Edith's New Governess

By HandPrince

Chapter 5. Lily Goes Barefoot

   “In a BARREL??”

    Helen’s outburst from the adjoining room startled Flora awake from her afternoon nap.    Lily’s voice followed, sotto voce; Flora couldn’t make out her words until Lily suddenly cried out, “No Mummy no no please no!” thrice followed by the crisp report of a firm motherly palm against bare daughterly flesh, with Lily yelping in mounting distress with each smack.

    Flora rose and walked to the neighbouring doorway.  Its door stood ajar, therein she spied Helen seated on the side of their shared bed, with moist-eyed Lily standing facing her, squirming with discomfort as she rubbed the seat of her spanking-new maid's uniform.

    “I’ll ask you again, Miss Lillian Reid. Where did you get them?  The truth this time!  And don’t y' dare repeat yer twaddle 'bout finding ‘em in a barrel or mummy’ll give you far worse!”

    Flora then noticed that Lily had boots on - finely made and almost new - the very ones Edith had worn the day previous, whose distinctive scorch mark on the left toe Flora had noted while her young charged kicked and struggled during her chastisement at the window seat.  She knocked on the door frame to get Helen’s attention.  “Bunk off!” snapped Helen at Flora with a frown, “bunk off and mind your own business.”

    Flora took a deep breath, pulled herself to her fullest height, and replied with utmost gravity, “I am sorry Miss Reid, but there resides under this roof only one person from whom those boots could have come.  And any matters bearing upon that person fall under my duties as her governess and thereby render such matters my business.”

    Helen scowled, and with a withering glance at Flora, “Well if you’re all about inviting yourself into me family affairs against me wishes, get ye inside then and close that door be’ind ye afore someone spies ye and thinks we’s chums.”

    As Flora entered and shut the door, Helen returned her attention to her anxious, teary-eyed daughter.  “Well then!  Mummy asked ye a question. Out with it!”

    “Please oh please don’t whip me mummy,” sobbed the little girl, “but I did get them from a barrel, I swear to it!”  Hurriedly, before her mother could make do on her earlier threat, Lily continued, “It’s a special barrel for things upstairs folk don’t want no more.  Calls it the ‘missionary barrel’ they does.  I can show ye if ye still don’t believe me.”  Flora, for her part, did believe her.  The great house within which Flora had grown up had a “charity box” of like purpose.

    Flora stooped low, bringing herself eye to eye with the child. “Who told you of that barrel and of its name, Lily?”

    The colour drained from Lily’s face.  She tried to swallow, but couldn’t.  Looking downward, she muttered something inaudible.  “Speak up, my girl!” commanded Helen, “who called it a ‘missionary barrel?’”

    “I-I can’t remember,” stammered Lily, her voice flat and expressionless, avoiding both women’s gazes.  The governess and the maid exchanged glances.  Flora scarcely needed to draw upon her years as a disciplinarian of little girls to recognise that Lily spoke falsely; nor needed Helen to draw upon her own years of disciplining Lily herself to reach that selfsame conclusion.

    Helen stood and regarded Lily sternly.  “I think you do remember, and I think you just told mummy a fib.  I’m afraid, my girl, you leave me wi' no alternative.”  She opened a lower drawer from her dresser and groped in its nether recesses while Lily looked on, knuckles pressed anxiously to lips.

    Helen retrieved a worn, leathern strap a foot-and-a-quarter in length with one end cut into two long strips, and turned to face her daughter.  Upon sight of the instrument in her mother’s grasp, Lily collapsed to the floor in tears, and clung to Helen’s skirts, crying, “please don’t thrash me mummy I can’t bear it please oh please I beg you!”

    Flora winced as she recalled her own first acquaintance, at the age of eleven, to that instrument's bite.  This introduction had come in consequence of her governess catching young Flora in the dining room draining leftover dregs from her elders’ wine glasses after the family and their guests had retired to the drawing room for cards.  Flora had received her payment in full for this naughty misadventure of hers, bent across the foot of her bed, her undraped fundaments welting beneath the searing kisses of her governess’s Lochgelly tawse.

   Helen pulled Lily to her feet and sat back down on her bedside to face her.  “If you can’t remember,” she chided, flexing the strap before Lily’s eyes, “per ‘aps this will 'elp you remember.”

    “Lily, your mummy and I both know Miss Edith gave you those shoes,” explained Flora gently as she quickly knelt by the child’s side.  Flora placed her hand on Lily’s shoulder and steered the little girl to face her, partly to gain Lily’s full attention but also to forestall, however temporarily, her imminent thrashing.  “Just tell us what we already know, Lily, and I’m sure your mummy,” she glanced sidelong at Helen and back again to Lily, “shan’t find it necessary to chastise you with… that.”  Flora glanced again at Helen, hoping Helen might agree, but found the woman’s expression unreadable.

