BDSM Library - Miss Berkeley's Voyage

Miss Berkeley's Voyage

Provided By: BDSM Library

Synopsis: A beautiful young woman falls foul of naval discipline and is severely flogged around the fleet.

It was the cook who’d heard the rumour first. It seemed incredible, but Rab had

skulked outside the captain’s door and had heard her voice. He hadn’t been able to

hear what they were saying, but he’d said their tone was sombre. There were those, of

course, who’d said a single woman shouldn’t have been on the ship in the first place,

but Tom had listened to the speech she’d given when she’d first boarded and he’d

been impressed. <P>

She’d introduced herself then as Laura Berkeley, the daughter of James Berkeley,

who’d been a respected colonial administrator in the Caribbean and then Australia,

noted for his liberal views and his reluctance to impose the sort of savage justice so

usual at time – either on his own men or natives. A dozen or so years ago he had

written a letter to the Times arguing against the ready use of the lash in the services

that had won him great favour among the ranks, and derision from the officer class.


Miss Berkeley, with a surprising self-confidence for one so young, had spoken

movingly to the men about her reasons for being on the ship. Her father had died from

some tropical disease three months earlier and she was heading to Australia to sort out

his effects. Moreover, she’d told them, she was determined to carry on her father’s

fight, to improve conditions for soldiers and sailors, for everybody involved in the

colonial enterprise. For that reason she’d determined to make her passage not on a

commercial ship, but as part of this convoy of half a dozen ships, taking prisoners,

soldiers and supplies out to New South Wales, even though it had meant she’d had to

sign on as a member of the crew. <P>

Being honest, he liked her. It helped, of course, that she was so pretty, a slim girl with

warm dark eyes and an easy smile, but any woman could be a disruptive presence on

a ship, particularly one who looked like that. She was so demure, though, that she

remained a fantasy figure, someone the men perhaps dreamed of at night but would

never have considered approaching with anything other than courtesy. She treated the

men well, respected what they said and did while maintaining a distance, listened to

them when they spoke about the life of a seaman.<P>

Most of the men, he thought, felt the same. They’d feared somebody too refined for

them, somebody who would be revolted by daily life on ship, as many of the colonial

wives they’d experienced had been, but she’d been fine. She ate at the captain’s table,

of course, but there was no complaining about the food or the rats or seasickness. And

that was what made the rumours so bizarre. Could she really be facing a charge? The

bosun had said he thought the captain felt uneasy with her aboard and wanted to put

her on a ship back to London when they docked in Cape Coast two days hence, but

there were surely easier ways of going about it.



The captain was fretful. He hadn’t wanted a single woman aboard in the first place,

even if she was as diverting as Miss Berkeley. It was always going to create friction.

She was good company, he readily admitted, but the fact was that she had committed

an act of clear insubordination – and that required action.<P>

Quite what action he wasn’t sure, and that was the problem. Harry Armstrong had

fallen asleep on watch. He was a good kid, and the captain was sure he’d go on to

become an excellent seaman, but falling asleep was a clear offence. The eight lashes

to which he’d sentenced him was arguably too lenient. Armstrong certainly hadn’t

complained and, in fairness to him, had taken his punishment stoically enough. And

that was when she’d got involved. <P>

Demanded a meeting with him. Had told him – him, Captain Appleby, a sailor of 20

years experience, skipper of the Virginia – that he couldn’t treat his men like that.

Had said it was monstrously harsh, and that she’d been sickened by the sight of

Harry’s back. Well of course she had; it was a flogging – it was supposed to make a

mess of his back. He could have given him double that – 12 was the statutory

maximum, although like most captains he’d gone higher when necessary. But she’d

kept going, wittering away about respect and the importance of not ruling by fear.


He started off trying to argue with her, explaining how important discipline was, how

vital it was that nobody fell asleep when they were on watch, but she hadn’t listened,

and by the end he’d been reduced to mumbling, “This is the navy. Get used to it.”


In some ways he admired her passion, her defiance, but she just wouldn’t leave it,

talking about how she wanted to change attitudes like that, and how he was a

Neanderthal. He’d ordered her out of his cabin, and she’d refused to go. And that was

when their argument had reached its crucial point.<P>

“Unless you want a whipping yourself,” he said, “I’d get out now.”<P>

Defiant, those dark eyes sparkling, she’d refused to budge. “Is that the only way you

know how to win an argument?” she’d hissed.<P>

“Get out!”<P>

“No.” <P>

“Out, now!” <P>


He’d walked out, seething. What could he do? From the over-attentive way the

bosun’s mate had been swabbing the deck outside his cabin, he suspected he’d been

listening at the door. Even if he hadn’t, their voices had been raised. If knowledge of

her defiance became knowledge, what would it do to his reputation, to discipline on

board? But what did you do with a girl like that?<P>

If it had been a man, it would have been easy. Half a dozen lashes on the grating,

more if he was a proper crew member. But he couldn’t realistically flog a woman. He

wondered even if she may have been goading him to flog her so she’d have scars to

show that would make her case more powerfully. But he shouldn’t have used the

threat. By saying that he’d contrived a situation where he had to follow through on it

or he’d look weak.<P>

He wished there were someone he could talk to, but he knew what Hudson, his

lieutenant, would say. He’d seen the lascivious glint in his eye, he’d caught him once

sniffing around her cabin after she’d ordered water for washing. Hudson would tell

him to whip her just so he could see her tits. Then he’d probably want her trussed up

in the brig so they could all have their way with her, blindfolded like the crew of the

Integrity had done to that whore in Port Elizabeth so she couldn’t identify them. <P>

But he couldn’t flog her. It was ridiculous, the thought of the cat on the shoulders of a

well-born girl like her. He’d heard the expression breaking a butterfly on a wheel, but

this would be even more absurd than that.<P>


There was a rap on her door. She closed her diary, strode across her cabin and opened

it. Hudson stood there with that ugly smirk on his face. “The captain wishes to see

you, Miss Berkeley,” he said. “Now.”<P>

She felt a tightening in her stomach. She’d wondered if she’d gone too far before,

thought of what he’d said about a whipping. But surely not. Appleby was a dull-

witted man, set in his ways, she thought; not a vindictive or a cruel one. Not like

Hudson, whose ability to combine obsequiousness with insolence infuriated her.<P>

“I shall visit him presently,” she said, and closed the door.<P>

She took a deep breath. She should apologise, she decided. After all, hideous as it had

been to see Armstrong whipped, she knew only too well that far worse happened at

sea. She adjusted her high lace collar, composed herself, and left.<P>

Laura felt a little uncomfortable. There was something strange in the air, a feeling that

the men were staring a little harder than usual, a sense that something was up. She

knocked gently on the captain’s door and went in on his command.<P>

He didn’t ask her to sit, so she stood uncertainly in front of his desk, her hands

clasped in front of her. She wondered if she should have put her gloves on, whether

that would have shown more respect. There was an awkward silence. She cleared her

throat, about to offer her apology, when he broke the silence.<P>

“Miss Berkeley,” he said. “This is a naval vessel, and acts of insubordination cannot

be allowed to go unpunished.”<P>

The room seemed to rush around her. This made no sense. Her throat constricted.<P>

“I respect your views,” the captain went on, “but you must learn to express them in a

more fitting manner. I therefore have no option but to have you flogged.”<P>

“I demand a tribunal,” she blurted. It was her right, and she couldn’t believe a rational

court acting from motives other than hurt pride would pass such a sentence.<P>

“Miss Berkeley,” the captain said, raising his hand. “Hear me out.”<P>

“I demand a tribunal. You cannot deny me my rights.”<P>

“Miss Berkeley,” he said, more sharply now. “That is your right, but listen first to

what I propose.”<P>

She didn’t want to listen. She just wanted to get out of his cabin.<P>

“A tribunal,” she said.<P>

“I propose to give you four strokes of the strap, to be delivered upon your buttocks.”


To be flogged on her buttocks? Like a schoolgirl? She wouldn’t give him the


“Tribunal,” she said.<P>

“It would be here in my cabin, not on deck. And I wouldn’t insist on it being on the


“I will face a tribunal.”<P>

“Miss Berkeley. One final chance. We can assemble a court martial for you in Cape

Coast, but you must know that there is no guarantee they will be as charitable as


She paused. He was right, she knew. The captain was limited to sentences of up to a

dozen lashes and he had gone easy on her; the tribunal could go as high as it liked.

There had been one case of a deserter last year given eight dozen. In the territories

there were rumours of sentences in three figures. They said one man, who’d slept with

an administrator’s wife, had survived 200. But she shouldn’t be flogged at all; that

shouldn’t be a consideration.<P>

“I demand a tribunal,” she said.<P>


When the rumours were confirmed, Tom couldn’t believe how stupid Miss Berkeley

had been. Everybody knew that they made the sentences from court-martials

impossibly harsh so nobody would ever risk standing before one. Surely she knew

that, with the work she was doing?<P>

Then again, he’d never heard of a woman in such a situation before, so maybe she’d

be alright. But what a risk to take. Four with the strap was nothing – a little sting –

even for somebody who’d presumably had limited experience of the lash. And when

you thought of the alternative...<P>

It was Rab who articulated the thought that had played at the back of his mind. “I

dinna know,” he said, in his thick Scottish accent. “I dinna know whether I’m sorry

for her having to go through that, or pleased we might get to see those wee



She’d been confined to her cabin until they docked, and was then placed under

effective house arrest with the warden, a Welsh officer by the name of Jenkins. He

and his wife had been kind enough, but they’d strictly enforced the prohibition that

she was not to leave their large house that overlooked the harbour.<P>

It had taken three days for them to assemble the tribunal that would judge her: the

warden himself; Captain Pugh from the Persistence; Captain McLeod from the

Orpheus; and Admiral Hastings who headed the fleet from the Patience. And so she

stood now before them in the drab courtroom in Government House, suddenly aware

of how serious this had all become. It was stiflingly hot in there, the open windows

admitting the stench of the harbour rather than a cooling breeze.<P>

Captain Appleby had already been called by the prosecution and had given his

evidence, relaying in understated terms their disagreement and explaining his logic in

ordering her flogging. When she listened to it from his point of view she realised

she’d overstepped the mark. She still believed she had been right to object to

Armstrong’s whipping, but her tone had been wrong, and she should never have

defied him. She realised with a sense of mounting horror that she had been

insubordinate, and that her only hope was to throw herself on the mercy of the court,

explain she was naive and new to naval discipline and to pray that they wouldn’t flog

her. The thought of the cat – surely not? – sent a shudder through her.<P>

Then they’d called her to the stand. And hope soon evaporated.<P>


Appleby sat sweating in the courtroom. She looked nervous on the stand, and yet at

the same time weirdly graceful and cool, a breath of air in this foetid place. In her

demure grey gown, cut just low enough that the inside points of her collar-bones

could be seen beyond the lace, with her soft brown hair bound up, she seemed from

another world to the brutish sailors who packed the gallery or from the glum

bureaucrats who would judge her.<P>

He felt pity for her and wondered if he should have pressed her harder to take the

strapping. Maybe Hastings would show mercy, but he had a reputation as a hard man,

and Appleby couldn’t see how she could escape the lash. And it would be the cat from

a tribunal. At best she could probably expect half a dozen in the yard of Governance

House. At least it wasn’t his decision now.<P>

She began to speak, to apologise. He knew now that he’d been wrong when he’d

wondered if she wanted scars to show off as part of her campaign. Her anxiety was

clear. She spoke too quickly, stumbling over her words, and when Hastings silenced

her by slamming his palm into the table, she visibly flinched. From his seat in the

front row, Appleby could even see her heart fluttering beneath her dress. She

reminded him of dove, panicking in a trap.<P>

“Miss Berkeley,” Hastings boomed. “Explain the meaning of this.”<P>

He held in his hand a leather-bound notebook. Appleby was startled. He had thought

this was a simple case of insubordination, but this turned everything in a far more

serious direction. <P>

A new wave of horror hit Miss Berkeley. She visibly took half a pace back, her eyes

widened and her mouth opened and closed twice. Her slender hands seized the sides

of the witness box as she sought to remain upright.<P>

“You clearly recognise the book, Miss Berkeley?” <P>

She gave a half nod.<P>

“Could you confirm that it is yours and that the writing therein is yours?”<P>

“It is.”<p>

She sounded terrified. Appleby wondered what on earth could be in there to cause

such a reaction.<P>

“Would you care to explain to the court what is contained in the book?”<p>

“My notes,” she said, her voice scarcely more than a whisper.<P>

“Notes about?” <P>

“Life on ship. A sailor’s life. What I saw. Conditions. Punishments.” <P>

“You know that keeping such a record is absolutely forbidden?” <P>

“Yes.” Her eyes were closed; her confirmation came as a squeak.<P>

Appleby was stunned. This was almost treason. She would be whipped now, of that

he had no doubt. The only question was how many lashes. But where had they got

hold of the diary?<P>

The answer came to him in a flash. Hudson. The cunning bastard. He must have

searched her cabin after she’d been placed under house arrest with the warden,

looking for anything that could be used against her. What a weasel! What a lowlife!

He wondered why Hudson was so determined to see her suffer, but the answer was

obvious. She must have rejected him, and his revenge would be to see her flogged.



Laura paced around the small room in which they’d locked her. She knew it was

inevitable. She would be whipped. Whipped; the word seemed incredible. She – her –

would be whipped. As soon as they’d finished their lunch they’d call her back into the

courtroom and announce the verdict, but she knew she would be found guilty. She

knew she was guilty.<p>

She’d looked around that room and seen amusement; they wanted to watch her

humiliated and suffering. Some perhaps hated her, disliked her status and the fact she

wanted to change the way they’d acted for years, saw her as arrogant. But most, she

suspected, would see it as an amusement: to see a pretty girl of good birth


She fretted at a handkerchief, fiddling at it constantly between her fingers. She felt a

great heaviness in her belly, and a band of tension gripped her chest. How could she

have been so stupid? Of course they wouldn’t let her challenge them. Of course

they’d punish her. How many? A dozen? Two dozen?<p>

If only she’d kept her mouth shut. If only she’d hidden the diary. Or written it in code.

Or not written it at all until she’d reached Australia. Why hadn’t she accepted his

offer of four strokes? Why was she so arrogant? To think that she could have changed

all this? The image of Armstrong came into her mind. She tried to banish it, but she

saw him, bound immobile on the grating, gritting his teeth in obvious agony as the cat

ripped into his back. And that would be her. Not eight lashes, but 12. Maybe



Hudson stared as the redcoats brought Miss Berkeley back in to the courtroom. She

walked unsteadily but unresisting, her face pale, clearly aware she would be

convicted. They positioned her in front of the two desks behind which the tribunal had

sat and retreated. She had her hands clasped before her, her head bowed as though in

prayer. From his position in the gallery he could see her only in profile, but her terror

was obvious.<P>

The door in the far corner opened, and the room fell silent as the admiral led in his

three fellow judges. Hastings himself was as inscrutable as ever, but the warden was

grim-faced. It must be a flogging, surely? Logically as the offence had happened on

his ship, he would be the lieutenant to supervise the punishment. He would have liked

to have had her, but making her strip to the waist and having her lashed wasn’t a bad


If that was the punishment. Hudson tried not to get ahead of himself. But he, like

everybody else, knew it had to be.<P>

Hastings cleared his throat. There was absolute silence. She raised her head and with

what appeared a distinct effort, looked at him.<P>

“Miss Berkeley,” he intoned.<P>

He paused. She closed her eyes. “You have been found guilty of gross

insubordination and sedition. On charge of conspiracy to mutiny, you were found not


Conspiracy to mutiny? She could have been hanged for that. This was serious. This

was going to be a proper flogging. Maybe two dozen. Hudson’s mind was already

working overtime imagining that.<P>

“You are sentenced to be flogged.”<P>

Yes. The court remained deathly still.<P>

“You will receive upon your bare back one dozen strokes...” – only a dozen, Hudson

thought, but still... – “twice at each of ships of the fleet.”<P>

So dry was Hastings’s delivery that it took a moment for what he had said to sink in.

Miss Berkeley gave a little scream. She was to be flogged around the fleet. Hudson

was stunned. Not a dozen lashes, but a dozen dozen. It was a crazy punishment –

savage beyond belief. Hudson was both thrilled and appalled: the thought of

witnessing a pretty girl being flogged around the fleet, especially one as self-righteous

as her, well, it was beyond his wildest dreams, if he were being honest, but he also

knew she might not survive it, and that if she did she would be a pretty girl no


Miss Berkeley was hyperventilating, bent half-forward, her hands over her face so he

couldn’t see if she were actually crying or not. Her dress fell forward slightly, offering

the slightest hint of a glimpse of the swell of her bosom, and he knew that he would

soon see her breasts fully exposed.<P>

“Sentence to be enacted on Saturday,” Hastings continued, as though he were doing

nothing more consequential than ordering a delivery of wine. “Court dismissed.”<P>


Appleby wasn’t sure he’d done the right thing. He’d asked for a meeting with

Hastings, but even as he’d been shown into his rooms he knew the futility of what he

was doing. Still, he had had to try.<p>

He’d been appalled by the sentence. He hadn’t intended anything like this to happen.

A dozen lashes, two at most, teach her a lesson, but this was monstrous. It was her

own fault, but he felt responsible. After all, what was she guilty of? Of wanting the

men to have better lives? Well, he didn’t begrudge her that. She was naive, a little

arrogant, impetuous, but who hadn’t been at that age? And now the men she’d set out

to save would gawp at her as she was flogged more savagely than even he, with all his

experience, had witnessed anyone being flogged.<p>

His visit had not gone well. Hastings had offered him a brandy, and expressed

surprise when he’d asked whether 144 lashes might not be rather too many. He’d

pointed out she was only a girl, and that she might not survive. Hastings had replied

that there’d be a surgeon with her who could intervene, and if they had to cut the

sentence short it could be completed in a month or two.<p>

Appleby had asked whether, even allowing for that, the sentence wasn’t

disproportionate. Hastings had replied it was the law. He was such a dry, emotionless

man Appleby couldn’t even work out how he felt about that, whether he regretted

having to be the instrument of a force beyond his control, whether he simply saw it as

his duty, whether she had somehow angered him, or whether he just wanted to see her

humiliated and in agony for the thrill of it. <p>

Had he looked soft in petitioning on her behalf, he wondered? Well, his conscience

demanded that he do something. He had done what he could.<p>


The waiting was agonising. They’d brought her down from the courtroom into a small

cell at the back of Governance House. It was stiflingly hot, and flies buzzed

continuously, a constant drone that seemed to have embedded itself into her

consciousness. There was a rough pallet bed, topped with a grimy straw mattress that

stank of sweat and who knew what other seepages, a rusted bucket in one corner, and

nothing else bar the meagre straw that lined the mud floor. <p>

When the heavy door had clanged shut she’d stood for she didn’t know how long,

sobbing uncontrollably, unable to take in what the admiral had said. Finally, she’d

flopped down on the bed, and she’d spent most of the previous two days lying on it

staring at the stone ceiling.<p>

Once a level of calmness had returned, she’d made a cursory inspection, prodding the

stained whitewashed walls to see if there might be a miracle like a loose brick,

tugging at the bars that covered the one small window to see if there might be any

relief there, but there was no hope, as she’d known there couldn’t be. And even if

there had, what was she going to do? Steal a boat and row back to England? Hide out

in the Gold Coast?<p>

And so she lay and stared at the ceiling hearing Hastings delivering the sentence again

and again. “You will receive upon your bare back one dozen strokes twice at each of

ships of the fleet.”<p>

144 lashes.<p>

On her bare back.<p>

A dozen at each of the six ships, and then round again. <p>

She’d had the chance to take four with the strap on covered buttocks, and through her

own stubbornness she’d ended up with what she knew could be a death sentence.<p>

And she’d be naked to the waist. Bound defenceless. Hauled in front of every ship so

everybody could see her suffer. She hated Hastings for sentencing her, for being so

cold, so clearly lacking in mercy. And she hated herself for putting herself in the


She cried regularly, sobbing from a mixture of terror and shame.<p>

144 lashes. Nine strands. 1296 separate tails whipping her back. Her bare back.<p>

How many knots per strand? Three? Six? Nine? Say an average of six. Slowly she

forced her mind to do the maths. Six multiplied by six was 36. 6 in the units column.

Carry the three. Nine by six was 54 plus three was 57. 76. Carry the five. Two by six

was 12 plus five was 17. 776. Carry the one. One by six was six plus one was seven.

