I would beg the reader’s forgiveness for my self-indulgence in writing this little companion volume to my five part History of the Fall and Rebirth of Human Civilization in the Period from Collapse to Draconian Renaissance, published in 3816, if I were not as certain as I am that none but a few of my cousins will in fact ever read it. Since they will read this book either through their own familial self-indulgence or, perhaps (though I admit in this to some measure of self-congratulation), for love of me, I will, instead of begging their forgiveness, rather assure them that as strange as it might seem, the events chronicled herein did in fact take place, and that their ancestors (and mine) hold a crucial place in the firmament of the men and women most responsible for the survival of our species and its spread throughout the galaxy.
If that place was secured through means that some would censure today in the thirty-ninth century, just as much as the Bishop of Gasse censured my namesake Robert de Lourcy nearly three thousand years ago—if the idea that the human race was saved through the exercise of erotic mastery by men over women might even today seem outlandish—so be it. The first Robert de Lourcy made a practice of spanking naughty women who fell into his power, and had to do grave penance for it in the cathedral of Rouen. Here in the Galactic Age, inhabiting a planet where a man who fails to spank naughty women will receive encouragement to find a different home, we Lourcies cannot but look back with pride.
Castle Hendrik, Magisteria, 3818
We first hear the name Lourcy in the chronicles of Normandy, later part of the Earth nation of France but in those days (the eleventh century) an autonomous state under the rule of a ducal family. William of Normandy, who conquered England in the year 1066, was the most famous of those dukes, and Robert of Lourcy, Count of Gassein (later also Earl of Mercester), was one of his most trusted magnates.
Lourcy was a small town guarded by an important castle, and Robert inherited the title and the castle at the age of eighteen. We would almost certainly know nothing about him beyond his name if a woman named Sophia of Rouen had not (unusually) served as his secretary. Sophia left us a precious account of Robert’s career, which bears witness not only to his role in the Norman conquest, but also to the main theme of this little history of the family and its extraordinary place in the affairs of the great.
The reader will perhaps feel some justifiable surprise when I reveal to him or her here, early on in this book, that my plan for the work involves the drawing of certain connections between the life of a Lourcy in the thirty-ninth century and the life of a Lourcy at other periods throughout the ages. I dare to hope that this surprise will turn quickly to pleasure, for if the reader has indulged either him or herself, or the author, in devoting attentive eyes to so unusual a volume, it seems very likely that he or she will find such excursuses diverting.
To that end, I am happy to reveal that I disciplined and enjoyed a girl this morning who has always reminded me of Sophia of Rouen. Beria, my bestowed concubine—and my research assistant—for the past five years according to the laws of Magisteria, has golden hair just as Sophia did; moreover, she possesses an extraordinary intellect. Most importantly of all, however, she needs firm correction applied to her bare bottom as much, I fancy, as did Earl Robert’s lovely secretary.
“Beria,” I said after she had placed my coffee upon my work table, “did you find my citations for the Battle of Hastings?”
I could see in her pretty green eyes that she had forgotten, but she pretended a little defiance, and replied, “My lord, how could I find them in that mess you call a database? You will have to do it yourself.”
“Did you even try, Beria?” I asked, beginning to warm to the notion that my concubine must soon feel my punishment strap across her backside.
“I did not, my lord. I did not have time, yesterday. If you insist upon it, I will attempt the task today.” She stood before me, her little hands folded in front of her bare tummy. She wore a relatively modest light blue halter top and briefs, the costume I favor for her at most times. Like many a Lourcy before me, a vague feeling of schoolgirlishness never fails to please me. I could see in a slight movement of her upper lip that despite her attempt at brazening through it, she knew she had a whipping coming.
“Over the block, please, Beria,” I said sternly. “Briefs down and bottom up.”
Not dissimilar, really, did I find this scene in my own study this morning to the matters of which Sophia of Rouen wrote all those centuries ago.
[from The Count’s Discipline]
The next morning, Lady Agnes woke me roughly, and for a moment I was sure I was back in the convent, being woken for Lauds, so early did it feel to me, for I had only fallen into a fitful sleep in the small hours, and I was abed much later than I should be.
When I saw the unkind face hovering above me, I mumbled, “I am sorry, Lady Agnes; I will attend to the girls directly,” but she, with a look of hatred on her face that I shall never forget said, “The count requires your presence in his solar as soon as you rise.” With a final look of, I now realized, frustrated rivalry, she turned and left, closing my door so hard I thought it should fall from its hinges.
