These Lands Beyond (Part 6 of 8)

11Oct12

bare and bendOur story started here.

Candida wanted to flee, but there was nowhere to run. In fact to even to attempt it would make her father look bad in front of two elders. No, she had made a choice now she must live with it. With a sigh her skirt was folded on a chair next to Mrs Barrow and her panties were about to join them.

Meanwhile Elder Sedge had retrieved a cane from inside the house at Tom Bailey’s request and now he held it uncomfortably in his hands.

“She should have the same punishment as these other girls,” Mrs Almond protested.

Tom threw her a look of disdain that was as close to a glare as he could manage without being impolite.

“I was thinking the same…” Elder Greengage began.

“The cane will suffice if Mr Bailey believes it such,” Sedge said quickly. “And your daughter is welcome to join her friends in their penitent vigil, if that will serve justice.”

“Thank you, I believe she will,” Tom said and he nodded appreciatively at Sedge’s diplomacy. Then to Candida he said gently, “Don’t dawdle, you know how this is done.”

“Yes Sir,” Candida said miserably.

After a brief pause she took a deep breath and turned away from her audience to quickly lower her panties to her ankles and step out of them. Her small neat bottom was more prominent than most imagined for such a slight girl and a small gasp escaped Mrs Barrow. Even Mrs Almond appeared moved.

“Bend over Candida,” Tom said as he moved behind her.

Candida paused. If she bent over as she was her eye line would be towards the lane. That was preferable than the other way around, she thought, unless someone chanced by.

“Candida,” Tom snapped.

Candida bent over and touched her toes so that her bottom thrust back.

Eager to get it over with, Tom immediately swiped the cane evenly across both her offered cheeks, drawing a neat white line.

The burning impact almost sent Candida upright and then as she struggled the line of fire really began to bite. She grunted.

Tom didn’t wait too long; just enough for the white line to turn red and swell a little, then he struck again.

“That’s the way,” Elder Greengage murmured.

Knowing six or even 12 would not suffice Tom slowly took Candida to eight and then let her get her breath.

Candida had struggled not to cry out in earnest, but after each stroke had landed, she had been left increasingly breathless and was now panting hard. If anyone had passed the house in the lane they would have seen a sheen of sweat on her forehead and a pair of very sad watery eyes. As if that was not enough the pain in her bottom continued to build and she danced a little by bending her knees, although her finger tips did not leave her toes.

“Another eight,” Tom said lightly.

Candida nodded.

It took less than two minutes to lay on the last set, but Tom did not deliver them any more softly. He began at the top above his first tramline and put the rest one below the other between the previous marks, putting most of the strokes on the underside of Candida’s bottom.

At 12 she gasped and her shoulders began to shake, but she held it together until the last biting stroke and then gripped her ankles to await the order to stand.

“I trust you have learned your lesson,” her father said kindly.

“Yes Sir.” Candida’s voice was strained now.

“You may go and stand next to Chelsea.”

As she stood up Candida heaved a sob and unable to contain it any longer burst into tears.

“I’m sorry Daddy,” she wailed.

“I know,” Tom said softly. “I know.”

Resisting the urge to run into his arms she wiped her eyes and then walked stiffly to the wall and stood facing it next to Chelsea.

All eyes in the room were on Candida’s neatly lined bottom and for a moment nobody spoke. Then a sound behind them broke the spell and everyone turned to watch a very forlorn Alice walk into the room drenched in embarrassment. She was followed by a very flustered looking Sarah.

“Go and stand next to the others,” Uncle Sedge said quietly.

Alice nodded and obeyed.

“Sedge… eh… I think…” Sarah said anxiously.

“We will talk later,” Sedge growled. He already knew something was not right, but he preferred to hear any new revelation away from prying ears.

*

Stephan sat deep in thought not really following the conversation at the dinner table. He knew that patience was a virtue, but five or six years? More even if he could not get a good living. A wild girl like Chelsea could get herself into a lot of trouble in that time. He knew she was a passionate girl who could easily have her heard turned by certain types of men in that time. She could be pushed into an arranged marriage with someone else. Was he a man or a mouse? Did his honouring of his father mean more to him than Chelsea? There had to be a way out.

“Cecilia, how was your day?” Reverend Gates was asking his daughter.

