Cordelia Rutherford sat hunched up on the thin mattress of the single hard bed of a cell in London’s Bow Street police station.  The cell had tilled walls and floor, a single high narrow bared window and a basin and WC in a corner.  Everything smelled of strong disinfectant.

She felt cold and sick with fear, but she was warmed from within by the flame of defiance.  She and her sister-protestors had done it!  They had struck a powerful blow for the cause.  Now, as she knew she would, she had to face the consequences.  But she had been in here for hours and nothing had happened.  Why was it taking so long?

A key turned in the heavy iron door of the cell and it was swung open by a policeman, who then stepped aside to allow her father to enter.  

At the sight of him, Cordelia sprang to her feet, opening her mouth to explain.  Then she shrank back.  She had never seen him looking so black with rage.

‘Be silent!’ he said.  ‘Turn round, bend over, lift your skirts, lower your drawers and rest your hands on the bed…’

Trembling with fear, Cordelia obeyed, bearing her bottom to him.  Her father twisted the handle of his walking stick and a thin bamboo cane came out of its hollow core.  He positioned himself beside her, laid the cane across her bare buttocks and then drew his arm back.

‘This is what you have come to after all these years of rebellion and wilfulness…’ Swish crack!  The cane cut into her bottom flesh, making it dance and ripple.  Cordelia shrieked in pain and her fingers dug into the bedding, but she held her place.

Her father continued to beat her, punctuating each swipe with another damning accusation.  ‘Burying your head in those unsuitable intellectual books…’ Swish crack!  ‘Refusing to marry even though you are twenty-five…’  Swish crack!  ‘Losing your virginity to some nameless man…’ Swish, crack!  ‘Meeting with those disturbed women…’ Swish crack… ‘Making absurd demands for women’s “rights”…’ Swish, crack!  ‘And now breaking shop windows in Oxford Street and brawling with policemen!’  Swish, crack!  ‘We are respectable people!’  Swish, crack! ‘I’m just grateful that your mother is not alive to witness your disgrace!’  Swish crack! ‘But it stops here and now!  ‘Do you understand?’

By now, Cordelia’s bottom was a blazing scarlet, each hemisphere crisscrossed by purple welts, while her eyes were red and swollen and dripping tears.  She gulped and struggled to keep her voice steady.  ‘Y… yes, Father…’ she said choked huskily.

He re-sheathed his cane and sat down on the bed, not looking at her face or the devastation he had wrought upon her behind.  She dared not move, fearing what it would feel like to flex her beaten flesh.

Her father continued to speak in slightly more measured tones.  ‘I have been talking to Judge Sitwell, pleading for clemency.  I convinced him that you had been led astray and he has offered this compromise.  As long as you are properly supervised, your case will be suspended and you will be freed on warrant.’

She choked out.  ‘I… I must stand by my sisters…’

‘They are not your sisters!’ her father snapped, twisting about and slapping her blazing buttocks and making her yelp.  ‘Your real sisters despair of you. Your fellow conspirators have already been up before the judge and have been sentenced.  The case against them was open and shut.’ 

They had already been tried!  That was not justice!  Worse, they would think she had deserted them.

‘But you still have a chance,’ her father continued. ‘However, you must undergo a proper degree of corrective punishment and discipline which will be confirmed by sworn statements, inspections and photographic evidence.  Both the judge and I agreed that your unstable behaviour is down in part to you not being married.  Therefore, before the warrant can be lifted, you will agree to marry some man of respectable position and status, who will stand surety for your future behaviour.’

This last declaration penetrated Cordelia’s haze of pain and misery.  She was to be married!

‘P… please, Father,’ she choked out ‘… you can’t make me marry anybody…’

‘Of course you will not be compelled to marry a particular man.  You will have a choice amongst a selection of acceptable men, but you will marry one of them.  If you do not agree to this condition, then you will go to trial, which will inevitably mean a public lashing and months in prison or a sentence of public exposure, quite apart from the shame you will bring down upon our name.  Is that understood?’

Cordelia struggled to think clearly, despite her blazing buttocks.   Of course, she would not be cured of her belief in women’s equality and emancipation by getting married, but it would buy her time while also placating her father.  Surely, there would be some way out of such a proposition.  After all, he had not asked if she agreed to the arrangement, only if she understood it.

‘Yes, Father,’ she said meekly.

‘Good.  I have already put arrangements in place.’  He got up and banged on the iron door.  It opened to admit two strange men.

Cordelia gave a yelp of surprise and straightened up, wincing in pain, hastily pulling up her drawers and smoothing down her skirts.  She tried to wipe the tears from her eyes, but she feared they had glimpsed her in that most humiliating posture.  If so, however, they gave no sign.

One was a huge lump of a man with a brown bowler perched on his head.  He had a boxers’ crumpled nose and ears and looked as though he was about to burst out of his jacket.  He was carrying a carpetbag.  The other man was an African, perhaps in his mid thirties, smartly dressed in a grey suit with a matching grey Derby hat.  He had a pencil moustache, a pearl pinned silk cravat at his throat and was carrying an ebony gentleman’s cane with silver fittings.

