COURT OF HONOUR
sat with half a dozen other women, of all ages, along one side of a cheerless
stone vaulted chamber. It was well lit by lamps ranged round the walls and
sparsely furnished with two large closets at each end, and a variety of frames,
benches, blocks and a pillory.
Donna Magdala, the implacable President of the court,
sat in the centre of the row and cast a stony eye on seven penitents, barefoot
and clad in the simple red robe that Julietta wore. They stood, eyes cast
humbly down, their wrists crossed decorously across their bellies.
All the ladies of the house being assembled, their
President called them to order.
“This court of honour is now in session, for the
proper care of your souls through the suffering of your bodies. Step forward, Marina!”
A youngster of no more than eighteen moved to the
centre of the room and stood directly in front of her judge. She looked very
frightened. Arabella guessed that this was her first time attending the court,
certainly as a penitent.
“You are in my book by your own report for wearing
dirty linen, to wit: spots on your cuffs and collar, while you have been
reported by others for being late for meals and for not curtseying to your
elders. Do you have anything to say?”
The girl’s lip trembled as she mumbled a low
“Very well then,” the President continued, “for your
failure to display a proper pride in your appearance you will receive two cuts
with the cane. For your lack of punctuality two strokes, and for your failure
to demonstrate a proper respect for your superiors four cuts; all to be
delivered to your bare buttocks. Afterwards,” she added, “you will stand in the
corner with your hands on the back of your neck and display your stripes to the
room. Now prepare yourself.”
The girl pulled her gown over her head, revealing
that, as Arabella had suspected, the penitents were naked underneath. The young
but well-formed body shivered as she put the gown down by the wall and returned
to her place.
One of Arabella’s neighbours, a gaunt woman whose
bleak face suggested that she would not spare the girl the full strength of the
wiry arm revealed by her rolled sleeve, opened one of the closets and selected
a long yellow length of misery, bending it between her hands and making a
slashing cut at the air as much to intimidate the girl as to test the quality
of the rod. She indicated a spot on the floor with the tip of her virulent
“Stand here and face the end wall, with your feet
well apart,” she commanded, “now, bend and lay your fingers on your toes. I
must warn you that you will incur penalties should your fingers leave their
place before you are given permission to rise.”
Arabella was sure that the girl, brought up in this
household, must have experienced the rod many times during her growth to
womanhood, but this first encounter with the formality and intimidating
surroundings of the court, to say nothing of a thoroughly adult cane, had
undermined her resolve to the point where she was already sobbing with fear
before a blow fell. Her knees trembled and the fleshy cheeks of her bottom
clenched and unclenched in fearful anticipation of the agony to come.
“Pull yourself together, girl!” admonished the gaunt
executioner. “Remember you’re a woman now, here to take a woman’s part and a
woman’s smart, for the honour of this house.”
Encouraged so, the girl visibly took herself in hand
and stiffened her legs, stilling her twitching rear and stifling her sobs. With
practised skill, the grim whip-mistress measured the full white rounds and laid
on a cut that thrummed through the air before burrowing its way into the girl’s
The cry forced from her throat was bitten short as
she fought to acquit herself well at this, her first thrashing at the court now
that she was woman, not a child. Her
hinds writhed as the dark welt rose in them, but she battled with the rising
pain and readied herself for the next strokes.
As each cruel bite worried deep into her, just above
the joint of thigh and cheek, her response became more urgent before she could
cut it off and her fingers clawed at her ankles to prevent the lift that would
bring not only disgrace, but also more of these lancing lines of fire. Eight
would be enough for her; she was not anxious for extra. The last two strokes
thucked into a thick band of blueberry bruise and nearly undid her, but she
hung on to survive.
Permission granted, she straightened
herself painfully and clasped her hands behind her neck to keep them from
unauthorised easing of the agony in her behind. As she walked stiff-legged to
her place in the corner, watched by a line of very solemn fellow penitents, the
President called after her.
