with eyes smouldering like live coals. Spencer led him away in silence, and the door of No. 4 Study closed on them. Hargreaves leaned on the study table, breathing in gasps. He had succeeded in keeping up an aspect of iron endurance and indifference while many eyes were upon him. But it had fallen from him now like a cloak.

Picture credit: The Magnet

 

More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website

Also writing school stories as Scholastic here

Charles Hamilton the Second

charleshamiltonthesecond@gmail.com

 

Other birching stories you might like

Bend over my knee for a birching

The debut

The thieving window cleaner

Changed Times – the compilation

z used Silhouette cane hold (14)

 

Readers in the United Kingdom don’t need me to tell them that arguments about leaving the European Union have been raging for more than three years and don’t seem to be resolved yet.

Many people who voted to leave the EU (it seemed to me) wanted to return to sometime in the past when in their eyes the world was a less complicated place. Maybe the 1930s where everybody knew their place in the world and discipline was much tighter than it is today.

That set me thinking. What if, after the exit from the EU, we did start to turn the clock back. In my imagination, corporal punishment was reintroduced into schools. This proved such a success with parents that it was soon extended to include other young people, such as university and college students and workplace apprentices. Before long any person under the age of thirty could be subjected to the cane or the birch (or any other CP implement of choice).

So, was born the series of stories that I called “Changed Times.” I have brought them all together here for those who may not have seen them before. I enjoyed writing them, but the stories and sentiments expressed are fiction and I am not asking you to join me in forming a new political party.

Click on the titles and I hope you enjoy reading them.

Charles

 

1: A glimpse into the near future

This story sets up the series and follows Kenny on his first day at college as an apprentice to Global Petroleum.

“Sterling fumbled with the three buttons on his company blazer. He visibly trembled as he slipped the jacket over his shoulders and pulled his arms through the sleeves. Then, without waiting for instructions, he dropped the blazer onto the top of the desk.

“Kenny and his fellow new recruits could see Sterling’s face. It was deathly pale and bathed in sweat. A moustache of moisture clung to the young man’s upper lip.

‘“Lower your trousers and underpants.”’

 

2: Neighbourhood watch

The new laws affect all aspects of society.

“Mr Scroggins was the “punishment officer” for the Neighbourhood Watch. It was a title he chose for himself. It wasn’t official; he wasn’t paid a salary. He didn’t want paying, he was glad to perform his civic duty.

“The Neighbourhood Watch had been formed in the words of its members, ‘to take back the streets.’ The Avenue was in a prosperous middle-class suburb.

“They had a ‘punishment room’ at the community hall. It was a plain functional room; windowless and lit by a single overhead light. It was quite small, but big enough for its purpose. It contained a small whipping horse which enabled the wrists, ankles and knees of the youth to be secured with straps. The horse itself had once been in the gymnasium of a local school. It had been lowered and modified so that when a young man was properly mounted and helpless the padded upper surface was quite comfortable.”

 

  1. The police station

Of course, the police play a large part in the new social control.

‘“Lift him up. On the table,” Reid dragged the prisoner by the arm and hauled him so that his whole body was forced onto the cold laminated top. Each arm and leg was gripped by a police officer.

‘“Good work, lads. Good work.” Sgt. Gould had returned. In his hand he held a heavy leather strap with a wooden handle at one end.

‘“A prison strap,” he waved it in the air. “They used them in Canada. Apparently.” He swiped it some more. The prisoner could not see it. He was held tightly face-down on the table. Reid’s left hand pressed his head into the hard surface.”

 

  1. Global Petroleum

We return to Global Petroleum.

“Mr Hodgson took his new role as Global Petroleum’s local Discipline Officer very seriously. He had attended, in his own time, a weekend course in ‘Applying Discipline in the Modern Age.’ He learnt all about the new punishment laws; about the duties of the employers and the responsibilities of the young apprentices.

“He learnt the theory; but also the practice. The workshop participants spent an afternoon acquiring caning techniques. Who would have thought it was difficult? Mr Hodgson had supposed the young man would submissively offer him his buttocks and Mr Hodgson would whack them with a cane.”

z used Silhouette paddle hold (1)

  1. At home

Emboldened by the new laws, fathers were reintroducing discipline into their own homes.