“Pray,” said the count, “do not blame my lady wife that you were not given your proper duties as soon as you arrived, Sophia. She is not concerned with my correspondence, nor does she have a need for the library, nor for the arrangement of the household’s observances—all which shall be your responsibilities once I have trained you to bear them. It was to be expected that she should try to give you tasks to do that she thought might suit you, and I hear that Ermengilde and Herleve took to you very sweetly.”
“Yes, My Lord,” I said. “They are sweet girls.” In this I lied, for Ermengilde was already spoiled and headstrong at ten, and just the day before had asked her mother if “that Sophia girl” were “really a daughter of Rouen,” a phrase she had learnt from Ladies Agnes and Fredegonde.
Lady Richildis had frowned, but she had merely said “Hush, child,” and shot a glance at me to see if I had heard. I gave no sign of it but went instead to the garderobe to weep, wondering how much more I could bear before I turned into the venomous serpent I felt coiling inside my breast and spat acid upon them all.
“Herleve is, yes. But I fear she will lose her sweetness if her sister wax ever greater this way,” the count replied. I felt my nostrils widen in surprise and my brow rise. “She will see that Ermengilde always gets her way, and I fear will take to the same course.” He saw that I was startled by his frankness. “Oh, I know my daughters, Sophia. I wish they had your upbringing rather than their own. Some check would perhaps have helped Ermengilde greatly.”
“Are they not…”
“Chastised? No, they are not.” He sighed.
The very idea seemed so strange to me, now, that a girl could grow up without feeling the strap on her bottom, that I smiled in wonderment and then blushed and dropped my gaze to the legs of the little clerk’s table behind which the count was sitting.
“What means that smile, my little Sophia?” he asked, amused.
“Merely that it seems a wonderful thing to me that any child should escape discipline. Even in the tavern the women—and the tavern keeper sometimes too, when he caught me—would correct me.”
I met his eyes again. They were full of kindness and the intent to help me be at peace with myself, it seemed to me. Suddenly I felt that something had changed in our conversation: we were speaking not of children generally, as I thought we had been, but of me.
And then I realized that the extremity of my anguish over the past weeks had come from feeling that I did not know to whom I was accountable. Or, to put the problem another and no less accurate way, my inner grief sprang from missing the sisters’ strap, which I had always dreamt would now be applied to my bottom by my count.
“My Lord,” I whispered, lowering my eyes to the floor again.
I considered for a long moment. I knew exactly what I wanted, but I did not know if I could obtain it, nor if it should be possible, what the right way was to go about it.
“My Lord,” I finally continued, trying to speak in a clear voice, “I should confess to you that the Reverend Mother was right about me.”
“Was she,” the count replied drily.
“I am subject to terrible temptations.”
“So are we all, Sophia.”
It was long before I truly understood what he meant by those words, but I ignored them, and having got up my courage, continued. “I should be chastised regularly.”
He rose from his seat, and startled, I looked at him, half expecting that he would be holding a strap in his right hand. He was not.
“You, My Lord, are renowned…”
“Oh by God’s holy love and his eternal wisdom, how can I mend if even my charity is turned back upon me?” the count cried, to my astonishment.
“Sophia, it was a moment of weakness that caused me to ask the Reverend Mother to uncover your bottom. I have paid for that weakness in every hour since. I wanted to see her abased for her vaunting over you. I wanted to see her acknowledge in the shade of her blush that she is subject to the same temptations to which I am subject. And I had my satisfaction, oh, yes. But the cost was too high.”
“I do not understand, My Lord. I beg your forgiveness.”
“Of course you do not understand, little Sophia who are no longer so little.” He chuckled, ruefully. “Sophia, I have not chastised a young woman since that day at Beaumont.” [At Beaumont-sur-Louen, Robert spanked all the women of a captured town.]
“Truly, My Lord?”
“Truly, my dear.”
“But, My Lord, I am living proof that young women need chastisement, am I not? And you are inclined to bestow it…”
“I shall go mad,” he interrupted quietly.
“My Lord, I beg of you. Please show me that I have come into your service in very fact. I have dishonored you with my ingratitude and my resentment of your bringing me to Lourcy.”
“That is not at all what I have heard of your conduct, Sophia.”
“I have not shown it. I know I have not. But I shall. Such things I wish to say to Lady Agnes and to Lady Ermengilde, and even to your lady wife. Such things as should make the devil carry me away to his burning lake. Save me, My Lord! I beg of you: chastise me with your loving hand, and I know I shall be better able to keep my serpent’s whore tongue inside my mouth.” I began to weep.
