It was a good thing that the semester was coming to a close and he could work a full eight hours without worrying about falling asleep flat on his face in the middle of a lecture. Being an Army ranger had taught him how to stay awake, but that stint had certainly set his education back. That is why at 31 he was still trying to get that degree.
The name on the letterhead was one he’d never seen before. He scratched his head as he wrested the mail from his box and climbed the rickety stairs to his ‘deluxe apartment’. What a joke---a 500 square foot efficiency in a crumbling brownstone. The name on the envelope read ‘Bowland, James and Carruthers, Solicitors’ and it was from an address in London, England. What the hell? He didn’t know anybody in London fricking England. He tore it open and read.
Dear Mr. Fairchild,
This is to inform you that Cranston Heatherton, your fourth cousin twice removed has passed away. According to the original deed of transfer of Heatherton Hall in fee tail from James Carlisle to Albert Heatherton in 1836, the estate and all its lands reverts to the heirs of James Carlisle in the event that the heir of Albert Heatherton die without issue. That event, sadly, has transpired. Sir Cranston Heatherton died without leaving a male heir, thus triggering the reversionary interest. While this may seem odd, it is still the law on Oakton Island, the ancestral home of Heatherton Hall. Our research into this matter has finally determined that you, Joshua T Fairchild, are the last living descendant of James Carlisle. Accordingly Heatherton Hall, its lands and its rents, now belongs to you.
We urge you to get in touch with us immediately as there are many details which require your attention.
It was signed “Charles Bowland, Solicitor.”
Josh scratched his head. This had to be a joke.
But later, as a few phone calls established, it was not. He had really inherited some country manor on an obscure island off the Southern coast of England. The meeting in London with Charles Bowland confirmed it. And that is why he was now on a ferry making its once-a-day trip to Oakton Island---and Heatherton Hall. Bowland’s knowledge had been sketchy. He had little information about the status of the estate other than ownership which he had followed dutifully on behalf of his original clients, the Carlisles.
“One thing I do know, of course, is that Cranston Heatherton died without a male heir. He had an only child, a daughter. I understand that she lives at Heatherton Hall along with Cranston’s mother. I don’t know what you intend to do. You are in fact the owner as the reversionary heir. There is also a staff that takes care of the manor. I will tell you that Oakton Island and its inhabitants are a bit odd. They stick to tradition. It is as if the modern world has passed them by.”
Josh took it all with a grain of salt. He was really just curious and anxious to see what he had. It was all so unbelievable---some accident of ancestry and he inherits
an estate. He figured he’d just look it over, sell it, and that would be that.
The name of the village was, appropriately, Carlisle. Heatherton Hall, he was told, was three miles to the south on a ten thousand acre tract. Twenty thousand people lived on Oakton Island, and most were either farmers, shepherds or fishermen. Oakton Island was not without its attractions, however, and one was the natural beauty of its shoreline. But with such natural beauty came modern problems, and chief among them was real estate development.
“The old timers don’t like these developers,” said a fellow traveler on the ferry, a salesman who made frequent trips to the island to sell dry goods. “The young people don’t either. They’ve been protesting. It’s all about the birds and the animals and such---they want to protect the shoreline. Some of it gets out of hand. There are arrests.” Then he chuckled. “So some of these kids leave the police station with a hot bottom.”
“What do you mean?” said Josh.
“You don’t know do you?”
Josh shook his head.
“Oakton Island still has the birch as a punishment for certain crimes, just like the Isle of Man. But the Isle of Man abolished it in the 1970’s. Not Oakton Island. No,
sir, these kids still get their bums swished.”
Josh took that in with some amazement. And he grew more amazed as the procedure was described to him.
“They make up a bundle o’ real whippy switches, see? Then they got a frame and they strap ‘em down real tidy. Their trousers come down or their skirts go up and then it’s a good dozen or so with that whippy rod, right on the bare breech.”
“What?” said Josh incredulously. “Girls too?”
“Girls too,” the salesman nodded. “They got’ em this matron. A stout one, she is. I’ve heard she’s worse on the girls than on the lads.”
Well, if that didn’t beat all, thought Josh. This place is different.
