“What is toward in this harem? We have heard of strange doings; they say that you, Abu-Anga, gallant warrior, have put your neck under the yoke of a slave woman. Is this white woman she? So it would seem that our generosity has proved your undoing. We thought by giving this woman to you it would add to your pleasures. What arts has this concubine used to gain the mastery of a man such as you? Can she be a witch? If this be so, she shall undergo the doom we have seen fit to pronounce against all casters of spells and makers of amulets; her right hand and left foot shall be cut off.”
He spoke slowly, sounding each word separately and distinctly, anxious that Grace should understand all he said. The simple eloquence and savage emphasis that had won him the hearts of his warriors vibrated in every sentence.
Grace, frantic with terror, fixed her wide frightened eyes on the Mahdi, her teeth chattering in panic.
Abu-Anga threw himself at the Mahdi’s feet, humbly kissing the sleeve of his djibbeh and crying: “I am the one to blame! She is no witch. Her power comes only from my feebleness in the face of her beauty!”
“If this be so, she must be taught the power her master wields. She must be humiliated! You shall have her, Abu-Anga, here and now, in my presence. But first her proud English spirit must be chastened. Let the Eunuch thrash her!”
Grace lay without saying a word, her eyes, wide with horror, fixed on the Mahdi’s face. She clasped her hands in sign of supplication, and, suddenly throwing herself at his feet, kissed the hem of his robe. But he snatched it from her with a haughty gesture and, pushing Grace from him with his foot, struck his hands together. The huge Fardji entered at his summons.
“Give this woman twenty lashes. Thrash her as they thrash women who are cold and barren.”
“Shall I take her away, eminence, and chastise her before the other women?”
“No. Do it here and at once!”
So saying, the Mahdi seated himself on the sheepskin, inviting Abu-Anga to sit beside him. The man trembled in every limb and great drops of sweat stood out on his forehead. He kept his head down so as to avoid Grace’s eyes.
The Eunuch laid hold of the girl who was now so stunned with terror she actually helped the giant to take off her clothes, never ceasing all the while to cast imploring glances at Abu-Anga.
It was not until she found herself stark naked that the shame of her nudity in front of the men struck her, and she made an abortive protective movement with her hands, which the giant Eunuch prevented her from completing. He tied her two wrists together and laid her across the anagareb, or bedstead, her face downwards. To each of her feet, he attached a thong, taking care to have her legs well spread asunder.
Then began the punishment. Fardji measured his distance and the flexible end of the kourbash, after completing a figure of eight over his head, fell whistling across Grace’s loins. She uttered a piercing scream; but already a second blow, answered by a howl of agony, was biting into her posteriors. Unceasing and unremitting the lash descended again and again on the delicate flesh, blow following blow in regular cadence until ten had been administered. The heavy kourbash scarified her buttocks, while the pliant tip continued to catch her thighs on the inside, just where the skin is most tender. Grace sobbed and screamed, in hoarse unremitting cries of pain, both in English and in Arabic.
“Enough..enough! Stop, I implore you, stop!..I shall go mad with the pain! Oh Abu-Anga, you say you love me – and you let them kill me! Help! Help! Save me from this torment, I beg you. I will love you as a woman should, I swear…”
But the only answer was the whistle of the kourbash through the air, and the dull thud with which it came down on Grace’s tormented flesh. With groans and incoherent phrases, interrupted by sobs and sighs, the girl breathed out her agony.
“Oh the pain -the pain! I will do anything, I swear! Anything you wish! Have mercy!”
There was no doubt that she suffered but, in the midst of the pain was a strange incipient sense of voluptuous pleasure. She groaned in genuine anguish yet felt a rising undercurrent of intense sexual desire. The blows kindled a strange ardour, and her gasps were as much a langorous craving as an expression of pain. She was suddenly wild for the embrace of a man. Suddenly she wanted to perform all kinds of acts no matter how servile and submissive.
The executioner, after a short rest, set himself to the task afresh. He turned Grace over so that she lay face upwards, her treasures on full display. First came a sharp stroke on either calf, and Grace shuddered, throwing herself back as far as the play of her bonds allowed. Next the lash, drawn from below upwards, wound round her navel rasping the tender flesh. This was followed by a storm of hoarse inarticulate cries, screams in which the words were no longer distinguishable. But the blows fell regularly and methodically, beating always on the same place, touching up her tender thighs, the tip striking her belly up as high as the navel.
Meantime the Mahdi examined Abu-Anga with a cold and critical gaze. The colossus, eyes half closed and nostrils quivering, stood as if fascinated. His whole body was a-tremble, and his clenched fists seemed to announce an instant and savage onslaught. The Mahdi made a sign to the Eunuch who untied the woman and left the hut. Then, with a hoarse whisper of “Take her now!” he pushed Abu-Anga towards the trembling, weeping Grace.
With a roar like a wild beast, the giant threw himself on top of the white woman, straining her in his arms as if he would stifle her, and kissing her frantically. Now she returned his kisses. Their savour seemed no longer sour; her nostrils quivered as they drank in the odour of the rampant male. The smell of him was a heady perfume, strong and delicious.
Abu-Anga enfolded her in his stalwart and passionate embrace, and the shock of his maleness against her tortured body, swollen under the lash, appeared to Grace a torture of ineffable delight. She gave herself to her lover in wild pangs of frenzied joy.
The popular spanking fiction trope of the frigid or unwilling woman who becomes sexually lively as the result of a good spanking, whipping, or beating was old in 1904, but it never loses its charm. What I find fascinating is the change in my own response to it.
When I was but a mere callow youth reading dirty books scavenged from unlikely places, this trope struck me as wildly implausible, on the same order as all those Penthouse Letters tales that begin “So I knocked on this lady’s door with her pizza, and when the door opened, she was wearing nothing but a smile….” Mind you, I always enjoyed the fantasy of a woman becoming hopelessly, helplessly sexually aroused by various kinky mistreatments, but I always assumed it was the worst sort of pish and tosh.
Sad to say, despite some early personal experiments and an increasing exposure (as the age of the internet dawned) to an increasing number of real world non-fiction accounts of kinky people and their kinky doings, it wasn’t until fairly recently (just a few years ago) that I fully internalized (and got over my disbelief) that there really are lots of women wired this way.
How often in life do we get to discover that the world is a warmer and better place than we ever imagined it might be?