7776 knots striking her back.<p>

She knew the history. She’d done the research. The mutineer sentenced to 800 who’d

died after 240. The rapist who’d died 212 into a 400-lash sentence. She’d never heard

of a woman taking 144. There were stories about a local girl in Tonga flogged around

the fleet for biting a captain’s penis after he’d forced her into sex. What had she

taken? They said the sentence was two dozen at each of eight ships and she’d died by

the fifth, but nobody knew how true that was. But a white woman? In Australia, in the

penal colonies, she knew there’d been cases of 30 and 40, but that would have been

with the birch. But 144? With the cat? It was unheard of.<p>

She was exhausted when they came for her a little before dawn on the Friday

morning. She’d slept only fitfully, and that sleep racked by nightmares. How could

you sleep when all the time you were just counting down the hours – 64 of them from

sentencing to the scheduled start of her flogging.<p>


Hudson wasn’t usually an early riser, but that morning he’d sprung out of bed with

great willingness. He’d barely slept, his mind thinking of her. She presumably was

also lying awake a few hundred yards across the bay, dreading what was to happen to

her that day. He couldn’t wait.<p>

He’d taken four redcoats with him as well as a local woman. She must have heard the

bolts being shot back even before they walked in with the oil-lamp, but she’d barely

glanced up as they’d entered her cell, sitting on the edge of the bed, her hands clasped

in front of her as though in prayer.<p>

“Miss Berkeley,” he said, barely able to keep the smirk form his face. “I hope you’re


She kept staring at the floor. The local woman, at a nod from him, stepped forward,

and seized up a handful of Miss Berkeley’s hair. No longer tied up, it hung now in

soft curls over her shoulders. Miss Berkeley flinched instinctively, and the local

woman looked at Hudson. He nodded again, and, drawing a large pair of scissors

from the waistband of her skirts she hacked off a chunk. In six swift clips she was

finished, so Miss Berkeley’s hair hung no lower than her neck, which was now

exposed, long and thin and oddly vulnerable. “Your back must be fully bare for the

lashes,” he said with relish, and saw jaw tighten at the mention of what was to be

done to her.<p>

He handed her his water-bottle. “Drink some,” he said. “You’ll need it.” She looked at

him resentfully, but took it, and drank three long gulps. It was essential, the surgeon

had told him, to keep her hydrated. She handed it back and there was an awkward

pause. Where was the surgeon? He couldn’t go any further till he got here and,

frankly, he was desperate to move to the next stage.<p>

There was a knock at the door and the surgeon blundered in, reeking of alcohol.

“Doctor,” Hudson snapped. “Are you ready to examine her?”<p>

“Yessir.” He withdrew a small ear trumpet from his pocket. As he did so, Hudson

caught the whiff of alcohol; the buffoon was drunk.<p>

“Miss Berkeley.” This was the moment Hudson had been waiting for. She turned her

dark eyes to him. “Strip, please.”<p>

She looked at him, she looked at the surgeon, and she looked at the soldiers. He half-

expected her to beg, but instead she turned away so her back was to them and, her

fingers trembling visibly, she unfastened the clasp of her gown. The first light of the

sun was just breaking through the window of her cell as she fumbled with the next

hooks. As they came undone, he saw a pale, delicate vertebra, and then the white lace

of her petticoat.<p>

The cell was deathly silent, the only sounds the heavy breathing of the surgeon and

the rustling of her clothing. Soon the dress hung open so he could see the outline of

tops of her shoulder-blades through her thin underclothes. Her hands moved to the

front of her gown, and she undid some stays at her waist, then, gracefully but with

obvious reluctance, she pulled it off, letting the grey material slide off her so it pooled

at her feet. She was thin, extraordinarily so. The thought occurred to him that a body

that slight wouldn’t take a dozen lashes let alone a dozen dozen, but was soon

banished as her fingers went to the ribbons at her neck.<p>

He drank in what he was seeing. Such a slender form, the shoulders already bare, the

waist narrow, the legs long and willowy, her buttocks slim and seemingly pert

beneath her underclothes. The ribbons opened, and he began to see the smooth skin of

her back in the grey light. She looked up at the ceiling, and then with a shuck of her

shoulders, the petticoat fell away to join her dress on the floor. She wore a pair of thin

white drawers that covered her from waist to mid-thigh, but apart from that she was


Her arms went instantly across her chest. Her back, unprotected by her hair, was long

and narrow, lightly muscled and seemingly perfectly smooth. Her legs below the

drawers were slim, not a trace of fat upon her. He heard her sniff and realised she was

sobbing gently. The next time she would be clothed she’d have suffered her


“Turn around,” he said.<p>

She hesitated for a moment, then turned, eyes closed, head bowed. Her hands, clasped

across her small breasts effectively hid what he most wanted to see, but for now it was

enough to see her humiliation, her cheeks flushed and her breath coming in short

gulps, to admire the flat belly and the gentle ripples of her ribs.<p>

He saw she was still wearing her cross around her neck, and realised that gave him the

opportunity he needed. “What’s that?” he asked sharply. <p>

She looked up, confused, blinking away the tears.<p>

“Around your neck,” he said. <p>

She raised her left arm a little so that the forearm went across her left nipple, while

her hand still covered the right breast, then moved her right hand away, fingering the

cross. “My cross, sir,” she croaked.<p>

“Take it off,” he ordered.<p>

He watched implications of the command dawn on her, the realisation that it would

take both hands to unfasten the chain. She looked up at the ceiling, her tongue flicking

out and touching her upper lip, and then she lifted her hands. At last, he saw them, her

small, humble breasts, soft but pert, pale in the grey light. Proportion, he thought, was

everything, and while others might have preferred something more substantial, they

seemed to him perfect on her slender chest.<p>

Her hands fumbled nervously at the clasp of her chain, but eventually she loosened it.

Her left arm went immediately back across her breasts, and she sniffed as she held the

chain out towards him. “Put it with your clothes,” he ordered, and she turned,

crouching down to tuck the necklace inside her dress. He admired the long curve of

her back, knowing that in under two hours the creamy smoothness would be ravaged.


She picked up her clothes and lay them on the bed, then turned back, a glint of

defiance in her eyes, as though the mundanity of the act had broken through her

shame. “Hands behind your head while the doctor examines you,” he said, a mocking

cheeriness in his voice. It wouldn’t just be the doctor doing the examining.<p>

Her eyes dropped to the floor as she complied. Hudson drank in the sight. The

surgeon stepped forward, took his small trumpet from his pocket and pressed it over

her heart. Hudson saw her shudder as the brass made contact and wondered if there

were any way he could ask to listen. He wanted to have his head that close to her

chest, to smell her and to let her know he was smelling her. The surgeon pulled back

and patted her firmly on the flank. “She’s fine, sir,” he said.<p>

“Fine?” <p>

“I can’t say how she’ll be after a few dozen, but she’s fit enough for the first


Hudson watched her reaction. She must have known there was little chance they’d let

her off, but still his words must have been particularly dispiriting, especially given

they were uttered with an obvious alcoholic slur. There was no way the surgeon

would be doing anything other than what Hudson wanted, and so long as she didn’t

die, he wanted her to suffer horribly. Then she’d learn that you didn’t reject him.<p>


The sun seemed impossibly bright as they led her out. She wanted to remain calm, to

walk authoritatively to the boats, but the fact of her near-nakedness was

overwhelming. Even the clinical way they’d chopped her hair, efficiently preparing

her to be savaged seemed a calculated insult – they weren’t just going to hurt her, they

were going to do it carefully. And him, staring at her, openly mocking her with his

eyes. The way he’d forced her to take off her necklace and stand there exposed for

him and that drunk of a doctor and the soldiers. How she hated him. She’d hated him

even before he’d knocked on her cabin door on the second night of the voyage, a

wholly unsolicited visit whose purpose was obvious. She’d had to slap him and slam

the door to get rid of him. And this, she supposed, was his revenge. And yet she knew

that having to bare her breasts for him was the least of her worries.<p>

The warden stood in the grounds of Government House, waiting for her with a clutch

of redcoats. She clasped her hands tighter over her breasts and walked, trying to stare

straight ahead, but all too aware of the warm air on her shoulders, belly and back. It

all felt so strange, so unfamiliar, such a hideous reminder of her nudity. As soon as

she left the gates of the house she was reminded far more forcibly.<P>

The streets were lined by locals, who hooted and jeered as she was led into the street.

Rationally, she didn’t begrudge them. This, she realised, must be great sport for them,

to watch one of their colonial masters degraded, paraded before them like this. She

heard taunts and laughter, but she didn’t know the language. For the first time in her

life her small breasts were a relief to her, more readily covered by her arms. Absurdly

she worried about her drawers, wondering what others thought of their pale


Something squishy clattered into her left shoulder, and she turned instinctively, seeing

a boy of about 12 or 13 grinning at her. He transferred a rotten orange from his left

hand to his right and threw that as well. She ducked, and it skimmed over her, but

she’d unconsciously raised her hands to defend herself, and suddenly she was

exposed. There was a surge of laughter and a din of chatter as she hastily covered

herself again.<p>

The redcoats moved to protect her, shooing the boy away, but soon a group gathered,

maybe eight or nine of them, running along beside her, pointing and laughing,

enjoying her shame and ignoring the half-hearted efforts of the redcoats to push them

back. She tried to ignore them, but it was impossible, especially when they started

mimicking the sounds of a whip. Even worse, they then began to act out how a person

under the lash would behave, throwing their heads back, freezing in expressions of

pain, before dissolving into giggles. Tears rolled down her face.<p>


The warden’s wife knew justice had to be done, but that didn’t stop her feeling sorry

for the girl. She stood on the balcony of their home and looked down over the crowds

to see Miss Berkeley being led to the ships. Governance House stood about 100 yards

from the main road along the coast, and she watched as the hubbub moved down the

hill and then along parallel to the sea front. The main road was lined with locals, six

or seven deep, until they got to the British area, where a roped off section allowed the

administrators to watch in peace. There was a mood of carnival among the natives,

excited presumably, to see a white woman degraded, and a group of them ran along

beside the punishment party, clapping and hooting with laughter.<P>

The warden’s wife saw her husband, grave in full dress uniform, and that lieutenant

with the strange smile, and six redcoats to keep order. And then, between the middle

two soldiers, she saw the girl. They’d stripped her to her drawers, and cut her hair,

and the effect was to make her seem horribly vulnerable. She looked terrified, the

self-composure that had characterised her performance in front of the court martial

gone as she twisted this way and that, seemingly trying desperately to see a means of


The way she held her arms over her chest in an attempt to preserve her modesty

served only to highlight how naked she was. As she got closer, the warden’s wife

could see she was crying, her eyes darting this way and that like a frightened animal.

She had a long, willowy body, the shoulders slim and rounded, the chopping of her

hair leaving her neck long and graceful. As she slowed to look back over her shoulder

- responding to an insult perhaps, or maybe just thinking she saw a route out of this? –

one of the soldiers gave her a shove. Her arms fell away from her chest, and a great

roar went up as her slim breasts were briefly exposed. The girl hugged herself tighter

and let loose a whimpering sob. <P>

The warden’s wife wondered if it were really necessary for her to have been exposed,

but then a man would have walked bare-chested to his flogging. As the girl passed,

she saw her back, and felt a sense of revulsion the realisation passed over her of just

how thin she was. That smoothness would not survive four lashes, let alone 144. She

dreaded to think what state the girl would be in when they finished. Still, she’d

brought it on herself.<P>


The girl paused again, and Watson pushed her onwards. He felt the warmth of her

smooth skin, seemed to feel the flutter of her terror in that brief moment of contact. At

that moment he wanted nothing more than to take off his uniform, wrap it around her

and hold her, comfort her. It wasn’t right, whatever she’d done, to humiliate her like

this. Pryce seemed to enjoy it; when he shoved her it was far more forceful, seemingly

designed to expose her breasts.<p>

It was one of those tropical days when the sun barely emerges from behind the clouds,

and the effect was to create a damp heat. He could feel the damp around his collar, his

feet roasting in his boots. She seemed impervious to it, though. He’d expected her

skin to be clammy, but fear seemed to have dried her sweat. <p>

Of course he’d enjoyed it when she’d been forced to strip. Of course he’d enjoyed that

moment when Hudson had made her unfasten her chain and those perfect tits had

been revealed. He’d felt his heart thumping in his chest as she’d been made to stand

there with her hands behind her head, barely able to believe a creature as pretty could

exist. <p>

But parading her in front of the natives was wrong, and he didn’t dare to think about

the whipping she was to receive. She was terrified, twisting and turning, at times

seemingly so numb with terror that walking was a trial. Every jeer made her flinch.

He wished they would pardon her, tell her the fear was penalty enough. <p>

She slowed again, and Pryce pushed her so hard she almost fell, her arms instinctively

extending in front of her as she regained her balance. She shot Pryce a glance,

loathing and shame in her dark eyes, but Watson, having taken in again the contours

of her chest, were more interested in Hudson’s reaction as a thin smile slithered across

his face. For the lieutenant, he realised, this was about something more than the

execution of justice.




The walk had been a nightmare, laughing faces everywhere, laughing at her and her

near nudity. And the end of it just meant the worst part was about to begin. The

soldiers took her arms, the ginger-haired one to her right grabbing her bicep painfully,

his fingers probing at the edge of her breast, the older one to her left gentler, but firm

nonetheless. <p>

Eventually she’d settled into a numb walk, stumbling along, the ground rough on her

soft feet, focusing on nothing other than the boots of the warden in front of her. And

then, abruptly, they were there at the dockside, and she was being led over a

gangplank to the boat on which she’d be flogged. It was long and narrow, staffed by a

dozen slaves. Normally she’d have felt sorry for them, chained to their oars, but she

caught the lascivious stares as the redcoats sat her on a low bench at the stern. <p>

There’d been almost something gentle about the way they’d helped her over the

walkway onto the boat, but one glance at the bow was enough to remind her why she

was there. There, stark and monstrous, a grating had been secured, leather straps fixed

a couple of feet from the top. She knew that in a few minutes she’d be fastened to it

and beaten without mercy. A wave of nausea passed over her as the boat pushed off

from shore towards the first ship.<p>


As the boat pulled in alongside the ship, Patrick skipped down the rope. He tried to

look calm, as though this were perfectly normal, but of course it wasn’t. He accepted

that delivering floggings was part of the job of a bosun’s mate, but a dozen dozen

lashes was crazy. Even a dozen on the back of a girl was crazy. <p>

As he landed on deck, he looked along at her. She looked absurdly frail and delicate

as she huddled there between the two redcoats. Whipping her was ridiculous, but he’d

been clearly warned that he was to show no mercy. The boat pushed out a few feet so

the flogging would be visible to those lined up on deck. They turned slowly so her

back would be to the audience. He stood by the grating, the wooden handle of the cat

in his right hand, drawing the fingers of his left slowly through the knotted cords. He

was uncertain about that, but the order had been clear: she was to take the thieves’ cat,

knotted along its length for maximum damage. <p>

The soldiers helped her to her feet, and walked with her, escorting her rather than

dragging her, but holding her arms firmly so she couldn’t cover herself as they took

her along between the rowers. She was, by some distance, the loveliest thing he’d

ever seen, so slender and pretty. <p>

He drank in the gentle swell of her breasts, slightly paler than light honey colour of

the rest of her body, and tipped by coral nipples that stood erect, presumably with

terror. She seemed unsteady on her feet, her legs reluctant to move, too terrified to

resist. This was going to be like flogging a doll.<p>


She seemed in a trance as the soldiers brought her towards him, pathetically frail

between the two redcoats. Usually Hudson would have hated standing out in the sun

in full uniform, but today he didn’t care. This was a day he’d barely dared dream

about. He stared at her breasts, exposed now to everybody, then glanced at the

grating. It seemed absurdly huge, dark and imposing beside her slenderness. He

looked at the bosun’s mate, a brawny Irishman with a ring in his ear and a reputation

for flogging with calm efficiency. And he looked at the cat, the short polished handle,

maybe six inches long, then the six inches of thick rope before it broke off into

knotted cords. It was a whip, he knew, that could smash through cedar a quarter of an

inch or more. To use it on human skin was savagery, even when it wasn’t skin as soft

and delicate as hers. <p>

The soldiers stopped by the grating, about 10 feet from Hudson. They pushed her

forward a couple of feet, and she stumbled to a standstill, clasping her arms again

about herself. Her eyes flicked to the grating, to the whip, to the men lined up on the

deck of the Hendrick, and then to him. When she caught his eye, she turned away,

flushing furiously so he could admire that fine profile, the smooth jawline and the

high cheekbones.<p>

“Stand to attention,” he ordered. She let her hands fall, and stood, humiliated before

him, her head bowed and her eyes on the deck beneath her bare feet. He could see she

was sobbing, her breath coming in little gasps, her shoulders trembling.<p>

“Laura Berkeley,” he intoned, savouring the moment. “For the crimes of gross

insubordination and sedition, you are to receive 144 lashes of the cat o’nine tails upon

your bare back.”<p>

She shuddered, giving an audible whimper.<p>

“Flogging is to be administered around the fleet. First dozen to be administered before

the Hendrick.”<p>

She raised her head, swallowing hard and blinking as she tried to compose herself.

Her beauty still took his breath away, the clipped hair only emphasising the gentle

majesty of her jawline, the grace of her neck. “Fasten her,” he said.<p>


The soldiers took her arms again and led her to the grating. Baked by the hazy sun, it

felt incongruously warm against her bare chest as they pushed her up against it. The

straps had been tacked on with six nails each, positioned a little above her eye level

perhaps four feet apart. With what seemed to her extraordinary care, one of the

soldiers placed her right wrist against the grating and held it while the other fastened

the strap, yanking it tight before carefully fastening the buckle. She looked dumbly at

her hand, fastened there by a three-inch strip of leather, and then realised they were

binding her other hand. A new wave of terror passed through her and her began

sobbing again, her lower lip wobbling as tears spilled from her eyes.<p>

She looked at the soldier as he fastened the buckle, saw the care and concentration on

his face, and realised this was a job for him, that what was being done to her was part

of cold procedure. She looked over her shoulder at the rows of men on the ship, the

soldiers and crew and officers all staring at her. She looked to her right and the

grinning faces of the slaves and the impassive faces of the other redcoats. She looked

to her left and saw him, that bastard, standing there with a smug grin, and next to him

the drunken doctor, blinking in the sun, and the warden, inscrutable.<p>

And before them stood the bosun’s mate, flexing his right wrist as he ran the fingers

of his left hand through the cruel thongs. He stepped forward, and she pressed her

face into the wood, a strange, terrified squeak coming from her throat. <p>

“Proceed,” she heard him say and she wept, deep sobs juddering through her


For a moment there was nothing. The world was silent but for the slap of the waves

against the ship and her whimpering. She smelt salt on the air and amid the calm she

wondered if somehow she’d been pardoned. She turned her head, looking over her left

shoulder, at just the wrong moment. She saw the Irishman, whip raised, lunging

towards her. She closed her eyes and flinched, but she could do nothing to avoid the


It struck the centre of her back, the tips just reaching to her right shoulder blade. Her

body tensed, her head jerked back and as her body was thrown into the grating the

breath was knocked out of her. “One,” called Hudson. For a moment she felt nothing,

but slowly the pain welled into an intense burning. Through her tears, she let out a

low groan.<p>


Patrick stepped back and shook out the whip. Keep it slow. He saw the pain build in

her, waited until her body began to relax. There was a streak of deep brownish-pink

across her back, broader on the right side where the thongs had opened out. There was

no blood yet, but he knew it would come before long. It always did, and he suspected

her satiny skin would break sooner than most. <p>

Perhaps 20 seconds had passed since the first lash when he delivered the second. This

time she kept her forehead pressed against the grating, resisting the urge to look at

him. He was a good flogger, powerful and precise, and struck exactly where he had

aimed, a little lower than the first, the ends of the lashes landing between her spine

and her ribs. This time her scream was instantaneous, her fists clenching as her head

flew back. Already he saw the first small dots of blood rising where the knots had dug

in. “Two,” called the lieutenant.<p>

Her breathing was unnaturally quick, a series of short terrified whimpers as she

exhaled. Patrick waited again, letting her calm before crashing the whip lower again,

the ends this time snapping round into her ribs. This time her head flew back and

towards him, and he saw the agony and fear in her wide eyes, her clenched teeth

barely choking back a howl.<p>

“Three,” Hudson called. This was everything he’d hoped for and more. He’d never

seen anybody so terrified under the lash. He wondered where he should have gagged

her, but he wanted to hear her screams, wanted her to beg him. The fourth was

delivered high, across the full breadth of her slim shoulders, leaving the familiar band

of discoloured flesh. There was blood now too, just welling enough to start to dribble

down her back. “Four,” he called as her body went into its rictus of pain and she

stared up just pulling back from the grating enough that he could see the outside of

her left breast.<p>

She knew she needed to relax, that more damage was done, more pain caused, if her

muscles were tense. But how could she relax? How could she control herself against

this hell? She had prepared herself for the worst, but this was far worse than she’d

imagined, pain she hadn’t known existed, and she knew this was only the beginning.

