Southey flipped the latch and cast the lid of the old wooden chest open. The contents had been the most treasured possessions his late grandmother. Now it was all that he had left.
A shallow shelf greeted him, contain a dress that hadn’t been worth in a decade, the folder of legal documents relating to his portion of her estate and a well worm bible. Nothing of any actual value, he thought to himself as he wiggled the shelf free.
Setting aside the top shelf, he dug deeper, in hopes of finding some long lost treasure. Below he found half a dozen books, a music box and jewelry box. The jewelry box contained nothing more than a few old brass rings and a chain with silver cross. The cross might be worth something he thought to himself. carefully placing it in his vest pocket.
Setting the jewelry box on the floor, he next went for the music box. It was Swiss made, and even though he estimated it to be twice his age, with a turn of the handle it sprang to life. A gentle melody filled his small office with it’s mechanical tones.
Southey looked back into the box, hoping to find something of real value in the books. The first book was the ledger from his grandfather’s business while the second was a hymnal. The third book held some promise though. It had been a journal with wrote in a woman’s hand. Maybe it contained some secret family wealth, he thought wishfully.
I need to confess that I have lived a lie for many years. One day when, I’ve been laid to rest, I want you to know the truth, and not the story I have told you all many times.”
The rest of the page contained line upon line faded into obscurity by age, and a light dose of water. He flipped through a the pages until he found one not damaged by the water and continued reading.
The snow started with the first rays of morning. Having traveled all night, the potential of an incoming storm scared me. A gusting wind from the north joined the snow, removing potential from the situation. The road I traversed offered little protection to the biting shards of iciness already piercing through my shawl. I knew I had to find shelter or I’d surely die in the coming storm.
I made the top of the hill to spot a river cutting across the valley with small farm house situated on it’s near banks. Shelter at last, I thought and used everything I had to reach the house before it disappeared into the white abyss.
I reached the barn first, where a heifers and chickens could be heard inside. I hadn’t seen anyone at the house during my trek from the road, but livestock meant the farm wasn’t abandoned. I continued on, trekking through the slowly building snow drifts.
I tried the handle but the door wouldn’t budge. Knocking and yelling brought no one either. The few low windows had their curtains pulled tightly shut, preventing me from seeing anything. A small window to the left of the door, and about an arm’s length above my head lacked the concealment of its colleagues.
Below the window, a rocking chair made a makeshift step-stool. The seat creaked under my weight as I peered into the house. I could see a gentle fire going in the fireplace with a large pot suspended in the center. Inside looked warm and cozy. I tried knocking on the window pane, but still there was no sign of life inside. I tried again, this time with more force. The second set shifted the window frame as it rotated slightly around a central axis. Wedging my numb fingers under the bottom of the frame, I pulled outwards, swinging the whole frame upwards. My face was greeted with a blast of warm air. I needed to get inside.
I took one last long glance around the field and when only snow was visible I decided I would have to crawl through the window. Not a very dignified prospect for a lady, but harsh times necessitated it.
At first I tried pulling myself through the window, but it was too high and I was too week to perform the aerobatic feet. I started climbing higher on the chair, placing a foot one armrest then another foot on the backrest. Both actions were rewarded with me getting more of my body into the window, but I couldn’t quite get through the threshold. I lowered my stance slightly then jumped as high as possible. Luckily I got my chest and stomach through the window, because the cracking that came from below implied I wouldn’t get another chance. A little wiggling and I tumbled forward into the warm confines of the house’s kitchen.
I laid on the kitchen floor for a few moments, wondering, hoping, someone would come find me. The floor felt considerably more comfortable that the barn I had slept in a day and a half ago. I seriously considered just falling a sleep, but a rumble in my gut said differently.
A large black pot suspended over fire was my first stop. Inside a slowly bubbling porridge looked so tasty. Two weeks ago I wouldn’t have even considered eating peasant food, but now, it looked spectacular. I scooped out a couple large portions into a clean looking bowl and grabbed a small wooden spoon.
“Eww!” I spit out the first bit of the semi-cooked porridge. It was a horrible mixture of hard oats and milk. I sat the bowl on the edge of the large pot so I could poke around in the pot and find any softer oats. No sooner had I picked up the ladle than the bowl toppled off the pot and into the fire. I cursed by bad luck. I could have put the porridge back into the pot and let it cook, because nothing in the pot was currently ready. Returning the lid, I went to scavenge for more food, or at least a better place to rest.
I found a small loaf of bread but nothing else was edible without some serious cooking. Ripping apart the bread into bite size chunks, I explored the rest of the house. The main floor consisted of a small salon type room and the kitchen. Upstairs was dividing into two bedrooms, a larger one with a broad bed and a smaller room with a smaller bed. A wardrobe stood in the corner of the smaller room, so I opened it out of curiosity. Inside were trousers and shirts of a small man and a stack of blankets. I pulled out the blankets and tossed them immediately on the bed. I needed the rest and the bed looked like a great place. Shedding my dress, I crawled beneath the blankets and settled in for a short sleep.
“HEY! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” a voice pierced through my dreams and pulled me back to reality. The young man stood over me for a moment before pulling back the layers of blankets to reveal my shift.
