Edith's New Governess

By HandPrince

Chapter 14. Edith Receives A Letter

    "You mayn't have your blancmange, dear, until you've finished your pheasant," prompted Mrs. Fogarty.  Edith shrugged indifferently and continued to poke a last morsal of the bird from side to side on her plate.

    Despite Edith's fondness for blancmange, especially with shaved almonds as Cook prepared it, nothing tempted her this evening.  Earlier she had ravenously consumed her breakfast, having previously skipped dinner due to her... what had Dr. Bankwell called it? her "acute gloomeritis?" or somesuch?  Edith no longer felt herself a ghost upon rising that morning.  Had that been a symptom of her glooperistus?  He had lifted her nightgown and glimpsed her reddened hindquarters immediately before issuing his diagnosis.  Had that been what he had meant by her glootyismitism?   He had assured Nanny that Edith would be cured by today.  Upon wakening she had peered beneath her covers and determined that her nether cheeks, so soundly smacked the afternoon previous by Miss Field, had largely regained their accustomed creamy hue.

    Entering her schoolroom for lessons had been a trial, though.  It required placing herself into Miss Field's presence.  But enter she did, despite her urgent longing to shun its occupant.  Her penmanship drills, which she normally loathed, provided her with a welcome respite by permitting her to focus her attention to the exclusion of her governess.  "Oh how I hate her!" thought Edith, at last placing the meat into her mouth and beginning to chew indifferently, as she imagined Miss Field clapped in irons and transported to America only to be captured by pirates and boiled in a stew pot by cannibals.

As Flora slowly savoured her blancmange, she noted with satisfaction Edith's exemplary conduct at table and at her lessons earlier.  Clearly the condign chastisement the child had received at Flora's hand had borne fruit and wrought a welcome change in Edith's heart.  Hopefully this trend in Edith would continue.

    "That's my good girl," praised Mrs. Fogarty, "You may have your blancmange now."

    "Yes Mama," intoned Edith without enthusiasm.

    "And as a dessert surprise..." The woman reached into her bodice and with a smile drew out two folded papers, "...a letter from Papa!"

    Edith gasped audibly.  Bolt upright she sat, taut as a bowstring as her mother began to read.

    Flora, for her part, experienced a pang of anxiety, hoping her countenance hadn't betrayed her.  While she had intercepted Edith's letter asking Mr. Fogarty to give Flora the sack, what if Edith had subsequently written a second letter of like content without Flora's knowledge?

    Flora slowly ate tiny fractions of her blancmange, striving to conceal, behind a semblance of mere polite attention, her intense interest in Mr. Fogarty's missive.  Mr. Fogarty apologised for his tardiness in writing, referred to business difficulties and duties in Parliament, and waxed lyrical about how dearly he missed Wippingham in the wintertime and how most of all he missed Papa's dearest Queen of the Manor, and Papa's dearest little Princess thereof. 

    Mrs. Fogarty paused as her eyes moved down the page, then turned it over and fell silent for a few moments further; likely, Flora presumed, to skip passages the woman deemed too personal, or perhaps too indelicate for the ears of Edith.  Mrs. Fogarty's recitation resumed with him sending his love to Edith, telling her he missed Papa's little pet continually, and admonishing her to be a good girl and to always obey Mama and Miss Field and to apply herself dutifully to her studies under the guiding hand of the latter.  He concluded with a fervent vow to be home by Christmas.

    "But..." stammered Edith after several moments of silence, "...is there more, Mama?"

    "Nothing more which concerns you, darling," she replied with an amused smile.

    "OH!" sobbed Edith and flung herself from the table, upsetting her uneaten blancmange and fleeing the room, her footfalls first echoing in the marble hall and then dashing up the stairs. 

    "Goodness gracious!" exclaimed Mrs. Fogarty, "Whatever has possessed that child??"

