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The months rolled on; spring and summer had passed, and it was again autumn. I had divided my time pretty equally between Oakhurst and St. John's Wood, and altogether I had managed to amuse myself in a satisfactory manner.
Accompanied by Ford, I had paid several more visits to Mrs. Leslie's establishment; on each occasion seeing a fresh selection of tableaux; some of the whipping scenes being exceedingly quaint, as the actresses were dressed and coloured to represent quadroon slave girls.
And one afternoon, much to Ford's delight - and to my own, I must confess - we saw the little girl Ethel, who had committed some offence, birched in reality by Mrs. Leslie. There was no tableau arranged on that occasion; and the punishment was inflicted in the "whipping room" of the establishment, a large apartment situated at the top of the house.
It was well furnished, and thickly carpeted, and there were large mirrors on the walls, which, as well as the door and windows, were draped with heavy tapestry; and it contained everything that could possibly be required by the most enthusiastic votary of the rod.
There were cushioned "horses," and sloping benches; long and short ladders; whipping blocks, and posts with rings for securing the victim's wrists and ankles. And, hanging in rows on the tapestry covered walls, were birch rods of all sizes, whips of various kinds, leathern tawse, straps of all lengths and breadths, and flat, round, wooden "spankers," with long handles.
No one was present but Ford and myself, and when we had taken our seats, Mrs. Leslie quickly tied the whimpering young culprit by her wrists and ankles, over one of the flogging blocks; and in another moment, her short petticoats were up, and her drawers were down. Then Mrs. Leslie gave her twelve smart cuts with a small, but stinging birch rod, reddening and wealing her plump, little white bottom all over, and making her squeal shrilly.
As Mrs. Leslie was skilled in the use of the rod, she had handled it in a most graceful way; so that altogether it had been a pretty little whipping, and Ford was so much excited that he sent for his favourite Rose and took her off at once to a bedroom.
I, however, managed to restrain myself that day. But on two other occasions when I had been more than usually excited by the lascivious play of the girls, I gave one of them a poke; but I did not enjoy either of them much, and I always returned with increased zest to Frances, to whom I had been faithful, with those exceptions.
We got on together very well; she never bothered me, and she was as loving as ever; but with all her love, I think she stood a little in awe of me; which perhaps was only natural, as she had always been so completely under my authority ever since the day I had first picked her up: moreover, I was nearly sixteen years older than she was. Anyhow, she appeared to consider herself still subject to discipline; and therefore, on the rare occasions when she offended me, I did not hesitate to spank her soundly. She never remonstrated, but would place herself in any position I told her; and sometimes I made her let down her own drawers, and raise her own petticoats to receive her punishment, which she always took in a most submissive manner, though I generally spanked her till she cried with pain. She did not like it, but I did!
However, she never showed any signs of anger; and when the smart had passed off, she would fasten up her drawers, wipe the tears from her eyes, and sit down quietly in a chair. In fact, she seemed to be more affectionate to me just after I had given her a good spanking. There really seems to be some truth in the saying, that: "A woman, a dog, and a walnut tree, the more you beat them, the better they'll be."
She was fond of music and had practised diligently, so that she had become a very fair player, and she had also taken a fancy for painting in water colours: so that with her piano, and her paint-box, and her books, she always contrived to amuse herself during my absences.
The time passed; and as I had promised to take Frances abroad that winter, I asked her, at the beginning of December, what part of the continent she would most like to visit.
She at once chose Italy; for since she had taken to painting she was always longing to see the picture galleries in Rome and Florence. So a few days afterwards, on a raw, cold December afternoon, we left London, which was looking dreary and wretched, and began our journey to the "sunny South".
From the moment we got on board the steamer at Dover to cross the channel, Frances was in a state of exuberant delight; everything being so perfectly new and strange to her. And it amused me very much to watch the girl's unaffected pleasure at all she saw, as we made our way by slow stages to Rome. I had been there before and had "done" the place pretty well; but I enjoyed going over the ground again with an intelligent companion like Frances, who, though she was very like a child still in many ways, was thoroughly interested in all the antiquities of the 'Eternal City". And as she had been reading up Roman history she had got to know more than I did about the Pantheon, the Coliseum, the Baths of Caracalla, and all the other celebrated ruins.
