Edith's New Governess

By HandPrince

Chapter 6. Edith Tastes the Sour Sauce

   “You rang, M’Lady.”

   “Yes William,” replied Mrs. Fogarty to the footman, “Please find Mistress Edith and bring her here to my bedchamber straightaway.”

   “Very good, M’Lady.” 

   “And if she gives you any cheek you may tell her that Mama says she must cease whatever she might be doing and come at once.”

   With a stiff bow, William shut the door behind him as Mrs. Fogarty turned to Flora seated next to her on the bedside. “You did well to bring this to my attention, Miss Field.” Mrs. Fogarty sighed.  “I love my daughter dearly, of course.  But as you have certainly gathered by now, she is an uncommonly headstrong little girl, quite determined to do precisely as she sees fit without regard to her mother’s prohibitions.”  As Flora quietly nodded agreement, the woman continued, “I daresay if this fault in her character isn’t corrected soon, I dread to think what forms it might take in six or seven years’ time.”

   “Quite right, Mrs. Fogarty,” Flora assented, “your child disobeyed your prohibition against speaking with Lily and-“

   “With whom?”

   “Lily, madam…  Lily? the little scullery maid?”  With a supercilious wave of her hand, the woman bade Flora continue.  “-and Edith gave away a pair of her boots to the child after you expressly forbade her from doing so,” Flora concluded.  Mrs. Fogarty regarded the pair of child-sized boots on her lap and sighed again as she took them up and placed them behind herself on her bed out of sight.  Flora expounded further, stressing the necessity of condign correction for little girls who wilfully disobey their mothers’ words, as Mrs. Fogarty murmured agreement.

   Flora took a deep breath and continued, “you are quite correct, I am sure, to forbid your daughter from making a special gift to a servant.  Such a dispensation might create jealousy below stairs as you so rightly pointed out to her.”  Actually, Flora was less than entirely convinced of this, but deemed it not her place to question her mistress’ rules.  “But,” Flora then added, “would you have any objection if a member of staff were to purchase a pair of shoes for the child out of their own wages?”

   With a hint of irritation at such a trifling inquiry, Mrs. Fogarty replied, “members of staff have a perfect right to spend their own money however they like, provided so doing doesn’t interfere with their duties.”  With a curt gesture, she ended discussion of the subject, just as the bedroom door opened.

   “Mistress Edith Fogarty,” announced the footman as Edith stepped in, clad in a white and blue middy sailor dress with large matching hair ribbon.

   The footman vanished behind the closed door.  “What is it, Mama?” asked Edith as she approached the two women.  She cast an uneasy glance at Flora and dropped a perfunctory curtsy to her governess before returning her gaze to her mother.

   “At dinner two nights ago, dear, you inquired regarding a certain little scullery maid and your wish to make a gift to her of a pair of your shoes, did you not?”  Edith strove to present an indifferent mien as she answered in the affirmative, while a wave of clawing unease slowly washed over her viscera.  How much did Mama know?  And why oh why was Miss Field here?!

   “And what did Mama tell you in response to your request, darling?”

Edith swallowed nervously, "that I mayn’t.”

   “And did you then disobey Mama and gift a pair of your shoes to that wretched little girl despite my express prohibition?”

   Edith did her best to meet her mother’s eyes as she denied the charge, and to appear shocked at the very suggestion that a little girl as dutiful as herself might even conceive of disobeying Mama’s rules, her countenance the epitome of wounded innocence.

   Mrs. Fogarty reached behind her and presented the shoes to Edith’s gaze.  “Then how did these wind up on the feet of… of Liza, or Lizbeth, or whatever her name is?” demanded the woman in a sterner tone.

   Edith reacted with an almost imperceptible start at the sight of the familiar boots in her mother’s hand, a start which didn’t go unnoticed to Flora’s practised eye.  “Oh those,” replied Edith with her best impression of supercilious indifference, “I put those in the missionary barrel.  There is a beastly burn mark on the left toe.”

   “You know perfectly well that you are not permitted to place anything of yours in that barrel without nanny or myself first giving you leave!” snapped Mrs. Fogarty, her temper rising.

   Edith could no longer conceal her anxiety as she sensed walls closing in upon her with no avenue of escape.  “I-I forgot, Mama,” she replied tremulously, shifting her weight nervously from foot to foot.

