Victorian Family Discipline

High standards in a Victorian household

By Lisamum

Mrs Verall was crossing the landing of her house when she heard laughing coming from her daughters’ bedroom. Curiosity got the better of her, and she opened the door. Her two children, Daisy and George, twins aged eighteen, were kneeling on the floor looking at a magazine. Upon their mother’s entry, Daisy quickly scooped it up and hid it behind her back.

“What are you looking at that is so amusing?” Asked their mother.

“Nothing Mother, just a silly magazine.” Replied Daisy.

“From where did you obtain this magazine?” Asked mother.

Daisy and George looked at one another.

“We found it, Mother,” said George, with guilt written all over his face.

“Where?” Asked a suspicious mother. “You know that you may only have such things with my or your father’s approval.”

“Yes Mother,” replied George.

“So where did you find it?” Insisted their mother.

Again, the twins looked at one another.

“I’m waiting,” said their mother.

“In the kitchen,” said Daisy eventually.

“Give it to me,” said mother walking over to Daisy.

Reluctantly Daisy produced it from behind her back. Mrs Verall took the magazine and looked at it.

“Good heavens, I can’t believe that children of mine would even consider looking at something as cheap and nasty as this. You two are a disgrace. I shall report this to your father when he gets home. I can guarantee that a sound whipping will be the result.”

“Oh no, Mother, please don’t do that,” pleaded Daisy.

“You know the penalty for disobedience. You will remain in this room until your father gets home.”

Mrs Verall then stalked out of the room. She straight away made her way to the kitchen where young Martha, the maid, was preparing dinner.

“Does this belong to you?” Demanded Mrs Verall, thrusting the magazine under Martha’s nose.

Martha’s face immediately went red.

“Yes, I can see it does,” said Mrs Verall angrily. “How dare you bring something like this into this house?”

“I’m sorry, Madam, I didn’t mean anybody to find it.”

“You stupid girl, I have just found Daisy and George looking at it. I’m appalled that children of mine should see this. It will give them all sorts of ideas. I shall be reporting this to my husband when he gets home.”

“Oh please, Madam, I shall lose my job,” cried Martha, almost in tears.

“You should have thought of that, now get on with your work.”

Mrs Verall swept out of the kitchen, her long dress rustling as it trailed across the floor.

Finally, as she was sitting in the lounge, Mrs Verall’s husband, Augustus, arrived home.

“Ah, there you are, my dear,” he said as he entered the lounge.

“Good evening, Augustus, has your day passed satisfactorily?” Said Mrs Verall.

“Adequately so, dearest wife, and yours?” Replied Augustus walking over and standing with his back to the fire.

“Sadly, I have something to report which I fear will not be to your liking.”

“And what, pray, may that be?”

“I found Daisy and George reading a very unsuitable publication, which I have here,” said Mrs Verall, producing the magazine.

“You found our children reading this trash?”

“Yes dear, I did.”

“And where might this have come from?”

“From Martha.”

“She will be instantly dismissed,” said Mr Verall.

“It wasn’t entirely her fault. The children went down to the kitchen and found it,” said Mrs Verall.

“And what, may I ask, were they doing down there?”

“I didn’t think to ask, I was so shocked to find what they were doing,” said Mrs Verall.

Mr Verall tutted. “No matter, I shall discipline the three of them after our meal.”

“Yes dear,” replied Mrs Verall, fearful of the consequences.

A few minutes later Martha entered to announce that the meal was ready. During the meal, nothing was said. At the end of the meal, Mr Verall spoke to Martha.

“Hold yourself in readiness, I wish to speak to you later.”

“Yes sir,” replied Martha, with a tremble in her voice.

“You two children go to the lounge.”

The twins got up from the table and went out.

“They will now be disciplined. Fetch the cane,” said Augustus to his wife.

Mrs Verall disappeared and quickly returned carrying a straight, whippy cane, and handed it to her husband.

“Come with me.”

Mrs Verall meekly followed her husband, fearful of what was to follow.

Mr Verall entered the lounge to find the twins standing side by side, hands behind their backs. Mr Verall walked over to stand in front of them. “What have you to say for yourselves?

“We’re very sorry, Father,” said George.

“I am too,” said Daisy.

“You both know perfectly well that you have disobeyed my orders about reading unsatisfactory publications. You will now be soundly thrashed to teach you a lesson. Prepare the girl, please Mother.” Said Mr Verall, flexing the cane.

Mrs Verall hastily stepped forward and led Daisy to the chaise-longue at one end of the lounge. She then took Daisy by the shoulders and bent her over the backrest at one end. When she was over, Mrs Verall pulled up her dress and petticoats, leaving her long pantaloons exposed to await the cane.

She then took a handkerchief from her dress pocket and offered it to Daisy. 

“You will be expected to take your punishment without fuss. You may bite on this handkerchief if you feel it will help.”

