Photo-story from Janus 33
It was an oppressive day at the height of an English summer. Cabbage whites fluttered by on leaden wings, their delicate membranes battling against the still air and clogging humidity. Even the cheery sparrows were silent, unable to continue the chirpy chit-chat they had started so optimistically at the crack of dawn. All living creatures in the vicinity of Spencer Hall were sensibly restricting their movements to the quest for moisture. All living creatures that is, except Deborah Spencer-Smythe.
Picking flowers was something that Deborah did a great deal. Spencer Hall often resembled the Chelsea Flower Show when Deborah was at home, in fact Sir William Spencer-Smythe was often sure that there were more flowers in the Hall than there were in the grounds. Truly, he was beginning to despair of the girl. She was 18 years of age, academically bright but with a mind that in all other respects seemed to be permanently vacant. She had no outside interests apart from an odd preoccupation with flowers, and her interest in young men was decidedly minimal. The situation was getting so bad that Sir William was seriously considering the possibility of forgoing the not-inconsiderable expense of Deborah’s ‘coming-out’ ball. A lot would depend on the events of the next two weeks… two weeks away from Spencer Hall, whilst he was the invited guest of the Laird of Auchtermaldie. Deborah had been left alone at the Hall, except for the servants of course, for the first time in her life. Naturally she wasn’t without supervision. Before leaving for the solitude of the Western Highlands, Sir William Spencer-Smythe had elicited the help of a long-standing family friend who had promised to provide Deborah with an interest and a high degree of supervision.
Alice Fitzherbert was a redoubtable spinster in her mid-thirties, and in Sir William’s view precisely the kind of no-nonsense personality his abstracted daughter needed to be influenced by. She was used to controlling unruly and high-spirited fillies and as far as she was concerned young Spencer-Smythe merited no preferential treatment. Alice had devised a routine for the girl that was both character-building and good occupational therapy. It was based on honest-to-goodness manual labour and with a 7 a.m. start would soon have the girl back on the right track. She was delighted that Sir William had given her the autocratic control she had demanded as a condition of rendering assistance. It was the only way that she knew. Life and the stables she owned were both run on her terms and hers alone, and many were unable to stand the pace. She was able to organise both better than any man she had ever met. As far as she was concerned, men were ‘surplus to requirements’. Perhaps this was why she had never married, although it was a subject she refused to give much thought to. There were better and more important things in life.
Deborah was entranced. The delicate petals of the soft yellow rose which she had just picked exuded the most subtle of fragrances. Her well-bred nostrils expanded gently to allow the sweet scent to insinuate to the very core of her sensory perception. She closed her eyes concentrating on its misty aroma. Briefly the traumas of life were forgotten. Also forgotten was the reality of life and reality in this case was the potentially painful fact that Deborah had not arrived at Alice Fitzherbert’s stables at seven o’clock prompt to ‘muck out’ the five horses that Sir William Spencer-Smythe kept in livery. Naturally all this was as far from Deborah’s mind as the stables were from Spencer Hall. Besides, Deborah had the disconcerting ability to forget anything which was alien to her dreamlike inner being. Nothing could be more contrasting with that fanciful sensitivity than the pungent stink of horse manure. Obviously this was not something that Deborah wished to remember, so retreat to the flower beds of Spencer Hall was balm and solace to the thought of liniment and leather.
For her part Alice Fitzherbert was not aware of Deborah’s absence until 10.30 when she returned, on a perspiring gelding, from the most strenuous gallop across the Sussex Downs. Alice did not respond in the way of normal people. Not for her the ‘seeing of red’ or the ‘blind rage of righteous indignation’, this would simply have impaired efficiency and Alice Fitzherbert was most definitely efficient. ‘Icy calm’ would be the best way to describe Alice’s response. She simply handed the exhausted gelding over to a young stable hand and without bothering to change, strode purposefully off in the general direction of Spencer Hall. The only hint of impatience in the brisk walk was a steady and rhythmic slap of a riding crop against the expensive leather of an immaculate riding boot.
