So I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try out Graham's invention. Of course, you can't see, because it's behind you and you're strapped so very tightly across the whipping block. But back there, the mechanical arm holding the cane is fully retracted, so the machine's ready to strike. When it does, the electric motor drives a small wheel into rapid motion, increasing tension for a second or two, before the arm is released and the cane lashes across your bottom.
It's that little delay that makes it work, actually. Poor old Graham kept on trying and trying to propel the arm immediately to make the stroke, but you can never get enough force to get it to lash at the speed you need for a proper impact. It took him ages to find a solution. I was getting quite frustrated actually - he was probably getting more strokes from me manually than he was testing each day on the machine. But that delay lets the speed build up and then - whoosh, and it cracks across your buttocks. So you'll hear a little whir for a second or so, before you hear the cane whistling through the air. I've asked him to work on that whirring sound - it would be better if there weren't any warning. I'm sure he'll be able to sort it out, with the right encouragement from me. Still - it canes hard and that's the main thing.
So after the stroke it winds back again, going a little bit up or down so it doesn't keep caning the same spot. Graham himself suggested that little feature, actually, after the first time I tried it on him. Twelve on exactly the same spot makes you ever so sore. He started work on the vertical motion straight away after that! Anyway, I can set it to go steadily up or down, or just let it go randomly.
Oh, you'll find out. The pattern should be clear by stroke three or four or so.
I'm so pleased with this. I mean, I'm not going to stop caning boys manually, obviously! But sometimes it's nice just to hand the job over. And there's something quite relentless and brutal about being caned by a machine... the way it just keeps going, no matter what you say or how piteously you cry or scream. I mean, so do I of course, but boys still always start making a fuss after a while, in the hope that I'll go easy on them. Boys can be so stupid. Well, this machine takes that hope away.
You look worried! No...maybe worried isn't the right word. You look terrified. Well, so you should. You're getting twelve, good and hard - and I've already programmed them in. Nothing you can do.
But you know, I haven't told you about the cruellest feature yet. Do you want to know?
I can programme the speed. It can go at any speed I like. So what do you think is about to happen, hmmm?
No. Oh for goodness' sake. You boys are so unimaginative. You think that the worst thing I could do to you is to make it go as fast as possible? Twelve strokes in quick succession - THWACKTHWACKTHWACKTHWACKTHWACK?
Well, it could do that. And obviously that would be sheer hell - it would certainly make you scream. But that's not what I've done. Quite the opposite. Can't you guess?
Between now and - oh about nine o'clock tonight - you'll receive twelve strokes. It's just gone noon, so that's about one every 45 minutes. But they won't come regularly. The intervals have been set to be random - anything between 30 seconds and two hours. You will get all twelve - you can depend on that. But you'll never know when the next one's coming, as you wait there hour after hour. Until you hear that little whir anyway... then you have a second or so to brace yourself. It'll be so much better when Graham's sorted that out...
Yes, you see? I thought you would. It's much worse than getting twelve all at once, isn't it?
Do you think the randomness makes it worse? I wasn't sure about that. I like the thought that you'll be on edge for all of that time, never knowing when - or precisely where - the next stroke will land. But on the other hand, it might be nice some time to try spacing them evenly - say, one every hour. And you could have a clock in front of you, watching the seconds counting steadily down. Or no clock, and you'd be frantically estimating whether the hour is nearly up. Maybe we'll try that next time.
Hmm? Oh, we've already started. I switched it on about five minutes ago. Every five minutes you have about a one in nine chance of a stroke. It could have happened already. But it didn't. It will, though. That's certain: you've still got all twelve to go. It could happen any second... or not for almost two hours... it's just up to that little microchip. Out of my control anyway, and certainly out of yours.
Hmm? Yes, I know it's cruel. I am.
Anyway, it's not much of a spectator sport, so I'm going to go about my day and leave you to it. Don't worry, I'm not leaving the house, so I'll be able to hear you scream from time to time. You'll be quite secure here, though. And if you start to feel thirsty - and I think you will, if you keep sweating like that, or if you start crying - just remember that it's supposed to be a punishment and you deserve it.
Oh - you know, I just had a thought. Maybe instead of designing out the little whirring sound, Graham could design it in! So that - I don't know - about five times out of six or so, there's the sound but no stroke. Wouldn't that be fun? I'll have to have a word with him.
Enjoy the rest of the day.