“No, thank you, mother.” Daisy said coldly.

Mrs Verall then stepped back several paces to allow her husband to move in. He got into position and laid the cane across Daisy’s pert bottom, looking up invitingly. Mr Verall then whipped the cane down eight times in quick succession, which brought muffled cries from Daisy. Mr Verall stepped back and turned to his wife.

“You may take her to bed now.”

Mrs Verall pulled Daisy’s dress and petticoats back down. She then helped a pitifully weeping Daisy to her feet, and led her away.

“Over,” said Mr Verall, pointing with his cane to the place that Daisy had just vacated.

Slowly, George made his way to the chaise-longue and laid over the end. No handkerchief was offered for him to muffle his cries of agony. Being a boy, he was expected to take his punishment like a man. Mr Verall moved into position.

Thhwwaacckk!!

George took it without a murmur, but his face was twisted from the pain. He took the next three stoically but the fourth stroke brought a cry of pain. The cries became louder after each of the next four strokes. 

“Now stand up,” ordered Mr Verall.

George stood up and rubbed his bottom, tears streaming down his face.

“I am extremely displeased with your behaviour, and that of your sister. Next time you’ll feel the cane across your bare backside. Now get yourself to bed.”

George hobbled to the door and cried all the way up the stairs. Mr Verall placed the cane on the mantelshelf, sat down and began to read the paper. Eventually Mrs Verall returned and Mr Verall looked up from his paper.

“Would you be good enough to bring Martha in to me,” he said.

“Yes, dear. You won’t be too hard on her; she isn’t much older than our children?”

“She knows the rules of the house and she will receive the same discipline as the children.”

Mrs Verall went off and returned with a terrified looking Martha.

“Come and stand in front of me,” ordered Mr Verall.

Mrs Verall ushered Martha forward, her lip now trembling.

“My wife has told me of your disobedience. I am extremely disappointed in you.”

“I’m sorry, sir, it won’t happen again. Please don’t make me lose my job,” pleaded Martha.

“Be quiet until I have finished. I was about to say that I shall give you a choice, either leave my employ or take a thrashing like my children.”

Martha started to cry. She had seen and heard the results of the children being thrashed.

“Well child, what is it to be?”

“I’ll have the thrashing sir,” she whimpered.

“Very well, you know what to do,” said Mr Verall to his wife.

Mrs Verall stepped forward, took Martha by the shoulders and guided her over the end of the chaise-longue. Once over, she pulled up her skirt and petticoat to leave her in white flannel drawers, which ended just above the knee. Like Daisy, Mrs Verall offered Martha a handkerchief, but that was again declined.

Mr Verall calmly took the cane from the mantelshelf, gave it a vicious swipe and walked over to the hapless victim. Without a word, he lined up the cane and delivered the first stroke. Martha let out a muffled cry, wriggled from side to side and hammered on the seat with her fists. Stroke followed stroke for a total of eight. By the end, poor Martha was near to a state of collapse. Mrs Verall went round, put her hand on Martha’s shoulder and gently helped her up. Martha immediately started to cry loudly. Mr Verall returned the cane to the mantelpiece and stood looking at the whimpering figure. 

“Take her away when she’s ready,” said Mr Verall coldly.

“Come along dear,” said Mrs Verall, helping Martha to stagger unsteadily to the door.

Mr Verall stood erect, one hand behind his back, the other holding the lapel of his jacket in typical Victorian pose, watching impassively. Mrs Verall returned after helping Martha to her room.

“Shall I return the cane to its place?” She asked nervously.

“No, my dear, I still have you to discipline.

“Please, Augustus, don’t beat me. I try to do my duty as a mother.”

“On this occasion you have failed to keep our children under control and, as such, as the head of this household, I hold you responsible. As always on these occasions, you must be caned. Prepare yourself,” said Mr Verall, looking down on his trembling wife.

Dutifully Mrs Verall laid herself over the end of the chaise-longue and placed her handkerchief in her mouth. Mr Verall picked up the cane and walked over to his wife. Before commencing the beating, he pulled up her dress and petticoats. He then commenced the first of six stinging strokes to his wife’s backside. Like Martha and Daisy before her, she was crying bitterly by the end. After she had got up, she walked up and down rubbing her bottom until she stopped crying and felt able to sit down. Mr Verall, cold as ice, just sat down and resumed reading his paper. Mrs Verall went and retrieved the cane from the mantelshelf and returned it to its place. Then she went up to say goodnight to the children. As she went to her bed, Daisy saw her mother’s red eyes.

“Did Father beat you?” She asked.

Mrs Verall nodded.

“I’m sorry mother, it was all our fault,” said Daisy, sadly.

“Never mind,” said Mrs Verall, giving her daughter a kiss.

The End

© Lisamum 2015


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