‘This is Mr Ivory,’ her father said, indicating the black man, ‘and his associate, Mr Knaps.  Mr Ivory is a General Broker with experience of taking on usual commissions.  He will earn his fee if he keeps you out of trouble while he arranges a selection of prospective husbands and satisfies the judge that you have been properly chastised during the process.  He has my permission to use whatever means necessary.  He will be your master and keeper until you have made your choice… or we have to consider other options,’ he added darkly.  ‘I will not see you again until then.’

He banged on the cell door which was opened again, and he left.

While Mr Knaps loomed in one corner, Mr Ivory walked around her, looking her up and down, his deep brown eyes penetrating and confident.  Cordelia stared back at him uncertainly.  She had never had any dealings with black men before, but you heard stories...

‘This is the way it’s going to be, Miss Rutherford,’ Ivory said, speaking in refined tones that surprised her.  ‘I have made guarantees to Judge Sitwell and to your father, and I have a reputation to maintain.  I will keep you secure, I will find you a husband, and I will carry out a course of corrective punishment that the court has agreed.  This means that you are going to suffer a certain degree of pain and distress.  You will undoubtedly despise me for inflicting it upon you, but it is unavoidable and very necessary if you are to escape jail or a long sentence of public humiliation, so I advise you to resign yourself to it and cooperate and thereby spare yourself any addition suffering.  Do you understand?’

‘Y…yes,’ she stammered.

‘Good.  You will begin by removing your clothes…’

She gaped at him in disbelief.  ‘What?’

‘While you are in my custody you will be kept naked and restrained at all times – starting now.’

‘You… you can’t!  The cruel public exposure and degradation of women is what I’m fighting against!  We want equality before the law!’

‘But unfortunately, you do not have it yet.  Now strip!’

‘You would not treat a man that way!’

‘But you are not a man,’ Ivory pointed out.  ‘That is why it is used as a punishment on women. Now remove your clothes.  Unless you want Mr Knap to do it for you…’ 

The big man grinned.

Cordelia gulped, feeling sick.  She knew she had no choice.  But at least she could try to maintain her dignity as long as possible.  With trembling fingers, she began undoing her blouse. 

As the garments dropped from her, Cordelia felt as if she was slipping into dream.  This could not be happening to her.  But it was.  And then she was stark naked in front of these two strange men, her cheeks burning with shame, feebly trying to cover herself up.

‘Stand straight, hands clasped behind your neck and legs apart,’ Ivory commanded.  ‘Let me look at you…’

With a snivel, Cordelia obeyed.

Cordelia wore her brunette hair tied back in a bun, exposing her high intelligent forehead.  She had a firm straight nose, bright blue eyes, a determined chin, a slightly squarish jaw, high cheekbones and a wide mouth.  She was of slim build, with neat, pale rounded breasts with well-marked nipples.  Her waist was tight, emphasising the smooth flare of hips down to her strong thighs and rounded buttocks that were, when not crimson and welted from caning, creamy pale.  A thick mat of brown curls framed the deep cleft in her Mound of Venus.

Ivory walked around her, prodding and stroking her with the tip of his cane, while she shuddered and bit back whimpers.  The ferrule circled her breasts and teased her nipples, making them rise unwillingly.  Then it probed her hot sore bottom cheeks causing her to flinch. 

‘Your father did a thorough job on your behind.  That will need treating, if you are to look pretty and attract suitors.  They will want to try you out to see how pleasing you are, which is for them one positive advantage of your diminished status.’

Cordelia’s stomach was knotted up with sick cold horror. ‘I… will never submit to them!’

‘Not at first, perhaps.  But you will be surprised at what you will do if you are properly handled.  Right now dread, shame and arousal are battling inside you.  Being “respectably” brought up, you have no doubt been taught to subdue sexual passion, so the other two emotions are dominant.  But if you are suitably stimulated…’

He reversed his cane and ran its handle up between her legs into her vulva, stroking its soft furrow.  Her eyes bulged in disbelief at this sudden intimate intrusion and she flinched back.

‘Stay still!’ he snapped.  ‘Look at me!’ And she obeyed, gazing into his dark, masterful face.

The cane handle slid up into her cleft, which pulsed and grew hot and wet in seconds.  The handle found the tight mouth of her vagina and worked its way inside.  Her clitoris, that shameful organ some women hardly acknowledged existed, throbbed and swelled.  Something was dripping out of her onto the tiles between her feet. The chill cell began to feel hot… 

Ivory continued to dig and churn the handle inside her, and she shuddered and swayed in a daze, unable to resist it.  ‘Many people deny the sexual impulse exists in women, but I know how strong it can be,’ he said.  ‘Surrender to dread, or shame alone and your only reward is more despair.  But surrender to arousal and lust and unexpected things may happen…’

He jerked the cane upwards so that its handle dug into the roof of her passage, pressing against the root of her secret organ.

Cordelia shrieked as she felt something burst inside her loins.  For a moment, all her cares and fears were swept away by a surge of something wonderful that filled her body.  Then she collapsed in a dead faint.