2 hours ago
Haymaking was a time when everyone in the village turned out to lend a hand. Work began as soon as it grew light, when the sound of the old horse-drawn mowing machines could be heard clickety-clacking up and down the fields, chopping down the long grass and scattering in their wake the buttercups, poppies and moon-daisies that were just coming into flower.
The harvesters worked like Trojans until early evening, cursing and sweating beneath the blazing sun. Then, when it got to six o 'clock, everyone would gaze hungrily towards the distant farmhouse, eagerly awaiting the arrival of Betsy Partridge, a plump rosy-apple-cheeked girl in her early twenties. She was the Bailey's servant-girl, and her job was to fetch the food which she and her mistress had prepared for the famished farm workers; bread and butter, thick slices of home-cured ham, cheese, cakes and gallons and gallons of tea.
...I remember being there in the hayfields one sultry July at around teatime when the back-breaking work had finally ground to a halt and everyone was hot, thirsty and ravenous. Twenty minutes went by and still no Betsy. The men began to grumble loudly and one or two - 'Little' John Witcombe, a hulking young ploughman, included - began taking long cooling draughts from a large stone jar of farmhouse cider which they kept in the shade of the hedge and which was an accepted part of payment for their services.
At long last Betsy came into sight, staggering under the weight of the heavy basket which was laden to the brim with provender.
"What time of the day do ye call this, Betsy, ye great lazy trollop!" cried Bob Pritchard, slapping her so hard on her bottom that the basket slipped from her fingers and fell to the ground.
"Now see what ye've made me do, you cheeky devil!" Betsy exclaimed combatively, squaring up to Bob, all set to give as good as she got.
Then Little John Witcombe stepped forward, rubbing his hands in glee, his grey eyes flashing. He was spoiling for a tussle with Betsy, especially with a bellyful of cider in him. "I reckon what 'er needs is 'er bottom warming good and proper to teach 'er to get 'ere on time!" he chortled, making a sudden grab for her.
Betsy shrieked with excitement and backed away, but he was too quick for her. Frog-marching her over to an old wooden bench by the hedge, he pushed the strapping wench down across his brawny lap, whipped up the back of her dress, likewise her red flannel petticoats, and, much to the amused interest of the general assembly, began belabouring her ample bottom, tightly encased in thin cotton drawers. The men uttered loud whoops of delight and the few women remaining in the fields (most had gone home with their children to prepare supper) either sniggered knowingly or else tut-tutted and clicked their tongues, pretending to be shocked by such abandoned behaviour.
Betsy received a hearty spanking on that well-fleshed posterior of hers. Little John probably didn't know his own strength, for had big bulging biceps, and hands like great slabs of meat. While Betsy roared, screamed and flailed her sturdy legs in protest, he continued with boundless enthusiasm for a good five minutes more to give the plump servant-girl the bottom-tanning of her life. I watched the whole unseemly performance, spellbound. I noted, with gloating delight, how Betsy's thinly clad buttocks twitched convulsively and in a very vulgar manner whenever Little John's hand came walloping down on them.
Betsy Partridge was a powerfully built girl but she was no match for Little John. When finally he took pity on her madly squirming rear, desisted from lambasting it, and pushed her off his lap with one last resounding 'SMACK!' across the seat of her drawers, a prodigious change had come over her. She was no longer the saucy, provocative hoyden of a few minutes before. Grimacing with pain at the raging fire Little John had lit in her bottom, Betsy tried to laugh it off and pretend it was all a joke - but I saw her eyeing Little John somewhat mistily as if on the verge of tears...and it was a look of new found respect too, signifying that at last she'd found a man who would put up with no nonsense from her.
He patted his lap as if to say, 'Let's be friends now' and, almost shyly I thought, she allowed him to sit her on his knee, wincing a little when her tender bottom touched the rough fabric of his working breeches. Then, flinging his sun-burnt arms around her waist, he planted a great smacking kiss on her lips, which she returned with equal fervour.
Late in the autumn, Little John and Betsy were married. Under the firm but loving yoke of his domination, Betsy became a different woman. She never as much looked at another man again and, I'm sure, stayed faithful to Little John to her dying day.
Incidents like these were a common, everyday occurrence when I was a young girl, growing up in the wilds of West Shropshire. Is it any wonder that I nursed the deep-rooted conviction that girls were especially created to have their bottoms whipped ....or that men were created to do the whipping?