Turn of The Century
A One-Act Play
Place: The London Home of Lord and Lady Cliveden
Time: Early evening, December 30, 1899
The Characters: Charlotte, the 16-year-old daughter of Lord Cliveden
Lady Caroline, her stepmother
The bedroom of Lord and Lady Cliveden. Lady Cliveden, a beautiful woman with red hair, is wearing a dressing gown and seated on the bed, facing the audience. At stage left there is a dresser and mirror. At stage right stands a large Chinese screen. Charlotte enters from a door at the rear. She is also wearing a dressing gown.
CHARLOTTE: You sent for me Caroline? I was preparing to dress for dinner.
CAROLINE: Yes I did, and please call me mummy as you father has instructed.
CHARLOTTE: But you are not my mother, you are barely ten years my senior.
CAROLINE: Actually eight years. That is neither here nor there. I am married to your father and you are, as he has repeatedly instructed, to call me mummy.
CHARLOTTE: Very well, (sarcastically) mummy, why have you summoned me?
CAROLINE: To chastise you for disobeying your father's instructions and seeing Nigel Gant in private. Mr. Gant is a bounder interested only in your virtue and your money. You were told not to be alone in his presence yet you chose to violate your father's trust. (Charlotte shakes her head) Do not play the innocent. You were seen this afternoon entering Mr. Gant's rooms. Now you must be punished for your transgression.
CHARLOTTE: (nervously twisting her hands) What do you mean?
CAROLINE: I mean the only thing that works with a willful child, corporal punishment. I know that the scandalously progressive school you attend has eschewed the use of the cane. This has left a serious gap in your upbringing, which I intend to correct.
CHARLOTTE: You will not lay a finger on me, you vile bitch.
CAROLINE: (She stands, walks over to Charlotte, and slaps her right cheek. Stunned, Charlotte covers her face with her hands.) Let us be clear with each other. Before her tragic accident the first Lady Cliveden would spank your bottom whenever she thought it necessary. You were only ten when she died and your father has foolishly neglected to assume that responsibility. When he heard you defied his wishes and went to Mr. Gant's rooms he told me that he was going to trash you with a riding crop and cast you out. Since you had decided to act like a whore he said you could walk streets and become a professional.
CHARLOTTE: (visibly shaken) But that is wrong. Mr. Gant and I merely had tea. I still have my virtue.
CAROLINE: That may be so, but only I am in a position to inform your father concerning his daughter's honor. You see he knows Mr. Gant. Lord Cliveden was personally responsible for having Gant cashiered from his Guard's Regiment for stealing from the Officer's Mess. He despises the man and everyone associated with him. To learn that his daughter has been having liaison with this cad was too much. His rage was such that I had to insist he spend the night at his club for fear he might do something he would regret forever.
CHARLOTTE: But Caroline nothing happened beyond conversation with Mr. Gant. Granted I do find him very attractive in the way dangerous men are attractive to women, but on my honor nothing untoward occurred.
CARLOINE: You little fool. You continue to insult me by addressing me by my Christian name instead of as 'mummy' and you prattle on about your honor. Understand, your fate is in my hands. Your father will believe what I tell him. Every since I came into his life last Christmas you have looked down upon me, viewed me as if I were a servant. Well young missy the worm has turned and now I have the power to save or destroy your comfortable life. If you do not submit to me you can leave before Lord Cliveden returns in the morning. Should you be here when he comes back I will tell him that I found you to be no longer a virgin. He will cast you out, but first he will take his riding crop and trash you mercilessly and with fury. If, on the other hand, you submit to my will I will give you a proper spanking with complete professional dispassion. Then you may resume your role as the well cared for young daughter of one of the richest men in England.
CHARLOTTE: (sounding defeated) I will submit to you Caroline (she hesitates) I mean mummy.
CAROLINE: Very well. Disrobe and put on this chemise. (Charlotte walks toward the screen. Caroline reaches out and stops her). No need for that. Remember, I was a governess, I have watched children get undressed before. (Charlotte sighs, turns her back to the audience and begins to remove her clothing. She is a beautiful young girl. Uncommonly pretty, she has a slender body on the cusp of full blown womanhood.) (Caroline circles her and speaks.) Well, I can see you have far more than money to offer Mr. Gant. You have a delicious young body. Look, your breasts have the size and firmness of avocado and I'll wager there is not a more exquisite young bottom in all of London. (Blushing, Charlotte quickly dons the chemise, which ends just above the knees. Because of the way the stage is lit the outlines of her body are visible underneath the thin white cotton.) Well, let us proceed. (Caroline sits back down on the bed and motions Charlotte to stand at her right side.) I want you to lie across my lap. That's right. Rest you legs on the bed. Now place your elbows on the bed and arch your back a little. Good. First I am going to warm you up with a hand spanking to prepare you for the hairbrush. Oh, don't shudder. You deserve this and you know it. Ready Charlotte?