Cecilia grinned; a sure sign that it was time for the Reverend to frown.

“I dropped by Mandy’s house on the way home,” Cecilia could hardly contain herself, “There was quite a to-do over at the Baxter compound as we happened to pass. Chelsea, Alice and Candida Bailey were all nose to the wall after some serious tail-end action.”

Stephan was alert now and hanging on every word.

Reverend Gates helped himself to another biscuit, not immediately reacting to his daughter’s story. I bet you happened to be passing, he mused. Oh well making an example of errant youth is all part of the process.

“Don’t be vulgar Cecilia,” he chided, then absently he asked, “What was it about, do you know? Nothing serious I hope.”

Cecilia shrugged. She hadn’t bothered to ask and if Mandy had known she would have spun up the details with relish.

“Odd that they should be all punished together,” Stephan ventured casually. “I mean with Candida there.”

“Must have been some kind of prank, you know those two,” Cecilia shrugged.

“Those two yes,” the Reverend put in, “But Alice as well?”

“I know, isn’t it peachy, she looked so cute with her bare hiney displayed and her nose to the wall. And everyone could see, just everyone,” Cecilia gushed.

“Cecilia, enough,” Reverend Gates Scolded. “What else have you done today? Nothing, I suppose.”

“I read for my essay and planned it,” Cecilia said hastily, “I wrote some of it too.”

She had written her name and title at the top, she thought ruefully, desperately hoping that her father wouldn’t ask to see it. He might take her exaggerated claims as an actual lie.

“Oh yes, what is it about this week?” the Reverend was genuinely interested now.

Cecilia suddenly wished she hadn’t mentioned it.

“Oh, eh… it’s for one of eh… Greg Mansfield’s classes,” she told him.

“Oh yes, what is it on?”

Stephan broke a bread roll into pieces to vent his frustration, wishing the conversation had stayed on Chelsea. Maybe he should have been bold and asked about it himself. There was no way Chelsea would be at their rendezvous tonight. How could he find out what had happened?

Cecilia was having problems of her own.

“Oh it was an essay about…” she took a biscuit and then quickly gabbled, “The World Beyond.”

“I see,” the Reverend Gates’ eyes narrowed. “Is it interesting?”

Surprised by her father’s sudden academic curiosity she relaxed.

“Oh ever so,” she gushed. “Did you know that Usa was probably a lot bigger than Americana with far more people. Not only that, but there were a lot of other nations, some even bigger. Their Europa place wasn’t one place at all, but dozens. It is no wonder they had a lot of wars…”

“Cecilia this is just a theory isn’t it? A hypothesis that has now been rejected by everyone in Americana and we merely study it as part of theological history and because a few misguided people in Europa believe in it.” The Reverend was dangerously close to being angry now.

Cecilia missed the cue and soldiered on with her enthusiasm.

“But everything is so uniform in its linear creation… I mean for instance take deer. They are culled for meat or else they will overrun the crops. That doesn’t fit. If the deer evolved before man was there to cull them, then where are the natural predators that would have fulfilled that role? There is no evidence of any kind that Americana, Europa, Cathay or anywhere else had such creatures. It all points to a world tailored…”

“Cecilia, this is blasphemy,” Reverend Gates exploded. “That God created the Universe in an explosion of Light in the Dark is not in question. Evolution was created by God to properly manage the…”

“But father, the facts don’t fit the teachings. Something is definitely screwy here.” There she had said it.

“Bare your bottom. Bare your bottom at once,” Reverend Gates roared. “Stephan, please fetch the strop from the hall.”

“Father, please, I was only saying,” Cecilia wailed.

“I won’t ask you again. Bare your bottom and bend over the back of your chair before I have you go put on your penitent dress,” the Reverend would hear no further discussion now.

“Yes Sir,” Cecilia swallowed.

Then with one last forlorn look at Stephan in the hope of a rescue, she began to adjust her clothing.

Stephan rarely felt sympathy for his sister on such occasions. In his view she was not punished enough and was in danger of becoming a spoiled brat. But today he thought his father overly harsh. After all, he had begun the conversation himself.

Blushing furiously, Cecilia bent right over the back of the chair until her bare bottom was sticking right out.

