Jo had come to us at the start of the summer. She’d simply arrived one day at the servants’ entrance, and had asked whether we had any work for her. It turned out that she had set off from her family home in Wales, where she was one of six children, to come to London to look for work. She’d got as far as us, having run out of money, and was desperate to earn something to live on.
As it happens, she was in luck: Charlotte, one of the house maids, had managed to get herself pregnant by one of the stable lads, and had been dismissed forthwith. Jo arrived about a week later, and we were still short of a maid – and she seemed a decent, honest enough sort of girl.
So, we took her on: board & lodgings provided, plus a small amount of pocket money, which she vowed to save and send back to her family. She quickly settled in – just cleaning the downstairs rooms at first, then allowed to clean the public areas of the house. She was neat, tidy, well-presented and conscientious: keen to be accepted, keen to do well.
She was a pretty girl, too, in a quiet sort of way. Short, dark hair, tied back, and the deep blue eyes that seem so typical of many Welsh lasses. Short, though – about five-two, I’d guess – and slimly built. Although she was eighteen, and nicely developed for her age, she still had that certain girlish charm. And – as if to save us the trouble – she was careful to avoid the sort of dalliances that had been Charlotte’s undoing! Not that she seemed to have any particular boyfriends at home – I guess half the lads in the village must have rued the day she left home, before they could get their hands on her!
Anyway, after she’d been with us about three months, one of the three serving staff announced that she was leaving us. Serving girls were a definite step above the house maids: they came into regular contact with the family at mealtimes, and had to be polite, well-behaved and courteous. Jo was definitely the sort of person who’d fit in excellently, and matron and I had no hesitation in offering her the promotion.
Jo was delighted, of course. It meant a bit extra money, more “glamour”, recognition from the other girls – and the chance to actually mingle with the Family and their guests. We showed her the basic techniques – giving food from the right, taking away from the left, serving the ladies first – that sort of thing – but not, of course, the actual table laying: that was MY preserve as butler!
She started on the Thursday morning, at breakfast. Everything went fine, although she was very nervous: perhaps a little too keen to impress his Lordship, who was never at his best first thing in the morning. She kept quiet, though – didn’t try to strike up a conversation, like some of the silly young things would do until they learnt better!
Perhaps, on reflection, it was a mistake starting her so soon before a big weekend at the house. On the Saturday night, it was his Lordship’s annual gathering of the great and good of the area. At least three other peers, two local MPs, the Bishop, magistrates – that sort of thing! Very formal, Sir very keen to live up to his reputation as a man of the utmost good taste and refinement.
Anyway, about eight o’clock they sat down to dinner, after a healthy dose of sherry and white port. All dressed up in their finery, they were: ribbons, medals, white ties & tails – all trying to outdo one another! Seven courses, each elaborately prepared, to chef’s utmost capability! Jo was fine, although every time she came back into the kitchen she was shaking like a leaf with nerves, lest she her herself – and us – down, at such an important event.
I guess it was her tension that led to the accident. As she cleared away the cheese plate from in front of the Bishop – a large, rotund, irritable man – her hand must have caught the port decanter, that was sitting on the table. Over it tumbled – and it had been specially filled to the brim for the evening – right over his reverence’s front and into his lap. I have NEVER seen so much chaos at the dinner table: the Bishop was soaked, in bright, staining port – and His Lordship’s best port at that, brought direct from the merchants in Portugal. His ribbons from the war were drenched; he was sitting in a puddle, and his shirt looked as if he’d been stabbed through the heart.
Jo tried to help, attempting to mop him down with a serviette, but that only made it worse: Bishops do not like being pawed by common servants, even if they are trying to help. “Leave the room, now”, bellowed Sir at the top of his voice at the poor girl, and she ran from the room, tears streaming from her eyes.
Well, we soon had the situation under some form of control: the Bishop was led away by Her Ladyship, and matron provided him with a clean set of dinner clothes – but the atmosphere in the room was completely spoiled. I could tell that His Lordship was furious, although he tried to present a calm image to his guests. As the Bishop returned, he apologized profusely, and said a phrase that later came so true: “the girl will, of course, be punished severely.”
Soon, the dinner group split up – the ladies to talk about the latest in fashion and music. the gentlemen to the snooker room with their whisky and cigars. I hovered discreetly, but took a chance to pop downstairs to the kitchen, where Jo – having been calmed down and dried her tears – was sitting, staring blankly at the wall ahead of her. “I suppose I’ll be sent away now?”, she asked, “Do you want me to pack my things?”