“A good beginning, Marina. See that you behave as
well on your next correction.” Then, turning to the unhappy line in front.
“I’ll take you next, Violetta.”
Violetta was a stunningly beautiful woman of about
thirty. Her clear white skin was that of a girl and her long glossy black hair
fell below the straight shoulders. Her
simple gown did not conceal the excellence of her tall feminine curves.
“You came here, Violetta, because your beauty,
combined with your sensual nature, had led you into such a sexual morass with
both men and women that you did not know which way to turn. I ordered you a
period of total chastity, but now, by your own report, you have been guilty of
masturbation. Do I state your position fairly?”
“Yes, Madam,” the beautiful penitent answered humbly.
“I beg you to correct my fault and help me control my sensuous nature.”
The President considered her with a thoughtful
expression, as the penitent stood with head bowed, before replying.
“In cases such as yours, it is often recommended that
the clitoris should be either excised, or burnt out with a hot iron.” The bowed
“However,” her judge continued, “I am very loathe to
order mutilation of so lovely a body and we will persevere for the present. You
will receive one dozen cuts with the cane while bent over the horse and a
further four strokes of the leather thong, delivered with you on your back on
the bench and falling on your vulva, especially that part that I have just
Moreover, you will be secured in such a manner that
you will have to voluntarily open your thighs to the thong.” She fixed her
victim with a steely eye. “If you are unwilling or unable to do so, then we
shall have to revert to that mutilation that you are, no doubt, as anxious to
avoid as I. Afterwards you will bestride the bar until the court is dismissed.”
A murmur greeted this dire sentence and the woman paled,
but removed her gown and walked with a head held high to the leather covered
horse. Standing with parted feet at one end, with her pubic mound pressed
against the rounded padding, she bent forward and laid her body along the
length of the horse. Since the far end was several inches lower than that
against which she pressed her belly, the effect was to cant up her pelvis and
fetch her up on her toes. The same executioner then passed a broad strap of her
waist and under the horse, pulling it tight to the last possible hole and then
used lighter straps to secure the ankles to the near legs and her wrists to the
far. The position balanced the boon of not requiring the taxing effort to stay
down under torment with exposing the bottom and especially the under-cheek in a
stretched and rigid condition, where the cane would bruise and worry all the
deeper. Even the slightest movement to try and dissipate the pain was quite
Fixed in this immobile attitude, the woman fought
bravely to maintain control. As the yellow brand burnt into her sleek, curved
haunches, she choked and gasped and in between moaned her agony, but a dozen is
a long hard road and the gaunt woman with the rod had already demonstrated that
she combined accuracy with strength. As each blow cut into the same narrow
strip of underhang, each falling on darker and more empurpled flesh, Violetta’s
cries became more shrill and each of the last three assaults on her beautiful
rear was greeted by a scream.
Nor was the worst over for her. Released from the
horse she was led, sobbing, to a leather topped bench and made to sit on her
wounded behind at one end of it, then told to lie back along its length. Her
wrists were drawn down and back to be secured to the feet at her head, and her
waist again firmly fixed by a broad strap. Now her knees were together and bent
so that her bare feet rested on the cold stone slabs.
The thong, for which the executioner had exchanged
her terrible cane, was about two feet long, made of leather about a half inch
wide and a quarter thick, very black and supple and tapering along its length.
Its merciless wielder stood at Violetta’s left, her knee pressed tight against
the penitent’s left arm, where it ran done to be tethered to the bench foot.
“Open your legs, Violetta, and present your vulva for
the thong,” came the order.
Moaning, she obeyed and the leather flashed down
between her thighs, branding the belly, searing the labia and bruising the
clitoris sheltering beneath. The length of the blow had been carefully judged
so that the tip just reached far enough to curl up and strike the already
excoriated fold of the under cheek, where it was so sorely squeezed by the end
of the bench although had it not been so the way would have been open for the
tip to have bitten the brown rose of the anus itself.
