This is an early version of a story that ended up in The Romance of Spanking series. The published version is a little longer and has an additional scene or two, but it is essentially the same story. The setting is an imaginary medieval kingdom similar to those created by George RR Martin in “Game of Thrones.”
THE LEGEND OF SOPHIA THE FAIR
The scholar called upon the Earl at his manor house, but he was not there.
“You will find him at the Boar and Bugle in the village,” said his housekeeper. “The Lady Catherine is quarreling with her daughters today over their lessons, and he wants no part of it.”
Indeed, from within the walls of the great house he could hear a periodic crack, like twig snapping, and a cry of distress in response. It sounded to the scholar like Lady Catherine was winning the argument.
He found the Earl, Sir Hugh McCaslin, at the inn seated in a corner and chatting amiably with a few of his fellows. The scholar approached and introduced himself.
“Of course,” said Sir Hugh. “You’re the lad who wrote to me from the university at Castile. You are writing the history of the Five Kingdoms.”
The scholar admitted that that was indeed the case. “I am Benjamin Montcrief and the History is to be my master work. So much has happened in the last twenty years and it is important that it be preserved. I have written much about the Great War, but in my research I chanced to hear about the Princess of the Glen, Sophia. Events that occurred at home while the great armies were away had much to do with the Five Kingdoms. So at this point I am most interested in Sophia the Fair. I understand that you knew her. I would like to learn all you can tell me about her.”
Sir Hugh dismissed his fellows to give them some privacy.
“So you want to know about Sophia the Fair? A truly great lady. She ruled The Glen of Mountvail for only a short time, but during that time she was the fairest, and most astute ruler The Glen had ever known. She was beloved of her people, and for good reason. She saved them from conquest at the hands of Richard of Avignon. They are a free people today because of her.”
Montcrief asked, “She was special to you, wasn’t she?”
“Very much so,” said Sir Hugh. “I was the captain of her personal guard.” He shouted to the innkeeper, “Ned, bring more ale. This looks to be thirsty work.” To the scholar he said, “I hope you have some time.”
The scholar smiled. “I will listen all day if necessary.”
Sir Hugh began. “I was a simple hedge knight, but an educated one, when I met her brother Edward. He needed an entourage, some skilled fighters and engineers to be rangers. We became friends, comrades in arms. We hunted together, fought bandits and chased women all over the kingdom.” Hugh shook his head chuckling, recalling a rowdy youth. Then he continued.
“One day when we had returned from a long campaign rooting out a particularly troublesome band of robbers, Edward took me aside. He did not know why, but apparently my presence had caught the eye of Princess Sophia. She wanted to see me. So I was shown to her chambers.”
“She was beautiful, I’ve heard,” said the scholar.
“That doesn’t begin to do her justice. She had long hair so golden it was almost white, a face like an angel and the figure of a goddess. But mainly, it was her eyes. She had the most beautiful, large, deep blue eyes. A man could get lost in those eyes.
“She sought my help in understanding certain concepts in her study subjects and I was glad to help. She said she wanted to learn, but her tutor was a most difficult man and very obtuse, not capable of explaining things in a way she could grasp. After that we spoke quite frequently. I was able to boil complicated things down for her. She was bright, kind, and not at all the spoiled princess that you might expect, being the daughter of a duke.
“Then one day she came to me. She wanted me to see something, she said. I agreed. Who could deny such a lady? It was an odd request. She swore me to secrecy, then she led me through a passage in the walls she knew about and hid me in a chamber from which I could observe her in the keep’s library. That was where she met with her tutor. And she was to meet with him that day.
“Now, not all ladies have tutors, but old Henry DeValsey, her father the duke, wanted Sophia, who was nineteen at the time, to learn law and history, geography and mathematics. He was getting on in years and figured that Edward, who was to be the warrior, might need help ruling The Glen if he had to be absent. War was coming, and King Alfred wanted the knights of The Glen for his army. Anyway, Sophia confided in me. She had been doing poorly of late with her lessons, and there were to be consequences. She wanted me to watch in secret. Someone was to be punished for Sophia’s failings.
“It wasn’t to be Sophia. Like most nobility, Sophia had a whipping girl. Actually, all of her ladies-in-waiting were at risk should she fail at her lessons. So I watched from a hidden chamber as Verna, a pretty lass and one of her ladies, was brought in. Remember, these ladies were Sophia’s close friends, the daughters of minor nobles, merchants and craftsmen who lived at the keep with her as companions. But today one of them had been chosen to be flogged in Sophia’s stead.