The cat struck her low, just above the line of her drawers, the knots thumping into the

soft flesh below her ribs. She was half turned by the impact, aware, incongruously, of

the way her breasts quivered as she twisted against the bonds. “Five,” he called.<p>

Five streaks striped her back. This, Patrick decided, was the one. He drew back the

cat, took two paces forward and with conscious effort dragged it on a diagonal down

her back, crossing three of his other marks. The slap as it hit her wasn’t as loud as

those that had gone before, but her scream was atrocious as bruised flesh suffered

another blow. “Six.” For a moment she’d thought she’d passed out. Her vision went

dark and small dots of light danced before her. She heard herself shriek, and then felt

the pain. The worst pain yet, a new pitch of agony. Finally she saw the top of the

grating and the sky beyond it.<p>

“Stop!” she shouted hoarsely. “Stop this! I can’t-”

But the seventh landed knocking the wind out of her as it smacked into her ribs. She

swayed, and pressed herself into the grating to retain her balance, a roar of pain

coming from deep inside her.<p>

The warden patted a handkerchief to his lips. He had come expecting to be sickened,

but her writhing captivated him. There was something rather wonderful about this

execution of justice, the letter of the law laid down even when it meant such absurd

savagery as this enacted on one so young and slight and pretty. And the Irishman’s

mastery was remarkable, he thought, as he laid the eighth precisely across the top of

her back, into a space just beneath the highest lash.<p>

Her whole body seemed to constrict at the contact, her head flying back as her body

was driven forwards. He’d always liked long thick hair on his women, but with her

slenderness he thought the clipped hair rather suited her, just curling out a little,

leaving those narrow shoulders tremendously vulnerable.<p>

Patrick surveyed her back. There was one stripe low down that he hadn’t yet attacked:

one there and then he’d be laying blows on bruised skin with every stroke. He stepped

into the lash and realised as it was coming down that he’d misjudged it slightly. The

top two or three strands struck high, clattering into the wheals above. She roared in

agony, her breaths rasping in her throat.<p>

He waited for her fists to unclench and smacked the whip down again, the knots

hitting in the centre of the damaged flesh. She leapt a foot, maybe 18 inches, in the

air, her body smacking into the grating with an audible whump. Her feet struggled for

purchase as she came down, but eventually she was still again. Blood was coming

freely now on the right side of her back. “Ten,” called Hudson.<p>


The pain was atrocious. Laura had known it would hurt, but she’d had no idea before

what hurt meant. She felt nauseous, her legs numb. She pushed herself into the

grating, her mind desperately trying to work out a way of minimising the pain. The

right side of her back was a nightmare, and somehow each new lash lifted her to a

new level of agony. She knew her back must be ravaged now, covered in wheals, but

all she was aware of was pain. She heard the lashes whistle through the air, then felt

them smack into her, the ends whipping round her rib cage. Her head flew back at the

impact and she saw the sky before her eyes closed. A shudder passed through her.

“Eleven,” she heard him call as the pain swelled, reaching a peak and then slowly

ebbing again. Her body relaxed, and more tears spilled from her eyes.<p>

One more and there’d be a break. Just one more. She could take one more. She tried

to straighten herself, to end if only for a moment the desperate whimpering that

seemed to come from outside but she knew was coming from her. <p>

It landed high, and was raked across her welted and bruised back.

“NnnnnnnggggaaAAARRGGHHHH!!!” came her howl, and she ground against the

grating, thrashing against the bonds. It was the worst yet, and she could feel beads of

blood beginning to trickle down her back. She heard Hudson announce “Twelve” and

there was a flash of exhilaration as she knew there was respite. And yet at the same

time her back burned with pain, and she knew she had to take what she’d already

taken another eleven times.<p>

As the pain began to subside she was able to focus on bringing her breathing under

control. She tried to inhale deeply and slowly through her nose, but as she became

calmer she only became more aware of just how much the right hand side of her back

hurt, how much was still to come. She waited for them to unfasten her, eyes closed,

cheek pressed against the grating but when they didn’t she looked over her shoulder.

She couldn’t see the redcoats, but she could see Hudson with a smug grin on his face.

She looked the other way, and there they were.<p>

Laura closed her eyes again when she realised what they were doing. “No,” she

muttered. “No, please...” But she knew there would be no mercy. They hauled pails of

water over the side and approached her. She braced herself with a little shake of the

head, closing her eyes and gritting her teeth. <p>

She’d had no idea how bad it would be. The first bucket was thrown over her by

Watson. It struck the upper centre of her back, splashing up to wet the bottom of her

hair. At first she felt merely the shock of the cool water hitting her, but then the burn

set in, searing into the cuts in her skin. She trembled in her bonds, her body stiff, a

whimper moaning between her gritted teeth. She pushed her head against the wood,

steeling herself under the agony slowly peaked and began to ebb. And that was when

Pryce stepped up.<p>

He waited till she twisted to look at him, a callous smile on his face as he raised the

bucket, and gently tipped it so the water flowed slowly down the right side of her

back. The pain was awful, and although she did everything she could not to give him

the satisfaction of seeing how much he was hurting her, she howled, twisting against

the cuffs as the pain went on and on and on. He poured the water slowly, deliberately

prolonging her agony, and even after the bucket was empty she kept wailing.<p>

As the burn slowly ebbed, she could feel her heart thumping, and it was still pounding

away as they unfastened her wrists. They turned her, and hustled her to where the

officers stood. Suddenly she was acutely aware again of the fact her breasts were

exposed. She could feel Hudson examining her, see his eyes eating her up, but as she

looked away from him she saw the warden staring at her chest with frank interest.

Beyond him, on the ship, they were all pointing and laughing. For them, her shame

and her anguish were fun.<p>


The surgeon felt awful, his drunkenness just beginning to fade into hangover. When

Lieutenant Hudson gave the order, though, he stepped forward with relish. Who, after

all, would not wish to examine the naked torso of such a finely beautiful woman? He

inspected her back first, running his fingers over the welts and feeling her shudder in

pain. The right hand side of her back was badly bruised already, swollen and

discoloured even where the knots hadn’t broken the skin. Twelve lashes, though, was

enough to have drawn blood, both from the impact of the knots and from wheals

cutting across each other, the swelling effectively bursting with a second blow. Blood

loss, he knew, would be a major issue later on, but for now he wasn’t too worried.


He stepped in front of her and stood close. Her lower lip was trembling as he raised

his ear trumpet. He bent towards her chest. He ran his finger along the underside of

her small but deliciously pert left breast, looking up at her face. He’d wondered if she

were in something of a daze, but her mouth pursed as he caressed her and she tried to

pull away, held still only by the soldiers. He pushed the trumpet against the top of her

breast and listened, his eyes fixed on her puckered, half-engorged nipple. <p>

Her heart was fluttering, her pulse quickened by terror and pain, but essentially she

was strong enough. The surgeon lifted his head and patted the top of her left arm,

sliding his hand across her breast again as he turned back to Hudson. “She’s fine,” he

said. Hudson nodded and the two redcoats led her back through the lines of slaves to

the other end of the boat. He watched her retreating form, the bruised and welted back

and saw how stiffly she walked, how the soldiers had to encourage her at every step.

How she would take the full 144 he had no idea.<p>


When they’d sat her down a water-bottle had been held to her lips for a few precious

moments and a blanket had been flung over her shoulders. She sat with her head

bowed, clutching the blanket tightly about her, glad that for a time at least she could

cover her breasts. She knew it was traditional in floggings round the fleet, a small

mercy designed to prevent the victim losing body heat too quickly – not that there was

much chance of that as the sun began to break though the clouds.<p>

So that was a dozen. Worse pain that she’d ever dreamt of. Each lash was worse pain

that she’d dreamt of, and she knew it would only get worse as the next lashes landed

on savaged skin. And the next lashes were to be administered at the Virginia - in front

of the crew she’d spent the past few weeks. She thought of the Scot, Rab, and the way

he had stared at her, clearly undressing her with his eyes, of Tom and his obvious

puppyish affection for her, and of Harry, the huge bosun’s mate, the one who would

flog her.<p>


Tom felt himself flushing as the boat pulled alongside. He hated the thought of them

doing this to her, wished he could help her. He looked along the line of men stood

staring out at her, and knew most of them were filled with lust and a desire to see her

suffer. <P>

She sat huddled under a blanket at the stern, so hunched all he could see of her was

the top of her head, and the chopped hair. She looked pathetic, trembling between the

two redcoats, her hands clasping the blanket desperately in front of her chest. She

didn’t look up as the two vessels nudged alongside each other, or as Harry clambered

down the ladder and leapt clumsily onto the deck. Tom could see a flash of white

drawer beneath the blanket and a length of bare shin; even that was enough to arouse

him. He wished he could stop this and yet he was fascinated to see it.<p>

The smaller boat pulled away, turning so those on the Virginia would be looking

across its deck to the grating, so they would see her back as she was lashed. The port

side was perhaps 15 yards away when they stopped. The redcoats made her stand,

which she did awkwardly, turning slightly away from the Viriginia. Tom stared at her

slim buttocks, their shapeliness clear as her wet drawers, speckled with the odd splash

of blood, clung to the skin.<p>

He sensed Rab, standing next to him, go tense and, as though time had slowed, saw

the red-haired soldier reach to her neck for the blanket. He yanked it away and she

was naked to the waist. Her arms shot up to hide her breasts and Tom, having caught

only the briefest glimpse, saw her flinch with the effort. She was biting her lip, her

pretty face creased with tears, and he drank in the delicate beauty of her shoulders and

the pale slender ribs and belly. As she half-turned from the ship as though to try to

hide her shame, he saw her back, reddened, bruised and bleeding like a piece of semi-

tenderised beef.<p>

And then the soldiers took her arms and pulled them from her chest, forcing her to

walk between the slaves and he saw properly for the first time her breasts, small and

tender, the nipples pink against her general pallor. A hush fell over the Virginia as

they admired the sight, this woman after whom they had all lusted exposed before

them. Tom glanced along the line of men by the rail, saw Rab’s face engrossed by the

sight, a grin across the cook’s face as they watched her be led between the leering

slaves to the bow, where Hudson, the warden and the surgeon stood waiting. On the

forecastle, his face impassive, hands clasped behind his back, stood Captain Appleby.



Appleby knew Hudson was relishing this. He made the girl stand to attention,

ordering her to throw her shoulders back and keep her back straight. Technically, of

course, he was right to do so, but making her do so emphasised her nudity, making

her present her breasts to the men. She was, he acknowledged, a beautiful sight,

perhaps not so fragile as she appeared but still unworthy of this savagery.<p>

“Laura Berkeley,” Hudson said, his voice clear in the silence. “For the crimes of gross

insubordination and sedition, you are to receive 144 lashes of the cat o’nine tails upon

your bare back.”<p>

She stood, as ordered, with her head up, but her eyes were cast down, unable to look

at Hudson or the men revelling in her shame.<p>

“Flogging is to be administered around the fleet. Second dozen to be administered

before the Virginia.”<p>

The soldiers spun her round and hustled her to the grating. The lashes, Appleby noted,

were well spread. This dozen, he knew, would hurt her a lot more than the first batch.

The adrenaline would have worn off, the bruising set in. And Harry, he knew, was a

brute. He wouldn’t spread the lashes; he’d just hit her as hard as he could, again and

again and again.<p>

She seemed acquiescent, as though resigned to her punishment, raising her arms to the

straps that would hold her, almost helping the soldiers, pressing her left cheek against

the wood so she faced away from Harry. They yanked the bonds tight, though, aware

of the ramifications if she were to slip loose. They stepped back and Harry stepped


Appleby didn’t like him, but he recognised his power. Nobody scorned the lash but

they were more afraid of Harry wielding it than most others. He was a balding,

thickset man, his muscle just turning to fat as he entered his forties. He wore a leather

jerkin that left his broad arms bare, exposing the tattoos that ran down from each

shoulder. The whip seemed oddly small in his meaty paw, but Appleby knew he

would destroy her.<p>

With little ceremony he stepped forward, swung his arm in a wide arc and smashed

the cat into her back. The thump was tremendous as was Miss Berkeley’s yell of pain.

Appleby closed his eyes and swallowed. “Thirteen,” Hudson called.<p>

Back Harry went and down came the arm again. The whip landed in almost exactly

the same spot, midway down her back on the right hand side. Her howl was

horrendous, her whole body stiffening as she clawed at the grating, her neck arching

back. The blood was clear now, a small patch perhaps six inches in diameter where

the skin had been repeatedly broken. “Fourteen,” came Hudson’s call. Appleby

couldn’t see how she could take 130 more. This was obscene.<p>


Laura hadn’t believed it could get worse. As Hudson had made her stand bare-chested

facing the ship, exposed for them all to gawp at, as he read through her sentence

again, she’d been impatient to turn round, to press herself against the grating and halt

her humiliation. Now, she’d have danced fully naked for them all if it would have

ended the pain. <p>

She stared through a hole in the grating, seeing nothing but the grey of the sea and the

paler grey of the sky. She heard the whip in the air and then it thumped into her again

in that same place in the middle of her back to the right. The pain was unbearable. A

shudder passed through her and she screamed long and loud. At first the pain of each

lash had swelled and slowly subsided; now, though, as her skin was ripped off, it

simply stayed at that pitch, her nerves exposed.<p>

She tried to take deep breaths, to focus, but despite herself she glanced over her left

shoulder and looked at him. She saw him raised the lash again, his face blank as he

swung it with great force towards her. She turned away at the last, cringing as it

smacked into her, a fraction higher this time, but still focusing on that same area. Her

head flew back and she saw the sky. For a second she felt nothing and then the pain

swept over her again. She couldn’t breathe. Her mouth hung open as she tried to gulp

in air. Dots swam before her eyes. Finally the breath went in and she gave and

agonised half-gasp. “Sixteen.”<p>

She closed her eyes, willed herself to absorb the next blow. Her fists clenched. She

deliberately lay her left cheek on the grating so she wouldn’t see him. She heard the

whistle, and she heard the lash land. Again her body jerked involuntarily. Again she

found herself staring at the sky, her eyes wide with terror and agony. Racking shivers

passed through her. “Seventeen.”<p>


Tom didn’t want to watch, but he couldn’t tear himself away. He wanted more than

anything to take her in his arms, to comfort her, but he knew she was finished. Harry

drew his arm back again and smashed the whip into her. Blood was flying up from her

back now; each lash leading her to jerk like a puppet controlled by an angry child.<p>

Harry was merciless. They all knew that. And he was strong. He could break the

toughest of them, let alone a girl. He struck again, the sound of the impact so loud it

was clearly audible even thirty yards away over the noise of the waves. Again and

again in that same spot, relentlessly crashing into the same section of her back. Her

screams were hideous. It was inhuman and yet deep within him was a voice

wondering what it would be like to be on that grating, to feel those small gentle

breasts writhing against him. He hated to think that, tried to suppress it, but he

couldn’t. The twentieth landed and she bucked, seeming to thrust herself into the

wood even as she unleashed a bloodcurdling howl. Try as he might, he had to admit

he was turned on by this.<p>

She was shaking on the frame, blood running down her back to stain her drawers. She

was beaten, pitiful and yet they’d barely started. Tom looked long the line of faces

eager to see her suffer more, looked at Appleby’s impassive figure, looked at Hudson

and the warden and the surgeon on the boat. This was how they kept control, he

realised. This was what they did to prevent anybody ever rising against them. If one

of the lower classes did they would be flicked away; somebody from their own class,

though, somebody who refused to conform, they crushed. Not only that, they made

them ridiculous, humiliated them, made their punishment a spectacle that those who

should have been only too supportive of the rebellion joined in. Tom wanted to shake

his shipmates, to make them realise that Miss Berkeley had tried to help them and that

by enjoying her shame and agony they were merely guaranteeing their subjection. But

he had to admit he was enjoying it too.<p>


Hudson watched Harry shake out the whip. Small droplets of blood fell from the

strands. She was whimpering constantly, but there was no respite. Harry stepped

forward, swung that meaty arm and slashed the cat down again. As the tips smacked

the bare patch by her ribs, a spray of blood flew up, she shrieked, leaping so her body

slapped against the grating and her head flew back, the ends of her hair wet with

sweat now. “Twenty-one,” he called, watching as the shudders slowly subsided.<p>

Only when she was almost still did Harry step forward again. Hudson was fascinated

by him. There seemed no wilful cruelty about him; he just swung the whip back and

brought it down, again and again, very hard, in the same arc. This time the tips

slashed a little more into her ribs, not because Harry had changed, but because she

had shuffled to her left in her struggles. Even after the initial impact, which sent her

body forward and her head back, she stood, teeth clenched, staring up, her body rigid

with pain, an inhuman howl rasping on her throat. “Twenty-two,” he called.<p>


Nausea passed over her in waves and she felt faint. Anywhere but there. She gritted

her teeth, pushed her forehead, drenched with sweat now, against the grating and

waited. Could she dodge? Could she move as he swung to take the lashes somewhere

else? She waited, swallowing the sticky saliva that coated her throat and, as she heard

the whip coming through the air, let her legs buckle. The knots bit into her shoulder

blade; it was hideously painful and another spasm passed through her, but it wasn’t as

bad as six inches lower.<p>


Appleby patted the sweat from his brow with a handkerchief. He felt nauseous. What

was this? It wasn’t justice. The lash landed again and the girl performed the familiar

dance: head back, scream, spasm, hold, relax. The left side of her back was still palely

beautiful, streaked by only the occasional welt, but the right was savaged. He saw

them lower the buckets into the sea, watched her terror as they approached, watched

the first redcoat throw the salt-water over her, watched her thrash again in anguish.

The second redcoat waited, taking his time, deliberately pouring the water over the

raw area on the right side of her back. He saw her fists clench and beat against the

grating, saw her whole body spasm, but the worst thing was the noise, the hideous

high-pitched scream. Why had Hastings done this to her? Was it personal against her

or was it more generally about stamping out dissent?<p>

They unfastened her and led her to face Hudson again, half dragging her as though her

legs couldn’t quite bear her weight any longer. She held her head up, though, just a

hint of defiance in the glance she gave Hudson and he thought of the way she’d

argued with him.<p>

Hudson, bastard that he was, ordered her to stand upright, then sent that drunken idiot

of a surgeon to examine her. This was despicable: Hudson was doing this deliberately

to humiliate her. Yet he stared with the rest of them at the slender body, the delicate

breasts no bigger perhaps than the local oranges. The surgeon took his time, pawing at

her breast and then probing the ravaged back, exposing her torso again to the stares of

the men. Appleby prayed he would say she was unfit, but he saw him nod, and the

redcoats dragged her back between the slaves to the stern.<p>


This couldn’t go on. They’d end it, surely. They couldn’t keep doing this to her. She

huddled under the blanket, cold despite the heat, her back aflame and her whole body

racked by shivers. She still had 120 lashes left to take. 120. It would kill her. She

couldn’t imagine being fastened up for another dozen, let alone ten dozen more. She

stared at her feet and the rough planks beneath, not really seeing them, just feeling the

agony of her shoulders and back, pain pulsing through her. Occasionally, for a blessed

second or two, she would lapse into a state of numbness, but then a rock of the boat or

a breath of wind would bring the horror of her punishment back to her.<p>

Suddenly they were pulling the blanket away from her again. It had stuck slightly on

the open wounds and caused a new spear of pain as it tore away. She shook her head,

disbelievingly. It couldn’t be time for another dozen, not already. The two redcoats,

helped her up and she stood, seeing the Persistence alongside, the prisoners lined on

the deck. There on the bridge, she saw Captain Pugh, one of those who had sentenced

her to this.<p>

As they began to lead her towards the grating, she panicked. She couldn’t take another

dozen. “Nooooo!” she yelled, twisting in the grip of the redcoats. What she’d have

done if she’d got free she had no idea, but it didn’t matter because she didn’t. All that

happened was that they held her more tightly. The ginger one especially dug his

fingers into her bicep, seeming to relish her discomfort as they dragged her along the


She kicked and fought, pulling back in terror, which only made the pain in her back

worse. It also, she realised in horror as she was forced to stand before Hudson, only

improved the show. On the deck of the Persistence, the prisoners were guffawing and

gesticulating, mimicking her fear and, she realised, making jokes about the size of her


The soldiers held her and she stood, head bowed, her cheeks burning with shame,

tears of frustration rolling down her cheeks.<p>

“Laura Berkeley,” Hudson said with an obvious smile. “For the crimes of gross

insubordination and sedition, you are to receive 144 lashes of the cat o’nine tails upon

your bare back. Flogging is to be administered around the fleet. Third dozen to be

administered before the Persistence.”<p>

The panic descended again. She hated herself for it, but as they gripped her arms and

turned her towards the grating, she pulled away. “No!” She screamed. “Please, please

have mercy!” her face was creased in terror, tears spilling from her eyes. “Please, sir.

Please, spare me! I’ll do what you want. Whatever you want!” But Hudson merely

smiled as the soldiers pulled her towards the frame.<p>

She turned her attention to the warden. “Pleeeasse... Pleeassssse...” But he just stared

at her as she was dragged across the deck. They turned her to face the grating and

deliberately slammed her into it, winding her and stunning her sufficiently that they

could fasten her wrists without too much difficulty. “No... No... No...” she sobbed as

they stepped away, leaving her ready for the lash. She looked frantically over her left

shoulder and seeing nobody there over her right. She saw the bosun’s mate, a

handsome man in his mid-twenties, holding a cat in his left hand. “Pleeease... please

don’t do this,” she begged, but he glanced at Hudson, nodded, and took his stance.<p>


Ned was popular with women for his looks, popular with the men for his sense of

humour, and popular with ship’s captains because he was left-handed. He could apply

the lash the other way. He had become used in the last couple of years to whipping

prisoners who had already had the right side of their backs torn off, but this made him

uneasy. Miss Berkeley was only a girl. Her back was narrow, her skin soft. It was

barbaric. But what choice did he have? It wasn’t his job to make the law. He drew

back the whip, put out of his mind what he was aiming it at, and brought it down with

a slight downward motion across her left shoulder. He heard the whistle, heard the

whack and then, always a sign he had laid it on well, head the dull wet tear as the

knots cut in. <p>

What he hadn’t anticipated was the impression her reaction would make on him. He

saw her whole body tense as she tried to absorb the pain. Her head jerked back and

she gave a grunt as pitiful as any he’d ever heard. “Twenty-five,” called Hudson and

Ned could hear the glee in his voice.<p>

She trembled as she awaited the next lash. Ned could hear the prisoners on the ship

urging him to hit her harder. Most of them had been whipped at some time, but they

had no compassion for her. She was one of the ruling class, an enemy brought low.

