Eighteenth Century Justice
Chapter 1. Annette is hired as a servant
Annette is sixteen years old. She is the humble subject, one of the least important, of his glorious majesty, Louis XIV, king of France by the grace of God. The year is 1713. Annette lives in a small town called Grenade in southern France. Her parents are both dead. Her mother died when Annette was just ten. Her father died recently. He had been a good blacksmith, but after his wife died he became a d***kard. There was nothing left for Annette.
Her two older b*****rs both left the parental home years ago and are now living somewhere up north. She doesn’t really know where. Annette is left all alone in the cruel world of this “glorious” king. Before marrying, Annette’s mother worked in a nearby inn, now owned by distant relatives of hers. The two families knew each other. Now, when Annette is told that there is nothing left after her father, except debts, she decides to look for work, the inn being her first choice, although she does not particularly like Antoine and Sophie Legrand, the innkeeper couple. Because they know her as a good girl she is accepted and starts work right away.
She is given numerous duties. First and foremost, she has to serve guests and make them feel happy. But much of the work behind the scenes also falls on her. Madame does the cooking and Monsieur the heavier work, but Annette may be called in to do any of these, heavy or not heavy, the laundry being her regular task, a hot and heavy job.
Her salary consists of food, in small quantities, one might add, lodging, a tiny closet with no window, clothes, when absolutely necessary, and a few coins out of the tips that she gets every now and then, mostly because they fall for her charms.
She is to call the innkeeper “Monsieur” and his wife “Madame”. Having lived as a dear f****y girl, Annette thinks that now she is actually not much better off than the Roman slave girl the priest told a story about in church school. The moral of the story was that everything had become so much better in Christianity. In her new position she starts to doubt it.
Annette is an astonishingly pretty girl. She has big brown eyes with long eyelashes. The small mouth with thick, rosy lips, easily parts into a warm smile, showing her glittering and even teeth. Dimples appear in her cheeks. Her hair is big and ruffled, with small maroon curls coming down all the way to her dark eyebrows and to her shoulders. Her body is slim as that of a deer. Her breasts have developed into two firm cups with rosebuds on top,
and her two small, round buttocks protrude menacingly. Her beauty often provokes taps and pinches.
Annette has to work from early morning till late at night, when the last d***ken guests leave the place. Then the floor has to be swept, dishes washed and preparations made for the next day. She is always sl**py, because there is so little time for her to rest. Her employers see this as indolence, and Annette often gets a scolding, especially from Madame. Poor Annette is even threatened with punishment if she doesn’t get more diligent.
On the very first day, when shown around in the house by Madame, they stop in front of a nasty looking birch hanging on a wall in the kitchen. Annette is told that Monsieur will not hesitate to use it on her if necessary. She is frightened, but actually not very surprised, because although her parents mostly were kind to her, there were also birchings, as in all families in those days.
Chapter 2. The Vengeance
Monsieur and Madame have a son of f******n, whom Annette has to call “Maître”. His name is Pierre. He is a very lazy boy. Annette thinks to herself that this boy would benefit much more from a good hiding than she. The adolescent boy throws hungry eyes at the pretty young maid. Annette has to keep him at arm’s length, not least because she finds him smelly and generally disgusting.
One of the first nights she spends in her new home, Pierre comes sneaking into her room while she is asl**p. Saving her petticoat from unnecessary wear she sl**ps naked. Fortunately she wakes up before anything serious could happen. She is the stronger of the two. she fights back and hitting him hard in the face. He leaves her closet bitterly crying, promising to take revenge on her. This is quite frightening; the little creepy bastard is cunning and could lay some nasty trap for her to get her into trouble.
The following days she is on her guard. A week goes by and nothing happens. She eventually starts to feel safer. The boy was bluffing! Annette heard him lying to his parents about the bruise on his left cheek, saying he fell in the stairs. Perhaps he is swallowing his pride in order to avoid a new outbreak of Annette’s fury.
Alas, she is too optimistic! This was bound to happen. An early morning ten days later when Annette has almost forgotten the incident, Madame shouts from the kitchen in her shrill voice, almost screams:
“Annette, come here, at once!”
Annette gets very scared and hastens to the kitchen. Whatever has happened? On the kitchen table lies a pile of ceramics pieces from a broken mug, the kind that the wine is served in.
“Look what we found hidden in the garden! You thought you would get away with this! But you scoundrel, Pierre
found you out”, she shouts at the top of her voice.
“But Madame, it wasn’t me!” she tries to explain.
Annette’s heart almost stops beating when she hears this false accusation and now it starts beating faster and faster and she can hardly breathe. She breathes heavily now and she feels cold sweat in her armpits.
“Aha, so you are a liar, too, you lazy bitch! Didn’t your parents teach you to always speak the truth and to admit your wrongdoings? You were the last person to leave the hall last night, and you were collecting the mugs from the tables. Perhaps you had d***k the wine that some people leave in their mugs and then you got unsteady?”, Madame replies.
Annette vehemently shakes her head and tries to say something, protesting, but not a word comes over her lips. And in fact, there is not much point in protesting. The trap has been laid so carefully that the case seems obvious. Of course Madame and Monsieur would rather listen to their own son than to a new servant girl! So this is Pierre’s smart vengeance! He stands in a corner of the kitchen. Annette meets his eyes for a second. She perceives a faint vicious smile in his ugly face.
“Well”, Madame says, “if your late parents, may they rest in peace, didn’t teach you manners, we will have to do it. – Antoine!” she shouts.
Monsieur answers from the hall: “Yes Sophie, what is it?”.
“Come here”, she shouts.
There is now a moment of complete silence in the kitchen, only broken by Monsieur’s approaching footsteps. He stops in the doorway. He takes in the scene: his wife’s angry face, the pieces on the table and the blushing new girl, looking like guilt itself.
“Oh… I see” he then says slowly. “Our lazy little lady has done some mischief!” he says with an evil smile in his face and emphasis on every word.
“And she is a liar too!”, Madame adds.
Monsieur’s face turns red of anger. Speaking between his teeth, almost whispering aloud and stearing at Annette Monsieur says:
“She must learn that in this house mischief is punished!”
Having said that he collects the pieces from the table in his hand and throws them in the waste bucket with a clink. He then walks over to the wall where the birch is hanging, a bunch of six nasty, pliant twigs, held together by a black ribbon.
Monsieur takes the command:
Turning to Annette, and indicating the place by tapping the birch on the table he orders:
“Come here Annette and bend down on the table!”
“Sophie, go to the other side and hold her wrists firmly against the table so that she can’t try to escape her punishment!”
Annette immediately obeys, like a lamb led to slaughter. Of course she knows she is innocent – as does that lying bastard, Pierre.
Everything happens quickly now. Annette half lies
across the table with her butt stretched, and Madame stands bent over her on the other side, resting her weight on her hands holding Annette’s wrists. Monsieur approaches Annette from behind, puts the birch on the table to the left of Annette. Slowly, with both hands he pulls up her brown skirt all the way to the waist, so that her lower body is now covered only by her white petticoat. It is so thin from use so as to be almost transparent, letting one have a presentiment of her pretty little bum. Next, even more slowly, he pulls up her petticoat. When she feels the cold air on her naked bottom she shivers slightly. For decency’s sake Monsieur
could have let her keep it on, the sting would be unbearable anyway. She is scared stiff and is for a second overwhelmed by an urge to pray for mercy, but her pride takes over and she remains silent.
