Story from Janus 44.
Behind high walls. Part 1
by R.T. Mason
THE discreet sign on the brick pillar at the side of the large iron gates says simply: 'Balcombe Manor'. A black limousine draws up along the lane which leads from the main road. The uniformed chauffeur gets out, unlocks the gate and then drives through. In the back seat a pretty young woman glance around, her large eyes alert, inquiring. Are they apprehensive too? The chauffeur gets out again to relock the gates and then drives on, wheels crunching softly on the gravel of the driveway as it winds its way through leafy shrubs and stately old trees.
Yes, the young woman is apprehensive. She is trying not to be and tells herself, as she has told herself ever since it was decided that she was corning here, that there is no need to be apprehensive, that in fact she is very fortunate because a stay at Balcombe Manor is not at all cheap. But her new husband, Roger Filton, is rich and he can well afford to send his young wife here. They have been married just six months. Roger Filton is 45 so he has been in no hurry to make matrimonial ties. Annabel, our young lady in the back of the limousine, is 22; a very pretty girl with a lovely shapely figure, well educated and coming from an excellent family.
These are admirable qualities in a young wife but there are other qualities too that a gentleman may wish to see in a new spouse. In particular that whole area of femininity and submission which nowadays can be so neglected in a girl's upbringing. Many gentlemen of traditional views will regard such qualities as almost beyond price. At Balcombe Manor, for a not unreasonable cost, they can be taught.
In addition to those ornate iron gates Balcombe Manor's ten acres are surrounded by a high substantial brick wall. It is a beautiful, mostly Georgian house set deep in the heart of the English countryside. It was chosen for its purpose because of this very remoteness and seclusion from prying eyes, since the training that is offered here is clearly the sort of thing that the common press, if alerted, would make a very big meal of. One has only to think of that unfortunate establishment in Ireland, set up to give adult young women a taste of life at a traditional girls' boarding school, which in recent months was discovered by the press. It was a highly traumatic experience for all concerned.
Mrs Blackett of Balcombe Manor shudders at the thought of anything like that. So you will not see advertise¬ments for her courses, not even in the most select and refined of periodicals; word of mouth is anyway quite suf¬ficient. Word does get around. Deborah X for instance, a highly admired young wife; oh yes, she spent two months at Balcombe Manor. That sort of thing. In any case it was not intended for the masses. It is expensive and it can only cope with at most five young women at a time. Because personal tuition and attention are essential. All applicants are vetted.
The black limousine comes to the end of the drive, in front of Balcombe Manor's handsome facade. The chauffeur gets out and opens the rear door. Annabel Filton, looking a little nervous, alights. She is quite tall, with lustrous shoulder-length chestnut hair, in a restrained well-tailored navy-blue suit with matching patent leather court shoes. As the chauffeur moves round to collect her cases from the boot a housemaid appears at the front door. Smiling, she conducts the visitor in. Annabel has time to glimpse through glossy laurels an immaculate lawn shimmering in the afternoon sunshine. In the shade to one side in an old-fashioned garden swing-seat sit two young women in quiet conversation.
Inside, across a richly carpeted hall, the maid knocks quietly at a door. They enter a sumptuously appointed office/sitting-room. Opposite, behind a splendid rosewood desk is seated a maturely handsome woman, her thick grey-flecked black hair drawn somewhat severely back. She rises, smiling and extending her hand.
'It's Mrs Filton of course: Annabel. Good afternoon; I am Sylvia Blackett. Bring us some tea, would you, Bridget please.'
The maid curtseys and quietly exits. Mrs Blackett indicates two wing chairs looking out on the shimmering lawn. They sit down.
'Good; now first things first. I shall address you by your Christian name, Annabel, because you are very much in the position of pupil and teacher. For the same reason you will address me as Mrs Blackett. So, Annabel, your husband has sent you here for two months of training. He is clearly an eminently sensible husband, if I may say so, and I do not say this because of my fee. Standards of behaviour in young women simply seem to go from bad to worse. Don't you agree, my dear?'
Annabel hesitates, then nods. She does not necessarily agree and she has remonstrated with Roger at length after he suggested that she come here. But thankfully she is not a rebellious young woman.
'Yes, I'm sure you do. Well, he may rest assured with us. When you leave you will be a credit to him, Annabel, and a credit to your sex. You will embrace all the traditional feminine virtues. Self-discipline and charmingly feminine submission to the male. That is the goal, is it not, my dear?'
Annabel says quietly, 'Yes, Mrs Blackett.' She is reasonably submissive already though and she has been able to see no good reason to come here to learn it. There has been considerable argument, accompanied by tears on Annabel's side. But husband Roger has been adamant. The course has been highly recommended to him.
'Stand up, please, Annabel.'
Annabel stands, her high heels sinking into the expensive carpet. She has a full womanly figure, the jacket of her suit showing the bulge of ripe breasts while, below, her straight skirt likewise indicates generous buttocks.
'Yes; most charming, but we are not exactly a Twiggy, are we, Annabel? And I don't imagine you are wearing a foundation garment?'
Annabel bites her lip and shakes her head. She has heard some talk of foundation garments in connection with Balcombe Manor.
'No, I thought not. But a good firm foundation is the very basis of proper femininity, Annabel. Tight-lacing is a constant reminder to a young woman of that so essential self-discipline. A young woman of quality does not allow her body to sway and jiggle and flop, she keeps it under firm control. Tomorrow morning, young lady, we shall take a trip into town, to my corsetiere. We shall see about that too too exuberant flesh.'
Annabel pushes back a lock of errant chestnut hair. She had noticed, when Mrs Blackett was standing, that under her elegant plum-coloured gown she was remarkably slim-waisted for an older woman. The reason is now evident. Mrs Blackett has not finished.
'And while we are on the subject of discipline, Annabel, there is that other very key area. Physical chastisement. Were you whipped at school? Caned?'
Annabel is still standing, rather as a schoolgirl might before her Headmistress. Mrs Blackett's stunning words make this very appropriate. Flushing red the young woman shakes her head. Mrs Blackett gets to her feet, deep brown eyes smiling.
'Another area of quite essential discipline, my dear. Just remember, those so charming Victorian and Edwardian ladies whom we so very much admire were all brought up with the constant threat of a sound whipping across their buttocks.'
She lightly touches Annabel's arm. An Annabel who can feel her knees trembling.
'So you'll be pleased to hear that we have a regular regimen of the cane and strap here at Balcombe Manor. It is administered by myself and by Gillman, my senior servant, who is a mature and experienced man. A system of demerits is operated. All aspects of a pupil's behaviour are kept under scrutiny arid demerits are recorded in her Record Book which she must keep up to date at all times.'
Annabel's head is spinning. A friend who knew someone who was here had smilingly alluded to the cane but Annabel assumed it was simply a joke. Mrs Blackett squeezes her arm.
'All pupils are assessed stringently, Annabel; that is how one learns and progresses, is it not? You can therefore expect to receive a whipping most days.'
A soft knock at the door. It is the maid with the tea: choice crockery and elegant silver on a tray. Mrs Blackett, as she deals with the tea things, is giving further details. So that body control can be achieved more rapidly and also to get the full effect of body discipline, a restraining garment will be worn at all times, including in bed. Annabel will only remove it for her bath. Annabel sips the fine China tea but its taste goes unnoticed as she listens to what Mrs Blackett is saying. Did Roger know all this? Can he be a party to this subjugation of his wife?
Almost as if Mrs Blackett can read the younger woman's thoughts she smiles across at Annabel. 'It is all as your husband would wish, my dear. It is what he would wish to do himself but to be effective it needs a third party, someone who can take an objective view.'