“Downstairs in the living room Mr Nightingale flexed a thick rattan cane thoughtfully in his hands. He had never held such a thing until the day he bought it in the local market. A stall specialised in all kinds of spanking instruments. It did a roaring trade in school canes and paddles. Mr Nightingale picked up a large scatter cushion and balanced it over the back of an armchair. Then, he positioned himself an arm’s length to its side. The cushion was more or less where George’s backside would be in about ten minutes’ time. Mr Nightingale rubbed the cane across the cushion, raised his arm high and brought the whippy rod crashing down. A line indented across the centre of the polyester-filled cushion.”

 

  1. Birched live on TV

The title of this story speaks for itself.

‘“Stand by everybody,” the television director whispered in his mouthpiece. ‘We’re live in twenty seconds.’ Sweat glistened on his top lip. His heartbeat raced. He couldn’t understand why. He had done countless live broadcasts in his time. But, none quite like this.

“The twenty-two-year-old prisoner heaved his body this way and that. It did no good. He was going nowhere. His wrists were secured by plastic ties. His legs were roped to the frame.

“The director breathed deeply. He knew his show would get record ratings. The first-ever broadcast of a youth flogging. The pubic had been clamouring for it. They wanted to see the thugs suffer. They demanded all of it. The screams. The blood. The works. And, live on TV. Beamed by satellite into their homes.”

  1. Pub landlord

Soon everyone was getting in on the act. A pub landlord takes control after a group of lads get rowdy and smash up chairs.

“I remember my hands shook so much I couldn’t get my belt buckle to open. I had never been naked in front of a man before. I must have been fourteen the last time I had stripped off for PE lessons at school. I was as terrified of being seen naked – and lacking in the you-know-where department – in front of my pals.

“Somehow, I managed to loosen my jeans and they fell to my knees and I left them there while I tugged my tee-shirt over my head. Tony and Bill were even slower undressing then me. At last we stood in our underwear and socks. Mortified.”

  1. Just another day

Just another day, in just another office. It could be anywhere across the UK. Three twenty-something workers face the consequences of not taking a training workshop seriously.

“Rowe stared at the cane in his boss’s hand. ‘But we already got dealt with by Mr. Richardson.’

‘“Be quite! I don’t care about Mr. Richardson.’

“Rowe blushed. It wasn’t fair. The workshop facilitator had already spanked them. Twenty-three years old and bent over Mr. Richardson’s knee, trousers at his ankles, underpants at his knees while the old man hammered a heavy wooden ruler into his bared buttocks. Could you imagine such a thing?

  1. The truck

Another workplace whacking. What happens if you consistently turn up late for work?

“My legs felt like they were made of lead as I trudged out of the portable office and into the yard. The moment I was outside everything stopped and my workmates gathered around to see the fun. Some of the older ones had huge grins; they were going to enjoy the sport – me, bare-arsed across the truck. Sandy and Jake, two lads about my age, were deathly pale. They knew that it could be one of them next.

“It was a late spring morning and quite warm, but I couldn’t stop shivering. I’d never been spanked before.”

 

Picture credits: Unknown

 

I have also written other “futuristic” stories along the lines of Changed Times. You can read some of them here

 

A right caning

The Dean’s list

We need to talk about Jake

Caned at college

University student late for class

More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website

Also writing school stories as Scholastic here

Charles Hamilton the Second

charleshamiltonthesecond@gmail.com

 

The escapee (or Blakey on the run)

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z used solo boy escaping industrial school Hots

The bars across the window had been sawn through weeks before. They hadn’t been fixed. Money was tight. There were more important things to worry about. Blakey pulled open the sash windows. It was almost dark. The rest of the “students” would be down in the recreation rooms in the hour before bedtime. Now, was the perfect time. He lowered himself to the ground. Crouched, just to check that there were no master around. The coast was clear. He ran towards the gate and was through it and on the road through the Widdicombe Woods in seconds.

It was hardly The Great Escape. Central Industrial School was an establishment for young offenders; chiefly petty, but persistent criminals. Society looked them up in school where they learned a trade before being allowed back to live among decent folk.

It wasn’t high security prison. Really, it was just like an ordinary boarding school; except for the bars. Inmates – or “students” as the authorities preferred to call them – escaped from time to time. Nobody at the schools cared too much; they always got caught. Some found so-called “freedom” tough and handed themselves in. When the masters – as they called the “warders” – found out Blakey had absconded they wouldn’t lose too much sleep.

