"Well," said Juliette, "my father died suddenly and we were left awfully poor."
"You must begin long before that," said Muriel. "It began with my leaving South Parade. You see, Maude never forgave me for winning Juliette from her and tried all she could to pay us out. There was no other little girl left without a senior, and no senior would share her mignon with her, as was sometimes done. She didn't tell about the games at night in the dormitory, for that would have brought down on her head the vengeance of all the seniors, for we were all tarred with the same brush, and she was an awful coward. But she hated us both; Juliette because she could never get her to make love to her gladly, and me because she saw Juliette was quite eager to do anything to, or for, me. So things went on for about a year, until one hot summer's day in the garden I couldn't wait till night, and Juliette and I were having quite a nice little 'Flirtation' on the grass, which was rather long. Maude must have spotted us and told Mrs. Walter , for we were suddenly startled in each other's arms by her voice: 'What conduct is this?'
There she stood looking down on us. 'Get up at once, Juliette, do up your drawers; go and wash your hands and then come to my room.' When we got there, she stormed at us, and talked about expelling us publicly. But I wasn't afraid of that."
"Two hundred pounds a year each," sniggered Juliette.
"Precisely. So she jawed a lot and at last said that in consideration for our parents, and the disgrace, etc., she would let us off with a flogging, but we must never do it again, would we promise? Oh, yes, of course, we would - and we never did - in the garden. She asked us if the other girls did the same sort of thing, and, of course, we said no, and then she asked me how I knew of such things. I said a servant at home. 'I expected as much,' she answered. Looking back now, I, of course, realise she was one of us herself, for she gloated over the details and her eyes glowed as she talked. Anyhow, we got our whipping - a private one, because she did not want to publish our disgrace and get the matter talked about, for fear of putting ideas into the girls' heads."
"Was the whipping severe?"
"Pretty well, I'd had plenty in my time; she loved whipping me, she told me later, after I left school."
"She spanked you, didn't she?"
"Yes, she always spanked us little girls. She used to put us across her knees, turn our clothes up, let down our drawers, and use her hand or the back of a hairbrush. My word, it hurt, too, I couldn't sit down for over a week with any comfort."
"But we paid Maude out, didn't we?"
"How was that?"
"Oh, that evening we held a court martial in the dormitory. We bribed the maid not to turn out the gas for half an hour, and we tried Miss Maude. Naturally all the seniors were eager to punish the sneak, and she was condemned to run the gauntlet and to be whipped by her two victims. It was fun. Picture this kid of twelve," pointing to Juliette, "laying into the fat behind of a girl of eighteen. 'I can't hit hard enough,' she nearly sobbed in her excitement, 'I can't hurt her enough.' I think, however, she managed pretty well, for Maude wriggled as we held her down. Then I had my turn; and at last she had to run naked three times up and down the dormitory between two lines of girls armed with canes. She was marked all over from her shoulders to her knees, both back and front, for she fell down more than once, and the blows never stopped. She didn't dare tell, however, and left at the end of the term, and so did I."
"Before the next term began, Juliette's father died, as she told you, and when I heard of it, I got my mother to have her to stay with us, and be taught by my sister's governess. When mother died, and I was married, I still kept her with me as my sweetheart and companion - my old fool of a husband suspected nothing - and here we still are."
"And she still lets you..."
"Whip her? Yes, habit is strong, and she never became a senior with a mignon of her own."
"I rather like that duel idea," I said. "I'd like to see one."
"I dare say you would, but there's no mignon to fight for ... unless..." and she looked at me.
"Unless you play the part of the mignon, yes, that would do. You be the mignon and Juliette and I will fight for you.
Come on, Juliette, undress him and perch him up ... We'll put him on the piano."
They seized hold of me laughing and I let them strip me and stood on the baby grand piano, while they quickly took off their own clothes and got a couple of towels from the bedroom. The account of their school experiences had quite excited me, and I should have made quite a good scarecrow in a Roman garden.
There was certainly no inutile liguum about me, what there was was utilissimus in the highest degree.
They pushed the furniture back so that there was a clear space. "Ready?" said Muriel. "En garde." They held the towels in their right hands, crouching slightly forward. "No hitting above the belt," said Juliette. Muriel answered with a flick which just missed Juliette's right thigh. Quick as lightning Juliette flicked her towel upwards and just caught the brown curls.
"Little cat, that's the worst of teaching other people tricks." She dodged and feinted and at last, seizing a favourable opportunity, made her towel curl round Juliette's left cheek with a resounding smack.