Josh had not announced his arrival. He thought it best to arrive first, get the lay of the land, and then ease into it. The current residents had to be apprehensive about the turn of events and honestly, Josh wasn’t sure what he was going to do. So he checked into a local bed and breakfast. After a late lunch, he decided to take a
And walked right into a protest. A crowd of youths with signs were shouting and chanting in front of a newer building, all glass and chrome. The sign on the glass front said “Seddon and Company.” Josh assumed that this was the developer. A man came out and waved at the collection of twenty or so young people, telling them to disperse. They merely shouted back. Voices became more heated. Objects were thrown. Not a minute later a police car showed up, then a paddy wagon. Three or four constables began to chase down the protestors. Everyone scattered. Another squad car arrived from a different direction and officers poured out.
Josh heard a voice coming from behind him.
“Here, take my arm---like we’re out for a stroll.”
Startled, Josh looked at who was speaking to him. It was a young woman with curly shoulder length blonde hair who had appeared at his side. She looked to be in her mid to late twenties. And pretty. Very pretty. The blonde inserted her arm in his and tugged him away from the melee.
“Damn coppers! They brought in reinforcements. C’mon. This way,” she said, tugging him down an alley. Amused, Josh went along, looking over his shoulder for the pursuit. The girl looked around apprehensively, then pulled him into a corner.
“What do you need me for?” he asked, chuckling. He had to laugh. Here he was, just arrived and he was being pulled along by this attractive woman who had apparently been one of the protesters.
“Cover,” she said. Then she gasped as two police entered the alley. “Quick! Kiss me,” she said, grabbing Josh and planting a big kiss on his lips. She reached around and pulled him close. “Do it like you mean it!” she whispered and renewed what seemed to Josh like a pretty passionate smooch.
Josh responded to the feel of her body pressed against his and embraced her. It was a nice feeling. So nice that he enthusiastically reciprocated on the kiss too, and she tensed up, now surprised that he responded with such fervor. They were locked in a clinch when one of police shouted.
“What are you two doing there? Were you with those demonstrators?”
Josh looked up and turned toward the officers, gallantly shielding her with his body. He drew himself up and stated as indignantly as he could , “Certainly not. We were out walking, just looking for a quiet place to…”
The officers laughed. “We know what you two were about. Go find a room then.” They turned and left. Josh breathed a sigh of relief and said, “Well, miss they’re gone. I guess I….” He turned to find no one there. His mystery girlfriend had run out the other end of the alley. Josh scratched his head. What the hell was that all about?
Eventually he found his way to Heatherton Hall. The place was huge. It was all stone and probably covered over fifty thousand square feet distributed over three stories. The house stood in a picture postcard setting with a view of the ocean and surrounded by lush green hills. The grounds were manicured and gorgeous. This place is worth what? Millions? He found himself stunned.
Josh decided that the direct approach was the best. He strode up and knocked on the door. It was opened by an older gentleman in formal wear. He looked Josh up and down with apparent disdain.
“The tradesman’s entrance is in the rear.”
“Uh, I’m not selling anything. You see, I’m Josh Fairchild. They tell me that I, well, sort of inherited this place.”
The man raised his eyebrows. From inside came a voice. “Griggs, please invite the gentleman in.” An older woman, perhaps in her seventies, appeared in the foyer inside the door. The man addressed as Griggs ushered Josh inside. The woman gave Josh a long look, sizing him up.
“We have been expecting you, Mr. Fairchild. Although I must say we did not know quite what to expect. Is it typical of Americans to barge in unannounced?”
Josh realized that this had been a dumb idea. “I’m sorry. Maybe I should come back at a better time. I just wanted to see the estate. I had no idea.” He turned to leave.
“No, no. Come along,” said the woman, motioning for him to follow. “You are just in time for tea.” She turned. “Where is your luggage?”
Josh explained that his luggage was at the B&B in Carlisle. The woman said she’d send a man to fetch everything. “You should stay here, Mr. Fairchild. After all, you are the heir and thus the Earl of Carlisle.”
This was another revelation. He was an Earl? What was that?