The waiting was terrible, but the thinking was worse. Everything that Deborah should have done at the stables that morning confronted her. She magnified the consequences of everything and the foreboding intensified. She was unable to stop herself thinking and even though she tried, her mind returned immediately and tortured her once again.
She hadn’t woken till gone nine, and then she had allowed the unpleasant idea of the riding stables to kind of slip her mind. She had never wanted to go there in the first place, but instead felt a beautiful longing for the gardens.
Time passed slowly. Too slowly. The noise that caused Deborah’s head to turn was quiet, but in the eerie silence of the drawing room, quite startling.
The beautiful majesty of the freshly plucked yellow rose totally occupied Deborah and she became aware of little else. She felt wonderfully at peace with the world. In such a blissful state of tranquillity, it was perfectly understandable that Deborah would be unaware of the aggressively striding figure directly behind her.
Alice Fitzherbert stopped. The cold eyes took in the full panorama of floral beauty, finally coming to rest on the slightly stooping figure of the tall and elegant Deborah. Patiently she waited until the girl began to rise and then halfway through the leisurely movement Alice finally gave full vent to her repressed anger. The voice, which at times could be harsh and grating, suddenly exploded in a stentorian roar.
‘DEBORAH! WAKE UP GIRL!’
The rest of Deborah’s movement was electrified. She reached her full height and completed a terrified half-turn with the speed of a startled rabbit. Her doe-like eyes widened at the significant figure of the menacing huntswoman, who now pointed with her outstretched riding crop towards the ornate door at the rear of the old Hall. Deborah tried to speak, but her throat had become parched. She mouthed silently and breathlessly. Something about this woman really unnerved her. An icy finger chilled her spine and she half closed her eyes anticipating the next moment.
‘IN GIRL! I’LL DEAL WITH YOU INSIDE!’
Her peace shattered, Deborah turned forlornly towards the Hall. The awful voice seemed to echo after her, jolting her back to sensibility. She hadn’t reported to the stables at seven o’clock! That was it! Oh God, why did it have to be that woman? Why did Daddy have to leave her in charge?
Her spirits sinking by the second, Deborah entered the drawing room. She sat on the sofa, perching herself nervously on its edge.
The atmosphere seemed to close in around her and she felt trapped. Something told her that the worst was about to happen, though she could not imagine what. Foreboding had descended like fog and Deborah waited.
Alice Fitzherbert flung open the door and stood there towering in the doorframe in full hunting regalia, glaring down at her!
‘Stand up, girl!’ she said, after fixing her gimlet eyes on the acutely perturbed Deborah for a full ten seconds.
Deborah got uneasily to her feet. Her tummy was starting to feel like a churning pit, and the way Miss Fitzherbert bristled as she glared at her, and the way she had just addressed her, made her break out in a cold sweat. She simply could not cope with such an onslaught; she was too delicate.
‘YOU GOOD-FOR-NOTHING BONE-IDLE SLACKER!’ Alice Fitzherbert roared. ‘Stand up straight when I am talking to you!’ Her unfeigned anger, and her zipping motions with the riding crop, struck fear into the young girl’s soul. Miss Fitzherbert, flintstone-hard, looked perfectly furious — and the baronet’s daughter found her normal manner very hard to handle. She began to tremble, and the trembling quickly spread to every limb.
As Deborah straightened to attention, she felt Miss Fitzherbert’s riding crop under her chin, jerking her head up. At that moment something inside her surrendered, like a buttercup in the path of an advancing bulldozer.
In such a state of shock she heard the prominent local huntswoman telling her, in her clipped, ‘county’ bark, that she was due at a meet in one hour ten minutes, which would provide just enough time to ‘teach you a lesson you’ll never forget, girl!’