I had to be honest: I really had no choice. I told her not to rush, but that she would have to leave the following morning. I would give her a good reference, and she could say that she’d wanted to move on for more responsibility – but she would have to leave the area if she wanted to find work again.
I returned to the gentlemen and their snooker. The long, dark table sat proudly in the middle of the room, with long bay windows at one end. All round were wooden bookcases, filled with old, leather-bound volumes acquired by the family over the past two centuries. His Lordship was playing determinedly, thwacking the balls across the table like there was no tomorrow.
As they finished their game, and I refilled their glasses, the Count turned to the Bishop and suddenly looked more serious than I think I’ve ever seen him before. “I don’t think I can apologize enough for the fiasco at dinner, your reverence,” he explained.
“Think nothing of it,” came the reply. “It could have happened to any of us. Nothing broken, as they say!”
It was exactly the fact that it wouldn’t – and didn’t – happen to “any of us” that raised the Count’s heckles.
“If I may, Sir…” I began.
“I have already told the girl that she should pack her bags and leave us tomorrow.”
“Thank you, Jenkins. But… We have staff come and go all the time, don’t we? When she’s gone, the others will think about her for a day, and then forget she ever existed – won’t they?”
“I imagine that would probably be the case, my Lord.”
“Then they’ll forget what she did, and none of them will learn how seriously I take such disgraceful performances. I think we need to make sure they learn a lesson – all of them – don’t you, Jenkins?”
“If Sir would feel that to be appropriate.”
“Yes, Jenkins, Sir would. Gentlemen,” he said, turning to the guests in the room, “perhaps after our next game you’d not object if I showed the maid what I think of her behaviour.”
There was a murmur of polite consent.
“Very well. Jenkins, I’d like you to go directly to the stables and bring me back a selection of the horse whips. Oh, and on the way, perhaps you could mention to matron that I’d like the girl sent up to this room in fifteen minutes’ time. Nothing more, mind: I don’t want her to take fright and run off: just tell her we’d like the girl to come up and apologize”
I was shocked. “Yes, sir,” I murmured. This was unprecedented. I knew His Lordship had been hard on his two sons – but the discipline of the servants had always been left to me.
I rushed out of the room, fired off my curt message to matron via the serving maid who was waiting, as usual, outside the kitchen door, then headed out into the dark night to the stables, picking up a paraffin lamp as I went to light my way. I couldn’t believe what I was doing: surely he wouldn’t go through with it? I headed to the saddlers area, and bundled up three different rods, and rushed back to the house, my heart pounding.
Jo had still not arrived when I got back, and the men were finishing their game of snooker. “Put the crops on the table under the window,” the Count instructed, keeping his eyes on the game.
Shortly after, a quiet knock came at the door, and Jo walked in, looking scared out of her wits. And she only thought she had come to give an apology. “Wait there,” the Count instructed, and she silently obeyed, blending back into the shadows as the game continued.
It must have been a close match – they continued playing, intently, for another ten minutes. It seemed like an eternity: I tried to avoid Jo’s eyes- which wasn’t hard, as she stood staring at the ground in front of her. I desperately attempted not to think about what might be to come – surely he was only going to frighten her, anyway? Surely he wouldn’t go through with it?
Eventually, the local MP, who was partnering the Bishop in the game, smacked the black ball into the pocket, and stood up in triumph. “Voila! At last…!”
Suddenly, the room went tense: the atmosphere seemed to sparkle with tension and expectation. All eyes turned to the Count, and then to the girl, and then back to the Count.
“Come out of the shadows, girl, and stand in the light.” His Lordship strode round the table, speaking to me as he went. “What’s her name, Jenkins, and how long have we had her?”
“Josephine Jones, Sir, and she’s been with us for three months.”
“Well, Josephine Jones. How do you explain your conduct this evening?”
“I…I…I’m sorry. Sir. I didn’t mean to, it was an accident, and I’m dreadfully sorry, and I’m leaving tomorrow, and I hope the bishop is all right now.” The words gushed out, in a trembling voice.
“And where will you go when you leave?”
“I don’t know, Sir. London, perhaps.”
“And what will you work as, my girl? You won’t get a job in service, I can tell you – I’ll make sure of that. You’ll be on the streets whoring within days, if you want to get the money to eat. Ever sold your body for money, Josephine?”
“Why no, Sir.”
“Ever been touched by a man?”
“A virgin, eh? So why do you want to go to be a whore?”
“I don’t sir.” She was almost in tears by now, but bravely held them back.
“So I’m going to let you stay here.”
“Sir? Thank you, sir.”
“Not for your good, though. What do you think would happen if we let you leave here – do you think the other staff would notice you’d gone after more than a day or two?”