Most of them probably didn’t even think that hard: she was just a pretty girl, stripped

and humiliated in front of them, and they wanted their sport. He lashed her again,

aiming the end of the whip at the relatively unblemished area around her shoulder-


A spray of pink lines flashed up, marked by the deeper contusions where the knots

caught. She thrust against the grating, giving an agonised, resigned groan. “Twenty

six.” He worked down that flank. Twenty-seven, twenty-eighty, twenty-nine, each one

met with the same tensing, the same grunt, the same shudder. The poor girl. There

was no clean area of back left. Blood, bruises, wheals covered everything. He would

have to strike a previous damaged area. He felt great pity for her. <p>

“The sentence was for the lashes to be laid on hard, Mr Miller.” Ned looked up at

Hudson. Was he seriously suggesting he was pulling them? The poor girl, he thought

again. But he wasn’t going to get into trouble. He stepped back and thrashed the next

lash downwards, dragging it across the middle of her back. Blood sprayed up. He saw

the rents appear. And she leapt as far as the bonds would allow her, her head flying

back. A howl came from her throat and when it ended it was to be replaced a

succession of agonised pants. Shivers passed through her. “Thirty,” Hudson said.<p>


The warden wondered if this were going too far. Her back was covered in a film of

blood. She was clearly in terrible pain and he realised there must be a psychological

torment: it wasn’t just flog her and stop; it was flog her, make her think about it for

half an hour, and then do it again. Twelve times. No wonder she’d been so terrified as

they’d dragged her up for the third session. And yet even as he pitied her, he pictured

her being hauled backwards sobbing and screaming, her wet hair sticking to her face,

those pretty little breasts aquiver. That sight, he knew, would sustain him through

some mundane nights with his wife.<p>

The cat struck again, the knots biting into that left side of her back where there was

less blood. He could hear her, once the initial scream had died down, begging. “No..

no.. no... no... please...” over and over. And then the wet slap of another lash. “Thirty-

two.” The whip was red now, a fine spray flying up even as Ned brought it back to

send the thirty-third around her lissom waist. She shook, her fists clenched, and gave

a glance back over her shoulder as though to see if Hudson were listening to her pleas.

There was something in that turn that startled the warden, a reminder of her prettiness,

that quizzical jaw line, the delicate cheeks, the dark eyes that on another day might

have flashed with wit. Today they spoke merely of anguish, of the knowledge of an

ongoing pain that wasn’t even a quarter over. <p>


Pugh looked down at the spectacle. When Hastings had said that sedition had to be

nipped in the bud, he’d agreed with them. These do-gooders could be a nightmare.

And she had written that diary which was a serious offence. But when he’d said she

must be severely punished, he didn’t think any of them had thought he meant this.

He’d thought two dozen lashes – maybe even three if she was to be flogged around

the fleet. And he saw the point of that: humiliate her, let everybody see her half-naked

and screaming and let everybody know dissent would not be tolerated. But a dozen

dozen? Four times as many as he’d thought the absolute maximum? It was brutal. A

beautiful, delicate girl flogged with savagery that might kill her – that might kill a

tough man. Those whips were meant for sailors and soldiers, not for pretty, dainty

little things like her. It only made it worse that they’d turned her into sport for the

prisoners. <p>

The lash landed again and she howled and the prisoners roared. “Go on! Make her

sing! Make the bitch dance!” Pugh wished he could silence them, but he knew it was

impossible. These were the scum those whips were made for and so of course they

loved seeing them used on the soft middle-class back of a beautiful girl. Ned was a

good flogger, precise and strong; Pugh had great respect for him. He did a solid job on

whoever he was asked to, but he rather wished he were less professional today. He

heard the wet crack again, heard her scream, saw her lift and shudder on the frame,

heard Hudson call out “Thirty-five.” <p>

He knew what would happen next; knew what Ned did on the final lash – and so did

the prisoners. They began a low roar, slowly increasing in volume as Ned stepped

forward, and then, as he brought the lash down, dragging it over the welts he’d

already raised – that had been inflicted in her previous two floggings – they


She howled, head flying back, holding the pose for a second or two and the

shuddering slowly back to relaxation. She hung limp, her legs only just seeming to

sustain her weight. Pugh couldn’t imagine the agony. This was why the cat was so

cruel: it created bruising, but also tore off the skin.<p>

He heard the prisoners begin cheering again and looked up to see the two redcoats

carrying buckets over to her. Pugh knew it was done commonly and theoretically

prevented the wounds becoming infected but to add to her torment with salt seemed a

needless sophistication.<p>

The ginger-haired one stepped forward with his bucket. Pugh saw Miss Berkeley

clench her fists in anticipation. But the redcoat, having lifted the bucket as if to throw

the water over her paused, clearly playing to the gallery. He reached a hand in,

scooped some of the sweater in his hand, and sprinkled it on her. She shrieked, tearing

at her bonds as the prisoners guffawed. Miss Berkeley turned, fury and pain etched in

her face. “Just do it!” she shouted. “Just do it!” The redcoat splashed a little more,

clearly taunting her, as each droplet sent waves of agony through her.<p>

“Do it!” she screamed. “You bastard! Just do it!” <p>

“Miss Berkeley,” came Hudson’s voice. “If you don’t wish to receive additional

lashes, I suggest you tone down you language. You are here to be punished.”

Additional lashes! It was ridiculous. She still had 108 to take. The redcoat flicked and

splashed, making her writhe, drawing out the agony before finally tossing half the

bucket over her to horrifying screams. The other redcoat, as if making a point, simply

emptied his bucket over her head. She howled and howled and the prisoners


When her worst contortions were over and she was left a sobbing wreck, the soldiers

stepped forward to unbuckle her bonds. She didn’t even seem to acknowledge them as

they unfastened her, then turned her to face the Persistence. Head hanging low, she

seemed unable to stand straight as they half dragged her to face the officers so her

breasts just hung away from her chest. The prisoners hooted and jeered. “Look at her

tits!” “I can’t see them – are you sure it’s a girl?” “Where’s your tits, luv?” But Pugh

could see them: small and gentle, beautifully pure and pale compared to the ravaged

back. “Go on, shake your tits for us.” It was monstrous. She was so delicate, so

refined, her body so long and willowy and fine; she shouldn’t be exposed to them.<p>

The soldiers forced her to stand straight before the officers, their outer arms gripping

her forearms, the hand nearer to her on her upper arm. As they yanked her up, her

breasts shook and the prisoners roared their delight. Pugh didn’t dare look, but he

suspected some were openly masturbating. He supposed it was natural: they hadn’t

seen a woman in weeks and here they were being presented with one who would

usually be way out of their league, naked to the waist.<p>


She was trembling and sobbing, shivering as though cold. That troubled the surgeon.

He stroked her breast, squeezing and tweaking as he held the trumpet to her heart. The

breast was oddly cool and clammy to the touch, but her heart still sounded strong. He

moved behind her, marvelling at just how slender her waist was. Her back was a

mess. He ran his fingers over the ruptured skin, ignoring her yells of pain. Where the

knots had hit full on there were divots he could run his finger into; elsewhere there

were rents and welts. Everywhere there wasn’t blood there was bruising, red and

purple and blue patches. But the worst bit was the right side of her back just under the

shoulder blade where Harry had laid each lash. It was basically one big crater,

dimpled and raw, oozing blood and so bruised where the odd patch of skin remained

that it looked almost charred.<p>

Blood had run onto her drawers and, with the salt water, they were soaked pink,

clinging to firm, flat buttocks. He slapped them gently. “She’s fine, sir,” he said.<p>


Watson wished he could do something to help her. She wasn’t exactly helping herself

with her twisting and fighting and he’d had to hold her hard enough to leave marks on

the soft skin of her upper arm, but her terror was understandable. He tried to support

her as much as he could as he led her back between the leers of the slaves to the stern

as the prisoners jeered from the Persistence. She was weak and in agony, seeming to

find comfort by bending forward. And that meant her left breast every now and again

brushed against the back of his right hand.<p>

Pryce, he knew, was loving this. He’d known there was a sadistic streak to him, but

this flogging had really brought it out. The bruises on her left arm were far worse than

on her right and as for the way he’d taunted her with the seawater, having insisted that

he should go first, well, he thought that was terribly unfair. Pryce suddenly stopped.

Watson kept going for a pace or two and as a result she was turned to face the ship.

The prisoners roared their appreciation at another sight of her breasts, even more so as

Pryce jerked her arm back, causing those breasts to wobble. Poor girl. She just shook

her head, murmuring “No, no, no...” as tears welled in her eyes again.<p>

Pryce shook her again and her head went back, which only lifted her chest and

seemed to make her little breasts more prominent. Watson realised every movement

was agony for her, every breath of air across her raw back. He tried to move her on,

but as he did so Pryce shoved her so she fell and would have gone down had they not

been holding her arms. She slumped, her legs dragging on the deck and she retched

with the pain that had shot through her back as her weight had been taken suddenly by

her arms.<p>

“Get on your feet, you little bitch,” Pryce yelled into her face, hauling her up as she

screamed. Watson tried to help but there was little he could do. Finally they got her to

the stern. Pryce pushed her down roughly and grabbed the blanket. He moved in front

of her, draped it round her and pulled it close in front of her, making sure his fingers

played over her breasts. He patted her hard on the back, sending new spasms through

her. “You don’t call me a bastard,” he hissed, sitting down next to her.<p>



Hudson was having a great day. It wasn’t just that she was suffering; it was the fact

she was so obviously in pain, so obviously humiliated. He watched as they brought

her forward again, so slender, so delicate, her waist so narrow, her small breasts

trembling as she dragged back against the redcoats. Terror was etched on her face, her

wet hair hanging limp around her face. She was battling them but she had no strength

to resist.<p>

“Stand to attention,” he ordered. He knew it was ridiculous, but he wanted to

emphasise her subjection.<p>

She tried to stand upright, but the pain was too great and the redcoats had to pull her

up. The ginger one even pushed the middle of her back to force her shoulders straight,

causing a yelp of pain. Her hands hung loose by her drawers, which were filthy now,

marked with sweat and blood, clinging to her. Her head was bowed. He stared at her

breasts. They were streaked with sweat and drips of seawater, small and sweet and

soft, the nipples half-erect, presumably from fear.<p>

“Laura Berkeley,” he announced for the fourth time. “For the crimes of gross

insubordination and sedition, you are to receive 144 lashes of the cat o’nine tails upon

your bare back. Flogging is to be administered around the fleet. Fourth dozen to be

administered before the Salisbury.”<p>

The redcoats hustled her over as she pulled hopelessly back. The ginger one, he saw,

really thumped her arm against the grating before pulling the strap tight around it; the

other one was gentler, doing his job precisely but with a suggestion of compassion.

They stepped back and he drank in the sight of her standing there, back covered in

lashes, buttocks all but exposed by the wet drawers, slender legs only just holding her


The flogger was young, maybe not even out of his teens – Smith, his name was. He

had an unpleasant piggy face under a mop of blond hair, and was missing one of his

front teeth. He ran his fingers idly through the knotted strands of his whip, grinning at

the terrified girl in front of him. As the redcoats stepped away, Laura’s arms firmly

fastened, Smith walked up to her. Hudson could hear what he said, but it got a

reaction, Miss Berkeley turning sharply and looking at him in fury. It was against

protocol, but if it added to her pain and shame, Hudson didn’t care.<p>

His first lash reached far across her back, the tips slapping into the grating, a couple of

thongs just catching her arm. She jerked, but it was obvious the lash hadn’t hurt her as

much as many of the earlier ones. The second was similar, a little lower, but the

impact directed into the wood. “Thirty-eight,” Hudson announced, wondering whether

Smith might be deliberately going easy on her. His third lash, though, revealed what

he was really doing.<p>

This time he got his range right and the big Turk’s head knots at the ends of the

thongs whipped into the side of her right breast. She gave an agonised yelp, her head

snapping round to her left so she was starting at him, a look of uncomprehending

horror on her face. Hudson had to suppress a smile as Smith blew her a kiss and then

delivered another lash to almost exactly the same place. She shouted in pain, her

hands balling into fists which she beat ineffectually on the grating.<p>


She couldn’t stop weeping, a low constant moan. It wasn’t just the pain; it was the

sense of being so helpless, of being an object for them to entertain themselves with.

She half-turned, pushing her right breast into the grating to try to protect it, but all that

did was expose her left side and he raked a lash down there, catching her armpit, her

ribs and, most painfully, the side of her breast. She looked down and saw the bruising

there immediately, two big circles where the end knots had struck, two smaller ones

lower down linked by a thin welt.<p>

Even as she was looking, though, he delivered another lash, this one aimed centrally

but low, so a couple of thongs whipped into the top of her drawers, most of them

smacking into the relatively unblemished area at the base of her spine. Her back

arched, the wind driven out of her as she was thrust into the grating. For a moment

she was silent. “Forty-two,” came the call as she struggled for breath. This time he

waited, letting the initial throb of the lash subside before whipping round and catching

her right breast again.<p>

She howled. It wasn’t just that this was painful; it was humiliating. She’d thought

being paraded through the streets naked to the waist had been bad, but this was worse;

having him with that evil leer, that grin, abuse her most sensitive areas. She turned

and stared at him, trying through her tears to make him pity her, but he just blew her

another kiss, mocking her, making her agony a joke. She hated him more than she

hated Hudson even. At least Hudson knew her, was acting out his revenge; this

bastard was just a sadist hurting and humiliating her because he had the opportunity.


And in twisting, of course, she’d exposed her left side again. He dragged the lash

down and she felt the tear as the knots of a couple of thongs ripped at the side of her

breast. The pain was extraordinary and for a moment she could see nothing. The

agony never stopped though; it burned through her, each lash adding new fire to the

background agony. He sent the next blow to the ravaged centre of her back and she

cursed her vanity in praying for him to leave her breasts alone. The knots thumped

into raw skin, striking exposed nerve endings. She heard her scream but it seemed to

come from somewhere else as, having leapt high in the air, she slithered back down

the grating. “Forty-four,” he announced and she thought to her horror that she still had

100 to go.<p>

One hundred. More than double what she’d already taken still left to be administered,

as they put it – like it was medicine rather than some degrading ordeal. It was

inhuman. But a voice inside her told her it was just four more in this set, then she

could rest. Four more. She could take four more. She pushed herself off the grating,

gritting her teeth and seeing on the wood the shape of her thrashing marked out in

sweat. She told herself she could take these. Just four more.<p>

He whipped low, half the lashes tearing into her drawers, the other half driving into

the small of her back. On top of the intense sting of the cords hitting her bruised skin

she felt an internal pain and she wondered if her kidneys were damaged. It welled

inside her, a burning sensation and she began to retch. Three more, she thought as she

coughed spittle onto the polished wood in front of her.<p>

She steadied herself, pushed her forehead against the wood, tried to think of

something else. She focused on not looking round, thinking of her home in

Middlesex. She heard the whistle and then the whip struck, the ends stinging her right

breast again, the other thongs striking her armpit and ribs and the side of her back.

The force of it sent shudders through her and she couldn’t help herself but shout with

pain. The smarting in her breast welled and slowly faded, but where the skin had been

ripped from her back there was a constant fire. “Forty-two.”<p>

She looked through the grating at the grey sea beyond. She stared at the horizon, tried

to imagine her mind flying away over it. She heard the whip coming, heard the shlack

as the thongs lashed the tortured middle of her back and for a moment there was

nothing, but then the darkness lifted, and she felt the horrendous pain as her head ,

having snapped back, slowly returned to its usual position. It went on and on and on,

throbbing through her. One more, she thought. Just one more.<p>

She was still slightly tense when the forty-eighth struck, low again, almost on the

waistband of her drawers. She leapt as three or four thongs whipped down into her

buttocks, and felt again that odd internal pain as her kidneys took the blow. She could

feel blood now running down her back, the dribbles over raw flesh a new source of

pain. She stood, panting, resting her forehead on the grating, knowing the worst pain

was about to come. The agony in her back was slowly subsiding to a nagging,

insistent ache. On any other day of her life she would have thought that pain

intolerable, but it was better than two minutes earlier.<p>

She thought of home, of riding her horse in the paddock as a girl, of her mother

standing in the doorway or their home, calling her in for tea. She thought of the river

and the glade where she read poetry. And then a rough hand grabbed her hair, yanking

it painfully. “Day-dreaming, are we? Let me wake you up.” And the ginger one began

flicking the seawater at her. She screamed and screamed and screamed, each drop

lighting new fires of pain as it landed on the raw skin. <p>

It went on and on, this slow humiliating agony, flick after flick, until eventually he

emptied the final half-bucket over her. She thrashed in anguish, a high-pitched wail

being squeezed from her throat. She realised for a grateful moment that it was over,

but then the next bucket came in one rush, splashing into her eyes and blinding her,

burning anew. To her horror she felt herself losing control of her bladder, piss running

warm down her legs, apparently unnoticed with the other water dribbling off her. She

broke down into a new burst of sobbing.<p>


Hudson watched as the surgeon examined her. She was shaking as though freezing

cold, a mixture of water and blood dripping off her. There was snot running from her

nose and a skein of saliva clung to the corner of her mouth. Her short wet hair sat flat

to her skull, only the odd tendril sticking up or streaking across her cheek or neck. She

looked exhausted, her face pale, her dark eyes red rimmed, almost submissive. If it

hadn’t been for the soldiers, he wasn’t sure she’d have been able to stand, and she still

had two thirds of the lashes still to take.<p>

And yet still he desired her. Smith struck him as an odd, unpleasant character, but

whipping her breasts had been genius. Hardly knowing what he was doing, Hudson

stepped forward and called the surgeon from his examination of her back. He ran his

finger down her right breast, feeling the ridges where the whip had struck. She pulled

away in horror, but the soldiers held her as he traced his nail around the circumference

her nipple. There was a small patch of blood where a knot had bitten in. “Surgeon,”

he said, squeezing the breast between his thumb and forefinger as though to examine

the cut, “What do you make of this?” <p>

It was wonderfully delicate and smooth, her youth giving it a delicious firmness, a

spring beneath the softness. He looked up into her face. She was staring at him,

disgust written in her eyes. “Why?” she said, but straining against the tears she just

mouthed the word. The surgeon came round and together they prodded and poked her

breast, making it wobble and tremble. It felt slightly cold, the seawater and the trauma

of the flogging presumably having chilled her. “She’s fine,” said the surgeon. He

patted her buttocks. “Strong as an ox.”<p>


The warden wondered how much longer they could go on like this. The girl’s mood

had changed, from grim resentment to terror to docility, as though she were resigned

to being beaten to death. She stood, exhausted, between the two redcoats, the welts on

her breasts livid, the odd wheal where the lashes had wrapped around her narrow

waist standing out a brownish purple against her pale skin. She didn’t resist, just stood

with her head bowed as Hudson read out the sentence again.<p>

“Laura Berkeley,” Hudson said, his eyes fixed on her little breasts. “For the crimes of

gross insubordination and sedition, you are to receive 144 lashes of the cat o’nine tails

upon your bare back. Flogging is to be administered around the fleet. Fifth dozen to

be administered before the Orpheus.”<p>

The warden felt uneasy about the clear sexualisation of the punishment. The way

Hudson had fondled her breast after the last batch was appalling, and yet he couldn’t

blame him. Where were his own eyes looking now? Exactly at that bruising on her

right breast. At the welt on the tender skin on the side of the gentle swelling. He

forced himself to look up and as he was struck again by how beautiful she was, even

with her eyes reddened by crying, even humiliated and in agony, she had a grace and

an authority.<p>

The redcoats took a firmer grip on her arms and he saw her face tighten as she

prepared herself for the next dozen. They turned her away and he saw her ravaged

back, raw and bleeding. And she’d taken only a third of her punishment. There was a

moment when she hesitated, pulling back as though to resist, but then she seemed to

recognise the hopelessness of her situation and let them bind her to the frame. The

ginger-haired one patted her bottom as he walked away; she didn’t seem to react but it

made the warden uneasy. This should be about punishment, not about humiliation.


The bosun’s mate was tall and sandy-haired, part-Dutch they said – Jan, he was

called. He was left-handed, and the muscles that showed where he’d rolled up his

sleeves suggested he was powerful. His cat looked longer than the others, maybe six

feet of lash extending from the handle. He stepped up to Miss Berkeley. She wasn’t a

short woman but Jan towered over her, was terrifyingly broader than her. He placed

his fingers on her hips as though gently positioning her then leaned in and murmured

something to her. She didn’t turn round, but seemed to relax, placing her forehead

against the wood. Jan walked to the right and took his position, shaking out the cat

and drawing fingers through the knotted thongs. He took two paces back and stepped

in to the lash, bring his arm through in a wide sweep. The ends of the whip struck

high on her ribs, just under the armpit, the knot nearest the handle biting a couple of

inches to the right of her spine.<p>

Her head jerked back and, instantly, bruising showed on the few inches of skin that

weren’t already bloodied. “Forty-nine,” Hudson called. Jan calmly retook his position,

drew back the whip and delivered another lash. It was lower and more central this

time, striking where the flogging had already stripped away the skin. She howled as a

spray of blood flew up and she snapped taut, the muscles in her arms standing out as

she screamed into the air above the grating. “Fifty.”<p>


The tips of the lashes wrapped around the soft skin beneath her ribs, winding her

slightly, so she gasped rather than screamed with the pain. “Fifty-one.” Only three of

this set done. She’d thought he might be merciful. He was a huge man but he’d been

gentle when he’d touched her before the flogging, telling her to relax because that

hurt less and explaining he was only lashing her because if he didn’t he would be

punished and somebody else would still flog her. Whump! The centre of her back

again. The pain was incredible. She shrieked and found herself bucking in the bonds,

her head snapping back, her muscles tightening. It took several seconds even to regain

control of her movements, to stand, shaking, again, sweat coursing off her, pressing

herself against the grating and waiting for the pain slowly to subside to the constant

ache that had become her normality. Only four of this set gone. Eight to go. Just eight.

