Story by Jean-Philippe Aubourg from Janus 155, the second in a series of four.
Siobhan lifted her skirt and went over the Bishop’s lap. It seemed no matter how she tried she had not been able to keep out of trouble for the past year.
This time it was for staying out half an hour later than her curfew. It would only be a hand spanking, but at the age of twenty she really did not think even that was fair. At least it was not the bishop’s size ten slipper. She had received twenty strokes with that last month when she burnt the dinner because she became engrossed in some book. Her bottom had been sore for days.
She felt her knickers being rolled down her thighs to the top of her stockings and her small bottom twitched in fear. His large hand fondled both cheeks, enfolding each completely in his palm, checking they were in perfect condition for punishment he always told her. As she closed her eyes and braced herself for the first slap, Siobhan asked herself why she, a grown woman, put up with this.
SLAP! ‘Oooh!’ The answer was always the same. She had no choice. SLAP! ‘Aaah!’ If she left she would have to give up her job as Bishop Franks’ housekeeper. SLAP! ‘Owww!’ That would mean returning to her parents’ farm in disgrace. SLAP! ‘Aaaww!’ She would never find a job this good in her village, and how would she explain how she had lost her post with the bishop? SLAP! ‘Ouch!’ She could not tell people it was because he smacked her bare bottom every time she was bad. SLAP! ‘Eeaah!’ They would all think she deserved it!
The blows continued, her bottom covered twice over by the stinging spanks already. It was very painful, and it happened at least once a week, more often twice, but she did have more freedom than she would with her parents, and her own money. She had been saving, intending to get enough to move to Dublin and look for another job, one that did not involve such degrading treatment.
It was not as if she did not know what she had been letting herself in for. She had been offered the job, or rather told she would take it, one year ago, in the presbytery of her parish priest. At the time she had been naked from the waist down, having just been spanked and caned by Father Murphy. He had discovered her secret purchase of a Rolling Stones LP and threatened to inform her parents unless she gave herself up to his punishment. Siobhan had been shocked to find Bishop Franks invited to watch, as she counted off the cane strokes using her rosary beads.
Her parents were delighted she had been offered such a responsible position, even though it meant moving away. She could not possibly tell them what it involved, since that would mean her original sin of listening to the Devil’s music being exposed.
At first she helped the Bishop’s established housekeeper, a well-preserved woman in her mid-forties, but she soon decided Siobhan’s arrival was the ideal excuse for her to go and live with her widowed sister. Siobhan suspected the woman had been putting up with the Bishop’s strict discipline for some years, and could not wait to pass the task on to someone younger.
Now she grunted as the Bishop continued to spank her, admonishing her as he went. How it was important that she, as his housekeeper, maintained his standing in the community. How could he impose the discipline needed for moral purity among his diocese if he could not even do so in his own house? No, it did not matter that the reason she was late home was that her watch had stopped. He had a responsibility to her parents to keep her on the straight and narrow, and it was her responsibility to obey whatever rules he set. She knew the cost of breaking any of them was a very sore bottom.
Once she had been given that very sore bottom she was sent to her room to think further on her misdeed, and told not to come down again till it was time to cook his dinner. She spent the time lying face down on her narrow bed, rubbing her cheeks with her right hand and contemplating the face of the treacherous wristwatch that had been the cause of her suffering today.
At breakfast the next day she brought Bishop Franks his post and his porridge, before sitting gingerly at the opposite side of the table and selecting a piece of toast from the rack. She was concentrating on trying to find a position that was at least half-way comfortable and not particularly looking at him, when an exclamation between surprise and anger made her look up with a start.
‘Well, would you credit it!’ the bishop thundered. ‘Now why should I be asked to look after the blessed girl for two months!’
‘Bishop?’ For all his severity as a master, Bishop Franks rarely lost his temper, even when railing from the pulpit against the permissive society that had led young people astray throughout the nineteen-sixties, and was showing no sign of letting up as 1970 approached.
‘My niece’ he explained, waving a hand-written letter for Siobhan to see. ‘It seems my sister’s at her wits end about her behaviour, and doesn’t think she can keep her out of trouble for the whole of the summer holidays. Her solution, of course, is to send her to stay with me!’
