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It was the first time that Catherine had requested me to come to her office over a weekend. It was a gorgeous morning and summer had just arrived. When I opened the door, I was a bit taken aback to see the renovations that had started.
Towards the end of the office, near the cupboard, two beam support posts had been put in place a few feet from each side of the office. There were solid pieces of steel pipe, with iron handles sticking out like handles towards the top; handles that were used to jack the top of the support up and fix it firmly in place to the underside of the ceiling beam through pressure. ‘My’ platform’ had been moved to the base of the one beam post, and a step-ladder was propped against and attached firmly to the other.
In front of Catherine’s desk, my little platform had been replaced by one that was much larger.; it was at least four-foot square. A short, low, rustic wooden bench had been placed on the platform; I guessed it would be a place for me. It promised to be hard and uncomfortable; anyone forced to sit on would have their dignity stripped away. A small theater spotlight was attached to the one wall and aimed at the platform, lighting it up like a little stage.
Catherine watched me eye out the changes, a sardonic smile playing across her lips.
I looked back at her and noticed a small pile of publications sitting on the corner of her wooden desk; I recognized them all as I had checked them out for Catherine from the library the previous day. The Pearl, Miss Coote’s Confession, The Yellow Room, Justine.
Catherine stood up abruptly and before I could ask any questions, she took me by the elbow and led me out of the office.
“Come Anne, it is a lovely day outside, let’s take a walk down to the flower market!”
The Flower Market
We were not the only two taking advantage of the gorgeous weather. The market was in a park that bordered the lake front; visitors and flowers and stall owners came together in a riot of color to create a vibrant event. Summer clothes, bronzed limbs, excited voices; it was a carnival atmosphere that was infectious.
I held onto Catherine’s upper arm as she threaded her way through the crowd, letting her guide me to wherever she was heading. It felt wonderful to be at her side This was companionship without domination, two friends, lovers perhaps, enjoying each other’s company, soaking up the mood of the market, breathing in the heavy scents of the blooms.
A florist stall caught Catherine’s eye, and she led me across the path to it. It was a covered stall with a heavy wooden workbench set in the middle at which the florist stood making up arrangements. Willowy and graceful, she wore a green apron over her clothes. I watched mesmerized as she crafted a bouquet in a vase: asters and zinnias in all shades of pink, wild verbena filling in the gaps. Her hands were slender and graceful; dexterously, she inserted the stems into the perfect spot, stripped off unwanted leaves, snipped stems to the perfect length.
Eventually she sensed that we were watching her, and she straightened up and looked our way.
“Beautiful day out here, isn’t it?” she greeted us. Her manner melted me; even Catherine’s perpetual scowl was replaced with a responsive smile, like a flash going off in the midday sky. I felt myself drawing myself closer to Catherine, enjoying the proximity, loving the mood.
“How can I help you, ladies?” the florist asked.
“I would like a little nosegay for Anne here.” Catherine responded.
The pieces started to fall into place in my mind. The post, the step-ladder, the nosegay. I had only ever read the word nosegay in certain context and it was in the context of what had been described in the publications sitting on the corner of Catherine’s desk. I felt a shiver run down my spine and goosebumps rise on my arms. It was a curious feeling: fear tempered by excitement, apprehension by eagerness, dryness by dampness.
The florist did a double take, and then a smile crept across her lips. She looked me up and down, and then nodded her head knowingly.
“Oh! Sure, I think I can make up just what you want.”
She was like a dancer moving to a pre-choreographed routine, graceful and practiced. A rosebud was selected, the most delicate of ferns added, the stems coddled in a damp piece of cotton wool, a cellophane wrapping applied, all tied up with a blue bow around the stems. Artistry in the making, the purpose now clear in everyone’s minds.
She looked directly into Catherine’s eyes, anther smile playing out on her lips, her eyes twinkling with the most mischievous of looks.
“I have just received a fresh stock of rods that may be of interest. Many people place them in a tall vase for that country cottage effect. The bamboos may be a bit green for what you have in mind, but the willow twigs are wonderful!”
She was off to the side of her stall before Catherine could even answer, and was back a few moments later with a bunch of willow branches; the base of each was about as thick as her smallest finger.
Catherine gave her that mega-watt smile again.
“Oh, those are wonderful! Just perfect! I think a dozen will do.”
“Would you like me to peel them for you? Perhaps tie a few together with a ribbon? Six together makes a super switch!” The florist was all caught up in the moment.
“No thanks,” Catherine responded, “don’t you think it is right that a girl should peel her own switches and make them presentable? Anne here has nothing better to do this morning.”
It was humiliating how they were talking about me and my fate; I was there, but being studiously ignored. I dropped hold of Catherine’s arm and I felt the blood rush to my face. My suspicions as to what lay in store for me had been confirmed, and the fear settled into my chest, rushing like a dark cloud across the sky.
Stripping and Peeling and Binding
I sat on the low stool on my platform peeling a switch with a little red handled paring knife that Catherine had produced. The rest of the of switches lay in bunch at my feet.