Keep thinking, eight. Just eight. Eight and then she could sit down.<p>

He wasn’t cruel or mocking in the way the last one had been, but there was something

cold and relentless about him. She waited. She tried to think of her horse, but the

knowledge the lash was coming was hideous. Why couldn’t he just hit her eight

times? Get it done in five or six seconds? She heard it coming and she tensed

involuntarily. It landed across the top of her back, the tip biting into her left shoulder.

She still felt her head being thrown back and she yelled, but the pain was marginally

less there than where the skin had been beaten away. “Fifty three.” Seven more. Just

seven. Just seven and then there still 84 more. Her horse. Think of the horse. She

glimpsed for a fraction its eyes, the way its forelock blew in the wind and then the

next lash landed across the middle of her back, booming against her ribs. Her body

performed the familiar dance – head back, chest forward, muscles taut as the pain

swelled and then, gradually, relaxation as the flash of agony dulled to the constant

pain. Her breasts actually felt sore now, not just from the lashes that had struck her

there, but from being rammed into the wood. Halfway there. Six more. Just six more.

Six? Six! Three hours ago one lash with the cat would have been the worst pain she’d

even suffered. Six was monstrous. She had 90 left to take. Six, she told herself. Just

think six. She tried to think of her horse but her brain wouldn’t conjure the image.


Jan’s seventh lash was delivered across the centre of her back. For a moment she

thought she lost consciousness, but then she was awake, seeing the sky as her head

flew back and pain screamed through her. Agony was her life now, a raw burning all

from neck to waist. “Fifty-five.”<p>

She couldn’t cope. It was too much. Her mind was registering nothing but pain, a

terrible, savage pain that began at her back but radiated through her. She would go

mad. She could hear a high-pitched wailing and she realised that the noise was her.

She was shaking. Was this it? Was this the edge between sanity and madness? She

couldn’t breathe. Slowly, her mind took control again. The noise diminished. She

gulped in air. The pain ebbed to its background level. And then the wait again. That

awful wait. She wouldn’t look at him. She stared at the wood and the sea beyond.

Waiting for more dreadful pain. She couldn’t stop shivering. She heard the whistle

and the lash crashed into her just above her left hip. The knots whipped round the soft

skin beneath her ribs and she felt them bite into the side of her stomach. Her legs gave

way. She slithered down the grating, her breasts rubbing painfully against the rough

edges of the wooden cross bars. She hung, her knees not quite on the deck, sweat and

blood dripping off her, a constant wailing coming from her mouth.<p>


“Fifty-six,” Hudson announced. Jan stepped back. He glanced at Hudson who just

nodded. Let her hang. The blood was coming thicker now and she was clearly

insignificant distress, but he was confident there was plenty of life left in her. He’d

wondered if he’d get bored, watching lash after lash hit her, but not a bit of it. Jan

struck her again. She shrieked and spasmed, almost bouncing up the grating. Her feet

slithered in her blood, but she somehow found a standing position again. Each lash

was its own explosion of pain, each one an exquisite punishment in its own right.


A soft, high-pitched moan came from her mouth. It was continuous, pulsing with her

breathing. Jan calmly took up his position. His whip was streaked red with her blood,

the odd drip falling to the deck. He swept in again, his movement almost languid. His

swing seemed effortless, but there was no doubting the power as the lash whistled and

landed across her left shoulder blade. There was a spray of blood as she bucked into

the grating, head flying back, stomach and hips thrusting forward as a full scream left

her lips. “Fifty-eight.” There was something sensuous about her movement and

Hudson wondered whether one of the local whores would agree to be whipped while

he fucked her. He knew though that that wouldn’t satisfy him: how could anyone

replace her, with her narrow waist, slender back and little perky tits?<p>

Jan was slow, meticulous. He loved the way she had to wait. She was still again,

moaning, the pain of the previous lash ebbed. She glanced across her right shoulder at

him, her whole demeanour one of terror. She saw the whip coming and turned back,

pushing her forehead against the wood. She tensed momentarily and the lash crashed

into the middle of her back. There was a great spray of blood and she howled,

shuddering as her legs subsided again. “Fifty-nine.”<p>

She hung, too exhausted to stand, her knees just above the deck. Her arms were taut,

trembling with the strain, her head hanging back, mouth open as she tried to gulp in

air. The grating was marked with her sweat, her hair soaked. The final lash swept

across the top of her shoulders, driving her forward into the wood. “Sixty,” he said

over her howls. Her neck muscles stood out with the strain of her screaming.<p>

She hadn’t fallen fully silent when Pryce threw the seawater over her. He wasn’t quite

so cruel this time; there was no flicking but he tipped slowly so the burn spread

gradually. She spasmed, muscles pulsing, body twitching, shrieking and thrashing on

her bonds. Watson threw his water quickly, but the shock was so great her legs left the

deck and she dragged herself up the grating before slumping again. <p>

They had to drag her over to him, her legs seemingly unable to bear her weight.

“Stand up,” he shouted at her and he saw the hatred in her face. The soldiers still held

her but she did straighten her legs. The surgeon inspected her, not even bothered to

disguise the fact her was fondling her breast as he listened to her heart. Even now, her

back ruined, blood running from her, Hudson wanted her. She looked exhausted, her

face pale with the pain, those deep brown eyes haunted by mental anguish, her hair

soaked with sweat and clinging in limp tendrils to her graceful neck. He stepped

forward as the surgeon examined her back. He placed his hands over those pert little

breasts, massaging the nipples gently as he gazed mockingly into her eyes. They were

wonderfully soft, wonderfully tender.<p>

“Her heart seems strong, surgeon?” he said, placing his right hand over her left breast,

tweaking her right nipple. <p>

“Yes, sir. She’s fine, sir.”<p>

He smiled at her and gently patted her cheek. “Excellent,” he said, and watched as the

redcoats led her away, her body hunched, her back stiff, her legs stumbling between

the slaves. Her back looked almost entirely devoid of skin now, the drawers freshly

marked with blood even after the dousing with seawater. He wasn’t sure how many

more she could endure.<p>


The tears wouldn’t stop. She shivered beneath the blanket, her back on fire,

everything sore. She kept looking up and seeing the Patience getting closer, knowing

that when they got there she’d have to go through it all again, being stripped and

paraded and flogged. She would die. She wanted to die rather than go through that

again. She tried to pray bringing the clenched fists that held the blanket tight up to her

lips, whispering hoarsely the Lord’s Prayer. She didn’t know if it would help but she

thought it might bring some comfort. All it did, though, was provoke the ginger

redcoat into more cruelty.<p>

“You’re praying?” he sneered and seized her ear, twisting it painfully. He cuffed her

across the back of the head and then grabbed a hank of her wet hair, twisted her head

so she faced him. She could barely see him through the tears. “What you should pray

for,” he said, “is bigger tits.” He shoved his left hand beneath the blanket and grabbed

at her right breast. “I can’t find them. Where are they?” He squeezed painful at the

bruised flesh and she shrieked. How could they allow this? “What have I ever done to

you?” she cried. “Why are you doing this?”<p>

He just smiled at her and ran a finger nail across her nipple. He pretended to readjust

her blanket making the noise of the lash with his tongue. “Whiiiiiiit- cher.” He made a

kissing gesture with his mouth. “Whiiiiiiit-cheerr.” She turned away from him, and

stared at the rough wood of the deck. He laughed and tweaked the short hairs at the

top of her neck. She wanted not to be humiliated by him but she couldn’t help the

tears that flowed, the racking sobs that pulsed through her body.<p>

The boat pulled in by the Patience. She glanced up and saw the soldiers lined up on

the deck, there to watch her flogging. On the bridge she saw the figure of Captain

Hastings, standing slightly apart from his officers, his face impassive as he gazed

down over the punishment vessel. Alongside him she saw one of the officers raising

his hands so the palms faced each other six inches or so apart, then moving his right

hand in a shallow curve. There was a ripple of laughter. Were they really talking

about her breasts? Was there no respite?<p>

A short, stocky man slithered down onto the deck, the cat jammed in his belt. He was

lithe and athletic, probably in his early thirties, dressed in a grey shirt that accentuated

his athleticism. There’d be no respite here: of course there wouldn’t be; this was

Hastings’s ship and he would have handpicked his flogger. The boat pulled away

from the Patience and she knew it was nearly time. How could she go through that

again? She wanted to die. Could she throw herself overboard? But then she thought of

the agony of the salt water on her open wounds. There’d be no escape; that was for



Hastings watched. Berkeley looked terrified as they forced her to her feet. She was

shaking visibly, even from this distance and he heard her yelp as the redcoats

wrenched the blanket away to reveal her slender torso. He hadn’t realised quite how

thin she was, quite how delicate, her small breasts adding to the sense of her

girlishness. The redcoats took her arms and forced her along the deck. She resisted,

dragging back, fearful, but they were far too strong for her. <p>

She cut a pitiable figure but that was precisely the point. Punishments were supposed

to humiliate the victim. He - or she – was supposed to be degraded, taken to the limits

of their endurance. She had to suffer and others had to realise how serious her offence

had been. She’d disobeyed Appleby; he didn’t care about that: he’d have given her a

dozen for that and been done with it. But to take notes? What if they’d fallen into the

hands of the French? He’d have had her hanged if he hadn’t thought this would have

made a greater impression.<p>

He knew Appleby thought he was too harsh but this wasn’t just about punishing Miss

Berkeley. This was about sending a message to all these do-gooders: discipline and

the rules of the service must come first. Nobody would forget this. The newspapers

would describe it. It would create a stir at home and people would know that the law

was the law and the traditions of the Royal Navy were being upheld. Battles weren’t

won with sympathy.<p>

They made her stand in front of Hudson. She was twisting and pulling in the grip of

the soldiers, pale between the red uniforms, the picture of fear. She fell still, leaning

back as far as the hold on her arm would allow, the posture seeming to emphasise her

nakedness. Hudson read out the sentence. The redcoats turned and dragged her to the

grating. Hastings saw her back properly for the first time: 60 lashes had savaged her,

leaving her willowy back red from neck to waist. For the first time he wondered if he

had gone too far: seven dozen more when there was no skin left was tough. She

fought, trying ineffectually to pull away, but they slammed her into the grating and

fastened her arms.<p>

She thrashed and cursed and pleaded. This was terror, a girl at her wit’s end, perhaps

literally. His officers just seemed amused by her plight, though, while the men were

rapt, whether thrilled by the sight of naked female flesh or horrified by the severity of

the sentence he didn’t know. They’d talk about it, though.<p>

Jack, the bosun’s mate, glanced at Hudson, who gave the order to proceed. He shook

out the lash, making sure the knots weren’t tangled. He was the best flogger Hastings

had ever known – strong and merciless, but no sadist. He would administer the lashes

with great power and with the slight flick of the wrist that caused the knots to drag

and tear the skin, but he wouldn’t aim at the kidneys or at patches of raw flesh. Mind,

all her flesh was raw; he’d be tearing not into skin but into bloody pulp.<p>

Berkeley twisted, looking back over her left shoulder at Jack. She shouted at him,

seemingly begging him to go easy. Jack didn’t even look at her. He flicked his wrist a

couple of times, stepped back and then launched himself into the lash. She turned

away as she saw the whip coming.<p>

She flinched almost before it landed, as though trying to bury herself in the grating.

She gave an agonised shriek as the lashes landed with a wet slap, her body spasming,

feet lifting from the deck. Her back arched and her head flew back. Hastings saw her

teeth gritted as her lips flared. She landed and found purchase and her head flopped

back forward. She gave an extended wavering groan. “Sixty-one,” called Hudson.<p>


Watson could see her arms trembling with the strain. She pressed herself against the

grating, her dark eyes glinting with tears, lips wobbling, left cheek against the wood

as the bosun’s mate brought the lash down from the other side. The strands thrashed

into her just above the shoulder blade. He saw a fine spray of blood fly up as her head

was flung back, her torso thumping into the grating. She screamed, her whole body

tensing, muscles in her neck standing out. There were beads of sweat standing out on

her forehead; her body gleamed and he knew the sweat must be stinging her. She was

shaking and moaning, seemingly unsteady on her feet, every breath apparently an

agony. The poor girl; each lash seemed to take her to a fresh hell, and yet the hell

never ended. <p>

Jack lashed her again, across the middle of her back, the ends striking the ragged

patch left by Harry. He saw the knots strike the pulp, saw a thick spray fly up, saw her

whole body spasm. She began retching, violent shudders passing through her. She

coughed mucus and perhaps more onto her narrow bicep, her face a mask of disbelief

and pain. He’d never seen anyone whipped this savagely – it seemed ridiculous that

when he did see such a flogging it was administered not to some muscular and

gnarled rapist or murderer, but to a terrified, slender, pretty girl.<p>


“Sixty-three,” called Hudson. The bitch was really suffering now and she wasn’t even

half way. He watched the next lash land, ripping across her shoulder blade. There’d

been a sliver of unmarked skin there, just on the point of the scapula, but it

disappeared as the lash pulled across it. Her screams were getting louder and higher

pitched. He wondered if he should gag her but if he was honest he was enjoying the

sound, enjoying hearing the last shreds of resistance being thrashed from her. “Sixty-


The rope strands of the whip were already stained red with her blood. When Jack

swung the lash, a fine spray came off it. He brought his fifth down on her spine,

pulling almost vertically down her back. Her fists clenched and she thrust her torso

hard into the grating, her head rocking back so sweat flew from her hair. Her teeth

were clenched, her long neck taut as she roared with pain. “Sixty-five.”<p>

The next wrapped low, half-turning her as the knots pulled on the soft area between

hip and ribs. Her head lolled to her left, resting on her upper arm. She gave an

exhausted sob and began begging for mercy. “Sixty-six.”<p>


Jack had hurt prisoners before, of course. He tried to put that out of his mind.

Sympathy would be fatal. He was good and he knew he was good. It earned him

benefits and the men, by and large, accepted he was merely doing as he was told. But

this was different. Her dark eyes fixed on him; she begged and begged, pleaded with

him to stop. He brought the lash down the same as ever, pulling slightly to drag the

knots across the skin. Blood flew up and she wailed even louder, bouncing on the

frame. <p>

It wasn’t his job to judge the sentence, merely to enact it. He felt a surge of anger

towards her at the way she was trying to manipulate him to go easy on her. He lashed

at the fleshier part just beneath her arm-pit, the drag he used half turning her away

from him. She was screaming constantly, the wailing and sobbing never quite

subsiding. All part of her attempt to gain his sympathy, he decided. How typical of

women. He thought of his wife, how she’d cheated on him when he’d been on his last

voyage, how she’d begged for forgiveness and reconciliation making just the same

shapes with her eyes as he’d beaten her. He lashed straight down the middle of

Berkeley’s back, ripping away small clumps of flesh. “Sixty-nine.”<p>

He shook out the whip, separating the thongs. Blood dripped onto the deck. He pulled

a small sliver of skin from one of the knots, then assessed his stroke again. He went

for another almost vertical lash, his arm coming up and over and raking the thongs

down the left side of her back. She was shaking, unable to breathe without a

quavering howl leaving her lips. Slowly, her legs gave way and she slithered down the

frame until she hung by her wrists, her knees bent, fingers outstretched.<p>

He came in again, aiming again at the area under her right armpit. He deliberate

flicked the lash long so the knots whipped around, catching the soft skin under the

arm. She let out a gurgling cry, deep sobs racking her body. He showed no mercy

though, and delivered the final lash hard to the upper middle of her back and couple

of thongs creeping over her right shoulder, biting into her collar bone.<p>


Watson was sickened. The girl was broken, exhausted, whimpering. Three or four

minutes must have passed since the last lash, yet she was still sobbing as he hauled

the bucket over the rail. He hated the thought that he was going to inflict more agony

on her. He tried to justify it by telling himself the salt-water would protect her against

infection – that was the official excuse – but he knew this was just about pain. He lay

the bucket on the deck and fumbled to unfasten the knot.<p>

As he did so he could see her out of the corner of his eye, slumped, her arms taking all

her weight, bloodied torso heaving as she gasped for breath. Her face was angled

towards him, the eyes open, defeated, terrified, the mouth sagging open as she

desperately tried to get air into her lungs, the brow beaded with sweat. And he could

see the side of her right breast, of course, pale and soft and delicate and marked now

by the odd stray lash. <p>

Pryce was ready first and rushed forward. He wouldn’t dare to taunt her here, surely?

Not in front of the admiral? She looked at him, imploring with her eyes. “Please…”

she whispered as he tipped the bucket over her. She jerked and shuddered, spasms

passing through her, an exhausted moan emanating from her. Watson stepped up.

There was nothing he could do to ease her pain. Her back was a mass of red, tears and

nicks and raw patches all blending together, six dozen lashes having left her with

barely a sliver of skin. He threw the seawater almost apologetically and it was all he

could do not to turn away as she thrashed and screamed. <p>

Pryce grabbed her by the waist. “Stand up,” he commanded, pushing her up. Her legs

trembled, but she stood, rocking slightly as she leant on the grating. Watson

unfastened the strap carefully, aware she could collapse. Her skin was cold, damp

with sweat and brine as he took her thin arm. He had to shove his right hand under her

shoulder to support her as they led her back to face Hudson. He saw Pryce had done

the same and was taking the opportunity to fondle the side of her breast. She was

shaking, her legs barely taking her weight, but when she stood before him she found

the strength to begin pleading and begging again.


“Please,” she wept. “Please. You’ll kill me. No more…” But the surgeon just

shrugged after listening to her chest. Hudson glanced up at the admiral and when the

admiral nodded.<p>

“Laura Berkeley,” Hudson said, a slight smile playing on his lips. “For the crimes of

gross insubordination and sedition, you are to receive 144 lashes of the cat o’nine tails

upon your bare back. Flogging is to be administered around the fleet. Seventh dozen

to be administered before the Patience.”<p>

“No, no. Please…” she begged, but already they were taking her back to the grating.

She tried to resist but she was too weak. Pryce slammed her into the grating again, but

it was a pointless cruelty. Watson almost gently, apologetically, fastened her right

wrist even as Pryce yanked her about as though she were dangerous, tightening the

leather loop harshly around her slender wrist. She was biting her lip, mewling in

terror. She looked at Watson and he felt his stomach turns as he saw those dark eyes

imploring him to intervene. But he couldn’t. He checked the strap and stepped



She had to take what they’d already given her again. It made no sense. Her world was

one of pain, sheer, raw pain. Her back was awash with fire. She felt unsteady on her

feet, dizzy, sick. And she had 72 more lashes to come. She tried to melt into the wood.

She pressed her forehead into the grating and gritted her teeth. She had to stay strong

but her mind was melting away. She heard the whistle and then the whip struck again.

It was a drop in the ocean of the pain she was already feeling and yet the force of it

still drove her torso forward. Her head flew back and she saw the sky. She could feel

her legs shaking but she stayed on her feet.<p>

She felt too exhausted almost to scream, a rasp of breath leaving her as she sought to

steel herself for the next one. It came, savagely ripping down her back. She could feel

the flesh tearing, new grooves being marked. She began to retch, hawking up dry

saliva. “Seventy-four.” The next was low, hitting under her ribs, the knots reaching

round, half-turning her. She began to bawl, an inhuman noise. Why couldn’t this just

end? She couldn’t take any more. She wanted to die or at least pass into

unconsciousness. But her world was pain. The seventy-sixth lashed into her ribs,

hitting skin that wasn’t yet fully destroyed. Her legs gave way and it even hurt as the

bonds holding her wrists broke her fall. She hung, part of her brain trying desperately

to drag the image of her horse to mind. The next was high in the middle of her back

and she began to retch again. Her head slumped, falling forward and to the right so

her forehead was propped on her thin bicep.<p>


Hastings watched as Jack dragged the seventy-eighth lash down the centre of

Berkeley’s back. Her head jerked up briefly before she collapsed again. At Hudson’s

direction, the soldiers stepped forward and lifted her. The ginger one, he saw, cupped

her breast as he forced back to her feet. It was inevitable, he thought, that a woman

being punished would be sexually abused but he wished they’d just whip her. It must

be humiliating enough to be topless in front of so many men. He could see her

shaking even from that distance. Jack didn’t pause, but laid the lash on with

customary vigour. Her fingers seemed to claw at the grating, her screams constant.


