“The birch,” remarked Sir Rodney, conversationally, while plucking the frightening implement from his desk, “is a greatly misrepresented and frequently misapplied instrument of correction. It is, when properly constructed and in the hands of a person skilled in its use, a most efficacious tool for teaching young ladies, such as yourself, the error of their misguided ways.” Sir Rodney punctuated his observation with a practice sweep of the terrifying object in his hand; cutting it through the air in his study with an evil, sibilant hiss.
Christa Faust tensed at the vicious swish of the birch; the blood draining from her face and her buttocks clenching in dread anticipation. The pretty red-haired girl had been all too aware that something of a serious nature awaited her when summonsed to Sir Rodney's inner sanctum, but a cold thrill of fear had coursed down her spine when she'd first seen just what lay in store for her. It had been wishful thinking, on her part, to hope that he'd intended to chastise her misconduct with just a few swats across her bottom from the strap in his desk drawer. She had, after all, been strapped in this very room just three weeks earlier and that for a minor misdemeanour in no way comparable to the offence for which she was to be disciplined today. In all honesty, she could not have really expected such leniency on this occasion.
“For one thing,” continued Sir Rodney, in the same conversational tone, “The term “birch” can be somewhat misleading. I am aware, of course, that many traditionalists do indeed fabricate their corrective instruments from birch twigs. I, on the other hand, find birch twigs to be rather too irregular; far too many angles and buds on them for the purpose. It is difficult to gather sufficient birch twigs of the correct length and comparable uniformity for the manufacture of switches of the type I favour.”
“Yes Sir,” murmured Christa nervously; more because she felt it incumbent upon her to contribute some note of assent rather than that she actually agreed with his commentary. She was stood to attention in front of Sir Rodney's desk and willed herself to remain as still as possible. Unseemly shuffling irritated him, and he was all too likely to augment her punishment were she to further disgrace herself through wriggling in fear through anticipation of it. Sir Rodney preferred his miscreants to display humble penitence, tinted with tranquil acceptance of their deserved correction. It was important, she knew, that he perceived her to be in agreement with his judgement of her conduct and to submit willingly to whatever measures he chose to address it with. Her punishment was, in effect, a cooperative effort; a mutual agreement that her conduct had been unacceptable, a penalty for it declared, her acquiescence in the justice of it conceded and her cooperative participation in the administration of that penalty expected. Pleading for mercy or in any way demonstrating anything less than her full agreement that her punishment was merited would infuriate him. She must, at all costs, remain still, in calm submission.
Her discomfort was compounded by the fact that she was barely dressed. Arriving at Sir Rodney's town house, she had been met by his head house maid, Lucy. Lucy had curtly informed her that Sir Rodney would attend to her in his study and that, furthermore, in preparation for her punishment, he had instructed that she present herself for punishment dressed only in her underwear. It was a day that Christa wished that she had taken greater care in the matter of her undergarments. Lucy had had her strip down in the hall way and the rather plain under vest and perfectly serviceable, but hardly becoming, simple white knickers had done little to ameliorate her humiliation. Lucy had looked rather fetching in her pretty maid's uniform. Christa had felt positively shabby in comparison.
The maid had scarcely been able to keep the smirk off her face as she'd escorted Christa to Sir Rodney's study. She had, of course, seen many another young lady of Christa's ilk in the same predicament before. He employed a considerable number of young women as junior representatives and, by their nature, young women were apt to misbehave on occasion. There was usually a regular flow of cringingly servile penitents making their sorrowful way to his study to answer for their misdeeds. Lucy had seen them all at one time or another. They usually had the strap or, if they were particularly in trouble, the cane to face. This one was special however. It was the birch for this one.
A birching was rare and reserved for particularly serious misconduct. Lucy was excited, not least because she had made the birch that this young madam would shortly be feeling, herself. Because it was a relatively rare event, a birching required rather more by way of preparation than more routine disciplinary actions. Sir Rodney had, straps, paddles and canes aplenty to hand in his study but, on the occasions that he deemed a birching to be merited, the implement had to be prepared afresh. It was simply impractical to keep a supply of birch switches to hand. The twigs dried out; became brittle and useless. Sir Rodney favoured fresh green shoots three to four feet in length. That morning, in anticipation of Christa's appointment, he had sent Lucy to the garden, with a pair of secateurs, to gather the materials for Miss Faust's correction.