“The tutor was angry with Sophia for some recent failing. He bound the poor girl across a stool made expressly for the purpose of chastisement. It had buckling straps on all four legs and a curved in top. Well, when she was all trussed up, he raised her skirts to reveal a most shapely backside, all bare and vulnerable. He took up a rod, which, as you know, is sheaf of several whippy switches, and proceeded to whip the girl, forcing Sophia to watch. He gave her a dozen strokes, hard. The poor girl cried bitterly as stroke after stroke striped her bottom. If Sophia shut her eyes, he made her open them. If she covered her ears he made her remove her hands. For several minutes I saw and heard the swish…thwack! of the rod, saw the futile squirming, heard the piteous wails. It was a thorough switching and they led Sophia’s little friend away in tears.
“So I wondered why Sophia had wanted me to see that. Well, I found out. A day later she came to me and bade me accompany her on a ride. Ostensibly, I was to be her bodyguard in case of an attack by brigands. We rode for a ways until we stopped at a secluded grove. Inside the grove there was a clearing, and I wondered what we were doing there. Then Sophia reminded me of what I had seen in the library. I said ‘yes, but so what?'”
Sir Hugh chuckled. “I’ll never forget what she did next. She asked for my knife. I gave it to her and she cut some switches from a willow and bound them with a ribbon. She handed me this rod, and to my utter amazement, lifted her dress over her head and took it off. Underneath she was stark naked.”
Hugh shook his head. “You never saw such a beautiful creature. Her breasts were full, her waist tiny, flaring into shapely hips and thighs. I was in shock that she’d disrobe before me.”
“She said, ‘I’ve never been punished in this way. If others are to be whipped in my stead, I want to know their pain so I can try harder. If I do better, they will be spared.’
I stood there like a fool while she turned her back. She bent over grasping a low branch and thrust out the loveliest, most perfectly rounded pair of female buttocks you’ve ever seen—firm, round, and exquisitely shaped. Then she said, ‘Strike, Sir Hugh, just like my tutor, a dozen hard strokes. And don’t hold back.’
“You could have knocked me over with a feather. But I did as she asked. I thrashed her like an errant stable boy. She took it. Her lovely buttocks rippled each time the rod struck. Her body flinched and she cried out. But throughout she presented that gorgeous posterior of hers for the rod’s painful kiss. She did not try to evade the strokes. I could see the white of her knuckles as she gripped the branch but she did not let go. Not once.”
Sir Hugh took a long drink. “And it wasn’t the only time. Any time a lady-in-waiting was to be flogged, she made me watch from the hidden chamber. Then we made a trip to the grove. If he used a leather strap, I used a leather strap. If it was a butter paddle, I spanked her with a butter paddle. Whatever the tutor did, I did the same. Later, she told me that she always showed her bottom to the poor girl and they consoled each other. It did not take long before there were no more thrashings. She had mastered her subjects.”
“Then war broke out,” said the scholar.
“Yes, war broke out. Henry took ill and did not go. Edward went. Sophia asked Henry if I could remain on as captain of the home guard and he agreed. Sophia took over the duties of governing. This is how the people know her. She managed the kingdom, seeing to the harvests, maintaining bridges, settling quarrels, deciding disputes of law, hearing criminal matters. It was heady responsibility for a young girl, but she managed it well. But it lay heavy on her.”
The scholar nodded. “Rumor has it, if I may be so bold, that you were more than just a captain of her guard.”
Sir Hugh frowned and leaned forward. “I’ll tell you this just so you know the measure of the woman, but if it goes into that history of yours I’ll find you and cut your heart out.”
The scholar gulped but swore. Not one word.
“She never married. Henry died. Edward was at the war. She had a kingdom to manage. But she was a woman with needs. You understand? I was her confidant and her confessor. The weight of responsibility wore on her. She decided cases that might mean poverty for the loser. She had criminals flogged and put into chains at hard labor. Better than hanging which was Henry’s way, but still. She agonized over the things she had to decide and often felt bad about the outcome. So she came to me as a penitent to her confessor. What I had done in the grove was repeated in her chambers. Sometimes she wanted the rod. Or a strapping with my belt. Sometimes in a light moment she wanted a hearty spanking, to be put across my knee like a child and have me paddle her buttocks to a cherry red.”
Hugh shook his head from side to side.
“I remember this one time she had come to the end of a long day after hearing a long queue of cases. She had been rather short with several of the supplicants, one an elderly woman. She ruled in the woman’s favor but she was rude to her in the process. I think she was just tired. But she told me ‘there was no call for that. I acted like a petulant child. She deserved more respect. I should have my bottom smacked.’ She told me to sit, then she doffed her dress. Clad in her chemise she slid her pantaloons down, lay over my knee and told me to spank her soundly. I did. I spanked her until her bottom was red and she was drumming her toes on the floor.”