‘Here father? How old is your niece?’ Siobhan sensed her isolation in this large lonely house could be temporarily relieved.
‘Rosemary’s eighteen’ said the Bishop, ‘just a couple of years younger than yourself.’ Siobhan could not help but smile, but that was wiped from her face a second later. ‘But you’d do well not to consider falling in with her. You’ll remember the nasty business with that Devil’s music which led you to be working here?’ Siobhan nodded, recalling vividly every moment of her humiliation, her stripping, the hand spanking and, so far, the only caning of her life. ‘Well you strayed from the path of righteousness but once, and were quickly shown the error of your ways. Rosemary,’ he went on, his face growing redder, as if he still could not believe her behaviour, ‘has been nothing but a wanton since she turned sixteen!’
‘Bishop!’ Siobhan was genuinely shocked by his language, but he was in full flow now.
‘Last summer, as a reward for passing her exams, she was sent to England, to spend the holiday with her cousin Elaine.’
‘The lawyer’s secretary in Manchester?’
‘The very same. And Rosemary had only been there five minutes, when other family members were sending the most terrible reports of her behaviour.’
‘I’m sure she couldn’t have been that bad Bishop!’
‘Not only did she listen to that Devil’s music you were once so fond of, she actually went to see one of the blessed bands in person! The Animals, I think they were called.’
‘She went to a concert?’ Siobhan could hardly contain her admiration and jealousy of the girl, but quickly brought herself back under control when she saw the Bishop’s disapproving look.
‘I believe she did Siobhan, venal sin that it is. And not only that, there were stories of drinking, smoking, indeed she even arranged to meet, unchaperoned, a boy in a public house. A protestant boy too, mind! She went to a football match with him, wanting to see that George Best.’
Siobhan was genuinely shocked. Such behaviour was unthinkable to the dark-haired naïve farm girl. ‘So she’s coming to stay here this summer?’
‘It would seem that way. I could say no, but as head of the family, and a bishop to boot, they look to me for leadership in these matters. No, I must spend this summer teaching her right from wrong. And teach her I will!’
Siobhan gulped. She knew full well how Bishop Franks would teach his naughty niece, and was already feeling sorry for the poor girl’s bottom. At the same time she realised her own backside might get a break, although a pang of guilt shot through her at this thought of benefiting from another’s suffering.
The next week was spent preparing for Rosemary’s arrival. The Bishop’s house was big enough to easily accommodate another person, and his niece was allocated a bedroom looking over the lane that led into the nearby town. It was cleaned, aired and the bed made up.
Another week passed before Rosemary arrived, a week in which Siobhan was spanked three times for the tiniest domestic slip-ups. It seemed the Bishop was making the most of the time before Rosemary arrived, and Siobhan prayed this meant he intended not to punish her once she was there.
Siobhan went with Bishop Franks to collect her from the railway station. After what she had been told about the girl, she was not surprised to find Rosemary was very pretty. Her hair was dark, not quite the pitch black of Siobhan’s own, and cut in a shoulder-length fashionable style rarely seen in that part of the world. She also wore bell-bottom jeans, brought back from Manchester the previous year she told Siobhan, along with her outrageous reputation.
The bishop lugged Rosemary’s two large cases into the boot of his car and they drove the short distance home. Siobhan tried to engage Rosemary in more conversation, but a sulkier teenager it would have been hard to find.
There was little change in the next few days. The girl made it plain she did not want to be there and resented being forced to spend her summer under the eagle eye of her uncle. And Bishop Franks certainly kept her under close supervision, not allowing her to visit the town, even during the day, unless he was with her. Of an evening he would insist all three of them sat in the living room, reading books he had personally approved of. Siobhan began to worry that Rosemary would go insane with boredom by the end of her six week stay.
However, at the start of the first week events conspired to change things. Bishop Franks was called to a remote parish to deal with a matter of some importance, a visit that would mean an overnight stay. He had no choice but to leave Rosemary in the charge of Siobhan. He warned his young housekeeper to keep a close watch on her, and not to take any nonsense. Siobhan reassured the Bishop she would do her best, while secretly wondering what she would do if Rosemary refused to co-operate.
