“A whipping Roger?”, she asked surprised. “Are you sure she said a whipping?”
“Yes, Missus”, the big man replied. “She was very specific.”
“Well…” Eleanor cleared her throat. Her hands shook a little and she paused to try to cover the quiver in her voice. This certainly was a deviation from plan.
“I’ve never been whipped Roger.”
“No missus. Not many of those anymore.”
“Don’t get me wrong. I expected some chastisement. Perhaps a caning-six of the best maybe-I had gotten that a couple of years ago, remember?”
“I do missus. Four years ago. Before you were Mrs. Plumm.”
“Yes! Yes…and that was a tight caning, if you’ll recall. You laid it on well.”
“I do remember. Didn’t really enjoy that, you know.”
“Oh, I know that, Roger. You made that clear at the time and I appreciate it. I did deserve it, I’ll admit. Still hurt like the devil.”
“The cane-especially applied wet- is wicked…”
For months she had feared her needs growing slowly from a tiny worm that tickled her belly to a fearsome serpent that constricted her from the inside stealing her breath and clouding all good thoughts. She glimpsed it once in the looking glass, flickering its cold, red tongue from behind her eyes. The vision so roiled that she’d smashed the glass with a pot later explaining that she’d dropped it in her own clumsiness.
Her weakling efforts to assuage her own urges were akin to bailing a sinking vessel with a teacup. With little Olivia at the maiden’s quarters she was alone to subject herself to whatever she thought might relieve the pressure that rang in her ears.
Their manner of dress made it easy to cover the marks she left on herself. Her natural reticence made the time alone in her home seem less conspicuous to anyone who might care, but she knew in a warm recess of her consciousness that standing naked in the cold woodshed, face pressed to the rough wall, swatting her bare thigh with a wooden spoon or coming perilously close to touching herself with a hot poker from the fire was leading her down a path she might not want to travel. Thus her plot to land in the Punisher’s chambers, which seemed to have worked too well.
“We’ve know each other a long time.”
“Since we were toddlers, Missus.”
“We played together!”
“Simpler times, Missus.”
“Please Roger, call me Ellie, as you used to.”
“In all that time have you ever known me to do anything that would warrant a…”
“Please Missus, leave me out of that part of it. Only one person decides the punishment for ladies of your class and it’s certainly not me. I just carry out the sentence.”
“But a whipping…” she gasped, realizing. “…Roger-is it to be public? In the square?” She held her hands to her breast, eyes like saucers.
“No…not in the square, per se.”
“In the courtyard. Right up the steps there to the crossbar beneath the oak tree.”
“Whipped in the courtyard?” her voice carried an edge of desperation.
“They’ll be no announcement made! Nothing to draw a crowd. We’ll just go up.”
“Well…now, I suppose.”
“It’s midday Roger. The courtyard will be full of workers taking their ease!”
“What am I to do?” his voice too carried an edge. “The time is the time!”
“I’m a wife and mother! Have lived inside these walls all my life! Everyone knows me! To be stripped naked and whipped in the courtyard is unacceptable!”
“With cause Missus! There is cause.”
“I know that! Cause for punishment-a caning, a strapping, even the birch-but not for that!” The tears that she was holding, only letting one at a time slide down her cheeks, began to flow freely.
Eleanor slid closer and hissed, “You know a whipping isn’t right. You know what she’s doing, don’t you? She wants to get even for…”
“Again, Missus, I don’t want to get into that!”
“Call me Ellie, please! It’s me. Ellie, Roger. Please…”
“What would you have me do?”
“Anything…nothing…something other than a whipping in the courtyard.”
She knew that by reputation the Punisher was incorruptible. That he had been plied with all manner of wanton offer over the years was assumed-that he had accepted any of them was universally and vociferously denied. But he was also Roger Peterman, her childhood playmate who had stolen a kiss or two before they knew what class meant in the kingdom.
He was leaning against the bench she had only heard of. Padded on top and on two kneeling platforms attached to the legs. Higher on one end than the other, it canted ever so slightly downward so once positioned upon it, the unfortunate’s bottom was the highest point of her anatomy. Straps hanging from the legs and left no doubt about the forbidding furniture’s usage.
The gossiping whispers over tea of this one or that one having to visit the Punisher’s chambers became less titillating when faced with the hard reality of a spanking bench and the man leaning against it truly contemplating her fate. That she had been a part of those leering gaggles was undeniable. Knowing that she would be the subject of them was unimaginable. “Naked in the courtyard”, was all she could think of. As her cold serpent coiled, she felt she might puke.
The oppressive silence of the big man’s contemplation pressed down on her until she-without planning to-dropped to her knees onto the cold stone floor. “Anything Roger, you know that, I will do anything to avoid walking naked up those stairs. Please, sir. I am begging you.”