Mrs Blackett's beringed hand puts down her cup. 'He will naturally be permitted to visit you; up to twice a week is allowed – more than that does interfere with a girl's training. And you will be allowed to see him in the privacy of your own room. We are understanding of a husband's needs and there is no reason why he should be completely deprived of his wife's marital services for the two months she is on the course.'
Annabel flushes. So Roger will be allowed to come and... and make love to her. So that he doesn't get deprived. While she...
Mrs Blacken smiles her charming smile. 'Does all this sound a little unwelcome, my dear?'
'No... no...' Though of course it sounds highly unwelcome. The cane and being constantly in corsets when she has never dreamt of wearing them.
The older woman's tone is suddenly firmer. 'I don't think you are being quite honest, Annabel. I detect that you do find all this less than ideal. Now in the first place I require a pupil to be completely honest with me, and in the second place if one is unhappy about something one has to learn not to show it. So for a start we could call that two demerits, couldn't we?'
Annabel's face flushes deep red again.
'Yes, Mrs Blackett,' she answers submissively.
'That's better, young lady. We shall call it two demerits.' Mrs Blackett rises with a rustle of her rich gown and goes over to her desk. She returns with a small leather-covered notebook, maroon grain with Balcombe Manor printed in gold. The book is handed to Annabel, together with an expensive gold Parker pen.
'Sit down and start your record, Annabel. Write on the first page: Annabel Filton: Her Record Book. On the next page write the date and: Two demerits. Underneath write: Lack of honesty and lack of self-control. When you have done that you will receive two strokes of the cane.'
Annabel's hand seems scarcely able to write; the words that appear are hardly recognisable as her normal firm handwriting. Two strokes of the cane! Has Mrs Blackett actually said this?
That lady has pressed a buzzer and the door now opens. A man, of similar age to Mrs Blackett, in a dark suit like the chauffeur. His face has the impassive expression of the well-trained English manservant.
'Ah Gillman. This is our new pupil, Mrs Filton. Would you fetch a medium-weight cane, please?'
His expression does not change. 'Yes Madam.' Looking at Annabel he says, 'Good afternoon, Madam,' then goes out. In no time he is back, a wicked-looking three-foot cane in his hand.
Annabel is trembling all over. She has put the Record Book and the pen in her handbag, as instructed by Mrs Blackett. Annabel's big green-brown eyes fix on the cane, mesmerised.
'Stand please, Annabel. Remove your skirt; then raise your slip and lower your knickers. Gillman will give you two strokes across your bare bottom.'
The green-brown eyes dart to Mrs Blackett in disbelief. She is looking as impassive as Gillman, now flexing the cane. What Mrs Blackett has said is impossible.
'Please...' she whispers. 'I didn't mean... it won't happen again...'
Mrs Blackett's voice is brusque. 'Don't be silly. And don't prevaricate. Get that skirt off; and then get your knickers down. I assume you don't want Gillman to have to undress yon.'
The desperate eyes go from Mrs Blackett to Gillman and back again. As a last resort she pleads what new pupils at Balcombe Manor frequently plead.
'C...can you... do it then... Please, Mrs Blackett.'
'I could but I am not going to. A pupil's first caning is always from Gillman. I find there is a little extra shock value in having a male servant do it. And Gillman is a very experienced man, aren't you, James?'
Gillman sounds as if it is all in the day's work. 'Yes, Madam, I have had some experience of young ladies by now.'
'Of course you have. Now will you get that skirt off, Annabel! Or shall we put two further demerits in your book for insubordination?'
There is clearly no getting out of it. Annabel is here for two whole months, unless when Roger comes to visit she can persuade him to cancel her stay. Trembling hands go to her waist. Annabel lowers her skirt and steps out of it. Mrs Blackett places it on a chair. An unhappy glance at the older woman, and Annabel raises her lace-edged white slip. She is wearing flesh-coloured nylons, their darker welts tautly fastened by straps of a white suspender belt. Annabel's thighs above the nylons are full and pale; she is not a sun worshiper and this at least will meet with Mrs Blackett's approval. A feminine lady's flesh should remain soft and pale, not coarsened and made dark by the sun's searing rays. But Annabel's knickers, white nylon, are tight and very brief and Mrs Blackett will not approve of this.
'Slip them down, to the tops of your stockings. And then bend over the chair.'
Mrs Blackett pushes Annabel's head firmly down in the pink brocaded seat, then slides up her slip, pushing it and the suit jacket up beyond the bending girl's waist. Twin full moons are thrust up and out over the chair's arm. Full sumptuous pale moons that have never known the kiss of cane or strap – as they have also never known the tight grip of a restraining garment. James Gillman's face is as impassive as ever but his eyes are devouring this marvellous sight.
Mrs Blackett's soft hands arrange Annabel, pushing her long legs further out and straightening her knees. She delivers a light slap to the soft bottom.
'Try and keep quite still, Annabel. Show some dignity; Gillman doesn't want to have to struggle with a bottom that's squirming about like an eel. He will give you three strokes. The third one is because I regard your knickers as quite unsuitable. Perhaps you didn't know but it will serve as a reminder in future. A young woman's knickers should properly cover her bottom, not leave half of it bare. And they should be loose-legged.'
She steps back and looks at Gillman. 'Right James. Three nice hard ones.'
The pain, when the cane makes its contact with her bare bottom, is something quite out of Annabel's previous experience. Squarely across the fullest curve of her ripe rump, it is like a hot iron searing her soft and most sensitive flesh. Annabel's breath bursts out in an instinctive and most unladylike howl while her whole body jerks in violent reaction. But there is no time to attempt to come to terms with the savage pain before the second stroke lashes down almost on top of the first.
Annabel lets out another gasping wail as a second narrow stripe rapidly reddens across her pale, quivering buttocks. The pain is still rising, intensifying, when the third and final stroke cracks down. Again it produces the desperate yelp, the frenzied flesh-wobbling writhing of ripe nates.
Gillman steps back. Mrs Blackett, bright-eyed, moves forward to pull the shaking young woman to her feet. Annabel's stricken bottom feels as if it is literally on fire.
'Not a very dignified performance, Annabel. We will certainly have to do better than that or we will be getting demerits for inability to take the cane properly. Now please take those knickers right off. If you've nothing more suitable with you you can go without until we can get some acceptable ones tomorrow.'
Still shaking with the pain and shock Annabel steps out of her knickers, then puts on her skirt. She glances at Gillman and quickly looks away. As well as suffering the intense pain she has never felt so humiliated in her life.
'Write your third demerit in your Record Book, Annabel. Put it down as unseemly attire. Gillman will now show you to your room. Your time is free until dinner which is at 7.30. I should have a rest and then Gillman or one of the maids will introduce you to my other young women. I have three more pupils in residence at present.'
Mrs Blackett smiles her charming smile. 'Oh, one thing, I do approve of your stockings. Tights are quite an abomination. All right, my dear?'
Annabel says numbly, 'Yes, Mrs Blackett.'
Another smile. 'Don't be distressed. The first caning is a shock and it is meant to be. It gets a girl nicely in the right frame of mind. Don't brood over it; just remember it is in a very good cause. Now here's something for you to read. It is not difficult and you will be questioned on it in due course.'
The book she has handed Annabel is bound in maroon grained leather like her Record Book. It is entitled 'The Submissive Woman'. With her bottom still searing, pulsating, Annabel goes out with Gillman. She ascends the stairs in front of him, all too conscious of that red-hot bottom; conscious also of the fact that she has no knickers on under her tight skirt and that Gillman, close behind her, is well aware of this.
Annabel's bedroom is cosy, feminine, looking out over the garden, and has its own en suite bathroom. Her cases have been brought up and her things put away. She looks around but her mind is still full of that horrendous happening not five minutes ago. Bending over the arm of that chair with her bottom bare. And this man, this servant, viciously caning her. Gillman, it seems, is also still thinking of it.