He was shown the way into the parlor and a silver tea service was brought in by Griggs. The woman introduced herself. She was the Dowager Countess Lydia Heatherton, the mother of the late Cranston Heatherton who was, in turn, the father of Lady Gwyneth.
“Lady who?” asked Josh.
“My granddaughter. A feisty handful, if you must know. Oh, here she is, late as usual.”
At the sound of footsteps Josh turned toward the door. What greeted his eyes was a lovely young woman about his age with curly blonde hair wearing a long dress that did little to hide the delectable figure underneath.
“You!” she exclaimed.
“You!” said Josh. It was the girl from this morning, the one he’d kissed.
“Have you two met?” asked Mrs. Heatherton.
“Um, sort of, granny. After a fashion.” She shot Josh a look that said ‘don’t you dare tell.’
Lady Heatherton raised her eyebrows at that, but did not pursue it. Instead she proceeded to explain about the estate, its lands and its employees and the tragedy of Cranston’s death. Then she said, “Now tell us who you are, young man.”
Josh told them about his youth in the American Midwest, which was rather ordinary, his military service and his struggle to pay his way to earn a degree in civil engineering. He told them he’d had no knowledge of his lineage or that he was related to anyone here, and that the inheritance had been a total shock. All the while, he felt Granny sizing him up and Lady Gwyneth eyeing him curiously as if he were some strange breed of animal she’d never encountered.
“Well, young man, I hope you’ll do. These are troubling times for Heatherton Hall what with all these real estate people. And my granddaughter is not helping,” she said directing a withering look at Gwyneth, “by throwing in with these ruffian protesters from the mainland.”
The look told Josh she wholeheartedly disapproved of those tactics. Little did she know. Then she announced that tea was at an end. Dinner would be at eight. Josh was to dress accordingly. Perhaps Cranston’s clothes would fit.
So at precisely eight o’clock a formal dinner was served by an assortment of what Josh was told were footmen. After that there was brandy in the study and more conversation about Heatherton Hall and Oakton Island.
“You can appreciate that it was quite a shock to learn that an American was the heir of James Carlisle,” said Lady Lydia.
“You can appreciate that I was as shocked as you were,” said Josh. At that point all retired for the evening. Josh’s head was still swirling as he was shown to his room, a one thousand square foot suite with a monstrous four poster bed. When he awoke the next morning sun streamed through the window and birds were chirping. Josh beheld the beauty of the grounds and surrounding hills through the immense floor-to-ceiling window that dominated one wall. Wow! All I can say is, wow! He thought. He decided to stay at least a while and figure out what to do next.
The next few days were an education, mostly at the hands of Gwyneth, who was friendly but guarded, and Lady Lydia who instructed him on island culture and the history of the Heathertons and Carlisles. Josh was beginning to feel more at ease, and less like a stranger.
The next day Gwyneth took him on an extended tour of the estate.
“It’s beautiful here,” said Josh.
“Yes, it is a special place to us. Not only because of its beauty but because of the people. We support generations of farmers and shepherds who live on the land and work it. It’s a business, the largest one on Oakton Island.”
“You’re afraid it all goes away with these developers moving in.”
“Yes. And what about you?” Her mood shifted to angry. “You’re probably going to sell out to them too. Just a money grubbing American.”
“Wait a minute,” Josh said, catching her arm. “You don’t know anything about me.” He’d been thinking about that, what he would do. What he couldn’t get past was that kiss, and the way her body had molded to his. She was a fireball, that was sure, but that passion just seemed to make her all the more attractive.
What Josh didn’t realize was that she was having feelings too. Josh was a good looking guy. And the way he had quickly sized up her situation at the protest and deflected the cops---not to mention that kiss and the feel of that muscular body. Beside that, dare she hope that as master of Heatherton Hall that he would help them? Could he assume the role and thwart the forces assembling to change Oakton Island and their way of life? To do that, Gwyneth decided, he was going to have to understand what being the Earl might mean.
Dinner was served each evening promptly at eight. It was a formal affair that Josh was getting somewhat used to. But each day brought new revelations with which Josh was trying to cope. It was after dinner a night or two later that the next surprise was revealed.
