Story from Janus 22.
by R.T. Mason
THE VIEW from the vicarage window is archetypically English: a perfectly groomed and spacious lawn, at either side leafy shrubs beset here and there with the blues of delphiniums, the reds and pinks of roses in full bloom, while beyond stands a stately ancient cedar; and in the centre of this idyllic setting, under a cloudless blue June sky, five youngsters – two girls, three boys – happily engage in an informal game of cricket.
Some might question perhaps the presence of that cloudless blue sky in an archetypal English setting: should it not be raining or at least dull and cloudy? Ah but this is the past when, as we all know, the sun was always shining, for these shouting, laughing children are in the dress of 1910 when Edward VII was on the throne and all was well with the world. Sadly however for one of our young cricketers all is not set to continue quite so well, nor the sky to remain quite so cloudless.
The one in question is Annabel: Annabel Leighton, 16, daughter of the Rev. and Mrs Leighton, who together with her sister Sophia, brother Colin, and cousins James and William, make up the carefree group on the lawn. She is a pretty girl with long russet hair tied in a thick ponytail which falls almost to the waist of that pretty mauve dress. The mane of hair twists and snaps as she runs here and there after the ball, white stockings flashing below the calf-length full-skirted dress and at times revealed, in her energetic movements, as far up as those pretty knees. Yes, the sky is cloudless, the day is long, and she is the daughter of a vicar in solid Edwardian England. Can there really be a cloud on her horizon?
The cloud in fact is looking out at her from the vicarage window. He is the Very Reverend Theophilus Gilbert, Dean of this diocese and as such the Rev. Leighton's direct superior. Dean Gilbert is a man of 60 years, of medium height and somewhat impressive girth in his tunic and gaiters. He is standing with Mrs Leighton, a pretty woman in her thirties who is smiling benignly at the happy scene. The Dean is not smiling however.
He is gazing intently at Annabel, at her carefree tomboyish movements. Her shape shows through the light summer dress which clearly has nothing in the way of corsets underneath; and what he can't see he can imagine: high girlish breasts, coltish thighs and, in particular, firm taut buttocks. He finds what he sees and what he can imagine distinctly arousing... and his thin mouth has a downward turn of disapproval.
'They seem to be enjoying themselves,' observes Mrs Leighton.
The Dean replies, sternly, 'Your daughter Annabel really is in need of some discipline – a girl of her age tearing about in that manner.'
He licks his thin lips. 'What she needs is a sound whipping.'
This open criticism of her offspring, and by implication of her own upbringing of her children, brings a flush to Mrs Leighton's cheeks. 'I'm afraid... well, their father, as you know, is a mild and Godly man. He does not find it easy to chastise his children.'
The Dean looks disapprovingly at her. 'Godliness should never be equated with excessive leniency where children are concerned, my dear lady. You should know that. Spare the rod and spoil the child. That child is in obvious need of the rod across her buttocks.'
If the Rev. Gilbert was unhappy with the cricketing scene he was a little later in a state of apoplexy. He was now with Mrs Leighton in the garden observing God's handiwork in the horticultural direction. The game of cricket had broken up and most of the participants disappeared somewhere; but Annabel, the Dean saw, was on the swing under the cedar tree with her taller cousin standing in front of her as she swung herself.
The boy was standing staring in some fascination and the Dean, curiosity aroused, walked over. The boy fled at his approach. He stood where the youngster had been... and at once saw what had so fascinated him. Dean Gilbert's eyes rounded.
The girl's skirt, either deliberately or due to her swinging, was pushed back above her knees which were also slightly parted. On view was the full extent of her white stockings, gartered at mid-thigh, and the slim bare thighs above. The thighs were bare to their juncture where, distinctly visible, was a neat brown bush. The girl had no drawers on!
As he looked the thighs innocently opened further, to reveal in intimate detail what lay between them – nothing less than Annabel Leighton's private parts, quite bare.
The Dean stood transfixed, blood rushing to his face and also to another part of his anatomy. For some long seconds he stood there, rooted to the ground, his blood pressure rising perilously as the girl continued gently swinging, knees invitingly parted. Then, opportunely, her mother joined them. Mrs Leighton saw at once what he saw, gave a desperate shriek, and ran forward at considerable personal risk to grab her daughter.
No injury in fact ensued, just mother and daughter falling to the ground in a confused tangle. The empty swing continued to oscillate, now in an erratic manner, above the two weakly struggling females. The Dean, panting, stood mopping his brow, picturing again what he had just seen.
