Upon our return that afternoon we learned that papa was to absent himself for a week. He was off to Paris, it seemed, upon business, and privately I had no doubt he was being dispatched there. Perhaps Sarah thought the same for she looked querulous. Little as we saw of him, yet she looked upon him in some way as her protector and thus asked him what he was to do there.
Being all seated in the drawing-room and drinking tea, we were at ease. Papa looked very smart, I thought, in a white ruffled shirt and cravat and black trousers that had a broad silk seam down each side in the military fashion.
'Why, Paris is a city of wicked ladies,' our stepmother laughed and looking at him asked, 'Is it not true?'
He blushed faintly and looked, I thought, disturbed. Sarah bit her lip and clearly considered that such a remark should not have been made, but nothing missed our stepmother's ever-watchful eye. Having finished her tea she plucked a peach from a cut glass bowl that stood upon a table at the side of her chair and rolled it in her hand, so drawing our attention to it in the silence that followed. As many peaches do, it had a cleft in it which her thumb gently rubbed.
'How smooth it is and how round,' she murmured. I held my breath. Sarah shifted in her chair. Women have a fine intuition for things not said or perhaps about to be said. Robert appeared uneasy, got up and with a mumbled excuse went out, more I believe to the relief of Sarah than myself. 'Do you know what it reminds me of?' we were asked and our stepmother extended her palm so that the peach stood as if in waiting upon it with the cleft - which I must say looked wickedly naughty and symbolic - pointing towards us.
No one answered. It was as though we were on a pinpoint of time and the room was very hushed. Papa opened a silver casket, rustled within and drew out a cigarette, though he smoked rarely. As if by deliberation she waited until he had struck a lucifer and lit it. The blue smoke coiled up silently.
'Do you not know?' she teased, and Sarah clenched her hands. 'Why, it is like your bottom, Sarah, so perfectly rounded, so smooth, the cheeks so prettily parted and yet not.'
'AH-OH!' exclaimed Sarah almost as if she had been bitten and jumped up and ran out as fast as a cat might when disturbed by a sudden loud noise.
'My dear!' Papa quavered.
'Why? What have I said?' Step-mama taunted. 'William, you have not seen... 'And then she paused. I knew the meaning of her pause.
'I must see to my crochet work,' I blurted and followed Sarah out, but she having gone upstairs all in a flash I loitered by the door.
'The poor girl, you have dismayed her terribly,' I heard papa say, though weakly I thought.
'Oh hush, as I was about to say, my pet, you have not seen her bottom. Perhaps a peach is not a good comparison - a polished apple might be better, the skin polished and smooth.'
'I say, really!'
'The boldness of its protruberance! What a pert thrust it has, though perhaps no less than Clara's. Why, that dear child's embonpoint is perfectly exquisite - a mere tickle of it and she jerks and laughs, so merry is her pleasure to be fondled there. As to Sarah, her silly pride disdains an affectionate fingering round her nether globe and yet she trembles not a little when...'
'P-p-perfectly improper,' I heard Papa declare and then he uttered a little gasp.
'Like silk, my pet, or velvet. Her thighs are warm and fulsome, and such a bush between as springs against the hand and tickles up the palm as does a tuft of grass.'
'J-J-Julia, I beg you...'
'Is it not nice when I tease it so, William? How stiff you have become and that is very naughty of you. I trust you will not disport yourself so in Paris, for you know my wrath in such matters. I can be very cold to you, my love, if I choose. You are keeping these dear receptacles full for me, are you not, when next I choose to empty them.'
'Ah dear God, how you taunt me so!'
'She wears garters of pink today, William. Very tight about her thighs they are. The frill of her chemise barely covers her tuft. Ah, do I make it quiver thus or is it the thought of it?'
'We sh-should not t-t--talk thus, my dear.'
'Your foreskin is so taut by now I can barely move it! Hand me your kerchief. Shall I make it bubble? Restless she lies in bed at nights, her nightdress full drawn up about her hips, her legs atwist and bottom bumping. By morn her sheet is creased and moist. Do you not think that the effluvium which emanates from a proud young girl on heat is quite delicious? Stop it, you bad thing, you must not come. You know I forbid it.'
'Why, my pet, you are stuttering! What agitations!'
'L-l-let me! Oh, I beg you!'
'Most certainly not, William. Your mind is clearly overheated with wicked visions. Sit still, I tell you, for I am removing my hand. We shall discourse upon your return. I shall expect to find you in as fine fettle then as I do now. Fasten your trousers lest you disgrace yourself. Would you present yourself to Clara so, should she return?'
'Wh-what imp-impossible thoughts you have, Julia!'
'And what nonsense you talk, dear William. How can they be impossible if I have uttered them? Logic should be arranged as neatly as cups and saucers on a dresser, should it not?'
'You b-b-bewitch me and dismay me and...'
'Excite you? Did you not believe me when I said that Sarah has a delicious bottom, and Clara as well?'