“I hate to inform you, madam,” said Griggs the butler, addressing Mrs. Heatherton, “but two maids are on report.” Both Gwyneth and Mrs. Heatherton looked nonplussed at this news.
“Oh, dear,” said Lydia Heatherton. “What shall we do?”
“Daddy always handled maids on report,” whispered Gwyneth.
“What do you mean, ‘on report’?” This sounded ominous.
“I’ll tell you later,” she said. She addressed Griggs. “What happened, Griggs?”
“Jane and Millie were roughhousing in the gallery instead of doing their duties. A disagreement of some sort. They broke your late mother’s blue flowered vase, I’m sorry to say. A complete dereliction of duty and conduct most unbecoming,” said Griggs solemnly. Then he produced the broken pieces of the blue vase.
“What shall we do?” said Mrs. Heatherton again. “Cranston always handled these things. No one has been on report since he died.”
“What the hell is ‘on report?’” whispered Josh.
Gwyneth put her napkin down. “I suppose I shall have to tend to it, granny. We cannot expect our American cousin to just jump in---even though as the Earl and lord of Heatherton Hall, it is his job.”
“Will someone tell me what is going on?” Josh felt like he was the only one in the room not in on the secret.
“Tell Mrs. Finch to prepare a rod---no, make that two. And tell the girls to report to the library in an half an hour.”
“At once, Lady Gwyneth,” said Griggs, who then turned and left. “Come with me,” she said to Josh.
When they were in the library she shut the door. “Our staff,” she said, “are like family. Generations have been in service here at Heatherton Hall. No one ever gets fired. But as in all families there are behavior lapses and discipline problems. This is apparently the end result of a long standing feud between Jane and Millie. They have been warned about this before. Now it has resulted in damage. Griggs was right to put them on report.”
“So what happens now?”
“What happens now is that they will both receive a flogging.”
Josh let this sink in. “A flogging? Are you kidding?” This was 2013, not 1913.
“I know our ways may seem odd to you, but it is part of the compact that has served all of us for generations. Perhaps you have heard that the birch is in use for certain offenses here on the Island, so it is part of our culture. Only…”
“Daddy did this. Always. Ever since I can remember. As the lord of Heatherton Hall, it was his duty. He was the ultimate authority.”
“And therefore the new earl should do it, newcomer or not,” said Lydia Heatherton.
“Granny!” said Gwyneth. “You can’t expect him to…”
“Why not?” shot back Lady Heatherton. “He’s the earl now. It’s his job, like it or not.”
Josh’s head was swimming. This was happening all too fast. “Now wait a minute. I can’t come in here and just start…what? Flogging maids?”
Then Gwyneth, seeing his obvious discomfort, smiled a wicked smile. “Oh, yes, you can. And you must. Tradition must be preserved,” she intoned.
“But how do you do this?” Josh was still in a state of disbelief.
“Easy,” said Gwyneth. “I was tennis champion in my class and a prefect at my boarding school in Scotland. I think I know what to do,” she said with confidence.
“I’ll show you.”
Then Mrs. Finch, who Josh gathered was some sort of head downstairs maid, arrived. She carried a pair of sheaves bound at one end with twine. Gwyneth picked up a rod and swished it about. It was made up of a bundle of thin switches about three feet long and very swishy. “The lady bends over the back of a chair. You take the rod and line it up on her derriere, like so.” Gwyneth took one of the rods and stood so that the end was centered on the chair back. “Then you pull back and using arm and elbow whip it down right on the crowns of her bottom. Don’t forget a little flick of the wrist at the end,” she said with a smile. “You’ve played tennis before, haven’t you?” Josh nodded dumbly. “Good,” she said. “Just like that. Give it your best forehand.” She handed it to Josh who took it and stared at it like an alien thing.
Griggs entered with the girls, both of whom were pale and nervous. They wore black uniforms with white trim, dresses that came to mid calf. Jane was a tall slender brunette, Millie a petite but voluptuous redhead.
“You know why you are here,” said Griggs to the girls. “You should be ashamed of yourselves. Fighting in the gallery when you should have been about your work. Shameful.”
“What was this about, Jane?” asked Gwyneth.
“It’s about my boyfriend,” Jane began.