Jack was starting to feel weary. He was rarely called on to deliver more than a dozen

in such a short space of time. He shook out his arm, blood dripping from the whip. He

stepped back and lifted it higher this time, using gravity to help generate speed. It

ripped down her back, making a grim wet tearing sound. Her howls were raised a

pitch and he saw caught on the knots the odd morsel of flesh. “Eighty.”<p>

Pryce smirked. He’d rarely enjoyed his job so much. To have one of them in their

power, to watch her broken, slowly and systematically, thrashing and screaming, her

little tits aquiver, to see her dark eyes burning with shame, to see her learning what it

was to be powerless as her silken skin was ripped to shreds, well, even in his wildest

fantasies he’d never imagine such a thing. Jack heaved into the last, laying it across

the centre of her back. He was a powerful man, absurdly powerful for her slight

frame. She jerked as the lash landed, and then slithered again down the grating, too

weak to stand.<p>

Hudson was concerned. He’d known the sentence was brutal, of course, but he knew

they were moving into territory where they might kill her. It was his job to make sure

they didn’t and there’d be trouble if he allowed it to happen. Jack thrashed diagonally

down across her back. He saw the spray of blood and the limp body flinch. “Eighty-

two,” he said. Her head was tipped back now, mouth open, the arc of her neck

magnificent. As the next blow caught her she barely grunted, her head flicking up and

then dropping again.<p>

Why couldn’t she just fall unconscious? She felt weak, hideously weak, but the pain

burned on. Her whole body was trembling. She couldn’t feel her legs. Her arms ached

from holding her up and her back felt like nothing she’d ever imagined possible. The

sun hammered down. All she could see was the bright white sky and the dark of the

grating. She wanted unconsciousness but it wouldn’t come. She heard the whistle and

the whump, felt the cords wrap under her ribs, felt her body twist, felt the sting and

the burn and looked down to see beneath her streaked ribs new bubbles of blood as

the knots rent the soft skin. “Eighty-four.” It was over for now.<p>


The surgeon took another sip from his water-bottle. He felt terrible. His hangover was

kicking in and it was stiflingly hot. He watched as they poured the seawater over the

girl. From her screams he knew she still had strength in her but he also knew that they

were reaching the dangerous stage. The recoats ragged her over, her feet trailing on

the deck. He could see her heart thumping even as they forced her into a standing


He stood in front of her, placed a hand on each cheek and lifted her head. He looked

into her eyes; he thought he detected resentment which he took as a good sign. He

slapped her gently on each side and then let his hands fall to her breasts. They were

deliciously soft and cool, the nipples hard and rubbery. He moved his hand up and felt

her heart. The beat was quick but still seemed strong. He looked back at her face and

same pain, degradation and hope that he would end it. He moved behind her and ran

his fingers down the pitted welted raw back. It was a hideous sight and would get

worse but that was no reason to stop the flogging. He patted her buttocks, the drawers

pink and wet, the flesh beneath splendidly firm. He walked back in front of her and

for no reason other than to feel her tit again, placed his trumpet to her chest. He

kneaded and squeezed. “She’s fine,” he said. “No problems for the next dozen.” She

began to sob and the soldiers dragged her back to the stern.<p>

He watched her go, feet trailing on the deck as they pulled her along and wondered if

he’d been too optimistic. The soldiers sat her down, the gingery one holding her head

up by the hair as the other one wrapped the blanket around her almost gently. When

he released her she fell forward so her head slumped between her legs.<p>


Laura retched. She stared at her feet and the deck. Her head was swimming. The pain

was horrendous. She wanted to die. Could she throw herself over the side? She

shivered. How could she take more. She thought of the Dutchman, the merciless way

he whipped her. Twelve more from him. It was impossible. How had it come to this?

Her mind drifted away. She felt for a moment as though she were looking down on

herself, her thin broken body trembling beneath the blanket. She coughed and a little

vomit came into her mouth. She spat it out and earned a slap across the top of her

head from the ginger one. Dark shapes drifted over her vision. Sixty more lashes.

Sixty. She’d die. She became vaguely aware that the boat was pulling up against the

ship. The tears began to fall again. The pain.<p>

She looked up. She saw the Dutchman on deck, the cat in his hand, stained red with

her blood. He swung the whip back and forth, limbering up. She saw the smiles

among the officers. How could they take pleasure in this? In destroying her? The boat

pulled away. She felt the terror again. A band of tension tightened around her chest.

Sixty more. She bit her lower lip, jaw wobbling. Then the soldiers’ arms were on her,

pulling her to her feet. The blanket was wrenched off and her breasts were exposed


She wondered if the humiliation of that would ever fade, if there’d be a time, in a

dozen or two dozen lashes time, when she didn’t feel embarrassed that she was naked

to the waist in front of all this men. She could see the eyes of the rowers on her, hear

the jeers from the ship and then, worst of all, after they’d half-dragged her reluctant

body along the deck, she had to stand before him. Hudson smiled at her and she hated

him and wanted to resist him even as her body was telling her to give in, to let the

darkness wash over her.<p>

“Laura Berkeley,” Hudson said, his pleasure in her humiliation obvious. “For the

crimes of gross insubordination and sedition, you are to receive 144 lashes of the cat

o’nine tails upon your bare back. Flogging is to be administered around the fleet.

Eighth dozen to be administered before the Orpheus.” She hated him, hated the way

he openly stared at her breasts, openly seemed to be enjoying her pain. <p>

And then they pulled her over towards the grating. The panic kicked in again and she

fought them, pointlessly, as they spun her round and rammed her into the grating. She

fell still, weeping at the hopelessness of it, and the straps were tightened around her

wrists. “Oh God, oh God,” she murmured, and was seized with another fit of shaking.

She felt his hands on her hips, strong, muscular hands. He leaned in so his mouth was

close to her ear. “I don’t want to do this,” he whispered. “But I have no option. Stay


He stepped back and she watched over her shoulder as he shook out the thongs. She

saw the knots, saw the unusual length, saw how the rope was stained with her blood.

She saw his broad forearm beneath the turned back cuff of a stained white shirt and

she realised she was whimpering. Her horse, her horse. Think of her horse.<p>

He snapped the whip a couple of times, got the nod from Hudson and delivered the

lash. She heard the whoosh, felt again that sense of hopelessness and terror and then it

exploded onto her. Lights flashed around her eyes, her back burned anew, and she

stared at the sky. A weak scream left her mouth and she trembled. “Eighty-five.” Her

fingers clawed at the grating. Her horse. She saw its big, gentle eyes, a flash of its

chestnut mane against sun dappled trees and then the lash landed, thumping her

breasts into the wood, snapping her head back. It winded her and she barely grunted.

A fit of tremors passed through her and she found herself as the initial pain subsided

rubbing her right cheek against the grating, panting as she sucked in the hot air.

“Eighty-six.” She couldn’t do it. She couldn’t take more. She could feel trickles of

blood running down her back. Her face was contorted with pain and fear. She wanted

to weep but it felt as though her tears had dried up.<p>

She was shaking, from weakness and exhaustion as much as anything. The long

strands thrashed into her again, the tips this time snaking around her torso to whip into

her left breast. She howled, pulling as hard as she could on the straps, muscles tense,

three roars of pain leaving her mouth as she rocked back three times. She looked

down at the breast and saw the wheals, blood bubbling from the delicate skin. As she

tried to calm herself she saw from the corner of her eye Hudson, a broad grin on his

face as he announced, “Eighty-seven.”<p>


The warden felt uncomfortable now. The allure of watching a pretty young girl

stripped to the waist and flogged was waning alongside his disgust at the severity of

the penalty. As the huge Dutchman swished down the ship again, he could see a fine

spray of blood flying from the lashes. He saw the knots strike with terrifying force at

the base of her spine, saw blood splash from her raw wounds, saw her thrust forwards

as her head flew back in a cloud of sweat. A fit of tremors passed through her and she

slumped, knees pressed together and quavering moan leaving her lips. “Eighty-


This was hideous. He understood she had to be punished. He understood keeping a

diary was a stupid thing to do, but this savagery seemed too much. Jan wound up

again. The red cords were a blur as they whistled through the air, striking from the tip

of her left shoulder across to the base of her neck. Those long lashes, he realised, were

terrible, adding to the power of the knots as they struck her. She subsided, legs giving

way so she hung, the muscles in her arms taut. “Eighty-nine.”<p>

He wondered what Jan felt. He calmly flicked out the thongs, untangling them and

sending spatters of blood to the deck but he seemed to sigh as he look down at the

target, lowered by her collapse. It was his job to carry out the sentence of course, but

surely he must feel pity for her? He took his familiar two-pace run up and lashed

down. He misjudged it slightly and struck her too low, the thongs crashing into her

waistline. She seemed for a moment as though she were going to be torn from the

grating as he body dipped, her head snapping back, but she bounced back and retched

loudly. “Ninety.” She dropped her head and retched again and then began to vomit,

coughing up small gobbets from deep. <p>

As the heaves subsided, the redcoats hastened to her and lifted her. She seemed

unsteady on her feet, swaying as far as the bonds would allow. Jan lashed her again,

striking the upper middle of her back. She gave an exhausted grunt. Her head flopped

back. The ninety-second lash struck lower, sending up a shower of blood and she fell,

her groin pressed into the grating, knees just above the deck, her upper body hanging

as far back from it as was possible.<p>

Jan looked at the officers and Hudson nodded. He shook the whip and heavy drops of

blood fell to the deck. He looked at Berkley’s back and sighed, but delivered the next

lash with full force across the shoulders, the long lashes flicking under her armpit. Her

body was driven forward, smacking into the grating. There was a scream, but it

seemed half-hearted. Her head lolled back, her mouth open. “Ninety-three,” Hudson

said. “And stop.”<p>

Was he ending the whipping? Had he decided she’d had enough? “Surgeon,” Hudson

said, “wake her up.” <p>

The surgeon looked a little surprised. “There are only three left in this set, sir,” he


“I know. But she must feel every lash. The sentence was for 144 and that is what she

will receive.”<p>

The surgeon walked over to her and gestured to the redcoats to lift her. They did, and

her feet scratched hopelessly at the deck. He took a small bottle of smelling-salts from

his pocket and uncorked it, waving it under her nose. She gave a low, wavering moan

and began to retch again. The soldiers released their grip and she stood again,

uncertain and trembling, but upright.<p>

As her retching subsided, a skein of saliva dangling from her chin, Hudson

commanded Jan to proceed. Jan looked at the lieutenant and he looked at Miss

Berkeley and for a moment the warden thought he was going to refuse, but he stepped

back and lashed her, seemingly with full force. She shrieked, performing again that

terrible rictus dance, head back, torso thrust forwards, shudders passing through her.


Jan shook out the cat and came in again, ripping it down from a point just under her

left shoulder. She howled, and her legs gave way again. Her open mouth closed

around her bicep and she rested her head on her arm, sobbing. Jan looked

sympathetic, but lunged in again seeming to put in extra effort as though determined

with the last lash to prove he wasn’t slacking. There was a great spray of blood as the

knots thumped into the lower left side of her back. Her head shook slowly, a pitiful

wailing rasping from her throat. The soldiers tipped brine over her and she twitched

and thrashed, shrieking hopelessly.<p>

As they unfastened her she fell limp to the deck, lying face down in a puddle of brine

and her own blood, torso heaving, her back a mangled red mass. The ginger redcoat

prodded her with his boot. “Get up, you lazy bitch,” he shouted, and she pushed

herself up slowly before pausing, exhausted. Her legs still lay flat to the deck, her

head dropped, but the way she rested on her arms, her chest was raised and that meant

the warden got a fine view of her breasts hanging down. They might have been small,

bruised and welted now by the lashes, but they were delicate and enticing and the

warden found himself aroused almost despite himself.<p>

The redcoats seized her arms and dragged her upright. The ginger one shoved her,

hard, and she skittered across the deck, falling at the feet of the officers. She cowered

before them, lying on her right side, legs bent up towards her chest. The warden saw

clearly the wounds on her back, hundreds of welts criss-crossing, great patches where

the skin had been beaten away leaving raw flesh to ooze with blood. She looked up at

them, and he saw her dangling breasts again. “Please,” she begged. “No more.”<p>

But the ginger redcoat simply grabbed her by her soaking hair and pulled her upright.



Hudson stood no more than six inches from her, looking down into her dark eyes. He

could smell sweat and salt and fear. He ran his fingers round her strong jaw and then

ran his knuckle over her soft lips. The surgeon, having listened to her heart, was

inspecting her back. Hudson placed a hand on her cheek. She seemed numb to him, in

a world of pain where even breathing was difficult. He slapped her gently and he saw

for a moment a flicker of anger in her eyes. Then, as though she had just woken again

to her surroundings, he saw the hurt and the shame. He placed his hands on her

breasts, feeling their gentle softness and her heart fluttering beneath. “No!” she

murmured, shaking her head.<p>

“She might pass out again, but she’ll be OK for the next set,” the surgeon said. <p>

“Good,” he said, running his finger down her nose and tapping her chin. “Off you


The soldiers almost had to carry her back to the stern, feet trailing on the ground, her

legs seemingly having given up. Hudson watched her go, the shape of her fine firm

buttocks clearly visible through the soaked drawers below her ravaged back. He

wondered if there were any way he could fuck her but he couldn’t work out where

she’d be that night.<p>


Smith watched as they fastened her on the grating. She was a mess but he felt no pity.

The bitch was there to suffer and he would make sure she did. And he would enjoy it.

She looked exhausted, half-dead, but he would wake her up. He ran his fingers

through his whip, still damp with her blood, enjoying the pull of the knots against his

knuckles. And at the end of each thing, a large, treble-tied Turk’s head, the weight

allowing him greater control – and of course, doing more damage. He walked over to

her, stood close behind her. He could hear her terrified breathing, see how she quaked.

He ran his fingers around the waistband of her drawers, noting how previous stray

lashes had torn the fabric. He ran his fingers up her ribs, feeling the welts on her

silken skin. He let his fingers touch the sides of her little breasts and was amused to

feel her tense as he did so. He places his hands on her hands and leaned in close until

his cheek touched her sweat-soaked hair and his mouth was by her ear. <p>

“I’m going to make this far worse than you ever thought possible,” he whispered. He

bit the lobe of her ear gently, pressing his teeth down as she tried to turn away from

him. As he stepped back, he blew in her ear, sending a shudder passing through



What did he mean by that? Was he going to aim at her breasts again? She tried to steel

herself, pushing her torso as hard as she could against the grating. Maybe getting him

to lash her sides rather than her raw back would be the best way of minimising the

pain, but she didn’t want him to have the satisfaction. She tried to tell herself not to

scream but she knew she was far too far gone for that. She heard his feet as he

bounded in, heard the swoosh of the whip. It crashed low and she felt alongside the

usual smart that awful sickness of a blow to her kidneys. Shapes danced before her

eyes. Her fingers clutched at the grating. She shuddered and pushed herself against

the wood, determined to stay on her feet, to stay strong as long as she could.<p>

She braced herself, tried to prepare. It was low again, thumping into the top of her

buttocks and her waist. Her left leg kicked up and she felt the pain jangle up her spine.

Above her scream, hoarse now, she heard the call. “Ninety-eight.” She trembled. He

struck again along the waistband of her drawers and even as the agony reverberated

through her she realised what he was doing. She turned over her left shoulder and

looked at him. “No,” she said softly. “Please…”<p>

He smiled and mimed a kiss. She hated him. She had to stay strong. She wouldn’t

give him the satisfaction. The lash landed again, dragged along her narrow waist. She

spasmed and retched, tasting vomit. “Ninety-nine.” She couldn’t stop shaking. Tears

again bubbled in her eyes.<p>


Hudson was puzzled. Why wasn’t Smith trying to flog her tits? He’d been looking

forward to that. He leapt in again and again thrashed hard at the base of her back. Her

head flew back, a visible spray of sweat flying up, her teeth gritted, eyes closed, the

shallow side of her left breast exposed, nipple pink and puffy. “One hundred,” he

announced. She seemed to be holding the pose longer than usual, thrusting her groin

against the grating. For a moment he wondered if she were deliberately grinding

herself against it, if she were so maddened by the pain that she were deriving some

sort of pleasure from it, but then he saw the truth and understood why Smith had been

flogging low.<p>

Slowly, slowly, the waistband began to part. Smith had whipped through the cord and

had they not been soaking wet and clinging to her skin, her drawers would have fallen

straight off. Smith surged in again and, with tremendous power, wrapped his cat

around her torso. With her body tense and pushed out from the grating, there was no

protection for her right breast and the knots reached around, blasting her ribs so the

heavy Turk’s heads thrashed into her softest skin. She gave a desperate howl,

shudders overwhelming her so she fell to hang by her wrists and, as she did so, the

drawers slid down, exposing the top couple of inches of her firm pale buttocks.<p>

Her head slumped to the left, eyes wide and mouth open so she seemed to be sucking

on her shoulder. Smith came in again. She was trembling but otherwise too weak to

move, a sitting target for his cruelty. This time he raked down her left side, catching

her armpit, breast and rib. Her body jerked, she let out and exhausted gasp, and the

drawers slipped a little lower. “One hundred and two.”<p>

Crash! Smith thrashed into the bloodied centre of her back. Her body leapt, head

snapping back, and there was more gusto to her roar. He reached around and flicked

the hundred and fourth into the right side of her breast. She gave a sharp squawk and,

and her body fell limp, the drawers slid full from her buttocks to catch around her

bent knees as they hung just above the deck.<p>

“Stop,” Hudson commanded. “Surgeon, go and wake her up.”<p>

He watched as the surgeon approached her bloodied form. Her buttocks, so pale and

perfect beneath the mass of red, were delicious. He wanted to stroke them, to spread

them apart and to penetrate them, but he knew that was impossible. Forty lashes left.

It was incredible. Forty lashes was a desperately harsh punishment anyway but on that

back it was unspeakably cruel. He just hoped he could keep her awake enough that he

could enjoy her suffering.<p>

The surgeon pulled her head back by the hair. Her eyes were open but seemed

uncomprehending. He uncorked the bottle of smelling salts and wafted it under her

nose. For a moment there was no reaction and Hudson wondered if she might be

finished but then she blinked and coughed and gave a hideous moan. Shudders passed

through her. She seemed to panic, kicking and twisting, turning to face him so he saw

her bleeding left breast beneath her armpit. “Stop, stoooopppp…” she wailed. As she

kicked, the drawers fell away entirely. There was laughter from those lined up on the

ship and from the natives.<p>

“Stand her up,” he ordered. There was something very vulnerable about her suddenly,

something shaming about her bare legs and arse. Before, she’d been stripped to the

waist so her back was bare for the lash. Now she was just naked. The redcoats lifted

her, Watson’s hand snaking between her legs as he dragged her upright. She squirmed

and let out a shout of humiliation but as the redcoats backed away she was ready,

naked and shaking, positioned for the flogging to carry on.<p>

“Proceed,” he said.<p>


Laura couldn’t stop whimpering. The pain was awful and she was sure she was going

to die and now she was naked. She was a toy for them, a game; they could touch her

most private parts and laugh. She stared at the sea beyond the grating. She heard the

lash. It smashed into the narrowest part of her back, wrapping round to sting just

above her hip and again she felt the dull nausea of a blow to her kidneys. “One

hundred and five.” She wanted to die. Anything to end this pain. She would commit

the most degrading acts, she would do anything he wanted, anything they wanted just

to be allowed to lie down and sleep and forget it all.<p>

The lash slashed across her shoulders. Her vision went dark and lights flashed in her

head. She saw the sky and she felt the grating strike her chin and she realised her legs

had given way again. She was shaking, not trembling but shaking violently. She could

feel urine dribbling down her thigh. This time they noticed and there were hoots of

laughter. He didn’t wait for to finish, but struck her again, across her shoulder blades

this time. The burn was horrendous. As she writhed, her legs slithered in the mix of

blood and urine at her feet, her drawers caught around her ankles. She could hear the

laughter clearly; were they all mocking her. “I’m not a game,” she tried to shout but it

came out as little more than a whisper. And, as she twisted, she exposed her right side.

Smith didn’t waste the opportunity. The heavy Turk’s heads thumped into the centre

of her chest in the shallow valley between her breasts. The majority of the knots,

though, struck the swell of the breast, biting deep into the soft flesh. For the first time

in a while she gave a real scream again, kicking and dragging herself so she half knelt,

pressing herself into the frame. But it was over. “One hundred and eight,” Hudson

called. <p>

She relaxed for a second but she knew there was more agony to come. With dull eyes

she watched as the two redcoats hauled their buckets over the side of the ship. How

could they do this? Hadn’t she suffered enough?<p>


The surgeon’s head thumped. This heat was appalling. He swigged from his water-

bottle. The girl was broken now; he didn’t know whether they could finish. She was

slumped, too weak to stand, hanging from the straps, moaning softly to herself. The

Welsh one kicked her and she twitched, turning her head slowly, painfully towards

him. He raised his bucket and slowly tipped it. As the salt water touched her raw skin

she gave a terrible, exhausted moan and her feet kicked. The drawers disentangled

form her ankles and she was entirely nude. She vomited. He wondered what damage

those kidney shots had done. <p>

On and on it went, the slow trickle of water, her tortured reaction. Finally, the other

redcoat stepped forward. He tipped his water far more perfunctorily but it brought a

worse reaction. She arched her back, head tipped so she looked straight up, a

terrifyingly high-pitched scream leaving her lips. <p>

She was unfastened and dragged over to them. Her legs, it seems, had lost all strength

and her eyelids fluttered. The surgeon checked her heart, almost casually tweaking her

nipple as he did so. The pulse was unsteady. He walked behind her and ran his fingers

over the bleeding, ridged back, feeling her body tighten with pain. In places on the

spine and the shoulder blades, the bone was visible. He took out the smelling salts

again and held them under her nose. A spasm passed through her. He ran his hands

over her smooth buttocks.<p>

“Get her water,” he said, and a redcoat brought forward a bottle. He held it to her lips

and she drank thirstily, even if a lot of water splashed down her chest. He lifted her

chin with one hand and looked into her eyes. “She’ll survive at least one more set,” he

said, and he saw the horror in her face.<p>


It was early afternoon and the sun was at its hottest. Hudson ran a finger inside his

damp collar. The redcoats lifted the blanket from around Laura’s shoulders and forced

her to her feet. From the deck of the Persistence, the prisoners roared. The sight of her

topless had been enough to get them going the first time; now she was totally naked.