“Sophia of Rouen! Never call yourself a whore!” He strode around his table and towards me, and suddenly he was holding me firmly by the shoulders.
But I could not look at him, and I struggled as I wept.
“Sophia, listen to me.” His voice was a low growl now, like the snarl of a faithful dog who knows he must protect his flock in face of wolves. This wolf was the idea of my non-existence, but it was nonetheless a wolf; it wanted to devour me, and Robert stood squarely in its path.
I still struggled. I felt that I was ten again, and now at last I was going to escape back into the streets of Rouen, to flee from this terrible world into which the count had, with his awful mercy, seduced me. I would be nothing again, and I wished to be nothing.
But suddenly the count’s left arm was around my waist, and he was bending down for some reason, and his right hand was lifting my gown and my chemise together, whose hems he was gathering into his left hand at my waist.
And then Robert the Monster, Count of Gassein, spanked me with his open hand for the very first time. I knew from the moment I heard the sharp sound and felt the sting that I had been reclaimed, but now my mind echoed his own words: at what cost?
He held me firmly and spanked me hard and quickly. My sobs became little bird-like noises of mixed acceptance and pain and contentment.
Not ceasing to strike me, the count said, “Sophia, answer me. Are you listening?”
“Yes, My Lord,” I said, immediately.
He stopped spanking me and began to rub my bottom. It was a torment because it was far and away the most wonderful thing I had ever felt in my life. I tried desperately to keep my mind in the world just around me; I knew if I let myself imagine the count moving his hand somewhere else or removing my gown entirely, I would forget myself, and all would, I was certain, be ruined forever.
That went on for what seemed a very long time, but finally he said, “I think you had better come and get over my lap so that I can do this properly.”
“With your hand, My Lord? Not the strap?”
“Not the strap today, Sophia. But if I find you need the strap, I shall not hesitate, nor with the rod.”
At that I gave a little whimper. I had never felt the rod, and instantly my mind was divided as to whether I longed for it beyond all things, or dreaded it like the touch of hot coals.
He gently released my upper body and allowed my skirts to cover my hind part, which was already blazing and somehow at the same time making me feel the curious floating sensation that I had only very occasionally felt at the convent, when in despair at having to undergo yet another chastisement I had willed myself thither, where I in all truth now stood: My lord of Gassein’s solar. Somehow when I imagined that it was my protector and benefactor who chastised me, I seemed to hover above myself, like my own guardian angel, and the pain of the strap became also the holy fire, yea, the pleasant holy fire, of mercy and redemption.
Then he put his hands around my face and looked deeply into my eyes. I had never been kissed upon the mouth, and so I had no idea what it was I now know he was struggling mightily not to do, and for which unknowing I myself yearned.
He won that struggle and merely said, “Little Sophia, I do not know if you are making me forget heaven or helping me find it again. My only hope, for I have none on my own behalf, is that if I am bound unto the lake of fire, I shall at the same time save you from it.”
“My Lord,” was all I could say through my tears.
He let go my face and pulled a curule chair from next to his table into the center of the floor of his solar. I watched him as if I were someone else, watching myself watch him—the girl of the town, taken at last into the hands of the great count. At last, I was going to belong to him.
He sat and looked up at me, a sad smile on his face. I could see that he had resigned himself to something; thank the angels and saints that from that point on, he never turned away from the path he chose for himself and for me that day.
He patted his thigh and said, “Come now, naughty girl. I have not got all day, have I?”
“No, My Lord,” I said, smiling back at him. I walked to his left side and clumsily lay myself down over his lap. I had never been chastised thus before.
“Not like that, girl. Your bottom must be raised.” He reached his right hand down and pulled my skirts up once again, as I tried to do as he wished. He finally had to wrap his left arm around my hips and show me just where he wanted my backside. I felt my face grow hot with embarrassment.
“Don’t fret, now, Sophia. You and I shall have plenty of practice, I foresee. I have taken my hand to the plow, you know. And to your bottom.” At that he gave me a hard spank across both the parts of my bottom, much harder than any he had delivered when we were standing up. I made a little cry like a puppy.
“Oh, dear,” said the count. “I’m afraid this is going to be rather difficult for you, Sophia, isn’t it? I was sure you would be proof against such gentle correction.”
“It’s not the pain, My Lord,” I choked out through my tears. “It’s being over your lap. It’s different from the convent.”
“Of course it is,” he said, commencing the slow, steady spanking with which I would soon become so familiar. “They were sisters, but I am your master.”