* * *
It naturally took a little while, plus the reviving effects of the port decanter, to get the Rev. Gilbert back somewhere near normal. When he was it was clear that such outrageous behaviour required immediate action. And Mrs Leighton, still somewhat stunned herself, could only acquiesce. 'Yes, Dean... perhaps... in Mr Leighton's study, do you think?'
'The study will do very nicely,' said the Dean grimly.
The hapless girl was marched in. Naturally there was a cane on the premises, as one would expect in any good Christian household of the period, even though Rev. Leighton chose not to use it. Mrs Leighton produced it on request. 'But Dean, please... let me get some drawers on the wretched girl first!'
'There is no need,' pronounced the Dean. 'She has seen fit to discard them so she can continue without for a little longer. The cane anyway is much more effective on the naked buttocks.'
Annabel's mother blanched but was firmly ushered out. The study door was closed, leaving the whimpering Annabel alone with the Dean.
It had all happened so suddenly that the young girl was still dazed. One moment she was happily swinging, albeit with the Dean standing in front of her with a funny look on his face, and the next moment... well, the heavens seemed to fall in. She knew now though, from her mother, what horrendous offence she had committed and seeing the cane in the Dean's hand she knew just what her fate was to be. She started weeping.
She had been caned before, not by her father but by the village schoolmaster. Twice in fact. As her father was the vicar, though, and not just anybody she had on both occasions been permitted to retain her drawers, merely having skirt and petticoats pulled up above her waist as she lay across Mr Priddy's desk. And she also had only three strokes across those tight white drawers: the village girls could, and did, get ten and very often get them across their bare bottoms. But nonetheless what Annabel had got had hurt dreadfully. And now... she was so acutely and shamefully aware that she had no drawers on under her dress and she had heard the Dean's reference to 'naked buttocks'. She felt like she was going to be sick.
'Kneel on your father's footstool,' said the Dean, 'and put your hands on the floor in front.'
He had to repeat the instruction, the girl either not understanding or unable to believe he could really intend such a humiliating position. The second demand was accompanied by a stingy whipping of the cane across her white-stockinged calves. Annabel yelped, and got down over the stool in a hurry.
The Dean's hand went to the back of that sleek brown head and pressed firmly down. 'Head and hands down, Miss.' The cane was temporarily relinquished and his two hands reached to the hem of the full mauve taffeta dress, pulling it up. Right up over her back.
There was just the skirt, no petticoat and of course no drawers. Above the gartered white stockings the slim bare thighs, and above them the equally bare buttocks, full compared to the thighs but not yet fully ripe, the buttocks of a girl not yet at womanhood. Such buttocks, still with their firm youthful lines, unfortunately had a magnetic attraction for the Dean: but it was an attraction which clearly was a sinful one. Indeed buttocks such as this Annabel Leighton possessed could well have been moulded by the Devil himself.
The Rev. Gilbert felt again the blood pounding through his veins, such lewd and sinful buttocks naturally needed a regular caning – something which by her mother's own admission they did not get. And the culmination of this laxity was today's quite unbelievable behaviour, the girl flaunting her bottom quite bare under her skirt and to cap it all then flaunting her most sinful regions as well. For this no punishment could be too severe. He licked his lips. He raised the cane...
He brought it whistling down to crack into the pale flesh like a pistol-shot. Annabel gave a frantic shriek, her cry heard outside the study with stomach-churning horror by her mother and by siblings and cousins with wide-eyed awe. The pale buttocks, writhing in agony, now bore across their crests a transverse bright red stripe.
Eyes gleaming, the Dean watched as the girl's bottom and thighs desperately jerked and wriggled. Her flesh was indeed bewitching and he experienced again that tell-tale tightness at the front of his trousers as his own flesh sinfully responded. He must redouble his efforts, to drive out the Devil and all his sinful works. He raised the cane again and once more brought it energetically down across the still squirming flesh. There was another agonized howl.
Twenty minutes later the study door opened and the Dean emerged. His face bore a look of calm satisfaction – the look of a man who had been in a conflict of mounting excitement; who had fought it to its final climax and had then emerged victorious at the other side. The Devil, if not actually vanquished, had for the moment been beaten into submission. 'Your daughter has been suitably chastised, Mrs Leighton,' he murmured ponderously. 'Now I recommend bed and no supper.'
Mrs Leighton, entering the study, gave a cry of shock. Annabel was still bent over the footstool, immobile except for the occasional paroxysm of sobbing. Her skirt was still up over her back and her exposed buttocks and thighs were a mass of crisscrossing red stripes.
'Just let her be for the present,' said the Dean from the hall. 'And if you do perhaps have another glass of that excellent port...'