“Why did she want this? It tempered her, she said. Took her down a peg. It was a release from the burden of responsibility, of having to be always in control and make all the decisions. When she saw me, she could surrender command, have someone else be in control and hold her accountable. Not that she made bad decisions. She usually didn’t. But she wasn’t perfect and sometimes got it wrong. Then she felt empathy for the losers.”
“In such an intimate setting eventually, yes, we became lovers. I was, in a sense, her confessor and consort. Sometimes we were intimate after a spanking. I discovered that sometimes she became aroused.”
Hugh took a long draft. The scholar fingered his chin slowly and said, “I have heard of women like that. Ones who relish a good bottom smacking.”
Hugh said, “I think that was part of it.”
“Let us continue. What about the incident with Avignon?”
“Well, that was her triumph. It is why they sing songs about her. It is why Avignon has never to this day attempted to attack The Glen.”
“Tell me,” said the scholar. “I know so little. Only rumors.”
“Richard of Avignon wanted both The Glen and Princess Sophia. He lusted after her, the dog. So he manufactured a dispute. It involved hunting rights on the borderlands. For over 100 years the forest folk have hunted in the land between the two rivers that separate The Glen of Mountvail from Avignon. There was even a decree from Henry to that effect and Sophia had ratified it. Suddenly, Richard decided the land was his. He arrested over fifty tinkers, huntsmen, foresters and their families for poaching. He said he had proof the land belonged to Avignon. Sophia was beside herself. He had seized citizens of the Glen and was threatening to punish them all, men women and children. Edward was away and there was only a small home guard and the rangers, no match for Richard’s forces.”
“We knew this was just Richard’s opening gambit, that he had designs on The Glen. So Sophia concocted a plan. She would lure Richard in. She knew of Richard’s lust for her and of his arrogance. So she made him a proposal. If he would bring the fifty hostages to the Glen’s capital at Midvail, she would offer herself, as their sovereign and on behalf of the kingdom, to take their punishment for poaching. There was some ancient historical precedent for this, but no ruler in modern times had ever done it. The punishment for poaching was a flogging of 40 lashes. She would agree to strip naked in the town square and allow herself to be bound and flogged by Richard’s executioner if he would let the hostages go after that. Richard readily agreed.”
The scholar frowned. “That sounds like a display of weakness, of appeasement.”
Sir Hugh chuckled. “Not if you understand her cunning. You see The Glen cannot be invaded by an army. It is too mountainous. The only way in is over mountain passes and through narrow canyons. A very small defending force can do much damage. So the only way such an army can get in is if you let it in.”
The scholar was puzzled. “But inviting him in? It was giving him a free passage to the heart of the kingdom with an armed force.”
“Yes. Sophia counted on Richard’s underestimation of her and on his lust. Richard thought all of The Glen would be locked in with him and a force with which could take our capital. In truth,” said Sir Hugh with a cunning smile, “he’d be locked in with us.”
Sir Hugh paused. “He did not count on the people of The Glen or its geography, subjects that Sophia knew well. He believed that all that stood in his way was a home guard and a few rangers. He had no idea what effect his arrogance would have on an enraged citizenry seeing their beloved princess whipped like a common trollop. You see, Richard thought by dragging their princess into the square, stripping and flogging her, the people would be humiliated and intimidated, and they’d simply give up.”
“So what happened?”
“Richard brought an entourage of 200 men-at-arms. The hostages were marched in shackles behind them. A scaffold had been built in the square of Midvail. Richard and his lieutenants watched from a balcony. His guard collected Sophia who strode bravely, head held high like a queen, to the scaffold. I recall she wore a shift of white. She pulled it over her head and all gasped at her beauty. They bound her to the post and the executioner took up a rod. Since she was a woman, it was to be the lower discipline, laid on across the fleshy parts of her backside.
“The crowd was utterly still. The whipmaster raised his rod and with a whoosh…thwack! the first stroke fell. Sophia arched her back and gasped. Lines of red appeared on her bottom. He whipped her perfect bottom again and again, the rod striking the crowns and underside of her buttocks, mainly. I could see her flesh quiver with each stroke and I knew it was hurting her terribly. It seemed to go on and on in this terrible cadence of the rod whistling then landing with a sharp thwack! Then her body would jerk as her buttocks rippled from the force of the blow. It was rhythmic almost, though the executioner would pause every ten strokes or so to take up a fresh rod. This was more severe than anything I’d ever done to her, even when she’d asked. She writhed at the post, absorbing blow after blow, her backside becoming striped, then nearly purple. The people could plainly see her pain. At each stroke her body stiffened and she shut her eyes in a painful grimace. She fought not to cry out, not even to whimper, but it was obvious that she was suffering.”
