August 5, 1896
“Will there be anything else, Mr. Birchwood?” I asked.
We were working in his classroom. I had just finished a lengthy task of copying sheet music. Charles would hear nothing about a using carbon paper to speed up the task and I had wasted at least two sheets for every good one. Still the task was done, my hand was cramped and sore and my eyes were seeing doubles or blurry singles, depending on how hard I tried to focus.
Charles was ignoring me, his usual way of conveying he was too busy to engage in small chatter. I waited patiently in my desk for him to finish checking my work, hoping he would deign to allow me to go home when he was finished. I quietly shook my hand in an effort to regain a sense of normal feeling within it.
“Will you please stop, that. It is distracting.” Charles said, without looking up.
“Sorry, sir.” I replied.
I tried massaging it instead and kept it in place on the desktop so I did not return to shaking it without realizing what I was doing. You would think I would have more conscious control over such mannerism given the strictness of teachers at Primrose, but it was a habit, I had yet to break. Doing things without thinking, that is.
The minutes ticked by and I literally listened to them as the room was silent other than the tick of the clock on Charles’ desk. Finally, he looked up at me. His expression was somewhat less than the appreciative one I had hoped for. Certainly he realized the task he had set before me was not only difficult in terms of mental discipline, but physically taxing as well?
“Miss Bowen, this sheet has five mistakes alone. Do you see this stack?” He held up a grouping of at least ten, “All of these have to be redone. Your work today has been pitiful.”
“I’m sorry, sir. I will fix them straight away.” I said.
Inwardly I was sighing. I wanted to do just about anything rather than copy the music arrangement another ten, plus times. I had at least the presence of mind to keep the thoughts and sighs of frustration to myself. Charles, however, could see them in my expression or perhaps in my eyes. Either way, he somehow reads me like an open book.
“They cannot be fixed as you well know. They have to be redone from the beginning. At your current rate of progress, I will run out of paper before you can complete these correctly.” He said.
“I will be more cautious. I promise, not another mistake today.” I said.
“I will finish these myself. I have no more patience for you today. You can remove your dress and bend over that desk.”
“Please, I promise I will get it right this time.” I pleaded.
“Too late for that. Stop arguing and do as your told.”
Grudgingly, I pushed myself up from the desk and began working on the buttons which fastened my dress. I turned my back to Charles, not because I cared if he saw me, but because I truly felt ashamed and could not bear to face him. Especially, as he started straight away to do the work I was supposed to have done.
My dress fell free to the floor and I picked it up to lay it carefully over another desk. Without delay I moved around to the front of my desk and bent over it so my chest laid against the cool top. I closed my eyes and waited.
“You can remove those clumsy under things as well.” Charles said.
I fought back another sigh, as well as the comment on the tip of my tongue. It would not due to question his motivations or methods right at that moment. It took me a couple of minutes, but my under garments joined my dress. As I was about to bend back over the desk again, Charles spoke.
“My ink well has gone dry. Go and see if Mr. Bard has an extra one I can borrow until tomorrow.”
I met his gaze as he spoke and it was clear to me, he found my predicament amusing. No doubt he gained some pleasure from sending me out in state which left no doubt that I was being punished. I blushed despite a twinge of anger at him.
Mr. Bard did indeed have a spare ink well. He made me wait several minutes for it though as he claimed he was busy and could not stop immediately. Charles was smirking when I returned. If I did not know better I would have said Charles had arranged everything.
I bent back over the desk then and waited. I could hear the scratching sound of Charles’ pen on the paper and of course the ticking of his clock. The sounds were methodical enough they were actually making me sleepy. Resting my cheek on the desktop was not helping either.
At last Charles finished the work and moved on to me. He laid a small leather strap down on the desk next to my face so I could see it.
“I have yet to use this, but I understand it is quite effective in getting a point across. Shall we see?” He said.
I decided the question was rhetorical and smartly said nothing.
A moment later the strap slapped down against my naked buttocks. The sound was deceivingly soft but the sting was nearly enough to stand me up straight. There was no danger of nodding off anymore.
Charles methodically worked the strap from the middle of my bottom down toward my thighs. The first one that cracked into my thighs sent me jumping up and down in a circle and grabbing at my bottom.
“No more, please!” I cried, unashamedly.
“Get back over.” Charles said with his infuriating calmness.
After another minute of jumping up and down, I finally obeyed.
It took six more before I was up again. This time I was crying as well as leaping up and down and grabbing my bottom. Charles was not amused.
“Please!” I cried.
Charles grabbed my left arm and pulled it out in front of me. He forced my palm up and then before I realized what was happening he slapped the strap down on my palm. He let go of my arm and allowed me to swing it wildly trying to get the sting out.
“Now get back over.” He ordered.
Sobbing, I did so. I decided to hold onto the desk from then on. It was probably not a good idea to jump again, I decided considering my hand felt like I had just burned it on a hot pot.
Charles worked his way up and down my backside four times before he finally stopped. I was certain my backside was on fire and all I wanted to do was douse the flames in some cold water. Unfortunately nothing of the sort was available. Charles laid his hand against my hot skin and it felt cold. I shivered.
He slapped my bottom lightly, but it hurt as though he had used the strap again.
Carefully, I pushed myself up from the desk and turned to face him. My lower lip wobbled as fresh tears spilled down my blushing cheeks. I kept my hands at my sides despite every instinct telling me to grab my bottom.
“Hopefully we will not have to do that again. Make no mistake though, I will not tolerate sloppy work from you either as my assistant or my student. Understood?”
“Yes, sir. Sorry, sir.”
“Good. Get yourself dressed then. It is time to go home. Caroline has invited you for dinner if you are interested.”
“Thank you, that would be nice.” I said.
I rubbed my backside as I gathered my things to put back on. My fingers seemed to be able to feel the marks that were throbbing. I strained to look around behind me to see my own bottom. Charles laughed at me.
“Yes, you have some nice marks there and I’m sure you’ll be feeling them every time you sit down for the next couple of days.” He said.
“Maybe I should skip dinner.” I said, thinking I might prefer to lie face down on my bed rather than eat.
“Don’t be silly. You can stand through dinner. If it was not the end of the day here, you would be showing off your sore backside for a few hours anyway. Seems only fair you can do it during dinner.”
I groaned as I realized he was not joking. As soon as we were inside his home, I was stripped naked again. Charles made me explain why I was punished to Caroline. She found it amusing and appropriate. Needless to say I simply found it embarrassing.
Dinner smelled and looked good. Unfortunately that was as close as I got to it. Caroline suggested, and Charles approved, that I stand in the corner during dinner. Afterward, I did the dishes before Caroline had some pity on me and rubbed a generous amount of lotion into my tortured buttocks.