* * *
Two hours later, with the Dean departed some time since, Annabel was still intermittently weeping. Her mother had applied cold compresses and then a soothing cream but Annabel's bottom was still stinging dreadfully. Once more Mrs Leighton had the girl over her lap smoothing in some of that cream. She herself felt close to tears as she said, not for the first time, 'I still don't know how you coulddo such a thing, Annabel.'
'But Mama, I told you,' replied Annabel through her tears, 'It was just so hot and... I just took off my petticoat and... and my drawers.'
Mrs Leighton gave a desperate look towards the ceiling. 'Annabel! A properly brought-up young lady just does not take off her petticoat... And never never ever her... her drawers.' She blushed. 'And of all times to choose, with the Dean visiting... and up on the swing. Not to mention, according to the Dean, showing all you've got to James.'
From her face buried somewhere down in her mother's skirts Annabel's voice whimpered, 'I'm truly sorry, Mama. I won't ever do it again.'
'I'm afraid it's too late to be sorry now, my child. I've never seen Dean Gilbert so... so agitated. And afterwards, when he had finished caning you and was calmed down he was still... quite adamant. And nothing your father or I could say would have any effect.'
'What, Mama? What?'
'That you... you go for a session at a... Correction Establishment.' Tears were indeed now in Mrs Leighton's eyes at having actually said the dreaded words.
'Mama!... NO!' The girl's head reared up as her mother's words sunk in.
'I have warned you, Annabel. That at your age you should be acting in a much more lady-like manner. Because the Dean has remarked on it before: that your behaviour was just not suitable for a vicar's daughter. But, oh dear, never before anything like this!'
Mrs Leighton dabbed at her own eyes as her daughter started pleading in shocked earnest. 'But Mama, Mama!..'
'I'm afraid it is decided. I argued and so did your father. But it was just no use and your father had to eventually accept that the Dean knew best.'
The Dean did: he knew just the place. Mrs Palmer's Correction School for Girls, an excellent establishment set up for the purpose of instilling proper moral values in the recalcitrant young. Young females naturally. And the Dean could personally vouch for it because he had more than once visited the institute himself. Visited it to observe for himself those moral values being instilled with the cane into wriggling, squirming bare female buttocks.
Indeed the Dean did not only observe on these visits. He also liked to take a hand himself.
* * *
Mrs Palmer's establishment was in Birmingham, in a residential district of red-brick villas already grimed by the Industrial Revolution. A number of the larger houses were no longer in purely domestic use: there was a small infant school, a private lending library... and at No. 26 Wellington Drive, Mrs Palmer's Correction School for Girls. Outwardly this latter was a prim and respectable dwelling and inside... well, respectable too, for what went on at No. 26 Wellington Drive was in no way illegal or indeed to be frowned on. Some parents clearly could not cope with an unruly teenage daughter and such an establishment as Mrs Palmer's therefore provided, it was thought, a valuable service. A teenage girl could be sent there for a year – or more – especially if, for instance, the parents had business abroad. More usually, though, the stay was shorter – but nonetheless quite sufficient to teach a young Miss the error of her ways. Mrs Palmer saw to that.
* * *
Arrangements could obviously be made at short notice. Two weeks later Annabel accompanied by her mother arrived after a hot and uncomfortable train journey. A girl of about Annabel's age, in a blue gingham dress, ushered them in, to Mrs Palmer's parlour. She rose to greet them: a tall somewhat angular woman in a plain no-nonsense dress of a nondescript hue. Her hair was pulled plainly back in a bun from a face that was stern with sharp beady eyes. The eyes fixed momentarily on Annabel, causing her to cringe; then the stern face softened slightly as she greeted Annabel's mother.
'Ah Mrs Leighton. I trust you had a pleasant journey? And this is young..?'
'Annabel,' said Mrs Leighton.
They removed their coats and sat down. 'I... well, it's not that she's a bad girl, by no means, but just a little thoughtless and high-spirited at times. I was not at all sure she needed to come to you, but... we were persuaded.'
'And quite right I'm sure,' said Mrs Palmer. 'I'm sure I shall work wonders with her. Shan't I, Miss?' She reached out to take hold of Annabel's arm and squeezed it in a vice-like grip which could scarcely be misinterpreted as friendliness.
Relinquishing her hold she turned again to Mrs Leighton. In confidential tones she said, 'Now, about the fees...'
And in no time at all Annabel's mother was leaving. A tearful farewell and Annabel was on her own – alone, that is, with Mrs Palmer. She was to stay for a month – four weeks of whatever horrors this awful place contained. The tears she had brushed away at her mother's departure started afresh.
'There is no need for that!' said Mrs Palmer sharply. 'Not yet at least. Now, Annabel, is it?'