    Flora finished her blancmange in two heaping spoonfuls, rapidly swallowed, and set her glass aside.  "Mrs. Fogarty, whatever may be troubling your child is no excuse for such naughty misbehavior at table.  By your leave, may I discipline her now?"  Mrs. Fogarty rose from her chair saying she wished to speak with Edith and discover the cause of her outburst.  "Madame," Flora continued, "If I may be so bold, discipline is most effective when it follows misbehavior as promptly as possible.  I recommend that Edith first receive chastisement, and be put to bed, at which point I shall send word that she is ready for you once her heart has been softened by correction."  With a sigh and a wave of her hand, Mrs. Fogarty signaled her assent.

    "Oh Papa! How could you!?" Edith wailed into her pillow as she lay face down on her feather bed in the nursery.  He had called her his Princess.  He had called her his pet.  But he had ignored her plight, making no mention of Miss Field's dreadful beatings and weekly cold baths.  How could dear Papa side with cruel, beastly, Miss Field and not with herself?

    After crying deeply for several minutes at the monstrous injustice of her plight, her wails gave way to sobs, which have way to sniffles.  Her door opened and in walked Miss Field. 

    "Onto your feet, Edith," she commanded in a calm authoritative voice.  Taking hold of Edith's shoulders, she guided the child to a standing position while seating herself on Edith's bedside.  Placing each of Edith's hands in her own, Flora declared, "You know that you must ask your Mama to excuse you from table and not stir from your chair until she gives you leave, do you not?"

    "Yes Miss Field," came the murmured disconsolate reply.

    "You were very wicked to disobey that rule, were you not."

    "Yes Miss Field."

    "And will you repeat such disobedience in future?"

    "Yes Miss Field. I-I mean, NO Miss Field!"

    Flora resumed her grasp of Edith's shoulders and guided the unresisting little girl face down across her lap.

    Edith felt herself once again in a dream, although she knew only too well that she was not.  "First Papa's letter... and now... I shall be smacked," she thought desolately, as Miss Field turned up her frock and petticoats over her back, and began working the button of her bloomers.

    Edith's absence of resistance pleased Flora considerably.  Unfastening Edith's bloomers and sliding them down to the middle of the child's thighs, she silently congratulated herself for having won her young charge's compliance in such matters, and for having done so with far greater promptitude than she had anticipated.   

    As Flora raised her right hand to commence Edith's chastisement, Flora realized that her doeskin glove, which she normally wore while performing this particular duty, lay in her bedchamber far below stairs.  For a moment she considered retrieving it, but instead elected to proceed with Edith's correction.  Flora had, after all, told Mrs. Fogarty that discipline administered promptly has the greatest salutary effect upon a child's character.

    As Edith felt her bloomers fall to her knees, and as the cool air of the night nursery wafted against the bare flesh of her buttocks and thighs, she exhorted herself, "I must do as Lily bade me!  I must 'think myself away!'"  She had, however briefly, accomplished this wondrous feat yesterday while Miss Field spanked her for fraternizing with Lily.  If only she knew now how she had done it then!  If only she could speak with Lily; Lily would know!  If only- "Ouch! OUCH! OWWW!!..."

    Flora began to spank the pale hemisphere's of Lily's backside - crisp, hard slaps spaced but a second apart.  Her first half-dozen reduced Edith to full tears.  She began bawling by her dozenth.  And by her two-dozenth she heaved deep wailing sobs of pain, her cheeks wet with copious tears.  Edith's buttocks tightened as she wailed, then loosened whenever her wails broke into renewed sobs.

    Edith, in her helpless despair, felt no impulse to resist Miss Field's punishment.  She knew from experience, of course, that her governess could easily overpower little Edith if necessary.  But most of all, she simply felt too bleak inside to rebel.  As Miss Field's skillful, well-aimed smacks continued to scorch Edith's nether cheeks, their wretched sting continued to increase.  "Think myself away!" Edith cried out in her mind, "Think myself away!"  Edith tried to picture herself floating just below the night nursery ceiling gazing serenely downwards while Miss Field spanked another little girl who merely looked and dressed identically to Edith.  But her imaginings seemed mere phantasms - wisps of vapor burned away in by the blazing sun of Miss Field's powerful swats across Edith's urgently smarting hindquarters.  Try as she might to drift to the ceiling, Edith remained face down across her governess's lap, with Miss Field's left hand tightly securing her waist and holding her upturned skirts in place, her right hand administering spank after spank after solidly-administered spank to Edith's undraped fundaments.