   “I believe you remembered quite well,” concluded Mrs. Fogarty with confidence.  “I believe you chose to conspire with that little girl and I believe you arranged for her to obtain your boots, both actions from which Mama expressly forbade you.  And for that you shall be roundly chastised.”  The woman nodded to Flora.

   “Edith, come here,” commanded Flora.  The little girl protested to her mother, making no move to obey.  “Edith?” warned Flora, “you are already in a great deal of trouble and I strongly advise you not to worsen your predicament through further acts of obstinacy.  Come!  Here!”

   Edith approached with reluctant tiny steps, looking imploringly at her mother in hope of an eleventh-hour reprieve.  But Mrs. Fogarty remained impassive.  Once the child drew within Flora’s reach, Flora placed her hands on Edith’s shoulders and drew her closer still.  “Edith, look at me... Edith? Edith! I told you now to look at me, not at your Mama!”  Edith met Flora’s eyes for a moment then lowered them to look anxiously at Miss Field’s lap.  Flora took Edith’s chin in her right hand and raised the little girl’s face to her own.  “You wished to help someone less fortunate than yourself, Edith. And that was a good impulse on your part – a Christian impulse.  Please understand that it is not for that generous desire that you must now be punished.  First and foremost, you must obey your Mama’s word, always – even when your Mama’s rules may strike you as unfair.  Your wish to perform a good deed does not exempt you from your duty to obey your mother’s word.  That disobedience of yours will not stand, and you will now receive a well-merited correction for that fault.  Please lie down across my knee.”

   Desperately, Edith remained standing as she begged Mama for a second chance, saying she had already learned her lesson thus rendering a smacked bottom from Miss Field entirely unnecessary.  “Edith!” snapped Miss Field, “you were told to lie down across my knee and yet you have failed to obey.  I shan't ask you thrice.  Lie down across my knee at once or matters will go worse for you.”

   Tearfully Edith beseeched her mother, “Please Mama!  Please don’t let Miss Field whip me!  She smacks so frightfully hard!  Please! I shan’t ever ever ever disobey you again!”

   Flora met her employer’s eyes for a moment.  With a curt nod the woman gave Flora leave to continue, and Flora promptly pulled the little girl face down across her left knee.  “No! No!” cried Edith, striving to prevent Miss Field from placing her into the position that Edith knew Miss Field intended for her.  She tried to kick free of her governess’s lap, but found her own legs firmly restrained between the former’s, Miss Field having already anticipated such an attempt on Edith’s part.  The child’s desperate bid to shield the seat of her dress with her hands merely facilitated Miss Field’s seizure of Edith’s wrists in her left hand, and the securing of them tightly against the child’s lower back.  “Mama please! Please don’t let her!  Mama... don't you love me??”

   “Qui aime bien châtie bien,” replied her mother serenely. "Who loves well, punishes well."

   Mrs. Fogarty then leaned her face close to her daughter’s, and reprimanded her with a frown. “That was quite naughty of you to resist Miss Field just now when she directed you to place yourself over her knee – indicative of a want of repentance on your part.  And most unladylike as well I daresay.”  As Edith’s mother scolded, Flora began to gather the skirts of the child's sailor frock and petticoats in back and ruck the garments above the child’s waist.

   Mrs. Fogarty indicated for Flora to pause, and rose from the bedside.  Edith looked on in mute consternation.  Would Mama quit the room now and leave poor Edith alone at Miss Field’s mercy??  But instead of the door, Mama went to her dresser, retrieved her hairbrush and returned to the bedside.  Edith’s alarm gave way to bewilderment.  Of all the times Mama should wish to brush Edith’s hair, why… now??

   Flora had Edith’s skirts fully tucked up and secured in place beneath Edith’s tightly gripped wrists by the time Mrs. Fogarty returned with her hairbrush.  As the woman regained her seat she held out the instrument to Flora, who received it after first turning aside the flaps of Edith’s drawers to reveal the pale flesh of girl’s undraped little fundaments, positioned and secured for chastisement.  

   With dismay, Edith divined the true purpose of Mama’s hairbrush and burst into furious, frightened tears; tears soon interrupted by her squeal of trepidation as its smoothly varnished backside smacked her unclad posteriors. Edith winced at the upwelling of smarting discomfort which followed immediately afterwards. Just as that pang reached its zenith, another swat from Mama’s brush drove it still higher, then another, and another.  Before Miss Field’s half-dozenth swat had landed, Edith’s small frame heaved with sobbing wails of distress from the perfectly horrid sensation in her helpless upturned bottom.  Oh wicked wretched hateful Miss Field!  Edith wished herself a queen so she could sentence Miss Field to be hung, drawn, and quartered like in books!  Or better yet, personally shove the wicked witch into the oven, like Gretel!