As it was, the combined agony was too much for the
suffering beauty’s resolve. She screamed
aloud and her legs jacked together, her feet leaving the floor and threshing
frantically in the air.
When she had calmed a little, she was ordered to
expose herself again. With much reluctance she obeyed and again the thong
slashed at her secret places. Shrieks and convulsions marked the stroke, but
her inexorable torturer growled at her to open again. Even through her agony,
the martyred woman could feel her labia parting as their bruised flesh swelled
and opened up her red gash and swollen clitoris. As she spread her thighs the
cool air on that tender bud and the delicate inner lips brought home to her
that there would be nothing to impede the lash next time. Her pink slit and
tumescent bud above would be ravaged and devastated by the blow beyond anything
she had endured till now. Her courage almost failed her as her thighs closed of
their own volition. Twice she forced them open and, before the lash could
descend, they snapped shut on her. Finally, driven by threats of even worst
treatment of her bud, she got them to stay open momentarily and, as her knees
wavered, the leather slashed between them directly into her unprotected softest
It was as bad as her worst fears. The thong lacerated
her inner lips and turned her crushed clitoris into a seething cauldron of
unremitting agony. Her body shrieked and spasmed beyond her control for a
minute or more before she subsided into racking sobs, her knees rubbing
More growled threats from by her head failed to ready
her. She tried desperately to open her thighs and three times they parted an
inch, only to clench defensively tight again.
“I see we shall have to cut or burn out your centre,”
observed the President coldly, “since you are unable to control your body.”
The terrified woman broke.
“Mercy, Madam, mercy,” she babbled, “I could not face
the knife or the iron. I beg you, let someone hold me open, for my body will not
Donna Magdala nodded to two of the remaining, now
ashen faced, penitents.
“This leniency will cost you a further stroke,” she
With a penitent at each knee, pulling her thighs into
a wide vee, Violetta screamed her way through two more mound splitting lashes
before being released from her bed of pain.
But that was not the end of her torment. Torn by
hiccupping sobs, the wretched woman was half carried, half dragged to the
dreaded wedge. A simple and apparently innocuous trestle, the top bar was
formed into a narrow wedge with its point uppermost. The pain wracked victim
was made to stand astride the trestle, her feet on low stools either side and
lower her already lacerated vulva, its swollen lips gaping wide, onto the
middle of the bar, where the sharp edged wood was already blackened and oily
from the secretions of the many women who had suffered there before her. Her
wrists were tied behind her back and the stools removed, leaving her whole
weight on her aching centre. Cords secured her ankles to the lower rails to
ensure her balance and make any attempt to ease her position impossible.
As she sat there moaning, Arabella reflected that the
road to chastity was hard, but that this woman, for one, would not be in any
condition to seek sensual satisfaction for a week or more and that for the rest
of her stay at Petraverdi, the fear of knife or hot iron on her clitoris would
keep her fingers from it.
While Violetta was being mounted on her agonizing
steed, another youngster, new to womanhood, had been disposed of. She had been reported for running down the
corridors in an un-ladylike manner and received four stiff cuts with the cane
and condemned to place six pieces of lead shot in each shoe every day for a
week, to encourage her to walk with more circumspection. Arabella observed
that, although the more mature women were treated with minatory severity, the
youngsters, only just entering adult discipline, were not driven harder than
their tender years could bear.
The President was addressing the depleted rank of
“I’ll take you next, Julietta,” she announced and her
niece stepped forward, her face pale and apprehensive.
“You have come back to your home because you fear the
responsibilities thrown upon you at such an early age by the high position into
which you have been thrust and the dangers and threats from jealous new
kinsfolk, to which you will be exposed. After careful consideration I have
decided that your spirit should be hardened and your fortitude reinforced by a
prolonged exposure to physical pain. You will therefore report to my room every
night for the duration of your stay here and receive six strokes of the cane
before retiring. This will, of course, be in addition to any discipline you may
incur at our weekly courts.