She has a white, soft, very girlish bum, with a skin that seems to be thin as silk. This scene is fully taken in by a glutting Pierre. Monsieur seems to enjoy it too. His wrath is now mixed with an expectant expression on his face, his eyes on the smooth surface his birch will soon hit. And, yes, the two buttocks are so pretty, just delicious – oh, but soon their colour will change!
Now Monsieur lifts the birch from the table, and takes two steps to the left of Annette, stopping in a position where the ends of the birch twigs just reach across Annette’s both buttocks. He measures the distance with the birch, slightly touching Annett’s buttocks . When satisfied he lifts the birch high behind his head, aiming the first stroke. The birch whistles through the air and hits, with great f***e, the poor girl’s bum, right across her bum, the twigs biting deep into the soft flesh. What a terrible smacking sound! Annette throws her head backwards in shocking pain, she holds her breath, her eyes are closed and she bites her teeth together in a grin. The twigs have left a pattern on the white buttocks that at first is hardly visible, but soon the stripes turn red. Monsieur holds the birch still for a moment, admiring the swelling of the welts of the first lash.
More is to come. When the fifth stroke hits her, she has not yet uttered a sound, biting her lips together hard as not to give her tormentors the satisfaction of hearing her cry for mercy. But this is dreadful! Never did it hurt so much when she got birched by her father.
But Madame is not pleased at all. She is annoyed by Annette’s silence. Finally she says:
“Antoine, why do you spear the wench? Are you charmed by her pretty looks? And do you pity someone who destroys our property and lies? And now she is mocking us! Antoine, That wooun’t do, you must hit harder!”.
“All right, I’ll make her scream, just you wait!”
He raises the birch high in the air and puts all his strength behind the next blow. He leaves her no time to
recover from it, and the next stroke now hits her, as hard as the previous one. And the next and the next in a fast succession, seemingly harder for each blow. When a long series of fast and hard strokes have hit her small naked bottom she gives out a moaning sound. It gets louder
and louder until she can’t help it anymore … she screams uncontrollably between the sobs, and – yes, asks for mercy!
“That’s better, Antoine. I think she is slowly learning something”, Madame says with a smile.
By now Annette’s both buttocks and her thighs are red and covered by crimson welts.
“You can stop now, Antoine. We need her to be able to work later today”, Madame continues. Turning to Annette who is still bending down and sobbing loud, although Madame has let her wrists free, Madame says in a stern voice:
“Annette, you shall get an hour’s rest; I will put some ointment on your buttocks. Rise up and wait for me in your room”.
Annette is sobbing and panting from the severe punishment; Pierre has counted the strokes and now, on his mother’s request, says that their number was thirty-two.
Turning to Annette, Madame says: “That’s for your own best Annette. You don’t want to end up as a thief and a lyer and you are not a c***d anymore. Since you have missed some necessay discipline we must try to correct you , akthought you ar almost grown up now. Punishments must get more severe than when you were small”. And perhaps as some kind of odd consolation, Madame adds:
“Girls’ bums are round and soft. They receive birchings much better than boys’.”
Annette does as she is told, she always does. When rising up from the tabe her clothes came down and even the light contact with her soar bum produced a short cramp of pain in her pretty face. Tears are running down her cheeks she is sobbing, moaning and snuffling. Even in this humiliating state, or perhaps because of it, she looks prettier than ever.
She rushes out of the kitchen and up to her private closet. She lies down on her bed, pressing her face into the pillow, trying to suppress her crying. Not just the pain is unbearable, the humiliation! Being alone she pulls up her clothes to avoid their contact with her burning bum.
There Annette stays sobbing when she becomes aware of being observed. Pierre is standing in the doorway with that menacing grin in his face. In her misery she still has the courage to tell him that he is a coward, a liar and a swine, but this just seems to amuse him. He turns around and leaves saying:
“Maître Pierre for you – servant girl!”
Before long Annette can hear Madame’s footsteps in the stairs. She enters the room. Without a word, she sits down on the bedside and starts to rub some ointment on Annette’s burning bum. It hurts a little at first, but by the time Madame has finished and is leaving the room, Annette feels a soothing effect and turns to Madame
“Thank you Madame!”.
“Are you thanking for the ointment or for the punishment?” Madame replies.
“Both were for your own best. You should have thanked Monsieur and kissed the birch, we must not forget that next time!”
Annette does not reply before Madame has already left the room
Chapter 3. Annette offends a gentleman
And in fact, one month later, when her bum has healed completely, there unfortunately is a “next time”, but now Annette is not completely innocent. She spills wine in the lap of a d***ken visitor when he tries to slip his hand under her décolletage. When then man continues to make improper advances she smacks him in the face, like she did with Pierre. The gentleman, because he is a nobleman of some sort, immediately seems to get sober enough to try to box her back. A younger man in his company tries to interfere on the nobleman’s side, holding Annette’s arms so as to make her an easy target for the offended gentleman. But Monsieur has seen it all and rushes there. In the last second he manages to come between them, stopping the fight before it can begin in earnest. Poor Annette wouldn’t have stood a chance, and could have been hurt so badly that she would not have been able to work.
Monsieur bows to the gentleman, his right arm elegantly on his waist and apologises on Annette’s and the house’s behalf, promising the gentleman, in a most courteous manner, that Annette will be properly punished. The offended gentleman replies that he has no guarantee that justice will be fairly and squarely made if he cannot witness the punishment. In these days and circumstances the word “punishment” was enough without the attribute “corporal”. After a moment’s hesitation, during which all eyes are on him, turning around to address all guests, Monsieur replies, that everybody is welcome to witness how the honour of the gentleman is restored to his satisfaction.
Again poor Annette has to bend down, now across a free table in the inn hall, and the guests, they are all male, and none of them very sober, gather at some distance behind her.
Antoine summons Madame from the kitchen asking her to bring the birch and to resume her role as holder at the opposite side of the table. Annette feels terribly ashamed when her bum is again slowly uncovered, this time before a male audience, most of them strangers. It was humiliating enough to be punished in the presence of the house folks.
The birching starts in complete silence, only broken by the whistling and whacking sound of the birch flying down on the girl’s naked buttocks, which soon again gets covered by nasty red stripes. After ten strokes, all received without Annette uttering a sound, just twisting
and biting her lips together, Monsieur lets down the birch, apparently intending to stop the punishment.
By this the offended gentleman gets upset, the punishment coming to an end so soon, and without a sound from the girl! He looks down at the girl and says with contempt:
“My honour has not yet been restored by so lenient a punishment. If you don’t mind Sir, I can take over this business. I have some experience of disciplining naughty young servant girls”.
The guests all agree, they do not want this exciting performance to stop. But Monsieur is the master of the house and does not want any outsider to take over his duties.
“All right, Sir,” he says, “I’ll give the girl ten more strokes myself, and not one more, because, Sir, you asked for it by assaulting the girl, as everyone here can witness”.
“A la bonheur,” he says in badly pronounced
French, “but let them sting!”..
The first ten strokes had been lighter than in her previous punishment, but the next ones are harder. To the gentleman’s dismay Annette can resist from screaming, but she moans and her body is furiously twisting in pain from each lash.