Blinking away tears, Annabel nodded.
'I think Annabel is rather a fancy name for a young girl, especially one who does not behave very well. So in this household you will be called Ann: nice and plain and straightforward. Is that understood?'
Annabel blinked again, hesitated, then mumbled, 'Y..yes.'
Seconds later she was gasping as Mrs Palmer's hand shot out and sharply smacked the side of her face. 'Manners, Ann! You address me as Ma'am. "Yes, Ma'am" is what I always want to hear from you. Understood, girl? Now we will go and find you some suitable clothes: those you are wearing are much too grand and not at all conducive to discipline.'
Annabel was taken to another room, not comfortably furnished like Mrs Palmer's parlour but with a bare wooden floor and walls painted in a dismal institutional brown. There was a scrubbed wooden table with hard upright chairs and at one side, cleaning the grate, a girl of about Annabel's age in the same sort of plain blue gingham dress that the girl at the front door had worn.
'Right: all those clothes off, Miss!' barked Mrs Palmer. 'Look sharp, or we'll warm up that bottom with the cane here and now.'
The other girl looked up, then got on with her work. Annabel started unfastening her dress – her best blue silk – Mrs Palmer went to a cupboard and took out items of clothing: one of those blue gingham dresses, black cotton stockings, white underwear, etc. Annabel's own clothes began to form a pile on the table: the silk dress, lawn petticoat, the fine white stockings. Finally she had just her camisole and drawers left.
'All of it!' ordered Mrs Palmer, now seated at the table. Annabel, with no alternative, was soon cowering nude, hands and arms covering firm, pert-nippled breasts and the neat brown bush below.
'Stand closer, girl. And stand up straight. Arms down at your sides... There's no need to be shy with me.'
She looked the girl up and down, her eyes like those of a bird of prey running over a choice victim. Annabel was told to turn round... presenting the slim white back, the slender backs of thighs, and at the centre what would be the focus of attention at Mrs Palmer's Correction School for Girls: the dimpling bottom, twin rounded cheeks with their shadowy dividing cleft. Mrs Palmer's eyes lit on this target.
Mrs Palmer's hand reached out – a largish masculine hand – and took hold of one bottom cheek. The girl gave a gasp. The hand commenced to roam, stroking and squeezing. Mrs Palmer's voice, thicker now: 'I trust, Ann, you are not addicted to any solitary sinful vice?'
The hand all at once had slipped between Annabel's thighs, high up where the skin was at its softest, to make clear her meaning, no doubt. Annabel had never felt so embarrassed. She started trembling.
Mrs Palmer's voice, now addressed the girl who was still busy at the grate: 'Because such habits are punished in the harshest manner, are they not, Lucy?'
Lucy looked up, then quickly down again. 'Yes, Ma'am.'
The intimate hand was abruptly removed. Mrs Palmer stood up, and sharply slapped Annabel's bottom. 'Right Miss: I shall leave you here to get dressed. Lucy will then show you what you need to know about the house. After tea, Lucy, I shall want to see her in the Correction Room, suitably dressed. She will be sleeping with you now that Clara has left.'
There was a submissive 'Yes Ma'am' from Lucy. Then, carrying Annabel's own clothes Mrs Palmer went out.
The naked Annabel quickly grabbed at the pile of clothes which had been laid out. The underwear was of unadorned coarse cotton, very unlike her own lace-trimmed frillies, but she nonetheless eagerly pulled on the sleeveless camisole and the drawers. They fitted passable well though the drawers, form-fitting and with legs reaching to mid-thigh, were rather tight. The black stockings followed, then the petticoat, and the calf-length gingham dress. There was also a pair of square lace-up black shoes which again were a reasonable fit.
'You're lucky,' said Lucy with a shy smile. 'I mean with it all fitting.'
Lucy was dark with short brown curling hair, a pretty girl who smiled shyly at Annabel. She asked the obvious question: how long was Annabel there for. She herself had been with Mrs Palmer for four months but didn't know when she was leaving. Her father had remarried and her stepmother... Lucy bit her lip. 'They think there's an uncle who might take me but he's abroad at the moment.'
'That's awful,' said Annabel. 'But... what's it like? What happens here?'
Lucy made a face. 'We have to do all the household work of course. And when you're not doing that, sewing and scripture mostly. But the main thing is that you're getting the cane all the time. Corrective training it's called. Twice a day regular, and more if she can find some excuse!'
She smiled ruefully at Annabel's shocked face. 'You'll get used to it, I expect. Most girls do, anyway. Come on, I've got to show you round.' She picked up two remaining garments from the table. 'You better take these.'
One of the items was a nightdress – that same plain coarse white cotton. But the other...