This was what Hudson had dreamed of: that arrogant bitch totally exposed and

vulnerable, her pale willowy body, those long limbs, the narrow stomach, the sweet

mounds of her breasts and now the neat little triangle of hair there, visible,


She was terrified now, kicking and screaming, twisting desperately as the soldiers

marched her down the boat, seemingly having found new reserves of strength from

somewhere. And, of course, the more she thrashed, the better the show for those on

the ship. And for him. Why deny it? Those little breasts, the right one with the bruises

and welts, quivering as she struggled, he could have watched them all day. Finally,

they arrived before him and, panting, she was brought to some sort of order. <p>

She looked wild, her eyes staring madly, darting around as if seeking an escape. He

ran his eyes over her body, drinking in the pale nudity. Her right breast was badly

bruised now, crossed by several narrow welts studded with the round marks of the

knots. Her stomach, untouched by the whips, was beautifully flat and smooth. “Laura

Berkeley,” he said. “For the crimes of gross insubordination and sedition, you are to

receive 144 lashes of the cat o’nine tails upon your bare back. Flogging is to be

administered around the fleet. Tenth dozen to be administered before the


“No, no, no… You can’t do this,” she yelled, but the recoats were already leading her

across to the grating. She kicked and fought, a wild energy about her. Her teeth were

bared, her short wet hair thrashing around her face, her breasts bouncing. The

soldiers, though, were too strong, and blow to her stomach from Pryce subdued her.

As they fastened her, she howled, bitter terrified sobs racking her naked body.<p>


Ned saw her terror and looked at the ripped skin of her back. This was inhuman. He

looked at the knotted cords in his hand, still damp with her blood. How could he give

her a dozen more? The redcoats stepped back. He flicked out his left hand and walked

forward. She was shaking violently. Even the left side of her back, where most of his

lashes would land, was raw. He didn’t think he could do this. His eyes dropped to the

smooth arse and an idea occurred to him.<p>

He turned to Hudson. “Sir, maybe we could lash her buttocks?” he said.<p>

“The sentence, Mr Miller, is for the lashes to be delivered to her back.”<p>

“I’m afraid she may die, sir.”<p>

“You will deliver the lashes to her back with full vigour. She is to suffer the full

consequences of her crime.”<p>

“Yes, sir.”<p>

She was looking back at him over her shoulder. God, she was beautiful. Those eyes,

that little sweet nose, the intelligent line of the jaw, the delicate neck exposed by the

way they’d chopped her hair. He had to forget that. He took up his position, willed

himself to imagine a fat evil rapist up there, ran in and lashed her. The knots drilled

into her left shoulder and blood flew up immediately. Her whole body tensed and a

pitiful moan left her lips, carrying on for several seconds. “One hundred and


Ned waited. This was hideous, but he knew Hudson was watching closely. She was a

criminal he told himself, and lashed her rib-cage. She writhed, half-turning as he head

lunged back and he wondered if she would fall but despite emitting a hoarse howl, she

straightened herself and stood, trembling, head bowed, waiting the next blow.<p>

“Make her scream, Mr Miller,” the lieutenant ordered. He was hitting her hard. What

else could he do? He raked the next lash over the pulp of her upper back. She gave a

terrifying roar and her knees gave way so she hung, staring upwards and roaring with

pain. “One hundred and eleven.”<p>

She was twitching and shuddering, hanging by her wrists, her legs limp. He smashed

the whip into the centre of her back. Blood flew up. Her body jolted and she gave a

noise that was more cough than scream. Her head fell to her right, resting on her

shoulder. He could see her eyes, the expression dazed, drool hanging from her mouth.

He sighed and struck her again, the knots biting into the flesh beneath her rib-cage.

“One hundred and thirteen.”<p>

He hated the way she seemed to stare at him, face pressed into bicep, a tendril of hair

plastered to her forehead, eyes dully gazing at him as though he capacity to

understand the pain had disappeared. He flicked out the whip, heavy now with her

blood, and ran in again. A drizzle of blood was flung up even as he drew the thongs

back; when they smashed into her back there was a dull squelch and thick spatters of

blood were thrown up. His face and his shirt were covered in a gauze of her blood and

still she hung, all but lifeless.<p>


There had been a moment when she’d felt nothing. Had she passed out? She had no

idea. All she knew was that the surgeon was waving smelling salts under her nose and

that the pain was back, searing through her. Rough hands were on her, lifting her,

groping her breasts and genitals as they did so. She hated it and hated them; the cold

calculating way they took advantage and humiliated her. She felt nauseous and

focusing was difficult. She stood, the deck seeming unsteady under her feet, and

waited, blood and sweat dripping from her, head slightly bowed.<p>

She heard a voice saying, “Proceed.” She stared through the grating at the sea beyond.

She whimpered, and felt a little urine dribbling from her again. She felt desperate

cold. She heard the whoosh of the lashes and the slap of the rope against her bloodied

skin. For a moment she felt nothing and wondered if she entered a state beyond pain.

She was oddly aware of her nakedness, of standing nude on the deck, and then the

pain swelled, burning through her. She began to retch. “One hundred and fifteen.”<p>

An image of her horse flashed before her but she felt sad because she knew it had

died. There was a strange numbness about her, almost as though she could see herself

standing naked, bleeding, bound to a heavy wooden frame, could pity herself. The

next lash struck hard on her left shoulder, a couple of thongs reaching over to clad at

her collar-bone. Her head bobbed and she felt sweat running from her brow. She

could see the purple welts where the lashes had crept onto the front side of her body,

blood bubbling where two knots had caught.<p>

She heard voices. Hudson saying something about hearing screams. She hated

Hudson. She heard the other one’s voice, the one whipping her, saying something

defensive. The cat tore into her, dragging across the lower part of her back. The pain

was terrible and she became aware of a low moan that she realised was coming from

her mouth. Her throat felt sore and she was too tired to scream.<p>


The warden was worried now. Miss Berkeley had stopped howling and he feared for

what that meant. She still stood there, the little pert bottom delightfully pale beneath

the rivulets of blood, which suggested her body was strong enough but what of her


There was a clear look of disgust on Ned Miller’s face but he ran in hard again, the

lash striking the slightly less ravaged part of her back to the left, so the knots smacked

into her ribcage. Blood flew up, she gave a grunt and half turned towards the officers.

“One hundred and eighteen.” He saw the little round breast and the perky nipple, a

flash of her pubic hair, and then her knees gave way and she slowly subsided, hanging

with her back arched, head tipped back, sweat dripping from her soaking hair onto the

bloody mass just above her buttocks. The sting, he knew, must have been awful, but

she didn’t seem to notice.<p>

Ned looked at Hudson and Hudson nodded. “Hard, Mr Miller,” he said. It was absurd.

The girl had gone through hell. Did 26 more lashes really matter? The cat was a brutal

implement on the broad muscular back of a sailor, never mind her slender form. Ned

took a deep breath and ran in again, striking upwards this time so the knots thumped

around her left shoulder blade. Her body lurched forwards, the smack when her

shoulder struck the grating clearly audible. She slumped again, hanging with her head

back, throat raised as though to be sacrificed. Just one more. Blood dripped from the

whip. <p>

Ned shook it out and then surged in again, knowing he had to deliver his signature

drag. He raked a final lash across her lower back. The prisoners cheered. She half

turned, head falling against her right shoulder, eyelids fluttering. “One hundred and

twenty.” Ned was appalled, horrified at what they’d done to this pretty girl, sickened

by his part in it. Even if she survived, what was she going to be like? How could that

back ever heal? How could her mind ever recover?<p>


Pryce carried his bucket over to the grating and set it down. He grabbed the girl’s

soaking hair and pulled, lifting her. She whimpered. “Will you fucking stand up?” he

hissed, shaking her. He dragged her up the grating until she was in standing position,

and let go. She slid down again, her breasts dragging painfully over the slats. He put

his hand in the bucket and flicked the seawater at her. She began screaming through

clenched teeth. He didn’t hurry, just kept tormenting her with splashes of agony.<p>

“Just throw it at her,” Watson said. <p>

“She’s meant to suffer,” he replied. “Are you going soft?” And he dribbled a little

water over her shoulders, watching as it ran over her wounds, causing her to clench

her fists and shudder in agony. “Can’t hurt a pretty girl…” he said mockingly to

Watson. “You think if you’re nice to her she’ll let you fuck her?”<p>

He tipped a little more, sluicing the freshest blood from her back, watching her tight

little arse quiver as the tremors of pain ran through her.<p>

“It’s inhumane.”<p>

“It’s the law.” He threw the last of the seawater over her, relishing the glimpse of her

cunt as her legs kicked.<p>

She hung twisted, her weight on her right side, torso heaving. Pryce deliberately

walked in front of Watson and grabbed her under her shoulders, lifting her and

cupping her breasts as he did so. They were cold but deliciously soft, smaller than he

would have preferred - although her slenderness did seem to add to her vulnerability

and that was what was turning him on. He squeezed cruelly. “Stand up,” he hissed,

and slapped her hard on her left buttock. He stepped back and Watson threw the water

over her. She collapsed again, screaming as the salt bit into her wounds, legs


Watson leapt forward to unfasten her. “Look at the way you show off your cunt,” he

hissed. “You’re a whore. You love this attention, don’t you? Love flaunting yourself

in front of us.” Her head hung limp but as her wrist came free she half-turned, held up

only by her right hand as Watson fumbled with the buckle. He grabbed her jaw and

stared into her eyes. “But where’s your tits? A good whore has to have tits, not those

little things.” There was a dullness to her eyes but he could see shame in them.


Hudson looked her up and down. The soldiers had to hold her upright and she was

shaking but she didn’t look close to death to him. “Head up, Miss Berkeley,” he

commanded and with an effort she obeyed. He stood a foot away from her, struck by

the simple beauty of her dark eyes, the straight, sweet little nose and the lips that still

seemed to pout a little. Her hair, dark with sweat and seawater, hung in lank tendrils,

long strands across her forehead and cheeks, shorter where they’d clipped it around

her slender neck.<p>

She was trembling, the breath coming uneasily. He ran his finger over one of the

wheals that had cut over the shoulder to her collar bone. She blinked. He scratched it

and she winced. He let his hands fall to her breasts and again traced where the lashes

had raised welts. He tweaked her nipples, watching her eyes all the time, seeing in

them humiliation and anger. He placed a finger under her chin and raised her head a

little more forcing her to look at him. “Twenty-four more, Miss Berkley,” he said.

“I’ll make sure you enjoy them.”<p>

He ordered the surgeon to apply the smelling salts again and, as he did so, Hudson

examined her back. It was ravaged, only the tiniest strips of skin still showing, while

her vertebrae clearly showed through just below her neck. The twenty-four that

remained would be delivered on raw flesh. A day ago he’d have thought two dozen

lashes on a girl was an appalling; now he was going to watch her take them on a back

that had already taken five times that amount. <p>

She began coughing and retching as the smelling salts took effect, jerking between the

two soldiers, her buttocks thrusting backwards and she heaved. He ran his hands over

them, feeling their cold silkiness of the skin and the firm smoothness beneath. <p>


Pugh watched as the girl was dragged along the deck. How had he ever agreed to this?

One of the red coats stopped and, as the other one carried on, she was turned so her

back faced the ship. The prisoners roared as they saw clearly the ripped skin above the

pert buttocks, a collective intake of breath that became cheering and laughing. Pugh

felt sick. She was just a girl and they’d flogged her worse than he’d seen mutineers

whipped. And what made it worse was that this wasn’t just about the application of

lashes. It wasn’t just about inflicting pain to pay some sort of debt to justice and set an

example no one would forget – although which of these men would ever keep a diary?

It was about humiliating her, sexually degrading her, showing her breasts and now

everything else to the men, ensuring she could never go anywhere again without

everybody knowing she was the one who’d been whipped naked round the fleet.<p>

The ginger redcoat then turned her, seemingly to the embarrassment of the other one,

so she faced the ship. For four, five seconds, she stood, fully nude, exposed before

them. She seemed to try to sink away from them, pulling back, knees bent towards

each other but she couldn’t hide. Pugh found himself staring at her pert little breasts,

the narrow waist, the dark flash of hair and he had to admit he was aroused by her

abjection, the way she was so helpless. The prisoners cheered and, as he looked along

the line, he saw how they rubbed themselves, pleasuring themselves at her shame. As

they laughed she was hauled back along the deck.<p>


Laura huddled beneath the blanket. She was shaking and sweating, her body

screaming with pain. She felt like she had some dreadful flu. Reality had a fuzzy edge

and images of the past, what, four, five hours kept coming back to her. She was

naked. Even as the fire burned in her back, that mattered. They’d deliberately exposed

her to the prisoners. Deliberately. She knew her mind wasn’t at its clearest but she

also knew that this had long since ceased to be a simple flogging. There was a

vindictiveness – a desire to humiliate as well as hurt. Was it directed at her? Or

against her class? Or against her gender? She had no idea; she just knew that dozens

of men were working out their rage against her.<p>

She realised she was leaning against the redcoat she thought was called Watson. He

seemed a little embarrassed by what they were doing to her. Maybe he could help

somehow. He didn’t resist as her shoulder touched him but she’d barely registered the

comforting solidity when the other one sprang up. He seized her by the hair, pulled

her up and threw her to the deck. She fell awkwardly, the blanket slipping form her so

she lay naked, face down against the warm wood. Even that seemed a welcome

respite, but then he grabbed her hair again and began shaking her violently. “Trying to

seduce an honest soldier, are you?” he shouted. “You little slut! They should give you

extra lashes for that.”<p>

She wanted to point out the ridiculousness of him displaying her to the prison ship

while accusing her of seduction, but she knew it would only make things worse and,

besides, she was simply too tired, in too much pain. “Sorry,” she croaked. “I’m

sorry.” He slapped her, hard, so hard she could taste blood in her mouth, and shoved

her down roughly on the seat. Waves of pain passed through her, and got worse as he

pushed the blanket down onto her. “Sit up straight,” he ordered. She tried, but the pain

was too great. He grabbed her shoulders and pushed her back and for a second the

agony was so intense she thought she would pass out. He pushed his face close to

hers. “You little fucking slut! You whore! Shamefully shaking your tits at everyone!

You disgust me.” Despite herself, she felt anger and shame growing, her jaw

wobbling. He clipped her around the back of her head and then sat down at last.<p>

And next was her ship. The Virginia. She’d be naked before men she had got to know.

And flogged by Harry. Big, pitiless Harry, famed for feeling no pain, no fatigue, no

emotion. The tears rolled again down her cheeks.<p>


She was naked. Tom couldn’t believe it. He gawped as the punishment boat pulled in

alongside the Virginia. She was huddled between the redcoats, face pale, hair soaked,

the blanket clasped around her. It had taken him a moment to realise, but where there

should have been white cloth he could see the smooth skin of her thighs. What had

they done? She looked ill, shaking, staring vacantly straight ahead. He wished she

would look at him so he could somehow express to her that at least one of them felt

sympathy for her. He knew he was in the minority. Rab had noticed she was naked as

well and was making lewd jokes and then the cook joined in, complaining about the

flatness of her chest. “She’s got nae tits,” he said. “She’s like a wee boy. Pretty face, I

grant ye, but nae tits.”<p>

Tom wanted to defend her. Look at her, he wanted to say, look at her beauty and her

grace. Who cared about the size of her tits? And they weren’t that small – gentle

slopes rather than pendulous bells – it was true, but still, he imagined, soft and tender:

their trembling had still been clearly visible as they’d dragged her along the boat the

last time. She was a lady. She had class. Ladies didn’t need huge sacks like a dockside

whore. But he said nothing. <p>

They got the boat in position for the punishment. Tom watched intently as the two

redcoats pulled her to her feet. She looked terrified, pulling back like a child scared of

going into a graveyard. The ginger-haired one yanked away her blanket and she was

naked. The crew hooted as the pale skin was revealed, the small breasts with the pink

nipples, the flat stomach and the triangle of hair that had been hidden from them


Tom could see her flush, even at that distance, embarrassed at her nudity in front of

men she knew. As she was dragged along the deck, her feet seemingly unable to walk,

he saw her back, saw the savagery of the flogging. From neck to waist she was red,

blood running over her buttocks to drip down her thighs. The buttocks, he noted, were

as trim and firm as he’d expected, the thighs deliciously slender. They made her stand

in front of Hudson, that bastard, and it was clear how much he enjoyed watching her

suffering. <p>

“Look at her wee flat arse,” Rab said. “I’d like to punish her on that.” There was

laughter. “Spank her till she’s red as her back.”<p>

There was more laughter, more ribaldry. Tom could bear it no more. “Have some

fucking respect,” he blurted. “They’re killing her over there.”<p>

There was laughter. “Oooh… You in love with her?” the cook asked. “You think now

she’s been whipped she’ll be over here offering blowjobs for a bit of kindness?”<p>

“I’d be more than kind to her for that,” Rab replied.<p>

“Fuck off,” Tom said, his face red. How could they not understand?<p>

He turned back to the punishment boat, where Hudson had just finished reading out

the sentence. Miss Berkeley resisted pathetically as she was dragged to the grating,

took weak to fight back, too terrified not to. Her fear was obvious even from a couple

of dozen yards, her fingers splaying as the straps were fastened around her slim

wrists. Tom was appalled by the sight of her back. She was a deep red from her neck

to her waist, barely any skin left even on her ribs. Yet her buttocks were pale and

perfect in the sunlight, a shocking contract to the red above.<p>

He watched Harry draw out the lash. He saw her look at him over her left shoulder.

He saw the fear as she hunched into the grating. He saw Harry step back and swing

forward in that practised arc, the wide sweep of the arm and the lashes following,

clawing at her right shoulder blade, thumping hard into her so her head flew back and

blood sprayed. “One hundred and twenty one.” <p>

She shuddered and he wanted nothing more than to take her in his arms and comfort

her. Harry, phlegmatic as ever, followed his routine and whipped her again. Her

scream was horrific: first a shout as the knots thumped into the raw flesh, then a

moment of silence as she caught her breath and then an elongated keening wail as her

knees gave way and she slid down the grating to hang by her wrists. Tom thought her

heard terror in that howling, and wondered if death were close, if she were seeing the

afterlife approaching.<p>

Harry stepped back. There was blood dripping from the whip already. Tom saw him

change his angle, striking down to take her lower position into account. He over

reached slightly, and the tips of the cat ripped into her ribs. The force turned her

slightly, twisting in her bonds, exposing the right side of her right breast to Tom’s

eager eyes. She gave an exhausted sob, naked legs kicking, whole body shaking. The

redshirts stepped in and lifted her, and Tom saw the ginger one making a point of

groping her, squeezing her breast as he pulled her back to her feet. Finally, she was

still, almost propped against the grating. Harry lashed her again, sweat sprayed and

blood spattered and her legs gave way again. Her head fell to her left, resting on her

shoulder. “One hundred and twenty-four.”<p>


Hudson saw her eyes, her exhausted gaze settling on him. She still had twenty lashes

to take, more than he’d ever seen given to a woman. He’d let her take two more then

get the surgeon to examine her. He couldn’t let her die. The blood sprayed back from

the whip as Harry ran in again. The muscular arm thrashed through the air, the broad

back flexed and the thongs cut deep into her right shoulder, splashing up further

blood. Her head lifted for a moment and she gave a grunt before slumping again.

“One hundred and twenty five.”<p>

Harry glanced at him and Hudson nodded. If Harry was worried about continuing this

clearly was serious. But Harry could be relied upon to show no mercy. He repeated

the familiar action as hard as ever. The knots ripped into the shoulder-blade, her body

skipped and with a shiver and a gasp, she slumped, head lolling back, mouth


“Wake the lazy bitch up, surgeon,” Hudson commanded. The smelling salts were

waved under her nose again and with a cough and a bout of retching she came round.

The recoats helped her up, the ginger one not only pawing at her breast, but sliding a

hand between her legs. He should stop that, he knew, but he was gratified at the

startled little leap she gave as, presumably, his fingers touched her most sensitive

areas. If she could still feel that, she would still feel the lash.<p>

“Proceed,” he ordered. The blood was rolling off her now, dribbling over her pretty

arse and down her legs. She shook, hunched against the grating. The cat landed again

with a wet thud. Blood spattered up, her body jerked and she fell back, feet still on the

deck, her groin thrust against the grating. “One hundred-and-twenty-seven.” He could

see the side of her breast clearly, the gentle slope, the pale softness tipped by a pink

nipple. The lash landed and her torso was flung forward. He saw the breast hit the

grating and flatten before she slumped again, hanging by her wrists, too exhausted

even to scream. “One hundred and twenty eight.”

Her head fell back, her mouth open, gulping in air. Her breasts were pushed out

slightly by the arch of her back, thrust up towards the bonds that held her arms. He

could see sweat on her brow, her short hair soaked. Harry crossed his vision, arm

swinging the red-soaked cords to strike her again. He caught just under her armpit,

twisting her, drawing a yelp. “One hundred and twenty nine.” Her legs scrabbled and

the redcoats strode in to lift her. Harry ran the things through his meaty fingers,

squeezing out some of the blood. She couldn’t stand now, not even with the soldiers

hauling her up, so they left her dangling, forehead pressed against the wood, knees

bent. <p>


Appleby felt appalled. The girl was dying, he was sure. This whipping was ridiculous:

to tear the skin from her back and then keep flogging her was savagery. And to strip

her naked... why was she naked? Where were her drawers? But even to show her little

breasts to everyone was a disgrace. She should have been given a dozen in the prison

yard and be done with it. Harry, like a machine, swept the knotted cords into her

again. He could hear the wet thud from eighty feet away. Blood sprayed up, her body

shuddered, she grunted and her head lolled back. “One hundred and thirty.”<p>

He wasn’t sure what would happen next – if she survived. He didn’t really see how he

could take her back on his ship, not when she’d been humiliated and flogged like that.

