by Susan Thomas
It had been a glittering occasion: the ballroom magnificent; the band had played wonderful music; and the diners, dressed in the finest evening wear, had behaved graciously. The dinner had been to its usual high standard; the dancing had been enjoyable and as a result there were sparkling eyes and flushed faces everywhere. Having played for the last dance the band had remained to provide some musical accompaniment to the closing treat of the evening.
A few chairs that had been occupied as courses were served were now empty, and although the last drinks had been served to the diners, the waitresses and waiters had not left but stood in neat lines at the back.
Then the lights dimmed on all, including the band, but one stage is now lit up and onto it comes a man. He is rather typical of the type who at functions makes a windy speech and introduces the main speaker; he has clearly enjoyed many a banquet and his face is rather flushed, but surprisingly he is brief and to the point.
"Ladies and gentlemen, it is now time for Accountability."
The applause is enthusiastic. The waiters look excited but the waitresses rather less so, grinning nervously at each other and perhaps trying to stop a giggle or two.
Two waiters come in from one side pushing a strange device on wheels. It is upright like a portable display board with a roulette-type wheel on it that clearly is intended to be spun, stopping at one of a number of places. From the other direction comes another contraption carried by two waiters. It is a spanking bench. The low platform at the front is to kneel on, there is an angled riser and the top platform slopes downwards allowing the person kneeling to bend over, their upper body angling down to become lower than their bottom.
The excitement is clearly building as onto the stage, with musical accompaniment by the band, come six naked women; their ages range from early twenties to mid-forties. They are of course the usual range of body types with the forty-something woman voluptuous while the one in her early twenties is slim with small breasts. The younger one looks very nervous and embarrassed but the older one looks quite comfortable, acknowledging the applause at their entry with a smile and wave.
"As you will know Ladies and Gentlemen, all these ladies have received penalties for some breach of our rules. They have already been chastised twice of course but third time pays all and this is to ensure that you all see and know justice has been done."
A ripple of amusement greets those last words of his but he continues unabashed, his face gleaming with the good food, alcohol and the heat of the lights on him.
"We have, in order of the number of penalties, Michelle Riley with one penalty which is her very first since becoming a member."
The young nervous woman steps forward looking even more embarrassed. A voice calls out from the audience that she just hadn't been caught before. There is no laughter but murmurs of disapproval, and the compère gestures and a spotlight turns on the culprit.
"You sir, have been vulgar."
The culprit stands. "I apologise unreservedly to you Michelle, and to all you ladies and gentlemen."
The compère continues. "Jane Spence, also with one penalty; Emma Freckleton, with two penalties, also making her first appearance at Accountability..." There is applause and Emma who looks around forty, though with a stunning figure, steps forward to acknowledge the applause but looks as nervous as Michelle. "...Mary Sinclair, with three penalties; Dita Pawlak, with three penalties; and Aileen Dunbar with five penalties. Each penalty earning our miscreant," he rolls the word miscreant around as if it was a delicious titbit, "two strokes."
A murmur of amusement ripples through the audience for this older voluptuous woman is clearly a favourite with the audience. She grins ruefully at the thought of five but doesn't seem to be fearful. The compère explains the wheel (though it is probably unnecessary for this audience but they hear him out) is spun to decide on the instrument to be used. It is now clear to one particularly young and nervous waitress at the back that each of the women is about to be chastised and her eyes have grown wide at the prospect. The young waitress can see the choices. There is 'CANE', the mere thought of that frightens her; 'STRAP' which also sounds nasty; 'MARTINET', but she doesn't know what that is; 'PADDLE' also is puzzling; and 'BIRCH' which she knows from her history lessons at school.
The slim Michelle is now looking even more nervous and finding her public nudity very uncomfortable, but when the compère tells her to take her place on the bench, she does not hesitate but steps up and kneeling on the bench leans right over. On the far side there is a bar to hold on to but the diners cannot see her grip it tightly. Her slim body and shapely bottom look perfect under the spotlight and there is a great interest in this her first public punishment.
The compère spins the instrument wheel which revolves easily and as it slows there is increasing tension. The diners want the birch and it looks as if it will be so, but the wheel just carries onto the cane. The ballroom is filled for a moment with a mixture of laughter and groans as the compère announces it will be the cane, but it is silenced as a burly Guardian in his smart black uniform marches on carrying the cane. The band accompanies his entrance to add to the drama.