'What's that?' asked Annabel.
'Correction dress. You wear it when you're to be dealt with.'
Annabel bundled the two items under her arm. 'Correction dress' had a nightmare sound and she had no wish to examine it. Lucy conducted her over the house – or that part of it reserved for the girls. The room they had been in was where they had their meals, and there were besides: kitchen, scullery, a class room, bedrooms, and of course the Correction Room. They didn't go in there: Lucy said Annabel would be seeing that after tea. All the rooms seemed to be in that same institutional glossy brown paint with bare floors and the minimum of furniture.
'A bit different from Mrs Palmer's rooms,' said Lucy, 'but we don't go there except when we have a visitor.'
She said there were six girls with Mrs Palmer at that time, Annabel would be the seventh. There were several of them doing jobs as they walked around, but Annabel would see them all at tea.
And back in that room at 5 o'clock the five other girls were there – all in the 16 to 18 age bracket and all in blue gingham frocks and black stockings. Mrs Palmer stood at the head of the table with her daughter, a pasty-faced woman in her twenties, at the other end. Mrs Palmer briefly mentioned Annabel, then said a Grace, and they all sat down – to bread and marge, with one slice with fish paste for each girl, plus weak tea to drink. The meal was consumed in silence except when Mrs Palmer put a question to one of the girls. Miss Palmer said nothing throughout.
After tea the girls were to do their sewing under the supervision of Miss Palmer but Annabel, of course, had her appointment with Mrs Palmer. Lucy took her up to their room, a small third floor bedroom with a brass bed and two chairs and not much else. Lucy said Annabel had better get down to see Mrs Palmer right away as she didn't like being kept waiting. 'You keep your shoes and stockings on,' she said, 'but that's all. You have to be bare under the correction dress.'
It was a plain knee-length rather shapeless gown of greyish cloth. It opened from neck to hem, the opening being tied together with a series of tapes. Annabel, with her clothes off, reluctantly began to pull it on.
'No! Not like that!' exclaimed Lucy. 'It goes on the other way. It ties at the back.'
Annabel looked at her... and her face gradually became scarlet as the implication of Lucy's words sunk in.
'Yes,' confirmed the other girl. 'It's so she can open it at the back. For the caning.'
* * *
The Correction Room had the same stark functional appearance as the rest of the girls' part of the house: a plain brown polished floor, walls again in that shiny brown paint, their starkness here relieved by one solitary decorated text: The Lord is My Shepherd. And contained within this gloomy setting a number of simple functional items: a wooden desk and chair at one end of the room and out in the centre with free access around them, a leather-covered table and a wooden horse, straddle-legged and with a padded leather top. The table was about the height of a girl's hips; the horse was somewhat higher.
At the side of the desk was an umbrella stand: this contained not umbrellas though but a selection of canes.
Mrs Palmer, when Annabel came in, was seated at the desk writing in a ledger. She glanced up, then continued writing as she said, 'Close the door. And come here.'
Annabel complied, trying to stop herself shivering. It was not that she was cold – although she now had no underwear on, just the correction gown and stockings. No, the shivering was fear. Fear of Mrs Palmer; stark fear of what was to come. She could see her name in Mrs Palmer's book, and something being written against it...
Mrs Palmer abruptly put down her pen, blotted her book and looked up. 'Stand here girl. Closer! With your back to me.'
And then Annabel felt the woman's hands at the ties of her gown – those ties all down the back which only minutes earlier she and Lucy had done up, Lucy saying, 'You've got to tie them in bows so they can be easily undone.'
Now they were being undone and one of Mrs Palmer's hands, feeling cold and clammy, was in the opened gown, running over her bare back, her bottom, fondling.
Mrs Palmer's voice, as her hand ran over the girl's flesh: 'Your first caning, Ann, and I think we'll have you over the table for it. Now while I'm caning you I want you to be thinking about how you can be a better girl in the future. Do you understand that?' The hand continued to roam.
'Yes... Yes, Ma'am,' whispered Annabel, close to tears.
She was shortly over the hip-high table, her torso lying face-down on its leather top and her arms stretched out to grip the far edge. Her feet were flat on the floor but Mrs Palmer then parted her legs and placed a stool from under the table between her feet to keep them well separated. In this spread-legged posture only the toes of those black lace-up shoes now touched the floor, and this made Annabel feel even more nervous.
'Hold that position,' instructed Mrs Palmer as she carefully arranged the open gown on either side of the girl so that it could not interfere with the stroke of the cane.