    Flora's palm had begun to smart with steadily mounting urgency with each slap she delivered across the lividly-pink spot now covering the middle and lower portions of Edith's bottom.  Flora found herself regretting not having earlier troubled herself to procure her spanking glove from two storeys below.  She winced, paused, and rubbed her throbbing hand against her hip for several moments.  This brought a modicum of relief.  But when she resumed Edith's correction, Flora's hand soon hurt as disagreeably as before, and again she paused.

    Edith wasn't crying defiant tears, Flora reasoned, as she regarded the weeping little girl across her lap, her small frame heaving with sobs.  Indeed, Flora convinced herself, Edith's cries evinced a wholesome timbre of repentance and submission, and thus the child's chastisement should rightly conclude.

    Edith didn't at first notice when Miss Field ceased spanking her.  Her punishment had proceeded well past the point where Edith could distinguish one slap from the next.  Instead she simply felt her tender, sensitive, hindparts blistering in a merciless blast of intense heat; and this dreadful sensation continued for half a minute past Miss Field's final smack before it slowly began to diminish, and Edith only then realized her governess had finished whipping her.  As she continued to cry across the woman's lap, Edith longed to reach back and rub the sting from her smarting bottom.  But she knew Miss Field forbade that.

    Once Edith's tears had receded sufficiently for her to listen to directions, Flora shifted Edith off her lap and bade her stand and face her governess.  Edith's bloomers fell to her ankles as she stood.  "P-please Miss F-F-Field, may I rub my bottom now?" sobbed Edith.  Flora nodded assent, and the little girl quickly rucked up her skirts in back and began trying her best to sooth her throbbing nates.

    "Edith, you are to undress, wash, don your nightdress, and be in your bed and under your covers by a quarter of an hour from now.  I shall return to check on you then.  If I find you have obeyed my instructions, I shall send for your Mama, who wishes to speak with you regarding your motivations for your ill conduct at table this evening.  Should I find you have failed to obey my instructions in their entirety, you shall be spanked a second time.  And I shall in that instance employ the back of your hairbrush rather than my hand.  Is that understood?"

    "Y-y-yes Miss Fields," she sniffled miserably.

    Quitting Edith's room, Flora straightaway ran cold water over her stinging palm, until most of its smarting faded.  Noting the time, Flora resolved to utilise her fifteen minutes to take a turn around the upstairs passage surrounding and overlooking the great hall below before checking on Edith and informing Mrs. Fogarty that her daughter was ready for a tête-à-tête.

     A house-parlourmaid and two under-house-parlourmaids knelt before the banister of the passageway overlooking the north end of the great hall.  They appeared to be stitching the top edge of a voluminous green velvet drapery onto a hempen rope woven through the balusters of the mahogany railing and tightly secured with a knot.  The drape, from which emanated a noticeable odor of mothballs, hung down to the great hall below, its bottom edge just barely touching its floor.  "What are you three about?" inquired Flora amiably.

    "Mindin' our own business I'm bound!" snapped one of the under-house-parlourmaids over her shoulder with a toss of her red hair.  Flora at once recognised her as Ruth, the half-grown adolescent who had previously knocked on Flora's door to inform her of the delivery of Lily's boots.  Before Flora could respond, the house-parlourmaid bade Ruth hold her tongue, then politely explained that this was to be a curtain behind which the auction items would remain hidden until taken out one-by-one for bids.  Thanking her, Flora walked on.  As she passed Ruth, Flora noted the plain outlines of the girl's partially-matured buttocks beneath the skirt of her uniform, tightly stretched across her flesh by her deep kneeling position.  Continuing along the passage, Flora briefly pictured the ill-mannered young whelp bent over the back of a chair with those half-girlish/half-womanly buttocks of hers bared for six strokes of Flora's junior cane.

