This story, I confess, is a fantasy of the future.
As readers of Volume I will know, society has not ‘progressed’ in the fashion which today everybody seems to think is inevitable. Indeed, one hundred years on, there is a great deal less ‘liberalism’ than there is at the present time. In fact, as far as morality in society and discipline are concerned, things have returned to the Victorian era. In fact, to an even more rigid and harsh Victorian era.
As I state, this is a fantasy. Yet, in view of many present trends (State interference, repression of personal freedom, more laws, more restrictions) it is not as unlikely a fantasy as all that. Progress and improvement in the human situation should never be accepted as inevitable. That is simple arrogance on the part of homo sapient. It is as well for all of us to remember that another long Dark Age is always a possibility.
However, back to our story.
Lisa Cavan is an exceedingly attractive young woman of twenty-two years. She is tall, fulsomely shaped, blonde, with Scandinavian features. For having sexual intercourse (under the age of twenty-five) whilst unmarried - an offence under State regulations - she was sentenced to six months in a Reform School Grade II.
She makes a protest in court - an outburst - proclaiming her support for the FFYM, the Freedom For Youth Movement. As a result, her sentence is doubled and she is sent to a Grade I School, where the regime is far stricter.
As is customary in all Reform Schools, Lisa Cavan is soundly flogged. On account of her arrogant looks, and her behaviour in Court, Lisa is particularly severely treated ... her correction being administered over a period of days by one of the male prison guards, called Vidon.
Later, Lisa settles into the regular prison regime ... School Classes, Physical Training, Drill and Field Work. It is a remorseless cycle of mental and physical effort ... and mistakes or lack of effort are swiftly punished.
Soon Lisa feels herself fortunate if a day passes when she does not have to present her naked hindquarters to receive strap or cane.
Every day seems like a week, every week a month. Three months of Lisa’s sentence pass and it seems a lifetime. Yet nine months still remain! In the nature of things, she becomes harder. Far tougher than she had ever imagined she could. But her sufferings, as are those of all prisoners, are incessant. They are meant to be. That is the system. That is why the Schools have been set up. To truly reform.
So, Lisa Cavan enters on her fourth month of cruel servitude.
Erica Krane, the Governor of Redesdale Grange, sat in her study. It was a splendid piece of Victoriana ... a period for which Erica Krane had the greatest respect. She read all she could on its history and she moulded her life-style in a similar image. She dressed as a Victoria matron, she surrounded herself with the same kind of furnishings and bric-a-brac as a Victorian household.
To do such a thing, to say the least, was eccentric in 2077 A.D.
On the other hand, the authorities permitted Erica Krane her little whims. She was a highly respected Prison Governor, and many of the methods and reforms which she had introduced had been taken up by other Reformatories. In the Ministry it had long been decided to give her a free hand. The Governor of Redesdale Grange, in effect, was a law unto herself.
The telephone rang.
‘Governor speaking ...’
‘Good afternoon, Miss Krane. The Ministry here, Gordon Barr ... Under Secretary for Organisation.’
‘Ah yes, Mr. Bar. We have met several times, of course.’
‘Of course, Miss Krane. Is all well at Redesdale?’
‘I have heard no complaints. Except from its inmates,’ came the answer. There was heavy irony in the voice. ‘So, I think all must be well.’
‘Yes ... yes ... of course!’ Gordon Barr laughed it off. Erica Krane was a formidable woman. ‘I was just telephoning about your latest suggestion.’
‘Oh ... indeed?’
‘Yes, Governor. We’ve had a Committee meeting on it. Thoroughly approved.’
‘Ah ... good ...’ A trace of what might be called a smile played over Erica Krane’s mouth.
‘You’ll be getting confirmation in writing, of course.’
‘Thank you, Mr Barr. Is there anything else?’
‘Good afternoon, then.’
Erica Krane replaced the receiver. Then she folded her hands over the smooth, purple velvet of her full-length dress. She looked smugly satisfied. A white, podgy hand pushed aside the Register of Prisoners which she had been previously studying, and picked up a pen. She began to write on the top sheet of a large block of white paper, using an immaculate Gothic-style script.
‘Memo to Secretary Tavil:
Kindly mimeograph the following and have it distributed to all concerned at Redesdale.
GOVERNOR’S ORDER. ISSUED APRIL 15TH 2077
The following instructions have been approved by the Ministry and will take effect from 6 a.m. April 17th 2077.
All canes in use will be lacquered at the last twelve inches of their length. This applies to light, medium and heavy canes. This lacquering will be carried out by prisoners assigned by assistant Block Supervisors.
A minimum of four layers of lacquering will be applied ... with intervals of one hour between lacquering. There is no reason why there should not be six lacquerings, but this would seem the maximum.
The object of this is to ensure not only smoothness but an exceeding hardness to the last twelve inches of each cane. This is where, as I think we all know, it is particularly effective ... and, accordingly, will now be even more effective.
The above instructions do not imply a reduction of the number of strokes which would normally be awarded.
The Governor pressed a bell on her desk and, within moments, a trim young woman entered. She was dressed in plain white blouse and grey skirt - the garb of a ‘Trustie’.
‘Get this off right away, Tavil ...’
‘Yes, Governor ... at once.’
