The Seigneur reached out and held Yvain by the hair, and pulled her upright. He said, “Were you asked to make a sound?”
Yvain looked at his chest, afraid to meet his eyes. “N-no, my Seigneur.”
The Seigneur’s voice was soft, amused. It frightened her more than if he had shouted at her. “No, you weren’t. In fact you were told to be silent. You’re not a very obedient girl, are you?”
Yvain was near tears. Not, she knew, because she was about to be punished, but because she had displeased him. “N-no, my Seigneur. I am sorry. It is for you to judge, but I think I need punishment for that.”
“You do need punishment, my little serf slut. You need it badly. And you need it always. If it weren’t for Karl and the beldam here, you’d tire me out.”
Just the mention of those two servants made her conscious of the heat and pain in her buttocks, and the colour she still must be, where she’d had the strap.
She wasn’t sure what to say to the Seigneur, so she said nothing.
The Seigneur pushed her away. “Get on the bed, Yvain. On your back, with your knees up and your thighs wide as you can get them. Now!”
“Yes, my Seigneur.” Yvain hastened to the bed, feeling the self of the eiderdown soft and cool under her bottom. She raised her knees as instructed. Then she hesitated for a second before opening herself.
It took some effort to get her thighs as wide as she absolutely could, but she wanted him to see that she was trying.
But he did not look at her. He said to the beldam, “Beldam, put the strap on the bed beside the pillow, in case I need to persuade this slut to make better efforts. And fetch my riding crop.”
The beldam curtsied, “Yes, my Seigneur,” and obeyed. She looked sardonically down at Yvain while she placed the strap on the bed, for the Seigneur to use. She muttered, “He lays it on harder than I do.”
Then she went to a cupboard beside the bed, took out and shook a black length of whalebone, covered in plaited leather, with a hassle at the tip. She did not carry this by the handle, but carried it to the Seigneur on her two open hands. “My Seigneur,” she said.
“Thank you, beldam. I think I can take it from here. You may go.”
The beldam curtsied again, said, “Yes, my Seigneur,” and opened the door. As the door opened, all three heard the sound, from below them, of a muffled crack of leather on bare flesh, and a woman’s cry of pain and woe. The beldam said, “Karl is giving Gisela her schooling.”
The Seigneur looked irritated. “Just so.” He waved the beldam away, moving only his fingers. The door closed.
The Seigneur looked down at Yvain, riding crop in his hand. He pressed the tip of the crop between her parted thighs, against the soft skin of her perineum. Yvain knew she was in danger of moaning, if that tassel moved. She bit her lip. Then the tip and its tassel rose, up, a little way between the lips off her cunt, and Yvain jolted, her stomach muscles trembling as she tried to keep still.
Then he smacked her cunt once, lightly, and then showed her the leather tassel, wet with her arousal. “You do need punishment, don’t you, Yvain? Really need it.”
Yvain knew he was no longer talking about her small, involuntary acts of disobedience. “Yes, my Seigneur. It seems I do. It is how I am made.”
The Seigneur smiled. “Then keep still for me, Yvain. You have a lot to learn.” He let her watch while he raised the crop, very slowly, till it hovered in the air, over his shoulder.
Yvain couldn’t help it. She knew she was not allowed to speak. She said, “Please.” Even she wasn’t sure what she meant.