“Your boyfriend?” snorted Millie, interrupting. “He’s with me now. I’ll sort you out.”
Gwyneth held her hands up. “All right, all right. I get the gist of it. But you are going to have to sort out your disagreements without resorting to fisticuffs.” She looked pointedly at each. “I’m sorry but Griggs was right to put you on report. And you know what that means.”
“Oh no, Lady Gwyneth, please. We’ll not fight in future,” pleaded Jane.
“Yes please,” said Millie, suddenly sober and eying the rods nervously.
Gwyneth shook her head. “No. This is not the first time. I’m afraid it’s six for each of you.” She inclined her head toward Josh. “Ladies, this is the new master of Heatherton Hall. You will accept your punishment from him.”
Both maids gasped when they beheld the young robust American flexing the birch rod in his hands. This prompted more pleas for forgiveness but Griggs and Gwyneth stood firm. Finally when all supplications had been exhausted, Gwyneth said, “Over the backs of the chairs, both of you. Skirts well up.”
They were to be whipped on their bare bottoms. Truly amazing. Josh could hardly believe what he was watching. And I have to do this.
Jane and Millie approached the pair of chairs and raised their skirts. Josh felt a tightening in his groin. Both girls were attractive. Underneath the skirts both wore silk black panties framed by a garter belt and stockings. Two very attractive bottoms came into view, Jane’s compact but perfectly heart shaped derriere, and Millie’s bottom, a pair of plump rounded orbs that jutted out prominently. When both had bent over, placing hands on the chair seats, Gwyneth said, “Mrs. Finch, if you please.”
Josh just about fell through the floor as Mrs. Finch strode over and peeled down two sets of panties to lay bare both quivering bottoms. Griggs leaned in and whispered, “The rod is always applied bare breech, sir. It is tradition.” Josh nodded as if he understood.
In the meantime Josh fingered the rod in his hand. It was nearly three feet long, and the switches splayed out, fan style, at the business end. He stepped to Millie’s side and tapped her seat, lining it up.
“Six strokes, Millie and Jane. Mr. Fairchild shall alternate between you, one stroke at a time, until we are done. You will hold your position. Are you ready?”
A muffled ‘yes, Lady Gwyneth’ issued from both miscreants.
Josh drew back. The rod paused at the top arc of his swing. It whined as the switches whipped through the air. The rod landed square on the crowns of Millie’s buttocks with a sharp thwick!
Millie hissed in pain. Faint red lines sprang up across her flesh.
Josh moved to stand beside Jane. Another whish…thwick! Sang out as the rod swept across Jane’s bottom.
“Ow, Sir!” she yelped.
Josh gritted his teeth. He felt that he was being played by a mischievous Gwyneth. He had seen that wicked gleam in eye when Mrs. Heatherton had suggested that he wield the rod. But now there was no help for it. He’d play along for now, but there would be a reckoning.
Josh proceeded to apply the rod, moving from one girl to the other, carefully lining up before delivering the stroke with a smooth arm motion and a little flick of the wrist at the end. It certainly made an impression. The whick! of the rod was the dominant sound in the room. Both girls hissed and stamped their feet, trying to shift position to alleviate the sting. Bottoms clenched then jiggled lightly as the rod struck. The faint lines multiplied, merging into a reddish hue. Toward the end Jane and Millie became more vocal expressing their discomfort with a series of ‘ouches’ and pleas for leniency as feet shuffled and bottoms quivered.
“There,” said Gwyneth after Josh had delivered the last stroke to Jane’s bottom. “You may rise.”
Both girls pulled their panties up and rose, turning around to face Gwyneth. Their faces were red and their eyes were distinctly watery. Millie put a hand up to wipe away a tear. Jane sniffled.
“Now, we’ll have no more fighting, especially on duty. Is that understood?”
“Yes, ma’am,” both said, nearly in unison.
“You will both apologize to Mr. Fairchild,” said Gwyneth.
“We’re sorry, sir,” said both maids practically in unison. Josh nodded.
“Mr Fairchild is now the lord of Heatherton Hall and his arm is quite strong as you have just experienced, so behave yourselves. You are dismissed.”