     From the great hall below came the sound of sawing and hammering as men assembled makeshift tables, presumably to display less expensive items of fixed price.  Once completed, they laid each table with a white linen table cloth, hanging to the floor around its edges.   As she stood and watched the work proceed, Flora reflected upon her good fortune.  Clearly, Edith had written only that one letter to Papa, the one which Flora had purloined at considerable risk to her career.  Never had Flora's position at Wippingham with the Fogarty family felt less insecure than now.

    Still, an obstacle remained.  Christmas lay but ten days hence, and Mr. Fogarty would arrive no later than that.  Edith would doubtlessly strive to influence her Papa to Flora's disadvantage.  Ponder though she might, Flora could conceive of no stratagem to prepare for this inevitability, and concluded that she must simply wait, pray, and allow matters to unfold as they would.

    As for her stratagem regarding Lily, she reminded herself with a pang of anxiety, that would play out, however it played out, tomorrow in the great hall below.

    Edith made her ablutions, donned a clean flannel nightgown, and waited under her covers for Mama.  Miss Fields peered into her doorway at one point to ascertain that Edith lay indeed abed, then departed.  Miss Field's spanking had hurt, as always.  But Edith noticed the smarting from her nates fading rather faster than she recollected from previous such ordeals.   Miss Field must have dealt with her less severely this time than usual.  Nanny came in to offer her a candle and her book, but Edith waved her away.  She felt strangely calm.  One chance remained for her escape from the tyranny of Miss Field and the shadow of her governess's punishing palm: Papa in person. 

    "When Papa comes," she thought, "I shall sit on his lap on Christmas Day and I shall throw my arms about his neck and I shall kiss him and I shall call him 'Papa Dearest.'  Then I shall ask him for a new governess for Christmas and he shall surely say Yes!"

    Her door opened and Edith recognised Mama's silhouette.  Neither spoke as the woman seated herself upon Edith's bedside.  A moment passed.

    "Edith darling, I'm sorry Miss Field had to punish you.  But you were so exceedingly naughty at dinner that I daresay you left her no choice.  Whatever possessed you to behave as you did?"

    Edith knew that Mama, who plainly valued Miss Field's companionship, would certainly disapprove of Edith's attempt to get Papa to sack her. But if Papa have taken Edith's side, Mama wouldn't have gone against him, Edith knew.  But Papa had...  Edith felt her lump swelling once again in her throat.  Papa had... had ignored Edith's pleas entirely, not deemed them worthy even of acknowledgement and a curt dismissal. 

    "Edith?" came Mama's voice, some hardness having crept in, "When your Mama asks you a question, she expects a prompt answer."

    "Yes Mama," she replied automatically.  The lump in her throat continued to swell until Edith surrendered to tears.  Mama drew her close and soothed her, repeating, "don't cry darling."  Edith's ache from Papa's slighting of herself felt less acute while she cried about it, especially with Mama's arms about her.  And Edith's tears also shielded her, for the moment, from answering Mama's question.

    Once her tears had exhausted themselves, Mama released her to lay back again on her pillow, hoping Mama wouldn't continue to probe.  But probe Mama did.  Again she asked Edith to account for her inopportune departure from dinner and for the precise nature of that "more" she'd anticipated in Papa's letter.  "I... I... I..." Edith paused.  "I just... miss Papa... so much," she said, weakly, her voice trailing off.  Unable to think of anything better, she hoped this would satisfy Mama.  Fortunately it did.  Mama gently assured her that Papa would come very very soon, kissed her good night, and took her leave.

    Alone in the darkness, Edith strove to think happy thoughts lest her mind return to Papa's letter and what it had said - or more precisely, what it hadn't said.  Fortunately, with Christmas drawing near, happy topics abounded.  "What will Father Christmas bring me?  Shall I have the pony I asked for?"  Edith imagined herself feeding a carrot to her very own pony, then commanding the stablemaster to saddle up... "what shall I name him?"  After several minutes she'd narrowed it down to Pegasus, Legend, or
Neptune, but couldn't decide further and elected to table the matter for later reflection.  She then imagined herself trotting the length and breadth of Wippinham's park astride her-  "Oh! But shall Mama permit me to ride astride?  The mill owner's daughters do, but the vicar's daughters must ride sidesaddle.  Mama mightn't think it proper for me.  But I should so adore to ride astride!  Perhaps if I asked Papa first he-."  Papa.