Blakey wouldn’t get far. The uniform he was forced to wear would give hm away. Someone would soon spot him and know he was on the run. There are not many nineteen-year-old boys running around wearing blue short trousers. And certainly not in November.

No sirens were sounded; no road blocks set up. Blakey wasn’t a murderer or a rapist, breaking into gas meters was his speciality. In time local police would be informed.

Central Industrial School was two miles outside the small town of Brocklehurst and that was Blakey’s destination. He had a girl there. Blakey had needs. So did many of the students at Central Industrial School. It was the way they met those needs that upset Blakey. He needed the real thing and Doris, his girl, would see to it that he got it.

He lasted nearly two whole days. Two officers in a police car took him back. Capt. Harris, the “headmaster” and chief “housemaster” Mr White were ready to receive him. Preparations had already been made. Before the police car had made it to the end of the school’s drive, Capt. Harris gave the order, “Take him down to the gymnasium.”

Blakey made no protest. He didn’t struggle. Calmly, but not meekly, he followed Mr White. There was an eerie quietness about the place. Students were in classes in the main school building. The gymnasium stood on its own at the far end of the school grounds, a little behind the football pitches. It was cold, a frost had not melted and Blakey’s feet crunched along the ground as he trudged to his fate.

Mr White was silent. He had nothing to say. He didn’t care to ask why Blakey had run away; why the boy had done it in the clear knowledge that he would be caught. And what would happen to him upon capture. There was no secret about these things.

The gymnasium was a dilapidated building constructed mostly of wooden slats. It was cold and damp, uninviting at the best of times, even less so on this bitter winter’s afternoon. The door had been left ajar. “Get in,” Mr White barked. He stood aside to allow the nineteen-year-old absconder to enter ahead of him. Mr White feared the lad might try to make another run for it. The gymnasium was dark and dank, and almost completely empty. The first thing Blakey saw as he entered was Mr Albion; another of the school’s housemasters. Mr Albion taught mathematics. He also held a special role in the school. One that made him both feared and hated by the boys.

Blakey blinked hard. It took a second for his eyes to adjust to the dim light. He saw Mr Albion standing behind an old, worn down vaulting horse. But that was not what startled Blakely. Behind Mr Albion and lined up against the wall were three huge enamel buckets and poking out of each of them were a bunch of birches, each soaking in what appeared to be dirty water. Blakey couldn’t stop his eyes from blinking rapidly. This time it wasn’t the poor light that had his lashes flickering. It was trepidation. He peered closely and even at a distance he saw each birch rod was a cluster of nine or ten leafless branches three feet long and tightly bound at the base with sticking plaster.

“Step forward, stand in front of the horse,” Mr Albion barked. Blakey hesitated. He wanted to comply; he couldn’t get his body to agree. “Hurry up Lad!” Mr Albion did not try to hide his impatience or his disdain for the “student” standing before him. At last Blakey’s legs were able to obey and he stood, unsteady on his feet. He heard little of what Mr Albion said next, he was staring at the leather horse. It was about four feet off the ground and had four short and sturdy wooden legs. Attached to each of these legs, around eight inches from the ground, were heavy leather straps. There could be no doubt of its purpose.

Only then did Blakey notice Mr Albion had moved towards the enamel buckets. Now, he stood gripping a bound birch rod in his hand, its long and thin twigs provocatively splayed.

“Remove your clothes,’ the terse order seemed to be made by a voice from a very long distance.”

Blakey croaked. His throat was dry, his legs shook and his stomach lurched with sickening fear. He couldn’t formulate a response. Mr Albion repeated himself, “Remove your clothes. All of them. Make a pile over there.” He swished the birch rod in the direction of a near corner. Water droplets flew from it and left a damp patch on the floor near his feet.

Blakey’s body once more refused to move. The enormity of his situation dawned on him. The horse, the straps, the birch, all threateningly combined for an attack on his fragile body.

Mr Albion glared at the wretched boy in front of him. “Do as I say and we can get this over and done with.”

Blakey could still not speak but his body responded. He was on some kind of auto-pilot. He removed his jacket and let it drop to the ground. His baggy, ill-fitting shorts fell to the floor the moment he released the belt. His shirt was next. Then he was dressed only in undervest and drawers. He stood, eyes now pleading with Mr Albion.

“Everything. All of it. Naked,” he roared, no longer speaking in sentences.