That was the extent of the preliminaries: she was after all in a routine she had gone through hundreds of times before. She stood back, positioned herself, then briskly drew the cane back and brought it slashing squarely down across the girl's pale buttocks. Annabel gave a frantic howl, her stricken bottom desperately writhing.
Without the backswing Mrs Palmer applied a short sharp cut across the girl's thighs. 'Stop that bellowing! If you continue with that infantile racket you'll get a double dose.'
She raised the cane again and slashed it down as with the first stroke. There was the same desperate writhing but this time only a half-stifled gasping cry. She raised the cane and slashed it down again... And again... The practised stroke methodically flaying the girl's tender flesh.
Ten times in all the cane was raised and whipped down onto Annabel's soft buttocks. Mrs Palmer, her task completed, put down the cane. The girl lay sobbing, her bottom bearing across its fullest curve a six-inch-wide band of angry red stripes. With a smug expression now on that hard face, Mrs Palmer reached out her hand. Caressing the tortured flesh.
'Your first lesson, Ann, and I trust you have benefited from it. Now what do you say?'
Lucy had told her what she must say. The words were just intelligible from the face on the tear-stained table top. 'Th... th...ank-you... Ma'am.'
Afterwards she went up to the bedroom and, still crying, put her clothes back on. Tearfully she joined the other girls who were sewing: they all looked up, then quickly down again. No one spoke except for Miss Palmer saying, 'Fetch your sewing things from the box, Ann.'
She sat down with her sewing. Her bottom still stung dreadfully. She kept her head down, trying to concentrate on her work and not looking at the others. From time to time a tear plopped down into the lap of the gingham dress.
* * *
Later – but not much later, at about 8 o'clock – each girl had a slice of bread-and-dripping. Then a cold wash and into bed.
At least in bed there was some sense of comfort, but on the other hand there was time now to reflect on the whole horrendous situation. Annabel started crying again. Lucy put her arms round her. 'You'll get used to it after a bit. And you've only got one month.'
But Annabel continued crying. Lucy whispered, 'I know something that'll make you feel better.'
'What?' asked Annabel through tears, and Lucy said, 'You know...'
Annabel didn't know. She was a stranger to what Mrs Palmer had referred to earlier when she had to strip off. Now when Lucy's hand slid up Annabel's nightgown the innocent vicar's daughter gave a shocked gasp and grabbed at the hand. But at least she had slopped crying.
'Keep still,' said Lucy. 'Don't you ever do it?'
'No!' gasped Annabel.
'Well, keep still and let me. It's nice.'
Annabel had no doubt that what Lucy wanted to do must be terribly wicked. But nonetheless after a certain amount of struggling Lucy gave in. And, well, it was true, if you forgot how wicked it was, it was nice.
They fell asleep together but in no time at all it was morning, with a bell harshly jangling in the room to remind you of the grim reality of No.26 Wellington Drive. A cold wash, get dressed, then quickly down to a breakfast of congealed porridge.
'Eat up girls,' said Mrs Palmer, presiding. 'It's very nutritious. Then get on quickly with your jobs. There's no time for dawdling because at 10 o'clock you have a visitor. Everyone in the parlour for inspection, and I don't need to tell you, everyone looking spick and span.'
'What is it?' asked Annabel as she and Lucy washed the breakfast things.
Lucy made a face, 'You'll see. One of our friendly visitors.'
He was a portly man in a newish-looking suit, red-faced with rather piggy eyes. He was sitting in Mrs Palmer's best armchair when they all filed in.
They all had to stand in a line and then one by one step forward to stand in front of him. The first girl, Susan, seemed to know what to do. She stood facing the man while he looked her over and then he nodded to Mrs Palmer who said 'Up' to Susan. And Susan just lifted her skirt and petticoat up to her waist, showing the man a full frontal view of her drawers and black stockings. He stared for a bit, then nodded again and Mrs Palmer said 'Turn' and Susan then turned round to present her bottom.
Mrs Palmer said 'Bend a little' and Susan then bent forward from the waist. So that the tight seat of her drawers was thrust out at him. The man's face became even redder as he stared at Susan's bottom in the tightly-fitting drawers. Then once again he nodded and Mrs Palmer said, 'Right, Susan: back in line.'
They all had to go through this routine – including of course Annabel. At the end of it a few discreet words were exchanged between the man and Mrs Palmer and she then said, 'Emily, stay behind please. You others resume your duties.'
Six girls exited as Emily stayed behind. She was a pretty brunette with a fuller figure than most of the girls – and in particular when she had raised her skirt there had been a ripe full-cheeked bottom in the tight drawers. Mr Greeley, the visitor, presumably preferred the full rump to the slimmer specimens that girls such as Annabel had to offer.