'I hope you won't regard it as personal, Madam – what I had to do. It's my duty, you understand, part of my job. I have to do it to all the ladies.'
Flushing, Annabel shakes her head.
In his obsequious manner Gillman asks if she will take a rest now. He will come back, in an hour, to take her out to meet the other ladies. They are probably in the garden, afternoons being generally set aside for relaxation.
Annabel says yes. She feels in urgent need of a period alone before meeting anyone anyway. Suddenly she recalls Mrs Blackett's remark about being under scrutiny. Annabel looks away, not wishing to meet Gillman's eyes.
'I... I suppose you have to make a note of everything I do and report it to Mrs Blackett. Tell me please... Gillman... am I doing anything that will get me demerits?'
Gillman shakes his head. 'I do have to report to Mrs Blackett, that's part of my job, Madam. But there's nothing at the moment, except that you're supposed to call me Mr Gillman. With the maids you can use their Christian names. I'll go then, Madam – unless you would like me to put some cold cream on your bottom. It does help with the sting.'
The thought of it is just too much. 'Am I allowed to refuse..? Or would that be another demerit?' she blurts angrily.
'Oh no, Madam. You can say yes or no, it's not a caning matter. If you make a sexual advance to me, though, I have to report that.'
The big green-brown eyes are suddenly bright with moisture. Annabel blinks rapidly to stop the tears. 'Well I'm not going to, Mr... Mr Gillman.'
Gillman's voice remains perfectly calm. 'That's all right, Madam; but some ladies do, at the beginning of their stay.' He exits, just as Annabel's tears well uncontrollably out. The trickle becomes a flood as she throws herself face-down on the bed. Annabel's body jerks and rolls, overwhelmed with wracking sobs.
The sobbing continues for some time, at last becoming less intense, more intermittent. Annabel turns over, onto her back, to gaze up with tear-reddened eyes at the ceiling. She lies immobile, perhaps dozing for a while, her body exhausted by emotion. Her eyes open, the tears start again; then stop, and then start once more.
At length she gets up off the bed and goes to the window. Outside, standing by a flower border she can see two young women. They wear long light summer dresses and flowery hats against the bright sun. Annabel bites her lip. They are presumably fellow pupils here and presumably, under those light dresses, if what Mrs Blackett has said is anything to go by, is some form of tight restraining foundation garment. And are there also fresh red stripes on their bottoms as there are on her own?
In the bathroom Annabel splashes cold water on her face which is red and blotchy from crying. It is almost time for Gillman to come for her. She puts on powder and some lipstick, but cannot completely disguise the signs of crying. She would like to put on knickers but has none that Mrs Blackett would approve of. And outrageous as it may seem, from what has happened so far there must be a chance of Mrs Blackett – or even Gillman – slipping a hand up her skirt to check. And that clearly would mean one or more strokes of that horrendous cane.
Gillman when he knocks has that same obsequious manner. Annabel again experiences a hot flush at the thought that this man has caned her bare bottom. He asks if she is rested and feeling better; then takes her outside.
In the garden the three other girls are found seated together in a leafy arbour. They are Rosalind and Susan, both blondes, and Felicity who has reddish-gold hair. They are all young and pretty women, each, like Annabel, wearing a wedding ring. All three are in those elegant dresses, 1930s-looking with low necks and calf-length skirts, and broad-brimmed hats that Annabel has seen from the window. Gillman, having made the introductions, goes off.
Rosalind and Felicity have been here for three weeks, Susan for two. These periods seem to have been long enough to quell any rebellious spirit for they are all most docile and seemingly accepting of their lot. Annabel is warned to follow instructions to the letter otherwise there will be many demerits; but if she does she will find life very pleasant at Balcombe Manor.
Susan, laughing, says, 'Like a holiday.'
That is really too much for Annabel. 'A holiday when you're getting caned?'
Susan has beautiful big blue eyes, clear and innocent. 'You mustn't be negative, Annabel. The cane is just a reminder to keep you up to the mark and to teach you to be submissive. You have to learn that submitting is the most wonderful thing. After all this Woman's Lib pollution submitting is a cleansing act. Mrs Blackett will teach you that.' She gives a blissful smile. 'All I want from life is to submit to my husband.'
Annabel frowns. 'Will your husband cane you then?'
Susan produces another sunny smile. 'Of course. And he caned me when he visited last week, because of a shortcoming that Mrs Blackett told him about. He caned me and then he made love to me. It was just the most marvellous and wonderful thing.'
Annabel cannot find a ready answer to this. She pictures herself submitting to a caning from Roger. The thought is scary but also distinctly erotic. Rosalind suggests a walk through the garden and they get up and go out, into the warm sunshine. Rosalind says that Annabel should have a hat on. A girl must keep her skin soft and lovely for her husband. There is something else that Annabel must ask about. Corseting. Do they really have to wear a foundation garment all the time?
'Of course,' Rosalind replies. 'Tight-lacing is the essence of femininity. It may feel strange at first but once you've been tight-laced for a few days it begins to feel really marvellous. A lovely sense of your body being controlled and disciplined. And it's super for your figure. My waist can he tight-laced down to 19 inches now.'
Annabel is not at all sure she wants to do that. There is of course the other question. What do they do here all day? Mrs Blackett didn't actually say.
'Oh all sorts of things,' Felicity says. 'All kinds of lectures and talks, by Mrs Blackett and various other people who come in. There's Music and Movement every day after breakfast, that's to improve your grace and poise; and of course there's your reading programme. You must really study at that and make notes because Mrs Blackett tests you. Most afternoons are free of organised activity but you are supposed to use the time constructively. Walking in the tranquility of the garden is highly beneficial if you concentrate on positive thinking. About being feminine and submissive, that is. In the evenings we often watch a video film. Yesterday there was a lovely film about country house life in Edwardian times.'
Annabel hesitates and then asks that paramount question. 'What about those demerits; the caning?'
Rosalind gives her a wide-eyed look. 'You have to think about that in a positive way too, Annabel,' she says softly in her calm, very feminine voice. 'It is intended to show you how you can improve. We each have to take our Record Books to Mrs Blackett before dinner every day. Each of us has an appointment time in the hour before dinner. Either Mrs Blackett will deal with the demerits or Mr Gillman will. But you mustn't think of it as a punishment.'
They stroll on, through splendidly kept flower borders and then across the immaculate lawn and into the rose garden. It is almost like being in a dream with the heady scent of the roses and a blackbird trilling, and Annabel's three beautiful companions in their elegant dresses reminiscent of a bygone age. Am I dreaming? Annabel wonders. But she knows she isn't. She knows that across her bottom, which is bare under her skirt, there are three very real red stripes. If she were to put her hand up – which of course she daren't – she would be able to feel their ridges clearly with her fingertips. But she doesn't need to touch them to feel them. What about the others? she asks. Are they still getting caned – after three weeks?
Rosalind smiles serenely. 'Oh yes. You are here to improve yourself and so the standard gets higher. Oh yes, we all still get the cane – or the strap.'
They continue to wander in the garden and Annabel has to admit it is highly satisfying and restful. They are allowed to walk freely except that they are not permitted to go near the front gate or the driveway. They return eventually to the arbour and it is here that Gillman later comes to tell them it is time to prepare for dinner. Annabel has already noticed that none of the others has a watch, and she has been told that they are not needed because their day is organised for them and there is always someone to tell them what to do. Annabel still has her watch.
They return to the house, each to take a relaxing pre-dinner bath. When Annabel emerges from her bathroom she finds the maid, Bridget, has brought a dress. In her slip Annabel sits at her dressing table while with long sensuous strokes Bridget brushes Annabel's thick chestnut hair, then coils it high on her head. The maid holds out the dress which is similar in style to the ones the others were wearing: pale green silk with a calf-length pleated skirt and long sleeves. Annabel puts it on and it is very lovely. The maid then leaves, taking with her the blue suit Annabel had arrived in and also Annabel's watch.