CHARLOTTE: Yes, mummy.
(Caroline places her left hand on the girl's waist, raises her right arm and brings her palm down sharply on Charlotte's bottom. The girls yelps, more in shock than pain. Then Caroline spanks steadily, establishing a rhythm and striking alternate cheeks at a rate of one spank per second. It is a relentless whacking.
CAROLINE: Now that was not so terrible, was it my dear?
CHARLOTTE: No (humiliated, she sobs) mummy.
CAROLINE: Well I am afraid you have earned a much harsher punishment. Please get up and fetch my hairbrush from the dressing table.
(Weeping now, Charlotte rises and walks over to the table. She picks up the brush, a large Victorian piece, and walks back to Caroline as if in a trance. Once again she spreads herself over the woman's lap.)
CAROLINE: This will smart a great deal Charlotte. I only hope that after the sting fades away you will remember this lesson the next time you think of defying Lord Cliveden's wishes.
CHARLOTTE: Yes mummy (she replies in a shaky voice).
(Caroline grasps Charlotte's waist more securely this time. She raises the chemise, baring Caroline's bottom. Then she raises the brush, takes aim, and brings it down sharply on the girl's posterior. A crack reverberates across the stage. Charlotte cries out in shock and involuntarily kicks her right leg. Then upon the left cheek. With a steady rising and falling arm, Caroline establishes a rhythm. Again and again the brush cracks down on Charlotte's nether cheeks. The girl begins to cry out in real distress. Her hands clutch frantically at the bed spread, her legs scissor up and down. The harsh spanking continues unabated. She begins to beg and plead for the beating to end, then she just weeps and sobs like a helpless child. Finally, after about five dozen smacks from the brush, Caroline ends the spanking. Charlotte is left sobbing and gasping for breath.)
CAROLINE: There, there, my dear, you have been taught an important lesson. For your own sake do not forget it. Remember two things. First, as long as we share a roof I will treat you as my daughter and second, I believe firmly that a spared rod results in a spoiled child. Now let me see if your protests of virtue were based on fact. (She places her hand under the girl's chemise and begins to probe.) Why you sweet minx, you are sopping wet. There, I see you are indeed still intact. Let us see what else we can find? What is this hard little nub? (Caroline's hand is moving under the chemise and Charlotte is starting to moan. They are not sounds of pain, but of pleasure.) I have learned that warming the bottom attracts the blood to certain points of the female anatomy that provide great delight. We are coming to the end of a very prudish century. Well bred young girls like yourself are kept ignorant of such wonders and must be taught by older, wiser and more world! ly women. Now that you have submitted to me I shall become you mentor and teach you many of the pathways to ecstasy. There, relax, let the sensations engulf you. Don't hold back. Give in to the feeling. Release yourself.
CHARLOTTE: (panting) Yes, mummy, yes, yes, yes. (Finally, after having past the point of no return, she howls in release and goes limp across Caroline's lap).
CAROLINE: (Helping the girl to her feet) Now compose yourself and go to your room. You may practice the technique I just taught. You will find it provides wonderful relaxation. Now go, I will deal with your father tomorrow. Everything will be all right. (She takes the girl's face in her hands and kisses both cheeks).
CHARLOTTE: Thank you mummy. (She shuffles to the door and leaves.)
(Caroline turns and faces the Chinese screen.)
CAROLINE: You can come out now you bad, bad man. (A handsome man, in his mid-thirties, emerges bare legged and glad only in a bathrobe.) So, my dear Mr. Gant, I can see from the bulge at the front of your robe that you enjoyed our little tableau. Believe me, the pleasure I received from beating that little bitch's arse has primed me also. Come, take your seat on my bed. (She opens her gown and reveals a lovely body. She then lays face down across Gant's lap.) I have been naughty. You must chastise me Mr. Gant. (He begins to spank her bottom as the curtain falls.)
Author's note: I found this manuscript while going through some old documents in a trunk belonging to my great, great, uncle Titus. According to his diary this play was staged several times at Mrs. Blythwhites, an exclusive brothel in Bloomsbury. The first performance was January 1, 1900. The roles of Charlotte and Caroline were played not by prostitutes but by two struggling young actresses. They were paid ten pounds each, quite a handsome sum of money in those days. The role of Mr. Gant was played by uncle Titus himself. The audience was composed of a dozen gentlemen and Mrs. Blythwhite's "professional" staff. There were, according to the diary, five curtain calls.