Edith's New Governess

By HandPrince

Chapter 7. Flora Visits the Draper's

   “Walk on.”

   Flora gave the reins a shake, and Thaddeus the donkey stolidly began pulling the cart and its passenger back in the direction of home.

   Next to her on the seat of the cart, wrapped in brown paper, lay the lengths of light blue gingham, white linen, and lace trim she had just purchased from the draper’s. And alongside them stood the small pair of boots which had caused Wippingham Manor’s two youngest inhabitants so much wearisome difficulty of late.  The latter she had brought first to the cobbler, requesting that he take all necessary measurements and fashion a sturdy serviceable pair with those precise dimensions and have it delivered to Flora at the manor, paying him in full in advance.

   Thaddeus knew the way without prompting from Flora, permitting her to sit at her ease as quaint sights of the village of Behrhynde rolled slowly past.  There was the boarding house, there a row of tiny cottages for the mill workers.  There upon a rise stood the stately house of the mill owner, and there the clinic, the latter being the intended beneficiary of Mrs. Fogarty's upcoming charity auction.  The church steeple loomed over all.   Thaddeus snorted with displeasure at the added difficulty of pulling the cart across the railway tracks by the mill, but after failing at first, proved himself equal to the task. 

   The gentle waters of the Rhettbotham meandered lazily beneath as Thaddeus hauled the cart across the medieval stone bridge leading out of town.

   Flora had given Edith a half day off from lessons, providing herself time to perform these errands.  The surly stablemaster hadn’t removed his hat for Flora that morning, and had shown little inclination to do one whit more for her than duty compelled.  Nevertheless, he had made Thaddeus and the donkey cart ready at the time Flora specified.  As for Mrs. Harrow the seamstress, she had interrupted Flora curtly when Flora had first approached with her plans, saying, “I got me work and plenty ‘o it from the missus and I can’t be working at no pay for the likes of ‘er,” meaning Lily.  Her demeanour softened considerably upon hearing Flora’s offer of tuppence ha’penny in advance and a shilling and nine ha'penny upon completion.  She offered as she already had Lily’s measurements from having made the child’s uniform, the new frock could come as a surprise to the child if Flora wished it so.  Flora did.  With a smile, Mrs. Harrow then pronounced Lily a charming and deserving girl, and Flora a ‘good egg’ for seeing to the child’s proper apparel.

   Pastures gave way to woodlands, and at one point a hare darted across the lane, heedless of all but the fox in close pursuit. Passing over a gentle rise, the manor house’s distant parapet came into view through a gap in the trees.  Flora imagined the prospect from its roof must be grand indeed, and reminded herself again to search for a way up there some afternoon after Edith’s lessons, whenever Flora's need for a nap felt less pressing than usual at that hour.

   Descending from the rise and rounding a corner, a straight expanse of lane presented itself, lined on its left-hand side by stately hedges marking one boundary of the sprawling manor park.  A good way off, Flora spied a small figure walking in the same direction and recognised her at once as Lily, doubtlessly making her way home from school.  Flora wished she had managed to complete her errands sooner thus enabling her to give the child a ride all the way.  But she could still carry the little girl the rest of the distance.  Smiling to herself, Flora set the shoes and the parcel closer beside her and adjusted her skirt to conceal them from view.  She would call to Lily once Thaddeus had drawn near enough for Flora to do so without rendering herself guilty of unladylike boisterousness.  Lily’s company would surely render pleasanter the remainder of Flora’s journey.

   To Flora’s surprise, the distant Lily stopped abruptly, turned, and scampered to the hedgerow.  She appeared to stick her face into its foliage.  Perhaps she’d spied a toad therein, or perhaps a hedgehog, or a denizen of Faerie?  Then, to Flora’s still greater surprise, the little girl lowered herself to her hands and knees and disappeared into the hedge. 

   Flora didn’t envy the child her life of poverty and toil.  But at Lily’s age, little Flora had longed to crawl through the shrubbery of her benefactors’ estate in pursuit of hedgehogs, toads, and fairies, but wouldn’t have dared.  A single grass stain on the hem of her frock, or spot of grime on her pinafore, would have earned her a well-smacked bottom from nanny.  Lily, mused Flora wistfully, at least could freely indulge such childish impulses forbidden to little girls of the better classes.

   “Come here at once!” Edith had commanded coldly, as the figure of Lily had come into view through the hedge.  Lily had stopped in surprise, turned, trotted to her side of the hedge and peered in.  “Crawl through, and then walk, do not run, but walk to our meeting place. We must not be seen together,” snapped Edith, “I shall await you there.” Without another word, Edith dashed off in the direction of the dilapidated shed, petticoats aflutter and snowy-white bloomers flashing as she ran.

   Once Lily stepped into the doorway of their trysting place, Edith fell upon her.  “How dare you!  How dare you betray me to Miss Field!  I got a perfectly horrible smack bottom on account of you!”

   “Please Miss Edith, I’m powerful sorry.”  Lily began to cry.  Through her tears she sobbed that she’d tried to pretend to have found the shoes in the barrel by accident, but that her mum and Miss Field already knew the whole of it and there was nothing to be done.  Regarding Edith sadly, she concluded, “And I got an ‘orrible smack bottom o’ me own, I did,” and rubbed the seat of her dress for effect.

   Edith stood frozen.  The telling off of Lily which she had so thoroughly rehearsed in preparation for this moment still pressed inside her for expression.  But Lily’s sorrow was so obviously genuine…  Still Lily was just a servant so what did that matter?  It would feel so jolly satisfying to blame Lily for everything which had gone wrong.  But Edith then realised that although she had blamed Lily for the smacking Edith had received, could Edith hold herself any less to blame for the smacking she’d just discovered Lily herself to have received?  The entire shoe caper had been Edith’s idea, after all.

   “It was so awfully good of you to give me your shoes, Miss Edith. I’ll never forget your kindness as long as I live and that’s a fact.”  Lily’s lip quivered and she began to weep afresh.  “I loved them shoes so much.  I wish ever so much I still ‘ad ‘em.”

   A lump swelled in Edith’s throat.  And before she quite realised what she had done, she closed the distance between them and put her arms around Lily.  “I wish you still had them too, Lily,” she murmured, “I wish you had them too.”

   Lily burst completely into tears as she embraced Edith back, followed just a moment afterwards by Edith’s sobs as well.  The two children clung to each other for several minutes and cried – cried for the injustice of an adult world which held them both in thrall, and cried for the madness which had thwarted them from doing something so simple, so right, and so necessary.

   For just those few minutes, a yawning chasm of class and circumstance temporarily vanished, leaving in that interval of solidarity only the sisterhood of spanked little girls.

<--- Chapter 6             Chapter 8 (forthcoming) --->

 (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


Back to
The Handprints Spanking Stories Page