“Moreover,” Donna Magdala added, “you will wear a
crotch chain, drawn up to the mark set for you, night and day, until further
notice. Your regime of the rod will start tonight, with a double dose. Do you
have anything to say?”
“No, Madam. I accept your judgement.” Julietta
swallowed nervously. “I have to report to the court that I have been guilty of
embarrassing an invited guest by asking personal questions, prompted by
observations made during the privacy of her toilette.”
“Indeed. And what was the nature of these
observations and your impertinent questions?”
Julietta looked very unhappy and seemed about to
refuse to answer. Arabella leapt to her friend’s aid.
“If you please, Madam, I am the guest referred
to. May I speak on behalf of the Lady
Donna Magdala looked at her narrowly.
“You may speak.”
Arabella stood, her eyes cast down and her wrists
crossed on her belly, as she had seen all the other women do, when addressing
“I carry on my breasts the marks of a whip. They are
the result of a duel I fought with another woman in London.” A low murmur ran
round the audience. “The Lady Julietta very kindly attended me when I was
taking my bath and, quite naturally, noticed and remarked on the bruises still
visible and my inflamed nipples.
Although I had hoped to have left all reference to their cause behind me
when I came to Sicily, I was not truly embarrassed to be asked about my wounds
and told my story freely, as I do now.”
She lifted her eyes to look directly at the President.
“I humbly ask that you pardon her fault, if fault there be.”
Donna Magdala lips formed a thin smile.
“When you come to know this court better, you will
know that its most cherished tradition is that nothing, but nothing, is ever
pardoned and leniency is very rare. I
cannot overlook Julietta’s fault, but, in deference to your pretty advocacy, I
shall award her only three cuts, where six would be the norm.”
Arabella bowed and took her seat again. Not much
mitigation achieved perhaps, but she did not like to think of what penalty her
friend might have incurred had she, out of mistaken consideration for
Arabella’s feelings, refused to answer the questions of the court.
Dutifully Julietta stripped and stood wide-legged
while the gaunt woman, who seemed to be the executioner of all the sentences
that evening, fitted a strong leather belt about her hips. Hanging from the
front of the belt was a silvery chain of thick square links ending in a short
strap, pierced with holes to engage with a buckle sewn to the back of the
belt. Reaching through the spraddled
thighs from the rear, she drew the chain between Julietta’s legs, parting the
labia with one hand to let it press directly on the clitoris and other
sensitive parts, before threading the strap part through the buckle. She pulled up on the strap to achieve maximum
tension and had Julietta arching up on her toes and gasping at the violence
done to her soft parts, but the woman wasn’t satisfied and gave one more yank
on the tab until the utmost tension was achieved.
With an awkward stiff-legged gait Julietta crossed
the chamber and laid herself dutifully on the same bench where Violetta’s vulva
had been savaged, but on her front, the end of the bench just under her mons,
her breasts squeezed out to either side by the leather padding. Arabella
subsequently learnt that the bench was customarily permitted for all whippings
of nine cuts or more. The poor youngster, with her eight, had been unfortunate
in having to demonstrate the extra self-discipline involved in taking her cuts
bending and unsecured. Perhaps Donna Magdala had set the dose with just that in
A spreader bar was flexed between the ankles, holding
them some two feet or more apart, the customary tight waist strap held her
belly to the bench and canted her hips up to meet the cane and her hands were
taken out of harm’s way by tying them, wrist to elbow, behind her back. The flogging of the well-presented rear
Julietta was a mature Petraverdi woman, well used to
the rod and at first was able to absorb its bite with no more than a jerk of
her body and a gasp of breath, but Arabella sensed that fifteen with that
vicious rod in the hands of an expert, as the executioner undoubtedly was,
could not be contained indefinitely. With her usual accuracy, aided by being
able to cut downwards in this position, the woman was laying the strokes right
in the crease and building a very considerable blood-blue bruise. By seven Julietta was greeting each cut with
an anguished cry and writhing in her bonds.