I was choosing jewellery for an evening out when I suddenly imagined I was a maid in a Victorian household, trusted with tidying her mistress’s jewels. I would, of course, be very careful with them – except one occasion, when I wouldn’t be able to resist trying on a fancy garnet choker.
It would be very innocent – but not in the eyes of the housekeeper, who would chance to walk into my lady’s boudoir just then. Caught in the act, I would freeze on the spot, unable to utter a word. The housekeeper would swoop upon me like a hungry falcon, and demand in a quiet, menacing tone that I put the jewels away and follow her to the pantry.
Lips trembling, heart beating violently, I would follow. In the corner of the pantry there would be a tall jar – my lord has brought a number of these from his travels to the Orient – and in it, there would be a number of birch twigs soaking for just such occasions.
The housekeeper would bid me bend over a small table, and unceremoniously bare my posterior. Then she would proceed to whip me with one of the birch twigs, pain slashing at me and making me sob. This wouldn’t be the first time I felt the switch, but it would feel in the moment that no previous beating has been this agonising.
Afterwards, I would thank her meekly, and beg her not to tell my lady about this. Regally, she would agree, on the condition that I don’t give her cause for another reprimand for at least a week. This time my thanks would be more sincere, for I would be sure I could go for a week without causing her wrath.
She would dismiss me with a motherly pat on the head, and I would go back to my work, wincing every time my pantaloons sweep against my sore, striped cheeks.