‘Er ... Tavil ... read it first ...’
The pale-faced young woman read the piece of paper she held.
‘II ... I understand, Governor,’ she said when she had finished.
‘Are you not glad, Tavil,’ enquired the Governor, ‘that you are no longer an ordinary prisoner?’
‘Y-Yes, Governor,’ came the fervent answer.
‘Off with you then ...’
The door closed and the same smug expression returned to the Governor’s features. It was from such minor but important measures that she got her greatest pleasure. Just think what so simple a thing was going to mean to the hundred and more young women in her charge! The extra pain from every stroke allotted ...
Ah yes, that was something to be contemplated with a deep, satisfying relish.
And it was all her doing!
Governor Krane of Redesdale would have been the first to admit how much she enjoyed the position of responsibility she had attained.
As so often, this idea for stricter discipline, had come from a book on earlier corrective methods. Erica Krane was an ardent reader of such books, and her only complaint was she could never lay her hands on enough of them. Thankfully, a lot of such rarities were being re-imported from America (which was in economic decline) so the situation was gradually improving.
The idea of a harder tip to a cane appealed to her considerably. If twelve inches can be considered a tip, that is! The first two feet of the cane would keep its swishy suppleness and the working end would bite with considerably greater effect. Excellent! This, Erica Krane gathered, had been the kind of rod used in South African reformatories and prisons - with considerable effect. The South Africans, of course, were notorious for the rigour of their disciplinary measures.
Thus the Governor had had three differently weighted canes lacquered according to her requirements and then brought to her. Afterwards she telephoned her four Block Supervisors. Her message was the same to each.
‘Do you reckon you know the toughest prisoner in your Block?’
There was always a short pause after this question.
‘I think so, Governor ... there are several similar ...’
‘Very well. Select one and send her to me at eight o’clock this evening.’
So, as ordained, four young women presented themselves at the Governor’s study at the time appointed. Each was as scantily garbed as she would have been ready for evening Punishment Detail, which was taking place at the same time. That is to say, wearing only tight corset, stockings and high heeled shoes, leaving her breasts and buttocks nakedly exposed. Understandably, each of the girls looked pale and nervous. It was indeed a dread thing to be summoned by the Governor ... and each was racking her brains to think of what fault could have led her to such a situation.
The Governor surveyed the four stonily. Dispassionately. She felt no pity. All four had committed crimes and were there to expiate them.
‘You are here he way of an experiment,’ she said at length. ‘All of you have served considerable terms ... from five months to eight months. All of you have become acclimatised to prison discipline. Also, as is natural, you have acquired a certain resistance to it. Compare yourselves now and when you got your first canings. Compare your reactions. They are different, are they not?’
‘Yes, Governor ...’ came the united answer, after only a brief pause for thought.
And each had to admit the truth of what had been said. How hardened she had become over the months. How pain came to be endured with an ever-increasing stoicism. Not that pain was not still pain!
‘Now,’ continued the Governor complacently, ‘the nature of the experiment this evening is to test a new type of cane. From your physical and vocal reactions - and what you tell me afterwards - I shall be able to judge of its efficacy.’
The four girls stood silent. Apprehensive but resigned. What would be, would be. That was the Redesdale regime.
‘I shall not bother with a light cane on any of you,’ went on the Governor. ‘It would, in your cases, in a sense, be a waste of time. I shall start with the medium and then go on to the heavy.’
Erica Krane produced four rods from her desk drawer. Two had almost the thickness of a little finger, two had almost the thickness of an index finger. The medium and the heavy rods regularly used for punishment at Redesdale. But close inspection revealed that one medium rod and one heavy had a smooth, shiny look along its last twelve inches. A hard look. These were the newly lacquered rods.
The Governor picked up one of the unlacquered rods and swished it gently. ‘You are all familiar with this,’ she said.
No answer. Only silent dread - and anguished memories - in all four pairs of eyes.
‘It is, however, necessary to remind you of it,’ said the Governor. ‘Bend across my desk ... the lot of you.’
Without even a fractional hesitation, each of the four girls stepped forward and stretched out, clutching the far side of the desk and presenting her hindquarters in a convenient curve. Erica Krane felt a little throb of inner satisfaction at this demonstration of the excellence of her disciplinary methods. These four girls, each with little more than a month of sentence to go, were well and truly reformed in their ways!
‘I am giving each of you two strokes from the rod to which you have become accustomed,’ said the Governor.
She measured the first girl’s rump - near the upper part of it - and laid on a good, hard, wristy cut. The girl squirmed a little but made no sound. Another, similar cut, about two inches lower. The girl squirmed again, perhaps, uttered a tiny gasp.
‘Did that hurt?’
‘Y-Yes ... Governor ...’
Erica Krane moved along the line ... and repeated her performance. Two hard cuts, spaced two inches apart. The reactions were very much the same. Except, possibly, the girl squirmed a little more than the first had done.
On to the third girl. The toughest of the lot, it seemed. She didn’t make a sound and, apart from a convulsive clenching of her nates, her bottom remained motionless as she received the two cuts.
The fourth girl gasped between clenched teeth at each cut, but she too kept her bottom fully upthrust and squarely presented.
Two bright red weals across four pairs of creamy-white buttocks ...