It is no thin whippy thing that cane, but a beast of a cane, a brute. He wastes no time at all but steps into position behind Michelle's fair bottom and with practised ease raises the cane high above and behind his head to bring it down on her bottom with a final wicked flick of the wrist. The crack of the cane on her bare bottom is heard clearly right around the ballroom. The young nervous waitress flinches as the crack and Michelle's loud cry fills the hall. The huge welt that rises almost instantly across her bottom shows the skill of the Guardian but already his second stroke powers down towards her bottom and there is another screech as it buries itself in the beautiful cheeks. He then turns and marches smartly off while Michelle stands slowly craning her head around to examine the horrible welts. Now she has to turn and face the audience and as they cheer she gives a weak grin and walks unsteadily back to the line. The audience applaud her.
"Well done Michelle." The compère is pompous. "A very well taken first caning and an excellent introduction to our Accountability session."
The audience notice that Michelle keeps craning around to look at her bottom and touch the welts. They find this amusing in a kindly way and several give her thumbs up which result in another weak smile though now she looks much happier.
Jane is next. She doesn't look especially nervous and takes her two with the wheel-selected strap very well. The young nervous waitress at the back wonders why the Guardian goes off every time and marches back in but she can see the audience like the drama of it. Emma gets four, also with the cane and clearly it hurts greatly for when she gets back in line she clutches her bottom the whole time. Mary gets six with the paddle which to our young waitress looks just like a cricket bat. Mary sobs at the first swat and does not take the next five stoically. Then Dita howls and sobs throughout her six with the cane.
The compère makes a joke about the wheel seeming to favour the cane this evening and Aileen is looking positively cheeky and making faces as the wheel turns around and around and a soft chant of "birch, birch" can be heard from the audience. The waitress notices that the women in the audience are just as anxious as the men for the birch to be applied to Aileen. There is huge applause when finally the wheel comes to rest on 'BIRCH' and Aileen creates laughter with her pantomime of fear and despair. She doesn't seem fearful as she makes her way to the bench and takes her position, although she grips the bar tightly and pulls a face at the thought of ten with the birch.
The young nervous waitress watches carefully as the Guardian comes back on, this time with a bucket containing the birch rod. She is intrigued but also frightened as if she was up on stage. The rod is made from a dozen or more thin whippy birch shoots. One end is bound into a long handle, perhaps two or three feet which gives it extra whipping power and a shorter spray at the other end of about a foot in diameter. The Guardian, whose face is impassive and with a back like a ram-rod, removes the birch and makes a show of swishing it through the air to remove the water. The waitress does not know that it is actually brine that the birch sat in.
The guardian steps into position and the waitress sees that he is going to give a powerful blow. It moves more slowly through the air because of the wind resistance and the nasty swishing can be heard clearly around the room for all are holding their breath. There is a strange 'shrack' sound as the birch wraps itself around her bottom leaving behind a nasty rash-like mark. Aileen lets out a restrained "Oooh" sound and the audience smile at it. They are all now leaning forward in their chairs watching intently.
The compère keeps count as the Guardian swishes the birch downwards crashing it against her bottom. Her cry is now shriller and louder, and she wriggles on the bench.
At each lash of the birch rod her cry becomes louder and more desperate and her wriggling bottom is angry with its rash-like marks; the rash covers the whole of her generous bottom and around onto her right hip. The audience is delighted as pieces of the birch fly around and Aileen's cries grow shriller.
Shrack! Shrack! Shrack!
As the seventh stroke crashes down onto her bottom Aileen bucks on the bench and the Guardian has to pause as she resettles herself into the submissive position needed for her whipping. The audience loves it and there is scattered applause when it happens.
Shrack! Shrack! The birch flays down onto her bottom. Now Aileen is writhing at each blow and her cries are shrill.
"Last one," calls the compère.
Aileen seems to sag on the bench with relief but already the birch is swishing loudly through the air towards her well-marked bottom. The shrack sound seems louder this time but perhaps it is because the audience has gone very still and is holding its collective breath. Aileen's head goes up and she yells out, "Bloody hell!"
The audience laughs and when Aileen stands shakily up they applaud loudly some even standing to do so. The other naked women give her a hand and they all file off as the band plays, some waving at the audience who give them sustained applause.
The young waitress turns to another one next to her. "Why do they do it?"
The older woman looks at her. "How the hell would I know? Ask one of them if you dare."
I remember vividly that day when I first saw Chapel Island. The sky was a dull grey and the wind blew strongly making the sea choppy; it should have been miserable but it lent a wild romance to the shape of the island.
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