“Probably not, Sir, I suppose.”
“Well I want them to remember, Josephine. I want them to remember what I think about stupid little girls who embarrass my honored guests, and who make a fool of me and my hospitality in my own house.”
He turned to the side table, and ran his eyes over the whips.
“Did your father ever thrash you when you were a child?”
“N..n…no, sir” The fear welled up in her face.
“Perhaps if he had done, you wouldn’t be standing here now. It might have taught you a lesson or two about taking care of what you’re doing. Now strip.”
Jo stood, motionless, rigid with fear.
“Strip, I tell you”
Still she did not move, almost as if she couldn’t understand what was happening to her.
“You, footman.” He turned to one of the staff, who was stood discretely in the corner of the room. “Strip her – and be quick about it if you want to keep your job.”
Anderson was a big, burly man in his late 30s. He recognized that there could be no advantage in disobeying his Lordship’s orders, or in trying to help the girl. He stepped out of the shadows, and in two strides had the girl; he stood behind her, holding her arms behind her back with one of his hands, and with the other flicked open the row of white buttons down the front of her black uniform jacket. He completed the row, and the top fell apart, revealing her pale skin below.
As she struggled, her turned his attentions to her skirt. His right hand came across the front of her waist, pinning her tighter to him, and he wrestled open the button on the side of her skirt. He tugged at the zip, and jerked it downwards. As he did so, the long black garment slithered slowly downwards to the ground.
Placing his feet on the middle of the skirt, he lifted the small girl up into the air and around, both freeing her feet from her shoes and the skirt, and turning her frightened face towards him. He grasped at the collars of her jacket, and thrust them backwards over her shoulders, sending it tumbling to the ground.
“Thank you, footman, that will suffice. Turn around, girl.”
Jo faced His Lordship, trembling, clad only in her thin black brassiere and knickers. Her hands covered her front, protecting her innocence from the gaze of the assembled crowd, who looked on, mesmerised.
“Now take off your underwear. NOW!”
Terrified, Jo reached round and unclipped her bra. She pulled it forwards slowly, down her arms, freeing her pert breasts. Leaning forwards, she gingerly pushed her knickers down to the ground, doubling up as they reached the ground and she stepped out of them.
Naked, she tried to cover herself. Her right hand crossed over her chest, forming a barrier along the line of her nipples, while she held her left hand demurely in front of her pubes. Fifteen middle-aged men gazed at her, some becoming clearly aroused by the sight of the trembling, naked virgin exposed to their sights.
And then – as if the humiliation could get no worse – his Lordship uttered the next instructions. “Clasp your hands together, and hold them behind your head, girl.”
So, she was finally completely exposed. Her elbows out to the sides, Jo’s nudity was plain for all to see. The quiet, attractive face curved downwards to a pair of firm, white breasts – full, but small. Below, a small, neat triangle of straight black pubes (matching her hair) drew the eyes towards her dark, untouched womanhood. And then her legs – thin, well shaped: all in all, she was a young woman of great innocence, beauty and charm. And one filled with very great fear.
His Lordship walked around her, smelling her fear. “Now, my girl, you are going to be flogged. Once you have been beaten, you will then leave this room, and nothing will be said again of your disgraceful behavior this evening. Now I fully expect that the thrashing will cause you a great deal of pain, but I must ask you to take it in silence: if you scream out, I shall simply thrash you harder and for longer. Do you understand me?”
He stopped at the table, and picked up a long, thin riding whip. The crop was about three feet long, covered in premium brown leather, and he bent it slowly in two to illustrate how whippy it would be.
“Bend over the edge of the snooker table, girl; go on, legs against it, and lean forward. And keep those hands behind your head. Tighter, much tighter.” Jo stretched herself forward, as she did so rising up almost onto tiptoe, thrusting her naked backside further into the air.
Satisfied, his Grace took three steps back. He raised his arm high above his shoulder, and danced forward, bringing the whip crashing through the air an
d down across Jo’s behind. It landed straight across the center of her buttocks with a crack that sounded like gunfire; she cried out, despite her best intentions. The weal stretched across, two thin red tramlines lining a darker ridge, that hardened rapidly.
CRACK! Again, the rod lashed down on the helpless girl’s backside. It seemed as if, had Jo not been tight up against the edge of the snooker table, the blow would have sent her flying across the room. A second angry line traced across her behind – parallel to the first, but slightly lower – again, his Lordship careful not to actually break the flesh Jo tried to muffle her sobs, choking back the tears.
