A 1936 extract from the library of Murray Roberts . It’s rather a nice scene with a good twist and some added references in the following pages. The introduction and concluding remarks are by Murray himself.
Financial stringency has forced Lord Hampstead to rent his castle, and he himself, his wife, and 23 year old daughter Susan, are impersonating castle servants.
At this point, guest Harry Wortle, furious that his daughter Bud had stayed out late, is lurking in the darkness hoping to catch her as she returns. In the process, he has overturned some heavy furniture, making a noise which Susan gets out of bed to investigate.
Susan ran swiftly along the corridor in her pyjamas. Everything seemed in darkness and, cool as usual, she realised the inadvisabliity of turning on the light where she was and presenting herself as a target. “For it might be burglars.“
Pleasingly excited and not in the least afraid, she trod silently down the stairs, her bare feet making no noise on the thick carpet. At the bottom she stopped, listening intently. Suddenly, without the slightest warning, she was grabbed from the darkness. “Got you!” It was the voice of Mr. Wortle. “I thought you were somewhere in the darkness, my girl. Now I’m going to teach you a lesson you won’t forget in a hurry.”
Before she could utter a protest, Susan felt herself whirled over and placed face-downwards across a large knee, whilst she received a stinging smack on that part of the anatomy customarily the recipient of such attentions. She gasped, and her protest was interrupted by another spank of no uncertain quality. Susan yelped, and as the chastisement continued, wriggled and struggled unavailingly in a firm grasp.
Henry Wortle was too excited to recognize voices, and not in the least disposed to heed protests. He was also too busy to switch on the light, and it did not seem to matter to him. In gunners’ parlance he was registering accurately, and the question of a mistake in identity never even occurred to him.
He had endeavoured to get hold of a girl in order to administer punishment, and he had got hold of her and she was receiving it, and that, so to speak, was that. In his anger he did not remember that Bud was wearing a dressing-gown, or notice that his victim was not.
The unfortunate Susan was helpless and quite unable to prevent the soundest walloping which had ever been administered in the county. Her howls were ignored.
If what was falling to her lot had been deserved and duly authorized, she was Spartan enough not to have howled at all, but as it was she desired to bring his error to Mr Wortle’s attention at the earliest possible moment. Unfortunately in that direction there did not seem any method of establishing contact, although in another, contact was only too frequent and painful and free.
Susan regretted those thin, summery pyjamas very deeply. What was required in such circumstances was a thick winter coat, or better still one of the suits of armour that adorned the hall. Though, of course the knights were not supposed to run from their enemies, it was possible that that part of Susan that needed special protection would not receive it by such a means. At any rate it was not receiving it.
“There!” Mr Wortle, breathless and slightly less wrathful, desisted at long last. “I hope that will be a lesson to you. I suppose you thought you were too grown-up for this sort of thing , but let me tell you if I ever find you like that again…..”
Susan, smarting, flushed and indignant, squirmed on to her feet. There were several things she was busting to tell Mr. Wortle, but it was first necessary to get a little light on the subject. One hand clasped to the place of punishment she groped for the switch with the other.
[Some time later, Susan is trying unsuccessfully to sleep, when she hears a knock at the front door. The unexpected arrival of Mr Wortle’s son Jack leads to some interesting chit-chat….]
“By Jove, I never thought of that,” he exclaimed at last. What a clever girl you are, and what a frightfully careless bloke I am. The pater is not so much to blame as I thought. I forgive him . . . By the way, what is his form these days? You get on with him all right?”
Susan gave a reminiscent wiggle and became equivocal.
“Well he rather hurt me last night.”
“That’s a shame.” said Jack, sympathetically. The pater can be a bit heavy-handed.
“Yes” replied Susan with deep feeling, “he is.”
“You ought to be very thick skinned when you’re dealing with him.”
“I wish I had been,” said Susan plaintively, thinking that her summery pyjamas might as well not been there at all, for all the protection they afforded. . .
“Anyway it kept me rather wakeful, so that I heard your bell.”
Jack became more sympathetic than ever. “Poor child! So the affair was weighing on your mind was it?”
“Well, not exactly my mind.” answered Susan ruefully.
“If it had been any sort of tangible hurt now” observed Jack innocently. . . “My old nurse always used to say, ‘Kiss it and make it well’.”
He watched with great admiration the wave of lovely colour that suffused her features. “I don’t think you could be of any useful service to me in this case.” she observed, hastily.
“Well, now, that’s too bad. It’s stopped me doing my doing my good deed for the day.”
Susan came to the conclusion that this conversation, pleasant thought it was, had probably gone on long enough.
Being the 1930s, happy endings are dished out all round. The young folk are paired off happily and the Hampstead family treasure – the ‘Loot’ of the title – is rediscovered.
It will doubtless be some time. though, before Susan and her future father in law share a laugh over the spanking.