Views: 415 Created: 2017.03.24 Updated: 2017.03.24

Arabella and the rod by stephen rawlings

CHAPTER 2 - THROWING DOWN THE GAUNTLET

Inside, the wash house comprised one large room. Across one end was a long trough, through which water diverted from the river flowed, while down one side was a row of 'coppers' where water could be boiled for washing, but no-one was using them today. The trestle tables, on which the clothes were usually laid, had been put aside, all but one behind which sat two women who were collecting the shillings for the pool and marking down the entries, watched by some thirty or so spectators, who looked over the half-dozen competitors, as they stood in their stays and shifts to one side, talking among themselves. Although the preliminaries were not yet complete, the watchers were already discussing form and bets were being made.

A lumpy young woman with mousy hair tucked under a linen cap, came forward to ironic cheers and laid her shilling on the table, then removed her dress and petticoat until she too had only a tight-laced bodice over a thigh length shift.

"Number seven, Dolly," called out the 'Clerk of the Course'." Just one more and we can start fair without anyone getting a free ride to the next round. Where's that Lizzie Prior? I thought this was her year to join the big girls?"

"Lizzie won't be coming," called out a voice from the crowd, "her monthlies come on early, and she got terrible pains in her belly. She says she's not looking to add pains in her arse as well, and she's taken to her bed."

"Come on then, you wenches. Who's going to make it eight?"

"I will." No-one had noticed Arabella as she stood quietly just inside the door, so absorbed were they in their speculations as to how much punishment each of the barely concealed buttocks in front of them could take, but all heads turned to watch her, in dumbstruck silence, as she walked to the front, their ranks parting instantly to let her pass. She laid a shilling on the table and shrugged off her jacket.

The 'Clerk' found her voice. "Oh, My Lady, you don't know what you're doing. This is no place for the likes of you."

"I know just what I'm doing, believe me." Arabella replied firmly, and proceeded calmly to remove her blouse, riding skirt and petticoats, laying them all neatly in a pile as each of her predecessors had. "I'm going to put my bottom on the line," she continued," just like every other woman here who's going to try her luck. As to being a proper place for the likes of me, as you put it, why, it seems to me that we're all much the same when we're stripped to a shift and a bare bum." There was a murmur of approval from the crowd, but the woman at the table still looked doubtful.

"I fear it may not be a fair fight. Many of these lasses will be afeared to lay into a Lady's bum. They've all been brought up to show proper respect to the Gentry."

"I'll tell you what," said Arabella, "to show I mean it, and encourage them not to hold back, I'll put up a purse for the winner." and she counted out ten gold coins onto the table. "There now, ten golden guineas for the winner. Do you think that will get them to tan my arse?"

The crowd gasped, most of them had never seen so much money in one piece, and one of the competitors called out "For that I'd give the Queen herself a bloody bum." The laughter that followed released the tension that had been building.

"Well then, my Lady, since they seems willing to roast your rump proper like, I'd better put you down. What name should I write?"

Arabella hesitated. She was not known here, but it was amazing how gossip travelled from one end of the county to the other in the winking of an eye.

"I came through the Greenwood seeking adventure so you can call me Maid Marion." (Though not so much of the Maid, she thought to herself.)

"Why then Milady, I mean Marion, that completes the tally and we can begin." She produced a linen bag, from which her partner at the table proceeded to draw numbered discs.

Each number as it was drawn was greeted with cheers, catcalls, and comments on the owner's anatomy and prowess. Their festive mood had been restored by the little heap of gold alongside the pile of shillings. Arabella managed to maintain an air of detachment suitable for a woman of her class and status, but her stomach gave a little lurch when, after three pairings had been drawn, the 'clerk' called out." Number eight, Maid Marion. Who's the lucky wench that gets to thrash a Lady's bottom? Number six, Jenny Pole, you gets the honour."

The crowd responded with loud advice. "Show her what a country woman can take, Jenny."

"And give out. You make sure she feels it. No holding off just because she's quality."

"Quality of arses and strong right arms is all that counts round here. You show her, Jenny."

The 'clerk' called for order, and the spectators drew back against the walls, leaving a clear space in the middle. One of the trestles was brought out and a bundle of peeled ash rods. The latter were nearly three feet long, about the thickness of a woman's finger, and their smooth silver menace promised both weight and whippiness.