Again, his lordship whipped the crop across her buttocks. The audience stood, completely silent, the whole room focused on the enraged peer and his helpless victim. I watched too, mesmerized by the scene that was being played out. I willed Jo to pull through: if she could only hold out for another minute, the flogging would be over and I could take her away to give her some comfort.
His Grace walked further back this time, and lifted the crop high above his head. He galloped forward, and dealt a blow even more ferocious than the first three. Jo reared up and cried out, clutching at her burning behind.
“I’ll have to give you that one again. I’ve told you that I don’t want to hear any noise from you. And if you flinch again, I’ll give you an extra four strokes.”
A voice came from one of the bystanders – a local M.P.: “how many are you going to give her, your Lordship?” v
His Grace paused for thought. “Well, I’d thought six would do the job – plus any extra she earns, of course. Your reverence – you were the one who suffered for the girl’s stupidity; do you have any views on the matter?”
The Bishop waved his hand – “No, I’ll leave it to your judgement.”
His Lordship turned to the girl, and grabbed her next pony tail in his hand, pulling her head upwards to look into his eyes. “Three more, then.”
I can hardly bear to describe the scene any further. The next blow matched its predecessor for strength, the rod cutting through the air with ferocious speed and landing directly on top if the first weal. For the next, he adjusted his target, and brought the crop crashing down right on the softest spot where Jo’s buttocks merged into her thighs. And the final stroke; angled, cutting right across the previous six lines, stinging each of them once more into life, bringing the pain to what must have been an almost unbearable crescendo.
Jo stayed in position, not daring – or not able – to move, her neatly striped buttocks revealing the extent of the pain that she must have been feeling. His Grace handed the rod back to me, and pointed to the other two. “I can rely on you to return these to their rightful place.”
He turned back, seeing Jo still sobbing on the table. “Well go on, then, girl – get up, get dressed and get out of our way; we have a snooker game to play.”
She stood up and turned around, her face streaming with tears. Her hands felt for her throbbing buttocks, desperately trying to contain the pain – any previous modest thoughts of covering her nakedness from the gaze of the onlookers completely forgotten now.
“Go on, get on with it, or I’ll think you want some more.”
Jo’s clothes were scattered across the floor. Through the haze of tears, and sobbing loudly, she found her bra and, hands trembling, clipped it back into place. She put on her jacket, fumbling with the buttons, and then picked up her knickers. She paused for a moment, unable to contemplate pulling the tight black material over her throbbing buttocks – and thrust them instead into her jacket pocket. She gently slipped her skirt on over her naked flesh, and stepped into her shoes.
She turned and looked at me, helpless, her eyes asking me what was expected of her next. “I think you should perhaps apologize to his Lordship and his guests, and then go back to your room Josephine,” I said.
She turned back to face the man who minutes previously had subjected her to the terrible and agonizing flogging. Unable to look him in the eyes, she stared at his feet – “Sorry, sir” she murmured.
“Go away. And I’ll expect you to resume your normal duties tomorrow now you’ve been taught your lesson.”
I gathered up the other two whips from the table, and led the way to the door, Jo following behind. “If you would excuse me for a few moments, my Lord?” “Certainly, Jenkins.”
I held the door open, and ushered Jo through it. As I pulled it to behind us, I held my forefinger to my lip to tell her to keep quiet. I put my arm around her trembling shoulders, and led her down the back stairway to my room. Throwing the rods onto the floor, I opened my arms, and Jo threw herself against me, sobbing loudly. I held her gently, stroking her hair with my hand. She freed one of her hands, and gently cradled her behind, feeling the angry weals stretching across them.
After a few minutes, I let her go. “I think you’d better wash your face, then go back to your room.”
She splashed the cold water over herself, and dried her face on my towel. “Thank you for looking after me, Mr Jenkins,” she said. “I won’t do it again, I promise.”
“I’m sure you won’t. Now, get yourself to bed, and make sure you’re on duty promptly in the morning.”
was unfortunate, I suppose, that Josephine was due to serve breakfast the following morning, but in a way I suppose it was better for her to have to face his Lordship again quickly, rather than to let the prospect of the encounter loom up ahead of her for some time.
As it turned out, he ignored her – as he usually did with the servants. No comments – not a word, even though he had thrashed the poor lass almost senseless the night before.
As for Josephine – well, I didn’t get much of a chance to speak to her for a few days after the whipping. When I did – and it must have been close on a week after – I asked her how she was. Still sore, it turned out – indeed, from what Matron told me, it took fully three weeks before her backside returned to normal. And as for waiting at table – well, she never spilt a drop again. She stayed with us for another year, and then left to take up a housekeeper’s job on an estate in Sussex. And we heard no more from her after that.