At first the teenager presented no problems, seeming happy just to be free of her stern uncle’s all-seeing eyes. Then, while she was in the kitchen preparing their sup-per, Siobhan was shocked to hear loud music blaring through the sanctity of the bishop’s house.
And it was not just any music. The thumping blues rhythm of rock and roll blasted from Rosemary’s bedroom. Dropping the potato she was peeling, Siobhan rushed upstairs and burst through the door. The Bishop’s niece was dancing wildly, waving her arms and legs as best she could in the limited space she had, while the Rolling Stones sang Paint It Black. Siobhan looked to see where the music was coming from, and was astonished to see a small black box on the bed.
A cassette player. She had heard about these new machines, even seen pictures in advertisements, but had never seen one before. Half a dozen tapes, each in a plastic case, were piled next to it. Rosemary had her back to her, and the music was too loud for her to hear the door open. She span around as the chorus boomed about the room, and saw Siobhan watching her open-mouthed. Instead of looking guilty, she smiled. ‘Do you like the Stones?’ she asked.
Siobhan was astonished. ‘Yes… yes, I… but you shouldn’t be playing that! Not here?’
‘Why not?’ asked Rosemary, not letting up her dance for a moment. ‘I’ve not been able to groove for a whole week! Come on, let your hair down! Join me!’
Siobhan was too stunned to move, and Rosemary eventually stopped dancing and pressed the stop button on the cassette player. She took Siobhan’s hand and pulled her down to sit on the bed. ‘Do you like my cassettes?’ Rosemary asked, holding up some of the boxes. Siobhan turned them over in her fingers. Hand-written labels showed they were copies of some of the biggest names of the day, not just the Rolling Stones, but the Beatles, the Animals, and someone called Led Zeppelin, whoever they were.
‘Elaine has a proper record player,’ Rosemary explained, ‘one you can use to tape records. I taped most of her collection, and she bought me this cassette machine as a going away present last summer.’
‘But why did you bring it with you?’ Siobhan asked. ‘You must know how the bishop feels about this kind of music?’
‘Oh sure, I knew Uncle Misery Guts wouldn’t let me listen to them.’ Siobhan was stunned by the disrespect Rosemary showed to a senior churchman, one she was related to as well. ‘But I just couldn’t face a whole summer without any music. I only had to wait till he was out of the way. You’re young. How does a girl of your age stand it all the time?’
‘You get used to it’ Siobhan answered, although the question stirred long-forgotten hopes of freedom in her breast.
‘Well let’s make the most of it, before he comes back and brings the nineteenth century with him.’ Rosemary clicked the cassette machine back on, and the Stones echoed around the bedroom once again.
The girls spent the next two hours listening to the best of Rosemary’s collection. Siobhan adored hearing her beloved Mick and Keith once again, and found she very much liked the Animals too. Rosemary also played her a Beatles album, about someone called Sergeant Pepper, although she found it a bit hard to understand. She was shocked when Rosemary told her it was rumoured the world’s most famous band had been on drugs when they recorded it!
She was equally shocked when Rosemary pulled a packet of cigarettes from her luggage. Siobhan begged her not to smoke in the room, as the bishop would smell it for sure, so the rebellious teenager went to the open window and leaned out.
Siobhan stayed in the room, making the most of the illicit music. So it was only Rosemary who saw the figure in the lane, looking up at the Bishop’s house, listening intently to the music that drifted from the window. Rosemary made eye contact with the old woman, recognising the church organist just before she moved down the lane.
All went back to normal when the Bishop returned the next day. He was not in the best of tempers, the situation he had been called to deal with not having been settled entirely to his satisfaction, but Siobhan did not think he was any more grumpy than usual. Rosemary was also back to the subdued side of her personality, and the young housekeeper assumed the events of the previous night had been nothing more than a light diversion. A rude shock awaited her.
The following morning Bishop Franks waited until he had finished his breakfast. He placed his knife and fork together to form a perfect radius for the circle of his plate. He steepled his fingers and looked at both the girls. Rosemary, who had been a few minutes late for the meal, seemed to know something was up, but Siobhan was taken totally by surprise. ‘Now then,’ he announced, ‘I have been given some very distressing news.’ Siobhan put down the toast she was crunching on, expecting it to be a grave development in the diocese. ‘I have it on very good authority’ he went on, ‘very good authority, mind, that while I was away my hospitality was abused and my rules flouted in the most flagrant way.’