The brutal, frozen bitch snapped that Deborah had been placed under her personal supervision by her father during his absence in Scotland, with full powers of parental authority and a request to ‘try to buck her ideas up’, and that was precisely what she was now going to do! Honestly, Deborah hadn’t for one moment dreamed that not reporting to the stables at seven to muck the horses out could possibly be viewed so seriously, but with imprecations like ‘lazy’ and ‘disobedient’ and ‘It’s high time you were brought to your senses, you stupid waster!’ ringing around the high-ceilinged principal reception room at Spencer Hall, Deborah instinctively sought the safety of contrite apology and the exaggerated ashamed humility which had so often deflected Sir William’s ire and protected her from the worst of the hot water she might have landed in as a child. But now as a young adult her meek and submissive demeanour, her appearance of being bewildered by her own misbehaviour and abject in her repentance, unfortunately seemed to provoke exactly the opposite reaction from the intolerant huntswoman who found Deborah’s inadequacies incomprehensible and utterly inexcusable and certainly did not share any of the girl’s fathers doting attributes. On the contrary, one of Miss Fitzherbert’s most oft-repeated sayings was ‘Give an inch and they’ll take a mile’, and wherever she spotted a weakness she invariably closed in, with harsh relish, for the kill.
What followed is shown, in complete detail, in these sequential photographs. Before Deborah could take stock of what was happening to her, she found herself being grasped by her upper arms and forced by the strong and determined woman towards a small, low, square footstool, and made to kneel on it.
‘You will stay there — you will kneel on that stool — upright! — until I say you may stand!’ Alice Fitzherbert snapped. ‘You will kneel in that position as a punishment, and as you kneel you will think about your disobedience to me! You will reflect upon your incorrigible laziness, and as you start to feel uncomfortable you will understand that disobeying my orders will always lead to your sorely regretting it!’
‘I am sorry,’ Deborah’s voice was so small as she knelt on the small hard stool, feeling terribly ashamed and embarrassed.
‘Keep that posture erect!’ Alice Fitzherbert barked, as if shouting instructions to a trainee equestrienne. ‘Shoulders back! I want to see that back straight. Your legs perfectly upright above the knee, head up and arms straight down by your flanks! Show some pluck girl!’
The huntswoman’s sharp words corkscrewed into her mind; underlying them, the kneeling penitent sensed a wholly unknown vindictive menace. She felt her face flush hotly, and then drain, leaving her feeling dizzy and faint. The butterflies in the pit of her stomach forced a murmuring sigh out of her parted lips. Deborah could feel her body trembling; she fought to keep still. Long-submerged memories of being punished as a little girl suddenly surfaced: the disgrace and fear, being spanked bare-bottomed by her father, and crying seemingly for hours afterwards, her buttocks stinging, her pillow awash with shame. But more than that, the helplessness, complete vulnerability, the passive yielding to an angry adult authority…
It was just the same now: all those old sensations, but much stronger, much more shameful, to feel them at her present age. Her very sensitive nature smarted with excruciation at being punished like a child.
Deborah heard the brisk clack of Alice Fitzherbert’s hunting boots on the bare polished boards as her tormentor strode around behind her, scrutinising her posture, saying nothing. She was ever so aware of that crop which the huntswoman held in her hands and frequently flexed; it seemed to grow out of her body, as an organic extension of her being, and to symbolise in a very real way her limitless, dangerous power. And now kneeling was becoming more and more uncomfortable by the minute: her knees hurt, her body ached, she longed to sit or lie down. She closed her eyes, murmuring a silent prayer, stifling a welling urge to sob.
Time passed. Slowly. Too slowly. Deborah’s nerves were stretched taut. So was her body. She felt awfully conscious of her body, of her bare legs on display, of those various multiplying aches and pains and the momentary tremors which ran like electric currents across her skin, and she was conscious too of the need to hold her body still despite all these sensations. Her head hung in shame, her eyes downcast, her lips parted. Alice Fitzherbert’s boots clacked behind her, somewhere to her right. The crop zipped again. The woman barked:
‘I SHALL NOW LEAVE YOU FOR A FEW MINUTES. YOU WILL STAY IN THAT POSITION, GIRL UNTIL I RETURN.’
Then she exited.