"Oo," said Juliette and she clapped her hands to the place.
"First blood to me," cried Muriel. Juliette said nothing but kept a wary eye on Muriel, lightly swinging the towel to and fro. Muriel feinted here and there and at last made a vicious cut at Juliette, but missed and overreached herself. That was what Juliette was waiting for. As Muriel stretched forward, she brought her towel twice in rapid succession straight up between her legs. Muriel sprang back out of reach and rubbed herself. Then, springing forward, she rained a perfect hail of blows on Juliette, caring nothing for the other's attacks. She parried with her left arm and flicked here, there, and everywhere. Her quickness of wrist and eye surprised me. At last two cuts, one after the other, curled quite round between Juliette's cheeks, and as the latter retired, she followed them up with a couple of backhanders, both of which reached between Juliette's legs in front.
"Enough, enough, I give in," cried Juliette, who was quite out of breath.
"Come on, Cecil, you're mine."
I jumped down.
"Get the cases, Juliette."
"What," I said. "Do you think you're going to whip me?"
"Mignons always are whipped ... Do let me, just this once ... you can whip me afterwards if you like ... Besides, this is only a love whipping."
"No," I said. "I tell you what. We'll have a triangular duel. I'll take the two of you on, and whoever gets the first cut home shall give his opponent five cuts. Towels or birches, you can choose your own weapons."
"Towels for me," said Muriel, "they're longer."
"Birch for me," I said. "Now, come on." I waited for their attack, and, as I expected, I easily dodged Juliette and parried Muriel's flick with my birch and, before she could recover, flicked her with the twigs between the legs.
"One, get down on the couch, Muriel."
She obeyed. "Not too hard, dear." I gave her five moderate cuts and she got up.
"Round 2," I said. This time Muriel was not so eager; she kept a wary eye on my birch, so that I could not get her towel entangled in it. Juliette kept me busy flicking here and there. At last I thought I saw an opening and cut at her; I missed and quickly both towels came round me, one on each side. Muriel shouted for joy.
"Come on, Juliette, it's our turn now." I could not in honour refuse or resist, but with as good a grace as I could, lay down on the couch and took my five strokes from each of them. Neither of them tried really to hurt me, but made the birch curl wickedly between the cheeks and thighs.
"Round 3, now look out Juliette." She was evidently enjoying it and laughed. Cut and parry followed each other for a minute or two. I dodged this way and that and at last, more by accident, I fancy, than anything else, managed to flick Juliette's thigh. It was only just a graze, but it counted. She received her five strokes and wriggled with pleasure and pain.
We were all of us out of breath with laughing and the exertion. I threw myself into the chair. Muriel collapsed on the couch beside Juliette. The latter put her arms round her and hugged her. They certainly made a lovely picture with their bodies closely entwined. I sat and watched them, but the sight of their naked bottoms proved too much for me, and when I saw Juliette's right hand steal down between Muriel's legs, I got up softly and took the webbing from the case. Muriel's eyes were shut and Juliette lay half on top of her kissing her, her fingers very busy. I reached over them and before they knew what I was doing I had slipped the webbing underneath Muriel and tied them tight together.
"You naughty children," I said in a gruff voice. "I'll teach you. You're not at South Parade now."
And down came the birch on Juliette's plump little cheeks. She kicked and squirmed and, turning away to avoid the blows, brought Muriel's bottom into sight as she turned with her. I was not slow to take advantage of this new field of action.
"Mind my knuckles, though," said Juliette as one cut reached between Muriel's legs.
"They shouldn't be there."
Muriel was now on top, and getting most of the blows. She had also got her hands round Juliette and was busily untying the knot.
She succeeded at last and, jumping up, saw to the case. "Come on, Juliette, we'll pay him out for that trick."
They both seized birches and made for me. I had my work cut out to avoid them, and we all chased each other round the room slashing and cutting at each other with all our might. Very few of the blows proved effective, and at last, worn out with laughing and the chase, we all fell on the couch helpless. Then a less fierce but not less tiring orgy ensued, ending as usual in the bath. This, by the bye, was built on the Roman plan of white marble with steps leading down into about four feet of water. It was a hobby of Muriel's husband, and was quite big enough for three or four people at the same time. It was more like the "plunge" at a Turkish bath than the ordinary bath of to-day. The only drawback to it was that it took rather a long time to fill, and the water was never really hot. Still, as Muriel used to say, it was usually hot enough outside in her boudoir and it was good to have something to cool one.