Blakey put his fumbling hands underneath his vest and, nervously pulled the rough material over his head. As he did so he smelt his own sweat. His armpits were rancid. He dropped the vest at his feet. Then, he slipped his thumbs inside the waist of his grey, woollen drawers. Like all of his clothes they were ill-fitting and they were soon down to his ankles. Immediately, and instinctively, he clasped his hands in front to hide his privates.

“Step out of them,” Mr Albion swished the birch rod again. “Kick them away. Right out of the way.”

An observer of this scene might have been surprised to witness what happened next. There were no abject pleas for mercy. No cursing and swearing. No struggles. No unseemly fight as Blakey fought to escape the terrible ordeal that was ahead. The lad allowed himself to be led by the arm to the horse. There he was bent over and tied, first by the hands and then by the legs. The downward slope of the horse meant that his backside was raised unusually high. In a moment his bare behind would feel the first kiss of the birch. Two hard, round hairless buttocks quivered as Mr Albion gently touched the splaying twigs against the naked flesh.

z used restrained naked horse (1)

Then, he raised the birch and remorselessly, and with a skill honed by experience, lashed it down across the upturned naked cheeks. Blakey yelled. He was no stranger to corporal punishment, his backside had been blistered by any number of whippy, rattan school canes. This was different. The cane delivers a single blow each time it falls, the birch causes more pain, owing to the number of thin supple rods. The more Blakey yelled the more Mr Albion lashed the unrelenting birch across his arched backside. Each combined thrash of the individual twigs found every inch of the lad’s mounds.

By the third stroke Blakey was lurching both to the left and the right. By the fifth stroke, realising that unremitting straps held his naked frame firmly in place, he begged for release. On the eighth he sobbed uncontrollably. “Please sir, no more. Please!’

The ninth stroke of the birch caught the underside of Blakey’s buttocks. “No more. Oh god, no more.”

The tenth and eleventh strokes lashed across the dividing curves of the young and, still smooth, backside. The twelfth stroke, firm and true, fell hard across the centre of all that had gone before.

Mr Albion’s birch had done its work for the final time. The last stroke embedded itself in the bare flesh and, having left a final mark, dragged down the outstretched legs and rested.

Blakey gradually ceased his screaming but continued to sob and bleat. Even that faded away to nothingness until, eventually, an eerie silence and stillness fell upon the gymnasium. Only the picture of a beaten lad, stretched naked across a vaulting horse. Mr Albion and Mr White left and did not return for ten minutes but, when they did, a still and exhausted lad had resumed his quiet sobbing.

Then the man who had birched Blakey’s bottom gently released the restraining straps and, just as gently, lifted him off the horse. For a moment Blakey was unbalanced and dizzy but, as Mr Albion put a steadying hand on his shoulders, his own hands moved to ease his burning rear. In silence and with much difficulty Blakey climbed back into his clothes.

“Come with me, that backside of yours needs some attention,” Mr White demanded and he led the way from the gymnasium, a bulge in his right hand trouser pocket causing him to limp a little.

 

 

Picture credits: Hotspur / Unknown

Other stories you might like

Changed Times 6. Birched live on TV

The sneak thief

Trousers down. Over my knee

 

More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website

Charles Hamilton the Second

charleshamiltonthesecond@gmail.com

Speaking in support of the birch

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z used birch school CS (20)

Gentlemen,

I speak this evening in support of the birch as a preferred method of chastisement in schools. As you will be aware there is a great deal of debate and correspondence in our great newspapers regarding the introduction of the supple cane to replace the age-old birch rod. I speak as the headmaster of one of our country’s greatest schools and I trust you will consider that I speak from experience.

For those unfamiliar with such things, the birch rod is an ordinary birch and is constructed of twelve or fourteen twigs held together at one end into a handle. Its length is up to eighteen inches and the spread of the rods is twelve inches. It is applied to the bare posterior once trousers and underwear are lowered.

As some of us know, the birch stings freely and occasionally breaks the upper skin and underlying tissue. But the birch hurts less than the cane in the end.

I approve of the use of this punishment rather than expulsion for some of the graver offences, and for the continual repetition of lesser faults, which other punishments have failed to control. I approve of the use of the birch only, for it simply temporarily stings.

It should be administered only on the place suggested by nature; and thus applied I continue to advocate it as one of the kindest, most impressive, and least injurious punishments.