    Edith quickly shifted to the topic of tarts.  Mama let her choose which kind of tart Cook must prepare every Christmas dinner.  "Which shall I choose?  Maids of Honour tart?"  No, not sweet enough.  "Oh!  Shall I choose treacle tarts with clotted cream?  Or Manchester tarts spread with raspberry jam and... and... covered with custard filling and topped with flakes of coconut!"  She weighed Gypsy tarts with muscovado, but found them wanting when compared to Bakewell tarts with frangipane custard.

    By now Edith's nates had ceased to smart disagreeably and were merely pleasantly warm.  Her limbs had relaxed and her eyes closed as she plumbed the vaults of her memory for the very best tart of all.  Soon her mind's eye filled with Christmas dinner: roast goose with chestnut stuffing!, venison!, perhaps roast swan with veal stuffing!  And gingerbread! and figgy pudding! and sugar plums (of course!) and nesselrode pudding! and-

    Edith spun herself full circle in the midst of the great hall marveling at the tree festooned with lit candles and decorations, the heaps of brightly wrapped gifts, and then through the entryway came- "Papa!" 

    As she ran to embrace him she saw him leading her beautiful, perfect new pony with an enormous red ribbon round its neck and a label reading "To Papa's little Princess."  She leaped into his arms and he spun her around as he embraced her. "Oh Papa!  I missed you so much!"

    He sat down and Edith landed on his lap, paying little mind to the fact that they were somehow now in Papa's study redolent with the aroma of his pipe tobacco, rather than the great hall.  Throwing her arms around his neck and kissing him, Edith gushed, "Dearest Papa, may I have just one more thing for Christmas?  Miss Field, my governess-"

    "Say no more!" roared Papa jovially.  "I made no mention in my letter because I wanted this for my little Princess's special Christmas surprise!  By Act of Parliament Miss Field is clapped in irons and on a ship to America as I speak.  In her stead, I have already chosen her replacement - a woman of great experience who comes highly recommended.  She has been governess to members of the aristocracy, including the Countess Reddend!"

    "The Countess Reddend's governess?? Papa wait! Please I-"

    But Papa had vanished.  Now Edith stood in her schoolroom looking into the yellowed, dead eyes of an ugly, wizened old woman.  Dressed entirely in funereal black, her deeply-wrinkled face had long ago frozen into a cruel, angry frown.  She smelled strongly of potpourri and moldy cheese.   "Stand up straight!  Chin up!" barked the woman, bending over to within inches of Edith's face, "I will not countenance you regarding me in that attitude!"

     The odor of a dead cow lain a week in the hot sun filled Edith's nostrils, and before she could check herself, she blurted, "your breath stinks!"

    "Such insolence!" roared the ancient crone in a tone which made Edith tremble, "Eight hours locked in the dark closet for you my girl!" she added.  Beside them appeared a dank closet festooned with webs each administered by a frightfully large and menacing spider.

    "Please Miss! May I first visit the water closet??"

    "NO YOU MAY NOT!  And when your term of confinement has passed, should I discover you have soiled yourself, you will receive-" suddenly she drew forth from behind her back an ominous bundle of twigs and thrust them before Edith's eyes, "THE BIRCH!"

    In horror, Edith imagined that dreadful implement lashing and lashing and lashing her delicate nether flesh until blood ran.  "Up with you now, my pet, and don’t be a slugabed" cooed the hideous old woman, incongruously speaking in Nanny’s dulcet tones.

    "Let's get you up and scrubbed clean and into one of your best frocks," added Nanny kindly as Edith's eyes opened.  Edith sat up in bed.  Early morning light peeped through the night nursery window.  "Your Mama wants you looking your very best for all those grand folk who'll be visiting today for her charity auction."




<--- Chapter 13             Chapter 15 --->

(c) Copyright 2024 by HandPrince
This is fiction. Please don't discipline
your children this way.

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