I crept away. My ears burned, my face was full flushed. Running up to my room I doused my face in clear cool water from the bowl upon my marble washstand. The laving of the water settled me a little. Not only had I heard but I had envisaged her stroking of him as she had stroked dear Robert. Her power it seemed was infinite, her sway over Papa complete. Yet he had not admonished her for it as strongly as he might. Thus I realised and thus did I contemplate. He was but putty in her hands. There was but one ruler of the household now, and she the one whose lips I longed to taste. Would she know that I had listened? It seemed to me that she knew all. Upon coming to me later and seeing to my appearance, she gave no hint of it.
'Your papa will depart in the morning. There will be visitors,' she said mysteriously.
'Are they nice?' I wished to ask, but the question would have sounded foolish.
'They are not known to you but soon will be, Clara, as also to your sister and brother. I have decided on a course other than I first set myself. I shall inculcate both you and Sarah by example.'
At that I pouted, for it seemed to me that she was treating me more as a mere beginner. I told her then of my conversation my sister in the bathroom, whereat her eyes shone.
'Do you think I take you for a sillikins, a muff? I know you not to be. You set the finest of examples. Better however for the moment that Sarah and Robert do not think us both in league. Though we are, we not?'
'Oh yes! What will happen? Who are the visitors?'
'A young lady and her guardian, my dear. They come by close and secret invitation. She is not unlike Sarah in appearance, nor as I understand in her ways. Bertha will assist in all. I have but a week to prepare the maiden who is called Clarissa. Her guardian will say little to you. I wish you not to speak to him.'
'To keep him in his place?'
'How quick you are! You will not be dismayed by what you see, I know. Sarah may be difficult, but I will deal with her accordingly. If I have to deal with them together...' She paused, then added quietly, 'It may be necessary, of course.'
'All right,' I said quickly and felt with an upsurge of excitement that she was in part seeking my permission.
'Very well, then. You know I will bring Sarah to no harm. It is for her good -- and yours.'
'Yes,' I replied dutifully.
Sarah, of course, being all put out, would not speak to her and avoided dear Papa until the moment of his leaving which seemed to worry our stepmother not a whit. She had made herself look lovelier than ever in a cream gown of some daring dishabille with such a plunging neckline as almost made her nipples peek above the lace and caused a dull flush to appear on Robert's cheeks at every wobbling of her tits. Of the visitors, she said nothing to my brother and sister and so their surprise was the greater when at precisely three that afternoon a carriage rolled up the drive and there deposited them both.
All introductions being effected, I observed both closely. Clarissa had indeed the same figure as Sarah, though being even more patrician in her features. Calmly as she held herself I sensed her inner tensions, as I did those of her guardian, a large quiet man of middling years whose voice ran deep upon the few occasions that he spoke. Clarissa looked slightly bewildered and sought to sit near Sarah, but my stepmother placed herself deftly between them and spoke of everything other than that which I guessed was on her mind.
Wine having been dispersed and drunk by all, my stepmother after half an hour rose, smoothed down her gown in such a manner that all eyes fastened on her and said to the guardian, whose name perhaps was Harold (for I have since learned that identities are oft disguised), 'Shall we go up?'
At that, Clarissa appeared to grip the arms of her chair but was gently prised into a standing position.
'My husband's study will be best,' opined my stepmother who then led the way while Robert and Sarah sat in wonderment. I hesitated, but then in the doorway she turned to me. 'You may come - as chaperone,' she laughed. Two pairs of eyes followed me as I went out. Clarissa cleared her throat. A faint flush appeared on her smooth cheeks and she gathered up her skirts delicately as we ascended. The door to the study being open, my stepmother led the way in and closed the door, giving me a nod as an indication that I should take my seat on a couch, which I did. The desk was of mahogany and a wide one. It was a room I entered rarely, for its bookshelves then interested me not, imposing as they looked.
'Clarissa, you look very sweet. Come and stand by me,' my stepmother said, seating herself in Papa's chair which had a round back and swivelled all about.
Hesitantly the young woman did so and thus faced her guardian over the barrier of the desk. My stepmother then most unexpectedly looked across at me and asked, 'When did I last cane you, Clara?'
'Oh, I - er - three days ago, or four perhaps,' I stumbled, having been caught quite unawares.
'Are you the better for it now?' I was asked. 'Yes,' came out like a little bolting rabbit so that she laughed, half turned and looked up at Clarissa, asking, 'And when were you?'
Clarissa blushed to her eyebrows. 'Oh, I have not been!' she answered, shocked.
My stepmother made a tut-tutting sound and turning to Harold asked, 'Have you not been lax with her?' As she spoke she raised the arm that was just behind Clarissa, swept her hand up the backs of her thighs and gently tested the firm globe of her bottom so that the young woman jerked.
'I have- er - tried,' stammered her guardian.
'You have removed her drawers?'