Further, it should be invariably administered by the headmaster, or in his presence and never by the form-master. I entirely disapprove of the use of the cane, for it can act as an instrument of torture, severely bruising the posterior for days and weeks. Moreover, a vindictive cut with the cane on the hand by a master can be too easily given in the moment of exasperation. This could not occur where the birch was employed; the use of the birch, too, allows time for the temper to subside before its application.

I believe that the birch is a safer method of chastisement than the cane. It can do less harm than a severe blow with a single cane, and at the same time a lighter stroke causes more pain, owing to the number of thin supple rods. The severity of application is more important than the size of the birch. In all cases in which it is used the part should be naked, as injury might be caused by objects in the boy’s clothing coming in contact with the body under the blow. The presumption is that in all cases the boy is in a good state of health, but if he is not, the injury from the one method would be very similar in all respects to the other.

Those who paint harrowing pictures of the boy’s sufferings from his well-deserved punishment simply betray their ignorance. I can speak from knowledge. I have suffered both birching and caning; I have inflicted both, on some of my children and on some of my pupils. My own experience and that of my victims, voluntarily communicated long afterwards, is that the former is the less painful operation, though the marks (which no one need or ought to see) may to the uninitiated appear to betoken the contrary. I believe that medical authorities are pretty well agreed that of all the forms of corporal infliction in use in English schools and of all the instruments used for that purpose, flogging with a birch rod in the usual way is the least injurious. Caning on the hand is almost universally condemned, and the efficacy of an infliction on a covered portion of the body varies with the amount and texture of the ordinary (or extraordinary) clothing worn upon it at the time.

For centuries the birch was the usual form of school flagellation, and although no doubt in olden times school punishments, like those of adult criminals, erred greatly on the side of severity, that is no reason why a moderate chastisement should be regarded as an outrage. Probably a majority of the older men among aristocratic families have been flogged in the old fashioned way in their boyhood for much less serious offences than lying, and even the younger ones who have not experienced the discipline of the birch rod themselves have been at schools where they were liable to it on due occasion. Certainly no schoolboy who has had experience would regard five strokes with the rod (which, is the amount of this much-exaggerated punishment) as a very serious or severe infliction. I can only say that when I was a boy I should have expected (and my expectation would not have been disappointed) a much more severe personal penance for a similar offence, if at home from my parents or at school from my master.

In conclusion, may I say that if there be one thing that will not fit our boys for the important and honourable duties of future citizenship it is ‘mollycoddling.’ Some parents nowadays injure their children and lessen the teacher’s influence for good by listening to petty complaints about punishment. It is a great mistake. It tends to sap the growth of true nobility of character and make puling, whining nobodies. Long ago (those were manifestly more Spartan times) when a boy was caned or strapped the last thing he dreamt of doing was to tell his father. He knew that most likely in that case the chastisement would be supplemented. That line of action, for the boy’s sake, was immeasurably the better one. Let parents wisely, frankly, tenderly put their boys on their honour to be truthful, pure-minded, inflexibly fair and just, kindly and companionable to be, indeed, always and everywhere genuine, and to honour their teachers, on whose efforts their future so much depends. And while warning the boys against getting into scrapes, let the parents with equal frankness tell them, should they ever happen to get into one, not to sulk or whine, but stick to the truth and take their chastisement like a man and be wiser for the future. Above all things, may we be saved from a generation of ‘mollycoddles’!

Thank you for listening.

Picture credit: C of Sweden

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This story was compiled from genuine correspondence in the Manchester Guardian, England, in 1907

Other stories you might like

 

The Gaffer of The Academy 3. Caned-off

MacTaggart’s House for Naughty Boys

The Boy From Across The Street

 

More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website

Charles Hamilton the Second

charleshamiltonthesecond@gmail.com

Summer spent staring at the carpet

new 5

z used otk chair head bbfc (200)

I cannot begin to remember how often I had a close-up view of the carpet that summer. My nose hovering inches above the dusty, cheap flooring. Trousers at my ankles, underwear at the knees and Uncle Simon flogging a birch rod into my naked buttocks. Yowl! I can still feel the sting as I recall the pain and indignity of it all.

Nineteen years old and over an older man’s knees for a bare-arsed whipping. Can you imagine such a thing?

