The Russian page about judicial floggings that inspired my previous post had one other tantalizing sentence, which explained that the “varying degrees of rigour” of the flogging was dependent not only on the skill of the person administering it:
“but also – and perhaps most – of the value of the gift received by the executioner before whipping in the form of bribery”.
Oh, I wonder what a girl would offer the night before her punishment, in her desperation? I wonder what he’d request; what he’d take.
And I imagine two friends, apprehended and sentenced to be flogged, being beaten one after the other. The girl who was going second would watch the first punishment, aghast at the severity of the fate that she herself would endure just a few minutes hence. And then realising, as the first strokes of her own whipping landed, that he had been going easier on her friend – and that she must have succumbed to their gaoler’s advances the night before.
A cruel phrase floats into my mind: “No man of standing in the court will marry you now, after the Tsar has had you whipped. So there’s no reason not to be a compliant girl for me, and make tomorrow a little easier on yourself…”