Henceforth Annabel will have no independent knowledge of the time while at Balcombe Manor. In the lovely green silk dress, again without knickers, and with her own suit and watch gone Annabel feels completely divorced from her own life. As she sits down again to put on her make-up she wonders what Roger is doing, and whether he is thinking of her at all.
Meanwhile, in their own rooms, the other girls are being tight-laced into their corsets: Rosalind by Gillman, Susan and Felicity by two maids. While Annabel sits dreamily in her room waiting for the call to dinner the other girls go down in turn to Mrs Blackett's office. Later when they meet, with Annabel, in the dining room Rosalind and Felicity each have two fresh cane stripes on their bottoms.
* * *
At 9.30 the next morning the shiny black limousine is again at the big iron gates, now going out. In the back seat Annabel is accompanied by Mrs Blackett and they are driving to town, to Sylvia Blackett's corsetiere. The chauffeur drives smoothly, expertly, while Mrs Blackett puts questions to Annabel on the book 'The Submissive Woman'. She is supposed to have started it last night while waiting for dinner and afterwards. But Annabel is unable to concentrate, her mind returning again and again to the events of the day and the things the other girls have told her. Her ignorance of the book is at once apparent. Mrs Blackett lightly pats her thigh.
'Write 5 demerits in your Record Book, Annabel. Put down: Private study quite inadequate.'
Annabel gives Mrs Blackett a stunned look. Five! Mrs Blackett tells her, 'You're properly on the course now, my dear, and you must take matters seriously; we can't have a girl not pulling her weight. But I think once we've got you tight-laced it will help. It does give a young woman that sense of purpose and discipline.'
It is a private house in Chelsea that they go to. A maid opens the door and takes their coats and hats; then conducts them into a sumptuously appointed sitting room where they are greeted by an elegantly dressed man of perhaps 60. Annabel had naturally assumed it would be a woman and this increases her feeling of embarrassment and apprehension. She is introduced to Mr Delvine whose keen eyes size her up. Annabel is wearing the green silk dress again, with her darker green high-heeled court shoes, and is looking very lovely in spite of her apprehension.
'A full-bodied young lady,' he observes. 'And definitely in need of a little restraining, I should say. Would you slip out of your things, my dear.'
Annabel's heartbeat quickens. She had definitely expected a lady. Is she to have to take everything off? Yes she is, apart from her stockings and shoes. The dress, her slip, her bra, the suspender belt, each in turn must be removed; there are no knickers, of course. Annabel eventually stands nude, trembling slightly and with difficulty controlling the urge to put her hands and arms across that thick red dish-brown bush, those full, pinkish-brown-nippled breasts. Across her ripe bottom the stripes left by Gillman's energetic caning can still be faintly seen.
Mr Delvine measures Annabel: hips, waist, bust; then goes out of the room, and returns. In his hands is a cream-coloured satin garment. It is a busk front-fastening Edwardian control corset with back lacing. The silk laces are loosened and the basque is slipped around Annabel's statuesque figure and fastened. She gasps slightly at the sensation of the cold satin on her bare flesh. And then gasps again, in earnest, as the lacing is tightened.
'Stand firm, and brace yourself,' Annabel is instructed. As Mrs Blackett, seated on a sofa, watches intently the basque is drawn drum-tight around Annabel's full figure, and then tighter yet. It pushes up her breasts, enclosing the lower halves but leaving her nipples free, while below it extends to contain the full upper curve of her hips. The tight-lacing continues, the laces are finally tied. Dangling free are four two-inch-wide silk suspender straps with metal fastenings. Mr Delvine bends to fasten these tautly to Annabel's stockings and then she is finished.
'How does that feel, my dear?' smiles Mrs Blackett.
The feeling is enough to literally take Annabel's breath away for she has the panicky thought that she won't be able to breathe and is going to suffocate. This does not prove to be the case, though, for she can breathe perfectly well but the sensation of being held in an iron grip remains. She weakly shakes her head. There is no real answer to Mrs Blackett's question. The feeling is indescribable.
Mrs Blackett smiles at Mr Delvine. 'It looks excellent. I'll take two others for her as well, one a long-line, I think. Perhaps one in black, and shall we have one in blue, Annabel? I have an awfully pretty blue dress for you. And of course we want some knickers for her, Mr Delvine.'
Mr Delvine produces a pale basque similar to the cream one plus a black long-line corset which will enclose the whole of Annabel's generous buttocks. There is also a selection of pretty silk French knickers in various shades. At last, at least, Annabel can put knickers on. With her head still spinning she slips on a pair of cream coloured lacy-edged ones. Then her own cream slip and finally the green dress. She is complete now. A properly attired pupil of Mrs Blackett.
Annabel and Mrs Blackett have lunch at an expensive restaurant but Annabel can only toy with her food. The constraining feel of the tight-lacing is eerie, giving her that continued sense that she can't breathe properly although at the same time she knows she can perfectly well. Annabel also can't help thinking of Roger. His office is in London and he could easily come into this restaurant. If he saw her and came over she would probably burst out crying. There is as well the thought of those five demerits in her Record Book. Before dinner tonight she is going to get five strokes of the cane across her bare bottom.
Mrs Blackett tells Annabel to eat up and stop dreaming. Time passes, as if she is in a dream. The perfectly normal environment of the restaurant has taken on a new meaning to her: all is changed by being under this training. The chauffeur meets them; they are in the back seat of the limousine again. At the gates of Balcombe Manor. The iron gates clanging to behind them...
In the garden Annabel is greeted by the other girls. It is another lovely sunny afternoon and they go to sit in the cool arbour. Rosalind and Felicity are wearing different dresses from yesterday but in that same elegant 1930s style. Annabel has on a wide-brimmed straw hat with a dark green ribbon matching her green dress. The others smilingly inquire about the tight-lacing. Doesn't it feel super, Felicity says. It doesn't feel super but Annabel is at least now getting more used to the constant tightness. Felicity wants to know Annabel's waist measurement. It is 24. She says that in two weeks Mr Gillman and the maids will have that down to 20.
There is a current of excitement because Rosalind is having a visit from her husband this afternoon. Some time later a maid comes for Rosalind and takes her back into the house. Susan and Felicity giggle like schoolgirls. The three of them decide to go for a walk, through the rose garden and out into the wooded area beyond.
Susan smilingly asks, 'Are you concentrating on good thoughts, Annabel? Are you concentrating on being submissive?'
Felicity giggles. 'I expect Rosalind is being submissive in her room right now. I hope she's concentrating. Lucky girl!'
Annabel wonders what it will be like to have a visit here from Roger. Very painful, she thinks, because at the end of it he will go off and she will be kept here. None of them are allowed to phone out or receive telephone calls at Balcombe Manor, and in addition the television only shows video films, not news or any other regular programme; so the visits from their husbands are their only contacts with the outside world. Felicity tells Annabel she will not get a visit for at least a week so that she can settle in.
The dreamy afternoon passes and eventually Gillman appears, to conduct them in for the pre-dinner rituals. He accompanies Annabel to her room. In his obsequious way he tells Annabel that he has to unlace her, for her bath.
Annabel can't see why she cannot unlace herself but Gillman tells her Mrs Blackett's rule is that it must be done for her. He also says that she must not take too long over her bath because she will be the first today to take her Record Book in to Mrs Blackett. That at least gives Annabel something else to think about. Shuddering, she removes her hat and then unfastens her dress and steps out of it. Her slip follows and, after a reproachful glace at Gillman, her knickers as well. He bends to unclip Annabel's suspender straps, his eyes hot on her thick-bushed mound, then turns her and unties her taut-lacing.