The trestle had extensions nailed to two legs, raising one end several inches above the other, and this elevation was enhanced by a long strip of thick cloth, which was wound round the projecting end of the

cross-bar to form a tight round pad.

The first contestants were called and stood by the trestle, where they tossed a coin to see who would go first. The 'clerk' addressed them again.

"You know the rules. Three for the first, then next one must match those three and take another three of her own. Anyone doesn't come to the trestle when called is out, as they are if they get up before three. Get up after three and the other only has to make up the difference to win. Choose a rod, Meg, then you get over the horse, Bessy, for your first three."

Meg, a wiry redhead, whose shift, nonetheless, seemed to be covering a nicely fleshed buttock, took up several of the rods in turn, testing their whip by flexing them between her hands, and giving them

experimental slashes through the air, no doubt to inspire suitable respect in her intended victim. Arabella recalled the Iron Duke's words at Waterloo, twenty years before, and thought. "I don't know if they frighten Bessy, but they damn well frighten me."

Satisfied with her selection, Meg returned to the trestle and tapped it with the whippy rod.

"Come now, Bessy, let's see you properly mounted."

The buxom blonde lifted her shift in front and stood to the end of the trestle with her feet a little apart and the cloth pad pressed firmly against her pubic mound, then bent forward to lay her torso along the cross-bar which parted the generous swellings in her bodice. Since the bar sloped down towards the head, this had the effect of cambering up her hips and causing her to rise a little on her toes.

Meg poked the voluptuous curves, still covered by the shift. "Bare it, Bessy, and let's all see where you're going to get it."

Obediently Bessy reached behind and pulled the shift up onto her bent back, where her forward leaning posture ensured it remained as she brought her hands forward again to grip the front legs near the ground. She revealed a generous pair of buttocks, plump and very white, with a full overhang where they met the equally plump thighs.

"Set your feet wider than that. I want your fat hams well spread, Mistress, so's the rod can work on them." And she flicked her rod between the white thighs to emphasise her demand.

Once more Bessy responded obediently, though the further separation of her feet meant her toes barely touched the ground. One of her fellow competitors said quietly to Arabella

"It's just that bit more strain like, perched on your cunt like that, and ye toes just touching the floor. Meg's trying to get her unsettled before she gets started."

"Can she do that then?"

"Oh, Yes. The whipper can set the position within reason and you has to do as she says."

Meg appeared satisfied, and, standing to one side, measured her aim by laying the ashplant across the swollen white buttock, just a little below centre. She took two measured steps away from her target and then, with a lunging left-right, leapt forward to lash the rod with a noise like ripping cloth squarely into her target.

"One." called out the 'Clerk's assistant, who appeared to be time-keeper and scorer. Arabella felt her stomach contract beneath the low-cut corset.

Bessy let out her breath in a loud grunt as her thighs twitched, and then sucked it in again as the after pain flowed in. Meg stood and watched the red welt rise and darken, as did they all, and bided her time until she judged the agony had reached its peak. Then she took her two-step run-in, again, to deliver another, if anything harder, blow to the broad white buttock.

"Two."

Again, Bessy grunted, and followed it with a drawn out yaaahh to relieve her pained feelings. A second red stripe appeared marginally below the first, and it too had time to deepen as Meg let her work soak in to its best advantage. When she was satisfied that the blonde writhing on the trestle had extracted the maximum benefit from the searing cut into her soft white flesh, she repeated her tigerish spring to provide her with more food for thought, or at any rate, something to be digested.

"Three."

Once more Bessy soaked up the stroke, her grunt more pronounced and with a more vigorous flexure of her knees. However, she didn't seem in the least distressed.

"Change ends." called the timekeeper, and Bessy rose a little stiffly from her perch, her hands going behind to rub her reddened fesses. Meg handed her the ash rod and took her place on the trestle. Although her general appearance was wiry rather than rounded, when she reached behind as ordered to draw up her shift over her hips, she revealed a very neat well-fleshed seat. In her turn, she was made to widen her legs, until her toes just touched the ground, and her weight was borne by her pubis pressing on the padded end of the trestle between her widely-parted thighs.

"Pay off her three, and then put up three of your own." said the scorer.

Bessy didn't bother with a run. Perhaps her physique precluded it, or perhaps she felt that the weight of her arm alone would do the trick. In any case, she stood squarely onto her mark, then twisted her body back before unwinding to put all her considerable weight behind the rod. "One."