Annette has to remain in the punishment position for all the guests to be able to come forward to inspect the welts on her pretty bum. To Annette’s dismay some bow down ,giggling like small boys, to look between her buttocks to get a glimpse of the entry to her womb.
Now M;onsieur orders her to rise. This time Monsieur offers her the birch to kiss, which she does with tears running down her cheeks. Lowering her eyes, she also curtsies and thanks him for the punishment, as she has been told to do. Then Monsieur puts his free hand on her shoulder and presses her down on her knees before the offended gentleman and orders her to kiss the gentleman’s hand, and ask for forgiveness. She does not look at the gentleman at all, mumbling between her sobs a “pardon me, Sir”. He does not reply, but gives her an arrogant nod. After all, he is a nobleman and this is just a poor servant girl of sixteen!
Chapter 4. The Theft
Annette has hardly any money for herself. She was promised some of the tip money, but she first has had
to repay the mug she is falsely accused of breaking. And after that was paid for, not much has accrued in her purse.
On Tuesdays and Fridays Annette is sent to the market place to buy groceries for the inn. She is not allowed to carry money on her to pay for the items she buys. Instead the mongers would come to the inn once a month and get paid by Monsieur. Annette can’t help using her scanty pocket money on sweets that are so temptingly displayed in one of the stands where she shops for the house.
She has been thinking, indeed very hard, on how to get a little more money so that she could buy a beautiful bracelet that is sold in a stand selling trinkets. Oh, to Annette this cheep little bracelet is sheer beauty! But, alas, it costs more than she could expect to save in two months! That is, if she could resist buying sweets. The price is three copper shillings! Every time Annette goes to the market she passes the stand with the bracelet and looks with more and more yearning eyes at the lovely object.
She knows that some girls of her age clandestinely meet boys in the dark lanes and let themselves be kissed for a shilling, and maybe they let the richest boys fondle their breasts for a higher price. Still, that is quite dangerous. If found out it would be regarded as fornication and it would be punished by public whipping. Usually, when such trespassing is detected, the f****y is informed and keeps it a secret, to save the f****y honour. The punishment then takes place clandestinely in the girl’s home, but it will still be severe. She thinks of taking the risk, but decides that, after all, it is contrary to her nature.
Finally her obsession develops into a cunning plan. She has noticed that the fishmonger lady often leaves her post behind her desk to come in front of it to demonstrate to a customer the quality of her fish. So doing, the woman
leaves a little wooden box unguarded, with no lid on it! The box contains all the money she has earned that day. Furthermore, Annette has noticed that the woman seems to put all her concentration into the demonstration, turning her back tat the money box. That would be the perfect occasion to … steal the three copper coins she so badly needs for the bracelet.
But it is scary! Just a month ago she saw a young and handsome man being flogged in this same market place for theft. Annette followed the execution with awe. For half of the lashes the poor boy was able to control himself, but when the flogging continued he couldn’t help screaming after each lash. Annette knows this is the punishment the law decrees for such a crime, even if it would be just a few coins.
However, she is convinced not to be caught! That boy mustn’t have been as smart as she knows she is. The fish
woman may not notice the theft at all – she has that many coins in her box by the time Annette plans to hit. If she
notices it, she will find out only after closing time, when counting her earnings, or even hours after leaving the
market place, if that is when she counts them. Who would then suspect a young innocent-looking girl? To Madame and Monsieur Annette would lie that she has found the bracelet lying in the street. Well, they might not believe her, but they would never be able to prove she is lying. They would not get a confession out of her, not even under the swish of the birch! First and foremost: she would not be caught, no never! Oh heavenly bliss, the bracelet willd finally be hers!
She has made up her mind. As usual, Annette is sent shopping on Tuesday. She is full of excitement! She will soon have her bracelet! Strange enough, the danger seems to contribute to her excitement. This is her vengeance for all the injustices she has had to suffer!
What is the point, Annette argues, of always obeying
laws and orders from “her betters”? One gets punished for something one never did! And when one defends a girl’s honour one gets punished for that too. What about having to ask for forgiveness from someone who has offended you? So why not, for once, get something in return? Even if risking punishment? And the risk being negligible.
But the scene of the poor screaming boy being flogged to bl**d keeps returning to her mind. Out of excitement her feet feel limp, her hands are shivering and wet, nausea makes her swallow many times when reaching the market place.
What: the fish woman isn’t there! What a shame! Annette inquires in the next stand about what has happened to the fish lady. She is told that the fisherman, her husband, has broken a leg and is not able to go fishing,, but his b*****r has now stepped in and there will be fish again on Friday.
She is back with her shopping basket on Friday. It is a hot summer day. She walks on with steady steps. Yes, there she can see the fishmonger in her stall! Annette feels the anguish rising in her again, but not as badly as last
Tuesday. That was a rehearsal that took away some of the anguish. Most of all she feels determined – now or never! She walks around and buys some vegetables. All the
time keeping an eye on the fish woman. She is waiting for a fat lady standing at another stall to walk over to the fish monger woman. Annette knows the fat one and that she will keep the fishmonger busy.
Annette does not have to wait for very long.
She now casually approaches the fish stand, and, yes! Now the fish woman leaves her post behind the desk to get closer to the lady who is arguing with her about how fresh the fish is. As planned Annette leans over the desk, pretending to inspect a fish in the last row…lifts it up with her left hand … and snatches three shilling coins
from the money box with her right!
She did it at last! Now she can relax and go straight to the trinket man and buy the bracelet. But, …why have the ladies now stopped talking … and why are they both staring at her???
The fat woman whispers something in the fishmonger’s ear. They both look at Annette.The monger swiftly returns back to her place behind the desk, throwing an angry eye at Annette … and starts counting the money in the box! The fat lady keeps staring accusingly at Annette.
Oh, merciful, merciful God, she has been detected – by the fat lady!!!
The fishmonger now screams having counted the money, and pointing at Annette:
“Three shillings are missing! And there is the thief!!!”
Annette should have returned the money right away and asked for mercy, but instead she panics, throws her basket on the desk so that her vegetables roll all over it and starts to run away the fastest she can. She hears the fish monger and the fat lady shout:
“Stop the thief, stop the thief!”
People in the market seem not quite to understand at first, but then a short, elderly man tries to stop her by standing in her way. Annette just pushes him aside so that he falls to the ground and then she continues running. She is a good runner, keeping her pursuers at a distance. Annette is now being followed by others who have joined the choir calling out loud to stop the thief.
But now her escape comes to an abrupt end! Two town guards in their black and green uniforms, helmets on their heads, tall and sturdy, block her way. They cannot just be pushed aside. Those who have pursued her soon reach up with Annette and the guards and an increasing number of voices shout that the girl is a thief.
Annette is panting for air, sweat pores down her face and from her armpits after the fast running under a burning sun, and also from being scared almost to death. With wide open eyes she looks around for help or for a
desperate escape route, but the stern faces all around her and the tall guards convince her that she has lost the game. She was not cleverer then the flogged boy, and now… the same fate… is awaiting her!