“Be careful!” she had admonished me, “Any piece of stalk or greenery that falls on my floor to litter it, will result in additional strokes.”
The stool was low, the spot light on me was bright and Catherine’s glare was ominous; it all made for a nerve-racking experience. I was sitting down at near-floor-height, my knees bent upwards like a child, the bare wood hard on my bottom. My fingers trembled as I carefully stripped off the leaves and bark, letting them drop into my skirt. The bouquet, or nosegay as Catherine had referred to it as, was a mark of my pending swishing, rather than something I could feel good about. It was there to satisfy Catherine rather than me, to make me look proper in her eyes. It irritated me, rather than made me feel special. It weighed uncomfortably on the fabric, and rather than being satisfying, I found the scent overpowering and irritating.
After what seemed like an eternity, I finished my task and received permission from Catherine to bring it around her desk to drop the shavings into her bin.
“Don’t drop any!” she warned.
With the front of my skirt raised and bunched up to hold the mess I had created under her watchful eye, I did my best to stand up with some dignity; it was a losing battle. I had learnt my lesson from a previous engagement with Catherine, and was consequently wearing just the barest of underwear; a lacy suspender belt does not offer much in the way of protection. Despite my humiliation, I was aroused, and I knew it showed. A flushed neck and quickened breath were my instant giveaways. My cleavage was showing, and now glowing red; she liked it that way. Whether she could detect my swollen and lubricated cunt, I cannot tell, but the walk around her desk was a lesson in humiliation. I came to realize then that being partially clothed was even worse than naked!
“Well now, a dozen beautifully stripped switches,” she remarked thoughtfully, I don’t think I need that many to make you dance! How about this; you take six of them and bind them into a birch rod; think that makes sense?”
She didn’t wait for an answer, but reached into her drawer and pulled out a roll of pink ribbon and a pair of scissors. Glumly, I took them from her, and made my way back to my stool.
She paused for effect, before continuing: “Pay close attention to the handle. I like the handles to be especially pretty! I must warn you Anne, if the rod comes apart, I will whip you with each switch until you bleed!”
I did my best to make the rod handle presentable: I wound the ribbon a few times around the base, and then managed to create a cross hatching up the stem for a few inches, before wrapping around again at the top of the binding. Inwardly I felt proud of my handiwork; the purpose didn’t leave my mind for even a second.
“Two foot size inches, Anne. That’s how long I like my rods.” She handed me a dressmakers’ tape measure.
I trimmed the switches in the rod to an even length, and once again I made that nauseating trip around to deposit the ends in her bin. I knew my job was done and my punishment was about to begin.
The bottom step of the ladder dug into the arch of my foot and the nosegay was pushed by another rung into my breast; they were uncomfortable, but I knew it was the least of my problems. Catherine must have done it before; her movements were too practiced, her technique to precise for this to be her first time.
She tied my wrists to the side of the ladder first; coarse rope that bit into my skin, tight knots that wouldn’t shake free. Yet she left a length of dangling rope hanging from each rope; it was obviously a slip knot for an easy release.
Her silence was frightening; no comment, no chatter, no consolation. It was all business like and efficiency.
My ankles were secured, and it was then time for her to prepare the target.
“Move away from the ladder Anne – push your arse out!” It was coarse language for Catherine, I had never heard her express herself like that
I felt my skirt being rolled up and pinned. Once again it struck me that being partially bared was far more demeaning than being fully naked.
I heard the rustle of the rod, the squeal of her shoes on the floor, the ticking of the huge grandfather clock that stood in the corner behind her desk. The scenes written in Cootes rolled through my mind. It was one of the first that I read that had made the greatest impression: poor Rosa being tied to the ladder and having her bottom whisked by her Grandfather, Sir Eyre with the help of the maid Jemima and Housekeep Mrs. Mansell. Sir Eyre’s constant badgering, words that could hurt almost as much as the rod.
There was no admonishment from Catherine, however; I had not been a bad girl. She was going to whisk me for her own pleasure, nothing more and nothing less.
The blows started lightly and for just a moment, I wondered what all the fuss about birching was. It was a warmth though that rapidly grew, firing up into an unbearable flame. She swished me lightly but rapidly, stoking the flames, driving me crazy. I could feel the blood rushing through the veins, burning with heat, a tingle turned into torment. My bottom was soon swinging wildly, gyrating lewdly in response to the punishment. I was out of control and felt myself pulling back wildly against the coarse ropes, the step ladder frame bumping into my shaking body.
My cries were pitiful; cries of pain and pleas for her to stop. Tears coursed down my cheeks, my makeup smeared.
Mercifully it stopped at last and I slumped against the steps exhausted, my bottom a quivering cauldron of pain.
I would never have thought that Catherine had any tenderness within, the capacity to love, the power to heal. Yet when she let me down, her arms wrapped around me in a hug, her voice soothed me, her compassion calmed me. As her lips came to mine, I felt her hand insinuating it between my thighs, and I opened myself up to her passion.
The six birch rods that lay unused on the floor slipped from my mind as I succumbed to the power of Catherine’s lust.