“Yes, My Lord!” I cried.
“You will learn that I pay attention not only to your cries, but also to the color of your hind part. Your skin is fair, Sophia, so I shall have to get this bottom very red indeed before it is time to stop. I can see why they liked to use you as an example; in fact, I imagine no other pupil rivalled you for the lovely shade the strap brought out.”
“Oh, My Lord,” I said, almost in reproach for what seemed to be unfeeling cruelty.
“Do not attempt to use your ‘Oh, My Lord’ upon me, young lady. You will understand that a proper sense of humility is essential to the working of my discipline. It is my office to make you feel shame for your faults and misdeeds, and my most important means of carrying out that duty is to bend your mind to contemplate the embarrassment you should always feel when your master uncovers your backside.”
Then I understood: his cruelty was not unfeeling, nor was it truly cruelty. He knew that to give me the benefit of his discipline, I must feel myself degraded and laid low. I nevertheless felt a terrible confusion even in this understanding, for this sort of being laid low was to me the very opposite of the feeling that as Melisende’s girl [Sophia’s name before the count saved her] I had of being no one; to be laid low by the count was to be raised up by him, as well. His secretary, laid low, had a life in the world, and a life of value that she must learn to honor. Even more confusing, though, was the way I felt when he degraded me, for the fire in Venus’ garden had never burnt so hot as when he made me think of my striped bottom on display for the convent.
The spanking continued; the pain grew, a spreading fire. There was no sound in the solar but the sharp, expert slaps of his hand and my little cries and sobs. I loved my punishment; I could not help it, though my entire hind part stung me terribly and there was a fire in my loins that I knew could not be assuaged.
“There, Sophia,” said the count, rubbing my bottom again. “What have you learned?”
“I have learned that I am your Sophia.”
“But you knew that already, sweet Sophia. Shall I help you?”
“Yes, My Lord, if you please.” I could not understand why it felt so entirely good and right to be over his lap, with my backside uncovered and in pain, answering his patient questions and learning from him.
“I hope you have learned that to be my Sophia is to answer to me for your deeds, done well or ill; your responsibility is to me as mine is to you, to honor you and to correct you. As my servant, you are bound to me, but I am also bound to you. In sum: our duties are to one another, and one of the things I owe you is chastisement when I judge that chastisement will be of benefit to you. Do you understand?”
“Yes, My Lord.”
“You may stand up, now.” He helped me up, and then took my hands in his as I stood before him. “Look at me,” he said.
I obeyed, and now for the very first time I think, I truly studied his countenance. His face bore only the earliest marks of those lines of care that I would one day trace so sadly with my fingertip, but it was grave, though he smiled, and serious, though kind. The piercing blue eyes were closer to me than they had ever been before, and they seemed to look into my soul. My own face, I was sure, was not a worthy sight for his eyes—my cheeks streaked with tears and my eyes red with weeping.
“I know only too well the confusion of feelings in your mind and in your heart right now, Sophia. I know the demon Cupid, as I was pleased to call him in Brionne, as a constant companion.”
I blushed and dropped my gaze again, but he said, “No, Sophia. You must look at me.” With the utmost difficulty, I returned my eyes to meet his. “I know that he is not a demon, though he is also by no means a god.”
My mind’s vision was full of Sir Odo and Lady Agnes [whom Sophia had seen having anal sex]. My face was hot as I felt the wetness begin again at the thought of Count Robert’s manly part pressed against the little postern gate of my garden of Venus.
“The things we feel as we chastise and are chastised, and the things we think about can shame us, and they should shame us, for they tell us how imperfect we are. Only by striving shall we reach heavenly perfection someday.”
“Yes, My Lord.”
“Very well. You may go. Pray attend me here after noon is sounded. We shall begin our work together.”
As the reader will have gathered from the above excerpt of Sophia’s history of Count—later Earl—Robert, the dominant blood of the Lourcies has run strong from the beginning, alongside, though of course I flatter myself, a very marked tendency in many of us to meditate fruitfully upon what our dominance might mean. If I should dare to speculate as to what quality in our family has made us fit to play so great a supporting role in so many important events of human history, I would certainly name this double movement of our loins and our minds: we have the capacity at one and the same time to master a situation—as we master girls like Sophia and my own Beria, who stand in such need of firm discipline—and to reflect on every ramification that situation might possess. If our cogitations make at times for tedium in those around us, nevertheless they have always allowed us a remarkable advantage in the changes and chances of this life.