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By Sarah Hapgood

“Looking for something?” said Julian, with an unmistakeable note of triumph in his voice.

Ransey stood up guiltily, blinking behind his spectacles. He had been turning out the drawers in Julian’s desk.

“I thought you were playing cards”, he said.

“No, Hoowie is playing cards”, said Julian “You should be careful rooting around in my drawers you know, you might get more than you bargained for!”

“I would never normally invade somebody else’s privacy around here”, said Ransey “We get little enough as it is, but …”

“You thought I might have looted some booze from the hold and stashed it away somewhere”, said Julian “Well I haven’t. if I had I wouldn’t still be serving that filthy old sherry to my guests. Would you like some?”

“How can I resist such a tempting offer!” said Ransey, sitting down on the window-seat.

“It’s reassuring to know you have such a high view of my moral character, Ransey”, Julian smirked, digging out a couple of glasses.

“It’s not that”, said Ransey “It’s just I know you’ve an innate ability to root out the good things in life”.

“Unfortunately your locking devices have foiled me this time”, said Julian, joining him on the window-seat with the poured sherry.

“Good”, said Ransey “As we don’t know how long we’re going to be here we can’t go rampantly guzzling all the best booze at once”.

“Get Hillyard to set up his still”, said Julian “He’s been threatening to do it for years”.

“I think he will”, said Ransey “What did you make of Bardin at dinner? He seemed very subdued to me”.

“He’ll be alright”, said Julian “With any luck Bengo’s giving him a sound thrashing as we speak”.

“He’ll be having more sound thrashings than Kieran at this rate!”

“Won’t do either of them any harm at all. Both get far too intense for their own good. They have to be watched closely at all times”.

“I’ll shock you by agreeing with you”, said Ransey “My worry is that he seemed depressed at dinner”.

“He’s had many years, more than I can remember, of leading us all around on the world on untold adventures”, said Julian “Now he’s had a few months breathing-space, but things could be starting up again. I think he’s panicking”.

“He’s not going to abdicate is he?” said Ransey, in horror.

“No I can’t imagine Bardin not being Captain”, said Julian “He is It, and there’s no getting away from it. He’s having a crisis of confidence that’s all”.

“That business at the entrance to Hell a few months back”, said Ransey “Shook all of us. But he was good”.

“Of course he was”, said Julian “I don’t just appoint any old Muggins to be Captain. He’ll be alright. We’ll all keep in order”.

“Oh Bardy”, said Bengo, nuzzling into Bardin’s hair “Come and sit on my lap so I can cuddle you properly”.

He sat in the chair by the unlit fire in their cabin, and Bardin came and perched on him. They kissed drowsily but passionately. Bengo ran his hand, caressingly, up Bardin’s leg, feeling under the pink nightgown Bardin had put on whilst Bengo was in the heads.

“You’ve got your tightest knickers on”, said Bengo, delightedly touching the hem of Bardin’s shorts.

He pulled up the nightdress, exposing Bardin’s undergarments.

“Adam wants to spank your bottom in these”, said Bengo “But he thought you’d want to wait for the weather to cool down before you put them on”.

“Mm”, said Bardin, kissing Bengo’s neck “I wanted to feel them rubbing my behind before the soreness wore off though”.

“It won’t”, said Bengo “Wear off I mean”.

He gently turned Bardin over, rucking the nightdress up so that it was pulled up above Bardin’s waist. He spanked him soundly, pausing now and again to caress the tight material.

“Now I shall put you to bed”, Bengo whispered.

They stood up. Bengo gently slid the straps of the nightdress down over Bardin’s shoulders, until it landed in a pink, frothy puddle around his ankles.

“I know I’m not as strict as Adam”, Bengo confided, candidly “But I do love you so much, and I want to take care of you”.

“Are you concerned about something, Bengo?” Bardin asked, softly.

“Only that Adam’s a much better disciplinarian than me”, said Bengo “I love what we’ve got going with the Club, but Adam’s so impressive”.

“You’ve just tanned my backside!” said Bardin “And I’ve not got anything to complain about, believe me!”

“Lie on the bed”, said Bengo “And I’ll pull your knickers down”.

Bardin woke up in the soft grey, milky light of dawn. He was lying on his side. Bengo was pressed up snugly against him. In the half-light Bardin could see the nightdress still sprawled on the floor. On a chair nearby his tight shorts had been laid out more carefully. He felt a rare surge of contentment waft over him, like a wave running over him on the shore. He couldn’t resist a wry smile at Bengo worrying somehow that he hadn’t measured up. The spanking had been very satisfactory, as had been what came after.

He flopped onto his back and put his arms behind his head. Bengo slowly woke up.

“Good morning”, he said.

“Good morning”, Bardin replied.

The idyll was shattered by the sound of a clanging metal bucket being dropped on the floor of the corridor outside.

“Oh God”, Bardin groaned “I told Farnol and Mutton to swab the main deck today”.

“But why are they doing it NOW?” said Bengo “It’s barely daylight!”

“Probably before the worst of the heat comes on”, said Bardin “And to get revenge on me for ordering it, no doubt. Me and my big mouth!”

“S’alright”, said Bengo “They can’t get in and disturb us here. I put the bolt on the door last night”.

“I’m glad you did”, said Bardin.

“Well we wouldn’t want them bursting in whilst I’ve got you over my knee”, said Bengo.