At a curt word from Mrs Palmer Emily reached up under her dress and drew down her drawers, then got over Mr Greeley's lap. Her skirt was pulled up and there were the white drawers bunched around her stocking tops and there also was that full bottom, now bared. Mr Greeley, visibly sweating, raised his hand and proceeded to energetically spank the offered bottom.
When he had finished a red-faced Emily got to her feet and pulled up the drawers. She waited hesitantly. If she was lucky it was over: if she wasn't there would be a further session in the Correction Room over the table or horse, the cane on her bare bottom. Another whispered consultation between the visitor and Mrs Palmer. Then that lady's crisp tones indicated that it was as she had feared.
'Get your correction gown on, Emily, and then go to the Correction Room.'
Such a session as this was by no means rare in establishments like Mrs Palmer's – as Annabel was to unhappily discover. Girls were there to be punished and a gentleman might quite properly take an interest in such proceedings – and, if he was prepared to pay for the privilege, he might also, on the quiet, participate as well. As Mr Greeley had just done. Donations were a necessary part of the institution's income, whether or not all were entered in the ledgers.
Annabel was naturally unaware of what took place in Mrs Palmer's parlour after she and the others had been told to leave. She got some inkling though from the hushed words of relief amongst the other girls – relief because anyone's bottom was better than your own! And later Lucy told her – that Emily would get it from the visitor, and such visitors were unfortunately part of routine life at Mrs Palmer's.
In any event after their midday meal there was a visitor especially for Annabel. 'Wash and smarten up,' instructed Mrs Palmer, 'and go to the parlour.'
Who could it be? Not her parents when she had only been here one day. And if not them then there was only..? Yes. Dean Gilbert. Come for another joust with the Devil.
* * *
'I've come to see you're settling in all right,' he blared when she was cringingly presented to him.
'Yes, Sir... thank-you, Sir,' she whispered.
'Good!' His hand squeezed her waist. 'Because when a girl has been allowed to become lax, getting back on to the straight and narrow path is bound to be a little painful. But it's all for your own good, Annabel.'
'Good girl!' He gave a significant glance to Mrs Palmer who was hovering in the background. And that good lady briskly told Annabel to get her correction gown on and then go to the Correction Room.
She had been half expecting it but the reality came like a blow in her stomach. Once again, though, there was no option. In her room, blinking back tears, she forced herself to undress and put on the hateful gown, then went downstairs. When she presented herself the Dean was already there... examining the contents of the umbrella stand. She closed the door and went to stand in front of him – as he experimentally swished several canes through the air.
He finally decided on one and placed it on the desk. 'Right, young lady.' His eyes were gleaming. 'Turn around, please... let me see your back.'
His fingers, clumsy in their eagerness, unfastened the tapes. The gown was opened from neck to waist. Beneath it, he knew from experience, as with all Mrs Palmer's girls when they were prepared for correction, there were just the black stockings, gartered at mid-thigh – and bare young female flesh. Young female flesh: the work of the Devil. And with this young Annabel Leighton, as he so vividly recalled, the Devil had outdone himself.
The Dean's hands reached out, to take hold of the smooth buttocks. He felt their heat, their wicked lewd heat, and he felt himself responding. He waited, fondling the buttocks, feeling his blood pounding, letting his excitement grow; then, his voice thick, he rasped, 'Up on the horse then, girl.'
She needed the stool to get up and lay herself across the leather pommel. Then he took the stool away, causing her legs to dangle free. She held on to the legs of the horse as the Dean pulled the gown wide apart. Her buttocks were high, firmly out-thrust, a sinful delight: and his masculine response was inevitable. There was only one way to deal with the Devil: the lewd flesh must be vigorously chastised...
He raised the cane and brought it whistling down, biting it into the buttocks' tender flesh.
The girl howled, his excitement was intense. He raised the cane and slashed it down again... and again. The girl's desperate howls were matched with grunts of excitement from the Dean. As the cane rose and fell he felt himself carried upward, as on a wave, his blood pounding, surging...
From her peephole Mrs Palmer watched with a frown on her face. The Dean was getting notably agitated, so much so that she felt she dare not leave. It was her duty to remain at her unsuspected viewing-post. Gentlemen visitors, even a man of such probity as Dean Gilbert, could rarely be entirely trusted with a girl. There was always the possibility that the visitor could get so carried away in his excitement as to cause real injury. And in addition – though not of course with the Dean – there was always the possibility of an attempt at physical interference with the girl, even an attempt at actual carnal knowledge. Mrs Palmer in her years in the profession had learnt to be on her guard – as behoved one with a legal responsibility for her pupils.