“Cecilia, Cecelia, Cecelia,” the Reverend sighed in disappointment. “I know you are fascinated by the contrary view and will one day have a true faith, but I am a pastor and church elder. You must be more circumspect in your opinions. Have you any idea how serious it would be for us all if blasphemy charges were to be levelled at you.”

“Ooh, this is so unfair,” Cecilia wailed.

“Enough,” the Reverend growled as he brought the heavy leather soundly down across her defenceless bottom.

“Aah,” Cecilia ostentatiously wailed.

Ignoring her dramatics her father struck a score more times until her bottom was a startled red all over and beginning to welt where the leather crossed the cleft of her buttocks.

“Yiee,” she shrieked in response and quickly spluttered to baby tears.

Still unimpressed the Reverend let the strap fly so that it caught the squirming girl square across the underside of her bottom causing her bottom to lift and inadvertently offer itself to more correction.

“Wah,” Cecilia boo-hooed, taking an even firmer hold upon the back of the chair to pray for an end to her misery.

“You must learn that you cannot do as you wish,” Reverend Gates said wearily.

“Stephan does,” Cecilia blurted, “Carrying on with that Chelsea.”

The strapping stopped abruptly and her father turned to his son.

“What is she saying?” He frowned.

“I’ve seen him sneaking out at night and going to the beach,” Cecilia said with a heavy pout to her voice.

In her eagerness to deflect from herself she had overlooked the fact that she only knew this because she had sneaked out to follow them one night.

But it was a question that was far from the Reverend Gates’ mind at that moment.

“Is this true son?” He asked Stephan angrily.

*

The elders had all gathered and now sat in their Sunday best frock coats eyeing one another across the table. The Reverend Gates had hoped to avoid this but he couldn’t argue with Church Law and as the father of one of the guilty ones he was hardly in a position to use his position as pastor to veto these proceedings. Besides, Elder Greengage was in his element. As soon as he heard about covert meetings on the beach he immediately associated it with skinny dipping and all that that entailed; in his mind anyway.

Gates looked up at Sedge and wondered if he were not thinking much the same thing.

“Gentlemen, can I have your attention please,” Elder Michael finally intoned.

As Chief Elder it fell to him to oversee the proceedings and he had been much lobbied by various groups, including the town’s women‘s guild, who wanted Chelsea tarred and feathered old school style and run out of town. Others had not been so kind in the fate of their choice.

So far he had kept his council and had prayed much on the matter.

“Gentlemen, please can we begin,” the Chief Elder spoke again and this time he was heard.

Elder Michael was the oldest of them and many believed him to be the most old fashioned. He was certainly a stickler for protocol.

“As you know, we have a grave charge to consider,” he began, then skipping a few lines on the paper before him he read, “In that on days and dates unknown, one Chelsea of the House of Baxter, did meet with and consort unchaperoned with one Stephan Gates, also of this parish.”

“Yes, yes, we know all that,” Elder Greengage interrupted. “But what are we going to do about it?”

“We are going to do nothing until we have formally voted on it,” Elder Michael said pointedly.

“Point of order,” Elder Samuel put in.

“The chair hears Samuel,” Michael said, happy to listen to someone else for a change.

“Should we not know what we are voting on?” Samuel eyed Greengage apprehensively as he spoke.

“We know what we are voting on,” Greengage said in exasperation.

“Yes, but my point is, should we not know what the consequences of voting one way or the other are before we… decide so to speak?”

“We have a proposal to vote on the specifics before we vote. Do I hear a second?” Michael addressed the room before Greengage could say more.

“Seconded,” Sedge said quickly, also to forestall the old man.

“Let’s agree that we shall,” Elder Thomas croaked. After Michael he was the oldest in the room.

His words were greeted with calls of “formally.”

Sensing his defeat Greengage smiled magnanimously and then said airily, “Point of order, shouldn’t Reverend Gates abstain from voting.”

“Agreed,” Reverend Gates said before anyone else could speak. His heart sank.

“And Elder Sedge,” Greengage said almost gleefully.

“Objection,” Samuel cried.

“Sustained,” Michael snapped. “Sedge is the girl’s mentor and guardian. He has only known the girl three years and has a professional and charitable interest here far above any sentimental attachment.”

“Should we not vote on that?” Greengage said, a whine creeping into his tone.

Most of the faces around the table looked down desperate to remain impartial.