    “Yes,” came the timid little voice, nearly inaudible.

    “Yes what, Lily?” prompted Flora.  “Speak up child.”

    “Yes… Miss Edith told me she wanted me to ‘ave ‘em as I ‘ad no shoes of me own.  She told me about the barrel and just when she’d be about put’em there so I could take ‘em out again straightaway.”

    “There,” said Flora kindly, “that wasn’t so hard now was it.  You’re a good girl, Lily.”

    “Not entirely good I’m bound,” snapped Helen giving Flora a sharp glance.  Brushing aside Flora’s hand, Helen resumed her grip on her daughter’s shoulder and turned her again to face herself.  “Miss Field spoke true when she said I wouldn’t be thrashing you now you’ve told who gave you them boots."  Meeting Flora's eyes, and with a barely perceptible nod of acquiescence, Helen set the strap aside on their bed.  "But you told mummy you didn’t remember when you did remember, and that were a fibble-fable.  Do good little girls tell their mummies fibs?  Answer me!”

    Hanging her head, shoulders hunched, with both her hands pasted across the black linen seat of her uniform with her little fingers spread wide for maximum protection, Lily sadly shook her head No.

    “Only naughty girls do that.  And you know what ‘appens to naughty girls.”  Helen shifted further back onto the bedside to provide herself a more stable foundation, then tugged her skirt at the knees to smooth it and gave her lap a couple portentous pats.

    Lily began to weep as she slowly stepped forward and then placed herself face down across her mother’s lap.  “I’m powerful sorry I lied, mummy! I didn’t like to do it, ‘onest I didn’t!” cried Lily imploringly, looking back over her shoulder at her mother whilst the latter gathered the skirt of the child’s uniform and heaped it above her waist.  Flora noted that while Edith had given the child boots and stockings, she plainly hadn’t supplied Lily with undergarments, leaving the child quite bare.   “But Miss Edith was so very very kind to give me ‘er shoes and I didn’t want to say so because she told me if anyone ‘eard ‘bout it she’d be a'getting a spa- OUCH!”

    Helen had given Lily’s slender, elven posterior a solid slap, soon followed by another, and another, in a steady rhythm. Lily cried out in pain as each smack fell, until her cries dissolved into the continual sobbing wails characteristic of any small child while in receipt of a soundly administered spanking.

    Flora felt a pang in her heart as she listened to Lily cry.  Of course the poor girl hadn’t wanted her young benefactress punished on account of having done Lily a kindness.  Every inch the loyal servant, Lily had tried her utmost to spare Edith from tasting the sour sauce of correction. Yet the child had indeed spoken untruthfully to her mother just now. And a fault as grievous as that one necessitated precisely the method of correction Helen currently employed.

    Dishonesty in a child is a sprouting weed, Flora mused, as slaps and crying continued to fill the room - a weed best nipped the moment it appears, lest it subsequently mature into the hardened, poisonous bramble of an adult liar.

    Lily gripped the coverlet in her little fists and bawled into the mattress as her mother continued to smack her blushing buttocks.  But the child made no attempt to escape, turn over, or cover herself, in sharp contrast to Edith’s conduct two afternoons prior.  Flora reminded herself that Edith required training in this area, and that such training would likely prove laborious.

    Helen paused, rubbed her smacking palm on her hip, and regarded the wailing little girl across her lap for a few moments.  Concluding, apparently, that her dissembling daughter had properly learned her lesson, Helen whisked Lily’s skirt down into place and lay the child onto their bed to cry and rub her bottom.

    Speaking a bit louder than was her wont, on account of Lily’s tears, Flora explained that Mrs. Fogarty had expressly forbidden Edith from giving Lily shoes, or even from speaking to her.  And that much as Flora would prefer that Lily keep them, Flora had no alternative but to-

    “Aye! Aye! Take the bleedin’ boots back!” sputtered the woman impatiently.  “Will I lose me position on account ‘o all this?? That’s what I’m ‘ankering to know!!”

    Flora promised that in her subsequent speeches to Mrs. Fogarty, Flora would stress Helen's and Lily's blamelessness in the affair, and that she trusted Mrs. Fogarty to see reason.  Mollified somewhat but still looking concerned, Helen turned and began to unfasten one of Lily’s boots.  Flora stepped over to assist with the other.  Lily sobbed as her beloved new boots slipped off for the first and last time, leaving her once again barefoot - but offered no resistance to the procedure. 

<--- Chapter 4             Chapter 6 --->

(c) Copyright 2023 by HandPrince
This is fiction. Please don't discipline
your children this way.

 For permission to reprint:
handprince at hush dot com


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