(See here for an explanation of this series and here for an index to it.)
"What will happen next," said Master Frederic, raising Maria's chin upon the fingers of his left hand as he spoke, "is that you will be beaten."
There was silence in the cavernous room, of which Maria and Master Frederic were the only occupants.
"You will be taken from this room into a theatre, of sorts, where you will kneel upon a block. Should you try to run away, or should you move too violently under the lash, you will be held down by our strong servants. You will be beaten, Maria, because in this house we consider the beating of girls to be indispensable to their becoming better at pleasing us, and because we like to watch girls being beaten. I am not saying that you will not be punished, from time to time, but it is important that you know that this first time you are not being punished, but simply beaten, to remind you of what you are, and where you are."
Maria felt Master Frederic's fingers upon her chin as a restraint beyond any of the leather straps with which he and his associates had bound her hitherto, since they had brought her to their atelier. She had known--of course she had known--that they would beat her soon. But as they had bound her to benches, and pillars, and tables, and had her in every way a master can have a girl, they had never yet beaten her.
Truly, had there been any need? For when they wished to enjoy her, they simply positioned her as they liked, and did so.
Then, this evening at sunset, they had taken the leather away, and given her the thin white shirt, and brought her to this cold, echoing hall. Maria had stood there, waiting, for a time she could not measure, until at last, in the gloom, she had heard the echoing footfalls of Master Frederic's shoes.