Inch by inch Annabel feels her body being released from its strait-jacket; finally, with all the lacing loosened, Gillman reaches round and unhooks the front fastening. Annabel can see red marks at her waist and on her hips where the foundation garment has hugged her in its vice-like grip. She slips quickly into her dressing gown, conscious of the way Gillman's sharp eyes are caressing her flesh, then takes off shoes and stockings.
Annabel has a quick warm bath and dries herself, then goes out again to the waiting Gillman. While Annabel could have taken the basque off herself, if she had been allowed to, the same would not be true for putting it back on again for proper tight-lacing does demand the services of a helper. Once again, as she was with Mr Delvine, Annabel is soon gasping as the reinforced satin is drawn tighter and tighter round her burgeoning body. Gillman takes a while, his hands seeming to need to touch a lot of Annabel in the process, but eventually he is finished. A quarter of an hour later he is knocking at Mrs Blackett's door and ushering Annabel in.
Mrs Blackett inspects the Record Book which is silently proffered. There are just those five demerits entered during the car journey.
'Good!' says Mrs Blackett, businesslike. 'Knickers down then if you please, Annabel; and get yourself over the chair. I think we'll have Gillman giving them again, shall we? Shall we, James?'
'As you wish, Madam.' With his unexcited, even tones Gillman sounds uninvolved, as if it is nothing more to him than opening the door to a visitor or making sure the cats are out at night. But his eyes tell a different story. As those eyes gaze on Annabel's bared ripe nates, now enticingly framed in basque, wide suspenders, the dark welts of her nylons, there is little doubt that James Gillman will enjoy what he is about to do.
Five strokes of the cane on the bare bottom forcefully delivered by a fit and enthusiastic adult male are not easy to take, especially for one not used to the cane. It is not simply two-and-a-half times as bad as two strokes because if the caner continues to hit with full force, as James Gillman does, the excruciating pain is multiplied rather than simply added to. Before her ordeal Annabel had some thought of taking it in silent dignity, of not letting Gillman, or for that matter Mrs Blackett, see her howling and writhing in agony. But that resolution very quickly goes out of the window once the caning begins. Indeed Annabel's reaction to the fifth, and fortunately final, stroke is such that she jerks right off the arm of Mrs Blackett's chair and finishes up on the carpet.
Mrs Blackett lets her stay there, shaking with tears, for some minutes, before telling Annabel to get to her feet.
'We really must learn to exercise more self-control, Annabel; must we not?'
After more of Mrs Blackett's lecturing Annabel is taken back to her room by Gillman. She scarcely knows where she is. The hot pain is still intense, pervading her whole body, but it is mixed with a feeling of strong arousal which being caned in the ultra-tight-laced basque has brought on. In the state Annabel is in the thought of dinner is quite impossible but one must always present oneself for dinner at Balcombe Manor, whether one is capable of eating anything or not.
Annabel washes her face and puts on fresh make-up. Dreadful Gillman is there, hovering, and he repeats his offer of applying cold cream to her bottom. Annabel shakes her head, fearful that she is going to burst into tears again. She has been here barely one full day. There are two full months to be endured.
Story from Janus 45.
Behind High Walls. Part 2
R.T. Mason's account of the feminisation of
Annabel Filton, concluded from Janus 44.
DEEP in the leafy country-side, behind its high protective walls, Balcombe Manor basks in the languor of a drowsy English summer afternoon. The sun is shining out of a clear blue sky and it would be too hot if it weren't for the gentle breeze which is keeping the air pleasantly fresh. The four young women, Mrs Blackett's pupils, are in the garden for their Tranquillity Period, in the rose garden beneath a magnificent Albertine rose from which pink petals now and then fall gently down.
'You've some petals on your hat,' Felicity tells Annabel. 'But leave them; leave them for your husband. His rose adorned with rose petals; isn't that poetic.'
Annabel smiles. All four young women, as usual, are wearing wide-brimmed hats against the sun and are in calf-length dresses of an elegant bygone age – the middle 1930s perhaps. Under those dresses each girl's form is tightly held in that ultimate of feminine discipline, a tight-laced corset, a garment which is worn at all times at Balcombe Manor. Annabel's smile hides a certain nervousness. Today, this afternoon, her husband is visiting her for the first time.
Annabel is excited yet apprehensive. She has been here a week and a week can be a long time, especially a young woman's first week at Balcombe Manor. As is usually the case it has not been as easy adjustment. Modern girls are simply not taught to accept submission and discipline. In particular they have had no experience of being regularly caned on the bare bottom. So when a young woman in her early twenties is sent to Balcombe Manor there is an ingrained behavioural pattern to be broken.
It is always a shock for the new pupil but Mrs Blackett's methods are tried and tested and she is also a strong, dominant personality. Mrs Blackett and Balcombe Manor are invariably successful in remoulding a modern young wife into traditional feminine ways, but the remoulding, especially at first, is painful.
'Lucky you,' smiles Felicity. 'You are allowed a whole hour alone with him in your room, you know.' She giggles, as do the other two, Susan and Rosalind. Annabel flushes slightly.
It will be marvellous to see Roger again, to be with him, but at the same time... Annabel wonders if she dare ask him to take her away – as she has told herself all the past week she will. She suspects that even if she dares it will be quite useless – and could even make matters worse. Mrs Blackett could very well ask Roger if Annabel had made such a plea, and it would be very difficult to lie to Mrs Blackett. And then... it would simply be more of that cane, from Mrs Blackett herself or from Gillman, the head servant.
That dreadful cane. Annabel has had it every day, scything mercilessly into her tender bare nates. Yesterday an eight-stroke session and a six-stroke one. She has tried what the other girls tell her – and indeed what Mrs Blackett tells them – to look at it in a positive way. Every stroke of the cane will make her a better young wife for Roger, so she should welcome each caning. Somehow that doesn't seem to make it any easier.
The sun continues to shine benignly and the pink rose petals now and then drift silently down. Annabel wonders where Roger is. Is he on the road now, nearing the Manor, or has he perhaps already arrived? There are no clocks or watches for the young women at Balcombe Manor so there is no way of knowing the time. When it is time for Annabel's visit she will be told; Mr Gillman or one of the maids will come out.
Rosalind takes Annabel's arm, squeezing gently. 'I expect you'll be taken in for a caning by Gillman just before your husband's visit, Annabel. That is what usually happens on the first visit. It is very good for your discipline to have it right before meeting your husband.'
Annabel looks at Rosalind with alarmed eyes. No one has mentioned this before.
Felicity says, 'Yes, it's what happened to me.'
* * *
'SHE is coming on quite nicely. A little reluctance but that is normal.' Sylvia Blacken smiles at her guest. 'Would you like to see her caned?'
Roger Filton, seated with Mrs Blackett in her elegant reception room, feels a rush of blood to his face. Sylvia Blackett's words are, to say the least, a shock although he has known that his wife would be getting the cane here at Balcombe Manor. He coughs, to cover his disturbance.
'It is something I recommend. It is very good for a husband to see his wife caned early on in her stay. On a later visit of course he is allowed to cane her himself but on this first occasion that is not a good idea. But I do like him to see her take it from my man Gillman, who is her regular caner.'
Mrs Blackett's words cause a further increase in Roger Filton's pulse rate. While he has known in general terms about the caning at this rather confidential but highly recommended country retreat he hasn't really thought about the details. To learn that Annabel has been receiving the cane from another male is a real shock – but as the thought sinks in he realises it is also exciting. Arousing. His own young Annabel being made to submit to another man in that archetypal manner.
'Gillman is a very experienced, mature man. He knows how to take her to the very brink of what she can accept, while not going beyond that point.'