“I’ll hold her while you search her”
says one of the guards and steps behind her, seizing her bare arms in a firm grip. The other guard does as he is told and starts feeling first her upper body with both hands (and to the amusement of some of the men in the crowd), then her lower body. He stops at her right hip. His hand has felt some hard objects under the fabric and he thrusts his hand deep into a pocket that Annette has sown in her skirt to hide the stolen money. From there he pulls … three shilling coins! Triumphantly he shows them to the crowd. Annette tries in full panic to stammer something about the coins being Madame’s money for groceries, but this stupid argument only results in mirth in the crowd, some of which shout:
Everybody knows that a servant girl is never trusted with her employer’s money.
The fish woman now joins the rest. The guard asks her if these are the coins she is missing, to which she answers a resounding:
“Indeed Sir, they are, no doubt about it”.
“Did anybody see the theft?” asks the guard standing behind Annette.
“I saw her stealing the money” shouts the fat lady who is not able to move very fast and only now joins what is already a crowd.
Without further ado the guard standing behind Annette loosens iron handcuffs from his belt. The one standing in front pushes Annette’s hands behind her back so that the other guard can shackle her wrists. Her faint resistance is hardly even noticed by the guards who have performed this routine on strong, tall men.
The guards then grab one arm each and start walking Annette in the direction of the castle. Part of the crowd follows. Boys shout obscenities to Annette. Some grown-up women join in throwing offences at her. Somebody is shouting:
“We want to see the wench’s back bleeding.”
The tall guards with the girl between them walk along in silence. Suddenly the older guard turns to Annette and breaks the awkward silence saying:
“You are in deep trouble, little one!”
Not very encouraging, Annette is miserable enough
without such comments! She does not answer him.
When they reach the gate of the castle wall, one of the
guards gives it a nock. It is opened by two guards in similar uniforms to whom the old guard says with a smile:
“There will be work for us tomorrow”.
All four guards look at Annette and burst into an evil laughter. She is led through an open door into the castle. They then walk her through a small hall. When they reach the left side wall, one of the guards reaches for a bunch of big keys, which have been dangling from his belt, jingling for every step, and opens the door. Cool, damp air meets them as they proceed to walk down the stairs to what must be the dungeon.
The prison consists of a short corridor with three cell doors to the left, all half open. Nobody seems to be held in the prison for the moment. There is a wooden door on the opposite wall. That must be the horrible torture chamber, by which parents would scare their c***dren when they are naughty! The guards push Annette into the first cell, lock the door and leave without a word. Then the older guard who addressed her in the market place
returns saying: “You had better confess right away, otherways you will do it behind that door!”
Chapter 6. The Verdict
Annette is in a state of shock from what has just happened to her in such a short time. At first she cannot think clearly. Is this really happening to her? She looks around. Under the roof there is a small barred window that lets in some light. On the floor, a pile of straw where somebody has been lying before, perhaps the flogged boy. In the opposite corner is a bucket with a lid that does not help much to keep away the stench. It has probably not been emptied after the previous prisoner. So this is to be her home for, well for how long? Maybe the Marquis would let her go after a few weeks in this dreadful prison; he is a noble man who would not like to harm a pretty young virgin. But she can hardly believe her own optimism and the sight of the whipped boy comes back to her mind again and again, and each time she shudders.
She spends the rest of the day in sad thoughts, but the worst of the stiffening shock is eventually fading away. Before dark she hears the prison door being opened and footsteps coming down the stairs. Not the guards, but a middle-aged woman who is carrying a small tray with two bowls on it and two slices of bread. Locking up the cell door she asks:
”What’s your name girl?”
Her voice is not offensive, but not very kind either.
“Annette”, she answers with a reluctant smile, happy to meet a person of her own gender.
The woman remains standing there looking at Annette. Then she shakes her head, sighs and putting the tray on the floor says:
“I’m the jail keeper’s wife, my name is Denise. The jail keeper himself you will learn to know tomorrow, because he is also the executioner. I’m bringing you water, soup and bread. Now, listen carefullyto me because I will not be coming here tomorrow morning. Eat the soup and one slice of bread tonight. Save the other one and half of the water for tomorrow morning. You will get your verdict and be punished tomorrow at noon. Remember to relieve yourself on that bucket before the guards come and get you, so that nothing embarrassing happens during the execution. And you had better leave your waist coat here in the cell. The guards are so clumsy, they may tear it. You won’t need it at the execution and afterwards you will be brought back to this cell”.
Annette would like to ask the woman a lot of questions, but as soon as she finished her short message she locks her up again and leaves. So, again Annette is alone. How hungry she is! A day full of tensions and hardships have
taken their toll. There is no spoon so she starts drinking
the soup. It tastes good! It does her well and when she has eaten one of the slices and had some water she lays down on the straw bed. To comfort her soul she starts to sing songs that her mother taught her when she was a c***d. She sings until the cell has become pitch dark. After all that has happened today she feels very tired, prays, and the food warming her belly, Annette falls asl**p – like a c***d.
The light fills the cell when she wakes up next morning. First she does not understand where she
is and anguish falls over her. She then recalls that the prison woman had said that today she will receive her punishment. Maybe she will die before the executioner is
finished with her! She will not even see this dreadful dungeon! The thought of death, to her own surprise, suddenly makes her feel almost secure to be where she is! She then remembers the bread saved and the water. Eating and drinking she feels a little better.
But, still, what a horrible pain it is to just sit there and wait for her verdict and horrible torture, without being able to do anything about it. Annette starts to sing again. But the time passes slowly.
Her kind mother comes to her mind, as clearly as if she would be alive and there with her Annette. Oh, had she been alive and here in this cell with her, she would have been such a wonderful comforter. She would have told Annette that she is a strong and brave girl. That, really she had deserved to be punished, maybe not so severely for such a petty crime, but that the punishment can be endured, as her mother had survived all her ordeals until pneumonia managed to kill her.
Annette recalls what her mother told her the year before she died. In Annette’s age, before working in the inn, like Annette had been doing now, she had been a servant to the old Marquis who was widely known as a very strict, not to say sadistic person.
In a small backyard of the old part of his castle where he lived with his f****y, there was a pole with an iron ring so high up that only a tall person could reach it. Hence it could not have been intended for tying a horse. No: here servants were deliberately punished for misbehaviour in service! The Marquis did not need any courts, he believed it was his divine right to punish his servants as he pleased, when found guilty.
Men, women, boys and girls, all had to strip to the waist. There wrists were tied together and the rope fastened to
the iron ring, so that the body was stretched. Then they
were whipped between half a dozen and two dozen lashes, depending on age, gender and seriousness of the crime.
In most cases it would be the young girls who had not yet become acquainted with habits and duties of the castle who got into trouble and were whipped in front of the staff, the Marquis and his f****y. Often there were guests visiting the Marquis and they would also be invited, as a sort of entertainment, to witness the sufferings of some poor young maid. The servants would watch the execution standing in a half circle around the pole. The nobility watched it from windows.
During the three years she worked for the Marquis she
was punished twice, once having worked for just a week, and once before she quit, the latter punishment being severe and actually the main reason why she took another employment. She was just fifteen the first time and eighteen the second.
