Miles also learns that the village employs a strict regime of corporal punishment with sentences handed out by a 'court' held in the village hall. Those found guilty of wrongdoing are subject to the cane and birch and some are further placed in a pillory the following morning with their bottoms bared and on the receiving end of a strap or additional spanks from any of the public so inclined.
After several failed attempts to get away from the village, Miles agrees to take the job of village secretary, responsible for recording the events at court and for the ordering of goods. Despite being a writer of spanking fiction, he is appalled at the severity of some of the punishments, especially those given to some of the younger villagers, which he considers to be both unnecessary as well as cruel. Later, Miles discovers a young girl, Sophie, who has been sleeping in one of his bedrooms. It seems that the house Miles occupies was her former home until her mother died and she was placed in the care of an extremely unpleasant woman, Madge Pendle, who runs the dairy and mistreats her.
As Miles becomes increasingly unhappy with the cruel village customs, he intercedes to prevent two young girls from being punished and incurs the wrath of the policeman. Things take a further turn for the worse when he is confronted by Sophie's enraged foster-mother. The following day, he is visited by the constable and two beadles, who demand that he and Sophie come with them to court where they are likely to face the birch. It's time for drastic action...