In keeping with her wiry body, Meg seemed to be made of stiffer stuff than her rival. Where Bessy had puffed and blown and writhed

uninhibitedly, Meg held herself rigid, and let only the smallest sound past her tight lips as each stroke sank in. Although she had less meat to absorb the shock, and her firm rounds must have suffered more severe bruising than Bessy's plump pillows, this was partially compensated for by a certain wildness in the latter's aim.

As the contest progressed, Arabella could see that, whereas Meg was developing an intense narrow tumescence just below the centre of Bessy's now reddened rump, her own neat buttock was striped irregularly over most of its perimeter. Moreover, the heavier concentration on Bessy's buttock meant that the skin on the right, where the tip fell hardest, was broken in several places, and well on the way to becoming an open wound. She shuddered to think what it would feel like to receive that whippy rod on such a place. She noticed that several of Bessy's strokes had gone very wild indeed, where she had sacrificed accuracy in an attempt to inflict the maximum pain on her opponent, and some were almost on the thigh. She asked her chatty neighbour if there were any limit on the target.

"Oh yes. You're not supposed to hit below the crease. If you do, your opponent, or the two over there at the table, can call 'thighs'. Then there's a show of hands and, if thighs is given, the whipper has to take one on her own thighs, so it doesn't pay to go too close to the crease too often, unless you're very good. And don't try claiming a low stroke, unless you're very sure, because if you lose the vote, you have to take one extra."

By now the contestants were on the fourth round, and as Bessy received her twenty-fourth cut on her cringing buttocks, their tallies were equal. But the uneven wear was beginning to tell, and the blonde was now in some considerable distress, with her head rolling, her hips writhing, and a steady thin trickle of blood running down her right flank. To a series of desperate cries she took the remaining three, to make Meg come again, and rose very unsteadily to her feet, clutching her injured behind.

Meg laid the rod on the table and took up her position, but it was some moments before Bessy could tear herself away from nursing her anguished hams and take it up. She lashed out wildly in a desperate bid to finish it off, but in her haste struck the third blow low on the thighs. Immediately a cry of "thighs" went up. The 'clerk' called for a show of hands and there was no doubt of the verdict. Very reluctantly, she offered her buttocks again, and Meg very calmly laid her stroke exactly on the centre of the horrendous bruise that adorned the soft fattiness. The tip cut in excruciatingly, restarting the red rivulet as Bessy screamed in agony. Watching, Arabella wondered if she would get so far, and what her own buttocks might look like if she did. She suppressed a shudder and gave her attention to the contest before her.

The end was not long coming. Meg took three more stoically, although by now exhibiting both vocal and visual signs of distress, and yielded her place to Bessy. The blonde woman was noticeably reluctant to come forward, and had to be warned by the 'clerk'. She forced herself to press her pubis to the pad and reach for the front legs, but then, when she felt the rod touch the grisly wound again, as Meg measured her mark, she leapt up crying

"Dear God! I cannot take another." Nevertheless, the crowd thought she had done well and there were cheers for both contestants.

Next to go were Peggy, whom Arabella had heard talking outside, and a woman a year or so older. They seemed well matched in physique and courage. The contest proceeded with no untoward incidents through four steady rounds, each woman giving as good as she got, their breath now a bit rasping on both sides, both buttocks well laced with the thick purple welts the ash rod raised. Though each tried bravely to keep down their cries, they were neither able to suppress a strangled scream at each new cut into their now very tender buttocks, but on the other hand, neither seemed more likely than the other to give in. As Peg laid herself stiffly on the trestle to start the fifth round, her opponent called out to her.

"Not like that, girl. Back a piece, and let's have the pad under your belly." For some reason Peg, who had shown such courage up until now, seemed very frightened by this new development, and when she was ordered to put her feet right forward either side of the trestle, began to whimper and sob.

Arabella turned to one of the spectators nearest to her.

"Why is she so upset? What's so special about this position?"

"Ah, she's good reason to fear," replied the woman, "Pru's going to try a cunt stroke."

"A cunt stroke! Ye Gods! What's that?"

"Why, when a girl's thighs are a bit slim like, and set wide apart, so's you can see daylight between, and you puts her in position like Peg's in now, her cunt pushes back, and if you lays the rod on a mite short, you can get the tip to whip in between and catch her on the cunt."

"It must hurt atrociously." said Arabella, wincing at the thought of how much.