In her cell, the time of the day can only be guessed at from the light that reaches the dungeon through that tiny
window. When Annette feels that noon cannot be far away she walks across to the privy and is happy to be able to relieve herself completely. She wipes her bottom with the straws and throws them in the bucket. She puts the lid back on the bucket and at the same time notices that, to her great surprise, she is already so used to the cell; that she is almost insensitive to the stench! Then, slowly, she takes off her waistcoat and puts it down on the straw bed. Instinctively Annette covers her breasts with her hands, but then realises how foolish she is because nobody can see her now and very soon she will stand before the crowd not allowed to wear anything to cover them.
A moment later, there is the sound of a key in the door upstairs and she hears the footsteps of two persons approaching. She realises what this means and gets really frightened, shivering as if being cold. The same two guards that arrested her the day before are locking up the cell door, coming to get her! Again it is the older one speaking to her and giving Annette a sharp order to rise. When she is upright the guards do the same as when shackling her in the market place; one holds her arms behind her back and the other shackles her wrists. They then grab her arms and march her out on her trembling legs, up the stairs and through the hall to another door to the left, opposite to the entrance door that stands open. She gets a glimpse of six guards and a drummer boy waiting there in the yard – for her!
Her two guards now open a double door and lead Annette into a big room with a high ceiling and large windows, like a church. The guards close the doors again after them. Behind a long desk placed on a podium sits a nobleman. It must be the Marquis himself whom she has never seen before. To be the son of a sadist he is an almost kind-looking gentleman. At the left end of the table sits a short and fat gentleman writing, it must be the court secretary. The Marquis has a long, white and curly wig. He looks very noble in his official garments. There is a glass of red wine standing in front of him on the table.
She makes a deep curtsey and the guards let off her arms
to allow her to do it. Afterwards they regard it as
unnecessary to hold her arms because her wrists are shackled behind her back, and anyway, there is nowhere to escape.
The Marquis looks at Annette for a while, then leans forward as if to take a closer look, and asks:
“What’s your name, girl?”
Annette answers, curtseying once more. The Marquis gets a paper from the writ. With a tired voice and a strange accent he recites:
“Yesterday you were caught red-handed, stealing three copper shillings from a fishmonger in the market place. Do you have anything to say in your defence, or do you confess to your crime?”
Annette first looks down at the floor, remembering the door to the torture chamber, then looks fearlessly into the eyes of the Marquis and says:
“Yes I stole them, but please have mercy on a young maid”.
The Marquis turns to the secretary and says something. Annette cannot hear, but the secretary nods in return.
The Marquis puts on his spectacles and lifts up a big law book he has in front of him and starts droning:
“Annette Bourget, you have been found guilty of theft of three shillings in the market place yesterday, the first of July 1713, and you have confessed to your crime. In the name of His Majesty Louis XIV, the glorious king of France, and as his humble servant, I hereby sentence you to the punishment prescribed by His Majesty’s law for this crime, which is the following: You shall be taken out to the scaffold in the market place, where your crime and your punishment shall be announced to all people by the court secretary. Then you shall be stripped to your waist and tied to the rack, there to receive fifty hard lashes on your bare back.”
When Annette hears the severe verdict she would like to cover her face in agony, but cannot do so, her hands being shackled behind her back, so instead she bends her head down and starts to sob, silently. She is so pretty standing there with tears running down from long eyelashes and down her cheeks. Her girlish breasts under the thin linen are wobbling from her sobs.
” Isn’t that girl too young and innocent to get such a cruel punishment?” the Marquis thinks to himself. “I don’t want to be like my father”.
Those in the room think that the silent means that the court will now be closed, but the Marquis raises his right hand. He hasn’t quite finished yet. He asks her one more question, about her age. When he hears the answer he turns to the secretary, shaking his head. He then looks at Annette again and proclaims:
“Because of His Majesty’s mercifulness, my pity for you, and your youth, I shall show you leniency and change
your sentence. But you must give me a solemn promise never to sin again. Because if you do you can be sure there will be no mercy. You may even be branded. But for the first theft of a small sum, your youth, and against your promise, I hereby reduce the number of strokes to thirty.”
Annette looks up stopping her sobs and nods, whispering through tears that she promises.
“Guards, proceed, the court is closed”, he says and takes a big sip from his wine glass.
The two guards turn her around and lead her out to the yard. The secretary hurries to join them. Still walking he shouts an order:
“Guards, form a troop, drummer take the lead!”
The drummer boy stays where he has been waiting, he knows his place. The guards form a small parade standing in pairs. After them comes Annette, one guard
on each side. Last stands the secretary who now orders:
“Drummer: drum! Troop, forward march, one, two, one two!“
And the small procession starts marching towards the wall gate that the two guards standing there open for them.
Entering the market place Annette discovers that the it is filled with people, all waiting to see her humiliated and suffering. The whole town seems to be there as if there would be a hanging. It seems that a good whipping attracts as many people, in fact much more in this little town than a theatrical performance by a travelling drama group coming there once a year.
People give way for the procession. Annette seems to be walking mechanically, as if absent. The rumour has spread that Annette is unusually pretty. The crowd shows
no sign of being disappointed of her looks. It is a much greater pleasure to see a pretty young girl being stripped and whipped than when some one old and ugly is to be punished.
The procession marches towards the scaffold and Annette soon discerns the dreadful executioner standing there, ready for her. He is strong looking and hairy, dressed all in black, just a vest on his upper body. He wears a hood that covers half his face, safe for wholes for the eyes. On his feet he wears leather boots, coming all the way up to his knees. There is something looking as a reel hanging from his belt, probably the whip. His and the prison woman’s two sons are standing behind the poles of the rack. The younger one could be eleven, the other a couple of years older.
The rack consists of two poles and a bar on top, connecting the poles, and holding them firmly together. The rack can also be used for hangings, in which case there would be one rope hanging from the middle, ending in a big noose for the neck. Now there are two ropes,
each one ending in a smaller noose to be fastened around the wrist.
When the drummer boy reaches the two steps leading up to the scaffold he takes a step to the left, stops and turns, around still drumming. Half of the guards turn left, half right to take up positions around the scaffold. Their duty is not to allow anybody to interfere with the execution. Annette is led up to the scaffold and is turned around. Standing there she notices that the Marquis himself is standing with another man and a woman on the castle balcony. Looking furtively around she sees people in all windows. Then she lowers her eyes, feeling ashamed wearing only this almost transparent linen.
A noise, as if many persons were whispering, can be heard from the crowd. Annette is so young and pretty!
Her girlish breasts are standing out under the thin linen. Her back is straight, her hands being shackled behind her.
The last person to climb up on the scaffold is the secretary who immediately orders the drummer boy to stop. He raises his hand and commands silence. With a hoarse voice he starts to read, first about the crime, then the verdict. When he comes to fifty lashes the crowd
cheers, only soon to show their discontent when they hear the final, more lenient verdict.
The secretary puts the paper back in his pocket and orders the guards to prepare the prisoner for her punishment, and then leaves the scaffold following the proceedings standing be the side of the drummer boy. The guards nod back at him. One guard turns to stand in front of Annette and starts opening the ribbon knot holding together her décolletage and again one guard goes behind her, now to free Annette’s wrists. Together the guards then pull down her petticoat so that it remains hanging down from her waist, the whole of her upper body now being completely naked. The crowd cheers and obscenities are flying through the air. Annette tries to cover her small girlish breasts, but the guards take one arm each, turn her around and drag her to the whipping rack.