Siobhan’s stomach flipped a somersault. How could he possibly know? Rosemary would not have said anything, and she certainly had not! ‘I will ask this question only once girls, and I expect an answer — was there smoking and the playing of that obscene ungodly music in my house while I was away?’
Siobhan gulped, not knowing what to say. She looked up at Rosemary for inspiration, and was stunned to see her mouth open as she looked up at her uncle.
‘Please Uncle,’ she stuttered, her voice that of a little girl, ‘I didn’t want to, but Siobhan said it didn’t matter if you weren’t here, and when she offered to bring her new cassette player and tapes to my room I didn’t think it would do any harm. When I saw what kind of tapes they were I asked her to take them away, but she told me not to be such a square. I don’t even know what she meant by that!’
Siobhan was speechless. Her cassette player? Her tapes? Had Rosemary lost her mind? But the girl was in full flow. ‘And when she pulled out the cigarettes I begged her not to light one, but she did it anyway!’
‘I see’ said the Bishop. ‘So you were led astray, were you?’
‘And what have you to say for yourself Siobhan?’
She finally found her voice. ‘It wasn’t like that! I don’t have a cassette player! I don’t have any tapes! And I don’t have any cigarettes — I don’t smoke!’
Are you saying Rosemary is lying?’
‘Yes! All those things belong to her! She started playing the music! I told her to stop!’ Rosemary did not reply. She simply burst into tears, as if the pain of being accused of such things was too much for her to bear.
‘So it’s in her room that I’ll find the cassette player and tapes, is it?’ the bishop asked, apparently unmoved by his niece’s display of emotion.
‘Yes!’ Siobhan saw it was the obvious way to prove she was telling the truth. ‘They must be in her room!’
‘Then let us go and see!’ Bishop Franks rose and led the way upstairs. The girls followed, Rosemary still sniffing and blowing her nose on her hanky. They went into her room and the bishop began opening drawers, cupboards and the wardrobe. Siobhan expected the cassette player to be found almost straight away, and was surprised when it did not. When the bishop reached under the bed and pulled out Rosemary’s suitcases, then she was certain it would appear. It did not. Nothing was found and the room had been almost completely turned upside down. ‘I think we should take a look in your room now, don’t you Siobhan?’
‘B-Bishop?’ She was getting frightened now. What on earth had Rosemary done with the machine and tapes? They followed the clergyman to her room and again he began his meticulous search. Siobhan blushed as he lifted her underwear out of the drawers, even though he had seen virtually every piece of it, prior to its pulling down for a spanking or slippering. Then he opened her wardrobe and pulled back the row of dresses and coats. A cry of triumph escaped his lips.
The girls looked up to see Bishop Franks lift into the open the cassette player, the collection of tapes, a half-full packet of cigarettes and a box of matches. ‘Would you mind explaining these?’ he asked the dumfounded housekeeper.
‘I — I have no idea Bishop!’ Siobhan spluttered. Then her brain caught up and she realised exactly what had happened. ‘It’s her!’ she exclaimed, pointing at Rosemary, ‘she must have put them there!’
‘Uncle, no! I’d never do such a thing!’ shouted Rosemary, before bursting into theatrical tears once more. They seemed convincing enough to her uncle, who stared at Siobhan with a face of fury.
‘So, not only do you smuggle these tools of the devil into my home, specifically against my direct instructions — no, I do not wish to know where you got this infernal device — but when you are caught, as you surely would have been, you try to put the blame on my innocent niece! Siobhan, there is only one way I can deal with you. To the living room with you, while I fetch the cane!’
‘No! Bishop, no!’ wailed the wretched girl, but in her heart she knew there was no hope. With a final look of malice towards the real guilty girl, she turned and walked downstairs, gripping the banister tightly, as she felt her legs would surely buckle under her at any moment.
She was wiping tears from her eyes as she reached the living room, and knew she only had a few minutes to compose herself before her ordeal began, and she tried her best to do so. Nevertheless she was crying freely by the time the bishop walked in, the dreaded cane in his right hand and a very smug Rosemary a few paces behind him. ‘Too late for tears, you wicked child!’ he thundered, ‘remove your skirt!’