Deborah continued to obey her last instruction until it became unbearable. Then, checking that the coast was clear by turning her head slightly and looking at the open doorway out of the corner of her eye, the foolish girl swiftly slid backwards off the stool, changing her position and resting her feet on the floor. The relief was immediate and Deborah puffed out breath in a sigh of sudden comfort.
Her ears strained, every limb on its mark to scramble back into position at the first sound of Miss Fitzherbert’s return. But Deborah had not reckoned with such a suspicious nature. Ever since leaving the room the huntswoman had been poised just around the corner of the open door, herself on the alert for any telltale sound of Deborah ‘breaking her stance’. Her sudden, explosive re-entry caught the would-be debutante completely offguard, and a shock like actually being hit by lightning in a thunderous storm wiped out all last vestiges of Deborah’s self-control.
When the huntswoman ordered her to strip off to the buff, she didn’t even register any surprise. Her instant response was to take off all her clothes as quickly as possible, to try to stave off any additional fury. Numbed by these escalating events which had run clean out of control, Deborah retreated totally into her childish submissive ‘little girl contrite’ act, only it was no act but real.
But she didn’t strip fast enough for Miss Fitzherbert, who was obliged to yank down her white knickers whilst she was struggling out of her matching white blouse.
A wholly new sensation overwhelmed the dreamlike beauty whilst she stood — ‘to attention, girl!’ — in the nude in front of the beastly, strident huntswoman who looked her up and down, riding crop very obviously in hand. Deborah began to feel suddenly highly sexual. She had not bothered with boys because she had always been lost in the delicate world of her own imagination, which was peopled mainly by flowers and fairies, but her body did cry out to her with its own hunger and at night she would often play with herself, surrounded by sweet-scented flowers, for hours. Since growing up, she had never undressed before another person — that was one of her keenest and most exciting fantasies, for she knew how beautiful she was — but such imaginations had as often as not involved other females rather than boys.
Now, in the nude, undergoing punishment, her mind dissolving into the far past, Deborah knew that she must obey Miss Fitzherbert scrupulously: in total submission lay her only hope of mercy and forgiveness. The world was too big a place for her to comprehend, let alone argue with her fate. A prickling tension — of fear and God knows what — electrified all her skin and made her naked limbs quiver as Miss Fitzherbert said:
‘You’ve earned y’self a damned good thrashing, girl! Lie on the couch!’
But as she was encouraged forward by the huntswoman’s white-gloved hand and the looped tip of her riding whip, and then stretched out prone on the ancestral chaise-longue, folding her forearms beneath her face on the arm of the couch, her lower calves resting high against the other, far arm and her hips and buttocks raised by the means of a few scatter cushions underneath, Deborah wondered at the change of tone in the voice of her punisher — a kind of verbally caressive strictness. Or was it simply wishful thinking on her part? she wondered as the haughty, booted bitch remarked:
‘I’m going to cure all your bad habits in one go! You’re going to wish you’d been allowed to beg to muck out my horses, girl! I’m going to beat that pretty backside of yours until I am certain you would never dare disobey me again! The only way you’ll learn at your age is if I take my riding crop to your naked arse, and by Juno that’s just what I shall do to you — and hard, I can promise you!’
Alice Fitzherbert appeared to the fanciful, indeed frightened Deborah to be working herself up into a fine lather, but whether her justifiable anger was now tinged with other powerful emotions she was unable to say. She herself was too scared to be able to analyse — she could only feel. And as she lay stretched out passively in all her sensuous erotic glory, beauty fit for ten thousand pairs of eyes to feast upon, strange tinglings swept across her limbs and sent a shower of sparks flying down her spine.
Deborah eased herself into the most comfortable lying position, very proud of her body; feeling breathless with submissive rapture she arched her exquisite bottom slightly; her thighs gave one little wriggle of arousal, and then, too humble to look up at her persecutor, the tall and sexy minx surrendered her whole being to the mind-blowing dread and thrill of anticipation.
From her point of view, there followed the most painful and exciting moments of her young life.