Bardin wrapped himself around him, only for the sound of another clanging bucket to be dropped, this one sounding like it was being chucked from the top of the quarterdeck steps.

“That’s it”, Bardin sighed “The day has started”.

Julian summoned Bardin to his cabin just before breakfast.

“Something wrong?” said Bardin, suspiciously.

“Now why should something be wrong?” said Julian, stubbing out a cigar at his desk.

“Because you don’t normally summon me before breakfast just to ask how I am!” said Bardin.

“Well perhaps I have this time”, said Julian “Don’t hover like that. Sit down. Here”.

He dragged over a padded stool, and solicitously offered it to him.

“Hoowie finds that one the easiest”, he said.

“I’m sure he does”, Bardin grunted.

Julian noted with satisfaction how Bardin sat down in a gingerly fashion.

“Splendid”, he said “Full marks to Bengo for keeping up the good work. Nice and sore?”

Bardin forbore to answer this outrageous question.

“I take it you’re in no position to get the skiff out yet”, said Julian “Only I was wondering when you were going to organise the expedition over the water. I take it it’ll be the usual six going along?”

“Me, Bengo, Ransey, Hillyard, Kieran and Joby”, said Bardin “Yes I expect so. Having a spanked behind won’t stop me organising that, as and when I see fit”.

“Take a cushion in the skiff with you”, Julian snorted with laughter.

Bardin glared at him.

“Only the thing is”, Julian continued “I’d like to suggest that Hoowie and I come along as well, if you don’t mind. Hoowie is very excited about it”.

“That’s the trouble!” said Bardin “Hoowie gets too damn excited! He can’t be trusted!”

“He can”, said Julian “He’ll behave himself, you have my word on that”.

“OK”, said Bardin, to Julian’s pleasant surprise “As long as you keep him in order”.

“When do I not?” said Julian.

“Is Umbert alright?” said Bardin “He seems a bit on edge after seeing that creature. Seemed to spend half of last night playing the piano drunkenly”.

“He was fine when I saw him outside the heads earlier”, said Julian “A bit hungover, but otherwise OK. Anyway, his piano-playing would have covered up the sound of you being walloped, so be grateful!”

Julian roared with laughter at his own little witticism.

“Do you want to spank me as well, Julian?” Bardin suddenly asked.

“What a mouth-watering proposal”, said Julian “You sexy little beast”.

“If it shuts you up making these jokes …” said Bardin.

The hand-bell was rung in the dining-room, to summon everyone for breakfast.

“Sadly even a good spanking shouldn’t hold up meals”, said Julian “But merely postponed, not cancelled”.

He helped Bardin to his feet.

“You must take care of yourself, Bardin”, he said, kissing Bardin’s nose “I’ll ask Hillyard to give you a massage this morning. It’ll help to release all the tensions that even having your bottom smacked can’t”.

“I wish you spanko’s would take it a bit more gradual like”, said Hillyard, heartily slopping Baby Oil all over Bardin, as though he was preparing a joint of meat for roasting “You do go at it”.

“We get carried away”, said Bardin, groaning with pleasure “That feels so good. You could earn your living at this, you’re so good”.

“I have done sometimes, in the really old days”, said Hillyard.

“Oh yes I remember now”, said Bardin “You worked at the public bath-house in Toondor Lanpin for a while”.

“And they often wanted more than massages”, said Hillyard.

“Farnol had to resort to that sometimes”, said Bardin “When times were lean at the Cabaret. I think it put him right off sex for good”.

“He always seems contented enough to me”.

“Yes he’s that rare thing, a genuinely jolly clown”.

Hillyard gently kneaded Bardin’s rosy-pink buttocks.

“Who’d have thought Bengo would have such a whack on him!” Hillyard laughed “Is he getting his own back for when you had to be so strict with him when you were kids?”

“I’m sure it helps to add a frisson to things”, said Bardin “God, I’m glad Julian suggested this. He’s been quite solicitous to me today”.

“He’s on a promise that’s why”, said Hillyard “Julian always has an attack of kindness when he’s getting what he wants. The horny old sod”.

Bengo came into the room, carrying two mugs of tea on a tray.

“Good lad”, said Hillyard, approvingly.

“Is that your chief job these days?” said Bardin “Tea-maker?”

“Be quiet, Bardin”, said Bengo, setting the tray down on a convenient chair “Feel free to smack him if you want, Hillyard. He can never have too much!”

“I’ll leave that to you”, said Hillyard.

Bengo stood, with his hands tucked into the bib of his pinny, watching as Bardin was well-oiled.

“He’ll have a bottom like a peach when we’ve finished with him”, said Bengo.

“I’ve already got a bottom like a peach!” said Bardin.

“Oi!” Joby yelled from the galley.

“I’d better get back”, Bengo sighed “I was only allowed to bring this in on condition I returned immediately”.

“By the time I’ve finished with you, Bardin”, said Hillyard, when Bengo had returned to the galley “We’ll be able to put you in the skiff”.

“I don’t mind using it anyway”, said Bardin “I said that to Julian earlier. A sore behind won’t get in my way. It never has. Are you keen to go on this little outing as well then?”

“Seeing that weird creature has piqued my curiosity, as the saying goes”, said Hillyard “And I think Umbert wants to come along too. It’ll be a tight fit in the skiff, but we can manage”.

“He does seem bothered by that thing”, said Bardin “But he’s always sensible, so he can come. With Hoowie in the gang, I’m going to need all the sensible ones I can get, to make up for it!”

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