‘Oh! No! Not in front of her, Bishop! Please, send her away!’
‘And have her miss such a valuable lesson? To see what happens to those who leave the path of righteousness, to dance to the Devil’s tunes? No, my niece will remain and witness your punishment in case she is ever tempted again. Now remove that skirt this minute!’
The Bishop’s personality was too powerful to brook any argument. With tears now streaming down her pale cheeks, Siobhan unbuttoned her woollen skirt and let it fall to the floor. Her slim cheeks bunched as she bent to pick it up, a reminder of the agony to come. She folded the skirt and placed it on an armchair, then crossed her hands across her crotch in a vain attempt to hide her large white panties. Her sight was blurred by tears, but she saw Rosemary smirking behind the bishop’s back clearly enough. In that moment she vowed revenge.
Bishop Franks produced a rosary from his pocket. ‘When last I had cause to cane you, along with your parish priest, how many strokes did you receive from myself and Father Murphy?’
‘Oh! Ten Bishop, five from each of you!’ The memory of that horrific caning would be with her for the rest of her life. She had a feeling this one would too.
‘And still you didn’t learn your lesson. Very well, this time it will be twenty, counted off on the blessed rosary once again.’ He handed her the beads, which she took in trembling fingers. ‘Knickers off, young lady.’
For a second she was going to protest again, but there seemed little point. Still clutching the rosary, Siobhan slid the smooth cotton pants down her skinny legs and stepped out of them, putting them on top of her discarded skirt. The bishop had placed a wooden chair in the centre of the room, and indicated he wanted her bent over its back. Siobhan complied, taking the rosary in the fingers of both hands, anxiously feeling the first bead in a row of five. A lone tear landed on the chair seat.
She closed her eyes and sobbed as the cane tapped her bottom. The bishop did not even bother to ask if she was ready. The cane disappeared and she held her breath. She heard the whistle as it flew through the air a second before she felt the impact. She had forgotten quite how painful it had been. ‘Aaaaaaaaaahhh! Oh! One, Bishop!’ she shrieked. She was allowed a few seconds to compose herself and pass the first bead through her fingers. The second stroke slashed down without mercy. ‘Ooooowwwww! Two, Bishop!’
As the pain burned into her, Siobhan heard Bishop Franks talking to his niece. ‘You see what happens when you’re led astray Rosemary?’
‘Eeeeaaahhhh! Three, Bishop!’
‘Will you ever listen to that Hellish music again?’
‘Ouuuchhhhh! Ah! Four, Bishop!’
‘Or smoke? Will you ever smoke, like this wicked girl has done?’
‘Oh, no Uncle!’
‘Eaaaahhhh! Five, Bishop!’
It was not just the pain of the caning that upset Siobhan, painful as that was. The injustice drilled right into her soul. It should be Rosemary here instead of her, bent over with her bottom bared. She should be the one taking this punishment, not her!
‘Oooohhhhh! Six, Bishop!’
The caning was relentless. By the time she had reached the full twenty, Siobhan’s fingers were white, so hard was she gripping the rosary. Finally the last stroke was given and she breathed a sigh of relief. She flinched and gasped as the Bishop’s hand pressed into her abused bottom. ‘Here Rosemary,’ he said, ‘come and feel the result of sinfulness.’
Siobhan’s anger nearly boiled over as she felt the girl’s soft fingers slowly trace the outlines left by the cruel strokes, deliberately torturing her further, causing as much fresh pain as she could. Siobhan wondered how she could ever get her own back for such a dreadful deceit. To begin with her mind was blank, but as Rosemary rubbed a particularly painful tramline she was suddenly inspired. A simple village girl she may be, but this cruel arrogant bishop’s niece would learn the price of her treachery.
The two barely spoke for the next three weeks. This suited the Bishop — peace, of a sort, had been restored in his house, and it seemed Siobhan’s caning had put Rosemary on her toes. It was Tuesday morning, and breakfast was nearly finished. Rosemary was planning to take a bus to the nearby town, to investigate ‘what passes for shopping down here’, as she bluntly put it. As she put her knife and fork together on her plate, Siobhan quickly got up. ‘Let me get your bag for you,’ she said. Rosemary shot her a suspicious glance, but Bishop Franks did not seem to notice the friendly gesture.