Roger Filton takes a sip of the excellent white wine which Sylvia Blackett has poured. It is fortunate they are seated because that feeling of arousal has translated itself into a distinct tightness at the front of his well-cut trousers.
'Annabel will naturally be unaware that you are watching, my dear Mr Filton.' Mrs Blackett smiles her charming smile. 'The wonders of two-way mirrors! It is really only fair to the pupil – if she knows her husband is observing her she might well become embarrassed or upset and find it difficult to submit in the way she has been taught. You do understand.'
Yes, he can understand that all right.
'After the caning you will be free to visit her privately; just the two of you. An hour is permitted. I must warn you, though, that sometimes at this stage a pupil can get upset. She may plead that she is desperately unhappy and beg to be taken away. That is not uncommon, especially on her first visit, and we simply have to ignore it.'
'Yes.' Roger Filton tries to picture the meeting. 'Yes, of course.'
Sylvia Blackett smooths her hands over her elegant dark green dress. 'One more thing. Like all my pupils Annabel is tight-laced and is required to remain tight-laced at all times. It is a marvellous disciplinary training for a young woman – equalling the cane in that respect.' Mrs Blackett coughs delicately. 'So if you want to undress her I would ask that her basque and stockings be not removed.'
Sylvia Blackett gets to her feet. Roger Filton, red in the face, has to follow suit though in the state he is now in he is not too happy about this. Fortunately his hostess has turned, to take the glasses to a sideboard. Urgently Roger Filton wills his aroused member to subside.
Almost immediately a maid appears, in response to Mrs Blackett's summons on a bell. The girl is told to tell Gillman that they are ready and to take Mrs Filton into the Blue Room. The maid exits with a curtsey. Mrs Blackett turns, smiling, to Roger Filton who now is breathing a little more easily. They go out, across the hallway and along a corridor. Into a small room which has no furniture apart from a row of four chairs facing a blank wall.
'Please sit,' Sylvia Blackett tells her guest. 'Then I will turn off the light. It makes viewing so much better.'
With the light off Roger can see that the blank wall is in fact transparent and affords a clear view of the adjoining room. It is not a large room; it has pale blue furniture and in the centre is what looks like a vaulting horse. Suddenly the Blue Room is brightly lit as its lights are turned on. The door has opened – and there is Annabel... with a man.
She is looking very lovely in a light green calf-length dress and a matching wide-brimmed hat. The man with Annabel in contrast is in a plain black suit. He is older, in his fifties, with the sober appearance of an English manservant. He speaks to Annabel but his words cannot be heard by the watchers. Annabel turns her big brown eyes on the man – an unhappy apprehensive look.
Pursing her lips she raises her hands to her head, removing her hat and revealing the full glory of her thick and lustrous chestnut hair. The hat is placed on a chair. And then Annabel's hands, trembling a little it seems, go to the small buttons of her dress. The buttons are unfastened one by one, down to the last which is several inches below Annabel's waist. The opened pale green dress reveals a contrasting dark blue undergarment. As Annabel slips the dress off her shoulders and then down the blue is seen to be a satin basque, tight-laced at the back. She steps out of the dress. There are French knickers of a slightly lighter blue than the basque, and below the knickers wide dark blue suspender straps fastening flesh-coloured stockings.
Roger Filton's hands grip the arms of his seat. Annabel has placed her dress on the chair with her hat, and is now slipping down the French knickers. She steps out of them. The basque contains the lower halves of Annabel's full breasts but not her nipples which protrude pinkly above the dark blue satin. Below, it reaches as far as the upper slopes of her hips, so that the ripe flanks are quite bare. Annabel's thick russet bush is quite bare too and she makes no attempt to hide it from the servant, standing submissively before him with her hands at her sides.
Roger can hear a pounding in his ears. At a word from the servant Annabel turns to face away from the unseen watchers. They now can see the herring-boned criss-crossed silk lacing extending down Annabel's back, holding the satin basque in a grip of iron about her. In addition Roger can now also clearly see, for the first time, his wife's swelling bared buttocks. Those full, pale globes are likewise criss-crossed – with fading dark red stripes, of a cane.
As Roger Filton looks, experiencing an almost overwhelming mixture of shock and desire, the servant moves close and speaks some evidently soft words of reassurance – while his hand reaches out and gently, sensuously, strokes Annabel's silky soft nates.
This now is almost too much and Sylvia Blackett, sensing that, places a soothing hand on her guest's arm. 'He is merely settling her down,' she tells him quietly. 'Getting her ready to take the cane.'
And very shortly Annabel has indeed been moved gently forward by that still caressing hand, to the waiting caning horse. To obediently stretch herself over its leather top. Without argument, for after a week Annabel is now well used to the caning horse in the Blue Room, her hands reach down to clasp the rung near the carpet.
Without needing to be told, her long legs in the nylon stockings spread wide, one high-heeled light green court shoe at either leg of the horse. Annabel's head is hidden in a mass of dependant chestnut locks while her pale buttocks are on high, thrust out, a ripely feminine focal point. The wide-spread stance is also a frankly revealing one but there is no time to dwell on that for the cane is now in Gillman's hand. Upraised, then, to the watchers, silently speeding down.
Annabel gasps as the cane bites in. The gasp is not heard in the next room but it can be imagined as her buttocks vigorously jerk and clench. And as the cane comes back there is now a bright fresh stripe on top of all the faded ones.
The slim bamboo rises and thwacks down a second time, juddering again into the springy flesh of Annabel's bottom. A third and a fourth follow. Roger watches with heart-thudding fascination. It is shocking but he is also turned-on to a truly incomparable extent. The fifth cut is enough to jerk Annabel from her wide-spread stance, her feet kicking up and her thighs coming back together as she struggles with the pain. But the discipline she has learnt in her first week is already sufficient to guarantee that almost immediately she has her feet wide apart again.
Gillman's cane continues to rise and fall. Ten strokes in all. Each one in fact is harder than any Annabel has yet experienced because Gillman is aware that the young woman's husband is watching and wishes to make her suffer that little bit more – and to make the husband suffer too. For Gillman is aware of what will inevitably shortly take place in Annabel's room and he hates the thought of it. He has a powerful desire for this young woman's lusciously perfect body himself and to imagine Annabel and her husband on her bed in the act of love is a bitter pill. Tears are coursing down Annabel's cheeks by the time Gillman has finished.
In Annabel's room ten minutes later the couple stand in tongue-tied embarrassment. Annabel does not know Roger has watched her but for the moment it is still difficult to think of anything except her madly throbbing bottom. Roger for his part has had that overwhelming experience – of watching the caning and also when it was over, of seeing the servant run his hands over Annabel's nude and glowing bottom in a most intimate manner. And after that drawing on her French knickers and helping her on with her dress. The servant, it seems, is very intimate with Annabel.
They look at each other for some long seconds, neither knowing what to say. And then Annabel abruptly rushes forward – to burst into tears in her husband's arms. Through a secret peephole in the wall Sylvia Blackett watches. Observing a pupil with her husband is of course an extremely valuable guide to the girl's progress. Sylvia Blackett is very experienced with young women and will know pretty well how Annabel is coming on, but even so a girl can sometimes keep part of herself hidden. She is not likely to keep it hidden with her husband in the privacy of her own room.
There is also the other matter. Sylvia Blackett is not prurient, she does not wish to watch Annabel and her husband in the act of love for her own pleasure, but it is important to know that Annabel performs willingly and without undue restraint. If there are problems – any mental hang-ups – then Mrs Blackett will have to explore them with Annabel, and also bring her medical adviser in.
But no, as Sylvia Blackett watches it is clear there are no problems on that score. Annabel performs her wifely function with freedom, indeed with that somewhat desperate abandon which is frequently seen in a young woman who has been deprived of her husband for this first, whole week while at the same time being subject to the constant attention of Gillman's cane. Approvingly the older woman notes that, as instructed, there is no attempt to remove Annabel's basque or her stockings.