Hugh shook his head, recalling that scene. Then he leaned forward and gesticulated with his hands for emphasis.
“Now while Richard was totally absorbed watching this lurid spectacle, no doubt lusting after her body, the dog, we were on the move. Archers were moved into position in houses on the square. A few farmers and craftsmen who had been given weapons training were moved in behind the soldiers. My squad moved up the stairs in behind Richard. I crept toward the scaffold clad in the garb of a huntsman. He wasn’t paying attention, he was too absorbed in the spectacle.”
“In the meantime the crowd was becoming ugly. They were watching their princess humiliated by a foreign despot. Murmurs began to swell that they should do something. They began to pick up rocks and sticks, mallets and scythes, whatever was at hand.”
“Finally the count reached forty. Sophia slumped for a moment. There was dead silence. Then she shouted out, ‘it is done. Release my people.’ But Richard just laughed. ‘You are in no position to make demands, princess. Whipmaster, give her another dozen for her insolence.’
Hugh’s expression turned grim. “He never did that because as he reared back, he got an arrow through the chest. Then the fight was on. Everyone turned on Richard’s soldiers. With drawn swords we engaged Richard and his men.
The home guard led the fight and the people followed, hurling rocks, sticks, anything they could get their hands on. There were too many of us all for Richard’s men. They were overwhelmed by sheer numbers. But they fought their way free of the square and retreated to the stables. They got their horses and rode out, going out the way they came in.”
“I ran up and cut Sophia down. Although she was in pain and shivering, she demanded that we follow Richard and that she lead.”
“After that awful punishment?”
Hugh nodded. “She knew the people would follow her, and that it was the best chance for The Glen to defeat Richard once and for all. You see,” said Sir Hugh, opening his hands, “although they were not trained men-at-arms, the folk of the Glen were mountaineers, hunters, and foresters who knew all the short cuts, the hidden places, the spots for ambush. Richard’s force had to move single file across rugged passes and through narrow defiles. They could be picked off one or two at a time. That’s what I meant by ‘them being locked in with us.’ It was Sophia’s plan.”
“For three days we pursued Richard, hitting him when he was most vulnerable, then vanishing back into the forest. His force steadily diminished until finally near the Volt river we engaged them face to face. I found Richard and I fought him. I personally ran him through. It was most satisfying.”
Hugh paused a moment and smiled a grim smile, remembering. Then he continued.
“After that, it was done. Avignon had no stomach to continue with Richard dead. I don’t think their people ever wanted the fight in the first place. It was all Richard, his lust and his ambition.”
“What about Sophia?”
“We tended her and got her back to her keep as quickly as we could.”
The scholar let out a deep breath. An intense tale, to be sure.
“That is quite a story. But Sophia, she died shortly thereafter, did she not? That’s what I heard.”
“She did. Edward had returned and had assumed the throne. Sophia stepped down for her older brother. But then she caught a fever, a disease of some unknown type. It may have been because she had been weakened after the awful switching and the pursuit in the mountains. She rode, even in that condition—and fought. Did I mention she was an accomplished archer? All I know is, it went quickly. Edward and I were with her at the end. We were afraid it might be plague so the casket was closed.”
“She did not lie in state so the people could see her?”
Hugh shifted uncomfortably. “No, we thought a closed casket best.”
The scholar shook his head. “So unfortunate. You could have married her.”
Sir Hugh shook his head. “Impossible. I am just a commoner. It could not have happened.”
“So you were given an estate after that?”
“Edward was most magnanimous. Yes, I came here to this quiet estate deep in The Glen and took a wife.”
The scholar took his leave.
Hugh returned to the manor house to seek out his wife. He found her in the study. “I see my daughters are taking their lessons more seriously now.” All three were seated at desks scribbling away, occasionally squirming uncomfortably while Catherine supervised, tapping a switch in her hand.
“Quite so, husband. But I had to correct them earlier.”
That explained the squirming. Sitting was, no doubt, a bit uncomfortable.
“Why didn’t you send for a whipping girl?” said Sir Hugh with a wry chuckle,
She spun around to face him. “We’ll do no such thing and you know it. Our daughters always bear the consequences of folly on their own. So no whipping girl.” She narrowed her eyes in mock severity. “Why? Did you want to watch?” Then she leaned in and whispered, “After all, you already have one.” She smiled mischievously. “And, she needs your attention.”
As always, Hugh was struck by her beauty. Even now, after all this time. The hair was whiter, the figure a bit more stout, but still voluptuous and beautiful. But it was mainly those eyes, those deep blue eyes.
A man could get lost in those eyes.