At the rack they raise her arms to insert her hands into the loops. The boys are standing ready with the rope ends in their hands. When Annette’s wrists are firmly secured they pull at the rope ends so that her arms are stretched. They fasten the rope ends in hooks on the poles. Annette stands like a capital Y, with arms wide stretched, her small breasts becoming so flat that they hardly protrude, except for her girlish nipples. Her rib cage is visible as shades. Small fluffs of black hair can be discerned in her armpits. The hair on her head is big, curly and uncovered, reaching down to her shoulders. She is ready for her punishment.
Chapter 7. Arnold
He has come early to get a place just in front of the delinquent. The inn lord informed him on his arrival about the great event the next day. Arnold travels with his own wagon and driver. The landlord gave Arnold the whole story circulating in town about how the girl had tried to fool the fishmonger and, when caught red-handed, tried to run away. With a grin he adds:
“We are small town people here, but mind you Sir, we are honest, but no fools. Young or old, man or woman, we catch the thieves and it will be fifty lashes even for the first theft, no matter how much or how little”.
He adds that Arnold does not have to bother mixing with the crowd. He can have a good view of the flogging from an upper floor window in the inn. But Arnold has decided right away that he will not only stay for another night so that he can witness the execution, but that he also wants to stand close to the poor girl.
He has been visiting his late wife’s relatives, an old grandmother, two aunts and an uncle. They live in a manor, two hours’ journey from Grenade. He left his six year old son with the relatives; how could he take care of the boy alone, now that his wife is gone?
He ends up here in Grenade on the first lap of the long voyage back to Paris, where he is a lawyer. He is thirty-one years old and, as said, already a widower. His wife died recently. Together they had just one c***d, this boy,
Jules, six years old. Another c***d, a girl had died only three months old.
Why is he so interested in a small town thief being duly punished? He has never had any inclination towards watching public executions; his business as a lawyer is to help rich people in financial conflicts, inheritances, divorces, etc. Where he lives in Paris there are no gallows or whipping posts anywhere nearby, and although he has once seen a hanging and witnessed public whippings a couple of times, more by accident than on purpose, he would never bother to go anywhere to be present at such ghastly business.
The reason to all this is that Arnold is a humanist. He has a spacious, beautiful home and he is a collector of fine arts and books. As a lover of music he plays the flute and often invites professional musicians to his home to entertain guests. His conviction is that all human beings, even criminals should be treated fairly, especially first time offenders, for whom the crown should provide closed institutions of correction, where they would be guided by morally impeccable individuals. Corporal punishment should be rare and mild, the death penalty applied only in cases of repeated and extremely serious crimes where there seems to be no way back to decency for the criminal.
The two floggings he witnessed by chance many years ago were to be considered ordinary. The culprits were both males; one was about the age he is at the present, the
other one was some ten years older, a big, fat man. The thought of having a sixteen year old girl punished in this
cruel manner is completely alien to Arnold! It not just makes him angry; the very thought fills his heart with sadness and disgust. What a time to live in!
Is there anything he can do to help the poor girl? After all, he is a lawyer! He has been thinking about it all since he heard the news. Still, every time he comes to the same conclusion that judicially the verdict is correct and cannot be changed by anyone. Except by the court itself, which could reduce the punishment, considering the prisoner’s age and sex. But after the verdict has fallen, not even that venue is open anymore. That is, if the judge has not applied the leniency paragraph in his verdict, which Arnold prays to God, he has.
The only thing that is in Arnold’s power to do is to see to it that he gets a place right in front of the poor girl and from there he can try to get into eye contact with her, perhaps shouting something encouraging to her. Show her his sympathy! Not very much, indeed! She may also be too upset to notice him, or too ashamed to look at people around her, but it is worth a try.
Here, in front of the scaffold, he has been standing for quite a while when finally the drum of the procession can be heard approaching and he soon sees the girl for the first time. Her beauty shocks him. He does not know what happens within him, but then remembers that this was the feeling he had when he first met his dear wife! She wasn’t much older then than this girl. At that occasion it was love at first sight. Could it be the same now?
As he expected, Annette’s head is bent down from embarrassment when she is led up to the scaffold and turned around. He can now admire her from behind. Her proportions are perfect and her posture too. Her back is straight and being f***ed to hold her hands behind her makes the shoulder blades stand out like buds from which silvery fairy wings could grow. Oh, Arnold wishes his dream would come true and that the girl would fly away on as an angel, away from this ghastly place, crowded with evil people wanting to destroy her.
When they fasten her wrists in the nooses she looks up, turns her head both left and right to see what they are doing to her. The secretary then gives the order to start the execution. She has turned as much as the ropes allow her and now sees the executioner bowing to the secretary showing that he has heard the order. He then unfastens the whip from his belt and turns towards Annette. He swishes the whip in the air as if testing it.
She immediately turns away to prepare herself for the first burning stroke.
Even at this horrible moment Arnold can’t help noticing how pretty the girl is. For a second he has seen her frightened brown eyes with the long eyelashes, her big brown and curly hear, almost covering her brow and the slim, well built body. Also, to his great relief, he notices
that the whip in the executioner’s hand is of a smaller and lighter type than the one used on the male criminals he saw punished.
It is when she has turned her head back again and looks forward in horror that she gets a glimpse of the people in front of her. Among the faces, young and old, men and women, so full of expectation, like hungry wolves, she sees this handsome man’s face, kind and full of pity, his mouth turning into a sad smile. His lips are moving, as if he were saying something comforting to her. To Arnold’s great surprise she meets his eyes and he notices a faint smile in the corner of her mouth, just for a second. It is brutally interrupted by the swishing sound of the whip that breaks the complete silence in the market place.
Chapter 8. The suffering
The swish ends in a wicked whack as the single leather lash hits the girl’s soft, naked back. Her whole body is thtrust forward by the blow. Her muscles get tense and her head is thrown back, her face turning into a grimace of overwhelming pain, and showing two even rows of white teeth. But no sound escapes her lips!
The executioner waits for a few seconds to let her recover. Then again the whip blows down on her. Annette now bends her head down, as if trying to conceal her face showing how much she suffers. But she would not yield to screaming!
The younger boy standing by the pole to her right now holds up two fingers in the air to signal the first two lashes. The crowd is not silent anymore as when they awaited the first stroke. You can hear encouragements to the executioner to strike harder. But blow after blow hit the poor girl’s back, she twists and bites her white teeth together, but no sound has yet been heard when the boy has all his five fingers of his left hand in the air.
This is where, according to the rules, the execution is to take a short break to allow the prisoner to recover and for himself to move over to the other side of the scaffold. This makes it possible for him to better the prisoner’s entire back and spread out the lashes evenly, so as not to cause unnecessary injury. Also, if he has covered the sight for somebody in the crowd, now he would cover somebody else’s view. Fair enough. Standing now on the opposite side he slowly moves the whip from his right to his left hand, which will now deliver the next five strokes.
Perhaps the executioner pities the weak young being and does not use his full f***e in the blows. At least this seems to be what some in the crowd believe, and it makes them more and more frustrated. They are expressing their disapproval in loud shouts. He answers them with a gesture showing that the girl’s stubbornness will soon come to an end. And so it well might, because, according to the rules, the next five lashes are to come in fast succession, with no time for recovering between strokes! Just as Annette was punished for insulting the gentleman. But that was just a birching.
