We’re going on holiday to Austria in a few weeks’ time. I can’t wait. But we have one slight problem: we’re travelling in a small group – with the “would overhear any activity in the neighbouring room in the suite” type of fellow travellers. So I can tell now that Haron’s not going to get spanked all week.
It’s made me daydream. Some grand old Viennese house: tall, imposing, high ceilings, ornate.Very Habsburg.
Haron, despatched on her own at the agreed time, “to meet one of her distant relatives who lives in the city”. (“No, it’s OK. I won’t go with her. I don’t speak the language.” Excuses, excuses, to cover the real reason for her trip).
She’s smartly dressed. She checks the address carefully, knocks on the door. A young woman opens, all blonde and neat, in a crisp uniform. “Miss Haron? You are expected.”
She is shown along a corridor, to a closed door. The maid leaves her: “You should knock at the door, and wait until Herr Professor calls you.”
He makes her wait.
Minutes later, a strongly-accented voice. “You may enter.”
He makes Haron stand before his desk. Looks at her, over his glasses, studying her intently as if trying to read her mind. Peers down, picks up a letter from his desk, reads it carefully. “Your husband informs me that your behaviour here in our city has been most disappointing. He has sent you to me to be punished. You understand that?”
A quiet confirmation.
“I can’t hear you, young lady.”
“Yes, sir.” Louder, voice still trembling.
The gentleman stands, reaches up to the bookcase. The implement he takes down comprises three long, straight, thick switches, tied together at one end. “I had my maid make this freshly this morning. Now undress.”
As Haron strips, shyly, for punishment, he rings a bell; the maid re-appears, almost instantaneously. (Later, he will question her; will find that she was listening at the door; will birch her).
“Miss Haron, please bend over the end of my desk. Liesel, please go to the opposite side of the desk, and hold Miss Haron’s hands, firmly. She is not to move during her punishment.”
And so the gentleman whips my wife, her cries quite lost between the thick walls of the mansion, as Liesel pins her tightly in position.
Haron dresses afterwards. Thanks the gentleman through her tears. And then the maid shows her out into the bright Viennese sunshine.