From Rome we went to Florence, where we "did" the Florentine and Uflizi galleries, to the intense delight of Frances, whose nature was more artistic than mine; for I sometimes got tired of the pictures. However, I did not like to check the girl's enthusiasm, so we wandered through the galleries and museums, Frances hanging on to my arm, with a rapt look on her face, her cheeks pink, and her eyes shining with pleasure. The pictures never seemed to pall on her.
Then we went to Venice, which was a fresh delight to her: and she was never tired of going about in a gondola with me on the beautiful moonlight nights. The gondolier could not see us, so she used to sit on my knees and recite bits of Byron to me, and I sometimes poked her as she sat on my lap. It was very romantic and delicious to "have" my pretty sweetheart in a gondola, on a canal, in Venice, on a balmy Italian night.
We visited Naples, and the south of Italy, and finally we went to Nice, where I intended to stay for some time, as I wanted to have a little play at Monte Carlo.
I took a suite of rooms at a good hotel, and we settled down to make ourselves at home for a bit after our wanderings. The hotel was full of people of all nationalities; and my "wife" and I soon made a number of acquaintances, both male and female, but chiefly male; for Frances quite eclipsed all the other women in the hotel, and they were rather jealous of her. She certainly was far prettier, and was always more tastefully dressed than any one of them; though there were some "smart" American girls staying in the house.
The men were all very attentive to my "wife," and I soon saw that she was extremely fond of admiration, which, after all, was not to be wondered at. She knew she was a beautiful woman, and she had hitherto hardly ever spoken to any man but me; therefore, when she suddenly found herself surrounded by a number of admirers, her head was a little turned.
We went to picnics, and made up parties for drives in the country, and on all occasions Frances had a lot of young men dangling after her, and she quickly developed a talent for flirting that would have done credit to a fashionable young lady who had gone through half a dozen London seasons. I could see however, that her flirtations were quite innocent, and were merely due to her natural feminine desire to attract men to her side. And it rather amused me, to see the girl whom I had brought up, and who would at any moment submit to a spanking from me, surrounded by a circle of swell admirers. However, as I did not wish her to be too pronounced in her manner, I spoke to her quietly, telling her that I had no objection to her amusing herself with a little flirtation; but that she must be more careful in many respects, or she would get herself talked about by the other women.
She was very much surprised at what I said; for in her complete ignorance of the spitefulness of her own sex, she had never thought that they would have taken any notice of her harmless flirtations. She also said that she had erred entirely through ignorance, and because she was so unaccustomed to having a lot of men about her; and she promised to be more careful in future.
She kept her promise for a few days, then she appeared to forget all about my warning, and carried on as before in a perfectly open and innocent way. I occasionally took her over to Monte Carlo, and giving her a sum of money, let her try her luck at the tables, much to her delight, as she was fond of gambling, like all her sex.
But she always lost her money in a very short time, and then she would come to me for more in the coolest way. I, myself, had an occasional run of luck, and on the whole I came off a winner, but not of much; for I am not a gambler, though I like now and then to have a go at the tables. So the days went on, and Frances amused herself with her admirers; but I saw that one of them, named Brooke, a handsome young Englishman about twenty-five years old, had attached himself to my sweetheart more closely than I liked. And she seemed fond of his company.
I was quite sure that the girl had not the slightest idea of anything wrong, but I felt pretty sure that the man meant mischief; therefore I determined to let Frances know that I disapproved of her being so much with young Brooke.
It was a beautiful afternoon, so I told her I wished her to come for a walk with me, and she at once put on her hat, and we left the hotel. I took her to the seashore where we sat down on the warm, dry sand under the lee of a large rock, which hid us from the sight of every one. The scene was a lovely one; in front of us stretched the perfectly calm sapphire sea, dotted here and there with the white sails of yachts, or coasting craft; behind us, fringing the sands on which we sat, were a number of oleanders, and a few scattered palms; while further inland, rose the purple mountains.
"Frances," I said, "you must not go about so much with Mr. Brooke. I know you do not mean any harm; but I do not like his being so constantly in your company. Moreover people are beginning to talk."
She took my hand, and looked up in my face, with her clear blue eyes. "Oh, what a shame it is for people to talk about Mr. Brooke and me! I like him better than all the other men; for he is so nice. But you don't suppose I love him as I do you, Charley," she said, nestling close up to me, and pressing her rosy mouth to mine in a long kiss.