At this point even the brave would often break. If Arnold had stood on the opposite side of the scaffold he could have testified about five nasty red stripes on Annette’s back, proving that, opposite to what the cruel spectators claim, the executioner has lashed out hard at the poor girl.
Annette has had time to somewhat calm down and the first thing she does when opening her eyes is to find the young gentleman’s eyes, immediately to be met by the kindest of smiles. Arnold shouts to her: ”You are so brave young lady!” She manages to smile back, forgetting that she is half naked; it doesn’t matter if he sees her naked, even completely naked. She has time to
thank God for the presence of this angel at this horrible moment in her life.
Arnold has noticed the dark fluffs in Annette’s armpits. As the sensual man he is he realises that there must be a
third black fluff further down. Oh, if he could see this
beautiful girl without any clothes at all! But naturally not here. In private!
No long interludes are allowed. The whip whistles through the air and whack,… swish, whack,… swish, whack,… swish, whack, …swish, whack! The strokes shower over the poor girl. At the end she can’t help letting out a hardly audible groan. Her breathing has become fast. Still, this is not what the crowd expects, and again indignant shouts are heard. The executioner waves to them to calm down. Some of the guards turn around and look menacingly at the hecklers.
The younger boy now holds up both his hands clenched, and the older boy his left thumb to indicate that the first ten strokes have been delivered. The executioner walks back to the other side and resumes his first position to continue flogging with the whip in his right hand.
Now, five strokes with breaks are in turn. Red welts are criss-crossing Annette’s back. Five from NW to SE, five from NE top SW. One might think that for pity’s sake, she has now had enough punishment for three copper coins. But of course not! This is just the beginning! The executioner aims and there comes number eleven: swish-whack.
She must be of a very special breed to be able to stand pain, Arnold thinks. Still not a sound from her! And not after the next, or after any of the five lashes where she is allowed to breath between the strokes. Arnold can hardly believe what he sees! How can so young a girl be so brave? Very strong emotions overwhelm him. Seeing that frail body stretched up with arms wide apart, suffering so immensely reminds him of the Passion of our Lord. The pity for this young girl arouses strong emotions in him, touching at the sorrow he has after the loss of his young wife and also of his baby daughter, who would perhaps have become as pretty as this girl.
The smaller boy holds his left hand fingers sprayed, the older one still his thumb. Now comes the real test of both the executioner and the girl as the former again changes sides for the next fast five. Fifteen lashes and still not a sound! The crowd’s protests have become stronger. Many are disappointed. Not just has the girl’s punishment unwisely been reduced, the executioner doesn’t do his job properly! Already half-way and he hasn’t managed to make his little victim scream! Grown-up men might have started much earlier. Some women would right from the start sound like pigs being slaughtered. The executioner again tries to calm down the hecklers, but to no avail.
Does he start to feel that he may be risking loosing the
tips he would get for a good job? The sweat covering his body is proof enough that he has been working hard, and fifteen neatly distributed, nasty criss-crossing red stripes on Annette’s back should convince everyone that she has suffered dearly, but: that she is prouder and braver than most!
In order to achieve the result that he and the crowd yearn for, and forgetting any pity he may have felt for his poor
victim, he starts to lash out as hard as he can, not interrupting the series of blows for one second. As after
the previous fast lashes a low “aooo…” can be heard by all standing near. There are some cheers in the crowd, but there are also a few who shout: “More of that please!”
She is now breathing very heavily and sweat is
running down from her forehead and her whole
upper body glistens of sweat drops. Streams of sweat running from her armpits, where the hair is glued to the skin. Arnold can see that her legs are shaivering, as if of cold. Maybe she will soon faint. He actually hopes she will, she wouldn’t feel the pain. To his disappointment he discovers a wooden water bucket standing near one edge of the scaffold. One of the boys would certainly be ordered to throw cold water on her to wake her up in case she fainted. She must not miss any part of her cruel punishment. Every time she opens her eyes they meet Arnold’s. And a miracle happens: even now she gives him a very small smile.
“Look, the girl is laughing at your efforts!” one woman standing next to Arnold shouts to the executioner.
The mumbling of those around her shows that they agree.
The older boy now holds up his thumb and his forefinger. Ten more are to come. Would she have to give in and start screaming for mercy? The executioner changes sides. He is to use his right hand again.
This time he lets the whip whistle one idle circle above his head before letting it fly down on the girl’s tormented back, so as to increase the velocity of the lash. It may have worked because Annette hisses and twists furiously, showing that, indeed, she is far from fainting, only suffering tremendously. Now comes the next stroke, at least as hard as the previous one, again followed by a moaning sound. She tries to keep her eyes fixed on Arnold during the three following lashes, but it is not easy, and the moans become louder. Some in the crowd seem to be better pleased with the performance now, and those who can see the girl’s back have no objections. Her whole back has turned red and dark red welts are all over it. The boys are only of help to count the strokes for those who can’t see her from behind, because every stroke can be counted on her back. Where the welts cross crimson wounds have appeared. Where the skin has cracked, bl**d drops have oozed forth. Can she really take more beating?
The younger boy now holds five fingers in the air, the older one still two, and for the last time the executioner is walking across the scaffold changing hands for the whip. Now for his – and Annette’s last test!
He does not start right away. For a moment he measures his young victim with his eyes, as if he were thinking how to lay up a strategy to get this stubborn girl to howl. Then again the executioner lets the whip whistle an extra circle before it cracks down heavily on Annette’s lacerated backside. The circular movement doesn’t stop, it continues two laps and comes, whack, down again. Annette has closed her eyes and holds her breath, but that lash must have hit a sensitive spot, because now, for the first time she lets out a low howl, and for every fast and heavy blow it becomes louder: “aiiii”. When the two last lashes hit, her mouth is wide open and she screams uncontrollably.
But now the older boy holds up three fingers in the air – thirty lashes and the execution is over! Arnold feels
greatly relieved. She exceeded all expectations. There are no protests from the crowd anymore. The executioner at last managed to get the girl to how, but not cry for mercyl! Somewhat reluctantly, the crowd takes up an applause that increases when most people think justice has been done in a proper way. Still, some probably applaud more Annette’s courage than the executioner’s cruelty, especially the women and the girls of Annette’s age, of which many are present. It is considered good for them to be reminded of what can happen to a mischievous young lady. But the result is quite the opposite: Annette is their hero!
The executioner thanks the crowd, not least for the coins that are thrown onto the scaffold. He makes a sign to the guards who brought Annette there to come and take her down. The welts on her back are turning purple from the bl**d under the skin. The boys standing ready at their rope ends open the knots and let her arms come down. The guards open the loops and let Annette’s hands down. The legs of some prisoners do not hold them when after a flogging they are unshackled, so the guards support Annette’s arms. She gives them a sign that it is not necessary, so they just put on her handcuffs but now with hands on her belly side. They do not pull up her petticoat, perhaps to avoid bl**dstains on it. More probably to increase her humiliation and to keep the welts on her back visible to the crowd.
She is turned around and marched down from the scaffold with her upper body still naked. Arnold now sees the terrible traces of the whip on her back. They seem to get darker by the second. Under the secretary’s command the same procession, led by the drummer boy, resumes its formation and marches back towards the castle. When the last glimpse of the girl’s lacerated back disappears through the wall gate, the crowd starts dissolving.