I’m not sure where to begin. It was 1974. A lifetime away. I had spent the previous six months banged up at Her Majesty’s Pleasure. They called it Youth Detention in those days, a bit like borstal really. It doesn’t much matter what you called it, it was still locked up three to a cell for most of the day. I was a menace to society, apparently. Okay, I stole cars. Lots of them in fact. Can you be addicted to stealing cars? Perhaps I was. Do they have a special name for it? Probably. I never did much with them. I drove around at high speed and when I had my fill I dumped them. Crazy really. It didn’t take the cops long to find me. The daft magistrates gave me community service the first time. Making tea at some old granny’s day centre. At the end of the third day there, I stole a Cortina and thrashed it along the motorway. The magistrate gave me a fine that time.

The fifth time I was up before the Bench, he sent me to YD. Mum disowned me when I came out. Step forward Uncle Simon.

“What he needs,” he told my mum, “is a good dose of the birch. None of that namby-pamby community service.” And, he knew what he was talking about. Uncle Simon was no angel when he was younger. House breaking was his thing. Stealing wireless sets his speciality. I know, it just shows you how long ago that was. The Assizes ordered him to six strokes of the birch. Bare-arsed, naturally. “Still got the scars to prove it,” Uncle Simon boasted. I never believed him. I asked him once to drop his kecks and show me his bare arse. Enough said on that matter.

I was to find out myself that the birch can take your arse off, but the cuts soon heal. Uncle Simon took me into his home which was a dingey little flat on a council estate near Widdicombe Woods. It was near one of the poshest suburbs of Brocklehurst and I thought nothing of bunking over garden walls and taking my pick from summer houses and sheds. Now and again one of the old geezers who lived there left a french window carelessly unlocked. Bingo! In those days you could easily sell a video in the pub. Ha!

What I didn’t reckon with was that Uncle Simon hadn’t changed so much. He liked to drink in the less savoury joints and hang out with petty criminals so when one time I waltzed into The Three Fishers with a video recorder hidden in a Tesco’s bag who should I see propping up the bar? He didn’t say anything. His deadly stare was enough to make me leg it out of the pub. I knew I was for it later. Still, I thought, in for a penny in for a pound. Or, better to be hung for a sheep than for a lamb.  Actually, I probably didn’t really think that at the time (I hadn’t learned about fancy words; that came later). What I did was I went touring the pubs until I sold the video. So, at least my pockets were jangling with cash by the time I got home.

Uncle Simon was waiting. He had put the time since I saw him to good use. The second I walked through the door the very strong smell of freshly-cut tree branches hit me. Uncle Simon was in the kitchen busy with a bread knife. But he wasn’t cutting sandwiches; he had a pile of birch twigs neatly stacked on the kitchen table. I stood half in the doorway and watched, as he collected about a dozen of the twigs together and wrapped sticking plaster around one end. This made a makeshift, but effective handle. As he finished off the second birch rod, he acknowledged my presence. I probably blushed to my roots, but I didn’t say a word. Uncle Simon didn’t say much. He took both birch rods in his hands and nodded in a direction behind me. “Living room. Now!”

I didn’t need to ask for confirmation or explanation. I knew precisely what he intended to do. Now, at this point in my story, you too know what happens next. But, you might also be asking yourself, “Why did he let his Uncle do this?” You probably think I should have told him to go to hell and refused to have anything to do with his plan. And it would be perfectly reasonable of you to say that. I have no answer to you. Except to say that this was a very long time ago and I had been through the youth detention system and maybe I was conditioned to this kind of thing. I lived a regimented life; there were rules and you were expected to obey them. If you didn’t you were punished. Sometimes that meant a birching. That’s life. What I can say to those of you with suspicious minds, not for one moment did I enjoy this.

So, I trudged into the living room with Uncle Simon following closely behind me. The room was very small, like the rest of the flat, and had a cheap, vinyl settee and two small armchairs that did not match it. There was a beat-up table in the corner and a worn, wooden straight backed armless chair. “Put that there!” Uncle spoke softly and in a monotone voice. I knew what he meant and I picked up the chair and took it into the middle of the room. As I did that Uncle Simon laid the birch rods on the table. He left one there and took the other with him as he went and sat on the chair. He spread his legs the way you do at times like this and told me quietly and sternly, “Take down your jeans and pants. You know what to do.”

