Posted at 18:46 on 8 Jun 2008 by Pandora / Blake
I had a delightful dream last night, full of pirates and conspiracy and being on the run out of Manhattan in a huge inflatable dinghy with spies and freedom fighters. At one point, one of the pirates broke an article of the pirate code and was duly punished by the pirate captain: eight hard strokes, applied on the bare with the flat of the captain's sword. The welts that blossomed under the tempered steel were very distinctive; raised white and purple weals fading to red at the edges.
Now, despite both my doms being experienced fencers, I've never been beaten with the flat of a sword. Neither of them has fenced for years, and these days their hectic work schedules mean we don't get the chance to play as often as we'd like - and when we do, we tend to stick to what we know works. So I have no way of knowing whether or not the dramatic welts my subconscious produced were realistic or not.
I've googled, but to no avail: the internet doesn't seem to have any photos of people being spanked with swords; the closest I could find was a reference to the Bride's fight with Crazy 88 in Kill Bill, where she sends the last man standing on his way with a humiliating smack to the arse with her sword - but over clothes, disappointingly. I also found a couple of fantasy porn stories which mentioned sword spankings, but in my opinion nothing can rival the formative scene in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which affected me deeply when I first read it aged 7, and which has stayed with me ever since.
It's early on in the book, before Eustace's transformative experience on Dragon Island, when he's going out of his way to make himself objectionable to everyone on board. He particularly dislikes Reepicheep, the chivalrous talking Mouse, and one day Eustace sneaks up behind Reepicheep on the deck and swings him round by the tail. Reep stabs him in the hand, and then faces Eustance, brandishing his rapier and challenging him to a duel:
"Why do you not draw your own sword, poltroon!" cheeped the Mouse. "Draw and fight or I'll beat you black and blue with the flat."
"I haven't got one," said Eustace. "I'm a pacifist. I don't believe in fighting."
"Do I understand," said Reepicheep, withdrawing his sword for a moment and speaking very sternly, "that you do not intend to give me satisfaction?"
"I don't know what you mean," said Eustace, nursing his hand. "If you don't know how to take a joke I shan't bother my head about you."
"Then take that," said Reepicheep, "and that - to teach you manners - and the respect due to a knight - and a Mouse - and a Mouse's tail -" and at each word he gave Eustace a blow with the side of his rapier, which was thin, fine dwarf-tempered steel and as supple and effective as a birch rod. Eustace (of course) was at a school where they didn't have corporal punishment, so the sensation was quite new to him. That was why, in spite of having no sea-legs, it took him less than a minute to get off that forecastle and cover the whole length of the deck and burst in at the cabin door - still hotly pursued by Reepicheep. Indeed it seemed to Eustace that the rapier as well as the pursuit was hot. It might have been red-hot by the feel.
There was not much difficulty in settling the matter once Eustace realised that everyone took the idea of a duel quite seriously and heard Caspian offering to lend him a sword, and Drinian and Edmund discussing whether he ought to be handicapped in some way to make up for his being so much bigger than Reepicheep. He apologized sulkily and went off with Lucy to have his hand bathed and bandaged and then went to his bunk. He was very careful to lie on his side.
- C. S. Lewis, "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader"
Eustace doesn't earn himself a beating again, although before he reforms he comes close one more time, when Reepicheep catches him trying to steal water from the ship's rations. The incident is reported in Eustace's diary:
"I had to apologize or the dangerous little brute would have been at me with his sword. And then Caspian showed up in his true colours as a brutal tyrant and said out loud for everyone to hear that anyone found "stealing" water in future would "get two dozen". I didn't know what this meant till Edmund explained it to me. It comes in the sort of books those Pevensie kids read."
Which I always thought was a nice little meta-textual reference: of course any child reading the Narnia books would know what it means, too.
However, even wonderful excerpts like this don't help with the question of what the marks look like. I imagine it depends on the sword - rapier welts would look very different from those left by a flatter blade. I'll try and persuade one of my boyfriends to introduce me to the sensation (and hopefully take some photos for you while I'm at it. I might even dress up in a wench outfit), but if any of you can find pictorial evidence to assuage my curiousity in the meantime, I'll be a very happy girl. And it'd hopefully give me some idea what to expect ...