An hour later in Mrs Blackett's reception room a glass of excellent white wine is again being poured for Roger Filton. He is perhaps slightly-pink in the face; certainly his eyes have a healthy glow to them. Sylvia Blackett tells him she would like him to visit again in a week's time.
'A second visit sooner than that would cause Annabel too much excitement, and we don't want to spoil things when she is doing so nicely.' Sylvia Blackett smiles. 'At the next visit I shall probably ask you to cane her yourself.'
Those images of Annabel in the Blue Room have been replaced in Roger Filton's mind by the more recent heady events of Annabel's own room. His feverish hand removing her dress and knickers, and then on her bed Annabel's opulent body in that tight-laced blue basque. His fingers tracing the taut silk lacing... and then tracing the hot, so-sensitive weals on her burgeoning buttocks. Annabel sobbing – with pent-up emotion, with relief, with pleasure – as he makes love to her.
Afterwards, still lying on the bed, Annabel did plead to be taken away from Balcombe Manor. Kissing her gently, Roger told her it wasn't possible. It was part of Mrs Blackett's conditions that a young woman must stay the full two months. And besides, Roger thought he could already detect a change in Annabel. She was more subdued and docile. It was evident that after seven more weeks she would be an extremely submissive female. And when you are 45 and your wife is 22 it is highly desirable that she be properly trained, otherwise – well, who knew what she could get up to.
Now, sipping his wine, Roger Filton feels a further surge of excitement at Mrs Blackett's words. At the thought that he himself will cane his beautiful Annabel.
'She is showing some improvement already, don't you think?'
Doing his best to keep calm Roger nods assent.
'But I really must know, did she ask to be taken away? I'm afraid they quite often do at this early stage.'
Roger could deny it but he doesn't. It is probably best for Annabel that Mrs Blackett knows the truth.
The handsome owner of Balcombe Manor smiles, her eyes deep dark pools. 'That was naughty of her, wasn't it? I think she'll need an extra session with Gillman for that.'
Roger Filton bites his lip as he pictures again the Blue Room. And Annabel spread over that vaulting horse, her legs wide-splayed for the black-suited, cane-wielding servant.
* * *
IT is not the Blue Room though.
Gillman is called in to Mrs Blackett as soon as Roger Filton leaves.
'Annabel requires another session, I'm afraid, Gillman. Silly pleading with her husband to be taken home.'
James Gillman's eyes light up. 'Yes madam. How many strokes?'
'You can use your own discretion. Whatever you think fit. And you can take her to your own room.'
As she says this Sylvia Blackett's skin is tingling. There is no peephole into Gillman's room. So when he has Annabel in there with the door locked he can do virtually as he wants with her. This thought sends a dizzy thrill through Mrs Blackett.
Her words send a thrill through Gillman too. Having a pupil in his own room for correction is a rare and heady pleasure. He licks his lips. 'Yes madam. Thank you very much, madam.'
Sylvia Blackett moves close to her servant and squeezes his arm. 'A special treat, eh James? I know how you enjoy having a little freedom with a pretty pupil. She's fresh from being with her husband so she'll be extra sensitive. Just have her back and properly dressed in the dining room for dinner.'
When Gillman opens Annabel's door she is dressed again and sitting moodily at her dressing table, thinking of Roger speeding away from Balcombe Manor in fine fettle. She looks up, assuming Gillman has come to take her to the garden. But that is not what he tells her. Annabel's eyes open wide; she has never been to Gillman's room before. They walk along the corridor and up the stairs. It is a normal enough little room. Gillman locks the door – and tells Annabel to undress again. Heart fluttering, she removes her dress, and then the French knickers.
'An extra session,' Gillman says primly. 'A special session because of complaints. Mrs Blackett is not at all happy with that.'
And because it is a special session in his own room James Gillman is free to go beyond the normal rules. He unfastens the basque's laces and loosens them. The wide suspenders are unclipped from Annabel's stockings, and the blue satin garment is removed. Annabel in just her stockings and shoes. Her ripe, unhindered breasts jut firmly out; her waist and sides, after a week of tight-lacing, bear the basque's red marks – marks which are echoed in the red stripes across the splendid buttocks. Annabel stands straight but trembling, wondering what is to come.
There is the cane, naturally. James Gillman loves the cane. But there are also exercises to be performed. Whole series of exercises – running on the spot, deep bending, high kicking, upside-down cycling – each set repeated until Annabel is gasping for breath. The caning comes between the sets of exercises. And the cane also slices out, onto buttocks or thighs or calves, while the exercises are being performed, to ensure there is no slacking. Annabel has so much to endure, as her obedience is tested to the brink.
This continues until shortly before dinner, when Gillman takes Annabel back to her room – for her bath and the tight-laced basque again. And knickers and another pretty dress, and make-up.
'Did you have a lovely visit?' the others ask when she goes down to dinner.
Annabel's body is aching all over and smarting in many places from her session in Gillman's room; and there was also that fearfully hard caning which immediately preceded Roger's visit. She forces a smile, aware that Mrs Blackett's eyes are on her.
'Yes,' she manages. 'It was lovely to see Roger. And he said... I was doing very well.'
Across the table, with its glittering silver, the dazzling white napery, Sylvia Blackett smiles. Her pupil is progressing.
* * *
THE days at Balcombe Manor roll on in their timeless, almost hypnotic way. The outside world might as well not exist for Mrs Blackett's pupils in their little world within the high enclosing walls. The gardens and those same rooms of the house which they visit every day: their own rooms, the Blue Room with its caning horse; the dining room; the morning room where each day after breakfast they dance, in pairs or in individual free movement. The music is quietly rhythmic, nothing at all rowdy, to improve a girl's grace; when they dance together it is something from the past, a waltz, a sedate foxtrot.
There is a tidal rhythm in these timeless days, for the calm and tranquillity of those morning periods of dancing, the afternoons in the garden, the reading sessions in their rooms, are all set in sharp contrast to the sessions – in a pupil's own room, in the Blue Room, also now and then in Gillman's room. The mannered charm of an old waltz or the beauty of the roses in the garden – and the cane, in the hand of Mrs Blackett or Gillman, searing breathtakingly into obediently proffered bared buttocks.
And as they are part of the pattern of life those canings come to be expected. They are for the present more real than a girl's home or husband, the sensations more impressive than any other experience could be, and almost without realising it Annabel finds her mind is beginning to accept it all. The cane has become a major part of her life. A day without the cane would now be almost unthinkable; and in a way it would be incomplete...
Not that there are any days without the cane at Balcombe Manor. A pupil's caning programme in fact increases as her training progresses. In those first few days it was just the one daily period before dinner when she presented her Record Book to Mrs Blackett; but halfway through that first week Annabel was given a caning before lunch as well. It was repeated on subsequent days and has continued, so that there are now always at least two sessions each day. Sometimes there is a third in the evening.
So that is the daily ritual. The morning dancing and movement period followed perhaps by a lecture, and then the cane; the afternoon in the garden, the Tranquillity Period, followed by her bath and then the cane again. This pattern may be repeated in the evening. That is life at Balcombe Manor and a girl's mind, and her body, come to accept it.
'I think you're settling in now,' Felicity says to Annabel.
They are in the summer house and it is early afternoon. The days, without the benefit of clocks, have succeeded each other in a sort of mindless way. Annabel has now been here at Balcombe Manor for a little more than two weeks. She has had her second visit from Roger, two days ago, a visit in which Roger caned her in her room. It was really strange having the cane from Roger. Strange and not all that painful because Roger didn't cane half as hard as Gillman, he wasn't used to caning anyone, of course. But he clearly was very excited to be doing it.