How could she look at men who’d watched her shame? She’d know whenever they

looked at her they’d be seeing her naked and screaming. And besides she’d be too

weak to do anything other than lie in her cabin all day. And what of the men? If as

bad enough having a beautiful young woman on board, but one they’d all seen naked?

It would drive some of them wild.<p>

Harry wound up again and struck her. She jerked and fell back, a high-pitched wail

coming from her throat as shivers passed through her. Appleby could see the blood

dripping from the whip. “One-hundred-and thirty-one.” This was hideous.<p>

But if they left her here, who would look after her? And how, half-dead – at best –

from the whipping, would she survive. The chance of her picking up an infection was

huge. Maybe death was the best option for her, given what had been done to her. How

could she live with the shame? The physical scars would never go, her back would be

a mess of scars forever, but the emotional scars might be even worse.<p>

She was still wailing when Harry rushed in again. The lash smacked high into her

right shoulder, sending up a spray of blood. The wail was interrupted by a terrifying

grunt. Her fingers stretched out and she clawed at the wood before the moaning

started again, spasms passing through her. “One-hundred-and-thirty-two.”<p>


Laura wondered if death were close. She knew they were lowering the buckets to get

the salt water to throw on her and she knew that would somehow make this agony

even worse. Could she take a dozen more? She didn’t care. She just wanted it to end.

The pain was awful. Every breath of wind sent new waves of agony through her. She

could feel blood running from her back over her buttocks and thighs, dripping on her

calves and the deck. She’d never known pain could be so extreme, so constant. The

muscles of her arms and shoulders ached from hanging there but she was too weak to

stand, and each movement of the muscles of her back sent stabbing pains through her.


The redcoats were there next to her with their buckets. She dreaded the brine. There

was no point attempting to steel herself; she just waited. The ginger one began as

she’d known he would, flicking the water. Did he know how much it hurt? He

couldn’t, surely? Nobody could be that cruel. She bucked and twisted, agony giving

her new strength, thrashing in her bonds. On and on it went, the pain building and

burning, each drip a new torment. Then came the rush as he tipped the final half of the

bucket. There was a moment when she thought she’d blacked out, as her vision was

filled with brightness, but the fire was still there and she found her legs kicking

desperately, arms pumping, chest beating against the grating. She retched and then

vomited, although only bile was left inside her. The taste in her dry mouth was foul,

but it was nothing to the waves of pain that swept through her back as she heaved.

Yellow trails hung from her mouth across her chin. <p>

When she at last hung still, limp, all strength gone, the other redcoat stepped up. He at

least got it over with. She waited, dreading the brine. It came, suddenly, tipped

directly over her head. There was some mercy in this she realised for, although it

blinded her and the salt stung her eyes dreadfully, it at least partially spared her back.

But even the amount that did washed over the raw flesh was ghastly. She was

exhausted, her energy spent, and yet the pain lifted her, muscles tensing as she

thrashed and howled. She could see that ginger-haired one smirking, standing where

he could see her chest as she bucked, watching the shallow breasts quiver. At last she

fell still, hanging until they unbuckled her wrists, at which she dropped heavily to the

deck, falling to lie on her left side.<p>

She wasn’t permitted a moment’s respite. The redcoats seized her and dragged her to

face Hudson. Her legs were numb, too weak to hold her and so she let herself go limp.

Only the soldiers kept her upright as Hudson examined her again. To think she could

have fucked him and escaped this. She saw him examining her, staring at her

nakedness, relishing her breasts. Would he never be sated? Did her nudity really mean

so much to him. The surgeon came over to her, poked her, prodded her, held his

trumpet to her fluttering breast. He walked behind her, fingered her back, sending new

impulses of agony through her. “She’ll complete the sentence,” he said, patting her

bottom. Did they have to humiliate her at every turn?<p>

The redcoats turned her to haul her back to her seat in the stern, the ginger one

deliberately stopping so she faced the Virginia, her nakedness visible to the whole

crew. She saw them, men she’d spoken to, men she’d liked, staring, pointing,

laughing. She looked down and saw her frail body, the pale skin that so fascinated

them, the small breasts hanging from her chest, the nipples red, four or five welts

crossing the tender skin. Her poor, exposed, beaten breasts. And worst of all, she saw

the dark triangle of hair, the reminder that she was utterly naked. The soldiers pulled

her on and she was dragged to respite at the bow.<p>


Pryce was determined her suffering should be as intense as possible. He hated these

posh girls. As he’d draped the blanket over her, he’d heard her teeth chattering, seen

her shivering and, of course, seen the hideous mess of her back. But life was pain; if

she’d grown up without money she’d understand that. He sat next to her, and let his

hand reach under the blanket, cupping her smooth, pert buttock. “Bitch,” he said.

“Bitch. Whore. You’re a bitch and a whore. Whore. You’re loving this, showing off

your body to all the men. Whore. Whore.”<p>

As his fingers reached further and he began to toy with her labia she turned to him.

She seemed tired rather than angry, her hair flat to her head, those dark eyes red-

rimmed, a certain greyness to her narrow cheeks. He probed inside her, making sure

she saw his grin. “Whore,” he said. “You’re a whore.”<p>

He shifted his hand suddenly, his fingers tracing the cleft between her buttocks. He

paused at her waist, the smooth skin already giving way to the sticky ridges of her

bloodied back. He let a nail slide over the raw skin. “What are you?” he asked.<p>

“I’m a whore,” she whispered.<p>

“Stop it,” Watson said. “Don’t you think she’s suffered enough?”<p>

“What? You think if you’re nice to her, the whore’ll give you a free one?” he scraped

his fingers cruelly over her back. She squirmed in pain. “Whore,” he said. “What are


“I’m a whore,” she said.<p>


Patrick watched as Pryce ripped the blanket away from her, grabbed her by the hair

and threw her down. She sprawled on the deck, buttocks indecently pale beneath the

dark red of dried and matted blood of her back. He had no idea why she was naked

but that was the least of her problems. Pryce screamed at her to get up, but she was so

weak she could only push herself onto her knees. He saw her small, neat breasts

dangling, and then she collapsed again. The soldiers seized her arms and pulled her

along the deck, through the locals. When they got to the stern, Pryce seized her hair,

yanking her head back so she faced the officers.<p>

To his surprise, Patrick was struck by her beauty, even though her face was streaked

with sweat and tears and her skin had taken on an unhealthy cast. “Laura Berkeley,”

said Hudson. “For the crimes of gross insubordination and sedition, you are to receive

144 lashes of the cat o’nine tails upon your bare back. Flogging is to be administered

around the fleet. Final dozen to be administered before the Hendrick.”<p>

Her head fell back as they dragged her to the grating. He saw resignation in her face,

sadness and fear in her eyes. Her back was a mass of red, white flashes of bone just

visible on her right shoulder blade and in patches on her spine. The redcoats fastened

her and as they stepped away, she slid down the grating, her legs giving way. Hudson

sent the surgeon over with his bottle of smelling salts. “She is to feel these lashes,” he

said. “Administer the salts after every three lashes.”<p>

She twitched and gave a slight moan as alertness returned, glancing with terror over

her shoulder. Patrick took that as his cue. He drew the cords through his fingers,

stepped in and slashed the whip down on a diagonal, aiming at the uncovered

shoulder blade. Her body jumped, as though she were attacking the grating with her

breasts, and her head flew back. An agonised squawk left her throat and as she fell a

weak, high-pitched wail was squeezed from her throat. “One hundred and thirty-


She shook and he saw urine dribble from between her legs. He wound up again,

ripping the lash across the tops of her shoulders, where there were still filaments of

skin. Her head snapped back and sweat flew up as blood splashed from her shoulders.

Her shaking became even more violent. Patrick wanted to flog her buttocks, to tear

apart that smooth, tight skin. He was a little surprised by how strong his urge to hurt

her was. He dragged the third lash down the centre of her back, trying to expose more

of her vertebrae. She began retching. “One-hundred-and-thirty-five.”<p>


Laura felt a rag wiping the trails of bile from her chin. The smelling salts assailed her

and the fog that surrounded her receded, the pain in her back intensifying. She felt

hands lifting her and she retched again. They were touching her everywhere, her

breasts, her buttocks, her most personal areas. She wanted to die. When they left

loose, her legs gave way again so she hung and the strain on her back intensified the

agony. There were only nine lashes left and yet she felt she couldn’t face them. She

just wanted oblivion. And she knew that even when they finished, her ordeal would

go on.<p>

She heard the whistle and she felt the lash, smacking into her rib cage and cruelly

raked over her raw flesh. Another shudder passed through her and she felt her bladder

give way again. The pain was atrocious, something beyond pain. “One hundred and

thirty six.” She felt intensely cold. She wanted to move, to twist away but she was too

weak, her strength sapped.<p>


The surgeon couldn’t work out how she’d held on. The trauma was dreadful, the

strain on her body extraordinary. Yet her heart was still strong and he was confident

that even as they flayed more flesh off her, she would survive. He stood only four feet

from her now, standing to the side of the grating. She was shaking, head lying limp on

her bicep. He was close enough to see the tension in her muscles, the sweat on her

brow. He could hear the blood dripping from the whip against the deck and he heard

her whimper as the dripping stopped and Patrick swept in again. The crash of cord on

wet back was horrendous. The blood sprayed up, a few drops spattering across him.

He heard the gasp, the breath knocked from her, heard a scream gurgling in her throat.

Her eyes, empty, fell on him. Did she even know now what she was suffering? “One

hundred and thirty seven.” Her head rolled back and as it did so he saw terror. She

was still feeling the agony then, still dreading the seven lashes to come. Being this

close he saw the full power, the nine cords smacking into her, the tearing of the knots

on the ruined flesh, the force of her body being driven into the grating, a scream that

was almost a cough and them stillness. “One hundred and thirty eight.” He stepped

forward, uncorked the bottle, held it under her nose and saw the recognition of pain



Hudson looked on pitilessly. Just six more lashes to administer. He would have loved

to send her round again, to see her shame and pain extended. The redcoats made a

show of lifting her but she was too weak to stand and really it was just an excuse for

Pryce to fondle her. He found something attractive even about the strained muscles of

her shoulders, the skin of her upper arms so smooth compared to the bleeding mass of

her back. <p>

Patrick, who’d spent the time as they woke her squeezing her blood from his whip,

flicked out his wrist. He steadied himself, took aim, ran in and thrashed her, dragging

the lash almost vertically down her spine. She thrust into the grating, then fell back,

spasming, thighs pressed tight against the wood, breasts deliciously upraised as she

stared at the sky and screamed, the first real scream she’d given for some time, mouth

wide, the roar drawn from deep within her, rasped over her raw throat. On and on it

went, the muscles in her arms knotted and tense. Finally, as the howls receded her

body relaxed and she fell limp. “One hundred and thirty nine.”<p>

Hudson realised how fortunate it was that it was Patrick delivering the final dozen.

Others might have felt pity, might have gone soft on her, but he seemed determined to

make her suffer as much as possible. He watched the slow routine again, pulling the

fingers through the cords to dislodge the morsels of skin and flesh, the flex of the

right arm, the three pace run up and then the delivery, swept down with a snap of the

wrist to drag the knots across the back. This one was targeted at the right shoulder-

blade and as her body writhed with the aftershocks of the blow, Hudson saw Patrick

had managed to expose a good inch of bone. “One hundred and forty,” he said above

her wailing.<p>

Blood was running thickly over her buttocks now and the whip was heavy with gore.

As Patrick pulled it back again a thick shower of blood flew up and the lash sent a

visible spray over the deck as he brought it down into her rib cage. Her legs splayed,

her cunt clearly visible as she retched and screamed, kicking before her strength faded

and she slumped. Her head had fallen against her arm and he wondered if she were

unconscious but as the surgeon approached with the smelling salts, Hudson saw her

stare at him, loathing and terror in his eyes.<p>


Three lashes left. The warden, handkerchief dabbing his lips, was suddenly

concerned. He’d been caught up in the blood lust, he admitted with some distaste.

He’d enjoyed the savagery, watching this naked girl being ripped apart. There’d been

a thrill in watching her delicate beauty being systematically ravaged. He thought of

her as she’d been marched to the boat, the silken purity of her skin, the gentle promise

of the breasts she hid beneath her arms, and he looked at her now, her modesty gone,

the skin gone, even the little tits bruised and scored by the lashes.<p>

After the familiar process of invigorating her and fondling her, the soldiers backed

away. Her legs couldn’t hold her any more and she hung, knees about a foot off the

deck. She was moaning softly to herself and he wondered if her mind had gone. The

Irish bastard spread the lashes and charged in, striking her with full venom as though

this as the first lash and she were a criminal who’d raped his mother. Blood flew up

and she was lifted by the force of the blow before dropping painfully to hang again,

retching and shaking. “One hundred and forty two.”<p>

He was worried about what happened next, when the frenzy was over, and they had to

decide what to do with her. At some point, somebody was going to ask why a young

woman had been stripped naked and flogged to an unconscionable degree by a couple

of dozen men while a few hundred men looked on. It might, he thought, perhaps had

been better for everybody if she’d died up there.<p>


Patrick spread out the lashes again, his fingers slippery with her flesh. She was

twitching and sobbing, whimpering in a way that suggested she was still very much

aware of what was going on, even if she was too weak to do anything but hang,

shaking and bleeding. He assessed her back and decided to attack her left side, where

some pale skin was still visible. He altered his angle, ran in, and swept the whip

down. The power was good and so too was his aim, a couple of thongs just catching

the side of her breast as the bulk of the lashes raked over the ripples of her rib


Her legs kicked and she began retching again. Her right cheek banged against the

grating. She felt her insides give way, urine dribbling down her leg. “One hundred

and forty three.” One more and it was over. One more and she would have survived –

and yet the pain was so bad she didn’t know how she would ever recover. Would she

bleed to death? The spasming stopped. She felt cold. She was strangely aware of how

much her arms ached. One more lash. One more dousing with sea water and it was


Hudson could see the sweat on Patrick’s brow. Miss Berkeley hung so far towards

him, left leg bent, right straight out behind her, that her right nipple was visible and he

willed Patrick to lash her there. The tips, he saw, would tear into the breast, while the

body of the whip would crash into the bloodied hole Harry had opened up with the

second dozen. Patrick calmly ran his fingers through the knots. Blood oozed between

his fingers. He surged forward, and laid the lash exactly where Hudson had envisaged.

A spray of red flew up and the girl’s body leapt, a gurgling shriek passing between

her lips.<p>

Only a few tremors in her shoulders showed she was still alive. Pryce didn’t much

care. He just wanted to have his last bit of fun with her. He kicked her leg, trying to

attract her attention and, when she half turned to look at him, he drizzled a little brine

over her. Her jaw clenched but she couldn’t keep back the howl, the high-pitched

wailing as he tormented her, slowly emptying his bucket as she thrashed on the


Hadn’t they done enough? Laura shivered. She was hanging by her wrists, all strength

in her legs gone, the strain in her whipped shoulders appalling. She was covered in

goosepimples, her head limp, water dripping from the tendrils of her hair onto the

deck to join the mess of blood and piss. The second bucket came, as usual in a rush,

flung into her rather than over her. Each nerve in her back screamed in pain and

another scream was rasped from her throat. On and on it went but as the pain passed

from unbearable to merely excruciating she knew it was over. She was in a mess but

she had survived.<p>

The redcoats unfastened her and she fell to the deck. For a few moments she lay,

unmoving, and Hudson saw how even her wrists now were bleeding. The redcoats

picked her up and dragged her to him. There wasn’t even an attempt now to stand, yet

alone walk. He looked her up and down, paying particular attention to the blood

capped bruise on her right breast, the result of that final lash. She looked weak,

pathetic, the slenderness of her body seemingly emphasised by the way she cringed at

each breath of wind across her back.<p>

“Punishment complete,” he announced, and gestured for the redcoats to take her back

to the bow. They pulled her along by the arms, her feet trailing along the deck, blood

running from her. They propped her up on the bench, the ginger one screaming at her,

the other one holding a water-bottle to her lips. She shivered constantly, every now

and again giving an awful shudder. The question was what to do next. Hudson didn’t

see how she could be allowed back on the Virginia. For one thing, she was so weak

she would almost certainly die; for another, now that the men had seen her naked, it

was hard to see how they would be able to contain themselves.<p>


The warden’s wife peered through her binoculars. The boat pulled into the shore and a

gangplank fastened across to the jetty. There were still hundreds of natives milling

about, a small platoon of redcoats standing by to keep order. The slow procession

began: her husband, Lieutenant Hudson and the surgeon first. Her husband looked

tired, as though horrified by what he’d seen; Hudson seemed to be smiling. Then

soldiers and then the girl, a red coat at each arm, dragging her.<p>

She was naked. As they hauled her across the walkway, it became obvious both that

she was too weak to stand and that she was totally nude. This was outrageous. At least

going the other was Miss Berkeley had been able to cover herself: here everything

was visible and the natives were going wild. She could see the slender body, the

gentle curves of the breasts and the red nipples, horrendous welts criss-crossing the

ribs, and she could see the dark triangle between her legs, the pale thighs. The girl’s

head hung limp, her short hair sweat-drenched. The warden’s wife wasn’t even sure

she was conscious.<p>

The soldiers pushed her and she staggered forwards – she was conscious then, but

only just. She took one awkward, pace, two, three, lurching towards the mob, who

roared their delight and the spectacle of the naked white girl, and then she fell,

pitching forward into the dust. The warden’s wife saw her back and instantly felt

nauseated. It was red. Red from neck to waist. They’d flogged her till there literally

wasn’t a shred of skin left. Blood had run down over her buttocks and legs.<p>


All Laura could hear were jeers and laughter. “You’re free to go, Miss Berekely,”

Hudson had said, but what did that mean? She was naked even if she had been strong

enough to run. And where anyway would she have run to?

The pain was incredible and she felt desperately weak. She lay face down in the dust,

exhausted, burning with agony and shame. Her naked buttocks were visible to

everybody and the way she was sprawled she knew those behind would be able to see

even more. She pushed herself up, sending new spasms of outrageous pain through

her. The sun hammered down. She managed to lift her torso perhaps six inches off the

ground. She didn’t dare look up and her head still hung down, sweat dripping off her.

But then she faltered and collapsed again. She heard laughter. She coughed in the

cloud of dust thrown up by her slump, each movement costing her new anguish. She

glanced up and saw a mob of locals, pointing, jeering. Her distress was their fun.

Tears again rolled down her cheeks. She summoned her strength again, and pushed

up. She raised herself four, six, eight inches, thought she might be able to put her

weight on her knees, and then she made the mistake of looking at the crowd again.

Her eyes lighted on a grey-haired man, grinning toothlessly, staring at her with

rheumy eyes while sharing a joke with the equally old man next to him. From his

hand gestures, it was clear they were mocking the size of her breasts as they hung

down from her chest. Feeling a wave of shame, she collapsed again, lying flat on the

ground, arms hooked in front of her, sobbing bitterly.<p>


Hudson was revelling in her shame and weakness but he realised it was time to act.

“Get her up,” he said to Pryce and Watson and they hastened to her prone form. As

Watson bent and slid his hand under her right arm, Pryce grabbed her sweat-soaked

hair and yanked her up, seizing her elbow before she could fall again. She screamed,

long and hard, as the two of them hauled her round, each with one hand under her

armpit one on her elbow. By the time she faced Hudson she was gargling hoarsely.

Dust clung to her body, somehow emphasising her nakedness as beads of sweat

smeared lines through it. <p>

There was a look of disbelief on her face as she wept. “Please…” she murmured.

Hudson knew he had to decide what to do. “I should have you whipped for vagrancy,”

he said, drawing laughter from all around him. Pryce pulled her hair again, twisting so

she yelped. “Take her back to the jail,” Hudson ordered.<p>


And so, naked, weeping and bleeding, Laura Berkeley was dragged through the

streets of Cape Coast by two redcoats. Her legs were useless, her body limp, and they

just hauled her by her arms, each with one hand under her shoulder, the other on her

forearm. Every now and again, Pryce would lift her, almost displaying her to the vast

mocking crowds, who were titillated and horrified in equal measure by her nudity and

the savagery done upon her beautiful, delicate form. Where her feet dragged in the

dust two lines were drawn, marked either side by spots of sweat and blood.

At the jail, she was confined again to her cell, lain out face-down on the pallet, too

weak to put on the dress that lay beside her, each breath bringing fresh agony. The

surgeon attended her that evening, binding her upper body in bandages and giving her

a sedative to give her some relief from the pain. A couple of days later, her clothing

restored by local women, Miss Berkeley was carried, semi-delirious, on a lintel to the

warden’s house, where she carried on her recovery under the stern supervision of the

warden’s wife who forbade Hudson or any of the other officers to visit her.<p>


It was another six months before Miss Berkeley boarded a ship to return to England.

The captain thought her a pretty woman, despite the difficulty she had walking, but

found her quiet and reserved to the point of sullenness. And there was a hauntedness

that never quite left her eyes.

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