Annette is led back to her cell, where to her surprise the woman who brought her food the day before is waiting. The same tray stands on the floor and there is also a wash basin filled with water, some ointment in a jar and a clean rag. Not all people in this town are against her! There was that wonderful gentleman and now this woman! Annette feels that it is very kind of that woman to come to her after what these terrible men have done to her.
“First you eat and drink, then you can lie down on
the straws and I’ll do what I can to your poor back. You’ll soon feel much better”. Annette thanks her and starts tasting the food, a piece of grilled fish, some pees, half a cooked turnip and two slices of bread. Oh, she is hungry, but first she has to go and sit on the bucket. Then she attacks the food with great energy and drinks the water; oh how thirsty she is having sweated so much!
After the meal, devoured in silence, Annette lies down on her belly on the straw bed, her upper body still naked and the old woman starts washing her whip marks. Again she has to suffer terrible pain in her back, but if she didn’t howl at the rack – or well, just at the very end, she wouldn’t utter a sound now! The woman says that Annette is indeed a very brave girl. Since the woman did not witness the flogging she now asks Annette if she was howling from the start.
“Only at the last three lashes, and I never asked for mercy!” she answers.
“Oh” the woman says, “You must be the bravest prisoner
I have met so far, men and women, young and old”.
“Madame Gourger, what will happen to me now?” Annette asks.
“You will have to stay here for three days, but I will take good care of you. After that you can go wherever you like, because you have atoned for your crime. But, please take my advice: do not ever do it again. I say it to you because criminals have a tendency to return to this ghastly place. I do not want to meet you here ever again, do you hear me?!”
“I woun’t” Annette replies. “I promised the Marquis”.
Chapter 9. A miracle
Later in the afternoon, when the woman has left, Annette hears the door open and steps in the stairs. A guard approaches and opens the cell door. But instead of another guard accompanying him, behind him stands the handsome man who comforted her so kindly during her punishment! Her thoughts have been with him ever since. She is convinced that without him she would have howled much earlier. She has been lying on her stomach on the straw bed as the woman left her, but now she rises up, feeling happier than ever, despite her soar back, and indeed, quite oblivious of the fact that she is still naked to the waist! Again, she doesn’t care if this man sees her nakedness, even if she does not even know his name. For the first time in her short life – no doubt about it, she is in love!
Arnold bows elegantly to her showing her exactly the kind of respect she needs most now. Then he says: “My name is Arnold de Ferret, Mademoiselle. Listen well to what I have to say, because I can be here just for a few moments. I know your name and I say to you, Mademoiselle Annette: You have no future in this town, nor hardly in the whole district where rumour of your crime and punishment will fly. Perhaps they will not chase you out of town because you behaved so bravely during the execution. But you will not get a decent job”.
“I travelled to this region to leave my six year old son, Jules with his dead mother’s relatives, not far from Grenade. Listen, I have a proposal to you: come with me back to Paris where I live and become his nanny! I shall fetch him this very afternoon and we shall all three stay the night at the inn. Early tomorrow morning we shall set out on the long journey, you, him and me. That is, if you accept my proposal.”
“But I have been told that I’ll have to stay in prison for three days” Annette objects.
“Don’t worry. I have talked to the Marquis and to the executioner’s wife. Did you know that she has paid your food from her own pocket because she likes you? She is prepared to do it all three days. On the other hand, she is more than happy to see you free and at the same time save the expenses. I also reimbursed her for her expenses up to now. The Marquis was impressed by your courage at the rack and thinks that you deserve freedom earlier. So will you come with me?”
Tears start falling from Annette’s eyes, this time from happiness. She throws herself into Arnold’s arms, without being able to utter a word. “I take it that you agree?” he says. She just nods in his hug, being careful
that he does not touch her back. She places his hands on her unharmed bum instead.
Arnold keeps every word of his promise. Late in the evening he appears with his son in the carriage, and stops
at the castle gate. Jules and the driver wait in the carriage as Arnold is let into the half-dark castle. A guard lights a
torch and locks up the prison door. Annette is awake in the twilight. She is standing behind the bars with a big smile, her white teeth glistening; now she is dressed.
When they arrive at the inn Jules is already fast asl**p. Arnold carries him from the carriage. Together they march into the inn, while the driver stays behind to see that a servant who appears when they arrive, takes good care of horse and carriage. They climb the stairs to Arnold’s and Jules’s room. Arnold has been sl**ping in a big bed with a baldachin, Jules in a smaller one at the opposite wall. Arnold tenderly places the sl**ping boy in his bed and covers him up. Annette not even bothers to ask where she should sl**p; she takes it for granted that she will share Arnold’s bed. It just feels natural.
They lit a candle on the bed table and then they both strip as fast as they can. Before embracing her he asks Annette to stand before him so he can adore her young naked body. He can now see the third fluff of hair under her flat stomach that he fantasised about in the market place. It is hard for him to hold his horses, but he controls himself and tells Annette to turn around. He now sees a bum prettier than anything he has seen before, and, alas, her poor lacerated back. Arnold comforts her by promising her that the marks will heal completely in a couple of weeks and that there will be now scars. . But he adds that Annette was lucky to receive the reduced number of lashes; with fifty, permanent scars may have resulted.
Indeed, what a change between extremes! They are now the happiest lovers on earth. Arnold has been badly missing carnal love for a long time; Annette has no regret for losing her virginity, not to this man. It was intended for him! Only she has to avoid lying on her back. Pain and pleasure are close neighbours. When strong, both can make you scream. She is so aroused that she soon reaches her first climax. Experiencing the height of pleasure Annette now does not hesitate to scream, as she was holding herself when exposed to extreme pain.
Arnold teaches her positions of love making and she is a very clever student. There seems to be no end to it, one climax following the other with screams that must be heard in other parts of the house, They fall asl**p only close to dawn, filled by bliss and completely exhausted .
Jules wakes them up. He has fortunately been so tired that he wakes up late, and has not heard anything of what happened during the night. Annette feels that she went to bed as a girl and now wakes up as a woman. The driver has been waiting for quite some time, because the order was “an early start”. When he sees the couple he understands, and Arnold’s explanation that they overslept is quite unnecessary; in fact a bit ridiculous, given their looks, and some sounds that in fact he couldn’t avoid to overhear through the thin walls of the auberge.
Annette is very happy in her new position, which soon becomes much more important than that of a nanny.
Arnold cannot marry her because of their very different class backgrounds. But he never marries again, and as fate would have it, Annette and Arnold get three healthy c***dren together. In the upper classes this is tolerated,
even if not regarded as acceptable. And for the lower classes we know the verdict. Right from the beginning Jules loves Annette as if she were his real mother. Arnold and Annette are a very handsome couple, to the end of their lives, many, many happy years later.
During the rest of her life, Annette never regrets that she stole those three copper coins, got caught and was duly
flogged. If not, she would never have met Arnold. On the other hand, she had learnt her lesson. She kept her promise to the Markis and never stole anything again. Not that there was any need to steel in her rich household, where she had everything she wanted.
What is the moral of this story? You should never lose hope; happiness may be just around the corner, even at the most horrible time in your life.