Outside the summer house it is one of the rare rainy days but it is warm and not unpleasant, the rain softly dripping off the trees. It's true, Annabel thinks, she has settled down. She has tried ever since the beginning to do what they said and have a positive attitude to the caning, but for some time it was simply impossible. Gradually, though, as the cane has become so much a part of her life, she has found that she can; like the other girls have said they do. Rather than mentally fighting it you have to welcome it.
It still hurts, Gillman and Mrs Blackett make sure of that, but now when she bends over, bottom bared, Annabel grits her teeth and tells herself: I welcome it. And in a way she does now welcome it And when the caning session is over she manages to produce a smile, that submissive smile which says: I accept it. The pain in her bottom may be excruciating but it is a pain that tells you you are becoming a disciplined young woman, not one of these slobby modern girls with their half-baked ideas about liberated women.
Yes, Annabel is now settling in. She is now accepting the cane and she is beginning to welcome it. That is the key, as Mrs Blackett tells them. It must be welcomed. This is something which at the start of her stay Annabel would have thought utterly impossible.
As they sit there in the summer house watching the softly falling rain one of the maids, Bridget, suddenly appears carrying a large white umbrella. She smiles at Susan. 'Your visit, Mrs Mitford.'
Susan casts a slightly nervous glance at the other three and then with Bridget holding the umbrella over her goes out across the wet lawn. Annabel realises she is holding her breath, and releases it. The reason is Susan's visit, her visitor. Annabel knows it is not Susan's husband, but another gentleman.
It is the next stage of training, a further test. It is a test Annabel has not yet had but she is now due for it, having been at Balcombe Manor for over two weeks. The thought is frightening, like many things new and not yet experienced. Submitting to another man, a stranger; that will be very different to having it from Gillman or Mrs Blackett.
The other girls have told Annabel about these extra visitors. They are friends of Mrs Blackett and there seems to be a number of them. They are all proper gentlemen but nonetheless... the pupil takes tea with the visitor and chats in the normal way. But the main point of the visit is that she is required to submit to the guest. He will cane her, just like Gillman or Mrs Blackett.
'It is only an extra stage of the training,' Felicity has told Annabel when the subject was first raised.
Naturally when a young wife goes back to her normal life with her husband she will not be submitting to other men, or at least not unless her husband wishes it, because she is her husband's possession, perhaps indeed his most prized possession. But during her training, that is another matter. Submitting to another man, a stranger, baring your bottom for him to cane, that is clearly a stern test of discipline. Not surprisingly Mrs Blackett has quite a few male acquaintances who are only too pleased to be of assistance and administer such a test.
'Do your husbands know?' Annabel asked. The others didn't seem too sure of that.
Annabel shivers slightly as Susan walks out of the summer house under Bridget's umbrella. It could be her, Annabel. She will simply be told at breakfast, as Susan was told this morning. That is the only warning. Rosalind puts her arm round Annabel's waist and giggles.
'One or two of them cane really hard. I wonder if Susan will get a hard caner?'
Annabel pictures Mrs Blackett's reception room. These visits are always the same, it seems; just the pupil and her visitor. Hesitantly she asks how many Rosalind has had.
The arm around Annabel's waist squeezes. 'Four. Two were hard caners. But then one should wish for a hard caner, shouldn't one? It is a better test of one's discipline. Are you wishing for a hard caner for your first, Annabel?'
Felicity says, 'Mr Boulton was the worst I've had – or I suppose I should say the best. The hardest caner anyway. He was very nice and pleasant but he really caned my bottom. Harder than Gillman does.'
Rosalind says she hasn't had Mr Boulton. Annabel nervously bites her lip.
Annabel's first experience of this further training comes just two days later. She is told by Mrs Blacken at breakfast, as is usual, which means that there is all the day until tea time to think about it.
It is not Mr Boulton, his name is Craske, Mr Edward Craske. Annabel is conducted to Mrs Blackett's room and there he is. He takes her hand in greeting and she performs a little curtsey, as she has been instructed. Mrs Blackett smiles and says she will leave them together, tea will be brought in shortly. Annabel is trembling, knowing what is to come. The cane, from this previously unseen man.
He is perhaps 60, tall with silver hair, in country tweeds. He leads her over to the window. His voice is smoothly upper class as he makes small talk, asking Annabel about herself. His hand is at her waist... and then it slides down her rose-coloured silk dress onto the richness of Annabel's buttocks. Annabel stands still but her body is shaking. She looks out at the garden as the hand explores the ripe curves of her rear. It is pan of the test of course; discipline. She must docilely submit to this man's hand.
Annabel remains motionless as the hand goes down and then comes up again, this time up the backs of her thighs under the pink dress. Up the silkiness of her nylons and onto the satin-smooth bare flesh beyond.
'You're used to the cane now, my dear?' he murmurs.
Annabel hears herself say Yes. He asks, 'What about spanking? Have you ever been spanked, Annabel?'
Annabel shakes her head. The hand which has slid right up inside the wide leg of her French knickers is withdrawn. She finds herself being led over to the sofa. Mr Craske sits down... and pulls Annabel over his lap. As she goes down there is his voice, jocular:
'A properly submissive young woman should take a spanking as well as the cane, don't you think, my dear?'
Annabel feels her full skirt being pulled up, to fall down about her face; and then her pink knickers are being drawn down, to her knees. Annabel's ripe buttocks are bare, framed by the stocking tops and the wide suspender straps and her cream-coloured basque above. Mr Craske's hand roams freely over the opulent flesh. And then starts crisply spanking.
In a way it is worse than a caning. Not as painful but a more gross invasion of her person; this man's hand sharply smacking into Annabel's intimate flesh. That is the test presumably – to accept this invasion. Fiercely Annabel tells herself: I accept it; it is good for me. She tells herself this but her mind is unwilling to accept it.
The spanking continues. It is still going on when Annabel hears the door open. It is a maid with the tea. Mr Craske stops spanking but he does not cover Annabel's bared haunches or let her up. She can only bite her lip and lie there humiliatingly exposed as the maid arranges the tea things on the coffee table. At last she exits... and the spanking resumes.
A short while later Annabel, red-faced and with shaking hand, is having to act her hostess role and pour the tea. The skirt of her pretty pink dress is back in place but Annabel's knickers are off, a crumpled handful of pink silk on the sofa at her side. They are off so that when they have had tea Annabel can be caned.
He makes her kneel on the carpet in front of the sofa, her head and arms on its seat, and then Annabel's skirt is once more raised, turned back over her shoulders. I accept it, Annabel once more desperately tells herself as the cane zips into her spank-reddened rump. She gasps into the softness of the sofa. The stroke, and the ones that succeed it, are mind-blitzingly painful. Harder even than Gillman at his most intense.
Afterwards, when Mr Craske has left, Mrs Blackett, eyes searching Annabel's face, asks, 'Were you a good girl, then? Did you submit willingly; welcoming it?'
Annabel shakes her head, not in a negative but trying to collect her thoughts. Her head is still going round and round but she forces herself to concentrate. She must think positive thoughts.
'Yes,' she manages, her eyes bright with threatening tears. 'I accept it. I... I wanted it.'
Sylvia Blackett strokes her arm, smiling. Annabel is going to be another success. She is well on the way to becoming one of those nice traditional submissive females; and she still has more than five weeks of her training left. Five more weeks in which these ideas and attitudes can be firmly rooted in her mind and her body.
Smiling still, Mrs Blackett asks softly, 'Would you welcome another caning from me now, Annabel?'
Annabel blinks her eyes to stop the tears which are still threatening. 'Y... yes, Mrs Blackett,' she mutters. 'I... I know it would be good for me.'
Sylvia Blackett's dark eyes glitter. 'Excellent, Annabel. You are doing very well. Would you please slip your dress off, then.'