“How dare you!” I cried out, pulling a blanket to cover myself as I scampered into a standing position.
“You come into our house and make a mess of my room and you ask how dare I? How dare you!” He may have looked like a boy, but is voice echoed the depth only present in men.
I was taken back by the indignation of the accusation. No boy has ever spoke to me like that and got away with it. My anger overtook me and I slapped him. The look on his face told a progression of emotions from shock to puzzlement to anger.
“GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!” he bellowed at me, pointing towards the doorway.
“You can’t throw me out in that!” I pointed towards the lone window in the room, complete with snow piled high upon the window sill. “I’ll surely die!”
His head followed the direction of my fingers towards the window, then back at me, ending him shaking his head. “You are right. You can stay until my father returns and he’ll deal with you!”
“Fine!” I said, plopping down on the bed.
“In the meantime, clean this mess up,” the boy said as he turned to leave me alone. He had reached the doorway when he added under his breath, “And maybe he won’t take the strap to you.”
It took me a moment to comprehend what he had mumbled, and even then I did not want to understand it. “WHAT!” I yelled after him. I shuffled over towards the door to find him at the top of the stairs, “What do you mean strap to me?” I knew what it meant to my father, but this was the country, maybe it was something else. Hopefully it was something else.
He paused at the top of the stairs, pivoting on his heel to face me. “You come in uninvited, make a mess then have an uppity attitude about it. He would have taken the strap to my backside had I did that at your age.”
“My age?” I’m not sure why the slight of my age was what I took away from his statement, when the strap was much more important. “I’m your senior!”
He laughed at that statement. “You are, what, ten, twelve?”
I don’t know why, but I slapped him again for that comment. “I turned eighteen this summer. I was to be married before I left. So can’t talk to me, you child.”
I was just starting to berate him when he interrupted me, “With an attitude like that, no wonder you chased him away.”
I was taken back. I brought my hand up to slap him again but he was prepared, catching my wrist well clear of his cheek. “That is enough!”
The next thing I knew, he spun me around and delivered a half dozen firm swats to by bottom. “Ahhh, stop!” I screeched. His spanks were half-hearted, but the suddenness surprised me.
“You ain’t going to take that strap well if that’s your reaction to my hand.” He let of my wrist, allowing me turn back towards him.
He brought up that strap again. My cousins from Scotland had mentioned a strap during their last visit and warned me to watch out if my husband ever bought one. They feared it more than their mother’s hairbrush. It was not something I wanted to experience, especially from some strange man. Maybe I could trick this boy into not escalating the situation.
“Wait, I’m sorry, Please we do not need this disagreement to go any farther.”
“Disagreement?” he laughed. “After your attitude, you deserve to be firmly punished, and father will see to that.”
I bit my lower lip. It was clear, that he wanted me punished. He started to leave again, when I stopped him. “Wait, you are right. I should be punished, but it should be you. I offended you, so you should punish me.” I paused a moment to see if he’d bite but there was no reaction so I added, “I’ll bend over and you can spank my bottom with your hand and this doesn’t need to go any farther.”
He paused to contemplate my offer. I batted my eye lashes and tried to use all my feminine charms to persuade him this was the better route. The shift from hardened glare to reluctant smile was all the indication I needed. “Please?”
“Fine, but you’ll go over my lap,” he said.
Yes, I thought. A light spanking over my shift would be nothing. I would play up my distress of it with some thrashing and this backwoods boy would be none the wiser. “If I must,” I answered adding a slight pout.
He directed us back to his room and immediately took station on the end of his bed. I was guided over his lap and I settled into as comfortable of a position I could get. The shift had ridden up on the back to expose the back of my knees which caused some embarrassment, as well as a chill to run up my underclothes and dance across my lower thighs.
I laid there for quite some time without anything happening. I didn’t know if he was waiting for my acknowledgement or reassurance, but nothing happened. I guessed his emotions from a moment had already faded and he was wondering whether this was a good idea anymore. No matter, we waited in this odd position in simple, nerve-racking silence. I wanted him to get on with it, and I was about to express such when I heard a slight mumble coming from behind me.
Thap! I could have laughed at the meek attempt to spank me, but I knew better and foreigned a gentle cry of distress. This was going to be easier than I thought. His previous slaps to my backside were harder than this attempt.
He repeated the gentle tap with the other-side of my bottom and I complemented his meek efforts with another slight of distress. It took a few more taps before he started becoming more comfortable, thought barely any more forceful, with his spanks. The speed picked up, which I let him know was having a greater effect on me, even if his spanks felt more like a one-handed applause than anything my governess had dished out.
We continued our little dance for quite sometime, until my bottom felt like I had warmed it in front of nice fire and his arm was sore. I hadn’t really expected it to be this easy and actually became worried that I wouldn’t be able to fake some tears for him.
“OK, I think you’ve been punished enough.” he said, easing me up. Luckily his shyness saved me and he immediately turned me towards his back wall and got up and walked straight to the doorway. With his back to me he said, “Please get dressed and clean up my room. My parents should be back soon.”
By the time I could pick up the blanket and turn around he was gone. I smiled to myself at my good luck. I just wondered if his parents would be this easy to manipulate. Probably.
To be continued…