"It do. It do." affirmed the woman feelingly. "I stood to the trestle with Pru last year, and I thought I had only to hang on a few strokes more and I'd have her, but that Pru opened me up, just like you see Peg now. I'm a bit wide there myself and she got right inside. Just like a red-hot iron laid on me cunt and more than I could take. I let her have the match. Mind you, it's risky. You have to cut from underneath and, if you're even a trifle out, you may not get the tip in and, either way, you would catch the thighs and get one on your own. Besides it only works on girls with lots of daylight, and a nice plump purse."

Arabella thought painfully of her own wide 'daylight' and plump purse. Not only was it plump, but it was also set very low and, were she posed as Peg was now, she'd offer a tempting target. She began to be aware of the probability that she might experience the equivalent of a red-hot iron laid on her unprotected vulva before the day was out, and, as she speculated on what that might feel like, she felt her over tense cunt twitch.

Pru was satisfied now with her positioning of Peg's vulnerable centre, but left the girl a moment longer, whimpering with fear, as the tension in the room built. She laid the tip of the rod on the twitching vulva to mark her spot, and took a careful step backwards. The watchers held their breath as she paused and them took a step forward, dropping her shoulder as she came, and swept the long ash rod up and under Peg's out-thrust fork. A perfect stroke. The tip just grazed the inside of the right cheek, and dug fiercely into the pouting purse.

Peg shrieked at this outrage to her person and jacked her legs back, clenching her thighs together as if to squeeze out the agony, but clung grimly to the trestle legs.

Several onlookers craned their necks to see if the thigh had been violated, but it was pronounced a clean cunt stroke.

"Open up or give up." ordered Pru. With great reluctance Peg complied, getting her legs forward, and opening her most sensitive, and now screaming, parts to the rod. Again, Pru measured her and then drove in another classic cunt cutter and Peg's shrieks were prolonged and repeated as her legs came back again, only subsiding to racking sobs as the cut was pronounced good. She was very reluctant to obey the command to open up again. She delayed for several seconds, and the order had to be repeated. With much hesitation, she swung first one leg, and then the other, out and round until they were forward, and underneath her, and her wounded cunt was once more vulnerable, but when she felt the tip of the rod measuring her for another cruel cut, she whipped her legs back behind her to close the breach, and pushed herself up from the trestle crying

"No more for God's sake. I've had enough."

There was much applause for both contestants.

The third pair were ill-matched. The lumpy Dolly and a frightened looking youngster. Arabella thought her no more than fifteen years of age. Shivering, the child bent for the first round. The first stroke caused her to shriek aloud, equally from shock as from pain, as she did again for each of the others, for the bovine Dolly did not spare her. "Surely she is not yet woman enough to be subjected to such treatment?" asked Arabella of her neighbour.

"Indeed not. The child is only just fifteen, but she has two elder sisters who have each stood to the trestle and have no love for the girl, and they have forced her to put herself down this year, rather than when she is eighteen or twenty. There's many here don't approve," she added darkly," and there's talk of taking a stick round to the sisters this evening. I don't doubt that, when the women have had a little ale in them, they'll make sure the sisters regret being so harsh to the little one."

The youngster took her turn with the rod, and what she lacked in weight she made up in accuracy, and Dolly puffed and blew as her six were laid one on top of another, but the girl's fear was debilitating, and she was sobbing as she went back over the trestle. Again she shrieked at each stroke, and at the third, leapt up, shouting

"No more. No more." and ran outside, clad only in her bodice and shift.

The realisation dawned on Arabella that her time had come to taste the rod, and she braced herself to step forward calmly and showing no fear, but the previous bout was not yet concluded, apparently, for the 'clerk' left her seat and directed Dolly to the trestle.

"Seven to make up. Over you go, Doll." she instructed.

"What's happening?" Arabella asked her neighbourly fount of information.

"It wouldn't be fair for anyone to go to the next round with so few stripes against women who've had their backsides well laced, so she has to have them made up to a dozen, or rather, tradition has it, a

butcher's dozen, that is thirteen. Sometimes there isn't a proper number, like eight or sixteen, to start with, and some women get by into the next round, and they have to take thirteen as well. It can be hard going as you gets them all in one go, not in sixes, with a break." Doll went over the trestle and the 'clerk' laid on the required dose, drawing grunts of pain with each stroke.

And now the match was indeed done and nothing stood between Arabella's bared buttocks and their appointment with that vicious rod.