So she kept her eye to the peep-hole, watching the cane rising and falling upon the bare buttocks of the howling girl; and the Dean, face scarlet, eyes fixed, panting with his efforts.
Then she heard above the howls of the girl a gasping cry from the Dean. The frantic caning abruptly ceased, the cane slid from his hand, he grabbed the table for support. To those unfamiliar with such matters it might be thought that the Dean had sustained a heart attack. But Mrs Palmer, noting the convulsive movements of his body, favoured a different diagnosis.
Annabel Leighton was still over the horse, her bottom a criss-crossing mass of red stripes; but Mrs Palmer's practised eye could see it was nothing that would not disappear relatively quickly. She might get her daughter to put a cold compress on the girl's backside but with any luck she should be in fit shape to take this evening's routine caning. From Mrs Palmer.
* * *
Five weeks later, July now and still very hot in Gloucestershire where in the little village of Lower Crickhampton the vicarage garden is looking just a bit parched.
Annabel is home and is now a very changed girl, no longer the laughing carefree young tomboy we saw earlier playing cricket on this lawn. She is quiet, withdrawn, and given to outbursts of weeping for no apparent reason. This behaviour causes her mother some concern but she assumes it is merely a temporary development – growing up. Her stay at Mrs Palmer's has certainly worked wonders for her general behaviour – although Mrs Leighton can't help thinking that it really was rather nice when Annabel used to run about so, even if it was somewhat unladylike.
Mrs Farmer had indeed been sorry to see Annabel go and had suggested a further month's stay, but Mrs Leighton had really thought that unnecessary. The truth, although naturally it had not conveyed to Mrs Leighton, that Annabel had been quite a little money-winner. Not just the fees for her stay but she – and that enticingly youthful bottom – had proved very popular with a number of gentlemen callers – in addition, of course, to the Dean.
Mrs Palmer knew how to make the most of one of her charges in this situation. The gentleman could, the first time, have the girl for a session at a very reasonable sum: then if he was seen to be hooked on her the price would inevitably rise. And if it seemed his pocket could stand it, could rise quite astronomically, because gentlemen could become very addicted at times.
Dean Gilbert was not required to pay – that would be unthinkable. He was a most valuable gentleman to have as visitor, bringing with him a much-prized aura of unimpeachable respectability, and also he had been responsible for placing the girl with Mrs Palmer.
Yes it had all been a very rewarding stay for Mrs Palmer with no problems at all to speak of. It was true that once or twice, due to a gentleman's over-enthusiasm, she had had to miss one of her own routine canings of the girl. And that had been somewhat annoying because Mrs Palmer did enjoy doing her duty in that regard. A wonderful way to release her tensions. But she had not let it bother her too greatly. As she herself was fond of saying, a person's life was not meant to be a bed of roses all the time. So there had been the regrets that the girl could not stay longer, but that was all. Otherwise all had been well.
Yes, all had been well for Mrs Palmer and all is now generally well at Lower Crickhampton on this hot day at the end of July. It is a day of somewhat out of the ordinary though. Dean Gilbert is here again for one thing, and there is also a sense of bustle about the house. Trunks are being packed. Trunks for Annabel. Surely, though, she is not going for another period of corrective training?
Well, no. Or at least... The fact is that the Dean has made the point that she could so easily lapse back into her old unfortunate ways. And in addition the schooling she has been getting in the village is really very limited. And as it happens the Dean himself was a prize-winning Latin scholar years ago at Oxford.
So yes. Annabel is to go and stay with Dean Gilbert. It is effectively an indefinite stay: no date for return has been proposed, and all in all it is a very generous gesture on his part.
It is an unfortunate fact that since this has been agreed a week ago Annabel's spells of weeping have been more frequent and prolonged. She is crying again now in her bedroom on this lovely hot July afternoon. Her mother who is with her packing Annabel's clothes tells her, yet again, not to be a silly girl. Life with Dean Gilbert is bound to offer many things that she would just not get at home. That of course is what Annabel is afraid of.
And the Dean himself? At this moment he is out in the garden. He has happened to come across Annabel's younger sister, Sophia. She had tried to slip quietly away when she saw the Dean approaching but was not quite quick enough. He now has her cornered, like a young wild creature, at the end of the orchard.
Sophia is a pretty girl, like her sister, and almost as tall, with long blonde hair in contrast to Annabel's russet. She also, as the Dean has observed before, has her sister's appealingly slender form. In answer to his question she says, in little more than a whisper, 'Just 16, Sir', for it was her birthday in the last week in June.
The Dean's tongue carefully moistens his thin lips. And his hand reaches round behind the girl to take hold, through the dark pink dress, of a tightly rounded rump...