Edith's New Governess

By HandPrince

Chapter 12. Flora Keeps Lily's Secret

   "What in Heaven's name...?" exclaimed Flora.  She stood in the doorway, her shawl and gloves which she had brought for warmth from the December chill draped across her left arm.   She had come hoping to discover a stairway to the roof, never imagining she'd discover two disobedient girls.  The wicker chair carelessly positioned by the dumbwaiter, the latter's sliding door standing wide open, and the chair's sheet heaped on the floor, all betrayed at a glance how the two little co-conspirators had accomplished their illicit assignation.

   Edith leapt from the sofa and fled through the doorway on the far side of the room while Lily remained frozen in place.  Flora frowned as she regarded that far doorway.  She would deal with Edith in good time, Flora thought, closing behind her the door through which she had just entered.  For now there was the matter of Lily.

   Jumping abruptly to her feet, Lily dropped a deep curtsy as Flora drew close and stood before her.  "Good afternoon Miss Field!" she stammered.  "I'd best be gettin' below stairs now 'afore Cook misses me!"

    "You certainly will!" replied Flora sternly, taking a firm hold of the child's wrist, "but first you and I shall have a very serious talk!"  Flora seated herself on the sofa, placed her shawl and gloves beside her, then sat Lily on her right knee.  "This is the second time I've caught you above stairs, where you well know you aren't permitted.  What did you promise me that first time?"  Lily shifted uncomfortably on her perch atop Flora's knee, avoiding the woman's austere gaze.  "Answer me!"  Still avoiding Flora's eyes, Lily bit her lip and shrugged her shoulders as if she couldn't remember.

    Flora took hold of Lily's chin and turned the girl's face to her own.  "You promised never again to set foot above stairs without permission, did you not?" 

    "Yes Miss Field," came the murmured reply, barely audible.

    "And against my better judgment I refrained from informing your mother of your naughtiness on the basis of that promise of yours, a promise which you have now broken... haven't you!"  Lily nodded and began to blubber softly. 

    "B-but... Miss Edith told me to-"

    "Never you mind what Miss Edith tells you, my girl!  You mind what your mummy tells you!"  After allowing that admonition to sink in for a few moments, Flora continued, "and your mummy agreed with me that you should wear your new dress and pinafore only to church today, and not again until a week from today.  And now I find you've not only disobeyed that rule," Flora glanced in the direction of the dumbwaiter and back again, "but you wore it while gallivanting in that  thing!  What have you to say for yourself?"

    "I'm sorry Miss Field.  Only wanted to show Miss Edith me new frock I did. I were going to take it off afterward straight away!"

    "That is no excuse.  You know perfectly well that you may not make for yourself exceptions to your mother's rules whenever it suits you."  Flora glanced at the doorway through which Edith had earlier absconded, resolving not to demean herself by searching for the child.  She would report Edith's misbehaviour to Mrs. Fogarty.  If necessary, Edith's mother would send the hallboy or a lower-ranking footman to retrieve the errant youngster should she continue to conceal herself and postpone her inevitable chastisement.  Turning her attention back to Lily, Flora continued, "You have been naughty twice over - above stairs without permission, and wearing your new frock without permission.  I am very disappointed in you!"

    "I-I'm sorry Miss Field," sobbed Lily. 

    "I daresay you shall be a whole lot sorrier once I inform your mother about this," declared Flora, rising to her feet and guiding Lily to hers.  "Come with me."

     "Please please please don't tell me mum!" cried Lily, collapsing to the floor and gripping Flora's skirt.

     "You have been disobedient and you simply must be punished, Lily.  Because I am so very fond of you I care far too much to allow such faults as you have committed this afternoon to go uncorrected.  You need a right proper smack bottom from your mummy to teach you to behave yourself in future.  Now get back on your feet and stop this nonsense!"

    "She won't smack me Miss Field!" wailed Lily, making no move to rise from the floor.  "Leather me 'til the skin comes off me bum she will!  Please don't tell 'er Miss Field! Please!"

    The timbre of Lily's entreaties froze Flora in place.  She was long accustomed to the carryings-on of naughty girls attempting to persuade Flora to spare the rod.  But Lily seemed uncommonly frightened, almost terrified.  Into Flora's mind flew the image of Helen, in a towering rage, whipping her little daughter on and on and on with her tawse.  To Helen's mind, Lily would have risked the two of them dismissed from service and cast out into the cold without a reference.  Flora imagined herself explaining to Helen that Lily had been guilty merely of unremarkable childish naughtiness, for which a routine spanking with Helen's open hand would suffice.  But just as quickly she imagined Helen shouting at Flora to 'bunk off' and slamming the door in her face, followed by the crack of supple leather snapping against bare flesh and Lily's screams of anguish as her mother punished her with far, far greater severity than her misbehaviour warranted.