Or better yet, personally shove the wicked witch into the oven, like Gretel!

   Over a dozen crisp, emphatic swats later, Flora paused briefly and glanced at Mrs. Fogarty for her cue.  The woman nodded, and motioned with her hand for Flora to continue.  Flora did, and Edith’s bare nates blushed further with each fresh smack of Mrs. Fogarty’s brush.  Flora concurred with Edith’s mother that the child’s chastisement did indeed need to continue.  She would pay close attention to Mrs. Fogarty’s countenance, though, resolved to cease at once whensoever her employer wished.

   As Miss Field continued to spank and spank and spank her, Edith felt as if a hive of angry bees had landed upon her poor helpless buttocks, there to sting and sting and sting without pity.  Oh how she wished she hadn’t given Lily her shoes!  If only she had never met that wretched Lily none of this dreadful business would be happening to her!

   Again Flora paused, with brush poised aloft, and regarded Mrs. Fogarty quizzically.  Again Edith’s mother motioned for Flora to resume.  Edith’s bottom blazed a bright pink by now, and her wails took on a timbre of fresh urgency as Flora recommenced her application of solid smacks across the child’s inflamed little orbs of tender flesh.

   When next Flora looked Mrs. Fogarty’s way, the woman extended her hand for the brush.  Flora gave it her, and released her grasp upon Edith who immediately scrambled off of Flora’s lap and began hopping up and down on the carpet, still bawling, and clutching the seat of her frock with both hands.  Flora deemed Edith’s chastisement of insufficient duration, but had no intention of setting her own opinion against that of Mrs. Fogarty, who now fetched her crying daughter in her arms and gathered her onto her lap.  She cooed gently to her child soothing her as she continued to cry, with only the word “Mama” occasionally discernible amidst the little girl’s sobs. 

   Flora sat awkwardly as a minute passed, and then another, unsure if she should withdraw from this very private mother-daughter tête-à-tête, but not wishing to intrude upon it by asking.  At length Mrs. Fogarty, who appeared to have entirely forgotten Miss Flora’s presence, noticed her and perfunctorily declared, “that will be all, Miss Field.”   She then returned her attention to her sniffling daughter.  Relieved, Flora rose, curtsied, exited, and turned down the hallway in the direction of the back staircase, looking forward to a loosened corset and a welcome afternoon nap upon her bed.  Searching the east wing for a stairway to the rooftop could wait for another afternoon.

   Edith was thankful to cuddle with Mama and rub her smarting bottom through her skirts rather than have to stand in the corner forbidden from doing the latter, as Miss Field had required of her previously.  She appropriately answered “yes Mama” or “no Mama” to each of her mother’s gentle promptings regarding obedience and the general characteristics of well-bred, exemplary little girls.  At last Mama bade her to “run along now and behave yourself, my dear.”  Edith curtsied to Mama, although this wasn’t required of her, to let Mama see what an exemplary little girl Mama now possessed.

   After Edith softly shut the bedroom door behind her, she angrily tore down the hallway in the direction of the nursery as fast as her little legs could carry her.  Rushing through the green baize doorway she nearly careened into nanny.  Without a word of apology, Edith stormed into the night nursery room and slammed its door behind her.  Lips tightly set, she surveyed her collection of dolls lined up by size on their shelf along her wall.  Snatching up her hairbrush from her dresser, she pulled up a chair next to the shelf and began to systematically place each one across her lap and spank it hard, with bristles downward so as not to dent her brush or damage her dolls.  Once Edith had chastised every naughty dolly, from the largest to the smallest, Edith found that her fury had dulled somewhat, but not deserted her. 

   Stretching herself onto her bed, she thought grimly of Lily.  To think that Edith had so kindly bestowed upon that ungrateful traitor the very shoes off her feet, only to have the little turncoat promptly betray Edith to Miss Field!  Edith would pay back Lily for her treachery.  She wasn’t yet sure how she might accomplish that, but pay her back Edith would.
   On her own bed two storeys below, Flora drifted into light slumber, clear upon the course of action which lay before her.


<--- Chapter 5             Chapter 7 --->

(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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