"I believe you love me best, Frances; and I have perfect confidence in you; but I expect you to obey me. You must not allow Brooke to follow you about in the way he does."
She earnestly assured me that she would in future keep the young man at a distance; so I kissed her, and then we took a walk through the lovely country lanes. We wandered, hand in hand like lovers, between hedgerows of fuchsias and roses, passing trellises of vines covered with bunches of purple grapes; and skirting gardens of orange trees, laden with golden fruit, finally reaching the hotel just in time to dress for the table d'hôte dinner.
Next day, I took her to Monte Carlo, where we spent several hours very pleasantly, dining at a hotel, and in the evening playing a little at the tables.
A week passed, and I was pleased to see that though Frances still flirted a little with her admirers, she no longer allowed Brooke to monopolise her company. I was quite satisfied with her, and so the time slipped away quietly.
But unfortunately the quietness did not last. Brooke had evidently taken a violent fancy to Frances, so he was always trying to get her by herself.
Then, after a few more days, I noticed that she again allowed him to be constantly with her; and, much to my annoyance, I often saw the other women shrug their shoulders, and look scornfully at her.
And one night after dinner, she sat in the dusk, out in the veranda with Brooke for such a long time, that I got quite angry; but not wishing to make a scene, I went away to our sitting-room, fully intending, when she came in, to give her a bit of my mind, and something more.
In about a quarter of an hour, she came into the room; and though I was feeling very much annoyed, I could not help admiring the lovely girl. She was dressed in some arrangement of silk and lace, that fell in a filmy cloud about her graceful figure; every part of her attire being perfect in fit and taste. Her cheeks had a delicate pink colour like the petals of a rose; and her beautiful white arms and shoulders were bare; she was smiling, and her big blue eyes were dancing with merriment. She sat down on a chair, and stretching out her little feet looked at the tips of her smart shoes, saying: "Oh, Charley, Mr. Brooke has been amusing me so much!"
"Yes," I said, angrily, "you appear to have been enjoying yourself with the young man. You know I told you not to let him talk to you so much. Why do you permit it?"
"Oh, don't speak so crossly to me. I can't help his admiring me, and speaking to me."
"No. But you need not flirt with him so openly. You have been most imprudent; and you are making me ridiculous. I am very angry with you; and I am going to give you a sound spanking. Perhaps that will make you more careful in your behaviour. You don't seem to mind what I say to you.
Her face fell, and her eyes filled with tears. "Oh! how cruel you are!" she exclaimed. "I have been feeling so happy all the evening; and I did not think I was doing anything wrong in talking to Mr. Brooke. Oh! please don't spank me!"
"Yes, I will," I said. "And what is more; I will spank you again if I catch you flirting with Brooke."
She sobbed, and looked at me appealingly; but I was unmoved.
"Let down your drawers; pull up your clothes, and lie down upon the sofa," I said sternly.
For the first time, she did not at once obey my order.
Clasping her hands, she said tearfully: "Oh, it does seem hard that a woman of my age should be spanked like a child."
"You behave in many ways like a child. You require discipline. Now prepare yourself for punishment; and lie down, at once."
The big tears began to trickle down her cheeks, and she heaved a deep sigh; but, without another word, she put both her hands under her clothes and unfastened her drawers; then gathering all her dainty skirt up above her waist, she extended herself at full length upon the sofa. Holding her down with my left arm across her loins, I began to spank her smartly; the tears streamed down her cheeks, and she whimpered, moaned, and wriggled with pain under the stinging slaps, which, as they fell on her fine rebounding flesh, sounded like pistol shots. But she bore her punishment with fortitude, never once screaming, nor did she attempt to get away; and when I stopped spanking her, after laying on a couple of dozen smacks, her beautiful bottom was fiery red.
I let her rise, and she pulled up her drawers, fastened the strings round her waist, and wiped her eyes with a filmy, lace-trimmed handkerchief. Then, after a moment she came to me, and held up her little, red mouth, saying: "I am sorry I offended you. But I promise to be more careful in future."
I kissed the dear girl's fragrant mouth; then we went to bed, and in a few moments she was again wriggling her bottom; but this time it was with pleasure; not with pain.
After this little incident, we remained a fortnight longer in Nice.