    Flora stooped, took hold of both Lily's wrists and pulled the child to her feet.  "I erred in not reporting you to your mother the first time I caught you above stairs.  Had I done so, you likely wouldn't be standing before me now-" Flora glanced at the room then back at Lily, "-or here."

    In tears, Lily continued to gaze up at Flora, eyes spilling, and implored her to keep Lily's misbehaviour a secret.  Flora stood rooted to her spot, caught between the Scylla of Lily's undeniable need of a spanking, and the Charybdis of the likely excessive application of such correction over Helen's knee.

    "I am sorry Lily," sighed Flora, unable to maintain the stern timbre in her voice which she deemed appropriate for times like this, "but your wilful misconduct leaves me with no alternative.  You must be punished.  It is for your own good."

    "Then punish me yerself Miss Field!  Likes ye does wi' Miss Edith!" 

    "I can't whip you, Lily.  I am neither your mother nor your governess and it simply isn't my place to discipline you."  After several renewed supplications from Lily, Flora added, "and if I were to do as you ask of me, and your mother learned of it, she would be furious with me and rightly so."

    " 'Ow will me mum know 'bout it Miss Field if ye don't tell 'er?? I know I shan't!"  To Flora's way of thinking concealing a child's naughty secret from her mother certainly wasn't the least bit proper.  Still, compared with Charybdis...

    Hardly aware of having made a decision, Flora found herself leading Lily back to the sofa and seating herself while standing Lily before her.  She reached under Lily's skirts until her fingers found the waist of the child's bloomers.  These, it turned out, had a drawstring which tied in front, and which Flora unfastened, allowing the garment to fall to Lily's knees.  "A-are you going to whip me, Miss Field?" whimpered Lily.  Flora responded in the affirmative and placed the unresisting child face down across her lap.  "Will you be a-tellin' me mum?" came the anxious query over Lily's right shoulder. 

    Flora took a deep breath, striving to dispel the unease she felt at the highly irregular course upon which she had now set forth.  "No Lily, I shan't tell your mother, much though it troubles me not to."

    "Thank you Miss Field!" sighed Lily with relief tinged with fear as Flora gathered the crisp blue fabric of Lily's new gingham frock above her small waist, followed by a flounced lacy petticoat, followed by a plainer one, and followed at last by the sheer fabric of her shift, leaving only her knee-length knickers.  As Flora unbuttoned and slipped down this latter garment, she plumbed her memory for any previous instance of a child in Lily's predicament thanking Flora immediately prior to a punishment, but could recall none.

    "Lily?" asked Flora, struggling to purge from her tone the note of apology which pressed within her for expression, "you've been a naughty girl and you're going to be smacked.  Tell me now what you did to earn for yourself the chastisement you shall shortly receive."  Lily looked back over her shoulder at Flora, the corners of her eyes tightened with apprehension but didn't speak.  "Answer me and be quick about it!"

    "'B'cause I went upstairs where'n I oughtn't... a-and I broke me promise not to."

    "And what else?"  Lily was silent, seemingly from puzzlement rather than stubbornness.  Flora took a pinch of the back of Lily's frock between her thumb and forefinger and gave it a little wiggle.

    "Oh and I wore me new frock after church let out, when I weren't s'posed to."

    "That is correct, Lily, and furthermore-" Flora stopped in mid-sentence.  A great gathering of words had arisen simultaneously in her mind - admonitions, moralistic lectures, examples from Flora's own girlhood, verses from the Book of Proverbs - when all at once from a different corner of Flora's mind came 'JUST GET ON WITH IT!'

    Flora knew she must heed this latter voice.  How needlessly unkind of Flora to keep poor Lily in frightened suspense one moment longer!  After Flora had slipped her glove onto her right hand, and placed her left hand and forearm snugly across the child's lower back to hold both Lily and her skirts in position, the young governess allowed herself for the first time to fully appreciate how perfectly horrid she felt inside.  A leaden weight tugged dolefully within Flora's bosom.  Not since she'd had occasion to correct her two dear little cousins while acting as under-governess in her benefactor's house had Flora felt such grief at the prospect of administering a smacking - condign and necessary though she knew it to be.

   Steeling herself for the unhappy task ahead, Flora began to slap the twin orbs of Lily's petite buttocks in a brisk unhurried rhythm.  The child burst into full tears at once.  Flora did her utmost to mentally close her ears to the sounds of Lily's tearful cries of pain, with only partial success, for they tugged at her heartstrings still.  Focusing her full attention upon Lily's flushing posteriors Flora continued to smack the spare little mounds of flesh, so distinct from Edith's plump well-nourished hindquarters.  Distinct as well was Lily's dutiful submission to her punishment, so unlike Edith's usual rebellious struggles to cover herself and to escape.