The question came so smoothly that it seemed a long interval passed before Clarissa uttered a shocked 'Oh!' and went more pink than ever.
'Do be quiet, please,' my stepmother urged her gently and then deliberately circled her hand about the girl's bottom, feeling no doubt its warmth and silkiness.
'There. . there were objections,' he stammered.
'From you? From you, Clarissa?' was uttered by my stepmother in astonishment. 'Have you not let him put you over? Do you fear the cane? Would you prefer the birch or strap? Have you been mishandled? Is that the truth of it?'
'Madam I never... ' began Harold but was quieted by a steely glance and the words, 'She will answer for herself.' All the while her palm circled as if reverently and appeared to calm Clarissa a little though I would have sworn she wished to move.
'It is r-r-rude,' she stuttered and tried to gaze everywhere but at her guardian.
'Rude?' my stepmother echoed in amazement. 'All young ladies - at least those of comely forms and merit - must be put up to it before your age. Come, dear, let me see your drawers.'
'Oh, I beg you no! Not in front of him!'
A perfect flurry ensued. I sat as still as a stick insect which pretends to be a twig. Clarissa made a wild dash around the desk, my aunt [sic] crying 'Hold her!' which her guardian did. Head down and back bent, she struggled fiercely, but his strength being much the greater, with the fierce flush of his excitement in his face he had her bent full over on the desk the while that my stepmother, getting up, gripped the nape of Clarissa's neck in steely grasp.
'Leave her. I have her,' she snapped at him, whereupon he took several paces back, his complexion unpleasantly florid and a certain bulge making itself to be seen already in his trousers. Then, clicking her thumb and finger at me as though I were but a servant (such was her manner to be at times), she commanded me crisply, 'Uncover her.'
Have I need to detail Clarissa's plaintive cries? She sobbed, expostulated, all but swore indeed as, crouching down, I took her gown and underskirt and raised them with a flourish to her hips. At that she screamed wildly, but by clamping her free hand over her mouth and keeping her head pressed down, my stepmother suppressed her cries and, bending slightly back, observed the beauty I already saw. Or I should use perhaps the plural. Clarissa's white drawers were quite thin and so moulded themselves to the outswelling of her half-moons, delineating each and crumpling tightly into her groove. The pink ribbons of her drawers hung loose and prettily as oftimes is the case. Withal her ruffled garters, too, were pink - a colour much affected by young ladies, for it shows off well the white silk of their stockings. Her thighs swelled up, all richly creamed. Not a mole or other flaw showed upon her milk-smooth skin, the whole bulge of her derriere being most enchanting.
'Oh my God, I shall die from this!' moaned she.
'Stuff and nonsense! Why should he not see your bottom and put it to a tingling of occasion? Have you not been tupped by some young gallant, eh?'
'I know not what you mean, I know not!'
'Nary a hand, Madam, so far as I know.'
Unwisely the guardian had interjected. He had not been invited to speak. My stepmother's eyes flashed.
'Can you be sure? Very well, you shall have a glimpse of it and then you will retire, sir, if you please, and join my son and daughter in the drawing-room again.'
'NO!' came a muffled shriek from Clarissa. Her hips waggled madly, which could have done nothing but urge on the gentleman's fairly stiff condition. My stepmother held her tight, however, and my fingers were already busy. Perhaps my eagerness to see her well-cleft orb was little less than his.
'AH-HAH-HAAAR! NO!' sobbed Clarissa in despair but it was already far too late. Deftly I peeled them down and smoothed them to her knees. The fig of her quim peeped out, much nursed by curls. Her bum - for it is just occasionally a sweet word to be used - was pure perfection, larger by an inch or two than one expected, and the gleaming pallor of its cheeks gave way to a faint gingerly hue where the hemispheres inrolled. I longed to palpitate them with my fingertips, which I felt tingling for the task.
'I shall die!' came from Clarissa again, though the words were just to be distinguished.
She was, of course, ignored. 'You may go,' my stepmother observed coldly to her guardian whose eyes were hot with wonder and with lust. He turned stiffly away, as well he might in his condition. At the door his gaze faltered and returned to the ardent moon of his desiring, a sight which I do not doubt, he had waited years to have revealed to him. His fingers groped for the handle, for he seemed blind to all but the sight of his ward's naked bottom. My stepmother shook her head impatiently at him and a dull cast came upon his features as he exited.
'Beneath the cushion on the armchair seat you will find a paddle, Clara. Take it out,' I was told.
Until then I had thought of paddles as merely instruments for propelling a boat along. What I soon found myself clasping was something not unlike a tennis bat but with the round part made of heavy leather.
'Now, my pet, attend to her bottom well with it,' my stepmother and I stepped back half a pace behind Clarissa, my palms not a little moist with excitement, to better judge my distance. A certain awkwardness obtained in my first using of the implement but upon meeting the girl's refulgent, bulging cheeks it made a most resounding SPLATT!