“No one appears to want to second that, so it falls,” Michael sighed.

“So do we shun the girl or not?” Elder Daniel said in a bored voice.

“What would shunning involve?” Samuel asked, returning to his original point.

“I have looked up precedents and I have also consulted the Father House…” Greengage said warming to his subject.

“You were not asked do such,” Michael growled.

“It won’t hurt to know,” Thomas rasped.

“Agreed,” said one of the others and there were several nods of agreement.

The room fell quiet again and somewhere a clock was ticking. As he listened, Sedge could also hear the faraway chatter of the girls returning home from college. Chelsea would not be among them, he thought bitterly.

“Now if I may continue,” Greengage said triumphantly, he didn’t wait, “The procedure for shunning is to cast one out into the wilderness…”

Someone snorted and a couple of the gathered men began to mouth the word wilderness. Had the old man cracked? These were not frontier times.

“…Which of course was defined 80 years ago as being forbidden entrance to any institution or college controlled by the church and to withdraw all sponsorship of citizen’s rights,” Greengage pressed on, ignoring the commotion around the table.

There were some gasps and Sedge was ashen.

“However, if I might continue,” Greengage cut in, “We would not be as harsh as that. Indeed there are carefully laid down alternatives.”

Most of the men around the table relaxed.

“First, the girl should be consigned to the abbreviated form of the penitent dress and all persons forbidden to talk to her. Then she should be whipped in the town square before expulsion from this community,” Greengage rattled off from some notes. “Second that a place be found for her at the Sisters of Mercy Seminary for wayward young ladies for five years or until she atones, whichever is the longest.”

“Sisters without mercy more like,” Samuel snorted.

“An aunt of mine was sent there, oh many years ago,” Thomas said absently. “She was birched in the quad by way of welcome I recall. I think they pretty much birched for anything in those days.”

“They still do,” one of the men said pointedly.

“Yes that’s it,” Thomas continued, “Oh she was a naughty girl. Took the veil herself in the end.”

The room fell quiet again.

“All those in favour of commuting the punishment to the alternative,” Daniel said. He was eager now to get things over with.

“Point of order,” Samuel said hastily, “We can only vote on an alternative vote.”

“Quite so,” Michael agreed.

“Let’s not vote. No one wants a full shunning or even a vote about having a full shunning. It makes the church look bad.” Daniel sounded bored. “I think we are agreed that we vote on the alternative.”

There was a collective sigh and everyone leaned back, some casting their eyes to heaven to pray.

Why did I let it come to this? Reverend Gates cursed inwardly. Why was I so hard on the girl? If only… He knew full well that if the girl fell then so would his son. It hadn’t even occurred to him yet that he too would have to resign.

“Let it be so,” Elder Michael said firmly. Then he added, “As you know we have to be unanimous in this. Also as you may not know, we have a reverse situation to that used when voting on appointing elders and pastors. A white ball symbolises a vote against. If you wish the girl shunned… I mean the alternative, then you must place a black ball in the bag.”

“What if we are not all agreed?” Daniel asked.

“We pray and vote again until we either have a unanimous vote in favour or a majority for acquittal,” Michael replied.

“Acquittal,” Greengage spat, “This is a formality isn’t it?”

“We will pray and then vote,” Elder Michael said emphatically.

Sedge looked grimly over at Reverend Gates who looked as sick as he felt. His sole vote against would be an empty gesture, he knew. After two or three castings he would have to cave or risk the elders blocking him and going for a full shunning. He looked at the resolve on the faces of his fellow elders and saw Chelsea’s doom written there. Oh God let her be spared, he prayed, and I swear if she is I’ll spank her silly until she can’t sit down for a month.

To be continued



3 Responses to “These Lands Beyond (Part 6 of 8)”

  1. 1 paul1510

    Damian,
    a great story, however, I’m very glad that I don’t live there. 😦
    Paul.

  2. These elders remind me of Abbott and Costello, Who’s on first.

    So what happens with Stephan? Will he be shunned?

  3. 3 Raffe

    I would take shunning over that sister seminary, at this point it looks like only one way out for all. I see Stephan comming in to rescue Chelsea with mariage proposal.
    I looking forward to the next part and DJ, I believe this story has you excited also, because you post them much quicker then you do usually.


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