I did. And I knew why I was about to be birched. Uncle Simon had not said a word about my thieving. He knew that I knew and that was enough. All he wanted was to get on with it. He didn’t even give me time to take off my coat. I stood about a yard distance from Uncle’s  right thigh and stared at him. At the time I thought he was an old man but now I look back I suppose how wasn’t much over fifty. He was padding out a bit and he had a muffin belly that hung a little over his belt. He still had all his hair, but it was going grey at the temples. I looked at the birch in his hands. By this time I had become familiar with this. We all called it “a birch” but I think it was actually made of about a dozen hazel twigs; he had cut each of them to about ten or twelve inches and tied them into a handle at one end. Despite its size it wasn’t very heavy; not like the birches Uncle Simon had been flogged with back in the day. He had constructed the birch so he could swish my bare arse while I was bent across his knee in the traditional naughty-little-boy fashion. Of course, since I was face down staring at the carpet I never saw this, but I’m pretty certain that the birch rods spread enough to cover both my cheeks in a single swipe.

So, Uncle Simon told me to strip down and I did. My jeans were puddled over my trainers and my boxer shorts hung over my knees. “Bend over,” he said and again I did as I was told. I was roughly the same height as Uncle Simon but a lot leaner and my body fitted comfortably across his lap. He spread his legs so there was a platform for my stomach and chest to rest on. My arms and head dangled forward. Uncle gripped my right arm and twisted it up my back so I was pinned down. My bare bum was raised high over his thigh and my legs stretched behind me and with my knees bent a little my toes hovered above the carpet. I waited submissively. I had no intention of fighting Uncle Simon.

It was summer, but the day was not particularly warm. A window was open and a breeze cooled my bare bottom and legs. Uncle Simon teased me by gently caressing my naked cheeks with the birch. It was ticklish. But not for long. I felt the birch being raised, Uncle Simon held it aloft for a second or so and then there was an almighty swishing noise as it swooped through the air and connected with terrific force across the undercurves of my buttocks. My entire body shuddered, my knees buckled and a long, shrill hiss of air escaped through my clenched teeth. Another second or so passed and I felt a searing pain as the skin on my bum burned like the fires of Hell.

Uncle Simon repeated the manoeuvre and this time he laid the birch high on the crest of my mounds. Now, ever square inch of my bottom was alight. It throbbed madly and I knew small cuts were creeping across the whole target area. My heartbeat was off the scale and my temples ached almost as much as my bum. I did the wriggling and writhing thing again, but Uncle had a very firm hold of me and I wasn’t going anywhere until he said so.

Of course, with both cheeks roaring any further swipes of the birch could only land on already raw flesh and reignite the intense pain. Uncle Simon showed no mercy. Swipe! Swish! Swipe! Swish! Six cuts had opened up the flesh. No matter how many times I went across Uncle Simon’s knee that summer I never got used to the sting of the birch. I kicked; I wriggled; I swayed; I yelped; I yelled; I hollered. I was out of control. I had no choice. It was an entirely physical reaction, it was my body’s way of coping with the assault. That was why my face was awash with tears after three stokes and my chin was soaked in snot after six.

He stopped after nine. I hopped to my feet and rubbed away like fury. My bum felt like raw hamburger meat. The cheeks were criss-crossed with dozens and dozens of thin lines; some were white and others glowed dark pink. Before long the whole lot would merge into a deep mauve that in the days to come would transform into oranges and yellows before eventually disappearing. My bum felt like it had swollen to twice its normal size. I glared at Uncle Simon, not with fury but remorse. My eyes were on stalks and I could hardly see through the tears. It would take some time yet before my heartrate steadied, my breathing eased and my body returned to its natural state. I couldn’t bear the pain involved in pulling up my boxers and jeans so with them at my ankles I waddled like a penguin from the room and staggered across the passage to my bedroom. I lay face down sobbing for the rest of the day.

Did it do me any good; that summer spent staring at the carpet? Well, the truth is I did carry on stealing. Uncle Simon lost patience and threw me out. I left Brocklehurst and thumbed a lift North. One day with a couple of equally coked-up pals I attempted to rob an off-licence. We got five years jail time for that and I’ve been in and out ever since.

 

Picture credit: British Boys Fetish Club

Other stories you might like

Changed Times 6. Birched live on TV

The hotel swimming pool

A night on the tiles

 

 

More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website

Charles Hamilton the Second

charleshamiltonthesecond@gmail.com