Siobhan went into the hallway, returned with Rosemary’s big leather satchel and handed it to her. ‘Thanks,’ said Rosemary, swinging the bag onto her shoulder. Something flew from the side pocket and landed on the table, right in front of the bishop.
All three stared. Rosemary wore a puzzled, then horrified expression. The Bishop went from surprise, to shock, to incandescent rage in a few seconds. Siobhan’s pretty face was a picture of bemusement and wonder, even throwing a gasp of outrage in for good measure. Two of them were genuine emotions, the other a brilliant and well-practiced act.
The Bishop’s thumb and forefinger grasped the foil-wrapped condom and held it up, as if it were the most disgusting object in the world. ‘Rosemary!’ he boomed.
‘I… I… I don’t…?’ gasped his stunned niece. ‘It’s not mine!’
‘Then what was it doing in your bag?’
‘It wasn’t! I mean… I don’t know! I didn’t put it there!’ she gasped. Then the penny dropped. ‘It must have been her!’ she yelled, pointing at Siobhan.
‘Bishop!’ the housekeeper shouted in reply. ‘No! What a wicked thing to say! How on earth would I get one of those filthy and unholy things here! They’re banned, and quite rightly. Does she think I went all the way to England to buy one?’
‘Or maybe it came back with someone from Manchester?’ said the bishop ominously.
‘But Uncle, I didn’t…’ Rosemary bleated.
The bishop cut her off before she had even started. ‘You flaunt the Church’s teaching, in the worst possible way, defile your body, break the law of our Catholic land and to cap it all, you bring one of the devilish contraptions into my home!’ Rosemary looked utterly defeated. ‘Siobhan, please fetch me the cane. You know well enough where it is.’
‘Yes Bishop’ said the dark-haired beauty, fighting the urge to skip to the Bishop’s study. When she returned, carrying the fearful rod with new respect, Rosemary was in floods of tears, as she pushed her tight jeans over her bottom. The bishop’s face was unrelenting, ordering her over the dining room chair. She went, a howl of protest escaping her lips as her knickers were hauled to her knees.
The Bishop took the cane from Siobhan and shoved a rosary into Rosemary’s trembling fingers. ‘How many beads are there on the blessed rosary?’ he asked. The girl had lost her voice completely and could not answer. He turned from one to the other girl. ‘Siobhan?’
‘Fifty-nine, Bishop’ she said calmly, wondering how many of them would be counted off on Rosemary’s pale bottom.
‘And is sex outside the sanctity of marriage, and without leaving the choice of conception to our Lord God, not the worst venal sin a good Catholic girl can commit?’
‘Oh yes Bishop!’ Siobhan agreed.
‘Then I think only a full rosary will make amends.’
‘No!’ screamed Rosemary, as she tried to get up, only to be pushed back into position by Bishop Frank’s strong left hand. He tapped his niece’s bottom to take aim, and then raised the cane. It swished down hard, cutting a welt so hard into Rosemary’s plump cheeks that even Siobhan winced at the thought of the pain. The victim’s cry of anguish was heart-breaking, but the Bishop would take no pity on her. He had to save her soul.
As stroke after stroke cracked home, and Rosemary’s pleas for mercy became unintelligible sobs, Siobhan reflected on how simple it had all been. Getting Elaine’s address in Manchester from the bishop’s desk diary had taken a matter of seconds while cleaning the study. It seems Rosemary had been a thorough pest during her stay with her cousin, who had been blamed by the rest of the family for not keeping her on the straight and narrow, a point made very clear by her own father’s strap on her last visit home. Elaine had been only too happy to purchase and provide by return of post the incriminating evidence that Siobhan had planted in Rosemary’s bag, primed to fall out when she swung it onto her shoulder with her characteristic arrogance.
‘Ten!’ called the Bishop, as the cane reduced his niece to a gibbering wreck.‘Be brave, Rosemary,’ Siobhan said, sounding genuinely sympathetic. ‘Only forty-nine to go. Then you’ll be saved.’ Siobhan was looking forward to the rest of the summer.