   An odd image arose in Flora's mind of herself as an elf mother, chastening her little elf maiden upon catching her straying beyond the borders of Faerieland.  Then it dissolved as quickly as it had come, while mortal Flora administered slap after slap to the wailing mortal child's elven fundaments.

   Flora, after two or three dozen smacks, rested her arm.   Had Lily had enough?  Had she learned her lesson?  Flora wished for that to be so, but wasn't certain.  Then she remembered that Edith, concealed in the adjoining room, surely heard every sound through the open doorway.  Glancing in its direction, a small face vanished behind the door frame, almost quickly enough to escape Flora's notice.  The correction she had given Lily thus far, although a sound one, was nevertheless distinctly milder than the ones Edith had received over Flora's knee.  It wouldn't do for Edith to ever perceive Flora as lax in the matter of administration of correction.  The prospect of a smacked bottom from Miss Field must continue to inspire a high measure of wholesome fear in the child, so that the prospect alone might prevent Edith from straying on most occasions, with the administration of correction required only infrequently.

   With this in mind, and wishing to make certain Lily truly wouldn't misbehave again in the manner in which she so recently had, Flora took a deep breath, raised her palm and slowly gave the crying child's twin posteriors seven crisp swats, with a bit of added emphasis each time, causing Lily to bawl more heartrendingly than before.

   Flora sighed with relief as she administered Lily's seventh and last smack. But such relief felt hollow.  A leaden weight of sorrow still tugged at her heart just as before.  Several deep breaths failed to dispel that ache in the slightest.  Flora removed her glove from her right hand and set it beside her on the sofa with its counterpart atop her shawl.  She pulled Lily's bloomers back up, then shifted the crying child onto her back across Flora's lap, retied their drawstring and attempted to set the little girl onto her feet.  Lily collapsed to the floor at once still crying.  Flora frowned at the sight of Lily's immaculate new frock once again touching the floor, but did nothing, finding herself quite unable to reprove the little girl any further.

   Then came a small hand on her lap, then a second, followed by a small knee with a little girl's weight bearing down upon it, followed by the collapse of a sobbing Lily curled up against Flora's bosom.  A sharp pang of love in Flora's breast joined with the ache of sadness and guilt which already abided there as Flora tenderly placed her arms around the crying child.  This, thought Flora, must in small measure resemble how a mother feels when inflicting painful discipline upon a little one whom she loves more than life.

   She noticed that Lily was rubbing the seat of her frock, and without a word, Flora slipped her right hand under Lily's skirts and began soothingly rubbing the hot little hillocks of Lily's bottom through the fabric of her bloomers.  Lily had had quite enough pain thought Flora, rendering any further discomfort in her nether regions superfluous from a disciplinary perspective.  "There there," whispered Flora softly, her lips close to Lily's right ear, "it's all over.  You're a good girl again now."

   As Lily tears quieted, she looked up at Flora, wide eyed, and asked, "Are ye still cross wi' me Miss Field?"  Flora tenderly reassured her that she was not, as she wiped the tear stains from Lily's face with a corner of her shawl.  But as Lily recovered from the pain of her spanking, Flora enjoyed no comparable recovery from her own pain of having spanked her.

   "It... it made me very sad to have to give you your smacking just now," Flora heard herself say, before she could check herself.

   "Not as sad as it made me I'm bound," sniffled Lily with a hint of sulkiness.

    "Let's hear no more cheek from you, my girl," cautioned Flora, in the closest to a stern tone she could muster at that moment.  "Or," she added, "I shall have to put you back over my knee," despite having not the slightest intention of doing any such thing.

    Flora told herself that it was all for the best.  Then she told herself again. Lily had needed to be disciplined she told herself, and then told herself again, and then once more.  Flora had done nothing wrong declared Flora to herself, pitting her mind against her heart.  Yet her heart refused to yield. Still the sorrow of having whipped dear little Lily continued to pull upon her heartstrings as dolorously as ever.  How long must I suffer thus before it subsides? she wondered. Hours? A day? If hours of that achy guilt could somehow all compress into the space of a minute, Flora had no doubt she should find herself wailing as urgently as a severely whipped little girl.

   And in that moment Flora realized that in the fullness of time, that spanking she had just given truly would hurt Flora more than it had hurt Lily.


<--Chapter 11               Chapter 13-->

(c) Copyright 2024 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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